Survive or Repeat

Cenarion Circle and Sisters of Elune
In the shadows of the barren landscape, lit periodically from flashes of an ever changing sky, a prone figure stirred. White bangs fluttered in the slow but steady breeze. As the wind danced them apart, they revealed a dirty yet tear stained face, new rivulets forming in an endless pattern across her deep maroon skin. Dark tattoos crisscrossed over her face, neck and down her entire bare body.

Noikona’s eyes opened revealing a sorrowful stare, their steady emerald color flickering white in infrequent intervals. She rose slowly uncaring of her lack of modestly. Nothing could be seen in any direction she faced. An eerie sound to her right caught her attention, which caused her to turn left and trudge forward.

Her arrival hadn’t gone unnoticed. More tears flowed down her face as she quickened her pace. Fear threatened to smother her, she felt utterly alone, lost and vulnerable.

She’d never known the twisting nether. Never gone through the ordeal in which had just taken place. Immortality had saved her, but to what end. Here she could be sundered, her soul torn to pieces or used to fuel another’s power. These thoughts didn’t help her sanity. The once rock steady resolve which was forever her foundation was slowly being chipped away by the abandonment she felt.

Abruptly she stopped, before her lay a sheer cliff that dropped into nothingness. A sound from behind her caused her to spin around. A wrathguard sneered at her and swung its blade.

In the shadows of the barren landscape, lit periodically from flashes of an ever changing sky, a prone figure stirred. White bangs fluttered in the slow but steady breeze. As the wind danced them apart, they revealed a dirty yet tear stained face, new rivulets forming in an endless pattern across her deep maroon skin. Dark tattoos crisscrossed over her face, neck and down her entire bare body.

Noikona’s eyes opened revealing a sorrowful stare…
Confusion and pain tore through Noikona as she stood. She looked to her left where she thought she’d just been. Her hands trembled; she balled them into fists in an attempt to steady herself. Had she imagined it? Was this all a nightmare? She ran her hands over her body as she shook her head, there was no sign of the cleave. She swallowed hard and walked forward instead of turning left.

Noikona moved on cautiously, she became aware of any sound that seemed out of the ordinary. The terrain changed little, but she could see light to her right. She had been veering in that direction, but gradually. There was no sun in the sky, it was impossible to tell how much time had passed.

The ground started to rise as she walked and a clicking noise sounded just beyond the ridge she faced. The mystery of the light would soon be known. She took another step and screamed in terror and pain as wicked talons bit into her shoulders. The ground below her fell away quickly and the wind of beating wings nearly blinded her. She was able to still get a glimpse of what caused the light, a small camp, with a figure or two moving amongst it. She only briefly saw them look up in alarm before running for cover.

The felbat rose higher, giving Noikona a spectacular view, but it did little to raise her hopes. She was on large island floating in the twisting nether. She could see in the distance what looked to be a great city of some kind, but very far away. Her attention turned quickly back to her predicament and she started to claw at the talons that gripped her tightly. It was to no avail and her heart sunk as she realized her destination at seeing the young felbat pups. Her screams echoed across the wasteland, but at least she wasn’t wasted, not one piece.

In the shadows of the barren landscape, lit periodically from flashes of an ever changing sky, a prone figure stirred. White bangs fluttered in the slow but steady breeze. As the wind danced them apart, they revealed a dirty yet tear stained face, new rivulets forming in an endless pattern across her deep maroon skin. Dark tattoos crisscrossed over her face, neck and down her entire bare body.

Noikona’s eyes opened revealing a sorrowful stare…
Noikona, rolled over on her back flailing her arms in the air screaming, her screams soon turned into sobs as she curled into the fetal position and trembled. Several heartbeats passed before she picked herself up from the ground. She took a few timid steps, but the images of what she just endured caused her to stop frequently.

Hanging her head she hugged herself and breathed slowly in an attempt to calm herself. She didn’t hear the wrathguard approaching from behind until it spoke “How is it you still walk?”

Noikona whirled around to face the wrathguard, she immediately crouched in a defensive stance. “How dare you!” she shouted.

The wrathguard hefted its two blades as it stared at Noikona, it rose a brow at her markings “You bare the mark of an elder warrior, but I care not, you’re branded as a traitor. Tell me where is your spawn point so I may camp your corpse?”

“I’ll tell you know such thing!”

The wrathguard shrugged “No matter, it just makes this game more of a challenge.” it charged as it swung its blades.

Noikona jumped backwards, the swing of the blades coming within a fingers width to her chest. In the time it took him to bring his blades back for another attack, Noikona was already charging, her chin to her chest and her horns pointing towards his abdomen. She struck with her full weight and they both tumbled to the ground. The wrathguard bellowed in pain as it dropped its blades. Noikona twisted her head to release her horns, blood dripped from them. She wasted no time grabbing one of his blades, but instead of finishing him, she brought the blade down cutting deeply into both of his feet. The howls were deafening.

Noikona removed his armor and took his weapons. He bellowed at her “Kill me, I can’t exist like this here”

Shaking her head Noikona responded “No, just to have you respawn and hunt me again? This will do”

Noikona walked away now armored, but most of all she had a weapon.
With the wrathguard’s armor and weapons Noikona headed in the direction she’d seen the lights. She’d seen figures that had appeared to run from the felbat, her hope was that maybe they were a bit more friendly than what she’d already become acquainted with. The city was too far to travel and she had no equipment to try such a trek.

As she traveled she made sure to keep an eye to the sky and behind her. Every two hundred paces oh so she placed a mark in the hardened clay. She really hoped that wasn’t need, but it was important to be safe. Rest was now in the forefront of her focus.

In the distance she could barely make out the lights she’d spotted before. She shook her head realizing that she needed sleep before making her presence known. If a fight were to become a necessity she needed all her strength. It took longer then she expected to find a suitable shelter. The landscape was barren, but a few rocks jutted up to form an enclosure. She felt vulnerable but exhaustion was quickly overtaking her.

She set up a few traps that should at least alert her if someone or thing came close. Once satisfied she hid herself as best as possible and drifted off to sleep.
Noikona woke without knowing the time of day as the light never changed. Three other islands floated far above her, their locations did appear to change as time progressed, and perhaps she would learn their paths to help determine a passage of time. The shelter she’d stayed in seemed quite secure, she hated to move from its safety, but eventually hunger and thirst would get the best of her.

Peering out Noikona could see the haze of light coming from the ridge. Sighing heavily she stood and buried one of the wrathguard’s blades. One she could wield easily but two was another thing. She wasn’t practiced in dual wielding weapons, she longed for a shield. Once she was satisfied, she turned to hike towards the ridge.

She didn’t bother to approach with stealth, but crested the hill as if she knew where she was going. The source of the light was from several torches. It was a camp, but from a closer look, those that she’d seen before had left. Obvious signs of a hasty retreat were everywhere. Packs still containing supplies were tucked into a still standing tent and the coals of the cooking fire still glowed when stirred.

Noikona wasted no time rummaging through the packs to create supplies of her own. She even found a water skin which greatly relieved her. Most of what she found was dried meats and fruits. The jerky was a problem. The salt content was too great for her to consume let alone touch. Carefully she packed it away; if she could find an ample water source later she would be able to soak it.

The rest of the camp confounded her as it didn’t appear to have been created too long ago, and the presences of salted meats lead her to believe the occupants had not been demonic. She looked down at her arms, their deep maroon tone and arcane brands broadcasting to everyone just what and who she was. She’d tried to morph into her draenei form but it was no use. Not here at least, besides her true form would probably keep her alive and less of a target. At least she hoped.

Noikona rummaged one last time through the abandoned camp before departing. She followed the tracks of what could only be made by those that who were once here.
Noikona had followed the pair for two days, keeping her distance as she didn’t wish to be noticed. On the third day she found their remains. Race wasn’t apparent at first but an elongated ear let her know that at least one had been elven. Her heart actually sunk as she felt so alone, any conversation would be welcome even if it were against her. She took only their water skins, looting anything else felt wrong as they didn’t belong here. She would never know what brought them here and in the end they were as ill prepared as her.

The passage of time she’d been able to formulate from when the two had stopped for camp. Each time they stopped she noted that one of the large islands in the sky had become inverted. She was able to use its slow rotation almost as a giant hand on a clock in the sky. It wasn’t prefect but it sufficed. Now it was the only thing she could use.

With the extra water she left the scene and started to walk to a large outcropping of rocks she’d seen the day prior. She needed a permanent shelter, a tear trickled down her cheek as she realized what she was thinking; she needed a home.
Over the past few days, Noikona had erected a fairly sturdy shelter; she’d travelled back to the abandoned camp several times bringing back essentials that would make her little area livable. Most of all it was disguised to fit into the rock outcropping. To her luck she also found a water source not more the one hundred paces away. It appeared uncontaminated but she took no chances and stored as much as she could in her water skins in case that were to change.

With water taken care of she was able to soak the salted meats, it was dreadfully uncomfortable to eat, blistering her tongue and lips but it was protein which she desperately needed. She knew she didn’t have but maybe a few weeks’ worth of rations. A new food source would have to be found. Her thoughts returned to the fel bats and revenge entered her mind.

Noikona checked the traps she’d placed around her claimed area and returned to sleep. When she next woke she’d plan what to do for food. Keeping busy helped keep her mind off of what she felt and her sanity from failing.
The days had turned into a routine of survival. Noikona would wake, bathe, hunt, tend to her fire, sleep and repeat. She no longer tracked the number of days. She only tried to make it through each day alive. Two more times she’d taken the walk of shame from her spawn point. Death had no meaning in this land, but each time the memories were etched into her mind forever to repeat in her nightmares.

Noikona had also become aware that she wasn’t fully coalesced, she’d seen her reflection while bathing and seen the sky through her image. When looking at her hands it was possible to look through them, not something you’d noticed to begin with, also not something you’d normally look for. She’d never been to the twisting nether, so each experience was new. She still felt the tug of the chains that bound her to her handlers and the urge to follow her spoken oaths reminded her that she was alive. Her power was gone. Through the many attempts to shape change she’d failed. She couldn’t detect her own kind nor pull from the souse of fel that made her what she was. She felt power though, but it was the power Azheira, the light of her former handler which wrapped around her soul. It wasn’t touchable but in a strange way gave her reassurance.

In the end though, this was death. There was nothing to focus on but survival. She felt alone, dreadfully alone. She’d not succumb to madness, she’d heard the stories of great demons remaining in the nether for an eternity, falling to the madness and then returning to the physical plane as a mindless and insane imps. She shook her head as she shuddered at the thought. She wouldn’t let that happen, but she was also sure she’d never be called back. Her brands as traitor to the Legion were ever present and eternal.
“Alright, she is under. Hedera, watch her pulse.” The elven druid did as the masked man instructed, putting two fingers on Annie’s neck. “If her heart beats too fast she could die, so you will need to pull us both out of this.”

Hedera nodded. “I will be careful.”

Kerrek shut his eyes and focused, placing his hands on Annie’s temples, initiating the physical connection before the mental one. As he detached himself from his body, the woman he held screamed in agony and began to writhe. In moments, the screaming stopped, but her muscles remained tense. Hedera monitored her pulse, the rate had skyrocketed when his ritual began, and was steadily climbing. She tried rubbing Annie’s shoulder to try to soothe her, but to no avail.

Minutes passed as the two remained connected, and Annie’s screams resumed as the magical orb she’d given Kerrek filled with the memory he tore from her mind. Her heart rate reached a dangerous height. “Alright, that’s enough mind melding!” The elven woman gave Kerrek a rough shove. “Upsi-daisy!”

The links were severed quickly, and Annie’s screams turned to maniacal laughter as she awoke. “Kerrek! That was brilliantly exciting! Did you place the memory in the orb?”

Drained, “I believe so.”

“Brilliant. The orb won’t hold the memory for long, so let’s get this started.” Annie went about working the summoning spell, placing the orb in the center of the circle as a focus. She started the cast, too excited to feel as drained as her fellow caster. “Both of you, join in! I will need more power to summon a target this powerful!”

Words of power were spoken, a target was chosen, and a blast of Light erupted as She took form.
Noikona approached her home like any day before, she checked her traps and tested the water supply for impurities. Satisfied she entered the obscured door. She was about to sit down, when the face of a young human flashed in her vision. Noiknoa nearly jumped, the image had been so real. She shook her head to clear her vision, but this only seemed to make matters worse as she now saw the interior of a decrepit house. Her heart leapt as the world began to spin.

Noikona screamed as the planes began to merge letting her soul fully coalesce, fel met met light, the light of Azhiera which had never left her. An explosion of emerald light lashed at her, as her soul and physical body became whole. Her back arched as a war ensued inside her. That which had been meant to protect by her former handler pushed back, almost as if it had an intelligence of its own. The fel countered relentlessly.

In a massive burst of holy light Noikona appeared, emerald tendrils of fel cracked through her skin as the Holy Light almost appeared to push it out. The fel fought back but the light poured forth with tremendous force.

The woman she’d seen the face of was thrown backwards

Even the ground beneath Noikona’s hooves burned in radiant light.

Crying out in pain, Noikona fell to her knees. He man’ari body began to shrink, flesh actually burning into green wisps of smoke, bones snapped and tissue reshaped. Her bright green eyes faded to their true lilac color. She convulsed as she curled into the fetal position where her body began to steam, the tendrils turning maroon as her skin tone faded to its natural graphite color.

In a corner of a room, a finely dressed man gazed in awe at the same time the woman hit her head on the wall behind her.

A massive explosion of light exploded from Noikona sending the ancient gift of fel away from her. The light continued to expand until the fel fled from the area, the light rushed back into Noikona with such force, a shock-wave formed through the floor.

Noikona lay for several heartbeats and breathed heavily before rising to her hooves. Her bare skin was without scars, save for the echo of her eredan tattoos that appeared to play tricks with the observer's eyes, seemingly only visible from the corner of your eyes, but vanishing when trying to look for them.

Noikona's eyes narrowed, she seemed uncaring about modesty and gazed at those present, she spoke in her heavy yet understandable accent “Who are you?”

Squinting, Anewl rubbed the back of her head. She shook her head to clear it and laughed as she spotted Noikona's silver hair “Yes! It worked!”
Weary footsteps echoed off of the cobblestones in the courtyard outside of the Stormwind Cathedral. During the day, this area was full of activity, people, and noise. Now, only a small chorus of crickets joined the steady footfalls as they resounded through the square. Calent's home was thankfully only a short walk away, but after such a long day, even that felt like an eternity. Her mother opened the door for her as she approached, her eyebrows drawn together as she observed her daughter, but a smile on her face, as she pondered whether or not she should shower her daughter in affection, or criticize her for coming home so late. Noting her daughters exhausted expression, she opted to simply pass the baby and tell her that dinner was on the table, cold.

Calent took Jeanna into her arms and cuddled her, new energy filling her as she cooed at her daughter. Being away from her all day was very hard on Calent, she found she was reluctant to set the little girl down.

Suddenly, Calent froze, gripping the one-year-old more tightly in her arms as she felt something she had not felt in quite some time.

Noikona.

Noikona. She could feel her! Since the execution, she had lost her ability to sense the Man'ari's location, as it was so impossibly far away. But now, now she could sense her just as well as she had before. Her exact location. She focused on the link between them, Hillsbrad! She had begun to pace the room when several seconds later, she could sense only agony, fear, danger, through the link. It lasted several minutes, while Calent clutched her fussing baby close, her face nearly white as she felt Noikona's emotions feeding through their link.

Then, just as suddenly as the feedback had begun, it ended. She could no longer sense Noikona's location, no matter how hard she focused. She could no longer feel her pain or fear anything. The link was just as silent as it had been while Noikona had been in the Nether... and yet she could sense her life force. It was strong, and it was indeed on Azeroth.

Confused and frightened for her friend, Calent wasted no time. She chased after her mother, begging her to keep an eye on the baby while she was out. She dressed in plain armor, this was not Watch business, and so her uniform was inappropriate. Once she had donned her gear, she went off in search of a mage.
The mage that Calent hired was a cantankerous, world weary man. He was clearly only in this line of work for the money, and his bedside manner left much to be desired. He did not ask many questions of Calent, though, and merely watched impatiently while she searched the perimeter of the Dalaran Crater in Hillsbrad. It was dark and windy, the only light coming from her own lantern and the mage's conjured light. She was lucky to find three sets of footprints crisscrossing the ground, one of which appeared to belong to a Draenei. She bid the mage to wait while she followed the trail. He grumped something about letting his money walk away before she could pay him, and elected to follow her from a distance.

The trail ended at the edge of the water and Calent sighed in frustration. She had come so far, and visited the exact location she had sensed that Noikona had been, and yet her link supplied her with no additional information. She had thought that surely if she got closer, the proximity might have made things clearer for her! How was she to find her now? In the dark, and with no more trail to follow? Unwilling to give up, she turned and walked along the shore a distance, scanning the area around her for anything of interest, the ground for any trace of tracks emerging from the water.

She had not been walking for long before she found a small lake house, hoofprints in the ground. She decided to scout around the building before approaching it directly, and was glad of the decision moments later. The mage behind her gasped in surprise at the two bodies that lay crumpled to the ground. Calent rushed to them, checking for vital signs, and feeling no breath or heartbeat. They were clearly dead, expressions of terror and pain frozen on their snow white faces. Even with her rudimentary skills at magic detection, Calent could clearly detect the traces of a powerful curse and hurriedly pulled her hand away from the corpse. The mage backed away from the scene, fear in his eyes.

"Lady, you can keep your money. I'm out of here." and as soon as the words left his mouth, the portal to Stormwind appeared, and he vanished, leaving Calent alone.

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