Chapter 4: Sadistic
They said a carnival would cheer me up, but as I looked at the sno-cone in my hand, all I could think of was my home, Ironforge. Just like this carnival treat, my home was strangely shaped and covered with snow. And it was in danger. Constantly in danger. Not from being eaten by a carefree carnival-goer like this sno-cone, but by many other things. Dragons. Old Gods. Horde invasions. Rust. Inflationary market prices. Communists.
And so it was that the hardiest of our folk were sent out into the world, to seek out and destroy these threats at their source. It had been many a season since I had been a young dwarf, killing the non-aggressive boars that threatened Ironforge, and I had since killed my share of dragons, giants, and blind and handicapped people that threatened Ironforge. Still, the dangers only seemed to grow greater and more numerous, and I despaired of ever being able to return home and rest.
A single tear fell onto the sno-cone, and somewhere behind me, a gangly child laughed. I decapitated him with my axe and threw the sno-cone away with a sigh.
In a reflective mood, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the locket. It was too small and feminine to wear around my neck – the last time I had tried it, I was forced to kill a lot of people – but I made sure to keep it close to my heart. Inside was a picture of her. Kaeida. The most beautiful woman, or tree, or bear, or cat, I had ever seen. No matter what shape she turned into, she was always beautiful to me. It had been awkward at first, bringing this willowy night elf back to meet my conservative dwarf parents in Ironforge.
“Ach, she’s too tall!” said my father.
“Ach, you’re too short!” said my mother.
“It’ll never work!” they both said.
But somehow we made it work. I sighed again, even more homesick than I had been before. I was jostled from behind as I moved to put the locket away by a group of youngsters rushing excitedly to get to the rides, and it was knocked out of my hand. I waddled after it as it skittered across the dust, and after pushing my way through the crowd, found two mages, one of whom had already picked it up.
The senior mage shook his head. “Worthless. No stats whatsoever. You need that slot for something that can help you do damage.”
“I don’t have anything like that anyway,” said the other mage, contemplating the locket in his hand. “I could sell it to a vendor.”
“Won’t get you much. But take it if you want,” said the senior mage with a shrug.
“Give that back!” I roared.
“What? Who said that?” said the clearly clueless younger mage, his black ponytail whipping around as he looked vainly about him.
The other mage tapped him on the shoulder and pointed down to where I stood, weapon ready and fuming.
“Finders keepers, little fella,” said the younger mage with a chuckle, and started to put it in his pocket.
Completely enraged, I charged him. The force of the impact knocked the wind out of him and I swung my weapon back for a furious killing blow.
The elder mage sighed. “Blink,” he said.
My blow cut through empty air. I spun around to see my enemy standing a little ways away, looking almost as surprised as I was. I advanced on him, but a stinging shot of ice came slamming into my back. I heard the elder mage say, “Use your frostbolts. You need to keep him snared.”
The younger mage jogged away hesitantly, turned around, and summoned a series of fire spells that washed over my armor with mild results. I gritted my teeth through the pain and continued to advance slowly on him, fighting the binding magic of the frostbolt. All of a sudden the spell released me and I broke into a run. The mage screamed like a little girl and ran. I charged him again, and once again he was bowled over, at my mercy.
“Blink,” the older mage repeated in exasperation.
My slash once again found nothing but air. I turned back toward the older mage, now thoroughly incensed. I ran at him and was met with another frostbolt, slowing my progress to a crawl.
“There’s no reason,” said the older mage, jogging neatly to the side, “that you should ever let a warrior catch you.” He hit me with a quick blast of fire and then calmly prepared and launched a powerful fireball at me, engulfing me in white-hot flames. I bellowed in rage and charged him, going for a quick stab this time, but he was gone before even that.
The other mage was now nearby, so I made a break for him, but he made a quick movement and I found my feet encased in a block of ice as he scurried timidly away. “I just don’t know when to do what,” he explained apologetically.
“You just need to keep up a snare at all times,” said the elder mage as he deftly launched a quick frostbolt, “and remember to blink every time he charges.” He let loose a series of fire spells, and I was awash in a cataclysm of burning pain. As I stumbled toward him, he hit me with some kind of magical explosion and I fell over, finished.
As I lapsed into unconsciousness, the last thing I heard was bits and pieces of the two mages talking. “The secret is to keep away…” “…frostbolt takes too long…” “…lower rank…” And then there was nothing.
I awoke in the dwarf ward of the carnival drunk tent. It took up the majority of the tent and was still overcrowded. No doubt someone had found me unconscious on the ground and drawn the obvious conclusion. As I sat up on the cot, I made a vow that no matter what, I would track down that mage and get back Kaeida’s locket. Even if I had to make a deal with the lowest of scum.