Exarch Menelaous had met an old friend. In normal circumstances Ole Hannevold would have felt pleased for him, but in this particular case he was practically ecstatic.
((Unspecified day last week!))
Like so many city adventures, this one began with a window.
Your face appears again, I see the beauty there
But I see danger, stranger beware
A circumstance in your naked dreams
Your affection is not what it seems
My fantasy has turned to madness
All my goodness has turned to badness
My need to possess you has consumed my soul
My life is trembling, I have no control
I will have you, yes I will have you
I will find a way and I will have you
Like a butterfly, a wild butterfly
I will collect you and capture you
Looking over the Landing, perched in a tree. A bird. What kind of bird, though?
A Bird of paradise--An ornament? Preening and elegant?
A Songbird--Kept for entertainment? Hopping among perches to sing?
A Raptor--A fierce tool? Jesses on my ankles?
If I jump out, will I fall or fly? Doesn't matter. Cages.
My body moved like a machine as the recorders trilled, mind spinning and whirling. I touched wrist to wrist, met eyes, and let my feet shift and slide, the steps of the elaborate dance requiring little actual thought. The body remembers. My partners, all highborn Stormwind noble women, giggled and flirted, and I replied in kind, barely noting what sly subtle teasings I rumbled, shaping my voice deep and commanding, so used to these fine simple dances of word and glance and body that in truth, I needed no great conscious effort and could permit my mind to work away at recent events beneath the whine of women and the deeper rhythm of my own comments.
The bay gelding shuffles under me and snorts, still skittish from the strange weight on his back and the smell of blood. I pat the horse's neck and mutter something reassuring. His former owner, or what's left of him, is lying by the road a mile or two back.
Vinguld's chief gentleman-in-waiting bows from the doorway. "You asked to see me, my lady?" My relationship with the marquis' senior servants is tense. They're better born than I am and aren't shy about letting me know it. They're pretty subtle for the most part - like the man's bow, just barely deep enough to be polite, and nowhere near as deep as he'd give Vinguld.
I tap the box. "We've just had a threat against his lordship. Might be serious so I thought you should know. I'm having the house locked up tight and the wards raised."
We never do find a mage that night.
IN MY HOME! IN MY BEDROOM! Where my wife sleeps... and my children play with their toys. - The Godfather II
I can forgive a great many things.
There are things a man does not forgive or forget. Yet even in the throes of absolute rage, you have to consider every alternative. Every option. Will killing this man threaten those you love more than leaving him alive? If you let him live.. how to you ensure that it is your hand resting on the collar you strap about his neck?
I could have forgiven just the attack on my own person.
Recent events make me wonder how I have changed. Who I have become. How this world has changed, and I with it.
Tonight I sat at my noisy club in the belly of Dalaran. I drained every stored iota to do what I did to that warlock. I hope she's unaware of that - it's a limit of mine, and I don't particularly like enemies to know my limits.
Is she an enemy? I suppose that remains to be seen.
“I've seen enough.”
Cold wind whipped along the coast of Lake Lordamere, rustling through the leaves of the trees. Bellani had watched the pair, listened to them talk. Listened to the two of them dance around what they both wanted to say and lie about what they meant. They were both pathetic. The two elves sat on top of an old wooden storage shed at the end of a tiny pier. The red headed one who was all hurt and venom, throwing her cigarettes in the water in anger and disgust, and the dark-haired one with her dimple and her stupid bangles, who sat there with her hand on her belly just taking the other's abuse. Bellani couldn't believe that one of them was herself.
A few words can throw a bloke off balance with the same weight of a mace or great sword. Resulting in a stumble. A trip. A staggering fall.
When you’re outside the jungle and someone asks you to describe it, you’re likely to say “hot.” When you’re in the jungle and you want to describe it, suddenly your words get a bit more descriptive: “suffocatin,” “swelterin,” “blisterin,” “stiflin,” “mucky.” Un-bloody-bearable.
The sun was beating down on us so ‘ard I’m pretty sure me forehead was developing a bruise. More likely it was the fairly nasty beginning to a sunburn that would end up in even more freckles for Kharris to count when I got back. She’d be having a field day with me shoulders and the tip of me ears as well. I felt a bit like a wee peach that had been shoved in a wet, muggy oven – my soft skin heating beyond its tolerance and bubbling up. I’d be cracked and oozing in a few days, without a good spell or healing potion.
We were ambling along through enormous rubber plant leaves and swinging vines that brushed past our legs and shoulders as the raptor under us swayed through the jungle brush. I wiped the back of me hand over my forehead for likely the hundredth time that hour and it felt like I’d conquered Mount Hyjal in that single raise and fall of an arm. I bit back on the complaint about the heat that I wanted to pointlessly whine at my riding companion. I silently applauded my manliness in refusing to complain and then, as wantonly as any tartlette with a case of the vapors, leaned back against the enormous black Gurubashi pressed to me back. Balla’s skin felt cool and hard against mine and he smelled pungent – we both did – but it was somehow comforting. He smelled like the jungle; he smelled like sweat and sex and sun-drenched skin; he smelled a bit coppery and dirty from the grit of the ride and it was like laying against an enormous shadow panther. There were all sorts of nasties that could jump out at us at a moments notice and I should have had me guard up, but with him behind me, his arms circling to hold the reigns and his huge, bone tusks brushing affectionately against me shoulder as we rode towards Zul’Gurub… I embraced me inner dandy and laid back into his safety as me mind wandered over the exhausting events of the past few days.
At length, all was explained to him. What he had somehow known all along now had words to accompany, and the terrible weight of what he feared had settled onto his chest like some sort of… well… there really was no avoiding it, now… parasite.
What had lain dormant about his neck, just beneath the skin, was a system of veins and alien flesh belonging to an entity of the Nether, a slow rotting sucker that sunk a million invisible, tiny claws into his flesh and worked to drain him of every ounce of energy he possessed. It began first with his necrotic energy, the unholy force that gave him unnatural life. When this slow, even source was too little sustenance, it then fed on the energy other healers gave him in their attempts to ease his pain. That allowed it to swell and grow, growling and stirring in raw pleasure of an appeased hunger.
The rogue has trouble with jealousy. I’m not surprised but I’m shocked he even thinks I have any knowledge of this. If I was under Ythgar’s ‘’magics’’, I’d certainly be the last person to be aware of it’s existence. ‘’Iloam. Get a grip. No one’s doing anything of the sort. Kharris has not been exposed to anything she didn’t feel comfortable with. Ythgar’s not warping anyone. If anything, Theryl and Kharris bring a positive change to the rather dark ways things are done. And of both of them, only Theryl is truly involved in the Marquis’s affairs. She knew about the murder before my people told her. Which means he told her to take care of it. She came to my club and threw her weight around, saying I was to never again do anything without her consent or the marquis’s. I think she’s allowed to make her own choices, don’t you?’’
It’s mid-afternoon in. The rain is cold, the sort that makes people want to get off the streets fast or huddle under cloaks. Most of the guards stand under doorways and mutter directions to tourists with a sort of misery to their voices. The smells of warm Winter food, fresh bread and crackling meats pour from taverns and bakeries, as well as little tucked away shops along backstreet cobblestone alleys.
I’m walking about, the rain doesn’t touch me. A device that was gifted to me evaporates it before it lands on my person. Normally, people in Dalaran are mostly would be heroes, villains and other various people of importance. Each of them glows with their physical pasts. I see them through their experiences. Like a flow of moving pictures, moments where their sensations were pleasant, from a simple hug, a kiss, to their wedding night.
My participation had cost me. I stumbled out of the front doors of the club, catching myself with hands and knees on the cobble stone. The guards at the door paid me no mind, I was just another drunk patron and there wasn’t enough blood to be concerned about. Dalaran spun around me, blurs of colors, faces, walls I would collide into. I was disorientated, sick, fel raced through my blood like so much fire. Everything on me hurt, the teeth marks on my neck and collar bone and the deep slices on each palm were the leaders in the throbbing melody my body had become. Warlock magic is a fickle thing, one must give to receive, the only reason I was so dangerous is because I held no self preservation, I drained myself dry on a regular basis, laid my life in the hands of my magic, and would expel my very soul if it meant I accomplished my means. Just another half mad warlock…….
She was asleep, finally. Couldn't blame the poor thing after all she'd been through in the last couple of days. Kharris was clinging to Iloam, her hair spread across the pillow like a flood of ink. I drew a blanket over the pair and went in search of food; Elune only knew when the last time the two of them had anything to eat. As close as I'd been to both of them, there was something there I couldn't share. Maybe that was a good thing, maybe some things aren't meant for sharing. I'd seen the same thing flit across Ixinane's face during the exorcism. It occurred to me that maybe I'd been a little unfair to her. Didn't mean I liked or trusted her, but everything I'd heard about her had been from Kharris; who might be a little biased. Just a little. Not that I could blame her.
My focus wasn't really there when I followed the blood elf in. Ixinane shoved open the door with all the assured and controlled anger she could muster, but I wasn't particularly interested in admiring the way her hips swung or her fel magic roiled off in waves.
I had rather a more important task.
In my full battle attire, I bodily hauled a Scourge death knight I'd chained. He was light. He'd refused even the death coils I'd offered him for healing, so his arms were in splints under the bindings. His saronite had been stripped from him and sold to a merchant at my orders, and he was clad in no more than thick fur padding. Tattered at that.
I was reasonably sure that even if he did somehow break loose, I could control him. The difficulty was in the restrictions placed upon me; not actually destroying him. As with my means of controlling the possessed rogue, it was an arclight spanner thrown at a mechano-hog, really.
(( I feel it's important to mention. This is, as always, HIS point of view. His vision of things. The internal monologue, the first person I use in most of my blogs, are my way of showing that it's what he perceives as the truth, not the truth itself. I apologize if I ever made some think otherwise. ))
In chess, the final stage is called the end game.
There are only a few pieces left on the board and the pawns, ordinary foot soldiers in a game of powerfull knights and bishops, suddenly become very important.
Sometimes, a game's outcome resides on a single pawn.
It seems easy enough to see life's challenges as chess games.
Each situation brings you a different game, to which you have your pieces to play.
But the trouble with chess games is that it dosen't take into account the player's frame of mind.
((Three letters and two packages travel through the mail))
I often wonder if demons are really so different from us.
Everyone's there. Waiting.
Iloam's in the chair. I can see his heart racing. The pain of his wrists and ankles chaffed by the iron bands holding him down.
I do what I can. Ease his discomfort. A drop of water in a lake, compared to what's coming. I wish I could give him a taste from our session from last night. The boy has talents. I'll give him that. And his fantasy? Oh my. Ironically, all of the actors are in the same room right now. However, two of them want to kill the third one. Not the same conclusion to our session from last night.
My new shadow is by my side. No one questions her presence. No one cares I suppose. Of all the people in the room, I'm the least dangerous. And yet, I'm the only one the demon can't hurt. It's ironic.
The wretched newt was waiting obediently when I left my rooms at the Hero's Welcome.
The meeting with the demon Tithe had gone much as I had expected, he snarled, I bled and in the end I managed to weasel out the information I need and strike a deal with the hellspawn. He had given up how he had attached himself to Iloam, regrettably it landed on me. Once I had eaten Iloam’s soul, but even though I gave it back, the very act had left a rift in both his soul and my own. Tithe it would seem had hitched a ride on that rift. The thought it self made me shiver, if a demon could ride the rift in ones soul… what else could find its way in there?
My scowl returned as I left the Heroes' Welcome. Lord Vinguld's note had been alarmingly terse, just "I need you." and nothing more. He'd let me in on what'd happened, Iloam's demon had gone nuts and half-eaten one of Vinguld's toys. Then Drakys had made things worse by calling in Ixiwhatsits. So we had some problems.
First problem was disposing of the body. Normally, I'd have considered dumping it off the edge. Between the fall and the scavengers there wouldn't be much left by the time anyone found it. Problem was, the girl's father was a mage and we needed to make sure no one tried any scrying or other funny stuff. What we needed was a reason for the family not to look into things.
Nether-cursed wretched blood elves.
In the span of no more than a few hours I lost Isirami to a demon-possessed idiot boy whom my Kharris adores. Who ate Isirami for the most part. IN MY CLUB. Drakys's but still. Then attacked Drakys, causing me to intervene. The little wretch attacked me as this 'Tithe' AND as Iloam.
Now I have a blood elf trollop determined to go find a body for a demon - I'll not permit her touch anything innocent or living for that matter - whom my Kharris fears and hates. I have Iloam/Tithe tied up in the club's basement with Kharris hovering like the mayfly she rather resembled in the demon's laughing grip last night, and Light help either the elf OR the demon if they irritate me further, or it won't be the pommel hitting their fel-damned skull. I think Drakys is all right - I know my pet is not.
-Iloam is possessed by a demon.-
-He ate the daugther of someone important from the Kirin Tor.-
-The previous statement was not an error in transmission.-
-Ythgar has him in a locked room with Kharris.-
-Kharris has gone insane, as she continues to love him despite his new diet.-
-Their plan is to find a new host for this demon.-
-My plan was to tell the Kirin tor father of a half eaten daughter about Iloam, have them locked him up in the Violet Hold forever.-
-Ixinane has a plan to help Iloam.-
-I have decided to profit from her loving Iloam, and blackmailed her into providing me protection from her own vengefull wrath, along with Iloam's, in exchange, I keep the vial of blood from the man's daugther from ever reaching the Kirin tor's seers.-
Goldshire's sun was setting, the peaked houses casting long shadows over the dusty town square. Outside the Lion's Pride, raucous voices shouted encouragement to yet another pointless wrestling match between a hulking Kal'dorei fighter and a badly scarred Draenei whose eyes betrayed him as undead. Beyond the crowd, townsfolk walked here and there, finishing their business for the day, locking up their shops, and generally either joining the crowd, entering the taproom's pleasant confines, or throwing coins at a slender girl of elven extraction dancing half nude by the signpost at the corner of the square. As parts of the town dimmed, others were just waking, and with a laugh, wooden shutters opened on a second storey of one of the larger houses, a buxom woman leaning out and calling down to the assembled men. Her beauty spot was sliding into her ample decolletage, and her hair's brilliant red was as artificial as so much of Goldshire's daily facade.
The Warlock didn't like the idea of leaving the Warrior in light of what was radiating from her. But the quicker she left on her errand, the quicker she'd be back to talk with Theryl, before the red-head got herself into more trouble.
Celise traveled to a place where she knew the Nether was the most dense. Her eyes burned slightly as she stood there for a moment in hesitation as she mentally checked her bag slung over a shoulder. Feeling for the pendant once more in the inside pocket of her vest and finding it there, she took a slight breath and stepped forward. Anyone watching from a distance would see a dark cloud envelope her and pull her into itself like an angry lover.
The meeting with Theryl's friend seemed to have gone well, and in the end, the Warlock agreed to enter the Nether to retrieve Iloam, or at least try to. It had been a while since she was there anyway. The fact that Iloam wasn't fond of Warlocks could make Celise's task more difficult. The thought of it made her shift in her chair as she spoke with Kharris.
All through the meeting, Theryl hadn't said much. Celise had to intentionally focus on her conversation with Kharris because she was sensing something from the Warrior. She felt mixed emotions emanating from Theryl, but the Warlock's face betrayed nothing. She nonchalantly sniffed at the air more than once while at the elf's apartment, occasionally glancing at her friend. She'd not forgotten the word she'd heard her utter from afar, and it still left an unsettling in her stomach that wouldn't go away.
It's time to get out of the tub; skin's getting all wrinkly again. Not like there's much else to do but stare out the window. I'll give it a little and take another one, not that it will help. I ought to eat, but nothing wants to stay down. Sometimes, I just break down and cry for no reason.
I'm holed up in a hotel in Dalaran. A place I don't usually go, but it's private and they have all the hot water you want. Piped up to the room from somewhere and heated by some magic or other. Even have a thing where I can stand under the water and let it run over me. But it's not enough and not hot enough. There's no water hot enough to scrub this away. My skin's raw from the scrubbing I've given it. I shift a little and the hot water stings the marks he's left. The welts, the burns, abrasions, and bites. They'll heal soon enough; will I?
For weeks, I have watched. Silent even when my heart sings for him.
Months, I have waited. Still, though I am stirred.