I know I posted this in a thread on the forums, but I wanted to post a slightly altered/updated version here in my blog about the tiger who means so much to me:
Sure he was just another white tiger, sure he was just an elite who looked like a carbon copy of King B, but that cat has come to mean so much to me over the past few years even though I never got to tame him nor even see him in the game before his untimely disappearance. The first time I ever laid eyes on this cat was in a screenshot which accompanied a blog from a dwarf huntress saying that she hated that cat. I couldn't help but wonder why she did, except that he must've been quite a challenging tame, and even though he looked like King B's twin, I really liked him despite that, and I absolutely adored his name. That was when I knew that I absolutely had to have that cat.
At that time, Toph was a draenei shaman and I was struggling to like the class, but I gave up, deleted her, and changed her into a blood elf huntress who's sole interest was cats, and her eventual goal and greatest challenge - Hawkbane. I leveled her as fast as I could, and I don't remember how far I'd gotten with her, but it wasn't very far since I still played other characters at the time as well, and I wasn't even remotely close to being able to set foot in Outland when I learned that Hawkbane had been removed from the game.
I was heartbroken.
Toph ended up shelved for a long time after that because my sole reason for playing her had been removed without any clear explanation, but part of me never gave up hope that perhaps, one day, he would make a return. Sure I still played her once and a while, but I knew that I'd lost my reason to do so until I remembered about Takk the Leaper, who became Toph's main pet alongside Dishu. Pets came and went as I tried to find her complete stable, and even Dishu ended up being released in order to find the right balance as Toph's interest in pets shifted from cats to reptiles in my futile attempt to get Hawkbane off my mind. It didn't feel right, though, nothing I tried did. Again, Toph was shelved in favor of other characters as I struggled to find someone to be my main, but my mind kept going back to her, and eventually, she was level seventy. I managed to quest in Skettis on another hunter of mine, Atreja, but I never really felt at ease there because I knew that someone was missing, but what could I do about it? Hawkbane was gone and probably doomed to stay that way.
Then Wrath was released, and I learned of King Krush, and given a reason to level Toph again, but things kept stopping me. At that time, another hunter of mine, Zerai, was my main, and I guess you could say that I wasn't motivated enough by Krush to level Toph because I was afraid of him up and disappearing like Hawkbane had. That never happened, though, and eventually, I ended up playing Toph with my boyfriend and his brother, and we ended up getting to 76 before they both quit for some reason, and again, Toph was shelved in favor of Zerai. Then, I learned that Bestial Wrath would be getting nerfed and elites level 75 and higher would be getting a buff to their damage, so I knew I had to hurry and level now or I'd never get to tame him. I didn't want to lose my chance with him like I'd lost it with Hawkbane. Somehow I managed to get Toph to 80 in time, and after five stressful days of searching, help and moral support from my best friend, a pleasant surprise in Loque'nahak, and the help of a nice priest, Krush was finally mine and I was happy because Toph was now my main, and I was comfortable about it. Hawkbane had become nothing more than a faint, sad memory to me... or so I'd thought.
Then, I tried to go back to Outland and do Skyguard rep on Toph.
It was... uncomfortable... for me being in Skettis on her and her Skyguard rep still isn't finished even now.
I once ran into somebody who either had the real deal or just a white tiger named Hawkbane, but it... still hurt. A lot. I stopped in my tracks when I saw him, just stared at him, then I turned and ran away from him as fast as I could go because it hurt me that much. Somebody else... had my cat... and I could never have him myself, ever.
Fast forward to the revelation of Cataclysm and the revelation of 25 stable slots. I was happy along with everyone else since I could finally have so many pets I didn't have room for previously and shiny new pets recently made tamable after years of waiting, and I even finished most of the Skyguard quests in order to tame Gezzarak because I've always liked her. Then the actual expansion was released, and having learned about Jadefang, I leveled Toph as fast as I could in order to tame her, eventually overcoming my hatred of Deepholm and learning that I actually liked that zone. Jadefang came home on Christmas Eve, then right before New Year's Eve, Toph tripped over Sambas and tamed him as well. Her stables have shifted quite a bit, and even though I loved all these additions, her stable wasn't and would never be truly complete.
Fast forward to the beginning of February and the revelation that a big chunk of previously MIA pets are coming back, and then it suddenly hit me and everything came flooding back.
Everyone was coming back but him, and I had to do something about that... or at least try to.
I swallowed all my fear and mustered every ounce of courage I had and made two threads, one on the Petopia forums, and one on the official US hunter forums. The one on the Petopia forums ended up with really good results, which practically floored me, while the other...yeah... let's not go into that.
The following day after making my threads, I'd gone back to Skettis with my best friend to finally release my Gezzarak because despite how much I like her, we just weren't bonding, and I knew she would never be able to replace Hawkbane. I released her at the same skull pile I'd tamed her at the day the Shattering patch went live, then I did something I'd never been able to do before... I took my best friend to Blackwind Valley, to show her the cave where Hawkbane once lived.
I've never cried so hard over a pet in this game ever.
Even though I never got to meet him or even see him in the game before his removal, Hawkbane has been a constant presence within my mind all these years, and though I feel a bond between us, I'm just not really sure how to describe it except it's like waiting and hoping to finally meet a friend after so long. I feel, I know, that he's.... my cat... and if I didn't try to do anything about his disappearance, who would have? Gezzarak got her chance, the red warpstalkers got their chance, Death Ravager got his chance, so why can't Hawkbane get another chance, too?
Toph's years-long bond with her Takk the Leaper, Jet, also came to an end, but I'm okay with that. I released him in the exact spot I'd tamed him all those years ago close to the Sludge Fen in the Northern Barrens, with my best friend by my side to give me the support I needed for this. Jet walked by her side all these years in Hawkbane's stead since he couldn't and we both know that because if and when Hawkbane ever makes his return, he'll finally be able to come home. With the recent addition of Sulik, the black Madexx, to Toph's stables; however, I feel that Jet's not gone. I don't know how to really explain it, but I feel that Sulik is Jet in a new body with a new name, but that's a different story entirely.
Fast forward to a few days ago, and threads about the PTR had been popping up, and I was floored to see one thread I'd been hoping for: Hawkbane was back! But in what skin? I remember having talked to Kalliope and a few other people in my old thread about how interesting it would be if Hawkbane came back as a dawnsaber, and with this on my mind, I took a deep breath and clicked on the thread title...
Only to nearly lose it when I saw the huge white tiger with the wingless silver dragon border around his name happily munching away on a dead arakkoa. Hawkbane was Hawkbane!!! He wasn't some strange skin I'd have to get used to, he was himself!! I admit that not seeing a winged golden dragon border around his name anymore still makes me arch a brow, but I'm getting used to it. I'm just so, so happy that he'll be coming home once the patch hits Live. Even if I end up camping who knows how long for him.
Hawkbane's finally got his second chance at life. He'll finally... finally... be coming home, and I couldn't have done this without all the support I'd gotten over on the Petopia forums.