Qabian

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Everything posted by Qabian

  1. Qabian

    Time Shattered

    What... have we done? I have never seen such... So much... These islands bore me, but Azshara's voice is audible here as it was on the other Isles. I do not fear what she will do. I fear what she will fail to do. I fear she will become just another setback that we will overcome, when the history she holds should mean so much more. History becomes meaningless in the face of the Bronze and the Titans. They strip the value from our stories and endeavor to make us worthless. They will succeed if we do not hold them at bay. Alphaeus asked if I had ever done anything selfless in my life. My immediate response, and the correct one, was an obvious no. But then it occurred to me, and because I enjoy the sound of my own voice, I even revealed that I have evidence to the contrary. Perhaps it is a singular event. No, not entirely singular, but definitely rare. I am capable of selflessness, but if you want it from me, you have to earn it by doing something that means a great deal to me and absolutely nothing to anyone else. In the grand scheme of things, I am capable of no such thing. I have no need for selflessness under the Mandate. The Mandate encompasses my self and every narcissistic action I take furthers its impossible cause. It is best not to dwell on stolen moments that suggest I have the capacity for any real sacrifice. I know that what matters most to me is my self, so I had pieces of me carved away, my ear, my name. But knowing that hardly seemed enough, I tried and failed to do more at the time. In the many months since, I think I have done enough, and look forward to earning that future place of respect without continued sacrifice. But to suggest that anything could matter to me more than I do is heresy of the highest order. Isn't it?
  2. Qabian

    Time Shattered

    Don't ask. Just... Don't. That... thing is to blame for this. That thing and the Infinite. Or the Bronze. They're the same, yes? I was trying... I was... We were...? What was it? I hate him. I have always hated him. I will always hate him. It's refreshing. This hate. Everything and all the rest of dulled fragments of reflection. Hate is what slices through. Sweet, small, slicing through shadows, tiny candleflame hate. Nothing else. The rest is gone. Not even darkness. No shadow. Only blank, empty nothing. The rest is scattered, irretrievable, swept into a delirium vortex, unreal in every sense, and yet all of what is gone, what is lost, what is missing is the only real there is, ever has been, or ever will be. Except the hate. The hate burns through. I've missed this. Haven't I? I hate that, too.
  3. Qabian

    [WR-August] Foreboding

    Qabian stepped up the gangplank onto the Banshee's Wail, giving Dazar'alor's great pyramid over his left shoulder a smirk as he set about leaving it behind for another day. The Troll essence pervading everything wore on him. There was enough to it to keep him interested for a short time, but the longer he spent there, the more he wanted out. Despite the Amani's presence in his backyard, Qabian had never been entirely anti-Troll in his past. He knew the sheer duration of their civilization--if it could even be called that, but it was ancient--held secrets that even he could not easily dismiss. Yes, those secrets had left him with a useless, impossible-to-kill cat, but still. Unlike the humans, who had stolen a gift they did not deserve, and the night elves, who had turned their backs on the magic they should have guarded, Trolls actually knew things, important things, held them close, and could use ancient magic imbued with powers that could not simply be denied. But Qabian found himself tiring of their aesthetic easily. It took good, vibrant, powerful colors and threw them into right angles and crude faces, no curves, no sweeps, all boldness with no subtlety, no grace whatsoever. The isles of Kul Tiras were objectively worse, all dead trees and gloom, dreary stone and unpleasant sea creatures, more grey than anyone should have to look at for any length of time, but there, at least, he found no push to appreciate anything. All anyone asked from him in Kul Tiras was fire, and he supplied it with deep contentment, even when it cost him hours in the company of healers later. As the Banshee's Wail set off to bring the day's adventurers to Plunder Harbor, Qabian leaned over the starboard bow and breathed in the salty air. It had memories in it. He had never been particularly naval minded, but the ocean held memories of Quel'danas, and horizon lines brought to mind all those hours spent in honest prayer to the Highborne the sea had swallowed, the Highborne who he had found still lived, the Highborne whose queen he had abandoned for reasons he could not remember. The words of the shark loa floated through his mind. Azshara's motives are hidden behind a vast darkness. She reaches into a place from where she cannot return. Hasn't she been in that darkness for millennia? Qabian thought to himself. Aren't the naga the living proof of that darkness? Did Gral think he knew something different? The blood elf wondered if he would ever find out. The loa had departed with an expressed intention to learn more, but made no promise to return. Qabian was still considering the subject when the ship arrived in the port, and Qabian made his way through a town full of mutineering humans where no one complained when one or a dozen of them were found shivved, floating face down in the water.
  4. Qabian

    Time Shattered

    War for peace. War for peace. War for peace. And no one sees the irony. No one. I love it. Hit them while they're bleeding. Yes, we're bleeding, too, and risk everything in making the strike, but... But if we win this now, we can force acceptance and servility for centuries. Really? How has that worked out historically? If you insist. If there's one thing I'm never going to argue with, it's scorched earth. Scorch it all. Especially Lordaeron. The Windrunners have had their claws in human scalps their entire lives. Sylvanas was only too happy to find herself gifted with the power to hold human lives in her hands and have them worship her for it. Nathanos isn't just any corpse. I hope she regrets what she's done. I hope it saddens her to see her people, her human people removed from the home they bought with the blood of their families. That pit was disgusting before they turned it into a literal sewer, and it's disgusting now. Leaving it unusable for generations is all it has ever deserved. I hear the rumors trying to pin Malfurion's escape on Saurfang. Maybe so. That might explain his little failed death wish drama. To return their hero to them is a crime that cannot go unpunished. But was Sylvanas not there? Shouldn't she have seen it done? While everyone else bemoans the lack of honor in murdering hundreds maybe thousands of civilians, I'll be over here wondering why they failed to cut the head off the snake. Keep leaving nothing but ash and blight in your wake, Warchief. I certainly don't care how many innocents on either side you take with you in the name of some sort of necessity or survival. This is the annihilation we've been preaching for more than a decade. This is what we live for.
  5. Qabian

    [WR] Minor Justice

    Brinnea made her way through the tables set too closely together and found a seat in the shadows of the dim tavern, away from the bar but with a clear view of the door. She wasn't a regular, just passing through, but the nameless town on the road based its existence travelers like her, so even the icy glow of her eyes in the darkness didn't particularly draw attention. Brinnea didn't protest when the barmaid set a full mug of something beside her, but also didn't drink it. The death knight wasn't there for the drink or the food, or even the chance to be off her feet, but for the chance to listen quietly to patrons for news of the road, for the opportunity to learn if anyone was actually following her, and hopefully, though she knew it was a gamble, be left alone. A ragged looking night elf plunked out a tune from a decrepit piano in a corner of the room beside a large fireplace with a comfortably roaring fire. The music would probably have been cheerful if the piano's poor tuning didn't seem to drop everything into a minor key. The handful of other patrons watched the musician idly as they spoke quietly amongst themselves or drank in silence. Eventually, a human man burst through the door, causing the music to stop and the scattered patrons to all turn to stare at him. If he was the one Brinnea suspected was following her, he paid her no mind whatsoever. Instead, he charged up to the bar, grabbed the bartender's collar, and yanked him half over the bar, knocking a glass onto the floor with a shatter. Brinnea's hand went to her sword, but before she could judge if the encounter was worth interfering in, the stranger grumbled some angry inaudible words in the bartender's face, then pushed him roughly aside then stalked back out of the tavern. The door slammed shut in his wake. Brinnea looked curiously between the bartender and the patrons, all of whom looked shocked and uncertain. The bartender straightened his apron and handed a broom to the barmaid who had rushed to his side as soon as the other man had left. She obediently began sweeping up the broken glass as the bartender walked among the tables to stand in front of the piano, where he raised a hand and cleared his throat. "If anyone has seen Jonas Branson or knows where he is, the Red Blades are looking for him. If they don't find him by dawn, they're going to start breaking down doors," the bartender announced. Then with slumped shoulders, the he shuffled back to his place behind the bar. A murmur went through the room as people looked to each other with questions on their faces. Brinnea narrowed her eyes, watching them carefully, but nothing else seemed to come from the announcement. As the piano player adjusted his bench, an old man came up from the crowd and put a hand on the night elf's shoulder and spoke to him quietly. The night elf simply nodded. The old man stood in the place the bartender had just left. "Hello everyone," the old man declared. His voice was stronger than the stoop of his body would have suggested. "I know none of you know me, but since we've all just been interrupted anyway, I have something I'd like to say. My name is McCallum. Today should have been my daughter's first birthday." Brinnea blinked. If what he said was true, he couldn't possibly be as old as he looked. "I don't think there's any one of us," McCallum continued, "that hasn't lost a lot to violence and war, even if we tried very hard to live good lives and take care of our families. It's even harder when we know who is responsible and that there is nothing we can do to stop them from ruining more lives and tearing apart other families." He choked on his words, then composed himself. "But I thought maybe, just for one small moment, we might look back and remember fondly those we've lost, in honor of my sweet Joy." He took off his hat and wrung it between his hands, looking down at the floor. A hush went over the people in the bar, all of whom paid the man their attention and their respect. Many of them closed their eyes and lowered their heads prayerfully. He didn't let the moment go too long. He lifted his head and smiled. "Thank you. Thank you, everyone," he said hoarsely, then patted the piano and nodded his thanks to the musician before heading back to his table where he sat alone and the poorly tuned piano took up its mournful melodies as murmured conversations picked up again. Brinnea stared at McCallum as the man slumped over his table, then began silently sobbing into his elbow, the evidence in the tremor of his shoulders. Brinnea signaled to the barmaid and asked her for a cup of tea. When the woman brought the drink, Brinnea stood, taking her cup of tea and the mug that had earlier been brought to her, and carried them over to McCallum's table. She put the mug down and pushed it against his elbow. He looked up at her then, his face red and wet. "Oh. Thank you, my lady." He took the mug from her and began to drink it down hurriedly as if he hadn't had anything to drink in weeks. The death knight didn't respond to his words, and eyed him curiously as he chugged the ale. When he put the mug down empty, she asked, "Another?" He nodded, looking a little sheepish, and Brinnea waved for another mug to be brought. She sipped at her tea in silence as she watched the man drink the second with a little more patience. "You lost your family, too?" McCallum asked in between drafts. She nodded. "Some," she said, but didn't elaborate, and he didn't press her for details. Some of those details could be seen in her eyes. "Who was it?" Brinnea asked. He knew what she meant. "They made it look like bandits, but..." McCallum trailed off. "You don't believe it was?" "No," he said. "It was a blood elf of the Horde. He decided I was his enemy for reasons I may never know." She nodded again. The man was holding back details, as she did, but she could understand a lack of trust in strangers. He sunk back into silence. "You may not find justice while you live," Brinnea offered. She had only meant to give the man the drink she had no intention of drinking, but she took the chance to give him some hope on his day of mourning. She stood to leave even as she spoke words she wasn't entirely sure she believed. "But there will always be someone out there fighting for it even after you're gone." The man put his hand on her arm, feebly grabbing her elbow as she stood. "Like you?" he asked, his wet eyes staring up at her. "No. Not like me," she said. She pulled out of his grip, gently but firmly. She took a few coins from her belt and placed them on the table to pay for the drinks, then made her way out of the tavern. Outside, the evening had darkened into night and it had begun to rain. Whoever had been following her had been thwarted by her entering the tavern, either because they had no wish to enter the enclosed space or because something had finally taken them off the chase. She needed to be certain of the latter. She began to walk through the slick mud of the dirt road, then slipped into an alley, making a circuit of the town's few buildings, watching for signs or sensations she was being still being observed. It was difficult to know how much time had passed before she heard the voices arguing back the way she came. The absence of light and the rain removed any sense of the hours. She pulled her cloak down around her ears and determined to keep her distance, until the scream. At the sound, she let her hood fall back in the rain, drew her sword, and stalked back into the alley. Two men stood over a third, kicking their victim repeatedly through his staccato wails. The man on the ground was smaller and... older? When Brinnea recognized the man they were mercilessly beating as the man from the tavern, she didn't offer a warning. She ran the first attacker through with her blade, then slammed his groaning form into his partner, bringing both of them to the ground. She lifted her sword again to strike the other, but she could see from the way his head had hit the ground that he would not be getting up again. "Who-- Who are you?" McCallum stammered from the ground. There was recognition on his face, but also fear. "Nevermind that," she said. "Why were they attacking you?" "The-The man they were looking for earlier, Jonas Branson, was my brother-in-law. He's why I came here," he explained as Brinnea helped him to his feet. "I've only been here a couple days, but I still haven't found him. I don't know where he is. Wherever he is, he must be in bad trouble." "And now that trouble is your trouble. And mine," Brinnea said, looking down at the bodies. "Are you all right?" "Just a few bruises," McCallum said. "I'll live." He straightened his sleeves as he shuffled against the wall of the alley, trying to get out of the rain. "Only if you leave town," she said matter-of-factly. He nodded, sighing. "Maybe I can come back after whatever is going on gets solved, although it seems like even if I find Jonas, he won't be able to help me." She frowned. "Do you have a horse?" "Yes," he said. "I'll take you that far. Then we both better leave this place far behind us." "Yes," he said again, looking down at his feet for a moment before putting his hand on her arm for a second time. "I think you are wrong, and you are the kind who will fight for justice after I'm gone." "Maybe," she said quietly, letting his steps take the lead, but holding her blade at the ready. "But I doubt the families of those men in the mud behind us will feel the same."
  6. Qabian

    Time Shattered

    She has her claws in too many aspects of my life as it is. Now her brother? At least, he seems unlike her in most ways, but it's just another connection where there are already too many. I should... not have gone there, but I felt like I had no choice. Not that anyone but myself was forcing me, but... After everything, simply... staying away... was not something I could do, not without at least making the attempt. I was lucky it was only Damian around, although perhaps if he hadn't been there I could have been and gone without waking her. What she said about Sylvanas is... her problem, not mine. Or it should be, but anyone whose focus turns to her, after they take out her family, will inevitably find those connections. Given what she spoke about sounded like paranoia, something I'm highly familiar with, I know the path that can unfold from there. There is no way that I am willing to stand between her and Sylvanas' minions if there's any truth to her presumptions. There's also no way I just stand aside and let her die. Or is there? On the one hand, I know what I should do. I should stay away from her entirely. But now her brother. Awatu wants us to pay attention to Genn, but I wonder if Anduin isn't stronger than we're giving him credit for. Yes, he's an idiot child, but I'm not entirely certain he's an idiot child entirely bent to the will of the adults in the room. I think he's too opinionated and has too much power to simply do what everyone else says without asserting his own ideas. Umbral has her tabard, at my insistence, essentially. I went where I needed to go and made my arguments and got my approval, such as it was. It feels like desperation. When she turned over that journal, we should -- and again, doing things I know I should not -- have cut her throat immediately, no hesitation, no compromise. But much of what we do feels like desperation these days. The pendulum never completed its swing. Will it ever? Will we have to force it? Yes, she worked hard. She "earned" the privilege by completing the tasks set for her. Several times over, in truth. But she is so deeply flawed that she is utterly untrustworthy. And it's not because she lies. It's because she won't, so she floats her flaws on the surface where we can all see them, and yet rather than destroy her for them, we are forced to take them in stride. We had to give her the tabard to make sure that hard work of hers doesn't turn against us, not because she is what we need. Now her brother.
  7. Qabian

    ((OOC)) [WR] July - Character Submission

    Sounds like fun. I'll play again. Qabian.
  8. Qabian

    Overcast

    Birgitte blinked her glowing yellow eyes as she looked down at the unconscious woman in the water. It happened on occasion that someone came through a portal in a state of distress, but it wasn't so frequent that she was unsurprised. She waved an arm at the Forsaken men standing around. "What do you think, Father?" Birgitte asked. "We clearly have to get her out of the water," Father Cobb said as he stepped into the shallow pool, soaking his robes. He held out a glowing hand as he tried to staunch the stranger's immediate bleeding. "I don't think I can lift her," Birgitte said, looking around at the others. They each shrugged in turn. "I'm sure we could drag her out of there together, but maybe better run and fetch one of the Tauren." Sokanon was standing just up the slope from the Pools of Vision, near the Festival Fire, dragging a freshly made stretcher behind her. When a walking corpse accosted her, waving his hands frantically and asking for help, through her shock she managed, "Of course, of course, show me where." While her instinct was to provide aid where it was needed, Thunder Bluff was not her city. In fact, she had only left Highmountain for the first time a few weeks ago. She had only headed up onto the Bluff at all because the animal she had been attempting to tame nearby was injured, and she needed a stretcher if she was going to move it to safety before it was attacked by predators. She had seen enough of the Horde between Highmountain and Orgrimmar to know that the Forsaken were a thing, and generally they were helpful, but she hadn't interacted with them personally and she found them disconcerting. The dead were to be spoken with as spirits, not as bodies. It was only as she was led into the darkness of the cave that she hesitated, suddenly wary that perhaps she should have questioned the dead man's honesty, but when she saw the commotion around the pool at the back of the cave, Sokanon nodded, determined to help. None of the Forsaken seemed to want to touch the injured woman, and Sokanon wasn't sure why. Had they seen something that made them hesitate? Was it something about the woman herself? They didn't particularly seem to want to share either when she asked. Sokanon herself wasn't the type to rest on etiquette and with a nod from Father Cobb and the help of a Bluffwatcher, they placed the woman immediately onto her stretcher -- one designed to be dragged alone, but easily carried with help. They moved Ninorra quickly and carefully up to the warmth and air of Spirit Rise, followed by the priests and joined by Tauren healers from around the Rise. When Ninorra was laid still and while she was being tended, Sokanon knelt next to the elf woman and went through her red and black robes, looking for anything that might identify her. Sokanon found only a tube of paint and a handful of small stones, most of which were green and gave off a dull glow that made the Tauren uncomfortable, but one of which was white with a symbol. She frowned as she examined the stones, then as she was about to return them to the woman, the white one made a sound? It was speaking? She acknowledged she'd led a sheltered life, but each new form of magic she encountered was stranger than the last. She paused, staring at the thing, waiting for it to speak again. When it remained silent, she spoke to it in turn. "He-hello?"
  9. Qabian

    [WW-June2018] Symposium

    ((I enjoy curse words and Qabian doesn't deal well with mild disgruntlement. I'm not sure I really understood the prompt, but I decided to wing it anyway.)) "Are coming?" Qabian laughed out loud at the thick accent and broken grammar of the Thalassian words behind him. "You need more practice," he said with a smirk as he turned around. "I am try." The dwarf waggled her eyebrows at him. Qabian rolled his eyes. "No. Not if you were the last living thing on this planet. As amusing as it is that Moira's machinations have managed to get a handful of dwarves into the Kirin Tor, I'd still rather see you all dead." She squinted at him, then switched to Common. "All I got out of that was 'No' and 'Kirin Tor,'" she said. Qabian shrugged, also code switching. "Close enough." "So are ye comin' then?" He sighed. "I assume you're talking about the symposium?" "Aye." "I doubt it. The Kirin Tor has become a useless crowd of pedants without inspiration. Why would I want to listen to them talk?" Qabian asked, glancing upward in exasperation. "Because the subject is azerite," the dwarf said with a grin. Qabian raised a brow, his curiosity piqued and his arrogance bruised that the she-dwarf was correct about something he would find interesting. "Fine. I'll go." "See ya there, then," she said with a cheerful wave as she bounced away. --- Qabian sat at the back of the room, manspreading across three chairs. The panel was decently attended, but given the enthusiasm of the average Kirin Tor member who bothered to show up at academic discussions, they were all clustered around the front to better hear and ask questions. The subject should have been interesting. Whether they talked about the specific nature of azerite itself, or the political ramifications of its use, or even the many quirks around its revelation at all, Qabian had assumed that there was no way they could fuck up the interesting factor. He was wrong. Instead, they were discussing the need for empathy for the world soul without a dissenting voice among them. Empathy? Is that what the Kirin Tor had been reduced to? Weren't there other people whose job it was to discuss empathy? Druids? Shamans? Mages were supposed to get into details and design, maybe an occasional ethical more here and there, but empathy? Qabian cursed internally about getting tricked into attendance and swore to himself if he heard the phrase 'the world is crying out in pain' one more time-- No sooner did he have the thought than one of the panelists mentioned how the world was crying out in pain. Qabian slumped back against his thre chairs and groaned out loud. He groaned loud enough that the entire panel turned their attention to him. The dwarf who had reminded him of the event giggled from her place at the front of the room. The moderator cleared her throat and got the discussion back on track, leaving Qabian muttering to himself at the back of the room like a lunatic. There were more frustrating things about the event than simply managing to be impossibly boring. The panelists were two humans and a dragon, with a card carrying Covenant moderator. That was what the Kirin Tor had been reduced to in Qabian's absence after Jaina's little rampage. There were a few other sets of fel green eyes in the room, but that was all Aethas' wheedling had managed for any of them -- a tiny minority in a sea of enemies and traitors. There was a time in Qabian's recollection when panels were being forced to bring on token humans simply because elves occupied most of the places of expertise within the organization. There were always plenty of humans around, yes, but human experts? No. Khadgar's convenient Guardian-adjacent background had only made the human proliferation in the ranks worse over the past few years. No wonder they'd reduced the symposia to pleas for skipping and hand-holding with the planet. When another panelist mentioned the world crying out in pain again, Qabian swept a handful of papers on the chair next to him to the floor with a flutter and stood up, shouting, "This is bullshit! How could you fuck this up? There are infinite ways to make this interesting and you keep yammering on about the planet's pain?! Who gives a shit about the planet's pain? Shouldn't you be discussing the effects on the ley network, or embedded runic energy, or possible routes of action the factions might take? Or anything of some sun forsaken actual consequence? For fuck's sake! The planet's pain? Really? What kind of sorry excuses for mages are you?" He reached back and threw one of his chairs to the floor, then stormed from the room, slamming the door behind him. Qabian leaned up against the wall in the hallway, running his hands through his hair. He could hear the muted discussion continuing as though there hadn't been any outburst at all. A few moments later, the dwarf from earlier emerged quietly from the conference room and approached him. Qabian glared at her. "Do not start with me," he said. She shrugged. "Just wanted te say I'm sorry. I was a li'l surprised at the direction as well." "Don't you dare fucking apologize to me. Fucking dwarves," he muttered and stalked off down the hall. She shifted the book she was holding from one arm to the other as she watched him leave, then shrugged and returned to the room.
  10. Qabian

    Time Shattered

    Malygos is gone. Neltharion is gone. Ysera is gone. Nozdormu has never been particularly solid in this time or any other. That leaves Alexstrasza as the only aspect. They talk about replacing them, but is there any precedent for that? Was Malygos the third, fourth, fifth Aspect of Magic? Perhaps they simply renamed them to Malygos each time? Or perhaps they were never worth anything to begin with. They are and have always been mortal. They are and have always been pathetic, only moreso than we are because they pretended to have power they did not. The same could easily be said of the Titans. All we have is who we are. There are no gods. There is no immortality. Fanyare didn't need to see that from me. No one does. But the more time passes without that swing of the pendulum, the more doubt creeps in and the more insidious it becomes, and the more comfortable I am in someone's presence, the more likely I am to simply let things slip. I am... sufficient, but the Grim needs more than sufficient. The Grim needs inspiration. The Grim needs to be shaped. I cannot do either of those things. I know myself, and I know my strengths, and they are not here. Being merely sufficient is suffocating, but unless we find ourselves a shaper, sufficiency is all we can hope for. Umbral is correct. She has been nothing but obedient. She will follow the Mandate until it kills her. Her problem is that she is not capable of respect, on many levels, but is that really something we demand? She is not an intellectual. She works on instinct, and it has carried her far with us. She follows orders, mostly, depending how drunk she is. Unfortunately, you cannot order her to stop being an idiot, just as you cannot order someone to simply stop their thoughts. I cannot even convince her to equivocate when it's in her best interests. The reason Grainger was surprised at my humility was because I knew how to lie to get what I wanted. Why does something that seems so simple and so obvious escape so many? Just lie. You don't have to lie all the time and try to keep track of multiple stories. Just lie when it's important. You won't forget you've done it. I remember a Grim where puppetry and boot licking were frowned upon. Tradire remembers that, too, it seems. But my memories are unpleasant to say the least, making me consider perhaps a structured, orderly Grim would be more useful. Unlike Umbral's accusation, I am not an anarchist. I have no interest in dismantling systems. I simply want to abuse them to my own ends. That's not anarchy. That's narcissism, maybe psychopathy. The more order there is, the easier it is to game. In that case, however, someone else would have to take my place, and unless Awatu does it himself, I'm not sure we have anyone willing to insist on order. Perhaps I can simply force myself to place more importance on structure than I naturally do. Syreena and I have a lot in common, but where we differ will prevent us from ever trusting each other. Where I want to draw out the truth in someone, to find out that their heart lies with the Mandate or to convince them through their own incentives and desires that it should, that for them to live their best lives it must, she instead wants to force it on them. She wants to strap them down and shove the Mandate down their throats until they choke on it, and when their pale, breathless body is resurrected they'll have no choice but to do as they're told. In that, apparently, Awatu agrees with her. I don't care. Not really. But it's not my way of doing things. I want to poison them with words, not crack their skulls. If skull cracking is what they want, maybe they should be on the lookout for a skull cracker. She also thinks we shouldn't leave each other behind. She puts weight on loyalty that I don't and never will, and I believe she means it honestly. I don't think we should leave each other behind, because a toolbox without tools is empty and useless, and the illusion of loyalty is efficient for convincing people they need something they may not actually need. But she veers dangerously into family territory. She wants something from us that does not exist, but it's the closest she's capable of finding anywhere in this world, so perhaps that is enough for her. Tradire has her shield and demands nothing else. That is for the best, at least where I'm concerned. But she needs more than a simple shield. She needs someone who responds to her and drives her to self-improvement. I'm not capable of those things, and she knows that now, or she should, but I suppose she's finding value in the shield alone. It was good to finally meet Fanyare, to have her become something more than an occasionally quipping presence at an occasional meeting and the one who dragged Tradire up out of her grave. She is, though, it seems, similarly bad at equivocating. Or perhaps simply doesn't care what others think of her. She's no supplicant. She has no one she needs to convince of anything. She can be brazen with her arrogance the way I am with my falsehood. The temptation to call the other back is high, but the longer I put it off, the stronger I feel. The temptation is there to call her, to show her things no one else will ever see, and then cut her throat. That would be endlessly satisfying in that single moment, but then that moment could never be retrieved. Drawing it out is better. I think. What we have is nothing if not drawn out, and I am nothing if not self-indulgent, right? Of course, the temptation to look up at the sun from the bottom of the Elrendar is there, too. "Learn to live with it," he says, as if I haven't already done that. There are rather a lot of things that should be preventing me from "living with it", yet here I am, and confident enough in my capacity to do so to take the place of any Grim in duress, yes. I wonder if that means anything to her at all. I wonder if that makes her feel better about her decisions. I wonder if she's even capable of regret. I don't think she is, and that's probably why I like her.
  11. Qabian

    Time Shattered

    Mmhmhmhm... Ahahahahahaha! I win. Oh, how I win. Nothing I can take back to the Grim, of course, but mine is a dangerous ego to stroke, hm? Taunt me with something you think I can't do that I know I can. 'Oh, no,' I'll admit. 'I could never do that. I'm simply no good at it. It's just not me.' A little vulnerability, not even mock vulnerability, very real, but a wager in a bet I cannot lose, a little honesty, and just enough arrogance that who I am is never forgotten so I cannot be blamed for any deception. And fuck you. I win. Truth and lies, truth and lies. That's what chaos is made of, yes? And what am I if not chaos? Is it true? Of course it is. Was it lies? Of course it was. Reality is never either or. It's always both. Little human with broken eyes he needs to hide thinks he's being generous, offering me a chance to put him in his place. You don't need to make the offer, boy. You're already there. Why would you admit that secret of all secrets in front of me? And I'm sure my secret only made you feel worse, hm? You're not special. You're not even different. You're just a broken, defiled version of the real people all around you. Enjoy your misery. I certainly enjoyed giving it to you. What an odd defect in me to harp on when it was caused by someone you claim as a friend. When what I have done with what I have lost is something greater than I could have done had I kept what I had, am I really even defective? Or have I improved? That's what we're all here for, to get better. I've gotten better. Have you? When you will never feel equal to the people around you because you never can be their equal? You can steal their faces, their friendship, their power as much as you want, but you will always be a pretender, and you will always have to hide your shame, because the day you accept yourself and live as you are is the day you'll die for it. I have no shame. I wonder how long I can play the lost bet excuse. We certainly gamble, but even though my win rate is expectedly even with my losses, what I ask for is always for my own greed. What she asks for is always my debasement, not enough to spark my anger or make me second guess, but enough to keep her laughing. I should have caught on to this sooner, especially after her little gift to Syreena. I think I did? And decided the price was worth it, and even a little entertaining for myself. The masochistic tendencies extending beyond physical pain, perhaps. I like it when she laughs, even if it's at my expense, and it's almost always at my expense. Explains too much. I shouldn't think about it too hard. The wolf's advice is good. I'm always uncertain about plans that require biding, infiltration, masks of sweetness. I can do them to a point. I have my networks and systems that I use to pull on threads hoping they'll bring down the tapestries. But such things are distasteful when chaos will suffice. Yes, I understand the idea behind a little order serving to bring a lot of chaos, but such games are difficult to play and rarely end well. When they do end well, they end very, very well, but the risk tends to be on our side, not on theirs. Still, leading them patiently to their own failure is clearly our best option in the present, regardless of whether the pendulum swings in the way they seem so certain it will. The violet commander's marital issues have caused a strange sea change. I, for one, don't think that little shift is enough to warrant the sudden acceptance of things as they are. They aren't different enough. I've only met the little warboss once? But I certainly have no faith that she's any sweeter. I blame the turning of the winds with the defeat of the Legion. Everything looks just slightly different, even when it isn't really. Old hurts have been fogged over just enough by time to be put aside long enough for coffee and brunch. And I'm able to hear things I should never hear, share things that should never have been mine to share. I can sit quietly and let them berate me as much as they wish, speaking only when spoken to, offering only the gentlest of contributions, and still come across as cruel and strange. It's quite enjoyable, really. I've had far too much enjoyment lately. It's going to my head. But given what led me to be so entertained in the first place, I'll take it.
  12. Qabian

    Time Shattered

    The wolf is right. Being Grim requires caring intensely. I didn't like that description initially, but there is core truth to it. It doesn't require caring intensely about others, but it does require a fanatical dedication to the goal. I'm not sure the girl has that. All she has is the sense of a debt owed. Paying debts is not all there is, and it's certainly not enough to make one Grim. Is there a test that can force her to care? And her sense of Peace... I see the pattern, though I'm loath to admit it to others. If I'm choosing alcohol, it's because my own failure has been too fierce to set aside. That's what I'm not going to spill. I'm not going to admit something is my fault without considerable duress. I've failed again if she doesn't have the sense to keep that version of Peace to herself. Let's hope she shares that definition of peace with Awatu. He'll be impressed, I'm sure. Accept the Peace that those among us who believe in it desire. Accept it for what it is. And while they travel the endless road to their dream, enjoy the annihilation along the way. But you still need to accept and praise appropriately the Peace in public, or the entire structure falls apart. It's better that Syreena doesn't trust me. I was uncomfortable enough that she trusted me with what she gave me. If there's anyone who should know better, she should. And yet? All evidence seemed to point to the contrary. It's odd then, that while I got what I wanted, something seems off about the entire debacle. Does she even acknowledge what else I could have done with the power I had? Does she even care that it was less an outright lie and more a bending of the truth? She was absolutely responsible for the death of a Grim. It was just a brief death of a priest with priestly connections who never would have let her soul drift away for something as pathetic as an overly enthusiastic beatdown. There was just enough truth in my lie that I could have played it for a very long time. I could likely have played it long enough to end her if that had ever been my goal, but it was not. My goal was confession. I got my confession. That game is over. I respect her incentives, despite how misguided they were, but she thought they were worth following for the same reasons that she is willing to take on puppets where I am not. She had a right to be angry at my lies, whether they were based in truth or not, but it's not like she never lied to me. We lie to each other, all day every day. It keeps us going. The truth is inherently boring when not being manipulated to interesting ends. But her anger should have been tempered by how little I asked of her, how little I toyed with her. Was it? Would she have done worse if I hadn't kept the truth in the fiction to myself? I could have killed her with that weapon. That was never my intent, and she should see that. She should know that now, that her death, her punishment is not something I will ever aim for, because if I wanted it, I could have had it with ease. She should understand that now. But something tells me she doesn't. All she holds against me now is my falsehoods, not my reasons for telling them. Why do I even care? I don't. It's better when none of them trust me. They'll treat me as they should when I'm untrustworthy. I don't like the expectations that come with trust. Tradire has... no idea what she's doing. I still don't believe I can give her what she wants. As much as she lies about what that is, I think she believes her own lies. But I do think she wants more than a shield. She wants conversation and there she takes advantage of the words that are my weakness. She wants knowledge, and though I do believe her when she says that desire is limited, I don't think it's quite as muted as she would insist. I also think she wants knowledge I cannot give her, or that my version of it is twisted and broken, and to share it with her would only cause harm. What she wants she should really be getting from someone else, someone... softer in the ways she is, someone sheltered enough to still believe in possibilities that have long since been erased from me. I've at least made it clear what lines I will not cross. And I haven't decided what I will or will not admit to in honor of her game, which makes most conversations where she becomes the subject incredibly awkward, but at least said game seems to be succeeding where it concerns my accepting my role.
  13. Qabian

    Time Shattered

    Tradire... She's going to regret this. I'm going to regret this. The reasons I had to shut her down are... numerous. And yet, it's a dance that requires two. We’ll see. I don't think she'll get what she wants and yet Malkaris already gave in. Maybe she's smarter than I give her credit for. But the entire conversation would go more smoothly if she weren't a coward. And it already feels like revenge, despite the looming specter of repeating history. Syreena will hate it. Good. I'll need to get the heart back. It was cute for a show, but I'm already wondering if an alcohol soaked necromancer has ruined everything. Is that yet another decision I need to regret? Will the tower fix anything? She'll meet the others next week at least. That should stave off the worst. On the one hand, good to break that illusion early. On the other, its loss could do harm that cannot be repaired. Good to know now rather than much later, I suppose. Syreena can take care of the new one and start requiring every Supplicant trade an ear for their tabard. I truly don't care. I'll fight their battles for them when their tests are over. I have an offer for her. I doubt she'll take me up on it, especially now. We'll see if I even get the chance to make it. I’ll at least have rather a lot to discuss at my next confessional.
  14. Qabian

    Time Shattered

    I wasn't certain, not at all. It was entirely my paranoia, and I know it. I was paranoid as soon as I heard that Vyalis took my advice to heart a little stronger than I might have hoped. So to send out a warning only to have that warning become useful? How could I not make the leap? But if she were innocent, her initial reaction should have been outrage, rather than suspicion. Even then, though her initial reaction was convincing, it was not enough to make me certain. What made me certain was her saying she didn't know where the money went. If she were innocent, she would have signed that paper herself. If she were innocent, she would have taken the gold in coin rather than paper. Now I can accuse her of anything, provided it's not something she can easily disprove herself, and even without proof of my own, I have the upper hand. The only question remaining is how long to play the new game. And when I do put an end to it, I think my message will be quite clear. Don't fuck with me. I imagine she thinks she could turn me in for my financial games, but those are both false and warranted in ways her intentions to hurt me are not. Amusing that she didn't understand how our relationship worked, given the nature of the correspondence she stole from me. I'm sure his name was mentioned several times. I could easily have brought him to the Grim instead, if he weren't so obsessed with Suramar and its well-being as a nation-state. She's one of the ones who always thought I was better because I am not like the rest of them. Really? Do you not remember why I left? How I left? How long have you held onto that mythology? Maybe they will finally lose the lie. I doubt it, though. You act cold enough long enough, and people will forget what they already know about you. The only way I am different than the rest of my people is that I am superior. I am just as arrogant, but I am more arrogant and my arrogance is of higher quality. I am just as deviant, only more so, and again, higher quality. I don't feel the need to shout it in the streets the way the less self-assured do. I don't feel the need to appraise everyone who walks past as Malkaris does. But on my own time, behind closed doors, with a touch of common sense? I am exactly what they are. The only difference between them and me is I am not cheap. So if being "elfy" as she would say is a crime, and I am not different, only greater, then I should get the harshest sentence, hm? She would say Kiannis was different, but catch him when he thinks no one's looking and he's behind the shrubbery in Dalaran with his hand up someone's dress, too. We are none of us different. We are all of us exactly the same. I am merely better at it.
  15. Qabian

    Time Shattered

    Seems if she's going to do anything about anything, it will be slow. I've spent too many hours worrying about something that isn't a problem. If anything, it's the opposite. I've remembered something in these newest lost hours. I fell back into my hatred of others easily. Its warm and inviting nature called to me the moment I stepped away from the Bronze. What I did not immediately regain was the hatred of others towards me. Stormwind had it, of course, but even then, not in its old intensity. It is just as warm and inviting to have the hatred of others focused on me as it is to have my own hatred focused outwards. Perhaps I should make that my focus. I don't like puppetry, it's true. But I don't need to puppet someone to convince them I'm worthy of hatred. Even if they have no loved ones I can murder, there are other ways to make people hate. And I am at my best when everyone hates me. If she does take any steps, she'll make this happen for me. It will be... good. Eva won't fall for it. She's too much like me. She'll take it in stride and find pride in new scars. But anyone else? Anyone else can burn, and I'll pull a comfortable chair up to the fire.
  16. Qabian

    Time Shattered

    I don't regret any of this. Yet. Maybe some particular words used, but overall, no. I doubt I'll be lucky enough for Vyalis to simply grow a pair without revealing who handed them to him. And given what he's been through, if he follows my advice, he's not going to be cooperative, is he? Of course not. That would be too easy. I don't suppose she'll have the good sense to talk to me first. In her place, I doubt I would, but we've been trading favors for a long time now. Not talking to me is what made all of this a problem instead of merely incidental, but somehow I don't think she has the wisdom to see that. So I expect she'll do her best to make me regret, but while I've given her the tools to do so, I'm not sure she has the intellectual capacity to use them to effect. Will she get angry or bored if revenge gets no reaction? I have a rationale for all my choices, several actually -- being uninformed, the ineffective motivation she was using, narcissism. All in her best interests as well as mine. But I doubt she'd understand them even if she did let me explain. So if she's going to react without mercy, I'll expect none, but I know how to keep peace. She can have her pound of flesh. Not literally this time, at least not mine, but whatever she decides to do. Everything will be fine. Once the storm passes. I hope. Maybe I should call for that protection that was offered. Ha!
  17. Qabian

    Time Shattered

    Home is a strange thing. People put so much stock by a handful of dirt. I mean Silvermoon is mine, and if it were to vanish tomorrow, I would lose perhaps half my reason to fight, but certainly not all of it. I can likely thank my worthless family for that attitude, hm? Removed from home as soon as it was plausible to be removed, why would I give it any value? The fact that I had one for a time has only made it even less desirable, nevermind the butler. I hope he is dead. I hope his child is dead, too. I hope all their children fall off cliffs and rot on the rocks. I hope their pathetic family disintegrates and their ashes scatter to the void. I don't know how they got Syreena to play their disgusting games, but it's painful to watch, especially when they make idiotic suggestions like putting the worthless parts of her back together. Let her be. She's sharp the way she is. That puff of cowardice would only dull her entirely. It's not fair that people like that can taint the good, but I suppose there's always something out there taking what's valuable and twisting it to worthlessness. Hilarious again to see that I am everything they wish they were and can never be. I know peace. I know how to make peace. I know how it's done. I could teach them lessons. It's done so: You stand before your enemy, you lay down your weapons, and you open your arms. If they kill you, there is peace. If they don't, you ask them what they need, and you provide it for them. And there is peace. I'm not an idiot. I know war serves no peace. I know precisely how peace is accomplished. I simply have no interest in it whatsoever. Oh, I'll fight for peace certainly. I'll fight to force the enemy to be the one to lay down their weapons and open their arms. And when they do? I'll cut them down, and there. We'll have our peace, the only way we have ever professed to take it. And I'll still surprise the bartender when I know how to get what I want when I want it. And the hypocrites? They cry on each other's shoulders as, one by one, each of them turns bad, each of them starts fights, each of them sacrifices peace for petty revenge or misguided notions of whose home belongs to whom. I have your peace right here. And he'll surprise me when he's good at his job. Not the serving drinks part, but the other part, the letting your patrons talk out their own problems, or asking them the simple, obvious questions they hadn't yet thought to ask themselves. They're all so frustrating because they don't hide the way Lilly and I know how to hide. Vyalis hid quite well. I think that's why I liked him. Then when I force them to dredge up what they're trying to bury so that we can force them to kill it, even the ones who don't wave their issues like banners have to confront them. And Vyalis loses the advantage he had, as his issues cause his courage to deteriorate. I have my baggage, but I don't wear it on my sleeve. I don't announce it to people in bars. I don't rant about the importance of family or the loss of mentors. I have a confessor for that now. I'll go to my confessional where I'll receive my freedom in exchange for truths until the burden becomes too heavy and sends me back. But the facts remain. Those issues I refuse to confront are what lost me my arm, not any warlock, nor her child. I'll still refuse to confront them. And maybe they'll lose me the rest of my body in the end, but I've accepted that. I am highly skilled at putting aside my past for the sake of my future. I have always been good at that, as he intuited. My past simply stood in the way of one small child's death. How could I have known his discolored eyes would hold all my ghosts? But it hasn't stood in the way of anything else, and no other child will have that measure of luck when I'm turning the next orphanage to ash, and the next, and the next. I have their peace right here. Apparently, I'm also neither pretty, not prissy, nor vain. Hahaha! She's so astute, but how many would disagree with her? And Tradire doesn't even count. Her master would choose the overly prideful for his artistry, yet pride is a Thalassian birthright, yet he himself was Thalassian? There's a contradiction for certain. I don't want to tell her who's a fleshcrafter and who isn't. And I don't want to give her back that heart. She has two choices if she finds her master, and I don't entirely trust that she'll be capable of either yet.
  18. Qabian

    Time Shattered

    Someone should have died last night. And I don't just mean Anduin Babyface Wrynn and the spanking he got from three measly Grim. To be honest, Tradire could have taken care of him herself, most likely. Naughty child shouldn't have let his father die. The Alliance have degenerated so much. I wonder if Moira shows as poorly these days. Perhaps I should pay her a visit. She was never that impressive back when she was in Blackrock. Poor little purple princess. She's so sad and cranky that she'd fall for the snipes of a lizard, accurate shots at her other half, a lizard who won't even respond at all when the pushback comes from the Tauren across the room. Usually people like that, people who insist on playing for a team, they'll back off once they realize that causing me pain would only give me a good time. Wouldn't want that other team to rub off on you now, would you? He was apparently willing to take the risk. Well, I may not give a shit about teams, and perhaps I don't even have a type according to him, but I definitely don't play those games with vermin, wildlife, animals. I know magic, and I know whatever he is trying to be, he isn't right. And we can all make our dubious educated guesses, can't we? I've taken enough of them apart, scale by scale, sinew by sinew, vertebra by vertebra, soul by soul, to know for a fact. Dragons aren't people. But he doesn't even get that far. He's something less, something worse. He is a dog, after all. I'd have more respect for Aaren if she'd been bent over by an actual dog than that thing. It seems the standards she has for her collection are standards that idiots must fall below rather than rise above. Anyone with too much intellect has to be kept at a distance. More power to her, abusing the stupid to get what she wants. Not a technique I'd ever use, but whatever works? Always hilarious to see cowardice looked down upon. If cowardice keeps me from falling like the purple princess to a puppy with small words and some ash in his drool, seems cowardice is preferable in every way, isn't it? Syreena should be careful about listing my collection. One time-lost connection never technically severed that allows me to insist I am not single probably wouldn't even make such a list. But she would. Along with Ninorra and Fayleah, probably Tradire as well at this point, and I don't even want to know what she was saying to Gavril, maybe even the unfortunate new kid. And Eva, of course, the only one who actually belongs there. Nevermind the other two whose names no one knows. The better comeback to her saying she hasn't been seen leaving my personal quarters would have been she's seen leaving my office where she's alone with me all the time, occasionally with bags of money, but maybe I wasn't entirely comfortable saying that. Or I didn't think of it until it was too late. Either way. Maybe I don't care about teams, but one team seems to care about me, hm? Team or no team, what Eva's learning with the shadow is horrible. Something new. Something I haven't trained with. Something delightful. She never had trouble keeping pace with me, but now that she's learning to heal, I'm the one who's falling behind. Perhaps there are regrets to be had after all, but she seems to enjoy the results. Vyalis shouldn't have given up his ear. He shouldn't have given up at all. Ninorra's not that fearsome. I'll have to talk to him. He's setting a bad precedent for the necromancer's child. Amusingly, Syreena didn't seem to realize just how much I knew. I wonder if she was trying to keep her plans secret from me and Vyalis bungled that, too. He still should have kept his ear. Pieces are to be given in pride, not disgrace. Like that oaf of a squidgoat and my eye back in the day. There's something not right about Shalassian. I've gotten so used to understanding people trying to speak against me in a tongue they think I don't know. Amusing how Pandaren have never even made the attempt. Eva's shared a few words, but they have rather specific applications, none of which applied last night. Shame. I wonder what they were doing there, but I wasn't in much of a place to make inquiries. I doubt I ever will be. The Nightborne crowd I've fallen in with are not the Nightfallen, but they do suit my purposes oh so well.
  19. Qabian

    Time Shattered

    This is fine. It’s fine. It will be fine. Once I’m no longer blindsided nor hungover, it will be fine. I was prepared to deal with Silvermoon’s tizzy over nothing. I had all my excuses and counter-stories ready for those accusations. I wasn’t at all prepared for Syreena’s little revelation. It was just a stupid game. I was supposed to be taunting her for accessing my correspondence, nothing more. I asked for letters written in code, but I wanted them to be inane, perfectly pointless, so that if Syreena actually went to the trouble of breaking them, she’d get nothing but grocery lists and meeting minutes for her efforts. And there it was, the whole of it. Don’t read my mail was all it was supposed to say. I suppose I should be taking this as a win, considering it convinced Syreena to essentially confess to reading my mail. However, that’s rather lost under what kind of mail it proves Syreena’s reading. I got my letters in code. And they were ordinary, in the sense that they were the same kinds of letters that she had been writing before. But those kinds of letters were... Personal? Incriminating? Certainly not inane, not to me at any rate. I decided I didn’t care that much because it was so unlikely Syreena would ever find the cipher anyway. I could keep the game going indefinitely, and I might as well keep it going forever, as punishment for getting into my mail. Fine. Read my letters. And end up with an unsolvable puzzle. Enjoy breaking your brain against that one for a few years. Well, game’s over. The jig is up. Check please. Why would she do that? All it does is ruin what Syreena thinks of me. I don’t care what most people think of me. Rumors have been an integral part of my existence for as long as I can remember. That doesn’t mean I need to pay any attention to them. But could you leave well enough alone the one person that I managed to convince I wasn’t worthless? Of course she couldn’t. She can’t know why it would matter to me. None of this matters to anyone else. I’m sure none of it even matters to Syreena. It only matters to me. I think I know why she did it. She thinks she’s better than I am. Of course she does, or I wouldn’t like her. So she’s showing me how much better she is. If that’s all it is, then this will be fine. It will pass. It will blow over. For now, the game isn’t mine anymore. It’s Syreena’s until she gets bored of it. Let’s hope that’s sooner than later. I’m not sure what I told the bartender, or what he gave me to drink before he sent me home with... Was that cider? I think it was rocket fuel. Rocket fuel and champagne? What the fel? I wonder if everything would be better if I had managed to kill the kid. That was... a far greater ordeal than this petty game of letters and innuendo. And it was a wake-up call that I never wanted. I got what I wanted. I succeeded in what I’d been threatening all along. And it hurt? Why did it hurt? No, I know why it hurt. And so I let her hurt me in turn. Saved my life, the kid did. Probably. I don’t think she would have killed me, but she might have kept me in a jar for a thousand years. He’s a good kid, smart, good reflexes, strong sense of power. I can hope he’ll grow up to have more sense than his mother, but with me stepping out that seems like a long shot. Still, I’m glad to drop the teaching. I dropped the others, as well. I’m no instructor. All but one. I’ll keep her. Ninorra said no one saw her. What a liar. I told her I didn’t care. Evidently I’m a liar, too, despite my great pronouncements to tell nothing but truths. I know she’ll tell Vicailde everything I said, and everything she said, so there won’t be any real need for him to come after me. But that’s not exactly going to stop the entire city and apparently the entire Horde from saying something that’s patently not true and makes him look like a fool. If I were in his shoes, I’d want to kick my ass anyway, just for the rumors, whether I believed my wife or not. And Syreena was already angry with her, so now she gets to be angry with me as well, because of course someone like Ninorra can’t walk through Silvermoon’s streets without being noticed. I should have told her to wear a sack and cover her face or something. I didn’t think it would be so damned necessary. I don’t know what Vyalis thinks he’s going to do. I made my suggestion. I think it’s a good one. We’ll see. We’ll see with all of it. I don’t want to see. Can I just... lock the door and come out when everyone’s forgotten everything? It’s not like I’m innocent of anything, but that doesn’t mean I want to deal with this garbage fire.
  20. Qabian

    Time Shattered

    I'm an idiot.
  21. Qabian

    Spelling Trouble

    Qabian woke in a cold sweat, sitting straight up with a gasp of fear before he realized where he was. When he took in the familiar surroundings he breathed a sigh of relief and laid back down. A Nightborne woman approached the bed carrying a bowl of steaming water. He reached toward her with both hands almost on instinct, then flinched, grunting as pain ripped through his right shoulder. "Fuck the sun. That all actually happened, didn't it?" She nodded. "And as much as I'd like to hear exactly what 'that all' was, you have some decisions to make." She set the water on a small table beside the bed, then pulled a cloth from it. The warm fabric felt impossibly soft against his forehead as she washed his face. He groaned, laying his hand on hers. "I want a bath." "You're not getting in any of my baths until I know that's not going to come undone and fill them with blood," she said, nodding towards his bandaged stump of a shoulder. "I know I told you I was going to study healing, but you can't possibly expect me to create you a new arm." "No, I can't." He stared at her, coming to greater realization of just what he had lost. He could have fought back harder. He could have even escaped entirely, at least temporarily. He knew why he didn't. He knew why he let Ninorra do what she did. He even knew why he would have let her do more. But he didn't want to dwell on it. He forced himself out of his thoughts. "Reinna..." The woman blinked at him. "You want Reinna to make you an arm?" She seemed shocked. "Belore, no. But I assume you know who she steals from." "Ah. I do. And you'd like to commission them?" "Yes." "Do you prefer blackmail or negotiation?" Qabian laughed. "Whichever gets it done faster." "Blackmail then." She grinned at him. He smirked. "You're priceless." "Do you love me?" she asked, leaning over him to kiss his forehead. "Absolutely not." "Good." She mirrored his smirk. "You taste like dirt."
  22. Qabian

    Spelling Trouble

    Qabian sat on the bed in his new Silvermoon apartment, leaning back on a high stack of pillows and reading, surrounded by scrolls, loose papers, and books, a black panther cub slept heavily over one leg, cutting off circulation to that foot. When he wasn't indulging in Suramar's "culture" or out with the Grim doing Grim work, Qabian spent time learning what he had missed. There was a lot of it between Pandaria, Garrosh, Khadgar's lunacy, as well as the interguild politics and drama that was not well documented. Since he found himself back in Quel'thalas after the debacle in Stormwind, Qabian decided to direct his focus on the minutiae in Silvermoon politics. It seemed that short of the Sunreaver debacle and Garrosh's general chaos, there had not been too much upheaval. Lor'themar and Rommath were still who they had always been. With Sylvanas as Warchief, Silvermoon seemed almost comfortable with their relationship to the Horde, so Qabian found himself delving into the smaller details of politics and scandals. He read one report of a child attending council meetings and shifted his position, causing the panther cub to mrr in its sleep. Stranger things happened in Silvermoon politics everyday, but with elven lifespans, it hardly seemed necessary. That's what interregnum was for, after all. He read further. The child, with his strange red eyes... Qabian frowned. "Oh no," he murmured. ...acted as the heir to the Bloodstone estate, sitting with the Council in preparation for his future role in the management of... "This must be some kind of joke," he said to himself. He pressed his fingers to the bridge of his nose. Qabian finished reading and tossed the offensive page to one side where it floated to the floor. The panther cub lifted its head, blinking up at him sleepily. "People are idiots. You know that, cat? Complete and utter morons. All of them," Qabian informed the creature. The mage tilted his head thoughtfully, staring at the cub, or more accurately, through the cub. "I think it's time to look up an old acquaintance." Qabian grinned wickedly as he gathered his papers and books together, ungently kicking the cub to one side. Qabian stumbled as he stood, his foot having fallen asleep. Loud Thalassian curses caused the cub to scramble under the bed.
  23. Qabian

    Spelling Trouble

    Qabian stumbled from deeper in the Underbelly toward the ramp by the portal to Dreadscar Rift. His fancy robes were covered in a thick layer of pale dust that left footprints in his wake. His face was smudged and dirty and his hair a mess. His expression was a combination of distraught and confused. Wherever he was going, he was going slowly. Stepping out of the portal to the Dreadscar Rift was Ninorra, dressed, as always, in immaculate robes tightly tailored to fit her curves in ways that were more than likely inappropriate for battle. Today they were a dark purple color that matched her scythe, likely pilfered from some poor Nightborne during the city's siege. Her hood was tilted just enough to hide her red eyes from view, but they were not shaded enough to miss Qabian's slow progress from her path. "Qabian?" She said gently, lowering her hood. "What in the world happened to you?" Qabian's eyes went wide. He opened his mouth as though to say something, then closed it again. He glanced back over his shoulder, looking for help, but it seemed unlikely any was coming. Of all the people to run into, it had to be her. She had a good reason to be there. He could have taken any other exit, any other way out, but he'd walked that way. Why had he walked that way? "Nothing," he muttered, and tried to move past her. Ninorra's eyebrows raised with curiosity. Qabian wasn't the type to simply push past her without some sort of quip or insult, especially not when he looked like complete shit. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a healthstone. "You're limping. Do you want one of these? It will help. I promise not to poison it," she added with a smile. "No." He stared at her for a pause, then shook his head, looking deliberately away from her, first over her shoulder, then at the floor between them. "I'm fine. Don't... I-I need to go." "Qabian," Ninorra said more firmly, reaching for the mage's robes with a delicate hand that sported long nails painted a dark amethyst. "I know I am not the sort of person you would--, actually, I do not think you would confide in anyone, but I must admit that the sight of you distressed has me concerned." Qabian scowled, taking a step back as she reached for him. "I'm not in distress. You are. You just don't know it yet," he said, obnoxiously cryptic yet without the slightest hint of a smirk. Something was definitely off. The warlock blinked once, her expression shifting away from her concern for him to something far more unpleasant. "..and why is that?" "Why do you think?" he snapped, meeting her shift in expression with his own move from avoidance and irritation to anger. He already regretted saying anything at all. "Get out of my way." Ninorra cocked her head to one side, the usual mirth in her face replaced by a strangely unsympathetic flat look. With a gesture, she called forth one of her minions; a doomguard, which stood at least several feet taller than Qabian. He appeared a few feet in front of the mage, blocking his exit. "Explain," Ninorra said once, her eyes just a little brighter than before. Qabian turned away from her. He pulled his hands up at his sides, both of them on fire, and stared down the doomguard for a drawn out moment. Then the fire in his hands sputtered out and Qabian appeared to just give up. He had other choices, but what was the point in any of them anymore. This was going to happen eventually anyway. He might have lived through it if he'd made it to the top of the ramp, but he was having trouble giving a damn. He leaned against the stone Underbelly wall and turned a slow, expressionless stare on Ninorra. In a voice tinged with something like disappointment, he asked, "Where's your son right now?" Ninorra's lips parted as she poised to answer. It was an easy question, certainly. He should have been in school, with the Kirin Tor. He should have been somewhere safe. He should have been where she could find him, or reach him. Why hadn't she? She felt something awkward, as if she'd swallowed a stone, and put a hand over her stomach. "..he should be with the Kirin Tor. Studying. He should be somewhere safe, learning. Why would he not be?" Qabian shook his head, looking away from her again. "And who's his teacher? And you agreed to it. You're so concerned about me looking like this. What do you think--" He glared at her, but the anger in his eyes flashed then faded and he turned his stare back to the ground. "I'm sorry," he said quietly. He could have been lying. He was certainly the type to lie, to do things specifically to hurt people. She expected, any minute, for him to start laughing at her. How quaint, to see the utter despair on your face, she pictured him saying. That same sneer, that same cocky grin. Why wasn't he smiling? Why wasn't he laughing at her? "..Qabian.." she said hoarsely. "What.. what have you done?" "I didn't do anything!" he stammered defensively, grimacing at the doomguard blocking his exit. "I didn't do anything." He choked on his words. "I'm sorry. I couldn't-- I didn't do enough. I didn't mean for-- I don't know... what else..." Emotions spun through him and across his face in rapid succession: confusion, frustration, annoyance, despair. In all of it, not a grin or smirk to be found. He pushed back up off the wall as he settled on cold anger. "I didn't do anything," he said, his tone quiet, serious, and unfriendly as he finally levelled his gaze on her. "This kind of thing just happens around me. Might as well let me go. There's nothing left." "Let you.. let you go?" She said, horrified. Ninorra's eyes flared again, but they dimmed as she spoke. A frightened as she might have been, there still was a strange sense of empathy for the elf who may have just doomed her own son. "Qabian what are you talking about? What happened?? Where is Damian?" "There's nothing left," he repeated. "There are reasons I don't--" He hesitated. The temptation to explain was always there, to circle around with insinuations and implications, to say nothing directly, but if he let himself follow those thoughts, they would take him apart alongside her. Best to stay cold. Best to stay at the bottom of the Elrendar, in the dark, with the weight of failure pressing down. He was already there. He'd been there for years. What more could she do to him that he hadn't done to himself? "He's dead. I killed him," Qabian said, withdrawing all feeling from his face and voice. Ninorra closed her mouth abruptly, her hand flexed around the scythe that stood twice her height. She took a single breath and shook her head, staring at the mage confidently. "I don't believe you," she said finally, taking another step forward. "Not because I don't think you capable. Of course I do. You wouldn't hesitate to kill a child, my child, that would be amusing. But not like this. You wouldn't tell me this way. You would make it into a joke, you would be happy. Damian can't be dead because that does not fit into your plans, and you are not the kind of person who.. who does not.. follow through on his plans," she finished, her voice wavering. He eyed her scythe carefully, then her foot as she stepped toward him, but he didn't move. He waved a hand over his smudged and dusty face with unnecessary drama, revealing a perfect, exaggerated smirk and raised brow. "Is this better? My dear sweet stupid Ninorra," he said with cloying sarcasm. "This was my plan all along. Why should I be upset about anything except being caught here by you? I've finally taught you your lesson after all these months." The put-on faded just as quickly as it appeared, replaced again by cold emptiness in his demeanor. "You're wrong, but not for the reasons you think you are. I had no choice. I did what I had to do. What does it matter now? He's still dead, and I still killed him. If you don't believe me," he gestured off-hand to the doomguard, "you can just let me go." Her face fell as easily as her confidence rose, disappointment and despair like the worst kind of makeover. Swallowing her rage, she tightened her grip on the scythe and took another step closer. "How could you? Why? Why would you do this, after everything? I don't understand, Qabian," she added, her breathing beginning to quicken. "I don't understand. Why is it you want to die so badly? If you wanted this, you could have asked. I might have said you were crazy, but I would have put you down if you really wanted it.. but why kill my son just to do it? Why? Answer me. I need to know before I do this." He lifted his chin, but didn't fall back to emotion. He finally shifted away from her, taking a step to the side, away from the doomguard, back toward the Underbelly. "I don't want to die, but I've earned it, don't you think?" The words were snide, more like him, but the tone was still vacant. "I said I had no choice. I didn't want this any more than you did. What do you think killing me accomplishes? I've come back from that before." A qualified truth, and a meaningless one in the current situation, but he held onto it like a beacon. "And it does nothing for your son." A strange smile drew her lips upward, displaying the same dimples she always had when she was enjoying herself. They were a grim reminder of their history. "If he is dead, then yes. You're right," she said with a shaky voice, close to tears as she was. "..but this would not be for him. It would be for me." The doomguard grabbed him then, it's hands enveloping both of Qabian's shoulders as Ninorra's scythe swirled with the thousands of souls that powered it. "I don't just want you to die. I want you to suffer, as I know I will, for the rest of my life. I want you to know just how deeply you cut me, just as I am about to cut you. And I want to add your scream, your wretched voice, to my songs. To remember you by." Dim light around Qabian shimmered and refracted between the doomguard's hands as the mage called on his magic, but something was wrong. What he'd suffered not long ago had consequences he didn't expect or he might have turned and run earlier. Everything was having consequences he didn't expect. He brought his hands forward as best he could, setting them alight to burn through the arms that held him, but a faster escape, the kind he always relied on, was not an option. "You'll get nothing from me," Qabian snarled, but he kept his focus on loosening the doomguard's grip, while simply bracing for whatever it was Ninorra was about to do. "Oh, Qabian," Ninorra said mountfully, even disappointedly, tears finally rolling down her face. She wasn't exactly the sort to hide her emotions, dramatic though they might be. With her free hand, she appeared to reach for him, fingers outstretched. They waved like a fan, casting a curse on Qabian that she hadn't been expecting to use on him. "That's what everyone says." The curse of agony was always the first of many. It wasn't like normal pain, it didn't radiate in one place and travel through the nerves. Agony struck its victims at once and all over, gnawing at each nerve from head to toe like a tree with each leaf on fire. Qabian threw his head back involuntarily, his jaw clenched against the pain, immobilized as he was. She didn't know him that well. She didn't know just how much practice he had, even with the exact curse she was using. The fire in his hands flickered, threatening to go out. His body stiffened against the encompassing agony, but not so much that he lost control. The traditional smirk that had abandoned him thus far in their encounter genuinely graced his face as he eyed her over the doomguard's arm. "Is that what they say? Is that what they say before they... submit?" He gave her an utterly inappropriate wink, unthinkable in the moments before she'd pushed actual violence, bringing him out of his tempest of emotions and back into his familiar adversarial relationship with the world. The fire in his hands, rather than sputtering out, flared stronger, threatening to encompass both him and the doomguard more thoroughly. The doomguard didn't seem to think much of Qabian's fire, in spite of how it burned through his flesh. It could have been bravery, or his complete and utter submission to Ninorra. Either way, he held on to the mage as she cursed him with corruption, her own expression still mournful. "You know it is," she said through tears, the rest of her finally responding to the emotions building as she choked back sobs. What would she tell her husband? That their son was lost because of her own mistrust? That perhaps she was, actually, a terrible mother, and his loss was on her hands? How much would he resent her, then? And how could she ever grow to forgive herself for being so very short sighted? The corruption attacked Qabian's circulatory system, crawling through his veins to eat at them slowly. He would appear ill, at first, as they collapsed. The pain, combined with her curse of agony, would have been exquisite. But it wasn't what she really wanted, and he knew that much already. "Damn it, Qabian," she said between heavy breaths, her own voice hoarse. "How can I blame you for being you?" His eyes flicked back in his head. He knew that curse, too, knew it too well. His body responded to it both as illness and as something else, something trained, something reflexive. He licked his lips as they dried and cracked. His usually vaguely tanned skin was already pale from his earlier ordeal and the dust that still clung to him, but the pallor of her spreading corruption began to give his skin a bluish tinge. "What else... is there?" he answered through gritted teeth. With nowhere else to go, the other schools of magic locked to him and his preferred method of casting prevented by the grip on his shoulders, the fire flowed unfettered up his arms and those of the doomguard holding him. Qabian's intention to break the demon's grip seemed lost in the purer chaos of the only action left open to him, letting the fire grow, to the point the link between him and his imprisoner became pure fire. Qabian's smirk widened into a grin, somehow both menacing and pleased, as a thin trail of blood ran from his nose down over his teeth. "You can do... better than that," he managed with some difficulty. He was baiting her, that much she knew. Why he wanted to die so much, though, that she couldn't understand. The fire grew closer to her, something she vaguely registered. Heat was something that never bothered her, and she felt drawn to it now more than ever. "You.. you are right," she said mournfully, her eyes still glistening. His grin was unbearably lurid, and it pulled at the thread holding her together. "You are so often right about me." The unstable affliction struck him, then. Like a cancer, it ate at the mage's body from within. Except very soon after she cast it, Ninorra pressed her scythe forward and began the final task. It would drain his soul, the very last essence of him, and it would remain with her like so many of her victims. It increased the power of her other curses, the corruption, the agony, and now the affliction which actually made it through his flesh and began the process of eating through his right hand. Before their eyes, Qabian's own limb rotted, clumps of flesh dropping to the fire surrounding him to sizzle and burn and surround them both in a putrid perfume. "I wonder.. why that is?" It wasn't about death, but he didn't have the words anymore, and that was probably for the best because he wouldn't have made any sense anyway. The muscles in his jaw clenched and twisted as he stared her down, the pain beginning to broach what even he could handle. He had been through this sequence of curses before, yes, but not drawn out at the hands of someone who actually wanted him dead. "Where's--Where's the... music?" he choked out as his stiffened body began to twitch and writhe under the assault. A low moan in the back of his throat overrode any further attempts at speech. As more of his flesh dropped away, the fire along his arms finally sputtered and went out. He closed his eyes, threw his head back, and screamed. "There it is," Ninorra said quietly, sadly when she considered what this would mean. No more gossiping, no more little plots. She wasn't just losing her son, she was losing a friend. A friend who may have never actually admitted to being her friend, maybe, but a friend none the less. One who she would miss terribly, whose soul she would keep close to her.. "What?" The scythe trembled in her hand. It stole the life from Qabian, and with it there should have been the distinct feel of his essence as it flowed into the weapon, and eventually into her own collection. What she found, however, wasn't that sweet flicker of life. It was a few crumbs, broken from the whole, and perhaps incapable of being put back together. Qabian may have made jokes about having no soul, but what she found was a void with the fragments of one that may have been shattered a long time ago. Pressing a few fingers to the red jewel at her throat, whose color matched her eyes so well, she felt a pang of regret. "Oh.. I see," she said to herself, as the affliction ate its way toward his arm, soon to rot his heart from the inside. "Mother?" Ninorra felt her heart drop into her stomach at the sound of such a sweet voice, a voice that she thought she might never hear again. Turning toward it, she let go of the scythe and broke her concentration from the torment. Standing a few feet behind her, Damian was rubbing his eyes. He was covered in dust, and it appeared that his hair was terribly singed, but he was in fact alive. "Mother," he repeated. "What are you doing?" As her focus broke, the mage's screaming pitched to a crescendo and a blast of fire slammed outward from Qabian's body, knocking him out of the doomguard's scorched grip and back against the wall. As he slid to sitting, the disease still eating away at his arm moved past his elbow, leaving nothing attached to bones left slick with decay. He had the presence of mind to press a hand full of fire to his upper arm and burn away everything there, whether the curse had reached it or not. He stifled a new scream by keeping his jaw firmly shut, but couldn't prevent an agonized groan as he burned away what was left of his own limb. The space of hallway beneath Dalaran was full of the fragrance of charred flesh, but perhaps that wasn't so uncommon just outside the Dreadscar Rift. "H-how?" On the floor, slumped back against the wall, Qabian stared at Damian in disbelief. Then the mage started coughing up blood. Ninorra looked between the two males, confused and still enraged. Damian didn't give his mother time to question the reality of his presence as he ran to the magister and pulled a healing potion from his pocket. "I used the cauterize spell when I felt the meteor get close, then I ported out," he explained, uncorking the bottle to empty it into Qabian's mouth. "It hurt, but I had some potions on me." "Damian, what are you doing?!" Ninorra finally shouted, grabbing him by the waist to yank him away. "He tried to kill you!" The boy opened his mouth to explain fully what happened, but thought better than to include details. Instead, he shook his head. "He tried to save me. From an Eredar. She tried to send her felhounds on me, but, he tried to kill them with a meteor. I got out before it could really hit me. Honest, he tried to help." Ninorra regarded the charred elf incredulously. "Then why did you tell me.. Oh Qabian!" She shouted, grabbing a healthstone from her pocket to shove it forcefully into his mouth. "I can not believe you would rather die than admit you tried to save a child! Of all the ridiculous things!" Qabian drank down the potion without resistance as the boy made his explanation, then the mage wiped blood and spilled potion off his chin with a hand still on fire when Ninorra yanked the child away. But when Ninorra shoved the healthstone in his mouth, Qabian spit it out and quelled the flames in his hand as he feebly attempted to push her away. "Don't--don't touch me," he said, eyes narrowed. He broke down in another fit of coughing, but brought up no blood. When he recovered enough to speak, he tried to straighten himself up against the wall. "Don't pretend it would have mattered if I'd said I killed him trying to save him. What did you think I meant when I said I had no choice? You would have killed me either way." "That is not true!" Ninorra said incredulously. "I might have been vengeful about you admitting to murder him, but I would not have wanted to kill you if you actually told me the truth!" Damian ran a hand through his hair. "I'm fine though.." "Gods I am so upset with you right now!" She fumed, grabbing her staff again before banishing her semi charred demon. "And you know another thing, you did not even have much of a soul left! Did you even know that?? Not that it makes much of a difference, but you must understand that if you were to die, Qabian, there would be nothing left!" Qabian raised an eyebrow at her. He glanced down at himself. "I did not know that, but," he tapped his chest twice, remembering, "it went through a lot. I'm not surprised it didn't hold." He shrugged, then winced. He gingerly poked at the smoldering edges of his charred shoulder with its skeletal arm and found them tender enough to suggest he'd succeeded in keeping himself alive. "But I certainly knew there would be nothing left, and there are other reasons for that. What does that matter? Isn't that what you wanted?" Ninorra sputtered, tears still staining her face and most of her makeup gone. Behind it, she seemed overwhelmingly vulnerable, and perhaps younger than she otherwise appeared. Opening her mouth to answer, Damian interrupted her by grabbing her hand. "He'll be okay though, won't he?" Pressing her lips together, she tried to smile at Damian's concern and nodded once. "..there are.. certainly things that can be done. If he so chooses," she added, looking back at the damage she caused. Her eyes were soft and mournful, perhaps more for their loss of friendliness than his bodyparts. "But he has to want to. And right now, we should all probably go home and recover from this terrible ordeal." Qabian burned away the tenacious connective tissue keeping the bones of his otherwise missing arm attached. "I'll be fine," he said. "I'll--" He frowned, looking down at said lack of arm, suddenly realizing how temporarily difficult his life was going to be given he did almost all of his spellwork via gesture. He struggled awkwardly to his feet, holding himself up against the wall with his good arm as a wave of pain and dizziness washed over him. He held up his hand defensively when he could and reiterated, "Don't touch me." He took a deep breath. "Maybe consider I never believed you'd finish it. And given that you didn't, it turns out I was correct. For a reason I didn't expect, perhaps, but I'm still here nevertheless, hm?" Ninorra rolled her eyes as she took Damian's hand. "Right. Well. Safe travels home, then," she said as she used her scythe to lead both her and her son out if the sewer. "If you actually do want help with your little problem, you know how to reach me. Believe it or not, in that area at least, we have a lot in common." Damian spared a parting glance at the magister, fully aware he might never be allowed near him again. He couldn't argue with that logic, given the events that transpired, but he gave the mage a shrug of helplessness. More toward Qabian's situation, it seemed, than his own. Qabian nodded at the parting glance. He half-smiled. "Good work," he directed at the boy, probably too quietly to be heard as the pair left. Qabian waited, then followed up the ramp, limping and clutching his shoulder. Back in the bright light of the city, he called over the nearest Kirin Tor guardian. The hooded man started in surprise, then tried to usher Qabian toward First to Your Aid. They argued briefly, then Qabian straightened up and slapped the man, nearly knocking off his hood. "I said Suramar, you dimwit!" Qabian shouted. The guard stepped back, then reluctantly opened the Kirin Tor portal to Meredil. Qabian barely made it through the tunnel into Shal'Aran before the adrenaline wore off, shock kicked in, and he collapsed to the mercy of unconsciousness.
  24. Qabian

    Malkaris Sen'Thil Darkfire

    There is no way in this world or any other that we are related.