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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.
Entry 1- Supplies
But I did not deserve this. She was quick, certainly. Dr. Nicholas Hawtrey would have to concede that. In all his studies of Lordaeron literature, death was a slow, arduous process. It creeped upon a man, hiding in the dense foliage of Tirisfal's tree tops like an out-of-place Stranglethorn panther hissing quietly as the living tried to ignore her. She was a disease, a slow time bomb that allowed a man to contemplate every mistake in his life, to fall back on irrational gestures and faiths in some vain attempt to be with his loved ones for just one more minute as each calendar day walked a man through the stages of grief. And she did walk with that man.
But no, not for Dr. Hawtrey; this happened in that minute. And it hurt. He laughed at first, pointed and laughed, spitting blood. Do you know who I am? It was defiance, he now realized, because subconsciously he knew that this would happen. He knew that she would win their duel, that he was a mortal and that death, in her just ways, relied only on chance to choose her victims. His extensive knowledge of the arcane, hundreds of books written and read, and even quick feet - none of these mattered to her. It didn't matter that the bumbling farm boy was alive, already sprinting through the farm fields as the Forsaken war machine marched through Hillsbrad. It didn't matter that Dr. Hawtrey showed an act of heroism for the first time in his life today. It didn't matter that he was holding the line for the poor citizens of Hillsbrad, a shining example of hope amongst a dying people. It didn't matter that he could win. She chose him today.
He wasn't even tired. He could feel it, the fatigue that warned of the inevitable failure of his body, but his mind kept him spry. He didn't even think of how draining this futile exercise was. He had made a promise to Mrs. Keller that he would protect her home, protect her boy. He held her pendant in his hand like it was some arcane focus. It wasn't, but it empowered him like no magical amulet could. Fueled by love, the dead burned around him. He was aware of the cliche and the humor kept the smile from falling from his face.
But she rose above the horde. She flew, an angel of white to report the afterlife to the men who so defiantly hated the idea of it. For a moment, he thought it a symbol for the stand that he and the farmhands were making on this hill. He had never seen such a creature before. They would live this day, he thought, and this image of the Light would be marked on the books as the moment that life overcame death. He thought.
She didn't even swing her sword. She merely floated by each man, tapping them like a Queen knights her men, each man falling over and succumbing to restless sleep. When she came to Dr. Hawtrey, he could see her smiling underneath that monstrous helm that hid soulless eyes. She knighted him, shoulder to heart. Conquer his head, conquer his heart.
He fell over. He knew the moment was close, that he was only seconds away from a memorable, glorious moment that ever warrior dreamt of. He tried to think clearly: what did he know of death? How could he accept it? Smile, Doctor, smile. Think of Emily. Think of the western wind of Lordaeron's summer. Think of your father. Your mother. As each image was conjured in his mind, each was subsequently destroyed. He couldn't think of the warm breeze or the warmth of his parents' arms. Of his lover's arms. He could only feel cold, a chill that wrapped around him like a snake's death-embrace, filling each of his veins like a poison: not ruining his blood but replacing it.
She was quick. He would give her that.
Yes, of course. You can write about anything, honestly. Even non WoW related. Though I prefer you stick to WoW and I prefer you post with your main characters even if the story is not about them. (Some of you don't show alts as per Lito's addon, so take that into consideration)
Posting on Diyos because the addon will show posts from the same account if they're on the same page (presumably to discourage sock-puppet bumping or the like).
So if I do write about one of my other characters, still post it on Valdiis - the name I started with. Just like I did, right? (I mostly didn't take the prompt on Val this time because I felt I'd give away clues to current plot-points if I did. But that's probably a cop-out to hide "I wasn't creative enough to think beyond the really obvious thing she'd change.")
Yes, you don't have to apply the topic to your main. I wrote about my alts all through the other site write, but still posted them up on Venita.
I could read the addon, but.. I am expecting more people than the last round (at least as I am told in game) so for the sake of keeping my sanity, I just ask that you do post on your main at all times, but I won't be hurt either way.
IN OTHER WORDS. DO WHAT YOU WANNA DO, I just was laying out my preference, that is all. \o
Second Chances, or, 'I write about dead guys a lot.'
Once upon a time, there were two men who died and became geists.
Their names did not mean much in life, and in death they became eternally lost. As conventions go, they were eventually given new names after their tenure in the Lich King's service came to an end. One was named Renfield, and the other was named Lackey.
To continue the story about Renfield and Lackey, an aside must be made, and that aside is about the Bizarre. The Bizarre is a living, breathing entity (for generous uses of those terms) within the bowels of Acherus where the members and minions of the Ebon Blade come to the closest to being truly human that they can manage: They gather, trade, perhaps even eat something, and they tell stories. Ghouls, Geists, Abominations (whom are always referred to as 'they', 'we', or 'them', as they're a self-contained community) all trade what they may have found during their time of service to Highlord Mograine, the Ashen Verdict, or those elite reprobates known better as Death Knights who were ordered to serve the Blade by serving their King, Warchief, or whatever being they took a knee before in life.
It was at the Bizarre that a question was posed: What, if anything, would you go back to change? Would you flee south, out of Lordaeron? Shoot Arthas with an arrow? Join the Silver Hand?
Renfield and Lackey scoffed at this question.
"That is easy!" said Renfield. "Simplicity itself!" cried Lackey.
"We have already done it!" they chorused.
In a bustling metropolis of the dead, it's difficult to find silence. This is because the universe is powered by irony, and little is more ironic than a community of beings that should be as quiet as the tomb showing more life than the Exodar during Noblegarden.
And yet, for the briefest of moments, the Bizarre was absolutely silent.
"Rggrgrawwglglrgh!" cried a Ghoul (which, as it happened, was Ghoul for "Please explain, sirs, as few have ever experienced this kind of wonder before.")
"We were given the option to return by one of the Infinite Dragonflight!" Renfield noted. "To change one event in our lives!" added Lackey.
"We had to take it up on its offer!" they cried in unison.
"Rgl?" ("And I believe any of us would, sirs, but please tell us - what did you do?")
"We lived in the town of Andorhal!" Renfield exclaimed. "We were assistants to the mayor of the town!" added Lackey.
"The Infinite Dragons took us to the evening before the city fell!" Renfield continued. "Yes, to the time when we could effect the most change in our lives!" Lackey added.
"And there we were, in our beloved city, alive again to change one moment!" they exclaimed in unison.
The hush came over the Bizarre again. Corpses of all shapes and sizes pressed in on the two Geists to hear what happened next. The unofficial spokesbody, the Ghoul queried, "ARglgr?" ("What a dream, to live again, to breathe the sweet air and feel the cool upon your skin! To walk in the moonlight and ne'er feel the pang of hunger for flesh, to merely be and not exist. Aie! I wax poetic during your tale, pray continue!")
"We moved with purpose!" Renfield cried. "Our goal was clear!" Lackey agreed.
"We went to the Inn, and we had the roast beef dinner!"
The nature of the silence changed. It went from a polite, rapt, engaged silence to one chilled with the hint of malice. It was the type of silence one found when sipping a fine Gilnean Red and finding a rather cheeky Forsaken had left a...cheek in your glass.
"It was the best, tenderest roast beef we had ever eaten," Renfield temporized. For once, Lackey was silent in polite remembrance of his last meal.
Edited by Eredis on 5/8/2012 6:41 PM PDT
Standing in the center of the room, she was still and silent, but the glisten within eyes azure spoke volumes. They were met with a pair nearly identical, creasing with a smile that was meant to reassure, to convince, but it was fruitless. The man, tall and blonde, was suited in armor with purposeful flourish; the shield strapped to his back was nearly as tall as he, and the glaive held in strong hands was taller still. The door was cracked open, and he had already stepped halfway outside when he turned to look at her.
"'Rexi." He prompted, his voice a low rumble that was bereft of the foolhardy confidence it was so known for. The sound of the endearment sparked her body into motion, not of a forward stride, the careless looping of limbs around shoulders that were made for them, but of a shudder that gave a tremble to her spine, seized and shook fingers, hands, arms, and even jarred the line of her shoulders.
"Lethandrian." She did not sound like a stalwart defender of Quel'Thalas, a scrawny meek girl taking her place. There was a quiver to her lips as her mouth moved with the intention to speak, but she never made it that far. His voice was quicker than her own, but it was with haste that he spoke them, words rushed and almost boyish before he stepped out the door, "Love you, sugar. I'll write, promise."
A bent elbow provided a rest for her weary head, her palm a calloused cushion against the crinkling skin of her forehead. The apartment was empty, and snakes of violet smoke coiled in the air, embers glowing a dim orange in the basin of a hookah, still alive from recent use. Shirexia's eyes were closed, but the restlessness that brought life to her fingertips soon spread to her hand, and even farther still until the entirety of her arm twitched and spasmed against the table below.
The chair she sat upon was carved with elaborate designs, the craftsmanship impeccable, but still it creaked and groaned even when she was still. Across from her was the entrance to the apartment; the door was tall and heavy, sturdy as the trees that it had been wrought from. She had opened her eyes by then, and it was with eyelids drawn half-mast that she stared at the bolts attached, polished knobs and the bright, flowing curtains that added a tasteful flair to earthy brown and slate gray. With her hand still shaking with disobedience, she drew it up to join the other underneath her jaw, and giving into the weariness that sagged her shoulders, accomodated a downward tilt of her chin that was less than proud, she sank it against knuckles and closed her eyes again.
Shirexia balled her hands into tightly-wound fists, her knuckles white and aching as she stared at her husband. A gauntlet squeezed against the doorknob, holding fast the door ajar as he remained awkwardly in place, as if caught between two strings; both of them tugged with a remarkable strength, and it made his head dizzy.
"'Rexi." He said to her, the rumble of baritone a welcome ring to her ears. With jaw steeled, feet planted into the floor, solid and sure, but there was defiance in her eyes that swirled with a fierceness that was difficult to argue with. "I'll -- uh, write to you and --"
In an instant, her hand was upon his, clamping over his fingers to gain control of the doorknob, and with a force that was swift-to-come and full of determination, she reeled backwards and sent the door slamming shut; the hinges groaned in opposition, and the bellow of wood and steel echoed throughout their home. Shirexia pressed her back against the door, but never did her eyes leave his, and it was with certainty unparalleled that she spoke, "No, you will not. You are staying."
And so he did.
"Yes." But a whisper, it carried enough weight to constrict her throat, render her speech subdued, small, heavy with grief. The moon rose up over the verdant canopies of Eversong, followed by the sun come morning and then again, again, again. Her plea for the cycle to slow, to spark a motion reverse went unanswered. Time continued ticking endlessly forward, and she remained at the table alone.
Edited by Shirexia on 5/8/2012 9:02 PM PDT
Entry 1! Surprise It's short because 'surprise' WAS a toughie.
There was no surprise in waking up to a corpse in her bed. She opened her eyes and he did not. She exhaled weeks of expectation and her breath fluttered the hair near his still face.
Later, the servants placed their master’s body on the pyre that had been built weeks ago. An extravagant bird was shaped over it, one that reached paper wings up to the sun. She held his son’s hand as dawn peaked and the fire took. His father's spirit would travel with the sun through the sky, she whispered. The wings were flame now, as flesh melted from bone. The servants began to distribute food among the guests. Everything had gone to plan.
Except she was crying. That was new.
Edited by Cythe on 5/12/2012 4:19 AM PDT
Entry 2! Back in time.
The end of the storm brought the clearest night sky Themi had ever seen. A hundred million lights pierced the dark, illuminating the snowy desolation of Dragonblight. She lay flat on her back and drank in the sight, numb with cold but no longer regretting their lack of fire. The lights and smoke of army camps had masked this brilliance.
A memory resurfaced. “We’ll see the same stars, you and me. Look up at them when you get lonely.” he’d said in empty comfort. How often had he looked up at these pitiless twinklers? Had they stared back down at his corpse, high as lords? The silence was suddenly unbearable.
“Tom?” Themi said and nudged her head back against the leg it rested on. It shifted underneath the furs of its sleeping bag. “Tom? You can’t seriously be asleep.”
“Was makin’ a go of it.” came an answering grunt. “What’s up?”
“What were them called, ones that made Ulduar?”
“Titans.” Tom said, sitting up with a groan and reaching for the medicinal brandy. “Why?”
“Say one of them zoomed down from wherever to do you a favour...”
“Why’d they do that?” Tom said with a tongue still thick from sleep, focused on carefully unscrewing the top of the battered flask in his hand.
Themi frowned up at the stars. “A’right, you suspicious old fool. Say you stumbled off to take a leak, and it turns out you’d pissed on the big toe of one of them Titans. Only he was proper grateful cos his feet were as cold as ours and you probably just saved him from frostbite. So he does you a favour.”
“Makes me an elf lady outta snow, with big snowy pil-”
“No.” Themi interrupted. “No he don’t. He sends you back through time and you get to pick a place to land. Where’d it be? What would you do?”
The minutes stretched out, contemplative and silent, with only the glug of swallowed brandy. “Fix the latch on the back gate. Back at me farm.” Tom said finally, quietly. “Sarah was always on at me about that. What would you do?”
“What do you mean, what would I do? I’d warn people. Warn the king.” Themi sat up too now, dislodging the snow that had fallen on top of her and pulling the thick, stinking furs close. Tom’s smile was a half quirk of his lips, faint and melancholy.
“How? Come bursting out of the forest waving your hands around? Smack the bread out of people’s hands? Even if the king’d grant you an audience, telling him that grain’ll turn his subjects into mindless undead beasts is a good way to make it a short one. Nay, common muck like you or me wouldn’t be listened to. Maybe if you had a letter from Tirion Fordring in your hands, but the Titan didn’t wait for that, sounds like.” He handed over the flask in mute apology.
Themi took it in both hands to take a swig. “I guess.” Another swig. “I’d try anyway. Better than bloody home repairs.” She held the brandy back out to him, lips and throat burning but the hot swell of anger kept her warmer. Tom’s hand reached for it.
“Latch on the back gate was jammed for years. Only a strong man straining against the thing would budge it.” The words came slow, heavy with regret as he pushed them off his tongue. “Sarah used to ask me about it every week. Every week! But we barely used it and there’s always things on a farm that need fixin’. More important things, thought I. Just like a bloody woman to complain about a gate when I could barely feed us.”
There was a pause then, a wound opening up big and festering. The sweet rot stink of the memory stained the air.
“Aye. And then the Scourge came. I was trapped in town after drinking away our profits. My wife pushed at that gate until her fingers bled and couldn’t move it. They died there, her and the little ones. I found my youngest propped up against it, like a doll. He died mid scream. When I picked him up, his body came to bits in my arms.” There was a choked sob and Themi leaned into the shaking bulk of him until her sergeant had recovered enough to pretend nothing had happened. A tear froze on his cheek, catching the light like a glinting star.
“I would fix that gate. I would be there for them. I couldn’t save the whole world, Themi. Just mine. But I don’t see any buggering Titans, do you? They must have more important things to fix.”
They stared up into the endless dark between the stars until sleep took them.
Edited by Cythe on 5/12/2012 4:20 AM PDT
I'm not entirely happy with this one, but I am experiencing writer's block at the moment so it'll have to do.
Entry 2: Redo
He remembered it clearly—he’d stood at the threshold of the door and watched while his mother and sisters gathered up provisions and the few valuable things they had, rifle clutched firmly in his hands. His father had said little since the news had arrived, but William knew the old man well enough to fetch what he needed without being asked.
Bill Westminster looked at least twenty years older than he really was. He was a thin man and looked thinner still once he’d buckled his breastplate properly into place, and William was earnestly worried that he wouldn’t be able to support the weight of all his gear. But then he’d thrown his shoulders back and with his sword slung at his side and his shield strapped to his arm he suddenly looked the very image of a stern Lordaeron soldier.
William straightened up to see him this way; if his old man could keep proud bearing even when the undead were crashing down on the surrounding villages, then he could certainly do the same.
“You lot’ll head into the canyons with the other families,” he said simply as he inspected his helmet. “Light willin’, the soldiers an’ the militia will hold the dead back long ‘nuff that you’ll be able to escape into the mountains.”
William stepped forward to stand next to his father, but Bill shoved him away. “That goes for you too, junior.”
He opened his mouth to argue, but the old man cut him off. “Someone’s gotta look after your ma and your sisters, kiddo. It’s an important job and I’m entrustin’ it to you, so don’t you dare let me down.”
Bill looked sternly at his son until he was given a meek nod in reply, and then turned to his wife. He said something quietly to her—William couldn’t hear and didn’t care to eavesdrop anyway—then kissed her and donned his helmet.
He blew out a ring of smoke, which curled up into the night sky and encircled the moon in an indistinct frame. Thinking back to that time was painful, but it was one of the most defining moments of his life and it codified much of who he was.
Still, he’d always regret not telling his old man to go to hell that one time.
Edited by Wilano on 5/9/2012 6:26 AM PDT
Entry 2 - The biggest regret was actually not starting the site writes on time, but oh well, I like doing this
When I first met Dr. Hawtrey, I wasn't certain how to describe the man in my report. I thought him mad and arrogant like any other arcanist of his caliber, a man so distracted by his own work that he forgets himself. Yet, the man is quite aware of his surroundings. He quickly understood I was a deathstalker and that I was there collecting information before I revealed that to him.
Early reports state that the doctor is involved with several arcanists in Dalaran, a few who are oddly nationalists of the Kingdom of Stormwind and Gilneas. As you know, this is uncharacteristic of our doctor since he prides himself in taking part in various Horde excursions and has written several essays on advanced Forsaken war tactics that border on terrorism. See: Arcane-Influenced Diseases and the Human Body.
You've stated multiple times yourself, sir, that neutrality breeds political dissension, so it is my advice that Dr. Hawtrey have an accident in his next field operation. However, before Dr. Hawtrey meets an untimely re-death at the hands of our finest stalkers, I've prepared for you a transcript I overhead two weeks ago being read by the doctor from his personal journal to a woman named Ruth. At this time, we are uncertain who this Ruth character is; we only know that she is Forsaken yet unregistered with the Undercity Census. Attempts to bring the woman in for interrogation have failed - the doctor has put on a clever spell that our arcane researchers are currently working on so we can apprehend this Ruth character.
As promised, the transcript.
Yes, anything is indeed possible with the Arcane. As I've explained before, it is the subtle manipulation of everything in the world, that nothing is exempt from the most clever of mages. Imagine the world as a fabric, a blanket of sorts that covers every aspect of Azeroth. Spatially, chronologically - it is all covered by this blanket. The mage's duty then is to re-thread this fabric, to unwound it and piece it together into a quilt of her choosing. It is how we are masters of teleportation, how we can be in one place and end up in another. Why, Dalaran's brightest are already breaking new ground with time manipulation. Azeroth's most powerful already know how to distort time, to slow and accelerate it for the benefit of her and her allies so that they might appear impossibly faster.
Oh, of course that's possible. Lord Alfred Carlisle of Dalaran actually received the idea after a journey into the Caverns of Time. He is still perfecting the spell, but he will be soon enough be able to change his placement within time, to be outside of it. Whenever a mage manipulates time around certain people, they are temporally displaced, but Lord Carlisle actually believes he can use this to his advantage. To stall death. To change the course of it. Yes, it is indeed a risky experiment. Yes, I'm sure with enough practice you'll be able to do it before me. Now practice your frost spells. Remember, you're influencing temperature of the world around you. You aren't making ice, you're using the water vapor of the air around you and making that cold.
No, I wouldn't use time manipulation to stall death, Ruth. I know you would. I told you not to speak of that again, Ruth. There is nothing to change that. Of course I knew it was her, there on the battlefield. She did not recognize me. We are monsters, according to her. Would I have done that? No, that would only show her that she is as much a monster as me.
The brown locks around her face were unmistakable, the way she walked, the way she carried her shield over her shoulder. I knew it was her, Ruth. She had aged where I hadn't. Azeroth had given her wrinkles. I know the irony in a Forsaken fretting about vanity, but she was still as beautiful as I remember her, despite the age.
And I hated her for it. Such feelings are for the weak, Ruth. Remember that. We are Forsaken now; we have a name to attend to. Her eyes? Yes, I remember the eyes. I remember the sadness, the horror as I ate Emily's frozen flesh, the way she trembled when she recognized the face of the man that would dare bring her to her ruin. But... but... most of all, I remember the pity, Ruth. I remember that she was no longer disgusted, that she felt sorry for me. Do insects sympathize for the boot that crushes them? It was insulting.
Time wouldn't change that. If anything, I would replay that moment again and again so she knew the hatred I feel for her now. To think she thought herself a special child to the Light? Aha! No, Ruth. Remember this lesson: the Light does not care.
Edited by Hawtrey on 5/9/2012 12:55 AM PDT
Entry 3: Worthless
The fireball picked Wilano up off his feet and threw him from the upper gallery, but the shield held. He fell inelegantly some ten feet or more, but a lifetime of training overtook his body and he landed, if not gracefully, then safely. He was surprised by the durability of his borrowed aegis; when he’d found it he had assumed it to be a museum piece, pretty but impractical and gilt with elaborately-patterned gold. But it was as tall as he was and apparently much sturdier as well.
He realised that whoever had forged this must have been a master of his craft, and wondered if he’d overlooked other such treasures delving in.
A grim cackle brought him back to the present and he glanced up to look at his opponent. The warlock was dressed in heavy robes and a tabard which marked her an agent of the Reliquary. She was undeniably powerful; moreover she was clever, at least clever enough to separate Wil from his bow and to fuse his sword into its scabbard.
She stepped up to the edge of the high balcony and levelled a keen gaze on the intrepid treasure hunter. Her face split into a grin as she began to conjure up another spell and her succubus stepped into view behind her. The demon’s whip snapped menacingly and then she leapt from the gallery to the lower floor.
Wilano hissed with exasperation. Normally he would run from such a one-sided fight, but the stakes had just become much higher. He had initially dismissed the contents of this ruin as valueless junk, but her presence here—and the quality of the ancient work of metallurgy he now held—had given him due cause to reconsider that judgement. The Reliquary rarely sent agents into the field alone, and he would certainly not want treasures which belonged to his people to fall into their hands.
He brought his shield up, ready to do battle, even as his mind considered where he would be most likely to find a sword or a glaive that wasn't just a show piece.
((I'm a little late out of the gate, but thankfully a friend reminded me that this is something I ought to take part in. So! I'm going to post the first two now, as I'm not too terribly behind, and get to the third later on this afternoon. Yes.))
The air was cold, quiet, and stunk of the medicinal appeal of any hospital room anywhere. A jagged blot of mountains hung heavy in the distance, peaks shimmering outlined in silver against an absinthe sky of green with yellow swirl. To their credit, all footfalls were silent, the small contingent of Farstriders eking out a path through treacherous terrain with virtuous directive; the zeal of honor sc!!%%** soundless on stone, and the razor burnt fingers clutching from precipice to precipice in endeavor for higher ground.
Beneath them, the ground teemed with legions of bone - animated things scrambling lifeless with one directive: to kill, maim, or capture. Viziers of their kind shrouded in tattered robes, the firelight flicker of eye sockets scanning this way; that way, and back again with hints of intelligence malevolent and dire. Behemoths raged, stomped, and smashed down firm the bones of beasts long dead and dried in the frigid wastes of Icecrown. Horns blew from the backs of burden, skeletal riders d@#@#d in plate and ice heralding a smaller victories and solidifying fear in the hearts of men mortal and not meant for this place. Arthas had found a foothold, but the battle was not yet won.
Days earlier, a direct missive had landed on the desk of Corporal Villius Sunsorrow, last living son of his house. With a winning smile and flourish of unadorned fingertips, his emerald-shale eyes took to the parchment without purchase. The air was still in Eversong, most of his garrison having already been deployed, and only the erratic ticking of a metronome foretold that anything would come to change.
Rising with a certainty, hands grasped for a belt holstered with blade and bough; notches cut cursory every few inches to allow for the necessity of phial and poultice pouch. An audible click was a precipitation; he was in a fluid flow, righting himself with a looser leather armor meant more to lend credit to mobility, and allow for faster flights should trouble overtake them. Thumb and forefinger touched painted lips, well worn with a smile, and cast their prayer as a whistle that struck the still of a brilliant afternoon.
Evening brought them together; twelve men, a small retinue with intentions more towards reconnaissance than resistance. His mouth was sculpted in lazy smile, the self-assured tenure of his stance something implacably light. They drank that evening; they reminisced, and they stole the night into their breaths. They reveled as men condemned, wearing smiles wrought with years of certainty and silent understanding, and as the evening wore on they slowly withered.
Dawnsliver slept huddled by blades, a corner cut sheet of silk slung over a shoulder. Always did he smile when he grasped for it, keeping the scrap of gown precariously perched in loop between shoulder and hip. 'My wife,' he'd say, and drink down a drought of dwarvish ale.
The firelight within the common room flicked like tongues, casting a tumult of shadows shaped like iron teeth throughout the room as they rest of them found a place. Any place. This was home to them; forever and a day, this had been home, but the war was in the north. The war was calling.
Entry One: Continued
When morning came, the Corporal scribbled slowly a letter intended for a woman he'd soon learn to forget. Harsh strokes swept across the page, bled letter to line, and punctuated severity with the swift-handed summary of a lie. He was to tell no one; to portend nothing, and so he wrote with a flourish that carried itself as his hope:
It pains me, greatly, to tell you that I have been asked to offer aid in the north. Routine, the lot, and carefully scripted in such a way that soon - so soon - I will see you again.
Worry not in my absence, and see that my family is given all they require in the coming months.
The letter never reached its destination.
A sudden crash cut silence like a blade, sending stone to rumble and a rapturous fracture to erupt beside them. Grasping hands of bone and flesh found pursuit in their own footholds, the sky a blaze of vermillion and bright. About them came a cacophony of roars, set into screeching motion by a beast unburdened by the earth underfoot. Wings beat like symmetrical cyclones, the gracelessness of its jerking neck giving evidence to its lifelessness.
They were suddenly surrounded, blades drawn and bows broke to burst forth with laboring volleys when Dawnsliver stopped; stooped, and shouldered a blade from a scabbard set beside his drab ornamentation. ~I'm sorry,~ Villius heard, but he heard it too late. The screeches came louder, frenzied, and one by one grasping hands found fertile throats and tore like paper. In the fury of a fray, light bent blinding; red was a color common, and stumbling feet tripped twice before he finally fell upon the body of a comrade lost to the will of something cold; smirking, and cruel.
He felt pain everywhere; saw faces, bereft of flesh, and the eyes that shone brighter than an Eversong sun. In an instant, he watched the echo of his life play symphonic, and slowly begin to darken. His chest heaved, burdened by the torn tatters of his armor, and at long last he closed his eyes.
Somewhere in the dark, the cold, another horn sounded. Victory was near at hand.
The fountain was an effigy made fluid; cascades wrought to wrinkle like the silk of her gown. Fingertips flexed to fidget along the smooth of a coin; bright and bold like the ever-sure sun of a city in the sky. Copper; the coin, and the color of her hair as a bounce precipitated a step. A swell, and the sudden flick that glinted light into a thousand places he couldn't quite see. Lips drawn sharp plucked a small smile from somewhere dark, gracious only in their hint of attention. And then: "Heads or tails, Flameborn?"
Dulcet, thick, with an accent leaning heavy with the musk of someplace foreign; ancient, and perilous. The Thorn, Inderion, sculpted upon the folds of his mouth an echo that only astonished half as much as her own, the symptom of a breeze bringing weight to the tattered condition of a well-worn kilt. Appraisal shone viridian in his eyes, cropped and cut like stones set to sell. They were mirthless fixtures worn thin, aggrieved in their glare, and sunken with the weight of time.
"That depends, Madam. The -stakes,- yes?" Though wry of tone, also was there an ensemble of careful speculation and concern. A slow-soothing crescendo intimating only that he was aware. Feet shuffled listless, sc@**%#@ against the slick of stone beneath like a craven scrawl. Around them, there was quiet - a din only ephemeral - as soon the spark of something would erupt overhead. The sky would cast to dark, irradiated only by a sea of stars on black canvas. A voice would boom, heralding the adjunct heroism of men; women, and their noblest of efforts won with blade, bow, and branch. The might of Ulduar was crumbling; in this one moment, the Dark From Below was bellowing a ghastly growl; craven cries were wept like tears, and allies were becoming memory writ by deed. In this moment, everything was changing, but only everywhere else. For in this moment, this time out of time, it was only the two of them locked stuck in cyanide soliloquy; eyes met without purchase, but all instincts at purvey.
She licked her lips, tongue flicking like an adder slithered through a slick, and pursed to present a kiss intended lifelessly. The distance between them was stark, cold, and the Thorn stepped nearer only as the coin was little more a fractal than a fire. Unanimously, they glanced; slowly, easily, and the cherry of her smile tugged marionette at a corner: the presentation of a battle-maiden's smirk. ~Heads,~ they mouthed, at long last. Breathlessly, as mimicking eyes met fast to his face; watchful, curious, and inclined only by the lilt of her head to one side. "You may call me Archaen, and you can trust beyond doubt that we will meet again."
The sky went dark, a burst to bloom of starlight and dark. Somewhere else, the world had changed. A threat had dimmed, and brightness like an eclipse shone dim in hopes to lift hopes. Somewhere else, cries filled the streets; men, women, children crooned in cursory relief. Somewhere else.
But the memory was here; with him, in him, always. Would that he could find the courage to discard it.
Silence took him like a talon, clutching close the beating of his breaths before idle fingertips discarded a phial. "Archaen," mused lowly, a rumble breaking still the softness of his tone. Hands moved like liquid to his pockets, rummaging a moment as he kicked aside the liquid miracle and set off on his way.
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