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Author 537755954_Inactive

Stories : Minim's Tale

World of Warcraft tale by 537755954_Inactive, 2006-03-23T18:18:00.0000000. Reads: 394
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The tale of a gnome who may one day aspire to join The Jade Fist

Chapter 1

    Crouching in the snow behind a small patch of shrubs, Minim desperately held his breath.  Either the sound of his pained gasping or the steam of his breath in the cold air could easily give him away to his pursuers, so he held it in until his lungs were burning.  He could hear a lot of crunching out in the clearing beyond his hiding spot that he hoped was just the trolls stomping about in the snow.  He had the nasty feeling however that it was the sound of the trolls tearing at the body of the unfortunate dwarven warrior who had charged into the trolls just as they were approaching Minim's hding place.  Minim had wanted to jump out and help his unknowing rescuer, but he knew he had no mana left to form spells with and he was so badly hurt from his initial fight with the trolls that he could not have survived even a glancing blow from one of them.  And so, he cowered, shivering in his hiding place, listening fearfully for any sounds that might suggest the trolls were coming closer.

    Eventually, the sounds of the trolls began to fade and Minim dared to hope that they had been distracted enough by the dwarf to forget about the little gnome they had been chasing earlier.  A few minutes after the grunting and crunching had stopped completely, Minim tentatively poked his head out through the bushes.  He let out a sigh of relief when he saw that the trolls were indeed gone.  There was no sign of them at all except for an angry splash of red glaring out from the snow about thirty feet from the bush.  Minim hastily averted his eyes and ducked his head back behind the bush.  He sighed again, this time with regret rather than relief.

    Noticing a log resting in the snow not far from where he was, Minim limped over to it.  He dusted off the covering of snow that lay on the log and sat down on it.

    "That's better than sitting in the snow now isn't it?"  he muttered to himself.

    Pulling his pack off his back, Minim opened it up and rummaged through it for a moment.  He took out a small bundle of dark green herbs and a leather water skin and then dropped his pack in the snow beside him.  He stared at them for a moment, pondering.

    "Herbs first" he said, pulling a face.  He hesitated again for a moment as if steeling himself and then took a big bite from the herbs.  Chewing them rapidly his face contorted into an expression of disgust.  When the dwarf had given him these herbs a few weeks ago in payment for a task Minim had done for him, he had only told the gnome that they would heal his wounds in a short period of time.  He had neglected to mention at the time that the herbs would taste so ghastly.  Mimin had spent some time considering the taste after the first time he had been forced to use the herbs and had decided that he couldn't decide what they tasted like.  There was nothing he could compare them to that could do justice to the taste.  In fact, the herbs had become Minim's standard of comparison from that point on.  Thus far nothing else he had tasted came close.

    Taste notwithstanding, Minim could not deny that they worked.  Soon he could feel the warmth creeping through him as the herbs' healing magic started to work on his battered body.  Almost instantly some of the pain started to fade away, and the smaller wounds started to heal up.  Knowing that he could now move on and leave the herbs to do their task, he opened up the leather water skin.  Closing his eyes for a moment he uttered a quiet mantra and entered the magic state that all spell casters had to master even before they studied their first spell.  All the spellcasting classes had their own variant of the ability, each with its own name and history, but the effect with all of them was the same.  It allowed the caster to convert ingested fluids into mana, replenishing used up stocks of the crucial spell fuel much faster than it would otherwise.  The spell state had another useful side effect, it used up the fluid completely, thus sparing the mage or priest the indignity of having to dash behind a bush every five minutes when engaged in an extended adventure.

    Feeling the familiar tingle that told him that he had entered the state fully, Minim tipped back the water skin and drained it almost dry, saving only a tiny amount for later.  Then he sat there feeling the strange almost nauseous feeling that always accompanied the conversion process.  Knowing that both the healing engendered by the herbs and the conversion of water to mana could both easily be disrupted but movement, he sat very still.  With nothing better to do for the moment, his mind drifted back over the events that had brought him to this turn.

Chapter 2

    It had all started of course with the disaster at Gnomeregan.  Minim had lived his entire life within the confines of the mighty gnomish city, never travelling further than the tiny dwarvish settlement of Brewnall and that only rarely.  Minim had had no real desire to travel or see the rest of the world, being content with his lot and all the turns of his life.  Like most gnomes, Minim had a fascination with engineering but unlike some it never consumed him.  All his life, engineering remained a hobby, something to while away spare hours.  Minim's great passion however, was music.  As one of only two apprentices to the great gnomish musician and instrumenteer Altoe Sakks, Minim had spent his days making either music or instruments, often losing himself in the heady joy of doing both at once.  Minim's life was a happy one and he had no desire to ever leave the safety of his home.

    Unfortunately, Minim like all the other gnomes of Gnomeregan was soon to have that choice taken away from him.  Mekgineer Thermaplugg, in an insane plan to wrest control of the city from High Tinker Mekkatorque made vile alliance with the foul Troggs that lurked in the shadows at the edges of many places in Dun Morogh, including caverns around and below Gnomeregan.  Emboldened by knowledge of how to circumvent some of Gnomeregans defences the Troggs swarmed into the city in vast numbers slaying and destroying as they went.  The gnome leader Mekkatorque, seeing the vast array of their foes already inside their walls and many of their defence mechanisms either avoided by the unexpectedly knowledgeable Troggs or mysteriously failing to function at all, knew that the city was in serious peril.  He also knew however, that outside the city the world of Azeroth was fighting for its very life.  All the forces of the Alliance were mustered against the great threat of the Burning Legion and Mekkatorque knew that even if aid could reach them it could only be at the cost of weakening the forces of the Alliance, possibly at the cost of the whole world.  And so, the gnomes elected to fight alone for the salvation of their home.

    Minim had been one of the lucky gnomes who had found a safe spot to hide from the initial waves of deadly fumes when Mekkatorque's desperate ploy of venting the city's radioactive waste tanks had failed so disastrously.  Not only had it killed a large number of gnomes, but it had not killed any Troggs at all.  In fact some of them seemed to grow stronger in the sickly green clouds of waste.  And then to make matters worse some of the gnomes that survived the initial disaster began to fall sick.  But this was a sickness of spirit and mind that eventually saw the unlucky gnomes go mad and become a mortal peril to their own kind.  These insane Leper Gnomes then made common cause with the Troggs, seeking to drive out or slay all those who were once their brethren.

    For long weeks the gnomes fought on.  Many fighting long slow desperate rearguard withdrawals while others, cut off and trapped alone or in small groups spent all their time hiding or running from the overwhelming Trogg forces.  Minim was one of the latter group and he and the small group he had met up with spent weeks living in constant terror, wondering if the next corner would reveal a force of Troggs or Leper Gnomes, or worse a lingering pocket of poisonous gas.  Every day was a frantic scuttling rush of trying to scavenge enough food to survive on, all the while trying to move closer to the great lift that would take them out of the great tomb that the city had become.  Most days saw them get no closer to the exit and some even saw them forced away from it by patrol or other menace, but slowly over the weeks they got closer and closer to the exit.

    Finally, the exit was in sight, there amidst the smoke and steam and weirdly lit by the remaining lights of the city.  Minim felt his spirit soar with anticipation.  Fresh air and freedom were close at hand!  Glancing around his companions he pointed silently to the ramp that led up towards their final goal.  There were only three of them now out of the group of seven that Minim had joined up with two weeks prior.  The other four had fallen to the various perils of the city.  Even now one of them, Chirruk was looking extremely unwell and Minim feared he had contracted the ailment that had taken so many others.  The other two, Narn and Crystel were well enough, although the pretty little blonde gnome Crystel spoke less and less as time went on and seemed to be carrying herself along on a growing wave of anger.  Minim supposed that none of the survivors would ever be again who they once were before the disaster, but for some reason the sight of Crystel, who should be full of light and laughter and happiness cut him the worst.  Her silent anger seemed to reflect to him the damage done to all the gnomes of Gnomeregan.

    His musings on his companions was cut short by a sharp cry from behind him.  Whirling around Minim saw a huge trogg looming up behind the group, it crude axe held aloft in victory and dripping with fresh blood.  Lying at the creature's feet was Narn, his face a deathly pale and his torso rent by a great and clearly fatal gash.  Moments later, the beast's roar of triumph washed over him and Minim turned and along with the other two gnomes, ran up the ramp with all the speed he could muster.  For a moment it seemed as if they would outpace the trogg and gain the escape they so desperately desired, but then suddenly there were more troggs ahead of them, looming out of the smoke.  Instinctively he stopped, starting to look around for a different avenue of escape to carry him past this latest threat.  No more than a brief moment of panicked seeking was granted him however, before a sudden vast blow lifted him from his feet and tumbled him past his companions to fetch up at the feet of one of the troggs.  Too stunned to even feel the pain of the blow that had struck him down, Minim could only lie there helplessly staring up at the hideous creature as it raised its axe high above its head.  Just as he was drawing in breath for a last despairing cry of outrage against the fate that seemed to be ordained for him, Minim's face was stung by sudden searing hear as a great ball of flame roared out of the smoke and crashed into the trogg's chest.

    It was difficult to tell who was the most stunned by the sudden turn of events, Minim or the trogg.  To make matters even more confusing, as the trogg was shaking its head trying to get its bearings after the sudden assault, a deep voice started yelling "Fish!  Fish!  Fish!"  and suddenly a large figure charged out of the smoke.  Clad all over in gleaming armor, the figure was not as large as the trogg, though considerably taller than a gnome.  Without a hint of hesitation he ran straight at the trogg and swung and immense hammer from over his shoulder, crashing it into the humanoid creatures chest, staggering it back several steps.  As the armored figure was drawing back his hammer for another swing the trogg seemed to gather itself.  It lashed out with its axe, smashing the cruel weapon into its attackers side, drawing a spurt of blood and an anguished cry.  A series of bright arrows of light came flying at the trogg from somewhere, blinding Minim almost as much as they obviously hurt their target.  Once again the trogg was sent reeling backwards.  Minim thought he detected a panicked look developing on the huge beast's face, when the hammer came swinging in again and bowled the trogg clean off its feet.

    The hammer wielder gave a bellow of victory and raced off in the direction of another trogg that was trying to get at Crystel, who had ducked into a small crack in the wall.  As Minim lay on the cold stone floor, shivering and trying to gather himself together enough to move, another figure emerged from the smoke and approached him.  Involuntarily he gasped, and the action sent sharp stabbing sheets of pain shooting through him.  The newcomer was tall, as tall as the figure in the armor had been, but far more slender and quite obviously female.  In a flash he knew, these were humans!   Minim had never seen a human before but on one of his rare visits to Brewnall, one of the dwarves there had described a human woman to him.  Suddenly Minim understood the strange note of thwarted longing that had crept into the dwarf's voice as he spoke.  Despite her unnatural height, the human woman was undoubtedly the most beautiful living creature he had ever seen.  For a moment Minim wondered if she were considered a great beauty among the humans, or if all human women were this beautiful.

    The woman crouched down beside Minim and examined him as she spoke, her voice a delicate musical tone that stood out amongst all the shouting and other harsh noises of the battle around them.

    "Do not worry my friend.  My name is Jenvieve, and I am a priest.  I will soon have these wounds healed.  And once Anthril and Avere finish playing with the Troggs we will see you safely out to the lift."  With that her brow creased in concentration as she began to mutter in a language Minim did not understand, but which brought a thrill of familiarity thrumming through his body.  A glow appeared around her hands and jumped down onto Minim and instantly he could feel the magic healing his wounds and numbing his pain.

    "Anthril?  Is he the one with the hammer?  Why was he shouting fish?"

    For a moment Jenvieve looked puzzled, then she burst out laughing.  "Not fish dear one, FIST.  We are part of a guild of adventurers called The Jade Fist."

    "Oh I see," said Minim with a nervous laugh, "The Jade Fist"

    The process of converting water to mana ended with a lurch of nausea that brought Minim out of his musings and back to the present.  Having turned all the liquid into mana, Minim found himself suddenly thirsty and raised the waterskin to his mouth once again and drained the last mouthful that he had saved for just this moment.  Returning the waterskin and the remaining herbs to his backpack, he swung the pack up into place on his back.

    With a nod of contentment at finding himself ready to set out once again.  Straightening his shoulders he looked about the clearing until he found the tracks of the trolls leaving the area.  Then with an note of determination in his voice he said  "The Jade Fist”, and set out on the trolls trail.

Chapter 3

    Minim's breath steamed in the air as he paused at the top of the stone stairs leading down into Anvilmar and stomped the snow off his boots.  Behind him a light dusting of snow was falling from the clouds that clung to the mountains bounding Coldridge Valley and with a feeling of relief Minim left the cold behind and descended the stairs.  At the bottom of the stairs the corridor divided into two branches that snaked around a great stone wall designed both to keep the worst of the weather from entering the great hall beyond as well as to foil the charge of any attacker.  Forced to slow down and negotiate the tight corners of the corridor, an attacker would find his initial rush blunted and with attacking troops forced to come through no more than one or two at a time, even a very small force of defenders could hold the entrance to the hall for a time.

    As he turned the last corner and entered the main hall of Anvilmar, Minim was struck by a wave of heat.  The heat generated by the fires and forges of Anvilmar was in stark contrast to the bitter cold outside and Minim found himself instantly breaking out in a sweat.  As he crossed the hall he threw back his cloak and removed his gloves to allow himself to cool slightly.  Looking around the hall for a moment, Minim frowned when he could not see the gnome he was looking for.  Stopping a passing dwarf he nodded in greeting before speaking.

    "Greetings.  Your pardon for the intrusion, but have you seen Felix Whindlebolt?  I need to speak with him."

    The dwarf glared out at Minim from behind his huge black beard for a moment before replying.

    "Aye, I seen 'im alright.  'E's wanderin' about on the other side of the hall.  Looked in a right lather too."

    "Thank you Master Dwarf."

    Minim picked his way carefully around the crowded hall.  As the main building of Coldridge Valley, Anvilmar was often bustling with activity.  In addition to being the main centre for incoming gnomish refugees, it was the main training hall for most of the residents of the Valley who chose to follow the adventurers path.  It was where Minim himself had come when he had decided that he needed to do something positive in the wake of the fall of Gnomeregan.  Many gnomes were taking that path now.  Bereft of a true home no matter how welcoming the dwarves tried to be, many gnomes were now taking up sword, dagger or staff in an attempt to find some useful place for themselves in their new world.

    As he approached the far side of the hall Minim caught sight of Felix, and as always the sight of him brought a small feeling of sorrow.  The gnomes of Coldridge, all of whom where refugees from Gnomeregan fell in to three main groups.  The first and largest group was those who were simply rebuilding their lives.  They took up for the most part with their trades and professions of old, built themselves new homes in Coldridge Valley or moved into Ironforge.  The second group, although smaller than the first was growing in size.  These gnomes were unable to properly come to terms with what had befallen them and felt tremendously driven to do something, to make things better somehow and to pursue justice.  Or revenge.  These were the gnomes who took up the way of warrior and mage and trod the adventuring path.  The last group was very small but still significant.  The gnomes in the last group were unable to take either path taken by the vast majority of their fellows.  In fact they were unable to do much of anything.  Paralysed by loss and fear they found themselves unable to even leave the safety of Anvilmar.  Felix was part of this last group, and try though he might not to, Minim couldn't help but pity him just a little.  Felix had lost everything, just as they all had.  But unlike the vast majority of gnomes, Felix and his ilk had found nothing but sorrow and fear to replace what they had lost.

    Minim hoped that the recovery of his tools, Felix might find a new thirst for life and set himself upon a new path.  Minim walked quickly across to where Felix was standing, staring at a couple of dwarves who were talking rapidly in their native tongue.

    "Felix, good to see you again."

    "Ah! Oh! ... M..M...Minim.  You are b..back..."  despite Minim's approach being soft, Felix had started like a rabbit and his nervous stutter had quickly asserted itself.

    "I am indeed back Felix, and I have your goods."

    "Oh!  That is good news M..Minim.  When I saw you were back so quickly I thought the news must be bad.  That you could not find my tools."

    "No Felix.  I had no problem finding your tools.  Collecting them from the trolls... that was a little problematic.  But in the end I got them all."

    With that, Minim swung his pack of his back and opening the top lifted out the goods that Felix had lost.  "Here you are Felix"

    "Oh t..thank you M..Minim.   I can't tell you how worried I have been that I might not see these again.  Now I believe I offered you a reward of 50 coppers for this task ...", Felix put his newly recovered goods on the floor at his feet and fumbled about in a pouch on his belt.  Minim's face tightened a little, but he said nothing.  He was pretty sure that the 50 coppers were more than Felix could really afford to part with, and yet to offer to do the work for free would probably hurt what little pride the gnome had left.  Minim quietly decided to accept the money and find some roundabout way of returning it to Felix later.

    With a quiet nod Minim accecpted the copper from the other gnome and moved off.  Now that he had completed the task he had promised to help Felix with he was free to visit Marryk again.  Marryk Nurribit was the gnome in Anvilmar who trained those who showed aptitude for the shaping of magic.  Marryk had trained Minim when he had finally come to realise that this was his path, and Minim held him in high regard.  While out recovering the Felix's tools and culling down the troll whelp population for Grelin Whitebeard, Minim had had what Marryk had described to him as "one of those rare moments of Arcane Inspiration".  He had just finished off the last Troll Whelp guarding Felix's Bucket of Bolts when it had happened.  As the last Arcane Missile had struck and the Troll fell to the ground, Mimim had felt a sudden exhilerating wave of inspiration and understanding wash over him.  In that moment he suddenly saw the magic more clearly and understood that there was more potential in it than he had previously seen.  Now he could not wait to see Marryk again and talk to him about it.  Only once before this had happened to Minim and that was when Marryk had explained it to him.

    "There will be moments like this Minim my lad," Marryk had said, "moments that only come from using the magic, gaining experience in its wonders when suddenly you will be struck by a moment of Arcane Inspiration.  You will be happily using the magic as you always have and suddenly, ding!  It is like someone shines a light on a piece of your mind that was in darkness and all of a sudden you can see the magic more clearly.  After a moment like that you will find you may well be able to learn a new or better way to work the magic.  Treasure those moments Minim, for they are rare.  Even the mightiest mages in Azeroth don't experience them much more than a couple of dozen times in their lifetimes."

    And now, Minim had had another such moment, and he was keen to share it with his teacher.  And perhaps learn some new magic from him.

    Minim made his way down the stairs to the rear area of Anvilmar where Marryk usually conducted his business.  Being a little further away from the hustle and bustle of the main hall suited Marryk and his teachings well.  Minim sighed with relief as some of the noise of the hall abated as he walked down the final flight of stairs.  The dwarves were kind and generous at heart for all their bluff and bluster, but they were inured to the noise of hammering and other metalworking in a way that Minim found hard to cope with.  Although the gnomes themselves were miners and workers of metal they did not keep at it constantly day and night the way the dwarves seemed to.  Minim found the quiet as welcoming as the sight of his teacher.

    As he approached however, Minim slowed.  Something was not right.  Minim did not need to see the tight, strained look on Marryk's face to know that something was amiss.  He feel it.  Resonating through bone and through blood.  A feeling of wrongness.  A jarring sense of magic twisted black and repugnant that grated across his freshly enhanced senses.  Even though he had never sensed it himself before, he knew from Marryk's tales that it could be one thing.  As he got close enough to tell that the ill feeling was coming from the balconied area above he knew that this feeling could only come from the depraved workings of an adherent of magics twisted shadow sibling.

    The Warlock.

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