Herstory – The Women of the Scarlet Crusade

I’ve always had a a thing for the Scarlet Crusade, probably for the same reason I have a Templar crush in Dragon Age and so when I was collecting the Teleport: Dalaran Crater spell on my Mage, something occurred to me.

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Of all these statues, three of them represent women. None of those women are mentioned anywhere else in game and all we know about them is what is contained on the tiny plaques beneath their stony feet.

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So I was thinking, following on the from the fun I had when Matty challenged me to write a backstory for Rona Greenteeth, would anyone like to join me in creating a slightly more fleshed out story for these clearly interesting sounding women?

If they are worth a lore question on the Timeless Isle, then surely they deserve more than a few lines of text.

Storytime: Rona Greenteeth

A few days ago Matty challenged me, the idea being that we would both write a back story for Rona Greenteeth. Her take on one of the Darkmoon Faire’s more interesting characters can be found here. Mine is below:

“And that’s how I wound up here”, the Nightelf paused, taking another mouthful of cheap beer. Her silvered eyes glittered like searchlights as she raked the rest of the group with her gaze, “come on, cowards, who is next?” No one moved, arms clasped around knees, faces impassive in the shadows, the motley collection of orphans and thieves which comprised the company of the Darkmoon Faire sat in silence. “Rona…. what about you, come closer to the fire and tell us your story”. Caught just outside the circle of bodies, the Undead froze. Scenting safety in numbers, the rest turned, encouraging, pulling her towards the firelight.

“I don’t know what to say. I don’t have a story… I don’t have a life outside the Faire”.

“Start at the beginning”, the Nightelf said, her voice tinged with mockery, “Here, I’ll begin for you…. Once upon a time there was a little girl called Rona”, her voice trailed off leaving a pause filled by nothing but the crackle of the burning logs and faint hiss of glowflies.

“Once upon a time there was a little girl called Rona who lived by a pond with her mother and sister. Every night, we’d come home from school and lie in the moonlight, our fingers trailing through the water. Distorting the reflections, rippling them til they looked three weeks drowned. Jenny, my sister, she loved the water even more than I did. It was almost impossible to tell what was waterweeds and what was her long hair streaming through the glistening and glittering water”. Rona sighed, her mind drifting back through the long damp years. “When we hit 12 or so, everything changed. I wanted to spend time with my friends, not to suffocate in the weeds and water with just my mother and my sister for company. Jenny though, she got more and more obsessed with the pond. Said it talked to her, promised her things, wanted things. It’s weeds were like fingers, always touching, always prodding. We managed though, we were a family at least …. until the children started to go missing”.

“Oh no, you can’t stop there. It’s starting to get interesting”.

“I’ll tell it at my pace or not at all”, Rona straightened her bony back and took the proffered bottle. “That summer was a frightening one. No more drifting home from school across the fields, no more lingering in the lanes or dawdling beneath the laden apple trees. They talked of monsters who walked the roads disguised as men and of things which are not quite as they appear to be. They planted briarthorn to keep away evil and hung wreaths of flowering garlic above the lintels and yet still the children vanished. My friend Lucy, she was the last to go missing. Lucy with her red plaits and easy grin, freckles melting into freckles. One minute she was there, laughing, her scarlet satchel swinging behind her and next …. nothing at all. Just an empty space. With hindsight though, I think I always knew. They’d almost got it right with their talk of disguises and masks. When you stare into a mirror whether that’s glass or freezing water, that’s not quite your face you see. It’s altered, subtly perhaps but still we see what we want to see. The good sister, the gentle sister, not what lurks underneath like weeds ready to drown you in the cold truth”.

Rona bit her lip and took a gulp of the burning liquid. “I couldn’t sleep the night Lucy disappeared. I tossed and turned for what seemed like hours but the air was thick, suffocating. I needed fresh air, a cool breeze on my face, to run my fingers through the pond water. Lying in the bullrushes, I heard them arguing. My mother berating Jenny, telling her to control herself, to be reasonable rather than choosing those too close to home. Jenny, yelling back, telling her that the waters couldn’t be denied. All to a soft soundtrack of lapping water. Peeking through the weeds, I saw them carrying a satchel back into the house and in that moment, my childhood sank in those black waters”.

The fire had burnt low, bodies were huddled closer now both for warmth and to ensure they heard every word.

“What I did next, I’ve regretted ever since. I had to know you see. I dived down into the depths, to where the weeds twisted like hangman’s ropes and even the fish darted in shoals rather than linger alone. I found her, laid out like a Queen. A coronet of sweet reed grass twisted in her hair and a bridal bouquet of stranglekelp clasped in her cold dead hands. She wasn’t alone though, oh, no my best friend Lucy would never be alone again, guarded as she was by six skeletons, one for each of the other missing children, their bones picked white by passing fish and water rats. Anger grasped at my heart with it’s long bony fingers, powering me through the water and then speeding me through the lanes to the town, barefoot and soaking in my heavy gown. At first they didn’t understand. Evil isn’t the neighbour, the girl you taught to read doesn’t steal your child away, the woman who makes your winter coat isn’t a murderess but truth is like a stone, it has a habit of shattering the accepted into tiny fragments, which when put back together show not the reflection but the reality.”

A sigh ran through the ensembled group.

“They burnt them, my mother and sister both. There by the pond and with each gust through the trees, the wind sounded like children laughing.”

Rona’s last words were punctuated by the fire breathing it’s last and as she stopped talking, the embers glowed red once before collapsing into black dust. “Oh no you don’t. What happened next?”, the Nightelf’s tone was indignant. “I told the whole story, an entire skeleton from my cupboard if you will, not just a finger bone’s worth”. Rona gave what passed for a wintry smile, “Patience my dear, patience. I thought you Elves were meant to have that in spades. Tomorrow night perhaps, when the wolves howl in the forest and the fire burns hot like my sister’s pyre, then I’ll tell you what happened next”. With that, the old woman rose and walked back into the shadows, leaving her audience gazing open mouthed after her.

——————–

Perhaps there is more or maybe Rona is just the Undead version of Scheherazade, desperate not to be thrown to the worgs. Only time will tell.

Home Sweet Home

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Many moons ago, a Night Elf Priestess walked away from everything she valued, leaving broken friendships and the fragments of her faith behind. Tired from years of conflict, of campaigning against Old Gods and men warped by their desire for revenge, of seeing nothing but blood with only the background changing, blood against molten rock, blood against sand, blood against ice. That Tournament in Icecrown had been the final straw, jousting for position whilst Arthas carried on, his tyranny ignored. Slipping away had been easy, her mostly Human commanders trusted that like her sisters, she would be faithful until the end, her soothing magic blanketing them from danger and her whispered prayers bringing good fortune to the brave. It was easy too, to establish a routine which saw her needing to leave the safety of the camp at night, no one wanted to demonstrate their ignorance and question why Elune needed her Priestesses to climb mountains in the dark to pray.

Years passed and then, stopping one morning at market, she heard word of Theramore. Guilt and anger rose in equal measure, twisting around her heart. Memories of the walled city, fell jumbled and fragmented though her mind. That Human warrior’s fumbling attempts at kissing her in the Inn at Winter Veil, his mouth eager and tasting of hot spiced cider. Where had he been when his city burned? The nervous excitement in the days before the Onxyia campaign and the long nights she’d spent in the Mage Tower, talking to Pained about home. Those  lazy hours lounging on the docks, throwing sticks for Spot. Had the tall Night Elf with her wicked smile and the dog survived or were they nothing but dust on the marsh now?

Those twin blades of guilt and anger sliced through the last strands of her faith, leaving her an empty husk, wandering in self imposed darkness. Pandaria and it’s riches held no interest for her, instead her path took her to the marsh and the boneyard which was all that remained of Theramore. Laying flowers for the dead brought little succor to her soul but whilst shadowmelding to hide from soldiers come to pay their respects, she overheard talk of taking the war to Orgrimmar. Of a campaign to hunt down and drag Garrosh from his lair like the beast he was and the final piece of the puzzle fell into place. Coming back wouldn’t be easy, she knew that as she paid a passing Mage for a portal to Stormwind but then, one Priestess of Elune looks a lot like another to the untrained eye and should she be caught out, some prices even if extracted in blood and pain were well worth paying.

Yep, Erinys is back on the Alliance side! I’ve wanted it happen for a while now but couldn’t decide whether I was being sentimental or not. Unfortunately she’s not called Erinys any more but even so it’s good to be a Night Elf again.

Story Time – Blood Lust

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The day began like so many before it. Smoked string cheese smeared over sweet potato bread washed down with strong black coffee. Picking herbs in the frosty climate of Northrend requires a hearty breakfast to banish the wind’s icy bite. Wildberri left the comfort of the Inn with her sketchbook, pens and wicker basket tucked firmly under one arm. With luck she’d find that glut of gold clover the Borean Tundra was supposedly famous for, that fool’s gold which had lured so many into the frozen embrace of permanent winter.

The soft morning light passed into something brighter, but still the Shaman busied herself with samples and sketches. Afternoon rolled through into evening with the moon rising full and fat. Still she focused on her flowers until tired and satisfied, she filled her basket with fragrant blossoms, rolls of canvas detailing everything she’d seen and the uneaten lunch provided by the hostelry.

Heading back to the encampment, she paused, a familiar scent twisting on the air. Nostrils twitching, she tasted the coppery tang of blood drifting on the breeze. Closing her eyes, she let nature run it’s course. Hooves became paws, horns melted into ears and her purple skin became rough fur. Tail thumping on the previously precious goldclover, she breathed deep before bounding off following that intriguing smell.

Snout buried in still warm flesh, she felt the blood, sweet with a hint of spice pour into her mouth. The trail had led her to a fallen deer and some Orc still gloating at the kill. Driven into a frenzy by the thick red liquid and the raw ripped meat, she’d resorted to type and gone for the throat of the prey still breathing. Her fangs found his neck, that soft spot between helm and chest piece. All manners and civilities forgotten, she gorged herself  on green meat. Then she padded quietly down to the lake and watched the stars for a while before washing the blood from her fur.

The Draenei who rose from the reddish waters collected her belongings and started the journey back to the Keep. It was important after all, to remember who you are.

Dulcamara’s Story: Chapter 1 – Peacebloom

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Peacebloom

Found primarily in wide open spaces, Peacebloom looks beautiful but like many plants, hides a dark secret within. It’s roots and petals are poisonous unless correctly treated. According to the Botanists of the Kaldorai, this involves soaking in Moonwell water until all the impurities have been drawn out. Once prepared, it’s primary use is in poultices for flesh wounds although certain races also crush the leaves to make tonics to quicken the blood. Folklore has it that Peacebloom flowers more frequently on the site of old conflicts, fertilized by the blood of the fallen. It’s also come to signify seeking forgiveness for past actions and  new lovers often send fragrant bouquets of it’s heavy blossoms after petty quarrels, hoping that the blooms will bring peace to their relationship.

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It would have been easy to overlook the Night Elf, concealed as she was in the shade, still as a statue. On her lap balanced an open sketchpad and in her hand she clutched a pen. Long white hair loosely tied in a plait fell over one shoulder and her silvered eyes were narrowed in concentration. As far as she was concerned, the world began and ended with the plant in front of her, a huge clump of Peacebloom, it’s sickly sweet perfume scenting the air. On the paper, black lines took form, capturing the free flowing shape of it’s petals.

As she drew, she dreamed of the life she could have had. The botanist she could have been, had she chosen a different path. Remembering all the stories about the flora she had listened to as a girl, the tales twisted into being like plant roots, a mix of fact and fiction bringing together history and folklore. Perhaps now she’d have had some exotic plant named after her rather than being a burnt out and broken shadow of herself. “Deserter” rose on her tongue, it’s taste foul like poisonous berries only for her to dash it away, besides it implied a sense of motion, of running when in fact the opposite was true. Her sisters in the Sentinels knew exactly where to look, they just happened to be turning a blind eye. The Priestesses in the Temple had advised rest and relaxation in the short term at least, until she was patched together mentality as well as physically. The scar on her breastbone was healing nicely, knitted together by the very plant in front of her. The same however couldn’t be said for her mind.

Sunday Storytime: The Aftermath of Theramore

Just three little stories charting the reaction of my three very different Priests to the events of Theramore.

Night Elf

Twisting the soft shining fabric of her robes, the Nightelf Priestess lent against the Temple Garden walls. Eyes closed she tried to bring peace to her turbulent thoughts. Every time she felt she was winning the battle, pushing her unchecked emotions back into the pool of her subconscious, the image of a dark blue haired elf rose like a drowning woman, gasping for air and vengeance. As a tide of rage washed over the Priestess, her magic rose to answer it’s song and for a moment everything felt right. Then opening her eyes, she glanced down to see instead of the familiar golden light bathing her hands, ribbons of shadows twisting around them. For the first time in her long life, fear enveloped her in it’s dark embrace. An alien emotion, it sat smugly on her tongue like a toad, poisoning her mind. She could taste it’s sourness every time she swallowed and in response, the shadows weaved around her like a shroud.

Forsaken

The heat of Orgrimmar was just as oppressive as it’s walls, rich red sand coated everything and turned even the finest food to ashes on your tongue. Not that particular issue was a problem to  the Forsaken Priest surveying the city from her vantage point by the waterfall, watching the Orcs below as if they were ants on the dust. Stretching her aching bones, she moved to the shade, Garrosh was keeping them waiting on purpose, probably hoping the sun and the implied insults would push their tongues over the edge. He had a lot to learn, no one does patience like the dead. In dark crypts and in dusty coffins it pays to turn a blind eye to the passing of time, no point in measuring it out in cobwebs or decaying flesh. Hearing heavy footsteps, she looked up to see her escort heading her way, clearly it was time. Wrapping her long dark cloak around her boney shoulders, the Priest acknowledged their salutes and stalked towards her meeting with the Warchief. Once a soldier, always a soldier and for a brief second imagining the conflict to come, she felt almost alive again.

Gnome

Scurrying through the Mage quarter, wrapped in her heavy cloak, the Gnome slid from shadow to shadow, drawing no attention. Past the increased military patrols and past the gossiping Mages sitting outside the Blue Recluse she hurried. Up the winding staircase she ran, stopping only in the safety of her own little apartment on the top floor. It was only then, in private as she unwrapped herself from the woolly cloak, discarding her gloves and scarf that she allowed herself to weep. Spilling hot salty tears for those considered friends now nothing more than dust in the wind. Poor Cassa Crimsonwing who had wanted nothing more than to fly with her gryphons and Spot, whose excited barking would no longer echo through the stone passage ways of Theramore Keep. Eyes red and sore from crying, she started to collect her bits and pieces. Spell books, herbs, warm clothes, cool clothes, dried Heaven Peaches from Darnassus and a jar of pickled eggs all disappeared into the travelling bag. Throwing her tiny green ragdoll on top, the Gnome proceeded to bounce up and down on the case until protestingly it shut. Justice and revenge, when it comes down to it, they’re sisters under the skin and in that moment, Sprout didn’t care which she got.

A rare thing: Humar the Pridelord

This is for Euphyley over at WoW Rare Spawns who is celebrating her first blogging anniversary.

My favourite rare spawn in game is this fellow here, Humar the Pridelord.

Way back in vanilla, my husband started playing a hunter as an alt with the eventual intention of making it his main for a period. As he levelled he started looking around on the internet, researching pets and looking for interesting ones to tame. That search took us to Petopia amongst other places and in the end lead to the Barrens. As a low level Night Elf hunter on a Horde heavy pvp server this was not an easy plan, however he persevered and was rewarded by a loyal companion who kept him company for a long time. Then when I came to make a hunter of my own, I followed in his footsteps, running from Theramore up into the Barrens to tame my very own Pridelord.

There was however a problem, back then levelling pets was horribly painful and because certain pets had different attack speeds, sometimes you just had to let go… a process which always left me feeling devastated.

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The hunter and her shadow, a huge black feline slid through the forests of Ashenvale, instinctively keeping to the shade. Their passage was silent, paws and feet making no noise as they glided over twigs and heaps of dead leaves. As they neared the border with the Barrens, the Night Elf slowed her pace, her unease translating itself to her companion. The cat whined softly, rubbing his head against her leg. “Sshh”, she reached down and stroked his thick fur, “almost there boy, almost there”. In reply, he licked her hand, his tongue rough as bark.

They picked their moment, waiting until the Orcs guarding the rampant were distracted by a party of young Trolls, arrogant and brash on their first trip to Ashenvale. Moving in tandem like a well oiled machine, they worked their way deeper and deeper into enemy territory. The cat scouted ahead whilst the Elf shadowmelded beneath the heavy squat trees. Had any eyes seen them, it would have been clear that this was an old familiar pattern.

On a hill over looking the Crossroads, they stopped for food and to gather their strength for what was to come. Thick steaks for the cat, donated by a dinosaur whose curiosity had done him no favours and dumplings from home for the hunter. After they ate, they stretched out and gazed down at the busy town beneath them.  “Remember all the fun we had here boy?”. The cat purred, rubbing his head against her. “Hunting all those cowardly Horde. There was that warrior, the Troll, we chased her half way to Orgrimmar didn’t we”. He growled, showing a touch of fang and she smiled, patting him. “You liked the taste of Troll didn’t you boy”. The two of them lay in companionable silence, reliving their glory days, as they stalked living prey across the barren landscape of their memories.

As dusk fell, an observant watcher would have seen two moving shadows drifting towards Ratchet. A hunter, her violet skin and height marking her as a Night Elf walking lightly in the pawprints of a large black cat who ran a little ahead, turning back every minute or so to make sure she was still there. As they covered the dusty ground, the hunter’s thoughts returned to the first time she had followed this path. That nervousness in the pit of her stomach, the tension in her grip on her bow, both feelings she had thought were long gone came swimming up from the dark depths of her memories. Sensing her distress, the cat paused for a second, licking her hand to reassure her.

Just above the Goblin settlement of Ratchet, they came a halt, pausing to listen to the sounds of drunken partying mingling with the drunken yells of the dock workers loading ships for Booty Bay. Closing her eyes for a moment, the hunter let her thoughts drift back to the days when she too had frequented those parties, waking up to a throbbing headache, foreign sheets and the golden eyes of her cat, regarding her and her new friends expressionlessly as he guarded her belongings from quick fingered thieves.

“Almost there boy, almost home”. The cat whined in agreement and led the way, past gnarled and twisted trees, their thick branches providing the only shade and through thick grasses which cut at your legs, flicking back like whips. Before she realised it, they were back at that spot, the right place under the right tree. Sitting down, their backs to the broad trunk she tried to put her thoughts in order. Stroking his fur, she found herself gazing down at the white marring the thick black coat. In her head, the white hairs melted into snow and the temperature dropped as the parched earth grew a snowy blanket. Out of the shadows, the bridge at Dun Baldar crystallised into being. The acrid smell of gunfire caught the air, the heavy thud of war drums and the twang of her bow strings replaced the Goblin sea shanties but most importantly, the large feline shape at her side, the shadow which tied all these memories together bounded like a kitten through her subconscious.

Ragged breathing pulled her from the safety of the past, “it’s alright boy, you’re home now”, blinking back tears from her silver eyes, she held him close. She felt the last rough stroke of his tongue across her hand, one last goodbye before her friend slid into the realm of memories and dreams, leaving her alone beneath the open sky. Digging the grave was easy, leaving him in it, far harder. Looking down at her closest friend, so small and somehow diminished in death, she found herself cursing her race, condemned to keep leaving those she loved in the cold damp earth.

Walking away, followed by nothing but her own lengthening shadow, she wiped away her tears. Then before beginning her descent into Ratchet, to the tavern in which she intended to drink until all this was just a bad dream, she looked back. There in the half light, she saw him again, standing proud before the tree. A sea breeze caught the branches, shifting the light and revealing nothing but long grasses, shattering the mirage. “Goodbye old friend and good hunting”, raising her hand in farewell, the hunter, her heart breaking headed into town alone.

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Now of course, it’s a different story as all my hunters have more than enough room to house him. That emotional bond with my virtual pets is just as strong however, the one thing guaranteed to make me mad in pvp is to persecute my pet. You can /spit spam me until I’m drenched or laugh at me until you cry and you won’t get a reaction. Hurt my pet though and you better be ready to die, over and over again.

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