Sunday, 28 August 2016

Entry 9 - Face of a Ghost

46th Day of Summer

   Perhaps I'm delirious. Perhaps the apparently permanent fel taint in the air is affecting my mind, because if it isn't, then I saw the face of a ghost today.
   His eyes were covered, but I knew the face. I'm sure I knew the face. Thirty years does nothing to weaken the memory of my people, a fact I bitterly resent, and his is a face firmly lodged in my mind and tangled in a weave of confusion.
   And he'd leapt in to save me in particular. Others were closer to me, and others who needed saving were closer to him. But he jumped in and cut down the fel guard that had been about to cleave me in two while I was occupied by a comparatively meagre hound.
   It was Malveth Sunfeather. I'm sure it was.
   He was a city boy, younger than me but he made up for that in arrogance, and he'd been lively and driven - my mother had always said he was a bad influence; people in Silvermoon City were always more brash and outspoken than those of us that lived outside the city's walls. But at least they weren't all talk; when the Lich King had strode so brazenly through our land, he and many others had taken arms to fight against him. Many of them died, a number too inexperienced and foolhardy through that very arrogance, and though he'd survived the campaign, he'd lost his whole family in the process. Worse still, his family had been quite capable warriors, and that he alone had survived them meant that he had to carry the weight of their accomplishments and the expectations of everyone else that came with them. I always thought he carried it well, even despite the darkness that had began to shadow his heart. I knew him well enough to notice it, but we were not close enough for me to voice my concerns, even though I could see it reaching deeper and deeper into him. Now I regret never speaking up.
   And so it hadn't been too much of a surprise at the time when he, like so many others, had eagerly and loyally followed Prince Kael'thas away from Quel'Thalas to restore our people to our former glory by Illidan's lead. But while he must have felt that he had nothing left to stay for, I have wondered on the few occasions he's popped into my mind since if it wasn't perhaps that very difference of upbringing, in the city rather than the woods, moulding a more privileged spirit, that had coaxed such a reaction from him. Where, I suppose, I accepted the fate of my family and friends, he simply couldn't and wanted to lash out. His heart had become quite dark by that point and many of his friends, myself included, had been pushed away by it. No one was there to try to calm him, to talk to him.
   I've found that I regret that, and all the more now that I've seen where it has led him.
   When he left Quel'Thalas, that was the last I'd known of him. I admit that I assumed he perished - so many others did - but having never set foot through that or any other portal that bridged this world with another, I had nothing but second-, third- and forth-hand accounts of what the orcish homeworld was like, or what Prince Kael'thas's band had truly gotten up to. Though I saw the results.
   But I am surprised by the revelation that he did not stay beside Prince Kael'thas, that he had joined with Illidan instead, and I admit that, right now, I'm not sure which side would have been better. But I don't think I would have liked what he'd have become if he had remained loyal to the Prince. He and those beneath him had become enemies of our own people, but these demon hunters, Illidan's twisted elven creations...they seem to be fighting on the same side as us - or for the same goal, at the very least.

   I've not seen him since that moment on the field, and while I'd like to think that whether or not I see him again, whether I speak a word to him, is within my hands...I get the feeling that his eerie, unseeing eyes are already spying upon me.

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Entry 8 - Hidden Hope

40th Day of Summer

   I don't understand why I'm surprised, but these demons are relentless. We fight and we fight, and though numbers are lost on both sides, where ours are replenished by new arrivals, theirs seem only bolstered. And their reach is spreading, they're hitting all known sites harder and more frequently.
   That is alarming for a number of reasons, the most dominant of which is the fact that they have the means to come at us much harder, and they are not. They remain in predictable locations, allowing us to gather our forces, build our defences, and slowly strengthen their assault.
   They are testing us. And I am terrified.
   Dalaran has been relocated above Karazhan, of all places - I can only hope there is a purpose in that, rather than some sick irony. But amongst these snippets that new-comers bring with them, there's also been word that Khadgar, Medivh's famed apprentice, has been delving through his past master's work in a bid to find some way to give Azeroth the upper hand. For, surely, Medivh must have had something in his extensive library on the subject.
   Ah, but I forget. He was not always Medivh, was he? I've always felt it was a somewhat absurd story even when it happened and the orcs first stepped through his portal into Azeroth, but there has been too little to oppose it in these past few decades.
   But if he was not always Medivh, would there be such a tome? Would the demon within him not have destroyed it? Or left him too little time to find it? I admit, I don't know the details, but it seems unlikely.
   I can only hope I'm wrong. Whatever Khadgar seeks, it may well be our best bet. He is not a fool, he wouldn't risk wasting his time in the face of this.
   Unless he's that desperate.
   But then, aren't we all?

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

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Friday, 19 August 2016

Entry 7: Joining The Fight

35th Day of Summer

   I made my decision and left Orgrimmar last night, but it was not with the mind I had expected. I have not taken a portal, a zeppelin, nor a ship to my homeland. Indeed, I am still in Kalimdor.
   And I am invigorated.
   It was a child that stuttered my brain into gear last night, one crying in what could only be described as pure fear. Several corpses lay on the dusty road outside of the Orgrimmar Orphanage, some still smouldering from fel fire, others simply hacked to pieces. It was a sight no child should see, not even by the standards of orcs, and the slaughter had been for nothing more than spreading chaos.
   But all that remained of their assailant were oversized pauldrons that somehow gave off an odour of evil - call me dramatic, but it could be described no other way. And anyone who smelled it wore the same haunted look, for it could also not be misunderstood.
   Matron had tried to calm the child, but nothing would subdue him. That had wrenched my heart enough, but when I saw the silence in the wide eyes of the others, I found myself suddenly able to make the decision I'd been putting off for days - and of my two options, I chose the third.

   I write this from the Crossroads in the Barrens, in the meagre camp, erected in a hurry, where exhausted warriors rest before retaking arms against the demons that relentlessly assault the desolate plains. And I am one of them.
   Hearing the unadulturated terror in the child's voice, and the scarring of the souls in the eyes of the others, I realised that I cannot sit by and be one of the protected. If I can raise a weapon, then I must use it against the Legion. Everyone must. This is no time for second-guessing abilities. If I die here by their hands, so be it. They are formidable; there is no shame in it. But if I were to die in that damned tavern, in that damned city, cowering and shaking or fleeing for my life while they overrun the world because too few were prepared to stand against them...that, there is shame in.
   There is no good excuse to leave this fight to others. We are all of this world. Even the orcs and the draenei call Azeroth home, and any who spit on that - and even blame them for leading them here or contributing to their ranks - should stop to consider the fact that these are more hands to raise weapons against them in the defence of our native home.
   I might sound haughty, pretentious, pious, but I am embracing this resolve of mine. It is right, it is real, and I do my family proud by wearing it as I am. And I do myself proud. If I die, I die well. If I live, then I pray I live because we pushed back the Burning Legion's most recent attempt to consume this world.
   But whatever happens, at least I was not sitting in a tavern, listening to the feats of others being exaggerrated or played down. And who knows? Perhaps my name will appear in one of these recounts.
   Yes, I'm in a humourous mood. It must be the terror at what I know is outside of this tent...

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The New Invasion Trend

   To be honest, I don't know why I'm surprised, especially because I have to admit guilt to it too. These demon invasions are, frankly, awesome, and I love that they're supposed to increase in frequency on the run-up to the expansion's release, and while it's true that everyone will have all the rewards by then, I think it's more for the sake of atmosphere. After all, the Burning Freaking Legion is coming.
   But I've noticed a trend is emerging: people heading to the invasion sites and just sitting there.
   Like I said: I have to admit guilt to this. I actually started doing this on Friday, not two days after the events began on EU servers. Invasions took about 10 minutes, so they were nice and fast, and because I wanted the gear rewards as well as the transmog, I would move everyone over to where the invasion was happening at about 9, 10am, and I would log in, have my character sit in the inn, and I'd reap the benefits on WoW while seeing to my at-home workout. It takes me about an hour, so I'd back and forth very quickly between circuits to swap characters over every 10 minutes, then bugger off and AFK through the invasion.
   I do participate properly when I'm not exercising, but I've noticed that other people have cottoned on to the fact that, as long as you're in the invasion zone, you can get the chests without getting in combat once. And because of that, invasions are taking about 20 minutes now because no one is doing anything.

   Do as I say, not as I do. It's irritated me seeing it, and when I set my characters up before my workout yesterday morning I saw other people doing exactly the same, running into the Crossroads inn and AFKing.
   I got this screenshot when I came back to the Crossroads today at about 64% of Stage 3 purposely to see if many people were leeching.
   I've decided to stop doing it now for a number of reasons:
1: it takes too long for everyone else
2: to set an example
3: to save Azeroth.
   And, no, I've not completed any of the sets, I've actually had seriously rotten luck with drops and I would still benefit from 'playing' the game like this until I've managed. But I'm not going to.
   This event wasn't made for the sake of it, and while, to a degree, it is filler content and a means to build hype for the expansion, Blizzard knows that most people who are getting the expansion already pre-ordered it. They're under no obligation, really, to provide us with new content three weeks before something like Legion is released, especially when most of us have already paid for it, but it's for the atmosphere, the severity, and to get the story where it needs to be. And, I suppose, maybe to draw in an extra month of subs, but a lot of people probably would have resubbed in the month leading up to Legion to dust off their characters.

   "I don't want to play the game, I just want the rewards" - it's the kind of mentality that encourages the fast-track 'unlock collectables' for 89p and stuff that Ubisoft brought out for Assassin's Creed. For people who 'don't have the time' - it's a freaking video game, it's not life! You play when you do have the time; games are, by definition, 'hobbies' and 'passtimes'.
    *Ahem* Anyway.

   I'm writing this post, really, to make a vow not to use this crappy tactic for the sake of gear I'll be replacing in a fortnight, and especially not at the expense of low level alts who are trying to avoid questing and dungeoning for the upteenth time to get to max level. I've been getting about 10 levels a day on my dwarf mage (yes, I made an Alliance, and it feels so wrong running towards blue flags for safety) through the invasions, which I've been using as an alternative to the neutral questing zones, and it's starting to irritate me when I see arrogant level 100s sitting on their flying mounts over Westfall doing bugger all while I'm running around killing everything at level 45 so they can get all the rewards. So when I went on Daeaye, Atherya, Spinegrinder and so on, I've been making a point of doing as much damage and killing as much as I can, to make a point. Even if all I end up doing is helping the AFKers get their rewards quicker.

   Well, that's not all I'm doing. I'm saving Azeroth, yo.

   How many of you are guilty of the same thing? Come on, confession time. Hang your head along side me.

Entry 6 - Upheaval

33rd Day of Summer

   The Horde is in turmoil. Vol'jin has fallen from the touch of fel magic and he has named, of all people, the Dark Lady, Sylvanas, as his successor. I would never speak publicly, and I hesitate even to write it down, but I question the wisdom in such a decision.
   And yet...who else could take the mantle? Baine is too young, too inexperienced, and I know that our esteemed Regent Lord is looked upon by the others about as fondly as the Dark Lady.
   I fear, deeply, what will become of the Horde under her rule. It is true that we sin'dorei have not had the best interests of the other races at heart, but the Forsaken...they have done too much against all of us as a means to expand their own positions. They cannot reproduce, so they turn the unwilling dead - humans, for the most part, and that, understandably, does not sit well with them, and as she has waged war against the people of Gilneas, it is no secret that King Greymane bears even less fondness for her. But she has not acted favourably within the Horde, either; slow to offer her aid and concerned only with what she stands to gain for her own people. We sin'dorei may just about fall into that category if she lapses into sentimentality, but I fail to see a circumstance in which that could happen unless she were to make amends with her surviving sister and allow herself to feel again.
   Garrosh thought only of the orcs, and I fear Sylvanas could turn the same way. Her next choices, those in the face of the Legion, the Alliance, and the Horde, will be crucial.

   But these thoughts weigh too much. None will be given time for duplicity or revenge in the face of what is coming, and any that are would be fools to embrace it. But though I know the only thing worthy of present thought is what is 'right' for Azeroth, the stifling uncertainty that has come with yet another tumultuous shift in leadership has left me increasingly inclined to turn my thoughts inwards and leave the city.

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

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Sunday, 14 August 2016

Entry 5 - Elvenkind

31st Day of Summer

   Despite the increasingly hostile atmosphere, I've found myself coming into the The Wyvern's Tail more eagerly these past two days, driven by a need for news - no, more than a need, a hunger. Some masochistic part of me cannot bear to be away, that I might miss something vital. It's not that I find comfort in the bottom of a tankard - not entirely, anyway - but that I find some comfort in what I don't hear.
   But I never expected...this. An interest; a fascination.
   A hope.
   Elves - sin'dorei and kal'dorei alike - have been seen leaping in and fighting the demons back with unnatural agility. They wield twin glaives, it's said, and for some the glow of their eyes is green. Not unnusual for sin'dorei, of course, but for those with skin of lavender and indigo, all of which are tattooed, such a thing shouldn't be.
   And every time a story rises of a single elf's unlikely victory over a tidal wave of demons, one word always stands out: 'Betrayer'.
   Every single one of these impossible elves are said to resemble Illidan himself to some degree or another.
   And it is for this that I find myself eagerly eavesdropping this evening.
   They haven't raised a hand against the Horde nor the Alliance, huge battalions of which both fight valiantly to hold the demons back, but they're not filling them in on the secrets to their success, either. They seem to be a third faction, a mix of two elves who should have been at odds with one another joined instead by a bloodlust, a hatred so deep it's said to manifest itself and grow stronger with every demon they fell.
   But where did they come from? And where did they learn this skill? These questions seem to be on everyone's lips...but I find myself almost curious enough to go and see them for myself.
   I was in Northrend, I fought back the rogue Scourge and the last loyal stragglers of Arthas's reign - and I hold no shame in admitting that I have never felt so alive as I did when I plunged my axe into those wretched things - and I came out of that alive. Better than alive, in fact. I was taught to fight.
   But...the Scourge and the Burning Legion are not on par with one another. Mindless, shuffling undead. The art of deception and subtlty was not in the nature of most of them.
   But the demons, they are clever. I've seen the intelligence even in the eyes of cackling imps as they blast comically miniature fireballs at beetles. In fact, I'm convinced that that very stupidity is an act. And it's for that that I would not be so quick to presume I could stand against them.

   And yet so many are still trying to do so. The paladin of the Argent branches, who took me in and guided me in the hostile north; the Siame-Quashi who the Warchief has sent out to protect the people of Kalimdor rather than keep himself alone safe; the druids of the Cenarion Circle who fight for the land itself, and these elves with features, drive and agility akin to the Betrayer.
   In short, all of the warriors of the Horde, the Alliance, and everything that has formed to bridge them over the decades. They're all doing so, with what powers and strengths they have individually honed.
   Why can I not do the same?

   Even as I write that, a second voice chimes in my mind with a simple truth: they have all been trained in their arts and practices. I have received a few months of tuition and a year or so of practise, killing mindless monsters.
   I would die within moments.

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

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Saturday, 13 August 2016

Entry 4 - Doubts

29th Day of Summer

   There's truth to it - all of it. There have been increasing whispers and doubts throughout the city; Orgrimmar's streets are more packed than they've ever been before but the atmosphere is far from social. Everyone is keeping to themselves, sending wary glances to anyone they pass - there are people I know to be close friends who now regard eachother with suspicion, and that tension is reaching out to others around them like tendrils of shadow, intangible but somehow definitely there. It's oppressive. Even I am succumbing, and ever since I heard someone torn between weeping and whispering hushed promises to themselves in the room beside me, I've been avoiding the tavern. In fact I'm inclined to leave the city altogether. Despite the exposure of Durotar's harsh terrain, it somehow feels safer. There are no eyes out there, no whispers in the dark.
   And yet I can't bring myself to do it. I can't tear myself away from the need to know, to overhear from others exactly what is happening, every single update be it fact or hearsay - sometimes rumours can provide more than truth. Whether dreadlord infiltrators are a truth or not, it reveals that there are people among us with the intent to deceive, and I cannot, in good conscience, leave the people I've come to call my friends in their reach.
   But what can I do? Nowhere is safe, and I know they would not leave if I told them to. They turn a blind eye to what is happening, too afraid to leave Orgrimmar for it would mean they acknowledge the implications, that even our homes, our sanctuaries, cannot offer us any kind of protection. And what is a home if not that? This city has been providing that to them far longer than it has to me; I only returned from Northrend recently - indeed, I feel more affection for the grasslands of the Grizzly Hills than I do Orgrimmar's great gates. But...I think I do understand their reluctance. Orgrimmar has long been a fortress, and none, even those who live beyond its walls, would wish to believe that the towering gates could be circumvented as easily as rumours suggest.
   But that's what infiltrators are trained to do. What use would there be in planting spies or corruptors in easily-accessed settlements? It would be a waste of valuable skills, be they demons, orcs, men or elves.
   I don't think for a moment to defend the actions of these infiltrators, nor to justify the folly of anyone who stubbornly remains here...but I understand.

   Despite the atmosphere that seems to be encouraging the spread of mistrust, I will remain for the moment. I will have to make a decision soon, either to stay here or return to Quel'Thalas. I find that neither appeal to me, but I see little other choice.

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Entry 3 - Whispers

28th Day of Summer

   People have been talking in taverns. Travellers walk in with torment in their eyes and they speak of things I wish I'd never overheard. They've seen things I don't dare to imagine, and yet the images haunt my dreams.
   They're here, they say. The Legion. Dark shapes in the sky, sickly green glows, and an unmistakably evil hum in the air.
   I can feel it myself. There is truth to what they say.
   I look around and see other sin'dorei with the same quiet terror in their eyes. They can feel it, too. Our affinity for magic has weakened us before it; we can feel it and we can't escape it. We cannot stick our fingers in our ears, we cannot squeeze our eyes shut tight; we are followed by it in our every waking moment...
   How many will be driven to madness by this? And are the kaldorei suffering the same way?
   There is a trio of mages sat at a table not far from me. They're usually loud and boisterous - happy people. But this evening, they're silent. I wonder if they can sense it, too.
   And I wonder what the warlocks must be feeling. Do they fear the voluntary arrival of the demons they've subjugated for so long for their own ends? Or do they welcome it?
   I know that I am a hypocrite to think so - my people turned to fel magic in an hour of need, and it taints even my blood - but I cannot help a disgust towards the practice, and though I wish I could hesitate lumping them all in together, to reach so very deeply into the cesspool of fel magic for strength rather than need...I cannot fathom it.
   I can only hope that, somehow, there are a few among the warlocks who will not succumb to the pull of the fel magic, that they will not sell their souls entirely, and that they will be key in holding the Burning Legion at bay.

   Because, no matter what the majority of this and every other tavern might say, the Burning Legion is here.

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

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Monday, 8 August 2016

Entry 2 - Premonitions

25th Day of Summer

   I have a feeling, but it's one I've been unable to put into words even in my own mind, where I can accept a jumble of images and words as an answer and make some sense of it. Writing it down is another matter, and speaking of it, impossible.
   It's more than dread. It's more than terror. It runs deeper than any feeling I've ever had. I give it a moment of thought and my throat closes up, and if I could squeeze my voice through I'd surely only squeak.
   I'd say that...oh I hesitate even to put this into words. I'd say that this is what a premonition might feel like. Whatever I'm experiencing, it's accompanied by a sense of certainty. Something is about to happen. And as I look down at this ink smudged pamphlet, I have an awful idea of what it could be.
   Light preserve us. Only once in my life have I wished to be so wrong, but I fear even Tharion's death pales in comparison to this.
   Please let me be wrong.
   Please let me be wrong.

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

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Thursday, 4 August 2016

Get The Archguardians Of Laceria For Free!

   Yup, just a little heads up to let you know that from today until August the 8th, my debut fantasy novel, The Archguardians of Laceria, is available to download for free from Amazon. You don't need a Kindle to read it, Amazon's free Kindle app can be easily downloaded and installed onto your PC, mac, laptop, tablet, smart phone, etc, so anyone can read it easily without having to pay a penny! For the app OR the book!
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   I'll be releasing the book on other platforms in September, including the iBookstore, Nook, Kobo and so on, but for now it's an Amazon exclusive, which is why I'm able to offer a free book promotion at all!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Entry 1 - Doomsayers

17th Day of Summer

   The Legion is coming.
   After all this time.
   I've heard the stories, just as everyone else has; tales of waves of demons rolling over the hills, devouring, destroying everything in their path, taking no prisoners but those they intend to corrupt with their own darkness, that they might be useful to them in their next campaign.
   I think that's what unsettles me all the more: we are nothing to them. If they succeed in taking Azeroth, they will simply keep going, onto the next world, then the next, and the next. Nothing borne of this world can beat them.
   But...I suppose they were never truly gone. Pockets of demons and fel corruption have lingered here and there, and warlocks still 'grace' us with their abilities in tight spots, summoning demons from the nether as if calling a pet cat. And from what I can tell, in most circumstances, the demons are almost as obedient.

   I watched the Scourge destroy my home, it killed my brother, and that, I thought, was torment enough. Now the images I'm subjected to at the hands of my own nightmares makes it seem trivial. After all, what is a scar in the land when compared to its total annihilation?
   The demons seek to destroy us, devour our magic, eradicate any trace of order. They have tried time and time again, directly and through means of frightening subterfuge - the orcs, the Lich King. It is true that Azeroth has beaten them on every count...but I feel my final shreds of hope fading. Perhaps that's why I've taken to writing a diary again after all the troubles in Northrend. To try and regain some of my naivety.
   I blame the warlocks. Their use of demonic magic and summoning demons to their aid. They must be responsible, somehow - that kind of power simply can't come without immense repercussions. But they're so arrogant in its use that they probably think they have complete control.
   Warlocks will be of no use to us if the Legion truly arrives. They will be a weak link in our defences and it will be all too easy for the Legion to manipulate them and plant spies in our midst.

   Mark my words: the warlocks will have their part to play.

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

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Grove Warden, At Last

   It was a rest day today, which meant my morning was free rather than spending it exercising. Seeg had been saying for a while that we should go for the Grove Warden, and today we saw someone selling a run and went for it. Seeg hasn't played in ages and I'm still wasting my time with Jakur of Ordon (though I did take time out from farming him to farm pamphlets - oh the joys of WoW) so we hadn't really seen anyone sell it until now.

   And of course Seeg upset everyone by getting the Edict of Argus on his first ever Archimonde kill - I got Archimonde's belt, so that's kind of cool.
   So yep - a good Wednesday, and a mount I'd wanted since its model was first released ticked off of my list.