Caring for my Dark Souls
The things I do for my dark souls.
“Pack an extra pair of heavy boots, and a couple more insulated socks,” I instructed my maid, a young girl by the name of Raeni who just started a month ago. Her brother had been here somewhat longer, children of my butler, and she’d only recently been considered “old enough” to take the task. I liked her; I still missed Sara, even after all this time, but I do like Raeni so far. “Oh, and in the back of the winter wardrobe should be my fur-lined cloak. Summer or not, I shall require it in Icecrown.”
The young blonde made her way towards one of the wardrobes in my suite as I absently went through my travelling pack. I would need to brew a few more potions, including some warmth and frost resists. Absently I reached for my notebook and flipped a few pages to a clean sheet in order to start a list, which just happened to have been already started this morning in Dalaran when I agreed to embark upon this trip in the first place.
Rations for two weeks, 2 flasks of water, 1 flask of wine, flint and tinder, padded bedrolls…
My fingers traced the words as my lips curved in a wry smile as I remembered the atmosphere of the room and the intensity of the myriad emotions painted so starkly over each face, then set behind a mask they hoped the others could not perceive.
In a way I felt like an outsider there, in that dark room in the Ambitious Nathrezim that it seemed like everyone else was far more familiar with than I. It wasn’t that I was ignorant or unappreciative of the various hungers that were fed in such a bed, with such implements as were held in that rosewood chest that matched the one I saw briefly elsewhere. Oh no, I am quite familiar with those hungers, but not with this man, this Death Knight that the human warrior woman, the fel-twisted warlock, and my Prince of Flaws gazed upon in various degrees of desire and concern. Even Iloam, masking his hurt behind a carefully blank expression could not hide the worry and longing he felt for the Marquis completely, not from me.
Each of them had been in this room before, likely in the same place where the Marquis laid chained or similar rooms elsewhere, and by their demeanor and bearing, each one felt decidedly uncomfortable being the ones outside of chains while he lay within. Really it was fascinating to observe; I could understand it from Iloam of course, given his experiences with the Marquis’ methods, but to see it in these other two, especially the one I knew the Marquis loved above others… that was incredibly interesting to watch. How much power he still held over them while so weak.
For a moment I thought again – as I thought the night previous – that perhaps I should counter the Marquis’ offer to learn his methods with an offer to learn only if he submitted himself to my inexperience so that I would have a more hands on approach to the process. The thought amused me more than actually tempted me, however. I seriously doubted he’d let anyone, much less a little elf girl, whip him no matter the circumstances. Besides, Iloam caught the look in my eye, and I bet he knew what I was thinking – and he did not approve, not one little bit.
But it would be pretty damn funny and kind of great, I admit to myself with a private grin.
40 Embersilk bandages, anti-infection salve, 3 Embersilk nets, 2 changes of clothes…
My grin faded quickly as my mind returned for a moment to my list. It would be stupid to go alone, of course, no matter how confident I am of my skills or the Holy Light. I intended on bringing a small squad of House soldiers with me, and they would need supplies as well. Likely I could have suggested Iloam or one of the others to come with me, and for the Marquis they would have likely been eager to do so. But I saw the looks on their faces, and the look on HIS face. He felt so much self-loathing: my dark souls are good at self-loathing, and he had deeply hurt those he cared for. They loved him and wanted to care for him. I didn’t want to pull them away from this man they all loved when he needed them most.
So, I volunteered. It was only logical anyway. I was the one who wielded the Light, so would be most effective dealing with the undead. I could find a Scourge bladesmith who would perhaps have some knowledge regarding the repurposing of runeblades, in the hopes that we could lessen Ythgar’s sword’s impact on his psyche. They would then be able to stay with him and take care of him and see to his wellbeing personally. It was the optimal decision really.
And it would give Iloam time to deal with whatever pain he was dealing with. There was just so much anymore. Sometimes I despaired of ever seeing him really smile again.
“Should write him a letter,” I murmured to myself out-loud.
Raeni poked her head out of the wardrobe, green eyes blinking widely at me. “What was that, my Lady?” she asked, her voice so sweet. She was so young. She must be, maybe, 10 years younger than I. I suppose that’s not too young after all. Why does everyone seem so young to me?
“Oh, nothing, I was talking to myself,” I reassure her as I look back down to my list.
A towel, snow-shoes, shovel, rope, tent…
It wasn’t that I didn’t like the Marquis myself, of course. I do, actually, respect him quite a bit, and he’s quite companionable. He tends to understand my rationale on matters of leadership, and offers excellent advice given his experience. Certainly sin’dorei politics and interpersonal relationships seemed to escape him a great deal of the time, but I still valued the perspective and advice. I simply didn’t desire him. Not like they do. Well, to be completely honest with myself, that’s not entirely true. He can be extremely seductive and compelling when he wishes to be, and he knows exactly how to do It in a manner that, even while I intellectually know what he’s doing I cannot help the response. And I would be a liar if I were not to admit that I love getting male attention as much as the next girl.
But… he’s human. And… and old. And… dead. He’s an old, dead human. Eh.
So it’s strange, because I do admire him. I do respect him and like him, and yes, he knows exactly what he’s doing so that I could, in fact, forget the old, dead human part if I was of a mind. And, most of all, he respects me, and he seems to hear me and seems to actually want me, and being wanted is a very, very powerful thing. But Light. He’s Ythgar Vinguld. How much of that is even real? How much of what I offer him is real for that matter? Is he not the one who once told me, “You cannot claim any you do not love, and in that cathartic moment in which you truly know and understand them, you make them your own. … But I do not lie to have named myself evil, because make no mistake, my dear, I use the love I garner in reply as a tool…?” Then of course he said that is not at all what he wanted from me.
Of course he said that. What else WOULD he say? What would I have said? His actions have all backed up his words, of course, but of course they have. It is the sublime irony of a noble that we can never believe each other fully, for even the most honest truths are carefully twisted to suit our purposes. And I am very tired of being betrayed due to my own foolishness.
But even with his careful words, the Marquis still does not know what I truly want after all this time. I think, perhaps, that’s the only reason his blade was unable to entice me. If he knew, and the blade knew, perhaps it would have been a far more difficult matter than word games and bad jokes.
Iloam, of course, was what the evil sword tried to give me. I suppose it makes logical sense, and it is true it frustrates me on a primal level that he will never be fully mine. But having Iloam to myself is… a fairy tale, a real one. The kind where it seems so lovely and glorious at first, but at the end everyone regrets the terrible choices they made. I even tried to give you your heart's desire, precious, but you're terribly ungrateful. The sword tried to give me Iloam, it claimed, to take Ythgar out of the picture so that I could have him without the Marquis in the way. Light, I just got done dealing with Iloam mourning one person he loved, and the stupid blade thinks I want to deal with that AGAIN?!
“My Lady…” Raeni’s voice came from the wardrobe before she looked at me, worried. “I’m afraid… I cannot find the fur-cloak…”
My brows furrowed and I stepped closer to the wardrobe to peer in myself. “Did you check the summer wardrobe? Perhaps it was misplaced…”
“I did, my Lady, and it is not there,” she responded hurriedly, near panic. I realized then she was worried I would reprimand her for not carrying out my desire; as if she could help that the cloak was misplaced. She hadn’t even been working for me that long.
“It’s alright, Raeni, it might be at one of the other estates,” I offered her soothingly with a gentle smile and a hand on her shoulder. “I’ll see if we can get it by tomorrow before I leave, and if not I’ll purchase another in Dalaran. It’s not your fault,” I add, softly, meeting her gaze. “You did nothing that deserves punishment or blame. It was put away before your time.”
Raeni smiled up at me in relief and bobbed a light curtsey. “Thank you, my Lady. I shall get a hold of someone from Orgrimmar and Uldum right away.” Then she turned to my bags and resumed packing my other things.
My warm, gentle smile remained as I watched her a moment. My people looked out for me, but so often they required direction and encouragement as well. Much like my dark souls, though often, they needed it more. With a sigh I look back down to my list and continued adding to it.
Argent Crusade tabard, chains, shackles, enchanted weaponry, shadow protected armor…
I began to write down the ingredients for the potions I would need as my thoughts lingered on the needs of my dark souls. My heart ached for them, more than I cared to admit. They hated themselves so deeply, and made so many sacrifices for others without any hope of return or redemption. Believing themselves unfit for salvation, they still choose to try. They still love. If only they could be encouraged more, and shown that those efforts MEAN something.
They certainly mean something to me.
The sword and the Marquis would never guess what I wanted, and even if they did, both would laugh and scoff at the impossibility of my goals. Alainthal and Synnaquin and others who had long given up on themselves would never guess. Iloam is the closest, but I’m almost certain even he would never believe I was mad enough to risk so much for those who who were already damned and weren’t worth it. Those like him, who somehow still longed to be. But if such dark, wicked people still reached out, and loved, and tried so much for the good of others besides themselves when it came so hard to them… how were they less worthy of salvation than to those it comes easier to? They fought so hard… I would see that their fight actually MEANT something.
I want to take care of them. To save the ones I can, and ease the ones I cannot. Even if it means I lose everything, if they gain the redemption they believe they are unworthy of, then every sacrifice is worth it.
I want Iloam to be happy. I want him to be free.