Sunday, 10 July 2011

Bit of a Warcraft on a lazy sunday morning :)

I started another character on Warcraft - just because. I love starting them, I have a slot open just to do that every couple of weeks. For some reason I love starting the Undead, though not so much playing them later on. (The Worgen is the new cool undead :))
           Bits have changed, though and I will have to check up on my storylines...  individually, all of them :))
          But this is the bit I love the most: fresh starts. I love how that's done with the Undead - you literally wake up in a grave and whatever history you might have had, it's insignificant now. Best not to think about it. What every perky summer girl you were, you are a rotten corpse now and just pissed off enough to do something practical about it. Wearing practically nothing, not even your skin, and armed with something that would pass as a joke outside your family yard standard, you have to do itty bitty errands for strangers that also seem to be dead - just a little while longer. There's a whole world outside that you probably never really got to see, or even comprehend, but now suddenly, the old you knew and lived by, suddenly isn't big enough for you anymore...

here's a bit of fan fiction I wrote while I played... :))

Chapter 1 – the nasty beginnings

The only thing I realized, when I woke up – not fear, not anger, not even confusion – was that I was long dead and that everything that might have been important to me when I was a smiling summer girl, was somebody else's problem. There was a cheap, rotten coffin all around me, except for the lid and the grave was badly shallow - they barely needed to dig deep to find me. My limbs were bone with bits of old leathery skin on it and as far as I could tell, my jaw was missing, but if I looked only half as bad as the man who woke up in an opened grave next to mine, my earthly issues were surely over.
            It was a nice day. Don’t know why, but I always thought the Undead only walked around at night. Perhaps that was just more fuel to the fire of dread that the living felt about the long nights and strange sounds in the forests. It wasn’t true at all: it was a wonderful day and nothing about it bothered me. I wasn’t certain where we were, but then again I could hardly remember what happened. I think the whole family was trying to move south and seek shelter with the highland villages that common folk spoke was free of plagues and bandits, but I guess either one of though caught up with us and we all died. Or just me. I don’t know. As far as I could tell, I was wearing what remained of uncle Howard’s shirt and trousers, which was probably the only clothes they could spare to bury me in. I was also holding an old family sword in my hands. If I thought real hard, I could vaguely remember using it to defend my family from wolves, but wielding rusty old swords or thinking, for that matter, wasn’t my strong suit any longer. I had few tandems or brain.
            Above me, there was a bright ghost. It wasn’t mine, because I never looked anything but a farmer’s girl and this was like something out of a heroic tale, even wearing shadows of armor about it, and it greeted me in an odd voice that I perfectly understood. It knew my name. It said that I am welcomed back and that I am free of any plague or slavery that once bound the undead to the Lich king in the Old War. I am to do what I choose, though cursed with this state, and it is something like a second chance. But nobody will help me make my decisions, but me. I tried to remember how old I was when I died. Nineteen, maybe? Seventeen? Not twelve. I had all of my teeth in my upper jaw. Didn’t have my lower jaw, though, and it wasn’t in the coffin.
            By the cemetery, which was on a knoll between an old tomb and a small village, was a man who talked to the walking corpses. He was Undead, too, but he seemed rather fatherly about it. My initial embarrassment of walking around jawless (I felt almost naked, and that was a joke.) diminished when I saw that quite most of us, who were being slowly, methodically dug out to be checked for signs of… inertia… were missing body parts. This man, Mordo, inspected the dead and decided if we were worth patching up. He found me a jaw and after I helped him find some thread and embalming fluids – which would have smelled ghastly if I could smell anything – he sewed it into my face to make it more shapely. He also gave me a new scalp with more hair. I was used to it being brown and long, not short and hay-colored, but then again I was also used to having flesh on my face. For an undead, he said, I looked well. The others, he gestured, were less fortunate in returning conscious and would wobble and sway around, the mindless zombies that they were. Mordo said they were not dangerous and to stretch myself, to exercise some mercy on them, using that sword of mine. I cannot remember if I ever killed anyone, bigger than a rabbit, but killing something that was neither alive nor dead was an exercise in stretching moral fiber indeed…
            I ended half a dozen and master Mordo called for me to stop – it was enough. It was not difficult at all. They had no faces, no meat on them, they just stumbled around, grunting and any well aimed swing of a sword, no matter how blunt, severed their heads and they withered. It became very apparent that even Undead can die. Not quite so quickly and not from malady or drowning or hunger, but certainly of having our body torn to bits and the head taken off. We were not immortal eternally. Not at all. We were in fact, quite fragile.
            Another man, undead man, asked me, impatiently, to use what I have left of my tongue to soothe some of those who died worse and woke up feeling like they’re still being killed, and would not find the odd and passive serenity that somehow found me as they suddenly realized they are no longer part of a shiny happy world.. I wasn’t certain what to say. Perhaps if I knew magic, I could have just whispered gentle breeze into their skulls and make it all alright. Alas, I know no magic. A strong man eventually embraced his fate, a small girl didn’t and would just run and cry and there was a soldier who probably wasn’t very good at living even when he was alive…
            It was impossible to explain why I suddenly felt so much energy in me. I needed not sleep or eat, I could run and fight, I could talk and the strangeness of the sound of my voice seemed so very honest. Nothing in me needed to mourn my family, or myself for that matter, I only wanted to stare at things and then make a step closer. Every things. The trees, the beasts, the others. The moon.
            Seeing that I was, by newly resurrected standards, physically and above all mentally fit, they asked me to join some other ‘soldiers’ (Hah! Me, a soldier!) and help with the arrangements. The village, Deathknell, is only of the dead. Some more homely than others. In what remains of their church and their smithies, there are people willing to trade services for favors. It might not be such a bad thing, as my old sword could hardly be any blunter, unless it was a broom handle. I was told it is not crime to go through the pockets of corpses for things of need, as there is few other resources to hope for and the dead no longer need it whereas the Undead need it for sure. Some good leather boots might not go amiss, as even bones on rock is delicate and respecting what remains of me should become my main concern. Also mayhap a sturdy leather jacket. There are ghouls in the village that scratch somewhat fierce!

            After a few days of helping the deathguards and running errands, getting myself a decent enough attire, I was sent to deliver a letter to an estate outside the well protected Deathknell valley. As soon as I got onto the road I could see it: the land of Tirisfal Glades, once the lushest and most wonderful of human lands, has long become a mess. Much was literally plagued, putrid and toxic and many of the animals that would have been wild dogs, bats, rats and spiders were now rabid monsters, roaming the dead knolls, looking for blood. Unlike the valley, where we were safe from everything but ourselves, here everyone hated us: the poachers, the farmers, the animals and the plants. I barely escaped with my life when I was asked to get some pumpkins from a near-by sieged field – crude awakening that grounded me for a couple of days. I decided to take on less active jobs and instead spend more time practicing. Though of course I did not like the station: all I could think of was where the forest road that passed it was leading. There were tradesmen there, who would often mention their skill and offer to take me into apprenticeship, but I could not find it in myself to care for scholarly uptakes. I did read a book that my family had, slowly, when we were moving with the carts and the vagons, but in the end it did not save me at all.
            The first time I took the road boldly, it brought me to Brill. I was so excited to see the size of it!! The cemetery alone was larger than our entire old farm! I’ve heard of grand cities, like Stormwind and the like, but I have never seen them and so at first I thought Brill was the capital of the undead. It took a very patient innkeeper to explain that now very far from Brill lies the ruins of Lordaeron and beneath it is the infamous Undercity: the true metropolis of gloom and decay. (I am still thankful I cannot smell anything; it makes coping often so much easier.)
            I took up a room in Brill, which, although for a certain amount of errands, it was free and there were a few maids there and a couple of travelers. They told me there was once just small cottages here, but now the innkeeper’s house is very large, stone-build and with a cool and dark tomb for those who prefer a goth air. They gave me a stone, a hearthstone, with magic in it to teleport me home when I would want or need it. At a time it seemed strange that anyone would need it, but it became very practical after only a day or running around. Once I was asked to ride a very large bat to the Undercity to retrieve a parcel, but Undercity startled me: I could not bring myself to go explore it, not even only a little. It was much too large and there were too many people there – undead and sometimes strange cow folk or even orcs! A knight stood by me in Brill, using the flight path from the Mistress Bat handler, whose armor was so bright I could see my own reflection in it, but his weapon was so large and dense like a tree. There were no opportunities to interview anyone, because there was always work to be done and always something happening, though I am sure they would all have stories to tell…
            Sometimes we would have to fight mad men that called themselves the Scarlet Crusade. These were no dead priests but instead perfectly well and living zealots that turned on the people and wanted nothing but fortune and power – in whatever small amount they could take it. I heard of a massive monastery that housed hundreds of warrior-monks, but I was warned never to venture there if I hold my peace of mind dear. People believed we were monsters and I was currently living in  a world where we were just trying to get by like everyone else and it was living human folk that did all the worst did to the region.
            One always had to be very careful, wandering around. Though the land was lovely, in its strange, decrepit way, if an animal, fierce with madness of disease, attacked you for want of brain or marrow, often others ganged up and often desperate flight was the only escape. If in truth the body became too broken and the spirit would have departed, there is a force that offers you safe passage back into your body. I would not like to wake up in the shallow grave in Deathknell again, so I am very cautious. After two wild dogs rattled me and it took too long and too much hurt to defeat them, and a giant shadow passed me, I nearly hid into a bush, but as it turned out, that was only a shadow of a zeppelin – a very large and very curious transportation method that is situated between UC and Brill: two towers that take you to four different destinations to places I cannot even think of. For the time being, I am thinking of going only around.
            Perhaps the most difficult thing for me for now is water. The dead are not happy about water – we never were, we never will be. Surely, we cannot drown, but we cannot swim too well either and encouraging rot is not the favorite idea. Often I go around water just to avoid it, even if that brings upon a whole new issue: running. There is lots of running if you are young and conditionally immortal. J Sometimes, when I have to go looking for flowers in the water, there are fun things, too, though: I love the Undead fish! They are so funny. Haha, fishbones in schools, swimming about. Quite amusing. I like those. But you should never watch an undead trying to gather up several sea cucumbers – unless you want to die laughing :D
            After I got better at using weapons and – especially – dodging blows from other things that sting and cut – I returned to the estates under Deathknell valley and bested several gangs that bothered the farmsteads – I was so proud of myself! Soon, I thought, nothing I ever cross will be able to best me! I times I took on two or three strong men and still I bested them. These days passing slow and the sun bright for things alive, I was becoming another Joustine entirely.
            Which is, of course, when the worst things happen. The ugly and embarrassing truth is that no matter which food you give an undead – moudly bread, old cheese or the finest apple pie – nothing feeds us faster or more effectively than other corpses. Fresh, juicy, hot corpses. I am terrified of myself for saying this, but cannibalism is the sweetest thing. Perhaps we really are monsters. Before I died, there could not have been a thing in the whole world that feared me, but now the very sight – the very thought of me inspires dread.
            I made an ugly mistake, assuming I was invincible. Another ‘young’ undead found a note, speaking of a prisoner and I volunteered to breach the Scarlet Palisade in his stead, brave and naïve. It was terrible. Everything I did, I did wrong – I fought wrong, I dodged wrong, I panicked and ran when it was the worst time to leave my back exposed and I changed my mind and turned, desperately, at all the wrong moments. I broke the flask of a healing potion to save myself, but it did not save me. Nothing could, not any lesson on how to stab to bleed my enemies, not how to use the kill victory rush on another. I died, died and died again – death so terrible it was nothing like that from which a Valkyre called me. Those who think that the undead cannot feel pain, or fear, are dead wrong.
            I am sorry for the prisoner I failed to save and perhaps even for the men and women I slashed, but in truth, I feel sorry most of all for myself. Hating my new self, the fact that we are rotten, that we poison and torture and scheme was nothing compared to the look in the eyes of the zealots when they wanted me back into the ground. Those looks and screams would have given me eternal nightmares if I slept or had dreams. Living with them awake, such as my living was, was unpleasant enough.
            For the next two days I did nothing but help collect herbs, skin hounds and helped track and defeat worgen infiltrators that turned out to be sneaking abound Brill as stealthy as only rogues can. I delivered some letters and poisoned a dwarf – much joy did that bring me – and got a new long sword from the deathguard commander who took interest in me. He would have probably recruited me for even more strenuous tasks, for even if I could no longer proud myself on it I was an interesting thing when it came to wielding long swords, but I was not in the mood for it. Cutting down flowers was as brutal as I went in those days.
            The herbalist lady was just showing me how to make a herb pouch that will fit more flowers and leaves and not have them crushes among other useful loot I sometimes find on defeated or lying around, I was returning to the inn to sort them all out neatly, when the innkeeper intercepted me on my way to the room. “You have a visitor,” he said. Often we spoke, but I don’t think he actually ever instigated a dialogue.
            “I do? Me?” I asked, surprised.
            “Yes. I sent them in your room.”
            “Who is it?”
            The Innkeeper exchanged glances with his barman, but I could not see if they were afraid or proud of the customer. “High folk,” they said and I understood none of it. Who could possibly be higher than us?
            My visitor was not in the room, but a maid told me they got bored of waiting and went down to the stables to check on their mount. I followed by the back door, finding myself in the comfortable yard and looking at the stables. There was a mount unlike any I’ve ever seen before, not a dragon, not a ghost, not a comet, but translucent and magnificent like a dream. Beside it stood a warrior of very high mark, wearing clothes like a king and a weapon like a king slayer. It was very tall and had glorious, radiant hair. When it turned, a face of an elf woman smiled at me and I stepped back, with my broken jaw open.
            “Hello again”, she said, with a voice of a winter morning.
            I know that I should have been very afraid, because I was brought up to dread elves and always remember they kill human folk like me, but it just wasn’t coming: the fear. Nobody else seemed to take much heed in her, so I couldn’t be expecting a rescuer, but… There was an emotion somewhere deep behind my death calm, but it was not negative. It was almost like a…
            “You do not remember me yet?” said the regal stranger.
            … a friendly memory.
            “I am sorry. I do not remember much of anything from… before. Did you kill me?”
            The elf almost choked laughing. “Good heavens, no! No. In fact, I did NOT kill you when we once met. You were a traveling girl then, with your family, you were all going south. You ventured from the caravan to seek firewood and I was passing by on my pursuit of a scholarly trail. If I had wanted, I could have killed you like a small mouse, but it is not in my temper to pick on unarmed.” Her smile, still elf-like, became even more warm. I could not remember an elf ever looking this pleasant in my father’s stories. “We talked. Then. Remember? We talked of far lands and great battles and strange things that one meets and can fear or love, and you talked about how much you love the road.”
            “I remember that!” I breathed, startled. “Not the talk, but… That I loved the road!”
            I do love the road. I could not say it until now, but this was just what the truth was!
            “I know,” nodded the elf pleasantly, pulling a very large bag from the saddle of her celestial dragon. “I came across your caravan later on, it did not survive the passage from the mountain. Some of it was ice, some were worgs, some were plague things… I am sorry for your family, but a grave robber told me, this upon his last breath, that some young things under plague often wake in these grounds, so I came to see if perhaps you are not a Horde maiden these days.”
            “It is such a strange thing to take on. I have not fully grasped it yet myself.” That my family may be dead, all of it, made sense. And peace. In a dead mind that’s how loss is welcomed – we stay behind and wish upon the living life and upon the dead the death. Us, left in between, envy both a little, and stay away from them all.
            “I see you’ve taken on the warrior’s valor,” she marked at my long old sword. “Have you thought about the road, though?” asked the elf, seeing me contemplate my history.
            Our eyes met. Even though perhaps she was a lot taller than me and very much more alive, not to mention quite a bit older (I did not know how long I was in my deathly sleep, but I cannot imagine it was more than a few weeks, otherwise my brain would have been even more rotten…), this was perhaps the one thing in which we were equal.
            “Yes,” I announced soundly and at that say the large satchel dropped down to my feet.
            “Then I am looking forward to seeing you again very soon. If you send me a letter, it will find me. Kestrel is my name. Professor kestrel, if you happen upon a scholarly society, haha. I know you have not much cause to consider me a friend, but take this like one traveler from another: the road is worth - everything. It can get pretty painful and lonely at times, but there is nothing like it. Every day it is everything.. These good townsfolk are good for teaching you of herbs and potions so you can learn to make your own remedy, or smith-work, or leather work to earn a pretty penny on the way, but beyond that, once you learn how to walk, you step on the road and start walking. It may seem strange to some, to have no home, no hearth to want, but the road is home unlike no other.”
            She then mounted her dragon and whistled and a bright golden fox ran from her chicken feast and onto the saddle, and they rose like a great gleaming shadow and flew away. I stood there for a little while longer, until people began to stare at me. I picked up the bag and hurried to my room then, shaking.
            The bag was so heavy I could barely lift it! What could possibly be inside?! My dead body?! Nervous and excited like a child on Yule, I dragged the package upstairs, closing the door from nosy maid’s stare. At first I would have put the bag on the bed, but considered it and chose the floor instead. You never know. There I untied it:
            The bag itself was a cloak, which could help me in a rainy night, as a tent, or to cover my other bags: three sturdy, fine pouches for the belt and back for long travels that do not tire. There was a belt and a shirt also, and several scrolls to teach me more about the warrior’s abilities as I progress. There were several small potions, several small weapons and leather and mail garments, shoes and a large round shield made with small ornament on the face side. These were all enchanted and precious and some will need me to grow into them like a child grows into an old brother’s shoes.
In the middle there was a purse with fifty gold coins in it - more money than I have ever heard of: more money than anyone in this village ever saw. Also there were some jewelry with enchants in them, that did yet not fit either – but they will. But even if all that was surreal to me, surely a dream, there were two other things that would make me cry, if I had tearducts: a box with a small mastiff pup and an invitation to a riding trainer with recommendation – for when I get some skill – and a certificate which told me there already is a mount waiting for me when I am ready, I only have to choose it.
Perhaps I sat all night or some magic made the night shorter, but in the early morning, I was sitting on the bed and you would not know me for looking at me. Everything that I could put on and carry, I did put on. I looked more like a travelling swordswoman than ever. Things that did not yet fit, I stashed neatly into the bottom of my traveling rucksack.
“Out so early?” asked the innkeeper, which I believe truly never slept for more than a blink, and I replied: “I’m going to get myself familiar with the roads around here. Mayhap I find one that leads me to adventure.”
“Or a purpose.”
“What’s that?”
            “I said: or a purpose. You may walk long enough to become someone vital for this war – it is as much as any Undead can want. These day and age is good for such a decision to be made: one can never tell from which direction a new hero will walk down this road you dream of.”