Kexti

Eclipse: Armor

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Shou-kara wasn’t used to flying in cold weather. Tossed to and fro in the Northrend winds, the cloud serpent struggled to maintain its altitude. Kex’ti patted the serpent’s side and spurred her onward. The collapsed tournament pavilion still sat, ruined. The old Horde and Alliance barracks had outlasted Arthas, and tents on the northern cliff face still radiated inner torchlight. The winds tore at his coat and cut through his threadbare leather armor.

Sanctuary had met last night to discuss the activity of an Old God returning to Azeroth, and the complicit involvement of a Grim warlock. The thaumaturgic details of the curse heralding the God escaped Kex’ti, but the implications were horrifying. Despite his burgeoning friendship with Lilliana, several members of the Grim, or their allies, had ill intentions towards Kex’ti. Rumors spread quickly through Warspear, and after a blatant incident a week prior, Kex’ti knew to be careful. His armor had been crafted as part of the Shattered Sun offensive, and had been patched back together with leathers from Northrend, Outland, Kalimdor, Pandaria, and Draenor.

Kex’ti’s memories of Icecrown were surprisingly warm. After Wrathgate, the blood elf had elected to stay in the relatively temperate Grizzly Hills and Howling Fjord. He was a scout, not a hero.

After the Sunwell reignited, Kex’ti decided to leave the cartel arenas behind and move on to nobler purposes. When the Horde called the arena veteran to the tournament grounds, it had only been Remiaan’s parallel relocation that spurred him into the cold and dark. She’d been there to keep the dark and cold away. Kex’ti’s memories, up to the day of the Trial, were of the surprisingly friendly rivalries struck up across faction lines. Of mouths used to the common tongue slurring out taunts in Orcish before clashing wolf against horse. Of dwarven marksmen providing fire support for Horde assassins infiltrating camps of the Cult of the Damned. Of be-goggled gnome rogues conveniently missing Kex’ti sneaking into Remiaan’s tent. Of a Kaldorei druid, of all people, personally sewing a ghoul-bitten vambrace back together.

Kex’ti brought his cloud serpent to the ground near a steaming tent. The sound of pounding hammers echoed over the shrieking wind, and he hooked the ends of his staff under two satchels on the serpent’s saddle. He waiting for the creaking wood to settle along his shoulders before lashing his jug to his waist. The elf pulled the flap of the tent up, and led Shou-Kara into the sweltering heat. Before the forge, a dark iron dwarf raged at his anvil.

When Anub’arak struck, Kex’ti crawled out of the crevasse with a broken leg, his armor, and not much else.

He took his leave. Nobody blamed him, really. He went to Ratchet, cashed in his Steamwheedle Scrip, and bought a bar-come-arena. He hoped that rum-quenched proximity to the bloodshed he’d steeped in would warm up the cold and wash away the memories of Northrend. It was only after seeing Draenor’s Remiaan that the armor felt threadbare.

The dwarf’s smile shined against the firelight.

“Ah oft won’der, hed ye’d took th’ arm’r, would t’ing ‘ave been diff’rent?”

“I have been better, Colbjorn.” The weight of the satchel finally snapped his staff. As they hit the ground, the satchels spilled an abundance of clefthoof leather. Holding a piece of his broken crutch in each hand, Kex’ti shifted his weight to his good leg. “I was wondering if the offer to make some armor was still good…and maybe a weapon too.” Kex’ti dropped the pieces of his staff into the forge as Colbjorn reached for a saronite bar from the chest behind him and smiled.

***

Kex’ti stepped out into the eternal night of Icecrown. His breath came out in an icy fog through the slit of his new helm. Parts of his new armor were reinforced with saronite, and his staff was tipped on each end with a reddish-green alloy. The fragments of his old armor were in a satchel on Shou-Kara’s saddle.

He'd sewn Panderen sigils into the armor and wove the assembly together to be flexible and strong. Baern had been taking an extended tour in Ashran, but the two had sparred frequently enough that Kex'ti had learned where his body could take a blow, and which hits were crippling. Kex'ti had a feeling that he'd be fighting against melee combatants, and had designed the new armor to allow him to keep his mobility while being more resistant to heavy strikes than his patchwork set. After his battle with Syreena, he shored up his vitals with saronite plating.

Kex'ti could've carried back blackrock ore or had Sanctuary's smiths make new gear for him. But the Old Gods weren't monolithic, and fought amongst themselves. Perhaps armoring himself in the corrupted iron of Yogg-Saron would provide resistance to the new threat's curse.

He mounted Shou-Kara and set off towards Dalaran. He had a portal to catch, and cultists to hunt.

The stars above were different than the ones he’d left behind so long ago. But time nonetheless began to catch up to him. He’d left the world behind just as heroes had begun to fight the Old Cults. Now it was time to take up arms against an Old God once, and this time, Kex’ti would be on the front lines. Under his purple tabard, he’d found his new armor.

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Kex'ti's armor had held up to its first field test. In the sweltering heat and pounding metal of Blackrock Foundry, he had danced among his allies as he wove the mists. Leaving enemies spinning to the ground with surging kicks and sweeps of his staff, his armor proved limber and resilient as the blood elf skirmished. He had been spending hours in reflection on his past battles, and on the nature of the curse before him.

Sanctuary emerged from the Foundry, their purple tabards stained dun with soot. As the guild began to disperse about the Garrison, Kex'ti caught Julilee and Naheal discussing old wounds. Naheal had been attack by a black worg years ago, and the injuries still pained him. His fellow sin'dorei discussed the nature of Naheal's injuries. Kex'ti probed the black-blue scars with gentle touches of mist. Kex'ti had healed plenty of forsaken in Pandaria and beyond, and always found the experience of weaving the mists through fundamentally dead flesh to be unpleasant. The disease which had killed and reanimated the undead was as much part of them as their aura and their bodies. Naheal's injuries weren't all that different. Whatever had left them had left behind some of itself, and to remove it would be to remove Naheal's own aura.

Breygrah had been placed in the Sanctuary infirmary, and Kex'ti promised to visit her. She was wounded in the same way that Naheal was, but the injuries were far more recent. Hopefully, there was something he could do to help her.

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Breygrah didn't wake in the same place she passed into a restless, dreamless sleep. There was a basin nearby filled with red tinted bandages; the ones on her arms, neck, and legs were fresh. She didn't move too much at first, she had plenty of experience of sleeping off wounds, and too much action would just annoy her. She was more concerned with how long she had been asleep rather than when she was moved. At least she felt like she was out of the way.

She moved stiffly when she sat up, everything ached, though it wasn't nearly as bad as before. Cerunan was a wonder for her, but the dull pulsing pain remained. She held her forehead and rubbed it for several moments, and just as she was going to stand, a hand came from seemingly nowhere to keep her from rising. The monk gave her a smile, which she returned with a nod. She wasn't going anywhere now, but at least she didn't have to sit here alone for now. She gratefully accepted a large mug full of cold water, and had to force herself to not gulp it down all at once.

Brey laid back again and explained to Kex'ti everything that went on, how she got into this helpless situation. The door bursting across the room that just missed her, the shadow-wolves, the elf woman and the tauren. She pressed against the bandage on her neck as she spoke, the pressure seemed to relieve at least a fraction of the ache returning as she became more alert. She frowned as she thought of Naheal's own wound, and knowing that it still bothered him made her wonder what would have to endure.

"May I?" He gestured toward it. She nodded, and was about to pull it off herself, but figured she should let him do it, since he could see it better. Once it was peeled off, the mists were already at work cooling her skin.

"You, know." She had a little laugh to herself. "When I said before you could be of assistance sometime, I certainly did not think it would be something like this."

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Kex'ti smiled. "The biggest crime is inaction."

The mists swirled between Kex'ti's fingers as he probed the wounds. To his surprise, it was possible to sever bits of the corruption, but some fragments could be shaved down. As he pressed the mists into the bruise colored sections of Breygrah's aura, she winced. Kex'ti relaxed the pressure of his own aura.

"No, I think that's helping," said Breygrah. "It's just unpleasant. It feels like wet fur in the cold."

Weaving the mists was difficult, and he began to grow tired. Sensing exhaustion, he wove Breygrah's wounds closed and attempted to diffuse the pain. He felt that Breygrah's aura was still distorted. Her fear and panic at the attack was consuming her, and if she didn't calm down, her body wouldn't heal.

"Do you want to talk about it?" The elf asked.

Just as Kex'ti withdrew his focus, he felt the corruption snarl through the mists back at him. He shuddered, and felt a cold sweat. A fear he'd last experienced against the Sha dripped down his spine.

Breygrah noticed Kex'ti's reaction. He reached to his belt and drew his jug, taking a long pull. He gestured that it was okay with his other hand. Despite the heft and formidable nature, he'd missed the feeling of Pandaren bamboo and had requisitioned an order from one of the numerous merchants making their way through Warspear. He'd use the wooden staff when he didn't need to defend himself...But given recent events, those places were few and far between. It was fitting that the first staff had held up until it did.

"Sorry," he continued, "just forgot to take my medicine this morning."

His helm and staff rested against the nearby table, and Kex'ti sewed up his bag of herbs. Elves were known for their sense of hearing moreso than olfactory prowess. Kex'ti's armor smelled new, but his sharp, medicinal odor was still recognizable and distinct. Breygrah had known a few mistweavers in her journeys. Mostly Pandaren. But the elf's lack of fur seemed to soak in the smell rather than baffle it.

"Breygrah?" Distracted by the smell, Breygrah snapped to attention. There was still a deep pain, but the monk had mitigated it.

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Breygrah blinked a few times to get her focus, then nodded. A hand raised to inspect the closed wound, it was still tender and warm to the touch but she could move more comfortably now. She tossed the bandage towards the others nearby. The ache wasn't anything that she couldn't handle, and she had nursed herself back from worse, or so she thought. Kex'ti looked at her expectantly. What should she say?

"I just... I need to take better care of myself. Be more careful." She ripped the remaining bandages from their places and threw them toward the pile, but they weren't heavy enough for it to feel satisfying. The pangs that came with her rapid movement atop the growing restlessness frustrated her. Another attempt to rise was shot down by a look from the elf, so she instead rested her elbows on her knees and cradled her head in her hands.

"That is nonsense. And you know that." She could hear the frown in his voice. "Speak to me."

"I don't know why you concern yourself with me. I have spent much of my time wandering alone, and I have never had to be under anyone's care. I have not had to have anyone else guard me. I have fought the undead. Giants. Dragons. And I could not bat away these, things that are created out of nothing but the shadows around me. Especially never had to do so while also threatened by someone I once perhaps called a friend. My own chieftain tells me my problems are my own. I just need to learn to deal with it. The spirits were ever but a whisper in my ear but now that is vanished as well. Draenor afflicts my senses. I can't control myself as I once did, I am too quick to despair, or... anger."

She sounded bitter, but the monk's hand on her shoulder made her aware of herself. He noticed her heart pounding and quick breath before she ever would. She heard a slight shift nearby, but it was heavy. Could Brammorn be close by? She didn't expect him here. A deep breath invaded her senses with the herbal aroma once more, it was greatly though oddly soothing. Perhaps she could change the subject. "That is a curious mixture. I haven't worked with herbs myself, since... Oh, the assault on Naxxramas."

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"Ah. That took more bravery than I was capable of, to assault the lich's citadel." Kex'ti's mind was elsewhere, but noticed Breygrah's attempt to shift the subject. "Breygrah, I can relate to feeling helpless...you're in safe company." Kex'ti's attention was focused on the small slivers of darkness in her wounds, and how they flared in response to her distress.

"You aren't alone. It's not healthy to carry those burdens alone when merely talking about them can bring you peace."

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Her brow creased. "I am not supposed to feel helpless" she muttered quietly. "I did not think I would leave that place. I could have handled that brute on my own again, but the wolves made it impossible. When I eventually got back to my own encampment I was exhausted, and I could not even let myself sleep unless the room was fully lit. They haunted my sleep, I got no rest. I heard them howling and tearing at me, and I could not stop it." She was no longer suspicious of shadows or the dark, but she was anguished all the same. She was suddenly aware of the warmth of her wounds, she inspected her arms before placing a hand over her neck once again. It felt cool against the damaged skin, if only temporarily. She was just thankful the pain didn't magnify instead.

"I do understand that I am not wanting for good company, even with all of my order scattered abroad." She took a breath to try and calm her pulse again. "Even an attack on the ziggurat now seems like merely a chore compared to what we all do now." She couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity. She took a look around in hunt of her equipment before even remembering she took the trek from her own post without them. There was another heavy shift, she couldn't quite pinpoint where exactly it was from, but she knew it was the death knight keeping his watch from somewhere, just as the mage had promised. And with the monk at her side, she knew she was surely guarded, but didn't like feeling defenseless herself. She bit the inside of her cheek in reflex. "It has been some time since I have felt so safe at any place, however. Aside from perhaps the Bluffs. I do not want to appear ungrateful. I couldn't begin to describe my gratitude. I just can't get those beasts out of my head."

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Kex'ti nodded and drew out a pair of boxes packed with ice.

"If nothing else, I've found that food tends to help calm my nerves. Perhaps I'm more pandaren than I thought," Kex'ti chuckled.

But Breygrah only shook her head. Somewhat downcast, Kex'ti put the lunches away.

"This whole place seems strange," said Breygrah. Kex'ti nodded, and focused his chi on her aura, particularly around the wounds. As Breygrah worked her way through her story, Kex'ti noticed the dark motes in her wounds flared along with her emotional state. Subtly, imperceptibly, Kex'ti used lingering fragments of the mists to attempt to excise more of the shadow. Breygrah patted the back of her nape and forearm as Kex'ti bled off and dissolved. Kex'ti felt sick to his stomach even as his mind seized on the apparent breakthrough. He earnestly hoped he had helped Breygrah with his conversation and healing...but she had helped him test a rather unsavory theory. The curse responded to negative emotion. Maybe not singly, but it was a factor which helped burn the wounds deeper. Given that wounds left by the worgs, or the curse, or whatever, hurt badly. It was a remarkably deadly combination.

As he left to the Blackrock Foundry, Kex'ti found his armor heavier around him than before. But he had to tell the Commander what he'd learned.

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-Brammorn-

Brammorn paced down the hallway of the barracks, his stride a calm yet determined one as he made for his post. Lady-armor was still resting peacefully last he checked on her, which was too long ago for his liking. Unfortunately, Tusk had began an uproar outside, the enormous ebon-furred mammoth trumpeting in anger, forcing Brammorn to temporarily abandon his charge.

It seems a few drunken guardsman had taken a liking to Tusk, and attempted to scale the beast in their inebriated state...which in turn caused the undead creature to grab one with his trunk and toss him like a rag doll. Brammorn had exited in time to calm his giant steed before he began rampaging throughout Sanctuary's garrison. With the drunkards now within the watch-commander's custody, the death knight returned to his duty. He passed a strange looked elf with an ever stranger stick tied to the back of his frame who alighted with a cordial smile as he passed. Brammorn paid little heed, the purple tabard he wore marking the elf as one of the Sanctuary, who the hulking tauren had been ordered to not agitate.

As he approached. he could hear the telltale signs of busywork of one waking. An enormous hand gripped its tiny handle, crushing the brass knob like a child would tissue paper. A dissatisfied grunt echoed in his helm as he pushed the door open to see Lady-armor sitting by her lonesome on her bed, staring at the door. A calm, albeit questioning smile pursed her lips as he awkwardly shoved his over-sized self halfway into her quarters.

"Lady-armor...awake...?" He asked, pleased to see her up and about.

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"Yes Brammorn. I am awake" she replied, her smile widened at his interest. "Wait right there, we don't want to make them have to repair their building now, do we?" Breygrah rose quickly, which caused her to feel light-headed, but she steeled herself and lifted her plate from the floor to her shoulder. One hand held it in place when she stood upright again, the other she used to hold herself steady against the wall. "Don't worry friend, I'm going to be fine."

The dizziness passed more quickly than she expected. The warrior strode toward the death knight with only the slightest limp in her step, but she felt a sudden rejuvenation. "Come on, Brammorn. Let's go to my encampment. We have much to prepare for."

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-Brammorn-

He nodded silently, seeing her walk towards the door. Moving to the side as to not impede her path, Brammorn suddenly noticed the small complication in her stilted gait. A look of concern crossed his face, evident even in the glowing pale blue eyes that his kind bore.

As Breygrah came through the door, Brammorn came to her side cautiously. An arm tucked around her back as the death knight shifted some of her own weight to himself, though trying to keep as much of a distance as possible to avoid contact with his necrotic body as he did so.

Breygrah's voice raised in alarm at the sudden touch, but was quickly interrupted by her unholy comrade. "Huuuuurt........Bram....morn....heeeeeelp."

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