Spare those lips the taste of death

yrel

Shuanna dreamt of death again. It had been so long since. She had dreamt about it the last night they were together in the Wetlands, her refuge, but not since. Oh, she still had her nightmares, she had seen the dead walk again. She had felt the panic, the fear, the terror. But she hadn’t seen Death – until now. This night, when she dreamt of death again.

(“You speak of justice?”)

She woke up. Unlike the cheap novels she read to trick herself to fall asleep, she didn’t wake up screaming. She just opened her eyes, a film of sweat on her face, a never exhaled gasp in her throat. Then she closed her eyes and sank back into oblivion with a deep, comfortable sigh, mumbling a half forgotten “Maraad … “. She even felt rested when she woke up, hours after dawn (way too late but lieutenant Thorn had let her sleep). Through the open window – Shuanna always had the window open since it let the smells of Shadowmoon into her room – she heard the garrison sounds. There could be no death in a place like this.

(“Of cowardice?“)

Voices from the yard … they made her smile.
“Delvar! Wha’yat!? Gotta git goin’ dude! Dem podlin’s aint gonna git killed ‘f’ya slack! C’m’ere ya deddy!” That was Ravennah.
“Strike! Strike! And strike again! Maggots eat you, recruit! fucking lady blows like that work wonders in Gorgrond, I’m sure, but not here! I killed death, you scum! Like this, Vandaam! See!? Do it again or I’ll sell you back to the ogres!” That was Zavannah.
“Mooore! Illona, please oh please!” That was Vassanna (in the room next door).

(“I will show you the justice of the grave!”)

There’s nothing more comforting than the voices of your sisters, strange as they may be, when you feel the breath of death down your back. The first time Shuanna went outside once the garrison had been built, she just stopped. Then she watched. She took a deep breath and realised she was … home. That was months ago. Nothing had changed save the stockade walls being turned to masonry. Yet there was this sense of … freedom.

(“And the true meaning of … Fear!”)

She thought she was free at last. Free from the hauntings, the dead, the screams inside. How could Death possibly exist here? Even when Ner’Zul was a threat, there was a certain tranquility to Shadowmoon. Besides – orcs worshipping the shadows was nothing compared to the Scourge.

(“A force of darkness that would wash over this world … “)

That was then. Now – a long time ago. At least it felt like a long time ago. Still, she couldn’t shake the feeling. The very second her hooves touched the soil of Shadowmoon, she knew it in every fiber of her body: I’m home. Different timeline be damned – this was home! Maraad was there. Of course he was. He had been there ever since the Dark Portal turned red. He must have known – that’s why he had been so coy with her in the Wetlands. Every time she had asked him where he would go once he had rested enough, he avoided her gaze. Then he said something like “suffice to say … ”

(“Soon, I will have a new champion.”)

You don’t push it when someone averts his gaze and use a word like ‘suffice’. Instead you do what she did back then – you cherish every second of the company, brief as it may be. Pity she never got to fuck him.

“I have to go,” he said.
“I understand,” she said.
“Light be with you, friend”.
“Don’t do anything I would do”.

She remembered how they had looked at each other for a long, long time. Several minutes passed without any of them saying a word. There was something in that gaze of his. She knew it. He knew it. She wanted to tell him “don’t go, let them fend for themselves” But she knew he would go – even though he also knew he went to his own death. Then he flung himself at her, trapping her in a long, hard hug, whispering “I don’t want to go back!” in a frantic voice, shrill with panic. Their lips were less than an inch away – yet neither of them did what everything told them to do. She felt him through the fabric of his pants. He must have felt her, her nipples hard, her thrusts against his body, her hands, wandering down, grabbing his ass. Instead they stared into each others eyes and very gently let each other go. He placed his fist on her chin, mocking a blow, taking a deep breath and as forgetting his sudden fit of panic. He cleared his throat, smiled and winked at her and said: “In the light we prevail, Shuanna. Remember that.”

Then he turned, then he walked away, then he was gone. She dreamt of him that night. She woke with a moan.

(“The breaking of this one has been taxing.”)

Later on there was no time. The battle in front of the portal. The flight to the ship. Touching ground in Shadowmoon, meeting the prophet, or at least one of them (Shuanna always felt confused about the timeline aspect of this adventure). Duties kept them apart. Then there were other lips. Draenor lips. An aspirant vindicators lips. Inches apart in the bushes not far from Ner’Zul himself. Every time she knew that this, this, is the moment! Everytime she saw it in Yrels eyes … every time Shuanna pulled back.

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(” In the end you will all serve me.”)

It was the nightmares. The memory of nightmares. Yrel only had to cope with what this world had brought her. Shuanna had to cope with both worlds. The Draenor that were, the Draenor that could have been, and the Draenor that Yrel had never seen. Shattered. Destroyed. Burned. Dying. More worlds than Draenor though … because Outland never broke Shuanna. Icecrown did.

(“Now I stand, the lion before the lambs.”)

How could you describe Icecrown to someone who had never seen it? Better to avoid it, to spare them. Spare those lips the taste of death. There was no Pit of Saron on Draenor. There was no Forge of Souls. There was no Icecrown. How can you describe Death to people who have only seen death?

(“They cannot fear!”)

As Shuanna looked out across the garrison, with all its hustle and bustle, she was struck by a simple thought. In a way it felt almost comfortable. Yet she knew she would do anything – absolutely anything! – to keep it from happening.

‘We will save this world. This world will not shatter. This time, the draenei will prevail!

That was Maraads words. Far back in her mind, another voice whispered the never ending incessant whisper:

(“This last act of service… is mine!”)

She shrugged. Truth be told she wanted to remember Maraad as he were, when he came to visit in the Wetlands. Teh carefree vindicator, the vacationeer. Dressed in a blue overall, fishing pole in one hand, a jug of Caraway in the other, going on and on about how he never caught anything but weeds. How she laughedat him, nudged him, how she giggled when a murloc caught his lure and hooked a halibut to his line just so their godess would show her shiny shield. How he laughed. How he lit up, as if whatever weighed on his mind became like smoke.

(“The world of the living can no longer comfort me.“)

She had seen him later on, an embodied spirit in the vaults of Auchindon putting Exarch Yrel to the test. But that was not the Maraad she loved. The Maraad she loved was dressed in blue. The Maraad she loved couldn’t fish. That was the hero she remembered most fondly: The laid back one, the funny one, the sexual innuendo one. Her body was ready every second for him yet he never made a single move. Nor did she. They touched each other as often as they could but it never went any further. See, there’s a truth here: Murlocs are a brilliant cockblock.

(“This last act of service… is mine“)

Noon. She knew there would be hot coffee in the barracks, and buns (Brumas bread, dwarven buns, hard as pebbles but once the crust was broken they were sweet and moist). She watched the porters carry crates from the Salvage Yard to the Treasury. She watched Vandaam being scolded yet again by her dead sister

– “This isn’t a brawl, you idiot! Now do it again! Hit me!”
“Fuck you!”
“Truth be told pit fighter I can see it in your eyes. Defeat me in combat and I’m all yours, sugar.”  –

and despite Shuannas morose mind she burst out laughing. It was a shrill, slightly insane laugh. It caught Vandaam off-guard and in a few seconds he was on his back with Tim the Geist on his chest yelling “Mmmmr aaahh ahh haaa!”. Then Zavannah yelled “Get off him, silly girl! now! Again! On your guard!”.

(“They must never know what was done here today.“)

Yes … She watched them all from the balcony to her room. She felt them all. Zavannah, Vassanna, Ravennah … The joy, the lust, the sorrow, the sillyness and the laughter. Down by the wall Cassanna was teaching Kimzee how to gut an elekk. Truth be told the green goblin looked greener than usual. All of them – home. Yet, all of them – out of place. That’s when the thought struck her:

‘We do not belong here.’

(“LEAVE THIS PLACE – AND NEVER RETURN.“)

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Dear WoW Insider

gw7jl

You taught me something important: You’re a part of this game. Once upon a time there was a very nervous boy who listened to the 1337s. The nervous boy did his best to copy what he read but no matter what he did things rarely worked out. Elitist Jerks was an awesome forum. The knowledge hidden within the sometimes patronizing posts was an absolute goldmine – but the way it was presented scared the nervous boy.

You’re either on top of the game or you’re nothing.

One day, the nervous boy was eating a kebab. He clicked around here and there and somehow he ended up on a site he had never even heard of. He had gone to Thotbot, he had gone to the Official Forums, he had gone to sites that made his antivirus yell “OH NO YOU DON’T!!!”. The site he ended up on was one of those buddies that your mother would be proud of. My, she would give them milk and cookies. This site, had in its comments and articles a simple message:

You’re a part of this game.

That’s how I met WoW Insider. This was years ago. I started playing World of Warcraft around 2008. As many others, I looked upon the people in their shiny armors straight out of whatever raid that was current. As many others, I thought ‘this is what I have to do’. As many others, I soon realised that I would never become what Those People were. I don’t function that well in ‘team sports’. I blame high school (but that’s a completely different story).

As many others, I thought I had to be hostile to play this game. I read comments all over the place in the years to come, somehow trying to convince myself to become a “raider”. The problem was, I had no friends in this game of ours.

Wow Insider changed that.

Before WoW Insider, I read MMO Champion, Wowhead, the forums, Elitist Jerk (again). Over and over I saw the same thing: 1337. The one thing all those sites except WoW Insider taught me was:

You’re either on top of the game or you’re nothing.

I’m used to being nothing. I’ve been a nothing all my life. I’m so fucking 1337 at mediocricy you can’t touch me. I was complacent with being the one who never went into a dungeon until I was 80 and could roflstomp everything unless it was current content. I got the Kingslayer title less than a year ago, just to give you a pointer at how I play.

Now, see … the introduction of Dungeon Finder and later Looking For Raid, LFR, changed things. But more importantly – WoW Insider changed my mindset. I realised, from the multitude of people commenting, usually in the Queue, that I didn’t have to be All – or nothing. I could be something, because there’s room for everyone in Azeroth. Which, of course, is solely Blizzard Entertainments idea – and a mighty fine idea it is!

But this post is not about Blizzard (even though WoW Insider wouldn’t even exist without World of Warcraft). This post is about WoW Insider. I stumbled upon them years ago, in 2008 or -09. For several years I simply lurked. People just knew so damned much! All that knowledge was, well, intimidating. Between the in-depth articles on warriors and lore and raiding and whatnot, there was a simple message hidden:

You’re a part of this game.

Over time, I started to realize that you didn’t have to be 1337. There were so many people playing this game we love, this hobby of ours, this internet dragon-killing philatelists society (before the internet people who collected stamps were wieved, buy some, as just as weird as we are). This outpouring of ordinary people investing time in something they cherished and felt was important was simply astounding. I had’nt realised how big it was, World of Warcraft, until I came across WoW Insider.

Hardcores, casuals, trolls, lurkers. Moms, dads, singles, couples. Hetero, bi, gay, trans. Vanillas, doms, subs, switches. Girls, boys, women, men. Dads, mothers, grandparents. Brothers, sisters, cousins, strangers. Haters, lovers, poets, warriors. Soldiers, oh so many soldiers; americans, brittish, french, swedish. Europeans, americans, south americans, asians. Englishmen, britons, russians. Dragons, ponies, giffers, orcs, draenei, belves, nelves, goblins, dwarves, worgens, inquisitors, Monty Pythonists, pop culturists … on and on and on and on.

Humans. All of you. Humans. THIS is WoW Insider. In the Queue following the news of AOL rumors, people started posting selfies. The orcs and the trolls and all the avatars had faces. I rarely get so moved that I burst into tears from something I see on the internet, I have the often spoken of “thick skin”, but dammit!

Without the staff none of this would be possible. We commenters would not be the band of brothers (and sisters) that we are without you, the WoW Insider staff.

Rossi, with your passion for warriors you made me fall in love with this game (fuck man, you made roll a warrior! Several times!). Sacco, though you left WoW Insider – you talked to me. Stickney, Ziebart – all of you: You talked and still talk in a way that I, a nervous boy, can listen to. You’re like that great teacher I had, the one that actually made me who I am. You have never patronized me. You have never trolled me. you have always stated the facts. You have had the courage to stand up for what you believe in – be it the state of the warrior or some other more volatile opinion. You have improved me, I dare say – you, and all the commenters of your site, has made me a better person.

WoW Insider showed me that there was more to World of Warcraft than killing internet dragons. You showed me, through personal editorials and comments and the multitude of various posts you did before the cutbacks a year or two ago, that behind the gamer there is a person. You have a tone of personality, of intimacy, that I have never seen anywhere else. Food recipies, beer brewing bravado, how to loose weight or else it might kill you – all of that played an equal part in me simply falling in love with “your” site. The fount of lore knowledge you all possessed was a gateway to just how big this game is! Blizzard themselves couldn’t do a better job presenting lore as you did, WoW Insider. There’s been many nights that I’ve been fighting a desire to sleep, just to catch your podcast. Time zones be damned!

I made myself public on WoW Insider around 2010. That’s when I started commenting. Just a few things here and there. At first I was … well, bit of a jerk, I think. I can’t remember, honestly. I didn’t post any comments on a regular basis until you integrated with Twitter (whenever that was). That’s when I started taking off. Over time, I started to develop a sort of friendship with some of WoW Insiders regular commenters. I live half my life on the internet. Most of my social life is virtual. You, you guys and gals, you are my friends, though we have never met.

Thank you, WoW Insider, for making this possible.

This is not the end. I’m sure your fanbase – and your connections – are working on a solution. You are a pillar of the WoW Community and if you fall, there will be dark days ahead. So let’s end on a WoW related paraphrase:

There must always be a WoW Insider.

#savejoystiq #savewowinsider

Others on the fate of WoW Insider: Sportsbard , World of Matticus , FecklessLeader , Apple Cider Mage , Captain Cakewalk , Growing up in Azeroth , Battle Pet Round Up , Lib Feathers and many more to come when I find them.

Garrison Life (Diary of an orgon, part thumb)

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“Deer dairy. Tedday I et meet. It is god.” Blooks brow furled. Then he used the fingernail of his thumb to erase the last word from the piece of wood he was using as ‘paper’. He gripped the piece of charcoal very carefully and, with the tip of his tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth, wrote: “Gud!”

“Dat aight, beater?” he said, glancing sideways at Ravennah. “Blook don’t no’ much ’bout writin’, boss.”
“Kinda looks aight to me, big fella,” Ravennah said. Truth be told she wasn’t sure how to spell ‘meat’. But Blook had been sweating over his diary for the last four hours and she didn’t want to make him sad. Besides, there’s two things people can’t stand: One is an ogron sweating. The other is an ogron in love.

That’s why there was a very angry podling in a cage not far away. Someone in the garrison must have mentioned that ‘ladies like flowers’- Ravennah suspected it was Tommok. The ogron and the ogre had a thing going, so to speak. When they didn’t spar with each other, naked, they drank. try as he might, Tommok could never drink as Blook, only Delvar managed that (and Delvar was dead … ish).

“Blook no good at dis,” Blook sighed deeply. “I wanna hit dis stopid wood!”
“Ain’t too bad, big boy,” Ravennah said and managed to stiffle a chuckle. Then she perched up and said, all of a sudden reminded of what Carlin Redpath had once told her: “U’no Blook, dere’s a trick to spellin’. See, trick’ss: Don’ write lak ya taak, aight. See?” She cleared her throat and,careful with every word, she said: Always use more letters than needed. N’ … And … Da … That, I mean. That is it.”
“Moar words?”
“Uhhuh.”
“Dat stupid!”
“Yahuh.”
“Less go beat someone!” He grinned. “Betcha can beat Blook yeh!? Wanna dance, missus!?”
“I wish I could … ” Ravennah sighed, then she very gently stroked Blooks chin and pretended not to see the beads of sweat dripping from his armpits. “But I’m suppa to go on pod patrol, mate.”
“Yeh yeh, gotta do wadagotta do eh?” He nodded. “Fugeddaboutit!”

He watched Ravennah smile, stand up and saunter off. After a little while he placed both his hand tight between his legs, nervous that something might show. Truth be told he hardly knew what that thing was. He used it for some things, usually when he had to go and sometimes when something had to go, but …

Things stirred inside him. He wasn’t sure what. An ogrons life is very simple: Grow up (if your siblings don’t eat you or the botani don’t catch you). Then beat things. Then die. That was all it was, really. Back to the dust when time came. When he sometimes thought about it he summed it up with: Blook needs a beatin’ (because that’s what other ogron always said when they saw him).

No one but weak meat had come to the Overlook for years. He’d been standing (or sitting, or laying down) up there or ages. Dreamy eye staring at Talador, wanting to go there but, you know, courage, right? Besides. Talador was Blue Country. No one ever came back from there!

Strange blues had come. Like the one who beat him up and then said “ey mate, ‘f ya wanna we can use some mussle aight?”. Then she had … smiled at him. It was the first time someone had ever smiled at him. Then she pulled out a piece of elongated cloth and after a while managed to convince him that the cloth would actually help him on the mend. She had cut a ReallyBad Gash in his leg – which is why she bandaged it. Sayng she was sorry “but ya did try to kill me ya big lunk!”.

Dat smile. He sighed. No one could ever know it, not ever! Ogron don’t love. But he did. At least he thought he did … The Commander, the pale blueskin everyone called Crusader Shuanna (“Yes ma’aam! Right away ma’aam!”), told him so. She said, she did, “You’re a monster. But you’re a useful monster. That’s why I let you live. Don’t get cheeky, rock. Or I’ll break you.”

He knew she would. Everyone would. Because he … well … he was The Runt. His own mother had tried to eat him!

“Blook weak,” he said, feeling morose. He always felt like that when he lost sight of Ravennah. His right testicle was still swollen but he didn’t mind. Anyone who kicks an ogron on the nuts deserves to be loved. That’s the ogron way.

“Oi, Pebblehead!” The shout echoed across the garrison. Dwarves and humans looked up, then went back to what they were doing. They had grown used to Tommok yelling. He either spoke in slurs or not at all. It was an ogre thing (he could be polite but rarely saw the point of being polite, especially around Phylarch). “Drop your dick mate! The queen blue bitch wants orcs killed!”

“Blook don’ feel gud,” Blook said, embarassed that he lied to a friend. He was feeling just fine. He would sleep well later on, thinking about how Ravennahs behind moved to her steps as she walked down the stretch of the garrison Main Street. “Gunna stand ye up, mate. Don’ wanna ogron shitting on you.”
“Yeah, well,” Tommok spit. “Go fuck yourself then.”
“Ya sholda try be nice once inna while Tom.”
“Nice ain’t killed no one.”
“Mebbe dats da problim.” Blook sighed.
“You stop liss’ning to them blues, Pebblehead. They’re fucking you up.”
“Mebbe Blook don’ wanna fight!?”
“You’re an ogron. Fuck yeah you wanna fight.”
“No.” Blook sighed. “Well yeah … but not now.”
“Then fuck off.”

Blook shrugged. He slumped back against the treetrunk behind him and gradually spread his legs. Then he thought better of it all. The first few days in this strange new place he had ended up in had been … educational. First of all: You’re not supposed to Do What You Fell Like Doing Right Now While Thinking of Ravennah the Night Elf Draenei (“it’s complicated”). People tend to … well.

When he showed up at the garrison gates – and getting there was quite an adventure – they shot at him! He wasn’t badly hurt, the guardsmens crossbow bolts bounced of him. Then there was a tense moment as he kneeled in front of the gates keeping his eye on the Giant Gun. The small ones were called dwarves (Bruma told him that later, once she had stopped kicking his nuts). The tiny one’s were gnomes (Blook feared them because they were so small but yet so deadly). Then … She came.

Blook Beater. The one everyone said was … weird. Well, Blook knew weird. He was an ogron in a garrison, after all. When no one wanted to give him water, she gave him water. When no one dared to feed him, she led him out of the garrison up to an ancient and very tast elekk. He even gave her a piece of meat (she wasted it on a fire, though the sauce she used was not too bad – it tasted like savage blood).

“Tom?” Blook said, because Tommok lingered, even though there were orcs to kill. “Ogre gladdy?”
“What!?”
“I dunno … I gave’er a flower butta podlings angry. What you think..?”
“Get her drunk and fuck her. Works on ogres.” Tommok did sound a little bit insecure. “I mean … Oh fugeddabouit!”
“Mebbe I shul’ ask goblin Kim?”
“Green, blue … Do I look like a fucking priest, Blook!?”
“Mabbe I shou’fin’ ‘er a tree. Rave likes trees. She cuts them down.”

Blook pondered. Then, as he stood up intent on finding himself a tree, he felt someone staring.

Phylarch was not amused.