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Archive for May 19th, 2010

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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