World of Warcraft: Shadowlands' coolest new mount is breaking my heart

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(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)
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World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

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You might think the best part of a new World of Warcraft expansion is all the new zones, quests, and dungeons, but you're wrong. It has been and always will be the new mounts. After all, what's the point of saving the galaxy if you don't have a six-foot-tall frog to ride into battle. Or a two-headed bone dragon. Or a giant green fox. With 84 new mounts added in Shadowlands, there's a lot of options to choose from. And then I saw the spectral, blood-red beauty that is Sinrunner Blanchy. Though Warcraft has hundreds of horse mounts, none of them are this striking or cool. I knew I had to have her no matter what it took, but I didn't expect that journey would reveal an extremely tragic backstory 16 years in the making. 

Horse whisperer 

Sinrunner Blanchy is currently one of the hardest mounts to get in Shadowlands—but not in the way you might expect. Instead of having a miniscule chance of dropping from ultra-tough bosses or being the reward for completing a gruelling series of achievements, Blanchy is the reward for solving a complicated puzzle that can easily eat up an entire week of playing. Hell, it took a whole brigade from WoW's Secret Finding Discord to figure it all out.

Here's how it works: Roughly every few hours, Sinrunner Blanchy will spawn at the northern tip of the Endmire in Revendreth. From there, she will begin running through the zone until reaching the far end, where she immediately despawns for another few hours. She runs so fast that players have no hope of catching her, so instead they have to block her path and try and intercept her somewhere along her route (naturally, this is easier right where she initially spawns). Running into Blanchy will force her to stop, letting you interact with her.

To actually get Blanchy as a mount, you have to do this once every 24 hours for six whole days. Each time you stop her, she'll require a new item to progress to the next phase of the puzzle. On day one, for example, you'll need to give her eight handfuls of oats, and on day two you can use a grooming brush obtained from a stablehand in Revendreth. 

As a Death Knight, I have a binding obligation to ride undead horses into battle—and Sinrunner Blanchy's ethereal red glow would look smashing when paired with the crimson Venthyr plate armor I plan to obtain as I grind deeper into Shadowland's endgame. But as I started knocking out the initial steps of the puzzle, I also began reading the different guides on how to obtain her more closely, and god dammit I'm so sad now.

The tragic tale of Old Blanchy 

I began reading Wowhead's guide to obtaining her more closely, not realizing it was a rabbithole of sadness.

If you're not up to speed on WoW's story at this point, the gist is that Sylvanus has shattered the interdimensional barrier between the living world and the afterlife, called the Shadowlands. The Shadowlands isn't your typical afterlife, however. Every mortal soul that dies is first appraised by the Arbiter who determines which of the hundreds of mini-heavens or mini-hells you go to depending on your deeds. 

It's a cool enough place on its own, but what's really special is how Shadowlands is letting players reconnect with characters both big and small from Warcraft history. Uther Lightbringer makes a brief appearance along with Hakkar the Soulflayer—who is responsible for kicking off a plague that decimated Azeroth's capital cities for almost a week back in 2005. Players even managed to finally find Mankrik's wife, the subject of one of vanilla WoW's most infamous sidequests. 

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

As I sat with a party of other players waiting for her to spawn, I began reading Wowhead's guide to obtaining her more closely, not realizing it was a rabbithole of sadness. Though I had forgotten it, I realized this wasn't the first time I met Blanchy. Back in 2004, Alliance players who ventured into the flaxen fields of Westfall encountered Verna Furlbrow next to a broken down wagon. Verna offered a simple quest: Go out into the fields and gather some oats for poor Old Blanchy, her loyal but exhausted work horse. In return, Verna would give you Old Blanchy's Blanket, one of the first capes any player was likely to receive from a quest.

I wish I could say that was the end of Blanchy's story, that she lived happily ever after with a belly full of oats. But after venturing north in Wrath of the Lich King with the Westfall Brigade to fight back Arthas and his undead armies, Blanchy returned to Westfall in the Cataclysm expansion to find its peaceful pastures soaked in blood. The Defias Brotherhood, longtime ruffians of the area, were done hiding in the shadows and began a murder spree across Westfall.

Players who reached level 10 in Cataclysm were sent to Westfall via a written summons, asked to come investigate a heinous murder. Upon arriving in Westfall, players would find Verna Furlbrow and her husband dead and Blanchy's corpse wedged under Verna's wagon. All three of them had been offed by Defias thugs. That was the end of Old Blanchy—until Shadowlands, that is.

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Warning: This image is sad. (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Because I skipped Cataclysm, I had no idea that Old Blanchy, this inconsequential horse from 2004, had come to such a miserable end. When I finally managed to intercept her for the first time, I was really saddened by what the in-game description had to say: "Dead Blanchy's eyes are frenzied. Her form is sickly and gaunt. She is clearly famished and needs a hearty meal."

According to WoW canon, Blanchy has been dead for a full decade at this point. Looking at the guide on Wowhead, which helpfully lists all of the text that happens at each phase of the quest, I realized that I wasn't just solving some innocuous puzzle to earn a cool mount. I was rehabilitating the spirit of a loyal horse that had spent a decade in one of the Shadowlands' most awful zones, neglected and terrified. It broke my heart.

I can't get over how sad this virtual horse is making me.

It's given my quest to earn Blanchy a surprise, emotional motivation, something I don't often experience in World of Warcraft. It's a game so driven by making numbers go higher or banging out weekly chores for small rewards that it's easy to lose that connection to the world. I don't want to get Blanchy just because she is cool looking. I genuinely feel like I need to rescue this poor horse from an undeserved hell. I have to save Blanchy.

I hate to say it, but it gets even sadder: Now that enough time has passed since Shadowlands' release, a few players have managed to save Blanchy. Curious to know what would happen, some sicko took her back to her own corpse in Westfall. Approaching Blanchy's corpse while riding her spirit version immediately dismounts the player and the chatbox reads, "Sinrunner Blanchy screams in anguish and then fades from view."

I can't get over how sad this virtual horse is making me. Shadowlands is an expansion that goes all-in on the story and, as Fraser noted earlier today, that often means a lot of sitting around bored while different characters talk at you. There's so much talk of world-ending threats and big, evil villains but it's these little details—tiny nods to ancient and forgotten characters of Warcraft history—that are so rewarding (and a little haunting).

Don't worry, Blanchy. I'm going to save you.

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.