Bravetank’s Winterveil Carol
(all good bits grudgingly acknowledged as belonging to Charles Dickens)
Sylvanus was undead to begin with. Sylvanus was as undead as a door nail infected by the plague of undeath – although the Scourge tend not to infect door nails since door nails can’t run very fast and are rubbish in a fight. Anyway this must be understood (the Sylvanus bit not the fact door nails can’t run- if you don’t know that you shouldn’t be anywhere near a computer) or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.
Bravetank had never painted out Sylvanus’s name from the guild house although her old guild leader was definitely undead. Sylvanus had been affectionately called Raggy Doll in real life and the guild kept the same name – in homage to her and the curious floppiness of her limbs when alive.
Oh Bravetank was a selfish old guild leader and a very bad tank. And Winterveil made not one ounce of difference.
One dark Winterveil night Bravetank sat in the guild house lazily skimming through the Elitest Jerks website.
“Merry Winterveil, Bravetank!” Her newest guildee Totallieemadeupperson (Tottie for short) came into the room.
“Bah!” said Bravetank, “Humbug!”
“Winterveil a humbug, Bravetank!” Tottie said. “You surely don’t mean that?”
“If I could work my will,” said Bravetank, “Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Winterveil ’ on his lips would be forcefed mana cookies and have a harvest pumpkin stuck up his….
“Whoa there Bravetank. Chill out. It’s only a game. Come for a dungeon run tomorrow.”
“Why cannot we be in a group?” cried Tottie. “I don’t understand. But Merry Winterveil anyway Bravetank, Merry Winterveil!”
“Good-bye!” said Bravetank.
As Tottie left he let another person in – an arms Warriors and therefore rather useless in Bravetank’s eyes. He bowed to Bravetank.
“Bravetank or Ms. Raggy Doll?” asked the Warrior.
“The Raggy Doll herself became undead seven years ago this very night,” said Bravetank.
“Shame that,” said the Warrior, “Always had a bit of a thing for her. But anyway a few of us are going to give some newbies some armor and weapons and maybe even an 8 slot bag. What would you like to give?”
“Nothing,” said Bravetank. “They can go to the auction house.”
“Many would rather die.”
“If they would rather die,” said Bravetank, “They had better do it, and decrease the godawful lag in Stormwind these days. Good afternoon, Warrior!”
The Warrior left and Bravetank went back to her computer.
The night drew in. Suddenly there was a weird and really irritating noise. Bravetank got up and looked out the door. A Singing Sunflower.
“La La La…”
Bravetank grabbed the weed spray she kept by the door for just this occasion. The Sunflower saw it coming and glided away in horror.
Then another guildee who had been sitting unseen in the corner….let’s call him Cob Bratchit shall we, stood up and put on his cloak. He had been aimlessly reading WoW Insider and chuckling to himself that Bravetank’s blog wasn’t yet good enough yet for Anne Stickney to feature – but now it was time to go.
“You’ll want all day tomorrow, I suppose?” said Bravetank.
“It’s only once a year,” said Cob, “I’ll be back in guild chat the day after.”
“A poor excuse for picking a person’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December even from a rogue such as yourself!” said Bravetank. “Be here all the earlier the next day, there will be gossiping to be done.”
After Cob had gone Bravetank herself left the guildhouse and went home (since WoW does not have player housing she was basically squatting in a house in Goldshire and claiming it as her own).
The knocker on the door to the house was usually very ordinary. But tonight as Bravetank approached it seemed to change shape and look like old Sylvanus’s face with wide open eyes and snarling teeth. Bravetank looked closer. No she was wrong. It was her own face reflected in the shiny knocker. She really could do with a facial and rethinking the snarl she admitted to herself as she entered the house.
She made some soup and took it to eat by the fire. But as she sat down she heard a loud clanking noise, as if a heavy chain was being dragged on the floor.
Suddenly the living room door opened and in came Sylvanus dragging a chain made of lock boxes and obsolete dungeon keys behind her.
“Who are you?” said Bravetank.
“In WoW life I was your partner, Sylvanus the Raggy Doll.”
At this Sylvanus raised a bansheee cry, shook her chain and then wiggled her hips. Next thing she was in musical show dance mode and performing an impressive rendition of The Music Man. Bravetank watched patiently – even during the boring bits.
When Sylvanus had finished and taken five encores she asked Bravetank, “Now do you believe in me?”
“I do,” said Bravetank. “I must anyway. The undead are a playable race. I have one myself on another server. But why do you come to me? And why are you chained?”
“I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link. Took me bloody ages. Then I used it in the bedroom …. aaah the games me and my partner liked,” said Sylvanus with a little grin, “You could do with a chain like this I reckon…. but anyway where were we? Yes you – you need to sort yourself out girl.
“Me. In what way?”
“Groups,” cried Sylvanus. “In my life groups should have been my business and they should be your’s now. Even PuGs if you have to. You need to get in there and tank. And I am here tonight to warn you that you will be haunted by three spirits.”
“No thanks,” said Bravetank firmly, “I’d rather not.”
“Expect the first tonight,” said Sylvanus, “when the bell tolls one. Then expect the second at two. And so on and so forth. It’ll all be over by four o’clock … unless the greedy sods try and push for some overtime.”
After she had said these words she disappeared and Bravetank found herself tucked up in bed about to fall asleep.
But then she heard the chimes. It was one o’clock already.
Light flashed and the curtains of her bed (she liked a good four poster) parted. Bravetank found herself face to face with a strange figure—small, green, wearing goggles. In other words a bloody goblin.
“Are you the spirit whose coming was foretold?” asked Bravetank
The voice was squawky and rough. “Time is money friend. I am the Ghost of Christmas past.”
“Long past?” asked Bravetank, rather pedantically.
“No. Your past.”
“My past, or my player Michelle’s past?”
“Your f%$&king past, now shut up and come with me.”
The goblin clasped her by the arm and together they passed through the wall. They were on the road to Duskwood.
“Goodness,” said Bravetank. “I started out in this place!” She wiped away a little tear (thinking of old Mor’Laidim – she’d had a crush on him even though he had brutally killed her one hundred times).
“You remember the way?” asked the Spirit.
“Remember it!” cried Bravetank. “It’s a straight bloody road. How twp do you think I am (“twp” is a Welsh word meaning stupid or dull – this is an educational read too).
They walked along the road. Bravetank saw Stitches in the distance, embroidering. Commander Althea walked by. Everything was rather merry.
“These are but shadows of the things that have been,” said the Spirit. “They do not see us. But come. The townhall is not quite deserted. A lonely tank, neglected by her guildees, is there still.”
They approached the town hall and entered. In the back was Bravetank, alone, practicing her blocking moves with a brick. It was sad as hell.
“I wish …” Bravetank muttered.
“What do you wish?” asked the Spirit.
“Nothing,” said Bravetank. “It’s just … there was a Sunflower singing at the door earlier. I should have given it something that’s all.”
“Don’t encourage them,” the Spirit rebuked, “Annoying little shits. Worse thing Blizzard ever introduced. They give me the creeps!”
Suddenly the door opened and a little mage came blinking in.
“I have come to take you to the Stockades dear Bravetank!” said the mage. “We’re to be together all Winterveil long and collect lots and lots of loot from old Hogger.”
“Your mage friend,” said the Spirit. “Always a delicate little creature. They all are. Clothies. But she had a large heart …no not heart…fireball I mean. I always get those two mixed up!”
“So she had,” said Bravetank.
“She brought another guildee into The Raggy Dolls,” said the Spirit, “Tottie I think, you saw him earlier (scroll back up dear reader if you’ve forgotten who the hell Tottie is – can’t blame you – this is a much longer story than I realised. Bloody Muppets made it seem much shorter.)
“Yes,” said Bravetank, looking rather sad.
The Spirit clapped his hands together. All at once they were in Westfall, in Moonbrook
“Do you know where we are?” asked the Spirit.
“Know it!” said Bravetank. “It’s the Deadmines. I got my first blue belt here.”
Suddenly a tall warlock with his pet imp out walked by. Bravetank cried out in excitement.
“Why it’s old Wiggifuz the Warlock, alive again!”
Bravetank’s old guild leader Wizzifug was cleverly summoning a group, including Bravetank’s former self. Once all were present Wizzifug called out in a warlocky voice,
“No more questing tonight guys. It’s Winterveil Eve. Let’s go in the Deadmines.”
“Yay!” exclaimed the mage, healer and hunter (no group is ever perfect). Bravetank’s old self equipped her shield and the five entered the dungeon.
The run was like a dance – so well prepared and expert were they. And all level 40s. Pointless run really. They only did it to look cool and because they kept getting their asses kicked in Scarlet Monastery Cathedral.
But old Bravetank looking on enjoyed it all. She even tried to join in a bit on the ship at the end and made herself look rather the foolish. The Spirit pretended not to notice. When it was over Bravetank clapped.
“Isn’t Wiggifuz wonderful?”
“A small matter,” said the Spirit, “to help this group kill Cookie.”
“Small,” said Bravetank. “It isn’t that. He had the power to make our run a pleasure or a toil. He could have brought the annoying succubus out but he didn’t. The happiness he gave us by reminding me to stop for the healer’s mana breaks and to make the hunter put his away his bear was amazing. You don’t see it these days.”
“What is the matter?” asked the Spirit.
“Nothing,” muttered Bravetank.
“Something, I think,” said the Spirit.
“No,” said Bravetank, “It’s just – I wish I had the Raggy Doll guildees here right now.
“Come with me,” said the Spirit, “I have one more thing to show you before I go.”
There was another clap and a blur and Bravetank saw her younger self again, not alone but this time sat by a strong handsome wonderful (yes he’s reading!) Paladin healer, aka pocket healer, aka hubby healer.
“It matters little to you,” said healer hubby angrily (what’s new?). “Another healer has taken my place. It is your love of the Druid restoration tree. But Holy Light is better. And yes sometimes I know I forget to Beacon you. And yes I know I sometimes cleanse you instead of healing you. But what do you want …perfection. Five deaths a run is not that bad. Anyway good-bye. May you be happy in the group life you have chosen!”
“Spirit!” cried Bravetank, “Show me no more! I cannot bear it!”
The Spirit disappeared. Bravetank found herself back in her own bedroom. Exhausted she sank into a heavy sleep…..for all of one minute. Again the bloody bell tolled. This time twice.
Bravetank sat up. There was a noise in the next room. She got up and walked to the door, opened it and looked inside.
It was – weirdly enough- Ironforge – and there was great Greatfather Winterveil surrounded with presents.
“Come in and know me better man…I mean woman …a woman Tank…what’s the world coming to. Anyway I am the Ghost of Christmas present,” said the Spirit. “You have never seen the like of me before!”
“Well every year in Ironforge I do,” said Bravetank, “If I can be bothered to go there. Don’t usually. Sick of finding Metzen.”
“Touch my robe!” said the Spirit.
“I’m not falling for that again…there was this warrior once in an inn …I’d had a bit to drink, “ said Bravetank, “And…”
Impatiently the Spirit grabbed Bravetank’s hand and thrust it on his ….shoulder (keep it clean, keep it clean). Suddenly they stood outside – it was Winterveil morning.
The spirit led Bravetank straight to his guildee’s house. Inside was Mrs. Bratchit.
“Where is Cob?” said Mrs Bratchit to the other guildees. “And poor Dwarven Darren.”
At this the door opened and in came Cob with Dwarven Darren upon his shoulders – drunk….again. He held a little crutch in his hand. “Look what I nicked,” he exclaimed, happily, “That little fella, short arsed Tim or something, never saw me coming.”
“I won’t bother asking how Dwarven Darren behaved then,” said Mrs Bratchit ruefully.
“Well he had his moments,” said Cob. “He told me that he hoped the people in Stormwind Cathedral saw him because he was a bit tipsy, and it might be good for them to remember he who turned water into wine on this night of all nights.”
“That’s the fella.”
At last the food was set out and Cob proposed a toast “A Merry Winrterveil to us all. God bless us!”
“God bless us every one!” added Dwarven Darren, “But in particular Alchemist Andy. I love him.” He then slumped unconscious over the table with his head in his plate.
“Spirit,” said Bravetank, “tell me if Dwarven Darren will live through the hangover I can see coming?”
“I see a vacant seat,” replied the Spirit, “and in the corner, a crutch without an owner and Dwarven Darren on his knees in the alley behind the house. If these shadows remain unaltered by the future he will be sick. Definitely.”
“No, no,” said Bravetank. “Oh, no, kind spirit, say he will be spared. The vomit reflex is so unpleasant. And sometimes it goes in your hair.”
“If these shadows remain unaltered he will be sick. Deffo.” said the Spirit. “What then? If he is sick he is at home and surely that is better – it will decrease the surplus population and godawful lag in Stormwind.”
Bravetank hung her head in shame.
Suddenly she heard her own name.
“Bravetank!” toasted Cob, “I’ll give you Bravetank, the founder of our guild!”
“The founder of the guild indeed!” cried Mrs Bratchit angily.
“My dear,” said Cob, “It’s Winterveil after all.”
“I’ll drink her health for your sake then and the other guildees,” said Mrs Bratchit, “but not for her. So … a long life to her! May her spirit healer runs be infrequent.”
The scene faded. Suddenly Bravetank was in Tottie’s house with the Spirit standing by her side.
“Ha, ha!” laughed Tottie. “Bravetank said that Winterveil was a humbug”
“More shame for her, Tottie!” said his friend, Nonnie (short for No Name- I’m getting tired now).
“She’s a good old girl,” said Tottie, “But some deep rooted issues. I mean… have you read her blog….! But she is our guild leader. Anywhoo let’s stop talking about her and start reading up on some raid tactics….one day…one day…she’ll come round to our way of thinking.”
Bravetank and the Spirit left Tottie’s house. Bravetank noticed that the Spirit was growing older.
“Is your life so short?” asked Bravetank.
“My life upon Azeroth is very brief, but annual. So can’t complain,” replied the Spirit.
At that the bell struck three. Greatfather Winterveil disappeared and was replaced with another Spirit – one with no head. It was only the bloody Headless Horseman! Out and about even though it wasn’t Hallow’s End. Incredible.
The Headless Horseman approached Bravetank and stood silently before her.
“Am I in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas yet to come?” asked Bravetank. “Is that so? I fear you more than any Spirit I have seen.Will you not speak to me?”
It gave her no reply but pointed at the gap where the head should have been and shrugged.
Together they walked off and found themselves in the centre of Stormwind. The spirit stopped beside a group of nightelves and pointed. Bravetank went closer to listen.
“No,” said one night elf, “I only know she’s dead and refusing to resurrect.”
“When did she die?” asked another.
“Last night, I think.”
“What has she done with her bank slots?”
“I haven’t heard,” said the original night elf. “But I do know she was too tight to buy many anyway. Used to really irritate her healer hubby.”
Bravetank knew the night elves…or their sort anyway …level one players who liked to dance naked on mailboxes. She looked towards the Spirit for an explanation of their words.
Nothing. Still no head.
The Spirit then took her to Cob’s house. Most of them (except Cob and Dwarven Darren) were seated around the fire, inscribing.
Mrs Bratchit suddenly set her ink down on table, and put her hand up to her face, leaving a black smudge which was rather humourous it must be said. “ It is past Cob’s coming home time,” she said mournfully.
One of the guildees replied, “I think he has walked a little slower than he used to these past few evenings.”
Mrs Bratchit sighed. “He used to walk with Dwarven Darren upon his shoulders, very fast indeed – considering how much Dwarven Darren liked his food.”
There was a noise outside. “Ahh there Cob is,” she said.
She hurried out to meet him. Cob was crying. He couldn’t help it.
She brought him inside and they sat by the the fire. Cob told them of the kindness of all the people he had run into when walking home. Then, weeping, he said, “I am so sorry about it all. Gutted I am. I am sure none of us wil forget poor Dwarven Darren.”
“Never!” they cried.
But suddenly the door opened and in strode Darren.
“What do you want?” said Cob.
“Am I not welcome on Winterveil because I’ve decided to become teetotal?” asked Darren shocked.
“It’s boring Darren,” said Cob, “We all liked you drunk, I liked you sitting on my shoulders.”
“It was a bit kinky if you ask me,” said Darren
“Get out,” cried Cob. “We don’t want your spring water drinking sort in here.”
Darren left. Sad. Sober. But still a dwarf at least.
The Spirit then led Bravetank to a graveyard. He pointed towards the hovering Spirit Healer. Then in Bravetank’s head was a flash and she saw an image of her own body lying lifeless in Blackrock Depths. She was clearly refusing to retrieve her corpse and stubbornly waiting for a healer to run back.
“Answer me one question,” said Bravetank to the Spirit. “Are these the shadows of the things that will definitely be, or are they shadows of things that might only be?”
The Spirit pointed once again to his absent head and stamped his foot as if to say, “When will you get the bloody message. I cannot talk. Don’t know how I do it at Hallow’s End but really once beheaded you stop being able to talk. Read up about it in any bloody anatomy book.” (All conveyed with a stamp by the way- could have been a mime artist in a different life.)
“Spirit,” cried Bravetank, clutching her Raggy Dolls tabard, “Hear me … I am not the tank I was. I promise I will honour Winterveil. I will resurrect and run back to my body. I will help heal fellow group members after a wipe even though I’m the tank not healer. And I will remember the healer needs time for mana and all the group need time to loot. I will live in the past, the present, and the future – yes I will go in Caverns of Time.”
At this the Spirit disappeared. Everything swirled and Bravetank found herself at home, in her bed.
“Oh Sylvanus,” she cried to the empty room happily. “Thank you for this night. It has transformed me.” At this Sylvanus entered from the kitchen. Apron on. “Oh good you’re back. Happier now? Going to introduce the old chains in the bedroom eh? Good. I knew that would do the trick. Now how do you like your eggs?”
“I don’t know what to do!” cried Bravetank. “I am as light as a feather…. oooh feathers….. I have a few I need to sell in the auction house. I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. Oh drunken -I must find Dwarven Darren and pour a pint down his neck. Hair of the dog is what he needs!”
She left her house in a hurry.
“What’s today!” she cried to a newbie Level 5 she saw outside who seemed to be trying to kiss a Winterveil reveller.
“Today?” replied the Level 5. “I think it’s Winterveil Day.”
“Good,” said Bravetank. “I haven’t missed it. The spirits have done it all in one night. Ok my fine fellow…”
“I’m female actually but I’ve made my character male,” said the Level 5.
“Ooookay. Anyway do you know the inn behind you?” Bravetank asked.
“I should hope so – just made it my home so I did now,” replied the Level 5, who suddenly seemed to think he was Irish.
“An intelligent newbie!” said Bravetank. “Remarkable! Go back in there for me and buy me some ale.
“Do it yourself you lazy git,” said the Level 5, “What do you think I am. Your bloody peon? I have five level 85s you know. Look at me. I’m in heirlooms.”
“Oh!” said Bravetank, who didn’t even know any 85s. “Ok I’ll do it myself.”
So in she went and bought the ale. She then walked down the street to the guildhouse, saying Merry Winterveil to all she passed. None of the NPCs responded. The game lacks plausible interaction sometimes.
She had not gone far when she came across the Warrior who’d asked her for spare weapons and armor the day before. She quickly went up to him and handed over her shield.
“Lord bless me Bravetank! Are you serious?”
“It’s my pleasure. Crap stats on that and it needs repairing. But still it’s free and oddly enough not soul bound. So don’t complain.”
She carried on down the street to the guildhouse.
“Tottie!” said Bravetank as she entered. “Why bless my soul!” cried Tottie, “Who’s that?”
“It is I. Your guild leader Bravetank. I have come to talk about raids. A raiding guild we will be!”
“Yes,” said Tottie, emoting a clenched fist in the air. “Finally. I knew you’d see sense.”
“But I can’t stay right now. I have to find Dwarven Darren,” said Bravetank.
“Oh I saw him earlier, wretching in an alley, swearing to give up the booze for life.”
“No that can’t be,” said Bravetank, “Who will Cob carry on his shoulders. I’m not going up there. He likes it too much in my opinion.”
So off she ran and found the alley where Dwarven Darren was on his knees wretching, body trembling, muttering, “Never again. Never again.”
“Take this Darren,” said Bravetank merrily, “Hair of the dog. Nothing like it.”
Before Darren could say a word she poured the ale down his throat.
Suddenly Cob appeared.
“Thank god there you are Darren. Climb up. My shoulders await.”
“Yesh I willsh,” slurred Darren happily, and on he climbed.
“A Merry Winterveil all,” cried Bravetank. “We have a future of guild runs, raids and loot wars to look forward to now for many a year to come. Then the guild will bitterly argue one day, split, reform, bitch about each other forever, and then reminisce in years to come about how good it all was. And all the while I’ll have material for my Bravetank blog. Can’t be bad! Can’t be bad!”
And Bravetank was better than her word. She did it all, and infinitely more. And to Dwarven Darren, who did NOT become a teetotal, and the rest she became as good a friend, as good a guild leader, and as good a tank as the old city of Stormwind ever knew.
And it was always said of her she knew how to keep good tempered in a run no matter how bad the dps. May that be said of us all. And so, as Dwarven Darren observed, “God bless us, every one, but particularly Alchemist Andy!”