Mentzelia’s Harvest Witch Transmogrification

Most characters need a sense of identity for me to be able to play them beyond the start levels, without a sense of their hopes and dreams, their hobbies and hates, I tend to abandon them. My Worgen Druid had the opposite problem. I had a clear personality and history in my head, I knew what she looked like both before the bite and after but I couldn’t quite get my head around the sniffles and the vacant puppy look from the front teamed with rabid, rolling eyes and fangs from the side. Thanks in part to Mr Harpy’s decision to level a new warrior rather than transfer his existing one, plus the fun which is running dungeons at the correct level with just two people, Mentzelia has managed to make it to level 82 and Deepholm.

I come from a long line of green fingered gardeners, unfortunately I don’t seem to have inherited it as the only things I seem to be able to grow are herbs and cacti but because of that, the idea of the Harvest Witch took root in fertile ground. Even before she was attacked, she preferred solitude, wandering from village to village helping farmers with their crops for a bed and a good meal, throwing in a fortune telling by the fire. Now she finds the company of Humans uncomfortable, knowing she holds a mirror up for them, showing what might come to pass. That said, she still pursues the life she knew before, traveling from farm to farm, homestead to homestead, helping where she can, her crow and her cards her only necessities. There is a practicality about her, dark clothing to hide the mud and the blood. When you walk the borderlands between life and death, it’s not just your green fingers people pay for, but birthing skills both livestock and children.

She’s drawn to the spaces in between, hedgerows, hollows, glades inside forests, the places where most people quicken their pace and glance backwards not sure what they’re looking for but glad it’s not in view. The scythe serves two purposes, the reaping of crops done properly with skills handed down from generation to generation but also it symbolizes the acceptance that death is merely apart of the circle. We all live and then we die, our blood and bones serving to fertilize the earth.

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When needs must and she has to visit Stormwind, she spends as much time as possible lingering amongst the dead. Reading the cards in the shade or conjuring flowers on the graves of the forgotten, her crow watching from a headstone or perched on a branch.

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  • Shoulders: Cured Mammoth Hide Mantle
  • Chest: Acid Eaten Vest
  • Scythe: Battle Scythe
  • Gloves: Riplash Gloves
  • Belt: Yojamba belt of the Wave Crest

Gilneas is her true home though and she spends far too much time wandering the ruins remembering the life she had before it was all ripped away. Visiting the farms, now deserted or deep underwater where she learnt her craft at her Grandmother’s knee. The rose bushes she helped cultivate to help a local lad snare his heart’s desire are along gone, even magic can’t defeat salt water but the memories of them, their petals red as blood remain. Those trips to the marshlands to obtain herbs for fevers and climbing cliffs for hardy plants clinging by a root to the rock face, these are all memories which belong to another, to the woman she was before someone made her a wolf. Control can be learnt, the ability to twist her body in foreign shapes well that came naturally enough especially when practised under cool and calming Nightelf eyes, when your normal state is somewhere between a Wolf and Human, becoming a whole cat, a whole bear, a whole stormcrow, that’s easy. It’s the borderlands, the in-betweens, the shades of grey where the danger lies, not wolf, not Human but Worgen.

Gilneas too reminds her of the dark days before they “cured” her, when she was nothing but her instincts, the need to hunt twisted and made pleasurable by that undercurrent of cruelty which lies buried deep in most. Now, those instincts are suppressed… unless they run as that suggests the chase, suggests prey and sinking your snout deep into gushing blood, tasting the iron tang on your tongue and knowing that what you’re lapping up is life itself. She knows that many of her kind avoid their birth place like the plague, not wanting to be reminded of what they did, of what they became before Krennan Aranas managed to reign in the sanguine darkness but that’s why Mentzelia makes her pilgrimages. That basic understanding, that need to remember who we are and what we are capable of is crucial to both the people of Gilneas and also to the Witches of the Harvest, spells whispered once in secret, passed down from mother to daughter can now be voiced aloud but the message underlying the song murmurs never forget and never drop your guard.

If I ever get around to transferring my sketches for a Warcraft Tarot set from scraps of paper into real cards, the Harvest Witch would I think be the the Hermit, with the rocky cliffs of Gilneas behind her and one of those wonderful orange lamps in her hand.

Solstice Challenge: Days 10, 11 & 12

Twenty-One Days, starting today, December 1, of things in Azeroth of Light Screenshots, from now until December 21. This works for both sides of the equator, seeing how we’re getting darker days in the North, the South is getting lighter. The only hitch I will add is you have to add a caption or haiku to your screenshot.
The topic/theme is light, and all its incarnations.

Day 10
firelight

The fire roared up in the grate and the candlewicks caught flame. The portraits blinked in weary surprise as a cold draft blew in. Shadows stirred, sliding across the walls, all for a closer look at the visitor.

Day 11

candlelight
They are the last romantics, these candles:
Upside-down hearts of light tipping wax fingers,
And the fingers, taken in by their own haloes,
Grown milky, almost clear, like the bodies of saints.

Sylvia Plath

Gilneas pulls on my imagination more than most areas, I find myself drawn like a ghost to wander it’s empty moors and deserted towns. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s the graveyard with it’s monuments and crimson roses, petals bleeding across the stones where I spend most of my time.

Day 12
sealight

In sea-cold Lyonesse,
When the Sabbath eve shafts down
On the roofs, walls, belfries
Of the foundered town,
The Nereids pluck their lyres
Where the green translucency beats,
And with motionless eyes at gaze
Make ministrely in the streets.

Walter de la Mare

The Reason for the Season – All Hallows Eve and the Day of the Dead

It’s that time of year again when autumn starts to bleed into winter, when the nights get longer and the damp foggy air smells of apples and burning wood. I’ve always been a Halloween girl, addicted to scary stories and tales about things which go bump in the night so I suppose it comes as no surprise that Hallows End and the Day of the Dead are my favourite WoW festivals of all.

Long before I played WoW, I learned all about the rituals of both albeit from two completely different sources. All Hallows Eve from family, time spent in the garden learning how to twist a handful of plants into a “wickerman” as well as ghost stories around the fire and pumpkin carving, the candles kept burning until morning. My knowledge of the Day of the Dead came from backpacking across Mexico armed with a dog eared Spanish dictionary and bucketfuls of curiosity. We spent the Day of the Dead at Teotihuacan before returning to a Puebla lit by candles and full of marigolds.

Hallows End

The Gilneans and the Forsaken

When Hallows End was revamped, I was glad that Blizzard chose the Gilneans as the perfect counterparts to the Forsaken. As neighbours, it’s entirely possible that they would have had similar beliefs and customs so both burning a Wickerman, albeit for ever so slightly different purposes makes perfect sense.

This time of year celebrates the end of the Harvest, the bringing in the fruits of the summer and the slaughtering of livestock to keep the cold winter days at bay. Even as everything begins to die, it brings with it the promise of rebirth, of a new start and that’s precisely what the Wickerman quest offers.

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The idea of a Wickerman has been around for centuries, Julius Caesar wrote about it, claiming that the Druids burnt their enemies inside it (although he did have a reason for wanting to paint them in a savage and dangerous light) and in more modern times it’s featured in books and films.

Dooking for Apples

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Apples have long been associated with fertility and certainly when I “dooked” for apples as a child, we would peel them, throw the peel over your shoulder and then frantically try and read the initial of our future husbands from the mess on the floor. Surprisingly though, I didn’t marry anyone called “S”, the shape that apple peel tends to squiggle into when thrown from a great height.

Guising

The roots of disguising yourself as something else and going door to door seem to have many possible origins. As far back as Celtic times, people would dress up as those recently deceased in an attempt to confuse evil spirits.

Pumpkins and Jack o’lanterns

The term Jack o’lantern was originally coined to describe a will o’the wisp, those creepy balls of marsh gas blamed for leading many travelers to a sticky end in soggy ground. Family tradition has it that they were carved out of sturdier stuff than pumpkin once upon a time and that modern generations have never had it so good. Placed in windows, their candles should keep evil spirits away until dawn and the safety of All Saints Day.

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The Day of the Dead

La Calavera Catrina

Appearing in many guises, like on the decorative plate seen here next to one of Frida Kahlo, La Calavera Catrina is one of the enduring symbols of the Day of the Dead. “Catrina” used to mean a wealthy or well dressed Lady and you don’t need to spend long in Mexico around October/November to discover that “Calavera” means skull. So essentially, at least on paper, she’s a skull in an expensive hat but in reality, she’s so much more.

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So next time you dance with Catrina, remember you are staring the “skull beneath the skin” in the face, the reminder that all us, regardless of money, power and gear score, will die.

Bread of the Dead

Otherwise known as Pan de Muerto, folklore has it that the dead ask for bread and sugar to help them on their journey and this sweet bread provides the perfect sustenance for the soul on it’s final trip.

Marigolds

The Aztec flower of the Dead, Cempasúchil plays a massive part in the Day of the Dead celebrations, adorning altars and forming a path of petals to enable the souls of the dead to return to spend precious time with the living. So it seems only fitting then in Azeroth, they aid us to see both the spirits of our ancestors but also hidden secrets like these forgotten ghosts haunting Raven Hill.

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Tradition has to be important to all of us, but blindly following without understanding is both pointless and potentially dangerous. Don’t eat your own wedding cake, never leave a cloth on a table over night, no shoes on the table, always smash an egg shell into tiny pieces… rituals that you grow up with, so familiar they’re apart of you, actions your body takes without your brain engaging.

Afraid of the Dark

To celebrate the fact that it’s almost All Halllows Eve, I thought I’d write about the things which chill my blood and raise my heartbeat in-game. This list is by no means exclusive and perhaps my choices are a little strange at points but then think how boring life would be if we were all scared by the same things.

The Battle for Darrowshire.

I fully admit that this quest chain has always made me cry but at points it also has me looking over my shoulder. Turning on those you love, forced to slaughter those you swore to protect must be one of the cruelest fates ever devised and whilst the quest chain has changed since it’s epic vanilla proportions, it’s still a must do for all my leveling characters. The Cataclysm revamp also added an even creepier touch by allowing you to pick up a doll from the caravan once you’ve completed the Darrowshire quest chain. This gives you a buff whilst you’re in the Eastern Plaguelands which asks “Is somebody following you?”. The answer to that always sinister question is a yes, as every so often a small figure with plaits will slide into being beside you, follow for a while and then vanish into thin air.

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Old Gods

The first time C’thun whispered me, I stopped healing (almost killing our GM in the process) and generally panicked. I knew it happened, I just wasn’t expecting it to happen to me. Madness runs through my family like contour lines across a map and thus any form of insanity, even when in a video game sends chills down my spine. Too many of my relatives have heard voices (with mixed results) for me to be comfortable receiving the WoW equivalent.

Impaled Orcs

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After I terrified myself reading “The Vampire of Croglin Grange” whilst around seven years old, my Grandmamma told me all about Vlad the Impaler and his hobbies. Now whilst she managed to stop me waking screaming about long talons tapping on my bedroom window in the middle of the night, ever since then, I’ve looked at sharpened sticks in a whole new light.

The Whole of Hillsbrad Foothills

From the fauna

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to the flora

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Hillsbrad has scares aplenty. Whenever I’ve quested through there since Cataclysm, I can’t properly look at those bears whilst killing them. The whole idea of something using another living creature as a nursery has me fighting the urge to stand on a chair screaming my head off.

One touch I think is particularly nice (or nasty) is this crate of scourge grain left to rot in the middle of a little lake, it’s work already done.

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The Jade Witch

There is something about living flesh being turned into unfeeling stone which leaves chills down my spine. That coupled with the fact that I love the darkness behind fairy stories draws me to this particular quest chain whenever I level through the Jade Forest.

Chased

Who doesn’t love the chase, being chased on the other hand.. well that’s a different story. There are two stand out moments for me where I am the hunted, not the hunter.

The first is perhaps one of my favourite quests in the entire game. One which when I encountered it the first time, I panicked, not expecting to be pursued across country by a pack of what are essentially werewolves. With hindsight it’s charm increases as you see the breadcrumbs leading up to this point for what they really are, proper signposts yelling “run away now!”. Every time I complete it though, my heart is in my mouth, expected that once.. just once, those worgen might be faster than the horse.

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The other is the Halls of Reflection, where I find myself secretly half wishing that Arthas would catch us. My dark imagination playing all sorts of tricks in the half light.

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Maybe it’s just me but doesn’t this read like a bad romance? I can just see the cover now, a half naked Arthas, wielding his sword (of course), clutching Jaina to his “manly” chest. I suspect all the ice she’s been throwing about would have melted, leaving her dress clinging to her and possibly some artistic beads of water would be dripping down her cleavage. That said, despite this “cheese” factor, it’s still one of my favourite scary dungeons.

Stitches (and the rest of Duskwood)

Duskwood has it all, betrayal, murdered families and things no longer whole brought back from the dead. From the eyes gleaming in the darkness to the sheer number of tombstones, everything in the zone is geared up to make you glance over your shoulder.

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Rona Greenteeth

The shadow which lies behind the Faire. Another creature of fairy tale, like her name sake “Jenny Greenteeth” she pitches her camp not too far from open water and her goods… well, further proof that we should all be careful what we eat.

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Queen Aszhara’s puppetry
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Puppets like dolls are inherently creepy and being turned into one, even if it’s by  the “Light of a thousand Moons”, is not a pleasant prospect. Killing your group can be fun though.

The shadows of Gilneas

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I love wandering around Gilneas which is why I tolerate making Worgen characters but every so often you’ll catch a flicker of movement out of the corner of your eye. These two screenshots are of the same house taken mere seconds apart so what with casement windows opening and closing, curtains fluttering in an invisible breeze and the ghosts of Gilneas watching from the window, how can you not feel a chill in the air.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the game though, is the fact that it highlights the darkness inside ourselves. We slaughter with impunity, we turn a blind eye to torture and mass murder. Genocide is embraced and we fight to the death for sport. Perhaps this is Sprout’s real face.

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Days 9 & 10: A Screenshot A Day

Day 9 – On the Wall (of Karazhan). Okay this doesn’t totally meet the brief because it’s an alcove in the wall as opposed to on it but I like it.

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Day 10 – Today’s prompt is Sweet, something the Gilneans are famous for.

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Skyline: WoW Daily Screenshots

Day 3 of  the WoW Daily Screenshots challenge, brought to you today by the word “Skyline”.

1. the line at which the earth and sky appear to meet; horizon
2. the outline of buildings, mountains, trees, etc, seen against the sky

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I had several candidates for this category but ended up going for the one which interested me the most. I love the jagged rocks mirrored by the spiky towers of the gates. Gilneas has a sublime feel to it. A charm which isn’t really replicated anywhere else in game.

Rain in Gilneas: Screenshots

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