I recently read Trackhoof's piece, written from his character's perspective, about why he was leaving the game. I also read some recent WoW fiction from Bandet, which I thought was good. So that actually inspired me to write something else of my own, loosely based around an email exchange I've had with Negara, and some forum adventures as well.
I was initially a little ambivalent about posting it here, since like a lot of what I write, it's probably controversial, and stands a fairly good chance of offending at least one person, and probably several. My rank on technorati has fallen by 70,000 odd in the last two days...but in the end, that's fine. One of the things what I'm posting is actually about, is that there's always been a difference between being me, and being popular.
The pig and I had just finished eating, not long before, when I heard her. I got up, and approached warily.
This was a surprise. Night Elf. I could tell from the features...and the scent. Her luminous eyes were almost a light source of their own, although the rest of her was partly hidden among a few thin trees.
I briefly wondered how long she'd actually been here. The Kel'dorei were very gifted at avoiding being seen, but this one appeared somewhat young.
"You're a fair way from home, little Elf," I told her. "What's your business out here?"
"Actually, I came looking for you," she answered me. She was a little startled to see the pig materialise next to me, as well. I guessed he could be intimidating. As well as the black colour, he was almost as long as she was tall, and about a quarter of her own height.
"Oh?" I kept my voice even, although I didn't usually get visitors.
"I've heard two different sets of rumours about you," she went on. "According to one, although you haven't accomplished anything which is usually renowned among our kind, it is possible that I could still learn something from you."
"And the other?" I asked. I felt I was being tested.
"There is one Orc in particular, a leader among the Rogues' guild, who tells everyone he meets that you are a fool, filled with false arrogance and delusion. That despite your claims to the contrary, you know nothing whatsoever of the Hunt, and that your words are as weak and empty as the wind against the grass."
My facial expression did not change. Evidently the Elf had expected me to be angry at this, for she then began to appear awkward. I said nothing, and went back to the fire. The Elf just stood there for a few minutes, uncertain of what to say or do next. She shifted her feet...and although my back was to her at the time, I felt her lower her eyes.
I'd learned how to fall so that most of my weight hit the ground, and I was over her at a 45 degree angle, as I knew I would have crushed her otherwise. Seeing fear and surprise in her eyes, my tusks went to her throat, drawing but a single drop of blood before I caught myself, moving back slowly and letting the bloodlust subside. I could have killed her for what she had said, but my parents, and my Warchief, had both taught me not to act blindly on those sorts of emotions. I also realised that it was not her, in truth, who had said it at all, but the Rogue she had mentioned.
After holding her there for a moment, I let her up, using my legs and one arm to get back up myself, while holding my eyes on her, and holding the other arm across my chest, in case she decided to try and use the knife I had seen materialise a few seconds earlier. She had debated, like me, and had apparently decided against it, but I wasn't taking any chances.
She surprised me again by then forcefully side kicking me in an ankle, causing me to fall. I rolled, dragging her down with me, and then lifting her head up and bringing the side of it down against the ground, hard.
I pinned her again, and when her eyes cleared, spoke in a furious whisper, my eyes level with hers. The basilisk I'd had earlier was not good eating, and I knew it would smell as foul on my breath as it had tasted. Sure enough, she flinched.
"This is what I can teach you. I know of the people you speak of. They at times go to dangerous places, yes; but with healers and mages beside them, warriors in thick plate in front of them, and enough others in general to hold their hand and make sure it's *safe*."
My lower lip curled.
"They also eat three square, even meals a day, with wine, cream, and gravy, and every night they sleep in the same soft, clean, perfumed beds that they will die in, behind thick stone walls, that yet more of those men in plate stand on top of."
My next words to her were a snarl.
"I live out here."
Her expression changed, and after studying her for another few moments, I felt that she understood. We again got up, and this time I knew that was over. She hadn't come out here to kill me; somehow I was aware of that. The pig knew it, too; he would have been on top of her otherwise. He actually loved fresh Elf meat, having developed a taste for it during our visits to Ashenvale, but he wouldn't attack her unless I asked.
I gestured towards the fire, and she sat down, pulling out some tea, as I did also.
"You can go and see the others," I continued. "They have sets of antlers on their walls. Their weapons are also bright, and shining, and often set on the wall as well, as are the various trophies, accolades, and awards they have received from all over both of the two worlds."
"Out here, however, there's only one kind of prize that matters."
I gestured to a large nightsaber that was asleep just outside the ring of the fire. "When you're on the ground, with the animal beside you your only ally for a hundred miles, one of those on top of you, and you can tell it hasn't eaten in close to a week...if you're still breathing two hours later, you've won it."
She looked shocked. "You let them sleep that close to you? Aren't you afraid they'll..." she trailed off.
I gave her an Orcish grin. "I hope they try. I can always use the practice. However..."
I trailed off and pointed to a cat carcass that was hanging from a nearby tree, that the Elf apparently hadn't previously noticed. There was a long cut almost down the length of it, and blood had been dripping from it to the ground. It was apparently also only then that the Elf noticed the smell. Flies had also already started to gather to it.
"That was the patriarch of the local pack. I made sure of that. The rest of them know what that means."
I went quiet after that for a bit, and we drank some more tea. After a few moments, I had a sudden flash of memory, and realised I'd seen this Elf before.
"I've actually seen you before, during my last resupply in Shattrath," I said to her. "You were talking to the leader of the Hunters' Guild there."
"Yes, that's right," she answered me. "I saw you there in passing as well. That was when I actually first heard of you. I noticed you didn't speak with the others, and asked them about you. To a man, they told me that you were insane, and to have nothing to do with you, but when you were mentioned, I noticed the expression on the face of the Elf I'd been speaking to. It was one of exasperation, and I could be wrong, but I think a very small amount of regret. I admit it made me even more curious."
I grinned at her. "They're probably right, you know. I'm a bad influence. You should probably go back to them. Being socially acceptable is easier, psychologically...or so I'm told."
She shrugged. "I still could go back. Possibly will, at some point, in fact. I wanted to see both sides."
"So you'll teach me?" She asked.
I let out a bitter laugh. "Teach you what? I don't know a damn thing, remember?"
She looked at the ground, embarassed. I silently cursed my own abrasiveness, and tried again.
"I'll tell you what. Stay with me for a couple of weeks. If you survive that, whether or not you've learned anything will be your own conclusion."
"So what's your name?" I asked her.
"Nariyya," she answered. "And yours?"
"I assumed you already knew," I answered her. "Mirshalak."