As I stepped out of the mid-morn sun that shone down on Ogrimmar and into the soft glow of the orphanage candles, Matron Battlewail was already expecting me. Somewhere in the darkness of the building, I thought I heard Tosamina, her assistant, being torn apart by a trio of particularly excitable orc boys. Battlewail smiled at me, although part of me thought it looked more out of malice than joy.
“It is good to see you again, Glaciel,” she had said. “Punctual as always. Please, come in, have a seat. You’ll have to forgive the mess; the Blacksword twins got into another argument. Nearly punched all the way through to the wall, one did.” I smiled. Matron Battlewail always rambles when we meet; she claims it comes from the nerves of meeting a Hero of the Horde… I think she just likes me because I show her charges kindness year round, instead of simply during Children’s Week.
I turned down her hospitality. I knew I had a long day ahead of me and I knew it. She seemed to as well, as she promptly shook her head, laughing. “Of course. You’ve come for Telen, haven’t you? She has been talking about your trip for the last mo-“
“Mommy G!” a little voice called out, and a weight crashed into the back of my right leg. My finger twitched, the last remenant of my paranoia and instincts from a darker time. Instead, I laughed, reaching down to ruffle the blood elf girl’s blonde hair. “And good morning to you too, little one.”
Telen couldn’t be old enough to have been alive during what the humans dubbed ‘The First War’, nor remember anything about the second one. Still, she reminds me a lot of myself at her age… maybe that’s why I keep coming back.
Telen let go after a minute, and her wide-eyed smile changed to a pout. “Mommy G, you promised me!” I laughed, and pulled my hood down, letting my white-blue hair fall around my face. “So I did. So I did.”
She had made me promise to keep my hood down more, especially when she was around. Said she wanted the whole world to ‘see my pretty blue eyes’. I didn’t have the heart to explain that keeping my eyes, and thus my status as a Death Knight, hidden was the entire point of the hood.
Telen nodded, smiling the whole time. “That’s better! You’ve come to play with me, right Mommy G?” Almost, I told her, but I had something bigger planned.
“Tell me, Telen, have you ever heard of the Darkmoon Faire?”
Come One, Come All!
Telen had been beside herself, bouncing off the walls and chatting up a storm as girls her age were prone to do. She went on endlessly about the stories she’d heard from the other children about a magic land called Darkmoon and the wondrous faire they put on once a month. Her good mood was infectous, and soon she was dragging me out of the orphanage just as fast as her little legs could carry her.
“Be careful, you two!” Matron Battlewail called out to us as we rounded the corner. “Rumor has it there’s a Darkmoon mage on the cliffs above us! She can teleport you directly to the fairgrounds!” She had said more, but by that point Telen had dragged me well out of hearing range, through the Valley of Strength, and onto the lift that led to the bluff overlooking Ogrimmar.
Telen spotted the mage before I did, to our left and slightly down the path from the lift. I reached for my hood when I saw her, but with Telen near I knew I couldn’t without her pouting me into submission. Instead, I settled for a soft curse.
The mage was a blood elf.
The Darkmoon Faire Mystic Mage was in a long green dress with purple and gold trim, the Darkmoon Faire logo displayed proudly across her chest. She smiled as we approached her position under the Darkmoon Eye banner, but I could see even from a distance it was forced and hollow.
“Welcome, friends! The Darkmoon Faire is in full swing! Would you like transportation to the fairegrounds? Only thirty silver a piece!”
Telen and I both nodded, and I pulled out a gold coin. “The little one first, then,” the Mystic Mage had said, not unkindly but lacking real warmth. A blue circle erupted from beneath Telen’s feet. She giggled. “Bye bye Magic Lady! See you soon, Mommy G!” She was gone in a flash of blue light, but not before a faint ‘That tickles’. I turned back to the mage and handed her the coin.
As a part of my expected, her smile dropped and she sneered slightly. “I believe I’ll keep the rest, compensation for having to deal with one such as yourself.”
I frowned. Money was no true issue, but I was never one to let an insult go. “What would one of Silvermoon’s elite be doing working for the Darkmoon Faire?” I asked softly and watched as the Mage stiffened. “Ah,” I had exclaimed, pretending to have just realized it. “How many masters turned you down? How many of the upper echelons discovered you had no talent in the arcane before you fled? Ran away, like a dog and a coward.”
The mage just glared. “Enjoy your day at the faire, ma’am,” she ground out between clenched teeth. The hate in her eyes was the last thing I saw before my world turned blue.
I hit the ground harder than I feel was strictly necessary, but blamed it on the Mage’s poor focus. Telen was already here, watching a female tauren and a male draenei toss throwing torches to each other. Beyond them, a blood elf belched out a cloud of green flame. Beyond them was a portal. Telen and I enjoyed the festivities for a moment, then walked through to Darkmoon Isle.
Step Right Up – Whack a Gnoll
The faire itself was actually down a dirt path from where the portal came out at. It was only due to my longer legs that I was able to keep up with Telen as she skipped her way under the towering trees to the fairground. The purple, white and green tents gleamed in the early-morning sunlight.
Telen cheered as we walked through the gates. I simply grinned. I had never been to a faire before, so I was content to let her do as she wished for the day. We had not gotten far into the fairegrounds, however, when I heard a voice.
“Hey, Death Knight! You wanna play a game of Whack-A-Gnoll? Swing a hammer, get a ticket!” the voice had said. I found its owner to my right, standing under a purple and green overhang. The female orc introduced herself as Mola.
Beyond her was a field of nine barrels. Every so often, I watched as either a gnoll, a doll-like object, or a large gnoll with a darker color and a more feral appearance. Mola gestured to a large mallet next to her. “Take a mallet, smash a gnoll. Hit thirty in a minute to win a ticket. Hogger over there,” she gestured to one of the larger, dark-colored gnolls, “is worth three of the little guys. But watch out. Hit a doll and take a time penalty. They hit back, hard. Just one token to give it a go!”
I was surprised to see a genuine lack of animosity in her eyes. It was rare someone other than Battlewail to look at me that way with my hood down. “Sounds like fun,” I said, “but I don’t have any to-“
I was cut off when Telen came running over. I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t even see her disappear. She handed me a jingling bag. “Here, Mommy G!” she exclaimed, smiling brightly. In the bag was twenty round tokens with the Darkmoon Emblem engraved on them.
I raised an eyebrow at her. “Where did you get these?” She just giggled and pointed to a hut to the right of the entrance gate. “There’s a goblin selling tokens right over there, silly!”
It wouldn’t be until the end of the day that I’d realize I hadn’t yet given Telen her pocket change, and therefore she had no way to actually pay for the tokens. I still owe her a talk on the merits of stealing, but if Security couldn’t stop one little girl, they deserved to lose a game or two.
I handed a coin to Mola, who simply grunted out ‘Hammer Time!’ I was about to reach for one of the mallets, but Telen beat me to it, grabbing the oversized mallet by the handle and yanking on it. I watched as she strained to lift the mallet, as long as she was tall, into the air with little success. With a cute little grunt she threw her all into one last attempt, lifting the hammer of the mallet high above her head.
It was still above her head as the weight of the mallet head caused her to topple over backwards, landing flat on her back with her arms still outstretched above her head in triumph. I laughed, unable to help myself.
Telen pouted, pulling herself up and dusting off her dress. “Meany!” she exclaimed. I stuck my tongue out at her and we both laughed a little. She raised the arm of the mallet off the ground. “Maybe you should try?” she asked, tilting her head slightly. I grabbed it and walked onto the field.
It was heavy, but nothing I was unused to, carrying around two massive axes on my back most of the time. The first gnoll appeared from one of the barrels on the far side of the clearing. Without a word I rushed in. The battle was on.
I quickly determined that, despite the length of the hammer, I had to grip by near the neck to make a firm swing, which in turn required me to be standing right next to the barrel to score a hit. I also made the mistake of charging across the field twice in order to hit air to realize that, while I could reach any barrel from any other barrel in time, I had to begin moving as soon as I saw a gnoll come up to make it in time.
The most important thing I learned, however, was to stay near the center barrel as much as possible. It gave me easy access to any of the other barrels.
I could hear Telen cheering for me while standing on the lower rung of the fence that surrounded the enclosure. Her enthusiasm was palpable, and made it hard for me to not get fired up. That might be why, after brutally smashing one of the ‘Hogger’ dolls, I heard the barrel behind me discharge another target and immediately swung to make contact.
Just my luck it had to be one of those dolls Mola warned me about.
It was almost like crashing into a brick wall. My arms vibrated all the way up to my teeth, and I nearly dropped the hammer. I recovered quickly, and managed to make the 25 goal within the time limit, but the doll was a stain upon my otherwise perfect run.
Mola handed Telen a Darkmoon ticket and patted her head. She almost immediately rushed to see me, holding the ticket proudly above her head like a trophy. Mola walked up behind her.
“You are very good,” she said. “Why don’t you go see Maxima Blastenheimer for a different sort of challenge.
Step Right Up – Cannon Blast / Blastenheimer Bullseye
Maxima Blastenheimer, I quickly found out, was in charge of the Cannon Blast game that was stationed literally right next to the Whack-a-gnoll inclosure. Piled high all around the female gnome were cannon balls and a very large cannon, with a wooden staircase leading up to the mouth of the cannon. Maxima was calling out as we walked up.
“Step up to get blown up! Who wants to get blown out of a cannon?” she’d call. Surprisingly, the cannon showed signs of recent use; I had figured we were the only ones at the faire at that hour. Still, it hardly looked safe, and I expressed the thought.
“Is it safe? Are you kiddin’ me? You think the esteemed Darkmoon Faire would ever put our customers in real danger?”
Yes, but I had the sense not to say as much. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched Telen walking towards the wooden staircase. Maxima noticed her as well.
“Whoa, there, little darlin’. Sorry, you gotta be that tall to ride this ride,” she said, pointing to a line scratched in the wood five or six inches above Telen’s head.
“Aww, no fair! Even you can’t ride the right with that requirement!” It was true. Maxima herself was several inches shorter than even Telen, much less the line.
“Sorry kid, them’s the breaks.” She turned to look at me. “How about you, lady? You wanna get shot out of a cannon? Hit the target in the water, win a prize” Not hardly.
I’m not quite certain what happened next. I remember Telen turning to look at me with big eyes, some words, and the next thing I recall is being wedged down in the base of the cannon, missing a game token.
“Here we go!” Maxima’s voice cried out from somewhere outside the cannon. The next thing I knew, I was soaring through the air over one of the big tents towards the water at the edge of the island. There must have been some sort of magic in the cannon, as I found myself gliding through rings of fireworks towards a large floating circle with arrows pointing at it.
I found myself flying over the same circle a moment later, crashing into the water far beyond the ring.
I immediately froze a section of the water and climbed atop before stomping back towards the shoreline. The path in front of me froze as I walked, and melted as I moved past. The water in my hair and on my armor froze into flakes with a wave of my hand and were sent back into the water with another. I was dry by the time I reached the shore.
“Nice shot. Ye forgot to cancel your wings, though. Ye know how to cancel, right girl?” the old gnome in the green hat with the fishing pole asked. Of course I did. Every elf knows at least that much. “Want a teleport back to the cannon? All it takes is a small fee…” I handed him 30 silver and found myself back in front of Maxima Blastenheimer.
The next ten minutes was an interesting exercise in trial and error that cost me eight more darkmoon tokens and what felt like a good three years off my lifespan. I eventually did, however, determine that the best time to drop my ‘wings’, as Maxima described them, was the moment I passed over the divide between the island and the wooden boardwalk that framed it. It took many attempts, but eventually I landed in the center of the ring perfectly. Maxima handed Telen a Darkmoon ticket, and the two of us were on our way…
–Excerpt from The Completionist’s Grimoire, Pages 371-374
(Blastenheimer note: It’s VERY finicky. Even if it looks perfect, it may not give it to you. Keep trying. You get it eventually. And Yay for RP posts, where verbose is good if it tells a good story. Hope this lives up to expectations. I’ll do Parts 2 and 3 in the next day or two. Lemme know what you guys think!)