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Writing Challenge 2015: Tadpole Tales

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Getting a late start, but my song list is as follows:

Click the link to jump to the story.

A Youtube link to the song is included in the story itself.

  1. Other Side - Red Hot Chili Peppers - Aziris
  2. Castaway - Zac Brown Band - Anura
  3. I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues - Elton John - Lomani
    (First Impression - Floyd Cramer)
  4. Dirty Laundry - Don Henley - Lomani+Kerala
    (Planet of Women- ZZ Top)
  5. Any Man of Mine - Shania Twain - Chanchu
    (Old Time Fiddle - Vince Gill)
  6. Becoming Insane - Infected Mushroom - Kerala
    (Georgia in a Jug - Blake Shelton)
  7. Sittin on the Dock of the Bay - Glen Campbell - Kerala
    (Hatari - Henry Mancini)
  8. Hurt - Johnny Cash - Kerala
    (Lonely Nights - Chris Isaac)
  9. Lost for Words - Pink Floyd - (Kerala)
    (The Sweetest Gift - Sade)
  10. Bubbly - Colbie Caillat - Chanchu
    (Maybe Tomorrow - Badfinger)
  11. Blue - A Perfect Circle - (Kerala)
  12. Slide - Dido - Aziris+Kerala
  13. She's Got The Rhythm - Alan Jackson - (Chanchu)
    (Crossfire - Stevie Ray Vaughn)
  14. Time After Time - Everything But The Girl - (Lomani)
  15. Say I - Creed - Kerala
  16. Luck Be a Lady - Frank Sinatra - Chanchu
  17. Long Road to Ruin - Foo Fghters - Aziris+Lomani
    (Invincible - Muse)
  18. Big Hunk of Love - Elvis presley - . . .
    (The Tears of a Clown - Smokey Robinson)
  19. Killing Me Softly - Roberta Flack - Ameerega
  20. Light My Fire - The Doors - Ameerega
  21. You Really Got Me - The Kings - (Kerala)
    (Hotdog - Led Zeppelin)
  22. The Bodyguard - Sally Harmon - Aziris+Kerala
  23. How Can I Hold On - Stabbing Westward - Aziris(+Lomani)
    (Rhymin and Stealin - The Beastie Boys)
  24. Marchin Free - Gaelic Storm - (Aziris)
  25. Smooth Criminal - Michael Jackson - Chanchu
  26. Viva La Vida - Coldplay - Ameerega
  27. This Is Not - Static-X - Kerala+Aziris(+Lomani)
  28. Get Up Offa That Thing - James Brown - Chanchu
  29. Like The Rain - Clint Black - Kerala
  30. Tearjerker - Korn - Lomani
    (Glamorous - Fergie)
  31. The Friend Song - The Union Underground - Kerala(+Lomani)
    (Revolution Man)

Here's how I got it (and what those parenthesis mean):

My husband helped me pick completely random songs by /rolling in-game. He rolled out of 580 to select the artist folder or loose song title from our entire collection. If he got an artist folder, he'd click it and then roll to pick the album (if more than one), then roll again to get the individual song off that album.

We did that 31 times.

THEN we went through and for each song I did not know, we would listen to it and he would then choose the first song in our vast collection that it reminded him off. It's not exactly random, but it is to me, and it was so much fun to make this list together! The songs that got replaced are the ones listed here in parenthesis. Revolution Man is a song already done once for a previous writing challenge, so it was simply a reroll to pick a different song within the same album.

Now that I've got my list, it's time to get writing!

Please note- links to youtube songs/videos are NOT tested. I don't know if they are any good or not, but I'm including them for your convenience.

Comments can be made HERE, or feel free to PM me with constructive criticisms or writing advice :)

Edited by Kerala
links broken, fixed

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1. Otherside - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Reflection reflected.

Sinuous lines, curls upon curls with vectors off-shot. Asymmetrical stars nestled within. It was an odd combination of stitches, to be sure, but it worked. Decorative repeating patterns overlaid the actual wave-like texture of incisions that had been made in her flesh.

Aziris inspected the results of her surgery critically. From the top of her buttocks, up her spine disappearing into her hair. Around over her hips from the back to descend both legs in front. A great curving arch crossing her shoulders like a cloak that clasped in front just beneath her collarbone. That line fell vertically down her sternum to end one repetition below her bellybutton.

She traced one of the shapes on her chest gently with a finger. It resembled a bird, if one chose to see it that way. Aziris did. Agiga had always loved to fly as the bird. She remembered the kind druid's voice, telling her to consider this option long ago. The little Forsaken was glad now, that she finally had.

The stitching was done with green thread, Aziris' favorite color. The emerald contrasted, both with the paleness of her skin, and the deep ebony of her colored tresses. They had done a good job. These lines didn't resemble autopsy scars at all. They were something beautiful.



How long, how long will I slide

Separate my side, I don't,

I don't believe it's bad

Slit my throat

It's all I ever

I heard your voice through a photograph

I thought it up it brought up the past

Once you know you can never go back

I've got to take it on the otherside

Centuries are what it meant to me

A cemetery where I marry the sea

Stranger things could never change my mind

I've got to take it on the otherside

Take it on the otherside

Take it on

Take it on


Pour my life into a paper cup

The ashtray's full and I'm spillin' my guts

She wants to know am I still a slut

I've got to take it on the otherside

Scarlet starlet and she's in my bed

A candidate for my soul mate bled

Push the trigger and pull the thread

I've got to take it on the otherside

Take it on the otherside

Take it on

Take it on


Turn me on take me for a hard ride

Burn me out leave me on the otherside

I yell and tell it that

It's not my friend

I tear it down I tear it down

And then it's born again


How long I don't believe it's bad

Slit my throat

It's all I ever

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2. Castaway - Zac Brown Band

Today is her birthday. Another year comes and goes, and Anura gains in age. The elder shaman smiles to herself, all alone. The weight of years no longer allows her to straighten, but she tries, stretching upwards, arms reaching toward the sky and An'she burning brightly up there. He is in a good mood today- the light is strong and warm, and stirs breezes from the water.

The sea is calm, undulating in the distance, bobbing up and down in endless rhythm. She cannot see the edge anymore- her vision is no longer quite so sharp as to make out the subtly curving separation of sea and sky at the horizon.

Her long skirts drag in the surf. The waves break on sodden heavy fabric and shove it back against her legs, a wall threatening to sweep her bottom out from under her top. Then the current reverses, pulling the other way. She laughs at it. Sand swiftly steals away around her hooves, leeching solid ground until her balance is precarious. She must take a step, or fall to the salty bubbles.

Anura glances back to the beach. Safely out of reach of even high tide, her pauldrons thrust their rods proudly from the dune she'd left them on. Bone crescents nod gently with the breezes. Her belt lies with them, dagger still attached. Beside it her mace rests with the head dropped carelessly, handle resting against the shiny smooth turtle shell shield. Somewhere hidden beneath the dome are her gloves and braces.

She has no need of weapons and armor here, in her favorite place.

Anura begins to let the current drag her toward the open depths, one step at a time in each receding wave. The cool water climbs her skirt, curiously alleviating more and more of the burden of it. Each time a wave hits is thunderous with felt vibration. An awesome crashing of force. Once or twice she is pushed back, and then, she is past the breakpoint, and floating freely.

Anura ducks beneath the surface, letting the sea penetrate her mane and the crevices of her ears. She loves this. She surfaces, blowing air out her nose to clear the water away. She licks her lips and grins, tasting salt.

The aging shaman begins to tread water. She lets the current bob her up and down, weightless, riding the swell of traveling waves not yet born. When the landmark of four carved crescents is far enough away, she ducks down and pulls with her arms. She squishes her legs and tail. Beneath the surf, she swims until her lungs cry for air. She's back where she started.

Anura feels young. After a time, she'll tire, she knows. Her endurance wanes with each new cycle of the seasons, but for now, the ocean is still her friend. The old shaman floats, ever-enamored with this wide expanse of water, the mysteries contained within, that she has temporarily surrendered herself to.

She'll stay for maybe an hour, in the sea. Her fingers with wrinkle, and her eyes will tire, irritated from the salt. She will labor to climb from the waves, heavy and slow. She'll feel a little bit bereft and lonely without the water's embrace. She'll remember her husband, gone to join the ancestors ages ago. She'll plop down in the grit of the dune, where a hollow and hill are already waiting, and with them, a skin of spiced firewater. She'll end the day drunk and happy in the moment of An'she's glory when he goes to his rest, and then she'll marvel at the millions of stars, the way Mu'she reflects off the waves in a similar number of lights.

But that is for later. For now, Anura floats, the thoughts and worries of the past and future cast away like the pieces of her armor on the shore, untouched by the great sea.

"Ay ay yo..." she sings wordlessly. She is happy, and she lets the emotion bubble out on her voice.

Seabirds wheel overhead, and she grins at them. Their beaks open and close as they turn, endlessly surveying the beach for tasty morsels, or tiny fish in the waves. She imagines their voices in a beautiful chorus with hers.

"Oh yo eh..." she sings.


Pour me another one

Make it a strong one

We're gonna have some fun tonight

I wanna be a castaway

And leave the world behind

Take a tropic holiday

Say goodbye to keeping time

Wasting away down by the coast

Pacifico and chasing lime

Easy living down in paradise


Pour me another one

Make it a strong one

We're gonna have some fun tonight

Just like the other one

Make it a double rum

We're gonna castaway tonight

I'm in an island state of mind

Don't think I'm ever gonna leave

I'd rather stay and watch the waves

Move the sand beneath my feet

Reggae on the radio

Laying low and feeling high

Easy living down in paradise



Ride the waves like we're young

'Cause time flies by and soon we'll be older

It's better to live in the moment

Than stuck in the past

Fast asleep as the world passes by

Ay ay yo

Where reality is history

Oh yo eh

Come and castaway with me

Ay ay yo

The good times are free and

Nobody can take that away

Oh yo eh

Come and castaway with me

Pour me another one (Smiling in the islands, I've been)

Make it a strong one

We're gonna have some fun tonight (For a little while I'll be a castaway)

(Gonna let the sun shine in)

Just like the other one (Smiling in the islands, I've been)

Make it a double rum

We're gonna castaway tonight (For a little while I'll be a castaway)

(Gonna let the sunshine in)



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3. I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues - Elton John

The collection of jars was slowly growing. Her own personal stock, the silver seer rather thought it would be ungainly to pack up and move. It was a good thing her people were no longer the nomads they once were. She liked having supplies ready and waiting for any creative urge she suffered.

Lomani slowly unpacked the large heavy basket which contained the tools of artistic creation. Needles, knives, files, pliers. Thread, string, cord, leather strips and scraps. Feathers. Shells, bones, seeds, dried berries. She had no particular project in mind. For once, her list of things to do was completely empty. Others had volunteered for the tasks that needed doing. The mending was done.

She didn't know what to do with herself.

She sat cross-legged amidst the little pile of chaos she had created. Colors, materials, tools... what to do? Some jars were glass, but many more were clay, their contents known merely by memory. That fat one held coils of wire. The hardened leather case over there was stuffed full with long perfect swoop feathers. She never remembered which end to open to grasp a quill and gently remove them.

Lomani picked up a small painted pot. The container had been a gift, once plain like any other. Anura had given it to her one day when the seer had been feeling especially morose over her lack of memory. The old shaman had declared that day Lomani's "birthday", and so the container was a birthday gift.

The curved walls of clay were carved shallowly. Ocean waves surrounded the perimeter, just below the swell of the fattest part. On one side was An'she shining brightly, and there was a cloud and a bird spaced out in other places above the undulating line of water. The bottom of the pot was a deep blue. The top was lighter, with a pretty swirling of hues. The thing sealed with a little cloth disc that tied closed around a fat-lipped opening. The string ends were decorated with shards of shiny shells. The pot contained seeds for creating blue dye.

Lomani tilted her head at the little clay jar, the beginning of an idea starting to form. She remembered vividly a conversation she'd once had with Kerala, one of many regarding the culture and habits of the Shu'halo people. Her former chieftain had grown up isolated and apart, and was very ignorant of the old ways. The druid had asked about wedding customs. Apparently someone had approached Kerala to ask permission to marry Breygrah. The wedding had never taken place, unfortunately, but it had been an exciting thought while it lasted.

The seer smiled at the blue jar. Kerala's favorite color. The color of water and sky. To the Shu'halo, blue held special meaning. It was the color associated with cold, and therefore the north, but it was more than that. In the most simple terms, blue meant trouble and defeat. Sadness. Blue was the absence of red, which was associated with love and life. Red was passion, blue was depression. It was a common Shu'halo expression that someone sad was said to have the "blues".

Lomani considered what she had told Kerala of the wedding ceremonies she knew. Every tribe was a little bit different, but her favorite ceremony was one with cloaks. The couple each started wearing individiual cloaks of blue, then united under a larger white one to bless their union with peace and happiness.

She shook the jar, rattling the seeds inside. She had fabric enough, for certain. Enough here to dye it...

The chances of Lomani ever needing a blue cloak were slim. She wasn't actively pursuing a romantic interest- it would feel odd. She didn't even know herself that well yet- how could she expect anyone else to know and love her? She was far too busy to think of such things. It would be a good project, though. She could already imagine the fabric in the dye tub, darkening in the sunshine. She had ideas of the various ways she could construct the cloak. Long and flared, or a short shawl? Fringed trim? Layers? Beads, or embroidery? Both?

Lomani began packing away her collection, not really paying attention, but putting each jar, pouch, and basket back in the same way it had been found. She knew how everything fit together.

The silver seer left her tent, on a mission and no longer listless. She had a few other materials to gather. Once again, the little ocean jar had done as the shaman claimed, and "stolen the blue away". Lomani smiled.

((My hatred for Elton John has been rekindled with this stupid song. I should have skipped it. It's like the most terribly awful love song ever. "I'm leaving, you have a chance to fix yourself. Oh, and wait on me while I'm gone. Go ahead and cry, I'm ok with that." (Nevermind that I checked all the other song lyrics for the album searching for inspiration and they're, like, ALL about cheating!) Sorry, but there is nowhere in the world my husband would go if he knew I'd be sad enough to cry with him gone- he'd take me with him! So. Much. Hate.))

"I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues"

Don't wish it away

Don't look at it like it's forever

Between you and me I could honestly say

That things can only get better

And while I'm away

Dust out the demons inside

And it won't be long before you and me run

To the place in our hearts where we hide


And I guess that's why they call it the blues

Time on my hands could be time spent with you

Laughing like children, living like lovers

Rolling like thunder under the covers

And I guess that's why they call it the blues

Just stare into space

Picture my face in your hands

Live for each second without hesitation

And never forget I'm your man

Wait on me girl

Cry in the night if it helps

But more than ever I simply love you

More than I love life itself



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4. Dirty Laundry - Don Henley

"We need to talk."

Kerala froze. The druid had been avoiding her on purpose, and now Lomani stood over her, hands on her hips, gaze fixated. The skinny tauren didn't turn around, and Lomani knew she was calculating. Like a cornered animal, she was weighing the options. Could she get away somehow? Did she have to face the seer? Did she have to? The druid made not a sound. She made no move to continue the chore of rinsing her clothes clean. She just stayed motionless, kneeling on the rocky ground.

Lomani waited.

Kerala was wet. The fur on the left side had no curl to it at all. The druid looked like someone had splashed oil on her. The difference in texture was drastic, though when dry, the slick fur gained a little of the old kink back. Damp curly fur clung to itself in unusual clumps. The dark wet brown color was divided and criss-crossed by paler broken lines of skin, old healed wounds usually lost in the swirly patterns. Lomani stared at Kerala's back. She could have counted vertebrae, maybe, if she tried. She frowned.

Kerala finally sighed. Her hands moved, lifting the piece of clothing out of the water, wringing. Her head ducked, and the halter was tied in place. No longer indecently exposed, the druid pivoted, turning her kneel to a cross-legged sit. She looked up at Lomani, but still said nothing.

"You need to talk." Lomani demanded. "Tell me why the undead are so important."

"It's my fault they were attacked."


Kerala did. Little by little, with lots of pauses and prompts, the story came out about Khorvis' corruption and his frustration at the mystery surrounding the dismemberment of his Forsaken guildmate. The one Lomani had put back together. Pieces of the puzzle were still missing.

"Do you know more about why the priest was attacked?" A nod. "Tell me."

Again, the woman on the ground obeyed. Lomani learned something new about her former chieftain. She absorbed the information, choosing not to do anything with it just yet. Attack, counterattack... She was appalled by the things she heard, but not entirely surprised. The knowledge was somewhat tempered by the reality that the druid and Forsaken man- alternately aggressor and victim, seemed to be good friends now.

The seer paused, letting silence stretch for a moment. She stared past Kerala at the waterfall while her mind worked. One mystery solved, and many more appeared to take it's place. Questions multiplied like hydra heads. She opened her mouth, glancing back to the druid.

"I don't understand. Why was Aziris so important to you? What about Lupinum? What happened while you were Grim?"

Kerala's jaw set, and her eyes flashed steely. "No," was all she said. They were done here.

"But I don't understand!" Lomani cried. "Just tell me-"

"I said no. No more. You don't really need to find out what's going on. You don't really want to know just how far it's gone. Just leave well enough alone, Lomani."

"Just give me something, something I can use to help you. You don't have to bear these burdens alone!"

Kerala cocked her head at Lomani, to the right. "That may well be, but you are not the one to share them. Ever."

It was like a slap in the face. What had she done to make this woman hate her? She took a step back, blinking rapidly. She took a deep breath, letting the winds flow through her. When she looked back at Kerala, the hurt was still there, but her pale eyes were kind and patient.

"If not me, then maybe your undead friend. Talk to Lupinum. Talk to somebody. You have friends, Kerala. You aren't alone anymore."

The druid didn't answer. Lomani noticed her hand clenched around her new weapon. The staff was plain except for the top, where tendrils had grown around and through the holes of a skull and sprouted yellow steelbloom flowers. Kerala's knuckles were white with the force of her grip.

Lomani could think of nothing else to say. No parting words of wisdom, no blessing. She took a step in retreat, only nodding, then turned and fled. Now the tears overflowed their bounds.

Left sitting by herself at the edge of the steaming pools, Kerala watched Lomani leave. It was several moments before she finally sighed. She raised her hands to her face, unable to fully release her grip on the staff until she'd raised it partway off the ground, her fingers had been so tight around it. Bone clattered on the rocks with a familiar hollow sound. The druid just held her face for a long while. Her eyes were dry, of course, but they still burned from the hurt she had inflicted.

Lomani had never been in danger of being struck by the weapon. No, the fist around skull-topped pole was for another reason entirely. How could she ever explain to Lomani? She couldn't. She didn't want to. Her sister had no business knowing those things about Kerala.

The skinny druid stood eventually. She replaced the missing pieces of her armor, and retrieved the staff. She started walking. She didn't have to be alone anymore, true, but right now she wanted to be.

((Some of the underlined lyrics obviously didn't factor into how the story turned out, but I left them all the same :P))

"Dirty Laundry"

I make my living off the evening news

Just give me something

Something I can use

People love it when you lose

They love dirty laundry

Well, I coulda been an actor

But I wound up here

I just have to look good

I don't have to be clear

Come and whisper in my ear

Give us dirty laundry


Kick 'em when they're up

Kick 'em when they're down


Kick 'em when they're up

Kick 'em all around

We got the bubble headed

Bleached blonde

Comes on at five

She can tell you 'bout the plane crash

With a gleam in her eye

It's interesting when people die

Give us dirty laundry

Can we film the operation

Is the head dead yet

You know the boys in the newsroom

Got a running bet

Get the widow on the set

We need dirty laundry

You don't really need to find out

What's going on

You don't really want to know

Just how far it's gone

Just leave well enough alone

Eat your dirty laundry

[chorus] x3

Dirty little secrets

Dirty little lies

We got our dirty little fingers

In everybody's pie

We love to cut you down to size

We love dirty laundry

We can do the Innuendo

We can dance and sing

When it's said and done

We haven't told you a thing

We all know that Crap is King

Give us dirty laundry

(Kick 'em when they're up)

(Kick 'em when they're down)

(Kick 'em when they're up)

(Kick 'em when they're down)

[x6 fade away]

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5. Any Man Of Mine - Shania Twain

It was one of those perfect nights, at least for Chanchu, and then her brother had gone and ruined it. Overprotective, guilty, volatile. It was enough sometimes to overwrite the sweet and endearing qualities she knew he had, and rile her anger, as it had then.

It was one of the many annual celebrations. Chanchu couldn't recall later which one it had been. Maybe in the fall. She remembered lots of corn, and the Ripe Corn festival was informal enough- it could have been that one. It was right after that when the group of boys had joined the army.

Chanchu was finally fully into her womanhood. Over the past two summers, her body had finally caught up with her. The hints had been there for years, and Chanchu had lamented that she'd remain boyish and lanky forever. It made her brother nervous, the way she'd seemed to gain those curves. So suddenly! She thought he thought of her always as little and helpless, always needing protection. Crippled. That she wasn't... well. Maybe that was why he ended up leaving.

But not before ruining her perfect night.

Ripe Corn, for she was sure that must've been it, was always fun. Eating, drinking, laughing... what wasn't to like? There were no extended rituals to perform, no roles to fill. Just a people celebrating the good times and the harvest.

The music was fast, with a strong drum rhythm that just begged a body into motion. Chanchu was off to one side as usual, seated on one of many log benches ringing the festival grounds. She faced the dancers, bouncing and twirling around the giant bonfire. Her fingers picked vindictively at the beadwork decorating her skirt even as her hoof tapped out the cadences.

When her view was blocked by a bulky form, she jerked her face upwards with the grimace of a scowl on her features. It wasn't enough that she couldn't participate? She was NOT about to be denied this one small pleasure still left.

The scowl disappeared as she recognized her brother's best friend Rakul. He looked uncertain, on the verge of retreat after the flare of anger she'd just shown him. His hand was outstretched toward her, held frozen. Whatever words he might have said then died in his throat. The lump there moved up and down as he swallowed.

Chanchu's gaze moved up from hand, to neck, to face as she noted all this. It was his eyes that did it. Doubtful, nervous, but still unshakeable. He had committed, and whatever her answer, he would not back away. Even if the intended question didn't make it through his teeth.

Rakul blinded, and extended his fingers toward her further. He bent at the waist to do so, almost like a bow to her, so much lower sitting on the log.

Chanchu glanced away. Her gaze swept the mingling others, searching for the familiar horns, the dusky color of her brother's hide. He was here somewhere, of course, but no where in sight. Not close enough. Cocking her head, still unsure of what Rakul intended, she looked back at him, and slipped her hand into his.

He gently pulled her up, his strength providing the stability she needed to stand awkwardly on her one leg. Then, her affirmative answer given, he grinned at her in that boyish lopsided way, and before she knew what was happening, he'd bent and swept that leg out from under her.

He carried her to the fire, to the dancing.

Rakul had gained curves just as she had. When had his arms become so strong? His muscles were firm and sure, and she felt weightless as he betrayed no hint of the effort it took to carry her.

Once near the fire, he let his one arm drop. Chanchu swung, still held securely around her back, so that her hoof found the ground. Rakul grinned at the surprise and beginnings of delight that showed in her face. And then, they were dancing.

The drums were fast, like the racing heartbeats of the dancers. Hands clapped and hooves stomped in time. Double-strike and power beat. A-one.TWO! A-THREE-pause. Bounces and quick reverses. Fast spins. Moves Chanchu could no longer perform.

She found that none of that mattered. Rakul made up his own dance. His grip around her was iron and comforting. He maneuvered the two of them in time with the beat, and she swung in his grip. At times, he dropped her onto her hoof for a spin, lending momentum with a flick of his arm over her head, pulling her arm around so that her body followed. She quickly found the rhythm of it, and soon after, the familiar joy of simple momentum and movement to music. She was actually dancing!

Rakul's face beamed with his personal triumph. His yellow eyes were intense with his joy- hers reflected. His lips quirked sideways with that asymmetrical smirk of a smile, the result of a very light paralysis of his face. He'd gotten stuck during birth. The expression was one of the things she liked about him. They'd been stealing glances at each other for months, attracted, but not acting on it. That night it changed.

He lifted her briefly, she kicked out with her leg. He set her down and let go, to stand alone for the clap of rhythm. He turned. As he completed the revolution, facing her, he stomped. She dropped too in an imitation of the gesture- she powered back up from the dip, leaving the ground. He caught her in the jump easily, of course. They swayed, his weight shifting to the leading leg, then rocking back again. He left her standing and clapping along one more as he danced around her, his back to to her back. The ground shook from all the dancers' steps, including his. Rakul ended up in front of her once more. The dance continued.

The song ended with four thunderous strikes of the drums, and the cheer went up. Chanchu stood encircled in Rakul's arms, the both of them heaving with the effort of breathing. Still never having said a word yet that night, they grinned at each other. While the others cheered, Rakul's chest expanded, and his head darted forward.

The kiss caught Chanchu completely by surprise, and literally stole her breath. She found herself leaning back, not to get away, but more like melting in his grasp. It was as if the dancing took a delayed toll, and suddenly she no longer had the strength left to stand on her own. It mattered not- Rakul held her. Chanchu's eyes closed. She kissed him back.

After a long moment, they both needed to breathe again. They mutually ended it. Chanchu's lashes lifted, and her grin matched his. Still not quite steady, she was glad of his arms around her.

He dipped, scooping her up to carry her back to her seat. The walk was too short, and then she was descending. She felt cold as his arms left her. Rakul stood up, and bowed to her. Still no words had been spoken.

That was when her brother appeared like some dark shadow of legend. His face was contorted in rage. Rakul stood from the bow, his amber gaze still locked with hers. He never even saw the furious fist flying at his jaw.

That was the swift ending to her perfect night.

The next time she saw Rakul, his nose was bruised, and his cheek still swollen. He sported a black eye. She lamented over the damage, but he just grinned at her, wincing only slightly as the expression split his lip open again.

"Yeah... I like it that way."

"Are you insane?" she demanded of him

He shrugged at her. "Yeah?" he said again. Then, with absolute conviction, "it was worth it."

((I love this song. It comes across as a little bit... stuck-up bitch to me, but the idea behind it is sound. :P Fun to sing and bounce along to.))

"Any Man Of Mine"

This is what a woman wants...

Any man of mine better be proud of me

Even when I'm ugly he still better love me

And I can be late for a date that's fine

But he better be on time

Any man of mine'll say it fits just right

When last year's dress is just a little too tight

And anything I do or say better be okay

When I have a bad hair day


And if I change my mind

A million times

I wanna hear him say

Yeah, (yeah), yeah, (yeah), yeah I like it that way

Any man of mine better walk the line

Better show me a teasin' squeezin' pleasin' kinda time

I need a man who knows, how the story goes

He's gotta be a heartbeatin' fine treatin'

Breathtakin' earthquakin' kind

Any man of mine

Well any man of mine better disagree

When I say another woman's lookin' better than me

And when I cook him dinner and I burn it black

He better say, mmmm, I like it like that yeah

[chorus] x2

You gotta shimmy, and shake

Make the earth quake

Kick, turn, stomp, (stomp), then you jump

Heel to toe, Do Si Do

'Til your boots wanna break

"Til your feet and your back ache

Keep it movin' 'til you just can't take, anymore

Come on everybody, on the floor

A-one two, a-three four

Hup two, hum

(If you wanna be a man of mine, that's right

This is what a woman wants...)

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6. I'm Becoming Insane - Infected Mushroom

I'm dying. Finally.

It's about time.

The Magram can see the change in me too. They keep me away from the others, in a private area. I can hear the rest, sometimes, but not see them at all. I sit surrounded by the spears and look at my hands.

They shake.

I'm downwind from the roasting fires. The smell of the char is sickening, and makes my stomach roil. I cannot breathe for the stench of it. Yet... when the screams die down, then after, when the breeze comes my way, my mouth waters. I'm losing my mind, I think.

My cheeks are healing. The burns still sting, but not so strongly. I try to keep my face turned down, away from the sunlight. The heat makes them hurt worse.

Bena asked me after why I did it. I had no real answer for her. How can I explain the uselessness? They always try to run. Maybe that's why she went to the others. I should have lied, and told her I didn't want to see her die. Or maybe, that it was to save her. I could have told her the Magram knew already of their plot, and anticipated it. She wouldn't have known the difference.

She got her cousin to help her, and the longrunner. Rot, but that one was strong.

Bena Stonebreath.

Alo Runerunner.

Tasunke Stonebrave.

I don't know the name of the fourth. Just as well.

They will all die.

Four of them, it took, to hold me down and brand me. Bena asked the questions. She held the bit of iron in the coals. I have no idea where she found it.

Why did I ruin the escape? Why did I make noise? Don't I hate them?

Am I a Magram, or a Shu'halo?

I think I'm becoming insane.

I never screamed for help. The other prisoners might have stopped it. Maybe. Instead, I laughed at her, like one of the packhounds. I told her in detail how we are killed. I told her if she burned me, I would make certain she died screaming. I told her I would eat her heart.

We're all going to die.

She didn't believe me, I guess. She burned my face. Now everyone knows not to trust me. As if anyone here trusts anyone else anyway. She should have killed me.

I am as ugly now as the centaur.

My hands tremor, even now. Is it THE Shake? Or merely my anger? I cannot tell. It would be funny if I caught the Shaking Death. After a time, after quarantine, they'll move me back with the others. If I don't die.

They like to watch me fight. My fury amuses them. They laugh. As long as they laugh, I am allowed to live. I get so angry, I shiver with it. I make them laugh.

I've learned not to talk to anyone. The other prisoners don't understand. It's better to stay silent. It's better to stay still, when the Magram come around. Don't attract attention. When they do notice you, you can't cry. Crying is weakness, and they kill anything that is weak. I've stopped bothering trying to help the others. There is no point.

Is that so wrong?

We will all die, but they will first. I don't talk much, but they don't know that when I do, I never lie. Bena, Alo, and Tasunke. She will die screaming, and I will eat her heart. The Magram will cheer and laugh. They will let me.

I am already marked. I am already ugly. This is madness. All of it. I laugh like a hyena through the pain. There can be no tears. Anger instead of despair. Laughter instead of tears? It's insane, but it's working.

Strength is life, they say.

I will tell Bena Stonebreath. I will tell Alo Runerunner. I will tell Tasunke Stonebrave. They need to learn for themselves what I already know. They need to learn the words. I will teach them.

Nees ko stroval. Strovalt lo ralt. Kek strovalt di ka. Kek ralt di ka. Nuth. Ka agol stroval.

I'm becoming insane. I'm becoming... Magram.

Strovalt lo ralt, they say.

"Becoming Insane"

Dime todo lo que pasó,

No me di cuenta ni quién me pegó,

Todo da vueltas como un carrusel,

Locura recorre todita mi piel.

Dime todo lo que pasó,

No me di cuenta ni quién me pegó,

Todo da vueltas como un carrusel,

Locura recorre todita mi piel.

Wake me up before I change again

Remind me the story that I won't get insane

Tell me why it's always the same

Explain me the reason why I'm so much in pain


Before I change again... (Before I change again)

Remind me the story that I won't get insane

Before I change again... (Before I change again)

Remind me the story that I won't get insane

Insane, insane, insane, insane, insane

I'm becoming insane, insane, insane, insane, insane [x7]

(Voy perdiendo, perdiendo) [x11]

Voy perdiendo el suelo!

I'm becoming insane!

Insane, insane, insane, insane, insane

I'm becoming insane, insane, insane, insane, insane [x9]

(Wake me up before I change again

Remind me the story that I won't get insane

Tell me why it's always the same

Explain me the reason why I'm so much in pain) [x2]

I'm becoming insane...

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7. (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay - Glen Campbell

((Youtube link for Ottis Redding. We didn't have that version but it's the best.))

The morning sun is bright, but weak. When the icy wind stops blowing, she imagines she can feel it's warmth. Sleep eludes her again. Or maybe, she's just not interested enough to sleep.

Hours pass. There is nothing she wants to do. No one she feels like seeing. No one who will mind that she wastes this time. The tide rolls in, then away. Sailors bustle all about. They are busy, working. Boats come and go. Some have sails. Some bubble up from the depths. They come, then go away.

Kerala sighs. Hands are tucked safely into crooks of elbows. Arms rest on knees. She can sit this way indefinitely, taking up very little space. If she gets tired, she could just lay her head down on those crossed arms. She won't, though.

The druid sighs again. She is alone, and lonely.

When the day is done and the sun has set is the time when she should be awake. Then is when the various fighters all rest. Horde, Alliance, Iron Horde. Most people sleep through the darkness. Most people don't even notice the coalescing of the mists, soundlessly creeping in the night, only to vanish with the dawning, and the waking.

The fel orcs of Tanaan that serve the Legion will notice. She waits for the sun to set, and evening to come.

"(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay"

Sittin' in the morning sun

I'll be sittin' when the evening comes

Watchin' the ships roll in

then I watch 'em roll away again


'Msittin' on the dock of the bay

watchin' the tide roll away

Sittin' on the dock of the bay

wastin' time

I left my home in Georgia

headed for the Frisco Bay

I had nothin' to live for

looked like nothing's gonna come my way

Looks like nothin's gonna change

everythin' still remains the same

I can't do what ten people tell me to do

so I guess I'll remain the same

Sittin' here restin' my bones

this loneliness won't leave me alone

Two thousand miles I roamed

just to make this dock my home


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8. Hurt - Johnny Cash



Kerala stared at her palm. Each heartbeat she could feel throughout her whole body. The pulses pushed through her, causing her to tremor. In the stillness, it was a momentous event each time it occurred. The dark near-black stain on Kerala's palm grew. A trembling glob.

Her glove was red. The skin surrounding the hole was smeared red. That color was familiar, instinctively alarming crimson. It would dry, and become brown quickly. The glob would react to the air too, becoming gummy. Tiny little particles within the blood would clog the hole, and block the flow, but not the nerves. The pain would take longer to fade.

Pulse! Fade...

Pulse! Fade...

Sensation flared with each heartbeat. It radiated from the source, carried further than the boundaries of the tear along the fibers of the affected muscles in every direction. The bone had been sharp and her grip had pushed it deeply. The entire space between the finger bones extending from knuckles to wrist ached.

Kerala turned her hand sideways. The drop on her skin bulged in the span of a blink, then succumbed to gravity. It trailed downwards a short way before friction stopped it again.

Pain was familiar. The skinny druid had been sliced, pierced, bruised, burned and sometimes even broken in a variety of ways, but the time when she had to endure it and heal slowly was long since gone. She was a healer now, and it was her duty to fix it. Even the discomfort from a simple puncture never really lasted long anymore.

The stained hole torn through skin also broke thin white lines from previous wounds. Most she didn't even remember getting. A small semicircle indent on the heel of her hand was once where the flesh had been bitten and nearly torn off. Had it been a basilisk? The beak of a bird?

The wound was sobering.

Lomani said Kerala was no longer alone, but that wasn't exactly true, now was it? Everyone was alone with themselves. Sure, time could be shared with others. Most people did that. She did that, sometimes. Lupinum was busy. He was really the only one she'd seen recently. Kex'ti was likely dying. The Grim hated her. Everyone was busy, and even if they weren't she wasn't feeling sociable lately. Especially now.

Lomani's questions rang in her mind. Why was Aziris so important to you? What about Lupinum? What happened while you were Grim? Just thinking the words made her fingers curl. The ache in her fist increased, accompanied with the sharp sting of pressure on the wound. She was reminded of other questions. What happened with the centaur? What happened to you, Druidess?

What did it matter? The past was over and done. Everyone had one. Everyone came from different places, and they all ended up in the same one. You could try to plan ahead, many people did, but in the end, the only thing that mattered was the now.

She didn't go around badgering Lomani with questions. What did it matter what her sister had done in the years between then and now? Even the seer could not remember, which made the whole idea especially pointless. Lupinum grew up in a parish, a word which she still didn't know, but she didn't press him for details. Not even to discover what a parish was. It didn't matter. None of it mattered, and most of it hurt. It was done.

It wasn't as if Lomani could change any of it.

She wasn't even really Kerala's sister anymore. Agiga had survived, but Lomani was someone else. It wasn't the same thing as having Agiga. Her sister, along with everyone else, had gone away, to that end everyone faced. She'd just arrived earlier than most.

Kerala opened her fist, releasing the pressure. The hole leaked anew. Fresh crimson-black oozed amidst the rusty smear of cracked dried blood. She ignored the mess, focusing instead on the feeling. The druid picked up her staff. The end rested on the ground. Slowly, she turned it.

The crooked branch she had grown herself, from the tree Lupinum had pulled her from. Somewhere near the top, the wood became more twisty. It had grown around and through the sand-scoured and bleached skull of a centaur. His crooked and grimy teeth grinned at her sideways next to leering eye sockets filled with the twisted ends of the staff. His brow was cracked, with jagged lines forking between the eye sockets and down to the nose hole. Magram, and killed by Magram. Wild Steelbloom stalks spliced into and grown with the wood surrounded the grisly display in pretty yellow blossoms. The wood was also spiked in various places with other shards of bone, resembling thorns in a vine.

The staff held a lot of meaning for her, much like the spear she had once carried. Mostly, it was in the flowers. Kerala sighed. She had hurt Lomani, she knew, and that was on purpose, just like her hand impaled on the bone shard was, but, there were others that she regretted inflicting pain on.

What was happened was done. It didn't matter, not to her. But, perhaps... if she could start again, things would have happened differently. Lomani was right. She did have friends. The things that mattered to them were different.

Kerala looked at the golden yellow blooms, sprouting all around the hard ivory bone. Now, she could tell him. Now it wouldn't be a lie. A swift jerk hefted the staff a few inches higher, and the skinny scarred druid swung it onto her back. She had a friend to find, and something to tell him.


I hurt myself today

To see if I still feel

I focus on the pain

The only thing that's real

The needle tears a hole

The old familiar sting

Try to kill it all away

But I remember everything


What have I become

My sweetest friend

Everyone I know goes away

In the end

And you could have it all

My empire of dirt

I will let you down

I will make you hurt

I wear this crown of thorns

Upon my liar's chair

Full of broken thoughts

I cannot repair

Beneath the stains of time

The feelings disappear

You are someone else

I am still right here


If I could start again

A million miles away

I would keep myself

I would find a way

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9. Lost For Words - Pink Floyd

Life in the desert was a simple, if fleeting thing. The harshness, the emptiness, bred nothing soft or especially beautiful.

Once, it was said, the tauren people had called this land home. Great herds of kodo roamed freely, and lion prides. The ocean gave fish in abundance, and the winds were gentle. Great trees and lush grasses grew. Those days were long ago and forgotten. Centaur had come, and brought war with them. Their hatred and cruelty infected the land. They fought with the tauren, and with each other. Their brutality extended beyond simply the creatures around them, and the grey husks of large trees are all that remained of what was once a beautiful place. Even the elements responded to the centaur presence. Soft breezes became raging gales.

The original name had been forgotten with time, and now the only name for it was Desolace.

Kaya Wisewater was an old woman, and she only knew stories, faded and vague from great age, of this place. They did not properly explain the cruelty that was Desolace. Her people had avoided this region for many years, all but those at the graveyard post. Everything around her was bleak and dismal. A desert, it was, but not of sand, exactly. The ground was rock and grit and ash. Winds scoured down to hardpack and blew temporary, ever-shifting dunes with the grit. The heat was oppressive, but it was the wind which was perhaps more dangerous. During a storm, rumors claimed an unsheltered kodo could be sheared away to nothing but bone.

The area was made more depressing for the sheer lack of variety in color. Grey. Everything was grey. The brown of centaur pelts was dusty brown-grey. The water in hot stagnant pools was a dull sort of greyish yellow. The sky was colorless, or an ominous yellow grey-black shot through with white flashes of lightning. The only color that could be found was in the hair and skin tones of the prisoners kept in the ring of spears with her, and those were soon so grimy with dust and dirt they could no longer be discerned.

Or blood.

Bright red crimson was a color she also saw often, here. Soon enough, she figured she would be the one painting color into the gritty ground.

Kaya was old. Once a shaman, the elements had not spoken to her in some time. Even had she the strength to call them, the ones in this land were too chaotic to answer. She could feel their fury. Whirlwinds to the north. Earth elementals already in service to the west. Water was silent and subdued, and she could not sense fire at all.

No, Kaya was old and resigned to her fate. It was why she had decided to make the journey to this land in the first place. Kodo near their end of life often came here to die. When poor Widefoot began to stubbornly turn his head to the west, Kaya decided to come with her mount. She'd always wanted to see the ancestral home of her people anyway. She hadn't really ever given thought to their ancestral enemies, though.

Still, she couldn't regret her decision. There were others here that she could help. Other centaur victims were not as old as she. She could help them in this, potentially the last moments of their lives. She could ease some of their pains. Always, she was a shaman and leader of others. Kaya Wisewater was a Skytotem healer. Her declared Wards were children.

Kaya had been extremely surprised to find the starved little urchin here among the centaur. Her presence was a mystery, as was everything about the girl. Her fur was a dirty dusky brown similar to the centaur's coats. It curled on itself and held onto the grit. She blended into the environment like she was born to it.

The girl was skittish to an extreme, never letting anyone but the centaur near her. To run from them would invite their cruelty, as Kaya observed. The girl stayed apart from the others, watching with hard green eyes. There was a black-furred Grimtotem that she especially glared at. The brute would leer back at her with an expression that made Kaya's fur stand on end, but do nothing else.

Kaya watched the girl over several weeks. She was not the only one. The skinny girl-child drew the eyes of the shaman's companion as well. Unseen, the adando gateno, or spirit scout, was a ghost that had attached itself to Kaya ever since the shaman had made her copper skytotem. The charm was made of the largest tooth of a worg, wrapped in copper wire with a spiral at the top, and a tuft of fur dangling off the bottom. The fang was etched with the traditional tribal image. The ghost wolf served as her silent companion and guide. Kaya followed it where it led, and the wolf was the reason why her Wards were children. A'Gateno never failed to find them, and lead her to help them.

The ghost wolf was obsessed with Kaya's fellow prisoner, and after observing the girl long enough, Kaya finally reasoned out why. She knew why Widefoot had taken the route he had, why the Earthmother had set her on this path. The old shaman waited and watched, then finally went to introduce herself.

"My name is Kaya Wisewater."

The girl glared at her from a feral crouch. The old shaman was well aware that her name was not welcome here, in this dismal culture of captivity. The rules had been explained to her. She said it anyway.

"No." the girl replied. It was the only word Kaya had heard her speak in taurahe. The rest of the time, the girl remained silent, or muttered in the broken common of the centaur. She bore their accent.

"My name is Kaya Wisewater." As a healer, she knew many languages. She didn't know much of what the centaur said, but her common was fluent enough. Children of elves and other races often needed her aid just as much as those of her own people or trolls and other allies.

The girl glared. Kaya glanced briefly to A'Gateno. The wolf was sitting next to the girl where she crouched. It amazed the old shaman that others mostly never sensed her guide. The ghost had it's head positioned so that it looked as if it were cradled in the girl's lap like a favored pet. Kaya had seen the wolf act this way a many times in their years together. Her eyes took in the girl yet again.Though it didn't show, A'Gateno was never wrong.

"I am here to help you, child."

"No." the girl said again. It sounded like I don't need help to the shaman.

"Yes, you do. You are sick. Infected with hatred. Paralyzed by fear. It spreads in you."

"No, for va majis!" came the hostile denial. The girl thrust out her arm and prodded at a healing wound. It opened, oozing crimson. The gesture was odd, but Kaya had seen the centaur make similar displays. Proving they could bleed, in answer to a specific goad. For va majis. Full of fear? She didn't know.

"Yes yes, you bleed. I see. Not fear, then. But hate, yes. Anger, yes. I have seen you beat the ground. It will consume you, this fever of spite, if you let it. Let me help you."

The girl cocked her head at Kaya. Her position shifted slightly, not as hostile, but still prepared to act. Still prepared to defend. A'Gateno's tail wagged as the girl let loose a string of short course words. "Me agol re novas goth koshuel, Kaya. Zaetar lo odes. Tiras dana ergin." The course language was hard to follow. Farts and bubbles? Dead. Something about smoke. It was a telling-off, then a dismissal by the tone, followed by resignation. But it was less aggression. Progress.

A'Gateno nuzzled the girl. Unaware of the spirit's affection, the girl's eyes still watched Kaya, occasionally flickering to the other prisoners, to the centaur moving outside the spear wall. She kept track of everything around her.

"You need my help, child. Will you teach your youngblood to hate, as the centaur do? I can help you."

There it was, the spark of surprise. The instant of hesitation. The girl was not stupid, just incredibly ignorant, and unguided. Wild. Kaya had watched her snatch sleep in every spare moment. Had seen the periods of nausea.

The girl's eyes went to the Grimtotem. Her hand went to rest on her belly. Then she looked at Kaya, and the hostility was gone completely. "No." Her face drained of color, the hairless stripes on her cheeks became pale. Her expression bordered on panic. "No? Kek vos ras vohl?" Something about a head. It sounded as if she asked if Kaya was sure.

So, Kaya nodded. "I will help you. You are not alone. I can help you. Will you let me?"

The girl froze, and A'Gateno did as well. It's translucent ghostly head was still there, snuck into the space between the girl's arm and torso, it's cheek against her belly. It's canine brows were raised, eyes fixed upwards toward the girl's face. Whatever influence the spirit had, it was using it, Kaya knew. Often, the wolf had helped to calm stressing mothers, and sway their opinion of Kaya to the positive. This young one was no exception.

The girl was lost for words, but Kaya saw it in her eyes. The shift in mindset. Suddenly, the world was different, for her. No longer were her thoughts selfish. There were other things to consider. Kaya had experienced it herself, when she found out she was expecting her first child. Despite everything, the knowledge brought every woman a sense of joy, however fleeting. Kaya would use it.

This girl was lost and alone, abused and heavily influenced by their captors, but Kaya could still help her. This was her sole purpose in life, her calling. It might be a futile effort, here, in this place, but she had to try. She had a Ward, and a Skytotem healer never abandoned their Wards.

The old shaman took a step toward the skittish little tauren girl. She was so young! Still part child herself, barely a woman. The girl hesitated, still frozen in the defensive half-crouch. A'Gateno's tail began wagging, though. The spirit's jaws opened, and it's tongue rolled loose to flap out the side in a canine grin. As the girl reached up to grasp Kaya's offered hand, the ghost wolf vanished. Kaya's Ward unfolded to stand, pulling herself up with the shaman's support.

Kaya smiled, and gently tugged. The girl resisted for a moment, highly distrustful, but A'Gateno was never wrong. The old shaman gently embraced this young new mother, her Ward.

The girl was silent, and after a moment, shifted uneasily to be released. Kaya let her step back, and caught the flash of hatred in her Ward's eyes as the girl looked past her at the black-furred Grimtotem. The look held a murderous promise. But, her hand was still on her belly. It would take a lot of work, on Kaya's part, to heal the damage that had been done. She might not wholly succeed, but it was worth trying.

Still lost for words, the girl just nodded to Kaya, and the old shaman smiled. The door was open. It was a start.

She might not succeed, in this place, but to Kaya, it was always worth trying.

"Lost For Words"

I was spending my time in the doldrums

I was caught in the cauldron of hate

I felt persecuted and paralyzed

I thought that everything else would just wait

While you are wasting your time on your enemies

Engulfed in a fever of spite

Beyond your tunnel vision reality fades

Like shadows into the night

To martyr yourself to caution

Is not going to help at all

Because there'll be no safety in numbers

When the Right One walks out of the door

(ladies and gentlemen, the winner, by a knockout)

Can you see your days blighted by darkness?

Is it true you beat your fists on the floor?

Stuck in a world of isolation

While the ivy grows over the door

So I open my door to my enemies

And I ask could we wipe the slate clean

But they tell me to please go fuck myself

You know you just can't win

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10.Bubbly - Colbie Caillat

((One of my very favorite songs :) ))

"Do you have to go?"

Her brother loosened his hug to lean back and meet her eyes. "You know I do."

Chanchu sighed. She did know, but when her brother had enlisted in the Horde army, she thought she'd be glad of his absence. He was overprotective and annoying, but also sweet and kind, and he did the best he could, she realized. Time had a funny way of dulling anger, didn't it? She snuggled closer, and he hugged her tighter.

Raindrops thundered on the roof of the shed they had taken shelter in. The bottom had dropped out from the clouds faster than either of them had expected, and the inn was still a good distance away. The building nearest to them was completely obscured in the downpour. Even with him carrying her, they hadn't been fast enough to make it truly indoors. A fine mist drifted in through the open doorway to gently cover their fur coats with millions of tiny diamonds of moisture. Her brother's dark coat became greyer, and her reddish fur turned almost frosty pink. She liked the color.

They had spent a wonderful day together. She didn't often see him anymore, and she realized that this time together, even something as simple as huddling safely out of a rainstorm, should be treasured. She shivered, cold, and snuggled closer against his chest. He rubbed her arm in an attempt to heat her with friction, and only managed to brush away the frosty mist, rubbing the water into her fur. He scowled, realizing his error, and she laughed at him. His face broke into a silly grin, then.

He kissed her on the end of her nose, like he had done since she was a baby, then promptly mussed her mane, as he was also fond of doing. That part, she didn't like, but right now she didn't care. "We'll get inside by the fire and get warmed up as soon as the rain lets up a little."

Chanchu nodded.

The storm lasted longer than either of them expected. Cradled under his shoulder, leeching the heat from him, she was very comfortable. The rain on the roof had a sort of rhythm to it, and a few spots in the shed leaked to make a pattern of plops in it's own steady beat. She yawned. Then again.

She fell asleep before the storm passed. Her brother debated waking her, then decided against it. No sense waking her to let her insist on hobbling through the puddles to inn when he could just carry her. He hefted her in him arms, then grabbed her waking stick in his fingers, careful not to bop himself or her with it. Once in the inn, he carried her to his room in the inn and settled her under the covers in the small bed. It really wasn't large enough for him anyway.

She smiled in her sleep, blinking a few times at him, but never really waking. He finished tucking her in. Every time she smiled, his heart swelled with affection for his little sister. It was his job to try and make her happy, but now he had other obligations too. That he could visit, even a short time, and see that she was happy to see him... well, after their big fight, he was glad. For a little while, it felt good just to be a big brother again, and not a parent, not a soldier.


Will you count me in?

I've been awake for a while now

You've got me feelin' like a child now

'Cause every time I see your bubbly face

I get the tingles in a silly place

It starts in my toes

And I crinkle my nose

Wherever it goes

I always know

That you make me smile

Please stay for a while now

Just take your time

Wherever you go

The rain is falling on my window pane

But we are hiding in a safer place

Under covers staying dry and warm

You give me feelings that I adore

They start in my toes

Make me crinkle my nose

Wherever it goes

I always know

That you make me smile

Please stay for a while

now just take your time

Wherever you go

But what am I gonna say

When you make me feel this way

I just, mmmmm

And it starts in my toes

Makes me crinkle my nose

Wherever it goes

I always know

That you make me smile

Please stay for a while

Now just take your time

Wherever you go

Dada dumdudum dumdadadadadum

Ohbodododododododum mmm mmm

I've been asleep for a while now

You tuck me in just like a child now

'Cause every time you hold me in your arms

I'm comfortable enough to feel your warmth

It starts in my soul

And I lose all control

When you kiss my nose

The feeling shows

'Cause you make me smile,

Baby, just take your time

Now holdin' me tight

Wherever, wherever, wherever you go

Wherever, wherever, wherever you go

Wherever you go

I always know

'Cause you make me smile

Even just for a while

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11. Blue - A Perfect Circle

cold and blue and hot flame's hue

dancing in the mother's view

image of the child seen

through smoke

ignore the smoke

nurture hate murder the thought

eyes shut numbly overwrought

for love she strove to work

not smoke

ignore the smoke

aftermath of purging pyre

blackened ash a baby prior

as ever birthed before

fire, smoke

ignore the smoke


I didn't want to know

I just didn't want to know

Best to keep things in the shallow end

Cause I never quite learned how to swim

I just didn't want to know

Didn't want, didn't want,

Didn't want, didn't want

Close my eyes just to look at you

Taken by the seamless vision

I close my eyes,

Ignore the smoke,

Ignore the smoke,

Ignore the smoke

Call an optimist, she's turning blue

Such a lovely color for you

Call an optimist, she's turning blue

While I just sit and stare at you

Because I don't want to know

I didn't want to know

I just didn't want to know

I just didn't want

Mistook the nods for an approval

Just ignore the smoke and smile

Call an optimist, she's turning blue

Such a lovely color for you

Call an optimist, she's turning blue

Such a perfect color for your eyes

Call an optimist, she's turning blue

Such a lovely color for you

Call it aftermath, she's turning blue

While I just sit and stare at you

I don't want to know

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12. Slide - Dido

As soon as the Grim left the room, she sagged against the table. The careful facade fell away, and the newly-resurrected undead ended up on the floor before Kerala had a chance to get to her. She just drifted down like a feather. She deflated. Her thin little arms braced in a V in front of her beneath a curtain of dark hair. The homespun fabric of the dress they had found for her was a puddle of soft folds.

The druid knelt in front of her, but didn't touch the girl. "Are you alright?"

"... Not really."

"How can I help?"

The part in the girl's hair angled as she tilted her head, but kept her face turned down. "I need to... eat."

The way she said the word, something about her tone, reminded Kerala of herself, of her own displeasure regarding food. She was fairly certain the girl did not need vegetables, however. "Tell me what to get you."

Aziris looked up then, her glowing eyes sweeping the stone chamber. She lifted an arm, pointing. Kerala followed the angle of the Forsaken's finger to the pile of Scarlet human parts. The tomb was a chilly cool temperature thanks to Lomani's enchantments, but it had still been long enough that they were starting to smell. Without a word, the druid stood and went to the pile, chose a few pieces, and came back with them. The undead cannibalized the bones clean gingerly, taking her time not to get messy. Kerala sat down on the cold stone next to her and waited impatiently.

Aziris licked her fingers clean with a little greyish tongue, then smiled. "I don't like that part, but I feel much better now."

"Good. How do you know my sister?"

The Forsaken smiled in a way that seemed misplaced on her features. As if she knew a secret she shouldn't. "Ah.... that explains a lot, then."

"No. It doesn't." Kerala scowled. "Who are you, exactly? I heard the other healers- you should not be here right now. It will be a miracle if any of the others can be brought back. So why you?"

Aziris smiled again. "The will of the Forsaken is a powerful thing, druid."

Kerala glared now. "Not that powerful. Perhaps I should ask a different question, then. Where are your BONES?"

The smile dropped from the undead's face immediately, replaced with the blank expression from earlier, slightly stern, betraying nothing of the thoughts being thought of. A mask. "Nevermind that." she said softly. "Agiga was once a good friend of mine. I'm surprised and very happy to see her alive, if somewhat... changed. Whatever your reasoning for not informing her of the truth, I support it. Some things are best left forgotten, and the events of Northrend are surely that. Dying is not something anyone should have to live to remember, even if only nearly."

The tauren regarded the undead, sitting so still on the floor beside her. She was smart, smarter than her, Kerala figured. This thought was proven a moment later when Aziris fixed her with a stare of her own, not glaring, but focused just the same.

"Now. Would you like to tell me what exactly you did to cause a Grim to rampage through town and murder us all?" Kerala's jaw set, and the undead smiled. "You have your secrets, I have mine."

"Have your secrets ever caused the deaths of others?"

Aziris' gaze swept over the tauren who had been one of those to bring her back. She was measuring, weighing. Again, the look in her eyes did not quite belong. The loon of someone who knew far more about life and the miseries in it than she should.

"I will share a secret with you, miss Kerala Windchaser, formerly of the Horns of Shuhalo. The willpower of the undead is not unique. We are not special, we are not superhuman. I can see in your eyes that this bothers you, what happened. It's a terrible thing, yes, but it is not your fault."

"It is."

"Did you wield the whip yourself? Did you issue the command?"

"No, but-"

"Everyone makes mistakes, druid. It's alright." When Kerala didn't answer, the tiny Forsaken stood smoothly. Still short, she met Kerala's gaze, and the druid saw steel there, the strength of metal the same as she knew existed in actuality inside the undead. "I will tell you what my father once told me. Don't slide."

Kerala's head cocked to one side, and her frown showed her confusion. "Slide? What does that mean?"

"Slide. You know, to slip or skid along. A slide is a children's toy, a ramp that you go down, because it's fun. Sliding usually means downwards. On stairs, if you miss a step, you might fall down several of them, yes?"

Kerala nodded.

"Don't slide. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone misses a step now and then. Everyone feels the pain you feel now. If you find yourself falling back, stop. Take time to catch your breath. If you can't do it now just wait. Choose the moment, and then just... move on."

The skinny druid, nearly looking undead herself, nodded to the resurrected dead girl. "Sometimes I forget the simplest lessons."

"Don't you worry child," Aziris said with a knowing smile. Then, because she got exactly the reaction she intended, she laughed. "It's alright to make mistakes. Come, let's go and leave them here behind us."

Frowning, because now she was beginning to have an inkling of the frustrations Lupinum must have felt when trying to ask questions of her, Kerala followed her new ward as the undead glided up the stairs.

The amused voice floated back to her from above. "Don't slide."


Even on a day like this when you're crawling on the floor

Reaching for the phone to ring anyone who knows you anymore

It's all right to make mistakes

you're only human

Inside everybody's hiding something

Staring at the same four walls, have you tried to help yourself

The rings around your eyes they don't hide that you need to get some rest

It's all right to make mistakes

you're only human

Inside everybody's hiding something

Take time to catch your breathe and choose your moment

Don't slide [x4]

Slide [x2]

Even at a time like this when the morning seems so far

Think that pain belongs to you but it's happened to us all

It's all right to make mistakes

you're only human

Inside everybody's hiding something

Take time to catch your breathe and choose your moment

Don't slide [x4]

Slide [x2]

You brought this on yourself

and it's high time you left it there

Lie here and rest your head

dream of something else instead

Don't slide [x4]

Slide [x2]

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13. She's Got the Rhythm (And I Got the Blues) - Alan Jackson

She turned out to be a great dancer. He was surprised, considering she only had one leg. She compensated well. Her skirt only occasionally lifted enough to reveal the wooden pole that replaced her knee, shin, and hoof. She smoothly shifted her weight always to that crippled leg to do the kicks of a dance, and frankly she knew how to throw those curves around. Really, her maimed state was the last thing on his mind.

She was also friendly. Too friendly, he realized belatedly. He'd left her to get them drinks. Honestly, he needed a rest. Apparently, she didn't. With moves like those, of course she had a new partner within the minute or so he left her alone. Sure, she'd been quick to embrace him close, and she hadn't spurned his attempts to fondle her. In fact, she'd encouraged him. She was VERY friendly. But, it was clear that she also wasn't committed, judging by how her new partner was putting the moves on her in much the same fashion as he had just done. She let him, moving to music in perfect time.

Damn, but she was fine. A shame about that leg. Maybe he still had a chance, if that other guy made the same mistake. He might still get lucky.

The merchant came back with their drinks, and he reached for his money pouch to pay for them. His hand closed on empty air. He frowned, and then cursed. Thrice-damned thieves! Was Thunder Bluff the only city left where the greedy vagrants weren't such a prolific problem? He reached instead for his smaller pocket, hidden inside his shirt. This one contained coins of higher value, and some gems. He was not about to lose his chance over the inability to purchase a simple drink!

He didn't notice the woman's eyes flickering to him as she danced. He also didn't notice that her new partner, too, had been relieved of his valuables. No, his eyes noticed only the swing of her hips, the heaving of her shapely chest. Each time she swung fast, he hoped for a glimpse of the curves beneath as the simple draped vest flung outward slightly.

Damn, she was a prize. She swayed to the rhythm of the drums in perfect time, and he heard her musical laughter. As she glanced to him again, he caught a smile, and his heart beat faster. He licked his lips and waited for his opportunity. For sure, he wasn't out of running yet.

"She's Got The Rhythm (And I Got The Blues)"

This old bar stool's feelin' higher

'Cause I've started sinkin' lower

The minute that she waltzed right through that door

Not long ago I held her, like a fool I went and left her

Now she's with somebody new out on that floor

And she's got the rhythm and I got the blues

And she's showin' me how much I had to lose

With her every little move she's tellin' me I'm over you

She's got the rhythm and I've got the blues

Well that music's gettin' louder

As my heart keeps beatin' faster

As she spells out regret in perfect time

Well I thought I wanted freedom but that ball and chain I need 'em

'Cause when you choose sometimes you lose the prize

'Cause she's got the rhythm and I got the blues

And she's showin' me how much I had to lose

With her every little move she's tellin' me I'm over you

She's got the rhythm and I've got the blues

Yeah with her every little move she's tellin' me I'm over you

She's got the rhythm and I got the blues

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14. Time After Time - Everything But The Girl

♪ ♫ ♪

Standing still I listen

to the wind I hear Her voice

Whispers all around

I heed the sound and rejoice

She calls, follow

Walk the path with Her

Keep peace within your heart

my Mother

Earth turns and seasons change

Time flows and you lose the way

Inhale a deep breath

Look now, hear what I say

She hears if you call

Shout, or whisper

The winds carry your prayer


If you're lost, just keep still

She will guide you

My Earthmother

If you need help, raise your voice

She'll be list'ning

My Earthmother


I was so uncertain

if I'd ever find the way

Watching day and night

Her eyes shone through skies of gray

I cried, She saw

I felt Her love

We walk now as a pair


She'll hear your call

Shout, or whisper

The winds carry your prayer


If you're lost, just keep still

She will guide you

My Earthmother

If you need help, raise your voice

She will be list'ning!

My Earthmother

my Earthmother

my Earthmother

my Earthmother

♪ ♫ ♪

"Time After Time"

Lying in my bed I hear

the clock tick And think of you

Caught up in circles,

confusion Is nothing new

Flashback, warm nights

Almost left behind

Suitcase of memories,

Time after

Sometimes you picture me

I'm walking too far ahead

You're calling to me,

I can't hear What you've said

Then you say go slow

I fall behind

The second hand unwinds


If you're lost and you look

you will find me

Time after time

If you fall I will catch you

I'll be waiting

Time after time


After my picture fades,

and darkness has Turned to gray

Watching through windows,

you're wondering If I'm OK

Secrets stolen,

from deep inside

The drum beats out of time


You said go slow

I fall behind

The second hand unwinds

[chorus x2]

Time after time [x3]

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15. Say I - Creed

Kerala nods at Lupinum.

Lupinum blinks at Kerala.

[Lupinum]: Hey.

Lupinum smiles at Kerala.

Kerala pushes her helm back with an answering grin.

Kerala glances around.

[Kerala]: Why are you over here?

[Lupinum]: The bar was stinky. I think the fire in there has been burning too long.

[Lupinum]: It's nicer out here.

[Kerala]: Mmm, I think so too.

[Kerala]: Did you finish all the reading you've had to do?

[Lupinum]: More or less.

[Lupinum]: I made a lot of notes, which I have to study. But no more tiny Evlish writing.

Kerala smiles at Lupinum.

Kerala glances around, as if checking for something.

Lupinum cocks his head a little bit.

[Lupinum]: Hear something?

[Kerala]: Nope!

Kerala seems happy about this.

Lupinum eyes Kerala up and down.

[Lupinum]: Weirdo.

[Kerala]: I've been wanting to talk to you, but you've been busy, or there's always been someone else close by.

[Lupinum]: And now I'm perched on a rock.

Lupinum lets out a hearty chuckle.

Kerala looks confused, because a rock is a perfectly good place to sit, and why would you relax standing up instead of sitting?

Lupinum clears his throat, unnecessarily.

[Lupinum]: So what's up?

Kerala shakes her head over the missed joke, and looks at Lupinum very seriously.

[Kerala]: I'm sorry. For the head and the... tree. I'm sorry.

Lupinum blinks.

[Lupinum]: I forgave you for that awhile ago.

Lupinum offers her a smile.

[Kerala]: I know you did, but... I just had to say that... now that's it true.

Lupinum blinks again, catching her meaning.

Kerala shrugs.

[Lupinum]: Well I'm glad.

Lupinum smiles.

Kerala smiles at Lupinum.

[Kerala]: Will you tell me about you? About the parish? I don't really know what that is.

[Kerala]: You don't have to.

Lupinum scratches the back of his head.

[Kerala]: Just... if you want.

[Lupinum]: I don't remember too much, honestly. My Life seems so long ago.

[Lupinum]: I grew up in the country, near Gilneas. I only remember the church, nothing before of my mother or father.

[Kerala]: Is a parish a kind of church? And what is church?

[Lupinum]: It's a church that's remote, more for certain villages. Priests stay there to pray and perform ceremonies.

[Lupinum]: Do the Shu'halo gather at buildings for rituals?

[Lupinum]: I don't know what to compare it to, is what I mean.

Kerala looks away from Lupinum, toward the fire.

[Kerala]: I guess.

Lupinum furrows his brow.

[Kerala]: So church is a religious thing? A building where you pray?

[Lupinum]: Yes.

[Lupinum]: Well.

Kerala looks at Lupinum.

[Lupinum]: Where Humans pray.

[Kerala]: You're a human.

[Lupinum]: I was.

Kerala frowns.

[Lupinum]: My time spent in Undercity and the Cult of Forgotten Shadow changed that.

[Kerala]: You still are

Lupinum brushes Kerala's mane out of habit. "I disagree."

Kerala flinches slightly at the movement, then deliberately holds still and lets herself be touched.

[Kerala]: Why?

[Lupinum]: My powers of only continued to grow in Undeath. Through focused training I was able to reach out at will into peoples minds - something rare in Human clerics.

[Lupinum]: The Cult found me shortly after I was risen and groomed me to be a priest of Shadow dedicated to transferring my... soul or whatever I am into the Nether.

Kerala blinks.

[Kerala]: You want to... die?

Lupinum is silent and stares into the fire.

[Kerala]: You can't.

[Kerala]: Don't do that!

[Lupinum]: If the Horde is unsuccessful, I would rather die than see the blue banners fly in Lordaeron.

[Lupinum]: But I will never give up until that day.

Lupinum pats her arm. "You have nothing to worry about. I left the Cult for a reason."

Kerala takes a deep breath.

[Kerala]: You promise?

Lupinum cracks a smile again.

[Lupinum]: Promise.

Kerala eyes Lupinum for a minute, judging his sincerity.

[Lupinum]: O ergin va an Veld Lars Landowar nud agol lo noth

Kerala blinks at Lupinum.

Lupinum swears in his gutteral tongue.

Kerala has no idea what Lupinum just said, but his tone is clear enough. She smiles, and relaxes somewhat.

Lupinum smiles at Kerala.

[Kerala]: Ok then

[Kerala]: ... Why do you hate alliance so much?

Lupinum frowns.

Kerala waits a moment, then, because she figures that's not something he wants to talk about she asks instead. "DO you hate them?"

[Lupinum]: Not as much as some of my comrades.

Lupinum stretches his legs out.

[Kerala]: Well, the Grim are a little bit fanatical about it so... yeah.

[Kerala]: But you do?

[Lupinum]: I see what they did to other races and it makes me sick.

Kerala frowns, not following.

[Kerala]: Everyone does bad things to everybody.

Lupinum looks up at the [sound of the] horn and shakes his head.

[Lupinum]: I'll return.

[Kerala]: It's alright. If you don't want to talk about it, that's fair. There are lots of things I haven't talked about.

Lupinum offers a small shrug.

[Lupinum]: It's things I haven't thought about in a long time.

[Kerala]: You fight... almost every day. You don't think about why you fight?

[Lupinum]: I was murdered by an Alliance woman. I was taught their treachery very young. That was all the reason I needed to join the fight.

Kerala looks at Lupinum, trying to judge age. It had never really occurred to her to do that before.

[Kerala]: She taught you how to hate...

Kerala sighs.

Lupinum frowns.

[Kerala]: I'm sorry. I didn't mean to... I don't know what I mean.

[Kerala]: I should go. You can go fight and I'll... see you another time.

Lupinum blinks at Kerala.

[Lupinum]: I just haven't thought about it...

Lupinum pats her hand. "I'm not offended."

Kerala smiles, but seems a little preoccupied, or bothered by something.

[Kerala]: Goodnight Lupinum.

[Lupinum]: Peace, Kerala. Stay safe.

[Kerala]: You too.

Kerala left the bonfire and her friend behind. She didn't take the Thunder Bluff portal, but instead stepped around it. Lupinum had given her a lot to think about in very few words. She reached the rocky shore and descended without much care. Her hooves skittered over the slick surfaces and slid to sudden stops in sharp grooves. A few times her balance was thrown off enough to require a hand to steady her, but she reached the water swiftly. Scavenger crabs clicked as they fled her intrusion, scattering to their hiding places.

The druid didn't care. Her hooves slid again on the wide flat rock at the shoreline, and instead of trying to stop the fall, she threw herself into it and dove into the water. She didn't shift, though she could have. She wasn't a great swimmer with her own hands and hooves, but she she knew enough to not drown. She paddled slowly out to her goal- the wide and lonely mushroom cap poking above the surface of the waves. Occasionally they broke over it, gliding smoothly off again. She reached it, tired, and crawled onto the solid curve. Dripping, she got to the middle and just stayed there, on her belly. Her arms crossed in front of her on the highest part of the wide arched island, so that the water that made it up this high wouldn't wash into her nose. Kerala laid there. She sighed.

She didn't really know what she had expected from that encounter. It had seemed important to her, to say the words to Lupinum, just like it had seemed important once everything was done, to thank the Grim that had helped her throughout the Inquisition. That's just what you did. When someone was caged, you offered to get them something they needed. When you were caged, you thanked anyone who had helped you if you got free. The Grim hadn't been a real cage, but it was a sort of captivity anyway. At least to her. At least originally.

Lupinum was also her friend. It was important to let him know that she was sorry for what she'd done. Or rather, she thought it had been important. Now, it seemed silly. She was much more concerned with the other things he had said.

A wave slapped against her arms. She blinked away the droplets of salty water that splashed up.

See, this was why she tended to think that the past didn't matter. Now she knew more about her friend, and what she knew bothered her. Why did she ask those stupid questions when she knew she wouldn't like the answers? He was Grim, and Grim fought the alliance. What did it matter why?

Kerala thought again of the many things the Grim had told her about their interpretation of the Mandate. She thought of the farm story. She thought of the children. In her mind, she replaced the Grim that came upon a peaceful farmhouse with human troops. She envisioned them doing onto their own what she'd heard Shaelie, Kelgrave, and other supplicants describe. Violence, murder, even down to the children. In her mind, an adult woman held one of them, a young priest, underwater in a river.

It was nothing special, the Grim's view of alliance. People always learned to hate, no matter their race. Everybody did bad things to everybody, and so the cycle went round and round, if you let it. The Grim claimed that they killed children because the young ones, if left alive, would just grow up to hate the Horde and fight later. But, what about the neighbors, the family friends, who would be roused to action over the murder of the children? Those might have taken in the orphans. People died in war, that's just how it was. The children could have learned to accept that. They could have been taught something besides hate. Instead of the uncertain potential for soldiers later, the Grim earned sure enemies ready to fight now.

It made no sense to her. Children never deserved that fate. Children were precious. The tauren exhaled in a snort through a particularly high surge in the water washing over the mushroom and her arms. Bubbles erupted until the ocean receded, and she breathed in again through her nose.

It surprised Kerala to realize that Lupinum had been killed at about the same age she was now. She'd never considered how old he was before. It was hard to see it in his face, because of his metal jaw. But... she would grow older, and he was stuck. It seemed funny. He was stagnant, set in his hatred, just as he was set in years, while she had grown past that just like she would grow older. Funny. Once, she had been just like him. Just like the Grim.

Kerala raised her head, then reversed the angle. Instead of resting her chin on her arms, she put her forehead down. The points of her horns gently scraped through her fur. She stared at the gloom beneath her, instead of out across the water.

Lupinum had killed the person who taught him how to hate. Kerala had done the same. He claimed it brought peace to his mind, and it was his sacrifice to become full Grim. Kerala knew better. She'd never run out of teachers to slay. She knew that the satisfaction of vengeance was temporary and unfulfilling. When the object of hate was gone, what was left? The emotion was worse than any disease. It spread. It mutated. Hate for one became hate for many. It was hard to really ever conquer it completely.

Lupinum's murderess had taught him how to hate. The Magram had taught Kerala. But Lippia and Kaya had taught her love. True love, not the confused emotion she'd known in Desolace.

Kerala shuddered. Ripples sprung out from her in all directions, quickly dying at the surge of a new wave against her. Sometimes, she wished her oral memory was more poor. The day Kaya died had been the first time Kerala could remember not crying. Her eyes burned sometimes, but she hadn't shed a tear since.


The old tauren was thin and boney. It was months after Lippia's pyre, during the best hunting season in the seven years Kerala was captive, but the woman could barely eat or drink, she had such trouble swallowing. The Shaking Death hit her hard and fast. The shaman could no longer walk. Her words were often slurred. She would jerk in violent reaction to noises, or when she was touched. She often tried to bite and hit, until she recognized Kerala. Most of the time, though, she simply sat trembling, muttering nonsense and staring at nothing as if talking to someone unseen.

That day there had been a wind storm. The air was thick with dust. Everything was hazy. The sun was nothing more than a dull glow, but only at high noon was it bright enough to know that this was the day, and not still night. Everything was grey and colorless. Maybe that was why Kerala didn't notice the rain, at first.

Kaya did. The shaman loved the rain, but hadn't felt it once since her capture. Suddenly, she burst out in hysterics. Kerala had thought she was seizing again, and dropped to the ground to hold her. Kaya glared at Kerala. The druid could still hear the madness in her laughter.

"Malt-t-ttt!" she'd cried. "Melt 'wayn.... nnnn thrain." She'd complained often that she was melting away. Kerala could only guess that she was aware that her mind was failing. She couldn't imagine what a terrible feeling it must be. "I say! Shaysayshayshay. Shhhhhhhh. Ai I! Ayyyy "

Trembling in Kerala's arms, the shaman had fallen silent then, staring off to one side, as if listening intently to something. Her head bobbed and sometimes her eyes slid away, but they'd return to the same spot when Kaya regained that much control. The rain began actually falling then, enough so that Kerala could feel it.

The old shaman jerked. Kerala flinched to avoid her horns, and Kaya's broken nod continued as she made noise. "Mmmmmm hmmmm mmhmmm. Shay." She spasmed again, and Kerala could tell by the way she breathed that Kaya felt pain. The younger girl held the old shaman, rubbing, talking soothingly, until finally the trembling rigid limbs relaxed, and the episode was over. Kaya lay still, shivering occasionally as if she was too weak even to maintain the tremor.

"Kerrr...rrrrla...?" Kaya asked softly.

Kerala swallowed and gently touched the shaman's cheek, guiding Kaya's slack head so the woman could see her. "I'm here."

Kaya actually managed a smile. She tried to swallow, and ended up coughing with the failure to do so. Kerala hugged her upright and patted her back until the sick woman caught her breath.

"Kerrrr, 'm hollow. Ithurrtsh. Go...woooo gway. Ye." Kaya sighed and her face scrunched up in a grimace, both because she was aware enough to know how poorly she was communicating and because her muscles hurt. She began tremoring steadily again. This brief moment of near-lucidity would quickly fade.

"I'm not leaving you, Kaya. I won't go away." Kerala told her. Kaya's head jerked up and fell backward, and she smiled a real smile at the sky she looked at. The rain was falling heavier. Kerala felt the cool wetness starting to penetrate through fur to her skin, and it tickled where it began to run in rivulets. "Besides, where would I go?"

She never reminded Kaya that they were already two days travel into the desolate wastes. Two days free of the Magram, and Kerala had carried her the past several hours. In that two days, they'd found nothing. No water, no animals to hunt. They didn't have enough supplies.

Kaya tried to lift her head, and with Kerala's help, sat upright again. The shaman's eyes locked on something to the side. She seemed to listen with serious focus, until her body rippled in another small seizure. She cried out through teeth tightly clenched. Kerala's own teeth and lips were set firmly. It broke her heart to witness this terrible sickness killing Kaya.

" Chiiii. Yld." Kaya blinked deliberately, and her eyes focused, briefly on Kerala's. "End it." she said clearly. "Kerrr... do shai telllll. Oooo. Look!" Kaya's outside arm twitched and flopped as she brought it up to touch Kerala's chest. The pressure against her vest was weak and uneven. She raised her own hand to cover the old shaman's and keep it there against her heart. "Inshide. They...yeh. Hay. T! They lie. Yoooo shee...." Kaya tried to swallow, and the muscles in her neck abandoned the task halfway. She gagged.

"I know Kaya. I'm strong. I can see it now. They hate. They lie. I never will again, I'm stronger than they are." Kerala tried to reassure the old shaman, to let her know she understood and save her the effort of speaking.

Kaya recovered enough to breathe, and again her weight settled into Kerala's arms. "Melthing. Shend Hurtsh!"

Kaya had to give the command and plea several more times before Kerala gave in. Kaya was obviously in pain... in between the tremors, she complained with varying degrees of clarity that she was hollow inside, that she was melting. She wanted to go. She also made Kerala promise again not to lie. Before she'd deteriorated so badly, that had been one of Kaya's last lessons. She'd taught Kerala how the centaur twisted the truth to serve their own vision. She was always quick to point out the lack of logic in the things they said or did. Eventually, even Kerala, taught to hate by them, could not deny the truth in the old shaman's words. Baby Lippia had been the beginning, but Kaya taught Kerala something other than hate.

Kerala had obeyed, and done as she was told. While the sky leaked water for the first time in months, her eyes were dry. She pushed their only weapon, the broken handle of a spear with a chipped stone tip, up through Kaya's ribs. Kaya smiled crookedly through the pain of it, and then her gaze slid away, to that same spot where she must have seen something invisible to Kerala's healthy mind.. Her smile became wider at whatever it was she saw.

Kerala sat with Kaya's body until the rain ended. Her face turned up to it. Sometimes her mouth opened to catch the droplets and drink. When the brief storm ended, the air quickly became hot and hazy again. The breeze stirred, and soon enough the desert grit dried out enough to begin drifting in scouring patterns with it. She missed the rain. Everything was moving except for Kaya. The shaman was still and lifeless.

Kerala eventually stood up. The tiny cloth with meagers supplies hung from her hand. She felt hollow, like Kaya had said. She turned first one direction, then another. There were no landmarks, nothing to differentiate one direction from another. She didn't know what she would encounter in any of them but one.

The Magram had not stopped her when she took Kaya away from them. They let her go. The Shaking Death was a very serious thing. Kerala could keep walking the desert without fear of being hunted down, for their fear of the disease. She didn't know anything about the land, though. It was just as likely that she'd wander the emptiness until her strength faded and she fell down to die.

Kerala turned back the way she came.


The tide receded, leaving the druid healer sprawled out on the mushroom drying under a crusting layer of salt. Her thoughts circled around among past and present, Magram and Grim, Kaya and Lupinum. Lippia and Aziris. Agiga and Lomani. She didn't know what to do with the thoughts, but they swirled regardless.

I see what they did to other races and it makes me sick. I was taught their treachery very young. Those words from Lupinum, more than any others from Lomani or Aziris or even Kaya, rang in her ears over and over.

She taught you how to hate...

It occurred to Kerala that she had already been doing what Kaya had once done with her. She'd accompanied Lupinum to a few Grim meetings. She felt as if she belonged there in attendance, even if she wouldn't be welcomed. She'd remained hidden, usually close to the Forsaken priest. His mental abilities meant they could still communicate while she remained motionless and silent in her chosen place, listening.

In Winterspring, Ruuki claimed that the spirits haunting the lake site of that night's Inquisition meeting were testament to a job that was half-assed, lingering as testament that the elves were ever there to begin with. She claimed it was a lesson to the Grim, the reason why they could not simply kill their enemies and move on but must eradicate ALL sign and trace of them.

That was all well and good, in theory. Except that Kerala had just spent several torturous days endeavoring to improve her reading, and one of the books she'd read happened to be a history book. Lake Kel'theril was an elven city that had been destroyed in the Sundering that split the world, not from any mistake of an enemy attack. She told Lupinum so.

When Ruuki expressed permission to punch Cobrak's face full of arrows or gunfire because he'd left the Grim after threatening Syreena, she pointed out the discrepancy in the logic. Cobrak was horde, not alliance, and the Grim claimed to follow the Mandate to protect the Horde, that they didn't fight Horde. That certainly had not applied to Gallid, the wimpy death knight who had gone Mad. It didn't apply to anyone who angered Syreena. Lupinum actually admitted the hypocrisy, and said that he saw how the Grim were fragmented.

That night in Lordaeron, a chaotic meeting to be sure, Kerala had looked down on everyone assembled from a safe perch on a wagon above them. An undead supplicant who identified himself as Marius Kelgrave had of course been asked the farm question. His answer, as one who sought to join the Grim, was predictable. He claimed that he who helped the criminals inherited the crime. What sort of twisted logic was that? A brief comment, and Lupinum had asked the warrior if he had ever helped someone who needed it. He got an affirmative, if well-worded answer. Kerala's point was made.

Maybe she could teach Lupinum.

The damp druid stood and shook herself. Her fur was sticky with salt, and she didn't care. It would work it's way out eventually. "Frantic focus, Kaya. You taught me, but they still don't notice. I'll show him how to look inside. Maybe he can learn to see the lie. Maybe he can learn something besides hate." Kerala shifted, becoming feathered. She wanted to fly high and far, leave the earth and it's troubles behind for a while.

Her sharp eyes glanced down to the bonfire as she passed over. Of course, Lupinum was no longer there. He was off fighting the enemy he hated.

"Say I"

The dust has finally settled, on the field of Human Clay

Just enough light has shown through, To tell the night from the day

We're incomplete and hollow

For our maker's gone away

Who is to blame?

We'll surely melt in the rain

Say I, Say I

Say I, Say I

Say I, Say I!

The stillness is so lifeless, with no spirit in your soul

Like children with no vision, do exactly what they're told

Being led into the desert

For your strength will surely fade

Who is to blame?

We'll surely melt in the rain

Say I, Say I

Say I, Say I

Say I, Say I!

Say I!, Say I!

Say I!

Come on

Frantic focus (Frantic, faction, focus)

(The world breathes and out forms this misconception we call, man)

We still don't notice

So look inside (But I don't know him, No, I don't know him)

and see (Because he lies..)

They lie!

Say I, yeah

Say I, yeah

Say I

Say I, Say I

Say I, Say I!

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16. Luck Be a Lady - Frank Sinatra

Chanchu sighed and flopped over face-first onto the plush cushion of her bed. What a day! Certainly, she now knew better than to proclaim boredom whilst sitting in the garrison tavern. She'd gotten a list of tasks to perform from all kinds of interesting travelers. She'd been to some pretty awesome places too, but by far the dank and smelly confines of some mountain had been her least favorite.

Chanchu chin-walked her head sideways against the smooth silk of her poofy bed. How she loved this big comfy bed. She'd adopted more than just the pandaren fighting style, and she really, REALLY loved their tendency toward the more comfortable things in life. Oh bed, how I missed you, she thought. But not quite yet...She had things to put away.

This was always her favorite part of going out. New places, old places... her hands had a mind of their own. She'd pick up all kinds of random things. It was almost like trick-or-treating, except Chanchu didn't ask. She was stealing, in all actuality, but she'd come to terms with it years ago. She'd tried once or twice to quell the habit, but picking things up and taking them was never a conscious decision. By now, she'd resigned herself to it, and so, emptying her pack at the end of a day was almost a ritualistic task. What sort of surprises would she find?

The tauren monk rolled over in bed with another sigh. She was so sleepy... it would be very easy to just close her eyes now and sleep, fully dressed. But, that would never do. It was SO much more snuggly to sleep with direct silk -to-fur contact. So, she finally sat up grudgingly and scowled at her bootie, as if it was all it's fault.

She really liked her bootie. It and her gloves had been dyed a deep, dark magenta color that reflected lighter, and went well with her pink undershirt. She peeled the top of the leather leg protection down below her knee, then slid the tube the rest of the way down until she could kick it off. The bootie circled around her hoof once and went flying across the room. Her gloves quickly followed in similarly erratic un-aimed directions. The pink shirt ended up puddled in the floor, and then some very ungraceful flopping occured atop the poofy bed, and leather britches came off as well.

NOW she was truly comfy.

Chanchu, rather than sit up again and ruin the delicious feeling of silk against the length of her, simply twisted again, so that her head ended up where her hoof had been. Her bag was there on the floor where she'd dropped it. She yanked at the drawstring and unceremoniously upended it.

Items spilled out in an avalanche. Lots of shiny things. A few regular coins. A pretty hair comb. Someone's pocket watch. One of the earrings that lady hunter had been wearing. Chanchu laughed seeing it. That elf would never find out how she'd lost it. There were also other random things. A colorful, but hopelessly crushed flower. A seed pod with a nifty swirling texture to it. It felt good in her fingertips. She was surprised to find a small glass jar with a screw-type lid, like might be used for jams or jellies. Inside, was a bug.

Chanchu frowned at it. She normally didn't pick up live things. Well... ok maybe she did. A cricket in a tiny ornate cage came to mind, and once a beetle with a shiny jewel-toned shell. She shook the jar, not easily able to discern what it was about this bug that might have caught her fancy. It was a rather ugly fly-type bug, and the jar it was in was nothing special.

The bug glowed.

Chanchu giggled, delighted. How wonderful! The bug's little butt light up like a tiny green light. On, off, on... off. The flashing kept up even after she set the jar down. No wonder someone had thought to catch the little thing in a jar!

Undoubtedly it would eventually die. After all, what did bugs eat? Chanchu didn't know. If it survived the night, she'd set it loose. Maybe it could fly somewhere new to live. Or not. She didn't particularly care. For now, she had an interesting new nightlight.

Chanchu picked through the other things in the floor with waning enthusiasm, yawning. She had just about decided that the bug was the most interesting item in her day's collection when she realized that a small wooden box had a lock on it.

Chanchu loved locks. The things that people chose to safeguard behind them never failed to be interesting. Sometimes shiny, sometimes only sentimental, but always worth something. Given her habit, it had come naturally that the monk had been required to learn the secrets of opening several kinds of locks.

The wooden box was interesting in and of itself. She couldn't read the writing that scrolled around the top edge in foreign runes, but someone had thoughtfully included pictures too. The lock was set into the mouth of one particularly universal icon- a vague skull shape with Xs where eyes should be. The keyhole was it's mouth. How quaint.

The lock clicked open after just a moment. Chanchu's tools lived right there in a pocket of her pack, as she used them so often. The scent of herbs reached her nose. Seriously, if this was a box of potpourri...

It wasn't.

The box was padded inside to prevent noise from rattling. Dried leaves of various plants were scattered about. Chanchu recognized ritualistic trappings when she saw them. Whatever. The items in the box were varied and each unique. Some were extremely old. Others were obviously much newer. Chanchu tilted the box this way and that, shifting them about, but not touching any of them. She didn't want to have to get up just now to wash her hands!

The box looked like it contained luck charms. The monk recognized the trollish rabbit foot. The boney desiccated foot was dyed a vibrant orange, with tiny teeth and leather twine wrapped around it. A necklace, maybe.

There was a plain metal horseshoe.

A dwarven folding pocket-type knife with a carving of a four-leafed plant in the polished wooden handle. The inset was emerald.

There was a new-looking bracelet of scarlet woven fiber around familiar coins. Chanchu smiled at that one. She had a similar pandaren coin that traveled with her, a gift from her mentor.

The box even contained a set of tiny dreamcatchers as might be found adorning the ears or horns of her own Shu'halo brothers and sisters. The small hoops had intricate netted designs- one crescent-shaped for Musha, the other representing An'she. They both sported the down-feathers of a swoop as well as tiny wishbones from very young birds.

What an interesting find! Surely, this box trumped a little old flash-bug. Chanchu closed the lid and slid back on her mattress so her head and arms were no longer hanging off. The pile of stuff could wait until morning to be put away.

Chanchu smiled to herself, wiggling deeper into the padding of her comfy bed. Wouldn't it be fun to give those things away! That was part of how Chanchu dealt with her habit- she didn't keep the things she stole. Technically, she only borrowed things. When she could, she returned them to their owners later. It was often much more challenging to do this that it was to pocket whatever item had caught her fancy. If she were going to get caught, it was usually not when taking something, but it returning it. But sometimes, there was simply no knowing where something had come from. In those cases, Chanchu passed on her knickknacks to others. She imagined it somewhat like Winter's Veil, or maybe even trick-or-treating. How delightful to find some new and interesting thing in one's pockets?

Chanchu never claimed to be perfect, but she always gave as good as she got.

"Luck Be A Lady"

They call you lady luck

But there is room for doubt

At times you have a very un-lady-like way

Of running out

Your on this date with me

The pickin's have been lush

And yet before the evening is over

You might give me the brush

You might forget your manners

You might refuse to stay

And so the best that I can do is pray

Luck be lady tonight

Luck be lady tonight

Luck if you've ever been a lady to begin with

please be a lady tonight

Luck let a gentleman see

Just how nice a dame I can be

I know the way you've treated all those galls before me

Please be a lady with me

A lady doesn't leave her escort

It isn't fair, and it isn't nice

A lady doesn't wander all over the room

And then blow on some other guy's dice

Why don't we keep this party polite

Never get out of my sight

Stick with me baby, I'm the gal that you came in with

Luck be lady tonight

Luck let a gentleman see

Just how nice a dame you can be

I know the way you've treated all those galls before me

A lady never flirts with strangers

She'd have a heart, she'd be nice

A lady doesn't wander all over the room

And blow on some other guy's dice

So why don't we keep this party polite

(Uh huh) Never get out of my sight (no way)

[both] Stick with me baby, I'm the guy that you came in with

Luck be lady

Luck be lady

Luck be lady

this very night

this night

[both] be a lady

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17. Long Road to Ruin - Foo Fighters

"We need to talk."

"Is that how you greet everyone now, Seer? No hello, or good morning?"

*sigh* "Good morning, Aziris."

"Good morning Lomani." *pause* "You seem... rather unhappy."

"I am. I am troubled."

"How can I help?"

"I worry, about all of us. I don't know what to do, or if anything should be done..."

"You are a kind-hearted soul. It is in your nature to care for others. What specifically is troubling you?"

"Ever since Konro's death, everything has been so.... I have no word for it. I don't know."

"Lost, Lomani. You are lost."

"Yes! And if I am lost with everyone else, how can I guide us along the path?"

*soft laughter* "Always, you keep the faith. A true priestess, you are, even now."

"Ugh! That, right there. Does everyone keep secrets from me? What do you know that you are not telling me?"

"I'm sorry, friend, it is not my place to tell you. You'll have to ask Kerala."

"She won't talk to me. She is avoiding me.... Why do you frown?"

"Perhaps it is not you who are lost, but that druid."

"She's been through a lot. She won't admit it, but Konro's death, the failure to reunite the Horns... it doesn't mean nothing to her. Since then it's been one thing after another. The Grim trials, and then whatever it was that happened when she left them..."

"That is precisely what I mean, Lomani. Your-, mm... Kerala has gone from one thing to another without thought to the direction in which she is going. She doesn't stop to consider her actions- she just does."

"I've noticed that as well. But how can I help her if she won't even speak to me? I've done something wrong, and I don't even know what it was to fix the rift between us."

"Oh dear Lomani... it's nothing you have done, believe me. She is a strange one, but not unreachable. Perhaps together we can help her."

"I thought you were joining the Grim? What do you have in mind?"

"You are more important to me than any position of power within the Grim. They can wait. You need help now. After all, you and Kerala have limited time on this world, and I do not."

"Alright.... what do you suggest, priestess?"

"Well... it seems to me that you need time alone. Time to pause and reflect. Time to talk, without interruption from outside influence. I find that I meditate best when not surrounded by others, do you agree?"

"Yes, but-"

"Kerala often goes off alone does she not? Why do you think that is?"

"To think, without being confused by everything around her."

"Exactly. You have not been alone, truly left alone, in a long time, have you?"

"...No. We tried to bring back the Horns, and then Accalia and the curse..."

"And then the Iron Horde and Gul'dan, yes yes. But the citadel has been conquered. Before the next imminent threat to mankind and the world as we know it makes itself known, do you not think it would be wise, in this momentary lull, to let others shoulder the burden? A priestess, a Seer, even, should be certain. We are the leaders. We are the guides. If we do not know where we are going, how can we expect others to follow?"

*non-committal noise*

"Lomani, look at it another way. Your druid has a stubborn heart. She has no home, no real life here, no love. You have come to me because you do not know what to do. I am telling you. Leave the garrison. Leave this place. Find a field somewhere without a name, and go there, before it is too late. You know of paths and wandering souls. The road to ruin seems long, but it is not. Remember your Brother. Guide her, while she is still here to guide."

"Will you come with me?"

"It warms my cold heart to hear you ask me that. Of course, I will come with you. We will go together."

"When? I would leave tonight."

" I know you would. Give me time. A week. Your people celebrate Atohuna next week, yes?"

"I... What do you know of that? Yes."

"I once participated in the ceremony myself. It is a ritual of friendship yes? Not just to pledge fraternal love, but also to reconcile with those you have quarreled with through the year? What better time to embark on such an endeavor?"

"Surely the Earthmother herself has led me to you, Aziris."

"The universe works in mysterious ways. Give me seven days. Your druid will come with us. We will go and spend time together, just ourselves. The pieces will fall in place and we will find the path together. We are linked, you and she and I."

"One week. We will celebrate Atohuna. Then we will go."

"Long Road To Ruin"

Here now don't make a sound

Say have you heard the news today?

One flag was taken down

To raise another in its place

A heavy cross you bear

A stubborn heart remains unchanged

No home, no life, no love

No stranger singing in your name

Maybe the season

The colors change in the valley skies

Dear God I've sealed my fate

Running through hell, heaven can wait

Long road to ruin there in your eyes

Under the cold streetlights

No tomorrow, no dead end in sight

Let's say we take this town

No king or queen of any state

Get up to shut it down

Open the streets and raise the gates

I know one wall to scale

I know a field without a name

Head on without a care

Before it's way too late

Maybe the season

The colors change in the valley skies

Oh, God I've sealed my fate

Running through hell, heaven can wait

Long road to ruin there in your eyes

Under the cold streetlights

No tomorrow, no dead ends

Long road to ruin there in your eyes

Under the cold streetlights

No tomorrow, no dead end in sight

For every piece to fall in place

Forever gone without a trace

Your horizon takes its shape

No turning back, don't turn that page

Come now, I'm leaving here tonight

Come now, let's leave it all behind

Is that the price you pay?

Running through hell, heaven can wait

Long road to ruin there in your eyes

Under the cold streetlights

No tomorrow, no dead ends

Long road to ruin there in your eyes

Under the cold streetlights

No tomorrow, no dead ends

Long road to ruin there in your eyes

Under the cold streetlights

No tomorrow, no dead end in sight

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18. A Big Hunk O Love - Elvis Presley

He was the luckiest man in the world.

Eli wasn't really the superstitious type. The priests always preached goodness and faith, but in his experience, bad things happened to good people just as good things happened to bad people. Maybe even moreso. Good people like him often seemed to run into more troubles than if they'd just look out for number one.

So it was with a tremendous amount of surprise to him when he ran across a good luck charm with real power. Divine power. Whatever voodoo those trolls had, they knew what they were doing. He wasn't even sure why he kept it. The thing was dried out, the fur died a horridly gaudy orange color, with yellowed teeth ringing the top of it over leather wrapping. But he did keep it. He looped the necklace around his wrist like some grisly bracelet- he claimed it was a trophy off the troll chieftain he had killed in battle. The rabbit foot changed his life.

Suddenly, Eli's life was easy street. His uncle died. The man, who Eli had never met, left his entire estate... to the poorest of the family. Naturally, that was Eli, but what were the odds of that? Eli's brother had just married into moderately decent money, and suddenly Eli was richer than even him. Take that!

Eli won a new mount at the faire for guessing the correct number of parts in some newfangled engineering gadget. Down to the last ball bearing. 1477 pieces. He could have chosen the mechanical mount, or the stud stallion. Eli never did trust gnomish engineers, so he went with the horse. The animal was bred from one of Reinsson's fabled lines, and came with it's own saddle and bridle with gold-plated rivets and buckles. Gold!

The best part, though was Eli's luck with women. He wasn't much to look at. His frame was gangly, so even tailored garments rarely fit right- not that he'd ever been able to afford those before. Still, his pick-up lines, the same ones he'd failed with for years, suddenly worked like magic. He had girls any night he wanted one, once even two! Eli was very satisfied with life.


It was a little over two weeks later when Eli's body was found crammed behind some barrels in one of the narrow alleyways of stormwind. The moon was new, and the night was dark. It appeared that he had been robbed. His corpse was missing everything except his smallclothes. There was a strange mark around his right wrist, as if he'd been tied, but there was no matching mark on the other wrist, nor could any rope be found. The knife found embedded in his chest was Eli's own, a pocket switchblade engraved with his initials.

"A Big Hunk O' Love"

Hey baby, I ain't askin' much of you

No no no no no no no no baby, I ain't askin' much of you

Just a big-a big-a hunk o' love will do

Don't be a stingy little mama

You're 'bout to starve me half to death

Well you can spare a kiss or two and

Still have plenty left, no no no

Baby, I ain't askin' much of you

Just a big-a big-a hunk o' love will do

You're just a natural born beehive

Filled with honey to the top

Well I ain't greedy baby

All I want is all you got, no no no

Baby, I ain't askin' much of you

Just a big-a big-a hunk o' love will do

I got wishbone in my pocket

I got a rabbit's foot 'round my wrist

You know I'd have all the things these lucky charms could bring

If you'd give me just one sweet kiss, no no no no no no no

Baby, I ain't askin' much of you

Just a big-a big-a hunk o' love will do

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19. Killing Me Softly - Roberta Flack

Ameerega knew she was different. From a very young age, she understood that many of the folks she saw and spoke to were not really there. Sometimes they wanted her to do things for them. She often visited strange families of people she had never met, to tell them she loved them, or that they should not be sad. Sometimes she went to funerals and sang songs she had never heard. And sometimes, the people only she could see were more demanding.

It wasn't til she was older that she understood these people were dead.

The spirits would sometimes borrow her limbs, and her voice. Amee didn't mind. The people only she could see were her friends. No one else was, so why not them?

Amee's first love was a dead brave. A young warrior. She attended his funeral, and sang his death song for him. It was as she was singing that she first saw him. He silently played a drum, sitting there beneath his bier, surrounded in the gifts and offerings of those who knew him in life. He was a stranger, and yet Amee recognized a mate to her own soul. If only they could have met in life!

She sang his song, and he drummed along in perfect time. Each time his hands hit the stretched hide of his drum, her heart ached.

♪♫The Mother above thought fit to give

all creatures corn and wine.

There are golden fields where they may live

but the forest shades are mine.♫♪

The pain in her soul felt like a miniature death of it's own. A piece of her was gone. Dead. He lay right there, and she never even had the chance to know him.

♪♫The wild wolf has it's place of rest,

the kodo where to dwell,

and the Mother who gave the bird it's nest

made me a home as well.♫♪

His death song spoke of wild creatures as if of brothers. A true hunter. She could tell by his words, that he was lonely and sad. She was sad for his sadness. She could have cured his lonliness!

♪♫Go back along the Children's track,

for the hunter's eyes grow dim

to find the centaur wrongs the one

who never did harm to him.♫♪

He was killing her with his song. Amee prayed that it would end, even as she sang it for him. She felt feverish with the singing. His fingers beat on the drum. His lips kept moving, and with each word she was filled with a dark despairing.

♪♫And I!

And I stand alone.

A warrior of my race.

Upon this earth I feel I no more have a place,

since my home, friends, and kindred are driven away.

For the cruelty of the centaur has swept them away♫♪

She didn't even know his name, this young brave who had given up on life. He should have waited for her. She could have found him, if only he had waited a little bit longer.

♪♫And I!

And I must soon follow.

The great Mother calls

me away to the land where the brave never falls,

to the bright blissful shores, and the fair forest shade.

Where the curse of the centaur will never invade.♫♪

The death song finally finished. The soundless drum stopped vibrating, and the warrior's mouth closed. His lips turned up in a smile that warmed Amee's spirit as if bright sunshine shone full on it. His face was so strong, it was really hard to believe that he was dead. His eyes were clear and bright with his smile as he looked toward Amee...

Her heart broke into a million pieces. His ghostly gaze went completely through her. Amee cried with the others mourning this young brave. Amee cried for the lost love that never was.

"Killing Me Softly With His Song"


Strumming my pain with his fingers

Singing my life with his words

Killing me softly with his song

Killing me softly with his song

Telling my whole life with his words

Killing me softly with his song

I heard he sang a good song

I heard he had a style

And so I came to see him

To listen for a while

And there he was this young boy

A stranger to my eyes


I felt all flushed with fever

Embarrassed by the crowd

I felt he found my letters

And read each one out loud

I prayed that he would finish

But he just kept right on


He sang as if he knew me

In all my dark despair

And then he looked right through me

As if I wasn't there

And he just kept on singing

Singing clear and strong

Strumming my pain with his fingers

Singing my life with his words

Killing me softly with his song

Killing me softly with his song

Telling my whole life with his words

Killing me softly with his song



He was strumming my pain

Yeah, he was singing my life

Killing me softly with his song

Killing me softly with his song

Telling my whole life with his words

Killing me softly

With his song

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20. Light My Fire - The Doors

After many years, the spiritwalker began to shun society. More and more often, the faces she saw in her travels were known to her. Her son. Her husband. Her dearest sister. It was hard to tell what was real, and what was not. Which people, in her vision, truly existed, and which were spirit? Was she the grandmother to seventeen younglings, or a granddaughter herself? Sometimes she couldn't even remember that she was female. Most of the time, it didn't really matter.

The former hunter wandered. It was easier that way. Spirits lingered in their resting places, but more often, they congregated around those they loved still living. If she avoided them, she could find some measure of self-awareness.

Her animals companions stayed with her. Sometimes she hated them for that. Other times, she thanked the EarthMother profusely that they did not abandon her. In a fit of morose pessimism, she decided they were only waiting for her to die. Gigglesnort, the bonepaw hyena. Ash, the carrion bird. And her very first companion Grylio, the boar. Grylio came to her before the spirits began to speak to her. She wasn't sure if it was funny or not to think that when she ever died, her pets could have a feast.

Talensis was the only spirit she actively welcomed. His visits, though incredibly saddening to her, brought some measure of comfort. Someday, she too would die, and then they could be together. She carried his totem with her always. He was the one, when she was overwrought and through with it all, who convinced her to keep going.

Still, there were times when even her soulmate could not console her bitterness at the life she'd been forced to. Vessel. Conduit. Ancestral puppet. Sometimes she was consumed with the unfairness of it all, and those moments were only cured by fire.

Flames and heat. Scorching destruction and licking ruin. She wanted to see the world burn. Only then, when there was nothing left but soot and ash, would she find peace. She looked forward to that day. She wished for it very much, when her mind was her own. Only Talensis kept her from wallowing in pity until she sought to strike the sparks.

Amee kept a box of matches just in case.

"Light My Fire"

You know that it would be untrue

You know that I would be a liar

If I was to say to you

Girl, we couldn't get much higher

Come on baby, light my fire

Come on baby, light my fire

Try to set the night on fire

The time to hesitate is through

No time to wallow in the mire

Try now we can only lose

And our love become a funeral pyre

Come on baby, light my fire

Come on baby, light my fire

Try to set the night on fire, yeah

... [instrumental that lasts forever] ...

The time to hesitate is through

No time to wallow in the mire

Try now we can only lose

And our love become a funeral pyre

Come on baby, light my fire

Come on baby, light my fire

Try to set the night on fire

You know that it would be untrue

You know that I would be a liar

If I was to say to you

Girl, we couldn't get much higher

Come on baby, light my fire

Come on baby, light my fire

Try to set the night on fire

Try to set the night on fire

Try to set the night on fire

Try to set the night on fire!

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21. You Really Got Me - The Kinks

Kethrenorean said he would wait, and he did. He buried himself in projects and research. He invented new study techniques. He perfected old procedures.

He didn't sleep much.

He stayed in the Glade, and he waited. Little by little, his devotion began to fade. Why was he waiting? What was he doing? His place was not here, alone. He should be at her side, fighting whatever she was fighting, holding her if she cried out in the night, and trying every moment to bring a smile to her face. He remained convinced that she would return to him, but his promise to her began to feel like not enough.

He alone knew what she had been through. Was it fair to expect her to be able to make such a choice? Was it right that he put it all on her? He'd laid his heart out for her, and the rejection had hurt deeply. It still did. Never before had he ever been so vulnerable. And yet, this separation hurt so much worse. He belonged with her. Of that, he was absolutely certain.

He left after two long lonely years in the Cenarian oasis. He belonged at her side.

The tree appeared almost another two years later across the kodo graveyard from the Glade. Keth would have seen it, and known it for what it was, if he had been there.

"You Really Got Me"

Girl, you really got me goin'

You got me so I don't know what I'm doin'

Yeah, you really got me now

You got me so I can't sleep at night

Yeah, you really got me now

You got me so I don't know what I'm doin', now

Oh yeah, you really got me now

You got me so I can't sleep at night

You Really Got Me

You Really Got Me

You Really Got Me

See, don't ever set me free

I always wanna be by your side

Girl, you really got me now

You got me so I can't sleep at night

Yeah, you really got me now

You got me so I don't know what I'm doin', now

Oh yeah, you really got me now

You got me so I can't sleep at night

You Really Got Me

You Really Got Me

You Really Got Me

Oh no...

[Guitar Solo]

See, don't ever set me free

I always wanna be by your side

Girl, you really got me now

You got me so I can't sleep at night

Yeah, you really got me now

You got me so I don't know what I'm doin', now

Oh yeah, you really got me now

You got me so I can't sleep at night

You Really Got Me

You Really Got Me

You Really Got Me

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22. The Bodyguard: I Will Always Love You - Sally Harmon

It wasn't much of a discussion, as far as such things went. There weren't so many words exchanged. To an outsider listening in, no sense would be made from the fragmented thoughts that emerged as sounds.

By now, Aziris had seen enough of the scrawny druid in her animal forms to recognize the bird that had once shivered in Keever's cages.

Aziris was not strictly a believer in things divine. She easily preached the tenets of Forgotten Shadow because they were logic more than any blind adherence to a nameless faith. But she had always respected that there were things that happened in the world beyond the ability of magic to explain. Her chosen surname was Faithshade for more than the assumed reason.

But even Aziris had to admit it was a mighty coincidence that had brought not only the tauren sisters together, but her and Agiga too. Or Lomani, as she was called now. The now-thoroughly-religious Seer would of course claim the Earthmother's hand in it, guiding them all, and Aziris had no real reason to doubt it. Kerala was profoundly non-religious in her outlook. She did not see the pattern to events, nor would she much care if she did, the undead suspected. However, she and Aziris shared some things in common, not the least of which was the silver seer they both loved.

To Lomani, Aziris suggested a retreat to bond with Kerala and mend a broken relationship, and a fractured psyche.

To Kerala, the priestess made no such suggestion. She issued the command, and the flighty druid took a long look at the frail undead girl, then simply nodded.

Aziris still wasn't entirely aware of what mysterious thing bonded the druid to her so closely. It was more than simply that Kerala was responsible for her second "death". The druid and her sister had brought Aziris back, and that made them even, as far as the little priestess was concerned. After all, Kerala didn't know yet that it was her very sizable bank account that had funded Aziris' surgery. Whatever it was, Aziris was not above milking an advantage when it was presented to her. The druid, for whatever reason, had not put up nearly the objection that had been expected.

So, in the glorious painting of the sky at dusk, the two of them lapsed from non-conversation to outright silence. From the top balcony of the Warspear inn, they watched the various people moving in and out and around the outpost.

After a time, the sharp priestess realized that Kerala watched one group in particular. She calculated the angle of the druid's gaze, and followed it. Not all of them wore black tabards, but Aziris saw enough of them to guess at the crimson sigil that couldn't quite be made out at this distance. Grim.

One figure in particular captured the tauren's attention. A thin and boney frame clad in black and white robes. Aziris frowned, glancing to the druid.

She asked without preamble, "Do you love him?"

A sideways glance. A glare. "I amm protecting him."

"I did not ask if you were his bodyguard or not, I asked if you love him."

The druid scowled at her. Wrinkles marred the smooth stripes along her muzzle and cheeks. Like their previous exchanges, Aziris didn't need the words to know the truth. The answer, such as it was, was yes. Or at least, Kerala believed it to be. That was enough. She cast her glowing yellow eyes to the man in question. The Grim priest was smiling and joking with those of his guild, unaware of the eyes watching him.

"If you would listen to advice, do not tell him. Let him know you are leaving, in the case he would worry, but nothing more than that."

The words provoked another indignant glare, rebellious even. Aziris could well imagine that Kerala very much disliked being told what to do, even couched so politely in the form of friendly recommendation.

"If he knows, and feels the same, your absence would only pain him. If you still feel the same when we return, then would be the time to share. Do as you will." The priestess stood then, and smoothed her robes. The extra words had had the desired effect, and the druid's gaze had softened again as she looked down on Lupinum. "You have one week. Use it wisely."

Then she left.

[instrumental of Whitney Houston's

I Will Always Love You]

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23. How Can I Hold On - Stabbing Westward

They found her.

Azi was so relieved. If she could have cried, she would have, she felt so much joy. They found her! But the tribesmen were solemn and silent. They lugged their travois, the twin poles cutting sharp grooves in the snow and soil beneath. There was a long line of them.

The Snowfury tribe entered Venomspite at one end, and left through the other. The thickly-furred tauren offered no explanations, answered no questions, and when confronted, bristled and glared sullenly. The entire line would drop their burdens and stand watching. They didn't draw weapons, but Azi knew that stoic readiness if ever she saw it.

The orc in question gave up his attempt at getting answer. He stepped back. The taunka, refugees, were promising additions into the horde. No sense fighting them just because a few were rude. The line of Snowfury nomads glanced only sparingly at the other tauren and taunka present. They deposited their burdens and walked on back out into the white wilderness like ghosts.

Some of those they had brought back were colorless, partially frozen in poses as they had died in transport. It was easy to tell which ones still possessed the spark of life. Agiga was one. Her silver fur and armor were splashed with so much red...

After the initial frantic triage, Aziris was slowly able to piece together what might have occurred to her friend and the others in the village. Each adventurer that thawed and began to talk told a slightly different story, but they shared enough in common to find truth. The sinkholes, the nerubian attack, the overwhelming numbers...

Agiga was injured in a myriad of different ways, but the one that scared Aziris the most was her broken horn. When the tauren was transported to Dalaran, Aziris went with her. She became a regular visitor to the back corner of the clinic. It was different, being the visitor and not the visited for once.

Months passed. Agiga stayed sleeping. Aziris read many books. She dabbled with an alchemy set. She was talked into joining others on short adventures. Then long ones.

When her dearest friend finally opened her eyes more than half a year later, they were empty. Aziris was heartbroken. There was no recognition at all. The druid couldn't even speak. She was Forsaken- a race possessed of infinite patience and perseverance. Looking at the stranger laying in the bed, Aziris wondered. What was the point in holding on anymore, when there was nothing left to hold onto?

Agiga died in Northrend. When the broken silver tauren was taken home by her people to continue healing, Aziris did not go with her.

"How Can I Hold On"

Back when you were my life

You gave me something that I could live for

Now everything's changed

And you're gone

But I'm still here waiting


How can I hold on

With nothing to hold on to?

Why should I hold on

When there's nothing to hold on to?

Sex made me feel alive

But now I'm so bored with mindless passion

Drugs were somewhere to hide

But they've left me feeling cold and empty


I thought you were my friend

That you were someone that I could turn to

Now I realize

That you were a friend when you needed something

[chorus x2]

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24. Marching Free - Gaelic Storm

It was a wondrous sight, the child thought. Parades were always amazing. Bright colors, fantastically talented tumblers and gymnasts and acrobats. Trained animals doing tricks. And the music! The child loved all the varieties of music, with the same thump-thump undertone that had the people stepping forward in unison.

The most wonderful part of a parade, though, were the armies. Thump, thump. Stomp stomp. A cry, and as one an entire regimen would perform some maneuver, like a perfectly tuned kind of synchronized mechanical... machine. The men were dressed so sharply. They were different people, but they were all the same. Their buttons gleamed.

The child's favorite part of the army were the horses. Even the horses! Especially the horses. The horses were magnificent. Dressed in shiny tack and with their long manes and tails perfectly untangled and flowing. The quality of the army could be seen directly reflected by the quality of the horses. Some units, the clop-clop of hooves was chaotic and the horses seemed like extra and unnecessary parts of the unit. They were apart. The cavalry didn't mesh with the infantry. Those were not-good armies.

The best armies had the best horses. Horses that were horse-gods among their herd, surely. It didn't even matter if they were girls or boys- the best armies had both, because it wasn't the underpart that mattered. That's not what made a horse the best horse. The best horses were just as disciplined as their riders. The best horses marched forward while their riders sat completely motionless on top, or posted with the rhythm of the march. The clop-clop of the best horses matched the thump-thump of the drums, and the child absolutely loved it.

The parade marched by, and the shining beautiful army units and their horses slowly passed. On down the street, they went, but the thump-thumping and stomping and clopping could be heard long after they were out of sight. The unguided reinless perfect horses went right where they were supposed to.

The child knew if anyone bothered to look, there would be a mark on each horse. It was a secret thing, the mark. There were other, public marks, but those could be faked. Only the one mark distinguished the really amazing horses from the fake ones. No one knew about the mark. How many people ever stared a horse right in its rear end? Not many. But under the tail, right up next to the butt part, the child knew the best horses had a secret brand. One day, the child would find the place that those horses came from. One day, the child would have a Reinsson horse.

We're marching home

We're marching free

We'll sail across the ocean white

Our homeland for to see


We're marching home

We're marching free

We'll fly across the open sky

Our home is our true love

And never more will be

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