Today morning I had a random bout of inspiration. This is the story of Joe “Sells All” McGann, a death knight who was strangely enough an auctioneer for the Black Market. Tower of Krasha met him on Thursday while chasing some shady people trafficking humanoids.
It really started when they put me under the noose. You see, back in life, I was a convicted murderer in Havenshire. I found my wife cheating on me, so I killed them both. I regretted it immediately. There’s not much to say about that. I walked onto those gallows without saying a word. I spoke a silent prayer and hoped it would be over soon. When they pulled the trigger, I remember hearing this snapping sound and realizing it was my neck. You know, not many people realize, hanging isn’t supposed to choke the life out of you. It’s supposed to break your neck to kill you instantly. Some people just convulse after they’ve already been dead and the onlookers think they’re choking.
I don’t know if I convulsed, but I remembered a chill coming over me as I looked at my body from above. Just hanging limp under a noose as the crowd cheered. I finally realized it was over. But I was still there, hovering in the air, so there must be something more, I thought… until it all just went cold and dark and that’s the last thing I remember.
At least until I felt a join of pain going through my entire body and I gasped for air. Not because I needed to, but I suppose it was just an instinct. My empty lungs called for air they didn’t need as I opened my eyes to try to make sense of what was happening. My eyes must have rotten in the meantime because a mist of red magic was filling them to make them work and coloring everything I looked at. And what I looked at was a man, clad in thick dark armor, pointing a runed sword at me.
“Arise,” spoke two voices at once, “and carry out my will.” Without thinking, I arose and looked at the man. There was a man inside that armor, but something else spoke with him, and both voices reverberated with something deeply chilling. But I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t shocked. I couldn’t really feel anything. I was just trying to make sense of it, when it clicked. The stories I heard, but never gave much thought to. This was the legendary Lich King. And I have just been chosen.
When they put me inside this restrictive plate armor and gave me an axe, they sent me out into the fields where the farmers were still plowing them like nothing happened. And as I looked onto them, I remember finally feeling something. Something like a… hunger. A deep internal drive pushing me to do something. At first I didn’t know what I craved, but as I looked deeper at the farmers, I realized it.
Something dark in my soul was calling for blood.
Before I even came close, I imagined a dozen different ways I could end their lives. I could decapitate them. I could cut their throats and watch their lifeblood drain away. I could cut open their guts and see the shock as they watch their own innards spill out. Or I could just stab them a dozen times like I did my wife. And it felt me with… joy.
But I didn’t even choose the method of their execution when something pushed me forward. It wasn’t a physical force, or any mental drive now built into me, but it felt like my legs just took off on their own and walked me towards the farmers. I didn’t resist it, because I had no desire to. I just knew it was driving me towards sating that strange hunger.
And it did sate it. As the scared farmers and their wives and children fell and their blood stained my armor, I felt good. I felt like I just came back from a long day of work and bit into a big, nicely roasted chicken. I felt the fulfillment like I did when my wife was younger and still slept in my bed. This was good, I thought, and I gave no further consideration for the lives of the people standing in my way. I just let that invisible force keep pushing me forward. It knew better than me what I needed.
I could go on about that time for a while, but long story short, I killed people without thinking, because I let that force drive me. But with time, that force grew weaker. It stopped pushing me and I had to start acting on my own. Even without the invisible hand of the Lich King, that “hunger” was still there. I still had to go out to kill the Scarlet Crusaders to feel good and I told myself I’m doing good because Scarlet Crusade are bad people. But that was when I realized I was starting to justify things. I was starting to consider good and evil again. I was… thinking again.
Then the events at Light’s Hope Chapel came about. I could go on describing it for hours, but you all know the story. The Lich King sent us to die, the paladins won, the Lich King ran. And we were free. No more invisible hand guiding us again. Mograine gave me a letter and told me to go to Stormwind through some portal and report to Alliance armed forces.
Here I was, still struggling with the thought of what I’m going to do with myself now, still burdened with this hunger and a desire to just gut every living man I saw standing around me, when he just gives me a letter. He tells me to go to Stormwind? Through a portal? Join the Alliance? For all of my life, these were just stories. Some distant places and concepts I was told exist as a child, but I didn’t need them in my life. Now they just expected me, a killing machine fresh off the chopping block, as the executioner, and just… go into a city. A huge city. One of the largest on the planet, as I’ve been told. Why wouldn’t I just… start killing every man, woman and child when I get there? It’s hard enough to look at this tauren and not come up with “beef” jokes to make after I separate his flesh from his bones.
But I was never taught to question orders. Not in life, not in undeath. So I went to the portal, and I remember looking at it and just thinking “that’s odd”. Never seen a portal in my life before. It was like a big lamp with a picture of another city painted on it. A still bright and living city, not like the smoldering piece of hot garbage Havenshire turned into. So how do I do it, I thought, do I just.. touch it?
I walked through it like I would through a window and ended up in front of the largest gate I’ve seen until then. Two enormous, wooden doors were standing sprung open, as a bricked valley, filled with imposing statues of heroes of old lied before me. The statues seemed to look down on me and judge me. I forgot about the hunger for a moment. I just didn’t want to disappoint the huge, marble, bearded man, nor look him straight in the eyes. I just followed the other death knights.
As we walked, everyone swore at us or hid in their homes. Perhaps that’s for the best, I thought. I didn’t know if I could control myself if I saw people just talking, with their necks and bellies exposed like pigs waiting for slaughter. The rotten fruit and fish weren’t necessary, the stares and the voices were enough to make me feel unwelcome. I deserved it, I thought, and never reacted.
They told us to go to Northrend! Northrend! They suddenly expected me to start going all over the world and kill people for them. I mean, what was the difference between serving the Lich King and the Alliance? Both saw me as a living weapon. And while the latter wasn’t literally pulling strings on my legs, I bet it still wished it could. Was I liberated from the Lich King for this? To now start killing the other people? And I was told a conflict with the Horde was still looming in the distance, so they would then expect me to start killing orcs and trolls? I’ve never even seen an orc. I saw a troll once, when I was a child, and he or she was tied up to a post and children threw half-eaten fruit at it. Much like they did to me now. Just… a monster to use.
I supposed I really was a monster now. Perhaps it was the best use of me so that I didn’t kill anyone innocent in the city. But then this barmaid came to me. I was sitting in an inn thinking of it all, by the way. The barmaid was clearly terrified, her hands were shaking and her eyes were huge, but she was trying to keep her composure.
“Can I,” she said with a shaking voice, “Can I get you anything, sir?”
I looked at her and felt pity. I didn’t feel hungry, or thirsty. Not since my rude awakening a while back. I just sat down in an inn to think out of habit. I just grinned my half-rotten teeth and replied “No, ma’am, I’m not hungry.”
The girl quickly bowed and left in relief, but I realized something. That strange hunger wasn’t there anymore. I looked at the girl and didn’t imagine the ways I could kill her. I didn’t feel the drive to just plunge a knife into something for relief. Somewhere in the time I was walking down the streets while people were throwing their rubbish at me it just… disappeared and I didn’t even notice. Or maybe, an apple core just hit the right spot on my head, heh. Either way… the hunger was gone. I was free. Truly free.
For the longest time, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t need to eat or sleep. I didn’t need to work. All I needed was to take care of my body so that I don’t fall apart completely. I’m already a grizzly enough sight without becoming a walking skeleton. After some time, people were more willing to give me work. Mostly physical. Carrying boxes, lifting heavy loads most living could not. I built a house once. The family was happy and their son even hugged me, even though they told me to cover my face.
Some time after the war in Pandaria had started, I was approached by a pandaren. Curious creatures, when you first see them. It’s like a bear walked upright, but it’s covered in this silly looking pattern that looks like a child had drawn on it. But it bears itself absolutely seriously and doesn’t realize it’s a walking cartoon. But this cartoon had a job for me. He told me of a powerful woman – or a bear – in his land, known as Madame Goya. He told that she needed someone to take care of auctions. But, I told him, I’ve never conducted auctions, not in this life or the former one. “That’s okay,” he said, “we’ll teach you everything you need to know. You just need to look scary.” That I could do.
So that’s where you found me now. After a while, I got used to this job. Some sense of humor of my past life woke up when I started talking to people again. I started making up wild stories about the items we were selling. I was no longer hungry. I was no longer afraid of anything. So what if someone kills me? It would just all be over. There was nothing beyond that I remembered. I could just let my mind run wild and look cool – and scary – while I’m still here.
Judge me if you must. I was a bad man. I was a killer. Then I was a puppet in the hands of someone else. And then I was a lost drifter that happened to look like he just walked out of his grave. Now I am a vendor. Joe “Sells All” McGann, they call me, because there’s nothing I couldn’t sell. It helps that I look like I’ve seen some things, and the items being delivered are some of the weirdest fucking things in the world. If you want to kill me, do it now. I won’t care. I’ll just go back to that cold, empty space and be at rest.
But if you don’t do that… I’m sure I can find a necklace that will go perfectly with that sexy dress.