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.