by Betria Eilyn Tallrock
Blacksmiths all over Azeroth have been reported a substantial increase in bayonet sales in the past few weeks. Gunsmiths and engineers have also seen a similar increase in requests for mounting blades and spikes on the end of blunderbusses, shotguns, muskets and rifles of all kinds.
Johann Goodiron, head of the Ironmongers blacksmithing guild and former sharpshooter in the Alliance Expedition in Northrend , postulates that rangers, marksmen and other ranged combatants without magical aptitude are adapting to an evolving, more vicious and shorter- ranged battlefield. “In the past”, says Mr. Goodiron, “we could get around with a backup sword or axe or two, depending on your style and race. More recently, practical rangers and hunters started carrying bigger, more powerful staffs and spears to finish off or at least keep enemies away.”
“But things have changed lately”, continues the retired soldier, who was forced along with his wife and young daughter out of their farm home in Redridge by an orcish attack. “Our enemies are tougher and faster now, you can’t count on having the time to put your gun away and pull out your backup weapon. When you see a raging orc berserker or Twilight’s hammer cultist running your way with murder in his eyes, you want to have something ready for them right now.”
A quick survey in the goblin city of Booty Bay reveals that even members of the Horde have started to consider bayonets to be more than just a decorative element in their guns. In an environment increasingly less friendly to ranged combatants, close-up offensive power is now more important than ever. And the easiest way to get that extra power seems to be a good, trusty bayonet.
Others have embraced deeper changes to their technique. Bow users, not having the option to use their weapons as spears when the need arises, have started practicing reflex shots, pulling and releasing the string before a possible assailant can strike. The graceful Sentinels of Darnassus, for example, have been training to dodge attacks while putting their legendary aim to work. “Breaking the habit of trying to move away is a difficult task,” One of the Sentinels in training told the Bloomin’ Paper, “but when you are facing an enemy that’s closing in faster than you can escape, standing up to it is sometimes the only option.”
Even some traditional gun-wielders have started to modify their practices. Daera Brightspear, who has trained scores of young marksdwarves and is often credited as one of the creators of the widely-used defensive technique known as the scatter shot, has started to drill her pupils into not only the use of bayonets and point-blank shots, but also on how to turn a heavy musket into a deadly head-cracking device. “We hafta change our ways. Back then, we got attacked, we jes’ moved outta tha way an’ put ourselves at range again.”, she comments, watching a class of her students locked in a furious but highly educative brawl, hitting each other with their practice rifles. “Nowadays, if a foe is tryin’ ta hit ye with a big weapon, ye gotta show ’em yer packin’ somethin’ jes’ as big, more sophisticated an’ far more deadly than they are. Make ’em regret lookin’ at ye funny!”