*from the last pages of a diary, found
somewhere in Jade Forrest, Pandaria, Azeroth*
This is the last record of farmhand Geist, signing off: Master has been funny these last couple of days. Funny in a no-fun funny way. Funny in a confused kind of way. Funny in a should I stay or should I go … kind of way. Tima, my brain (what’s left of it) is struggling to find words that once came easy but now are hard. My muscles are trembling. I’m keeping close to the floor. My pinkies twitch and this time not even velvet can calm them.
We are afraid.
Oh, it has been such a long time since we were this afraid. We’re not scared. To be scared is to give up a yelp and hide, then creep out with a nervous smile and laugh the scaredy stuff away. We’re not terrified. To be terrified is to huddle down in a lump of dirty cloth pretending nothing hurts but everything HURTS SO MUCH because Master just hit you twenty times with a bullwhip, yelling you were a useless piece of dead meat (and much worse). We’re not fearful. To fear is to hope that The Boogeyman, He Whow Smells Like Death, won’t find you.
We are afraid.
It’s a slow and creeping feeling. A chill running over your skin. A cold, slowly sinking into your muscles. A sudden spasm of an elbow, a knee, making it hard to stand. An invisible chain of iron slung around your chest, tightening, making it hard to breathe until you panic because you can’t draw air … if we could breathe. We just move our chest out and back a bit. We are the dead (because this is the kingdom of the Scourge!). We don’t need the breath of life. But that is a lie. We do need the breath of life. Only our life is not your life. Soon it will come to an end. You see, friends … that is why we are afraid.
Our freedom is about to end.
Little Virmen is twitching his nose. Alan the Ghoul gave Virmen a piece of carrot the other day but Virmen had no appetite. Poor little Virr glanced at Master, sitting by a table sharping her swords, and just … whispered.
“Who will comfort Toffle now?”
“I … Will …” Alan the Ghoul said. Well, garbled. “Toffle.”
“Not even Death can comfort Toffle.” Virmen said (only Alan calls Virmen Toffle and only Toffle calls Alan Death).
Master sharpened her swords. Master polished her armor. Master did all those things a death knight does before going to war. Preparing, buffing up (as Master calls it). Master stood up and whispered Terrible Words, coagulated blood trickling out of her pores where I saw her naked skin, blood that hardened, became an armor – blood becoming a presence.
It was not right.
She went out to the pond, scrubbing it off. I snuck up to a window and looked out, Alan the Ghoul hanging by my shoulder and Little Virmen Toffle climbing on top of Alans head. We saw her speak the unholy chant and we smelled the stench of death … a green, faint cloud, a miasma of unholiness.
It was not right.
Master srubbed again. Scrubbed so hard her skin got cut. then she turned, a single word and the waters of the pond was frozen solid. We heard her whisper “hard as iron” – that’s when we knew why Master buffed up.
“Master is going home … ” My words could hardly be heard, it wasn’t even a whisper. It was the faintest of sounds. Yet Master turned and her deadeye light shone upon me and then she said:
“I’m setting you free, Tim.”
“I am free.” I said. I don’t know where I found the courage. I walked out of the house, I straightened up. My pink dress was slightly dirty and my hair was all a mess, but sometimes you just need to say things even if you look like a piece of waste: “I am free, Master. You are not my master because I fear you. You are my master because I … Love. You.”
Then I ran and hid, scurrying across the ground as low as a rat. I felt ashamed, but fear is the curse of the Scourge. We often whispered “I’m sorry”, our final testament, when some argy pal used to kill us. Sometimes, some of us raised our hands, as if that would save us from the white knights. It never did. Not even had my lasts words left my lips before I remembered the time in Zul’Drak and the bullwhip. Long time ago now, a time when Master was a monster.
I am afraid.
Master sat hunched down close to the chicken coop in wich I hid for hours, hand stretched out. She didn’t say a single word. She just sat there, looking at me, sometimes smiling. cold air rising from her body like a mist. Frost presence, she calls it. She don’t function in any other way but the way of ice. Like Master often says when she’s in a good mood: “I might be a bitch but I’m a cool bitch”.
The sun rose. Haohan – he’s an early riser and wants “biz” to be taken care of right after breakfast – came by. He waved, he stopped, he lowered his hand. Wich is why I spent most of the morning shivering in a chicken coop while Master sat there with her hand outstretched and Haohan leaning forward with his hands on his knees. Then, hours later, her straightened up and and said:
“Leave it be. Sooner or later it’ll be hungry.” (Haohan is the ony one who still calls me an “it”, I don’t mind. He’s old and it’s hard to change when you’re old. Li-Li says so, then she usually point at her uncle.)
You know what? That pandaren really piss me off! You don’t want to make Scourge angry, you know. Even redeemed scurgies, like me. So I got a bit heated. I scrambled out of the coop and stood up to him. I poked one of my saronite claws – gently! – into his chest and said:
“MHAAAA HAAA HAAAA!!!”
I’m telling you, that pandaren ran so fast he left a trail of dust behind! Needless to say, Master decided that Halfhill was a bit too hot. Them Halhill milita are prone to poke you with their pitchforks even if you have surrendered, yelling “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!”. If the pitchforks don’t get you, their bags of pandaren spice will. They call them pepper bullets.
In the end, Master decided that maybe it was time to go. I even remember her, we were on our way down to Jade Forrest then all tucked into a yak-wagon, me and Alan and Toffle and the Boney Twins (M and K) and Champs and Stinker … the whole undead family … we were on our way. When Zavvie pointed at the sky and said, in a cheerful tone:
“That’s where we’re going, guys.”
I remember her finger. Her long index finger, skin allready worn down so hard her bone and nail looked like a talon. I looked at the sky. I looked at her finger. I looked at her face – it was the happiest death knight I have ever seen. Then I raised my saronite talon, stretching the joints, pointing at the sky, and said …
Little Virmen Toffle twitched. Then Little Virmen Toffle smiled. There was a sound, from far behind us, echoing across the silken fields and the rolling hills and the misty forrests of Pandaria. Dog was barking. Dog was catching up. Dog was coming along. We’re on the road now. Off to another world. Or, as i like to think of it:
To boldly go where no Scourge has gone before!