The Lament of Farmhand Geist: Kingdom

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“I see it all, taunting in the vastness behind my eyeline”

– Sarah Reeson, (Laughing GeekAlt:ernative)

“Mot’ on’na range!”

Everytime one of the lookouts yell that thing, I cringe. It means one of my former “brothers” will be shredded. It’s ingrained within my dead fibres, this solidarity with the already dead unknowning. I could be out there, alone. In the cold … but Master saved me. I watch them from the wall that the Argent Crusade erected not far from the Shadow Vault. The ghouls, the zombies, the skeletons, the mindless undead of the Scourge.

This is Tim, Geist Alpha, reporting for duty from Dog One, the Argent Crusade Vigil Barrier. They call it “the Wall”.

The things down there, the things I once called my band of brothers, stray close to the burning lanterns dotting the Wall. People used to fear the Scourge. Now? They’re like moths. They are drawn to the light, perhaps with a faint memory of a sunset deep in their dead, rotten brains. Once in a while I see someone I know; Mucky was shredded a couple of days ago. Mucky was a ghoul. He used to be a murderer – drink pushed him to kill his wife and children and so he was sent to the penal companies of the Northrend expedition. That’s where we found him. Anh’khnat the Nerubian, nicknamed “the gnat”, our squad commander, sniffed him out where he was hiding behind a bush not far from Farshire. We played with him for a bit. We made him dance. Oh, how he danced …

He wasn’t spared.

I know, it sounds very cruel. Inhumane. Newsflash, buddy – the Scourge lack morals. What we don’t lack is memories. So you might ask – why was he was called Mucky? Well, he never stopped crying, not even as a ghoul. Joar, the vrykul commander who replaced the Gnat once we tired of the bugs fucking antics and killed him dead-dead, decided that the tears were “mucky”. Being scourge is hard, people (I hear there’s a “trend” among youngsters in Stormwind to experiment with Lichbloom; death is not the answer, young ones – and the ghouls have really bad breath).

Just remember that every single ghoul has a backstory. Some of them even remembers it. Everyone lived, once we all lived. We were lovers, farmers, masons, killers, men, women, children, old. We were happy or sad and some ghouls, the really old one’s, was not human at all but elves. Then all we became was shufflers. Walkers. Dead. Dead! Citizens of a new empire – the Kingdom of the Scourge (only the dead may enter!).

Kingdom. We used to call this place that.

Kingdom.

I could be out there, in the vastness of death and cold. An endless wanderer, lost in a darkness streaked with saronite green and necromantic purple. I am not. Instead I huddle under the weight of half a dozen wolf furs as Master stand statuesque on the Wall. She doesn’t move, she doesn’t blink. All she does is stare down on the Kingdom of Oblivion, now boxed in by the Argent Crusade. The black stone wall, dotted with shining braziers, are the line drawn in the sand. Here the kingdom ends.

Why am I here?

Down there the moths shuffle close, and then a watchman yells “Mot’ on’na range!”. Then the acketi-acketi-acketi-ack-ack-ack starts. Gnomish weaponry, arcane-infused caliber .50 semi-automatic turrets with targeting systems salvaged from Ulduar.

Those poor fucks, shuffling towards the light, down there on the plain, they don’t stand a chance. You know what the worst part is? It’s not the yell about moths. It’s the cheering, once the guns fall silent. While the living celebrate another victory, all I can feel is sorrow. I huddle down behind a turret and stare into the darkness below. I see it all, taunting in the vastness behind my eyeline.

I could be out there. I am not. I want to be out there. I am not allowed.

Tim the Geist is sad. Tim the Geist is dead inside. The one thing that made my rotten heart jump and skip has been taken away from me. Gul’Dans minions in the Citadel took my Morissa from me. She was my hope, my east and west, my north and south. I wish the clocks would stop, I would blot out the stars and cover the world in darkness – if I could. I can’t. I’m just a geist. A construct, a lifing thing with hope – and then the Legion took it away. Just like that. (I was later told my Morissa went down fighting, death knight to the last, biting and clawing when her swords broke. She took sixhundred and twenty five Iron Horde orcs with her. That, my friends, is the power of death!)

This latest state of almost dead but not quite, now that my brain is still, has brought some unforseen consequences. I get cold now, eventually. The cold never bothered me before – but that was in the past. Now? I’m … lifing.

I told you about the Panic, didn’t I? Yes I did. I told you about the Shakes, the Chittering. What followed was the Dead Calm. One after another of my bodyparts stopped longing for death and settled down. That’s “lifing”. When the dead tissue lose its morphic memories and the wheel turns … and then Life starts to come back. It’s a very rare condition among the Scourge. It used to be that anyone caught “lifing” was instantly destroyed – but Master saved me. She took me away from the Scourge. She …liberated me. Yet. Master is just my friend. She is not my lover. Morissa redeemed me. Morissa turned the light on inside me. She was the brazier on the Wall. I was drawn to it, memories of sunsets … Then the Legion snuffed it out. What kind of monster would take away life from those who are already dead?

The call came some time ago. That’s why we’re here. Something was and is in motion, deep within the Citadel, towering over this Kingdom of the Scourge. I don’t know what, I’m a good spy but I can’t breach the holy wards surrounding either Hearthglen or the Icecrown outposts. So Master, a “liason” between the Argent Crusade and the Ebon Blade, stands still and stares into the darkness over yonder. So I, Tim the Geist, who wants to cry but can not cry because tear ducts was never installed, huddle under furs. Geist has the sads, as Isel would put it. Ah, yes, Isel … Geist has the sads. Not just for my Morissa. Geist has the sads everytime the monstrous anger of the guns and the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle patter out their one and only truth:

“Mot’ on’na range!”

The pit-a-patter starts and there are no bells for those who die as cattle. Down there, in the Kingdom of the Scourge.

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The Portrait (Happy holidays)

theGang

(This will be a really hard read. I love fragmented dialogue, where there’s no ‘pointers’ to who says what. I know, it’s way to experimental for a ‘real’ book but this is my blog and here I let my brain go wild.

If anyone manage to figure out who says what you have earned 10.000 bonus points.)

From left to right: Kittyanna (enhancement shaman, mail main character), Vizannah (shadow priest), Shú (pandaren combat rogue), Ravennah (windwalker monk), Zaliss (feral druid), Cáthy (destruction warlock), Cahanna (arcane mage, cloth main character), Ashannah (enhancement shaman), Shuanna (retribution paladin, plate main character), Mehanna (retribution paladin), Zavannah (frost death knight, second main plate character), Vassannah (shadow priest, second cloth main character), Loomalt (bank mule), Savenna (fury warrior), Sharenne (destruction warlock, third cloth main character), Caliss (combat rogue), Laveria (blood elf combat rogue), Ishannah (protection paladin), Dorry (Forsaken arcane mage), Cassanna (survival hunter).

Now …

_On with the show!_

– – – – –
“We ready?”
“Guess so … Rave, stop looking at that panda!”
“Shi-iit sis … Always bugging me.”
“What’s that smell?”
“Dark Lady watch over y…”
“Dorry!? I thought I told you explicitly not to show up for christmas?”
“I am the Ghost of Christmas past … ”
“Uh, uh, hello? Anyone give me a footstool or something!?”
“WHO BROUGHT THE PANDA!!?”
“That’s racist!”
“It is?”
“I’m a panda-ren. My name is Shú.”
“Seriously?”
“Yep!”
“So this is what it’s like in the Alliance then … ”
“Who invited the blood elf!?”
“That … would be me. Come on, Shu. She’s adopted too. Sort of. The paperwork haven’t gone through yet but …”
“EVERYONE!!! SHUT!!! UP!!!”

*silence*

*Then … *

“I just want to say that … ”
“Now what!? You! Blood elf! Stop trying to snatch our wallets! Damned rogues …”
“Hey! That’s … Can we Please get this photo going? I’m expected in Darnassus. Zaliss! No! BAD CAT!!!”
“I … I can’t help it. If I see a sofa I need to scratch it … ”
“Stop being a cat, for just a few moments, ok?”
“Zaliss, keep your sister on a tight leash, please.”
“Miau!”
“Oh Light … Change form, pl-eease!”

*poof!*

“Ooh, I look good in leather!”
“Oh yes you do … I don’t think I’ve ever had a night elf dr…”
“Vassie, stop flirting with the adopted one. She family!”
“I can’t help it. It’s the cleavage …”
“GET ON WITH IT!!!”
“Thank you, Zavvie. It takes a death knight to bring order.”
“Awww, I knew you liked me Shu, even though you pretend not to.”
“Ha ha! The pally is softening up!”
“Shut the fuck up, warlock.”
“We’re such a nice family … ”
“Everyone!? Get it together! We’re supposed to be heroes!”
“I’m more like a project manager these days …”
“Shut it, Save.”
“You’re making me angry … ”
“You don’t need more rage. You’re already red.”
“I … oh.”
“Right, everyone? We’re all done? Thank you!”
“Let’s do this!”
“GOOD!!! Now. Say cheese!”

*blooompfh*

Happy holidays from the Exodar Sisters!

Sins of Our Fathers, Part I (Shuanna)

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Her grip hardens as she sees him. The true iron reinforced leather gloves creak, like an old sofa, as she tightens the grip of the hilt. Perhaps it’s the sound of Shuannas gloves that makes him aware of her. Perhaps he heard her horse, a long time earlier. Either way – he don’t care. He just keeps staring into the fire, hunched down. At long last, when the silence between them becomes to much for both of them, he says:

“So … You’ve come to kill me?” He looks at her, just a glance over his shoulder. “You got away, eh? I figured you would.”
“Father … ”
“Leave me alone. Or kill me. Just get it over with, whatever you want.”
“I … I … ” she sighs, lets the mace drop and takes a careful step forward. He reeks. Unwashed, old blood stains on his leather robes and skin. There’s the stench of Broken, seeping out of his pores. His hands are mishapen, worse yet – his face is … it’s a monster in front of her. It would be a mercy to cave his head in but she can’t.

“How did you find me?” he says, stoking the fire with a branch, watching it smolder. Eventually he digs out a bone pipe and lights it. Dreamfoil and Felweed creates a greyish smoke around him, tinged with yellow that smells like rotten eggs.
“I went to the Aldor,” she says.
“Ah!” He smacks his lips. “The fucking aldor. Well, then.”
“I shouldn’t have come … ”

“No! You shouldn’t!” He turns at her, growling. Thick saliva drips from the corner of his mouth, his eyes are ablaze with drugs and primal rage. For a second or two it looks like he’s about to attack her, but then he shrugs. He sighs deeply and says with a far away tone, as if he’s dreaming: “I tried, I did try you know … I got you out of the lower levels, didn’t I? All of you, all of you brats … you know I worked my ass off to support you. That seed factory I married kept popping you out like fucking candy. Never a son, always … Always … I tried hard, you know. Sure I did. Couldn’t run fast enough tho’, the mist, the red mist …” He glares at her. “I swore I would purge Draenor of the orcs … but there’s no end to them. Once I’m done with them I’ll come after you. All of you. You … Destroyed me!”
“Please, father … Come with me? The Prophet, he ca–”
“VELEN CAN’T FIX WHAT’S BROKEN AND YOU KNOW IT GIRL!!!” He takes a deep breath for control. “You know it, deep down inside. We’re gonna break, all of us. You … Vassie … Ish. The Legion won, you see? They found a way to defeat us without having to kill us. They took away … our Light.”
“You can still remember it, can’t you? The light? You can remember the l–”
“THE LIGHT ABANDONED IT’S CHAMPION!!! Now leave this place! And Never Return! If you do, I’ll kill you all! I’ll Kill you! KILL YOU!!!”
He lunges at her, she grabs the mace with one hand and swings.

 

 

“Did you find your father, child?” the High Priestess Ishanah of the Aldor asks some time later.
“No … ” Shuanna averts her eyes. Everyone knows she’s lying, of course they do, but everyone also knows that she fixed a Major Problem. Fallen vindicator Haarkan was a friend of no one, a crazy old man in a forgotten cave in northern Terokkar. He killed indiscrimenately. Orcs, draenei, beasts, ogres … adventurers.
“Light be with you, vindicator Shuanna of the Exodar.”
“Pray for me, will you? I don’t know if it will help but … ”
“We will.”

Shuanna turns and is about to leave the temple when High Priestess Ishanah says: “Have you found your sister yet, vindicator?”

Shuanna stops, she turns halfway around. She tries not to smile but she does, and it’s not a very good smile.

“Which one?”
“Ishannah.” High Priestess Ishanah smiles. “I like that name.” She chuckles. “I’m honored to bear the name of your sister.”
“Two N, high priestess,” Shuanna turns around and nods. “A small but important detail.”

High Priestess Ishanah laughs. It’s crystal clear and loud. Several anchorites look up from their books and work, some of them frown. The Aldor are divided, because the strangers from the other side of the portal are still considered to be … peculiar. It’s been years since they first came but it’s not something someone gets used to. There’s been so many strangers …

“A wise man, covered in fur, once said to me: “Details, details!” Ishanah smiles. “We are still getting used to seeing these … oh Light, what are they called …”
“Pandaren?”
“Ah, yes! Yes! pandaren!” She chuckles. “I think we could learn a great deal about faith from these strange … creatures.”
“Yeah, well … Ish is still … I’m still looking for her, got a couple of leads. I’m working closely with a … a temporal operative.”
“Caliss? The night elf?”
“You know of her?”
“All of Shattrath knows of her. I spoke with her a long time ago. She is your sister too, no?”
“Adopted. It’s complicated.”
“Life is complicated … ”
“Eh.” Shuanna chuckles. Then she takes a deep breath. “I never figured out the timeline stuff. I mean, Kadghar tried to explain but … well you know. Cannie’s the only one who understand stuff like that. If I can’t hit it, I’m lost. This is now, I know that. When Caliss was here, I … I guess it was before?”
“Then, now, eh. The Aldor will always be here.”
“Just don’t stay too long.” Shuanna tries not to smile, but she does. It looks and feels out of place. “This world is fucked and if you don’t know it yet so are you.”

She leaves.

The Lament of Farmhand Geist: The intricacies of life, death and love

 

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I met Death two clicks south of Embari Village. Master had gone down there to buy spices, she’s taken a liking to cooking lately. Hot food, not cold cuts nor maggots (you should try some of those, the pickled one’s are great with starflower gravy, even Blook likes them!). As is my habit I sort of trailed behind her.

I know, I know … Master don’t like me shadowing her but the thing is I feel a lot more safe within a distance from Master than I feel when she’s in Tanaan and I’m on my lonesome here in the garrison. It’s just the way the soldiers glare at me … some of them, like sergeant Cranbrook and corporal Payre, they were at the Wrathgate. They have a hard time accepting redeemed scourge. I understand, it can’t be easy for them. My brethren fed on their dead friends and I guess that’s not something you forget.

I’m going to tell you about Death some other time. It won’t be pretty. I am a monster, and sometimes the only thing that can save a little girls life is a monster. Yes … Isel. That’s her. She got herself in trouble. I’m sorry for what she saw, but it’s a cruel world and I guess the young one’s needs to be tempered. I couldn’t let them take her. Agriok would agree (why would anyone hurt an old orc with half a face? I simply don’t understand).

Skinning corrupted draenei is another tale. Instead, there’s some other things I need to say. The living intrigue me more than they scare me. I know I can never be one of them, but I also know that I can be one for them. Because for some of the living, death is comforting. Some of them can’t wait to … well. Most of the times they’re the young one’s. It’s sad really. War is Hell, eh? I cut them down and Vassannah says a few words over them and then Prackrett and Moldaire, they’re the grave diggers, starts shoveling. The commander writes the letters, of course she does. ‘They died a heroes death, for the glory of the Alliance’ and all that.

The commander cries a lot. No one but me and Thorne knows about it. The other day we lost six ships in a major battle. Lieutenant Thorne had her clerks work triple shifts writing letters. She asked Eric Broadoak, the scribe, to fashion a stamp with the commanders signature, because signing two thousand six hundred letters … that’s a lot.

She cried as she stamped the letters. Wiping her cheek, stamp. Whiping away tears, stamp. In the end Thorne grabbed the commanders wrist and wrestled the stamp out of her hands. Thorne stamped the last four hundred letters.

I watched from the shadows. Then I listened outside the commanders door. Sometimes I hear her moan and cry out, usually when she, you know, have company. this time I heard her sob. I wanted to give her something, but what can the dead give the living?

Nothing.

I snuck away eventually. No one saw me. No one heard me. No one knew that the commander was grieving … Because no one but me can listen without being noticed. If she did notice me, she didn’t show it. Thorne gave me one of her looks, the “I know you’re listening, Tim“-look, but she didn’t say anything.

Perhaps the commander wants me to listen. Perhaps she want me to hear her come, hear her cry, and scream, and rage. The commander is a very, very scared draenei. She was once a slave in the Pit of Saron – and not even ghouls can forget that place.

I don’t know for sure. I want to help her but I don’t know how, because, you know? Right? It’s like Ariok told me once: “Death won’t help solve the problems and nightmares of the living. You die, but what of the rest of them? Your sister, mother, your loved one? They’ll be the one’s left with the ‘why’ and the grief, geist.

I think Ariok is right. There’s a lot of sorrow in this garrison … this war has gone on for far too long. I also know this: The commander is very, very, lonely. She’s got all her sisters around her, but even though she’s got a family, she’s lonely. And scared.

(I once saw her grit her teeth as she cut herself. She has many scars down her left leg. I don’t understand why she does it, but I’m dead … ish.)

Just like most of the people in this garrison, the commander is one of the living. The death knights don’t really feel at home here, so they stick to themselves. I’m caught in between – I want to be alive, but I can not be alive. No matter how hard I try. I’m a construct … but I am in love, nevertheless. I love a Knight of Death. My Morissa …

The living though … I try to understand them. I try to be kind to them. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. I spied on sergeant Cranbrook a couple of days ago. I brought him a case of fine draneei malted wine the other night, when I heard him behind the fishing shack. He was crying, you see (Morissa tells me that the living men don’t cry unless they think no one can see or hear them; it’s ‘a guy thing’, she says – I don’t know what that means). I spied on him at first and I couldn’t quite understand why he was staring at a portrait. Then he started crying. It was very peculiar. Sergeant Cranbrook is, as they say, “a man of steel and grit“. He, as they say, “chews glass and piss barbed wire“. He is very … tough. He’s the only one who have won over Blook in arm wrestling, not even Tomok could do that!

Cranbrooks secret was known to everyone but me. Go figure, eh? I guess I’m not the spy I used to be, or maybe it was nothing important. I don’t know how I missed it, but I did – and what I missed was this: I didn’t know that men could love men the way men can love a woman. I blame my scourged brain (it’s addled with memories of a very handsome night elf that apparently was quite well endowed). There’s a lot of wonderous and strange things about the living that i have yet to understand … never mind that I’m, as some of the living calls it, “a meatpie”. Apparently the female … you know … sort of, uhm … looks like … never mind. Love is some weird shit.

Ha! Mmmhaa haa! Haaaa!

(Sorry.)

I brought Cranbrook the goods I told you about. He was quite suprised. Once we were past that embarassing moment where he tried to stab me with his sword yelling “for Bolvar!” and me screaming “I am redeemed! Honestly!” things settled down. Chao, it’s a pandaren mercenary who found that fishing is a lot better than killing so he hooked up (excuse the pun) with Nat, came running and almost went martial palms on ol’ Cranbrook. I, on the other hand, was crouching down, trying my very best to be as unscourged as I can be. It’s not an easy thing to do for a geist, you know, even though I was wearing my pink dress (no, no! Don’t you dare poke fun at me!). We’re sort of scary, okay?

Chao was standing there between me and Cranbrook and said: “What’s this then?”
“That monster … ” Cranbrook said.
“Mmmaahaaahaa!?” I said. now that I think about it, i should have been more vocacious, I guess. As it turned out though, Cranbrook had a sense of humour. Once we battled it out – and I dare say, I was very proud of my ‘and never try and judge me dude, you don’t know what the fuck i’ve been through!‘ – we became slightly more friendly than before. Cranbrook has a very big laugh. It rattles your bones. He said, he did:

“Well, girl, that’s the fucking truth. I have yet to come back as some kind of fucking bodypart sale from a fucking slaughterhouse!”
“I happen to be a specimen of extreme importance,” I said, because I felt slighlty hurt. I tossed my hair (thankfully, the blonde whig stayed on my scalp). “I was scourged before it became popular.”

Cranbrook laughed at this. I don’t understand why.

Then we spoke about death. I’m an expert, after all. You see, the living … well, they try not to think about it. They know they’ll die, of course they do, but they try not to think about it. Other things they try not to think about is the fact that they might die in a far off land, a long, long way from the one they love. The more they try not to think about it, the more they think about it. The living are weird like that. I’ve tried to think about it but I always end up shrugging and muttering a short “eh, I’m already deadish”. I just can’t understand it.

Cranbrook told me he was dead inside. I told him he was clearly in the wrong, because his blood was pumping and he still drew breath. He told me there is more to life than a hearbeat. I wanted to ask him what he meant, but he started to cry again and … well. It made me feel uncomfortable. I once was tasked with repurposing a young man we caught not far from Valliance Keep. He cried as I slit his throat (we needed his head intact so I had to convince Gerry the Ghoul not to use the Giant Mace). It made me feel, well, to be perfectly honest?

I felt nothing.

Then.

That was before I was redeemed!

I asked Morissa, she’s my girlfriend now (I asked her one day if it was alright and she said “yeah, sure, ’cause Miall don’t really like the idea of fucking a corpse” … Morry is a bit, you know, morbid, or so the living claim.) Uhm … Yeah, anyway!

I asked her the other day why people like Cranbrook think that they’re already dead when they’re clearly alive. She said, she did:
“It’s the letters from home, Tim.”
“Letters?”
“Letters, starting with ‘Dear John’ … ” then she kind of trailed off. Then she added, in a sort of hurting, dreamy voice: “Or … or ‘Dear Jane’.” She gave me a quick glance. “My full name is Jannaeh Morissa, you know, my friends used to call me Jane or Janny.” Then she stared right in front of us, as if she was staring at nothing, muttering something about “that fucking cunt” (I know what a cunt is because Kel’Thuzad gave me one but I don’t know what she meant, I mean, we’ve sort of been doing it in our own slow way, and .. uhm … Oh, right. Sorry).

She was a bit agitated. I decided to sidetrack her, I don’t know why, it just … felt like it was needed. So I said: “But Sergeant Cranbrook is called James?”
“When a man … ” Morissa sighed deeply. “Or a woman … When you get a letter like that,” she smiled at me, plucking grass out of my whig (we had been cavorting, let’s leave it at that), “it’s always a dear John, Tim. Or Jane.”
“Why would anyone send anyone a letter that would make anyone so sad they have to cry in secret or wish they were a geist?”
“Because that’s life. It’s sadness between moments of happiness.”
“Then why would they live?”
“Because those moments of happiness is what life is all about.”
“Death is easier,” I stated, nodding so hard my head nearly fell off. My brain hurt right then, because my brain, with it’s morphic memories, didn’t agree. It’s complicated being a geist.
“Being dead is not easy,” Morissa said, she sounded slightly tense. then she smacked me over my head.. “You spent five hours with me before you even made me moan!”
“Oh …”
“Right.”
“Do you think if we kill Cranbrook, he’ll be …”

But from the look on her face I knew I was wrong.

Casualty of War – Wodans Story

WoWScrnShot_112815_062915“Dey be havin’ a dog up dere, boyo, re’mber?” He grabs the head between his hands. “Ye not goin’ sleepin’ on me now, are ye?” He slaps that pale face. There’s just the smile, facial muscles drawn back, showing teeth. Then the barely audible words:
“Not like this … ”

Wodan rolled over in bed, opened his eyes and couldn’t quite remember where he were. For a few seconds the face of a human in a trench at the Iron Front lingered in front of his eyes. Then the nightmare was over. Then the room came back. The stone walls adorned with animal skins. The fireplace, big enough to drive a steamtank through. The desk, the cupboard, the bearskin on the floor. A clutter of stone- and porcelain figurines. Hulma collected them. Some of those figurines came all the way from Lordaeron and would probably sell for three or four chests full of gold. They weren’t rich, not even well off, she had “collected” her figurines the way adventurers do. Yet they never even thought about selling them, even if every week was a struggle. Some things are simply too precious, be it love or tiny little unicorns some long forgotten human artist once crafted before the Scourge came and claimed them all.
Somewhere outside a shrill gnome voice shouted“Bread from tha ovin! C’ome n’ get it fre-eesh!”. Then he saw Hulma, sitting on a chair next to their bed, holding his hand.

“Wh’e’am’I!?” He struggled to sit up, at first he couldn’t but then he did. He sighed deeply. “Muradin’s beard, lass. That was a bad one ’twas.”
“Come now, my lil’ murogh ram, come now … ” she leaned over and kissed him on the sweaty scalp. “Ju’s a ‘mare, love. Tea’s reddy.”
“Aye,” he said, and swallowed hard. “Jus’ a mare. Tea?”
“‘t’ill be mornin’, love. ye slept for two days ye did. Had to help ye with the chamber pot. Jus’ piss, nuthin’ solid. Ye were drunk as a skunk when ye came ‘ome, love.”

He blushed, slumped down back into bed and wasn’t sure if he should hide under the blankets or cry. He closed his eyes – just for a second. Then he opened them, gasping. Because it was there. Everytime he closed his eyes he saw the tusks, less than an inch from his face. Everytime he closed his eyes he saw the froth, tinged with blood and fel. Then he plunged his sword into flesh and pushed the fel orc away.

Even with open eyes, sometimes you won’t escape the images. As he lay there in bed it all came crashing back, tea or no tea waiting.

“KILL YOU!!! KILL YOU!!!”

A brute of an orc, jumping right across the trench. The monster came down with a thump right in their midst. Wodan threw himself clear of the clutching hands but Duncan was too slow.

Then the rangari arrows came, blotting out the sky. Then there was an almost naked draenei woman, falling from Light knows where, slamming a crystal mace into the orc, screaming incoherently. Wodan saw a black panther dart off into the sky, magical energies trailing behind, roaring like a wilderbeast. Then the orc was dead. The draenei spat blood, turned her fierce white eyes on Wodan and roared. He had never heard such a voice. It was feral, almost like a demon.

“KILL ‘EM ALL!!! KILL ‘EM ALL!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!!”

Her voice broke on the last syllables. Then she ran away across the battlefield, brilliant light engulfing her, the ground ablaze with holy power. He saw Gul’Dans minions burst into white flames, screaming as they ran and ran … and died.

She slaughtered them all. Reveling in it. Hate incarnate.

“Light have mercy,” he mumbled.
“Woody!” There was a painful shriek. “Woody help!” Then Duncan, fifteen years old, no taller than Wodan, was twitching, twitching, twitching … shitting himself.

“Mom! Mommy!”
“It’ll be ar’ite laddie, healers be here any secon’.” He cradled the boy, trying to stem the bloodflow with his hands but it kept pumping out. “’tis not so bad, fix’er rite up for sure!”
“Mom … Mom!?”
“Ye frem Goldshire, ain’t ye?”
“Yeah … It hurts … ”
“Look at me laddie!”
“It’s so cold … Mummy!?”
“”Dey be havin’ a dog up dere, boyo, re’mber?”
“I … Mom? Mommy?”
“A dog, laddie! Ye not goin’ sleepin’ on me now, are ye?”
“Not like this … ” Then his eyes stopped moving. He kept the smile, facial muscles.
“Dun! Dun! Dun boyo! D’ent ye give me the zee now, boy! Dun! DUNCAN!!!”

For some reason he chuckled, laying there in his bed in Ironforge. It wasn’t a pleased chuckle, more like a sound somewhere between a gasp and a cry but it came out as a laugh. He turned his head to Hulma, smiling even though he wasn’t sure if it was joy or fear that made him grin. For a few moments Duncan lingered in the corner of his eye – so was the draenei woman. The crazy one. Then it came to him – he knew her.

“’twas the commander, love,” he said, wiping sweat from his face with both of his palms. “Ye know the tech them etereal or whatcha call ’em ‘ave. She was wearing green she was. One crazy cunt that one, you jus’ don’ wanna know.”
“Was it bad?”
“Aye … ” He sighed deeply and sat up, heaving his legs out of the bed. “’twas very bad, love. Not forgettin’ nothin’, not.”
“Ye shoul’ talk to the priest, love.”
“Phah!” He grunted. “Whatch’er can do, eh? Can’t erase me mem’ry can she?”
“Ye can’t bottle it up, love. Ye know me uncle, yeh?”
“Me not crazy, lass!”
“Ye will be ‘f’yer not talk to some’un.”

There are defining moments in everyone’s life. Wodans moment happened right there. He stood up, feeling the blood heating up his face. He pulled back his left arm and was about to swing, palm first, when he just froze. He saw her eyes widen, her mouth drop in a shocked “oh!”.

He ran across the room, crouched up in a corner and hid behind his own arms, desperate not to cry – but he did. Retching, deep, shaking screams through tears and snot.

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“I we’nt be free of this, will I?” he said at long last, looking up at nothing, seeing not Hulma but an almost naked draenei, shimmering in front of him.
“No,” she said.
“Then me done for … ”
“Love?” Hulma, her voice low, almost subdued. Yet she reached out with a hand and very gently stroked his beard and head. “It’ll be a’right, love … ye get some tea first, then we go to the priest, yes?”
“Aye … ” he nodded, lowering his arms even though he still wanted to hide. That terrible, terrible visage of an almost naked draenei was still lingering in front of his eyes. “Aye, roe, y’er right, like always.”
“In the light … “the phantom draenei slowly faded away, giving a wink and a smile. “we are one.”
“Ye think I’ll be a’right someday, don’ ye?”
“Aye.”
“’twas a terrible war, roe.”
“War will always be here,” she smiled, leaned close and kissed his lips, dry from fear and panic. “Love will always be here. Ye live with either one but not both of ’em.” She leaned her forehead against his. “I be rite at ye’ side, me murogh ram. Rite at ye side.”
“Ye know sum’thin, lass?”
“What?”
“Sometimes, ye don’t have ta die to be a casualty of war.”

Dainty Rose

“The idea had been growing in my brain for some time: TRUE force. All the king’s men cannot put it back together again.” Jocey spits a string of phelgm. “Know what I’m sayin’, girl? My ol’ pa was one of the masons, you know. They fuckin’ ruled this place. King’s still owe me backpay, y’know.” She straightens up, flips her hair, tries to sound healthy and happy as the night elf pass by. “He-eeey! Han’some, amma lookin’ for a par— yeah go on the fuck get goping then, you fucking jerkoff tree fucking hugger!”

She swings from moody to insane in seconds. Jocey is a Real Ess Three, as we call them. Stage three. She’ll be dead in a couple of weeks. Me, I’ve been careful, so far. I haven’t got scourged, not yet anyway. Nah, it’s not the scourge scourge. you won’t get what Jo got from bad grain. You’ll get it from fucking. Healers are pretty much baffled ’cause nothing they try actually works.

Oh, I’m sorry. You didn’t know that, did you? Well, see, some diseases are so terrible that the kings court don’t even talk about them. Besides, it’s mostly sailors, skanks and soldiers that got it.

So far …

(Jocey slept with the son of a noble last night, gone slumming. He’ll be coughing in a couple of days. Trust me.)

Jocey coughs. I don’t like her cough, it sounds like death. She runs a fever. Beads of sweat drips from her hairline, getting caught in her eyebrows. I always assumed night elves were immune to human diseases. You know, if Jocey can catch the plague, what about me?

I try not to think about it. I light a clay pipe – mostly tobacco, because fireweed is expensive – and drag deep. The few grains of fireweed makes my head a little like cotton. Couple of nights ago I managed to snag a draenei trader. He’s known for carrying contraband weed from Draenor. Shit’s good, yo. Tonight it’s simple leaves, he’s gone back to the Big Dee. I miss him, even though he wanted me to dress in a plaid skirt and call him daddy.

“Should’a gone to Westfall when Van was there,” Jocey mumbles. “Should’a … ”

I just nod. Jocey is drunk and sick. She always talks big when drunk and with her fever, well, you know. The only reason I still stand next to her is because she’s my friend. She’s taught me everything. I mean it – everything. I always remember her truths. I won’t ever forget them. There’s just three of them but on the street you got three seconds to make a decision.

It’s a life or death decision, too.

First truth: The Death Knight is the best, male or female doesn’t matter. Death Knights just wants to talk. Sometimes you have to rub them but they really don’t get off from it. They just want to be touched, down there, you know? Get a Death Knight and you won’t have to work for the rest of the night. Just listen, or pretend to listen. Look closely though. Some of ’em wants to hurt you. You know it when you see it. If you don’t it’ll be too late. I’ve been lucky, I’ve only met the talking dead. I always listen to them.

Some people have a lot of words inside them and no one to tell them to.

Second truth: Dwarves are the second best. They never want the “full one”. They’ll be embarassed the whole time. Male dwarves push themselves to come as fast as they can just so they can get out of the situation. Female dwarves fake it. They handle drink just fine, and most of them are so drunk that they’ll pass out before anything happens.

If you want a good nights sleep, get a dwarf.

Third truth: Wax. Yeah, wax is important. Bees wax. You heat it up a bit, then shape it anyway you want. Jocey usually apply one of her lacerations to her forehead. I prefer to just dot some stuff on my lips. Oh right, you wonder why? See, it’s simple: If you look sick you won’t get anyone but Death Knights. They don’t care if you’re stage three because honestly – nothing can be as bad as their so called life. Boils and wounds keep humans away, especially the hu-men. I’m pretty good with the wax and chicken fat.

“Check him out,” I say, nodding at the draenei coming up the street. He’s got a leather backpack slung across a shoulder and his eyes are big, suprised. “First timer, girl.”

I saunter up to him, reach out with a hand and gently tug at his pale blue mage robe.

“Hey, han’some.” He looks down on me. I see it in his eyes. It’s always the same look. A profound suprise. As if he never knew he even had thoughts like that. “I’ll be your girl if you want me to.”

“I … ” He stops, mostly because of the braying voices from across the street. The Slugs Head Inn at Harbor Lane is not a place you want to pass by if you’re not human.

“Go back to the void you fucking demon!”

An empty bottle crash against the pavement. A throng of laughing men outside the inn holds up a rope.

“Don’t mind them,” I say. “Some people don’t change, eh.”

I can’t believe what I see. The tenderfoot bluey strides across the street, hunching his shoulders. Halfway across the street he … darkens. Then things happen very fast. I just watch from the other side of the street, mesmerized, shocked. Such power … I will never forget the screams as the painful words of shadow seared the simple minds of hateful men. He leaves them there outside the pub, writhing in pain, as he cross the street and returns to me. He looks down on me, smiles and say:

“Get rid of the wax on your lips and we’ve got a deal. What’s your name?”

I strike a pose. Gotta sell the wares, right?

gnome_ptute

“I’m Rose.”

The Dark Night

This is not in any way related to World of Warcraft. Some time ago I jotted down an “as is”-thing, a rather poorly written opening to something … and then I buried it, because honestly? It was just bad. The idea didn’t leave me entirely. Since I’m not well versed in contemporary stuff – I find a lot more freedom in making up my own facts! – the story below sort of transformed … into something else, than that first very bad draft.

I’m actually rather pleased with how it turned out. Should you be so inclined, please take fifteen minutes or something and read it.

Oh.

Don’t mention O’Leary.

(Seriously. Don’t.)

I think this is the beginning of a grand adventure … it’s one of those ideas that traveled through space, like narativium do, and lodged itself in this scared piece of fatty tissue of mine.

The Dark Night.

(Yeah, it’s a working title, but I had to call it something!)

– – –

Deliah have never seen the dark night.

She’s right though. Nights come slow in these parts. Every night, as if it was shy, sorry to trespass on another day, even if it was grim or rainy or dry or hot. Sure, there’s plenty of different days – but there’s just one night in these parts.

The dark night.

It rolls down the mountainside like an avalanche of darkness. The daylight struggles, of course it does, but this is a battle the Light will lose. The burning brightness of day turns golden in that first frantic battle. Then it turns red, blood red. Then the night comes. Far, far away the glare of big cities paint an everlasting sunset against the horizon, but here … yes, here there’s just the night.

The night is the blanket of the world. It’s a quilt, sewn by hands who know nothing of the day. It’s rolls down across our little town. ”That’s how it’s always been” people in these parts say. Some people say ”It’ll be morning soon …”. They know what it means, you see. It means another day.

With a bit of luck, it’s a new day for everyone.

It’s curious how people, who knows that the night is dark and dreary as they dream of O’leary, whisper ”nevermore”.
That’s a secret! Don’t tell anyone! O’Leary … we don’t speak of O’Leary. They say, in these parts, that if you say his name three ti–

Oops.

Yet some people like the night. Some people are a bit weird (or so the other people claim, the people of the day). The temperature drops, sometimes it rains even though the day was clear and sunny. The smell of daylight shifts to the smell of night, as if nature herself did some housecleaning. The night smell better than the day. The night smells clean.
The streetlights come on at nine o’clock. It’s always been that way. The first streetlight was installed in 1781, it was an iron basket filled with firewood. A ”mr Pryttchard” was responsible for lighting it. It was supposed to keep the indians out.
It didn’t.

There’s quite a nice display made out of tin soldiers and styrofoam in the library if you want to know more about the massacre of 1786.

These days, and for a long time back, it’s been eletricity. The first electrical streetlight was installed in 1928 and since then there’s been thousands of them. All of them light up at exactly 2100 hours. It used to be that our little town bathed in light but people complained. These days, the streetlights are perfect. They shine upon the pavement in circles of light and the darkness reigns between them.

The system works, so there’s no reason to change the rules (even though night comes earlier in winter than in summer). When night falls, the display windows of the stores, those who got it, turn on their night lights. It used to be that all stores had spotlights in their windows. It used to be that Main Street looked like christmas shopping season, all year around. These days most of the storefronts have aluminum shutters. No more lights, sir, oh no. Just flood lights that come one if someone moves past a motion detector. Like everyone else, we’re scared of terrorists and thieves. Some people blame ”the kids”, others the Hollands (they’re from Away, and they’re black, and in these parts old habits die hard), but such people always find someone to blame and hate.

Pritchards Autos is resplendant with it’s lights, all through the night. Red and green and blue and yellow. Neon signs. Hanging wires so heavy with lightbulbs they sag a good two feet between the chromed steel poles. Lee Pritchard – he can trace his family back to the Light Keeper, Oliver Pryttchard – says it’s a customer support thing. People don’t know this because Pritchard have never told anyone but his husband, now deceased.

He’s afraid of the dark.

His lot is brightly lit. Someone might be passing by and glance at the cars. Maybe they’re walking the dog. Maybe they’re coming back from Pat Malloy’s, walking slowly like people with too much beer and not enough brains usually do. Maybe they spot a car, right then and there in the night. Maybe they want that car.

Well. They can’t have it, not right away.

There’s a chainlink fence around the parking lot. The two story red brick building, with ”PRITCHARD MOTORS & REPAIRS” painted on the wall between the first and second floor windows, have floodlights mounted on it’s slanted roof. Pritchard lives on the second floor. His lights go out around midnight. People think he’sa bit ”quirky”, or ”mad”, because he never remarried even though he’s only fortyfive. Still, someone undoubtedly comes back the next morning – Pritchards is doing good business, even for a small town such as this.

What town, you ask? Ah …

Welcome to Blackwood.

The night rolls in. The streetlights come on. Prichards, Malloy’s, Karpovs Fishing Supplies and a handful of other stores light up their windows. It’s automatic. It used to be the owner or some staff had to turn a switch but you know, that was way back in the 1940’s.

The stores that’s still lit? Those are the stores that trust people in this part of the world. Their buildings sit there, on the edge of the concrete sidewalk, all through the night with the windows lit. Rectangles and squares of multi colored light shimmer upon the sidewalk. When it rains, it’s like looking down a rainbow. In winter, when it snows (it used to snow a lot more), you just wait for Father Christmas to come by. Bells ringing, reindeers and all. It never happens, of course. Father Cee never comes around in his sledge. Even if he does, no one has ever seen him. Here’s a bit of local news for you: In 1963, mr Tim Labroux (he was from New Orleans originally) had his head caved in with a sledgehammer. Labs, as he was called, used to dress up as Santa. It was his wife who did him in. Let’s leave it at that.

Blackwood is otherwise a sleepy little town. Most of the houses goes dark after eleven. The only light you might see is if someone forgot to turn off their computer. There’s not many lights in the windows after midnight. People go to bed early in these parts. Everyone has at least one computer and several other devices but people like the dark in Blackwood. You won’t find much of the blue shadows, not in this town..

Those who are awake, those with the household lamps still on, well … Let’s just say that some people like to talk about those people. Funny that. A hundred miles south you can see the sky ablaze with light from New York Citys arcs, the self-contained small towns in the big city. The largest one, The Trump Arc, is exactly nineteen kilometers high.
Blackwood is rural country though. Time forgot to bring the town into the late twentyfirst century. Look over there, across Main Street. The sign above the doors to Love’s Food is a neon calendar. It spells out the time and date. Right now?
00:26:42. 03 25. 2042. The ”42” after the time is changing of course. 43. 44. 45. 46 …

However, this is an unusual night.

At 00:26:46, the clock on Love’s Food stops.

There’s a light on at 244 Birch Street. It’s an old light. Not many people use that kind of stuff, not these days. The light is glaring. It’s pristine white fluorescents. It spills out through the windows covered with plastic lace curtains and paints rectangles of light on the darkened ground. Tiny pebbles speckled with fool’s gold glimmer on the walkway. The grass appears to be tinged with wite and gold. It’s plastic grass. It’s a bit tacky, sure, but what can you do, eh? Water is expensive these days. Even on the East Coast.

Nathan Rumford lives here. He’s seventysix years old, a retired computer salesman (he started out with Apple). He usually goes to bed at ten thirty, like any decent person in these parts of the world.

Not this night.

He sort of went to sleep two hours ago. He still sits hunched in front of a half eaten bowl of spagetti in tomato sauce, his eyes staring at nothing. That’s why the Rumford House will be available for rent, to ”a woman who is honest, clean and calm. Pets are allowed (no dogs!), good internet connections!”. There will be a telephone number attached to the ad but the ad won’t show up in Weekdays in Blackwood for another three weeks (it’s still a paper newspaper even though they have a site as well). Mr Ferguson, he’s the lawyer in town, will place the ad.

Deliah will call that number.

A damsel in distress

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“She looked like something that might have occured to Ibsen in one of his less frivolous moments.”
― P.G. Wodehouse, Summer Lightning

“Would you please stop that infernal music!” For almost a minute, the band played on. Horns blared, violins squeaked. No one heard the haggard voice over the din of dirges, suited for a recently reanimated slightly fragrant mage. Then: “Stop that infernal din! I haven’t got all day!”

There was a “ploink” as one of the violinists stopped. Then there was a “oomph” as a tuba player sucked his mastiscated lips from a somewhat grimy mouthpiece and stared at the apparition with big, suprised glowing eyes.

“I say,” a flutist said, once the screeching notes came to an end. “Someone doesn’t appreciate the fine a– ouwww!”

Dorry smacked him over the head with her cain. Then she glared at all of them, one after another.

“I am not someone to be trifled with,” she said. “A lady can’t even get some decent sleep around here! Oh no, I just wanted to rest my legs a bit, found a nice hole to do it in, the next thing I know? You! Is this what the world is coming to? Dirges? When I was a girl we used to send our elders off with polka and brandy!”

She shook her cain and took a step into the midst of the band. Several minutes later, most of them rolled around on the ground clutching their aching, seeping heads. Dorry looked around across the fallen, content with a good nights work, and then set off.

“I do hope miss Harrowgate knows that I’m coming,” she muttered. “I’m not going to let Death stop me from her tea party, oh no, you mark my words you little wench … Stealing my betrothed, right under my nose, with those long legs of hers. There’s a name for people like you, young lady! It starts with Ssss …” She stopped, sniffing the air. There was a tang of life somewhere, aha! Over there, hiding in a bush. A night elf, busy with winding up a mechanical construct of some sort. It looked like a harvest golem, a small one. A very scared rat bared it’s teeth at the herald of mechanised doom.

“You there!” Dorry cried out. “Leave that rat alone!”

The night elf startled – and then, in an instant, vanished in a puff of smoke. The tiny harvester scuttled around for a bit before it came to a screeching halt in a cloud of smoke and sparks.

“Beware the living … ” Dorry said. Then she made a “tcch! tchh!”-sound with her lips. The rat thought it over for a few seconds but then realised that the world is a dangerous place. Might as well have a mage as a bodyguard.

“I’m going to call you … Rattus!” Dorry nodded. Rattus said “squeak!”. Dorry made a pleased sound, half a grunt, half a chuckle. Then she hitched up her dress, an heirloom, and set off for the putrescent lights and big underworld of former Lordaeron. “Dark Lady have mercy on your soul, miss Harrowgate. For I certainly wont!”

Full metal rogue

“I am Sergeant Caliss, your senior drill instructor. From now on you will speak only when spoken to, and the first and last words out of your filthy sewers will be “Ma’am”. Do you maggots understand!?”

Kick ’em hard, right from the start. That’s what my ol’ sarge used to say. I couldn’t believe my luck a couple of weeks ago. SI:7 pulled me out of Shat and sent me on some R&R in Darnassus. There’s a compound there for people like me, for Temporal Operatives. I thought I was done working backwards in time. I thought I was done working, period. Girls like me, with frayed sanity and too many citations in the books, we don’t get second chances. Outland came close to breaking me, you know. Sent back to do this or that, back to a world that died a long time ago … and then they pull me out.

I knew I couldn’t be that lucky. Not for long.

I slept for fortyeight hours upon my return, barely woke up for nature’s call. Everything was a haze. I hardly even knew where I were. Then things cleared up a bit. I’ll tell you later about the compound, but first there’s the matter of Junior.

Andrea Rawls, everyone called her Junior. Fourteen years old, ’cause the army has lowered the enlistment age for years now. First Deathwing took a toll out of the body, then Garrosh got his sacrifice. By the time the Iron Horde stormed through the portal, both the Alliance and the Horde was scraping the bottom of the barrel. Over here, the blue and gold, we got it down to science. Twenty years of age became eighteen, then sixteen, then fifteen. Then – fourteen (we call them “boosters”). There’s a rumor that press gangs enlist the aid of mercenaries and rip the kids out of the arms of screaming mothers. Ugly business, for sure. If it’s true or not, well you know, no one fucking cares. Let’s just say that the Goldshire marshall recently bought himself a new house. A big one.

Meat. We need meat. Some live, some die. In the end they’re all meat. We know it. They know it. I saw it in Juniors eyes. Blue eyes, a bit on the watery side like she was about to cry but had forgotten how. Her face was already old, lips clasped together so tight her mouth was but a stripe across her cheeks. White lips. The humans say you can spot a virgin in their eyes. They’re wrong. It’s in the face. Those who smile, those who breathe through slightly moist lips – those are the one’s who dream of fucking. Trust me. So many recruits grabbed their tiny pole that first night, thinking of me. I know it. I heard them. Then again … it doesn’t matter if you got laid or not, because here in Tanaan, well if you don’t know how to kill?

Everyone is fucked.

I’m well trained. I look for that particular face. The killer face. The solemn, already dead, face. The “I have no dreams of a future miss pinkie with my fingertips on the button”-face. I want dead people. That’s the face of someone who will survive. Life have fucked them already. They know they’re dead, time just haven’t caught up with them. Andrea was one of them. You know what we call them?

We call them the Black Guard.

That’s why your first duty is to make them fear you more than they fear Gul’Dans berserkers. Because trust me – no one wants to be the Black Guard. That greeting up there? That’s my tag line. Those young faces with beards that look like black or blonde pinstripes on their pimpled cheeks lose their luster once I’m done with them. Those young meatshields, some of them have never been kissed. Some of them barely have breasts. Meat, all of them. Boys, girls. It doesn’t matter. Andrea bled for the first time right there, grimacing from cramps but still standing. I punched two guys out, one on her left, one on her right, when they snickered. She knew why she was here. I dare say no one else did. She knew …

They were here to die.

Meat. Smiles fade, exitement turns to embarassment or fear. I don’t care about the one’s who get embarassed. They’ll be dead soon. I single out the one’s who grit their teeth. They’ll be dead later – and later is better than soon. They’re here to make my job easier. They’re meat. I’m the knife.

Junior didn’t flinch.

She didn’t smile, or blush. She didn’t step back, not even when blood spread, not even when the cramps turned her face white. She just stared at me with eyes too old for her young face. For some reason that small detail bothered me. A “One Four”, as we call them. She shouldn’t have that kind of eyes … truth be told she scared me. I was like her, once. A long, long time ago …

She had a scar running down the left cheek, from the ear to the chin. It was an old scar, neatly healed, just a white line down her face. I wondered, when I saw her, what could have caused such a scar. You know the grapewine of Lunarfall, I’m sure. Someone heard something, told it to someone and eventually I heard it. Was it true? Nah. A couple of days later during chow I asked Junior about the scar.

“So, you got cut by an orc death knight stealing your farm chickens, huh?”
“Uh-uh.” She never talked much.
“No?”
“Dad gave it to me.” She looked up from the plate of grits and stew and stared at me with those pale, watery blue eyes that was too old for a kid. Then she just shrugged, lowered her eyes and kept on eating. Hammering her knife into the grits.

I found her a couple of weeks later, out in the field. Gul’Dan hit us hard at the Iron Front. If not for the meat those damned green animals would have bumrushed all of us, straight into Talador. Less than a dozen vindicators and a couple of hundred infantry dug in right at the broken gates and held the line. It was enough time for “the specialists” to arrive. Junior was still standing, smack out in the middle of the battlefield. Just a kid, she couldn’t even hold a sword right. I walked up to her, walked straight across the still smoking remains of thousands of dead orcs.

“You alright there, private?” I said.
“I’m in a world of shit,” she said, without looking at me. Then she turned her hollow stare at me and whispered: “Seven, six two inches … “She actually hissed as she raised the sword. “Full. Metal. Jacket.”

Her body armor, simple ghost iron because True Iron was too expensive or the grunts, was covered with blood, soot and chunks of orc meat.

“I live.” She said. “Fuck it.”

Then she dropped her sword and clung to my neck, screaming. I tried not to cry. In the end, I didn’t. I held her, staring into her eyes. Ten thousand yards of staring eyes. She grinned at me, it wasn’t a smile. It was facial muscles, too hard to let go. you know what?

I had the same grin.

This is no war for children. When they grow up, what will they be? The question lingered with me for days on end. They sent Junior back to Karabor, the field hospital there is one of a kind. I put in some paperwork and eventually I heard, through the grapewine, she had been “pulled out”. SI:7 caught her.

Two days later I was pulled out as well. Maybe it was that last thing I did that got the attention of SI:7. Maybe someone just knew I was fed up. I broke the siege of Zeth’Gor. 0430 hours I just stood up behind a barricade and said “fuck it!”. then I walked into that monster of a town and carved, cut and danced. Eyes wide. Lips bared. Grinning.

I Vanished and ambushed. I shed my armor, painted myself with blood and ash. Two hundred, eighty nine dead. Men, women, children. Even their pet beasts. I never caught sight of Kilrogg, the bastard was already holed up in the Citadel. I didn’t even know I wanted to kill him. I just … I just wanted to kill.

I painted my face with ash. I smeared charcoal around my eyes. I danced the dance of death with Kilroggs orcs – naked. You want to know what fear is?

Fear is the smell of sweat, beads of stink on the body of an orc as I gutted him, from the pelvis to the ribs, and then disemboweled him with my bare hands. I force fed brutes with their innards. If anyone tells you night elves are kind … they’re wrong. Hate drove me, rode me, the best lover you can have is the smell of blood, feces and fear. I came as I killed.

They pulled me out. I was “losing it”, as the commander said. They sent me back to Darnassus, the Compound.

The first thing you should know about the Compound is this: On the heavy cloth walls in the house carved out of a tree trunk, someone has adorned the environment with “pleasant thoughts”. It’s wooden boards, filled with sentences like “Time Is A Stream: Swim With It!”. Or “History Is Here And Now!”. Or “Temporal Operatives Saved the World of Today Yesterday!”. Or “No One Ever Dies If you Know What Timeline You Are Sent To!”. Or “Chromie Wants it!”.

Fuck Chromie.

Most of us in the Compound are crazy. Most of us fall back on the simple things in life. Sleep. Food. Sex. Pain. We’re time whores, all of us. Temporal Operatives … I’m pretty sure I fucked myself once, going back in time, taking out a wizard with a quick stab in the back, then laying low … I went to a brothel in Dolanaar. I grew up there, you know. Was it me? I don’t know. She was young, she was scared, I had to hold her down and force her to lick. She did a lousy job and I slapped her.

That was me. Once. Crying as I did it but the sentinel who slapped me … never mind. That was ages ago. I grew up. Two years ago I found her, in Astranaar. I fed her with her ovaries (they never caught me). I told you we’re crazy. just like Junior said, I know this now:

I’m in a world of shit. But I am alive.

Casualty List

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(naval mission losses, including missing from action – MIA – and/or presumed dead):

Ambershine, Sun (passenger)
Blackpaw, Lin (surgeon)
Blixby, Dixx (engineer)
Boltcutter, Dorbin (sailor)
Boltcutter, Corbin (sailor)
Boltcutter, Orbin (2nd grade petty officer)
Brown, Rufus (sailor)
Derek, Dirk (sailor)
Glllgmmrl (Assault diver 1st grade)
Hamaa (sailor)
Hyte, Emma “Lassie” (sailor)
Iramaa (sailor)
Jerome, Carevin (sailor)
Linkgrease, Trinkle (2nd grade engineer)
Mark, Anthony (sailor)
Mordregar, Geralt (petty officer 1st grade)
Nightshadow, Luna (sailor)
Pinkerbosom, Tinky (2nd grade engineer)
Redridge, Jerome “the Mountain” (sailor)
Rinkley, Algar (sailor)
Romley, Gerhardt (sailor)
Scaffold, Urik (sailor)
Shadowhaven, Tyranne (marine)
Serion, Theodore “Laddie” (captains cabin boy)

*****

Failed naval missions comes with a price.

Remember that.