I thought I had escaped. I really did.

I hit level 52 with my Paladin, see, and it all kinda petered out. My Warcraft buddy & I started playing other games again, my kids got all into it (so, see, I couldn’t be on the account as much), and my life generally returned to focus.

Well… I’m level 54 now, and I’m a mere 1.5 bubbles from 55. I’m so close to the peak, the end, that glorious pillar known as Level 60, that I can taste it.

(For those of you with little or no World of Warcraft knowledge, level 60 is the highest level you can reach. A “bubble” is a piece of your experience bar, for reasons that become clear when you see the interface. And know that the internal counter they provide for you to track the level of your addiction reports my time logged on this one character as nearing 400 hours of gameplay.)

So I want to talk about two things today. 1) Yetis, and 2) Being level 54.

1) Yetis

I can now speak with some authority on the topic of Yetis. In particular, the Yetis that make their home (or, made, anyway) in the snowy Winterspring hills near Everlook are of some passing familiarity to me.

See, there’s this goblin woman in Everlook, who (get this) wants to make a Yeti Robot of some kind. It’s a hair-brained scheme at best, but heck, she’s payin’ for Yeti pelts & horns, so off we go.

See, though, it’s the horns. She wants “Pristine Yeti Horns”. Not “Dented Yeti Horns”, or even “Roughly Handled Yeti Horns”. Nope. “Pristine”.

Which is all good! I mean, I’m all for hiring my sword out to the utter decimation of an entire species for the recovery of a few pelts & horns. (The fact that they respawn like mad alleviates my guilt some.) But, MAN!

We two, Paladins both, killed, oh, I don’t know… 400 Yetis? Something like that. That might be an exaggeration (I wasn’t exactly keeping track). We got into this zone where the Yetis were falling left and right, one after the other, with hardly a pause between fights, so it is all rather blurry in my mind… all white ice, fur, horns, and snow.

We didn’t get our horns. We’re going back, I fear.

2) Being Level 54

The game has opened, in some funny way. I went to the Eastern Plaguelands on a whim last night, and had this strange sort of feeling come over me. Understand that the Eastern Plaguelands are, in many ways, the End of the Game. It’s pretty much where the game stops adding new map sections to explore. All the monsters are 50th-60th level, there’s this HUGE dungeon at the far end of it… so I came in, and pretty much everything I saw I could reasonably fight. Or, would be able to in like 2 levels.

Contrast this to the experience of going into every other new section of land. Which is: you walk in, enjoy the scenery, and then immediately start seeing creatures that you have no business fighting. “Ahhh,” you say, “I’ll be fighting those in a few levels.” You chuckle, and, sure enough, are soon stomping them into the ground with abandon.

I feel as though I’ve come around a corner, and quite suddenly can see the end. It’s exactly 6 levels ahead, and has lots and lots of dungeons in it. After so many hours of gameplay, it was a moment I wasn’t quite expecting. I suppose one imagines that the end of a great road will be filled with fanfare. It seems that this one is more filled with a gentle familiarity.