I have not been playing Warcraft for about 4 weeks now due to a RSI. Playing WoW leaves my thumb and fingers numb and my hand in agony, and I’ve needed a lot of ice and painkillers to make it through each workday. I have no opinion of the 5.3 changes because I haven’t played anything in 5.3.
Health comes first. I’ve cancelled my sub and it will probably be a few months, at least, before I even think about returning. It’ll be good to take a break, but I’ll miss the folks I play with while I’m out. But not playing gives me time to think, and tap out stories with my left hand, and remember other things I want to do.
Anyhow, here. Have a story of Cynwise’s departure heading into 5.4.
Visper rested her head on her hand, her elbow propped up on the table. It was late evening in the Waypoint Cartographer’s Union Guild House and there was paperwork to be completed. Karanina and her staff took care of most of it from the office in Pandaria, but there were things that still required branch office approval.
Branch office. Visper shook her head and smiled faintly. I’m running a branch office of a guild instead of a platoon of Death Knights. What happened to me? What happened to us?
A soft knock at her office door made her straighten up. “Come in,” she said firmly. Cynwise entered quietly and quickly took a seat in one of the leather-backed chairs in front of the large desk.
“You’ve seen the reports out of the Vale?” Cynwise asked without preamble.
“Yes. Some kind of a dig led by that madman,” replied the draenei. “If it isn’t one thing it’s another with Garrosh.”
“It is one thing after another with Garrosh, though I don’t think he’s actually crazy. This excavation, specifically, is unusual.” Cynwise turned her head to look at the large, exquisitely detailed map of Pandaria on the wall. The guild master of the mapmaker’s union got the best of the best for a reason. Small colored dots were affixed to the map throughout the continent. The blue ones with white borders were Waypoint expeditionary teams, surveying the new countryside and sending back information to continually update the maps which were Waypoint’s reason for existing. Various orange dots scattered the regions, marking places of past conflict. Yellow denoted treasure troves; white, points or persons of interest. And red dots marked the location of Horde forces.
There were a lot of red dots on the map now.
Visper had worked with Cynwise long enough to wait out the silence, her glowing blue eyes flicking back and forth between the map and the warlock. After a minute of looking at the map and thinking, Cynwise turned back to Visper.
“He moved the 3rd Darkspear Battalion?” she asked.
Visper nodded. “From today’s dispatches.”
“Huh. Okay. He’s practically inviting the Alliance to storm the beaches at Krasarang. That’s likely a diversion or a trap.”
“The Reliquary is stranded out there, with little more than a contingent of goblins supporting from Domination Point – but, if they’ve abandoned the Krasarang digs for strip-mining the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, then…” Visper trailed off.
“Then, the real action is at that dig. Militarily and politically he’s risking a lot by strip-mining land that’s sacred to the Pandarens. I know the Warchief doesn’t care much about the Sunwalkers, but the Shrine is too good a fortification to simply throw away – no matter how much Dezco has irritated him.”
Visper nodded, her glowing blue eyes focused on the human woman. “I agree. But why is it unusual? There’s something there that that madman wants. And what he wants, he gets, no matter what it costs him,” she pauses, eyes widening, “Especially if he can spend the blood of the non-Orcs to get it.”
Cynwise quirked her mouth wryly. “Noticed that, did you?”
Visper smiled a little. “Yes. It looks like the 3rd is going to be reinforcing the dig site, which means they’ll likely start having more skirmishes with the Sentinels.”
“So much for quietly exploring a new continent full of wonder.”
“Indeed,” said Visper, as she got a funny look in her eye.
“Visper, this is foolish!” yelled Cynwise, slamming the door shut.
“I’ve made my decision, and that’s final!” the former Death Knight of Arthas yelled back, slamming a sheaf of papers on the desk as she stalked behind it. Visper didn’t even bother yanking her chair out, she just leaned on the desk with one arm and pointed at Cynwise with the other. “You can see it too, this is the way it has to be!”
The much smaller human woman didn’t shrink back from that accusatory finger. “The hell it is! You founded this guild with one purpose – mapping knowledge – and now you want to throw it away for war. Wars are not just won with the flesh and sinew of troops, they are won with the mind, with intelligence and knowledge! They are won by knowing what your enemy will do before he can do it! They are won by planning, and preparing, and planning some more. That’s what this guild is about! Winning through superior intelligence!” Cynwise’s eyes flashed dangerously.
Visper responded angrily. “That’s what this guild is about? You have the nerve to tell me what this guild is about?” The draenei’s voice got quieter, colder. “Do you remember who founded this guild, warlock?” She spit the last word out like an epithet. “You are a mercenary brought in to help guard and train. This guild is what I say it is, and we operate where and how I say we operate. My decisions are made for the good of all. Is that clear?”
Cynwise stood there, lips drawn, blood pounding through her veins. The office outside was suspiciously quiet, the normal chatter of the clerks and cartographers stilled by the fight between the two women.
“Yes, sir,” she said, finally.
“Are the new members trained? Are they ready for deployment in the field?” Visper asked, her eyes furious but her voice cold and forceful.
“They are, sir,” replied Cynwise, her voice deflated. “To the best of my ability, they are ready for deployment.”
“Then that is all. Get them ready to ship out.”
Cynwise stood there for a moment. She looked at the map, at the red and blue dots. At the black and blue dots which marked the places that cartographers had given their lives for these precious maps.
“No, sir. I cannot do that,” she said.
Visper blinked, once, twice. Cynwise knew that the Death Knight was weighing her options, that her rage was tempered by cold analysis of winning a fight with a veteran warlock. Visper’s fist clenched slightly, almost reflexively, and her eyes narrowed. The entire office was silent.
“What did you say?”
“I will not lead this deployment,” Cynwise said. “I cannot condone this course of action. I have seen enough war to know when resources are spent unwisely. And if I cannot convince you to change your mind with my words,” she said, drawing a small knife from her belt, “perhaps I can change them with my actions.”
Visper stood behind her desk, angry but not threatened, as the warlock smoothly reached up to her left shoulder with the knife. Cynwise deftly cut the Waypoint insignia patch off of her overshirt, slicing the threads with practiced ease. She sheathed the knife and tossed the Compass Rose onto the desk.
It landed there, atop a stack of the latest dispatches from Kalimdor. Visper looked down at it, at the blue and gold patch resting on rough maps of the Barrens. Then she looked up at the disobedient warlock.
“Get out,” she said flatly. “You’re dismissed.”
Cynwise’s expression didn’t change.
“No, Visper,” she said. “I resign.”
And with that, she did a smart about face to exit the Chief Mapmaker’s office.
The sounds of clerks scrambling to get back to their desks could be clearly heard as the warlock opened the door to leave.
The spring air brought a welcome warmth through the open office window. Visper breathed in deeply. The turbulence of the last few months seemed to fade away with the scent of flowering trees and gardens that made Stormwind’s broad avenues such a pleasure to walk.
Maybe I can get a walk in today, she thought, turning back to her desk. A small frown appeared on her face as she eyed the dispatches Velaa had neatly placed on the center of her desk. Maybe before I vanquish this latest enemy. She turned back to look out the window and sighed.
A soft knock at the door brought her out of her reverie. “Just drop them on my desk, Velaa,” Visper said, “unless there’s something really urgent I need to see.” Visper knew the ultra-efficient Velaa thought nothing of discretely scanning the dispatches to ensure that the most important ones were on the top of the stack. It was something Kara had taught her.
“This will only take a moment, Visper,” said a familiar voice that was not Velaa’s.
Visper turned around. Standing in the doorway was Cynwise. The warlock was in the full dress uniform of the Alliance High Command, a sight which made Visper involuntarily stiffen at attention. There were a fair number of medals on display. Cynwise’s mouth quirked to one side.
“At ease, Lieutenant, you’re not on active duty,” said the human to the draenei, smiling.
“Sorry, Colonel. Old habits …” Visper said, relaxing. She didn’t quite smile back in return. “To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?”
“Maps, mostly,” said the dark-haired warlock. “I need the best maps I can get now.”
“Well, you’re in the right place for that, at least,” said Visper. “What’s with the uniform?”
Cynwise smiled. “I got an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
“Oh, I’m sure you could have if you really wanted to,” said Visper. “Thought you might have held out for a promotion or something, though.”
“I didn’t want a promotion, Visper,” said Cynwise. “While plenty of Generals end up in the field, they’re not supposed to be there, they’re supposed to be behind a desk. I don’t want that, not yet. Colonel is more than fine with me, it’s as high as I can go without losing a field command.”
“Hm,” said Visper, nodding along.
“Is that enough small talk? I want to make sure I’m doing this right. We could talk about the weather next if you like?” asked Cynwise.
Visper finally smiled at that. “Yes, I think that’s enough chatter. What maps did you need?”
“I need maps of the areas around every Horde capital city and encampment with more than ten thousand residents,” Cynwise said. “Plus general maps of Kalimdor, Pandaria, the southern coast of Northrend, Lordaeron and Gilneas, and anything you have around Quel’thalas.”
Visper blinked. “That’s a tall order, Colonel. And an expensive one.”
Cynwise nodded in agreement. “I know it is, you can upgrade me to the full Atlas package if you like. I need the best you can provide me today for some meetings at the Keep this afternoon, and then we can get the rest sorted out when we see what we’re missing.”
Visper quickly thought through what was in the shop downstairs. “We have Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms in stock, but the detailed maps of the Barrens and Mulgore might need to be updated. Pandaria, we’ve only got the tourist-quality ones, but there’s a military grade one in the war room in the Keep. I delivered it last week.”
“Okay. That will do for now,” Cynwise said. “I can pay Velaa for it all below.”
Visper raised an eyebrow. “You could have done the entire order through Velaa, warlock,” she said. “You’re not here just for maps. Why are you really here?”
Cynwise looked a little guilty at that question. She sighed and responded, “I came to apologize.”
“What?” Visper was honestly surprised.
“I came to apologize,” Cynwise continued. “I shouldn’t have challenged your authority in front of your people. That was wrong of me and I’m sorry. You paid me to do a job, and I did it, and it’s not my business what you do with your organization.”
Visper looked at the human with her glowing blue eyes. “Interesting. You’re not sorry you quit, though?”
Cynwise smiled. “No. I disagreed with you then, and I still disagree with you. I absolutely think your people serve the Alliance better by making maps, not dying on the front lines. But I should have handled my objections better. All I can say is that I’m sorry.” She offered her right hand to the taller draenei.
Visper eyed the outstretched hand for a moment, and then shook it. “You let yourself care about a bunch of cartographers you were hired to keep safe, warlock,” she said. “No crime in that. Apology accepted.”
“Now let’s go get you some maps for whatever war you’re planning, Colonel.”