Friday, August 3, 2012

Lower The Curtain. Raise The House Lights.

About five and a half years ago, I was dabbling with blogging using personas different than my own (for reasons that I don't really remember anymore). On a whim, I tried writing a couple of posts from the point of view of the character I was playing in this video game some friends had introduced me to a couple months earlier. For whatever reason, it just clicked for me, and a collection of pixels suddenly came to life in my head, with his own distinct personality, goals, and mannerisms.

Over the years, much has changed. Other characters in game have taken over much of my playing time; some of these developed into characters in their own right, and some did not. Guilds have come and gone. Other blogs I read have come and gone. Readers of this blog have come and gone. One day a reader sent me a short letter thanking me for cheering her up on days when she felt down and a month later, because she is the most awesomest person in the world, I asked her to marry me. And, because she is also the insanest person in the world, she said yes.

But through it all, Ratshag has stayed Ratshag. Slightly more refined and experienced, perhaps, but still tough, loyal, horny, not all that bright, and marching to the beat of a drummer who is very much his own. And now, after a much much longer time than I ever expected this to last, I am ready to say goodbye to him and find new and different outlets for my creative impulses. So yesterday I sent him off just as he would have wanted: shouting defiance in the face of overwhelming odds, and taking the fluggernubber down with him. Enjoy Valhalla, old friend - you've more than earned it.

Don't really know yet what directions my newly-freed creative juices will flow in, exactly, but I'm hoping to do some longer fiction writing in universes where the story isn't constrained by a video game company's motivation to maximize profit. I'd also like to get back into photography, and maybe even start drawing characters again. We shall see. Hopefully, there will be a lot more activity at my writing site and my tumblr. And if not? I'm okay with that.

I'd like to close by saying that it has been an absolute joy to share this journey with all of you. I wish you all the very best, in whatever form that takes.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cataclysm: Madness



Well, that bitesss.

But Thrall said he had a new plan, and that was good, becausse he never had a bad idea. Except for, you know, trussting Hellscream. And then putting his son in charge of the Northrend expedition. And then putting him in charge of the entire Horde, ssso he could run off to shaman camp and get laid. Yup. We're all gonna die.

So we all piled on the Alliance sship, which ssomehow flew along just fine despite only having four little thrusstersss keeping it up, and chased after Deathwing. The plan was for Thrall and the asspects to stay on the sship and charge up the Dragon Soul again and drink tea while Rattersss and the rest of us parachuted onto the dragon'ss back and ripped off the elementium plates so Thrall could get a better sshot. Obviously, it wass the plates that were the problem the lassst time and not that, say, Thrall's aim ssucked or that after thousssandss of years the Dragon Soul didn't hold a charge like it used to. Nope, had to be the platess, so we sstrapped on our parachutes. Happy happy joy joy.

Very heroic. Very insspirational. We were totess badassses in that moment, weren't we? Unfortunately, Captains Sswayze and Ka'anu sort of ... well ... misssed, and were never seen again. I suspect that at the last minute they decided that a life of ssurfing and robbing banks together made a lot more sense than, you know, fighting a flying dragon while sstanding on its back. Can't say that I blame them.

The rest of uss made onto Deathwing's back and, well, he wasn't doing too good. Open ssores, rupturing tentaclesss, corrosive ooze - it was a very nasty place to work. We had to keep ssopping our attack to mop up the blood. But we managed to pry several of his platess off just as the clouds broke and we sssaw the Maelstrom opening up below us. "Can we get the hellss out of here now?" I shouted at Ratshag over the howling wind. "Yeah, let's blow this joint," he sshouted back. We struggled back into our chutess, and jumped for one of the rocky outcroppings. Thrall plunked his magic twanger, and

The movie makes it look all dramatic and heroic. What you can't ssee is that Thrall ssshot too soon, and we weren't all clear. Fink was a little slow becausse of the wound she'd taken earlier, and was sstill getting her parachute on when Thrall cut loose. I guessss counting all the way to ten was a little too much to assk of the World's Greatesst Shaman.

But we'd done it. We'd killed the big bad, we'd ssaved the world. We were exhausted, we were bloody, and we were victoriouss. I was a happy little abomination in the eyess of nature. Thrall and the assspects came down to the little rock island where we'd landed to congratulate uss (because apparently lowering a ladder and picking us up inssstead was a bother) and tell us what wonderful heroess we were and all that stuff, when the water below us sstarted to bubble. And sssomething was coming up.

Not fair. Not. Godss. Damned. Fair.

I don't know if you could call what came up out of the ocean that afternoon "Deathwing". It was a huge, bloated thing, heaving and sssurging as the Old Godss tried to cram ten pounds of sshit into a five pound Deathwing bag. All I knew was that there oozess and tentacles and other horrorss all around us, and if we didn't desstroy them they would destroy usss. The air was full of smoke and acid, terrible even for me to experience. I don't know how my teammates, thosse who still had to breathe becausse they weren't walking dead, could even function. But slowly we sstemmed the tide, and began to push our way forward. Deathwing had collapssed against the rocks, his head on the ground, one eye glaring at us. If we could just reach him, jussst finish him off, then the tide of things bursting out of his open woundss might end.

"Pali, look out!" I heard Kinnavieve yell, but it was too late. An enormous tentacle had reared up behind her, and ssmashed her to the ground. Kinna and I ran over too her, and cut the tentacle into a quivering pile of corrupted flesh and sslime. One look, though, and it was clear her neck had been sssnapped instantly. Kinna whispered a few words and gently clossed the dead girl's eyess. Then she stood up, gripped my hand for a ssecond, and we went back to killing thingsss.

But without Palintera's sspecial druid tricks, pulling energy out of the ground to magically heal our burnsss and injuries, we began to falter. Our coordination broke down, and it devolved into everyone fighting for themsselves. I saw Maurice fall before a pack of oozess. When they moved away, all that was left was some ssmoking armor and a few bones. Through the sssmoke, I could dimly see Alayda crawling, pulling her shattered legss behind her. In the end, Ratsshag, Kinnavieve, and I made it to the monster's head, but we were alone.

"Just kill the bluggerfudder," Ratters growled. "I'll keep you clear." He was bleeding from the Sshadow knows how many holes, and hisss green skin was blackened from burnss. I thought he was about to collapsse, but he pulled up something, ssome reserve from deep insside him, and let out a roar, and sstarted swinging at the thingss pressing in on us, driving them back. Kinna and I attacked the dragon's neck, me with my axe and dagger, her with her big-ass ssword, trying to sever it and kill him once and for all before the big guy gave out. But it wass so tough, sso armored, and my armss were so tired. We'd come close, so close, but it wasn't enough, we were going to fail. In my head, I curssed everyone that had sset the path that led me to this place. Kel'thuzad and Arthas, Mograine and the Sscarlet Crusade, the Old Gods, the Titanss who had abandoned us, the assspectss who'd run off who-knows-where, the Warchief and the King who had ssent their armies to fight each other in placess like the Barrens and Tol Barad. I cursed them all to the deepesst hell.

I spared a glance back at Ratshag. He had sstumbled, was down on one knee, holding a burning sshield up to block the blows being rained down by a big rock elemental. And I couldn't do it. I couldn't let him die alone. I was going to die anyway - we all were. At leassst I could go out fighting, not hacking usselesssly against Deathwing's neck. So I ran to his sside. I swung at the elemental with what little sstrength I had left, trying to find the vulnerable bands of energy that held it's sstones together.

And for an instant I distracted it. And in that instant, the orc sstood up. He dropped his ruined shield and axe, and grabbed the elemental with both handss. Somehow, amazingly, he lifted it up over his head. Turning to face Deathwing, he shouted "DROVE YER VOLCANO INTA THE WRONG FLUGGERNUBBIN' HOUSE, DIDN'T YA?!?", and charged.

There was a loud Crack! as he drove the rockss into the Destroyer's skull like a battering ram, and the sskull gave way. Then a Whump! as all the force the Old Gods had sstuffed into him was suddenly releasssed. The force of it knocked me through the air, bony half-rotted ass over teacupss. When I stood up again, it was over. The tentacles and oozess and elementals were dead, dissintegarting, lifeless. Deathwing's headless corpsse was slowly sssliding back down into the ocean. All that remained of his head was the bent and mangled metal jaw the dwarvess had forged for him. That, and a thousand commingled piecess of dragon and orc ssstrewn across the landscape.

I walked over and sat down next to Kinnavieve. Sshe was curled in a ball, her sword abandoned a few feet away, sssobbing wretchedly. "I, I, I, I tried, I, I, oh Mouse...." was all sshe could get out. Awkwardly, I put my arm around her. For the first time in all the years I've known her, she didn't flinch away from me. I guess sshe was too damned exhausted. I know I was. A little ways off, the assspects and Thrall were talking, something about a new world order, and how great it wass that Thrall's girlfriend was knocked up. It didn't make much sense, but neither had anything elsse that day. Madnesss, all madnessss.

At the edge of our rocky island, the Alliance airsship had finally returned and lowered a ladder. As the ssmoke cleared, I could see some movement among the rockss and rotting remains of the thingss. At least a couple of our teammates had sssurvived the fight as well. "C'mon Kinna," I said, pulling myself to my feet and extending her my hand. "Let'ss go find our friends, and go home."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Church Of "Holy Light"? Ya Sure?

Grundy Macgraff (Dwarf priest)

Father Inigo Montoy (Human priest)

Grand Inquisitor Isillien (Priest, Scarlet Crusade)

The Black Bishop (Background unknown)

Archbishop Benedictus (Supreme human religious leader)

Corruption. Everywhere, at every level. Demons, Lichs, Faceless Ones. The institution been rotten ta the core fer years, and not in a "we's gonna take yer donations and buy our girlfriend a new car" way, but rathers a "we's gonna destroy the world" way. An' you trust these buggers with yer immortal souls?

Pffft. You's crazy fluggernubbers.