Ich will dass ihr mir glaubt
I hugged my knees to my chest and watched Giles Jackson driving his flocks in for the evening. There was just the faintest bit of chill to the late summer breeze and a hint in the air that it might rain tonight. Out back of the Miller's house was the cowshed Pete and his brothers had turned into a cottage. He'd be there, bouncing Maybelle on his knee, waiting for me to come home. I shifted my feet, feeling the soft, sheep clipped grass between my toes. It was always like this here, just around harvest time in a little pocket of the Lordaeron of eight years or so ago. Just over the hills, the memories faded into the misty green of the Dream; only the road south lay open, running down to that November morning in Alterac where my old life had died.
Ythgar stood in the study at his townhouse in Stormwind. The servants were engaged in cleaning up what was left in his workroom, and he'd closed this door after tidying himself and changing clothes. Balance, after all, was essential. To do kindnesses, one should remember what one was, and refresh the memory should it grow dim, lest one begin to fancy oneself some shining knight again.
He knew full well he was no knight. The muffled screams from an hour prior, no more, had made that abundantly clear. The hunger for death coiled inside him was sleeping now, sated, and his older, darker hunger for power was nestled with it. As he carefully traced out the pattern on the floor - interesting how he had a marker. The last owner of this house still had secrets he'd not fully plumbed - he half smiled, fancying his twin demons curled like puppies in the ruins of his soul.
The wind off the mountains was cold, but bracing. I took deep breath of the fresh air and smiled as I walked after the Scarlet death knight who was trying to drag himself away from me. No need to hurry, he wasn't going far with a broken hip. Scarlet death knights. I made a face; what was the world coming to? The Crusade used to have some standards. And now ... now those undead bastards were everywhere, like Ythgar Vinguld.
The cold light of a Darnassian dawn filtered through the curtains of Celise's spare bedroom. She'd been glad to see me and I'd filled her in on what was going on. She'd agreed to help, now it was just a matter of getting her and Kharris together and figuring out what was up with Iloam. And that damn mage, still needed to find her.
At least the breeding rituals were starting to unravel. I'd tried one of the Nightsabre priestesses, she'd nearly fainted when I told her what I needed. Well, she was young and had flat out told me she'd no experience with that sort of thing; and still a virgin if the rumors were true, poor thing.
Rum was always her poison of choice. Tonight, for added punch, she laced it with a bit of mana. She’d smiled prettily at the barkeep, Dathri, to convince him to find the richest, strongest mana he had. Intimately familiar with the pattern on the single dram vial he'd passed her, her mind wandered over Fidir and his worgs and she smiled, sipping again and sucking the mage-conjured ice deliciously for a moment. The buzz of the mana thrilled through her tongue and she lazily blinked into the darkness of midnight.
Her tongue pressed liquid over her palate and she had a flash of loneliness for Ghurab’s jackal smile and laughter. She settled the glass against her forehead, sudden remembrance of the heat of the jungle making her skin flush. Her free hand settled delicately on the piece of paper on the table in front her of her, nearly hovering over the crude drawing so lovingly sent by innocence embodied.
I leaned against the doorway of a shop and watched Kharris walk away, hips swaying as she moved with her dancer's grace. It'd been good to see her again, I'd missed her cheerfulness and irreverence. Talking to her hadn't been so great. Well, the talking was okay; what we'd talked about, not so okay.
A man brushed against me with a muttered "Sorry." I flinched at the sudden rush of heat in my groin. Visions rushed to my brain; our naked bodies pressed together, kisses burning my face and neck, impaling myself on ...
Stop. Stopstopstopstop. I forced the images out of my brain with an effort that left me sick to my stomach.
I had to get this taken care of. It'd been bad enough when Kharris had mentioned Iloam, although I'd been able to hide that. I'd almost lost it when she mentioned Ythgar Vinguld.
She slept the way a kitten or a child does. She slept the way his daughter Yshka once had. The sleep of someone pressed beyond their controls and their ability to maintain barriers and defenses. He lay beside her, clothed, and moved only to tug a blanket up to cover the slender dark-skinned elf. Then again wrapped his arms about her loosely curled body. She mumbled and turned over, curling against him.
Impassively, he looked down at Kharris. At Kharris, an elf. Of the species he despised. The species whose daughter Visasti had unmanned his son and perverted him into a kinslayer. The species who'd borne Thienna, and Velion as examples of its might and strength. His lip did not curl. One who knew him might have been surprised at how assiduously he guarded her sleep, but they would not know him well to think so.
Vanity. Such an appropriate name.
Kharris grinned to herself, dimples peeking out in the quick flash, and turned her neck in the mirror. Her eyelids lowered, peering at the way the green ribbon pulled snug against her throat. A small pendant, no bigger than her fingertip, hung there at the little hollow of where her throat met her chest. Again the corners of her lips tugged up.
The deep green *did* suit her. She crossed her legs and leaned forward onto the little table, plucking up her kohl stick and touching up an eye out of habit rather than need. It was early evening, and the rest of the girls were filtering in with their somewhat sleepy eyes and murmured greetings, occasional bird-like laughter falling around Kharris like so much rain. These women were not much for the sun-soaked day, and it showed in their shuffles and the slightly rumpled look to them. Late to rise, later to bed.
The heat, ever so present.
Pearls of sweat fall off my body, landing on the frigid rocks of the Dalaran sewers.
A little hell fire I brought back from…well hell.
Another consequence of my return.
After the loss of power, the loss of my sight, what’s an eternal fever that won’t ever fucking go away. Nothing fixes it; best damn physicians can’t stop it.
It told me this would happen. Told me to find someplace cold, and stay there.
And so I made Northrend my home. Left my beloved Tanaris behind.
I prowl in the tunnels of the floating city. Like some insect living off a giant host.
I particularly love this tunnel.
I use it to smuggle the drugs that are so in demand in the club I’ll never own.
"What are the rules? Drinking, patrons, things like that." She leaned up on her elbows a little, still trapped under him, but not seeming disturbed by it.
"Drink or imbibe whatever you wish. Within reason. I am pleased to provide arcane powders and other drugs of your choice, and only suggest your indulgences cease if they threaten your health or performance. If you wish to bring patrons to these rooms, you may rent them at a small portion of your salary paid. This room is unavailable."
"How DO you accommodate all your ... friends? Easing them and giving them what they want. Surely some want want the same time?"
He smiled. "I govern all things with what I want. How do you harm a masochist, my dear girl?" he rumbled.
"I wouldn't know. Not a sadist." She grinned cheekily. "Tell me?"
He smiled slightly, waiting, letting the silence stretch. After a suitably long pause, he ran one hand down his chest, smoothing the waistcoat. "I am a possessive man. I am also an evil one. You came to me for more than boredom." he murmured.
Her fingers folded back down and a brow arched. "Why do you say that? You don't really know me, Marquis."
He half turned to regard her. "No? When I last saw you you had something very important to laugh about. Where is that thing to drive you to my temple of loss?"
"...Temple of Loss?" She snorted. "Some people enjoy life. Temple of Loss." Snuggling into the chair, she folded her leg across the other. "Just because you're dead and can't feel anything doesn't mean the rest of us wallow in brooding airs."
The club's shadows and glares throbbed and pulsed as the beat thudded like a giant heartbeat. Here a green-lit face with eyes closed lost in the music, there a flash of purple caressing a coiled dancer. On elevated platforms, two beautiful women writhed, wearing something between armour and intimate apparel; form fitted metal catching and refleting the light while lithe muscles moved them in ways both sensual and utterly erotic. The floor itself was a mass of people, moving like undersea lifeforms in response to the pulses and motions of the music more felt than heard. Above, staircases led to elevated series of booths, most full of watching patrons, some sipping drinks, some merely taking a breath between bouts. One, in a commanding view, was distinctly empty, though some beautiful creatures lurked there as it waiting.
Thought I'd whip up some quick signage for Fancy Cakes -- Aestan's idea, really. Not my best work, but it does it's job. ;)
(( A letter and package Tywyll hands to Analuri on leaving Silvermoon for Thunder Bluff ))
No sign of her flashing dimples.
Who'd like to change the world
Who wants to shoot the curl
Who gets to work for bread
Who wants to get ahead
She's beautiful. I don't think I've ever seen her more lovely, no matter how hard she's tried. Seated in some artifical place, looking as if she were as artificial as her surroundings, I've never really understood the appeal.
Who hands out equal rights
who starts and ends that fight
And not rant and rave
Or end up a slave
I almost understood that dark hunger. That urge to swathe oneself in the falseness of the world. Act, and assume the same lie as everyone else. Kill and be glad of the twisting satisfaction that rose like smoke as I stared at the pathetic little corpses of rapists and drug-dealers.
Who can make hard won gains
Fall like the summer rain
Now every man must be
What his life can be
These things always start innocently enough – a letter, a whisper in the back of the pub, a summons. Could be any number of things, but its years on the job that send that spark up the back of your neck and give pause. Something doesn’t sit right and you know to walk away. When I saw that seal set into the wax – two entwined snakes vying for control over the other, the seal of Pox – I should have tossed the bloody letters into the sea and kept on with me weekend, perfectly happy to sack Troll villages along the coast of Stranglethorn and piss away the night with wenches and booze.
He's lying on a wooden floor. Those nasty, scrawny limbs are tied as tightly as a rabbit in a brace of them. His eyes aren't mocking me now.. they're filled with terror. I lean over him and grin. "Isn't this nice?" I hear myself purr, and I feel the hatred like the sweetest syrup in my mouth. Anticipation like honey.. like coppery blood. Oh, how well I know that taste thanks to him... I can feel the rough edges of the scars where he slit my cheeks as my tongue moves in my mouth. In a fast motion, I kneel, and slice away his nose.
There’s only three of ’em. Little suckers, go down quick. Faster when the ground rots and turns against ’em. No point in pickin’ ’em off one by one. Wastes time. So yah take ’em all.
But out here, three becomes six so easy when something else wanders by, and six becomes more iff’n yah don’ finish up quick. Then yer hackin’ away with the sword dancin’ at yer side and even the bloody-won armor can’t keep yah from feelin’ the blows.
The weather was perfect for scaling the ratlines up past the tops and well into the cross-trees, finding meself a nice perch behind the main topgallant mast. The winds were light and carrying a warmth from the rising sun that brought a sort of wanton abandon after spending the past few days in Winterspring. I’d left most my clothes, besides pants and boots, in my quarters and come up here while the rest of the crew rested for tea.
I took a deep breath, sharing the moment with a kit of pigeons that had built a nest amongst the shrouds, and could smell the aromas drifting up from the below decks: spices, lime, the warmth of rice, the smoky char of spit-roasted meats, and the sour tang of spilled ale seeping into our boat. I couldn’t help but smile. It was going to be a good night.
The breeze tugged at the parchment between me fingers, as if impatiently insisting I make the decision I’d come up here for.
“All right, all right,” I scowled at the wind, earning a flutter of pigeon feathers to my right. “Blimey.”
I woke up to the dull, wooden thwack! of training swords clapping together on the beach, punctuated with the rhythmic cadence of Macleod’s barked orders. The cadets must have been in poor shape that morning – the seagulls laughed as they swirled high against the rising sun. Their shrill noise bored straight down into my eardrum and I groaned, rolling miserably against the itchy, grey standard issue sheets. One of my bunkmates grumbled, driving her small elbow into my neck.
“You’ve missed the morning bell,” I told the heap of swirling, auburn hair. I couldn’t remember her name, but she’d reminded me of Theryl with a sunnier disposition and a weakness for brandy shots. My memory slogged through a hazy recollection of watching her dance on the barracks rooftop while we howled at the moon.
“More sleep,” she requested simply, barely getting the words out before her pillow began to snore.
I shrugged and turned to our other bunkmate, her smooth green skin stretched over a well-muscled back. No use trying with that one either. I checked her for breathing – a rather morbid habit that I’d picked up after sharing a soul for awhile with a warlock. A steady pulse beat against my finger tips. Satisfied, I crawled from the heap of bodies and padded across the barrack’s floors.
((Very mild warning: Christmas underwear!))
It was sometime last week I woke up, rubbing my eyes, in the rented room Shar and I share in Dalaran. The bed isn't that big – sized more for humans than for draenei – but we don't mind. Cozy enough for two, though I did take some care not to wake her, as the past night's work had been late and difficult.
I wanted to move about though, loosen stiff muscles, maybe go downstairs and order some hot tea. I pulled on my leathers and quietly left the room, stepping quietly in the cool morning. The sounds of my hooves on the stones soon blended into a thousand other sounds, odd for a weekday morning, and I couldn't help but boggle at the business downstairs in the common room.
And at the bottom of the stairs, I almost walked into a tree.
"Look at me, girl. What do you see?"
How maudlin. How pretentious. It served its purpose, I'll agree. The broken wretch began to find her feet again, and accept her fate. Her fate? Her destiny, perhaps. Reborn to be a weapon, and in her case all unwilling, she might as well turn in her creator's hand.
Yes, that served me so well, didn't it. Got me such a terribly long way...
Ah well. May she have some luck, the silly fool. And that paladin.. she seemed able to see beyond what her friend so obviously reeked of, and try and help her. How sweet. How terribly nice. I had not to laugh when she turned to me with eyes aglow, fairly burning with the Light, and offered to help me redeem myself too.
Has it really been three years I've been coming up here? Seems a lot longer in some ways, lot shorter in others. So much has happened in the last year, Pete. Yuta and the babies are fine. Almost can't call them babies anymore, toddling around and getting into everything. Talking up a storm too, even if none of us can understand it.
We have a place of our own now. I don't think Yuta really understands what having land means to the likes of us. Finally made use of that knighthood I told you about a couple years back. What'd folks back home think? Probably be surprised that Freeman girl managed to make something of herself. So now we've got land and tenants and all; made a noble of me despite everything. What'd they think of that?
It was a long flight to Booty Bay. Plenty of time to think, plenty of time to stew. Little voices in the back of my head kept telling me this was a mistake, but I ignored them. I usually do. I mentally replayed the scenes from the last few days as I flew.
It was all Iloam's fault. Nice being able to blame someone other than me for once. If he hadn't cut up Llew the Peacekeepers wouldn't have hauled Kharris in for questioning and .... at least she didn't blame me for Rowan's death.
Iloam was playing pirate these days, that meant Booty Bay was the best place to look. Baron Revilgaz still owed me a favor or two. With a little help from him and some gold in the right palms it wouldn't take me long to find Iloam. And then ...
Well, I'd cross that bridge when I came to it.