The Lament of Farmhand Geist: Let It Go

God knows ‘twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear…

But I’ve a rendezvous with Death

– Alan Seeger (1888-1916)

WoWScrnShot_122815_142203

I’ve been having these headaches lately. It started shortly after we pushed back Gul’Dans Horde in Tanaan. Other brave soldiers and heroes went into the Citadel and eventually slayed all of the enemies …

I was left outside.

It was the headaches, you see. Master was very worried about me. In fact, she was so worried that she even put in the paperwork for a prolonged term of R&R. As the brave Alliance and Horde heroes alike stormed Hellfire Citadel, Master was back at the garrison with me. She held me down when I screamed. She gave me Fionas peculiar tea when I shook. She sang to me, an ancient eredar lullaby, as I whimpered and cried.

It’s hard to explain to the living, the maladies of the Scourge (redeemed as I am). Not long ago a wave of barfing and lose stomach went through the garrison. Several people, most of them young, died from it. Healers tracked it down to bad water, eventually, but before that happened … well. Let’s just say that the grain merchant from Embarii went back with a black eye and a few extra bruises. People were afraid, you see … so many of the living remembers the Plague. When the living are afraid they become violent.

I didn’t have the human malady of running stomach. My disease was far worse. Few things can kill the Scourge. The Forsaken Wrathgate Plague came close. That was not my thing. My sickness was even more dreadful. A disease all of the Scourge fear … My disease was Panic.

Ah yes, we call it that. Panic. There’s no cure for it. Back in the day, anyone caught with Panic was instantly killed, the remains burned. A panic-diseased Scourge can not be repurposed. Experiments showed it (My Creator did a thesis on it; “On the Topic of Panic, A Naxxramas Experimental Laboratory Study No. 2232”; the Argent Crusade currently keeps the monograph in their archives). I’m not sure of all the stuff, but I do know it comes down to muscle memory. Morphic memory, as it’s also called, is simply too strong. Sometimes, the construct will keep on trembling, shaking, lashing out, fighting back. It’s as if the muscles refuse to die, even though the spirit has died. That’s why the Scourge not only want to break your body – but first break your mind. With fear, with terror, with pain …

With Panic.

Sometimes it works, too. Sometimes it doesn’t. A construct that never gave up will start to shake. Eventually ut will simply fall apart. Sometimes it happens at the moment of resurrection. Sometimes it happens over time. Flesh Giants are particularly prone to Panic, or as it’s also called, the Shakes (among other things).

There is no cure.

Scourge folklore have a lot of cures, of course. None of them actually work. You can’t cure death, can you? The Shakes will kill you, eventually. Oh, we all do our best to ease the pain, right? It’s a nice gesture, no? I love my friends … all of them fear what I turned out to have. Even Master. I heard her cry at night, staring at her trembling hands. I heard her whisper “Menea … I miss you!”.

Master is dying. Then again – all of us are. Some just don’t know it yet or refuse to believe it.

My friends brought me all kinds of things. As I lay there, shivering and shaking, moaning and groaning, there was a parade of friends and gifts, living and dead. Gerry the Ghoul gave me maggots marinated in Lich Bloom. Isel brought me her elekk plushie. Boney gave me a tea, boiled on scrapings of his own bones. Ariok gave me rum. Huge (the Champion!) snuck down to the latrines, brought back his helmet full of piss, drowned a rat in it, spat in it and then boiled it down until there was nothing left but salt. Then he rubbed it on my head, hoping that it would ease my pain. It didn’t. I smelled funky, but my head still hurt (he later claimed it didn’t work because he couldn’t convince any of the females to wee in his helmet, but Huge is a bit, you know). Morissa … my girlfriend. Oh, it’s a strange word, that. It’s taken me quite some time to get used to it – almost as long as it took me to get used to Love. Anyway …
Morissa brought me nothing.

Fret not. There’s a reason, of course there’s a reason. You know why!

I think that’s what set my migraine off. I just wish they would have told me straight to the face. It happened on the day of the Battle of Tanaan Inlet, where more than sixhundred Alliance and Horde ships faced off against a fleet of nearly a thousand Iron Horde vessels. It was the biggest naval battle in the war, some say the biggest battle in all of Azeroths and Draenors history combined. Thousands of mariners! Glory!

The “List” was all that remained, a list of “complete casualties and missing in action excluding wounded or deserters”. We all started reading it in silence, but then Gorbin Boltcutter started reading aloud just so the people at the back could get the news then and not later. Gorbin is one of the porters, he would have made an excellent soldier but he took an arrow to the knee when he was young so he walks with a limp. We play Hearthstone together and he always lose, but I think it’s because he feels sorry for me. He likes me, even though, whenever he lose a game, he slams his fists on the table and calls me “ye stinking thieving cunt!” (He’s got a colorful language). He fashioned a pair of braids for me out of yak hair once (he bought the hair from Cousin Twohands, an intrepid traveler lured to Draenor by some ethereal fashion technologist).

Gorbin’s got a big, booming voice (no one can yell “cunt!” the way he does). You know what? When he started reading the list – it was one of the most horrible moments in my unlife. It went like this (I’ll never forget it):

“Ambershine, Sun, a passenger!” There was a low, wailing sound. From somewhere in the crowd. Then a pandaren tailor pushed his way out of the throng, hiding his face behind his hands … and sank to his knees in front of the Commander, yelling “She was nineteen, Commander! Nineteen! This is YOUR fault! YOUR FAULT!!! Sha take you! Sha take you all!”

I heard the Commander mumble “I’m sorry,” as Gorbins voice rang out across the Lunarfall Main Square:
“Blackpaw, Lin, she’s the bloody surgeon, mates! Light curse ’em all!” There was a ‘wooooo!’ from the crowd, though no one actually knew her that well. We’ve got a lot of pandaren in Lunarfall. “Blixby, Dixx, engineer!” There was mumbling, some gnomes yelled ‘No!’ but there was this eerie sense of acceptance among them … Then his voice broke, strong and factual as it were, as if he was reciting a Dun Morogh poem: “Boltc… ” He cleared his throat. “… Cutter, Dorbin. I, I … Oh brother!”

Then Master took a step in front of Gorbin. He was down on his knees already, screaming through his hands. It didn’t occur to me until then that the Living cherish life. I had brothers once, in Naxxramas (actually they were more like ‘collegues’ in death but I’m sure you get my drift). The Creator disassembled them all – and I felt nothing. To feel death – perhaps that is what it means to be alive?

Master screamed out the rest of the names. She wanted everyone to hear. Maybe she was angry. Maybe she wanted to be heard over the crying and wailing. Maybe she wanted to hurt her sister, the very much alive Commander. I don’t know. Things have been weird among the Exodar Sisters ever since Vassie tried to kill herself.

Gorbin had stopped screaming. He was just crying, gnawing his molars, pale as a sheet, right there in front of the callboard. He … shook. Perhaps the Living can get the Shakes as well. He was so proud of his brothers, Alliance heroes, he called them. Orbin, Dorbin and Corbin …

“Boltcutter, Corbin, a sailor!” Master screamed. She turned her blazing eyes at the Commander at the top of the stairs and continued: “Boltcutter, Orbin, second grade petty officer! Brown, Rufus, a sailor! Derek, Dirk, another sailor! Should I go on, Shu!? Or is this enough!? Don’t you know death, sister!? You want more of it to save this fucking world that won’t even let me save myself before I … we … Fuck Velen. Fuck you, Yrel! FUCK YOU ALL!!!”

Then Master started crying. She pushed her way through the crowd, mounted a dead horse and stormed out of the gates with sparks flying from the roadway. It was tense, I tell you. Some of the Karabor Honor Guards really didn’t know what to do (though I saw that some of them gave a short nod; there’s discord, barely tangible, but there’s discord allright).

The Commander didn’t reply. She turned around fast, though I saw her shoulders shake and I heard her sob. Ah, yes … Master can be very cruel to the Living. She can be cruel to the dead as well, though I don’t think she actually meant it.
Illona stepped up and in a low, mournful voice continued to read out the names, because people still had to know the price of glorious victory. That’s when I knew something dark was truly coming, because even I, and all of us undead, grew weary: “Lanthaire … I think that’s how it’s pronounced … The Citadel, fallen. Morag Bloodfury, Champion, fallen, the Citadel. Baron Almonaster, Lord of Second Farthing, Alterac, fallen, the Citadel. Count Ambrosi of Crook, fallen. Morissa, vin… Vindicator, Knight of the Ebon Blade. Fallen. The Citadel.”

Illona turned around, perhaps she was hoping to see the walking dead worried, but all she saw on our death knights faces was – nothing. “So many of you fell …”

“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “We’re already dead.”

I sat hunched down in front of the line of death knights, their blades still smeared with orc blood. The blood always stays on the blade (one day you will understand why). The draenei of Draenor fear them – and so they should! Then all of the knights, some two hundred of them, shouted in unison (and I dare say not only Illona but several other draenei peed themselves):

“LEAVE THIS PLACE AND NEVER RETURN!!!”

Ah, the old salute. It had been years since I had heard it with such force. It had been whispered, and mumbled, yes, but the last time I heard an entire cohort send the fallen off like that was after the Highlands Battle. Truth be told, righ then and there I was proud of the Ebon Blade. It’s our salute to the fallen. It’s complicated.

No really, it is! We all know what we are! We are the Dead! Whenever some hopeful prospect shows up at the Ebon Embassy in Stormwind the answer is always the same: No, we can not accept new knights or squires, because “this is the kingdom of the Scourge, only the dead may enter”. All of the living, usually young boys, go away with slumped backs and despair in their eyes. Sometimes the guards fish their bodies out of the canal. I don’t understand that … Because, you know, all we want to do, all of us Scourge … is to die. We don’t want to return. Our struggle is to die – yet we can’t. Yet we won’t. Yet we don’t want to … because some of us wants to live.

Live.

Because sometimes … death is a mere malady. Perhaps someone will find a cure, some day. We cling to hope like moths cling to the light, because even in darkness, not all who wander is lost.

We want to live!

“I would like an orgasm,” Morissa once told me. We were sitting on a hill not far from Embari. I had finally found the courage to ask her if she wanted to be my friend in undeath. She had accepted. We had pressed our lips against each other … because the habit of the living die hard. We had shed our clothes, and done the motions (if you know what I mean). Then, as we sat there, I carefully replaced her nipple (it had almost fallen off as I chewed it, because some habits die hard). I asked her: “What would you want if we were alive?”

Then she had to explain what an orgasm was. My brain tingled.

That was weeks ago. On the day of the List, well. It wasn’t until later that night, as I scampered across the flagstones towards the shed at the back of the Salvage Yard, it occured to me. Morissa would never confuse me again. Morissa would never make my rotting brain tingle again, creeping in a pleasant way with age old memories of things that was mostly forgotten (the living that I know say that sex is the thing they remember most clearly, when memories of love fade, sex is what remains). Morphic memories … They’re weird. Yet I felt it all. Lips against lips. Her fingers – and for some reason a Tel’Abim Banana (I’m not quite sure if that was a memory or soemthing else, I did wake up with sticky fingers that smelled … ok, let’s not go there, let’s just say I have hands that live their own life when I power down).

I felt the first pang of sorrow then. It was a feeling I had never cared much for before I felt it. So many bodyparts of mine kept sorrow in their fibers but I had never actually listened to it.

Yet I didn’t feel it enough, I think. It was more of a ‘oh well, this sucks’-feeling. I wish I could have felt more, but I didn’t. I just thought: ‘Morry is free now. She left this place, never to …’ 

I sighed then. And mumbled: “Return?” There was no answer but my own thoughts: ‘No. Because that’s … every muscle in my body want what Morry got. Death.’

Then I powered down (fell asleep, as some would call it). I thought that would be the end of it all.

It wasn’t. My head kept tingling. The feeling of spindly fingers inside my head was infuriating. I’ve had a spider in my head once, before I plucked it out through my ear (I’m a geist, we don’t bend to common anatomy!). It was just like that, a tickle, starting at the back of your neck, growing into a dull throb behind your eyes, caught between your brain and your skull … and then my head exploded in pain. It was like that time when a vindicator suprised me in the pantry of Lunarfall Inn (I was just picking cherries out of a pie because I like popping cherries and Maraad didn’t know that I was redeemed at the time and … you know). That hammer of light of his really hurt. It was that kind of migraine. A pain so tremendous it paralyzed me. Then my muscles and joints eased up and started to shake. It’s a terrible thing. Even such a simple task as digging out a piece of dried froth from the corner of your mouth can prove to be a challenge. I had to hold the cup of rum that Ariok offered me with both hands, and he still had to steady me by grabbing hold of my head and neck. Oh, I was a mess, for sure!

The Shakes. The scourge of the Scourge.

From there on, all I could do was whimper and moan – and shake. The living call it a migraine. We call it Panic, the Shakes, Death Rattle, Chittering (because of the sound your teeth make). It’s as if someone threw you in a cage and then closed it tight enought to almost break your ribs (been there). You struggle, and fight, like a fish on dry land, gasping … drowning … trying to break free, to run away. But there is nothing to run away from.

It’s not fear, because fear is something you can conquer if you set your mind to it. It’s Panic, and Panic is Chaos. Panic is Death. Panic sucks the energy out of everything, it’s the Sha, the Old Gods, the Dark. Panic is a hungering mouth that swallows all of your hope, all of your strength, all of your dreams and all of your life (or death – and believe me, most living wants to die when Panic sets in). It leaves you like a whimpering blob of Nothing.

I’ve seen Panic among the Scourge. I’ve seen things you would not believe … Aberations on fire, near Malykriss Hold. I watched Texals frost beams glitter in the dark near Angrathar Gate. All those moments, lost in time … Fragments of distant lands and people shattered against the invisible veil of pain inside my eyes … for days. Master held me and sang to me. Gerry mumbled curses over me. Ravennah brought me a flower and Isel gave me her elekk, and said “When I’m sad, Tim, Floof always keeps me company”. I couldn’t say anything, to any of them, not even Ahm. Why?

Because I was ashamed. I wanted to die but I could not die! Instead I moaned. I managed to don my old gloves on my shaking hands and dug my saronite claws into the scalp of my head. I felt no pain. I tore my skin off, I felt no pain. I nearly ripped my eyes out – I have two, it’s my leather mask that has one, mirrors inside – but my eyes were scared of the dark. Morphic memories. Tina (left eye) and Feye (right eye), both pleaded with me, in that way undead bodyparts scream inside me. They asked me to spare them. So did. Once upon a time it took them weeks to die. They saw it all. The needles. The scalpels. The rapes and batons and handcuffs and … my body is a collection of terrible memories. No wonder I got the shakes.

I screamed and wailed like a banshee all through the everlastning night – and I was afraid. I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again: “I’ll tell you a secret about the Scourge. Listen well: We’re all afraid.”

I wanted to cry. you know what? The biggest regret of the Scourge – it is that we can not cry. I had no tears. I had only the sounds. Gulps of dead air. Trembling hands and legs. The invisible weight of hopelessness, crushing my ribs. PANIC. Despair. So delicious … but only if you enjoy torturing

(Night elves)

mourning geists.

Master cried and singed. Days and nights passed. Gerry and Boney and all the death knights and their ghouls and scourge fiends came and offered me what they thought would cure the Shakes. There was no cure. I shook, I trembled, I screamed and roared. I cried out for people long forgotten – mothers, mostly. Loved ones. I was tied to the bed. They feared I would kill myself (that’s funny, sort of).

One hour after midnight on the fourth day of the Shakes, I gasped a single name:
“Aliss … ”

(“We must flee, Tess! Run! Run, you fool!”
“But I have his helmet, he …”
“He does not care about you!”
“My duty … His helm … “
“Oh Mother of all Light … “
“What?”
“Tessa, run! RUN!!!”
“My liege! You hel–“)

If I told you it’s impossible to scream so loud that you break your voice, you would not believe it. It’s true. You will break.

(“HEEEELP ME!!!”
“Useless cunt, where’s my helme–“)

Then the migraine stopped. The shakes stopped. Then all was still and pleasant. Then all was Death. My mind, finally at rest. I saw fragmented images of the last moments of Thessalias life. They harvested my brain from the squire of a night elf noble who survived the Wrathgate. She did not. He fell down, stumbling on his own tailormade armor, and then decided to play dead. She did not. Maybe that’s how he had lived for ten thousand years – lived as a coward. She had not. It wasn’t his brain, nor any part of him, that was inside me. Instead I got the Wolverine.

Ah, yes.

That’s what they called me, you see. The Wolverine. Sixtyeight ghouls fell before the aberations finally took me down. By then I had neither nails nor teeth – I had, quite literally, fought tooth and nail. In its own twisted way, the Scourge that survived the Wrathgate later honored me as a centerpiece of their ghoulish banquet. My body, first stored in a coffin in Naxxramas, however refused the dark energies of Him, and I was never raised a death knight. I am told – it’s detailed in a writing currently held by the Argent Crusade – that the ghouls were told to save my brain (there was a lot of complaints about it and several dozen ghouls were later repurposed in the following riot).

I am the Wolverine. I am Thessalia.

Me. My friends used to call me Tim and Tim is what I am. I am Tim. Geist Alpha, destined to be a Leader of All Geists, second to none but Him! Redeployed in various army outfits after the fall of Naxxramas and eventually freed by Master Zavannah. I, Geist Alpha, died at the Wrathgate. I Thessalia!

I am the Wolverine. Always fighting to my last breath. Clawing, scratching, biting, screaming. I will not give up! I can not give up!

You can not defeat me!

I am no longer a construct. I am no longer a thing without a mind. The Maker knew he had found a Champion when he harvested my brain.

I am Tess. I am Tim. I am Legion. I am a person now. I have a mind. Because if you lose your mind, you are no longer a person. Which is why it’s imperative to keep your mind, no matter how bad the Chittering gets. Deep down in a hole you look up and there is light, because the Light never abandons its champion. Because you are never lost unless you want to be.

I am Thessalia, the Wolverine. I once loved a bard named Valiss. I once gave her an orgasm. We were going to move back to Dolanaar after The War. Her uncle grew hops there, he had a cottage we would live in. There were orphans we would care for; Damyan, a boy from Stormwind, Thyssie, a girl from Auberdine, Aurissa, a blood elf child found abandoned in a shipwreck not far from Azuremyst. This was my family.

Legion. Many parts. One body. Yet the mind controls it all. The mind is a terrible thing to taste, if you’re a geist. Isn’t that so, Tim?

(Oh yes, it is … I have a real name now.)

Tell me then, Tim … What is the secret of Life?

Let It Go.

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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.

WoWScrnShot_112815_063452

“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.”

The lament of farmhand Geist: Geist on a Trek

WoWScrnShot_123113_151916

*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 …

“Home?”

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!

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.

Who will play with Dog?

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Anne Stickney over at WoW Insider worries about Dog. It’s a beutiful written piece on how Mists of Pandaria is starting to wind down – and what impact it had on us. It’s not about the numbers or stats or gear. It’s about the immersion. Pandaria managed to immerse us all in a world so vibrant and alive it will be hard to leave it.

Just what does the future hold for my Exodar Sisters? What will happen to them – where will they go? What am I planning for them ..? I’ve been wondering what to do in order to prepare for Warlords of Draenor. I think a gameplan has started to form.

Cahanna: Retirement looks pretty good right now. Unless Warlords of Draenor brings some really good changes to Arcane, thus making it playable again, and mages in general, Cannie will probably sit comfortable in Stormwind. She’s the alchemist and formula collector of the family. Leveling her profs to 675 or 700 (or whatever we’ll see) might be possible without having to go to Draenor. It’s unlikely she’ll be the first to reach level 100; I remember how painful it was to level a mage to 90 through Mists. It was almost a game breaker for me. I don’t want that to happen again.

So, bring another bottle of wine, light that pipe, and make yourself comfortable in the armchair by the fireplace, mage. You’ve earned some vacation.

Unless …

Unless we will see a change in race-class combos. Nothing has been said about this yet, so perhaps there won’t be any changes. But what if ..? What if Warlords of Draenor brings draenei warlocks? If that happens, Cahanna could find the fel-side of magic much more interesting …

Kittyanna: Kitty, being the whirlwind of adventure (and kicking feet!) that she is, will most definitely go Draenor. She’ll probably be one of the first to do so. I imagine she will be a pretty benevolent ruler of a garrison.

Savenna and Cassanna: Nothing can stop them from going. There’s a lavabolt waiting for the first orc to cross Savas path! And an arrow in the knee on the first one to inspect Cassies ice trap! (Yes, that last one is a meta-reference to the preview video 😛 )

Sharenne: Surely there’s a need for an “adopted draenei” in Karabor? See – she’s even dressed for the occasion. The Dark Rider of Azeroth-look will probably scare the green out of Gul’dan! I imagine a scene where Sharenne stops by the first place she can find, leans down and hiss:
“Baggins … Shire!”

Well, that was confusing …

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Sha, being – Sha.

Shuanna: Will she feel the need to go back to where she once came from? No one knows. Draenor is still an open wound. Karabor – and the fall of the temple – is something she tries to forget. Seh knows what will happen if she succumbs to the bad memories (and nightmares). Akama … the shade of Akama, the broken one, weighs heavily on many a draeneis mind. Shu might not be the best paladin around – she still keeps in touch with the Light, in her own ways. going back to a “pristine” Draenor … just what will such a trip do to someone with severe PTSD?

She’s not a happy draenei, Shu. Too many bad memories. Of the fel orcs, of the sabotaged Exodar, of Northrend. She’s the haggardd war veteran of the whole lot of characters. Her eyes have seen things she wish no one would see.

Going back to the future past honestly scares the Light out of her. For now, she’s content being the family banker.

Vassannah and Zavessa: If anyone’s gonna kick some Iron Horde ass it’s gonna be a priest. Vass is prepared. So is Zavessa (well, she will be, eventually). With the Light in one hand and the Shadow in another, they’re ready to flay some minds. there’s plenty of orcs that need to be
(slaughtered)
told “you’re a bad boy!” around in Azeroth right now, sure. But the thought of getting even before they came here in the first place is mouth-watering.

She’s a very vengeful priest, to be honest, “my” Vassie … She’ll be the first one out of the new Dark Portal. Let’s just hope her iLvl 536 or whatever it will be is enough once MoP is obsolete and WoD opens up.

(“Will there be any cute draenei around? I’ve got the goblin jumper cables ready!”
Hush you!
“I’ll show them the Sexodar, you just wait!”
Really, Vass!)

Zavannah: Zavvie will retire at the end of MoP. She’s got her farm, she’s growing her carrots. She’s at peace with herself after a long, long time of death and disorder. A death knight growing carrots just seems to be the ultimate proof of the pandaren way of life.

(I’m also too slow for melee-classes these days. I much prefer ranged, to be honest. Assessing the situation instead of jumping into the fray. This is also a meta reference.)

She will be parked in Halfhill, growing carrots and drinking beer with the neighbours at the inn. Slowly accumulating what BS-patterns and plans I’ll find on other characters during their travels. As for the “progressive” blacksmithing – someone will have to build a garrison, but it won’t be Zavannah. There’s carrots to grow.

And someone needs to play with Dog.

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Zavvie, perfectly content with life as it is for an un-alive draenei knight.