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“Three days,” Elsinne Starsong muttered softly to herself.

Elsinne crouched down behind a dying bush, squinting her eyes against the dust-filled wind. Normally, Thousand Needles was not a very windy place. But every now and then, especially during the late winter, cold and violent winds would sweep in from the Barrens to the north and then down into the canyon, bouncing bitterly between the mesas. The tauren people of Freewind Post and Darkcloud Pinnacle were unaffected by these winds since the chilled air was so heavy that it drafted straight down into the bottom of the canyon, sparing the folk that lived in high places. But for the inhabitants that made their living on the ground, it could be a major annoyance.

It was certainly annoyance to Elsinne. The unclouded night sky was beautiful to behold, but it allowed the warmth of the day to escape. The night winds seemed to claw straight through her clothing. This was the third night of waiting.

Elsinne had great respect for the tauren folk as a whole and she spent much time with them in Thunder Bluff. It was there that she met Melor Stonehoof. He was a well known hunter of beasts who had great pride in his skills. But it wasn’t enough that he rambled on for hours on end about the ways of a hunter. He felt that every adventurer would be a little better off in life if they knew how to hunt. Whether that was true or not, Elsinne didn’t care. She had no desire to pursue loathsome animals.

But one evening Stonehoof offered Elsinne something she could not resist—the Talon of Vultros. She recognized by sight that it was the legendary dagger. Some said that it was a literal talon, ripped clean from the foot of a giant carrion bird that supposedly roamed the abandoned farm lands of Westfall. Others said that the bird tale was a children’s bedtime story and that the blade was crafted in the Eastern Kingdoms by the hands of humans. She didn’t know how it came to be in the possession of Stonehoof and she didn’t care. She wanted it. All she needed to do, according to Melor Stonehoof, was to get rid of a vicious hyena called Steelsnap that roamed the northwestern edge of Thousand Needles. If getting her hands on that blade only meant killing some dirty mongrel, she was up for it. How hard could it be?

That was six days ago. It took her three days of traveling to arrive in Thousand Needles. The next three days and nights, she would wander the dry floor of the canyon, hunting for this beast.

After a few more minutes of muttering to herself passed, she caught a glimpse of a shadow moving about sixty yards away. It was moving towards her, this figure which was slow and low to the ground. Moments later, fighting the dust in her eyes, she was able to make out two more similar shadows. These were smaller, but similar in shape. They followed the larger shape obediently. As they drew closer, the dim starlight revealed them to indeed be hyenas, the larger one confidently and slowly leading the pack, sniffing and huffing every so often.

Even closer now, Elsinne realized that this Steelsnap was no ordinary hound. The top of its head was four feet from the ground and its muscular body appeared as though it would burst through the hairy skin at any moment. Unwilling to wait until they reached her, she slowly moved towards them, staying low and silent in the shadows. The wind was hard in her face now, but welcome because this meant that her scent would not reach them before she did. When she was within ten yards of them, she tossed a rock behind them. As they turned to see what caused the sound, she pulled her weaponry from her sides, dagger in her right hand and sword in her left.

In a flash, she was on Steelsnap himself, right arm around his neck, knife at his throat. Before the other two hounds had a chance to react, Elsinne had sliced the blade across the breadth of his throat. Steelsnap howled in pain, but to Elsinne’s surprise, the cut had not nearly been deep enough. The beast bled, but was not disabled. He was now, however, considerably more angry.

One of the smaller hyenas charged into her left side and drove her savagely into the ground. As its jaws snapped at her throat, she clubbed it in the side of its head with the hilt the sword in her left hand. It fell unconscious on top of her as she felt the pain of a hundred nails being driven into both of her ankles. Steelsnap had his jaw locked on her right foot and the remaining smaller hyena the other. They pulled her quickly from beneath the unconscious beast.

She shoved her sword into the neck of the smaller hound with all of the force she could muster. It broke through the other side as the hyena bayed in pain. Steelsnap released her foot and charged for her throat. Elsinne immediately pulled the bloodied sword back, twisting her body to the right, blocking her head and neck with the sword. Steelsnap caught nothing but sharp metal in his mouth as he bit down, blood from his gums spraying into Elsinne’s face. Steelsnap jumped back with a yelp.

Elsinne stood up painfully and with some difficulty, warm blood beginning to ooze into her boots. Realizing now that Steelsnap was probably twice her weight, she couldn’t resist him charging and jumping her. She would go first. She ignored the piercing pain in both her ankles, and ran as fast as she could to towards Steelsnap, with a scream that she was sure was coming from somewhere else, not inside of her. Steelsnap went back on his hind legs, completely unfamiliar with being on the defensive. Just as she reached him, she jumped straight up into the air, further disorienting the beast. She spun into a tight ball over his head and landed behind him, burning pain shooting from her feet up into her thighs. She plunged the dagger in her right hand into the back of his neck, which caused a small cry to come from the beast but little else.

This was one tough puppy. Before she was able to pull the dagger from him, he had turned on her. She shifted deftly to one side as his jaws came down where her face had been. The sound was dreadful, tooth slamming against tooth. With her now free right hand, she pulled a small ball from her belt and threw it forcefully into the ground. Smoke poured forth from the ball, filling the air with dark clouds and the smell of bitterness. Steelsnap howled and began to cough and convulse. The smoke burned his eyes as he barked. Disoriented, he felt the dagger pulled from the back of his neck.

A high pitched blood elf scream caused him to wince painfully in the smoky darkness. For a thousandth of a second, Steelsnap saw faint stars reflected on the sword blade before it tore straight into his mouth and down his throat. Blood rushed into his lungs as he felt a smaller blade come down directly between his eyes, piercing his skull. The last thing the dog saw before life left him was a pair of dim green eyes staring back at him.

A week later, Elsinne sat at the edge of Lake Stonebull removing bandages from her dusty feet. She dove into the water, as much for relaxation as cleanliness. After thirty minutes of swimming lazily in the lake, she returned to the edge where she had left her clothing and other belongings. Only now there was a box among the other things. Hoofprints led away from the lake and disappeared over a hill. She opened it, slowly revealing the Talon of Vultros. She sighed with satisfaction as she held it up to the sunlight. She went through a great deal of pain and suffering to get this blade. She smiled as she decided she would go with the story that she ripped it from the foot of Vultros himself.

Why did I choose to play a blood elf? I’d been Alliance for four years. What in the world would make me choose to go to the other side. There were a few things. I’d never done things from the Horde side so there was essentially a whole game’s worth of new content. I’d never heard their side from their point of view. The final nail in the coffin was me was this video. Blind: The Craft of War.

It’s not a new video, but the first time I saw it was three or four months ago on Vimeo (it’s not hosted there anymore).  The then Wowinsider had a link to it. It’s an awesome machinima and I love the song, Hide and Seek by Namie Amuro. If you’ve not seen it, check it out. If you have seen it, watch it again.

It’s taken me a little while to put together a little back story for Elsinne. Thanks to alot of help from my buddy Arrens, over at Through the Eyes of Death, I was able to put this little bit of info together.

Even though she couldn’t make a fireball out of thin air to save her life, Elsinne Starsong was unimaginably agile. During her younger years she was constantly scolded for balancing on furniture and jumping around on rooftops. These artful displays went completely unappreciated by anyone until one day she met Elara. Elsinne was on her way home from the futility of arcane school one evening, walking carefully but effortlessly along the top rail of an iron fence. Elsinne gave little thought to this; it was a mindless activity. Elara, a petty thief who lived in Murder Row, was impressed by Elsinne’s almost musical motion.

Elara was a good twenty years older than Elsinne, but they became friends. Elsinne always had a bit of a rebellious streak and this played right into Elara’s hands. For some years, they would get themselves involved in mischief and petty crime. They’d never be discovered. Elara would eventually become part of a rogue society that operated out of Murder Row. Elsinne couldn’t join—her family would disown her in a heartbeat—but often Elara would meet with Elsinne in secret and give her private lessons. Elsinne always trained fast and often ended up performing even better than her teacher who had official training. The main lesson that Elsinne took from Elara was that of efficiency. Do what needed to be done. No more, no less. Nothing fancy. No showboating. Showing off is what gets people thrown in prison or killed.

As with most other surviving blood elves, Elsinne’s family was destroyed during the Scourge invasion. Her brother’s body, though, was never found. She searched for it for weeks after the Scourge had been driven back, but there was no sign of him. If it can be said that there was an upside to any of this, though, there was now nobody left to continue to push her towards arcane arts that she never had the aptitude for. She was free to leave the oppressive, authoritarian Silvermoon City without feeling that she was disappointing anyone. She left Silvermoon directed only by the winds and largely motivated by the desire to stay alive.

Other Interesting facts about Elsinne Starsong
Age: 72

Favorite color: White

Favorite activity: Swimming/Bathing

Favorite place: Mulgore (for meditation and Lake Stonebull)

Favorite race to deal with: Tauren—they appreciate peace and living simply, efficiently

Fears: Bears (also has a logical distrust of druids by extension)

Dislikes: orcs for their perceived savagery, humans for their recklessness, authoritarian societies (blood elf in particular), cold weather

Admires: Sylvanas Windrunner for her ability to inspire, lead, and command (Elsinne desires these abilities herself)

Friends: Elara

Family: None

When you find yourself in danger,
When you’re threatened by a stranger,
When it looks like you will take a lickin’,
There is someone waiting,
Who will hurry up and rescue you,
Just Call for Super Chicken!

chicken

The day finally came. Elsinne finished up another assignment last night in Thousand Needles and immediately headed back home to Silvermoon. She visited her rogue trainer, Elara. Elara wasn’t very excited to see Elsinne. She seemed to be in a bit of a funk. Elsinne wondered out loud if Elara hadn’t done her morning meditations. Elara didn’t respond. She’d talk when she was ready, but Elsinne would not likely return to Murder Row for some time. After completing her training, Elsinne checked out of Silvermoon and sprinted outside to get her Hawkstrider. As much as she dreaded riding around on it, she was happy to receive it. Her feet were calloused and even bruised from all of the rocks in Thousand Needles.

Elsinne didn’t get much play time this holiday weekend. She took the weekend off and spent it trying to teach some tauren at Freewind Post how to play cards. She told them she would help them with their centaur problem, but only if she could win some gold off of them first. She has that chicken mount purchase coming up! It wasn’t easy, what with their giant hairy fists.

This weekend, in what I like to call the “real world” I spent a day in a rural town called Buena Vista, Georgia. There isn’t much to Buena Vista. There’s a lumber mill and … well, that’s just about it other than lots and lots of trees.

The people who live in this town pronounce the town name BYOON-A-VISTA. I found that disturbing, since quite clearly it should be pronounced BWEN-A-VISTA, right? I mean, I didn’t take two years of Spanish in high school for nothing! And yet the locals insist that it is called Byoona Vista.

So—here’s my question. Is the correct pronunciation of a word what you think it should be or what the locals say it is? If you say it the way you think it should be, is that being a bit uppity or snooty?

It reminds me of the people who pronounce jalapeño as HALLA-PEENA when ordering at the fast-food drive-thrus. That man has been saying Halla-peena his entire life. Who am I to tell him that’s HALLA-PENYO?

Or am I getting all worked up over nothing but a “to-may-to” or “to-mah-to” thing? Maybe it doesn’t matter what you call it as long as the person you’re talking to knows what you’re talking about.

Language is a funny thing.

Elsinne has pretty much robbed the tauren at Freewind Post blind by now. They’re pretty peaceful folk up there, and I shouldn’t have left here there for that long to take advantage of them. I’d better go check on her.

liam_neeson_zeusLast night, I decided that Elsinne would practice her hide-and-seek skills in the Barrens, at the Bael Modan dig site. The Ironforge dwarves have been ripping up the place lately, tearing the homes and lives away from the tauren that had been there. It sounded like some unsuspecting dwarves deserved to die. While Elsinne was in the World of Warcraft leaving bodies all over the red mountain, I decided that I would watch the movie Taken, starring Liam Neeson.

The movie wasn’t an incredibly bad movie, but it certainly wasn’t an incredibly good movie. I won’t go into too much detail about the movie because … well … there isn’t much detail to go ino. Essentially, if you’ve seen the trailer for Taken, then you’ve seen Taken. In a nut shell, the movie was this:

1. Retired super spy loves his daughter but his birthday presents suck. Her new stepdaddy’s wallets are way bigger.

2. Retired super spy’s daughter is kidnapped by Albanian international prostitution ring.

3. Retired super spy makes threats on phone to Albanian international prostitution ring.

4. Retired super spy makes good on threats to Albanian international prostitution ring.

5. Retired super spy rescues daughter.

6. Retired super spy can one-up daughter’s stepdaddy due to otherwise utterly meaningless coincidence introduced early in the movie.

The whole time I watched the movie, I was sitting there thinking, This movie is exactly the same as the Transporter movies except there isn’t the blatant Audi product placement and Liam Neeson never takes his shirt of and kills people with it. Other than that, it might just as well have been Transporter 4. Imagine my amazing surprise when I discovered that the writers of this film also wrote the Transporter movies.

I watched a 57-year-old Liam Neeson perform circus-like acrobatics and dodge hundreds of rounds of high power ammunition for ninety minutes and then it was all over. The super spy went home with only a couple of bruises and Elsinne had shanked every dwarf in Bael Modan and managed to destroy a dwarven flying ship to boot. The Barrens was now safer, thanks to Elsinne. Tauren could begin returning to their home soon and it was all thanks to Liam Neeson keeping me company. Thanks, Liam.

Fear me.

Fear me.

Elsinne is level 25 now and getting closer and closer to her first Horde ground mount. I would say that I’m excited, but I’m not.

Way back in vanilla WoW, I remember taking my first level 40 all the way out to Ratchet to get her spectacular felsteed. The fire pony was beyond awesome. Later, one of my night elves would get a kitty. It was beautiful. My paladin’s shiny mount reflected the sun into people’s eyes as they looked upon it in awe, possibly envy. Eventually, I would create a death knight and feel much love for the deathcharger, especially the ghoulish scream it would make when it was summoned. There would be many more mounts to follow as I would accumulate more PvP and reputation mounts. Some were more impressive than others.

Then I go to the Horde side. My first ground mount will be … a chicken. I should be thankful, I know. Running around the Barrens or Ashenvale on foot can be a bit tiresome. But … a chicken? Not one of the lions that are all over Eversong Woods and Ghostlands? Not even a turtle? A chicken? I never thought I would hear myself say that I would rather have a mechanostrider but … I’d rather have a mechanostrider. Sure hawkstrider sounds cool, but just look at it!

Last night I learned a very important lesson.

Polly is a meanie.

Polly is a meanie.

The Barrens + being sleepy + not bothering to read quest text = painful and embarrassing death.

I completed Ghostlands and recently visited Sylvanas Windrunner and Thrall to secure the Blood Elves’ place in the Horde. I was a bit proud of myself. I made my way out to Tarren Mill to see if they needed help. Apparently they do, but most of the quests available there are level 22 and up. Being only level 21, it seemed like a good idea to see what was available in Kalimdor and gain a level or two.  

I don’t like the Barrens. Let’s just get that out of the way. It’s not just because of the infamous Barrenschat. I sincerely just don’t like the zone. Without a mount it’s pure torture and the quest lines just aren’t very compelling. And zebra unicorns just aren’t very interesting. Questing in the Barrens feels like work. So my goal is to get the level or two that I need and then get out.

After shamelessly and unquestioningly slitting a few raptor throats for some goblin I’d just met, I decided to undergo my third lockpicking quest in Ratchet. This is where things went downhill in a hurry.

The quest (Plundering the Plunderers) was to bring back a treasure from a pirate ship. Easy peasy, right? Knock off a couple of hopeless pirate wannabes, loot the treasure, and get out. Sadly, this would have been the case had I bothered to actually read the quest text.

I jumped into the pirate ship, which was completely empty, by the way. It seemed that the pirates weren’t especially interested in guarding their treasure. Down at the bottom level of the ship, the unguarded treasure chest glittered in the corner. A couple of seconds of lockpicking and … what? The chest is empty? And there is now a giant parrot named Polly blocking my exit?

Four hits later, I was dead, shredded by Polly. No wonder there were no pirates guarding the treasure. They simply weren’t needed. I would discover later that Polly was, in fact, level 50 and was toying with me. Though sleepy, I decided I’d better read the quest text this time.

I was too lazy to go all the way back to my corspe so I spirit rezzed. Oops. I didn’t get the anti-parrot item from the goblin robot thing. Okay, done. Well, I didn’t really need to wait until the death debuff ran out, did I? I can just give the parrot the treat. Yeah.

I opened the chest. Yay! Still empty!? Polly showed up again, more angry than the first time. I tossed the crackers it. Polly was reduced to level 18 but … I had to fight it … with rez sickness.

We both died together. It wasn’t pretty. So I ran back to my corpse and then looted Polly’s mangled but glittering bird body for the treasure! Carbonite would congratulate me: Quest complete! (As a side note, can I get a female voice for Carbonite?)

So what are today’s lessons, boys and girls?

Don’t play while half awake. You won’t read your quest text and bad things will happen. Very bad things.  Also, get over your rez sickness before getting involved with quests. Otherwise, even more bad things will take place.

Please continue to pray for me as I emotionally deal with the Barrens.

post41

I steal things. It’s what I do. I’m a rogue. Sometimes the people I take things from are alive when I take them, sometimes they aren’t.

I don’t need a job. I don’t want a profession. I decided when I created Elsinne that the only profession she would need is first aid, and that was for survivability purposes. Can you imagine a rogue sitting in a shop making sewing boots or jackets for people? I shudder at the thought. What if I need a jacket for myself? Then I’ll take it from somebody else.

Elsinne hit level 18 last night and I have been having great success at the auction house thus far just selling things I’ve stumbled across in my travels. I’m above skinning dead animals. I refuse to pick flowers. And I’ll die before you catch me digging up rocks for money. I’m just selling cloth, glasses of ice cold milk, or uncommon weaponry I find on people. And it’s been working out.

I’ve got about 35 gold right now, which is pretty impressive since I haven’t been farming drops or anything. So far pickpocketing hasn’t gotten me much more than health potions, but it’s fun to take a troll’s thirteen copper, the only money they have in the world, and then shank them afterwards.

I’ve been severely limiting my time in the game lately, and I’ve noticed that I am actually getting more accomplished, not less.

In the past, when I’ve logged on with no official “quitting time”, I would get some things done but it was easy to lose focus. I might go off in this direction to skill up this profession or walk down in that direction for no good reason in particular.

Elsinne has been moving right along with just playing for minutes at a time, generally 20-30 minute chunks. I am cheating, however, since I am using the Jame’s Horde Leveling Guide add-on, which helps tremendously. She’s already very near to dinging level 17.

Not having professions to level has removed a good bit of distraction. And so has ignoring achievements entirely. I am finding that I am able to make a steady enough income just off of green drops and profession materials that I can sell at the auction house.

I did break from this playstyle a bit this weekend, however, when I decided to enjoy my first official bit of role-playing on Earthen Ring.

Elsinne was strolling into Silvermoon for important rogue business when she was approached by a very large orc.

Orc: You there! Elf!

Elsinne: Can I help you, orc?

Orc: Yes! I was looking for someone to be my servant. You’ll fit nicely.

Elsinne: A blood elf servant to an orc? Have you been eating bad Dalaran cheese?

Orc: What I ask of you is no different than these meaningless errands you’ve been running up until now.

Elsinne: What I have done has been with selfish purposes. I owe them nothing nor am I bound to them. I have a plan.

Orc: Oh, really? What is your plan?

Elsinne: My plans are my own. You’re a long way from home, orc. Why are you in Silvermoon?

Orc: I was exiled.

Elsinne: /laugh

Orc: I am earning my way back to my people.

Elsinne: Good luck with that. I need to speak with my trainer urgently. I bid you good day, orc.

Orc: Very well. I will find someone else to earn my gold.

I would later run into a blood elf mage whose character apparently was touched in the head. He would scream crazy nonsensical things about the scourge randomly throughout the city. Supposedly he was driven insane by his magic addiction. He was definitely into his character, that’s for sure.

So I lost focus for a bit there, but it was well worth it and I wouldn’t mind doing a bit more RP when I get the chance.

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