Written by | Posted September 8, 2015 – 9:51 pm Descent and Ascent

It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – was Gromnor dead? Was he really in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms, somewhere […]

Descent and Ascent
comment Comments Off on Descent and Ascent Written by on September 8, 2015 – 9:51 pm

It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – was Gromnor dead? Was he really in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms, somewhere in probably old Lordaeron? Was he really poisoned? Confirming information meant entering the spirit world, and the easiest place to do that was in the Isles, where she knew she would be watched properly, in case something went wrong in the otherworld.

Handler Marnlek greeted her at the flightpoint. “‘Allo, miss. You be stayin’ here tonight?”

“Yes, and probably tomorrow as well. Is Mishiki around?”

“Ya, she’s over by the fire. Bom’bay blew sometin’ up yesterday, so she’s been watchin’ him.”

“Thank you, Marnlek. Be well.”

He nodded, turning back to the wyvern she had flown in on and finding it a spot in the stable. Ankona walked over to where the herbalist was sitting, next to a huge cauldron and with her little jars of herbs strewn about her. The novice witchdoctor near her had scorch marks across half his face, and he was dejectedly milling some herbs together with a mortar and pestle.

“Oh! Ankona! ‘Allo! How you being?” Mishiki got up and hugged the druid warmly. “You been away too long. Come back to teach again?”

Ankona shook her head. “I’m just here for a day or two. I need the help of Zen’tabra, and your help, to make a journey, and I felt safest doing so from here.”

Mishiki nodded. “Alright. Well, you just say how I can help, and I’ll get you situated.”

“I need … well. I need adder’s tongue and ghost mushroom. I have everything else.”

“Oooh. Big stuff. You got a big journey to do then? What’s wrong?” The herbalist began sorting through jars, looking for the tiny white mushrooms and the wispy green ferns.

“A… new friend has been kidnapped, and we need to know if he’s still alive, and where he is. So I’m going to see if I can find him – or traces of him – in the otherworld. We scryed for him, but don’t know if the arcane pathways are being manipulated.”

Mishiki handed over two small envelopes of dried herbs. “Well, good luck to you. You know how to use these. Tell Zen’tabra I send my best. She hasn’t been over here in a month of Sundays.”

*** *** ***

As night fell over the Echo Isles, Ankona secured the door to a little hut near the central fire in the village. The late summer night was warm, but she built a fire in the fireplace anyway, heating a kettle of water and carefully preparing the herbs from Mishiki. The ghost mushrooms she sliced into tiny discs, as thin as she could get them. The adder’s tongue she shredded until it resembled fine grass. Three dried purple lotus sat waiting – they would steep whole. Once the kettle boiled, she placed all three herbs into a large bowl and covered them with boiling water.

She lit her pipe, filling the room with the sweet smells of apple and pipe tobacco. Shapes formed and disappeared in the smoke as it reflected in the firelight, and she began to chant, shaking her bone and shell rattle, calling on Bwonsamdi. As the herbs steeped, an intoxicating aroma began to creep into the edges of the room, and after awhile, Ankona put down her rattle.

Bwonsamdi, take this gift of chant, and half of these herbs, that I may walk in your realm unharmed.

She poured out half the thick herbal liquor, letting it soak into the soft dirt on the floor.

Stocking the fire up with a few extra logs, she settled herself down on the little cot. Before she lay down she took three small sips of the herbal brew, and then lay in the flickering firelight, waiting for the otherworld to come for her.

*** *** ***

Like a feather, floating from a great height, she descended into the ground. Beneath the sand. Beneath the waves. Beneath the foundations of the earth. Deep into the timeless darkness she descended, floating lightly as though her spirit weighed nothing at all.

For an eternity she floated.

And then she reached the bottom. In the inky blackness, an illuminated skull grinned at her. It floated off, and she followed it. Step by step, through the darkness. Eventually she came upon a parliament of skulls.

Greetings, beloved dead. I come to you seeking answers. I come seeking an orc named Gromnor. Has he come to join you?

No, No, he is not here. Their laughter rang out in the emptiness, childlike and singsong.

Then I must seek for him elsewhere. Blessings upon your heads and houses, beloved dead.

Stay, Stay, stay here with us. The skulls began to dance around her, faster and faster. Stay, stay, stay here with us! With all her might, she jumped, and they clattered into one another, falling into a pile, and she was rising.

*** *** ***

Soon the darkness began to lighten, and shadows appeared, and flickered, and she passed by them all, ever rising upward toward the flickering stars. She broke through the ground, through the waves, through the sand, through the trees, until she was flying high in the air, her spirit soaring over the waters as she flew to the east. The sea fell away beneath her as she darted through the sky, eternity falling away like the ocean waves beneath her, until far in the flickering distance she saw the land she was looking for. With effort, she conjured up Ellasa’s words – he had been through Brill. The rogue had drugged him. She brought up Gromnor’s face, and the scent of the rogue – nagrand cherries and leather boots.

Focus.

She flew over the ruined town of Southshore – no restless spirits there anymore. Over Lordamere Lake. Past Fenris Isle and Silverpine Forest. In the darkness, they all passed by beneath her, the scent of cherries leading her forward. She came to Brill. Yes, they had been here.

Then the edges of her vision clouded over, and the town beneath her faded away into nothingness.

*** *** ***

When she awoke in the tiny hut on the Echo Isles, she couldn’t tell if her eyes were open or closed. Inside the hut it was cold and pitch black – the fire had long died. She sat up and her head swam and her stomach threatened to reject its contents. Ankona stumbled her way to the door, fumbling at the lock, and then gasped in deep breaths of the pre-dawn sea air.

Zen’tabra sat guard outside. “Ya be wakeful then. It has been many hours.”

The words swam in her head like visions. Many hours. Many hours. Many hours. In the east, the first flickers of golden light appeared. The other druid handed her a waterskin, and she drank thirstily. “Did ya find him?”

Ankona shook her head. “No, but he is not dead. I need rest. You may go now, thank you for sitting with me.”

“Anytime, Ani – ya know that. Walk lightly.”

As the Zen’tabra walked toward the training grounds, Ankona reached out with her mind to the blue crystal she now carried with her. “‘Tia? Are you there? I have news.”

The Stink Eye, Part II: You remind me of the babe
comment Comments Off on The Stink Eye, Part II: You remind me of the babe Written by on August 4, 2015 – 12:22 pm

An old story, reposted here as I’m shaking the mothballs off Ankona and needed an easy way to show people a little bit about the (batshit) things she gets up to. Enjoy, and don’t be too creeped out!

It really was a pretty thing, now that she got a good look at it. The polished blonde wood and glinting enamel was cleverly made, and shone with a soft reflectiveness that suggested – once it was properly installed – that it might even have the look of being wet, like a real eye. It fitted together without a seam – she’d been sure of that, nothing to catch on soft tissue or eyelashes.

Ankona had spent the better part of three days preparing to turn it from some wooden bits and various herbal components into as close as she could come to a functioning eye. Verdus was recovering well after his treatment at the lake, and his subsequent cleansing by Ambika, and she hoped to have his eye done in short order.

She looked at her pipe. She’d need to be smoking soon – this kind of work didn’t respond the same without the sacrifice of pipe leaf. The Elf would gripe at her, but eventually she was going to have to smoke around Verdus too. She’d open the windows, but there was no getting around it. For now, though, she was away from the recovering Tauren, and probably better for it too. The fewer questions he asked, the fewer interruptions she would have. This was going to be a tricky bit of work.

Lighting several large taper candles, she settled down to work at the table in the little inn she was staying in. She had paid good money to not be interrupted tonight. Set out in front of her was the now much smaller, leathery looking, salt-and-heat cured eye, which thankfully was only unpleasant looking and not unpleasant smelling any longer. Next to it sat a small candle, barely wider than her little finger, several vials of oil, pouches of herbs, a mortar and pestle, pen, ink, and parchment, a tiny stone with a hole drilled through it, strands of red and green thread, a needle, and an awl. Her bone and shell rattle sat nearby, as did her raven wing fan.

She lit a little disc of charcoal and piled it with resin, stocked her pipe and lit that too, and settled in to work her magic.

Thick smoke filled the room, filled her lungs, and she found her trance. Taking up pen and ink, she slowly, painstakingly, created a sigil on one side of a tiny piece of parchment. Within the sigil, no bigger than an egg, was a bear, a lion, a stag, a sleek orca, a large bird, an owlbear, and a tree. The figures danced within and about each other in a dizzying pattern that seemed to shift around the edges of the parchment. On the other side, she wrote Verdus’s name in Shu’halo characters, so many times as it took to fill the paper.

With the needle, she wrote his name into the waxy flesh of the little candle, spiraling around and around, until the whole surface was covered. She counted out herbs and woods into her mortar and pestle, pounding them into a fine dust. Kingsblood, Terocone, Icethorn, Peacebloom, Lotus all went into the mix. Then the dust went onto a piece of black silk cloth, spread on the table. She uncorked the vials of oil, dressing the candle with each one in turn, and then rolled the candle in the herb dust until it was fully coated with oil and herbs.

With a flick, she lit the dressed candle and dripped some of the wax on the parchment, before standing the candle in it to burn down while she did the rest of her work. This was the easy part.

She relit her pipe, and began a soft chant under her breath, making it up as she went along, about Verdus seeing the truth of things, and seeing through things, and seeing colorful things, and seeing everything. Taking up the needle and red thread, she carefully stitched the little stone over the pupil of the leathery, preserved eye, so it appeared to be looking through the hole. As she worked, leaves began to appear in her hair, blue to match the mohawk at first, and then turning to green and gold. The chant turned into a soft song.

With green thread, she stitched the sigil onto the back of the eye, tiny painstaking stitch after tiny painstaking stitch, careful never to prick her fingers with the little curved needle. Once the symbol was clear, she rolled the entire eye in the herbs on the cloth, careful now not to touch it with her fingers, only with the cloth.

The candles burned lower in the room – the small one she had so carefully dressed was little more than a smudge of wax now, completely covering the parchment sigil.

In the cavity of the newly constructed wooden eye, she lay the wax-soaked parchment, sigil side down. On top of that she lay the decorated eye, as though its pupil was looking through the pupil of the wooden eye. She relit her pipe, the room now thick with choking pipe smoke and resinous incense.

Taking up the rattle, she began to sing in earnest, her skin taking on the appearance of bark, twigs sprouting from her shoulders and hair, full leaved and vibrant. With each pass of the rattle, Ankona grew less, and the Tree grew more.

After some time, with hands stiffened into bark and wood, she set down the rattle. Using the herb covered cloth, she snapped the two sides of the eye together. With a soft click, they joined as one piece – and with a wave of her raven fan, the seam melted into nothing.

The eye glinted in the candlelight. After getting rid of the remaining herb dust, She wrapped the eye, carefully, in the black silk cloth, passed it three times through the incense smoke, and then blew a lungful of pipe smoke into it, as though to give it life of its own.

Ankona set down her pipe, song fading, and her skin slowly regained its supple blue hue. The wrapped, enchanted eye now only needed to be bound to its new owner – and that would mean going back to Verdus.

Very First Impressions
comment Comments Off on Very First Impressions Written by on November 14, 2014 – 7:32 am

So I haven’t finished the intro quests yet (the server queues from the reduced server capacity due to the DDOS attacks meant I only got about an hour to play yesterday), but I’m finding that Draenor is pretty cool so far.

  • Khadgar is a badass
  • I like having a Draenei as a main character – both Maraad and Yrel are pretty cool
  • I like that the elite attack force that goes through the portal is extremely diverse. There are elves, dwarves, etc. I don’t remember any gnomes, which makes Annie Mae sad, but still – it’s not all humans, which is a huge improvement.
  • Going through the portal and seeing the huge Iron Horde army on the other side was nicely reminiscent of going through the portal into Hellfire Peninsula and seeing the demon army there. Nice touch.
  • The music is great. Also, the music in the Blackrock Quarry quotes from the WCIII soundtrack Blackrock and Roll, which makes my little nerd heart happy.
  • I really like that the intro quests are zoned, so I’m not doing them with 4 million of my closest friends. I know it’ll get crazy once we get into SMV, but for now it’s been fun just having it be SSH* and I.
  • As usual, the first zone is quite pretty.

Fortunately, since I wasn’t in any of the actual populated zones yet, I ended up missing out on the worst of the server crashes, bugged quests, and overloaded zones. I expect that will get somewhat better with today’s maintenance, but this weekend may still be a bit of a clusterfuck.

It really sucks being an adult with a job and an early bedtime at times like this. (I had to take off work last weekend for my mom’s birthday (my parents live about 300 miles from me, so it’s a bit of a drive), so I couldn’t take off for the launch.) Still, I know other people will take things slow, and I should have plenty of people to quest and instance with over the weekend from my raid.

*SSH is Spaceship Husband. He doesn’t want me using his real or character names online, so I’ve had to come up with a new name for him. Since he’s a rocket scientist, he is Spaceship Husband, or SSH, around here.

A Girl and her Dog
comment Comments Off on A Girl and her Dog Written by on November 13, 2014 – 12:30 pm

The morning of the all hands summon to the Blasted Lands, Aely went for a walk. The late fall air was clear and cool, and leaves crunched under their feet in the less-traveled parts of the streets. She and Roger took the long way around Old Town, south through Tanner Circle and down Bulwarks, across Willum and then up Irandun’s way. Roger treed a squirrel at one corner, and read his dog-mail at every mailbox and fence post.

At Rose’s Lane they turned north, and the sounds of smithing rang out over the street. The Silver Shield sat on the corner with Irandun. Aely opened the shop door with a gentle ringing of small silver bells. Two wolfhounds looked up from their blankets in one corner, noticed Roger, and came to greet him. Monk and Lily and Roger were well acquainted, and Roger joined them on their blankets as Aely went and waited at the counter.

“Aely! It’s so good to see you.” Bess Cross’ round face beamed with delight at seeing her former tenant. “Do you want a biscuit? They’re still warm!”

“I’ll ne’er turn down one ay yir biscuits, Bess, an’ ye ken it well. How’s th’ new tenant?”

“Gilbert’s a good lad. He’s working with Bryan, training to become a smith himself. It’s good to have someone downstairs again. So what brings you here?” Bess produced a basket of biscuits and a small ceramic bell of butter.

Aely helped herself. “It’s… well, it’s na a fun errand. They’ve called us ta th’ front – they’re asking fir volunteers ta go through th’ portal.”

“Through the portal? Don’t they not know where the foul thing goes?”

“They dinna ken, no, but there’s no way we’ll win this war against these Orcs without closing it down, an’ that’s goin’ ta take bein’ on the other side of it. I’ve decided to go – with Arrens gone, and most of the Riders takin’ posts there, I figure I could be of good help.”

“Oh Aely, are you sure?”

“Yeh, I’m sure. I’ve been idle too long, an’ I dinna ken what will happen if those of us wi’ experience dinna go through and figure this mess out. Except, I need a big favor of ye, before I go.”

“Of course – if it’s in our power, we’ll do it. Is it your armor?”

“No, that’s in good repair. It’s… well, it’s Roger.” Roger looked up at the sound of his name, tail thumping on the wooden floor. “I dinna think I can take him with me.”

“Why not?”

“He’s na as young as he used ta be, an’ I dinna want ta bring him inta th’ wilds ay some Light forsaken place where he’ll na be able ta get proper rest. If we manage ta stabilize this thing an’ get a forward base set up, I’ll try ta send fir him, but … I canna think it’s fair ta expect him ta be a fighter wi’ me anymore. Na when he canna even go runnin’ with me in th’ mornings.”

“Well, of course he’s welcome here. He gets on so well with Monk and Lily, and this place was his home too for so long. But are you sure? He’s been with you on the front for so many years.”

She bit her lip. “Aye, I’m sure.” She sat down on the floor next to the mass of dogs, ruffling Lily’s ears and offering all three of them bits of jerky. “I’d rather him be here safe, than lose him on th’ field. He deserves better than that.”

Aely opened her bag and produced a large sack of jerky treats, a tattered cotton rope knot, and an exceptionally shaggy looking stuffed rabbit. “These are his things. He dinna need much, an’ I ken he’ll enjoy walkies wi’ Monk an’ Lily. An’ I’d like ta pay a little fir his room an’ board. I’ve six months or so here fir ye an’ Bryan, so ye dinna have ta feed him on yir own.”

“You don’t have to…”

“… yeh I do. He’s mine, an’ I ought ta do what I can fir him,” Aely interrupted. “Please, let me do at least this much.” Aely stood up. “An’ thank ye, both, fir doin’ this fir us.”

“Of course, I’m happy to help, you know that. And if the buzzboxes work on the other side of that foul portal, I’ll keep you up to date on how we’re all doing. Maybe Rog can even say hello.”

“Yeh, maybe. I’d like that.” She called Roger over. He sniffed at her hands, looking for more jerky. “No, Rog, no more jerky for now. Ye need to be a good dog, an’ mind Bess an’ Bryan okay? Dinna torment Monk either – share yir toys. I’ll send fir ye as soon as I can.” She wrapped her arms around his neck, and he leaned in against her, almost toppling her over backwards. “Oof, an’ be careful about yir leanin’, ye big oaf!” She laughed, wiping away tears.

“Okay, I’ve got ta go before I lose my nerve. Thank ye again, Bess. An’ Roger, I’ll be back fir ye as soon as I can.”

Descent and Ascent

September 8, 2015 – 9:51 pm

It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – …

The Stink Eye, Part II: You remind me of the babe

August 4, 2015 – 12:22 pm

An old story, reposted here as I’m shaking the mothballs off Ankona and needed an easy way to show people a little bit about the (batshit) things she gets up to. Enjoy, and don’t be too creeped out!

It really …

Very First Impressions

November 14, 2014 – 7:32 am

So I haven’t finished the intro quests yet (the server queues from the reduced server capacity due to the DDOS attacks meant I only got about an hour to play yesterday), but I’m finding that Draenor is pretty cool so …

A Girl and her Dog

November 13, 2014 – 12:30 pm

The morning of the all hands summon to the Blasted Lands, Aely went for a walk. The late fall air was clear and cool, and leaves crunched under their feet in the less-traveled parts of the streets. She and Roger …

Counting down to Warlords

November 11, 2014 – 3:09 pm

What a long strange trip it’s been. I’ll be the first to admit that, at the beginning, I wasn’t sure Pandaria was going to be for me. I’ve made clear my dislike of daily quests, and that seemed to be …

Elevation

October 24, 2014 – 12:01 pm

Squire Benjamin William Sullivan stood in the middle of Light’s Hope Chapel in his underpants.

Actually, it was white linen pants and a shift, but the effect was approximately the same. The little chapel was warm, on the edge of …

Introducing the Newest Anna

June 29, 2014 – 4:39 pm

So I’m not really in a position where I should be creating alts. This, of course, does nothing to deter me from making alts when the inspiration strikes. I’ve been really enjoying my Alliance hunter, and she’s my raiding main …

Deconstruction

November 19, 2013 – 4:46 pm

Bad things are happening in Stormwind – and beyond.

The Hand of Lothar, they call themselves.

Yva Darrows was their first target.

Tirith and Aely were their second and third.

They have since… expanded their reach and escalated their methods …

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