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Taming the Beast

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“They’re getting worse, aren’t they?”

The image of Lyselia’s slow, quiet nod following her question weighed heavily on Sylennis’s mind as she moved around her small quarters in Darnassus, gathering supplies and provisions. So there it was, her control was slipping and it had not gone unnoticed. The elf let a troubled smile pass briefly across her face. Lyselia had been a good friend to her. They had spent much time fighting alongside one another, and the huntress had inevitably witnessed how the rage would sometimes overtake Sylennis and threaten to gain control. It was her friend’s voice and gentle touch that most often lead her out of that haze of anger.

At first, before she realized the bond that had grown between them, Sylennis had been afraid that the huntress would tell the others what she had witnessed and that they would shun her for fear of the beast that lurked within her. She now knew that she had no such thing to fear. Lys was her best friend and would not betray her so.

Sylennis retrieved a few hunks of boar meat from the small meatlocker in the corner of the room. She wrapped it tightly and placed it in a sack alongside some fruit, bread and a few skins of water. Tying the sack off, she carefully placed it by the door so she wouldn’t forget it.

Best friend… Sylennis had never had such a thing before. The feelings that came along with that were alien to her, but welcome just the same. She supposed that it was a combination of these feelings, and Lyselia’s obvious concern over the cause of her attacks that had led her to tell her friend the truth.

So it was that the previous night she had found herself sitting with her friend in a small out-of-the-way bar in Stormwind, letting the story pour out like venom from an infected wound. She had told her everything, reliving the months of pain, torture, humiliation as she did so. It had caused her tears to flow freely and brought memories to the surface that she had kept buried for many years. It was grueling and painful, but cathartic somehow. When Sylennis had finished, she expected the huntress to look upon her with disgust appropriate to the shame she felt she deserved. Her friend would shun her and she could go back to being the loner she had always been. But Lyselia had simply smiled, took her hand and told her that she would do anything she could to help.

It was perhaps the most emotionally stunning moment in the rogue’s entire life.

She gathered up a few spare daggers and wrapped them up in some thick blankets before placing them gently in her pack. She wasn’t sure exactly where she was going, but it never hurt to be prepared and more weapons were never a bad thing. With that in mind, she walked over to where her armor hung on the wall and inspected it for recent holes and damage. She ran her hands slowly over the surface of each piece, feeling for weak spots or tears that could be fatal in combat. As she finished with each, she carefully hung it back up where she had retrieved it. Finally satisfied that her equipment was in good repair, she retrieved a piece of parchment and some ink and sat down to compose a brief letter.

The last time she had gained control over the beast had required days of solitude and reflection in the jungles of the Un’Goro crater. Lyselia had suggested that perhaps something like that could work again and proposed (okay, insisted) she take a small retreat to calm herself. The huntress would accompany her to watch over her and provide the support of a good friend.

At first, Sylennis had been hesitant to have someone along, but she quickly found that she was looking forward to having some company on the trip. Besides, should the worst happen and the rage gain control again, there was probably no individual who had a better shot at subduing her before she could cause any damage. Lyselia was strong, and she knew most of her weaknesses. If there was anybody who knew best how to take Sylennis down, it was the huntress.

Sylennis dipped a quill pen in the ink and began to write. She carefully composed the words of her letter before crumpling up the parchment and retrieving a fresh one. A few bottles of ink and mountain of crumpled parchment later, the rogue held the note in her hands and read over the shaky words scrawled upon its surface.

To Kiraena and my dearest friends of the Tirisfalen,

I know this might come as a shock to some of you, but I feel I should tell you that I am not well. I do not wish to go into specifics, but suffice it to say that in my current state, I could wind up being a danger to all of you and I sincerely wish for that not to happen.

To that end, I have decided to take a small… retreat. Lyselia will travel with me and keep watch over me and I ask you not to worry. I am sure she will notify you if trouble arises.

If all goes well, I will return soon.

- Sylennis

Giving the parchment a thump of satisfaction, Sylennis put down the pen and carefully sealed the note with a dot of wax. Retrieving the pen again, she dipped it in a fresh bottle of ink and wrote Kiraena’s name on the outside of the folded parchment in the best handwriting she could manage. With that complete, she carefully donned her armor and gathered up the things she had packed. Sylennis folded up the note and slipped it into her hip pouch. She would leave it at the bank where Kira would be sure to find it.

As she took one last look around the small quarters to see if she had missed anything, a small sigh escaped her lips. She dearly loved her new life and she didn’t want to lose it. Hopefully, this little journey would help her regain some measure of control. Gathering herself and taking a deep breath, Sylennis hoisted her pack over her shoulder and stepped outside.

The sound of the door closing behind her was a little louder than she would have liked.

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There was no avoiding it, Nouri would have to return to Stormwind. At least temporarily. There was research he needed to perform on the history of trolls before he ventured into the hostile lands of the Sandfurys and the Keep Library had the most extensive data on the subject. The Temple of Elune, although saturated with serenity and ancient knowledge, simply held little information on trolls. Hardly surprising given their historical emnity towards each other.

He had just taken his leave of the Temple and was visiting his safety deposit box in the Darnassus bank, looking for a suitable ensemble with which to make a disguise, when he spotted Lyselia heading towards the portal to Rut'theran village.

The huntress was a senior member of Tirisfalen, the order which had risen from the ashes of the Swordwaltzers, but one with whom Nouri had not had much informal contact with. To Nouri she seemed to be an elusive and private soul.

Nouri called out to her in greeting and waved a friendly hello. In vain, as she was too preoccupied to notice among the activity near the portal. She looked to be packed for travel. Nouri shrugged and turned back towards the bank attendant.

She was just starting to name off the inventory in Nouri's safe box when she stopped in mid sentence to regard the human with a quizzical stare. Not that Nouri noticed. He had already fallen into the blank, vacant trance that overcame him each time he received one of his "visions".

Clouds swirled, multicolors everywhere. Slowly they coalesced into solid forms, painting a picture before him. But one that moved. He saw a jungle glade, lush and vibrant. There before him were two nightsabers. One in a cage, the other pacing the glade before its partner. Swirl of mists.. The nightsabers were being attacked! Wolves had surrounded the solitary free nightsaber. They pressed a vicious assault. The caged nightsaber was thrown into a frenzy, hurling itself against the cage door in an effort to get free to help its partner. The chains binding the cage door could not hold. They snapped under the force of the frenzied cat within.

In a blood red fury the cat launched itself out of the cage and set into the wolves with abandon. It was over swiftly. However the blood fury would not abate.. Chasing.. chasing.. the frenzied cat drove its partner through the underbrush, blind to anything other than the fury..

Mist swirled....

...and recombined into a different image. A shining man, sitting up high in a fountained courtyard. Behind him stood a dark cloaked figure. The figure held a dagger to the mans back in one hand, and a bouquet of roses in another. Pulling back its hood with the daggered hand, the figure revealed a womans face. But not a real face. Its sheen identified it as a mask..

Mists swirled....

The mists faded, and Nouri found himself standing before the bank tree of Darnassus looking at a slightly perplexed attendant. Wiping a slight stream of spittle from his chin, Nouri politely apologized without explanation to the attendand and took his leave.

The visions meant little to Nouri. They usually were vague and largley symbolic in nature. He would have to contemplate its meaning while sailing the ships back to the Eastern Continent.

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The Priestess sighed as her eyes came to the end of the scrawled letter. She vaguely remembered Lyselia And Sylennis speaking at the Blue Recluse not a few nights earlier. She wondered if this letter described the very same.

Kira carefully folded the letter and slipped it into her bag before sitting at the bench nearby. She watched people come and go for a time while her thoughts ebbed and flowed. She missed her stealthy poking friend and knowing there was something amiss only made her worry grow. Her first instinct was to go searching, but that would be near impossible say for tracking down Lyselia. And even then she would not expect the huntress to betray Syl's trust. No, there was little to be done for now. At least on her own that is...

She reached into her pack and removed a few sheets of parchment and a quill.

Sylennis,

I cannot pretend to know what haunts you though I do understand the need to face one's demons alone. Know that we are all here for you whenever you are ready to come home. Stay safe or you will have much bigger worries to face.

May Elune light your path and her shadows protect you,

~ Kiraena

A small smile crept onto her lips and she sealed the letter, hoping that one line would at least bring a smile to the rogue's face. She retrieved the second piece of parchment and began to write.

Lyselia,

Do take care of her as well as yourself. Should anything go awry, send word immediately and I will come as quickly as possible. Be careful and stay safe.

Elune watch over you both,

~ Kiraena

With that she tucked Syls' letter into Lyselia's before sealing them together. She prayed the letters would reach them as the paper slipped through her fingers into the mailbox. She had faith that they would be fine, but at the very least she would know where they were headed. And so it was time to hunt down a Hunter.

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With recent events etching concern across her face, Lyselia idlely scratched her frostsaber behind the ears as she sat on the steps. She rose from the steps and called for Rhylan. The large frostsaber came bounding to a halt in front of her. She grinned and hopped on his back. As she traveled home, she replayed the previous nights events.

Her closest friend, Sylennis, opened up to her in a way that she had never expected. She sat in the small, secluded Stormwind tavern listening; she relived all of those experiences with Syl. It was horrifying to hear what had happened. As Syl had wept, she somehow managed to keep her wits about her. She knew there was something that had to be done before this 'beast' within Sylennis could take a complete hold. Once that happened, there may not be a return. A few days prior, she had to slap her a few times to bring her out of this "trance". It had shaken her to her very core and scared her more than she would ever admit.

Rounding the corner of a long peice of shrubbery, Lyselia stopped in front of her tiny house. Nestled close to Darnassus, she had access to quick travel and the benefits of a large city near her. She began gathering some needed items to take along on the retreat she had insisted Syl take. What Syl didn't know, was that this retreat was also to some benefit for Lyselia as well. Recently, she had come to the realization that was was too focused on battle. After she had missed the wedding of her friends, Seripha and Aethen, she knew that something had to change. She had wanted to be there, but the call of battle had pulled her away to her self-inflicted duty.

She knew that this wasn't going to be an easy trip, but the thought of being that close to nature always excited the huntress. She planned on relating this to Sylennis and using nature and some crude spiritual healing she learned. She knew she was not a priest by any means, but her life was spent in the Alliance army alongside some of the best healers she had the pleasure of knowing. Lyselia hoped to use what knowledge she knew and what she learned from the priests.

As she finished packing, she thought ahead to the trip. Lyselia knew that Sylennis was quite experienced with the use of weapons and had witnessed what she was able to do with them. They had dueled many times and she was usually able to subdue Syl, so she was fairly certain she would be able to do it again. With a wave of her hand, she dismissed any doubts she had and hopped on the boat to Auberdine.

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(( Some graphic content ))

The pain, the torture, the anger... everything. It all seemed so far away.

Sylennis lay on the rock by the fire; completely still save for the rise and fall of her chest as she took deep breaths. The powerful smell of the mixture Lyselia had concocted filled her nostrils and the sound of the huntress's quiet chanting filled her ears. Perhaps this really would work. A warm feeling spread out to her fingers as Lys rubbed the drops of… well, whatever it was… into the back of her hand.

“Reach out and feel your surroundings.” Lyselia’s voice was quiet and soothing, and it made the rogue want to fall asleep right there. “Feel the nature around you. Blend with it. Become one with it.”

Sylennis’s brow furrowed as she tried to do so. She imagined the stream, envisioning herself floating on her back in its cool waters. She pictured the trees, seeing herself sitting in the shade below the branches, picking at grass blades. She felt like she was falling, maybe, or drifting away in a current. Nothing surrounded her but the trees, the stream and her friend’s voice, guiding her along a peaceful path to nowhere. Her mind drifted and soared and she was only vaguely aware of Lyselia chanting and then singing.

She did not know or care how much time passed.

“How do you feel?” Her friend’s voice was so quiet it was almost inaudible.

“Amazing…" Sylennis opened one eye and peered at the huntress from the corner of it. “I haven't felt this relaxed since... well ever, I don't think.”

She saw the quiet smile even though she was sure she wasn’t meant to. Lyselia liked to maintain an enigmatic air about her; to keep people guessing. She suspected it had something to do with the past her friend never shared. Perhaps it was to keep people from getting too close? It was only when the two of them were alone that Sylennis had ever witnessed the shell crack.

“What is it, Rethia?”

Sylennis sat up to see the huntress staring intently at her pet. Rethia was alert and searching for… something. The cat’s ears twitched about and her eyes darted across the small valley as she panned her head slowly, sniffing the air. The rogue raised an eyebrow at her friend.

“What’s she looking for?”

“I think there is someone... or something out there…” Lyselia trailed off as she too began to attune herself to her surroundings. The huntress turned toward her pet. “Go check it out girl.”

The cat let loose a small growl and raced off around the creek bend until she was out of sight. Sylennis turned back to see her friend now sniffing the air, her face wrinkling in disgust. The rogue took a deep sniff, but couldn’t smell anything.

“Smells like undead… I can smell them a mile away, but this one is close." The huntress paused a moment, as if thinking. "Rethia hasn’t come back, so be on your guard.”

“Figures.” Sylennis let out a heavy sigh and cinched up her armor and weapons and got to her feet. “I was foolish to think I could get any peace. Even here.” She did not see the frown that darkened her friend’s countenance at the comment. Her attention was focused wholly on the large boulder in front of her. She crept forward around the corner of the large rock.

Nothing.

Her ears perked up as she heard the all-too-familiar noise of Lyselia letting loose an arrow from her bow. Sylennis raced back around the rock just in time to see her friend’s limp form hit the ground on the bank just across the small stream. A few feet away stood the rotted form of one of the Forsaken.

“LYS!!!!!”

No! Not her!

The rogue’s blood began to boil and she felt the familiar haze settle across her vision. Her breathing grew heavy and ragged and her eyes narrowed intently on the undead before her. A small voice inside her whispered for her to stop; to regain control. No. She would need the strength the rage would bring. Sylennis reached deep into her soul and brought out the anger, fear and pain that lay within. She embraced it all and allowed the sick emotional poison to flow throughout her body.

Her muscles tensed, her breath quickened and she gripped her daggers tightly.

With a roar, she flung herself at the heap of rotted flesh that dared to harm her friend. Her blades glinted in the setting sunlight as they moved in sharp, but fluid, strikes. Instinct took over and the rogue let all the fear and anger do the work, losing herself in the bloodlust. Her attacks continued to fall upon the foul creature relentlessly, even after it had long-since ceased to move.

Finally, Sylennis sheathed her blades and knelt on the ground to regain the expended strength. Her heart pumped furiously and her eyes darted back and forth. Her vision was red, thick and hazy. She did not notice Lyselia rise from the ground where she had fallen.

“Syl? You ok?” The wound had been superficial, and the huntress had only been knocked off-balance. She moved slowly over to where Sylennis knelt. The voice caused Sylennis to whirl her head around and glare at the huntress through dark, heavy-lidded eyes. Lyselia reached out to touch her friend’s shoulder.

Sylennis did not see the look of surprise and shock on Lyselia’s face as she sliced into her best friend's belly with her first strike.

Kill it!

As the huntress doubled over in pain, Sylennis swiftly moved around behind her, stabbing her long, wicked dagger into the huntress’s side. The rogue’s blades glinted in the sunlight again as they struck, quickly becoming stained with the fresh blood of her closest friend. Sylennis struck again and again, her heart pounding in her ears as she inflicted deep wound after deep wound. When Lyselia fell to her knees, the rogue kicked her in the back to topple her face down into the water before sprinting off into the wilderness.

She did not hear the small whimper coming from her friend’s beaten and bloody form.

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Lyselia took a deep breath as she surveyed her surroundings. This is a perfect spot, she thought to herself. She had taken Sylennis up a small mountain trail that ended near a stream with couple waterfalls surrounding them. She looked at her friend and made a wide sweeping motion with her arm.

"This is the place, what do you think?"

Sylennis kicked at a small rock, and replied, "Looks fine to me"

Lyselia moved to the flattest spot and took off her pack. She motioned at Syl and instructed her to make a fire, this was something she knew the rogue was capable of and wanted her to feel useful during the trip. She bent down and began to make preparations for a crude shelter. While making the shelter she took time to explain as much as she could to the rogue, hoping that it would come in handy for her later.

After catching a few fish for their supper, Lyselia brought out a special incredient. She happened to snag a few flasks of burbon and toss them in her pack. Enjoying the meal and the drinks, she noticed Sylennis seemed to let herself relax a bit more. She knew this was the perfect time to work on a bit of inner healing.

Lyselia pulled out a mortor and pestle and a few ingredients. She instructed Sylennis to lay down while she ground them into a pungent smelling pulp. She placed the bowl next to the fire, and took out a small amount. She took Syl's hands and massaged the mixture onto the top of them, doing the same with her forehead. While doing so she chanted and hummed to Syl, letter her voice mix in with the sound of nature.

After a sufficient amount of time, Lyselia asked how she felt. To her suprise, she replied with a slight lilt in her voice.

"Amazing," Sylennis said, "I haven't felt this good...well ever, I don't think"

As Lyselia smiled to herself, she saw Rethia jump up in the corner of her eye.

Knowing something was wrong, she looked at the big cat and asked, "What is it, Rethia?"

The frostsaber emitted a low growl as she rose to her feet and stalked to Lyselia's side. Hearing the cat growl, Sylennis sat up and furrowed her brow.

"I think there is...someone or something out there." Lyselia said to her. Looking at Rethia, she pointed and said, "Go check it out girl"

As Rethia disappeared around the small bend, Lyselia picked up a faint smell. Her nose twitched in obvious repulsion. She would know that smell anywhere. "Undead" she said to Syl, "I can smell them a mile away, but this one is close. Rethia hasn't come back so be on your guard."

She heard a small grumble from the rogue as she readied her weapons against their invisible intruder. Lyselia frowned, hoping that this didn't erase her rituals that so obviously helped Syl.

Blending herself into the surroundings, Sylennis began to creep towards a large rock that was near them. As she disappeard behind it, the huntress continued to sniff the air and attune her sharp eyesight. It was then that she spotted him. The rotting pile of bones lept at her as she released an arrow. Knocking her squarely in the jaw, she fell back in a daze. As she hit the ground, she saw Syl coming back around the rock.

The rogue let loose a roar and lept at the attacker. The forsaken tried to defend himself, but it was hopeless against Syl's brutal attacks. With a sickening thump, the undead fell to the ground.

Lyselia stood up, shaking her head slightly. She walked over to where her friend was kneeling and touched her shoulder.

"Syl? You ok?"

Sylennis turned a bloodshot glare her way and in one quick movement thrust her dagger deep into Lyselia's stomach. In a blink of an eye the rogue was behind her, continuing to plunge her blades into her. Her eyes wide in suprise, she could only form a couple words, "SYL, NOOO!" Flashes of red glinted before her eyes. The searing pain threatened to take the breath from her. She doubled over and fell to her knees. Breathing heavily, she tried to reach to Syl. She then felt a foot kick her squarely in the back.

As she hit the ground, the pain grew more intense. She knew she could not pass out or that would be the death of her. With all of her might and what strength she had left, she rolled herself out of the water onto the bank. Shaking, she carefully sat up in time to see Sylennis run off down the stream into the woods.

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Lyselia turned as she heard Rethia walking up to her. The cat licked her face with a big, scratchy tongue. She turned to the cat and said "Find Rhylan quickly, we need to get to town." She leaned back on the ground as she watched the frostsaber run off. The pain was pushing her to the limit and she knew she had to find help soon, or it would be too late.

Rethia helped push her up as she struggled to climb on top of Rhylan. The three slowly made their way towards the gates of Stormwind. She found herself thinking she was glad the camping spot was in Elwynn Forest and close to the great city. Lyselia was laying on the back of her saber to try to ease the increasing pain. She had been drifting in and out of consciousness. Struggling against the growing darkness, she finally gave into it.

Feeling a gentle shake on her shoulder, Lyselia opened her eyes slowly. She winced as the pain came rushing back. She blinked a few times as she tried to focus, making out a few faces bending over her.

"I don't know how she got here, or what happened..." stated an unfamiliar voice.

She heard a loud gasp as someone said her name. "LYS!!!" she heard Celestrae exclaim. She looked up to see her bending over to examine her more closely. Two other faces were looking over her as well. She recognized one as a warlock, as he had his fellhunter at his side. The other seemed to be a young priest.

"How is she?, the warlock asked, clearly concerned.

The elder priest gently held her hand and replied, "She has a pulse... faint, but she is alive. I will try to revive her."

Leaning down, Celestrae tried to talk to the injured huntress, "Lys? Can you hear me?"

Lyselia squinted as she looked at Celestrae and tried to form words, "I...I...Cel...?"

"Yes, it's me, Lys. Don't move too much." the familiar face replied.

"What happened?" the warlock asked curiously.

"Cel..? Is that you?"

"Speak quietly, Lys... but what happened? Do you remember?"

"I....seem to remember yes.." she replied, straining to be heard. "I was with..Syl". Celestrae placed her hand gently on Lyselia's brow, wiping away some of the sweat and dirt.

The warlock furrowed his brow and asked, "Syl...she doesn't mean a woman named Sylennis, does she?"

"Yes, Sylennis...", Lyselia said, coughing slightly, "We..were to the west of here a bit"

"Take it easy, Lys... what about her? What happened?" Celestrae said reassuringly.

The young priest on her right stifled a small gasp as Lyeslia continued, "Someone came...he was undead...that smell..."

"We managed to ward him off, but Syl...she...", Lyselia shuddered violently as she forced out the words, "She, didn't recognize me..."

Placing a cloth to her forehead, Celestrae said, "Shh... try to stay calm Lys... you're safe now."

Tears began to stream down her cheek as she coughed out her next words, "Something came over her. I...I...tried to talk to her, but it was to no use..she...turned on me. Her eyes....so...dark....it was not Syl"

Celestrae let out a faint gasp, but steadied herself, and continued to tend Lyselia, "Syl... she did this to you? Light be good..."

Lyselia winced as she choked back a sob, "Yes...I am afraid she has been consumed by...something...inside her"

Celestrae noded grimly and said, "We need to get you inside somewhere, so I can have a closer look at you."

After helping her to a room in the Gilded Rose, the younger priest took her leave. Lyselia curled up on the bed still wincing from the pain. Celestrae had been able to heal her quite well with the light, but there were still poisons coursing through her body. The priest was unable to cure them and sent word for someone who was able to. Aojiro, an able bodied hunter, came back with word of no one being available.

A few friends and members of Tirisfalen had moved into the room and were offering their help. She looked up to recognize Daedraug and Olus were watching over her. Celestrae bent down to Lyselia and said, "I can make a powerful anit-venom but it will take a while for the incredients to mix properly. Daedraug has offered to use a powerful poison on you that will cause you to sleep through most of the pain. I will return to check on you once I retrieve the ingrediants for the anti-venom." She moved to the door and motioned to Daedraug.

She nodded as she watched the rogue lower himself next to her. "This will work quickly on you and by the time you wake up, you should be feeling much better" With a small prick in her arm, he administered his poison. He took her hand and smiled at her as he hummed a low Darnassian melody. In an instant she felt her self pulling away from the world, as it darkened around her. She managed to return his smile as she drifted into a deep sleep.

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(( Some graphic content ))

A loud noise sounded from the floor above. Rathgin didn’t bat an eye. By now, he was used to Gath’llzogg’s tantrums. He would yell and roar for awhile, usually before removing some poor peon’s head to make himself feel better, and then things would be quiet again.

The orc stood in the entrance to Stonewatch Keep and yawned, leaning his axe against the stone wall as he did so. His shift on guard duty would be ending soon, and he couldn’t wait to get some rest. He smacked his lips as he stared sleepily around the courtyard at all the members of the Blackrock Clan’s Redridge contingent who were likely just as tired as himself. Perhaps he would rest his eyes just a minute...

As he closed his eyes, he thought he heard noises from down across the bridge. Opening one eye, he peeked down in that direction to see several guards running to get a closer look at... something. A large din of noise arose from the crowd as everyone began yelling at once and Rathgin - now fully awake - opened his eyes wide and gripped his axe tightly. Finally, a voice rose above the others to drown them out.

“To arms! To arms! We are under attack!” It was Tharil’zun. Good, someone with authority was in control of the situation. Rathgin turned to the guard next to him in the archway.

“Go see if you can help them. I’ll warn Gath’llzogg!” With that, the young orc raced up to the second floor of the keep and burst into the commander’s chambers. “We’re under ataaaack!” he cried.

Gath’llzogg, who was in the middle of donning his armor for combat simply stared at him coldly. “Then why are you in here whining instead of out there fighting??”

Rathgin needed no second statement to motivate his feet right back downstairs. He flew back around to the front gate and raced outside to see a sea of bodies at the near end of the bridge. Tharil’zun was nowhere to be seen. Gods, there must be hundreds of them! Gripping his axe tightly, he charged forward toward the bridge to meet his fate as he always knew he would. His glorious, single-orc charge of the alliance battle lines would be sung of for generations. Rathgin’s chest swelled with pride and he hefted his axe above his head as he ran. As he reached the edge of the bridge, he looked over to the opposite end to see... Nothing.

Where was the alliance attack force?

The orc’s gaze darted back and forth rapidly, looking for any sign of the attackers. Hearing a noise behind him, he whirled to see a single small... something... land on the ground. As he leaned closer to inspect it, he felt a sharp searing pain in his back. As he tried to turn his head around to look, a sharp kick was delivered to his side, sending him sprawling onto his back.

A single night elf with short, green hair and a black mask stood straddling over him. Her eyes were dark, cold and shimmering with rage. She gazed at him with hatred and her entire body seemed to be radiating an aura of fury. Her blades dripped with the fresh blood of his comrades. Had she done all this herself? Impossible!

Before he could have another thought, the rogue’s blade drove through his eye and straight into his brain, bringing him the sweet embrace of death.

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The beast leapt deftly from the upper rampart of Stonewatch Keep back to the ground, sprinting across the courtyard to dispatch two more of the foul Blackrock Orcs. As the bodies collapsed unceremoniously to the ground, she turned to see three figures standing near the entrance.

Not orcs. Humans. Night Elves. Familiar somehow... Aojiro... Olus... Daedraug...

The names drifted vaguely through the back of her head, barely discernable amid the bubbling inferno that dominated her consciousness.

Not a threat. Not orcs.

The rogue sprinted past the figures toward the southern bridge crossing the chasm to the keep, quickly slaying all the orcs that tried to bar her path. She grinned wickedly to herself, savoring in the death of each and every one of them. She turned to see the others had followed her. One of them spoke to her... Then another. She paced in front of them, impatient and growling angrily, fixing each of them with venomous stares.

Here... for her? Lyselia... hurt? Nonsense. Lys can take care of herself. Business... with the Blackrocks. Go away.

She spoke to them, not fully aware of what she said. It was almost as if some other part of her was speaking.

She told them to leave. She had business. They did not. They closed in. They were delaying her. The orcs had to pay... for what they did... What the horde did... to her? No, Lyselia!

The rogue ducked free and made for the back of the keep, where she heard more voices shouting in orcish. Her friends pursued, their looks of concern unnoticed by her.

Kill. Revenge. Death. Blackrocks. Under attack? Dae! Interference! Too many. Bad odds. Flee?

The beast threw down a cloud of flash powder and vanished into the shadows.

Rest needed. Recuperate. The hills. Camp. Safe there. Kill more orcs tomorrow.

---

Inside the beast’s skull, Sylennis pounded at the walls of her mental prison, weeping in anguish and futility.

“Stop it! Just stop it! Please... No more killing. No more blood.”

Her sobs echoed loudly, audible only to her conscience.

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(( Sorry it's taken so long to continue/finish this. Several of the participants have been wracked with writer's block, so I finally decided (with their permission) to continue it on my own. All dialogue is taken from in-game chatlogs though creative liberty was taken with some lines to make them flow better. ))

---

The beast leapt from a high ledge inside the cave, landing on the back of yet another Blackrock warrior. She drove both of her daggers into his back as she landed atop him, licking her lips as she felt the deliciously satisifying crunch of the orc’s backbone breaking under the impact.

”SYL! SYL STOP!”

The rogue whirled her head to look toward the new voice. Lyselia... And with her the priestess Celestrae and the young huntress Seripha. She narrowed her eyes at the three.

“Why should I? They deserve it! All of them!” Her breath grew rapid as she hissed out the words.

“No.” The concern on the huntress’s face was apparent to all but the beast. “These are... not the same orcs”

The rogue looked around at the bodies that littered the ground. She scoffed and spit upon the still twitching form of her most recent victim.

“WHO THE HELL CARES? THEY’RE ORCS, AREN’T THEY?”

“These lowlifes did nothing to you.” The huntress coughed a bit, looking down at the ground, before looking back to her friend. “They are just minding their own.”

“They seem pretty savage and bloodthirsty to me.” The rogue eyed Lyselia coldly.

“That may be...” Lyselia seemed to be fighting back tears. “But that is no reason to murder them... or to hurt anyone else.”

The tension hung in the air as the two stared at each other from across the cave. The rogue finally broke the silence.

“What do you want? I’m busy here.”

“We...” The huntress started to take a step forward and stumbled a bit, falling to one knee. “We want you to come home with us.”

A brief look of concern passed over Sylennis’s face. The beast, however, seethed coldly, staring with an unflinching expression.

“Leave me be.” The rogue’s voice was a low rumble. “I’m not hurting any of you.”

“No, please!” Tears began to form in Lyselia’s eyes. “I... I miss you. Come home with us, please!”

“WHY?” The beast snapped out the words. “What’s so damned urgent?”

Lyselia stared at the rogue for a long moment, obviously fighting back the tears in her eyes. She struggled slowly back to her feet, biting her lip. The huntress shook her head as if to clear it.

“Do you... remember? The other day?”

“We... were attacked.” The rogue nodded slowly.

“Try to remember.” Lyselia’s voice was pleading. “Do you remember what... happened... after that?” The huntress choked on a sob.

“No... nothing.”

“You do...” Tears began to form in Lyselia’s eyes again. “I know you do...”

“I don’t!” The beast shook its head violently.

“You... You didn’t recognize me.” A tear slipped from the huntress’s eye and rolled down her cheek as she bit out the words. “I know you would not have done that otherwise.”

“No! That didn’t happen!”

Lyselia slowly lifted the chain mail protecting her abdomen to reveal a large bandage wrapped around her middle. She began to undo the dressings slightly, drawing a worried look from the nearby Celestrae and revealing where the deep wound in her belly was still healing.

“This is where you struck me first.”

“No, no!” The rogue shut her eyes and began to shake her head rapidly. “It was the undead. The undead did it.”

“No.” Lyselia shook her head sadly. “He didn’t. He knocked me over, that was all.”

“No... it was him... him...” The rogue’s face was pale.

“This is where you struck me next.” Lyselia continued to remove the wrappings, pointing to a second wound on her side.

“NO!” Sylennis stumbled backwards, losing her footing and falling back to lean against a column of rock. She buried her face in her hands, tears flowing from her eyes. “No, no, no, no, no, no.”

Lyselia took a step toward her friend, but fell to her knees again, wincing in pain. The young Seripha took a step forward, helping the huntress to her feet and offering her support. She spoke up for the first time.

“Sylennis, it was an accident. None of us blame you for it!”

Sylennis continued to weep into her hands, shaking her head. “No, no, no, no, no.”

Lyselia’s face steeled, and she stepped forward again, continuing to recount her story.

“You were sitting there and I walked up. Your eyes... I did not recognize you in there. It... it was.” She choked back a sob. “Syl, just... please come home with us!”

“What... what have I done?” Sylennis fell to her knees and looked up, tears staining her cheeks. “How can you stand to look at me?”

“Syl...” Seripha reached out a hand toward the rogue’s shoulder.

“No!” Sylennis sprang to her feet, backing away again. “I’ll hurt you! I’ll hurt all of you!” I’m a danger to everyone!”

“No, Syl...” Lyselia’s tears were flowing freely now. “It’s okay now...”

“No! I’m a monster!” The rogue continued to back up in horror, looking into the faces of the three.

“Syl...” Celestrae spoke up, her voice sounding weak and frail. “The monster may be in you, but it isn’t you... please... let us help you.”

“You’re our friend.” Seripha chimed in.

“It’s over now, Syl.” Lyselia tried to reach out toward her. “Just come home with us.”

“I’ll just hurt you again. All of you.” Sylennis took another step backward.

“We can help you!”

“I... I... can’t... I’m... no...” The rogue stuttered, clearly unable to find the words she sought.

“Please...” Lyselia’s voice was pleading and tears filled her eyes.

“NO!” Sylennis screamed, her voice cracking. “I’m a monster! Just... just STAY AWAY FROM ME!” The rogue turned and began to flee. A hand reached out from the shadows to grab her, but she avoided it, vanishing into the darkness.

“I’m not letting her go again.” Daedraug growled as he stepped into the light before turning to give chase. He stopped as Celestrae collapsed to one knee.

“Are you okay, Cel?” Lyselia turned to the priestess in concern.

“Find her” Celestrae gasped weakly. “I’ll just... rest here for a moment.”

“I’m not leaving you here alone.” Lyselia seemed resolute but torn.

“I’ll stay with her.” Seripha stepped forward and laid a hand on Celestrae’s shoulder. “Go, Lyselia. Find her.”

“Go!” Celestrae nodded weakly. “Before it’s too late!”

Lyselia moved as quickly as she could back toward the entrance of the cave, looking frantically around as she emerged back into the open. There was no sign of her friend. She collapsed to her knees as Daedraug emerged from the shadows to lay a hand on her shoulder.

“We’ll find her.” He spoke solemnly. “But it’s going to take more than just words if you want to stop her.”

Lyselia said nothing, staring out into the distance at something only she could see.

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