Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The end of an era

I wake with a wet towel on my head. Myrrh was arranging some flowers by the bedside. "Ah, Mom... you're awake! Are you strong enough for some food?"

"I would appreciate it greatly, Myrrh," I tell her. "Although I think I am not ready for any barbecue. Just conjure me some bread and dip it in water."

"You sure, Mom?" she asks wryly. "I will have to, like, to call upon 'the wicked arcane majicks' that 'sensible folk' would dutifully avo-..." "Oh, Myrrh!" I interject. "Are you still holding my poor choice of words from so long ago against me? Now, be a good girl, conjure your mother some food, and give me some news."

I had been ill. And, before that, I had been engaged on several different fronts. Myrrh still thinks that I pushed myself too hard... made me vulnerable to the plague barrels.

She may be right.

"Well," began Myrrh. "There's some good news, some great news and, like, not so great news. Bran Bronzebeard has returned but he, like, brought strange news. Looks like more enemies, Mom. Muster day is tomorrow."

"That's the good news?" I asked. I was biting eagerly into the conjured sourdough.

"Yes and no, Mom," she replied quickly. "That's kinda, like, the good and great news 'coz, like, for the muster we are now all hereby allowed to switch between two schools. Mom, the Hunter Civil War will be over!"

That was great news indeed; if hunters can switch between two schools, then there would be no clannishness. No more prejudice. No more "I'm better than you so you're useless." Everyone will be useful. I close my tired eyes as I listen to Myrrh talk excitedly about her own opportunity to try out either the Fire or Arcane schools.

"Myrrh... what was the bad news?" Myrrh became silent and solemn.

"Mom," Myrrh said. "The Big Red Kitty has retired."

I blinked hard at Myrrh. "Say again, child. Who retired?"

"Big Red Kitty, Mom," said Myrrh. "The dwarf hunter who, like, says if you're a marksman you're a-" I waved her to silence.

BRK calling it quits? He had sounded so excited over this next phase of this war. "Was he injured, Myrrh?" I asked.

"No, Mom. His wife and child... they needed him back home."

"Ah," I said. "So he retired with honor, then?"

"Yes, Mom," she replied.

"That is not so bad... his wife is young... his child is young. The world of warcraft, truly, should not be the mistress for one such as he."

"He did the right thing," I added.

I smiled. We were quiet for a long time, until I sensed that Myrrh still had more to say but, for some reason, would not. "Myrrh, what else should I know?"

"Mom, I'm so sorry," she cried. "His assistant was asking us to, like, write him back or something... but he sent out the invitations on Fool's Day and I kinda, like, thought that it was just another one of, like, the dwarfie's practical jokes and, like, I know that you, like, aren't into that sort of 'thang'... and you were ill and the doctor kinda, like, said you kinda needed your rest... and... and... well, it was BRK's going-away party."

We were quiet again. My mind went back to when BRK taught an inexperienced hunter how to chain trap, how to kite and maintain shot discipline. I remember his explanations on all aspects of hunting. I remember when he bolstered my spirit, telling me and others that we need to hone our skills because someday it will be needed again. I remember when he used to say that being the top damage dealer was not the hunter's priority, but being the best we could and how we can help the team. I remember his hunter school, his menagerie of pets... all his pep talks.

I remembered his debates with that Draenei marksman and that Druid hunter and his very public conversations with his brain. I also remember, with a bit of shame, how he would publicly ridicule marksmen—calling us magi—and how I bitterly rebuked him. That was the last time I ever talked to him.

"And BRK himself," I said suddenly, making Myrrh jump. "Where is he now?"

"Gone home, Mom. Back home."

"I see." I see. He will forever think of me as just another bitter marksman.

"Don't worry, Mom," Myrrh said, touching my arm. "It's just, like, a dwarfie hunter. It's not, like, he was the best out there. And you really weren't into those party thingees, were you Mom? Were you?"

"It is alright, Myrrh. Though I'm not usually in for those sort of things, I would have wanted to be part of that." But as Myrrh's face fell, I added, "But even if you had accepted the invitation, well, I was unconscious, wasn't I? I still couldn't have gone. I'm quite sure he'll be back... and when he does come back it may seem like he never left at all. No, Myrrh... he may not have been one of the most powerful (and he was very powerful) or one with the most achievements (and he had achievements that dwarf so many others) but among all of them, he was the best teacher I ever had. I will forever regret never having gone to this 'going-away party', but... well, one can't have everything."

We were silent again for a long time.

"Well, Mr. Vault's nieces were able to talk to him in Booty Bay," said Myrrh. "They thought he was really nice."

"Yes," I said. "He is, isn't he?"

I began to sing:

Where now the dwarf and frostsaber? Where is his gunfire now echoing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the long beard flowing?
Where is the hand on the bowstring, the big red cat charging?
Where now is his laughter heard, and his gray brain arguing?
He has gone to where his heart dwells, his reason for living.

"Mom?" Myrrh asked. "He was called Big Red Kitty because of his favorite technique... but did you know his real name?"

"Yes. His real name... is Daniel."

I close my eyes and sleep. And I dream, of Old Gods, Titans... and a dwarf with a flowing beard.