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Everything posted by Derecho

  1. Derecho


    Derecho is gone. She was never a real character. This troll was the tauren druid Kerala Windchaser in a shift. The Derecho storyline is no longer a thing. ((Updated))
  2. It's one of the miracles of the world, how much abuse a body can take, and is designed to take. If you have a minor ache, it's meant to be a signal. Hey dummy, you overworked yesterday, remember? Take it easy for a couple days, it'll fix right up. Small cuts, minor burns, or scrapes, bruises. Those things can be lingering annoyances that present right away But the big things. The important things. They don't hurt, at first. I don't even recognize immediately what happened. I felt the impact. It felt just like getting punched. I knew I'd been hit, but it wasn't much different than taking a blow from fist or a foot. Punches and kicks don't tend to launch you like that, though. That's the first thing that makes my dizzy brain realize something is wrong, as I lay there suddenly on the deck gaping. It certainly isn't from the pain; there isn't any yet. I can't pull in a full breath at first. That's also to be expected from a blow to the belly or ribs. They don't like getting hit, and they'll make things difficult for a minute until a primitive reflex can reassert itself. Air in. Air out. Air in. Panic settles. See? Not dead yet. Scarlet fluid on the boards says otherwise. It's gorgeous. Splattered in a random pattern, bright red spots are already starting to darken and disappear, sucked into the grainy texture of the wood. There's more though, spreading. It has to be mine. I twist, slowly, and put a hand to my middle. I can't feel the touch of my own own fingers. I feel the hotness of my belly, and the sticky-slick wrongness of a raw gaping hole where soft mossy skin should be. It's a bad wound, I realize. Really bad. It's at about that point that initial shock protection begins to wear off, and sensation, wholly unwelcome, starts to clang every internal alarm and sensor it knows. My breath hitches still again in an unconscious attempt to stave off the overwhelming pain, to somehow keep it from worsening. When that of course doesn't work, air whooshes back out with involuntary vocalizations. Gods, it hurts! This is going to ruin my whole day. For a good long while, it's all I can do to lay there, moaning when I can't help it, and writhing too. The bull who shot me issues some order in a slow deep voice. The words are orcish, but I can't quite manage to comprehend meaning just yet. Ow. It takes far too much time to come back around to something resembling coherent thought. In the next few moments I entertain and reject half a dozen potential courses of action. I can't kick his hooves out from under him and take his gun. He's too heavy to do anything but break a foot off on. By the same token, I can't sweep him off the platform. Both of those options put a great deal of faith on the unknown capabilities of my lower limbs. I can still wiggle my toes, so nothing is paralyzed. I stare over the edge of the platform, not quite feigning a complete lack of will to continue fighting, or move, for that matter. An aerial guard wings by on patrol. I writhe a little more, testing slightly my capabilities, stiff for the agony it causes. The bluffwatcher might have sensed ulterior motive there, for he repeats the command to not move. I glance at him, or try to. I end up looking straight on into the barrel of the rifle he has trained on my face. He's not messing around, I think dully. Well, neither am I. I'm sure I've lived through worse. The realization that I can't seem to think of worse at this moment is a bit tiresome. Whatever. I am not going to stick around so some holier-than-me cow bitches can call me thief one more time. Movement at the fringes of vision catches my attention, and immediately I have my way out. I can hear the thunks of at least three more tauren ascending the inner ramp of the longhouse as I lay bleeding on the deck staring down the barrel of a gun reflected in the shiny surface of my own blood pool. All I do is lay here on my hip and shoulder, breathing shallowly, trying and mostly failing to ignore the hurting. I'm staring to feel cold, too, but I'm aware that the trembling that comes and goes is mostly not shivers. The reflection shifts slightly, and I take the gamble I'd already committed to, assuming the bull guarding me has briefly twisted his neck to look at the approaching seer and whoever was coming with her. The distraction is almost perfect. I release a burst of magic against the wall of the longhouse at the same time that I try to raise myself and reduce friction. My own harsh voice sounds in agonized counterpoint to several tauren exclamations of surprise. I don't manage to rise up on knee and point of elbow for more than a few seconds, but it's long enough. Without the friction of the whole length of me against the wooden boards, and maybe due to the fact that they were lubricated with my life's fluid, my spell works as hoped. The blast of air scoots me away, under the railing, off the platform. I fall through the air, vision suddenly blurry. Is the world spinning? The inner sensation of tumbling doesn't match the wind direction, and it took much more effort than I expected to do that maneuver. I wonder if now I'll faint and just splat uselessly to the fuzzy ground below. I don't faint. I blink my eyes to clear them, stare at the strangeness of the two creatures rising toward me, and cackle hysterically at the ridiculousness. Which one do I aim for? I choose the left one, as if there is still any choice in the matter now that I am a living projectile, and at the last minute the two images resolve themselves back into one. The left one. Yay. My falling body slams into it. The wyvern screeches. We all plummet several hundred feet before it can recover, but there is no saving it's rider. Who ever looks up for danger? The terrified tauren grabs at his mount. It's no use. As fast as my momentum has stalled, he has been shoved. The windrider becomes short two large tufts of mane as the tauren slips from the saddle. He screams. The mount screams. We all scream. The windrider promptly tries to attack me. It's deadly stinger whips forward, as I grab for it's reins. The barb stabs viciously into the leather of the saddle. I can feel a friction burn on my neck from the tail. Rude! I use my leather handhold to haul myself into a slightly less precarious drape over the creature's back, pinning the tail. I loop the reins once around the deadly stinger and twist, feeling rather resourceful. The wyvern barrel rolls. I am snatched up out of the saddle. All my weight jerks hard against the wrist threaded through the loop of rein, and there is a loud cracking noise and a moment later a stab of pain. I'm crying now, unable to see and unable to stop. We finally turn right side up once more. I slam back down onto the saddle. The creature screeches anger at me, having failed to throw me off or free it's tail. I whack the mount over the top of his head. "Shut up and be flying straight!" Perhaps it understood the command. Perhaps it realized the danger we both were in, aloft without the security of the rudder tail or the ability to accurately see with the way it's head was snatched up and back. The wyvern's flight stabilizes. We're headed west into the setting sun.
  3. Everyone twists to stare at me, of course. I'm still sitting on my butt in the dirt, leaning over my feet with a pine straw hanging from my lips. They all jump to their conclusions, and I can see the leaps reflected in their expressions. The little undead girl hates me now. Lomani wants my head on a silver plate, probably. The bluffwatcher is prepared to try and give it to her. The old shaman merely gapes at the empty space where her little summoned creature just disappeared. Neat trick, that. If only my own escape could be so easy. It's remarkable how such supposedly nice people turn ugly. Do all evil monsters start out good? Do they lose their way somehow, and become nasty hateful creatures that way, or is it some flaw in the design that dooms them from the start? More importantly, are they truly evil? I see these people look at me, and I know they believe I am. I don't particularly care what they believe. They might be right, but that doesn't mean I'm going to lay down and surrender. I didn't do whatever it is they think I've done. Plenty of other things, sure, but not this one. I don't think... The moment of shock seems to pass. The shaman peers at me. Lomani starts to open her mouth, and the bluffwatcher's arm twitches with his ax. "APAPAP!" I warn, "Ya best be settlin now." I say casually. I withdraw my right hand from where it has lain the whole time over the gap between my big feet. Nestled there is the only doll that I cannot identify. From the brief description Aziris gave of her adoptive mother, I can only assume that this doll's name is Kerala, the missing person and loser of my pretty thorny staff. I don't recall making this doll. The stitching is better than I have bothered with for the others. There is an actual shape to it, easily recognizable as tauren from more than just a suggestion of horns and mane and a tail. There is a real snout structure, and even flap ears. The hair is made of bits of rope carefully uncoiled so that there are twisting spiral curls actually sewn on. The eyes are tiny green seeds. The body is stuffed loosely with a dry light-colored sand that doesn't smell a bit like brine. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it. It's a regular doll. There is nothing inside it to break, no stitching to rip open, no obvious target to aim a pin at. Before all these added guests had appeared, I'd been about to give it to this sad girl and go on my way with a belly briefly occupied by a few tea cakes. Seemed like a good trade to me. Now? Now I kind of want to stab it, watch the sand spill out, and then set it on fire. An idea sparks into being. "Wat ya tink be happening if I were to be ripping dis dolly's head off?" I let them look at my bargaining tool, and shift their mindsets from offense to defense. While they take a minute for that, I reverse my knees, swinging my ankles behind me so that I can rock back up onto them. I reach into my trouser pocket, seeking a gift. The smooth metal square is warm to the touch. The bluffwatcher looks to Lomani for direction, and the stiffly held hand at her side is flat toward him, withholding. The other is curled into a fist. Of everyone here, that one I think is the greatest danger. "I think you had better not do that," she tells me. "An I tink we be done here, okie? Ya got de stick, ya got my dollies. Thiefs and betrayahs, all. Ya be a good match fo each otha! Keep dem. An here, dere be anodda ting ya been not takin from me yet. I be leavin it wit ya fo free!" I snap the flint on the lighter and hurl it at the picnic blanket with the dolls without waiting to see if the thing worked. For once, my aim is nothing short of amazing. The silver square trailing a thin ripple of flame neatly disappears in the teardrop-shaped gap between ties. Chaos erupts. Several people shout at once. The bluffwatcher's ax hurtles at me. I try to leap back, but the ground is covered in pine debris. There's needles everywhere. Instead of providing purchase, the slender things slip and slide on each other, and I end up falling hard on my face and belly. I throw the doll at the smoking bundle, right to Aziris feet. A blaze of heat makes me flinch and look up toward the shaman. A huge and terrifying boil of magma screams toward me, blotting out any other sights. I panic. I twist to the side at the same time that I let loose a burst of magic. A billow of air snaps through the entire clearing. The ball of magma is deflected at an angle, and everyone is knocked to the ground with me. Another ax thuds into the ground by my elbow. I yank my arm closer, pulling myself into a smaller target, and take a moment to survey what I've done. Aziris is scratching at the dirt, struggling to get back upright to attend to the burning pile of dolls. Lomani is slower, perhaps partially stunned from the fall. Anura's lava is splashed across half the picnic pile, scorching through fabric and earth even as it begins darken into rock. The smell is horrific. A totem is laughably spitting water still. I'd guess only the drenching of its initial downpour is what has saved some of the contents of the blanket from becoming ash already. I start to climb to my feet too, but a tremor ripples through my muscles. For a moment I have absolutely no control. Fantastic. Sure why not? This is turning out to be a day for shitty luck anyway, why not start shaking now? I'm going to need more time. I decide that getting away is more important to my survival than being stingy with my energy. If I escape, then I'll worry about the other things. One step at a time. First: get the fuck away from here. The shaman leaps for my throat, all transparent fury and snapping teeth. I'm already on the ground, so I brace, catch her and then body slam her wolfish form into the dirt beside me. Her momentum helps tip me upright, and I lean my elbow into her soft middle as I let loose another spell. Roots erupt from the ground, bursting in a targeted attack to snare everyone I can see. The old wolf gurgles as I hold her down for a snaking tendril to capture her head and pin it down. She whines when the thorns sprout. The guard immediately starts hacking at the plants grasping his legs with a hatchet. He has two, but is reserving his throw until I'm clear of Anura, I bet. A great big shining bubble appears over the smoldering bundle of dolls. Aziris is casting while stuck in place, trying to save the dolls from further damage rather than stop me. I'm fine with that. I gain my feet. I can hear shouts from the other side of the line of tents. Very soon this place is going to be too crowded for my tastes. I run for the edge of the rise and leap. The bluffwatcher's ax splits the tuft of my jungle flower hairdo and thuds into the totem trunk I'm aiming for. I can hear him spit some kind of shu'halo oaths behind me. I grab at the handle of the hatchet, using it's embedded head as an anchor. My grip is too weak. I have to use both hands to pull myself up and get my feet braced. Then I shove off and let myself fall onto the taut blue-stained roof of the longhouse on the lower rise. In another moment, those fighting to free themselves will be, and while my smoking distraction worked for the healers, it won't stop the Bluff's guardians. The roof bounces beneath me. I lose my balance and windmill, then curse myself as my toes skid along the leather. The angle is too steep! I race, clawing with hands and feet both at the roof as I scramble for the edge. I can hear Lomani's voice. Frantic to stop whatever cast she might be attempting, I let myself slide for the brief moment it takes to focus on her form and aim my own spell. A violent gust of air envelopes her. My feet hit a support beam hidden beneath the longhouse roof. I nearly fall right then from the sudden stop, but I'm close to the edge now. I leap for it, throwing my weight as best I can in that direction instead. My fingers hook around the thick wooden beam and find solid purchase in the texture of twine wrapped around it. Securely anchored now, it doesn't matter that I'm falling. I let my legs slide the rest of the way off the roof. I swing over the edge and twist to bring myself around. I drop almost neatly onto the bridge platform like I planned it. Ha! The tauren standing there fires his rifle point-blank.
  4. I know what the old shaman is saying. Her fingers twist into shapes and configurations, instead of her lips and tongue. It makes no difference. I've been here before countless times. There is a reason why I avoid cities. My best guess is that the stick I found belongs to someone they know. I can't quite discern from the other tauren if it is someone they like or not, but the undead... the expression on her face is telling. Her yellow eyes drift from me to the stick and back again. Given our previous discussion of absentee parents, I can fit two and two together to come up with the conclusion that I'm in deep shit. I don't know if I can talk my way out of this one. Orcs and trolls and goblins and elves, they are easy to dupe, if you know how. Tauren can be swayed with the appearance of respect or honesty, maybe pity especially. They are generally a good people, and if they have doubts they usually choose the moral high road. But these tauren are mad already, and that changes things. What the hell did I do now? Against my better judgment, I open my mouth. "Look, I been findin de stick, I been not knowin it were yours. Ya can be havin it back, I just kept it 'cause it were pretty. I can be leavin it wit ya and go on me way..." Before I can even think of taking a step, the Seer points a thick finger at me. "You will stay here, and if you value your life, you will remain very, very still." She had never even glanced in my direction. She was still watching the other lady 'talk'. "I be tinkin dere be some misunderstandin here, boss-lady. I done no ting wrong!" I protest. The bluffwatcher takes a step in my direction. I shut up. I can recognize an intimidating tactic when I see one. He's reminding me that I'm not in control here, that silver bitch is, and he'll enforce her directives. He's also wisely beyond easy reach of me, but I can tell by the way the ax sits his hand that he's pretty confident in his throwing ability. The old one finishes her ridiculously long finger speech with a snort of air through her nose. Lomani turns to me. "Where did you find this?" It's almost automatic to lie. The urge to make up something, anything to get them to let me leave, is strong. Immediately, I discard the idea. I don't know what it is the old woman knows, and if I'm caught telling falsehoods, that would guarantee more trouble. "I been walking de foothills, huntin. I can be pointin?" I ask permission, then indicate the direction. "Ova dat way. It were just layin dere, an no one be around, so I pick it up." Lomani looks at Anura, who nods. "There was an attack up there, are you aware?" The silver cow asks me. I shake my head. "There have been a great many battles. Demons encroaching from the sky, infiltrators sneaking their way into cities-" "I be no demon!" I shout, interrupting her. She glares with those creepy pale eyes of hers. "What exactly are you then?" she murmurs quietly. It's a question meant for me to hear, but perhaps no one else. The shaman frowns. I glare back, keeping my mouth shut now. Louder, she says "The scouts found evidence of an ambush against one who could change her shape. My sister. There was quite a lot of blood spilled there. Hoof marks, claw marks, boot prints... and too, evidence of one who remained back, on the rocks so as to leave no prints." "So? Why ya be tellin me dis? It weren't me." "You must admit, the circumstances are quite suspicious." My mouth blurts out loud the thought in my head. "No, it be really poor fuckin luck, is what it be." The silver seer glanced at Aziris sharply, and the two locked eyes for a moment. She turned back to me. "You maintain innocence, and I do not believe you. Would you consent to a reading of your thoughts?" "If I be sayin no, ya keep tinkin I done it. If I be sayin yes, den ya let me go?" My stomach begins to cramp. Tea biscuits are delicious, but a meal they do not make. With all the rest of this going on, it would figure it couldn't wait a while more. Poor luck indeed. I need to go. "I promise, if you let me see the truth, that you didn't harm my family, you can leave." Aziris tells me. I don't like it. I don't like it at all, but, it's either let them poke and prod, or... well I don't know what, but I know I don't want it. "Okie. Ya," I point at the undead. "Ya can. I be not doin what ya tink I been doin. See fo yaself." I'm not certain what to expect. Aziris stares at me. I'm afraid. Will there be pain? Can I hide things from her, or have I just given permission for that girl to go wandering anywhere she pleases? I don't know what's in here. What will she find? I expect it should hurt, somehow, to have one's privacy violated, so that's what I brace for. Nothing happens. Several long moments pass. The Forsaken stares at me without blinking. Everyone else stares at me or her. My stomach growls, and I try to ignore it. I wait. "I can't." she announces. What? That's not right. "Ya can. I said ya can! Be doin it so I can be leavin, please." "I said I can't. I'm no shadow priest, I can't force my way in. You've either lied and not truly given permission, or there is some other barrier blocking access. I. Can't." Aziris' tone is a degree colder. She thinks I'm lying. "Well be callin one who can, den. Being quick about it, I be havin places to go an people be seein, ya know. It be not fair ya keepin me here when I want to be leavin!" Anura claps her hands together to draw attention, and then she does her twisty hand thing at Lomani. The seer make a face. The shaman repeats herself, I recognize the pattern of the gestures. The younger woman sighs and apparently acquiesces to the elder. She nods. The old woman takes a few steps back and levers herself down onto her knees with the aid of a pine tree trunk. My curiosity temporarily overrides the sense of gravity for the situation I'm in. "Wat she be doin?" "She's calling someone."
  5. My neck twists, lips grinning, as I survey our grand picnic gathering. The Forsaken has the one doll, some holdover from a lost daughter or maybe her own living childhood. It is ragged now, but has the hallmarks of expert craftsmanship. The thing had once been lavishly expensive. Like everything, though, time has dulled the painted face, faded fabric colors and applied miniature scars of scrapes and scratches. The hair is bleached white. Perhaps once it had been yellow? She calls it Emily. I introduce her to the bear. I have no name for him, only hatred. In my head I can almost hear his voice condemning me. As always, the memory of that sound is elusive and I don't bother with the attempt to chase it down. That voice and all the rest is the stuff of nightmares and best left alone. It's enough for me to know he deserves what's coming to him. I feigned embarrassment at his lack of clothing, playing on the emotions of a human mind. The truth is that I do not know what the tauren druid looked like except as a bear, or a bird, and hadn't bothered to craft clothes for him. It seemed to work, and the undead set up the tea table. At the stump covered by her thin blanket, the dolls sit. Emily and my own created tauren. On their makeshift table is a miniature tea set of cups, saucers, and snack plates painted with delicate pink and yellow roses. It's just about the most ridiculous thing I can think of at the moment. What purpose does it serve to sit here and serve real food to pretend people? I'm a real person, let me eat all the food. Like the undead said, she doesn't need it. She really got into the act with very little prodding from me. I giggled in the right places, manipulated my effigy in a pantomiming of what I imagined to be a gentlemanly way, showing the ceramic-faced Emily to her seat and ensuring her comfort before trudging him over to sit opposite. Aziris is an attentive host and pulls me into the game instead of letting me merely play the doll's part. To my surprise, I actually start to have a little fun. "Ah, I believe I hear steam from the kettle," Aziris says in her play-voice, acting the hostess. She excuses herself to the kitchen to prepare the tea tray, which means she scoots off the blanket to arrange the picnic in better readiness for serving. She begins arranging tea cakes on a serving platter, and I notice that she has quite a few more than she actually sets out. My stomach growls. Is she going to feed us in courses, like a feast meal, or, more likely, will she be the conservative lady and set out just enough for the four of us? I had asked for a picnic of free food, not all this tea party mess. Now it threatens to lead to real human habits of old-fashioned politeness and stupidly dainty portions. I don't have time for this, I'm hungry! An idea occurs to me. "Lady Emily," I speak for my druid friend, "this be a fantastic-enough gathering, and ya friend be such a gracious hostess... ya be minding if I be inviting a few odda friends to be witness to ya hospitality? Dey never gonna believe I been meeting such lovely ladies like yaself, ya be seein..." More plates on my side of the table equates, in my mind, to more share of the tea cakes. Aziris pauses in her careful stacking of the little biscuit rounds. Her faces briefly blanks as her eyes scrutinize my doll again, lingering on the belly stitching in particular. I thought she had accepted my story of the doll's poor care and the need to play doctor to fix him up again, but I'm beginning to think the girl is a bit smarter than I've given her credit for. A troll with a homemade doll? That's not the least bit suspicious is it? Too late now. I've already admitted that I have more dolls, and besides that I'm hungry. I was already nearly caught by a bluffwatcher about to make off with a pair of plucked and hung striders. Only my own paranoia and a third quick scan kept him from actually witnessing a theft. Damned tauren. The tea cakes are my most immediate and certain source of calories for the moment, and having actually seen them now, it's really hard to not need them. "Be forgivin my presumption, nice lady. I only be meaning if ya have enough fo sharin...?" Aziris blinks away whatever thoughts lurk behind those glowing eyes and smiles at me. She picks up the tray of treats and moves it a few inches closer, as if she is returning from a faraway kitchen. "Emily, did I hear we are to have more guests? Why yes, dear Azi, Mister druid here was just askin if it would be alright to invite them to sample your delicious baking. Of course they are welcome! Bring them in, by all means! The more the merrier..." Aziris looks at me expectantly. "Please show them to the table, Derecho?" Something in her expression makes me believe that I have erred somehow, revealed something about myself that I hadn't quite meant to share. What secret have I lost? She sets the heaped serving tray down and picks up the abandoned stack of dessert saucers from earlier table-setting, waiting patiently to set a plate for each new arrival. I cannot help myself. I bring out T'suro the third. I introduce him, making the doll bow with a gracious sweep of his tiny little stick spear, and set him at the table. Aziris smoothly plays the role of hostess and sets a plate for him as she speaks for both herself and Emily. My second Lilliana joins the tea party, her fireweed hair is no longer scarlet but dried out and brownish. The plant strands crumble easily, and this doll is soon nearly bald from the rough manipulations of removing it from the cuff of my glove and setting it at the table. The second hidden face on the back of the head, with angry slitted eyes and slanted scheming mouth suddenly seems like a poor design choice. She peers at me. Aziris smiles again, and this time the impression of superiority is unmistakeable. Something she suspected has just been confirmed. She chooses that moment to begin serving, and my thoughts instead gloss to the pondering of what those little round cakes will taste like. Will they be dry and crumbly? Buttery? Does she have jam to go with them, or just the tea? How many will each puppet get to have? What about the real people? Aziris greets Lilliana and Emily compliments her dress. The undead splits the cakes in half and serves the rounds open-faced, one half to each puppet at the table. She places two cakes on the plate for me and as she passes it back, nonchalantly asks if there are any more guests that might like to arrive? She is well aware that Sanctuary and The Grim are quite large guilds. It's such a treat to be able to see them acting so amicably... I'm not quite sure how it happens, but the picnic blanket is soon filled with every random doll I have thought to create. Julilee with her driftwood shield. Kexti holding his stick topped with a snailshell jug of medicine. The monk doll's face is completely absent, instead having concentric circles, like a target. There is another paladin with both arms ending in tufts of yellow feathers. His name is Cerryan, though I don't know why I know that. A green doll with a giant heart stitched over most of the area of the torso and an angry face I recognize as Shokkra. Along with this one is another, very similar and plain except for the head, where the same yellow feathers stick out of the mouth along with a single red one. Is that supposed to be fire? Then there is the eyeless half-doll, missing it's legs and pudgier than the others with zigzags drawn over every inch of it's black-and-white form. Aziris watches as I pluck these from every nook and cranny of my armor. The dolls emerge from pockets, from under flaps beneath the bones caging my shoulders, from inside my bushy hair. I retrieve them from my vest, betraying the utter lack of breasts actually padding the garment. I refasten the studded leather guards against my shinbones after unpadding them with dolls. If the Forsaken is surprised by the number of my targets represented, she hides it well. She insists on having each one introduced by name if I'm able, and then directs them to their seat at the table as if she really were a grand hostess conducting an epic social event in her home, instead of a silly girl playing dolls on the edge of a bluff behind a bunch of tents. With each new arrival the stack of tea cakes becomes smaller and soon enough there are no more plates. Each additional doll gets a napkin and a biscuit in their lap. We end with only two unclaimed treats, which she adds to my plate with the smooth excuse that the person who had made her tea party such an extravagant affair should rightfully receive an extra portion. She invites us all to please enjoy our tea, blowing gently on her own tiny cup as if to cool it and then sipping. I'm ecstatic, surveying my little army of dolls each with half a tea cake. Along with the tea, this will be an excellent meal. I proceed to eat and drink happily, occasionally voicing a different character. "Oh miss Aziris, dis be de bestest party I eva been to. Ya be so nice to be hostin it. Pfft, less talkin and more passing o de sugar, firefly. Shokkra, bein nice to our lady host! No demonkilla weapons at de table. Be eatin some o dat sugar, ya, improve ya attitude. Miss Emily, ya must be sharin de name o ya tailorin guy, Julilee always be wearin de armor, see, and if she be having a dress she be lookin mighty fine, right? Lilliana, no flingin o de crumbs at ya Sanctuary, now, we all be here nicelike..." The Forsaken gradually quiets, contributing less and less to the pretend as I find myself swept up in the story of it. I nibble at every doll's tea cake for them, doing my best to be dainty about it and take small bites after my own biscuits vanish. This is a lot more fun than I had thought it could be. It's nice to have someone just sit with me and be friendly. It makes me miss that bartender. Everyone has gone to the new islands. I wonder if perhaps it is time for me to follow them. I don't see Aziris fold her arms, watching me. She discreetly inserts a hand up one sleeve, finding something hidden there. As she sits, watching me eat and play nice with her doll and the crafted representation of everyone I wish to see dead or maimed, her thumb rubs a small oblong device between her fingers, activating it. When I glance to her to smile, still happy at this whole picnic thing and cheeks full with doll food, her own lips twist upwards in response.
  6. Tomeya Summers (in-game:Tomeya) Human Hunter Well, her momma may've been some high and snooty lady took a liking to her poor daddy once, but there weren't no place for bastard kids in fancy-pants lands. The result of that passionate tussle in the stable loft showed up at his doorstep nine months later in the arms of 'ol Nanny. Tomeya done growed all up, and is earning tips as a serving girl. Can't blame her for using the charms her momma musta gave her. If a drunkard gets too grabby, there's always daddy's shotgun to back them off, if she don't just sic her big-a** dog on 'em! She might have more brains than your average Redridger, but there's a lot to be said for upbringing. She's as hick as any of them and if you don't believe it, just go up against that girl in the annual turkey shoot. She's been winning that Pilgrim's Bounty bird since she were knee-high to a grasshopper, and she'll do it agin or her last name ain't Summers!
  7. Creepy hmmmmm? I shall have to think a while. Creepy..... yes.... I can do that.
  8. ((Poor guy! I'm enjoying these glimpses at his life.))
  9. The troll druid Derecho stayed behind and is actively avoiding the Broken Isles. Given reasons include risks to her person associated with a major city like Dalaran- she doesn't want to get blighted by angry Forsaken or arcane-whomped by mages... she's got a bit of a short fuse, you know, and in a conflict people usually don't take the side of the beggar/thief/lower-class participant. ((Derecho does not have Legion)) Derecho is still causing mischief! ((Please let me cause mischief?)) There are opportunities for anyone of Borrowed Time, The Grim, Sanctuary, or allies not in those guilds that participated in RP plots of the past year or so to be targeted magically. This is true for [A] Twilight Empire and other Alliance folks as well. There also currently happens to be ZERO countermeasures being undertaken. No one is working to protect victims from future attacks. No one is working on finding out who is responsible. Be a magical target. Or be an anti-villain! If no one is interested in stopping Derecho, I'm going to OOCly start asking for alt redshirts to begin ghosting. Or something. Did you not have a hand in those plots? If you're of the mischief-making kind, Derecho needs people to 'champion' her cause on the physical level too. At times she can be rather weak, and holds grudges for those that slight her. She'd love to send some smashy-rawr type folks after these targets. Maybe your toon doesn't like dirty people, beggars, leeches, 'useless' citizens, scavengers, etc and is a bully or played a trick on her? Maybe your toon would want to stop bullying and protect an innocent poor person? Maybe you have another reason to get involved. Be a physical target, or be a knee-breaker sent after one. ((Knee-breakers could be sent after anyone, such as Sanctuary or The Grim, so if your toon is hesitant ICly about flaring up those tensions, GTFO. Unless of course your toon is ICly trying to investigate or halt antagonism, in which case, carry on, the plot will continue with your spin on it too,.)) Get involved with the Derecho storyline! EDIT: Nevermind
  10. The orc holds her ground. The grim line of her lips is evidence that she's had enough of raptor games. She could call for help, but doesn't. She's an orc, and this is only two raptors, for now. What if I had thought to magic a whole pack of animals? Would she still stand and fight then? She watches, her back to the river and to the rock face of the wall behind it. Both threats to her are in front, heads bobbing and weaving slightly as they advance growling, looking for weakness in their prey. The third raptor appears, like an echo of the first, to Shokkra's right. It steps from thin air along the banks of the water's course. This one is also hided in blue, with bands of mottled green marring the surface of the skin in a similar fashion to the way the moss on my own skin grows. This raptor could be considered the smallest of the three, female, and she is skinny. Instantly, she becomes my favorite. My Ekko. Her ridged head is lowered. She takes a slow step, calculating. I love the serious viciousness I can see in that gaze. Ekko means business. Ekko is here for blood. The pair of raptors in front continue to bob and weave slightly, growling, looking for an opportunity. They are distractions, but the new arrival is noticed, this time. Shokkra shifts position as she spots the female. Her back now faces the cliffs at an angle. I am rather elated at this. She learned! I could cheer. I remain still, my belly pressed flat against the hot rock of the column and I don't make a sound to betray my position. Instead, my raptors cheer for me. All three straighten, standing up tall on their legs. They emit a few glugging chirps each in a small chorus of them. Shokkra does not understand. She squints at the reptiles, and her confusion is clearly painted on her face. What the shit are they up to? She's wasted an opportunity, perhaps. She could have attacked while they were up, taken advantage of their open posture and higher tipping point. She doesn't. She's given me an opportunity though, and I don't waste it. The orc has learned one lesson. It's time she got the point of the other. Blue lunges for Shokkra! Shokkra is only a second later to react, lunging herself in what I feel is more of an instinctive action than a calculated one. One ax arcs towards Blue's head while the other cleaves lower towards his leg on the blind side. The raptor tries to snap Shokkra's arm in it's jaws. He never even sees the other weapon. Shokkra screams as her arm is clamped onto, his jaws going through the tough leather wrappings and glove as if nothing is there. The ax to his leg hits true and embeds. Blue whelps in pain as well. Their voices briefly mix before lungs expel their volume. Shokkra yanks backwards, trying to free her lower ax from where it's stuck in Blue's leg to try to free it. The raptor assists. Blue tosses his head like a frostwolf with a dog toy, trying to thrash his prey into weakness as well as loosen whatever claw had hold of his leg. His packmates watch intently from the sidelines, looking for openings of their own in which to join in. Shokkra cries out in pain as skin and muscle are ripped apart by the thrashing. Bloody white bone is visible underneath Shokkra's glove as her own weight is yanked around. Meat separates. The orc slides in that toothy grip as her flesh becomes unanchored. Desperately, Shokkra strikes her freed ax at Blue's other eye, hoping to blind the creature. With his jaws already occupied there is no way to dodge that even if he could see it coming. Shokkra's blade cuts. Blue roars! The raptor jerks as his jaws open involuntarily. For a moment it looks as if he will hurl the orc right at D'Eltah. Shokkra flies over to the side, but something snags. Instead of a beautiful arc to D'Eltah, the warrior ends up in more of a spike to the ground. The orange male leaps anyway, having anticipated the throw. Shokkra tumbles in the rocky red grit and dirt, but quickly rolls to her feet to face the threat. D'Eltah looks almost disappointed. He wanted to play catch! Shokkra's right arm is extremely hurt. Blood seeps from the gruesome wound more and more as the seconds pass, creating a dark puddle beneath her. Ekko stalks. If her brother doesn't act fast, she's going to intervene. The littler female sniffs the air, waffling in the scent of Shokkra's blood flow. Shokkra shuffles to prevent being flanked. Blue has stumbled sideways down the incline to the river. He's hung and leaning on a scraggly scrub bush. The unsteadiness of his stance indicate to me that something terrible might be happening inside that skull of his. His head hangs low, wavering, sightless. He's done. I gesture, willing the gorgeous hunter away. His form begins to evanesce. D'Eltah launches himself forward at Shokkra. He keeps low, stout legs propelling him fast and smoothly. His prey roars with immortal orcish fury. He returns the challenge with his own voice. They clash. Shokkra is ready for him. She smashes D'Eltah's toothy maw aside and rains blow after blow of pure hate down on him. Her single ax swings are counterbalanced by the ruin of her other arm. The limb slings dark droplets. The orc in the midst of a bloodfury enacts her will without regard for something as trivial as pain or the weakness trying to creep in as her lifeblood seeps out. D'Eltah never does get his head back in line to attack. The warrior follows ax blows with vicious kicks, beating him down. His thick hide protects him for a few seconds, as the orc is too furious, too wild, to land a solid strike between the tougher dorsal scales. D'Eltah's neck runs red from several shallower slices before he realizes his own peril. He did not expect a crippled target to be so vicious. Where did she summon the strength? Then Shokkra's ax hits and sticks. The orange male had been trying to turn away. Her blade wedges between scales and vertebrae as D'Eltah topples. The orc doesn't relent. Disarmed, she follows the reptile as he plows into the dirt. Her foot descends with a sickening crack to his ribcage. Her fist hits against his thigh after she narrowly avoids being gutted by a desperate kick to try and heave the angry green woman away. She grabs for her ax. Ekko leaps! Shokkra recalls the third raptor and tries to spin to face little blue female, but she's not fast enough. The raptor's maw bites into Shokkra's plated shoulder. Teeth sink in deep, not hindered at all by the seeming protection of metal armor. Shokkra screams again. She tries to heave her weapon at Ekko's bulk as the hunter's momentum drive the both of them off D'Eltah. The ax glances off. They land hard in the dirt. Ekko stumbles. Her heavy foot lands heedlessly on her prey as the raptor tries to keep her balance. Shokkra gasps for air as the raptor's weigh settles, and a series of pops sound in succession as ribs begin failing. The reptile shifts weight back off her prey. She tightens her jaws slightly, reaffirming that her hold is good. She tries to pin her prey so that she can release the grip of her jaws. The second scythe talon on Ekko's foot sinks deeply into the center of Shokkra's chest. The smaller dew claw pierces the point between neck and shoulder where armor should be protecting the warrior... but isn't. The orc yells hoarsely. With grabbing her knives out of the question, Shokkra instead fumbles at the soft underside of Ekko's neck and attempts to shove the point of her weapon in. There isn't enough room to get any strength behind a swing even if her wounds allowed the movement. Ekko chomps down viciously in an attempt to discourage whatever this prey's thrashing is about. Her teeth are on the wrong side, and this does nothing to disable. Shokkra grunts with the pain, but shoves harder against the axhead. Something gives. Ekko jerks upright, stepping back, but doesn't release her jaws. The orc is yanked upwards. Her ax falls away from blood-slickened fingers. In a moment, there will be a thrashing just like Blue did, only this time the technique would be fatal. Shokkra doesn't wait dangling in the raptor's mouth for it to happen. The warrior swings and locks a knee behind Ekko's neck, giving her the angle she needs. Her hand slides along the sticky surface of tough hide. She finds the tear and jams her hand into the hot hole. Ekko starts to shake her head, but it's too late. Shokkra seizes anything she can get her grip around. The raptor gurgles and gags, her maw hinging open, and staggers several steps toward the waterfalls plunge. Two swipes fail to dislodge the cling-on throttler. Shokkra then straightens her hooked leg and pushes hard with the other, giving the best shove she can manage while holding the insides of the raptor's neck. She drops down in a swing before losing her grip on the slick stringy mess she'd yanked loose. She flops to the ground, rolling perilously close to the cliff's edge. Ekko hacks, spattering the stone with dark spray. She pulls in a garbled breath, only to choke and expel it back out again in another cough, struggling to breathe. The little female staggers, drowning, and catches sight of Shokkra lying there. The raptor uses the last of her energy to lunge for the orc. I cannot tell if she hit and took Shokkra with her, or if the orc rolled over the edge on purpose and Ekko merely fell on the precipice and followed. They both disappear. I stare, somehow transfixed. They're gone. The chasm is empty. After a moment, it occurs to me to look to the pond down in the Valley of Honor. A small figure lays there in the shallows. She must have been very lucky to avoid the rocks and land in deep water. How had she managed to swim with those injuries? Maybe she'd held her breath and merely pushed along the bottom. Slowly, Shokkra emerges from the dark water spreading around her and crawls toward some unknown destination. Perhaps her guild maintains a base here in the city and she's hoping for, of all things, sanctuary.
  11. "Lilliana! I be likin her so much. She be much fun. She be gettin bored real easy, and so if ya stay close, sometin fun be bound to happen. De girl always got food to be sharin, and she like to be. I be not hungry when I be findin her near by." "She got a mean streak, dough. Be not lettin her bored when ya be de only one roundabouts to be de focus on. She done gave me dis drink once... set me on fire!" "She be not knowin me any mo den de rest, but she took a likin. She stand up fo me when odder people want to be puttin me down. She got in de way when dat Blood Knight elfie T'suro been tryin to put de chrome bracelets on an cart me off to a cage. I be not knowin why. I be knowin I weren't deservin dat time, but dere be plenty odder reasons to be lockin me up. It be a special person, I be tinkin, dat would be interferin on behalf o me. I be a nobody." "I be likin her."
  12. 'He fed me. I be likin him fo dat. But.... he look down on people. May it be not me dis time, but he be havin a stance like he been better den odders. Ya can be seein it in his face, he be smirkin all o de time. Been makin me want to be punchin him and see if dat be fixin it." "He coughin a lot. An he got dat jug of stuff wit him always drinkin. I wonder if it be medicine. He be sick? May it be he got booze in it. I be powerful curious..."
  13. Derecho


    "He done tricked me into de canon at de fair. I been shot out up high into de air! It weren't funny, and I be not likin him."
  14. Derecho


    "He be always havin food! An he been eatin it too, but if ya just go up an ask nice-like -an it be helpin to look a bitty bit scary too- well den, he be happy enough to share an git ya gone. Been workin fo me, anyhow."
  15. "She be dumber den a box o rocks, an twice dat heavy. She got mo brawn den brains, most time, but dat can be fixed, wit enough time. Ting is, dere be precious little o dat dese days. She be a real good fighter, dough. If'n she can just open dem eyes o hers, she could bein a real torn in de side of a big ol demon army. Bigass torn. Huge. Den may it be she can be livin long enough to be havin de time to figure de rest o de stuff out. I tink dat be why she bein so bitchy all o de time. She don't be havin de common sense to be expressin what she be feelin, so she get mad, and den dat be all dat comes out- de madness and de meaness." "Be sharpenin up dat tool she be, be pointin her at de Legion fo de ass-kickin, and be lettin her go. Aftah de dust settles, if we be all still breathin, den may it be she can be learnin de next lessons of how to act like a person an not de meaness. Or..." "May it be a demon goin slap her down. Dat be okie wit me too."
  16. "Tahzani be a friend to me, if dat be havin any meaning nowadays. He be havin a kind word fo me even when I be not havin kind toughts fo meself. He be makin me forget fo a while dat de world be shit." "Ya be knowin, dat bartendah be decievin. He be small for a troll guy, but he be havin workin muscles. I been seein him haul dem kegs around... day comes when he be mad enough fo a fight, I be not bettin on de odder guy. And too, he ain't just bein a waiterman. He been havin too much smarts and knowledge. Dat guy be knowin voodoo..." "He be happy it were seemin to work so hard at de bar. People should be knowin how lucky dey be. He could be out makin trouble. He could be twistin tings 'round to whatever suits his fancy. But he don't. He be likin servin drinks. Dat make him happy, I be guessin." "If ya call fo help and dis guy be comin, ya can be knowin everting goin be alrigh. An if he be choosin not to help... well den, may it be ya not be wort savin."
  17. I find the orc rather easily. She's in a poor location high above the Valley of Honor, overlooking it beside a waterfall that has carved out it's path over millennium of flowing. Sound is deadened here. Left of the orc warrior, water crashes into broken bits of rocks collected and snagged at the edge of a fluid leap. The rounded chasm curves behind, high rock walls echoing with the thunder of a smaller fall leaking from the mountainside. The spiked roof of a watchtower butts up to the chasm, but otherwise, there is nothing up here. Perhaps that is why she chose the spot. The orc is hunched, knees pulled up to her chest with her arms overtop. Her head is buried against them. From the looks of her, she might be crying? I have no way of knowing that she is the one that stabbed Khorvis earlier, nor would I care if I did. I lack a single ounce of sympathy. I land at the top of a stone column to watch. It takes only a moment. As Shokkra sniffles, an emerald shimmer manifests in the air behind her. The image of a sleek raptor coalesces from nothing, then solidifies. It's blue scaly hide is a vibrant contrast to the red banded rocks, a clash of my favorite colors. Unlike a real animal, this one has singular purpose, and as soon as it's formed it begins stalking to enact my will. If I am the alpha, this is the beta. I decide to name it Blue. A male, if I don't miss my guess. Yellow slitted eyes stare ahead at the lone prey. The muted scratch of a talon on stone is the only warning Shokkra has, and even that might not be heard over the rush of water. Blue hunches in range, muscles bunching in preparation for the leap. The orc warrior groans, sounding pained, but her instincts are good. She rolls to the right, over the axes laying on the stone beside her. Her weaker hand tucks a dagger into the sheath at her belt line. She prepares for combat, but is surprised when she lays eyes on her opponent. For a second, all the orc does is blink stupidly. Abandoning surprise tactics, Blue lowers his head and growls, advancing slowly now in the gaze of his prey. From my place high above, I can see a second raptor shimmer into being. This one is an orange male, lingering to the side behind Shokkra's periphery and not yet moving. He waits. The darker scales along his back blend well with the stone he spawned in. Blueish stripes serve to break up his silhouette near the water's edge. He is not hidden by any means, and yet, motionless, he can remain unseen. Shokkra has not learned. The warrior gets over her surprise quick enough, and charges directly at the threat presented. Does she not remember at all how this works? If a raptor could smile, that might be the expression on Blue's face as the orc charges him. His legs flex, hopping his bulk backwards a bit. Shokkra keeps coming on, already swinging before she's in proper range to strike. Blue roars, and his second, I'll call him D'Eltah, explodes into motion. Shokkra's blades are an arcing whirlwind of death as they strike at Blue and all around her. She wastes momentum and energy in wild swinging like that. Blue takes two solid hits among all the glancing blows as he avoids the orc. A vicious switchback crunches his eye ridge and slices across his vision. D'Eltah leaps from the side right as Blue snaps back at the orc's ax-claws half-blinded. The orange torpedo leads with both feet like a monk, twisting sideways for a better angle in the attempt to hit and grab his prey. He's a bit high. Shokkra is barreled over by D'Eltah, his feet grasping for purchase. Claws rend deep, through the orc's plate shoulders and leather harness. She takes the hit and rolls with it, letting the ground absorb some of the impact and jar loose those talons. She twists, and D'Eltah's grip, though punishing, is weak enough that she pulls free as his bulk rolls further. Shokkra immediately stumbles back to her feet, placing her back to the river as she watches the raptors. The warrior is bleeding profusely. In her battle-haze, it hasn't quite registered, but I saw the strike. Like the attack on T'suro, this victim is wearing armor which is useless to her now. Raptor talons pierced without hindrance. Both raptors look amused, the first one sadistically so with that injured eye swelling shut. Their expressions echo my own gleeful grinning at the success of the spell. 'That's what the armor is for', hmm? How soon until the orc realizes that her precious protection is worthless? She cannot rely on the crutches of her heavy plate and sheer fortitude of will. The proud orc will learn to open her eyes, or she will die. My pair of teachers have evolved and been molded by generations of successes to excel at the task of feeding themselves. They communicate. They trust. They work together to outsmart and overwhelm prey both bigger and stronger than themselves. The people of Azeroth could learn much from the lower forms of life they so often scorn and dismiss. My teachers turn and stalk Shokkra.
  18. A person needs a truly kind heart to be able to take in abuse and turn out, not a continuation of the cycle, but a transformation. There are folks who can suffer, day in and day out, and they weather it. They'll absorb, like little sponges cleaning up the world. These people are rare. I might have been one of those, once upon a time. Eventually, though sponges stay too long above the waterline. Eventually the purest filters become clogged and tainted. The prisms fracture, and the light they shine may still be pure and colorful, but what use is a rainbow in the dark? Perhaps those people are outliers. Rare freaks of nature that should never be. Eventually, abnormalities in nature either become the norm as the rest of the world evolves to match, or, far more likely, the beautifully unique are murdered. They don't belong, and what stands out is vulnerable. Kind hearts wither and die, or are swiftly cut out. This I have learned. Experience is the hardest of teachers. So it is that after Baalthemar's partner was allowed to abuse me, I'd had enough. There are times I can still take it and absorb. There are times when I shrug off the injustices and can ignore. This was not one of those times. He'd taken a decent and calm day and turned it to something ugly. He stole that from me. More precious than any material thing, that thief Nathandiel robbed me of peace. He annihilated it. After Tahzani had delivered me safely away from it all, and after I fail over and over and over again to catch the fish that he'd promised were plentiful, I've had enough. The void of tranquility left behind quickly fills with the default fury. It rages in me, building like thunderhead clouds buoyed by the hot winds below. My initial inclination is for revenge, but it won't work. Nathandiel's is not a face I recognize from my dreams. I could go through the trouble of crafting a doll, surely, and waste my time to prove it, but always before my assumptions have held validity. It will take time and precious energy to track him, much more to exact a satisfying conclusion to the conflict he has initiated. I will wait for a better opportunity. I ponder instead all of the of names in my vendetta list. I cannot sit still, there must be a passing on in the cycle. Violence begets violence, and I am in the mood for the blood that has been denied me. I scroll through their faces until my mind's eye rests upon one in particular. This one can easily be transferred guilt for the ruining of my day in proxy for the one I cannot touch. This one is deserving of a hard lesson. Tahzani was right about one thing. There is plenty of shrubbery in the place he took me, with tough, malleable stalks that bend rather than snap off easily. I have to use a stone tool to saw off the pieces that I want. The dry grasses here in this place provide easy bulk, and their sawtooth texture lends well to the creation of a wall of interlocked fiber without the need for weaving. In no time at all I have the materials for a doll. The success of this endeavor has a satisfying speediness, when my quest for fish to eat was such a frustrating failure. It feels right, to be working toward this goal. The offhanded nature of Tahzani's outspoken suspicion weighs on my mind as I tie knots to give my effigy form. His accusation wasn't one, in the sense that he hasn't summoned a squadron of guards to haul me away to some tiny terrible lockup for the good of the community at large. He has not struck back for causing his woman suffering. This leads me to assume that perhaps he, too, is fishing, and failing. Perhaps he has taken too many cues from his mate and is trying to play mind games. Does he know I stabbed T'suro, or doesn't he? Does he know I made Lilliana sick? I get the sense that, rather than being prey squarely in the crosshairs of the hunter's aim, I am merely treading on ground seeded with his traps. He knows the quarry is near, but not quite where, or else I feel I'd be running for my life instead of being set down alone in prime doll-making territories. Perhaps the confrontation earlier that ended in beautiful blood leaking out had angered him. I can only assume it was inter-guild fighting again, for who else but me would dare target a Grim? Perhaps Tahzani does know I am the mysterious hexxer, as he named me, but seeks to guide my efforts. Perhaps, as he said, he is okay with what I'm doing. The hunter's field I tread in is unfamiliar, but even now I have generally good prey instincts. I sense the traps, but not the full shape of them. He may have proclaimed approval for my actions, but there is no way of knowing if he meant my own attacks. Perhaps he spoke of how I did not fight back against Nathandiel. Maybe he is trying to show support for the scavenger. My intuition tells me this isn't so. I believe he is trying to bait me into a word or act of confession. That he might be paying attention, though, is a useful thing to know. Never let your prey be aware they are hunted. He knows I like dolls, hmm? I clamp the root end of a grass stalk in my teeth to pull gently, cinching the knot held tight beneath my thumb. This doll is plain, just like the prior two. I set it aside. I scrounge in my pockets for my craft supplies. A small pile accumulates from my efforts. Feathers, bits of hide. Scales. Tiny teeth from a variety of smaller vermin meals. The one pocket I delve into is still damp. My questing fingers pause, feeling the moisture, and I withdrawn them tinted red. Blood. The cloth I'd attempted to sop up Khorvis' blood with was sodden, and had lain here secure for a good several minutes before the elf had bypassed all my thrashing to retrieve it. I bring my fingers up to my nose, inhaling deeply of the faint copper smell. A moment later my fist is in my mouth, all three fingers, as I suck at them. Delicious. I pull at the pocket I'd found, eying it's shadowed depths. Wouldn't that be a good way to mindscrew the bartender right back? I quickly loosen my belt and peel off the strappy britches, letting them turn inside out. I plop bare-assed onto the hot red hardpack of Durotar's ground, intent on the many flaps sewn inside my clothes. There! The stained lining is easy enough to find. Impatient, I bring the fabric up and simply impale a seam on my tusk, then tug downwards, hard. Fibers stretch, strain, then rip. The wet weave is weaker than the stitching itself, and I'm left with a layer of lining with only a thin strip stitched to it's edge. The pocket is ruined, but I have what I want. The soaked fabric is already nearly in my mouth. I cannot resist. I swivel the patch, poking it between my lips and sucking. My own spit rehydrates the fibers, my tongue pushing and pulling in an attempt to get the flavor from the threads. The hint of life is poor substitute for drops of the real thing. Frustrated, I push the stupid pocket wad back out and unhook from the tusk that ripped it. I wring the cloth, twisting viciously over the plain grass doll, letting the fluid seep out and fall into it. I spit too, for good measure. Damn that Nathandiel. He called me a thief, but he's the one that took. A moment of smoothing, a moment to rearrange and calculate. I get to work, poking the thin grass reeds through the fabric root-side first so as to not fight the sawtooth texture. I sew a crude dress, reminiscent of the dark color of the one Lilliana actually wears. The Tahzani doll gets a worse outfit, nothing more than a bit of hide rolled around it like a kilt. The details in that costume are solely in the tiny teeth braided into a tiny harness. I never claimed to be a master craftsman. Tahzani wants to see dolls? He'll get dolls. I survey my handiwork, satisfied. I redress and tuck the pair into my gloves, leaving the last figure woefully lying in the dirt. It's head is overlarge, the grasses discolored where I'd wet it. I rock up onto my feet to scoop up the pitiful thing. I sniff. I smell the hint of blood, overlaying the essence of my own old sweat and the flavor medley of past meals eaten from my spittle. It's a faint aroma, but it's enough. I cradle the doll to my face as I have with all the others. I croon to it, letting the magic flow with my breath. The doll receives an identity from my will alone. The link is established. It's getting easier and easier to do. Soon, I wonder if I will even need a physical object to act upon. I unfold to my full height, scanning. Before Deathwing broke the world, raptors used to be plentiful in these parts. Now there are only elementals confused and warring against each other. Crocolisks roam the soggy marshlike shore. Somewhere, I know the reptiles I want still track these lands. I clutch the featureless doll in my fingers and shift to the bat. It doesn't take long to spot a roaming team of my favorite hunters. I swoop low, antagonizing them. They have a kill shared between them, and do not appreciate the harassment. The bat's leathery wings are agile. I dive-bomb them again. Three times. As I narrowly avoid their snapping jaws at the apex of their leaping reach, I open my claws. Shokkra's doll plummets into their midst. The raptors fixate. Already angry, they are not stupid. They know in a moment that the thing is not alive. They alternatively snuffle, investigating. It smells like food. It smells like prey. The alpha female bites, tasting it. Irritated then to discover my scent deception, the raptor tosses her head, shaking the doll. Her packmates are happy to help. A game of keep-away-and-chase quickly obliterates the fragile creation. Fragments of Shokkra filter softly to the grasses after the doll is torn apart. Game over, the raptors scan the sky for me, perhaps wondering if I will gift them with another toy, or another opportunity for chase. I'm no longer there. With the destruction of the doll, I'm winging away toward Orgrimmar. I follow the very faint trail of magic as it seeks the target. I don't want to miss this.
  19. ((This discussion occurred sometime during Legion Invasions, after Broken Shore, and is included as a bridge to Derecho's 2nd attack.)) Derecho eyes Shokkra up and down. [Derecho]: "Where be ya demon poker stick?" [Shokkra]: "Taken from me on the shore. Waiting for the assault to reclaim it." Derecho gasps at Shokkra. [Derecho]: "Ya be jokin. Ya playin?" [Shokkra]: "Armor got shredded by an infernal exploding into me. Dropped my axe, got picked up by the val'kyr and taken to the medics." [Derecho]: "Ya be fuckin serious.... of all de... Didn't somebody know to be grabbin it! Like any body? I been tinkin it were important, but oh no, let's all be just leavin de ting lying around..... De FUCK" Derecho seems rather upset about this. [Shokkra]: "Demon probably has it. I'll kill it and take it back." [Derecho]: "Where be hitting de infernal?" [Shokkra]: "Hit my tits." [Derecho]: "How ya been letting it get ya den? Weren't ya payin no attention? Or ya been too focused on some odder ting in front o ya face to be seenin a bigass ball o FIRE?" [Shokkra]: "You've clearly never been in a warzone." Derecho sneers. [Derecho]: "I be knowin how ta dodge. Dey be comin from the fel-damned sky. Not like dey be hard to be seein! An dey shoosh down wit noise an everting!" [Shokkra]: "When you're surrounded by other demons, an the sky will be the last thing you focus on." [Derecho]: "Ya, if'n I be ready to be a ghost. Ya... ya been dumb. [Shokkra]: "That's what the armor's for." Shokkra grunts. [Derecho]: "'Dat's what de...' YA BE FUCKIN STUPID!" [Shokkra]: "What's your point?" [Derecho]: "Wat ya done need de medic fo? Huh? 'Dat's wat de armor's for' *mimics* De armor done protect ya? Done it?" [Shokkra]: "Because if it weren't for my plate I would have died. Got knocked out, a broke a few ribs, scraped up a bit." [Derecho]: "Oh dat been makin it all okie. Ya been not dyin dis time, so we be callin it good." [Shokkra]: "What would you suggest?" [Derecho]: "Bein less fuckin dumb. Dat be wat. OPEN YA EYES. Be payin attention, orcie." Shokkra grunts. [Derecho]: "BAH! Wastin me own air, I be. Ya..." Derecho points at Shokkra. [Derecho]: "Ya gone be dead quicker den me." Derecho snorts derisively at Shokkra. [Derecho]: "Dumbass" [Shokkra]: "Doubtful." [Derecho]: "Shut de fuck up. I be done talkin. Ya ain't been learnin NUFFIN." Shokkra grunts. Derecho jumps through the waterfall, shifting, and flies away.
  20. I hear Lilliana screech objection. "STOP!" She and Tahzani both run interference on my behalf, and succeed. They stop him. I slink into hiding, weaving my feline body around and between a maze of crates until I'm lost. I turn around and snake back. I wedge myself between two crates with an iron fence grating in my view on one side and the rest of the room out there. Only from above can anyone sneak up on me now. The cramped space feels safe, somehow. The elf sighs. He passes off the twenty-five coins he'd made such a fuss over. "See she get this, and gets a proper meal in her." Lilliana 's jaw drops. Tyinielran looks at Tahzani "Do that for me?" The three of them say nothing more to each other that I can quite catch, but they part without trading blows, only the coins. On the other side of the room, T'suro's voice has commanded my twitchy and shortening attention span. My stomach cramps on the embers smoldering inside. The paladin walked up to his guildmate and thrust another pouch at her. She raised a brow and asked what she could help him with. "This is what you gave the demon hunter. Like him or not, be mindful of the oaths. You were out of line, calling him a demon's pet." he says. Senahri squints at him, then looks at the Grims in attendance, then back at him. Her acknowledgment is curt. "They're allies, whether we like it or not. don't give them reason to leave. We need their power." "Uh huh, Yesh shir." she slurs a slightly less antagonistic agreement. I cannot believe the pretty paladin has just paid for me. Perhaps if I were a conscientious person, I might care. If the debt were legitimate, which it was not. I get no satisfaction from making him waste his coins. They mean nothing. This is a lie. Money does mean something. It is evil. I shift, safe in my hiding place. My troll hips wedge against the barrier to both sides but I fit, if barely. A troll pelvis is wider than the tiger's. I fish the coin pouch from my glove, and then I have to really reach to retrieve the hex bag. I yank the drawstring loose and stuff the smaller pouch inside the other, then cinch it tight. I stick the coin purse in my mouth, and shift again. I can hear people talking all over now. The demon hunter is a safe distance away, confronted by that scary ax-wielder. The troll is slouching, and still he towers above the Illidari. Tyinielran looks up at the troll " You don't scare me, troll. This horde is fine, maybe, as long as it kills the legion. I'm not here for fighting trolls." "Good. We on da same page den. Da legion be our goal. An Ah don need ta scah naone. Makin people frightened be da jobs a cowads." He leans eye to eye with the smaller elf. "Sa, end dis fude. Be a time fo 'membarin da lost." "Xi daz il parn lok Thorje maz x melAr ashj nagas arakalada x raka lok Ashjraka re amanare ur" I cannot tell if this bout of nonsensical demonic words is meant as an answer to the troll or not. He takes it as such. He listens to the elf spout his strange tongue and waits for him to finish. "Ah 'ope dat be a 'Ah agree'," he says bluntly. "We done wit dis fude nah? Be erytin settled?" Tyinielran nods at the troll. "See the other troll gets the money." The guy looks at this elf for a moment, but maintains the disposition of a barkeep even still. Without anger: "Dat one will do w'at dat one will da. Nah violence will be cause 'o it, eh? If ya let dat be dat, Ahm gon ta go back ta drinkin fa mah wahc'ief." He grips the twin axes he left embedded in the wood floor and pulls them out, sheathing them. He then sits back down to pick up his drink and take a long swig. My ears finally pick out the low murmurings of Lilliana and Tahzani. I pad softly over to them and find another nook to creep out from. Lilliana is right there. Tahzani is saying how this is one of the dumbest nights he has ever witnessed. She replies, her voice low in a sort of half-whisper. "At least like, none of it's my fault....right.......?" Nope, it's mine. I learn from the best, I guess. I reach forward and gently, so as not to startle her, paw at the hem of Lilliana's robe as she stands there. The priestess glances to me, sees me staring up at her from this miserable crouch, then reaches a hand to pat me. Really? What part of 'I'm not a pet' did she not understand earlier? She just pet me. If I had a brief moment of regret for what I was about to do, which I haven't, it would have been gone then. This bitch set me on fire because she thought it was funny. Sulfuron Slammers are not funny. Cockroaches. Not funny. Rocks, poisons, trick elixirs, false directions to buffets, these are all NOT funny. Lilliana was supposed to be my friend, and in her I have fixated a target for all of the frustrations dealt to me as a perceived lower-class citizen. I drop the small pouch from my mouth at Lilliana's feet without regrets, and with no remorse. I nudge it to her with my paw in case she neglects to notice it. My friend reaches over to snatch up the small pouch. She doesn't question why I'm giving her such a thing, and she doesn't check it. Instantly, the spell redirects. The absence of flames in my gut makes me sigh audibly in relief. I welcome the familiar and manageable ache of normal hunger in it's place. This I know. After only just a moment, I notice Lilliana wilt. She leans against the stack of boxes Tahzani is perched atop. She's lost the spark of willfulness that comes from high spirit as a different sort of flame begins to make itself felt. It's extremely difficult to pretend to be not sick when you really are very much so. Illness has a way of forcing truthfulness. She stretches her back in the same way I had earlier, and I suppress a smirk. Set me on fire, will you? Let's see how you burn. Out in the open areas, the Illidari has gone and directly insulted all trolls everywhere with a comment of blatant disrespect toward Vol'jin. The reaction is rather strong, and I do not wish to see any more of that man today, even if it might be of him getting halved by a pair of trollish axes. As much entertainment as that may be, I need to not be near my victim when the spell fully seeds. I need sleep in a bad way, too. I need more food, but I can do without. I shift to the troll, staying crouched in this alcove. "I can be leavin now?" I whisper, like asking permission. Let them remember that I left only when they said it was okay to do so. What villain submits themselves so obviously to the directions of their victims? A stupid one, perhaps. Me. I do. Maybe it's working. I haven't been caught yet. "Nobody keepin' jah here if jah wanna go, Dere," Tahzani answers. I know this. Lilliana reassures. "You're safe, Derecho." Her hand reaches up to rub her forehead as she leans. She's not safe. Tahzani flops the hat I gave him back onto his head. I hadn't noticed him take it off earlier. Perhaps the gesture is meant to be good and kind? Lilliana casually tries to swat the headgear back off. I stare up at him for a moment. This man is a true enigma to me. I know he has power, he must, yet, he works in such a mundane fashion at a thankless profession with more devotion to excellence than any free person I have ever seen. He doesn't seem to have greed that can I pick up on, so what could his motivations be? He routinely puts himself in harm's way to defend people he has never met before. He's not just an idealist, because that would imply a sort of willful ignorance and a blindness to reality that just doesn't seem to fit. I thank him, then shift and leave. I crawl back underneath, and my restless thoughts twinkle like stars in an endless sky, brighter when you don't look, then hiding once sought. People just aren't this nice. More than anyone I have come to know in the horde, I fear this one. This one I have no link to. This one I do not understand. It's possible he is exactly what he seems to be, but a very hard lifetime of experience tells me otherwise. The morbid dark side of me wants to see the hidden monster. It's the side that dares to ponder the what-ifs. What if I don't strive back to the surface of the lake and decide to stay down here? What if I go ahead and eat those pretty red berries that even the birds leave alone? What if I do poke this sleeping bear? What if I strike this match and hold it? What if I light the fuse on the bombs here in the hull of this derelict houseboat? Surely there is something darker lurking in that bartender. Surely it's something terrible. What does it want? What does it live for? The invisible sun is burning in his mate. Just as illness forces truth, suffering forces action. Decisions must be made when the ones you care for are in the path of encroaching darkness. Questions must be answered, about yourself and your limits. How much do you care? How far are you willing to go? What would you do if you believed you had to? The answers are much different if the goal is to save yourself, or save another. What happens if I light this star in the darkness?
  21. "When jah handed her de food did'ja say anytin' about a debt?" Tahzani asks reasonably. "Yeah, it's settled. You get none." Lilliana grabs me and tries to drag me out of the inn with her. She doesn't have to be pushy. I want to go. Tyinielran promptly starts hollaring. "THEIVES! GUARDS THEIVES!" Lilliana's better half tries to mediate still. "Mon, if jah just handed her food witout sayin' what it costs. Das a gift. Not a sale." His mate just yells at Ty to go away. "It were!" I agree. Ty keeps yelling for someone to arrest me. T'suro is dealing with the aftermath of demons in our midst like any public officer. His contempt for the demon hunters' apparent lack of aptitude has him on a generally short temper to begin with, and now one is screaming for his attention. Another outbreak of chaos from some minor demon causes everyone to agree to a new locale. We all abandon Gravy to his fate. Lilliana tugs me along, which is fine because I'm beginning to have trouble thinking of anything but gulping gallons of pond water, skitterbugs, crawfish, and slimy reeds all. Would it quench these flames inside? At the same time, the thought of adding anything is sickening. I feel ill, and I feel as if being ill might help. If there is nothing in there, there is nothing left to burn. Right? The fact that my spell is working hasn't yet crossed my mind. This is a new combination of hex bag and doll, with a slow-seating autonomous spell. It feels exactly as intended. I'm too miserable to appreciate these things now, but I will later. I just have to pass on this little hex bag to the proper target before it's too late. I don't have much more time. When was the vial crushed, how long ago? I can't seem to think in terms of chronology. I burn forever. The place they take me too is round and quiet. Once a giant coliseum, the center arena has since been filled with gated partitions denoting smaller fighting spaces and is stacked high outside the rings with crates as an impromptu storage facility. Still, there is plenty of room for everyone. The slight dugout nature of the place, as well as it's high walls means the interior is several degrees lower than the valley outside. "Dis be a cool place." I like it. I like the goosebumps on my arms, I like the chill. It's soothing. Ty lost me in the migration. I can hear him somewhere across space saying that he is still owed gold. "Ey, Tahzani," I hiss. He hums. I fiddle the pouch he gave me out of my pocket where it's wedged. "Dere be twenty-five in here?" He hesitates. "...Yeh.. Lot moah den dat." Lilliana is eying me like I'm stupid. Do I know how to count? Not right now. I don't have the concentration right now. Wait, you'll see, bitch. Wait until you're on fire from the inside. "...Derecho, when he gave jah de cake, did he say it would cost anytin'?" "No. He just been gave it. But," I try to take the time to explain. I don't need cake, I need food. Cake is just wonderful food. I don't need this money. I need to get rid of it, and I need to get rid of another thing. I want to run away and curl up and whine. "See, like I been gettin food all of de time. Guys, dey get mad sometimes when dey..." Tahzani interrupts my lesson on the way the world works between men supplying and women needing. "Den jah don't owe notin'." He makes it sound so simple. "Of course she doesn't owe him anything, he's just being a weirdo..." Lilly doesn't realize that the weirdo she is speaking of is right behind her. He taps her shoulder with a demonic claw before once again resuming his elven shape. "What?!" She then looks at Ty. I can see that despite her patience being nonexistent, she's trying valiantly to summon more in order to deal with this guy on my behalf. "You want to pay the troll's debt, it's only twenty-five gold. Come now, let's have this settled like civilized people." "Dere ain't no debt." Tahzani replies. I cannot contain my very uncivilized growl. Lilliana bristles, snarling that she'll show Ty civilized. We are apparently of a very like mind in this situation. "Everybody simmah down." "It's twenty-five gold troll, you really want to fight over twenty-five gold?" "Do YOU?" retorts my benefactor. I am surprised to hear those words in the masculine voice of Tahzani rather than his uppity female. "Jah just gave somebody food. Jah nevah said it would be costin' anytin'." Lilliana might be just as shocked as I, but she recovers quickly from having her words stolen, and adds to them. "Well, do you?" "Knock it off." T'suro has found us all. He stands there in his pretty black armor like he's bleeding from all the edges, and I can't help but find a budding sense of irony in this. He's either going to take me to jail, which I deserve for way much more than he thinks I do, or he's going to protect me, which is delicious in it's backwardness. A troll man I don't know takes interest in the conversation happening. "W'at we fightin ova? Be dish ova da price, o' da respect?" "Oh just be killin' each ot'er and send ya souls t' Hakkar. Just be gettin' it o'er wit'." Atalshi calls. The Soulflayer devotee is watching the show from on high, sipping at a bottle containing red fluid. No one pays her any mind. I invite her to follow her own advice first. She's ignoring me as well. One of the many elves present digs through her own pockets, coming up with a handful of gold. The robes she wears are purple and white, trimmed in gold. Unless she just a really unlikely fan of those colors in particular, I'd guess her as a member of Sactuary for sure. She eyes the coins a moment, maybe counting them, then tosses the lot on the ground at Tyinielran's feet. "There. Your money. Now pick it up like the demon's dog you are, and leave." I can tell from the atmosphere that this issue isn't going to be solved so easily. All this, over stupid metal. I hate it. I want to go away, but there is one thing I must do first. The pouch still in my hands is small, but it weighs on me. I don't care how many cakes it could be traded for. I don't care if anyone is offended. I want this money like I want the invisible sun in my core, which is not at all. Water. Shelter. Food. Gold is none of those things. I don't need it. I don't want it! I stand here, in the middle of a bunch of strangers and a few friends who are all arguing about me. It is the strangest thing, to have caused such a storm unintentionally. If I were not so distracted, I might be enjoying this. If I were not weak and scatter-minded and stupid. But I am, and this is not fun. Regardless, I am a minor character. The original source of this dispute, me, has been forgotten. I make Tahzani's coin pouch disappear with a twitch of my wrist, finagling the thing into my glove. There is a standoff over there with trolls looking down on Ty, and a gathering of everyone else as well looking on. He breaks the tense moment stretching after the rattle of ringing coins flattens into silence. "I've never been afraid of trolls." It isn't submission, obviously, but it is arrogance without direct challenge. Tahzani remains even-keeled. Rather than rise to the bait presented, he whistles sharply to call Ty's attention to where he's pointing at the metal-spotted ground. "Dere, de money been paid back." The elf that threw it, a mage by the looks of her, gives a sloppy grin to the bartender. "Pick it up." Ty says. I immediately move to obey. I'm antsy. The chill air has failed to remain comfortable and now I'm extremely not so and anxious. I'm not entirely certain of the timing involved, but I sense there isn't much left for the spell. I rack my failing brain trying to think of a way to hide the little hex bag on Lilliana without her noticing. Such a thing seems impossible with the high amount of animosity in this space. The mage tells Ty, "You're the beggar here, dearest, you pick up the gold." Wrong. I'm the beggar, and I'm picking it up as instructed. "Oh for Light's sake," T'suro sighs. To the mage he scolds "Sen'Ahri! You disrespect Sanctuary's tenants!" The other troll, far more muscled and therefore outwardly intimidating than Tahzani slams both of his axes into the wooden platform beneath him, creating a thunderous and shocking noise in compliment to his shouted "ENOUGH." It's enough to make me flinch. I drop the coins and scoot back automatically. That's not a tone to suffer hesitation kindly. I'm convinced the shout is directed at me, and I'm halfway wishing to be caught. I'm in pain and if I'm sick and if they see I'm sick then maybe they'll fix it, or at this point I'm seriously entertaining the fact that getting apprehended might lead to my death. It's starting to become an appealing alternative to right now. T'suro is the one who picks up the money into a baggie, while I'm crouched here ogling that angry troll and clutching my middle. He backhands his fist to thud solidly against Ty's chest with the coins. "Here's your money. Let this be done." The Illidari accepts and thanks the paladin. He then starts coming after me. I immediately backpedal away. I don't want him or his tricky chocolate that makes me think funny, and I can't give him the hex bag. He's useless. Leave me alone! He follows me. I break into a run. Like an ensorcelled heart-seeker arrow, he changes course unerringly to intercept. There isn't all that much room to continue evading him. I recognize this and instantly I panic, feeling trapped. I shift to the cat, dashing out of reach of him. There are too many people! Not enough space, they are too close, too close, too close! Let me out! I imagine that behind me I can feel the swish of air in my back fur as the monster tries to snare me. There is no where to go. He's going to catch me. The monster will eat me! I guess that's alright. At least I'll be cooked for him. My insides still burn.
  22. I generally accept this stupid trait about people. They don't understand necessities, and that's okay. It's okay for Tahzani to be sad because he thinks he needs those things that were lost on the boat. He doesn't, but if you saw a sad puppy in the road, would you kick him again, or would you cuddle it and then go after the son of a bitch that dared hurt it? I can't fault Tahzani. It wouldn't really help to just go on a murder spree of little green men in the hopes I got lucky.... though that would be fun. I want to cheer him up, though. "We can be helpin ya find it den!" T'suro tries to help too. "You'll get new clothes." "But uh... Yeah." says Tahzani, with Lilliana clinging to his arm, offering comfort in a little sort of hug to the limb. "Heh, darndest ting. Somehow misplaced a BOAT. Anyway... Movin' de Cantina ta Azshara fah now..." They start discussing the pros and cons of some place called a pleasure palace, which sounds frankly like a very dangerous place for anyone to go, much less a girl like me. I'm not really listening. I'm thinking about Tahzani and how I might be able to make him feel better. Those eyes. Those eyes are just... I can't deal with this mood of his. There is no reason for him to be so dejected. There are people in the world starving, and he's upset about a houseboat. Still, he doesn't know any better. None of them do. I start searching my pockets, knowing that I've collected things today. Things I don't need. I pat myself down, searching for the bulges of where my treasures are hidden. I come up with some shiny fish scales, a few brilliant feathers, and a pockmarked hat. The fish scales make a superior temptation when paired with worms or other lackluster hook bait. The hat I dredged up from reeds. It is bleached on one side, with holes worn through in some places. The thing will block sunlight glare and make it easier to see when fingering for catfish. The feathers are just pretty, and I liked them. I pool these things, my non-edible non-essential collected things, and I offer them to the bartender. "Ya can be havin my hat." Lilliana laughs, but Tahzani takes the hat and trinkets in it with a warm smile for me. He doesn't tell me I'm stupid or worthless, and my things are junk. He thanks me. He pins the feathers to his harness, slips the fish scales into his pocket, and plops the hat right on his head. Lilliana stares at him for a minute, then reaches up to adjust one of his ears beneath it better. She is trying desperately not to go into hysterics. I'm doubly surprised then, when the bartender hands me something in return. This isn't supposed to be a trade. Curious what might be inside, I tug the drawstring. Round metal disks in varying shades of precious metal. Not edible. I try to hand the pouch back. I don't need money. He will need that to buy new things. "Get jahself some cake witout de pettin' Derecho." This purpose for money had not even occurred to me. I look back in the pouch doubtfully. "Darkmoon still be open... Lady named Aimee dere sells some great food." Perhaps Tahzani gets the same uplifting feeling from helping others that I often find. He certainly does look happier now. It would be rude of me to refuse, and this might also make him sad again. I slip the coin pouch into my pocket. It sits there, a terrible and somewhat cold hard lump settled against the front of my hip bone. The idea of more cake, rather than elating me, suddenly seems like an awful burden. I don't want anything in my stomach, and I wish I could void what is already there. Something is not agreeing with me. A dull red ache has begun to settle inside in a way that makes me believe it will be something lingering and difficult to deal with. I can't think of what I might have eaten to make me sick. Trolls don't get ill, that's the whole point of being one. I've eaten some things that could not even be considering within the extreme range of food items. None of them have made me sick. I let the normal bar conversations continue without my interjections as I consider this new ache. My hand rests over my navel. I shift in place periodically, bending first one way, then another, wondering if perhaps sitting in a strange posture has contributed to an ache like this. Maybe it was the way I landed on the floor. As this slowly becomes less a vague feeling and more of a definite fiery sensation, an awful realization dawns on me. I know what this is. My hand moves from my own upset middle to feel at the thick cuff on the arm that had been folded behind me. My fingers pulse, and there is an answering grit grind. Something in the glove there crunches, and I groan. I know what this is. A shadow falls over me. I look up glaring into the blindfolded face of Tyinielran. "Lets see. You owe me for a sack of meat and two slices of cake." What? "Wat?" "You owe me for the food you ate." I don't find his joke humorous, but I humor him. "Ya be funny, mon." I force a laugh. He is less than appeased, and he trails me as I try to retreat from him to the relative safety of proximity to Tahzani and Lilliana. He's serious! The Illidari crosses his arms. "Do I need to get the Blood Knight back over here?" I cannot believe this guy. "Ya, ya be needin. May it be time for ya be learnin not be...." The rest of my retort doesn't even make it out from my mouth. A demon dreadlord tries to come in through the door, spurring almost everyone into action. Demon hunters are perhaps slightly faster in their reaction, and certainly more decisive. It's a demon, they move to kill it. Everyone else by comparison seems to take an extra moment to sift through possibilities. Is it Alliance? Is it a threat? How much of a threat? Then they act. I act too. When everyone else runs to the demon, I turn away. I'm not afraid, though I prefer not to get hurt. I'm not ready to die yet. Even Gravy has jumped to defend his place of business and shove the invader back outside. The bar is unattended. I reach into my glove. Lilliana's doll in a sad state. The dress has swiveled sideways, pulling arms into a semi-spiral around and down the torso. The neckline pinches in what are supposed to be shoulders. I straighten things with a quick twist, not that the appearance is what matters. My hand comes away slightly stained with orangish oil. The body of the doll is soaked in it. The interior vial comprising most of the doll's structural support has been completely destroyed. The poor little thing with a too-large head is now rather pathetic and floppy. It smells of firebloom and the secretions of a firefin snapper fish. I check again to be sure everyone is indeed occupied, then I climb up onto the bar. On the fourth shelf out of easy sight from the ground is the skull of some creature. A moment, and I decide it must be from a stormsnout of the middling Durotar ravines. No matter, really. I cram the doll's head into the eye socket, then poke it through with a few swift jabs of my pointer finger. The rest of the doll squirts into the cavity behind it's bulbous lead. My hand leaves behind smears of clean white where the greyish brown dust got disturbed, but there is no time to worry about that. The sheer thickness of the coating shows just how often anyone thinks to give the higher shelves attention. I'm only hiding the doll as a precaution, anyway. If anyone thinks to check me, I'm innocent. I have enough time in the chaos to hop down from the bar, and even join in the efforts to murder the dreadlord. It retreats a good distance before succumbing to the overwhelming attacks of almost every living thing in the valley. Dreadlords, once exposed, are not subtle creatures. It creates a good bit of mass mayhem before it goes down. Several folks have their images stolen and given to other people. Tahzani is one, and for a moment I worry for his sanity. Lilliana helps him get through his freakout, which is good, because my shifting demonstration was not enlightening instruction of how to return to his natural form. Oh well. I notice while trying to help Tahzani that my little firefly paladin has been approached by a certain Hakkari hunter. Oh joy. Slowly, those who left the wyvern's tail return to it. The attack leaves many jumpy and unable to relax, as well the lingering effects cause random outbursts of violence towards anyone nearby be they friend or foe. It's enough to sour formerly pleasant moods. Mine has been soured beforehand by this inferno beginning to grow inside. I have to fix it before the spell fully seeds! I'm thwarted, though, in acting to remedy my predicament by the handsy demon hunter perv himself, planting himself squarely in my way. "You owe me." I sneer at Ty, way past an agreeable disposition. I'm beginning to really hurt. "Be bitin me!" I snap at him. It is the wrong thing to say. The Illidari smirks, and abruptly becomes a monster. "Thought you'd never ask, thief," he drawls. "So that'll be payment then?" His hesitation for stupid questions is enough. Lilliana breaks off from sniping back and forth with the Hakkari troll to intervene, slapping her hand right across that ugly monster mug. "HEY! Get out of her face!" The Illidari glares, but hesitates. After a moment, his form reverts. Most of the bar has eyes on him and the other demon hunters have a particular bloodthirst apparent in their expressions. It would be amusing, if I were not desperately wishing that this drama was not about to happen. I stand up straight, though every instinct in my body is starting to scream at me that I need to curl. "She owes me." Ty tells Lilliana. "If you want to settle her debt, then so be it. I would say twenty-five gold would cover the cost of meat and cake." "Wat!" I cry. "I ain't be havin... oh wait." I do actually have money. Hated, cold, inedible coins, laying right here in my pocket. Pain and anger both flare, though. I've done nothing wrong. "Fuck ya, dere be no debt. Don't be givin ya food to strangers."
  23. I find the last one is especially important. It reminds me of that scene in A Knight's Tale Guy: "Losing proves that I'm a loser." Girl: "Wrong. Losing is a much keener test of your love. Losing would contradict your self-love. It would show obedience to your lover and not yourself!" Trade love for RP. ...or something.
  24. It doesn't take very long for the mental fog to clear. My head still aches, but pieces are falling like stars from orbit to crash back into their places. I slowly gather up the squishy mush of frosting. Spongy cake pieces disintegrate into it further with my movements, but I don't care. I feel a little bit numb still, and the question of this strange feeling in my stomach is distracting. Above my head, the other tavern-goers are still arguing. Lilliana is defending me like some vicious blue-skinned fire-haired angel of mercy. I'm pretty sure her intervention is the only reason I haven't been wrenched upwards again by my arm. T'suro wants to haul me off to jail. Someone else thinks he's abusing his newfound power. A few are discussing the fact that Illidari can apparently become the demons they closely resemble, a fact which isn't sitting well with them at all. I scoop cake, mourning the destruction of it, and not entirely certain why. I mean... it's still edible. It still tastes fine. I gather up the whole of it into my hands. Fay is scolding Ty for his display. He doesn't care, and tells her he's here to fight a war, not babysit sobbing trolls. I'm done crying, but I would have liked it more if the "Fuck ya" I threw over my shoulder to him didn't sound so much like whimper. Lilliana continues to back me, calling him a bumhead. For some reason, her choice in vocabulary does much to further console me. She helps me stand up. Ty is not satisfied that I'm lacking chrome bracelets and a free night's stay in a barred room somewhere. He looks at T'suro. "You're just going to let an assault on an Illidari occur?" The paladin turns fully to look at the demon hunter. He tells him that it was his actions which escalated the situation, and that we are both at fault. If anyone goes to jail, we both go, says his tone. Ty seems to rethink his own situation. "Just get her out of my sight before I decide to press charges." What!? "Ya been touching me first!" I hollar. "I were gonna eat de cake, till ya try an pet me like a damned animal, and so I try an bite ya. Fair warning! And ya try it again! So I mash ya to de floor!" I look at all the faces in the bar. I know people have prejudices against beggars, I'm not stupid, but seriously? Why am I the one in trouble here? The unfairness galls at me. Lilliana rubs my arm as she also pushes against me to keep me moving in the same direction, away from Ty. I let her. She sits me down. I sniffle, regarding the heap of chocolate mud in my hands. It's starting to warm, and the liquid frosting drips through my fingers. I let myself become absorbed in the licking of it, like some kind of room temperature ice cream treat. Everything will be okay. I lap at the chocolate, fully believing in this very strange religion. Chocolate will make everything better. It will fix the way I trip on things. It will cure the tremulous shaking in my hands. It will clear my thoughts. Chocolate will fill me up with joy so much that there isn't room for anything bad anymore. That is what it feels like. Chocolate can douse this aching burn starting in my middle. I stick the last of my delicious fingers in my mouth. All the flavor is gone from the rest, and this is the only one left. My thumb. My tongue presses, working, invading the tiny little wrinkles at my knuckle as I suck. I trace the edges of the nail and bite gently, working the flesh into different positions to be sure there is nothing else in the crevices. There isn't. Sadness. "Were you sniveling over cake?" comes the haughty voice of an elf drifting down to where I sit on the floor. I look up. Surprised, I look again, thumb still stuck stupidly in my mouth like a child. My eyes roam taking in details. She stands looking down at me, but the expression seems more sympathetic than the derisive grimace I'd expected. She's got nearly as much skin exposed as I do, above the waist anyway, perhaps more. Blue tattoos lightning across her ribs and arms beneath a minimal halter-type top. Her shoulders are bare. Short shorts wrap her in leather, and dark boots climb all the way to her thighs. She stares down at me, and the glare in my eyes fizzles out, replaced with a wary sort of confusion. She saw the look in my eyes though, the defensive challenge. Yeah, so what if I was crying over smashed cake? It's a delicious treat and the fact that it ended up ground into a pulp on the floor was damned depressing okay? She smiles at me kindly. She gets it. The slim tattooed Illidari doesn't say another word. She holds out her hand, and the thing in her fingers is amazing. I reach for the tiny cupcake, too overwhelmed at her gift to find my voice. Almost touching it, I hesitate, peering. It has to be a trick. It will turn me into a man or have a roach baked inside the middle of it, or it's poisoned and will make me ill. She's an Illidari, surely she's the other one's friend and wants some kind of revenge, since T'suro isn't taking action. No one is this nice to me. The elf might understand more than just the meaning behind my glare. When I pause, she doesn't. She presses the cupcake into my reluctant fingers, then immediately turns away again. She doesn't stay to watch the results of the trick. She doesn't call me names. In fact, she starts verbally sparring with Ty, objecting to his overly familiar address to her as 'sister. The enemy of my enemy is my friend? Maybe it's just a cupcake? I retreat further into the corner with my edible treasure. I eat it as slowly as possible. It's not chocolate. The inside is a clean white color, and there is a delicate red flower like a blooming rose on top. It's almost too beautiful to eat. Almost. I carefully unwrap it and start nibbling from the bottom. In the bar, talk of my misdeed and the necessity of such drastic countermeasures has died down. The demon hunters are having a hard time believing that trolls can be friends. I hear the tattooed gift-giver say her name as I'm cleaning crumble cake residue from off the baking paper. Cayli Duskvale. The elf priestess Aaren enters and receives a summary from Tahzani about how adjustment to the new guys is what's going on. Then he continues awkwardly "...So uh. Dis gonna make jah laugh." I'm listening, but become frustrated when another newcomer and their greeting interrupts. I get up and walk toward the group of trolls to join them, chewing on the cupcake paper, to better hear the story. "Jah evah lose some silvah or some keys or sometin'? Little item dat jah need but suddenly can't find until jah look in de last spot imaginable?" I raise my hand. "I be losin stuff! All of de time." Aaren squints her eyes when she hears the demonic words of the Illidari conversing across the tavern. "Who lost a thing?" she asks, distracted. "Ah did... Ah lost a ting. Just askin' if anyone else heah evah misplaced a little object or sometin'. Aaren snickers. "Yeah, I've lost a few things." "....Welp" Tahzani says slowly. His words are reluctant. Ashamed? "Ah've done it... Wit a boat..." T'suro laughs. I blink. "Wat?" Others say nothing, not quite sure what TO say. "Lost a boat, huh?" Aaren finally echoes. "I actually think it qualifies as a ship," Lilliana points out. "Ah haven't been able ta find it since de..." Tahzani quiets. "Since de Broken shore attack..." He looks down. I saw the flash of sadness though, he wasn't quick enough to fully hide it. I guess the death of Vol'jin, the failures that occurred on those islands, hit him hard. "Tahzani, mon," I start, trying to be funny. "A big boat ain't be like losin a bitty ting. Dat be a great big ting!" Lilliana frowns, not appreciating my levity. She's dumb. Everybody dies, it's not like the troll leader was immune. And if she's mad about the boat, maybe she should rethink that position. She's got Tahzani. He could be the thing missing instead of some bits of wood and sheeting. It's not like he died. I debate the merits of pointing that out, but something tells me not to at this moment. Aaren frowns. "The... one you hated, huh?" "Yeh" Tahzani agrees. "Big fuckin' ting ah was gonna fill wit Dynamite an' launch ta de moon one day. Boom!" He gestures expansively. I comment that such a thing would so pretty to see. The guy's expression sours. "Fuck off, stupid boat." I know that feeling. It's the same one I get when I try to swipe some delicious fruit from a vendor stall and at the last minute, a guard walks by, or the merchant who has been inattentive for the last hour suddenly decides to be aggressive with the sales. I tell myself that bruised apple that I really wanted was probably rotten with a worm in it, just to make myself feel better. It's a lie. That Tahzani would say such a thing... well it makes me sad, so see him lose something so stupid, and yet have been so attached to it. It's just stuff, man. But he's not unusual. People get possessive of stupid things, and he liked his broken-down derelict ship. It was his, and he lost it not by his own choice. An idea occurs to me. If I can steal an apple, surely it couldn't be all that hard to find some boat to steal. I've seen all sorts of broken ones at the bottoms of harbors, surely somebody wouldn't mind if I drug up one of those? Maybe we could fix it up for him to have a new boat tied at the docks. It doesn't have to float for real, does it? Not being able to would make it worthless for anyone else to steal from him, which should make him happy! Plus, if he was going to explode it, maybe he's not sad it's missing, maybe he just wanted to see a big boom. I can understand that. "... I can be gettin ya anotha boat to be blowin up? Dat make ya happy?" He looks at me sadly, reminding me of nothing so much as a puppy that just got kicked. "Ah appreciate de thought Dere... But..." He sighs. "Everytin' ah had was on it. Mah bed... mah tings, mah clothes." Beds are superfluous, and he's wearing clothes. He can get more things. I try to be sympathetic, but I really just don't get it.