The past two weeks have been… frustrating.
This frustration is not solely down to the fact that my steps inevitably brought me close to the home of my parents despite my profound efforts to avoid visiting that farm, although it does not help. (That is, to be fair, getting ahead of myself.) Nor is it a matter of finding the people still shouting uncomfortable slurs, now some of them even directed at me by extension (even if those shouting were unaware of it).
No, the frustration chiefly comes down to the sheer sense of tedium in my activities. Not due to any sense that these are solved problems, either; I have found myself growing to accept that there will be no return to my own time, that my life is here now. But so much of my time is occupied by doing nothing that even existing now becomes grating, with no relief from the plodding moments.
Helping the mountaineers and archaeologists of Loch Modan meant dealing with troggs, foul primitives with more aggression than sense. This was far more frustrating than it needed to be. Several objectives required wading into camps full of troggs, and it was here that frustration set in simply because, as mentioned, my connection with the Light is weaker than it is in my time.
This isn’t simply a change of me; it’s a change in the very nature of being a Paladin. In my time, while fighting three troggs is undoubtedly dangerous, it can be done reliably. In this time, doing so would inevitably kill me. But there are no alternatives to doing so, no ways of working around this rather than finding random passersby and press-ganging them into service for half a minute’s worth of work.
It’s one thing to say that the art of war requires a clever mind and a keen eye, something that my trainer was quick to point out all those years ago when she first tutored me in combat. But keen analysis matters little when you have no options beyond hoping for nearby assistance on any given occasion. Having to engage, slay one trogg, and then dart away in hopes that his comrades would break off the pursuit and give me leave to recover and re-engage was tedious, not challenging.
Even worse was the sheer amount of time spent simply running from place to place. My mind kept leaping at the thought of having my warhorse back shortly, only to remind myself a moment later that the weaker connection to the Light meant that, too, was a long way away. No, it would be walking for some time to come, and this along large stretches of ground that remain uninteresting and unengaging.
You’d not think that weakened as I am, tedium would be the operating word. But so often it was just that; marching along long stretches of lakeside to eventually reach my destination, followed by the same slow process of grinding things down with my sword and seals. My every pulse of strength felt earned, but not at a rate that matched the slow swelter of the time spent simply waiting to do something.
Ceilidh, for her part, seems perfectly content with this state of affairs. She possesses a patience I do not; whether it is due to the lack of contrast or simply a difference in our fundamental natures is unclear. The time it takes for her to accomplish things has not dissuaded her in the least, and I do make a point of not griping overmuch when we are spending time together.
My efforts in broadening my initial circle have been something of a series of non-starters. The first step is trying to introduce myself in a conversation that is not already so toxic as to be not worth speaking within; if I have not sufficiently stressed the character of many such conversations, they make the mere prospect of speech feel uncomfortable. Transcribing the things that have been said would feel like misrepresenting someone in the worst possible light.
I mean, really, who would believe that someone tried to argue that all mages dressed like women, which meant that all men who practice magic must lay with other men, and that fact is a bad thing? And who would believe that people would then agree with that first person? And that was one of the less awful moments.
Even when topics are less unapproachable, however, the nature of things remains. Talking with others is occasionally fruitful, frequently cold, and no more likely to prompt lasting connections than those in my own time. While some inconveniences require more talking, it is not in any way a more bonding experience, any more than talking with a vendor about what is available in stock constitutes bonding.
No doubt my frustration is seeping through in part due to my trip to Redridge Mountains. My goal had been to avoid even approaching that side of Elwynn Forest, but it became clear that my steps inevitably led there. I kept my eyes on the road, hurrying even past the guard tower along the border.
I couldn’t bear to see my father and mother again after the Cataclysm when they were still
Redridge Mountains itself looks somewhat more serene in the past, of course; these places were far more lovely without the ravages of time. It was a joy to see the bridge in more-or-less a whole state. Yet at the same time, the changes reminded me as much about what has not changed as what has.
Certainly Redridge is in a more whole state. But even in my time we are scouring gnolls from the same regions, fighting the same black dragon whelps, and the same people are offering to cook Redridge Goulash in exchange for the still-warm ingredients. If not for simple realities of linear time I would swear that the same children were dropping necklaces in the lake and needing retrieval. Is it really that different?
It has not been a simple cavalcade of misery, as much as my patience may have worn down. I spent last night sharing drinks and friendly conversation with a druid from Darnassus, a man with a deep laugh and far more energy than I had. He was simply enjoying his time exploring the world, with no real thought about a destination. If I could push the destination from my mind, perhaps my own frustration would abate.
Is that what awaits me here? A test of devotion? Willing myself into a deliberate stupor, not just forgetting but forcibly excising what calls to me from a world so changed in so many ways?
When we stood against the Legion, there was a woman who worked alongside me, a Shaman of the Draenei. She insisted that there was aught preventing me from speaking to the spirits of the world, that if I simply willed myself to hear their presence it would be open to me. But it remained impossible to me. One cannot simply decide to believe something in direct contravention to one’s own senses.
This troubled me not in years past, but those years are past. And so I write in my room by candlelight, frustrated by this journey, by its languid pace that has nothing to offer except that slow process. I don’t know that I precisely miss my own time, filled with is many scars and trauma, but that does not make this feel any more like home.
May the Light forgive me if this means I am turning away from my devotion.