Draenei in need of love


Ready_and_waiting

Too hot to touch! For three expansions … 

– – – – –

Sorry, I’m prone to ad-lib madness.

INT DEV OFFICE, BLIZARD HQ
Darkness. voices around a far away Basic Campfire.

“Ideas for what’s next?”
“Draeeni?”
“GET OUT!!!” *deep sigh* “Right. Anyone?”
“Let’s torch the world, reboot the whole shabang and call it Cataclysm!”
“And dragons, Mike! UNDEAD DRAGONS!!!”
“Don’t be silly, Sam.”
“But…”
“MAD AND CRAZY GIANT DRAGONS!!! Undead? Ha! Old idea, mate. Soz.”
“Crazy dragons? Yeah … Yeah! That’s how you develop a game!”
“Thank you.”
“Can we have another one, just a toddler? You know what two year olds are like, right?”
“Next x-pac, guaranteed.”
“And paladins?”
“Greg?”
“Paladins would make it unbalanced.”

CUT TO: MISTS OF PANDARIA.

– – – – –

The topic of the week from WoW Insiders Community Blog Topic focus on what faction I’d like to see more of. I have to hand it to you, there was a tremendous outpouring of support for the Big Blue (draenei, that is). And the Furry Friends of Doom (worgen, that is). There was even a gnome-sized pile of support for the Constant Comic Sidekicks (gnomes, that is). I have to say I wholeheartedly agree. Especially in regards to the draenei.

Draenei are the gun on stage.

I have heard about the Big Retcon. I never saw it myself. I came to Azeroth very late, by the end of the Burning Crusade. It wasn’t until shortly after the first patch of Wrath of the Lich king I found my draenei. Retcongate wasn’t much of a big deal for me; I had been, up to that point, a Horde player (mostly blood elves). I wasn’t much of a lore junkie either back then (these days I’m slightly worse). I hardly even knew a world of Warcraft community existed.

Google is my friend here. The short order of the “scandal” is probably known to you. If not this is the gist of it:

In the Warcraft III manual the Eredar was bad. Like, seriously bad. So bad that Sargeras decided to punch them in the face. So he did (apparently). Then comes the Burning Crusade expansion. Draenei, a completely outlandish (pun intended) race appears and we can sum them up with “Once We Were Eredar” (this is also a pun, based on a fantastic movie).

Right now, what we have is this: The seriously bad gangbangers of space, the Eredar, seems to have come out alive on the other side of a cosmic penitentary program and promptly been hired as the Universes SWAT-team (ok, draenei mostly flee but you know, the Cosmos is a vicious ‘hood).

In short: mr Metzen dropped the ball. Since then the lore development team seems to think of said ball as a white hot stone. They can’t touch it, dented egos are too hot to touch, I guess. So they just poke. Carefully … On rare occasions.

(“Ouch!”
“‘sup, Mike?”
“I burned my fingers, Greg!”
“Well, don’t touch those draenei gurls. Dey hot hot hot!”
“Lawls, Greg! Ok, so – about Thrall – balls around the neck, good or bad? Remember who’s paying your salary.”
“Great idea! Art Department, we got a mission for you!”)

Is it true? the Retcongate? Apparently so. Still, you know … I like to think that Blizzard, while owning up to their mistake, have plans for using said mistake in a positive manner. The story itself lends itself to a lot of freedom for new (and potentially insane) ideas.

(“Dragons! Undea–“
“Shut! Up!”)

We have to remember that the backstory of World of Warcraft is an epic story spanning many years of in-game lore. Every expansion we get we see a new chapter opened. I am an optimist so my feeling is this:

Draenei is the gun on stage.

I believe it was Tolstoy who said something along the lines of “if you plant a rifle on stage in Act I you must use it sometime before Act V”. Right now we are at Act V. World of Warcraft is more of a ultrasupermega-opera, one of those Wagner could only dream of.

We are soon upon Act VI. The draenei gun has been on stage since Act II. Use it, mr Metzen. How you use it is up to you. It’s your lore department, all we in the audience can do is speculate. While speculating is fun it’s unlikely much of it will be true in game. So, you know: Our time is nigh! The draenei gun on stage is loaded. It’s ready.

It’s got a great ass and fantastic abs.

– – – – –

Other bloggers on the topic: Corhi, Casually, Sportsbard, Halbert’s Cubicle, The Pixel Lives of Lorelei, Deletrix World of Warcraft Blog, Admiring Azeroth

I want to be alone, part 6

Part 6 of the ongoing story is now up.  Strange things are afoot in Hellfire Peninsula and Zavannah the Death Knight have a score to settle with a goblin i Booty Bay.  There’s also a short mention of a dead parrot and one of Acherus most hideous secrets … the Stand-up Ghoul.

You will find Part 6 here. Don’t know what this is all about? Read about it here!

Hope you enjoy it!

I want to be alone, part 5

Part 5 of the ongoing story is now up. Things starts to roll into motion. Strange things are afoot – fake silver ingots, a mysterious trace, a (perhaps) crooked Alliance officer … The shadows are coming. Slow, deliberate. Unrelentless … The team breaks up!

You will find Part 5 here. Don’t know what this is all about? Read about it here, why don’t you?

Hope you enjoy it!

Velen – or guerilla warfare on a cosmic scale

“The prophet must not be disturbed,” the guard said.
“Yeah, well, you said the same thing ten thousand years ago,” Zavannah said.
“I was just a girl then but seriously? All I want to know is – should I stay or should I go?”
“I’m no prophet, sugarplum, you better ask Velen.”
“I’m trying. Is he free?”
“The prophet must not be disturbed.”
“But … “Zavannah sighed. She was about to say something when a human, probably in is late teens, walked across the platform, made a cursory salute to the guard – and went inside Velens chamber. “Hey!”
The guard smiled, ever so faint. He nodded at the door and chuckled.
“That’s Andy,” he said.
“But!”
“Honey, you don’t have heartbeat. Now bugger off.”
“That’s not very draenei of you, just so you know, you know.”
“I was stationed with a dwarf up in Northrend for two years. I guess he rubbed off on me.”
“Get a bloody beard then,” Zavannah said, turned around and walked away. Halfway through her angry stride she stumbled on someones moth and slid down the crystal walkway belly down.

She tried not to listen to the laughter.

– – – – –

424px-Velen

This weeks community blog topic from WoW Insider ask who our favorite faction leader is. Judging from the comments section there’s strong support for Sylvanas. I can understand why; she’s a strong, ruthless character, one of the few women in World of Warcraft who’s actually more than just a pretty (ass) face to look at. Pity she’s dead.

However, it would be treason of me not to choose “our” (that is, my blueskinned sisters) most glorious if very much absent leader, the prophet Velen. 50 000 years old (or there about) and still kicking. not much salt in that diet, I’ll bet.

Much can be said about Velen and the struggle of the draenei. Most of it boils down to retreat. In fact, of all the faction leaders out there, Velen is the one who applies the hit and run tactic to the fullest.

It’s guerilla warfare on a cosmic scale!

We flee from “safe house” to “safe house” – worlds, that is. It usually involves a lot of collateral damage but that’s the arithmetic of war. It’s not nice. In fact, it’s not very good. Some would probably claim it’s almost … evil.

Velen is the anchor in a universe that’s really lost its marbles. Old gods everywhere, demons all around, elemental planes in a total flux … it’s hard to be on top of it. Unless you’re Velen. While everyone else scamper about like ants his eyes are fixed on the bigger picture. There’s a dire need for people like that in Azeroth. People who not only acts like an acnhor, like a beacon, but also acts as a radar. Sure, Wrathion is down with the spectacular holographic effects of the Burning Legions version of the 101 Airborne, but he’s proven a bit unreliable. Not quite sane (and he’s only two years old).

Not Velen. It’s like, “chill bro, I got this”.

There’s a quote from Blade Runner I come to think of, especially after reading the latest short story about him, the Prophets Lesson“I’ve seen things you men could not possibly understand”. That’s the trouble with a prophet. They are either too smart for the general public, or too weird to take seriously (unless you’re Thrall; everyone except Garrosh loves that … orc). Just think about how the other Alliance faction leaders usually treat Velen: They don’t invite him. They almost ignore him. Truer, he has secluded himself but he is, after all, still a faction leader.

Perhaps it’s uncertainty on the others behalf. It’s probable no one, Tyrande, Varian, all the others, really knows who Velen is. He’s an alien on an alien planet – like all draenei. I imagine there’s a lot of whispered “But can we trust them?” going on during the Strategic Alliance High Command meetings. After all, we draenei used to be Eredar … “demons” for the vast majority of people who can’t tell blue from red.

It’s interesting to see how Velen is passed by in almost all major events. I know, it’s a strict gameplay thing; there haven’t been much story for the draenei ever since the Burning Crusade. But still … In the “meta game” – the lore – Velen also seems to be very reclusive. Save prince Anduin, Velen isn’t someone any of the other faction leaders comes to for advice. That is strange. Who would be better suited than a far-seeing prophet aged 50 000 years? One who once was very, very close to both Archimonde and Kil’Jaeden, two of the most dangerous threats to Azeroths existence?

Anduin must have talked a lot about him, Velen. After all, Velen is Anduins mr Myagi, his sensei, teacher … his savior. It’s troubling – from a lore standpoint – that Velen continues to be the one no one ever cares about. It’s telling – from a lore standpoint – how far down the ladder the draenei actually are. We’re welcome as mercenaries – but as allies? Not so much. Unless … Unless Yeats is right:

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”

You know what happens next, no? I’m going for a tiny pinch of poetic freedom here, just to … create some drama.

“And what beast, its hour come around at last,
slouches towards Azeroth to be born?”

That’s the unless. That’s the big kahuna. That’s the riddle hidden in a conundrum, the reason Velen haven’t been used so far – used as the cosmic power he truly is:

The hour of the draenei approaches. come patch 6.0 …

We fight back.

I want to be alone, part 4

This is part four of a short story that may or may not lead to some epic conclusion. Part four is … fairly long, I’m afraid, so it might take some time reading it.

You’ll find Part One here.

You’ll find  Part Two here.

You’ll find Part Three here.

Keep in mind all of this is head canon and should not be considered lore. It’s basically a Stream of Consciousness; a type of writing I really enjoy. I have no idea where the story will lead. It runs on its own, free from plans and plots and everything else. In fact, it might not even be very good writing. Still, somewhere in the expansive universe of World of Warcraft I guess there’s a small shelf marked “Pulp fiction”.

You’ll find me there, probably.

I was somewhat inspired by the talk about virtual realms. Also, there’s probably some hints to the upcoming patch 5.4. Most of all it’s sort of a look at Cross Realm Zones from an azerothian view. You know, once upon a time it seemed as if you were all alone in the world. then nametags started popping up everywhere. Now? These days?

The world is crowded.

– – – – –

There was a gnome in the Exodar.

For some people a gnome was nothing special. Indeed, the guards and shop owners saw not as much as a gnome but more of a potential threat (the guards) or a customer (the shop owners). Other people – mostly the paladin in gilded armor over there – snickered. He did his best not to crack a joke; lucky for him he was more interested in moths than gnomes.

Sprackle Cracklerod, engineer extraordinaire, felt a small wave of relief. Ever since he left Gnomeragan he had been forced to laugh at bad jokes. At first he laughed loud, by the time he reached Darnassus he just smiled. When he stepped off the ship from Teldrassil there was no smiles left. All fake joy had been used up. He just gave the mariners a Look when they said farewll to him and pretended to “punt” him across the gangplank.

All in all it was a very lucky paladin who forgot to call out a joke. Sprackle had had enough. He was, apart from an engineer, also a very skilled mage. There was a fireball waiting for the next person who thought a gnome joke would brighten the day. He was on a mission of utmost importance. The faith of Azeroth laid in his hands (so he told himself). Most of all he needed fifty thousand gold. He knew exactly where to get them. That’s why he stepped into the store not far from the bank, “Creannahs Chopper Shop”.

The first thing that happened was this: Nothing happened. Sprackles “Escuse me, I wish to see the manager, please” was met with – nothing. His next words – “Anybody here?” – was met with a clanking noice, a rough ladylike voice going “Oh snap!” and then two horns slowly rose up from behind the counter. The horns were metal. They were attached to the very real horns of a very, very real draenei. She wore a leather apron over a blue overall.

“Are you the manager?” Sprackle said, looking up at her. “If not, I need to see the manager. It’s important. Very important. Eslusive business contracts and all, you know.”
“Hey Cree!” the draenei called. “There’s a kid with a beard here!” The draenei looked down on Srpackle. “I think it’s a gnome acutally!”

Footsteps. Hooves against metal floor. For some reason Sprackle didn’t like the sound, didn’t like it at all. It reminded him of a very traumatic incident in his early career, hunting down ancient blueprints in abandoned spaceships. The last thing you want to hear in Tempest Keep is hooves on metal floor. Especially if you’re a gnome.

Another draenei emerged from a doorway behind the counter. Darkskinned, plae blue shining eyes, horns swept back. She had an ever so slight smile; blackened lips (it was some sort of fashion among certain draenei). She whiped her hands with a piece of wool cloth. The blue overalls she was wearing was covered with stains, old oil smudges and many pockets. She wore a loosely fitted adamantium-foil hood on her head.

“I’m the manager,” Creannah said. She stuffed the rag in her back pocket, pushed away a lock of hair from her forehead leaving a faint smudge of engine grease diagonal across. “Creannah’s the name, call me Cree. Wanna buy something?”
“Not esatly,” Sprackle said, smiling. “If we can talk in private I guess it’s you who want to buy something.”
“Exatly,” Creannah said.
“Right! Good! See? We allready understand each other!”
“No no, it’s pronounced exactly. With an x-sound.”
“Oh, I … ” Sprackle cleared his throat. “I cant say e-ss. Or stuff sounding like it.”
“You can’t? Huh.”
“Had an assident in Borean Tundra. I was a robot for four days before I was cured.”
“I bet you stay away from magnets too, then.”
“Is that some sort of gnome joke?”
“Nah.”
“Good.”

There was silence. Uncomfortable silence. Creannah looked down on Sprackle, waiting. Sprackle looked up at her, slowly twiddling his thumbs in a very nervous manner. At long last Creannah took a step to the side, showed him with an outstretched hand to a small footstool and smiled. She sat down on a pile of white arctic furs and said, hand hanging down between her knees:
“Well, mr ..?”
“Cracklerod! Sprackle Cracklerod, miss … I guess you’re Creannah?”
“That’s right.”
“Good. Now!” Sprackle leaned forward and said in a hushed voice: “How much would you pay for the ability to influence your customers minds ..?”
“Look, if this is some sort of advertising set-up I allready got a guy handling that. A night-elf, really good one too. Ever seen one of those pictures with an almost naked night elf lady sitting on a fence? And in the lover left corner you can see what appears to be a handlebar? Sublime, no? That’s him. And it’s my chopper.”
“Who’s the babe then?” Sprackle said.
“No idea, mate.” She chuckled. “Anyway. People know what they get when they see that ad. A chopper fit for a nude night-elf.”
“Ah, but they can still choose not to buy a chopper,” Sprackle said and nodded. “What would you pay for a device that … takes away the customers free will?” He paused. Leaned back. Looking very content. “What would you pay for a device that makes buying one of your choppers for the best progression in life … mandatory gear?” Huh? Ha ha!”

Before Creannah had a chance to reply, Sprackle pulled out a small metal box from his backpack. The box was no bigger than half a feet, seven inches high. He carefully, gentle in every touch, raised an umbrella-like tiny shield on a silver stick. The shield was made from a copper mesh, curved inwards. In dead center of the dish there was a small golden rod. The rest of the box was clean silver and adamantium, except a few brass buttons, a red glass-knob and a green glass-nob. He held it up in front of her, smiling.
“This is what you’ll get for fifty thousand gold,” he said. “It might not look much but the possibilities are endless!”
“Fifty?”
“Fifty.”
“It doesn’t look like it’s worth fifty.”
“It is! It is!”
“Well, what is it?”

“It’s … A Mentality Antimodulator Dissosiativeograph. I haven’t worked out a nickname yet. I call it Mad.”
“So do I.”
“Essuse me?”
“You’re mad if you think I’m coughing up fifty grand for … a box.”
“It’s more than a boss!”
“Don’t look like much. Sorry.”
“Here!”

Sprackle flipped a switch. The red glass-knob started to pulse and glow. He raised the MAD, pointing it at Clareah the Assistant – the girl in the apron – and flipped another switch. The red glass-knob stopped glowing but the green glass-knob started pulse instead. There was a tiny whirring noise and a small jet of almost invisible white steam pushing out through a small nostril on the side of the MAD.

“Go on, tell her to do something she wouldn’t do normally,” Sprackle said.
“Allright. Clara?”
“Yeah?” She looked up from the motor she’d been working on behind next to the counter. “Wassup?”
“Go tell Velen he’s an old goat.”
“Sure thing b… Hey!”
“Wait!” Sprackle furiously punched a number of buttons. The jet of steam grew thicker … then thinner. The whirring noise sounded like a prolonged wolfwhistle. “Now! Again!”
“Ok,” Creannah giggled. “Go and kiss Antheros. I know you’re sweet on him, Clara. go on.”

Clareah did move. It appeared she wasn’t quite sure if it was a good idea. Her steps were slow, almost dragging. But she did leave the shop. Creannah stood up, walked over to the doorway and watched her assistant go over to one of the guards next to the bank … and punch him in the face, yelling “You’re an old goat!”.

“Oh my,” Sprackle said, looking suprised. “I tried this model out in Ironforge and it worked just fine.” He looked around, brow furrowed. “Ah. I think it may have to do with crystals!”
“Oh shit!”

Creannah rushed forward. Antheros the Guard stumbled around with his hands pressed to his face screaming “My bose! My bose!”. Another guard tackled Clareah to the ground, pinning her under his own weight. More guards came rushing in. A throng of curious and shocked bystanders were quickly forming around the scene. Clareah was struggling, screaming. Two guards grabbed her by her arms, another one heaved himself over her legs. She was more or less buried under shouting, struggling guards.

“Lemme go!” Clareah screamed.
“Let her go!” Creannah shouted.
“What is the meaning of this!?” a watch captain, newly arrived, yelled.
“There we go!” Sprackle said, jubilant about his own genius, flipped a switch and … “Oops.”

It was quite an extraordinary scene. Everyone, including Clareah under a pile of guards, started to dance. The watch captain did so with such vigour he dropped his purple crystal mace and gilded shield, clapping his hands, spinning on the spot. The human paladin who had been buying bags thrust his lower body around in a very sensual way. He attracted more than one interested draenei glance. A passing-by noble young draenei girl slowly danced up to him, almost but not quite touching him with her lips and other bodyparts.

Creannah didn’t dance. Her hands twitched, but that was all.

“The left switch!” Sprackle said with a very urgent tone. “Quickly! The left!” He kept dancing. his words becoming a staccato as he moved. “It’s the crystals! Magnetic antiflux channeling! I didn’t ..! Oh Light! Please! The switch! Do it!”

He had dropped the MAD unit when he started to dance. By now, half the Traders Tier was moving to rythms only themselves could hear or feel. Creannah bent down, picked the MAD unit up and flipped the switch.

The dance party stopped.

For some time people were looking embarassed. Then the crowd started to filter away. Some hurried, almost running. Others walked away arm in arm. The noble young draenei girl and the human male paladin seemed to support each other, quickly stepping inside a building and shutting the door behind them. The guards on top of Clearah and Clearah herself hurried their separate ways. Whatever had just happened seemed to have happened in a dream … or something. Ther would undoubtedly be reports of the incident but for now everyone seemed content with slinking away like small furry frightened animals in front of a wolfpack.

Sparkle breathed deeply. There was a moments silence between him and Creannah, then she said:
“What in the Lights name is that cursed thing!?”
“Mentality Antimodulator Dissosiativeograph,” Sparkle said.
“It doesn’t work!”
“Yes it does! Only it doesn’t work as intended with all these … outlandish crystals all around!”

“There’s nothing wrong with crystals!”
“Sure, yeah ok. No problem. Just, you know.”
“No I don’t.”
“You don’t? I thought you were an engineer?”
“I build choppers, not … Not Mad Boxes!”
“Oh. Uhm … ” Sparkle looked around, thinking. “I think I know the problem now … ”
“Well?”
“You gonna buy the box?”
“No way!” Creannah laughed. It was almost a scornful laugh, it made her feel a bit ashamed. “That’s a weapon of mass delusion, that is! I won’t touch it with a ten foot pole!”
“Ok, sure. No problem.”
“Why don’t it work?”

Sparkle sighed. He returned to Creannah Chopper Shop, sank down on the footstool and turned the MAD unit over in his hand. Creannah joined him, sat down on the furs and waited. She was worried for Clareah but she was also curious about the MAD. Curiousity won the struggle.

“I think there’s some sort of vibration distortion,” Sparkle said. “You see, inside there’s a small sliver of condensed arcane energy, farmed from a spot in Azeroth where all the worlds ley lines converge. Kharazan.” He shuddered. “Let me tell you, it was no easy feat getting that sliver. It’s expected halflife is seven times used, then it needs to be replaced.”
“Kharazan?” Creannah swallowed, hard. “You mean … the haunted tower?”
“That one, yeah.”
“The tower with ghosts?”
“And bats. Don’t forget the bats.”
“And spiders?”
“Uh-huh. And skeletons.”
“And those whiggly scary magic eels?”
“Yyyep.”
“And the ancient arcane construct?”
“That’s where I found the battery needed, yes. The arcane sliver.”
“How many times have you used that box?”
“Six, counting now.”
“Were you going to tell me this before or after I’d given you gold?”
“Ha! Don’t be daft! Afterwards, of course. I’m a gnome after all, not a goblin!”
“You’re evil, that’s what you are!”
“Hey! No need for name calling now, is there? It’s an essuisite boss, this one. Just a bit, well – flawed.”
“How many more slivers do you have?”
“Uhm … I could only … find … one.”
“So … you’re basically trying to sell a paperweight for fifty grand?” Creannah grunted. “Seems a bit goblinesque to me, it does.”
“Look, it’s no biggie getting a new sliver, right? I mean – you’re famous. All of you, your whole family is. Just, you know, ask someone to get a new sliver. Or get one yourself.”
“I’m scared of ghosts. And my sisters are a little bit preoccupied saving the world from a rampaging Horde warchief if you didn’t know.” Creannah chewed her lower lip. She always did when she went into think-mode. There was a small line of tiny pinprick scars below her lip. She always forgot draenei had fangs. “Ouch!” She twitched, stood up, grabbed Sparkle by his collar and pulled him to his feet. “Come on!”
“Where we going!?” he said, trying his best to keep up with her long strides.

Creannah didn’t answer. Sparkle gave up trying to get an answer out of her once they reached the Crystal Hall. By then he was too tired in his legs to run so he just let her drag him. He didn’t care about the humiliation; plenty of chuckles and snickers followed him across the hall. Fear almost paralyzed him: Traumatic memories swam to the surface of his mind.

Her hoofs made a “Clique clique! Clique clique!” on the metal floor. Sparkle hated that sound, especially when he was being dragged across a brightly lit massive crystal hall. It had happened in Tempest Keep – and it happened in the Exodar. just his luck, he thought. Here he was, a gnome to scared to talk, being dragged by an eredar … well, almost an eredar … or something very much alike. Again.

He just hoped they wouldn’t infuse him with raw mana this time. Soemthing had gone wrong with their machineryu. There had been an explosion. Then a ripping sound as if the empty air had opened up in a rift. He rememberd being sucked in somehow, then everything was blank. When he woke up he had no recollection of how he ended up where he ended up or even where where was until someone told him!. He remembered having one mother of a headache. Sometimes he wondered what had happened to the other guy he had been with, Millhouse.

“Please” Sparkle said as Creannah started dragging him up some stairs. “Please! Where are you taking me!?”

“Someone who would be very interested in a weapon,” Creannah said. She stopped by a door, letting Sparkle go. “Wait here.”

He slumped to the floor, panting. Exhausted. Creannah opened the door, stepped inside and closed the door behind her. A minute passed.
“Ooh I can’t stay here,” he said to himself. “Get up, Sparkle, get up!”
Sparkle managed to get to his feet, bending over, breathing hard, deep. The panic and fear started to subside. He looked around but no one seemed to take any interest in him. So he did what any gnome mage would do in a situation like his: He uttered a few short words, waving his hands around … and vanished.

He forgot the MAD unit.

The other side of the light

So I guess you all have seen the tagline up there, the Other Side of the Light.

WoWScrnShot_030812_200510But what does it mean, you wonder (I hope). After all, it is a blog written from the perspective of a race that’s hardly known for shadows. Draenei that is. There’s a simple reaason really. even the Light has a darker side. Or at least an unlit side. Think of it the backside of, well, paper. Think of it as string theory (if it helps).

For as long as I can remember I’ve always found the complicated character more entertaining than the rigid, one dimensional zealot (something I’ve encountered here and there when people try to characterise “Good” characters). I’ve been a roleplayer (pen and paper) since I was 15 years old. That’s almost 30 years of imaginary worlds. Of countless characters. Of billions emotions. It was a lot easier in the beginning I might add; like most roleplayers I spent a few years killing things. Then the emotional stuff crept in, most of all the dualism. Somewhere in the vicinity of aged 20 my characters became more alive.

No more stereotypes. “Living” humans, or orcs, or whatever I was. Perhaps it says something about me but most of my “living” characters evolved into “neutral good” or “neutral evil”. Two-faced, if you like; not exactly upstanding citizens but flawed in their own ways.

Just like we all are.

It’s possible I would feel more at home – and break less lore rules! – as a blood elf but here I am, oen of the “good girls”. The blood elves are interesting in their own right, for sure. They’re not for me though. I played Horde for a year more or less. Like many others who was new to World of Warcraft I found the underdogs more charming, more entertaining. More violent. My first character was, of course, an orc warrior. Ahem.

I’ve often wondered why I didn’t feel the same kind of identity as Horde, as I do with Alliance. It’s all mushy emotional stuff, you know. Just how do you identify with a virtual faction made up of pixels?

It’s the feeling of it all. That sense of belonging. The ever so tiny rush of joy, or pride, or strength, or whatever you feel when you either see Orgrimmar, or Stormwind, or the Exodar for the first time. The community helps but for an introvert (mostly) solo-player as myself other people are not as important as the immersion factor. The simplest way to describe it is: When I rolled my first draenei and woke up in that crashed life pod – I felt at home.

Curious, that. I guess it comes down to this:

  • Visual appearance
  • Setting and immersion
  • New surroundings and mysteries

Don’t forget the music: When you hear it, you’ll understand what it means. (Those of you who don’t listen to the ingame music miss out on something absolutely epic.)

Before I explain what _the Other Side of the Light_ actually means in terms of “storytelling” I’d like to explain why I ended up as a draenei. It’s a bit weird, to be honest.

My first “epic” moment in World of Warcraft was when I saw Orgrimmar for the first time (pre-Cataclysm; all clay huts and sharpened kodo bones). The Horde certainly has the primitive going for them: The music of Orgrimmar did welcome me with a sense of strength, of power. Here I was, a lowly troll warrior (I never made it to Orgrimmar on my orc) and I see those walls. I hear those horns and drums …

the feeling faded. Faster than I thought it would. But something happened. The rugged orc dialect, the phony west indian accent of the trolls, the highbrow sarcasm of blood elves, the hoarse voices of Forsaken – it just … turned me off. One day, I had a warlock level 71 then, horde wasn’t “fun” anymore. After a short foray into night elf territory with a hunter who made it to level 68, I switched servers completely. I hoped it would invigorate the fun feeling – and you know, it did!

The visual appearance of the draenei was probably the most important reason I rolled my first draenei. That ass. Yeah, I’m a horrible person but really – a lot of people usually choose their playable race based on looks. Humans looked boring, night elves still look a bit weird. I don’t “get it” with dwarves and gnomes are too short.

I named her Shuanna, a paladin – a class I had never played before, curious about their self healing (a big deal then; I sucked and still do as warrior and really needed “teh healz”). I was a bit bored with ranged classes too so paladin seemed a good choice. the cinematic intro looked good but I didn’t “get it”, that feeling. Until the calm … soothing … homely feeling. The soundtrack:

It was so different!

Coming from the violent, primal rythm of the Horde to … the ambience. The calm. I became increasingly curious about the lore surrounding the draenei . Once I understood a bit more about them other than their tails and imposing cleavage (or barrelshaped males) I kind of sensed the soul of them: Sorrow, the never faltering knowledge that they will prevail – even if they’re hunted across the Universe. How could you not love poeple like that?

The feeling of belonging to something bigger than life itself was even more powerful when I saw Stormwind for the first time (I never made it to Stormwind on my night elf hunter so this was all new to me). This:

It was like coming from a concert with Pink Floyd and on the way home stumble over a marching band playing Wagner.

That’s why I’m Alliance. I’m too good to be evil but too evil to be good.

That’s why my poor Exodar sisters are a bit … strange. They’re likely the only neutral good draenei in existence (or so I like to believe). They’re flawed, scarred. They have a past, the have issues. They’re human(oid). Should I adhere strictly to the lore I doubt neither of them would exist. They’re not very nice. They can be, but they choose not to.

They have to be. Almost 30 years of experience with flawed characters has taught me the richness of people with problems and nightmares. Given the draeneis background it’s easy to fall into the Mary Sue-trap; always perfect, never bad. for my own sake – it helps my immersion – I need people that’s just as bad as they need. From the means justifies the end-character of Shuanna to the impulsive and daredeviless Zavannah. Or the slightly crazy Sharenne. Or, you know, the “lovesick” mage, Cahanna (well, actually she’s more interested in physical love but hey! Draenei babies got to come from somewhere).

None of them are shining examples of the draenei race. I imagine a lot of highly educated and aristocrathic vindicators tries their best not to think about … “That family”. Besides, it’s more fun to write about people who don’t follow the rules (unless they have to).

They are the Other Side of the Light.

I want to be alone, part 3

This is part three of a short story that may or may not lead to some epic conclusion.

You’ll find Part One here.

You’ll find  Part Two here.

Keep in mind all of this is head canon and should not be considered lore. It’s basically a Stream of Consciousness; a type of writing I really enjoy. I have no idea where the story will lead. It runs on its own, free from plans and plots and everything else. In fact, it might not even be very good writing. Still, somewhere in the expansive universe of World of Warcraft I guess there’s a small shelf marked “Pulp fiction”.

You’ll find me there, probably.

I was somewhat inspired by the talk about virtual realms. Also, there’s probably some hints to the upcoming patch 5.4. Most of all it’s sort of a look at Cross Realm Zones from an azerothian view. You know, once upon a time it seemed as if you were all alone in the world. then nametags started popping up everywhere. Now? These days?

The world is crowded.

– – – – –

Of all the bars in all the world she had to walk into mine.
— Loremaster Mehannah (retired)

“Here kitty kitty!” Mehannah scampered across the floor on all four. The cat – aptly named Cat – retreated further behind a barrel of beer. There was a small alcove there, originally dedicated to some long forgotten godess or entity. Now – a cat-home. A refuge. A safe haven whenever Mistress wanted to feed it.

Cat hated fish.

Cat was a very peculiar cat. It’s hard not to be peculiar if you’ve grown up in an interdimensional spaceship made out of crystal. Cat had been left behind many years ago aboard Tempest Keep. An “adventurer” (rather more of a violent thief) had had to ditch Cat in order to stuff yet another shiny weapon inside the backpack. Somehow – as cats usually do – Cat found a way out. Mehannah found her. She was a bit dumbfounded when Cat screamed “Get away from me!” and then tried to bite her.

“Here Kitty!” Mehannah sighed. “Come out of there and eat something, Kitty.”
Cat shook her head. A sudden urge to lick her left paw left her open to an attack and Mehannah snatched her up. Cat made a halfhearted struggle but eventually settled in.
“Purr. Purr purr.”
“you know you really should learn how to cat, Kitty.”

“Excuse me?” said a voice from the doorway.

Mehannah startled. She turned around fast, Cat in her arms. Then:
“You!?”
“Hi sis,” Kittyanna said. She tried a friendly smile. It didn’t work as she had planned. Instead of a “You have no idea how much I’ve missed you I thought you’d died on all of us!” she got:

“You’re broke again, right?”
“What?” Kittyanna shook her head. It was an almost automatic response. She was broke, that was true, but she was also full of pride (a dangerous thing to be filled with these days). “No! I just wanted to see you!”
“Ha!”
“Hannah, come on. It’s been … what? six years? Seven? Since we saw each other face to face?”
“I don’t count the years and neither should you. It’s not our ways, it’s human ways.” Mehannah sneered a bit. “Thanks for the postcard by the way. You might want to send one a bit more often.”

“I did! I told Shu to pass them on!”
“Phah! Shu!” Mehannah scoffed. “Another harebrain. So how much do you need?” She walked up to her sister. “Here, hold this monster.” She thrust Cat into Kittyannas arms; Cat jumped away and dashed out the door.

Kittyanna turned, slowly, brow furrowed. Then she turned to Mehannah, one hand half raised, mouth half open as if she was about to speak but forgot how.

Mehannah who crossed the main hall of the inn and slipped behind the bar counter. She pulled out a large, heavy iron box, fished a key from one of her pockets and unlocked it. She opened the lid, then stopped halfway in what she was about to do.

“So? How much?” She sighed. “What kind of harebrained idea of a business you’ve got this time?”
“I, uhm … “Kittyanna turned, looked at Cat who sat content on the porch following a butterfly with cautious eyes, then turned back to Mehannah. “That cat? It … does it realy speak or..?”
“It’s smarter than most cats,” Mehannah said. “Long story.”
“Oh.”
“How much?”
“What? You think I came all the way to Nagrand from Pandaria just to borrow money?” Kittyanna thought about it, then sighed ever so slightly ashamed. “Again.”
“Uh-huh.” Mehannah nodded.
“It’s not like the Winter Veil Wonderland was a bad idea, mind you.” Kittyanna said. She crossed the room, sat down by the bar, dropped her backpack on the floor and drummed her fingers against the counter. She was nervous. She hoped it didn’t show. More things than pressing business ideas hunted her. She shot a quick glance at the door but nothing moved (except the butterfly).
“I’m sure you’d been stinking rich from it,” Mehannah said. “Just you shouldn’t have tried building it in Icecrown.”
“I wanted a natural feel to the icewater slides.”
“Yeah … but hiring ghouls as ticketeers?”
“Well, they were cheap. Unemployed and all.”
“Harebrain.”
“Hey! I saved the world! What’d you do, huh!?”
“Kept my head down, my mouth shut and hoped no one would remember me.” Mehannah grunted. “Seriously, why does this family always have to end up at top of the Save the World-list? Wasn’t Icecrown enough?”

Kittyanna shrugged. After a few minutes of silent glaring at each other and other interesting things Mehannahs icy cold welcome softened a bit. She brought them a brandy each. Kittyanna nodded a short thank you, dug out an ebony pipe from one of her pouches and began to stuff it. She lit it with a small wooden stick that, somehow, just sprang up with fire when she muttered a single syllable word.

“I didn’t knew you smoke?” Mehannah said.
“Well,” Kittyanna puffed a few times. “I picked it up in hospital.”
“What? You’ve been in hospital!?”
“Uh-huh.”
“When? What? How long!?”
“About two years ago,” Kittyanna said, staring at her drink, surrounded by a cloud of smoke. “I almost fell off the back of a dragon overlord who was intent on torching the world. Some people didn’t like that, me especially. Cannie grabbed me, saved me. We killed that dragon good but … “She shuddered. Then she looked up at Mehannah. “Ain’t you gonna ask me about the eyepatch?”
“I figure you’ve lost an eye.”
“Wow, miss Superbrain strikes again.”
“Don’t get smart with me or I’ll close this box right now.”

Kittyanna blinked, hard. She really didn’t want to cry. She almost did anyway but there was no tears, just a soft sob, almost like a hickup.

Mehannah pretended not to notice.

“I lost an eye in that fight,” Kittyanna said, her voice quiet, almost a whisper. She drained her glass. “I was lucky. Some people lost a lot more. Some lost their life. I was barely alive when those of us who survived was ported back to Stormwind by Thrall.”
“Wh… Oh.” Mehannah poured them another drink. “I heard about that. News travel slow these days on Draenor but I heard about that orc going all important and stuff. He left the Horde, didn’t he?”
“Uh-huh. Left it to Garrosh, you know.”
“The sick one?”
“He’s not sick anymore. Just mad.” Kittyanna drained her glass, took a final puff on her pipe and cleaned it out in an ashtray made from the skull of an ogre. “Anyway, yeah – I lost an eye. Almost lost my mind. I’m no shaman anymore, in case you wondered.”
“Yeah I know,” Mehannah said and nodded. “Zavvie told me.”
“So you speak to the dead one but not Shu?”
“Come on, it’s not Zavvies fault.”

Kittyanna grunted. The anger subsided fast, leaving a sticky feeling of shame and guilt. There it was again, the almost-but-not-quite crying. She was a bit suprised when Mehannah put a hand on her cheek and said in a soft voice:
“Please don’t cry little sister. I’m not angry, I’m just … Aww crap. I’m no good at this family stuff unless it’s gold involved. Sorry.”

Kittyanna nodded. She felt relieved not having to tell Mehannah of the troubles after the Deathwing-fight. The madness, the pain, the escape, the love … the love of a human. Then of course the very strange pandaren who had taught her balance, harmony and how to fight with nothing but her hands (and chopsticks). She said:

“Well I guess the dead one fills you in eventually … So yeah, okay. I need some money. Not much. Just, well … Ten grand?”
“Ten!?” Mehannah looked shocked. Then suspicious. “You’re not thinking of another funland now, are you?”
“Uh-uh. I’m not thinking of anything but myself, to be honest.”
“Spell it out for me.”
“Well … I’m sort of in trouble with the law.”
“You what!?”

Kittyanna nodded. Now she started to cry. She reached over the counter, grabbed Mehannahs hand in hers and pleaded:

“Please hear me out! It wasn’t my fault, really! Please dodn’t … Don’t tell mum, okay!?”
“Go on.”

Kittyanna kept the vicegrip around Mehannahs hands for a bit, then she let her go, sank back and nodded a thank you as Mehannah filled up their drinks again. She filled her pipe, lit it, smoked nervously for a while. Then:

“I guess Zavvie’s told you all about that Pandaria hysteria, right? How people just flocked in droves trying to get there as fast as they could? All the riches?”
“Uh-huh.” Mehannah nodded. “I was tempted to go there myself but I didn’t want to leave the inn.”
“Yeah … So anyway, I went there. Got a special order, secured transport and all. Sometimes saving the world is a good thing I guess. And yeah, it was true: Riches all around, you know. I fullfilled my end of the army contract and then went my own way only I never read the fine print. So I’m basically gone rogue, just as Zavvie has. Deserter. The Alliance don’t like deserters.”
“You gonna pay your way out of it?”
“I thought so, yeah. Only … Well, it appears some people, military people, are a bit … greedy. You’ve ever heard of lord Perenolde?”
“The guy from Alterac?”
“That’s the one. He’s the one who’s promised to get me off the hook. So either I pay him ten grand or it’s Stockade-time for me. I try not to imagine what those bastards will do to a draenei. Half of them still alive probably have scars from when I took part in riot control. The other half is … well. Humans. Bad ones. Please? I’ve asked Shu but she’s still pissed off about that warlock fling.” Kittyanna sighed, drained her drink and got a new one. “Actually it was more than a fling but that’s over.”

Mehannah gave Kittyanna a long, hard, quizzical look. Then she nodded, ever so slightly. She pulled out five mediumsized pouches from the box. Heavy pouches. Each of them made a dull clinking noise as she placed them on the counter in front of Kittyanna.
“There’s four grand in every one of them,” Mehannah said. “I guess you’ll need some pocket change.” She chuckled, nodding at the brandy. “Don’t spend it all on drinking, sis.”

Kittyanna sighed deeply with relief. She smiled, leaned over the counter and hugged Mehannah. Then she slid off the barstool, stuffed the moneybags into her backpack and said while doing so:
“Thank you! Oh you’ve saved my life! Really! thank you!” She stopped what she was doing, looked at Mehannah and nodded. “I’ll repay you, I promise!”
“You said that the last time,” Mehannah said and chuckled. “Don’t worry about it. Whenever convenient, you know. Besides, I’ve got a good investment in an adamantium mine. this whole craze about vintage armors have revitalised mining operations in Outland, you know.”
“I will pay back all of it!” Kityanna nodded. She grabbed her backpack, headed for the door but stopped in the doorway. “Sorry to run like this but I want to get stuff out of the way, you know.”

Mehannah nodded. She waved her sister away with a “send me a postcard” but Kittyanna didn’t hear it. She was allready running up the stairs to the flight master.

Two hours later a human, dressed in black leather, called on Mehannah. He asked about her sister. She said she hadn’t seen her in almost ten human years. The human in black leather left her with just a bloody nose, a blackened eye and the words that rang through her mind all through the night:

“Tell your sis this, goat:

She messed with the wrong dragon …”

I want to be alone, part 2

This is part two of a short story that may or may not lead to some epic conclusion. 

You’ll find Part One here.

You’ll find Part Three here.

Keep in mind all of this is head canon and should not be considered lore. It’s basically a Stream of Consciousness; a type of writing I really enjoy. I have no idea where the story will lead. It runs on its own, free from plans and plots and everything else. In fact, it might not even be very good writing. Still, somewhere in the expansive universe of World of Warcraft I guess there’s a small shelf marked “Pulp fiction”.

You’ll find me there, probably.

I was somewhat inspired by the talk about virtual realms. Also, there’s probably some hints to the upcoming patch 5.4. Most of all it’s sort of a look at Cross Realm Zones from an azerothian view. You know, once upon a time it seemed as if you were all alone in the world. then nametags started popping up everywhere. Now? These days?

The world is crowded.

– – – – –

Outland used to be empty.

The voices came from a long way away. Filtering down through a haze of pale yellow ache and bloodred pain. The first coherent thought for a long while read ‘Really, you had to pass out on a bloddy rock!?‘. Then the voices. there were two of them. Speedtalking but careful, almost fearful. One voice said:

“Is it dead?”
Another voice – slightly darker – said:
“I think it’s a blueskin.”
“It’s too dark for a D. That’s a fel orc if you ask me.”
“Yeah? Since when do orcs have horns?”
“Maybe it’s a tauren?”
“Not enough fur.” There was a snicker. “Well, except you know. There.”
“I didn’t know they … uhm …”
“It’s a D. Definitely a D.”
“She’s not blue?”
“Maybe she’s dirty.”
“Yeah. Or she’s been dead a long time. My my … “
“Better not touch her, dude.”

Zavannah tried to moan. At first the only sound she could make was a faint whimper. Then she moaned; aching head, sharp rock in back, cuts and bruises everywhere … and she didn’t remember how she’d got them.

“It’s alive!”
“See? Bit of charm and I’ll get even a dead dollface like that giving me the O-face.”
“You – what?”
“You know? Oh! Oh! Oooh!”

There was a sound; a “whack!” followed by a “clink!” and an “Ooouwww! Ya’itme!” Zavannah coughed. She really didn’t want to but she opened her eyes nevertheless. Sharp sunlight, hazy through the ever drifting clouds of loose mana and duststorms hundreds of miles up in the sky. she croaked:

“It’s … ” She coughed. “It’s Hellfire.” She rolled over on her side, grunting. “What the duck am I doing here!?”

“Beats me,” said one of the voices – the darker one. “Uhm – duck?”
“Speach … ” She coughed. “Impediment.”
“Oh, allright then.”

Shapes pressed through the blur of reality.She became increasingly aware of her lack of clothes. A pile of armor some feet away, two swords thrust into the red earth on either side of her. A pair of boots. And two goblins.

“Whoreyou!?” She coughed. Something came loose in her throat. She spat a gob of greenish slime. the faint wiffs of rotten eggs (and something far more pungent) turned the air around her into a yellow haze. “Who are … you!?”

“Man, you smell like a dead Idunnowhat!” One of the goblins said.He had a pair of welding glasses on his forehead, heavy black- and yellow workmans gear. he took a few hurried steps back. The other one – he had a yellow helmet with a candle in front – turned decidedly pale.

“Unholy,” Zavannah said, moaning. She rolled over on her back, grimased when she struck the jagged rock and rolled over on her other side. The goblins retched. For a few minutes nothing happened. She kept stinking, the goblins kept retching. Eventually she gathered enough of her faculties to mumble something.

There was a wooshing sound of air sucked in. A sharp bang like a pistolshot. A cloud of frost and tiny snoflakes rained down from nowhere around her. The earth around her glittered but the frost melted away. Hellfire Peninsulas red earth drank. A small bud of Felweed sprung up; emerged, straightened up … came alive. Death was everywhere. Life lived fast. no one had time to spend months slowly creeping up through the earth, least of all Felweeds.

Zavannah sat up, slowly. Joints creaked, her skin shimmering from frost, muscles growing tense and hard. But just for a few moments. Soon she was as agile as ever. On a positive note she didn’t smell like a rotting undead. She smelled more like, well, a frozen un-alive corpse. She blinked, looked at the goblins and tried her best to smile a friendly smile.

Her grimace turned both of them even more pale.

“Hot damn, a death knight!” the dark-voiced goblin said. “Been years since I saw one.”
“What about that chick in Shat? she was very much dead.”
“Nah, that was just a Forsaken. Had to do her carefully. bits an pieces kept falling off her.”
“Oh. Eh – what!?”
“You know. ‘Ride ’em baby! Yeah! Oops, you lost a finger I think’. Kinda.”
“I sometimes fear for you, Grebs.”
“No worries, Crebs. Come on, live a little.”

“Could one of you two gobbs please tell me exactly what I’m doing here?” Zavannah said, cutting another story of sexscapades short. “I have no memory of this place.”
“Yeah, well. That’s usually what happens when you drink like a hundred bottles of gutrot, doll.”
“Don’t call me doll.”
“Yeah sure, no problem do–”

Her arm shot out, quick as a snake. She grabbed Grebs the dark voiced goblin by his throat. He squealed.
“Call me doll again,” Zavannah said. “I dare you, I double dare you!”
“Eeek!”
“What am I doing here?”
“G’aaak!”
“Am I strangling you?”
“Uuk!”

She let him go. Grebs stumbled back, got his feet tangled and fell. There was a puff of dust. It settled nicely on his heavy leather miners clothes.
“Crazy bi… you’re crazy!”
“I’m un-alive, what do you think?” Zavannah said.

She stood up, slowly, huffing and puffing. A few hundred feet to the south faint streaks of smoke rose towards the bloodred sky. The wreckage of some sort of caravan; broken wagons, slaughtered domesticated hellboars. A twenty feet high pile of dead fel orcs. Peons, from the look of it.

“Oh,” she said, looking down on her bruised, bloodsmeared body. “Ah.” She chuckled. “Guess I ravaged the land, huh?”
“We, uhm … ” Grebs sat up, careful not to make any sudden moves. When Zavannah yanked the swords from the ground he made a tightlipped “Eeep!” sound.
“Go on,” Zavannah said while she strapped on her armor. “You were saying?”
“I, I … Uhm … Look, do–. Look, miss. You’re a miss, aintcha?”

Zavannah nodded.

“Look, we were just passing by you know. Nice little ride and all that. We’re miners see, looking for stuff. Uhm … mostly fel iron. There’s not much left but sometimes you get lucky and the prices have skyrocketed and our uncle Stixx Stickitup told us he said ‘son’ well he’s not my da just an uncle but he said ‘son’ you … ” Deep breath. “He said ‘son, yuss go get some gold from dem flotin’ rocks yonder the Dark Portal and we split the profits’ and you … ” He trailed off, panting.

“What Grebs is trying o say, miss … ” Crebs waited.
“Zavannah. Zavvie to my friends.”
“Miss Zavvie, he j–”
“You’re not my friends.” She put her hands on the hilt of her swords; dried resin, camouflaged as Treacherys Bite. Both of them.
“Miss Zavannah, he’s a bit nervous around sharp objects. It’s a childhood trauma. He, uhm … Never mind. Anyway!”
“Yes?”
“We saw you dismount your flyer like fifty feet up, drop down right on their heads you did. Then there was a lot of dust, and snow. And flashed of steel. And someone screaming ‘Not the face!’. And then, uhm … Then you dragged boxes out. A lot of them. We thought maybe you had struck gold you know, but … uhm … Did you know they were hauling brandy?”
“I kind of hoped they were hauling gold, to be honest.”
“Oh.”
“Did I drink all of this?”
“Uh-huh. Took about twelve hours. Then you passed out – after yelling at a bug. I think the words were ‘What do you mean to high level!? I’ll show you level you ducking duck!’. Speach impediment?”
“Oh.” Zavannah twitched. The headache wich had subsided from the frost presence flared up again. But not for long. “They screwed something up when they re-purposed me. I can’t say f… f… I can’t say duck.”
“Uh-huh.”
“So what then? After the bug?”
“You kinda … stripped. While you drank. And ate a hellboar. Raw. While it was alive.”
“Oh.”
“We hid behind that rock over there. See that tarpaulin? That’s the Zeppelin Crash Site. Haven’t been a zep around for ages though. So we hid there. We found bacon.”
“Oh.”
“And … well. We kinda … thought … you … were dead.”

The last word was a mere mumble. Crebs scratched his boot in the dirt in front of him, hiding his hands behind the back, head lowered. Eventually he looked up at her.

“And that’s, well. that’s how it is. Grebs wanted to du– wanted to touch you. He’s weird, in a charming way, mom says. But you woke up and here we are, having a nice chat.”
“Does he have a thing for corpses?” Zavannah said, intrigued.
“They don’t protest,” Grebs said. “Usually.”
“That’s … ” She was at a loss of words. Then she shivered. “That’s sick even by my standards!”
“Hey, gotta catch the moment yeah?”
“Mining!” She laughed. “I was going prospecting!”
“What? Like gems and stuff?”
“No no no, looking for fel iron. don’t ask why.”
“Okay. Why?”
“Vintage armor, amazing stuff!”

There was a faint crackle from somewhere down by her waist. For a second a ghostly image of a heavy duty trillium armor flickered on her body. Then the pitch black iron ‘breast plate’ and the iron leggings with red details came back.

“That’s a faulty modulator,” Crebs said. “I did som community service with them Ethereals in Orgrimmar. I know my modulators.”
“Community service?”
“An unfortunate misunderstanding visavi ownership of a Kor’kron guard captains wallet. Ahem.”
“Oh.”
“You know, you should have that looked at. Those little buggers can send fifty thousand volts through you.”
“Thanks,” Zavannah nodded. She looked around, found nothing of interest and mumbled a few words. A ratehr angry black Netherdrake emerged out of nowhere in a cloud of dust and smoke. She stroked it across a wing, calming it. Mounts – whatever race – really didn’t like the ‘nether storage’ spells. But it saved space.

“Well, thanks for … Uhm … Thanks for waking me. See you around, eh?”
“I really hope not,” Grebs and Crebs said in unison.

Transmog strategy and tactics

“Really, Sha?” Zavannah shook her head. “You actually gonna wear that? Or let me rephrase: Did you forget to pick up your robe from the dry cleaners again?”

Sharenne scoffed. She looked down on her clothes. From her vantagepoint there was absolutely nothing wrong with her ‘adventure outfit’. Pandaria could be hot as Molten Core and wet enough to drown a Kraken. Heavy robes was impractical in a climate such as that. Especially armor of the kind the Alliance insisted on; triple layers of heavy duty cotton, woven cloth armor upgrades and the occasional gemstone (not to mention smoking shoulders and uncomortable hoods).

“There’s nothing wrong with these clothes,” she said. “They’re perfectly safe, sane and I guess consensual. So, there. Besides, maybe you should take a look at yourself. What’s that – a bikini made from ghost iron?”
“It’s iron!”
“It’s still skimpy, miss I’m Not Dead Yet.”
“It’s practical!”
“So’s mine.”
“But that’s … ” Zavannah sighed. “It’s underwear!”
“Well well well, look who’s talking.”

Zavannah opened her mouth to protest but fell silent. She was almost about to admit Sharenne was right when a thought struck her:
“This isn’t ‘sexy wear’. This is a mind trick. Strategy! Tactics!”
“So’s this,” Sharenne said – and struck a pose.

*****

World of Warcraft is in it’s essence ever since patch 4.3 a dress-up game. Much like the Sims you earn gold to buy new clothes and spend even more gold on shiny bling (that’s epic gems for you). In fact, I’d go as far as propose that World of Warcraft is akin to paper dolls.

Now that I’ve effectively newtered every single (male?) gamer who thought it was all about stats and progression raiding, let’s get on with the topic at hand: Clothes, ladies and gentlemen (and that goblin over there)!

By chance I happened upon a must read-blog for anyone who’s A) in love with one or more draenei, or B) likes the wonderful art of transmogrification. Pretty Fly For A Draenei is a virtual goldmine of the most amazing transmogs. This is one of those moments I wish I hadn’t deleted a slew of old screenshots. It’s also a moment where I’m distracted from my actual work by a whole legion of draenei – most of them in really nice clothes. I guess that’s the downside of working from home; my discipline is at times somewhat lacking.

Anyway. Looking through the screenshots I have left following my clean-up mania I’m struck by how there’s more than discipline that’s lacking. Armor, for instance. There could be a long post about objectifying and the male gaze here, but I won’t go there. Not this time anyway. While I am a feminist, I’m not always a good feminist. Case in point: I like my skimpy armor. So, there.

Over time the bank and void storage has filled up with tons of items. Transmog revitalised the game in a way I, at least, didn’t think was possible. Before 4.3 we had to accept either a serious lack of stats – or go with the warsaw pact black-and-brown that’s the prevalent color scheme from Wrath of the Lich King up to and incluing Cataclysm. Mists of Pandaria came with a lot of color, wich was nice. Surely you know all this so I’m not going further with the ‘haute couture’-analysis.

There’s a glaring lack of armor in most of my draeneis armor. I pretend it’s by their own free will. The “Maker” has nothing to do with it. Ahem. Still, there’s a certain sense of Doom Is Coming Your Way when the big Bad Boss looks up from his paperwork just in time for the arrival of five stalwart heroes. Then one of them steps up … in a bikini. “Oh, this won’t take long” I bet the Big Bad Boss thinks. “She’s virtually naked!”

that’s the mind trick, you see. Take a look at any boss and there’s a lot of pent-up testosterone there. not to mention an often glaring lack of mindfulness of Current Topics. Ol’ Rag (or someone else) sees nothing but “breasts” (much like the poor sap in Coupling).

About that time Zavannah unleash her powers … probably with a snicker. “Never knew what hit him”.

(I’ve been yelled at by a tank once when I got involved in a complicated transmog debate and tactical analysis of the skimpy outfit; the other DPS was almost as fond of underwear in metal a I. We sort of … held up the run through I believe it was Grim Batol. Nice one, that other DPS. The tank was just like most tanks are; Grumpy. It’s possible the tank had seen discussion such as this before; after all – the tank was wearing the Saltstone Set … )

These are just but a few of the multitude of fashion statements I’ve made over the years. Sorted in no particular order but starting with the piéce de resistance: Creannah, aka “the Dark Shaman”. To be honest I’m a bit proud of this outfit (just a tad, I don’t want the Sha of Pride to come sniffing, we all know what happens then).

WoWScrnShot_050712_212807

Shoulders: Spored Tendril Spaulders

Chest: Dark Iron Mail

Legs: Ebonhold Leggings

Gauntlets: Ebonhold Gauntlets

Belt: I can’t for the life of me remember the name! Something something belt something.

I actually built this set from skintone and up. The belt was a nice touch, I think. I’m not overly fond of Wrath of the Lich King gear but the spaulders really made the whole thing. It’s a Cataclysm-screenshot so teh dagger is … something from Dragon Soul, I think. Or something. It’s a dagger, allright? It’s made for poking people with!

skimpy

(Don’t mention this image for Shuanna. She still don’t know it exists. You don’t want me to develop a speach impediment now, do you? She’s pretty good with her mace and, well, getting maced by a paladin hurts. A lot.)

I was once lucky enough, way before 4.3 came around, to own the (almost) complete Jade Plate Set. This was … I think around 2008, just a few months after I started playing World of Warcraft. Back then before transmog green items were still real cheap on the Auction House. As long as stats didn’t matter complete sets could be found for less than 100 gold. As far as I remember there was a lot of stamina and spirit once I had equipped it. I never ran dungeons back then. I solo-played. Stats like strength etc wasn’t that important to me. Look was important however. I died. A lot. With this set. But it was so gorgeous I couldn’t help myself. That spider ate me, by the way.

WoWScrnShot_112112_012250

Shoulders: Laughing Skull Shoulders*

Chest: Bucaneer’s Vest

Legs: Cournith Waterstrider’s Silken Finery

Sharenne isn’t a draenei but since Blizzard in their stupidity has decided that draenei can’t be warlocks I had to adopt a human. Grrrr. Still, she’s pretty fly for a ‘naturalized draenei’ (she’s adopted, allright?). I ran almost every zone from Jade Forrest to Dread Wastes with this look. There was quite a fewe raised eyebrows; I didn’t even know Mantids had eyebrows!

*: the Laughing Skull Shoulders are one of the really rare shoulder models that don’t look like a 24-wheeler with a skyscraper with spikes and fire. It’s almost not noticeable … wich is why I love them. For any mage, priest or warlock who don’t like big shoulders they’re an absolute must – just like the Aurora Mantle (a clean, white and almost invisible shoulder model).

Sharenne would probably feel right at home with this:

WoWScrnShot_011912_224903

Alas, it’s not a warlock. It’s Cahanna, a mage who sometimes … joins the dark side. Notice the hot poker. On rare occasions a cloak can actually be pretty nifty.

Shoulders: Sorry, can’t remember. I think it’s something from old Scholomance.

Chest/Robe: Black Velvet Robes

Head: Aurora Cowl

The sword … Can’t remember, possibly a quest reward from (old?) Scholomance, but not sure. The Red Hot Poker is (was?) a drop from the inquisitor mini boss in normal Scarlet Monastery (I think).

This is one of the rare moments when Cannie actually looks demure. Speaking of wich, I ran around Black Temple with a few guildies once dressed in ‘lingerie’ … (Screen from an earlier moment in Searing Gorge).

WoWScrnShot_081212_172809

Shoulders: Aurora Mantle

Chest: Polychromatic Visionwrap

Legs: Pants of the Naaru

Headpiece (eyepatch) belt, bracers and gloves – those I can’t really remember. (It’s been awhile since I could actually play due to a sick computer so I’m relying on memory alone.)

While in Black Temple, typical friendly banter ensued. I’m the in-house confirmed transmog addict after all. Once we were back in Stormwind Cahanna had an epiphany. Well, actually I just wanted to show that blasted Death Knight, the banter leader, that I could be well behaved too!

She dug deep in her wardobe and ended up looking pretty bad-ass – but very moral. Almost too moral. Except the inherent “By hale Magefire be purged!” zealotry … uhm … Yeah. Sometimes even Cataclysm wear has its place.

WoWScrnShot_030912_204145

Those occasions are rare ones. Cahanna might be a good enough mage, she relies a lot on her draenei looks in order to survive. There she is, happily traipsing along some long forgotten path in Kun Lai and a Mad Yangol shows up. The war cry is cut short. The bovine brain can’t think of anything but … yeah, you guessed it. Evil schoolgirls.

WoWScrnShot_031512_023908

While the cruel confused cow blinks away the images of “Yangol Centerfold Weekly” (if there is such a magazine) Cahanna slips away.

Ever since they nerfed Arcane, she’s the Rincewind of Azeroth. I just can’t get the hang of Frost. Blurgh, as the water elemental said.

In fact, the mage nerf in Mists of Pandaria was the only reason I rolled a Death Knight. Once I’d lived through the harrowing experience of the more than cruel starter zone I found that Death Knights … was a lot of fun! sometimes you obviously has to be “dead” in order to live. Strange. Zavannah became my new main in almost record time. Not only that, she’s also the one I identify with the most (even though I’m very much alive). There’s a certain misantrophy in a Death Knight that’s just impossible to resist. As a bonus she’s a one-draenei army; She’s survived the most impossible things!

She’s a terror in an armored bikini.

WoWScrnShot_051312_181053

Shoulders: Unknown (blame it on a slight memory lapse)

Chest: Warrior’s Embrace

Legs: Cenarion Thicket Legplates

Gloves: Unknown (blame it on a slight memory lapse)

And for the slightly colder climate, the “wicked witch of the West” version.

WoWScrnShot_112612_010815

I’m not too fond of the Acherus starter gear but the cassock (or skirt) is sort of a favourite.

There you have it. An assortment of fashion statements. It’s hard to grow tired of transmog so for once the “GG Blizz” actually means something positive. All we need now is an expanded Void Storage.

then I’ll go really crazy.

*****
The healer, a priest, fully decked in cloth armor so thick she could hardly stand up straight, gave Zavannah an incredulous look. A raised eyebrow, a slight smirk. It was clear there was more than just Zavannah armor at stake: Light versus Darkness and all that. Politics rarely mix with mercenary outfits.

“Not much to wear there,” the priest said and chuckled. “You sure you won’t catch a cold, hon’?”
“I’m frost specced,” Zavannah said. “Immune.”

Ten seconds later the tank dropped his sword. As the group made a hasty retreat (“a negative advance”, as the tank called it) they blamed Zavannah. She stopped dead in her track, turned around towards the incoming minions of evil …

And slaughtered them.

There’s no carrots in Molten Core

What in Azeroth does thath even mean!? Well, uhm … I was toying with the idea of spinning some sort of story around each of my screenshots. Or almost each of them. To be honest there’s not that many screens in my folder. For reasons unexplained I must have dumped a lot of them a long time ago. Most likely while cleaning my computer.

(I do this on a regular basis; it’s a thing. Once upon a time I had a computer with very limited space and I grew accustomed to cleaning out “trash” in order to free up disk space. Even though I don’t actually need to do this anymore, some habits are hard to break.

Wich reminds me: First order of business once I’m able to actually play again will be screenshots. Lots of them!)

But carrots!?

Oh, uhm … I was still thinking about my short story in wich my DK (aka “the Dead One”) spends most of her time in Halfhill. Growing carrots. Then I looked through my screenshots, undecided wether to write something about them or not. And found this:

WoWScrnShot_090512_230517

I like the composition of it. There’s a certain sense of inevitable doom for poor Rag. Zavannah (“the Dead One”) is level 90 after all. Mind you, he’s not to be trifled with. His knockback is still pretty awesome – if he gets that far.

He rarely do.

Speaking of doom, Ragnaros isn’t the only one who’s taken a beating. In this day and age of walking weapons of mass destruction our heroes have come to be, not even old C’Thun is safe anymore. There it is, happpily staring into whatever it is an Old God is staring at. Thinking about all the countless raiders turned into pulp over the years … and then a crazy schoolgirlshows up.

At least something schoolgirlish; there’s a certain flair to the “evil schoolgirl” look. Interesting though – I’ve never been very keen on manga or anime. I guess there’s some hidden coincidental or general sex appeal in scantily dressed females. With horns. I do remember this “raid”. Quite fond of it in fact. It speaks volumes about me as a player in general and more to the point – me and raiding. Or rather – non-raiding.

When old content opened up – when old raids no longer required a raid group – I went a bit overboard. The first evening and night following the patch wherein the raid group requirement no longer applied, I ran Blackwing Lair, Molten Core, Ruins of Ahn Qiraij and Temple of Ahn Qiraijj on every single high level character.

I had 5 of them. The one old raid I had trouble with was the Temple; I never made it past the Twins. It bugged me (is there a pun in there?).

It wasn’t the first time I was in the Temple. That’s why it bugged me. Agreed, we did have some trouble with the twins but that was because we didn’t know. It’s more fun that way, allright!?

I think it was in august 2012 when me and two other guildies – a paladin and a mage – ventured there. It turned out to be a slapstick encounter of many curious wipes and hilarious accidents. All of us went in blind; no reason to do research when you’re awesome! Ahem …

The mage jumped on his death knight. We recruited another paladin who came online, and I seem to remember a healer short on time as well. All in all it was a typical thing for us: We don’t care (much) about proffesional behaviour. Dying horribly with a laugh is almost as fun as the ancient purple drops from old and obsolete bosses. Such as the Old God below.

WoWScrnShot_081812_214258

Speaking of hilarious deaths, my shop-a-holic shaman Creannah made the news some years back following an unfortunate accident. There I was, happily leveling through Outland, Hellfire Peninsula. I knew of all the dangers. I knew!

A short lapse of vigilance ended badly. I was focused on teh green blobs, I had to kill 10 of them I think. I saw a Terrorfiend (or whatever they’re called) in the distance and sorted the demon under “next to kill”. You see, I like ranged classes. Do it right and it’s just like a sniper; picking targets, the kill order, the focus of fire. The immersion of the task at hand, oblivious of the world around you. Like one of the first lines in the movie Enemy at the Gates: “I am a stone … “

A stone, as it turned out, with poor hearing. I didn’t hear the foghorn until it was too late. Then: SPLAT! For some reason a few days later after I made the cut for Around Azeroth over on WoW Insider, I got a lot of whispers and back-slapping from people I didn’t even knew on my server. Sort of fifteen minutes of fame. So, you know, Fel Reavers are good for something at least. Now, if only they could drop soemthing more fashionable than some dirty rags and 45 silver I’d be even more happy.

WoWScrnShot_011511_042318

It’s become sort of a tradition to one-shot them with a 90 whenever I see one while flying over Hellfire Peninsula. By now they probably fear me more than I fear them (whenever I roll a lower level alt thorugh their domain). I don’t care if they’re old content.

Old content is fun. It’s God Mode gaming, sure, but it’s still fun.

That, however, is a story of its own.