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Kumai

Beginnings and Beginnings

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Kumai placed the small pile of books on the plain wooden table she set up in her new room in Sanctuary's Razor Hill quarters. She frowned as she pulled a sheaf of blank papers from inside the cover of one of the books. She was doing her best and didn't regret the decision she had made, but she questioned herself, her capacity, her correctness, as people do.

She was a quiet person. She made it seem as though this was forced on her, but in truth, it was by choice. It was all by choice. She had been given a voice on a few occasions since the original loss, and technically, she still had the last, but she hated it. New voices never sounded like hers, never felt like hers. It always seemed like an outside force moved her mouth and she hated it. She had grown to feel most like herself when using her hands and the light and shadow that was hers. The voice was not hers. There were times she felt forced into it, but when she had the option, she chose.

She looked around the room. It was so different than what she had become used to in Dalaran. Dalaran oddly suited her. It was full of people who tended to be so different from her on the surface, but somehow so very like her within their minds, curious and analytical, easily forgetting the world around them when they were lost in their own thoughts, few of them truly gregarious because they were too busy with the things they believed were important, things that might affect the entire world but were not individual people.

Unfortunately, Razor Hill reminded her of people who were like her on the outside, but whose minds never worked like hers, people she had abandoned, people she did not miss. 

But this was the Horde, wasn't it? 

Dalaran had separated her from the Horde, creating an illusion of a world where only magic mattered. The Grim's version of the Horde was incompatible with a world everyone who wanted to share could share. The Twilight's version of the Horde was, well, a mess. Kumai wanted to know the Horde as it really was. Qabian thought maybe here, or at least with these people, she could learn about a Horde that he did not himself believe in.

Kumai leaned over the table to put her hand to the wall, carved by the elements. A toxic mixture of rage and despair welled up in her, but she was achingly familiar with the sensation now and waited patiently for her acquired knowledge to dissolve her reflexive pain with no more action on her part than a few contemplative moments.

She pulled a quill and ink from the pack on the floor and finally sat down to write.

-

I know you said we would not see each other again, but I don't believe you. I might believe you if Dalaran crashes into the sea one day, but you have too much history there to avoid it forever. I'm going to see you in its streets one of these days.

Your Violet have me living in Razor Hill. This is nothing I'm used to. I've lived on rolling plains. I've lived in the molten depths of a great mountain. I've lived in a thriving city of magic. I suppose the word for this place is quaint. There's a simplicity to it that reminds me of where I started, but if there's anywhere I never wanted to go again, it is back where I started.

But then the Horde started where I started, didn't it? It makes sense to go back if I am to understand them. This is what I wanted, what I asked for, but it isn't what I expected. Not that I know what I expected, something more brutal perhaps, more stoic grunting, less awkward smiling.

Despite my discomfort, there is a sweetness here. I trust everyone's intentions, which is new for me. I think Dalaran will always be more comfortable because it suits me, suits my authentic voice, but this place seems like it will be better for me in the end, more wholesome, more healing, and will help me find the things about myself that I abandoned long ago. This was the right decision.

If I sound like I'm trying to convince myself, I am.

I know that you do not worry about me, and that was not a lie, but I also know you will be curious. Consider these letters my gift to that curiosity. You will be tempted to keep them, but you should burn them. For both of us.

~K

-

Rather than address the letter, she tucked it away. Later, she would slip it under an unremarkable door in a Dalaran alley.

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Kumai had made herself something of a nest in her room in Razor Hill, a garish one, but that leaned more to the pastels than some of Ninorra's other dramatic decorating choices. The orc mage wrapped herself in a plush zhevra-print blanket made out of something unnatural, too soft, with a sheen that caught the flickering lamplight, definitely not actual zhevra, and sat down at her little table with a new sparkling pink quill and a few pieces of lemon scented paper with a floral pattern in the corners to write a letter. 

-

He has forgotten me. It seemed important to tell you. Was it actually him? Was it someone else following me that day around Warsong Hold? I was so sure it was him, but it was so long ago now. Perhaps it is my memory that's faltered and not his.

I was content to listen. It's difficult to make that clear with pictures. Just let me listen. I want to see people. I want to see how many of them are actually as bloodthirsty as I was, how many have other priorities in their lives besides dealing death, and what those priorities are.

I now understand the warning you gave before teaching me the basics of some of the other Horde languages. I have no qualms listening to people's Orcish conversations that don't include me, but it felt somehow more rude to be able to understand the Taurahe. Why would they have switched to it unless they thought they could only be understood by each other? At least they left before they got explicit.

He knew signs. Did you know he knows signs? Mostly he knew signs. He put in the effort, and his mistakes were a sweet sign of just how much effort he was making. I think he's the first person I've encountered who already knew them, but then I don't usually introduce myself with them. I try not to introduce myself at all, or use the ash if I'm pressed, but he was looming. He's intimidating when he's standing and you're sitting.

I've taken pieces of the decor from other rooms around here. I'm not sure if anyone will notice. The only people I see lurking the hallways much are Garinth and Vilmah, and the occasional visitor at Vilmah's office door. After so long in Dalaran, it's strange to be back to seeing mostly orcs day to day.

He said my tabard would get me killed. You made that clear from the start and I made this decision anyway. If it does, it does. I don't think it will, though, or they would have been wiped out long ago. They are as persistent as yours. I do not think they are easily discouraged, no matter how intimidating and serious the person threatening them may be, so I will try to be as they are. Persistent.

I am more concerned this tabard will get you killed, but if he has actually forgotten me, you may be in the clear. Everyone else who was there that day has succumbed to the shadows. 

I hope you are well. I suspect that much like me you are trying not to draw too much attention to yourself now. We have plans to make before we step into the light. We have comfort to find, nests to build, towers to hide before the pendulum makes its next swing.

I would say I miss you, but I don't really. I am fine on my own, but I do wish you well. I know your heart better than most, and though you are going to do a lot of damage before you give in, someday you will understand this choice. Someday something will happen that will make you change. You will hate it, and then you will be different. Just like I am.

~K

Edited by Kumai

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Kumai flopped herself down in the mountain of pink and lavender pillows she had carefully curated in her room in Razor Hill and stared up at the ceiling carved out of the stone of the cliff. In his haste to get things arranged for the fast approaching disaster in Icecrown, Qabian had thought to send her a note, asking if her new people knew what was going on, describing what he had learned, what the Death Knights were saying happened to the Lich King, and urging her to prepare. In a sense, she knew more than he did, because she had actively offered to help the Argent Crusade and had been there herself, while he was avoiding it like, well, the plague.

But Kumai still felt disconnected, like this was not her fight. And it was not her fight. It was a needed fight, a save-the-world fight, but it just was not personal for her. Even when she joined her new friends on a pilgrimage to send the souls that had been blocked from peace on to the next place, whatever that place might be. Much like her mentor, Kumai did not like to delve into the business of souls. The fact that they could clearly be manipulated and yet every people and culture treated the afterlife entirely differently made the spirit world a subject and a place she avoided, a subject and a place she would deal with when forced and not before.

She wasn't exactly being forced now, but she still felt a curious sense of obligation given what happened, and she was intentionally avoiding acting on that sense. She grabbed one of her pillows and crushed it to her face, a scream that would have been just as silent unobstructed, then got up and went to her little table.

-

You are right. The next thing is happening. I have been helping in Icecrown, but it seemed to me like the stories of Northrend were clawing their way out of their shallow graves. New circumstances, new questions to answer, new problems to solve, but mostly the same story in the same place.

Now I think that's wrong. This is not the same story. Or it may have started as the same story, but...

A new door is open. It is not only about puppeting corpses and the mindless rage of the angry dead, but it is affecting spirits the world over, even those that long abandoned their bodies.

The Tauren here are planning to cross to the spirit realm. Or something like it. Without dying first. How...

My mind balks. One the one hand, I do genuinely want to offer to help. They seem to desperately need to do this and need the help to see it through. It makes little and less sense to me. Those lives are over and their effect on the living is in their stories not their metaphysical... whatever is in those totems. But they all seemed very certain about what was needed, and very emotional about it, and I have no reason not to help.

On the other hand. What. The. Actual. Fuck.

I guess stranger things have happened than casually walking into an actual, palpable, interactable version of the afterlife, and if there was ever anything that could make me believe such a thing is possible, it's the state of Icecrown right now, but...

I'm afraid.

I wasn't before last night, but I am now.

The actual walking angry dead are very easy to set on fire. Stepping into another world where I'm not even sure how magic will work?

I can only imagine what you're thinking and feeling. This seems like something you would have nightmares about. I guess your project is on hold, isn't it? I can keep you informed if you want. A little fear never stopped me before.

Take care of yourself.

~K

Edited by Kumai

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Kumai tosses and turns before giving up on sleep entirely and going to write a letter.

-

Do not come here. If the Death Knights ask you for help, tell them to leave you alone, then run as far and as fast as you can.

What they are going to ask of you will torment you with your memories. I have a fraction of the memories you do and am struggling. This will tear you to shreds.

Run.

~K

Edited by Kumai

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