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Old 01-12-2014, 03:21 AM
Immion Immion is offline

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Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
Seeing all the new stuff people have been posting in my absence makes me half-tempted to start my editing thing again. Would people like that?
They should. Feedback like the one you provided is incredibly hard to find - especially online - and priceless for anyone trying to improve his or her writing, not only because of your suggestions, but also by just letting authors know that somebody cares enough about what they have written to put in the work and write such comments.
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Old 03-10-2014, 01:33 PM
DarkAngel DarkAngel is offline

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Bloodlust Chapter Fourteen

So, I've been trying to pull my life together, with typically limited results. Nothing ever seems to go as planned, and so it was with this chapter. The "guru" of my real-life writing group assures me this is not only normal but good. I'm not so sure. It was very annoying when what was designed as a simple, heartfelt exchange between Arias and Narmiel exploded into and entire, action-packed, chapter. I tried to explain this to my dad, but he now thinks I'm off my rocker -- not that he didn't before.

In any case, the fact that the college-based writing group will be on Spring Break during when the next meeting was supposed to be left some time for good ol' WC.

The Korin/Sarah plotline for this chapter is actually a "deleted scene" hinted at in the previous chapter that I had to use as the "filler" in the new chapter. In retrospect, It's a good thing I did. I want to build Sarah up as someone with the courage to face her internal demons (contrast to Kalin), and this scene turned out to be a fantastic opportunity.

Oh heck, just enjoy it!

EDIT: Regards to Destron on both Draenei empathy and a certain saint.
EDIT EDIT: And to Semiiramiis for Draenei females' athletic talents.
* * * * * * *

Chapter Fourteen: Out of Control
The harsh claxon beat its way through Narmiel’s head like an enraged elekk. Just moments ago, the strike team was riding high on its unlikely victory, another testament to the Prophet’s wisdom. Now, it had all gone to the Nether. “Attention all decks, this is your captain speaking,” their commander’s voice rang over the intercom. “The teleport has been successful. However, navigational controls are not responding. The Exodar is on an uncontrolled, ballistic trajectory; estimated time to impact thirty seconds. All hands are to report to escape pods for immediate launch. All hands, abandon ship. This is not a drill.”

The Anchorite halted, the meaning of the urgent message lost amid the sirens and flashing red lights. Suddenly, a gauntleted hand seized hers in a crushing grip. She cried out in pain as much as surprise. “When you hear orders, sister, you follow them!” a voice hissed. It was both pitiless and intimately familiar. It was all she could do to hold herself upright as Malach nearly dragged her from the room, seeming not to care whether she stayed on her hooves or not.

“Malach,” she protested, trying in vain to wrest her hand from his vise-like grip, “I can walk!”

“Ability is irrelevant if not used wisely,” the Vindicator nearly spat. “I can’t claim to know why the Prophet chose you for this mission, but so long as you are with me, I will keep you alive—whether you want to live or not!”

Suddenly, her brother’s stern face was glaring at her, the weight of his judgment still heavy as the pod’s protections closed around her. Except that she wasn’t in an escape pod. She was in a dark room, surrounded by strange creatures. There was an uncomfortable chill in the air. The stone walls were dirty and cracked. This wasn’t the Exodar—nor was it Shattrath. This was…oh, that was where she was.

“Narmiel,” her oldest brother glowered, “do you know what just happened here?” The Anchorite sat up, rubbing the scutes embedded in her forehead. “It was a bad dream, brother, that’s all.”

“That was more than just a dream, sister. I felt it too—through our bond.” The others were looking at him with mounting frustration, unable to understand the conversation in Draenic.

Narmiel shrugged. “So? We always feel each other’s distress, even if it’s imaginary. We are Draenei.”

The Vindicator’s gaze bored into her, unrelenting. “That was no mere dream, Narmiel,” he said evenly. “That was a flashback. I saw it enough times in the war to know what it feels like. Do you know why this is happening?”

She closed her eyes, searching. Flashbacks were something that happened only to the traumatized; and were one of the prime reasons why such people had to be kept isolated from the community until they were recovered. Narmiel had been through a few skirmishes, but never anything on this level.

“Brother,” Rothdaar said gently, “perhaps it would be better to allow-”

There. The Anchorite felt it again, her mind and body instantly going to maximum alert. She kicked off her blankets and pressed herself against the wall, heart pounding in uncontrolled terror. Roth stepped back, looking deeply unnerved.

Malach was unmoved. “Where is it coming from, sister?” he demanded, as though of a reticent child.

It took her a moment to assemble a coherent thought, but the presence stamped on the vicarious emotion was as overpowering as the fear itself. “Naiva,” she managed to say through gasping, ragged breaths. “Naiva is in danger!”

The familiar name in the sea of unfamiliar words threw renewed focus on the Anchorite. Malach advanced on her, his hulking frame filling her with a sense of doom. “And what did I tell you about getting close to that girl, Narmiel?”

Something hot slid down the priestess’ cheek. The sensation barely registered beside the panic—both projected from the one not present and, increasingly, from her own situation. Never before had her brother seemed so huge, so terrible. “You said…it would hurt…all of us…in the end.”

“And has it?” he pressed.
She looked away, desperately trying to assemble her thoughts. “Yes.”

“And whose fault is that?” This time, he didn’t wait for an answer. “Anchor of the People or no, you are not trained for this. You have bonded with an ashem, and now we’re all paying the price. What do you have to say for yourself, sister?”

“Malach, that’s enough!” Rothdaar intervened. “What’s done is done. The question before us now is what to do about it.”

The Vindicator rounded on him, subjecting his brother to the same scrutiny. “What is there to do, brother? Her headstrong foolishness has put us all out of action. Had she listened-”

“Hey!” The one called ‘Kalin’ cut him off. “What’s going on here, and what does it have to do with Naiva?”

Rothdaar turned to him with silent thanks. “Naiva is having vhat you call a ‘flashback,’ he explained in Common. “My sister picked it up through the empathic bond between them.”

The tracker looked incredulous. “Empathic bond?”

“Our people experience the emotional states of those ve love. I cannot truely explain it in terms you vould understand.”

Kalin’s golden-haired protégé pushed his way to the front. “What about Naiva? Is she okay?”

Roth held himself steady. “If Narmiel is feeling something, then she is alive. Her death vould be more painful by far.”

“Deat?!” The thought filled her with an entire new level of fear. “I must stop zis!” Frantically, she began assembling her belongings, such as they were.

Malach stamped his hoof with a resounding thud. “No!” he shouted. “Zis madness stops now!” He lunged to grab her, but his sister was expecting his move. She nimbly dodged and made a dash for the door.

Sooner than even she herself expected, Narmiel was shrouded in darkness.

* * *

Korin’s home was small, little more than an alcove cut into the wall along the main avenue of the Sixth Depth. It was literally one room, though a wall of changing screens was arranged to separate the sleeping area from the kitchen. The space was lit by the warm glow of oil lamps, not the glare of the arcane lanterns increasingly favored by the aristocrats. Both Korin and Ingrid preferred it this way. There was just something about the yellow light that said “home” in a way blue illuminants could never match.

The off-duty paladin, his children, and his guest were gathered around the kitchen table. Sarah looked uncomfortable sitting on a chair far too small, but not as uncomfortable as she had standing in the cramped space. As it was, her knees were above the table, preventing her from sitting as closely as she should.

Frieda and Ian wasted no time in peppering the stranger with questions. “Is it true Humans build houses above ground? Doesn’t that get cold? What do you do when it rains? Do you go outside when you hafta poop? Eeeeeeew!”

Sarah looked like her patience, which once seemed inexhaustible, was finally beginning to wear thin. “Ian, show some respect fer our guest,” Korin admonished. “Tha’ goes fer you too, Freida,” he added when the girl opened her mouth. She quickly closed it.

“Listen ta yer father, children,” the paladin’s wife called from the corner, “I en’t got much more patience fer it myself.” Ingrid opened the iron stove that served as both heating and cooking, sending a wave of hot air out into the room. She removed a bread pan filled with meat and quickly closed the hatch.

Korin felt himself salivating as the familiar aroma reached his nostrils. “Ian, Freida, set tha table,” he ordered, “five places.”

“Yes, Dad,” the boy replied as he and his sister scurried off to comply.

“You’ll have to forgive them,” the lady of the house said as she carried the steaming pan to the table. “Between his gallivantin’ about an’ my work for the Church, they don’ get out much.”

“Oh, I understand,” Sarah said graciously, “the most exotic place I ever saw as a kid was visiting my cousins in Hillsbrad. I really only started traveling after my ordination.”

Ingrid’s eyes lit up. “It sounds like we have a lot in common, then.” She rushed to the tapped keg beside the stove and selected two steins from the shelf beneath it.

“No,” Sarah called after her, “I really shouldn’t.” Ian, having gathered the dishes, nearly dropped them. Ingrid’s initial look of shock became a withering glare.

Korin hesitated, the only one in the room who saw both sides of what had just happened. Sarah was, from what he’d heard, afraid of losing control again—and if half the stories were true, she had every right to be. Ingrid was incensed that she had refused to take part in the most hallowed Dwarven bonding ritual, something that would’ve been cause for a duel in centuries past. “Inge,” he said quietly in Dwarvish, “leave her be. She’s got reasons.”

Her ire suddenly switched targets. “Reasons? She insults us in our own home—in front of our children—and you defend her for ‘reasons?’”

The paladin took a deep breath. “She’s got a history of letting herself go too far. You know how Humans can be about alcohol. Let it go.”

His wife huffed, returning the steins to their places. She nodded to the children to go ahead with setting the table. Korin was half-convinced she had actually taken his advice until she returned to the table, planted her hands on the edge, and leaned into her guest’s face. “So, what was it fer yoo, then?” Ingrid asked mockingly. “Stress o’ the job? Lost boyfriend?” The table-setters withdrew almost before they’d started.

Korin pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. Ingrid’s fire was probably the thing he loved most about her. He just wished sometimes she knew when to turn it off. Now was one of them.

Sarah stood, leaving her chair flipped over behind her. “Do you think I got this accent growing up in Elwynn?” she said, allowing the full force of her ingrained language pattern. It was far stronger than Korin had ever heard it, and unmistakably telegraphed her place of origin: eastern Lordaeron, hit first and hardest in the Scourging.

Ingrid stiffened, then looked away, clearly regretting her vindictiveness. “I’m sorry.”

The other priestess looked almost as sorry herself. “Don’t be. This is something I have to own, and I’m not going to shy away from it.” There was an edge of steel to her voice that belied her avoidance of eye-contact.

The room was silent for several tense moments. “I was up there once, yeh know?” Ingrid said at last. “The Church sends its novices to far-flung parishes and all.”

Sarah nodded. “It’s a good policy. Saved my life, actually. If I hadn’t been in Stromgarde when it happened, I’d be dead—or worse.”

“Worse?” Frieda piped up.
“Means she’d one o’ them deaders,” Korin explained. He leaned back in his chair. “Light, hard teh believe it’s only been seven years.”

The Human priestess got a distant look in her eyes, as though seeing something other than the table below. “I know. I can still see them—on the day I left. No idea I was saying goodbye for good.”

“Aye, lass,” said her Dwarven counterpart. “Remember the words of Saint Cassian: ‘Think not on the things you have lost or the wrongs you have suffered. Such grudges serve only to create a prison that separates us and prevents us from attaining happiness. Think instead on the gift the pain has brought you, for all experiences are gifts—even those that hurt.’”

Sarah bent to right her chair. “Amen to that.”

* * *

Arias Dawnbeam ran. It was well that he had spent so much time in these tunnels, for he now needed little light to proceed. He knew every stray rock, every crack, and every mound of dirt on the floor. That knowledge got him no closer to his quarry, however. Whatever the strange priestess might be, she was spectacularly fleet of foot. She had already been out of sight by the time he’d gone after her, and there was still no sign of her now.

Luckily, he didn’t need to see her to surmise her destination. Narmiel had gone to retrieve Naiva. Naiva’s last known location was the Twilight camp. That much was obvious. The outburst, on the other hand, was more of a mystery. Diving in like this was practically suicidal. It smacked of…Naiva’s blind desperation.

The thought pushed him to run harder. The very idea that Naiva was in trouble filled him with dread; he couldn’t explain why, exactly. The girl insulted him, ignored him, and used him—yet he still felt obligated to protect her. She was his, and that was all he knew.

Arias slowed briefly as the sound of battle reached his ears, then turned toward it. This was a side tunnel, one not quite so well-traveled. It was actually bigger than what was in his mind the “main path,” but the prisoners’ reconnaissance had focused on the Twilight camp. This way led to their ritual ground, a place crawling with cultists at all hours. If he’d had any doubts about the foolhardy nature of the priestess’s quest, this clinched it.

The Half-Elf skidded to a halt as he emerged into the ruined plaza that filled the cavern. There were indeed cultists everywhere—far more than he’d even thought present in Azjol-Nerub. Any sane person would recognize futility of crossing such a large open area with so many hostiles present. Then again, neither of his targets was sane.

About halfway across, a familiar horned figure was continuing her mad dash. Her pace was such that few purple-robed cultists could respond until she was already past; those that tried to block her path got a blast of searing Light for their trouble. The growing mob in pursuit was certain to be her undoing, however. If she bogged down, she was dead. It was that simple.

Arias tore after her, gambling that Narmiel had already grabbed their attention. He appeared to be correct, judging by the lack of shouts following him. Proper soldiers would keep a reserve in case the immediate attack turned out to be a diversion, which the cultists were not. In fact, they seemed almost completely oblivious to his presence.

Ahead, Narmiel’s charge continued, and Arias tried to keep a running estimate of the enemies on her tail. Sixteen. Twenty. Twenty-five. He was going to have to think of something particularly clever to get them out of this, especially since his haste had prevented him from loading his crossbow.

“Come no further, blasphemer!” a voice boomed out. The priestess’ trajectory was about to take her up the steps to the dais overlooking the plaza. At the top of those steps, an ebon-armored Tauren blocked her path. He seemed unnaturally large, even for his hulking people. “Grimhorn has sworn to protect the Shadowseeker, and he shall!”

Narmiel didn’t even slow down, taking the steps two at a time. Her only response was to ready another spell. Grimhorn raised a massive shield against her. It bore the cult’s hammer and setting sun device in silver with what might’ve been a horned dragon-skull at the top. The background, however, was…wrong. The shield looked to be made of some very dark metal, but it gave off an aura of dread. It was almost as if its surface concealed an unfathomable void, yearning to be free.

The priestess’ conjuring of holy fire struck its target. Suddenly, there was a blinding flash of light. Somehow, the spell ricocheted off the shield and slammed into its caster. The Half-Elf’s pace slowed again. Arias had heard of enchanted shields that could reflect arcane spells, but the Light was supposed to be inviolable. What had just happened here?

Narmiel was thrown back, plowing through the knot of pursuers. They too appeared disoriented, but she was slower to rise, having taken the brunt of the chastisement. She reached for her staff, but the priestess was completely surrounded.

Arias poured on every last ounce of speed he had, knowing full well it wouldn’t be enough. There was simply too much ground to cover. A blur of motion caught the Half-Elf’s attention as he ran. A figure had appeared in the air above Grimhorn—a small frame, clad in ragged leather armor and trailing unbound locks of dirty-blonde hair. Her feet connected directly with his head, using it to launch herself into the middle of the fray.

The distraction bought enough time for Narmiel to stand—and for Arias to get in range. “To me!” he shouted. “This way!” The cultists hesitated yet again, thrown off balance by the revelation that there were not one, not two, but three intruders.

Narmiel was apparently still lucid enough that she didn’t have to be told twice. She stamped her staff on the cobbles, sending a shockwave of holy power radiating from her position. While the deadly circle was still blinded, she wrapped an arm around Naiva’s waist and made her escape. The Half-Elf could only gape: even encumbered by carrying someone else, she cleared the heads of her attackers with feet to spare. Where had she gotten those legs?

For the moment, though, there was nothing to do but turn and run for it. He could only hope the priestess had enough speed left to catch up to him. He bolted for the tunnel from which he’d come, praying the growing clop of hooves was Narmiel and not Grimhorn. An ill-aimed fireball exploded against the ground just to his right, forcing him to change course. There was a fool’s chance of escape, and he was taking it.

Arias reached the entrance to find Narmiel just behind. To his surprise, she promptly deposited her charge on the ground. “Get me out of here!” Naiva whimpered, curling into a fetal position. “The Trolls are everywhere!”

The priestess ignored her, concentrating instead on a new spell. She spoke a word in her strange tongue. The golden radiance of the Light leapt from her hands and formed itself into an impenetrable barrier over the entrance. “Good thinking,” the tracker breathed, doubled over from the exertion.

“Zat vill not hold zem long,” the priestess replied. “Naiva, can you run?”

The girl just folded herself more tightly. Her head jerked to the side for no apparent reason. Suddenly, the barrier shuddered. One of the cultists, a burly Orc, was beating against it was a mace. Naiva bolted to her feet, flattening herself against the wall in terror. “The Trolls!” she pleaded, her breath almost too tight to form words, “They’re coming!”

“Ve must get her moving!” Narmiel called.
Arias reached into his shirt pocket. “I have an idea. Naiva,” he said, holding up a worthless trinket, “this is full of magic.” He barely got the words out before Naiva lunged for it. As quickly as he could, the Half-Elf tossed it to Narmiel. “Catch! Run!” The three of them sprinted back up the passage, hoping to reach the relative safety of the Nerubians’ cavern. They failed to notice the floating, fel-green eyeball that had joined them in the tunnel.

In a ruined temple, far away, Lady Erinana Bloodflame looked up from her meditation with a start. Her eyes darted around the room, seeing nothing. “Is something wrong, Lady?” a voice asked. The Elvish word was grafted to the end of the Orcish sentence like a diamond ring in a mud puddle.

“No,” she replied, shaking off her heavy breath. “Tell Kalin I’ve found them. All three.”

* * * * * * *
Fun fact: Narmiel is supposed to be a Holy Priest, but she ended up using Discipline spells. Rest assured her Chakra was set to "Chastise," though.

Looking at this again, Naiva's babblings should be in Elvish, as tends to happen when people are distraught. If you recall which memory she's reliving, though, it gives you a good idea of how the flashback got triggered. At least we finally got the first hint at why Erinana is in the story.
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Old 06-01-2016, 08:55 PM
Ethenil Ethenil is offline

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I - I don't understand! Where's the rest of it??

This started out rough but I couldn't stop reading by the middle of the third book! And then it just stops.

Gimme moar ;_;
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Old 06-06-2016, 11:48 AM
DarkAngel DarkAngel is offline

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Originally Posted by Ethenil View Post
I - I don't understand! Where's the rest of it??

This started out rough but I couldn't stop reading by the middle of the third book! And then it just stops.

Gimme moar ;_;
Um, sorry. I kind of had to quit when better ideas (read: Dispatches from the Nexus) came to me. At the time, I had no idea how long it was going to run; so, while I intended to come back, that doesn't seem likely anymore. I may still "finish" it (I did have everything planned out), but it would be in summary like Gone with the Ether. Consider yourself warned that A Brave New World (of WarCraft) ends the same way.

However, I am tickled pink that someone still likes this after all this time. I look at it and can hardly believe I wrote it.
Every ending is but a new beginning.
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