Memoirs: Midnight

Stars shone in the clear midnight sky, lightly illuminating the ground below. The air was silent, undisturbed by wind or animal. A fox, sniffing through tree roots in search of a meal, suddenly froze and cocked an ear, sensing something. Branches whispered in the canopy above.

***

The horse walked slowly into the sleeping village. It was led by a slim, dark-haired woman robed in a black-edged purple dress. Draped across the horse’s saddle lay a man wrapped in a torn and bloody traveling cloak. He was obviously seriously injured, with a wide gash across his forehead, and was not moving.

The woman stopped outside the stables at the inn and tethered the horse before turning to check on the man. She then briefly disappeared inside before returning with a stable-hand, who lifted down the injured traveler and carried him into the inn. The woman made to follow but paused in the doorway, glancing left at the forest’s edge. She was certain something had moved in the corner of her eye, but the trees were still. She frowned and continued inside.

***

Overhead, a shadow shifted imperceptibly. But the fox could neither see nor hear anything. Growling dismissively, it continued its search.

A Public Service Announcement

For some time now, I have been deliberating as to whether or not I will continue blogging here at der Hexenmeister, and unfortunately I have now come to a decision – I will not.

While you can read about the issue in greater detail in my earlier post, the main problem is that for me, as well as many of you no doubt, this blog is intrinsically linked with World of Warcraft, a game and community with which I am no longer involved. I simply wouldn’t feel comfortable with changing the entire theme of the blog and associating the name with another topic, but I am likewise unhappy with the blog as it currently exists; in a rather subsistent state. The only real option that then remains is to wind things up and move on.

With that said, you can still rest assured about several things. Firstly, DHM will stay exactly where it is – while no new content will appear after I leave, I will retain ownership of the blog and make sure that all the existing content remains online and available. I’d like to think that at least some of the posts I’ve written might be interesting to someone in the future! Secondly, I will not be giving up blogging. I don’t know where, when, or on what topic, but I will continue to blog – and that will include more fictional writing, such as the continuation of my Memoirs series. More details will follow.

I won’t be finishing things off here immediately – there are one or two more posts I’d like to write yet – but it won’t be long. Stay tuned for more information, anyway.

Vel.

P.S. In case you hadn’t guessed, no Weekly Warlock Wind-Up this week.

A point worth addressing

Earlier today, I received this comment to one of my puzzle posts:

“Wtf. I thought this was a Warlock blog. Need some Cataclysm info and musings. Snap out of this madness and get back to the real business at hand.”

Now admittedly it did appear in my Spam folder alongside “I love farmville” and some paragraphs about medicinal drugs, but I think it’s probably a legitimate remark and it’s certainly worth discussing.

As I’m sure most folks who stop by here know, I quit WoW back in February. There were various reasons for packing it in but at the end of the day, I was just bored of the game. After playing for several years I’d seen all the content I wanted to see and all that was really left to do was grind for one achievement or another, and I wasn’t very interested in that. So I stopped playing, and I haven’t really looked back.

After I left Azeroth I actually stopped gaming completely for a while to focus on my studies and personal life, as well as my other hobbies. I had an extremely busy summer doing one thing or another, and there was neither the time nor the inclination to play anything. I did, however, keep this blog going, and that seems to be the issue of controversy here.

The simple truth is, I like blogging. I really do. I enjoy the sense of community that exists with other bloggers, the many different viewpoints that are publicised on any given issue, and the sheer variety of writing styles and information which can be found on blogs around the web. It’s also just nice to have my own, personal place where I can post my thoughts for the world to see. But the problem came when I realised my blog was devoted to something I didn’t actually do any more.

See, when I lost interest in playing the game, I also lost interest in WoW itself in general. I wasn’t willing to read the news and keep up with current events like I had done, and gradually the blogs and sites I read dropped away until all that remained were the ones who either didn’t talk about WoW all the time, or the ones I simply enjoyed reading for the author’s style. Unfortunately for my own blog, this obviously meant that I literally had nothing to write about. I wasn’t willing to publish content about things other than WoW, because that’s not what the blog was for, yet I couldn’t post the types of articles I used to that were full of “info and musings”, as the above comment put it. In the end, I was left with the weekly puzzle questions, which I knew were popular among at least a few people, and my increasingly rare story posts – and this is pretty much the state the blog has existed in for a few months now.

I understand that to some people my blog used to be a source of information and perhaps even entertainment, but rest assured that nobody is more frustrated about it than I am. Despite my more mathematical tendencies I love to write, and the lack of effort I put into the blog these days does bother me. It’s very easy to write up a puzzle and answer each week and simply leave it at that, but it’s nowhere near as satisfying as the times I would put up a different, 1500-word article each day for a week. Or when I took part in NaBloPoMo and posted every day for a month! But I digress.

Stated simply, DHM is no longer a World of Warcraft Warlock blog. I can’t write about anything game related because I am no longer a part of that community, and it is extremely unlikely that I will be again. At the same time, I’m reluctant to leave the blog. There are people who would miss the little content I do put up, and while I could perhaps continue to post it somewhere else, where would that be? I don’t actively write to any other blogs and, while I could start a new one, what would I write about? The thing about WoW is that it is an ever-changing subject; there is always something fresh and new to comment on, and that’s what a blog needs as a subject. The few games I do play and the other hobbies I have are essentially static, and I would soon run out of content.

So here are the big questions. Do I continue with DHM, posting the weekly puzzles and eventually getting around to continuing my fiction series, or should I start a blog somewhere else and write there? If so, what would people want me to write about? Should I just give up blogging altogether? I’ve been brooding on this issue for a few weeks now and have yet to reach any conclusions.

Your comments are most welcome.

Vel.

P.S. If any of you are on Steam, I’m playing all my current games through there under the username of – you guessed it – Veliaf. Feel free to say hello.

Memoirs: Moving On

In which Veliaf leaves Northshire Valley for the wider world.

The freezing morning air numbed Veliaf’s fingers and shocked his lungs as he stepped out of the inn to face the new day. The sun had risen not long ago and a chill mist, not yet dispersed by wind or heat, still hung above the dew-covered grasses of Northshire Valley. The ground was hard and crisp underfoot, probably signifying the beginnings of a frost, and the moon was still faintly visible in the clear sky. Temperatures in the Valley had dropped dramatically with the recent transition into November, and many in the settlement were now preparing for the harsh winter months as autumn faded away.

Leaving the frosted windows of the inn behind him, Veliaf strode across the barren forecourt and out onto the road, turning south and heading for the trail which would lead down towards the hills and, eventually, the exit from the Valley. It was a shame – he liked the area, with its peaceful vineyards and its cosy community, but mercenaries generally could not afford the luxury of staying for too long in one place. Issues of  reputation aside, the absence of work meant that he would not be able to afford his keep for the winter, and so regrettably he would have to move on and try to find a job elsewhere. Pulling his leather gloves tighter onto his hands, he strode on.

He had been walking for maybe forty minutes, following the stream which had earlier flowed by the Abbey and now gushed alongside the path, when he spotted the guard post in the distance which signalled the boundary between Northshire Valley and the rest of Elwynn Forest. The air was still chillingly cold, and the two lone guards were seated around a small fire just off to one side of the path. As Veliaf, approached, they stood up, chain-mail clanking, and the near one spoke:

“Now then sir, leavin’ for the forest are we, eh? What’ll be your business there then, eh?” The guard’s young features twisted into a suspicious frown.

“Well right now I am headed for the nearest stable to purchase a horse. Either of you two gentlemen care to direct me?” Veliaf replied curtly, annoyed at the interruption.

“How’s about I tell you that when you tell me what your business really is, eh? It’s almost winter. Most people don’t like t’ travel in winter.”

“Well, I don’t have much choice. My business is private, thank you.”

“Is that so, eh?” The guard took a step forward, blocking the path, and shifted his hand towards the sword on his belt. Before he could move further, the other guard, older and weathered, put a hand on his companion’s shoulder and addressed them both:

“Alright, calm down, this is silly. Sir, the closest stable is in Goldshire, just follow the path down into the town. Forgive my colleague here for being overly cautious but some strange traffic passes us these days, and it’s our job to keep folks safe from danger.”

Veliaf nodded. “It’s fine. Thank you for the information; I’ll be on my way now.”

Stepping around the still-tense younger guard, he subtly relaxed his hand from its grip on his concealed dagger under his traveling cloak and wrapped the worn garment around himself once more to keep out the cold. Walking through the guard post – really little more than a walled cover over a small stone bridge – he continued along the path and into the forest.

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The Imperial Guardsmen go to Liverpool

From left: Myself, Nia, Nassaya, Vahan and Snypedragon

You may recall that back in December I mentioned that my guild, the Imperial Guardsmen, would be having its first real-life meet up. I don’t think I blogged about it afterwards, but safe to say it was a success. So much of a success in fact, that we decided to have another one a couple of weeks ago, on April 7th.

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Memoirs: Bandits

In which we see Veliaf in action.

Veliaf rode quickly and quietly across the moonlit moorland, his borrowed steed moving effortlessly underneath him. It was a crisp, clear night, with the heavens unobscured by cloud, and the waxing moon shone brightly onto the grass and heather below. Coming across the remnants of an old fence, he glimpsed a torn scrap of a red woolen bandanna caught on a salient nail: Defias. Veliaf hated the word, but at least they gave him business.

The first work order in days had come in earlier that evening regarding a small homestead on the southern side of Northshire Valley. The elderly owners had been forced to flee the night before, abandoning both property and belongings, at the sight of approaching bandits on horseback, the telltale red bandannas revealing the intruders for who they were. The Defias Brotherhood was an organization of bandits and highwaymen which had sprung up several years before from the disgruntled Stonemasons, the guild which had rebuilt most of Stormwind City after the Second War. When the corrupt aristocracy in the House of Nobles had refused them payment, the workers had begun spreading disarray and unrest throughout the country, under the justification of taking what was rightfully theirs. Stealing, looting and pillaging wherever they went, they were becoming a real problem, and with the Stormwind Guard spread thin and powerless to do anything the people had begun to look to paid mercenaries to deal with the threat.

Now, as he pulled up under the tree line at the edge of a field overlooking the farm, Veliaf turned his mind towards the task at hand. He had been tasked to remove the bandits, who had apparently decided to use the buildings as a local base, although that could be a task easier said than done judging by the numbers of men below him. He counted three sitting around a campfire near the barn, and there were probably more inside. However, the lack of any perimeter guards presented an opportunity, and also gave him a key piece of information: there surely was no senior group leader, or the robbers would be better organised, and this would give him an advantage if he could surprise them.

Dismounting to tie his horse to a stout oak, Veliaf removed his sword from where it was loosely wrapped in cloth behind the saddle and attached it to his belt alongside his dagger. Leaving the mount to graze, he crept forward with one hand cautiously on his weapon to plan his attack. Thankfully the farm buildings were set out in a traditional layout that he was familiar with; the farmhouse lay to the left of a well ploughed field, the hay barn to the right, and in between were a small stone well, an outhouse and several pieces of machinery. Looking at the structures it was reasonable to assume that if the Defias needed to retreat they would head for the barn, since it was far easier to defend than the house, and therefore any surprise attack needed to come from the opposite direction to drive the men into a less defensible position. Helpfully, the light from the campfire threw dark shadows onto the barn doors, creating an ideal spot from which to ambush. Keeping an eye on the campfire, Veliaf began to descend down the slope to his right.

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Memoirs: Morning

In which we take a closer look at Veliaf.

Veliaf awoke slowly to the sound of twittering birds, blinking in the sunlight which was filtering through the inn’s slatted wooden shutters and across his pillow. Sitting upright against the headboard, he took a moment to remember where he was, and then glanced around the rented room.

The four poster bed he lay in was typical of those found in the Elwynn-style inns, with light drapes hanging from each side of the canopy and a woollen bedspread covering white sheets. Directly across from the foot of the bed was the door leading to the first floor of the inn, and next to it in the corner of the room stood a wooden wardrobe with a full-length mirror down one side. In another corner, underneath the silled window, was a small washbasin, but otherwise the room was bare save for the light overhead and a plain sheepskin rug over the floorboards.

Sliding out from underneath the covers, he stood upright on the rug, stretched with a yawn, and walked across to the basin, where he thoroughly scrubbed his face and neck with the icy water before straightening and catching sight of himself in the wardrobe’s mirror. He was of average build for a human, standing at about six feet with a toned muscular body from working long hours as a labourer, though his chest was crisscrossed with faint scars from the other side of his mercenary work. His straight, thick, brown hair hung down just below the level of his chin, which itself was covered by a neatly trimmed beard, and his intelligent brown eyes were partly obscured underneath ferocious eyebrows.

Turning away, he pulled on a light brown tunic, matching trousers and his usual leather boots. Grabbing his small hunting dagger from where it lay sheathed underneath his pillow and fixing it to his buckled belt, he pulled open the door and headed out onto the landing. After quickly giving the other doors a cursory glance, to the right was a narrow flight of stairs leading down to the ground floor, and it was these Veliaf took. Arriving out in the main area of the inn, the room appeared to be populated only by the bartender and a few other early risers.

“Ah good mornin’ to you squire! What’ll it be? A hearty breakfast? An ale to get you on your merry way?” The barman, a thickset chap in his late thirties who looked more like the local blacksmith than the chef, leant across the bar.

“Morning. I’ll take the fried breakfast thanks, but hold the ale.” Veliaf grimaced. He had never been a fan of excessive drinking, and any kind of drinking at this early hour was pretty excessive in his book.

“Certainly sir! I’ll have that ready for you in just a few moments.”

“Thanks. So, any new work in today?”

“‘Fraid not, least we haven’t had any new notices up. Haven’t had none fer days now.” He gestured over his shoulder towards an empty noticeboard hanging behind the bar pumps. “Though you could always check th’ signpost outside. Here’s yer breakfast anyhow.”

Veliaf accepted the steaming plate of food and carried it over to a table by the fireplace. He sighed. It was going to be another unpaid day.