Report #00015: Lessons From the Past Eighty-Four Years
In another week it will be the 23rd of May… my birthday. I’ve never bothered to celebrate it before. Gnomish celebrations tend to be… gnomish. Greta wanted to celebrate my birthday once, but I begged her not to. I couldn’t imagine anything other than a gnomish celebration and went into a complete panic, so she said there’d always be the next year. The next year came, but I’d taken over most of the household duties myself by then and my brother was away for training and meditation more than he was home some weeks. A celebration just didn’t happen. It just kept not happening up until now. If I have any say in it, this May 23rd will be something like Winter Veil and Brewfest combined, with a wee bit of the Darkmoon Faire thrown in.
Or a nice evening spent drinking and enjoying cheese with my brother and a few friends. I’m not difficult to please.
I’ll be eighty-four years old. Not too young, not too old by gnomish standards. Dwarves often still look at me like I’ve just learned to shoot my first gun (and nevermind that I have… this is about my age, not my shooting). Humans often have to ask me how old that means I am because I’d be bloody ancient by their standards. Most elves look at me like I’m a child, but elves often look at anybody who isn’t an elf like they’re a child. I wouldn’t know what a draenei thinks of a mere eighty-four years. I know very few draenei, and the ones I do know are rarely of a mind to talk about the years they’ve seen.
It seems like a good time to look at what I’ve learned in eighty-four years.
I’ve learned that home matters to me. I used to think Gnomeregan was home, but that was really because I couldn’t imagine any place other than the inside of a mountain in Dun Morogh feeling like home. The confusing part was that I was never truly happy in Gnomeregan. I’ve learned that home was really Ironforge Mountain all along.
I’ve learned that the gnomes owe the dwarves a debt that can never be repaid. They shared the mountain twice.
In spite of what I used to think, I’ve learned that there are worse things you can grow up to be than an engineer. You could grow up to be a goblin “engineer”. I’ve said this before, but I feel the need to make a note of it every chance I get… that is bloody well not engineering! That is bolting a piece of metal to an unstable explosive and trying to throw it at someone else before you blow your own fingers off! And usually blowing your own fingers off, anyhow.
For some reason, no one seems to understand gnomish record keeping except gnomes. I’m not sure why it’s so confusing to everyone else, but that’s certainly something I’ve found to be true.
I’ve learned that sometimes, just when you think the world is falling down all around you, it isn’t really. But some people can’t get past the point where they feel like it is. They get stuck there, and there’s not much hope for them. They’ll go on, day after day, saying things they never would have said otherwise, doing things they never would have done otherwise. They’ll forget the people who depend on them, and even forget themselves. They’ll try to bleach your hair pink and force it into boar tails.
I’ve also learned that, somewhere deep inside myself, I still love my mother anyway.
Sometimes, the world really is falling down around you. And I’ve learned you can spend a lot of time inventing heroes for yourself to look up to, but those heroes may fail you. They may be the ones who make the world fall apart, and you may even find yourself forced to help them do it. It’s when the world is crashing and burying you under it all that the true heroes will show themselves. It’s always darkest just before a dwarf gives you some cheese and takes you home.
I’ve finally learned that it wasn’t our the gnomes’ fault we they weren’t at Mount Hyjal. We They didn’t let anyone down. It was just dark days all around.
I’ve learned there are worse things that can happen to a person than dying. Being one of the surivors is sometimes one of those things. I wish I’d had the honor of knowing my brother’s wife. I suppose it only makes sense that the son of such a great dwarf as Greta Stouthammer would bind himself to such a great dwarf as Krona.
From Greta and my brother I’ve learned that family happens two ways. Some folks are family because they were born of the same blood. Some folks are family because they’d gladly go out of their way to give their blood for each other. The Light has seen fit to bless me with that second sort of family, and I feel sorry for all the poor gits who haven’t been blessed with it.
I’ve learned that not all elves are bloody gits. I’ve also learned that most of the ones who are so proud to live in Fandral Staghelm’s Magic Tree are.
I’ve learned that Fandral Staghelm doesn’t like this joke: “What do you call a bunch of forest trolls wearing Mooncloth robes?” “Darnassus.”
I’ve learned that the guards in Stormwind won’t take kindly to it if you try to put up signs that say, “Welcome to the Alliance! Watch your back, because we won’t… just ask the mayors of Westfall, Lakeshire, and Duskwood.” Some of the guards in Duskwood may buy you a pint when you tell them about it later, though.
Never name your daughter Moira. She might grow up to break her father’s heart.
I’ve learned that many Tauren are honorable people, and that Mulgore is one of the most beautiful places I can ever hope to see. I’ve also learned that there are few creatures on Azeroth as amazing as the great kodo.
I’ve learned that you may be surprised who will come along at just the right time to help you. It may be an orc with a wolf companion, or a Tauren with excellent aim, or even one of the foresaken traveling with a sin’dorei who knows her way around a fireball. Hopefully, they’ve learned this does not mean I’ll turn and look the other way when they try to slip into Ironforge. A line has to be drawn somewhere, and mine is drawn all the way around Khaz Modan.
I’ve learned that most folks have short memories, and warlocks get away with a lot more than they should.
I’ve learned that there are greater mysteries in Northrend than anyone could have imagined, and a red-headed gnome with a wee bit of Wildhammer blood can wake up one day and find out she might just be too much dwarf to fit in a gnome body anymore.
I’ve learned that some people still fear what they don’t understand. Even some dwarves.
I’ve learned there is no excuse for Stormwind Brie. It’s the bloody Scourge of cheese. When the undead get their claws on perfectly good cheese… like Dwarven Mild… Stormwind Brie is what happens. Save the cheese… defeat the Scourge!
I’ve learned that taverns in most human cities do not actually serve beer. They serve bloody spring water and charge beer prices for it.
I’ve learned that your friends are the ones who won’t give up on you. I’ve also learned most folks will have very few friends in life, and you can’t afford to be too picky when they do come along. There are worse things than having elves watch your back… like having no one at all. Don’t cheat yourself out of true friends just because they come from a long line of bloody gits.
Perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned there will never be anyone who can hold the place in a person’s life that their own brother does. I think King Magni would agree with me on that. I may take him a piece of the birthday cake my own brother has promised to bake for me.