by Betria Eilyn Tallrock
While I was still living with my family and learning the basics of tinkering in Kharanos, back before the Dark Portal was reopened, Ironforge was the capital of the Alliance, as far as adventurers were concerned. Obviously, I wasn’t an adventurer at the time, but seeing so many people of different races flocking to the seat of our kingdom made me proud of being a dwarf. Eventually, adventurers started flocking to Stormwind instead, and I started paying attention to what people look for in a city. I found out there are many things that make certain towns popular with adventurers, but there are a few things that seem to draw the most attention:
Location: how easy it is to get to and from places of interest, by road, sea, magical transportation or gryphon routes. It’s very simple, really.
Services: forges, blacksmiths, workshops, training areas, inns, general and specialized stores and so on. Those are all highly valued by adventurers, and we’re known as an impatient bunch. So a town that has can provide all those things without forcing us to walk or ride all the way across town is sure to be popular.
Economy: heroes and mercenaries alike tend to gather very impressive curios and souvenirs in their journeys all across Azeroth and beyond, not to mention sometimes frankly ridiculous amounts of metal ingots, exotic plants and hides. While some of us keep those for personal use, many sell them for profit, injecting important materials into the general economy. The smartest among us even manage to save up enough to stand down and live comfortably for years without having to work.
Having been based in Stormwind as an adventurer, then in Ironforge as a diplomat, I can attest both Ironforge and Stormwind have those three elements in spades. Stormwind wins out due to transportation facilities, though. It has a direct tram to Ironforge, frequent boats to both Kalimdor and Northrend, and the Earthen Ring has also recently set up portals in the outskirts of the city. Ironforge used to dominate travel across the Eastern Kingdoms, given you had to cross Khaz Modan to get from southern Eastern Kingdoms to northern Eastern Kingdoms, but nowadays adventurers from all over the Alliance lands turn their attention towards Stormwind instead.
But this article isn’t about Stormwind or my beloved Ironforge. I’m here to talk about Darnassus. Ever since going back to the Explorer’s League and taking up a more academic job, I’ve been looking for a new base of operations that was closer to the unexplored digs in Kalimdor. The problem, of course, is that most of Kalimdor is a battle zone. Yes, good adventurers can usually evade what they can’t fight, but having hordes of orcs, trolls and tauren bearing down on you on a regular basis can really mess up the writing of research papers.
So I turned to Darnassus. I’d been there before, doing errands and negotiating with night elf officials, but my visits were usually short. I didn’t like the place, I thought it was too humid, too open and too tall. I mean, night elves are a tall people. I’m very tall for my kind and I barely hit 5 feet in height. I’ve always enjoyed learning about elven culture, but from a distance. The League already had a small presence there with Chief Archaeologist Greywhisker, and it turned out he could use some help with all the paperwork coming in from Tanaris.
So, somewhat begrudgingly, it was time to move to the kaldorei capital. I bought a small house in the Craftsmen’s Terrace and set up my new office and workshop there after buying a bunch of screens (there is no way I’m going to sleep in a house without walls). It was only after everything was set up and I got back to work that I started to appreciate just how much Darnassus had changed over the past few months.
The most obvious change, of course, was the arrival of the Gilnean refugees, very industrious and hardy people. Even though many of them are cursed, most of them are humans at heart, and I still find them easier to relate to than some of the more ancient night elves. The refugees’ more active lifestyle and stoicness brings an interesting counterpoint to Darnassus’ usual serenity. Plus they make for pretty good drinking buddies and they share my opinions on night elven alcohol (but that’s a different article altogether).
Another big change was the return of the Highborne. Of course, the situation between them and the night elves is fragile and I’m not even going to try to explain it myself, but contact between the two factions did make night elf society more tolerant toward students of the arcane. I know I’d probably not be nearly as welcome to Darnassus if I had started my mage studies a year earlier.
In fact, even the Highborne seem to have changed somewhat by this cultural turmoil, as even I — a dwarf — managed to find a competent teacher to guide me through the dangerous paths of the arcane. He was a Highborne, and it did take me quite a bit of work to convince him to take me up as his apprentice, but I don’t think it would have happened at all if the two elven kinds hadn’t come into contact.
The third and most subtle change is that the entire infra-structure of Darnassus has been improved. I have heard people complaining about Tyrande Whisperwind’s leadership, but I don’t think anyone would have a point criticizing how much Darnassus has developed lately. It’s easy to find food (even with so many new mouths to feed), raw materials and even exotic spell components in this city, and the economy seems to be warming up as the Gilnean refugees settle down and become productive once more. Mail from all over Azeroth is arriving in record time, there are many good deals to strike, and their auction house is always open and well-staffed.
Before, I felt like an outsider in Darnassus. A fun-loving dwarf tinker in a brand new city of austere giants, perched atop a huge tree. Now, I’m used to the humidity and the warmth, and the frequent rain actually feels pleasant now that I can dry myself up with a single spell. I’ve got to meet new people, enjoy their friendship, their hospitality (even if their traditions felt a little odd at first) and the tranquility of the night elven lands. It’s actually great to end a good day of hard work, be it building a new machine or examining a new artifact, and step outside to enjoy the comforts of a nature that’s not actively trying to kill you. All without ever having to leave town.
I’m enjoying my stay in Darnassus, and I recommend others to come here as well. If you want a calmer life and distance isn’t a problem, you should consider visiting Teldrassil.
~Betria really loves the freedom of being able to teleport at will. It makes visiting friends and archaeological digs much easier.