One breath away

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“Breathe!” Thump! “Breathe, dammit!” Thump! Thump! “Come on, girl … “

Thump! Thump!

Sheela felt his small fists pounding her chest. She couldn’t breathe. Seaweed and water clogged her throat. The Light was fading, fast. Her eyes were open but she saw almost nothing in the gathering dark. She could only feel the thump, thump, thump of the gnomes tiny fists. She could only hear the sobbing and the prayers and the muttered words of “Breathe, come on, breathe. Don’t go away, beutiful. Breathe!”

“She’s with Elune now, Bixx,” a voice said. Then a face, pale as the moon, appeared in front on Sheelas eyes. “There’s nothing you can do. She is gone.”

“NO!!!” Thump. “I WILL not!” Thump. “Let this one!” Thump. “GO!!!” Thump.

Sheela coughed. It started as a faint gasp, then racked her chest until she spewed water and weeds in a steady stream. She was flat on her back. For a few seconds she feared she would drown anyway, but then everyone started screaming and yelling and someone rolled her over on her side. She puked water and seaweed, half digested hardtack and beer. The smell of putrid vomit blanketed everything around her. She didn’t know if it was sweat or tears or salt water running down her face. It was so cold. There were screams from down by the shipwreck. Then a tremendous crash as the wooden hull caught a wave and lifted off the rocks. She tried to stand up, but couldn’t find the strength. Still on her knees, she watched the ship roll first to one side, then the other.

“Mother of all!” The gnome gasped. “Look at that!”
“It’s finished … “the night elf said. “No one could survive that.”

Elune of the Seas lurched to the side, the main mast broke in two. Then the hull burst open as the cargo of copper- and iron bars crashed through the wood. It only took a minute for the ship to go down. Dozens of people were still trapped – less than a hundred feet from Westfall. The water boiled with air bubbles. The ship went down with a thundering, slurping sound, echoing across the stormlashed sea. Some sailors tried to swim against the backdraft but the currents pulled them down.

Then everything turned still. No screams, no crashing timber. The waves kept sloshing against the shoreline. The wind kept howling. The rain, heavy as a waterfall, kep pelting the sand, the rocks, the flotsam and the sea. Bodies kept popping up like corks, flung across the angry waves.

“It’s … “the gnome shook his head in disbelief. “It’s just us, now … ”
“Look over there! Torches!” The night elf stood up, shielding her eyes from the rain and wind with her hands. “Over there!”
“Praise the Light!” The gnome started jumping up and down, screaming “HEY!!! OVER HERE!!!” He stopped jumping, turned to the night elf and grinned. “It’s the bloody militia!”
“Aren’t they rather short for militia troopers?”

The eerie sound of a snicker rolled down the sandbank. Then the gnolls stormed the beach.

****

Shu_sash

Glass shattering on stone woke Shuanna up. The walls of Lunarfall was eight feet thick, but the town hall was nothing more than a shack. Stone piled upon stone with mortar in between, wooden boards on wooden beams. Her bedroom was one floor above the main hall. Even small sounds echoed up through the wooden floor, reverberating against stone and plaster.

Years in the field had tempered her. Even the slightest sound could wake her up. She would wake up with her heart racing, reach out and grab the mace that always rested against the wall close to her bed. Most of the times there was nothing to attack but shadows. Or an inquisitive mouse, pit-patting across the floor. Sometimes there was nothing at all, the room was dark but she still heard the screams in her head. Sometimes there were ghosts in the darkness. Sometimes she raged against them, swinging her mace – only to stop mid-motion and wonder if she was going crazy.

She was used to waking up, several times every night, from all the small sounds. Even peaceful sounds, like the tick-tock of the chronometer far up in the tower, could send her into near panic. Every time cold sweat trickled down her spine, her armpits felt ablaze. Then sometimes, other sounds woke her up, sounds no one would expect in a town hall.

Like the sound of sorrow … one early morning she woke up hearing lieutenant Thorn sobbing downstairs. When Shuanna came down, still half asleep and almost naked but armed with a glowing crystal mace, she found Thorn bent double over a ledger. The lieutenant clutched a rose with one hand and a gun with the other. They stared at each other, knowing that both of them had their own nightmares, their own pain. None of them ever spoke of it. Secrets amongst friends.

Once, she woke up to muffled moans. Mace ready in her hands, she stormed down the stair and into the main hall … only to find rangari Erdanii on all four with VaanDaam behind her. It took all three of them a few seconds to react to the embarassment. Then Shuanna simply backed out of the room, trying not to laugh. None of them ever spoke of it. Secrets amongst friends.

Once, she woke up to the rumble of books, falling from a bookshelf. Mace ready in her hands, she dashed into the hall but stopped dead in her tracks. Zaliss, the feral druid, was desperately clinging to a bookshelf full of ledgers, trying to catch a moth. Both stared at each other, then Zaliss made a giant leap and snuck out of the town hall keeping low to the ground, full of shame and embarassment. None of them ever spoke of it. Secrets amongst friends.

Now, the crash of glass against stone, followed by a shout that sounded muffled through the mortar and glass of walls and windows.
“Fuck ALL of you, dammit!”

There was another crash, followed by distant yells of “Oi!” and “Hey, stop that!”. Shuanna gripped her mace even before she was completely awake. She forced herself to focus as she ran down the stairs and out the main door to the Town Hall. Dressed in nothing but underwear, she stopped halfway down the slope, mace resting by her side.

“Commander!” A guard shouted. “She gone crazy she has!”
“You stay away from me!” Sashanna screamed, then flung another empty clay bottle at the walls. “Fuck off!”
“I will handle this, guardsmen,” Shuanna said. She sent an angry glare at her sister. “Sash! Stop that!”
“No!” Sashanna picked up another bottle, but then most of the strength left her. She sank down on her knees, sobbing and crying. Shards from a broken bottle of Caraway Burnwine twinkled in the starlight around her. There was a dagger in her right hand.

“Sash?” Shuanna said, her voice low and careful. After some thought, she lowered her mace. “You behave now, you hear?”
“I hate all of you!” Sashanna screamed. Then she thought it over, and added: “Well, not Blook … ”
“You calm down now, you hear?” Shuanna took a few steps towards her. “Come on, sis. Let’s get you inside. We’ll talk inside. Okay?”

Sashanna sighed. Then she hugged herself, trying not to shiver. Early mornings in Shadowmoon could be quite chilly. Burnwine and rage had kept her warm so far, but as the adrenaline faded away she felt cold and vulnerable. She mumbled an “okay then … ” and followed Shuanna inside the Town Hall. Slouching, resisting almost every step, she finally slumped down in front of the fireplace.

Shuanna walked her all the way back. With a sigh of relief she closed the door to the main hall and let the mace rest against a wall. She walked down the length of the room, pulling a coat from a rack near the door, covering herself up. It was better than nothing. Early morning and the main hall was damp and cold until she entered the halfcircle of warmth from the fireplace. More glass in front of the fireplace. Even as Sashanna was sitting down, she was leaning first to one side, then another.

“You alright?” Shuanna said as she hunched down. “Hey, Sash?” She carefully put a hand on her sisters head and gave the hair a little ruffle. “What got into you!? you’re drunk as a skunk, girl!”

“I’m fine,” Sashanna said. She swallowed a sob, wiping tears and snot from her face with the sleave of her dress. “I’m jush … I dunno.” She glanced at the broken bottle. “Shorry ’bout that … me a bit d’unk, I think.” She stared at the dagger in her hand. Then, with a frightened yelp, she tossed to the side and looked up at Shuanna. “I mish Kam … ”
“Ah.” Shuanna sat down, careful to avoid the glass shards. She pushed the dagger away with one of her hooves. When she spoke, she tried to keep her usual haggard, slightly angry tone, in check. “You didn’t think about doing something with that dagger, I hope.”
“Couldn’t get the she… sh… ” A deep breath. “Seal. Off da bottle. Shorry … It kinda shlipped my handsh.”
“Uh-huh.” Shuanna nodded. To her own suprised she smiled. It felt good, smiling. She suddenly realised she had almost never smiled from pure joy. Malice, yes. Threatening hate, oh sure. Love or joy? not so much. There were another bottle close by, already empty. “Party hard, eh?”

Sashanna giggled, slumped back on the bearskin and rested her head against the furs stuffed bearhead. After a while, she reached out with a hand and pulled Shuanna down beside her.
“I hash da shadsh … shads.” Deep breath. “Sad.”
“I know honey.” Shuanna sat up. There was a quilt next to her. She brought it up and draped it over Sashanna. “I know … ” She sighed, deeply.

“How can you?” Sashanna wiped tears from her face, trying to stiffle a sob. It failed. “How can you know?” I mean … Fuck. “She sighed, deeply, trying not to cry but failed. Almost wailing, she clung to Shuanna. “I love her sho mush! Why mush … mush deshe fucking politicsh … I mish her too!”
“We very nearly couldn’t get you out of Silvermoon, kid.” Shuanna shrugged. “I know what love is, but dammit, girl. A blood elf? I had to cash in on a shitload of favors just to keep you out of the gallows.”
“Pleashe don’t be mad … ”
“I’m not mad!” Shuanna sighed, closed her eyes and forced her voice into a low, almost monotone sound. “It’s just the way I sound. You know it … ”
“I don’t want you to be mad at me.”
“I’m no–” Deep breath. “I’m not mad. You had us all worried, that’s all. Running away like that, eh? The High King himself yelled at me, you know. I’ve killed men for doing that.”
“Shorry … ” Sashanna leaned back, wiping her face with a corner of the quilt. “WEll they do call you the Kingshlayer …”

Shuanna laughed. Very gently, she patted Sashannas head, stroking her hair. It somehow calmed both of them down.
“Eh, it doesn’t matter.” Shuanna smiled, she hoped it would be a warm smile but from Sashannas worried expression it probably came out as a sneer. “Laveria, the fucking bitch, she’s dealing with Kam. I’m stuck with you, silly girl.”
“You’re mad at me.”
“No.” Shuanna sighed. “Well, ok, a bit. Look … Blood elves, the Horde … It’s just not possible, Sash. Sorry. Not yet, anyway.”
“I love her!”
“I know. I know …”
“You do?”
“I was young too, once.”
“I find that hard to believe.”

Shuanna burst out laughing. It was not a very pleasant laugh. Everytime she laughed, there was that mean, haggard edge to it. She saw Sashanna cringe a little. Instead of saying anything, Shuanna leaned over and started to tickle her sister.

“You little vixen!”
“No! Pleashe! Shtop it!” Sashanna shrieked with laughter. “Pleashe!”
“Right.” Shuanna chuckled, leaned back on her elbows and bumbed her hip against Sashannas. “It’s true. I used to be in love.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Sheela.” Shuanna smiled, closed her eyes and nodded. “We used to chase moths down on the plains. We ran away once.”
“You did?”
“Yeah … ” Shuanna rolled over on her side, pulling Sashanna into a gentle hug. “Maraad found us all the way up in Nagrand. We were trying to build a raft, ’cause we were going to hide in Frostfire. It was so stupid … ”
“She an orc?”
“Oh no. She was a beutiful draenei. She … touched my soul.”
“Why didn’t you, you know, go together? Be a couple, kinda?”
“Mother didn’t like her. Sheela was the daughter of an elekk breeder.”
“Oh.”
“Yeah … Like you said. These fucking politics …”
“Did she come to Azeroth? With the rest of us?”

Shuanna hesitated for quite some time. Then she rolled over on her side, put an arm around Sashanna and whispered:

“She died in Shattrath, Sash.” Shuanna sighed, forcing herself to smile. She stood up, pulled Sashanna up and said: “Now, let’s get you too bed. You’ll have one hell of a headache tomorrow.”
“Shu?” Sashanna said, stopping Shuannas first step with a tight tug on her hand.
“Yes?”
“Do you miss her?”
“Every day.” Shuanna nodded, then she blinked, hard. The tears was kept back with sheer willpower. “Every single day, Sash. With every breath.” She nodded at the dagger on the floor. “You weren’t using that for the seal, did you?”

Sashanna shrugged, embarassed. She looked up at Shuanna, then pulled her into a hard, long comforting hug.

“I’m shorry, Shu … ”
“We’ll be allright, sis. We’re survivors.”
“I love Kam … ”
“I know.”
“Some people say, know what they say?” Sashanna yawned, stumbling. Shuanna steadied her with firm hand.
“What do people say, my drunken little kitten, mmm?”
Sashanna smiled. Then she giggled. She wrapped herself around Shuanna in a close hug, burbing caraway fumes and stale frostweed breath. Almost with no voice at all, she said, before almost falling asleep:
“Some people … say … that eternal love … is only one breath away.”

– – – – – –
Backstory for Sashanna here and here.)

Sins of Our Fathers, Part I (Shuanna)

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Her grip hardens as she sees him. The true iron reinforced leather gloves creak, like an old sofa, as she tightens the grip of the hilt. Perhaps it’s the sound of Shuannas gloves that makes him aware of her. Perhaps he heard her horse, a long time earlier. Either way – he don’t care. He just keeps staring into the fire, hunched down. At long last, when the silence between them becomes to much for both of them, he says:

“So … You’ve come to kill me?” He looks at her, just a glance over his shoulder. “You got away, eh? I figured you would.”
“Father … ”
“Leave me alone. Or kill me. Just get it over with, whatever you want.”
“I … I … ” she sighs, lets the mace drop and takes a careful step forward. He reeks. Unwashed, old blood stains on his leather robes and skin. There’s the stench of Broken, seeping out of his pores. His hands are mishapen, worse yet – his face is … it’s a monster in front of her. It would be a mercy to cave his head in but she can’t.

“How did you find me?” he says, stoking the fire with a branch, watching it smolder. Eventually he digs out a bone pipe and lights it. Dreamfoil and Felweed creates a greyish smoke around him, tinged with yellow that smells like rotten eggs.
“I went to the Aldor,” she says.
“Ah!” He smacks his lips. “The fucking aldor. Well, then.”
“I shouldn’t have come … ”

“No! You shouldn’t!” He turns at her, growling. Thick saliva drips from the corner of his mouth, his eyes are ablaze with drugs and primal rage. For a second or two it looks like he’s about to attack her, but then he shrugs. He sighs deeply and says with a far away tone, as if he’s dreaming: “I tried, I did try you know … I got you out of the lower levels, didn’t I? All of you, all of you brats … you know I worked my ass off to support you. That seed factory I married kept popping you out like fucking candy. Never a son, always … Always … I tried hard, you know. Sure I did. Couldn’t run fast enough tho’, the mist, the red mist …” He glares at her. “I swore I would purge Draenor of the orcs … but there’s no end to them. Once I’m done with them I’ll come after you. All of you. You … Destroyed me!”
“Please, father … Come with me? The Prophet, he ca–”
“VELEN CAN’T FIX WHAT’S BROKEN AND YOU KNOW IT GIRL!!!” He takes a deep breath for control. “You know it, deep down inside. We’re gonna break, all of us. You … Vassie … Ish. The Legion won, you see? They found a way to defeat us without having to kill us. They took away … our Light.”
“You can still remember it, can’t you? The light? You can remember the l–”
“THE LIGHT ABANDONED IT’S CHAMPION!!! Now leave this place! And Never Return! If you do, I’ll kill you all! I’ll Kill you! KILL YOU!!!”
He lunges at her, she grabs the mace with one hand and swings.

 

 

“Did you find your father, child?” the High Priestess Ishanah of the Aldor asks some time later.
“No … ” Shuanna averts her eyes. Everyone knows she’s lying, of course they do, but everyone also knows that she fixed a Major Problem. Fallen vindicator Haarkan was a friend of no one, a crazy old man in a forgotten cave in northern Terokkar. He killed indiscrimenately. Orcs, draenei, beasts, ogres … adventurers.
“Light be with you, vindicator Shuanna of the Exodar.”
“Pray for me, will you? I don’t know if it will help but … ”
“We will.”

Shuanna turns and is about to leave the temple when High Priestess Ishanah says: “Have you found your sister yet, vindicator?”

Shuanna stops, she turns halfway around. She tries not to smile but she does, and it’s not a very good smile.

“Which one?”
“Ishannah.” High Priestess Ishanah smiles. “I like that name.” She chuckles. “I’m honored to bear the name of your sister.”
“Two N, high priestess,” Shuanna turns around and nods. “A small but important detail.”

High Priestess Ishanah laughs. It’s crystal clear and loud. Several anchorites look up from their books and work, some of them frown. The Aldor are divided, because the strangers from the other side of the portal are still considered to be … peculiar. It’s been years since they first came but it’s not something someone gets used to. There’s been so many strangers …

“A wise man, covered in fur, once said to me: “Details, details!” Ishanah smiles. “We are still getting used to seeing these … oh Light, what are they called …”
“Pandaren?”
“Ah, yes! Yes! pandaren!” She chuckles. “I think we could learn a great deal about faith from these strange … creatures.”
“Yeah, well … Ish is still … I’m still looking for her, got a couple of leads. I’m working closely with a … a temporal operative.”
“Caliss? The night elf?”
“You know of her?”
“All of Shattrath knows of her. I spoke with her a long time ago. She is your sister too, no?”
“Adopted. It’s complicated.”
“Life is complicated … ”
“Eh.” Shuanna chuckles. Then she takes a deep breath. “I never figured out the timeline stuff. I mean, Kadghar tried to explain but … well you know. Cannie’s the only one who understand stuff like that. If I can’t hit it, I’m lost. This is now, I know that. When Caliss was here, I … I guess it was before?”
“Then, now, eh. The Aldor will always be here.”
“Just don’t stay too long.” Shuanna tries not to smile, but she does. It looks and feels out of place. “This world is fucked and if you don’t know it yet so are you.”

She leaves.

Beasts of the Legion

(Be advised. This is NSFW.)

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Prisoner of War interrogation number 165: Subject – Priszly (imp). Interrogating officer: Sharenne Gawry (warlock). Report signed. Co-signed: Lantresor (of the Blade).

Personal note: Suggest re-education discipline. Priszly is still a very young imp and thus extremely impressional … once I find his ‘pressure points’.

“‘All life must be exterminated … ‘ You know, I kinda liked that, ait? So’s was me and a helluva lot of other guys and bitches ‘roun’ there, ait. Kazzak was still on the mend ’cause some ‘turers had roughed him up a bit, but he never ever lost sight of things, ait. That’s a boss, it is. Keep fucking focused, ait. Da used to tell me that when we were just jokin’ ’round, you know, throwin’ fel between us. So’s all the big guys, the Real Terror we call’em, start and march out. Infernals shooting up towards the sky like fucking fireworks, you fucking who– aaaiii!.”

(Interrogators note: At this time, a series of educational techniques was implemented in order to keep things civil. Kip eventually settled down but remained standing for the duration of the interview. Asked if Kip wanted to file an official complaint, Kip stated “fuck you!”. further enhanced interrogation techniques were thus implemented.)

“My ass hurts … “What? Oh, oh, yeah. Uhm … Please no! No! So, yeah, ait. I’ll talk, dammit! Fu-uuck! Anyway. Doomguards thundering down the road, all that. Seriously, them abs, ait. Know what I’m sayin’? We just milled aroun’ ait. We’re not that important, honestly, ’cause no one really think we can do much but corrupt and stuff. Like politicians.

“Boring!

“I had this weird idea then, ait. So I’s took a leap ait. Landed square on the shoulderplate of an abyssal, ait. He be Melter, we call’im Melter ’cause he melt things. Whoa! We went so far out, you never believe it! Fucking all of Tanaan was like thousands of feet below us and then we broke through the clouds and all I saw was green smoke and sparks.

“Then I kinda tagged along with Melter. Anyway, I wun’t suppose to latch onto him okay but I sorta did and you know, Melter din’t feel a thing, ait. Well then he was starting you know fall. Then all those clouds sorta broke up ’cause he was really hot, ait … so this whole, uhm, this whole kinda really big place jus’ sorta shew up un’rus ait. So’s Melter, who found me holdin’ on, ait. He be like Bruh, no huggin’ kay ’cause that’s gay.” Then he kinda “yeah whatever gonna fuck you up anyway” and then he was like yelling, like he seriously loosing his shit, ait.

“‘GET OFF MY BACK, IMP, YOU’LL KILL US ALL!!!’

“Kinda somethin’ ’bout arrydun… arei … kinda somethin’ like he cun’t fly if there was more weight or somethin’. I mean, I don’t weigh that much, ait. We kinda crashed anyway. Coulda been ’cause I was getting a bit scared ait. So’s I kinda clawed at him and kinda ripped out his eyeball. Honest mistake. Seriously.

“Boom! Right in the water off the coast. It’s tuchni… technical.. ly … Shadowmoon. Blue Land. Melter din’t made it out, ’cause we kinda fell from like really, really high up ‘kay? I made it though. Imps can swim, ait. Melter kinda took the worst hit. Boom! Motherfucker totally knocked out, was fucking hilarious! Big crater under water, really big. Got a lot of blue and homans come out in them floaty things too. So’s what an imp’s gonna do in Hostile Territory, huh? Tell ya what an imp does, ait. Once I swimmin’ to land, I did what we do best. Imp’s giving up.

“So ait. I’m in no hurry to die or anythin’ so’s if ya could direct me to … I’M NOT SIGNING NUTHIN’ WITHOUT – say what? Oh. Oh!

‘I sign or I die’. Well why din’t ya say so, Mistress!”

****

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Prisoner of War interrogation number 186: Subject – Darlia (succubus). Interrogating officer: Sharenne Gawry (warlock). Report signed. Co-signed: Blook (“the Mountain”, marked with ‘X’).

Personal note: Suggest re-education discipline. Darlia, despite her attempts at acting out, is a very impressional young succubus, haunted by her elder sister. Repeated eductational therapy with suggested therapists, see recommendation below, will undoubtedly turn her docile and easily handled.

I suggest a six week therapy on an eight hour shift using Iron Horde prisoners of war from the Blackrock Foundry. Some of those orcs haven’t seen a female in years. We have an ample supply of enchanted manacles so ‘Darling’ won’t break until she’s been re-educated.

(Commanders note: Please dispose of IH remains after consultation with Phylarch (the Botanist). This report will be classified as ‘Top Secret Class Alpha’. Sha – No more of this, ok?)

“Oh, honey, I could give you an orgasm so hard you would literally loose your mind – and all of that with just a single little poke you know where. Would you like that, darling? I bet your pussy’s so wet right now you’re probably worried that you peed yourself. I can do that too, if you want me to. I once rode an eredar vindicator named Maraad so hard he shit himself. You would not believe what he asked me to to before I did it … ‘Ooh, Darlia, won’t you please give me some of your golden rain’, he said. I can turn your head inside out with lust, warlock … I hear you’re quite the slu–”

(Interrogators note: Due to the subjects excessive screaming the scribe could not discern what was said. Darlia settled down once we gave her some water.)

“I’ll FUCK YOU ALL!!! I’LL FUCK YOU!!! I AM THE SHADOW THAT HAUNTS VASSANNAHS MIND!!! I AM THE FILTH THAT YOU SECRETLY REVEL IN, SHARENNE!!! YOU WANT TO KILL YOUR FATHER AND I CAN HELP YOU!!! JUST GIVE IN … GIVE … IN … I can make you beutiful, my little human … you were rejected by everyone. Never been fucked by a real man. you know what they say about ladies like you, don’t you? You’re munching down on fur-covered oysters ’cause no man wants you. I bet you stink. I bet your sluts you fuck like that st—”

(Interrogators note: Due to the subjects excessive screaming the scribe had to be replaced.)

“You think you can break me with this pathetic antics of yours? Really, slut? You’re weak. WEAK!!! And ugly. You’re ugly, Sharenne! Ugly and fat! No one but your dad wanted to fuck you! And you! YOU, NERD!!! SCRIBE!!! When will you stop jerking off thinking about Lantresor and come out with it! Small people, all of you. I WILL FUCK YOU ALL!!! YOU WILL KNOW PAIN WHEN I RAM MY FIST UP YOUR P–”

(Interrogators note: Due to the subjects excessive screaming the scribe had to be replaced. Blook, ‘the Mountain’, appears to be impervious to any form of seduction.)

“Oh, isn’t that sweet? You brought a fat guy.”

(Interrogators note: Blook asked here, “Can I hit her?”. I said yes. Blook did. It was quite some time before Darlia was lucid again.)

“Fat guy hits hard … But I have to succumb, just an itsy bitsy tiny little bit. Thank you for the water, warlock. Now … Keep that monster away from me, ok? I can smell his balls, I know he wants me, but he’s so fucking retarded he don’t know what to do with his thrity inch dick. But you know, Sha … You know all about pussies, don’t you?”

(Interrogators note: I asked Blook to hit Darlia again. He did.)

“Thirsty work, it is, fucking sluts like you when you’re not even aware I do it. Aaww, don’t look so shocked. I know your dreams, warlock. I know them all … how you want to do your ‘sisters’ – and Illy, defender fucking slut Illona, the fucking draenei queen bitch holier than fucking everyone including fucking Yrel. I’d like to fuck her too, by the way. I could fuck all of you at the same time, hogtied, roasting you over fire. I’d like that. I like bitches that scream and plead for mercy.

“You. Will. Have. No. Mercy. I will rap–”

(Interrogators note: I asked Blook to hit Darlia again. He did.)

“Illona, oh that’s a good one. you know, she’ll never agree to being hogtied of course, but a human can dream, yes? I know you want her … on her knees, gagballs … You want to whip them, don’t you? Sure you do … Just give in to me, warlock … Give in, and I’ll show you the paradise that you’re looking for … I can give you your father. I can have his soul interred in a machinery of pain in the Black Temple, where nothing but the shrieks of pain echo through eternity. I can give you Vassie, anyone. All of them will be your slaves of passion! Everyone! I can show you the concubines … illidan didn’t care about them so they had to be … educated. By my sister. She taught me all there is to know about pleasure … And … pain. PAIN!!! PA–”

(Interrogators note: I asked Blook to hit Darlia again. He did.)

“Oh, how I reveled in watching them squirm as she loved and punished them all. Sluts, all of them, just like y–”

(Interrogators note: Interview aborted. Recommenced after a brief pause.)

“Let me fuck you, Sharenne … Let me eat you … You know you want it … Just take that little step, my little warlock whore … a single step. Look at your scribe? He want’s me already. I’ll ride him tonight. He’ll die happy. I’ll fuck his soul forever … and ever … and ever … and — Blaargh!”

(Interrogators note: Darlia expunged copious amounts of black filth at this point, once it became clear to her that ogron does not have a soul (as such). Interview aborted until further notice. Suggested method of further development: Exorscism, class III (the rarely seen method) and previously suggested therapy.)

– – – – –
Priszly (imp) was later recruited into the Alliance.
Darlia the Docile (succubus) was later recruited into the Alliance.
Both are currently serving Sharenne Gawry, whom they call ‘Mistress’.

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.”)

In Shadows: Fever

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There’s a voice in her head. Actually, there’s two voices. She knows the names of both voices yet they’re displaced. A third voice, never louder than a whisper, keeps to the background.

They are talking about her injuries. She hears her sisters voice, the one who drove Akama off down there in Zangarmarsh, with a sword to his lower back and the growled “Try and turn around, Broken and I’ll run you through. Touch her again and you will Die!“.

Vassannah stirs, ever so slightly. She’s running a fever. Her brain is ablaze with memories and pain. Someone, she suspects it’s Fiona, has given her a tea. It put her to sleep, yet she stirs. Moaning. Mumbling. Squeaking, like the stuffed elekk she made herself one night, lost in memories as she returned to a world that once shattered.

She suspects the timelines are messing with her mind. What once were and what now is – all of it becomes as one in this strange new world. This world that Shuanna, her sister, calls home. Vassannah remembers a picknick, on the foothills of Lunarfall. From far behind them the sound of hammers against wood and stone, the voices of men and dwarves. In front of them the vistas of Shadowmoon. That’s when Shuanna said “We’re home, you know. Someone moved the sofa, but for all intent and purposes this Draenor is our home. The one we left.”

Vassannah smiled. As she smiles right now, tossing and turning in a bed, her belly full of Fionas calming tea. She said:
“This isn’t home, Shu. Home is nevermore.”

Shuanna is easily angered. They quarreled, the picknick was a failure. Vassannah plucked a sliver of pickled Nagrand cherry and then headed off, down towards Embari. There’s no shortage of eager men and women down there, curious about the taste, the smell, the feel of someone from “away”.

Embari is a small town. Being from “away” sets minds ablaze. Mostly with lust. Sometimes with hate.

She also hears another voice. In this room … as Fionas tea makes her spinning thoughts slow down, as the darkness of sleep slowly wash over her.

It’s the voice of the slave they rescued in Tanaan.

The slave, elevated to the status of Exarch. The slave, the same name as someone in Karabor before the orcs came … on the old world. The slave, who then was a chubby little stumbling fucktard everyone made fun of. The slave, who was the constant source of jest and laughter once the populars, and Vassannah was one of them, Found her. Poor stupid Yrel from Embari, a farmers daughter who knew nothing of the Light. Oh how they toyed with her! Poking and prodding and hiding her notes. Giggling and whispering and pulling her hair. Kid stuff.

It’s confusing. As if two worlds have collided. Different times. A faint echo of one time, pounding like a heartbeat inside her head. Another time, as a veil of memories she had hoped to forget, shrouded across time … through time … like fine lines of sand through a glass brightly lit of the past. The present. The other time. What happened to the stones she collected for the dragon prince?

He gave her wings.

The other time. The one that Vassannah, the one she once were, on another world. The one Vassannah that once locked a not particularly good aspirant named Yrel in a pantry because it was fun. When Vassannah was a popular girl. When she dreamt of Akama. When he was a fever not even her fingers could put out. The more she rubbed, the louder she screamed. Until fatigue made her fall asleep, naked, sticky, sweaty. Doodles of her and him in notebook after notebook. Sex is the ancient magic of all – but she’s not a mage.

She’s just cruel. As she once were. The pantry – a haunting shadow in her mind. Cruelty, perhaps something every draenei carries with her, deep within.

She remembers now, as Fionas tea slowly takes hold of her troubled, broken body. She remembers Yrels screams, ringing in her ears as the panic broke free in that locked, dark pantry. The shrieking words of “Let me ooouuut! Let me ooouuut!“.

Cruelty.

Times change. Isn’t that what they say? Timeways colliding. She was shopping spices for a lovers meal one day, down in Embari. Just a few weeks after the wooden pallisade had finally been replaced with the garrisons stone walls as they are now. She passed by a giggling bunch of acolytes, out from school. Fingers stroking fine hexweave velvet, sumptous fur dresses. Someone in the giggling group calling out “Hey Vass wait! What do you think of this dress!?“.

Vassannah stopped and almost said “the color don’t suit you“. But the faces of those girls in front of her were not the faces of the living.

This were the faces of the dead.

She turned hur head then, there in Embari. She saw a young woman dash away towards a jewelry stand, yelling “Who cares!? Oh Liight! They got Blackstone necklaces!“. She watched her younger self run up to the jeweler and start to haggle. The jeweler was adamant and she couldn’t … but she could. So she went up to him, placed a pouch of Azeroth gold in his outstretched hand and said “It’s on me. Gold is gold, right?“.

“Thank you!” she said. “Oh I love this stone!”
“I know you do,” she said, then had to turn away to hide her own tears.

Another time. She stands in shadow, naked, she had to flee fast and didn’t have time to dress. She had been dreaming of Akama, her fingers trailing across her body, making her gasp as the fingertips tickled the hairs and then sank in deep. Two fingers, no more than that, slightly spread, the thumb of her other hand gently massaging what she called her button. Then, the explosions. Then, the screams. Then, she had to flee – hide in shadow.

She saw her friends paraded out of the dorm. she saw them lined up on the stairs in front of the temple. Dead bodies everywhere. The pools of blood spreading like water across the once white flagstones. She saw them stripped naked. She saw the orcs cut their hair with knives. She saw their bloodied scalps, saw do whatever they had to do just to survive. For just a few more minutes.

Then they bowed. Then the axes came. Then, just as an orc saw her in the shadows, one of her friends called “Run, fool! Run!”. So she did – she ran, faster than she had ever run before. She ran from Karabor to Talador, pausing only for breath at what people now call Gul’Var. That’s where Maraad found her. He sister was with him, she was so young … so young.

Times change.

Voices.

“The healers feared she was too badly injured,” Yrel said. Her voice low, like how you speak to someone in front of a very sick, sleeping person. Oblivious of the fact that the patient might actually hear, voicing own concerns and fears. “Her spine, they said it snapped like a twig. When she landed, she … ”

“You have good healers,” her sisters voice, Shuannas voice. Tired, the constant haggard tone no matter how she felt – happy, angry, tired, full of food and complacent, horny (there was a “thing” between her and Cowan, a miner). Always that haggard tone of someone who had lost … something. “In the light, we prevail. No?”

“Shu … ” Vassannahs whisper, but she’s too tired to continue. She want to tell her sister she’s sorry, but she’s too tired. Then there’s the other voice. The taunting voice.

(“That one is unworthy of your group!”)

Then there’s a fourth voice. Interrupting. Through the haze of Fionas tea and the lingering effects of deep healing, she hears a slight commotion. It’s confusing.

A door breaks open. Someone, a male voice, shouts “You can’t go in there!”. Another sound – a … squawk!? Then the sound of chairs moving, as if someone stands up fast. In fact, when she hears Shuanna call out “Percy!” she can hear the anger, the suprise.

Then there’s silence. Almost silence. Whispers … too silent to be heard through her foggy ears. She rather feels than hear or see the rustle of cloth against feathers. The quick smack of a beak, as if a bird had made a “tut tut!” sound. The gentle, yet rough, caress of … talons. Wrinkled skin on old fingertips. Long nails. Like when Akama came to her, before the Exodar took off. But it’s not a Broken. It’s just … a broken.

“Reshad! What are you doing!?” Shuannas voice, upset and with that terrifying haggard tone, more sharp now. Vassannah knows that whenever that tone is in her sisters voice she’ll slap her. There has been so many slaps, so many admonished comments, like “This is a Military Compound, Vass! This is not a playground for you to fuck around in! Show some respect to the colors!”.

She’s a tough motherfucker, the commander. Too tough.

“I can help.” the voice says. The rustle of feathers. “Percy! Stop perching on her head! Your not a pepe bird!”

A drilling chirp, someone have brought a kaliri!

“Get out!” Shuannas voice.

“No … ” Then there is a pause. then those rough fingertips with birdlike nails gently stroke Vassannahs temples. She can feel it, she stirs, as if uncomfortable – but she feels at ease. It’s a soothing, gentle, kind touch. The kind of touching someone makes when they’re almost in love.

“Shu … ” she whispers. “help. The shadow …”

Reshads touch is light as a feather as he leans forth and very gently whispers in her ear:

“Shadows gather … “

In shadows: Fragments

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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!”

“You sure?”

“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.

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****

“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?”

“No.”

****

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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!”

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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.

NEVER AGAIN.

The shadow looming behind her … before a brilliant light fills the world and she hears herself shriek. An out of place rallying cry.

“FOR KARABOR!!!”.

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.

Until now.

In shadows – how it began

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Sometimes when I’m frantically trying to meet deadlines, my brain decides to … go wild (I don’t handle stress that well these days, not since a complete burn-out some ten years ago). So, instead of sleeping I’ve been preocupied these last couple of sleepless nights with an incessant whisper in my mind. A muse found me. She also found me in a not particular good mood, since I really don’t have time for head canon stories about my characters. But there you have it. I did tell my muse a rather strong “Do you fucking mind!?” – but she didn’t. I think my muse is sort of one of those cute anime girls who would … never mind.

I’m going off on a long adventure here. The basis is my shadow priest, Vassannah. As most characters these days she’s woefully forgotten and spends most of her time managing total noobs with an iLvl way above her own. Followers, that is. Imagine that, huh? The heroes of Azeroth are nothing more than project managers these days.

Still, I have to give her something, so I gave her Illona. I don’t know how many parts there will be. Probably a few. But the idea is simply too good not to put down on “paper”.

Her backstory came back with a vengeance one day, when Akama sent her a letter. I imagine she opened it with trembling hands and a breath stuck in her throat because now her “teen” love would … but, alas, he thanked her for killing some orcs. Bastard.

No. This is not a shipping story. There is, however, sex and curse words involved. Be warned if you don’t like that kind of thing.

Big Sis, Shuanna, has her demons – from Icecrown. Adopted Sis, Sharenne, has her demons – from Darkshire. Vassannah has her demons – from Pandaria.

This is what happens when a shadow priest can’t escape the grasp of the Sha and becomes lost …

In shadows.

In shadows: Prologue

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“I couldn’t possibly acccept this,” Vassannah raised her eyes from the small velvet box containing a precious stone in a thin gold chain. “Illona, I … I couldn’t. Really.” She smiled, closed the box and put it down on the long oak table in the middle of the meeting hall. They were alone in there, for now. “I am … well, flattered, I guess …”

Illona let her bodyweight wander from one hoof to the other. It looked as if she was about to move, but she just stood there, trying to find something to say or do. She raised her hand halfway but stopped, then she furled her brow.

“Am I … ” She exhaled and uttered a short laugh at the same time, looking nervous and slightly embarassed. “I’m missing something?” She finally moved, turned around quickly and moved up to the chair at the end of the table. She paused, trailing her hand over the back of the chair before she sat down with an exasperated sigh. She shot a sharp glance at Vassannah with one arm resting on the table, the other hanging limp in her lap. “I thought … the other morning, you and me. Making love?”

“It was just sex, Illona.”

Illona twitched, ever so slightly, quickly blinking. She leaned back against the back of the chair, raising her eyebrows while saying: “I … I don’t understand. We … I … I walked back an forth outside for almost an hour and … ” She trailed off.

Vassannah managed to hid her somewhat irritated sigh behind a faint smile as she grabbed the jewelry box from the Karabor bazaaar and walked up to Illona. It wasn’t the first time someone she slept with had mistaken sex for love.

“Please,” Vassannah said. “I really can not accept this gift. It would … well, you know.” She placed the box in front of Illona.
“I don’t know,” Illona said, a testy tone in her voice. She raised her eyes at Vassannah. “What would it?”
“It would make me feel like a whore,” Vassannah said. “Mind you, there’s some people in this damned garrison who wouldn’t think twice about calling me that – and worse.”

Vassannah turned around and headed for the door. She didn’t get very far. The box slammed into the door post, making her flinch with a short, sharp cry. She spun around with a shocked gasp and a misplaced short laugh. The jewel hit the floor with a tiny ‘plink!’, the gold chain coiled around the precious, black stone. It sparkled in the dull light from the fireplace. Just a few minutes ago Vassannah had almost managed to flip Illona across the table, their mouths locked, arms trembling, huffing hot air through their noses. That was then, of course. Illona had evaded the hug, fumbled out the box and handed it to Vassannah with an embarassed, stuttering whisper. Truth be told Vassannah couldn’t remember what had been said.

“You … ” Illona stood up, very slowly. Her hand gripped the side of the table for a moment, as if she wanted to support herself. Then she let go of the table, her hand bunched up into a fist. “You ..! You! Slut!”

“That’s one of the things people call me,” Vassannah said. It was supposed to sound cold, but instead she twitched her head back, flinging her white hair in an almost proud gesture. Then she laughed a few strokes ending with a sighing “Eh …
“Just sex!?” Illona said. Well – shouted. “Just! Sex!?”

“Girl, c’mon!” Vassannah stiffled a laugh. “Illona, seriously? You’ve never fucked someone just for the hell o–”
“You!” Illona slammed her fist into the table so hard she broke away splinter from the side of the table. She was wearing her armor. She always wore her armor – even if she was on leave. A few days earlier, while Vassannah slithered down her naked body, she had said it made her feel secure. “Just like you,” she had whispered, gently pushing Vassannahs head further down and closing her eyes with a faint gasp. Now the shrapnel of wood skittered across the stone floor and came to a halt right in front of Vassannah feet, next to the broken box.

“You come here, to my world! From wherever or whatever darkness I don’t know and I! Don’t! Fucking! CARE!!!”

She grabbed the backof the chair just as she took a big stride towards Vassannah, stopping only to fling the chair topsy turvy with a short and stiffled angry scream.

“You’re playing a dangerous game now … ” There was a very dangerous tone in Illonas voice. Vassannah picked up on it immediately. It wasn’t the first time she had heard someone utter words of anger in that particular tone. A slap would follow, it always did. But not this time. Instead, there was a single word, uttered through clenched teeth, trembling with scorn, with rage – with hate. “man’ari!”

A slap wouldn’t have hurt as much as that single word. They both knew it the second the word was spoken.

Then it was too late to take it back.

Garrison Life (Diary of an orgon, part thumb)

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“Deer dairy. Tedday I et meet. It is god.” Blooks brow furled. Then he used the fingernail of his thumb to erase the last word from the piece of wood he was using as ‘paper’. He gripped the piece of charcoal very carefully and, with the tip of his tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth, wrote: “Gud!”

“Dat aight, beater?” he said, glancing sideways at Ravennah. “Blook don’t no’ much ’bout writin’, boss.”
“Kinda looks aight to me, big fella,” Ravennah said. Truth be told she wasn’t sure how to spell ‘meat’. But Blook had been sweating over his diary for the last four hours and she didn’t want to make him sad. Besides, there’s two things people can’t stand: One is an ogron sweating. The other is an ogron in love.

That’s why there was a very angry podling in a cage not far away. Someone in the garrison must have mentioned that ‘ladies like flowers’- Ravennah suspected it was Tommok. The ogron and the ogre had a thing going, so to speak. When they didn’t spar with each other, naked, they drank. try as he might, Tommok could never drink as Blook, only Delvar managed that (and Delvar was dead … ish).

“Blook no good at dis,” Blook sighed deeply. “I wanna hit dis stopid wood!”
“Ain’t too bad, big boy,” Ravennah said and managed to stiffle a chuckle. Then she perched up and said, all of a sudden reminded of what Carlin Redpath had once told her: “U’no Blook, dere’s a trick to spellin’. See, trick’ss: Don’ write lak ya taak, aight. See?” She cleared her throat and,careful with every word, she said: Always use more letters than needed. N’ … And … Da … That, I mean. That is it.”
“Moar words?”
“Uhhuh.”
“Dat stupid!”
“Yahuh.”
“Less go beat someone!” He grinned. “Betcha can beat Blook yeh!? Wanna dance, missus!?”
“I wish I could … ” Ravennah sighed, then she very gently stroked Blooks chin and pretended not to see the beads of sweat dripping from his armpits. “But I’m suppa to go on pod patrol, mate.”
“Yeh yeh, gotta do wadagotta do eh?” He nodded. “Fugeddaboutit!”

He watched Ravennah smile, stand up and saunter off. After a little while he placed both his hand tight between his legs, nervous that something might show. Truth be told he hardly knew what that thing was. He used it for some things, usually when he had to go and sometimes when something had to go, but …

Things stirred inside him. He wasn’t sure what. An ogrons life is very simple: Grow up (if your siblings don’t eat you or the botani don’t catch you). Then beat things. Then die. That was all it was, really. Back to the dust when time came. When he sometimes thought about it he summed it up with: Blook needs a beatin’ (because that’s what other ogron always said when they saw him).

No one but weak meat had come to the Overlook for years. He’d been standing (or sitting, or laying down) up there or ages. Dreamy eye staring at Talador, wanting to go there but, you know, courage, right? Besides. Talador was Blue Country. No one ever came back from there!

Strange blues had come. Like the one who beat him up and then said “ey mate, ‘f ya wanna we can use some mussle aight?”. Then she had … smiled at him. It was the first time someone had ever smiled at him. Then she pulled out a piece of elongated cloth and after a while managed to convince him that the cloth would actually help him on the mend. She had cut a ReallyBad Gash in his leg – which is why she bandaged it. Sayng she was sorry “but ya did try to kill me ya big lunk!”.

Dat smile. He sighed. No one could ever know it, not ever! Ogron don’t love. But he did. At least he thought he did … The Commander, the pale blueskin everyone called Crusader Shuanna (“Yes ma’aam! Right away ma’aam!”), told him so. She said, she did, “You’re a monster. But you’re a useful monster. That’s why I let you live. Don’t get cheeky, rock. Or I’ll break you.”

He knew she would. Everyone would. Because he … well … he was The Runt. His own mother had tried to eat him!

“Blook weak,” he said, feeling morose. He always felt like that when he lost sight of Ravennah. His right testicle was still swollen but he didn’t mind. Anyone who kicks an ogron on the nuts deserves to be loved. That’s the ogron way.

“Oi, Pebblehead!” The shout echoed across the garrison. Dwarves and humans looked up, then went back to what they were doing. They had grown used to Tommok yelling. He either spoke in slurs or not at all. It was an ogre thing (he could be polite but rarely saw the point of being polite, especially around Phylarch). “Drop your dick mate! The queen blue bitch wants orcs killed!”

“Blook don’ feel gud,” Blook said, embarassed that he lied to a friend. He was feeling just fine. He would sleep well later on, thinking about how Ravennahs behind moved to her steps as she walked down the stretch of the garrison Main Street. “Gunna stand ye up, mate. Don’ wanna ogron shitting on you.”
“Yeah, well,” Tommok spit. “Go fuck yourself then.”
“Ya sholda try be nice once inna while Tom.”
“Nice ain’t killed no one.”
“Mebbe dats da problim.” Blook sighed.
“You stop liss’ning to them blues, Pebblehead. They’re fucking you up.”
“Mebbe Blook don’ wanna fight!?”
“You’re an ogron. Fuck yeah you wanna fight.”
“No.” Blook sighed. “Well yeah … but not now.”
“Then fuck off.”

Blook shrugged. He slumped back against the treetrunk behind him and gradually spread his legs. Then he thought better of it all. The first few days in this strange new place he had ended up in had been … educational. First of all: You’re not supposed to Do What You Fell Like Doing Right Now While Thinking of Ravennah the Night Elf Draenei (“it’s complicated”). People tend to … well.

When he showed up at the garrison gates – and getting there was quite an adventure – they shot at him! He wasn’t badly hurt, the guardsmens crossbow bolts bounced of him. Then there was a tense moment as he kneeled in front of the gates keeping his eye on the Giant Gun. The small ones were called dwarves (Bruma told him that later, once she had stopped kicking his nuts). The tiny one’s were gnomes (Blook feared them because they were so small but yet so deadly). Then … She came.

Blook Beater. The one everyone said was … weird. Well, Blook knew weird. He was an ogron in a garrison, after all. When no one wanted to give him water, she gave him water. When no one dared to feed him, she led him out of the garrison up to an ancient and very tast elekk. He even gave her a piece of meat (she wasted it on a fire, though the sauce she used was not too bad – it tasted like savage blood).

“Tom?” Blook said, because Tommok lingered, even though there were orcs to kill. “Ogre gladdy?”
“What!?”
“I dunno … I gave’er a flower butta podlings angry. What you think..?”
“Get her drunk and fuck her. Works on ogres.” Tommok did sound a little bit insecure. “I mean … Oh fugeddabouit!”
“Mebbe I shul’ ask goblin Kim?”
“Green, blue … Do I look like a fucking priest, Blook!?”
“Mabbe I shou’fin’ ‘er a tree. Rave likes trees. She cuts them down.”

Blook pondered. Then, as he stood up intent on finding himself a tree, he felt someone staring.

Phylarch was not amused.