The Nameless

The Stories We Tell

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{{This is a thread open to all who wish to participate in the Forum side of the Nameless event. I appologize for not getting it up sooner.

The event ends on Sunday, so if you'd like to make several posts as your character progresses and experiences the event, please do so.

Please keep posts in character, and if you have any questions along the way, feel free to PM me.}}

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An unfamiliar ceiling…

Kirai opened her eyes, glancing up at a ceiling of heavy canvas. She blinked a few times, squinting up at it, confused. She turned her head to the side, her cheek brushing against the pillow.

She was sleeping in a bed? A cot. This certainly hadn’t happened in awhile. She rarely slept in anything like a bed since she had run away from home. Even in the Grey Tower of the Pale Heart she preferred to sleep high up in the rafters over the Guild Hall where everyone would sit and visit.

“Ah, you’re awake. You took quite a tumble there, kiddo…”

She gasped, bolting upright in the cot. She peered forward at the hulking figure of a Tauren who had just entered the tent she had been sleeping in. She narrowed her eyes at him a moment, watching him as he set a large piece of fruit on a stool beside her.

“It’s a Papaya. They’re pretty big around here, and that should help you regain your strength.” He pointed at the fruit with his massive finger. She watched him warily, the wheels in her head turning as she tried to recall what had happened.

She had been on one of her routine sweeps of Scholozar Basin in search for Zan’gaji. She had landed atop a cliff and left Elliot, her Netherwing Drake, to go hunt for some food for himself. She had been exploring around the edge of the cliffs…

She blinked her eyes. Wait, a 'tumble?' But how would she have survived that fall? She shook her head and tried to remember.

Something… Something had come over her… Something that felt dark… dark and cold. She couldn’t remember anything after that besides feeling like she had been thrown off balance before everything went black.

She finally focused on the Tauren, watching him suspiciously as she picked up the massive fruit.

“Where am I?” She demanded, taking a snarling bite from the Papaya.

He chuckled, as if amused by her appetite.

“At a small camp I’ve had set up here for a few days. Just doing a couple odd jobs before moving on.” He let out a heavy laugh, making his whole upper body rumble. “I never would have thought the likes of you would have come tumbling down on my tent.”

“Wait… I what?”

He motioned for her to follow as he stepped outside and she climbed out of the cot, doing so. The moment she left the tent, she was greeted with the vast view of Scholozar Basin from several miles above… Wait. Was she still up on the cliff?! She blinked, utterly confused.

“It’s a ledge, you see…” He offered, pointing up about twenty feet to what was no doubt the top of the cliff. “I was just building a fire, and you came falling from above and landed on my tent. The tent collapsed, but you kind of… bounced… hit the tree over there,” He pointed to a lopsided palm, “…and then landed on the ground a few feet away. It was almost kind of comical, actually…”

As he chuckled, Kirai fought the violent urge to slap her own forehead.

“You had a few cuts and scrapes on you,. I cleaned them, and they’ll heal just fine. I just didn’t really know what to do about your hand… I’d never seen a wound like it before.”

She blinked, confused, looking down at her bare hands. With a jolt of cold shock she noticed that the palm of her right hand, which normally just held the scar of her blood bond with Zan‘gaji, now also held what looked like three claw marks. They seemed to be burnt into her skin, though the color black they were seemed sickeningly unnatural.

Her breathing quickened as she stared at it. What was this? Where had it come from?! Why was it scrawled across her most precious scar, tainting her bond with Zan’gaji?

“Hey kid, are you alright?” She heard his voice, seemingly from miles away. When he clapped a hand onto her shoulder she was jarred from the back of her mind and leaped forward, grabbing for her daggers- which weren’t there. The Tauren froze, his hand still outstretched with a look of confused shck on his face. She snarled up at him, charging a few balls of flame in her hands.

“Where did you put my weapons?! Where have you hidden them?!”

Clearly taken aback by her sudden outburst of frantic rage, he slowly pointed behind him towards the tent.

“They’re in my tent… along with your other belongings… I haven’t hidden them.” He watched her carefully as he spoke in a reasonable tone. “I had set them aside to make you more comfortable. They’re still by the cot… along with that juicy Papaya I picked for you, remember?”

She took a step backward, glancing at the tent that he stood in front of and then back up at him.

“Just… take it easy, okay?” He reached his hand out to her as if she were a frightened dog. As he took a step forward, she bolted backward, turning to scale the tree and bound from it, leaping towards the cliff above. She climbed over the edge, leaving the confused Tauren alone.

Upon her return to the top of the cliff, she heard a screech coupled with a heavy thud against the ground behind her. She shrieked, whirling around to hurl a quick fire blast at whatever it was.

Elliot recoiled in shock, harshly flapping his wings once to snuff her fire spell before it could hit him.

“…Kirai…” He spoke in an almost hurt, gentle voice, “…it is I…”

She stared at him, her chest heaving and her blood feeling cold. Elliot. Of course it was Elliot… She sighed shakily and stepped forward to stroke his snout.

“I’m sorry, Elliot… I… I don’t know what’s come over me…”

He closed his eyes and gave her an affectionate and concerned nuzzle before lowering himself so that she could climb onto his back.

“Let’s go home… I’ve got to pick up some new supplies… and some new gloves.”

Elliot nodded, flapping his great wings to take off towards the Grey Tower. Kirai stared down at her hand at the eerie mark, a cold foreboding feeling filling every inch of her being.

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Stelson woke abruptly. Sweat matted his fur to his skin and his eyes were wide, his teeth clenched. He sat up and let the quilt fall from his chest, resting just at his waist, and he shouted. Anyone else that would have seen him like this may have simply written it off as a bad dream, but Eva, who had retreated to a corner of the hut, shook as she stared at him, clearly startled and clutching at the quilt. Stelson looked toward her after a moment and closed his eyes, motioning her back to him while he attempted to gather himself and slow his breath. She slowly crawled back toward him and he wrapped his arm around her.

The cool night air crept its way into the hut through the wide entrance, and the bonfire that Stelson kept fueled through his ways with the spirits danced strongly tonight, illuminating the area and most of the inner part of the shelter Stelson had been dwelling in for years now. Bloodhoof Lake could be seen in the southwest, and the Lushwater Oasis of the Barrens directly east. The Tauren held his kichalo for a moment and finally stood, letting the cover fall from him completely now. The sweat that gave his fur a sheen had gone now. He crept to the entrance now and gripped a wooden beam just above his head, leaning on it as he looked around.

Stars dotted the sky above him, millions of them, and they shined brightly. Upon the hill that caught his eye, the wolves Slieru and Onateppe made themselves known. They had been looking in his direction and stood as through ready to attack with teeth bared. Instead of running, they walked cautiously toward Stelson. The Tauren looked stunned. Why would they be acting this way? He moved back inside the hut and fumbled for his axe in the dark. His fingers finally touched the long, curved, wooden handle and grasped it with both hands, swinging back around and exiting the hut. As soon as he turned the corner, he fell back upon seeing the wolves had already closed the distance and were snarling at his feet, biting at the air and pulling back, gauging him. He stamped his hoof into the dust and shouted "Enough!" to which the wolves simply replied: "Free us."

Slieru and Onateppe then shrieked in unison with an unearthly voice: "Yyyyyou failed me! Deserted me!" Stelson stood up now, both hands holding tight to the axe. He had no intention of hurting them, rather he was trying to deflect their attacks. He furrowed his brows. "You deserted ME! You made your choice, you took your path and I stayed! There is nothing more I can say! Why are you doing this?!" As he said this, the wolves howled loudly and erupted into searing ash and stone, taking the place of their usual manifestation, and overtook him. He roared as his fur became singed and the heat burned his skin.

Stelson woke abruptly. He shouted at the top of his lungs and snapped his head from side to side, his breath ragged. His mind began to race. What was happening? He looked over toward the corner of his hut, and Eva was there, once again shaking with fear and clutching at the quilt. Something felt different this time. A pang, then a burning sensation in his hand. He clutched at it and seethed until the pain suddenly subsided, as if nothing had happened at all. He turned his hand and, upon his palm, was a strange scar that had incredible detail of something that looked like the twin wolves, and both of them looked at him as he stared back.

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((Banbuu: ))

Ban rolled out of the makeshift bed he'd made from bits of grass ripped up the night or two before and a hide borrowed from a relatively close Tauren village.

Being a hermit up in the hills was at least better than being a mana crazed mostly drunken lunatic. Right?

Just then a sharp breeze went by that made him shiver. Nuts to being sober.

He picked up a flask from outside the hut just large enough to fit a person and took a drink of the bourbon.

Now he was just a mostly drunken lunatic... no way to get mana up here.

Also no way to get laid up here.

He sat and stared out into the fading night a long while, feeling the pre-morning cold on his bare arms.

Why the hell was he up here again?

A brief thought of his old friend Marowit came to mind.

Oh right. It was because of that wonderful... prude bastard.

Reaching behind him to grab a hide from further inside the hut to wrap around himself he caught sight of something. SOmething was stuck to his shoulder. He couldn't quite see it.

It was there, right? Not like on of those strange things wriggling in the corners of his vision. Yes, it really was there.

He brought his hand back and placed it on the spot on his shoulder. He could just barely see it when he strained his neck as far back as he could... but he couldn't really feel it.

He felt around in his bed. Had he rolled on something? Was he bleeding? Was it a bruise... but he'd thought most of those had healed by now.

Having lost the ability to see colors quite like he used to he couldn't quite tell what it might have been.

Wouldn't he be able to feel it though? Had he lost that completely as well?

He took another drink.

Whatever.

Bringing the hide around himself he laid back down.

-------------------------------

((Marowit: ))

It had been far too long since he'd slept. The sun would be up soon... though he doubted he'd be able to see it anyways.

Icecrown was a horrid place and if not for the persistence and fortitude of the others in the Argent Crusade Marowit was certain he'd be long dead... his flesh being devoured by... green... disgusting... overexposed teeth...

He gave a shudder.

He just couldn't stand thinking about walking dead... unfortunately this included his Horde allies. It took a lot of work to stop from shaking around the forsaken... and here he was now in the middle of the land of the living scourge.

What was he even doing here?

He'd been a diplomat, now he was chucking around little feeble balls of healing goodness in the hopes that they wouldn't all get their brains eaten out by...

He suddenly felt faint and knew he had to change his train of thought or his rations they called dinner would revisit him.

Sitting on the cot he'd been calling his bed, Marowit removed his muddy shoes with a loud thud.

How much of that dirt had once been something living?

He pondered the usual dark thoughts he'd been having since being posted in these equally dark territories as he pulled off his gloves, stained with last stance battles and narrow victories.

Ugh... how did he still get something on his hands?

Absentmindedly he stood and walked to the basin of water that had been set nearby for him. At least he was being treated a bit better since his skills for healing had improved.

After washing his hands he reached for the thin towel laid on the table next to the basin.

What was that on his hand? Oil? He hadn't come in contact with any machinery that he could remember....

Still thinking on other things he dipped his hands into the water once again, washing it much harder this time.

Looking down after he'd finished expecting it to at least be a bit cleaner, he was very disappointed to find it there just as it had been.

It seemed even bigger in fact.

He brought his hand closer to the candle lighting the room and squinted.

It was just black skin on the back of his hand left... surrounding a tiny puncture mark... smokey... like it was...

Fear gripped him suddenly.

He gripped the towel and dunked it into the basin, then began scrubbing his hand furiously, causing it to blister, but the black haze remained.

But he was wearing gloves! His hands should have been safe!

Was this even how the walking death was spread? Should he tell someone? What would they do to him? Would he become one of the allied undead, or a mindless scourge? Would he hurt his own friends? Would they hurt him or try to help him find a cure? Was there a cure?

Giving up scrubbing at his hand, he had a sudden idea.

He placed his other hand on the blackened wound and cast a healing spell, the tent lighting up briefly then vanishing to leave him in dim silence.

He didn't want to remove his hand to see the results... but he'd have to, wouldn't he.

Marowit removed the hand slowly and saw the mark still there before he'd even lifted his second finger.

-------------------------------

((Rehdd: ))

She was staring.

Large clockworks churned away inside her head. Slowly but irreversible.

If she killed them all... who would be the beasties then?

Was it possible to kill them all?

She lacked the words to think of the conclusions to her own thoughts and this upset her.

Words.

Little bumps that came through the air... some sounded nice and others sounded nasty.

She'd learned a few as of late... some were bumpier than others in fact... and some she didn't know the meaning of. Some seemed to upset people when she said them, and some made them laugh. Sometimes the same word had a different effect on different people.

Was this a way to tell which the beasts were? Would it be those who laughed or those that scolded her?

She supposed it would have helped if she knew what the words meant.

He foot was bothering her today.

Which was strange because she hadn't been able to feel her foot for many years.

Should she look at it?

Should she reward it for it's bad behavior?

Rehdd had tried the passive technique... but this seemed to be failing. Something about her foot was just irritating the crap out of her. It didn't hurt... or itch... or tickle... or burn... or move oddly... but there was something there... She could just feel it.

It had followed her out of her box garden... so she'd stopped suddenly right then and there and pretended to be dead already. Perfectly still. Mid-stride. The sun had come up long ago.

Perhaps it would go away. The nastiest beasts always referred live prey.

Many of her fellow lambs in disguise had passed by her wondering... the large bright pink one had even picked her up and placed her back into her box garden bellow their tall gray cave... but she was not about to let the beast know she wasn't really dead.

So stiff as a board she remained... though being back in the dark and by herself did not seem to comfort her today.

If it devoured her Rehdd would not be able to protect her lambs... and then it would be safe to breed in the dark dankness of her box garden.

...

Rehdd was screaming inside her head.

She couldn't take it any longer. Better to die fighting the beast than laying down before it on a plate.

She rotated her sockets down to the foot to sneak a peak.

Nothing.

In her boot?

She knelt down slowly... then yanked off the boot, nearly taking the foot with it.

There it was... just below her skin. In the missing parts. Pretending it wasn't there.

But Rehdd could see it.

Rehdd would show it how she deals with spotty spots!

Angrily she removed the leg with a loud pop and chucked it onto the floor.

After staring at it a few moments she went to go back up the stairs leading out of her box garden and back into the round tall cave... and fell over.

Having only one foot she found she now had to crawl... and so she did. Nails digging into the wood, and a few exposed joints raking across the stone floor and wood of the boards up the creaky stairs she slowly made her way back up to the common room of her guild tower while chuckling to herself.

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The end of the day had come so quickly for the warlock, a long and exhausting week coupled by the oddest feeling of drowsiness that had come over him. It took every bit of will he had that evening to make the trek down from the scryer's tier to his tent in the lower city, where he all but collapsed on the mattress.

If he'd known the sort of nightmares that awaited him in his slumber, however, he'd have made more effort to stay on his feet. The warlock slept little as it is, and hardly for extended periods of time. He was used to the murmurings of creeping madness that those with his power often eventually suffered, but they'd never been coherent enough to form words, no, they'd always been mere noises.

Not this time.

"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?"

"YOU SAID THIS WAS SAFE. YOU SAID YOU HAD EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL!"

"HOW COULD YOU?!"

The shrieks of the innocent and the not-so-innocent as their souls were ripped from them, their bodies reduced to empty husks. The screams of alliance, experienced and non, burning to death as their flesh fueled the fel-tinged flames. The sobs of a few unfortunate horde, caught off guard and experimented on before being disposed of some how. Every curse on his life, every insult, every plea for mercy reverberated in his mind at an ear shattering volume. And beneath or over the noise (he couldnt tell anymore) a question was repeated to him.

"All this carnage. Destruction. Ruin. Misery. All has come about because of your whim. For what? You claim "for the sake of further knowledge. There is no right and wrong. Only necessary. Well. Was all this necessary?"

Try as he might to reply, any noise he made was drowned by the shrieking of souls.

"If its so necessary, why have you stopped? Do you know everything?"

He had no answer

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

With a jolt Duroxas awoke, siting upright and rigid, panting. Early morning sunlight flitted through the entrance to the tent. The air around him felt incredibly hot, his heartbeat rapid, and as he pressed his hand to his head he found himself with a fervorously high temperature. But the epicenter of the heat was not his forehead, but his shoulder, and it didn't take him long to notice an odd black marking on it.

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Always have to go to such great lengths for other people’s problems. The things done behind their backs so that they never know the shadows that ever envelope them, oh what shadows.

Keldorin looked down at the drake on which he was riding on, a large elegant creature by the name of Helvarian. His recent exploits had earned him the service of this newly born black drake, exploits that had cost him dearly. Without the sufficient strength to heal his own wounds at this time Keldorin would simply have to bare the atrocious burn marks that covered the better part of the left side of his face.

He let go of the drake’s reigns with his left hand and ran his fingers along his burned cheek. “Never as easy as it sounds.” He thought to himself quite solemnly.

Keldorin reached down and tapped the drake on the neck and asked to be taken down to the snowy wastelands of Dragonblight that lay below them. The drake descended without hesitation.

The drake’s weight made its feet sink deep into the snow. Keldorin clambered off of it and trekked away from it into the snow. If it wasn’t the pain along the side of his face it was certainly the amount of energy he had just used. Not the first time this would happen, and not the last.

Keldorin dropped to his knees in the snow and heaved up a disgusting mess. He leaned to his left and fell in the snow to lay there a moment. The snow felt cool against the burned side of his face, the constant stinging was clouding his thoughts, if not that certainly his sight. He could barely see out of his left eye. He tried to move his right arm forward but knew it wasn’t worth fighting his body for. He closed his eyes.

The nightmares had come back. The screams of anguish wracked his mind, his ears seared with pain under the intensity of the wailing. Images of terrible plagues rotting the flesh of old comrades, undead legions spilling blight to the land. Brothers, soldiers, friends; falling under the blades of fleshless soldiers and rising back up to fight alongside their killers.

Keldorin’s eyes fluttered open; he jolted awake frantically attempting to get his bearings. His left eye almost useless under the dim light of what he finally concluded to be a large cave. His new friend must have taken him here after he passed out. He looked around for any signs of the creature but only found a fire that burn bright right in front of where he had been laying.

He finally sank back down in front of the fire, tired, but unwilling to let himself go back to sleep. Keldorin sat alone in the cave, alone for the first time in a long time.

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She grinned, marching through Acherus toward Lord Thorval. Langara looked almost triumphant, proudly carrying an ornately jeweled box that was worse for wear. And a little bloody.

***

Two days prior, at midnight, Langara had been sitting in the corner of her room, hugging her knees and staring at that jeweled box as if it were going to come to life and attack her.

A strange compulsion prodded her to reach into her old things and pull out the box. In the fray after the battle at Light's Hope, she'd run and retrieved it before anyone feeling greedy for the jewels could take it. It wasn't about the gems. They were just part of the performance. The persuaders, though. They were everything.

Even her soulblade, which could be argued to contain her very existence, fell second to those persuaders. Fortunately, it wasn't a state of either-or. She could have both.

Now those persuaders terrified her. Just the other day, hadn't Keldorin said something about torture being against the Pale Heart's ways? That wasn't her way anymore either, now that she could choose.

He had said it with good reason. Until this night she hadn't thought on it again. She was huddled against the wall, scratching mindlessly at a charred burn on her shoulder, staring at that box. All she could hear was her own screaming thoughts.

The memories flew at her faster than even she could understand, it was like nothing she'd ever experienced before. All those interrogations, screaming Scarlet Crusaders and silent Argent Dawn. The one who wouldn't cry out.

Langara knew how to paint with pain, to arrange the different colors of it. Red and throbbing, white-hot and lancing, grey and inescapable. She could make them hear the pain whether they screamed or not. They would hear it between their ears and it would overtake them only to recede and return again. They would sweat and cry and pray to their ever-so-holy Light. Then they'd tell her whatever she asked.

The Light never heard them.

She always did her work so well. Work she hoped to never do again. But the temptation was there. She didn't want to feel it, to feel the desire to peel away lies and pluck out the truth. To hold such power of persuasion.

Hiding there, on that stone floor, staring at that box, the need was stronger now. There was no where to even apply this pressure. But it would be fun, wouldn't it?

And wrong. And not her. Not anymore. No.

No matter how much she swatted the tendrils away, they came back and wove their way into her thoughts again.

Distraction didn't help, either. They would simply return, with screaming and blood and the promise of strength.

Just before daybreak, she gave in.

Dawn found her quarters unoccupied, save for a spilled bag of Scourge paraphernalia.

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It had been another all-nighter.

Svetlaena Ascent, soon to be an Ascent no longer, stood on the balcony high above Dalaran. A messy stack of graded papers was strewn over the table behind her, finished after hours of work and ready to be handed back to her students. Dark circles hung under eyes that stared blankly down at the city, which was just starting up its day. One by one the lamp-posts went out below and the stars vanished above, and the rosy light of morning was setting in.

Ding, ding, ding, went her engagement ring against the railing as she tapped her fingers. Clink, clink, went her hated silver bracelet, on the other arm, as she rocked back and forth on her heels, trying to stay awake. And she hadn't realized the maddening rhythm she had created for herself.

A sudden wave of light-headedness struck her and she gripped the rail, the city of Dalaran spinning below her. At first she thought it was only the exhaustion, but it persisted, and she grit her teeth. The wind was making strange sounds in her ears, too soft to hear... but she looked to a strand of her hair in her face, hanging perfectly still. There was no wind.

It grew, steadily, rising to a murmur. Words, but she could not distinguish them. The Professor shook her head and straightened her back, trying to come to grips with herself. It was nothing she hadn't dealt with before, voices in her head. She blamed the overnight work. She shouldn't have stayed up so late chatting with Alirah and then tried to do all this work. If she could just schedule correctly, she could have just gotten some sleep and finished her grading in the morning before her lecture, but she hadn't ever been very organized...

Stop trying to cover me up with your idle mental chatter!

In an instant, the Professor found herself unable to think at all. She swatted at her shoulder, trying to catch the perpetrator of the sting she had just felt, but came up empty-handed. The tiny pain lingered, spreading with the sensation that she'd just been burned, and soon she was gripping at her shoulder, hissing in agony.

Svetlaena grabbed the shoulder of her dress, pulling it down just enough to see a smoky black mark on her skin. The pain faded, subsiding to a dull ache, but it was emblazoned there. She scratched at it; it remained. She picked at it, even began to bleed, but it was going nowhere fast.

Die, die, die! Die for all the sins you have committed. For the Alliance you have tortured and murdered, for the Horde you have simply watched fall without raising a healing hand. For all the people you have betrayed, for the daughter you failed to save. DIE!

“What the fel are you doing, you idiot!” And something had grabbed at her untainted arm, jerking her backward with so much force her foot slipped and there was nothing beneath.

Professor Ambershire was staring at her with a mixture of shock, anger and worry in her blue eyes, but more importantly than that, only one foot and her colleague's grip were keeping Svetlaena from falling to the streets of Dalaran far below. When had she gotten on this side of the rail, when she didn't even recall moving?

Adelle jerked at the arm, and the blood elf got her footing back, climbing carefully back to the safe side of the rail with the other woman's help. Once they were both standing there, taking in what had just happened, her senior Professor shook her head. “You look horrible.”

“Thanks,” Svetlaena replied with a smirk, pulling her dress fully back into place. Nothing in Adelle's face indicated she had seen the mark, but who was to say she hadn't? She wasn't a Professor for nothing, either.

“Get some rest.” The blonde turned, heading back inside the building. “I'm rescheduling your lecture.”

“But--”

“No. You are not going to appear in front of your students like that.”

She was right. She always was. But rather than getting some sleep, the Sin'dorei headed down to the Sunreavers' Sanctuary, making for the portals. There was someone she had to talk to, and it wasn't just because she was sure he'd know about such dark things.

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Kirai pushed the doors of the Grey Tower open slowly, cautiously peeking in. Upon entering the Guild Hall she took off in a sprint toward one of the tall bookshelves and used it as a ladder to scale the wall. Upon reaching the top, she hurled herself from it to snag one of the rafters with her hand.

She climbed up and crawled over to her usual spot, digging frantically through a bag of her belongings kept up there.

She pulled a spare pair of gloves and hastily slipped them on, covering her right hand first, sighing in slight relief. She glanced down at the floor, jolting slightly as there was someone there… but it didn’t look like anyone she knew…

What looked to be a young female Blood Knight stood far below her at the front door. She seemed to stare eerily up at her, slowly raising a pointed finger towards her. She wore a hateful, vengeful expression that shook Kirai to the very bone. The Blood Knight mouthed something that Kirai couldn’t understand and disappeared, seemingly dissolving in thin air.

...She shook her head, taking in a few shuddering breaths. After a few moments of composing herself, she took a few more of her belongings from her sack and leaped down from the rafters, landing on all fours with the finesse of a cat, hurrying toward the front doors again.

She pushed them open to flee into the open air of Northrend, convincing herself that what she had just seen was nothing more than her imagination.

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I fear that I am slowly decending into a more...primal nature. Everyday...the visions and flashbacks worsen...her face is everywhere...in the rocks...the ground...and in the faces of many dead men and women. "Why? Why do you torture me so? Can you not leave me at peace...Lorna?" I still see the thing I am "destined" to be...a demonic monster...the darkness grows...feeds off my rage...hatred...and sorrows. I can still see it...well...me, that is...my eyes were blood red...my face was covered with blood...teeth were now fangs...and my fingers were razor-sharp claws...the bodies of men, women, and children lay strewn allover..."Am I meant to become a monster? A savage beast?" I've tried to keep it under my control...and yet it's slowly clawing it's way out...and my memories are feeding this demon within...no priest nor paladin has responded to my pleas...my mind is slowly going to pieces...please...won't anyone help me?

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In a quiet corner of Dalaran, she meditated. Her eyes closed to the outside world, yet open to worlds beyond, focused on the flow of energy throughout her tiny pocket of the universe. In her mind's eye, colors swirled and clashed with each other. She saw beyond the city, beyond Northrend, beyond Azeroth itself. She also saw within, beyond her skin, her mana, her soul. Within and without her, she connected. She felt. She saw.

The serene arcane hum of the violet city rang in the silent morning air. The room she resided in was small, draped in exotic stitching from the broken Draenei of the Lower City. The colors, the ornate stitching, a symbol of their culture, their identity, the years of suffering...

Suffering.

Her eyes strained, and her heart sank. So much suffering. From where? From who? And why? She struggled to maintain her focus. In her mind's eye, the colors began to dim, awash in darkness. In her ears, the hum of arcane dissipated, drowned by whispers, tears, sobs, growls, yells...

Screams.

The voices began to scream in her head, assaulting her mind. Her vision was masked my the darkness. She sat, grimacing yet resolute, struggling to understand this encroaching shadow, the voices of the suffering multitude. The bombardment overwhelmed her, and she collapsed to the floor, limp and waning in her consciousness. It was then she heard it...heard them...

You did so much for her...

You took her under her wing when she was alone. You brought her up under your command, your order. You taught her how to defend herself, how to be courageous, even when the odds were stacked against her. You taught her loyalty, truth, and honor. You gave her the power of the Light, to wield for her own. She was your student, your ward, your daughter...

And then you left her. You left her alone when your sins caught up to you. You betrayed her and left her to fight her own battles.

We know. We know because we witnessed these things. We saw. We rejoiced. We wept.

And now she is marked. Marked for her suffering, for her sins and your own. She will suffer in exile like you did, and others will suffer for her cowardice. A pity, the fierce captain, the brave soldier, running in fear of something she should have expected...

She awoke, her head throbbing in pain. Evening was just setting in now in Dalaran. From the back of the room, her trusted companion, a small floating beholder, blinked at her, its eye locked on hers.

"Beholder, show me..."

The beholder nodded, and at once, its eye glowed in the dark room, the eerie luminescence highlighting the glittering decorations of the drapes about the room and bathing her bare, pale figure. Her own eyes glistened over in a silvery light, their visions connected, looking beyond the walls of the floating city...

Her infinite gaze fell on the city of Silvermoon, in an upstairs room of the Wayfarer's Rest. She saw two women, both in tears. One robed and fair skinned, her hair tied back in a neat ponytail. She tried to comfort the other, a tanned and strong woman, dressed in a short blouse and slacks, a proud blade slung at her side, and something more ominous etched on her stomach...

The mark.

"Raynell..." she whispered.

The marked woman pushed away her comforter, suddenly bounding to the lower floor of the tavern and running away. The vision suddenly dissipated, the glowing eye of the beholder dimmed.

She shook her head, now aware of the happenings. Aware of what had to be done. She was the Lady of the Blessed Clutch, former knight-commander and teacher to her only living student, who now stood on the brink of losing herself.

She would not allow it. It was ingraned in herself, and her ward. Loyalty and dedication to your allies.

From her bed, she collected her armor. As she suited herself, her eyes caught sight of her right palm. Again, she was overcome with a sinking feeling. She gritted her teeth, closing her hand into a fist. Her eyes gazed upon the drapes around the room. She recalled the Broken who sewed their suffering into their tapestries. The suffering was hers, now, and Raynell's, and countless others.

She looked away, her eyes cast on the floor as she donned her mask. She knew when this darkness passed, there would be plenty of new tapestries weaved in suffering...

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Zob’jun punched the wall as hard as he could, again, and again, and again. He wasn’t too fond of Orgimmar, but were he still in Dalaran or Shattrath he probably would have broken his hand by now on the stone walls there, not as though it really mattered, he could always turn to his brother. He punched the wall again, but this time his fist landed on a wooden post. The troll cussed loudly and shook his hand, as if that would make the pain go away while the priest in question ran down the stairs to investigate.

“What in the light’s name are you doing!?! Where the hell have you been? Do you have any idea what time it is!?!”

Zob’jun sucked on his knuckle a bit longer before answering. “Punchin’ your wall, around, and about midnight or so.”

“Why are you punching the wall in the middle of the night!?!”

Zob’jun bowed his head and combed his hands though his bright red hair. “Fuck… I don’t know..”

Leaning forward Xo’vad squinted at the hunter standing in his living room. “What-What happened to your hand? Are you hurt?”

Zob’jun froze, his fingers still tangled in his hair. “Well, I just punched a wooden post-“

“No, not that, that… thing on the back of your right hand.” The priest walked over and taking Zob’jun hand in his own, traced the mark with his index finger. “Is that- is that an anchor?”

Zob’jun pulled his hand away from his brother and raised it up to look at it. “Well fuck, I guess it is.”

“Why would you get an anchor tattooed to your hand?”

“I… didn’t...? did I?” Zob'jun stared at the mark for a few seconds, dumbfounded.

“Maybe you should get some rest.”

“Yeah... yeah, maybe I should.”

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((The pieces of the Extended version of this story can be found here. The pieces found in this thread are written to be stand-alone, but make a little more sense when placed into context presented in the extended portions. This post is considered to be the first part.))

---

“Dammit...”

The pale elf cursed as he sat on a tree stump and surveyed his surroundings, reflecting on what had lead him here.

From a distance, the man and his servant, a gaunt, hunchbacked individual, would have appeared to be standard adventurers, lightly armed and armored for the purposes of going about their business.

From a distance, the truth was easy to see for the enlightened, thanks to the glowing blue runes that danced along the pale elf’s blade.

Moriol Solisar, one of the first of the newest generation of Death Knights, and his ghoul-servant, Niles, had found themselves on another goose chase. Every two-copper rumor and lead would send them flying to this or that corner of not just Azeroth, but Outland as well.

The mission, in essence, was simple: Find a way to save Erohol. No matter how much Moriol wanted to see Erohol dead, Moriol would not allow Erohol to die in any way other than being bested in honorable combat at the end of his blade.

He had not eaten or slept in weeks, preferring to travel by night and search during the day. Any possible reagent or ingredient that could be put to the task of aiding his cousin was not to be neglected. After countless trials and tests he finally began to believe that he was making headway.

Moriol had had no luck with the Consortium- he had been lead to believe that of anyone, the Consortium would be able to provide him with the things that he needed to continue his mission. They had claimed to never heard of some of the things that Moriol had spoken of, and so turned him away at all major trading posts. Like all groups and organizations however, Moriol knew that even the Consortium had rogue agents and outcasts who would be more knowledgeable than their contemporaries. Yet every single one of them refused to speak with him... Apparently, his temper had gotten the best of him with the Consortium back in Shattrath, and his reputation proceeded him.

Moriol was beginning to grow tired... No one was helping him. Even Niles had lost his ability to provide casual conversation to keep him from feeling truly alone. The last time Moriol had spoken openly of his plight to Erohol’s friends, they dismissed him entirely, almost as though they simply did not care that Erohol’s life was in danger. Then again, he couldn’t blame them for thinking that perhaps he was just feigning his desire to aid Erohol so that he could get close to him and finish him off. He hadn’t exactly been civil in his attempts to exact revenge in the past.

Moriol knew that he was the one that had driven Erohol to those ends. Moriol knew that it was his fault that Erohol was not simply about to die, but about to be completely obliterated. And Moriol could never forgive himself for this. His actions were the ultimate disgrace to both him and his family. Moriol would never again call himself a “Solisar”.

Moriol sighed as he turned his attention to his ghoul - it was Moriol’s fault that Niles was a ghoul after all, and all this reflecting on the past was starting to wear at him. Moriol knew that he was a disgrace and a monster, and that his behavior and actions in the past were completely inexcusable. He would never be able to walk into Silvermoon again... And for a moment, he was alright with that.

As he watched Niles putter around the area, Moriol relaxed. Despite the welcome familiarity he felt watching the ghoul, he could not help but realize the truth... He was watching a reanimated and rotting corpse walk around, making the occasional moan, groan, or grunt. Had he seen such a thing in life, Moriol would have struck out to kill it, or fled.

But he wasn’t alive anymore... He was little better than Niles. The only thing that differentiated the two of them was that Niles could not think. Niles was completely unintelligent. Niles could not communicate.

And yet, as Moriol caught Niles’ gaze, their stares locked, and in the back of his head, Moriol heard a soft voice whisper, “We are dead. We are family.” Thinking it his imagination, Moriol shook his head quietly and beckoned for Niles to follow.

“There’s one more person I want to speak with before we head back to Azeroth...”

Beneath his armor, a softly glowing mark had formed on Moriol’s chest.

---

((Next Entry---> Part 2))

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Skaadvik did not sleep well. He had never slept well, but this time is was worse. He had not thought for many years about the things he had done before he was a Paladin...

The Warlord stood atop a rise looking down into the massive Hinterlands valley, a fierce longblade at his side and a wooden round shield on his back. His fur clothing flowed in the wind, his loose hair tousled by the same breeze. He was wearing his tribal warpaint, a neat black handprint fully covering half his face. On his chest were numerous designs all given him by the young and women of his village. Just to the left of his heart was one no-one had given him, one that should not have been there. The Warlord was clearly oblivious to it.

"Fisk, Geri, make ready our men! We ride at dusk."

The two massive soldiers standing behind him nodded, turning and heading back to their warcamp, greataxe and hammer respectively slung over their shoulders.

"Look alive, men! We ride for Zim'torga at dusk! Everyone up, get ready you sorry sons of whores!"

Skaadvik turned now, and strode back through his camp, surveying his men. They had killed many Trolls, and would kill many more before they were finished waging this war. The last battle's dead were still burning on the pyres away from the camp, but the smell of burning flesh was inescapable. As he made his way toward the back of the camp, he noticed something strange. A man, one of his, readying a horse but seeming to be preparing to head the opposite way... away from the camp and the battle.

"You there!"

He roared at the man.

"Where d'you think you're going!?"

The man turned, a bit taken aback by the sudden shouting. He looked up at his leader, his Warlord.

"I... can't do it anymore. I don't want to kill, and I don't want to fight. I want to be with my family."

Skaadvik looked down at the man, his eyes darkening and his mouth twisting into a scowl. He quickly grabbed the man by his cloak and drug him to the center of the camp, half-choking him.

"Men! Warriors! Rally to me! Listen and listen very damn well!"

As the men filed toward the center of the camp, forming a large circle around the Warlord and the now cowering man. Skaadvik's prowess as Warlord and as a warrior was unquestioned and quite well-known. Just as well known was his brutality and often downright cruelty. This man knew that whatever was in store for him, it would not end well.

Skaadvik surveyed his men briefly, and then bagan.

"I have led us to many victories, and this land has been made better for us by them. I only ask one thing of all the men under my command, and that is to fight and die with courage and without fear."

He pulled up on the man's cloak, forcing him to stand now.

"We should all be so blessed as to die a warrior's death. Cowardice is not acceptable from any who I command!"

Having said this, Skaadvik dropped the man to his knees and just as he fell to the ground, Skaadvik drew his sword and beheaded the would-be deserter in one fluid motion. He stood then, tipping his head back toward the heavens, arms spread wide with blood pooling around his feet, and roared...

"Without fear! We will slaughter those who stand before us! We ride now, for Zig'torga. Spare not a single man, woman, or child! Slay them all!"

Snarling and laughing madly, Skaadvik began to race down the hill, his men behind him, straight for the Troll town. The previously inconspicuous mark on his chest was glowing a fierce crimson.

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((Previous Entry of Extended Story ---> Part 5))

---

Moriol had no luck with the shaman. If he didn’t know better, he’d have begun to suspect that his words were coming out of his mouth in complete babble.

His return to Azeroth was mostly uneventful, save for the near constant buzzing in his ears of his imagination.

“Fear the Reaper...!”

“This is the hour of the Scourge...!”

“Let Blood drown the weak...!”

“I am but a shadow of my former self...”

“The sleeper awakes...”

The voices of what he could only suspect were his former comrades continued to ring in his ears the closer he got to the Undercity, where his next contact was. As he approached the main gates of what was once Lordaeron, the voices in his head seemed to hush - something that he was thankful for. He would have complained about the lack of company if the voices were not about to drive him insane.

The entrance to the city was suspiciously quiet. Usually some of the din from below would escape into the air. Out of respect, Moriol bowed his head to the empty throne. He could not bring himself to lift it from the moment he entered the city to the moment he left. His business in the city took much less time than he had believed it would. He justified it with the idea that it wasn’t a time consuming process to be turned away.

The city was even quieter than the entry-way had been - even for a city of the Dead...

As he passed the throne once more on his way out of the city, a woman’s voice broke the silence.

“Moriol Solisar...?”

---

((Next Entry ---> Part 7!))

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((Banbuu: ))

Banbuu woke as usual, long into the afternoon. HE was slightly dehydrated but there was a nice little pond nearby. Tiny but it worked well enough.

After laying there deciding whether getting up was worth the prize of water yet, eventually he decided it was and rolled out of the hut.

He stood, he stretched, he yawned, he adjusted his grubby clothing, which had changed drastically within the past year. He'd slowly become immersed in the cultures which surrounded him. Beads, feathers, various piercings, colorful dyes on scraps of leather... and lots of scars along with these other accessories.

He took a couple of steps towards the pond and the world broke beneath his feet.

It shattered and fell into a greenish haze.

Well... this certainly was new.

Ban paused and looked around.

Yup... it was definitely the squiggles from the corners of his vision. They were all over now.

Maybe they ate up his mind finally.

Off in the distance he could still see the pond... all of it. He could even see the part that was supposed to be underground.

So he walked towards it.

What else was there to do?

--------------------------

((Marowit: ))

It wasn't coming off.

His skin was a bit... though the blackened dead area stayed as black and dead as ever. It was like it was burnt tree bark.

Maybe it was some dye from inside his gloves? He grabbed his gloves from off the floor... his... light blue gloves.

No, it couldn't be anything. There were no tears on his gloves.

He sat on his bed, turning the gloves over and over... both a bit relieved and a bit more afraid.

No. It was a good thing there weren't any punctures or rips. It meant something couldn't have infected him... right?

Maybe it was something else.

He must've been sitting there quite a while staring at the gloves. He barely noticed the pale white Icecrown sun coming through the cracks of his tent, but the sudden sound of wind brought him out of his deep and worried thought.

He should get some sleep while he could. He decided he'd tell someone before going out on his next mission.

He undid his belt and laid down, not bothering to take off his robes.

And laid there.

Usually he'd fall right asleep after his head hit the pillow... but he could feel the thing on his arm. Like he was missing a part of himself. Like what was there belonged to someone else.

There!

Did it just...?

He pulled his arm out and squinted in the dim.

He swore it looked a bit bigger.

Marowit decided it couldn't wait. He wouldn't be able to sleep anyways.

He stood and took a few good steps to the door of his tent, not bothering to place his shoes and gloves back on.

It was a bit of a shock seeing everyone dead, mangled, and half eaten.

---------------------------

((Rehdd: ))

Rehdd brooded, her usual pile of bones and red cloth sitting on a chair cushion. She was indistinguishable from rags apart from two glowing orbs that peeked out from the hood and gazed at the fire thoughtfully.

None of the chair legs worked.

The candle stand didn't either.

There was a sword that almost worked... but the large pink one wanted it back. He did however put a long branch in it's place.

Rehdd stared at it a bit... then clicked around in a few circles.

It was much too loud. They'd be sure to find her this way.

She took a deep breath... though having no lungs it sounded more like a rasp and a rattle combined.

She'd need her leg.

She would have to wait out the spotty spot until it grew more tired than Rehdd. She'd have to wait until it came to eat her. Then Rehdd would eat IT!

She cackled a bit to herself while sinking of the chair and resetting herself, and getting her large friendly axe out. It would know what to do.

Posing herself something like a broken tripod, she shambled back to the stairs. Her axe scraped along the floor behind her, the handle held in her teeth.

She kicked the door open with one of her hands, then continued her shambling descent.

About halfway down was when she saw it.

A black form shifting out from her discarded leg, claiming it as it's own leg. Thick black fur, and familiar hungering eyes.

Rehdd was happy she wouldn't have to wait long. She growled, teeth gritted on the axe to show it how overjoyed she was that it would soon die under her blade.

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She was walking, pacing rather, hurredly on a balcony overlooking the city she'd come to call a temporary home: Silvermoon. The elven form was the most adaptable to magic, and most in tune to her native fire, soit was only a fitting guise when among the mortals. Her crimson finery dragged on the floor behind her, flowing and dancing gracefully with sweeping motions every time she turned. Her lips however were pursed, amber eyes with serpentine pupils narrowed, her brow furrowed in thought. She did this always when she was faced with a puzzle, even home, though she would be flying then, but whenever one was hurting with no feasible way to save them.

She had met a madman today. There were several among the elves. Some from mana deprivation, some simply overburdened from the truamas their kind had been forced to endure, others simply hurt in times past, like she was. But this one, this one had been different. She had smelled the pain around him, but it was deeper, but untraceable. She had talked to him, and there were only brief moments when he was able to interact at all. Aldr had been his name, and she of course had given him the name "Lady Nelistra Rosso'thendal." A lie, of course, but few are comfortable with the thought of a great fire-breathing lizard walking among them. Her early experiences had taught her that much. But with the insane, she was always able to talk to them, to find some morsel of clarity, and to aid them...

But not this one...

It was almost like his mind was absolutely destroyed...but there was no sign that anything had been done to him, not by any mage or warlock. She had recounted every little symptom she had encountered, and nothing matched up. She should have just let him be, but she should have done many other things with her life also. With a sigh, she fell back into a chair, not as graceful as an elf, no. Her grace was in the air. She rubbed her eyes and temples, trying to clear her head.

Spending years and years to help those who abandoned you when you needed help.

Waste of time. Waste of Life.

She stood again, and went to the balcony, grabbing the railing and looking down at the city with the faintest of frowns. She would compose herself. She'd instructed a vagrant to come to her shortly, so that she may better diagnose why he constantly felt the need to break a bottle whenever anyone said "Gnome." Dark broodings on her past were not what she needed...

Ungrateful. Anonymous. Help them and they betray. Such worthless worms, all of them.

She swatted her left hip idly, the memory of the madman holding her there entirely forgotten. Bugs were prone to bite here and there, weren't they?

Living among the worms because your family thought you broken. How pathetic.

Netharion.

Broken.

Ungrateful.

Waste.

Life.

Death.

Eons.

Useless.

She had broken out in a sweat, and she forced herself away from the balcony, rubbing at her temples. The itch at her hip was intensifying, and she hurried to the basin to splash water in her face. She had paid good money to be left in private here, so there would be no one to check up on her. She looked up at her own reflection, and saw what was expected. The typical Elven Lady, noble, regal, proud. Everything she should be.

Then she saw the same disguise. Hair tumbling everywhere, eyes feral, teeth sharpenened and bared. Flames were licking up from her nostrils and mouth, and her robes were in tatters. Mid-way changing to her true form, there were bodies, hundreds of them, charred. Everything was burning. She was burning everything. Gods...Life Binder...She was burning it all to the ground, and loving it...

She lept backwards with a scream, and sprinted directly for the balcony, desperate to get away from that visage. She changed, she needed to fly, fly far and away from that horridness, that delightful horridness for the night. It would be better in the morning. As she lept from her balcony, she shifted, spread her wings, and was flying to the north before anyone could see. She did not look back to notice the black mark, looking like flames on her hip.

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Part 2

No matter how much energy he consumed from his own body he could not remove the burn that covered the better part of the left side of his face. Keldorin was quite distraught over this fact. Was it possibly the fact that the burn was caused by flames from a dragon?

The burn mattered less to him than the fact that his raw mana was once again failing him. It had been growing weaker and weaker as he expended more and more of it. Even with the exchange of his body’s health for the use of the energy, it seemed to be dwindling.

Keldorin was once again afraid. For some time there he felt what it was to truly be powerful, to be someone that others could depend on. He cared not for glory; his goal was that of his family, he wanted to protect them.

Why?

He had never questioned himself before, not until now. All alone in a foreign cave growing more powerless, Keldorin noted the chill that seemed to be crawling up his spine.

Why had the nightmares returned? He had slept in this cave twice now without moving. Where was this cave? Which way is out?

The screams of the past seemed to echo in these caves with blissful insanity. Not a drop of alcohol to mute the strange ambience that layered this cave.

Keldorin couldn’t figure out if he was happy or not to be interrupted from his rather dark thoughts when he heard loud stomps approaching his dim lit position. The black drake Helvarian would have been much more appreciated company over the Yeti whose cave Keldorin was occupying.

Drained of mana or not Keldorin was no push over, his sword was already in his hand before the Yeti had noticed the peculiar small pink skinned thing sitting next to the dim fire that attracted his attention. Keldorin through his hand forward to unleash a blast of raw mana at the creature, he wondered why he did this as he slid down the wall of the cave he had just been thrashed in to. He had been relying too much on it, and yet he could not. Keldorin gathered himself quickly and lunged at the beast cutting hair and flesh from the beast as it rampaged around the cave trying to catch the small armored thing.

Moments later Keldorin found himself under the foot of this large beast. His sword out of reach he had but only his bare strength to keep the beast from crushing him. No mana to blast the creature off of him, just his quickly tiring arms and legs. He accepted what would come next. It would have been easier to reason with if not for the old comrades and brothers in arms screaming in his ears. The crescendo of their cries was quite unbearable actually and he could do nothing to save them then and he could do nothing to save them now. He couldn’t even save himself.

Keldorin’s arms and legs gave way and only darkness followed; at least it was finally quiet.

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(( Mmmmm... nice developed story arc... almost touchdown. X3 ))

((Banbuu: ))

He reached the pond after what seemed like forever. The pond kept getting a bit further away as he moved towards it, and in the meantime he got a good view of the green flames surrounding his new world... or perhaps they've always been there, waiting.

The waters of the pond seemed darker than usual. Even without his ability to see colors he knew it was wrong.

He was very thirsty.

Alcohol wasn't very good at helping with that.

So Ban knelt and placed his hands into the water, forming a cup. He brought the thick dark liquid to his lips and took a cautious sip.

At first it tasted fine... but as soon as he swallowed the salty iron taste hit him. Dropping the liquid from his hands he coughed, choking on it a bit.

Now his hands were literally stained with blood.

Wasn't this turning into some nice metaphor.

Quaint.

So Ban gave up and laid next to the pond, waiting for everything to end one way or another. He simply laid there and watched the flames burning beneath, strange things floating and surfing within them.

Perhaps one of them would come eat him.

He hoped that's what the soft padding footsteps were which he suddenly heard getting closer behind him.

-------------------------------------

((Marowit: ))

All was gray and dead.

He could only stare.

A thought came across his mind. Was this somehow his fault?

He shook his head. How could this be his fault? He'd been in his tent!

Could he have helped by not hiding in his tent like the coward he was pretending not to be?

He was a healer! He couldn't have fought whatever this was off! His help alone could not have determined the end of a battle like this.

Because you give up and let it happen. You want it to happen so you can just leave.

No! He'd never wanted something like this to happen!

His thoughts came loudly and in a rush now.

That's why you sailed to help Banbuu, a spoiled little warlock in Ratchet instead of back home with your own kin to fight. You wanted a new order. You wanted them to die. You knew a battle was on the horizon and you left to play and pretend diplomat.

"I only wanted peace!" he yelled angrily. "Dammit!"

His voice echoed oddly into a silence that bothered him. After a few moments Marowit realized he'd been holding something.

White... gray, shaggy, dead. It was a leg.

Someones leg.

Held in his now completely blackened arm.

You did this.

He tried to drop the leg but couldn't get the arm to work. He tried pulling the leg away from the tainted arm with his free arm, but it was too strong. He only succeeded in ripping a few pieces of flesh sickly from it.

You did this.

-------------------------------------

((Rehdd: ))

She slid down the stairs, eyes locked with the familiar creature.

Upon reaching the last stair she took the axe in one hand, shifting it over her shoulder and leveraging it with her back, still using the other hand in place of her leg.

"Rehdd remembers you beast."

It laughed out a growl. "Got your leg" it seemed to say.

Rehdd shifted into the shadows, though the glowing eyes of her opponent followed her still... though it didn't seem to move it's head... though Rehdd traversed the corners of the room to position herself behind it.

Fine... a head on match then.

She silently hurled the axe into the air, starting it in it's sideways arc that she knew would either meet meat or miss it, and took two long scuttling jumps towards the dark figure.

Who was that?

In the instance before the large axe met it's mark the shadows were taken back like a sheet had been pulled away.

Her axe met with the shoulder of a familiar face and cleaved it in half.

She sat there silently after her axe stopped causing it's sparks as it finished it's momentum across the stone floor of the Gray tower cellar... where she'd been living among the boxes in insanity.

Clarity... and yet uncertainty hit her at the same time.

It all made sense.

This was what had gotten her.

This was what made her who she was.

Dropping the wooden handle, she slowly walked towards the bloody mass on the ground. She felt something inside her that she hadn't felt in a long time.

Not since that night.

Her hand met white hair.

Sitting on the ground next to the top half of it, not minding the growing pool of warm redness all around, she brought her other hand up to touch the glass things on her face.

That was their name. Glass... but two of them. One for each blank and cold gray blue eye. Glasses.

She knew these glasses. She knew them too well.

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Pushing a pile of saronite bombs and mammoth cutters to the side and leaning back in a wooden chair, Zob’jun propped his feet up on

“It just doesn’t make sense to me, that’s all”

Zob’jun looked up from the rifle he was cleaning. Xo'vad was standing in the doorway. “How’s that? They’re a threat to the Horde, an Alliance fortification set up in Durotar made specifically to-”

“I’m not stupid Zob’jun, I know about the night terrors, and I know what you think that mark means.”

The hunter grunted and went back to cleaning his gun. After a brief silence, Xo’vad continued. “It’s just that it hasn’t bothered you in years, when someone started using the deaths of their families as an excuse to bring suffering to others, your response was always something along the lines of ‘Welcome to Azeroth, bitch.’”

Xo’vad smiled and pulled up a chair, but his brother made no motion to respond.

“It’s just that I don’t want to lose the Zob’jun I know, and am scared that the Zob’jun I see in front of me now will take him away.”

Sitting up straight the hunter loaded a round into the chamber, causing it to emit a loud clicking sound. Xo’vad got up to leave the room but upon reaching the doorway turned around. “I remember when you came back from a meeting with the Fabled Order, you said that there was a thin line between justice and vengeance. I just hope you’ll know when you cross it.”

With that the priest left the room, leaving the hunter alone. Zob’jun took a few seconds to examine the anchor imprinted on the back oh is right hand. He stared at if for a few moments, then smiled. Chuckling to himself, he went back to tending to his gun.

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A long few days.

He didn't know what to think when he found out Svetlaena had the mark too. perhaps it was a disease going around? As the second day passed through, all he knew was the roar of vengeful memories in his ears. Already he'd had to abandon his soul bag, leaving him completely without reagents for summonings or stones.

Frantic to get his mind off the screeching, Duroxas rifled through every scroll, every sealed tome he could find that he may not have read before in his former teacher's old crypt, making a desperate bid to immerse his thoughts in knowledge and power. It didn't take him long to find the parchments that contained the more forbidden rituals that were kept form him. The scrolls he vowed never to indulge in, yet his tormented mind buzzed with excitement as he stripped them of their bindings. Many required sacrifices, souls, bloodshed.

And for the sake of knowledge, off he went to gather them. And a discovery was made: as he killed, gathered the blood, took souls, the wailing in his mind ceased, as if muted by something, to be replaced by an odd feeling of encouragement. It felt good to kill.

But by the time he had finished preparing for the first, he felt his mind go into a haze. Something was trying to influence him, to get him to continue with this slaughter, even though he'd done what he needed to do for this, trying to convince him that he was NOT content, that more had to be done.

He managed to bring up his old mantra. "There is no right and wrong, only necessary" he muttered, kneeling over the blood-drawn circle within the depths of the crypt. "ONLY necessary"

The encouragement ceased, his mind clearing.

"and I've only done what was necessary"

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Six Years Ago

"And DON'T let me catch you failing me again!" Lysimachus kicked at the fleeing servant, a tall, crystalline glass of orange juice and vodka in her hands. "GOD. Who the hell would even DRINK something like that, anyway?!" With an exaggerated flourish, the mage turned back to the work at hand. Silvermoon having recently been retaken, the lord of Dynastus Hall had a lot of work before him, in repairing the family's mansion and relocating unaccounted for relatives. He could sense that both of his sisters were somehow still alive; Yes, BOTH of them, indeed... accidents DO happen, after all. Lelania will not be missed.

Grinning wryly, he entered the as-yet uncleared Grande Ballroom, his staff at the ready for any would-be undead attackers. Hrmph... Don't we have GUARDS for this sort of thing? I mean, REALLY... Of course, he knew that the guards were all in west Silvermoon, dealing with the insurgent Wretched still present there. He gathered his courage and spoke. "Hello? Erm... Greetings, any who dare... you know, BE here! The Sun King RECLAIMS this Hall, and all that..." He looked around, squinting in the darkness, choking as a strong, rancid odor wafted around him. "Ugh, GOD... a bit of light would, I think, serve me WELL in this case." With a word, the end of his staff burst into luminescence. His eyes grew wide, and his shriek of horror which followed could be heard throughout the estate.

---

Today

"I have grown sickly again, sister."

Sabeinne paused, her eyes rising to settle upon her brother. Carefully setting the manuscript she was perusing to a side table, the Marchioness spoke. "This is unfortunate."

"Yes... it is sudden, this time. Without explanation, I should say -- and approached far swifter than before."

"We shall have to tend to it, then."

Lysimachus became rigid for a few moments, but then went slack, his eyebrows wilting. "As we always do."

"Yes, dear brother." Rising, Sabeinne tenderly placed a hand upon her sibling's shoulder. "As we always do."

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((Banbuu: ))

Something gently touched Ban's back.

"You're just gonna give up that easily, hmm?" came a familiar voice. He was obviously imagining that she was here.

"Giving up what?" he said quietly, not bothering to look. Even if she was just an illusion, he knew the look she was giving him. Narrowed eyes and her scowl that she'd used when she was still tiny and he'd pick on her.

"I dunno... everything?" Ban heard her sit and felt her pick up his head to set it on her lap. Her hands were even warm. At least it was a pleasant illusion.

"I'm going mad aren't I." Her hands as pale as his own brushed back his hair and combed it through with her fingers.

"Probably. But who isn't?"

"What am I supposed to do then? How do I not 'give up?'"

"Dunno that either... but you used to not give up. That's why you got chased all the way out here, and that's why you've been watching my little Maddy all these years."

"I'm... still watching Maddy. I keep an eye out for her." He frowned a bit.

"Yeah, but do you keep an eye out for yourself? Who would watch her if something happened to you?"

"She's... got family. Better family. She has a whole village to look after her."

"I... wouldn't count on that village being there forever."

It took him a few moments to realize the meaning of her words.

"What do you mean?"

"She'll need you very soon, and she'll need to you be ready to fight. You'll have to be strong."

"For what?" He sat up to look at her, expecting to see the pale bright blond hair that used to be the near exact match to his now sun bleached and frayed hair. Instead he saw nothing.

He reached out a hand to where he had felt her sitting only to pass through air. He touched the side of his face where her hand had been.

"Dola?" he paused a moment then took a deep breath, probably inhaling the blood from before in the process, and shouted loud as he could. "Adeola!"

Ban listened a long while to the strange sounds of flames from far below, the occasional beastly grunt or snarl making it even less comfortable.

He turned back to the blood filled pond and leaned back on his hands, staring at the green flames of the sky now. It was one of the last colors he could see it seemed.

"Careful. You're not through yet. I wasn't a part of whatever this is to tell the truth."

"Dola?" he snapped his head back around. It has sounded like it was coming from right where she'd been before. She even used the casual grammar and diction just like his sister did.

He didn't have long to think about it however, because the invisible ground began to shake violently. He stood wobbling, but fell back onto his knees. Then he just flat out fell.

The invisible barrier that separated him from the green flames had broken as well, and now he was hurtling towards the chaos below.

Hands up to his face he braced himself for some sort of burning sensation, perhaps the feeling of his body being torn to shreds by the various creatures he'd caught glimpses of before.

But there was nothing.

Slowly he opened his eyes to see a different sort of fire. Burning red and vicious. It devoured everything, crawled across the darkening surface of the world.

It was Azeroth.

It was Kalimdor... with giant cracks, terrifying pits that seemed to leak out hell.

The wind whistled past him as he sped towards it.

He began to wonder where he'd fall.

It was slowly being narrowed down... but wherever it was, he was certain it would probably be on fire.

-------------------------------

((Marowit: ))

The arm charred with death raised in defiance, gripping the chewed leg.

Letting other people die is all you're good at doing, so just embrace it.

As the arm rose, so did his gray-skinned rotting colleagues and camp mates. They shambled to their feet emitting disgusting groans.

Oh, what to do? What will poor little useless priest do?

He scowled and cast as much light at the arm as he could manage at once. Nothing. It didn't even move. It seemed to pin him in place as the shadows of soldiers and paladins came closer, reaching out their dirty nails towards him.

Maybe you should just join your unlucky 'friends' you left behind.

Rotted yellow teeth was all he could see surrounding him.

He through up a shield of holy light, and hid his face behind his good arm.

I'm already in here. Who are you trying to keep out?

"NO!" Mar shouted.

No?

"NO!" he repeated.

NO!?!?!

He felt his shoulder stiffen as the black dead skin moved up to his neck.

He shivered and knew the shield was weakening. Something screamed inside his head that wasn't him. It couldn't be him thinking such things.

NO!?!?!?! THAT'S ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY!?!?!?

His heart pounded in his ears. He couldn't hold them out much longer. Claws raked at the fading light surrounding him. It wasn't long before they began pushing in closer to him, as the last bits of light faded away.

THAT'S ALL YOU EVER HAVE TO SAY!?!?!?

He felt one of the hands grasp his shoulder.

"NOOOO!" He yelled as he felt a new energy emit from himself. It was dark and cold but it pushed everything back. He wanted it all to go away.

Tendrils of darkness coming from his gut, forcing everything back. It obliterated everything in the way. Made it all leave him alone.

Why couldn't it just leave him alone?

He let the darkness swallow him up.

-------------------------------

((Rehdd: ))

She couldn't really be here, Rehdd knew this. Rehdd was certain this particular beast had been killed long ago, enabling her own rebirth, but this apparition just forced a connection upon her that she'd been avoiding for so long.

She wished she could have been turned with her grandmother and mother... to be lost with them and most likely destroyed with them as well. She would have been a slave to her own rage and hunger, but at least she would have been with them.

It would have been better than this.

She straightened the glasses on the old woman's face, and brushed some hair that had escaped the loose bun in the blow. What an uncanny resemblance... apart from the leg that was quite obviously her own.

No... it was meant to be this way she supposed.

She didn't know why she was spared, or why she was brought back. Perhaps she'd never know, but she was here now, and would have to make the best of it.

Thinking as she was, however, hurt too much. It hurt even more knowing she had no real eyes to drop tears any longer. No real lungs to have even a good shout or sigh.

She needed to put an end to this so she could get on with business.

Though slightly less eloquent, she knew her goals would always be the same regardless. She'd always strive to rid the world of those who would hurt her friends. She'd strive to seek out wolves in sheeps clothing and destroy them before they could destroy those who had replaced the empty places that her family had once been.

These feelings she was having would only get in the way. She'd yearn too much for companionship and they'd only serve to make her more gullible.

So she wasn't very bothered by what she was about to do.

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Part 3

Keldorin always remembered hearing this strange ringing in his ears. It came and went ignored by him, but it was awfully hard to ignore it now. Why was he hearing it now? He thought long and hard about this before better placing his thoughts on the question of why he was thinking in the first place. Keldorin was in fact, quite sure that he had been crushed by a Yeti.

It was very dark here, and all he could do is think, so he thought, and he thought, and he did a little more of that thinking.

It is very hard to think with such a loud ringing however. It wasn’t really a ringing though now that he paid more attention to it. It was more of a song, a very ambient song, kind of enveloping the entire darkness. The darkness didn’t even seem so dark, in fact it was getting very bright.

It appeared to Keldorin as though the mockery of his death was to be carried out by this large singing stone creature, he recalled them being called Naaru. Getting killed by a large furry beast was surely not humiliating enough; he now would be belittled by a singing crystal creature.

He stared at it for a long moment and figured it was staring back, its song continued to grow louder and louder, this was quite annoying.

“You will understand us. You shall hear us. You shall serve us.”

Keldorin’s jaw dropped, or at least he thought his jaw dropped, he was having trouble grasping reality, it was quite strange.

“Keldorin Fallhond Emberlight, you have shunned us since birth, you shall no longer.”

Keldorin moved his mouth to speak before concluding that he didn’t seem to have a mouth, or any way of vocalizing what would be a series of questions. Keldorin also concluded that he had no jaw in which he previously would have dropped.

“You have heard the light all of your life Keldorin, now you will recognize it. You will serve it and it shall serve you.”

“Not sounding like I have very much of a choice.” Keldorin thought.

“The choice was yours from the start, it is no longer. You have never believed in the light, but it has always believed in you.”

“So, anything I think, you can hear?”

“Correct.”

“So you know I think this is utter bullshit and probably just some crazy alcohol induced dream I am having, right?”

“Your humor is lost.”

Keldorin would have given a rather large frown at this point if he could.

“Go now Keldorin with renewed strength and bring the light to your foes in Icecrown.”

Keldorin was quite amused to see a rather large Yeti staring down at him when he finally opened his eyes. He was even more amused when he disposed of the beast with holy light that cleaved the better half of the creature’s torso from its lower body.

The strange ringing had returned and muted the screams of the past. It wasn’t really a ringing; it was more of a song, a very ambient song that he felt coursing through every fiber of his being.

He looked down to his left hand which began to glow with a peaceful yellow light. He raised the glowing hand to the burn mark that covered the left side of his face. His guilt and fear were gone. Keldorin dropped his hand, the mark was gone.

Keldorin stood alone in the cave, his lips slowly curled into a grin.

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