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Archive for the ‘Anecdote’ Category

Not quitting. Moving. Closing this shop, opening a new one.

I thought long and hard to come up with a meaningful metaphor.

Imagine you run a baking shop. Imagine it is a good baking shop, by your standards anyway. You aren’t making millions, you don’t have a massive chain. It’s just you, the sole owner/proprietor/employee, in some small town somewhere. You have, say, eight thousand or so regulars, most of which you remember by name.

Time goes by. Years in fact. You bake and you bake and you bake.

You experiment sometimes. Make a bagel at least half your customers fall in love with immediately. Dip your toes into doughnuts, though a Tim Hortons opens up just down the way and forces you out of that particular market. It doesn’t matter though, your customers never abandon you.

Sometimes you take sick days, and there’s that one time you were accidentally caught up in a hilarious spy romcom starring Brad Pitt as Johnny Depp’s unwitting gay lover.

Many years in, you can feel a weight. You’re not sure what this weight is, but you can feel it. Just… a remote pressure, gently squeezing you and increasing in intensity over the course of several weeks.

You finally recognize it as a book closing. Your book. The book of the bakery.

The bakery, you see, is coming to an end.

It’s not that you suddenly dislike baking. It’s not that you suddenly don’t enjoy it or became particularly bad at it.

Something, somewhere, shifted. And now the bakery is ending.

You think about becoming a florist.

You decide to go with it.

Baking is done, now it’s all about floral arrangements.

But, you see, you can’t use the same name or the same store.

You see, cause that name, that name is a bakery. That store saw the creation of confectionaries and delightful pastries and yes, even wholesome loaves of bread from time to time.

You can’t change that, you can’t retcon it into something it isn’t. It is, and always will be, a bakery. You can’t morph it into a florist. You can’t simply remove the ovens and replace it with a greenhouse.

The bakery has become something beyond you. It has sprung from you, created a life for itself, lived and reveled as its own entity.

I can’t bring myself to kill it.

I can’t bring myself to take it out back and shoot it.

It is what it is, and shall remain so.

By opening a new place, I create something that has no history. No past, no personality. A true tabula rasa, a blank slate. A solid square of marble, untouched by the chisel.

Critical QQ is something that has already been forged, grown and developed, matured, battle hardened.

You cannot return a painting to the blank canvas it once was.

Solution?

Get a new canvas.

And with that, I proudly present Preposterous Pretentious Prattle (threepr for short), my new canvas.

I am unsure where this new place will take me. I have freedom here, total and unchecked. We shall see.

I’m not particularly fond of, nor good at, goodbyes or thanks, which is why I haven’t posted any.

What would I say? How would I thank the loyal legions?

I’d be all…

Gnomeaggedon. You are an absolute blast, in every sense of the word.

Krizzlybear. WEEABOOOOO!!!

Larisa. YOU’RE OLD.

(Seriously, if you got all us mages together, Larisa would be the kindly, grandmotherly figure everyone genuinely liked. Except, you know, don’t mess with granny, cause piss that harmless old woman off and you will be embraced with liquid streams of absolute death.)

Pike. Man, I don’t even know what to say. You and your fellow nerds-with-uterii cause my higher brain functions to fail at extremely inopportune moments daily. Fucking baller is what you are.

Rilgon. I honestly found you first as a commenter in MMO-Champ. I would actually scroll through MMO-Champ threads specifically to read your comments. Then I said “I bet this guy has a totally kickass blog.” I WAS RIGHT.

Saresa. In honour of warlocks such as yourself, every six months I level one to twenty and then delete it whilst cackling.

Do you want to delete Lolbutts, level 20 warlock?

HAHAHAHAHA YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

Megan. I’d let you corpse camp me any day. If you know what I mean. And I mean SEX.

Jong. See what I said to Megan. SERIOUSLY.

… DO YOU SEE HOW HORRIBLE THIS WOULD BE. Who wants to read like several thousand words of this?

It would take multiple days to thank everyone individually, and I would still miss people!

I mean, I’d probably fucking thank my goldfish from third grade before I remembered I forgot to thank my own mother. The stress would be unbearable. I’d be sitting here going “did I thank Tam? did I send that note to Grimmtooth? what about that e-card to Rhii? did I remember to mana-bonk theerivs? oh god what about repgrind, better double check!”

And then I’d reread like ALL THREE THOUSAND WORDS (volume one of forty nine) just to see if I missed someone, and I’d run out of paper, and I’d start writing names down in blood on my desk just to make sure.

Nobody wants that.

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To all the friends, allies and comrades I’ve had over the years.

You guys rock. We’ve had some fun times together. We’ve had some fun times apart. Sometimes we disagreed. Sometimes we laughed at noobs. Sometimes we fought tooth and nail for something we believed in. Sometimes we fought ignorance. Sometimes we lost.

Through it all, I was there. You were there. And we’ve had a fucking blast, haven’t we?

To all the enemies and adversaries I’ve made over the years.

LOL U MAD BRO?

Seriously though.

There really isn’t much to say.

I haven’t given up in the face of stress. What stress?

The trolls haven’t gotten to me. Trolls? I used to be one of those, and far better than the crap that constitutes trolling these days. For example, the only way I can actually use “LOL U MAD BRO” without punching myself in the balls is to use it ironically post-ironic.

There is no reason, no point of sudden change or sudden decision making, no pressure, no focal point.

This is simply where Critical QQ ends.

I’ve been blogging since October 2007.

The end of Critical QQ does not mark the end of blogging.

In the next couple weeks, there will be a new blog, a new domain name of some sort. The focus will be completely different though, revolving pretty much entirely around my efforts at fiction. If you’re a fan of my fanfic writings, then the new blog will be for you. Otherwise, this is where we part ways.

I say second last post because, obviously, a new post will go up announcing the new blog at some point.

This site will not be tampered with, it will not be deleted by my hand. It will remain here, a testament, intact, marking an era that has since passed on.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

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Yeah, uh. This was supposed be a 3 parter, but part two ended up getting trimmed too small to warrant an entire post. So part three and two were combined, though there is a scene change partway through this one.

————======————

Arkenheart breathed a sigh of relief. Never before in her life had she ever done something as difficult as her brief interview with that damned Knight-Lord “I’m better than you at everything waaaaah” Bloodvalor. It had taken all her willpower and all the patience her mother had instilled in her not to punch that smug bastard right in his damned face.

She quite liked the orc, though. He seemed nice. She had used up all six orcish words she knew in speaking with him, but at least the hours practicing the orcish salute had come in handy.

Poor Bloodvalor, he would never find any information about her. Mother had taught her well about the ways and wiles of politicians like Bloodvalor, and she had called in a few favors (well, all of them, technically) in order to erase any and all information, official and blackmarket, about herself. Bloodvalor would find absolutely no information about her, no matter how thoroughly or deeply he searched. Not a birth date, birth place, nothing.

Help yourself to a weapon, he had said.

This was a test, she was sure of it. Not quite what her father told her was standard procedure for Blood Knight recruitment, but then again her father had joined the order many, many years before the Scourge arrived.

She quickly glanced around, but she didn’t see any weapons. Well… the two blood knights were armed… surely he didn’t mean… meh. She saw at least one priest on the way here.

She swiftly strode up to where the zombie and two blood knights stood. One of them looked extremely familiar. She must have seen him around before. She didn’t exactly know anybody too well these days. Maybe she’d slept with him a few times? Ah well.

She stole his sword.

The knight, caught completely off-guard, stuttered out “Wh-HEY!” and tried to grab her. Her left fist met his chin less than a second after she had taken his blade, the loud crack of his jaw breaking painful to even listen to. The second blood knight had just managed to grab the hilt of his own sword when Arkenheart struck his head, hard, with the flat part of her own stolen sword. He, too, dropped like so much unconscious stone.

Leaving her alone next to the now completely free enraged ghoul.

She expertly dodged its clumsy attack, kicked its right leg, easily snapping the necrotic limb in half.

Holy energy flowed through her, and bringing the now blazing blade crashing down on the ghoul’s head, she impaled it to the floor. The body of the zombie twitched once and lay still, holy fire quietly flickering along the edges of the sword.

Not even four seconds had passed since she had disarmed the first blood knight.

She turned to his royal stupidness Bloodvalor. “Well? How was that?”

Krukk answered first, in broken Thalassian. “You am be best knight of blood ever!”

For his part, Bloodvalor seethed with rage and merely pointed to the weapon’s rack that stood a few feet away from Arkenheart’s position.

She felt blood rush to her cheeks.

“Oh.” was all she could offer in her own defense.

It was then the famed Guardians of Silvermoon finally reached her position, their arrival announced by the resounding crack of shield against skull, and Arkenheart Dawnseeker collapsed, unconscious.

Arkenheart returned to the world of the conscious in bits and pieces.

The first thing she noticed was that her head hurt. Really hurt, like every hangover of the past five years had hit her all at once.

The second thing she noticed was that it was really hard to say “Owww”. Her brain fumbled with this little piece of information before deciding that she was gagged. Which would explain the general sense that she was biting down on a horseshoe.

The third thing she noticed was that she wasn’t able to move her arms. She tried, but her efforts were met with an odd resistance and a clinking noise.

She struggled with this information for quite some time as well.

Eventually, she concluded that her head really, really hurt.

Alright Arkie, she thought, let’s make sense of this, yeah? Our head hurts, we’re gagged, and our arms are chained behind us. What happened?

The first conclusion she reached was that last night must have been an amazing party. This hangover was brutal, and being bound and gagged were classic hallmarks of an extremely good one-on-one after-party. Of course! He, a handsome elf with a penchant for tying up pretty girls, she, a pretty elf with a penchant for being tied up; one thing led to another, and here she was in the bedroom of said handsome elf. Poor guy was probably just as hung over as she was.

It wouldn’t exactly be the first time this had happened.

She risked opening her eyes.

Apparently this handsome elf kept a room that looked suspiciously like a single occupant prison cell complete with anti-magic seals.

The fourth thing she noticed was that she could remember everything.

This was no bedroom the morning after a night of glorious kink, this was a prison cell after a misguided afternoon of punching the son of Lor’Themar Theron IN THE FACE.

She had thought he had seemed familiar, but she stole his sword and broke his jaw anyway. Only now, in a prison cell, did she finally recognize him. The only son to the second in command of the entire blood elven race, and she had tried to kill him.

Again.

I mean, last time, they were just kids, and it was hardly her fault the spider was only playing dead, but still. Attempted murder usually didn’t go over well.

She would have wept in that cell if she wasn’t so mad at herself. Attacking a Blood Knight is bad enough, warranting the death penalty by itself, but attacking the son of the most powerful blood elf on Azeroth? Biting her tongue in half and choking to death on her own blood would be a merciful death compared to what was in store for her.

All that practice, all the training, the little private lessons here and there on how to not suck when swinging a sword, all that investment, gone in an instant because she couldn’t think about things before acting on them.

Panic had only just begun to set in when they came for her.

Four heavily armed and armored Spellbreakers, Knight-Lord Bloodvalor, Lord Solanar Bloodwrath, and… and Lor’themar’s son, seemingly none the worse for wear.

The Spellbreakers released her chains, forcing her to her feet and holding her there. She couldn’t have resisted if she tried, each one of them was more than a match for her.

Bloodvalor was absolutely livid, screaming and shouting and waving his arms about. She wasn’t really paying any attention to him, he was probably going to execute her any second now anyway. Bloodwrath looked mildly annoyed, and Lor’themar’s son looked… sheepish? She met his gaze, and he quickly turned away and blushed furiously. What the fel is going on here? Turning her attention to Bloodvalor, she finally bothered to listen to his ranting.

“..death! Death! Your life, forfeit immediately for such incredible insubordination! I cannot even begin to imagine the train of thought that would have led to such a rash decision! You realize the guards would have been perfectly within the law to simply kill you where you stood?! It was a mercy to arrest you to await execution!”

Bloodwrath cleared his throat, appearing for all the world as if what he was about to say was equivalent to touching rotten fruit.

“What the Knight-Lord is trying to say is, welcome to the Blood Knights, Recruit Arkenheart Dawnseeker.”

This is it, she thought, any second now they’re going to drag me off, lop my head off in frobwuuuuuuuuuuh?

Bloodwrath seemed pained. “Yes, I know, ridiculous isn’t it? Here I had gone to all the trouble of sharpening my sword so I could run you through, and now I’m going to have to dull it so I can hit you with it when you fail during basic training instead.”

She felt the gag being removed. Her tongue felt swollen, but she managed to squeeze out a faint “Buh… wha…”

Bloodvalor resumed shouting and flailing. “See?! She is an insipid, ungrateful useless waste of flesh! She is talentless, I tell you, talentless! A complete waste of time, we should simply execute her and-”

“Oh, would you please just be silent you arrogant moron!” Bloodwrath interrupted.

Bloodvalor turned to Arkenheart. “You have not heard the last of this, you frivolous apeling!” He stormed out of the room with one last “Bah!”

Bloodwrath sighed and gently rubbed his forhead. “Why oh why do I ever attempt to converse with that man? It is like trying to teach applied teleportation to a rabbit.”

He nodded to the Spellbreakers, and they immediately released her and left the room.

Turning to her once again, Bloodwrath said “Congratulations, little elf. By the authority vested in me by her holiness Lady Liadrin, I do hereby grant you the rank of Initiate in the Blood Knight Order.”

He produced a scroll, a pen, and a small dagger. “Sign here, and if you’d be so kind as to leave your blood mark here.”
Still not quite believing what was happening, Arkenheart quickly signed the scroll and piercing a fingertip with the dagger, left a single drop of blood next to her name.

“It is done, then. Let me be the first to say that this afternoon’s display of unmitigated bravado was by far the highlight of my year.” Bloodwrath smiled at her. “You show a great deal of promise, if an immense amount of ineptitude when it comes to not doing things that can get you killed. You will be sworn in tomorrow, I will inform you of the location and time. Theronidas, see her to her quarters and make sure she gets some food in her belly.”

And with that, Bloodwrath left the two of them alone.

Several seconds went by in awkward silence.

“So, uhm,” said Arkenheart, “Sorry about that whole… stealing your sword and breaking your jaw thing.”

“Yeah, yeah, don’t worry about it.” said Theronidas, “It was… nice. No! I mean not nice! It hurt a lot! But I mean… you were great, and you’re… you… well I mean you have a mean right hook… or, or left… I don’t remember which… anyway I got you this!” Squeezing his eyes shut, his face constructed entirely of blush by this point, he held out a handcrafted necklace to her.

It was a simple golden rope braid, with a tooth entwined in the center. A suspiciously elven looking tooth.

Arkenheart took the necklace, gently fingering the tooth. “Is… is this your tooth?”

He nodded.

“So… I punch you in the face, knock your tooth out, and you make it into a necklace for me?”

He nodded again.

She laughed. Oh what a strange universe this is. Not one minute ago she was preparing to be killed for assault, and now the very person she was to be executed for attacking was attempting to court her in the adorable fashion of a clueless virgin.

He was blushing so furiously. “Oh! Oh you don’t like it well that’s ok I’ll just take it back it was silly stupid idea anyway I mean who wants a tooth right it isn’t just not stupid it’s ok I’ll just go and-”

“Hey.” Arkenheart interrupted him, and gently placed her hand on his arm. “I like it. It’s pretty stupid, yeah, but it’s also very sweet. If you wanted to date or something, I’m game for that. Besides, if you don’t like me, you can always have me killed right?”

He laughed. “Hah, yeah, that’s true! I mean I could always just tell father I changed my mind, and…Oh! Oh no! No I didn’t mean- that wasn’t supposed to be- no I would never! That wasn’t meant to be a threat I just meant I mean you I could no never…” he trailed off into silence.

They stood there, possibly the most awkward situation either of them had ever been in.

Finally, Arkenheart whispered “Try plan b.”

“Right, right yes.” Theronidas cleared his throat, and extended his right arm. “Hi. I’m Theronidas. I find the way your hair cascades over your shoulders to be immensely attractive and you also have breasts which are attached to your body. I find that attractive too.” He stood there, hand extended, completely petrified, eyes squeezed shut.

Arkenheart took his hand and gently shook it. “Hello to you too, I’m Arkenheart, and the way you have arms connected to your torso is neat.”

“HAAAAAAH YES.” He responded, entirely too loud.

“You’re not very good at this, are you?”

“Is it obvious?”

“Painfully so.”

“Permission to go die in a corner somewhere?”

“Only if I can come too.”

“Nerp.”

“… You’ve never even held a girl’s hand before, have you.”

“…”

“Me and you? We have a lot of work to do.”

————======————

Ugh, combat. You know, I was always disappointed when combat made up such a small part of text growing up. All this build up, hundreds of pages spent building up to a huge battle, and then only two or three pages, maybe, would actually dwell on the battle. Then it was back to the heroic speeches.

Lord of the Rings comes to mind. Thousands of lives decided in two or three sentences. Gah, hated that.

Now, on the other end of the page, as it were, I see now why combat features so little.

Suffice to say, combat is a visual thing. Combat is extremely difficult to write, somewhat boring to write, and absolutely brain trauma inducingly dull to read.

I take back all the mean things I said as a boy, reading and writing combat is flat out pointless. Nothing wrong with some combat, but it does need to be tightly controlled. Very tightly controlled, perhaps more so than anything else.

I tried to emulate Arkenheart’s speech patterns in the writing for this section. She isn’t pompous, not even sort of, and speaks much more simplistic and uses more colloquial phrases and slang than, say, I do. For example, she would never say colloquial, she’d just say “Words are hard” and then probably punch you for using colloquial in a sentence.

This isn’t to say she’s not educated, her mother was very nearly a mage after all. Instead, she suffers from Buffy Speak, having been bored to tears by subjects such as english and history. Ask her about the merits of cobalt or saronite for purposes of explosive projectiles, however, and she could talk your ears off for hours on end.

Yes, Arkenheart is the Wrench Wench. Two links to tvtropes in as many paragraphs. Guys! Try not to get too lost in there, mk?

Speaking of things that are difficult to write, awkward romantic dialogue. That is pretty much the most difficult thing to write ever. I mean, it is awkward to write, which is the damn point, but it also needs to still be readable (and thus, entertaining), so it still needs to be clear, and and and aaaaagh.

I never thought I’d say this, but George Lucas deserves some props for writing all that terrible romantic dialogue. That stuff is hard to do!

The character of Theronidas Theron (yes, that is his name, and yes, he is the son of Lor’themar Theron) is of course totally made up. He’s normally nowhere near this assertive, but you see…

LORE

Way I see it, things that work by magic are not free of various side effects. In this case, I’m talking about healing magic. How does it work? Why does it work? What, precisely, does it do?

Obviously it is magic, but what it is doing is healing wounds that would ordinarily take days, weeks, months to even heal, and healing that near instantly. An injection of healing magic makes you high, releasing various endorphins and other feel good chemicals that would ordinarily accompany. It doesn’t do this directly, mind you, but indirectly. The injury itself fires the anti-pain drugs, and when the injury is removed, the rush of endorphins from that hits too.

So you’ve got a double dose of “feels good, man” rocking through your arteries. This effect is greatly amplified in blood elves, due to their inherent addiction and reliance on magic.

You ever see holy paladins standing around spamming heals on themselves? Those guys aren’t seeing how long their mana pool can last or doing any testing whatsoever, those guys are getting stoned out of their minds.

In this story, Theronidas is simply drugged up from being punched in the face and then having his broken jaw repaired inside of a single minute.

That, and he’s still pretty much cripplingly nervous too. Zero experience with women does not confidence make.

Arkenheart, of course, is the polar opposite. Confident, ridiculously assertive and aggressive, and well deserving of the title “town bicycle”. She’s had a lot of sex with a lot of dudes, is what I’m trying to say here. And maybe she likes to be a little… fettered when that sex is taking place.

Bondage is so common it hardly even counts as a kink anymore. Stop being so squeamish guys. And if you are into that sort of thing, then sorry for the accidental smut?

You can’t actually tell to well from here, but Bloodwrath and Bloodvalor are actually pretty good friends. They argue and fight alot, verbally sparring and all that, but really the guys are great fellows. If you want to make a buddy cop movie about these two, feel free.

One last LORE NOTE: assault against a Blood Knight is considered about as bad as killing a police officer in the real world. Except in Silvermoon, it’s generally punished by death, with few exceptions. Arkenheart’s case being one of them, but fortunately she seems to have impressed somebody with a certain level of clout with a certain extremely high ranking blood elf.

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You may remember my previously published Arkenheart story. It pains me to link to my earlier, significantly shittier work, but there it is.

Writing fiction is, itself, rather easy. The problem is, I am the writer. I created this content. It is an intrinsic part of me. It is something I love, something I care for, something I cherish in the heart of hearts. I am my biggest fan. The problem is, how the hell do I manage to transfer that slavish love to the audience? Rereading my current written works is a joy. I love myself.

Reading my old work is like meeting an old ex again (or so I’m told). It is a strange, bitter reunion.

I’ll probably rewrite Birth of a Retribution Paladin at some point. A couple retcons are necessary.

If you don’t wish to read my old story, here’s the backstory necessary to “enjoy” the following fanfic, complete with retcons:

  • Silvermoon is a lot like Sin City, in terms of rampant sex, violence and drug use. Naturally the government puts on a facade of civility. Truth is, the entire blood elf society went to hell overnight. Silvermoon took (is taking?) years to recover from that.
  • Arkenheart is my paladin, these stories are based on HER life. She had a father, who died defending Silvermoon from the Scourge. She had a sister, who disappeared one night at a party. Turns out she was drugged, kidnapped and shipped off somewhere to be a drug addled whore.
  • There was some confusion last time. Arkenheart is a girl. Though she is open to experimentation.
  • Arkenheart tracked down the guy who performed the kidnapping, and murdered him in a back alley.
  • It was then Arkenheart decided to join the Blood Knights, in an effort to be a little better at preventing such tragedies.
  • Arkenheart did not stage a rescue. First off, it was logistically impossible, and technically at this stage in her life her only combat skills come from prepubescent “training” from her father. This amounts to little more than one on one dueling and various killing blows. She isn’t Liam Neeson; trying to chase such kidnappers is pretty much impossible for her.
  • The fact that she didn’t stage a rescue despite the above does haunt her (she considers herself a failure because of it), eventually fueling a massive spree of vengeance some time down the road. Bear in mind Arkenheart, age wise, is in her twenties. How many drug and sex addicts do you know that make morally good decisions in their twenties?

On with the story then. My “writer’s commentary” follows. Leave any comments you desire. Bear in mind I am trying to get better at writing, open and biting criticism will hurt my feelings but I’ll get over it. I promise.

————======————

Knight-Lord Bloodvalor sat, a scattered array of papers and parchments gazing at him from the heavily worn desk he sat behind.

Like most recruitment days, today had been one trial of patience after another.

One would think there would be a limit to the number of insipid morons allowed in a single city, but sadly there were no laws against being an idiot. Perhaps some day, on a day much like today, Bloodvalor would get the chance to introduce such a rule. And oh how the stupid would wail as he laughed at their plight.

The massive orc Krukk stood next to him. An old, experienced warrior from the Warsong orc clan, he shifted his shoulders slightly, signaling another potential recruit approaching his desk.

Oh joy of joys.

“I’m here to join the Blood Knights.”

Hm, thought Knight-Lord Bloodvalor. He gave not even the slightest hint he had heard the speaker.

A female voice, obviously quite young, definitely under a century, probably under even fifty. More than likely an impertinent child trying to rebel against her parents.

Oh look at me father, I’m a paladin now, you can’t make me clean my room anymore.

Bloodvalor remembered a time when the elven youth attended advanced alchemy classes, discussed cutting edge mathematics or spent hours honing their respective weapon skills. Now they collected posters of Sig Nicious and held wild, drunken parties every week. No discipline whatsoever. Positively revolting.

Then again, runaways were usually meek or pretentious, sometimes a disgusting combination of the two. This voice held neither quality. There was definitely something… different. There was nervousness, yes, but he was a Knight-Lord, and a powerful one at that, in every definition of the word. The number of people who spoke to him without being nervous numbered in the dozens.

Previously numbered in the dozens, he mentally amended. Every member of the greater Horde he had met hadn’t so much as averted their gaze in his presence. Krukk, looming over him as he had been doing all day, had attempted to smell his hair when they first met.

“Real warriors don’t smell like bananas.” Krukk had sneered.

The nerve! The conditioner was far more complex and subtle than simply bananas. The intricacies of proper hair care was utterly lost on every non-elf, it seemed.

Krukk did have one use, however. He was positively excellent at spotting solid warriors. Not trained warriors, mind you, anyone can spot a trained warrior. Krukk was adept at spotting potential. The old orc warrior could take one look at a blood elf and tell immediately if the elf would whimper and cry in the face of death, or fight and laugh.

Krukk grunted. This meant an example of the latter had been found.

Bloodvalor concurred, though it pained him to agree with the orc about anything.

Most idiots who tried to join the Blood Knights stammered, hesitated, shuffled their feet. Some started with “H-hello… uhm…”, some asked meekly “Is… is this where the blood knights recruit?” No, the huge sign that said “Blood Knight Recruitment Today!” was advertising a muffin sale.

Not this girl. This elf had simply stated that she was here to join the Blood Knights. No hesitation. Not one ounce of self doubt.

It wasn’t even phrased as a question, she said it as if she was simply stating fact.

He let thirty seconds go by before he deigned to look at the scrawny elf standing before his desk. Not once did she even twitch. Most potential recruits would cough or repeat their question, as if he was somehow deaf. Yes, being in the presence of orcs did tend to damage one’s hearing, but how could they possibly possess the gall to think he had missed them standing right in front of him?

This was the first lesson of being a Blood Knight.

You are nothing.

You do not matter.

You are an insignificant speck.

You do not get to demand the attention of a Knight-Lord, you do not even deserve one second of a superior’s time.

This one seemed to have already learned this lesson.

He slowly shifted his gaze, letting his eyes slowly drift up her youthful form. Standard procedure to leer at all possible female recruits, just to see how they’d react. This one didn’t react at all. Excellent.

It would seem he was correct about her age. Extremely young, she hadn’t even filled out completely yet. Possibly not even thirty! And yet, here she stood with more discipline and self control than anyone else he had seen all day. Her eyes were even cast respectfully to his left side! Incredible!

“Look at me.” He finally spoke.

Her eyes flicked to his immediately.

“Tell me, girl. Was your father a paladin?”

“Yeah.” A hint of pride and sadness. So he’s dead then. Bloodvalor nearly winced at the use of ‘yeah’, however. What an uncouth word.

“And your mother was a priest.”

Her eyes flickered with surprise. “Yeah.” That same hint of sadness.

So she’s an orphan. That explains her motivation.

“I suppose your motivation in coming here today is one of vengeance, yes?”

“Yeah.”

Not even an attempt to lie, nor shame in admitting it either.

Outwardly he kept his expression of barely concealed derision, but inside, Bloodvalor was smiling for the first time all day.

Switching to the orcish tongue, he said “What say you Krukk? Does the whelpling have what it takes?”

Krukk grunted. “She is fearless. A predator. The rigors of war will merely hone her hunger.”

“Thank you, sir orc.” the young girl said in fluent orcish.

Krukk let out a short bark of laughter.

Bloodvalor was utterly flabbergasted. His face, of course, gave away nothing, even as his brain scrambled to find a foothold on a situation that had left his control faster than a goblin fleeing with a sack of gold.

“It seems you are full of surprises, little elf.” Krukk rumbled out. “Throm-ka! I am Krukk!”

“Throm-ka, Krukk!” said the elf, executing a perfect orcish salute.

Bloodvalor saw his chance to regain control of the situation, and he seized it with both hands.

“It would seem pertinent,” he interrupted, in Thalassian, “to know what your name is. Despite being an orphan, I assume you do have a name of some sort?”

“Yes, sir Knight-Lord, I do. Arkenheart Dawnseeker.”

Bloodvalor raised an eyebrow. Outwardly, it was an expression of incredulity, but inside, he found that he was so far out of control of this situation, he didn’t even know what the situation was anymore. She hadn’t even flinched at the accusation of being an orphan. And as if that was not bad enough…

Dawnseeker? As in, THE Dawnseeker? The last wielder of Quel’Delar?

Thalorien did have two daughters, both of which would be roughly this Arkenheart’s age.

Asking directly, of course, would be socially ruinous. He would make quiet inquiries later. If this Arkenheart (what an abhorrent name, fusing the human tongue and… was that dwarvish?) truly was the daughter of Thalorien, the possibilities were endless! Think of the status that would come from training the daughter of the last wielder of Quel’Delar!

He snapped his fingers, a quick command.

Two Blood Knights stepped forward, holding a chained scourge ghoul between them. It twitched and growled, trying to claw something despite the magical chains that rendered movement impossible.

Bloodvalor gestured at the zombie.

“Help yourself to a weapon, let’s see how you fare against the scourge.”

She was, of course unarmed. No one thought to bring a weapon to recruitment day. This was test number two. Some simply burned the zombie down with holy magics. Some helped themselves to a weapon on the conveniently located weapons rack not twenty feet away. Some simply destroyed the zombie with their bare hands. Some managed to die to the vicious thing.

In all cases, recruits took a few minutes to either succeed or fail.

Time Bloodvalor desperately needed to come up with a plan.

————======————

If you’re confused by some of Bloodvalor’s reference lines, that is ok. Silvermoon is not a nice place to be. It is a place rife with social politics, continuous posturing and the whole idea of appearance of various social norms is paramount. If you’re at all familiar with the work of Stendhal, the political and social framework of Silvermoon is supposed to be evocative of 1820s/30s france, as best portrayed in the Red and the Black, or however you wish to refer to it.

For those unfamiliar with this particular work of fiction, it’s pretty much this: everything is political, even romance, appearance is completely paramount, and there is no higher aim or goal than your own social status relative to your fellows.

Imagine a world where absolutely nothing mattered but your social status. Now imagine that social status could be irreparably ruined if you drank tea the wrong way or said “hello” wrong to your own mother. That is the social world of Silvermoon after the Scourge invasion.

I have obviously taken a fair number of artistic freedom in my portrayal of Silvermoon. Obviously little of this is canon. Bloodvalor does exist in-game, but he has not developed anything. Thus his entire character is rendered here.

The revelations that Arkenheart is possibly Thalorien’s daughter, and can speak and understand orcish, present potentially disastrous situations for Bloodvalor to handle. Handle it right, he gains much prestige and respect. Handle it wrong, he faces social ruin.

I also have no idea how the Blood Knights actually do recruit for their order, or really any details at all about how the order works, nor have I been particularly successful in finding any official information on the subject.

So most of it is completely made up.

And yes, Arkenheart is indeed the daughter of Thalorien Dawnseeker. Rabble rabble!

To me, this fits. Arkenheart currently wields Quel’Delar herself, it had already been established that her father died defending against the Scourge in her backstory… it all fell together extremely nicely.

It also neatly allows for some extremely personal and intimate moments when full-grown and experienced daughter gets a chance to speak to father one last time before he dies.

Plus there’s no official information that contradicts any of my claims. :D

More random trivia:

There are several ranks in the Blood Knight Order.

Initiate, the rank given to brand new, in training Blood Knights. (In-game, if you play a blood elf paladin, you were considered an Initiate upon achieving level 12 and completing some of those class quest thingies.)

Adept, a step up from Initiate, but still considered a knight in training. In-game this coincides with the sword quest and leaning how to summon your non-epic mount.

Knight, a full member of the Blood Knight order. Both in-game and in my fanfic lore, you become a Knight when you receive the reins to your Charger, signifying becoming an independent warrior.

Master, an honored, accomplished member of the Blood Knight Order. In-game this is the level 60 quest to gain the Charger, and is symolized by receiving the Blood Knight Tabard.

There are a few other ranks. Of course, Matriarch, The Lady, whatever, refers to lady Liadrin, the commander in chief of the entire order.

There is also Champion and Knight-Lord,  neither of which are ever adequately explained anywhere.

So my lore says this: Champion is a title awarded for heroics. Essentially an additional title awarded to a Blood Knight of any rank who displayed immense courage, bravery, whatever blah blah, usually in war time.

Knight-Lord is an advanced rank of Knight, essentially filling in the gap between Knight and Master, except partially separate. Knight-Lord is a rank that can only be held by nobles. Commoners cannot become Knight-Lords. In addition, every single noble house of Silvermoon is required to have at least one Knight-Lord, regardless of their occupation.

If a noble house is very small, with only one surviving member, and that member is a grave digger, they are given the title Knight-Lord, and have full authority over Knights, Adepts and Initiates.

Knight-Lords are, however, subservient to knights of the Master rank, though Knight-Lords can be promoted to become Master Knight-Lords, and thus become the superior to regular Masters. Champion Master Knight-Lords command even more respect than that.

New noble houses can be created, old ones can be destroyed, but that’s enough elven politics for now.

As to the fic itself.

The temptation to info dump was extremely strong. The original version actually started with a description of the weather. How horrible is that?!

I think it’s edited okay now, much faster and snappier to read overall. I hope.

Krukk, by the way, actually is an in-game NPC. He’s the battlemaster for Warsong Gulch in Silvermoon. There is absolutely no information for him, so again, character completely made up.

I wasn’t sure how much humor to put in here. I tried to put in just enough to not be boring, yet not so much that the narrative vanished in a sea of giggles. I have no idea if I succeeded. I mean, some stuff, like a highly pompous postering ass like Bloodvalor, combined with something as simple and direct as Krukk is a ripe field for comedy. If anyone wants to make a buddy cop movie of these two, go right ahead.

Obligatory goblin bashing.

Obligatory L70ETC reference. It’s interesting to me that this band is fully acknowledged in-game. It only makes sense that they’d have merchandise, and of course the handsome elf Sig Nicious would feature prominently in the bedrooms of teenage elf girls.

Part two comes tomorrow!

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Sick Muse

Again with the post title snagged from whatever was playing in winamp.

ON BIRTHDAY WISHES

Happy (belated) Birthday Krizzlybear!

I recently realized that last time I raided frost, my DPS was somewhat lower than I expected because I fucking fail at frost mage so very hard.

See, you know how the Brain Freeze lets you fire an instant cast Frostfire Bolt?

Yeah.

Uh.

Woops.

I have no birthday present to offer you, krizzly, just know that when I realized my fail, I facepalmed so hard I created a sonic boom, I thought of you.

Wait… what. No, that came out wrong.

Uhhh….

ON LOBOTOMIZED BLOGGERS

Hoo boy.

A disclaimer saying “this is a joke guys come on what the hell people” that takes multiple paragraphs to say in an effort not to offend the delicate sensibilities of the wow.com audience.

That is exactly why I like being a little blog with a little audience. No disclaimers here, oh no kind sirs and madams! I will call you my bitches, and I will mean it, and you will laugh, and then you will realize it was a Daikatana reference, and then you will cry. WELCOME TO CQQ.

And here I do quote what I would have done, had I been the mage columnist at wow.com and had to handle the wow.com readership:

To everyone who got so indignant after the warlockian Arcane Brilliance was posted, crowing over and over about how April Fools was last week and this is a news site, that you come here for news, not to be tricked, and you will now go elsewhere for your news: LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.

Oh what? What was that? I insulted your sensibilities? Was your tiny delicate world upset by a tiny deviation in your schedule? Are you so fundamentally retarded that you actually consider wow.com a premier news site? (There goes my chance to ever write there, lol.) How many times were you dropped on your head as a child that such blatant sarcasm actually tricked you? How pathetic can you possibly be to think “/unsubscribe” is actually a threat to anyone?

OH NOES I HURT YOUR FEELINGS MY BAD HERE’S A LOLLIPOP.

wait what I didn't mean it that way oh god what is this my name isn't even henry WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR MOUTH

On a related note, why do warlocks complain so much about hunters? Warlocks screw hunters over so hard it’s barely even funny. Of course, hunters screw over mages so hard that maybe warlocks are just jealous?

Why don’t we all play nice and go dominate us some paladins, eh? Eh? Fine, fuck you guys too. Never liked you trigger happy gunmongers and fear spamming douchemonkeys anyway.

I tried to be nice, and look what it got me. Scatter trapped deathcoil feared can’t do that while silenced. FFFFFFF.

ON THAT ROBERT DOWNEY JR MOVIE WHERE EVERYONE PRETENDS HE’S SHERLOCK HOLMES FOR SOME REASON

I did like the movie. It was extremely faithful to the actual, original, non-white-washed-by-society Sherlock Holmes.

I never did understand why Holmes was ever made out to be some hoity toity lawful good uber hero. The dude gets so high he has magic adventures with watson and his magical mayonnaise unicorn when he gets bored. Holmes is the original gritty detective! He’d be right at home in Sin City!

But, as there is always a but.

Downey did not, to me, come across as Holmes. Everyone else was brilliant (especially Judge Law, that is his name right?), but… Downey did not make a good Holmes. I wasn’t watching Holmes and Watson shimmy about solving crime, I was watching Robert Downey Jr and Watson shimmy about solving crime.

I can’t really describe it beyond that. Downey just never convinced me that he was something other than Downey. His fault? Director’s fault? My fault? Don’t know, but hell that was hard to get past.

ON ROGER EBERT

“Vidja games ain’t bein’ art!”

Yeah, yeah, shut up ya old coot.

ON WOLVAR ORPHAN

I got this on the mage last year, and was thoroughly “meh” towards it. Busted it out a few times in Ulduar, but nowadays if I have a pet out it’s lil KT. Even after all this time, the laugh. The laugh!

Got it on the paladin this year. Now, somehow, this pet is completely different. Completely. It is exactly the same as it was when I did the quest on the mage a year ago, but somehow… somehow the paladin loves the little guy.

I gave him hugs (violent ones, I am a ret paladin you know), flew around on a dragon, pointed and laughed at the humans in Dalaran, mocked walrusmen… me and likkle Kekek had an absolute blast.

And when the quest was over… I dunno, apparently I had a stroke. I was genuinely sad that my adventures with little Kekek as at an end.

Apparently I forgot that he mailed himself to me not ten seconds later. I promptly treated him to a steak dinner.

Then I logged off and played my shaman for a while, and could not for the life of me remember why the hell I cared so much about some stupid non-combat pet.

Until I logged back into the paladin, summoned the thing, and my heart absolutely melted all over again and I found myself gibbering like a fool, running around in Thunder Bluff, likkle Kekek on my back, and we bustled around making cow tipping jokes.

Is… is this what RP is like? I feel like I am going mad.

And yes, I am avoiding battlegrounds completely due to orphan week.

I know, I know, everyone and their orphan are blithering about orphan week (AGAIN), but look. I PvP because it actually takes a reasonable amount of skill to do well at it. We can argue all we want about relative BG skill levels, but suffice to say playing a BG well takes significantly more effort on my part than questing, running dungeons or raiding. Hence my interest.

I have no interest in tearing into battlegrounds and destroying all the dazed and confused people just trying to get an achievement done. I’d go spend some time with a test dummy in Orgrimmar if all I wanted to do was beat on pinatas for a while.

Let’s be honest here. Quite a few of those trying to do this achievement are little more than pinatas. These are people who would otherwise never venture into a battleground. More often than not, they don’t even fight back. They just stand there, waiting for the inevitable end.

It’s worse when they do fight back. My heart is filled with pity. Just… what are you doing. It is absolutely sad to watch. Like watching some poor child whose mother drank herself to liver poisoning during each trimester; watching this child fail at the most basic of tasks; watching them struggle to even turn themselves around.

And I do quote myself, written May 5th, 2009:

What I mind is all these poor sods queueing up for battlegrounds that haven’t the foggiest idea how to PvP, whether it’s on the tactical or strategical level.

A mage sporting naxx-25 gear with some Ulduar stuff sporting a server first kill of Sartharion and a raiding arcane spec is an impressive sight, no doubt.

But on the PvP front? He becomes nothing more than a hunk of meat hurled at the jaws of a hungry dog. Honestly, with only 15k health and zero resilience, I’m watching him only to see how fast he can die.

Read the post in its entirety here. Still relevant today, despite being a year old. Fancy that.

It breaks my heart to watch. Honorable kill my ass, there is nothing honorable in defeating an unarmed cardboard box in a duel.

This year, I refuse to participate.

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More coherent thoughts on monday when I’ve been able to think and marinate in the glorious, glorious changes.

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Friday Fiction: A Thousand Things

This is a story. I wrote it. It is WoW fiction, read at your own risk.

I’m sure I have mentioned this before, but like many bloggers I have certain aspirations to, perhaps, write things in a more professional manner at some stage in my nebulous future. Thus I practice things, so here is some of my practice.

Any and all criticism is worthwhile. I also have a “writer’s commentary” at the end of the story, so you can hear my thoughts on my own work.

=========

Once upon a time, they had made a cute couple.

Two young things. The Man, perhaps having drank slightly too much dwarven ale, grinning like the love struck idiot He was. The Woman, Her cheeks so full of the vigor of life, coloured both by alcohol and the undeniable intoxicant of love.

He thought it was just for fun. Perhaps a little fling on the side, just a summer thing. He, a knight in the service of King Terenas on well deserved leave; She, the daughter of a baker from Stratholme. Brought together by sheer chance at the Darkmoon Faire, where Her father had hawked his “world-famous” cinnamon buns.

They were excellent cinnamon buns, that much was true. Probably the best He had ever tasted. Being a young single lad on vacation, however, He had a whole different set of buns in mind, and the baker’s daughter had enthusiastically complied.

When His leave ended, He didn’t want to leave. He tried to tell himself it was nothing, that He would get over it. The universe had other ideas in mind. He cried. She cried. But She, the baker’s daughter from Stratholme, returned home, and He, the brave knight from Lordaeron, could no more shirk His duty to the king than could a stone sprout a mouth and sing songs.

He wrote letters to Her. She wrote letters to Him. He cherished the only photo He had of Her, not once letting it leave His immediate person. He even bathed with it, pleased to discover the goblin wasn’t lying about the waterproof properties it had.

He and She would visit the other as much as possible. Every time the Darkmoon Faire was around, He made excuses, She made excuses, and then several hours later those excuses were repeated all over again, only with more rumpled clothing the second time.

And so it was that He had made numerous excuses, gracefully exited service of the king, and left for Stratholme. He wasn’t stupid, He had already purchased a nice home for Himself and His bride to be and had lined up a position as a journeyman blacksmith.

A thousand things He wanted to say. A thousand thousand days He had planned to be with Her.

The dreams of His dreams had been realized, but as with all tales that begin with once upon a time, the nightmares of His worst nightmares were soon to follow.

He later learned they were called the Scourge. Nightmarish creatures from across the sea, they swarmed across Lordaeron like… well, like a Scourge. He had died fighting on the road, alone, against an enemy He did not even begin to comprehend.

Many months later, He wandered a plagued and destroyed countryside, His right arm still holding His sword, His left arm clutching a faded photograph. A zombie with purpose, He searched with an unwavering will that only the undead can possess.

As fate would have it, He found Her.

There She stood, on a hilltop, the sickly sun silhouetting Her armor clad figure. There She stood, her red armor stained, Her white tabard spattered with blood and gore.

He tried to call to Her, but all that came out was “Aaawwwhh!”

When She sank to Her knees, wracking sobs ripping through Her body, He tried to comfort Her, but all that came out was “Hhhh”.

When She drew Her blade and attacked him, tears still flowing, He tried to stop Her, tried to tell Her it was Him, but all that came out was “Wwhrrruuu”.

When He defended himself out of instinct, when His sword ripped through Her body, when She bled to death on the road, He tried to say every one of the thousand things He wanted to say.

Will you marry me.

Stay with me forever.

I love you.

But all that came out was “Hh… hh… uuuuhhh!”

=========

The difficulty with writing short stories is that they are supposed to be short. Something light and sweet, something you can sit down and read in a couple minutes. There isn’t a lot of room for anything besides the core of the story.

Picture a scoop of ice cream. This is the story. You can add jujubes, sprinkles, chocolate sauce, change the flavour of the ice cream if you want. It’s still a scoop of ice cream, no matter how many details you add.

With a short story, you can’t add sprinkles. There just isn’t room. You need to cut out as much as possible and simply tell the tale you want to tell. Anything else is a waste of time and space. You’re trying to eat ice cream here, not a bunch of sprinkles and cookie crumbles with some ice cream buried underneath, and you are trying to eat this ice cream in one bite.

“A Thousand Things” was significantly longer in its original version. Instead of one continuous romantic tragedy, it was made up of multiple scenes and even had multiple characters. The core story you see above, for instance, was originally a flashback. The Man character had a name, was a Forsaken warrior, and was visiting a graveyard on the anniversary of the first time he met the Woman.

The story I wanted to tell had nothing to do with that graveyard or the forsaken Man. It was about the tragedy itself, and there was no point in using a flashback to tell the story when I could just tell the damn story straight up.

Eliminating names was a tough decision, but again I felt it detracted from the story, so they and all dialogue got the old backspace button. There was also originally an old forsaken man by the name of Ogie who acted as a sort of guide for the Man character when He regained consciousness. As much as I like Ogie, the story wasn’t about him, so heave ho! Ogie and his undead mule got cut.

I hope it was fairly clear that the Woman character was a member of the Scarlet Crusade. If it wasn’t, well, now it is. At least it was clear that She hadn’t been turned, had survived, at least long enough to die at the blade of Her true love. There was originally an explanation of how She survived, what She was doing when He found Her, there was a bunch of other crusaders present, etc.

Delete, delete, delete.

The dialog at the end (where He tries to talk to Her) was extremely difficult to get “right”. It needed to be sad, heartbreaking if possible. It needed to show that communication is quite literally impossible in this situation, which you’d think would be pretty easy with a starring character having no lower jaw.

The difficulty came in trying to make this dialog serious and sad rather than hilarious. I’m not writing a story about Galertruby. So, His dialog ended up matching phonetically the sounds one makes when they are about to cry. It seems to work from my perspective.

Overall I’m pretty happy with this one. Easily near 80% of what I had originally written was cut, and I think this little story is much, much better for losing the excess weight.

I’m also very proud  of “sickly sun silhouetting”.

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Escapism

The background for this post can be read here and here.

WoW is an escape for many people, myself included. I daresay the majority of WoW players are using WoW as an “escape” from “real” life. Quite a few of them probably feel guilty about it, or type /played and have this hollow sensation of time wasted. Probably even more WoW players have family and friends that constantly deride them for spending so much time on a “stupid game.”

I don’t really understand why liking WoW and playing it a bunch is somehow a bad thing. The stigma held by outsiders and many insiders is utterly perplexing to me.

Tell me. If you weren’t playing WoW in your free time, what would you be doing?

Watching TV? Movies? Reading a book, perhaps? Baking cookies? Building model airplanes and flying them? Getting drunk with friends all the time? Gardening?

How, exactly, are any of those different from WoW?

A videogame is just an enabler, an outlet, for any number of things. It’s just a hobby, something you do to pass the time, to have some fun, to provide an outlet for some emotional trouble. (more…)

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I Cannot Use Apostrophe’s

“It’s” means “it is”, whereas “its” signifies ownership. The apostrophe only shows ownership when it’s used with any word that isn’t it. It’s confusing sometimes, but it should be taught to students from a young age, so it shouldn’t be a problem, should it?

I, for one, struggle greatly with getting it’s/its correctly, and I have been corrected for it many times by helpful commenters. Seriously, I mean it. I type these blog posts up so fast and only proofread them maybe once or twice, of course mistakes are going to get through. It’s inevitable. Posting a comment like “you spelled dysfunction wrong” isn’t going to hurt my feelings or anything.

Point out mistakes, I’ll correct them. Or ignore it and leave it in it’s original state for laughs (oh meta humor). And besides, let us be honest here, somebody who actually gets offended or hurt from having a spelling mistake pointed out to them likely has a whole host of issues beyond typing too fast sometimes.

In regards to it’s/its, well… I have an excuse as to why I make that mistake more often than anything else!

See, I was originally taught way back in grade school that “it’s” is only used to mean “it is”. “Its” being strictly for showing possession.

However, in grades four and five, I was taught that “it’s” shows possession AND means “it is”, the word “its” not appearing anywhere in the english language. Apparently. (more…)

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A Sad Story for Monday

So here I was riding the bus home. There’s an African (as in born and raised in Africa, having immigrated to Canadia) woman at the front of the bus with her two kids, a young girl in a stroller and a young boy not in the stroller. Both are incredibly young, the older boy being kindergarten age at absolute maximum.

The two kids were yattering back and forth about I don’t know what, whatever the primitive minds of tiny children feel is important to their day to day activities. I paid them no heed, finding it more productive to stare out the window and mentally run over marksman PvP builds (YES I DO THIS SHUT UP).

Then the darndest thing happened! They got louder! Well, not so much louder as more intense and saying the same thing over and over again.

The little girl says: “Your are the daddy!”

The little boy says: “No I’m not!”

“Yes, your are the daddy!”

“No! No I’m not!”

“Yourrr arrre the daddy!”

“No, I’m not the daddy!”

“Yes, yourrrr arrrre the daddy!”

“NO! I’M! NOT! The daddy!”

This continued, each participant of this highly odd argument increasing in volume with every exchange. Other passengers on the boss were grinning, tittering, giving each other looks with smiles attached. Oh those darn kids!

Eventually the mother interrupts by asking “Why don’t you want to be the daddy?”

A good ten seconds go by. Finally, the boy turns to his mother, a mask of utter anguish and rage on his face, tears tracing paths down a face that shouldn’t even be capable of expressing sorrow yet.

“Because daddy leave and make mommy cry!” the boy finally spat back.

Dead silence was the only sound heard for the remainder of the bus trip.

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