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This job is getting a bit strange. We just wanted to help a group of simple farmers with whatever dangers or trials they were facing. But instead, Maybell MacLure asked us to deliver a note to her boyfriend. Who sent us to see his grandmother.

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“So this is the place?” I ask suspiciously. “It looks … small.”

Ma Stonefield and one of her kin are out front. Pa Stonefield is no doubt off somewhere engaged in some sort of agricultural endeavor. Tommy is still standing by the river where we left him. And there is an old lady just inside. This is obviously Grandma Stonefield, who we’ve been looking for.

“I guess so?” Norman says with a shrug. “I mean, it’s the only house around here.”

So let me get this straight,” I say slowly. “Tommy and Maybell can’t get together and make the beast with two butts because their families are feuding. So Tommy sent us here to talk to his grandmum?”

“I don’t know that Tommy is planning on doing … that. I mean, neither of them said anything about fooling around.”

“The note didn’t say anything about involving anyone’s grandma, either. Yet here we are.”

“Yes,” agrees Norman. “Here we are.”

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We go inside and Norman introduces himself. Then he explains the problem.

Granny sighs, “Poor Tommy and Maybell. While our families are feuding, those two don’t have much of a future.”

I look around the doorless, nearly unfurnished shack, “I don’t think the feud is the biggest problem regarding their future.”

Granny smiles, “I’ll bet William Pestle has a potion that can help them!”

“A … potion?” Norman asks. “They’re already in love and everything. I don’t think they have any problems that can’t be solved by shoving Tommy Joe in the direction of Maybell.”

“No, a potion will fix everything!” Granny insists.

So we trudge back to town and visit Dr. Crazy Candles again. Norman gives him the whole story.

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Pestle shakes his head, “My heart goes out to those two. You know, I was young and in love once.”

“Ew. No more details, thank you,” Norman says.

“But maybe I have a potion that can help them. If I make an invisibility liquor for Maybell, she can slip away and meet with Tommy Joe.”

“What good will that do them?” Norman asks.

“Boss!” I scold him.

“Oh,” he realizes. “That. Fine. How much for the potion?”

“Well, I’ll need some crystal kelp fronds,” Pestle says.

“I don’t want to know what goes in it. I have a weak stomach. Just make it up and I’ll run it back to her,” Norman says.

“No, I’m saying I need you to go and get crystal kelp fronds for me.”

“Oh right,” Norman says bitterly. “I wouldn’t expect an apothecary to have exotic things like ingredients. Let me guess, I have to run to Stormwind and buy it, only that guy won’t have a bag to put it in, so I’ll have to run to Ironforge to get a Dwarven paper sack. But they’re out of paper, so I’ll have to sail to Darnassus, where I’ll find out that the paper-maker is out of wood pulp, so I’ll have to venture through the Dark Portal and find the special tree of–“

“Crystal Kelp grows in the ocean,” Pestle says, more than a little annoyed.

“Okay, we’re off to Stormwind harbor, then. Thanks for nothing,” Norman snorts.

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“Except …” Pestle adds.

“Here it comes,” Norman says under his breath.

“You won’t actually find it in the ocean if you go looking for it.”

“So where would I find it?”

“Murlocs sometimes carry it. See if you can get some from them. There’s a Murloc village in the lake just east of us.”

Yeah, the only place in the universe you can get crystal kelp is from Murlocs, and only when you’re doing this quest. There are a lot of spots like this in the game where you have to go and gather resources that only exist while you’re looking for them.

I’ve often thought it would be interesting if you made an online game where everything was available all the time. If crystal kelp really did appear along the coast and Murlocs really did drop it, whether you needed it or not. It would be interesting to see how many players would naturally revert to adventure game behavior, scarfing up everything needlessly and hauling around armloads of random crap.

Oblivion did this, but that was a single-player game and it tracked inventory by weight instead of item slots. It becomes more of a trade-off if every new weed, animal part, or knickknack you find takes up one of your precious inventory slots. Sure, doing so might let you instantly fulfill a quest at some point, but it’s more likely you’ll just lug it around for the next 20 levels for no benefit. This would be especially true if the designers placed a lot of extra useless items in the game.

I don’t actually know if that would make the game better, but it would be an interesting experiment to see how people behave.

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The lake. Filled with filthy Murlocs. There’s even a guard standing by the lake, looking right at the little buggers.

“Okay, let’s get this over with,” Norman grumbles.

“Not so fast, squire,” I say. “You need to hold up your end of the bargain.”

“Bargain?” Norman asks.

“I gave you some inside info on the demons, now you have to tell me what the deal is with your mom.”

“Oh,” Norman says sheepishly, “That.”

“Pay up.”

“Okay,” Norman sighs, “My mother is Lady Agatha Lightgiver, Exalted Paladin of some order or other.”

“Your mother is a paladin?”

“Lady Lightgiver is somewhat famous around here. She’s about as anti-demon as they come. And she’s … strict.”

“Which explains why you don’t want her to know about this whole Warlock business you’re into.”

“I lied about taking a cookie when I was a kid and she chased me around the house with a magic hammer. A cookie! I can’t even imagine what she’d do if she found out about this.”

“Sure you can,” I point out.

“Yes, I can,” he admits. “But I’d rather not.”

“Well your secret is safe with me,” I assure him. “Nobody needs to know about this except you, me, and these Murlocs we’re about to murder.”

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A few minutes later we have a nice pile of corpses at our feet.

“Whew! Smells like old fish,” Norman says.

“So … how many villages have you wiped out now?”

“Those were mines, not villages. And this doesn’t count. Kobolds are vermin, but Murlocs are evil.”

“Really? What makes them evil?”

“Well,” says Norman as he pats down the corpses, looking for kelp. “They’re aggressive and mean. They do evil things.”

“Really evil things?”

“Yes. They’re murderers and thieves.”

“Wow. So you’re saying that these little guys are so evil they might charge into a human village and kill everything that moves just to acquire a few leaves of seaweed from you?”

“Well, they would never do anything that bad, but I think–” His voice trails off and he looks down at the kelp in his hands. “Curse you demon, stop trying to confuse me.”

“I’m not confusing you. You’re doing that to yourself. I’m just pointing it out.”

We head back and speak to Candlejerk again. He takes the kelp from us and whips up a potion for Maybell.

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Then we have to make the trip from Goldshire to the MacLure farm, which means a ten-minute running battle against thieves, bears, cutthroats, and giant spiders, who are apparently somehow all in league with each other and want to kill us on sight.

“What does it say when thieves live in more harmony with nature than you?”

“Just stop it!” Norman snaps. “You’re always trying to make it sound like I’m evil. I’m not.”

“I’m not saying that. I’m just showing you that good is just evil with better P.R. Why is it okay to kill that robber? Because he’s evil. Why is it wrong to kill that lazy town guard? Because he’s good. What makes the robbers evil? They attack good people and take their stuff. What makes you good? You attack evil things and take their stuff. These are your rules, not mine.”

“There’s no comparison! You said so yourself that you demons want to wipe out the mortal realms!”

“True, true. But what about your mom?”

Norman turns red with fury, “Be very careful what you say about my mother, demon!”

“Fine. I’ll let you say it yourself. What if she suddenly got the power to wipe out the demon realms?”

Norman begins chewing on his mustache furiously.

“Anyway. I’ll let you sort that one out for yourself. Let’s get this potion delivered.”

The rest of the walk to the farm is very quiet. (Aside from the screaming robbers, bears, spiders, etc.)

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Norman marches in the door, hands over the potion, and walks back out. Maybell mews some thanks before she chugs it and disappears.

“Was she under house arrest? Was that really the only way she could escape her own farm?” I ask.

“I don’t care,” Norman says.

“Well, you didn’t save anyone, you didn’t protect the lands, and you didn’t defeat the forces of evil. But you did help a couple of clueless unwed teens get it on, so that’s something.”

“Shut up,” Norman suggests.

We head back to town. (Which results in the deaths of additional people and woodland creatures.)

As we enter town, our old friend Remy stops Norman and begins to ask for help.

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“Not interested!” Norman snaps. “I’m here to help save people from evil and I don’t care about feuds or lovebirds or gold dust or any of the other nonsense you people have been yattering about.”

But Remy persists, “There’s a new threat in Elwynn Forest! Murlocs are swimming up the streams of eastern Elwynn, scaring away fish and attacking gentle folk! I warned Marshal Dughan, but he’s more worried about the gnolls and the bandits. He’s not convinced that the Murlocs are a danger. Please, speak to Dughan and persuade him to send more troops to the east!”

“Murlocs attacking gentle folk?” Norman nods. “Now that’s a job!”

Norman strides over to Marshal Dughan and gives him the skinny on the Murloc problem.

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Dughan stares off into space while Norman talks. A little yawn escapes him. Finally he replies with a well-rehearsed answer, “Yes, I spoke with Remy. I respect him as a merchant, though all reports of Murlocs to the east have been sketchy at best.”

“Sketchy? Have you tried talking to the candle guy at the inn? He never leaves the building, and even he knows about the Murlocs! I fought a dozen of them just an hour ago! ” Norman protests.

“Your concerns are noted, but unless I receive a military report of a Murloc threat, we can’t afford to send more troops east. If you are concerned that the rumors of Murlocs are true, then do this – travel to the eastern Elwynn bridge and speak with Guard Thomas.”

“Are you offering to hire me to talk to your own men for you?” Norman says slowly.

Next week: Go east, young man. Go east.

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