Saturday, June 20, 2015

Story of Vlad: Chapter VI, Familiar faces

Chapter I, The Assault
Chapter II, He who resists
Chapter III, Rotten to the core
Chapter IV, The Resurrection
Chapter V, The Return to New Avalon

Jesus fuck. I finished it. It's only been three years since I last wrote a word about Vlad.

Amid the mist, a figure formed against the grey canvas at a slow pace. Its features became more accurate, its outline sharper as it moved closer, eventually contouring an image of a hooded woman. Her dark brown gown was wrapped loosely around her, hiding a curvy figure. Her face was partially covered by a scarf, yet leaving her green eyes, thick, dark eyebrows and a part of her forehead exposed to the humid air.

Despite the years and the shattering, the place was still tormented by the plague of undeath, holding the restless souls as prisoners in the cursed ghost town. The woman peered around as she walked as if looking for something, yet knowing where she would find it. The look in her eyes became more focused as she walked up to a small house. It lay in ruins: the chimney had collapsed through the roof, flames had coloured most of the wooden parts black years ago. She walked around it, dragging her hand along its scorched walls, until she suddenly stopped on the southeastern side of the little house. Next to the wall rested a mound; the final reminder of the nightmare, a waygate to the past. The woman crouched and peered at it. The unkempt barrow grew weed, which was an unusual sight in the long deserted township. While it showed no signs of tending, it emanated something comforting. The woman's face softened and her eyes got damp, finally allowing a teardrop to descend along her cheek.

A dried bough cracked under the pressure of a heavy boot. It startled the woman and caused her to cast a rapid gaze over her shoulder. A dark figure approached her slowly and calmly, stopping a few feet away from her. She pulled down the scarf that covered her mouth, stood up tardily and turned towards the figure that seemingly awaited her response to its presence. As the black saronite plate gave away his former alignment with ease, she spoke coldly, but with caution.
- I'm not sure how your kind has the backbone to step on these grounds anymore. I think it would be wise of you to turn around and walk away.
The figure gave the woman an echoing, nearly instant reply.
- Hello, Birgitta.
Her face was pale, her eyes wide open as she stared straight at the masculine figure. She followed him with her shocked gaze as he walked to her side. His sorrowful eyes descended upon the barrow - the barrow that so faithfully contained the remains of what was once the dearest thing to him. And as it succumbed to the chill of the grave, a part of him was buried as well.
- I thought... I... thought... you died, Birgitta stuttered.
- I did die, he murmured between his rotting teeth, granting Birgitta a grim glare. The woman swallowed, quickly realising the clumsiness of her remark. - Just if the light-forsaken bastards had left it there.
- They reanimated you into a monster... Where you behind th--, Birgitta took an abrupt breath, as if she had forgotten to breathe. - Did you kill Isa?!
Vladan narrowed his eyes visibly, still looking at the grave. He grabbed onto the hilt of his runeblade and pierced the ground with it, which caused Birgitta to gasp and take a step back in fear. Vladan turned towards her, still holding on to the tip of the hilt.
- How dare you even consider that?
- Since you still have your life, it must've cost that of others!
The words seemed to strike Vladan somehow. He pulled the sword out of the soil and peered at the glowing blade, turning the edge towards himself and away again.
- I should have ended it myself long ago, but I was afraid. Too cowardly to take my own life! he yelled and seemed increasingly riled for a moment. - I fear what awaits me, Birgitta, as foolish as I am to believe those holy rollers when they speak of the purgatory.
Birgitta remained silent, merely examining him, the expression on her face becoming less judgmental by the second.
- I must be in a dream, she whispered in disbelief.
- This, Vladan began, - This is as real as it gets. I've run away from it long enough. My life cost that of many, and most of all, that of my wife and my daughter. I'm ready for what comes.
As teardrops slowly descended along Birgitta's cheeks, a feeling he thought long forgotten awakened somewhere deep inside. A faint glimmer of clemency. Compassion.
- Vladan..., Birgitta's voice turned into a fragile shade of what it was just a moment ago, as if she had suddenly become scared of him. She slowly turned towards him, her mahogany hair covering most of her face. - I'm sorry.

- Birgitta? a yell reached the two from a distance.
- I'll be right there, honey! she replied fast, shamelessly disguising her voice chirpier.
Although she seemed doubtful for a short moment, Birgitta hastily scrabbled inside the neckline of her gown. She pulled out a small locket that appearead golden. It was attached to a tarnished necklace of different material, perhaps copper. She handed - no - threw it over to Vladan, expressing slight disgust at the thought of touching him.
Vladan, taken by surprise, caught the locket and gently embraced it against his palm. Upon raising his eyes from his hand, Birgitta had left. She walked hastily towards a horse carriage in the mist ahead. Vladan lowered his leer back to the small locket in his hand. Secured by the tiniest of locks, it snapped open with ease, revealing a daguerreotype of a girl no older than 15 years of age.

Her hair was dark brown, her eyebrows strong and her gaze steadfast. Her face carried familiar features, very familiar indeed. His eyes. Her nose. Definitely her bone structure, apart from the girl's jaw. His jaw.
- It couldn't be..., Vladan whispered.
Distant echos reached Vladan, who remained silent and frozen still at the grave.
- Is everything okay? Was that someone you knew?
- Just a familiar face from the past, that's all.

Find your way, my brave darklands' son
Wizards, kings, elves and trolls
Thank you, angels
I am now reborn
(Rhapsody of Fire - Son of Pain)

Friday, February 20, 2015

New UI

What do you think? I'm not quite sure what I think. It's certainly tidier than the old one. I've begun to record raids again and I noticed how crappy my UI looked on the videos, so I had to do something about it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Connecting - You have been disconnected from the server

This was definitely the least smooth launch I've ever had, simply because I wasn't even able to log on. After finishing my daily errands, I logged on at about 11 pm my time, two hours prior to launch. At lauch I lagged like mad, just like everyone else, got stuck on a loading screen, was teleported to Shrine, had no portals, flew to the Stormwind portal in Paw'don, was stuck on a loading screen and got disconnected. After that I spent about an hour trying to log on to no avail, while the friends I was on Skype were managed to get a good amount of quests done in Draenor. So not everyone had a rough launch. I'm perfectly fine with lagging in game at launch, it's just a part of it... But it was a little disappointing I didn't get to experience so much of that rush this time, the madness of trying to tag mobs before anyone else's finger could tap their key. Or being stuck in a huge swarm of helicopters, like in Pandaria, which seemed like a very smooth launch at first.

I'm not complaining, though. So far Warlords of Draenor seems like a very good expansion, and the questing was made perfect. No question about that - from me anyway. I love that you don't spend ages questing in the same place in an area, but do a couple of quests here and then move there. It is the perfect style of questing for me, and I love it, as well as the "events." I am not level 100 yet, although I stayed up for over 24 hours on the day of the launch. Or maybe that is why, since my leveling efficiency wasn't very high a few hours into the expansion.

Well, what kind of a launch did you have? Have you been present at any other WoW launch?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Well, well, well - look who we have here

I did the inevitable. I took a break from WoW. My last blog update, and the only blog update of 2014, until this one of course, was in January; but no, that's not when I started my break. That's perhaps when I should have started my break. Should I have had my break then, things might be quite different from now. But no, I did the worst thing I could do - went mysteriously inactive for a time too long, and announced my break to what was left of my guild sometime during the summer. Kinsey was on a break, Lanfranco was on a break and not even certain if he'd play in Warlords of Draenor or not. I made the decision to put down the mantle of the Hex Machine for the time of my break, and made a trusted guildy the guild master. But that didn't work out, and the guild remained rather inactive until my return in the midst of this month. I made my return the night before the Warlords patch went live. The following day, there I was again, on World of Warcraft, alongside my good friends and co-guild masters Lanfranco and Kinsey, feeling excited about the game after so long. Lanfranco's face looked bloody awesome.

I returned to be a part of no raid team. I returned burdened with feelings of sadness, guilt and regret - feelings I'll probably never be able to shake off completely. I returned to a dying guild - yes, it is about time I admit Menagerie is a dying guild. Our Menagerie. The least I can do is lay the guild to rest honorably, just once I can gather my bones together to be the guild master I should have been all along. It's not impossible that Menagerie would one day rise to raid again, but for now I don't possess the motivation, energy or time to do it. And, I secretly admit that I'd like to be just a regular raider for a while. Imagine me saying that! I, who once said I could never imagine not being a guild master anymore. But now, as I've been that for over three years now, I could swear I'd never take that position again. It is an exhausting job, and I truly give my respects to anyone who can do that actively for years.

Finally - after four years and over 200 attempts.
 To be honest, I made a terrible guild master in the first place. I am too proud and too stubborn for a position like that. And too kind, as well. I never really understood why anyone would like to be in a guild with Nicasia as the holder of the highest rank. Must have been because of Kinsey and Frank. I enjoy being very hard on myself emotionally, and carrying the weight of a guild on my shoulders just isn't a good addition to that.

But yet, to have been the guild master of Menagerie is one of the greatest honors I have received in my life, and an experience I have learnt much from. Each and every member of the guild, current and past, has my heartfelt thanks for being a part of that crazy ride. Menagerie achieved a lot, not only in the way of raiding. While guilds are known have lived longer than that, not many do in the end. And not many mean as much to their founders as my guild does to me. No other guild will ever be referred to as my guild, for there is no guild I can feel as proud of as I do of my Menagerie.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Level 100 shaman talents

As I first saw the level 100 talents for shaman on Wowhead, it didn't take long 'till I had found my favorite.

Yep. Storm Elemental Totem definitely sounds like the best choice for raiding, particularly when we're talking about single-target oriented fights. It also sounds like the best one for Brawler's Guild style soloing - and I do hope we get new Brawler's bosses for level 100, since that was definitely one of my favorite features in Mists of Pandaria. And of course I'll welcome any new elemental companion. What will this one be called, air or storm idiot? Gusting idiot? I do wonder, though, if it will either replace one of the existing elementals, or if it can be summoned simultaneously with either of the two.

At the moment I don't play enhancement on any shaman of mine, but I don't get the "I'm definitely not going to get that one" feeling from any of the talents considering that specialization. I have to say that none of the talents sound particularly exciting for restoration, at least from my point of view. So far it looks like I'll be going for either Storm Elemental Totem or Rainstorm on my resto shaman Damjan, who I've really enjoyed later in Mists of Pandaria.

For elemental, Rainstorm sounds like the average passive talent. Very simple, no need to worry about it or think about it. One that I might consider going for if I was new to the class, or if I didn't play it as main.

If Reach of the Elements was passive for elemental, I would probably go for it in most situations, even if they nerfed its AoE effect. Exceptions would be those where I need extra burst and the Storm Elemental would come in handy. With my current talents I've tried to maximize sustained DPS over burst, which is a decision I've been rather happy with. I'd like to continue doing so with a passive talent like this one.

Naturally some, or all of the talents will be changed somehow before they go live. For now, you can view all the current talents here. If we leave the shaman subject for a moment, some talents for other classes that I really like include Defile for death knights, With or Without You for hunters and Death from Above for rogues.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Community blog topic: What would you buy from the in-game store?

Here are my thoughts regarding WoW Insider's old community blog topic of the week. What would you buy from the in-game store?

I was one of those people who always swore they'd never buy anything from the Blizzard store. That they already pay enough for the game itself. Then came a time when I wanted to revamp my rogue, my second ever top level character. I ended up paying 20€ for appearance change. Later on I paid 40€ for server changes when their prices were reduced.

I would consider buying mounts or pets if they were ones I wanted really, really badly. Same with cosmetic items, but I guess the barrier for those would be higher. I've received two 20€ mounts as gifts: the heart of the aspects and the enchanted fey dragon, whom I wanted from the moment I first saw it, and named her Tiki Tiki. The golden dragon joined my squad early this year, and Tiki Tiki was an early Christmas gift.

I made no pro-alliance gingerbread this year, but nevertheless, I wish you all a merry late Christmas and a very happy new year!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Warlords of Draenor

I am shamefully uninformed about the subject, but I am sure the reason to that won't stay hidden for long.

I was afraid to be excited about the next expansion to begin with. For long it's been obvious that it would be something Burning Legion related. Now, it seems that the Burning Crusade is overall considered the most missed time period of WoW, as well as the best expansion. The mere thought of Blizzard trying to please the older players by bringing back Outland-ish locations and characters makes me grimace.

As I mentioned, I am uninformed. Very much so indeed. Regardless, I think it's rather worrying that the feature I am most excited about is the item level squish. I am not overly worried about it, though. As with Mists of Pandaria, my excitement for the features grew over time, so I'm definitely giving myself more time to acquire information about Warlords of Draenor before my final judgement.

I have to say, however, that having kind of missed out on the whole draenei scene in Outland, I'm excited to really dive into the world and heritage of my main character Nicasia. I think it will bring a lot of depth to her character, as well as make the leveling (and playing overall) experience enjoyable, in-depth and interesting.

But still: