Knifey may be retired now but he is still around to share some wisdom with the rest of the guild. During last year's midsummer festival Knifey dared to enter the four Horde capital cities to steal their flames, being rewarded with a neat crown for his efforts. This year's midsummer festival has begun and I, as Gnomesblight the death knight, decide to repeat this intrepid adventure. I have Knifey's knowledge of where the fires are in each of the capitals and it is unlikely that the Horde have moved them, so I head off along with a guild member who is keen to share the experience.
The first target is likely the easiest. Undercity's fire is just inside the entrance to the city, on the surface, making it the shortest trip to steal. Flying to Chillwind Point in the Western Plaguelands and making use of my path of frost ability to travel over water as if it were land makes reaching Undercity quick and easy. Making sure my guild companion is ready, knowing that as soon as we step in to a Horde city we will be marked as fair game for anyone who wants to persuade us with their weapons to leave without us being able to strike pre-emptively, we make a dash for the main entrance. The fire is next to the entrance and to the left, making it easy for us to steal it and beat a hasty retreat before anyone realises what has happened.
The second target must be Silvermoon City, as it is not only on the same continent as Undercity but also in the north. We ride back to Chillwind Point and fly up to Zul'Aman in the Ghostlands. Stopping only to desecrate the Horde flames in Ghostlands and Eversong Woods we quickly reach the entrance to Silvermoon City. Knifey told me that the Horde flame in here is at the end of the charmingly named Murder Row. In we ride, attracting the attention of many guards, only a handful of whom decide to return to their posts to prevent further incursions. Luckily, our mounts are faster than the footmen and we reach the flame at the end of Murder Row with enough time to steal it before the guards reach us. But the guards do reach us and as we are kept in combat we cannot mount to leave.
However, the guards are not quite as strong as we are. Or, at least me, as my companion is a healing druid. I know that Knifey wasn't at the pinnacle of his training, instead lacking a few levels at the time of last year's midsummer celebrations, but the two of us both are at the peak and I have no trouble engaging and defeating a small swarm of guards, particularly as no hostile Horde heroes are around to get involved. Leaving a pile of guard bodies lying around we are able to call our mounts and begin to ride out of Silvermoon City. As we head down to the main entrance I can't help but let out an amused chuckle as a raid of what must be twenty Alliance characters come charging the other way, 'bravely' attempting to steal the Horde flame that we just managed easily as a simple duo.
With two flames stolen there are only two left to take, both in Kalimdor. Two more guild members show up and they join us as we ride to Orgrimmar. Making use of path of frost again we fly to Forest Song in Ashenvale and jump off the bridge that connects to Azshara to head south along the river, riding on the water itself. It is not long before the side entrance to Orgrimmar can be seen, our route bypassing several junctions and a necessary u-turn, making it surprisingly quick. The flame in the busiest of the Horde cities can be found in the Valley of Wisdom, outside Thrall's chamber. I fear this is the most dangerous flame to steal, partly because of the depth needed to penetrate in to the city but mostly because of the population that is likely to be encountered. Heading in the side entrance removes much of the threat of the main gate, which would involve travelling past the crowded buildings of the bank and auction house.
Riding around the back of Orgrimmar still attracts plenty of guards, although the wide and open landscape of the rustic Horde capital allows for some guards to be given a wide berth and avoided. The path soon narrows as we overlook the main courtyard and the threat of our situation grows, but not as much as when we reach the flame. There are many Horde characters taking part in the festivities and although we catch them unawares enough each to grab the flame the appearance and shouts of the guards alerts enough of them for us to be attacked quickly and viciously. We become conscious again at a spirit healer in Durotar, not wishing to attempt to retrieve our bodies in the heart of Orgrimmar, but at least we have the flame.
I learn later from Sapphire, who made the same flame-stealing adventure the next day, that when entering the Valley of Wisdom she moved off the path to hug the wall on the right, where she scampered across a building's roof that overlooked the fire and jumped down mostly unseen and confusing the guards. Using that route, as well as having an advantage of being earlier in the day, Sapphire was able to steal the flame and ride out of Orgrimmar unscathed. Mind you, despite her success in Orgrimmar her run wasn't entirely smooth. A particularly hostile warlock was protecting the Silvermoon City flame well enough to defeat her, although not before she managed to steal it successfully.
Only the Thunder Bluff flame remains to be stolen to complete the collection. We ride from Durotar across to the Barrens, stopping to desecrate the flame at Crossroads, heading south and then west to Mulgore. One more flame is desecrated before heading north to Thunder Bluff itself. Like Orgrimmar—and, I suppose Undercity, although the sewer entrance doesn't help with this particular task—there are two entrances to the Tauren capital. The main entrance is easy and obvious to find, enough to make it rather too obvious despite the likelihood of meeting little or no resistance from powerful Tauren characters. The rear entrance is less-used for being further to travel and offering little advantage for doing so. However, the advantage for us is precisely this lack of use, and the path to the Spirit Rise, where Knifey remembers the flame to be, can be accessed just as easily from either entrance.
The added danger of Thunder Bluff comes from it being situated on the top of tall bluffs that require lifts to reach, needing us either to time our runs or wait for the lifts to descend. It's lucky that Thunder Bluff is quite remote, as few Tauren are around and we are only impeded in our run by some the city guards. There is slight concern as we need to ride through one of the buildings to access the bridge to Spirit Rise, but if done quickly enough our mounts won't get startled and dismiss themselves, and indeed I am able to ride through the building and on to the bridge without being dismounted. The flame is clearly visible on Spirit Rise and we are able to steal it without resistance, at least until a handful of guards catch us.
With plenty of health I jump from the Rise to the ground below, landing painfully but alive. Our priest uses a slow falling spell and our other guild members make it out of Thunder Bluff a little scuffed but otherwise unaffected and we ride back to Alliance territory. Reaching a capital I examine each flame and accept the quest to hand them in, one-by-one, after which the elder grants me a quest to confirm that I have stolen each of the four flames from the Horde capital cities. With this I am awarded the achievement King of the Fire Festival as well as the honour of wearing the associated Crown of the Fire Festival. It has been another glorious start to the midsummer celebrations!