Eclipse: The Jaws of Madness

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Dire Maul.

Naheal checked over his gear one last time. Last night, he had gotten the rest of his gear out of Sanctuary's garrison, including all of the fel magic tomes that he had collected over his years. But that's what mattered. Today, he'd go to Dire Maul. Find the book before she does. Already he had destroyed the knowledge he had gathered up and now, he wanted, inexplicably, to go to Dire Maul. She shouldn't be the alpha. Should I go alone? They'll only get in the way.

Naheal shook his head, trying to shake the dark thoughts from the back of his mind, but nothing really worked. He sighed and closed his eyes. He wouldn't leave his quarters for a bit longer. Instead, he'd just wait on Taozhu and Breygrah. It shouldn't be too long of a trip with a mage to help with transport, but still. Wolves travel in packs.

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The nightmares were unrelenting still, but it was becoming easier to control herself. Sleeping among the warm Nagrand winds had been good for her.

The trip to Dire Maul was important, and must be completed as soon as possible, but that was not all that was on her mind. Not all that she must prepare for. Breygrah quickly scrawled a note and left it just before dawn as she was on her way.

'I will be back in time, I promise.'

She took the quickest flight back to the freeze of Frostfire and got to work. Weight was added to her old set of armor, and she began her training with her two enormous swords. Her meditation was slashing, stabbing, dancing around her targets as they were prey. Her prey. 'I am no one's prey' she repeated to herself, just as so many others have told themselves. 'Not his. Not hers.' She needed to be faster. She needed to be stronger. 'First, one target. Then to the next.' Brey let the cold sting her, the ache of her old wounds pushed her, hatred and rage were her tools.

This was not the time to get lost in anger, however. The sun was rising high, and she had spent enough time, for now. The greatswords were dropped into the ground to stand upright, the armor was discarded nearby as well. She brushed away the tiny drops of ice that formed over her brow as she made her way to the steaming spring nearby.

She held her orb in her hand and let it glow for several seconds before she spoke into it. "I will be on my way soon."

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Ammo. That's what was missing. He had his old shots, yes, but he was running low on special ammunition. Blast, poison, cursed... What was he missing? Chimera? He sighed. It had been a while since he used chimera, but still. He needed to replace his used ammunition. Hours on constructing new ammo. When that was done, he moved to explosives. Rockets. Boots. Harnesses. Bombs. Grenades. Mines.

While the workshop in Broden'ar did, at the very least, serve his purposes, something was missing. He needed more cores. He had maybe ten of the iron star power cores left and, while he could make other explosives, none quite matched their strength. Not enough. He punched the table. Not enough. Again and again, he just started striking the workbench in front of him. Rage boiled up in him. For whatever reason, he hated not having cores, but it eventually stopped mattering. Repeated *clang*s could be heard as he struck the table, driving his fist into the thing. He hadn't the strength to damage it, but he felt something... dull on his knuckles. Until the rage stopped.

Pulling his fist away from the table, he gazed at the blood stain he had left on it, pooling slightly into an indent or two in the thing. Where...?

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Taozhu breathed heavily as the world came to be around him, the familiar warm breeze of Nagrand replacing the soft temperate chill of Moonglade as his teleportation spell worked its charm. Broden'ar stood before him, a bastion of safety for his troubled self as he quickly made his way inside.

Still he could hear them barking and howling, still could he see the twisted auras painted in his mind's eye of that terrible abominable mixture of ancient and fel magics. The same worgs that had attacked Breygrah and Naheal, the same which inflicted those vile scars upon their very essence had found roost within one of the abandoned barrows of the Cenarion's homeland.

Taozhu had investigated the rumors circulating amongst the druids of the wolves that had been harassing their scouts, and had found the trail leading to an old barrow where many a druid once slept, tied to the Emerald Dream. Here he crept along through its dank and dark depths, his Arcane Eye zooming every which way, allowing him sight normally barred from him.

Barely into its interior had he stumbled across a small form, his orb granting him an image of the beast's actual look rather than its duplicious aura. Young, spritely, and not full-grown...a pup. He had stumbled into a breeding ground for the beasts, as if they were already weren't a big enough threat, who knew how many these creatures could churn out or how fast they grew?

The pup stalked him playfully at first, even seeing through the invisible cloak he sheathed himself within, much akin the demonic felhounds and their ability to detect mana itself. Playtime ended when the beast snarled viciously, and fangs were born as it sprang for his ankle, only to be slammed painfully by a blast of arcane by the panicked mage. It slumped against the wall before rising and whimpering balefully for aid...which came from deeper in the shadows of the barrow.

The eye zoomed down to where a new, more sinister growl echoed within the deeps. The worg was thrice the size of the youngling, and ten times more bloodthirsty by the sounds of it as it crept through the tunnels.

Taozhu heard it approached and saw the ravenous aura it produced from around the bends and twists of the tunnel, and quickly made to escape as he scribbled an emergency rune upon the surface of the wall. The pace quickened as the den's protector neared...he wouldn't finish in time.

A howl of the hunt reverberated throughout the empty halls, the mage its prey.

Only then was Taozhu saved as the cry of the predator became a cry of pain. The worg's aura suddenly came under assault by a foreign force, an onslaught of Holy magic surging throughout its frame as well as the remainder of its pack as all within the hovel began screeching in agony. A miraculous reprieve it seemed as the beast's advance was halted...for a time however as the aura did not fade, only flicker, signifying whatever had struck it had not managed to kill the creature.

The time to leave was nigh as he finished his rune, the worg only now just recovered as it bounded the final corner and made for him...only for its mystic meal to snatched away by the flows of arcane magic that whisked him to safety outside the barrow.

He needed to warn his allies in this affair, the worg's offspring could be disastrous if they reached maturity. He only hoped Naheal was within Broden'ar to speak with as he hobbled his way inside the gates of the compound.

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Brey was as refreshed as she was going to be. There was no answer from her orb, but she wasn't going to wait around for one, and set off again for the plains of Nagrand. The warmth was soothing, like Mulgore had always been. She took her time in getting back to Broden'ar to enjoy the breeze in her hair.

She didn't see anyone around when she arrived, but she was only really looking for Naheal or Taozhu. She did hear some dull rattles and thumps coming from what she guess was a workshop, instinctively her interest was to go see what it was. The scent told her it was the elf, and once she was close enough she could see the dark hair sway in the gently wafting current as he inspected his work. Her gauntlets hung from a strap on her belt and brushed noisily against the iron, chain, and hide of her armor as she approached. Her hands were up in faux caution.

"I do hope you do not wait for something to explode, yes?" She smiled playfully at him, at least until she noticed the blood on the bench.

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Naheal lowered his hand to his side, still dripping blood from it. He hadn't noticed that Breygrah joining him. Instead, his mind was fixed on what the hell that was. Could it happen again? He took several deep breaths, then looked to his hand. Not broken. Still hurts though. He looked up to the new arrival. "Brey?" He checked around. Several hundred rounds, near a hundred rockets, frost grenades... what happened? He thought for a few moments. Did I just lose a few seconds?

You're a danger.

Did I hurt someone?

Does it matter? You can't control yourself. No one's safe from you.

That can't be right.

You're a danger. That's unacceptable. After all, you did say...

Never again.

Did you mean it?

Naheal reached for the detonator on his belt. That's one oath that's unbroken. Never again.

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He didn't look himself. Breygrah looked at him with concern as she approached him, but aside from the first recognition, he seemed lost. Something had him agitated. She stood beside him, but he didn't seem to notice her any longer. Her hair still hung down freely after letting the breeze dry it, and just as she reached up to tie and tame it somewhat, she saw Naheal reach for his belt. Grabbing his wrists was an involuntary response, especially having spent enough time with him to have known exactly what he was reaching for.

"No. Naheal stop it!" He didn't acknowledge her, aside from trying to wrestle his hands from her grip. She purposefully didn't have a strong hold on him, but she could easily counter every maneuver he tried to reach for the switch. He said nothing, aside from what sounded like whispering to himself. She couldn't understand what he was saying, but she was more focused on controlling him anyway. "You are going to tire yourself out before me" she said to him markedly, but her voice was gentle. The expression on his face was vaguely familiar, and if she must wait him out, she would.

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Naheal snapped to his senses for a moment. He looked to Brey's eyes, then to his wrist. "What..." He took several deep breaths. "No. I didn't hurt you, did I?" He looked to her with concern. "I was just... overcome with rage. I don't know what--" Then it happened again. Rage. Rage and pain. Despair? And then, it just exploded. All at once. He moved to attack Brey.

* * * * *

Several explosions could be heard from the Sanctum as the explosive collars on Naheal's curses went off. Investigation reveals that they tried to break their bonds by force, resulting in detonating their explosive collars. While the scorch marks can easily be seen, all that remains of the Eredar are half a torso, their upper arms, and their legs.

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"You would have to try harder tha-" she was cut off by the first of his swings. He wasn't reaching for the switch anymore, so she let him throw his fists as he wished; she easily dodged every one. "You will tire yourself, Naheal." The absent look was back in his eyes, even if they were angry. Breygrah didn't let him get too close, or too far, until one madcap swing made him stumble past her and attempt to regain his footing. She stepped behind him and grabbed his elbows, and with a quick twist she set him down against the workbench with a thud. "I have more tricks than you," she said to him with her voice still calm as she studied him.

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Naheal took several deep breaths, his face pressed against the metal. Nice mate. He chuckled, seemingly at nothing. "I'm fine. Hopefully." He looked back to Brey, finally fully in control of his senses. "We need to get to Dire Maul. Tonight. Waiting on Taozhu is no longer an option." He waited a few moments for Brey to let him up. When she didn't, he grinned at her playfully. "I'm pretty sure that Cobrak and the others would be upset if we well..." he gave her a look up and down and a suggestive wink. "OW!" She twisted his arm a little before letting him up. "Let's go." He pulled a blue orb out of his pocket and spoke into it. "It's Naheal. We lack the time to wait. Brey and I are heading out now." He started out of Broden'gar as quickly as he could.

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((From Breygrah's point of view))

Dire Maul

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: He'll have to catch up. Let's go.

You nod.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Do you know what we are looking for?

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: Yes.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Good.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: We need to get to the library.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: I do not remember how to get around in this place.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: Neither do I.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: I think it's this way

Naheàl-TwistingNether frowns.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: Nope.

A sly smirk spreads across your face.

Taozhu-TwistingNether seems out of breath/

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Gree...tings...

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Tao, relax.

You smile at Taozhu-TwistingNether.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: I get lost in here.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Hm.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Elves are not known for practical architecture.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Where is Naheal?

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: I do not know where this library is.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: He was just with us...

You frown.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Library?

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Ah yes...

You nod.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: I believe we are in the wrong place then.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: I forget where it is. It has been some time since I have stepped into this place.E.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Libraries and scholary studies always face west, dear Brey.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Is that true?

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: or at least in Kaldorei culture they do/

You grin wickedly.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: I never knew that.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: You are very quick for pandaren, Taozhu.

You grin wickedly at Taozhu-TwistingNether.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Only when need to be.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: It is not so easy to keep up with you.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: And I am usually pretty quick myself.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: The arcane does have its uses.

Taozhu-TwistingNether laughs.

You smile.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: I will take your word on that.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Though it is clear you are correct.

Breygrah-Ravenholdt totally doesn't see Malhavik.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: In here.

Naheàl-TwistingNether looked around quickly.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Oh.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: We need to move fast.

Naheàl-TwistingNether looks through the shelves.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: No destroying anything.

A sly smirk spreads across your face.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: Not here.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Search for anything with this symbol upon it.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: It's here, Tao

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: The black book.

You blink your eyes.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: It's here.

Taozhu-TwistingNether displays several runes in the air of a few different symbols.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: We need to get to it. Now.

Naheàl-TwistingNether scans the shelves.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: There are so many...

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: This is it?

Naheàl-TwistingNether climbs up a few shelves and pulls a massive black tome from the shelves.

Naheàl-TwistingNether doesn't try to open it, but he does examine it. "Yeah. The energies are right."

Naheàl-TwistingNether nods.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: This is it.

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: What is it?

You blink at Malhavik-TwistingNether.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: A means to end this.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Keep your distance.

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: You found the book did you?

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: They will share what they find later.

You stare Malhavik-TwistingNether down.

Naheàl-TwistingNether smirks as energies from the book blends with his own.

Malhavik-TwistingNether blinks at Naheàl-TwistingNether.

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: He's using the book...

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: What?

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: And you're not at all suspicious.

You look at Naheàl-TwistingNether.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Naheal you must wait!

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Give it to me.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: No.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: I will carry it for you.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: No one touches this book.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Must I take it?

Naheàl-TwistingNether looks at you.

You peer at Naheàl-TwistingNether searchingly.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: You know I only wish to aid you.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Let me help you. I will carry it for you.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Naheal, please.

Taozhu-TwistingNether suddenly has his eyes widen.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Naheal! You must drop that book this instant!

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Its...its doing...something to you! Your aura...its....

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Naheal.

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: Ugh... I don't have time for this.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Let me have it.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Please.

Breygrah-Ravenholdt extends a hand slowly toward Naheal, but waits for him to give it to her.

Malhavik-TwistingNether throws an orb of shadow at Naheal and Breygrah.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: What are you doing?!

Naheàl-TwistingNether holds the tome in front of him as a shield, which absorbs the shadowbolt.

Breygrah-Ravenholdt stumbles into Naheal when the orb hits her. "No!"

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: Get out of my way mage!

Naheàl-TwistingNether quickly moves around Breygrah and approaches Malhavik.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: No! You will stay put until we can...

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Naheal!

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Naheal...what are you-!

Breygrah-Ravenholdt grabs onto Naheal's shoulders.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: What the hell are you doing?

Naheàl-TwistingNether grabs Malhavik, pulling away from, Breygrah. He lays a curse on him - a test - from what he's been working on.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Breygrah! STOP HIM!

Breygrah-Ravenholdt grumbles and reaches to take the book, for real this time.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Naheal give the book to me!

Malhavik-TwistingNether hisses and pulls from Naheals grasp. Where naheal had touched him blacky inky mana visibly oozed out and dripped to the floor.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: Get in my way again, Warlock, and I'll treat you as I will her.

Taozhu-TwistingNether reels sudden as the black mana corrupts his runework, clutching his head in pain as it backfires upon him.

Taozhu-TwistingNether kneels down.

Malhavik-TwistingNether nods at his demon, and she swing three of her four swords at Naheals head.

Breygrah-Ravenholdt grabs Naheal with both of her arms and snatches him from her reach.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Both of you, stop it!

Taozhu-TwistingNether regains himsel as the struggles continue.

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: This fool just placed ANOTHER curse on me with that damned book!

Naheàl-TwistingNether relaxes. "I did. And it's the one that I intend to use on *her.* Good to see it works."

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Naheal.

Breygrah-Ravenholdt places one of her hands on the book and keeps it in a tight grip. "Let go of the book."

Malhavik-TwistingNether begins breaking the soul shards floating around him and drawing there essence into a very large spell.

Taozhu-TwistingNether 's voice lacks any of its former tone, now its a warning.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Drop the book.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Please do not force my hand in order to make you do so.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: I will not let you go until you let go of it.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Naheal. Hold on to yourself.

Naheàl-TwistingNether takes several deep breaths, regaining control of himself. "We can't let someone who doesn't have the curse to hold on to this thing."

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: No, give it to me. There is only so much I can do to control you.

Naheàl-TwistingNether looks at Malhavik-TwistingNether.

Breygrah-Ravenholdt tightens her grip around him, but more of an embrace than to control him.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Naheal, whatever happened to your spirit, that book is only making worse.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Please, just give it to me.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: It will be safe with me. I will not let him have it.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: He's no threat for now.

Naheàl-TwistingNether stares Malhavik-TwistingNether down.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: I do not care.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: I will not let this harm you more than it already has.

Breygrah-Ravenholdt forces Naheal to turn and look at her.

Malhavik-TwistingNether weaves the spellwork into a summoning ritual, and brings forth his voidlord.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: The curse wasn't one from the tome.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Please. You are not the only one I must keep safe.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: I do not care what it is from, give me the book.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: ...for now. But you will not leave my sight.

Naheàl-TwistingNether looks at you.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: Understand?

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: That is fine.

Naheàl-TwistingNether releases the book.

Naheàl-TwistingNether turns to Malhavik.

Breygrah-Ravenholdt clutches it tightly, and looks to the warlock.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: Unfortunate that I had to use that tool so early.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: And on the wrong target, no less.

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: You would use the beasts very own tool?

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: You are fools.

You glare angrily at Malhavik-TwistingNether.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: You can fight at my side or get crushed under my heel.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: That was a warning. Do not stand in my way.

Malhavik-TwistingNether laughs.

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: I don't need to fight you.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: You two, stop encouraging each other.

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: You're pride will kill you for me.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: Now. I want you to give me a reason why I should let you flee.

Naheàl-TwistingNether stares Malhavik-TwistingNether down.

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: Strike me down elf.

Breygrah-Ravenholdt looks to Taozhu, then back to Naheal. She walks around to block the mage from the warlock when he approaches.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Stop it.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: You are both idiots right now.

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: Hmph... I'm leaving.

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: Stop me if you wish.

You glare angrily at Malhavik-TwistingNether.

Naheàl-TwistingNether grabs his collar

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: I didn't say you could leave.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: I need an agent. And if you do wish to see her done, then you'll be it.

Taozhu-TwistingNether whispers several small incantations to his Eye as it fades from sight.

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: What do you propose?

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: Deliver a message to you mistress. Tell her that I have the tome and she can come and take it if she so wishes.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: Speak nothing of the curse I used on you.

You look at Naheàl-TwistingNether.

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: She will know.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: Then the trap is a good one.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: Scurry away, rat.

Naheàl-TwistingNether releases Malhavik.

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: Before this is all over.

[Malhavik-TwistingNether]: We'll have words again good elf.

Breygrah-Ravenholdt keeps her arm wrapped around the tome, and places the other hand on Naheal's arm.

You blink at Naheàl-TwistingNether.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Naheal, what is happening?

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Naheal....hold still a moment.

[Naheàl-TwistingNether]: I lost most of my cattle, so keep that in mind, Taozhu.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: [Titan] Mandarius, uun viouso Norgannon mil akanti!

Taozhu-TwistingNether 's chant cause a rune to wrap around Naheàl's body, causing an eerie purple glow as he is enveloped by the ritual.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Naheal.

Taozhu-TwistingNether focuses the glow to condense over Naheal's skin, turning him a shade normally reserved for night elves.

Naheàl-TwistingNether stares Taozhu-TwistingNether down.

Breygrah-Ravenholdt slides the tome into a satchel, and ties it closed. She ties it firmly to her belt as she watches Naheal.

Taozhu-TwistingNether 's face bears a bead of sweat before the ritual disperses.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Taozhu, what is going on?

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Damnations....I thought that might work...

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: Naheal's spirit, there is...something....I do not know what...but there is a blackness...much akin to the wounds you both bear.

You frown with disappointment at Naheàl-TwistingNether.

Breygrah-Ravenholdt reaches out to Naheal again, but more gently this time.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: WHen he grasped the tome, this....taint became agitated and began...

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: spreading...

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: What is happening with you?

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: It still is happening....though far less so now.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Naheal... Please.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: You will not be touching this thing again until we know what it's doing, exactly.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: I believe that is to be best.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: I do not doubt my ability to keep it away, at least.

[breygrah-Ravenholdt]: Are you alright, Taozhu?

Breygrah-Ravenholdt keeps her gaze on the elf.

[Taozhu-TwistingNether]: I am quite alright....for now.

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Three evenings ago

She was in between worlds, as she often was. But that didn't stop the Light from reaching her.

Vionora gasped and doubled up in pain as the energy surged upward. It was like being burned alive, but from the inside out. Of all the tortuous things she'd experienced, this was one of the worst. As she collapsed in agony, a part of her mind detachedly ranked it above being burned alive traditionally, but still not worse than the moment she should have truly died. After that, it was just a matter of waiting for it to be over; a time which would always come, if one waited long enough. This she knew.

Dimly, she became aware of a distant fury. Accalia, and her scions, were enraged. Their howls reached her where she lay, slowly coming to her senses again. But they did not trouble her.


She pushed herself up. The fel inside of her was agitated now, a swirling miasma into which the Light had pierced, burning its way through. But it was not enough. She raised her left hand before her face, gazing at the demonic seal inscribed on its back. The glowing rune was nothing more than an indicator of what had been done to her soul, ensuring even the most fundamental thing she had considered herself had been defiled. Now she understood: the amount of Light it would take to sear it away would be no less than enough to consume her soul entirely.

Her hand curled into a fist as the truth settled over her again, as bleak and sickening as the fel inside of her. She could sense where this had come from. Darrethy had offered to try to help her, once, but even then she had turned away. It didn't matter that now she knew it was impossible. This was what she deserved. There had never been anything good or pure to her.

She got up and resumed walking. The howls echoed around her.

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Last night

She felt it the moment Naheal laid his curse on Malhavik. It was like being plunged into cold water. All the power that had come up from the warlock – and he had been one of her most prolific curse-spreaders – suddenly tapered into a weak trickle.


She was weaker now. It was almost half her power reduced. But she had to take the book. Without it, she had no chance of ending this.

The trickle was weak, but she could still trace it.

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