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.

WoWScrnShot_020914_183320

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.

valeatwinblades

holiasunshield

yanabloodspear

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.

Solstice Challenge: Moonlight

I left work early today, tired out by petty squabbles and general whines and whilst sipping my hazelnut latte, I discovered Matty’s Solstice Challenge.

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 1

WoWScrnShot_080411_214135

Staring at the statue, for a brief moment the Priestess was back to being barely more than a child seated in the old Temple Gardens. “The shrouds of Shadows are velvet soft to the touch, warm and fill the caster’s mind with whispers of false comfort”, their instructor had intoned, “On the other hand, the Light makes no promises, takes no prisoners. Wield her with honesty in your heart or she will burn the darkness from your soul”.

Yep, Erinys in her real Night Elf incarnation is coming back!

Day 2

WoWScrnShot_101913_214015

Even ghostly witches love the moonlight and when the harvest moon rises full and fat, look to the skies.

How Sprout got her Squash

The Wyvern’s Tail is hosting a lovely little Hallows End competition and it being my favourite time of the year and all, I couldn’t resist joining in. I know it’s meant to be all about the screenshots but Sprout is one of those gnomes incapable of using one word when 37 would do roughly the same job.

Duskwood always has dangers lurking in the restless dark but this is never more true than at Hallows End when the veil between worlds is at it’s weakest. So without further ado, I present Hallows End Sprout:

Halloweensprout

The old covered bridge, cobwebs hanging from it’s timbers lay directly in front of her. Parking her mechostrider, Sprout closed her eyes for a moment letting the warnings flood her mind. “Don’t ride through Duskwood after dark”, “Fly to Redridge… the path is shorter and safer”, “Stay another night and leave in the morning, don’t be foolish little Gnome” and then once they realised that her mind was made up, the raft of more practical suggestions. “Don’t leave the road whatever you do”, “Don’t stay on the path, who knows what monsters walk”, “Keep your eyes firmly fixed on the way ahead, never look back”. It had seemed as if every one in the Sentinel Hill hostelry had some opinion, from the Innkeeper herself to the workers fixing the roof. Whilst the details differed, everyone agreed on one particular point .. entering Duskwood in the twilight was suicide.

WoWScrnShot_102913_153815

Dismounting, she swiftly checked the machine over, breaking down could be a dangerous disaster. Once Sprout felt secure in her ride, she double checked her bags. Melon juice, check; flask of hot bean soup, check; Dwarven Mild, check and finally a loaf of freshly baked bread. Whatever happened in those dark woods, she wasn’t going to starve. Starting her engine, she eyed the forests of Duskwood unhappily.

As the mechostrider leapt forward onto the bridge, for a moment Sprout feared that the planks couldn’t take the strain. That any second, she and her precious machine would be plunged into the cold dark water below. Despite their warped condition, perhaps a sign of lack of use, the bridge held and now she set foot in accursed Duskwood itself.

WoWScrnShot_102913_153909

Sprout had heard many stories from passing drunks in the Inns about Necromancers, ghouls and other such monsters who lurked off the beaten path in the many boneyards and resting places of the forest but being a Gnome of reason and sense, she knew these were nothing but idle superstition and an blatant attempt to impress or at least she had known this whilst safe abed in Stormwind. However curiosity and pride got the better of her, how could she return to the University without at least having explored a corner of the map. Turning her headlamps on full, she steered away from the road and up a steep incline, coming to an abrupt stop overlooking a graveyard. A graveyard crawling with things which her rational brain couldn’t quite interpret.

WoWScrnShot_102913_153929
The mad dash towards the path seemed to take forever and never had a Gnome seen a more welcome sight than cobbles, fences and lamps lighting the way. Promising herself to stay on the straight and narrow, Sprout set off once again for Darkshire.
WoWScrnShot_102913_153948

The only way forward seemed to be to keep her eyes fixed firmly on the horizon, that way blinking eyes in the undergrowth, giant spiders and big black wolves could all be edited out of the picture before her brain fully processed it and indeed Sprout proceeded some way in this fashion.

It was at this point disaster struck, heralded by a noise which chilled the blood just around a bend in the road. A scream and then a rough munching sound as if something large with many teeth was gnawing on bone could be heard up ahead. Tightening her grip on the mechanostrider, Sprout considered her options. By the sound of it, there was nothing left to rescue and so riding towards that noise would be the equivalent of desert serving itself to whatever was snacking in the dark. That left the forest flanking either side of the path, both sides were dense with trees and no light  penetrated those black branches. Resorting to what might be called logic in a less dangerous situation, Sprout decided that going north hadn’t worked out previously so this time she would try south.

Pushing her way through the trees she found herself in a field full of what she quickly recognized as corpse weed although she had not seen such lively specimens before. Quickly picking her way through the open ground, out of the corner of her eye she spotted something glowing. Something which on closer inspection turned out to be a Jack o’lantern abandoned but yet still lit. Looking around she could see no movement in the clearing and taking a deep breath she turned away from the gruesome pumpkin and rode towards the road.

WoWScrnShot_102913_154151

As she resumed riding along the road, a distinct silence lay blanketed over the wood. No longer could she hear the wolves howling or the shrill shrieks of the owls, instead it was just her own blood pumping and the rattle of her engine. Then from behind she though she heard a slither, a slippery sound of something unnatural sliding along the cobbles and with her heart in her mouth, Sprout looked behind her.

WoWScrnShot_102913_154337

That accursed Jack o’lantern was following her on long legs of twisted roots, it’s unholy grin fixed on her. Closing her eyes, Sprout gunned her engine and rode as if the Devil himself in vegetable form pursued her.

WoWScrnShot_102913_154756

It was only on reaching the outskirts of the town itself that Sprout dared to glance behind her and thankfully the road was clear. No glowing eyes, no long and twisted roots, no animated orange flesh, just an empty highway stretching out behind her. In her gratefulness to be safe and secure within the town, it never occurred to her to check the pumpkin patch which lay alongside the road but then who in similar circumstances can say they would have done different?

WoWScrnShot_102913_154740

Parking her mechanostrider, Sprout made straight for the Scarlet Raven, trying hard to not look at the jack o’lanterns carved everywhere for Hallows End.

WoWScrnShot_102913_154813
Once inside and parked on a stool by the fire with a hot toddy, she discovered that the locals were entertaining themselves by telling ghost stories. As the warmth seeped through her numb body, she found herself listening with interest to the tale of the Carved one. “Once upon a time”, the barmaid said, “there was a little boy who loved Hallows End more than any other time of the year. Every year he and his father would carve a Jack O’lantern for their field but then came the year of the Dark Riders and something horrible happened out at their farmstead. In the morning, a search party found only blood and that cursed pumpkin still lit even with the candle inside burnt down to dust. Ever since that night, on Hallows End a bewitched lantern appears in that field searching for souls to lure to their doom and every year it claims at least one victim”.

It was at this point, Sprout decided that she had heard enough and retreated to the safety of her room, upstairs and only accessibly by passing through the busy bar. As she readied herself for bed, she muttered about stupid superstition and ghost stories being just that, something parents told their children to frighten them onto the straight and narrow. Nothing something a Gnome would waste time partaking in.

After all… ghostly Jack O’lanterns… whoever has heard of such a thing.

WoWScrnShot_102913_154939