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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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!"
  6. 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. ]]
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.”
  13. 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.”
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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. >:)
  19. 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.
  20. 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!
  21. 2 points
    The Grim was always a good fight, best of luck to you.
  22. 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. ❤️
  23. 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!
  24. 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!
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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?
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 2 points
    until
    Join us once again for a casual evening where the mood is light and the food and drink is plenty! All are welcome to dress in costume, but it is not a necessity in order to attend. Let this be as our Night in Kirthaven was, relaxed and welcoming. Those in attendance will be able to cast their vote for favorite costume and help some lucky attendee take home a gold prize! The Slaughtered Lamb welcomes all this Hallow's end. I hope to see many of you in attendance.
  32. 2 points
    until
    ((The Weary Traveler is a player-run Inn and Lounge that serves as an Open, Walk-Up RP hub for roleplayers of TN-RH Alliance. If you are new to roleplaying (or to roleplaying in this server or faction) and would like to network with other guilds and roleplayers in the server, this weekly event is for you! The property is located on Cut-Throat Alley in the Dwarven District of Stormwind City. The campus consists of the Shady Lady Tavern for drinks and typical tavern interactions, the Alley for outdoor strolls and conversations, and then the empty building which ICly serves as the Weary Traveler Inn. The inn contains ample seating, Hors d'oeuvres sold by RPed innkeeping staff, and has one room for rent on a first-come first-served basis. The space is ICly open 24/7 for players' IC needs, but the formal timeslot in which the Innkeeping Staff will be online to roleplay and host the hub is on every Tuesday night at 7pm server. Prior to starting time, reminders shall be broadcasted on the /RP chat channel as well as the Blizzard channels, with the hope to encourage hesitant RPers to have the more frequent and consistent roleplaying opportunities. All roleplayers that are merchant, service, or mercenary in nature are welcome to utilize the space to advertise their work without requiring OOC permission. Guilds are also welcomed to use the area to advertise their organization ICly to potential recruits and new RPers. Please contact Innkeeping Staff members if you or your organization ICly and actively uses the Cut-Throat Alley space for your current roleplay. We will do everything in our power to fairly share the OOC space available while accommodating both properties to exist in lore. The Innkeeping Staff reserves the right to advise, warn, and report attendees who grief roleplay or otherwise maliciously infringe on the Blizzard Terms of Service for an roleplaying server, found here https://us.battle.net/support/en/article/300463 and here https://us.battle.net/support/en/article/200475. If you are interested in formally joining the Weary Traveler's staff, please contact Tuuroto-TwistingNether or any member of the guild "Cup and Blade Caravan." The Weary Traveler is staffed by OOC members of the Cup and Blade Caravan but is not directly affiliated with the Caravan ICly. A special thanks to Tahzani and all the folks from the Horde-side RP community who have made the Coldstar Cantina successful. It is our hope to emulate their success in order to keep Alliance RP vibrant now, through Legion, and onward. For all other questions, please contact Tuuroto-TwistingNether))
  33. 2 points
    [[Closed! Good luck everyone!]]
  34. 2 points
    until
    <A bright yellow sun dazzles in the top corner of the parchment in attempt to catch the eye of those passing by! Palm trees decorate the edges, with their branches swaying enchantingly in the wind. The script is written in an inviting blue that is reminiscent of the ocean. These fliers are posted all around Alliance hotspots, taverns, and city boards!> Grab your swimsuit and get ready for some fun in the sun! The Twilight Empire will be hosting an Island Beach Party upon the 25th of June, at 7:00pm in the evening. Come relax in the sand, float around in the clear waters, and enjoy some grilled food. All refreshments are free, and yes, alcohol will be provided! There will also be fishing and fireworks! (But not fishing with fireworks!) For the competitors out there, we'll be having a swimsuit competition! A fair amount of gold will go to the winners, which will be decided by those attending but not competing. Men and women are permitted to enter and will all be participating in the same competition. Good luck to all! All Alliance are invited to our Island Beach Party! Bring your family, friends, and pets – and we'll see you there among the sandy beaches of Southbreak Shore, Tanaris! The party island is visible just off the coast and there will be transportation across the water to all that desire! Come join the fun! ((OOC Details: Date: June 25th, 2016, Saturday Time: 7:00 pm (server) Location: Southbreak Shore, Tanaris (An island visible just off the coast.) Activities: Swimsuit Competition: Men and Women, dress in your best swimsuit! Party-goer vote will decide our top 3 winners! Please keep in mind best overall look, uniqueness, and cohesiveness when voting. Prizes of gold will be given to our winners! Aside from the competition there will be swimming, fishing, fireworks, games and provided food and drink for all to enjoy! We hope to see many new faces among our already dear friends! Everyone is invited, so bring as many guests as you'd like! See you all there. ***Looking For Help: We are currently looking for a few IC helping hands to aid with some of the food stands and other activities. We are also looking for IC volunteer guards to help keep the perimeters safe! If anyone out there would like to assist with the party or guard duties, please contact Mackinzie-Ravenholdt. Thank you!***))
  35. 1 point
    All the feels. Thanks for everything, guys! You were the best, nothing but love!
  36. 1 point
    It should be enough. It should be enough just to hate. I shouldn't need reasons. Garithos was the reason I offered whenever a reason was demanded. He was reason enough, too. I shouldn't She doesn't understand. Hate is easy. It is warm and strong. It protects from all manner of harm. I didn't need reasons to hate. We were just predators, preying on the weak, the lesser, those who would grow and learn and die too fast to remember the techniques we could focus on for decades. We didn't need reasons. Yes, they gave us reasons, but we didn't need them. They weren't my friends. I didn't lose anyone close to me. Not to them. The only thing that killed them was the Scourge, and the Scourge was what? A disease of the world? Arthas and Kel'thuzad can take a lot of blame for being weak and lesser, for falling for trap after trap after trap. Dar'khan can take some blame, for being power hungry, a grand failing of our kind, and his sweet little mutant children overrunning Stormwind now are what happen when you open the gates for death. But even though they weren't my friends, I was too close to what happened to them. It changed me. It changed what made me hesitate. I was always more violent than not, and though I was never demanding, I resolved I never would be. I would never be like them. I would never take the way they did. I would only destroy. She doesn't understand. How could she? Who does understand? A wolf without its pack is prey, and I've been without my pack for too long. The Grim stands in for them, but the Grim failed me. I was prey. More than once. I've learned not to rely on them. The Grim feed the hate, but they do not understand it. They don't need to. I shouldn't need to. She shouldn't need to. Hate should be enough, in and of itself. It does not need reasons to exist. It only needs to burn. It only needs to consume everything in its path. That's all it needs. She is an obsession, a dangerous path with no way to turn from it. Even if I try, I'll always find myself back on the same road. And I have given her everything. Of my own free will. Everything. Prey again, without my pack. The other needs to ask better questions. I don't think she wants to ask better questions. I don't think she wants what she says she wants, to do something for me, which is good, because she won't get it, but I'll get what I want, words and questions, the sound of my own voice, amusement at what nothing can cause. Be careful giving words too much power. They don't have any of their own. The cat disagrees, but also puts a point on the possibility that the only power they have is mischief. I need to spend a week in Suramar to remember what we should have been, but Feralas calls. I don't need brothers, but I'm glad of them, nonetheless, if only for the hope they give. Yes, hope. I like that people assume I know nothing but ruthless cruelty. I like knowing I can drive hate so easily. That doesn't mean I know nothing of things outside hatred. What do I know? I know more than those who worship at its feet. I know more than those who wear it on their sleeves and on their banners. I know because I run from it and it hunts me down. I know because I do not want it, do not need it, and yet I have it. Killing me with kindness would be much more difficult than even the ridiculousness of the cliché implies. Boring me with kindness might be manageable. I suppose maybe you could bore me to death with it? But even then, either you're the sort of kind hearted person I either destroy or walk away from, or you're not a kind hearted person and I take the opportunity to dismantle your kindness, find the motive in it, make you regret ever having plied me with it in the first place. Or you're the kind of person who's better at playing my games than I am. There aren't many of those, so I don't fear them though I probably should. The team building silliness at least takes my mind off the menacing truths running deep under everything I do these days. I would definitely prefer to watch from the sidelines, but that's better managed when other people are on the dais than when I am. And if it makes them stronger, then so be it. I'll take my loss of dignity and chalk it up to forging bonds or some other useless lie. That Eye is pointless. It saw the obvious but not the dexterous. You can tell the truth and not tell the truth at the same time, and how can one device detect that nuance? You can tell the truths that don't matter and neglect the ones that do. There is a way to get every truth from me, and it is actually quite simple, but who actually finds that much value in truth?
  37. 1 point
    “She should have visited us by now,” Charlotte said for the sixth time. Once more, and we’ll have good luck, August thought to himself. Waller said seven is a lucky number. “She’s busy,” the wolf boy replied, uncertain. That the Night Vanguard would be affected by the talk of war August heard daily in the streets of Ironforge, he had no doubt. But Lupa always looked after us before. She thinks of Charlotte before anyone else. Even me. “Ugh! Why did she send us to this stupid place? It’s so stuffy in Ironforge!” the strawberry-haired girl jumped up and down on her bed, thankfully covered with a mattress since the bed itself was carved from the very rock of the mountain. The room they slept in was fancy, August supposed. He’d only ever slept in one dwarven house before, and it was nowhere near the size of this one. It was enough to make him feel like a blind pup all over again. August carefully watered his potted plant at the window. Summer was drawing to a close, and sunlight would be scarce in Autumn, so he kept the window open as often as he could. Charlotte had once complained of the draft – the mountain wind was cold no matter what time of year it was – but August was adamant about keeping the plant healthy. “It’s the only plant I brought from the Grove,” he had explained. Charlotte had only huffed and pouted. August was glad she didn’t threaten to burn it like she did everything else these days. “If she can’t come visit us, then we should go visit her!” Charlotte said. August shook his head, not bothering to look away from his plant. “She said to stay. She said it was too dangerous in the Grove. We’ll be safe here.” “But it’s so booooooring!” the girl shouted, falling on her mattress with a loud plop. Waller entered the room, rubbing his temples sleepily. “Children,” he said in his gravelly dwarven tone, “It’s the weekend. I don’t get to sleep in often. So why in the bloody hell are you making so much noise at the crack of dawn?” “August opened the window again,” Charlotte complained. The boy glared at her. “She was jumping on the bed,” he retorted. “Yeah, well—” Waller lifted his hands and shook his head, his oddly short beard jiggling as he did. “I don’t want to hear it. Why don’t you two go out for a breather while I catch some more winks?” “I will, but August is just going to stay with his stupid plant.” “It’s called Kingsblood,” August insisted. “Besides, Mama hasn’t visited us yet. She promised to visit us every week!” Guess that’s good luck for us, then. “Every week she can,” Waller reminded the girl. “Brinnea’s busy. The Vanguard’s at the front of a war. There’s no telling when she’ll be able to come next.” That didn’t quell Charlotte’s displeasure at all. The girl leapt off the bed and darted by Waller’s legs and out into the long hall that served as their dining room and living space. August breathed a sigh of relief and continued to tend to his Kingsblood. If I keep this up, it should sprout into a full bush, then it can survive the winter. “Boy, you’d best follow her,” Waller said, dashing August’s hopes. “But I—ok, fine.” August set his watering can aside and ran after his sister. Brinnea had twice told him to watch after the girl. The first time had been the first she’d ever spoken to him alone. She sat him down on a stump at the shore of Pandaria. He remembered the mountains towering overhead as she spoke. “August, your mother was a brave woman, so I know you’re brave, too. My daughter means the world to me, and I will do everything I can to protect her. If you want to be part of our family, then you’ll have to do the same. We look out for each other. Can you do that?” He had nodded, not fully knowing what he had gotten himself into. When they were readying to leave for Ironforge, she had looked him in the eyes and made him repeat his promise. Maybe I should have just stayed in my garden, he thought sullenly. August’s garden had been his safe place where he grew plants of all kinds, some he didn’t even know the names of. Master Calrin, his druid teacher, had told him how impressive it was for an eleven-year-old to grow so many in so short a time. It made him proud to think on it… …and sad, as well. Charlotte had already made it to the front door, but the way was blocked by Waller’s cousin Shea. Charlotte couldn’t stand the portly dwarven woman, but lately she couldn’t stand anyone else, either. “Doesh the little princesh want to go for a walk in the big, bad mountain?” Shea mocked. She smiled on the side of her face that still worked. August didn’t understand it much, but Waller had told him in private about Shea’s troubled health in her youth. She had once had frequent attacks that paralyzed the flesh of her face. At times, it would droop and she could scarcely control her own tongue, but she had improved over the years. Now, she only slobbered occasionally, and her words were mostly intelligible. “Move, Shea! And stop calling me that!” Charlotte stamped her foot, but the sound barely echoed beyond the great feasting table resting in the hall’s center. August liked the table. It was made of polished wood to shiny he could see his own face in it, and it was marked with a howling wolf’s silhouette in the center, framed by a full moon. That was Charlotte’s sigil, they told him, but it reminded him of his old home in the woods. “The little princesh tried to run off half a dozen timesh,” Shea slobbered, “I didn’t loosh half my witsh when I losht half my face. If you’re going anywhere, it’sh with someone who can bring you back at the end of the night.” “Then August can come with me. Just let me go, already! I’m sick of this stupid place!” The girl yelled in frustration, and a ball of fire formed in her hand. Shea’s one set of working eyelids widened, and she backed up a pace as Charlotte hurled the ball at the huge hearth at the far end of the room. The flames exploded, filling the room with smoke in seconds. Coughing, Shea ushered Charlotte and August outside by their collars. Waller joined them shortly after, his sleeping gown grey with ashes. Charlotte snickered. “Oh, so you’re laughing now, are you? D’you think I brought you into my hall out of the kindness of my heart just to let you burn down the place, child? No! No more magic in my hall! I won’t have it!” Charlotte launched into another round of loud complaints before Shea shook her into silence. August would have felt bad, but ever since he’d come to Ironforge, his druidic magic had forsaken him. This just seemed fair. Waller sighed. “Listen, girl, I know how hard this is for you. But the reality is, you need to be patient. You’re meant for great things, but great people must be patient, or they’ll let everyone down who looks up to them. Do you want to let people down?” Charlotte shook her head. “Good. Now run along and try not to burn down the Great Forge. I don’t know how you’d do it, but I’m sure you’d find a way. Boy, make sure she gets home by sunset.” August nodded, and followed Charlotte, who had started jogging off the moment Shea released her. The girl started a full sprint once the dwarves were back in the hall and out of sight. August was easily faster than her, but he hung back for now. I don’t want to get yelled at again, but I don’t think I can avoid that today. The pair wound their way from the West Arm of the Commons up into the Mystic Ward. They passed by the academy where they were instructed in the refined arts and the high sciences. They passed the great stone building layered in runes where Charlotte was taught the ways of the arcane, and they flew by the pools of knowledge where the dwarven mystics conducted rituals. At least, that was what August had heard. Mostly the children just used it for water games until the grey-bearded dwarves chased them away. Finally, they came to a stop at the foot of a standing stone marked with runes they had been learning to read. Charlotte could already read Common and most of Dwarven, but August was still a novice at any reading whatsoever. Every day when his instructors would point at a shape and say a word, he would cock his head and stare, but he failed to commit any of it to memory. Rather than dwell on it, he focused on his favorite subjects: herbology and biology. Charlotte sat down by the headstone and kicked her slippers off her feet. She kicked at the water half-heartedly and stared at the ripples. August wasn’t sure what to do, so he sat down alongside her. “It’s just not fair,” his sister mumbled. “Why would she leave us here? It’s not fair…” She whipped up a fireball and tossed it into the water to make it steam. Her quick and careless use of fire magic made August uncomfortable, especially because she was growing better at it. The mystics taught her all sorts of things in that big stone building, but August wasn’t allowed in, and Charlotte mostly just complained about how smelly the old women were, so he learned not to think on it much. “You wanna play with Colin?” August asked hopefully. Though he and her were seeing eye-to-eye on fewer things lately, they always enjoyed playing with Colin together. Charlotte smiled. She sprang up, drew out her fiery orange chalk, and sketched her runes in the ground beside the pool’s edge. As she walked in the circle, filling it in with complicated script, more children came around them, curious of what was going on. August wrinkled his nose at the smell of the chalk. It reminded him of rot and fire, but he supposed it was worthwhile given the result. Charlotte skipped backwards once the circle was complete. She waved her hands and chanted in her sing-song voice, and the runes began to glow like a low hearthfire. August took an instinctive step back. This part was never precise. A puff of smoke took to the air, and for a moment the space was hot as the Great Forge half the mountain away. When the smoke settled, a short dog made of living flames bounded about in a circle, chasing his own tail. About his neck was a blue collar with a silvery snowflake pendant, which August knew made it safe to touch the dog. He stepped forward first, aware of the eyes on him as he pet the fiery dog. The other children gasped at first, then burst out in cheers and laughs. They swarmed in, and Colin reveled in the attention. Charlotte quickly began to explain the dog and the magic that made him cool to the touch, but August’s attention was drawn elsewhere. An old hermit wearing a pointed hat sat on the edge of the pool with a gnarled staff across his lap. Though the brim of his hat concealed much of his face, August could see a single eye watching him closely. The eye was dark and glittery like a black pebble in a lakebed and made him shiver when he looked into it. “C’mon, August, Colin is getting away!” Charlotte nudged the boy’s shoulder. The fiery dog was halfway to the Great Forge, most likely drawn by the heat of it, and the pack of children were in hot pursuit. Parents were roaring after them, shouting in Dwarven all the while. August began to run, knowing he could catch up to the children and even outrun them without issue, but his gaze kept drifting back to the hermit. The man watched him as he went and raised a hand as a farewell. When night came in Ironforge, you knew it not by the dimming light nor the position of the sun as August had learned in the shadowy woods of Silverpine. In Ironforge, bells would ring and be heard across the city, ringing once for each hour past midday or midnight. Eight strikes marked nighttime, and August made certain Charlotte knew of it. It took a great deal of time to get her back home, and by then the ninth tolling had begun, and Shea mocked the girl’s lateness with a jape. Charlotte acted proud and defiant until the bathing started. Once Shea was done with her, Charlotte’s flesh was red and raw. The girl slipped on her bedclothes with many groans. August couldn’t sleep that night. In his dreams, he ran with his pack, and his heart raced as they neared a kill. He carried a knife in hand, as he always did, but his kin carried only tooth and claw. When the prey fell and it was time to deliver the final blow, he woke in a pool of sweat. Charlotte snored fitfully – when the girl fell asleep, she slept like the dead, only noisier – so August stood up and opened the window to let the cool air in. He could hear a bird’s cry somewhere out in the grey-black sky. August sometimes dreamed of flying instead of hunting, but in every dream, he had a pack again. He was whole again. He looked at Charlotte, feeling guilty. Brinnea was like a mother to him, a guardian and a guide like his first Lupa had been years ago. But she was not his mother. Nobody could replace her, though she had not been of his father’s pack. And Father… The bird’s cry grew louder. August wondered if it was alone, and how long it had been. Birds of prey hunted alone, he knew. Unlike the wolf, the bird did not know family. Did that make the bird happier? Was it better to always be alone? August had no answers, so he tried to tend to his plant a while to ease his mind. But the bird’s cry drew nearer, as though it were right in front of him. A shadow flew over his head, straight through the window and into the room. August’s first thought was of Charlotte. He whirled around, his knife suddenly in hand. The shadow of a bird had vanished and left in its place the hermit from the pool in the Mystic Ward. “Oh, hello,” the one-eyed man muttered, “Bloody windy outside. I thought you might have the window shut.” “Who are you?” August demanded. He wondered if he should shout to bring Waller and Shea, but instead he waited. “You may call me Wilmar, young one, for that’s my name. To call me anything else would be awfully confusing.” The man’s dung-brown hair was long and seemed uncut for many years. It ran down his back to his waist like a fur cape while his beard jutted out in wild tufts. He had only one eye, and that was dark and red where most eyes were white. He placed his gnarled staff against the wall and drew a smoking pipe. “What are you doing in here? Why were you watching us earlier?” August tried to make his voice sound strong and sure, like Brinnea’s, but he must have seemed a little thing to this man, and weak. “I can always sniff out potential, young one. Believe me. And I know what it’s like to feel the call of the wild, only to have it shut away from you like a dog trapped in a kennel or a bird in a cage. That’s why I was watching you. Why I’m here…well, that’s to train you, of course.” A light smoke filled the room as Wilmar lit his pipe and puffed. Charlotte did little more than twitch at the disturbance. August lowered his knife. “You can train me? You can make me a druid?” “Well, the Emerald Dream makes the true druids. I can show you a path and tell you how to walk it, and the rest will be up to you. So, what do you say?” There was little thought in August’s head other than his reply, which was immediate: “Yes!”
  38. 1 point
    “You should put another lightforge net on that hill. The hunter has claws like steel and won’t be hindered by a brisk climb,” Brinnea gestured with the stump of her right arm. She felt a phantom finger point as well, but where it should have been there was only empty air. Christa pushed the wheelchair and nodded at a pair of squires, who quickly set to work at the fortifications. “That should do for the east side. What about the north?” “Trenches and stakes. The land rolls down naturally, but it’s hard to see as you enter. She’ll be eager to attack after missing me the last time. Maybe we’ll get lucky and she’ll fall in. More realistically, it will make it harder for her to maneuver out of camp.” Brinnea felt the need to stand and stretch her legs. It was a maddening feeling, the desire to move what cannot be moved. Christa made an affirmative noise and passed the order along. The knights following the sisters seemed less than amused by this display. The dwarf man wearing captain’s colors least of all. “I won’t just stand idly while this death knight gives commands," he had said when Brin asked to be shown around. Brin had replied, “I am merely pointing out what should be done to safeguard against a more threatening undead foe. The safest precaution would be to leave me in the river you fished me from.” Christa cut the head off that conversation immediately. “That takes care of the parameter,” Christa said. “Now we need to discuss where you’ll be during all of this.” “Dangling from a gallows like meat for a trap,” Brinnea replied without a trace of sarcasm. “We talked about that plan.” “It’s the smartest play.” “Not for you, it isn’t.” Brinnea huffed. “It’s not as if I can move myself around anyway. Keeping me in clear view at all times will ensure that monster will be visible as well.” Christa gestured to the watchtower at the center of the encampment. “At the top of that, you’ll have walls and archers about to protect you. We knights are the best equipped to kill this hunter. You won’t be in any danger.” “Not until she cuts through your archers. I don’t need anyone risking their lives for mine.” The dwarf cleared his throat. “Don’t I get a say in this?” Christa scowled. “You had your say, Captain Redstone. But I have the command here, and I have elected to ignore your say.” “We are of equal rank, Velmon! And what you intend to do here is a serious waste of Silver Hand resources!” “A powerful undead abomination is coming right for us. You think I intend to miss that opportunity?” “From all we have heard of this monster, it only cares to kill your no-limbed, deadweight sister and anyone who gets in the way of her.” Brinnea sighed. “The creature is erratic, dangerous, and subservient to a deceased witch of the Burning Legion. Without anyone giving her orders, she’s like to go on a mad killing spree in distress. The safest thing is to put her down using me as bait.” The dwarf sniffed contemptuously. “Aye, you’d know all about killing sprees, wouldn’t you, Butcher?” Christa opened her mouth to reply, but Brin cut her off with a pleading look. The older sister composed herself. “My plan shall come in effect. I am taking my sister to the roof of the tower. Captain, you shall remain below to lead the shield wall. Dismissed.” Christa wheeled Brin away, leaving the stout knight with a flustered expression. *** “Why did you come this way, Brinnea?” Christa asked as they watched the sun set from the roof of the watchtower. The pink light painted the clouds a dreamy color. “I wanted to see Andorhal,” Brin answered. One last time. “To what end? Home is long gone. All we can do now is try to build a new one.” “I tried that a few times. I’m no longer built for such endeavors.” Christa had nothing to say to that. Brin looked her sister up and down. She had always been tall and thickset, but now she was stern and proud and full of purpose. The Light had a plan for her. I was left alone in the dark, despite my cries for help. “What will you do about the limbs?” Christa asked. “You death knights have means of replacing them, right?” “I haven’t counted myself as one of the Ebon Blade for years,” Brin said, “I won’t even be able to make my own rune blade, let alone have limbs replaced.” “You must know someone who could fix you up.” Brin smiled callously. “Haven’t you heard? I’m a friendless killer. A butcher of innocents. Even more sinister folk don’t want anything to do with me. I’m a waystone for bad luck.” Christa’s brown eyes flashed angrily. “I’ve had enough of that despairing tone of yours. Even as a little kid you were always moaning about your lot in life. I need a straight answer from you. No bullshit. Did you kill the Gilneans in Valsharah?” “I may as well have.” “Explain. Speak up and look at me when you talk. Were you not forced to kill them by Cynthia?” The witch’s golden eyes flashed in the back of her mind. You wanted it, the eyes said. You enjoyed it. “It’s true that she commanded me to go to the camp. I was to scout the defenses and begin an attack if the opportunity was ripe.” “And did you?” Brinnea nodded. “I didn’t know whose camp it was until I got there. Esmerra.” Brin spat the name hatefully. “She deserved to die. She sacrificed me, my daughter, and Parigan to that black-hearted devil-woman. She deceived us hoping to profit from our deaths.” “So you killed her?” “I did. I called for the demons to attack. I unleashed undead on the town. And when I had her cornered I showed no mercy. She died screaming, torn to shreds by ghouls. And I…I felt light afterwards. Like I’d removed a stain from the world and took a weight off my shoulders. I’m sick, Christa. There’s something broken in me that can’t be fixed.” Tears welled in her eyes. Brin lifted a hand to wipe them away, but there was no hand to lift. She cursed and rubbed her face on her bicep. “I don’t know about all that,” Christa said nonchalantly. “Mother always said if you’re sick, go to the healer.” Brin looked up at her. “What are you saying?” “I’ve known men and women who went mad on campaign in Northrend. They went to a man in the Storm Peaks, and when they returned they were back to normal.” Brin was about to ask more when a shout called her attention to the base of the tower. “She’s coming! She tore the cavalry to shreds! Ready yourselves, fools!” Christa swore. “Damn Redstone! I told him to hold position, not send our heavy horse out to scout!” She picked herself from her seat and took up her mace and shield. She looked at Brinnea with eyes set like stone. “Stay here. I’ll be back soon.” Brinnea felt a rush of panic. You don’t know that, she almost said. Then Christa was gone. It was full dark now, and torches shone across the camp below. Shouts told Brin where to look. The hunter moved like a shadow in a sea of shadows. She came from the east, down the hillside. The lightforged net didn’t trigger, so she must have leapt over it. Bits of armor and weapons rained down on the defenders, forcing them to stay put as the hunter charged downhill on her spiderlike limbs. The archers nocked, drew, and loosed. The hunter took two blessed arrows and screeched angrily but did not slow down. She barreled into the shield wall. Brin had been expecting her to cut through the paladins like she had the mercenaries in Arathi, but these knights were made of sterner stuff, and blessed by the Light as well. The hunter retreated, pelted by arrows and weapons that burned her at the touch. She spouted acid but shields of light kept the defenders mostly unharmed. The hunter limped around the side, aiming to climb the side of the tower no doubt. Christa emerged from the tower with a pair of squires attending her, each armed with a shimmering silver lance. Christa herself looked fierce in silver plate and bearing a heavy oaken shield against the creature. The hunter leapt overhead, but Christa slammed her out of the air. The trio cornered the beast against the side of the tower. She seemed to have damaged her limbs, so the beast could not scamper up the side to escape. Christa stepped back as the archers hailed arrows down on the hunter. With one final ear-splitting scream, it was over. Brinnea let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. Brin had two of the archers help her downstairs to her wheelchair, where Christa met her. “A quick one, that,” she commented simply. “I can see how you had so much trouble, so poorly armed as you were.” Brin smiled. “You’re not even out of breath. I’ll admit, you’ve gotten pretty good at what you do.” Christa smirked. “Well, I haven’t been sitting on my hands all these years, have I? Do you want to see the body? It might set your mind at ease.” Brinnea nodded. When they reached the corpse, Brinnea realized for the first time how young the girl looked. She must have been a beauty at one time, but not her mouth was twice as long as a normal one and her teeth were a jagged ruin of metal shards. Her eyes were black and yellow and lifeless, but Brin could swear she saw a hint of gratitude in them, as if she were happy to finally be at rest. “Christa,” Brin said, “What’s the name of that man in the mountains? The one who cured those soldiers?” “They never mentioned a name,” she replied. “But I can tell you where to find him.” As they returned to the tent Brin was recovering in, the death knight glanced out at the vast, dark fields of Lordaeron. In the distance she saw lights that she knew belonged to Andorhal, the place she once called home. And in that dark distance, she glimpsed a grey figure lope across the field. The wolf looked at her with uncertain eyes. They were eyes that spoke to her clearly. This is not the end of the road.
  39. 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. ]]
  40. 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.
  41. 1 point
    Lor'Danel was falling, the last defense before the Horde reached Teldrassil. Pressing her lips together grimly the green haired night elf surveyed the map and markers of her family's assets. People, goods, equipment, knowledge stores; it was too much to move at once but if they could just move things that couldn't be taken now into hiding, they could be retrieved under the noses of the Horde during occupation of the city. Her people were skilled at that. Snapping out orders and arranging plans to the best of her ability she sent clan members out of the hidden burrows with missives, knowing they were racing against time with their lives on the line. Not enough time, never enough time. Janala felt like she was always trying to beat time; first in her own life, then in her husband's life, now for all of her clans' family's' lives. She'd won the first two of those, now... There was a little shudder in the ground under her feet. It'd not been long enough, by her estimations only the most essential things had been moved and non-essential family members should just be packing up or heading out now. Looking about the empty burrow alcove she slowly walked out, her pregnancy slowing her down. She should be leaving soon as well, once everyone had their orders. Giving a little harrumph at the idea of having to use a beast for transportation instead of shifting forms as she usually did the young lady rubbed her rounded abdomen, smiling softly as she murmured reassurances to the baby girl within. Up ahead she could hear running, stumbling footsteps coming towards her. Frowning Janala started at her slow pace up the passageway, stopping when she saw a panicked mother and child round the bend. These clan members were not the ones she expected to see. “Teldrassil...” gasps out the other lady, tears welling up in her eyes. “It's burning! We... we're trapped!” Hugging her young child tightly she trembled. Pursing her lips Janala tried to stay calm, someone had to have a cool head here. “We will exit the burrow and get the nearest Hippogryph, there should...” she was cut off by the other lady's wail. “No, we're trapped, in the burrow! Fire's everywhere outside, in the entrance...” Shaking her head she sobbed, already the smell of smoke was drifting down from the passageway up. Violet skin blanched in color as understanding set in. Placing a hand on the other lady's back she rubbed and asked softly, “Honey, is anyone else in here with us?” A 'no' shake of the head was the reply given. Options were quickly becoming slim. Awkwardly standing there trying to soothe one of her subordinate's and her crying child Janala had many thoughts running through her mind. There was one way out but it wouldn't take all of them, even this small of a group. Selfishly she had wanted to use it for herself to get out just before the Horde came in. It'd take her to her home on Azuremyst, where she could be with her children and her loving husband. Her eyes softened as she thought of them and him, then looked down at the two next to her. She knew what Aruku'd do, crazy as it was. And she knew how he'd feel if he knew she didn't try to save these two when she saved herself. Giving a sad little smile Janala settled heavily next to the pair with a little 'ooopf,' taking and drawing their hands into her own. “Do not cry, everything is going to be alright sweeties.” With one hand the druidess reached into a bag at her side, withdrawing a hearthstone. “This is not set to Darnassus, this will take you to my home on Azuremyst.” “I.. we couldn't you're Head of...” “Shhhh,” Giving the two a reassuring smile she placed the stone into the middle of their joined hands, “We will just see how many it can take at once, perhaps Elune will bless our trip.” With a deep breath she made up her mind. Please Elune, let this work. “Be sure to hold on tightly, ok?” When she'd gotten nods of agreement and saw hope in their eyes the three of them held onto the hearthstone, practically covering its surface with their hands. Smoke wafting in thickened as Janala traced the rune to activate the teleportation device, a soft green glow issuing forth from between the group's hands. Reaching out it enveloped them, whisking away to safety those who had previously been without hope. As the green glow disappeared, only Janala was left behind in the otherwise empty burrow corridor. Gently lowering her hands onto her rounded stomach she began to sing softly, strangely at ease with her fate but still mourning for her child to be. You had your whole life ahead And that I took away from you Was it selfish of me to decide this To save lives precious to another? I wish I could have shown the joys and wonders of the world to you Held your perfect little hands in mine and shared in your triumphs as you grew. But it shall never pass now so to you I give a lullaby, a story of the place where we lived and shall die. In purity, all things are born. The eldest tree was once a tender sapling, And even the stars were young. O Lady Elune, Weep tears so sweet At the thought of the innocence That once was ours. The huntress' horn has sounded! To battle, it calls us now, To the defense of all we hold dear: This city, This well of the moon, This soft song of the evening breeze. it calls us, And we answer. The jewel of our city Lies within their craven grasp. One last time, we shall stand. One final act, we shall perform By the light of the moons, By the flash of our blades, By the song of our arrows, We shall triumph-- Or we shall fall. The tree has fire for leaves And skeletons for branches And its roots feed only upon The ashes of the dead. The winds that sigh through it now are the cries of the dying And this daughter, This lament For horrors unspeakable, For cruelty unimaginable, For this life and the beauty and the grace that once were And shall never be again. By the moons' glow, listen. Beside the river, listen. Holding those you live, listen: To the cries of the dying, To the whisper of the wind over the silent dead, To the song my broken heart will ever sing Of the story of the Tree of the World And the death of all the dreams It once cradled in its mighty boughs. -----------------------------------------------
  42. 1 point
    A story: When I was a kid there was one special Christmas where I reached the end of opening presents and was a bit sad. I had wanted a copy of Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness and it didnt show up. I had gotten to play it as a demo at microcenter and stop-n-save (an early discount predecessor of EB games) and I fell in love with it. I talked to my parents incessantly about it, begging them for it. But, that was also the year that my family had been introduced to "A Christmas Story". So, what my old man did was hide one last present under the easy chair and gave me the, "look at that . . . Is that another present?" routine from the film. As far as childhood christmas gifts go, this one is the best one I ever got. I played WC2 over and over again, for hours on end, over the course of years. I did the WC3 thing and enjoyed that as well. But my nostalgic bend was always towards WC2. When WoW came out I had a choice, Alliance or Horde. The competitive nature of the game wasn't lost on my highschool self and so I knew I would pick and stick to one side. In WC2 I played human more than orc. Then, through the WC3 campaign I never forgot Lordaeron and took a special joy in playing the human campaign. There was one character however who made the decision quite easy for me. Garithos. He was the lynchpin in how I understood what the Alliance and Horde were at their core. So the choice became easy. I would play as the Forsaken. That was who I played as in WC2. I was also drawn to the lost history elements of the ruined lordaeron, strathholm, hillsbrad, alterac and plaugelands. When BC came out my commitment only grew deeper, I now got to play as the elves I played in WC2 as well. Now, when I log in and look out over Zuldazar, I suppose some small part of me is still playing the Alliance, way back in the 1990s. I guess I am now the Horde that was once the Alliance. Lok'tar Ogar
  43. 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.
  44. 1 point
    The druid of the claw coughs blood up onto my gloves. Her purple skin fades to a dull blue, much closer to mine than any of her race. As I look up and around the fields of Lordaeron I see them...us...dying everywhere. I am Kenjin. A Zandali Troll. A part of the Horde. A member of Sanctuary. That means a lot to me. More importantly, I am a Druid. I have sworn to help who I can and heal any who need it. My true loyalty is to life and nature. I will keep any I can alive. I’ve spent years working with Druids of every race to ensure there is balance in the world. As I hold the night elf, dying, in my arms, I try to figure out how we let it get this far. I feel as if we, the druids, have failed. There has always been a common bond between us, no matter our race or faction. We serve nature. When the “Warchief” struck down Malfurion I was torn. I was furious. He was a symbol of Druidry, not just alliance Druidry, but for all of us. The elf coughs, sputters, and dies in my arms. My healing arts can’t overcome the massive blood loss. I say a blessing as I lay her down to rest on the field of battle, searching for someone I can save. There is a small troll boy, maybe sixteen, but he looks much younger. I run over and begin healing him, hoping I can do something in the face of this stupidity. I look down at his face. ~~~~~~~ The night elf girl looks up at me, confused and hurt. I helped her shift out of her bearform, but that may not have been a good idea. The weapons stuck in her hide that were an inconvenience as a bear are debilitating as an elf. As she looks up at me, I begin a rejuvenation on her. The pain on her face eases and she lets her head relax to the side. That is a mistake. She sees the tree. I’ve been avoiding looking at it. I can’t stand the shame. The feeling of failure. The betrayal of everything I’ve ever stood for. The little elf sees it and collapses. Her wails rip my heart apart. I can’t meet her eyes, right up until the moment her cries die out, and her body goes slack. ~~~~~~~ I lower the troll to the ground, lift my mask and brush the tears off my face. There are more dead or injured here than I could help in a lifetime. That doesn’t mean I should stop. I drop my bear mask back in place and run to the next downed person. A dwarf this time. I start again. ~~~~~~~ I’ve saved a few, most have died. I’m exhausted. I can’t stop now, there are too many that still need help. The fields of Lordaeron are covered with the dead and wounded of both sides. At this point I’m reluctant to consider myself a part of the Horde. As I bend over a human, trying to return her to life, I think back to the druids I have gotten to know since the legion war began. We had, if not peace, then at least a solid understanding between druids of all races. Under Malfurion’s eye we had a community that worked for the betterment of the world. The girl coughs and her eyes open. There is at least one more saved. The gates of Undercity open and a team of Forsaken emerge. They have green, glowing tanks on their backs. I pick up the human girl, looking for someone to hand her off to before I find out what the Forsaken are here to do. As I’m walking toward a group of dwarves I begin to cough. A green fog floats around me. My head goes light and I wonder how we ended up on the ground. My last thought is of a burning tree.
  45. 1 point
    "You heard the High Overlord," the orcish grunt said with an arm pointed toward their target. "Find the civilians. Get them out." Vilmah had answered the call, and already she was uneasy. It was almost a relief when the Warchief sent her and a few hundred others to find Saurfang, the one orc she trusted to speak his mind in this madness. He was gone when they attacked Astranaar, but he wouldn't allow things to escalate to that level on his watch. When she arrived to his orders that they find night elf civilians and bring them in for questioning, part of her stomach settled. It was still nauseating that the Horde was attacking the Kaldorei, that they marched toward their tree in an effort to secure it for their own purposes, but at least no civilians would be killed this time. It was, of course, difficult to get them to trust her. She was an orc, and a strange looking one at that. Smaller than most, her robot arm and purple tabard did little to soothe the fears of the citizens that she found huddled and hidden. They stared at her with horrified eyes that had already witnessed the savage butchery of the Horde, and in their eyes she saw her fears; that the Horde would always be known for this, their cruelty, and how easy it was to show them just how cruel they could be. Why in the world would the trust her, after seeing other orcs like herself tear down their walls and burn their homes? All around, she heard shouts of conflict; trolls yelling in Zandali, relishing in the slaughter of elves. The Forsaken she saw wore mangled grins as they ripped apart guards with magic and blades, and even the noble blood elves covered bodies with arrows like some strange artistic display. She couldn't just extend her hand and ask these people to trust her, not when she knew what awaited them. "I take you safety," she said in broken Common, though it was clear by Vilmah's expression that hope was fading fast. The elves she found were a mother and daughter, hidden in the corner of their store room. The older of the two was already stained with blood, perhaps from the child's father. Their glowing eyes were rimmed with red and tears were still glistening on their cheeks as they looked at this small orc with her extended hand and broken Common in disbelief. The mother turned to her daughter and nodded sadly, then said something in their language that Vilmah could not understand. Choking back a sob, she and the little girl put something in their mouths, which Vilmah couldn't quite understand until it was too late. "No, wait!!" But they already swallowed, and the effects of the pill didn't take long. The mother clutched her child and sobbed, and the child looked strangely serene as she stated at Vilmah accusingly. Her eyes said "you did this", and in that moment, Vilmah would not have been able to argue otherwise. Leaving the little family to their peaceful death, the blademaster stepped out of their house and looked for more civilians. By then, most of the houses were on fire and there would be few she could find in the wreckage, but she went in anyway. The bare skin of her shoulders and torso blistered with the heat of the burning buildings, and her metal arm grew uncomfortably hot as she used it to break open doors. A few civilians she found were less intent on taking their own lives, but at least half a dozen saw Vilmah as a threat, and whatever "mercy" the Horde would grant as a torture worse than death. In those situations, Vilmah wanted to stop them. Surely, hope was still a possibility? But she knew imprisonment, she knew what sort of life awaited them in the shackles of the Horde, and even with his greatest attempts at mercy, Saurfang could not protect them. Maybe they are better off dead.. she thought with a sick feeling, the nausea returning. When she gathered as many as she could find, Vilmah returned to where she last saw Saurfang. He had already mounted his wolf long ago and was gone. She was going to ask what was wrong, but another orcish grunt pointed over her shoulder. "Look!" When she turned, the sound of Saurfang riding ahead echoed in her ears. The tree was aflame. In the distance, across the water, the home of thousands of elves burned without any sign of stopping. From such a distance, she could not see the people's faces, but she understood their predicament. There weren't enough boats, enough portals, for all of them to escape. There would be casualties, and they would be massive. Vilmah's heart felt like a stone in her chest, cold and heavy, as she listened to the cheers around her. Most of the Horde celebrated their victory as the civilians, some of whom Vilmah saved, looked on in horror as their tree grew bright red and lit the sky like a giant torch. A few Horde did not celebrate. They passed each other worried glances, perhaps ashamed of this act, perhaps afraid of the retaliation that would surely meet them. Vilmah just stared. Saurfang.. Whistling for her wolf, Edmund answered her almost immediately. He had been waiting for her nearby, hidden in the forest among the other animals that somehow escaped the wrath of war. Climbing on his back, Vilmah kicked him into a run and followed the path left behind by Saurfang. She had to see him, she had to see his face. When she did, she noticed that his face was contorted, enraged. He had been screaming something, but now it had passed. What did she miss? Saurfang, she thought to herself, tears blinding her. You coward.. you fucking coward.. you knew that was going to happen, didn't you? You knew, and you didn't even try to stop her.. Was any of it true? Maybe not, but the anger burned in her chest and when she arrived to the scene of the Warchief, Nathanos and Saurfang staring at their handiwork, she thought perhaps that she caught a glimpse of the High Overlord's face displaying regret. Shame. I should kill her, she thought to herself. I should kill her, now. I may not get through the dark rangers, I may not get through Nathanos, hell I may not get through Saurfang but I should try.. The thoughts were almost as comforting as they were impossible. Vilmah remained yards behind them, hidden among the rest of the Horde as they celebrated or mourned their "victory". As much as she wanted to make the attempt, she knew it would fail. Whatever skill she had as a blademaster was no match for the banshee. Not alone, and not with so many allies surrounding her. Sylvanas was untouchable, and unchallenged. Again, she looked at Saurfang, but he seemed lost in his own thoughts. in his face, Vilmah remembered the look she saw in Thrall when last she saw him; broken by his own decisions. Saurfang wanted to die in battle, that much was known to the Horde, and his age showed with every line in his face and the silver of his hair, but never before had he seemed so very old to her. Even his muscles felt smaller, weaker, and with none of the taut energy that the High Warlord often displayed. Here was an orc she respected, trusted even, but once again that trust was burned to ash. Like the world tree, Vilmah felt her faith in the Horde burn once again. Her desire to bring peace to her people went up in smoke like the thousands of screaming elves, and she had to remind herself that somewhere, her own people would be waiting for her. Waiting for something. Hesitantly, she looked away from Saurfang. Another hero gone.
  46. 1 point
    There are not many things in the lore that would have my brain exploding this much; from the perspective of someone who knew the Grim best in 2007 and 2005, this is absolutely shocking and sad news. It'll take a few days to process, I think, but that's okay. I look forward to seeing your continued prosperity, even if it's not on Twisting Nether. [I poured a glass of wine for the first time in weeks to and for this.] Peace through [Cheers and] Annihilation, - Alekander
  47. 1 point
    The building was on fire and it was not his fault. He would have been disappointed if he had not been running for his life. An arrow snatching at the hem of his robes made an unnecessary point about the gravity of his situation. " Stand and fight, COWARD!" The sentinel demanded, nocking another arrow and firing it in rapid succession. The shot missed his ear by a matter of inches, causing him to instinctively jerk away in a delayed and thoroughly pointless reflex. Qabian blamed his exhaustion. The smoke in the air was getting worse, his eyes had begun to water and breathing was growing more and more difficult. Perhaps that was why the "legendary" archers were shooting so poorly. A useless byproduct saving his life from an enraged woman. It could have been the exhaustion from the battle or the adrenaline induced hysteria of the chase but the thought caused the magister to start laughing. He was rewarded for his momentary lapse in focus with an armored fist across his cheek. The sentinel had finally caught up to him. Any noise of protest he could have made was silenced as the heel of her boot pressed down painfully upon his ribs, driving the air from his lungs. " You think this is funny?" She demanded as she drew the arrow back and took aim, from such a distance she was not likely to miss. " No, this just reminds me of my career in teaching. Though i'd call it more hilarious than funny." Another chuckle was cut short as the Kal'dorei put more pressure on his aching ribs. "Shut. Up." The woman snarled as she stared down the grinning mage. " Or what? You will shoot me? Hardly a threat after-Hngh!" He let out a pained cough as she pressed down on his ribs again and bared her sharpened teeth. The woman looked as exhausted as he felt. Grime and blood coated the plates of her armor and left uneven splashes across the exposed purple flesh. Now that he had a moment to finally look at his would be executioner, he could see shaking limbs. She was tired, she was hurt, and she was racked with anxiety from the slaughter. " I thought your kind believed in honor! Where is the honor in this?" She snapped at him. It took him a moment to realize she expected an answer. He kept his surprise hidden behind his usual infuriating smirk. He needed time, just a little bit more to catch his breath, and in her anger she had give him exactly that. He did not have the energy to formulate a proper lie or story to stall her. Between the lack of oxygen and the delirious feeling born of a mixture of panic and hope he could barely even think. He would never tell anyone what happened that night but he would continue to blame that for what he blurted out. " Do you believe in the boogeyman too?" He babbled as he saw the string stretch back in preparation. The question earned him a slight reprieve as she drew her boot back enough to allow him to breathe but still keep him pinned. " What?" She demanded. " What are you talking about?" " The Boogeyman. The monster under the bed or in the closet of children. A figment of their imagination created by their fear of the dark." He hissed out as he sucked in a grateful breath of smoke-tinged air. He was not sure what annoyed him more, the straws he grasped for to stall the woman or the fact that it seemed to be working. " No child should fear the dark." She snapped, still trying to puzzle out what the man was talking about. " But they do." He insisted, feeling a familiar tingling as the exhausted reserves began to fill drop by drop. " They use it to explain their own fear because a fear of nothing is ridiculous! It's a faulty construct." His rant was halted as the boot pressed down upon his ribs again, the sentinel controlled the flow of the conversation and she wanted him to know it. " That's what it is to you? Nothing?" " Less than nothing," Qabian confirmed with a wheeze, expending what little air he had left. He fought down a surge of panic as the bow was drawn back another inch in preparation. " Think about it!" He wheezed, hiding his relief when she relaxed a fraction of an inch. " The orcs are the ones shouting it the loudest and what are they? The ones with the most to make up for. If not for this concept what would they have left? Nothing." The end of the statement was barely a whisper as his head began to spin The sentinel eased up on his ribs enough to let him draw in another choking lungful of air which he sucked in greedily and promptly hacked up a globule of dirty saliva. " Nobody wants that they are irrational or horrible. Everyone wants to be right. So what do you do with that much baggage? You make up a code. Make up some justification for why you've done what you've done and pretend that you're not as bad as they say because you have one noble sounding concept to cling to. Honor is easily forgotten but the first thing to be cried out about. It's something you use against them even though YOU don't believe we have it in the first place!" " What's your point?" She snapped. Her ears twitched as one of the support beams let out a groan of warning and a high pitched squeal. " My point is that you are trying to insult me with air. You are trying to hit me with something that does not EXIST save for in the imagination of frightened orcs. Honor is nothing more than a word shouted out by everyone so they can pretend they aren't awful people. The Horde is awful, the alliance is awful, you are awful..." " And you are any better?" She demanded as she drew the bow taught, having reached the end of her patience with the mage's explanation. " I never said that..." He let out a raspy, unsettling laugh as he felt the spell take shape. It was a match compared to a forest fire in terms of what he usually wielded but he had nothing else. "In fact... I am far worse." Even before he had finished the statement, Qabian had begun to move. He pulled his head to the side as he tightened his chest and twisted his body to throw her off balance. The meager energy he had gathered coalesced into little more than a needle of ice, no larger than a toothbrush. As he twisted and she released her shot, the needle found the exposed joint in her armor. The arrow she held pierced the stone with a deafening shriek and a spray of sparks as the metal scraped the rock. His captor let out a shout of pain as the ice pierced her flesh, forcing her to remove the leg from his chest. He scrambled to a standing position as she fell into a seated position and let out a wordless shriek of outrage and drew another arrow The creak of a drawn bowstring was drowned out by the crack of a ceiling beam finally losing its fight with the flame. A fraction of a second was wasted as she looked up in surprise at the buckling ceiling, another fraction was wasted by panic and the torn desire between punishing the blood elf and her own survival, and then time ceased to matter as the flaming debris buried her in a roar of falling wood, flame, and stone. Exhausted by the effort and desperate for clean air, Qabian staggered out of the collapsing building, clutching his mangled and now singed ear. There was no time to even make sure the job was finished. If any of the other sentinels spotted him he was done for. He doubted talking about boogeyman would work on another one. Qabian sucked in a lungful of clean air and adjusted his rumpled robes before removing his hearthstone from his bag. This was one story of many that people would never hear. Saved by the faults in two constructs in one night? Ridiculous!
  48. 1 point
    Skullduggery War, a constant within the world of Azeroth, something guaranteed like the tide's ebb and flow. Causes of war are negligible once it starts, and the moral code of justice only caters to the winning side. After all, the flavor text of history books is decided by the winning side, is it not? So don't delude yourself with a sense of justice and mercy, just focus on surviving, winning, making it to the end of the day. It's rare to find folks that can see events like these for what they truly are. Those talented visionaries are sought out, branching from all walks of life to empower each other. Standing as one seafaring unit, survival in this ever-changing world is guaranteed.. Skullduggery Mercenary Corporation is a multi-faceted company of talented on-call work. With a recent up front payment, Skullduggery has an extended contract working as an elite privateering force for the betterment of The Horde (Disclaimer: This is by no means to be confused with Piracy. Skullduggery is a licensed company that employs legitimate work). With recent events causing a disturbance between the Alliance and Horde, a call to arms has been established. Assassins, criminals, heroes, brawlers, privateers, thugs, nobility, soldiers, and even the incredibly foolhardy and brave. All walks of life are trained, forged in the fires of combat, and prepared for anything to come. All walks of life can commit to the code. All walks of Life can be dedicated to the Defense of the Horde... But only the elite can truly become a Skullduggery Sailor. With the ever-encroaching forces of the Alliance seeking to destroy, rout, and enslave the Horde as their resolution for peace, Skullduggery is a fighting force that attacks from where enemies deemed impossible. Suicidal missions, special operations, chaotic battles, and constant calls for strike teams at the ready are what Skullduggery brings to the table. And of course, for the risks taken, reward is a must. Those that seek the lucrative life of a skilled mercenary should seek out none other than Skullduggery! Enlist today! {OOC} Skullduggery is a passion project guild being built for Mythic Dungeons, Casual PvP, World PvP, and RP amidst this all. We look to be laid back and relaxed, allowing player freedom and fun in and out of game. The Guild Alignment is officially Chaotic Neutral, as many ranges of contracts for work will be available, some on the table, and others below it. We are part of a community of RP guilds looking to bring more players into the mix for BfA. Requesting Employment? Rules: We are laid back, looking for more to join in on the random fun. In character is where RPers will see the obvious rank and file of a naval company, but ooc will always be open to chill. Race: All Canon Horde races are accepted. Character: All ranges of alignment are accepted as Skullduggery employs a melting pot of culture, however each member must be capable of following a code of conduct. This code is for the safety and functionality of Skullduggery employees, therefore cannot be abused. (Treason and infighting are not accepted character traits) Classes: All canon classes are accepted alongside flavor to such classes. (example: An orc monk who identifies as a Brawler is fine, as Brawler still fits within the ideals of a Windwalker Monk) PvP Conduct: War Mode will be something encouraged, but not forced. WPvP events will of course be in War Mode. With War Mode being on, attacking enemy players is indeed encouraged, but keep this separate from obvious bad sportsmanship (Like whisper harassment and character stalking). Code of Conduct: Complete the Contract. Bring each and every contractor home. Do not stand in the way of a contract. Do not stand in your fellow employees way. Work together, survive, endure, and cash out together. At the end of the day, Success and Survival are all that matters... Contact: Chestius of the Ravenholdt Server. we have a Discord for most of our RP as well as Communications. We are looking for all sorts of players interested in both gaming as well as RP. No prior experience required, in fact, we encourage all to jump in and give it a try. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Leadership: 1. Captain Chestius, Owner of Skullduggery and Captain of her Flagship. -Age: 60+ -Profession: Hunter/Sniper -Years in Service: N/A
  49. 1 point
    Update as of 7/3/18 After the war against the Legion, Sanctuary's leadership role changed from Julilee Liene to Vilmah Bloodborne. With Julilee (and her husband Kex'ti) gone, the guild ultimately decided to move from the hall they procured in Dalaran to three distinctive locations: Shattrath The Sanctuary embassy on Shattrath is a small building with rooms for offices and meetings. Managed by Cerryan Vyel, it stands as a meeting place for different representatives to speak diplomatically and also serves as a guild meeting point. Ashtotem Village Ashtotem is a small village on the eastern mesas of the Thousand Needles, ironically constructed in the same fashion as Thunder Bluff; one large central mesas with a few others, connected by rope bridges. There are a few winding paths to the water below, as well as a large cave entrance to the main bluff. Unlike the Bloodhoof capiital, however, most of the other mesas are used for farming with only a few tents, teepees, and longhouses occupying them. Ashtotem is home to Sanctuary's hospital, a large structure that accepts patients from both factions. The village itself considers itself neutral, and serves all people regardless of their affiliation. Ashtotem's chieftan is Baern Ashtotem. Razor Hill The Sanctuary barracks lie just outside of Razor Hill. It consists of a two level artificial cave system armed with runic wards. There is ad dark iron gate set into the stone facing Razor Hill itself, with living spaces that includes a communal dorm style bathroom, showers, office space, a kitchen, and bedrooms on the first floow. Workshops and training rooms are on the floor below. The guardian and creator of this space is Garinth Thunderhammer. Officers of Sanctuary: Warboss Vilmah Bloodborne Guardian Baern Ashtotem Guardian Cerryan Vyel Guardian Garinth Thunderhammer Field Commander Mardalius Anterius Quartermaster Hadara Consul Rhakash
  50. 1 point
    until
    Join us in Kharanos in celebration of this year's Winter Veil. Bring a gift if you wish to participate in the gift exchange, dress your best for a photo op, and recall a favorite holiday memory to share with the crowd and help see us to a light hearted and fun evening.