The long talk, part 1

There were lots of invitations 

and I know you sent me some,

but I was waiting 

for the miracle, 

for the miracle to come.

— Leonard Cohen, the Miracle

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

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

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

She was.

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

This was her refuge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stranger things have happened in Menethil, mind you.

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

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

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

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

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

This was her paradise.

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

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

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

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

Yours in faith and everlasting friendship – M.”

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The Mindslave

“It was simple once I broke her spirit.”

— Gerard

I’m sorry, Horde.

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

The mindslave.

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

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

You. Are. EVIL.

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

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

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

EVIL.

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

you’re evil.

I won’t have any part of it.

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

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

You. Are. Evil.

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

AWOL from the Horde

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“You disappoint me, Garrosh … “

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

Her jaw dropped. Almost literally.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bai.

/M”

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

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

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

– – – – –

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

I rolled an orc.

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

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

She’s a deserter.

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The great escape

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

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

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

Hell must have frozen over.

The lament of farmhand Geist: Mommy’s home

“I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”
– T.S Eliot

momshome

Master is back! She snuck into the house at dead of night, knowing I would be “asleep” – such as sleep may be for geists like me. I woke from my troubled sleep, for we can never sleep at ease, and there she was. A death gate out of nowhere. Master in the darkness. For a second I thought those swords of hers was going to get run through me. Like so many swords have done before. But Master sheathed her swords. Master sat down. Master stroked my fake hair on my leathery head – I’ve taken a liking to a whig – and said:

“Mommy’s home now, dear. Don’t be afraid no more.”

My twitching pinkie finger settled down. My skin stopped crawling. Well, it doesn’t crawl as such but it feels like it’s crawling. Many parts of me twitch and crawl and slither and … scream. In silence.

You see, these days and weeks and months and years since Master found me have taught me something valuable. It doesn’t matter what you look like as long as you live. Gina, though she pretends to be aghast when I come around if the other Mudclaws are close by, know this. Little Andi, who’s afraid of me but can’t stop giggling when I make fun of Haohans nose, also knows this. The grummle messenger, don’t care what I am – he says I have many lucky-doo’s. To witch my thumbs usually twitch (they belonged to a card-shark from Stormwind, my resteless thumbs are player thumbs). These … living has taught me somethin about ourselves – about myself.

We live.

I.

Live.

Life, if you’ve ever seen a mogu, can come in many forms.

My parts are many. Pamelas pinky. Mortys thumbs. Thessas brain. All of us that once created what I later came to think of as … Me. I doubt anyone – least of all Dr Putricide! – even dreamed of what’s been happening to us … me.

Life. Such as it is. Is the mogu alive, yet the do not draw breath? Is Master alive, yet she has no heartbeat? Am I alive, yet I am many? You know, there’s a joke amongst us Scourge: How many geists does it take to open a door? One legion.

Because we. Are. Many!

You see!? It’s funny, no!? No? Hmmmm … maybe “fun” is something I’m lacking, allthough Andi always giggles when I make fun of Haohans nose.

Master is back! Mommy’s home! I know, she is not my mother, not the mother of any of my parts. But it keeps pinky safe and sound and not twitching when I think of Master as “mother”. My pinky miss her mom, you see. My brain, Thessalias brain, also miss her mother. All parts of me except a tendon between my knees – it’s made of Scholazar rubber – miss their mother.

There’s three stages in geists life that will make or break the creature (as my creator jotted down in some notes in Naxxramas). None of them are important to know, not now. Those terrible days of early funcion is long gone. I keep the memories – that’s why I have trouble sleeping.

Masters soothing touch to my skin. She made fun of me, because my whig had gone askew as I tossed and turned. It’s a nice whig. Long strands of golden hair, spun from yak hair (not real humanoid hair!). Gina, though she pretends to dislike me, made the whig herself.

“A girl like you should have som hair to toss around when the guys comes by”, she said. Then she had to explain why I should toss my hair at them. Then she had to explain I shouldn’t throw my whig at them, just – move, fast, with my head. I tried it out in front of her.

My head fell off.

It’s a good thing she’s got a good friend, a tailor, down from the Silken Fields.

Why did Master come back? As she tucked me in – funny that, but my pinky won’t stop twitching unless Master pulls the blanket snug up under my chin (wich once belonged to an orc) – I asked her. She said:
“I had to quench my thirst. But I’m home now, honey. Go to sleep.”

I only pretended to sleep. For a long time, up until dawn, I peeked out rom under the quilt, watching her. She sat alone by the window, looking out on the dark and sleepy fields. I heard the footsteps of some virmen dashing around among our flowers. I though Master would come down on them, but Master …

You know, I think she cried. Very silent, of course. She kept spinning an amulet between her fingers. One of those things you can open up and it contains a picture of someone. A locket. Later that day, when Master was down at the market getting seeds, I snuck up to the table where the locket was and opened it.

Master spends a lot of time staring at her sisters portrait. In the left hand of that locket. On the right there’s another portrait. I’m not sure who “Menea” is, but Master often whispers to her. How she miss her. How she’s sorry. How she would give anything, anything at all, to touch those lips once more.

I think it’s a distant memory, long gone … back on Masters homeworld. Draenor. Yet … I wonder what Master meant, in the grey early morning light as thunderclouds crept in across the Valley and the downpour started. I wonder what she meant. When Master said:
“Come fall season, we’re going home. Again. Please Light, bring me pain and misery – but let me go back. just once.”

I thought this was our home?

Pinky is twitching now. Pamela is afraid. We are all afraid. I am afraid. What if Master leaves again? What if she leaves – and don’t come back?

Who’s going to tuck me in, this poor lonesome geist who dreams of kissing a long forgotten night elf under the Teldrassil canopy of rustling leaves?

I can’t handle fear that good, you see. I’ll tell you a secret about the Scourge. Listen well.

We’re all afraid.

The burdens of command

Having endured the occasional pain that Looking For Raid, or LFR, can be when stuck with a group without order or knowledge of tactics I had to go for a walk. It appears my poor old Shuanna will never taste the sweetness of victory in bringing down Garrosh Hellscream. Two weeks in a row now groups has disbanded either on Siegecrafter Blackfuse or, wich has been more the case, on the trash after Paragons of the Klaxxi.

So my mind wandered a bit. I wonder what the debriefings sound like? You know, the report whoever was in charge has to make to king Varian Wrynn …

“Come in, marshal. I hope you bring some good news. Light knows we could use some.” Varian sat down, an expectant look on his face. “Well?”
“Ah, my liege,” the grand marshal, a veteran from both Icecrown and Alterac, cleared his throat. He had a nervous tick to his right eye. His left chin also twitched. All in all it made him look quite mad. His nervous laugh didn’t help as he started: “Sir, ah yes … Uhm … ”
“Yes?”
“The twentyfive brave heroes that stormed the gates of Ogrimmar. Ahem.”
“Yes?”
“Well, sir … Our scouts report bit of a … confusion.”
“Confusion? Speak up man!”
“They ran into some trouble, my king.”
Trouble?”
“Yes sir.”
“Explain!”
“Yes sir. Well, as you may well know, our initial contact with the enemy at the port and later at the gates came off rather well, if you allow me to say so, sir. No casualties to speak of.”
“Except lady Jaina Proudmoore, who suffered some terrible fractures when that storming orc wasn’t caught and put down in time!”
“Most unfortunate, sir. I gather she’ll be up and about soon?”
“And lady Windrunner ended up with two broken arms and a shattered pelvis!”
“Yes sir, quite. Allthough our healers did a terrific job, if I may say so.”
“And the broke my nose!”
“It’s mending qquite nice sir.”
“Never mind! What about the assault on those, what was it, Dark Shaman!?”
“Ah, yes sir. Well, sir … Uhm … A few of the troops obeyed the order to sneak past the blind blademasters, sir.”
“And!?”
“Others did not, sir.” The marshal cleared his throat. “It appears all but one managed to sneak past the blademasters, sir. Then an unfortunate incident occured.”
“Go on … ”
“It appears a mage accidentally ‘targeted’ the blademaster. As fierce fighting broke out with a few platoons of orcs in the center of the valley, the blademaster followed the sound. He wreaked quite the havoc, sir. Before being put down by a warlock.”
“A warlock? We employ demonsuckers in our army now, do we!?”
“Yes sir, the destruction warlocks, ad they like to call themselves, appear to be quite good … ‘turrets’. Sir.”
“Turrets?”
“Soldiers slang for standing still and pounding away heavy projectiles of magic, sir.”
“I knew that, marshal! go on!”
“Well, once the ‘trash’ were taken care of – with no significant losses I might add – things went according to operational plans. The strike team made ready. Then, as instructed, they sent a stealthed unit inside the warchiefs palace to make contact with an ally of Vol’Jins rebels.”
“Good! Go on!”
“The strike team lacked rogues, sir. The rogues having been carted off to the healers following the unfortunate assault on the Iron Juggernaut, sir.”
“Oh Light!”
“Yes sir, quite.”
“don’t tell me they used a … ”
“The used a hunter instead, sir.”
“Oh dear mercy, no!”
“The hunter in question did a magnificent job, sir. Just one small, very minor, detail.”
“Yes..?”
“It appears the hunter hadn’t trained her pet in the appropriate ways of handling such a situation, sir. It … growled.”
“It growled?”
“Yes sir. From what I gather the four hunters in the group had been informed in the strictest way possible to keep their pets from growling. I believe the sergeants exact words were ‘Turn your fucking growl off, huntards! And change apsects too!’.”
“Segeants do have a … way with words.” Varian sighed. “Go on, if you please.”
“The growlin pet must have attracted the attention of the three Dark Shamans, hiding in the shadows, sir. They … came upon the strike team with a vengeance.”
“Casulaties?”
“Severe, sir. Close to hundred percent.” The marshal swallowed, hard. “We had battle healers standing by. All in all the strike team came back in more or less good order. The operation as such was not delayed more than, most, an hour. Then … ”
“I dread this, marshal. I truly do!”
“One of the point-men, the ‘tank’ as they call them, had suffered serious injuries. She was taken out of service and replaced with a paladin, sir.”
“Who?”
“the one among the troops known as ‘Scrub’, sir.”
“Oh no … Tell me, please, that’s not his nickname!”
“Yes sir.” The grand marshal twitched. “You inspected his armor yourself, sir.”
“Mighty fine one too! better than the one I’m wearing!” Varian nodded. “He seemed confident and proffesional, you know.”
“Yes sir. Allthough … well. It appears he bought the title, sir.”
“Bought it?”
“Yes sir, as his armor. My forward automated scouts report –”
“That’s those mechanical cats, right?”
“Yes sir. Ingenious, if I may say so, sir. Anyway – they report he was given advice by a shadowy priest in how to wield his sword. Sir. He appears to have held it by the wrong end at first.”
“Are you trying to make me mad, marshal!?”
“No sir, far from it. I’m happy to say the team of death knights behaved like proffessionals, sir.”
“Well jolly good then, eh?”
“Yes sir. More or less.”
“Go on …”
“Some of them appeared to have had some trouble with their blood pressure. Presence, sorry. they became quite threatening. The enemy didn’t care much about hitting the tanks and went hunting for the other threat instead. Heavy losses were incurred, sir.”
“Is it over?”
“Not quite, sir.”
“Sweet Light … Enough!”
“Yes sir.”
“How is it possible that the Alliance’s finest … never mind. I’veh ad reports that an poorly geared strike team of horde rebels managed just fine, marshal. They cut through every single line of defense and are now laying siege to Garrosh final holdout. Tell me, marshal … How is that possible?”
“That’s easy, sir.”
“How? Tell me, please … ”
“Vol’Jin will cut off their heads if they fail, sir.”
“You think it’s possible I could do that to our troops?”
“No sir. You’re a, as teh grunts put it, a ‘good guy’. Sir.”
“I had a brilliant career as a gladiator once …”
“Yes sir. Shall I order a new attack sir? We still have twentyfive heroes in queue.”
“Send the word, marshal.”
“Yes sir.”
“Oh, and marshal?”

“Yes sir?”
“This time you take point … “

The Dark Paladin (transmog)

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The Dark Knight – or more to the point, the Dark Paladin – was an idea that sprang up inside my head after the latest update to Shuannas backstory.

She’s not exactly your typical paladin. Well, maybe she is – but anyway, I felt all gold and glitter wasn’t her. Someone who’s about to go on a genocidal killing spree of untainted orcs, once Warlords of Draenor goes live, isn’t exactly the kind of role model the young paladin trainees need.

She’s growing dark, you know. I thought it fitting to give her a new armor.

Head: Helmet of the Steadfast Champion (JP vendor, Shattrath)

Chest: Thick Obsidian Breastplate (Blacksmithing)

Legs: Sentinel’s Plate Legguards (HP vendor, Ashenvale)

Belt: Chromite Girdle (World drop)

Gloves: Masterwork Spiritguard Gauntlets (Blacksmithing)

Shoulders: Revenant Shoulders (World drop)

Weapon: Blackfury (Blacksmithing)

The headpiece wasn’t much of a trouble to find, neither was the legs. Since I don’t usually PvP – at least not on Shuanna – I was a bit suprised to find I had just about enough honor points for the legs.

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The chestpiece was by far the most complicated piece of gear. Farming the mats – 18 Large Obsidian Shards and 40 Small Obsidian Shards – required a number of visits to Ahn Qiraj on several characters with mining. I don’t think those obsidian statues like me much anymore …

The weapon was not as complicated, only it did take some extra effort. Since I’m a compulsive hoarder of “junk” I got lucky; I had all the dark iron needed and then some. The only drawback, of course, is that dark iron ore can only be smelted in Blackrock Depths – and 1 bar requires 8 ore. The weapon took 12 bars in total, plus some other mats (arcanite). It can only be made at the black anvil, also in BrD. My memory might be good – it’s also very short. So once I stood there by the black anvil I realised I had forgotten half the mats … wich meant another 5 minute trip.

But in the end I was rather pleased with how the dark paladin turned out. One can’t go around in Judgement all the time.

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Wrong gauntlets, but I made a ton of Horde

angry just standing there

so I’m letting it slide.

The road of retribution

“The rank stench of those bodies haunts me still
And I remember things I’d best forget.”
— Siegfried Sassoon

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A wise man once asked: Why do we fight? Someone answered – because it is our nature. Others answered – because we must! Yet some other said – because we like it! A single, tiny voice said, in all the clamor from shrieks of Courage and yells of Honor:

Because we are fools.

On damp nights as wailing sha keeps people awake within the safety of the Shrines gilded halls, Shuanna toss in her bed. Sometimes – if she’s been lucky – someone puts a calming arm around her sweaty naked waist and their lips meet, yet again. It’s as of old, in Dalaran. Few people knew she often ventured far out on the parapet, on the very edge of the floating city … and looked down. A single step forward would end it.

“Did I bother you?” Mareka said.
“Nope,” Shuanna said.
“I like to look at the clouds from here. You?”
“I’m trying not to jump.”
“So am I, friend. Loktar.”
“You thirsty?”
“Need to ask?”

Funny that. Marekas laughter. So crystal clear. For an orc. Those desperate nights as the abyss called, called both of them. Raace didn’t matter. Survival did. In a way they were all sisters of war, a band of brothers. Factions are just politics – a hug, a kiss. Sex. That’s life – and life is rarely about politics. Oh, she used to be a zealot; never talk to anyone but a fellow draenei. But spend some time in a foxhole with a tauren and an orc while the undead swarm the outpost …

You’ll change your mind then, friend.

Man, woman. Night elf, human, dwarf, gnome, draenei. Orc, tauren, troll, blood elf, goblin. It didn’t matter. She slept with anyone who felt the same as she. A never ending scream inside, the horrors they’d seen barely contained.

“Be gentle,” Elisabeth said, hugging the sheet close to her body, staring with grey cataract eyes on the bobbing under the sheet, down there. “I might break.”
“Oh shut it, you’re not a ghoul,” Shuanna said and giggled, her tongue finding its way.
“No … I. Am. Forsaken.” A gasp. “Dark lady save me! I didn’t know I could – feel!”

They all shared the same thing. On those long nights. They were all struggling to find peace. Dalaran – where politics didn’t matter unless you were a newbie. The veterans from the frontline assaults knew how even the smallest thing in life could be as precious as a mythic weapon. A smile. A wink. A gentle touch to stop the flow of tears when yet another list of casulties went up on the callboards.

She saw humans hug blood elves to stop the wailing screams. She saw orcs shake dwarves and burst into a joyful dance when someone’s name wasn’t on the list. She saw Forsaken break, tauren cry, night elves scream. She saw shuddering gnomes and dranei blinking, blinking, do not cry.

But they all did. Eventually we all cry.

They sought each others warmth back then. Their souls quenched, their bodies scarred, their lost friends … Better not think about what happened to them. They all shared the same thing, Horde or Alliance didn’t matter. Crusader or mercenary didn’t matter. They sought the peace, a thin membrane of sanity over their rage, their despair, their fear. Their life was fueled by Legerdemains drinks, by sex on silk sheets as the cool Northrend winds made the candles flicker, falter …. go out as she screamed. As they screamed.

“Light, lass! Do all yer draenei go on like this!? Lemme catch me second wind!”
“You sure you’re a warrior, Flint?”
“I show ye what stamina o’ Ironforge can do! Get on yer fours!”
“Grab my handlebars and go, tiny.”

She still can’t remember if it was an orgasm or horror that made her scream. On all those nights. And days. And mornings. Different people, different rooms. Eventually she got a “reputation”. But most of the people fresh from the front had such a reputation. The fighting in the streets with tenderfeet and moral zealots was almost as intense as the … but no matter. It all came down to this: How to Forget What Your Eyes Have Seen.

They all had the same eyes. Ten thousand yards of darkness in eyes wide shut.

She think most heroes live like that. Especially after Icecrown. Some went to Goldshire. Others went to Dalaran. A few ended up swinging from a rope they bought themselves, slipknot of their own fashion around a wooden beam in some long forgotten attic. She remembers the muffled voices around some dinner table, time and time again. Words through munching luncheons in a white tent filled with cold and hungry men as the never ending screams of ghouls echoed across the frozen plains. The Lich King had fallen – but the war was far from over. They thought of themselves as the Silent Vigil. The one’s who was left behind to keep the Scourge at bay.

“I hear sir Godfrey offed himself last night.” Her old voice …
“Good riddance! The Crusade does not need cowards!” His young voice …
“You’ve been here how long, Mareed?”
“Three days, ma’am. Proud to serve the Argent Crusade! Proud to serve with a kin-race like you, ma’am!”
“Uh-huh.” Her wry smile, eyes on the table, her muttered words and the barely contained snickers from other draenei, old in the game like her, and humans, tauren – all the living races. Ewerard the Librarian, though a Forsaken, also snickered (she remember that):
“Give it ten more days and then buy a fucking rope.”

A lot of people she met during those terrible, terrible days became upset. Some – especially fervent believers in the Light straight out of Shattrath – admonished her. Speaking such to Crusaders was not befitting the Light, they said. Well – she usually tells you, should you ask, what happened. Don’t mind the smirk or downcast eyes. It’s to hide her own fear, you see.

She cut many down. There’s a limit to the cruelty a mind can bear. Brave heroes, some still sporting their obsolete armors; khorium, enchanted adamantite, basic saronite and cobalt – “grunt wear”, they called it. There’s a lesson to be learned the hard way. It is this: The aftermath of battle is more than repairing your armor and sword. Repairing our mind, well …

What price is high enough? What sum could possibly be enough to erase the images from your mind? The young soldier, lost from his platoon, dragged away screaming as ghouls ripped him to shreds. The melting faces of the brave point-squads going into the dread citadel to be met with a barrage of foul and ancient magics. The haggard veterans from the Wrathgate, Valley of Echoes, Malykriss, Death’s Step.

Their eyes spoke another story than what their reports said.

Later on she mostly remembered the nightmares. She snuffed them out with drinks and sex and bouts of fearsome violence. She lived hard. Maraad saved her. Or so she thought.

“I … Am. HATE. You KNOW this, Maraad! I’m breaking! I’m turning dark, just like Vass. You fucking know it so don’t you fucking go all holy on me you little coward. Where were you when we needed you the most, huh!?”
“I was right there.”
“Bullshit! I never saw you!”
“Neither did the Scourge.”
“Then what AM I!?”
“What do you want to be, vindicator?”
“I want to know why I fight!”
“You fight because we are Light. We are justice.”

She went to the Aldor. She tried her best. Attonement, fervor, tried being, well … A Good Girl. She hung her mace upon the wall and never looked back. Or so she thought. Ther are turning points in a persons life. There’s been many of those in her life.

Chasing butterflies on the fields of Karabor (that’s a good one; she ended up covered in mud as she stumbled into a pit and didn’t dare to go home for hours. Eventually an old orc found her, huddled under a tree. He brought her back to Karabor and safety. She sometimes wonder what became of him). Or the final vigil of Shattrath (that’s a bad one, don’t ask). Many more – like the first time she saw a night elf. Or the first time she saw a human. Or …

The road.

She went to Shattrath by portal. She studied there, mended herself. She re-booted (as a gnome she once knew would have said). She cant stand portals, honestly. Everytime she has to use one she end up sprawled on the floor with her head spinning, puking. So she made her way on horseback towards the dread wastes of Hellfire. It was an uneventful trip. She came up across a hill and there it was.

The road.

Funny that. Back in the days she didn’t care much about the history of that road. She knew it of course. She helped redeem the remains. But she didn’t care. It was just a job, something that needed to be done. Only this time … History will crash on you when you least expect. It doesn’t take much sometimes. All it took for her was …

The road.

“Killing is not enough,” she said. For a moment she wondered if she was going crazy; talking to herself.
“Make them suffer then,” a voice spoke to her. “Make them bleed. Make them scream.”

There was no one there. Just her.

Sooner or later you pass through the light, go right through it, wander in darkness and find you way back – back to the other side of the light. There’s only one thing left to do then. A single word. Yet … It’s fraught with such power. It’s the devastation of your soul. It’s when you know there is no return. Maraad was wrong.

There is no Light.

There is no justice.

There is only the way of retribution.

Paladin, Reborn

“Weave in, weave in, my hardy life,
Weave yet a soldier strong and full for great campaigns to come,”
– Walt Whitman, Weave in, My Hardy Life

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Where’s the Doctor when I need him? I’m having alternate character troubles. It’s like Kairoz of Timeless Isle misplaced a batch of stones and somehow ended up creating a duplicate timeline with some small but important differences. Or, quite possibly, this is a cruel game played by Malganis on a few of Azeroths unsuspecting citizens. It couldn’t possibly be that I forgot my own lore, now, could it?

We-eee-eelll…

Nope! Nope! Nope!

Some time ago I decided to bench Shuanna the Paladin for good. I was almost going to delete her but she avoided such a horrible fate with a bit of intrepid interferance from commenters (and editors) of Wow Insider. Instead she was turned into a Shuannah the priestI even updated her backstory to reflect this change of career. The priestly business – that is, leveling a “new” priest from 1-90 and eventually gearing said priest – was pretty much a run-of-the-mill experience. I have some routine when it comes to leveling, especially priests. There’s three of them (as of this moment at least). The jump from your basic TI iLvl 496 gear to something in the 500’s was fast thanks to LFR. Then … Shuanna’s story started to ebb. My big plan took a suprising new direction!

The Big Plan

Horridon

Things looked really good while leveling. I dare say I broke my latest leveling record and got to 90 in something like 3 days. DoT, DoT, DoT – mindflay away. Once I had the necessary tools for LFR adventures Horridon … well, that horrid Horridon did knock me out cold but hey! I got loot. My big plan went forward in a stable and reliable pace: Turning my retired paladin into a priest, making said priest my new main. I even started the long and arduous task of rep farming. Not to mention filling up Void Storage with nice clothes.

I think the first hurdle to my big plan was the legendary questline. Once I hit the requirement for 3000 VP’s the light in the tunnel flickered, failed … and died. I just couldn’t get myself to do it, not again. I’m on the Secrets of the Empire part on my main priest – Vassannah and then there’s my warlock … trying to juggle a third character through the intricacies of the cloak questline turned into a sour lump of “mandatoriness”. I’m not particularly fond of mandatories, you know.

Upon analyzing the “problem” I came to the conclusion that I had simply played shadow priest for too long. I needed a change. So, after dabbling with a druid (wich failed) and another monk (wich also failed) I thought … Why not a paladin?

Why not indeed!

Thus Celessa was born. The youngest family member (and character no. 11; wich means no more new alts until EU-Saurfang gets connected).

Paladin Beta

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I have to admit, a character brimming with looms make life a lot easier. Especially i it’s a class you haven’t touched for a very, very long time. Celessa dashed forth like a conquering hero. From Azuremyst to (as of this writing) somewhere in Pandaria. After some careful study of Icy Veins I even managed to get the rotation right. So – off she went, happily traipsing across countless bodies of murlocs and nagas and cultists and all the other deadly stuff in Azeroth. She even taught Ragnaros a lesson (after, I might add, he nearly killed her). Bad Rag! Shame on you – so, there. She stole his armor too (but alas not his hammer).

So one day, around level 86, while riding around Dread Wastes looking for ghost iron nodes and staying away from red mobs a thought occurred to me. ‘I allready have a paladin … a paladin alpha’. I wasn’t particularly serious about that thought. After all, Shuanna had been benched. She was doing good as a banker. Besides, it would mean a retcon of her backstory … and I didn’t have any decent gear for a 90

(Timeless, bank’s full of timeless)

level paladin who I hadn’t played since

(you KNOW how to paladin, look at you!”)

some unf… orseen … oh.

Oh.

Oooh!

The concundrum

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So here’s the conundrum. On one hand we have the PTSD-paladin Shuanna, rather comfortable in her role as a banker but with that rigtheous itch inside. On the other hand we have the carbon copy appearance Shuannah, who hung her mace above the mantlepiece and joined the priesthood. As for the story – those two are the same draenei.

But as for “main character”, I just can’t help but think that it would be more fitting to continue the adventures with the oldest character in my family, namely Shuanna. She’s the one I started with. She’s the one who leveled through Felwood in the early days of Wrath of the Lich King. She’s the one killing spiders in a statwise mismatched outfit because transmog did not exist.

skimpy

Oh, she died a lot to those spiders … and later on she was the one to explore Icecrown on horseback (because she was too poor for a flyer). Yeah, she died a lot as an explorer … She’s the one I, without sounding too melodramatic, fell in love with. It’s a pity she’s a banker.

Or used to be.

The Training Facility of Molten Core

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Her bank was full of TI tokens. It still is. Right now there’s a complete cloth set, a complete mail set and a complete plate set. There used to be two complete plate sets. Not anymore. You see, one of those plate sets are currently equipped by the paladin who wouldn’t rest. You saw that campfire image up top? That’s from Timeless Isle. That murderous place turned out to be not so bad at all, once she got there. You know why?

Celessa, paladin beta. I copied the rotation, I even copied the talents. Celessa was a trial run for something that was just as inevitable as destiny itself. Once I understood this I did what I always do in preparation for more dangerous tasks: I visisted Ol’ Rag.

Molten Core is a perfect place to get those skills down to muscle memory. Almost nothing can kill you (except Ragnaros knockback and, if you’re unlucky, Baron Geddons living bomb – both abilities do tons of fall damage). So off she went, partly because of the transmog items. It turned out to be a rather enjoyable training run. Fingers dancing across the keyboard like those of a concert pianist virtuoso. Elementals and Bad Bosses dying in droves. Those hounds were always as annoying but they did eventually obey their master. All of this thanks to the paladin beta, Celessa.

Ragnaros was pissed, of course. It actually got a bit dangerous. I should have anticipated the knockback but I was still a bit rusty. So Shuanna became airborne – just as Celessa during her MC run – and the fall damage was … bad. Like, really bad. It shaved off about 85-90% of my hitpoints.

It was a good thing I had Word of glory keybound.

Celessa, who will become 90 any day now, became the catalyst for what I now believe is the closure of a full circle. What remains to be done from a narrative point of view is how to come to terms with two of the same. God is in the machine, of course. And hey! If Blizzard can bring back old and forgotten warlords – maybe I can introduce an unknown twin. It’s not good writing, I know, but the Exodar Sisters isn’t a pulitzer price novel. It’s a hobby, it’s for fun.

Besides. What kind of writer would I be if I didn’t listen to my muse?

I circled around and around for a long, long time. Yet – there she was. All the time. Patiently dealing in iron bars and rugged leather, in combat pets and enchanting dusts. There she was.

Welcome back, Shuanna. Give ’em Hell!

Lament of farmhand Geist

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Master is away. She left in the dead of night. AS I awoke from a troubled sleep – such as “sleep” might be for us – I found a note pinned to the doll she bought for my pinkie when it was having the twitching sads. I can never quite get used to my various bodyparts residual memories, you know … especially when they are sad memories. I hear them, screaming, in my head. But all they can do is twitch. Twitch, twitch little pinkie. You were once called … what was it? Ah …

Little Pamela.

Pinkie stopped twithcing when it felt the velvet skin of the doll. Stuffed with the stuff that is coarse – some kind of wood shavings me thinks. It smells of Grizzly Hills. You know, when I was stationed at Voltarus – not long before master became master – I always cherished those moments when we was ordered to the walls, the ones looking down on Grizzly Hills. I think my nose might once have belonged to a lumberjack. As I pulled in the scent of pine – the nose twitched. Just like pinkie.

Oh … I hear their screams inside. At night. Thumbs are scared of the dark, you see. So they twitch, Eye miss the sunsets of Westfall. So it twitch. Lips, well … Lower lip miss her lover. Upper lip regrets he never got to kiss the one he wanted to kiss. I sometimes wonder if they would have kissed what I once kissed … what I might be. If it is true, the thing some philosophers claim, that the soul residesin our brain, then my soul is called Thessalia.

How she longed to kiss those lips that often spoke to her. But then We came. The terrors … Stuffed with the stuff that is coarse. Why am I thinking about this now? We should be out in the fields allready. I see birds of prey stealing flowers.

Oh, flowers! You know, it never occured to me until Nose twitched that flowers smell rather nice. I guess I’m used to the putrid smells of Naxxramas, of Malykriss. Even of the tower itself. HE smelled … not of flowers. But of death. Wich, in a way, I guess is as it should be. My guts trembled as he gazed down upon me. Quite possibly because they once belonged to an initiate that was deemed unworthy.

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“We are legion.”

Mind. All the parts of me have a mind of their own. They can’t express it clearly of course. I do have a brain but it’s not really connected to anything. I guess Creator just thought a hollow skull would be unfitting. So I got Thessalias brain, still intact. The ghouls that brought her down not far from the Wrathgate feasted on other parts. Oh, I don’t like that, you know. Unecessary torment is what it is. My mind can still hear her shrieks. Once you’re past a certain stage of pain and horror your voice goes up, ever up. Until the scream becomes a shriek. And then it stutters, sputters, wheeze … as she screamed her throat into oblivion.

It’s terrible to remember. If my brain could twitch – but all it does is remember. When it remembers … well. For some reason there’s this strange fluid running from my eye. Every time I remember what one of us is twitching about. I can’t explain it properly: My mind is filled with other peoples memories, accumulated over time, packed under a coat of blackness. Of coldness. The cold membrane of My Memories. The sum total of all my parts and what my eye have seen.

The pines of Grizzly Hills, morning mists rising from the woodlands. The thunderclouds of Storm Peaks, drifting down in a slow dance across Zul’Drak sky. The windswept tundra, the cliffs of Howling Fjord. The dread tower, looming under a murdered sky of death. I sometimes climbed the parapet of Angrathar and just sat there, watching the magnificent flying city in the distance … dreaming that I one day would walk the streets of Dalaran. But I knew it would be futile to even hope for something like that. This is the kingdom of the Scourge, only teh dead may enter – such was the message we was constantly bombarded with. But I dreamed, nevertheless.

Then master came into my life. She took me to new places. She took me to Dalaran! Oh how I twitched! Jumped! Skedaddled! My feet hardly touching the ground. My mind dumbstruck: Why did they allow me there!? Was I not an abomination? But master has a sister (I had a sister once, the real me, the chest of me, we lived in Lordareon, her name was Julie, I liked her smile and cookies). Masters sister is … exalted. They call it. I often thought it meant that people would be jubilant whenever she walked the streets. But as she walked by my master side all people do was nod at her – and smile.

ZavaBeingVeryDKish

Master is gone now. She left a note. My eye (who – and this is a beam of delight in a dreary world – never could read until it met my brain) read the words over and over again. At first we couldn’t make any sense of it. But then it dawned on us; on Pamela, on Jack the Nose, on Tweezle Thumbs (he used to be a goblin before he was “repurposed”). On … but my name doesn’t matter. WE read. Ian the Eye, who often wished when he was alive that could read but never got the chance.

‘Dear Geist,’ the master said in letters black on parchment grey. ‘I must leave you know. I will return, you know I always do. There’s a battle that never ends inside me. I must sate the flames that burn – with blood. I miss you allready, your laugh, your funny ways. I won’t forget you, nor will I forget how you love to feed Dog. Be a good b… girl now, you hear? I’m coming home – but not quite yet.

PS: Tell that fucking Mudclaw I’ll ram a pitchfork so far up his ass his eyes will swivel like those of an old god, stupid fuck.’

Master is away. There’s orcs to kill. But here, there’s carrots to grow. But when the chores are done I’ll be on the roof, squatting down, closing my eye …

and smile as Thessalia laughs in the wind.