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Old 06-05-2012, 04:28 PM
Xarthat Xarthat is offline

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Default The City of No Return

So due to recent turn of events in my life, which I don't want to disclose in detail, I found myself going back to artistic and creative work again. So I thought, why not give a Warcraft short story a shot? Partially, it's wish fulfillment (the plot, and how it turns out). Partially, it's just pasting myself in a badass situation (because why the hell not). Partially, it's a test of my writing skill and checking if I can really make it in any artistic measure or it's just another delusion of my insane mind. So I decided to drop in a part of a story. It may never be finished if I don't like where's it going or I get generally negative feedback, but I thought, why not try?

As always, I welcome any feedback on my style and any typos/grammar mistakes.

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Stratholme. The “city of no return”. Some people call it that way because of one fated day when one man made a decision that changes all of history. All it took was one man saying “this city must be purged” to change the history of Stratholme, Lordaeron and Azeroth forever. To this day, Stratholme remains as one of the most famous cities on the Twin Worlds, just because of that one day. Maybe only places like Stormwind, Orgrimmar or Dalaran can sometimes outshine Stratholme, but it remains a piece of history. Sadly, history took a strong hold over it and keeps it in stasis, holding the poor souls of its inhabitants imprisoned in terror of that slaughter, when a paladin and a demon lord decided to make a contest of killing innocents. The city burns since that day, its fires and smokes rising high above the rooftops, creating almost an invisible wall that almost no one can or dares to peer through. And yet, one silhouette can be seen flying through the choking air above the city. One silhouette, riding a proto-drake, chased down by a flock of gargoyles.

A draenei paladin in a full Argent Crusader attire holds tight the reins of his Skytalon, maneuvering in the red and gray ashen air above Stratholme, trying to lose the gargoyles following him. He alone decided to embark on a scouting mission over the city. He alone had enough expertise with flying various unearthly beasts to be able to navigate through the smoke and ash. He alone was foolish enough to attract the attention of dreaded Stonespine and his gargoyle flock.

Once gargoyles pin on you, it’s really hard to lose them. They’re born for aerial combat, not only able to quickly close down on any unsuspecting prey and claw its eyes out, ever since the Scourge “recomissioned” them from Ulduar, they’ve become only worse. Gaining the ability to spew putrid gases or bolts of necromantic energy, they are now considered one of the major hazards of Northrend and eastern Lordaeron. That draenei paladin was quickly learning all of that, when bolts of dark energy flew right past his ears.

“Hold on, Zanok” said the paladin to his mount, desperately looking through the ashen clouds for an opening he could use for a minute of safe flight. Unfortunately, the only opening he could see was directly down – right above the heads of undead masses, lumbering slowly in disorder, no longer commanded by their king. Little did the paladin know this lethargy is being preserved on purpose by a new Lich King – and little did he care. As long as he had to fly right above spellcasting skeletons and chain-and-hook-swinging abominations, this was a problem. Nevertheless, he swooped down, as that was his only chance of survival.

The proto-drake soaring between the rooftops of Stratholme quickly awakened the decaying citizens of city of no return. Their fetid skulls rising in sudden influx of interest, they felt a new prey in an instant. Despite the purposefully kept darkness in their minds, the gargoyles and the skeletal casters could still communicate and send simple messages to each other: living, prey, fleeing. As the foul growling of the skeletons was rising up, the draenei knew he will have only moments to make it to the main gate and leave the direct influence of the Scourge. As he looked back, Stonespine and his gargoyles were still almost right behind him.

But there was no time to stop or consider his options, as frostbolts started flying past him. Skeletal mages were never particularly good at aiming and flying targets are notoriously hard to hit, but becoming careless in or above Stratholme will still always cost you your head. Luckily, all the turns and twists of the alleys of old town could work to his advantage. He flew his Skytalon straight forward, directing it at a rooftop of old winery still bearing its old banner. As he was about to hit the roof, he flew up and twisted left, crashing two of the gargoyles. Barely believing he actually pulled off that maneuver and didn’t bite it himself, he took note of what appeared to be the main gate in the distance. With Stonespine and two more gargoyles still on his tail, he still could not rest.

Below him, a mass of skeletons, ghouls and shades was moving together, as if they all caught an eye of the only two living beings they saw in months. The crowd was amassing with an alarming speed, when the paladin noticed a giant abomination swinging its hook around, with a clear intention of bringing the flier down. There could be no mistake – the hook was meant for him, but with enough wit and quick thinking, the situation could be turned to the crusader’s advantage. He intentionally took the course right at the abomination, which in glee swung its hook once again. However, another quick aerial maneuver managed to avoid the hit in the last moment, as the weapon pierced the hide of none other than Stonespine himself, who quickly fell down to his un-death. “Shame” thought the paladin, recalling some crude basics of leatherworking knowledge, “he would have made a fine cape”.

As the last two gargoyles furiously started swinging bolts of putrid energy at him, he saw the last opening he needed – a gust of clear air several feet above the main gate. Taking his course straight in this direction, the crusader finally left the accursed city. To his heart’s relief, outside he saw Plaguewood’s mushrooms set on holy fire, and a battalion from Argent Crusade standing outside the gates, ready for the strike he was preparing. Unfortunately, there were still two gargoyles following right behind him, almost clawing at the proto-drake.

“Archers, attack!” Flight Commander Vahdat yelled out at seeing the scout. Before the draenei could turn around, a squad of archers shot down the remaining two pursuers, finally allowing him for a safe landing. As the Skytalon was lowering himself to the ground, Vahdat followed the paladin on his hippogryph.
“So how’s it, Xarthat? Any movements? What about Rivendare?” But the paladin remained silent until his mount could reach the ground and he could safely step down. Vahdat landed next to him.
“Lots of movements, that’s for sure. Not sure how much I caused myself…” draenei shrugged “Couldn’t reach the Slaughterhouse. And please don’t call him ‘Rivendare’. I knew him once, and he was…”
“But he is a Rivendare.” Both men stared at each other for an awkward moment “Look, I know you blame yourself for what happened to him, but he is a paragon of evil at the moment, regardless of not wanting to be such. Can you let it go?” After a moment, the paladin continued, as if he ignored this exchange.
“So I saw no trace of Aurius. The Slaughterhouse is well covered. I am sure of one thing, the gate is down again, and the pylons would have to be toppled again.” The draenei looked around, counting the numbers of fellow crusaders around. “There’s rather few of us here, but I hope that is enough…”
“We’re not entering.” The voice of commander Elligor Dawnbringer reached Xarthat’s ears. “At least not yet, and not in full force. We’re first sending an infiltration squad to penetrate the defenses, bring down the pylons and open the gate. Then we will march in, cleaning up what remains.”
Xarthat bowed down to Elligor. “Commander Dawnbringer.”
Human responded in kind. “Commander Xarthat.”
“What infiltration squad?” inquired the draenei. The human pointed out at a group of five people standing very close to the gate itself, talking about something. A serious looking female orc death knight, what appeared to be undead human woman with a blighthawk on her shoulder, a blood elf arcanist resting his arm on a conspicuously looking woman in skimpy clothing, a troll in tribal attire and finally a goblin priest, whom Xarthat have once met before. “Them?”
“Mercenaries. But they have quite a list of accomplishments…”
“FIVE people?” the draenei yelled out “You’re sending in FIVE PEOPLE? To Stratholme? Should I remind you how it ended up last time?”
“With all due respect, commander Xarthat, you’re not in command of this operation…”
“It doesn’t mean I can let you commit… insanity.” Paladin angrily walked out, slowly moving towards the bridge to the Plaguewood, where his wife and some of his friends from Hearthglen awaited him. He remembered all too well last time such a small squad was sent into the city and what it cost one of the finest paladins and last living souls inside the darkness of Stratholme.
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:58 PM
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Good, except the events rushed a little bit too quickly.
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Old 06-30-2012, 02:28 PM
DarkAngel DarkAngel is offline

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This story has...issues. I shouldn't blame my month-long silence on you, but I just couldn't get excited about reading this story; hence, I ended up working on my own stuff as a distraction. Thanks?

In any case, the "big problems" are so omnipresent that there just didn't seem to be much point in focusing on the "little problems." Call it condescending if you must, but I gave up before it was done.

EDIT: The "big problems" are:
  • Writing in present tense
  • Flat, emotionless characters
  • Lack of humor
  • Sudden changes between formal and familiar tone
It's not so much what is there as what isn't. The first paragraph or so is essential for roping in the reader. You spent the opening talking up how awesome your self-insert is. Maybe that brings you in, but it doesn't do much for anyone else. Paint a vivid scene, crack a few jokes, do something that will establish emotional connection between reader and character. Otherwise, people won't get much farther than I did.
* * * * *

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xarthat
Some people call it that way because
Interesting wording here. Are you used to Romance languages? Usually it would be "call it that" or "give it that name."

What are the Twin Worlds? Azeroth and Draenor? I've never heard that term before. I recall an item called "Staff of the Twin Worlds," but it was never explained which worlds that was refering to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xarthat
creating almost an invisible wall that almost no one can or dares to peer through.
If you can't see through it, doesn't that make the wall visible?

Lots of people seem to have trouble with this. Keep the story in the past. The literary tradition in English is for stories to be a recounting of past events, whether they really happened or not. In English, there is no "imperfecto," to put it in Spanish terms. Everything has to be done in the "pretérito" tense, though scene-setting is often done in a "was going" form instead of "went."
  • Stratholme: the “city of no return.”
  • made a decision that changed all of history.
  • the history of Stratholme, Lordaeron, and Azeroth
  • To this day, Stratholme remains one of the most famous cities
  • Maybe places like Stormwind, Orgrimmar, or Dalaran can sometimes
  • its fires and smoke rising
  • A draenei paladin in full Argent Crusader attire
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Old 07-02-2012, 12:45 PM
Slaman Slaman is offline

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I would agree with Dark Angel on most of the points he presents, although I thought there was at least a little bit of promise in there. I chuckled at the Stonespine cape joke, and thought it was mildly entertaining to hear someone complain about sending five mercenaries in instead of a standing army. The take on the present state of undead was nice to hear too, since most stories seem to take place with Arthas still in charge as Lich King. Although, even with that, the characters did not seem to have any reasoning behind anything that happened and lacked any type of depth. Some more info on your paladin's connection to Aurius Rivendare would be interesting to hear, or some more dialogue with Dawnbringer (even if most people don't like to include major characters in their stories, I always think it's interesting to hear how people think about them). Also, gargoyles weren't "recommissioned from Ulduar"?
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Old 07-02-2012, 02:32 PM
DarkAngel DarkAngel is offline

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slaman View Post
Also, gargoyles weren't "recommissioned from Ulduar"?
I was going to mention that, but forgot, apparently. The Obsidian Statues were recommisioned from Ulduar (Tol'vir and all that), but the War3 manual implies the Gargoyles were just one of several examples of naturally-occuring wildlife that fell under the Lich King's mental domination. I've never seen anything connecting them to the Titans or the Curse of Flesh.
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