Trail of Fire

(Based on this quest.)

"So...there be our next target. more?" Schen squinted, trying to make out the narrower figure kneeling in front of the armored human. She couldn't tell exactly what it was, but it didn't appear to be a healer so it should be all right. She'd take down the human Lieutenant first, and worry about any others after she was done. One or two more humans wouldn't add too much of a challenge anyway.

Patting her hound's shoulder to get the beast's attention, she pointed toward the human and nodded. With a joyous bark, Hawrt shot off through the camp, and Schen grinned as she watched her pet start tearing at the foe's legs. Of all the companions she'd had over the years, this scarlet hound was the first she's found whose thirst for blood matched her own. She waited until the human was sufficiently distracted, then stood and added her bullets to the fray.

The human didn't last long at all, quickly collapsing with a hoarse shout (for help? Schen had never understood the humans' language) that was cut short as Hawrt grasped its throat in her jaws and bit down, shaking her head back and forth until the body had stopped moving entirely. The hound worried at the body a little longer, but hopped away with a happy yip as her master approached, jumping up to lick the troll's face. "Get down, you!" Schen ordered, stifling a laugh. She's really just a big puppy... "You knock me over, how I gonna give you a treat for fighting so good?"

"Hey, troll! Over here!" The raspy voice identified the speaker as one of the Forsaken, but when Schen turned to look she saw nothing.

"No, down here. On the ground." The Forsaken sighed. He was tightly bound and lying on the ground in what had to be a most uncomfortable position. He was also, Schen noticed, wearing an apothecary's with large, bloody pawprints all over it. "Look, not that I don't appreciate your heroics--I was decidedly not looking forward to what these Alliance scumbags had in store for me--but this is a pretty poor rescue if you're not even going to untie me."

"Not here to rescue you, mon. Just killin' some humans."

The apothecary sighed. "Fine, I can make it out alone, just--"

"Hey now, I still gonna help you." She grinned and waved her skinning knife under what was left of his nose, her grin growing wider when he didn't so much as blink. "I love you zombies. Not afraid of anythin' and you all fight just as hard as I do. Now, hold still."

It took a little work to cut through the thick cords binding the Forsaken apothecary, but while they were perfect for keeping him from escaping on his own, they couldn't last too long against a good sharp knife, and he was soon up and stretching out his limbs with a series of disconcerting popping and snapping sounds.

"You ready?"

He cracked his knuckles one last time and nodded. "Indeed. Let's get out of here and see if we can get back at them somehow." He glanced around. "Is that a campfire over there?"

Schen laughed and began looking around for something to use as a torch. "I like how you think, zombie."

The apothecary would have been content merely to destroy the camp's food stores, but Schen managed to talk him into torching everything that could possibly be used against them--gunpowder, the tents, even the wooden barricade was soon in flames with the help of a few flasks of oil applied in just the right spot to get it started. It had been a few weeks since the Howling Fjord had seen rain and even heavy wood caught like paper. Even with the ocean so close, there was no way the humans would be able to put out all of the fires in time to save their supplies.

"Well, that," The Forsaken rubbed his hands together gleefully, "was most enjoyable. I think, though--" His words were cut off by a loud rumbling and the wooden wall in front of them exploded into dust and splinters, the force of the explosion knocking them back onto the ground.

Coughing as she rose, Schen finished his sentence. "It be time to get out of here for good."

He frowned. "I wasn't expecting them to start the bombardment so soon, but yes. We'll need to move quickly." Brushing sawdust off of his robe, he added, "I think I see a way through. Stay close to me."

The troll nodded, and hurried after him, keeping her eyes open for trouble.

A few humans did notice them and try to stop the pair, and one foolhardy gnome tried to attack Hawrt, but soon they were through the gap blown in the barricade and heading for the lines of Forsaken troops. A volley of fiery arrows whistled past them, a couple glancing off of Schen's mail and one lodging itself in her helmet. She sighed and pulled it out as she ran, tossing it aside to let it burn itself out in the muddy grass. "Call em off, mon? I'm not helpin' you just to be made a pincushion."

"Don't shoot! Apothecary coming through! Hold your fire!"

To Schen's surprise, it worked, and the Forsaken fighters parted to let the small party through as they approached. Then they were through,and a pair of healers appeared to show them back to the medics' tents set up behind the lines. Shaking them off--she'd rather rely on her natural regeneration than on Forsaken medical technology--the troll sighed and let herself relax. It had been a long day, and she couldn't wait to get back to the inn.

"Before you go--" It was the apothecary again, doing his best to thwart the herding instinct of the healers fussing over him. "I'm going to stick around here for a while, but you should talk to Apothecary Lysander when you get back to Vengeance Landing. He might be able to give you something for your trouble. Tell him you got Apothecary Hanes out of a bind and that I'll be back as soon as I cause a little more mayhem."

"I will indeed." She grinned, and waved as the two healers, fed up at last, picked him up and carried him toward the tents.

The last thing she heard as he was carried away was, "I have a wonderful idea for a new, weaponized..."

She'd have to come back later and ask him exactly what he was planning. It sounded like fun.


R&R, and Disappointment.

In life, moods will change, tastes flow from one thing to the next. A fun little game called Fable enchanted me about 3 years back, one of the first games that I'd played in which it felt like my actions had a noticeable difference on the game's world and where the characters in the game were more important than the items and fun things to do; even with the NPCs it felt that way.

A friend and I exchanged games recently to try out, I lent him Devil May Cry 4, a game I thought would be up his alley, while I asked him to lend me Fable 2. I was hoping from the description that this game would be a similarly free experience to the first game. I got what I hoped for.

Now, from the title of this post a different response might've been expected, but there is more to it than that. You see, when I played the original Fable, it took me a very long time because although the story moves at a good pace, the optional part of the game really drew me in; things like starting a family, protecting a city, things that made me care about the towns, cities and the people in them. Unfortunately, Fable 2 didn't.

Although it still had the freedom and the options to choose either good or evil, and the same ability to do almost anything in the world, from buying real estate and shops even to theft and murder, unfortunately the game really didn't make me want to choose either. I thought what had attracted me to the original Fable was the option to choose good and evil, but in truth it was more how my choices affected the people in the world that drew me in. Here's an example contrasting the two; in the original Fable, you have to escort a merchant through a werewolf-infested marsh. Each time we were attacked, I fought them off not because I thought "hey monsters, good, I'll get more XP" but because the merchant was a well-done enough character to make me want to protect him. In Fable 2, you have to help a bandit named Reaver escape from an army of fanatic soldiers that he called to town try to collect a reward for your capture. I tried to shoot Reaver, and only killed the soldiers out of a vague desire to get past that part of the story. That, and shooting Reaver didn't actually have any effect at all.

Fable 2 struck me with an apathy so great, that once I'd finished the main story, the prospect of re-entering the game for more optional quests and further development of my character filled me with nothing but a vague dread. My feelings about Fable 2 can be summed up best in the words of Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, when he said "but why would you want to?"



Who's that Pokemon?

I've been taking a bit of a break from WoW for the last little while--I've been leveling alts whenever I have a free moment, but I've been completely avoiding my main server, Sen'jin. My laptop can't handle raiding anymore, and I don't really feel like explaining for the millionth time that Jon and I left our last guild because we were hoping it would help the guild leader become less dependant on others. (Given who re-joined the guild shortly after we left, I'd say that we failed to accomplish that, but on the plus side, playing the game is relaxing now.)

So how have I been spending my non-raiding time?

Well, besides rolling an Orc Hunter and doing far more Warsong Gulch (player-vs-player 'capture the flag') than I care to think about, I've finally done what I was convinced I could never do, and leveled up a Tauren Druid. On top of that, he's male--so that's two barriers broken down right there.

It's Druidbearmon! Okay, so that's not his actual name...

With my new Druid, it feels as if I'm seeing Azeroth for the first time again. It's been so long since I did most of the quests Horde-side that each one is new and exciting (though I still remember enough to find the trickier ones!) and there was a whole Tauren-only quest chain I'd never done before involving cleansing the water wells of Mulgore. On top of that, I've been making a conscious effort to do every quest in every zone I level through to get the full experience, and it's been amazingly fun. It feels so much more satisfying than doing only what's necessary to progress to the next area. Sure, I might be a bit slower, but if I hadn't done that I might never have fought in an epic battle against the Centaur of the Barrens, or watched a Horde-aligned Dwarf (!) turn into a Trogg, or jumped off of a cliff only to be whisked away at the last second.

And, speaking of Mulgore and the Barrens, I'm in love. I'd never realized before how gorgeous the early Kalimdor zones are--I'd always been rushing to get to the next quest hub, to finish the next set of missions, leveling as quickly as I could. This time, though, I was moving slower, and could appreciate the scenery much better. And besides the beauty of the zones, I also noticed various interactions between NPCs that I hadn't seen before, and stuck around to watch. There's a little orc kid who goes fishing to feed the guards, another whose father is fighting up in Ashenvale (the conversation with his mother may have had me sniffling a little), and the wyvern trainer in Freewind Post will occasionally blow a kiss to his pets. (I laughed so hard when I heard him!)

I've finished up all of Mulgore, the Barrens, and Stonetalon Mountains now (save for a few dungeon quests), and I just need to find Page 7 of the Shredder Operating Manual to be done with Ashenvale, too. I'm questing in northern Thousand Needles now, getting ready to head out to the Shimmering Flats and help out the goblin racers (and maybe the gnomes, too...creepy little guys, though). I'm still not bored, I can't imagine ever getting bored if I keep playing this way. And it makes me wonder, if maybe the reason so many people say WoW is boring and easy is because they don't take the time to explore and challenge themselves. I certainly never had this much fun when I rushed to reach the level cap, and it seems like every few quests I run into another rare elite monster that's a challenge to take down, that normally I would have just avoided to save time.

I love this. :D

The Kodo is named Matilda. I am such a sucker for bad puns.


Well, it's true enough I guess.

All right, now that Mania has finally posted about the Worgen pet, I guess I can post this without feeling a little silly/guilty about beating her to it. (I kid, I kid! I just had my internet working all day, that's all.)

Here I am with my brand-new Worgen, exulting in its real-ness. For a long time, I was convinced that the whole thing was a hoax, and even posted a picture 'proving' I was right. Whoops? Major hugs and cookies to the Hunter class forum folks for all their hard work and research in figuring out which mob the mysterious Worgen pet was (as you can see in my screenie, it's Garwal, a quest mob in Howling Fjord).

I think that's what got me the most excited about the whole thing, in fact. Even if the Worgen pet had turned out to be a fake, the way the Hunter forum came together and worked on this was amazing. Seeing teamwork and friendly conversation instead of the whining and belittling I normally expect from the o-boards was surprising and very pleasant. I may have made a few jokes about Pokemon, but for the most part the original thread stayed polite and on-topic until post cap, and the second thread seems to be doing the same. Yay for Hunters!

One thing that bugged me about the original post was the behavior of the Hunter who was first spotted with the Worgen pet--I get that he wanted to keep his pet something special, but it's a little cruel not to even give a hint or two. I've always been happy to answer any questions about rare pets I might have (though in the case of my Hydra, I have to warn people it's no longer tamable, which is kind of a bummer). It is, to my mind, part of being a good Hunter--sharing tips and tricks with others. So as soon as I got out of Naxx (they dragged me in as soon as I was done taming, of course) I headed to Ironforge to show off Mowgli.

I got tons of whispers and comments, and was able to help a bunch of folks find the information they needed to (hopefully) tame their own. Of course, I felt a little bad when I realized I was just sending more competition Jon's way--luckily it didn't take him too many tries to get a Worgen on his hunter as well. He's named her Raksha, and is just as excited about her as I am about mine.

Since they're technically Wolves (the best non-BM pets and good for BM too), we'll be using them a fair bit from now on--though I've got a lot of leveling to do before I bring Mowgli to Naxx again, I'm used to topping the DPS charts, darnit. <.< We're going to be very careful to avoid PvP as the worgen will reset to a wolf model if used in Arenas, and we have our fingers crossed that Blizzard won't just go ahead and reset all of them...

*crosses her toes, too*

Even if they do, though, we'll have had fun.