Still... I logged a few hours here and there, and finally left Zul'Drak behind. If you look at Aeven's achievements, though, you'll notice a distinct lack of The Empire of Zul'Drak. In every other zone, it's possible to get the quest achievements without overgearing or doing group quests. In Zul'Drak? Not so much. I left the zone with 3-4 unfinished quests in my log because each one involved killing an elite. Well, that's not quite true... one required me to farm elites.
Um. Yeah. So, I've got this... thing to do. Over there. Away from here. Where I can do stuff that isn't here. OK?
In other words: Aeven beat feet for Sholazar Basin, which has turned out the be the bonanza of XP, skinning and mining that she was looking for. Within about 30 minutes of hitting the basin, she had leveled up her mining to 450. Another hour or so, and - just flying around and doing quests, mind you - she had collected 4 stacks of borean leather, 2 arctic fur, 4 stacks of saronite ore, and several handfuls of various eternals.
And come to within about 400k of level 80. Woohoo!
The end is in sight. Once she hits 80... mmm. What should I do?
Option one: keep her in white gear and continue questing, until she's managed to pick up Into the Basin, The Summit of Storm Peaks, and Icecrown: The Final Goal. The downside of this would be returning to Zul'Drak to finish off the quests there, but the reward would be getting Loremaster of Northrend in common gear.
Option two: trick Aeven out in the quest rewards she's already accumulated, and continue questing. Complete the achievements for Loremaster, at which point, she'll be geared up enough to start running regular Northrend dungeons. The downside is continued questing, while the upside is getting some better gear while accumulating gold.
Option three: burn some resources, and put her in some crafted epics immediately. Enchant, gem, and prep her gear however is best, and dive into tanking regular Northrend dungeons. On the plus side, I finally get to tank Northrend dungeons! On the minus side, I spend a lot of gold and resources on gathering gear that will quickly be replaced by drops.
Decisions, decision... Oh, and somewhere in there, I want to drop skinning and power-level engineering. After I finish ripping the hides off of everything in the Sholazar Basin, I mean.
One thing for sure: more than blue gear, more than epic weapons, more than any other item... I'm looking forward to finally getting Aeven something other than the Runecloth Bags she's been hauling around for 80 levels now. Bag space! Hallelujah!