There is a goddess in WoW; her name is Arenjee. She is a capricious sort at the best of times, and even if you should heap her altars with offerings, or prostrate yourself to her in prayer a dozen times a day, the chances are she’s not paying attention, and is off somewhere, perhaps lying on a sofa reading a magazine, or pulling the wings off insects.
Arenjee is sometimes held in check by the elder god, Blizzard. She is subject to his whims, and sometimes he thinks she might have gone too far, gives her a rap across the knuckles, and removes whatever caprice she’s been inflicting on mortals.
What is Arenjee’s purpose, you might ask? Blizzard created her, and threw her into the world of his creation, in order to work mischief, much like Eris, the goddess of Chaos, in earlier pantheons. Theologists of WoW might consider that Blizzard had to create Arenjee because the mortals shouldn’t take things for granted. There is this other form of worship called ‘grind’. Without ‘grind’, mortals might not even believe in the gods any more. And there is one area of the sacred grind that is perhaps more sacred and contentious than others: The Rare Pet.
Listen now, for I have a tale.
Once upon a time, upon the world of Azeroth, there was a distant isle called Tol Barad. Upon this isle were many creatures and peoples, whose lives were mostly blighted by the followers of the god Blizzard invading their space and killing them. (Well, they knew this was their lot, even if they didn’t understand it.) Among the varied creatures of this isle was one known as the Baradin Fox. Mortals knew that slaughtering this lowly animal held a potential prize. It was the rare and much desired Fox Kit, this poor cubling wrenched from the still warm body of its murdered parent. But it was a rare and mysterious creature. Mortals might put one Baradin Fox to the sword (or spell, depending on their murderous preferences) and a kit might tumble forth from the corpse. Or they might kill over 12,000 of the unfortunate foxes and not one bleeding cadaver might offer up its progeny. The reason for this somewhat startling discrepancy between the likelihood of finding a kit among the entrails was down to one thing, or rather one goddess: Arenjee. She hovered over the isle, laughing, and when she’d downed a few cocktails of an evening, might decide to point her finger at a mortal and grant them success in their sacred grinding. Other times, she elected to make all the Baradin Foxes barren for months.
Blizzard, like Arenjee, can be capricious and rather random in his decisions. The winds of change and destiny blow across all worlds, even virtual ones. Blizzard had decided that mortals – who he after all relied upon to believe in him and thus ensure his existence – might enjoy pitting the many small creatures found upon Azeroth in battle against each other. He put much thought into this idea and created a fairly complex modus operandi for this illicit pleasure. Mortals, he knew, loved killing things. And if the things were small and squeaked in agony, or perhaps exploded in a mass of feathers with a dismal squawk upon death, even better. He cast his eye upon Arenjee’s favourite small beast: the Tol Barad fox kit. Well to be fair she had other favourites, but for some reason Blizzard forgot to notice them. “The mortals will like this playful little creature in their teams of beast death,” Blizzard mused, “but Arenjee has really put the little beast out in the ethers somewhere. I know, I’ll make it so that a humble merchant upon Tol Barad will have an endless black market supply of fox kits to sell. That should please people.”
But what do you think, my dears? Did it please people or not? Those of the sacred grind gnashed their teeth, tore their hair and daubed ashes upon their faces. “We worshipped Arenjee for two years,” they wailed. “And she stooped to bless us. We bled for her, we suffered the dark night of the soul of the Great Ennui. Our hands are raw with fox killing. In what crazy universe does a god say, ‘oh never mind, that task was a bit irksome, meet my friend Mr Merchant, he has foxes’?”
Other mortals said, “Oh thank the gods, I was beginning to feel like an ivory poacher. I actually rather like foxes, and killing twelve thousand of them made me feel rather nauseous. Cheers, Blizz, here are two offertory candles and a year’s subscription.’
It is not down to us mortals to question the ways of the gods.