WoW (Classic) Factor: The journal of Nieve Vinther – final entry

    
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We all become done.

Let me write about the day that the Cataclysm arrived.

I wasn’t going home. I just happened to be in Elwynn Forest, really, visiting an old trainer and introducing him to my boyfriend at the time. We were sharing a glass of wine, he was laughing about the way that an early exercise had me toppling into the water in the freezing cold of early winter. My laughter was of the shamed sort, but still warm; it was a funny story, one told with love rather than loathing. The sky was bright.

We noticed when it grew darker, of course. How could we not? But none of us thought anything of it until we heard the bells ringing from the towers, the shouts of guards. We ran out of doors to see that dark shape in the sky, so low to the ground that the smell of smoke and molten steel pulverized my nose, even as the shape moved toward the boundary with the Redridge Mountains.

It would be comforting to say that the Light gave me some forewarning, but it did no such thing. It was simply a panic that gripped my chest, leading me to leap onto my horse, to start riding as fast as her hooves would strike the pavement. People were running and screaming away toward Goldshire even before the first fire hit.

He wasn’t even trying to destroy anything. It was just a lazy roll of flame, licking alone the land, burning off foliage, setting houses ablaze, but scarcely a fraction of his actual might as he blasted the land beneath him.

Only when he reached the boundary did he truly breathe. I didn’t see it happen directly; there was no way that my steed could match the speed of a dragon in flight. But the flames burned bright on the horizon, orange and red and hellish, giving my mount cause to buck in panic before I pressed my hand to her head and sent the soothing calm of the Light through her.

It did nothing for me.

Everything hurts.

The flames burned as hot as the core of Blackrock Mountain as I rode into the storm, ignoring the soldiers calling to me, ignoring everything as we pounded down the blackened stones of the road toward the farm. I knew it was pointless. I knew it was idiotic. I thought there was a chance, the slightest chance that I could…

My family’s farmhouse was aflame. The roof had caved in, the door hanging ajar. With a prayer on my lips I burst into the door, feeling the head bite and snap at me, willing the Light to keep me healed as I searched for my parents in the collapsing rubble.

The body of my mother lay on the first floor, but at first my eyes missed her because a timber had already snapped and crushed her head and half of her body, only the sight of the scarf around her wrist before it was swallowed by flames letting me know that it was her. My father was nowhere to be seen. Heavy feet ran to the stairs, pulling myself up along them even as the wood groaned and gave way behind me.

I could see him. He was there. The roof was collapsing, had already half-snapped, and wood formed what seemed like a hellish barrier between me and him. But he was only somewhat harmed, only had a small dribble of blood seeping from his forehead, only a bookshelf collapsed onto his left leg. This was doable.

The strength of the Light was in me. I pulled away timbers. I felt my skin searing, burning, the reserves of power in my waning as the wood snapped before my movements. The house itself seemed to be screaming. I was screaming. It seemed for a moment that my father moved, like he heard my voice…

Everything fell.

My world was a crush of wood and ash and fire. Instinct took over. The weight of the house fell upon me and him both.

When they pulled me free of the rubble it had been nearly four hours and my body was covered in burns. It was only the last-minute ward I threw up around myself that avoided my own death. My boyfriend didn’t know how to tell me that my parents were dead and just cried; he didn’t need to, of course. I’d known that.

I had always known that. I knew it the moment I walked into that house.

There was a splinter inside of my heart from that day forward, a knowledge that something had broken and would never be fixed. My strength grew. The Light seemed to work its way into me from that angry point, that ache, as if the pain itself brought me insight about the world.

Where once incantations were needed, now my power was simply innate. The evil and menacing fell before me. People hailed me as a hero, as a champion. Every day it became easier for me to earn that praise, and it meant nothing to me. Not because of the difficulty in earning it, because that splinter still remained. My heart was savaged.

My boyfriend and I split up before the mists parted around Pandaria. I withdrew, then I withdrew further, and by the time the Iron Horde burst through a portal there was no longer space for me. Those who were still with their friends, hale and hearty… they still found some joy, certainly. But it was simply the motions for me.

I recall.

Tedious.

Frustrating.

How did I not see?

How did so much escape me until I did the one thing I had been avoiding in this time for so long?

The farm still stood in this time. And at long last, my steps led me there. The one thing I had been so scrupulously avoiding.

I went to see my parents.

No… that’s a lie. Because it was still a few dozen paces to the house when the shouting was clear as day. The early darkness had already spread across the land, but the stars were not yet out, meaning that it was still onto the shouting between the two of them, insults and invective and hatred crossing the space of the evening air.

Given an hour or so more and the sound of impact would be heard. Never too much. Never enough to force anyone to intervene.

Standing where I stood, the dirt on my greaves, the feeling of cool air on my face, my eyes closed… it was so easy to see myself again huddled in my bedroom, waiting, fearing, shrinking. Knowing how wrong everything was, withdrawing. Building myself a space in my mind that was safe, something no one could touch.

Loneliness. Frustration. Tedious, pointless misery.

I was never really here.

It must have been half an hour before I finally turned and walked away, gripping my hearthstone to bring me back to Loch Modan. Ceilidh didn’t ask where I had been. She talked at me for some twenty minutes, then let me sulk off to her spare room to write. I don’t think she knew how to say what was clear on my face.

She wasn’t alone.

Sitting here, crying, the whole thing seems so unbearably and pointlessly cruel. All of the frustration, all the cruelty, all the unending and aimless wandering has brought me no joy. And yet to think of that moment in the house, to think of the things that followed that horrible collapse… does that sound any better?

This life in the past is unsatisfying and hollow. Half a life.

The life left to me in my own time is no more complete.

There is a story among the Kul Tirans of crossing the sea, forced into a narrow strait between a great kraken in the deeper waters and a sea giant on the land. To reduce one danger is to sail into the arms of the other.

Is that all there is? Was that all that this was meant to teach me? That between the destruction of the future and the pain of the past waits nothing, only darkness?

Could the truth of all that has happened to me simply be that two extremes end up ultimately meeting in the middle? That it is no less lonely at either time, no less unwelcoming to me?

What lessons are there here? What hope is there for

[The remaining pages in this journal are blank.]
Just to make absolutely sure no one forgets, while I might like to normally forsake end-of-post author’s notes right here, the conclusion to this story was written well before Blizzard’s shoddy handling of matters with esports players around Hong Kong. Seriously, this part was plotted out when the first installment was finished and it was written before the third installment went live, so this one predates that significantly. I will assume regular readers know that I did an article this week about how badly Blizzard has handled this, but the short version is that this conclusion in no way should be read as ameliorating or condoning any of that behavior.
War never changes, but World of Warcraft does, with a decade of history and a huge footprint in the MMORPG industry. Join Eliot Lefebvre each week for a new installment of WoW Factor as he examines the enormous MMO, how it interacts with the larger world of online gaming, and what’s new in the worlds of Azeroth and Draenor.

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Bruno Brito

SHE DED

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

Brutal, and probably too raw for mass consumption, and leaves me a bit concerned for the author, which I mean by way of a compliment. The ending brings to mind the recent video by Overly Sarcastic Productions on YouTube about ‘darkest hours’.

hurbster
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hurbster

Well, that was depressing.

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TomTurtle

You’ve managed to make me feel sad and care for a fictional character.

I enjoyed this series. Thanks.