Saturday, December 10, 2016


"Given enough time, and enough effort, anything is plausible."

Her mother had told her that. It was practically her favorite turn of phrase. It had been brought up whenever she was growing weary of something. Whether it be training, or studying, or any other difficult pursuit, she had always been reassured that with persistence, she would endure. She hadn't really given it much thought at the time. Even when conquering her latest endeavor, she hadn't given it much of a thought.

But now a-days it feel on her mind more often. She questioned the entire plausibility of it. Surely there were plenty of people who had put in as much time and effort as they had available and still failed. Not that that discounted the saying, really. It just meant that they hadn't had enough time or enough effort to give, and thus failed.

She allowed the quill in her hand to drop, settling down on her desk near her latest written work, hands coming to rub her forehead. It was only a matter of time until that was her. All this time, and all this effort wasn't going to matter for her in the end. Perhaps it was best that she knew that. It was because she knew that she was already preparing people to take up her work in the aftermath of her passing. Time and effort would continue being poured in because the project deserved it. Azeroth deserved it, as did the Legion.

Every day that passed seem to bring that possibility closer. Duskwood had finally caught up with the rest of her schedule, which meant that soon enough over pieces would start falling into place. Some things had been interrupted, true, but most others had progressed accordingly. Or at least as accordingly as such a plan could. Sheer disruption of operations was impossible, especially with something as large a scale as the Broken Isles's campaign. Elsewhere though things were somewhat stabler or weakened, which meant that they were more open to being abused.

For now though there was mostly the matter of dealing with the particular Knights who had decided to bother her. Or at least setting up the process of doing so, should she not be able to do so in her time.

There was a wrapping at the door of her office. A quick flick of her wrist sent one of the ghouls resting in one of the corners of the room stumbling towards the door and slowly pulling it open. Beyond stood another Knight of the Ebon Blade, his lich blue eyes peering out from behind a standard helm. Another flick of her wrist called him forward. He swiftly set a letter on her desk, saluted, and turned to leave without another word. The ghoul closed the door and shuffled back from wince it had come.

Producing a letter opener from a drawer, she slashed at the envelope. Pulling out the letter within her eyes ran down the page as swiftly as possible, mouth curling upward somewhat. It was at least somewhat more than she was expecting. It was also more than enough to work with. She quickly scribbled out a letter of her own, produced an envelope and sealed it with a quick press from a stamp. Another flick of the wrist brought a geist forward as the ghoul shuffled back towards the door. With one glance at the envelope's delivery address, the geist bobbed its lone eye up and down, making for the door which the ghoul jerkily opened and closed, before returning to its corner.

And just like that, things were in motion once again. It brought a smirk to her lips. More time and effort to be poured in. More things to make plausible.

Sunday, November 6, 2016


For the most part, he liked to think that he gave everyone a fair shake. Didn’t matter if they had grown up in the woods, on some other world, or were burdened by some curse. If he hated someone, it pertained more to their individual character than anything else.

               Sure, in a number of ways he was predisposed to individuals of a certain descent. He’d grown up hearing stories of orcs and other monstrous creatures, and while he now knew that their actual histories were far less one-sided, there were still moments throughout time that he could fully understand breeding large amounts of hate. But enough shared foes had given him the impression that if they could stop giving each other more reasons, that each side could likely get over their hate and be on agreeable enough terms.

               Yet if he was completely honest, at least with himself, in his own head with his own thoughts, he wasn’t entirely certain on some species or races. The poster child for such internal debates was, generally elves. Perhaps occasionally those among the Forsaken, where he could understand their position but disagree with their methods. But mostly elves. The main reason being that, for one reason or another, there was just something about them. There was just something about the way they held themselves, as though they alone stood atop a hill to look down on others. Maybe it was just their height. Even their tones seemed to carry downward. Or at least, some of them did so. To be entirely fair to them, it was far from being the case with all of them. It just happened to be that those he happened to recall were the types to do so.

               He had of course worked with plenty of elves, some still actively, others less so. Enough of them had certainly been decent folks, but Light if so many of them didn’t make his fist clench. Not that he couldn’t say the same for any other race.

               It was this sort of thing he debated and considered when being called to deal with these “withered” elves. Part of him felt that there should be some sort of joy to it. He could get a proper kick out of killing demons because the damned things bothered him so much. None of the same satisfaction was here.

               The dulled looks in their eyes. The mindless twitching. Aside from their appearance, which was but a gaunt imitation of an elf, they were hardly the same type of elf he had imagined decking right in the nose. The he’s he had to deal with here were treated more as acts of mercy than malice. Which was why when there was a request to thin the herd in some areas, rather than attempt to tame the damned things as some had apparently started trying to do, he took the request with some hesitation.

               It was with that hesitation that he picked through trees and bushes and vines, finding himself in the clearing that had been marked out for him, and stopping. His eyes flicked this way and that, taking note of each and every withered corpse that lined the ground. All told there had to be something like seven or eight of them. He took a few steps further into the clearing, frowning. They all were laid on their backs, hands placed on their stomachs, eyes closed.

               The Worgen lumbered near the closest corpse, dropping to a knee to examine it. The poor thing had taken a small blade to the throat, based on the line that ran across its neck. With the closed eyes and folded hands it almost looked like something set out in a funeral home. Save for the deathly thinness and scraps of clothes that adorned its body. Red frowned, correcting himself. ‘His’ body. At some point this had been a man, not just some…Thing. Scanning further down the corpse his eyes narrowed, noting that what had remained of the man’s pockets had been turned outward, and revealing the holes that had probably been dug in by twitching fingers.

               Standing, he marched off along the trail of bodies. Whoever had done this group in had apparently wandered off near the foliage of the forest once they were done, if the increased amount of corpses near the trees was anything to go off of. They had encountered even more withered there, since more were splayed out in the shadows of the trees. There hadn’t been as many, as he wandered through trying to determine which direction to go next he encountered three or so, but there was enough to make him wonder what the hell had come through here. Or who the hell. Whichever.

               He didn’t get to see whether or not there were further dead past here. As he was taking note of how this set’s pockets, when they had pockets at least, were turned out as well, he was swiftly struck from the side. Though ‘struck’ likely wasn’t the best word. Rammed, or rather ran into. It was with enough force to make him stumble somewhat, but it was apparently his assaulter who took the brunt of any force, as they found their way to the ground.

               The individual in question, some hooded figure covered in robes, was busy rubbing their hands with their boney, gloved hand. He cocked a brow as the attire started to ring a bell in his brain, leaning forward somewhat to offer a hand to help the woman up. Her hand quivered, apparently taking quite a bit of focus to maneuver, but he helped her stand all the same.

               The woman gave him a passing glance, blue eyes settling on his face for but a moment before they were apparently satisfied and began looking elsewhere. Her voice held the same shake that her hands did, as though the earth was moving around her, “Redamous. Ah. A plea-pleasure.”

               He cocked a brow, looking around for a moment to try to find whatever it was she was looking for, before looking back to the elf herself, “Miss Xanthe.” Red paused for a moment, trying to settle on a string of words that wouldn’t come off as too offensive. “You doin’ okay?”

               She laughed, but he couldn’t tell if it was at what he said or some stray thought that had crossed her mind. Her head shook from side to side, fingers twitching at her side, “Yes, yes. I mean. No.” He couldn’t see her mouth behind her scarf, but based on her eyes it was held firmly in a frown. “I am. I am looking for. For mana. For a crystal. To. To hold me over.”

               With a short nod he idly dug a hand into his bag, producing one of the rocks that happened to be so coveted in this part of the world. Dealing with these elves had left him practically needing to keep them on hand. When having to converse with one of the ‘Nightfallen’ to determine what exactly they needed done it wasn’t uncommon for whoever he was talking to run off mentally, and so it had helped to bring them back to their more stable states. Far as he was aware collecting the little gems had become far more common as of late for similar reasons.

               He could hardly blink before the elf snatched away the mana crystal, running a short distance and keeping her back to him as she did whatever needed to be done with it. Part of him thought she was prepared to take his entire arm off if that was what it took to get her hands on the damned thing. Her body shivered and shuddered while she regained her composure. By the time she turned to face him again, her posture was fixed and straight, her chin held outward somewhat, allowing her eyes to look down on him, even though he stood over her. The twitching in her hands had subsided, and her voice was steadied and proper. In short, she was as much an elf as he would have expected. At least when she wasn’t suffering from withdrawal.

               “You will have to forgive me,” she muttered, allowing her hands to link in front of her waist, “This would be the second time you have helped me with such an issue, and I am exceedingly thankful for such.”

               He lifted his shoulders in a small shrug, “Wasn’t just gonna watch you stagger around or nothin’.” The statement entirely true, and much less blunt than saying ‘I didn’t want to watch you wander around looking for a fix’. To say it made him uncomfortable was an understatement.

               “Well, all the same. You have my thanks, and I would hope that I can do something for you in return at some point.”

               Redamous shrugged again, motioning around at the withered scattered about, “Looks like you might have already. Was supposed to come out and here do this anyway.”

               She gulped, looking down at the dead. He didn’t know for certain that she had done them in, but nothing here pointed to it being anyone else. She took her turn to shrug, gaze turning down as though in shame as she did so, “Well. That as it may be, I would not consider us even in our debt.” There was a pause, one where he tried to find a few words to breach the subject of why exactly she was out here, but she beat him to the punch, “It’s simply just. Difficult. To watch them stagger about.”

               He nodded, “Agreed. Same reason I don’t put much thought into doin’ it, honestly.”

               A look crossed her face, or at least the part of it that wasn’t covered by cloth. He couldn’t decide if she looked relieved or satisfied with the answer. “I like to believe that it is what they might want. To not suffer further. To not be.” She turned for a moment to look down at one in particular, tilting her head, “Locked in themselves, or to do nothing but crave.” His skin crawled at the thought. She turned to face him once more, taking in a breath, “So I shall give them their leave. And pray that my brothers and sisters may be able to strike deeper.”

               “What,” he said, brow raising again, “At those folks in that big city a yours’?” It was the most likely answer. He wasn’t aware of anywhere nearby that housed more Shal’dorei than Suramar. Or for that matter, a single city that housed more individuals he wanted to punch in the mouth, save maybe Darnassus or Silvermoon.

               Every tale from the city made him angry, from how its citizens were apparently caught under the thumb of demons now, to how they also ran the risk of simply being chewed up and spit out. She appeared to share a similar sentiment.

               “Yes,” her eyes darkened as she spoke. “Those of us who are allowed to thrive through deals with devils. Those who suppress the will of the people and do this,” she idly tossed a hand in the direction of the withered, “To us.”

               He looked down at the thing, nodding once more in agreement, “Terrible thing to do to folks. Ain’t gonna get no disagreement outta me.”

               “The worst thing to do to an individual,” she stated flatly. “To toss them to the wilds, taking what they truly need and leaving them to become an animal.” Her fingers appeared to twitch at the very thought, though she quickly regained control of them. They clinched into a fist as she paced around somewhat, riled. An awkward cough escaped her as she calmed herself down, “You will have to excuse me.”

               Redamous shook his head, “Got a right to be mad at ‘em.”

               “I do,” she muttered, “But to go on like this does nothing but belay any sort of vengeance.” The fist unclenched, “You shall have to excuse me, Redamous. But I feel far too tightly wound for this conversation.”

               “Should probably tell somebody that it’ll be safe to pass through here for a while anyway.”

               “Indeed.” It was all she said for a long moment, but she didn’t turn to leave for anything of the sort. Instead she lingered, as though focused on the idea of ejecting from the conversation properly, and not with such shortness.

               “Perhaps we can converse at length about things in the future. When I am feeling far less…” She trailed off, searching for a word, but never really finding one. He couldn’t help but wonder if what little he had provided her was already slipping away, but instead settled on the idea that such absent-mindedness was likely just a usual thing for those such as her now.

               “Fair enough,” he said, not allowing her to dwell on the matter too much. With a small wave, he turned and began walking off in the direction he had come from. It let her leave with him being the one to have severed things for now.

               Passing back through the clearing from prior he couldn’t help from glance down at her handiwork. Addicts and elves. That part wasn’t the worst thing of all of this. It had to be the mindlessness. The loss of self, the desperation. He took in a breath, not that he needed it.

The thought simply absolutely terrified him.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Return to Sender

As she had constantly said up to this point, the entire situation was unfair. Not that things were ever fair for her. But this time things were exceptionally more unfair than they had ever been before.

Because it was simply not fair that everyone else in the city had gotten to go home, which meant that they had went home to their families, and she didn't. Of course she didn't have any of that to go back to, save for a home town she really didn't like one bit. So after much pouting, the only decent answer for her origin the mages of Dalaran had managed toe xtract was that she was from Duskwood. Specifically Darkshire.

Despite her complaints, she obviously had no love of the place, there was just no way the majority of them felt safe keeping her in the city as it moved across the world. Regardless of how proficient she was in tossing around a fireball or two, which to be fair she was surprisingly decent at, she couldn't be constantly watched well enough to keep her in check. So it was back to Duskwood for her, for her safety and theirs, regardless of how dark and dreary a place it was.

Of course, given their very narrow view of the subject, they hadn't accounted for the strain it might put on the simple townsfolk they were tossing her to. They had assumed she would simply click back into place, go back to the farm or whatever the heck it was that people in the middle of an eerie forest did. They weren't aware of how long the people of Darkshire had dealt with her as a problem already.

When she was a child, they had been used to letting her cycle about town. It made them feel a bit better, knowing that she wasn't at home, and still had a roof over her head. Such feelings were good to have when one's home was a short distance from a forest full of murderous animals and undead monstrosities that all wanted to murder you.

But there had come a point where housing a grown woman, polite company as she may have been, as well as her aging mutt, had simply become nonsensical. What followed was a period of encouragement and attempts at engagement, tosee if they couldn't have her be a bit more than a simple layabout.

And to be completely fair to the girl, she had tried. It just so happened that 'trying' resulted in a series of gaffes and goofs, a few of which still got brought up to lighten the mood or to befuddle wandering travelers.

Eventually the girl had grown frustrated enough to leave town, stomping off in a fit to some dark corner of the woods. Despite some searching, they honestly hadn't heard much of her since. The only memorable time the topic had been breached again, at least until now, had been one some odd group of deaders had inquired as to her history, and swiftly departed without much information given as to why exactly they were prying into such matters.

But now the girl was back, and being passed about between houses again. For the most part she was the same, a bit older and perhaps a bit odder. That, and for some reason her dog seemed to reek of death and looked as though it had more than just a passing illness.

And Almaria positively did not like it at all. She wanted to go back to sleepding in a bed that was meant for her. Not one that no one had cared about for a long time. It didn't help that it just didn't feel right. She could toss this way or that way, but sleep just wouldn't come visit.

It only took an hour or two of trying for her to give up on the notion completely. She idly tossed an arm in the direction of the one candle that shared the room with her, and looked down at the rotting dog nearby, arms crossing as she pondered.

After a few short thoughts, she stood up, causing the mutt to stir a bit. Its head lazily tracked her about the room. First she found her way back into her day clothes, which mostly consisted of an old red robe. Soon after she found her shoes and her bag, and not long after she called the mutt after her, quietly of course, as she slipped out into the dark night.

Even in rather low light it wasn't hard for her to navigate the road. She had wandered through Duskwood enough times to know it like the back of her hand. And while she had often been told scary stories of wolves and other creepy creatures stalking about, they apparently decided to leave her well enough alone.

For the longest time she just assumed she would hit the bridge that lead on to Westfall, turn back around and try sleeping again. That distance alone would probably be enough to tucker her out. But right before she could step along the stone and over the water to start doubling back, something caught her eye along the shore. Flickering beneath the cobwebbed trees was a small fire. A niggling voice at the back of her head urged her to continue back, but the rest of her simply suggested 'What's the worst that could happen?'.

Three individuals stood were crouched around the fire, sitting on what had to have been recently moved logs. Their packs had been tossed around their makeshift camp, and bare-bones tents had been placed nearby. The people themselves wore dark robes and hoods, under which she could easily see that their skin appeared to follow suit, looking light and grey, as though they barely saw the sun.

One of them noticed her in moments. A large, brutish man with broad shoulders who quickly stood, hand racing toward his belt. The other two quickly turned to take note of the woman approaching their rest stop rising as well.

The figure closest to her was a woman, or so she guessed based on their slimmer figure and sharper eyes. Their soft, sultry voice backed that up, "Calm yourself Mortimer." Her head drifted in the direction of the large man, who complied with a grunt, letting his hand drop. Appearing satisfied with the motion, the woman turned back towards Almaria, eyes narrowing as she likely smirked behind the cloth that hid the rest of her face. She drew closer to the other woman, eyeing her over with a bored look in her eyes, which only brightened when she made note of the hound following close behind their guest.

Almaria had long since stiffened, looking awkward and out of place, a hand coming up to rub her arm as she debated simply turning around and walking back to town as fast as possible. Yet she couldn't bring herself to move while the woman advanced upon her, like a predator might on its prey, eyes narrowing once more as the grey lady spoke, "What brings you to our neck of the woods at this time of night my dear?"

Almaria gave a short shrug, looking away nervously, "I couldn't sleep." Her voice shook as the other woman stared at her, pale eyes housed by a paler face seeming to pierce everything about her.

Reaching up to pull her mask down, the woman revealed her smile. She calmly approached Almaria, grinning horribly and extending a hand. "Why don't you come sit down and tell us all about it, dear." With a long, debating look, Almaria took the hand, shrugging, and quickly being led off towards the fire.

Monday, September 5, 2016


               Somewhere there was some old sheet of paper with his name on it. That was the assumption he worked off of. It detailed what was expected of him, and had probably been updated over the years. Hell, it probably wasn’t just a single page anymore. Said set of pages probably detailed what his duties were since having been continuously cursed with different titles. Not that he hadn’t tried to have all of that nonsense stopped some time ago. Regardless, Redamous was almost dead certain of one thing. Nowhere on any piece of that document did it likely say “go find glowing rocks for elves”.

               Sure, there were probably details regarding dealing with potential allies in a positive manner. And these elves certainly seemed to be potential allies. All the same, picking rocks out of the ground and dealing with the mindless addicts that were prowling about wasn’t high on his to-do list. He paused his train of thought to bend over and toss another blue crystal in the bag he had going, slinging it over his shoulder once it was in place amongst the others.

               All in all this entire arrangement seemed to be a recipe for disaster. At any point if the supply chain stopped their would-be allies could easily slip into as mindless as a ghoul, and if someone along the supply chain decided it was time to starve their friends for whatever reason it would prove to be a rather nasty negotiation tactic.

               The worgen paused once more to kneel down at retrieve a few pebble sized crystals, adding them to the bag and again throwing it back over his shoulder when it was tied shut. As he made to stand up he paused mid-motion, an ear twitching. He remained halfway kneeled down for a minute or two, he had struggled with more exact timing since the need to sleep and such had departed, until he was certain that nothing nearby was moving. Some shambling elf had sprung themselves on him enough times to make him not want to relive the experience yet again.

               Continuing through the thicket of trees he had decided to cut through, he debated whether or not this was one of the bigger mistakes he had made in the past few days. On the one hand, there wasn’t a swamp here, far as he had seen, which made it better than Val’sharah in the sense that his bare feet weren’t getting all muddy and damp. On the other hand, Val’sharah, despite its corruption issues, hadn’t tossed its psychotic denizens at him from the tops of trees and under patches of grass. Sure, he had found more of these crystals off the beaten path, but the fact that there was less to be found on the path meant that there were less things hovering around the path. Either way, here he was.

He curved off to the left as he found some sort of cliff side, the top of which he couldn’t see through the trees. It was bound to lead out to something, and at present the most he was going to hope for was that it was a peaceful something. Getting lost was hardly a concern, what with the fact that a death gate made Acherus a few moments away. Red came to a halt as the cliff jutted inward somewhat, with the ground moving downward to follow suit.

On the one hand, descending into a dark cave was just asking for something untoward to happen. The other possibility was that other people had thought the same, and that there would be enough of these damned crystals down there that he could call it a fairly successful day. There wasn’t much debate on the matter. Anything that could make this go quicker was something worth at least a try.

Striking a torch he raised it close to the ceiling, descending into the cave, eyes peeled for anything blue. Within a few minutes of rounding corners he had added at least four or five to his haul, and only found more the further he went. By the time the cave had quit winding his bag was full enough to call the whole ordeal a success. Which was good, considering by the time the cave had quit winding his surroundings had changed enough to make him want to leave.

The first thing he noted were indentions in the wall, which appeared to be places to house torches at one point in time. Soon enough what seemed to be holes that had once housed traps, as shown by the old mechanisms that were broken and abandoned below said holes, a few of the piles containing arrows or old stones bearing runes. Once he had left the long hallway it became most apparent that someone had been here before he had. Long before he had, he assumed.

The hallway lead to a large circular space, with no exit save the one he had come through, far as he could tell. His jaw grew slack somewhat as he slowly entered the chamber. Peppered around the room were tables and bookshelves, all covered with aged instruments, texts, and pages of some script he could only guess was elven. Red lowered his bag from his shoulder, laying it against one of the tables near him as he slowly circled the room. There was nothing to be gathered from any of the books, unless he could convince someone from the area to translate for him, which wasn’t a struggle he felt like going through at the moment. Most everything else was too worn to be useful, or even recovered. The tables were damp and rotting, the glasses and beakers they housed broken or smashed. As he reached up to tap one of the more whole cylinders, his ear twitched once more at a small noise behind him.

The noise got louder as he turned, flicking the glass on accident as he did so. Near the entrance some slate of stone fell into place, a few spots on the ceiling blinking with light as it did so. The wards coming to life caught his attention long enough that he almost missed the fact that someone was actually standing in front of the entrance, and had likely just barely missed being smashed between the new stone and the wall.

Redamous stood as rigid as possible, waiting for the other individual to move. He allowed his hand to lower somewhat, directing the torches light more at the figure than the room on the whole. Their attire was almost entirely covering, and rather soft in terms of material, with not a piece of armor in sight. Their face was concealed under a hood, with a scarf covering the lower half of their head. Their torso was covered in some long-sleeved shirt and coat, a long cloak which appeared to be attached to the hood stretching from the front side of their right shoulder all the way down their back.

His company’s head tilted somewhat as they apparently examined him. Their arms remained at their side, fingers, occasionally twitching in their gloves, involuntarily tapping at the side of their legs. Their left foot seemed to follow suit, tapping along to some unseen beat. By the time the appeared to move of their own volition rather than some sort of tick, it was towards the bag of crystals he had left near the door. They paused in front of it, but didn’t lean over to pick through it. Their hand traced the wall as they circled the room, walking closer to the worgen.

“I would never fault someone here’s ability to keep someone from taking any of their things, even in death.” He turned as the figure moved along, keeping her, and it was a her far as he could tell from the voice, as they drew closer to him.

“Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve gotten locked in by some stupid trap,” he muttered, keeping himself at the ready should what conversation there was turning sour.

The woman nodded, stopping as she reached the worgen. Up this close it was easier to identify the blue skin and seemingly curved face under the hood. Even if his interactions with the Nightfallen had been short up to this point, they looked different enough for him to know this was one of them. She didn’t stop to give him enough time to dwell on the matter, motioning for him to move to the side, which he did. Continuing to prod the wall, she glanced over her shoulder, voice somewhat forcibly steady, “What brings you to our woods, beast-man?”

Red couldn’t help but let out a snort, “Technical term’s ‘Worgen’ thanks. ‘Beast-man’ or ‘beast-folk’s a bit offensive.”

The response produced an uneven chuckle in the elf, who nodded, silently muttering “Fair enough.”

“And I were,” he paused, glancing at his pack for a moment, “Rock gatherin’.”

“Getting mana crystals for the locals. A relatable endeavor.”

She stopped in front of a section of the wall, pressing inward until a section of the rock sunk into itself. He could only assume she looked more than a bit smug as she turned to look at the stone door swing back open.

He worked his way around the room, in the opposite direction she had, finding himself facing her near the door. Slowly bending over to fetch his pack, he looked back to the elf, cocking a brow, “Assume you’re out doin’ the same, then. With it bein’ ‘relatable’.”

The elf paused, even down to her twitching fingers, as though she had suddenly become aware of them. “I suppose I am.” He could see her blink a few times, turning back to look at the room on the whole, “Sometimes it’s nice to forget about it for a bit.” She chuckled again, looking back to him, “A little distraction, or a brain-teaser.”

Redamous nodded somewhat, glancing down at his bag, pulling it open. He grabbed a few of the gems sitting inside, tossing them in the elf’s direction. She was apparently caught off guard enough that she nearly didn’t catch them. She looked between them and their donator for a long period of time, until he finally muttered “Make it a bit easier.”

They stood in silence for a moment, until he started his way out of the cave. She coughed to draw his attention for a moment, “Do you ‘worgen’ have names?”

He stopped, glancing over his shoulder to nod, “We do, as it happens. Redamous. Or Red, if that’s too on the long side a things.”

The elf glanced down at the mana crystals again, before looking up at the worgen with a nod, “Then I thank you, Redamous. And I do hope to see you further down the path.” Her attention shot back to her new prize for a moment, before a thought occurred to her as he began to walk off again, “I am Xanthe.”

Red sighed, stopping again. He turned somewhat this time to look the elf more in the eyes, and nodded. “Nice meetin’ you,” he said, offering a small nod, before turning around to exit the cave, and begin wandering back to wherever his delivery was due.

Sunday, September 4, 2016


               To his left and right were trees. Behind him, trees. As far as he could see in front of him? Trees. Cursed trees that were scattered and spotted across the land, all odd and twisted, with the occasional one that apparently had caught fire. Green fire. He tried to keep his breathing slow and steady as he kept up his pace, moving as fast as his short legs would allow him. Somewhere behind him he had lost his hat, but like hell if he was going to go back and retrieve it. That thing was still back there, and knew it.

               It had come from nowhere. Well, not really nowhere. It had come from the sky, after the clouds had turn a sickening green. Like a terrible thunderstorm, except the lightning had been replaced with glowing green rocks that housed hordes of demons all ready to maim and kill. Or worse. He had been out gathering some herd of rams, who promptly defected from any sense of order the moment the sky started spitting fire. Not that he blamed them at all. When his brain finally clicked into what was going on, he hoofed it too.

               His first thought was to head back home. He had to warn his folks, until it occurred to him that they had gone off to Ironforge for the day to pick up some equipment. Which happened to be a rather lucky choice, he noted upon cresting the hill that overlooked their humble home. What stone was above ground was cracked from some sort of nearby impact, and the door had been kicked in. Things were moving about, namely the rather large thing that happened to be heading in his direction. Somewhere inside of him something screamed for him to find some way to defend his home. The rest of him said that despite the longstanding history of the place, it wasn’t worth his life.

               So off into the forest he’d gone. On a better day he would have been able to navigate this particular bunch of trees with ease, but his focus had been thrown out the window a few minutes ago. He had taken enough turns now that there was no particular way he could consider to place himself. All he could really think to do was continue moving so that the thing couldn’t catch him. The pointy hatted, heavy axe-wielding thing. Demon. It almost had to be a demon, especially since he couldn’t imagine it being anything else. Druids were all about being green, last he had heard, but they weren’t so into crashing in from the sky and raiding people’s homes.


               Regardless of any better words he would have produced in other situations, especially when in the presence of his relatives, that seemed the most appropriate for now. So much show that he muttered it out loud more than a few times as he grew closer to the worldly structure he had dreaded to find. The steep rocky walls of a cliff all he could see. Worse still when he curved off in either direction to start working his way elsewhere he noted that he had wormed his way into the tail end of some canyon. He racked his brain to determine how far he must have ran to end up at the end of a canyon, and could only decide that he must have gone miles. How long he had been going he couldn’t even say. What he could say, based on the rustling behind him, was that he was going to regret coming this far.

               There was the most basic of hopes he could muster that he was going to turn around and see a wolf or something that had decided he would make a good midday meal. But no, it was that pointy headed thing from before, still lugging around that massive axe. It had a terrible grin on its face as it thumped along, its heavy armored feet leaving impressions deeper than just the snow and into the dirt that was frozen below it.

               He glanced off to the left and right, debating which way would give him more room to run and a bigger space between him and it, but didn’t get much time to consider the idea. There was a loud groan from the demon as it jerked its body forward, stumbling enough that it had to use the pole of its long axe to keep its footing. The dwarf had to squint to notice that the thing had been attacked from its flank, with something still clinging onto its back, dangling a few feet off the ground.

               The demon began twisting and turning until its attacker was successfully flung off, slamming into the tree. Squinting the dwarf noted that the pile of metal and fur that had dropped to the ground near the tree’s trunk appeared to be a Worgen, a large mace slung along his back. With a fair amount of muttering and cursing the Worgen picked himself off the ground and faced the demon, whose attention had turned from his previous prey to this new one.

               Despite the size of the mace he was lugging about, the Worgen continued on unarmed, dropping a foot back to prepare for the demon’s charge, which came soon after. It brought its weapon back for a forward swing, which the Worgen managed to duck under, barely missing the tips of his ears. The Worgen’s claws found their way into the demon’s shoulder as he swept upward from under the axe, before the quickly jumped backward to wait for another strike.

               The demon stumbled back, not from the blow far as the dwarf could tell, but rather something happening because of the blow. It hacked and coughed and scratched at the place it had been struck, grunting in pain as though someone had set a match against its skin. Its opponent took this as another moment to strike, making another slash on the demon before it was smacked away by the demon’s unoccupied hand.

               Crashing to the ground again the Worgen clawed his way to his knees before swiftly receiving a kick from the demon, grazing a tree and ending up further in the snow. The beast flopped onto his back, awkwardly laying on top of the mace, staring up at the sky for a moment while regaining his composure, lazily looking towards the direction he had been tossed from to find his attacker charging to do the same again. One of his claws slammed against the ground, a section of his glove glowing bright blue as the area under the demon’s feet causing it to fall forward at its sudden drop in momentum.

               With the demon grounded, the Worgen slowly clambered back to his feet, finally drawing the mace from its back. Before he got the chance to use it, the demon slammed its axe into the ground a giant burst of green fire knocking the Worgen back against the canyon wall. It slammed the blade of the axe against its iced feet, bringing it back to its full height. It stomped over to the Worgen, bringing a foot down on the beast before it could recover. It continued to do this until it seemed satisfied that the Worgen wasn’t getting up to oppose it for the time being, preparing to bring its axe down on its enemy’s neck.

               The Worgen lifted a hand up, flicking his wrist, a motion that was followed by another flash of light, this time red in color. The demon paused in its attack, apparently lifted up into the air by its throat, gasping for air. The Worgen heaved itself up, mace and all, bringing the former up to slam against the demon. As the weapon made contact the demon appeared to be released, allowing it to fly off into the forest, dropping its axe as it flew.

               Letting the head of his mace drag along the ground, the Worgen limped over toward the fallen demon. He flicked his other hand again, another       flash of blue light as the demon apparently froze to the ground, struggling against its icy chains. With a final heave, the Worgen brought his mace up over his shoulder, bringing it down against the demon’s head. The dwarf quickly looked away, grimacing and grinding his teeth at the sound of bone crushing. By the time he had looked back the Worgen had sheathed his weapon, and was in the process of letting out a sigh.

               The Worgen took a moment to glance at the dwarf, raising his voice so that he could be heard, “Find somewhere to hole up.”

               The dwarf blinked, looking down at the now-dead demon, “There’s more of ‘em?”

               The Worgen snorted, turning to head back into the forest, voice still raised, “There’s a lot more of ‘em.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Written while listening to: In Circles.

She had seen him like this before. The times had been few, but enough that she knew this was just how the man took bad news. Sitting rigid, eyes fixated on a point in the room, rarely blinking. It hadn’t taken long to figure out that in times such as these, it was simply best to leave him be to his thinking.

The first occasion she could recall such a situation happened around the time they had received word that his mother had passed in the night. He had sat for a number of hours on his own, contemplating his thoughts. She had left to go into town and returned to find him in just the same state as she had left him. It was a new enough experience at the time to worry her, but she didn’t delve too deep into the matter when he quickly rebuked her attempts at consul. After he had had the time to himself she was allowed to enter the matter and offer her thoughts to be taken into consideration, but not, as she soon caught on, until he had taken the time to process his own.

In some regards she could respect the practice. It meant the man didn’t jump head first into every situation with some cynical outlook, not that he wasn’t prone to such views regardless, or in emotional distress. He took the time to grieve or to process whatever had just been told to him. On the other hand, his being out of commission and severing his ties to her for the time was frustrating in multiple ways. At times where she wanted to comfort him, where he certainly would have been comforting her, he simply wandered off as far away as possible into his own head to deal with his problems all by his lonesome.

So here she was, forced to bide her time until he was willing to speak. Which meant finding ways to occupy herself in the meantime, which at present meant fixing up the disaster of an office that they had come upon. In all the time she was aware of, this forsaken floating fortress had not once moved, and now it was being flung off to fight their foreign invaders, trekking halfway across the ocean in the process. At some point she had apparently worked up enough determination to be able to pick up things still remaining on the physical plane that had forsaken her. Which didn’t surprise her all that much. Growing up she had heard so many stories from her uncles that contained haunted houses and floating objects. Now that she knew haunted houses likely held grains of truth in their tales, what was to say the floating objects were a lie?

Far too many folders had found their way to the floor, each and every one of them containing pages that had either been skimmed or skipped entirely. Some of those that had been skimmed ended up in the burn pile, others were deemed unimportant enough to not bother setting aflame to imply they had never been seen. Where the man had picked up this little arson habit she was never able to gather, but so long as he was just burning pages and not homes or something she supposed there were worse vices in the world.

After what seemed like a solid hour had passed, not that she could tell time in this Light-forsaken room and its lack of both clocks and windows both of which the dead gave little regard for in their current state, he finally let out a sigh. It amused her somewhat that this was notable mostly in regards to the fact that the sigh meant he had let out a breath at all. Where once his breathing would have simply been steady, it was now non-existent, so any sign of its return implied that just maybe he was coming out of his mood. Soon after the return of his breathing came the clicking of his claws from one hand, the other flicking through a few select sheets of paper again as he re-read what had set him off in the first place. He fully returned to reality when he allowed a hand to cover his face, letting out a heavy sigh.

“And so he returns to the land of the living,” she muttered with a smirk, sliding a few things on his desk back into place.

His lips pulled back in an expression that was direly lacking in amusement, “Har.”

She just shrugged, resting against the side of his old desk, the first thing they had shoved back into place, “Could try for an actual joke, if you’d prefer.”

“Not rightly in the mood,” he muttered.


His hand remained firmly on his face, “I.” He paused, taking a moment to consider, “Hate this bloody job sometimes.”

“Sometimes?” He couldn’t see it due to his hand, but she cocked brow in sarcastic disbelief.

“Most of the time.” He waved the idea away, “But all the time with stuff like this.” The clawed left his face to slam down against the pages, “When I have to sit here an’ read this stuff.”

“Somebody’s gotta do it.”

“Don’t mean I have to like the fact that it’s me. That I gotta watch us go ‘round an’ round, end back up where we started, ‘cept now far as I’m aware the folks who are decidin’ this stuff’re in their right sensibilities. Which makes it worse.”

“Well. As is doesn’t seem like there’s much you can do about it, so maybe it’s better to jus’ get off your arse and go do the other part of your job.” That brow was still up, though now with her tone he felt it was more a judgmental gesture than a sarcastic one.

“An’ tha’s half the problem,” he growled, ignoring her suggestion, “There ain’t nothin’ I can do about it ‘cept live with knowin’ it. And of course dealin’ with whatever hell the living shake up ‘cause of it.”

“And I’m sure you’ll get to deal with that when it comes. But it ain’t come, so maybe don’t try dealing with it yet.”

He clenched his fists at the thought, standing up from the desk. A line was carved into it with his claw as he crossed the room for the door, leaving the large mace he had tossed to one side of it upon entering.

“Ain’t ya forgettin’ somethin’?”

The Worgen paused for a moment and glanced down at the mace for a moment, before shaking his head, “No. Don’t wanna smash nothin’s head in. Wanna claw their faces off right now.”

She let out a snort, “Whatever gets all the anger out dear.”

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Walking the Edge: Light and Dark

There was the Light.

There had always been the Light. For as long as she could remember there had been the Light. The Light had been there when they had attended service in the Cathedral.

The Light was invoked at every turn.

A child was born, and there was the Light to help it along the way into this world. A family member died, and the Light was there to comfort those left behind and to guide those departed along. When things went wrong, it was cursed. When things went right, it was praised.

There was no 'turning' to the Light when she departed her family home to work in the Cathedral of Stormwind. Surely it was impossible to turn away from something so present. Everywhere she looked the Light either was, or was scratching to get to. It had not touched all within the city, but it was making an attempt to do so. Those whose lives had turned against them could still be bathed in its glow, and she could see it.

The warmth in their face when they were helped, the relief in their eyes when someone showed them kindness. The Light radiated through such people. It was something she could never truly describe in words, the way it made her feel. It was a guide, it was a presence, and it was a power. A power to heal and a power to touch people in ways that could do so much good.

But there was also the Dark.

She hadn't noticed it for the longest time. Not when she was a child. Her early days with the Church even went without any identification of this other entity's existence. Nothing in Stormwind had hinted at Its being either. In the face of all of those who still somehow spurned the Light, even knowing that such things as the undead and the demonic meandered through the city's streets, nothing gave her an inkling of the Void.

Until she left.

The thought of travel had been so thrilling. There was so much of the world left to experience, and so many other things the Light had touched that she had never seen, or helped. She wasn't, couldn't have been, told that where she was going was nothing short of the very shores of Twisting Nether itself. Had she been sent off to Pandaria just before its conflicts truly began? Or marched through some portal to a foreign world to face a threat she could still hardly comprehend? Perhaps it was both.

Each time she considered the matter it seemed to snap at her, gnawing away at what she recalled of either incident. She could still remember those beautiful beaches. The lush jungles. But could she? When she recalled them it was as though through the eyes of another. Like reading the story of one pushed to extremes.

Always the incident rushed back to her mind when committing to recollection. Someone, she used to think it was herself but could no longer make such a claim with any certainty, was all that was left. Their companions had fallen, to what she couldn't recall. Orcs? Hostile natives? Wildlife? They were dark, twisted figures in the image of her mind. What they were didn't matter, not in this context. The only thing of importance was what reached out to her in that time.

She had been told of ways to defend oneself with the Light. Ways to do harm with it as well. But she had never been taught them. The very idea of using the Light as some sort of weapon still brought a sickness to her stomach. In this case there was no possible amount of healing that was going to save her, and shields were going to only last so long. At that moment she had known it. In that other life she knew that soon she was likely to find herself in need of a burial, rather than delivering the sermon to go with one.

But then there was the voice.

Before it was impossible for her to claim that the Light had spoken to her. That any sort of deity had spoken to her before. Yet the voice called. And oh the things it whispered. Every single thing it said, all it promised, was terrible. But in such times of desperation terrible things can be the most useful. Her hands raised as her attackers had drawn on her. Beyond that she struggled to recall. Such memories were the first to be dismissed from her mind.

In the time since, she still drifted into such points. She knew as much. Far as she could still remember she had been kept on the front lines. Most memories of stuff were kept to times spent in tents, comforting the dying or attempting to prevent such. Still there were the flashes. Times outside of such encampments where the Dark returned to her life.

Even now having returned from such memories to Stormwind, it was impossible to escape it. Her attempts to return to normal were stilted. She could return to the routine, but in the back of her mind it ate at her. It still gnawed when it had already taken so much. The smiles were still warm, and the warmth of the cathedral still made her smile, but every action felt as though it conflicted with another.

Worse were the times when that gnawing turned to cutting. Cutting ways into her mind, filling it with voices. When there were not voices there was the Dark, and through those cuts the Dark bled in. The things it said, the claims it made. Again they were terrible but the way they were said made her believe them just as strongly as she believed in the Light. At times the only thing she could do to keep the thoughts at bay was to retire early, and scribble.

Scribbling helped. It was as though she pulled a plug on her brain and allowed that which had filled her mind to drain out. Often she could toss her journal aside when such was finished and return to what she had been doing prior. Other times she could not help herself put peer inside, to see what this other side of herself had been told. Not all that she wrote could be deciphered, but that which was likely haunted her dreams the night after.

The most terrifying thing they told her was what remained with her the longest, the idea that crept into her mind even when the whispers did not. The thing that created so many nightmares, even if it only made up a handful of the whispers.

"You will need us."

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Circle of Life, Cycle of Death


There's some saying about knowing your enemy. I assume the idea behind it was always that knowing your enemy meant that you knew how to deal with them which made the fight easier for you. At least part of that is wrong, far as I can tell. Because I know my enemy, and he still beats me into the ground without remorse.

By this point I know my enemy really freaking well. My enemy is an asshole in a pointy hat, who's about three times my height, has two giant swords, one that's coated in magic and the other in fire, and has a health bar that would make some of the undead entities I fought on the way here blush. Considering he's stationed in a giant cathedral in the center in a town full of them, I can only assume he's a religious figure. For the past three or more hours he and I have been getting very well acquainted.

Closing my eyes as I type this I can still see the cross shaped room this particular jerk sits in every time I walk through his door, with him waiting at the center of it. It's only once I cross a few of the pews that are stationed in there that he actually stands up, ignites his weapons, and comes to slash my head off. I know that my little pings of magic chip off of little chunk of his massive health bar, even though their 124 hits of damage would cut mine by at least a fifth. His attacks on the other hand can kill me if two manage to land, if I'm not wise enough to dodge through them.

These are some of the many constants running through this fight every time it's attempted. Like some hellish version of Groundhog's Day, we both go at it with the same tools, with the same arena, and with the same result. I even run past the same idiots on the way to the boss's room, which happens to be guarded by another idiot with a scythe, who ended a few runs prematurely with the fact that he could take out about 90% of my health bar in one swing if I didn't dodge it.

It's a classic David and Goliath thing. I think. Big person versus small person. Me versus big religious swordsman. Me in this case being a robed idiot armed with nothing more than a shield that's almost no use to me, and a giant magic stick. Constantly doomed to be knocked into the ground. That is until I get the fight down, at which point I'll get my reward of a few more level ups, a new quick travel point, and access to the next area, at which point the cycle starts anew.

Getting the fight down isn't that easy, on account of things changing up on you. Because once the boss hits half health he decides that one of him isn't enough. No. Now there's a clone of him that copies his moveset, which is widened to include such thrilling things as a ranged attack that will wipe out half of my health on its own. At which point things to go hell. For now.

Because that's how Dark Souls works. Or rather that's how the Souls series works, or the Soulsborne series as some like to call it. That's how Demon's Souls (which is one of the most odd titles to say in full, just give it a try), Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2, and Bloodborne all worked before this. And that's not just how the bosses work. That's how the entirety of the games work.

The areas even leading up to the bosses are trials in their own right. Making slow progress towards your next big foe is a long span of area you might be seeing time and time again. Or it might be something that you get right on the first go, at which point you might hit the next little warp point, or unlock shortcuts that lead to previous ones that let you scuttle on through ten times faster. It's these little rewards, on top of the gear you find and the levels you gain, that make it easier to keep going.

Just on the way here I crossed through a warehouse, a sewer, some kitchen, a church, a small decorated room, and an eerie city street. Along the way I had to conquer creepy half-invisible people, some armed with swords, others with magic, knights in armor, rabid undead dogs, and something that I can only describe as what happens when the girl from The Ring has sex with a spider.

All of that, just to get access to an elevator that takes me back to where I started. But an elevator that at the same time cuts down that run to the boss from an hour, to about thirty seconds. Which makes it much easier to fall into a "one more try" sort of rut, of just slamming your force into a boss until it goes down.

Not that there aren't easier methods. If I wanted, I could "summon" another player, or even an NPC if none were available, to assist me in my plight. It's an option that's there for everyone, and it's one that makes these games a bit more bearable for those not willing to waste their time as I am, and at the same time it's one way to build camaraderie in an uncaring world or spend some time with struggling friends. Except I happen to be stubborn and play these things as that I never summon people, because this is my fight and I'll finish it on my own.

I wanted to be able to end this thing by saying that I won. I've been typing it every time I hit a load screen, which happened to be my method for getting the reading I needed to get done tonight finished. But it really just isn't in the cards. Because despite knowing so much, really that's only part of the fight. Know your enemy all you want, if you aren't up to task you're not going to get the job done.

At some point, he'll be dead, and I won't be. But that still comes with the caveat that somewhere beyond him is another ruthless monster, probably more than a bit eldritch in nature, that's ready to eat me alive again.

At which point the hours of my life following that moment become forfeit.