Army of One: How To Solo …

After thinking about it for a short while, about 50 seconds, I decided that what the Exodar Sisters lack in order to gain more visitors than me, myself, I and a stray cat looking for porn, is guides. It appears that quite a lot of succesful World of Warcraft-blogs out there on the internets have – guides. There’s guides to pet battles and fishing. There’s guides to raiding and PvP. I’m pretty sure there’s guides to ERP as well (though I haven’t exactly googled for it). So, if I’m ever to break into the pro league of WoW blogging I need a guide section.

I’m going to create soloing guides.

Nifty, eh?

Now … given who I am, these guides … well … erhm … might be useful. Of sorts. I’m sure everyone has had some trouble with som old content at some point. So just to create a stabile footing for the excursions into the Truly Heroic – how to defeat a Terrible Monster on Your Own! – I’m starting with the basics.

So here it is, ladies, gentlemen, virmen and gnolls:

How To Solo Hogger at Level 90.

Army of One: How To Solo Hogger

hogger

(This is satire.)

The pillars of soloing are three. Three are the pillars of soloing. Not two, not one, but four. Four are the pillars of soloing. The pillars of …

Ok, to quote the death knight: “Get on with it!”.

Fashion.
Preparation.
Surveillance.
Execution.

Now, all of the parts are of equal importance to a successful soloing so I’m going to break each point down. In the end you will have a simple step by step-guide to soloing almost any content.

Fashion

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“You’re not going outside dressed like that, lady of an uncertain lifespan!”

Soloing is not for the weak. It takes dedication, commitment, skill. More importantly, you have to wear The Right Thing. Gear is of the utmost importance in soloing. Since I’m doing this guide with the help of the slightly quirky paladin Shuanna

(“Hey!”)

I decided to go for a simple but elegant theme: Red and gold.

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“Preparing for battle: A blessing wouldn’t hurt.”

(Shoulders: Judgement Shoulders Chest: Hyperion Armor  Gloves: Flameguard Gauntlets  Belt: Conquerors Girdle  Legs: Legplates of Blazing Light  Boots: Magma Tempered Boots  Weapon: Firemaul of Destruction)

I was thinking about the Saltstone set first, but then I remembered – maybe adults might read this. Someone has to think about the grown-ups!)

Oh? iLvl? Yeah, uh … whatever you like? I’m no good at numbers, I usually ask a friendly robot about what to actually wear.

Preparation
The prepping part coincides at some levels with the Surveillance part. But we have to start somewhere so we might as well start with Talents. Now, Talents might need to be changed up and around a bit depending on what information our Surveillance reveals, but for this example I went with a decent build:

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If I can survive Garrosh Hellscream knowing this, Hogger shouldn’t be that much of a problem.

I’m known to play loose with rules, however. Some people might be more cautious than me. You simply have to experiment a bit. don’t be afraid to wipe – that’s part of the learning curve! Not long ago a levle 90 death knight decided to solo Hogger unarmed, naked and AFK. That didn’t end well (thus it’s not a recommended path to glory).

Surveillance
There’s actually two parts to this: Theory and practice. The theory bit is simple enoough. Just go to a relevant credible internet source and read up on the boss you’re about to solo – Wowhead is an excellent source for a lot of information on the experience of the encounter from other players. I learned a lot about Hogger perusing the comments.

The more practical bit is a little bit dangerous but might turn out to be a very exciting adventure. Now, some classes are better suited for “cloak and shadow” than others, so for the practical surveillance part I decided to call on an old friend.

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Sheylah the Rogue, Special Operative of SI:7, a very experienced information gatherer and occasional agent for “wet work”. For Hogger, I decided to break up the surveillance bit into two parts: Aerial surveillance and close encounter surveillance.

The aerial part obviously only works with outdoor bosses (or bosses not instanced – meaning those not in a dungeon or raid environment). I decided to make a low altitude fly-by first, scouting out possible hotspots for trouble.

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“Target aquired.”

What I learned proved very useful once I sent Sheylah in. She air dropped from high altitude into the water some distance away from Hogger and very carefully made her way towards the objective. In order to make it easier for the final kill, a few guards had to be … immobilized.

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“Stop licking your daggers, Shey! You’re a night elf, not an orc!”

Execution

Well I just went up to him and smacked him really hard.

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Unholy

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A few weeks ago I had to get away from the grind for Titan Runestones and other things necessary for yet another legendary cloak (because, honestly, Vassannah can’t stop teasing Shuanna at family dinners; “Look, Shu! I’ve got wings! Tee-heee!”). So I dabbled a bit with a few diferent classes but no one made it past level 10. During this episode I took some time to read som old posts of mine. Suddenly, a name popped up.

Menea.

She’s not an Exodar Sister per se. She’s not “related” to the others, but she does have a part to play. What part? Time will tell (I’m sneaky; I’m planning out a backstory in advance!). Since I allready have a rather good death knight I decided to twist Menea another way. I’ve never managed to get a handle on Unholy. The only way for me to truly learn a class is to play it from the beginning. If time permits before the Iron Horde comes crashing down upon us I’m hoping she’ll get a cloak as well.

Here she is, the newborn. Say hello to my little friend!

Menea, the unholy Death Knight.

- – – – -

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“Do not seek death … “
But there was other words too, burned into Meneas memory, unshakeable. Mrs Mary Lorena Dorrington, the redeemed Forsaken, an apothecary in the service of the Argent Dawn, wasn’t the only one who had spoken to her. Words, no other memories from the terrible moment to the … reawakening.

“Your will is not … your own. A vindicator, eh?.” There had been a scoff and a pause. Ah yes! She remember the cold stone floor, a chill seeping in through skin that felt too tight over muscles, a frost deep within her bones. All within that moment of a pause, no longer than a thoughtful breath. Then: “Rise!”

She did. She rose. There was a flicker of rebellion deep within her, but she wasn’t strong enough. Not then. She shambled forward. There was a faint memory of serving the Light, deep within her, but she would serve only darkness. She straightened up. There was a memory of a fleeting image, how she had stood tall on a wall of bloodied sandstone, keeping the tide of orcs back before she, too, had fled the sacred city.

“Menea, prove yourself!”

Someone handed her a sword. Someone clad her in armor. It was all very strange. She tried to speak but her tongue wouldn’t move.

“Useless piece of dead meat, go over there and kill the bitch!”

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So Menea did.

A machine of undeath. Bereft of mind, sanity, will. Methodical in the cleansing of Tyrs Hand, body upon body. Eventually she gained her voice – her new voice. Harsh, whispering. She wouldn’t talk above a whisper ever again.

The army of death swept across the land. She led the charge. Then … something …happened.

“Do you not remember the mountains of Argus?”

She didn’t. She cut off his head, mechanical in her motions, remorseless. But something happened. Why was there a sudden, but faint, flash of pain deep within her? At first she thought she had ripped a tendon. As time passed by and the pain didn’t go away, she became used to it. Like a thorn, ap inprick, deep within her heart.

As Ashbringer was raised in the air in the Battle of Lights Hope, the pain exploded. She succumbed. The machine broke down. She crawled on all fours, blinded with pain, hissing like a snake. For quite some time she was left for dead. But as the clean-up began and she was tossed into a pitch-filled pit about to be set ablaze …

She rose. The flicker of rebellion deep within her exploded. She hissed, as loud as she could, grabbing the first weapon she would find – a pickaxe. She shambled forward, screaming crusaders fled before her. Her steps began to find its stride. Thus, clad in a broken saronite armor, covered in pitch, she strode forward. Then she dropped her weapon and knelt in front of the most unlikely lord she could possibly imagine. Lord Fordring.

“Death.” she said. “I am Death.”
“No, child,” he replied. “You are a Knight!”
Someone handed her a blackened sword.
“Welcome to the Knights of the Ebon Blade.”

She might have laughed, she can’t remember. Undoubtedly she hissed. There was another battle afterwards, but everything became a blur once the Lich King left her mind. Did she meet a king? Perhaps. She found herself back in the Plaguelands eventually. Nothing more but a whimpering piece of unholy meat. Rotting. She sat down with her back against a tree not far from Darrowshire and decided to … wither.

Then she came. Mrs Mary Lorena Dorrington, the redeemed Forsaken, an apothecary in the service of the Argent Dawn.
“Do not seek death … “
“I’m allreay dead.”
“We all are. Some people just don’t know it yet.”
“There is no hope.”
“There is always hope.”
“You’re dead too.”
“I like to think of it as an unforseen malady, thank you very much.”
“I am nothing without him.”
“Yes you are. Why do you keep clutching that locket?”

To wich Menea looked down on her hands. True enough, she held a khorium locket with an adamantite chain in her hands. Clutching it, like a trinket of good fortune. When she opened it there was a portrait of a young draenei, a woman.

“She’s dead too.”
“Who is she?”
“We joined the … we fought together. We … died. Together.”
“Then she must have a name.”
“Yesss … “
“Well? Spit it out. I haven’t got all day!”
“Zavannah.”
“You were friends?”
“No … we were … more.”
“Then you should find her.”
“I don’t know how.”
“Ah, see, well. I do!”

Mrs Dorrington, Dorry to her friends, did. It was a complex ritual requiring many ingredients. Salts, powders, potions, elixirs, candles … Menea was charged with her first truly epic quest: Gather the materials. As Dorry said:
“It will take you through space and time, through life and death, through truth – and consequence. You might not like what you find about yourself.”

Oh, but she did. Once, upon returning to Lights Hope Chapel with yet another bag full of precious materials necessary for the seeking ritual, Dorry asked Menea a simple question:
“Why do you kill?”

Menea thought about it, for quite some time. Then she replied:
“I only kill to know I’m alive.”

Restart

I’ve been far too lax with the Exodar Sisters lately. One of the things keeping me away from the words has been a sort of creative faintness. Not exactly a writers block – I’ve been writing a lot of “work related” stuff after all – but more of a drowsiness. As if the words were a brook that someone had built a dam across. Initially a rather sucessful dam, sort of when The Loosers Club in Stephen Kings “It” dammed up the brook going through the Barrens (eventually backing up plumbing miles away). But, as luck have it, someone blew a hole in the dam the other day.

It was a walk that did it. A rather grizzled walk at that. I’m going to make a mental note here – don’t go for a walk when it’s almost 30 degrees celsius outside. Anyhow – the heat apparaently shook loose some cretive stones (I wish it would improve my spelling as well but you can’t have it all, huh?).

Thus I’ve decided to redo the blog a bit. A new design, a bit of an update. Cleaning away some debris, leaving it brand spanking new. Or at least a bit more polished.

Updates to follow during the day … if this heat doesn’t cook me alive.

(Seriously, weather, stop being so fond of sunshine! Go rain or something!)

The Silvermoon Sisters

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“Kamelia the Priest, not particularly fond of orcs”

 

The news broke in guild chat the other night that EU-Saurfang, the home server of the Exxodar Sisters, was finally scheduled to connect with two other realms, EU-Darkspear-Terokkar (both has been connected earlier). This was quite a suprise. While I have been anticipating a connection I didn’t think it would happen anytime soon. But it did.

First I thought – ’11 new draenei!’. Then I thought – ‘wattaminit! 22 new draenei!’. Then the second in command of the guild yelled “FOR THE HORDE!!!” in guild chat. After being admonished for such traitorous behaviour in an Alliance guild she explained why. It was a simple reason, really.

Let’s take a look at the dark side.

I thought short and not particularly hard about it. While I do love my draenei, and while I do have a number of projects in the making for them, things has become a bit stale. The routine of VP capping, the routine of Timeless Isle runs and the routine of LFR for Runestones and Secrets – it’s a bit boring. It’s not that I’ve taken on too much. I cope just fine with the quest for legendary capes for Shuanna the Paladin, Sharenne the Warlock and Kittyanna the Shaman. It’s just – routine.

In order to shake things up a bit I too ventured over to the Horde. With brand new characters on EU-Darkspear (wich hence will be my Horde server) I’m of to a flying start. Those few readers I probably have – my cats and myself most likely – might remember my latest incursion of Horde territory. That didn’t end well; Marikka the Deserter “opened an inn”. As it happened in Thunder Bluff. Then a rather demagogue blog post spewed forth from my brain. Mea culpa.

The thing is … I can’t find “that” with orcs. Or tauren. Or goblins. Definitely not with the Forsaken (allthough I have a slight hunch that once my mr Hyde takes control of my brain I will forfeit the alignment Neutral Evil/Neutral Good and go Chaotic Evil, likely with a warlock). Trolls are kind of cuddly and cool, that’s true. I like their attitude. But, in the end there was just one wway to go:

Blood elf.

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“Laveria the Rogue, the mercenary”

 

Maybe I have a thing for minority people on the brink of destruction. The Outland genocide of the Draenei decimated them with up to 80% of the entire population. Kael’Thas Sunstriders crazy antics almost led to the destruction of the entire blood elf population. In fact, both draenei and Blood Elves have something in common: They are the True Underdogs, not particularly well liked in either faction. Draenei is the underdogs of the Alliance. Blood Elves – they’re the dissenters of the Horde. They do what they have to doin order to survive both as individuals and as a culture.

Wich is why Kamelia the Shadow Priest is supporting Sylvanas Windrunner and scorns any orc that dares suggest she’d do his quest. Wich is also why Laveria the Rogue don’t give a damned about who’s paying her. Needless to say, after a few days on EU-Darkspear Laveria is the most prosperous one. It pays to be a mercenary. I just wonder how her backstory will be.

Thus the Silvermoon Sisters is born. A spin-off, one might say. So far Kamelia and Laveria are the only ones “living” but over time their family will probably grow as well. It don’t appear that World of Warcraft will shut down it’s servers anytime soon so I’m in no rush. As of now it’s more of an experiment.

It’s been fascinating in a way. Both Kamelia and Laveria started out fully loomed with a small amount of gold – thank you, Bind on Account heirlooms and Bindon Account Timeless Isle Armor Tokens (vendor value 5 gold each; I had a godd 100 tokens just laying around – I’m a hoarder). Even so, it’s almost been as if I’m new (oh no, now I think of Dumass!).

I have a solid memory of the old world quests, wich is why I’ve mainly leveled through dungeons. Once I hit Outland – on Laveria the Rogue, level 45 as of this writing – I’m going to spend more time questing than spelunking. The same goes for Northrend. Cataclysm will be the same old, of course. Most quest lines are as far as I remember not faction specific (such as the Earthen Ring in Deepholm etc). Pandaria will be all new. I wonder how I can avoid orcs on my priest, though … perhaps she’ll end up being the horde’s equivalent of captain Yossarian.

Anyway (as the goblin said)!

Welcome to the world, Kamelia and Laveria. We Will Have Justice!

The lament of farmhand Geist: The intricacies of a dead body

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Master is home again. But I’m afraid … all my parts are afraid. Master is not smiling when she sees the plants we planted and tended, she doesn’t play with Dog. As us, Dog is also nervous. Why is Master not happy to be home? Is this not her home – it’s where she used to smile, to play with Dog. To play with us (and sometimes with herself, but I’m – we are, I am – not allowed to speak of that; Master said “some things are too private to scribble down in death runes, Geist, don’t ever tell people about my screams”).

I don’t understand. Of course, I’m a simple geist. Maybe I’m not supposed to understand. I know Master was happy but now she’s not. She cursed me when I prodded her shoulder; “damned you, monster! Damned!”. I was just trying to give her a cauliflower that I had tended. My palms, they ones belonged to a human named Terry, liked how a fresh cauliflwoer, ripe and free or worms, felt. Had it not been for Terry the Palms I wouldn’t have made it. But the flower grew, carefully tended. Wit hthe waters of the Valley and Terrys gentle touch – ooh, how they itched when my muscles were to harsh! – it grew, and prospered. My muscles are … many people. But they have grown to like each other. Tinkerbell, the gnome muscle, and Pearce and Sabina and Mary and Moravian and Illathiel – many muscles.

Fun fact (for a Scourge): Children tend to be better muscles than adults. Child muscles adapt quickly whereas adult muscles fight the dark necrotic magic rendering them twitchy and useless. Tinkerbell, Pearce and all the other muscles in my – our! – body is therefore childlike. They are smaller, yes, but muscles can be stretched. After a while they grow accustomed to the constant pain of strain. Yes, yes, I know – I’m a monster. I Am A Monster. But monsters have feelings too, you know.

We’re afraid now. Thoughtful, afraid, nervous. Twitchy. Kagrosh the Knees – tendons and bones, Kag was a very strong orc – are more shaky than usual. Kag don’t often shake but now, every time Master looks at us, Kag shakes. It’s like Ebony the Elbow (Ebony was a human once, a very distressed human, deep in drink, I will tell you why in a moment). She’s always had the shakes. But not like this. I can hardly stand up straight. Kag is afraid. We are afraid.

I am scared.

Now, Ebony, you see … She was not a happy girl. When Lordaeron fell she welcomed death. Her soul welcomed it. Her body – well. Bodies are entitled to a fight. Even though her mind had given up – rotted by poverty and abuse, she only slept when she was drunk – her body fought. Ebs have told me, in the way my parts speak to me, how she fought. Tooth and nail! It took more than a dozen skeletal champions to put the drunken bitch down (her words, not mine, she always called herself a bitch; Ebs wasn’t a very happy girl, you know). In the end her body was cut up. I think I met her legs in Icecrown but I’m not sure. Abominations don’t retain a mnemonic sensibility in their parts, not like geists. We are smarter than most Scourge, you know. We are a sum total of residual memories of many.

Most of my parts are afraid now. Master don’t smile. She growls when we come too close. She doesn’t care for what we’ve done; the cauliflowers, the motes of harmony, our stories of how we threw an ancient mogu shin bone all across the field and Dog just sped away catching it in mid air. Even old Hillpaw laughed and told us we were “allright for dead people”. The pandaren have grown used to us. Why – I can even go to the market alone without anyone running away, screaming.

While Master was away I took care of a cub, you know. Lia, her mother and father had been killed in a Horde raid on a settlement not far from Halfhill. Kor’kron Horde, not the “real” Horde (Loom Twinhoof, a tauren, has a farm not far from us, he explained why the Horde killed pandaren; I know Masters sister put an end to the Bad Orc In Charge).

Lia didn’t mind my smell. After a while. Once I managed to hide it with some pretty heavy stuff – mogu perfume, amazing stuff! – she said “You smell like an old lady”. I fed her (I had to learn how too cook; cubs don’t eat maggots) and I taught her useul things. Like …. oh … like how to rip the throat out of an enemy with your teeth. Or how to jump really high (Lia couldn’t jump very high but she’s a fully living one but she did try). Or how to tell if a stranger is a friend by looking at the darkness of their eyes. Useful stuff, you know.

Then a Halfhill family took her in. I think it was for the best. A cub should have living foster parents, not an assortment of body parts who in sum total is – me. Geist. But the Featherbottom family like me, and Lia like me. She even like Master and Master like Lia. So all is good. Except …

Master don’t smile no more. She just sits there on the porch staring at her blackened swords. I tried to clean them for her but she caught me by the neck and hissed “never ever wipe the blood off the blade!”. Then she told me to fuck off.

Later that night I heard her crying.

Why is Master so sad, now? I don’t know – and when I don’t know it makes me scared. A geist need to know. That’s why we were created. We jumped up far, far … Very high. We perched and listened, and watched through our only eye (wich indeed is two eyes but it’s a lot of mechanics and things a geist don’t understand in the helmet). We are spies.

The other night I jumped to the roof above my Masters room. There’s a crack in the roof – no one knows it’s there. I spied on Master. If she ever finds out she’ll go crazy, probably kill me, but I had to know. We had to know – why is Master sad? I watched and listened. I saw and thought. Then I snuck away, as silent as a shadow. Geists are like that, you know. It’s the sum total of us all; many parts, all working together to be as silent as possible if needed. Now I know. I think I know. I’m not sure. But I think I know.

Master is dead.

She just didn’t know it until now.

I will tend a carrot extra carefully. Because I think … well … if a dead one, like me, made up of many dead people all crying and screaming in my mind, if I can do it. Grow a carrot.

Maybe Master can feel alive as well.

Speedy’s Corner, part 5

(You will find part 4 here.)

Ten seconds of terror. Naz was so focused on getting to the free cab on the other side of the road he became oblivious of everything. It wasn’t the first time his brain froze, focused on a single thing in a busy world. Experts – he had read about it somewhere on the arcnet – diagnosed such a condition as Azertism, a potentially severe handicap. Naz sometimes wondered if he was aflicted with it. Tunnel vision – or, as some called it, Boss Eyes – was his ”thing”. Most people took it as stubborness. Stubborn as an orc was a videly popular saying. He became aware of everything around him way too late.

Tenth second: Naz heard a scream, highpitched, paniced. ”LOOK OUT!!!”. The last syllable rose to a feverpitch broken sound. Then, in the ninth second, he heard the roaring engines. In the eight second the blaring horn started, a foghorn signal growing ever closer, ever louder. It kept on screaming all through the rest of the ordeal.

Seventh second: A filament of purple light snared him across his waist. In the sixth second he looked down at whatever is was. The chain, or tentacle, or rope – the thing around his waist! – tugged tight, sliding up over his t-shirt and settling in a vicegrip around his chest. In teh fifth second he saw the purple fleshiness tightened over a filament of what appeared to be iron. A thin chain coated with a fleshy substance, pulsing with dull purple and violet light. The links of the chain inside writhed around each other.

Fourth second: He was yanked backwwards, hard. He felt his ribs grind against muscles, his breath pushed out of him as he was sent flying head over heels, backwards. The rest became a blur; the three seconds to salvation was almost silent. The whoosh of air around his head. The pain in his chest. His heartbeats drumming in his ears. The far away sounds of traffic coming to a screeching halt, the blairing horn going silent. He was twisted around in midair and then collided with the ground.

He slammed into the pavement with his arms raised before him. The jolt sent painful vibration through his very bones. He scraped his elbows on the conrete, crashed over on his side and smacked his knees hard against the pavement. At irst he couldn’t even breathe, feeling the panic of suffocation creep up on him through his aching lungs. Then whatever it was that had trapped him disappeared, in an instant.

He pulled a deep, ragged breath, gasping for air. The sweetness of air rushing into his lungs made him dizzy. Fear and panic had dried out his mouth – he coughed, hard, almost choking. With his arms and legs trembling from shock, he rolled over on his back, feeling half dead. For a few moments he felt bliss: The air was clear, the turquoise sky bathed with sunlight. The pavement was hot underneath, but he still felt comfortable. He was alive – that was all he could think of. Alive!

Then the haggard face of a female death knight blotted out the sun, throwing her shadow over his eyes. He became vaguely aware of quite a commotion around him.

”Light! Did you see that!?”
”Missed by a hair he was!”
”Help! Someone! Call the police!”
”What’s happened?”
”An accident. The orc nearly got run over!”
”It’s a death knight! You monster!”
”She saved ‘im she did, saw it all y’all!”
”Is he dead?”

Naz gasped another mouthful of air. He managed to raise a weak hand and waved. It felt like a futile movement, he wanted to stand up, brush himself off, give some short, funny punhcline. Wasn’t that what people did in movies? Instead his hand fell back and he coughed.

The death knight held out her gloved hand in a ”hel you up?”-gesture. As the throng of people around him grew larger and came closer, mumbling and shouting about everything that had just happened, he managed to grab hold of the death knights hand. She yanked him to his feet, hard. She was very strong, it terrified him. His shoulder ached from the pull, his feet felt wobbly. That’s when she put a steadying arm around his waist and let him lean on her. She was cold, so very cold. Her muscles felt hard as iron underneath the scarred, greyish skin of her arms.

”You allright there, bud?” she said. Her lips parted in a smile; blackened teeth and fangs.
”I’m … ” Naz coughed, nearly doubled over but managed to stay up. He raised his voice even though his throat hurt: ”I’m fine, people! Thank you!”
”Light and crystals damned and holy!” someone yelled. The bus driver, a rather bulky, overweight male draenei dressed in a bulging white shirt and black trousers, pushed his way through the crowd. He was wringing his black baseball cap between his hands; nervous sweat trickling down his temples. ”You allright there son? You just ran straight out! Never had a chance to stop! Woulda run you over, buddy if not for … ” He trailed off, giving the death knight a scared, nervous look. Then he added in a small voice, taking a step back: ”That … thing.”
”She saved’ im she did, saw it!” a dwarf said, carrying a briefcase, dressed in a red velvet threepiece suit. He nodded. ”Damnest thing I ever saw! Yanked ‘im ri’te back she did!”
”She gonna kill him!?” someone called from the back of the crowd. ”Sweetness!”

The death knight let go of Naz – he stumbled but remained standing, feeling dizzy – and spun around. Then, as if an afterthought, she slowly raised her hands in the air and said:
”I’m a firm believer in the Light! A good deed a day keep the darkness a’bay!”
”Never seen a deathie before though,” someone in the crowd said. ”Not in these parts.”
”Thought they were extinct I did!” someone else said.
”Yeah,” the death knight said and lowered her arms. ”I get that a lot.”

The commotion eventually died down. The bus driver returned to his bus, urging people who had filtered off to get back onboard. In a few minutes time the traffic returned to normal; cars and trucks whizzing past. People on the sidewalk trickled away. The only one remaining besides Naz and the death knight was a little blood elf girl, dressed in a flowery dress. She carried a backpack, shaped as a bear cub, on her back. The little girl carefully eyed the death knight, sucked once on a lollipop and then said:
”Are you a monster?”
”No … ”The death knight smiled. She hunched down and seemed to be mindul not to smile with teeth showing. ”I’m a dark angel, that’s what I am, child.”
”Ok,” the girl nodded, then thought about something. She smiled and held out her lolly. ”You like candy? I just licked it but I think you’ll be okay.”
”I do actually,” the death knight said, grinning. The little girl took a half-scared step backwards when seeing the row of blackened teeth. ”Did I scare you?”
”Nah,” the girl said. ”I need to go now.”

Ske skipped off down the sidewalk, chanting ”orc and monster sitting inna tree! Kay Ai Ess Ess Ai Enn Gee!”.

Naz stiffled a chuckle. Then he took a careful step back as the death knight straigthened up and moved the lollipop from one side of the mouth to the other, giving him a look that at first seemed to be angry, then faded into a worried expression that spread across her face. He was too stunned to even ask what she wanted, or why she had been there, or how she knew his name. His hands ached, his elbows hurt, as did his knees. His chest heaved as if his lungs wasn’t sure they actually had oxygen again. Cold sweat trickled down his spine, his armpits felt ablaze.
”Naz …” she said. ”Nazgrim. Nazgrim Nightwind … ”

He made a strangled noice. Then he cleared his throat. Even if it took quite the effort he managed to wheeze a question:
”Who … ARE! You!?”
”My name is Zavannah,” she said and raised a hand in the air, whipping it fast and ending the motion with a quick snap of her fingers.

There was a faint swishing sound. Air sucked into an invisible space right beside her. The air shimmered for a second, then it appeared to bulge back as if a droplet had hit the surface of a pond. It happened very fast. In the next instant a skeletal horse stepped out of nowhere, shaking its head back and forth with a echoing neigh. She mounted in a single, fluid motion and turned the horse around, facing Naz. Then she leaned forward, her head cocked as if listening. There was a faint rumble somehwere. Growing louder. Engines. Getting closer.

The death knight, Zavannah, leaned forward, one hand outstretched. She fixed her eyes on Naz and said, in a no bullshit-tone:
”Come with me if you want to live.”