Monday, November 29, 2010

Katsuko: Guardian of Dalaran

A pall has fallen over Northrend. A nameless dread, a constant reminder of what we had and what is no longer. So much joy, so many celebrations, so many friends made and promises kept.

Naxxramas is destroyed.

Ulduar lies in ruins.

Even the Lich King, our hated nemesis, has been bested.


Now there are only memories of faded glory. A ghost of the greatness that was, and what never will be again.

The heroes have moved on, left the once-glorious floating city to its own devices. In their place, only the desperate, the corrupt, the forgotten remain. Organized crime, petty thieves, rapists, murderers...they are legion within the city, now.

My city. My beautiful, wonderful metropolis. I spent so many happy hours here. Yes...happy. Me, of all people. I was happy here. Content. At peace.

But now...

I cannot look at the shell of this place and not feel...rage. Rage against the people who sully it. Rage against those who abandoned it. Rage for all those that must remain and deal with the daily despair of life.

And that rage needs victims.

So while you heroes of the frozen north run back to Azeroth...

While you succumb to the consumerism of the Bilgewater Cartel...

While you quibble over useless theological debates between Thrall's followers and Hellscreams'...

I will remain as I always have. I will stay and defend those who cannot defend themselves. I will be the guardian they no longer have.

I am a poor champion, I admit. But if I am all they have, then so be it. The darkness that rules Dalaran now has an enemy. The people have a guardian.

Because for them I can be what I never have been. What I never tried to be. What I never wanted to be.

A hero.

(with apologies to Batman, Daredevil, and The Maxx)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Tonight, Deathwing Returns…And Now Here’s Bob with the Weather

So patch 4.0.3 hit last night and everyone is either a) up in arms because their portals/favorite spec/damage/heals/old tree form/cappuccino bar is gone, or b) very pleased with the changes in the world landscape/questlines/race-class combinations/guild mechanics. Personally, I’m a little of both of these. Am I happy that Warriors got hit with the ugly stick yet again? Not at all. Do I like the cosmetic changes to the old world setting? Absolutely. Do I want my portals back? Hells yes…well, except for my mage. Katsuko is raking in portal tip cash by the bucketful. I’ve already had to go get more portal reagents twice in the last 2 days (normally I only need to buy them once every few weeks…guess I need to rememorize the location of reagent vendors in Org and Dal again). Am I having fun? Dude, I’m having a blast. This is just what the doctor ordered for this game.

So like one of my favorite blogging compatriots, Dechion, the first thing I did after getting the kids fed and put away for the night was log on and roll up my undead hunter, which was THE thing I was most looking forward to. Had a name picked out, bags and gold ready on my trusty bank alt, and even knew where I was going to train his main pet (a Lion that will be getting named “Akodo,” naturally). Ergo, Shigetoshi was born…or died…or both; and let me just say that the new “awakening” portion of the Undead creation process is fantastic. Levels 1-10 are completely updated with very compelling vignette stories, which I certainly appreciate, and immediately immerses you into the game experience. Compared to early leveling before, this feels much more like you inserting yourself into the canon story rather than playing an FPS until you get to Silverpine/Barrens/Westfall/wherever. For now, Shigs has a Darkhound pet, which is very not bad for leveling as far as ferocity pets are concerned.

Also, the scenery! The beauty of the environment is outstanding, and I was very happy with the way the early Brill/Tirisfal questlines were arranged. No more running halfway across the continent to do inane things with/to Gnolls or grinding 200 mobs for 8 moldy fingernails. Quest item drop rates are much higher, at least early on, which can only increase your sense of accomplishment if you’re just now picking up the game.

I could go on and on, but let me just finish up with a few nice things I’ve noticed:

The faction-specific quartermasters. This is an outstanding addition. For 10 silver, you can buy a tabard for each faction in their major cities. Like the LK factions, these tabards will allow you to grind rep for that faction while in any dungeon. Once you hit Exalted, which shouldn’t take too long with your home city, there are a number of excellent blue BOP items for sale at low prices, and a 16-slot bag that runs a little over 1G is available at Revered.

FPs in starter cities. Brill, Razor Hill, and the cow city all now have FPs to the capitol a la the Space Goat and Blood Elf baby pools.

Cosmetic baby gear improvements. Your starting gear looks much more like a military uniform or Nordstrom’s off-the-rack stuff, rather than something from the Homeless-Crackhead-of-the-Month-Club catalogue.

Hellscream's Temporary Staffing Services, Inc. I mostly just found this amusing. However, I'm interested in seeing what odd jobs for heroes get tossed up there in the future. Maybe unique weeklies? Special quests that hand out Feat of Strength achievements? Envelope stuffing for the Argent Crusade's membership drive?

New Orgrimmar. My God, Blizzard outdid themselves here. I really wish Undercity would have gotten a facelift like this, but Orgrimmar is a beautiful sight to behold. It can almost make me forget that Hellscream’s dumbest progeny is now running the place. Almost.

Dude, valium. Speaking of, I talked to Hellscream last night just for fun and HE STILL TALKS LIKE THIS NO MATTER WHAT HE IS SAYING! CAN I BORROW A CUP OF SUGAR! I'M MAKING PIE AND NEED SUGAR! GIVE ME SUGAR OR I WILL DESTROY ALL YOU LOVE! I miss Thrall already...

OK, time to go. Need to jump back on my hunter for a bit. Remembrancer: Part II is in the can and being edited. Be prepared for a time jump.

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Feature! Random Screenshot Thursday!

Because, "Work sucks and I have no idea what to post and Rembrancer: Part II is still at the shop getting new tires, so I can't do that," didn't have the same catchy marketing title to it.

Yes, a 40-man raid defense of Orgrimmar from the forces of elemental destruction infesting the world; because that's how we Silver Hand Horde roll. If there's a problem, yo, we'll solve it.

Having never been in a 40-man raid, I really don't know how you old-school folks did it back in the day. It's total chaos...but with more running and screaming.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And Now for a Word About Characters

So, my wife is currently waiting to have her traitorous galbladder removed. I am scamming the hospital wi-fi, trying to think of things to do to keep myself occupied, and not going batshit crazy with worst-case scenarios. It's a simple procedure, but I had the same thing done 3 years ago and they had to do it the old-fashioned way...with a chainsaw and a baseball bat, apparently.

But that's as it may be. I'll try to keep off that. I wanted to go into how I choose and develop characters a little bit, since this is a question I get with a fair amount of regularity IRL.

So, I've been playing various RPGs for a really long time. In fact, I remember the old West End Games Star Wars System. Loved it; roll far too many D6's for no good reason. Yeah, I'm getting grey, I know. I've played AD&D 2nd, Cyberpunk, Shadowrun, L5R, Rifts, Doctor Who, B5, WoT, V:TM, and so on. I go to GenCon every year, half to play the Legend of the Five Rings CCG, but half to see the weird new RPG tabletop experiments that are coming out. So I've got a fair amount of experience playing make-believe.

All those systems varied wildly from each other, for the most part. But the one thing that remained constant was the characters. Any RPG, no matter how poorly designed or executed, can be a really good time if you have interesting characters you like, care about, and enjoy playing. Conversely, the best-designed system in the world will fall absolutely flat if you don't give a damn about what happens to the main players (The Phantom Menace, anyone?).

That being the case, I go out of my way to build and play characters that are not just fun, but have history, personailty quirks, annoying habits, hopes, dreams, goals, character short, I try to make them as close to real people as I possibly can, because that makes for interesting dialogue and game play.

What do you do, for instance, when your main group of characters has been hired by the mob to do a smash-and-grab at a local jewlery store, which sounds fine, but one of the PC's uncles owns the store and actually was a huge influence in his or her life? Maybe got him or her into NYU through his connections with the geology department? Or if another of the PC's was busted for petty theft 6 months ago and has been turned into a narc to avoid prosecution. How does he react to this? Does he do the job on the down-low, or does he stoolie out and run to the cops? Or how about a third who is naturally conceited and can't helping bragging to a few of his buddies after the job, and is overheard by a friend of the jeweler's?

See? Good, rich characters can make something that seems pretty ordinary on the surface (listen to the bit about the sandwich) and make it, if not epic, then so much more realistic, deep, and fun.

The same rules translate over to WoW, as far as I am concerned. Arthas, Sylvanas, Varian Wynn, Tirion, Thrall...these are all fantastic characters with rich, meaningful storylines. To create characters that are any less than 3-dimensional then, to my way of thinking, is an affront to the people who imagined up this awesome world. Therefore, my three flagship characters, Kusamoto, Tsurii, and Katsuko, have been developed over the course of months, even years.

Kusamoto, in particular, has a rich history, as he is my L5R alterego. I've been playing that game so long, in fact, they folks at AEG decided to give in and make him, and I, a part of canon. It's a nod at my peserverance and in a really strange way gives him, and therefore me, a kind of immortality most people can only dream of, so I am immensely humbled by the honor Shawn Carman and company have done me. So, here's my alterego, Kusamoto, in the card game:

Naturally, who else could I have chosen to create for my flagship WoW character? Since I play horde almost exclusively, the racial choice wasn't much of one (Blood Elf was the only thing that came close) and class was similarly chosen for me (Pally, of course). So I roll him up along the same lines as my card game character, and here's what I come up with:

You can see the similarities in type, which is why I was immensely pleased at how he turned out in game, and was really looking forward to playing the hell out of him. Only one minor problem:

I didn't like him.

In fact, he sat on the shelf for about 4 months before I started grinding away at the Blood Elf starting quests, but I still wasn't having any fun with him (and I'm certain the reverse was true). I couldn't figure it out at all. Until one day, in SFK, I chose DPS or healer, got in as a healer, and realized my mistake.

THIS Kusamoto was NOT entirely "my" Kusamoto. He preferred healing over righteous fury, and more "white collar" pursuits, like Inscription and Herbalism, over the down-and-dirty professions like engineering or mining. While this originally came as quite a shock, it made perfect sense with the background I had in my head of a mid-level functionary's son forced into a role and profession he never really wanted. And now, he finds himself, by virtue of his skills in writing and oratory, as the political figurehead of an organization he is more than glad to let Katsuko run behind the scenes while playing straight man to a undead warrior.

Even though I had built the character along the same lines as my true alterego, he changed and grew before my eyes in surprising ways because of the same rules I follow when building characters, not in spite of them. It's frightening when that happens; when a character you have made, played, and were both mother and father to, suddenly matures into something you never expected. Frightening, but also very exciting. It means you've done your job in creating and raising him well, and now you are simply along for the ride.

So, this has been pretty wall-of-textish, but I hope I got my point across. WoW is, for all intents and purposes, a tabletop RPG in a lot of ways. Character creation and development is similar, and if you go out of your way to make interesting characters with breadth and depth, it will never get old, no matter what changes are made to the game, and you will always enjoy playing it.

OK, back to the really real world of waiting for my wife to be out of surgery. But let me ask everyone: Who is your favorite WoW character (NPC, your own, or someone else's) and why? I'd love to hear your opinion.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I must thank Ratshag for the cool addon he linked from his blog, even if it was just peripherally. I suspect it will make my life a lot easier. Plus I can catch important moments in the Corps' life much more grandly, like this:

Ginawa got a horse!

Or this:

DK Space Goat levels right in front of King Varian Wynn. Courtiers aghast. Film at 11.

And action shots like this:

That's a lot of fwoosh.

But I am very glad I was able to get this one. Kats would have never forgiven me if I'd missed this huge milestone in her quest for vengeance:

Teaser alert! More on Kats' first journey into ICC to come!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The End is Nigh...

The Local 405 of the Doomsayers Union needed some new representatives for the Orgrimmar division. Recruitment and members willing to sow the seeds of chaos and disorder were apparently lagging in the face of political adversity from the local fascists. Plus, they pay well, and no one has to die...right now, anyways.

I have just one thing to say to any potential affiliates:

Repent, bitches.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

We Interrupt this Broadcast... bring you the following special report...


It only took two years, but Tsurii finally got "the single coolest piece of loot in all of Azeroth." It has now been tricked out as his PvP helm...and so he can buzz the Alliance in WG while laughing maniacally at them.

Katsuko also has been enjoying life after patch 4.0.1. Not only is she sporting new threads, but she picked up a new friend and a new title.

More to come soon, but for now, we're's been a long day and we need to eat the candy that the trick-or-treaters and/or various family members didn't get to.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When Loot Filled Bags Aren't

Dear Blizzard,

We have now defeated the toothless horseman 8 times between our 2 80s. We have received one (1, I, uno, eins) Loot Filled Bag that actually has loot in it. On behalf of the rest of the Corps, I would like to suggest the following name change be made to the Loot-Filled Bag immediately (please select the one that seems most appropriate to you):

  • The Bag that Sometimes Contains Loot, but Mostly Just Irritates the Commander-in-Chief
  • The Bag That Glitches Your Interface Causing You to Crash Out
  • Moth- and Lint-Filled Bag
  • Bag of Justice Points and Continental Frequent Flyer Miles
  • It's Just a Bag, it Doesn't Have Anything In It. Please Don't Email Us Anymore

Or, as an alternative, you could actually have something show up in the Loot-Filled Bag, even it's only marginally useful, so that players have some sense of accomplishment. Candy, pumpkins, toothpicks, a rock (a la Charlie Brown), anything, really.

We appreciate the Justice Points, we really do, but getting all excited over a boss' stuff, only to find it totally empty, is anticlimactic at best, downright annoying at worst. We appreciate your taking the time to read this and make any appropriate adjustments.


Gen. A. Kusamoto

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

...And Now I'm Happy Again

The Army is back in action with new gear. And oh, what pretty gear it is. I never realized this game was so well-designed from a graphics standpoint until I got a machine that can run it effectively.

Now, as far as the game relating to patch 4.0.1...

I like it, for the most part. There are a few minor changes I don't care for, like separate friends and guild tabs and the profession filtering tools, but overall I'm content. Things I have noticed, however:

1) Pallys got beaten with the nerf stick, not just hit a few times. DPS with a Pally? Yeah, you're funny. Fight 3 mobs then heal and drink. Fight 3 mobs, heal/drink. Rinse, repeat. Mana management is impossible, and most of the really good damage-inducers are either gone or changed so much they might as well be. Healing, though, is a lot easier and costs next to no mana, which makes me glad Kusamoto is leveling Holy.

2) Mages are ridiculous. Katskuo went from barely 2300 DPS self-buffed to around 3.5k without reforging, regemming, or reglyphing. After I finished reforging and glyphing, she's almost to 4.5k...and she's wearing crafted purples and tier 9.5 stuff, mainly. After gemming, I should be at 5k+. Mages, enjoy it while you can. The nerf bat is probably coming for you, too.

3) Warrior tanking is an exercise in futility. Arms warriors seem to have gotten away with very little changed. Fury warriors got hit pretty hard, but it's still manageable. Prot? Yeah, not so much. We have one (1) AoE threat generator now, and the solo ones weren't all that great to begin with. However, shouts no longer cost Rage, and actually generate it, which is very nice.

Going to log on this evening to continue working on the Hallowed title for Kats. More to come...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Now I'm Sad...

My computer has betrayed me. I have freed up 12 gigs of space...and it is still not enough room for patch 4.0.1. Ergo, I am WoWless until I pick up my new laptop this weekend. Pity me, for my laptop is old and substandard (read the first user review).


Oh well. Time to catch up on Psych.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2010 1013 2306 Zulu SitRep

Hi, boss. Tsurii here. Our fearless leader, Gen. Kusamoto Esq. P.h.D. III, is Therefore, I will be doing our semi-regular checkin with you. And boy, there have been some seriously jacked up things happeing in Azeroth. It started this morning when I jumped out of bed, ready to go kill in the name of good and fun...and because I really, really needing something to die. But the Sunreaver guard someone decided to post at the door to my crypt said I had to stop. Something about "the fundamental nature of the immaterium intruding on our rational world" or some such load of kodoshite. I was flummoxed for a moment, but then made the connection: Patch day. The patch. The big one you and our ambiguously gay commanding officer have been discussing. Chaos, disorder, magnetic polar reversal, dogs and cats living together, they are FINALLY coming here.

I can't wait.

But anywho...a lot has been going on with the team over the past few weeks. Firstly, we have a new recruit! He's a cousin of mine who dabbles in the dark arts...for informational and entertainment purposes only, of course. And for the sheer joy of tearing puppies into tiny shreds to summon elemental demons. Oh, and he has no eyes, but that doesn't stop him from doing some serious (spoiler alert! spoiler alert! heehee!) Book of Eli asswhuppin. 'Course...I'm better. I can do it without the blueberry...or the hocusy-pokusy frou-frou stuff. I gave him Katsuko's old clothes and staff so that he can get through the old world a little, now he smells like a girl, which I find amusing. Hey, I'm dead; I get my laughs where I can.

Speaking of the girl, Katsuko was a when she found out that a few of our buddies from Demon Knights rolled up and smoked His Licheyness a few weeks back. Miffed enough that she completely vanished for awhile. Not sure what's eating that kid. I mean, maggots are eating me, but I don't think that's her problem. But, she showed back up a few days ago with a lot of high-level gear and a very determined set to her pretty little jaw. It was hard to see behind her sparkly-new Hannibelle Lector Faceshield(TM), but I think it was determined.

As for me, I haven't had the chance to raid the remains of the Icecrown Empire State Building recently, but I did manage to find an armor vendor that had a belt better than the stupid girdle of "I'm wearing purples and you're not nyah nyah nyah" I yanked off the Black Knight's corpse almost a year ago. And I finally...finally...after going through it 500 times or so, got that whitchamacalit of souls in the forge to give up his shiny. 'Bout damned time.

Other than that, I'd been busy busting a move on Coren Direbrew once a day for almost two weeks. And you know what? HE DIDN'T DROP SHIT I COULD USE! Not one goddamned thing that was fun or needed. My groups must have summoned 300 barmaids and had a huge orgy the number of times I saw that stupid thing fall off his belt. His tankard? Shattered in a million pieces. The ram? Yeah, one of the Death Knights ate it. The Kodo rampaged and trampled all the dark iron dwarves in the hall next door after the troll accidentally gored it with one of his long-ass tusks. And yet, Kats' first run? The watch dropped for her.


Is Tsurii gonna' haveta' choke a bitch?

As far as fearless, and probably sexually deviant, leader goes...he's still stuck in the Badlands running Marudon and Uldaman over and over and over and...well, you get the idea. He's apparently seen enough cactus, coyotes, and buzzards to last him a good long while. I didn't tell him about Hellfire Penninsula...figured I'd let him find that one out for himself *evil laugh*

Well, that's all for now. My patch is done and I'm off to kill in the name of justice. And loot. OK, mostly loot. Late...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

No One Puts Belfy in a Corner

Not much of an update this week, I fear, but I had to share the following pics.

First pic is Katsuko and her new favorite tank, Alvi. Why is she her new favorite tank, might you ask? Because she tanks in a dress! Yes, that's right. She tanks like a girl, and I dare you to make fun of her. Keristraza did, and look where that got her. Yes...dead.

Awwwww, she even gave our hate-filled little burninator a hug. How nice of her. Only problem with Belfs tanking in dresses? There were two other dress-wearing Belfs in the party...follow the wrong one at your peril.

Pic #2 is from the recent retaking of the Echo Isles from good 'ol Zalazane. Yes, Zalazane...the same asshole we all killed at level 10. Well, he's back and officially beating ass. Er, at least he was. Now he's so much protoplasm being played with by the benevolent Troll voodoo God of death and vengeance; which seems to be a contradiction in terms to me, but hey...I guess if you smoke enough of the really green, stinky, crunchy peanut butter, wicked voodoo God worship starts sounding like a pretty good idea.

Anywho, in the process of assisting said dark voodoo God (for Darkspear rep and gold, of's not like we do this for free), Katsuko discovered she was a pretty good recruiter. Now, if only she could get them into OUR Army instead of Vol'Jins.
That' all for this week. I will try to be less lax about posting than I have been. Remembrancer Part II is on the way, as is another Army SitRep, all within the next two weeks. Promise.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

2010-08-26 2300 Zulu; Battalion SitRep

Report Filed By: Gen. A. Kusamoto
Priority: Moderate
Classification: Secret
Batallion Status: Green
**Begin Trans**

Col. Katsuko deserves congratulations from the rest of our company on her latest achievement, namely promotion to the highest levels of Azerothian competence. However, since this milestone earlier in the week, she has only slowed down long enough to pull some new clothes, a knife, and a strange-looking orb (which, she informs me, has already been replaced with some terribly boring book) out of her footlocker. She seems absolutely driven to make it to Icecrown and Arthas' Frozen Throne in support of the rest of the battalion. While her singleminded zealotry is admirable, we all find it vaguely terrifying. Col. Tsurii even baked her a cake and had signs printed up ("Congratulations, Slacker") as a celebratory gesture, but she begged off saying something about the "twice-damned sons of Ho'Dir" needing her to do something. I swear I heard her mutter something about "waxing their helmets," but I really didn't care to listen past that. Tsurii just seemed amused in a knowing way.

Speaking of , after being unceremoniously stopped cold in his ICC advance by an entity known as the Blood Queen, Tsurii has performed a temporary retrograde action back to Dalaran in an effort to rally his boys and support Katsuko's drive. He did, however, manage to requisition new gear from an officer of the Ashen Verdict, as well as raid the Alliance's resupply and assault frigate for these. One of the creations of the Lich King's Lieutenant, Professor Putricide, apparently had no further use for this, either. While the remainder of his equipment is strictly standard issue, allied forces have reported that his conduct and performance under fire have been exemplary.

Sadly, the pressures and resposibilities of command have left me more-or-less stationed in Undercity for the foreseeable future. This is a delicate time for the Army, and I cannot ignore my post to go gallivanting off to the Arathi Highlands like some common mercenary. There are campaigns to plan, supplies to distribute, families whose loved ones Katsuko has set on fire to apologize to (cultists have mothers...huh...who knew?), then those same families to apologize to again after Tsurii ate a few of their cousins- ["OMNOMNOM! heehee!" "Dude, shut up! I'm recording here!" "Sorry, boss...say, does this clown taste funny to you?" "*sigh*They don't pay me enough for this..."]...where was I...oh, Dalaran city guardsmen to bribe...err...motivate, and plenty of new recruits to interview (although the Tauren that is convinced she is a Paladin and the very devout-if eccentric-Goblin flummox me). Our Army strengthens, and soon we shall be strong enough to not only push the last remnants of the Lich King's forces from our world forever, but also survive the cataclysm you have often spoken of. **END TRANS**

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Remembrancer, Part I: Katsuko's Tale

I remember how the apple blossoms fell from the trees like a winter snowstorm every year when I was a child. I remember the simple joy of running through them, laughing as they parted before me while my parents watched, content, from their bench in Falconwing Square. My father’s full lips and light green eyes showing his good humor at my cavorting. My mother absently brushing a lock of Raven-black hair from her eyes, wedged comfortably in the crook of his shoulder. I remember the caress of warmth as the afternoon breeze ghosted softly from the city-side of our little paradise, redolent with the exciting smells, sounds, and textures of civilization, progress, and affluence. We were a proud race, then, and an exceedingly rich one. Rich in worldly possessions, rich in culture, rich in knowledge.

And, as my parents often demonstrated, rich in love.

I was denied nothing growing up in the outskirts of our magically-powered city, yet for all that I was not spoiled. My father often spoke of our duty as virtual immortals to guide the younger races away from the paths of self-destruction they virtually careened down at top speed. That duty, instilled in my from the age of six, as well as my apparent and sometimes frightening aptitude for the magical arts, led to a fulfilling apprenticeship with Magister Jaim Sunfury; one of the most respected practitioners of magic in our little empire. I learned quickly and gained confidence, all the while lovingly supported and encouraged by those whose respect I desired most.

It was idyllic. It was utopian. It was glorious.

It was fleeting.

For you know, you remember, what came next. How the plague ravaged Lordaeron, leaving most dead and some far worse; how the Orcs fell upon us in a fury of bloodletting and murderous rage; how the Scourge nearly wiped us all off the face of Azeroth; how our world almost ended.

I was still young and idealistic then, and remember the bitter, senseless arguments held in our courts, by our mages, by our military leaders, by my parents. Oh, everyone said the right things; the arguments were sensible and logical: Entrench, prepare, hoard, defend, parlay. The counterarguments were equally good, however: Attack, surprise, conscript, flank, never stop or capitulate. I remember the first gut-wrenching time I realized the truth, and all my idealism and naivete was swept away in one painful rush:

No one knew what to do.

Yet our armies marched, proclaimations were made by pontiffs who knew better, households were prepared for seemingly inevitable sieges, larders were filled to bursting with hard tack and magically-preserved foods, battalions of mage trainees, myself included, were conscripted into elite units…I remember it clearly, these terrible days of debate and waiting.

All that ended when the Sunwell died. I remember. Gods, how I wish I did not.

The chaos. The pandemonium. The shrieks of my friends, some of whom I had known for years, as were traumatically severed from source of our knowledge, our morals, our sanity. I remember a few of them lashing out with their power at anyone and anything around them, burning buildings to ash with fireballs, freezing fleeing men, women, and children solidly in place with frostbolts, or simply tearing the object of their misplaced wrath apart with pure threads of the etherium. No description of this event in any textbook, or by any fanciful storyteller, can ever do justice to the awful certainty of destruction that hung over us all at that moment. That any of us lived was a miracle. That I lived, where so many did not, was something out of a tragic poem.

I remember heat, cold, screaming, than pain and disorientation as something cracked against my skull hard enough to send me flying into one of my beloved apple trees. I remember looking up through blurred, blood-filled eyes at the pink, red-veined blossoms. So beautiful, so ephemeral. I remember seeing the blast of flame inexorably marching toward them, flung in madness from a compatriot who had already torn his own eyes from his skull. My soul wept as the fire splashed against the trunk of the tree, setting it alight almost instantly. The blossom, caught in the conflagration, wilted and then crisped, raining ash in a parody of their natural life cycle. I remember knowing I was going to die, knowing that the fire would reach me soon. But somehow, the heat, the pain, the wonder of watching the blaze greedily devour everything it touched…it made me feel…feel…


Then movement and dizziness as someone plucked me from my addled reverie, swinging around enough to grant me a vision of Hell. The city was exploding, engulfed, tearing itself apart. I remember…I think I remember…my mother trying to trying to fight through the chaos to reach me, calling my name in anguish as she was pressed back and out of the main square by the mob. The last thing I remember that day was Magister Sunfury’s voice telling me to close my eyes, to not look upon what he would have to do to win out with our lives. I obeyed, fainted, and the world fell away.

How we survived in the ensuing years, and even thrived, still astounds me. We all became mana addicts to one degree or another, a poor replacement for the Sunwell’s influence, but were mostly able to control our vice and retain our wits. I prospered more than ever before as one of a handful of mages that had survived that black day. My skills were in demand, my tutors were delighted at my progress, if somewhat chagrined at my changed demeanor and total lack of self-preservation, but were ultimately pleased that I had finally settled on a sphere of mastery. I spoke little, made no friends, performed the functions of my profession, and lacking any other option, grew up quickly.

One day, Jaim pronounced me ready for combat duty, and I was assigned to cleanup detail in the ruined portions of Silvermoon City. “Cleanup” was a euphemism for execution of the wretched ones; Elves who, having lost their minds to total mana addiction, fled for the supposed safety of their fellows. Killing them was a mercy, and one I was ideally suited for. Our situation had made me cold, detached, calculating, and completely devoid of any compassion. I was less than a machine. I was a tool; nothing more.

And so I killed. As a tool, a weapon, an assassin. Again and again, I killed and felt nothing.

Until one day, returning from those fields of the damned, I was confronted by a particularly wretched-looking wretch. She might have been beautiful once, but now her Raven-black hair lay limp and matted against gaunt, filthy shoulders. Her wordless snarl revealed broken, rotted teeth framed by cracked and bleeding lips, wild eyes, and hate. She raised her makeshift shiv, a low growl building in her throat.

I sighed in irritation, calling forth the cleansing red and orange flame that had replaced all that was lost in my life, preparing to finish her in one quick shot. There was nothing to these once-proud Elves, after all. They went up like so much dry tinder at the lover’s caress of the fire. Almost a waste of power…but pretty to watch, at least.

The fire was never released, though, as my adversary’s growl suddenly stopped, her shiv lowered. I stared in sudden consternation as recognition flooded her eyes, her mouth dropping open in shock. The flame in my hands died as her voice, long forgotten and rusty with the harsh rasp of permanent addiction, whispered past her abused lips.

“K-Kats? Is it…is it…really you?”

I remembered…I remembered, damn you all! I had not truly forgotten, but buried that which was too painful to bear. No one, no one but…but…her…had ever called me that. Not my friends, not my father, not Jaim Sunfury, no one else. She had often chided me with the diminutive of my name when I was younger, teased me good-naturedly with it. I hated it, of course. I also loved her for doing it, of course.

When my voice came, it was barely a husky whisper, equally as unused as hers had been. “Yes. It’s really me. I’m…oh, I’m so sorry that…that…this happened to you. It’s my fault. My fault for not coming for you that day. My fault for running.”

She shook her head, dismissing my concern. The wild look to her eyes was gone, sanity returned. The hunger remained, but I did not delude myself into thinking that would ever leave her soul. “No, no, baby. It’s alright. It’s…a lot of us ran that day when we should have fought. I…I ran…I ran to find your father, but couldn’t. I don’t know where…how he…if…”

She trailed off, her eyes darting left and right, searching, beseeching. “The fire was everywhere. In everything. Everyone burned, or ran, or died, or became like…like…I am.” She licked her lips, and I tried to hide my distaste as one particularly putrescent scab broke open on her upper lip, pus and blood running freely, unnoticed. “But I’m better now, Kats. I am. I really, really am. I can control it. I can…be…who I was. I just…I just…need a few more crystals. Just one or two more and I’ll be right as the spring rain, you watch!”

Her smile as she lied to her only child was the most disturbing thing. I saw she believed it, believed it entirely. She was lost. She…my mother…wasn’t there anymore. Only this masquerade remained. The smile died as quickly as she had plastered it on as her clawed fingers reached for my jerkin, pulling us both down to the ground as she shrieked into my face.

“I need it! You’re a mage, so I know you have it! Just one! Just one crystal! Give it to me! Gods damn you, you ungrateful little bitch! GIVE IT TO ME NOW!”

Her voice broke. She degenerated into wracking sobs, head lolling on my shoulder and soiling my clothes with blood, mucus, tears, and who knew what. I sat, unmoving, unable to comprehend what was going on, unable to superimpose this creature on the smiling, lovely face of my youth, unwilling to face what I knew had to happen here.

And something else. Something was about to break loose inside me. Something dark and limpet, struggling to be free of the whirlwind of that dark place in my mind I had shoved all the memories that I could not, would not, dared not, let out. I couldn’t hold it back, couldn’t contain it. And with one soft, strained sentence from her, it was free to ravage my conscience.

“If your father were here, he’d make you give it to me. If he were here. If he were only here…”

And I remembered. All of it. All at once. Every face of every one of my victims for the past months. Every wretch I had put down, thinking it a mercy to execute them. For the first time, I heard their screams, their pleas as the fire took them. I remembered the faces of friends, rivals, entertainers I had loved as a child, political figures most of us had detested, minor royalty…and one face. One face above them all. His denials and shrieks had been long and loud. His rounded jaw melting in the heat of the flames, the spark in his light-green eyes starting to go out in excruciating spasms as the blistering heat contracted all his muscles. But most haunting, most jarring…the recognition on my father’s face at the moment his soul shed its charred vehicle.

I almost gave up then. I nearly laid down, bowing to the inevitable tortures and horrors my erstwhile mother, and the others like her, were certain to visit upon me, as they would any interloper. Idly, I wondered what would kill me first; their madness, or the malfunctioning guardians that still roamed the old city. I wondered if I cared. So many terrible things I had done, so many deaths. No atonement, no altruistic act of contrition, could ever cleanse the stain on my soul. My indifference had made me a murderer, and guilty of possibly the worst crime of all: patricide. To forfeit my life in exchange seemed paltry in the face of the karmic debt I had accumulated. I deserved no less, and perhaps much more.

Ironically, it was the pathetic, wailing thing leaning heavily against me that saved my life. I remembered an afternoon, and a conversation my parents had had with me right before I was to begin my apprenticeship under Magister Sunfury. My father spoke at length of our duty to minister wisdom and prudence to the younger races; my mother spoke of the compassion one must have in the course of those duties; both impressed on me the responsibility that was now mine. At the time, it seemed like one more speech, one more lecture, and I only half-listened, making the right sounds back at them by rote.

Now I understood, truly understood, what that duty and responsibility meant. It meant that no matter what I felt inside, no matter how hard it was to follow the path I had been set on in my youth, to turn away, to lay down and await oblivion, was more than just cowardice. It was treason.

And that’s why, as I held my mother close, my hand found the discarded shiv and brutally thrust it between her ribs.

Her fingers dug into my shoulder as she convulsively gasped in pain, eyes flying open wide in surprise. Gently, I leaned forward and reclined her against the hard, ash-laden ground. “I must release you from this pain," I said, surprised at how even, and hard, my voice was. "I have a duty, now, and I can’t turn my back on it for anything, or anyone. Not even the people who once loved me. I hope you understand and can forgive me. But even if you can’t, please…please be at peace.”

She couldn’t respond, of course. I knew my trade well, and had punctured her lung to avoid attracting the attention of others like her. She couldn’t scream, couldn’t curse, couldn’t berate or chastise, but neither could she praise or forgive. She just stared up at me, the rising and falling of her chest becoming more infrequent, more labored. Finally, after only a few minutes, or maybe an eternity, she took in an erratic, grasping breath, let it rattle out from her ruined lung…

And died.

I remember wanting to cry, but not daring to, as I turned and left the blasted portion of the city. The flame of a simple conjuration licked around my mother’s corpse as I strode away. I couldn’t just leave her for the vermin, rodent or bipedal. That much compassion, at least, I still had to give. Soon, her ashes would mingle with the torched remains of our legacy, but I would be long gone by then. When she died, the last vestiges of my old life expired with her. My previous duty had ended, and a new one was about to consume my existence.

It took less than an hour to pack my meager belongings, requisition enough field provisions to last at least two months, and leave the barracks behind with no one the wiser. The wretched ones, and the occasional abortive attack by the remnants of the Scourge invaders, were simply a symptom of the disease. I saw that clearly, now. The true threat, the enemy who had nearly destroyed us, the creature responsible for my never-ending pain, the Lich King, was now my target.

And striding toward the Ghostlands where a bloody road of revenge and justice were soon to begin, I remember my resolve, my all-encompassing fury at what he had done to all of us. Then, as now, I swore an oath to never stop until I saw the architect of our suffering laid low and bleeding at my hand. I held no illusions, no doubt that this quest could only end in my eventual death, but that seemed a small price to pay to become the tool of our vengeance.

Even kings can burn, after all.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rembrancer is really, I mean it this time

Part one of "Remembrancer" is on the way. Just in final edit. Watch this space...and hope it doesn't suck.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Scenes from Azeroth

Well, having ironed out my personal life issues, I started playing again on September 7th, 2009. All my characters had gone on permanent vacations or joined monastic orders or other such disappearing acts, so I started over...with another Undead Warrior named Tsurii (musta' been a relative or some such). On December 27th, 2009, I dinged 80. More about how I did that at a later date. For now, it's picture time!

Standing outside the dark portal...again...

I think I'm wearing her down...But why is her horse so much bigger than mine?

My first Epic Flyer; dropped for me in heroic Culling of Strat (in case you didn't know). His name is Mr. Blonde.

And here's Tsurii now, in all his facerolling Arms-specced glory. Yes, that is, in fact, the Tyrannical Beheader, probably the 3rd best 2h axe in the game. Ratters is probably jealous.

OK, enough for now. I'll figure out what exploits to put in here tomorrow. For now, hit hard and loot phat, peoples.