Wednesday, August 15, 2012

WW: Sharkulye's Tale

In 2009, as I was gearing up to leave college, I started a second weekly comic strip for my college paper (to go alongside and eventually replace my absurdist strip "Plan 9"). This was to be called "Craft on a Cracker," and follow the humerous exploits of my WoW toons. I continued the strip for about a year after leaving school, but disinterest and rudeness on the part of the paper caused me to stop before the story I was planning was finished. I promised the few people who followed me on DeviantArt that I would eventually finish the plot as a series of short stories. I hadn't come back to it since.

Until now.

What follows is a prequel of sorts explaining how certain caracters came to be. To see the comics and get a sense of who these people are, visit my DevArt site (It's in my links).

Warning: this one can be a little dramatic. The comic in general is more humerous, and (most) of the shorts I intend to write will be also.

Craft on a Cracker: Sharkulye's Tale
by Adam D. Bram

           It was at Northshire Abbey Seminary School that Lydia Sharkulye first felt her heart stop.

           She was a gangly 11-year-old with pale skin, unkempt hair, and permanent bags under her eyes. She had been sent to Elwynn all the way from Lordaeron by her parents when they realized she was much more interested in picking fights with the local boys than being courted by them. She also had shown some potential in magic (as evidenced by her insistence of enchanting her locks electric blue), so her parents felt that the priesthood would suit their daughter best.

         The idea wasn’t well-received by Lydia at first, but as she did love her parents she decided to make them happy. This moment, where her heart stopped for a split second, erased any doubts in her mind that this was the best idea in the history of good ideas.

         The creature she was looking at was far too beautiful to be a mere human, and yet she was nothing like what her studies taught her of the other races of Azeroth. Raven hair, olive skin, flawlessly sculpted features. Not at all built like the ladies seen in Brill once night fell, sure, but who was at their age?

         Well, most girls tried to make friends on sight, Lydia thought to herself, so what would be so suspicious about this?

        “Hi there!”

         The beautiful creature turned, flashing a smile that wasn’t devoid of suspicion after all.

        “Good morning. I’m sorry, I’m new here, just arrived from Gilneas.”

       “Oh yeah, me too. Except I’m from Lordaeron. Hey, maybe us newbies should stick together, eh?”

        Something flashed on the other girl’s face. Her jade eyes took in every inch of Lydia’s disheveled appearance, and it appeared for a moment that the idea would be laughed off. However, surprisingly, her face softened bringing a smile back to the shockingly full lips.

       “Safety in numbers, right? My name is Claudia. Claudia Monkshood.”

       “Lydia Sharkulye. Pleased to meet you.”



        The second time Lydia Sharkulye felt her heart stop, was the same place but several years later.
        Training had been going steadily at Northshire Abbey. You could never find a cleric as skilled as Lydia Sharkulye, unless you were to look to the left and see Claudia Monkshood nearly at her hip. In this case, two heads were indeed better than one.

        The girls had been allowed to be roommates at the Seminary, and it was long into the night that they practiced to ace every exam. If asked, they would tell you it was merely the way the Light intended.
       Despite being a tad obvious, nobody had figured out that Lydia was deeply in love with Claudia. At 15, it was hard not to be. They had both filled out far more than anyone would suspect. Were it not a seminary, there would have been several attempts at courtship from the brothers. Nevertheless, on this night, Lydia Sharkulye was going to declare her love to her roommate and best friend.

       “Hey, Claude,” she said when she came back to the room from supper, “can I talk to you for a second?”

      “Oh, just a moment, Lyddie,” came the reply, “Daddy just sent me a letter from home telling me about these dreadful Orc beasts roaming the countryside.”

       Rumor had spread to Northshire of a race of green-skinned humanoids that had come pouring out of some portal in a land to the south. Lydia quickly read over the letter with Claudia about the goings on of the various war campaigns forged to combat it. Claudia could barely contain her disdain for such ugly creatures, and spent the better part of half an hour listing all the ways that this race was inferior.

       “And you know what else I heard?” Claudia asked in a way that signaled that this was the grand finale, “I heard that the foul things actually let their males court other males, and their females court other females! I mean can you imagine such a ghastly thing! Personally, I think those filthy elves do it as well, but Daddy says they’re on our side so I shouldn’t say anything about them. One day, though. Oh, but I’ve gone on far too long. Was there something you wanted to tell me?”

        It took a few moments for Lydia’s heart to repair itself enough to start working again. Once this occurred, she replied “Oh, it was nothing. It was a funny story, but I forgot what it was now. Must be exams.”


       It was less than a year after that Lydia felt her heart stop for the third time.
      Oddly enough, it had nothing whatsoever to do with the siege of Northshire, where Lydia and Claudia had become heroes by leading most of their classmates through the secret tunnels to safety. It came in the aftermath when the barely 16-year-olds were tapped for a revolutionary new program. It was a joint venture between SI:7 and a newly-created order called The Knights of the Silver Hand. In short, Paladins and Priests would be paired and sent on covert missions where run-of-the-mill spies and cutthroats wouldn’t suffice. It was never given an official name, as it never officially existed, though Lydia always fondly referred to it as “The Knights of the Bronze Foot.”
       At first things went well, but Claudia had been becoming more and more distant. It didn’t help, Lydia suspected, that the order recruited from nearly every race that had priests or paladins in their culture, including races that would go on to join with the Horde. The reasoning was that the dangers this order faced threatened all live on Azeroth. Claudia was aghast when the paladins they were paired with were revealed to be a cow-like creature called a Tauren and a secret emissary from beyond the dark portal who, for all intents and purposes, looked exactly like the Eredar that made up the chief focus of their covert missions.
Although, as the emissary Tevye Ver’Fidd was fond of saying, “My father was a Dwarf.”


        As history tells us, the first attack of the Scourge on the city of Gilneas was well after the Greymane wall was built.

       The reality was that a scouting squad was sent as a test run when the wall was nearing completion. Claudia Monkshood had already decided to leave the Bronze Foot to return to her homeland with a warrior she was fond of named Vladimir Dragewlya. However, since it was Gilneas the Scourge was set to attack, she volunteered for one last mission. It was the old guard together for the last time: Lydia Sharkulye and Claudia Monkshood, priests supreme, with Sunwalker Narragansett and Emissary Tevye Ver’Fidd as their paladin protectors.
      Lydia had mixed feelings about the operation and Claudia’s imminent departure. Sure, she had given up hope decades ago (and even started to grow fond of Narragansett who was kind of cute, for a cow), but the feelings were still there. Claudia’s beau Vladimir was honorable, but a tad dull (and slightly creepy), and seemed to share her view of what she’d called “half-breeds” in private whispers.
     The doors to Gilneas were ready to be sealed when the Scourge attacked.

     “Claude, you and Vlad get the civilians behind the door, we’ll handle this,” Lydia called out as the undead began to shamble from Silverpine Forest.

      The critical mistake made by the small team was underestimating their opponents. While they were used to fighting uncommon enemies, they were also used to enemies that stayed down when you hit them. These new monsters were durable and hard to kill, being already dead. Tevye disappeared around the side of the wall leading the majority of the scouting group away, but Narragansett and Lydia still had their hands full.
      The battle was fierce but looking to be a victory, even with the loss of Tevye, until the horn sounded that announced that Gilneas was about to close itself off from the rest of Azeroth for good. It was then that a blast of holy light shattered Narragansett’s spine and brought her down before the Scourge. Lydia had no time to attempt a healing spell as the last five undead swarmed her. She was scrappy, and was able to crush four of them before the fifth ran her through with a spear. She decapitated it before she fell. The last thing she saw was a look of grim satisfaction on the face of Claudia Monkshood as the door to Gilneas shut and locked in front of her.

      And then Lydia Sharkulye’s heart stopped for the fourth and final time.


      Lydia Sharkulye awoke in a crypt. She felt as if she was in a dream where she couldn’t breathe, and yet her body was calmed like there was nothing wrong.
       Her joints ached. Her joints creaked. She couldn’t feel her face. She couldn’t feel her eyes. She realized she had neither.
       Panicked, she ran up the stairs as fast as her rotted legs could carry her, nearly smack-dab into an undead monster so similar to the ones that felled her. She took a step back, but saw not mindless destruction but cynical intelligence in the creature’s eyes.
      “About time you woke up,” it - he said, “We were ready to toss you into the fire with the others, but it looks like you made it. I am Mordo, the caretaker of the crypt of Deathknell. And you are the Lich King's slave no more.”

     “Lich King?” Lydia asked in a voice that was almost but not quite entirely unlike her own. “Slave?”

     “Oh dear,” Mordo said rather unsympathetically, “You do have a lot to catch up on. What were you before you died?”
     “A Priest,” Lydia said, then adding, “Though I feel Lightless now.”

    “Well we do have priests here,” said Mordo, “but I don’t blame you if you want a change in profession. There’s an old Orc Warlock in town name of Hudsun who might be able to look after you.”

    “Orc?! What?!”

    “Oh yeah, Welcome to the Horde,” Mordo added derisively. “If it makes you feel any better, he claims his father was a Dwarf.”


    Training as a Warlock under the grumpy but kind Hudsun was going smoothly. Lydia was making plans to leave Tirisfal, possibly for good this time, and maybe visit the old Orc in Orgrimmar.
    While buying some thread in the Undercity, she suddenly heard a beautiful voice singing a mournful song, causing an ache in the place where her heart once was. Following the music, she was surprised to find it coming from the chambers of Sylvanus Windrunner, Banshee Queen of the Forsaken. As she entered the chamber, Sylvanus stopped singing and handed a book to another Elf, this one very much alive and with silver feathery hair and wearing a jet-black cloak with a silver zipper.
    “What was that about?” she asked the Elf catching him quite off guard.

    “The lady was having a painful memory,” he said in a smooth, deep voice, “though I have no room in my chest for pity. That is the realm of those with hearts.”
     Sharkulye raised what was left of an eyebrow.

     The Elf suddenly deflated. “I’m sorry, I can’t do this,” he said in his normal voice, one generally higher, “I was told the Lady valued heartlessness, but I just can’t do it.”
    “Take my advice,” Lydia said, “Don’t hide who you are.”
     “Oh, but I at least have to make a grand entrance!” exclaimed the Elf, “I’ve actually been working on an intro, but it needs a bit of work. Oh, my name is Zemnass. I’m a Mage.”

      “Sharkulye. Lydia Sharkulye. You must be pretty important to gain an audience with the Dark Lady.”

      “Nah, I’m a nobody,” replied Zemnass. “Just the first of many Blood Elves coming into the Horde. We’re kinda all that’s left of the High Elves. Well, I’ll be seeing you,” he added nervously, walking away.
      Sharkulye thought for a moment. “Hey Kid,” she called after him, “Need someone to show you around this maze?”


     “Horde, hear the call of your warchief!”

     Sharkulye and Zemnass wondered what Thrall, normally the quiet type, could be yelling about.

    “Today marks the first of many defeats for the Scourge! Death knights, once in service of the Lich King, have broken free of his grasp and formed a new alliance against his tyranny! You will welcome these former heroes of the Horde and treat them with the respect that you would give any ally of Orgrimmar! For the Horde!”

     Sharkulye looked at Zemnass. “Want to check it out?”

    “Why not.”
     The Death Knights were a motley bunch of characters that Sharkulye enviously thought seemed pretty well-preserved. But there was one she actually recognized. She’d know those horns anywhere…

   “Nar! Narragansett!”

    The cow, now purple in undeath did a double-take. “Lyddie?! Is that you?!”
    Sharkulye felt like she would literally fall apart at the force of the Tauren’s hug.

   “You don’t look so good,” she gasped.

   “Me?! You’re nothing but skin and bones! Literally!”

   For the first time in decades, Lydia Sharkulye felt like her heart was beating again.

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