Sunday, June 16, 2013

Epilogue


I spent much of the return trip poring over the snapshots Daj’yah had taken of Zul’gurub, wishing very keenly that I’d been there to see.  She was in a much better mood on the return trip; receiving tribal sanction for her position in Booty Bay came as an immense relief to her.

“Mala’ha is still wanting me to start a family there or something.  At least the city gives me more choices than the tribe.  Not sure if that will help, but it’s something.  Besides, she said I had to try; I don’t have to succeed.”

“Do you want to succeed?”

“Not so sure.  Maybe I’m needing to figure that out before anything else.”

Lines of mold greeted us when we opened the door to our apartment, green thickets of the stuff cascading down around a window open to the tropical air.

“Who left the window open?” demanded Daj’yah.

Neither of us could remember who was last in the room, so we satisfied ourselves by blaming the warchief. 

The Bay Dispatch had not been entirely pleased with my request for time off so I volunteered for a week without pay to make up for it.  I had enough money stored up to pay for the rent, and satisfied myself with conjuring my own food and drink.  Given Daj'yah's status and ability, the Steamwheedle Cartel had been more willing to give her the free time (the information and opportunities she brought back with her served to sweeten the deal).

Life resumed as it had before our countryside sojourn, time seeming to pause in a contented blur of work followed by relaxation.  Many nights saw Daj’yah and I simply reading in the apartment, occasionally reciting a particularly choice passage but largely enjoying the quiet.  We weren’t total recluses; the city still beckoned with its lights and excitement, occasionally pulling us out from the Portview Arms to wander its streets, unburdened by any urgency or destination. 

Others drifted in to this pleasant milieu from time to time, Felya being the most frequent visitor.  She often came by unannounced, telling us the latest about the city’s life, the endless ups and downs, the novel cabarets that popped into existence only to vanish the next night.

Felya always tried to wheedle us out of the apartment and succeeded on occasion.  Daj’yah and I made an arrangement for these situations—as someone still alive, she could plead exhaustion, giving us a quick exit in case Felya’s adventure of the night turned out to be more involved than expected. 

I kept up on news regarding the world, both on and off the job.  The Horde stiffened its resolve in Kalimdor, setting up formidable bulwarks across Ashenvale and the Southern Barrens.  The Horde’s depleted forces made further advances impossible, but the surviving warriors vowed to consolidate that which they still held.

However, fresh troops and big guns have a way of dislodging even the most honorable of fighters.  Stormwind’s vanguard had already made landfall in Dustwallow Marsh, uprooting the few pockets of Horde resistance still in the wilderness. 

Ugliness emerged from within the Alliance as it inched towards victory.  Though distrustful of the Horde, the Dispatch did not hesitate to cover stories of Alliance privateers setting alight the coast of Durotar, the partisan crews seeing all orcs as fair game.  The overstretched Horde navy rarely reacted in time, their slow ships finding only the bloody aftermath of such attacks.

The Lordaeronian front remained curiously quiet after the Stromgarders repelled the last Forsaken advance.  Though some hailed their gallantry as a turning point, cooler heads pointed out that they’d be unlikely to survive a second full-on assault.

Some of the delay came from the Alliance’s understandable (if perhaps overcautious) insistence on securing the shipping lines to Lordaeron’s southern coast.   The Alliance probably wishes to secure Tol Barad and the Twilight Highlands before launching a full-scale assault.  The former gives its owner a great deal of air coverage over Gilneas, while the latter still hosts a large Horde fleet.

It is a peculiar situation that Warchief Hellscream would choose to invest so heavily in the Twilight Highlands.  He is, in effect, acting as a bulwark for the Forsaken even as his own defenses crumble.  His forces in the east have been effective, but they are unlikely to make any significant inroads, and will eventually be worn down by Alliance pressure.  

I will admit a certain relief at being so distant from such events.  Perhaps I should not be so hasty; distance no longer means as much as it did in the past.  Nonetheless, I have found a wondrous respite from the Horde's exhausting and self-destructive conflict.  I truly do not know if I am still considered a part of that faction.  

If I am no longer able to travel the world, Booty Bay at least offers a place where the world might travel to me.  Nowhere else in Azeroth can one find such a teeming and cosmopolitan multitude, free to talk and to trade as they see fit.  One needs only to walk down the street to see visitors from a hundred different lands both on and beyond our world.  No one here cares that there are no eyes in my face.

There is no such thing as a perfect place, and Booty Bay is still rife with the sin, callousness, and vice of Steamwheedle society.  For now, in the company of friends, I am content with its imperfections.

*********

((Thank you again for sticking with me through these entries. It's been a great deal of fun, but I simply have to prioritize other matters.

Again, for those who would like to read the unpublished Eastern Kingdoms material, please email me at destron@live.com. The content will cover the Tainted Scar and most of Stormwind, though it does end quite abruptly.

I will continue to write, but will focus on stories that I can publish. In case you missed the earlier update, you can find my first published work here, at Bewildering Stories.))