Lesson #1: Never tell a bear that you are bored.
In retrospect, it probably wasn't the smartest thing to do, but I couldn't help it. I was bored.
I stood in a stone complex that was built mostly underground, beneath the Archenai ruins. Specifically, we were exploring the well-known Mana Tombs. Just beyond me, in a large room, several orcs – fel orcs, actually – were going about their heathen rituals, heedless that their lives were about to be rudely interrupted. Just ahead of me, at the mouth where the tunnel opened up into the room, stood two humans, a night elf with a sleek grey cat at her side, and a massive bear.
And, just my luck, the bear turned to look at me at the exact moment that I yawned.
I paled as I saw the look of mischief in the beast's eyes. "Syl-" I started in a warning tone, but was broken off.
"Kel's bored, guys," said the bear with a feral grin, "Come on, let's give her something to do!"
I winced and sighed as the bear let out a snarl and charged at the nearest group of fel orcs. This wasn't going to be pretty.
And that was the last conscious thought I had for several moments as I tried frantically to keep my friends alive through the brutal bloodbath that followed.
When the dust settled, there had been a great many casualties – and all but one of them had been orcs. Sending my prayers up, I summed back the soul of Azulie, the night elf's pet cat. Grateful, the cat gave me a head-butt, then padded back to her owner's side, and I, relieved that the excitement was over for the time being, sat down to rest with a skin of refined Draenic water.
As I drank, I eyed my companions with a mix of exasperation and affection. Well, most of the exasperation was aimed at Syl. Short for Syladas, Syl was my favorite bear-tank. He was a druid with a gift for the feral and a love of getting his face bashed in. After growing up in the outlands together, we had become close and we had a special relationship that required as much underhanded teasing as possible. For that matter, teasing was required among most of the friends in my guild. Syl and I just had a more symbiotic relationship than most when it came to our not-quite-snide comments.
Adel was the night elf hunter, and one of my other closest friends. She had a soft spirit and a curious accent that I'd never heard before, even among other night elves. Her kitty, Azulie, had been a constant companion of Adel's since before she had left Azeroth for the dangerous Outlands.
Next to me sat a feminine form of translucent purple. Sause was a lady of the cloth, like me, but she had followed the path of the shadows where I worshiped the path of the holy. The results was that she was a nasty wake-up call to any orc we stumbled across, and her sexy appearance supplemented her dry and sardonic humor. Anyone who met Sause always had one of two immediate reactions – you either loved her or you hated her.
Lastly, our other dark-caster stood a few feet away, her hands glowing with a golden light. In the next moment, there was a soft flash and then a grating voice snarled, "You're fate shall be the same..." as a tall bipedal demon came into existence right behind me.
"Next time you pull the entire dungeon," Silverfox – our resident warlock – told Syl with a frown, "Let me pull out Flaatom, first."
"Alright, alright, let's go!" Syl was hopping up and down.
I rolled my eyes. "Yes, sir!"
"Oh, bite me, Kel. You love me and you know it."
"I can't get enough of your smelly bear butt."
And thus it continued as we progressed through the hive of fel orcs. The nasty creatures were really no match for us and even when Flaatom got a mind of his own and raced off in the opposite direction of the group, pulling 6 more orcs than we had been prepared for, we still got through to the deepest room of the complex with only two deaths – mine.
"I feel so dirty when I have to heal," Sause whined as she rezzed me for the second time.
I laughed, "But you love feeling dirty."
Sause paused, then shrugged with a grin, "Yeah."
Shortly after, we discovered secret of the mana tombs – a huge air elemental named Murmur. Ironically, like any sect of evil beings, the orcs and their leaders had tried to delve into powers they could not understand, and the summoned elemental didn't appreciate being held captive. Thus had set off an epic battle in the depths of the dungeon and when we arrived there was no obvious victor.
Until we arrived.
The orcs fell quickly beneath Syl and Azulie's claws, Flaatom's axe, Adel's arrows and Silver and Sause's spells, and soon we were standing before the giant Murmur. "Try to get your big bear butt over the barriers this time," I retorted with a smirk in Syl's direction.
"Yeah yeah yeah." Syl continued his incestuous jumping. "We ready?"
The others had already spread out around the large pool that held Murmur captive. I stepped up to my place at the center where I could heal most of the party – except Sause who always insisted that she could heal herself just fine. Yeah, I know, irony.
I nodded. "Go."
3 minutes and 30 seconds later, Syl was dodging out of the way of 30 foot long axe as it came crashing to the ground, the only sign of where the massive air elemental once stood.
"That's right, baby!" The bear hooted.
"One has to wonder," Silver mused in her usual mellow tone as we made our way out of the mana tombs, "Why he never uses that axe in battle. It's big enough to cause some serious hurt."
"Bring it on," Sause cooed with a yawn of her own, which caused a look of mischievous glee to flash over Syl's bear-face.
20 minutes – and 3 piles of dead arakkoa – later, I had decided that I would personally beat the next person who yawned in front of Syladas.
Lesson #2: War is 5% action and 95% sitting on your butt.
That night, as I curled up on one of the exotic beds atop the Scryer's Platteu Inn, I couldn't shake the feeling someone was with me, even though I was the only person there. I drifted in and out of sleep, sometimes dreaming, and would periodically snap awake to the sense of something warm rumbling against my back. At one point, I rolled over and felt the very distinct sense of thick, warm fur before I jerked awake again and found my bed empty. Shaken, I eventually gave up any attempt to sleep and pulled myself out of the bed. As I was leaving the back room of the inn, I stopped and turned and jumped. On the bed I had just vacated sat a large white spotted cat, blinking at me with wide blue eyes. When I blinked, stunned, the cat disappeared.
"Oookay," I whispered to myself, shaken. "That's... not normal."
* * *
By that afternoon, I had almost forgotten the strange dream – which is what it must have been. Only a nagging sense of being watched stayed with me, but this was Shattrath, the greatest city in all of the Outlands. Any one of the thousands of residents and visitors could have been watching me at any given time. Still, when it came time to leave the Naruu-hosted sanctuary and head out to the Blades Edge Mountains, I breathed a deep sigh of relief.
Have you ever wondered how much of war is sweat and glory and how much is sitting around on your butt, waiting and planning and waiting some more? Well, if war is anything like a mass attack on Gruul's Lair, I can tell you that about 5% of the time is spent in action, and 95% waiting around. Fortunately, even that waiting around was filled with long litanies of:
"I need Kings!"
"Come see me if you need the unstable vial of the bandit!"
"Don't you think we should put Sause in the healer group?"
"She is in the healer group."
"No, the other healer group!"
And on and on and on. What this meant, though, was that I didn't have time to think about my rough night, or the fact that even here, surrounded by guild members and friends, I still felt that itch between my shoulder blades. Someone was watching me.
"Kel! Come dance with me!"
"I need a summon, please."
"Anyone have any spare vials of mana oil?"
"Syl, if you don't put that disgusting tentacle staff away RIGHT NOW, I'll make sure you never get another buff, ever again."
Some things never change.
* * *
It took us 5 hours of standing around and yelling to be heard over one another, and 20 minutes total action time, but that night I was able to see a sight I'd never seen before – Gruul's dead corpse lying in the center of his wide, circular lair.
There was much screaming and yelling and celebrating. Someone took a picture of everyone standing in front of the smelly beast with one of Curgle Cranklehop's Super Snapper FXs. And then the leader of our raid, a formal paladin and skilled healer named Sohl, took the liberty to dig through the dead corpse for loot.
As great magical items were placed with their new owners, I sat back and let myself relax. Strangely, I noticed that I didn't feel like I was being watched anymore. Perhaps, I mused, my peeping tom was not a member of my guild, and thus not present during this epic battle. Or maybe I was just imagining things.
My mind began to wander to other topics, and I found myself speaking aloud. "So, precisely what dragon did Gruul kill?"
The leader of our guild, and one of our greatest Azerothian (and Outland) historians, turned to shoot me a knowing grin. "The dragonflight."
"Huh? The whole thing?"
"Yup. History says that when the dragonflight entered the outlands, Gruul impaled the dragons on the spikes around the Blades Edge Mountains."
I thought about the gibungous (one of Syl's favorite words) dragons that still hung limp on the stone spikes that made up the mountain range. Then I looked at Gruul.
"Forgive me my stupidity, but isn't he a quarter of the size of one of those dragons out there?"
"Yeah, but... he's Gruul."
I let the matter drop with a shrug, "Well, he's a dead Gruul, now."
X-posted to wow_ladies