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Qabian

Time Shattered

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She has her claws in too many aspects of my life as it is. Now her brother? At least, he seems unlike her in most ways, but it's just another connection where there are already too many.

I should... not have gone there, but I felt like I had no choice. Not that anyone but myself was forcing me, but... After everything, simply... staying away... was not something I could do, not without at least making the attempt. I was lucky it was only Damian around, although perhaps if he hadn't been there I could have been and gone without waking her.

What she said about Sylvanas is... her problem, not mine. Or it should be, but anyone whose focus turns to her, after they take out her family, will inevitably find those connections. Given what she spoke about sounded like paranoia, something I'm highly familiar with, I know the path that can unfold from there.

There is no way that I am willing to stand between her and Sylvanas' minions if there's any truth to her presumptions. There's also no way I just stand aside and let her die. Or is there?

On the one hand, I know what I should do. I should stay away from her entirely.

But now her brother.

Awatu wants us to pay attention to Genn, but I wonder if Anduin isn't stronger than we're giving him credit for. Yes, he's an idiot child, but I'm not entirely certain he's an idiot child entirely bent to the will of the adults in the room. I think he's too opinionated and has too much power to simply do what everyone else says without asserting his own ideas.

Umbral has her tabard, at my insistence, essentially. I went where I needed to go and made my arguments and got my approval, such as it was. It feels like desperation. When she turned over that journal, we should -- and again, doing things I know I should not -- have cut her throat immediately, no hesitation, no compromise. But much of what we do feels like desperation these days. The pendulum never completed its swing. Will it ever? Will we have to force it?

Yes, she worked hard. She "earned" the privilege by completing the tasks set for her. Several times over, in truth. But she is so deeply flawed that she is utterly untrustworthy. And it's not because she lies. It's because she won't, so she floats her flaws on the surface where we can all see them, and yet rather than destroy her for them, we are forced to take them in stride. We had to give her the tabard to make sure that hard work of hers doesn't turn against us, not because she is what we need.

Now her brother.

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War for peace. War for peace. War for peace.

And no one sees the irony.

No one.

I love it.

Hit them while they're bleeding. Yes, we're bleeding, too, and risk everything in making the strike, but...

But if we win this now, we can force acceptance and servility for centuries.

Really? How has that worked out historically?

If you insist.

If there's one thing I'm never going to argue with, it's scorched earth. Scorch it all.

Especially Lordaeron. The Windrunners have had their claws in human scalps their entire lives. Sylvanas was only too happy to find herself gifted with the power to hold human lives in her hands and have them worship her for it. Nathanos isn't just any corpse.

I hope she regrets what she's done. I hope it saddens her to see her people, her human people removed from the home they bought with the blood of their families. That pit was disgusting before they turned it into a literal sewer, and it's disgusting now. Leaving it unusable for generations is all it has ever deserved.

I hear the rumors trying to pin Malfurion's escape on Saurfang. Maybe so. That might explain his little failed death wish drama. To return their hero to them is a crime that cannot go unpunished. But was Sylvanas not there? Shouldn't she have seen it done?

While everyone else bemoans the lack of honor in murdering hundreds maybe thousands of civilians, I'll be over here wondering why they failed to cut the head off the snake.

Keep leaving nothing but ash and blight in your wake, Warchief. I certainly don't care how many innocents on either side you take with you in the name of some sort of necessity or survival. This is the annihilation we've been preaching for more than a decade. This is what we live for.

Edited by Qabian
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What... have we done?

I have never seen such...

So much...

These islands bore me, but Azshara's voice is audible here as it was on the other Isles. I do not fear what she will do. I fear what she will fail to do. I fear she will become just another setback that we will overcome, when the history she holds should mean so much more.

History becomes meaningless in the face of the Bronze and the Titans. They strip the value from our stories and endeavor to make us worthless. They will succeed if we do not hold them at bay.

Alphaeus asked if I had ever done anything selfless in my life.

My immediate response, and the correct one, was an obvious no.

But then it occurred to me, and because I enjoy the sound of my own voice, I even revealed that I have evidence to the contrary.

Perhaps it is a singular event. No, not entirely singular, but definitely rare.

I am capable of selflessness, but if you want it from me, you have to earn it by doing something that means a great deal to me and absolutely nothing to anyone else.

In the grand scheme of things, I am capable of no such thing. I have no need for selflessness under the Mandate. The Mandate encompasses my self and every narcissistic action I take furthers its impossible cause. It is best not to dwell on stolen moments that suggest I have the capacity for any real sacrifice. 

I know that what matters most to me is my self, so I had pieces of me carved away, my ear, my name. But knowing that hardly seemed enough, I tried and failed to do more at the time. In the many months since, I think I have done enough, and look forward to earning that future place of respect without continued sacrifice.

But to suggest that anything could matter to me more than I do is heresy of the highest order.

Isn't it?

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The sound of my own voice never fails to start trouble. Thankfully the number of people who have ever realized this is small. Better not to be interesting.

I do a lot of truth telling for someone who is an avowed liar. I wanted to bemoan the place I'm in. I do not mold and encourage and develop people. I can test them, but I do not create them. We could, plausibly, have someone in this role who could create new Grim from troubled souls who find their way to us. I am not such a person. At best, I assess. Even then, I find assessment exhausting. People are... tiring. Destruction in and of itself is much more sensible than people.

Not only that, but I am, in fact, a terrible Grim. On the surface, I'm not, but anyone who has been forced to trust me for any amount of time has a sense of it, even if they cannot define it. Awatu does, I'm sure. Syreenna definitely does.

The actions I take to keep myself from giving in always have an edge of treason. Never against the Mandate, but often against individuals. Not because I hold the Mandate particularly highly, but it is a ludicrously easy path to follow and not one that actually requires a great deal of rules. People, however, are complicated.

I was surprised to hear Awatu mention Loa in such a manner, but perhaps he has ideas I do not. Ideas I tried to contemplate aloud, but of course not. That and... I don't know just how well any given power can obtain souls with so much competition for them out there.

There are things I shouldn't speak of. I miss my didactic preaching on the subjects in the time before, when people were simpler and easier to use. I have fears now I did not have before the Scourge, not of the dead, but of weaknesses I then did not realize I had.

Every once in a while, those weaknesses make themselves known in places where the doors have not been closed. I should keep my mouth shut, or pretend the last fifteen years didn't happen. One of the two. Instead, true confessions with an insistence that I talk too much rather than an implication that at least half of it was false.

No, none of it was false. I have been monumentally stupid. I will likely continue to be whenever weaknesses come to light, but I will not be caught. After all, I already am.

Where's Tradire?

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Oh no. Oh no no no no.

I just realized. The other possibilities.

None of this is good. None of it. I think I can keep it from... going entirely off the rails? But it's a mess.

Don't they know nothing comes of this? I learned my lesson. I'll play the games and say the words all I want, but it's going nowhere.

Besides, behind closed doors, I'm worse. In every possible way. Mm, almost every possible way. They have no idea how much worse I really am.

There's only one place I go for truth.

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It should be enough.

It should be enough just to hate. I shouldn't need reasons. Garithos was the reason I offered whenever a reason was demanded. He was reason enough, too. I shouldn't

She doesn't understand.

Hate is easy. It is warm and strong. It protects from all manner of harm. I didn't need reasons to hate. We were just predators, preying on the weak, the lesser, those who would grow and learn and die too fast to remember the techniques we could focus on for decades. We didn't need reasons.

Yes, they gave us reasons, but we didn't need them.

They weren't my friends. I didn't lose anyone close to me. Not to them. The only thing that killed them was the Scourge, and the Scourge was what? A disease of the world? Arthas and Kel'thuzad can take a lot of blame for being weak and lesser, for falling for trap after trap after trap. Dar'khan can take some blame, for being power hungry, a grand failing of our kind, and his sweet little mutant children overrunning Stormwind now are what happen when you open the gates for death.

But even though they weren't my friends, I was too close to what happened to them. It changed me. It changed what made me hesitate. I was always more violent than not, and though I was never demanding, I resolved I never would be. I would never be like them. I would never take the way they did. I would only destroy.

She doesn't understand. How could she? Who does understand? A wolf without its pack is prey, and I've been without my pack for too long. The Grim stands in for them, but the Grim failed me. I was prey. More than once. I've learned not to rely on them. The Grim feed the hate, but they do not understand it. They don't need to. 

I shouldn't need to. 

She shouldn't need to. 

Hate should be enough, in and of itself. It does not need reasons to exist. It only needs to burn. It only needs to consume everything in its path. That's all it needs.

She is an obsession, a dangerous path with no way to turn from it. Even if I try, I'll always find myself back on the same road. And I have given her everything. Of my own free will. Everything. Prey again, without my pack.

The other needs to ask better questions. I don't think she wants to ask better questions. I don't think she wants what she says she wants, to do something for me, which is good, because she won't get it, but I'll get what I want, words and questions, the sound of my own voice, amusement at what nothing can cause.

Be careful giving words too much power. They don't have any of their own. The cat disagrees, but also puts a point on the possibility that the only power they have is mischief.

I need to spend a week in Suramar to remember what we should have been, but Feralas calls.

I don't need brothers, but I'm glad of them, nonetheless, if only for the hope they give. Yes, hope. I like that people assume I know nothing but ruthless cruelty. I like knowing I can drive hate so easily. That doesn't mean I know nothing of things outside hatred.

What do I know?

I know more than those who worship at its feet. I know more than those who wear it on their sleeves and on their banners.

I know because I run from it and it hunts me down. I know because I do not want it, do not need it, and yet I have it.

Killing me with kindness would be much more difficult than even the ridiculousness of the cliché implies. Boring me with kindness might be manageable. I suppose maybe you could bore me to death with it? But even then, either you're the sort of kind hearted person I either destroy or walk away from, or you're not a kind hearted person and I take the opportunity to dismantle your kindness, find the motive in it, make you regret ever having plied me with it in the first place.

Or you're the kind of person who's better at playing my games than I am. There aren't many of those, so I don't fear them though I probably should.

The team building silliness at least takes my mind off the menacing truths running deep under everything I do these days. I would definitely prefer to watch from the sidelines, but that's better managed when other people are on the dais than when I am. And if it makes them stronger, then so be it. I'll take my loss of dignity and chalk it up to forging bonds or some other useless lie.

That Eye is pointless. It saw the obvious but not the dexterous. You can tell the truth and not tell the truth at the same time, and how can one device detect that nuance? You can tell the truths that don't matter and neglect the ones that do.

There is a way to get every truth from me, and it is actually quite simple, but who actually finds that much value in truth?

Edited by Qabian
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I said too much, gave away too many truths.

There was a lie anchoring it all, though. Nothing wrong with that. I'm honest about who I am. She knows I can't be trusted. 

What disturbs me about that lie is the whiteness of it. I could rationalize, make my excuses, that I needed the lie for some other blacker, more sensible reason, but the whiteness of the lie is behind the gifts, too.

Maybe I shouldn't have toyed with her, but curiously, I don't regret that at all. It might make her kill me in my sleep, but she wouldn't be the first to try, and good luck guessing where I am any given night.

I have my freedom. I never relinquished it. That would be a line drawn that I refuse to cross. However, my curiosity to see how the game plays out, intense as it might be, is nowhere near sufficient. 

She has earned things from me enough. She has earned abridged tales of tables she could turn. She has not earned me. 

I suppose, if she were determined, she could make the attempt, but better to break her of that hope at the expense of the game, better to make her think I'm something else, better to make her turn away. Better for everyone. Better for the Grim.

I've chosen treason. Treason keeps me loyal. I like how that works.

I wonder if she'll hide now, or if she'll make good on her threats, vices and silence. Her problem. Not mine.

And the rat lives. She thinks she killed her heart. Hilarious. I don't remember telling her that, but it does seem like something I would do. I wonder if I can get her to admit that in front of Syreena, have Syreena add a heart to her ear collection. 

I should have killed her the moment she showed her face. Instead, I showed her history and gave her hope. Since when am I an agent of hope? There is chaos in it, I suppose. Hopefully it'll direct itself away from me. I'm failing to do rather a lot of things I should do, not enough to blow up in my face yet, but that is a distinct possibility, growing more distinct by the hour.

I spoke with the boy's mother. I don't know what I thought would happen. Maybe I thought I could fix an old problem with a new solution. She thinks she was once broken and is now fixed. I think she was once fixed and is now broken. The best thing for her now, and everyone involved in that tale, would be the quick release of death. 

Yes, even the replacement. The things we do are objectively harmful, and we will just keep doing them, won't we? Because we want to, and we are selfish.

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What am I doing?

What am I...

There aren't regrets. Not per se. There was never enough there to make it worth questioning the decisions I made.

It's not about what's right. It's not about morality. What do I care about doing the right thing? It's about the value of what I have. It's worth too much to put at risk, so I draw my lines where I need them drawn.

I can't help but wonder, though, if I'm falling apart. If the lessons the Bronze imparted have not stuck. I am weak and vulnerable, and I have been preyed on yet again.

Have I?

I question myself more since then, since everything. It makes me more honest, oddly enough.

Still, no one should believe anything I say. They should know better. They should always know better.

I've never been comfortable with this, but who else can do it correctly? If someone else tried, I would chafe and want it fixed, want it done my way, so perhaps I need to simply stop fighting.

I am more stable when I'm lying. When I'm honest, I am crumbling. Be wary when my words ring true. Falsehood should be reassuring.

She wants what she cannot have.

We always do, don't we?

I don't even know what I want anymore. I want quiet, and that is unlike me. 

I don't have friends, nor do I want them. Strange things happen when people call themselves my friends if I fail to disagree. Keep them all at arms' length.

Am I proud? Beyond narcissism, at least? I take pride where it's earned, but it seems earned so rarely. I think I expressed my ambivalence. I am proud of who we were. I am proud of what we are capable of, should we actually make the effort. But am I proud of who we are at the moment? I don't know about that.

All the best of us died to the Scourge. Those of us who were passable then followed Kael'thas and died with him. Only the idiots who left him for the Scryers survived. The idiots and the double agents. Dar'khan steals from us to this day, long after returning to ash. The sin'dorei I don't find vastly unimpressive are few and far between. Lor'themar has so little ambition he hardly deserves to be called a regent. The Windrunners all chose the humans over their own people long ago. Only Rommath keeps me from giving up on us entirely.

If she needs pride to see her through, I hope she finds it stronger than mine. Given what she's said of the situation, I doubt there's anything in it to be proud of, but I wouldn't put it past whatever serves for justice in Silvermoon today to fail me utterly and give mercy where it's undeserved. Our nation is ruled by the pathetic.

But I've never been a good example. Even when I had the pride, I toyed with it in others to get my own way. I have always put my self above everyone and everything else. I still do, though my methods have taken on different subtleties.

And still I wonder. Have I squandered the gift of the Bronze? Have I fallen too far to avoid drowning? Is that why I'm so tired?

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