To help me escape from the utter shite that is my MA dissertation (or “novel”), I’ve decided to write another silly story inspired by my terrible addiction to World of Warcraft. (Hey, I might as well milk SOMETHING productive out of it, right?) It’s a love story in which two gamers from opposite ends of the earth fall in love with each other inside the virtual world, which is not-so-loosely based on Azeroth. It’s probably going to be very silly and very obvious, but it’s a fun way to write fantasy without actually writing fantasy, if that makes any sense. I might not get very far with this, but here’s what I barfed out so far! (Once again, formatting is messed up and I couldn’t be bothered to figure out how to fix it!)
I met him in the melon patch on the outskirts of Northgale City. His hair was a rich blue and his ears were long and bendy. Bacon-ears, I would call him, although his name was Uthlan. It was a bright afternoon, sunlight filtering through the wickernut trees and casting long shadows across the nearby lake. The melon farmer’s son was at the water’s edge, putting on some sort of performance for a group of Makarra children, who were clapping their four-fingered hands in delight. A pleasant day; too warm for fear, too golden for thoughts of war.
We were gathering melons for Vinny “Winesauce” Jones. That was only reason anyone ever went to the melon patch. I didn’t know what Vinny wanted them for, but I didn’t care much either. I tended not to ask questions. Normally I’d just gather up the melons or shellfish or forest fowls or whatever it was I’d been asked to gather, lug them onto the back of my stormdragon and fly back to get my payment. That day was different. I didn’t take any notice of Uthlan at first. He was just another elf, after all. The city was crawling with them. But then he jogged over to me, ears flapping and bowed before me as if I was somebody important; somebody other than a lowly archer with an altogether unimpressive mountain hound companion named Peachfuzz, whose fur was really more of a mattered brown than a peachy fuzz. I don’t know what had come over me when I’d named the beast, but it was too late to rename him. He responded to nothing else.
I bowed back at Uthlan and stood waiting for him to say something, but he didn’t. He simply stared at me for a minute or two before jogging off to gather the rest of his melons. It was very strange. I stood there watching him until he had all the melons he needed and he clambered onto the back of his tattery warmule and galloped off towards the bridge. I wondered why he chose to go by land instead of getting himself an eagle or a winged serpinar. They were dirt cheap and easy to come by. Just a few extra melon jobs for Vinny “Winesauce” and he could be taking the airborne shortcut over the city walls instead of weaving his mule through the throngs of people who inhabited the place by day. Even though I was four melons behind him, my flight advantage allowed me to get back to Vinny before Uthlan did and our paths crossed again as I was walking away from the smarmy melon-hoarder, my pockets jangling with silver.
I expected Uthlan to trot right past me, for the event in the melon patch to be a random, isolated incident, but once again, he acknowledged my presence over anyone else’s, this time with a bold salute. It wasn’t as if I was the only person there. There was throng of faeries gathered around the mailboxes, a Makarra woman was haggling with a potion salesman and there was even an old wizard cooling his feet in the sacred fountain while a cleric tried half-heartedly to chase him away with a holy book. It looked heavy, and potentially lethal magic was falling like embers from the pages, but the old wizard wasn’t concerned in the slightest.
“So cool! So fresh!” he sang, splashing water at the cleric.
I waved at Uthlan, but he had already passed me and hurried into Vinny’s store across the courtyard, lugging his sack of melons with impressive ease. I stared after him, wondering who he was and why he was singling me out. My good friend Myriel the halfling caught me daydreaming and snapped me out of it by lobbing a chunk of bread at the side of my head.
“Kaluna!” she said. “What are you doing standing around in the city on such a beautiful afternoon? You should be out slaying pests and gathering supplies and practicing your archery! There’s a war coming, you know.”
“I know,” I said. “Peachfuzz knows it too. Edgy all the time and fussy about his food all of a sudden. He used to love a good a cankerfish and now he just turns his nose up at it.”
“Aye, he’s developed some airs and graces, has he,” said Myriel, patting the hound on his mattered head. “Too long since the mountain days. Too much time in the city.”
Over the top of Myriel’s head, I spotted Uthlan leaving Vinny’s and hopping back onto his mule. I was about to tell her about my curious encounters with the elf when my little brother tripped over the network cable and Uthlan’s mule started galloping on the spot. I stared at Myriel. She was blunt-edged, blank-faced; her sword was sticking right through her thigh but she wasn’t reacting to it. She wasn’t real. Northgale and everyone in it froze for a moment, the wizard caught in mid-jump, the cleric in mid-rant, the Makarra woman in mid-haggle and then everything was gone and I was back in my room. Somewhere, far away, on the other side of the planet, someone had just watched me disappear before their eyes and felt the tiniest amount of sadness. Ridiculous, but true. One day he would tell me so.