Line in the Sand [Letters]


Mood: Excited











Aha! Victory! I see now, it was this little dial on the side. It says "Enthusiasm Regulator, Mark II." I have no idea what that is but Ricket said to make sure it's on whenever I used this machine to record my voice, so on it will remain.

Hello journal! Tomorrow at this time, I will no longer be in Orgrimmar! I have answered Warchief Hellscream's call and joined the brave Horde warriors who have ventured to the watery domain they are calling Vashj'ir!

However, I will not be fighting the vile naga or the filthy Alliance. As much as I would love to bathe my axe in their blood, the Horde needs other, mundane services if we hope to emerge victorious, such as innkeepers, vendors and flight masters. It is disappointing on a personal level, of course, but all duty is noble in service of the Horde, and I am proud to do my part for our cause.

And so begins my career as a Horde flight master. The Warchief informs me that I will be in charge of a small windrider roost on the only piece of land in the entire region, a vital entry point into our underwater excursion! I will be responsible for sending weary warriors home for rest, or receiving revitalized soldiers returning to the briny battlefield, raging far beneath the little island.

It does sound like a lonely job, but it is a crucial role, and someone has to do it! Tonight I will go introduce myself to the windriders being shipped out with me. I have always enjoyed the company of beasts, so perhaps the solitude will not be as bad as it sounds. And Ricket gave me this device to help pass the time. I am not really a writing-down orc so this is actually quite perfect.

Until tomorrow, journal!

Day 1

Mood: Content

Briglar here again. I am now sitting on the sandy beach of my new home, a jagged stretch of sand in the middle of the ocean. The Warchief was not exaggerating when he said it was the only bit of land around - there is nothing but open water around me, as far as the eye can see. If the sky is clear and I squint, I believe I can just make out the mountains of the Eastern Kingdoms' western shore, though I am not sure. It might just be a cloud.

The journey here was horrible. Without an established windrider post, I could not simply fly in, but had to sail out by boat. This would not normally be so bad, except that I had a company of surly windriders to escort! We could hardly swim. And of course, I also had a number of supplies needed to set up the flight station when I arrived on the island.

Fortunately, Orgrimmar's goblin carpenters had been well prepped for my needs. A sizable craft made of special materials had been loaded onto the boat, and after the captain and I had loaded it up with my precious cargo and my personal effects, I set sail.

It was a quiet voyage, with the sea stretching endlessly and silently before me. With nothing but the sun overhead to guide me, I began to grow nervous that I had sailed off-course and was drifting off to sea. And it was slightly alarming when the left side of the boat somehow burst into flame. Goblins! I swear.

However, I was worried for nothing, and that evening I spotted the telltale silhouette of the island slowly materializing in the horizon.

It is a curious island, journal. There is absolutely nothing of value on it - no minerals, no resources, nothing. But as I said, it is the only surface territory within miles, and so both the Horde and Alliance realized its strategic value. Initially there was a great deal of fighting over the tiny chunk of land, but very quickly both sides realized that the efforts were costing both factions in their mutual fight against the naga. Even the hotheaded Varian Wrynn realized the folly of continuing to waste Alliance lives when the real fight was taking place far beneath the island, deep underwater.

And so, a mutual truce was agreed upon to leave the isle as neutral territory, where warriors of either side could safely rest or take a flight back to the mainland. The Horde would have a single windrider post, and the Alliance, a single gryphon roost.

I cannot say I am thrilled to be sharing my new home with Alliance soldiers, but if they do not hassle me, I will leave them be. I am here to help my Horde brothers, not fight senseless battles against silly humans and dwarves! But they had better keep their distance if they know what is good for them.

When I arrived, I saw a small cooking fire on the island's northern end. It appears my Alliance counterpart had arrived before me. I gave them a wide berth and docked to the south, and let the restless windriders out so they could stretch their wings. While they were preoccupied, I unloaded my supplies and carried them over to the side, then set about dismantling the ship. Noble ship! You served me well! But now you will serve a new purpose!

When I was done, I roped the boards and planks together into sturdy perches for the beasts. They weren't pretty, but they did the job, as evident when the windriders landed upon them a few moments later. I was all set up and ready for business! I would be the best flight master in the neighborhood. Well, better than the Alliance guy. I guess that we make up the entire neighborhood. But still.

Before it got dark, I spent a long time studying my map. It was essential that I memorize the locations of our Eastern Kingdoms camps and outposts, since it would be my job to ensure the windriders knew where they were going. Every young Grunt has heard the horror stories about hopping on an Orgrimmar-Ashenvale flight, and mistakenly getting sent on a hours-long tour across Kalimdor, finally landing in Silithus where some giant bug wanders by and squashes them flat.

I studied the names and their identifying marks, and checked my meticulously-organized crate of collars, each branded with a specific, unique scent corresponding to a different roost. All seemed to be in order. By Garrosh's great galoshes, there are so many of them! I scratched my head in confusion as I studied the tiny diagram. Did we really need SEVEN flight points in the Eastern Plaguelands? Can't they just ride their mounts? Or, I don't know, walk? Kids today.

I decided to send a test message to one of the "nearby" destinations, Grom'gol in Stranglethorn Vale. I slipped on the appropriate collar - a pleasant pungent mushroom smell, I noticed - and attached a brief message requesting that they send word via zeppelin back to Orgrimmar, informing Warchief Hellscream of my arrival and confirmation that our aerie was ready for use.

As the beast disappeared into the distance, I felt a vague sense of dread, hoping I hadn't sent the poor beast off to get lost in the wilderness and die. Doras had warned me about these feelings, that I had to get used to them and trust in the animals, but it was still nerve-wracking!

However, within an hour's time the windrider had returned with a letter stating that my message had been passed on. To my delight, there was also a freshly cooked haunch of raptor! It smelled delicious. It had cooled on the long flight over the sea, but it was still very tasty. I hoped the smell drifted downwind to the Alliance camp and made them hungry! Haha! Eat that, humans! I mean...don't eat it. Because you can't eat it. Because it's mine. I mean...bah, whatever.

My belly full, I settled back against the rocks to sleep. It was was strange having no other voices around except my own. But at least I have always found myself to be pretty good company.

Day 2

Mood: Still excited

So far, no Horde travelers in need of my services, but I maintain my careful vigil, watching the skies for incoming arrivals, and watching the shore for tired warriors ready to return home. I am sure they will arrive soon, once they learn that I am here. I am ready!

When daylight broke through the clouds, I decided to explore the rest of the island. The sand is littered with the remains of previous battles. Sealed crates full of ammunition lie half-buried and abandoned, and a half-finished guard tower towers alarmingly overhead, crooked and leaning. I really, really hope it doesn't fall down one day. That would be very bad.

As I roamed down the beach, I saw the Alliance flight master emerge from his little tent, yawning. It was a human male, dressed in a gaudy red jerkin with a flamboyant yellow crest blaring on the front. He looked like a skinny hot pepper stumbling over the sand.

He began rummaging in a small chest at his feet, and didn't notice me watching him from down the beach. I decided to return back to my end of the island before he saw me. The island was neutral, peaceful territory, but I didn't know if he had seen me arrive, and I didn't want to startle him into attacking out of surprise. Being forced to kill the human over a misunderstanding would not look very good, not when we were supposed to have a truce.

I chuckled to myself as I walked back to my camp. A tent! The human had brought a tent, like he was at some kind of fair. What a pampered lifestyle they live. He had also strung up some sort of cloth roof on some tall posts to provide a shaded area. Typical, can't even stand a little ocean spray and sun. I wondered if he had brought a little sun hat and umbrella as well. Ah, humans.

The rest of the day passed without incident, or event. No travelers arrived, so I spent the rest of the day firming up the windrider posts and piling up the remaining wood left over from my ship. Dinner consisted of dried pork and hardtack. It was plain, and was certainly no roast raptor, but I figured I'd better get used to it.

Day 5

Mood: Bored

Still no arrivals, nor departures. I began to wonder if the Warchief has received my message? Perhaps no one knew I was here yet. Just to be safe, I sent another missive to Grom'gol asking them to maybe send Orgrimmar a little reminder. They sent back word that they would, but sadly, did not send back any raptor this time. Ah well.

I decided to try my hand at fishing. Not only would it be a way to pass the time, but I was quickly realizing that a diet of dried meat and biscuits was going to become quite tiresome. I unwrapped a pole I had purchased from Lumak before I left, and with some difficulty, attached the tiny bobber that he had suggested. When I get back, I will have to ask him why he uses such tiny string and wire! It just doesn't seem very practical.

Unfortunately, I did not catch anything other than a piece of drifting wood and an old boot, but it was rather peaceful and relaxing to watch the ocean drift by, waiting for the line to jump. The water is remarkably clear this far from land, and I could vaguely see bright colors moving far, far beneath the surface. I didn't know if they were Horde, Alliance, or even merely plantlife on the ocean floor, but in any case, it was still interesting.

I kept the hunk of wood and the boot I had fished up as souvenirs. It's not like I didn't have room, and anyway, there was no point throwing it back in the water. I put them in a little pile beneath the nearby unfinished tower. I figured that since my warrior brothers and sisters will be bringing home war trophies, captured weapons, scales or horns from vanquished foes, etc, I may as well do the same. Of course, a boot is nowhere near as impressive as a dragon's claw, but I am not ashamed of my duty here. I may not have killed a terrible foe to get it, but we all must serve in our own way.

Maybe I will go throw them at the human.

Day 8

Mood: Wary

Had my first encounter with the human today.

Still hadn't had any luck with fishing, so I had been testing different spots around the island. So far I have caught some tin cans, one dead jellyfish, and five more boots. All of them are left boots! Are there a bunch of people running around missing their left feet? Is it the latest fashion trend now to go bootless? I do not understand this at all.

Anyway, I hadn't had any luck fishing around the windriders, so I moved a bit farther north. It was very foggy out, a thick fog that blocked my sight. I settled in to see what I dragged up today. Despite my lack of success so far, I felt I was getting better! Sooner or later I would be bound to catch something edible.

Imagine my surprise, journal, when the fog cleared to reveal the human standing only an axe-throw away! He too was fishing (the copycat!) and seemed equally surprised. My hand went for my axe, but I had left it back at camp! Fortunately, I saw that the human too was unarmed.

We stared at each other awkwardly for a few moments. He broke the silence and asked me something, but it was in the human tongue, which I am not familiar with. I asked if he knew orcish, but he shrugged and clearly did not understand. Stalemate!

I pointed back over my shoulder at my post, then pointed to where I stood, then at myself. He caught on quickly, and repeated the gesture, indicating his own side. I nodded. The south for me, the north for him. I could live with that. We had to be neighbors, but there was no reason we had to be close ones.

Our agreement reached, we continued fishing. I had not yet caught a fish, but neither had the human, and I certainly wasn't going to let him beat me! It eventually got so dark that we had to stop, though we each had accumulated quite a pile of fished-up garbage by that time. No winner this round, human. Your dignity narrowly survives to live another day!

Day 9

Mood: Hostile


Apparently I can override the Enthusiasm Regulator with sufficient enthusiasm. Hahaha, wait until Ricket hears that I broke her machine.

Day 10

Mood: Wet

Raining really hard today. Perhaps the human's tent was not such a silly idea after all. Have constructed makeshift hut out of leftover boards and boot laces, but still pretty cold. Beginning to have slight regrets.

Day 14

Mood: Dejected

Had my first arrival today, journal. Sadly, it was just an annoyed Blood Elf who told me he had meant to fly to Booty Bay. At least I got to send him on his way. (A pleasant coconut smell!) I asked him how the fight in Vashj'ir was going, but he just gave me an odd look and said he "hated that miserable place." :\

Day 19

Mood: Concerned

Had not seen the human in a few days. Was troubled by this, though am not quite sure why. I suppose he is okay, for a human. He leaves me alone and is pretty quiet. It could certainly be worse. It could be a gnome. They never shut up!

I went for a jog and, when I reached the center of the island, snuck a look northward to see if the human was still there. He was there, but he was sitting on a little stool in front of his tent, looking pale. (More pale than normal.) He looked very frail and weak, and tired. I think he was sick. Or it could be that our limited diet on the island was taking its toll. I have heard that humans have a more fragile constitution, and cannot even eat raw meat! It is no wonder he looked ill.

He looked up and noticed me, so I made a rude gesture at him before jogging back to my camp. Poor little human. Our job is the poop, and now he was sick? That could not be very fun.

I hope he gets better. (I guess.)

Day 21

Mood: Full

Great news, journal! I caught something today! I mean, something that was not thrown away by someone else. It only took me approximately 5,672 tries, but I finally pulled up a fish. An ugly, horrid thing, but still - fresh food!

I managed to catch a few more, and threw them in the cookpot with some of my other rations. Tonight I would dine on warm, delicious fish stew! Okay, it wasn't really delicious, but it was okay, and it was still a refreshing change of pace. It warmed me very nicely, fighting off the cool ocean breeze.

After I finished, I looked at the pot and sighed. I was stuffed, and there was no way to store the remaining stew. May as well not waste it.

I hefted the pot and crept up the beach. The human was sitting at his campfire, looking even scrawnier than normal. He had big bags under his eyes and he looked a little green. You know, the color works for us orcs, and maybe the trolls, but on a human? It is not great.

He saw me approaching and fumbled for his sword. I stopped where we had divided the territory and set the pot down, pointing at it. He looked very skeptical - I suppose I would be, too - so I knelt and ate a spoonful to show him it wasn't poisoned. He didn't show any sign of rising to come get it, so I shrugged and left. If he did not eat it, so be it.

Day 27

Mood: Full

The human did eat the food! I found the cookpot where I left it, empty, with a note attached to it. I looked over at the human and he nodded and saluted. He also looked a little better, with some (gross) pink back in his face. I looked down at the note. It was written in human, so I couldn't understand it. Oh well.

When I went to cook my dinner that night, I noticed that the human had left some cheese in the pot! I devoured it with delight with my stew. Perhaps it wasn't so bad to be stuck here with this particular human, after all.

Day 47

Mood: Content

Am beginning to wonder if the fighting in Vashj'ir is over, and everyone just forgot to tell the human and I.

In any case, life on our island is okay. After smelling some delicious aromas drifting down from the human's camp, I realized that he is a much better cook than I am. However, I have more success fishing, or if I am truly bored, digging up clams and crabs like I did in my youth on the shores of Durotar. After much hand-waving and cautious gesturing, we came to some agreements. Now I catch all the food and bring it to our central camp, and the human cooks it up for us.

We also keep active by sparring during the day. At first, when I approached the human with the wooden swords I had fashioned out of old crates, he drew back in alarm. I rolled my eyes (I had a perfectly good axe, as he well knew. Why would I attack him with a wood blade?) and tossed him his weapon. It took some convincing, but gradually we worked out a nice little exercise routine. I was worried that he would not be any challenge, but he must have been trained like myself, for we are quite evenly matched. It is a nice way to stretch my muscles and pass the time.

It is funny, journal. I never would have thought I would become friends with a human, but that is what has happened. We cannot understand a single word the other says, and I do not even know his name, but I think I would be quite disappointed if he left or died. It would be so lonely here.

Oh, I hear the human banging the cookpot, he must be hungry. HOLD ON HUMAN, I HEAR YOU. KEEP YOUR UGLY RED SHIRT ON.

Bye for now, journal!

Show/Hide Letter Notes

When I think of the loneliest, most overlooked NPCs in Cataclysm, I think these two poor guys take the cake. All alone on a tiny little island, with nothing or no one else to keep them company, manning Flight Points that hardly ever get used. What a dreary life they must live!

From a writing perspective, this was also exactly the type of character I look for, for a true challenge. No dialogue, no quests, Briglar does NOTHING of importance in WoW, and yet to think of it from an in-character perspective, he performs a humble, yet very important role.

It's a little sad, too. Because you know Briglar would rather be underwater helping his Horde allies fight off the naga. But at the same time, he would understand that being the Flight Master, while not glorious or exciting, is necessary for the Horde as a whole, and that someone has to do it.

I thought it would be pretty funny to have Briglar and Francis strike up an odd, reluctant friendship, since they are both in the same boat. It's hard to maintain enmity or faction hate when you're essentially stranded on a desert island, with an "enemy" as your only company. (Not counting the Wind Riders or Gryphons...who wouldn't really count.)

Of course, there'd have to be some established truce beforehand, otherwise they probably would have fought. And I thought it would be great if, because of this rivalry, Briglar's initial aggressiveness towards Francis was limited to petty pranks and name-calling. It's the perfect scenario to also channel a little Cro Threadstrong.

Secretly, I am quite happy with the science I came up with for how Flight Masters direct their Wind Riders. It's not like they can just tell them "Okay, go fly to Tarren Mill", can they? But a range of varied, distinctive scents corresponding to different locations? I could see that working. Can you imagine the poor Wind Rider's pack/box that they would need, if they needed a collar or cloth for each available flight point? It would be ENORMOUS.

6 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. gravatar

    I really enjoyed this. And we really don't need that many flight paths in EPL; I rarely use all the new cata flight paths anyway since most quest hubs give you free transport to the next one.

    November 17, 2011 at 12:54 PM

  2. gravatar

    Going to go out and sit with Briglar for a bit tonight, I think.

    November 17, 2011 at 1:32 PM

  3. gravatar

    How charming! The style of this one reminded me of the fellow who's at war with the fruit vendor in Shattrath.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:52 PM

  4. gravatar

    @Mittenz - I went to look up the flight paths, expecting to use "3 in Badlands" or something, and was blown away to see SEVEN in EPL. Wtf! Haha.

    @Glyneth - Poor Briglar! (And Francis!) So dutiful, yet unloved.

    @redcow - CRO! That was exactly the sort of tone I was going for. :)

    November 17, 2011 at 6:09 PM

  5. gravatar

    I am remarkably glad that you didn't go the path of pure loneliness and insanity that I thought you would. This could have been supremely depressing but instead it turned into a grudging respect. Well done sir!

    November 18, 2011 at 5:25 AM

  6. gravatar

    This is by far my favorite of your letters so far. I've enjoyed each of the previous ones, particularly the one from the mother of the taurens who were massacred, but this one just struck me. It's very humorous at times, it shows how these kind of "buddy film" relationships go (in that two very different people are stuck together for whatever reason), and it also captures the feeling of being forgotten. Great work, mate!

    November 18, 2011 at 10:30 AM