Eidrin: Unknown Hands

(Part 1)

The clank of footsteps echoed in his ears, the dull thud of metal on rock bouncing along the walls as he ran after his target. He could hear the padded steps of the terrified man running ahead of him, frantically trying to lose this imposing pursuer but to no avail. They both knew he would be caught. It was just a matter of time.

Lowering his head slightly, Eidrin barreled forward and tackled the man squarely. The combined weight of his charge and the armor he was wearing sent the duo crashing hard into the pavement. A loud cry of pain simultaneous with the tell-tale crack of bone echoed further into Eidrin’s ears.

What is going on?

A low groan escaped from the victim’s mouth as he attempted to squirm from the pin that Eidrin had accidentally placed him in. Instantly, almost as if by instinct, Eidrin strengthened the grip before straddling the man in a way that his arms were pinned to his chest. Though the incapacitated man couldn’t see it through the full-plate helmet, Eidrin’s eyes were full of confused fury. Slowly, deliberately, he moved his hand to the hilt of a sword on his back. Drawing it to it’s full length, he brandished it where the man could clearly see it. A hint of fear was now etched in the dazed man’s face.

Before him sat a greatsword, something Eidrin had never used before, with the hilt made of some red-stone. It was disturbing by the fact that it almost looked like slightly cooked flesh, the stone cut in such a way to amplify this effect. Slowly he turned the point downward, the tip pressed lightly against the man’s throat. He could feel it again, that tiny nudge at the very back of his brain. It wanted this. He wanted this. His grip tightened on the hilt and he nudged it forward, drawing the slightest blood from the man’s neck before diverting the tip to the side. It clanged against the stone, but did not bend and he growled angrily before tossing it aside.

Instantly his fist crunched against the man’s face as he beat the witness into submission. As soon as whatever was driving him was satisfied the man was out cold, he stumbled back as if released from a hold and surveyed his handiwork.

It was a courtyard of surprising grace. A sort of backyard haven that most people didn’t know about. A small fountain sat in the middle and around them were mini flower gardens. Public plants for a public place. A sneer crossed his face for a second before a growl replaced it. Summoning all his will he removed the helmet and tossed it with a loud bang to rest near the sword. Staring at his hands and then back to man whom the blood had come from, he once again found himself wondering the same four words:

What is going on?

Slowly, he felt himself slipping on his own train of thought. His presence here would only anger people, especially if they found him with a beaten man. Quickly he gathered his things, donning them as he had before and stepped back out into the streets. They had to put the helmet and sword away before meeting with Ashtivar. She wouldn’t approve of them.

Them?

He found himself trying to focus on his own thoughts as his body acted on remote, walking with an odd hurried gait towards his campsite. Everytime he’d latch onto an idea, another one would spring up and tear his attention away. It was like an never ending version of whack-a-gnoll but far more frustrating. So deep in his thoughts was he that he barely even noticed he’d managed to get to the campsite unmolested. Quickly removing the helmet and tossing the sword aside, he retrieved his wooden hammer from the bag. They all knew he used this now since he had lost his other gear. It didn’t matter.

That gear was useless anyways, right?

He paused at that, turning back towards where he had tossed the helm and sword before freezing in place. The sword was missing and the helmet now lay dark, it’s six orange eyes dormant compared to their normal glowing state. Something was wrong here. Armor didn’t act of it’s own accord and swords didn’t disappear randomly…

Eidrin slowly looked around, trying to keep his gaze focused but he found himself simply turning circles for the sake of doing so. His gaze fell to the trees instead and he found himself feeling mocked by their swaying. Growling loudly he lunged at them, stopping just short of the trunk as he realized he was assaulting an inanimate object. Slowly stepping back, he turned around and ran. The hammer strapped to his side banged loudly as his flat-out run send him careening down side streets and nearly bowling into pedestrians.

He didn’t care.

He had to run. Had to move, had to keep-

“Eidrin! We have work to do, let’s go!”

He paused and saw Ashtivar waving at him, her black hair bouncing about as she ran up to him as usual. Behind her waddled Markin, the gnome rogue from the bar. He seemed winded by the speed that Ash was running about, and Eidrin didn’t blame him. She was a handful sometimes, proving this by grabbing Eidrin’s wrists before he could even respond. “Cmon, let’s go! We have to find the rest of the group!”

Instantly the fear vanished. Instantly he didn’t need to run anymore and instead, he was angry. Violently, ruthlessly, horribly angry…and yet. His eyes fell on hers as she frowned at him for taking too long, changing to a cat and racing away into the Mage District. Slowly turning his eyes to Markin, he hid his anger by shrugging lightly.

“Shall we chase her then?”

—–

(Part 2 to come)

Advertisements

Witzle: Being Alone

She could it again. That endlessly horrifying tug at the base of her neck, signaling the approaching change. She didn’t want it. Not again. Never again. All Witzle wanted to do was sleep for once. To place her head down and fall into dreams without terror.

Sleep only brought them closer.

Instead, she found her feet carrying her further into Old Town. At every turn it was a random direction, a new perspective along side ever-moving cobblestone roads. She couldn’t stop. Couldn’t sit still. They would find her if she did. A quiet shiver found its way down her spine at the thought. Whomever found her first, it wouldn’t be safe. The gnomes wanted her for science and the shadows…. Well, they wanted her for less obvious reasons.

Falling even further her self-induced terror, Witzle ran faster into the streets. The alleyways were getting darker as the day went on and with each minute the shadows seemed to reach out for her more. More than once she thought she had felt a hand at her back, whipping around to find no one there. It was maddening to say the least. This little girl who had been but a child when they offered her a job as a tester for the new stealth technology was now being haunted and hunted. She hated it.

“S-Stop it!” she screamed into the empty alleyway, her voice echoing clearly against the gray stones. “Stopitstopitstopitstopitstopit!”

Her eyes clamped shut tightly and she placed her hands over her ears, falling on her knees as she shook lightly. It took her a moment to tell if it was because she was crying or honestly scared. Her tears brought her slowly back down to a calmer level. With a deep, ragged breath she looked up and froze.

Before her stood what could only be called a living silhouette. A figure not unlike a man but without any defining features whatsoever. At first glance it was hard to tell if the thing was even third dimensional, but when it started walking towards her she knew it was real. Her balance gave out and she fell on her ass, using her hands to scoot backwards rapidly. Her saucer-wide green eyes were frozen on this approaching creature, this pitch-black messenger.

It was here. Finally it was here. The terror she was so afraid of had manifested itself finally and now she was going to die. Die. I don’t want to. Not now. I don’t…I don’t. I don’t. I don’t… Her mind recoiled from her thoughts, chasing them in circles as she fell victim to panic. I can’t d-

“Hello again, little one.”

Instantly Witzle froze, every muscle in her body tensing in a way she’d never felt before. It’s voice had seemingly come from nowhere, yet the sound was powerful. Almost painfully so. Her eyes could only stare as fear gripped her, paralyzing her to the spot.

“Why the cold greeting? Didn’t we have fun last time we spoke?” The figure stepped forward quickly, the sudden change in speed causing Witzle to loose sight of him for a second. Instantly it appeared again, crouching down before her. Even with the proximity, she couldn’t figure it out. It was an impossible creature, something that shouldn’t exist and yet… “Come now. Don’t be so silent. We have much to discuss, you and I.”

A quiet sound escaped from Witzle’s throat, sounding like a whine and a scream mixed together. No matter what it said, Witzle was sure the intention was to do far more than talk. They wanted her back. Back with them. Back in that horrible place where everything was hungry. They wanted her to run forever in that black wasteland so they could laugh and torment her. No. NO.

“NO!”

The tiny gnome, spurred on by survival desperation, leapt up and darted around the figure. For a moment it looked as if she might triumph, the figure recoiling in surprise at the sudden action. For a brief moment she felt freedom.

Then it came crashing back down on her as she felt the same deadly cold feeling the last time she’d touched a shadow. When the thing’s hand grazed the back of her neck as it swooped down to clutch at her shirt, she froze. Instantly she was in it’s grasp and hoisted like a light toy to face the impossible thing. Clamping her eyes shut, she tried to drown out it’s voice, but it spoke as if it was everywhere to her.

“Come home, Witzle. Come back with me and we can play forever. Running on the surface isn’t as fun as running where we are. You of all people should know that…”

The shiver that struck the tiny, terrified gnome would’ve been visible to anyone watching from quite a bit away. She was terrified. Utterly and completely terrified to the point of crying. She wanted to cry, to scream, to flail and do whatever she could to just get rid of where she was but… But she knew it had her. The grasp on her body was nothing compared to the one it had on her mind again. Even if she ran, it would find her again. Even she hid, there was no place it couldn’t go. It was shadow incarnate, a thing made from the absence of light and since she could no longer stand the brightness of daytime anymore, shadows were all she had left.

“I d-don’t w-want your hom-me…” she whimpered, the figure leaning down to hear her better. “I w-want m-my home…I w-w-want t-to sleep. G-Go aw-way….”

The figure paused for what seemed a long time before leaning back and howling in the most intensely, unearthly laughter she’d ever heard. She winced visibly as it continued far longer than it probably should have. A cold fear welled in the pit of her stomach, her trembling intensifying as the laughter cut out suddenly. The figure leaned in quickly, getting quite close to her face. “I am never going to leave you, Witzle. No matter what you do I will always be there. You are mine and I NOT let you go.”

For a moment, there was silence and then suddenly it was gone. With a loud yelp, the gnome smacked hard into the cold pavement and into a terrifying silence. She was alone again. The wind gave a hollow moan as it creeped into the alleyway and she felt tears rush down her face. She was never truly alone anymore.

Never alone, but always by herself. Never alone…

Eidrin: The Right Kind of Anger

I sat there, staring. It’s one thing to imagine the feeling of it in your hands, it’s another to watch it slip through your fingers before your very eyes. In what should have been a fleeting moment, I felt eternity slip past me. I can’t explain it and I’m not really sure I want to.

The sounds were familiar, the woods just as bleak and dark as always and yet this supposed-to-be-welcome scene was the last place I wanted to be.

I chose to come.

I didn’t plan on it. In fact I never planned on it. Planned against it even. Planning is something I’m terrible at, obviously. The idea of coming out here sparked simply on the fact of listening to her talk so…emptily about what she saw. I knew in my heart what I would find but when she said she hadn’t even landed I couldn’t help but hope against it. I bolted before my my brain could process it and when I finally came to I found myself astride my mount, debating the pointlessness with her.

Surprisingly, she caved easily. I guess I misjudged her. Instead of talking me down, she joined me. Well…forced her way into the journey is more like it. That’s how she is and..I guess it’s the reason I’m back here writing this.

We took off, her without a word and me without a direction. We flew without speaking to one another or stopping for rest. It took but a day and a half before we arrived at the Wall. Once upon a time I would have felt safe when I saw it but now… Now all I can do is be reminded exactly how my life erupted into the chaotic state it’s in now. Instead of flying into the country’s borders we wisely chose to infiltrate on foot. Though she had flown over before it had been at high altitude. Not low enough for entry as we would need now. Though the trek was longer than I had desired, opting to land near the secessionist…well…ex-secessionist village of Pyrewood. It had given us both cover and insight to where our enemies lay. In the end it only heralded the inevitable, now that I look back.

Once inside the borders we found ourselves surrounded by the strange site of abandoned and empty Forsaken campsites. It was as if the whole invading army I had witnessed firsthand hand slaughtered their way through my people then vanished. The sight unnerved me and I couldn’t read her expression at all. It wasn’t until she suggested we…as she said “Put our fur on” that I knew she was bothered by it as well. The girl whom I had taken for fatally optimistic was slowly vanishing before me and I knew then and there that I wouldn’t let her die for my stupid expedition.

We continued deeper into our home, searching for any sign and receiving nothing until we reached the first gate. It would have led to the Cathedral had we chosen to enter. Knowing what I know now, I am glad for whatever bit of wisdom decided to finally show it’s face to us and steered us away. We chose to swim across the river as the bridge had been blown out and found ourselves in the crypt of our ancestors. What would have been a calming sight now only was a somber reminder of where we were…and again. What we had lost. It was a strange juxtaposition, to say the least. We were looking to a graveyard for happiness and peace, finding only what one would expect. Dead people and memories.

At first we had no idea where to go from there. Rather, I hadn’t planned our path to my destination. I never asked her if she wanted to find anything… Instead she opted to scout ahead as a bird and took off almost as soon as my agreement had left my mouth. She was a Harvest Witch, but that didn’t negate the fact that she was as scared and mournful as I was. Like me, sitting on her hands would only lead to worse thoughts and knowing she was finally doing something I set out to find a map. Instead I found a corridor that would lead to the city’s heart. Upon her return we decided it was best to use the safety of the underground to pass through most of the city. It nearly killed us.

I had heard stories of the giant spider of Gilneas. Even fought my fair share of oversized eight-legged bastards by living in Blackwald, but none of them even came close to the size and terror-inducing shape of this one. Spindly legs that felt like spears. Bulbous body and small head to show that it carried venom…and the chirping. The damn thing made more noise than any hound I’d heard. I had planned on slipping past it but…she changed into a bear and charged it.

Understand it wasn’t bravery or a desire for combat that compelled her but rather panic. A terror-induced fugue of the mind that sent her into desperation mode. She was absolutely horrified by spiders and even fainted upon the things death.  To be fair, it did land both eye guts and web on her and I. It took all I had to rouse her back to consciousness and get us going again, though she bolted from the tunnel faster than anything I’ve ever seen Racing after her I found that we were indeed in the city proper, just a courtyard from the bridge to freedom.

It was there that things went downhill. We saw a patrol of undead; three fights, one archer, a caster and a mender. It was two against six and we stopped caring. Using something she described as a “rocket” as a distraction, we took down the two magic users before coming face to face with reality. Two against four still left us down and while we eventually triumphed…the wounds left us far more cautious. If anything, I’m glad to know she is that kind of Druid that her magic is natural enough to mend wounds quickly. Nothing the Light provided was ever this calming or easy to adapt to.

After the fight, we rested just outside of the city before trekking onward. Through a swamp, over a plain, to a cliff and down it’s face before being presented with the worst sight in memory. The hopeful image of an untained Blackwald Forest. I felt hopeful once again. The forest remained exactly as I recalled it, not a branch overturned by the march of armies or the culling of bodies. I heard the movements around me and felt at home, racing at a dangerous pace through the underbrush. It took me but mere minutes to find it…

…I still am not sure I should have, but I did. I fought my way through a personal hell to find myself face to face with the one thing I had left. A burnt pile of ashes.

I stood there staring from afar, almost afraid to approach it as if that would validate my fears. I had to be mistaken. This had to be a different house. I fooled myself into believing I remembered the forest after this long, right? Right?

Reality crashed in as she dragged me closer, the image of the ashen framework of my house coming clear as we stepped onto the path. I could feel my resolve weakening and my legs threatening to give out. Slowly I found myself stepping onto the foundations and attempting to navigate the last pieces left to me. She stood outside, uncharacteristically reverent of the moment. I wish I had thanked her for that…

I took my time amidst the wreckage before stepping out to find her again. Though she didn’t know it, a deeper sense of release had occurred.  This one, however, was the release of a cage rather than letting go of past memories. I sent her home, choosing to stay behind instead. Eventually she obliged, threatening to come back if I didn’t return in a day. The woman rarely thought her words out before speaking them as we both knew I couldn’t make it back in that time frame. Unlike her, I could not become a bird at will. Nonetheless, I chased her off and returned to my mind.

For most of my time, I only sat there. Ashes are a hard thing to understand. You know you hold that paper, that memory, in your hand yet all it looks like is light grey dust. Holding it tighter only destroys it more and yet you can’t stop yourself. I wonder if this paper will one day become nothing more than ash.  It would be appropriate considering who I am, who she is, and what it would be. Writing in ink upon the future ashes of a man who had only known ash since the day he was born. Poetic, almost.

In time I gave up trying to mourn, finding myself more angry than grief-ridden. I hid my armor and stole the armor of one of the undead we had slain earlier in an attempt to blend in. What few patrols came near the side of the forest nearest to Stormglen never made it home. I killed what I could and broke what I couldn’t. I ran and hid, striking from the pathways I had used to hunt game for years. I used my home as a weapon against the invaders until…

She came back. By Elune the crazy woman had kept her word to the letter. One day later, almost exactly, she returned with a small party of people. The Druid from my first mission under the Legion’s command was there. His presence confused me greatly but was never explained, only offering that they needed me in Stormwind. It took only but a few words from her mouth to slap me about, the Druid giving me little choice as he teleported me to Moonglade shortly after. We both arrived, along with a hopeful and now current recruit, Juhla, in Moonglade still arguing as if nothing had happened. In that moment I lost my home again, but this time I left another piece of me behind.

I had forgotten to change from the undead’s armor back to my Cenarion Circle garb. I wonder if it still lies there, but more importantly…I wonder if it matters. I left the Circle as I left my home; a coward and helpless. In the hours that followed my exodus, I decided I wouldn’t return to wearing that until I could become who I thought I was. Who everyone thought I was.

Past deeds be damned. The Wolf will not control me. This rage will be mine, one day.

One day…