The Darkest Corner of Azeroth
By dark, I mean dark, really dark. Not night dark, but absolutely no light dark. So dark, you can't even see your own hands. If you have nyctophobia, fear of the dark in other words, this post is not for you.
Hello fellow adventurers,
I have been to a number of spectacularly dark and gloomy places during my adventures in WoW, from Eastern Kingdoms to Kalimdor and from Outland to Northrend. I have no doubt that you have been to such places too. But, if you were ever asked to make a list of the darkest zones or places across Azeroth, I am pretty sure you would list Duskwood at a high spot on your list.
Surrounded by rather bright and cheerful zones such as Elwynn Forest, Westfall, Redridge Mountains and Stranglethorn Vale (I am excluding Deadwind Pass), regardless of from which side you enter Duskwood, you are immediately welcomed with a dark, highly gloomy and depressing environment, where the sun is barely ever seen, unless you are flying with your Gryphon, high above the top of the tall Duskwood trees.
As you may have already guessed, the location I will take you to today as the darkest corner of Azeroth (that is, if you don't mind visiting dark places), is in Duskwood. I should say that I will not claim it to be "the" darkest place in all Azeroth, simply because I have not seen the whole world yet, but it is definitely the darkest I have been to so far.
I guess I don't need to mention that the following exploration will be best experienced at night, alone in your room with no distractions and with lights off, headset on your ears, with ambience and music volume up. Also, since the places we will pass through will be mostly dark, I highly recommend bringing one or two items with light. For example, I had on me, a lantern (Nolkai's Lantern or Light-Imbued Lantern would be fine) and a torch (Grayson's Torch). If you can't find any light-source items in your bank or on the auction house, you can also use them as transmog if you have them unlocked previously.
Now, if you are ready for a dark and creepy exploration, let's start.
(BEWARE! Where we are going is not only very dark, but it is also very narrow. So, proceed carefully if you have claustrophobia.)
Our first step, obviously, is to go to Duskwood. As it has many neighboring zones, you are free to enter Duskwood from wherever you want. However, in order to absorb the ambience and atmosphere of the zone better, and get into the appropriate mood for a pitch-black adventure, I suggest that you land in Lakeshire of Redridge Mountains, and walk towards southwest to enter Duskwood, by passing over the stone bridge at the Three Corners.
Except for enjoying the feeling of the shivering ambience, hearing the creepy sounds around you and seeing the mysterious red eyes hidden in the bushes, we will not pay much attention to anything on the road till we pass Darkshire and reach Raven Hill on the other side of the zone. As I mentioned above, you are free to follow any route you want, but I think this walk-through from one side of the zone to the other is necessary to be fully immersed and prepared for the upcoming exploration.
After passing the Twilight Grove to your right, slightly before reaching Raven Hill, exit the road by turning northwest and heading towards the Raven Hill Cemetery, where the meat and bones, so to speak, of our exploration is waiting for us. By doing so, you will be passing through the chilly, web-covered part of the forest, heavily occupied by the deadly Dark Widow spiders.
When you enter the Raven Hill Cemetery, I recommend that you spend a little time exploring around, reading what some of the tombstones say and hearing the whispers of the now buried, long forgotten residents of Duskwood. Then, proceed towards the northwest section of the cemetery.
At around 24-35 coordinates, you will see a large opening on the ground, which leads to the underground chambers called as the Dawning Woods Catacombs. From the look of it, I can tell a mausoleum was standing here, which was then destroyed and a passage to the underground chambers was opened, I presume illegally. What I couldn't figure out is whether the passage was opened from the inside or from the outside.
Near the entrance of the underground passage to the catacombs, you will see three coffins with a spider emblem on their cover, two of which are opened disrespectfully. If you take a close look at the body remains, you will notice they are humanoid creatures, but not humans, as they have three fingers on their hands and feet.
If you stand at that exact spot for a little bit, you will start to hear your own heartbeats, pretty creepy isn't it? After the friendly welcome the coffins and skeletons offered to you, that is, if you are the type who feels welcomed at such dark and grim places, go through the passage by saying goodbye to the lovely atmosphere of Duskwood, and perhaps to those who you hold dear.
I stopped by the entrance to the catacombs, prepared a small campfire and tried to gain my courage before entering. I even noticed a weird thing: When my campfire was out after about five minutes, the walls of the catacombs entrance continued to echo the sound of the campfire for minutes.
Just before I entered the catacombs, I saw a Dwarf Hunter with her wolf companion enter before me. She had a large wooden bow hanging at her back and a dark pine-green cloak covering her shoulders. She looked strong and self-sufficient, as all Dwarves do, but I still prayed that she would be able to find her way out from that foul darkness safely, as our eyes met for a second and exchanged good wishes before she went in.
Let's continue by entering through the passage.
Once you are in, walk down till you come to a point where three halls and the one you came in meet. Turn left and pass through the door which leads to a large room with a rather low ceiling and bare earth as its floor. As you will also notice, this place is full of corpses, skeletons, open or closed tombs, grave chambers on the walls, rats, snakes and silent shades wandering around. Watch your step as you walk, as some buried corpses might surprise you by rising from their graves.
Exit the room via the door at the far left corner and enter the next room, which is not as large as the previous one, but its floor is covered with stone. Walk towards the other end of the room until you see a small crevice on the wall to your right.
Go through that crevice which continues with a narrow tunnel. The tunnel has no structure but it has tree roots coming out of its walls in all directions. In this part of the catacombs, it will be better to light up your lantern or torch to illuminate your path and see where your next step will land on.
You will soon realize that you are not alone in the tunnel, as completely dark creatures from the deepest pits of Azeroth start to approach you. Called as Writhing Terror, no wonder why those creatures are totally black, and don't reflect any light, as they most probably adapted to the darkness of this tunnel in time. I would recommend skipping them without doing any harm, as I can't even imagine the sorrow and pain those creatures had to endure to turn into such dark beings.
The tunnel will start to get narrower and darker as you move forward. Fear not and continue walking patiently and slowly. After a few bends to left and right, you will exit the tunnel and enter a large lab where the evil Necromancer Morbent Fel and its minions practice unimaginable experiments on bodies of poor creatures, both living and dead, even worse, the undead.
If you are easily affected by such gruesome scenes, simply turn left and go up the stairs to reach the platform where Morbent Fel stands, by trying not to look around you, as you will see nothing but some of the most formidable experiment setups in Azeroth. Before you exit the lab via the door on the other side of the room, I kindly ask you that you make Morbent Fel pay for its crimes.
In the next part of your journey, you will be frequently accompanied by Flesh Eaters, Bone Chewers, Plague Spreaders (such lovely names, eh?) and the like. How you deal with them is up to you but I would say hiding your light source item would be wise, if you don't want to attract unnecessary attention.
Once you are done with Morbent Fel, simply exit the lab. Without turning left or right, continue straight and go up the stairs just in front of you.
We are almost there... just one last turn...
At the top of the first stairs (remember not to go straight ahead and climb the next one too), you will see one hall to your right and one hall to your left, full with undead creatures mentioned above. Our target spot is in the left hall.
Before you enter the left hall by climbing down the stairs that will take you to the hall floor, if you can show the patience to stop and watch the undead creatures lifelessly walking inside the room, you will witness another disturbing scene, in which all the undead in the hall will suddenly fall on the ground and spread poisonous gas as their corpses fell apart. If you wait long enough, you will also witness them to rise from the ground again. That scene should be the topping of this exploration.
Now, go down to the floor of the hall, where you will see three large tombs on the left and two on the right, half visible and half buried into the walls. I will just grab your attention to the first empty tomb cavity on the right wall, and leave where its previous occupant might be to your imagination.
Our darkest spot is behind any one of these tombs, as they are more or less similar, except their engravings. To get to the rear area of a tomb, you will need to enter via the narrow opening to the left or to the right of the tomb, into which you will barely fit. Take a deep breath, remember to put your light source item away, and enter. We are here to see the darkest spot in Azeroth, right? Why use lights just when you are about to experience that darkness to the fullest?
After a few steps, you will come to the end of the narrow opening and hit the back wall behind the tomb. Since it is extremely dark here, it will be hard for you to see, but you can feel it from the sound of your footsteps. If you turn left or right depending on which side of the tomb you entered, you will come to the rear area of the tomb. This is the spot where you will feel just plain darkness. If you try to continue walking, it is highly likely that you will lose the sense of direction and you might even feel you are lost in the darkness for a moment, as it happened to me. Do not panic, continue breathing and try to stay calm. It will be hard but try reaching to your light-source item in your bag and equip it. Once your eyes see the light, you will better appreciate the darkness of this place.
You can use close-up or 1st person camera angles while exploring these narrow areas behind the tombs for enhanced immersion, but I should mention that when you are in 1st person mode, some of the light-source items do not emit any light. I should also warn you that the area behind two of these tombs (the first and second to the left as far as I checked) cause a glitch which might give you difficulty coming out. Definitely avoid those two tombs if you have claustrophobia.
The following comparison image will help you realize how dark the place is when you are not holding any lights.
As I stood behind one of the tombs for a while and heard adventurers coming and going, fighting with the undead in the hall just on the other side of the tomb, I kept wondering what type of a reaction I would see on their face if any of them cared to check the back of the tomb and stumbled into me.
Feeling a little tired after such a long walk, I sat behind the tomb and made a campfire to regain my energy to finish my exploration and exit the catacombs. I was between sleep and wakefulness, thinking about the terrifying things I had seen so far from the moment I stepped into the catacombs, when I thought I saw an apparition coming towards me. Having nowhere to move in this narrow place, not even being able to draw my sword, I started to shout silently till I lost my breath. The apparition came closer and closer, and it covered me with its rotten, greenish cloak...
I woke up with a feeling of suffocation and rushed back to the hall from the back of the tomb. Not seeing anything moving around, I wondered if it was my mind playing me games, or the side effect of spending so much time in such a dark and gruesome place.
I had had enough of darkness for the night, so I quickly left the catacombs by saying a permanent goodbye to this foul underground chamber, still hearing my own heartbeats, the disgusting murmuring of the undead and a neverending sound of opening tombs....
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7 Jun, 2017 09:56 UTC
What a great read, once more;
I particularly like the comparison screenshot, making it very clear how dark it really was around you.
Your thorough descriptions, easy to follow - directions, combined with subtle speculations along the way paired with the great screenshots really helps the reader fully dive into the story being told.
Duskwood is one of my favorite zones as well. In fact it was even the first zone I visited using that Inky Black Potion!
I sure hope the encounter with the apparition does not leave a permanent mark...
7 Jun, 2017 11:59 UTC
Thank you Alunaria! Your words tell me that I am at least succeeding in half of my intention which is to fully grab the reader's attention to what they are reading. The second half is to encourage the reader to not only read but to also follow the things I describe and get immersed into the story while following me in the game world.
I think, I don't have the courage to visit that place any time soon, but a voice inside me keeps bugging me to go back and check what might have happened to that fellow Dwarf Hunter.
1 Jul, 2017 00:48 UTC
Love this! Your writing captures the atmosphere of the zone, and I really like exploration posts.
The catacombs in Duskwood used to absolutely terrify me in early WoW. It was the first time I ventured underground, I managed to get lost and it was just a terrifying experience overall...
PS. Hope the dwarf made it out!
1 Jul, 2017 14:59 UTC
Hello Bryssa, and welcome!
It's a pleasure to have a fellow adventurer-writer here. Thank you for your nice words and hope to meet you on another adventure.
After that incident I experienced in the catacombs, I started a small investigation to learn about her fate. One of the clues I had (the model of her bow) led me to the Thorium Point in Searing Gorge, where I learned from the locals that the Flightmaster's Hunter sister had indeed ventured south beyond Stormwind alone, seeking a magic arrow mentioned in one of the ancient Dwarven legends, which was rumored to be hidden in the heart of the dark forest.
My guess is that she tamed her companion wolf in Burning Steppes, passed through Redridge and continued to Duskwood, and then our paths crossed at the entrance of the catacombs. I am almost sure I will find the absolute truth about her fate in that catacombs, but I am afraid to know it, so I stopped my investigation.
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