Speedy’s Corner, part 5

(You will find part 4 here.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Speedy’s corner, part 4

(You will find Part 3 here.)

Garrosh was coloring outside the lines as Naz stepped into the principal, mr Trias, office. The eight year old kid, Naz son, was too busy to care about the rest of the world. All he did was give Naz a quick look before grabbing a red pen and continue his work, tongue firmly placed in the corner of his mouth.

Mr Trias was more than aware of his surroundings. Naz didn’t even have time to open his mouth before Trias stood up from behind his desk and extended his hand. The office – walls covered with posters and diplomas, bookshelves and filing cabinets – smelled of ink and noodles.

“Mister Nigthwind!” Trias smiled, a big, teethy smile that turned his pandaren face into a ball of joy. “How nice to see you! Please, come! Sit!”
“Mr Trias,” Naz said. The sense of dread abated. Whatever was up it sure wasn’t something tragic. Anything from ‘your son is dead’ to ‘your son brought a gun to school’ had went through Naz head on his way over. Seeing Garrosh busy with something as peaceful as a coloring book was a big relief. Wich left the big question: “What’s this all about!?”

Trias smile brightened. He sat down, adjusting his velvet three-piece courdoroy suit and black tie, leaned forward and made a pyramid of his hands. Then:
“Oh it’s nothing bad, I asure you. We were just concerned this morning.”
“About what?” Naz sat down.
“Young mr Garrosh there had a … kerfuffle.”
“A fight?”
“Not as much a fight, more of a … kerfuffle.”
“So..?”
“All’s well and good, I assure you. No injuries save some hurt feelings.”

Naz looked over his shoulder at his son and frowned. White t-shirt, one of those “Sha of Happiness” ones, big kids show and all. Jeans and sneakers. An ordinary orc kid, maybe a bit more pale than others but his mother was a nightelf.
“Ok so lemme get this straight,” Naz said and turned to Trias. “You called me to a personal meeting, scaring the shit out of me, because of … what? Ruffled feathers? Who was he fighting with? Why?”

“Billy,” Garrosh said without looking up. “call’ me a boogie he did. So’s I said ‘nah you the boogie’, n’ he said ‘no you!’ n’ me ‘no you!’ n’ he said ‘nuh-uh like you the biggest boogie ever!’ n’ I clipped him.” Garrosh looked up, momentarily. “Tried hittin’ ‘im on the nose but he moved.”
Naz managed not to laugh out loud – but just barely.
“As you well may know, mr Nightwwind,” Trias said and leaned back with a somewhat complacent expression, “we have a zero tolerance rule for any kind of violent behaviour, be it a kerfuffle or not. Now, the altercation isn’t serious but … we need your signature. For sensitivity training, that sort of thing. Wich is why we called you here.”
“you gotta be shitting me!” Naz bit his lip. He took a deep breath and calmed down. “Sorry, what I mean is … You scared the sh– you scared me. I thought it was something, like, real serious.”
“Ah, well, yes, uh … Maybe we could have communicated in a less … But anyway, we deemed the situation important enough for … Well. Now that you’re here, sorry about the possible misconceptions we … uh … Now then! All we need is your signature on this document and miss Kalethas will show young mr Garrosh to mrs Draka. She’s our sensitivity trainer, you see. Wonderful woman, she is too!”

Mr Trias pushed a vanilla-colored piece of paper across his desk and very gently placed a gilded pen on it, giving Naz an expectant look. Naz didn’t move at first, then he leaned forward, spun the paper around and read it through. It was a short contract, typical boilerplate. nothing unusual. As he grabbed the pen and jotted down his name he couldn’t help himself – he snickered. He pushed the document back and said:
“I thought you were going to offer him up to military school or something!”

Mr Trias laughed, a deep, rumbling heartfelt laughter. Slapping his belly he goth is laughter under control, stood up and extended a hand across the desk.
“Nothing that dramatic, I assure you!” he said.
“Yeah, well,” Naz stood up and shook Trias hand. “you scared the light out of me you did.”
“I’m sorry, things been a bit hectic. Frazzled nerves and all, miss Kaelthas is a wonderful assistant but prone to … drama.”
Naz nodded in reply. He took a deep breath and showed his hands deep into his pockets as he turned to his son.
“Garry?”
“Uh-huh?” Garrosh looked up from his coloring book; there should have been a smiling unicorn on the page but instead the page was a dull red save the black symbol in the middle – the ancient Horde symbol.
“Son, you know those things … ” Naz sighed. “you know that’s a bad thing to draw, don’t you?”
“Ok dad,” Garrosh said. “Jus’ foolin’.”
“You know we’ve talked about it, yes? About its history?”
“Uh-huh.”
“And ..?”
“Sorry.”

Mr Trias cleared his throat and said:
“Right then, well … Let’s not speak of it. I’m sure young mr Garrosh will see his erring ways under the tender supervision of mrs Draka.”
“Son?” Naz said, turning to Garrosh.
“Uh-huh?” Garrosh slid off the brown sofa and snuck up to Naz, hugging his leg, smiling.
“Never mind,” Naz said, hunched down and hugged his son. “not easy being an orc, you know.”
“We’re going home now?”
“Nah, you stay in school ab it more. I’ll get you in a couple of hours. Gonna get your shots today, big boy.”
“I don’ wanna,” Garrosh sighed, let go of Naz leg and jumped from one foot to the other. “Please?”
“Icecream afterwards,” Naz said. “Tigs. And I’m pretty sure Speedy will have a chocolate bar with your name on it at the store.”
“Okay … ” Garrosh sighed. “Yeah cool I guess.”

Naz nodded, ruffled Garrosh hair and stood up. He turned to mr Trias, who just looked up from an intercom on the desk. They shook hands and said their goodbyes. Naz left the school and walked down towards the Redridge bridge looking for a cab. He spotted one, on teh far side of the road. Gauging the flow of traffic, he dashed out into the street, eyes fixed on the cab.

He didn’t see the bus.

Speedy’s Corner, part 3

(You will find part 2 here.)

The bikers passed by in dust and thunder. Battered and worn choppers with ”PWN!” registrations and bumber stickers, glow-engine tricycles with or without sidecars. Some wore flags, fluttering in the winds, others had adorned their vehicles with bones, horns – and skulls. The bikers drove too fast to get a good look at them but Naz caught long white hair, flowing in the wind, and black leather studded with spikes and bolts.

He moved up to the door, followed the flow of bikers with his eyes as they passed by. As the last one rumbled by he caught a quick glimpse of a dirty black woolen west on top of a crudely fashioned leather jacket adorned with a pale white face cut in half by a stylized shadow and the text LORDAERON MC in a semicircle above the logo.

The bikers rumbled out of sight. Then the stret grew quiet, but not for long. Soon, half a dozen squad cars passed by; blue and gold and white, flashing lights but no sirens. They followed the bikers down the street but kept their distance. All up and down the street people had stopped with whatever they were doing, watching the strange parade.

”Sweet Elune and Exodar crystals,” Speedy said behind Naz back and whistled. ”Ain’t seen forsaken like that in a long time!”
”Yeah,” Naz said and turned around. ”Wasn’t Azora supposed to be a sleepy little suburb?” He chuckled, nervously. Then he walked inside, and slumped down on a chair. ”guys, this is getting pretty f… This is scary, allright!?” He nodded, studying his hands. They were shaking. ”She knew my name … ”
”Wonder’s ‘f dem ghostriders got summ’un ta do witdda babe,” Benny said. His troll accent grew thicker; a lifetime living as a human among the Darkspear of Echo City had certainly rubbed off. ”Ya see ‘er ass din’tcha?” He chuckled. ”Hooo-eee ‘ missus ‘ad on’a doose!”
”Your too old for things like that,” Speedy said. He couldn’t help it, he chuckled. Then he burst out laughing, nodding eagerly. ”But yeah! Damn she was fine!”
”Oh please,” Naz grunted. ”Don’t mind me. Don’t mind a bloody death knight knew my name! Don’t mind a bloody posse of undead bikers going past! Next we know bloody Deathwing’ll walk right through the door or something!”
”Yep, ‘s the curse allright,” old Thrall said. He winked at Naz, chuckling an old mans chuckle. ”Hope dem’s cultist altar is comfy, young man. You on deir list you are!”

Naz grinned. Suddenly all his hasty scared paranoid fantasies seemed silly. He told himself it was nothing but a freak coincidence. He poured himself a Durotar cactuswine and tossed it back.
”Shit, not even ten a.m and I’m drinking,” he said.
”Drinkin’ on the job too!” Speedy laughed. ”Put that bottle away or we’ll be pissed by noon.”

At that very moment the phone rang. The first shrill bell-whistle signal made them all jump. At the second signal, Naz leaned across the counter and picked up the receiver, cutting the signal halfway short.
”Speedy’s Corner, how can I help you?”
”This is miss Kaelthas,” a rather sharp female bloodelf voice said. ”Is a … mr Nightwind there?”
”I’m him,” Naz said. ”Uh, speaking … Uh … Yeah, mr Nigthwind here?” He looked around at the others, thinking ‘this is it! An editor! Agent!’.
”Fine,” she said. ”I’m junior principal secretary at Anduin Wrynn Memorial, are you the father of Garrosh Nightwind? Class One E?”

Naz shifted weight in the seat, plucking the phone from one ear to the other. He nodded. Then he twitched.
”Yahuh,” he said. ”Uh, I mean – yes. Yes I am. Is there trouble?”
”The principal, mr Trias, would like to have a word with you about your son. As soon as possible please.”
”Has something happened!?” Naz straightened up, arms trembling. They always trembled when he got upset or nervous.
”Like I said, mr Trias would like a word with you.”
”You can tell me straight can’t you? What’s happened!?”
”I think it’s better if you talked to mr Trias, sir.”
”Don’t bullshit me! What’s happened!?”
”As soon as possible, sir. Good day.”

There was a click. The line went dead. Naz stared at the phone for a few minutes, then slowly replaced the receiver, not exactly sure about anything anymore. This as one freaky day allright. He looked at Speedy and the others, stood up and said:

”’twas the kids school. I … The principal wants a talk.”
”About what?” Speedy said, looking worried.
”She didn’t say.” Naz looked around, feeling perplexed. Then he dug out his arcpad from the front pocket, flipped it open and hit the speed dial. All he got was a pre-recorded message –”Hi, you’ve reached Thissa-Lee Nightwind, I can’t take your call right now but leave a message and I’ll get back soon!”.

”I need to go,” Naz said, stufing the arcpad back into his pocket. ”Guys, I … ”
”Go allready!” Speedy said, giving Naz ‘get out of here’-gesture with his hands. ”Ain’t nothing happenin’ here anyway!”

Naz nodded, hurried out on the street and hailed a cab. The street had returned to normal now. People going in and out of stores and houses. Cars driving by. Nothing unusual, nothing at all. Twenty minutes later Naz hurried up the steps to the dull, grey stone building not far from the Redrige Bridge and made his way to the principals office. Every time he came here, to the school, be it for meetings or whatever, he never quite could shake the feeling that the building resembled a prison, not a school. The windows were narrow, the doors reinforced with iron and steel. The only thing missing was bars on the windows. The interior smelled of floor polish and sweaty sneakers. Classes were in session so the corridors were empty. Only the faint sounds from behind closed doors whispered through the well lit hallways.

The anteroom to the principals office was just as dismal as the rest of the school. File cabinets, desks, the reception counter – everything looked old and worn. As he stood there, not sure who to speak to, he regretted his own stubborness. Thiss had tried to convince him to enroll the kids in a private school but he had talked her out of it. The pale, slim bloodelf with her explosively red hair and pitchblack dress looked displaced in the worn-down surroundings.

She looked up at him from behind her desk. She did her best not to smirk and managed a short smile but it was clear to Naz she had formed an oppinion in an instant. Poor green trash, her face said. Bad dad, her face said. Bad apples – all that jazz.

”Mr Nightwind?” she said.
”Uh,” Naz said, cleared his throat and nodded. ”Yes. I … I’m supposed to meet with mr Trias?”
”A moment, please.” She hit a buzzer. A door at the far side of the room opened. ”Mr Trias is expecting you, sir.”
”What’s all this about?” Naz said, hesitating halfway through a step.
”Mr Trias is waiting, sir.” She smiled, not a very friendly smile. ”You don’t want to keep mr Trias waiting.”
”Guess not,” Naz said.

He stepped into the principals office with an ever increasing sense of dread.

A sudden nomination – the Liebster Award

liebsteraward

As I was happily making my way through the strange land of narrative I glanced at my email and saw that someone had left a comment. I was curious, of course – could it actually be a Real Reader (and not a ‘single russian beauty looking for marriage’)?

Hotdiggedidam it was! This means two things. 1: Someone actually know that I exist. 2: Someone even liked what I’ve been up to. So, thanks to a gnome spy I was nominated for the Liebster Award. A big thank you to Diary of a Gnome Spy for nominating me! I must confess, I wasn’t exactly sure what the Liebster Award was. As i turned out it came with a set of rules (below). I’ll do my best to obey them.

Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
  2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
  3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
  4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
  6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
  7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.)
  8. Once you have written and published it, you then have to: Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

Eleven random facts
Uh … let’s see … hmmm. Aha! Cats, not dogs. I can’t swim and I have no intention of learning how to swim. I pretend I’m a decent cook (I’m actually not too bad).
Nicotine is the fuel of creativity.I’m a self-taught writer without academic credentials whatsoever. Coffee, not tee. Battling inner demons on a daily basis – most of them aren’t even pixels. Prefer long walks to working out (honestly, I’m to lazy to lift weights!). I should probably play other games too … but. But! Is that eleven? I don’t know, I can’t count. Well, not that well. Now where’s that blasted calculator? Oh, wait! Aha! I don’t own a shirt. There, that should be eleven.

As for the questions
I’ll do my best at answering them.

Which is your favorite in-game quest line? Like, one you don’t want to miss on any alts as you level up?

I have two favourite quest lines, depending on armor class. For clothies, I always finish the intro quest line of Hellfire Peninsula (because of the quest rewards). For plate armor classes I always finish the quest line in Terokkar Forrest, starting with “What’s Wrong at Cenarion Thicket”, wich eventually awards Cenarion Legplates (incidentally the same model as Saltstone Legplates). Other than that I don’t usually follow any specific quest lines. Some are fun, others are not.

Have you ever just spontaneously started to role play; for example, stood around some tables in an inn and offered to take peoples’ order?

Yes. I do it all the time. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, some other fellow joins in. There’s been a few memorable impromptu roleplays in dungeons and other places; alas, not in Goldshire (I guess I’m lucky).

What music do you chose to listen to, to accompany you in your epic battles? Do you play with the game music on? Or do you mute music and play your own in the background?

In-game music, most of the time.

Were you a gaming virgin before your adventures in WoW, like me? Or had you already played other games, or MMO’s previously?

My “career” as a gamer started out in the late 1980’s, first with several Commodore 64 titles, later on several Amiga titles (such as Wings, Paranoia Complex, It Came From the Desert) and eventually Doom (the first version) on a 486 PC without a soundcard. From there I went on a binge of FPS games – mostly Quake and Duke Nuk’em – until I ended up in the blissful land of Sim City … and the Sims … sprinkled with Age of Empires and Medal of Honor; Allied Assault. I was late to the WoW party, mostly because the MMO theme deterred me. I’m more comfortable as a solo player – that hasn’t changed, much. After all, DF or LFR is a group of solo players who just happens to work towards the same goal.

In your opinion, should Worgens have been added to the Horde’s races, or are they suited to be Alliance?

My draenei tends to stay as far away from the fleabags as possible, thank you. That does not include worgen, of course.

If you were brave enough to display your colors publicly, what symbol or quote could someone see stuck to your car’s bumper?

The Lion of Stormwind would be appropriate.

Say you were an über rogue and could stealth past anything, what would you do/where would you go first?

Well, I would sneak into a 25 heroic group on their way to Garrosh, hide in the shadows and then step out at the very moment the achievement dinged, change my title and then run like hell!

Do you have a favorite companion pet out at all times? If so, is it always the same one? How do you choose?

No.

What is your #1 in-game pass-time? Auction farming? Transmogs? Being trendy in Trade chat? Exploring old zones? (etc.)

It’s very mood dependant; I enjoy soloing more than having to work with other people on obtaining gear that makes soloing less challenging. Wich is why I spend a lot of time on Timeless Isle.

Is there a piece of art somewhere in game, a sculpture, a painting, that caught your interest and opened your eyes to the tiny details of WoW?

Karazhan. That place is sprinkled with details!

What real life thing do you tend to set aside for WoW?

I should probably exercise more than I do … *mumble mumble*. But, but … but!

Nominated blogs
in wich I fail to uphold the rules; but what good is a rule if it cannot be broken, eh? Besides, I couldn’t find more than these on the limited time I had writing this piece (zug zug kept me busy and now I’m hungry).

Sportsbard (because of the eclectic mix o WoW, sports and poems)

Grimoires of Supremacy (because warlocks – and the “huh!?” expression of the blueberry in the header)

Motherly Mage (because, well, mages.)

Should you be so inclined as to accept this nomination please answer these questions … wich incidentally is the very same ones I just answered. I know, that’s not how it is supposed to be done but I’m absolutely atrocious at thinking up questions. There’s a reason I stick to fiction – I’m a horrible reporter! (I’m also a little bit on the anarchist side so … rules. Eh, who needs ’em!) I hope you lot have better luck at creating new questions than I had.

  1. Which is your favorite in-game quest line? Like, one you don’t want to miss on any alts as you level up?
  2. Have you ever just spontaneously started to role play; for example, stood around some tables in an inn and offered to take peoples’ order?
  3. What music do you chose to listen to, to accompany you in your epic battles? Do you play with the game music on? Or do you mute music and play your own in the background?
  4. Were you a gaming virgin before your adventures in WoW, like me? Or had you already played other games, or MMO’s previously?
  5. In your opinion, should Worgens have been added to the Horde’s races, or are they suited to be Alliance?
  6. If you were brave enough to display your colors publicly, what symbol or quote could someone see stuck to your car’s bumper?
  7. Say you were an über rogue and could stealth past anything, what would you do/where would you go first?
  8. Do you have a favorite companion pet out at all times? If so, is it always the same one? How do you choose?
  9. What is your #1 in-game pass-time? Auction farming? Transmogs? Being trendy in Trade chat? Exploring old zones? (etc.)
  10. Is there a piece of art somewhere in game, a sculpture, a painting, that caught your interest and opened your eyes to the tiny details of WoW?
  11. What real life thing do you tend to set aside for WoW?

 

Speedy’s Corner, part 2

(You will find Part 1 here)

She stood in the doorway for quite some time, her shadow falling down the middle aisle right next to the cashier counter. It was a bright, sunny day outside. She turned into a cut-out of complete darkness, framed by rays of light. The only thing any of them saw before she moved was the burning white-blue eyes.

Her black boots, reinforced with saronite soles, clomped against the worn linoleum. She only took three steps, then stopped. Black leather pants, worn to a shine. Black leather gloves covering her arms up to her elbows. She wore a sleeveless black leather jacket, zipped halfway up, but nothing under, no linen, no bra. She had two AR slung across her back in an X, her belt heavy with handguns, handaxes, daggers and an ancient twohand sword, blazing with pale blue flames.

Her skin was pale, smudged with grey spots. Her face was haggard, almost a skull, her black hair a crewcut carpet between bone-white horns, swept backwards. Her skin was criscrossed with scars. Her lips were black – not lipstick, tatooed. When she spoke her voice was gravel on steel:
“You got candy?” She looked around. “Chips? Sourcream ‘f you have it. Beer?”
Speedy made a guttural sound that almost sounded like “Eeep!”.
“You mute, goblin?”
Speedy shook his head, swallowed hard.
“Get on with it?”

Speedy nodded. He hurried away, down an aisle, collecting candy and chips as he went and then stopped at the glassdoor refrigerators.
“Zul’Drak choccies ‘f ya got it!”
He made a strangled sound, grabbing sixpacks with one hand, holding the refrigerator door open with an elbow.
She turned to Naz, sitting behind the counter. Then she smiled, ever so slightly.

“What’s the matter?” she said, leaning with her elbows against the counter. Naz did his best not staring at her breasts. “Never seen a death knight before?”
Naz dropped his pen. Then he dropped his jaw. After a few secondds he closed his hanging mouth. He tried his best not to tremble but failed.
“Aww, isn’t that cute,” she said in a feint girlish voice that only made her sound even more terrible. “You haven’t!”
“I … ” Naz swallowed, hard. His voice was tense. “I thought you were extinct!”
“Not quite,” she said. She straightened up, looking over the shelves behind him and the rack of cigarettes above the cashiers counter. “Couple o’pack of fellies too. And burnwine.”
“You … uh … you mean – brandy?”
“Is that what they call it now?”
“No but we don’t carry burnwine Speeds says it’s too expensive and besides it taste like motor oil!”
“See, punctuation is the key to any succesful communication … ” she smiled, winked at him, and added in a slow, horrible whisper: “Naz … grim.”

Naz didn’t dare to reply. Speedys hasty return with an armful of groceries saved him from further embarassment. Being the goblin he were, Speedy had the audacity to pipe up a faint “That’ll be seven gold, miss! Anything else?”.

“I’m cool,” she said. In fact she was. She was cold, very cold. A chill that even if Naz sat more than three feet away made his hairs stand up on his arms. She pulled off a glove, rummaged through a pocket and came up with seven ancient gold coins. As she gently put them in a pile on the counter Naz couldn’t help but notice how the skin and flesh of her fingertips had been worn away, down to the very bone. But her fingernails were perfectly cared for, painted black. There was a faint mist of dissipating frost hanging around the pile of coins. Crudely minted ones, jagged, scratched, worn down.

“Bag it,” she said.
“Yes mam!” Naz nodded, hurried himself to fill a brown paper bag with her groceries and then handed the bag to her. He stood there, bag in both hand, arms oustretched, for a good while. She took her time putting on her glove.
“You know the way to King’s Hotel,” she said without looking up.
“King… uh … down the street, go left, straight forward. big glass and saronite building, can’t miss it.”
“Prolly need a bookin’ tho’,” Speedy said – and then clamped both his hands to his mouth, staring at her.
“I’m … expected.” She grabbed the bag and, resting it against her hip, turned around and walked out of the store. She stopped in the doorway, turned her head and shot a quick kiss with her free hand at them all. Then she walked out the store, closed the door behind her and disappeared from their view. After a minute old Thrall opened the door and gradually made his way inside, shuffling his walker in front of him. He sat down with a heavy sigh and a fart in the old leather sofa right next to the door and lit his pipe with trembling hands.

They all waited for an engine to rev. Instead, a few minutes later, there was a another kind of noise – a ‘clop-clop, clop-clop’. Then she rode past the open front door to the store – on a skeletal horse.

None of them said a thing for almost five minutes. They stared at each other, stared at the door, the street and the traffic. The only sound was the ‘whum-hum-whum’ of a fan from the ceiling, the gurgling of coolants from the refrigerators, the faint ‘thump-thump-thump’ from the sodaslush machine.

“Light … ” Speedy at long last whispered. His hand were shaking as he dug his pack of fellies out of his breastpocket. He managed to light up, took a deep drag and calmed down a bit. “Naz?”
“Yeah..?” Naz breathed out, hard. As if cleaning himself from fear. He lit a cigarette and tried not to stare at the ancient coins. “Yeah, Speeds?”
“Drinks, dude. Bottom shelf. Guess we need the good stuff. On the house y’all.”

Naz nodded, slowly. With the cigarette in the corner of the mouth he was just about to whisk the coins into the till when old Thrall said:
“Stop!”
“What?” Naz froze, his hands less than an inch from the coins.
“Don’t touch ’em!”
“It’s gold?”
“‘s Scourge money ‘s what it ‘s!”
“What?”
“Look,” Thrall grunted. “Dem’s coins are cursed they are! You mark ma words young’un. Ain’t seen coins like dat since the Great War.” He nodded. “Damned death knights were even worse than tanks! Had to use an rpg on ’em to kill ’em, you mark my words dems coins cursed!”
“It’s gold, who cares,” Speedy said, walked up to the counter, stretchedo ut a hand and … froze. He swallowed nervously. “Uh, Naz?”
“Yeah?”
“Look … ” Speedy grabbed a pencil from his breastpocket and very gently nudged one of the less worn coins into the overhead light. The imprint of a man was more visible; a young man, long hair, wearing a horned helmet shaped as a skull.
“Sweet Elune … ” Naz leaned back, blowing out a big cloud of smoke. “Gotta be hundreds of years old those!”
“That’s Scourge money allright,” old Thrall said and nodded.
“Is that … wassaname … ” Speedy couldn’t continue.
“Arthas,” Naz whispered. “I did a thesis on him in school once.”
“Bad as they ever got get,” Tinker said, his old, shrill gnome voice trembling. “Bad one, that one. Still, I would say that if we had leaders like that these days those damned bluesk–”
“Oh shut it you!” Speedy swirled around. “Shut the piehole or go home, gettin’ pretty fucking fed-up with you, mister!”
“‘s the curse allright,” old Thrall said.

Speedy nodded. He dropped his cigarette on the floor and crushed the butt under his heel. Then he turned to Naz and said:
“Get the rubber gloves. Rake those bastards down. Drop them down the stormdrain, outside. Ain’t havin’ scourge money in my store I ain’t!”

“You sure?” Naz said. “It’s gold?”
“Get rid of it!”

Naz nodded. He butted out his cigarette in an ashtray – “Welcome to Icecrown Hotel!” stamped in the bottom of the black glass with big, red letters – and hurried off. A few minutes later he nervously carried the coins outside and dumped them down the stormdrain. He could have sworn the sewerwater, five feet below, froe to ice in an instant.

He pulled off the gloves and, hesitating for a moment, dropped them into a wastepaper basket. Then he returned to the store – and stopped dead. He stared at them all. Swallowed hard, fumbled out another cigarette but forgot to light it.
“How did she know my name!?” he said, the last word coming close to a panic pitch. “Sweet Elune!”
“Don’t know, don’t care – and neither should you, boy,” Speedy said. He tossed back another shot of Durotar cactuswine. “Now that was scary, gentlemen!”
“Not a bad chick tho'” Benny said and chuckled. He sucked his knuckles, he always sucked his knuckles when he was thinking. “Wonder what she wanna widda hotel tho’.”

Right then, the second strange thing of the day made its way into the store from the street.

The sound of two dozen rumbling, revving chopper engines.

Speedy’s Corner, part 1

All of this is “as is”. There’s spelling errors.

Think of it as a first draft, done in public.

I just had to get it out of my head.

The chrono chimed at 6 a.m but Naz snoozed for another hour. No matter. By the time he went down to the kitchen, Thiss had allready sent the kids off to school and Naz enjoyed his morning kaffa in silence. Fried small eggs, canned kimchi, smoked talibuk venison on Nagrand hardtack. Life was good for Nazgrim Nightwind.
It could have been far worse.

Some mornings, as Thiss hurried from the kitchen to the walk-in closet and five minutes later emerged in a flurry of clothes, dressing as she sped through the apartment, Naz thought ‘I’m so lucky to have her’. Things could have been quite different indeed, had not a chance meeting at Gazzies eight years ago turned into a marriage (eventually). He didn’t care Thiss was the one with the gold. Sooner or later Naz would get his break. He kept a close eye on the literary trends. Last year goblin poets had been popular. This year – well, orc authors was shaping up to be A New Fresh Voice. At least as long as they didn’t deviate too far from the norm; poetry and appologetic history was fine, hardboiled crime fiction was not. Too bad Naz was one of the latter. If only the editor would call … Anyway! While waiting for the break he had his part-time down at Speedy’s Corner.

“You allright, hon?” Thiss said, loading her pockets with an arcpad, lighter and other personal effects. Pale blue office dress, a crimson cloth belt, white shoulders.
“Yeah I’m fine,” Naz said. He chuckled. Once upon a time, his final year at Ogrimmar University, he wrote a thesis on fashion and its historical roots. Shoulders never went out of style. Except in the 70’s. Not many had read the thesis, sure, but nevertheless he got his masters. Not too bad for someone like him; welfare scholarship (“peon”, as better-off students called him). He still remembered the professors shoulders; foam ones, tuskshaped (back in the 80’s the trend of retro orchish had been a big fad; it went out of style because of global reasons).

“Yeah I’m fine,” Naz said, smiling. He sipped some kaffa, fingers allready drumming on a pack of Fellies. Thiss didn’t smoke. Naz smoked on the back porch. He always felt a bit embarassed about it. “Just thinking about us, ‘s all.”
“Really now?” Thiss smiled, brushing white hair from her forehead, trapping it behind her long ears.
“You know … ” Naz shrugged, feeling silly. “Never mind.”
“What?”
“Oh nothing. Was just thinking. Seriously, go allready!”
“Right,” she chuckled. “I’m off, love. Uh … Garrosh has a doctors appointment at three, and Tyrias piano teacher comes at five. I’ll be home at eight, nine latest. Big thing going down today, real big. I’ll get some free time once it’s over.”
“That the darnassian deal coming to close?”
“Uh-huh.” Thiss chuckled. “Gonna get a bonus!”
“Good luck, then.” He hesitated. “Wait … you mean I need to go to a dinner!?”
“You look sharp in a tux, big boy, you know it! Next friday.”
“Damn!”

She laughed. Her pale white shining eyes fixed themselves on him. then she touched his temples with her fingertips, leaning close, kissing him.
“You’ll be fine … ” she whispered.
“Guess so” he said.
“Don’t forget Garrys doc, hon’. You know.”
“Yeah, redpox shot. I know. I’ll take care of it, don’t worry.”
“I know you will.” She took a few steps towards the back door but stopped. Then she turned, hurried across the kitchen and kissed Naz. “Love you. Elune grant you strength!”
“Be safe!”
“Always.”
“Loktar!”

But Thiss didn’t hear him, she was allready out of the house. In less than a minute he heard the engine rev. She always started her days with a burnout. The neighbours didn’t like it but the neighbours were all human.

Naz did away with the dirty dishes, then stepped out on the back porch. He lit his first for the day, dragging deep, leaning his head back. Breathed out a thick cloud of blue-white smoke, peering at the brightly colored tricycle Garrosh had toppled over on the back lawn. It’s funny how your mind works. Naz got an idea for a child abductor, right there. A few minutes later he was jotting down notes in bulletpoint. If only an editor would call – so many ideas!

He went inside, had another mug of kaffa, rinsed it and then took a shower. Forty minutes later he sauntered into Speedy’s Corner, dressed in vlack fatigues and an old t-shirt. The t-shirt was his favourite; Kor’Kron Hardcore, a band he formed in his freshman year and almost made a record with. Then Chen (the pandaren), Harry (the human) and Baine (the tauren) found their own lives. Being a punk is something for your younger days. Naz later heard that Chen – they always called him Pigs – hit it big as a martial arts trainer. funny how life works out.

“Well well well well!” a nasal voice called from the back of the general store; diapers, sodas, chips and smokes. “Look who finally deemed himself worthy for a few hours of sacrifice on the golden altar of Get Rich Or Dye Drying!”
“Morning, Speed,” Naz said with a chuckle. “We cool?”
“Yeah, yeah, we cool.” Speedy, the goblin, stepped out from his ‘office’. “Ya’ll orcs ain’t ne’er amount to nuthin if y’all can’t keep time, dude.”
“Time is money, yeah I know.” Naz looked around. Old Thrall was at his usual place, seated squarely on the front porch sofa sucking his blackened pipe. Benny and Tinker was allready arguing about ‘those damned blueskins!’ not far from Thrall. Sometimes Naz wondered if growing old meant you had to endlessly repeat the same mistakes people of old had done. Still, they were all mouth. A dog that barks don’t bite.
“Better get to work, Naz,” Thrall said and chuckled. “Speeds been busy playing lotto. Even forgot dustin’ the secret shelves!”
“Speeds, seriously? You need to dump those rubbers. They’re falling apart!”
“Ain’t no kids done with Paladin, dude.” Speedy nodded, one finger nervously twiddling the gold ring in his right ear. “Y’all shouldall lissen to me long ago, I say!”
“Uh-huh,” Naz nodded. Then he chuckled. “Got some good one last night with fresh pally’s. Just so you know.”
“Ah!” Speedy nodded, then he wiggled a igner in the face of Naz. “You a young’un! You got it all sorted now, dontcha!”
“Yyy-eeep!” Naz nodded, grinning. “Shit, was so tough we even broke the bed!”
“Hippie treehugging wife proba’ly went all cat too,” Tinker said from the corner, grunting.

Naz just shook his head. He was used to the banter. He had taught himself to shut it out. Any given day during the hours he worked the regulars would cry havoc about ‘damned forignirs!’. It was just one piece of the charm with Speedy’s Corner. Good old Speedy, an up and coming goblin ever since he was born.

“Want me to sweep the paladin shelf?” Naz said.
“Don’t bother, Speedy said, lighting one of his foul felweeds. “Ain’t no’ones gonna buy ’em anyway. Damned arcane prots all these days y’know. High! Tech!” He spat a few flakes of green. “Not like when I was young! Had to order by mail from booty Bay y’kno’!”

“Uh-huh,” Naz nodded. He sat down behind the counter, pulled out a pen and a notebook and started thinking. tinker and Benny kept on arguing in the background. Old Thrall hollered for another rootbeer. Speedy grumbled his usual “someone’s gonna pay for dese y’all know old silly orc’. comfortable sounds, great sounds. Naz always felt at ease, thinking while the regulars quarreled. In just a few minutes Old Emma would come by and buy her teo gallon bottle of water. In a few minutes more the store would be filled with kids from the school a block down, trying their best to shoplift Zul’Drak Candybars and other sweets (and Speedy would yell at them of course he would yell, but then he would let them run away; he liked kids, even though he hated them).

Naz was just about to pen out a more fleshy idea about the gaudy tricycle and the child abductor when the silverbell above the door jingled.

Then Speedy’s Corner went unusually silent.

A bleak future of unreal raiding

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This is a rant.

You have been warned.

It’s with slight dread I see what’s on the horison. LFR – chaotic as it may be at times – suited me fine. I have no interest in “real rading”. Reasons are many, among others an almost chronic stress level, occasional panic attacks, slow reactions and a self confidence wich at times reach rock bottom. I am not a raider, I don’t want to be a raider. You certainly don’t want someone like me dragging down your progression.

Ah, yes. Unreal raiding – because as you all know, LFR isn’t “real raiding”. I’m a terrible cynic, of course.

Horridon

The player I am
Once I hit a gear level I’m comfortable with I’m fine. Done. Right now I’m comfortable with mu iLvl 542 on Vassannah and 540 on Shuanna. It is enough for the content I usually do. I walk the lonely road of soloing stuff instead of having to endure “team play”.

I don’t care about reaching the next hamster wheel of gear because I do not care about progression. That doesn’t mean I’m not taking care of what I do. I’m not lazy, I want to improve – but I do it on my own terms, in my own way. I don’t rely on other people and I certainly don’t expect welfare epics.

I consider myself skilled enough to play my main classes. I might not be the most optimal player, but I make do. I’m good enough for flex (should I ever want to go there). I will be good enough for the Warlords of Draenor “normal” (wich, as far as I understand, is the current flex).

I ran my LFRs for a reason (outside the legendary cloak gotta catch ’em all sigil hunting). LFR is a tool wich gives me the ability to aquire “raid equivalent” gear. This, so I can seek out the challenges I enjoy on my own terms (or in company with a select group of people who know and understand why I sometimes become the despondent defaitist without yelling “noob!” … unless they mean it in an endearing way). I more or less stopped running LFR right after the boost to 90-disaster. The stress was too taxing.

Timeless Isle fixed the lack of “gear progression”. On Timeless Isle, even if it is a grindy business, I play on my own terms. I’ve grinded out the Shao Hao-rep on both my paladin, Shuanna, and my warlock, Sharenne. I have the mount. I also found a metric ton of Burdens of Eternity along the way. With valor points upgrades I thus reached an iLvl I hardly didn’t even dream of. Heck, I’ve even killed Ordos (something I never thought I would do)!

The iLvl, especially with the legendary cloak, is more than enough for most advertised flex raids. I don’t intend on signing up for any. I don’t “need” better gear. I’m confident and comfortable with what I have. I don’t need the stress of trying to function in an environment that is more challenging than LFR with a bunch of strangers. Even if they are more skilled.

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Second rate players
I don’t care what other people say. Heroic raiders with their epeen showing or wannabee hardcore raiders with delusions of Method grandeur – their words and slurs don’t affect me. Neither does the sometimes terrible atmosphere of LFR.

What I do mind is getting branded as a second rate player by none other than Blizzard. I’m sure it’s not their intention but their actions so far has devalued the kind of player that I am. End game doesn’t have to be cutting edge to be challenging. Forcing people, such as me, into content that will likely be too challenging for me to complete will devalue the game itself. I don’t want to run Warlords of Draenor normal raids (current flex difficulty). I don’t want to be punished either. If I choose to stick with LFR I will be punished. The increased drop rate of gear doesn’t make up for it. The gear will still be sub-par – and more importantly: It WILL stigmatise players such as me.

You know it will happen. A wek into Warlords of Draenor and Anyone who use LFR will be berated, bullied and told to jump of a cliff. I trust Blizzards decisions around game development and design. I do not trust the community, not for a second. The tradition of bullying is too ingrained in the very fabric of the community for it to not affect the LFR decision. Even now people jump on “weakness” like they were competing for a “fascist of the month”-award – and not just in LFR). Dungeons, battlegrounds, world bosses. You know the shit’s going to start flying after the first “seriously?”. Tone of voice is rarely conveyed through text, of course, but there’s a certain tone to it nevertheless.

It’s started allready, by the way. Just take a look at MMO Champions comments.

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Upstairs and Downstairs
I fear this is exactly what will happen: There will be an even clearer distinction between “upper class” and “lower class”. The decision regarding LFR – especially on the subjective matter of art assets – is putting down the groundwork for an in-game class war. Normal raiders will berate LFR raiders. Heroic raiders will berate normal raiders (“normal” raiding will probably be called “dumbed down” or “welfare running”; it certainly won’t be “real” raiding). Mythics, well … to be honest I believe the minority of raid ready and raid skilled mythics will do what they do now: Stick to their own game.

As usual, it’s the tail of pretenders that will form the stormtrooper squads of virtual self-proclaimed dickwads. The changes to the raid structure, LFR in particular, will cater to the crowd who feed off entitlement and disrespect – the bullies, to put it bluntly. The system will cater to the crowd who regard empathy as a weakness. The kind of player who deem himself (or herself) “too good” for the rest of the crowd. Those who think themselves to be “hardcore”, the Call of Duty-crowd. Those who spend most of their time dead or AFK spewing insults into chat. Don’t think for a second “normal” raiding will be a good ol’ raidteam boy scout outing where we “make new friends” (the “make friends”-mantra is well worn out by now).

It will be savage.