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((WR January)) Respite for the Soulthief

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"Thank you... Kind soul...." Weakly hissed the freed spirit towards a small, snowy white Vulpera, who quickly stepped back into the crowd of Night Fae coming to greet the new spirits in their realm. Ghasty's lantern released the souls of numerous beings, their spirits forming into the visage of many Night Elves, Vulpera, And others. Freshly released into Ardenweald's care, the souls were more than desperate to finally be free of the Maw's grasp. Ardenweald had been clever to employ the efforts of the Soulthief, as denizens of the Maw quickly titled Ghasty for his... efficient way of navigating through high security areas undetected, stealing away soul after soul. His goal had been the same since he arrived; Steal as many souls from the Maw as possible, and he worked tirelessly towards it. A task many deemed impossible before the arrival of mortals in the Shadowlands was now in the tiny capable hands of one of the Night Fae's newest reinforcement, and as the fae greeted their new souls, few could even see the tiny rogue amidst the crowd. The ghostly look of Ghasty was still unmarred by even the Maw. His purple eyes looked something between tired and blank, giving off a cold calm expression. His fur, pristine as it was, practically glowed in the fae lights of the Heart of the Forest, the spots of inky blank dotting his shoulders, ears, and the base of his tail, which gently swayed from side to side. His enchanted gi was damaged, along with his plated armor pads, and yet he appeared uninjured still. Spikes broken on the knuckler gloves he wore, he had obviously been in the Maw for some time, and as such, stolen away many souls amidst his battles. He looked around, seeing the fae denizens of the Forest cheering at the flood of new souls, and knew the Winter Queen would be happy to hear of the innocents brought in. But Ghasty wasn't the type to search for thank you's. He attained his results, and after the souls were secured, he vanished from sight, leaving the pleasant heart to their revelry.

It was time for Rest and Recreation, now. Ghasty knew this. Cleaning, rehydrating and eating enough to maintain his proper form, and most of all; Resting. For many, that meant sleep, but for Ghasty, it meant what it meant. Ardenweald had many peaceful havens yet, and the conservatory that Ghasty strode through was high up in the branches of one of the great trees. He knew he was safe here, however it did not change his methods. Alone, he would always keep his guard up, and not even the beautiful skies of Ardenweald could grant the security he needed to relax as others would. In his time, in and out of the servitude he was raised in, Ghasty knew little of sleep itself, as such things were rare. On his own, he could rest enough to recover and rejuvenate his energy... But strangely enough, he didn't 'sleep' per say.. For Ghasty, sleep was a luxury he simply could not afford. As he finished drying off after a much needed bath, it was time to maintenance his equipment. Starting with his weapons; energy as they were, they needed no sharpening, but rather mana. Ghasty used such to fortify the catalyst crystals he used, strengthening them once more, and discarding unneeded emotions to feed the shadow energy within. His element was a curious one. Ghasty was highly adept at the use of Shadow Magic, but had little magical knowledge. To him, these abilities were always like a limb of the body, simply there for his use. The lack of void and whispers also proved to be an anomaly, however it was one that allowed Ghasty to make his previous exploits against the forces of N'zoth, and before; the Drust. Despite the lack of written knowledge, Ghasty's abilities came naturally to him, and many more were linked with reflexes. It was almost like a symbiotic relationship; he fed his shadow energy with the mana of his hunted targets, and in turn his shadows aided him, hiding him from sight, and giving him the weaponry to dispatch enemies that pursued him still.

As he tinkered away at his gear next, his thoughts began to wander. 'This path... Did I make the right choice?', the thought popped into his head, causing the tiny Vulpera to stop his work. It was a random thought, but one that resonated with him.. a valid question, considering the choices many made upon the Covenants requesting mortal aid. Ghasty looked up to the ever beautiful night sky, and wondered. 'You left servitude for yourself, and decided to associate with others rather than hide, amassing reputations and comrades... There have been many trials, and with them great pain... You have fought and killed when needed, and avoided it when possible. This lead you to the Shadowlands and secured numerous souls tearing them away from torment... The Maw ill allows for intruders, after all. And those who do venture through it face constant battles and death. However, unlike them, you have the ability to accomplish this task with greater efficiency. You kill quickly, recover souls, and escape... This is the best fulfillment of your skills... This path is sufficient, as it aims to improve the world around.' Ghasty reasoned, and answered the existential question silently.
 'Do you enjoy it?' came another interrupting thought. The knee jerk response came up as quickly as the question, as Ghasty perked up silently while his mind barked in reply 'Of course not. Killing is neither fun nor is it enjoyable by its nature alone. Combat is an equation in war, with death as its biproduct. However, the solution brought many innocent souls from the Maw to their true place in the realms of death.
 'Do you feel whole?' came again a pesky thought, the Vulpera shaking his head. 'Irrelevant. I have fulfilled my tasks... A vague feeling like self-fulfillment does not improve or multiply results.' His heart replied, coldly...

His silent duel with his own mind only lasted a few seconds, in which time, the Vulpera looked over his gear, assessing the damage. As he shut down the questions, his mind quelled, thoughts refocusing on his tasks. For hours, Ghasty tinkered away, bringing his humble armor back to perfect condition. Despite its humble appearance, his gear was highly engineered, a skill he was taught by his adoptive father. It took some time, but eventually he managed to repair the inner workings of his gadgets, as well as the state of the armor that covered them. Seeing his task complete, Ghasty moved onto the next. 'Sleep'. For the few who saw him regularly, Ghasty appeared to sleep very often. Before he left for the Shadowlands, it was a common occurrence in Silvermoon for denizens to encounter Ghasty sleeping on a tavern sofa, some even complimenting the beautiful coat of fur he had upon him.. but few recognized Ghasty's slumber for what it was; an Act... A simulation... A ruse to lure others into a sense of comfort, using his small stature and harmless appearance to request a reprieve from the combat he often found himself drowning in.

As he laid down within the small camp he had set up, Ghasty looked the part of a sleepy Vulpera. His tail coiled around his body, covering him in ghostly whites fur and a comforting warmth. His ears relaxed, and his eyes closed, but even as hours passed, Ghasty didn't sleep. Or rather, he couldn't sleep. He was alone here, and as such the only one for watch, a task that must always be completed... Sleep was a luxury, and something Ghasty didn't need like many other races. His body would slow as he laid down, bringing rest like sleep would, but without dreams or a state of vulnerability. So, there he laid, motionless and cloaked with a thin layer of his magic, concealing him from sight, even within his own tent.. All was silent, all was still, and a hard fought peace was earned... But for Ghasty, there was no upheaval of joy or excitement. He did not wish to read, practice the instrument he was given, or socialize, as all required action and effort. He simply laid there in his tent, invisible to the world, entirely alone..

'Are you happy?' came a whisper, this one outside of the pesky heart that questioned him before. An unfamiliar voice whispering from seemingly nowhere, a tactic Ghasty often used to corner prey. Ghasty's eyes to shot open. Though the grove remained silent, something was strange. Vying to sense whatever spoke, the invisible Vulpera moved from his tent, beginning to stalk the conservatory. The high alert he set upon was silent, focused, lethal... But as Ghasty searched the conservatory for signs of infiltration, he found nil. 'Is this what makes you happy?' came another whisper. Without a word or even a visible body to examine, Ghasty had gone from rest mode to work mode. He focused, listening intently, sensing what he could, waiting to strike... 'What makes you happy?' came another whisper, and with it, Ghasty drew his weaponry and whipped around, his senses finally picking something up... His soulkeeper... Producing the magical lantern and activating it, a small soul left it, landing on the beautiful flora that decorated the haven grounds. It was a elven woman, her form knelt down into a sitting state, a hint of worry on her face. She had been rescued, but did not leave with the other souls.. instead, as her form revealed itself, she tilted her head, looking around for the unseen Ghasty. '...I am no threat... I only ask..' she announced in a tone that sounded sleepy, and gloomy.

"Identify yourself. Why did you ask such things?" Ghasty blankly interrogated, his shadowy voice sounding grim and unnaturally multi-toned. He was still invisible to his target, who showed no way of tracking him. He assessed her from a distance, ready to react as needed.

The Elf sighed and folded her hands upon her thighs, showing she had nothing to hide. "I am sorry... Little one... I did not mean to startle you... I was... Worried..." She announced. Her form was spectral, but she had long, beautiful hair, and a fair figure. She looked shorter, and less muscular than some night elves did. As she explained herself, she did not move from her spot. She simply waited for an answer.

After an awkward silence, the ghostly form of Ghasty appeared before her upon silent footfalls. "You were being tortured for an unknown time in the Maw. Your soul has been tormented greatly. Why did you choose to stay within the soulkeeper when you were released?" Ghasty asked, his blank tone coming off almost demanding as he approached. In one hand, a small crystal hilt with a barely visible spectral blade protruding from it. The other held an orbit of dark, glass-like stone, charged with shadow energy. He was still on alert, and the elf picked up on it.

"Please... I mean no harm, little one... I ask, because the one who rescued me appeared troubled..." She calmly pleaded. Her voice was soft, gentle as she looked. Taking no time for another interrogation from the Vulpera, she asked her question once more. "You, who spent much time within the same torment as I... You return to it time and time again, repeating the task of taking others away from it... Does that make you happy?"

"Irrelevant. Those souls, yours included were improperly sorted, causing you torment you did not earn. My happiness is not a concern in comparison to emergency rescue operations." Ghasty answered, only to see the night elf sigh.

"I was tormented, until you took me away from it.. I wished to thank you, but have nothing I could give... So I remained with you, rather than passing on, hoping I could find a way to repay you.. But... You have done the same thing over and over again... You follow a pattern, almost like you were possessed... It did not seem natural, so I worried.." she explained. Ghasty slowly but surely approached the night elf as she spoke. His weapons leaving his hands to float in orbit around him, he listened as she explained herself. "They call you Soulthief in the Maw. You are targeted frequently, and each battle is more lethal than the last.. so many times I worried you would be overwhelmed by it. But you keep fighting, you keep moving, and no matter how dark everything has gotten, you've shown no change in your face... Truth be told, I simply cannot read you..." She confessed.

"I was trained early to fight and protect others. My abilities compliment my profession and increase efficiency above the normal rate. By such standards, I am most effective at my current appointed task, and continuing it brings more souls to rest. I am simply performing my duty at optimal levels." Ghasty explained, and the wordiness of it caused the night elf spirit to grimace.

"But... Are you happy?" She asked once more.

"Irrelevant. I am efficient, and combat capable, and hold better capacities for re-appropriating souls than many others of my caliber. Performing my duties---" Ghasty started before he was interrupted by the night elf.

"-You speak like gnomish machinery, little one... But you do not need to feel like such. You haven't slept, you rarely eat, you haven't stayed with anyone, or gotten close to others of your kind... You've simply been taking souls away from the Maw and disappearing before anyone could thank you.. Your face tells so little, I worry that you merely try to fulfill yourself with a list of tasks you checked off, and nothing more..." She explained.

Ghasty tilted his head. Was she.... Complaining about his task of rescuing souls? "There are many souls trapped within the Maw that have no place there. If left there, obliteration is unavoidable, and the soul is lost. Priority one dictates that I remove souls from that cycle... Is that problematic?" He asked, noting a sense of annoyance from the elf, who sighed again in response.

"Your duty is not problematic to me, or anyone else you rescued, little one.. However I worry that you do not take enough care of yourself... At first, I thought your Horde allegiance to be the reason. But you are not filled with the zeal or fanatical dedication that I have seen within their kind... So, I will ask you. What makes you happy, little one?" She asked once more, this time finally causing Ghasty to stop and think.

"I do not feel enjoyment from combat... I feel... successful when I take souls from the Maw. It... Feels... Like the correct use for my abilities... So I continue.." Ghasty explained, pausing frequently as he pieced the words together. All the talk of feeling was exhausting for him, but this answer appeared to sate the hungering question from the elf. 

Slowly, she stood, looking around the conservatory before strolling to a dormant wildseed. Looking back to Ghasty "You, who have no home dedicate your life to saving souls you will never see... All because it is the right thing to do, you say.... Had I met Horde of your like, perhaps I would not have loathed your kind as much as I did in life..." She started. "It is time for me to go... But I ask one thing of you, little one... Please... Find peace, and happiness within your life. That is my wish..." She said before a flash of light overtook her form. After a brief moment, she was gone, leaving a faintly glowing wildseed upon the ground.

As Ghasty approached, he pondered her words... Placing a hand on the wildseed, he spoke once more. "I will continue my duties as selected... The task of a Soulthief fits my skillset optimally... After all... There were many on Azeroth who were killed in atrocious ways... For both your kind, as well as my own... I wish to find them... all of them... and tear them from that fate..." He replied, his cold tone showing broken pieces of relief... And so, silence returned to both the conservatory, as well as Ghasty... His stay was short, as usual... But resulted in a more fulfilled feeling of rest...


Edited by Chestius

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