Paladin accidentally unleashes unstoppable plague of maggots upon Azeroth

The Battle for Azeroth has ended much sooner than anyone anticipated, and everyone lost. Everyone, that is, except the maggots.

The beginning of the end started when Rextroy, a human paladin, realized he could cultivate Waycrest Manor's infectious maggots and bring them to Uldir, using the legion of loathsome larvae in conjunction with his Last Defender ability to overpower and single-handedly defeat MOTHER (Matron of Tenacity, Herald of Endless Research).

Everything would have been fine had Rextroy stopped there, but the ambitious paladin wasn't finished yet, dragging his gallery of grotesque grubs onward through the ancient titan quarantine facility until at last he stood before G'huun. And as the Old God's corrupting pestilence fell upon the ravenous maggots, causing them to instantly bloat, swell, then begin multiplying to impossible numbers, it occurred to Rextroy that perhaps he'd made a mistake.

Zandalar fell within the hour, with Kul Tiras succumbing shortly after. While the Alliance was initially perturbed by what Rextroy had unwittingly unleashed, it was the Horde that first realized the devastating ramifications, as the maggots began hungrily chewing a swath of destruction through the Forsaken ranks.

"How did they discover our only weakness?!" shouted Warchief Sylvanas Windrunner, before disappearing beneath by the pale, twitching swarm.

Any satisfaction the Alliance may have derived from their enemies' woes were short-lived, however, as it wasn't long before the outbreak had spread to the streets of Stormwind and Orgrimmar, and from there, the entirety of the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. Even now, the all-consuming, unstoppable throng sweeps across the world, devouring anything and anyone in its path.

"In retrospect, maybe it was a bad idea to introduce eternally-spawning parasitic maggots to an ancient, perfect avatar of rot and decay, who is also worshiped by a fanatical race of trolls with a historical fondness for contagious, apocalyptic plagues," said Rextroy from a hillock above Stormwind, watching as the wave of squirming, wriggling grubs engulfed the city below.

My demonic son's tattoos hurt me deeply

Put out the Mooncloth, crack open the Refreshing Spring Water, stand there in Darnassus smiling from ear to ear, because he's home – our demon hunter son is home and the family is together again. And after supper, after the washing up is done, the others – his younger siblings – drift off to watch the worgen howling outside, and he says: "Would you like to see my tattoos?"

I say, "You're joking."

He says, "No, I’m not."

But still I wait. Any minute he's going to laugh and say, "You should see your faces" because this has been a running joke for years, this idea of getting tattoos – the hard elf act, khorium muscles, shaved head, Broxigar, Varian Wrynn. He's a clever boy. Maybe during his Illidari training he thought a tattoo would balance out the cultural sacrilege of enlisting with the Betrayer, Illidan Stormrage.

His father says, "Where?"

"On my chest," he says, ripping off his shirt and touching his pecs.

His lovely chest.

In the silence, he says, "I didn't think you'd be this upset."

After a while, he says, "It wasn't just a drunken whim. I thought about it. I went to a professional. I need these arcane tattoos to hold back the fel energy coursing through my body, lest my inner demon awaken and overwhelm me, turning me into a demon myself. They cost 16 gold."

16 gold? I think, briefly, of all the things I could buy with 16 gold.

"They're just some tattoos," he says, when the silence goes on so long that we have nearly fallen over the edge of it into a pit of black nothingness. "It's not as if I came home and said I'd turned against our people and become the servant of an ancient, evil Elemental Lord."

It seems to me, unhinged by shock, that this might have been the better option.

His father asks, "Does it hurt?"

"Yes," I say, cutting across this male bonding. "It does. Very much."

For three days, I can't speak to my demonic son. I can hardly bear to look at him. I decide this is rational. In my mind's eye I stand there, a bitter old night elf with pursed lips wringing my black-gloved hands. He's done the one thing that I've said for years, please don't do this. It would really upset me if you did this. And now it's happened. So there's nothing left to say.

I know you can't control what your children do. I know all you can do as a parent is to pack their runecloth bags and wave as you watch them go. So I cry instead. I have a lump in my throat that stops me from eating. I feel as if someone has died. I keep thinking of his skin, his precious skin, inked like a Thistle Boar carcass.

My neighbour says, "There's a lot of it about. So many people are doing it." I stare at paintings of Falstad Wildhammer with his elaborate markings, those Lightforged draenei, all veins and glowing scrawls. Tattoos are everywhere. They seem no more alternative than death knights these days. But I still don't understand.

It's the permanence that makes me weep. As if Xavius had made face paints from acid. I read a report that surveyed just under 600 patients with visible tattoos. Nearly half of them had been inked between the levels of 18 and 98, and nearly a third of them regretted it.

I look up barber shop costs. Which is a possibility, I think miserably, that only works if you want the tattoos removed. And I'm not in charge here. My son is.

My husband asks, "Have you seen them yet?"

I shake my head. Like a child, I am hoping that if I keep my eyes tightly shut the whole thing will disappear.

"It's his body," he says gently. "His choice."

"But what if he wants to become a mage?"

"A mage?"

"Or a druid."

"He'll be wearing robes. Or he'll literally be a bear. No one will ever know. Besides, class changes still haven't been implemented, anyway."

I know. I know.

I get angry with myself. This is nothing but snobbery, I think – latent anxiety about the trappings of class. As if my son had deliberately turned his back on a nice Goldenbark Apple and stuffed his face with Hobo Surprise. I am aware, too, that I associate tattoos on men with aggression, the kind of arrogant swagger that goes with blindfolds and bell bottoms.

Is this what other women feel? Or perhaps, I think, with an uncomfortable lurch of realization, just what older women feel. I stand, a lone devilsaur, bellowing at a world I don't understand.

On day three, still in a fog of misery, I say to him, "Shall we talk?"

We sit down with cups of Moonberry Juice. I open my mouth to speak and end up crying instead. I say, "You couldn't have done anything to hurt me more."

He is cool and detached. He says, "I've sacrificed everything. What have you given?"

I think, everything! I've done nothing else for three days but think about what I've lost! But I don't say that because we aren't really talking to each other.

I say, "Why couldn't you have waited until you were older? You'll have those the rest of your life, now."

"I'm eight thousand years old, mother. I think I'm old enough to make my own decisions."

Which makes it worse.

He says, "I'm still the same person, under these tattoos. The tattoos I need to live. Other than the demon inside me. And my lack of eyes. And my eternal crusade to eradicate the Burning Legion and pursue them relentlessly until they're all wiped out."

I look at him, sitting there, my 8000-year-old son. I feel I'm filling out an app for a guild I don't even want to join. I say, "But you're not. You're different. I will never look at you in the same way again. Maybe because I'm your mother. All those years of looking after your body – taking you to the priestesses and making you drink Ice Cold Milk and worrying about Webwood Spiders or that you'll fall off Teldrassil to your death. And then you let some stranger inject ley pigments under your skin. Your precious skin."

"To me, it seems like self-mutilation. If you'd lost your arm in a battle, I would have understood. I would have done everything to make you feel better. Maybe the gnomes could build you a prosthetic. But this – this is desecration. And I hate it."

"I'm part demon, mother!" he retorts, the hollowed recesses where his eyes used to be blazing green. "I had to kill one and eat its heart! My life is constant torment! I have horns, and scales, and claws! And you're upset about some tattoos?"

I shake my head. It's different. He just doesn't understand. How could he? He's not a mother.

We look at each other. There seems nothing left to say.

Over the next few days, my son – always wearing a tabard – talks to me as if the row had never happened. I talk to him, too, but warily. Because I'm no longer sure I know him.

And this is when I realize that all my endless self-examination was completely pointless. What I think, or don't think, about tattoos is irrelevant. Because this is the point. Tattoos are fashionable. They may even be the only thing keeping a terrible demon from taking over his body and turning him into an evil, vile monster. But by deciding to get those tattoos, my son took a warglaive to my apron strings. He may not have wanted to hurt me. I hope he didn't. But my feelings, as he made his decision, were completely unimportant.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one; pack up Elune and dismantle the sun.

I am redundant. And that's a legitimate cause for grief, I think.

Azeroth shocked to learn Paladin order hall underground lighting is actually just spare Naaru

For months now, visitors to the Paladin order hall have wondered just how the Silver Hand managed to have sunlight shining through the hall's enormous stained glass windows when the entire sanctum was located underground, beneath Light's Hope Chapel.

Yesterday, the world learned the secret: spare Naaru.

"What, you thought we called them chandeliers just as a joke?" said Lord Maxwell Tyrosus, laughing, when asked about the situation.

"It's really a beneficial setup for everyone involved," explained Tyrosus, opening a secret hatch behind one of the hall's windows, revealing the Naaru within. "After all, there's more of these things than we can shake an Ashbringer at, so we figured, hey, they may as well make themselves useful, right?"

"Besides, just between us, it was actually getting kinda tiresome trying to tell them apart. I think this one back here's, uh, F'ubu? H'ulu? Pikachu? I dunno."

When asked if these Naaru were now illuminating the hall constantly, Tyrosus shook his head.

"No, no, we give 'em breaks every now and then, have them go dark and take it easy for a while. And yeah, sure, some people believe it's like, rare or something for a Naaru to go dark, but let's face it -- these things go dark all the freaking time."

Tyrande celebrates International Alliance Day by thanking the Horde

High Priestess Tyrande Whisperwind raised many eyebrows today when she began a speech to celebrate International Alliance Day by thanking the Horde.

"It's International Alliance Day, so I'd like to give a special shoutout to all the Horde in our lives," she said to a stunned crowd, who immediately began whispering among each other in confusion and no small amount of anger.

"This is a bad look," said Kalbeari, a night elf druid, frowning and shaking her head. "I mean, I get what she's trying to say. She was good friends with Broxigar, and okay, maybe they're not all bad. But is thanking the Horde on International Alliance Day really the right message she wants to send to all the people who look up to her?"

"Why would she thank the Horde? On Alliance Day??" shouted Selwyn, a fellow priestess of Elune. "The Horde, the same people who pillage our forests, start wars, and would like nothing better than to put us all six feet underground? Why should we thank them for anything?"

"Look over there!" she added, pointing to an orc hiding behind a tree. "They're literally lighting Darnassus on fire right now!"

"No race, no faction!" shouted Tyrande, raising her voice to be heard over the sound of the growing flames.

Inaugural Midsummer Fyre Festival descends into utter chaos, disaster

The much-hyped Midsummer Fyre Festival was supposed to be a fabulous luxury vacation getaway, where wealthy lowbies could take S.E.L.F.I.E.S. with big names like Jaina and Lor'themar on a beautiful private beach, enjoy the finest gourmet meals Azeroth's chefs had to offer, and unwind in high-class waterfront cabanas worthy of the King of Stormwind himself.

Instead, the Bilgewater Cartel-hosted event in Azshara spiraled into a disastrous landslide of disappointment, disorder, and desperation, with festival-goers reporting appalling accommodations, violent locals, and 'catered meals' of such shoddy quality even Nomi would be embarrassed.

"It's a complete disaster! It's chaos!" mourned Saeil, a blood elf hunter who paid 4,000 gold for a ticket to the exclusive event, only to be greeted by half-constructed tents, mountains of garbage, and visitor luggage being tossed off the back of a kodo in the middle of the night. "There's no organization, the beach is just greasy dirt and gravel, and the concierge booth is a rusted old oil barrel! And there's not even anyone there!"

Trash piles and luggage woes were not the only complications awaiting the excited guests. Achloryn and Iciandra, a pair of death knights looking forward to a bit of rest and relaxation, shelled out over 12,000 gold for a premium housing villa package that promised twin-sized beds, comfortable sitting chairs, hanging lamps, and a spacious living room area. What they received instead was a cramped canvas tent with a dirt floor, furnished with two straw cots and a dead kobold lying in the corner for lighting.

"The worst part is, I know these tents," said Iciandra dazedly. "They're disaster relief tents! We handed them out to refugees after the Cataclysm. The Cataclysm!" She then broke down sobbing, during which time a goblin wearing a SECURITY t-shirt snuck into her tent and made off with her suitcase.

Iciandra's companion Achloryn could not be reached for comment, as she was busy fighting off a pack of feral worgen that were running wild in the area. "IF I WANTED TO BE ATTACKED BY FERAL DOGS, I COULD DO IT FOR WAY LESS THAN 12,000 GOLD!" she was heard shouting during the melee.

Other attendees reported being attacked and robbed by hostile naga, makrura, and in some cases, even other guests.

In the months leading up to the festival, organizer and host Trade Prince Jastor Gallywix promised "the very best in food, art, music and adventure," including live performances by Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftain, on a majestic beach once owned by none other than Queen Azshara. The event was also highly promoted and hyped by celebrities such as Haris Pilton and Duke Studlington on social media website Instagrom, where photos of the swimsuit-sporting sex symbols garnered thousands of /flirt and /flex reactions.

However, two days before the festival was set to begin, L80ETC announced that they were pulling out of the event, and everything went downhill from there.

Even the food was a complete disappointment, according to some very upset and very hungry attendees.

"I paid truly mind-boggling quantities of gold for a premiere luxury vacation and was promised gourmet catered meals," said Fabulor, a blood elf paladin who live-tweeted his experience. "And what did I get? An old fish lying on a crate with a rusty knife?"

"I will be speaking to my lawyers."

"This was NOT A SCAM!" chortled Gallywix from atop a towering mound of gold coins. "I'm heartbroken! Really, I am! I don't know how everything went so left but we're working to make it right! THIS IS NOT MY FAULT!"

Eventually, the Bilgewater Cartel begrudgingly agreed to postpone the festival, promising to arrange transportation home for the starving and angry festival-goers.

"Next year, I'm staying in Duh Morogh," grumbled Credenza, a dwarf shaman, moments before Cartel employees locked the guests into a Bilgewater Harbor storage room and chained the doors shut, "for their own safety."