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Catalinetta

The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

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Catalinetta    35

Year 27  -  The Lich King has returned, and a great campaign has begun in Northrend. His army of the dead has returned to Azeroth, and with them, the Death Knights.

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The pain was familiar.

Bright burning, coursing through every nerve. The sound of “Light”. What is that sound? She couldn’t pinpoint it, but she it reminded her of something she had already experienced. The ringing, the peace, a voice maybe? The voice wasn’t Arthas’. It wasn’t the Lich King. It was the voice she heard, before. When she knew a moment of peace that wasn’t to last.

This wasn’t to last either.

Catalinetta opened her eyes and saw Light’s Hope Chapel. Her skin sizzled with the Light, but why? The Light had always answered her, before. It blessed her with its presence, but it felt like an invasion now. Pure pain boring through her body, screaming.

She was screaming.

Looking down at her hands, the elf screamed as she saw the color of her skin; a grayish pallor covered her once sun-browned complexion, but they were covered with blood. She could smell it, feel it, even taste it. Catalinetta suddenly realized that she was covered in blood as memories of her situation came rushing back to her subconscious. They attacked the chapel. They were death knights. She had been resurrected by the Lich King, and bound to his service.

But the Light would not allow it. Even if it had to remind her through pain.

The Light would not forget its champions.

However not all were formerly its champions and perhaps there were some it had forsaken.

Those who were close enough to the Chapel would have known of the cease fire that had been called between the two opposing forces but there was still one who had not heard it. Bound in armor that wove and spinned like boned chitin and armed with a jagged rune edge of similar make, the death knight paced with his enemy. A paladin of the chapel who had strayed to far from his post. Both held weapons drawn at one another but the shorter paladin seemed to tremble as he looked over his enemy. There stood a nerubian effigy in elven form, prepared to engage in combat and take his life.

The twisted smile that adorned the death knights face guard seemed to widen as the young light wielder felt himself nauseous and began to sweat. The rune edge held in front of him glowed with an eerie light that shifted between its original icy blue and the putrice tinge of green that one associated with a boil inducing plague.

With a final ounce of courage he advanced on his enemy, pulling the massive blade to one side before bringing it in for a full swing. Steel met with steel as the rune edge was shifted to block the assault. The paladin side stepped his foe and spun with his blade to go for another strike. The spiny armor caught the second blow, denting and cracking the cobalt steel to reveal bone. He staggered back to move around the death knight, bringing the blade above his head before lurching over and dropping to his knees.

The blade fell out of his hands and hit the floor with a clang. His armor rattled as he shook violently in a fevered delirium. With what little strength remained he reached for the clasp on his gauntlet and let it slip to his side. Drenched in sweat he continued to removed what he could before succumbing to the nausea. Bile left his lips, spilling over the white tabard and onto ornate armor before hitting the floor. Just moments ago he had been the picture of perfect health.

The nausea passed long enough for him to look up and watch as the death knight moved toward him. He noted the grievous wound he had inflicted on his enemy. What he had thought was bone had actually been sickly looking and pale flesh. He smiled at the thought that at least he would die having struck down his foe.

The death knight took his final step and stood before the paladin. With a raised hand he called upon shadowy tendrils that lifted the silver plated light wielder with ease. Helpless and hovering over the ground all he could do was stare at the reaper that had come to collect him. "Do your worst...you monstrous...abomination." He sputtered his words as they were followed by the release of more bile.

"My worst?" The voice echoed in a deathly reverberation within the helm.

The battle continued around the chapel. Some of the death knights had been defeated, and their corpses lay in the ground beside fallen paladins. Of the few still fighting, Catalinetta noticed one of them advancing on what looked like a human being lifted into the air. The death knight was horrifying; covered in twisted armor, the smell of plague and rot rolling from his frame. A monster, compared to the paladins who continued to fight bravely in spite of their unholy foes. It seemed as if the death knight paused before executing the human in front of him. Catalinetta felt the impulse to step in, to demand mercy for the paladin. For a paladin in training, what could be more heroic?

“Stop!” she shouted, running in front of the human being lifted from the ground. Catalinetta couldn't hear the sound of her own voice, or how much it had changed to the hollow-sounding rattle of undeath. At her hip, she felt the weight of a weapon. Grabbing for it, the elf held it in front of her face defensively. A black serrated axe, decorated with what looked like a laughing demonic skull appeared to stare back at her. It dripped with what looked like blood, yet none hit the ground.

Steeling herself for a battle against this monster, she gathered her courage and shouted again. "Leave him alone!”

The nerubian looking death knight stared down at Catalinetta, cold blue eyes piercing through the helmet at the oddity of his interrupter. Hands covered in enemy blood wielding a runed axe just like his own and that of his allies, yet she stood in front of his enemy ready to defend the last few moments of the paladins life.

He studied her actions for a moment before pressing closer to her, leaning in over the serrated edges that punctured the armor and pressed into his flesh. He placed a hand on one of her arms and pulled it down with unholy strength. His presence alone was enough to cause fear in the cowardly but it was his actions that made a courageous knight tremble.

Blood oozed from the wounds she had unwillingly inflicted but he remained unmoved by her shouts. "You aren't one of them anymore..." His voice echoed calm and deep as cold breath poured from the guard on his face. "Let me show you what you are now. Let me show you how to use the gift you have been given."

He moved his hand once more and from the ground rose the shambling corpse of one of his previous victims. Its bloated stomach pressed at her back as shriveled arms pulled her away. When all obstacles were removed he stepped forward, close enough to the paladin to cause him to squirm within the tendrils hold. "My worst. You asked for my worst and so you shall receive it." He lifted the axe and pressed it onto paladins hand, barely nicking his skin. "Do not turn away, girl...you will soon see what gifts you to possess!"

As she felt the cold arms of a corpse wrap around her from behind, Catalinetta gave a shriek that could curdle blood. Worse than the smell of his rot was the strange cold numbness that kept any pain that the ghoul may have inflicted away.  “You aren’t one of them anymore,” he had told her, and the words still pounded in her ears as she watched the death knight approach his victim once again.

What did he mean by that? There was no time to ask.

“Don’t!” She shouted, wriggling from the ghoul’s grip with a strength she had no idea that she possessed. A sick tearing noise erupted from her captor as she forcefully ripped both arms from his body. Seeing his rotting limbs fall apart on the ground before her, Catalinetta waited to vomit but nothing came. There was no nausea, no feeling of revulsion that would have typically incapacitate her. All she felt was confusion, and fear about what it all meant. Though those questions would have to wait.

Reaching forward with one hand, she made a gesture as if she were planning on grabbing the death knight before he could kill his prey. Without thinking, a tendril of blood erupted from a wound in her chapped hand and wrapped around the death knight to yank him toward her. With no knowledge of how this happened, she once again shrieked in panic as the death knight flew toward her direction.

Like a ragdoll, he was flung towards Catalinette and placed in front of her. The grinning teeth on the helmet was all the that she could see of his covered face, plate molded and decorated to appear as if the flesh had been removed from his visage.

Fitting that it should grin down at her as he pulled her into his own arms to turn her. She would not tear herself out of his hold so easily.

When she finally faced in the paladins direction she was set up to partake in the display. The tendril around the light wielder faded and he dropped back to the ground, peering at the small cut on his hand. “You...insult me--” Another wave of nausea hit him, shutting him up and replacing his words with the vomit that now cascaded from his mouth. He wretched, holding his stomach as he looked up towards Catalinetta and the other Death Knight. He pleaded for their mercy with his eyes, knowing he had asked for more than he could take.

His skin reddened as more sweat permeated his body, temperature raising within his own suit of armor. Blisters and boils pushed through his skin, covering what little he had managed to expose to them. When his face became unrecognizable and blood poured slowly from each orifice, the growths began to pop. One after another they festered and burst, letting out pustule fluid the reeked of decay. He let out a harrowing shriek as his body was sent into shock. Writhing was all that he could do as his death came on slow.

The nerubian looking death knight let out an exasperated sigh as the wounds on his body began to close. The gash on his side, one that would have spelled the end for someone living, began to seal itself. Muscle regenerated and reattached itself before skin connected over it. Even the armor began to repair itself. The exchange for his life everlasting was the suffering of another.

The plague he had unleashed on the paladin devoured him from the inside out, bloating his stomach and shriveling up the rest of his soon to be corpse. With the last of his life he looked towards Catalinette and gasped for air but could not find it.

“That is who you are now. That is what you will bring to the world. Embrace it...or wither.” His words matched the cold of his gauntlet as he grasped her firmly. When nothing could be done to save the paladin, he placed her before the corpse and made her stare at it. “Know this...know what you are capable of.”

It was all a bit sudden for the newly freed death knight. Only moments ago under the control of the Lich King, her memories felt jumbled. How long had she been under his control? How long had she been like this? Staring at the corpse before her, his lifeless eyes shriveling into black ichor, there were flashes of the recent battles she’d been involved with. The rotting dead walking beside her as she marched with the Lich King’s forces into battle. Cutting down the living. Murdering paladins at their own chapel.

Then the Light.

“..but.. but I don’t have to do this,” she argued, even as he forced her to stare at the dead. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she considered just how tempting the idea was. That she could kill so easily, with such ferocity. The smell of blood was still heavy in the air, amidst the smell of rot and decay. Somewhere, the living remained living, and their blood called to her. “We don’t have to do this...” she whispered, her lifeless heart still. “..do we?”

 “You will hunger for it soon. It is better that you take life willingly so that you can have some semblance of control. Should you let yourself starve and let the hunger take over then you will have no will of your own to stop yourself.” He released his hold on her and moved to pick up her axe while she mulled over her thoughts.

“It is no longer a matter of should you or can't you but a matter what you will do to keep yourself preserved. Never mind the power that comes from all this. It's enticing but it is secondary to your survival.” He examines her axe before moving back over to her. A hand reaches down to lift her up and the other places the axe back in its owner's grasp.

“To answer your question more simply. Yes. We have to do this or we are the ones that will die. The sooner you can come to terms with your being, the sooner you can find the strength that is buried deep under the teachings of your former life. What is your name?”

Too confused to mind being handled so liberally, Catalinetta allowed herself to be poked and prodded by the death knight until she was once again standing with her axe in her hands. Her axe. Yes, this is my axe, isn’t it? She thought to herself, remembering how it came to be in her possession. The floating pyramid, the runeforge, the test…

“My name…” She repeated, blinking, staring downwards as if her name might be written in the ground. If she was like him, were they dead? She certainly felt different. There was no warmth, no thudding in her chest. A strange hunger in the pit of her stomach confused her further. If I’m dead, am I the same person? “My… my name is Cat,” she answered quietly, supposing that a nickname was not equivalent to admitting her true identity. She had a strange fear of what admitting that might mean.

Turning to look at the other knight, she tried to study his features and decipher how she might have looked herself. If they were both the same, would she look quite so monstrous?

“Who’r you?”

His answer came in a different form. He reached for the clasps underneath the decorative fur that lined the back of his helm and unlatched it. The battle continued but they seemed fortuitously uninterrupted by the combatants. When all the clasps had been undone he lifted the helm up and away from himself.

Dark, raven black hair spilled out of its enclosure, some of it bound behind him while the rest fell freely past his shoulders. There were no scars or blemishes that marked his face, likely the effect of his magic that healed his wounds. Oval in shape, the angle of his jaw was lined with a patch of hair that touched the bottom of his lower lip and fell past his chin.

Narrow eyes peered over her as she struggled with her new reality, as she fought her own revelation with diminishing resolve. She would break soon and he would be there to catch her before she threw away her gift. “Soleren. Blightcaller Soleren.” He set the helmet down on the ground and moved to stand beside her.

“Do not fear yourself. Do not seek to throw away this gift. I can show you how to use it, master it and ensure your survival. You don’t have to die. You don’t have to wither into a husk of your former self. This is still you, just another part of you that now has to survive. But I will show you how? Offer you what I had to find for myself.”

Having only moments ago been freed from the bonds of the Lich King, the elf's words were strange and terrifying. Wither? Die? Was that her fate, now, unless she abandoned herself and gave into this stranger's commands? No, it couldn't be that easy. Clenching her jaw, she stared at Solaren defiantly. "And how do I know you're telling the truth? How do I know anything about all this is even real?? The Light, it wouldn't have just abandoned me.. I felt it, when I died. I was happy. I was okay, and then.." she shuddered at the memory. Rising from the ground littered with corpses. The dull eyes of the dead. "..what am I? What did he do to me?"(edited)

 “Your light did not abandon you, no. You were pulled from its clutches and given something you may not have wanted. The Lich King never gave anyone an option but some of us were free from his control long before this day. Now that all of us are free we are allowed to do what we want with our freedom. But we must still pay the price for his actions. You may not believe me now, but you can not deny the hunger that is growing deep within you. You can feel it. Else why would you question your own defiance.

“...’Do we?’...”

Soleren met her defiance with a smooth reassurance, sinister in the way it sounded but hiding no lies or misinformation. He watched as she continued to question her being and simply waited. “What he did is irrelevant now. What you are is a death knight, free from your servitude to a king who does not rule us anymore.”

"A death knight?" She repeated. Certainly, Cat heard of death knights before. The Lich King's utilization of their ranks was known, but thay he might have created new ones was something she never would have imagined. Biting her lips, she tried to think of what this meant. She was dead, of course, hence the lack of heartbeat. She craved blood, and violence, and had a strange desire to cause pain. "..I'm.. I'm a death knight." Saying it aloud solidified it. With that knowledge, Cat did the only thing she could and burst into tears.

Soleren's armor was meant to look monstrous, forged to bring fear to those that stood against him. Under the chitin exterior was another person just like her who had not been given the choice to serve. Like her, Soleren was also an elf. And like her he also served and found a way to break the bonds of his former king. The difference was the time in which he had to come to terms with what he was and practice his magic under his own influence. He knew she would break, he know she would question the cravings but he had not expected her to cry.

Even the perceived monster had not lost all sense of compassion. At the very least not outside the battlefield. He was still a stranger to her but he felt compelled to embrace her and comfort her in her realization. "You will cry, you will feel pains like you have not felt before, but I will show you how to us that pain. Do not let yourself be taken so easily by your emotion."

"W-what th'fuckeryu t-talking about?!" Cat said in between sobs, her hollow sounding voice stuttering. Cat cried harder than she had ever cried in her life, and in life she was an ugly cryer. She was an even uglier cryer as a death knight, stray hairs falling against her face as she attempted to speak. "W-we're d..dead! Only a f-few days ag-go I was in the b..bar and me and m-my friends were d-drinking orc b-beer and we were f-fine and now we're DEAD! Dead! I was a p-paladin kind of and n-now I'm dead!"

It woudln't be long before battle would remember them again. More foot soldiers, dawning white tabards, approached the area with their weapons drawn. They sifted through the dead, piercing each skull with blessed blades to enure that none would rise to the call of the death knights and their unholy magics. They worked quick and approached them even quicker upon finding them. Soleren released Cat from his hold and drew his axe. "You have no time to debate me or state the obvious. Ready your axe and choose to survive. You may be dead but you have one more chance to live again."

The paladins, 4 younger men and women who had completed their training and looked to have fought against the scourge before, set upon them. In moments the two death knights were surrounded as the light wielders took a defensive formation. "A purging party..." Soleren called out to Cat in Thalassian.

They smirked as they called out in mockery, speaking in a tongue both could understand. "You fiends will pay for the lives you took...we will set you abomination ablaze and purge from this world." The steel of their baldes glowed with a radiance that stung Soleren's eyes. But he prepared himself for combat none the less.

Still crying, Cat held up her axe. The paladins had done no wrong and were only defending themselves. She couldn't help but wonder if perhaps she and Soleren should be purged. What did they have to live for, if they weren't even alive? But the instinct of self preservation was strong. Alone, undead, and with memories of serving the Lich King, Cat couldn't think of one good reason to keep going, until..

"Put your faith in the Light, and all is possible!" Shouted one of the paladins as he ran toward her, sword aimed for her armored chest.

Cat caught his sword with her axe, her strength more than a match for his mortal grip. Swinging her weapon down hard, his sword slammed to the ground and fell at his feet, giving her the chance to attack him unarmed. Another swing of the axe and the weapon became lodged into his ribcage. A strange feeling overtook her, then, as her axe seemed to drink in his blood. She felt stronger, empowered. Without removing the axe from his body, she swung both him and the axe toward another paladin and smashed them both into the ground.

The other two ran at Soleren, blades raised and prepared for his parry. One lunged at his side while the other came down from an upturned swing that had been dodged. The first landed  his mark, puncturing the steel and rending the same flesh that had been recently repaired. The other met face to face with his grimace as Soleren gritted his teeth at the pain. The edge of the blessed blade was gripped by a clawed gauntlet  and torn from unsuspecting hands before being plunged into his companions skull. The blessing on the first blade seared his skin, blackening it with radiant light but with its wielder dead the effects began to fade.

Alone and without a weapon the soldier backed away and turned to run, taking 2 steps before feeling the axe grind through his midsection. Skin split, rib bones crunched and parted as organs burst and spilled their contents onto the edges of the axe. Soleren drove his runed blade further, letting out a roar of anger as he forced it through the paladins spinal column and out the other end. The eerie green light of the axe pulsed as Soleren brought it back to his side.

The paladins top half fell over while his legs remained standing. Armored hands reached down in his disbelief. When he brought them back up he screamed silently at the stain of blood and bile that seeped together into a gruesome concoction. The magic boiled his blood like it had the other knights. And soon he shriveled to nothing more than a half corpse.

Had she breath in her lungs, she would have taken the time to catch it. Instead, she watched as the other death knight, Soleren, butchered the other two paladins. Despite their obvious and well-deserved hatred, Cat still felt a kinship, a bond. Even envy. The peace of the Light that was surely granted to them had been ripped from her, stolen. She would have thought that the Light abandoned her, had it not been for the pain she remembered when one again she could feel freedom. The Light had not abandoned her, it granted her control.

Even in this undead form.

"S..Soleren.." she said weakly, looking down at the bodies. She was still crying, though a bit less out of control than before. Falling to her knees beside the corpse, Cat picked up one of her victim's arms. It was still warm, and she felt the overwhelming cold of death. "Sol..Soleren.." She repeated, her chest trembling as she brought the arm to her face, inhaling the smell of his flesh and blood. "What.. what's happening?" She asked, pulling away the corpse's armor, stripping him until his bare arm was in her hands.

It was so warm, and she was so cold.

Without another word, she began to eat.

Soleren buried the edge of the axe into the withered corpse, using it like a pedestal to hold its might while he moved to kneel beside Cat. Pulling a carving knife from his belt, he stripped the rest of the light wielder’s armor and began cutting pieces of her body. He lay appendages out in front of them and remained silent as he carved with the expertise of a butcher.

“The cold you are feeling is the touch of death that reminds you of what you are. The warmth you will regain from consuming this body is the only reminder of a life you once had. It is also the nourishment you will require to sustain the powers you were given.” He wipes the blood from the carving knife and watches her eat, noting the difference her feasting had made.

“I envy you blood death knights…” He says in a somber tone, shifting his head to eye the makeshift pedestal. “But that is neither here nor there. Eat. Feel the rejuvenation that comes with your consumption. Once you have finished we will move on and find shelter before more come along. We may be free but that will not stop the self righteous from taking their revenge for their comrades.”

Cat ate like a starving woman, shoving chunks of flesh into her mouth ravenously as she absorbed the information Soleren so generously gave her. Tears still rolled down her face, but as the warmth returned to her flesh she felt somewhat comforted. Soon her gray skin took on a slightly brighter pallor, and the cut in her hand mended itself. Swallowing down another chunk of meat, she nodded but did not look up at the other knight when he mentioned leaving to find shelter.

“…okay.”

Slowly, she pushed herself back to her feet. Grabbing the glowing axe beside her, Cat took a long look at the carnage around them. Yes, they were attacked, but only out of self defense. The Lich King sent them here. Now they were free, but for how long? The idea of being under his control once more made Cat tremble, despite her numbness to the cold. Turning to look at Soleren, she attempted to look determined and nodded at the other elf.

“Let’s go.”

Edited by Catalinetta

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Catalinetta    35

Cat clutched her axe protectively as she and Soleren walked. Together, they traveled through the Plaguelands, avoiding the paladins who had long since given up the search for a few strays in favor of continuing to battle those still attacking their chapel. They were quiet as they traveled, but Cat couldn’t help but feel like there was some sort of strange unspoken agreement between the two of them. He was there when she woke, and he was there to educate her, but how was it he came about his freedom? She remembered the Light, the feeling of once again being enveloped in all that was good. She remembered hope, and then she was free. Did he feel that, too?

Up ahead, what looked like an abandoned cottage sat in the middle of a rotting grove. Cat pointed it out as the sun set behind distant trees. “Should we hide there?”

Soleren examined the surroundings of the abandoned cottage, pale blue eyes piercing through the helmet with raised intensity. "Neither the living or the dead remain in this area. We will take shelter there for now until we can figure out a direction to go in the morning. We will not be a welcome sight if we travel as we are and we will only be able avoid civilization for so long before we just can't help the path we are traveling." He looked down at her and nodded in acknowledgement to her suggestion before marching them to the cottage. It had been abandoned as he had suggested and the unnatural darkness of the area that the unholy magic of the scourge lands cast would be their cover. The cottage itself had not seen much use since it had been abandoned, door left wide open for any scavenger, humanoid or beast, to rummage through. "Follow closely behind. I don't want us to be ambushed by any undetected presence."

Cat did as she was told, too emotionally exhausted to come up eith a reason to argue.  Once inside, she closed the door and looked around the main room of their haven and took stock; a few broken chairs, a table, what looked like rodent droppings. Her attention was drawn to a closed door, most likely leading toward a bedroom. Cat stared at the door, seemingly worried about what might be on the other side. A family of possums, or the corpse of this home owner?

Inhospitable for the living, rundown and dilapidated, the cottage would service it's purpose. The cold air carried with it a must that freely permeated the senses, the stench of death had long been replaced with that of it's decay. Soleren approached the closed door and turned back to Cat, readying his axe to bare down on any that would threaten their invasive escape. Anything to survive would be the lesson on repeat. With one hand he gripped the massive axe and the other reached to push the door open. The creak that sounded would have woken the dead if that's what was housed within. Empty. The room contained a bed left behind and made a mess by panic. Beyond the aged and splintered furniture there was nothing else that would bother their reprieve. "This will be our temporary refuge. Feel free to remove your armor and make yourself comfortable But keep your axe at arms reach. I will take guard while you gather your thoughts."

Cat hadn't spoken much since they left the chapel, and even now she felt it difficult to voice her emotions. The death knight beside her seemed kind, protective even, but not to anyone else but her. It felt oddly suspicious, moreso that she would feel compelled to follow him. As he suggested removing her armor, she felt a sudden twist of panic. He was male, he was experienced, and this suddenly felt more threatening than she anticipated. "..why are you doing this?" She asked quietly, eyes on the disheveled bed. "You don't know me. I don't know you at all, so.. why?"

The helmet came off once more, letting the loose part of his mane fall to his shoulders, and he set it down on a barely standing table. He stared at her with the same narrow eyed stare that he gave her when she questioned his actions against the paladin. He let the silence surround them for a moment before breaking it with his reply. "You, I hardly know...but what I am familiarly acquainted with is the questions in your mind, the self loathing and the twisted perception of reality that you are being forced to endure for the first time since you freed yourself from his control. I'm not a hero by any means and I didn't save you because I have some moral obligation to the light. To be honest it would have been a greater mercy to have killed you but I am not as monstrous as you seem to think I am. I simply want to survive and have no other option but to embrace what I am. If you want to leave then you are welcome to do so but out there you are just scourge that needs eradication."

Cat stared at his face, her expression growing more and more accepting as he spoke. She swallowed, but her mouth was dry. "I.. I don't want to leave," she whispered., falling backward to sit awkwardly on the bed. Cat had the body language of someone who had been defeated, completely and utterly. "I don't want to be alone."

They would not require sleep, food, warmth or even a breath of air but the acts of the living were a comfort most could not resist. It was a coping mechanism that allowed for some semblance of normality and even he partook of them. "Then stay...I will keep watch while you..rest your mind. Should you need anything from me, I will be in the other room." He reached for his own runed edge and stepped away from the door to allow her to close it should she wish to free herself from the burden of her armor. "I am aware that you are not trusting of me. I dont care to earn it but at the very least trust that I mean you no ill will."

Cat looked down at the floor thoughtfully. After a while, she reatched for the latches of her armor and loosened them to let the heavy plate fall off of her. Underneath, she wore the same cotton shirt and pants that she'd died in. The colors were faded, but the Horde and Blood Knight logos still remained. In the middle of her chest, a tear in her shirt revealed a gaping wound that would not close. "I believe you," she said without raising her eyes from the floor. "It'd just help if I knew more about you. If we're gonna be around each other, I mean."

He stepped into the other room and began moving around the broken furniture to make space for his own absolutions. For a moment she was met with silence and the occasional cracking of wood that ended up in the crumbling fire place. When he finished he returned to stand by the door between rooms and pressed himself on the wall. "What you see before you is who I am... a blight caller in plated armor. Former servant to a tyrant. Nothing more." With arms crossed he turned back to her, taking note of her scar as she stared at the ground. She looked miserable in her predicament and the thought crossed him that she might benefit from a deeper response. "And you? Who is Cat?"

"Just a Blood Knight. Well.." Cat shook her head quickly, correcting herself. "No. Not really. I wanted to be a Blood Knight. A paladin, really, but of course the Blood Knights were willing to train me, so.. that's what I did. I didn't get very far, obviously," she added spreading her arms as if to invite him to look at her. She didn't look very impressive in her armor, but even moreso out of it. Cat looked like the kind of girl who just left home for the first time, her hair still styled the way her mother would have done it on the first day of school. She was fit, but had little muscle, likely because she was killed before she could really start to build any. She wasn't a child, but she was hardly a woman by elven standards. "I'm from a little village south of Silvermoon, on the water. My parents died to the Scourge, and my brothers died going to war. I was the last one. I guess.. our family is done, now."

Soleren hesitantly took the invitation, listening to her story as he looked over her form. His focus drew back to the the wound in her chest, closing his eyes to keep himself from remembering unwanted memories. He turned away, eyeing the pile of rubble and wood he had amassed with contemplation. "Be thankful that at the very least your family wasnt risen as you were. What happened was unfortunate and you should never forget it. I could tell you to leave all of that behind or that you are nothing more then a corpse of your former self, but you will need those very memories to separate you from the shambling dead that mindlessly ravage their victims." He pushed off of the wall and turned back to her. "For now, rest your mind."

Cat slowly removed her boots, taking the time to look over her bare feet. When was the last time she even saw them? Before she died? In the barracks, suiting for the battle that would kill her. She remembered going through the motions, powdering her skin with the other recruits, a trick to keep them from getting sweaty and forming blisters under tightly fit armor. Her bare feet still smelled vaguely of the perfumed talcum powder gifted to her by another recruit. "My mind is all over the place," she admitted, flexing her toes before setting them on the cold floor. "What about you? What's your story?"

He felt he owed her something even if there was no true obligation to repay her. After a brief moment of silence he turned away from her to collect his thoughts before speaking out. "No blood knight ties, not even a farstrider. I was an instructor for the spellbreaker recruits. Any relations I may have had...likely died in the attack. Either they are scourge now or have moved on without me. The only person I have to care for now is myself. Not much else can be said about who I am or what my story is. What you see now is who I am.  Down to the very armor I wear." Soleren turned back to her and examined her expression, idly waiting for whatever else she may ask.

Cat did look him over. She didn't seem disturbed by his armor, or his story, but she did seem a little less uncomfortable than she was before. It didn't remove her suspicion, however. "So if all you care about is yourself, how come you wanted to help me?" She asked curiously. It was less of an accusatory tone than it was of simple interest. "Did you just see another death knight and decide you felt like helping out?"

"Help? No. Save? You were probably better of without me. Perhaps I was selfish in my actions and pulled you from a chance at peace to keep me company in undeath. Or maybe I couldn't rationalize letting you throw away your second chance so ungratefully without at least letting you see what you were given. It may have been that deep down I still carry that person I was, a part of me untainted by the plague that took the life from those paladins. I have no real reason for why I did what I did. If you don't like my answer then you are welcome to your own perception of the situation. Whatever the reason is, we are stuck together now. At the very least until you decide to go your own way." He crossed his arms once more, complacent within their lodging, cautious but unafraid of being interrupted by unwanted visitors.

Cat chewed on her tongue thoughtfully. "This.. it's still weird for me. Like... I can't feel the way I used to. Everything feels numb, sort of. Even my senses. It was better when I ate that guy, something about his blood made it easier for me to focus, but.. I don't know. How do you get used to this? I keep feeling like the Lich King is going to come back any second and tell me what I need to do. I'm weirdly stronger. My body almost feels like it belongs to someone else, like I'm a visitor. How long have you been free? What did it feel like for you? How long before I get used to this?"

"You ask to many questions...?" He said, a hint of frustration tinged the normal calm of his voice. "I will keep watch while you take to caring for your thoughts. If it brings you comfort, close your eyes and pretend to sleep. Keep your weapon close and should anything happen I will do everything I can to give you warning." He turns back to the door, picking up his ax and walks through the threshold. As if prompted by some hidden force, he turns his head slightly back towards her and speaks. "We can share our stories in the morning..."

Cat fidgeted against the bed, glancing behind her before looking back at the other death knight. "..you don't think it's kinda weird to just sleep in some stranger's bed? You're just gonna sit there awake all night?"

"Are those more questions?" He replies as his eyes narrow in similar response. "See for yourself what happens when you try to sleep. As far as sensibilities go, the owner of that bed has likely not been alive for some time. If they are still alive, then they certainly wouldn't take claim to it. You will notice that this portion of land is barren with the exception of the undead, dying animals, and the fools that want to purify it. That bed is as much a strangers as the trees outside."

"Well I get that, but it's not really the point.." She muttered uncomfortably, standing up to walk into the other room to join him. She seemed less inclined to be by herself than she might have been, before. "And you can't expect me not to ask questions when I've just been resurrected from the dead to fight for the Lich King and then woke up in the middle of it! This isn't exactly the kind of thing you go through every day!"

Soleren lets out a sigh, bordering a grunt as he kneels to pick up more of the rubble on the ground. When he raises back up he stands in front of her, towering over the small elven woman. In close proximity he appeared taller, lacking the hunch of a battle stance. He peered at her, brow raising to question her sudden enthusiasm in the subject matter. "No, not every day you die and come back as a servant of the Lich King. And from what I gather its even less likely to break from his command. But we did...on both accounts. What you are asking me to describe is a personal feeling that may very well have differed from your experience all together. What purpose would that serve you? And as far as how long before you get used to it all... Well, I will tell you when it happens." He moved past her, setting what he had picked up into the broken down fireplace and dusted off his hands. "If you aren't going to rest then at the very least help me clear the rubble so that we can have use of this room."

Cat did as she was asked without question. It actually suited her to have a task, rather than be left to idle alone. She carefully went through the room, righting furniture and dusting it off. "So how'd you die?" She asked, as if this weren't a terribly personal question.  "I got stabbed from behind. Sword went clean through. Think it punctured a lung. I remember choking."

"The mindless shamblers they sent into my home were fodder for my blade. I thought it brave to be a hero and stepped out to meet more of their forces in combat, thinking there were enough fighting forces on our side to mount a resistance against their rotters. And for a moment there were. Until the n erubians came. Spider like monsters with cruel sentience. One by one our small resistance was taken down but not without a fight. That of course was until Arak'ramu tunneled his way out of the ground. This armored plague bearing demolisher of a Crypt Lord spread his pestilence without remorse." He continued to clear the room as he talked, unbothered by the retelling of his death. "Being impaled in the chest is nothing to scoff at but it would have been a mercy killing compared to what it did to us. For our defiance we were granted a painful and slow death. A swarm of insects were summoned by his will and surrounded us. Each one that landed on us burrowed itself into our skin. Thousands were summoned and in moments each one had implanted itself into our flesh. We were kept alive as they ate us from the inside out. Fevered and dying I committed one final act of defiance and spit in the face of that crypt Lord. All I remember after that was a low pitched laugh and the insects bursting within my body..."

As he told his story, Cat's eyes grew wider and wider. Eventually she stopped working to stand and listen, a horrified expression on her face. "..I..bu..w..." she stammered, as if trying to get out her thoughts but having a terrible time of it. Her hands, dusty from moving turned over furniture, gesticulated in front of her face as she attempted to communicate her thoughts. "..th... that's horrible! How can... how... what.. but your skin.. what... i-if I have my scar then... then what happened to all your skin? W... with the b-bugs? That... they..." her hands went to her face, covering both eyes as she tried to shake the image out of her head.

Soleren's brow rose at her disgust and curiosity. He looked over her again and debated telling her anymore. "Do you truly want to know or will the grotesque nature of my death be to overwhelming?"

Cat lowered her hands from her eyes and looked up toward him again. She seemed to calm a little at his words. "..no. I wanna know. If... if that's okay? We're both dead, it'd be unfair of me to be grossed out by anything. Especially with this.." she indicated toward her chest. "I can handle it. If you trust me."

"Very well." He moves to sit, leaning on a wall facing the door and invites her over. "You will learn, if you have not already, that the blood magic you use repairs your wounds. The exception being the one in your chest. You may one day be able to seal that wound, but for now us it as a reminder of something to work towards." He reaches for the carving knife and pulls if from its sheathe before removing one of the  plated gauntlets from his hand. He sets it aside and draws a gash  over his arm. His expression does not change as he stares down at it. Bumps rise under his skin and begin to crawl towards the wound. Feelers poke out  to examine it, one insect even crawls out to inspect it further before using its mandibles to chew and weave rended flesh back together. It scurries back into his arm before the rest finish sealing up the slash.

"I told you I envied you blood magic users for a reason. The wounds I suffer only seal when my kill dies in the same way I did. A gift from our former master and his nerubian crypt lords."

Cat watched the display with ever widening eyes. She was certainly learning something new, today. Instinct begged her to look away from the insect as it wove his skin back together, but true to her word, she was not disgusted. Swallowing down nothing (her mouth was dry), she pursed her lips and leaned in a little closer to examine the closing wound. "That's... that's pretty freaky," she admitted. "But I mean.. so is eating people. So I think we're even. Yeah?"

"Yeah...freaky..." he replied back in a gruff low tone that seemed unfit in it's pairing with his words. He had let his guard down for a moment, looking back up at her in question. If anything her ignorant innocence was charming enough to momentarily bring down a wall or two. He had shown her more then he intended but her contagious curiosity and blissful innocence were comparatively more dangerous than the blight he so easily called. After a pensive glance he took his arm back and quickly slipped it into the gauntlet. "Does that answer your questions, Cat?"

"Sure, I guess." She scratched her nose aNd got back to work, cleaning the little cottage to make it "livable". As she grabbed some leaves from a nearby table, it suddenly dawned on her that she had no idea how long they might be there, or what they might do after. Both of them seemed to be making things up as they go, him more than her. It felt more comfortable to let him take the lead. "So... how did you get your freedom? I think that paladin knocked it out of me, with the Light."

He stood to continue his work, pausing at her question. He had manage to avoid answering it this long but it was only a matter of time before her persistence would win it out of him. "Hatred. Where your calling came from the light, mine came from somewhere much darker. It wasn't enough that Anub'ramu killed me...but he also requested that I be under his command. His arrogance became his undoing very quickly. Every day that passed at his side was another day of built up anger and hate. I didnt know why...all i knew was that hate. During an assault on a small village in the north, our small force of nerubians was met with similar resistance. Paladins of the Argent Dawn. We clashed and like that day in Silvermoon, their resistance was keeping us at bay. Anub'ramu enjoyed breaking people more than he ever cared for the fodder he sent to the field. They put up a fight but with us both there it did not last long. There is always one in the group of many that stays stalwart til the bitter end and just like i had done the paladin spit right in the face of death. That's when I broke free. It was my hate and defiance that broke those bindings. While Anub'ramu was busy playing with his paladin, I drove my runeedge into his skull. I swear to you that day I felt alive. The call of the nerubians dying cries were exhilarating. The few paladin that remained decended upon him like the insect swarm he summoned and proceeded to finish the job. We killed every single arachnoid there...and then..." He paused, unsure of the next part of his story.

Cat looked up, confused. "Wait, but, if you were there, and you were already free, then.. how did you wind up at Light's Hope with the rest of us?" She dusted off her hands again, wiping them down the front of her training pants. "We weren't free. Or at least I wasn't.. I never would have followed the Lich King's orders, if I was. If you were free, why bother going anywhere near the rest of us who weren't? Weren't you afraid he'd find a way to bring you back under control?"

"Survival... and revenge. A dangerous combination that makes a tactful person stupid. I broke free but I wasn't done getting my vengeance. Whether or not I knew there would be consequences for my actions I knew I could not take a risk. The paladins made it easy to create a story that would keep me from being discovered. 'The light overcame that day but their victory was short lived.' I turned my ax on them and finished off what remained. This insured my story... and following orders when free from his command wasn't difficult... I could still hear him in my head." He turned away, clearly not proud of his willingness to survive but it was not until lights hope that he could truly be free without consequence.

Cat sat down on the now semi-cleaned sofa. The tiny cottage was starting to look somewhat livable. It was at least livable enough for two elves who weren't really alive. "Do you think we'll ever not hear him in our head?" She asked sadly, seemingly accepting of his explanation. Cat once again looked down at her bare feet, unharmed except for the gray desaturation that effected the rest of her. "Do you think this will be what it's like, forever? Not being able to feel?"

His armor would be to heavy to sit on any of the furniture. In its old, likely rotted state it would crumble underneath him. Instead he made due with the floor and sat by her. " We may hear him as he chooses or perhaps we may be able to block his voice out. As for being able to feel... I have no answer for that question. Not one that I like anyways."

Cat rest her elbows on her knees, then her face in her palms. She squished her cheeks between each hand, giving her an appearance that was more like a bored child than an unholy knight of the damned. "This is going to suck."

"Yeah...this is going to...suck..." He let out a sigh as he leaned carefully on the bottom of the couch. Arms crossed he looked up at her and thought about their situation for a moment. Two runaway death knights with blood on their hands and an eternity of damnation in the living world. Suck was an understatement but couldn't help feel the same. They were free and went from moment to moment without much thought to long term goals. "We have all eternity to consider our options. I've only ever had the notion of survival in my mind. Now... I don't even know what is next."

"Eternity.." Cat repeated, looking a little lost with the idea. "I was gonna be a hero. I was gonna do great things, and save people. Get a pretty white horse, ride into battle with my brothers in arms, defeat evil.. now I'm dead. I'm dead and we're lost out here. I mean shit, we have eternity, and before I died I hardly ever even had a boyfriend." she whined, rubbing her face. "This isn't how it's supposed to be."

"I wanted to move from Silvermoon...travel the world and meet gorgeous women... finish my novel and one day settle down. Teach the heroes how to properly hold their blades. My aspirations aren't gone just the chance of living. But if I continue to remind myself of all of it then I'll simply spiral into something I am not. I've allowed so much to dictate how I live and even now I'm bound to my chains by undeath. Perhaps at the very least I can travel, and hope that the torches and pitchforks down come out as I make my way through towns." For the first time since they had met he had finally shown a side of himself that he thought he had buried. He wouldn't recognize it even if it came about again. It was buried so deep and forgotten that it was as much a stranger as she was to him.

"Oh geez.. I didn't even consider that," she admitted, rubbing her face with the palms of her hands. "I've gotta look like a complete freak, now.. a walking dead girl.. this sucks, Soleren. This sucks real hard. Sorry if I'm such a bummer.. but I guess we gotta work with what we've got, right? What'v we got?" Cat looked them both over. "I can do freaky blood stuff. You've got bugs in you. We can kill things pretty good. Maybe we can kill badguys, and maybe that'll be enough that people won't hate us? I don't know.. but we can try. I wanna try. We'll need some new armor, though, especially you. Your stuff looks like it's about to fall apart any second. Why are you even wearing it?"

"The armor isn't old...its a part of me just like my runeedge. It was forged to give off a frightening appearance. Fear is a great tool against an enemy. Lesser foes will cower and run and greater foes will underestimate it's appearance. It isn't bound to my body or anything like that but the properties of it's steel draw from my powers." He looks at the helm and sighs before returning his attention to Cat. "If we are to travel outside of this run down place then perhaps we do need different armor. I simply...well...perhaps there is some left over clothing in some of the dressers..." If his cheeks could turn a different shade other than pale they would have.

Cat shrugged and thumbed toward the other bedroom. "Give it a shot. I didn't look in there. Probably nothing that'd fit me anyway," she said, looking down at herself. "This is a human house. They're built huge so you might find something that isn't falling apart."

"I will...check in the morning. If I find anything then we can store our armor here and risk the chance of going out and trying it your way. Admittedly the idea makes me rather paranoid but it's a sound plan. If not..." He turns his head to look straightforward and stares for a moment. "Then we will have to figure something out. It will only be a matter of time before they come searching this way." He cleared his throat and and shifted his eyes toward her. "Since you are so inclined to not be alone tonight...the front room seems to have enough room for the both of us to spread out."

Cat looked around the room, taking stock of the furniture.  A couch, a few chairs, the floor. She suddenly felt embarrassed for her clingy behavior. "Do you wanna be alone?" She asked cautiously. "You can take the other room, if you do. I don't mind. I'm just.. not sure if I can sleep. Or even try to."

Soleren made to stand, the rattle of plate armor sounded oddly silent in his motion. Like his own hardened composure it served to keep him protected from pain, emotional or otherwise. The thought of removing it in the midst of the unknown was evident in the way he peered around and listened with the attentiveness of a ranger. He reached the entryway to the other room before turning his head back to her. "No, it's fine. We can share the same. I just want to male sure that there is something to to put on before I make any attempt to remove my armor. I... I will be back." He spoke as if to reassure her. He disappeared into the other room and it wasn't long before the sounds of rummaging were heard. A few light sighs followed every opening drawer.

Cat waited on the couch.  She adjusted herself, sat cross legged, then unfolded them again. In the midst of her uncomfortable fidgeting, she had a thought. This situation with the cottage, the awkwardness, it felt like some bizarre honeymoon between two complete strangers. She reached for her pigtails and tugged them, shifting again in her seat as Soleren's irritation could be heard through the door. The idea of the terrifying death knight scrambling to find clothes that fit suddenly brought a giggle to her mouth. She threw a hand over it to keep herself quiet, but still she couldn't help but laugh.

"I can hear you," he called out to her as he shut one of the dressers drawers to open what remained. "I'm dead, not deaf." His search would continue for a brief moment longer before it was met with a successful, "Finally. Something that hasn't been terribly damaged." He pulls the clothing from the dresser and slowly begins the process of removing his armor. The eerie rattleless silence ends as he maneuvers around the latches of each piece. The metal echoed it's protest as it was placed neatly on the wooden floor. With every piece set aside he slipped into the clothing and walked back into the other room. The elf, having only been seen in the bulk of his armor, was now dressed in plain clothing. Suitable for wear into the town market or out on the fields to work but not for any further altercation with the paladins. Outside of the armor he was still a tall individual. Before his death he had maintained a broad muscular body meant to endure the heavy armor and tower shield of a spell breaker. He filled into the humans clothing, still loose enough that he wasn't being hugged by it but not enough to make it seem like it was borrowed. His skin, what did show, was pale enough that the lines of each muscle would have emphasis even in the low light that remained. "This was the best I could find." He said as he held out his arms as if asking for approval in his reveal. "A few pair of work boots as well but I'll worry about those in the morning."

Cat blinked as she took in the death knight's appearance. She wasn't sure what she'd been expecting. Something scarier, maybe? She was confused by how much he didn't frighten her, even after seeing the insects that crawled inside of him. He looked just like any other elf who took care of himself, maybe a little paler, maybe his hair could use a wash. Cat found herself wondering why he terrified her so much to begin with, and decided it must have been the armor. Or maybe it was the way he so easily killed.

"You look good," she said easily, smiling comfortably. Out of their armor, they were just two elves.

Two dead elves in an abandoned house.

"You look like you're about to go plow a field. Probably better than an unholy knight of the damned if we're gonna try and find a way out of here." Scratching her nose, she regarded him again. "In the dim light, you don't even look all that dead."

"So only partially dead then. Hopefully the illusion is enough to fool the guards and any passer by. I also found a small cloak that you can use, likely it belonged to this humans mate. Most everything I found would be to large for you to fit in. But the cloak should work while we travel." He paused for a moment to look at her, catching the way she peered over him with a sense of relief.

"Sounds good," she said with a little more cheer in her voice. Cat sat up on the couch and slid both legs underneath her before looking toward the fireplace. "..does it feel weird to you that it's not cold in here? Like, I'm sure it's cold in here, but I can't feel it. I don't even know if I'd feel warm if we made a fire."

"The thought occurred to me to start a fire but I didn't want to bring any attention to an abandoned cottage. Even if we can't feel cold or warmth or even tired, I find an odd comfort in indulging myself." He sits on the couch next to her and let's out a deep breath. "Its the little things that separate us from the living. Sleeping, eating, drinking. Those things that we took for granted before. So yes, it feels odd not to be cold when it clearly is. It feels odd that some place so inhospitable doesn't even effect us in the slightest." His arms crossed as he pushed himself deep into the cushion of the couch. "I know you haven't had much time to cope with everything which is why I was willing to give you the space to think about the things you needed to. So if you need the time alone, take it."

Cat adjusted her legs again, crossing them so that her feet pressed against each other. She fidgeted with her toes, head bowed so that her hair covered her eyes. Her wariness was palpable. "I'm not.. used to being alone," she admitted, picking at one of her toenails. "My family lived in a little house like this. I always had my brothers around, we slept in the same room. Then I joined the military, and we were always together. Me and the recruits, we all slept in one big room, on bunks. Sometimes the snoring got real bad, but I don't know if I could sleep without it, now. I don't know.. I've never been on my own, before."

"A whole family in one small room. I can understand the sentiment of being all alone but my understanding is as much as I can give. I lived alone, never married, estranged from my own family, and friends were few and far between. Didn't bother me all to much. I was always to busy to care for any of that. Now... Well we will see where now takes me." His stare was similarly distant, connecting with her in such a strange circumstance seemed unreal and perhaps unnecessary. One or both of them may be killed for their actions or just existing. They may go separate ways. All the possibilities and not one seemed to include them becoming friends. "It isn't difficult to grow accustomed to ones predicament. Especially if all your life you grew up that way."

"I guess so." Reaching up to scratch her nose, Cat still moved as if she were alive. It was mechanical, muscle memory maybe, something hidden in her dead tissue only to be thoughtlessly retrieved. "Do you want to stick together for a while?" She suggested. "I'm probably not the strongest or the smartest, but I could watch your back if you'd watch mine."

He hesitated to answer, running through a new set of posibilities that had not really crossed his mind before. His thought lasted for a few moments before finally giving her an answer. "We can stick together on the condition that you allow me to show you how to properly wield the weapons you carry. You may have come up with the idea of small town redemption through our heroic deeds but what good is redemption if you can't stay alive long enough to obtain it. There are plenty of wicked people out there and we want to survive this curse. It’s the lesser of two evils but...it can be done. I had simply considered walking away and striking down anyone who wanted to kill me first. This is the better way."

Cat smiled hopefully. The idea of doing actual good with her newfound power was certainly attractive, especially considering the alternative. "Okay. Deal. Maybe we can actually do some good things with what we've got. Maybe there's still a chance for us, and it's not as bad as it seems. Maybe?" Her spirits seemed significantly lifted. "Maybe we'll make a good team."

It was bound to happen sooner or later and the idea of a cheerful unholy death knight seemed to tickle him further. He couldn't resist smiling at her enthusiasm. In a short time she had imparted her ideals into his mind like a incurable disease even after his display of brutality. He gave thought to the way he forced her to watch as his victim died and the smile faded again. "Perhaps. We will do what we can but you have to remember that we are still likely to be monsters in the eyes of everyone around us. Should we encounter a situation where we are in danger, we either run or do things a different way. We can't assume we will be loved after our first kitten saved."

Cat's expression dimmed at the mention of being seen as a monster. She smiled sadly and looked back up toward his face. "Well.. you saved your first kitten already," she tried to joke, poking fun at her own nickname. "So things should only get better. At least, we can try to make it that way.. I'm not ready to give up hope just yet. I think if we try hard enough, anything's possible." It seemed more as if she were trying to reassure herself than him. Tugging on her pigtails, she looked him over again. "..but for now, your hair needs some help. C'mere," she pat the cushion beside her. "I'll help."

"My hair?" He eyed her with a brow raised. "What about my hair? That's the least of my concerns." He pauses and sighs before moving over to the cushion next to her. At the very least he could help keep her mind preoccupied without making a fuss about it. "Just...make sure I don't end up with pig tails of my own." The smile returns as he settles into the spot.

"Hey you joke, but if you don't wanna look scary, pigtails are the way to go," she teased, putting her hands to his long greasy hair in an effort to comb it straight. Her fingernails gently scratched his scalp, just enough to tame the tangles. "Just because we're dead doesn't mean we have to look like it. Maybe if we look presentable, people won't be so afraid of us."

"A clean kept blight caller... admittedly I hadn't given much consideration to that factor either but it wasn't until recently that I had much of an option. The lakes in the area might not be the best source of water though i can't say it would make us ill. For now we work with what we have." Sensation wasn't dead to him and her nails against his scalp were a welcome feeling. His eyes closed as he focused on the attention. "Cat... Thank you. I...thank you."

"Least I can do for you helping me," she said with a shrug, getting through the long strands of his hair. After a little while, it became straightened enough for her to work with. She arranged it into three sections and started on a long braid. "This'll keep it from getting bad again, 'til we can find a place to hose down. Your hair is even longer than mine," she giggled, actually enjoying the act of braiding someone else's hair for a change.

"I was curious to what you looked like with your hair down. As odd as that request is, I don't think it's any more strange than asking me to fix mine." He kept straight as his hair was casually woven. The surreal nature of this exchange seemed to gnaw at him. Their initial interaction being what it was. But the comfort of another in the same situation made it strangely alright. When she finished he turned to her and waited for his own request. The thoughts slowly faded away for the night.

"Me? I look like a boy.." she chuckled, reaching up to undo her hair. Cat's black hair fell into a few short chunks against her shoulders. She didn't look like a boy per say, but her demeanor wasn't exactly feminine. "My mom did my hair this way because she said it was the only way she could tell me apart from the boys I used to run with."

"You don t look like a boy but they certainly suit you. And don t take that as an insult. I simply mean that the look is perfect for you. It matches your personality very well. As you said, nothing says not scary like pig tails." He reached back to take his braided hair and pulled it to the front. "There...a final touch to make me look as unimposing as possible. In the morning we will go out to the nearest town and find a blacksmith who would be willing to sell us some armor."

"Yeah! Sounds good. Maybe something less black and imposing." She picked up the end of his braid and used it to tickle the end of his nose. It seemed a litte hair braiding and some girl talk was all it took to take Cat from the depths of despair. "Oh, maybe we can find breakfast! Breakfast that isn't people, anyway.. that.. that wasn't great."

Soleren stared blankly at her playful gesture, not completely unmoved but unwavering in his resolve to return to his usual calculated nature."We will find something to eat in the morning. There are plenty of wild animals out in the woods that may yet be plagued or dead. I still remember how to cook the meat if that appeals to your need for...that sense of living. I can't say I have attempted to eat anything since. As for something less imposing,  basic armaments should suffice. We shouldn't need more the iron armor. Does that sound like a decent plan?"

"It's a plan," Cat concurred with a nod, letting go of Soloeren's hair to sit back against the couch. She looked sleepy, though if she was simply emotionally tired rather than physical it was hard to tell. "I'll try and get some sleep," she suggested, leaning to her side as she rest her head against the arm rest. "Maybe if I try and act normal, it'll be easier to look normal."

Soleren gave a slow nod before standing from the couch. He eyed the floor a few moments before turning back. " If what we have left is the simplicity of normality then we should keep it. Even if we don't look or feel it. Sleep well, Cat. We have an interesting venture ahead of us."

Cat curled her legs into a fetal position, watching Soleren as he stood. "Yeah. I guess we do. Don't leave? Please?"

She was a stranger hardly known to him. A visible weakness, exploitable at any given time by his enemies. The greater the distance he placed between them the easier it would be to part ways with her when the time called for it, yet he could not bring himself to walk away from her plee. Cruelty came easy to him but not this time. He sighed softly before returning to her side, sitting  close to her. "I won't leave...ill stay right here."

Cat turned so that her head faced Soleren's direction. She grabbed one of the couch pillows and set it under her head, curling up on her side. There was no physical contact, but she was close enough to recognize that someone else was there, and that was enough. Closing her eyes, she tried to imagine herself falling asleep in this strange new body with these strange new circumstances. "Thanks, Soleren."

“Rest well, Cat.”

Edited by Catalinetta

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Catalinetta    35

It had been a few days since Cat and Soleren found eachother at Light's Hope Chapel. Since then, the two attempted to make themselves scarce among the living. They found clothes, weapons, and some scant armor that could, for the most part, disguise them as living elves. At least until someone came too close, and noticed the chill that surrounded them, or the telltale smell of death. Still learning to understand her newfound abilities, Cat was having difficulty with how her body craved blood. She found it easier to simply eat flesh rather than drink the temporarily life-granting essence that granted her a living pallor, at least for a while. Yet even in the dying forest where they hid themselves for the time being, there were questions of life and death. As she knelt beside the corpse of a human farmer, long since dead, Cat ran her fingers over the rotting flesh of his face as maggots crawled in and out of his eye sockets.

"..do you think we'll ever rot, Soleren?"

"I can't say... each one of us has gone through different stages of death. We can still be wounded but the magic that keeps us animate has provided us with the means of staving off the worst of death's curses. Since we can not help our own situation we can only look for and embrace what ever silver lining we can find. In this case, you will not rot so long as you consume the life force that keeps the living from experiencing those very curses." They appeared as hobbled high elves, junked armor and clothing unfit for the very appearance they hid behind. What little life they did encounter  kept its distance enough to avoid unnecessary confrontation and to their fortune most that ever greeted them were corpses.

"But we won’t let that happen. We will use the guise of justice bringers to feed that hungering magic. In turn helping whatever town we land in and ourselves in the process."

"What do you mean the 'guise'? Like it's a disguise?"

Standing up, she dusted off her hands. Cat wore bracers, but hadn't yet found gloves that fit. Her small hands appeared gray, as if covered in dust, but it was only her own discolored skin. As if cold, she wrapped her ill-fitting cloak around herself and held it shut while approaching Soleren. "It's not a disguise if it's true, yeah? We really can help people with this power, even if we're kinda gross."

"Guise may have been the wrong word. The intention is noble and certainly well thought out but should we mangle even the wicked in front of those that seek retribution, we will still be seen as monsters. So guise is what I want to call it, as we will still need to be careful of how and when we complete our tasks. Helping people is fine, but even those we help might find our methods unappealing." Soleren moved them along, back onto the path they had chosen to walk. "The difficult part of this will be approaching people in our...current attire."

Cat looked down at her mismatched armor, most of it hidden behind a dark cloak she'd picked off of a dead traveler. Her chest piece was cinched in tight at the sides, though clearly built for a man. Beneath it, she still wore her old cotton trainee clothes, stained in several places. Her pants, rather than armored with metal as she would have preferred, were leather and also built for a man. A human man, specifically, making them rather loose and tightened only by a belt who's fitted holes she had to create herself. Her boots were, at least, built to size. Unfortunately, they were also bright blue. "I mean.. it's not that bad, is it?"

He thought for a moment as he looked over her. A smiled cracked on his face as he turned back to look at the road. "It may actually come as an advantage to look like makeshift adventurers. Novices on their first campaign to stop bandits and murderers. I am more hopeful then I am doubting the idea, at the very least. Else I would have suggested something else." She was more adorable then she was frightening and that would help them.

"You know, I always figured this is what I'd do," Cat said optimistically as they approached what looked like a small farm village. A few skinny goats bleated in the distance. "I knew I'd go out and do good deeds and stuff. I just figured it'd be after my training. I thought it'd take me a long time, like, I wouldn't actually go do anything heroic until I was in my hundreds. Hard to believe I'm doing it now, before I even hit twenty.."

"Twenty..." His features twitched slightly as his statement became more of a question.

"Oh yeah, I joined the military as soon as I was allowed. Eighteen, like humans do. Was supposed to be training as a squire for years, you know? Human squires train around five or ten years but we're supposed to go a lot longer. I figured I wouldn't be out adventuring until I was at least a hundred, but.." she shrugged as they walked. "You know. War."

"I was young when I joined the Spellbreakers, and still just as young when I took over training my unit. We were charged with defense of the city and often saw no action. The occasional troll while on patrol, but never anything to make it into the history books. You may have advanced faster then you thought possible. You've the heart for it and you certainly aren't lacking in drive. You are simply missing experience and technique."

"Well.. I guess I have all the time in the world to learn now," she added sadly, a hand absentmindedly reaching down to the handle of her axe. It bounced gently against her hip as she walked, mostly covered by the cloak. "Though I guess I'll be learning something totally different.. blood seems to answer me the way the Light used to. Kinda weird how similar it feels. Except when the Light came to me, it made me feel good. When blood does what I tell it to do, I don't really feel anything. I guess that's a death knight thing though, right? We're not supposed to feel anything."

Cat kicked a rock in her path.

"Being dead blows."

"Being dead...blows..." He repeated under his breath, giving a moment more of thought to it before brushing the notion away. "To guard us from our own atrocities perhaps. Our memories, our sentience, even the quirks of our former selves followed along. Yet certain feelings did not. I wish I could answer that question for you, Cat. I really do, but there are things even I have not figured out about death."

"Like what?" her ears suddenly perked, as if she were very interested in the answer. Soleren always seemed to have answers to her questions, in regards to death, undeath, and everything in between. To see him lost about something made him seem a little less wondrous, and a little more like an actual peer. "What is it you wanna know?"

"Will the world ever really accept what we are, regardless of what we do for them? Will this freedom be everlasting or are we temporarily allowed to be who we were only to be broken later? Mostly questions that may have no answers." Soleren shifted the weight of his weapon, the bundle that held it hid it's appearance from passersby. He turned back to her, eyeing her interest with a raised brow. "I suppose one of my questions may be answered sooner rather than later. The real question then becomes will we like the answer."

Cat looked at Soleren's serious face and tried to smile. It wasn't easy. "Now you're scaring me," she said with a nervous giggle. "People aren't all monsters. If we're good to them, they'll be good to us. We just have to be really really good. The other thing.." she chewed on her tongue thoughtfully, now avoiding his eyes. "..I don't wanna be a slave, again. I'd rather kill myself before it happens. If I get the chance, anyway. If not.. will you do it?"

Soleren lingered on the thought for a moment, eyes narrowed to the idea of having to kill one of his own. He kept his pace, walking through the akward silence for a moment before responding. "If we ever become slaves to anyone again, for whatever reason...I will make every effort to break free long enough to kill them before I ever point my axe at you, Cat."

Cat's smile came a little easier, though she kept her eyes on the forest floor. "Okay. That's good enough for me."

As they drew closer to the village, it was clear the farmers were facing hard times. The few farm animals they had were skinny and malnourished, so much so that one could count the ribs on their goats. There didn't seem to be a lot of activity either, with the exception of a skinny human female hauling water from a nearby well. She seemed to be having a tough time of it.

"This village has seen better days. We may not be of much help to them with their livestock but at the very least we can investigate. Perhaps their despiration will be our ally today." He hesitated to approach, a fear of the worst keeping him at a distance. Everything could go wrong and the moments of peace they had found would end.

Cat shrugged and waved toward the little human girl. "Maybe. Wonder what's up with all the animals?"

Approaching the little girl carefully, Cat removed the hood from her cloak to reveal a gray toned elf with bright blue eyes. Her black hair in pigtails, she didn't look particularly threatening, but for the living there was a strange sense of dread about her. The human looked toward them both as if she'd seen two ghosts, clutching her empty bucket.

"Hello," Cat said in her best Common, pointing toward the bucket. "Help?"

The human blinked, then looked at the bucket. Her hands, which seemed unusually thin, trembled as she held it close to her.

"My name is Cat," the death knight tried again, smiling brightly in spite of the underlying stench of death. "From Quel'thalas. May I help?"

Another long pause. The human slowly handed Cat her bucket, but as soon as the death knight took hold of it, the child bolted for one of the nearby houses.

Soleren grew nervous, eyes shifting from building to building ready for what may emerge. An angry mob perhaps, another purging party that had been tracking them down? All possibilities, without his armor and a formerly inexperienced initiate their chances of escape were smaller. "Cat, we should leave." The resounding paranoia rang from his voice like a warning bell. "I do not want to stay and find out what will happen after her alarm."

"But.. maybe she needs help," Cat reasoned, looking aeound the village for another sign of life. "I don't see any adults here, do you? She might be all alone. She's probably just never seen an elf before. Maybe we should --"

As if on command, the doors to the house where the little girl ran burst open to reveal a skinny dog. It barked wildly at both death knights, jaws foaming.

Cat regarded the animal sadly. "..I thought dogs liked me."

Soleren instinctively reached for a weapon, keeping himself from drawing the axe and unwanted attention. He called out to Cat in Thalassian, reaching for her arm instead. "We need to leave."

"But--"

Before she could argue, the dog ran for them both. It was skinny, and likely didn't have the capacity to injure either of the knights, but it ran at full speed with open jaws ready to tear one of them apart. Cat was in too much shock to immediately respond, but as the dog drew closer, what looked like a rune spread throughout the ground around both her and Soleren. As the dog's paws hit the rune, it began to smoke, as if it were on fire. The reality was far more gruesome, as flesh began falling from the dog's bones as it decayed before their eyes.

The dogs lunge triggered a reflexive twitch that called for more then a simple reach of a weapon. Just as the rune had appeared, Soleren stepped infront of Cat and raised a gauntled hand towards the decaying animal. He pulled back and turned to his protectorate, looking for the source of the magic. "Cat..." The melting hound began to howl in its pain as it died where it stood.

It took a few seconds for Cat to realize that the rune erupted from her own feet. She stumbled backwards, looking down at the symbol as it burned through the ground, a symbol she didn't understand but could feel emanating from her need to protect them both. The death knight's mouth trembled, as if she were more terrified of herself than the flesh melting dog that whimpered until it crumpled to the ground in a pile of decaying goo. She took a few timid steps back, staring at the animal with a growing realization of her ability, then turn and ran back into the woods.

Soleren took a few steps back, looking around for any others that may have seen them. With little in the way of witnesses and Cat running off into the woods, all that had remained was the girl. He gritted his teeth and snarled at the thought of the frightened child. Should her parents return she would surely tell them what she saw. What was he to do? Survive.

The little girl remained inside of her house. With the exception of the dog, it seemed as if she were all alone. The house was too small for her to have much of a hiding place, and she crouched with her hands over her head underneath a table who's decorative tablecloth was only long enough to cover her forehead. Legs trembling, she cried as the dog's barks finally fizzled out. She understood what that meant.

The ground around Soleren became riddled with small cracks as tiny scarab like critters poked out of the dirt and began their march towards the house. What started as a few became hundreds, the clicking of femurs became loud enough to drown out thought. The death knight waited for a moment before following Cat into the woods. The bugs pushed through every crevice they could fit through until they all made their way inside. Trapped and with nowhere to run, the girl was left to her fate.

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Catalinetta    35

Cat didn't run far from the village. Crouching beside a muddy stream, she watched as the water tried to make its way through rocks, struggling like the rest of this place to survive. She had pulled her cloak over her head again, covering most of herself, appearing almost like a lumpy gray stone with the exception of her bright blue boots. At the sound of Soleren's footstops, a hand went for her axe. It stayed there as she heard the lack of breathing, the familiar gait, and lowered back to the ground.

Soleren carefully approached Cat, but made no effort in hiding his steps. "Cat..." he called out softly as he neared the bank, squatting down next to the pig tailed death knight. A hesitant hand reached out to pull at her hood, giving her the chance to bat him away should she need it. "Everything will be fine. I promise you that. We will look somewhere else, aid others that are not so fearful."

"I melted a dog," Cat reaponded in a shaky voice. She seemed dustand, not bothering to push his hand away but not really feeling it either. Glowing blue eyes focused on the water before her, muddy and fetid. "Dogs usually like me. This one wanted to rip my face off."

"The dog was an unexpected occurrence and we have learned that we need to watch out for more in the future. The can sense our undeath where the girl could not. But we've escaped and we need to keep moving. We want to avoid any more people for a bit, keep to the road as if we are wandering sellswords." He removed the hood fully and nodded at her, hand falling to her back in an attempt to comfort her. "It was a mistake and we can not undo it. We were met with hostility. If it had not been you then it would have been me to do it."

"But if animals can see what we are, it's just going to keep happening, right??" Cat's knees were shaking in the ground, creating little ripples where the toes of her boots touched the stream. "She's going to tell the village about us, anyway.. I'm sorry. I ruined this for us."

He paused for a moment, hand resting on her back like a permanent fixture. She was deserving of the truth but it would set them back. "Cat..." His hesitancy was evident and would likely speak to his actions anyways. " No one will be looking for us... I told you that our situation would require us to do horrendous things to keep us alive. The girl... She could not be reasoned with. She would give us away and our hope of normality would end all because of an unrestrained act of aggression from her part. I... did what needed to be done. I understand if you think I'm a monster... But I want us to survive this." His hand slipped away from her back slowly, uncertain of what her reaction would be.

There was a long pause as Cat digested the information. Still staring at the muddy water, Soleren's voice didn't seem real. Their situation didn't seem real. The little girl's death didn't seem real. The only thing that seemed real was the hollow numbness she felt  as she knelt in the dirt. Eventually, she turned to regard her new partner in crime. Had she the ability, she probably would have been crying. But she was undead, and the tears didn't exist anymore. "We're both monsters," she said sullenly. "But if you did something that horrible, it was my fault. So.. I'm sorry. And thank you."

He was afraid of her hate, scared of the way she perceived him. Until their first encounter, all he had ever been was his armor. The nerubian effigy who's only forward thought was survival. Self preservation embodied and reinforced, tempered by the murders he had been forced to commit. Until that encounter, nothing and no one else mattered. He stood and reached down to offer her a hand, stoic in expression. "I can not blame you for the atrocities I commit. Had I a choice you know I wouldn't have..." Soleren paused, unable to repeat his crime.  "We need to keep moving."

Cat took his hand and stood. His grasp was just as cold as hers, something that wasn't lost on her, despite the numbness. There was comfort in the similarity, a reminder that she was not alone in undeath, and she was hesitant to let go. "Okay. Where to?"

"We continue west. Towards Horde territory. If we come across any more farmers we can try approaching them with caution, make sure they don't have any animals with them. If they ask, we are a wandering couple in search of work and have been hardpressed to find it." He looked out into the flowing stream and composed himself as he planned out their next move. "We need to keep our story straight and not rouse any suspicion. If they ask where we are from we simply claim to be from Elwynn Forest. Traveled this way because we heard there was work as mercenaries available. We can try to head south towards Westfall and hope we can help people along the way."

"Westfall sees a lot of crime and there are sure to be postings for heroes there."

"Elwynd Forest.. Mercenaries.. got it," she repeated, looking westward. The sun was already beginning to set. "My Common isn't so great. I hope we can get to Horde territory soon.." she passed Soleren an awkward smile and squeezed his hand before moving in that direction, as if she needed some semblance of normalcy. "I'm definitely better with Orcish. It's a lot easier, even if the sounds are funny."

He returned the squeeze before they headed westward, awknowledging her smile with a nod."We will practice your common along the way. You dont need to be fluent in it, but at the very least passibly speak it should we find ourselves needing more convincing 'disguises'. Orcish would be easier to speak but we can not pass as Sin'dorei without the green glow of fel taint in our eyes."

"Right.. uh.." Cat blinked a few times as they walked, considering the implication that came with their blue eyes. "I guess I didn't even have the fel taint for very long..I remember when we were magic starved, and my brother sent back money so we could buy magic items from the black market to feed on. Our eyes were doing all kinds of weird things, then. Seems like they're always changing.." She scratched her nose with a free hand. "..the.. Forsaken sometimes had a smell.. do you think we do? Maybe we should.. I dunno, maybe we should chew on mint leaves or something. My mother always made my brothers do that because they were gross."

"Our bodies are preserved by the magic that courses through us. We aren't subject to suffer the same fate as the forsaken unless you were turned as a forsaken. However we have been on the move for days and perhaps a bath and some mint would do us good."

"Might be hard to find another abandoned house with a decent place to bathe.." Cat muttered, frowning a little. "We might have to settle for a cold stream or something. Not that how cold it is will matter, I guess.. My brothers used to swim in the river all the time, but I thought it was too cold. Sometimes they threw me in," she said with a little smile. "I almost wish they could see me, now."

"A cold stream is likely the best we would find out here. The hot springs of Winterspring we most certainly will not find. We can follow the stream you found and wash off if need be or we can wait til we get to a cleaner source of water." He had a calculated look about him, piecing their plan together as they hobbled along. "There are plenty of wild herbs we can use to better our scent as well. Clean and polish this armor and make ourselves look a bit more presentable."

"Never thought I'd have to worry about looking presentable," Cat said as she followed the stream, moving in the direction it flowed from in an effort to find a clean source. "Not fir a while, anyway. Most of the blood knight trainees were pretty grimy, especially the guys. Almost makes me miss showering with the girls, like we used to. Even the teasing."

"Teasing? How presentable we are, as an aspect of our reasoning, is so that we can pass ourselves off as civilized individuals. Though...a semblance of cleanliness wouldn't hurt us all the same." He lowered a smirk down to her, as they approached a portion of the stream that could pass as clean water. "Here."

As they approached the stream, Cat's attention was drawn toward its flaws; the banks were shallow, and the water moved slowly. There didn't seem to be any fish nearby, but there was an abundance of greenery surrounding the stream to indicate that it was at least clean enough to sustain them. She seemed a little disappointed, at first. This wasn't the river her brothers would dive into on cold mornings, daring each other to get in before the other. It wasn't the pond where her first would go skinny dipping after a long day of training. It was just a stream, but it would do. "Seems about right," she said with a sad sort if smile, shrugging off her cloak before going for her boots.

Soleren watched as Cat moved towards what little respite they had found, calculated mind suddenly coming to a halt in realization. He turned away as he spoke, "I... You likely require privacy. I can go and fetch the herbs while you bathe. I don't want to leave you alone but there isn't much in the way of privacy. Not like the cottage anyways."

"Don't worry about it," Cat said offhandedly, peeling off her armored shirt. "My friends and I in basic used to go skinny dipping after a long day. I was shy, at first. Then.." she smiled to herself before unbuckling her belt. "..I met someone. And he kinda helped me out of my shell, I guess. Showed me how stuff like this is no big deal, you know? Once I got over being so shy, I enjoyed going out into the water with them. So don't worry about me. Might as well rinse off, yourself."

"Myself...yes..." He did not shy from his own appearance, but retained his gentleman nature even through death. Once again the killing machine of an elf seemed to show more of whom he was before death then he had when they had met. "Very well then."

Piece by piece armor was placed on the floor, methodically. First the gauntlets then the braces. It was a process that revealed more and more of him with every piece that followed suit. Broad and muscular for an elf, he still held a slight finesse the accentuated the definition of his build. He was built for his armor but the grace of his former stride still remained. He did not grow in front of her, but simply walked towards the other knight and sat beside her near the bank of the stream.

"I suppose our situation will demand we do a number of things that will call for our discomfort or lack there of." His face remained stoic as he waited for her to finish, looking contemplatively into the water. Black hair, still braided, touched the middle of his back where small marks etched his body. "Of course in this moment here, it really isn't all that uncomfortable." He'd bared himself to her before, first time shedding the effigy that protected him and nothing else. This time he was as he was born, and it was easier than before.

Cat didn't let her eyes linger on him for too long as he undressed. That was the first lesson she learned in training when stripping down near your peers - don't stare. She instead focused on removing her mismatched armor and the remnants of her training linens, now stained past forgiveness at the cuffs and joints. As she stripped, it became more and more clear just how young she was in death. Cat was a young woman, but there was still a little developing that could have been done in her less than ample chest and wide hips, and for the most part she was without a blemish; except for the enormous gash in the middle of her stirnum. The open wound was a grizzly mark on her otherwise smooth frame. As she exposed it to the air, Cat felt a twinge of embarassment. In their time together, she'd almost forgotten it was there.

"..it's only uncomfortable if you make it uncomfortable," she said quietly, maybe more to herself than to him. Without warning, the gray skinned elf let herself sink into the water and rise back up again, her hair drenched.

Soleren reached for the make shift band thay bound his hair, pulling at it to let the raven of his hair come unwound. He sat a moment long before slipping into the stream unaffected by the cold waters. He submerged himself, reflexively holding his breath. When he emerged back to the surface he smirked, slightly tickled by the reflex.

Cat undid her pigtails and watched as Soleren dunked himself into the water. When she saw him come back, one of her ears flicked. He looked a lot less intimidating when completely wet, and it made the soggy death knight giggle. "Hey," she said with a grin, swirling her hands around the icy water. "I guess we can't drown, can we?"

Soleren nodded, brought to a half smile by the cheerful deposition that seemed to seep from her like a plague, infectious and destructive. His guard was shattered by the giggle, and he raised his brow at its effect. "No, I suppose we can not. We are beyond suffering most death." He took a handful of water into his hand and splashed it over his face, feeling only the texture of the water over his skin and nothing else. "Is...is this what you needed?"

"I guess so," she answered a little less mirthfully, running her hands through the water, as if looking for something. "..now I kmow I can't feel much of anything. Not the cold, anyway. It's weird. I feel the water, the rocks on my feet, and I know I'm wet and my hair is dripping but.. without the cold it's like I'm feeling it through a haze. Even if we did smell bad before, now I'm not so sure I would notice."

"Then pretend you do. I may not feel sensation like hot or cold but I can still remember what they felt like. Sensations like hot and cold will likely not return to us, but at the very least we can pretend..." He took another handful of water and looked into, pale icy blue eyes stared back at him. With a smirk he flings the palmed water at Cat and it splashes her in the face. "You missed a spot."

Cat sputtered as the water dripped down her face, shock eventually melting into mirth. "You jerk," she said with a grin, cupping her hands to splash him right back.

He raised a hand to shield himself from the assault, water easily passing his meek defense. With the other hand he returned the favor, moving closer as he continued to  send small wave after wave her way. Through the chuckle that left him, he called out to her. "I was just trying to help you get clean!"

The wave hit her directly in the face, blinding her for a moment as she returned another splash his way. "That is almost insulting! I am clean," She argued, giggling as the water rolled down her back. She was beginning to get used to the strange sensation of water without temperature, and the memory of what it may have felt like began to fill in the blanks. Wiping a hand across her eyes, she brought up her hand and made a pretend pair of scissors with her fingers. "Though I can't say the same for you and that hair.. I think maybe it needs a trim!"

"This coming from the girl with pigtails!" He grinned as his demeanor became more playful. "I let you tie it into a tail, but you will take no sheers to it!" The water rippled and splashed back and forth now as they moved around in it. There had been nothing to disturb and no one to see them in all their splendor. He stopped as he neared her sank himself down to her height, smirking at her. "Im supposed to look like a mercenary, not a lord!"

"You look like a hobo," Cat giggled, reaching for a long chunk of his hair. Taking the time to wring some water from the chunk, she drew it close to her eyes and squinted. "Could at least trim the dead ends.." she suggested before bursting into laughter. "I guess they're all dead ends, huh?"

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to both death knights, a stranger crept nearby. He was silent in his creeping, and unseen through the magic of stealth, choosing to hide himself in the foliage a few yards from their clothes and weapons.

Soleren looked down at the clump of hair in her hand and let out a brief laugh. "Your jokes are unamusing. This is simply my unamused laugh." His attention was on Cat, drawn to her giggling and smiles. She had cried for most of their venture and hated herself through a large part of it. The mirth of her spirit was worth making a fool of himself and if it meant getting to smile himself, he would continue. "Warn me before you make any more so that I may pretend to listen!"

As if in protest of his suggestion, Cat got close enough to him that she could bring his hair to her face and placed it under her nose. It resembled a very drippy mustache. "What do you think? Good disguise?"

Their guest was closer, now. Cloaked with stealth, he wore the tight fitting leathers of a thief. Thin and wirey, he kept close to the ground, inching patiently toward the pile of armor and weapons in the hope that they might contain something of value.

"The pigtails give you away! Though you might be able to convince some fool. At the very least the color matches." He took some of his own hair and placed it underneath his own nose. "I could make it work."

Cat giggled at the sight, her expression fading slowly as she noticed some sort of movement behind Soleren's back. "..wait..." At her change in attitude, the rogue knew the jig was up. In a mad rush to make use of his situation, he hastily grabbed the first thing he could - her axe. "Wait!!" Cat shouted, grabbing Soleren's shoulder and shoving him out of the way to splash out of the stream and run after the rogue who disappeared into the woods.

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Catalinetta    35

 

It was the first time she'd ever chased after a thief, and Cat didn't know how to start. Fortunately, she could smell him. She could smell the life blood pumping through his veins as he ran, and with her death-granted strength, she managed to catch up to the rogue after a few strides through the forest. By the time she saw him, he'd already sprinted a quarter mile away, and was beginning to lose speed. Cat used the opportunity to grab him by the first thing she could get her hand on , his hair.

"Give me back my axe!!" She yelled, tugging his head back as he attempted to keep running.

There was a sick tearing sound, and a pop.

The force of her grip, combined with the speed of his running made his body go forward as his head was yanked from its perch. His skull dangled from Cat's hand as his body fell into the ground, her axe glowing maliciously. She stood there, wide-eyed, her naked body splashed with blood that dripped slowly down her frame, and stared at the skull hanging from the hair in her hand. It seemed to stare back at her.

Soleren dashed after, pulling his runeedge from the pile as quickly as he could and continued to follow. His pace slowed as he neared them, Cat holding a head in her grasp and the thief clearly separated from his own. "Cat..." He whispered as he approached her, slowly taking the head from her hand and dropping it to the floor beside them. His own axe followed soon after as he pulled her towards himself. What blood had spilled over her would smear onto him as he held her. It was the only thing he could think of doing, in an attempt to bring her back to their reality. "Cat, are you okay?" He grew defensive of her, eyes moving from place to place in high alert. He wouldn't let his guard down again. It almost cost them. "You're okay..." He repeated softly.

By the time Soleren had caught up with her, Cat and the head had been together for a few long minutes. In those moments alone, she felt drawn to the head. Or at least, the blood freely flowing from it's throat. Without thinking, or knowing exactly why, she raised the head into the air and let the blood stream into her mouth like juice from a ripe fruit. She couldn't taste it at first, but the more she drank, the more she could taste and smell the gradually cooling blood as it rolled down her throat and face, somehow warming her from the inside. Though mostly hidden behind the blood spray, her skin became slightly more saturated, the bloom of artificial life creating a temporary pulse that her dead heart struggled to pump through black veins.

As she lowered the head back down, Soleren was running toward her. She could smell the death on him, though it wasn't quite decay. His arms around her were like cold slabs of meat.

"..I'm warm," she murmured, looking down at herself, then up at his face. "I can smell you."

Soleren leaned back to listen, arms parting to let her go. She didn't need any comforting. She had found the strength that came from delving into her powers and the warmth it brought her. She would want to indulge in the urge that came with the return of her feeling. "That is the power you wield, Cat. You have the strength to get back what was taken from you, even if it is temporary. What you must do now is control that urge. Do not let it control you."

He placed the axe's handle over his shouder and stood infront of her, waiting for her to grow accustom to the magic she wielded. "After all, it isn't often that you can discover what will bring you back what was taken from you."

"It's.. not exactly the same," she said quietly, looking down at her still bloodied hands. A few yards away, the thief's body bled into the grass. Cat sniffed the air, goosebumps appearing on her limbs at the now familiar scent. "I still don't feel.. you know. Alive. I just feel less dead. I can feel things, again. Smell, and taste."

Her eyes suddenly adjusted to the situation; two death knights standing naked in the middle of a forest. One covered in blood. Realization hit her like a ton of bricks. She approached the dead body and went through his things; a handful of coins, a leather satchel, a few useful odds and ends. Cat shoved them into the bag and grabbed her axe, hoisting it over one shoulder before turning to look at Soleren with the hint of a smile.

"..okay, now I really need to clean up or nobody is going to believe a word we say," she said with a strange amount of calmness. "Thanks for coming for me."

Grabbing what she could not, dead body included, he nods at her and hefts the decapitated corpse over his shoulder. "This can't be here. If we leave a trail then we will certainly be followed. I will dispose of it myself and we will continue back towards the waters to finish our bath." He looked down at her, blood coated body shimmering under the light of the sun. There was a moment of solidarity between them, shared in their predicament. "Perhaps it’s best not to be standing here naked on the road with a dead man and his 'belongings' in hand."

Cat started to giggle into her hand, emotionally exhausted. "Perhaps not.. though when I think of the kind of stories my girlfriends told me, I really wish they were still alive to hear this one."

She began to walk back toward the stream, her footfalls slow and deliberate as she could actually feel the ground beneath her bare feet. "Naked in the woods with a guy I just met. Nobody would believe me."

Soleren's face twitched into a half smile. The manipulation of her phrasing was enough to bring him out of his brooding nature once again. "All the same, I ended up naked in the woods with a girl I just met...had I an opportunity to talk with anyone, I'd likely get asked for grittier details. 'Who was she?' 'What was she like?' 'Did you--!' No, never mind that one." He shook his head, looking down at the small death knight as he adjusted the corpse over his shoulder.

"I'm a soldier, Sol," Cat said with a smirk over her shoulder. The blood seemed to have an effect on her, and it gave the other death knight a glimpse of what she might have been like alive. Energetic, cheerful, someone with no right to smile as much as she was while the sun dried blood on her skin and her hair was still matted with it. "You don't need to be shy around me. My friends would as if we screwed, and I'd tell them no, and they'd laugh at me."

Soleren blinked at Cat, brow raising in surprise. "I have not doubted you being a soldier, though from what I recall, you were a soldier yet tested on the field of battle. Regardless of your expertise..." He shifts, looking ahead towards the nearing waters. "I do not shy away from the subject because of any doubt. It’s a lingering remnant of my persona. A large part of me has given up on retaining these pieces that made me a living being...but that comes from isolation on a grand scale. So yes, I would also have been asked if we had 'screwed' and would have lied most likely. Or perhaps attempted to make truth of it."

Cat laughed into her hand again, grinning back at Soleren with bright blue eyes that seemed to ignore the sunshine pouring in through the trees. "Lied about it? What a jerk," she teased, looking around for a good place to dump the body. "I wonder if we can even do that, anymore. I'm not sure how much of me actually works, even with the blood magic." Eventually, they came upon a small thicket near the same stream the thief caught them in. Cat pointed out the mound of foliage. "Maybe we can bury him under there? All the bushes will hide the ground being disturbed, yeah?"

"Bury him?" He let out a laugh of his own, dropping the corpse’s remains on the ground and letting it hit the floor with a thud. "As far as things working or not...I haven't had sufficient time to test that. Has sort of been the last thing on my mind since I broke free. Most I ever thought about it was...well...now." He held out his hand and from the ground sprout more of the beetle like creatures. They swarmed over the corpse, burying it with the mass of their numbers before consuming it completely. In moments they scattered and returned into the ground, covering their tracks as they disappeared. All that remained was the organic matter that could not be broken down. He lowered his hand and turned back to Cat. "I don’t imagine it was on anyone’s mind when they came to."

Cat's focus was drawn to the beetles as they ate their way through her kill, leaving behind only bones and the remnants of his clothes. The sight was fascinating and terrifying at the same time, though by now Cat had grown almost accustomed to the strangeness that accompanied Soleren's abilities. His voice drew her back to the present, though the subject matter was strange, even for two dead people. "..uh.. well you're probably right about that," she murmured, shaking her head to erase the image of Soleren's bugs eating their way through a corpse. "But I mean, it's hard to forget old habits, right? Not like I was particularly 'habitual' in that regard before I died.." she chuckled awkwardly, moving her axe from one shoulder to the other. "..but I mean, being a death knight isn't supposed to be a good time. Maybe we can't. Maybe it would be too much of a distraction from killing. Maybe.. we're not even supposed to like each other."

"Do you like me?" Soleren asked nonchalantly, letting the power of the beetles fill him with renewed strength.

The other death knight blinked slowly, her demeanor shifting from the confidence inspired by her bloodlust back to the timid undead Soleren found only days ago. Despite having seen him naked from nearly every angle, she somehow felt awkward looking him in the eye. "..yeah. Sure I do," she admitted, her stomach in suddenly twisted.

Soleren's lip curved slightly to her words, changing his tone ever so slightly towards a warmer one. Like her blood magic, his conjuration brought a hint of warmth to his own skin. "Then consider that theory disproven. The only thing that is certain is that we weren't meant to break free and yet here we are. Naked, soaking wet, talking about sex instead of rampaging through a village in the name of some false king. Tell me that we weren't meant to at least be able to enjoy some things."

Cat's ears turned pink at the mention of their chosen subject matter, a relieved smile creating dimples in her cheeks as she laughed into her hand. "I guess you're right," she admitted, comfortable once again despite their situation. As if to pick at the same wound he had, Cat lifted her axe from her shoulder and used the flat side to bump Soleren's shoulder. "What about you? Do you like me?"

"I...I mean..." Soleren’s usual stoic and piercing look crumbled as if he was not expecting the same question, yet he knew it to be inevitable. His features softened slightly and with a smile he turns to Cat. "Yes. Yes I do."

Though typically aloof in situations that called for discretion, Cat wasn't quite stupid enough to miss Soleren's inflection. They may have been dead, but all of their emotions and memories seemed to follow them, which seemed to include a capacity for attachment. Letting the head of her axe touch the ground and drop with a thud, Cat took the long step to close the gap between herself and the other walking corpse. She breathed in deep the smell of death that permeated through them both, only to be amplified as their pale and desaturated skin came in direct contact. Her thin arms wrapped around his waist, unflinching in their contact with flesh that had grown slightly warm from his use of the beetles, but still retained the texture of old meat. It was a surprise that she didn't find any of it repulsive, one that she didn't take for granted as she set the smell of his particular corpse to memory. "Thank you."

His own rune edge fell into the dirt, carving itself a place to stand as his arms reached down to wrap around her. Memories and emotions had followed but it took another to dig them out and pull them from the depths in which they had been buried. He held her as he had when he had found her in the middle of the road, only this time he felt no need to chase away any pain. A hand reached to press on her back as she clung to him. "Cat...I...you're welcome...and....Thank you."

"What'r you thanking me for?" The smaller death knight asked quietly, the side of her face against Soleren's chest. Had he been living, she would have felt his heartbeat there. The silent stillness of his nonexistent pulse was oddly comforting. "You saved me," she continued, following the trail of events that led them to this place. "If it wasn't for you I probably would have been destroyed at Light's Hope. You were there to show me what I was, even though you weren't sure either. You chased me when I tracked down that thief, and took care of the body for me. It seems like you keep saving me," she noted with a sad sort of smile. "I hope I can return the favor, someday."

"I hope a day where you have to rescue me never comes, but if it does...I want you to run. Don't chase after me, don’t stay behind to be a hero. Don't look back after you are miles gone. Just run. And if I am who you want to save me from then keep away from me." His eyes closed as he relived the moments she recounted, following the trail of reasons he had to be thankful for. "When we found one another I had not anticipated our journey to lead us here. But finding you has been reason plenty to give me purpose. Perhaps that’s over simplified but...I've no other way of saying any of this. So thank you."

As Cat listened to Soleren's explanation, her smile faded to a look of concern. She waited until he once again thanked her before leaning back slightly to look up at his face. "If you think I'm ever gonna just run away, you don't know me very well yet. I'd never do that. I wanted to be a hero, before I died. I don't see why that needs to change, now. I'd rather go down fighting than run." Her smile returned a little as she craned her neck to look him in the eye. "We look out for each other. It goes both ways."

For a moment there was a silence between them, broken by the soft echo of his voice and digits that pressed her head lightly back onto his chest. "Both ways then... we protect one another and when we can't, we keep trying anyways. Because that's what heroes do, right?" Soleren looks on over her into their reflection by the water, icy blue eyes staring back in question. He agreed to her, but dwelled on his own lingering thought.

"That's what heroes do," Cat agreed, closing her eyes. The ability to feel again was enough to remind her of how good it felt to be heard and understood. For the time being, the impact of her losses, her own death and the death of her first love, were easier to deal with. "Just because we're dead on the outside," she began, her voice muffled against his clammy chest. "..doesn't mean we're dead on the inside, right?"

"Right..." Soleren replied, slow and breathy.

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Edited by Catalinetta

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