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Ellsbeth

Born Again Priestess

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First You Question Your Beliefs

Ellsbeth kneeled at the pew, her eyes downcast to give the image that she was in prayer to the others, but her mind could not focus on anything but the doubts inside her head.

The thoughts had tortured her ever since Infection had met in Brill to discuss after the Battle of Hillsbrad. One word, spoken by another priest had haunted her, followed her from one end of Azeroth to another.

"Breathers"

The thought echoed louder than it had usually in this quiet place. Too loudly.

Shuffling of the acolyte beside her brought her eyes to the jawless priest presiding over the evening mass. His glowing eyes met hers and she felt a jolt of dark energy suffuse her. He had been in the middle of rites, but now was silent.

He spoke to Ellsbeth, "Impetuous young one, these are holy rites you interrupt. Be silent."

Ellsbeth closed her eyes in shame and confusion. She had spoken the word outloud. That explained the echo. She bowed her head, placing her claw-like bony hands onto the pew in front of her.

"No more thoughts of this. Focus." She chided herself in thought, guilty at interrupting the mass and even moreso that she had so little control she had spoken the word outloud.

The rest of the mass passed with Ellsbeth's focus painfully upon the words the priest spoke from his slithering tongue. Yet the words brought no comfort this time. They did not ignite in her a fury to slay the Alliance and heal her brethren. As the acolytes left in an orderly file of lurching bodies and shuffling boned feet, Ellsbeth remained at her pew.

"You are troubled my child?" The priest's hissing voice spoke at her ear and Ellsbeth dropped her head and her shoulders drooped in a saddened reply. "Come, join me in the courtyard. I have some weeding to do and need your spry fingers to do it for me."

Although she bridled a little at the unnecessary task, Ellsbeth spoke, "Yes father."

She followed him out the door and around the back of the Church where empty graves and pointless gravestones stood between rows of carefully tended plants. Though still wearing her recently purchased vestements, Ellsbeth bent at the nearest mound and began to pull out the tiny grasses that barely choked the plants.

"Father I am not versed in herblore, so please warn me if I am about to pull out something valuable."

"Ellsbeth, child, you do not trust your own judgement?"

Ellsbeth frowned, the metal clicking on her jaw. "Not when it comes to plants. This is not my area of expertise."

He moved to a gravestone nearby and brushed it with his sleeve, sullying the dark blue fabric with grime. "No, plants are not your area of expertise. Do I speak of plants?" He turned back to her, those glowing eyes dimmed a little in concern. "I ask about your soul. I see doubt and dismay in you child. You were one of my brightest in your earliest days. There was much furvour and vigour within you and now... you appear dim."

Ellsbeth crumbled dirt within her fingers. "Father... are we truly the salvation for Azeroth?"

"If you ask that, then your belief has dimmed." He sighed deeply and was silent for a few moments. Ellsbeth pulled at what she hoped was weeds while he stepped from gravestone to gravestone. He finally spoke after a few minutes and said, "These graves bear no more bodies as we rose in the days of the Scourge. Mindless were we. Pawns of the Lich King. It was Slyvanas Herself who brought us back to sentience and allowed us choice. We are the Chosen, child. The ones She and those She trusts have picked to change the world."

"Yes father."

"Child, that means She has picked you to be one of Her army. You can choose your own path if you decide, but remember it is Her will that allows you the choice."

"This is not my problem father..." Ellsbeth lifted her head and stared in the direction of Durotar. In the direction of the orc that had become her champion and had instilled doubt within her that the Breathers were less than the Forsaken.

He had protected her in Arathi when others of her kind were too busy and Ellsbeth too proud to ask their help. He had slain Dwarves near Loch Modan so she could go through the scorched red lands beyond her kin. When she died, time after time, as her lack of skill allowed Alliance the upper hand, he charged in with his axe and his shield.

His furvour and valour had somehow touched her heart. His constant queries as to having her join the ranks of his champions had not gone unheeded.

Ellsbeth felt something she had never felt in the many incarnations of her life. It was a feeling that had made her mutter in anger when others of her kind spoke ill of the Orcs and the Trolls and the Taurens. It was this twinge that made her shudder at a word she had once thrown about without consequence or thought. A word that had become dirty to say, guilt-ridden to even think.

Breather.

"I feel torn."

He kneeled before her, his robes in the dirt. "We came from the dirt and the dirt of your rebirth will help you in discovering your path." He placed a gloved hand under her chin and turned her face up to his. "You are one of our delights, child, but you must go as your soul bades you."

"Go where father?"

"Go back to Tirisfal Glades and Deathknell. There you will find your answer."

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Then You Go Back To Your Roots

Since the priest hadn't given her a definite order, Ellsbeth found thousands of other things to do instead of returning to Deathknell. She felt twinges of guilt, but made out like everything she was doing was necessary.

She sat long hours in the tavern at Ratchet, listening to the goblins tell half-truths in the guise of stories about their prowess in engineering. She fished in Booty Bay, surrounding herself with more goblins while humans and half-elves attempted to kill her, only to have the goblins kill them instead. She assisted them in Stonetalen Mountains by destroying machines.

She found companionship in them, but not comfort. If she had eyes, they would have glazed over whenever a goblin squeaked out a story at her, because she wasn't listening.

Her mind warred. These were Breathers she was cavorting with. They made out to be your friend, but as others of her kind constantly reminded eachother, they were mortal and mortals did not have the time to be loyal.

Yet, this theory of disloyalty had been proven wrong time and time again. She witnessed the loyalty of Breathers with her own two undead eyes and her own two undead ears. She had watched well-seasoned Breathers triumph over the Alliance in Hillsbrad time and again, protecting the Forsaken there without asking for reward.

Breathers were not the problem.

"Are you listening to me Ells? I asked you a question!" Pixel peered down at her from her perch. Ellsbeth had wondered if Pixel only stood there so she was taller than other races, but she was too polite to ask.

"Sorry. Please repeat it?"

Pixel squeaked in annoyance. "Not on your life! If you're not paying attention, then I don't want to go through that whole thing of re-telling you and then reminding you that I want those supplies from Booty Bay since the last time you went there you didn't pick them up--"

"--I have to go."

"WHAT?!" Indignant, Pixel jumped from her perch down onto the ground. She peered up at Ellsbeth with as much fury as the goblin could muster. "You better be heading to Booty Bay then!"

"No Pixel, I have something else that's pressing."

"See if I give you something the next time you give me something! A girl's gotta make a profit and I can't go around --- Hey!"

Ellsbeth quickly stepped to her left and handed some silver and copper to the Splintertree Wind Rider Master and climbed on one to quickly fly off.

Pixel shouted up, "I KNEW YOU WERE LIKE THE REST!"

The words stung, but Ellsbeth knew Pixel better than to respond. She was violatile on her best days. It did not matter though. If, in returning to Deathknell, Ellsbeth achieved the clarity she ran from, then no Breather -- she lowered her head at the word even in thought -- would be a friend.

The flight to Orgrimmar was short, despite the misgivings that broiled in Ellsbeth's head. "I've been hiding in Kalimdor for too long," she thought while her claw-like hand clutched the mane of pulsing creature beneath her. "I can hide no more," she whispered into the wind and her mount bellowed as if agreeing.

The city of Orgrimmar, one that Ellsbeth didn't much like anyway, passed by in a blur as if she wasn't even moving. It almost felt like chopping through wood. First chop she was running down the ramp from the Wind Rider's perch, the next chop she was clutching a tree unable to discern where the entrance was, then she was out the entrance running to catch the zeppelin.

Since there wasn't much traffic, Ellsbeth sat down near the keel of the flying boat. A troll and an orc spent the voyage rolling dice and boasting to one another. Their voices were loud enough to cut through the howling winds over the ocean water. Both were speaking orcish, but the words didn't seem to make sense. They laughed and poked one another.

Any other day, Ellsbeth would be annoyed, but this day she was fascinated. "Could I assume these two would stab eachother in the back?" The orc caught her eye and he tipped his head to her, his fanged jaws widened into a friendly smile. Ellsbeth quickly nodded and turned her head to look out into the sky. "Could I believe that orc would slaughter me without provocation?"

She didn't look at them for the rest of the journey. It felt like spying instead of observing. The zeppelin so smoothly pulled into Brill than Ellsbeth, lost in her thoughts, didn't budge from her spot.

A large yellowish mitt of a hand gently tapped her on her shoulder. "Excuse me, lady, but we've arrive 'ere in Undercity."

Ellsbeth looked up to the orc, slightly stunned. "Oh yes. Thank you. Thank you." She stood, dusted herself off and the orc proffered her an arm. Too polite to not accept, Ellsbeth took it.

He made a big show to his troll friend of ensuring she was safe and sound on the wooden platform. His troll friend laughed goodnaturedly and made comments to Ellsbeth about watching that her toes weren't squished or that the orc didn't step on her robes.

The orc stepped back and made a low bow to Ellsbeth and winked as he came up. "My lady."

His troll friend laughed, did a backflip and yelled as he ran down the stairs. "Careful of him! He's got a small axe!"

The orc roared and chased after his friend. Ellsbeth couldn't help herself but to laugh at them until it became apparent that laughing on a traveler empty platform was probably not a sound thing to do. A deathguard was already peering at her askance.

She hurried to Brill, not even stopping in the Undercity. She knew that if she stopped in the city, she would be on the first bat to anywhere else. She ran with difficulty, feeling as though something heavy held her back from coming to this place.

"I have to do this." She growled and a nearby duskbat shrieked away in fright.

She didn't stop in Brill. It would be too easy to get side-tracked there. A few days earlier they had a meeting in the Town Hall and as soon as it was over, Ellsbeth had raced to Arathi Basin. "No distractions. No distractions." She muttered over and over.

A few faces she remembered from her early days as Forsaken passed by her. Some nodded, but others were busy dealing with the young of the race. They too were training to be of use to Slyvanas, whatever use they would be.

She ran past Gordo who hadn't oiled his chains because they squeaked and clanged insessantly. She didn't stop until she was at the gates to Deathknell. There was no one to be found, except for bones and those weren't connected to a moving Forsaken body.

With a three-pointed movement over her chest, Ellsbeth tapped into her holy powers, pulling the souls of the undead back into their bodies. It only worked once as a youngling thanked her and ran off towards Brill. It took awhile for the guards to return.

"Thank you priestess. Stupid gnome." Calvin Montague adjusted his leathers and laughed. "Oh it's you. Finally back eh? I'd offer to fight you, but I can see you've done well for yourself."

"Pardon me, my child, but I do not know who you are."

"My child? My child!" He slapped his knee in delight. "Oh come now. Don't you remember? I had you go deliver a letter to Brill, when you were hardly less skilled. Definitely were happier then and not so serious. What is it with you holy types that you get all holier-than-thou after a few seasons?"

Ellsbeth couldn't even reply. She was dumbfounded.

"Normally I give people who return a good run for their money, but you priests don't fight fair. All the power of Sylvanas on your side, eh?" He chuckled then said, "All kidding aside. Just to warn you that there's a gnome about. He got me so fast I couldn't tell what he was... only that he didn't use a blade or fist to knock me down. Be careful."

"I will." Ellsbeth peered at him for a few moments, but then found her feet moving her towards Deathknell proper.

"Thanks again Priestess!" Calvin yelled at her back as Ellsbeth's feet quickened into running.

The road seemed shorter than it had so many seasons ago, back when she was a new acolyte and everything had a sheen of new. Albeit the sheen was dingy and grey since Deathknell barely saw sunlight, but it was new nonetheless.

She passed young Forsaken of only a few seasons. They fought long and gruelling battles with creatures that now only took Ellsbeth a moment's thought to kill. Dispensing quick prayers of fortitude on them as she passed, Ellsbeth hoped to make their battles a little easier. Some were so stunned at the energy of prayer within their bodies that they stopped in awe. Ellsbeth chuckled, remembering the first time a mage had bolstered with her intellect. It had felt different from the holy joy of a fortitude prayer, but the spidery feeling at the back of her neck that crawled up to her skull had not harmed at all.

Before long she stood by the crypt where they had all heard the words from Mordo saying, "You are the Lich King's slave no more."

He was there, leaning against his shovel when she stepped near the entrance. "Welcome back."

She asked, "You remember me?"

He chuckled. "No! But we all came from here sometime unless we're Sylvanas herself."

"True enough."

"You're here for the new batch? Been fewer numbers lately, what with the Royal Apothecary Society's interest further down the continent."

"No, I'm here to... find something."

"Well, you'll only find bones down there. And new ones when they get around to moving. Otherwise it's just fuel for the fires if they don't make it."

She stared into the maw of the crypt.

The cryptkeeper's voice dropped in pitch and he said, "Better go now. I'm going to clean it out again and throw the bodies on the fire. Not much hope for these ones."

Ellsbeth nodded her thanks. She crossed the threshold of the crypt and expected some kind of revelation to come to her, but nothing of the sort happened. Disappointed, she scurried down the stairs, expecting that the answer would await her at the bottom of them, but the only thing awaiting was a newly awoken Forsaken who wordlessly screamed from his missing jaw when he saw her and ran past her up the stairs.

Annoyed, Ellsbeth kicked at a crypt and then quickly cast a healing spell on her foot. She looked around the tomb, seeing only parts of corpses and caskets that held pieces of the Forsaken future.

"I'm ready for my revelation now."

Her voice echoed, stirring some duskbats up in the rafters that swooped down and out into the night.

"Prayer? Will prayer help?" She kneeled down, focusing her thoughts on all the prayers that she knew and then creating some of her own. Hours passed and still nothing happened except that her prayers grew more miserable and hopeless.

Another young one woke, this time with purpose and ran up the stairs, out into the world.

Ellsbeth sighed deeply. She didn't feel anything out of the ordinary.

"I went back to my roots," Ellsbeth muttered, "and discovered nothing."

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Only When You Are Ready

Seasons passed, bringing with them the monsoons in Stranglethorn and the blizzards in Winterspring. For awhile, the young priestess remained cloistered in the Undercity, doing menial tasks for the Priests and offering prayers to those who had the coin to spare. Most of her time was spent scribing in the throne room when other Forsaken petitioned Slyvanas. Just being near the Lady was enough for some to ensure their devotion and loyalty, but disappointment soon overwhelmed the sense of duty.

It was with some relief that Ellsbeth returned back on assignment out into Azeroth.

Jergal, the Head Priest, had been not-so-subtly reprimanding her on her laziness. As the one Corruptor in Infection that was not capable of going to Blackrock Spire, she was shirking her duties by taking on tasks that newly risen Forsaken could do.

In one of his chiding sessions, he mentioned how others of her season were in Feralas instead of hiding out in the Undercity. Feralas sounded far-off, foreign, and close to the fight against the Alliance. Ellsbeth volunteered herself to go on a Mission, to cleanse Feralas, and perhaps gain enough knowledge to be able to fight alongside the others of Infection and not be embarrassed.

She was to steal into a Night Elf moonwell and make Mooncloth. They'd given her the recipe, something stolen from the Night Elves themselves. She could make it, but she had to go deep into contested territory to do it. Along the way, she'd cleanse all the filth from the world she could.

Ellsbeth rode into Feralas on the back of her skeletal horse. The dense jungle heat and moist air made her bones heavy. Sounds echoed from alien birds and wild jungle tribes called to her. This was a place in dire need of cleansing. It thrummed with all the things she despised and smelled vaguely of Night Elves or at least the type of magic they exuded.

She patted her pouch again to ensure the felcloth was still in it. "Really you're doing it to reassure yourself you've got what it takes," she muttered to herself. "Do you?"

Like any question posed to oneself, nobody could answer it. She chided herself and reigned in her horse, pulling him off the path and into the jungle. She'd only come across tauren and they were relatively harmless creatures. The Royal Apothecary Society would deal with them eventually.

The grass came up to the tips of her bony toes. Horse and rider waded through it until Ellsbeth grew weary of the slower pace. She dismounted and released the horse with a thought to have it disappear into a portal of darkness. "I can walk faster than that glue sack."

"Can you?" The voice made her whirl about. It was high-pitched, feminine, with a tint of gleeful sin.

Ellsbeth peered about, circling around, only to not see anything. She crossed her arms, then pressed a palm to her forehead. A bright white orb spawned around her body and fire engulfed her torso. From behind the two layers, the world looked strangely distorted and harmless.

It had to be a Night Elf lying in wait, or perhaps a smart little gnome rogue who would be capable of learning how to speak Gutterspeak. If that were the case, she'd spare them just out of being smarter than the other Horde races who were incapable of deciphering it.

She waited for the attack, but it didn't come. Only a wolf came over a log, he sniffed at the air and dove quickly to attack. Before he could reach her, Ellsbeth channeled the dark powers into a funnel of purple necromantic might, it twisted and turned while the wolf screamed in agony. With each beat of death from his body, Ellsbeth felt fuller and stronger.

The wolf fell and only then did she think that it could have been a shaman in wolf form. Were the orcs breaking the tentative truce between the Lady and Thrall? To be sure, she cut with her skinning knife a long trench from neck to nethers. Her claw-like hand reached inside the corpse and removed the still warm intestines. Two bites and she knew that it wasn't orc, nor troll, nor tauren. It was just plain old wolf.

Ellsbeth continued further in the forest. She took down a few bear and some dragonkin. A wind churned up the leaves in the otherwise still forest and startled her.

"I'm being paranoid."

"For good reason!" Came that voice again, only it sounded boastful and far too knowing for Ellsbeth's tastes.

"Come out coward!" Ellsbeth's body churned with the new light of a protective sphere.

"Who's the coward when you hide behind your spells, Priestess?" The clearly female voice mocked.

Familiar, the voice was very familiar. "Syrah?" It sounded somewhat like the succubus that followed Amaurn, one of the Infection Corruptors, around. Only Syrah did his bidding with a sultry laugh and a crack of her whip.

"Good guess, but no. I'm no thrall of bones." This time the voice was behind her. Ellsbeth whirled, still looking at the world through the protection of her sphere. She felt along her belt for a potion and then quaffed it, just to ensure extra protection from whatever it was.

A hiss of light just outside her periferal vision as some attack hit the barrier. There was a low thrumm as the energy was absorbed. Still, whatever it was that attacked Ellsbeth's sphere of protection did not appear.

"You will feel the pain of the ages..."

"Make yourself visible!" Ellsbeth cried, her paranoia growing with each moment.

"Then drop your shield." The thing attacked again, this time stronger and sliced five dark marks into the shield. Ellsbeth renewed it, pulling out more power from within to then lash out a bolt of holy energy where the attack had come from.

The bolt passed through air and hit a tree where it singed only leaves.

"I will never take down my shield."

"Then we'll play this game until you're tired." The voice circled around as she spoke. It clearly was a she this time.

Very few things could attack without being visible to the world. Ellsbeth knew little of demons and worried that it was a rogue succubus, intent on some kind of revenge against those who enslaved their kind.

"Wrong again Priestess. Always wrong. How can you live with the knowledge you're always wrong?"

"I am not always wrong!" Ellsbeth could hear the whine within her own voice and winced. It was true. Her place in Infection was secured by her alliance with others more powerful than herself, not her own merit.

"I heard it too. You know you are weak and useless. You're wasting your body, that form that you've been given." Ellsbeth's stalker stopped her circling and remained in one spot as she said, "I'll make good use of you. You're my gift from my new Queen."

Ellsbeth knew the power was draining from her, but she reached out with her hand and attempted to flay her assailant's mind. She felt the tendril of sentience and pulled only to hear echoing laughter in her skull as the shield fell about her.

"You are as stupid as you fear. You gave me a direct link into your soul. And now you're mine."

The creature appeared just before Ellsbeth dropped to her knees before it. Long green hair twisted and twined around a pale face. Two dark purple lips formed a smile. "I don't like your name much, too common. Ells will suit me just fine."

Dusting off her hands, Ells ran her hands down the solid form she'd acquired. She conjured up the shield and then dispelled it. "Responsive. Excellent. This will suit me just fine."

She checked through Ellsbeth's bags, muttering to herself. "Junk. Junk. Why does she keep this trash? Junk. Ooh! That's promising." She picked up the dagger and turned it in a patch of light. "That'll sell nicely so I can buy some robes and accessories that match."

Having sorted everything to her own taste, she summoned Ellsbeth's steed. When it came, she attempted to mount only the bony creature shied away from her. "It's me. Stupid thing. It's me."

It snorted in disbelief, but Ells knocked it on the head with her Prophetic Cane. While the creature was stunned, she mounted and with a hard jerk of the reigns, the steed reared then bolted in the direction Ells desired.

Gleeful, Ells yelled, "It's been too long boys! I have a hankering for something fresh!"

And in the way of all things unfortunate Ellsbeth had found her clarity only her body was the only one who could use it.

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