Friday, June 22, 2012

The Stables

((Saving a piece from forum creep. The prompt was to write about our mounts.))

. . . . . As the cursed thing he was, the mysterious adjunct weaponsmith for the Light's Blade remained so far removed from his own people that he did not even know they had stables - and even if he had known, he had long since sworn off most visits to the Aldor tier after High Priestess Ishanah had declared him unworthy of even a simple traveler's blessing. Hadeon did not want what stained his soul to touch those exiles who remained in the Light, so he kept to himself until the loneliness and solitude grew so overbearing that he terrified himself by seeking a few hours among the Light's Blade. Given the images which regularly assailed his mind whenever he was in the shining city, he tended to avoid Shattrath altogether most of the time. No, his mount - like his rider - lived alone and isolated.
. . . . . Zangarmarsh lacked the memories and images many other places on Draenor held for Hadeon, and so it was a smallish cave in the southern mountains of Zangarmarsh where he and Thubaab kept some semblance of residence when he was not in Stormwind or Ironforge, picking the brains of the dwarves for alloy research. Hadeon was a latecomer to metalworking, but the lack of a need for sleep and the need to bide his time until he could fulfill what he remained in this tainted shell to do meant he had gotten quite good at it over a short span of years. What had been a hobby in life was an all-consuming mission now. Scattered around the cave were linen and wool sacks of different ores and powdered minerals. A stack of books - some bound up in leather, some in linen, and some truly more hastily-bound paper than anything else - sat next to an extinguished lantern on the cave's dirt floor. A broken shard of mirror rested as a paperweight atop an intricate chart of the material properties of the various phases of elementium and obsidium at temperatures above ambient.
. . . . . In the farthest corner of the cave, dried rushes from the marsh had been scattered to make a comfortable place for the immense greenish-brown elekk to rest. A stand wrought of artless scrap adamantite held a feed sack high enough for the elekk to eat comfortably. Several thick blankets (which smelled of an elekk) were neatly folded near a large shovel (which smelled like the other end of an elekk). Thubaab was clean, his food fresh, and he was free to wander out of the cave and into the marsh as much as he liked - which wasn't terribly often, since he never could get himself proper purchase on the swampy land which started about a quarter-mile from the cave.
. . . . . At this very moment, Hadeon has planted a backside covered in thick, protective metalworker's leathers on the cave floor next to his settled elekk. He leans back to rest against the beast's broad ribs. The adamantite fused to the back of his left shoulder is chilly - as always - but Thubaab has long since learned to tolerate it as the price to be paid for pats and hand-fed glowcaps. Thubaab is exceptionally fond of the glowcaps. "Looks like a lot more'n I thought made it," Hadeon muses aloud in the sort of Common one expects to hear from lowly soldiers. "I think the shock of it made 'em looney, though." Thubaab snorts a response which could mean anything from 'By Velen, you must be right, old chap' to 'Shut up and give me another glowcap.' It's probably the latter. Hadeon rolls his eyes skyward for a moment and mutters, "It's already been 'stablished that I'm crazy, so don't even start that conversation again." Thubaab gets another glowcap. It is late afternoon and, except for the dead man talking to himself in the cave and the occasional excited wuffle of the elekk seeking treats, quiet. Rather typical, really, for any given snapshot in the life of this exile among exiles.

((In my forum RP post about our mounts, I wrote about some of the metallurgy journals Hadeon keeps. Inspired by Vitaska and powered by a whole lot of tracing, cool fonts, and awesome brushes from DeviantArt, I decided to try my hand at reproducing one page of his journal. Huge props to anyone who knows where I found that diagram from (hint: my materials science class inspired it), and even more bonus points if you know why the point Hadeon circled is important.))

A Strange Voice in Shattrath

((Archiving a written IC reaction to an in-game RP to save it from forum creep.))

. . . . . Driven to the extremity of loneliness, the decayed, angry adjunct smith for the Light's Blade left his elekk Thubaab with a bucket of glowcaps to keep him happy and braved a forty-minute walk to Shattrath City. He hated it there - all those memories and ghosts haunting the place - but he needed the company in ways he had not comprehended when he was living. Never again would he be the gregarious, social creature of his last twenty-seven thousand years... Yet he found his grip on himself faltered if he spent more than a few months in isolation.
. . . . . A rock jamming into the crevice of a permanently-cracked left hoof forced him to stop just shy of the northern bridge into the city. He cursed as he bent to dig it out, and that's when he heard the whisper: "Death is so vivid in my mind now that I fear it has drowned out the memory of anything else. When will we be free? Is anyone coming?"
. . . . . Hadeon glanced skyward and - well out of earshot of the bridge guards - muttered a response in flawless Orcish which was both vocal and a mental sending, "Retz? Quit messing with me. I thought we agreed you would shut up." There was no reply.
. . . . . The stone cleared from his hoof, he set out across the bridge, stopping halfway to peer down at the Lower City below. A ghost bloodied in vivid, glistening navy was milling in the throng of living traders and refugees, and made his stomach - or what was left of the icy, decayed mass where it would have been - roil. "Damned cesspool city," he muttered in Draenei, ducking away from the edge of the bridge before the ghost could look up and notice him. Once across the bridge, he headed around to the nearest entrance to the Terrace of Light. The walking dead man had stood before A'dal twice; it was agony, sheer skin-flaying agony. Standing in the entryway with part of the wall to shield him, he grit what remained of his rotting teeth together against a burn like lying face-down on the coals of a forge and tried to remember what it felt like to bask in the Light.
. . . . . Then it came again, several voices whispering at once: "To find the stalker, you must ask the earth she walks upon. Beg the wind she is carried by. Bargain with the water she bathes in. And beseech the fire of her heart. The answers shall come in the land of the ancestors..."
. . . . . Hadeon looked skyward again and backed away from the entry to the Terrace, his large, gnarled hands coming up to press the linen wrappings around his biceps into his cracked skin. Wasn't me, goat. Angrily, he hissed and backed away farther, heading towards the Scryers' Tier as he thought fiercely in Draenei towards the unknown source, Nether-blasted ghosts! Get back to the Lower City cesspool where you belong!
. . . . . And then the tenuous mental connection he held to the Light's Blade erupted into activity, assailing him with more voices - all of which had heard the same speech about this stalker. It almost felt like the days of sharing cramped spaces on the vessel with his vindicator detail. Before he could stop it, a sob tore from his parched throat. The noise itself was enough for him to clamp down on his control, strap some mental steel to his backbone, reassert the chill of death on the soul trapped inside. Still, the terrible maw of solitude gaped behind him, ready to shred his control again. Tentatively from behind the thick mental wall he kept between himself and his comrades, he reached out for the first time in...ever: "Would you like aid?"

Speculation on Draenei Fashion

To save a few bits of work from forum creep, here's some of my speculation on draenei fashion.

Re: Attire
. . . . . I've often envisioned the casual attire of the draenei to be a version of the salwar kameez ( ) modified with pants that either wrap instead of pull on or which are loose enough overall to accommodate hooves. In general, I figure the ladies are often in dresses (many female NPCs are, but this could just as easily be a Western gender norm thing) and that most pants are either wrap pants or lace up the sides somehow.

Re: Ornamentation
. . . . . Gypsies were often covered in gold and jewels because that was all they had. As nomads, they had to carry all their possessions, and so they carried their wealth on their wrists and ears. Argus may have been paved in precious stone, but everywhere else, it's relatively useful and portable currency.
. . . . . Evidence for why I think Draenei society could reasonably be theorycrafted as highly ornamented and elaborate - drawn from archaeology.
Anklet with Golden Bells Purple metal (khorium?), yellow beads made of blown glass which is usually more ornamental than drop glass, and gold bells.
Carved Harp of Exotic Wood Exotic woods as opposed to common ones indicate a tendency towards ornamentation again, and now we know music included harps and bells.
Dignified Portrait Oil portraiture shows some skilled - if cheeky - painters.
Fine Crystal Candelabra Dripping with crystals, chains, and ornate scrollwork, this is clearly an item more decorative than functional even though it does have function.
Baroque Sword Scabbard "Almost distasteful in its ornamentation" the text says. Again, draenei like their flash. And they had weapons for magical or ceremonial use.
. . . . . Even if it's "almost distasteful" from a draenei view, it's still heavily ornamented and draenei. Somebody, if just Aunt Nehaanu, liked it. So an argument for a trend in ornamented vs spare could be made. Maybe we've got minimalist modern draenei and fussy baroque draenei.
. . . . . (Hadeon had a friend who wore so much flash that when she told her friends over drinks one night that she wanted to be buried with her jewels, he joked she'd have to hire more coffin bearers.)

Re: Cultural Appropriation in Fashion Choices
. . . . . As a sociologist with some training in facets of cultural appropriation, I don't think what we're doing is so egregious, really. Admittedly, most of my training is in criminology, though. I don't think all parties in this discussion are necessarily from the same cultures themselves, so accusations of cultural appropriation come off as a little excessive.
. . . . . Also, I have no problems with envisioning my characters in the same type of clothing I wear.

Re: Fabrics
. . . . . I would be more comfortable with the idea of cottons if there were any mention of them in game. Instead, it seems that linen, wool, and silk are the natural organics on Azeroth, and whatever passes for fibrous material on Draenor (those reeds in Nagrand?) has to be woven with nether magic of some kind.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Your Character's Loot Table

((Still saving posts from forum creep.))

. . . . . This is inspired by a Moon Guard forum post I saw a long time ago. I'd give credit, but really, it was so long I don't even know who posted it.
. . . . . Whatever the cause may be, your character is slain in battle! Your killer rifles your corpse for loot; post here two/three items which are found on your body. (The stats don't have to make sense for your class, just your character if you design something with stats.)

[Bag of Fire Pellets] (epic)
+84 Stamina
+147 Agility
Equip: Chance on taking melee damage to explode in a fiery inferno which does 6885-8490 fire damage to all enemies and allies in an 8 yard radius.
"It's like carrying live explosives, but smaller!"

[Holey Breastplate] (uncommon)
+226 Stamina
+390 Strength
Equip: Increases your expertise by 172.
Equip: Decreases your fire resistance by 20.
"There's a hole in the back of this armor.

[Filigreed Orb] (uncommon)
+ 93 Strength
+ 140 Stamina
Equip: Each melee hit which lands on you has a chance to grant +40 Strength for 35 seconds. This effect stacks up to 10 times.
"A righteous orb wrapped in mithril filigree, this necklace appears to be in pristine condition."
(It would be found around Valdiis's neck, but tucked beneath her breastplate and gambeson to keep it from view.)

[Black Leather Bag] (rare)
+ 143 Agility
Equip: Increases your ability to creep others out by +87.
Use: Play knucklebones! (Use will randomly /roll 2d6.)
"When given a light shake, this bag rattles like dry bones - many small, dry bones."
(This would be found attached to Valdiis's belt by heavy leather loops.)

[Headdress of Pearls] (common)
24 Armor
+ 16 Intellect
+ 25 Spirit
Equip: Increases your spell power by 21.
"Each pearl in this very long strand appears to be a different type."
(This would be found wrapped around Rosoe's right horn and dangling down to her shoulder.)

[Pile of Trinkets] (poor)
"This bundle of tangled cords, beads, strings, and wooden charms is useless to you."
(These would be found en masse around Rosoe's neck.)

[Musty-smelling Bag] (common)
22 Slot Bag
"This bag is usable after you dump the pile of musty dead leaves out of it."
Alternate flavor text for herbalists: "This bag is usable after you remove the abundance of dried fadeleaf from it." (Gain 18 Fadeleaf.)
(This would be found tied firmly to Rosoe's belt.)

[Bronze Hairstick] (uncommon)
One-Hand Dagger
51-87 Damage
(69.7 damage per second)
+ 38 Intellect
+ 21 Spirit
Equip: If your hair is long enough to wear this and you are male, you feel strangely un-self-conscious about it.
"A dual-duty item - this dagger can also be used to hold your hair out of your face!"
(If not found holding back this priest's mass of curly hair, the item would be found pressed into the back of a golden holy symbol worn around his neck.)

[Scrap of Netherweave Cloth] (poor)
"The owner may have been using this as a handkerchief. Ew..."
(Likely, this was found in a chest pocket sewn into Diyos's robes.)

[Friendship Bracelet] (common)
"This faintly-glowing strand of purple beads is well-worn."
(This would have been found on Diyos's left wrist.)

Site Write Entry: Finale

Prompt: If a picture is crooked, you might adjust it on the wall. If your clothes don't fit, you might adjust a button or a hem. But sometimes we have to make major adjustments in our lives. Have you ever faced a difficult situation that required making adjustments? What adjustments did you make and what was the outcome? Describe to us the good and the bad as needed from the(se) adjustment(s).
Rectifiable Flaws and the Stubborn Dead

. . . . . A cold wind danced up the raw skin on her back. She would have rolled over to protect the wounds, but that would put her left shoulder – which of all the damage was in far worse shape – on the ground. She would have edged just under the shelter of the tent – or as far as her tether would allow – but the surly females inside would spit and kick until she left. Once, she had been the sort of hardy which could endure nights outside with no shelter, but she was withering now. With a soft hiss as she pulled the shreds of her wool tunic against her back by motion, she pillowed the fusing scaleplates of her forehead on her thickened forearms and tried to sleep.
. . . . . It was the kind of cold which, back in the swamps of Zangarmarsh, would have forewarned crunchy footing and a rime on the shorelines, but these fields and forests seemed too dry for such easy frosting. It would have to be colder for hoarfrost to settle here, somewhere south and west of a field full of stones planted in the ground. As Valdiis sought sleep, she idly wondered what the humans – for that was the word her captors used for the short pink two-legged creatures – were trying to grow there. Contemplating a life of growing and tending flat, round-topped stone crops was just boring enough to allow her to drift off.
. . . . . Although it was dark, the black sky sullenly lit by a waning crescent of a moon, she could see a little when the thudding ground awoke her. It seems this place was damp enough for rime, because everything bore a fine coating of icy white, including her own body. Shivering, she pushed herself up, standing as far from the tent pole as her tether would give and trying to straighten her stooping spine as she cast about for the source of the repetitive thumps. It sounded like marching.
. . . . . A flash of icy blue erupted on the north-east edge of the camp. Warriors who ate, slept, and bathed (rarely) in their armor tumbled out of tents, already armed, charging towards the now very audible noise of marching feet. Her hands itched for a blade, a mace, even a sturdy stick, but they'd learned early on to keep her away from anything she could weaponize, and with her hands bound in front of her, the best she could manage was to make a club out of her fists. There were screams – some of pain, some of abject terror – and moans – of dying and of... She couldn't place the other tone. It was moaning, yes, but it held a different desperation than that of a dying warrior, a desperation like hunger pain. Weapons were definitely clanging, and the fighting was tearing through the camp.
. . . . . She turned and wrapped a leg around the tent pole. Her hooves were tied too close to allow kicks, but perhaps if she threw her full weight on the wood embedded in the ground... No luck – all she managed was to throw herself onto her knees, hard. “A fine way to die,” she muttered to herself, “tied to a Nether-blasted tent pole.” She hoped this battle was the humans come to kill the orcs for raiding their food shipments, but she couldn't quite fool herself that the humans wouldn't just kill her for being in the camp too.
. . . . . That hope didn't last any longer than it took for the invading force to reach the far side of the camp. The marching hardly seemed to lose a beat as it moved over the ground. For the first time, Valdiis found herself going blank in battle. Marching inexorably towards her was a fleshless pile of bones, more or less in the shape of a human, holding a sword menacingly in hands which should not function in such a fashion.
. . . . . If she was to die tonight, it would not be on her knees! Rage lit a fire in her head and she wobbled upright, facing the skeletal creation. Icy blue fire flashed along its joints and she reasoned that must be how it was held together. In for a facet, might as well be in for the whole crystal, she thought, roaring a battle cry as she lunged towards the creation as it lifted its blade. Some bone which would have equated to a forearm for her – and so was probably similar on this thing – met her teeth and she bit down as hard as she could. Bone splintered, shards jabbing upward into the roof of her mouth and nailing her tongue to her jaw. Valdiis's scream of agony was cut short as the blade slid across her throat.


. . . . . The Words themselves were foreign, but it was not the sound made by the Words which was necessary. It was the will dominating her soul which gave the directions. The Words were just meaningless nonsense added in. With such Words pressing down on her soul all the time and similar words spoken by those around her, it was not terribly long before she knew the languages spoken around her. Eventually, she knew the language of the Words which was spoken by the humans well enough to suit what she was used for.
. . . . . When it was required that she speak – which was not often – the voice she used was not produced by physical means of breath through lungs and throat, shaped by mouth and tongue. It was with a precise, flawless voice deeper than her own with a brooding echo; the voice was powered by necromancy, but born of rage.
. . . . . As the Words became fewer and fewer, farther away, she found that she desired to use her own voice. But it did not function. She had no voice at all.


. . . . . “Ugh, must you persist with that stupid accent?” The sergeant rolled her eyes and stormed away, her tail hanging limply behind her. Valdiis took a small amount of satisfaction in knowing that the insipid little twit she had to salute probably lost her balance regularly.
. . . . . “Oh look, another slow learner,” drawled the arcanist in her brilliantly red robes as she leaned on the edge of a barstool and eyed Valdiis up and down. “We've only been here five years already, darling. Do pick up the pace.” She nudged her companion with an elbow and laughed.
. . . . . “Don't your people, er... Well, aren't you supposed to be ridiculously intelligent?” It was only a second before the private realized his gaffe and shrank back from the narrow-slitted glare Valdiis was giving him as she stalked forward and loomed over the short little human man.


. . . . . Commander Valdiis of the Knights of Menethil sat on the edge of a fence on the farthest corner of the tournament grounds, watching the jousting matches from afar as she let the roars of the crowd cover for her. “Zuh,” she breathed, growling when it came out wrong. “Tuh. Heh. ... Zeh. Dammit!” Every time she pushed the tip of her tongue against the back of her teeth to make the Common's “th” sound, her palate gave way and squished, giving the syllable a z-like buzz. Other syllables were equally difficult for her heavily-damaged mouth to form, regularly emerging as -ink where there should be -ing and so on. In Draenei, such syllables either did not exist – such as the w sound – or were so rare that she knew quite enough substitute words to avoid mangling her own language, but Common used these Nether-blasted sounds all the time. “Tee. Aitch. Sszuh.” Her fist slammed down on the fence railing. She tried again.
. . . . . Of course, she could just rely on her necromancy, on the voice generated by the stores of power in her undead shell. Some perverse whimsy found that to be unacceptable. It was probably the same whimsy which had made her a terrible candidate for anything but the most physical of endeavors while living. To rely on magic to perform an action one was perfectly capable of performing with one's own self was cheating. No, she had a voice of her own – and a will of her own – and naaru be damned if she wasn't going to use it, flaws and all.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Site Write Entry #38: Recycling

Prompt: June 13, 2012 - In an odd conversation, you and a friend are discussing the real afterlife. Your friend is convinced you will die and reborn as something else. To indulge in their chatter, what do you tell them? What is your character reborn as?
. . . . . "Got any nines?"
. . . . . The delicate priestess sitting across from him stared intently at the fan of cards in her hands, making quite a show of studying each one until - with a sudden ray-of-light-cutting-through-the-clouds smile - she stuck her tongue out at him and pointed at the dwindling pile of cards between them.
. . . . . Frowning, he picked up the top card, then crowed with glee as he laid down all four in his hand. "I win this round!"
. . . . . With a feigned pout, the priestess neatened the fan in her hand back into a stack and placed it back on the discard pile, which the darkly tanned farmboy immediately scooped up with the draw pile and began shuffling. As he shuffled the cards, he glanced over at the graveyard visible on the other side of the lake from the bench they were sitting on. A few of his own were buried there. He looked at the priestess. "Are any of your folk there?" A tilt of his head towards the graveyard indicated his meaning.
. . . . . The priestess shook her head and leaned down to sift her fingers through the soil for a moment.
. . . . . "A bit more 'return to th' earth' type, aye?"
. . . . . She nodded at him.
. . . . . "Y'know, we Gilneans leave grave goods with our ancestors. Just to remind 'em who their family is an' such. So they protect us an' don't get angry." He kept shuffling the cards, but thoughts of how close he'd come to death himself when the land broke had him chattering. If he was talking, he wasn't in danger of dying. "Some folk think what trinkets they leave will be used by the ancestors in the afterlife. I figure different, though. Ain't one t' sit around an' twiddle my thumbs for eternity, even if it is in the Light. I figure there ain't enough souls t' go around all the time, so they keep comin' back to be reused. Makes more sense to me." The priestess shrugged at him, but she was leaning forward slightly, one of those beautiful long ears twitching. So he went on. "I come back? I figure I want to come back as a ten-thousand-year-old kaldorei druid. I'd love to have all that knowledge in my head! Be able to commune with beasts an' plants an' sleeping dragons..."
. . . . . She let him natter on for a while, politely not rolling her eyes at the idea of coming back already old, then reached out and touched his hands mid-shuffle, reminding him that he was holding up the next round with all this talking. He turned a dark brick shade under his tan, blushing fiercely. And she just smiled.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Site Write Entry #37: Excuses

Prompt: June 12, 2012 - The word excuses.
. . . . . I didn't do this site write entry because warm nights and fast motorcycles distracted me.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Site Write Entry #36: The Big Time

Prompt: June 11, 2012 - Your character's greatest accomplishment thus far.
. . . . . Some might call the empty chapel with its smashed pews and old bloodstains creepy or frightening. Were she in her usual frame of mind, Ilva would probably agree with them. But at this moment, just for now, she was sitting in the best place on Azeroth.
. . . . . Because she'd just pulled the con job of her life.
. . . . . It was everything she could do to restrain her giggles as she cradled the hefty sack of coin in her hands. It would not do to giggle and alert the Ebon Blade fellows still searching for her to where she'd skipped off to after speaking to their leader, a worgen she'd started thinking of - fondly! - as Fuzzy. Oh, things were clear now. Fuzzy wasn't the leader; he was under the baker man. The baker man paid her a small fortune for a rush delivery job into the dark recesses of Acherus. Then she'd turned that into double-hazard pay plus bonus with a few empty promises of aid to Fuzzy. So she'd had to sell out the boss...a little. He wouldn't get too upset with her when she told him she'd mentioned that he sent her to Fuzzy. After all, they worked together! When bossman was feeling alright.
. . . . . The wide grin on her face slipped a little, a moment's worry for her now second favorite employer. Something was wrong with him, but it was very hard to worry when he gave her two thousand golds (a sum which took her six months to save up for the parts for that fancy air machine she'd made) to carry a box. She liked that kind of wrong, instead of being paid in cupcakes and sums in the forty to four hundred range.
. . . . . No! She would not allow worry to ruin this moment! Wedging herself further underneath the shattered remnants of the cleric's podium, Ilva dipped her fingers into the pouch - it was nearly as large as a grapefruit! - and petted the gleaming coins within. They clinked. Answering the clink, she heard a faint sigh as a Scarlet Crusader skull under the podium with her finally gave out from the vagaries of time and crumbled into dust.
. . . . . Shrieking would be undignified and get her caught. It was no worse than having a spider crawl across one's nose while hiding in the shadows of a tavern's rafters. Nevertheless, she got as far as opening her mouth before muting the impulse to scream as she darted out of the decrepit old chapel and headed for the hills of Tyr's Hand, money pouch clutched tightly to her chest like an infant.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Site Write Entry #35: A Crying Shame

Prompt: June 10, 2012 - Your character finds someone a crying mess. They explained their life is miserable and they cannot stand the fact someone won't change despite countless encounters to try and help the troubled party. What does your character do?
A Crying Shame (or Dear God, This One Stumped Me)

. . . . . "Would you like a flower, miss? Free flower for a pretty la-..." The girl with a large basket of flowers on her arm trailed off as her intended, giftee looked up from the bench. The 'miss' was actually a 'mister,' though his slight frame and luxurious golden locks were almost as easy to mistake as his lightish red, robe.
. . . . . For her part, no one would mistake Ilva for the night elf she was dressed up to be, but that was part of the fun, really. She smeared violet pigment on all her exposed skin, wore what she best assumed those pretty elves would wear, tied long purple feathers on her ears, and skipped about as Thaylidel Florabottom, flower girl extraordinaire. Naturally, it made people smile, and her bright nature led them all to assume she was simple. Miss Florabottom picked up a lot of gossip around the Cathedral this way.
. . . . . The effete fellow sitting on the bench near the fountain squinted at her through puffy eyes set above damp tear tracks on his rounded cheeks. He sniffled a bit and seemed confused by the flower held out to him.
. . . . . "Free flower, sir, to cheer you up?" Thaylidel Florabottom's voice was gentle and her smile sunny.
. . . . . "Er, no. I'm allergic." He bent his head to wipe his face on his sleeve.
. . . . . Suddenly, that purple-smudged face was back in his vision. She'd dropped down into a crouch to look up at him. "Hey. Hey. What's wrong, mister?"
. . . . . For several moments, he blinked dumbfoundedly at the oddity of it all. "No... No one bothers with that."
. . . . . "I do! Here, budge over." The purple girl crowded him until there was space on the bench for her to sit down. "It helps to talk when you're sad."
. . . . . The way she said it reminded him of an eight-year-old repeating adages from her parents in order to sound wise. It was rather hard to turn down. "There's this boy..."
. . . . . Ah, Cathedral District. Most stories started this way, really. Once the man in the lightish red dress had explained about his best friend and said friend's unceasing habit of betting on racing turtles, Ilva - or, rather, Thaylidel Florabottom - grabbed him by the hand and unceremoniously dragged him out to Canal Street for a cupcake and perhaps a contract to rig the turtle races.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Site Write Entry #34: Best Gift Ever

Prompt: June 9, 2012 - Describe the greatest gift given to your character.
. . . . . Click. Click. Click! Three separate deadbolts engaged, shutting the room off from all but the most determined of invaders. Two chains - one high, one low - slid into catches across the jamb. Thump! A wooden bar as thick as a human male's arm fell into holders on either side of the heavy oak door. Physical securities in place, Valdiis allowed herself a moment to sag back against the door's support and pinch the bridge of her nose between two gloved fingers. Years of innate paranoia allowed her only a moment though, and she dropped her hand to turn and trace the intricate series of runes around the jamb, imbuing them with runic power to activate the series of anti-magic enforcements and life-triggered frost spells.
. . . . . Besides herself, one single person in Azeroth knew of the existence of this place - and that was because he'd sold it to her. Given the enemies the command staff of the 1113th had made, she took great pains to keep it that way. Everyone needed a bolt hole.
. . . . . As safe as she ever would be, Valdiis turned and paced across the single room cabin hidden in the mountains of the Hinterlands. For a time, she'd rented rooms at inns, rested in garrison barracks, or set up in the unit's own offices - but she never felt secure enough to rest in those. Here, she held something of a sanctuary. The dead did not require sleep, but at times when the stores of necromantic energy had been deeply depleted, a brief respite where nothing more taxing than "holding soul to corpse" was required was of definite usefulness.
. . . . . She lifted her right arm and slackened the leather straps holding her heavy plate pauldron down, sliding the loosened piece free without fully releasing the straps. Without a squire, it helped to keep the armament half-fastened. The pauldron was set carefully on a padded wooden stand, followed by its mate. Plate metal curls of elementium-saronite alloy around her upper arms were next. Catches on the left side of her chestguard were released and the hinged carapace removed, revealing a thick, padded black gambeson underneath. The remainder of the plate armor joined the collection on the armor stand - minus the heavily-engraved vambraces on her thickened wrists. Even the gambeson was peeled off and tossed in a tub of wash.
. . . . . Stripped down to a sleeveless linen shirt of some indeterminate pale grey shade and canvas trousers of a slightly darker hue - as well as the ever-present vambraces - Valdiis stretched her hands over her head in the solitary room. Her elbows cracked, the joints protesting the abuse of undeath and the weight of her malformed forearms. A blackened stain rested over her sternum, marring the linen shirt but providing a stark backdrop for the gleaming filigree cage resting on a length of mithril chain between her breasts. She rolled her shoulders with another series of cracks and protests from the shell forced to operate long past its normal ability to do so, and walked over to the cot resting in the corner of the tiny cabin.
. . . . . Although it caused a faint sizzle against her flesh for her to do so, she wrapped the stubby, blunt-clawed fingers around the mithril filigree cage dangling from her neck for a moment, reassured by the sting of it. That reassurance was part of a ritual of reminders of who she was and why she operated so. The grape-sized pearly orb inside the intricate mithril filigree had long, long since lost all but a glimmer of the righteous Light it once radiated, but that was enough. She dropped the orb against the sooty background of her shirt and stretched out on the cot, grateful beyond the capabilities of measurement or even language itself for the trust which had been given with that single pearly orb.
. . . . . Brothers of the blade were forged in war and as fickle as from whence the next thrill of battle would come. Brothers of the blood were a choice of loyalty forced by fate and only as reliable as their upbringing could hope to teach them. But brothers of the heart, ah, those were the ones you could hand your entire existence to and believe in their drive to shield and shelter you as fervently as you would do for them. And it began with a gift of trust.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Site Write Entry #33: Impulse

Prompt: June 8, 2012 - Describe something your character does impulsively.
. . . . . Five months had passed, and she was well aware that she'd been naught but trial and trouble for her doctor. The kaldorei druid was quite good at concealing the distaste in his gaze when he looked at her, but the Canal Street Baker himself had been teaching her to read faces for almost two years. Xeremuriis had never dared ask the source of it, but she sensed it wasn't personal - that is, that the druid's distaste was not for herself alone but something of her type. She had no real idea which type of hers was the problem - baker's girl, draenei, youth, shaman, patient, or crazy - but she knew it lurked behind the clinical detachment with which Doctor Laurenhall treated her. Oh, sure, he had a pleasant bedside manner; flashes of it sprang up from time to time when he forgot to look at her as a case study and remembered she was just a young draenei girl. But in the end, he didn't like her and didn't want to be around her any more than was necessary, though he probably believed he hid entirely from her.
. . . . . She felt stable once more. She felt like herself. There were no voices whispering in her head any longer, and the taste of saronite in her throat was a nightmare with no substance. The desire to do violence to herself or others had left her, allowing consideration for others and remembrance of her vow to love all as the Light itself should love to return to her mind.
. . . . . The salty, cleansed waters of the Veiled Sea washed against her hooves as she walked down the beach, bending from time to time or darting into a retreating wave to retrieve a prize from the sand. Ekanos Laurenhall perched on a dune overlooking the shoreline where he could keep his patient in sight and still work on his treatise on saronite poisoning. Xeremuriis ran her hands through the waters, the burbling of the elementals tumbling over each other in their eagerness to reach the sand drawing a smile from her. Standing again with another of the treasures she was collecting, she reached a hand up to her neck and undid one of the myriad leather thongs tied there. She used her body to shield her activity from the doctor, though he watched her far less closely now that she no longer attempted to injure herself. Still, she didn't want him to see what she did just yet. It was a surprise.
. . . . . A natural eye for measuring and estimating which had been honed by her apprenticeship with Mister E. told her where to tie the knots off so it would fit, and how much slack was needed to thread each glimmering shell onto the leather as she braided the thong. One for gratitude, one for love, one for safety, one for patience, one for knowledge, and one for healing - not her healing, but his. This last was an iridescent purple snail's shell, a tiny water elemental - hardly more than a droplet - had agreed to take up residence in it in exchange for her offering of honeyed bread. She coaxed it carefully, told it about the healing wave magic she knew from her training as a Seer, and whispered encouragement and gratitude when it agreed to help her.
. . . . . Hooves in the sand are surprisingly quiet, so it was only her sun-lengthened shadow falling across his feet - bared and dug into the warm sand - which announced her presence. Ekanos paused his pen to look up at his patient as she beamed a bright, sunny smile and dropped to a crouch beside him.
. . . . . "Hold out your left hand."
. . . . . "Why?" He managed to not snap the word, but only just.
. . . . . "Please? I promise nothing untoward."
. . . . . As she'd recovered, she'd become more whimsical and less impulsively dangerous, so he braved her request and held his left hand out towards her, palm up. Before he had a chance to protest it, she was tying a leather bracelet around his wrist. It was braided, the thong a warm brown, and six small shells of varying style adorned it. The bracelet was saved from looking like something a child might make only by the elegance and intricacy of the four-part braid. There was a small push of magic in it, but so tiny it would take a moment's study to puzzle free; it didn't seem dangerous or tainted, however. The druid blinked at the draenei girl a few times.
. . . . . "Thank you." In a flash, she bent down to kiss his wrist over the knot she'd tied in the bracelet, then hopped to her hooves and dashed back into the surf. What an odd, impulsive child...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Site Write Entry #32: The Message

Prompt: June 7, 2012 - Today's topic is open. Whatever you want to write about, go for it.
. . . . . Quite a large stack of paperwork had been awaiting her at the small desk she maintained in Acherus when she finally felt like herself enough to deal with some of the day-to-day background business of the 1113th. Ever since the tragic and unexpectedly sudden demise of their auditor, Commander Glou, the amount of paperwork in the unit had decreased dramatically, but there was still correspondence to go through and requisitions to handle.
. . . . . Adroitly, she slid a hand under the stack and flipped it over, going through the papers from oldest to newest in her usual fashion. As she was entirely alone in her office, she didn't bother restraining her annoyed growl when she found the enlistment paperwork relating to a new recruit four papers below the potential recruit's request for interview and after she'd penned a response and couriered it off by ghoul. Captain Redamous was getting far too efficient and competent these days, and it was really a shame he no longer wanted to be a Captain in the unit; his thirty days' notice of resignation of his position was coming up soon. A dark smile settled on her lips as she contemplated just what sort of comeuppance the competent Captain who thought he could simply resign was going to be getting.
. . . . . She dealt with a handful of coordination overtures from other units within the Ebon Blade and diplomatic responses from the Argent Dawn. Her mouth twisted downward as she considered penning an apology to Captain Meysha of the Brotherhood, but she decided to handle that in person. One Knight out on training duty had brought back several large bolts of netherweave from Outland and dumped them in stores at their barracks; a ghoul was sent to carry those down to a living courier in Light's Hope with a note as to how she intended the cloth to be put to good use - and warnings to keep all mention of undeath out of the transaction.
. . . . . Then there was something unusual in the stack: a missive penned in her native tongue. Typically, letters written in Draenei were delivered directly to her personal inbox as only three of her own people wrote to her and none dealt in unit business. She did not recognize this flowery hand with its request for meeting while referring to her and Orill by rank. Was this from the Elysium's leader? Was one of her elder brothers injured and unable to contact her? No, the letter would be more urgent, and their leader was named Khai'xur. Perhaps it was from the Sha'nash, then; among that group, her unit had no official contacts, but this didn't read like a diplomatic overture. This letter spoke of "a few updates" casually, as if she should know the writer. It set her teeth on edge.
. . . . . Over the last few years, Orill had spent time enhancing her knowledge of all things mysterious in paper. She would never be up to his level in the artistic side of penmanship and forgery, but that was more from lack of aptitude than lack of study. But just because she could not apply the physical craft did not mean she couldn't apply the deductive reasoning which went along with it. Turning the parchment over in her hands, she tested the weight and thickness of it - low quality, inexpensive, courier-grade paper. The address was written in the same flowery Draenei which meant some ghoul would've had to take it to a translator to get it to her - probably one of the Ebon Blade guards on duty. It was near the top of her stack of paper, meaning delivery had been within the last two days. She turned it again and inspected the handwriting - a native writer and likely a female or effete male from the flourishes and excessive curlicues, not heavy-handed as the nib hadn't pressed enough to emboss the paper, and right-handed in a mild hurry if the faint smudge pattern of ink on the signature was being read properly. It was signed by a "Miliam" which was a suitable enough name for an exiled one, but not a name she recognized. It was also signed "Azeroth Messenger" which led her to believe the one writing it may not necessarily be the one requesting the meeting.
. . . . . Curious... And unsettling.
. . . . . She penned a short response requesting that further contact be made with specific availability for this mysterious meeting and had a ghoul take it down to Light's Hope; someone there would have seen this messenger, or perhaps said messenger was below awaiting response. A second note, hastier but no less precise and neat in its Common script, was carried off to the Frost Quarter with her observations for Orill. Funny how quickly she re-adapted to the work.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Site Write Entry #31: Confessional

Prompt: June 6, 2012 - Confessions. Your character is brought somewhere by or against their will to confess something they are guilty of, carrying in their heart and/or withholding from the enemy. Is the confession simple or did the secrets have to be ripped from your flesh? Explain what happens and whether your character breaks.
. . . . . One of the worst parts of being immersed in life on the streets was being subject to the vagaries of life on the streets. You go and do everything you can to set up your reputation in the proper circles and let it be known that you run with the rest of the gutter-scum, and then some new bucks come into town not knowing the rules and think they'll be Billy Badass and nab themselves a merchant's wife for ransom gold.
. . . . . Ilva blinked several times at the wan torchlight in the dusty cellar. It wasn't so much that it was bright, but that after several hours with her hood over her head down to her nose and her runecloth bandages wrapped over her eyes, the return to vision was eye-watering. The goose egg throbbing on the back of her skull didn't help either.
. . . . . "Oy," grumped one of the looming shadows, "who's yer man? Bet he's gonna pay a pretty peck f'r you, ain't he?"
. . . . . "You can't ransom me, you twit," she groused, still too busy blinking away tears to focus on any of the four shadows in the room.
. . . . . "Cow patties, I cain't!" Her peripheral vision had recovered enough to show her a thick-fingered hand reaching out and plucking up the fabric of her robe over her knee. "I been watchin' you make trade deals all afternoon down dockside. You'll fetch us a right fine sack o' coin. So who's yer man?"
. . . . . "You ent gettin' squat off me, ninny-noggin, 'cause I ent worth it!" Ilva shot back, wriggling her arms behind her as she tested the amount of play in the ropes tying her to the rickety chair. Two of the four shadows around her moved off, clearly taken aback by her street-savvy response.
. . . . . But Thicky here just wasn't all that bright. He set his fingers on either side of her chin and lifted her head. "Mebbe we take our piece outta yer hide first, then we get yer fella payin' f'r his pretty wife back." Although she was taking pains to keep up her blind ruse and not focus on his face, the leer was fairly unmistakable.
. . . . . With a tone usually reserved for talking to the hard-of-hearing, the elderly, or the very young, Ilva gritted her teeth and asked, "Which group you runnin' with?"
. . . . . "Wot?"
. . . . . "Which. Group. Are. You. Running. With?"
. . . . . Thicky - who was less an indistinct shadow now and more a broadly over-fed, slobbery-lipped roller with limbs - dropped his hand from her face and stuck his chest out like the lumps on his chest were muscles; she was very good and did not giggle at his cleavage. "Ain't nobody we answer to in this town! We of the Grey Goose follow our own code!" 'Grey Goose' had to be the stupidest gang name she'd ever heard. What sort of moron named their gang that? "An' as its Upright Man, I say I'm ransomin' you - to yer man or a flesh trader." That answered that question. "Just as soon as you squawk out who."
. . . . . "That ent how it works in a big city like this," Ilva tried to patiently explain. "There's alliances 'twixt parties, affiliates and alliances to be maintained. You don't go nabbin' on another's turf an' expect not to be answerin' for it." Her head rocked to the side as Thicky laid a meaty palm to her cheek with the force of a Tram car. Pausing speech for a moment, she darted her tongue to the left side of her mouth and checked that none of her teeth wiggled. All solid. "Ow," she whined, then went on, "Like here. This is Canal Rats territory. They ent as violent as, say, Sanguines get, but they ent gonna be too pleased at poachin'."
. . . . . "Oy, boss," one of the two who'd stepped back dared to venture, "I don't think she's some merchantman's skirt."
. . . . . "Shut up, Galdir," snapped Thicky. He grabbed her robe again and gave it a good tug, trying to rip the skirt free.
. . . . . "Hey! Woah! Ho there! Ent none o' that!" Ilva protested, twisting in the chair she was tied to. "Look, I'll squawk, alright?" A breeze made one of the torches gutter and she got a whiff of cigar smoke, mint canes, and the faintest hint of fur; in order to cover the inevitable faint clanking, she made more of a show of wiggling in her chair so it creaked and groaned. "I ent wantin' to divulge this, see, and I ent a fan of sellin' out those wot keep me safe, so I'm only tellin' you who my man is...'cause I expect you're 'bout to meet 'im."
. . . . . A heavily-armed and armored brawler leaned a plate-covered shoulder on the doorjamb and tipped an invisible hat at the thief tied up in the chair in the cellar. "Oy, Rabbit, wot'd you get into?"
. . . . . "Just tryin' to get home, Badge." (Eredis's entry #32 immediately follows this incident from Badge's point of view.)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Site Write Entry #30: A Story

Prompt: June 5, 2012 - Your character to asked to retell a story before their own audience. What story do they tell and how does it turn out?
. . . . . "Did I ever tell you about the time my mentor and I saved our town from famine and became the famous heroes we are today?" The campfire between them crackled merrily as the beautiful, delicate creature across from him shook her head. For a moment, the soft swish of her green locks captivated him and he forgot what he'd been saying. Oh, right, amazing her with his heroic deeds!
. . . . . "So there was this terrible drought, see? Ent a drop of rain for nigh on three seasons, and all the food was shriveling up." As he launched into his tale, he bent his head back to the task of peeling the oddly-orange sweet tubers which were to be tonight's dinner. "In Hanglington-on-the-Rocks, we grew potatoes. Not like these here," he held a peeled sweet potato up, "but fatter, yellowy ones. Quite famous for them, really. Whole country knew that potatoes grew in our village." He nodded sagely as he began to slice, recalling the cheerful shouts of Oy, potato grubber! and Ent you from thet place wot ent nothin' but taters? "Without rain, though, the land was parched and the food weren't growing."
. . . . . The priestess pinched two elegant fingers together and plucked a tuft of bear fur off her purple robes. He coughed uncomfortably at the idea that he'd mussed her up and continued, "Wilmot - that's my mentor, see - and I were the village's only harvest witches. It was up to us to ensure the fields were fertile and the harvests hearty! So we had to get some water before everything died." The sliced sweet potatoes went into the pot of water boiling over the campfire. "Wilmot and I went through every book he owned on harvest magic. We even wrote some letters out to other witches like Marl and even Celestine. It took us two months of research and ritual preparations, and even in those two months, ent a drop of rain. Even the people were startin' to get thirsty." Onions joined the boiling water and potatoes, and through the haze of tears in his own eyes, he felt like he'd been stabbed in the heart to see the ethereal lady across from him with wet tracks down her graceful pink cheeks.
. . . . . For a moment, he fancied she cried over the plight of his people - then he realized they were both crying because of the onions and he went on, "My pops advanced me the golds I was to get on finishin' my training, and we spent it on the last of the ritual supplies we needed. Wilmot and I went out into the tater fields on a night in Hay Moon - when we should've been harvestin' them shrivelly roots - and set up our circle." Long green stalks of a juicy plant he'd heard called 'celery' were chopped and in the pot, though he saved one out to stir with. "The White Lady - that's wot y'all call the big moon, right?" Firelight danced over her gentle features as the priestess nodded at him. "She were big an' full that night." His accent got stronger as he got into the story and lost himself to the country boy he'd been. "We carved our symbols into the ground easy on account of the dryness, set candles up in the four corners of the circle." Busy adding pepper to the stew pot, he entirely missed the priestess's expression of consternation at the idea of corners in a circle. "We called the watchers, raised up a whole heap-load of power, and called to the gods for rain."
. . . . . He paused for dramatic effect, glancing up from his cooking at the delicate flower warming her hands across from him. She nodded encouragingly. "And damn - uh, darn! pardon my language - if they didn't crack open the sky and start it rainin' on us. Washed our ritual circle clean away and put the candles out. Everybody in Hanglington-on-the-Rocks came out and were dancin' 'round in the rain. So we maybe had to worry 'bout floodin' later 'cause it rained a week and a half solid, but hey, town weren't dry no more. And it was all up to me an' Wilmot! We're heroes, see?" He puffed his chest out and struck a pose with the stalk of celery in the air. The lovely priestess tucked a piece of hair behind one long, pointed ear and smiled. Inside, the farmboy melted; he'd do anything for that smile.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Site Write Entry #29: Drive

Prompt: June 4, 2012 - How does your character push forward?
. . . . . It was everywhere - dripping from necks, sliding on wrists, dangling from ears, even jangling around ankles. Some digging company had a fancy gala ball celebration and if anyone knew how to do fancy, it was folks who pulled things out of the ground and shined 'em up. Everyone was dressed in their shiniest finery, and Ilva simply could not take her eyes off the glitter as she walked around clustered groups of laughing people with a tray, offering them drinks.
. . . . . Ordinarily, she avoided Ironforge. It was a touch warm and the enclosed, underground city reminded her uncomfortably of a jail cell - not, that is, that'd she'd ever been nabbed and forced to endure one. In addition, if the bossman got word of her pulling any work around these folk, he'd slice her ears off, feed them to her, and then start on the torture. This company had been expressly forbidden to her for any work - for or against - when she hired on.
. . . . . But the lure of the glitter was too much.
. . . . . There. That group was on round six. They had to be feeling pretty darn good by now. A giggling young human lady lurched as she reached for one of the drinks Ilva was serving, knocking into the "waitress." Ilva caught her, though the drink spilled on her dress. An earbob ended up in her pocket.
. . . . . A particularly spry dwarf caught her around the thigh and grinned; Ilva wasn't entirely sure, but she thought she saw a wink somewhere in that beardy mass. As requested, she gave him a dance - whirling on the floor like waltzing with a partner some foot and a half shorter was not a challenge at all. (Not that anyone else recognized it as a waltz, as neither party actually knew how to dance.) It was six hours later that he noticed he'd dropped his coin pouch somewhere.
. . . . . Several older ladies - though still far from matronly - stood in a circle on the side, gossiping and chattering like a flock of birds. Hands waved and fluttered, curls were fingered, hair was tossed, laughs were faked (or not). Somehow in the melee, one of the waitresses handing out some delightful pomegranate and Dreaming Glory mixed drinks slipped in a joke which had the whole sewing circle doubled over in laughter. She slipped out with a necklace up her sleeve.
. . . . . The Rush suffused her and she grinned broadly, setting down her fifteenth empty tray and becoming suddenly quite scarce down a service hallway to the Tram. Weighted by her newest acquisitions, Ilva felt light as a feather as the Rush lifted her spirits and her heels with the pure fuel of adrenaline and accomplishment, driving her forward.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Site Write Entry #28: Cryptic Messages

Prompt: June 3, 2012 - Scribbled across a random piece of parchment is the following: Each to his grief, each to his loneliness and fidgety revenge. What does this mean to your character?
This entry should rightly be shown with the two preceding entries written by Redamous and Eredis for this Site Write topic. As neither is archiving in a place I can link to (other than the forums I seek to avoid "creep loss" from) at the moment, both posts are included here for reference.

Entry 28: Meaning, and Meaningless

"Each to his grief, each to his loneliness and fidgety revenge? What the bloody Fel is that supposed to mean?" Red grumbled to himself. "Is there just some holiday that's been goin' on for awhile or somethin'? 'Give Red Weird Mail Week' or somethin'?"

He watched the geist who'd given it to him bound off, trying to bore holes into the back of his moronic head.

What was this supposed to mean? Grief? Anything he probably should feel grief over he'd made amends with himself long ago. In a way there were times he stood alone, walking the Hold or Stormwind, but he wasn't lonely.

Fidgety revenge. What was that supposed to mean though? How did that even come close to fit with loneliness and grief? Grief could be caused by the loss of loved ones that would lead to loneliness. He supposed that depending on how you came into your grief that one might want revenge. But he could never get revenge to what he had once grieved over.

How does one even get revenge on one's self, truly?
Entry #28:  Suck it, I've done 28 in a row

That Geist's screech was getting on his nerves, but at least Lackey had done what Eredis had asked.

The Knight sat at a small stone table in a windowless room somewhere in the bowels of Acherus.  He had scribed a note to go out to a few select people - a copy, rather, of a note that he had received.

"Each to his grief, each to his loneliness and fidgety revenge."

Eredis snorted.  Knights knew of each, though their revenge couldn't be termed 'fidgety' even on the best of days.  To grief and loneliness, however...

The creatures of the 1113th knew well of both.  Their operatives would sow grief and separation wherever they went, and their pasts were rife with it.  Each had come to terms with their own grief and loneliness years ago - accomplished via regicide.  Even so, the Knights set aside a day every year that was for them to remember what it was to be alive, and to refresh their vows to the living.

The Day of the Dead.

During last year's Day, Eredis had dressed as he did in life - a baker, and stood atop a statue in Raven Hill's cemetery to tell the people that they, the dead, wished nothing but the best of life for the living.  That they died for the living and would do so again.  That in doing so, the dead wished that the living would take each day and truly live it.

To grieve, perhaps, but to realize that no living being is truly alone.  Everyone came into this world with loved ones, and even if they did die, those loved ones still watched and waited.

The dead, after all, are patient.  They have nothing but time.

Perhaps, Eredis surmised as he withdrew a small deck of hand-painted cards, he would have the Captain and the Commander both speak on this year's Day of the Dead.  There was some time, of course, but to each their grief, loneliness, and fidgety revenge.

The thought of subjecting them to public relations made his foot tap once.  Fidgety, indeed.

. . . . . Nearly two weeks had gone past since the Brigadiers had been returned to "normal" by the unit's restoration of their stolen essences of undeath. Yet still, they both held themselves mostly in seclusion, leaving Commander Nis'tara and Captains Redamous and Kueliig to handle the day-to-day operations of the unit.
. . . . . Valdiis stood before the railing of the balcony on the training tier of Acherus, her forearms resting on the supports which were chest-high for her but head-high for most others. Her plated vambraces gleamed with a fresh polish and buff. Since remembering she was undead, she'd been spending a great deal more time than usual immersed in her rituals - the routine reminders of step A to step B to step I'm-not-killing-anyone-today. The rote nature of it all was helping to ground her in reality once more, to forget that - for a brief time - she had believed herself perfectly who she was, but yet alive.
. . . . . Off to her left, there was a high-pitched clearing of throat accompanied by an excited shuffle. Valdiis only barely managed to restrain her groan of exasperation through the rigid emotional control imposed on her since shortly before her death. Barely. It was one of those damn fool geists which had attached itself to Eredis in the last few months. Laney? Lordy? Lackey. That was it. None of her thought process flickered on her face, except for the single arched eyebrow which had been a trademark of Orill's - and indeed, he still did it best - but something she absorbed by extended exposure to his acerbic expressions.
. . . . . Somewhat nonplussed by the familiar raised eyebrow echoed on quite the wrong face in his memory, Lackey was actually silent for a moment. That moment was all it took for Valdiis to lean over and snatch the folded note from his rotted hands and wave him away dismissively. She had about as much regard for the comings and goings and desires of a geist as she did for a starving goblin in Tanaris. Which is to say pretty much none at all.
. . . . . Each to his grief, each to his loneliness and fidgety revenge. For several moments, she stared at the cryptic note. The hand was quite familiar, of course. The words were perfectly clear; she was well-trained in reading and writing Common, and her speech only suffered insofar as she was physically damaged and unable to produce certain sounds. The meaning was what eluded her. What in the Twisting Nether was Eredis up t-... Aha. How like him to use cryptic notes and signals, even after their return to "normal," to pass along information. She rolled the note in her gloved hand and turned away from the balcony railing, heading towards the Frost Quarter.
. . . . . It was time they set down a plan for reminding the Knights just why no one in the unit advanced through attempted murder of their superiors anymore.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Site Write Entry #27: The Beggar

Prompt: June 2, 2012 - While in Stormwind, your character is stalked by a homeless fellow. He doesn't say a word to you and won't let you outrun him. There is nothing pleasant about him, so much to your character's annoyance, you're forced to interact with him. What happens? Ultimately, the beggar just wants a slice of cheese you may or may not have.
. . . . . His was the dirt of a thousand nights spent in alleys, and the stench of those nights spent wallowing in the trash bins for scraps. He was ragged and torn, matted with gummy substances she had no desire to identify. What might well have been blood crusted on one ear and he limped in a manner which suggested the leg had been broken and healed back funny. But most annoyingly of all, he would not stop following her.
. . . . . She tried to lose him down a side street in the Trade District, but he caught up. She tried to escape with a quick detour over the canal on a path of frost, but he jumped into the foul black moat and swam to follow her. She even tried a chilly glare which - when coupled with her dead grey skin and the unholy blue glow of her eyes - could quell even some hardened military commanders, but he just tilted his head to the right and gave her a droll stare.
. . . . . Quite soon, she would be at the unit's branch office in the Dwarven District, and the last thing she needed was to have this filthy thing follow her all the way to the door. Valdiis needed to shake this beggar off before someone noticed and started asking questions. Hooves ringing on the cobblestone, she darted starboard into one of the tributaries of Cut-throat Alley. One hand on the hilt of her axe over her back, she turned to level a second cold glare at her follower. He sat down on the ground in front of her.
. . . . . "Oh, for Naaru's sake," she muttered. "Vhat is it you vant?"
. . . . . Slowly, his muddy blue gaze traveled from her face down to the fawn-colored pouch buckled to her hip.
. . . . . "Zis? Zis has been empty for two years now!" She pulled the pouch off and opened it, turning it inside out to show. Out fell a half-inch square of Emmentaler cheese. Quick as a cat, her follower was off his behind and snatched up the fallen morsel. Equally as quick, he was gone, his dun-colored tail swishing behind him as he sauntered off with his prize.
. . . . . "Huh," she muttered. "And here I imagined ze cats had ceased followink me."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Site Write Entry #26: Beauty in the Strangest Places

Prompt: June 1, 2012 - What's an unusual/weird item/person/place that your character finds beauty in?
. . . . . "It just falls so wonderfully off the tongue!"
. . . . . "It's too short."
. . . . . "But that's what makes it wonderful!"
. . . . . Athos crossed his arms and scowled across the little wooden table dinner had been set upon on the ship they were taking down the Kalimdor coast. "What's wrong with Djemiiliak?" Of course, that came out sounding - to a Draenei speaker - more like "What is wrong with Green-Beast-Lumbers-With-Grace?" 
. . . . . "It's unwieldy." Diyos picked up a long loaf of bread from the plate between them and waved one end of it at his brother. "It's unnecessarily long and lacks the elegant grace of a shorter name."
. . . . . "It's human," Athos protested, leaning back before he was beaned by a loaf.
. . . . . "I know! It's great! It's so succinct and solid and it's just got grace to it that our own language can't quite encapsulate. I'm going to rename him to Jim." To a Draenei speaker, that sounded a lot like "I am going to rename him to Jim."  
. . . . . Athos grimaced at the distastefully abrupt syllable. "Haven't you damaged that elekk enough?"
. . . . . "Hey!" The loaf was more aggressive now. "It's entirely not my fault he thinks he's a squirrel."
. . . . . "You encourage it!"
. . . . . "I do not!"
. . . . . Athos closed his eyes for a moment, and as his hand was coming up to pinch the bridge of his nose - as if to stave off a headache - BAM! right between the eyes with the crusty end of a loaf of bread. He batted it aside and shook a finger at his elder brother. "You should've given him back to the handlers so he could be retrained."
. . . . . "It's not a matter of retraining. He hit his head! The handlers would've put him down for such an injury."
. . . . . "Put him out of his misery, you mean."
. . . . . "Jim is not miserable! He's a very happy squirrelekk."

Monday, June 4, 2012

Site Write Entry #25: A Succulent

Prompt: May 31, 2012 - Succulent
. . . . . "Hoi, brother!" The shout traveled easily over the sun-baked sands. "Come take a look at this!"
. . . . . Diyos turned away from his forlorn search of the sandy horizon for a glimmer of water and headed for the source of the call, his twin, Athos. His younger brother (by a only a few minutes, he would not hesitate to remind!) was standing before quite the oddest looking tree Diyos had ever seen. His brother's braid fell off his left shoulder as he tilted his head that direction, clearly giving this strange thing his best curious regard.
. . . . . "Can I drink it?" Diyos whined as he approached.
. . . . . "Well, maybe. You see, it looks thick and juicy from here, but the spi- DIYOS!"
. . . . . It was too late. The parched priest had run headlong to the odd tree and grabbed a branch. There was just one problem; the branch - indeed, the whole "tree" - was covered in long, sharp spines. Diyos howled and pulled his hand back, two long spines embedded in his palm.
. . . . . "Honestly, I was trying to tell you to be careful," Athos chided as he called upon the Light to soothe his twin's wounds and cease the flow of blood from his palm.
. . . . . "I thought you were about to go into pedantic mode again. And I am thirsty!" Diyos scowled. "Let's head towards the coast for water."
. . . . . "We haven't even mapped as far as these fabled time caverns yet!"
. . . . . "We can come back! Besides, that goblin back in Gadgetzan said we'd find folks with water out that way. Perhaps someone will be feeling kindly enough to share."

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Site Write Entry #24: The Future

Prompt: May 30, 2012 - Future
. . . . . Among those exiled from their home planet, only one holds the gift of true prophecy, an ineffable knowledge of the paths ahead and how to sort them. True prophets are a rare thing, for so much knowledge and so little ability to change it drives one mad. The Prophet Velen is the only one for whom the Sight is strong, definable, and frankly useful in any real way.
. . . . . The Seers and Farseers, so new to the voices of the ancestors and the wisdom of the elements do not so much see the future as a woven mesh of threads of fate as they occasionally get a second's glimpse of one inch of one thread of a hundred thousand pieces which make up fate's fabric as it whizzes by in the loom of time. Seeing is, quite understandably, a minor part of what a Farseer among the draenei does. However, when one spends so much time in the wilds with the quietude of the world as a companion and the noise of the threads of others muted by distance, the ancestors' words can be more easily heard.
. . . . . At least, that's what Rosoe told herself as she settled down before her campfire - this one somewhere on a hillside in Ashenvale - and interlaced her fingers, stretching them out before her with a satisfying crack from her knuckles. Her Farsight was called on more often than not for glimpses of the present or the recent past, and that was what it was best suited for. Just because she didn't have a need to call upon her Sight for predictions did not mean she should let the ability to glimpse one possibility among thousands go to seed. She was ever a practical sort and felt no training should go wasted or unpracticed - even the healing she was always so abysmal at.
. . . . . The sharp flensing knife she kept on her belt came free and was used to prick the tip of one finger, releasing a few drops of cobalt blue blood onto a handful of dried silvery-grey leaves. The handful of dried fadeleaf went into the fire, releasing a billow of white smoke. The white smoke entered her lungs on a deep inhale, releasing her spirit to take a half-step to the right and peer at the tapestry of possibility.  
. . . . . Often, the less she knew someone, the better the Seeing could be, for she didn't muddle up her own desires in the warp and weft of the threads she wanted to find. Almost never did she See for herself or someone close to her. Unless, that is, the vision forced itself upon her like a plucked thread breaking free to smack her in the face with a rebound of tension.

. . . . . The land will be unseen, unknown. It will roil with emotion and, yes, more war. The smoke will clear, the arms will drop, and there shall lie a field. This field will be unconscionably wet, like the fields used to grow water poppies in Zul'drak. But this field will not grow soporifics; it will grow food. A steadfast soul will walk among the food. None other will be allowed to harvest it. A bitter soul will arrive; in many ways, her soul is even stronger than his, her hold on her shell driven by Will alone while his is fueled by Spite. Will and Spite shall walk the wet land, visited at times by the soul of Protection. The food will rise from the puddles to be harvested by the dead to provide nourishment and, indeed, a quiet joy to the web spun by Spite.

. . . . . The world spun gently - probably from lack of ability to gain a full breath in all the smoke - as Rosoe's spirit slipped back into her body, the vision completed. As many of her visions, it made little sense and was never aught but one possibility among thousands, but she dutifully picked up the notebook she'd placed at her side and wrote the vision down. Once written, her eyes settled on the Draenei word for Spite. There was a flash of black-patterned-grey in her mind, and she suddenly knew the whole of the vision. Rosoe smiled at her campfire and hoped - though she was far too known for being grumpy and practical to admit to such fancies as hope - that such quiet would come, one day.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Site Write Entry #23: The Standoff

Prompt: May 29, 2012 - By chance, your character happens to stumble across an enemy. This enemy can be personal, from the other faction or an acquaintance. The two of you are caught on neutral ground, so no fighting is to happen there. So what happens, if anything at all?
. . . . . The battle had been horrendous - a gory, brutal affair in which innards spilled and blood spattered and limbs were torn free. It was - as so many of such things seemed - a near pointless capture of a forward point in Silverpine, long before the Wall came down. The Alliance wanted a place to set up a forward base in hopes of encroaching on Tirisfal, and so AEGIS went to set up a forward base. It was only natural that word got out - it always did; so few ops could stay entirely black - and the Horde got wind and the strike forces were sent.
. . . . . So here they were, the Alliance victorious while surrounded by corpses which, unlike their allies from Acherus, wouldn't be getting back up again. Triage was in full-swing, the heat of battle over as the rear guard moved in with supplies and began setting up tents to shelter the worst of the wounded. Valdiis rarely sought medical attention with her allies after battle, and saw to it that her liaison Bergmann healed her as little as possible. The little man caused such agony!
. . . . . Limping from a blow which had sliced a tendon or two and left control of her right leg wobbly, she left the captured point's safe zone and headed up the road. The Horde were sending what few brave scouts they could spare to retrieve injured from the field and by some odd, mutual nonaggression pact such actions were typically allowed. Probably just because both sides were busy tending the wounded and temporarily unconcerned with supremacy. Besides, heading to the battlefield to dispatch wounded Horde who could come back to fight her later would mean hobbling some quarter mile, alone, into a blood-soaked field. No, she'd just sit here on this fence by the side of the road and collect her thoughts, observe the Horde movements, see who they took the most care in retrieving (for assassinations later), and rest.
. . . . . It is amazing what the calm in the hour or so after retreats have been sounded will allow. One of the AEGIS commanders sat, unprotected and injured, on a fence out of shouting range of the Alliance triage, and no one bothered her. That is, no one bothered her until there was a faint rustle behind her and a quietly cheerful "Hee!"
. . . . . "Ah, zat damned dead elf. Are you offerink to let me pull your ozer arm off?" Valdiis didn't get up. She seemed quite confident of her ability to take down the undead elf who emerged from the grass and clambered up onto the fence beside her.
. . . . . "Of course not, miss Valdiis! Doctor Rasomil would be mad if I undid all his hard work! Hee!"
. . . . . Valdiis kept her hand near the hidden dagger on her belt, but nodded. "Good slice out zere at ze Sepulcher. I almost dropped ze grip on you."
. . . . . "Hee! Thanks!" The dead elf smiled even wider than before, her rotted face a grotesque example of glee in the extreme.
. . . . . Against all common sense, two soldiers who would kill each other without question or hesitation on the battlefield, the commanders of their respective military strike teams sat on the fence within arm's reach and spent a few minutes kvetching on the challenges of repairing an unliving body.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Site Write Entry #22: Addict

Prompt: May 29, 2012 - Junkie
. . . . . When one lived - by choice - very much alone for long stretches of time, necessity demanded that one acquire skill in feeding the body to keep it going. Skill, however, was not the same thing as art. Every cook of skill has some dish or another (or several) of which they can create art.
 . . . . . Rosoe touched a hand to one of the stone-formed totems on a leather cord around her neck, calling upon her connection to the spirits of water as she rubbed the small bit of resin packed into a recess on the totem. The warmth of her fingers warmed the resin enough to release some of its sweet, seaweed-like scent - an offering, however small, in return for the favor she asked. Water was not her best element, but in this task, the spirits were used to her call; a faint blue glow coated her hand, protecting her for several minutes from the various dangers and pains of the five elements.
. . . . . She reached a hand into the coals of her campfire and pulled out a flat metal container about the size of a scribe's pencil box. The metal's heat was temporarily shielded by the resistance gift from the water spirits, but she still worked fast to pop the container open and flip two moist, flaky, succulent mudfish onto a plate and set the container on a rock to cool.
. . . . . Her other hand adroitly opened one of the myriad pouches around her neck - this one textured like crocolisk skin - and removed a pinch of sharp, tangy herbs. Those were rubbed onto both fish before a splash of wine from a small jar was added to the plate, a second splash added to the coals in thanks, and a third splash tipped into her mouth to share the bounty she'd offered to the sudden blue flash of flames from the alcohol on the coals.
. . . . . A slender flensing knife slipped under the scales of the filets, peeling the skin free but leaving it in place to keep the flesh moist. Her work done, she leaned her back against a rock, dangled her hooves over the steam from the Winterspring hot spring, propped open a book (one of those racy cheap novels, not that anyone would know!), and waited for the huffing and clanking to announce the arrival of her ever-cheerful vindicator deliveryman.
. . . . . Ortuuze paused at the top of a rocky outcropping, some distance well behind the Farseer's campfire. He watched her, waiting for the last of the work to be finished and for a book to come out to signal that she had completed all her necessary duties. Over the months, as he'd gotten fitter and fitter, he no longer arrived out of breath. But she always smiled and gently joked with him when he did, so once he had given her at least ten pages of reading, he loosened the straps on his armor, jogged in place for a moment to raise his breathing, and trundled down to meet her for dinner - his absolute favorite: mudfish.