The Riverbeasts

Nazmir riverbeasts

What fun to see the riverbeasts

 wading in shallows,

nibbling on waterlilies,

browsing along the banks,

so gentle you can hug them.

They’re complete pacifists –

or so you may think

unless you hug too hard;

then their fury knows no bounds.

Be cool. 

Here again I’m in Nazmir. I do enjoy coming upon a group of riverbeasts, a species that’s surely related to the hippopotamus (a Greek  word meaning “riverhorse”). Hippos are “among the most dangerous animals in the world” and are “highly aggressive and unpredictable” (Wikipedia), unlike the peaceful – unless provoked – riverbeasts.

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Fishing the Swamp

Nazmir swamp

I’ve fished swamps teaming with life:

otters playing,  birds unseen singing,

gators basking in shafts of sunlight,

and water moccasins slithering by.

Despite the dangers

there’s something peaceful about a swamp,

as long as you stay in the boat. 

Nazmir is a swampy region that, like all three Zandalar zones, is filled with dangerous, aggressive creatures. When I’m on a mission here, I sometimes linger to fish, always watching my back. Many parts of the zone remind me of the wilderness rivers I fished in Florida, my home state. Beautiful places, peaceful for the most part. 

Only once did I have a dangerous encounter with a hostile creature, an alligator. My husband and I had a string of several large mouth bass hanging off the side of our jon boat (a small flat-bottom boat). We were trolling with a little electric motor when a gator spotted our fish and figured it had a free lunch. Gators are stealthy, so it was almost up to the boat before we spotted it. Quickly I pulled in the string while he cranked up the gas motor – and away we went.

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Dusk at the Cemetery

Drustvar crows tree Sauna

It was dusk when my horse and I came upon

two crows perched on a hillside tree, crows

staring down at the cemetery below, as if

waiting for the resident ghosts to arise.

 

The windswept tree beckoned me to rest on

the bench beneath its boughs and wait, too,

for darkness to descend; but I, with ample

ghosts of my own, hied my horse along.

 

This scene is in Drustvar, a large island of the Kul’tiras cluster, a zone that has an ominous feel overall, parts of which seem to be in perennial dusk. I was herbing that day, hoping to find the elusive anchor weed. I found none, alas, but did return to my home base in Zuldazar with over 100 other herbs and this screenshot. I didn’t see a ghost there, but doubtless many players have suddenly found their ghostly selves in this graveyard – and chances are I will too one day and, like those before me, scramble back to my corpse for resurrection.

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The Cabbage Patch

Cabbage Patch

These cabbages look delicious.

Certainly the rabbits think so.

Does the gardener know?

Perhaps she likes sharing her bounty.

 

An aroma wafts from the cottage.

Could it be cabbage soup?

Perhaps she’ll share some with me,

a hungry wanderer. 

 

Here again I’m in Stormsong Valley, which isn’t as peaceful as it looks. But most of the cobblestone roads allow for safe passage past hostile animals and humanoids — and for screenshot opportunities. In this case, I was able to take my horse through the rabbit-ridden cabbage patches on this little farm. And I entered the cottage where I found players from the other faction (Alliance) role-playing – or maybe they were just standing around finishing all the soup because there was none left for me.

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The Old Windmill

Windmill

There’s something grand about a windmill,

an old-fashioned windmill,

abandoned,

standing stout and tall against the clouds,

defiant,

its sails chopping the wind to no purpose,

except its own bliss.

I’m much enjoying my wanderings in World of Warcraft’s recent expansion, Battle for Azeroth (BFA). I often take sidetrips far from my quest destinations. On one of those, I came across this windmill and was struck by the play of light on the clouds and, in general, the pastoral beauty of the landscape in this part of Stormsong Valley. 

An odd thing happened while I was tinkering with this screenshot. I’m not a poet, but the image moved me to write. And I arranged the words to look like a poem, along the lines of some of William Carlos Williams’ short poems. Later on, I played around with other screenshots that for me captured a mood or memory. So I’ve created a short series of image poems I call Moments. I plan to share these and perhaps others along and along.

 

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A guildie by any other name is ….

 

Helya killer3 10-9-17

That’s me, dead, lying on the deck of a storm-ravaged ship. Dahlye’s body (not visible) lies nearby. My remaining three guildies – Bechyra (tank), Drenym (healer), and Parvaiz (damage-dealer) – are fighting valiantly underneath the monster’s gigantic claw. The monster is Helya, ruler of the underworld Helheim and the last boss in the dungeon “Maw of Souls.” Only Bechyra and Drenym survive the storm. They defeat Helya, who then slithers back into her hellish realm while warning of raging seas to come.  

If I hadn’t died, I wouldn’t have gotten this screenshot. That’s just the way it is in a boss fight – no time-outs for photo ops. So would you believe me, if I said I died for art? Probably not. The truth is, I fell into a hole on the wrecked deck and couldn’t get away in time to avoid Helya’s breath, very bad breath, deadly in fact. Anyway, that’s all there is to this story.

But I’m not done. I want to tell you about the names I’ve given the guildies in this dahlia-flowers-pretty-flowersfight, not their real names or toon names, rather, names that I may use again when referring to these specific guildies.

First there’s Dahlye, whose name is a variant of the English word “dahlia,” a flower that in Victorian times symbolized elegance and dignity. Dahlye’s overall game presence reveals these qualities. Moreover, in real life she’s a gardener with a special love for dahlias, named for Swedish  botanist Anders Dahl.  

Then there’s Bechyra, WonderWomanthe treasure hunter in a previous post, whose name is a variant of the female Hebrew name meaning “the chosen one.”  Her extraordinary ability and willingness to serve as tank or healer or damage-dealer make her a welcome member of any dungeon group. She’s also the guild’s primary social organizer.

Next we have Drenym,Celtic rowan1 whose name is a portmanteau combining “druid” and a variant of “denim.” Drenym skillfully  switches between healer and damage-dealer, depending on the guild’s need. Her favorite healer is the druid. And in real life, she’s a quilter. I chose the fabric denim because she’s made of strong cloth, strong character.  

Finally there’s Parvaiz,493979289 whose name comes from the ancient Persian word for “lucky.” Indeed, he is one lucky fellow. If there’s a really cool mount or piece of gear to be gotten on a quest or in a dungeon or raid, the odds are in favor of it dropping for him. Moreover, in real life, he’s a top-notch bowler. 

I conclude with one of my favorite I-am-dead screenshots, an oldie from a raid in Pandaria. The monster, under whose jaw my body lies, is Throk the Bloodthirsty, a giant devilsaur in the Siege of Ogrimmar raid. Once again I died for art. Well, at least I’d like to think I made art out of my death.

Throk5 Photo Info (in order of appearance): Helya fight in the Maw of Souls; dahlia found on Pinterest; Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman (Clay Enos/Warner Bros); detail from a druid quilt, a branch of rowan, the Tree of Life whose red berries heal the wounded; bowling stock image; Throk the Bloodthirsty in the Siege of Ogrimmar.

 

 

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Gnomes Run Again, 7000 Strong!

The best one ever! the 8th annual Running of the Gnomes, an in-game charity event to benefit the Cleveland Clinic’s research to cure breast cancer. Last night 7000 gnomes ran in packs across the Eastern Kingdoms, from the gnome starting zone to Booty Bay on the continent’s southern tip. A recent count shows that the event raised an astounding $16,000. And it’s not too late to donate.

Gnomes at starting gate1

I’ve been a gnome runner three times before, always fun, but never as meaningful as this time: my daughter-in-law was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and began chemo just last week. I was far from alone in feeling I had to do it, that I wanted to do it. During the run, I saw chat messages from other runners whose family members or friends were battling or had died from breast cancer.

Getting 7000 players to do one thing is an amazing feat. Kudos to the organizers! Also hats off to World of Warcraft for making the run an official event this year on its in-game calendar, for offering a quest (running through 34 checkered gates), and for decorating  with path markers and cheering crowds of NPC gnomes along the way. Fun!

Gnomestartinggate

On reaching the roof near the Booty Bay flight master, the runners were exuberant. All kinds of toys were pulled out, from rainbows and fireworks to fel effects and smoke bombs. In that mess, as festive as it was, there was no way we were going to arrange ourselves in the traditional heart. Someone suggested we make a heart in the water, which a number of us did.

Gnome waterheart3

All in all, an extraordinary event! Again, I offer my congratulations to the organizers. And I’m grateful to the thousands of the players who came to show their support for breast cancer research. 

Photo info: Gnomes at the starting gate; example of checkered gate and of purple circular path markers; heart that pink-haired gnomes made in the bay of Booty Bay; and an excited gnome NPC advertising the event in Dalaran (below).

ScreenShot-2017-Oct-14-945-PM

 

 

 

 

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