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Archive for July, 2011

OOC Note: Something small and less depressing than most of Dyna’s story lately. On a more annoyed note, why does she have to take up herbalism/alchemy ICly AFTER I level her blacksmithing??? -.- Whatever. She always was a lazy smith anyway, too busy getting into fights and patrolling the Crypts. Never RPed that as much as I intended to. ICLY SHE IS NO LONGER A BLACKSMITH. SHE SUCKED AT IT. Her background in herbalism comes from becoming ICly obsessed with tea, and then training in herbal remedies with Audran instead of Light-mending.
Dyna scowled.

Three dozen jars of varying sizes loomed across the table at her, filled to the brim with herbs and golden oil. Her eyes narrowed and she eyed her work critically, rising restlessly from her seat to pace in front of the table, glancing down at the well-used book lying open in front of her.

Small, neat handwriting marked the pages, alongside elegantly drawn renderings of herbs. After a moment, she impatiently fluttered the pages back towards the front. Her eyes briefly scanned the words and she shook her head with a grumble.

The created oils needed to be exposed to sunlight, baked in the heat of summer to ensure their healing properties were properly drawn into the oil around them. This would ensure a fresh stock of sometimes difficult to acquire herbs, even in the dead of winter.

Her gaze lifted from the jars up to the fresh stockpiles of carefully hung vegetation now adorning the rafters of the small room. The entire house was abundant with herb smells, sweet and spicy and sharp- some pungent, some wonderful…

She wondered what Strahm would have thought of her stockpile. Surely it was better than the weapons obsession, right? At least she didn’t keep peacebloom beneath the pillow, unlike her axe…

But the thought hurt to consider. His absence didn’t feel quite real, and she imagined him so frequently that it was easy to pretend he was still there. A faint frown creased her brow as she considered whether or not that was a good thing- then vanished with a one-shouldered shrug. Her other shoulder still twinged from the bullet those long months ago. She wondered what the scar looked like, diverting herself from the topic of healthy ways of coping with loss- it was a practiced skill.

The fresh herbs were fine drying in her own rafters, but the oils would need somewhere with sunlight- a commodity that her home in Ironforge didn’t have. For that, she could leave them on the roof of the Bastion’s bunkhouse in Elwynn; surely no one would object.

Dawn’s crest saw her precariously balanced on the roof of the barracks, a heavy satchel of haphazardly crammed jars clattering unnervingly on her back. She hadn’t bothered to change out of full armor- seldom remembered that the heavy plate wasn’t part of her skin- and was cursing as best she could as she bellied her way across the shingles.

“Drat! Shoot! STUMBLETOE!”

She wiggled. She wormed. She slung the hefty sack to where she could reach it, and began to set the jars out carefully, avoiding looking down at the ground. A morning breeze rifled through her unkempt mop of hair, and she scowled up at the sun’s pale rays as she carefully set a jar of Dreamfoil out beside the Goldthorn. The Wild Steelbloom looked strangely anemic as she eyed with a faint frown.

Glancing around herself, Dyna slowly, carefully eased herself to her knees, edging back from the drop and squirming up the roof on her armored rump. The sun had finally crested over the mountains that sheltered Elwynn’s lush forestry, casting a golden glow over everything. A small smile curved her lips, and she looped her arms about her legs, resting her chin on her knees and spending a moment just enjoying the touch of sunlight on her copper head. The smell of herbs surrounded her, bringing peace despite the tension that had been the backbone of each day, lately.

It was nice, just to rest here, in the peace and quiet…

Within minutes, she was asleep, sprawled across the roof like an armored cat in a patch of sunlight.

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Dyna and Eddrick: The Bees

t was springtime at last, the grey skies of winter fading to bright blue. The air was cool and crisp, pale blossoms creeping tentatively from their buds. The shrill chatter of birdsong was accompanied by the murmur of the breeze through fresh spring leaves- and suddenly punctuated by a reverberating crack.

Beneath the canopy of the forest, two staffs met with an altogether too heavy impact, eliciting a startled yelp and the sound of one staff toppling.

Eddrick Spicer, a nine year old boy with dirt on his nose, smiled at his half-sister, even as he shook his head. The girl, smaller at about age seven, looked chagrinned as she plucked up the staff, the mop of gingery hair on her the consistency of straw- and about as well cared for.

Her small, pale hands were scratched and muddy, the staff much too large for them, but she looked intensely focused as she eyed the length of it, a determined light in her eyes. The rash of freckles over her features shifted as her face abruptly scrunched and she peered up at Eddrick.

“Again!” She begged, hopping agitatedly from one foot to the other and setting herself down in a poor mimic of a fighter’s stance.

Edd frowned a little, glancing over his shoulder nervously. “Mom’s going to be sooo mad if she finds out..” He began reluctantly, looking back to eye the girl before him, his gaze lingering on her bare, muddy feet, and the ruined hem of her skirts.

He didn’t look much better, himself. The dirt on his nose was only the beginning. He’d rolled his pants up to his knees when they’d forded the stream, but the water had drenched past his calves anyway. His reddish brown hair had somehow acquired debris in their play-fighting up the hill, though he was, of course, unaware of it. Still, the look of excitement on his sister’s face was mirrored in his own expression, quickly banishing the guilt as he raised his own staff again.

“Againagaingainagaaaiiin!” Chanted the small girl.

“Alright, alright! Hold your horses- you gotta lift it like this, and then hold it like this, see? It’s no wonder you dropped it last time- your hands were too tight. Sometimes, you have to bend or you’ll break- that’s what mister Samael told me.”

Dyna made a face and stuck out her tongue, but did as she was told. “I wish mister Samael could teach me, too.” She grumped, adjusting her hands.

Edd stuck his tongue out right back. “Well, he can’t. That’s why I’m teaching you, isn’t it? Just don’t tell mom!”

Her grumpy expression evaporated almost instantly, replaced by a radiant smile. “That’s okay! You’re better’n he is, anyway!” Her words were stout and confident. “You’re gonna grow up and be a knight with shiny armor, I bet!”

Edd grinned. “Yeah, maybe. Or I’ll be a trader like dad, and fight off bandits!”

“Yeah! Like this!”

The girl abruptly turned on heel, eyes squinching shut as she drove the overlarge quarterstaff down hard on a nearby tree branch with another deafening crack of impact.

Edd let out a startled laugh, grinning at his fierce young sister as she once again dropped the quarterstaff. “You’re still holdin’ it too tight-“

He was cut off by a sudden sharp spasm of pain from the back of his neck. Yelping, he dropped his own staff to reach for his neck, then shouted wordlessly as another followed, then a third. His gaze lifted and with a sinking sensation, realization struck him as he grabbed for Dyna and began to flee.

A dark cloud of bees was drifting from a fallen hive on the ground, searching; two quarterstaves lay abandoned as the children ran, yelping and shouting.

“WHY IS THIS HAPPENING!” Dyna wailed, stumbling after Edd and blinded by tears as the furious swarm of bees pursued. “I DON’T UNDERSTAAAAAND!”

Edd fared no matter; indeed, perhaps worse. But he was the older of the two, and he was meant to protect his little sister, not let her get stung by bees. Too breathless to answer, he merely shook his head- then hauled her hand and floundered towards the pond, half lifting his sister and giving her a solid shove into the muddy, tepid waters. “Get down!”

He followed as soon as she was submerged, the water rushing about his face and clothes, providing cool, sweet relief from the welts already raising all over his body. His arm protectively pulled Dyna down, though she struggled for the surface with wiggling and floundering.

After a few moments, he let go, and they both gasped for air, completely drenched and dripping pondscum. The bees had not let up; back down they went, but this time Dyna got it and didn’t struggle, whimpering only lightly in the back of her throat.

It was an eternity, before the bees finally left them to their watery fate; and an eternity more, plucking stingers from each other’s raised, reddened skin. The girl, once over her initial shock, was quickly dry-eyed, though her expression betrayed her pain. Still, she stoically informed Edd-

“Knights don’t cry, so we aren’t gonna cry neither.”

Edd hardly had to be told, though. He wasn’t about to be shown up by a girl younger than he was. Silently, he looked them both over, a grimace wrinkling his features as he noted both of their appearances- muddy, drenched, swollen, and riddled with welts.

“Mom is going to kill us.” He groaned as they trudged defeatedly for the manor.

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She woke to the cold touch of rain on her brow, seeping into the crevices of her heavy plate and leather beneath it. Her head felt heavy, her eyelids thick. Her sword was missing, and she was cold and half drunk in the hollow of an old tree’s knotted roots. How- where-Elwynn. The heady smell of wet dirt and tree, the familiar grey sky… blurred flashes of recollection passed before her mind’s eye. Her heart felt leaden and sick inside her. Her stomach turned and she struggled to keep the contents of it inside herself.

”Your husband died at Marius’ hand. What you brought back was brought back wrong, a facsimile made to mislead and betray you. That is why I have called you ‘Miss’ Vindalis these past months.”

The words were hard, and her reaction harder still. She hadn’t wept, she hadn’t railed- had breathed in deeply of the harbor’s salt air, felt the cool wind’s passage against her cheek. Even as her mouth opened to pour empty words out, to tell him he was wrong, she knew it was hollow. It began to make sense, now.

We were wrong, the whole time, congratulating ourselves on his safe return. It was never his smile, was never him at all… just a thing made to pull us apart. And it did.

Her bones felt strangely loose inside of her. She could feel the play of muscle against leather as she stumbled to her feet, turning her rain-soaked head to the side to spit a sour mouthful of saliva into the dirt. She reeled. She trembled.

He was gone, then. Had been gone for months before she’d even suspected it.

Pale fingertips pressed into the bark of the tree, her eyes narrowing as her fist pulled away clutching hard bark. She’d gotten very, very drunk, and had every intention of brawling her way into dreamless unconsciousness… but civilization had lacked appeal once properly inebriated.

She’d gone to visit his friends. Tara and Soren. To speak to the dead, to weep with them- to weep for them, to apologize for what she’d done to the body of the man she’d loved. But distraction had stayed her course, and there was Ereleth Tremaine again, speaking in riddles- never an upfront answer.

He’d offered a fight, but bitter memory soured what would normally be a grave temptation. It was just as well. Tremaine felt pushed to it out of necessity. Had said something about it being impossible to be a friend, had spoken of jealousy- was jealous of her, for all that she once had.

Loved ones. Friends. A banner to fight under, a cause to fight for. She’d come out of so many encounters alive and well… But not this one, Tremaine. I saw it myself.

What did she have left, though, but memories now? Strahm was dead and she’d let it happen. Tia didn’t know her, Faeir was determined to kill Tremaine, and Diane kept trying to set her on fire. Orgo she’d heard nothing from in months, Edd was an infrequent part of her existence, and all her Sigil allies were busy doing Sigil things that she no longer had any part of.

She had a banner, aye. A blue field with a silver tower, the meaning of which she scarcely knew. She’d even met some of her bannermates, had wanted badly to be a part of it… had sworn an oath to do so.

If I come out of this fight alive, I’ll redouble my efforts. I’ve been distracted chasing a shadow of a man that was dead all along.

What other cause did she have now, but the one she intended to die for?

The first light of morning scarcely penetrated the heavy clouds, the cold of the rain throwing a shiver through the armored form. She felt heavy and dull. Her head was beginning to ache, her stomach still coiling in knots.

She wanted to fight, to scream, to cry, to run, but none of it would do.

Odynae Vindalis.

She’d married the man, she’d taken his name. It was all she had left of him, now.

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July 14

A paladin’s life is service.

I must remember that, no matter what else.

Strahm must find himself placed second to this mission, this end I have seen. Kialthos must wait for justice that may never find him. I have seen it. Diane will be alone again. I will have failed her, I will have left. My end will most likely become hers as well. I can’t save her. I can’t spare her.

But what are our lives against what I have seen, against what I will fight and fall to?

There is power in knowing fate, he said.

You might still change the tides and turn the tables, if you can only find out how.

I have never been a smart woman. I have been bold, yes. Fearless, perhaps at times when I should not have been. Tireless, relentless, hungry for justice. But it’s never been to me to form the plan- only to act and react. If Ereleth, who is so much smarter than I am, can find no solution- then what hope have I?

We’re bound to die. I, myself, will die alone. I saw it. Somehow, there is power in that- or so he told me.

If we succeed, what does it matter? Right now, that success is all that can matter. But there must have been some reason, some motive, that he believed it necessary to part with hiS trinket; it must mean that I can save them. The least I can do is try.

I feel calmer than I should. But what more noble an end could I ask for? I don’t suppose I ever honestly believed I’d meet my maker at some ripe old age. I live the edge of my sword, by the bruising of my knuckles and that searing, white-hot flame that is justice and retribution against those who would do evil. There is no question of whether or not I’ll go, even knowing what lies ahead.

It seems hideously unjust that I must face it, knowing what I do. But I can’t let that stop me. A gift, he said. Payment rendered for my long aid. Hah. I can change my fate, he said. But how? The machinations of my nameless enemy are far beyond me; my time would be best spent determining who has a better chance of living.

I can too easily see the look on my husband’s face, if he knew. Disdain, revulsion- this was everything he dissaproved of in my vocation. The foolish self-sacrifice. Walking straight into the fire, knowing just how badly it will burn- he’d curse me for a half-wit. He’s never seen the necessity of it. He never will, as there will be no goodbyes. My search is done with. I can’t risk myself so soon before the battle.

I wonder if this violates the terms of my oath. I swore I’d ever keep my sword raised in readiness to the defense of the Bastion, of Stormwind, of the Alliance. But what else could this be called?

I can still change it, he said. I can alter my fate, twist the strands to ensure I walk away.

It’s unfair. It’s just plain unfair. Tenacity demands that I try, but I’m so tired. My heart hurts.

I visited the barracks today. McAlister looked as though he’d been in some sort of skirmish. He was tired, but seemed content enough. His wife is pregnant, with twins, he said. My, but the Bastion is a haven for those who want children. I think Strahm could have been happy here, with me. Mayru, too. We could have started a family. It wouldn’t be half so frightening, knowing that most of the other women are intent on new life. Any children we could have had would have been safe; we never could bear to bring new life when it would have been used against us.

As it turns out, McAlister looked as he did, not because of a fight- but for other reasons. Once I realized, I found that I couldn’t stay any longer. It was just a little too open, too honest- too out there, thank you. It struck me as strange to be speaking to someone who was still worn from, ah. Such intimacy. Just– awkward. So awkward.

Angela, Nyth, Mabely, and that older woman were there too. The paladin lady looked decidedly disheveled, and seemed in a mood, for sure. Angela was in human form; I might not have recognized her, but for that accent- it’s hard to mistake.

I went to Stormwind after a good, long walk. I found Liotuse, as I’ve been putting it off for days. Back in the Sigil, he was one of the worst for driving me off with talk of things I had no wish to hear about. It was a stupid reason to avoid what needed to be done. He was nothing less than kind to me.

I didn’t pull out the watch. I didn’t look. Once Ereleth shows him, I’ll look. But I couldn’t bear it, not when I was asking him to help us, to put his life on the line. At least I was able to tell him what was at stake.

He seemed worried, though. So did McAlister. What was I supposed to tell them, I wonder? ‘By the way, I just realized my death is imminent and that it’s going to be a long, lonely one’? Was I supposed to explain that I have to set aside the mission that is most important to my heart, to march into a battle I won’t walk away from?

No. Definitely not.

Liotuse told me that I ought to go spend a night out with friends, that I seemed like I needed the fun.

It occurred to me that I’ve run perilously low on friends, now. I’ve allies, yes; compatriots. People that I would fight beside. But one by one, the friends closest to me… aren’t friends, any more.

Diane’s too unstable to be anything but cautious around, Faeir I can’t trust anymore, Tia doesn’t even know my name and has been turned against me, Mayru is long absent with Strahm, Orgo is off somewhere- hell if I know where- Edd is probably on a trade route again… I haven’t been around the Sigil since I left, and there’s no one in the Bastion that I know beyond acquaintanceship. Kullus is only a hired hand. Ereleth is a horse’s ass.

Light, how did it come to this?

Duty, above all else. A paladin’s life is service.

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July 9… Kialthos.

Of course. Why didn’t I think of it sooner.

He’s the one that hurt Strahm in the first place at the Apophan’s behest, isn’t he? Strahm told me so himself. That draenei pretended to be my friend, was sympathetic, acted like he was so sorry to hear of my husband’s absence- when he was the one that pulled the skin from Strahm’s body, cut into his arms and legs and laughed and laughed and laughed…

Cultist piece of trash.

He looks at me with those glowing eyes and a hurt expression that I won’t talk to him, that I won’t make eye contact, but it’s his fault Strahm was killed, it was him all along that was hurting my husband.

Kullus will be able to pull the truth from him. We’ll find out all we can about the Apophan and let him beg for mercy, let him tell me WHY he did it, how in the Light’s name he could touch my shoulder as I cried my heart out, knowing Strahm’s torment was at his own hands…

I should have done this long ago. He denies it to this day.

The least he can do is admit it.

Went to Dalaran today. The violet spires rose high and proud, but beyond them, Ereleth showed me something I didn’t want to see. The Crusader’s forward camp is missing; to others, it would appear to be there. If we fail in our mission, thousands of lives will be snuffed out as if they never were. It’s a tangible recollection of why we fight.

Of why I tolerate that man and his lack of straightforward answers.

I don’t envy him the position he’s in, but it makes it no less difficult for me to accept it when he tells me he can’t tell me any more than what he has.

Sometimes I become certain that I’ve been lied to this whole time. Maybe I’d be better off just flinging him from a cliff. Maybe everything would go back to normal, then; maybe it’s all an illusion, but to what end? Ultimately I’ve managed to avoid doing anything too terrible at his behest, and a lot of what I’ve done under his directions has ended up to the benefit of those I care about. Maybe that’s part of the game, too.

When we returned, he told me we were going to scry for Strahm. And by ‘we’, he meant Diane. He found a way to instruct her, and she reluctantly agreed to try.

She said she missed him, too.

They both disappeared after that. I am left to my thoughts.

I hope she can find him.

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Emptying the cup

I wake to the itching of my too-hot face, my tongue dry as bone behind the parchment of my lips, the ivory of my teeth. I’m astride a horse that is not a horse, I’ve been sleeping again but it scarcely matters. I feel the prickling beneath my skin and my fingertips move to scratch. My nails are broken, they leave white trails against my skin that fade as soon as they appear. The heat increases. I try to remember who I am.

Bursts of color and recollection, like the sweet taste of cold rain on my blistering lips- they explode in my mind and fade away, leaving nothing but smoke and dizziness in their wake. There’s a man’s smiling lips, but I don’t remember why I’m remembering.

You are nothing

I am nothing

You are no one

I am no one who is nothing, astride a horse that is not a horse, and I feel like I’m burning alive from the fire in my belly, in my veins. My eyelids are heavy, are hot against my eyes.

My lips are moving, my dry tongue wagging in my mouth, trying to form words but it can’t. Still, it seems enough. There’s a sudden brightness- like a kiss– and something stirs from my belly, seems to pull from my insides like the roots of a tree grasping earth and stone. It is part of me, and where it isn’t any more feels strangely hollow and numb.

Something wicked this way comes

The words aren’t mine but they are there none the less. I laugh and I don’t know why I do it, and now there’s a lurching as the air around me twists and there are shadows leaping and dancing at the edges of my vision. I turn my head to follow them, but they flee, never letting me focus.

A book- something about a book- yes a book you stupid thing, waste of breath and space and time- silence cur. She is returned to us, be silent- and I can smell the pages, thick and musty between my fingers, the ink is faded and a curious shade of brown- blood, girl, the runes are blood for more powerful magic- and everything spins around me.

I feel myself moving and my eyes look up to see endless sky, the fire- no, the fel- that surges through my veins seems so much more alive, and I am lesser in the wake of it, stone worn away by the surging tide after too long resisting…

I resisted, once. No more.

Lost… someone, help me.

Anyone.

Help.

But there is no one, never was.

I fall to silence within myself, I stop looking though my eyes still see.

I let the tide take me and darkness swirls swirls like a cup emptying down my spine.

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July 7

He won’t tell me what’s become of my husband.

He knows. He knows and he still won’t tell me. I should pull the truth from his body with flame and blade, pain would make an honest man of him yet

He said that it would destroy me inside. That I wasn’t ready to know.

That means that he’s gone, doesn’t it? I said I could bring him back. If his mind was compromised, I could fix it.

He said I reminded him of Arthas with those words

I’m not

That’s ridiuculo

My dreams have been strange and unpleasant lately. I find myself drawn to restlessness as nights turn warmer.

Diane has become increasingly unstable. At any moment I am aware that she might turn and try to kill me. I don’t know why it’s me she targets; Ereleth says the instability is caused by Ashthra’s death. Ashthra Anderson was as a father to her, even if I hated the man myself. Perhaps she blames me, in her hidden heart?

We’re going to try to fix her by showing her why it happened. That’s the question that brings tears to her eyes the most. Why did he die. It’s a question I’ve never had the answer to give her; he was no friend of mine, I couldn’t possibly know… but of course, Ereleth has ways of knowing things no man has a right to.

Olivia met her. Seemed more than a little alarmed by her, as she suffered one of her… fits… while Liv was there. I guess Liv was trained in Dalaran. I wish Diane had had that proper training, as a youngster.

Liv told me that I shouldn’t be accustomed to the ones I love hurting me. She seemed upset that I wasn’t upset.

I guess nothing’s really phased me since my husband held the tip of his blade to my throat and threatened to run me through for a traitor. I was so angry, so hurt that he wouldn’t listen…

That memory hurts, still. He said he was sorry. He didn’t know that I wasn’t compromised, myself. I forgave him long ago, didn’t I? That’s what you do for people you love. You forgive them, even when it hurts like hell.

At least Diane isn’t herself when she does it. She’s not in her right mind, and it isn’t her fault. She’d never hurt me, if she was herself.

I tried a mending last night. I was going to use old fashioned healing, the things that Audran taught me. Old herblore, poultices and teas…

Then she told me she was worried she wouldn’t have use of the arm. She told me she couldn’t lift it, and I thought maybe there would be permanent damage- that her body wouldn’t work right. I’d already done the poultices and the teas and the bullet fragment came out and it was bloody business…

I had to try. There was no one else that could fix her.

The Light was as difficult as ever to manage, I haven’t the skill to temper its power with wisdom- I haven’t the wisdom, apparently, to leave well enough alone and bring her to someone better than I.

It seemed to go alright, up until someone walked in the room as I was releasing it. I lost control.

It seemed to mend everything, at least; I was only trying to fix any possible nerve damage, but…

She was crying and screaming, she wouldn’t look me in the eye after. Told me to get away from her. Big horrible white patch against her skin, looked like scar tissue… it was awful.

I should know better by now than to meddle with things beyond my skill.

Poor Clare.

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