Friends, old and new alike, I bring good tidings and a story to you today.
Many moons ago (in all actuality we're genuinely talking about more than FIVE YEARS AGO.... think about that for a moment...... FIVE YEARS AGO some of you were in middle school, or just starting high school), during the Time of Illidan, there once was a lowly guild named Static. This isn't the same Static most of you have come to know, love, and essentially build with your own two hands. No, this was a Static of lowly stature. A Static of old. This Static wasn't bad by any means, but they couldn't hold a flame to the Static of Cataclysm.
While in this variation of Static, I, Brutall, was a slave to The Shield. You see, in case you are unaware, shields are a Protection Warrior's world. Without a shield, we're nothing. Well, lemme tell ya.... In TBC, I didn't have a shield to prove my worth for quite some time in some cases, and in others....never.
In T4, I found myself wielding Shield of Impenetrable Darkness
up until Kael'Thas. Yes, that's right, Nightbane's shield was all I had through all of SSC and TK, until one miraculous day... Something happened...........
Gruul... One of the many thorns in my side. After more than TWENTY kills, the creep finally dropped my Aldori Legacy Defender
. And what a beauty she was. That shield carried me through quite a bit of content. Little did I know what trend had been set... Little did I know that Gruul's lack of love for my left arm was just the beginning...
As the weeks and months passed, and a new tier of content was unveiled, I was excited to learn that two new shields were making their way into the game. You see, there wasn't a shield upgrade in T5, but in T6, I had access to Kaz'rogal's Hardened Heart
and Bulwark of Azzinoth
. How excited was I to see such wondrous new items! The look! The stats! The proc! It was all a Protection Warrior could ask for!
And so, the day came that T6 went live. To Hyjal Summit! We've bosses to kill, lads!
I actually don't remember when Kaz'rogal's shield dropped for me. For all I know it could have been the first or the tenth time I killed him. All I know was that while I was happy to pickup a new shield, it wasn't what my heart was truly after. No, my friends, I wanted the shield of shields. I wanted the protector of protectors. I wanted the literal fortress for my arm, and nothing was going to stand in my way of achieving my goal.
Nothing, that is, aside from this demon!
And this force!
The first time we killed Illidan, I wasn't holding my breath. Well, actually, I probably was. I mean, we killed ILLIDAN! The man! The myth! The legend! This was no small feat, and by golly I felt like we accomplished something! Regardless, I wasn't expecting the best shield, not to mention the best looking
shield, of all time to drop the very first time we killed Illidan the Betrayer. No sir, I was expecting it to take another couple of kills, maybe even a month's worth!
Yet, a month passed and...nothing. Not even a hint of a shield. Soon I heard the whispers of laughter when I mentioned, "Alright, Tuesday has come and gone and the tier has reset! Time to get a shield!" as each new raid week began. Then, before long, those whispers turned into muffled chuckles. Muffled chuckles turned to stifled snickering. And, in no time, outright laughter and ridicule.
It soon became apparent that my dream, my whole reasoning for being a Protection Warrior, had turned into the butt of every joke.
"Don't worry, Brutall, you can have your shield when Illidan's through with it!"
"Cheer up, Brutall, it's not like it's the best shield in the game...oh, wait...IT IS, LOLOLOLOL!!!"
"Brutall, I hear there's a new shield in Zul'Aman. You should look into it."
I soon found myself considering dragging the guild back into T5, specifically to Kael'thas just so that I could wield Phaseshift Bulwark
not because it was a "legendary" or because it was better than what I was currently using. No, I wanted to wield it solely based on the fact that it had the word "bulwark" in its name. And, if even for the briefest of moments, I could pretend it was the bulwark my heart was longing for night after night...
And so, as fate would have it, I never did wield a Bulwark of Azzinoth
in TBC. As I formed Static in WotLK, some of the old members joined up, and as new shields were looted and equipped I'd hear the familiar sound of ridicule and scorn. I never did go back to get Illidan's shield after WotLK launched. Maybe it was too painful to consider, and old wounds were still healing.
Come Cataclysm, quite frankly, it was beginning to feel like a distant memory. A bad dream you've forgotten mostly about. Static was reaching its greatest point yet, and shields were plentiful for the most part. Life was good, and so was the loot. I actually found myself raiding Black Temple once or twice in the past year, not necessarily hoping to find the shield on Illidan's corpse, but just to experience the zone once more.
Then there was May 13th, 2012.
I was minding my own business, farming food in Western Plaugelands for my Monk, and I was talking to my old and dear friend Voulk over Mumble. He came up with this crazy notion that we should run Black Temple for some transmogrification gear for his Paladin and his Death Knight. I was open to the idea, as I wasn't really doing something that couldn't be done later. So, partly in jest, and in some ways quite seriously, I commented that I would only go if we'd kill Illidan, just for old time's sake.
He agreed. We formed the raid, and we noticed our friend Leyo was on his Druid. We requested his presence, he joined our raid, and we were off.
As the bosses fell, one by one, and as our the night grew later and later, I couldn't help but wonder to myself if tonight was the night? No, it couldn't be. Tonight was no different than the countless times before. The shield simply didn't exist. It was a myth. A lie. Something to keep me subscribed for all these years, but not something to actually wield and hold in my hands.
As we beheaded the Illidari Council, I took a deep breath and pushed all thoughts of a shield out of my mind. Voulk was encouraging all the way through the raid, referencing how he could smell the shield on Illidan somehow, and how he had a feeling that unlike all the times before, tonight was
in fact the night.
We engage Illidan.
The first phase quickly comes to a close, leading into the elemental phase. We dispatch the elementals with ease, and that just brings Illidan down to be toyed with once again. Soon, Maiev shows up and starts slapping him around. We joke about how Heroic Leap certainly would have come in handy for those traps she liked to lay, and so we wait for a trap, I leap into it, and Illidan is brought to his knees.
It's at this point that I like to believe that if I was actually there, embodying my Tauren, I'd have relished in the moment. I think I would have softly gone crazy, just for the briefest period of time, and started hacking and slashing at Illidan's entrapped body. I'd bring my sword down on his neck over...and over...and OVER...AND OVER...... Until finally, the last ounces of life left his mangled and bloody corpse. I'd be breathing heavily, eyes glazed and locked onto my crippled and soon-to-be-deceased prey. I'd wipe the spit from my mouth, never breaking eye contact with the body of the demon I slayed for the fifteenth, twentieth, twenty-fifth time?
I'd kneel down, flip his body over so that he lay upon his back, and sit there for a moment or two. Soon, I'd raise my sword to the heavens, and I wouldn't say a word. I'd simply thrust it into his chest and break into his rib cage. Within his body, in its own magical way, would be the treasures we sought. Most would be cast aside, rusted and pathetic compared to today's standards.... But deep within, buried under everything else.... I'd see my hopes and dreams, and a part of my humanity, staring back at me.
I'd see life incarnate.
After five long years...My Warrior's journey is complete.
I can now look toward the future, toward the Mist, and joyously master the Monk.
I cannot thank Voulk and Leyo enough for assisting me tonight, and truth be told, the only thing that would have made it sweeter would have been if Layn were by my side when the boss fell. Staticans, whether you're of TBC, WotLK, or Cataclysm, in some way you've all made this possible and you've all made this that much more worthwhile.
I hope my tale has entertained you to some degree, and I hope that the next time you find yourself in the World of Warcraft, you have the same sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that I experienced tonight. Until Pandaria is before us, I bid thee ado.