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.

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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.”)