Naturally, if you’re a Tauren you have an excellent sense of direction and a mystical bond with the Earth Mother, and you will never get lost crossing the Needles. All of these canyons have their own unique appearance, from the subtle gradations of the rockface, to the pillars of rounded stones shaped by wind and long-vanished rivers, to the carcass of the hyena you passed an hour ago the third time you came through this way. Yes, you will certainly not break down weeping, terrified of never having another tea biscuit like mother makes again, squeezing the dead hyena like a teddy bear for comfort, all alone in the vast and windy darkness between the spires.
Not if you stay on the damn road.
The truth is, what is awe-inspiring from above is pretty intimidating from within. You can (and should) spend a few hours scouting along the rim of the Needles, planning out your route on the bottom, but basically this is all going to go hooves-up as soon as you hit the bottom of the Great Lift (hopefully after having ridden it, rather than sailing sack-of-potatoes-like through the intervening atmosphere) and start on your way.
Oh, most of us get along alright at first. There’s an ancient road made of worn-down cobbles that will take you in one direction to Freewind Post, and in the other direction to Feralas. There’s an old trick for telling which way you’re going, in case Grimtotem teenagers have urinated on the sign until it’s illegible (or maybe just until you don’t want to get very close to it).
Lick your finger, and hold it up to test the wind. If a night elf shoots an arrow through your finger, you’re heading towards Feralas. If not, you’re probably heading towards Freewind.
However, the mind is given to wandering, and if you’re a self-supporting traveller you will scent some valuable herbs over in the shade of a butte, or see the sparkle of mithril high up on a sloping rock face in the distance. You may get into a conversation with some kobolds, and — hampered by the lack of a mutual dialect — this may result in some Orgrimmar-rules face-clubbings. Finally, driven to ecstasy by the thrill of the open road, you may just hoot joyfully and spur your mount to a dust-raising gallop through long and winding gulches, scattering centaurs and harpies out of your way and leaving them choking on your wake.
Late in the afternoon you will blink and look up around you. The road is nowhere to be found. When did you leave it? When was the last time you saw one of the totem-fires leading to Freewind? Where is the Real Tauren Wampum ™ that you bought in Taurajo? Suddenly nothing looks familiar, and yet everything does. Whichever way you turn, the Needles presents the same prospect of high butte walls and ochre trails.
Do not panic.
Well, okay, go ahead and panic. I’ll wait.
Are you feeling better now? Here is a reassuring fact: you are not alone. Even at this moment there are probably a dozen travellers in nearby canyons, just as hopelessly lost as you are. Logically, some of them must be nearer their destination than others by a law of random assortment that I just made up.
What you need to do is ask for directions.
“BY GROM,” you should shout. “CAN ANYONE HEAR ME?” You might not swear “by Grom” of course. Perhaps you would prefer “HELP!” or “MAMMY!” The echoes off of the canyon walls will bounce your voice a great distance.
“YES”, another voice will come back to you eventually, from an uncertain direction. “CAN YOU HEAR ME?”
“YES!” you say. “I’M LOST, I NEED DIRECTIONS!”
“ME TOO! WHERE ARE YOU?”
“I’M IN A CANYON.”
“DAMN, ME TOO. CAN YOU SEE ANYTHING?”
“UM. THERE’S A PILLAR OF ROCK THAT LOOKS LIKE A PEPPER SHAKER, AND SOME HYENAS.”
“OH, YEAH, I WAS OVER THERE THIS MORNING, TOOK ME HOURS TO GET OUT!”
“WHERE’D YOU GO?”
“SO WHERE ARE YOU NOW?”
“I’M UNDER A CLOUD THAT LOOKS LIKE THE WARCHIEF.”
“SWEET. DO YOU SEE FREEWIND POST FROM THERE?”
“HELLO!” says a third voice from another hard-to-define direction. “HEY YOU GUYS, EITHER OF YOU WANNA GO TO DIRE MAUL? WE NEED A HEALER.”
“DAMN IT. CAN YOU TELL ME WHERE IT IS, THEN?”
A long, high *twanggggg* sound will echo through the rocks, followed by a long silence.
“I THINK I’VE BEEN SHOT BY AN ELF.”
If you continue on like this long enough, eventually you may have a conversation with someone who recognizes a landmark you can find your way back to, and who can also see the road. In my case, though, I just bumbled further and further south until I ran into a small trading caravan heading into the Needles from Mojache, and they let me hitch a ride. They had a goblin with them who knew how to make kungaloosh, and I woke up the next morning wearing a dress.
This might be impractical for you to arrange, so it’s probably better to bring your own booze and party dress rather than risking stumbling upon a caravan that doesn’t like to party.
Now if you’ll excuse me I think my security-hyena is starting to go off.Grumpycloud Pinnacle »