Kaahen was stacking boxes when he for a second looked up, nothing unusual about it, just the way you sometimes take a quick look around. Eyes usually trail off against something high, perhaps to see what position the sun or the moon is in. Perhaps to bless your mind with a short thought of ‘We came from there once’. It’s just the way some people act. Then …
He didn’t take his eyes off her. Not even as he moved away from the heavy boxes, whiping sweat from his brow with a small, blue hankerchief. Not even as he said “Yo, Pea, check her out!”.
“What?” Peelah said, slightly irritated. They were behind schedule. The clean-up of the Karabor harbor was taking a lot longer than anyone had anticipated. Moving boxes of broken dark armors and weapons dropped by the orcs was just one of the chores. The piles of junk metal scattered around the harbor was slowly shrinking but it would take at least another week to finish up the clean-up completely. No one on the cleaning detail enjoyed their work; rotting blood and pieces of meat had fused to broken metal. The stench of death from those salvaged armors made them sick. “Quit it, you lazy elekk. Get a move on!”
“What’s she doin’ up there, girl?” Kaahen took a few steps forward, not taking his eyes off the woman high up on the parapet. She was standing on the very edge of it, slightly rocking back and forth with her upper body, arms limp down her sides. He shot Peelah a quick glance with the words “That one.”
Peelah looked up, still holding a heavy box of damaged guns in her hands. Then she dropped the box with a short, terrified gasp. It slammed into the pavement with a dull clang.
“It’s one of ’em from Tanaan!” she said, stepping forth but stopping after three steps, one hand raised to shade her eyes from the glare of the defense crystals up on the parapet. They were hidden from her view from this angle but the shine was still creating a mock sunset against the blackened shadow of the parapet. “Damn it, I know her!”
“Never seen anyone prance around in clothes like those. It’s like underwear. They call it mageweave, the outsiders I mean.”
“What’s she doin’ up there?” Kaahen said. His eyes returned to the parapet, the woman was almost nothing but a shade of black against the purple glare of the crystals.
“Oh no … ” Peelah made a short, squeaking sound. “Oh no!”
Then they saw the woman up there take a single step forward. Mid air she crouched a little, flailing with her arms. They heard her scream. It was a short scream.
She slammed into the stairs leading down to the harbor with a dull thud.
“We had healers close by,” Yrel said. “Work detail healers. A lot of sharp weapons and metal left behind, you know. The workers are careful but accidents happen. If not for them she would surely have perished. No one can understand why she did it. She is, after all, a hero.”
“So am I … ” Shuanna sighed. She took Vassannahs limp hand in hers and squeezed, ever so gently. “Yet not a single day go by, Exarch …Without the thought to end it all. A single step. That’s all it takes.”
“You mean … She didn’t, she … ” Yrel turned her worried gaze at Vassannah, sighing. “She didn’t fall.”
“She jumped,” Shuanna said. Her tone was too rough, too hard. It didn’t convey what she actually felt but she didn’t want to break, not now.
“But – why?”
“I don’t know … Did she leave something? A note? Anything?”
She’s lost in a sea of rage. Shadows gather. Tendrils of smoke ripping her skin open. She’s screaming. Brilliant light fuse her wounds. A storm of flowing water splash around her as shamanistic magics conjure forth what is needed. Someone is screaming “Adds! Adds! KILL THE FUCKING ADDS!!!”. A claw rips the head off a dwarf just a few steps away from her. She can hear it; ripping skin and flesh and muscles, it sounds like paper torn to shreds. There’s no scream, just a short cry sounding like “glub!”. Then the dull sound of already dead meat dressed in iron, hitting the floor.
Writhing shadowy tendrils of black, grey and white smoke. Forming into abominations of living shadow. Living anger. Even the windswept yellow grass turns grey. Someone is roaring at the top of his lungs and flails against the forming shadows with massive axes, one in each hand although the weapons are supposed to be swung with two hands. Someone shrieks but then she realize it’s not a shriek, it’s the staccato sound of missiles. Brilliant blue light whips through the air inches above her head. She seees the arcane missiles slam into the hulking form of darkness, exploding. Pieces of darkness torn from the living death in front of them.
A hozen, mad with rage, leaps from the corner of her eyes, slamming into her body, toppling her. Then someone lean forth and traps his neck in a whip – a succubus, giggling. The hozen becomes mesmerized. She sees his penis grow hard in an instant. Then pustules forms on his skin, all over, from head to toes. He stumbles away, screaming, vomiting, dying from a horrible, painful plague.
She scrambles to her hooves but she can’t turn around. Frozen in place. If she turns around she will see it – she don’t want to see it. All around her hozens, emanitions of rage, shadows living – all around her. Death. Bodyparts. Screams. One by one of the mercenary outfit succumbs. Slautghtered. Tortured. Incinerated. Rage.
Living rage all around.
She sees a nightelf woman being dragged away by tendrils of smoke. A swarm of maddened hozen leap onto her body, ripping her limb from limb. Skewering her on a polearm, from the pussy to chin.
Mad shrieks of absolute insanity.
She sees a hozen paint his face with blood. Human blood. Licking his fingers, pieces of a once proud paladin still hanging from the monsters claws.
Rage, everyone consumed with Rage.
Rage. White hot anger, out of control. Burning every coherent thought to a crisp. Like a steak forgotten on some skillet.
“Yes! YES!!! You rage sustains me!”
Then she’s alone. For a few moments she just stands there. She’s crouching down, but she won’t bow down. Too proud. Won’t bow, don’t know how. Not even in front of the Prophet – Never Ever Bow To Anyone. Show your neck and it will be severed. She saw what happened when the orcs assaulted Karabor. She saw the slaughter. She saw what happens if you bow. Never. Ever.
The shadow looming behind her … before a brilliant light fills the world and she hears herself shriek. An out of place rallying cry.
Somehow the survivors picked up their failing courage … Then later, the Shado Pan found them, days after the battle, stumbling like broken beggars across a windswept plain.
Most of them were probably mad.
Not even the Yangol dared to attack them. Eyes still burning with the deep, deep terror of having faced your primal rage – and survived. She was close to death.
They all were.
She had never been that close to death, not once.