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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?

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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.

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.

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