Friday, November 26, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The end is so very effing nigh

The ground beneath them rumbles, and each one takes their respective places to prepare for the changes that have been foretold.

Cartwright, a strong-willed and aspiring shaman, stands upon the threshold of Orgrimmar. Much change has come in the last few days to his people and the Horde; Cartwright learned of Thrall’s self-bestowed quest to face the elemental threat, leaving Garrosh Hellscream in charge. Cartwright had never been fond of the son of Grommash, and despite all attempts to enlist with the Earthen Ring, the young shaman was denied, as he lacked the formidable aptitude to join. He knows the time has come to make his choice: enter these gates and relinquish his freedom to the tyrant-to-be, or leave, never to return, seeking his purpose elsewhere and at his own volition, gaining what he can of what's left of the shattering world beneath his feet as he prepares to join the Earthen Ring. Cartwright stands at the gates, feeling the earth quake beneath him.

Qi, the taciturn assassin, sits on a step of a short flight of stairs down Murder Row of Silvermoon. With a sharpening stone, she works at the blade of a dagger. There’s a nick, where an Alliance sword had met her parry. She runs the stone across the forged steel, methodically and with great care. A tremble from the ground beneath her causes her hand to go astray, pushing hard against the grain. The blade nearly snaps, but she’s quick to move her hand just in time to avoid causing undue pressure upon the metal. The point digs into her wrist with her movement, and as blood runs down the hilt, Qi neither howls nor panics, but calmly lifts the blade out and sheaths it. She quickly bandages the wound. Later, she thinks to herself, she could find a dummy to practice on, maybe recuperate through fighting. She looks to her side at the sheath with the nicked dagger. The blade is flawed, which she’d have to live with, as blades do come and go. It’ll serve her well enough in her next fight with the Alliance, thinking of her battles to come in Tol Barad. The stories of the place came across the seas and lands, and her appetite for a good fight will be sated. She looks to her other dagger, sheathed, and pulls it from its holding. Blood covers it from point to hilt. While the other had the nick, this one met its mark. She wouldn’t clean it, she thought. If one isn’t perfect, best to leave the other as it is.

Oneironaut, paladin of the Light, paces back and forth in Farstriders’ Square. He has lived a life full of purpose and camaraderie, helping and serving any wherever he was needed. Now, feeling change in the air, he cannot fathom a rightful place for himself. What is he to do, now that his brothers and sisters in arms have taken to their own adventures? Only recently has he returned to Warsong Gulch to reclaim the ground he lost so long ago, and even that, as satisfying as battle can be, is still not the same as it once was when he was new to the world. His armor, mismatched in style and purpose, tells of past exploits and adventures of which he holds a great fondness for. Now, as the ground shakes, cracks spider-webbing across the fine buildings and stonework floor, he takes a knee. The time will come when he will be needed once more by his friends. For now, he prays.

Wash, executive-underboss-assistant-manager-in-training to the esteemed and highly respected (only at face value, of course) Trade Prince Gallywix, dances the night away. His shuffle is legendary among the goblins of Kezan, and at his party, celebrating nothing in particular, he shows his party goers what this groove is all about. The ground trembles beneath his feet, and for a brief moment, each goblin in attendance pauses to collect themselves. Far in the distance, a massive explosion is heard; running outside, goblins set their gaze on the not-so-dormant Mount Kajaro. Lava spews from its maw, the ground shakes and buildings begin to collapse. Sirens can be heard across the island, as can Gallywix’s voice. He demands money in return for a safe passage off the island. Wash debates his options: go to a bank and withdraw everything, closing all accounts and cashing in all his stocks; get a gun and start robbing houses and other goblins, then head to the bank and rob that; or start swimming. The lava has reached his home and has begun to burn the foundation, and Wash knows, at that very moment, the fun of the next few moments depends on how much he could steal.

Oathbreaker, Loremaster and well-rounded brigand, screams in the face of an already dead corpse. Since his exile from Orgrimmar for accidentally burning down the Auction House, he took to the wilderness and found a knack in killing off small Alliance settlements for fun. The citizens of Southshore never knew such terror and few understood what pain truly felt like until the warlock visited that morning. Magistrate Maleb’s left leg is missing, and all he can do, as he tries dragging his battered husk with one functional arm across the splintered wood of the burning town hall, is look on as Oathbreaker demands a dead guard the whereabouts of a competent tailor to fix the seam of his robe, which he calls a “man dress.” The ground trembles violently, and a timber beam falls on Maleb, killing him instantly. Oathbreaker’s attention turns to a tremendous noise outside of the town hall. Dropping the dead guard, he runs outside, bearing witness to a tidal wave bigger than Black Temple itself. He summons a Demon Portal down, hoping that wherever he may be once the wave hits, he could just poof back to safety. He begins to cackle uncontrollably at nothing in particular. He stands at the end of everything, hoping that the water, devastating as it appears to be, is at least relatively warm.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembering the Fallen

First off, my apologies for being absent for so long, I never wanted to take this much time off from something I love and care about, but real life sometimes gets in the way. Expect things in the future, and Wartenx, I got you bro, I’ll talk with you this weekend. On to the post.

Today is Veterans’ Day here in America; it’s a day in which all US citizens take the time to remember the military veterans who have served the United States. There used to be importance for this day, but I still see people working and going about their daily lives. Several of my students didn’t know what the day was intended for. It’s sad to think that a day rooted in the ideals and beliefs of our country could be met with such ignorance, even such disdain.

World of Warcraft has the Harvest Festival, celebrated very briefly for a week in late September, and the idea behind it is just the same: remember the fallen. In that week, players can honor the spirits of soldiers past who wander the gates outside their major city, either Orgrimmar or Ironforge, for their respective faction. There is also a brief quest, in which the Horde honors Grom Hellscream in Ashenvale and the Alliance honors Uther the Lightbringer in Western Plaguelands, placing an offering at either’s monument. I recall a year or two ago when a few of my friends had done the quest, but complained severely that there wasn’t an achievement.

IRL or in Azeroth, our soldiers serve, but tend to be forgotten or unappreciated.

Growing up, my Uncle Terry has always been a close relative and a father figure. He reminds me of Bo Duke, with his southern drawl and charm. I used to watch John Wayne movies in the den with him and the rest of the family. His son and daughter have been my surrogate brother and sister since diapers (I’m an only child). I always knew my uncle had served, though I was never privy to what extent and under what circumstances. He was a marine assigned to a particular battleship during Vietnam, and as far as any of us were concerned, he had a good ol’ time just smoking and drinking, and then he came home. It wasn’t until I started working with veterans at an assisted living facility a couple years ago that I understood.

Uncle Terry and my aunt came down that summer, wanting to see what we were up to. He came by the ALF to see me work, not realizing there were veterans. He started making conversation, quietly at first, asking tiny questions. “What was your rank?” “Army? Navy?” “Did you know this guy in this platoon?” At first, I didn’t think anything of it, just military guys talking military. A few times Uncle Terry had to go out and smoke, which usually never took more than three minutes, but while he was at the ALF with me, he took fifteen minute breaks. I would check on him and see a few of his Marlboro butts by his feet. The end of the day, he got to talking with the VA benefits rep, and came to find they both had served as marines during the same tour, just stationed down the river from each other in Vietnam. As they were talking, I found that, in retrospect, it was the hardest conversation I have ever stood witness to.

My Uncle Terry sleeps an average of five hours every night, and has done so ever since I’ve known him. I never knew it was because his company was under fire, and the sound of bullets in the brush kept him up at night. I didn’t know he heard things, conversations down the hall or his name being called out by voices that don’t exist anymore. He avoided certain smells, scents that triggered memories that would excuse him from dinner tables and get-togethers so he could go into another room to collect himself. I never knew he would catch himself staring off into the distance, forgetting his task at hand. I had no idea he served three tours, one of which so his brother wouldn’t have to.

When the day was over and we went home, I talked with my uncle; I told him that I loved him, but I also told him thank you.

Whether you know it or not, hell, whether you care or you don’t, you have your liberties because of our soldiers. The ideals, beliefs, and intentions behind war are moot, for on this day we honor the selfless and the heroes. The reasons do not matter, only the action. If you observe Veterans’ Day, Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day in your respective country and you happen upon a former soldier, tell them thank you. You don’t have to believe in a damn thing or advocate why we fight, but be gracious to those who have fought for you and for all of us.

To anyone who has served or is serving in the military, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I am by no means a patriot, nor do I believe in everything my government does, but because of you, I love my country. Thank you.