SALVATION

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Sooner or later you have to stop running from your ghosts.”

I had to think quite a bit about how to update Shuannas backstory. But, if I may say so, it turned out rather well. The paladin is dead – long live the priest! This is her story. Her new story:

*****

The world is changing. If Shuannah was a visionary, or a mystic, or an oracle, she would allready know what’s coming. But she doesn’t know. No one does … well, maybe Velen, but Velen is tightlipped about the prophecy some sources claim he whispered not long ago. “When past and present collide, the fate of all worlds hangs in the balance”.

The world is changing. It’s changing in a way she can understand. It’s the story of a paladin who lost her light. It’s the change of a person who once were young and adventurous – and then became old and scared. Fear reigned supreme in her own little personal country for a long, long time. She hid from the world, holed up in a house in Stormwind. Collecting trash – or whatever items relatives sent her. They rarely asked how she was doing. Not the real question, the one beyond the typical “how you doin’, sis?”.

Zavannah asked. But Shuanna never answered back. Letters remained unopened. She pretended not to be home when the there was a knock on the door. She pulled down the curtains, covered up the furniture. Fearing that should someone somehow manage to peek through the thick velvet curtains all they would see would be draped furniture. The sure sign of no one home.

She hid in the cellar when the world rumbled. Like a mole, peering out with blinded eyes only occasionally. The Cataclysm eventually drew her back to “adventures” but it was a shortlived trip. Fear gripped her. In every fight. In every breath.

Northrend broke her, you see. Some heroes can shake off the horror with a sneer and a laugh. Some heroes pretend it wasn’t that bad. Most heroes grit their teeth. She wasn’t the only one who broke. Westfall is full of the broken. “Veterans”, people call them. Some of them were at the Wrathgate, not many survived of course but some did.

Shuanna did.

Fear does not come alone. Guilt is the cousin of fear. Shame is their brother. She mended herself, somehow she slowly ventured back into the world. Responsibilites, you know. Few people knew she drank herself to sleep. Most people thought she was a bitch – always cranky, angry. Sometimes violent. That’s nothing unusual; people are used to violence. No one cared.

Well, Zavannah cared. But the door was still shut. The curtains still drawn. The letters remained unopened.

Shuanna rekindled her spirits eventually. It was a slow process. She missed most of the Deathwing war (for wich she’s grateful). She – like many others – were gripped by the pandaria craze. A land of milk and honey awaited the bold. Riches beyond imagination!

She saw mostly terror.

Yet … in the small way that fate sometimes works, she found a mystery. It was quite silly really. The grizzled draenei vindicator, driven from one world to another, found HOPE. In a girl. A little girl, a child. No more than maybe twelve or thirteen (human) years old.

Shuanna found Li to be extremely annoying at first. But her uncle paid good money for personal protection. Be as it may – Shuanna took the little girl on some sightseeing. In the small way that fate sometimes works, she found …

Salvation.

The world changed. Upon her return “home” – if any draenei truly has a home – she felt invigorated. The unopened letters were opened and answered. The path to reconciliation with the once favourite sister, Zavannah, started and ended in both laughter and tears (and a funny story about carrots). Steps were taken to bring the sisters closer. All of them – even the adopted one’s (that’s a story in itself).

But her hands were no longer used to the leatherbound handle of her mace. Her arms could no longer carry the weight of such devastating force. Her mind would no longer function the way a vindicators mind should function. It had been too long. Too long …

Fear gripped her. It grew with every new story of the mysteries of Pandaria. Could the Sha stretch their damnable black tentacles so far away that they even could reach her in Stormwind? What can someone possibly do when the shadows tighten, when breath becomes a rare commodity … when gasps in the sleepless nights slowly breaks you?

The sisters were helpless. Mostly because she didn’t want their help.

The Northrend nightmares started anew. The empty Caraway Burnwine bottles kept piling up. A chance meeting with someone Shuanna had never met before in person, but someone she had heard a lot about, changed her world. She was on an errand, half drunk, tired to the bones. She stumbled on a loose flagstone, not far from the ethereals shop down by the harbor. She would have fallen had a hand not shot out from somewhere she didn’t notice.
“Careful there, friend,” a soft voice said. A male voice.

When her eyes focused, there he was. Like a saving grace, an angel of faith and redemption – or for some, terrible vengeance. Maraad.

They talked. They talked for a long time. Well, she talked. Maraad listened. She talked about Karabor. About Shattrath. She talked about Azeroth. Most of all – she talked about Northrend. For hours upon hours. In a way she cleansed herself. When they departed and said farewell he shook her hand and said, quite simple really:
“Go to the Aldor, friend. Save yourself. Embrace their mercy.”

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So she did. It was, in fact, just as simple as that. The world changed, as did her name. She honored her past by keeping her old name – even though it wasn’t required or even preferred. But she added an H – Shuannah. Her studies into the priesthood were swift; she knew the writings, the codes. With each passing level of ascenscion and experience of a “new hope”, she felt more at ease.

The nightmares ended.

Her future began.

Hard to kill

I won’t start with a (probably poorly written) short story. Not now. Certain characters grow to be too important for the sordid pulp fiction my brain decides is “good writing” when it relax. Instead, I’m going to tell you a story of how Shuannah the Priest came to be. And how you can, in a way, fall in love.

I did say I was going to delete Shuanna. I was wrong. As it turns out, paladins are hard to kill – especially when they have Feats of Strength and mounts that’s class specific. I wasn’t sure if the Feat of Strength would remain if I deleted her. In order to err on the side of caution I asked around. A whole bunch of comments in a WoW Insiders “the Queue” convinced me not to delete her.

Lucky for me I guess. Even as a cloth wearing banker she’s holding Zin’Rokh in a very threatening manner whenever I mumble something about “delete”.

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“Delete!? Oh no you won’t!”

Shuanna was “born”, as a character, on the same day Wrath of the Lich King got installed on my computer. I got Lich King as a christmas present so I wasn’t there from the very start but no matter. Once it was installed I decided it was time for a change – I changed not only faction but also server (from EU Alonsus to EU Saurfang; I still have an unactive hordie on Alonsus). So as I was sitting there at the character creation screen I could really just find one model that looked decent enough. Humans looked that poorly cut out paper dolls. Night elves appeared to have trouble with their hands. Dwarves and whatnot didn’t appeal to me. In fact, the only “high res” race of the Alliance was draenei.

So Shuanna came to be, a back then level 1 paladin. Why paladin? Well, I was a bit tired of ranged. A paladin seemed a good choice. It was harder than I thought it would be – but eventually I managed to reach level 80. I haven’t been much of an end game player so once Shuanna was 80 I soon rolled a new character (a paladin!). That’s how it continued to be. Eventually Shuanna ended up as a banker and that’s how she’s stayed for a long time.

Until now.

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Shuannah took her first steps as a level 1 priest last night. With a bit of help from a friendly mage she even made it to the Aldors Priest Academy in one piece. I thought it fitting to end a paladins career at the Aldor Rise – and start a priests career at the very same spot. She’ll go back to Azuremyst of course; I think Terokkar mobs are a wee bit hard to kill even though she’s a former paladin.

So you see, things worked out just fine in the end. And Walt Whitman is still right:

““We have circled and circled till we have arrived home again, we two, We have voided all but freedom and all but our own joy.”

Death of a paladin

“OOH NO YOU WON’T!”

– Shuanna*

“Come sail your ships around me
And burn your bridges down
We make a little history, baby
Every time you come around”

– Nick Cave

There had been one nightmare to many. Everyone has a breaking point and she had reached hers. Alone, still trembling, still slick with sweat thick as oil, still cold. It’s unsual to wake up screaming (she had done it before but a long time ago). Instead she woke up with a whimper, a small gasp.

Only this time she knew it was time for a change. Salvation. Peace. Her thoughts wandered in a direction she didn’t want them to go but to a place they had gone too often lately. Ever since Northrend … dread Northrend.

The ghouls didn’t break her. The cold didn’t break her. What broke her spirit was the never ending echoes of death. Late nights, hunkered down close to a fire covered in furs on a parapet not far from the Wrathgate – there was the screams. Early mornings in Dalaran, a coffee and fresh bagels with cheese on a balcony dressed in nothing but mageweave – yet there was the screams. The chilly but pleasant evenings in Grizzly Hills, laughing and cheering as roughnecks tossed logs and horseshoes in the light of bonfires – and there, deep within her, was the screams.

The screams never left her. The women screaming as Karabor fell. The men screaming as Shattrath fell. The children screaming as camp after camp after camp in Zangarmarsh fell. The dogs screaming – oh that was horrible. She’d been assigned as security to a hunting party of nobles who had bought their sons titles in the Argent Dawn. They were in Eastern Plaguelands, not far from Maris Stead. The ghouls and filth who attacked the camp didn’t care about the humans and night elves – they were after the dogs. The dogs, screaming. And the horses, the horses screaming.

Someone high up in the echelon of the Alliance had thought cavalry would do just the trick in Icecrown. They were wrong. Barely two days after the horses had arrived most of them were sick or suffering from severe frostbite. A complete cavalry regiment – the 71:st of Northshire – had to shoot their horses. The wailing screams of horses slaughtered – it echoed across the frozen wastes. A sound met with hollow laughter from the Scourge.

Yes … There had been one nightmare to many. It was time for a change. Seven years of pain had to end.

There’s only one way to end it for a paladin.

Shuanna took a long, last look at the twohand mace above the mantlepiece. Then she sat down by the desk, pulled a piece of paper close – and a pen.

“Dearest sister,” she wrote. “I’m sorry.”

– – – – –

Shu_MCgear

Sometimes nostalgia and tradition is a good thing. Sometimes it’s not. There comes a time in every characters lifespan when all that could be done has been done. Such is the fate of Shuanna – the very first Alliance character I rolled on EU-Saurfang.

That was back in … 2007. Or possibly 2008, I actually can’t remember.

Shuanna fought her way to level 80 mostly by questing. The dungeons she eventually ventured into came later – much later. When she could solo them. I wasn’t a particularly good player back then – at least not with paladins. I still suck as a paladin, wich is why she’s been a banker toon for the last three years. Those 5 levels of Cataclysm was a horrible experience. The last 5 level of Pandaria wasn’t much better.

Paladin isn’t “my” class.

In a sense Shuanna is still my First Main even though she’s only been handling the familys economy the past couple of years. But it bugs me a bit; she should get more “trigger time”. She should be my Draenei Prime – she’s the oldest of them after all. Wich is why I’m about to do something terrible. Or fantastic. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. By now I’ve reached a point where both of my current mains – Vassannah and Sharenne – sit comfortably at iLvl 533. I’m even exalted with Emperor Shao Shao and farming timeless coins for the mount, well, that’s something that will accumulate over time as I diligently do my dailies and weeklies. I don’t have to worry about progression; I’m hardcore casual.

So I’m planning a “new project”. It’s a journey back to the roots, back to where it all began. Some changes, but one must never ever be afraid of change. It’s like Frank Zappa said, “without deviation from the norm, change is not possible”. To be honest – it bugs me quite a bit that my “Draenei Prime” is languishing in bank alt hell. So!

Within a few days, once things are in order, I’m going to delete Shuanna.

Don’t fret. Think of the quote from “the Ship Song” by Nick Cave up above. “We make a little history, baby, Every time you come around”. There’s history in the making here, see. Right after she’s deleted she will be reborn – same face, same attitude. Probably the same nightmares (it’s hard to blank out memories of genocide).

Meet Shuanna the Priest. Eventually.

I’m going to start anew, a reboot. By the time Warlords of Draenor comes around I’m pretty sure she will be decked in the best gear available to a non-raider. There’s LFR, there’s a lot of things to do for her that she never did as a paladin. There’s titles, reputations, areas she never saw, monsters that never sleeps – and, of course, there’s clothes she never could wear.

As Walt Whitman put it:

“We have circled and circled till we have arrived home again, we two,
We have voided all but freedom and all but our own joy.”

Farewell, Shuanna.

Welcome back!

– – – – –

*: After some feedback from here and there it appears that paladins are hard to kill. So disregard anything I said.

Also, Shuanna is standing behind me with a mace right now.

Update to follow.

Scandal and Regicide

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Kingslayers.

While Zavannah was busy playing seriously injured – just so Fish Fellreed, a girl she’s a bit sweet on, could tend to her wounds – things were amiss in Ironforge … One of the guards close to the Explorer’s League office noted teh comings and goings of a number of high profile draenei, including ato ne point the esteemed death knight, Zavannah. Curious, the guard sauntered over to an alcove not far from the Commons and peeped out the corner. The draeneis simply went up to a wall, one by one, turned around – and then stood there. A while. Then they hearthed out.

“By Thaurissans beard, dem lasses ‘re up to no good I tell ya!” the guard said. He hurried away, found a captain, reported his findings – a secret invasion of “dem blue lasses!”. Teh guard captain chuckled; Ol’ Hickory Stormfether was used to strange things afoot in Ironforge. He dropped a meaty hand on his guards shoulder, chuckled and said:
“Calm down there, soldier. They just makin’ pic’tres!”

It took the Exodar Sisters quite some time to line up. Imagery magic (as Cahanna calls it) was used in abundance. The end result was a rather decent picture of the usual suspects.

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Left to right: Kittyanna, Cahanna, Vassannah, Zavessa, Cassanna, Zavannah.
Sharenne the Warlock managed to photbomb the event …

A few of them decided to decline a “photographic moment”. Or, as Shuanna stated: “Get that [foul eredar word] camera out of my face!”. It was an arranged “photo”, of course. No paparazzi around for miles. In fact – they were stealthed in Stormwind.

Scandal

The new years celebration in Stormwind began slowly. Vassannah had barely mounted her latest mount – a gift from the esteemed paladin Mookíe and the short (but deadly) death knight Napkirály– when the party picked up speed. A few festive mugs later she succumbed to the party girl inside her … lo and behold, there was a table!

She couldn’t resist the tempation. There is, after all, only one way to resist temptation – to fall for it. She tossed back a few more mugs of ale, ran screaming across Trade Quarter Square and did what she does best (besides hurting things).

She danced.

No one paid her much attention at first. Then she was overcome with a slight dizziness, a slight heatstroke (let’s call it that). the scandal wouldn’t have been so bad had not other people joined in … and then there was gnomes running aorund in the shadows, snapping pictures. One of them eventually found it’s way to Velen the Prophet.

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Velen sighed, deeply troubled. Then he issued the infamous Directive 66: Any guard who spots Vassannah teh Priest is hereby ordered to escort her off the Exodar premises, post haste. The Exodar Sisters are truning out to be one of the ancient prohpets most severe headaches. It’s said he was heard muttering to himself as he went back to his emditation chamber:
“Can’t wait for Draenors return, maybe that’ll shape them up, silly sisters.”

As the party came to a reluctant end, Vassannah did what she always do when a bit drunk, a bit ecxited, a bit … hot.

She picked a fight with a king.

Regicide

Wich brings me back to how it all started in the post beforeTime travel tourism. The gallant trio of bold and brave adventurers took wings. they flew off to the north, far far away to the north. The cold weatehr flying of Northrend did Vassannah some good. by the time they touched down at the Argent Tournament Grounds she was almost sober. Something wich was quickly remedied; her festive mug was still not dry. That’s when a dog showed up as well, a brandy keg around its neck. Alas, what a good fortune!

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She just trailed along with the others while making sure the dog brandy wasn’t poisoned. It wasn’t. Eventually she found herself inside an arena – facing terrible foes. Yetis and worms and what not … and finally, an eredar – the dread Jaraxxus. Jaxx had barely managed to show off his terrible powers before he went down.

One raid-notch later in her belt – it’s filled with notches by now, thanks to LFR – the party suddenly found themselves in dire straits. To be more precise – they found themselves in Icecrown Citadel. It wasn’t a planned assault but on their way to Dalaran, earlier in the evening, they had come across an ethereal mage.
“What would you say if I told you there is a ticket available to events past that reshaped the world as we kn–”
“Shut up and take my money!”

(That last line was Vassie, but you probably figured that one out by yourselves.)

Marrowgar went down – but not before he boned her (pun intended!). Other bosses went down as well; Horde gunships, vampires and crazy scientists alike. About an hour later the brave hero’s finaly found the right staircase. Had it not been for the brewdogs brandy they would all have frozen to death. But they prevailed!

Another death knigh joined the trio as well.

The four terrible avengers – tourists in time and history – made quite a show of the ultimate raid of wht some claim was the pinnacle of World of Warcraft. about 2 minutes later Arthas, the Lich King, was dead. Deadish.
“Well, that was fucking epic.”

(Yep, that was Vassie too.)

The Kingslayers went home. The Kingslayers went to bed. In the early morning light as a pale sun rose above Stormwind, Vassannah slept, content, tired, smiling …

This time, she slept without nightmares.

The Battle at Halfhill

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Farmhand Mmmmmmm, admiring the view

I sometimes like to think that there’s a prosperous trade in time travel tourism in Azeroth. There’s no other way to explain how droves of people go back in history and relives important moments. Then they go back, bags full of touristy junk – and purples of course. No doubt there’s a connection between this industry and that of the ethereals. Maybe the ethereals are the ones driving people back into the past as well. Or, you know, maybe it’s a way for the Bronze Dragonflight to earn a living now when their powers are spent. It sort of ties in to what Garrosh is up to come Warlords of Draenor.

The Battle at Halfhill

But first – the perils of farming. as you may know I recently retired Zavannah for good (?). She even took off her armor and went along with the more practical farmers gear. Things looked good there, for a while. Then the wildlife rebelled. She wasn’t alone in the battle of the farm, far from it. Mmmmmmm the Silent, a geist farmhand, did his best to fend off the onslaught of virmen. In the end vicctory was Zavannahs (ands Mmmmmmm’s).

That’s when the virmen regrouped. That’s when they called in air support. That’s when things took a turn for almost the worst. It turns out that a Red Lumberjack Shirt and Blue Overalls isn’t that good an armor in a fight for your (un)life. Things could indeed have ended in a severe farming accident had she not been equipped with her darned good melee weapons. Turning your swords to plowshares isn’t an option in Halfhill. Not with the virmen and their version of Stuka’s – the eagles.

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The Battle at Halfhill

It was a fierce battle. For years to come, Den Den the Bartender and Farmer Yoon will retell it to anyone who wish to listen. Meanwhile, Zavannah will (probably) sit in a shady corner, puff her pipe, drink her ale and snicker … Allthough: It is possible she’ll end up retelling the story herself. She might be done fighting.

She’s never done telling tall tales of her adventures.