It feels like it’s been a month, but after six days, the mystery of Gara has finally been solved. It’s been a week of stops and starts with the Hunter community coming together to piece together this incredible puzzle.
It started with Jeremy Feasel letting us know that the quest was fully implemented for us to solve.
Everyone pretty much knew that the first step was to talk to Gara at the Burial Grounds in Shadowmoon Valley. Killing Mother Om’ra, a rare elite in the Burial Grounds, also seemed like a logical thing to do. She drops Shadowberries, an item related to the quest. After looting the berries it wasn’t much of a stretch to go back and talk to Gara again.
When you show the berries to Gara all the dialogue says is “Gara sniffs the berries, and then looks at you expectedly.” Many of us interpreted that to mean she’s hungry and we must feed her something a wolf might like – Meat.
The talbuk and elekk populations suffered mightily that night. We decimated their herds with reckless abandon with an eye towards Nagrand if we ran out of targets in Shadowmoon Valley.
If Gara desired meat, then she would gorge herself with our plentiful offerings. Alas, we should have realized that she’s dead and thus doesn’t need to eat anymore. Food was not what she needed. But what then?
This is where the trail went cold. There were no clues or hints on what to do next. Everyone was stumped and then it hit us. In one instant a light bulb went on above the collective heads of all Hunters, and we arrived at the only possible reason why we were gated. The quest was bugged.
Not bugged? How rude!
So we were officially stymied at this point with little or no information to go on. Then a gift.
On the Petopia forums a new user named Uselessx, who was anything but, provided some wonderful data mined information from Wowhead.
It listed quests, spells, and items like a Crude Effigy, Elder Incense, Small Fruit, Torn Cloth, Ancient Bone, and a Spirit Effigy. It also revealed the mysterious Void Lantern.
The flood gates were open, and we now had enough information to progress further, and progress we did.
Hunters flew hither and yon acquiring these strange items. Fruit from the Warsong in Nagrand. The effigy from orcs in Gorgrund. The bone from the Thunderclan in Frostfire. The cloth from demon orcs in Frostfire. The incense from the Arrakoa, and the bowl from Talador.
With items in hand we raced back to Gara and planted the Spirit Effigy on her grave, and then stuff happened.
Wow! If you thought you were walking out of that grave yard with a new companion, guess again. The hunt would continue.
Based on the data mined information we knew that finding the Void Lantern was probably the next step. Time to kill more orcs.
The likeliest keepers of such a device where the Shadowmoon orcs. So Hunters set their sights on Shadowmoon Valley, and the Pillars of Fate were priority one. This is a level 100 questing area on the borders of the Spires of Arak and Shadowmoon Valley, and it’s loaded with void loving orcs.
The lantern was acquired in short order. We activated it and became cool looking Shadow Hunters. But now what?
We knew that Gara was taken to the void realm and that we needed to get there too, but how?
The buff from lantern said we were partially phased into the void realm. Unfortunately it seemed the wrong part of us was in there because we had no clue what to do, and data mining wasn’t going to save us this time.
Now was time for quick thinking, trial and error, brute force and trolls. Epic trolls.
My guess is that someone at Blizzard needed the Heroic Shadowmoon Burial Grounds dungeon tested so they went to official forums and said their Hunter friend completed it with the lantern buff on and amazing things happened.
The post was immediately called into question, but there weren’t any other good leads so we queued and waited for hours for groups to form, and then fall apart at the most crucial points in the dungeon.
I was fortunate to find a competent group and we managed to clear the place with relative ease. Great instance by the way. Visually appealing, mechanics were easy to learn, and it was short and fun. Can’t wait to run it in live, but back to the quest. The dungeon turned out be one of many dead ends.
With very little information to go on, all sorts of wild theories developed. We discovered you can have more than one lantern buff. Maybe that was it. Stack the buff until you are no longer partially phased.
I helped Bendak get his stack to 20, and then – nothing. We figured that 20 buffs was probably a sufficient sample to call the stacking a bug, and we moved on.
Before too long collaboration turned to cajoling, and the frustration was beginning to take its toll. We were blind men (and women) trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube.
Some pressed on, while others decided to tap the maker on the shoulder to see if he’d give us a hint. I present the ever so helpful Muffinus.
In other words, you’re on your own suckers! Let me say that I’m on Muffinus’ side here. I’ll grant you that some of the clues were a little too subtle, and we did have to rely on data mined information to proceed, but it’s so rare that one gets an opportunity to tread on uncharted territory in an MMO.
When Warlords of Draenor goes live Hunters will have several guides to choose from that will show them step by step what they need to do to tame Gara. The process won’t take days, but will be reduced to a couple of hours, especially if you start it after hitting level 100. Will it still be awesome? Absolutely, but it will also be incredibly straight forward. Alas, I digress.
We stewed and pondered about what to do and where to go. How doe we enter the damn void?
Many believed that Shadowmoon Valley was the key. Yes, we searched virtually ever nook and cranny of every zone, but Shadowmoon Valley is where it began, and that’s where it should end, and end there it did.
Kaitlyn (@Lupen_2) stumbled upon the answer. There in the middle of Shadowmoon Valley was an interesting tree. A vignette of some kind. It’s something that I passed by, or at least near, several times after acquiring the lantern. In my haste to look for something big and obvious, I and many others overlooked something very big and obvious, that deserved closer inspection.
Kaitlyn rode up to that tree, and in its trunk, she saw a blade. She saw that you could click on the blade, and so she did. That’s when the magic happened.
The final piece of the puzzle revealed at last. An epic six day journey drawn to close, and for the moment the River Beasts, Rylaks, Clefthoofs, Talbuks all forgotten. Even the mighty Sporebat forced to take a back seat to this beautiful lady named Gara.
Thank you Muffinus. Thank you for this marvelous journey.
Next pet please?