by Lexicon Quillsniffer
Do you know what YOUR paintings really mean?
This is the question infamous detective and conspiracy theorist Horatio Laine has been asking lately, after discovering "undeniable evidence" that secret codes and messages lie hidden within the paintings decorating our walls.
"A few days ago I noticed some weird bumps in the painting of Thousand Needles I hang above my fireplace," said Laine. "Surely these minute oddities would be indiscernible to the untrained eye, but I am a master detective!"
He explained that after realizing the surface of the painting was irregular and ridged - "as if someone had layered some sort of opaque liquid onto the frame, obviously to conceal sensitive information!" - he grabbed a nearby Coarse Sharpening Stone and began furiously scratching away at the paint.
"After only three days of non-stop work, I successfully removed every fleck of paint," said the Elwynn Forest investigator, his hands stained and flecked with dried paint and sweat. "It was then that I discovered, to my abject horror, that a sinister pattern was secretly embedded beneath the paint, carved right into the wood frame!"
The painting, a work of famed goblin artist Sudsy Magee, contained a series of repeating lines, squiggles and curved indentations, according to Laine. When asked what he thought the markings meant, he said "I have no fucking idea!"
Laine said that the mysterious scratches were "totally freaking me out, man" and "way suspicious," so he immediately headed to Stormwind to report his findings to the King, who adamantly refused to see him. Undeterred, Laine spent a week in the Royal Library, consulting dozens of tomes on cryptography and foreign languages, before announcing that while he hadn't actually translated the painting's secret message, he had learned enough to make "a pretty good guess."
"This is vital information!" said Laine, eyes nervously darting around. "I have managed to prove that this painting, which I have owned for at least four years, contains a coded message! These marks identify it as belonging to one H.Laine, the date it was created, and even my home address! DO YOU REALIZE WHAT THIS MEANS?!" he shouted, before dashing over to the Library windows and hurriedly shutting the curtains.
"Don't you see?? Why, all someone would have to do is break into my house, steal my painting, painstakingly chip off all the paint, and then decipher this ridiculously complex secret code, and then they would KNOW WHERE I LIVE!" said Laine, tearing out handfuls of hair and gnawing his lip in panic.
"I haven't even translated the entire message!" murmured the agitated detective, furrowing his brow. "There's more there, but it seems incomplete. It must be part of a bigger message! I only have one piece of a much larger picture! I mean, one painting, that is one piece of a larger picture, I mean, series of paintings, I mean, a big puzzle IT'S ALL VERY COMPLICATED OKAY."
Laine said that he planned on traveling across the globe, locating every one of Magee's paintings, and scratching away the point so he might show their owners "the true horror lurking within their homes." He gestured to a gigantique bag lying on the ground, full of sharpening stones.
"I had to sell my house and liquidate my entire life's savings to purchase all these whetstones, but I am prepared. This dark secret must be revealed!"
Laine said that he had acquired dozens of Rough, Coarse, Solid, Dense, Fel and Adamantite Sharpening Stones, but had decided to do without Heavy Sharpening Stones, because "those things were like 15 gold each on the Auction House."
When asked how Magee could possibly have recorded Laine's personal information before the detective had even purchased it, Laine threw his hands up in the air, shouting "I DON'T KNOW! THAT'S WHY IT'S SO SCARY!"
"Maybe it's time travel," he gasped, stopping abruptly in his frantic pacing. "Time travel! That has to be it! The Bronze Dragonflight! Maybe he's a dragon!?"
Suddenly, Laine tore an eight-foot-long painting of Nethergarde Keep off the Library's wall and sprinted out the door. Guards quickly caught and pinned Laine to the ground, shackling him and leading him away to the barracks while the detective screamed that his work "must not be interrupted, for the sake of the universe."
Stormwind citizens remain skeptical of Laine's "discovery," dismissing the detective as "a total nutjob."
"Wasn't this the dude who said a dead horse was a secretly a demon in disguise, or something? What a loon."
Magee laughed when he heard of Laine's accusations, dismissing them as "poppycock."
"Of course there's scratches and marks on the frame of his painting. He just CARVED OFF THE PAINT WITH A PIECE OF ROCK!" said the posh artist, rolling his eyes.
"Humans," muttered Magee, turning back to his latest painting of a sheep.
Meanwhile, others believe this might all be part of a giant publicity stunt for Magee, meant to generate buzz and drive up interest in his work. The renowned artist is set to hold a highly anticipated "Ask Me Anything" in Redridge Mountain's Lakeshire Inn next week, and the event has been sold out for weeks.
However, critics have reacted with scorn, claiming Magee was simply copying King Wrynn's similar public forum last month where citizens could ask him questions about the state of the nation, an event which was very received and well-attended.
"Only a month after King Varian? I wonder where Sudsy got the idea," deadpanned one anonymous Stormwind resident.