A Mercenary's Confession Overheard outside Malah's in Harogath.. Malah: So, how can I help you today? Merc: Well, I think my mistress is trying to kill me! Malah: That's a serious charge. What makes you think she would do such a thing? Merc: She took away the wonderful gear she gave me. Cruel stygian pike with massive leech, Black Hades armor with three enhanced damage jewels, that green helm with crushing blow.. Malah: Did she give you any replacements? Merc: Yeah, I got a leather armor made by some company named "Cracked." Malah: Maybe you should start at the beginning. What's your name? Merc: Waheed, although everyone calls me "Warhead." Malah: Well, Warhead, tell me about your mistress. Warhead: She's a level 92 hybrid zon. We've been together since her first trip to nightmare act two. Malah: That's a long time. Did you recently have a falling out with her? Warhead: I'm not sure. I mean, we don't really communicate much. Malah: What do you mean? Warhead: Well, when she talks out loud, it's some language I don't understand, nothing like Arreatish. Sometimes words appear above her head, but I can't read. Malah: And has this happened much lately? Warhead: Our last trip out she was swearing a lot. I may not know the language but I know what cussing sounds like. Malah: Why don't you tell me what happened on your last trip out? Warhead: It wasn't unusual in any way. I mean, I just did what I always do. Malah: Start at the beginning of the run. Warhead: Okay. We popped into existence in Harogath in that weird way it happens, you know. Not like waking up and going to work, just BAM and you're there. Anyway, mistress cast one of those nasty valkyries and we hit the waypoint to one of the ice caverns. Malah: I take it you don't get along with the valkyries? Warhead: : Insufferable witches if you ask me. They've gotten a lot worse since the beginning of Age 110, but they've always had their glowing noses stuck up in the air. They think they're so good, then why can't they get gear custom configured like a merc? Malah: Go on. Warhead: Anyway, like I said, it was just your typical day, nothing at all out of the ordinary. Mistress and the valkyrie would take off in one direction, and I struck out on my own, as far as my leash would let me go. Malah: Your leash? Warhead: Yeah, you know, that magical thread that keeps you from getting too far away from your mistress. I like to go right out to the limit of mine. Malah: I see. Then what happened? Warhead: Well, the mistress really likes slaying monsters. I mean, like she's got this obsession with it or something. Like all the demons of hell would come boiling out of the ground if she didn't, you know? Anyway, I try real hard to please her, so there I am at the limit of my leash, and I popped some monsters - Malah: Wait a minute.. popped? Warhead: Woke them up. Got close enough to them to activate their homing instinct and get them to attack. Malah: Got it. Go ahead. Warhead: So I popped some monsters, and it looked like a good pack of them too. At least seven frenzytaurs and an extra-fast, extra-strong boss with fanaticism. Malah: Then what did you do? Warhead: The same thing as usual. I took off as fast as I could run toward my mistress. Malah: I see. Then what happened? Warhead: Well, like I told you, she really likes killing monsters. So she had this pack of like mana burn physical immune ghosts she was tangling with when me and the frenzytaurs came running into the battle. Malah: Then what did you do? Warhead: I kept running. Like I said, I like to explore the limits of my leash, so I went as far in the opposite direction as I could to see if there were more monsters I could pop and bring back to the mistress. Malah: I think I'm beginning to understand. What did you do next? Warhead: Well, I kept thinking I was forgetting something, and then I remembered that I was supposed to activate my might aura. I'm really forgetful about that thing. So I turned that on, but the mistress for some reason called a retreat. Malah: So you backed away from the battle? Warhead: Yes, but I walked real slow. I didn't want the monsters to think I was a coward or anything. Besides, it would have looked bad in front of the valkyrie. I can't stand that. Malah: Did the monsters give chase? Warhead: You know it. They were pissed to the max for some reason. You know how the minions of hell are - they always have something hot and sulfurous stuck up their behinds. Malah: And then what happened? Warhead: I was fighting a valiant rear-guard action, making sure that I didn't kill anything the mistress might want to kill later. We whipped around a bend in the cavern and lost the boss pack. It was kind of a shame. They look real neat when they double-swing those axes. They make these little swoops in the air.. Malah: Let's get back to the run. After you lost the boss pack, what did you do? Warhead: Well, it looked like the mistress was reloading her belt, so I self-healed a little while I waited. Then she took off down an unexplored corridor. Malah: And? Warhead: And the mistress walked smack into another boss pack. From where I was, it looked like might-enchanted frenzytaurs, but I might have been wrong. Malah: Wait a minute.. what do you mean "from where you were?" Weren't you in the battle? Warhead: Oh, heck no! You see, the mistress had walked around a corner. I don't do corners so well. I may be level ninety-one and have the ability to deal awesome damage, but I'm no genius, you know. And those corners can be mighty tough to get around. Sometimes I have to stand in the corner until that magic "ping!" goes off and I teleport to the mistress on the other side of the dungeon. But not this time. Malah: Why not? Warhead: Because the mistress town-portaled back to Harogath. That's when she started stripping gear off me. Malah: Did she say anything? Warhead: Nothing I could understand, but she seemed upset. I thought she was going to upgrade my equipment so we could go back out there, but she didn't. Malah: Did anything else happen? Warhead: No. Well, actually, that darn valkyrie kept pointing at me and laughing. But you know how they are. All those "castables" are a bunch of freaks. Tyreal only knows what they consider funny, anyway. Malah: Okay, I think I've got the picture. Warhead: Good, because I don't want what happened to my predecessor to happen to me. Malah: What's that? Warhead: Well, old mercs don't get fired. When the boss doesn't want us anymore, and they can't hire someone at the same level, they just take us out into a fight we can't win and then abandon us. Malah: Can't you be ressurected? Warhead: Sure, assuming the boss will actually do it. Now that I've been stripped of my gear, I'm afraid my minutes are numbered. Malah: Funny you should use that phrase. Warhead: No, I mean it literally. See those gold numbers up there in the corner of the sky? Malah: Ah yes, what Anya calls the "essojay counter." Warhead: Well, I've got this sinking suspicion that it has something to do with how long I have to live. Malah: I see. Well, why don't you take this potion? Warhead: Is it to help me sleep? Malah: Sort of. It will make you proof against pain. I have the feeling you'll be needing it soon..