"What are all these bones on the floor?" I asked, feigning innocence. I had just teleported into a Heroic Stonecore well underway, and found myself standing before Therazane's wayward son Ozruk - who was still very much alive - with the remains of countless failures littering the floor around him.
The tank's answer came slowly. "Wipes." He sounded tired - as tired as you can sound in a one-word answer. And he looked tired. He went on to explain, "Morty, you've arrived for a particularly difficult fight. Ever been here before?" Despite my "yes," he went on to explain the fight in detail. We would all use auto-attack melee to avoid Paralysis, then scurry away to safety before his next attack 1-shots us all. By his telling, it was all very complicated and deadly dangerous. I couldn't remember doing ANY of that in my previous jaunts into Stonecore. I just remember the tank facing Ozruk away from us, then I'd cook him in fire until well done. But I wanted to be a team player, and tried to follow along with the tank's detailed description. It wasn't sinking in, though.
So when the fight started, I ignored everything, stood far back at a safe distance, and proceeded to dispense the burning stuff. I'd periodically be Paralyzed, but it would wear off and I'd get back to tending the fire. The rest of the group was doing a complicated dance... all swinging never-used sticks and wands at Ozruk's feet, then scurrying away to escape the impending Attack of Guaranteed Death. Invariably, the dance was too difficult, and people wouldn't get out in time. One by one I watched them fall, and prepared for my own death soon to come. Ozruk did not fail to deliver.
After my own bones had been added to the growing collection on the floor, we gave it another go, with identical results. And again. (For the full flavor of things, simply re-read the above paragraph over and over.)
I don't know how many times they'd wiped on Ozruk before I'd gotten there, but we'd wiped 3 times already with me in the group. But amazingly, people weren't abandoning the run. In fact, true to the new dungeon tool's unwritten rules, no one said anything at all. It was eerily quiet. While zoning back into Stonecore to pick up our corpses, the Tank would ask us, "Should we give up and re-queue for a different Heroic?" But there was never any answer. Not one word. The crew just kept zoning in, then running back to their place. There was a growing feeling of "we're going to keep doing this if it takes all night." But SOMETHING had to be done to stop the bleeding. I decided to speak up.
"Ummm... last time I was here, we didn't do any of that running back and forth. All ranged just stood back here the whole time. Not saying it's a better plan, but we lived through it." The tank wasn't sure about ignoring the mechanics of the fight, but after so many wipes, he was open to the idea. We launched into Ozruk one more time, and we'd get hit with the waves of Paralysis, but then all jump back into things after it wore off. The tank's health would dip unbelievably low while the Healer was Paralyzed, but each time he'd be healed just in time to keep going. We lost a DPS or two. It wasn't me, so I didn't sweat it. And after far too long of a fight, Ozruk finally fell. Tired, weak cheers went up from the group.
We made our way along to the final boss of Stonecore - a thankfully short trip. The army of trash at her feet burned to their deaths in a deeply satisfying Rain of Fire. (Blizzard - please add more opportunities for nuking large masses of creatures in a single Rain of Fire!) The tank once again explained the fight in great detail, which I simply wanted to summarize to the group as "Don't stand in bad." My experience so far is that this final boss (I never bothered to learn her name) is the easiest of all bosses in Stonecore. Simply ignore the adds, stay out of the purple circles and away from the rumbling ground, and the rest is a faceroll. But apparently I oversimplify - because midway through the fight, our tank died. And in a flash of pure madness, I concocted a wildly reckless plan. I Soulburned my last Soul Shard to instant-summon my Voidwalker to tank for us. "TANK, JUK'NAK, TANK!" I screamed as the words "ATTACKING YOU!!!" spread across the screen. And Juk'nak - reliable old Juk'nak - threw his blue arms up in the air as he drew on Suffering and Torment to pull a very angry Boss and an army of adds off of me. I desperately searched for my long-unused Health Funnel, so that I could channel my health into Juk'nak to keep him alive longer. And somewhere in the chaos, we lost our healer. One other DPS followed immediately. My own death seemed assured. There were only two us left, (another DPS and I - and Juk'nak) still alive. I burned everything possible. Healthstone. Healing Potion. Lifeblood. Infernal. Demon Soul. The whole world seemed to burn. And I knew Juk'nak would not last much longer, even with my Health Funnel on him. Then suddenly, the boss gave a final scream and the Completion banner popped front and center. We had DONE IT.
"I'M ALIVE!" I exclaimed. It seemed impossible. Juk'nak glided over to me. I was proud of him, and gave him a pat. It's not too often that a Voidwalker tanks in Heroic Stonecore.
Overall, it was (another) brutal run in Stonecore. I racked up 26 Gold in repairs from just doing Ozruk and the final boss. But this run had MEANT something. The group had stuck together through some serious failures, and only by fighting tooth and nail, blood and bone, did we make it through. There was no complaining. No whining. Just an unending will to fight against failure over and over. Looking at the recount meters, we shouldn't have been able to pull it off. I've been in better groups that folded and quit. This time, it was not about gear. It was not about DPS. It was not even about ability. It was about giving it all and not giving in. I'm proud of everyone in that crew that stuck it out. I'm still high-fiving us all this morning, as I sit in this cubicle, starting another ordinary week in an ordinary life.