Rotface

She lay on her back for a moment, resting her tired feet, crunching the rather tasteless wafer Wrynna’d summoned for the group. 

“Everyone is doing great,” Taslor re-assured them. “Scourgebane and the others have secured the wing behind us, and the Argent Crusade is clearing the scourge from the ramparts.”

“He’s got the easy work, then,” Poundlord said, wiping his mouth of water with the back of his wrist.  Kadrian smiled, but the paladin shrugged. “You volunteered, Poundlord,” he reminded.  Poundlord shrugged absently and stroked his hand lightly across the hilt of his mace, emblazoned with images of the Light, bright and powerful…and yet, after all their battles, untarnished. Kadrian took another piece of the flat cakes and nibbled on it. They were nourishing, to a point, refilling, albeit tasteless, yet in some magic manner her weary muscles and heavy heart felt somewhat renewed.  For indeed, her very soul felt weighed down.  She could tell it was not just herself.  Supernovay and Chrystal, the two youngest of their group, seemed to have made it their job to keep the spirits of the group up, but even they were flagging under the heavy atmosphere of death and despair. It was hard to believe there were places still where the sun shown, where there grew grass or flowers when surrounded by the terrible horned, grinning skulls of some dead animal, when whispers of error and far-off screams of agony echoed in the strangely silent cathedral of death.  She shivered and sat up, shaking her short, black hair out of her face. 

“Did ye see what be around that bend,” Casthor murmured to Majicah.  “A creature like I’ve never seen!”  Even the normally raucous dwarf was uncharacteristically silent and cowed, which spoke more than anything else.

“An abomination,” Majicah agreed. “But unlike any I’ve ever seen…”  Her eyes slid to Taslor, where some silent message seemed to pass.  The paladin stood and hefted his shield upon his forearm.

“Come on. It does us nothing to sit here, dreading what Arthas throws at us next.  We’d better move on, before we loose what tentative foothold we have.” Knowing sighs greeted this unfortunate truth, but the group stood.  Taslor glanced at Kadrian Continue reading

Advertisements
By Kadriun Posted in WoW

Ready Check

She stood just outside the group, by herself, a bit of a self-appointed position as much as it was the spot for a paid mercenary to be. After all, most of the group already knew each other from previous campaigns.  She was, in this instance, the odd one out.  But she couldn’t be gladder to be here, nonetheless.  Kadrian gazed up at the gate, battered and beaten down by the enourmous ram that now stood just before the tall entrance to the citadel. Soldiers of Fording’s Argent Crusade, actually in concert with members of the Ebon Blade for once, were making a stand against the consistent influx of scourge determined to shut off their brief breakthrough into the Lich’s kings domain.

“You with us, Kadrian?”  a voice broke through her musings.  Her head shot around, and she nodded wordlessly at the paladin who’d hired her. He was a friendly sort, determined, passionate about order to a point it might have been obsessive, but he ran a tight ship.  She’d never had any reason to disapprove of his campaigns. He nodded and turned away, checking everyone else.  She watched the rest of the group, her fingers tracing the edge of her daggers thoughtfully.  The priest seemed nervous, unduly so.  But then again, people of the Light, like them, rarely were forced away from their cathedrals.  Even battle priests had a right be wary.  Kadrian was not religious by any means, but even she could feel it…the ‘wrongness’ in the air, in the very ground.  The priest was right to be anxious, and she glanced at the holy paladin, who stood chatting casually with one of the mages.  She could see a tension in his dwarven body too, a tightness in his eyes that bespoke his discomfort.  Her gaze passed over him to his companion, a tall human mage, her face open and friendly.  It was clear they’d been friends for some time, their body language was very casual, and Kadrian could almost see something more in the mage’s eyes as she looked upon her dwarven companion.   She stifled a snort of laughter.  A human and a dwarf coupling was not unheard of, per se, but…she shook her head of that idea and moved on to study the druids.  There were two of them-standing apart, both night elven.  At this moment, neither were shape shifted, and Kadrian was glad for it. There was something inherently…unnerving about the ability to change one’s form, no matter how magic it was.  All she needed were simple spells, really nothing more than tricks.  The idea that one could patch into the nether or ley lines of Azeroth to physically change one’s shape…well, she’d seen a warlock transform into a demon once, and had barely kept her supper.   One of the druids however, and Kadrian was truly surprised when she saw his face, was incredibly young. Even for a night elf-she wouldn’t have put him past 70 years, merely a child in human terms.  He caught her looking at him, and to her surprise, didn’t blush or look away.  He caught her gaze securely, and smiled.  Kadrian found herself smiling back.

The other druid, this one female, seemed to be making it her life’s work to antagonize the priest: she was taking it well: Kad guessed one had to store patience in spades, being religious…come to think of it, that druid looked quite young, too. She shook her head. What would the dread atmosphere, the cold, bitter bite of death inside the citadel do to those grinning faces? Kadrian looked away, smiling a bit as the druid started tugging the priest’s staff out of her hands, moved her eyes across the way to another paladin, although he had forsworn his shield and instead wielded two-Kadrian winced inwardly—very heavy-looking swords.   They seemed to come out of the cracks, these heavily-armored warriors.  She didn’t know what to think about the Light. Of course, she couldn’t deny its existence, the mere idea and abilities of priests, paladins, even dark priests were clear indications that it was a real, true, power. One that, apparently, worked in the hands of those who did good. After all, she thought…Arthas, the Lich King, had been a paladin, once. But the Light-it had stopped working in his abilities shortly after his treacherous actions in Stratholme…Kadrian shuddered with anger.  She’d had friends in that city….

No, paladins seemed to be everywhere, nowadays.  The deathly, necromantic magic of the scourge and the death knights drew them and the Light like bugs.  And speaking of death knights …

Now, there was one group of…if you could still call them, ‘people,’ Kadrian felt truly afraid of.  Not that she would EVER admit it…but…how could you trust…I mean, really trust them?  She glanced at him. He was unnaturally tall, it seemed, and held his head high, the death glow of his blue-silver eyes bitter, even if she couldn’t really see the pupils within.  His long elven hair had turned the silver-grey of all death knights, like the cadaverous white of the undead.  But then again, she thought to herself: he was, technically, dead.  Or undead.  It was confusing to think about it sometimes.  She looked away swiftly, noticing his tight grip of the great bone-axe he had slung across his shoulder. As if the weapon itself wasn’t fearsome enough, taller than she was, spiked with real bones, sharpened to glisten in the snow and icy glare– he’d not even cleaned it from the last battle–dark stains covered the serrated edge of the blade.   She didn’t wait for him to notice her watching him and looked away to the last member: and Kadrian wondered again how such a small people could have been made a part of the Alliance.  They were only three feet tall!

The gnome mage was grinning widely as she teased the other human mage and the dwarf, who took it with well-worn ease. Kadrian tried to take the magical caster seriously, but sometimes…at least this one had fashion sense.  Kadrian had been given a contract on one gnome once that had sported PINK PIGTAILS.  She’d fulfilled that contract with a bit of personal glee herself.

So that was their group.  Just a mere 10 people–augmented of course, with whatever the Ebon Blade and Fordring could spare…against the entire scourge citadel. Kadrian snorted.  Yes, that was a fair fight.  Naturally, Fording could claim they were the best, Kadriun knew they would not have been standing there if they’d not ‘performed’ well enough at that stupid tournament. Even the gnome.  She glanced at the short mage out of the corner of her eye and stifled her grins.  The mental image of the three-foot gnome on those smoking, noisy machines with a jousting lance 7 feet long….

Dropping his tabard declaring his allegiance to the Argent Crusade over his broad shoulders, the paladin  motioned her forward to join the group, entering into his generally long-winded but still informative speech on what they were to expect. She took out her vials, both almost glowing with the fierce poisons she brewed just this morning.  It was best to use recent brews: they lost their potency after a few days.  Flipping off the cork with her thumb, she gingerly coasted the edge of her blades with the sickly green substance, careful to avoid getting it on her bare fingertips as much as she nimbly avoided the razor-sharp edge of the weapons themselves.  It bubbled and hissed upon contact with the enchanted metal, but, enchanted as it was, the corrosive stuff had no effect. Once finished, she slid both daggers back into their sheaths upon her hips, and looked back up.  They were ready.  She was ready.  She nodded to their leader: he turned, and led them all into the dark maw of the doorway.

By Kadriun Posted in WoW

Jousting–not so much

Eyes half-open and glazed with tiredness, Kadrian rubbed her fingers wearily across her temple. The barely-hidden stench of rotting refuse lingered in the air, but it was a quiet air, not the stringent, cloying and annoying clatter from the taverns along the main drag of Dalaran.  Here, at least: she could handle the smell as long as she could sit in peace.

Well, relative peace.  As a whole, the sewers were not the safest place to be, and certain areas not even she would step foot in.  But this little corner she’d claimed.  Actually, one couldn’t even see it from behind the stacked crates and Ajay’s bar.  A stifled splash echoed off the wooden rafters below and she smiled faintly.  Having fished once before herself in the sewers, sometimes one could find some interesting stuff. Just don’t try and cook any of the fish you catch.  The resulting effect was almost as trippy as the time she’d once tried to snort the Zangarmarsh mushroom powder.   She hadn’t been able to see straight for days. 

Kadrian took a deep, tired sigh and another sip of the cider before her. For all the good the Criers were calling the efforts of the Argent Crusade up in northern Icecrown, Kadrian found her willingness to continue in the increasingly farcical activities harder and harder.  Certainly, as she spent day after day running, for lack of better words, “errands” for the powers that be, her purse was growing fatter-and for a mercenary that was no small pleasure nor goal, but the REASON had long ceased to feel sincere. Kadrian had long abandoned the faction-separate ideologies—indeed, a good many friends in her life had been Horde: Lu’labre, a fellow rogue, whom perhaps she missed most of all up here: the troll had objected (for reasons Kad herself was beginning to understand more fully) to the Tournament as a whole and had insisted on staying in the coniferous Grizzly Hills, fighting against the scourge troll, whom she saw as a personal affront to troll-dom as a whole.  Or Kark.  An orc warrior, with an unusual penchant (as far as orcs were concerned), with history and lore. He kept it a secret, naturally, but she’d always enjoyed teasing him about it as much as listening to him.  Or Patraok. Her eyes hardened as she stared into the scarred table.  Her best friend in the world, her mentor…had been a blood elf. She felt the anger beginning to stir within her, coursing in her heated blood, and forced herself to take her mind off the treacherous elf. She took a much larger drink of the cider, scalding the back of her throat in effort to move to a different train of thought. 

No, for all the good Fordring claimed it was to sharpen each other against themselves, Kadrian was just about through with it all. She had listened to the Confessor’s sermons, and had been cheered by the ideas, and had entertained the hope that it might stick in the minds of the more stubborn valiants.  But for someone already hardened to battle-and personally affected by the Scourge-the entire thing seemed a waste of time.  She was ready to move on to a more…well, a real, worthwhile goal.  And knocking others off their mounts with a 5-lengh wooden stick was not really one of them, no matter how much gold they prized her battle skill worth. No matter how many cultists she killed, there were always more. One had to cut off the head, not slice off the fingers.

Closing her eyes, she could see the Citadel rising from the glacier like great blades, gilded with grinning skulls and sneering eyes.  A hand fingered with a scrap of parchment in the pocket of her vest. It had a single name on it-the name of a paladin who, supposedly, had earned a spot in the vanguard of the attack upon the upper east gate of the scourge citadel.  A great number of Light-followers disdained those of her profession, but this particular one had not been so close-minded.  And, she noted with a bit of humor, NOT stealing from your companions during  campaign does make one go far in retaining contracts for the future.

 Apprentice Nelphi had called it the Forge of Souls-the jumping point into the Lich King’s domain. And wonder of wonders, Lady Jaina Proudmoore her-high and mighty-self was leading the attack.  Finally, SOMEone was doing something.  A satisfied smile slowly creased her face: abruptly she stood, shoved the bench away from the table, and folded, with deft fingers, the piece of parchment back into her pocket. Perhaps that paladin still had a spot open for her.  A wooden lance leaned forlornly against the wall opposite the empty table, forgotten.

My Dearest sister…

My dear sister,

 

I know I am likely the last person you want to hear from right now.  After all, I’m the reason you left, no? At least, that is what I feel.  I would not blame you for dropping this letter where it is.  How you must despise me.

But truly, Maris, I didn’t want you to leave.  And I don’t hate you.  You are my only sister, my twin.  The only other family I have.  Do you think mother truly cares for me like a mother should?  Of course, she trains me, she provides for me.  But what am I but a prize she can parade around the city? She thrives in it. 

But now, with whom can I talk, laugh, or play with?  Who can sit with me in the branches of the split oak and giggle about the passerby?  (All right, maybe you wouldn’t giggle, you never did, but I would). I wish you hadn’t gone.  Things have become so unbearable here.  Everywhere the Muses are called to action…”find the dark sorceress,” they cry.  They beg me to join them in the song searches, but sister, I cannot.  Mother has taken to telling them I am sick because I refuse to join.  She is very angry with me.  And so I’ve been grounded, restrained to the grounds for many months now.  Several times I’ve tried to sabotage these searches.  Of course, mother found out, and I was punished.  Oh, but Maris, I could never turn you in.  I think Mother knows that. Sometimes I see her look at me with such hatred in her eyes…and I imagine she sees you.  It breaks my heart—not because she looks at me that way, but because she would be looking at you. I stay locked away in the manor now.  But I prefer the solitude now anyway. 

And you know…all the days before you left, the parties, the ceremony, the popularity and the pomp…leading up to my glorious ascension to the Muses Circle.  I’m sorry for all of it now.  I hadn’t realized how much of my attitudes had hurt you.  How little I cared that you were being shoved to the background.  I was so obsessed with my own wonderful life.  They loved me; they adored me.  I swallowed all the attention, the sweet wine of infamy and begged for more. And you were starving.  Deep down, I knew it must have hurt you, how I turned to mother and the others, and left you behind. But I ignored it. 

Maris, I almost destroyed the bond we have together.  I can feel it, sometimes, when things are silent. It is strained, weak…like the music within you and me is being broken by the distance we are apart. When one of us is especially emotional, it becomes stronger.  I should have noticed, that day you left.  You certainly were angry. But then again, I was so happy to be the newest darling of the Suzeday Festival.  So I ignored it.

But I’m not ignoring it now. I am writing this from your own room.  A little bit of your presence still remains, still lingers.  How many times did you sit at this window, leaning out to watch the processions far down on the promenade? 

I don’t think you’re bad, or evil.  I don’t care if you have the supposed ‘dark’ power of Sayla.  I wish I could have heard you sing.  It was beautiful, what you did, when I can remember. I dream of it, sometimes.  But I won’t deny that it was frightening.  It was terrifying, the melody you made.  So much power.  If that’s what you intended by it, then, by Sayla herself, Maris, you did it.  Pardon my attempt at levity, but I think Gorva might have soiled her shift! 

But if you could find it somewhere, in your heart to forgive me, I wish you would.  I would give anything to have you back.  Or at least to know that you love me.  Because no matter what you do, I love you.  I won’t help them find you.  Whatever you are doing, where ever this bird finds you, I hope you are well.  I love you.

 

                                                Your sister,

Miriam.

“Maris?” 

The sorceress folded the letter twice over swiftly and stuffed it down her shirt, the double jerkin and heavy fleece easily hiding the bulge.  Laren came around the corner with narrowed eyes, and frowned when she saw Maris sitting, cross-legged, on the straw.

“Are you coming?”

“Yeah.  Coming.” The sorceress stood in one swift, graceful motion, her legs unfolding from underneath as she pikced up a tall staff leaning against the wall.  Laren tilted her head, quizzically.

“Are you alright?” The windrunner started to lift her hand, the webbing between her fingers spreading, but Maris shot her a scathing glance, and she subsided.  The sorceress pushed past her, but Laren opened her webbing the tiniest bit, testing the lines, but refrained from make a weave.

“I’m fine. Lets go.”  Maris sniffed and wiped her nose. “Damn hay. Makes my nose itch.” The Windrunner rocked on her heels. Maris kept a shocking silence in her aura: all emotions vibrated the laylines, but the sorceress had an aura like the center doldrums.  but not now.  Laren watched as Maris left, her face sofening. She’d never seen the sorceress act like that.  And she’d never, ever ever seen her shed tears.