The Lament of Farmhand Geist: Light Rider

And I looked, and behold a pale horse:
and her name that sat on it was Death,
and Hell followed with her …

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This is the first entry of my diary from the wall:

“There’s nothing left in life, not for me. I have embraced death. I am dead, I thought I could live but what made me alive was taken away. Let me be a construct of bodyparts, animated by dark magics, long lost and never again a child of light as Isel once told me I was. There. Is. No. Hope.”

It was written several weeks ago. I wrote it as the turrets opened up and went acketi-acketi-acketi-ack-ack-ack, shredding the wailing dead down on the frozen fields. I watched Master stand there on the wall, staring at nothing … and at that moment, I knew I was dead. My Morissa had been taken away from me! My Master was embracing the cold, turning into the death knight she once were. Truth be told she scared me. I remembered our farm in Halfhill … and I wanted to yeank on her hand, I wanted to tell her “Let’s go and grow some harmony, eh?” but instead I covered under the furs … because I am broken. I am a lifing Scourge, cursed. I walk between life and death and I feel the life, but I am … Dead.

I also wrote this:

“I don’t want to die.”

I had barely put the words on paper before a yell caught my attention: “What in the blazing beards!”

We only caught a short glimpse of her. Something moved across the plain, brilliant with the luminescence of Holy Wrath. Then the Light faded and Darkness conquered everything beyond the wall. Grimm Stoneshield, the lookout, swore it was a woman!

“I tell ye lads!” he said. “’twas a bitch ’twas!” (Grimm has a colorful language). “’twas a bluey, ’twas, lads! I tell ye! She be blue she be!”

A few weeks back, early in the morning, she was back. It’s hard to tell if there is ever a morning in Icecrown. It’s beutiful in its own way, you know. I always liked the glaciers.

Then she came.

A speeding bullet of light, streaking across the fields of death, a mace held high, a shield aflame with light and enchants. The cold glacier mists parted for her as she blazed her way across the snowy expanse, and this time we heard a faint sound … an echo … a voice, far, far away. Kel’Thuzads frozen balls, she must have shrieked her battlecry at the top of her lungs because no one but a banshee or a zealot can scream like that. It must have been deafening way down there, up close to her. Up here on the wall, few people had the ears to hear the words … but I was created a spy. I see. I hear: “Pheta vi acahachi!”

Searchlights on the wall traced her as she sped across the silent fields until the mists swallowed her whole. She left a trail of death behind her. Smoldering corpses, burnt by the blaze of Holy Light.

It happened again and again. Like clockwork. The banshee scream from way beyond, then a lookout shouting out. The searchlight catching her, brilliant as she slammed her way through the dazed and confused companies of the Scourge. On that fateful day when I met her, I heard Rakka, the orc rogue who found the Light, yell:

“Behold now! Here she comes!”
“Such a pale horse … “_ Grimm said.
“I wouldn’t like to be Scourge this morn'” I said. They gave me a curious, slightly bewildered look. I turned to them, pulled off my leather mask with its single eye and looked them dead in the eyes with the eyes I once were given by the Creator. I have yellow eyes, with glowing red pupils. My eyes are not pretty, at least not for the living. I scared them. I said:

“Hell follows with her … “

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.)

The Lament of Farmhand Geist: Let It Go

God knows ‘twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear…

But I’ve a rendezvous with Death

– Alan Seeger (1888-1916)

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I’ve been having these headaches lately. It started shortly after we pushed back Gul’Dans Horde in Tanaan. Other brave soldiers and heroes went into the Citadel and eventually slayed all of the enemies …

I was left outside.

It was the headaches, you see. Master was very worried about me. In fact, she was so worried that she even put in the paperwork for a prolonged term of R&R. As the brave Alliance and Horde heroes alike stormed Hellfire Citadel, Master was back at the garrison with me. She held me down when I screamed. She gave me Fionas peculiar tea when I shook. She sang to me, an ancient eredar lullaby, as I whimpered and cried.

It’s hard to explain to the living, the maladies of the Scourge (redeemed as I am). Not long ago a wave of barfing and lose stomach went through the garrison. Several people, most of them young, died from it. Healers tracked it down to bad water, eventually, but before that happened … well. Let’s just say that the grain merchant from Embarii went back with a black eye and a few extra bruises. People were afraid, you see … so many of the living remembers the Plague. When the living are afraid they become violent.

I didn’t have the human malady of running stomach. My disease was far worse. Few things can kill the Scourge. The Forsaken Wrathgate Plague came close. That was not my thing. My sickness was even more dreadful. A disease all of the Scourge fear … My disease was Panic.

Ah yes, we call it that. Panic. There’s no cure for it. Back in the day, anyone caught with Panic was instantly killed, the remains burned. A panic-diseased Scourge can not be repurposed. Experiments showed it (My Creator did a thesis on it; “On the Topic of Panic, A Naxxramas Experimental Laboratory Study No. 2232”; the Argent Crusade currently keeps the monograph in their archives). I’m not sure of all the stuff, but I do know it comes down to muscle memory. Morphic memory, as it’s also called, is simply too strong. Sometimes, the construct will keep on trembling, shaking, lashing out, fighting back. It’s as if the muscles refuse to die, even though the spirit has died. That’s why the Scourge not only want to break your body – but first break your mind. With fear, with terror, with pain …

With Panic.

Sometimes it works, too. Sometimes it doesn’t. A construct that never gave up will start to shake. Eventually ut will simply fall apart. Sometimes it happens at the moment of resurrection. Sometimes it happens over time. Flesh Giants are particularly prone to Panic, or as it’s also called, the Shakes (among other things).

There is no cure.

Scourge folklore have a lot of cures, of course. None of them actually work. You can’t cure death, can you? The Shakes will kill you, eventually. Oh, we all do our best to ease the pain, right? It’s a nice gesture, no? I love my friends … all of them fear what I turned out to have. Even Master. I heard her cry at night, staring at her trembling hands. I heard her whisper “Menea … I miss you!”.

Master is dying. Then again – all of us are. Some just don’t know it yet or refuse to believe it.

My friends brought me all kinds of things. As I lay there, shivering and shaking, moaning and groaning, there was a parade of friends and gifts, living and dead. Gerry the Ghoul gave me maggots marinated in Lich Bloom. Isel brought me her elekk plushie. Boney gave me a tea, boiled on scrapings of his own bones. Ariok gave me rum. Huge (the Champion!) snuck down to the latrines, brought back his helmet full of piss, drowned a rat in it, spat in it and then boiled it down until there was nothing left but salt. Then he rubbed it on my head, hoping that it would ease my pain. It didn’t. I smelled funky, but my head still hurt (he later claimed it didn’t work because he couldn’t convince any of the females to wee in his helmet, but Huge is a bit, you know). Morissa … my girlfriend. Oh, it’s a strange word, that. It’s taken me quite some time to get used to it – almost as long as it took me to get used to Love. Anyway …
Morissa brought me nothing.

Fret not. There’s a reason, of course there’s a reason. You know why!

I think that’s what set my migraine off. I just wish they would have told me straight to the face. It happened on the day of the Battle of Tanaan Inlet, where more than sixhundred Alliance and Horde ships faced off against a fleet of nearly a thousand Iron Horde vessels. It was the biggest naval battle in the war, some say the biggest battle in all of Azeroths and Draenors history combined. Thousands of mariners! Glory!

The “List” was all that remained, a list of “complete casualties and missing in action excluding wounded or deserters”. We all started reading it in silence, but then Gorbin Boltcutter started reading aloud just so the people at the back could get the news then and not later. Gorbin is one of the porters, he would have made an excellent soldier but he took an arrow to the knee when he was young so he walks with a limp. We play Hearthstone together and he always lose, but I think it’s because he feels sorry for me. He likes me, even though, whenever he lose a game, he slams his fists on the table and calls me “ye stinking thieving cunt!” (He’s got a colorful language). He fashioned a pair of braids for me out of yak hair once (he bought the hair from Cousin Twohands, an intrepid traveler lured to Draenor by some ethereal fashion technologist).

Gorbin’s got a big, booming voice (no one can yell “cunt!” the way he does). You know what? When he started reading the list – it was one of the most horrible moments in my unlife. It went like this (I’ll never forget it):

“Ambershine, Sun, a passenger!” There was a low, wailing sound. From somewhere in the crowd. Then a pandaren tailor pushed his way out of the throng, hiding his face behind his hands … and sank to his knees in front of the Commander, yelling “She was nineteen, Commander! Nineteen! This is YOUR fault! YOUR FAULT!!! Sha take you! Sha take you all!”

I heard the Commander mumble “I’m sorry,” as Gorbins voice rang out across the Lunarfall Main Square:
“Blackpaw, Lin, she’s the bloody surgeon, mates! Light curse ’em all!” There was a ‘wooooo!’ from the crowd, though no one actually knew her that well. We’ve got a lot of pandaren in Lunarfall. “Blixby, Dixx, engineer!” There was mumbling, some gnomes yelled ‘No!’ but there was this eerie sense of acceptance among them … Then his voice broke, strong and factual as it were, as if he was reciting a Dun Morogh poem: “Boltc… ” He cleared his throat. “… Cutter, Dorbin. I, I … Oh brother!”

Then Master took a step in front of Gorbin. He was down on his knees already, screaming through his hands. It didn’t occur to me until then that the Living cherish life. I had brothers once, in Naxxramas (actually they were more like ‘collegues’ in death but I’m sure you get my drift). The Creator disassembled them all – and I felt nothing. To feel death – perhaps that is what it means to be alive?

Master screamed out the rest of the names. She wanted everyone to hear. Maybe she was angry. Maybe she wanted to be heard over the crying and wailing. Maybe she wanted to hurt her sister, the very much alive Commander. I don’t know. Things have been weird among the Exodar Sisters ever since Vassie tried to kill herself.

Gorbin had stopped screaming. He was just crying, gnawing his molars, pale as a sheet, right there in front of the callboard. He … shook. Perhaps the Living can get the Shakes as well. He was so proud of his brothers, Alliance heroes, he called them. Orbin, Dorbin and Corbin …

“Boltcutter, Corbin, a sailor!” Master screamed. She turned her blazing eyes at the Commander at the top of the stairs and continued: “Boltcutter, Orbin, second grade petty officer! Brown, Rufus, a sailor! Derek, Dirk, another sailor! Should I go on, Shu!? Or is this enough!? Don’t you know death, sister!? You want more of it to save this fucking world that won’t even let me save myself before I … we … Fuck Velen. Fuck you, Yrel! FUCK YOU ALL!!!”

Then Master started crying. She pushed her way through the crowd, mounted a dead horse and stormed out of the gates with sparks flying from the roadway. It was tense, I tell you. Some of the Karabor Honor Guards really didn’t know what to do (though I saw that some of them gave a short nod; there’s discord, barely tangible, but there’s discord allright).

The Commander didn’t reply. She turned around fast, though I saw her shoulders shake and I heard her sob. Ah, yes … Master can be very cruel to the Living. She can be cruel to the dead as well, though I don’t think she actually meant it.
Illona stepped up and in a low, mournful voice continued to read out the names, because people still had to know the price of glorious victory. That’s when I knew something dark was truly coming, because even I, and all of us undead, grew weary: “Lanthaire … I think that’s how it’s pronounced … The Citadel, fallen. Morag Bloodfury, Champion, fallen, the Citadel. Baron Almonaster, Lord of Second Farthing, Alterac, fallen, the Citadel. Count Ambrosi of Crook, fallen. Morissa, vin… Vindicator, Knight of the Ebon Blade. Fallen. The Citadel.”

Illona turned around, perhaps she was hoping to see the walking dead worried, but all she saw on our death knights faces was – nothing. “So many of you fell …”

“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “We’re already dead.”

I sat hunched down in front of the line of death knights, their blades still smeared with orc blood. The blood always stays on the blade (one day you will understand why). The draenei of Draenor fear them – and so they should! Then all of the knights, some two hundred of them, shouted in unison (and I dare say not only Illona but several other draenei peed themselves):

“LEAVE THIS PLACE AND NEVER RETURN!!!”

Ah, the old salute. It had been years since I had heard it with such force. It had been whispered, and mumbled, yes, but the last time I heard an entire cohort send the fallen off like that was after the Highlands Battle. Truth be told, righ then and there I was proud of the Ebon Blade. It’s our salute to the fallen. It’s complicated.

No really, it is! We all know what we are! We are the Dead! Whenever some hopeful prospect shows up at the Ebon Embassy in Stormwind the answer is always the same: No, we can not accept new knights or squires, because “this is the kingdom of the Scourge, only the dead may enter”. All of the living, usually young boys, go away with slumped backs and despair in their eyes. Sometimes the guards fish their bodies out of the canal. I don’t understand that … Because, you know, all we want to do, all of us Scourge … is to die. We don’t want to return. Our struggle is to die – yet we can’t. Yet we won’t. Yet we don’t want to … because some of us wants to live.

Live.

Because sometimes … death is a mere malady. Perhaps someone will find a cure, some day. We cling to hope like moths cling to the light, because even in darkness, not all who wander is lost.

We want to live!

“I would like an orgasm,” Morissa once told me. We were sitting on a hill not far from Embari. I had finally found the courage to ask her if she wanted to be my friend in undeath. She had accepted. We had pressed our lips against each other … because the habit of the living die hard. We had shed our clothes, and done the motions (if you know what I mean). Then, as we sat there, I carefully replaced her nipple (it had almost fallen off as I chewed it, because some habits die hard). I asked her: “What would you want if we were alive?”

Then she had to explain what an orgasm was. My brain tingled.

That was weeks ago. On the day of the List, well. It wasn’t until later that night, as I scampered across the flagstones towards the shed at the back of the Salvage Yard, it occured to me. Morissa would never confuse me again. Morissa would never make my rotting brain tingle again, creeping in a pleasant way with age old memories of things that was mostly forgotten (the living that I know say that sex is the thing they remember most clearly, when memories of love fade, sex is what remains). Morphic memories … They’re weird. Yet I felt it all. Lips against lips. Her fingers – and for some reason a Tel’Abim Banana (I’m not quite sure if that was a memory or soemthing else, I did wake up with sticky fingers that smelled … ok, let’s not go there, let’s just say I have hands that live their own life when I power down).

I felt the first pang of sorrow then. It was a feeling I had never cared much for before I felt it. So many bodyparts of mine kept sorrow in their fibers but I had never actually listened to it.

Yet I didn’t feel it enough, I think. It was more of a ‘oh well, this sucks’-feeling. I wish I could have felt more, but I didn’t. I just thought: ‘Morry is free now. She left this place, never to …’ 

I sighed then. And mumbled: “Return?” There was no answer but my own thoughts: ‘No. Because that’s … every muscle in my body want what Morry got. Death.’

Then I powered down (fell asleep, as some would call it). I thought that would be the end of it all.

It wasn’t. My head kept tingling. The feeling of spindly fingers inside my head was infuriating. I’ve had a spider in my head once, before I plucked it out through my ear (I’m a geist, we don’t bend to common anatomy!). It was just like that, a tickle, starting at the back of your neck, growing into a dull throb behind your eyes, caught between your brain and your skull … and then my head exploded in pain. It was like that time when a vindicator suprised me in the pantry of Lunarfall Inn (I was just picking cherries out of a pie because I like popping cherries and Maraad didn’t know that I was redeemed at the time and … you know). That hammer of light of his really hurt. It was that kind of migraine. A pain so tremendous it paralyzed me. Then my muscles and joints eased up and started to shake. It’s a terrible thing. Even such a simple task as digging out a piece of dried froth from the corner of your mouth can prove to be a challenge. I had to hold the cup of rum that Ariok offered me with both hands, and he still had to steady me by grabbing hold of my head and neck. Oh, I was a mess, for sure!

The Shakes. The scourge of the Scourge.

From there on, all I could do was whimper and moan – and shake. The living call it a migraine. We call it Panic, the Shakes, Death Rattle, Chittering (because of the sound your teeth make). It’s as if someone threw you in a cage and then closed it tight enought to almost break your ribs (been there). You struggle, and fight, like a fish on dry land, gasping … drowning … trying to break free, to run away. But there is nothing to run away from.

It’s not fear, because fear is something you can conquer if you set your mind to it. It’s Panic, and Panic is Chaos. Panic is Death. Panic sucks the energy out of everything, it’s the Sha, the Old Gods, the Dark. Panic is a hungering mouth that swallows all of your hope, all of your strength, all of your dreams and all of your life (or death – and believe me, most living wants to die when Panic sets in). It leaves you like a whimpering blob of Nothing.

I’ve seen Panic among the Scourge. I’ve seen things you would not believe … Aberations on fire, near Malykriss Hold. I watched Texals frost beams glitter in the dark near Angrathar Gate. All those moments, lost in time … Fragments of distant lands and people shattered against the invisible veil of pain inside my eyes … for days. Master held me and sang to me. Gerry mumbled curses over me. Ravennah brought me a flower and Isel gave me her elekk, and said “When I’m sad, Tim, Floof always keeps me company”. I couldn’t say anything, to any of them, not even Ahm. Why?

Because I was ashamed. I wanted to die but I could not die! Instead I moaned. I managed to don my old gloves on my shaking hands and dug my saronite claws into the scalp of my head. I felt no pain. I tore my skin off, I felt no pain. I nearly ripped my eyes out – I have two, it’s my leather mask that has one, mirrors inside – but my eyes were scared of the dark. Morphic memories. Tina (left eye) and Feye (right eye), both pleaded with me, in that way undead bodyparts scream inside me. They asked me to spare them. So did. Once upon a time it took them weeks to die. They saw it all. The needles. The scalpels. The rapes and batons and handcuffs and … my body is a collection of terrible memories. No wonder I got the shakes.

I screamed and wailed like a banshee all through the everlastning night – and I was afraid. I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again: “I’ll tell you a secret about the Scourge. Listen well: We’re all afraid.”

I wanted to cry. you know what? The biggest regret of the Scourge – it is that we can not cry. I had no tears. I had only the sounds. Gulps of dead air. Trembling hands and legs. The invisible weight of hopelessness, crushing my ribs. PANIC. Despair. So delicious … but only if you enjoy torturing

(Night elves)

mourning geists.

Master cried and singed. Days and nights passed. Gerry and Boney and all the death knights and their ghouls and scourge fiends came and offered me what they thought would cure the Shakes. There was no cure. I shook, I trembled, I screamed and roared. I cried out for people long forgotten – mothers, mostly. Loved ones. I was tied to the bed. They feared I would kill myself (that’s funny, sort of).

One hour after midnight on the fourth day of the Shakes, I gasped a single name:
“Aliss … ”

(“We must flee, Tess! Run! Run, you fool!”
“But I have his helmet, he …”
“He does not care about you!”
“My duty … His helm … “
“Oh Mother of all Light … “
“What?”
“Tessa, run! RUN!!!”
“My liege! You hel–“)

If I told you it’s impossible to scream so loud that you break your voice, you would not believe it. It’s true. You will break.

(“HEEEELP ME!!!”
“Useless cunt, where’s my helme–“)

Then the migraine stopped. The shakes stopped. Then all was still and pleasant. Then all was Death. My mind, finally at rest. I saw fragmented images of the last moments of Thessalias life. They harvested my brain from the squire of a night elf noble who survived the Wrathgate. She did not. He fell down, stumbling on his own tailormade armor, and then decided to play dead. She did not. Maybe that’s how he had lived for ten thousand years – lived as a coward. She had not. It wasn’t his brain, nor any part of him, that was inside me. Instead I got the Wolverine.

Ah, yes.

That’s what they called me, you see. The Wolverine. Sixtyeight ghouls fell before the aberations finally took me down. By then I had neither nails nor teeth – I had, quite literally, fought tooth and nail. In its own twisted way, the Scourge that survived the Wrathgate later honored me as a centerpiece of their ghoulish banquet. My body, first stored in a coffin in Naxxramas, however refused the dark energies of Him, and I was never raised a death knight. I am told – it’s detailed in a writing currently held by the Argent Crusade – that the ghouls were told to save my brain (there was a lot of complaints about it and several dozen ghouls were later repurposed in the following riot).

I am the Wolverine. I am Thessalia.

Me. My friends used to call me Tim and Tim is what I am. I am Tim. Geist Alpha, destined to be a Leader of All Geists, second to none but Him! Redeployed in various army outfits after the fall of Naxxramas and eventually freed by Master Zavannah. I, Geist Alpha, died at the Wrathgate. I Thessalia!

I am the Wolverine. Always fighting to my last breath. Clawing, scratching, biting, screaming. I will not give up! I can not give up!

You can not defeat me!

I am no longer a construct. I am no longer a thing without a mind. The Maker knew he had found a Champion when he harvested my brain.

I am Tess. I am Tim. I am Legion. I am a person now. I have a mind. Because if you lose your mind, you are no longer a person. Which is why it’s imperative to keep your mind, no matter how bad the Chittering gets. Deep down in a hole you look up and there is light, because the Light never abandons its champion. Because you are never lost unless you want to be.

I am Thessalia, the Wolverine. I once loved a bard named Valiss. I once gave her an orgasm. We were going to move back to Dolanaar after The War. Her uncle grew hops there, he had a cottage we would live in. There were orphans we would care for; Damyan, a boy from Stormwind, Thyssie, a girl from Auberdine, Aurissa, a blood elf child found abandoned in a shipwreck not far from Azuremyst. This was my family.

Legion. Many parts. One body. Yet the mind controls it all. The mind is a terrible thing to taste, if you’re a geist. Isn’t that so, Tim?

(Oh yes, it is … I have a real name now.)

Tell me then, Tim … What is the secret of Life?

Let It Go.

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’.

Casualty of War – Wodans Story

WoWScrnShot_112815_062915“Dey be havin’ a dog up dere, boyo, re’mber?” He grabs the head between his hands. “Ye not goin’ sleepin’ on me now, are ye?” He slaps that pale face. There’s just the smile, facial muscles drawn back, showing teeth. Then the barely audible words:
“Not like this … ”

Wodan rolled over in bed, opened his eyes and couldn’t quite remember where he were. For a few seconds the face of a human in a trench at the Iron Front lingered in front of his eyes. Then the nightmare was over. Then the room came back. The stone walls adorned with animal skins. The fireplace, big enough to drive a steamtank through. The desk, the cupboard, the bearskin on the floor. A clutter of stone- and porcelain figurines. Hulma collected them. Some of those figurines came all the way from Lordaeron and would probably sell for three or four chests full of gold. They weren’t rich, not even well off, she had “collected” her figurines the way adventurers do. Yet they never even thought about selling them, even if every week was a struggle. Some things are simply too precious, be it love or tiny little unicorns some long forgotten human artist once crafted before the Scourge came and claimed them all.
Somewhere outside a shrill gnome voice shouted“Bread from tha ovin! C’ome n’ get it fre-eesh!”. Then he saw Hulma, sitting on a chair next to their bed, holding his hand.

“Wh’e’am’I!?” He struggled to sit up, at first he couldn’t but then he did. He sighed deeply. “Muradin’s beard, lass. That was a bad one ’twas.”
“Come now, my lil’ murogh ram, come now … ” she leaned over and kissed him on the sweaty scalp. “Ju’s a ‘mare, love. Tea’s reddy.”
“Aye,” he said, and swallowed hard. “Jus’ a mare. Tea?”
“‘t’ill be mornin’, love. ye slept for two days ye did. Had to help ye with the chamber pot. Jus’ piss, nuthin’ solid. Ye were drunk as a skunk when ye came ‘ome, love.”

He blushed, slumped down back into bed and wasn’t sure if he should hide under the blankets or cry. He closed his eyes – just for a second. Then he opened them, gasping. Because it was there. Everytime he closed his eyes he saw the tusks, less than an inch from his face. Everytime he closed his eyes he saw the froth, tinged with blood and fel. Then he plunged his sword into flesh and pushed the fel orc away.

Even with open eyes, sometimes you won’t escape the images. As he lay there in bed it all came crashing back, tea or no tea waiting.

“KILL YOU!!! KILL YOU!!!”

A brute of an orc, jumping right across the trench. The monster came down with a thump right in their midst. Wodan threw himself clear of the clutching hands but Duncan was too slow.

Then the rangari arrows came, blotting out the sky. Then there was an almost naked draenei woman, falling from Light knows where, slamming a crystal mace into the orc, screaming incoherently. Wodan saw a black panther dart off into the sky, magical energies trailing behind, roaring like a wilderbeast. Then the orc was dead. The draenei spat blood, turned her fierce white eyes on Wodan and roared. He had never heard such a voice. It was feral, almost like a demon.

“KILL ‘EM ALL!!! KILL ‘EM ALL!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!!”

Her voice broke on the last syllables. Then she ran away across the battlefield, brilliant light engulfing her, the ground ablaze with holy power. He saw Gul’Dans minions burst into white flames, screaming as they ran and ran … and died.

She slaughtered them all. Reveling in it. Hate incarnate.

“Light have mercy,” he mumbled.
“Woody!” There was a painful shriek. “Woody help!” Then Duncan, fifteen years old, no taller than Wodan, was twitching, twitching, twitching … shitting himself.

“Mom! Mommy!”
“It’ll be ar’ite laddie, healers be here any secon’.” He cradled the boy, trying to stem the bloodflow with his hands but it kept pumping out. “’tis not so bad, fix’er rite up for sure!”
“Mom … Mom!?”
“Ye frem Goldshire, ain’t ye?”
“Yeah … It hurts … ”
“Look at me laddie!”
“It’s so cold … Mummy!?”
“”Dey be havin’ a dog up dere, boyo, re’mber?”
“I … Mom? Mommy?”
“A dog, laddie! Ye not goin’ sleepin’ on me now, are ye?”
“Not like this … ” Then his eyes stopped moving. He kept the smile, facial muscles.
“Dun! Dun! Dun boyo! D’ent ye give me the zee now, boy! Dun! DUNCAN!!!”

For some reason he chuckled, laying there in his bed in Ironforge. It wasn’t a pleased chuckle, more like a sound somewhere between a gasp and a cry but it came out as a laugh. He turned his head to Hulma, smiling even though he wasn’t sure if it was joy or fear that made him grin. For a few moments Duncan lingered in the corner of his eye – so was the draenei woman. The crazy one. Then it came to him – he knew her.

“’twas the commander, love,” he said, wiping sweat from his face with both of his palms. “Ye know the tech them etereal or whatcha call ’em ‘ave. She was wearing green she was. One crazy cunt that one, you jus’ don’ wanna know.”
“Was it bad?”
“Aye … ” He sighed deeply and sat up, heaving his legs out of the bed. “’twas very bad, love. Not forgettin’ nothin’, not.”
“Ye shoul’ talk to the priest, love.”
“Phah!” He grunted. “Whatch’er can do, eh? Can’t erase me mem’ry can she?”
“Ye can’t bottle it up, love. Ye know me uncle, yeh?”
“Me not crazy, lass!”
“Ye will be ‘f’yer not talk to some’un.”

There are defining moments in everyone’s life. Wodans moment happened right there. He stood up, feeling the blood heating up his face. He pulled back his left arm and was about to swing, palm first, when he just froze. He saw her eyes widen, her mouth drop in a shocked “oh!”.

He ran across the room, crouched up in a corner and hid behind his own arms, desperate not to cry – but he did. Retching, deep, shaking screams through tears and snot.

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“I we’nt be free of this, will I?” he said at long last, looking up at nothing, seeing not Hulma but an almost naked draenei, shimmering in front of him.
“No,” she said.
“Then me done for … ”
“Love?” Hulma, her voice low, almost subdued. Yet she reached out with a hand and very gently stroked his beard and head. “It’ll be a’right, love … ye get some tea first, then we go to the priest, yes?”
“Aye … ” he nodded, lowering his arms even though he still wanted to hide. That terrible, terrible visage of an almost naked draenei was still lingering in front of his eyes. “Aye, roe, y’er right, like always.”
“In the light … “the phantom draenei slowly faded away, giving a wink and a smile. “we are one.”
“Ye think I’ll be a’right someday, don’ ye?”
“Aye.”
“’twas a terrible war, roe.”
“War will always be here,” she smiled, leaned close and kissed his lips, dry from fear and panic. “Love will always be here. Ye live with either one but not both of ’em.” She leaned her forehead against his. “I be rite at ye’ side, me murogh ram. Rite at ye side.”
“Ye know sum’thin, lass?”
“What?”
“Sometimes, ye don’t have ta die to be a casualty of war.”

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.

Spare those lips the taste of death

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Shuanna dreamt of death again. It had been so long since. She had dreamt about it the last night they were together in the Wetlands, her refuge, but not since. Oh, she still had her nightmares, she had seen the dead walk again. She had felt the panic, the fear, the terror. But she hadn’t seen Death – until now. This night, when she dreamt of death again.

(“You speak of justice?”)

She woke up. Unlike the cheap novels she read to trick herself to fall asleep, she didn’t wake up screaming. She just opened her eyes, a film of sweat on her face, a never exhaled gasp in her throat. Then she closed her eyes and sank back into oblivion with a deep, comfortable sigh, mumbling a half forgotten “Maraad … “. She even felt rested when she woke up, hours after dawn (way too late but lieutenant Thorn had let her sleep). Through the open window – Shuanna always had the window open since it let the smells of Shadowmoon into her room – she heard the garrison sounds. There could be no death in a place like this.

(“Of cowardice?“)

Voices from the yard … they made her smile.
“Delvar! Wha’yat!? Gotta git goin’ dude! Dem podlin’s aint gonna git killed ‘f’ya slack! C’m’ere ya deddy!” That was Ravennah.
“Strike! Strike! And strike again! Maggots eat you, recruit! fucking lady blows like that work wonders in Gorgrond, I’m sure, but not here! I killed death, you scum! Like this, Vandaam! See!? Do it again or I’ll sell you back to the ogres!” That was Zavannah.
“Mooore! Illona, please oh please!” That was Vassanna (in the room next door).

(“I will show you the justice of the grave!”)

There’s nothing more comforting than the voices of your sisters, strange as they may be, when you feel the breath of death down your back. The first time Shuanna went outside once the garrison had been built, she just stopped. Then she watched. She took a deep breath and realised she was … home. That was months ago. Nothing had changed save the stockade walls being turned to masonry. Yet there was this sense of … freedom.

(“And the true meaning of … Fear!”)

She thought she was free at last. Free from the hauntings, the dead, the screams inside. How could Death possibly exist here? Even when Ner’Zul was a threat, there was a certain tranquility to Shadowmoon. Besides – orcs worshipping the shadows was nothing compared to the Scourge.

(“A force of darkness that would wash over this world … “)

That was then. Now – a long time ago. At least it felt like a long time ago. Still, she couldn’t shake the feeling. The very second her hooves touched the soil of Shadowmoon, she knew it in every fiber of her body: I’m home. Different timeline be damned – this was home! Maraad was there. Of course he was. He had been there ever since the Dark Portal turned red. He must have known – that’s why he had been so coy with her in the Wetlands. Every time she had asked him where he would go once he had rested enough, he avoided her gaze. Then he said something like “suffice to say … ”

(“Soon, I will have a new champion.”)

You don’t push it when someone averts his gaze and use a word like ‘suffice’. Instead you do what she did back then – you cherish every second of the company, brief as it may be. Pity she never got to fuck him.

“I have to go,” he said.
“I understand,” she said.
“Light be with you, friend”.
“Don’t do anything I would do”.

She remembered how they had looked at each other for a long, long time. Several minutes passed without any of them saying a word. There was something in that gaze of his. She knew it. He knew it. She wanted to tell him “don’t go, let them fend for themselves” But she knew he would go – even though he also knew he went to his own death. Then he flung himself at her, trapping her in a long, hard hug, whispering “I don’t want to go back!” in a frantic voice, shrill with panic. Their lips were less than an inch away – yet neither of them did what everything told them to do. She felt him through the fabric of his pants. He must have felt her, her nipples hard, her thrusts against his body, her hands, wandering down, grabbing his ass. Instead they stared into each others eyes and very gently let each other go. He placed his fist on her chin, mocking a blow, taking a deep breath and as forgetting his sudden fit of panic. He cleared his throat, smiled and winked at her and said: “In the light we prevail, Shuanna. Remember that.”

Then he turned, then he walked away, then he was gone. She dreamt of him that night. She woke with a moan.

(“The breaking of this one has been taxing.”)

Later on there was no time. The battle in front of the portal. The flight to the ship. Touching ground in Shadowmoon, meeting the prophet, or at least one of them (Shuanna always felt confused about the timeline aspect of this adventure). Duties kept them apart. Then there were other lips. Draenor lips. An aspirant vindicators lips. Inches apart in the bushes not far from Ner’Zul himself. Every time she knew that this, this, is the moment! Everytime she saw it in Yrels eyes … every time Shuanna pulled back.

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(” In the end you will all serve me.”)

It was the nightmares. The memory of nightmares. Yrel only had to cope with what this world had brought her. Shuanna had to cope with both worlds. The Draenor that were, the Draenor that could have been, and the Draenor that Yrel had never seen. Shattered. Destroyed. Burned. Dying. More worlds than Draenor though … because Outland never broke Shuanna. Icecrown did.

(“Now I stand, the lion before the lambs.”)

How could you describe Icecrown to someone who had never seen it? Better to avoid it, to spare them. Spare those lips the taste of death. There was no Pit of Saron on Draenor. There was no Forge of Souls. There was no Icecrown. How can you describe Death to people who have only seen death?

(“They cannot fear!”)

As Shuanna looked out across the garrison, with all its hustle and bustle, she was struck by a simple thought. In a way it felt almost comfortable. Yet she knew she would do anything – absolutely anything! – to keep it from happening.

‘We will save this world. This world will not shatter. This time, the draenei will prevail!

That was Maraads words. Far back in her mind, another voice whispered the never ending incessant whisper:

(“This last act of service… is mine!”)

She shrugged. Truth be told she wanted to remember Maraad as he were, when he came to visit in the Wetlands. Teh carefree vindicator, the vacationeer. Dressed in a blue overall, fishing pole in one hand, a jug of Caraway in the other, going on and on about how he never caught anything but weeds. How she laughedat him, nudged him, how she giggled when a murloc caught his lure and hooked a halibut to his line just so their godess would show her shiny shield. How he laughed. How he lit up, as if whatever weighed on his mind became like smoke.

(“The world of the living can no longer comfort me.“)

She had seen him later on, an embodied spirit in the vaults of Auchindon putting Exarch Yrel to the test. But that was not the Maraad she loved. The Maraad she loved was dressed in blue. The Maraad she loved couldn’t fish. That was the hero she remembered most fondly: The laid back one, the funny one, the sexual innuendo one. Her body was ready every second for him yet he never made a single move. Nor did she. They touched each other as often as they could but it never went any further. See, there’s a truth here: Murlocs are a brilliant cockblock.

(“This last act of service… is mine“)

Noon. She knew there would be hot coffee in the barracks, and buns (Brumas bread, dwarven buns, hard as pebbles but once the crust was broken they were sweet and moist). She watched the porters carry crates from the Salvage Yard to the Treasury. She watched Vandaam being scolded yet again by her dead sister

– “This isn’t a brawl, you idiot! Now do it again! Hit me!”
“Fuck you!”
“Truth be told pit fighter I can see it in your eyes. Defeat me in combat and I’m all yours, sugar.”  –

and despite Shuannas morose mind she burst out laughing. It was a shrill, slightly insane laugh. It caught Vandaam off-guard and in a few seconds he was on his back with Tim the Geist on his chest yelling “Mmmmr aaahh ahh haaa!”. Then Zavannah yelled “Get off him, silly girl! now! Again! On your guard!”.

(“They must never know what was done here today.“)

Yes … She watched them all from the balcony to her room. She felt them all. Zavannah, Vassanna, Ravennah … The joy, the lust, the sorrow, the sillyness and the laughter. Down by the wall Cassanna was teaching Kimzee how to gut an elekk. Truth be told the green goblin looked greener than usual. All of them – home. Yet, all of them – out of place. That’s when the thought struck her:

‘We do not belong here.’

(“LEAVE THIS PLACE – AND NEVER RETURN.“)