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Qabian

Time Shattered

18 posts in this topic

Don't ask.

Just...

Don't.

That... thing is to blame for this. That thing and the Infinite. Or the Bronze. They're the same, yes?

I was trying...

I was...

We were...?

What was it?

I hate him. 

I have always hated him. I will always hate him.

It's refreshing. This hate. Everything and all the rest of dulled fragments of reflection. Hate is what slices through. Sweet, small, slicing through shadows, tiny candleflame hate. 

Nothing else. The rest is gone. Not even darkness. No shadow. Only blank, empty nothing. The rest is scattered, irretrievable, swept into a delirium vortex, unreal in every sense, and yet all of what is gone, what is lost, what is missing is the only real there is, ever has been, or ever will be.

Except the hate. The hate burns through. I've missed this. Haven't I?

I hate that, too.

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Suramar?

Suramar! That's what they're saying. So it isn't at the bottom of the sea. Yes! I must...

That's where...

No...

We already went...

How do you choose? When you've made a thousand choices, and they've all led in a circle? Even death repeats. When you've walked a thousand paths, how do you take a step? How do you know you won't circle back to the beginning? Again and again and again.

Every end is a dead end.

Time is a plague.

Yet here I am. All the roads have become one again. All the pieces I have lost have been returned. All the things that were never mine have been taken away.

All that remains is hate.

A thousand deaths reduced once more to a solitary life. 

Nothing ever changes. Chaos struggles, but all things circle.

I was born of hate.

Khadgar?

Why is it always Khadgar? Why does he...

But he didn't...

I can't remember. But I can. There's time missing. But it's not. It's not missing. There's too much of it. A line followed, then the ink splatters. A new path leads away from the flood. The line begins again.

I saw one of them. Tiny. I hear their horses screaming all the time, but this is the first true witness since the shadow's hand. I have no doubt they will pave the road to Suramar.

Why does this room smell of dog? And who left a skull on this desk?

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Ah, Dalaran. You will always reek of the sewers to me.

The Kirin Tor keep assigning me babysitters. It seems they remember several horrifying, dangerous, and quite rude things I did back when the city was in Northrend. All of the witnesses and complainants are long since missing or dead, but details of the incidents are still on the books, so they say, and they want to keep an eye on me.  

It might be endearing if I were someone else and they weren't such worthless, pathetic nobodies drunk on the belief of their own importance.

Not that I'm innocent of any of the accusations. I remember each one and more. But it's difficult to know what those around me believe happened, and what actions I only took in parallel. The longer I am awake, though, the more solid time becomes. Some of the past slides into clarity while the rest diffuses and fades when I don't focus on it.

Better to deny to anyone that I remember any of it, of course. Why would I, after all? I've been through so much.

The babysitters come in handy at times as cannon fodder, but don't seem to do anything to stand in the way of Alliance being Alliance.

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There are far more cattle in the Broken Isles than I was expecting. Though I have many times used the term cattle to insult Tauren - and due to personality defects of their own, they have yet to ever call me on it - the cattle out here can't even rightly be called Tauren. They let the Alliance walk all over them. They're just cattle. Usually, I'd blame that on druids not knowing what they're doing, but so few of them actually seem to be druids. 

Tangentially, I knew they were involved in the War of the Ancients, but I suppose my assumption that anything interesting here was likely at the bottom of the ocean had me also assuming none could be left.

And of course, the fact that they're all out here, so close to Suramar, makes me wonder just what Elune was smoking. Such wit, I know.

The Araun informed me of a Grim meeting. I'm not certain why I went, but I did. I rather expected all faces but his to be unknown. Instead, merely most of them were. There were faces I did not at all expect to still be alive, in the sense that any of them are alive at least. And then we made victims of the Draenei, as though not a day had passed, as though not a thing had changed, as though time were linear.

I have made many errors, and I am uncertain what expectations they will have, but they have always moved in the same direction, the only reasonable direction. 

There are things I must deal with first.

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Yes! Yes. This is... This is what I've been waiting for, what I've been searching and researching.

Or what I was before...

Before everything spun into chaos.

It's a shame the aesthetics are so gloomy. I suppose not much more can be expected when you put Highborne in what essentially amounts to a cave for ten thousand years. It's a wonder they're not just etherial wrappings around Well magic at this point. 

But the power is just right, and the people are closer to what I remember than they are to any kaldorei garbage about balance. They are disgusting, mind, but closer, better. And I understand them, which is rare outside of the sin'dorei. A far better alternative to the Forsaken at any rate.

I have taken up my old tabard. There was little ceremony, at least so far, and that sits well with me. The orc who makes odd, unpleasant faces asked me to take the Inquisition again. Well, demanded, actually. I am somewhat surprised, considering I had a hand in devising the Inquisition's very existence, but it has been many years, many lifetimes even. And there is suitable logic to using an effective system already in place to learn about and interact with this new set of Grim, most of whom I know nothing about, so I have no reason to argue the point. We shall see where it leads.

On my own, I am finding myself more on the side of cowardice than I remember. It's not terrible, as fire magic has its own elemental aggression that I could not control if I wished to. And I do recall advocating only starting fights that I am certain I can win. This may change. It will take some getting used to.

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So little has changed.

Except me. I changed. And then time shredded.

The Grim are mostly quiet, but when the chatter lights up, it's the lowest order of blood elves making the least subtle innuendos, while others snipe at each other delightfully. Where else can you find such unbridled hatred between people that they then turn toward whatever obstacle makes the mistake of standing in their way. So few of them even pretend to like each other, and not one of them needs to.

It's almost like not a day has passed.

Yet I have. I can almost pinpoint each day where I started drifting further in another direction. I didn't regret it at the time. I still don't regret it. I only came into regret at all much later, and it seems that I have once again lost what should never have been mine.

But nonetheless, in retrospect, the drift seems... incorrect. I was a certain way. Over time, I was no longer that way. I didn't miss the way things were, but suddenly, torn out of a thousand timesteps, I realize what I missed and had forgotten. I realize how right it seems.

And when some gang of Alliance makes trouble, a gang of Grim coalesce and make trouble right back. Delightful. 

I didn't miss the innuendo. At all. For all that I had in common with that order, at least I kept it private. Well, at least I didn't throw parades.

I have missed the interpersonal venom. 

I have definitely missed the trouble.

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I am curiously tired.

It's not unreasonable to expect exhaustion may be a side effect of whatever it was that happened, but given that I have no idea what really happened, all I know is that I am tired.

I have been spending a great deal of time attempting to fill in the spaces left in my memory, including what happened to the Sunreavers. Every question I answer, however, reveals just how much is missing, how much time, how much memory. So much more is missing than I even realize yet.

It was odd to celebrate the Forsaken's holiday in a Forsaken town without the presence of a single Forsaken. How many storytelling events did I attend and never tell a story? This time I did. Although I introduced it as true, only half of it was. I suppose that's true of most stories, even the ones that claim to be entirely fabricated. Every tale is a half-truth in one way or another. I would have thought a lesson would have more value than a simple recounting, but perhaps not.

Difficult to imagine if my grandfather's spirit was actually angry, that he'd wait 75 years to kill his daughter. Perhaps I should have mentioned that he was likely one of those who had tossed the mentioned fireballs on that very spot.

So many weeks ago now, we spoke of my distaste for a fair fight. It is unfairness in itself that makes conflict interesting. The concept is especially poignant now, when every victory tastes of loss without logic.

And yet, there is a peace here, peace that is likely far from Awatu's so-called vision, but Grim peace nonetheless.

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Everything has... tilted since we spoke.

I remembered some things and I assumed our paths had simply stopped crossing at some point, as happened with most of those I recognize and remember, but after I left the Lounge an ember of anger began to smolder in my mouth and now searing hatred claws at the back of my throat.

Something is missing. The Bronze stole something about her. 

They stole and mutilated a great deal. I see faces without names and know names without faces. I know names and faces but none of their significance. There is even a great deal of false emotion, but all of it with a translucent sheen that has become easier and easier to recognize over the past months. But there is nothing like this, no emotion without any sense of reason.

There are enough reasons to hate her. There is her allegiance. There is her career path. I remember spending no insignificant effort to convince her she was wrong about many things, but there is no sense of desperation to that memory. I remember the faces of those who toyed with my soul, and she is not one of them. Is she?

Even so, none of these things even together add up to this intense need to see her obliterated. So where is this hatred coming from?

She may know. She may even tell me. Perhaps I will ask. I do not value conversation as much as knowledge. It would be better to know.

Not enough to seek her out again, though. If our paths never cross, we will doubtless both be better off.

I have set all my other plans into motion, even found the so-called Maleficar one of his relics. There is little to do now but wait.

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The headaches are getting worse.

I will survive this.

But my confidence that I will do so with any measure of success begins to wane.

Time. Give it time. All things. In time.

But they stole time from me once. How can I ever be sure it is real?

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I could have put up a fight. But why? Personal appearance? Perhaps. There is something to vanity, pride.

But there is also something to earning back trust that has been lost. If there is anyone who understands the reasons I should not be trusted, it is Syreena.

Before the Bronze, I had my scars. Since the Araun's interference, they have been erased, filled in. Their stories are missing, shadowed with time and a cycle of lives I am never quite certain that I actually lived. Now I have a new scar, a new story. This is my scar. I earned it by acquiescence, yes, but acquiescence to one who earned my submission. If I had not known her when I did, I would absolutely have fought back.

Perhaps I meant to show that my pride no longer drives me, but that is not entirely true. The Council of Six has no elves, not even a dragon who will wear our form. Pride is a far greater incentive than Peace.

Whatever the case, I do not want to be accused of humanity with my eyes closed, so I keep one. She had the chance. I suppose she could have taken both, although the Ranger attempted to challenge her on either.

I do not miss it, but it was a true and doubtless sacrifice, one that a name and a little gold could never outdo. What is an ear when the Grim can be questioned? Now it cannot. I paid the price willingly. Now if ever I am questioned, I can simply point at the side of my head, and my intent will be understood. More than worth a few moments pain and a lasting but ultimately meaningless indignity.

Everything is back as it should be. The Maleficar should take the place the warlock suggested. He has more than made his intentions known. I may have held the place once, but I have no desire to reach outside the Grim as he does. I have no desire to step into a place occupied by someone I no longer am. It will suit him. 

Now if only the banshee would show me what my actual work has produced. For this, I am losing patience.

As for the troll... If there is anyone who does not need my opinion on the situation, it's her. She will be fine. It's possible no one else will be, but she will.

Edited by Qabian
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Finally had a chance to stop by Theramore for the first time since... everything.

I don't remember the last time I laughed so hard.

No wonder Jaina pitched such a fit. I suppose some of her ire was earned after all.

Still, hilarious.

I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to stop laughing.

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There are places along the coast of Azsuna where you can hear her voice. Not echoes, not reflections off the waves, not memories sunk beneath the sea, not the false replays the Bronze deign to allow us to witness, but her actual voice in the present. Her voice is here.

I have been here before (have I?), but I did not hear her then.

She lives.

She is the only thing I have prayed to. I was given to the Light as a child, but I never believed. I never knelt at an altar with a full heart. 

But her image I have knelt before for hours at a time, desperate for answers I truly believed she knew and could impart if only I could decipher what she needed from me. She knew the touch of demons. She had buried her heart as I had. She had come out stronger and still led her people, where my Prince had failed mine.

That was a flaw in me. I don't remember how I finally came to that conclusion, how I realized that she was not a symbol of strength, a symbol of how to live through the worst of tragedies and stay strong, but that she had in fact swapped one set of slave masters for another, but I did learn at some point. Perhaps after I realized Vashj did not follow through on her actions in Dalaran. I have killed a great deal more of her people than she ever saved of mine.

Based on what I thought then, the Nightborne should be a sufficient stand-in for her, but somehow apart from the moon and the sun both, they grew into a weakness that remains curiously kaldorei. That makes me question how much we actually received from the sun. Perhaps there is more to the power of simple daylight than I previously considered.

Still, to hear her voice, outside of dreams, unaccompanied by the Bronze, chills me to the core. 

The voices Aegwynn sends among the Tirisgarde are oddly compelling but disappointingly tainted by her humanity.

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I will dutifully inform my entire "elfy harem," as you put it, a harem that I believe I explained numbers a very impressive zero.

I am not telling Kiannis anything. I have no interest whatsoever in his milk, verbal or otherwise.

Frost, however, I may consider. Although I will not be asking anyone outside the Tirisgarde to "set me up," and at this point, it is no doubt an egregious waste of power, perhaps I can afford the luxury.

And we will not be arm wrestling.

Edited by Qabian

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The pandaren had the opportunity to call me out for my nonstandard views on the Mandate, but he did not -- another sign of there being an actual intellect behind that jovial, improper facade. I do wonder if he would have said something else had I not been there watching, but the point stands. He tried to share the other lesson I taught him, but I don't think he conveyed it well enough to cause understanding in others. Nevertheless, I believe he understood it and may even take it to heart. There is hope for him yet.

I sought out that Cantina. I don't drink, but the very act of seeking it out made me reflect on the reasons I ever attended such events. I learn so much more about others when they are not speaking with me. Participating in conversations has never been my forté. Deriving meaning and opportunity from the conversations of others, however, has always been worthwhile. 

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I hate this holiday.

Given that I hate all the holidays save one, that's not much of a statement. But this one I've hated since the first time I tripped across its vile scented pink sugar decor and nearly vomited in the street. Now at this distance, at this vantage, I only have more and stronger reasons to hate it.

But there has been one light this season. I am at least slightly more proud to be Grim than I was yesterday. Very slightly.

I've had the opportunity to listen uninvited to two sets of sin'dorei while they make eyes at each other, one set Grim, the other not.

The not-Grim made me ill. The way they spoke, I suspect all those wearing their tabard are infected with the diseases once rampant in the streets of Silvermoon. They clearly do nothing but bed each other in all directions, all the time, all day long. It's a wonder they haven't all wasted away, forgetting to eat or breathe.

But the Grim, while I absolutely question Kiannis' sanity and would have recommended that his "comfortable companion" -- I'm not sure he has the slightest idea what a compliment is -- give him a hard slap across the face if not a knee to the groin for the indignity of his presumption, they at least took the holiday in stride, were polite, relatively solemn, and dare I say even, by the sun, witty?

And I felt transported back to a time when keeping an ear open for blackmail material was one of my greatest joys. I suppose therein lies the silver lining to celebrating the worst society has to offer.

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I chose my words carefully, and I meant them, but I am not sure the nuance I intended can be understood without explanation. Still, he did not argue. Did the Commander... cow him so much that refutation was not required? He doesn't seem like the type to take a thinly veiled insult with only the slightest sound of retort.

I know little of him, having met him once, maybe twice at the Inquisition before his disappearance, maybe briefly on occasion before, but I'm under the impression that in all the time of my absence, he was a presence, built and molded by the Mandate.

The Grim archives are useful and should be maintained if they are in disarray, but they are not a place I would spend any time more than necessary. The archives are needed, but they are not enticing, no. They are not intriguing. They are not entertaining. They are required, like laundry or dusting. You have them, because when you do not, life itself begins to fall to pieces, but you do not have them because they bring you joy. 

Unless you are odd. 

There are enough bookish Grim who may enjoy surrounding themselves with the curious words of those who wore the tabard before them. I am not one of them. Bookish, yes. A lover of Grim lore for the sake of Grim lore? No. There are far more fascinating stories and far more intriguing powers to be discovered outside of the Mandate's halls. Then they can be brought into the Grim and stored for the future. I would rather create and construct Grim lore. It would certainly be productive to add to the archives, but to constantly review and rework what already exists? I would tire of the exercise quickly.

I'm not sure if he was hoping I would volunteer. I'm more than capable of such a task, but it is one that I would do upon request, rather than conjure of my own free will.

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It's not my business anymore. I'm not going to make it my business.

I'm going to follow my own sun damned advice for once in my life.

Not my business. Let it burn.

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I am arrogant. That is not in question.

However, I immediately distrust anyone who shows humility in response to my arrogance. I wish to be responded to with equal or greater arrogance at all times.

I realize now that this is projection.

Early in my life, I learned that responding to the arrogant with false humility is a highly effective manipulation tactic. I used it frequently when I first joined the Grim, and gained power much more quickly than was reasonable, until the point that I no longer felt the need for false humility. Even my recent application to the Grim, I donated an ear to the cause of false humility, and now that I have what I want, I find no need for it.

The mindlessly arrogant are more likely to grant requests and let down their guard around you if they believe you know your place, especially if they believe they are the ones to have shown you your place.

I am not so thoughtless.

How else then should I react to those who show me humility, except to assume attempted manipulation? I think that is why I responded well to the Pandaren. While he was not arrogant, he also showed no weakness, no deference, no humility, only responsiveness, and a willingness to learn. Or perhaps I was simply inclined to give him the respect he had earned in advance with the Legionbreakers and he managed to avoid simpering in front of me. Chasing the dragon, indeed.

True humility is worthless, and if you show it to me, I lose all faith in you. You are either attempting to manipulate me or you are pathetic, neither of which speak in your favor.

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