A Second Chance (To [verb] Your [noun] - or - I Swear I Didn't Intend to Write Two Flashbacks in a Row)
It was really quite a pleasant thing that Azuremyst Isle had clean, non-irradiated water again, because while the soaking tubs of the Exodar were quite nice, they had nothing on dunking oneself in the chill rapids of a flowing stream in late spring. Diyos would never call himself an ascetic, but he did indulge in the occasional austerity for austerity's sake.
Like today, when his head was so muddled over whether he ought to go back to Stormwind or stick around and find that scary former Auchenai he'd been told to train. A bracing few minutes in the stream were supposed to help him clear his mind.
Instead, he was just cold.
Grumpy about it, Diyos walked back onto the bank and swiped his towel off the low-hanging tree branch. Toweling off his wildly curly hair, he still couldn't decide if this new duty was really worth the trouble. As he bent his head to see his own hands so he could wrap the towel around his hips without it falling into the mud, his eyes caught the jagged, sky-blue line dragging just beneath his ribs on the right side.
It didn't hurt. Not yet. He was still too busy staring in wide-eyed in shock at the youth - surely not more than an adolescent from his gawky frame - who stood hoof to hoof with him, a twisted sneer on his boyish face as his hands were stained a dark navy with Diyos' blood. In the rapidly narrowing frame of the priest's vision, the boy's sudden rage and violence was backlit with the bright red robe of the female crumpled on the floor, her ears and nose leaking the same dark navy which once moved life.
Priest and boy stood in a circle drawn in charcoal and blood on the floor of the female's spare dwelling on the edge of the settlement. They hadn't even named this planet yet, and already they were finding their first settlement too confining. Fetid rot filled the air. Not the female, she was quite freshly dead. The smell came from the recently exhumed remains of her mate arranged in the center of the room-spanning magic circle.
She'd gone mad with grief, susceptible to the twisted whispers of foul man'ari magics. But as - oh, hey, there's the pain - Diyos was beginning to realize, she wasn't the only one to have gone man'ari here at the edge of town. Vision dimming further, Diyos reached his hands out as if to embrace the youth who'd put the serrated knife into his abdomen. A mental-half step to the side, and the shadows - easy to reach in this ritual charnel house - flowed into him. It was only seasons upon seasons of strict discipline which allowed him to keep the shadow magic's glee in check, making the youth's death swift and clean. One quick shadow spike to the brainpan. The unholy red light in the youth's eyes winked out and his hands dropped away from the dagger, leaving it embedded in Diyos' side as the youth's body toppled over, leaking blood from his nose and ears.
Come away with us, the shadows whispered. Your pain will go away. All your pain will go away. It will become someone else's problem. Come with us.
"No." With just that word, a word borne of immeasurable time spent being trained by the Hand to refuse, Diyos pushed the shadows away. He was a male of the Light. His work was in service to his people. He did what must be done. A faint scent of spiced honey gone rancid wafted past his nose as the door to the dwelling was yanked open. There were shouts, recognizable as his fellow man'ari hunters. He smelled charcoal. Oh. It was because he was lying on his face on the necromancy circle. He really hoped they didn't bring him back from the dead...
Long, thin indigo fingers set on a hand the size of a human dinner plate traced along the scar below his ribs. He'd almost died that evening. And two people did. A female and a youth.
Come to us. Retreat, and we will undo your sins, hide your pai-...
He was a male of the Light and would not undo his hard work for any magic promise.
Realization struck and he sighed at the flowing stream. "Dammit!" he muttered, kicking the bank and getting splashed by the mud he dislodged into the water. He'd be staying to train Elysium's new priest. If nothing else, he would teach the male how to deny the whispers of his old ways.