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WoW Archivist: It's a secret to everybody -- the Linken quest line

Linken riding a horse

WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

In the original version of Un'goro Crater, players with a penchant for exploration and a keen eye could find a mysterious quest near a small pond. The first players to find it had no idea that they were embarking on one of vanilla's most epic and celebrated quest lines, and one of Blizzard's most elaborate easter eggs. The chain was a tribute to many of the key moments and tropes in the beloved Legend of Zelda series. It took you up and down Kalimdor multiple times to solve puzzles, forge magical weapons, face deadly enemies, and ultimately find the legendary Triforce Golden Flame.

Sadly, the Cataclysm erased the Linken quest line and it can no longer be completed. Let's relive the glory that was.

Wreck it, raft

Finding this quest early in vanilla was not simple. No quest took you to this area. No floating exclamation point marked it back then, either. To begin the quest line, you had to spot a clickable object called A Wrecked Raft.

The raft gave you the quest It's a Secret to Everybody. The quest name referenced the original Legend of Zelda game. An enemy moblin would sometimes offer you rupees, presumably in exchange for keeping their help a secret (to everybody).

Once you found the hidden quest from the raft, you were faced with another mystery. The quest text read,

A destroyed raft rests along the shoreline. Considering this is only a small pond, it is not clear as to how it ended up here, although looking at the trees tells you that the water level may not be constant.

Perhaps a little exploration in the area might uncover more clues...

By searching the pond, you eventually found A Small Pack sitting on the bottom. Finding the pack completed the quest and placed the pack in your ... pack. The pack contained four items. The Faded Photograph showed a picture of Linken and a female gnome (I'm going to call her Zeldar) standing in front of a castle. The other three items were all things that the real Link finds in dungeons: a Curled Map Parchment, a Large Compass, and a Lion-Headed Key. The photo could be vendored or even sold on the AH if you could find a buyer. The other three were quest items for the follow-up:

The faded photograph

Grabbing onto it, you pull the pack back to the shore. Perhaps if you examine the items inside the pack, you might find out more about who it belongs to.

There are a few stray travelers at Marshal's Refuge. Perhaps you might find out more there.

You ventured to the Refuge and found Linken there, suffering from amnesia:

You see, I have no idea how I ended up here. No one really knows -- it's a secret to everybody! I just can't seem to remember anything...

These items you brought to me, though... I am remembering something.

My sword. I am supposed to strengthen it somehow, but I'm really not sure why. Sorry I can't tell you more, but I just don't remember!

Anyhoo, I do know where you can take it -- Donova Snowden in Winterspring. You'll find her by the hot springs. She can temper the sword by the pools there.

The circumstances mirror the plot of the 1993 Game Boy game Link's Awakening, which begins with Link crashing his raft and losing his memory.

Grumble grumble

Linken took the items and gave you Linken's Training Sword. Just like in Zelda games, you were tasked with "powering up" his sword. And just like in every vanilla quest line that Archivist has covered so far, this one covered an insane amount of mileage. From Un'goro, you had to venture all the way to northern Kalimdor to find Donova.

But Donova couldn't temper the sword yet. She sent you all the way back down the continent to Feralas to find a dwarf with the unlikely name of Gregan Brewspewer. She needed him to make The Videre Elixir.

Gregan didn't have the materials to make the elixir, but at least the Evoroot he requested was local. The only problem was that he didn't really give any hints about where to find any. If you were diligent (or looked it up on Thottbot), you eventually found it north of Gregan.

Baiting Miblon

The roots were in a locked area guarded by Miblon Snarltooth. "Miblon" is a reference to moblins, one of the main bad guy races in Zelda. Miblon couldn't be attacked, but he wouldn't let you through. Instead, he just said, "Grumble Grumble." How could you get past? It was a mystery.

Fans of the Zelda franchise realized the answer right away when they saw that Gregan sold an item called Bait. In the first game, Link could use an item called "Meat" to lure enemies and escape. During one dungeon, Link had to use Meat to get past a moblin who also said "Grumble Grumble." By dropping the Bait item in front of Miblon, you could distract him long enough to retrieve an Evoroot for Gregan. Gregan then gave you the elixir, which of course you had to bring all the way back to Donova in Winterspring.

Then Donova immediately sent you to Tanaris, all the way back south. Yep.

Heavy drinking

Meet at the Grave required you to drink the elixir at the Gadgetzan graveyard. The quest referred to the original game's hint, "Meet the Old Man at the grave." Link received the Master Sword by pushing aside gravestones until he found the Old Man's secret cave.

Donova told you, "You may be quite surprised at the results" when you drank the elixir. Even so, most players were not expecting what happened: you immediately dropped dead. Fortunately, your gear took no damage from this death.


As a fun side note, so many players clicked the Resurrect button by habit after the elixir killed them that Donova started giving out more than one elixir. Players who ran out of elixir had to kill themselves with mobs or spells like Hellfire in order to complete the quest.

Once you adjusted to the afterlife, you had to find the Old -- and also very dead -- Man named Gaeriyan. (Goriya is the name of an enemy race in several Zelda games.) His location wasn't obvious. You had to head north out of the graveyard and into the hills to find him. For some reason, he's still there post-Cataclysm if you want to see for yourself.

The ghost sent you back to the graveyard. There you could resurrect yourself. By "pushing" the correct grave, you revealed a secret, sword-shaped hole in the stone. After placing the Training Sword into it, you were awarded with Linken's Tempered Sword. You took the sword back to Marshall's Refuge, where it was magically transformed into Linken's Superior Sword.

Linken can't remember why he needs the sword, so he sent you to seek A Gnome's Assistance. At first you thought you were getting off easy by having to speak with the nearby J.D. Collie at the Refuge, but she said that Linken talked about someone named Eridan Bluewind -- in Felwood.

So off you went, once again, up the entire length of Kalimdor.

Blazerunner: The director's cut

Once you found Eridan, she spoke of an evil elemental in Un'goro:

In the heart of Un'Goro Crater dwells evil of the purest form. This evil takes the shape of an elemental called Blazerunner... protected by an aura that none can dispel...

None... except those with enough power to do so. I can teach you of this power.

To defeat Blazerunner, she sent you to gather eleven Silvery Claws from the local wildlife and one Irontree Heart from treants. Eridan gave you a bag of supplies and sent you to Tanaris (naturally) to summon the elemental Aquementas. Not coincidentally, "Aquamentus" was the name of the dragon boss in the original Zelda game. Eridan also gave you a famous Zelda hint, "The eastmost peninsula is the secret..."

You summoned Aquementas in a circle of stones reminiscent of those in many Zelda games. The circle was indeed located on the "eastmost peninsula" beyond the pirate camps. You didn't have to kill the elemental -- only survive until it transformed your items into the Silver Totem of Aquementas. Even though the quest line no longer exists, Aquementas the Unchained has a new gig as a rare spawn.


When you took the totem to J.D., she asked you to speak to Linken again. Linken gave you the final quest in the chain: It's Dangerous to Go Alone, a reference to the famous first line from The Legend of Zelda when the Old Man gives you that first wooden sword. Linken said,

I finally remember now... I did come here to fight Blazerunner. I was on a journey, and this was to be the last step.

But I am no longer the hero... You are. All that you have done -- you must finish this now, not me.

Blazerunner guards an artifact called the Golden Flame. It provides power more vast than anything else I have ever known, and it is dangerous in the hands of one with an evil heart.

You will want to bring others with you -- it's dangerous to go alone. Take this as my advice.

The title of the quest was appropriate. Defeating Blazerunner at the peak of Fire Plume Ridge was far easier with the aid of a friend or two. First you had to dispel his invincible aura with the Silver Totem -- a nod to the Silver Arrow of several Zelda games that made end boss Ganon vulnerable. The Totem could only be used when equipped, so you couldn't use any of your own offhands or two-handed weapons right away. You could swap to them after you broke his aura. Swapping was risky, though, because Blazerunner constantly tried to reapply the aura, and the Totem had a 30-second cooldown once it was reequipped. That was 30 seconds for an invincible and unhappy fire elemental to whomp on you.

After you removed his aura, you prevent him from recasting it with crowd control. That wasn't his only dangerous ability, however. He also had a vicious knockback that could send you flying off the volcano to your doom. Other elementals surrounded him, so if you weren't careful you could find yourself fighting a big crowd.

The best strategy was to clear the area first, and then pull Blazerunner into a nearby cave to nullify the knockback.

Peace returns to Hyrule Un'goro

Once you defeated Blazerunner, you could loot the Golden Flame from the chest in the cave. It was no coincidence that the flame's icon showed a triangle, an homage to the triangle-shaped Triforce pieces that Link receives after he defeats bosses.

After returning the Golden Flame to Linken, he offered you several rewards. You had a choice between the Spirit of Aquementas offhand item or Linken's Sword of Mastery -- aka the Master Sword from the Zelda games.

Linken's Sword of Mastery

You also received a very cool trinket: Linken's Boomerang. The Boomerang item has appeared in nearly every Zelda game. The trinket was great fun for totally confusing people in PvP when you managed to disarm them on your priest, etc. It was also a handy tool for paladin tanks, who at the time had no class spell that could pull a mob from range.

Fondly remembered by all -- except perhaps the overworked griffins and wyverns -- the Linken quest line was a true adventure in the classic WoW model. It was fun, irreverent, clever, at times quite grueling, and you truly felt like a hero at the end. For many players, this hidden chain was also the key to finishing the Loremaster of Kalimdor achievement.

Although we can never experience these quests again, Linken remains in Azeroth. Most recently he has been spotted helping the Guardians of Hyjal at the Molten Front, as pictured at the top. (In fact, he's part of the Have... Have We Met? achievement.) That means at some point he'll probably go crazy and become a raid boss. You can't convince me that a bomb-chucking, boomerang-wielding, hookshot-zooming Linken boss wouldn't be amazing, especially if Zeldar shows up in Phase 3.

After months of surveying, WoW Archivist has been dug back up! Discover lore and artifacts of WoW's past, including the Corrupted Blood plague, the Scepter of the Shifting Sands, and the mysterious Emerald Dream.