Apocalypse Rogue

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Shattrath. Shit. I’m still in Shattrath. Every time I think I’m gonna wake up back in Hellfire. Every day I spend at this inn I get weaker. It’s as if my body is losing it’s agility. I can’t bend as I used to. My work-out isn’t working, probably because I’m in a constant mood of desperation. I drink to sleep. I sleep so I don’t have to wait. See, this is what it’s like being a “temporal operative”. A few weeks ago they pulled me back. I was home, but when I was home I wanted to be over here. When I’m here …

I want to be over there.

My name is Caliss Starshadow. I’m a temporal agent. this is my diary – and I hope no one will ever read it. This is the only way I stay sane. I write. I drink. I stay alive.

Temporal agent … taste those words. It’s like … a wet dream of office speak, deep in the bowels of Stormwinds Old Town. What it means is this: SI:7 is in cahoots with the Bronze Dragonflight and what could possibly go wrong with something like that? Oh, I know there’s a Horde side to it. I’ve met blood elves and orcs in the same game as me. Just like me, most of them are going crazy. Most of them are itching to get out.

They sent me straight into the heart of darkness, hoping that maybe I could find something that could stop what’s happening. To be honest: I’m not smart enough to understand their plan. I don’t think anyone is. Maybe Chromie knows, but I’m pretty sure that Trias has a big question mark above his head.

So I’m here. In Then. In Shit, right. Shattrath. I’m here … pretending that the mercenaries I see and the mercenaries I fuck are all history. Heroes – tales. I slept with a night elf huntress the other night. She was heading for Shadowmoon and was in need of some R&R. Oh, I’m sure she knew I wasn’t from “now”. It’s like I’m walking around in an invisible time bubble. My weapons, my armor – all of it is just too … powerful. It’s to powerful for this world, because this world is already dead.

I hate this place. Send me back, as Grammz, a void walker I once met, said. So I did. A cut through his neck and all that was left was his metal shoulderguards and a echoing whisper – “Back … to the Void!”.

Grammz was lucky. It – I don’t know if rogue voidwalkers have genders – knew already, knew what I have come to realise. Outland is dead. The only thing that keeps it going is violence and sex. I learned that fast. When a world is dying, all that remains are the primal instincts. Kill to live. Fuck to be alive.

I met a goblin the other day. She was on a short stop to my version of Shit. She was on a dragonflight retainer, digging up secrets, all that stuff. She told me about Draenor. She told me about mountains of gold, of beaches made of pearls, layered so thick a handful would make you rich beyond belief. Like Outland, she was full of it. I know that. Still, her tales of paradise kept me going through another set of drinks. She didn’t mind spending the night on a blanket in a tent, with me, in Lower City.

I don’t play by the rules. That’s why SI:7 wanted me. So I didn’t kill her. I should have fucked her, I guess, I could have (she was a “nelfie fan girl” as she said; fuck, I hate that slur – nelfie!). We slept instead, cuddled up for warmth, protection and basic life. You sleep better if you can feel someone’s pulse. She snored, but I don’t blame her. I snored too the first couple of nights. She was jet lagged. Timeline disease, it plays havoc on your system. I slept for fortyeight hours straight when I got here, I didn’t even wake up for a privvy visit (if you tell anyone I’ll cut your damned throat and feed you with your larynx!). Now I’m lucky if I can sleep three hours a night without nightmares. Outland does that to you. There’s three things left in Outland: Sex, death and sleep. I sleep as good as I can. I’m killing anything that wants me dead. I’m visiting “the places”, if you know what I mean. The tents in Lower City, where you can get it on for a silver because people are hungry and frightened. Skin on skin is comfort. If you don’t put up, you’re dead – that’s how it is in Lower City. Might as well get paid for the rape, right?

I’m losing my mind here. I need to get out! I can’t even hear Elune anymore!

We’re dying here, you know. Every day there’s a new story of a chunk of land dropping off. Everyday there’s a story about someone going into a bar or a clinic or a temple, opening up with a heavy caliber in each hand because Death is the only thing that’s left. It’s sort of a sport among the despairing people. Take out as many as possible – maybe death won’t be as lonesome then. Some of the nutjobs I’ve done in – because I’m on contract to do them before they do someone else – have been here for twenty years.

Twenty years of death. No wonder they go nuts.

I’m the sanitation worker of the Naaru. Tell that to your motherfucking draenei friends. Me, a night elf, once called “the scourge of Darnassus”. Yeah … I have a reputation. Deal with it.

I’ve been here six weeks (I think it’s six weeks). I’ve been here, in a world that should not exist. Thanks a fucking lot, Chromie. I need to get out of this place. Killers, fanatics and crazies – this is what the world will look like when it is about to die. I need to see Azeroth again. Some of the people I put down make the Defias look like pre-school bullies. Some of the cults I’ve dismantled over here, in Outland, would make the Twilights blush in embarassment. There’s a broken in Lower City who gorge on filth … let that tell you what you need to know. There’s covens of cannibals. There’s covens of deathspeakers. There’s covens of draenei warlocks … and there’s rumors of an exarch gone mad, hidden away in the bowels of the ruined Auchindoun.

They need to pay me way more than they do if they excpect me to go there. One of the orc beggars close to the temple told me something. I’m not the superstitious kind but his words got to me. He said, he did:

“The dead grows … fearful. Something truly dark … is coming.”

Then he flipped his dreadlocks at me, throwing a handful of scrying bones on the ground, and hissed:

“Prepare yourself!”

See, this is why I drink to sleep. This is why I hope that they will pull me out. FEAR has gotten hold of me. I fear the worst thing possible, for an agent in Outland. I fear … I fear that …

I am not prepared.

Diary of a goblin Niece: Introducing – Spéedy Paddlefeet

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“Look, kid,” uncle Speedy did one of those dramatic sighs. His old chest heaved. He huffed up his green cheeks, then released a stream of kajamite-laced and garlicy breath across the table. I tried not to cough. My eyes were already watering from the cigar smoke, heavy as a Tanaan mist. He took his time flipping off the ashes from the fireweed cigar (most of it was just ordinary tobacco but uncle always tells me it’s important to keep people in the dumb). Then he stroked back his tuft of greasy black hair with one hand and for a moment studied his nails. With a quick glance at me, he gently grabbed the cup of kaffa and sipped. His golden eyes suddenly pinned me to the chair with a hard, businesslike stare. “I’m a businessman, you’re my niece. Can’t have you prancing around. It’s bad rep, you know.”

When uncle Speedy sighs you know the beach party is over. We didn’t even have a beach party. Fucking Booty Bay is all seaweed and weed. Half the enforcers are more stoned than earth elementals. See, it’s the only way to dull the pain from all the beatings. Every time an insane guy or gal comes to Booty it’s clobber time. The enforcers are usually the one’s ending up clobbered. Trust my uncle. He was one of them, before he opened his emporium. That’s why I tried to avoid his breath. There’s no way you can avoid his stare. You don’t mess with a former champ, who once took down a human warrior with nuthin’ but his breath. They still talk about the shade of green the human turned, once uncle was on his chest, trying to resurrect him with some CPR.

“Look, allright, this is the way of the land ’round here, dollface,” Uncle spat a leaf that had caught between his front teeth, once he managed to wiggle it free with his tongue. “Ain’t no relative of mine gonna go down on the pier showing her wares, allright? So … Amma get you a job, sweetie.” He smiled, yellow teeth the size of pebbles, lined with gold. “Awww, don’t look so whorefied!”

“It’s ‘horrified’,” I said. Sometimes a girl have to stand up to her uncle. He’s old, he’s not in line with modern modes of communication. The last one who called me a you-know-what spends his days trying to untie the sixhundred knots at the bottom of the Exodar harbor. Yeah, you read that right. Exodar.

I’m a draenei in spirit. Lucky me that gold is always welcome – even among the fervent believers in the Light. Of course, I should have known my uncle already knew this. His next comment made me rock back in the zebra-pattern chair, gasping.

“They got a contract on you, you know.”

I should have said something, but I couldn’t. I had heard rumours, sure, but I never paid them any attention. Tons of traders in Azuremyst have connections and ties to Booty Bay. You ever wondered where the draenei got those XT-90 heatsinks, that could only be manfucatured by robots in Ulduar (robots that officially was no longer in working order)? Uh-huh. Booty Bay. Exodar is a fucking goblin rocket. No one pretends it is, but it is, you know. Besides, the beaches are nice. I just wish I could fill a cup like them draenei can but I have to wool it up, you know. I’m of small stature. In many ways.

“Beeran,” uncle said. “He’s not very happy with you.”

I should have guessed. Chief Engineer Second Grade Beeran, or as the girls called him, “Horny Smalls”, was connected. Yeah, sorry honey, I know you’re a purebread bluey and I know you don’t want to know what goes on below deck, aight, but that’s the way it is, horney girl. We “guest workers” – night elves, humans, Trizz (she’s a gnome), we see what you don’t pretend exist. Shit, even the redeemed broken are itching for some exotic flesh. Brave new world they come to and all. There’s a rumour below deck that if you lick the space between your index and long finger while looking at a female dwarf she knows exactly what you want. It usually ends up with another broken being maced but hey, you know, Right?

Uh-huh.

So unc’s got me a job. It wasn’t much but it was something. It kept his rep clean and it kept me out of harms way. He even settled things with Beeran; something about chromoflux converters, which could only be obtained in Then, so someone had to Go Back to Tempest Keep and pry them loose from a crystal wall. Weird stuff. Uncle does things like that all the time. He’s got a retainer with the bronze dragons. Like uncle sometimes say, “I got what you want!”. It’s amazing what kind of things people want. Gyrochronometers, ciphers of unimaginable power (some orc was looking for one, we gave him a puzzle box uncle’s scavengers ‘found’ somewhere in Icecrown). Crazy things. Oh, and sex of course. Uncle can get you a hyena bitch in heat if that’s what you want. Uncle can get you Anything You Want.

Chromie is one of my uncs regulars, thought she always cheats him because no one but Chromie can be absolutely sure what ‘an hours rate’ actually is … temporally speaking. Is temporal the word? I don’t know, I went to Kezan HS, and we never actually cared about anything but lipstick and pushing Mixt because she was fatand bounced in a funny way down the stairs. That’s why I … well. Screamed. Like a girl. Not very befitting a goblin bruiser but dammit, she scared the crap out of me.

Mixt, that is. I was doing the night beat. I do the night beat because that’s when things are slow and tired. Pirates on their way back to the ships are too drunk or fucked up to care about brawling. Those insane people, orcs and tauren and what have you, they don’t like fighting brusiers in the dark. So the harbor is quiet. Just me, the sleepy rats and John Slobber (he took a canonball to the head a few years ago and ever since then he’s been talking to Invincible, his invisible horse).

Mixt stepped out of the shadows just in front of me. All black, clothes I mean. Tiny red eyes staring at me from the depths of cloaks and shadows. I noticed the glimmer of steel in her hands.

“Hello, Speeds … ” she said. Well, whispered.
“Uh … Mixt?” I said.
“Beeran sends his regards,” she said.

I nodded, still a bit suprised and to be perfectly honest – too daft to react in a proper, violent way. I’m not a violent girl. Then I said something I probbably shouldn’t have said. Goblin brains don’t always think faster than our lips move, you know. So I smiled and said:

“You’ve lost weight!”

All in all, only my uncle can get away with comments like that. Me? Well, let’s say I was due for some needlework, once the dayshift found me in the morning.

(Credit goes to the commenter Ezria from the daily Blizzard Watch feature “the Queue”, who bravely danced and pranced in Booty Bay despite the fact Ezria belongs to a PvP server.)

T-Day: Fragments from a healer (Tanaan invasion, june 23)

Private Courre couldn’t stop staring at the sign that was painted on the inside of the iron doors. He was in the first row of mariners and soldiers, less than three feet from that sign. As the Hungry Riverbeast rose and dived in the surf just off the coast of Tanaan, that sign was burning a hole in his mind.

STAND CLEAR WHEN DOORS OPEN. PLEASE.

He took a step back – and a hand clamped down on his shoulder. It wasn’t a hard grip, just a soft hand, fingers gently pressing through the cloth of his uniform. He felt the chill from that touch, a chill seeping through his cloth armor, penetrating his skin, turning his bones brittle. Or so he thought.

“Stay behind me … priesss …t.”

The voice was rough, as if unusued for many years. Courre turned his head slightly, as he did he caught a glimpse of other soldiers. All of them stared straight in front of them. Some chewed Fireweed, some grit their teeth, some was pale as ghosts. Most of them prayed. None of them looked at the line of death knights behind them. All those men and women, all of them so young. Courre was eighteen, he was the oldest of his platoon.

The first wave broke across the bow of “the Beast” with a crash of water. Then everything happened very fast. Shrieks in the air, shells landing in water. Detonations of fel grenades sending pillars of water skywards, crashing down in a salty rain. The “pew pew pew” or fel missiles close above their armored heads. A tremendous blast of energy rocked the ship sideways as a fel grenade exploded right in the middle of another transport – a horde one, it was a combined assault.

The rain of sea water turned red.

Thunder rolled in from behind. Dozens of battleships opened up in a single line of fire and smoke. Dumpsters – the guys called the howitzer grenades dumpsters because of their size – rocketed across the burning sky, turning the beach into a thick cloud of smoke and dust. The sound was deafening. It made his teeth clatter.

The cold grip tightened around his shoulder.

“Stay low. Move quickly. Don’t shoot. Find cover.”

“I’m scared … ” he whispered.

“Good!”

Then the metal hull of the Hungry Riverbeast ate the sands of Tanaan and the doors opened. Courre would be hard pressed to remember just what happened then. There was a rain of green things, ripping everyone apart around him. He scampered across soft, bleeding meat as someone screamed “OVER THE SIDE!!!”. For some reason he couldn’t stop staring at the severed hand, caught in the doors now open. Someone hadn’t stood clear. Someone screamed in his own voice.

Then the cold hand clamped down on his forearm. The pain was so intense it closed him down almost completely – cauterized, by frigid Northrend cold.

“MOVE!!!”

The hand pushed him. He stumbled down, fell into the waisthigh water and almost toppled over. He raised his hands, one arm from the elbow down missing, and was about to scream when that cold hand on his shoulder pushed him forward.

“You wanna live forever!?”

He turned his already fading eyesight at her, shaking his head. Then he slumped to his knees, holding the stump of his one arm in his living hand.

“I’m sorry.” he said.

“Waste of fucking space, you are!”

As he slumped forward, that cold hand shot out and grabbed him by his neck. He was barely alive when he finally came to rest against a pile of dead gnomes and tauren. Then the death knight grabbed his head in both her hands and kissed him.

“Rise!”

Courre rose. Twitching, groaning, slobbering – he stumbled forth, sending cascades of holy power in front of him.

He would not speak of his resurrection, not to no one.

The Lament of Farmhand Geist: Heart of a Champion

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Last night a death knight saved my … death.

I often find myself perched on the spire of the highest tower and I wish all these people of the garison dead. I want to stab them, Strangle them. Shoot them. I want to sneak into their inn and even if they treat me nicely I want to say to them, “I’m sorry, but this is the kingdom of the Scourge! You need to go, all of you. Only the dead … ”

Dead.

DEAD.

Then I grow silent ( I often mumble to myself when I get lost in thought because Scourge have a hard time thinking, it’s because of our brains, they’re deteriorating, you see). Everytime I think about how to do it, to kill them all, I whisper to myself. Then I look at the picture that Maloria gave me the other night and then … I don’t know. I just wish I wasn’t dead. That maybe … maybe there’s still a chance. Is there?

This is Tim the Geist, with a slipknot around her neck. Full of truth – and the truth will set me free. Because if you’re high up enough, you won’t suffocate when the rope tightens. You’ll break your neck. It’s a second of pain but that’s all it is. Then I can be repurposed. My parts won’t retain their morphic memories a second death around. We will all, finally, be free. My liver, my spleen, my brain, my knees.

We are the dead. I … we … Or I. The legion that we are … I just pretended I was the opposite. That I could be alive. But I am dead, I just didn’t trust ut. I’m made of the stuff that is coarse (I am a hollow man, as Gerry the Ghoul once told me – then he jumped from the rampart, laughing all the way down – yes, we sent scouts down to Crystalsong, no reason to let a perfectly good ghoul go to waste because of a nerve breakdown).

My thumbs are dead, my brain is dead, my chest, my ribs, my hands, my muscles, my knees, my he– … My hea— My. He—.

It’s dead.

Dead.

DEAD.

Yet, in all the darkness of this machine without a soul that I for so long pretended to be a person, my heart is … my heart is … my heart …

It moved last night. Just once. I felt it. It scared me. I’m accustomed to death. Something moving inside me – something that isn’t a hungry rat! – is scary. I hid behind the sacks of grain in the stables, hoping it wouldn’t move again. It did not. At dawn, I snuck out, close to the ground so that no one would see me. I tried and hoped I could forget the visions … of how my master once knelt in front of a deity of pure light … of how it looked at me … of how it spoke.

“The light does not abandon its champions.”

That was then, of course. Long before I knew that my heart belonged to a vindicator. There were many of them, people like Bridenbrad, so many who fought the ultimate battle. Heroes, they call them. I didn’t know I had the heart of a vindicator then, as we scurried across worlds to save a single man. Who does, really?

You never know you’re brave until it’s too late.

My heart was salvaged, as it’s called, by scavenging ghouls. The living give up on the dead once the spirit has left the body. Still, there’s a lot of useful parts just laying around on any battlefield. They found my heart bearer in a forgotten cave. There was a pile of ghouls all around her. Indeed, it’s said they found a lot of useful parts on and around her. Yet, the only thing I got was the heart. Kel’Thuzad was a softie (not many people know this but he liked cats – and apprently draenei hearts). Her morphic memories were dormant for so long, until that time I ran to my Master as the iron stars descended upon Karabor and the shadow came … called by an orc … and then … then. Then my heart beat. Just once. As shadow turned to light. Because it remembered its champion.

That was the first time it beat. The second time, well I told you already. I hid when it happened. The first time I only hunched down, screaming. no one noticed. The second time, once I was done hiding, I climbed onto the tower and that’s where Master found me (she’s not really my master, it’s just an old habit to call her that but I am free, I am redeemed, I am … dead.)

I looked up and …

Those burning eyes. In all my dreams I have never seen a light such as that, the dead lights of my Masters eyes. I sat there, perched on the tower of war (as they call it), with the shriveled piece of flesh that once was a heart in my hands. I stared at it. I had ripped it out with the saronite claws I once again had equipped (I had declawed myself because the Living don’t like monsters with claws made from the blood of an old god).

She said: “What are you doing, Tim?”
I said: “I’m trying to get rid of the pain.”

Master smiled. She said, stroking my chin:

“You can never ease that pain, Tim … ” Then she twitched her head back and hollered: “Bigglesworth!”

I knew I shouldn’t have let that one get into my heart. There’s two things redeemed Scourge can’t fight: Death knights with an ass made in Argus and undead cats. as Bigglesworth gave me a reproachful look, Master easted the slipknot off my neck. I had used a heavy rope, one of those down from the naval yard. It was salvage, just like me. Once used to tow ships into harbor. Now, in the hands of a geist an instrument of death … only things didn’t work out as I thought they would. I scurried down the walls of the tower of war, embarassed, intent on finding a bush to hide under.

That’s when my heart beat a third time.

Casually strolling up the footpath from the main garrison, as guards usually do, Morissa came. I don’t know what it is, it’s just something about the grace of her undead body, the sawying of her hips, the way she always holds her flaming axe. I know she has a bit of a “reputation” among other death knights, mercenaries contracted through the Ebon Blade. Not everyone trust her – but I do. It’s just something …

She always wears a red scarf around her neck. It’s the only color of her otherwise pale and black appearance. She was catatonic once – sleeping, I mean, but undead never truly sleep we just power down – and I … was curious. It’s not a polite thing to do, I know. But I, well, investigated her appeal. It’s a scourge thing, ok!?

She has a scar around her neck. It starts by her left ear and ends by her right shoulder. It must have been a very painful way to go …

As she came up the footpath my dead heart took a leap. It was very embarassing. I still held it in my hand. I scrambled and managed to show into my chest before she noticed – and even if she noticed she just smiled at me. Then she went on by. Bigglesworth stared at her for a long time, then turned his eyes at me and hissed. He knew he was outmatched. Master gathered him up and first he struggled but then he settled in. Then Master shot a quick look at Morissa and smiled.

Master glanced at me. She spoke, in that kind of way people speak when they know they hold all the truth in a single sentence but want to be casual about it.

“You should ask her out, Tim.”

I’m not sure I understand the ways of the living. I’m dead, as you know. I did fashion a sign though. I hanged it above the doorway to my humble abode, a shack at the back of the salvage yard. Jack, he runs the place, he don’t mind. He’s mostly dead anyhow (or so he says; something about his lungs, he coughs a lot). I just hope Morissa likes my sign. It says:

THIS IS THE KINGDOM OF THE SCOURGE. ONLY THE DEAD MAY ENTER.

In Shadows: Resurrection

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A child woke her up.

Vassannah was mostly unconscious or trapped in deep sleep for six weeks, partly from teas and elixirs, partly from the fatigue of cleric Maloofs deep healing and many surgeries. The one thing she was sure of was how she eventually woke up.

A child woke her up.

She had a faint memory of Reshad whispering

(“Shadows gather … “)

something to her. She also remembered a small, fat bird,chirping, perched on her head. She had barely felt the soft touch of her sisters hand. There had been the feathery touch of leathery fingertips as well. She could remember a stench of death, barely kept back by strong, impossibly old, mogu perfume. She remembered cold fingertips against her face … Zavvie. Zavannah, gently touching and then screaming.

“Don’t you DARE TO DIE VASS! Not you! NOT YOU!!”

(Someone must have pushed the death knight out of the room.)

It wasn’t her sisters that woke her up. It was a child that stirred her into conciousness as she was lost in a stupor, half-drunk and high as a pandaren kite on elixirs, teas and various mind-altering spells.

“Hullo, miss Vee. Uh … Oh, yeah! I’m growing a beard.”

At first she thought it was a dream, like the dreams she had had about her infant years … fleeing from the Legion on some long forgotten world. But the voice was too sharp for a phantom voice. It was there The first thing she saw was Shuannas burning eyes. Then, hiding behind Shuannas shoulder, there was a very frightened but also very brave and very young pandaren. A pepe bird perched on his head. The room was filled with people – Cassanna, Cahanna, Illona, Delvar, Kadghar, the ghost of admiral Taylor, Yrel … so many people. Even Thrall was there, huddled in a cloak that made him resemble not Thrall, but Gul’Dan. She was too weak to be afraid. Then the child stepped out from behind Shuanna and, his hand trembling, gave her a leaf.

It was a green tea leaf.

“Hello.” The child said. His eyes were big and frightened but his body was tense and courageous. “Uh … I can cook tiger steak now, miss Vee! I can’t you know like kill tigers but you know that yangol … tauren … he does it for me. He showed me how to gut a tiger but I kinda barfed. Oh, and thepuppies that Dog made, uh … They like Hao Han. He pretends not to like them but I have seen him throw Mu’Shan bones that they can chase and the he laughs, you know. He says they will keep the virmen away like no problem at all, you know. We miss you, miss Vee. And …” The child glanced, a little afraid, at Zavannah. “And we miss miss Zee too. Even Hao Han does. Won’t you come home please, miss Vee?” The child looked around, then shrank back with a scared yelp as Phylarch tried to smile. “Like … we miss … uh … most of you.”

Then the child took a hurried step back and hid behind one of the pandaren mercenaries. Vassannah tried to recall her name but failed. Instead, she raised a weak hand and spoke. Her voice hoarse, no more than a croak:

“N… Noomi?” She coughed. Shuanna was quickly there, one hand around a tin cup filled with water from Gloomshadow Lake, the other still holding Vassannahs hand.

“Drink this, honey … “

Then a tiny little battle-cry came from the floor. A moment later a small, but very brave, podling jumped up on the headboard of the bed and sprinkled some kind of dust in Vassannahs hair. It was sand, just plain simple sand, nothing magical.

“Dust to dust,” Phylarch mumbled. Then he scoped up the podling in his arms and scratched its petals until the podling fell asleep as if it had been a kitten. “Young pod. Don’t know much yet. It likes you. It bled itself in the cup o’water.”

As the few drops of water gently rolled over Vassannahs tongue she coughed, then felt slightly stronger. Just a tiny fraction of the podlings energies in the water but it was enough.

“This is a strange world,” the child said. “I don’t think Hao Han would like it much. He doesn’t like new things.”

“Noomi?” Vassannah coughed. “No– … What … what are you doing here!?” She winced. “Back! My back … “She looked around, suddenly frantic. “My hammer! They’re coming! The shadow! Thye’re killing them! On the steps of Karabor, they … ” She fell silent, closed her eyes, swallowing hard, now that she could salivate again. “Am I going to die now? Guess it won’t be too bad, after all … Just ask them to make a clean cut. No torture … I … can’t … stand … pain.”

She didn’t die.

In Shadows: A star, descending

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Here they come!” A moment later she’s sprawled on the ground of the trench, panting, yet screaming: “Here they come! Here they come!

Shrapnels of memories in her mind. Another moment:

“Run! Don’t stop just run! Don’t look back! RUN!!!”

Pain.

“Mother! I want my mother!”
“I know, lass, now hold still.”
“You hurtin’ me!”
“Me savin’ yer life, lass! Hold still! n’ don’t bleed on me jacket!”

Yet, of all the million fragments siphoned through a brain reeling from pain, through all the madness within, there is a single moment in time. Frozen. A calm, old hand … gently caressing her almost naked scalp and for an instant she feels all the light of all the worlds inside her.

We will meet again, child. I have seen it … Vassie. Not all who wanders are lost.

She smiles. Chubby lips in a baby face, looking up at the brilliance on his forehead as the world burns around her. He smiles back. Salvation takes exactly three seconds.

Damnation takes a lifetime.

It’s a very distant memory. It’s so old she can’t actually remember it, it’s more of a feeling … like a faint vibration in some long forgotten hallway of her mind. Draenei learn to not remember. Should they remember they would go insane. Most repress their memories of older worlds. They focus on what is, what is to come, not what once have been. Memories remain, however, stored in the databank of a brain. Deep meditation can bring those memories back. More often they come back when the floodgates of pain opens up. Without safeguards, the memories come storming in. From the very latest to the very earliest. Infant memories, from a time so long ago not even history books can be sure if it ever happened.

Her mothers skin against her chin. The firm but yet gentle grasp of cloth rags around body, strapped to the chest of her mother. The sights and sounds and smells, the feeling of itchy skin from her belly to her knees. She’s wet herself (and something else as well, judging from the smell). Seeing is believing, so she looks up at her mothers face …

“Sssh, sssh.” A smile. “Sssh … “

Caressed as the sky burns.

It burns. A backdrop to her mothers face. Behind the paleness, with it’s piercing white eyes and horns, swept backwards. The sky is a brilliant green. Waves of pitch black smoke billow up against a moon, now turned emerald and red. Slithers of deep purple smoke, burning bright against a velvet sky, splotched with green of all the greens she has ever seen. A single star burns a brilliant white in that sky.

A star, descending.

There are sounds around her. She’s too young to fully understand the words. Instead the words are more felt, than understood.

“Run! Don’t stop just run! Don’t look back! RUN!!!”

Her mothers eyes are wide. Her mouth is nothing but a dark “oooh!” in a face so pale the veins are showing at her temples. Her breath is hot, it smells of spices still. The hair, caught in a tussle between horns, turned grey with age, is white as the snow of a mountain peak. Yet her touch is gentle, as she fondles her baby in her arms and readjust the straps around her shoulders.

Then they’re off. Every step becomes a jolt through both their bodies. Every sound becomes an echo. The hooves on white gravel. The din of something huge, stomping so hard the earth itself trembles. The sky is burning with green eyes. With flashing steel. With black and purple. With light, light so bright she feels a jolt of pain through her head.

The rushing sound of air around her head as they jump. The gurgle of water as they break into a pond. Her mothers scream, louder even than the gasping breath of air.

Vassannah is crying. It’s a mumbling, tiny little sound in all the chaos. The water is cold. She’s so afraid! Her tiny little arms are struggling to break free but the papoose is holding her tight.

“Sssh! Ssssh … “

Dripping water from strands of white hair. For some reason it makes her smile. She makes a cooing sound, then the fatigue of fear takes hold of her and she doze off. Not for long. Soon she’s awake again, but for some reason she knows and feels she mustn’t cry. Not now.

Growling monsters patrolling a burning street. Her mother hunched behind som wreck. A man crouching behind her, his hands gripping the gilded handle of a pale blue … thing. A toy, perhaps. But Big People don’t call them toys.

The world is burning. The star is coming. The male reach out with a hand, black with blood of monsters Vassannah don’t yet have a name for. It grips her mothers neck, pulling her up. Screams. Then – the sound of voices. The words, that perhaps she understands but can’t yet use herself:

“RUN!!! I’ll hold them off!”
“Maraad, no!”
“Run, fool! Run!”

The star descends.

The lament of farmhand Geist: Secrets of the frostweed

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“Tim reporting for duty, ma’am!” Oh, the snicker Thorn always gives me when she sees me … I crouch, even though I don’t usually skitter across the ground like one of the Bad Scourge. Then I make a silly salute. Somehow it always makes people laugh. Especially the Commander. She may be tough. She may be angry. She may scream for more when she’s with Cowan. But she always laughs at the jester, the geist, reporting for duty.

Thorn is my friend. I don’t have many friends, but as Thorn once said when we were sharing a bottle of wine under a tree not far from Eledor: “Call the monster when someone you love is dying”. Then she broke into tears, snorting snot through her wolf nose. Poor woman won’t ever leave her worgen self again, people say. Baros gave her a rose. It’s probably something significant. Perhaps I should give Morissa a bush or something …

You know, part of coming alive again is learning what to feel, all over again. So I wonder about this thing called love … but I’m afraid to ask about it. Come on! I’m a Scourge, redeemed perhaps but still an assortment of bodyparts reanimated with terrible magics and … you know … Why should I love? I don’t fucking know how!

Killing is easy. Love – now that’s complicated.

Truth be told I find it annoying. I shouldn’t think about Morrie as much as I do, but … you know. Maybe I shouldn’t think about it. Maybe I should do what Illona did – walk back and forth and … okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I spied on her, you know. The geist knows (I sometimes thumb my nose when I say stuff like that; it’s a grummles fault, but that was in the past).

Thorn is just one of those people this human garrison is trying to forget. It’s all fun and games, you know. No one cares about a gilnean with an eye patch as long as she, as Lantresor said, “stays in character“. Then all it takes is a bit of bad luck. To quote Vandaam, another misfit – “Violet! Then bam! That motherfucker is punched out!“.

(He said that after inhaling something from a glass bulb … Van showed me, and he learned it from ogres, so … yeah. I don’t know what he meant with “far out“, because I was keeping close to the ground, but I guess it’s a draenei thing. It made my thumbs tingle.)

I like Vandaam. He’s a bit rough around the edges and he slurs his words but that’s because another gladiator cracked his skull once. Vans vocabulary makes Exarch Yrel cringe, true, but at least he’s honest (Van is the only one who beat Maraad in arm wrestling; not bad for someone who was once sorting books and inks). Did you know that Vandaam was a librarian once? Oh yes, he were! He never left Talador, or so he says. Then some ogre came along and all of a sudden the skinny bookworm was turned into a gladiator. He also forgot most of his words. Many concussions, handle it.

Vandaams claws, guys. Those babies takes paper cuts to a whole new level.

Leorahj said so. I never doubt a cat (which is why Barbar likes to sleep in my lap, I’ll tell you about that later). Leo is another misfit, of course. So is Goldmane (they don’t like each other; something about the smell of another male and something about clans, territory and, I think, Lunarfall Inns fish menu).

I’m rambling. I’m sorry. Being a heist … I mean a geist, high … oh my, I think I have to giggle.

Right then! Now I’m back! Oh man, it’s hard work – especially when you try your hardest to be one of the “living”. Breathers, as guard Morissa calls the living. She said, she did, “Tim, there’s three kinds of women here: The bitches, the sluts and the breathers“. Then she lit up a bowl of frostweed (it’s legal on Draenor!) and sort of faded out.

I think Van taught her too. For some reason he like people that’s already dead.

Frostweed is pretty strange. Even my brain lights up from it. Then the world turns blue. And green. And, you know, black. Because I like black. Even though it sometimes looks more like, orange.

But Phylarch, another misfit, calls it was it is: “This is what you get from prime compost, my dear dead friend. Compost, like the bodies you bring me. Ray D Tear was especially pungent..” then Poodles jumped onto my shoulder and wanted salted elekk. Again. For someone that tiny the pet podling sure is hungry! Phylarch showed me where’s the bluest of the blue frostweed grows. Tell you the truth – he grows it himself behind the lumber mill. He’s weird, I know, but his frostweed kicks ass (Vassie told me so, that’s why I got curious and that’s … uh … yeah.)

I don’t think anyone has ever done any research on what weed actually does to a brain that, for all intent and purposes, is dead. Supposed to be dead. Undead, at least. Or … unalive. Not quite dead, not quite living. Just like Master. Just like me.

Just like Morissa.

So here we are. What Thorn said. “Call the monster when someone you love is dying”. Master, my Zavannah, who gave me Morissa … sort of … this thing orange black in my head is making scourge thinking hard … I …

Ah!

I know what will perk the shadow bitch up. Priest, I mean priest!

Frostweed.

– – – – – –
(Master won’t ever let me forget what happened … when she found me and Lantresor. I think it’s called baked. I’m not sure. Lants is a warrior, not a baker. She did say, she did, and Lant giggled, like a girl … she did say:
“Tim? What are you doing? What’s that cat doing on your head?”
“’cause ‘f y’all got a fucking bird on ya ‘ead I can have a cat! It’s my. Right! Aight!?”
“Sober up, you monster. There’s orcs to kill.”

She paused, then sat own beside me. Then she said, flipping her hand in a “gimme”-sign:

“And give me some of that.”)