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Archive for May 18th, 2010

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. 😀

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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