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About Scythemia

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  • Birthday 02/20/1992
  1. Tesonii smiles, a little coldly. She considers the question before writing: "She's fair."
  2. Tesonii laughs. In between the tears, she manages to write, taking a pull of his drink all the while: "What he did to Filora more than makes up for it."
  3. Tesonii twists her lips to one side, then the other. She shrugs, and brushes: "She's nice. Not much of a lady, though."
  4. “What’s this?” Aaren reached above the bed and pointed at a small gray folio held between a pair of candles. The only book Aaren had ever seen Tesonii read was a black notebook which presumably served as the woman’s book of collected arcana. Tesonii looked up at Aaren from her corner of the sheets. She twisted her lips to the side, and thought to the priest. Oh, it’s nothing important. Aaren caught it between her fingertips and pulled it along with herself back into the cot. Hey! Wait! The priest chuckled as Tesonii tried to get a hand around the gray thing. Aaren, however, put a hand just over the knight’s navel, rendering her a tickled incapacitated slice of elf. “Huh. Burdens of Silence: A Discourse in the Study in the Magic of Rune Magic,” said Aaren. “By Tesonii…You wrote this! What is it? What’d you write?” Aaren exclaimed. “Or am I not allowed to read it?” You can if you want…It’s just…Kind of old and outdated; and more than a bit presumptuous. Of me, I mean. Not you. Aaren lay back against the pillow and squinted at the small text on the page, and began to read. “Title…author…date submitted. Wow, you weren’t kidding. All the way back in Northrend…” *** ... Manuscript Rejected Justification The work contains a substantial amount of needless history and conjecture. While there are certainly some merits to the techniques proposed by the author, a lack of prior credential, Kirin Tor membership, or necessity of the methods demerit this thesis as worthy of the archives, to say nothing of the potential for contamination or sabotage inherit in the techniques discussed. Abstract Magical tradition from all walks of life ultimately centers itself on the manipulation of mana. However, the effects and methods used vary so considerably as to produce spell effects, as well as their terminal results. While magical schools can broadly be disseminated into stylistic or origin-based approaches, the preponderance of modern arcane spellcasting relies on somatic and verbal cadences, as well as resonant (symbolic, in Kirin Tor standard parlance) foci. Mental (emotive, logical, thought, or any numerous) other components too serve as prominent motifs in the formation of spells. However, exposure to recent has shown that arcane spellcasting as a method, rather than a particular school of effect, does not exist in a vacuum, and in fact represents but one means in parallel with shamanism, the heavily modified school of necromancy, and fel magic, to say nothing of long-standing druidic tradition or the minor arcana present in Zandalari Loa ritual or shadow and illusory techniques employed by rogues. Despite this, magical symbols, or runes, are an inexplicably repeated facet of spellcasting, used to focus power or intuition in the execution of spells. This treatise investigates advanced and alternate uses for runes as a spell component, and broadly as its own classification of magic and how those techniques can be used to better magical opportunity and warfare across and beyond Azeroth. Introduction Magic can be classified broadly into method, and school.(1,2) Method-based classification refers to arcane magic as the specific implementation techniques used by standard mages, regardless of the actual effect invoked.(3) Subspecialties within this sorting system exist, such as the distinction between conjuration and transmutation spells; both of which may create or cause an effect of frost, but ultimately, frost under this system is an effect, not an overall descriptor.(3,4) School based classification refers only to the terminal effect.(2,5) Under the prior example, while one spell might create a burst of frost from an otherwise sunny beach, and the second may cool a patch of water to freeze solid, ultimately, both would fall under the distinction of a school of frost. Though this distinction becomes somewhat muddied when considering an overlap between substance output (such as shadowflame or frostfire), the definition is readily apparent to a casual observer.(5,6) Each definition, however, ties back to a relatively common five set of components used to focus mana an invoke a spell’s effect. It should be noted that further, this study primarily emphasizes arcane magic as an alternate to all faith-based divine magic. While all spellcasting in some way requires an innate talent, but arcane is unique in that the caster acts as a sole medium, whereas other techniques rely on a spiritual, elemental, or fel-based intermediate. While some might balk at this quantification of fel magic as divine, it should be noted that warlocks use insubstantial intermediates (demons, souls) as well as more conventional arcane techniques. However, this is relatively trivial, and will not be addressed in depth as compared to modifications to the standard conception of a “mage,” which may be produced by this study. Somatic components refer to physical motions.(7) There are two imperatives to this method: channeling, and shaping.(8,9) Channeling involves altering complex chained mana reactions through physical motion, in the same way that the body naturally alters bloodflow throughout the body. (1,9) Shaping is a more literal conduction of latent spells, and by both physical and mental prowess, bending an effect into a proper output. (8, 10) Mental components, which can be emotive, intuitive, or logical, are internal, and supply a necessary intent and force of will to the magic being released.(7) This is relatively self-explanatory, but relatively remiss in the arcane, which lends itself to a persistent mental state rather than concessions to mantra or fluctuating mental states of rage or dread. (11) Focus components, or symbolic/resonance components.(7) Focus components include weapons, such as the common mage’s staff or wand, as well as more traditional symbolic components, such as mirrors for illusion spells, or effigies in scrying. (12) These act both as a means of conveyance, and reduce the overall distortion, and therefore exertion, necessary to provoke a desired spell effect.(2, 13) Verbal components, which are of singular interest to this study, comprise both a mental cadence tool, as well as specification of intent and resonance.(7) Essentially, the spell’s verbal components not only have a synergistic effect with the rest of the spell’s casting, but also, in some, or perhaps even the majority, of cases, respond to some overarching, underlying Words of Creation, which are invoked and ease the defiance of unshaped reality.(1,7,8) However, regardless of the truth or mythology necessary in verbal spell components, they nonetheless underlie the vast majority of spells.(14) While this is a cultural phenomenon as much as it is an underlying one, it has several limitations, namely improper pronunciation, zones of silence, or obvious points of interruption.(1,10) However, one facet, often overlooked in most spellcasting, are runes. Azerothian Runes Despite the prevalence of runes in magical locations, they are mostly used as foci for external, proximal mana, rather than as a conductive force. (2,3,12) However, the semblance of the written word to vocal speech is not to be discounted. This is equally true in rune-writing. Runes are used in warding spells, or in clothing, or on rods; mostly as a conduit for long-duration spells or often repeated ones.(1,2,14) Despite their underutilization, two cultures in particular have profound runic casting traditions: dwarves, and tauren.(15,16) Dwarves, due to their deep adoration and investigations into their Titan forebears, and tauren, with an innate connection to the natural world, and, somewhat paradoxically, its arcane leylines, both share a profound tradition of tattooing runes of magic and semi-religious meaning.(15,16) Utilization of these runic tattoos are a rare, but well-documented art in the annals of unusual spellcasting. (15,16,17) While the body is used as a medium for magic due to its innate mana, runemasters specialize in minimizing both the verbal and somatic components of their spells, so profound are the powers of their runic tattoos. (15,16) While only one race each, and not the most populous, of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms adopted this art, and even fewer among them mastered it, the fact that exists points to a unified, original runic spellcasting language. Perhaps, given the reliance on rune-based magic the Alliance, Horde, and Kirin Tor have encountered in Northrend, it stems from the cold and dark continent. Northrend: Magnataur, Nerubian, Tuskarr, and Vrykul Lithomancy Reports from Northrend in the intervening period of the Third War and Scourge Invasion of late are primarily focused on the nature of the Scourge and other such factors as hostile natives and inclement weather. Because of this, it took the greater presence of the Horde and Alliance alike to create a genuine push to uncover large-scale cultural and archeological studies. The results of this are best left to other documents, but I’ve included hereafter my own studies and analyses. The supporting documentation and fragments are attached for repository, while a later section demonstrates the arcane formula and possible application of the knowledge obtained. The Tuskarr have been noted to use runes. This provides a contra-example, as their runes primarily function as meditation tools for their primarily shamanistic culture. Given the alleged Titan activity in Northrend, it seems reasonable that, even in non-arcane usage, that runes as a function of magic spread throughout the region. Magnataur have primarily founded a culture for themselves in the caves surrounding and under the Borean Tundra. While their habits as a people are vile and in most cases prove them to be worth little more than worthy of extermination, they do display evidence of extensive usage of runes in their casting. To those with the ability to perceive flows of arcane magic, it’s readily obvious that the rituals they conduct aren’t so much to charge a rune with a persistent effect as it is used as an additional implement in their magic. The Nerubians, to the extent that Azjol-Nerub has been discovered, actively use runes in addition to vocal components. In the same way that the Tuskarr do, however, it would seem that their voices are capable of subvocalizing, and while magic undoubtedly exists, and has been developed in isolation for their culture, the unifying factor of the Lich King and the subsequent homogenization of their culture cannot be discounted, nor can the efficacy of their spells. Very well-equipped, and very canny heroes have fallen to mere rank and file spellcasters in Ahn-Katet, and that in and of itself should demonstrate the efficacy and necessity of mastering this form of magic. Most significantly, of all the cultures so far described, are the Vrykul. Unlike the others, whose magic is non-arcane (Tuskarr), primitive and misunderstood, or reliant on their huge physical strength (Magnataur), or are inscrutable and located in dangerous abodes in the extreme (Nerubians), the Vrykul represent a culture without too great of a difference from the Forsaken or even more jingoistic Orcs. Though the subject of their veneration is horrible, their magical traditions are ancient, and well developed. Their skalds deploy runes in the heat of battle, and the symbols inscribed on their weapons are especially potent, even in the hands of non-mages. Vrykul rune technology is prodigious, and represents a deep link between words and deed, and their extensive reliance on it, rather than divine magic (omitting the sea Vrykul, to wit), demonstrates the ubiquity and potential for use. But most importantly, it demonstrates that while they use verbal components as a triggering aspect of their spellcasting, it is the runes themselves which play the vital focus in conjunction with their somatic; they’ve used a focus material to replace, or at least very much hedge, one of the two primary components used in their magic. It is likely for this reason, and the simple, direct, and reliable nature of Vrykul rune magic, which was what prompted Arthas to adapt and reproduce those spells on the third generation of Death Knights. Death Knights and Rune Magic Death Knights and their runeblades are a field of growing study, particularly the Acherus defectors of the Ebon Blade. But the discussions of their psychology and physical makeup, to say nothing of the investigations into their loyalty dominate the discussion. What is of far more important interest is the application of their magic. Unlike previous examples of the Scourge vanguard, the Horde and Alliance loyal knights have access to a form of magic that is so far unheard of. While any soldier can pick up an enchanted blade and use it to augment their skills, here is an example of an undead rebirth granting access to new magical prowess. Of course, the resurrection is not the source of the magic. The person so afflicted by their ascension does not gain access to new powers. Instead, the runeblades they use are functional in and of themselves as a potent bastion of arcane might. While historically runeblades have been used in elven society (17), this demonstrates a full new breed of caster using minimal somatic and non-extant verbal usage. While, undoubtedly, some of the Knights of the Ebon Blade were spellcasters in life, and have picked up and refined those same habits to accommodate their new powers, many death knights did not have such ability. Investigations into the nature of runeblades could serve to augment weak spellcasters, and allow those with the will and mindset to wield them access to arcane power. In particular, mage-knights such as the Spellbreakers of Silvermoon, or arcane duelists of Prath, could easily benefit from a supplemental source of power. But, to speak of such things invokes an overall sense of warfare in perpetuity rather than using magic to make a better world. Though this thesis discusses rune magic as a potential way of increasing potency of a vanguard, it also bears reiteration that Vrykul magic was robust enough to avoid the use of complex verbal components. To a trained caster, a runeblade so prepared with Vrykul (or Titan, or wholly new!) inscriptions may serve to give magic accessibility back to those who’ve lost it due to emergency blood transfusion, or those who have been rendered mute by trauma or other circumstances. There is no need to create a bloodthirsty, semi-sentient construct to facilitate this. Additionally, the standard start and stop of a normal spell cast limits the caster’s mobility at best, and prevents concurrent casting at worst. Rune magic poses no such limitation, and it’s possible to queue up future spells even in the midst of casting, allowing for swifter control and response. Simple research into, and greater understanding of, this unexplored aspect of arcane magic promises to give the tools to those who are poised to do the greatest amount of good, and restore what they once might have lost so that they may better serve in the restoration of what others have likewise been deprived. Future Applications and Sample Arcana Due to the potential to overcome traditional obstacles to verbal casting, greater endowment to the lay citizen, and ultimately a greater, more in-depth understanding of arcane magic in general, rune casting is a noble and amicable goal to pursue. To demonstrate several practical combat applications of this method that I’ve developed, I’ve transcribed several sample spells either in common use and repurposed under a rune system, or developed with only the runes I’ve managed to master. The runes necessary, as well as somatic conduits and logic structures have been tabulated and calculated in the appendix, following the references used. Offensive Spells: Arcane Riposte: A momentary shield that is a runic variant of the common frost and molten armor spells. A bit more proactivity is necessary, but the encumbrance on the caster is far lower. When raised, the arcane riposte soaks the majority of force from strikes, and reflects some of that damage back onto the attacker. Contagious Rime: Easily incorporated into other spells or activated on its own, this spell relies on the smallest fractional necromancy to leave a lingering wound on subjects struck by similar rune spells. Furthermore, the spell’s tendency to seek out localized body heat allows it to spread to nearby subjects with mana. Evacuate: This spell forces the air inside a subject’s lungs to forcibly expel itself. At the simplest level of application, it is a remarkably reliable, if basic interrupt. Unlike traditional counterspells, it silences the target for a few moments afterward, preventing all magical response, rather than merely single school. At higher intensities, the resulting pain can stagger or stun the target for several moments. Mire: This spell creates a widespread convection layer beneath the ground, causing immediate disruption of most non-metallic floors, slowing and burning those caught in the zone. Reave: This invocation is very range limited, but impresses a mental symbol the caster thinks of into the target. For practical purposes, this allows the target to be the focal point of further casting, allowing for multiple tactical applications. It also greatly augments the wielder’s strike with the degree of mana they choose to expend. Slow Mana: Based off of the mana burn spell, this uses frost or a similar medium to disrupt the helical structures of most support magic, temporarily suppressing it, or stripping it entirely. Support Spells: Dampening: This spell demonstrates the ability to activate runes even under paralysis. It restores careful control to the caster’s muscles, and lasts for a few moments more, reducing the pain from current wounds. Galvanize: Though arcane magic isn’t much for healing (see Cauterize and its variants), this technique allows the subject to momentarily resist falling unconscious. It’s important that they seek regular treatment, but given how difficult spur of the moment healing is after someone has fallen, it could prove to be a vital component in any caster’s arsenal. Gravitation: In a separate submission, Bakerson and his circle submitted a particularly interesting thesis on arcane manipulation of spatial effects. (18) This adapts their gravitation spell to the runic system. This allows a momentary build of energy that yanks a target towards the caster, which has useful application on allies, but is of particular interest to the melee adept. As this is a gravitational, rather than spatial force, it is much more difficult to resist and far less complex than forcefully teleporting an enemy. Conclusions As demonstrated, rune magic has a wide range of applications as both offensive and defensive magic, opens arcane secrets to a wider array of spellcasters, and is underexplored, allowing for rapid and immediate innovation, particularly when coupled with extant techniques. This submission, I hope, will also allow for more compassionate study of these new sources of magic as possible tools for the betterment of all. References 1. Scarlius, J. Of Method and Magic. 2. Mox, J. More Mana, More Problems. 3. Runeweaver, A. The Schools of Arcane Magic. 4. Potter, H. Grimoire of Hallowed Spells. 5. Johnstone, L. Fractions of Flame and Other Quandries. 6. Muffinus, G. A Study in Sable: The Black Dragonfire and Manipulations of Blood and Magic. 7. Bidwell, L. Theurgy. 8. Stoneburner, R. Dark Matter. 9. Woodsong, A. Nature’s Swiftness and Druidic Tenets. 10. Dalendala, T. Blade, Body, Duty. 11. Stokes, N. The Shade and Shadow: Magic of the Psyche. 12. Mieville, C. Thaumaturgons, Symbology, and Cytologics 13. Ribbonweve, S. Tempordynamics. 14. Khadgar et al. Kirin Tor Approved Arcana, Volume XII. 15. Barroward M. The Maker’s Marks. 16. Whiterain, K. Recorded Oral History of Tauren Myths. 17. Sunstrider, A. A Collected Treatise on Minor Arcana. 18. Baker et al. Space and Time Manipulation. *** Aaren yawned. “I understood…very little of that,” she smiled to Tes. “Sorry, just went a bit over my head.” Tesonii smiled. What’d you think though? “Well, I think it has a lot of good insights. And I think it’s interesting that you’re approaching rune magic from an arcane rather than necromantic perspective. That ain’t easy, is it?” Tesonii shook her head, her ears flopping. She lay in Aaren’s, who had propped their pillow against the wall, and sat up. The priest used one hand to stroke the knight’s hair, and held the folio in the other. “You still get really sick of people calling you a death knight, don’t you?” The blue haired knight giggled, and looked at the cover of the paper. When it had been rejected, she’d burned the appendix, and kept the basic formulae in her spellbook. The only person who knows about the whole thing besides me is you. I don’t blame them for not understanding. But yeah, it’s always frustrating. If people call you a death knight, whether you are one or not, it carries so much more baggage with it, and nobody wants to deal with that. I’m just me. So, I’m a rune knight. If people can’t tell the difference, that’s to their disadvantage. Tesonii’s smile grew, slowly, curling up at the corners of her mouth and rising to her eyes, the barest white of her teeth showing. Aaren tapped Tes’s nose, and smiled down at her. She dropped the booklet to the nightstand.
  5. “Aw come on, goatsmilk isn’t that different,” said Aaren. Filora’s goat prank still was fresh in her mind, and the horrible cries of the undead thing as she put it down. Tesonii shook her head, and nibbled at the frosting on her cupcake. She’d never had one like this, with a red center and cream cheese frosting. A half-empty plastic container sat between them, the fluffy berry slush having gone flat and melted back into liquid minutes ago. I’ll pass, thought the knight to the priest. “Somethin’ the matter?” Aaren’s skin was flushed with drink. By the time they had arrived at the Faire, the duo had finished a full skin of ogrish moonshine. As they walked through the woods, they had staggered to and fro along the path, bumping against each other and giggling. They were making their way down to the orange and purple light of the Darkmoon Faire. When they arrived on the fair grounds, the pair topped up their drinks. Aaren purchased a large mug of Darkmoon Special, while Tes had gotten a jug of limeade, into which the heavy and acrid booze was poured. The two passed the slowly lightening vessel between them as Tesonii pulled Aaren to the first contest. Tesonii flailed to whack the gnolls which rose from their wooden containers. Her swords, Blood by Dawn and Ladykiller, rested on the bench just outside the games area. Aaren looked, and cheered the blue-haired knight on. What had started as a simple game had gradually devolved into Tesonii hitting the animatronic savages as angrily as she could. Whether Aaren could tell, or simply accepted it as a necessary facet of the woman’s personality was uncertain. Tesonii wasn’t even aware of it herself until the orc running the both yelled at her. “Get the fun out if you’re gonna break it, elf!” Tesonii shrugged, and dropped the hammer. The orc nonetheless handed her several tickets, which she shoved into a belt pouch. Afterwards, the followed the sugary smell of funnel cake to one of the numerous food stands the Faire had to offer. It was coming on Tesonii’s third dessert when Aaren had recommended the milk, and asked the question. Tesonii looked at Aaren. The priest had always been careful with her hairstyle, and only in private had the frontal sweep of hair been moved aside. It wasn’t unreasonable, all things considered, and Tesonii didn’t mind. What she did mind, though, was the symbolism that Aaren was always hiding something. If not from her, from the world. Tes wasn’t quite sure what to say, and couldn’t even articulate why she was feeling the way she was. Between Filora and Sinlanna’s conversations, some nagging feeling had asserted itself over her thoughts. She twisted her lips to the side, in annoyance at herself. “Hey, Tes, you there?” Tesonii blinked and looked back at the priest. She took a bite of her cupcake, and chewed it slowly. Ya know, buying time to talk don’t work so well when I’m in your head. Are you okay? Can we just have some fun? I feel weird, but I don’t want to talk about it. Aaren smiled calmly, and nodded her head. She held out a hand. The knight returned the smile, and got up from her seat. The women walked over to the ring toss, and drunkenly took turns with their ten rings. On Tesonii’s second toss, Aaren poked her just under the ribs, eliciting a giggle. Her ticklishness was an easily exploited weakness, and as Tesonii giggled madly, she chucked the ring wide. It hit the side of the ring, and by some freakish geometry, bounced and landed on the turtle’s back. Tesonii twisted her lips, crossed her arms, and puffed out her cheeks as she pouted. Aaren continued smiling at her, and moved her face closer. The frustration, now a facade, was one which the priest intended to break. Aaren had gotten her nose to less than an inch from Tes’s face by the time the elf reacted. The blue-haired woman wheeled, and tapped their foreheads together. Tesonii handed Aaren her third ring. Aaren took her turn, half-expecting Tesonii to return the distraction. But she didn’t. Not for the third, or the fourth ring either. But on Aaren’s, last ring, their ninth overall, Tesonii waited for Aaren to draw her arm back. Then hip checked her, eliciting a cry of surprise as the tool dropped from her hands, just over the throwing line. The ring fell harmlessly to the dirt, and Tesonii hurled her last ring, though it too missed. By several feet. All in all, Aaren deserved credit for the two rings that landed. The two stared at each other, trying to mimic each other’s facial expressions. The human running the booth looked at the pair, not at all surprised. Still copying each other to get in an attempt to laugh, Tesonii grabbed their tickets from the vendor, and Aaren took her turn to drag her girlfriend. They grabbed corndogs on a stick, and freshened up their drinks, this time instead grabbing a pair of fizzy Faire concoctions. Tesonii took a sip of Aaren’s, and settled on the “Classic.” They walked among the crowds, smiling and laughing, passing back gestures and jokes that made sense only to them. They gave an attempt at ringing the bell attached to a lever, with one single hammer strike being a means to test strength. Tesonii hit it, and found, thankfully, that she did so in excitement, rather than anger. As is the nature with Faire games, Aaren’s hit was the one which rang the bell. They collected and stowed their growing stash of tickets in Tesonii’s belt. Do you think I need new swords? Tesonii turned to Aaren, looking over her beverage. She pointed at several foam greatswords hanging in the prize booth. “I like the ones you have. But what happened to the other one of those? Weren’t they a pair?” Aaren pointed at Tesonii’s blue sword. Oh, Manslayer? It got broken… Tesonii smiled, thinking wistfully of the way the blade had broken off inside of the dwarf in Ashran. The blood patterns made excellent runes for her subsequent casting, but she had to steal a sword from one of the fallen Alliance. She never liked borrowing other people’s weapons. They were often balanced for defense, or for more sluggish movements, devoid of any of the grace or style she enjoyed implmenting. “Hopefully doing something cool?” Aaren inquired. Tesonii nodded, and leaned in to kiss her. “I thought the fireworks were later, snowflake?” They continued down the lane towards the bleachers near the music pavilion. The bands which usually played at the Faire hurt Tesonii’s ears. In fact, she wasn’t much for music in general. The last band was putting away their instruments when the two elves sat back. Tesonii’s stomach rumbled. “Ya want anything in particular?” Tesonii smiled at the thought of the greasy fare provided by the Faire. Something spicy…No! Sweet! Both! she thought. She put her hand up to her mouth and giggled. Aaren sighed, and got up. Tes held their spots, and slipped back into her own head. She thought about Filora’s aggression, and Sinlanna’s flirtation. Neither asked for, and, as far as Tesonii was concerned, unwarranted. Not yet entirely sober, Tesonii swirled her drink, and stared emptily, a thousand yards distant. There were so many faces in the crowd, and she remained certain she’d see some of them on the battlefield. It was odd, really, how the events of Draenor had come together. Her reverie abruptly ended as she felt a hot dog land in her lap, thankfully cushioned by several napkins, like a little sweater that kept all the meat goop and fat in its shell and off her dress. Hey, Tes, you in there? She hadn’t noticed Aaren’s approach. Aaren could be sneaky. But she never chose to be around the knight. Tes’s back spiked straight and she jumped. Do you ever…Think that I… she thought back. Aaren set a formidable mound of Darkmoon hot dogs, deep fried candy bars, and spicy wings on one side and sidled up to Tesonii. “Think that you what?” she said with a smile. Just…you know. I don’t want to bore you…so… Tesonii began to blush. And then began to blush harder, once she became cognizant of the initial rosy pink afflicting her ears, and the way her freckles stood out. If you ever wanted to…I guess…Well. Pythral and Sinlanna always show such interest, that if you…wanted...yeah. Tesonii looked helplessly at Aaren, who leaned forward to kiss her. I don’t know what’s gotten you all worked up about this, but you don’t bore me. It’s okay. You’ve stayed when other people would leave. Sometimes, not in a good way, yeah. But the other ninety nine times, it’s more than I really expect or ask for. Just…I don’t know where I fit in lately. I don’t feel wanted, even though I’m trying to be faithful to all these different things. You’re not boring. Want me to prove it? Aaren prodded her in the stomach, and pointed up at the stars. “Tell me what you see when the fireworks go off.” Tesonii’s stomach clenched. And growled; at this distance, the smell of the food was hard to ignore. An awkward treble of laughter slipped out of her, both from the briefest tickle and from the tension. She grabbed one of the deep-fried chocolates and began to work away at the shell. A resounding crack ripped through the air as the first firework exploded in a brilliant cascade of blue and violet. Others followed, providing a symphony of noise to listen along to. Tesonii covered her ears to the best of her ability, but remained looking skyward. She looked to discern some sense from it. Here and there she imagined she saw patterns and runes, but it was only that: imagination. “Well?” I’m not sure. It was just really pretty. Nothing solid, though… “But you looked, right?” Tesonii had gotten used to feeling foolish of late. It wasn’t a feeling she particularly minded. She’d long been used to abandon and mayhem, and learned to just go with it with a smile or a slash. Lost, or under-informed on occasion, was fine. But the knight was dramatically out of sorts when she felt stupid. Aaren smiled at her, and Tes found a pity in the look that shook her. “I’m always looking at stuff. After a lot of practice, and,” she smiled to herself, “a lot of scars. You know. But I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to get inside people’s heads…with and without magic.” Aaren drummed her fingers against the edge of the food platter. “You do similar things. Kinda. Sometimes I think that’s why this works. But you’re always looking for little things, you know, and I feel like you’re looking for trouble where there isn’t. That’s you, and it’s what’s worked. But you liked the fireworks, right?” Tesonii nodded, numb. “Then that’s all you need to worry about. You’re smart. If there’s something you need to worry about, you’ll know. Don’t overthink it.” The knight remained uncertain of what to do. Was she overthinking? Aaren solved that. As the kiss broke, Tes managed to mutter, her brain fuzzy. “Oh.” Aaren grinned. “We’re here at the Faire. And we’re gonna have fun. When we’re done here, we’re going to Warspear. And we’re gonna do shots, and kick anyone’s ass who tries to stop us.” Even Pythral? “Well, we’ll see. But I know that you’ll definitely kick her ass at what comes after that.” Tesonii smiled, and Aaren gave her hand a squeeze. “So let’s go! Come on! There’s only a few hours before Lina’gar tries to close up on us!” Aaren hopped to her feet, and walked down the bleachers. Tesonii eyed the Darkmoon Brawl with some interest. But for now, she enjoyed the warmth she felt. The knight smiled, grabbed the plate, patted her bag of tickets, and ventured after the priest.
  6. Tesonii had stumbled into the tavern, and had cleaned the blood of Ashran off. Or most of it. She found that she often missed a few bits here and there, to her horror when she finally found a mirror hours later. A militant, but stealthy, looking orc had come into the little bar on the Warspear hill. He sat directly across from her on the fire, where she was warming herself and enjoying some fruity drink Lina’gar had concocted at the behest of goblin excavators. The orc grumbled over his drink. “Water, please,” said a voice. As Tesonii turned, she was struck by a similarity in appearance to her former Commander. But the small wave of the woman’s fingers, and general demeanor, quickly put her into familiar, but ultimately alien mental territory. She sized the woman up. Short, and another blood elf, Tesonii could recognize that she approached with some sense of foreknowledge of the knight. This was proven, as between sips of a cold glass of water, she locked eyes with Tesonii. The confused look on her face seemed only to spur Sinlanna’s approach, her expression rising from a practiced reflection of banality into seemingly earnest cheer. The alcohol had only dulled her memory, tired as it was after a long day. “Tes!” exclaimed the leatherbound woman. “Just the lady I was hoping to see.” The knight raised an eyebrow, and cocked her head to the side, all the while sipping her drink from its coconut shell with a straw. The orc across the flames watched the pair as well. “Come now, surely you remember me?” said the woman. She swirled the water in her glass absently. It reminded Tesonii of the way she scrunched and twisted her lips, in some way. She set her fruit drink down by the fire, and rolled up her sleeve. She drew a paint brush from a pouch on her belt, and wet it with ink. Bilgewater…? she asked, hoping to hit somewhere close to the mark. Sinlanna waited patiently for the quiet woman to finish writing. Tesonii tried to ignore the way she bit her lip. “Cantina night, I believe we were briefly introduced…Oh, and your handwriting is quite good!” Tesonii’s ears perked, in sudden recognition. Sinlanna she thought. She nodded to the chemist. Before she could write the woman’s name, Sinlanna continued. “Rather, I happen to be standing next to the radiant Aaren, at that time. I understand if my presence is dwarfed by her beauty,” she said. Her smile was obscured by the glass as she raised it to drink. The orc, meanwhile, stared into the firepit, lost in his own thoughts. Tesonii’s blush rose continually as Sinlanna spoke. Aaren did look quite fetching that night…and then Tesonii was promptly snapped back to reality as she caught Sinlanna studying her. “There we are! Perfect! Just perfect. Just what I needed for my book!” Tesonii’s eyebrows scrunched together, both in confusion and in an abortive attempt to regain her composure. Her eyes roamed over Sinlanna’s figure, looking as much for a journal as happenstance. Sinlanna caught the observation, as she had done so well thus far. The knight was unused to being the one scrutinized. “You see, I’m working on my own line of fiction. My first novel? Stars you and Aaren! And your beautiful love.” “Well that explains that…” muttered the orc. Tesonii put a hand in front of her mouth and giggled, waving her hand at Sinlanna. The alcohol and embarrassment formed a potent cocktail in her brain, and she struggled to find something to say. I write a lot, too. was what she settled on. Sinlanna regarded the text with an intriguing smile. “Yes, but I question whether the writing is quite the same in terms of content…” The knight picked her drink back up, the giggling fit subsided. She smiled up at Sinlanna, who remained standing. “The words ‘bosom,’ heaving,’ and ‘writhing’ tend to feature frequently in my prose. Ah, no, she wrote, swapping hands, inching her sleeve higher with her pinky. I usually don’t she began, then paused, for just a moment, before continuing, hoping, in vain, that Sinlanna didn’t see it. write that. she finishes. Sinlanna fluffed her short bob. Her smile was feline. Amused. Knowing. Dangerous. Tes was drinking copiously from her nearly empty coconut. “Clearly you’ve taken up the wrong kind of writing, dear lady.” Tesonii spluttered as she took a drink. She suppressed a cough, and forced the alcohol down. She looked at Sinlanna inscrutably. The rogue used the tip of his boot to kick a stray log over, sending up sparks like tiny stars. Sinlanna sit down behind the fiery curtain, and leaned close to Tes. “Tell me,” she said, sotto voce,” I must know. What is it like for you, to live a love that burns so hotly but must be hidden from the world? Or at least from Selash. That’s how I’ve established the conflict in any case.” Tes blushed, surprised at the depths of her temerity. She swapped the drink and brush once more, and wrote again on the first arm. Don’t usually hide. What is meant? “Oh, don’t you? But you drag her behind buildings…and such. I suppose you might be doing that for the sake of modesty and so as not to cause an uproar among the general public, but I like to imagine that you both harbor a burning lust that can only be expressed in secret. No light may touch upon what you and Aaren have created!” Sinlanna raised a hand to her head, the palm facing outward. She gazed skyward as if in torment. Tesonii thought about that. The light, she thought, did not come easily to her. If there was one. She and Aaren certainly had affection for each other…but lust? That was…was…not the same. Not equal. Proportional, maybe? Connected, certainly. She raised a hand to her mouth, and turned into the fire, hiding her expression with her hood. She looked for a giggle, and managed to put it in her throat. All the while, the orc sharpened his knife. One of many, it seemed. After a moment, her expression in check, she wet the brush in her ink well again, and flushed, began to write. Just like private time with her. Mine. Then I don’t have to share her with anyone. She began to show Sinlanna, but then she swiftly added, moving the arm back into writing range: And it is immodest for ladies to act such in public. Sinlanna, encouraged by the gentle shaking of Tesonii’s shoulders, sat, and leaned back on her palms to examine the woman at a closer distance. “Ah, of course. See, and this is why we make Gustblade the antagonist. Not that it’s any stretch of the imagination,” she said, adding the last sentence in a mutter. Tesonii regarded Sinlanna as she waived a dismissive hand. “Well the braggart insists on being called Lord. Freshly earned title. Prime example why the entire idea of respected lineage means nothing now.” The orc put his mask back on. Tesonii stared at Sinlanna and held her hands up in a plain gesture of confusion. The chemist stopped, pausing at the opening of her diatribe. She summarized it quickly. “Nothing important.” The woman shrugged, having her turn of firegazing. “In any case,” she began, “I’ll be sure to share any profit from my books with you,” she ended with a smile. Tesonii twisted her lips to the side, observing Sinlanna. She found an uninked corner of her hand, and wrote why “Well!” she said with a definitive clap, “Seems only fair to share my earnings with the lovely pair that inspires my writings!” Tesonii sighed, and shook her head, all the while staring at the ceiling. Sinlanna winked, and brought her now warm glass of water to her lips. The orc, having observed the conversation, finally had his say. “When do you anticipate to be done with your book?” Sinlanna glanced over the fire, finally spying the orc again after her initial appraisal from the bar. “Inspiration has been rather difficult to come by,” she purred. After a moment, she lifted and dropped her shoulders. “What compels you to ask?” She smirked. He grinned, and returned the shrug. “Curiosity.” Tesonii was relieved not to be the focus of the current line of questioning…but something about Sinlanna’s previous comments rang perilously close to unfolding in horrible life in her mind. The dark-haired elf’s eyes roamed over the orc’s scars, wending their way over his body before arriving once more to meet his gaze. “Ah, curiosity. Certainly the most exquisite motivator.” “What kind of inspiration are you looking for? Some adventure? Of being captured and violated? That’s usually some fine inspiration for smut novels,” the orc said. Sinlanna’s smirk persisted through the conversation, but gave way to something huskier as she purred in response. “The kind that places me as an audience to the exact sort of tension that I describe in my novel.” The last four words were hyperinflected, and the chemist turned to grin at Tesonii. Tesonii looked back, and blushed, not quite sure what else to do, and vastly preferable to remaining alone in the fog of her own thoughts. “Oh, now’s not the time for shyness, dear lady!” said Sinlanna, “Though the blush you wear is fetching.” She called me a lady, thought the knight. She turned awkwardly, trying to wipe up some of the ink with her sleeve. I don’t wear makeup though, she wrote, Sinlanna’s grin only growing. She stumbled to continue. runs in battle. sweat? Sinlanna made a sweeping gesture to Tesonii. “There you are, sir. Seems as if my inspiration might come to me sooner than I could have predicted! I might have my novel done by the end of the month. Delightful.” The orc continued. “If you have trouble, I believe there are still some “showrooms,” as it were, in Murder Row. Should you require more inspiration.” Tesonii opened her mouth, aghast, and looked at the orc. Surely it hasn’t gotten to be…I don’t remember home being like that… she thought. “No, no,” said Sinlanna, once more disrupting Tesonii’s thoughts. “Those shows never hold the passion required for a good sell.” She tapped a finger on her lower lip. “I do need to find myself a publisher, however. Tesonii’s expression faltered, pointing aimlessly at herself. The tips of her ears shone bright red. The idea of passion caused her to flush from her neck upward. “Hrm,” the orc said, oblivious, “the Steamy Sailor is looking for more stock and in the back room they have a press. You could try them? I know the owner and I could vouch for you, as it were.” “Really! That’s wonderful news!” Sinlanna glanced over to Tesonii, beaming from the swirl of Tesonii’s embarrassment and the open door of opportunity before her. She pinched the tip of Tesonii’s ear, eliciting a small squeak from the knight. “Eep!” “Would you look at that, she murmured, “just a well of inspiration, dear lady.” She released her grip of Tesonii’s ear, and returned to her conversation with the so far nameless orc. Tesonii jumped to her feet and walked as fast as she could to the bar, leaving the two to their discussion. She needed alcohol. And food. She ordered both. When she returned, she sat just out of arm’s reach of Sinlanna, and perched a plate of cheese and crackers on her lap. Sinlanna reached, almost extending to the floor, to pluck a hunk of cheese from the tray. “So what’s the owner’s name?” she asked, biting into the piece. “And yours, for that matter.” Tesonii frowned, and in a fit of pique crammed the rest into her mouth. It was a mistake. Her cheeks bulged with regret and shame. Sinlanna winked at Tes, fluttering her lashes. “My name, madame, is Joshar. The owner’s name is Lariah Sunwater,” said the orc. Tesonii worked at the mass of dairy product, making slow progress. The other elf threw her a glance and a smile before turning back to Joshar. “Well,” she said “Joshar…My name is Sinlanna, but most call me Sin. Pleasure to meet you.” The orc grinned, his tusks jutting. “Wonderful to meet you, Ms. Sin,” he said. “Pleasure should be all mine,” she tilted her head in a small nod, “should this book deal proposal of ours see the light of day, hmm?” The orc chuckled and nodded, throwing a casual look at Tesonii, who was in the processes of drinking her large mug to the halfway mark. “Choked down your cheese, dear heart?” said Sinlanna, teasing. Tes could only shake her head. Sinlanna looked on with a smile, and raised a hand to her own cheek. The orc had procured a skinning knife from somewhere, and picked at his fingernails. Sinlanna smiles and stretched her arms overhead. “As lovely as this has been, I did have a reason to come here to Warspear; one which had nothing to do with delightful blushing ladies or potential novels.” The cheese fully consumed, Tesonii put a hand to her mouth and giggled. She felt her guildstone burn at her side. She tossed a nod to Sinlanna, and waved goodbye. She shook her guildstone for emphasis. “Farewell, ladies,” said the orc. Sinlanna blew a kiss to Tesonii. She wished it had missed.
  7. She thought of Aaren, and blushed. Sanctuary’s baths had been far more accommodating. But, here, in solitude, she found peace, for a moment at least. It took mere minutes for that illusion to shatter. The tromp and grind of plate armor wasn’t exactly uncommon in the Grim garrison, but the fact that the tread was directed towards her makeshift bath initially brought dismissal. This slowly soured into worry, and finally fear. Tesonii scrambled for dignity, a towel, something. But she was too late, and the curtain ripped to the side in a mailed fist. “I thought I’d find you here,” said Filora, her eyes alive, but somehow terribly shallow. Like a shark’s, Tesonii thought. The blue haired elf gasped and slunk as far below the waterline as she could. Even with her rear and back against the metal, she still necessitated an arm across her chest, and her collarbone upwards remained exposed. The steam, she hoped, would obscure most of it. Despite the warmth of the bath, she shivered, suddenly acutely aware of the temperature difference. “Do you even feel the cold?” said Filora. “Or do you just like looking pathetic? What are you even bothering to hide? There’s almost nothing there.” Embarrassment and anger flushed to Tesonii’s face, and her mouth twisted downwards into a frown. Filora had managed to combine three of her particular sore spots in nearly as few words. “Oh well. I guess you just look pathetic anyway. It comes naturally to you, I guess.” Filora shrugged. Tes’s ears drooped, and she tried to sink deeper into the warmth. Tried to find some solace. Why had it gotten so cold? The blue-haired elf raised the hand which had been below the water to fumble through her things. She set a pot of ink to the edge of the shower shelf, and touched a small brassy bell. She tossed the bell to Filora, who caught it with a single chime. “What, you didn’t like him?” While pranks weren’t a terribly rare event in any garrison, Tesonii had found that it was usually a single person who chose to accost her with their own sick sense of humor. Filora, or Tesonii had assumed, anyway, had left an undead goat in her room. The thing ate a blanket Aaren had sewn for her. If that wasn’t bad enough, the thing managed to foul the floor of her tiny bunk room, to say nothing of the mess it had made of her inks while it knocked its head against the small bedside table she owned. That table, riven with Pandaren designs, had too been a gift. The ink ran on her arm as she wrote with her brush. Ate blanket Aaren gave me Tesonii had used the free hand to write, but the arm she was using to shield herself was her slate. “That’s okay. I figured dead things were right up your alley anyway.” The casual disdain was working its intended purpose. Tesonii scowled at Filora. She wrote swiftly above the prior bleeding text. What is your problem? Her eyebrows had clenched, and her mouth was open in disgust and frustration. Filora tilted her head back slightly and smirked. She made a very obvious point of staring down her nose at the bathing woman. “You’re a problem.” Why? Tesonii mouthed. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you.” Filora put her weight against the stall’s divider, and looked down at her nails. She was still wearing her gauntlets. “Wh...y?” Tes managed to squeak. “You’re weak.” Irritation overcame her self-consciousness. How dare she, Filora, of all people in the Grim, call her weak. She dipped the upper arm into the water, washing away the ink. I. Did. My. Trials. She slapped the text into her inner arm, which she held boldly outward to Filora. Filora snorted, unimpressed. Tes stared at Filora, disappointed it hadn’t yielded any reaction. “That doesn’t mean you’re true Grim.” I could kick your ass. What…Tesonii rolled her arm, Does that make you? Filora only rolled her eyes. “I’m strong in the way that matters.” Filora eyed what she could see of Tesonii. There was no lustful appraisal to her gaze, but instead a profound boredom. Tesonii wasn’t sure if that was worse. She covered herself again, and tried in vain to curl deeper into the water, suddenly very cold. Filora noted Tes’s shiver with a flash of triumph in her eyes. “You let things get to you. It’s a vulnerability.” Tesonii rolled her eyes and went back to writing on her forearm. You’re petty and both… Tesonii rotated her arm, careful of its positioning. …ered that I’ll replace you. Filora’s eyebrows shot up, and she leaned away from the divider, laughing out loud. “Replace me?” she chuckled. “Why would I worry about that? You’re only projecting. I don’t try to make myself irreplaceable.” Tesonii glared at Filora, extremely frustrated at her continued treatment at the paladin’s hands, and angered at the attitude given the uselessness Tesonii perceived of her. She wrote on her arm, her only rebuke. What asset are you? Anything? She grew bolder, washing the ink off with the back of her hand. They take me to the field. They trust me. Not you. Filora’s expression was flat. She looked at the knight. “Is that what you’re afraid of? Being unwanted?” The paladin waited a moment, gauging the effect her words would have. “Like how Kex’ti didn’t want you?” Tesonii held up her brush hand to her mouth. The bristles left a streak of black over her eyebrow. And then she giggled, raising her shoulders briefly. It struck her as enormously funny, and she found that her tension left. She relaxed in the water, lowered her hand, and smirked. “I don’t need to be wanted. That’s a weakness you have. Not me.” There it is, Tesonii thought to herself. A spark of empathy fired in her brain. Some errant neuron that reminded her of cats in Silvermoon. Arrogant even when starving, she found that Filora did speak a little bit of truth about the knight. But, despite that, mostly she felt sad for her. She took a long look at Filora, and nodded. She wrote, her expression smug. You seem very insistent. “You’re the one that doesn’t seem to get it.” Tesonii smirked, and shrugged. “I think you can’t even conceive of it.” Tesonii raised an eyebrow and made a circle with her free hand, gesturing to Filora. “I’m just going to guess what that means. Um, you want me to turn around in a circle. No.” Tesonii sighed and looked upward. What do you mean? “Talking to you is kind of annoying. Probably less annoying than if you could talk back properly, though,” Filora mused. Tesonii merely nodded and waited for the tirade to end. “I mean you don’t even understand what it would be like to not crave the approval of others. That’s why you were so quick to try to attack me for not being desirable. But honestly, I don’t give a damn who wants me.” It was as good of an admission as any. Tesonii cleared her throat, ready to speak, but Filora ignored the gesture, and went on. “But you do. And that gives others powers over you. Kind of pathetic.” Tesonii wasn’t sure if this was some sort of trick to play on her compassion, or if there was some genuine pain leaking unbeknownst to Filora. Either way, Tesonii smiled brightly. Maybe. But I have friends. “It’s funny how you say the things to me that you fear the most.” Tesonii scoffed, and cleared her arm with a splash of water towards Filora. As the woman stepped back, then forward into the puddle, Tesonii reloaded her brush. “I think that’s about it. Nothing else to figure out about you,” said Filora. She shrugged, and smirked at Tesonii, confident that her bath had been ruined to satisfaction. Tesonii merely held her smile in place. Filora looked around, pointedly ignoring the lowered water level in the pot. Finding nothing interesting, she turned, and walked away, leaving the curtain open. Tes sighed. The water had gotten cold. She reached for a towel.
  8. Tesonii Inbetween Deceased, lost in the final battle against Serinar. Few witnessed her death, but those who saw remarked that she stared across the field before crumbling into dust upon Serinar's design. Gender, Race, Class: Female Sin'dorei Rune Knight Age: 133 Occupation: Reaper Languages: Thalassian, Orcish, Dwarven, Gutterspeak Physical description: Tesonii is pale, with blue eyes and hair. She claims the strange coloration comes from her exposure to arcane magic. She's fairly tall, and is built like a dancer. She often wears a hood to keep the sun out of her eyes. Her arms are usually smudged with ink of some kind, or drawn on when she gets bored. Her face is very expressive, and it's hard for her to hide her feelings. Tesonii only wears dresses, and will not wear pants. She's always very cold. Personality: Tesonii has an insatiable thirst for activity, and is quite single-minded. She takes to activities with a frightening exuberance to compensate for her quietness. She bears rather significant grudges, and feels rather deeply about even superficial friendships. Skills: Accomplished spellcaster and agile fighter. Excellent painter. Combat Tactics: Tesonii uses rune magic extensively, and uses her melee stances and attacks as somatic components. She uses a lot of circular strikes to create foci for her runes. Tesonii is very agile for someone of her armor rating, and enjoys melee combat augmented by spells far greater than casting at a distance. She shows a preference for frost and transmutation magic, and uses a combination of grace and physical might to overcome her foes. Phobias and Weaknesses: Tesonii is mute, and unable to speak for the most part. If restrained, she is unable to use her magic and often panics. She feels very strongly about Aaren, Breygrah, and Kex'ti, though the latter are Sanctuary. She has compunctions against attacking innocents, but unlike Kex'ti isn't afraid to strike down weak combatants. Permanently. Somewhat ironically, Tesonii is vulnerable to frost magic. Pet Peeves: People who won't communicate with her. Special Possessions: Aaren bought her a collection of inkwells shortly before Midsummer, but it was broken, and replaced by a new set. She has a storybook from her and Kex'ti's childhood, and her Sanctuary tabard tucked away. Origin/Birthplace: Murder Row, Quel'thalas; born North Key, Quel'danas Brief History: Tesonii Inbetween wandered the world after the passing of the Lich King, mastering her magical studies begun in secret long ago and honing her gymnastics into a potent combat art. She crossed into Draenor to find Kex'ti, her one surviving figure from her past. She joined his guild as a matter of convenience, having nowhere else to go. She now seeks to fulfill the Mandate and bring peace to Azeroth.
  9. Her blade was not her only weapon, and even as the point pinned his arm to the wall, she rammed her knee into the back of his. His leg buckled, and he slipped down, off balance. She gripped his hair, long as it had grown, with her fingers on his scalp. Tesonii began to slam the monk’s face into the brick. The mage studied the bloody prints the strikes made, searching for patterns she could cast from. At this range, she’d be caught in the blast. But she didn’t care. Instead, she focused on the sound of his breathing, the beat of blood in his neck, how his muscles contorted in resistance. If he couldn’t move, he couldn’t manifest his mists or strike her. But without her sword, there was only so much magic she could work, as well. And her strength was fading, while the monk held strong, his grunts of exertion rising as it became harder and harder for her to continue her assault on his head. Her heart beat, the life and death struggle alighting her nerves and quivering down her spine. She grinned, even as the monk grimaced, his throat so close. Her expression was feline, and her smile curve in on itself at the edges of her mouth. The barest glint of teeth showed as she moved her lips to the corded muscle of his neck. He froze, as surely as if her magic had caught him head on. And then spasmed as she bit into his flesh. *** Tesonii jerked awake, panting quietly. If she could have screamed, she would have done so instead of merely shivering, the blankets piled on her as she dozed fallen off, the flames that normally lit her room from dusk until well past dawn nothing but grey and black cinders. Though summer had not yet passed, the Garrison was cold. But not enough so to warrant the chill on her breath as she shook in her cot, vague sounds of life resounding through the timbers of the barracks. Her skin was slick, her hair oily. The room, sealed from rime and wind, smelled of smoke and loneliness. A bath then, she thinks, gathering her robes and soap, trying to carry them and not her night to the abattoir-come-water storage which served as the Grim’s washroom. *** She hated the Grim’s washing areas. So much of the space was devoted to merely blasting off gore and grime with hoses, and so little to the long soaks she had grown accustomed to in the inns and sanctuaries she had visited in her journeys. She had endeavored to fix this by taking a relatively clean, grease-free pot from the kitchen. As a supplicant, this behavior likely would have been worthy of reprimand. But as a full member, pushing it up the stairs to the front of the garrison, it brought many looks of confusion, though a few were overtly hostile. Tesonii felt as though, even after her trials, she still was not a member of the Grim. She had been in Sanctuary, and truth be told, still had a great deal of affection for their naivety. But she was Grim, now. It did her no harm to care for them, she told herself. Even if the others didn’t believe it. Tesonii’s efforts brought the pot up to the tanks of snowmelt. She filled the pot with a small bit of water, and dropped a partial hunk of soap in. The elf gathered a small pile of tinder, and lit it under the pot. She then began to scrape away traces of meals and fat from the black iron with a towel. By the time the pot began to heat, the water was black with remains. She poured it out, and let the icy water fill the vessel to the brim. It would be some time before it warmed to the near-simmer she preferred. She sat crosslegged in her robe, close by the fire. The knight grabbed flexible sticks from her bundle and bent them into a roughly mortal shape. She tried to remember how her father had told her about why they did that. It was an old tradition. Or even why she did it. At this point, it was nothing but habit. As she bent and girded the effigy into being, she looked at her fingers, and how they had grown calloused and raw in the cold. Hours upon hours of practicing and fighting with her blades had roughened her hands, but it was her reliance on frost magic that cracked the skin and made it a red-pink that failed to bleed. Unless she picked at it. Then it would, even if it didn’t hurt. The knight considered if there might be some sort of tactical asset in using a bleeding finger tip to scribe her runes along her blade. Conventional mages used words and movements to draw out their magic. She liked the movement, but her voice failed to carry the gravitas necessary, and her throat hurt even when she could choke small syllables or words out. So the runes afforded her a practical means to continue to fight as she once had. Blood magic was not something she had specialized in. Arcane magic traditionally didn’t leave a lot of room for the manipulation of the forces of life and death. Death knights used it, as did warlocks. She pushed the thoughts away as she tossed the stick figure into the blaze beneath the cauldron. She missed her parents. She’d been an only child, and they had been fairly indulgent. When she had followed her mother into the fold of the spellbreakers, they had been enormously proud. But she would have made quite the acrobat, and a childhood climbing buildings in Murder Row had made her nimble and agile beyond her more heavily armored peers. Despite this dexterity, she could never master the twin-bladed staves so prevalent among the warrior-casters. She loved motion, and moving. And despite this, she now found it difficult to keep warm. She stripped the robes off, and helped herself into the soapy water. The shower overhead dripped into the pot, and the makeshift tub creaked as water spilled over the lip. The narrow stall didn’t afford much room for the pot, but the curtain still managed to afford her a bit of privacy to slip down into the warmth.
  10. Tesonii smiles at the mere mention of Aaren. She intertwines her fingers and hides in her hood, only to waggle a fist at any insinuations on behalf of the speaker.
  11. How hard could it be? she thought. Kex'ti had spent more and more time in the field. He came home every night with flowers. She noted that. Purple, gold, and red, acquired seemingly from the numerous graves he'd been digging. He'd bring them back, and set them at Julilee's bedside. He'd sit there eating, talking to her. He'd try and heal her a bit. At least he wasn't moping at her side, but whatever peace he'd earned the last few years had begun to erode with her long sleep. Tesonii was happy he was happy. She was unhappy that he had seemingly ties so much to the Commander. Morally, romantically, it didn't really matter. She was merely afraid for him. Even though she had taken to stealing his cookbooks right after he'd left. He made really good lunches and dinners, but he only had a few desserts. She wanted to leave him a new recipe. Mostly she just wanted to bake for Aaren, and it was a convenient, if somewhat honest, justification. She'd burned a lot of pie crusts before Thogen the cook had told her the temperatures were for lower elevation than the Sanctuary Garrison. Then she'd added too much salt. Or used Rylak eggs. Or unripened Nagrand cherries. Then she'd learned how they ripened and decided to get cherries from Stranglethorn. Then she forgot about the pie and let it burn. She had to go back to Stranglethorn, but kept putting it off. Aaren ferried her home from Warspear. She let slip she'd gotten a surprise ready for her. Then remembered she didn't. She was ticklish, and Aaren seemed to have inordinate skill at getting into the crannies of her armor. The next day, Aaren and Kex'ti had left by the time she woke up. She took up the monk's vigil at the Commander's side. When she was sure that the patrols had passed by, she began to mutter a near, but not wholly, silent apology. "I just had worked so hard to find him. But I think I just wanted him to be happy, and seeing him happy made me think it was because of what I had done. But it was you. I'm so sorry for thinking it was a fight between us." She sat there, wondering what Julilee would say if she were awake. Probably not much. Just a lot of watching. "Besides. My girlfriend is so much cooler than Kex'ti. That's why I'm going to bake her a pie. Let's see Kex'ti make something without meat in it, huh? So I'm going to copy you a bit. I'm going to keep screwing up this whole thing until I figure out how to make it work and I'm not going to quit until it works. So there. Thanks for letting me borrow that from you. At least until you need it back. You better wake up. Commander Dalendala was someone else already, and that's really weird to call him that. To think about calling him that." Her lips didn't even move. But she baked the pie, and then baked another one, after she, Thogen, and the goblins ate the first one. She didn't let it cool when she whisked it out to the flight master. It burned her fingers a little bit, but between it and the thought of Aaren, being cold wasn't enough to dissuade her from waiting. Tesonii found Aaren at the usual place. She hid the pie under her tabard, and reached two hands around Aaren's eyes, which is exactly when she felt the massive arms of Hugg close around her and the blonde elf. She'd forgotten the pie in the urgent desire to breathe. It wasn't until she saw a curious bloom of red above her waist she remembered the still-hot, sugary goo that had broken through the crust against her armor. She looked at Aaren, and pulled out pastry-full hands. Tesonii held her hands up, and her lip began to quiver as Aaren closed the distance. Then she rubbed the pie in Aaren's face, and began to laugh.
  12. Talons of ice arced from the walls. Each delicate spiral sinking into the fel-infused blood of the summoned demons. Tesonii followed Aaren's directions as she descended into the shadows. The other women cleaned up the disabled monsters as the blue-haired elf hunted Aaren's path like a hound after a fallen bird. Each slice and pivot of her blades sung with words louder than silence. Tesonii's runes glimmered and flared in the darkness, burning out like so many lightbulbs. Even the burning, molten ichor pumping in the demon's veins froze before the woman's aggressive attacks. The creatures writhed for scant moments as Shokkra's massive blade hewed limbs and Julilee's shield and sword shattered the frozen flesh of the beings like glass. Aaren, you need to leave now. Tesonii had learned much about listening in her time as a mute. She knew the cadences and melodies of the spoken word. How those sounds echoed around stone. Aaren, and two others voices, were just a few corridors down. The frenzied claws of the demonic hordes pressed back against the trio of women as they surged forward into the dark. Above, in the sick light of the ruined farmstead, pulsed a growing presence of magic. Darrethy had stayed behind to deal with Malhavik's demons. What Tesonii knew about warlock magic meant that Malhavik's seemingly endless supply of powerful demons meant that his prowess with the demoniac was truly formidable; horrifyingly formidable. If this were truly a surprise attack, what would the full weight of Malhavik's attentions have wrought? Tesonii idly thought about the challenge involved in such a possible turn of events, even as she saw Julilee throw up a bulwark against oncoming sprays of green fire. Tesonii reached over the much smaller elf, the heavy blade of her bastard sword separating a felguard's head from its shoulder. The swords spun with Tesonii as she and Julilee danced forward, sheltering each other with shield and spell even as the tide of readied demons trickled from a phlanx of wrathguard down to lone attacks by felhunters. The rune knight still envied the Commander. But she certainly respected her ability to fight. The blood staining Tesonii's weapons warped the rune she'd scribed, and each spell required greater attention than the last. Her muscles ached with exertion from the deadly waltz, yet Julilee, protected only by her armor and shield pushed forward, her endurance unflagging. Shokkra as well continued to fight. Some instinctual rage against demonkind propelled her. The orc woman bled profusely, yet bloodthirst or conviction overcame whatever pain she felt. The soldier's hooked axe swing in a vicious uppercut, and found its way into the chest of a massive, corpulent succubus. Shokkra reversed her grip and pulled the hooked tip of the weapon into the creature's viscera. Bones cracked. The demon screamed. And a green-red spray of viscera and blood showered the orc. Above, the magic coiled itself deeper. The women in the basement reeled, momentarily, light-headed, as if they'd suddenly stood up too quickly. Tesonii had not fought at Darrethy's side, but she recognized his presence. It was like a smell. Something somehow dusty yet somehow also moist and sticky. Several demons had winked out of existence. Those that remained were clearly stunned by Darrethy's will, leaving an opportunity open for Shokkra to strike. Under the heavy force of her attack, a voidlord exploded into wisps of blue-black smoke. Shokkra's backswing caught a shivvara in the throat, crimson raining outward onto Shokkra. "Lok'tar ogar!" cried the orc, the bloodspray removing any lingering fatigue as Shokkra fought back up the stairs. Whatever demons lurked in the compound, the only ones the elves needed to deal with were already here. The ones up above would not pass Shokkra. Tesonii nodded to the Commander. Her face grim and set, the two arrived outside a black iron door. Tesonii thought to the priest: Aaren, we're coming in! In the green blood staining her blades, Tesonii hurriedly marked long chains of runes. The Commander's expression showed none of Tesonii's glee, Shokkra's rage, or Kex'ti's self-confidence. There was only a steel gaze oriented on victory. On Kex'ti's safety. Whatever fear the woman felt--for surely she had to--she was an expert at setting it aside when she donned her armor. After a few steps back, Julilee raised her shield, and charged the door. The hinges gave, and the door fell open.
  13. Now. Tesonii had watched Aaren disappear into the greasy darkness of Malhavik's home. The sky rumbled with thunder, and the air was sickly and damp. Desiccated, dead crops littered the innocuous ruins the assault team had followed Aaren to. Pieces of the air shimmered with unnatural heat. Demons lurking in plain sight. The priestess's thought echoed in Tesonii's mind, and the knight siphoned heat from one of the shimmers. Redgormor pargon shlee pargon pargon, she thought. A bestial roar emanated from a rime-covered felhound. The knight bounded from the treeline, easily reaching into the empty landscape with her spells. Runes on her draenic crystalblade flared with black light as she concentrated her will at a point in the distance. The soil gave way to cloying, icy quagmire, but Tesonii danced her way towards the center of the slowly rising quicksand, her blades lashing and thrusting at felguards and voidwalkers that came too close. Impacts of fel-fire flew around her as she shielded herself with runic armor. Not all of her magic was focused into her weapons, after all. As she fought, the wasting area she had conjured swelled and gripped at Malhavik's minions. While the stronger beasts pressed on against the mud, many were dragged below by the sludgy, corrosive spell. Tesonii's swords impacted against a six-armed demon's own onslaught. The shivaran's baleful gaze looked down at the hooded woman. Despite the burning corona surrounded it, the demon couldn't have noticed the wide grin on the elf's face as Julilee barreled into it, shield first. Ichor and green flame scattered off the shield, and Tesonii reversed the grips on her blades as she arced them in unison into the creature's belly. She carved outward, rending the demon's body with a twirled rune. Shokkra's axe carved its way through demon after demon, seemingly working her way through a kill order of ever larger monsters. Tesonii had sensed magic emanating from the back, but had yet to see Darrethy display any particularly flashy attacks. Tesonii nodded to the Commander before leveling her blades and dashing towards the farmhouse. As demons began to pursue the women, Tesonii used the shivaran's body to emanate a freezing aura. Just after Julilee had cleared the blast radius, of course. Just.
  14. By the Sunwell I want to cut this guy so bad he's going to wish I wasn't cutting him so bad. Tesonii's hood was drawn low, and the two women at her back blended in to the bushes and darkness. She could keep still, relatively, or she could keep quiet. The knight quivered with anticipation of saving Kex'ti and gleefully sawing runes into whoever had hurt him. She had written and erased and rewritten the charcoal runes on her blades so many times, getting the calligraphy perfect, that even staid and orderly Julilee was becoming irritated by the woman's repetitions. The evident difference between the two's manner of dealing with anxiety grew apparent the longer they lingered in the brush. Tesonii became agitated, and impulsive. She was a steady stream of minor actions and releases. Julilee, in contrast, merely became quiet and withdrawn, like a spring coiling, coiling; ever tighter. Shokkra's mind was elsewhere. Any stress she may have felt at the situation was screened by a weighted, bored facade. The orc's Gorehowl replica gleamed, but was clearly fitted for larger hands and a taller warrior. Tesonii had spent a great deal of time picking her weapons. She'd never been like Kex'ti, who could pick up a bar stool and turn it into a weapon. Nor was she like Julilee, who wielded hallowed arms passed down from hand to hand, generation to generation. The rune knight's weapons were balanced for their accuracy and crushing power, and for their open, easily cleaned writing surfaces. It was hard for Tesonii to fight in the rain, though she had greasy inks stored away for that purpose, she knew how small changes in the angle of the runes affected their potency and usage. Most death--RUNE--knights relied on their runeblades to shape the runes for them. But Tesonii knew better than to rely on a capricious sentient blade when her own skills were sufficient. Tesonii didn't fight with finesse. She saved finesse for writing. When the killing started, that was where her mindset was, and often focused on surprising and overpowering her enemies. This wasn't, of course, to say that she lacked grace. Each stroke of her blade, each angle and slice, was part of an ever-continuing story written in blood. Death knights enjoyed the thrill of battle, but the matter of life and death was secondary to the blue-haired knight. She was a rune knight, and what held her fascination was the way a blood spatter fell, or the way falling blades left marks in stone or metal. The arcs and curves of men and monsters as they danced with her blades, the small expressions that rose under duress. She'd spent so much time reading, that people's actions had become another language with dialects of combat and conversation. After the seventieth revision of the redgormor rune, she was finally satisfied with the size and parallels of the runes. She linked the rune to a jagged, triskelial shlee rune. When powered by her mana, and invoked by her voice, the rune would discharge a wave of frigid force that drained heat from the surrounding area. The drop in temperature caused a shriek which caused the spell to more readily be called howling blast. Tesonii smiled, and caught more than a few glances from Julilee. In a perverse way, the knight enjoyed the attention she drew from the Commander. Hopefully, the irritation, however slight, would prompt the performance Tesonii needed from the warrior in order to save Kex'ti. In the clearing below, Aaren kneeled down over a stream.