Editor's Note: This article contains heavy plot spoilers for the upcoming Cataclysm expansion. Read at your own risk!
In the heart of every player who has leveled a human character lies a special place for the gentle, rolling plains of Westfall. Despite the fallow fields and barren hills, the region has a sort of natural beauty to it that many players have found irresistible, making it a favorite for Alliance players. Given its high popularity and my own nostalgia for the zone, I was a bit worried when Cataclysm was announced. What would happen to the great zone? Would it be so radically changed that it no longer resembled what it once was? Would it go by mostly untouched, leaving it unused in the wake of more polished zones?
Fear not! The zone has retained its raw beauty and has received a number of much needed upgrades. The town of Sentinel Hill is now much more secure, with a large wall and greater defenses. The layout of the zone remains mostly the same, with the exception of the Raging Chasm. Once the Alexston Farmstead, this area is a swirling vortex of wind and dust, a remnant of the cataclysm. It adds a new feature to the skyline of Westfall, as it towers into the air at a distance that can be seen from any corner of the zone.
Who is the shadowy figure?
The investigation continues, sending players into the back of the Jangolode Mine to eavesdrop on a meeting between Glubtok (the foreman of the kobold miners) and a Shadowy Figure. The Figure offers Glubtok a chance to join her, with promises of wealth and power. Glubtok accepts, and the Figure promises to call for him when "the dawning" is upon them. Baffled, players return to the Pumpkin Patch (where there is now a flight point!).
Next, the player eavesdrops on a group of thugs who discuss a mysterious woman, who has sent Thug 2 to thank them for "the job that [they] did for her on the Furlbrows." They begin to ask Thug 2 if he saw her face, asking "Is it really ..." before being rudely interrupted by the player, who is then attacked. After dispatching them, players return to Horatio Laine, who sends them to Saldean's Farm.
Westfall Stew has survived the cataclysm! The Saldeans have players collect some ingredients and kill some Harvest Golems before sending them to Sentinel Hill to meet with Hope Saldean, their adoptive daughter. How sweet!
Moonbrook now has a small Alliance outpost and is not swarming with enemies, a godsend for players running into The Deadmines (still accessed through the building in the southwest area of the town). Players are asked to collect propaganda and find scraps of red cloth on aggressive thieves. If the memories aren't hitting you yet, don't worry. Players then eavesdrop on the final meeting between the Figure and the people, in which she rallies them against Stormwind.
The hidden player is revealed
Players rush back to Sentinel Hill and inform Gryan of this information. Gryan is shocked, but is interrupted by a nearby noise. At this point, Hope Saldean walks out of the tower and begins to speak to Gryan. I'll let their conversation speak for itself.
With the mystery of the Furlbrow's murder solved, players make it to King Wrynn, who agrees to send reinforcements to the region. But Sentinel Hill is already in flames. The Defias, reformed under Vanessa, have burned the city and retreated, and now the Brigade scrambles to recover what little has not yet burned down.Gryan says: I don't like this. Stay alert!
Hope walks out from the tower to Gryan.
Hope says: You bastards will burn for what you did.
Gryan says: Hope! Wha ...
Hope says: Hope? Is that what I was supposed to feel when I saw my father decapitated by your henchmen?
Hope says: Hope is a cruel joke, played upon us by a harsh and uncaring world. There is no Hope, there is only Vanessa. Vanessa VanCleef.
Hope sheds her disguise, revealing herself as Vanessa VanCleef!
Vanessa yells: RISE UP BROTHERHOOD! THE DAWNING DAY IS UPON US!
A large number of blackguards spawn around the friendlies.
Vanessa says: Tie them up.
Vanessa walks up to Ripsnarl, freeing him from the stock.
Vanessa says: Admiral, your hat.
Ripsnarl gains his human form.
Admiral Ripsnarl says: Thank you, my dear.
Vanessa says: And you ... I will spare your life. You have done much to help our cause, albeit unwittingly, but the next time we meet, it will be as enemies.
Laine says: Just tell me one thing, Vanessa.
Laine says: Why'd you have the Furlbrows killed?
Vanessa says: I had no choice, lieutenant. They recognized me. The only people in the world who even knew I existed, recognized my face from when I was an infant.
Vanessa says: I took no pleasure in their deaths.
Vanessa yells: Leave nothing but ashes in your wake, brothers! Burn Sentinel Hill to the ground!
The blackguards throw flares, setting Sentinel Tower alight.
Gryan says: Get to Stormwind. Tell King Wrynn everything. EVERYTHING! GO NOW!
Unfortunately, it is here that the quest chain ends. Stoutmantle sends players to Redridge, saying that he will call upon players again at some point in the future; three zones later, I have yet to receive word from him. I assume the quests continue inside The Deadmines, but I have yet to venture inside -- a spectacular, yet frustratingly abrupt end to a classic zone that is better than ever in the wake of Cataclysm.
Have you ever wanted to write for WoW Insider? Your chance may be right around the corner. Watch for our next call for submissions, and be sure to sign up for Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider. The next byline you see here may be yours!