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  1. 4 points
    It was a beautiful day in Elwynn Forest. The birds were chirping, the cows were mooing as they wandered about unfettered... and the sewer crocodiles that had escaped to the sewage pond outside of Stormwind dragged a particularly careless one to its untimely death. At one of the local farmsteads, a seasonal worker was getting fired. Amidst the relative tranquility and the goings on of the kingdom's residents, a newcomer marched with purpose down the road. With eyes that gleamed with ferocity, upturned nose held high, and scales that shined in the sun, a brown spotted colored Sethrak moved towards the city's gates with purpose! Only to come face to face with a patrol of mounted riders, tasked with protecting the kingdom from the Horde and other threats who had, as of late, invaded and sowed chaos at an unacceptable rate. "HALT, SNAKE!" The patrol's captain motioned for his soldiers to stop, and halfway surround them, "You will go no further!" "HOW DARE!" The Sethrak yelled back, its neck instinctively flattening to make the back of its head and neck wider... presumably to look fierce, "Hoomans go away! I has messij for king!" There was an awkward moment of silence as the captain was... in essence dumbstruck with how spoken words could somehow be misspelled, but he pushed the befuddlement aside, "Stand down and surrender, and you will not b-" "GO 'WAY HOOMAN! AM DANGRUS!" The Sethrak huffed and puffed breaths in, and began to hiss, "EMPIRE DEMANZ SURR-ENDR!" "...um, sir?" One of the rookie patrolman spoke up after another few moments of awkward, befuddled silence, "What is it doing?" "How am I supposed to know? You and you, get off your horses and arrest it." The captain pointed to the rookie and one other guard, who looked at each other, shrugged, and dismounted. "NO TUCH!" The Sethrak hissed louder, tensing a puffing up even more, "I BITE!" The rookie and his partner, despite being faced with this... weird unknown, couldn't help but snort as a laugh escaped them. Undeterred, they began to approach, which caused the Sethrak to become even more defensive, coiling back into a defensive posture until!... ...it collapsed to the ground in a hissing, writhing heap. "What in the... Sir?!" One of the still mounted guards looked alarmed, concerned, but ultimately confounded as she watched the snake man flail about in the dirt in what looked to be a horribly acted death-throe. The guards backed up their horses, but otherwise all stayed where they were, as for the next minute or so the snake person kept on its death act, until finally laying still in a contorted pose... mouth agape, and forked tongue lolling off to the side. "I've had enough of this. Get that damn thing to the stockades and make SI:7 deal with it." The captain annoyedly ordered, turning his steed around back to the city gates, and motioning for the other mounted guards to follow. "You heard 'im." One of the dismounted guards went over, grabbing the Sethrak by its robe collar to try and force it to stand up, but finding it floppy and limp, though not in an actually dead way. Starting to get irritated, he tried to force it to turn over, only to express further frustration as it flipped back belly up, and did it again when he tried to right it once again. "For the love of the light, just throw it over your horse and let's go." "arrrggghh.... no tuch!" The Sethrak quietly hissed and muttered, oofing as it did get thrown over the back of one of the patrol horses, to be carted away into the city's gates, oggled at by the city's denizens, and then locked up to be attended to later.
  2. 4 points
    Hello TNG, After many years of work, I have finally published my first book. If you enjoyed Copper Kisses in Nether Legends or First, Do No Harm, you might enjoy Claim Sanctuary. Unlike my TNG threads, the book was actually edited. It is available on all Amazon Kindle marketplaces in digital form (US$3.98), and also in Paperback (with complimentary e-copy) on selected marketplaces (US$15.99). I have always valued the input of the community here, and while this work is not related to World of Warcraft, I would be very gracious to have anyone read Claim Sanctuary and provide a review on Amazon--even if you hate it! if you are interested, I can provide you with a PDF copy of the book at no charge. If you would like to participate, please email me at danegreenbooks@gmail.com or talk to @Nathandiel on the TNG discord. My very best regards, Nathandiel
  3. 4 points
    A wonder that the Nightborne joined the Horde, Kex'ti Dalendala thought to himself. Telemancy has certainly made getting around easier. He hated portal magic. It always left him nauseated for hours, and for a man of his size, it was a deeply unpleasant experience. The elf monk hobbled through the moor, his boots slick with grime. He could sense the chi of nothing living. But in Tirisfal Glades, dead rarely meant gone. Rarer still did it mean non-hostile. He'd run off the drink from the morning while he rode his raptor from Ratchet to the Crossroads. From there, a wyvern flew him to Orgrimmar, and from there, a portal to the Undercity had brought him to Lordaeron. The sky here always felt low to the ground. Nowhere else on Azeroth, even Northrend, had ever felt so oppressive. The way that fog and cobwebs mixed in the sparse pines did little to relieve the feeling of slow suffocation. He shuddered, and pulled his coat closer. He'd left his armor, or most of it, in the bank of Ratchet. Now, part of him wished he'd brought something, anything besides his stubbornness as protection along on the journey. He carried his staff and limped along with it in one hand, and cradled a small box in the crook of the other. He put his foot on a stone, and heard a voice rasp from the mist. "Not many quick out here, sin'dorei." With a smirk and a chuckle, Kex'ti locked eyes with the glowing yellows of the Forsaken. "Do not worry, friend. I promise that I will keep moving for some time to come." He'd expected a laugh, and received a grunt. Kex'ti took a deep breath of the rot that surrounded him. I suppose I am a slower learner than I would like in lowering my expectations, he thought. "I am here to visit a grave." "Why?" asked the graveguard. Now that he'd arrived, he found he'd never really considered that. This just felt like the right thing to do. "It felt like the right thing to do," he said. The guard lit a lantern. The graveyard flickered in the wan light as the oil spattered against the glass and iron cage. It wasn't nightfall yet, but that made little difference. The lantern was for his benefit, and it sufficed as permission. Kex'ti nodded to the guard, a Forsaken man in dark leathers, a deep hood, and with two wicked scimitars that hung on hooks from his belt. "Augustus Krowne?" The elf asked the undead. The guard moved. The soles of his boots whispered against the peaty soil. The grave was covered in growth. Kex'ti raised an eyebrow to the guard. The Forsaken responded by setting the lantern by the tombstone. "I'm a guard," he answered, "not a groundskeeper." Kex'ti nodded, and knelt. He had worn gloves, and buckled the magewoven coat closer. The wool in the coat would keep him warm, at least. His stomach growled. He knew he wouldn't be eating for a while, given the... Strong flavors preferred by the residents of Tirisfal. The monk removed his gloves, and laid them on the chest he'd carried along. He gripped the moss and branches wrapping the grave, and began to tear them loose. The guard stayed close, and offered no help. A blade would've made the process simple, but Kex'ti wanted to do this manually. He wanted to pull the roots loose, he wanted to work his skin raw, he wanted to feel the mists tingle and itch as he knit and tore and reknit the skin and blood on his hands as the thorns of the vine gnashed into his hands. Hands that had gripped reins of cloud serpents and nether rays. That reached out for people falling away. That had choked the life from a sin'dorei scout in the wrong place. That had maimed, crippled, and killed for sport, for justice, and in madness. Hands which had healed the wounded, that had caressed the skins of the few people he'd loved, and had gripped hands with his closest friends. He didn't want to feel that. He wanted to feel his hands hurt, he wanted to remember the pain of his pinky being bitten loose. He wanted to hurt. He just didn't want to be left alone with it. And who could listen like the dead? He wove the mists into his raw and sliced fingers and palms, channeling chi to the wounds, mending them, and feeling the burn as he stole the life from the bacteria that would try to thrive at his expense. A touch of gray leaked into the spiritual matter from the surrounding mist. The monk rolled his hands, feeling the joints crack. He coughed, but couldn't taste blood. That was good, at least. He reached over to the box, undid the latch, and pulled out a wineskin. He poured it over the grave, the firewater washing off his own blood, the dust of the years since the Wrathgate. "I am sorry, Aug. I know you were more of a wine or a beer guy," Kex'ti whispered in Thalassian. "I can, at least, try to speak your own tongue," Kex'ti said, in halting gutterspeak. He smiled. "Yeah, I know. You always used to say you were a poet before you were an alchemist, and that just happened to be the tongue they put in your mouth." Kex'ti sat into the dirt. The coat would be dirty. So what? He clipped his words, flowing between whatever he knew, whether Krowne would speak it or not. "I wonder if that was the excuse you used: someone put words in your mouth. Aug, I've had a bit of a trip since I dragged you out of that quagmire." "You were right there, but it was like you couldn't decide if you wanted to throw that vial at me, or Putress' defectors. I still don't know why you did that. I would've thought that our time together would've been enough to help you make your choice. Maybe I should've given you the chance. But I didn't want you to go on like that. I didn't want to die like that, and I didn't want your memory to just get...stained like that." "But I wonder, if you just let something go on, does that actually make it better? Did I save you a lot of suffering? Or did I deny you the chance to fix it?" "I think about that a lot. I did up until recently, anyway." "There's a woman. Not... That kind. A Forsaken. Her name is Syreena. She's one of those I can never figure out. For a long time, I'd hoped that patience, a stern hand, might lead her to a nobler path. I mean, I think that's how my life worked. Or how I thought it did. You pulled me out of Silvermoon. Remi helped me see a bigger picture. But... Without the two of you..." Kex'ti looked at his hands, the crisscrossed scars of years of fighting, and the scratches he'd tried to erase with mistweaving. "Have I ever really been my own person? Is that really what I've wanted? Before you, I always listened to mother and father, and they never really gave me much hope. You gave me a chance to do something different, but when I left to go out on my own, I wasn't even alone then. I was doing it for someone else." "Maybe I just make bad decisions when it involves myself." He glanced down to the firewater. "I had my last drink this morning. Or, at least last one for a while. I know what happens when I try and distract myself, whether it's with drugs, or a cause, or just combat. I make bad choices. I hurt people. And... I can't keep doing that. Nobody else deserves to live with that but me." Kex'ti looked up at the sky, or Krowne's presence above, or just to avoid looking at the tombstone. He turned back to find the guard gone, or lurking. What did it matter? The guard could attack him, report the story, or do nothing. Making a mess to be cleaned up later, Kex'ti went on with his monologue. "I ran away, again." "After the Wrathgate, I went to go be with Remiaan, at the Argent Tournament. She died, so I ran away. I went and found a place in the Twilight's Hammer. I can spare you those stories. It was... I may have been selfish in the Arena. I may have been heartbroken when I lost you. When I lost Rem. But what I did to dull that pain... That's what haunts me. That's what makes me wish I just wasn't... Alive, or aware, or whatever oblivion means." He smirked. "That's kind of the sick bit of it. I got exactly what I wanted, there. I didn't have to think about what I was doing. I didn't have to look behind the curtain. I was behind the curtain, and in the dark, you don't really care about it. When someone pulls the curtain aside, it's not what's hidden that you look in on that scars you. It's not what's lurking in the dark. It's that when someone lets the light in, you can see what you've actually been doing, when you've been just doing it blindly, or doing it without much fear." "The horrible thing is that the ignorance is what I miss most. It's not that the truths the Twilight's Hammer and Old Gods preach that burn the mind, or make you hopeless. It's just that when you're following along, they don't matter. You don't matter. You're just matter." He coughed and took a sip from his jug, unknotting a piece of twine he'd tied around it. Without Zhanhao's yao grass, he'd need to go back to Pandaria for it. The twine would remind him when he needed to restock. "That's what scares me most about the Void, I think. Is that knowledge that it's exactly what I wanted: to be nothing. To think nothing. To feel nothing. From nothing, you can be anything. Instead of a cripple. Instead of sick. Instead of a murderer. Instead of a coward." He rested a hand on the tombstone. "I'm sorry you're dead, August. I'm sorry I didn't make good on the life you gave me," he said. "I'm sorry I killed you. I'm sorry.... I didn't make good on either of our lives." Kex'ti rubbed his face. "After that... I just went back to Ratchet. That's where life got good for me, I think. Where we started winning fights. Where I stopped being just a sick kid in Silvermoon. I think that's why I'll always go back there, because it's where I can start over. I've gotten really good at starting over. It's not a fun skill to have." He told the grave about how he met Wei Xo. How he traveled to Pandaria, and made his medicine with the help of Yu-Ting. How he came down the mountain reborn as a mistweaver, and he met Baern Grimtotem, Tauranor, Billamong, and Rabbic Ohen in the Thunder-Pan company. How being an actual mercenary taught him to think as a member of a group, rather than just a small group. How he'd gone to Draenor in hopes of a second chance with Remiaan. How he'd ended up in Sanctuary instead. He smiled, and recounted stories of Vilmah, Cerryan, Nojinbu, and Baern, now Baern Ashtotem. "Those were the best years of my life, August. The time with you, then with Rem, those were great. But Sanctuary... I felt happy. Like I had purpose." He smiled, but his eyes clenched bittersweet. "I knew an orc woman. I saw a lot of myself in her. I hoped that I could help her, that I could push her off the path I'd walked, and spare her the suffering. But..." He coughed. "Sometimes I wonder if me being sick was a sign from the universe. That I'm so poisonous that I can't even live with myself. Sanctuary went to... I guess you'd call it a war. Against a corrupted ancient named Accalia. Twice, in fact. The first time, I had a nightmare. A long, long nightmare. And the thing that I remember is that it was drawn out from myself: It was my fears. My worries, my anxieties, put on display to torment me. I... I remember bits of it, now and then. But what I always remember is that, somewhere in it, I told myself that 'I'm poison.'" "I couldn't keep Shokkra from making the choices she makes. That are so close to the ones I've made, and are going to be just as destructive." "I fought against the Legion, the last year. I helped the victims of a place called Suramar. The elves there were similar to the Sin'dorei, but descended more directly from the kaldorei. I spent a little time on Argus, too, believe it or not." He gripped his hands together. "I met a woman. I fell in love. And, she gave me part of her life, to save me from my illness. There's a lot to love about her. But part of that love is... I destroyed Remi. I destroyed you, and I've destroyed myself and countless others. She made a choice, recently, that she would give trust to those who needed it. I think they're far from deserving it. I think they'll fail. I think they'll fall to madness and worse. But trust? They need that. I know I did. I failed to go where I wanted. But everyone gave me a chance to try." "She trusted them. But I never could. I... Never can. They associated with the Void, and that association was too tempting to ignore. And after everything, I can't make the same choices I've made. When she made that choice, I was angry. I still am, and I'm still hurt that... It felt like my pain was ignored. But pain passes. Pain can heal. It just won't heal in time to make a difference. But part of me has always known what her choices meant for me." "I never stopped loving her. I don't think I can, and I think it would be wrong to try. But that love means I'm not going to destroy her. I'm not going to poison anything else." "Once you acquire a taste for poison, it's a part of you. I might destroy myself, over, and over, and over again. But, this time, I won't drag anyone else into the Void with me."
  4. 3 points
    The constant pounding filled her ears. Julilee lifted her head as the wind rose for a moment, letting it catch the loose strands of pale hair around her face. Beneath her feet, the coarse sand shifted, cut into strange shapes and angles. It was dyed orange and red in the early morning light, and she turned her head to look behind her briefly at the rising sun. The sky, also red and orange and pink, was always a welcome sight, even after having been back aboveground this long. Then she turned her attention back to what lay before her. The pounding was the combination of the screaming, stomping audience and drums. The sands were the floor of the arena and weren't just red from the sunrise, but from dried blood, and were grooved not by the elements but by battles. The sun was rising over the bleachers and the match was about to begin. She drew Mercy. The sword gave away her identity to those who recognized its jagged silhouette, but that turned out to be vanishingly few. So far, she could count them on one hand. Memories were short in war. The white mask that covered the lower half of her face did enough to disguise her identity otherwise, along with the absence of any of the other features that had once marked her identity, such as her once-dark hair, former purple armor, and tabard. Mostly the tabard. That had been the majority of what people had ever seen when they looked at her anyway. To be fair, she was the one who had redesigned it and raised its banner once more. "Juriel! Juriel!" Now she let her image become whatever it may. The gate across the arena opened with slow, menacing clanks that were nearly drowned out as the crowd rose in volume commensurately. Juli stood waiting, the tip of Mercy pointed at the sand. She held it in one hand and nothing in the other. Carrying a shield would only burden her now. The creature that came out was not one of the largest she had faced. The mad brutosaur had been that, and it had cemented her as the preeminent fighter in this arena circuit. But it was one she had never fought before. It slunk out, wary of the noisy crowd and bright, open space, but soon focused on Juli. And then it was followed by another. Two adversaries. The crowd, thrilled by this twist, became all but deafening. The creatures' blue-gray bodies were lined from nose to tail-tip in spikes, and long tusks protruded from their mouths. Their forequarters were heavily muscled for digging, pouncing, and shredding, but their lean bodies were built for speed nonetheless. Lean, but at least twice her size in weight and mass each. Sabertusks. Julilee was given pause as she studied them, knowing that Zandalari druids took on the same form, but in a few moments it became apparent that there was no hint of sentience in these beasts. They circled her warily, moving instinctively as a pack to take down the first edible thing they had seen in days. Juli continued standing still, only turning her head slightly as one circled behind her. When it thought it had the advantage, it pounced. She heard the crunch of sand and moved as it did. She threw herself into a backwards roll that was diagonal to the beast's trajectory. Tucked low to the ground, her relatively small size played to her advantage as she passed underneath the beast. As she rolled, she whipped her blade up and across its belly. There wasn't enough clearance to get the strength behind the thrust to disembowel the thing, but bright red blood spattered over her white, gold, and dark gray armor. The beast shrieked. As it landed and whipped around with shocking speed to lunge for her, paws as massive as her head with claws that long again coming at her face, she was only just pushing herself into a crouch on the sand. There simply wasn't enough time to dodge again. Her empty arm came up to block. It would have done absolutely nothing to save her if not for the Light that blazed into existence around it. The crowd roared in vicious delight as the large beast collided with the shining barrier, its sheer mass pushing her back a dozen meters and leaving a deep furrow in the sand, but she kept her feet under her. After the beast jumped away to seek a new opening, the creature not yet slowed by the shallow gash that bled fresh red onto the sands, she rose unharmed and allowed the shield to dissipate. The other beast, more cautious than its partner, did not yet make a move, only prowling along the side of the clash. The horn on its nose was broken, it was a darker blue-gray, and it was slightly smaller, though not by much. As Juli watched them stalk her, she wondered what had brought them to the attention of the arena organizers. Had they preyed on townspeople? Ravaged local livestock? Or had it just been the appeal of a matched pair? "Juriel! Juriel!" The crowd was insistent. It wanted blood, hers or the beasts', it didn't care. She had learned it thrilled to either, though this had not really come as a surprise. As much as they had loved her rise to underground fame, it would love her downfall just as much. She had seen the betting odds and knew many had no qualms about betting on the latter every match, if not more and more eagerly with every victory. She made good money off those bets. The sabertusks were too fast for her to try to take the offensive. Unlike the brutosaur, they could turn on a dime and rend with those deadly claws as fast as she could blink. If she gave them the slightest opening, they would seize it, and her by the throat. She would have to wait for them to come to her to try to find an opening, and the crowd communicated its disapproval of her patience as she continued to let the beasts circle her, though this time she slowly turned to keep them in sight as much as possible. Trying to urge action, the drum players increased the tempo. It was effective on everyone but those battling in the arena. The crowd grew more frenzied; someone threw a rock that landed with a thud in the sand not far from Juli. From somewhere, she could hear Tetsujin hollering directions at her. She didn't take her eyes off the beasts, nor they theirs off her. The two beasts started to circle closer. She knew the moment they decided to attack. This time, the sabertusks moved together.
  5. 3 points
    Hey all, I've added two new themes to the boards. I have arbitrarily made the Horde one the default, but there is an Alliance version also. I am leaving the green Legion and default White there for others who either don't like change or dark colored forums. Let me know (screenshot if you can) if you find an area where the text on background doesn't have enough contrast to be able to read it. I've gone through a bunch of the pages and I've fixed the things I've found so far. Happy new expansion! To change your theme, go to the bottom center of the page --> Theme --> pick one.
  6. 3 points
    The wolf is right. Being Grim requires caring intensely. I didn't like that description initially, but there is core truth to it. It doesn't require caring intensely about others, but it does require a fanatical dedication to the goal. I'm not sure the girl has that. All she has is the sense of a debt owed. Paying debts is not all there is, and it's certainly not enough to make one Grim. Is there a test that can force her to care? And her sense of Peace... I see the pattern, though I'm loath to admit it to others. If I'm choosing alcohol, it's because my own failure has been too fierce to set aside. That's what I'm not going to spill. I'm not going to admit something is my fault without considerable duress. I've failed again if she doesn't have the sense to keep that version of Peace to herself. Let's hope she shares that definition of peace with Awatu. He'll be impressed, I'm sure. Accept the Peace that those among us who believe in it desire. Accept it for what it is. And while they travel the endless road to their dream, enjoy the annihilation along the way. But you still need to accept and praise appropriately the Peace in public, or the entire structure falls apart. It's better that Syreena doesn't trust me. I was uncomfortable enough that she trusted me with what she gave me. If there's anyone who should know better, she should. And yet? All evidence seemed to point to the contrary. It's odd then, that while I got what I wanted, something seems off about the entire debacle. Does she even acknowledge what else I could have done with the power I had? Does she even care that it was less an outright lie and more a bending of the truth? She was absolutely responsible for the death of a Grim. It was just a brief death of a priest with priestly connections who never would have let her soul drift away for something as pathetic as an overly enthusiastic beatdown. There was just enough truth in my lie that I could have played it for a very long time. I could likely have played it long enough to end her if that had ever been my goal, but it was not. My goal was confession. I got my confession. That game is over. I respect her incentives, despite how misguided they were, but she thought they were worth following for the same reasons that she is willing to take on puppets where I am not. She had a right to be angry at my lies, whether they were based in truth or not, but it's not like she never lied to me. We lie to each other, all day every day. It keeps us going. The truth is inherently boring when not being manipulated to interesting ends. But her anger should have been tempered by how little I asked of her, how little I toyed with her. Was it? Would she have done worse if I hadn't kept the truth in the fiction to myself? I could have killed her with that weapon. That was never my intent, and she should see that. She should know that now, that her death, her punishment is not something I will ever aim for, because if I wanted it, I could have had it with ease. She should understand that now. But something tells me she doesn't. All she holds against me now is my falsehoods, not my reasons for telling them. Why do I even care? I don't. It's better when none of them trust me. They'll treat me as they should when I'm untrustworthy. I don't like the expectations that come with trust. Tradire has... no idea what she's doing. I still don't believe I can give her what she wants. As much as she lies about what that is, I think she believes her own lies. But I do think she wants more than a shield. She wants conversation and there she takes advantage of the words that are my weakness. She wants knowledge, and though I do believe her when she says that desire is limited, I don't think it's quite as muted as she would insist. I also think she wants knowledge I cannot give her, or that my version of it is twisted and broken, and to share it with her would only cause harm. What she wants she should really be getting from someone else, someone... softer in the ways she is, someone sheltered enough to still believe in possibilities that have long since been erased from me. I've at least made it clear what lines I will not cross. And I haven't decided what I will or will not admit to in honor of her game, which makes most conversations where she becomes the subject incredibly awkward, but at least said game seems to be succeeding where it concerns my accepting my role.
  7. 2 points
    Julilee dropped into a crouch, thrusting her empty hand toward the larger beast. The force of her will focused the Light into a stunning cascade that fell onto the creature, knocked it off course, and stunned it for valuable seconds. At the same time, her sword came up in a thrust at the smaller beast as it pounced from her other side. It twisted to avoid the blade and Juli tried to lunge in the complementary direction, but one of its paws still struck the back of her shoulder, and she was knocked to the sand. She immediately rolled onto her back, bringing Mercy in between her and her foe, but the animal did not truly respect the blade, perceiving it as an impediment more than anything, and pounced heedlessly. Catching its claws with the sword earned a reprieve barely in name as the thing's sheer weight pinned the weapon across her body, only held away by the width of the blade. The outer edge of Mercy digging into her armor was the least of her concerns as the sabertusk bent down, fangs snapping toward her neck, while leaning further onto its front paws, ready to start ripping and shredding. Death stared her in the face, but she had seen worse. Jagged golden lines burst into illumination down Mercy's hilt, crossguard, and blade, and in one motion Julilee heaved the large beast off her in a feat of strength beyond what even her well-developed athletic abilities could do alone. The beast hissed in pain and the smell of burning filled the air as it backed away, while she rose to her feet again, gripping Mercy with both hands. Light wreathed her weapon and forearms. The crowd was cheering loudly now. While the larger beast had recovered, it similarly backed away with newfound respect for its prey. The two seemed to visibly reconsider. "Shoo," she said to them. "Ya gotta kill 'em, Juli!" Tetsujin yelled down from the bleachers nearest to her. Though he couldn't have heard her, and she hadn't gestured at all, he knew her well enough to know what would make her hesitate. Despite her presence in the arena, she barely had the stomach to participate in any of this to begin with, much less when the beasts didn't even want to fight. At least, when she thought about it, which she couldn't help but do as the beasts stared at her uncertainly. Then the trappings of an ethical quandary were, at least ostensibly, shattered as more rocks began to fall. This time they were aimed at the sabertusks, and a few hit. The smaller one snarled up at the audience and turned to look at Juli again. Its rising aggression chose the only target available, and it lunged across the sands for her again, the larger one right behind. This time she didn't try to dodge; she lunged forward instead, Mercy leaving trailing ribbons of Light as she swung it, two-handed, down at the oncoming beast. It ducked its head as they met so she only scored across its back, but its true strategy quickly became apparent as it tossed its head in the next moment, scooping her up with its tusks and sending her flying. The crowds shrieked. The second beast was there to catch her. It leapt and its jaws closed around her arm, nearly dislocating her shoulder as she landed heavily. But it wasn't her main sword arm, her sword was free, and its neck was exposed. Pulling against its grip to keep it occupied, she brought Mercy across and opened its throat with one clean slice. A river of red joined the spatters on her armor. The thing gurgled, jerked away, and fell. Pain raked down her legs. The smaller beast had pounced her again and its wicked claws, finally put to full use, pierced the metal of her armor like a tin can. Juli gritted her teeth and tried to kick at it unsuccessfully. It seized her leg in its mouth and started dragging her. Juli swung Mercy but it flinched away without relinquishing its grip, and placed a giant paw on her side, ready to try to tear her apart by brute force. It probably had the strength to do so. She didn't want to use any more Light, but she had to. She closed her eyes. A brilliant flash directly beside its head blinded and disconcerted the beast, making it drop her leg and flinch away. Juli opened her eyes and swung Mercy to cut deeply into its front leg. With a snarl it snapped at the blade and achieved a grip on it that almost took it out of Juli's hands, but not quite. Instead she let the beast's strength pull her toward it and help her plant an armored boot in its jaw. There was an audible crack as a tooth snapped, and she jerked Mercy free, then thrust its point into the beast's chest as it reared. She must have found its heart as it collapsed on her immediately. "Juriel! Juriel!" It took some effort to shove the beast's heavy body off and rise to her feet, bleeding, but she did. She closed her eyes again as she listened to the crowd's chanting. She wanted it to feel exciting, glorious, or even at least satisfying to have triumphed once more and be standing under the weight of the crowd's adulation, but instead, it didn't feel like anything. All she could feel was that the reservoir of Light inside of her was lower than before. Tetsujin jumped down to the sounds next to her. She knew it was him without looking. "Good job, Juli," her manager said. He chuckled. "Hope ya ain't too mad at me for the surprise, but I knew ya could handle it." "Yeah," she said, after a moment, opening her eyes again. Her gaze fell on the two downed beasts. Arena organizers were coming to drag the bodies away. "I can handle anything." She turned to walk away, back toward the backstage area. "Hey!" Tetsujin called after her. "Don't sound so happy about it!" "I'm going to go meditate," she replied without turning. "Make sure no one bothers me, please." "Ya and yer meditation," he said without bitterness. She could barely hear him over the crowd as she walked away. "Should celebrate more, what's the point if ya don't enjoy it!" Wasn't that the question. He would be enjoying his portion of the proceeds from today's fight quite thoroughly later tonight. Juli looked down at her red-streaked armor and weapon. If she'd still worn a tabard, it would have been soaked and shredded. With nothing to fight for now, she found herself fighting anyway. "Because I'll never give up," she said, her voice not nearly loud enough to carry back to him over the crowd. He didn't seem to be expecting a response and didn't miss one, busying himself talking to the arena organizers. She left the roaring arena and went to be alone.
  8. 2 points
    "They're animals! Scare them!" Tetsujin tried to yell at her. He'd learned a long time ago that she ignored most of his directions, but that didn't stop him from trying. Lately, she couldn't even hear him over the crowd - or at least that was her excuse. "Hit that belly spot again, it's already bleeding! Don't give it time to heal! Smash it in the head or something!" He could barely hear himself yelling over the sound of the crowd. When the drums got faster, Tetsujin turned his deafened shouting at them in frustration. "SHUT UP!"
  9. 2 points
    They emerged onto a large balcony. It jutted over the edge of the tier and had a view of a section of the city, as well as the jungle-covered inclines that lay beyond. Further out, the jungle appeared to melt into swamplands. Pterodons wheeled overhead, and the sounds of the city drifted upward. Kex'ti stepped up to the railing and wrapped his grip around it. Juli looked at his hands, seeing the finger he was still missing, and the ring he still wore. "Are you happier here?" she asked, remaining behind and to the side of him. He didn't answer the question, because since when did he answer any question that made him slightly uncomfortable. Instead he tried to find the words to speak of what preoccupied him the most about her reappearance, in his meandering way. "Last I heard, you had been lost in Silithus. And it was not someone from Sanctuary that told me this, but... I am tremendously relieved that you are alive, and were not lost to that cursed place." He grimaced. "I'm sorry if you were worried," Juli said. "It wasn't intentional." "What do you want from me, Juli?" he asked simply. He turned and scrutinized her. She didn't know what he was looking for. Any sign of the taint of the Void? She knew he feared that above anything else. Any hint of the woman he had loved, and who had loved him? She knew it wasn't there in her eyes anymore, whatever he had once seen, though it could very well have as much to do with the knowledge in his gaze as the knowledge in hers. The time they had spent apart had been instructive to them both. If you set someone free and they don't return, that means you were only holding them back. "I wanted to say I'm sorry I never loved you as much as you loved me," she said. He was floored. All he could say was, "What happened to you?" She moved up to the railing beside him and folded her arms on it, looking out but not really seeing anything. Her mind went back to the moment everything changed. The six months that followed had changed her too, but not as much as that moment had. "I came face-to-face with the Void, and it... made me see things differently. I was almost lost to it, Kex'ti. I'm sorry I never really, fully understood your aversion to it before. In the end I had two choices: the Void or the Light. I chose the Light and survived." At her hip, Mercy glowed softly with its jagged lines of gold energy that were no longer just energy. Now the purified weapon glowed with the Light, and so did she. It shone in her eyes and flowed through her constantly, an aura she couldn't turn off. The goblin hadn't been wrong. She was a paladin now. Kex'ti's expression softened. He hadn't missed the difference in her. "I am glad you made the right choice." He thought for a moment, then said, "You do not need to apologize. Love is not a matter of magnitude... and I do not even think it is true. We both made errors in our relationship. Am I happier? No. I am not. But I am also less sad, and frustrated." "You're kind to put it that way," she said. "But I think we both know it was my fault it didn't work. I just want you to know I don't blame you." There it was. She had said it, most of it. She had walked straight out of hell and to him because nothing had mattered more than lifting whatever she could of the burden that she had so unfairly placed on him. If she had died down there, her ghost would have been haunted with the knowledge of the guilt she had inflicted on him, unjust and undeserved. Looking at him, she wondered if it helped. He didn't look dumbstruck anymore, just calm. Maybe it would sink in over time. "I appreciate that. I hope things have improved for you since Sanctuary. I do not imagine it has without you." He lifted a hand from the railing and put it back, watching the birds. "Are you happier?" "I only just got back," she said. He didn't know how true that was. "This is the first thing I'm even doing. Next will be Rylie... if I can communicate with her safely." He nodded. "That is a large part of why I am here, so obviously present in the military. So as not to paint a target on her back. Or draw question to my loyalties. It might be advisable you do the same." "I just don't want her to think she's been abandoned," she said quietly. He scowled. "I have tried to get mail to her. I do not know if it has arrived." Changing topics swiftly as he did when he was irked, he said, "What will you do next?" "After trying to get word of my own to her... I'm not sure." He coughed and reached for where he used to keep his medicinal jug at his waist. It was not there. "Ah. I left my medicine back inside. It was... good to see that you are alive. I am sorry for the troubles you have faced." She listened as he prepared to end the visit, to separate himself from her. She watched as he stepped away from the railing, taking a couple steps back toward the guildhall. Every move he made was so familiar to her. Even with his lost weight, every plane of his face was embedded in her memory. Every twist of his mouth, every furrow of his brow, every pitch in his voice, she knew. But it was like watching him through a window. They couldn't reach each other. So it was just as well he didn't want to anymore. He turned away, but then he stopped. Without looking at her, he spoke. "I never stopped loving you, or believing in you. I just couldn't stomach that one decision you made. I am sorry that choice led you to the path you had to walk, but I hope it brings you purpose and peace. For myself, I often wonder if those things exist. But at least for you, if they exist, I believe you'd be the one to find them." And that was why she'd had to come tell him this. Because he would have kept putting up with her, with far more than he should have, if she had not pushed just a little too far. And then she had accused him of not loving her enough. "You did always love me more than I deserved," she murmured. "Maybe," he said. Before he began to move, he remarked, "Do not endanger Rylie because of a guilty conscience." Then he waved his hand and headed inside. Once, that would have been more than sufficient to offend her. It didn't. What he thought of her didn't matter. Whether he was right or wrong to think it didn't matter. She had done all she could here. The rest was out of her hands. She looked once more over the view. It held nothing of interest. She left Warscar Reach's hall. [[ Written in conjunction with Kexti. ]]
  10. 2 points
    She'd also forgotten what pork tasted like. After journeying north into Durotar, she'd killed a boar, then cooked it over a proper fire. While the meat sizzled and browned, she'd stared at it, struggling with a sense of unreality. Dissociation, she told herself. She'd heard the term somewhere, probably in a leadership course or other schooling her privileged upbringing had provided, but like many other things, she hadn't understood it until she experienced it. Pork didn't really taste special. It was just meat. In the fading light of the evening, Juli inventoried her possessions. She carried very little. Her sword, Mercy; her armor, with the padding she wore underneath; and the contents of her pack, which was at this point only a short rope, a knife, a patched waterskin, a well-used sharpening stone, and five gold pieces. If she continued to Orgrimmar, she could access her accounts and purchase anything at all she needed. She could commandeer a mount, sleep in a bed, replace her shield. She thought about it, then laid back on the hard-packed dirt and stared up at the sky until stars began to twinkle into existence. The sight wasn't as reassuring as she had hoped. It wasn't really anything. It was just the night sky, which was to say, more an infinite void than anything else. "I'm alive," she whispered. The void did not answer. That was a welcome change.
  11. 2 points
    Months ago... Julilee arrived in Silithus, alone. She had bruises under her jaw, above the collar of her armor. “Julilee Liene reporting for Sanctuary,” she said. The overseer she spoke to, a goblin, looked her up and down. They stood at the edges of a busy camp, the makeshift command yurt behind him strung with contraptions of unknown purpose. This had been where she’d been directed upon arrival. “Yer all they sent?” he said, tilting his hard hat back. “We asked for three, and apparently we’re gonna need a whole damn platoon, so you’re definitely not going to cut it, short stuff.” Juli didn’t comment on a goblin calling her short. She barely commented at all. “What’s the situation?” she asked. “Mining accident, with a special voidy bonus,” the goblin replied. “My team was mining up Azerite, and broke into some sort of underground chamber. Thought we’d find some good bug artifacts in there, but what we got was abominations.” He frowned, a hint of uneasiness in it. “I was actually plannin’ on increasin’ my request... A few Horde soldiers volunteered to go in this morning for a little extra grease, if you catch my drift. Clean things up. Shouldn’t’ve been too hard. But they never came out.” Julilee looked toward the mine. This particular operation was a distance away from the wound in the world, but the earth had heaved here enough to expose some underground caves the goblins had eagerly turned to exploiting to get deeper faster. The caves had probably been part of a buried Qiraji hive. The mine entrance was guarded by a couple of uneasy-looking Horde soldiers. At this hour, the shadow from the gigantic sword was fallen over where they stood, and the cavernous black hole of the entrance seemed to swallow far too much light in that shadow. “How many hours ago?” she asked. It was past noon. “Two and a half. You’re not going in there, are you?” he said, incredulously. “They could still be alive,” she said. “Not likely, shorty! And I’m not payin’ you to go in there either, if that’s what you’re thinking. That’s just throwing good gold after bad.” “I don’t want your Light-damned gold.” Juli continued looking toward the mine’s opening. Her cold, flat words confused the goblin to silence. She spoke again, after a moment. “How many people can you help if you don’t ever help anyone?” “What?” he said, baffled. “If I don’t come out, detonate explosives and collapse it.” She walked toward the mine.
  12. 2 points
    In that moment, the world was irreversibly changed for her. You can’t unsee the abyss. You can’t unknow the truth. No matter how hard you tried to repress it, no matter how much you tried to deny it, it would haunt you forever. Juli saw it and knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that nothing would ever be the same. Kex’ti’s fear, his unwillingness to slide so much as an inch closer to that edge, was so much clearer to her now. She had understood it, but she hadn’t known it. Every pretension she had, every self-delusion, no matter how innocuous, every coping mechanism she relied on, all were stripped away. She saw herself and indeed the whole world and uncaring universe laid bare, reduced to an absurd meaninglessness. Of course the world was uncaring; she had never labored under the belief that anyone would necessarily get what they deserved, be it good or bad. She knew evil could triumph anytime, any place, and that it would be forever and thankless a struggle for anyone trying to hold it back. But she had never realized it was also a pointless struggle. No matter how much suffering you tried to alleviate, more would take its place, because evil was endlessly inventive and adaptive. And in the end you died and whatever difference you had made would end up being less than negligible. But worse, somehow, was how all the things she had tried to accomplish, everything she had ever tried to be, was all shown to be utterly foolish, self-centered, and inadequate. Her own uncharitable thoughts, even what she had believed were her deepest fears, were nothing compared to the truth. She had never loved Kex’ti. She had only used him to placate her need for control, and he had allowed it until he couldn’t anymore. She had never treated Shokkra like a person. She had tried to turn Shokkra into what she had thought Shokkra should be, sacrificing everything Shokkra was along the way, until Shokkra broke. She had done more than simply been too cautious with Sanctuary. She had ruined a legacy, dragged it backward and done significant harm it would take long to recover from, if it ever fully did. She had been too hard on Cerryan; she had revoked her trust simply because he was imperfect. Cobrak, meanwhile, she had also expected too much of. She had expected him to place her needs above his own. The list went on and on. Even with Miwanza, she hadn’t come down here for the girl’s benefit, or any of the others’. She had come down here to selfishly prove herself. That was all there was to it. And with her father, for whom she’d never been good enough, the truth was she was just… Oh, fuck you. The reflex was so deeply ingrained, it was inseparable from who she was as a person. Her entire body jerked. No one was allowed to touch that nerve. It didn’t matter who. It didn’t matter why. It didn’t matter even if they were right. Nobody got to diminutize what she had gone through growing up. Nobody got to break her down like her father had always tried to. She was entitled to defend herself. And fuck anyone who suggested otherwise. Just fuck them right in the eye with a jagged sword. She reached out, and her hand closed around the wickedly curved hilt of Mercy. Golden light surged down the blade, purging the tentacles which shrieked as they were dispelled. It filled up the weapon and all of the eyes hovering around shrank back as she pulled it free. Maybe it was all pointless. Maybe she could never make a difference. Maybe she would never do more help than harm in the world. But fuck anyone and anything who tried to convince her to give up. She would die fighting, with her soul intact, because no one would ever convince her to hand it over. The righteousness, the strength, the self-belief, she seized it. ******* When Miwanza awakened, she had no idea where she was. It seemed to be the bottom of some caved-in ruin, stonework on one side and a huge mountain of rubble on the other. There was a torch lying nearby, barely an ember left on it, but she was able to coax it to life with the shreds of some purple fabric that was discarded next to it for some reason. She started climbing, trying to find an exit, guided by the faintest whisper of a breeze. If there were other whispers, she didn’t hear them. It took hours of squeezing through narrow gaps and crevices, but Miwanza eventually broke through to a ravine that was open to the sky. From there she was able to follow it until it became shallow enough that she was able to climb out, and from there she wandered until she came across a Horde camp. “Whoa, what happened to you?” the guard said in alarm, ushering her to a bench. “Alliance hit?” “No… I don’t think so…” Miwanza looked down at herself. She was covered in a layer of dirt and had a bandage wrapped around her leg, though she felt no pain. Later, she would discover there was no injury beneath. “...But I don’t remember what happened.” The guard took a closer look at her and frowned. “Are you glowing? You didn’t try that Azerite brew, did you?” “I don’t think so…” She looked down at herself again. She had thought the torch had been her only source of illumination, but she did seem to be giving off a faint golden glow. As she watched, it faded away, leaving just her dark blue complexion. “Some sort of blessing,” said another guard who had shown up to see what was happening. “You don’t remember anything?” the first guard asked. She shook her head. “The last thing I remember is arriving here in Silithus with my platoon.” No one was ever able to puzzle out what happened. The Alliance were named likely suspects when her squadmates were discovered missing. The incident was soon forgotten.
  13. 2 points
    Juli didn’t have much of a choice. She raised Mercy and delivered a solid thwack with the side of the blade to the girl’s head. Miwanza crumpled and Juli scooped her up, throwing her over her shoulder and running for the far side of the dais. Probably should have done that in the first place. Except now she couldn’t hold up her shield, or fight effectively. And the fallen torch’s light didn’t reach far. No, this plan had far too many problems, but it was the only one she had now. You – can’t – flee – from – what – you – believe – She stumbled down the other side of the dais and fetched up against the wall, which she could barely make out. Ancient tapestries crumbled to dust under her touch. She started following the wall, feeling frantically for any exit. Slithering sounds surrounded her and she unintentionally stepped on another tentacle, quickly grinding it to pulpy sludge with her boot. A swipe around her with Mercy had several more barely-visible tentacles dodging back. Luckily, the golden light the blade gave off wasn’t bright enough to illuminate them. She wasn’t sure what they would do if they reached her even if they couldn’t hypnotize her, though. Her hand on the wall suddenly plunged into nothing. An exit! She threw herself toward it, only to bounce ringingly off a wall just inside. It wasn’t an exit. It was just an alcove. Juli stumbled back, and that was when a tentacle wrapped around one ankle. She was just starting to react when it gave a heave and pulled her feet out from under her entirely. She lost her grip on Miwanza as she fell, the girl’s limp body slamming Juli’s head into the stone floor and stunning her. When she regained her senses a few moments later, she had lost her shield but somehow retained her grip on Mercy, and was dangling upside-down in the air, being drawn away from the flickering torch and toward the corner of the room where the mass was. With a grunt she pulled herself up and sliced at the tentacle around her ankle by feel alone. It loosed her, and she braced herself for a rough landing, but instead landed in what felt like a nest of writhing, slimy tentacles. Light help me. As she struggled to right herself, throwing off tentacles and slashing out with her bright blade, it occurred to her in a wry corner of her mind not currently occupied with fighting for survival that this would undoubtedly make a retroactively hilarious story, someday down the line, to share over a cup of strong liquor with Kex’ti – no, Shokkra – no, Cobrak – no, who? Who would she laugh about this with someday, if she made it out of this? Who would care? Nobody would care. “Get out of my head!” she shouted as she struggled, infuriated her thoughts had once again been pushed in this unwanted direction. We – need – do – naught – your – own – battles – are – fought – In the very faint outlines provided by Mercy’s glow, a great stalk rose up in front of her, twice as wide as she was, thought admittedly she was rather small. At the end, a great orb turned towards her. Juli didn’t wait to see any more. She lunged forward and plunged her blade into the center of it. You – bring – us – power – it – we – will – devour – From the edges of the wound sprung more tentacles. No – they sprung from her sword. Juli jerked her hand back in horror as Mercy’s golden glow was replaced by a vivid purple that grew brighter and brighter as more and more tentacles swarmed out of the sides of the blade. Very clearly released. Her mind leapt to the battles against Karthok and his minions, where Mercy had seemed to harmlessly absorb several void attacks. It hadn’t been harmless at all. All this time, she had been carrying around a void-infused weapon. What have I done? How had she not known? Had it been manipulating her? Let – us – show – you – what – mercy – is – true – Too late, she realized that the illumination was too great. She should have closed her eyes immediately. But, still shocked, she didn’t. And she met the gaze of a hundred black eyes.
  14. 2 points
    Miwanza described it as, of course, an unfathomably hideous tentacle beast with far too many eyes. Juli didn’t know what she expected. All Miwanza could really offer other than that was that meeting the gaze of one of the eyes had spelled doom for her companions. Miwanza had only barely avoided doing so, since to gaze upon the mass was to almost assuredly ended up catching the gaze of one of the eyes; only her companions’ reactions, in front of her, had saved her, as they had commanded her attention and at the same time clued her in to what was happening. “All right, here’s what we’ll do.” Juli looked toward the shadows ahead in the antechamber. Apparently the thing lurked in the next room; they speculated it was immobile, relying on its prey to come to it. “You’ll hold the torch, and I’ll guide you – you’ll be blindfolded.” “Blindfolded? But wait, you won’t be?” Both options seemed dismaying in their own way to the girl. “Yes. I’m going to use my shield to block my vision where needed, and find us an exit. If I stop talking and guiding you at any point… try to smack me in the face, with the torch.” Juli inhaled slowly. “I’ll take being blind over insane.” Miwanza hesitated, then nodded, firming her grip on the torch. “All right. Let’s do this.” Juli had used up most of the roll of bandage, and wasn’t sure the gauze would be thick enough if not layered adequately, so had already decided what she was going to do for a blindfold. She sheathed her weapons and took hold of the hem of her purple and gold tabard. Tearing upward, she pulled off a long strip. One of the wings of the phoenix emblem came off with it. Now how is it supposed to fly? She ignored the nonsensical thought as she had Miwanza bend down so she could securely tie the improvised blindfold around the girl’s head. The whispers were getting louder; more eager. She redrew her weapons, and felt better with Mercy in her hand. They set off toward the end of the antechamber. A wall with a wide archway appeared, separating it from the next room. The stonework was still absent of the black chitinlike corruption, but the whispers were growing louder and louder, no longer in small degrees, but in leaps and bounds as they drew closer. Below it, Juli thought she might be hearing disturbing slurping sounds. There was no point in hesitating. Juli took the girl’s arm with her sword hand, lifted her shield and darted into the room. The torchlight danced madly, illuminating a space smaller than the antechamber – a throne room? There was a dais at the end with some objects atop it, but that wasn’t where the creature was. To their left, the light gleamed on hundreds of orbs and Juli threw her shield up between herself and it before she was sure what she was seeing. Backing away from that direction, she looked around, trying to see if there was another exit. Miwanza, making small sounds of fear, gripped Juli’s arm tightly and almost trod on her feet as she followed Juli’s lead. What – do – we – spy – with – our – countless – eyes – The voice was both inside and outside of her head. “Nothing to see here,” Juli said through gritted teeth. There was no exit on the right side of the room, but maybe there was behind the dais. Juli tugged Miwanza that way, angling her shield. She heard sickening slick noises and strained to determine if they meant the thing was moving. The acoustics of the chamber if not the echoing whispers made that impossible. As they reached the dais, something slid up to her foot, under her guard. She didn’t think; she stomped it to bits. The texture was wretched. “Up!” she urged Miwanza. “Five steps!” Miwanza stumbled as she went up, breaking from Juli’s grip but catching herself. Juli swept Mercy under her shield preventatively, and thought she felt the tip of the blade slide through something that gave almost no resistance. Like, maybe, an eyeball. “Juli?” Miwanza cried. You – saw – all – before – remember – so – much – more – “Keep going!” Juli backed up the steps, keeping her shield up and using every sense she could to try to catch any more tentacles that might encroach. Not being able to look went against every instinct she had. Look out, look out, look out. She bumped into Miwanza, who wasn’t moving. Juli whipped her head to look at the girl, suddenly fearing the girl had somehow become transfixed despite the blindfold, but there were no tentacle stalks near the girl. Nonetheless, she wasn’t moving. “Miwanza! Keep going!” Juli tried to give her a shove, but in response Miwanza simply dropped the torch. It continued to burn, but the light was dangerously dimmer. The – inner – eye – is – where – truth – lies – “I saw it,” Miwanza breathed. “I saw it, before. I ran away, but I remember now.” She reached up. “Miwanza, no!” The girl ripped off the blindfold and smiled beatifically past Julilee.
  15. 2 points
    “First, though, let’s see if I can bandage that wound better for you,” Juli said. Miwanza nodded and sank down against the pillar. Juli gave her the torch to hold and started unwrapping the bandage. “How come you came by yourself?” Miwanza said. She paused. “I mean, it’s very brave, but… didn’t it seem risky?” “Someone else was going to come with me originally,” Juli said as she worked. She didn’t know why she said what followed. “But she felt I was going to betray her, so she attacked me, disabled me, and took off.” “Why did she think that?” Miwanza said, somewhere between curious and alarmed. Juli was silent for a moment before answering, working on unbuckling the girl’s leg plate and setting it aside. “She thought she wouldn’t get a fair trial for something she’d done which others viewed as a crime. I thought she would, but… I guess I don’t blame her.” “Sounds like you two have a complicated relationship,” Miwanza offered. “You could say that.” “Is she the one who gave you those bruises?” Juli paused in the middle of getting out her water canteen, one hand rising reflexively toward the bruises under her jaw. It was a lucky guess. “Yes,” she said. “If, um, she was going to be put to trial, why were you two coming here…?” Juli considered what to say. She had already said all that, so why not the rest? “It was going to be our last assignment together. I resigned from my post as leader of my guild. I just… wanted one last chance to feel like I was carrying out Sanctuary’s mission, the way I’d always envisioned it, with someone I always hoped could see it the same way.” “I’ve heard of Sanctuary,” Miwanza said, perking up. “You want peace between the Horde and the Alliance, don’t you?” Juli sighed inwardly as she cleaned the wound. “We want peace for everyone, regardless of faction,” she said, the correction one she had given more times than she could count. Then she paused, realizing she was speaking as though she were still part of Sanctuary. “Or at least, that was my vision. I don’t know how good a job I did of getting anyone closer to that while I was in charge. But I’m not going to try anymore.” “You’re giving up?” “On some things,” Juli said. She reached into her satchel and pulled out a roll of bandage. “I’m not going to try to lead anymore. I could never really inspire anyone. Not their confidence, not their hope, not anything. So I’m just going to do whatever I can until I can’t anymore.” She started wrapping Miwanza’s leg tightly. “So you came down here on pretty much a suicide mission.” Miwanza gave a rueful laugh. “Do you even expect to get out of here alive?” Despair underlaid her words. Juli looked up at the girl. “I will die trying to get you out of here alive,” she said quietly, “but dying is the very last option, and not one I’ll be throwing myself at. You can’t help anyone if you’re dead.” “You sound like you’ve said that before,” Miwanza said, the words calming her somewhat. “Someone said it to me years ago,” Juli said. “And it stuck… maybe too much. I was too cautious, for too long. An entire guild’s lives were in my hands. One bad call and I could lose someone who trusted me, right?” She was silent for a moment as she worked, tying off the bandage. “But Sanctuary needed to take those risks. We weren’t Sanctuary unless we did.” “Like Aerie Peak,” Miwanza said. Juli stopped again, looking up at the girl. “People still talk about that?” she said. “I was at the Wyvern’s Tail once when some Grim came in, and they mentioned it,” Miwanza said. “I found the official Horde report later and read it. The Grim said you attacked them, but according to the report, you stated that you only stood in defense of Alliance civilians and noncombatants when the Grim attacked. People say a lot of things about Sanctuary, but… I’ve seen what the Grim have done… I wouldn’t put it past them to do that.” “Yes,” Juli said. “The town’s soldiers were mostly away, leaving only children, elderly, the infirm, and other noncombatants… There were only a handful of us Sanctuary, and a whole squad of Grim. But we chose to make a stand, even though we were outnumbered.” She remembered the clash of her and Khorvis’ blades. Lilliana’s twisted face as she flung dark magic. Cerryan’s bright cries. The surety that had rung in her heart, the utter lack of regret even when things were at their bleakest. “But things changed after that… No, I changed. I became unwilling to take any more risks. I was too afraid that someone else would pay the price if I was wrong.” “But you were just saying you can’t help anyone if you’re dead,” Miwanza pointed out. She helped with her free hand as Juli buckled the leg plate back on. “So being cautious isn’t unreasonable.” “Yes,” Juli agreed. “But you can’t help anyone if you never help anyone, either.” She rose to her feet and offered Miwanza her hand. Miwanza clasped it and Juli pulled the girl to her feet. With the new, tighter bandage, she seemed more stable. Miwanza tested her weight on it and seemed satisfied. She still wouldn’t be leaping across any chasms, but she could get around. “I’m not responsible for anyone else anymore,” Juli said. “Just myself. So I’m going to take those risks now that I always should have. I’m not going to run toward death, but I’m not going to always run away from it, either. That’s why I’m here. I won’t let you down.” “If you say so,” Miwanza said with a weak chuckle. “I’m not going to look a gift boar in the tusks. If we get out of here alive, I’m not gonna argue with whatever philosophy you used to do it.” The whispers had quieted while the two spoke. It had been a welcome break, but suddenly Juli had the feeling that they had been listening. Well, it wasn’t anything that hadn’t already been in her mind, on which the shadows had already played. And, as always, the only way to go was forward. No matter what lay behind, she had to keep moving forward, because giving up was never an option. “Keep the torch,” Juli said. “I’ll need both my arms to fight. What can you tell me about the thing ahead?” The whispers were growing loud again as she drew her sword and shield. The bright, jagged lines on Mercy gleamed golden in the darkness. “Oh, you’re a paladin!” Miwanza said, her voice rising with real hope for the first time. “Maybe you really can beat this thing!” “...” “What?” Miwanza blinked. “Just tell me what this thing looks like.”
  16. 2 points
    From there, the pathway didn’t fork anymore. It was a blessing because she didn’t have to worry about losing her way, but a curse because she didn’t have concentrating on not losing her way to keep her distracted from the whispers. She spent some time thinking about how to get back across the treacherous cavern on her way out. Once she had a few basic ideas about that, she didn’t have much else to try to anticipate or plan. She found herself wondering what the outside world do if she never came out. How many weeks would it be before someone went into her office to try to figure out what mission it was she’d mentioned to Vilmah? Would anyone try to follow her down into this damned place? Or would they assume she’d just run off with Shokkra? The whispers loved that train of thought, so she tried to think of a new one. A distraction came in the form of the walls and floors. The reddish, bulbous, silithid-made appearance of the surfaces was changing. It was becoming darker, and glossier. Her sabatons made a slightly different sound on them. They clicked more. She paused to inspect a particularly bulbous pustule once it had all become very shiny and black, bringing her torch nearer to it. Deep within, the blackness contracted as the torch neared. It was an eyeball. She flinched back instinctively, but nothing happened. After a few moments to calm her thoroughly unnerved heart, she continued on. Something loomed in the path ahead. She couldn’t quite figure out what it was for a moment, only able to perceive a strange shadow lying in the way, before it clicked. It was a chasm. The earth had been split here, this far beneath the surface, the rending wide enough that she had to get close to the edge before the circle of light her torch provided illuminated the opposite side. The bottom of the chasm, she couldn’t see at all. A breeze stirred the torch’s flame, ever so slightly, though she couldn’t feel it. Did the opening go all the way up to the surface, somewhere? Even if it were impassable to anything but a breeze, the fresh air was welcome. The whispers seemed quieter here. She considered her options. It was a noteworthy distance across, but she suspected that with a running start, she could make it. However... she wasn’t entirely sure. But other options did not seem promising. She had brought no rope, and an inspection of the walls and the edges showed that there would be no climbing sideways or down, the material too slick and sheer to promote a safe hold. If she wanted to continue, across was the other way to go. There were three more Horde soldiers unaccounted for. They could very well be at the bottom of this chasm, so far as she knew. Or, this chasm could have only opened up with the last earthquake in that cavern of impalement. Or, the chasm had been here, but they’d made it across. Or, they could have gone a completely different direction. Well, there was only one way to find any of that out, wasn’t there. She backed up a distance, then started for the edge. However, she didn’t run at full speed, and slid to a stop before the edge. She was half-expecting a tentacle to try to lash up at where she would have been mid-jump. But nothing happened. The whispers didn’t even change. Am I too paranoid? Or am I the only one prepared? You’re always the former until you’re the latter. She backed up again, and this time ran as hard as she could. Her footing at the edge almost gave out under her as she leapt, but she was still able to get enough of a launch to just barely make it across, her feet landing inches ahead of the gap. She pounded to a stop, looking back. The gap looked wider from this direction. She kept going. It suddenly changed. In a transition spanning only a few feet, the material surrounding her shifted from the black, organic (?) material to gray stonework, tendrils trailing into it then disappearing. It was an ancient, deeply buried ruin. She lifted her torch higher as she stepped into the area, looking around. It seemed like some sort of grand antechamber, wide, with dual rows of pillars reaching to the ceiling. The whispers echoed, here, like she was hearing them with her actual ears. Realizing that was also when she realized that she could hear again, and that she had been able to for some time. It was enough to give her pause, and wonder what else she’d missed. But all she could do was try to pay as close attention as she could to her surroundings, and she did as she moved forward, casting her gaze about, aware that there were many directions with much cover that something could appear from. Then a muffled sob came from one side. As much as she had every reason to believe it was a trap, she couldn’t not ensure it wasn’t. Hand on Mercy’s hilt, she moved toward the sound. Sheltering behind the pillar was a troll in Horde armor. She was bunched in on herself, holding a one-handed axe with both hands. She almost leapt at Juli as she appeared, but stopped in confusion at the last moment, stumbling and shrinking away. “What...?” Juli held up her hands, including the one still holding the torch, spreading the fingers a little bit to show it was all she held. “My name is Julilee. I came down here to find you. Are you all right?” she asked. “Are... are you real?” the trolless asked. “Are you?” Julilee replied dryly. “The shadows haven’t stooped to outright illusions yet, but I wouldn’t put it past them.” The trolless didn’t seem entirely reassured by that, but she looked like she wanted to be. She was young, with blue hair and darker blue skin. Her youth made Juli think of Mariz. Mariz could have easily ended up here, had she signed up with the Horde military instead of Sanctuary. But Juli had ended up here too, hadn’t she, because of Sanctuary. Juli wasn’t sure what lesson she was supposed to draw from that conclusion and didn’t have the time to ponder it further. “Look,” Juli said, “I want to get you out of here safely, and your companions if they’re still alive. Do you know where any of them are?” “We lost Mal’lul early in the tunnels,” the trolless said hesitantly, “and Orenzi to the spikes.” She swallowed, still gripping her axe. “Lomar and Kaishu, they convinced me to keep going once we got here... They said that there would be treasure in ruins like these and the goblins couldn’t complain about us helping ourselves down here while we cleaned up the voidspawn... and maybe we’d find something to help us get back through the spikes and the suffocating dark thing...” “What happened?” Juli prompted. “Where are they now?” “We went ahead, and... the voidspawn... it... there was... it was too big. It got Lomar and Kaishu... almost got me...” Julilee nodded. She didn’t press for details. “What’s your name?” “Miwanza.” Juli gave her a closer look. The girl looked scared out of her mind. She also had a bloodied bandage tied across her right thigh. The stumble hadn’t been entirely due to the pulled swing. “How fast can you move, Miwanza?” “Not very,” the girl admits. “I only got away because the... thing... it was occupied.. with...” Juli nodded again, letting the girl know she didn’t need to explain. “There’s a chasm in the tunnel on the way out. I made it across but I don’t think you can with your injury. We’ll need to find something to help us cross it, or another way out of here.” The sheer practicality Juli evinced seemed to be reassuring the trolless that Juli was real, though the situation as described clearly scared her. “What do we do?” she asked. Juli considered that herself. There was no guarantee that any other exit existed. Nor was there that there would be any items they could put to use in these ruins. And it was guaranteed that an enemy lay ahead. But there were literally no other options. “We get past it.”
  17. 2 points
    The path opened up into another large cavern. Juli could tell it was huge by how the small sounds she made, her footsteps and the rustling of her armor, got swallowed up by the dark that her torch couldn’t find the end of. She weighed her options: go through the middle or stick to a wall? In the end she decided to follow the whispers, which led out away from the walls. The soldiers, if they were fleeing in terror, would have taken much the same course anyway. An obstruction appeared – a stalagmite. She moved around it and encountered more, the ground growing thick with them. A natural cavern? She paused to look at one of them more closely. It didn’t appear to be made out of mineral. She hesitated to inspect further, and continued on. Her ears strained to pick out sounds in the dark surrounding her. Even her own movements seemed muffled, and to be growing more so. Only the whispers stayed at the same volume. At first she wasn’t sure if it was an acoustical trick, but eventually she stopped and tapped and her armor to check, and she heard nothing at all. She scanned her surroundings, wary of what this meant. Had she lost her hearing, or was this some new threat? Or both? Then she began to feel vibrations under her feet, rapidly growing stronger. Instinctively, she reached out to steady herself on one of the stalagmites. This proved to be a bad idea as it broke off at her touch, far more fragile than she had anticipated. The rumbling grew heavier, accompanied by a rushing of air, and she turned her head to see a stalactite crash down not far from her. She couldn’t hear it hit, which was disorienting, nor the fragments that she could feel bounce off her armor as she shielded her face. Managing to keep her feet, she started moving quickly, seeking the end of the cavern. With her right arm she drew her shield and held it up to protect herself as more stalactites came crashing down in utter silence. At least one bounced off her shield directly, but other than being jarring, it did no harm, its material far too fragile. While running for cover, Juli almost tripped over another body, this one a female orc. She also wore Horde armor and was impaled on a broken stalagmite, which appeared to have fallen over and shattered in the earthquake. How? Juli didn’t have time to puzzle it out and quickly passed by. Almost all of the spires along the ground had collapsed at that point, and fewer stalactites were falling now. In another few moments, it ceased entirely. Juli slowed to a stop, looking around. Fragments lay everywhere that the torch’s light could reach. The cavern was clear of obstructions now, save for the rubble. But she has a feeling that that wasn’t it. The rumbling started up again. Instinct made Juli break into a sprint. The ground grew strangely mushy under her feet. The debris was disappearing. Absorbed into the ground? Then, the ground grew hard again. She had the weird feeling that the ground was actually changing, and not from her passage of distance, but altogether. This place was all wrong and unnatural. Then a stalagmite erupted from the ground in front of her. She spun, barely avoiding running into it, though she still bounced off the side of it. The soundlessness of it all was as jarring as the impact. It didn’t break, much stronger than any of the ones that had collapsed. Fully capable of impaling someone. It was a new one. It had regrown. She didn’t know if her own wild imagination had supplied the thought or if the whispers did, but couldn’t do anything right then but dismiss it anyway. She kept running. Another one erupted just in front of her, but she saw it coming this time, and leapt over it. Her instincts told her there was going to be more than direction to this threat, and when a spike suddenly speared down down from the ceiling, she was not entirely surprised. She ducked, her short height once again coming in handy for something, and kept going. Several more close calls later, she fetched up against a wall. Quickly reconsidering that, she moved away from the potentially lethal surface and moved to follow the edge at a safer distance. No spikes did end up coming out of the wall, but several more erupted from the floor and ceiling, trying to get her. One scored along the side of her leg but her armor took the scratch. Eventually, she found an opening and ducked in. The spikes didn’t follow, and the rumbling ceased. The whispers flowed down this passage. If there had been more than one exit from the impalement cavern, it seemed she had found the right one. Juli slung her shield back on her back, put her hand on Mercy’s hilt, and continued on.
  18. 2 points
    The narrow entrance led to an even narrower corridor, one that looked like it was created by the earth’s rupturing rather than created by creatures, sentient or otherwise. The cavern it led into, however, was another matter. The torch’s light shone on bulbous walls signature of what one could expect in the zone. Juli moved out into the open, looking for other exits, and the light illuminated three other corridors out of the cavern. From one of them flowed the whispers. Eerily, they sounded like someone she knew, though she couldn’t say who. She put her other hand on the hilt of Mercy and followed them. The path forked; Juli took the one that the whispers were coming from. Then it forked again, and again, and again. She started building herself a mnemonic to remember the path she took: My really lousy rocks reach lower levels… It didn’t make any sense, but that was fine as long as she could remember it. Focusing on the dumb game kept the whispers from encroaching on her mind, too. It seemed odd that the path forked so much. As far as she knew, most silithid hives just spiraled deeper and deeper, without many branching paths at all. And this one just kept going. At one point, she realized she was going in a circle, and was forced to take some time to revise her mental map, figure out where she had started repeating herself, then go from there, finding a passage where the whispers were marginally louder than the one she had been taking. After that, the whispers started becoming a thrumming undertone of too many speaking at once to understand. She chose to not be disturbed by it, determined to get to the bottom of this and find what had happened to the missing soldiers. Her thoughts started wandering as she continued on. There was too much weighing on her mind. Losing Kex’ti, giving up Sanctuary, even Cobrak’s actions. And Shokkra. The more she thought about it all, the more depressed and discouraged she got, her thoughts darkening. Why was she even here? Why was she even trying, when she couldn’t help anyone? Then she realized that those thoughts weren’t her own; they were what the whispers were saying. Anger burned bright clarity back into her mind. She wasn’t going to give up, and she certainly wasn’t going to give up because manipulative entities were toying on her fears. It was at that same moment that she realized the shadows were encroaching on more than her mind. An amorphous blob hovered at the left side of her peripheral vision, and as soon as she realized it was there, she instinctively swiped at it with the torch in her hand. A shriek split the enclosed space and suddenly it was hard to breathe. It occurred to her she didn’t even know how far she was underground and if good air could still reach down there. She could suffocate. She was suffocating. No. More shadows. She drew her sword as the blob recoiled then lurched for her again, and the shining blade sliced right through it. It died with another shriek, and as soon as the sound dissipated, she could breathe again. She took a moment to do just that, as she shifted carefully, looking around for any other threats. She ended up finding a body instead. It was a male troll in Horde armor. His eyes bulged, his mouth agape, as though he had choked to death. His body was cool, but not yet stiff. His companions must have fled ahead and left him to die. Juli turned back toward the whispers and continued.
  19. 2 points
    Juli stood at the entrance to the mine. Besides being unnaturally dark, a chill breeze flowed gently from the cave’s mouth, yet it failed to stir the flames of the torches on either side. That wasn’t the worst part, though. The worst part was the impression of whispers carried on that breeze, like a hushed conversation you were overhearing while asleep and couldn’t make any sense out of. It was no surprise the two Horde grunts guarding the entrance seemed uneasy. They looked at her as she stood there, and as she did, their expressions slowly turned from dubious to bewildered as she did not move for some time. She ignored them, immersed in thought. Eventually, she took out her hearthstone and spoke. “Sanctuary, thank you for the chance to lead you as long as I did. It’s been the most important three and a half years of my life. If you haven’t already heard, I’ve passed the mantle of leadership to Vilmah Bloodborne. I had reached the end of what I could offer Sanctuary, and I know she’ll be able to guide you further than I could. It’s been an honor. Thank you.” When she was done, one of the guards asked with nervous gentleness, “Err, lady, you’re not going in there out of some deathwish, are you?” The juxtaposition of her words, which they could hear, and what she was staring into was rather clear. The other shifted awkwardly, and the first guard went on. “Just take a little time, find someplace to blow off some steam. Go fight in an arena, spend some gold somewhere – fel, go get laid. You’ll feel better and realize you don’t have to do anything drastic.” “How many are unaccounted for?” was all she asked. “Five of ‘em went in,” the other guard said. “Two trolls, two orcs, and a pandaren.” She grunted. “Haven’t heard a peep. Other than...” Her eyes shifted toward the dark of the cave mouth, where the unheard whispers were coming from, and she scratched at an ear nervously. No new information since the request that had come to her desk, then, about what Juli would actually be facing down below. The report had just mentioned voidspawn in a cave the miners had broken into, from which they’d quickly retreated with no casualties. Juli mentally reviewed what she knew and found it wasn’t much. She would have to figure out what was going on herself. “She sure stands around thinkin’ a lot,” the second guard commented to the first. “Someone has to,” Juli muttered, then walked into the cave. She grabbed a torch off the side as she passed by. The guards didn’t stop her.
  20. 2 points
    Somewhere behind dark clouds, the moon was high over Sun Rock Retreat. Rain pattered down onto the dry red dirt, collecting in puddles and dribbling down the sheer cliff faces into the small Tauren village below. Despite the hour and the weather, the distant sound of fighting could be heard echoing from over the canyon walls. And standing above it all, looking down into the village below, was a lone Goblin. A cigar chomped in the corner of his mouth lighting up his face and the pair of goggles resting upon his forehead in an orange-red glow. He’d take a heavy puff from the cigar now and then, drawing on it to keep the dim glowing tip alight despite the rain fighting to extinguish it. With a sigh, he reached into his vest and withdrew a pocket watch, exchanging it to his opposite hand to fling the water that had collected on his fingertips after reaching into his soaked clothing. Lifting the pocket watch to his cigar to cast some light on it in order to read the time. He grunted and rolled his eyes before tucking the watch away once more into the wet clothing from which it had came. “You’re late again.” He commented aloud around the cigar, rolling it from one side of his mouth to the other. Behind him, the sound of heavy steps in the mud grew gradually louder. A Tauren approaching, walking up the steep wet slope of the path that lead to the top of the cliff. “Sorry. Traffic.” Came the flat joke in reply, a smooth baritone voice from the bull that strode toward the Goblin. The Goblin rolled his eyes, visible only thanks to the glow upon his face. But the smirk that pulled at the corners of his lips was obvious. It was short lived though as he pulled a folder from under his arm, tucked into his armpit to keep it at least somewhat dry. It wasn’t particularly effective. Never the less, he held the damp folder up with a full extension of his arm for the Tauren to take it. And as the bull came to a stop at the cliffs edge he took the folder, opening it in a hand. The Goblin reached into his vest to retrieve a flashlight for the bull to read by, but stopped short. Before he could retrieve the flashlight, the Tauren’s fingertips upon his free hand lit up with arcs of blue electricity. His hand raised just high enough to light the pages. Within the folder were photos and documents. Horde insignias marked each page. Post combat reports and debriefings taken by Horde intelligence. Thick fingers paged slowly through the folder, flipping from one page to the next before coming to rest upon a photo. An image frozen in time of the carnage upon the beaches of Darkshore. In the distance, the world tree Teldrassil smoldered, spewing smoke into the sky. The Tauren visibly hesitated, an action which the Goblin recognized. “It’s bad.” Came the thickly accented voice of the Goblin. “Bad is one word for it.” The Tauren replied as he traced a finger along the photo, smearing raindrops across its surface. “It would be ironic for me of all people to say Sylvannas has gone too far.” “But?” “But Sylvannas has gone too far.” The Tauren replied, closing the folder and holding it back out to the Goblin. Realizing that he was done, the Goblin reached up and took it, tucking it back beneath his arm. “So what do we do about it?” “Nothing.” Came the baritone reply. The Goblin blinked, before looking up at the Tauren with a raised brow. “The leader of the Horde is going too far in their conflict with the Alliance. Again. And we’re going to do nothing. Again?” He asked quizzically, wanting to confirm what he’d just heard. “The whole reason myself and the others left was because our fight was over. Our whole intent was to fight the battles the Horde could not. Garrosh made our existence unnecessary. For the Raven Cross to continue would simply mean becoming a part of the greater Horde war machine. This is no different.” The Tauren replied easily, shrugging his shoulders. “And I have no interest in killing a fellow member of the Horde. No matter how despicable they may have become. It should not be our way.” “So we just go back to watching?” A nod of the Tauren’s head indicated his reply. Silence lingered in the air between them for a time. Only the sound of the rain pattering down onto the world around them would fill the air. The goblin stared at the Tauren for a time, before realising that the rain had finally won out against his cigar - it now was dark and wet. Grumbling, he pulled it from his lips and dropped it to the mud, stamping on it with a boot to make sure it stayed out. “What about the others? Have you heard anything about them?” The Goblin asked, shaking his foot to dislodge mud from his boot. “Not for years. We all went our separate ways. I’m not sure about the others that stayed and kept flying the flag, but they’re not in Sun Rock anymore.” The Tauren replied, his eyes on the village below. Even in the dark, the Goblin could make out the sombre look upon his face. “It was for the best for everyone that we stayed out of touch. The Alliance weren’t exactly going to take what we did lying down without looking for revenge. We were a liability to each other.” There was a brief pause, before the Goblin chuckled. “So remind me why we still keep doing these little covert meetings, then?” The grin from the Tauren was visible even in the dark as he turned his head to look down at the Goblin. “Old habits die hard, my friend.” With those words, the Tauren turned and started heading back towards the path up the cliff. “I need to go see Teldrassil for myself. Then maybe I’ll change my mind about our next move. Maybe it’s time.” Nodding his head, the Goblin was silent and watched as his friend started walking away. But before he was out of sight, the Goblin spoke up one last time. “Dio!” The Tauren lifted his head, and in the dark the Goblin could make out the silhouette of the Tauren as he turned his head to look over his shoulder. “It was good to see you. Unulu, too. I’m assuming he’s around here somewhere, at least.” The Goblin remarked. In the dark, his expression unreadable, the Tauren smiled. “Yeah, he’s around. It was good seeing you, too, Chikt. I’m sure we’ll be doing this again soon.” With that, the Tauren continued down the path. And as he disappeared out of sight, the storm went with him.
  21. 2 points
    Late to seeing all this, but well wishes to the lot of you. Legion saw a shift for me away from Rp unfortunately. At least for a bit raiding was great and Katrynne got to be a part of that! I'll always look back fondly on our planned kidnapping and everything that stemmed from that. I repeat my wishes for continued success! I plan to be more RP focused this expansion, so who knows, our paths may cross yet again. After all, there is still a score to be settled. >:)
  22. 2 points
    The House is an RP event that will take place entirely in Discord. All Horde and Alliance roleplayers on TN/RH are welcome. There will be contestants and audience. There will be chances for the audience to participate and help guide the challenges for the contestants. The main goal of this event is to put your character into a setting with other characters they might not normally interact with, for some fun RP! More information about the house, including screenshots and descriptions of each room are on the Discord server. Applications are due by midnight on Sunday, June 3, and may be submitted on the Discord server in the Applications channel. Discord link: https://discord.gg/RuDVFSG THE HOUSE RULES 1. This event is open to all Horde and Alliance RPers on Twisting Nether/Ravenholdt. 2. This event will take place entirely in the Discord server, Razz’s House. However, any gold prizes earned will be sent through in-game mail. 3. You may apply on as many characters as you want. Please list your main to ensure only ONE of your characters is selected. There is a non-refundable application fee of 1000g per character. This money will ALL go in the prize pot, along with enough of my own gold to make 100,000g, to be distributed to the winners at the end of the game. 4. Most of the “game” will be freeform RP in the House. The main goal of this event is to give people a chance to RP together whose characters would normally not interact with each other. 5. There will be occasional IC challenges. The day and time of the challenges will vary, to give opportunity for everyone to participate. The challenges will take place in Discord, but will start and complete within set time frame, so participants will be expected to be able to be active and attentive during it. Winners of the challenges may be determined by dice rolls, contestant votes, audience votes, or possibly other means. Winners will receive points and/or some other meaningful award. 6. IC, applications have been left in all major taverns, along with anonymous nominations. If you want to participate, but your character wouldn’t apply to something like this, you can say someone nominated him anonymously. 7. The contestants will NOT be all from one race or one guild. Such balancing will be kept in mind as contestants are selected to ensure variety in the household population. 8. Each contestant will earn points through various challenges, voting opportunities in the House, voting opportunities by the audience, and whenever Razz feels like giving out points. 9. Hobgoblins/mooks will be employed to keep the peace within the House and grounds. While they won’t interfere with scuffles and small fights, anyone fighting with deadly intent will be thrown in the dungeon. Please respect their authority in the House, and if your character does get violent, play along with getting arrested. Your character may remain locked up for a couple days, lose some points, or receive some other punishment agreed upon OOC. Repeated offenses may get them banned from the House. 10. If you are interested in participating in The House, please see the #applications channel. 11. All House RP rooms are "open" meaning anyone in the house can enter and join in the RP there at any time. Bedrooms might be an exception depending on the RP. (Please do NOT RP any NSFW content in this server.) ------------------------------------------------------------------ AUDIENCE Anyone who does not have a character in the House can participate in special Audience events. These may include voting on winners of events and other issues, being a special guest star in the House for a short period of time. Suggestions for events, and even running an event may also be options for audience members. Audience members may also RP as mooks if they choose. (See below.) Anyone in the Discord server who is not a contestant will be given the Audience role. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- MOOKS ANYONE may play a mook at any time if one is needed to break up a fight, except the people involved in that particular fight. The mooks will only break up fights that look deadly in nature. They may lock the offender(s) up in the cells. They are not very bright, but they are large and well armed with various weapons, nets, handcuffs, stunrays, etc. They may also step in if someone is trying to cause harm/theft to the House or to Razz, or other very serious infractions. Players are expected to play along with any mook attempting to restrain them. RPing resistance is allowed, as long as the player allows the mook to "win" in subduing the character.
  23. 2 points
    LUNK RITE MOAR WORDS hai hi, me iS stIlL Lunkkk, wriTe stOry bout scarY day! :O haHa :O looK likE LoNk facE! 2dayYyYyy ScAry. FeW days b4r, sCar LadY brinG frned, n he bIg n mean. anyWay, 1day 2day end of miss Razzy contest. PRETTY LADY WIN! lunK very happppy. Affer she Win, HOUSE CATCH FIARRRR! :OOOO luNk watch shoWs in room wid friends crOnk n PonK. n boB n Lonk2 buttt dey naht frinds. dey sUck. So, we watchIn show, LunkkKk look like tis: \o/ he hav good time. Den, get HAWT. BoB tell turn air, buT no AiR, AirrR hot! B4r no, rooM on fiahr in Mid of Ahll miiii gren chilrend! N lunk Lock in firarr room! bOoB haZ good ida, Hee spiLl dranK oN fiarrhs! N CrOonk spits on fiaarhrs! smmMart cRoNk..s Luank try same. Den! PRETTY LADY COME SAVE LUNK! Door opn, pretti ladi derE wid nothAr pretY lady! TwO pretTy Ladies! :O Dey Yallink at moOks n wE run out RooM n dey SavEe liFE!!!! BesTtest ladIes evarh! baD stuf happeN miSs RazzY housE brrrn 2 groun, but MisS RaZzY sayyfe! n moOks sayyfe! we go Poooorrt? Purt? Pert now! NEwww hOomE 4 Lunk Lunk! luv lunk ❤️ The text is written in the same shambled up journal as before, the mook having had it stuffed in his pants as he left the burning building. The edges of the paper is charred, as the mook attempted to fan the flames away. There is a wrinkles where some stray saliva got on the paper. It is written in the same messy text, but it is full of love. Lunk loves his job and loves the people he works with. Especially Miss Razz ❤️. He won't forget his time at the house with all the pretty ladies and silly men! Or, that's what he thinks!
  24. 2 points
    The Grim was always a good fight, best of luck to you.
  25. 2 points
    Proud to have been a member of The Grim for several years, and I look forward to seeing the story continue on WrA. ❤️
  26. 2 points
    Hello! I feel like I should have posted this SOONER, but I've kinda been all over the board as far as forumers go! I am Hunter, otherwise known as Chestius, otherwise known as Mr. Pockets. I'm a small time youtuber and a huge fan of both WoW and TF2. I've been playing both for YEARS, and adore everything that comes with it! Some funny facts about me: I am very bad at video games I can do voice impressions of both the Goblins in WoW as well as the Scout in TF2 (the only difference was Smokers Lung, after all) Beyond that, I'm just a dork who loves treating WoW as an extra D&D Night. I love the game and challenge, but also love the storytelling and fun with RP. Hit me up in game for some Battlegrounds, and I look forward to seeing everyone in BfA!
  27. 2 points
    Full Name: Lunk Lunk the Destroyer Nicknames: Lunk for short Birthday: 01 April, at least that's what he's told Age: Don't ask Race: Hobgoblin Gender: Mook Hair: Mook Skin: Mook Eyes: Mook Height/Weight: Mook Place of Residence: Razz's House Place of Birth: Don't ask Known Relatives: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Religion/Philosophy: Whatever Miss Razzy tells him Occupation: Miss Razzy's Bodyguard/Protector of her house Enemies: LONK Likes: Pretty ladies (particularly Ketani Addison), his shows, bun huggers/underoos, Miss. Razzy Dislikes: Lonk, when people are mean Favourite Weapon: Zappy Stick, itchy stichy (itching powder) Favourite Food: Floaty Sammich Hobbies: Watching his shows, picking pretty flowers, and helping Miss Razzy Positive Personality Traits: Unending positivity, always tries his best Negative Personality Traits: Has the intelligence of a hobgoblin Theme Song: Womp Womp, Wimp Wimp by Mook Quartet History: Lunk work hard for Miss Razzy, write journal telling all adventures! He try hard, do best job!
  28. 2 points
    Ninorra did not like running. The warlock was built for few things that involved physical exertion. Her limbs were short and thick, used to walking or riding more than running, and her robes were too cumbersome to make the effort easy. They flailed about her as she pumped her limbs, sweat glistening on her skin despite Everson’s temperate weather. How did it get to this? She had been walking with Steinburg, recently returned from his time in Undercity. He shared the story of what happened to him there, a tale both of sadness and woe that showed itself in the way he spoke and moved; the once cheerful Forsaken, who long ago learned to ‘live’ with his new existence by working with Sanctuary as their official banker and record keeper, had gone to the Undercity recently to help a budding new government created in the Dark Lady’s absence. He sent Ninorra letters, sometimes, sharing what happened. He seemed proud of the work he did, proud of the men and women he worked with. However only a day ago, Steinburg returned to her home in Eversong a shadow of his former self. The once tidy Forsaken wore the tattered robes of a prisoner, and his hair, once so carefully taken care of, lay in limp strands over his face. He explained to Ninorra the situation, that anyone showing dissent in Undercity were “disappearing”. He considered leaving many times, but it wasn’t until Catalinetta saw him that he realized the time for his departure had come. A portal to Silvermoon was all it took, something he considered fortunate. The elves of Quel’thalas would never allow Sylvanas’ dark rangers to follow him there. Would they? Ninorra assured him that no, the Sin’dorei were a proud people. Loyal to the Warchief of course, but, the Regent Lord Lor'themar Theron would never allow her to— “Going somewhere, are we?” a deep voice said from the shadows. It was not a familiar voice. The scratchy hollow echo was similar to Steinburg’s, but it did not share the warm quality that he spoke with, in spite of his sorrow. Turning toward the voice, Ninorra gripped the scythe in her right hand. It was a monstrous weapon, known for stealing the souls of her victims and recycling them. Today it had a dark red glow, matching the red and black robes she had decided on that morning. Her own red eyes cast a faint color across her face, which was strangely relaxed. Steinburg took a step back. “Who are you?” Ninorra asked calmly. “If my friend and I have traipsed on private property, we do apologize. My own home is not far from here.” Of course, she knew that this part of the Eversong Woods was public property, a jurisdiction of Quel’thalas and under Silvermoon’s protection. Hoof beats signaled an approaching rider, but what came forward were three faces Ninorra did not entirely recognize. Two male Forsaken and one female, who, she could see, was a master of the fel arts not unlike herself. “The Warchief has requested that we apprehend this employee of the Desolate Council,” said the lead rider, a sword at his hip. Each wore a tabard of black and white. Steinburg grabbed Ninorra’s arm. “Infection,” he whispered to her. “Go, Lady. They only want me.” Ninorra frowned at the idea. Steinburg was her friend, after all. He helped raised Damian, he cared for her home while she and Vicailde were gone, and he never asked for much in return. “I am afraid that will not be happening,” she said boldly, red eyes flashing a little brighter for a moment. “Mister Steinburg is under my protection.” The Forsaken sneered terribly. “And why should that matter?” “Because I am Lady Ninorra Bloodstone,” she answered flippantly. “And my friend has committed no crimes. Our people do not simply allow strangers to walk in our land and take our friends without a damn good reason.” “The reason is that our Warchief wills it,” the lead rider said without a smile, approaching them on his skeletal horse. “And what our Warchief wills shall be done. Now. Hand over that wretch or you will also find yourself in an unpleasant situation.” Ninorra frowned deeply, her dark lipstick covered mouth turned downwards. “You cannot command me on this land. This is Quel’thalas. Not Undercity.” “This is Horde territory,” he muttered, sliding off of the horse. Drawing his sword, the Forsaken approached Ninorra and pointed it in her direction. He didn’t seem to have the patience or the desire to argue with her. “All of it.” A sudden explosion behind the other two Forsaken startled Ninorra, who turned to look at Steinburg. He was not a great mage, but in a panic he managed to conjure a big enough fireball to startle the skeletal horses of his antagonists. The one with the sword turned to snarl at his companions, who nearly fell off of their mounts. Steinburg didn’t mince words. “Run!!” Grabbing her wrist, the Forsaken made for the trees. He was faster than she would have imagined, but his plan was flawed. How could they outrun riders? Obviously, she could not. “Steinburg, what are you—“ “I will make a portal!” He shouted, running into a copse of trees. “You have to hold them off!” Of course, now this was a plan that made sense. However, if he made a portal, where would it go? If Sylvanas truly had a strangle hold on all Horde territory, where could they escape? Allowing Steinburg to work with panicked hands, Ninorra turned toward their adversaries and immediately began casting curses. They would work well against Forsaken, whose flesh was already rotting and corrupt. Unfortunately, she could only cast one at a time, and with all three of them approaching, she had no time to summon a demon to aid her. “Hurry, Steinburg!” She shouted. The first blast hit her squarely in the gut, a chaos bolt that rattled and sent blazing pain throughout her limbs. She returned the favor with a fresh bout of agony, and followed it by draining the life from her target. Forsaken may have had rotting bodies, but leeching from their soul could heal her for a time, and she only needed enough time to— “Lady!” Steinburg was shouting, the portal was finished. Waving her over, she released the soul drain and ran toward Steinburg's creation. “Don’t look back, Ninorra,” the Forsaken said hurredly, grabbing her arm to shove her through the portal. It was then that another chaos bolt hit him in the back, sending him reeling to the ground. “Steinburg!” She shouted, slamming the butt of her scythe to the ground to cast corruption at each of these attackers, each of these creatures that would dare harm her friend. They each seemed, under their armor, to writhe a bit. But what were Forsaken if not accustomed to pain and the reality of their undeath? They would keep moving until there was nothing left. The warrior who spoke before closed the gap between himself and the elf, and without a moments hesitation plunged his blade into Ninorra’s abdomen. She could hardly believe that she had let this happen, and even as shock set in and her limbs froze, she thought to herself how very silly she had been. Is this how it ends? She asked herself, falling backwards through the portal. Instantly, she found herself somewhere dark and warm, lying on her back. Pain radiated from the wound in her belly, a throbbing numbness that ached with each beat of her heart. Her back was wet, her clothes slowly soaking. That she was bleeding to death was obvious, and whatever place she was in seemed like the perfect place for it. The sound of gentle flowing water was nearby, and the rustling of robes. She heard voices somewhere, deep and concerned. A second later, the portal closed. Where was Steinburg? She couldn’t make sense of it, this rush of events. It was too quick and too well executed. Three Forsaken against one elf, who, regardless of any importance she might have imagined for herself, could not defend her friend against them. What a failure. She pictured Qabian somewhere, laughing at her. Then the world went dark.
  29. 2 points
    Clank. Clank. Clank. Catalinetta walked through Undercity, the metal of her boots clanking against the stone floors of ancient Lordaeron. They felt almost unusually loud there, underground, where the Forsaken spoke in scratchy hushed tones and moved in slow, hunched over shambles. She didn't suppose that she was in a hurry, not at first anyhow. The death knight had gone to Undercity with a specific purpose; to find a ring. There were plenty to be had down there, crafted by some of the Forsaken's most talented jewelers, and she knew exactly where to go for what she wanted. Unfortunately, as she reached the edge of the Magic Quarter, certain to find the same bright-eyed Forsaken woman who used to craft her jewelry as a newly risen death knight, Catalinetta saw that she was no longer there. The death knight paused mid-stride, staring ahead at the now empty spot. Tilting her head to one side, she considered briefly that maybe her friend was simply taking a break. Or away, visiting friends in Brill. Without hesitating, she approached another nearby Forsaken who manned a stall selling inscriptions. "Excuse me, sir," she said in her high pitched, if not hollow voice. Cat's eyes glowed with the same eerie blue of her fellow death knights. It was not the dim yellow of the Forsaken, but they often found a kinship in their undeath. Today, however, that did not come as easily. "Death to the living," he said in greeting, his voice hoarse and gravelly. He seemed to have died in mid-life, just old enough to have sprouted a few gray hairs at his temples that hung in thick clumps about his gray face. A lack of flesh in his cheeks that exposed both jawbones gave him a permanently stern expression. "What do you want?" A corner of Cat's mouth twitched. "..yeah, uh... I was wondering if you'd seen Abby?" She asked, her dark gray ears perking a little. Though she was undead, the Sin'dorei's ears still worked as they did in life, reacting to her emotions with little twitches as much her eyebrows. "She was supposed to be here today, I thought. I wanted to buy some jewelry from her." The other vendor's face made no changes. Perhaps if he had been alive she might have seen some sort of change, something in his face to indicate his thoughts on the matter. As it was, he seemed far too corpse-like to emote as she did. "Gone. She won't be coming back." Cat's eyebrows rose, scrunching her forehead in concern. "Where did she go? Is she okay?? Did something happen to her?" Now the vendor's face changed, a slow and creeping grin that gradually pulled at the sagging flesh in his face enough to make his eyes squint like half-moons. "I do not know where she went, death knight," he answered, then frowned again as his face relaxed. Smiling, Cat imagined, must have taken quite a bit of effort on his part. "But I know that she will not be coming back." For a moment, she just stared at him. Admittedly, it had been a while since she'd returned to this place, where the Forsaken once welcomed the death knights to their new status as living dead. Certainly they were different, and there were plenty of Forsaken who were distrustful of Arthas' newer creations. However as time passed, most of the Forsaken grew to learn about the curse of the death knights, their eternal bond to the Lich King, and their inherent need to cause pain. The Forsaken were free, after all. The death knights, in spite of their great strength, would never truly be independent of their creator. Things were even, in a way. So why now did this Forsaken treat her like this, she wondered? Could he tell that there was something amiss? Could he somehow detect the Mogu blood magic that coursed through her black veins, creating the illusion of life even as it reanimated her? Was it a lack of decay? It didn't matter. He was being difficult, and that much was unnecessary. "Look, I don't know what your problem is," she started, pointing a gauntlet-covered finger at the bony creature. "But Abby is my friend. So if you know something, just tell me so I can go find her. Alright?" Again, the Forsaken smiled. It appeared to take less effort this time. "I can not tell you her fate, but your search ends here. Abigaille Lefaye is gone. You might as well leave this city too, death knight. You will not find what you are looking for, here." "But--" "Catalinetta?" Another voice from behind. It was scratchy, hollow and undoubtedly Forsaken, but it was also kind and familiar. She turned to see a man, hunched over but still taller than her. His short black hair, unlike most Forsaken, was usually well kept. Today however, it was matted and disheveled. His typically well cared for robes were frayed and dull, and the once jovial look on his gently rotted face had been replaced with one of terrible remorse. "..mister Steinberg?" Indeed he was. The former accountant of Sanctuary, stolen away by the Bloodstones to Silvermoon when their guild hall was burned to the ground by Garrosh Hellscream. Though he witnessed the death of so many other guild members, one of them his own adopted son, Steinberg carried on. He helped Ninorra raise Damian in her absence. He healed his broken heart by teaching the Sin'dorei boy to read and write, and one again was given another chance at life. In a way. "Yes miss D'Aragon," he said in a slightly pained voice, as if trying to keep the sorrow from slipping. Swallowing something down, his expression turned slightly harsh. "I heard you asking about Miss Lefaye. I'm afraid she's no longer with us. If you'll come with me, I'll show you where you can buy whatever it is you need." Cat's heart sunk at the change in voice. Steinburg had always been kind to her, to everyone. What happened to change him so drastically? Tearing herself away from the other vendor, she walked to her old friend and twisted her hands together. "Sorry if I caused trouble, I just wanted to know if she was okay. Is.. did something happen?" Steinburg lowered a pair of cold yellow eyes to his old friend, the once familiar smile completely gone. "Yes. Now come with me." Following him as the Forsaken shambled away, Cat's eyes were lowered to the moldy stone floor. She held in angry tears, tears she knew would invite too many questions, and vowed to let them out later for her friend. Steinburg led her from the Magic Quarter and walked her, quicker than she would have thought him capable of, toward the elevator. "Where are we going?" "Out," he said quickly, not bothering to look back. To any of the other Forsaken, they looked like a very angry man leading a very confused elf. Both dead, both unhappy, both completely ordinary in a place where nobody should ever be happy. His steps were so quick that Cat almost found herself tripping after him, but by the time they reached the ruins of Lordaeron and rushed past the throne room of its former king, she understood where he was leading her. "Steinburg wait," she said quickly, grabbing his shoulder. The Forsaken didn't slow. "Just keep walking," he said between clenched teeth, frayed robes fluttering around his bare skeletal feet. They clacked about almost as much as her boots, which worried her. Where had his shoes gone? "Steinburg, I--" The orb stood in front of them, a bright ball of red that would take them to Silvermoon. Steinburg grabbed Catalinetta's hand and moved it to the orb, but she wrenched it away. "Wait a second!" she shouted, wrenching her arm back. "What the hell is wrong with you?? I haven't seen you in months and suddenly you're here, and you look terrible, and everything is all weird and sad! What happened to you??" The yellow glow flickered in Steinbeug's eyes. For a moment, a hint of his old self came forward and he nearly smiled at the outburst. She had always been outspoken, even in death, and it had once made him smile. But it was only for a moment. "I am Forsaken," he said simply, the frown returning as he grabbed Catalinetta's arm and pulled her to him, whispering near her long ear. "Now go home. Where you belong." Still not understanding, Cat shook her head. She wanted to argue, to yell at him and get Steinburg to snap out of whatever spell he was under, but then she stopped. His face shifted, so close to hers. It wasn't angry. It was sad. He was trying to tell her something. Go home? She thought. But he doesn't know where I live, now.. She glanced at the orb. Silvermoon. It wasn't her home, per say. Not ever. But it was the home of the Sin'dorei, and she was starting to realize that's what he wanted for her. To go there. But why? "Fine," she grunted irritably. "I'll go back to Silvermoon. Maybe I'll find what I need there." "I'm sure you will," Steinburg muttered bitterly, watching as she grabbed the orb, her form fading from sight before his eyes. A few feet behind him, another hollow voice rung out. "Who was that?" Asked an almost silvery elven voice, though it retained the same echo as his own. Steinburg turned to regard one of the dark rangers, a beautiful elven woman who, even in death, moved soundlessly. "An old acquaintance," he muttered distastefully. "She has no place here." The dark ranger nodded, and glanced back toward the entrance to Undercity. "Good. You might want to get back to work, now. There is much to be done and not as many hands to do it." Steinburg nodded and turned back, resisting the urge to glance behind him at the orb. What point would there be in leaving? The Warchief's eyes were everywhere, and the long ears of the dark rangers heard everything. He would need to think fast. Thankfully, an accountant knew how to calculate all of his options quickly. He had a plan before he reached the bottom of the elevator.
  30. 2 points
    Journal Entry 2 It has been over a year since I have decided to write in this thing. How very sad! It is a pretty journal, and I have had such adventures. Imagine me, never even writing down any of them, even as I traveled to Argus and aided my friends against the Legion. How many things have occurred since I wrote this first entry? - I allowed Damian to train with Qabian. What a disaster! He learned a lot, certainly, but at some point Qabian's ego got the better of him and he put Damian in life threatening danger. Even he thought Damian was killed and in my rage I removed one of his limbs. Damian was, of course, fine. So we have all learned a valuable lesson. - With the help of my friends, I was able to obtain my soul and defeat the demon my mother made a deal with so long ago. I am now fully whole, though the idea is still strange and the curse of my eyes remains. What, if any changes this will make to my personality, are yet to be seen. - During the ceremony in which I retrieved my soul, my dear subordinate Corvallis, as well as Helnia, were lost to us. I miss them both dearly, but Damian took it the hardest. I believe he and Corvallis bonded quite a bit, and I have promised to try and find him. - The guild is moving. We will no longer have a place in Dalaran, but in Razor Hill, Shattrath, and Ashtotem. This makes very little difference to me, but I do enjoy Shattrath! It brings back a lot of happy memories from the war in Outland. Imagine, happy memories and war! - Still no word from my large friend who was hidden with us for some time. I imagine he is somewhere out in the world, making trouble. Always so serious, that one. I do miss him. - Since bonding with my little soul, my memories have been a bit jumbled. Everything is coming back to me, especially with reminders, but a few things remain fuzzy. I have the strangest feeling that I am forgetting something important, but so far nothing has been made clear. - I have had the strangest craving for sparkling white wine, lately. Not at home, of course. I will have to find someone to share a bottle with. Maybe brunch?
  31. 2 points
    By the time Vilmah returned to Wor’gol, it was past midnight. Most of the village was already asleep, and the moon cast a bright blue sheen over the snow covered ground that crunched as Edmund bounded through the snow. Attached to his back was a rudimentary sled slapped together with wood and rope, something Vilmah constructed to carry the corpse of her kill. She had strapped down the large she-wolf with yet more rope, but in the moonlight its fur appeared eerily blue, like a brightly colored creature from the jungles of Azeroth rather than a wolf on Draenor. As she approached the village, a few of their still awake warriors waved to her. She waved back and was soon met with Tuyya, who rode out to meet her with sleepy eyes on the back of her black wolf. “That was fast!” She said sarcastically. “I was hoping you wouldn’t need to spend all night out there. Did she hurt you?” Holding up her right arm, Vilmah let Tuyya see the hastily wrapped wound of her right arm. The purple sweater had been stashed in her saddle bag just a mile before reaching the village. “I hope one of your shaman is awake,” she said with a weary smile. “I got her worse than she got me, though. I don’t think she was very interested in living.” “Grief does that to people,” Tuyya agreed, turning her wolf to walk back beside Vilmah. “And animals too, strangely. You brought back the body, though? I would have thought you only needed the fur.” “Can’t let good meat go to waste,” Vilmah reasoned, shrugging. “Even if it’s just dog meat.” Tuyya grinned. “You’re learning quickly. When you first came to us you would have eaten the meat raw on your own, like some crazed animal.” Vilmah’s lip twitched as she lowered her eyes to the snow. “When you first met me I was still very much a crazed animal,” the smaller orc explained, embarrassed. “I’m not exactly proud of that.” “There aren’t many of us who are proud of ourselves at our lowest point. It brought you to us, though, didn’t it?” “War brought me to you,” Vilmah argued gently. “..but I think my grief is what made me stay. And the fact that you all didn’t just kick me out. I’m sure I didn’t make for an impressive prospective new clan member.” “You think we love everyone in the clan?” Tuyya laughed. “Your blood ties you to us, regardless of whatever it is that took you away to begin with. You told me that your mother was one of us. That’s enough for us to give you a chance, and you earned your place.” An uncomfortable silence followed Tuyya’s words, as if Vilmah wanted to agree but couldn’t bring herself to. In truth, she was having trouble not telling Tuyya that she was Vilmah’s mother, and if the portal to Azeroth hadn’t been opened, if Tuyya’s thirst for adventure hadn’t brought her to the arms of a Blackrock orc, Vilmah never would have existed to begin with. “Thanks Tuyya,” she said gratefully, smiling a little in spite of the conversation. “Thanks for being my friend.” “Don’t get all dramatic,” Tuyya chuckled. “I just hate seeing the little guy get stepped on. Or in your case, the little girl. And you looked so sad, like a kicked puppy. Who would kick a puppy? Don’t worry, guura kad dok mara. You’re one of us, now. That means you’ll never really be alone again,” she said reassuringly, punching Vilmah in the left shoulder. “..for better or worse.” "Sounds like quite the commitment," Vilmah said sarcastically, smirking. Tuyya rolled her eyes. "Believe me, it can be a pain in the ass. Any time I even suggest leaving for a long hunt, my family comes up with some reason to make me stay. Commitments, the need to find a mate, it's like they've forgotten what it's like to explore past the forest sometimes. Makes me want to get my hands dirty somewhere new." Vilmah bit the inside of her cheek. It was that wanderlust that caused the Tuyya that she knew to leave through the portal in the first place, and die starving in a cage. "They have a point. I mean.. you have everything you need here, don't you? People love you, here." "I don't disagree with that, but there's more to life than being loved," the orcess argued. "There's adventure, and you can't get that here. Not anymore, anyway. I treasure my clan, but there's more out there than this place. I want to see it." A feeling of dread overcame Vilmah's stomach, like she'd swallowed a mouthful of bees. Tuyya wasn't the type to let anyone hold her back, and she would eventually leave, even if it meant leaving everything behind. The idea of losing her for a second time, this person who, in another lifetime, gave her life for Vilmah's, made the Warboss pale with fear. "..you could come with me," she found herself saying. "Come to Azeroth, help me with Sanctuary. There's a few Frostwolves in Razor Hill, I'm sure you'll feel right at home. Even if it's in a desert.." Tuyya's eyes widened. "Really? You want me to come with you?" In truth, Vilmah would have preferred that this version of her mother stayed in Draenor, pure in her own way, and untouched by Azeroth's brutality. Knowing that it wasn't in her nature to stay in one place, however, the Warboss nodded quickly. "Yeah, of course. It'd be nice having you there. Plus, plenty of orcs in Azeroth," she joked, smiling a little more. "If your family is worried about you finding a mate." "Can you imagine if I were to bring home one of your green friends??" The orcess laughed, bouncing on her wolf. "Oh they would have an absolute fit! Yes, let's do it! I'll go with you to Azeroth and help your Sanctuary! Right after we clean your blue wolf, of course. You can bring home a wolf pelt and a Frostwolf!" Smiling at her excitement, Vilmah nodded in agreement. Whether or not this was for the best, she couldn't say, but at the very least she'd be able to keep an eye on Tuyya.
  32. 2 points
    5.28.18 I haven’t seen Shaelie since that day. I haven’t seen anyone from Sanctuary since then. It’s been a quiet few weeks, other than continuing to clean up the remaining Legion forces in Antorus. I did catch sight of a human woman who matches the description of the woman who killed my messenger in Tirisfal. She also matches the description of a killer responsible for some other murders in the area over the past couple years. I saw her in Dalaran, and guards were nearby, so there wasn’t much I could do other than talk to her. She lied to me about her name, but someone else called her “Bronnie.” I will see if I can find someone with contacts in Stormwind to get more information. The Magister continues to baffle me. After suggesting the Commander would hurt me badly for having an Alliance boyfriend, he gave me a gift. Why he thinks I would ever have a boyfriend at all, let alone an Alliance one, is beyond me, but the gift was very interesting. A vase with a contraption inside it that would release whatever was in it—poison, sleeping agents, whatever—when someone got close enough to smell the flowers in it. I usually don’t like traps where I can’t control exactly who the target is, but it may come in handy someday. I have to take the potions more often. I know Tahz doesn’t want me to release it, but I can’t let it weaken me anymore. Eastvale is far enough from any Horde lands, and it won’t be the first time they’ve dealt with something like this there. I’ll take it there. Soon. We have one active Supplicant right now, but she is enough trouble to be three usual Supplicants. Umbral continues to keep digging herself deeper into a hole. Even the Commander has noticed it, and spoke to Qabian and me about her. The last time the Grim leader spoke to me about an unruly Supplicant was Cessily. Other than general lack of proper respect for the higher ranks of The Grim, even Awatu himself, she has called me a waitress, and now she’s bitten off a chunk of someone’s ear. Normally, I wouldn’t have a problem with that, but when it’s a friend, and further a friend of a very good friend, then it’s a problem. I still haven’t decided how much to protect her from any retaliation. Maybe she deserves what she gets. And the waitress comment, I’m sure she doesn’t realize the meaning behind it. How could she? She’s not smart enough to have done any research, and she doesn’t have the contacts to have had that information handed to her. No, it was just a rude comment, from a Supplicant to an Inquisitor, and that alone is enough to cost her an ear. Luckily for her, she seems to have become more competent in her skill at killing. She’s provided me with many Alliance tabards in her search for the ones I sent her for. That isn’t enough to excuse her behavior though. After all, Cessily was a powerful killer too, and that didn’t save her ears.
  33. 2 points
    It's been a long time but another food experiment has happened! This time with wild-gathered Black Locust tree blossoms. While visiting Syreena, we found and decided to try these tasty little flowers from her property. Much thanks to SySy for being adventurous and allowing use of her kitchen. <3 We used this recipe (with some substitutions for the evil, evil dairy): http://southernforager.blogspot.com/2013/05/black-locust-blossom-fritters-yummmmm.html The results were quite tasty, like eating funnel cake! Next time, I believe I will go lighter on the dredging of the flowers in the batter, so the flowers can be tasted. <.< >.> Flowers being dredged: Frying the Flowers: Finished Black Locust flower funnel cake: All of them got eaten by the three adults, flower fritters defeated! These trees are flowering all over the place right now, or are soon about to in more northern areas. They're a native, plentiful tree so if you watch for them to bloom, you'll be swimming in tasty treats! Mmmmm.
  34. 2 points
    Mmhmhmhm... Ahahahahahaha! I win. Oh, how I win. Nothing I can take back to the Grim, of course, but mine is a dangerous ego to stroke, hm? Taunt me with something you think I can't do that I know I can. 'Oh, no,' I'll admit. 'I could never do that. I'm simply no good at it. It's just not me.' A little vulnerability, not even mock vulnerability, very real, but a wager in a bet I cannot lose, a little honesty, and just enough arrogance that who I am is never forgotten so I cannot be blamed for any deception. And fuck you. I win. Truth and lies, truth and lies. That's what chaos is made of, yes? And what am I if not chaos? Is it true? Of course it is. Was it lies? Of course it was. Reality is never either or. It's always both. Little human with broken eyes he needs to hide thinks he's being generous, offering me a chance to put him in his place. You don't need to make the offer, boy. You're already there. Why would you admit that secret of all secrets in front of me? And I'm sure my secret only made you feel worse, hm? You're not special. You're not even different. You're just a broken, defiled version of the real people all around you. Enjoy your misery. I certainly enjoyed giving it to you. What an odd defect in me to harp on when it was caused by someone you claim as a friend. When what I have done with what I have lost is something greater than I could have done had I kept what I had, am I really even defective? Or have I improved? That's what we're all here for, to get better. I've gotten better. Have you? When you will never feel equal to the people around you because you never can be their equal? You can steal their faces, their friendship, their power as much as you want, but you will always be a pretender, and you will always have to hide your shame, because the day you accept yourself and live as you are is the day you'll die for it. I have no shame. I wonder how long I can play the lost bet excuse. We certainly gamble, but even though my win rate is expectedly even with my losses, what I ask for is always for my own greed. What she asks for is always my debasement, not enough to spark my anger or make me second guess, but enough to keep her laughing. I should have caught on to this sooner, especially after her little gift to Syreena. I think I did? And decided the price was worth it, and even a little entertaining for myself. The masochistic tendencies extending beyond physical pain, perhaps. I like it when she laughs, even if it's at my expense, and it's almost always at my expense. Explains too much. I shouldn't think about it too hard. The wolf's advice is good. I'm always uncertain about plans that require biding, infiltration, masks of sweetness. I can do them to a point. I have my networks and systems that I use to pull on threads hoping they'll bring down the tapestries. But such things are distasteful when chaos will suffice. Yes, I understand the idea behind a little order serving to bring a lot of chaos, but such games are difficult to play and rarely end well. When they do end well, they end very, very well, but the risk tends to be on our side, not on theirs. Still, leading them patiently to their own failure is clearly our best option in the present, regardless of whether the pendulum swings in the way they seem so certain it will. The violet commander's marital issues have caused a strange sea change. I, for one, don't think that little shift is enough to warrant the sudden acceptance of things as they are. They aren't different enough. I've only met the little warboss once? But I certainly have no faith that she's any sweeter. I blame the turning of the winds with the defeat of the Legion. Everything looks just slightly different, even when it isn't really. Old hurts have been fogged over just enough by time to be put aside long enough for coffee and brunch. And I'm able to hear things I should never hear, share things that should never have been mine to share. I can sit quietly and let them berate me as much as they wish, speaking only when spoken to, offering only the gentlest of contributions, and still come across as cruel and strange. It's quite enjoyable, really. I've had far too much enjoyment lately. It's going to my head. But given what led me to be so entertained in the first place, I'll take it.
  35. 2 points
    05.02.18 I used to say Sanctuary had tea parties with the Alliance. Yesterday, I had coffee with one of the purple people. That short-eared elf, who is half human and a mage and Sanctuary—everything I hate—so why didn’t I feel the urge to stab him repeatedly? Maybe because he didn’t act like any of those things. I learned that the leadership has changed among the purple people. Julilee, Kex’ti, and Shokkra are all gone from there now. Just Cerryan left, and though I hate him for what he did to me, what his actions turned me into, I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same in his position. Maybe it’s time for my war with them to end for good. The Grim and Sanctuary worked alongside each other once, a long time ago, when Vilmah was in charge. Maybe that is an option again if we are in need of more bodies for an assault someday. I doubt Vilmah would talk with me though. I could send a Supplicant if necessary, or better yet, maybe I’ll just stay in contact with the short-eared elf. He’s easy to talk to. I wonder if there’s something with mixing elf blood with another bad blood, that makes the two bads cancel each other out. Baal has demon blood in him, thanks to the Grim warlocks, and he’s nice. And Mard has human in him, and he seems nice….so far. There’s no question that demons, humans, and elves are all vile and cruel, but maybe mixing two bad races together somehow makes something good. I also learned that Shaelie has joined Sanctuary. I wasn’t planning to attack her. I really wasn’t. We used to pick on the purple people together in Warspear, we tortured that human Ambassador lady together. Shaelie always had my back. For a long time, I thought she was a decent person….for an elf….a friend even. But when I saw her in the Wyvern’s Tail yesterday, she didn’t seem to care about any of that. She actually said she thought it was totally justified that they attacked us at Aerie Peak, and Grim should stay in their own yard and not bother Alliance. I don’t know what the fel happened to the Shaelie I knew, but this one is a traitor to the Horde, as far as I’m concerned. But she is human after all, so I shouldn’t be surprised.
  36. 2 points
    A taste of what the Loa's gift could do spoke volumes for the effect it would have on its intended target. It refused to be treated, even showing a tenacity that hinted at intelligence as it would strike as one disease, retreat, and return in a new form. His fever ran high for hours, sheeting his form in sweat and chilling him to the bone. Then, the pain left him as if the sickness had simply given up its struggle, leaving him stunned with sheer relief. It gave him just enough time to nurture a brief hope that it was over, only to crush it within an hour. It returned in a new form and plagued his body and mind with a new kind of torture. Night and day lost meaning as he cycled through a list of symptoms seemingly at random. Tormented reality gave way to fever dreams when his body, taxed to its limits and in desperate need of recovery, succumbed to exhaustion. He stood before a river of sludge with a stench that was thick enough to taste. It had an odor that clung to his saliva and made him gag and heave for all the good it did. It reminded him of Venture company operations, but even they had not managed to produce such disgusting runoff. Lengths of cloth stuck to the top of the putrid river but he could not make out the details of them as his eyes swung hazily in and out of focus. When the world resolved itself, he was able to make out the gold and purple thread of one tabard and the matching designs on the others that stuck to the surface of the thick river behind it. The foul river slowly pushed itself along the earth, carrying over a dozen of the Phoenix marked tabards. He felt a moment of Grim pleasure that was quickly chased away by confusion as he saw the growing number of tabards stuck to the disease-ridden sludge. It would have helped him sleep at night to see the head of the self-important group of traitors along with several other vile hypocrites who followed her. But the number of discarded tabards wa far too high for his plan. In each of the tabards he caught a glimpse of their owner. A shudder of rage turned into a quiver of sadistic satisfaction as the first two passed him. Julilee had lectured him about the importance of preserving life, something she accused Lilliana of having no sense of after her betrayal. When he had dismissed her words and told her that she had attacked a pregnant woman, he had not detected a hint of remorse, in fact, he had seen annoyance that he was still pursuing the conversation. The effect her actions had on him were unimportant, she did not care. He bore his teeth in an unkind grin as she was sucked below the surface, buried in the same substance that she was filled with. She was followed by more of them. Syreena's now scarred tormentor smirked cruelly and looked down his nose at him before being swallowed by the river. Shokkra sneered and screamed soundlessly in pointless rage as she was sucked down and drowned. A feeling of grim vindication grew as he saw more of them disappear. The faces kept coming. Vilmah's embarrassed smile was smothered, Mardallius laughed quietly before being covered, Kexti's arrogant smirk was slowly saturated before being coated completely, Siane's warm smile went cold, and the sad expression of the one-eyed troll disappeared quietly beneath the surface. More people passed by him, faces he associated with the tabard but had never spoken to, people he bore no ill will towards save for their association. All were consumed by the muck and disease. The last of the articles to disappear was not a tabard, but a pair of manacles and a stained apron. His own face stared back at him as the manacles clasped around his wrists and the chain leading him began tugging downwards. " It'll fix errytin'." He assured himself as the odious sludge reached up to his chest. He had no reply for his own deluded statement. " She'll love us again!" The imprisoned man cried out at him as it reached up to his neck, desperate to justify his own actions, just like the ones he would be joining. He wanted to scream at the fool of a bartender but could only manage another choked noise as he sank below the muck. The river soon became choked with more discarded items. Shoes, shirts, dresses, trade equipment, swords and more bunched together so thickly he could barely make out the sludge that transported them until they disappeared beneath its surface. Once again, he saw faces, yet they were indistinct and unfocused. There were hundreds of them, perhaps even thousands. Countless faces flickered in front of him as the crowd of plague-ridden people passed by and disappeared. This had been his agreement. A virulent disease to consume his enemy in the worst way possible, but it could not be controlled once released. How many in Sanctuary would be killed in his hope to slay a handful? The price of it left a frozen lump in his stomach, he wanted one person dead, but he could not control the spread once it was released. The reward for this indiscriminate death dealing clasped him on the shoulder and gave him a warm, yet false smile. The Farraki was pleased with him, excited even at the blow dealt to a hated enemy. With one hand she grasped his and gave him an insistent tug to turn his back on the foul carnage wrought, with the other she held a bloody blob of disfigured fat and flesh that defied identification; a mutated freak even in the eyes of parasites and maggots. She spoke words of love and approval that spilled out as a black, oily sludge between her teeth and dribbled down her chin over her body and their son. The letter of her message he had longed to hear, but the soul of it was absent. He doubled over as an overpowering sense of nausea and joy forced its way through him. His veins bulged and threatened to burst as the sickness of body and mind invaded him. He enjoyed it, he was sick and twisted mess of a pretty troll, and he loved it. He toppled forward and sank into the cold, slimy mud by the foul river. The earth consumed the last ray of light and all sense of self disappeared with it.
  37. 2 points
    I'm sitting in the grass right now. Between the ridge of two hills, overlooking a farm. There's a cow in the pasture, chewing some grass. The lights are on in the farmhouse, shining through the windows, and I can smell them cooking dinner. There are crickets chirping, and an owl hooting up in the tree above me, somewhere. I used to live here. Not there, in that particular house. Micael did, though. Nearby. I've been thinking about Micael a lot lately. I'm not sure why.. But I'll be honest when I say I miss him and Mack, a hell of a lot. I think my time away got me thinking about a lot of things. And tonight really magnified that. I stopped in the Wyverns Tail. And Jon Ableham was there. I couldn't believe it. He wasn't the Jon I miss so much, though. Just the bad version of himself. He didn't know it was me, of course.. After I got over my shock of seeing him, I talked to him a bit and he said some things that confused me, and some things that sparked some memories that I couldn't quite dredge up. He mentioned Venedict being his nephew. That blew my mind. Did I know that before? Something about 'nephew' sounded familiar. But if Venedict was his nephew.. how the HELL did he end up being his ghoul? And so I came here, for answers. To Stormwind. Where this whole journey with Venedict, Jon and Micael began. In the graveyard.. I remember something about a tombstone. So I found them tonight. Christine, Venedict, Alex and David Abner.. being here did help me remember some things. But I still couldn't recall the connection between Venedict and Jon. I sort of remember Jon being here, but he was afraid of Venedict. Anyway, my thoughts are all over the place tonight. That's just part of what's on my mind. Being here, just behind the gates of Stormwind. I'm homesick. I miss being me. I miss being Nika. I remember how I used to help people. Not always.. I got into a lot of fights, even before I started doing the really horrible things. But I miss how life used to be. Before The Grim, and before my life changed. And before I ruined other people's lives, and destroyed families. My biggest regret in life is something that will always haunt me. It's what I did in Theramore... when I poisoned all those soldiers. I wish I could rip that day out of my life, and out of my memories. All those families and kids that no longer have fathers because of me. Fathers that didn't even get to die honorably, in battle. They didn't even get a chance to make a difference, or to be heroes. They were meant to die doing courageous things, making a difference in the world. Stories would be written about the battles they fought, and how they sacrificed their lives to make life safer for the people they cared about. But instead, they ate poisoned bread and choked to death. For nothing. That wasn't supposed to be their legacy. Hardly anyone knows about that. It's the thing I'm most ashamed of. I wonder about those families now. Whatever became of them? I feel like that's what I'm supposed to do, now. Help people. Make a difference, somehow. I don't want to fight anymore. I don't want to kill people. I can't change or take back every person that I hurt or killed. But maybe I can change something for other people, going forward. It's funny.. as I was sitting here behind Stormwind, thinking about all of this. At first I was wishing I could go back. But that wouldn't help anything, either. So I was wishing that I could somehow help people on both sides. Not just one or the other. And I was wishing there was some guild that was neutral, and that does help people on both sides. And then I remembered that there is.. Sanctuary. That's hard to wrap my head around, as much as I hated and fought against them in the past.. but that was also when I was consumed by The Grim.. and the most important thing to me was to prove myself to them. But time has passed. And you know what? I already did. And I don't care anymore. I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet. I'm not sure if Borrowed Time and Sanctuary are on good terms, or bad. I'm not sure if I want to stay with Borrowed Time but also help Sanctuary. if they'd even have me. Which is a stretch. A big one.
  38. 2 points
    It's been a long time since I picked this journal up. I had forgotten about it, actually. It's barely even been used. Too bad I don't have my old journals, anymore... That's what's been on my mind a lot, lately. The past.. I guess it's sort of what brought me back. I had considered myself retired for what.. a couple of years now? Has it been that long? According to this journal, it has been. I traveled for awhile. Sometimes I just pick a direction and keep going until I find a spot that feels right. This time, it was an abandoned fishing shack in a bayou. It was run down and the boards were warped from moisture, and it had an entire colony of critters living inside. But as soon as I saw it, I knew it was home. At least for awhile. I fixed it up a little, and spent my days exploring the area, or fishing. Or sometimes just sitting on a rocking chair on the front porch, listening to nature. It was nice for awhile. I took a picture of it before I left. Maybe someday I'll find it again. But now I'm back. And I'm not entirely sure what the plan is. But like I said, a lot of things from the past have been on my mind, and I feel like there are some things I need to do. A lot of things I need to figure out how to fix, or make up for. Not sure how that's going to pan out, just yet...
  39. 2 points
    " Syreena be a sad story if jah stop screamin' about all de bad she's done. Ah ain't a Grim... Ain't got a desire ta do what she does an' a lotta people say jah eithah gotta be Grim or like de Grim fah her tah warm up. But she likes me, why?" He puts the rag he had been wiping the bar with down and sighs " Because ah treated her like a person. Do dat, an she gonna return jah kindness ten fold. If jah be an elf it be a lot hardah but she got her scars an' trauma same as errybody else. Ah see de trust she puts in me as a sign a what she coulda been. She be hated an' feared because she WAS hated an' feared since she came back. If someone had just been kindah ta her when she first rose would she be as sadistic an' horrible as people say? Makes me tink. Ain't excusin' what she's done, ah undahstand where de path she walkin' on leads. She gonna be how she be until de day her unlife runs out. Be a shame though, because fah all her faults, Syreena be a bettah friend den jah deserve once she decides ta trust jah."
  40. 2 points
    I wasn't certain, not at all. It was entirely my paranoia, and I know it. I was paranoid as soon as I heard that Vyalis took my advice to heart a little stronger than I might have hoped. So to send out a warning only to have that warning become useful? How could I not make the leap? But if she were innocent, her initial reaction should have been outrage, rather than suspicion. Even then, though her initial reaction was convincing, it was not enough to make me certain. What made me certain was her saying she didn't know where the money went. If she were innocent, she would have signed that paper herself. If she were innocent, she would have taken the gold in coin rather than paper. Now I can accuse her of anything, provided it's not something she can easily disprove herself, and even without proof of my own, I have the upper hand. The only question remaining is how long to play the new game. And when I do put an end to it, I think my message will be quite clear. Don't fuck with me. I imagine she thinks she could turn me in for my financial games, but those are both false and warranted in ways her intentions to hurt me are not. Amusing that she didn't understand how our relationship worked, given the nature of the correspondence she stole from me. I'm sure his name was mentioned several times. I could easily have brought him to the Grim instead, if he weren't so obsessed with Suramar and its well-being as a nation-state. She's one of the ones who always thought I was better because I am not like the rest of them. Really? Do you not remember why I left? How I left? How long have you held onto that mythology? Maybe they will finally lose the lie. I doubt it, though. You act cold enough long enough, and people will forget what they already know about you. The only way I am different than the rest of my people is that I am superior. I am just as arrogant, but I am more arrogant and my arrogance is of higher quality. I am just as deviant, only more so, and again, higher quality. I don't feel the need to shout it in the streets the way the less self-assured do. I don't feel the need to appraise everyone who walks past as Malkaris does. But on my own time, behind closed doors, with a touch of common sense? I am exactly what they are. The only difference between them and me is I am not cheap. So if being "elfy" as she would say is a crime, and I am not different, only greater, then I should get the harshest sentence, hm? She would say Kiannis was different, but catch him when he thinks no one's looking and he's behind the shrubbery in Dalaran with his hand up someone's dress, too. We are none of us different. We are all of us exactly the same. I am merely better at it.
  41. 1 point
    "Relax," the orc said. She gave the bartender a nod, who moved away to go help other customers. "I'm not going to hurt you." "Who are you?" Xara said. "What have you done?" The orc glanced around, then set down the mug she was carrying and turned to Xara. She gave a flick of her hand at the door Xara stood in front of. "Let's go outside to talk." Room to maneuver was Xara's friend in combat, and innocent bystanders were not, so Xara nodded warily and withdrew from the tavern. Outside, the city street of Orgrimmar was dirt-packed and solid beneath her feet, reassuring. She kept the orc in sight as she followed. Lupa stayed at Xara's side, gliding smoothly, her gaze also never leaving the orc. "Where's the glowing blue dog?" the orc asked as she came to a stop opposite Xara in the street. Her posture was relaxed. "None of your business," Xara said tersely. "Who are you?" The orc looked at Xara measuringly. Her expression, the way she held her head... She was just so damn familiar, it was like Xara did know her, though she was sure she didn't. There was no analogy for it. "You know who I am." "Show me your hands," Xara demanded. The orc raised her eyebrows, but lifted her hands. Without needing to be asked, she took off both gloves and showed Xara the backs. Both were unmarked. "What the fuck," Xara said again, this time adding, "are you." The orc grinned, almost a smirk, a fang flashing between her lips. She tucked her gloves into her belt and shrugged, folding her arms. "No one important to you anymore. How about that." Xara wasn't normally given to hyperbole, but she felt like she might shoot this orc after all if she didn't get a real answer in the next ten seconds. "Who the fuck are you." The orc sighed. "Daçiana. My name is Daçiana. But you knew me as..." "Accalia," Xara said.
  42. 1 point
    Her feet took her back down the tiers. Conscious thought had little to do with it, as she had no plan, no idea for where to go from here. She would get a letter to Rylie; even with the new conflict, Juli knew there were some on the other faction who would help. But past that, her future was a complete blank. It was a state she had never before in her life found herself. So she wandered through the Zandalari city of which she didn't even know the name. The crowds took her in without a second glance. She was just another Sin'dorei soldier here for the war effort. Without the distinctive, famous tabard, her appearance attracted no attention at all. The only thing that did was when she accidentally brushed by someone too closely. They looked at her with a bit of startlement when they felt the aura. Far more active than that of most Light-wielders, it rose off her with a heat anyone standing close enough could feel. Constantly burning, it could not be quenched. Finally she stopped at the edge of the dock area. Down in the water swam schools of bright fish, and slower, larger ones alone. A couple people stood fishing for them nearby, conversing with one another. Juli didn't pay them any attention and them her any either. Instead, she focused her thoughts on figuring out what she was supposed to do next. It felt like a monumental effort, but eventually, the answer arose within her, the remnants of whatever soul or morals she'd once had. Survive, and do as little harm as possible. She inhaled and exhaled slowly as the bare, cynical truth of it settled over her, and she began to apply it with a cold and calculating eye to her life. While she had few responsibilities now, there were still some things where she had to ensure that her inaction did no harm. The moment she decided was the moment the voice next to her registered. "Aye... inna way... Peaceful b--" "Cobrak?" Juli said before she realized what she was doing. The orc, fishing with a companion Juli also recognized, turned swiftly at the sound of her voice. His one good eye widened as he took her in, reconciling the voice with her appearance, and the pipe in his mouth began to droop. "Hey," she said, for lack of any better ideas. Cobrak continued to stare as the pipe fell out of his mouth to land in the water below with an unnoticed splash. Behind him, Megeda said, "Greetings." Juli gave him a nod and looked back at Cobrak, who was still staring at her in disbelief. "I'm not a ghost, by the way," she said, since he looked like he was seeing one. Megeda tilted his head, seeming to suddenly realize something, as Cobrak let out a strangled laugh, then began to smile, weakly. "Fuckin' shite..." the orc finally managed. "Commander Liene... You look different," Megeda stated. Cobrak set aside his fishing pole, rose to his feet, and swiftly closed the distance between them. Then, he poked her with one finger. She just looked at him. "...'Ah ta see. Bout tha ghost part," he said. Without further ado, he folded her arms around her in a hug, one hand patting her back. It was the first time anyone had touched her in over six months, and it felt like something that was happening to something else. Juli just stood there, not returning the hug, until he released her. He didn't seem to notice her reticence, or the aura. "Shittin' 'ell, Liene!" he laughed again in disbelief. "I'm sorry for my absence," she said evenly. "I hope it hasn't caused any problems." "Tha fuck 'appened? We spent long as 'ell lookin' fer ya... e'en tha Earthen didnae..." Cobrak tweaked his head a little then, finally sensing something was amiss. "...Ya... alright?" The glass wall was here, too. She and Cobrak had achieved a level of respect with each other over the years, especially after he took charge of Borrowed Time. They had disagreed vociferously over many a subject, but still always recognized they both wanted the best for their people, and had each others' backs without exception. Or so she had thought until she'd heard what he'd done shortly before her mission to Silithus. Then there was the whole staring into the void thing that had stripped all pretension from everything anyway. It was all really moot. She couldn't connect to anyone anymore, if she ever really had. But she couldn't say all that, so instead she said, "I'm... just getting used to things again. I was trapped below Silithus with nothing but the void for company for most of this time." Cobrak's eye widened as he looked her over again. Like Kex'ti, he had a special loathing for all things Void and clearly couldn't help the fear that sprang to mind. "Oi. Ya... ya didnae..." "Yet you do not carry its taint," Megeda said with surety. The Light he himself wielded could doubtlessly discern as much. "No, far from it," Juli said in response to both of them. She held out a hand, curling it into a fist. With a moment's focus, a burst of Light showered outward. Cobrak let loose a breath, blinking. "Woah. That didnae 'appen fore." "So one set of rumors was exaggerated. The other was true?" Megeda inquired. "You'll have to be more specific," Juli said, lowering her hand. "We all thought ya wuz dead," Cobrak said. "One was that you disappeared in Silithus, presumed dead," Megeda agreed. "The other was that you were a paladin." "The irony isn't lost on me," she replied. With how much of her life she had spent denying her potential, all because of... well, it didn't matter anymore. It was either the Light or the Void, and she had chosen. Cobrak was shaking his head, still in disbelief to a degree. "I've been bribin' them boys in Silithus ta dig deeper after whar... we found... jus'.... nuthin' o' ya. Jus' yer shield..." "You found my shield?" Juli said. Once, it had felt like an extension of her body, but now the idea of getting it back felt... wrong. She had come to rely more on Mercy than she ever had on her shield. Cobrak grunted. "Aye. Wuz gonna put it on tha statue we commissioned..." A snorted chuckle. "Ya cost me a few dozen gold pieces now that that things goin' ta waste..." "...A statue?" "Aye," Cobrak said again. "Likka all our friends who parted this world... sumthin' we kin remember." "...Well, thank you for the sentiment," Juli said after a moment. She didn't ask about the shield. Cobrak snorted in good humor. "Shut it, good ta know yer alive. Lost too many friends already, but always good ta see one still kickin'." Friends. He thought they were still friends. "How fares Borrowed Time?" she asked instead of responding, including Megeda in the question. He had been regarding her with his lips tightly pressed together, unlike Cobrak unwilling to overlook her changed demeanor. Still, he was the one who responded. "Unsieged... For now," the tauren stated. "A welcome change," she said. Cobrak looked back at Megeda. "Well, things be..." He hummed, looking for the right word. "Even for the moment. Nothin' too upsettin' or well..." "A lot of things have happened while I was gone," Juli said. "There is division over how the conflict is to be handled," Megeda said. "Some have joined our ranks, others have left..." The three chatted for a minute longer about current events. Eventually Juli said, "I haven't reported myself alive to the Horde chain of command yet. I'm... not sure I want to get involved." "Thar's always room in tha Champions," Cobrak suggested. "They're workin' on 'ealin' Azeroth more than fightin'... I been sendin' mosta tha Azerite we recover from tha Allys ta them anyway." "Chieftain..." Megeda said, "she just got BACK from Silithus." "Champs work outta a lotta places," Cobrak argued. "Azerite's poppin' up er'rywhar. But..." He looked at Juli. "Yer always welcome at tha Port. Iffin ya need a place ta find yer 'ead an' think bout things wiffout worryin' bout a roof o'er yer head." "Thank you, I appreciate that," Juli said politely, with no intention whatsoever of taking up the offer. Megeda looked between the two. "So we are to forget the treachery then?" he said. "S'in tha past, Meg..." Cobrak grunted awkwardly. "I'm surprised you looked for me, honestly," Juli said. It seemed just barely worth saying. "I thought you'd chosen different priorities." Cobrak looked at her. "Ya think me priorities e'er shifted from me friends?" "It seemed that way when you chose to attack and nearly kill Allycia, who was under my protection, who I specifically asked you not to harm." Megeda was silent as he watched them finally speak of the matter that hung between them. Perhaps he thought that once they had it out, Juli would thaw, and start acting more like her former self. He didn't know that nothing would ever bring the old Juli back. "I kill void elves, thass fer sure," Cobrak said. "An' that willnae change one bit, wut I will say I didnae try ta kill that'un. Shapeshifter under tha employ o' tha Raven. Wanted you gunnin' fer me." Juli blinked once. Cobrak wouldn't lie. If he had been bold enough to attack Allycia, he would have looked her in the eye and told her so. Still, after a moment, Juli realized that this, like everything else, didn't matter. Though it had not then, if it ever did come down to it, Cobrak would do what he needed to. He was not really her friend. And she was not his if she could not accept that. "Well, I appreciate your efforts in looking for me," she said after a protracted pause. Cobrak looked like he was about to say something, but stopped himself, then said something else. "...Bah. Any case, yer back an' thass wut matters." He looked off to the sea. Maybe he was looking for a reason to believe that as the strain on the conversation grew too great. "I should be going," Juli said, then, politely, "It was nice catching up with you both." Cobrak reached into his pocket and produced something, which he handed over to her. "Here," he said. She took it and looked up at him. "It's ta me cabin in tha port. Ya ever need help, go thar an' stay as ya like." His words were a little strained, but he was determined to uphold this fallacy. He wanted to believe they were friends, that the camaraderie they had shared could be restored. He didn't see the truth of it like she did. Megeda was still watching her. Juli said, still politely, "Thank you." "Stay safe, Juli," Cobrak said. "Tha world's gotten only more dangerous." "Safe Journey, Liene... Azeroth needs all the help it can get," Megeda said. She gave her most honest reply yet in parting. "Safety is an illusion. Don't stay safe. Stay strong." She left. Once she was out of sight, she destroyed the hearthstone with a surge of Light and tossed the ruined rock in the water. [[ Written in conjunction with Cobrak and Tahzani. ]]
  43. 1 point
    Down, deep within the sprawl of the Seal's halls, she found the banner the woman had described. An eager-eyed orc stood beside it, dressed in black chainmail with red accents. He addressed her the moment she was in range, before it was even reasonable to assume that his hall was her destination. "Throm-ka, paladin! The Reach could always use more of your kind. Have you come to enlist, following our recent victory?" She continued until she stopped in front of him, her gaze briefly moving to the banner. It was not far removed from the Kor'kron banner Shokkra had kept in her room. To the orc she said, "No, I'm looking for one of your members. Kex'ti, Kex'ti Dalendala." "Dalendala? Oh. Huh. Who're you to him?" the orc asked, hand on his pike. Juli paused, distinctly. Wasn't that quite the question. The answer she finally came up with was, "Julilee Liene. He'll know who I am." "Oh. Uh huh." The orc seemed to know what that meant. "Well, he's back about three torches on the left. Should be sparring with Tulip, Ochiga, Kaeeli, and Gorgath. I'll escort you." He added the very last sheepishly after Juli simply looked at him for a moment, since he stood blocking the doorway. "Thank you." The orc nodded. The thirst for drama was evident in his hurried pace as they entered the Warscar Reach barracks. Past the third torch, the hallway angled down to a veranda with overhanging vines. A sandy ring lay in the middle. A white-haired Sin'dorei stood in the center of the arena, a burly Blackrock orc and a lithe Nightborne strafing around him. He hadn't noticed the newcomers yet. "Think fast, old man!" yelled the Nightborne then, rushing in to take a swing at the back of the elf's head. The orc growled and charged in at the same time, low, aiming to tackle the elf's waist. Outside of the arena, a goblin kicked her feet on a planter, and a pandaren monk sipped at a cup of tea, cross-legged, as they watched the sparring match. Juli stood in the archway and observed. Kex'ti twisted lithely and leaned back to catch the Nightborne's fist, only to spy Julilee as he did so. A moment of confusion crossed his face. "Juli?" he muttered, then the orc's converted uppercut connected with his jaw. The phenomenal strike landed him in the Nightborne's arms, caught and hanging limply by the armpits. "Whoa, hey, wait a second!" called the goblin. "Kex'ti, you alright?" She hopped off the decorative container and walked over, summoning a few drops of healing rain onto the sand. "I wasn't expecting that to work!" boasted the orc. "But... are you okay?" Kex'ti never took his eyes off Juli. He spat some blood into the muddy dirt. "I am fine, everyone. Excuse me a moment." He held a hand to his cheek and began to mend the damage as he regained his feet. Then he walked calmly over towards her, limping only slightly. Juli stayed where she was, letting Kex'ti approach. Seeing him... It felt different. Everything was different now. It evoked feelings she wasn't allowed to have anymore. She found she didn't know what to say, and was silent. He looked different. He was dressed in sparring leathers in red and black. The red on black of his tabard looked out of place compared to the purple and gold he'd worn for so many years. His beard was much better kept, very close to the sides of his angular face. He'd lost a lot of weight. He'd never been fat, exactly, but it was clear the traveling with a military branch left little time for him to bulk up to his usual size, or perhaps the lack of quality food... None of it mattered. He was there. She was looking upon him. And she could tell him what she'd spent every day these past six months hoping she'd have a chance to say. "I see you have matched your hair to mine," he chuckled. She'd forgotten how different she looked, too. Her armor was no longer muted purple and gold, but white, dark gray, and gold, and lacking tabard, pauldrons, or shield. And her hair, long now, had become as white as his. The last changes she hadn't known about until she came across the mirror in the ruins. Her eyes no longer glowed green. They glowed gold. The differences were so striking that it was remarkable he had recognized her instantly. No one else would have. "Yeah, I guess." She paused. The words wouldn't come out, hardly. "I just wanted you to know I'm alive. I thought... You would want to know." "Should we go somewhere to talk?" he asked. "Probably." He raised a hand to his eyes and rubbed them. "Fine, let us head out to the general concourse." He walked past her, causing the orc guard, who had been hovering, to start hastily moving back toward his post. The goblin in the arena called after Kex'ti. "Uh, you want your staff?" "No, Tulip. I will not be long," he said, wearily. He glanced to Julilee, and nodded out back towards the humid mid-day heat.
  44. 1 point
    She had gone to Ratchet, first. That was where he'd been the last time she'd seen him. She barely remembered the overland journey there, but remembered that the bartender had had to tell her twice that he had quit and gone off to join the war before it sank in. "What war?" she asked. "The Legion was defeated." The goblin gave her a look that said he was finding her more and more questionable in terms of sanity, intellect, or both. "With the Alliance? You know, after we burned down Teldrassil and they tried to take Undercity so we bombed it to plaguey smithereens?" She stood there, digesting that. Once, those two hefty pieces of news would have sent her into a tailspin. It would have changed everything. Now, she found they didn't matter. They just passed through her. It was noise, unimportant background. Her objective remained the same. "Where should I look for him?" "Uh, Zuldazar's where the Horde's operating out of, so start there, I guess?" The goblin was nothing more than that same background now, and she almost turned and walked away without a further word. But something stopped her. With an effort, she focused on the hesitation and identified it. It was that the goblin was a person, and you were supposed to treat people with respect. It had been so long since that had been relevant she'd forgotten it mattered. "Thank you," she said politely before she departed.
  45. 1 point
    Brinnea woke to a searing pain and a dull hunger. She lay in a simple cot with a scratchy blanket, but it may as well have been a cloud for how much she could feel of it. When she tried to move, her body rebelled and lay still. Her arm and leg itched furiously. She tried to scratch at her arm but found that her left hand was missing – as was her right arm. Memory flooded back along with another wave of pain. She didn’t bother trying to reach her itching phantom leg. “Brin, you’re awake,” a familiar voice said at her left side. Brin struggled just to turn her head and look. “Christa,” she rasped. Her sister. She stood by the bed looking haggard; her armor was dinted and dingy, her hair messy and overgrown, and her eyes were bloodshot and drooping. She was the most beautiful thing Brinnea had seen in months. Christa adjusted the covers on Brinnea’s body. “We don’t have a proper healer here for you,” she said, “But I plan on capturing some animals for you. It should help you get back to your feet.” She winced when she realized what she said. “Where are we?” Brinnea asked. “A small farmstead. The Silver Hand is helping the farmers get settled in safely. With the Forsaken distracted to the west and south, we finally have some breathing room to rebuild Lordaeron.” “The war still rages?” Brinnea wasn’t sure why she cared, but she asked anyway. “Yes, and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. Sylvanas escaped when Lordaeron fell to the Alliance. Forsaken resistance is still strong in places. Not strong enough to kick up fuss about us knights.” “You remained neutral?” Christa nodded. “And I intend to stay that way. If we play our cards right, Andorhal might be free for human settlement again soon. I thought I might open an inn there if that happened.” “That would suit you,” Brin said. “I wish I could be there to see it.” “You aren’t dead yet, sister. Not truly.” “It’s only a matter of time. Besides, Andorhal won’t be a home for me. Only another place full of enemies.” “You don’t know that for certain,” Christa said, but she didn’t sound like she believed herself. When Brinnea was silent for a long while, Christa stood to take her leave. “Thank you,” Brinnea said. “Christa, thank you.” She opened the door and replied without looking back, “It’s what sisters are for, aren’t they?”
  46. 1 point
    The first rays of sunlight pierced through the gloom and stabbed straight into the weary eyes of the pale troll who had taken the lead. When he stopped short with a curse, Tahzani walked straight into his back. Even with a mixture that was more water than liquor, the alcohol had proven potent enough to provide them both with a sense of inebriation that followed them throughout the night. Sipping on the watered down slammer had warded away most of the chill, leaving them both uncomfortable, but it had succeeded in keeping them alive against the chill. After an hour of passing the bottle back and forth his companion's tongue had loosened and the time was spent listening to the man ramble from one story to the next with frequent distractions, rambling, and irrelevent tangents. Tahzani almost regretted not remembering a word of it. Fatigue that had nothing to do with sleep deprivation or exertion had become more and more prominent since he had left the city. Even as his companion talked for hours on end, Tahzani struggled to keep moving in a straight line. "We made good time, but we gotta stop." Dock stated, peering blearily at the stone wall before them. The mass of rock had only become visible when the sky had begun to lighten as if in invitation.The land sank into cayons and rose into terraces of stone, dark brown against the cold tan of the dunes surrounding it. In time, it would offer shade from the burning glare. "We ain't got enough watah ta mix left. We can drink it straight ta survive anuddah night but we'll be dyin' a thirst even quickah." Tahzani sighed, licking his lips and glancing towards the canyon. At the moment, he would have welcomed the warmth of a horrifically hot day with open arms. "A few hours of sun exposure is going to exhaust what little water we have left. I don't want to face whatever else rises with the sun without proper rest. It was your idea to push away from the others, now we gotta make this work or we are both dead. Pushing ourselves until we drop or run into a real threat is a sure way to achieve the latter." Dock stated, setting his lips into a grim line as he stared at the taciturn bartender. Tahzani spared the rocks a weary look as he considered their options. The darkened pathway between the rocks held little appeal when his mind had been set on trudging a few miles further. The sight of thin, green leaves poking out of the ground changed his mind. "Look... Grass." "...Aye Mon. I know what grass is." The exile said slowly. Perhaps the chill of the night had frozen his brain and it needed time to thaw. "Grass means watah. It might be deep but-" " It might also mean plants we can use." Dock said, catching on and flashing a grin filled with tobacco stained teeth. " Exactly, ah figure we got an hour befoah de sun be up. Dunno what be edible heah but we should look an' be quick about it." His words lacked the force required to inspire. But the next moment both trolls were striding with purpose into the winding stone canyons. ------- "What about-" "Do not drink the cactus." "But I seen-" "The after effects? The water in there is acidic. You gonna give yourself the shits drinking that by itself... Take the young pads though, there might be something we can do with them." Dock spared the bartender an annoyed look. Ever since the sun had risen, the troll had become even more sluggish and he was struggling with even basic tasks. "Just look for broad, green leafy plants." The other troll sighed, drawing the blade on his side as he spotted a healthy looking plant and began digging at its base. Tahzani watched the other troll work without comprehension or basic awareness. He should have kept looking but he could not draw himself away from the digging troll. The death of his drive had begun with the loss of momentum. He was dimly aware of what they needed here, yet when they stopped, all he could think about was lying down. Not even to sleep. "Ahahahahaaaa!" His partner's cackle roused some life into his dulled senses. The hole he had dug into the roots of the plant was beginning to fill with gritty water. It did not stop the other troll from leaning down to drink deeply from the puddle. "Quickly mon! Gimme the skin!" Dock gasped, holding out a hand towards him. Tahzani stared at the hand for several moments before he seemed to understand and handed off the deflated skin to his partner. It only took a few scoops from the shallow water to drain it too low. When the puddle was too shallow to effectively fill the skin, Dock stepped away to allow Tahzani to wet his swollen throat. With or without sand, the water was a welcome relief. "This should be enough for one more night. Let's find a place to get some shut-eye." Dock rumbled, his spirits notably higher as he strode past the stooped bartender with purpose. Tahzani tarried a few seconds longer before staggering after him. The optimistic attitude was short lived as the two wandered through the winding pathways carved through the stone. There was no shortage of cracks and small crevices to trip over and stub their toes on, but none that were large enough to slip into. An hour passed as the two staggered and cursed their way through the passes before they found an indent in the stone. It was deep enough to provide relief from the heavy heat that had begun to weigh them down. He missed the question when it was asked the first time, too focused on the relief of getting off of his feet. "What?" "I asked, what the hell is wrong with you?" "Ya want a fuckin' list?" "Last night you had one idea that seemed insane but it worked. Now? Ya head be on de moon." Tahzani twisted his lip and remained silent. It was an answer he had been curious about. The lethargy had been slow to start but spread quickly. "Ah don' know." "What do ya mean ya don't know?" "Just that. A few days outta de city an' errytin' got hardah. Thinkin' about escape turned inta strugglin' ta focus. Was able ta walk an' talk but even das gettin' hahd now." "Ya been huffing?" "Jah... But das not it." "Ya sure?" "Aye. Even de worst cravings not been like dis." "Snorting?" "What? No." "Shooting?" "How does dat-No!" "Licking?" "Licking?" "Toads." "NO! Ah'm not a junkie!" Tahzani snapped at his companion. The other troll had sunk down beside him with his eyes closed and a slight smile curling his lip at the bartender's outrage. " Could have fooled me. Fine, don't tell me." "Ah slung de Fel." Tahzani snapped without enthusiasm, resting his head against the wall after the proclamation. When his friend made a knowing sound in the back of his throat he lazily swiveled his head towards him to tiredly glare. "What?" "The Fel. I have heard enough stories about it." "Yeah well ah'm not messin' wit it. Not anymoah." "Maybe that might be the problem? Your greenskinned friends went through a similar struggle did they not?" "Withdrawals don' kick in months latah. If jah be hooked on it, it could be hours befoah jah want anudda hit. Even wit as little as ah used ah woulda felt sometin' before today." "Are you sure about that?" "Well, ah was a second ago." The bartender muttered. Apparently satisfied, Dock folded his arms across his stomach and settled down. "Ya good ta take de first watch?" "Aye. I'll wake jah in a few hours." Tahzani sighed, rubbing at his eyes before staring down the path they had come from. He had reached an odd point of fatigue where he lacked the energy to feel exhausted. Deigning not to point out the other troll's state. Dock closed his eyes. The sun was high in the sky and edging towards a descent when Tahzani's time for rest was cut short by urgent shaking. " Mon! We gotta move!" Dock hissed glancing down the path to their right as he roused the Revantusk. Tahzani muttered incoherently, his eyes gummy and his vision blurred. Befuddled by sleep, he offered no resistance as the troll grabbed him by the forearms and hauled him to his feet. "We gotta move!" " Ah heard jah! Fuck! Don' gotta be so loud mah ears are ringin'." He growled irritably before cocking his head and blinking his eyes clear. His ears were not ringing, they were buzzing with the heavy reverberations of rapidly moving wings. A bass, droning buzz. When a shadow flew by overhead, his exhaustion disappeared and both trolls took off running. The blood pounding through his veins gave him clarity and pushed away the exhaustion for the moment as he focused entirely on keeping up with the athletic troll in front of him. The droning buzz only grew louder and more agitated as they ran. He risked a glance over his shoulder and regretted it immediately. The shadow had been a scout, now the workers and the defenders had arisen to darken the skies. Dozens or hundreds of winged insects were behind them and moving forward. He barely avoided colliding with Dock when the other troll skidded to a halt. The narrow path had widened into a broad, circular area no longer than a hundred feet across before it turned narrow again. The walls were covered in the bulbous hives of the wasps. The defending wasps were the size of dogs while the drones were the size of his fingers. He could easily count the number of defenders but the little ones were too numerous to even guess at. His companion spat out an oath and glanced over his shoulder. They had drawn the attention of the swarm behind them. "We run through there an we'll be flayed alive." "An' if we stay put, we gonna get swarmed." Tahzani protested, earning a stressed look from the exile. The anger disappeared as he shoved a hand inside of Tahzani's pocket, earning an indignant squawk and an frightened jerk backwards by the bartender. "Ah ain't grabbin' YA bottle i'm grabbing THE bottle! Shut up!" Dock groused, pulling the obsidian glass bottle from his pocket. "Dock no!" Tahzani wailed, too late as the bottle had already been hurled towards one of the closer hives of alerted wasps. It would have been a solid plan, a short explosion to disrupt the wasps and a flaming hive to send them into a confused panic while the two ran for their lives. But the magical fire the man expected had always required other components to start. None of which would be found in broken glass. The heavy bottle shattered explosively, raining shards of thick, black glass onto the smaller wasps and even tearing the delicate wing of one of the defenders, sending it buzzing into the earth. The rain of glass was mixed with a rain of thick, black liquid that painted the hive and the wasps alike with what remained inside. Dock froze with a confused, fearful expression. Where was the flame? The buzzing grew louder as the insects became enraged. Dock ripped the blade from his waist with his free hand as he tugged Tahzani forward. The bartender had closed his eyes in a look of silent submission. As if he was awaiting his end. In truth, it was taking Tahzani everything he had to work out the spell. He had yet to succeed with anything Paiyuna had tried to teach him, and in the dreadful moment, he believed he knew why it had never worked. As the insects approached, he reached out a hand towards the glaring, fiery orb above him. The wasps had been eating far too well lately. There were too many exiles to feast upon and not enough of anything else to support the explosive population growth. Balance was needed. The beam was miniscule, only notable because of the shade that the drenched nest resided in. But the spark was enough. The insects scattered as flames roared up the wall and began to greedily devour the hive. The tongues of flame lashed at large and small insects alike, uncaring and all consuming. When every other creature scattered in a panic away from the flame, the trolls shot towards the exit. The exile arced the blade through the air at one of the more resilient defenders, slicing through the barbed stinger and out through the sternum to spill its insides out. Torn between panic and a surge of joy at the accomplishment, Tahzani barely managed to block a stringer with his arm rather than his skull. The knife sized stinger twisted just right to thread the needle between his bones of his forearm and pass clear through the meat of the limb He had not even registered the pain when another slash from Dock freed the stinger from the creature's body, leaving the confused bartender with a brand new piercing. "It went though." He informed his companion in a tone of disbelief as the sudden shock wore off and the delayed agony surged forward. "We'll get it out later! RUN!" Dock ordered, giving his unmaimed arm another tug. The next second he let go again to cleave through a curious wasp that had come to investigate the noise from further down the tunnel. Tahzani raised the wounded limb again as another wasp fell upon him. He greeted the next wound with a scream as the stinger buried itself into his arm an inch away from the first and released a burning venom into the meat of his limb. The creature pulled the stinger out with a sudden jerk, sawing through flesh with the barbs as it readied itself for another stab. Scrambling wildly with the other limb, Tahzani found a hefty stone to swing at the plunging blade, cracking the weapon and wrenching it free of the wasps's body to dangle by a string. Tahzani leapt back up to his feet and staggered away from the mess, hurling his newfound weapon at another attacking insect as he staggered after Dock. The other troll was shouting for him to hurry as he continued to slash and cleave with a flash of steel and a spray of ichor accompanying each motion. The swarm had caught him by then, showing particular interest in the already infected flesh as they focused on covering the limb.In the moment, all he could focus on was the simple task of running before the ones with the big stingers got there. The tiny stingers stabbing into his chest tickled by comparison. His heart was hammering into his ribs with every moment as panic seized him. His arm ached abysmally but not nearly as much as it should have. Even as he watched, he saw bits of his flesh being ripped off and chewed by tiny mandibles. Before his very eyes, he was being eaten by the swarm. He screamed incoherently as he slapped at the insects with his free hand, crushing some and backhanding others away. Casings cracked and stingers were ripped free in ways that should have hurt far more than they did. They shot out of the pathways out onto a descending dune of sand leading down to patches of an old, stone road. Bare feet slapped the stone loudly as they fled the swarm. It was unclear which one of them was shouting or if they were both adding to the already deafening racket. ------------ He was not sure when the creatures stopped pursuing them, but when he collapsed they were thankfully nowhere to be seen. His throat was as dry as a kiln and every breath he sucked into aching, burning lungs. He felt uneven and even rolling onto his back took more effort than it should have. Against his better judgement, he looked down to look at the damage the swarm had inflicted. From the edge of his bicep downward, his arm was a mess of chewed flesh and discolored, grotesquely swollen bumps. The limb had grown as thick as his thigh in places, resembling bunch of punctured grapes still on the stem. As horrible as it looked, he felt little more than a mild burning sensation. "It's... It's not dat bad right?" He asked in a quivering voice as Dock approached him with a guarded expression. "De venom, it isn't dat bad, right?" He quietly plead, hoping that the grim faced exile had some sort of reassurance. He began to shiver as the other exile removed his belt and cinched it down tightly above the damaged flesh. "I'll heal! Ah just need time!" His voice rose an octave as his companion drew the blade again with a sickened expression and forced a dirty cloth into Tahzani's mouth. His heart pounded in his chest and fear locked his limbs as he stared at the man with a naked blade. "Aye mon... It will all heal with time." Dock promised with a soft, kind tone reserved for calming frightened animals. " Close ya eyes. Ya won't want to watch this." He murmured, positioning his blade above the damaged limb. Dock was right.
  47. 1 point
    “How are you handling things, little wolf?” Holun asked curiously, not struggling on the hike nearly as much as either of the Frostwolf pair. There was little that Garinth could do to rush acclimating to the high altitude, but the work had to be done. All he could do was move slowly and try not to stress himself or Greywind too much. As he looked up to his white furred guide, the tauren added, “Generally, I mean. You seem...perhaps better off than last we met.” Chest heaving as they paused to take a break, Garinth gave a nod. “Your guidance helped,” he replied with a raise of his eyebrows. “I’m not...I’m not trying to use them to be something else anymore. I wasn’t ever going to be what my father was.” The shaman reached for his waterskin then, and took a long draw from the cool water within. “There’s more to it than that,” Holun replied with a wizened smile, his demeanor shifting subtly and growing more relaxed as he leaned against his walking staff. “You carry yourself differently, straighter perhaps. Even your grandmother seemed more at ease when we spoke last night.” That earned a weak smile from the half-orc, and a swift shake of his head. “That’s not entirely my own doing, Holun. I feel, lately at least, that I have been fulfilling my purpose. I’m training with the Winds, but most of my time has been occupied with offering guidance and shelter. The organization I belong to underwent a shuffle of leadership a few months back, and I was called to help with it.” The tauren gave a thoughtful hum in reply, and then made sure that his traveling companions were ready before starting to move up the mountain again. Mid stride, Holun’s shoulders seemed to hunch a little and his age grew more apparent. “Is that why you’re here then? More of this...guidance and shelter business?” “Everyone else is too consumed with the war,” Garinth replied, having to break up his sentences to breathe again as he trudged along behind. Greywind continued alongside him in silence, panting but otherwise seeming mostly at ease in the thing air. “They either want to avoid it or...join it. None of my ancestors have any experience with it. My position...involves keeping members safe so... someone needs to be looking for ways to protect ourselves from these things. And maybe...maybe it’ll help with what’s happening to Azeroth too.” “You’re not a member of the Ring anymore, little wolf,” Holun chided quickly, “If you were, you would know they had already been here to see what could be made of the wards. I doubt you will glean anything they have not already.” The reproach quieted the half-orc, and he resorted to following along in silence afterward. The was plenty enough to look at on the hike, so near to the mountain’s peak granting a broad vantage of the Broken Isles. It was nearly an hour later that they reached their destination, and the tauren stopped to point a a hollow ahead. “That stone in the center there, that marked the location of this ward. We should have a few hours up here before we need to head back down for the day.” The tauren paused then, and gave the shaman a quick look over. “Will that be long enough?” Garinth’s gaze drew distant then, but after a few moments he nodded. “It’ll have to be. Even if I wanted to set up camp here, there’s not enough shelter in that bowl to keep safe from the storms.” Holun gave a simple nod to the half-orc’s appraisal, and began to lead them down into depression.
  48. 1 point
    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.
  49. 1 point
    It's going to be that one, he thought to himself, watching as the goblin nodded his head toward the empty pint of beer he'd been served only minutes before. Tahzani had an ongoing bet with himself over which one of his patrons would pass out first, and today he had a good pick of people to choose from. First, there was the goblin. He'd come in from Southshore, battered and bruised, likely from some scuffle over azerite or something else the Warchief ordered her troops to do. It was times like this he was glad for his job; far be it for him to break his nose a third time. Trolls healed quick, but that didn't mean they healed exactly the same. Tahzani's nose was like a jagged knife with not one but two ridges where the cartilage was broken. This alone made him stand out from the other trolls who patronized his establishment, and the Coldstar Cantina was growing more popular as the conflict in Southshore ramped up. "Hey barkeep," said a trollish woman in Zandali, her dark red hair and black facial tattoos outing her as a Ferraki. Sand snake, he thought to himself, approaching the female. "Watchoo wan'?" he asked politely in orcish, unwilling to bring the irritable glances of his many orcish patrons his way. They tended to get testy when he spoke in Zandali, and he wasn't going to start trouble over some sand troll. "Double whiskey, neat," she said, still in Zandali, flashing a jaw full of impossibly white teeth and large tusks. Of course she doesn't want ice, Tahzani thought to himself, pouring a glass with twice the usual amount of whiskey. Passing it to her, he took note of the gold rings on her fingers and the gold cuffs on each wrist. She didn't seem particularly rich, but it was an unusual choice. "He'a ya go," he said in a dry tone, as if he didn't have time for any Ferraki nonsense today. The sand troll took her drink and rolled a few coins toward Tahzani. "Thanks, handsome," she said with a grin. A twitch in his eyelid was all that answered her. When was the last time someone called him handsome without it being a joke? "I told you I wouldn't take any of your bullshit!" came another voice from nearby. Tahzani's attention was stolen by the new conflict; an orc was grabbing a tauren by the collar of his shirt, which was both hilarious and dangerous. Tauren could do massive structural damage if they were so inclined, and orcs didn't know when to back down. "Ey eye ey!" He shouted, waving a hand at both of them. "Take it outsahd! Ain' got no tahm fo' ya bustin' up mah tables an' chai's, mon!" The Ferraki laughed into her hand. "You think that's going to stop them?" She teased, drinking half of her glass. Sure enough, his commands went completely ignored. The tauren reached back and swung toward his assailant with a massive paw to the face, knocking the orc back a few feet and into the wall. A round of laughter went out around the room, and try as he might, Tahzani couldn't help but join them. It wasn't usual that a brawl wound up stopping with a single hit though, so he shook a fist at the orc. "Ey mon! Know when ta stay down!" But the orc didn't know when to quit. He was dressed in thick leathers and animal hide, the mark of a hunter, and sure enough a wolf suddenly appeared from outside only to leap at his tauren "friend" and sink his jaws into the larger warrior's thigh. "Get 'im, Ash'ar!" the orc shouted, hauling himself back to his feet, whipping out a rifle to aim at the tauren. The tauren seemed almost amused by the wolf, until its teeth dug in deep enough to find flesh. "An'she!" He shouted, smacking the canine away in the same way he did to his partner. Now it was time for Tahzani to intervene. "Ah to'd ya ta stop," he said firmly, putting away his own laughter with a shake of his head. The troll had a number of things he could do to stop them, but deescalating situations generally didn't happen when one introduced more violence. Luckily, there was a distraction. "Yoo hoo!" Came a familiar voice, and a familiar jiggle. Well that's an unexpected blessing, Tahzani thought to himself as a blood elf walked into his establishment carrying a guitar. Busty-the-elf to the rescue. She smiled with her painted lips and sat down primly on a bar stool, her low-cut robes exposing her breasts in a display an orc might find lewd. "Who wants to hear a song about how my night went?" She asked with a grin. The orc hunter put down his rifle. Elves were funny, and this one was particularly entertaining. Tahzani let out a heavy sigh. Saved by tits, he thought grumpily to himself, wondering vaguely about the difference between elf and troll breasts in terms of weight and softness. Well elves usually have little ones, but this one has pretty big ones.. can't be as soft as a troll's though, there's no fur, and besides, why would anyone want to bother with an elf, they probably talk through the whole thing and... It was when he was deep into this internal monologue when the music started, and the patrons went just a little quiet to listen to busty-the-elf's song. "Hey, give me another double, handsome," came the same Ferraki as before, smiling at Tahzani with a sinister grin. Rolling his eyes, he refilled her glass. "You can stop calling me that any time now." "Why would I want to do that?" She asked innocently, passing him the coins. Tahzani glared at her. "Because my face is busted to shit and you know it." "Doesn't seem so bad to me," the Ferraki said through a grin, the face paint around her eyes wrinkling mischievously. Is she actually flirting with me? The barkeep thought to himself. He tried to think of the last time someone actually had the nerve to flirt with him and was interrupted by a loud round of applause as busty-the-elf's first some came to an end. Glancing toward her, he saw the elf take a bow before turning back to the Ferraki, who mysteriously disappeared. "What the.." "My eye! My eye!!" Came a shout from one of the tables, a blood elf male leaning forward, clutching his left eye. Blood rolled down his face and hand as he shouted in a panic, and Tahzani groaned to himself. "We don' need anodda bar fight toni--" But his words were cut short, because it wasn't a bar fight that cost the elf his eye. Tahzani noticed a glimmer of air shifting before him, the unmistakable form of a night elf visible for a brief moment as she stabbed another patron, this time a goblin, in his eye as well. "Cripes! My friggin' eye!!" He shouted, and the bar erupted into chaos. "There's a rogue here!" "Takin' out eyes!" "Someone find 'em before they get anyone el--, ahh!! My eye!!" "An eye for an eye, Horde!" Shouted the elf in her own language as she faded from sight only to stab at as many patrons as she could find. Tahzani groaned. Of all the bars in all the world, it had to be mine!? Backing up, he grabbed his staff from the wall and considered the price of using the fel to fight this unseen foe. He was trying to give it up, or at least, he thought he was. What choice is there, though? If some elf is in my bar, taking the eyes from my customers, there had to be something-- "Hey handsome," came the familiar voice of the Ferraki, suddenly appearing in front of his bar along with the limp body of a night elf female, her knife sticking half-way into the elf's throat. "Look what I brought you." For once, it didn't matter if she was actually flirting or if she was just being tease. Tahzani stared at the two, sand troll and night elf, then shook his head and waved a hand toward the nearest bar stool. "T'anks fo' da help," he said with the hint of a smile. "Next drink be on me."
  50. 1 point
    All at once she found herself floating again. This time, the waters were cool and chilly, the cold seeped into her skin and bones and blood in a way that felt unnatural. No warm hands pulled her to a soft embrace, but icy pinpricks on her flesh carried Ninorra into darkness. Opening her mouth, she found that her voice was gone. She could not call for help, and try as she might. No breath entered her lungs. The blackness that enveloped her senses was thick and weighty, like molasses over her eyelids creeping into her mouth with the sweetness of silence. But silence was a nightmare, and the warlock struggled. Red hot pain spread from an ache in her side, a searing tear in her being that she yearned to reach for but couldn't touch. Her limbs were too heavy, and even the act of moving a finger was fruitless. She was limp, floating in a dark sea of hollow voices and emptiness. Somewhere in her mind, she searched for an escape. Surely there must be a way to pull herself out, to reach for the sun even as the night pulled at her toes and ankles, threatening to drag her silently screaming into abyss. A nothingness. A void. But where was the silence of the dark, now? Whispers tickled her heels, the tip of her nose. Like ants, they crawled up the length of her ebon hairs, each one carrying a tiny fraction of information. Each one asking to move past the oily scalp, to burrow into her skull and fill her brain with knowledge. It would be so easy, she thought, to let them in. No. Her mouth made the movement. Progress, she thought, as the whispers itched at her face, antennae tickling delicate earlobes. No. She did it again, and her voice was almost there. A whisper among chattering, hoarse and uncomfortable, thin as silk thread yet unbreakable. Real. No! The whispers were loud and angry, and now they dug at her flesh from the inside, crawling within her veins, eating at her as they spoke words of wisdom and creation. Her voice was insignificant but theirs were intimate, infinite, incredible. "No!" A flash of dawn, and the face of an elf. Two red eyes looked up to see the face of a friend, no, two friends, and the light of a place that felt safe. No more itchiness, only the healing Light. It only lasted a moment, and she was asleep again.