Report #00034: Metaphorically Shining a New Light on a Very Real Mindset
Winter Veil is on the way! In fact, it may well have started already by the time I get this report filed. Winter Veil is one of my favorite holidays, and I find myself hoping it’ll be just what Ironforge needs this year. I’ve spent as little time here as possible lately. I went looking for somewhere else to move myself and all the animals to. I haven’t found anywhere that feels as right as here in the mountain. I did find some nice places that are lacking that “feminine touch” afflicting the High Seat these days, but those places just aren’t home. Having taken up archaeology to assist the Explorers League provided a perfect excuse for traveling around so much, but the truth is that I was running again. I have to stop doing that. King Magni believed in myself. I owe it to his memory to believe in myself, as well. So, with Winter Veil on the way, I’ve come home.
I was wandering around the Hall of Explorers, which seems to be one place to have held up faily well through all that’s happened, when I ran into Laris Geardawdle. I almost always run into him… myself looking around at the artifacts, and himself looking at some vials of ooze he’s studying. There’d be fewer collisions in the hallway if at least one of us would watch where we’re going, I suppose. He started telling myself about some fascinating thing he’s been observing when the vials of ooze are exposed to low doses of arcane energy, or something along those lines. Normally, I’d be fascinated myself, but my mind was on other things. Enough so that Laris noticed, and when he asked about it I suppose there was a lot stored in my head just waiting to spill out.
I told him about my doubts about myself, and my fears about being a disappointment to folks on account of not being the hero my brother is. I talked for a bit about how my words seem to be taken differently by some of the people who matter most to myself when they hear these words coming from a dwarf instead of a gnome. How I still feel partially at fault for what happened to King Magni because I never got around to drawing his attention to the fact that we don’t understand yet everything found in Ulduar. How I feel lost as an engineer because everyone is tinkering with things I could build with my eyes closed and my arclight spanner all the way on the other side of the room. And how I’m scared because I feel like I’m losing folks I care about. I can barely bring myself to look at elves now that they’re fiddling with arcane energy again, and I never could convince anyone that runes are the safest way to go. To make things worse, they’ve got Malfurion Stormrage walking around in that big tree full of wisps, and I just know Teldrassil is going to end up the same way Nordrassil did because of it!
Laris looked up from the notes he was making about his vials of ooze after a minute and simply said to myself, “Your data is corrupted.”
“I’m not the one making notes on bottles of green slime,” I reminded him.
“Oh no, this one isn’t full of slime! This one is an ooze sample brought back to me from the Un’goro Crater. You wouldn’t believe how it was obtained! The fellow who went out there to get samples for me said the ooze actually cloned itself! I was very pleased that he had the cleverness to use an empty alchemy flask to take a separate sample from the clone so that I can compare the two.”
I figured he hadn’t really heard a bloody word I said until he said again,” But the fact remains that your data is corrupted.”
“How’s that?” I asked.
Here, he set aside the notes and vials to look right at myself and speak. “Fizzy, I’ve known you since you were sixty-five years old. You have presented yourself as someone who did not believe the QUARK lab was important in Gnomeregan. You are only partially correct in that assesment, however! QUARK was about pushing the boundaries of science and engineering. QUARK may not have been integral to the daily functioning of the city, but it was no less a part of that unidentified, uncategorized feeling that popped us out of our beds each day and sent us hurrying off to see what secrets we could convince Science to reveal to us!”
I thought about telling him he might want to run that idea past a few folks from the robotics lab, but he wasn’t finished yet.
“You might want to speak to Fizzlegear while you’re home. He’s been going on about some of the latest engineering developments, and they sound truly fascinating! Any time is the right time to start new projects, you know. As far as concerining yourself over what happens with our Night Elf allies… Oh! That reminds me! Did you know there was some interesting research from Kalimdor that suggested there may be a troll legend that tells how Night Elves evolved from trolls after settling near the Well of Eternity? I’ve found there are a number of life forms on Azeroth that seem to share some common characteristics.”
I didn’t bother to remind him that it was myself who told him about that legend. I still wish I could have gotten that book out of Gadgetzan!
“Look at me, sidetracked by history!” Laris said. “I meant to say… What did I mean to say? Oh! Of course! You are heroic, Fizzy. You survived the fall of Gnomeregan. You’ve made a regular practice of clearing Coldridge Pass of troggs. You’ve taken on those who have attempted to compromise the security of Ironforge. You have explored all of Azeroth, done your best to prove yourself to the Explorers League, founded the Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club, served as an ambassador… My goodness! When do you sleep?”
“Sometimes I doze off and let Bronzefeather navigate on his own,” I admitted.
“Ah ha! You successfully met a high standard necessary for being accepted as a Gryphon Rider!”
“Just in time for every-bloody-body with enough gold saved up to buy a permit to be able to fly around,” I pointed out.
“Whether or not every engineer in the lab builds the same gizmo isn’t the point, Fizzy. The point is that the one you built works!”
He made a good point there.
“You’ve fought back the Scourge in the Plaguelands, traveled through the Dark Portal, and contributed to efforts in Northrend on two distinctly different fronts. I understand your doubts about your contributions, but I feel compelled to remind you that only those deemed heroic enough to be able to perform at a certain level of effectiveness were sent at all. You aren’t a Crusader like your brother, this is true. You are, however, an Argent Champion. Be proud of what you accomplish and the effort you make. It is illogical and counter-productive to hold yourself up to your brother as a measure of your self-worth. You will always interpret the results as a failure if you do. Fizzy Stouthammer cannot be Friginne Stouthammer. For obvious biological reasons, of course… though I suspect there may be a schematic in Tinker Town for something to override that.”
“What about my not being able to get on so well with folks?” I asked him. “Why am I expected to like all our allies and hate every member of the Horde I see, without even getting to know them first?”
“You don’t have to get along with every member of each of our allies. The humans are our allies. The members of the Defias Brotherhood were humans. I don’t believe I ever heard that cited as a reason not to help the people of Stormwind do something about the problems they had with the Defias Brotherhood, though. The Twighlight’s Hammer cult has been recruiting members from all races for many years. I’m not much of a combat specialist, but if a member of the cult showed up here in the library I doubt I’d hesitate to fight back merely based on an analysis of the origin of their ancestors. And, of course, with that research on the trolls and the oozes…”
“I think I see your point,” I told him.
It’s not the first time I’ve found myself being corrected about thinking my actions aren’t very heroic. I suppose it’s just hard for myself to see doing things that need to be done as “being heroic”. My brother pledged himself to the Ironforge military for many years. Then he pledged himself to serving the Light. He’s been through intense training, and followed orders even when he didn’t care for those orders. He’s faced the worst things imaginable, and even some of the worst things that can’t be imagined… they just show up in front of yourself one day. Myself, however… I go about my way. I struggled along as a mage when I couldn’t be accepted as a priestess. What passes for “training” for myself is really just some instruction now and then, nothing like military training. I found my peace in traveling the world with animals as my friends after I gave up that mage foolishness. I’m no sharpshooter. I can track nearly anything, and I can lay out a decent trap. I can put a suffering animal out of its misery, and I can shoot well enough to prevent a dangerous individual from getting very far or hurting very many. Mostly, though, I love to travel and learn. I love exploration and innovation. I just help folks along the way when I can because I can’t stand to see them struggling or hurting.
Is that really all it takes to be heroic?
I spoke to Doktor Professor Ironpants before I headed home. He said he’d heard I’ve resigned my position as an ambassador, after all. I told him there doesn’t seem to be much of a need for myself doing that work anymore. The Bael’dun digsite was bad enough to see, and traveling through some of those areas of Kalimdor is more dangerous these days than disguising myself as a Blood Elf can fix. I don’t know what’s got the Horde so riled up… it seems unlikely that this is really about the Wrathgate anymore… but they don’t seem too interested in letting myself get through to check on things. Even though it’s not in Kalimdor, and not a digsite, I went by to check on the folks at Dun Garok. It seems the Forsaken ones finally won the battle, and the place just feels wrong. Not the sort of wrongness I felt when I rode through to Grim Batol back before those orcs started up trouble there again, but perhaps a haunted feeling. And the Explorers League has folks stationed everywhere these days, anyhow. I figure I can be of more use to them as an archaeologist.
Ironpants said that’s exactly what he was hoping I would say. He was fairly impressed by that old chalice I recovered, and even more impressed by that skeletal raptor that runs around. I pointed out Whelgar’s got a whole dig full of those raptors now, and I did try to warn them all that digging there might not have been the best idea. Then Ironpants asked myself if I’d be willing to be known as “Assistant Professor Fizzy Stouthammer”.
It looks like I may have a new job. I’ll get started as soon as Winter Veil is over!