Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day Seventeen

Because this area can't figure out how to deal with its own problems... I mean granted they're difficult tasks, like walking from one farm to the other, delivering mail. You know, stuff a mage should have to deal with. This is what I've been training for all my life. Shooing away piggies from a vegetable garden. When do I get my lands and title?

"Auntie" Bernice Stonefield thinks that little Billy Maclure stole her necklace. Billy has conveniently forgotten anything about the necklace, because he's too hungry to remember. But gee whiz, some pork belly pies would hit the spot. And who makes the best pork belly pies? Auntie Bernice. Awkward. And she needs some boar meat. Should chop up Princess again.

Got the pies to Billy, and he suddenly remembered "playing" near the Fargodeep mine. Well, goddammit, that's where I wanted to go in the first place. And he said some big "gold-toothed" kobold picked it up. Well, luckily I'd run into Goldtooth before, and third time's the charm. Gave back the necklace and got some pants. Uncle Stonefield's pants, specifically. Who forgot them on his last campaign *sniffle*. I'm going to have an interesting wardrobe when this is all said and done.

Who gets pants and boots for payment? I want some money.

--Caden Watkins

Day Sixteen

Ma Stonefield got me up this morning and told me she needed "Princess" killed. It took me ten minutes trying to figure out what she was talking about. I feel like I'd heard her name before. I think someone near Westfall made some mention for her. Was that one of the crimes that serial killer Clark was guilty of?

Anyway, there was no difficulty finding Princess. The boar was as big as me, and had a big old pink ribbon on its front haunch. Ma wanted me to bring her brass collar back as proof, but I thought maybe I should take her back to the Brackwells, they must miss her. But then I thought, well, its probably going to come back to life anyway. What's the point? So I killed it swiftly, brought the collar back, and Ma gave me some farmer boots. Yay.

I should mention that yesterday, on my way to Crystal Lake (I seem to remember reading a story or a comic roll in my world about The Killer of Crystal Lake -- should I be worried?) I got attacked by murlocs. I'd say I was in over my head but water puns aren't funny. I even ran past a Stormwind guard who was there for gods knows why, and the maggot wouldn't lift a finger. He just stared into the water. Thanks a lot, jerk.

-Caden Watkins

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day Fifteen

When I got to the Lion's Pride Inn, there was a "dwarf"/"little person" next to Farley, named Moniq.  I didn't want to say anything, but it sure looked like they were in a relationship.  And I didn't ask questions, but my mind goes to places like 'how do they kiss?' 'does he have to reach everything on the shelves'?  I blame my alchemist friend for this system of thinking.

Back to the farms.  After talking to Julia Stevens, who is a pet trainer in snakes ("Do you like my snakes?  I get the feeling they don't like you!"  Creepy.) I got the letter from Maybell (I finally figured out the protocol for selling things back to vendors) and walked to Stonefield farm.  Then Tommy Joe wanted me to talk to "Gramma" Stonefield.

Then "Gramma" wanted me to talk to a guy back at the inn.  Then the guy at the inn wanted me to get some kelp so he could make an invisibility potion so the young lovers could sneak out.  And who keeps kelp?  Murlocs.  Also not pushovers.

Oh, and here's some fascinating news about magic that no one told me.  Magic can't be cast without a  wand.  So I had this billy club I'd picked up in the forest, and was hoping it would make a better weapon and I sold my "long lost" wand.  But apparently I need it to do anything.  So I got into a nice desperate situation when whatever I tried failed miserably.

I got the kelp, got the potion, gave it to Maybell and she disappeared.  Couldn't have happened to a finer farm girl.   I can't wait to meet their seventeen lyre-pickin' babies.

--Caden Watkins

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day Fourteen

I am my own worst prophecy. Remember how I said my backpacks were filling up? Now it's at the point where I can't even hold a letter.

Staying in the Maclure house, I met Maybell Maclure. She wanted me to deliver a letter to Tommy Joe Stonefield of the rival Stonefield farm whom she's fallen in love with (ah, young love). I said sure, why not, I'm just the errand boy to the world. Don't make no never mind to me.

But I couldn't even keep the letter. It kept falling off the barrels of apples and pork meat in there. So I sheepishly had to say "Guess I better sell some of this off. Just one second." But I have no idea how to find a vendor who would buy things from me, not just sell things. It's not like they have a separate line for each.

In the meantime, while I was looking for some help I somehow got roped into doing more tasks for Dughan. He didn't even ask about Fargodeep mine. (By the way, this was after another citizen told me to talk to Dughan, like I'm a messenger boy too). He just wanted me to wander off west to a bridge to ask some more guards about more monsters in the area. But this time he offered up his Stormwind charger. Before I could ask what a charger was, he'd set me on it (it was a horse) and I was zipping off.

At the bridge, I asked some questions of the guards and got even MORE tasks on my plate -- go find an arsonist/murderer, protect the forest from bears and wolves, fetch some murloc fins, find some lost guards. I politely told them, much as I wanted to do all this, I still had some lingering tasks back in the Elwynn forest. Except that the horse that brought me here (and it was a long way, and I've been doing a lot of walking lately) was no where to be found.

Then I remembered I had the hearthstone from the Lion's Pride Inn. Farley said it could bring me back any time I wanted, so I started rubbing it, looking ridiculous. But it worked.

--Caden Watkins

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day Thirteen - Southern Elwynn Forest farms

I went through my inventory and realized I have quite a lot of junk.  Well, not junk, but things I've picked up from the few scrabbling animals I've killed.  Shed furs from worgs and the like.  What I'm wondering is what do I do with those.  Is there someone I can sell them to?  I haven't found anyone in Goldshire wanting to accept them yet.  But I could use the money.
A kobold.  They smell as attractive as they look.

I started heading south.  I thought maybe it was time to actually start performing my duties as an acting deputy of Stormwind.  Mostly fields.  Then I headed toward a lake and saw a weird humanoid.  At first I thought he was a lizard man, but then I thought "oh, THIS is a kobold".  They're more like rats or moles.  They look like they're miners, with pick-axes and candles on their heads.  They're ugly enough that no wonder Dughan needed someone to come investigate.  They'd all run away.

Well, these ones don't run away.  In fact, they're quite happy to come up to you and start swinging.  They're not pushovers like the Blackrock clan orcs or goblins.  Must be hearty from all that mining.  And fire-resistant if they've got candles on their heads.  Then I wandered on one's den, up on a hill.  He was cooking and counting out gold... bottles or something.  And he jumped on me.  Almost would have fallen if I hadn't remembered the new spell I learned.  Instead of a shadow word, this is a power word : shield.

And it is extremely effective.  I didn't feel a thing while the spell was in effect, allowing me to take my time, no matter how many kobolds joined the fight (which one or two did).  As soon as I dispatched Goldtooth and recovered, I went back into the den to see if there were any valuables I missed.  And lo and behold, there was Goldtooth again.  I wish I could say I was surprised, but I wasn't.  I'm getting too accustomed to this waterwheel afterlife.  I hope that if I go back to my own home, I won't accidentally do something stupid, thinking I'm immortal.

The vineyards
Somewhere in this southern area is the Maclure Vineyards.  I was talking to the local vintner when a bear came up and started attacking me.  And he kept on talking!  Damn thing's slashing my face off and he's still jabbering about wine.  I'd say he was sampling his own wares, but doesn't anyone react in this place?  Am I a ghost?

I ran inside the cabin to escape it, thinking I'd be safe, and it followed me in!  It still kept attacking me!  Shouldn't there be safeguards against this sort of thing?  It's not I like baited it in or anything.

--Caden Watkins

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day Twelve - Goldshire

Argus accepted his delivery gracefully, but I had been away so long that I felt I had to avoid Marshal Dughan's gaze.  I kept my head down or snuck around back buildings to avoid him, because I still hadn't even started investigating the Fargodeep mine for Kobolds (still don't know what they are).  There were other things I needed to do first, like basic survival tactics such as learning first aid.

Hard part was finding the one who teaches that sort of thing.  There are people in Goldshire who teach you to fish, to cook, to hunt, to smith weapons, to smith armor, to make jewels, tan leather, engineer things, enchant things, alcheme things (wouldn't that be a trip -- come back knowing as much as my alchemist friend).  But I couldn't find the person who taught it -- she was in the upper floor of the inn.  But I had to search the town, talk to a dozen other trainers, WHILE it was raining.

Then the great thing was all I learned was how to make a linen bandage for the first lesson.  Money well spent -- a trained monkey can make a cloth bandage.

--Caden Watkins

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day Eleven

Kicked awake by some Stormwind guards.  I used to admire those guys at Northshire Abbey.  Now, let 'em burn in the vineyards for all I care.

Okay, that's not fair, but still.  I hate this city.

My breakfast was some bread I bought from a wandering baker in Goldshire, turned stiff and tasteless.  And what kind of profession is "wandering bread seller" anyway?  After this morning, I decided the only way to find the winery was the same way I learned to navigate a maze.  Put your left hand on the wall and start walking.

I traveled around Cathedral Square, found the Command Center, explored lots of canals.  And then I found a sign with grapes on it.  Hot damn, I thought.  Then I went in and... it was a different place.  A wine bar called the Shady Lady.  Took all my restraint not to go apeshit on the place.  Made me wish I was a mage, set the place on fire.  Would have gone up quick from all the fumes from the winos.

Then finally, FINALLY found the Gallina Winery.  I shoved the ticket in her face, and she gave me a small bottle of pinot noir.  I wanted to take it into a back alley and drink it all, but I figured I still had to deliver the armor back to Argus.  Wouldn't do much for my reputation if I came back smelling of alcohol.

On my way back to the aerie, I passed two Stormwind guards.  That wouldn't bother me but one was sitting on a horse.  She was selling Stormwind Tabards, which seemed weird to me.  It was like "there's merchandising for the city?"  Like gift shops in tourism places.  I shook my head no.  Last thing I want is to be reminded of this place.  Unfortunately, I doubt this will be the last time I'm here.

--Caden Watkins

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day Ten, Part Two - Stormwind

I would be very curious about the history of this city. It's so dense, there are shops everywhere.  Every building is made of the same granite brick, and there are shops upon shops.  But the construction of the city was not as bizarre as their people.

As soon as I landed, a man riding a giant dragon/gryphon thing flew past me.  Just flew past me and no one batted an eye.  There were people on fire dragons, invisible wolves, orbs circling people.  One person rode around on a flying disk.  Birds made out of light.  Knights in giant glowing armor.  Walking pandas.  Mechanical men.  Elves with glowing yellow eyes.  A dwarf with a rotating dish on its head who wouldn't talk to me.  Something called a Blingtron 4000 that was maybe a man in armor, but maybe a robot?  It gave me a package for no reason.  I haven't even opened it yet, I've been too dizzy from what I'm seeing.

This man brought a flying eagle into a bank
I passed by a vendor who gave me a free ticket for some wine if I visited the Gallina Winery.  I thought, sure, I'll take a free bottle of Pinot Noir.  The problem was that I couldn't find anything.  I'm not even sure how I found the armor shop I came here for in the first place.  The city's divided neatly into four or five districts, but how you get anywhere is a mystery.  There are criss-crossing paths, arches, buildings in your way.  I found myself almost walking out of the city a few times.  And I did have a map, but it doesn't tell you anything about routes.  I passed the bank three or four times.

When I went to the winery according to my map, there was an inn -- the Gilded Rose.  And the person inside wouldn't talk about anything but her inn.  Finally, I just started asking random people if they could help me find the Gallina Winery.  There was a huge crowd gathered in the square, looking for people to join their troupes for tasks and missions.  But no one would talk to me.  Not the people looking for groups, or residents.  Two elves, calling themselves Silverwing Emissaries, just stood there and ignored me.  I don't even know what they were emissaries for.  They just stared at me with their spooky yellow eyes.

I tried talking to individuals, people who looked like they'd help me.  No answers.  Just ignored me.  Then I got so angry I just yelled into the crowd.  And again, nothing.  Just people on their giant animals made of energy and lightning, standing there, being closed-mouth dicks.  I kept wandering and wandering and wandering, getting nowhere, going to the same old place.

This is just one district.  There are six.

Now, I'm sitting here under an awning, too tired to go on.  I keep going into the inn, as if I'm expecting it to change into the winery.  At this point I'm so angry at the inn for not being the winery I refuse to stay there.

This is a wolfman on top of a flying bird made from lava and rock 

This town is full of people, but not one will talk to me.  The world is full of people, but not one will give me the time of day.  I should have take Zurix up on his offer.  At least then I'd have a group to turn to, even if I'd have to stay in the forest and rob people.  At least then, I wouldn't be sleeping under the awning of a cheese shop tonight.

--Caden Watkins

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day Ten

Given that I'm now part of the Stormwind Marshals, I decided I better report to Marshal Dughan in the morning.  He looked at me quite strangely -- I guess the military is not as formal here.  Maybe they have poor communication with the ruling capital (which I'm not sure where it is, or even if this world has one.  I suppose there must be a king somewhere).  He actually told me that the "Fargodeep Mine" (wonder who named that) is riddled with Kobolds (again, what is a kobold?)  All he wants me to do is explore the mine and confirm the reports.

But before I found where that was I got stopped by the Blacksmith (Argus is his name) who asked me to get some armor from a shop in Stormwind.  I didn't feel like I was ready to tackle a big city, but I felt obligated.  Smith kinship, I guess (smithship?)  And he gave me a note to give to the "gryphon master".

I saw this guy before.  He was caretaking a corner behind the forge with gryphon nests.  Real gryphons.  And he had quite the trippy outfit.  I gave him the note, and he said he'd provide me with a gryphon to take to Stormwind.  Half of me was like, no way, not ready for this.  And the other half was like "Hell, yeah, I'll ride a gryphon".  Of course, I had no idea how, but that hardly mattered.  The gryphon needed no commands.  It was like sitting on a wide horse.  Of course, flying was hard to get over, but I managed.

It dropped me off in Stormwind's aerie, and that's where I got my first taste of the big city.

--Caden Watkins

Friday, July 19, 2013

Day Nine - Goldshire

On my way out, I saw a poster on a tree for the Twinblades, again.  And that it was posted by GENERAL Zurix.  I was speaking to the general that day?  The leader?  Now I feel bad for brushing him off. I was probably lucky to get out of there with my intestines in place.  Actually, I still could be under threat.  Lots of bandits have that "if you're not with us, you're against us" mentality.

Quite a few corpses on the way to Goldshire too.  Not humans I think, either.  Big ones.  Elephantine.  Were they orcs maybe?  Despite being a healer, I'm not too familiar with anatomy.  Once a body's to the point where it's a skeleton, it's sort of beyond my expertise.

I never really got the chance to explore much of the town, and I'll explain why in a minute.  The first thing I saw was this giant house that looked like a working bellows.  I don't know how to describe it beyond that.  I'd never seen anything like it.  Of course, I was interested in the blacksmith.  He told me I could learn it as a profession and I almost jumped on him.  I love swords and weapons.  My parents were... well, not blacksmiths but weapon designers, I guess you could say.  They made the fancy hilts and gems for decorative or royal swords.

Marshal Dughan

When I finally found Dughan, he was between the shop and the inn.  Apparently, I didn't read all of the letter, because he said that I've been awarded "acting deputy" status with the Stormwind Marshals.  Holy cow.  I didn't even think I was that good.  Maybe they just need all the bodies they can get around here.  Or maybe they favor healers, and want to keep what they can.  I wonder what Dughan would think if I told him I had no idea who the Stormwind Marshals were, that I'd never met one, and I have no idea where they are.

After that I found the Lion's Pride Inn finally, and talked to Farley.  There are a few interesting people here, but I believe they're more concerned with warlocks and warriors.  Also, the assistant inn-keeper bears a striking family resemblance to the person who directed me here in the first place.

--Caden Watkins

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day Eight

The forest is crawling with thieves.  Cutpurses, I heard they're called.  I saw one wandering near a farmhouse.  So me, being the noble righteous person I am, approached.

Actually, I approached cause I thought he was the owner of the house and maybe he could help me.  Nope.  He came at me with a knife.  So I came at him with my RIGHTEOUS BRAND OF METED HONOR-JUSTICE.  Well, look.  It's one thing to kill worgs who pass by with hi and howdy.  This guy assaulted me, so I assaulted him right back.  And it's not like I really killed him, I think.

The farmhouse was owned by a woman named Donni Anthania.  She called herself a "crazy cat lady", but she was actually pretty young.  And pretty cute.  I wonder why she kept brandishing a giant meat cleaver, but I wasn't going to ask.

She offered to sell me a cat companion, but I had to say I didn't really need or could afford a cat right now, but I'd keep her in mind once I made my fortune.  I love cats.  I grew up in a farming village, so there were farm cats all over the place.  There's something about an animal that can look so cute, and then disembowel a mouse the next minute.

But she let me stay in her house for a night while I played with the cats.

--Caden Watkins

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day Seven - Elwynn Forest

I had to check with McBride the next morning to make sure I'd heard him correctly. Dismissed? The hard part was trying to keep my identity somewhat secretly, but my big concern was where do I go from here? I don't know the city, I don't know the laws. And if the hearsay has any truth to it, it sounds like venturing outside encampments is risky as hell.

I wish I had made some friends here. You'd think I would have -- battles and hard times make the closest of friends. But no. Barely a soul was willing to communicate me. Is it something about priests I don't know? Mages? No one would chat with me. And I tried. I really tried. I tried talking to people, starting conversations. Nope, nothing. Looks like I'm just going to walk out there and get killed by a tree with an axe or something.

Course, what I said to McBride was something like "Is there anything I can do for you when I'm out there?" I don't even know where "out there" is. I don't even know the name of it. But he said, yes, he did. In fact, he said that, since I had shown an interest in the security of Northshire, I was now "tasked with the protection of the surrounding Elwynn Forest" (at least I know the name of "out there" now).

I'm not sure where I showed an interest in security. But maybe it showed up in my attention to duty. Why is it I spent so long in academy trying to prove that to people, but here it takes a day? Anyway he gave me some papers to take to Marshal Dughan in Goldshire. And thankfully, he gave me some directions and a nice map of the region.

I packed up my meager belongings and headed out. Before I left I met a man near the fountain who gave me some advice on where to stay. He recommended the Lion's Pride Inn, so I'll probably make that my next target. So into the forest I go!

This was my first chance to try out my wand. I had shot it at trees and bushes a few times. It made some impressive sparkles, but not much else. Maybe its magic was filtered, only effective on live targets (I should put quotes around "live").

Then a forest spider wandered past, and I'm pretty sure giant tarantulas are fair game in any world. Man, that wand is useless. It's fast, but it does less damage than a paper cut, and it doesn't seem to enhance my magic power. After I found myself hurt badly by a freaking spider, I simply switched back to a staff.

I sat on the side of the road and applied some first aid. No one came by, so I decided to open the documents from McBride. There was no wax seal, and I figured I deserved it for the bupkiss I got from serving them as a recruit. All it said was "the activity of kobolds has decreased in Northshire Valley, thanks to the orcs". So what the hell is a kobold?

--Caden Watkins

Day Six, Part Two

Kurtok the Slayer, as I suppose he's known among his clan, was found to be responsible for the invasion into the Northshire Valley.  If he's the head of the Blackrock Clan or just this division, or he's a mercenary, I don't know.  But they told me to kill him, so there I was.  Wading across the river again, through the vineyards, and around the burning trees.  For some reason, I destroyed each orc I came across.  I smote them from a distance, then continued rampaging against them.  If I was quick enough, I could kill them before they were even within axe-swinging distance.

I don't know why I did this.  I think I'm still frustrated with what I experienced yesterday.  No one seems to acknowledge it.  Maybe I don't discriminate in my battles anymore, now that I know what's on the other side.  We're all just in timeout, until we can get back on the field.  all these orcs may be coming back.  And the scary part is, I think I proved myself right.

I finally found the corner of the mountains where Kurtok was standing.  Just standing, not planning strategy, not engaging in battle, not communicating with superiors.  Just standing there, in a gate.  So I did what any well-meaning suicidal healing mage would do, and cast my spells at him.  He reacted in the same rhino-like way as his brethren.  He approached me and started swinging.  But it was over in a matter of seconds.  I looked at his corpse on the ground, feeling disappointed.  Maybe I wanted him to kill me.  Maybe I wanted him to become my immortal enemy, where we would continue this dance of death for eternity.

As I was about to leave, I turned back and saw his form fade back in, to the exact place he was standing before.  Standing at the gate, watching, doing nothing.  I don't know if I could get anymore proof that we're all simply mid-level husks, floating back and forth of the line of life of death.  So...  I killed him again.  Effortlessly.  And before his body showed up a third time, I left.

I don't know if I've resolved my feelings about this.  I seem to be downpouring on a tremendous advantage -- who wouldn't want to be immortal.  But on the other hand, it feels like something's fundamentally changed about life.  As if everything I thought was truth was just a lie.

When I returned to Marshal McBride, he thanked me for my service, and offered me a wand as a reward.  Now this was a trip.  In my world, wands were only from fairy tales and storybooks.  It was a bizarre looking thing too, all gnarled and gray.  Then he told me I was dismissed.  I couldn't quite process that at the time, so I asked if I could stay in the abbey one more night.  He said I could stay as long as I liked.

--Caden Watkins

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day Six

Bad sleep.  Too much thinking.  Thinking about all the complications that this brings up.  Is everyone like this?  Is this a world of immortals?  If so, what does that mean?  Is that why everyone is so indifferent about the invading forces?  Is this all just a never-ending game to them?

Well, I suppose I should be grateful, because it sounds like the primary scuffling is wrapping up.  McBride assigned me to kill Kurtok the Slayer, whose supposed to be leading this battle.  I'll never understand this world.  Why send a healer out on a Saint Sitog mission? (St. Sitog = Stick the Sword in the Other Guy)  Is there no one else better suited?  Is everyone else busy or something?  Jeez.

Before I headed out, I explored a little bit more of camp.  I met Dermot Johns, the blacksmith for the abbey.  He didn't have much I could use or afford.  The rewards they've been giving me for completing tasks have been more than satisfactory in that regard.

Also, I met someone a man named Zurix on the road.  He said he was from a group called the "Twinblade Bandits".  They said they were a bandit army, which gave me pause.  I asked him if he meant an army of bandits, or an army fighting bandits, while I got ready to run.  He said the former.  For some reason, I didn't run.  Maybe because I was still within the eyesight of McBride and his company.  But what kind of world is this where bandits form their own army?  And roam free right in front of a church.

Fortunately, he clarified that they were more selective in their targets, specifically the Horde.  I still have to figure out what kind of races are part of the Horde, so that I don't end up on the wrong side of a blade.  And that they were kind of a "local defense for the forest".  Not to mention he wanted me to join them.  Me, a bandit?  Seriously?  I politely declined, mostly for the fact that I've not even been in the world for a week.  He seemed quite friendly though.  You know, for a bandit.

I told him I wouldn't feel right abandoning the invasion.  He said they had everything well-in-hand, but A) of course he'd say that B) I have an overdeveloped sense of moral responsibility.  Sometimes, I think I am meant to be a healer.

--Caden Watkins

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day Five, Part 2

Something happened today which made me question... well, a lot. Why I'm here. What this world is. What it means for me. For everyone. Maybe if I explain what happened, it would make more sense.

I took the fire extinguisher across the river and began putting out fires. For the most part, I avoided engaging any orcs when I could. But perhaps I had grown overconfident with these black magic spells. I felt too powerful.

One was close to a patch of flames I had in my sights. Rather than chance his ignorance, I sprayed him with a quick shot, then followed up with the shadow word. As he reached me, I used "smite". But then another joined, coming up from behind where I didn't see him. He didn't get the drop on me, but now it was a two-on-one fight, and I knew no amount of black magic would stop against the swords going into my side. I tried to run, but they kept hacking at me. One got a lucky shot in my back, right up my armor plate, and I went down. The sooty darkness started to brighten, I can't explain what I saw. But I got the sense that I was becoming lighter, or light-headed. Everything felt peaceful.

And then I was in the graveyard. The same one adjacent to the abbey. At first I thought someone carried me there, and what an unusual place that was to administer medical treatment. But the world was different. Lighter, but darker. Washed out. Ethereal. I can't describe it, much as I try. It was like I couldn't just see things, but sense them too. Like putting a hand on a guitar string and feeling someone pluck it. The only thing I could think of was that I had become a ghost.

I became gripped with panic. When I was a child I had a fear that death was never real. That we are all souls trapped in our bodies, and when our bodies fail, we just can't respond. So when we bury the dead we spend eternity in a box, staring into darkness. With nothing but our mind and memories. Then I realized I could move.

At the entrance to the graveyard hovered a giant floating woman with feathered wings. Her complexion was washed out too, like a living statue. Not quite dead and not quite alive. Like an aged tree. Something that simply exists.

Even though I could move, I stayed riveted to my spot, too scared to leave or even attempt to do something material. The floating woman, who I come to think of as a guardian of the dead, whispered into my mind. She told me I had two options. I could be healed, or I could seek my corpse. When she said that I thought "My corpse? I have a corpse?" I supposed my curiosity got the better of me, morbid as it is for a priest/healer. I followed the same path, through the trees and wading through the river. The stream felt wet, but not in a wetting way. Again, hard to describe.

I followed the landmarks and there, before me, lay the bones of my body, crumpled up and charred. Then just I realized what I was looking at, the world faded back into color. Into the material realm. The fire extinguisher was still on my back. It was like nothing had happened. But I knew it had because the skeleton was still right in front of me.

Not knowing what else to do, I quenched the remaining fires in a daze, and returned the device to Milly. She gave me a few closing words, told me that the although the land was incinerated she still might be able to recover. "Right? How bad could it be?" I mumbled some response. Something about those words and the death/near-death I had just gone through opened my eyes quite a bit. I couldn't take any more for the day, and I wandered back to the common room, hoping to avoid the gaze of McBride lest he task me with something, and fell asleep.

--Caden Watkins

Day Five

Milly - a good sturdy girl
Just a quick note to say I talked to her this morning.  Her name's Milly Osworth, she owns the vineyard (like I thought).  They're all she has (she seemed more stalwart this morning).  She wanted my help to douse the flames and handed me a "fire extinguisher".  It's a weird device with two tanks of concentrated water that you wear like a backpack full of concentrated water.  Then you shoot the water out with a stick/wand.  Must be alchemist-made.

I have an alchemist friend that would love to get her hands on this.

The blackrock clan is still wandering around, so I'll have to be careful to avoid them, but my magic is growing stronger each day.  I tried my slashing attack (I named it "smite", seemed appropriate) on a training dummy and then a worg.  Eviscerated in one or two hits.

She said something about the "cataclysm" opening a path to the burning steppes, and that's where the orcs are entering.  I wonder if the military knows that.  Just making a note here on that to follow up later.

--Caden Watkins

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day Four

Bad night's sleep.  Feeling terrible.  I wonder how much longer I have to stay here, but I really don't know when I could leave.  I'd feel bad about leaving before the invasion is fully contained, and I don't have much money, or much knowledge about the land.  I guess I keep staying here until I feel ready to move on.

McBride told me to meet Willem behind the abbey.  He'd set up a small post with a wagon or two, and the dude had the fanciest armor I'd ever seen.  Giant gold shoulder pads with wings, like eagles perched on his shoulders.  Guy's not one for subtlety.

Willem the Fancy

He told me about some goblin assassins the orcs had hired.  And, of course, wanted me to take out as many as I could.  They were like miniature orcs.  A little more skilled, but still fodder as my skills have been growing.  After I killed eight of them, he sent me back to McBride who, with no hesitation, sent me over to the vineyard.  Finally, I thought.  The thing's only been burning for three days straight.  It's like a mini-war zone over there.

Goblin assassin

For some reason, McBride told me he wanted eight orc weapons, just to prove I had done my duty.  I have no idea where this sudden mistrust came from.  Did he think I was lying about the slaughter I was racking up?  I had plenty of witnesses.  Did he think I was ducking back behind the tree for a smoke of sicar and coming back saying "oh, yeah, got them all, no problem."  Come evening, I trudged back across the river with eight heavy swords on my back.  A volunteer's work is never done, I suppose.  I'm looking forward to the reinforcements, if they ever come.

Before I went back into my spot of the common room (giving McBride the stinkeye), I noticed a woman crying near the entrance, looking longingly across the river.  Scuttlebutt in the commons told me she was the owner of the vineyards, now up in smoke.  I felt like I should've gone out to talk to her, I felt bad that I was being ordered to quell all this mischief, I forgot real people were being affect.  But I was too exhausted to continue.

--Caden Watkins

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day Three

Finally, it looks like I might be making progress on actual magic training. McBride told me he got a letter from Priestess Anetta, who wants to see me. Finally, maybe I'll find out what I was sent here for. I'm not sure about their healing magic being tied to religious worship. That worries me. I'm not religious myself, and even though all the religious people I knew back home were nice, I'm worried about zealotry. I don't expect any "bathing in blood" rituals, but sometimes the ones bathed in holy light and goodness can be worse than those who perceive what they really are.

Priestess Anetta was on the second floor of the abbey, past all the bookshelves. (There are a ton of books in this place. If that vineyard fire spreads over here, this place is going to go up like a trash fire). She gave me a prayer book of spells, and one was already in it. It was under the heading "Shadow Words" and called "pain". I thought, another black magic spell? Another spell to harm people? Somebody was bad at naming magic here. Who does what in this world? Do the mages have healing spells? The alchemists get swords? I'm sure it works for them, it just boggles my mind.

After she gave me the spell, she told me to practice it on the straw dummies outside. I tried, but who knows if it did any good -- scarecrows don't feel pain. A woman with two daggers was practicing at the same time. I tried saying hi to her, but she brushed me off. You'd think new recruits would be looking for socialization, but I've been having the damnedest time making any new acquaintances.

After that, McBride was busy. I guess they were doing fine on containment. So I explored a little of the abbey and the surrounding area. I found out there are other trainers here as well, for other magic-users. Two of them were standing in the graveyard, and they seemed to tolerate me, but had nothing to say. Good to know some things never change.

--Caden Watkins

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day Two

In the morning, the soldiers were still fighting worgs outside. It must be taking its toll on moral, but they seem to have plenty of capable volunteers to rotate in. I rarely see the same face twice.

Breakfast was a plate of warm grits and water. I don't expect much from a makeshift outpost, but I hope the food gets better once the invasion's quelled. I'd hate to be thrown into a different dimension and this is their idea of fine dining.

Socializing hasn't been very successful. There are some recruitment soldiers at a table outside, lieutenants wandering around the grounds. They say hi and "King's Honor", but I can't get any information from them. I'd say they were too busy to talk, but they're not. The soldiers have the fight contained. Other recruits are just as taciturn. I tried striking a conversation with someone who had the same robes as me, asked if he was a hælmancer too. He said he was a mage, then just walked off.

I found McBride again. Instead of going back to killing worgs, like I thought he'd do, he told me about the spies seen wandering around the grounds. I guess they're not as incompetent as I thought they were. Well, I guess that's not fair. I don't know much about this world. Although I will say they don't have as much diversity as I'm used to. It also might explain why they're sending a healer out to perform the tasks of a warrior. They must be overstocked on people like me. If only the guys at home could see me now.

Destroying the spies wasn't too difficult. They were always focused on their targets, never on me. So I could destroy them from long range. Taking a life feels different than restoring one (obviously), but I really felt no compunctions about it. Maybe because these orcs seem more animal than man.

As a reward, McBride gave me a nifty new robe, colored in green. I was thankful for that -- I am so sick of white.

One more thing, while I was in the east on my hunt, I saw a fire across the river in a vineyard. Blackrock warriors were setting fires where others had been quenched by recruits. That made me wonder what kind of attackers we were dealing with. A vineyard's not a very strategic holding. What was these orcs' purpose here? Just marauding and trouble-making? They hide in broad daylight, they set fire to land. If this is an example of their battle prowess, I'm not sure why the Alliance is so worried about maintaining their holdings. Unless there are bigger threats I don't know about.

--Caden Watkins