Conversations with Mezzy
:- by Nellisynthia, see Conversations with Mezzy's Web Page
She stood in the shadow. Cool, quiet, between two half timbered buildings in Stormwind town. A narrow space, tall, the combination of ancient stone and weathered woodwork a well ordered architecture beneath skys of blue. For a moment, as she looked out from her alleyway, across the paved boulevard, where a nearby bridge arched over the crystal waters of a canal, it was like looking into a different world.
A few children played there, laughing, pushing, teasing. Gathered about a collection of small painted wood tablets, corners worn like battered armor ... their painted symbols scuffed and faded, so much like heraldry upon a warriors shield that had seen one too many bloodied melees.
She couldn't help but smile, just a little one, she allowed herself as she watched something she never had ... as she watched them play.
It was just past noon, the sun high in the sky. It glittered across the canal water, diamond sparkles chasing each other like playful puppies, the light stained with green as it sipped through the canopy of a pierside elm. Bright and safe, as if Shadowforge, as if the Wrymbog, as if Nethergarde and the dark gate that keep watched over were no more than a dream, a somewhere else.
Tween shadow and light the small gnome lass stood.
She raised her hand to her forehead, pushing up the brim of her pointed hat, to shade away the glare of the sunlight, quiet eyes blinking once, then twice. Her shelter, her shadow, was of her own company. One the afternoon could not banish. Taking a half step back she was swept up into the voidwalker's swirl of deep cobalt and midnight black. Her arms wrapped about her waist, and she hugged herself.
Her attention, it shared the same earnest intensity of the little ones she watched. Studious, as the children laughed, as the painted tablets rattled-clap-clapped when with a push they fell upon each other, one after another after another after another.
Until, like children wont, something else caught their attention. And with a scramble, a tug back and forth and a catch me if you can they danced off along the narrow waterway.
Only then did the young warlock step from her narrow hiding place. A hand tugged one pigtail, just above a polished bolt earring, as she was wont to do, when considering. Crouching, half kneeling, she let her fingers slip over the abandoned tablets, slowly drawing them to order upon the cobbles before her.
"Oh Mezzy ..."
She whispered to her only companion, words quiet as she picked a tablet up, turning it over in her hand. A small rectangle of wood, painted white. Divided into two squares, each with a symbol old painted upon it. One for each dragon flight, one for each of the peoples - humankind, dwarvenkind, the night elves, the orcs and tauren and trolls - a token for the lovers true, Tyrande and Malfurion ... even an icon for the betrayer, Illidan.
"Is it all just a child's game?"
The little gnome drew another tile up. Turning the two around until they lay next to each other, matching symbols from one tablet to the other now adjacent.
"We have walked with the Marshall out from beneath the mountain black. Stood against the Blightcaller upon the hills of Marris Stead. And today, today my robes are stained with the blood of Lady Prestor.
"And still ...
"And still we are the ones who have no choice but to haunt the alleyways, and you, Mezzy ..."
Turning, the Alliance warlock looked up into her fiercely protective voidwalker's eyes.
" ... I need you to watch over me here just as if we were walking through Nefarian's halls."
Carefully, very carefully, the little gnome began to set up the small tablets, standing on edge, all in a row, perhaps half a thumb apart. One by one by one, one after another after another after another.
"Sometimes I can't help but think. Is that what they want? Is that where they will us, and by their shunning and their curses, teaching their children to hate us, to give us no choice for belonging but within the Burning Legion's arms?
"Every day, every night, when I steal you from the Legion's grasp, Mezzy. It's my choice, Mezzy.
"And with it, all the consequences that fall from it ..."
Slim fingers hold, for a heartbeat, as she looks at the long chain she has created. A line into a swirl, a simple mirror of something more complicated. Perhaps a life.
"Sometimes I can't help but think. Do they understand that? The consequences that fall in an unending chain from but a single action.
"A child's game, Mezzy.
"What if ... what if there was one of our kind. Who walked the streets of Stormwind, as you and I do.
"Until cursed upon one too many times ... until there was one too many stains of spit upon their cheek ... until one too many barkeeps refused to set up a drink - after being shorn by sword and talon to protect that very same innkeeper.
"And they did then turn their back upon the people of Stormwind.
"By the Great Gear, Mezzy ... it would be so much easier. It would hurt so much less."
The young warlock closed her eyes.
"And in the end, it would come full circle.
"Somewhere, somewhen, in the field of battle. Be it the deserts of Desolace or the halls of Shadow Hold. A felhunter's teeth would rend the nether and flesh, and fire summoned from the Legion's hells would burn out a brave Stormwind soul."
Quiet eyes slowly opened. And a single finger tapped the very first ttile set up.
Clitter-clap clip, the dominoes fell, one after another after another after another.
"How could you explain to a heartbroken mother that her child was dead, for the want of a cold beer?"
She rose and slowly walked away, hugging herself so tight ... not able to bear to see the last tile fall.
A few heartbeats later, her voidwalker followed.
... things they don't teach you in warlock school ...
"They coulda said somethin' ..."
The little warlock frowned, looking down at the broken red rock, scuffing her feet across the heat blasted marring of the cavern floor.
"Somethin' so basic and simple ..."
She crossed her arms then, fingers tapping upon the sleeves to her robe. With small steps, cause she was small even for a gnome, the lass paced a wide circle about the center of her consternation, once one way and then the other, and then back again, pausing here and there upon her circumference to look up ... foot tapping in a steady beat as she tried to reconcile this particular conumdrum.
"I mean, Mezzy ..."
She looked up to the big voidwalker, her best friend keeping her company as the others began their preparations to depart. The sound of portals being opened echoed in the background, that low cadence of magic hurrying her careful thoughts.
" ... I mean, they's supposed to be the Masters at this right? Our teachers, from the shadow of the Thunderbrew Tavern to deep within the Mage's Quarter of Stormwind to the amber hills of Ratchet. Learnin' me and you and all our spells, how to take care of Zhhatom, how to keep Dissy from dating anything with a pair of legs ..."
She then paused, flushing a bit, a touch of pink highlighting her cheeks.
" ... and some things that don't."
Standing still, she looked up through her tossled bangs, tugging one of her pony tails in consternation.
"And all the rules and laws of warlock'ing ... like when not to try and summon a dreadlord, the proper care of a soul torn from the mortal coil and kept all nice and warm and safe in a pretty pink stone. The best way to send a felguard back into the Twisting Nether or rend a mage into their component parts for easy recycling ...
"You woulda figured they have said somethin' about this."
Once again the gnomish warlock returned to her circular path.
"I know. Pizyap, he deserves his rest. We were both shakin' up pretty hard at that. She was just being real persnickity she was. Guess it was just in her nature. She always was a mite disagreeable, that Lady Prestor. And I know Gia was doin' as best as possible, trying to hold her down all in one place, bopping her in the nose with a sword and all. If'n I was a dragon, I'd pay all my attention to that, for sure. But she just had to wriggle this way and that, just to be all all contrairwise.
"Getting Pizyap right up next to Gia, to stand up there and help ... between the fires and the fearin' and her really big tail, I'm still a shakin."
"What's that Mezzy?"
The little warlock couldn't help but offer a small smile, honestly amused.
"Oh, Pizyap, he hasn't stopped complaining yet, has he?"
She hugged herself, bouncing on her heels, rocking back and forth. A silly imp, Pizyap was. But brave and valiant.
"And it is true, Mezzy. I made sure to be thanking Master Chelydra, and Ellundus and Miss Vamira. I mean, this, this rarely comes once in anyone's life, let alone a lil' gnomish warlock.
"It is an honor true.
"It is a real big honor ..."
And with that she rubbed her chin, facing her problem dead on.
"A big honor.
"I guess that sums it right up.
"It's really, really big ... "
She held up her panther hide pack, measuring its small size against the massive bulk of Onyxia's head.
"But by all the gears that turn and spin ...
"... how am I supposed to get that into this?"
Thank you all ... to my Guildmates and my Friends, without whom I would never have seen the inside of Onyxia's lair at all, let alone without whose help, guidance, support and companionship I could have ever received such an honor...
It was late, the stars tracing their silent arc above the jagged slopes of Kharanos. Belm paused, at the edge of the porch, where behind him the smithy's fires provided warmth against the cold wintery eve. He stretched, a good strong dwarven stretch, the motion betraying the hint of a yawn. The smile was for the bag of silver hanging from his belt - the smiths were always good for the toss of dice, and tonight the winds of luck had blown his way. All was well in the valleys of Kharanos.
Until he took a step forward, crossing the trail back to his home, his work - the Thunderbrew Tavern.
It was the splash of red that caught his attention first. A definite trail of crimson leading from beyond the bridge, down the empty road, round the walk and right up the stone stairs and straight into his inn. And not just a little trail of blood. The rutting of the snow, the bits of sinew and grease telling of a story of a far larger occurance.
The innkeeper closed his eyes, lowering his face into his palms. When he could finally bear to look up again, there was only one thing that could be said to explain this mysterious carnage.
Eventually, the little warlock settled down in her room, a small space of stone carved out the Kharanos hills, snuggled within the basement of the Thunderbrew Tavern. It was sparsely furnished, no morethan she needed. A table for doing her sewing on, a chair for sitting, and the neatly made bed for when sleep finally claimed her. Nooked near the big brewery ovens it was always warm and the air scented of hops and barley while from above lurked hints of fresh baked bread and a bubbling stew in the hearthfire.
With a deep sigh she stretched out in the chair, closing her eyes, hugging herself and not able to hide the small smile. Behind her a cobalt shadow hovered, protective, the voidwalker's bracers still showing the stains and marring of their night within the high halls of Blackrock Mountain.
" ... still can't be believing it, Mezzy."
Rolling her head back she looked up to her constant companion, the gnome lass was quiet for a long set of heartbeats, letting its cadence mark the passage of time and thought.
"Oh of course he did. Swords and magics fel and frost, of course its all logical that he fell, finally. Another pawn removed from the game, at least for a little while. But of all of us there, they chose me.
"Me ... the littlest one amoungst them.
"I don't know how I came to be deserving such honor."
Closing her eyes again, the warlock took in a deeper breath. And when they opened again she half turned in her chair, her mouth opening as if to speak. Then closing again without a word spoken. Then opened again, and once again her thoughts caming to a sudden halt with words unsaid. Until she turned enough around to cross her arms on the back of the wooden chair and rest her chin upon them.
"... what is honor?
"Oh Mezzy ... I'm not sure there's a right good answer to that."
Bright eyes narrowed, as the gnome lass slowly chewed upon her lower lip in contemplation.
"Folks talk about it a lot, and they toss about the word about as if it were one of those leather balls the night elfs make. As if it were a tunic to be worn at festival, as if it were a dark iron breastplate to protect them from the slings and spells of those whom would tear them down.
"Some folks speak of a person of honor, as if it were a code of actions to be adhered to, some sort of moral path that sets one above those they meet, friend or enemy. But I have never understood that. Does that mean there is one road that can be walked to be such a better person? I know the Scarlet Crusade would claim such, but I am uncomfortable with the strictness of their way and the cruelty that their chivalric code leaves in its wake.
"Some folks name a person of honor ... but does that make it true? There are those who folks claim to be of high honor, but we have all to well seen the values they claim left on the wayside when they become inconvenient ... controversial ... as if it were something to be shared with some folks and not others.
"Some folks speak of honor on the battlefield. But is that the only place where it can be found? Can not a strong hearted farmer live a life as full of honor as any knight?
"What is honor, Mezzy?"
Eyes closing again, the little warlock considered this quandary. Then she finally took a breath and raised her head.
"Maybe it's like this ..."
Rummaging through her pack the small warlock searched out a yellow crystal, a shard of magic. She set the large brilliant gemstone in her lap. Delicate fingers rested on its smooth surface for a slow heartbeat.
"See this gemstone? It has an innate value, a measure of its worth. Simply within it's inherent nature.
"Now if this gem could talk, it might scream to the stars of that value, proclaim it's own accolades and moral tenacity. But when all the stars finally set and the snows of Kharanos melt in springtime, those claims vanish like fog beneath the hot sun. They mean nothing if they are not reflected in the inherent qualities of the gem. I am sure the one who left me for dead beneath the rotting stones of Ahn'Quiraj would proclaim themselves of much value and honor even though there is a grand crevasse between their words and their actions.
"Just as so folks could speak well of this gem, it's strength and fortitude, its high standing. But if, in truth, no matter how fancy and bright it might shine, if beneath that shine was only fancy crafted paste such claims would be as false as a mocking bird's call.
"Now this value, this worth, is it accepted by all?
"Well an enchanter might say one thing - knowing how important it is to their craft. Others might see it as unessesary, something anachronistic to be left on the wayside and thus of no value to them. And others, such as a merchant, might claim that value as when convenient, a fanciful value when being sold ... and something of no note when being bought.
"All this talk and all this chatter, however, does not change at all the nature of the gem itself, what it is ...
"In the case of a person, like you and me, who they are."
In one hand she raises the gem, to look into its polished surfaces, seeing herself reflected in each perfect facet.
"That's what honor is, Mezzy.
"The measure of a person."
There's a small smile. sad and wistful.
"It's nice when it's recognized but it's not something that can not be set by one's self. It is something we can only recognize within each other, to learn to see someone else and to honor them for what they are.
"And the important difference between us and this gem is that we are in control of that measure. It is each person's choice ... mine ... and yours ... to decide whether one can live with being made of jeweler's paste or do we strive for something more, something more true.
"You can't make that choice for any one else, Mezzy.
"We can only make that choice for ourselves"
Belm stormed into the commons hall, hands on his hips. Though he could only take one step in, the way barred by the fiercesome visage of a huge draconic head settles across a couple wooden tables and rising to the rafters. The head was berift of body, shorn by swords and magics, still dripping of dragonish blood, only slowly turning from copper scented red to a tarnished brown. The disembodied head stared across the hall, a look of shock and horror and a touch of surprise still caught beneath scaly brows, the yellowed teeth sharp and strong and about as big as the tavern master himself.
"By all the bastard children of Magni Bronzebeard and the Princess of Blackrock Depths, what is this!?!"
At the base of the funereal bust, the lil' gnome warlock turned to face her landlord, still wiping away the bits and pieces of grim and ash from her face. Her eyes went as wide as saucers, and she looked between the dwarf and the head and back to the dwarf ... and then once more between each for good measure.
She spoke, as if surprised by the question.
"It's Broodlord Lashlayer's head, Mister Belm."
The moment's silence weighed in this tavern as heavy as Ironforge Mountain.
"I KNOW THAT!" bellowed Belm as he curled his hands into big fists and crossed his arms.
"What I want to know is just what the blazes is it doing IN MY DINING ROOM!"