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Naheal

Eclipse: Hope

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Naheal stared into the horizon in Eversong, out to the western sea into the sunset. He hadn't returned to Silvermoon for a while – Eversong especially. Left alone with his thoughts, he reflected on the past. Seven years ago. Today. What he had experienced in life. What it was like being dead. Despite what Breygrah, Taozhu and other said, he was dead. There was no getting around that. No part of that was going to work out in the end. He liked to pretend he wasn't dead – Rathas even helped with that – but the truth was that he didn't have a heartbeat.

Just on the edge of his senses, he felt the familiar person. He glanced her way to confirm. Vionora alright. He turned back to the horizon. Probably the last person he wanted to see in this state. They stood in silence for a moment before she broke it.

“Do you remember that Accalia is strongest at dusk and dawn?”

“Yep,” he nodded, “though that's not entirely true. She's strongest at the eclipse, but that's not coming anytime soon.” Vionora didn't respond at first. Remained silent. What does she want?

Again, she broke the silence. “How is it being dead?”

Right to the core of the matter. So, he responded with the first thing that came to mind. “Cold.”

“...That's it? Cold?”

“First thing that I noticed. It's fucking cold.” He paused, giving it some thought. “It's like watching life unfold in front of me but never being able to interact with it. Not trully anyway.”

Vionora nodded. “Yes.”

He continued. “People treat me like I'm still alive, but it isn't right. I'm dead. Long dead. The truth is that I'm outside of the cycle of life and death”

“Being on the outside...” she almost whispered.

Something didn't add up, so he asked. “Tassha... are you here to finish the job?” He turned to her. They met each other's eyes. Something was there. Pain?

“Tassha died as soon as she was born.”

This isn't Accalia. “That's false. The girl I'm speaking with right now is named Tassha.”

Her eyes flickered. Amber? “Tassha knew what hope was.”

Naheal turned away from her, thinking aloud. “She's not dead. Maybe... lost? No, that's not the right word.”

Vionora responded with some anger. “What is this? False sympathy to try to lure me into a vulnerable state? Don't insult my intelligence. I know you condemn me for everything I've done.”

“I would with the same breath that I condemn myself for everything that I've done.” He said without a second thought. She's done worse than I have, but there's still something there...

“I know.” She said, her tone not lightening. “And you think that redeems you.”

“No. I don't.” Naheal shook his head. “I just want to make the world a bit better before I leave it. Nothing can erase the past.”

“Nothing can make the world better, either.”

“I refuse to believe that.”

“You're better off that way.” She almoust sounded... regretful.

He took in several deep breaths, thinking on his past. “People are stupid, cruel, selfish and destructive, but they're trying.” And I will fight to give them that chance.

“And you're lucky life has allowed you to continue believing that.”

No. It's a lie. It's all a lie. “Do you have any idea what I've seen, Tassha? How many lies I have to tell myself to keep that view?” he said quietly.

“I know what I've seen.”

He responded quickly, before she had a chance to continue. “I've seen nobles beat children for wanting to eat properly that day. I've seen children with talent that could make them go FAR in the world be cast aside because of sheer luck - an accident of birth.” He heard her shift. “I've seen families cast aside their members because they chose to take a route that they didn't approve of. I've seen whole guilds built upon the premise of helping people turn their backs when people needed them most.” All true. All things that had not only happened to him, but to people he had seen before.

A few moments passed before someone continued speaking. “All this, and you can still indulge in self-delusion. I suppose I'm just defective in comparison.” Vionora said to him. Angry.

Wrong. “No. You just chose a different path.” Maybe I can show her. “There is another way.”

“I tried the other way!” She yelled at him. “I just suffered MORE!”

“As did I.” He responded.

Her eyes flashed amber. “You think you're such a saint.”

“I'm far from it.”

“So humble, too.”

“I'm a monster.” He said tensely. “Nothing will ever change that.” Vionora stopped. “The past cannot be erased. What I was then will never go away. When people choose to hate me? It makes sense. It works. It makes the world work in my mind. Monsters should be fought against, right?”

Vionora nodded. “Yes...”

“I look to the future. I look to what I can do.”

“You still believe there's something you can do.” Vionora balled her hands into a fist.. “That's the difference.”

Is she so blind? Or does she choose to ignore...? “Do you really think there's nothing you can do?”

Vionora paused. “...There are few things I can do.”

There we go! “Do you know how many you healed in Shattrath? Before all this mess?” She met his eyes. “You kept families together. Saved children from being orphans. In a way, you did far more than I ever could. I'm no healer. I'm a weapon. I'm made to kill and harm.”

She raised her hand to her chest and clenched it into a fist. She's in pain. Not physical, though... “And all of them just end up suffering.”

I see now. “Life is harsh sometimes, but there's also some beauty to it. You help preserve that beauty.” All things in balance... “Maybe you want to cut out the harshness, but...” he paused, thinking of a way to put the next bit. “Yours is a... not wholly unique position. Not many can claim to be able to help preserve the beauty of life.”

“You don't get it.” Vionora said with a cold tone, but not one devoid of all emotion. “It's just an illusion.”

“Grind the universe into it's finest grains. Search the world throughout. You will not find a single grain of justice. It's the great lie of mortality.” He said. Something he truly believed. He paused to let that sink in for her. “But I fight for the lie to one day make it real. Real enough anyway.”

She met his eyes again. “It doesn't matter what you believe, anyway.”

Naheal nodded, in agreement. “Maybe, but I can be pretty stubborn.”

“Do you pity me, then, or hate me?”

“Neither.” He said truthfully. “I hate Accalia, not you. You I don't know well enough to pity or hate.” I thought you and Accalia were both the same, but it looks like I was wrong.

“Liar. You despise me. You blame me. I know you do.” She almost yelled at him. “I've seen it in your eyes.” That was Accalia that I hate-- His thoughts were instantly cut off when she beat him with a blast of power, knocking him to the ground. When he hit, he felt a familiar presence suddenly stop. Rathas! His runeblade was gone from his back. He slowly got up as pain shot through his body. “Say it. Say you hate me. Or pity me.”

“I will not lie to you, Tassha.”

“Stop calling me that!” She yelled at him as she blasted him to the ground again, sending his runeblade skittering further from him. He slowly looked up to her. I can help you. I really can. She grabbed him by the hair and pullled him to his feet, then bashed his face into the ground. “Don't look at me like that!”

Pain shot through his face again as he felt bones break. “Tassha...”

“STOP CALLING ME THAT!” She yelled at him as she kicked him in the stomach, sending him sprawling, landing near his runeblade.

He only spoke. “Tassha...” She clenched her fist, her mark showing clearly on the back of her hand. Grab the blade, he heard Accalia say to him, Grab it. Slay her and become my new herald. He gave Vionora a warm smile.

“What are you doing? Why are you doing this?” She demanded from him.

“I don't want to fight you. You're not my enemy.”

“ I'm everyone's enemy.” She said with a hint of resignation.

Embrace the monster, right? He felt a grinding pain begin in the back of his skulll as he stood. Pain shot throughout his body – her blows had taken their toll. He slowly limped to her, much to her amazement. She thinks I'm going to attack her. “Not everyone's. Some realize that you and Accalia are different people.” He rested a hand on her shoulder only to have her knock it away from her.

“It doesn't matter if they do or don't. They blame me regardless.”

“Do I? Does Xara? We're the people who knew what happened last time.” Xara might, but she understood when we got Sinaku back on our side. ...right? “Last I checked, Taozhu recognizes that you aren't the same as Accalia. As does Breygrah.”

“You would all kill me regardless.” She said firmly. “I'll kill them all, Naheal.”

“I would only kill you if you gave me no other choice.”

“There is no other choice.”

Naheal put his hand on her head. An old friend of his enjoyed it whenever he did... and it always seemed to calm her down. “Isn't there? Maybe there is and we just haven't found it yet.” He responded quietly, in as soothing of a voice as he could. He tried to calm her as much as he could. Not quite like soothing an animal, but like helping a friend who had just lost their loved ones. As he looked down at her, there was a shocked look on her face. Not quite angry, but not quite happy. It was like it wasn't entirely unwelcome, but she didn't think that kind of attention would come from him. She reached up her hand to meet his and intertwined her fingers with his.. You're not Brey, but... I'll let that go for now. You need this it seems. I'm sorry that the world's been so cruel to you, but you'll be alright.

“...Do it now. Whatever it is you're planning. Just end it. It doesn't matter. I'm going to suffer.”

We all suffer, Tassha. What's important is that we try to keep that to a minimum. You know what it's like to suffer and can help others better than one who's never experienced hardship. She closed her eyes, as if expecting him to kill her. No. I'm not taking this chance to do better from you. “ No one has better insight into this thing than you do. With your help, we can pul this wolf from you. We did it with Jazziks. We did it with Sinaku. We'll do it with you, too.”

Her lips twisted into a horrid smile. “Oh. That's what it is you're doing.” Her eyes flicked open, now completely amber.

“I will not back down from this position.” He said in response. Accalia. Endure it and she'll break free. She bent his hand back, forcing him to his knees as he grit his teeth in pain. I am Aldor. I am a Vindicator. I will not yield to the darkness. I will not sacrifice the innocent to achieve justice. “Tassha!” He called to her. “Fight this thing. It isn't you. You can resist it!”

“I told you,” she wrench his wrist back, eyes glowing amber. “There is no other choice. And this is me fighting, Naheal.” Finally, his wrist snapped.

He took in a sharp breath, but held in the scream of pain. I will endure any hardship needed to achieve the greater good. My life in service to those who need it. And none need my life now more than this woman. She is not the killer she believes herself to be! “If that's so true, then crush my skull.” I'm sorry, Brey.

“You won't win this contest of wills. I will destroy you.” She said to him with a smile. “Fight back, while you still can.” A taunt. Sort of. Though, it was more of a demand. I won't. I refuse. I will not raise my blade against you. NOT ONE MORE, YOU HEAR ME, ACCALIA!? She grabbd his tabard an pulled him to his feet. “Fight me, dammit!” She threw him to the ground near his runeblade. Is this it? Ritualistic suicide by combat? I refuse! He slowly rose to his feet, leaving his runeblade alone. My blade is only for those I wish to kill. You, I have no desire to kill! “Fine.” She said, reaching down and grabbing his runeblade. While Rathas didn't immediately reject her, she seemed to do something to the woman. She stiffened, then dropped the runeblade... as it disappeared. “Do you believe me yet?”

“That you'll kill me?”

“Yes.”

“No.” he said, putting stress on the last portion. “Because you haven't.You're trying to get me to go after you desperately. It won't work! I won't attack you, Tassha! She reached out her hand as shadows coalesced into a dagger. A pure black thing with streaks of amber and fel magic in it. “You keep threatening, striking. Even took away my weapon, but I will say this again. I will not fight you, Tassha. You aren't my enemy. Accalia is.” She siezed him by the tabard and drew him close again. You gonna do- His thoughts got got cut off as she buried the dagger in his chest. I'll be damned. She'll be ok, though. Give it some time and she'll be alright. He reached out and took her head as he would someone who was in mourning. “It's going to be alright,” he whispered. She stared at him, eyes wide with shock as if she didn't expect him to let her kill him... as he lost the strength in his legs. “It's ok, Tassha.” She shook her head, whispering “no” as he slumped into her. His thoughts turned to his mentor – the warlock that taught him of fel magic who died in his experiements. “You're going to be alright. Keep moving forward..”

“No... Stop...”

“Press on. Fight this thing. You'll be alright.” She gently lowered him to the ground as his legs gave out underneath him, resting his head in her lap. He looked to her. “Hey... the stars are out.” He couldn't see the sky, but didn't think she'd get what he was talking about yet. She stared at him in shocked disbelief as he heard Brey's voice from the orb. He couldn't register what she said, but she sounded angry. “...right. She's going to cry.”

“Stop! I won't regret this! I won't!” She grabbed the dagger and jerked it from his chest.

Who are you trying to convince? “It'll be alright, Tassha.” He heard someone approach. Heavy footsteps.

“What...” He heard a voice. A familiar one. He looked to see who it was.

“No... it won't be all right... nothing will be all right...” Vionora whispered to herself.

“Brey...” he whispered as the tauren stared at the two, then at the wound in Naheal's chest.

“Get away from him.”

“Brey. Stop.”

She came over to the pair and took Naheal into her lap. “No...” She called to him, though he couldn't quite hear her. “Where is your blade?”

Naheal looked to Vionora. “Tassha?” The blonde girl just stared at his chest. “She... showed up. We talked, then she attacked me. Stabbed me in the chest with a dagger.” Kind of a funny sequence of events, actually.

“It's not healing?”

Naheal shook his head. “My runeblade... is what kept me alive.”

“Where is it?”

“I think... she sent it to Twilight.”

“...No..” Vionora said, “you're still hoping.. you still think... I won't let you...”

“Please...” Brey whispered to him. “You are not doing this.” He whispered her name, but she kept going. “Give me his blade. Where is it.”

“Brey!” He almost yelled at her. The act hurt quite a bit, but the good news was that it was getting easier to just be. He was going numb.

Brey almost yelled at him. “Naheal, quiet. I will help you.”

“Hey...” Naheal took Brey's head and turned her toward him. I'm not coming back. Let go. Move on. Keep moving forward.

She ignored him for a moment. “Vionora, where is it.” He didn't see her response. Brey looked down to him and smiled.

“It's ok, Brey. I died a long time ago. I'm happy I got to spend some time with you.” Thank you.

“I am not fooling around. You are not dying.” She said, desperate. “You will be fine, you just need time.”

He smiled at her. “You're right. I'm already dead. Death is just catching up.”

“No. You are not. I told you I would take care of you, right?”

“Shh.... It's ok...” he felt the majority of his strength go. He closed his eyes.

“No!” Brey yelled at him, trying to wake him up.

“Stop.” Vionora said “Just stop.”

“You stop.” She slapped his face. “No. None of that. Naheal.”

He spoke one last sentence in Thalassian. “May you find peace in your life.”

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Years ago. Silvermoon.

A trinket. That's all it really was. Months of work to get the materials. Years of work to learn how to make it. Finally, he had a design. A simple one, but it seemed to work. Naheal was young. Still bright eyed – still untouched by the world. It had been five years since he had learned how to make his first machine, despite his father's insistence that he continue work as a gemcutter. So, he found a way to do both. After working with his father in learning how to set a proper gem, Naheal had put together a rather long, smooth bit of green skin. Nothing too major to look at, but it felt right. Then, he worked on the machinery inside.

Frogs were wet when you picked them up, so he had to think of a way to make it seem wet when you picked up the little machine. It wasn't going to be soft – that was just how it was going to have to be. He had to choose between soft – breakable – or solid – sturdy. He tried to find a medium. That's what frogs are, right? They aren't that soft. They've gotta live.

His “workshop” was barely that. A desk, maybe some tools that were useful for an engineer, and a jeweler's kit. Really, it was just a small corner of the house that they had lived in. There wasn't much to it. His father was a struggling jeweler and his brother was enrolled into schooling to become a magister. Naheal may have wanted to become a magister himself, but they could only afford to send one, so it was his brother that got it. Vasago. His red-headed twin that had embraced being a jeweler while Naheal couldn't stand working with it. Even as he came home, Naheal could hear his brother's voice.

“Whatcha makin', Naheal?” Vasago peered over his shoulder.

“A frog.”

“Plenty of frogs out there. Why ya makin' one?”

“Cuz it's special.”

“What makes it special?”

“Don't gotta feed it. Can just put it in a drawer and forget about it until ya wanna play with it.”

Vasago laughed at his brother. “That fer the noble girl that you've got a--” Naheal threw an oiled up rag at him. “Hey!”

“Shut up!”

“No!”

“You know it ain't like that.”

“She's a noble. Gonna eventually hafta realize that nobles an' common folk don't mix.”

“It ain't like that!”

“Oh? Then I'll just smash this!” Vasago picked up the frog and held it up.

“Hey!”

“So, what is it, then!? Ya like her?”

“Maybe! Maybe she's not like most nobles! Maybe she's fun ta be around! Maybe I jus' wanna do somethin' nice for her!” Naheal yelled at his brother.

“Folks are gonna hurt ya, y'know.”

“Yeah... Dad keeps sayin' that.”

“He's right, y'know. Jus' doesn' want ta see ya get hurt.” Naheal frowned at his brother. “But, ya put a lotta work into this. I ain' gonna take that from ya.” Vasago gave Naheal the frame of the frog.

“I'll be fine.”

“Like the time ya came home with a black eye and a broke arm?”

“That was diff'rent! Bunch o' bullies were beatin' up this kid, so I had ta stop 'em.”

“Think he may have deserved it?”

“Think that a guy deserves ta be beaten by five or six kids with sticks? Why?

Vasago sighed. “Fine, brother.”

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The Siege of Silvermoon

Weeks had passed since Arthas had returned, now a servant of the Scourge. What little Naheal had known of the man was that he was supposedly a rather kind – if somewhat arrogant – human, so this seemed out of character for him. Decades ago, he had left Silvermoon after he had given his friend the mechanical toad, for which he was rather violently rewarded. A kindness repaid with violence. Had he known at the time that it would set the tone for his life, he may have taken a different route, but it seemed that this was how it was going to be for him. His father had already managed to get Vasago to Dalaran before Silvermoon was put under siege, but he still worried. His father was a dark haired man. A jeweler with delicate features, but without the standing to ever get the recognition or backing needed in Silvermoon. Hell, if it wasn't for the emergency, they wouldn't have even returned to the city, but, with the plague...

“Boy. Pay attention.” Naheal was shaken out of his daze. The city was in a bit of an uproar. “They just sounded the alarm.”

“What's wrong, Father?”

“Lady Windrunner's fallen. There's whispers that she's being risen by Arthas.”

Fuck, Naheal thought. “So what do we do?”

“We find a way out of here-”

“And leave these people behind? I can't do that!”

“Dammit, boy,” his father yelled at him, “when are you going to learn that you can't save everyone?”

“That's a lesson I'll never learn, Father.” Naheal said firmly. “I'm going to help as many people as I can and that's my decision.” His father sighed. “Sorry, Father. You go on ahead. I'll catch up.” Naheal turned and ran toward the commotion. It was utter chaos in the city. Carnage was everywhere. People were being trampled. Ghouls attacked anyone that got in their way. The pristine walls and streets remained coated with a new, gruesome paint – one that would be forever seared into his mind. As he came to the bazaar, the carnage became completely apparent. Corpses everywhere were starting to get back up as necromancers conscripted new soldiers even as people were being attacked and ripped apart.

Finally, Naheal picked up a weapon – a greatsword from a fallen swordsman – and charged at the nearest ghoul, beating it back with all his might, but not being able to do much beyond piss it off. He got it's attention at least – and away from it's initial quarry. He hadn't paid attention to who it was and didn't care. He had the creature's attention and that's what he needed. “GO!” He yelled at the elf that he had just saved. With the ghoul now in tow, he moved on, looking for others he could pull away from the carnage. Arrows rained from what rangers still lived, a few of which had brought down the ghoul he had gotten the attention of.

He continued on. Fighting in various points – if that's what you could really call it. Flailing wildly was more like it, but still He had managed to get the attention of some ghouls and get them off of some civilians, but his lack of training was showing in the wounds he had taken. Finally, he found himself backed into a corner. He had already taken several hard injuries, none of which had received healing, and he was backed in by several ghouls when, finally, his father showed and tackled one of the ghouls. Congealed blood and rotten flesh few everywhere as the man threw one ghoul into another, then backed up, eyes on the undead. “Boy, you're really quite the hand--” They were cut off by an explosion from behind them. A blast that had turned some of the wall above them into rubble and sent it tumbling down on top of them. Naheal blacked out as his father knocked him to the ground.

* * * * *

Naheal slowly woke, groggy and in pain. His face and body was wet. He stunk. He felt like there was a weight... Wait... He opened his eyes and looked up to the second image that would be burned into his mind that day... and the days he spent buried in that rubble made sure he would never forget it. His father – what was left of him at least – on top of him. In-between the rubble and him. He had fought to give Naheal what air he could to live.... and in exchange had given his life. A day passed like this until he finally felt some of the rubble being moved above him. “Hey,” he cried. “Help!” But, nothing came. Days passed. Sometimes some rubble would be moved above him and he'd call for help. Others he just laid there, waiting for what he assumed would be his end. Until, finally, on his fifth day...

“Hey!” He heard a woman yell. “Hey, wake up!” He heard clothing shift. “Healer! I need a healer over here!”

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