Curse of Want (RP)

Emerald Dream
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It was a odd feeling, the contortion of flesh, the changing of a shape into something else. Your body knew its default state and rebelled against anything to the contrary. It began as a shiver that ran from the base of the neck, like a dog shaking itself off from a dip in the lake. Propedal sighed as he felt the first shocks take over his body.

That was the easy part.

But the shiver continued, bypassing pleasant and quickly graduating to body wracking convulsions. His skin writhed and bubbled, veins long dead rising up along his undead flesh to cobweb his length. He doubled over, knocking off pages of research from his desk as he tried desperately to fight the pain.

Patches of fur dug themselves out from the surface of his skin, coalescing into a single gleaming midnight hide. Life flowed through his once dead flesh as muscles rippled into being under the surface. Even his senses experienced the rapid change, his vison losing the ability to perceive color even as his smell and hearing sharpened to such a degree that it left little doubt as to his deadliness once the transformation was complete.

He was finally forced onto all fours as he felt the bones in his jaw snap, the sound causing a shudder to run through him. They elongated, twisting into place even as rows of teeth erupted. His scream turned into a growl that sounded alien, even to him.

And then it was over, like the night sky after a storm. The silence in his study was almost maddening. Propedal shifted his gaze to the timer on the floor. He must have knocked it down during the change. The effects of his new vision was disconcerting, and he had to twist his head to the side to see the clock face clearly. It showed that only a minute or two had passed since he started the experiment.

It had felt much longer.

Propedal marked that fact for future reference. He only hoped that the clocks accuracy was a more on point than its goblin maker. It was only then that he allowed the elation to flow through him. His experiment, his months of laborious research, had finally came to this perfect moment and he found it quite delectable indeed.

He tested out his new body, walking to the full length mirror that occupied the far corner of his room. A muscular panther, replete with piercing yellow eyes, stared back. It was a perfect specimen. Even the scent was of a living, breathing animal.

The Dark Lady would want to hear of this, most assuredly. Propedal planned to tell her and reap his just rewards for such a discovery. Maybe she’d finally give him that personal study in the Undercity that he was vying for?

Well, he planned to tell her…eventually. Knowledge was power, and this discovery was something he intended to sit on for a bit. He wanted to explore it fully, and he was loathe to give it up just yet. Just think of the amount of power it’d bring the Forsaken to be able to emulate druid tactics and abilities!

He had plenty of time for politics later. Right now was time to put this body through a few stress tests. Like the wind, he was out the window, running through the countryside of Tirisfall.
Oh, what a feeling! The wind streaming through his fur, the gentle sound of his paws hitting dirt, the brief moment of resistance as he found traction and pushed off again. The entirety of Tirisfal was immersed in the scent of moist earth after a summer shower. It was mesmerizing and he found himself speeding up, just for the sheer thrill of it all.

For the first time since he had woken up in the Sepulcher, Propedal felt alive.

He quickly came to a gap in his path, where a river had dried up and left the earth cut and cracked, far too wide for his Undead self to cross, but his new body roared in response. Muscles tensed and he jumped, clearing the gap to land smoothly on the other side. If Propedal had the ability to, he would tossed his head back and laughed.

The best he managed was a roar the shook the forest itself.

As if in response, the wind picked up, threading through the winding landscape, bringing a scent that he knew immediately. His ears curled back and he snarled into the darkness. Propedal didn’t know how he knew what it was, considering this was his first time in this body, but he knew. In this body scent carried ideas. The smell was of laughter and dancing, of moonlit revelries, and dew drops dripping from morning leaves.

The smell belonged to a Night Elf.

He slunk into the forest, following the wind currents toward the interloper, keeping to the hidden trails that only a denizen of the forest would know. He let the instinct direct him, and deep down, he felt a tinge of fear at this apparent entity that dwelled deep within.

What was one of the damned Elune followers doing deep within the heart of Forsaken controlled lands? Were they not honoring their treaty with Thrall? As he got closer to the scent, the answer became clear. The smell of burning flesh filled his nostrils, and he knew what he would see before he approached the clearing.

The elf was burning Forsaken bodies before they could awaken. She was the one responsible for the disappearance of new recruits. It was sabotage in every sense of the word.

He could not allow it to continue.

Propedal stalked the unwitting elf, paw over paw, and each step as silent as the whisper of life from a dying person’s lips. As he got closer, he could see that she wore plain leather, belied only by the tattoos that covered her exposed flesh. She was hauntingly beautiful, as was the case with such beings, and carried herself with the self-assurance that could only be matched by the confident and the foolhardy.

Which one was she?
The bloodlust and rage was boiling under the surface, and Propedal felt his lips gently slide over his ivory fangs. He tensed, waiting for the perfect moment. As she turned around, he leapt, claws like daggers unsheathed and ready to rend flesh from bones.

Only she was not caught unawares, immediately changing into a mirror entity of Propedal. A druid! Propedal couldn’t help but notice her transformation was like water, slipping into it like she had only been wearing her Night Elf body out of habit.

Oddly, he was jealous of that.

They clashed in a whirlwind of claws and teeth, spit and snarls. Two alike beasts that were as different as day and night. Instinct was fully in control and Propedal was merely along for the ride. She slashed at his face, immediately ducking, anticipating his retreat and coming down for a vicious bite to a foreleg that would quickly end the fight.

But he did no such thing, coming forward into the strike. He shrugged off the blow. Ignored the explosion of pain and blood. Propedal was suddenly furious. He had forgotten the entropy of un-death, but in that brief moment between life and death, it had come to fore. He felt alive and knew that when the serum ended, that would go away yet again. Propedal slammed into her with the fury of hopelessness, bearing her onto the ground.

She started changing yet again, struggling, growing larger, and the beast within listened to instinct, closing his jaws over the windpipe of the elf. His teeth pierced flesh. There was a brief gasp as the gristle crunched, a gurgle of protest. The taste of blood was exquisite, but Propedal held on until the struggles ceased.

Finally when her death throes subsided, he let go and took in the sight of his first kill. There she was, killed between changing from cat to bear. It wasn't a pretty sight, but it was perfect in another way. Instinct was telling him to eat, but he overrode it.

He had more experiments to do.

Gingerly he began the task of dragging the carcass back to his study.
I'm being 100% honest here.

I think that was the coolest, most awesome Druidic story I've ever read. It was absolutely fantastic. I love how you took your character, a Forsaken, and found a way, apothecary / potion experimentation, to turn it into a story involving Druidism or an aspect of Druidism. It was a very clever idea, and I could easily see an Undead experimenting in this way.

Your use of descriptions in every instance was absolutely spot on. Not too much, and not too little. I loved how you described smell carrying emotion. I honestly may use that in my writing sometime.

I've often wished I could be a Feral Druid in real life, or to be somehow in the Azerothian universe as a Feral Druid. In a lot of ways, my writing is one way I can escape to this world and almost feel it. Reading your post, I felt it. I felt what it was like to shapeshift, to become an animal, to run through the wild. That was nothing short of breathtaking.
01/16/2015 03:17 PMPosted by Predatoria
Reading your post, I felt it. I felt what it was like to shapeshift, to become an animal, to run through the wild. That was nothing short of breathtaking.


Pretty much this. The way you described the change leaves me in awe. Frankly, your descriptions of everything drew me in, more than the actual plot of the story.
[Bravo, that was awesome! You definitely have a talent for this and I hope to read more.]
I really hope this is a contest entry.
(( I think the idea is really cool. I would caution the overuse of -ly adverbs, though.))
It is! Theres a link to it on my thread.
01/16/2015 03:51 PMPosted by Dreamradio
I really hope this is a contest entry.

It is. And it is my favorite.
01/16/2015 03:51 PMPosted by Zendarion
(( I think the idea is really cool. I would caution the overuse of -ly adverbs, though.))
Yeah. I do that a lot. I generally cull them out during revision. But I didn't revise this, so meh. I'll admit it requires a lot of tuning. It's pretty rough.

Edit: Not sure why someone downvoted you. You had a valid point.
Propedal held up the beaker, considering the glowing green mixture with experienced eyes. After a few moments of deliberation he set it down with a dejected sigh. Another failure. With his recent success with the cat transformation, he had hoped to repeat it with the druidic bear form, but so far the secret proved elusive. He didn’t mind it though; to him the chase was just as rewarding as the capture.

Those foolish druids believed their abilities to be granted by their communion with nature. The arrogant sods. Everything had a source, even magic. It all had to be governed by rules, and within those rules were the secrets to it all. Propedal had unlocked it, and the knowledge of doing so made him cackle with glee.

He looked up at the specimen suspended in the glass case of his lab. Trails of green hair floated within the viscous liquid that kept her from decay. This was his real prize in this endeavor. The night elf stared back at him with those timeless eyes, forever widened in terror of her final moments.

The rest of her was a mish-mash of three different forms fighting for supremacy. A cat tail here, the beginnings of a bear ear there, and the sharp facial features of a Night Elf rounded out the ensemble. Most would have considered it gruesome, perhaps even an abomination.

To Propedal, it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

People often confused being pretty with being beautiful. Pretty things were useless. They were made to look at along the side of the road. Little trinkets to collect for the momentary pleasure of owning something and then left on the shelf, forgotten.

No, to be beautiful was to have clarity of purpose. A knife was to cut, and in doing so it acquired beauty. The panther was beautiful, it’s every facet that of an apex predator. In that way it had acquired perfection.

This misshapen form glowed with an inner splendor, the purpose of giving up secrets of her druidic sect. Propedal planned to pry them from her. She would serve in death and he briefly wondered if perhaps her soul was writhing in agony at that knowledge. He tapped on the glass, willing her to respond to his unspoken query.

Nothing.

Propedal shrugged, picking up a scalpel and slicing off another bit of flesh from his own arm. It would serve as the base for the potion.

He pointedly ignored the flasks that sat on his research table. Since coming back and regressing to his Undead self, he had done everything to not look at them. Within they contained more of the panther formula, and they beckoned to him with an alluring siren’s call. It would be child’s play to imbibe yet another flask just to feel the rush of wind and the thrill of blood.

Propedal knew he couldn’t give in to temptation.

As much as he hated to admit it, the transformation had scared him. No, perhaps that wasn’t the appropriate way of putting his unease. It had unnerved him. The instinct, the driving force that had taken over, was such a primal feeling that Propedal had no choice but to recoil in shock. He had spent too much time as an Undead.

To be reminded of what he had lost…

He shook his head. No, such trains of thought did little to progress him on his current project. But he couldn't stop the deepest recesses of thought within the corners of his mind. That hidden little part of oneself that whispered things to you despite how much you tried to ignore it.

What if, when he had taken on the form, it had left something behind?
A month and a half later...

The scourge aberration’s face contorted in pain as its limbs knotted in on themselves, pulled by the effects of the recently administered potion. It raged, beating against the rusted cage to no avail. Several times it slipped, writhing, on the gore previous subjects had left on the floor.

Propedal stared impassively, the only movement on his end the furious scribbling of his quill to parchment. A loud crack broke his concentration as the skull of his subject caved in, trying to elongate itself but failing. Claws erupted from the already hook-like hands and splotches of fur sprouted at various places only to immediately fall out. The eyes kept switching between the vacant stare of mindless undead to the bloodshot eyes of the living.

Propedal was impressed. It had already been several minutes and this particular test subject was still alive. He considered that a vast improvement on the progress of his work. It showed he was going in the right direction.

He didn’t think it was possible for the mutated scourge to scream, but it managed a near approximation. A throaty groan that reverberated the cage and made Propedal grit his own teeth.

Another pop indicated that the spine had finally given in to the pressure and the aberration bent in on itself like a ball of flesh. It gave a long, violent shudder before becoming very still. Propedal continued to write, postulating a few theories off the results of the test, before he finally put down the quill with a satisfied grunt.

He pulled out a scalpel and unlocking the cage he cut off a small sample, placing it on a small dish. Propedal looked over to the hulking amalgam of flesh and bones that was his servant. “Sketch, please dispose of the body with the others.”

The abomination grumbled in response, waddling past as Propedal took the sample upstairs to the room that served as his alchemical laboratory. He placed it on a petri dish, taking out a few bottles of chemicals off the nearby shelf as he set the sample down on the table. He arranged the rest of the bottles almost ritually, doing it with great care.

He lifted one of the small thumb-sized bottles to the brazier, using the light to inspect the dark red contents. Nothing was amiss, the bottle was still sealed tight with a wax stopper. Satisfied, Propedal pried the top off. Inwardly, he grimaced at the small loss. Not only was it difficult to acquire, but once exposed to air, fairy-dragon blood had an annoying habit of being unusable within minutes.

He’d have to work fast.

Carefully he dripped a single drop onto the flesh. Too much and the gooey magic repelling liquid would destroy that which he hoped to acquire. At first nothing happened. The blood just pooled at the top, a single quivering droplet. But it began to shake violently, thin wisps of smoke trailing off as it ate through the flesh. A green foam was the by-product and Propedal used a tiny mithril spoon to skim it off the surface. Each time he placed it on the pan suspended above a tiny burner.

Eventually he had what he deemed was a large enough gathering of magical essence. He threw the bottle and flesh sample into the waste bin and turned his attention to the foam. Turning up the heat gradually, he next added concentrated deathroot. The plant was deadly poison to the living, but it served as a hardening agent for Undead. Hopefully it’d combine with the essence he had collected and make it more…palatable. So that he wouldn’t wind up like the last ten or so subjects.

Finally, as the green essence gradually turned black, he added a piece of his own flesh. Technically the formula just required any undead bind to work, since he was trying to join the druidic magic essence to undeath, but Propedal liked the idea that it was his flesh for the potion.
Now came the boring part. He had to wait and let it slowly simmer for a few days before he added the catalyst. With one last cursory glance to make sure everything was set, Propedal sat down with his notes. This would be iteration fifteen of the potion. The basics were easy, but it was the catalyst that dictated success and it was the part that made it most difficult.

He had strained and refined the magic essence, separating it from any corruption and judging by this last attempt, he was on the right track. The test subjects were beginning to take on bear-like qualities before they inevitably broke. When he had made the cat potion, he had used panther claws purchased from the Nessingwary underground. It was only a stroke of inspiration that had made him infuse it all with a shock of lightning.

Propedal figured that cats were fast and so was lightning, so the two were hand-in-hand. Discovery was sometimes steeped with luck and hunches.

Too bad he had already tried that back in the single digit iterations of the bear transformation potion to no avail. He just needed something that symbolized bear strength and ferocity but everything so far had failed. Oh well, he’d use the downtime to search the Undercity libraries for ideas.

Propedal clicked his talons on the wooden table uneasily. It was only during down time such as right now that he had begun to become increasingly nervous. He couldn't shake the feeling that something was in the room with him. The urge to imbibe more of the panther potion had become almost overwhelming, to the point where he had locked up the flasks he had. The key to the safe hung from a cord on his neck, and every tick of the clock added a few pounds to the rope.

It was getting to bad enough that every free moment he imagined the rush of wind and smell of blood. It'd be just so easy to...

“Maaaaaaasteeeeeer…” Sketch groaned from the door way. The large abomination had to stoop to enter.

“Yes?” Propedal was only half paying attention, his mind on the problem at hand.

“Guuuuuuuuuuuuuessstttt.”

That caught Propedal’s attention. He didn’t get many visitors out here.

“Ah, hard at work I see. Some things never change.” A voice entreated from behind Sketch. “Did you miss me?”
The book will be out this fall.
You smell, Iron.
Erranwyn pulled yet another fistful of grass, idly considering the blades before letting them drop, spinning, on to the forest floor. Sunlight dappled through the tight canopy of Ashenvale, making a cascade of dancing butterflies with every gentle breath of wind.

She was so bored. Yet again Master Sturm Oakenclaw deemed her remiss of her studies and had sent her out to “commune with nature”.

She was young, barely more than three centuries old, so why did the wizened druid always do this to her? She should be out there, skipping with her friends, drinking lightly of the nectar wine, and laughing at every passing moment. Not here, within an out-of-way forest glade, with only the gurgling of water in the distance as her company.

It wasn’t as if she was any good at druidism anyway. Every time she went out to listen to nature, she came back frustrated. She heard nothing. Sure, there were times when she thought she felt a faint whisper, a gentle caress on the fine hairs of her neck. But she was convinced that it was merely the madness of loneliness.

The flicker of doubt when alone.

With a huff she flopped back. At least the scenery was nice and the moss floor was comfortable. She’d do what she always did.

Sleep.

She was convinced the old druid did this to her because he hated happiness.
The gentle breeze carried a story along its currents.

The beast’s nose flared, drinking it all in. It was on the prowl, thumbing through the pages as it searched for a particular entry. A rabbit shivering at the fox outside its den. A mother bear coaxing her cubs along the side of a river. The delicate opening of the night flower as the sun began to set. All of it laid bare for the discerning eye to peer through.

Finally a thin thread of recognition was found. It was faint, barely more than a hint of an idea. Aloof boredom.

The beast followed the trail. Each footfall was silent, a delicate distribution of weight on cushioned pads. Sleek muscles rippled under the midnight coat as it stalked the undergrowth. Even the Ashenvale forest showed quiet respect, becoming hushed in the recognition of a top predator.

The moon was just beginning to show itself as the beast approached the clearing. Carefully it navigated, not so much avoiding fallen branches and dried leaves as merely stepping to where they were not. The scent was strong here, of musty earth and innocence.

In the center of it all was a single Night Elf. She wore a simple robe, her long moss-green hair splayed lovingly over her face, and her chest rose and fell in steady rhythm as she walked through the corridor of dreams.

The beast’s mouth opened in a half-grin, panting with anticipation.

There was a tingle in the air that gave the beast pause, mid-step. Ashenvale itself was here, in this glade. Moonlight had finally replaced sun, sending shafts of glowing pillars to permeate the entire area. It was as if the forest was rallying to the sleeping elf’s defense. At this fount of power, Ashenvale realized the traitor in its midst.

We know what you are…it whispered, we will not let you harm her. She is ours

Ashenvale held its breath.

The beast, deeply intoxicated with the hunt, could not, would not, respect that warning.
Danger…

A shot of electricity ran through Erranwyn’s body, jolting her awake. She sat up and looked around, disoriented. It was dark already? She must have slept longer than she intended. The elf groaned at the thought. This meant that her Master would have undoubtedly noticed her absence and the druid was knowledgeable enough to know the likely reason as well.

Well, there was no point in running back to Astranaar now. Might as well wallow in her trouble. The thought of her master’s face contorted with disbelief was enough to make her giggle. It made her feel good.

She laid her head back, looking up through the branches at the night sky above. How many times has she done this? It always amazed her. Horde and Alliance ran around on the ground, fighting. Her people spent their time lamenting what they’ve lost. Her own druidic circle was preoccupied with nature and nothing else.

It was so frustrating to her. Why did they all miss the spectacle of the stars? She found it all petty in the grand scheme of things. All she wanted to do was lay back and enjoy the time given to her. She was willing to believe that things would all be better if people just looked up.

She held up her hand against the backdrop of the night sky, as if to grab the stars.

Danger…

She sat up again, this time flustered. She had zoned out. What was that? It wasn’t a voice, but an idea, a brief flash of fear and fury. The sound of her breathing filled the glade and her blood pounded in her ears.

It occurred to her that the glade was silent. Not the silence of lack of noise, but the deep, encompassing stillness of expectation. It was a bowstring pulled taut, ready to be loosed in the span of a hushed whisper.

She knew even before the low growl behind her that she was no longer alone.
She didn't want to turn around. To the very depths of her bones, she knew that death had come and for a brief moment, she didn't have to face it. The growling grew louder.

Steady.

She took a deep breath. It sounded like an animal, and she was a druid, wasn't she? Still, her training until then was mostly with plants. She wasn't far enough along her tutelage to start working with living, breathing animals.

Elune had other plans for her, it seemed.

As slowly as possible, with no extraneous movements, she turned, half expecting the attack that didn't come. She was greeted by a massive panther, the dark coat rendering it almost invisible from the forest edge. The only thing that stood out was the most intense pair of yellow eyes she had ever witnessed.

The pin-pricks bored into her from the darkness, rooting her in place. She felt the helplessness that a mouse feels seconds before a snake strike. There was nowhere to run, nothing she could do.

Nothing but to die.

And yet the beast did not strike. It considered her for several long moments, and Erranwyn felt a tinge of hope rise up in her breast. She could feel the intelligence behind those eyes. Erranwyn did the best she could to match the beast’s stare. If she was to die, she would do so with dignity.

“Greetings,” she said softly, hoping her voice wouldn’t betray her feelings, “I’m Erranwyn Duskbringer. My master sent me out here to become one with nature, but I do not believe it was like this.”

She gave a nervous smile, hoping that perhaps the panther could not hear the ever so loud beating of her heart. They could feel fear, could they not?

As if in response, the eyes disappeared into the darkness, without so much as a rustle of branch or crinkle of leaves to ever indicate anything had been there. Erranwyn waited for a few tense seconds before letting go of the breath she had held.

She carefully backed up to pick up her pack, keeping an eye and ear out for her wayward visitor. Once a few minutes had passed, she gradually felt safer, resolving to leave from the glade as quickly as she could.

Erranwyn considered the encounter. It was odd, she had never seen such a large beast out here in the wilds. She resolved to ask Master Oakenclaw about it in the morning. But right now her priority was getting home and trying to control her beating heart.

She followed the forest trail with as much expedience as she could gather, just short of a full-blown flight through the woods. She kept her eyes to the wood-line.

Her scream was muffled by several hundred pounds of flesh and fur as the panther landed on her from above. The beast easily forced her to the ground. There was no fighting the power, and yet she did anyway. She didn’t want to die. Her fists beat into the wall of muscle to no avail and she expected the claws and teeth to end her life at any moment.

Instead she was once again greeted by a low growl as those deep yellow eyes stole her own. There was so much more behind this beast that Erranwyn stopped struggling, pinned down as she was. She was powerless before its might.

The panther roared in her face, deafening her even as the smell of rotten flesh filled her nostrils. Her ears rang and she began to cry. Not like this. It wasn't supposed to be like this.

She never saw the panther move, but the paw flashed and the world went black.

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