Story Time: A Paladin’s Tale (Chapter 9: Locked)

“Kill me, and your sister is dead, too, rogue,” whispered Gaenlon.
Micah spun his left-handed dagger into the air, caught it by the spine of the blade, and placed it back in his heart-side sheath. A tiny of drop poison perched on Gaenlon’s neck, like a blackbird on a branch, deciding which way to fly. It soared down his neck, landed on his clavicle, and nested on his chest.
“I have no intention of spilling your blue-blood, paladin. I only wanted your attention. You have something I need: your skills. It churns my stomach and makes me want to shit the words instead of speak them, but you have the truth of it. Spelling things out is something I am not used to, but I forgot I was dealing with less complicated folk.”
Gaenlon sat up: the rogue’s dagger to jugular vein shook him up more than he wanted Micah to see. His exhaustion had made him precipitously careless.  
“Who is this girl? She seems…superfluous,” Micah asked.
“Her name is Daci. She is, first of all, no concern of yours, and second of all, can help us both. It will take all three of us to bring your sister out of there alive. You were ambitious to think I could do this with only you as my joker in the deck.”
Daci began to stir out of the sap; the smell of her bruised scalp was almost detectable. Her worg pup had been off chasing night voles and rousting rabbits out of their dens. He now squirmed next to Daci, agitated, nudging her awake. He could smell the wound. A rogue’s sapping not only bruises the skull, but also casts a deep burn inside one’s brain, lingering like a cheating hangover, the pain without the pleasure beforehand.
“Joker? Go to hell, paladin. This is serious, and we need to move forward. I didn’t count on extra baggage, but if you say she stays, she stays.” Gaenlon was surprised by Micah’s seemingly genuine admonishment, his brief vulnerability. The moment felt oily and thick.
In Daci’s swirling stupor, she dreamed. She was small again, and there was the boy. His face contorted in mocking cruelty. He called her Ugly, Stupid, Worthless. Ugly, Stupid, Worthless. Ugly, Stupid, Worthless. Again, she picked up a mud clot, and instead of breaking on impact, it was a rock. But this time, instead of leaving a knot on his forehead, it shattered his grotesque mask of a face. She woke on impact. The image of fear on his skull sprinted by, as quickly as a wink. Fear behind the mask.
Dacianna stood to her full height. The effects of the sap wore off. She unwrapped her cloak, and shook it out like a rug, not caring if most of the dust blew into Gaenlon’s and Micah’s eyes. She casually put on her cloak, and walked up to Micah, gently brushing back his hair, and accusingly touched the small knot on his forehead with the end of her pointer finger.
“We’re even, little boy. You still have your scar tissue, and you have taken a bit from my noggin, too. Guess neither one of us is going home crying to our mommas, are we?”
Micah stared at Daci. In the hour beyond the moon’s reach, in the dark, he realized who she was. His night vision was excellent, but her dark skin and hair made her features difficult to discern at first, even for him. The smoldering campfire offered little illumination. But her words lit up his memory. This was the little girl who stood up to him, who threw the rock that flattened him out. There had been so many girls and women who had hit, slapped, and cursed him—but her rock and true aim—that one left a bump.
“Mudpebble?” ventured Micah. “Is that you? All grown up now, eh?”
“My name is Dacianna, and I am a paladin, same as my colleague here. I understand you need our assistance,” she said in her most formal manner. “I’ll kindly ask you once not to use any of your rogue tricks on me again. They will not kill me, but you know as well as I, power lies with the righteous. I knocked you down once, and I can do it again.” With that, she pointed toward his head, but didn’t touch him.
The three knew the path. The three knew the way. But that didn’t mean the three knew what lie ahead. 
And in a room, lined with silk and satin, Micah’s sister cried. Her tears made the ink on her face shine like patent leather. The tattoo on her face, a permanent marking of banditry and honor among thieves, both signified her willingness to mar her natural beauty, and announce her unsavory affiliations with lesser gangs and thugs in the kingdom. Survival for her had meant staying loyal to her brother, even if that loyalty meant making difficult promises. Promises to stay away from love, promises to think for herself and her brother only, and broker no allegiances to her own hearth, home, or heart. She knew Micah was only trying to protect her. If she knew how to pick-pocket, if she knew how to fight, and she knew just how worthless love and marriage were, that they were about as valuable as the spit of a grub, (lessons from their father), she would be among the survivors in their tribe of two. She didn’t realize what she had sacrificed for Micah’s sorrow.
The girl stopped crying.

Drabble: Three wishes.

She lit three candles: one, for hope; two, for peace; and three; love, of course. Wishes and curses are cousins, but did you know that? They both ask for small payments. The price of a wish, or two, or three, is desire. The cost of a curse is doubled. And when there is a want, it becomes a need.  The three lights in the darkness granted her wishes: one: she received more than she could hope for. Two: she felt peace again. Three: love and friendship ruled the brief hour. Costs: One tiny tear. Two quick smiles. Three large laughs. 

Too much awesomeness.

How did I miss this post?

Simply fun to read http://wowhats.wordpress.com/2010/01/17/shamanism-and-me/

I wish we could name our feral spirit wolves. Maybe I will make an introduction macro.

Last night and for the better part of today, I’m getting my restoration gear dusted off, gemmed up, enchanted, and tailored, er, reforged. I went to see the wizard, Ask Mr. Robot, about what I should have, and golly gee, are there a lot of points for intellect. This seems counter-intuitive to me, that spirit, like GO TEAM-level spirit, would be more sought after. I am sure, SURE, my mentors in the game can and will clue me in on why intelligence and mastery trump spirit, until my eyeballs roll back in my head.

Speaking of wolves, I wish, I wish, I wish I could call them out anytime. That would be sho-kewl.

Avoidance Therapy.

Yesterday I went home sick with a bad tummy ache, the kind where the flu may be trying to crash the party. It was a very distracting feeling, and though I could have muddled through just fine, didn’t want to risk it, or get anyone else sick.


I’m not feeling too good about a few things right now. Nothing major, just little problems behaving like  uninvited house guests who pee in the pool. If I had a pool, that is. 


Considering my lackluster performance on Thursday night’s raid I may be causing my own proverbial waves. I had switched from Confirmed to Tentative earlier in the day, because of changes and curve balls in real life. I ended up being able to go, but I am slightly ashamed to admit my head wasn’t completely in the game. However, I did succeed in managing to wipe the raid once – I moved right when my GM wanted me to go left, even though he said right: but that is exactly his previous point. Paraphrasing, his desire is that I need to know the fights well enough to think for myself and react accordingly. I don’t know what it is, but somehow my mistakes feel bigger than other’s. But that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 

Beavis and Butthead in a reflective moment…



This recent opinion piece came out from one of my favorite blogs, WoW-related and otherwise, posted by Shimm from Planet of Hats. This quote resonated deeply for a few reasons:


There was an interesting interview titled “The Hero Factory” on Eurogamer last week with Chris Metzen, otherwise known as the voice of countless Blizzard characters and the grand Loremaster of Blizzard’s fantasy worlds.  It was illuminating stuff.  Chief among its observations is that Metzen’s heroes are unambiguous, uncomplicated, chiselled ‘ideals’ embodied in the form of strong white men, exercising their virtuous power through application of force.  What especially sprang out at me was this quote of his: “as a dumbass kid from California, I certainly am not cosmopolitan enough to know what all these paradigms are.”  Paradigms, eh!

Because of my background, my context, as I’ve grown up I’ve had to confront and struggle with all sorts of issues relating to stuff like race, gender, social class, wealth, ability, sexuality and so on.  And because of my field of study, I’ve had the opportunity to explore many such issues in some depth.  Not everyone has these kinds of experiences, and not everyone who is offered the opportunities they represent acts on those opportunities.  Maybe guys like Chris Metzen have never had to encounter or wrestle with these sorts of issues in a personal context.  Maybe they have, and the childishly* simple representations of games like Warcraft are their way of dealing with them.  There’s a certain appeal, in a confusingly complicated world, in creating an uncomplicated fantasy in which to escape.



Dumbass, indeed. Girl, please. Don’t play ignorant with that hefty cajones-sized ego we all know you have, Mr. Metzen. With all due respect, the time for polarization and polemics of divisiveness is past and should be long buried. This struggle to maintain shaky footholds and filling up the moats around ivory towers in a wired world is a hill I don’t think any of us want to die on. Of course there is an appeal to create uncomplicated fantasy worlds–many of us do want simple recreation time without being constantly reminded of the negativity in the world. (But, and this is a big counter point: that level of avoidance and apathy is dangerous–we should never be totally comfortable…)


So here is my question/dilemma:


Can I support playing WoW if I know that its creators are, intentionally or not, causing rifts, cliques, and rewards to the Beavis-es and Buttheads of the real world? (And when I say “reward,” the constant “For the Horde!” that comes from Metzen’s pie hole, or having Corpseginder twist and shout hate ditties, supports and gives a winking nod to, what’s the word, oh yeah: sh*t.


There is no story without a conflict. Life just becomes a big sloppy mess of flavorless blancmange. I guess the answer is, I’ll go into my real life trying to fight the good fight, to be inclusive, welcoming, and kind to all. In the virtual world, I shall endeavor to do the same. 


And get out of the pool and not expect someone else to check the chlorine levels. 

Luperci throws her troubles away on the fire…





That’s better.

Story: Three Draenei Girls Gruff

Once upon a time there was a bitter troll named Mandiblestank Grubsnucker. He was neither young nor old, and basically unremarkable in any way. His tusks were average, his physique hunched just so, and his piercings and pokey-places mediocre. He lived under an inconspicuous bridge, near the south end of Booty Bay. But he possessed one talent that sustained and delighted him. He loved to eat dander and hair follicles, the remains of growth, and the effluvium of existence.
His quirks, nay—fetishes—were even too much for his troll tribe. His mother, concerned with his obsessive and compulsive need for hair and dander took him to the village’s best witch doctor. The doctor performed every trick he had, purged and cleansed, dispelled and disenchanted, to no use. Over time and increasing creepiness, Mandiblestank become an outcast from the other trolls. He just couldn’t stop. The final condemnation came when he sidled up to the chief’s daughter, taking her long rat-tail hair in his fingers, sniffed it, and declared it “delicious,” did they finally drive him away forever.
In that steamy glen in south Booty Bay, his bridge was neglected. Heroes and monsters alike had little cause to cross, but on occasion, travelers journeyed on foot or hoof over the splintered planks. Any passersby who crossed his bridge would inexplicably scratch their scalps, and yank out hair in amounts that could not be explained by the normal shedding or molting of every day existence, such as the loss of dead skin and hair cells expected on any living creature, fish, fowl, mammal or other. He would peer up through the cracks, catching dander droppings on his tongue like snowflakes. Everything from stringy, greasy hair kept under pirates’ head rags, to earthy, tangy, loosed-locks of Night Elves, and the flossy candy-colored tresses of gnome girls (which were a little too sweet for him), and the nail and hoof clippings from draenei hooves and horns, all sifted down to his awaiting pots, pans, troughs and tongue to be savored and swallowed. He relished the wiry, coarse hair of Dwarfs, though it choked and gagged him, and occastionally put him off his feed. But of all the flakes the flittered and filtered down, he loved the shaggy leg hairs of draenei girls the best. He wasn’t satisfied, though, with the droppings and bed bug sized meals. He needed more.
One fine spring morning, the kind he detested for its clarity and cheer, a beautiful draenei warrior went climp-clomp-climp-clomp over the bridge. Mandiblestank, or “Manny” to his friends, if he had any, stirred from his nest of empty Brewfest bottles and leftover Lovefest charms. He looked up and peered under the robes and cloaks of the young adventure seeker, obviously not very skilled or equipped. Her gear was pale and weak, and her coin purse jangled with the thin sounds of coppers, with a pinched clank of one or two silvers. She paused overhead, turning to the west, turning to the east, when the sun’s harsh light slapped her eyes. Not having eaten in twenty-one days, Manny was famished. Not satisfied to wait for her goat-y fur to fall naturally, his tummy growled with greedy, deadly intentions. He reached his long, scrawny arm over the side, snatched her down, sliced her open from stem to stern, roasted, toasted, added a dash of jerk seasoning, and ate her all up.
The meal satisfied, like a python after boar-and-piglet dinner, however for only for fourteen days, though. Good fortune smiled on him like a dirty joke—funny, but with a foul punch line. A more skilled, but elementarily naïve, draenei shaman skipped over the bridge, lightening bolts in her pockets, sparking off light like Elders’ fireworks, and flashes of fire on her bracers. Her flying mounts had been temporarily repossessed by the gryphon masters for failing to make a few payments, and instead of waiting for the goblins to stop by and break a few two or four kneecaps, she decided to get lost for awhile, hang out in the Bloodsail Admiral’s hold for a spell, and stay low. (She had done them an unsavory favor in the past, and though their loyalties were varying and gelatinous, their rum was also sugary and plentiful. Coming home on a warmer evening, and a bit into her cups, she thought the bridge provided a good hidden spot to, well, get rid of some of the extra rum she was carrying. She sang a little song about an elf and a tauren, a ditty a one-eyed, emerald-green parrot taught her, and she never felt the troll’s warty hands around her neck. The smell of barbecued goat with a hint of Bloodmyst Isle red crystal hash hung in the air for days.
Though Manny picked and plucked the hairs, horns, and hooves from his hapless victims, cleaning them down to the marrow, he never felt a shadow of remorse. In fact, he was more irritated than ever. There was another craving he could not name. “This just too easy,” he thought, “Where is the challenge in living under a bridge and snatching stupid draenei girls?” He grumbled, rolling over onto some broken glass, quest items, and shredded scrolls and guild news parchments, he slept with a sour stomach.
The smell hitchhiked on a western breeze, and was carried off to far braver, intelligent, and heroic nostrils than the warrior and shaman’s. A draenei mage had heard the rumors of the troll terrorizing the area for years, and this smell of radioactive burnt fur confirmed her worst fears. It took her seven days to locate his bridge. Flying overhead on her drake, once she opened her eyes, she chided herself for not finding it sooner. His vermin’s nest of a home blared out at her like a trumpet call. There he sat, crusty and barnacled, under a bridge that served no purpose. On that seventh day, she stood on the sad apex of the bridge, and called out to the troll.
The evening was warm, the sun not giving up its post. She sang:
“I’ll cast you out, you small little sheep
With frost and fire, your soul to keep
Come out, come out, you black-hearted freak
Your hours are numbered, and rendered weak.”
The troll had been under the bridge, waiting to spring, to enjoy the taste of mage-enhanced draenei delicacies. (It is well known mages have a particular aroma of pine trees, juniper berries, and crisp linens. They smell lovely, and keep malarial mosquitoes from biting.) He spied her from the slats in his bridge, flying overhead. “Foolish mage!” he scorned. He prepared for her by promising himself that he wouldn’t gobble her up in one sitting, but put her in a stew to last him a week or more at least.
The night was hot, the moon curdling its whey. She hollered:
Well, come along! I’ve got sharp spears,

And I’ll poke your eyeballs out at your ears;

I’ve got besides two curling-stones,

And I’ll crush you to bits, body and bones.
She heard him grunt, with an undertone of smugness. This was his bridge to molest, to harass. She couldn’t do a bloody thing.
Steam came from the moon, when she heard a sound like someone getting up, but only to spring, to get ready, to go. She shot out:
“Sick tiny coward,
Come to meet your meat
But you will not be getting any of this treat
Get out and show yourself to the light of the night
Try to break your bread, with all your might!”
And with that, he sprung up, but miscalculated his frog-like leg strength. He had lived far too long under the bridge. Before he could say “Juju Mon,” she changed him into a sheep, arcane blasted off his wooly pelt, and sent him into dark oblivion. She knitted a scarf out of the wool, but it always felt itchy and choky. And it never did take to the proper dye cast.


No one knew why the area felt safer somehow; but, she knew she had done her best with this place. She resigned herself, though, when she smelled the scent of finger clippings and unwashed hair on a fire pit a few weeks later, and the rise of public grooming practices increased. Ugh. She shrugged. For all of her powerful spells, she chose to ignore the trolls: just too many bridges for them to hide under.  Starving the pests, cutting off their food supply, was the wisest course.

Hi-Ho.

Wildhammer Diamond Import Business, (and who are you calling a ho?)

It’s off to work I go.

Here is the big question: When does play become work?

My impulsive comments (Backpeddling Powers: ACTIVATE) on my “1%” post drew some attention from  my guildmates. (Told you I would hear about it later.) I’m still a little fuzzy on some of the bullet point targets my GM was trying to shoot, but that is not his fault, but mine, since I am a woman and have no logic or reasoning facilities. That was left at the apple tree at the beginning of time. It’s probably baked in a pie somewhere: Mmmmm! Serve that logic up ala mode!

Anyway, the discussion centered around this comment:

Answer: No, no I don’t. In my defense, I have a million and one things on my mind, always. I have not devoted the time to watching every fight over and over, and anticipating every scenario that can come my way. I screwed up. Won’t happen again. I was so used to the shard dance, I forgot about the other fight mechanics. If I did spend that time, to raid leader level, of understanding and studying all fight mechanics, there are many players who wouldn’t listen to me anyway. Kind of seems pointless at this stage of my life. Yes, I want to contribute, yes, I will do what I can to do so, but I cannot and will not overturn any more of my life to this very fun avocation.

His point, if I understood correctly (see Diagram A, subsection xiv, paragraph 3) was that indeed, I do have time. What I am doing is making choices about that time.

He’s right.

No question.

Let me just analyze the avocation that is WoW in my personal life:

Currently, I have two accounts, three if you count the trial one I used to try to get a friend a rocket. I need to clean that one up, and possibly go back to just one account. Between the two main accounts, I have Mataoka, and on the other Haanta, Luperci, and Zeptepi. Those are all my level 85 toons. One comment that struck me during a more lengthy discussion with my GM was that “back in the day,” a player would have their main, and any other alts were truly just that: alts for something to do, something else interesting to play, but would never get the care, feeding, or grooming like the main show dog. The alts don’t get to play in the raids, don’t get trotted out much, and do not get the resources as the main does or would.

All right. Fair enough.

I did not heed the gentle warning of Manalicious’ blog post, “How Alts Ruined My Raiding” because I was not there yet, still getting used to my metaphorical training wheels being taken off. In other words, I wasn’t so sure I would even be raiding on a regular basis–I just kept showing up and being allowed to go.

In general, a theme for me personally has been I went from a control-freak to not, or at least relatively. I used to think that if I organized, listed, prepared, anticipated, front-loaded, etc., that somehow I would control the future of myself and those I love. I learned, harshly in some moments of despair, that that is not the case. So the control pendulum swung to too much letting go. That hasn’t worked for me either, and now I am seeking the balance.

How this plays out during my leisure time playing WoW may come down to this: I cannot be fixed on a “main,” and I believe that my GM will and does respect my choice, as long as I do some of my homework. His point was that I am not expected to know everything every role does for every fight, but to yes, know my OWN role. Agreed. How could that personal accountability be anything less of that expectation? It can’t, and there’s no justification or rationalization. His other key point was that all of us should never be of a ‘fixed’ mindset, but of a ‘growth’ mindset –learn from mistakes, adjust, flex, progress, and well, duh, grow. (See the work of Dr. Carol Dweck.)

But the conflicts of choice come into play: Another player chooses to leave the guild. Another player choose to play only one main. Another player has scheduling conflicts that affect everyone else’s life schedules. Accommodations and compromises are made. And that is where I do not envy a GM’s role. GMs make choices constantly about their own management style. And if we all had a gold piece for every time this has been said, “GMs don’t get paid,” we’d all be snorting Vials of Sands off of gnomes’ heads. We don’t spend our leisure time in the pursuit of money, that being the only goal. For those of you who have jobs that are both fulfilling and pay the bills, you are the truly blessed. (Mine doesn’t pay all the bills, unfortunately, but I do love it.) For every player, there are their own reasons why they play.

Snow White faints from over-thinking.

And in the time I wrote this post, I could have been watching the Bale’roc fight again, or brushing up on my Alysrazor. And I will watch videos again-but I’ll also just jump in there and get my maces dirty and play, cause they’re not the bosses of me.