Day of the Dead - Stormwind, 12:05 pm...
The horror happening in the Cathedral District plaza completely overwhelmed Jeb. His stomach was emptied, twice, on the pavement fronting the bench after witnessing children and adults alike being torn asunder by the very toys had had happily given away for free.
He felt empty. No, worse. Empty could be refilled, and what he experienced was beyond that. The human incarnation of Death was more accurate. Darkness, despair, complete and utter loss - as if every child killed had been his very own.
The words started out as a whisper, yet grew in volume until it was a wail of abject anguish. "WHAT HAVE I DONE?" he cried, clawing his forehead as he tried to hide his eyes. Screams, shouts and the stench of charred flesh refused him the opportunity, filling his senses with the horrors he had helped inflict.
He looked at the steaming, stack of innards piled next to the fountain, - the boy who had been engulfed by the blue haze; or what was left of him. Tears freely flowed down Jeb's face, falling in rivers to the vomit-strew ground at his feet.
And then, Light.
Pure, blessed, golden Light engulfed the plaza with sparkling, soul-warming energy, bringing all activity to a complete halt. It poured from the orphanage like rays of sunshine, bathing the horror-stricken people of Stormwind with it's child-like, bell-tingling glow. The despair in his heart departed, replaced with hope, joy and love.
It was as if...
Jeb's eyes snapped toward the remains of the dead child, and widened at the sight they took in: the boy was restored and alive, curled up in fetal position on the ground, alive and breathing - the only sign of tragedy being ripped clothing and blood stains.
Wails turned to praise, and many (including guards) openly cried on the streets of the plaza. One woman proclaimed that it was a miracle, that the Light itself had appeared to save the children of Stormwind from the clutches of Darkness. Others announced that it was their honoured ancestors, returning the many bestowed blessings on this day of reverence.
For Jeb, it was rebirth. He felt whole, solid and focused. Something had happened, beyond any thought or idea that a simple city worker, such as himself, could imagine. But one thought stood out above all others, and he knew EXACTLY what to do.
"Sir," he said, standing and approaching the first Stormwind Guard he saw. "I sold these toys to the children. Please," he said, extending his hands for the cuffs. "Arrest me. It is my fault this happened."
"Mack?" a man called out through the now-open door. "Everything alright in there? I heard a noise." Explosions and cries were happening all over the city, so having one occurring next door had alerted Mack's neighbor, a nosy dockworker named Theo.
"I don't see anyone inside," a woman's voice said from behind Theo. "Maybe you should go in there and have a look." Theo nodded. "Wait here, Mabel," he said. "I don't want anyone coming round thinkin' I'm robbin the place." A flash and boom turned Mabel's eyes, just in time to see a family running down the street disappear into a mist of blood and bone.
She screamed and pushed Theo inside, trying to hide from whatever monster was attacking Stormwind and slamming the door behind.
"By the Light!" Theo whispered, staring into the kitchen of Mack's house. He just managed to catch the contents of his stomach, puffing his cheeks to stop the retching. "Oh, Light! They're, they're..." he shook his head, covering his mouth with his hand. Behind, Mabel was staring at the closed door and crying.
"What's going on, Theo?" she exclaimed. "They blew up! Did you see?" She turned, looking for solace from her husband. Instead, she found despair.
Theo pulled her close, resting her crying face against his chest. "Don't look, dear," he said, patting her back. "Don't look. They're gone." She looked up and into his own tear-stained eyes.
"Why, Theo," she whispered. "Why is this happened?"
He shook his head. "I don't know," he replied. "I don't know."
She took a peek, and before he could stop her from looking, he heard her gasp. "I told you not to..."
The house suddenly filled with sparkling, golden Light, swirling around the room like a Westfall dust devil - rustling the couple's hair as it passed by. All fear faded, causing them to close their eyes in relief - filled with peace, love and joy. They looked into the kitchen, watching the golden dance twirl around the bloodied, gore-strewn room that once was alive with their neighbors.
Lasting only a matter of moments, the scene they watched seemed like blissful eternity. Brilliant Light mingled with that of the family's remains, dancing, weaving and twisting them with glittering specks of gold. The dance grew intense, and Theo and his wife's hair was tossed about like it was a Stormwind gale.
Then, it ended. The dance done, and the Light gone. Everything was quiet, the same as before except with one marked difference:
Mack, Maddi and her mom were alive once more, lying curled on the floor as if asleep, their clothes torn and blood-stained - unharmed and reborn as they were before.
Theo and Maddi fell to their knees, crying and singing the praises of the Light for the return of their friends, and the miracle of the Light itself.
All over Stormwind, whether the Cathedral District or the docks, children and adults destroyed by the tigers, either by claw or by bomb, were now reborn in the Light as if the event had never happened. As for the ones taken into the rifts, only time would tell if they would ever be heard from again.
Inside of Bartholomew Barkston's Stormwind estate, a celebration was occurring - though only two would know what for. Just two minutes into the noon-time hour, it was now quite apparent to Vincent and Bartholomew that the plan had been a success, and that the tigers were operating as expected.
"And what now, Vincent," Barkston said, leaning his massive frame back in his complaining chair. "Your symphony is complete, you have orchestrated a grand finale and seen to it that the TwinSeas, namely Jarington, receives the blame."
Vincent sipped his wine, cocking his head as he listened to the distant explosions and screams. "Where do you go from here?" Barkston said, finishing his question with a raised eyebrow.
"Oh, my dear Bartholomew," Vincent said with a smile. "This is only a movement. The great symphony continues, my friend; for eternity, if need be." He waved his two pointing fingers back and forth as if directing the orchestration. "I am merely a composer, who's works shall reverberate through time and memory. Ebbing, growing, flowing and moving - anonymous to all but the lead soloists."
Vincent stopped directing, freezing in place as the sounds he had been listening to stopped - his eyes cast toward the ceiling as if he could see into the city. Finally, he smiled and looked at Barkston.
"It seems another soloist has emerged," he said, then reached for his wine. "Did you hear it, Bartholomew? Pain and anguish turning to praise and joy." Barkston lifted an eyebrow at his employer, then shrugged.
"No," he said. "I didn't hear a thing."
"Precisely!" Vincent snapped, pointing a finger at Barkston. he looked to the ceiling again, moving his head in a rhythmic sort of way, as if hearing music no other being could hear. "And now, they celebrate. Ahhh, yes. They have been saved."
Vincent sighed, closing his eyes and letting the deep breath out slowly. "No matter," he suddenly stated, opening his eyes and reaching for a plate of melon. "The damage is wrought, the guilty party will be brought to justice. And then, Barthlomew, we shall play again."
Barkston nodded, unsure what his boss was getting at, yet not really caring. Moryarti paid well. VERY well, so if the man was a bit off, then who was he to judge?
"Then here's to your new play, Vincent," Barkston said, offering a toast. "I look forward to it."
Vincent nodded once, smiling like a child who had received a clockwork tiger.There's Still Villainy To Do