A Lone Wolf at Gothcon XXXVIII

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I haven’t paid Azeroth a visit for a few days - a much needed break. A vacation from the routine of rep farming. A chance to do something completely different. In my case, the different was a games convention, held anually in Gothenburg, Sweden.

I’m still a bit in both shock and awe, to tell the truth. I’m not a very social person. But as chance have it and fate decree off I went. By train. And taxi. Since I’m also a very comfortable guy I even had an hotel room (the conventions own dorms didn’t appeal to neither me nor anyone else in my posse).

It was actually a “working trip”. The very reason I even went there in the first place was the chance to finally meet the person behind the words wich I’ve spent a good deal of time translating from english to swedish: Joe Dever, the author of the immensely popular game books about the solitaire hero, the kai monk Lone Wolf in the fantasy world of Magnamund. These days it’s also a digital game, you should totally check it out – http://lonewolfthegame.com/.

For the first time since the late 1980′s Lone Wolf is coming back to Sweden in a brand new edition (illustrated by, among others, the fantastic swedish illustrator Lukas Thelin).

I’ve been working with translating an abundance of material for quite some time now and meeting the creator was fantastic fun.

Parallell to my work on the Lone Wolf series – including a roleplaying game – I’ve been keeping up with some older projects; writing virtually all the texts to expansions for the leading swedish roleplaying game, Western (Western: New Orleans, and Western: New York). On top of that I’m still fiddling around with a novel, occasional short stories and trying to keep up an appearance on at least Twitter. Social media is not my forte. I’m probably lacking in a number of social areas (I do have Facebook but I honestly can’t remember when I last checked it).

Mr Devers swedish translator, yours truly, is a lone wolf (that’s a pun!).

The swedish version of the first installments in the Lone Wolf saga is scheduled for release this summer.

As for Gothcon, it turned out to be a suprisingly inspiring convention. I spent most of the time at the Western sales booth of course but managed to snag some peeks on other stuff as well.

Most of the time was spent talking to people (I guess that’s the true reason for conventions; using your voice, not your fingertips) but in the lull between “stuff” I ended up with a rough draft of, erhm … a “thing”. 60 thousand characters in 48 hours – I think that’s pretty good. Especially when you consider the surroundings; balancing a laptop on a table filled with magazines and books and coffee cups, people milling around everywhere.

All in all it was a much needed break from the daily routines.


The Lich Kings pet draenei

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Oops.

Yep, that’s “me” by his feet. The reason I’m there is because of an idea. Likely the most crazy idea I’ve ever had in my history of World of Warcraft.

I’m rep farming, inching my way to 60 exalted reputations and the title “the Beloved” (I allready have “the Exalted” on my mage, btw). Because, well, what better title than “the Beloved” for my oldest Alliance love interest, my oldest character, dating back all the way to 2007?

Shuannas reputation adventures began in earnest about three weeks ago. I had a flying start with more than 40 reputations at revered. I couldn’t even remember where and when I got so many.

It’s interesting going through the list of reputations. It’s sort of a historical document of her career. With a quick glance I suddenly remember how the early days of Shuanna actually were. There was a lot of questing involved – and, once I hit level 80, a whole lot of nothing.

Wrath of the Lich King offered one end game experience and one alone – raiding. Since I still don’t like the concept (I’ve never been much of a “team player”) you can imagine what happened. It was the lack of things to do other than rolling an alt that eventually led to Shuanna being benched for … gosh, it must be four or five years now. I haven’t played Shuanna, the troubled paladin, since about the Ulduar patch. Back in the days I was so far from any raids it never ever occured to me that I might, one day, also become a Kingslayer. I’m still working on it, by the way. But as you can see I have come a long way since the early days. Yes, I’m late to the party but I don’t care. I’m in no hurry. Besides, there is always a Lich King.

What better way to prove it to myself (and the guildies) that “Shu” is back than snagging a much coveted title, the Kingslayer? It even goes well with the evolving backstory of hers. Shuannas adventures – and misadventures – in Northrend is the very reason she’s a bit crazy. When all is said and done the Kingslayer is left with only nightmares and the terrors within.

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Wohoo! I saved the world!

Following a few weeks of running really old content I eventually ended up in a pretty good reputation place. Almost all Burning Crusade reputations save the raid rep’s, like Ashtongue, are done. I still have the really long grinds left – Consortium, Netherwing, Kurenai etc. Apparently I didtched Outland as soon as the Lich King appeared. Most of those old reps were at friendly or honored. With all Northrend reps save Ashen Verdict, Kaluak and the Oracles done I’ve started on the Cataclysm ones. Those are a bit tricky.

Shuanna was a banker throughout Cataclysm and only leveled to 85 through fast questing, skipping enormous chunks of content. As such I didn’t have any reputation above Friendly. The same goes for Mists of Pandaria reps, by the way. So right now I’m grind up reps through Pandaria dailies and running Cataclysm heroics on my lonesome. While farming reputation for various Cataclysm factions the other day I found myself in a tight spot. I had run out of dungeons for the night. All Cataclysm dungeons except Throne of the Tides was on cooldown. Bugrit!

I made a list of the reputation list. A spreadsheet of reputations still needed. It’s a lot easier to see what I need than scrolling through the somewhat cumbersome list in my characters window. That’s when I realised I had completely missed out on a Northrend faction – the Ashen Verdict. A quick research trip to Wowhead later – I knew it was raid rep but couldn’t remember wich raid – I took a deep breath and …

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Entering the Dread Citadel.

Marrowgar went down in a cloud of frozen bonedust. Lady Deathwhisper barely had time to whisper. Kor’Kron troops and undead ghouls was cut down without remorse. I was starting to get into a nice flow there – when the Gunship Battle happened. “To think you have come so far only to perish here!”, to quote the Scarlet Monastery boss … I was actually annoyed enough to stick through it. Seven times. It was with a tremendous sigh of relief I finally pulled it off after som digging through Wowhead comments and Youtube videos (the music of choice for those videos … urgh).

Deathbringer Saurfang hit the dust. So did Festergut and Rotface. The vampires of Northrend was due for a stake and proved to be a lot less scary than they looked. I did run into some trouble on Valithria, but with some inventive healing and silent curses I got through the roadblock with only two wipes. I really hope they nerf that boss. I’m lucky with heals and all but for DK’s, or warriors … I honestly feel sorry for the “no heal but self-heal”-classes.

I avenged the fallen in Pit of Saron with a quick strike to the neck of Rimefang and did the same to Sindragosa. then I spent an hour getting lost. As it turned out I had forgotten to open a few valves and completely bypassed Professor Putricide. Once I made my way back to the mad scientist Professor Putricides good news turne sour. I trod back through the empty castle, feeling a bit like Titus in Gormenghast. Eventually I found a portal and …

Unfortunately it was almost 4 a.m in the morning. Ahem. I accidentally positioned myself way wrong and had quite an interesting, albeit deadly, trip through the skybox around Icecrown. But, alas, if I had come so far I wouldn’t stop because of a silly mistake. So – first thing I did before work was to finish off Arthas.

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Much ice. So cold. Wow.

Or so I thought. Everything was just fine and dandy. Green lights across the board. In nice new transmog* armor straight from the forge of Icecrown Citadel itself I ventured out of Dalaran, into the citadel. A few quick portals later I ended up side by side with Fordring again – and commenced the dance. This time I was prepared of the nasty knockback and positioned myself in a perfect spot.

The fight started. Arthas the Lich King must have been quite annoyed at the perky paladin, back from the future. Adds came and went, ground was defiled but the king was hard pressed. Wich is when I started to notice how the green connection bar started to turn yellow. Then red. Then, just as I was knocked back sent sailing up the stairs to the Frozen Throne, lag reached almost 4000 MS followed by a very unfortunate disconnect. When I logged in again I found myself in a most troublesome position.

The Lich King had a pet draenei**.

Edit: But not for long … After some troublesome wipes – trial runs, lets call it that – I finally got what I ventured out to get. Now Shuanna of the Exodar is truly a Kingslayer.

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- – - – -
* I snagged both Blade Scored Carapace and Deathforged Legplates from Deathbringer’s Cache. For once I actually found some Wrath of the Lich King-armor I actually liked. It will be the base for my second version of the Dark Paladin, eventually. Stay tuned for future transmog post.

**If you, during your adventures in Northrend, come across a ghoul with horns, that’s probably Shuanna. I doubt she’s good enough to become a death knight.


The Long Talk, part 3

It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall,
The dark threw its patches down upon me also,
– Walt Whitman, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

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“A darkness pressing down on her, as the dark of Icecrown itself”

The night outside grew quiet as the rain abated. The thrum-thrum-thrum of droplets on clay and stone stopped in a strange staccato of mismatched rythm. A far away final boom of thunder rolled sluggishly across the plains. It brought with it the sound of an avalanche, hig up in the mountains. A muted, vibrant crashing sound. Hundreds of tons of snow and ice careening down the sides of some nameless mountain. Eventually the trees that broke would wash up on the shores of the wetlands marsh. Life would sprout from the dead.

Inside the cabin something completely different happened. Maraad had just finished his closing sentence – “Oh it’s nothing, really. I got gouged by a thorny wine summoned by a dark shaman, who later was eaten alive by virmen“. Then Shuanna made a mess. She couldn’t help herself. Hearing his matter-of-fact eplanation how a thorny wine had almost skewered him shocked her with disbelief. A pity her mouth was full of tea and bread.

Breadcrumbs and droplets of tea sprayed the table. Maraad stared in suprise at her for a moment – then he burst out laughing. He stood up, careful to not collide with the lavish chandelier, and got a piece of cloth from a small kitchen counter. He sat down and as he wiped the table clean he said, smiling:

“So, what have you been up to since our last talk? I gather the Aldor didn’t convince you to hang your mace on the wall for good?”
“Well … Kind of.”
“Explain, please?”

Shuanna sighed. She took her time answering, ate her food, lit a claypipe, puffed it. With smoke trailing out her nose and mouth she finally said:
“The Aldor they … They knew I wasn’t a priest. Not in my heart. There’s too much dread inside me. I can’t ever quite reach the light, you know. Too much … Well.”
“Dread?”
“Dread. Yeah.” She sighed. “Oh boy.” She blinked. “Sorry, I … uh … ” She sobbed, just once. Silent tears started to roll down her face.

Maraad grabbed her hand in his. He squeezed, not hard, but comforting. With a worried look on his face he leaned closer, almost staring at her. Then he frowned, ever so little.
“You’re having that dream again, don’t you?”

Shuanna nodded. She leaned back, a little uncomfortable with his bright, penetrating eyes upon her. She tried to laugh bu instead she made a slightly choked sound. Then she leaned forward, grabbed him around his neck with one hand and moaned:

“I’m so scared, Maraad! Oh light, please help me! I’m trying to keep it under control but the hate, it’s … I’m breaking. I thought I could survive but I’m dying inside!”
“The dream never happened, Shuanna,” he hugged her. “You know this.”
“It WILL happen! I know it! Ooh I was so fucking stupid …”
“What did you do?” He chuckled. “Stupidity is nothing we should fear. Trust me. I’ve done my fair share of stupid things. Like, well, jumping off the Skybreaker and forgetting a parachute.”
“Bubble up?” she laughed, wich felt weird given the circumstances. She couldn’t help it. She leaned back, sighing, calming down.”
“Bubble up,” he said. “The damned thing almost lasted till I hit the ground too!”

Tears turned to laughter, again. For a while she listened to his more comic stories of past mistakes, feeling a sense of calm spreading inside her. A tiny speck of joy slowly spread from somehwere inside her heart … at least it felt that way. That’s when she stared at him with a short, suprised gasp.

“Almonen, he … He says ‘It manifests itself as a feeling, small at first and easily ignored, that confirms truths and subtly prods one to do good.’. Isn’t that so?”
“Well, I believe it is.” Maraad smiled, a faint, friendly smile. “You’re not lost, friend. You have grievances with the light, but so do we all. But you are not lost.”
“Then what am I?”
“You … you’re angry. You’re afraid. You dream of things that never were, not in your life at least. It is understandable why you dream. Few people came out of that dread pit alive …”

Shuanna shuddered. She hugged herself, as if reliving the piercing cold not even hard labor could disperse. She said, looking down on the table, for an instant lost in old, terrible memories:
“I spent two days in there. At the end of the day they rounded us up, all of us. Orcs, trolls, humans. I was the only draenei. At least then. They … they knew I was a vindicator, a paladin. I had been … chosen.” She looked up at him. “We resisted. We fought, tooth and nail! They all died, all of them! They saved me for the last and then …”
“I remember the gnome pilot having troubles with the updraft,” Maraad said. “That’s why I had to jump out early. That’s why the ghouls on lookout didn’t see me.”
“What was his name? The other paladin? The one with you? He held me in his arms while you led us out of there. The Pit of Saron.”
“Eadric,” Maraad said. He chuckled. “A lot of people didn’t think he amount to much, what with his shining armor and all. But I have yet to find a more solemn, purehearted soul anywhere on this world. If he wasn’t human one could suspect him for being, well – draenei.”
“They were going to kill me, you know that, no?”
“They were going to … raise you.”
“Oh, this family has enough death knights!”
“There’s only one reason they would have spared your life. You know why.”

She nodded. Some things were best left unspoken. She didn’t want to be reminded of the horrors of the pit but once the gates had opened it was hard to shut them. The first thing she remembered was the cold. The memory of it was so intense that she started to shiver even though the room was warm and cosy. The rest of the memories was the stuff of nightmares. A darkness pressing down on her, as the dark of Icecrown itself.

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“Then they shaved our heads, all of us.”

“I was stripped naked,” she said in a low voice. “All the prisoners were stripped naked. Man, woman – all of us. They sorted out textiles in one pile, metal in another. Then they shaved our heads, all of us, crewcut they called it. Barely enough hair left to keep our head warm. We were issued left-over tunics, Alliance ones. Bloodstained, dirty. We got a pickaxe and …. Just so we wouldn’t get any ideas, they showed us what would happen. Should we try to use the pick as a weapon. There was a night elf, he … “
“You don’t have to speak of it, friend. If it pains you.” Maraad sighed. “I thought I had seen horrors before but Northrend, well.”
“I think I need to speak of it,” Shuanna said. Then she hugged herself, hard. She tried to keep her teeth from clicking but the memory of that cold, cold place … She forced herself to speak: “But maybe I should speak of it in sunlight, no? Speak of darkness in the dark and you will break.”
“I never believed in that saying.” Maraad hid an involuntary yawn behind his hand. “I’m sorry, you don’t bore me, far from it. I just had quite a journey here.” He chuckled. “I am sometimes he biggest fool alive, as you know. Always eager to try new, unusual things. Well now, if you ever encounter a gnome in Ironforge, Millicent Millhouse? Don’t agree to try her ‘new, improved faster travel arrangement’.”

Shuanna smiled. Yet again the simple joy of listening to something stupid – in the sense of stupidly funny – lit up inside her. Almonen was right, she knew that now. Time and time again Maraad lured her away from the terror inside her with just a few, simple words.
“Tell me then, vindicator of stupidity,” she said.

“Sledding!” Maraad said and laughed. “I was just about to mount a gryphon when this gnome approached me. I agree, I’m a sucker for unsual deals. Ask anyone in Shattrath. I have probably made Griftah rich by now. Because, you know … All the wonders of the world, how can we be sure a rabbits foot isn’t just as magical as the sword of A’Dal? Anyone of their right senses should play it safe – especially with unknown magics. Now, engineering on the other hand … ” He chuckled.

“Yes, she had a sledge, a rocket propelled sledge. I sat down on it just outside the city gates and she lit the fuse. Now I know it takes exactly twentysix seconds to reach Menethil Harbor from the top of Bronzebeards Cliff. Most of the travel is airborne. You will land in the sea. I dare say miss Millhouse need to improve her aim.”

It was impossible not to laugh. She did laugh, loud and clear. She laughed so hard she had to lean forward, holding her arms against her chest. She cramped up, gasping for air, tears streaming down her face – but she kept laughing. Meanwhile Maraad just sat there, a faint smile on his face, a mischievous look in his eyes. She stood up, bent over like a mad beggar. She almost slid to the floor when Maraad stood up, walked a few steps around the table and reached out with a gentle embrace. He held her close for a long time. Her laughter turned to crying and then went full circle, ending with a long, drawn-out scream. A wail. Then, as fatigue crept into her muscles, she almost slumped in his arms. Her tears had dried on his scarred shoulders.

“I need sleep,” she said in a whisper and yawned.
“There’s just one bed,” he said.
“The floor is clean, dude.”
“Ah,” he chuckled. “I wasn’t implying … I mean, I … “
“Silly.”
“Agreed.”
“Right, you might get a good night kiss, but nothing more.”
“I wouldn’t mind, honestly.”

She gave him a quick peck on the cheek and went to bed. She fell asleep almost instantly, exhausted. She didn’t see Maraad sit down on the floor, lean against the wall, and watch over her with half closed eyes for the rest of the night.

Morning broke with chirping birds and a halibut left on the doorstep.


The long talk, part 2

Fancying how happy you were if I could be with you and become your comrade;
Be it as if I were with you. (Be not too certain but I am now with you.)
– Walt Whitman, Full of Life Now

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She looks up at the faces of doom and … 

The air smelled of thunder. The stormclouds rolled in from the sea, spraying the land with a hammering rain not even the murlocs enjoyed. Dense clouds slithered down the mountainsides from Dun Morogh. Crackling lightning turned the snowy cliffs a pale blue and white. Thunder echoed between the mountains, rolling down with a dull boom towards the Wetland plains.

Shuanna tossed in her bed. The stone cabin was warm, the fire crackled in the fireplace and the faint smell of wax candles still hung in the air. She dreamed, a dream she had dreamt so many times. Always the same. Always.

Cold.
(“That one! Kill the rest, spare the bitch!”)
Dark.
(“Mmmaaahaaa haaaa!”)
Death.
(“Incoming! Damned ghouls I will flay you alive! I TOLD you to look out for him! I to–”)
Light.
(“Is she alive? Maraad?”)
Salvation.

Shuanna woke up with a faint gasp. For quite some time she stared at the ceiling, watching the shadows dance in the dying firelight. It wasn’t the thunder that scared her. It was the dream, short as it were – fragments, really. Just a few minutes of crystal clear images in her head, mixed with recollections of war and sometimes unknown phantasms of the mind. By now she was quite used to the dream. It didn’t exactly scare her, not anymore. It worried her. That’s why she always woke up whenever it appeared.

She had never even been to that part of the dread citadel. Others had fought the horrors inside, not her. Not until the bridgehead had been established and the lower levels of Icecrown was in the crusades hands had she been ordered to go inside. It was some sort of preparation; how to motivate the troops that would take part in the final assault. She had followed in the footsteps of half a dozen grim crusaders, all cross the rickety iron bridges. Then, as they stopped in the archway to the inner chamber, her legs froze. She couldn’t move. The … thing!

She’s almost naked. The cold is making her skin crawl. She’s not afraid, not scared. She’s resigned, knowing what will happen. It’s that last moment when you know all hope is gone, that only death awaits. There’s no reason to be scared. There’s no strength left inside you to fuel the fright. She looks up at the faces of doom and … That’s where she always woke up. Those dead eyes staring into her soul. Ready to rip it apart.

She sighed, closed her eyes, tried to go back to sleep. It didn’t work. Instead she swung her legs over the side of the bed, annoyed. She sighed, yawned, stretched and stood up. With the blanket over her shoulders she stoked the fire and swung the sooty kettle into place.
“Tea, girl,” she said. “Gonna perk you up. Tea and a smoke.” She chuckled. “Or two.”

That’s when a sudden sound made her scream. A sharp knock. A voice, calling out:
“‘ullo? Yer in dere, lass!?”

She didn’t scream long. It as more of a frightened yelp. Instinct took over in a split second. Her hand grabbed the iron poker as she pushed the blanket off her shoulders and held the poker as a mace in front of her. As she carefully moved towards the thick oak door she called out:
“Who’s there!?”
“’tis me, ye stoopid! Murgun!” A short pause, then: “Yer neighbur, daftie!”
“What’cha doing out there in a storm like this!?” She lowered the poker, placed it against the wall and opened the door just as Murgun called out:
“Gott’a mate fer ye! Foun’ ‘im wand’rin’ lookin’ like a wet cat!”

Shuanna was about to say something witty in response but her words froze. With mouth half open, eyes wide with suprise and fear, she saw the tall looming dark shadow behind the dwarf. A thick coat made from well-oiled skin covered most of the apparition. Water was gushing down the wide shoulders as he – it was clearly a man – moved closer. He let his sturdy quarterstaff rest against his shoulder as he bowed. Water spilled out from his wide brimmed leather hat.

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We go a long way back, her and me.

“The weather could certainly need bit of an improvement,” he said, and looked up. The firelight from inside the cabin lit up half his face. “Wouldn’t you agree, vindicator?”
“M… ” Shuanna swallowed. “Ma … ” She took a deep breath, steadying herself. “What the flying fuck are you doing here!?” She clapped her hand to her mouth, looking horrified. Then she said through her fingers, in a small, almost childish voice: “Sorry!”
“Ye know each one?” Murgun said, looking from Shuanna to Maraad.
“Indeed.” Maraad nodded, a faint smile on his lips. “We go a long way back, her and me. It’s good to know she still curse like a sailor.”
“I said I was sorry!” Shuanna lowered her hands. Then she twitched, realising she wore nothing but her underwear. “Oh shit, I … Come in, both of you before you freeze to death!”
“We gunna drown first I reckon,” Murgun said and chuckled. “But no me, lass. Me gunna git home, missus worried sick she is.” He looked up at Maraad as the tall draenei almost bent double to fit into the doorway as he entered the cabin. It was a lot roomier inside, if he moved carefully he wouldn’t have to collide with the chande– “Watcher dere!”
“Ouw!”

Shuanna burst out laughing.
“Yer be aight in dere I reckon, night.” Murgun chuckled, shaking his head he flipped the well-oiled canvas hood over his head and soon disappeared into the dark. She closed the door and turned to Maraad.
“Your noggin allright there?” she said.
“Fine, fine,” he said, smiling. “Mind if I sit down?” He gave the brass chandelier a worried look. “I’m afraid I’ll bounce into that … whatever it is. Again. It’s a lamp?”
“Uh-huh.” She gave a cursory look of the chandelier. It was almost 3 feet wide, roughly 200 pounds. It could hold up to twelve candles in each ring. There were seven rings in total, each adorned with a skull carved from ivory and plenty of other details. “Murgun brought it here a couple of days ago. He … ‘found’ it, he says, in an abandoned castle up north. Scholomance.”
“The necromancy school?”
“Used to be. No one’s sure where the bastards scurried after Andorhal.” She went over to the fireplace, pulled down two pewter mugs and filled them with hot, steaming tea. “Tea?”
“Please.” Maraad slowly pulled off his heavy raincoat. Not sure where to put it he ended up simply dropping it on the floor beside him. “I don’t suppose you got something stronger? Just to, you know, chase the chill out of these old bones of mine.”

A few minutes later the sat on opposite ends of the stone table, tea, tobacco and a jug of Caraway Burnwine on the table. They didn’t talk much. Instead the were simply watching each other, carefully. Shuanna had dressed herself, just a simple farmers outit — blue overalls made rom sturdy linen. At length, the silence between them started to bother her. She knew of his tricks, how he sometimes (involuntarily as he claimed) “probed” a mind. She didn’t want him to find her dream. As terrible as it was it was her dream. So she said:

“I got your note. At least I think it was yours. M?”
“Oh, I almost forgot about that one,” he said, smiling. “I sent it … must have been four months ago.”
“Mail’s slow in these parts.”
“Uh-huh.”
“So …”
“Yes?”
“Why did you come?”
“Why do you think I came?”
“I dunno. To get laid?”
“Really now!” He burst out laughing. “I have that covered, thank you very much!”
“Oooh, secret girlfriend?”
“Bah!”
“Come on!”
“Not in a thousand years and ten thousand more, dear friend. Some secrets are worth protecting.”
“Fine then.”
“Good!”
“Idiot.”
“Hey!”
“What?”
“There are three people in this world that may call me that. Me, the prophet and the bartender at a small hole in the wall in Lower City.”
“That blind orc? He who claims he used to be a blademaster before he took an arrow to the knee?”
“That’s the one.”
“Huh. He usually calls me honey.”
“He’s probably sweet on you. I can see why.”
“My my, vindicator … are you flirting with me?”
“I wouldn’t know how.”

Shuanna laughed. Maraad joined in. They laughed together for a long time. Then the laughter ebbed, replaced by a cosy, friendly silence. The finished off their tea and rum. As Shuanna got to her feet to find some bread and cheese, Maraad said:
“I wanted to see how you were doing, friend. Nothing more. I’m not sure how long I can stay, or if I can return another day. Thing’s … are happening. I can’t tell you more than that, I’m sure you understand.”

She put out bread, Dalaran Sharp and Darkmoon Faire spiced sausage on a platter and sat down. As she made herself a sandwich she nodded, careful not to ask even though she was curious.
“Why the mystery?” she said.
“You know why.”
“Legion business?”
“Perhaps. Perhaps not. Suffice to say – my … informants. Speak of a person of interest.”
“I’m sure I don’t want to know.” She sighed. “And even if I did you wouldn’t tell me.” She took a bite out of her sandwich and spoke while chewing. “Beshidesh, shit’sh gonna hit the fan I’m shure n’ people go shtir crashy again, yeah?”
“That’s likely to happen, yes.” He sighed. “Still, I got enough time to give myself a much needed vacation. Last thing I did was a bit … troubling.”
“Like wha’?” She swallowed, hard, and poured herself a new mug of tea and rum.
“Oh it’s nothing, really. I got gouged by a thorny wine summoned by a dark shaman, who later was eaten alive by virmen.”

Shuanna almost choked on her tea.


The long talk, part 1

There were lots of invitations 

and I know you sent me some,

but I was waiting 

for the miracle, 

for the miracle to come.

– Leonard Cohen, the Miracle

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“This was a place where, hours upon hours of watching the bobber float and sink, her mind found solace.”

There was a small house built of stone on the strand of Wetlands, just where the Dun Morogh mountains meet the sea. It wasn’t anything fancy. Just a wooden door and a stone porch. It belonged to a dwarven farmer, nicknamed Gramps by the neighbours. He had fostered many brave dwarves in that house, loved many wives. As chance sometimes has it, a traveler came by.

“Farmer!” she said. “Is this cottage for sale?”
“Ne’er!” Gramps said. “Can rent it, lass, sho’ ye wan’ it.” He spat a string of tobacco juice. “Legs are old, ye see. Methinks ye could be good or it!”

She was.

2000 gold coins changed owner. Rent for an indefinite amount of time under a few simple, reliable conditions. Tend the chickens, stay out of trouble, no wild parties (mind you, this was the dwarven “wild party”; many times the neighbours woke in the middle of the night with a faint chuckle – the blueskin had company).

This was her refuge.

Over time, and adventurers adress list grows quite extensive. Shuanna had the names and adresses for many former encounters, friends and lovers and aquaintances. Sometimes she would send them a letter or a postcard.

“Dearest”, it could start. “I’m lonely. Should you be so inclined please come and visit me at the following location.” Then she would add a short note of important waypoints. Any adventurer worth the grain of salt knows how to find something out of almost nothing.

Most of the times she wouldn’t send a note. Most of the time she was content with being alone. It was always the same familiar routine. Touch down in front of the house, search through the rubble close to the left pillar, find the iron key, speak the spell so the hiding place wouldn’t explode and send her bodyparts into the sea. Then – go inside, light the fire, strap off the armor and just …

WoWScrnShot_032814_191424

Walk down to the beach wearing almost nothing. Lay down by a fire, Menethil in the distance, the cool, salted winds of the sea whispering across her naked skin. She would collect dry firewood and grass on her way down, after a rest she’d take a dip in the bay. Sometimes, not always, she went skinnydipping. Sometimes, not always, she let her hand wander. Gasping in the cool breeze as her fingers trailed off across her body.

She even made friends with a local tribe of murlocs. contrary to popular oppinion, murlocs will befriend you if you show them respect. At first their warriors tried to eat her but over time, as the pile of bleached murloc skulls grew on parts of the beach that was sacred to the murlocs, they started to see her as a godess. Strange, that. All she had to do was speak the word and a shining shield of light would mesmerize the murlocs.

They caught fish for her. She gave them Caraway Burnwine and tobacco in return. She taught herself to say “hello!” and “Goodbye!”. In murloc. They taught themselves to say “Light!” and “Fish!”. Just so they would be able to worship their godess – and give her fish.

This was a place of peace. This was a place where memories and nightmares wouldn’t touch her. This was a place where, hours upon hours of watching the bobber float and sink, her mind found solace. Sometimes, if the water in the lagoon was inviting enough and there was no rain, she would swim across the bay and head for the inn. Dripping wet in nothing but her undies, she’d walk into the inn and have a beer.

Stranger things have happened in Menethil, mind you.

In Menethil, she soon became known as the Crazy Lady. Little did they know. These days, folks in this part of the world speak with part dread, part musing, about the screams that sometimes echo across the lagoon. No one petitions the lord to have her removed, of course. As was said – Stranger things have happened in Menethil, mind you. A half-mad paladin who sometimes keeps the whole town awake as she howls at the unseen ghosts, well.

“Nuthin’s to do wid us now, is dere?” as people say in these parts. “‘sides, she git dem murlocs off ‘er backs.”

Here she could rant and rave against the nightmares without anyone calling the guard. Her she could love and lust without care. Here she could wake up in the middle of the night and then spend until dawn huddled together in a corner, shaking with fright. She could cry here – and eventually a murloc would leave a halibut on her doorstep with an embarassed smile on wet, froggy lips. She could wail here, and eventually a dwarf would come ove from another farm carrying a jug of moonshine and the down to earth-wisdom of “commen folks as we be roun’ ‘ere”.

“Gost’s ain’t hurtin’ ye, lass. ’tis yer own mind dat ‘urts it is. Go on, git! Scream it out. I can lissin, good liss’ner we are, folks in dese parts.” Ol’ Maradin chuckled, gave her a nudge, nodded towards one of the mountain peaks and added: “Me youn’un lass go up dere to scream when da is a han’full ye ‘no. Ye’ sho’ try it. Go on, howl at the moon like dat worgen feller we got sellin’ silk do’on Men’til.”

Maradin made her laugh. The murlocs made her laugh as well. Especially those nights when they managed to tell her about ancient murloc heroes using nothing but gestures and old skulls of long dead adventurers. Not so fortunate adventurers, at that.

This was her paradise.

She cried here. She cried with the dwarves (Ol’ Maradin, when he was in the mood, cried a lot; the first war broke him, you see, that’s why he became a farmer). She laughed with the dwarves (Junder and Hargins ongoing quarrel about the sturgeon was always amusing to her). She even made love to some of the dwarves (Bethaine and a jug of moonshine a late fullmoon night; it wasn’t as much love as it was loneliness on behalf of them both).

There even was a mailman who came around from time to time. His name was Everard, he called himself a “naturilissed dwa’ahf ye kno’”. Actually, he was from Stormwind and human but, as the saying goes around these parts, stranger things has happened …

He bore a letter one day. Just a few scribbled lines on a piece of paper, tucked into a dog-eared envelope bearing many sigils. The letter had passed from Pandaria – Halfhill – to her, via the Exodar, Stormwind, Ironforge, “Ol’ Buradin’s Tradin’ Post, Wutlands” (the stamp was misspelled). Many places. It was a short note, dated almost three months earlier.

“Vindicator,” the note read. “If I may be so bold as to call on you within the forseeable future I will do so. Events keep me busy at the time but with the grace of Light and fortune I hope we can share a meal. I am eager to speak to you. I hope you are mending. If not, pray speak of anything you wish once I am able to visit.

Yours in faith and everlasting friendship – M.”


The Mindslave

“It was simple once I broke her spirit.”

– Gerard

I’m sorry, Horde.

No matter how much you try, no matter how hard you work on your image as underdogs or lone wolves or rebels without a cause. no matter how cute your orc will look come updated models. You have a problem that’s bigger than the surface image.

The mindslave.

Maybe I’m a bit sensitive. Maybe I’m too “politically correct”. Maye I’m a bleeding left-wing liberal fucking feminazi who wants to destroy civilisation as we know it (sometimes I actually do want that, but that’s another topic). I just can’t do it.

You are evil. Your patriarchal warrior code. You “honor” (you don’t know what the word means). Your bloodlust, cruelty, indecency. You atrocity, your never ending constant crimes. Try dress it up in whatever explanations or fancy clothes you like – you are evil. I know, it’s a tough deal hearing this – but you are, more or less, monsters. Raid trash. Things to kill for experience points. You’re no better than the Twilights Hammer. You’re no better than the fascist mogu.

You. Are. EVIL.

There are members of the Horde that stands out. General Nazgrim, or instance. An honorable orc, keeping true to the pathos of what the Horde once was no matter where it leads him. Jadrag the Slicer, The “birdman”, as I like to call him, the eloquent orc who we find beaten and bruised at the hands of owlkin in Winterspring – I like him. I truly do. I also like pa Saurfang, and his son. I like Thrall as well, despite his messiah complex. There’s even a few redeeming features in Garrosh, allthough he went total bully out of his own accord. Maybe it’s the revenge of the Garadar nerd.

I’m sorry, Horde. I won’t be a part of you – deserter or not. I won’t stand by in idle silence as emancipated scourge lay plans to destroy all life. to harvest life. To torture life. Every single fiber of my body rejects the atrocities I’ve seen in Undercity and elsewhere. A faction that willingly concedes to the horrors of the Forsaken and their “experiments” are, to put it bluntly, Evil.

There is no redemption for any of you as long as you consort with the undead. There can be no redemption as long as you foster an atmospehere of death to those who oppose you. You are monochrome, stupid. Vol’Jins rebels don’t rebel against the Horde – they rebel because the rest of the world finally saw what you are:

EVIL.

You stand for something that is indecent, inhuman, intolerable. You cherish cruelty as an honroable act. You condone any cruelty to further your own goals. Yo would happily turn the world into a wasteland as long as you had your precious “resources”. Your ideals are, to be frank, disgusting.

you’re evil.

I won’t have any part of it.

Marikka is “opening an inn” – and the eleventh slot will be occupied, in time, with another draenei.

They don’t keep mindslaves, as you do. They don’t harvest humans as they were turnips, as you do. They don’t torture their way to power, as you do. They don’t lay waste to worlds, as you do. The do not, ever, drink the blood of a pit lord. As you do.

You. Are. Evil.

FOR THE ALLIANCE!
FOR THE EXODAR!
FOR THE LIGHT!


AWOL from the Horde

WoWScrnShot_032614_234438

“You disappoint me, Garrosh … “

There was a note pinned to the door of Shuannas room at one of the Shrines inns. It wasn’t that unusual. Several agencies for various “experts in the field” used to pin notes to peoples doors. There was also a rumour that the Spicemasters – some sort of clandestine pandaren brotherhood in crime – used to pin a warning on peoples doors. Either way – she simply pulled down the piece of paper, opened the door and stepped inside. It wasn’t until after she had removed her armor and slipped into a velvet dress she read the note while pouring herself a big mug of wine.

Her jaw dropped. Almost literally.

“My lovely ‘grouse’,” the note read. “I don’t know if you remember me. I sure as the warchief has two feet remember you, girl. Ya remember the orc in Dalapants? You remember we used to call it that? Anyway – I’m her. The ‘hordie’, as you called me.

I used to call you Grouse. Because you were just … Never mind.

I’m was at the Two Moons. I saw you from the terrace the other day, riding fast. I called but I guess you didn’t hear me. Got maself into trouble there, y’now. On the run now, got a pandaren to get ya dis note. Ma ‘common’ isn’t good, but a note in orc could be bad. So. Ya now.

Not sure I can get away dis time, ya now. Kor’kron bloodhounds on me, cause I called out for ya. We won’t see each other again, sure, but I got somethun to ask: I got a kid sis, Marikka. She’s on da loose too. Shaman, kin of her kind keep her safe from Garrosh grunts. Plenty o dem around still ya now. War never ends, aight?

Don’ know why, but she’s taken a likin for one of ya. Not you, Grouse. Not in a habit of givin ma sis ma old lover, silly. Ya got a sis, think shaman too. Silly sis of mine ne’er met her but just seen her picure … picture. One you gave me, remember? That night in Dala? You n me about to jump, end up drunk as skunks insted in bed?

Anyway, aight. Tell ya sis dere’s an orc comin. Silly girl fell in love with dat picure … picture. Guess silly runs in ma family; daad been a rebel, moms been in hidin, me n sis on da run. She kid sis, not old enuff for Pandaria yet. Getting here tho, sure she is.

Love you, blue. Really do. Miss you too.

Bai.

/M”

That was it. Shuanna read the note several times. Each time the memory of a few nights and a few weeks mad with love grew stronger in her mind. Her eyes teared up. But instead of dashing out, run across the sha infested plain and fight her way into the Two Moons, she simply slumped down on the bed, crying. Sometimes, destiny has a cruel sense of humor.

“But who?” she said, reading the note over again. “Wich one?” She thought about it, wiping tears away with the palm of her hand, steadying herself with another mug of wine. Then it came to her.

She placed the note on the bedside table, very slowly. Then, staring out thorugh a window, listening to the distant wail of maddened sha, she whispered a single name:
“Kitty.”

- – - – -

The Mists of Pandaria doldrums are here! In order to counter the terrible wieght of “nothing to do” (I got plenty to do, really, but most of it involves LFR and that I won’t do for another month or two, not until the stupidity of boosters has evened out to the normal state of incompetence and ignorance) … yeah, allright:

I rolled an orc.

It was supposed to be a few hours diversion. I was a bit tired staring at draenei, you know, nice as they are and all. But the damned orc wouldn’t let go. Instead of a “play an hour and delete” she threatened me with an heirloom mace and grunted:
“Ooh no you won’t!”

So, Marikka is alive and well. Allthough she’s down shit creek with a second helping of trouble and a stormcloud of despair on her heels. You know why?

She’s a deserter.

WoWScrnShot_032714_010045

The great escape

Not bad for someone who’s as we speak level 10. She’s managed to piss off both the Kor’kron and a few scattered wolves. She almost got eaten by a crokolisk too! As if a very ancient orc of mine came back to haunt me, Marikkas adventure almost ended in the Barrens, a stones throw from Ratchet. That’s where my first WoW toon ever, an orc warrior, got mauled by a giraffe – at level 5.

Marikka was lucky. She stumbled into Ratchet with 3 hitpoints left. It would have been bad to send her off to the big Dark Below after such an adventure. So … She got a backstory. The backstory isn’ done yet, it will be, but she’s got it – albeit locked away in my brain for the time being. Suffice to say, she’s a sweetheart – not exactly Horde material but more of a “thrallist”. She’s on the run from the Horde, most of it, because her father didn’t agree with the powers that be.

Thus it happened that slot number eleven on my character rooster wasn’t occupied by another draenei. But an orc.

Hell must have frozen over.


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