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My parents loved me. I could always tell. I never doubted it. But I would never make them truly happy. I would never be a mage. Some of the arcane masters in Silvermoon worked very hard with me, likely heavily encouraged by some coin from my parents. But it was never in me.

But my brother – he had it. The knack. The calling. Or whatever you want to call it. He had a great aptitude for it.

Alas, when the scourge came, it wasn’t enough. Nobody’s magic was enough. The scourge laughed at us when they marched through Silvermoon.

My father told me to go hide. He didn’t tell me where. It didn’t matter. I doubt there was anybody better than me when it came to getting lost.

My parents were killed that day, along with just about everyone else.

I found their bodies together, not too far from the Bazaar. I was relieved – relieved that they weren’t brought back as those sickening things. So many others had been. What abominations!

My brother … I never found his body. I looked for weeks.

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It's not easy being green.

It's not easy being green.

Some of the kind folk in Thunder Bluff asked me if I would accompany them on a supply run to Camp Mojache, Feralas. I tried to find an excuse not to go, but the tauren have a way about them that makes them seem needy. Not needy in a weak way, but in a way that makes you just want to hug them and tell them that it will all be okay. But it never really is, is it?

The centaur haven’t been harassing the transport caravans from Thunder Bluff lately, but you never can tell when one of those wretched centaur has managed to round up a few of his bloodthirsty friends. The tauren requested that I scout ahead for them.

The trip took a couple of weeks. The worst part was probably the lack of any good bathing spots. I am pretty sure we all smelled like jungle gorillas when we finally rolled into Camp Mojache. I was swimming naked in Wildwind Lake before I even bothered to greet anyone.

In spite of the fact that there is the constant threat of attack by gnolls or Grimtotem clan people, the jungle of Feralas is one of the most serene places I have ever been. This is mostly due to the military guidance of Rok Orhan. That is one orc woman to be reckoned with.

It has been warm but not excessively humid. On the occasions where there has been rainfall, it was cool and pleasant.

I have been here now for several days and I’ve been able to get some thinking done. That wasn’t the purpose of my visit (Cairne promised me a hundred gold for assisting) but it has been a welcome by product.

The following is a portion of a scene from the movie Bladerunner:

Holden: You’re in a desert, walking along when –
Leon: What one?
Holden: What?
Leon: What desert?
Holden: Doesn’t matter what desert it is, it’s completely hypothetical.
Leon: Well, how come I’d be there?
Holden: Maybe you’re fed up. Maybe you just wanted to get away from it all. Anyway. You’re in a desert, walking along when you look down and you see a tortoise, Leon. It’s crawling toward you.

I was listening to Stardancer’s piece on the latest episode of Epic Dolls just last night, specifically the part about role-playing your character and having a reason to be in a particular zone other than the fact that the last quest brought you there.

In terms of role-playing, that’s absolutely necessary. Without it, your answer to the question of “What brings you here?” would always be something like:

“Well, I was on a journey to help with the defense of the land when some woman stopped me and asked me to help her get some meat for her pie.”

“Is she a relative of yours?”

“Well, no.”

“So you traveled weeks to get here to the coast in order to catch crabs to make pie for a woman you don’t even know?”

“Seems that way. Oh, but wait, also some guy lost his watch in a house about fifty miles from here. He said it’s surrounded by wolves.”

“A watch?”

“Well, it’s more of a family heirloom.”

“You’re going to risk being eaten by wolves to get a watch for some guy? Where does he live?”

“I’m not sure. I met him on the road.”

“You’re a strange person.”

So, if you’re a role-player, why would you have ended up in whatever zone you’re in? Would your character really have traveled to the other side of the world because he or she cared about some goblins who needed parts to make a racing car? Would your character really swim through murloc-infested waters just so two lovers can make out together in the woods?

Or is it more consistent with your character that he or she might be there because they’ve heard that the coast has the most beautiful beaches in all of Azeroth? Because you’ve heard that the dwarves in the mountains there make the most potent ale? Or is it because you committed a horrible crime in the last area you were in and there is a bounty on your head?

My need to possess you has consumed my soul.

My need to possess you has consumed my soul.

I made a post a few days ago about how Elsinne didn’t have a purpose in the world. She was a young elf wandering the world, enjoying her lonely freedom after the destruction of Silvermoon seven years ago. When I created her name, I thought it was completely original; I did not realize there were other Starsongs in the game. There are a few, but the most interesting one is Velinde Starsong, the night elf sentinel.

Elsinne was the only blood elf Starsong to survive the Scourge invasion, but clearly there are now some very distant night elf Starsongs. What does that mean for Elsinne? Well, this is how I imagine some recent events may have played out.

Elsinne visits Ratchet. Learning her name through a conversation, a goblin tells her that another Starsong was through there some years ago, a night elf, on her way to the Eastern Kingdoms. The night elf called Starsong was looking for someone. Arriving in Booty Bay some time later, Elsinne confirms with Baron Revilgaz, who never forgets a face, that indeed a night elf by the name of Starsong was there. Elsinne learns that Velinde Starsong was searching for assistance with the Scythe of Elune, a powerful artifact that could summon worgen.

Elsinne would not be at all interested in her night elf ancestry, but her hatred of the centaur of Kalimdor has given her an idea. What if she could find out more about what happened to Velinde? What if she could gain access to this scythe? What if she could control the worgen? The vile centaur could be removed from the face of this world forever.

And thus would begin her obsession.

Searching for Velinde, searching for the Scythe, searching for information. I am imagining that this could RP very well, given that there are libraries everywhere. There are many learned scholars all over Azeroth. I know that the quest chain ends with Velinde and the Scythe disappearing, but this gives much for Elsinne to learn and search for. And since this whole Scythe business continues on into Northrend in Grizzly Hills, this could be a long time sorting out!

The night that the bluffwatchers brought Zane Cinderhoof’s corpse back to Thunder Bluff was the second worst night in Elsinne Starsong’s relatively short lifetime.

Zane Cinderhoof was a young tauren carpenter who was responsible for much of the upkeep on Thunder Bluff’s Elder Rise. While Elsinne rested in Elder Rise some months back, recovering from injury, she befriended Zane, who was often nearby making repairs on various tauren structures. The tauren had a strong oral tradition, and Elsinne would be amazed at how much knowledge the young Zane retained.

Zane and his younger brother Iram had recently taken the perilous journey from Mulgore to Desolace to buy a couple of tamed kodo beasts from the goblins. They had taken a couple of bluffwatchers with them for safety, but only at their mother’s insistence. A few hours before reaching their destination, the group was ambushed by a group of centaur.

For her brief seventy-two years of life, centaur were little more than mythical creatures to Elsinne. This was so until she landed on Kalimdor and saw them for the first time. She was horrified by their hateful spite and capacity for brutality as she watched them from safety during her wanderings through the Barrens and Thousand Needles.

These centaur had been exceptionally savage. Attacking the tauren group from behind, they made easy work of the younger Iram Cinderhoof. Barely an adolescent, he was unable to put up much of a fight. The centaur had taken hold of Zane before the bluffwatchers had time to react. There had been six centaur, but they were not able to match the abilities of the two bluffwatchers that remained. Two centaur were killed before the others fled. Iram was no longer recognizable; the inflamed stomping of the centaur had mangled him. Zane had been run through several times with incompetently fashioned spears. Out of dignity, they buried Iram where he was slain.

Elves were often very prejudiced towards others and, after leaving Silvermoon, Elsinne fought very hard to remain free of that elf inclination. She watched the bluffwatchers through tears as they carried Zane’s body to his mother’s door. She listened in anguish as the mother’s cries pierced the night air. Perhaps all of Mulgore heard her.

Elsinne was there when Arthas marched on Quel’Thalas. But she knew that the Lich King’s minions were nothing more than mindless puppets. Elsinne was no fan of the Scourge, but she had no deep seated hatred for them. They were weak, poor souls under the control of an insane human. She could destroy Scourge on sight, but there would be no emotion behind it, just necessity. But these horrible centaur, they did this of their own free will. The rumors of their boundless ferocity were true.

The tears gradually stopped flowing, and suddenly Elsinne felt heavy with heat within her breast. This was the fever of hatred, unadulterated abhorrence that Elsinne had never felt before.

I spent a good bit of time this weekend reading World of Warcraft lore and also visiting the blogs and websites of other role-players to see what their characters were all about.

Many of these characters had some lofty goals and aspirations, in most cases based solely on an incident that occurred to the character in some time past. One common “purpose in life” that I run across is: vengeance against the Scourge in general or Arthas in particular. The character’s life was destroyed by the Scourge, and likely a large or meaningful part of their family was destroyed as well. This gives them the drive to press on until one day Arthas is destroyed.

I have run across other characters who want to live out some general purpose – perhaps serving the Dark Lady or Tyrande Whisperwind without question because in some way their character owes Sylvanas or the night elf high priestess their lives. Still more characters are crusaders of some kind, perhaps keeping their homelands free of demon taint or wandering elementals.

Elsinne, my character, doesn’t have a purpose at all. I don’t know if that’s good or bad in terms of role-play. As I have indicated in days past, she is an admirer of Sylvanas Windrunner but she does not share her goals and ideals. Elsinne is from Quel’thalas but she has no deep loyalty to Silvermoon. She wishes that she could have left it under better circumstances, but she is glad that she left. She is a member of the Horde mostly in name only. The Scourge invasion has left her largely emotionless when it comes to anything political. She sees little point in drawn lines and boundaries. They seem to create more problems than they solve. Elsinne isn’t interested in being ruled by anybody.

This is why she gets along so well with the tauren in Thunder Bluff and can usually be found among them. They just want to survive, not scheme and conquest. But that doesn’t necessarily mean she stays out of trouble. She often leaves Mulgore for months at a time, adventuring and making her way the best way she can. On occasion she has been known to get involved in local problems, whether it be for coin or genuine interest.

The bottom line here, I guess, is that Elsinne isn’t “epic” and she’s okay with that. She’s never been on any adventures thus far with any major players. In fact, she’s only ever met less than a handful of people who could have been said to have any real influence at all. Elsinne doesn’t want to change the world, though she does recognize that there is plenty wrong with it.

Habit 1: They Should Never See You Coming. You are not a brawler. As cocky as you might be, you cannot go toe to toe with some armor wearing beast. Your best bet is taking him down from behind. If he survives, he’ll scream something about honor, but honor is for losers. Honorable people get killed. Honorable people are taken advantage of.

Habit 2: Be prepared. Too many rogues get killed every year due to lack of preparation. It does you no good to bravely descend into a pit after some lost treasure if you are bitten by a venomous snake and die two hours later. Locals can usually tell you about the general area. Ask around. What are the dangers? It doesn’t matter if they can remember your face. You’ll likely not be back.

Habit 3: Integrity is meaningless. I’m not saying that you should go out conning people for a living, but remember that you are not contractually bound to people, either. You’ve got some people out there (night elves) who think that you should do things just out of the goodness of your heart or sense of responsibility. In order for you to remain emotionally detached, you need a tangible reason for doing something, not an ideological one. And sometimes it’s okay to say you will when really you won’t. Appearing to be a pushover is an invitation for people to come gunning for you.

Habit 4: Poison is your friend. Not often, but every now and then you’ll run across someone who is quick enough to escape you. They’ll run and scream and draw attention to themselves and ultimately to you. A little poison in the blood flow usually stops that from happening. Many spiders have died to bring you this excruciating poison. It’s a shame to waste it.

Habit 5: Feel free to use and abuse your friends. I’m not one of those people who will tell you that everyone in the world is untrustworthy and that you need to live in a hole in order to be safe. There are plenty of people that can be trusted, even with your life. Use this to your advantage. If there is an enemy that you know you will not be able to deal with alone, bring a friend. You might have to make up a reason to get her to come along, but they’ll get over it. That’s what friends are for.

Habit 6: Disable, disable, disable. Usually, you will be called upon for a job when brute force has failed. Straight up fighting isn’t the answer. Don’t get caught up in the distraction of fighting everything to the death. A well-placed blow to the head, knee, or forearm is usually enough to remove threats. Fight dirty. There is nothing wrong with throwing sand in someone’s eyes. Leave the clumsy gladiatorial fights to someone else with nothing better to do.

Habit 7: Don’t get angry. You won’t like it when you’re angry. Losing your cool is also a guaranteed loss of focus. It leads to carelessness, clumsiness, and—if you don’t stem it—death. Don’t respond to meaningless taunts and don’t try to get even. If you find yourself beginning to boil over, go settle down.

Be safe.

sylvanas

I mentioned on a previous occasion that Elsinne Starsong deeply admires Sylvanas Windrunner. She always did, even when Sylvanas was ranger-general of Silvermoon. Elsinne always desired to have leadership and tactical skills that were even half that of Sylvanas. Sure, she was pretty quick with a dagger, but Elsinne was a klutz when it came to leading people. Being forced to lead, she turns into a stammering idiot. She met Sylvanas once some time ago, shortly after she left Silvermoon. The queen of the Forsaken barely paid Elsinne any attention at all, but Elsinne will never forget standing face to face with one of the most amazing people in Azeroth.

I do the work, you get the glory?

I do the work, you get the glory?

I’ve been trying not to mix role-playing and solo questing. Essentially, solo questing is my means for getting to 80 eventually. Role-playing is that thing I do purely for entertainment purposes and to give my character some depth. One doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the other. But, let’s face it, sometimes you need a little bit of extra motivation, even if the quest is just a simple means to a far off end.

You know how quests work. “Elsinne, those harpies keep ambushing our caravans, stealing our supplies and flying off with our males. It needs to stop. Go kill and de-feather their merciless leader!” Right. No problem. I don’t know you very well, but I’ll help your people out. “Elsinne, I was out fishing and lost my toolbox. It sank to the bottom of the lake. Can you go get it for me? By the way, the lake is filled with hungry sea creatures with claws.” Sure, as long as you promise to pay me and not to be clumsy again.

Those are normal. Sometimes you might get quests where you’re somewhat emotionally invested. “Please, Elsinne. Help me. My son has been kidnapped by the evil trolls who live in that cave just over the hill. I haven’t seen him in weeks. Our attempts to retrieve him have ended in bloody failure. No more in the village are willing to try. Who knows what ungodly things they might be doing to him in there?” You will see your son again. I promise. I don’t even need a reward.

But now Elsinne has just stumbled into Stranglethorn Vale and met up with Nesingwary, the younger. He wants me to hunt animals for him. Why? Isn’t he the hunter? What good is it to him if I do all of the work? He wants the heads of these nasty creatures that he has not been able to deal with himself? Is he going to take credit for downing them when he displays their heads over his mantel?

In spite of the con that Nesingwary Jr. is pulling, Elsinne could also be mastering her stalking skills. Slinking into a cave and slashing the throat of some fel orc brute is one thing, but crawling around undetected on the jungle floor after animals whose senses of sight and sound far exceed that of any humanoid would improve Elsinne’s rogue abilities a thousand fold. If she could hold her own against a vicious raptor while teetering on the edge of a cliff, what chance does some uncoordinated draenei warrior have against her? It’s quite possible that, years later, Elsinne could return to the Vale, not to claim her stolen right to fame or to exact some sort of vengeance, but to thank Nesingwary for providing her with the opportunity to increase her skills in ways she could never have imagined.

“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.

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