Candied, crushed sago't gulaman
The woods have changed. The forest I call home is different. The shadows are all wrong. They flit and linger, swollen with violence. Clumsy shapes materialize behind the splintered trunks, raising hellish noise with every rushed footfall.
I bound over chasms and step between blades of grass. I walked in peace here before, nestled in the stillness of the trees, hunting as quietly as a leaf falls. Now where there was perfect silence, there is crashing and bellowing. The stench of these invaders infest the air, the wind carrying their miasma through the forest’s canopies.
A faint rustle of grass crushed underfoot. An interloper! A shambling waste hunkering in the brush. What’s this? An ambush? To thwart this pitiful attempt would be beneath me, but I draw my bowstring taut. An example must be made. These dire intruders will know the sting of my arrow.
There! A grotesquerie of human skin and organs stitched together, emanating a foul miasma that is withering the surrounding foliage. The stench is overpowering! Bile forces itself up my throat but my aim does not waver.
My arrow flies.
A shaft of ashwood protrudes from the abomination’s eye socket and yet he does not fall! This cannot be! His advance was only slightly slowed by my shot. I pluck three more arrow from my quiver, enchanting them with an icy hot coating of frost. My elbow pulls back, mechanically precise from hours of practi–whoops, there’s that hook-thing again. Aaaaand he’s eating me. Again. You know, this wouldn’t happen so often if you guys, I don’t know, helped out?
No, I apologize. That’s out of character. I am supposed to be a frigid loner with a heart for the forests! Picking off targets from the shadows of the trees, that is my character hook! Heh heh, hook. How apropos. You know, wordplay is one of the premier disciplines of improvisational theatre.
Excuse me, sir, how was I supposed to know Pudge (Is that his name? How pedestrian! His manner and bearing befit a more bombastic title, like “Ogdru Jahad, Arch-Torturer of Rotting Wastes” but that is just my humble opinion) was six levels higher than me? Attacking AND typing out my character’s action blocks challenge even MY quick thinking.
What? I don’t understand. The gap between us was only that high because he gains strength from the killing of weaker warriors! That is not the Drow way! Traxex only aims for more capable game. Like those malicious drakes in the Dire woods. True, I do keep dying to them. But what is a fantasy epic without drama and conflict? Without experiencing failure and setbacks only to prevail after blood and spit have been spilled?
Oh! A nemesis! If I had a nemesis, that would be fantastic! Let me just alt-tab real quick and take a gander at the Game Encyclopaedia to select which of our enemies present a most devious foil? Sorry? You are inviting me to a clash between their team and ours? I am terribly flattered but I cannot join your scrums right now! This won’t take two minutes. You have my unspoken word as the Drow Ranger!
I am back, friends! Sadly, none of them are worthy to be my rival. There is that rifleman character but his bullets tear through my platemail bikini like it were paper! Foils have to be of equal power to you in order to elicit proper drama. Look at Valjean and Javert! Othello and Iago! Carraway and Gatsby!
Is everyone dead? Ho ho, you chaps need to understand the arching theme of this game. “Get with the program,” so to speak. Defense of the Ancients‘ leitmotif is ‘endless conflict’! We clash, clamor, retreat then do it all again in a cursed, purgatorial dance! We can’t keep the scales even if the opposing team has 48 kills to our 7.
Yes, I am aware I contributed to 20 of those 48 but that was only because I wanted to rally the troops with my sacrifice! I was to be a symbol, amartyr. My speech was a tour-de-force rivaling that of William Wallace or Leonidas. I haven’t typed that fast since the time I had to rewrite my Caliban’s soliloquy, extending it to a full 10 minutes. I felt the audience needed to truly live the anguish of that pitiful subhuman.
I thought everyone liked it, especially when I charged all five of them, bloodlust behind my eyes and self-preservation ejected out of my mind. Those were the most glorious 0.6 seconds of my life, let me tell you. The speech was short but I believe strummed the heartstrings of everyone on the field. I beseeched you to stay put and save yourselves for you were but children who are unsuited for the flames of war. I stifled my tears and quibbled my lip ever so imperceptibly. One of our teammates started sobbing or was that just me? I guess I was mistaken. Way to take my sacrifice in vain.
I have just resurrected once more from dying from those little, walking trees. Well, I thought it would be deliciously ironic if I perished at the gnarled hands of those I have sworn to protect.
Anyway, where to now, intrepid captain? How can my bow serve you? Where? But the enemy is right there, cantering down the middle path! A gutsy half-wit! Go hide in… the ‘jungle‘? Do you mean the glades? My god, man! Jungle? Look around! Do you see anything tropical about our surroundings? Are there any mosquito-infested swamps in your immediate vicinity? Ululating savages waving wicked spears about? We are in a temperate climate, you buffoon. Respect the scene, man!
I cannot work with you people. I know you should always say “Yes and?” but I’ve never seen a more crotchety bunch of nay-sayers. It’s all about push and pull–not just push all the damn time! You cannot keep demanding I advance the scene further when you do nothing to contribute. That’s it! I am done with you leeches.
Traxex has no need of allies. The river is stagnant with mingled silt and blood as I wend and weave away from the skirmish. This part of the forest is dark, perpetually so–like the cold gripping at my chest. I go in silence. So says the Drow Ranger!