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Posts Tagged ‘Paladin’

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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Ret Paladins

Ret paladins are not overpowered, and have been underpowered for quite some time. They can put out absolutely huge burst damage against unprotected targets with lower than average resilience, and they have very powerful team based defensive buttons. That’s it.

We all probably remember that one week where ret was ruthlessly overpowered. A ret paladin on the field of battle was a mobile nuclear weapon, capable of completely devastating a target in a manner of seconds. Just like every other class with a DPS spec (except warriors, hunters, and priests, cause screw those guys). But that’s all in the past, and thus irrelevant. Let’s talk about today’s ret paladin.

Ret isn’t even doing that great in raiding. I mean, DKs suck in PvP but have a very strong presence in raids; ret paladins don’t even have that much due to crippling scaling issues.

Today’s retribution paladin suffers from an extreme case of “melee class without any melee class tools”. Namely, a ret paladin does not have any gap closing buttons, snares, interrupts, and other than one extremely restrictive defensive cooldown are the squishiest melee class in the game. Only a rogue caught in the open with zero cooldowns is easier to kill than a ret paladin is.

To put it another way, ret paladins have one defensive ability available at any given time. Technically speaking, they have Divine Shield (total immunity for 12 seconds), Lay on Hands (refills health bar), Divine Protection (half damage), and Hand of Protection (total physical damage immunity). All of those cause Forbearance, meaning the Paladin can only use on of those on themselves every 2 minutes.

Now, for arenas, this means the paladin picks one of those and that’s all they get, really. Lay on Hands is, of course, unusable, and Hand of Protection is usually strictly reserved for other players. So the choice comes down to Divine Shield or Protection, and it’s always Shield. Of course the paladin could use these more liberally if the given arena battle lasted longer than the two to four minutes (or significantly less) most arenas are decided in.

This situation is made even worse as the paladin’s only offensive cooldown, Avenging Wrath, is completely unusable within 30 seconds of any of the above (except, I believe, HoP, though I have never HoPped myself so I can’t be sure) and vice versa. Popping Avenging Wrath is always a huge gamble, because what if you need to bubble in the next 30 seconds? You’re SOL, that’s what.

It’s a slightly different picture for battlegrounds, as Forbearance doesn’t persist though death. Conceivably, the paladin could use Divine Shield and pop Lay on Hands on themselves in under 20 seconds, or even less depending on when they get to the graveyard. I can see how this might create an odd perception, due to the paladin effectively showing up in combat with a fresh defensive cooldown every single time.

Still, Divine Shield can be dispelled by priests and warriors, both very common classes, Divine Protection can be dispelled by anyone with a dispel button, as can HoP, and Lay on Hands is extremely overrated. Technically, yes, the paladin can Divine Shield and use that 12 second immunity to just flat out delay anyone without fear of failure for that entire time span, but… well, technically every single class can do that as long as someone reasonably competent is at the helm.

All this vaunted survivability that everyone likes to attribute to the ret paladin spec is nothing more than player skill. Think about it.

How does a warrior PvP? Charge, intercept, even intervene in some situations to close. Once there, they can use hamstring/piercing shout to stay in melee, throw up a powerful mortal strike effect, extremely huge amounts of damage (provided a decent weapon and ArP rating, which let’s face it all warriors have by now), and if things go haywire they have interrupts and numerous defensive cooldowns to rely on at a moment’s notice.

How does a ret paladin close to melee? They cleanse snares from themselves, perhaps blow freedom, or get out of combat so they can mount and charge. The latter is usable by anyone, the former two easily counterable by anything that actually uses snares (except moonkin, because they suck). Then, they have two interrupts on one minute cooldowns, no snares of any kind, and precisely one defensive cooldown to rely on provided they didn’t blow their only offensive cooldown.

The only reason ret paladins ever survive as long as they do is because good ret paladins think like casters. Ret paladins survive because they continuously duck around corners, constantly pillar hump to avoid damage and let their heals tick, and constantly fight opposing melee class from range.

To put it another way, ret paladin survivability is not a part of how the spec is designed. There is barely any survivability at a ret paladin’s disposal. What they do have are LOS blocks and very strange “melee” abilities.

Look at the range on the paladin’s abilities. Judgement has a 10 yard range. Divine Storm is 8. The only things a ret paladin has to be in melee range to do is crusader strike and auto attacks. Everything else can be used from outside the 5 yard melee range. Paladins beat and out survive warriors because the paladin does his best to never actually be in melee with warriors.

A ret paladin who thinks like a melee character and tries to act like one will fail over and over again. A ret paladin who thinks and acts like a frightened holy priest actually gets results and is called overpowered for it.

It’s worth pointing out that ret paladins can absolutely, completely, totally, utterly destroy the undergeared/underskilled/unattentive players.

Against undergeared… ret paladins scale rather poorly against resilience. Art of War gives rets the ability to heal themselves whenever they crit with certain abilities, thus the less resilience a given target has (read: undergeared) the more they crit, the more they can heal themselves easily, the more “unstoppable” they appear.

Against underskilled… this is self explanatory. As a spec, the ret paladin isn’t a complicated class. Few abilities with few applications means that their strategies are extremely limited and they are very easy to counter. However, the vast majority of players are not PvP savants. They don’t have split second reaction speeds or fantastic spacial awareness. When fighting a ret paladin who does, these people get destroyed.

Against unattentive… again, self explanatory. A ret paladin can bear down on a priest who isn’t paying attention or AFK making a sandwich and obliterate them. A ret paladin who gets to start combat already in melee range against an unshielded/hotted target has a major advantage.

Against anyone of equal gear, skill, and is paying attention? A ret paladin isn’t going to be able to do much at all besides stumble around, cleane their partners and give freedom to their more powerful teammates.

In any case, this must change. It absolutely must. I don’t think a lot of people quite understand how horrific the loss of cleanse is for ret paladins. Cleanse is our primary form of team support (dispelling CC) and a very potent defensive button (dispels snares and things like Immolate), both for the paladin and his teammates.

To put it another way, an arena ret paladin spends something like three out of every five GCDs on cleanse. Possibly an exaggeration? I kid you not, I have Cleanse bound to S on my and I have hit that button more than any other on my keyboard. My average arena rotation as a ret paladin was:

Judgment -> Divine Storm -> Crusader Strike -> Cleanse -> Cleanse -> Judgment -> Cleanse -> Cleanse -> Cleanse -> Cleanse -> Repeat

Losing Cleanse is a huge blow to ret paladins. Absolutely huge. Mages losing polymorph huge.

But as always, Cataclysm will fix it.

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Japanese Mandarin Oranges

What’s up with skipping bosses in Old Kingdom? I’ve seen the mushroom dude skipped a couple times, but lately people are skipping nearly all of them. Groups seem to only do the vampirical fire orb boss and the last boss. That’s three badges you’re intentionally skipping! To that I say “double yoo tee eff?”

That’s three badges people! What… why… I don’t get it! If you’re only after the frost badges, that makes sense. I guess being the tank or healer, with your instant queues, skipping a boss here and there doesn’t really matter at all. But when you’re a DPS looking at ten minute queue times, at least, skipping a boss here and there that would take a minute to three minutes to kill is really painful.

So here’s to you, boss skipping tanks: you suck and I hate you. (more…)

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Holy $%*# Paladins

A few nerfs to holy paladins were announced last night, though I suspect most of them won’t make it through. The LOH one, for instance, has already been removed.

I play a paladin, but I’m not going to talk (much) about the repurcussions to paladins. Rather, I’m going to talk about what such a change has revealed about players in PvP.

My sample size, so far, is limited to the vocal, posting members of the official forums, MMO Champion, and Arena Junkies (AJ).

The two nerfs “everyone” (used in the loosest sense) is talking about are as follows:

  • Sacred Shield can now only occur every 30 sec. (up from 6. The holy talent, Infusion of Light, will reduce the frequency back down to 6 sec.)
  • Lay on Hands can no longer be cast on yourself.

The LOH nerf has already been reverted, the SS nerf is just being thought about. Something is going to happen to SS that doesn’t impact deep holy paladins, but does impact everyone else.

Both of these changes have almost universally been met with loud cheering. Everything from “thank god, finally” to “suck it, paladins” to “finally nerfs to the most unfair class in the game”. (more…)

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Yes, I have a paladin. Some of you know that, I suspect some of you don’t. I know for a fact that very, very few of you know that I actually heal on said Paladin.

Heal instances, even.

All if you who just shivered or otherwise suddenly felt a great deal of fear are forgiven. It’s ok. I’m not exactly a very… responsible person when it comes to my actions.

Cue Scholomance flashback:

Tank: “Do we need to kill all the trash first? What happens if we just pull the bosses?”

Me: “Let’s find out!” /cast Frostbolt

(Those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, there’s a room in Scholo with dozens of neutral, non-elite trash mobs. However, they all turn into hostile elites and immediately engage the party if the boss is pulled first. Good times.)

Cue Wailing Caverns flashback:

Healer: “lol ur easy to heal. much harder at 70″

Me (as warrior tank): “Really? Ok” *swaps to 2H weapon and battle stance*

I believe it was Flirt who said “Yeah… I don’t trust you to tank anything.” (more…)

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Why is This on Fire?

I’m probably not the first one to observe this, but has anyone noticed that Ret Pallies are the primary source of Mage QQ? I’m serious!

The largest group of people yelling that mages need nerfs? Ret Paladins. All those threads that start with “mages are overpowered” or “arcane is OP”? Nearly all of them started by a Ret Paladin or a Ret Paladin’s alt.

Occasionally, a warlock or a warrior, or even a hunter, will show up and cry, but most of them are Ret Paladins.

What gives?

Is there some sort of weird logic where Ret Pallies think that they’re forum avatar will confuse people? It does look very similar to a mage’s avatar, and an untrained eye could easily miss the distinction. Even the symbol doesn’t really help. A glowing stick with a knobby bit on the end or a glowing stick with a somewhat larger knobby bit on the end.

If you’re ever in doubt, the Ret Paladins will be the ones screaming for the mage class to be nerfed. Occasionally, you’ll see a mage calling for nerfs; don’t be alarmed, this is merely a Ret Paladin in a clever disguise.

Why the hate? Why the spewing of bile?

What did we mages ever do to you? (more…)

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