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Stamp been busy in Saru Steelfury's forge. Stamp make lots of hit-and-hits for Thrall army to use against twitchy-buzzy bugs in Silithus. But Stamp take time here and there to talk to Stamp friend Gizmik Fazzle.
Gizmik take time off from scorekeeping in Shimmering Flats to visit orcie town of Orgrimmar. Gizmik say Gizmik need vacation after twitchy-buzzy bugs snatch Gizmik and then shrieky-shouty mobster try to kill Gizmik.
Stamp scratch snout. "Gizmik on vacation or Gizmik in hiding?"
Gizmik peer at Stamp. "Does it really matter?"
Stamp shrug. "Stamp think it matter if Stamp need to be ready for another ambush. Stamp not like surprises."
"Fah!" Gizmik say. "Stamp, surprises are what keep life interesting."
Master Saru wander in, rubbing forehead with palm. "There's a Tauren female out here who wants to see you, Stamp. Says you're the father of her child."
Stamp narrow eyes at Saru, then look over at Gizmik. Gizmik bust out laughing. "See?!"
Stamp stomp out to front of shop.
Stamp know it only take a few seconds to get there, but for Stamp it feel like it take forever and not long enough, if that make any sense.
Stamp think and think and think and think. Stamp not remember ever being with a female in a way that would make a baby Tauren. Stamp think Gizmik stop looking at Stamp like that. Stamp think Gizmik stop laughing! Stamp never use Stamp fame to get girls. Aye, Stamp like Mottle, maybe a lot, but Stamp not done ... well, that. Stamp just got so much else to do. So, Stamp walk and walk and think and think but Stamp not know when Stamp might have made a baby Tauren.
Then Stamp think: Maybe Overlord Stamp. Or greedy Stamp. Or whacked-out-drunk Stamp. And then Stamp think what Stamp would think if Stamp had baby and baby father told Stamp that father not father of Stamp baby, but that father was father look-alike who got hit and hit and hit and hit. Stamp think Stamp not believe it, either. Stamp twitch. Stamp think Stamp father Echo probably still deny Stamp is Echo offspring too. Stamp sigh and think maybe Stamp could see Stamp baby, after all.
"Special delivery for Stamp Bloodhoof," the Tauren female in the shop say to Stamp as Stamp walk in.
Stamp stop. Stamp blink. Stamp see Tauren female not holding Stamp baby. Stamp see Tauren female holding paper-wrapped bundle. Stamp turn and see Gizmik and Master Saru peeking out from the forge. Stamp see them cackle. Stamp sigh and shake head and look back at courier. "Stamp," Stamp say, holding out hands to take the package. Courier give package to Stamp and then courier smile at Stamp and leave.
"Priceless!" Gizmik shout. "ABSOLUTELY PRICELESS! The look on your face! HA!" Shrieky-shouty gobble fall over on floor, snickering.
Stamp peer at Master Saru. "Stamp surprised Master Saru in on joke."
"You think I lack a sense of humor?" Saru ask.
Stamp shrug. "Stamp think pretty mean joke."
Saru grin and pat Stamp on shoulder. "You'll live, Tauren. Now open the package and let's see what you really got."
Stamp open and Stamp see it cloak from Stamp friends. Special cloak. Shiny and tough. Onyxia! An Onyxia cloak!
"Formidable," Saru say. "Impressive handiwork."
Stamp amazed. Stamp grateful to Stamp friends in Storm Earth and Fire and Dissonance. Stamp so happy Stamp forget about bad joke. For now.
Stamp get mostly caught up on Stamp work for Saru Steelfury. Stamp turn in last load of hit-and-hits for the day and then Stamp say: "Stamp gotta go. Stamp gotta go to Eastern Kingdoms to hit and hit and hit and hit clacky-growly skellies and shrieky-howly banshees. Stamp gotta do this for Argent Dawn. Stamp gotta get special enchant for Stamp shoulder plates."
"Still after that fire resistance, eh?" Master Saru ask. Stamp nod. Master Saru narrow his eyes and twist his mouth a little. "You really worry about it, don't you? That you won't have enough, things will go wrong ..."
"People die," Stamp finish. Stamp nod. "Aye, Stamp worry. Stamp not want to be reason Stamp friends suffer. Stamp want to be strong for Stamp friends."
Saru grunt. "Something you need to learn sooner or later, Stamp: Everybody makes mistakes. Things go wrong. It happens. Like Sulfuron. Remember that time?"
Stamp remember. Stamp go to battle in Molten Core and Stamp get told for first time to fight hissy-slithery Sulfuron healer on own. Stamp get confused about where Stamp supposed to go. Stamp friend Ralnar fall. Then Stamp fall. Then all Stamp other friends fall and fall and fall and fall and...
"Get past it," Master Saru say. "You beat Rend. You beat Shazzrah and Garr and Geddon and, hells and red sands, Stamp, you beat Domo too! You even beat Onyxia!"
"Stamp not do any of that alone," Stamp say. Stamp sometimes think Stamp just lucky when things go right.
"No," Saru agree. "You had help. Lots of it. But don't let one mishap wreck your confidence. Unless you talk to one of my daughters about anything other than business." Saru knit brow. "You know what happens then, right?"
Stamp laugh. "Aye, Stamp think Master Saru wreck Stamp confidence ... and everything else Master Saru can wreck."
"Right," Saru chortled. "Go on, then. Take out your frustrations on those undead monstrosities."
Stamp nod. Stamp walk out of Master Saru shop in orcie town of Orgrimmar. Stamp fetch Glowyeyes. Stamp ride and ride and ride through town until Stamp hear:
Stamp recognize voice. It Stamp not-deader rogue clan friend Malicemaker. Stamp stop and turn Glowyeyes to face Malicemaker.
"We venture once more into the Molten Core," Malicemaker tell Stamp. "We go after Ragnaros. Will you join the fight?"
Stamp think. Stamp sigh. Stamp say, "Stamp think Malicemaker nice for asking, but Stamp know Stamp not very good tank and Stamp not got best fire resistance. Stamp burn and burn and burn and burn more than Stamp friends. Stamp know Stamp mostly good for hit and hit and hit, and Stamp okay with that."
"So, you do not wish to come?" Malicemaker ask.
Stamp scratch snout. "Stamp not not wish to come. Stamp just ... well, Stamp not want to be liability. Stamp want to do good. Stamp ..."
"So, you wish to come?" Malicemaker ask.
If Stamp say no, Stamp can go to Plaguelands and hit and hit and hit and hit skellies and make Argent Dawn happy and maybe get more no-burn on Stamp shoulder plates. But Stamp think Stamp might let Stamp friends down by *not* going. Maybe Stamp hit and hit just what group need to win! If Stamp not there and Stamp friends fall to Ragnaros, Stamp always gonna wonder ...
"Aye," Stamp say. "Stamp go. Stamp hit."
In the end, Stamp really not got to worry so much.
Stamp and Stamp friends got Hakkar blessing in screechy-steamy Stranglethorn Vale and Onyxia blessing in orcie town of Orgrimmar. Stamp drink fire protection potion. Stamp wear Onyxia cloak and all Stamp other burn-and-burn gear.
Then Stamp and Stamp friends go back into Molten Core. Stamp and Stamp friends go down and down and down and down until find Majordomo Executus. Stamp friends talk to Majordomo. Majordomo next to lava pit. Majordomo summon burny-swirly Ragnaros! Burny-swirly Ragnaros very, very, very big. Stamp big, but burny-swirly Ragnaros make Stamp look like Stamp doll ... not the purple dress pukey doll, but the armored doll.
Stamp friend Zugdar tell Stamp what to do. Stamp friend Zugdar tell Stamp to hit and hit and hit and hit and hit burny-swirly Ragnaros, but back up a ways sometimes to avoid blast back. Stamp do this. Burny-swirly Ragnaros call on burny-roary sons. Stamp and Stamp friends put out fires. Then Stamp run back to burny-swirly Ragnaros. Stamp and Stamp friends hit and hit and zap and zap and slice and slice until burny-swirly Ragnaros fall!
Stamp not mess up! Stamp and Stamp friends not fall!
Stamp not grumpy. Stamp proud.
Stamp clan friend not-deader warlock Hystabbia tell Stamp need help to get and get and get more coins for up-sky moonie festival.
Stamp not really been into the whole coin thing, but Stamp not got much else to do just then, so Stamp tell Stamp clan friend not-deader warlock Hystabbia that Stamp be glad to help. Stamp clan friend Hystabbia bring Hystabbia friend Jinlen and Stamp clan friend Bura.
Stamp clan friends need coins from two dangerous places: Burny-ashy Lower Blackrock Spire and burny-ashy Blackrock Depths.
First, Stamp meet Stamp friends outside swirly-whooshy portal to the Spire in Blackrock Mountain. Stamp and Stamp friends hit and hit and hit and hit grumbly-poundy orcie hitters and clothies.
Then Stamp and Stamp friends jump down from broken ledge to hit and hit and hit and hit more orcies and wolfies. This very close fight. Stamp nearly fall, but Stamp clan friend Bura keep Stamp standing. Stamp not grumpy! Then Stamp and Stamp friends hit and hit and hit other orcies and wolfies. Then Stamp and Stamp friends fight orcies on bridge. And then Stamp and Stamp friends find dorfie elder in moonbeam. Stamp and Stamp friends get coin.
Stamp clan friend Hystabbia tell Stamp that next Stamp and Stamp friends go down and down and down and down to burny-ashy Blackrock Depths.
"Get naked," Stamp clan friend Hystabbia tell Stamp and Jinlen and Bura when Stamp and Stamp friends go through swirly-whooshy portal into the Depths. Stamp kinda look at Hystabbia funny. "Just do it. We're gonna get banged up doing this. Save some money on repairs."
Stamp sigh. Stamp take off Stamp shield and Stamp shoulders and Stamp chestplate and Stamp boots and Stamp legplates and Stamp gloves and Stamp bracers and Stamp helmet and Stamp belt and Stamp slice and slice and Stamp chop and chop and Stamp hit and hit and Stamp stab and stab and Stamp other slice and slice and Stamp shoot and shoot and then Stamp left wearing Stamp clothie tabard and shirt.
Naked Stamp and Stamp naked friends run through Depths, sneak along walls past growly-clawy hounds and growly-poundy dorfies and then turn left into corridor that go to arena. Dorfies yell at Stamp clan friend Hystabbia and chase and chase! Stamp get coin from elder in arena moonbeam and run out. Stamp clan friend Hystabbia fall. Stamp wait for Stamp friends to talk to spirit healer and then meet Stamp back in Depths.
This time, Stamp try something different. While Stamp and Stamp friends turn left, Stamp taunt angry dorfies and keep angry dorfies busy while Stamp clan friend Hystabbia keep on run and run and run to arena to get coin. It work! But Stamp got no armor and stupid shouty dorfies hit and hit and hit and hit and hit Stamp until Stamp fall.
Stamp not grumpy, though. Stamp friends got coins. Stamp glad to help!
Pretty soon, Stamp supposed to help Stamp friends in Blackwing Lair. Stamp and Stamp friends fight Razorgore. Stamp still need not-burniness, though. Stamp get kinda cooked in fiery fights, and Stamp get kinda tired of charbroiled beef jokes. So, Stamp been in Eastern Plaguelands lately. Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit clacky-growly skellies and shrieky-slashy ghouls and shouty-waily banshees to get special stones for Argent Dawn.
Argent Dawn like Stamp a lot. But Argent Dawn want Stamp to hit and hit and hit enough skellies to get ten tokens so that Stamp can get a not-burniness spell put on Stamp shoulders.
Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit lots of not-deaders in the misty Plaguelands. Stamp collect lots of special stones. Stamp *finally* got ten tokens! So, Stamp ride wind back to not-deader Undercity and then Stamp ride Glowyeyes from Undercity to the Bulwark. Stamp talk to raspy blue Argent Dawn troll about shoulder not-burniness. Raspy blue Argent Dawn troll tell Stamp thanks for tokens, we give Stamp shoulder not-burniness now ... IF STAMP PAY NINE GOLD!!!!!!
Stamp barely able to see straight just then, Stamp so mad. Stamp work and work and work and work for Argent Dawn! Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit *for them*! Now Argent Dawn want Stamp MONEY too?! Stamp think Argent Dawn just lost lots of reputation points with Stamp faction! NINE GOLD! The not-burniness not even THAT great!
Stamp know every little bit of not-burniness count, and Stamp know not-burniness gonna help Stamp some in Blackwing Lair, but Stamp also know Stamp need gold to fix armor after Stamp hit and hit and hit things for Argent Dawn and everybody else that wants Stamp to hit and hit and hit things! Stamp not like being ripped off! Stamp hate when people take advantage of Stamp!
Still, Stamp pay raspy blue Argent Dawn troll nine gold. Stamp get not-burniness on shoulders.
But Stamp grumpy.
Stamp crouch outside nelfie village of Astranaar, next to tree on lakeshore, about as not-seeable as a giant armored boulder can be. Stamp just gotta go a few feet to gazebo with elder in moonbeam. Stamp gotta talk to elder to get ancestor's coin!
Stamp stomp sneakily, but not sneakily enough. While Stamp talk to elder and get coin, floppy-eared purple nelfie guard run over and hit and hit Stamp! Stamp just want coin! Stamp not want trouble! But Stamp got trouble. Stamp sigh. Stamp jump in water and swim away. Floppy-eared purple nelfie guard not follow for long.
Stamp find Glowyeyes in Ashenvale woods. Stamp ride north toward Auberdine. Stamp find elder near town, not far from beach. Stamp get coin!
Stamp go back to Eastern Kingdoms, across the sea. Stamp get coin from elder on top of shouty-poundy ogre mountain and the crumbled cave in ashy-burny land of the Blackrock. Then Stamp ride through Redridge and over to Goldshire, where the faire's all set up. Stamp talk to elder in Goldshire. Stamp get coin!
And then elder tell Stamp about two more coins, in Stormwind and Ironforge.
Stamp grunt. Stormwind and Ironforge not easy for most to sneak into, let alone a big, stompy Tauren warrior in clanky armor! But Stamp clan friend Reia tell Stamp to wait. Stamp clan friend Reia got plan. Stamp clan friend Reia ride into Stormwind with Stamp and let grumpy-growly guards hit and hit and hit Reia while Stamp ride and ride and ride all the way to the park, deep inside the fortified city. Then Stamp gotta take the tram to Ironforge. Stamp never been on tram before!
"You may not like where it ends up," Reia tell Stamp.
"Why?" Stamp ask.
Reia chuckle. "It drops you off in Tinker Town. The gnome king himself is there!"
Stamp twitch. Stamp gotta go through the seat of power for squeaky-wobbly gnomes to get coin in Ironforge?! Stamp almost call it off right then. But the coins ... the coins are so shiny, and Stamp only got a few left to get. Stamp gonna ride through quick-like anyway, right?
Stamp and Stamp clan friend Reia meet outside gates of Stormwind. "Ready?" Reia ask.
Stamp ride Glowyeyes after Reia, through Stormwind city gates, past grumpy-growly guards that chase Stamp and Stamp clan friend Reia. Stamp clan friend Reia keep guards busy while Stamp ride and ride and ride along canals and down tunnels and over bridges until Stamp get to park. Stamp hear some people cheer for Stamp as Stamp get coin from elder in moonbeam. Stamp want to stop and wave, but Stamp got no time. Stamp got guards that want to hit and hit and hit Stamp! So, Stamp prod Glowyeyes and ride and ride and ride fast as Stamp can to dorfie district. Stamp find entrance to tram and gallop past hummy rogue.
Stamp go over to a far corner of tram station to wait for Stamp clan friend Reia. Stamp sit. Stamp not look to fight. Stamp just want to get coin and go. Hummy rogue come over and poke Stamp with sharp knife. Stamp not fight. Stamp sit. Hummy rogue and Stamp alone, for now. Hummy rogue leave Stamp be; Stamp leave hummy rogue be.
But then more Alliance show up. Hummy rogue got numbers on hummy rogue side now, so hummy rogue come over and poke Stamp with sharp knife again and again and again and ... well, Stamp not just gonna sit there and take it, right? Stamp get up, Stamp draw sword and Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit hummy rogue. Other Alliance not help hummy rogue. Stamp think other Alliance see Stamp not want to fight and only fight to defend Stamp. Stamp not want trouble. But hummy rogue dead, so Stamp got no choice. Stamp can't wait for Stamp clan friend Reia. Stamp jump on next tram and ride to Ironforge.
Stamp wish Stamp had chance to enjoy the ride. Stamp just worry about getting to Ironforge and getting that coin and getting out!
Stamp get off tram and hear tinkly-clinkly noise from Tinker Town. Stamp see squeaky-wobbly gnomes all over the place. Stamp growl. But Stamp know Stamp got to hurry. Stamp ride Gloweyes down tunnel and turn sharp right. Stamp ride and ride and ride past grumpy-poundy dorfie guards. Stamp ride and ride through cavern with little lake. And then Stamp find elder in moonbeam near shimmery pool. Stamp get coin!
Stamp ride and ride and ride through Ironforge and out of big gates, past giant dorfie statue. Stamp laugh a little at how big dorfie statue is. Stamp think no matter how big a statue gets, it not make the dorfies any bigger. Glowyeyes gallop past bunch of hummies and nelfies and dorfies and gnomes hit-and-hitting each other for fun and practice outside Ironforge. Stamp ride and ride and ride down road toward Kharanos.
Stamp made it! Stamp went through Stormwind and Ironforge and barely got armor dented! Stamp got coins! Stamp --
- FOOMP!* Stamp turn into sheep! Hummy mage zap and zap and freeze and freeze Stamp until Stamp fall.
Stamp sigh. Stamp *hate* sheepies!
But, Stamp got ancestor's coins! Now all Stamp gotta do is find Stamp way onto big Teldrassil tree for floppy-eared purple nelfie coins.
Hit and hit keep happening in Arathi Basin. Stamp sometimes think that fight never gonna end.
Stamp clan leader Kadingo find Stamp outside Saru Steelfury forge in orcie town of Orgrimmar. Stamp clan leader Kadingo ask Stamp if Stamp help take and hold the basin. Stamp scratch snout. Stamp really need to work on hit and hits for Thrall and war effort against buzzy-clawy bugs. Stamp *thought* Horde supposed to work *with* Alliance.
"Not everyone gets wit dat program," Kadingo say with a sigh.
Stamp ponder. Stamp got shiny new axe from Zul'Gurub. Stamp want to try it out with slashy claw. "Stamp go! Stamp hit!"
Stamp and Stamp friends from clans Storm Earth and Fire and Dissonance go across the great sea to Arathi Basin near orcie camp of Hammerfall. Stamp ride Glowyeyes down slope to farm. Stamp claim farm for Stamp friends and then Stamp help Stamp friends take blacksmith. Then skirmish defense leader tell Stamp to stay with some others at crossroads between farm, blacksmith and lumber mill. Stamp and Stamp friends at crossroads go where leader say when leader say until leader say stay somewhere new or go back to crossroads.
Stamp and Stamp friends at crossroads defend farm from Alliance pallies and clothies and shouty warriors. Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit and hit with claw and axe. Stamp and Stamp friends at crossroads defend mill from Alliance pallies and clothies and shouty warriors. Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit and hit with claw and axe. Then skirmish leader tell Stamp go take mine. Stamp go! Stamp capture mine for Stamp friends! Then skirmish leader tell Stamp and Stamp clan leader Kadingo to stay at mine.
Stamp clan leader Kadingo brush dust off his dress and drop a bindy-holdy totem. Stamp clan leader Kadingo yawn and say, "Wake me up if anythin' interestin' happens!"
Stamp chuckle. Stamp look at Stamp claw and axe. Stamp not too pleased with how well they hit and hit and hit in these skirmishes. Stamp put them back in Stamp bag. Stamp take out huge Stamp sword. Stamp much better with swords, anyway. Stamp turn just in time to see ... "Trouble coming." Kadingo get up and see one, two, three, four, five Alliance pallies and clothies and shouty warriors running down hill into mine area.
Stamp and Stamp clan leader Kadingo hit and hit and hit and hit ... Kadingo hit hard, even though Dingo wear a dress ... but Alliance numbers too great. Mine gonna fall! Except, no, crossroads Horde pack come galloping in to help Stamp and Stamp clan leader Kadingo hold the mine! Stamp cheer! Alliance pallies and clothies and shouty warriors run away! Crossroads Horde pack head off to defend somewhere else. Stamp and Dingo alone again.
Stamp clan leader Kadingo lay down for another nap. Stamp clean blood off Stamp sword. Everything quiet for a bit. Then Stamp see Alliance clothie mage at top of hill. Clothie mage all alone. Clothie mage start coming down hill. Stamp chuckle. Stamp draw back sword and watch and wait, ready to charge. Alliance clothie mage see Stamp do this. Alliance clothie mage start shuffling backward up hill, away from Stamp. Alliance clothie mage not see Hordeling on wolfback at top of hill, waiting. Stamp and Dingo laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh as Alliance clothie mage get surprise hit and hit and hit and hit from behind.
Horde holds onto Arathi Basin. Stamp not grumpy! Stamp proud.
Stamp ride Glowyeyes from Crossroads south on the Gold Road. Stamp wave to orcie guard on hill by Camp Taurajo and then ride Glowyeyes west into Mulgore.
Stamp enjoy the smell of morning on the Barrens where Stamp grew up, but the smell always seem sweeter in Mulgore's rolling green hills.
Stamp make decision. Stamp gonna tell Mottle that Stamp like Mottle. Stamp got flowers and some chocolates. Stamp not grumpy! Stamp very nervous, though. Stamp not very good at this kind of thing. Stamp kinda clumsy. Stamp think Mottle might laugh or tell Stamp that Mottle not interested. But Stamp face many challenges even if Stamp not always win. Stamp think more important to confront challenge than to win. So, Stamp do this.
Stamp been riding all day and all night.
Stamp salute guard at Bloodhoof Village and then ride Glowyeyes toward Thunder Bluff, the rising sun behind Stamp.
Soon, Stamp see something wrong. Stamp see smoke puff and puff from top of Thunder Bluff. Stamp see bluff watchers ... weeping.
"What happen?" Stamp ask.
"Barbarians of the Alliance," one watcher tell Stamp. She look battered and bruised and bloody and tired. "They swarmed on Thunder Bluff in the dark of night. We tried to defend him..."
Stamp not need to ask who. Stamp know. Stamp know. Alliance hit and hit and hit and hit Cairne Bloodhoof! Nelfs and gnomes and hummies and dorfies hit and hit and hit one of the Horde's wisest and gentlest leaders. They hit and hit and hit and hit a Tauren who was more a father to Stamp than Stamp's own father ever was.
"Cairne dead?" Stamp ask.
"Oh, no, not dead," watcher tell Stamp. "He came very close, but our healers brought him back from the brink."
Stamp breathe and breathe in relief. Stamp still angry and confused why anyone want to kill Cairne in a sneak attack of such large numbers, but Stamp at least glad Cairne not dead.
Stamp hitch Glowyeyes. Stamp take flowers and box of chocolates from saddlebag. Stamp ponder. Stamp think maybe this not the best time ... but Stamp not know when another good time going to be, so Stamp might as well go for it. Stamp ride lift to upper bluff.
Stamp see crowd around Cairne's tent. Stamp want to pay respects, but Stamp know healers too busy treating Cairne to let Cairne be bothered by Stamp. Stamp see Stamp sister Raysha! Stamp sister Raysha got arm in sling. Stamp sister Sarya look battered and angry and sad.
"Stamp just heard," Stamp say. "Stamp glad Cairne not dead."
Raysha look at Stamp. Sarya see flowers and candy. "Oh, Stamp..." Raysha sniffle. "I tried. There were so many of them."
Stamp tilt snout. "Stamp think Stamp sister Raysha do just fine. Cairne gonna live."
"I'm not talking about Cairne," Raysha tell Stamp. Stamp sister Raysha put hand on Stamp shoulder. "Mottle fought well. She fought bravely and with honor. Cairne had just taken her on as one of his personal guards."
Stamp blink. "No." Stamp look at flowers and candy. Stamp look back at Raysha. "Stamp brought these! Stamp gotta give them to Mottle! Stamp gotta tell her ..."
Raysha just shake Raysha's head and wipe away tears. "I'm sorry."
Stamp drop candy and flowers on ground. Stamp angry. Stamp very angry. Stamp stomp toward lift.
"Where are you going, Stamp?" Stamp sister Raysha ask.
"Stamp gotta talk to Gizmik," Stamp growl. "Stamp gonna find out who did this. And then Stamp gonna deal with them."
Stamp sit in tent on Thunder Bluff, next to cot where Tauren leader Cairne Bloodhoof lie, attended by shamen and druids. Wind whistle faintly through tears in the hide where Alliance arrows flew and flew to hit Cairne.
"It was kind of you to visit," Cairne tell Stamp.
"People keep saying Cairne dead," Stamp say. Stamp scratch snout. "Stamp see Cairne. Stamp hear Cairne. Stamp not think Stamp crazy."
"No, I am not dead, it is true," Cairne say. "You have not succumbed to any madness ... yet. But I sense you are troubled by this beyond my own injuries. I sense that you are bent on vengeance."
Stamp quiet for a moment, but then Stamp say. "Hummies and nelfs and dorfies and squeaky-wobbly gnomes hit and hit and hit and hit Stamp friend Mottle."
"Ah." Cairne nod and then Cairne say, "I cannot sanction vengeance, Stamp. Not in my name and certainly not in hers."
"Stamp not want vengeance," Stamp tell Cairne. "Stamp want justice."
"How do you propose to get that justice, precisely?"
"Gizmik tell Stamp names of Alliance groups that did this," Stamp say. "Stamp find them. Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit and ..."
"And what? How many more must die until you feel that you have gotten justice for Mottle? Justice for me? How much blood must be spilled? And how will you be sure that you are striking at those who perpetrated the attack rather than hurting those who are merely associates?"
Stamp clack Stamp teeth together. Stamp grunt. "Stamp not know. Stamp ..." Stamp voice trail off.
Cairne raise hand slightly above cot. "You will accomplish nothing by seeking justice or vengeance or whatever else you would call it. The attack was despicable and it jeopardizes all we have worked for in our coalition against the Silithids, yes. But to answer madness with madness is to invite chaos, and that is to invite victory for the Silithids."
Stamp frown. "But many Horde want to strike back in your name."
"I can only hope that wisdom will prevail," Cairne say. Cairne lower hand and then ask, "Has it, with you?"
"Stamp not know," Stamp say. "Stamp used to like some in the Alliance. Stamp trusted some. Now, Stamp angry and hurt and not want to trust. Stamp not want to help. Stamp want to let hummies and nelfs and dorfies suffer when Stamp see them losing a fight in Plaguelands. Stamp not want to help them now."
"I will not order you to behave one way or another," Cairne tell Stamp. "We must all choose our own path. But I would counsel this much: Do not let this singular incident change your fundamental self. If you betray that spirit within you, the spirit that has made you who and what you are, then you truly allow those ambushers a victory that my true death could never exceed."
Stamp nod. "Stamp think about this."
"Good," Cairne say. "Now, leave me. I need rest."
Stamp manage a smile. Stamp nod to healers. Then Stamp step outside into cool breeze atop Thunder Bluff. Stamp walk to edge and look down over Mulgore. Stamp look east, toward the sea and the realms beyond.
Stamp want to be wise and calm like Cairne. But Stamp not sure Stamp can just put aside anger and forget. Stamp know Stamp not forgive. How can Stamp not change after this?
Stamp sit. Stamp think. Stamp wait.
Stamp ride Glowyeyes through swirly, snowy Alterac Valley. Glowyeyes growl and gnash fangs and leap over log as Stamp follow many Stamp friends onto road toward Stormpike bunker.
Stamp get closer and Stamp see Alliance hummies and nelfs and dorfies and squeaky-wobbly gnomes. Stamp nudge Glowyeyes off onto side of road while Stamp peer at clothie tabards worn by Alliance. Stamp see familiar sigils. Stamp nod snout slowly. Some of these Stormpike defenders, Stamp see, come from clans that hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit Cairne Bloodhoof and Stamp friend Mottle.
Stamp promise Cairne that Stamp not seek vengeance, even though many people Stamp know make plans to hit and hit and hit and hit Alliance leaders in retribution. Stamp know Mottle not come back, even if Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit and hit everyone who hit and hit and hit Mottle. But Stamp see those tabards now and Stamp think maybe Stamp get a little revenge just the same.
Stamp jump off Glowyeyes and draw Stamp big obsidian blade. Stamp charge at shouty-growly clothie dorfie and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit. Stamp and Stamp friends cut through defenders. Stamp and Stamp friends hit and hit and hit and hit until take bunker and burn it down. Alliance hummies and nelfs and dorfies and squeaky-wobbly gnomes fall back to defend another position.
Stamp and Stamp friends press the attack. Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit hummies and nelfs and dorfies and squeaky-wobbly gnomes. Stamp and Stamp friends keep pushing Alliance back. Stamp and Stamp friends take graveyards and bunkers and mines and call in reavers and riders.
Stamp and Stamp friends have hardest time taking last graveyard, right before bridge to last bunkers … but Stamp and Stamp friends keep hit and hit and hit and hit and hit on hummies and nelfs and dorfies and squeaky-wobbly gnomes until they gotta fall back over bridge to last positions.
Stamp ready for last push. Stamp jump on Glowyeyes and look around as Horde forces gather. Stamp hear someone yell: “FOR CAIRNE!” Someone else yell: “FOR THE HORDE!” Stamp jab big obsidian blade in the air and yell: “FOR MOTTLE!” And then Stamp and Stamp friends charge over the bridge and into the battered Alliance vanguard. Stamp and Stamp friends hit and hit and hit and hit and hit hummies and nelfs and dorfies and squeaky-wobbly gnomes. Stamp and Stamp friends destroy the last bunkers.
Then Stamp and Stamp friends swarm into the last bastion and attack dorfie Stormpike general. Stamp and Stamp friends hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit general until general fall.
Stamp and Stamp friends win. Alterac Valley secure for the Frostwolf. And Stamp walk around, poke at corpses wearing ambusher tabards. Stamp satisfied. Stamp think this enough … for now.
Stamp friend Sklore come to Stamp one day and ask Stamp to come to shady-woodsy Dire Maul in Feralas. Stamp not been to that place in a long time and Stamp want to help Stamp friend Sklore find book Stamp friend Sklore want to find, so Stamp say sure.
Stamp ride wind from Thunder Bluff to Camp Mojache. Stamp ride Glowyeyes through wilderness to Dire Maul. Stamp get a little lost looking for Stamp friend Sklore and Stamp friend Sklore friends. Stamp ride and ride and ride around the Broken Commons. Stamp peek in doors and archways and behind pillars and up ramps and...then Stamp friend Sklore show up and lead Stamp to the right tunnel.
Stamp and Stamp friend Sklore and Stamp friend Sklore friends go through shady-woodsy Dire Maul and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit lots of things. Stamp not think Stamp friend Sklore find book Stamp friend Sklore want to find, but Stamp find book about slaying dragons. Stamp seen books like this for sale in the auction house for lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of gold.
Stamp and Stamp friend Sklore and Stamp friend Sklore friends go to library in shady-woodsy Dire Maul. Stamp talk to nelf in library. Nelf take book and give Stamp old sword. Stamp peer at sword. Stamp not think it very sharp. Stamp think it look crafted well, but way past its time now. Stamp peer at nelf. Stamp think maybe nelf try to fool Stamp. Stamp growl. Stamp could have made lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of gold selling that book. Now Stamp just got a stupid, dull slab of metal.
But then nelf tell Stamp that if Stamp let roary-burny Onyxia dragon breathe on blade and then Stamp stab sword into roary-burny Onyxia corpse, then Stamp gonna have one of the best slice-and-slice swords in the world.
Stamp slow to hear the bit about the sword, though. Stamp still stuck back on one thing. Stamp look from nelf to Sklore and back to nelf again: "Onyxia still alive?"
Stamp ride wind from Camp Mojache toward the Barrens, on the way to Brackenwall Village. Stamp and Stamp friends gonna go back to Onyxia’s lair in the Wyrmbog and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit burny-roary Onyxia … again.
Stamp and Stamp friends hit and hit and hit and hit burny-roary Onyxia before. Stamp thought burny-roary Onyxia dead. But nelf just sort of laugh at Stamp when Stamp say this and then tell Stamp that Stamp and Stamp friends maybe kill one manifestation of burny-roary Onyxia, but Onyxia herself is immortal. Nelf say it not easy to kill an immortal *forever*.
“Joo been dead before too, remembah, mon?” Stamp clan leader Kadingo say to Stamp. “Joo came back from it! Joo gotta know Onyxia, she mighty powahful. She got strong magic on her side.”
Stamp think about this. Stamp guess it make sense. Stamp also glad Stamp not brag too much about Stamp and Stamp friends killing burny-roary Onyxia. Stamp look kinda silly, otherwise.
Stamp look down on the yellow grasslands of the Barrens. Stamp reach into Stamp backpack and Stamp take out old dull sword blade from nelf. Stamp look at blade and ponder. Stamp just gotta let the burny-roary dragon scorch the blade and then Stamp gotta stab it into burny-roary dragon corpse and then Stamp take it back to nelf in woodsy-leafy Dire Maul and then Stamp gonna get a really nice…
WHUMP! Wyvern roar and flap and roll as air turbulence shake and shake and shake and shake Stamp. Stamp not even think about it … Stamp not have time. Stamp grab hold around wyvern neck so Stamp not fall off. But Stamp gotta let go of blade to do that.
Stamp see it spin and spin and spin and spin as it fall into a quillboar camp.
Stamp sigh. Stamp grumpy.
“So, allow me to ensure that I am hearing this clearly,” nelf in shady-leafy Dire Maul say to Stamp with a sigh. “You brought that book back to me. I gave you an unspeakably ancient blade. I gave you simple instructions that would lead to the rebirth of a magnificent one-handed sword. And you just went and flung it off the back of a wyvern into a pack of gibbering quillboar. And now you want *another one*?”
Stamp shrug. Stamp look over at Stamp clan leader Kadingo and Stamp friend Ralnar. Stamp look back at nelf. “Stamp not mean to drop slice and slice.” Stamp hate feeling stupid. Stamp glad Stamp friends help Stamp get back to library, but Stamp not like how nelf look at Stamp or talk to Stamp.
“Yes, well, drop it you did, yes?” nelf ask. Nelf cross arms and roll eyes. “And now you come all the way back here and interrupt my study of these splendid tomes just so that I can give you a replacement? How many unspeakably ancient blades do you think we keep around here? That was a rare treasure! They don’t just grow on trees, you know!”
“No, mon,” Stamp clan leader Kadingo say, peeking into box behind nelf. “But dey seem tah grow okay in dis here crate!”
Nelf cough and blink and nudge Stamp clan leader Kadingo away from the box. “Those are unspeakably ancient and rare.”
“Rare?” Stamp clan leader Kadingo laugh. “Me count at least a dozen! Dey all got marks on em! Dey say ‘Made in Undermine.’ Joo sure dey dat ancient and rare?”
Stamp friend Ralnar toss a piece of meat to Ralnar pet wolf, Wolf. Wolf look hungrily at nelf, especially those wiggly ears.
Nelf force a smile. “Help yourself to a replacement blade. Please.”
"You've been keeping quite the low profile lately!" Gizmik Fazzle, shrieky-shouty gobble scorekeeper at Shimmering Flats racetrack, growl at Stamp.
Stamp shrug. "Stamp been busy."
"Busy don't sell books and dolls, Stamp! I need more stories! MORE STORIES!"
Stamp watch the gobble racers tweak the rocket car engine. Stamp nod. "Stamp know. Stamp think maybe Stamp retire, is all. Stamp think Stamp ready to not be in any more stories."
Gizmik blink. Gizmik peer at Stamp. "Now *that's* just crazy talk! As long as you're running around hitting things, there'll be stories to tell."
Stamp sigh. "Stamp tired. Stamp need a break."
Gizmik scratch chin and cheek and then tilt head. "You just need a vacation! That's all! A couple of weeks of rest and relaxation. You'll be fine!"
Stamp ponder this. Stamp definitely been busy. Stamp been making slicers and slammers and stabbers for Saru Steelfury in orcie town of Orgrimmar. Stamp help fight clicky-clacky bugs in Silithus. Stamp and Stamp clan friends and Stamp friends in Dissonance fight and bring down roary-burny Razorgore. Aye, Stamp tired. Aye, Stamp need a break. Stamp think maybe Gizmik right. Stamp just need to get some rest.
"Where Stamp go?" Stamp ask.
Gizmik grin. "Don't worry about a thing, big guy! I know just the place! I know a guy who knows a guy who does the books for a guy who's friends with the housekeeper of a guy who owns a little place on the beach in Stranglethorn Vale. Pack your bags, Stamp! Leave it to your old pal Gizmik!"
Stamp nod. "Stamp do this."
Stamp lie in hammock in cabin of boat on Great Sea. Stamp hear shrieky-shouty goblins on deck, yell and yell and yell and yell at each other about mizzenmasts and mainsails and sextants and rudders and bilge rats.
Stamp think it not easy to get rest on a boat run by shrieky-shouty goblins. Stamp get out of hammock and walk up wooden steps onto main deck of boat.
"Watch your step, beefsteak!" shout a shrieky-shouty goblin at Stamp as Stamp get to deck. Stamp look down at shrieky-shouty goblin. Stamp hoof nowhere near shrieky-shouty goblin! Shrieky-shouty goblin grin and waddle off to take care of shrieky-shouty goblin business.
Stamp grunt. Stamp walk over to rail and look out at the sea, toward the swirly-stormy Maelstrom. Stamp hear many stories about ships that get lost and lost and lost and lost in the swirly-stormy Maelstrom.
"I'll be glad when we've put that at our backs," say an thumpy-growly orc next to Stamp. Thumpy-growly orc look at swirly-stormy Maelstrom too.
"Aye," Stamp say.
"OOPS!" shout a shrieky-shouty goblin from aft.
Stamp and thumpy-growly orc look toward that shout. So do lots of other shrieky-shouty goblins.
Aft shrieky-shouty goblin point some distance behind the boat and yell: "RUDDER AHOY!"
Thumpy-growly orc look at Stamp. "What does *that* mean?"
Stamp blink. Stamp see boat turn with current, *toward* the swirly-stormy Maelstrom. "Stamp think it means vacation just got a little too interesting."
A brief interlude...
A long time ago, Stamp and Stamp clan friends hit and hit and hit and hit and hit hissy-clawy dragon Gyth in sooty-burny Blackrock Spire arena.
Stamp got hissy-clawy dragon Gyth skull for helm to put on Stamp head. Stamp wear it. Stamp not like it much. Stamp think it pretty ugly. Stamp think it not look as good as admiral hat Stamp friend Lilithia made for Stamp last year - back when Stamp want to command Horde navy for Thrall, and before Stamp made a mess of the stupid floppy nelfs' Feathermoon ferry boat.
Stamp want and want and want and want another helmet ever since Stamp got hissy-clawy dragon Gyth skull.
Stamp finally got new hat!
Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit clacky-snarly skellies in misty-nasty Plaguelands. Stamp find nice brown leather hat on ground next to scattered bones! Stamp put hat on Stamp head. Stamp think it not protect as much as ugly Gyth skull, but Stamp like it a lot!
Stamp even grin at stupid hummy spitty pally, Stamp so happy about hat. Stupid hummy spitty pally wave at Stamp. Stamp tip leather hat in salute.
Stamp think new hat got class. Gizmik tell Stamp that Stamp need a whip and a leather jacket and Stamp be just like Gizmik uncle Ozmyzia Janz, the most famous adventurer in all of Undermine. Stamp tell Gizmik that Stamp never heard of Ozmyzia Janz. Gizmik just huff at Stamp and say, "Yeah, smart guy? Well, silver gets you gold that Uncle Ozzy never heard of Cairn Bloodhoof either! So THERE!"
And now back to our regularly scheduled story, already in progress...
Tug and tug and tug and tug and tug and tug and tug and tug and ... Stamp slap a hand at whatever pull and pull on Stamp leg.
Tug and tug and tug stop. Now growl start. Growl and growl and growl and growl. Stamp open eyes. Stamp look. Stamp see four snarly-snappy woof-woofs on beach around Stamp. Snarly-snappy woof-woofs look hungry.
Stamp not sure how Stamp got on beach, but Stamp not got much time to worry about that. Right now, Stamp gotta think about how Stamp gonna live much longer on the beach.
Stamp armor gone. Stamp slice and slicers and hit and hitters and stab and stabbers ... gone. Stamp just got Stamp hands and hooves and wet clan tabard and floppy brown leather hat.
Stamp hear Gizmik voice in Stamp head: "Toldja, big guy! Shoulda got a whip!"
Stamp grunt. Stamp grumpy. Stamp grab two snarly-snappy woof-woofs by throat and bag noggins together. Stamp kick and kick other two with Stamp hooves. Two dizzy snarly-snappy woof-woofs stagger around while Stamp get to Stamp feet. Other snarly-snappy woof-woofs sprawl on sand. Stamp hoof hit hard. Dizzy snarly-snappy woof-woofs pounce at Stamp. Stamp punch one in snout and see it flop over on ground. Stamp catch other by nape of neck and fling it out to the surf. Stamp see coral shark get lunch.
Stamp grunt. Stamp usually never so busy when Stamp just wake up.
Stamp look around. Stamp not see anybody else. Stamp just see beach on island in middle of ocean ... surrounded by swirly-roary storm clouds. Sun shine here, though.
Stamp remember ... Stamp on vacation. But Stamp never make it to Stranglethorn Vale. Stamp on boat 815 from Ratchet, but boat 815 from Ratchet went into Maelstrom.
Stamp see bits of brown planks and splinters washed up on beach. Stamp guess that left from boat 815.
Stamp hear noise in bushy-tweety jungle behind Stamp. Stamp turn and look. Stamp see Tauren look back at Stamp from bushy-tweety jungle. Tauren got black-silver fur and blue eyes and look a lot like Stamp father Echo. Stamp not seen Stamp father Echo in a long time. Stamp and Stamp father Echo not leave on best of terms.
Stamp raise a hand to wave at Stamp father Echo. Stamp father Echo not say anything. Stamp father Echo turn and walk into jungle.
Stamp think that rude, but Stamp shrug. Stamp follow Stamp father Echo into green shadows...
DISCLAIMER: No real animals were harmed in the production of this story.
Stamp push through jungle bushes, green and green and green and spiky. Jungle get darker and spookier. Stamp not see Stamp father Echo now. Stamp smell green and green and green and squelchy mud and green. Stamp hear skitter and tweet and shrieky-leapy monkeys and slithery-hissy snakes, but Stamp not hear Tauren stomp and stomp steps.
Stamp about to turn around and go back to beach when Stamp see movement in corner of Stamp left eye. Stamp look. Stamp see Stamp father Echo fade into shadows.
"Father!" Stamp shout. "Stamp wonder what Stamp father doing on jungle island! Stamp wonder if Stamp father was on same boat as Stamp?"
Stamp not get answer. Stamp sigh. Stamp grumpy. Stamp walk in direction Stamp last saw Stamp father Echo.
Stamp trip over something. Stamp fall. Stamp sigh. Stamp grumpier. Stamp get back to Stamp feet and then Stamp look at what trip Stamp. Stamp see thick metal pipe. Stamp not seen pipe like this since Stamp fought growly-gurgly trogs and squeaky-wobbly gnomes in Gnomeregan. In faint light coming through leaves overhead, Stamp see numbers engraved on pipe: 4 8 15 16 23 42.
Stamp wonder where pipe lead. But Stamp want to find Stamp father Echo first. Pipe gonna have to wait.
Stamp look around. Stamp think it get very dark. Stamp not see much jungle anymore - mostly Stamp just see shadows. But then Stamp see shadows grow lighter and jungle take new shape...
The young Tauren stands in the rare Barrens rain, watching with his sister as their father places the last stone on their mother's grave marker.
"Stamp hit and hit centaurs for this," the young Tauren vows.
"You'll do no such thing," the father insists.
"With due respect, father, I agree with Stamp," Raysha replies.
"Whether you agree or not doesn't matter," their father says. "I am your father. He is your brother. You obey *me*."
"What would you have us do, then?" Raysha asks.
"Nothing," their father says. Rivulets of rainwater trickle off his snout as he looks from one sibling to the other. "We're leaving this place and never coming back."
Stamp walk and walk and walk and walk through jungle. Stamp stop when Stamp hear crunchy-stompy-growly noise in the shadows. Stamp think it not sound much like Stamp father Echo.
"Father?" Stamp ask shadows. Shadows not answer. Stamp hear silence, loud and clear. Stamp shrug. Stamp walk and walk and walk some more.
Stamp stop again when Stamp hear more crunchy-stompy-growly noise in the shadows.
"Father?" Stamp ask shadows again. Again, shadows not answer. Stamp hear crunchy-stompy-growly noise get louder and closer. Stamp hear clanky-clanky noise, like squeaky-wobbly gnome chains rattling. In faint light, Stamp see inky black smoke coiling and roiling and boiling toward Stamp. Stamp feel hooves fly upward as something snag Stamp leg. Stamp oof on the ground as smoke-thing drag and drag and drag and drag Stamp through jungle shadows.
Stamp bounce and bounce and bounce through bushes when Stamp notice Stamp father Echo standing on boulder, looking down at Stamp. Stamp father Echo tell Stamp: "I told you this would happen."
The young Tauren looks up at his father and says, "Stamp not care what Stamp father tell Stamp. Centaur killed Stamp mother ... Stamp father's wife! Stamp not let that stand without vengeance."
"They will kill you, just as they killed her," Echo replies.
"Stamp know centaur might kill Stamp, aye. But Stamp know Stamp conscience killed if Stamp listen to Stamp father! Stamp want clear conscience."
"I'm going with him," Raysha interjects, bobbing her snout at Stamp.
Echo growls and shakes his head. "I *forbid* this. You will both come with me and you will speak no more of vengeance against the centaur. I know a man in Ratchet who can get us on a boat to Stranglethorn Vale, in the Eastern Kingdoms. I can find work there as a storyteller and bard. I will teach you both the art of entertaining. We will do well."
"Stamp think Stamp father go entertain," the younger Tauren male answers. "Stamp got more important things to do." He grabs a worn-looking two-handed mace from the back of the wagon and starts walking down the Gold Road, away from the bustle of Crossroads.
"I'm not waiting for you!" Echo shouts after his son.
Raysha, the Tauren son's sister, takes a sword from the kodo-drawn wagon and then looks at her father. "You've never waited for anybody before. Why start now?" With a faint smile, she turns and walks with a determined gait after her brother.
Stamp soon find Stamp on back in dark cave, deep underground below strange Maelstrom island. Stamp hear water trickle and trickle and trickle in clumpy shadows.
Stamp not dragged and dragged anymore. Stamp sit up. Stamp head sore. Stamp back sore. Stamp grumpy.
"Father?" Stamp say to shadows. Stamp voice come back, over and over and over again: "Father? Father? Father?"
Stamp sit in silence. Stamp guess Stamp father not really there. Stamp guess Stamp maybe go crazy or just imagine it.
Stamp get up. Stamp start feeling around for wall. Stamp want to find a way out. Stamp want to get back to the top of the crazy Maelstrom island. Stamp do this a few minutes and then a faint glow shimmers off black stone in front of Stamp. Stamp turn and see glow get brighter. Light glow and glow and glow from lantern held by someone Stamp not quite see yet. Stamp just see vague silhouette.
"How ye like me island?" the lightholder ask Stamp. Stamp still not see a face, but Stamp know the voice ... and Stamp know the PTOOEY-PTOOEY sound of a stupid spitty pally when Stamp hear it.
"Cups," Stamp growl, stalking closer to the dorfie as stupid spitty dorfie pally jumps down from rock and jabs a shiny slice and slice toward Stamp.
"Hold it, beefsteak," stupid spitty dorfie pally snarl at Stamp. "Ah didn't bring ye here to kill ye, but if ah'm left with no choice in the matter, dead ye'll be."
Stamp stand still. Stamp glower at stupid spitty dorfie pally. "Stamp thought Cups dead."
"Aye, well, ah thought it convenient to pretend it was so," Cups say. "But, seein' as how ye've seemed to die more than once yerself, I can't see why ye'd be at all surprised ah'm back." Stupid spitty dorfie pally grin. "And ah'm not alone. Ah couldn't get ye here without the help o' an ol' friend."
Another form step into the circle of light and shadow created by the lantern in Cups' grip. Stamp see a lanky purple nelf with a bow and a sword. Stamp remember lanky purple nelf from boat Stamp commanded. Stamp accidentally knocked purple nelf off boat! Purple nelf drowned! Stamp lost job on boat because of that.
"We never formally met," purple nelf tell Stamp. "I am Zanthafir."
"Why stupid spitty dorfie pally and stupid purple nelf bring Stamp here?" Stamp ask.
Stupid spitty dorfie pally grin at Stamp. "All those stories talk about how good ye are with gadgets. We got a gadget for ye to fix."
Stamp blink. "Stamp not make gadgets anymore."
Cups look at Zanthafir. Zanthafir look at Cups. Then both look at Stamp. Cups say: "Then maybe we *did* bring ye here to kill ye."
The young Tauren finds his father standing on the dock in Ratchet, watching as goblins load cargo aboard the boat to Stranglethorn Vale. The sun sets over the hills leading to the Barrens to the west.
Stamp Bloodhoof's mace is sticky with blood and clumps of coarse hair. He drops it at Echo's hooves. "Stamp done."
The father stares down at the soiled hammer and then scowls at Stamp. "Your mother's still dead. It changes nothing, and it could have gotten you killed too." He glances at the road to the Barrens. "Where is Raysha?"
"Crossroads," Stamp answers. "Stamp sister Raysha got no respect for Stamp father."
Echo nods slowly. "I refuse to kill for the sake of killing and for this I am disrespected." He sighs. "Yes, I suppose that makes a twisted sort of sense."
"Stamp not kill for sake of killing," the younger Tauren says. "Stamp kill to make them pay."
"You were supposed to follow in my hoofprints, Stamp," Echo replies. "I always dreamed you'd be a storyteller and a singer, just like me. I never wanted you to be a creature of violence."
Stamp shrugs. "Stamp not feel like singing. Stamp felt like hitting. Now Stamp feel like walking away." And so he does, turning his back on his father and wandering off toward the darkening horizon...
Stupid purple nelf put out a hand to stay stupid spitty dorfie pally. "A moment, Cups, before you commence with the bashing and the spitting." Zanthafir look at Stamp. "You may not *make* gadgets anymore, but surely it is possible for you to *fix* something that is already built, yes?"
"Maybe," Stamp answer.
"Maybe will suffice," stupid purple nelf say. "Lead the way, Cups."
"Ah'right," stupid spitty dorfie pally say. "But ah'm gonna hit and hit and hit and hit that oversized cow if this don't work."
Stamp follow stupid purple nelf Zanthafir and stupid spitty dorfie pally Cups through caves to big underground bunker.
Bunker dark at first, but then stupid purple nelf push lever that turn on steam turbine that hiss and hiss and chug and grunt and then lights flicker on overhead. Stamp see bunker full of pipes and rolled up parchment scribbly-scrawlies and open parts crates, all surrounding a concrete platform with what look like a shrieky-shouty gobble here-to-therer device.
Stupid purple nelf point at here-to-therer thingy and then tell Stamp: "That requires repair. If you can get it working, all of us can get off this island."
Stamp peer at stupid purple nelf Zanthafir. "Stupid purple nelf sank Stamp boat and made Stamp come to stupid jungle island just so Stamp can fix and fix stupid shrieky-shouty gobble here-to-therer?"
"Cups sent me a distress call using his hearthstone," stupid purple nelf say. "It occurred to me that you would be ideal for the task, especially given the fact you were embarking on a vacation to Stranglethorn Vale."
Stamp peer even more at stupid purple nelf Zanthafir. "How stupid purple nelf know Stamp go on vacation? And where?"
Stupid purple nelf smirk. "The walls of Gizmik Fazzle's home in Shimmering Flats are not the thickest, are they?"
"Enough o' this flipflap," stupid spitty dorfie pally growl. "The cud chewer's stallin' for time. Can ye fix this contraption or can't ye?"
Stamp shrug. "Stamp think so. But Stamp need tools."
Stupid purple nelf Zanthafir point at big crate marked TOOLS.
"Stamp need spare parts," Stamp say.
Stupid purple nelf Zanthafir point at big crate marked SPARE PARTS.
"Stamp need some idea where shrieky-shouty gobble here-to-therer supposed to go," Stamp say.
Stupid spitty dorfie pally Cups laugh and slap a knee. "That's why *ye* get ta use it first, hoof 'n' mouth!"
"Usually, such devices are built in pairs," stupid purple nelf Zanthafir say while Stamp try to fit squiggly piece onto swirly disc. "This one should lead to a companion teleporter in another location."
"Stamp know this," Stamp say. "But Stamp not know if other here-to-therer in safe place or if companion device even work."
"Jus' what happens if we get this one workin' and teleport when the other don't work?" stupid spitty dorfie pally Cups ask.
Stupid purple nelf smile faintly at Cups. "Our Tauren friend will simply have to hope that the companion device is functioning, for his own sake."
Stamp check parts one last time and then Stamp flip switch on shrieky-shouty gobble here-to-therer. Lights flicker and generators hum and here-to-therer go pad start to shine.
"It works!" stupid spitty dorfie pally shout. "A'right, now we test it." Then stupid spitty dorfie pally brow furrow. "But, erm, how are we supposed to know if Big Ugly here makes it or not?"
"A good question," stupid purple nelf Zanthafir say. Stupid purple nelf ponder for a few moments and then say, "Cups, you should go first. We are linked by our hearthstones. He no longer has his, so he would be unable to communicate with us."
Stupid spitty dorfie pally glower at stupid purple nelf. "Wait, wait, wait, laddy. Go back to the part where ye think Cups should go first."
"Well, Cups, it really does make a great deal of sense," stupid purple nelf tell stupid spitty dorfie pally. "You have been marooned on this island for a long time. This teleporter would appear to be our only reasonable way back to the world we know. Either it works or it doesn't, but even if it doesn't, you must admit that it's better than staying on this strange island for the rest of our lives."
"Oh, no ye don't!" stupid spitty dorfie pally shout, getting closer to stupid purple nelf. "Ah say *ye* go first!"
Stamp watch this go back and forth for a little while, and then Stamp sigh, shrug and roll onto shiny disc of here-to-therer device.
Stamp world go all white and shiny blue...
Stamp hear birds squawk and squawk and squawk. Stamp hear water splash and splash and splash. Stamp feel soft wood planks under Stamp. Stamp smell briny salt water and dead fish. Stamp open eyes and Stamp see shrieky-shouty gobble feet.
"You sure know how to make an entrance, my friend!" shrieky-shouty gobble shout, grinning at Stamp.
"Where Stamp at?" Stamp ask. Stamp sit up. Stamp look around. Stamp see big dead fish hanging from pole over big wooden dock and Stamp see jungle in the distance and Stamp see boat pull up to wharf. Stamp know exactly where Stamp at.
"Booty Bay!" shrieky-shouty gobble tell Stamp. "I'm Finick Mizlmak. You need it? I can get it! You got it? I just might buy it!"
Stamp get up. Stamp look over at shrieky-shouty gobble here-to-therer on dock. "Stamp want to buy here-to-therer."
Shrieky-shouty Finick say, "Oh, I dunno, that's kinda pricey, my friend. Why would you want to buy something so complex and delicate?"
Stamp grin. "Stamp wanna break it."
"Oh," Finick say, pondering. "So, you wanna give me a hundred gold or so just to bash that teleporter into oblivion?"
"Aye," Stamp say. "Stamp do this."
"Well, all right," shrieky-shouty gobble say. "It hurts my conscience bone to take your money for something you aren't gonna keep and cherish for all time, but I'm willing to endure this discomfort if it makes you a happy customer."
Stamp run down to bank. Stamp take out gold. Stamp go back to shrieky-shouty Finick. Stamp give gold. Finick count gold and then nod to Stamp. Stamp grab sledgehammer from rack of tools next to here-to-therer. Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit here-to-therer. Here-to-therer clang and bang and bong and bink and spark and poof and spark some more.
"HEY!" shout another shrieky-shout gobble. "What do you think you're doing?!"
Stamp look and see Finick get all scared. Finick clutch bag of gold coins close and then scamper away. Stamp look at other shrieky-shouty gobble, who look really shocked at smoking remains of here-to-therer.
"YOU BROKE MY TELEPORTER, YOU UNTHINKING BRUTE!"
Finick wave and smile sheepishly from atop a ramp before scampering toward the wind rider post.
Stamp sigh. Stamp shrug. "Stamp sorry," Stamp say. "Stamp fix?"
"FIX?!" Shrieky-shouty gobble shake fist at Stamp. "There's no fixing it! Look at the frame! Look at the gears and cogs and switchplates! YOU RUINED IT! It'll never, ever, ever, EVER work again!"
Stamp ponder. "Stamp pay for it."
"You think money can make this better?" shrieky-shouty gobble ask. Then shrieky-shouty gobble blink and say, "What the blazes am I asking? OF COURSE MONEY CAN MAKE IT BETTER!"
So, Stamp pay angry shrieky-shouty gobble a hundred gold to be happy again.
Stamp out two hundred gold ... but Stamp also trap stupid purple nelf and stupid spitty dorfie pally on wierd island.
Stamp think it cheap at twice the cost.
"How'd you like the vacation?" Stamp friend Gizmik Fazzle ask as Stamp walk into Gizmik Fazzle hut in Shimmering Flats.
Stamp shrug. "Stamp time off go off course a little." Stamp explain about the island and Stamp father on island and Stamp enemies on island. Stamp tell Stamp friend Gizmik about shrieky-shouty gobble here-to-therer, and how Stamp fix it and get back to Booty Bay.
"Hmm, doesn't sound like much of a vacation," Gizmik say. "Glad you made it back in one piece, though. Sure you don't want to give it another shot? That little house on the beach is still available!"
Stamp scratch snout and shake head. "Stamp need a vacation from taking a vacation. Stamp got to go back to orcie town of Orgrimmar and make more hit and hits for Master Saru. Stamp way behind on work."
"Well, then, hrm, I suppose there's no way around it," Gizmik say. "You should know what's been going on while you've been off battling evil paladins with overexuberant salivary glands on a weird island in the middle of the Maelstrom."
Stamp peer at Gizmik. "What Stamp miss?"
Gizmik sigh and shrug. "Trouble in your clan. Some folks you knew, trusted and liked ... well, they left the clan. Kadingo's feeling pretty glum about it."
Stamp growl. "Stamp better get back to orcie town of Orgrimmar, then. Stamp better get back *now*. Stamp never should have left."
"No way you could have stopped this, Stamp," Gizmik say. "It's bound to happen from time to time."
Stamp not so sure. Stamp wave to Gizmik. Stamp walk outside and unhitch Glowyeyes from post next to racetrack.
Stamp ride Glowyeyes fast as Glowyeyes can trot, toward dusty pass to Gadgetzan.
Stamp sit next to forge in Saru Steelfury shop in orcie town of Orgrimmar.
Stamp come back from wierd island with stupid purple nelf and stupid spitty dorfie pally to find out several people Stamp thought friends now gone from Stamp friend Dingo's clan.
Stamp not sure why Stamp friends leave. Stamp wish Stamp got to talk to Stamp friends before Stamp friends decide not to be Stamp friends anymore.
Stamp wonder sometimes why people join clans. Stamp wonder what make people stay. Stamp wonder what make people go.
Stamp just know what make Stamp join, though. Stamp just know what make Stamp stay.
Stamp join to help and be part of something bigger than Stamp.
Stamp stay to help and be part of something bigger than Stamp.
Stamp not join to get better hit and hits.
Stamp not join so others do stuff for Stamp.
Stamp just like to be part of a group that want to be around Stamp and help each other and share adventures and be a family.
Stamp think families sometimes have trouble. Stamp got troubles in Stamp family when Stamp younger. But Stamp still got Stamp sister Raysha. Stamp still got family.
Stamp still got good friends in Dingo's clan. Stamp gotta do without friends who turned their backs on Stamp and the clan. But Stamp still got friends. Stamp still got family.
Now Stamp just gotta do whatever Stamp gotta do to help Dingo's clan pull through and rebound.
Stamp not do that grumpy. Stamp not do that angry. Stamp just be Stamp and help do what Stamp can do.
Stamp not always like change. But Stamp gonna accept it. Stamp gonna do what Stamp gotta do.
Stamp and Stamp clan friends meet on rusty red shore of Sen'jin fishing village in Durotar.
Stamp clan leader Kadingo tell Stamp and Stamp clan friends that clan go through changes and rough times. Some clan friends left without much warning and some of them said bad things about Kadingo and Corah on the way out.
Called Kadingo and Corah greedy. Called Kadingo and Corah selfish. Said Kadingo and Corah abused power.
Stamp wonder: What power?! Stamp never seen Kadingo and Corah treat anyone as less than equals. The only times Stamp seen Kadingo and Corah invoke anything like power, it was to banish someone from the clan for breaking one of the few rules the clan ever got: Don't go fishing for another clan when still in this clan. Disrespect the clan and clan disrespect you. Simple rule. Easy to follow.
As for greed and selfishness, Stamp found Kadingo and Corah to be generous with time, money and resources. Stamp think anyone who seriously think Kadingo and Corah greedy, selfish or power hungry gotta be insane.
Even after all the bad things said about Kadingo and Corah by people who left, Kadingo tell clan at clan meeting not to show anger to those who left. Kadingo tell clan our clan still friends with Dissonance and even if it seem sort of awkward for a while, Kadingo want us to be civil to the ones who left. The ones who called Kadingo selfish, greedy and power hungry. Do selfish, greedy, power-hungry people urge kindness to those who act and speak against them?
Stamp think those who say such things should be ashamed.
Stamp want to follow Kadingo's advice. But Stamp think it gonna be hard. Stamp think Stamp just gonna act like Stamp not see them if Stamp see them. If Stamp gotta talk to them, Stamp just gonna get angry and Stamp not wanna get angry, so better that Stamp just say nothing to them until Stamp feel like Stamp can talk to them again.
Stamp want to do good work for Stamp mentor Saru Steelfury in orcie town of Orgrimmar.
But it take Stamp so long to get better because auction house either not got much metal for Stamp to buy, or what Stamp find in auction house usually so insanely expensive that Stamp not gonna spend the money.
So, Stamp decide it time for Stamp to change again. Stamp give up skinning. Stamp take up mining. Stamp figure Stamp can hit and hit and hit and hit and hit mineral veins easier than shopping at auction house.
Stamp ride Glowyeyes across moonlit gritty-dusty dunes of Tanaris, from Gadgetzan toward the Abyssal Sands. Stamp look and look and look for tin veins.
Stamp get close to slammy-growly ogre camp and Stamp hear noise of slammy-growly ogres slamming and growling and slamming and growling. Stamp urge Glowyeyes to stop.
Stamp look through swirling sand and see four slammy-growly ogres, a stupid purple nelf hunter girly and stupid purple nelf hunter girly's big black cat. Slammy-growly ogres slam and slam and slam big black cat and stupid purple nelf hunter girly.
Stamp jump off Glowyeyes, take Earthshaker hit and hit from pack slung next to Glowyeyes saddle, and then Stamp charge into fray just as big black cat fall to the side and slammy-growly ogres really focus on stupid purple nelf hunter girly. Stamp hit one slammy-growly ogre with Earthshaker and the ground quakes and leaves all four slammy-growly ogres swaying and swaying, dazed. Stamp and stupid purple nelf hunter girly hit and hit and hit and hit and hit slammy-growly ogres until slammy-growly ogres all fall down and not get up.
Stupid purple nelf hunter girly bow to Stamp. Stamp salute stupid purple nelf hunter girly.
Stamp get back on Glowyeyes and ride off into the dust-swirled night.
"You want mithril?" Stamp friend Gizmik Fazzle ask Stamp. "Well, you can stop going in circles around Shimmering Flats and ride Glowyeyes through Fazzle Pass to Tanaris and start going in circles there. Lots and lots of mithril around Tanaris, especially the south and west." Stamp friend Gizmik twitch, remembering something. "And in the bug hives."
Stamp nod and turn to leave Gizmik Fazzle hut next to race track, but then Stamp stop. Stamp scratch Stamp snout. Stamp turn and look at Stamp friend Gizmik. "When pass get name from Gizmik?"
"Oh, uh, erm, it was a memorial thing," Stamp friend Gizmik say. "After my little rocket car wreck. Remember?"
"Stamp remember wreck," Stamp say. "Stamp not remember anyone name pass after Gizmik." Stamp tilt head. "Also, Stamp thought memorials done for dead people." Stamp tilt head other way. "Dead-dead. Not not-dead. Not thought-dead-and-come-back-from-bug-hive."
"Details," Gizmik grunt.
Stamp nod, but Stamp not argue anymore. Stamp figure if Stamp friend Gizmik want to name Tanaris pass after Gizmik, then Stamp let Gizmik do whatever Gizmik want until someone else tell Gizmik that Gizmik not allowed to do that.
Stamp got too much work to do to argue with Stamp friend Gizmik. Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit ore veins and smelt and smelt and smelt and smelt ore for craft faire. Stamp friends in Tears of Draenor clan gonna be up on Thunder Bluff tonight. Stamp gonna try to make sure smiths got plenty of tin and iron and steel and mithril and gold and silver and stuff.
Stamp glad to help!
Stamp ride wind from orcie town of Orgrimmar to Thunder Bluff. Stamp walk down tower ramp to bluff with sunken ground and benches in front of Cairne Bloodhoof tent. Stamp see Stamp clanmates and Stamp friends from Tears of Draenor clan.
Stamp say hi to Stamp friends. Stamp see Stamp friend Reia. Reia not in clan now, but Stamp not grumpy at Reia. Reia got reasons. Stamp say hi to Stamp friend Reia. Stamp see clothy priest Terrick. Terrick not in clan now. Stamp kinda grumpy at Terrick. Terrick never tell Stamp bye and never tell Stamp why Terrick leave. Stamp guess clothy priest Terrick got reasons, but Stamp not say hi. Stamp feel bad about this. Stamp always like clothy priest Terrick. Stamp still like clothy priest Terrick. Stamp just ... grumpy. Stamp not ready to say hi. And clothy priest Terrick not come over and talk to Stamp, so Stamp guess Terrick not ready to say hi either.
Stamp go. Stamp sit on bench in back and watch Stamp friend Kormok sell and sell and sell and sell stuff for craft faire.
Stamp clan friend Mardith sit next to Stamp. Then Stamp clan friend Corah try to sneak around, all stealthy, but Stamp see hoppy-croaky frog - Giblets. Stamp tell Corah that Corah frog is showing.
Stamp almost buy special boots to make Stamp more stealthy. Stamp always want to be rogue like Corah. Stamp like to sneak around. Stamp think Stamp do good at sneaking, but some people think Stamp hooves make too much noise.
Stamp not buy much until Stamp friend Kormok put nice jab and jab spear up for bid. Stamp bid! No one else bid. Stamp win auction.
After auction, Stamp clan friend Kadingo come over. Stamp and Stamp clan friend Kadingo talk about clan and what Stamp maybe do to help. Stamp want to help put on more events like craft faires and Stamp want to lead young warriors into places more seasoned warriors not bother to go.
Stamp clan friend Kadingo think that sound good.
Stamp know Kadingo and Corah been hurt by things that happen in the clan, and by things said by people who left. Gossip. Rumor. Stamp know Stamp friend Gizmik like gossip and rumor. Stamp hate it. Stamp think gossip and rumor for people with nothing useful to say.
Stamp tell Kadingo that Stamp not going anywhere. Stamp tell Kadingo that Stamp think best way to drown out ugly noise of gossip and rumor just to make louder noise with truth and action.
Stamp help do this.
Stamp got to make up for trouble Stamp cause for orphans in orcie town of Orgrimmar.
So, Stamp get little bouncy-cheery orcie orphan. Orcie orphan watcher tell Stamp to take orcie orphan where orcie orphan want to go. Stamp say Stamp do this.
Stamp ask orcie orphan where orcie orphan want to go first. Ring of Valor, maybe? The auction house?
"Boooooooring!" orcie orphan tell Stamp. "Take me to the Undercity!"
Stamp blink. "Undercity on other side of ocean."
Orcie orphan shrug. "That's where I want to go."
"Orcie orphan not afraid to fly?" Stamp ask.
"Nope!" orcie orphan say. "Take me to the Undercity, Stamp! It'll be GREAT!"
Stamp look at orcie orphan watcher. Orcie orphan watcher shrug and say, "It would do much to repay the orphanage for the Winter's Veil mishap."
Stamp sigh. Stamp nod. Stamp put orcie orphan on Glowyeyes back.
"Wow!" orcie orphan say. "Neat wolf! He sure is BIG! Gosh! He's bigger than any wolf I've ever seen!"
Stamp grin. Stamp climb up on Gloweyes and sit behind orcie orphan. Stamp give reins to orcie orphan. Orcie orphan watcher draw a breath, nervous. Stamp tell orcie orphan: "Gotta go to gasbag tower. Orcie orphan take Stamp there!"
Orcie orphan grin and snap reins. Glowyeyes bound and bound and bound through orcie town of Orgrimmar. Bouncy-cheery orcie orphan cackle and yell.
A little while later, Stamp tie Glowyeyes to hitch by gasbag tower outside city gates. Orcie orphan pet Glowyeyes on the flank and say, "You be good now, Glowyeyes!"
Stamp and bouncy-cheery orcie orphan walk up to top of gasbag tower. Little orcie orphan look up at Stamp and ask, "What's it like to be famous?"
Stamp blink. Stamp shrug. "Stamp just Stamp."
"I wanna be famous someday," orcie orphan say.
Stamp grin. "Stamp think maybe..."
"Knee how?" Silly not-deader on gasbag tower talk to Stamp. Stamp not sure what not-deader talk about. Silly not-deader repeat: "Knee how?"
Orcie orphan knit brow and ponder. "I think he's asking how your knee's doing, Stamp. Did you hurt your knee or something?"
Stamp shake Stamp head. "Stamp knee just fine."
"Knee how?" say the silly not-deader again.
Shrieky-shouty gobble gasbag float up to tower about that time. Stamp and bouncy-cheery orphan walk aboard. Stamp wave at silly not-deader back on platform.
"Knee how!" silly not-deader yell at Stamp as shrieky-shouty gobble gasbag float away.
Stamp ride Glowyeyes through Fazzle Pass into Shimmering Flats. Stamp ride Glowyeyes to race track. Stamp about to go to shrieky-shouty gobble Gizmik Fazzle hut when Stamp see shrieky-shouty Gizmik Fazzle outside hut, where Gizmik load and load and load and load boxes into rocket car.
"Stamp!" Gizmik yell, grinning. "Great timing!" Shrieky-shouty gobble Gizmik peer at wiggly-oinky pink pig sitting on saddle in front of Stamp on Glowyeyes. "Uh, what's with lunch?"
Stamp rest a hand on wiggly-oinky pink pig head. "Stamp got new pet. Stamp call him Snort."
"Uh-huh," Gizmik say. "Just found him on the side of the road, did ya?"
"Nope," Stamp say. "Stamp help orphans, so orphan protector lady gave Stamp wiggly-oinky pink pig."
Gizmik laugh. "I'd ask for a sack of gold instead! A sack of gold doesn't need food or attention or protection - it just needs spending!"
Stamp shrug. "Stamp got gold. Stamp like Stamp pets." Stamp tilt Stamp head. "Why Gizmik packing up?"
Shrieky-shouty gobble Gizmik grin. "I just quit as scorekeeper! I'm moving to Orgrimmar. Got myself a little shop on the Drag. You're my new full-time job."
"The books and action figures are paying off like crazy, Stamp," Gizmik say. "Now I want to work on marketing Stamp Bloodhoof on a full-time basis. Special guest appearances! Expeditions to dangerous places, with you in the lead! Maybe even one of those newfangled moving pictures I keep hearing about from my gnome pal in Ratchet!"
Stamp blink. "Stamp not get a say in this?"
"Sure!" Gizmik say before hopping into rocket car. "You get to say yes and tell me the best way to Orgrimmar from here."
Stamp see Stamp orc friend Shorx in trouble with clacky-clawy not-deader skelly and shrieky-waily not-deader banshee near Light's Hope Chapel.
Stamp charge in and hit and hit and hit and hit shrieky-waily not-deader banshee while Shorx hit and hit and hit and hit clacky-clawy not-deader skelly.
Stamp orc friend Shorx thank Stamp after bone dust clears. Stamp bow to Shorx.
Then Stamp hear Stamp hearthstone crackle. Stamp listen. Stamp hear voice of Stamp clan friend Limduul: "Tell me, Stamp, did you ever manage to get an improved piece of head armor?"
Stamp wave goodbye to Shorx and walk over to chapel where Glowyeyes hitched. "Stamp still got same helmet," Stamp say into Stamp hearthstone.
"We must remedy that," Limduul say. "Meet me in Kargath at your earliest convenience."
Stamp ride wind to Kargath. Stamp find not-deader warlock Limduul and hoppy-shrieky imp next to tavern hut.
"Do you remember, several, several months ago when an alternate version of yourself intruded on our world for a while?" Limduul ask.
Stamp nod. "Aye. Stamp remember." Overlord Stamp hard to forget, even though Stamp never met him.
"I'm afraid I took something of a souvenir from that particular incident," not-deader warlock say. "And such remains, well, they've provided rather fascinating study. But no matter. No matter. Recently, I remembered your mention of proper head armor and it finally sparked within my cranium that I had to remove something to get to *his*." Stamp watch Limduul search through bags. From one, Limduul take a large metal object. "I have, of course, polished it since the actual, errr...autopsy. And it is more or less yours, anyway. So, I look at this more as though I am returning it to its proper owner."
Stamp blink. Stamp look over helmet. Stamp think it very nice! "Stamp thank!"
"Think nothing of it," Limduul say. "Or of the possible lingering spirits."
"Hmm?" Stamp ask.
Limduul wave dismissively. "Worry not. I should think the chances are slim that remnants of the former owner's spirit remain imbued in that piece of armor." Limduul chuckle. "Seriously, who believes in ghosts?" Not-deader warlock get a wicked grin and then start to ride off toward Blackrock Mountain. He stop, though, turn and say, "One more thing: Tell Gizmik I said thank you. The dolls are selling wonderfully."
Stamp nod. "Stamp do this." Stamp watch Limduul ride away and then Stamp look down at Stamp new helmet. Stamp try it on. Stamp like the fit!
Stamp not grumpy.
Stamp ride Glowyeyes down slopy road from Tanaris desert to Un'goro Crater. Raindrops plink-plink-plink on Stamp armor and Stamp shield. Water trickle-trickle-trickle and drip-drip-drip along Stamp helm.
Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit mithril vein along rim of crater. Stamp watch big thumpy-growly stone guardian stomp past. Stamp watch wriggly-lashy plant thingies slither across the ground. Stamp. Stamp see oozy-slimy glob thingies slide over the muck.
Stamp feel a little tired, so Stamp sit on rock next to Glowyeyes. Stamp pat Glowyeyes. Glowyeyes growl happily.
Stamp watch big growly-snarly ironhide devilsaur thump and thump and thump and thump through swamp. Stamp see little squeaky-wobbly gnome clothie zap and zap growly-snarly ironhide devilsaur. Stamp hear growly-snarly ironhide devilsaur roar and roar at squeaky-wobbly gnome. Stamp watch squeaky-wobbly gnome run and run and run! Stamp look over at Glowyeyes. Glowyeyes look over at Stamp. Stamp shrug. Stamp not want to help squeaky-wobbly gnome. Stamp figure squeaky-wobbly gnome dug and dug and dug grave and now get to rot and rot and rot in it. But Glowyeyes growl grumpily at growly-snarly ironhide devilsaur. Stamp sigh. Stamp nod.
Stamp charge! Stamp go! Stamp hit! Stamp hit and hit and hit! Squeaky-wobbly gnome ... run and run and run and run while Stamp got growly-snarly ironhide devilsaur distracted. Squeaky-wobbly gnome not stay to help. Squeaky-wobbly gnome leave Stamp to hit and hit ... and get hit and hit and hit.
Stamp got more reason not to like squeaky-wobbly gnomes now!
Stamp grumpy. Stamp hit and hit and hit! Stamp roar! Stamp slash and slash and slash! Stamp bang and bang with shield! Growly-snarly ironhide devilsaur hit and hit and hit and hit Stamp! Stamp get one last really good hit ... and growly-snarly ironhide devilsaur fall!
Stamp survive! Stamp cheer!
Stamp limp and limp and limp back to Glowyeyes. Stamp sag onto ground next to wolfie. Stamp gonna rest up.
Then Stamp gonna go hunt squeaky-wobbly gnome.
"No one wants to be famous!" Gizmik grumble.
Stamp sit on bench in Gizmik new hut on the Drag in orcie town of Orgrimmar. Stamp friend Gizmik Fazzle not hear from anyone that want to be in Azerothian Idol competition. Stamp shrug. "Stamp think maybe people not mind fame, but not want to be *judged*."
"Cowards, the lot of them!" Gizmik shout.
Stamp shake head. "Stamp not think so. Stamp think they just not interested."
Gizmik sigh. "You may be right. Too bad! I was looking forward to spending your gold."
Stamp ponder. Stamp shrug. "Stamp think maybe Gizmik work too hard. Stamp think maybe Gizmik need a holiday."
"I just got this new business up and running," Gizmik say. "It won't help to immediately take a vacation. No, no. Time off won't help. I just need to find a new gimmick." Gizmik hrmph and sit and think and then tilt Gizmik head. Then Gizmik look at Stamp and say, "Okay, it's time to go with our strengths."
"Hmm?" Stamp ask.
"Stamp," Gizmik say, "you're gonna be in pictures."
The Production Diary of Steepen Sprocklebert
27 May 11:30ish. I think. It's been a while since biscuits and tea.
Received couriered memo from Gizmik Fazzle of Orgrimmar indicating his desire as representative of Stamp Bloodhoof to see said Tauren attached to upcoming moving picture project.
As the Sprocklebert Imagin-a-tronic Shuttersnapper remains a fairly experimental device requiring more testing and, thus, more funding from investors, it occurs to me that I could do worse than involve a celebrity with a decent amount of positive name recognition among both Alliance and Horde.
The problem, of course, is that it's Stamp Bloodhoof and I, unavoidably true, am a gnome. This could lead to certain ... clashes in personality. Or downright stomping.
At the very least, I am agreeing to meet with them both in Ratchet to discuss the project.
But, first, another biscuit...
The Production Diary of Steepen Sprocklebert
28 May 11ish. I think. Ooh! Biscuits and tea! Back in a jiff!
Now, where was I? Ah, yes. Met with Gizmik Fazzle and a surprisingly sedate Stamp Bloodhoof in the tavern overlooking the port of Ratchet. Apparently, Gizmik slipped enough dreamfoil in Stamp's ale to tranquilize a Stormwind steed. In the Tauren's case, it just made him really, really, really mellow.
Stamp asked if I was a gnome. He indicated that it would be necessary to stomp me, if I was. Gizmik quickly interjected that I was a deformed goblin. Stamp noted that he had never seen a pink goblin before. Gizmik explained that I had lived in a cave and lost all my lustrous green coloration. Then Stamp asked about my ears, which are not long or pointed. Gizmik quickly covered that by saying I'd been in a freak shredder accident while working for the Venture Co. in Stranglethorn Vale. I don't know whether to be envious or fearful of how well and how quickly Gizmik Fazzle can *lie*.
But it worked. Stamp never mentioned stomping me again during the course of the meeting, although he did keep leaning over to get a close look at my "mangled" ears.
I explained that the new project, which will be the first test of the Sprocklebert Imagin-a-tronic Shuttersnapper, would be an action-driven moving picture. Most audiences in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms have the attention spans of a lava annihilator on a sugar high, so we'd be going for something that would cater to their sensibilities.
It will be a story that pits Stamp against a bunch of giant, blue demon-things that come from outer space and wreak havoc while bubble-shielding. Demon space paladins! The moving picture would sell itself!
Gizmik thought it sounded great. Stamp hunched over and drooled, which both Gizmik and I took to be affirmation and agreement.
Stamp wake up on cot in room above Stamp friend Gizmik Fazzle's shop. Stamp kinda groggy. Stamp sit up and shake head. Stamp get up and thump and thump and thump downstairs.
Stamp find Stamp friend Gizmik Fazzle with raspy blue troll courier. Stamp friend Gizmik Fazzle give a few coins to courier and then courier give brown paper-wrapped parcel to Stamp friend Gizmik Fazzle.
Stamp watch courier pocket the coins and saunter out onto the Drag of orcie town of Orgrimmar.
"What Gizmik got?" Stamp ask.
Stamp friend Gizmik tear paper off parcel and hold up thick stack of parchment held together with crawler claws. "Contract for the moving picture deal!"
Stamp blink. "Stamp not remember making deal..."
"Ah, well, you were kinda sleepy," Gizmik say, flipping through contract pages. Finally, Stamp friend Gizmik get to last page and put in front of Stamp. Stamp friend Gizmik shove feather quill and inkwell in front of Stamp too. "Sign it! We're gonna be RICH!"
Stamp peer at Stamp friend Gizmik. "Stamp think maybe Stamp should read contract first so Stamp know what Stamp sign."
"Why would *you* need to read it? I'm your agent! I read it! Everything looks great!"
Stamp peer at Stamp friend Gizmik some more. "Gizmik once gave Stamp a device to make Stamp talk like not-Stamp, but it made Stamp *annoying* to everyone. Gizmik once got in debt to thugs and got Stamp in trouble with thugs too. Gizmik made action figures of Stamp without permission and got lots of money until Stamp told Gizmik to share. Gizmik told Stamp how great shrieky-shouty gobble engineering was, and then Stamp switched places with Overlord Stamp."
Stamp friend Gizmik look shocked. "You don't *trust* me?"
Stamp shrug. "Stamp *know* Gizmik." Stamp start leafing through contract. Stamp read it over. Stamp not grumpy, but Stamp want change. Stamp look back at Gizmik. "Stamp share not go to Stamp. Stamp share go to orcie orphanage in Orgrimmar."
Gizmik eyes start welling up with real tears. "WHAT?!" Gizmik shout. "Are you INSANE?! That's a lot of money if this pays off! GAH! What are a bunch of orphans going to do with that kind of money? Buy TOYS? Take VACATIONS? Why not just go on top of the windrider tower and throw your money around to random strangers? I won't allow it! I simply WILL NOT allow it!"
Stamp growl at Stamp friend Gizmik. "Stamp think Stamp do what Stamp want with Stamp money."
"But, but..." Gizmik say meekly.
"Stamp want change in contract," Stamp insist. "Then Stamp sign."
Gizmik sigh. "Fine." Gizmik start wrap and wrap and wrap brown paper around contract. "Crazy, bull-headed Tauren..."
The Production Diary of Steepen Sprocklebert
30 May 11:30ish. The biscuits are late and the tea's cold!
Am in receipt of signed contract ... a hoofprint, to be precise ... from Stamp Bloodhoof. This signifies that he is now officially attached to the project.
The tentative title for the moving picture is Demon Space Paladins, although initial test marketing in Tinker Town suggests that a better title might be WHEE! EXPLOSIONS! I have taken this under advisement for later consideration.
Gizmik Fazzle is, as part of the deal to bring Stamp aboard, taking on the assignment of script writer. His initial pitch was to have Stamp play a young Tauren named Shorewalker Redsky whose village in Mulgore is destroyed by demon space paladins. I noted that it might be difficult for Stamp to handle that, given his propensity for SAYING HIS OWN NAME EVERY TIME HE TALKS!
As usual, though, Gizmik had an answer for this. He suggested that we could dub the dialogue with someone else's voice, and maybe even alter it to sound more like Stamp's using a gnomish-engineered device.
The movement of his mouth may not always match the actual lines, but we could shoot for keeping dialogue to a minimum, anyway!
The Production Diary of Steepen Sprocklebert
31 May 2:45ish. A lovely nap, and now it's time for pastry and hot tea!
Awoke from said nap to peruse the first pages of the Demon Space Paladins script from Gizmik Fazzle.
In the opening scene, Stamp is in the midst of a great battle between the forces of Thrall and the legions of the Alliance near Crossroads in Kalimdor. Have added notes to script, suggesting that the front lines on both sides should consist of fewer male orcs and paladins and more scantily clad female night elves and trolls. My suspicion is this will play better with our key demographics.
When the battle on the ground reaches its peak, the aerial bombardment of the Demon Space Paladins begins. In the first draft, Gizmik had them flying gryphons and dropping flaming sacks of lamp oil. My notes call for changes so that the Demon Space Paladins are inside fast-moving, wedge-shaped aircraft that fire deadly energy bolts.
The Demon Space Paladins – you know, for comfort's sake, I shall call them DSP for short from now on – manage to decimate the forces on both sides. Stamp is among the few survivors. He and the other survivors, mostly now even MORE scantily clad night elf females, turn to watch the DSP aircraft swoop off toward the west. Toward Mulgore! Stamp mounts up, flexes dramatically for the scantily clad night elf females, and then gallops off to try and save his family and friends in tranquil Bloodhoof Village.
It's quite exciting so far, watching the story come together. Soon, I shall begin to arduous process of scouting locations for the production.
The Production Diary of Steepen Sprocklebert
1 June 4:35ish. Diet biscuits taste like murloc toe jam! But the tea, as usual, is delicious.
Received more pages of the script-in-progress from Gizmik Fazzle. These feature the first snippets of dialogue for the character Stamp will play. Thus far, it's clear we will definitely need someone to dub the eloquent language spoken by the character.
Have instructed Gizmik to inform Stamp of the fact that his own voice will not be used for the production of this moving picture project. Normally, I would probably do it, but the Stamp-gnome relationship is already dodgy at best, and I treasure my non-squishedness.
Gizmik also has begun introducing secondary characters and a couple of villainous types. The harrowing of Thunder Bluff looks like it will cost a great deal to pull off effectively - and it remains to be seen whether Cairn Bloodhoof will approve of our filming on location. If we can't film there, then it seems to me we could make a model of the location and use a gnomish world enlarger or shrinking ray to get it to the size we'd prefer - and then set off little goblin explosives all over the place.
I should also remember to find a costumer to begin work on designs for the DSP outfits.
Stamp stare at Stamp friend Gizmik Fazzle across table in Gizmik shop in the Drag.
"Stupid squeaky-wobbly gnome say what?!" Stamp shout.
Gizmik hold hands up to try and make Stamp quiet. "Settle down, big guy. It's an industry thing! And, well, you do say your own name a lot when you talk. The alternative is we use that old goblin translator device, but we both know how you feel about it, so that's not really an option, now is it?"
"No," Stamp agree. "Stamp still not like."
Gizmik shrug. "You'll have to live with it. Think about the orphans, Stamp. The orphans! You're doing all this for them, remember?"
Stamp growl. "Stamp remember. Stamp not gonna forget. But Stamp gonna go for now. Stamp gonna let Stamp friend Gizmik do what Stamp friend Gizmik do: Write and write and write. Stamp gonna let squeaky-wobbly gnome do what squeaky-wobbly gnome do: Squeak and squeak and squeak. Stamp gonna do what *Stamp* do: Hit and hit and hit and hit."
"But not me, right?" Gizmik ask. "And not Sprocklebert? You'll restrict hitting to people and things not currently part of your contractual obligations. Right?"
Stamp grunt. "Right." Stamp grab Stamp new Doom's Edge axe off table. Stamp stomp out into street outside Stamp friend Gizmik shop in orcie town of Orgrimmar. Stamp find Stamp wolfie, Glowyeyes.
Stamp go. Stamp hit!
The Production Diary of Steepen Sprocklebert
7 June 2:20ish. I HAVE RUN OUT OF BISCUITS AND THE TEA TASTES LIKE ORC ARMPIT JUICE!
This, of course, has left me quite cross at a rather inopportune time as I seek investors to help underwrite the Demon Space Paladin project.
For example, a certain Eudora Elkwood agreed to meet with me about the project. She thought it all sounded very technical and complicated and ... well, she said the word: Frivolous.
I noted that the frenzied mess of blue hair on top of her head was frivolous. Perhaps, I suggested, the word she wanted was genius. She responded that, in fact, the word she wanted was goodbye.
Must watch my temper. And get a fresh batch of biscuits and tea!
The Production Diary of Steepen Sprocklebert
12 June 9:30ish. Have been unable to sleep past few nights due to mistaken consumption of goblin Wide-Eye tea, rather than my usual Url Gear.
Still, my comfort's loss is Demon Space Paladin's gain. I have satisfied myself with a costume design for the DSPs in the moving picture. They will be large and bulky and menacing and, above all, blue as blueberries. Blue as the skin on a dancing naked troll! (Not that I watch trolls dancing, naked or clothed!)
Gizmik has expressed some discomfort with the vision I've come up with for the costumes. He indicates that he has described the Demon Space Paladins as red-skinned monstrosities in crimson battle armor.
I responded that Gizmik should stick to working on dialogue and story, and leave the overall vision of the project to yours truly. I also suggested that it would be a good idea for him to keep tabs on our star, Stamp, to make sure he stayed out of trouble.
Gizmik indicated that this would be no problem. No problem at all.
Stamp wake up sprawled on mossy ground next to floaty-glowy spirit healer. Stamp hear whooshy-swirly noise of dead place wind. Stamp look over at floaty-glowy spirit healer. Stamp say, "Stamp wonder what happen."
Floaty-glowy spirit healer ask Stamp: "You do not remember?"
"Nope," Stamp say. Stamp cringe. Stamp ask, "Stamp not drink again, right?"
"Perhaps it is best if you do not remember," floaty-glowy spirit healer tell Stamp. "Revival is yours for the asking. You will find your corporeal remains on a hill not far from Browman's Mill."
Stamp narrow eyes at floaty-glowy spirit healer. "Now Stamp very curious about what happen."
"Yes, but are you not in a hurry to resume your work on behalf of the Argent Dawn?" floaty-glowy spirit healer ask.
Stamp growl. Stamp waggle a finger at floaty-glowy spirit healer. "Stamp want to know what happen to Stamp! Stamp want to know NOW!"
Floaty-glowy spirit healer sigh, although it sound like faint gust of wind blown against dead place maelstrom. From floaty-glowy spirit healer sigh come a shimmering pattern of air that becomes like a clothie here-to-therer portal. Behold, floaty-glowy spirit healer say, and then shimmering spot show Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit a clacky-growly skellie in Eastern Plaguelands not-deader camp. Then stupid grumpy-snarly dorfie on overgrown goat gallop and gallop and gallop past Stamp, through camp, toward ridge behind camp. Stamp see lots of angry not-deaders chase and chase and chase stupid grumpy-snarly dorfie. Lots and lots and lots and LOTS of angry not-deaders. Then, stupid grumpy-snarly dorfie gone into mist and all the angry not-deaders run and run and run and run back toward Stamp. Stamp blink. Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit, but Stamp know too many not-deaders hit and hit and hit Stamp for Stamp to win. So, Stamp try to run and run. Stamp warstomp! Stamp shake ground! Stamp try to terrify not-deaders. Not-deaders just make Stamp dizzy and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and then Stamp fall down on hill.