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Stepanos DelaCroix
Stepanos DelaCroix
Posts: 33
Joined: June 27th, 2014, 9:10 pm
Stepanos DelaCroix

Eclipse: Nightmares of the Righteous Light

Postby Stepanos DelaCroix » May 4th, 2015, 3:24 pm

((It's a shame I missed out on such an amazing event. However, my character would have been there with his fellow Guardians. The following is what happened, how he missed the fight and his nightmare))

(( Also, the thread title has been changed to allow for the entire Order to post their nightmares in one location. Previous Stepanos's Nightmare, now it will be used by any within the Righteous Light who wish. Please note, when adding your part, please title it with your name, as I have done in my posts to this thread. Enjoy))

Stepanos DelaCroix's Nightmare

The charge of the Righteous Light was glorious! Mounted Guardians, each bearing the standard of the Order, raced toward the giant Alpha - lances lowered and shields set. Thunder of pounding hooves rumbled above the din, mixing with jingling barding and snorting chargers. Guard Hegran had taken the lead, with the High Inquisitor himself riding to his right.

Yet Stepanos found himself lagging. Stout laboured, striving for all he was worth to regain the lead. Try as he might, the great stallion fell behind the charge and was soon alone in space behind the surging cavalry. There was no stopping, though. Battle lust filled the force, and the thrill of being first to drive a lance into the beast drove the Guardans forth.

There came a clank, like the sound a hammer makes when connecting with loose, unsecured metal. As a young blacksmith, it had been a familiar one - something to be avoided when crafting blades. If the molten metal was not solid against the anvil, the sound would resonate as the hammer simply bounced away from the metal.

However, this sound echoed inside his helmet, and it was mixed with explosive blackness. An eternal split second of thought, where time and memory meld into everlasting moments. Something hard punched his side, sending him bouncing and rolling - flashes of light filling his visor.

The ground? How could that be? Why was the field sideways? He was unhorsed, but the manner in which it occurred was unknown. Had he been hit? Sparkles mixed with Light mixed with pain. His head screamed in anguish, and the sparkling darkness opened just enough to provide a glimpse of cavalry colliding with a beast. How odd....

Wetness splashed into his eyes, washing over his face and running down his neck. He rubbed them with his hand and grimaced, shrinking back from the watery assault. "Did we win?" he muttered, blinking his eyes open. Where was his helm? His gauntlets? Hadn't he just fallen? Something smelled terrible, like molding cheese mixed with rotten broccoli.

"Bah!" an accented voice said, accompanied by another deluge of water onto his face. "No one win with you here, Stepanos!" A female voice that sounded familiar. "Now move and let yaks eat. You sleep too long and never take bath. You go now!"

"Wha, what?" he said, blinking an squinting - just making out the form of a large, rotund figure. He sat up, and his head exploded in pain - smashing against something hard and making a hollow thump. "Aaaah!" he said, ducking and touching the surface. It was a wood.

Sight returned, he saw he was underneath a wagon, and lying atop a bed of water-soaked hay. He groaned, heart sinking deep within the dark hollow of his empty chest. The smell was coming from him, and the reality of his existence filled him with resignation once again.

"I said you go, now!" Graceful Swan said, threatening Stepanos with another bucket of water. "I need cart to deliver food, and yaks need hay to eat." She hefted the bucket to dump, and Stepanos held out his filthy hand.

"Okay, okay," he muttered, sliding from under the wagon that acted as his home. It worked well, for the most part, except when Swan needed it to deliver goods. Or the yaks needed fed. Two of the shaggy beasts were behind the Pandarian woman, chewing cud and grunting for Stepanos to move.

"They ate my mace, Schwan," he said, staggering to his bare feet. He lifted a feeble hand at the woman. "For that, I want more soju!" She waved a dismissive hand at the fallen paladin.

"Fine," she said. "It inside. You paid for it, you drink it." She cocked her head, as the yaks stuck their heads under the cart to munch hay. "What you mean about winning, Stepanos? You make gamble?" He sighed, smiled and bent to bow - unable to do much with the weight he carried around his waist.

"Just a dream, Swan," he said, grunting from the effort of such strenuous activity. "The Light teasing me with what could have been." He chuckled, and attempted to pat her on the shoulder.

"You know what I dream, Stepanos?" she said, dodging away from his touch. "I dream for lucky day when you gone!"

"Ah, Swan," he said, shrugging and walking toward the tavern. "You don't mean that. This is my home, and soju is the only friend I have left in this world." Something warm buzzed inside of his shirt pocket, but he ignored it. More than likely a bedbug trying for a few more bites before leaving.

He walked into the tavern and found his seat. A pitcher of soju sat in the middle of the table, just as Swan had said. His very own pitcher, his very own table and his very own chair. It WAS home, and the only place in the world he cared to be.

Since the Order had died, it had been this way. Day upon day of Soju. His friend, his companion. Life without end; Soju without end.

Amen.
Last edited by Stepanos DelaCroix on May 7th, 2015, 12:12 am, edited 3 times in total.

Stepanos DelaCroix
Stepanos DelaCroix
Posts: 33
Joined: June 27th, 2014, 9:10 pm
Stepanos DelaCroix

Re: Eclipse: Stepanos's Nightmare

Postby Stepanos DelaCroix » May 5th, 2015, 7:04 pm

Stepanos DelaCroix's Nightmare...

It burned.

Like molten metal from the Great Forges of Ironforge, the Pandarian liquid slid down his throat - clawing and scouring everything in it's path. It was glorious. A warm friend on a cold night, filling his soul with fiery love for the beverage. His only friend, his true friend - liquid Light in a bottle.

Soju.

Stepanos leaned back in his chair. Kicking his bare, mud-stained feet atop the table, he wrapped his hands behind his head and sighed. Sweat stained his arm pits, darkening the already dirt-caked silken shirt that no longer resembled anything fine - adding to the garbagescent stench that permeated his entire person.

"This is the life," he said, watching the door for Swan's return. No responsibility, no need for order or discipline. He couldn't ask for anything more. He sighed and wiggled his toes, noticing the yellowish mold growing beneath the nails. So nice not needing to care about cleanliness. Who needed that when one had Soju.

"We are the best of friends, are we not, Stepanos?" the bottle in the middle of the table said. While being plain, the label featured a fuzzy black Pandaren wearing a conical straw hat, and surrounded by dense jungle. It stepped from the scene and walked across the table toward Stepanos.

"That we are, Soju!" Stepanos said to the tiny Panderan figure. "I thought I'd lost you during my dream." He returned the chair to it's four legs, and extended his arm so the little Soju could walk into his palm. "It's good to have you back."

"Yes," Soju said, his voice deep and wise. "Soju is all there is in life, Stepanos. You should remember this always." The former paladin nodded, his eyes transfixed on the Pandaren. "What have I always said?" Stepanos scrunched his eyes in thought, then nodded and smiled.

"Slow down," Stepanos said. "Soju is to be savoured!" The panderan clasped his hands together as if in prayer and bowed.

"You are most wise, Stepanos," Soju said. "Life is Soju, and Soju is life."

Crunching of gravel interupted the conversation, and Stepanos looked toward the door. A growing shadow appeared, lengthening into the tavern. Soju jumped from Stepanos's hand and ran to the bottle, leaping into the scene and freezing in place.

"Welcome to Green Stone Tavern!" Swan said, placing the glass she had been drying upon the bar. The figure said nothing, though Stepanos could not see the face, as it was hooded. Swan cleared her throat.

"I said welcome to Green Stone Tavern," she said again, this time stepping from behind the bar. "Can I help you?"

"No," the figure said, clearly female from the pitch and tone of her voice. "I do not want your help, Panderan. I am looking for someone."

"No one here," Swan said, glancing at Stepanos. "Only bum. And he need bath. I try to make him leave, but..." The woman raised a gloved hand into the barkeep's face, stopping her words.

"Silence!" the woman said, walking toward Stepanos's table. "I did not come here to talk to a bear."

Stepanos ran filthy fingers through his scraggly beard, then adjusted his adventurer's hat. Banded with a spotted cloth, it was supposed to resemble the skin of a fierce jungle cat. Instead, it looked like something found dead in a wagon rut after five days underneath a boiling sun.

"You looking for me, schweetheart?" Stepanos said, then motioned for the woman to have a seat. She stared at him for a moment, harsh eyes piercing into his from beneath the darkened cowl. She dusted the seat with her hand, and sat - glaring at him. "I have soju!" He glanced at the bottle and saw the Pandaren shake his head, then return to a static position. Was he scowling?

"Or maybe not..." The Panderan smiled.

"I did not come here to drink, Stepanos," the woman said, lowering her hood. "I came here to see why you never showed up at the Tian Monestary, like you planned." Stepanos shrugged, and reached for his glass. Interestingly enough, it was full. The Pandaren winked, and Stepanos smiled. A TRUE friend.

"Meh," he said, lifting the glass to his lips. "I tried to climb that never-ending, bloody stone staircase, and made it to the first landing." He drank, curling his lips around the glass's edge so as not to spill any of his friend. "After that, I told the Monk to bugger off and let me be."

His shirt pocket buzzed, warmer than the previous time. Bloody bedbugs, he thought. I should say something to Swan. How could anyone stay in a tavern infested with those creatures?

Nineeve shook her head, her lips pursed in disgust. "Pitiful," she stated. "And here I thought you were changing." She cocked her head. "What of my offer? Did that mean nothing to you?" He paused mid-swallow, as a thread tugged from deep within his brain, almost pulling his eyeball into his head.

The Pandaren on the bottle... growled, it's face flashing to that of a wolf, before returning to the wizened gaze of his friend. The tug faded, and Stepanos sighed. Still friends. All's good in the world.

"Nope," he said, though the words seemed weaker than his others. He took another drink. "You're dead anyway, so your offer was never real. Besides, why would I change when I have everything I could ever want right here?"

Nineeve laughed, draping one arm over the back of the chair as she twisted - her hand patting the wooden chair-back. "Living in filth?" she said. "Wallowing with yaks? Drinking that vile poison?" She nodded. "Yea, some life, High Commander."

He frowned when she insulted his friend. Rage built within his chest, and he absently reached for his missing mace. Damn yaks. He saw the Pandaren nod toward Nineeve. RIght. Have to deal with her. Now.

He burst from his chair. Which in his current state, meant he wobbled and crashed into the wall, sending the chair careening to the floor. Steadying himself, he stood upright and pointed at Nineeve.

"OUT!" he bellowed. "What right do you have coming in here and insulting my friend?!" She looked toward Swan, who was ignoring the conversation completely by drying glasses.

"What friend?" she said, looking back at Stepanos. "You surely don't mean me, as I wouldn't insult myself." She cocked her head. "Who are you talking about?" He blinked, seeing that Nineeve was beginning to spin in her chair.

"Get," he said, reaching for his glass. "Out!" He threw the remaining liquid at Nineeve, splashing her in the face before she could block with her hands. Nineeve shattered into hundreds of crystal shards, mixing with the droplets of Soju and spraying across the room. Broken images of a shocked Nineeve disappeared as they met the floor, tinkling like broken bells.

Stepanos stared at the scene, wobbling in place as his breathing returned to his control. The rage faded, and he looked toward the table. What the fel was that? Soju hopped from the bottle and laughed, grabbing his belly and throwing his head back as he did so.

"That will teach her to insult your friend, Stepanos," Soju said, once his laughter was finished. He pointed toward the bottle. "You should have more. Your glass is empty." Stepanos looked at the glass, and noticed Soju was correct. It was empty.

"Yes," he said, reaching for the bottle. "I think I will."

It was full. As always. Never empty, friend without end.

Amen.

Stepanos DelaCroix
Stepanos DelaCroix
Posts: 33
Joined: June 27th, 2014, 9:10 pm
Stepanos DelaCroix

Re: Eclipse: Stepanos's Nightmare

Postby Stepanos DelaCroix » May 7th, 2015, 12:46 am

Stepanos DelaCroix's Nightmare...

The days crawled by, pulling the minutes and hours along with them like a prisoner dragging his ball and chain up a steep, Pandarian stairway. The humid sun set, Stepanos slept under his wagon. The humid sun rose, he drank with Soju inside of the tavern. Time was irrelevant, and each moment melded into one another as if forged into alloy.

Graceful Swan ignored him. She focused on tasks of drying glasses and cooking stir fry, not bothering to even talk to him since the day Nineeve had appeared. Thinking of her made his head tug, and because of the pain behind his eye, he'd stopped doing so altogether - making his friend very happy.

Besides, he had Soju. There was no need to think about anything else.

The humidity of the Jade Forest warmed the inside of the tavern, keeping it's only visitor bathed in sweat and stench. He cared not, nor did the yaks who sometimes wandered in to say hello. They missed him, on occasion, especially when he failed to fall asleep under the wagon. In fact, he felt that they were almost family. Like Soju, but not quite.

"How is the taste, Stepanos?" Soju asked, opening one eye from his seated lotus position beside the bottle. "This batch was made just for you, my friend." Stepanos nodded, then sipped.

"It'sh good," he said, licking his lips dry of the drink's residue. He blinked twice, and the room lost focus for a brief moment. Colours faded to gray, like heavy rains draping their soggy, thick curtains over the Valley of the Four Winds. He felt... thin, wispy and near non-existent. Something he'd never felt before. He looked at the bottle, the jungle scene where Soju normally stood.

It was clear, green and inviting. No rains drenched the land there. It pulled him, drawing him closer. Such a pleasing scene, a place where one could live forever. He reached...

A warm buzz from his shirt pocket snapped his attention away from the bottle. He swatted at it, like it was a biting fly - bringing his hand to his heart in a...

Fist to Light salute.

Why did that seem important? Soju snorted, then stood, placing his hands before him as if in prayer. "Stepanos!" he said. "You must focus! Do not let the dream take you from your duty to family and friendship." Stepanos cocked his head, as if failing to understand.

"What is worth fighting for?" Soju demanded, walking forward and glaring at Stepanos.

"Family," Stepanos said slowly. "Family and..."

"Who is your family?" Soju said, interupting Stepanos before he could finish. The little Pandaren walked up the paladin's arm to meet him eye to eye. "Who is your friend?" The buzz faded, and Stepanos's shoulder sagged in resignation; relief.

"Why," he said, suddenly grinning ear to ear. "You are, Soju! You are my friend, and therefore my family." The little Pandaren nodded once, then bowed.

"You are most wise," Soju said. "Have another taste. I made it especially for you."

Stepanos did as requested, drinking down the fabulous liquid straight from the bottle. The jungle seemed brighter, and the biting flies on his chest seemed dull - fading away with every gulp of Soju.

Why do I drink? he asked himself between swallows. For home, for family, and for my friend.

Amen.

Astraea Sammuels
Astraea Sammuels
Posts: 5
Joined: August 2nd, 2014, 11:47 am
Astraea Sammuels

Eclipse: Nightmares of the Righteous Light - Astraea

Postby Astraea Sammuels » May 7th, 2015, 10:06 am

((I know I haven't really been involved in the storyline, but I love me some nightmares. The flow is kind of confusing, and details are kind of muddled about. This was on purpose! That's how my nightmares work.))


Astraea's Nightmare


Stormwind was in the grip of a new plague. Healers of all kinds had been drawn to the city, all making attempts at cures or containment – all in vain. Astraea was no exception.

She'd taken early leave from the triage tent she'd been running in Nagrand to respond to an order from Lord Stepanos for all available guardians to gather for a battle of some sort. Having buried her sword a while ago and vowing never to raise another, she wasn't sure she'd be much help on the battlefield. When she'd arrived in the city to find it stricken by a plague, she'd decided her place was with the afflicted. Memories of Lordaeron still haunted her – they probably always would – and she'd rather start summoning demons and playing with fel energy then let another plague consume a kingdom.

The nature of the plague made it difficult to treat with any magical means, so many of the healers who had come to help were next to useless. Astraea had been treating injuries and sickness for long enough to still be of some help with minimal aid of the Light, but dedicated herbalists, alchemists and surgeons were at a premium. Still, nobody had found a cure and the symptoms were getting worse at an alarming rate. Many of the afflicted began to die, while the plague continued to spread. The number of healers and doctors was beginning to wane. If someone didn't find a cure soon, the kingdom might be lost. This fear kept many of the healers, including Astraea, away from sleep for too long. After two and a half days of near-constant tending to patients, someone was finally able to relieve her for a while.

Having nowhere else in Stormwind to go, Astraea practically collapsed on to one of the bedrolls that had been occupied by a now-deceased patient only a few hours before. It didn't take long for exhaustion to trump worry, and Astraea slipped free of her earthly bonds only to arrive in a place somehow less comforting.


A sea of amber glowing in the setting sun. A breeze that promised a cool, nighttime respite from the heat of the day.

Soon.

Laughter somewhere ahead. Soft stalks of wheat parted their path for a young Astraea, leading her to her family.

Her father and oldest brother – Percy – had pinned down the middle child, Nick. It was his laughter that led her here.

“Alright, you found us! You win!” Percy said between giggles.

Percy and father let Nick go and stood. They both turned away from Astraea and looked south, over the field. She couldn't make out their faces. The sunlight was too bright. Or was it the shadow it cast?

They didn't seem to notice her at all. They began to walk away.

Astraea felt tears well up in her eyes. “Where are you going?” She cried out. There was a hand on her shoulder.

It was Nick. He was taller – older, with a thick, red mustache. His grip was firm. “We have to go,” he said.

She knew he was right. The sun was gone. It was dark. The air had grown too cold. The golden wheat had started to whither and die.

They ran south, too. As each stalk of wheat died, Astraea could hear it. Above the clinking of metal as her and Nick ran awkwardly in full suits of armor, there were screams. The death throes of thousands filled the air, all of them for her. The sounds seemed to make the air heavy. Her legs wouldn't carry her as fast as they should. Panic started to overcome her when she heard another sound.

The heavy beating of wings too large. The terribly familiar growl. Astraea looked up and saw the wings, somehow darker than the night sky, spread over the whole field. Teeth, jagged spears in rows that formed a twisted grin. Behind them, a glow. She felt the heat of the fire before she saw it. It seemed to grip her, to pick her up, squeeze her out of shape and drop her into a new mold. She tore her sword from its scabbard and began swinging wildly, without thought or technique. Inexplicably, the fires subsided. As soon as she felt the ground again she turned to her brother.

It was too late, Nick's body was devoured by flame that had now overcome the fields. She started hacking at the dying or burning wheat in her way. Somehow, it cut through the heavy air and allowed her to run again. She slashed and ran until the field was far behind her and a stone wall was in front.

The wall was infinitely high and long. Astraea raged against it with her sword, doing nothing but tiring herself and blunting the blade for what must've been hours before she heard the voice.

“Are you going to go in?”

She looked away from the wall briefly and there was a man. He was tall, wearing a Stormwind City Guard's uniform. His dark green eyes were barely visible behind the steel helm. Captain Spero. Astraea felt a sudden pain in her chest. “I don't think I can get through, sir” she said.

The sword in her hand screamed.

YES YOU CAN

Dashaun looked up at the wall, then back at her. “I know a way,” he said, apparently not having heard the third voice.

YOU DON'T NEED HIS HELP

Astraea's hand began to shake. She kept her eyes on the ground. It was suddenly difficult for her to speak, like someone was choking her. “I... want your help,” she barely managed to whisper. With those words, the pain in her chest began to ease. She could feel the sun at her back, rising after a long night.

“Good,” she heard Dashaun say. “Come with my friend and I, then.”

When Astraea looked up, she felt a rising tide of rage at who was there with Dashaun. A dark haired woman. No- not just dark – shadow. She was wreathed in it, distorted by it. The woman's face seemed to change every few seconds like the shadows cast by a flickering candle. But Astraea became fixated on just one; The one that smirked endlessly. The one that belonged to Shana Catai. The warmth of the sunlight at her back was gone now. A cold wind kicked up and the scent of bourbon seemed to prick at the inside of her nostrils. Astraea tightened the grip on her sword and broke into a run.

“YOUR FRIEND ISN'T COMING!” she screamed.

Shana dissolved before Astraea's blade could strike. Instead, the blade tore through Dashaun's armor as though it weren't there and came out the other side with his heart skewered and his blood spilling onto the ground. Dashaun's eyes rolled upward, his body went limp and he began to fall into the empty grave behind him.

Astraea pulled the sword out and stumbled back, horrified. She tried to throw away the sword, but it wouldn't leave her grip. It began to feel heavy – too heavy. She continued to stumble away from Dashaun's grave until she tripped and fell into one of her own. The light disappeared in an instant and she was lost.

KEEP GOING

“No... no, NO, NO MORE!” Astraea finally mustered the strength to shout and she threw the sword away. She could hear it clink and clang as it skittered across a stone floor.

Astraea was alone now, in a cave where darkness and silence reigned. It was a long time before there was a light again. She felt the heat of the flame before she saw it, burning softly atop the helmet of another tall man in a suit of armor – this suit trimmed with gold.

“I was here once,” the man said. His voice was familiar to Astraea.

“But I wonder if you can follow me out,” Lord Stepanos mused, looking down at her.

“I will,” Astraea said. She tried to stand and follow him, but she found herself too weak. She leaned her back against the wall.

I AM YOUR STRENGTH

“You'll have to bring it with you,” Stepanos said.

Astraea sagged and slid down the wall until she was back on the floor in a pathetic heap. “I can't,” she practically whimpered.

“We need you outside.” Stepanos turned away, taking his flame with him.

Astraea watched him go. The light from the flame dimmed and dimmed, but it remained ever visible. Days later, there alone in the darkness, she never lost sight of the faint glimmer of light in the distance.

It gave her strength enough to stand at first. Eventually, it gave her strength to start walking. But every few steps, she'd feel something behind her – like a hound nipping at her heels until it caused her to stumble. Every time she stumbled, she would get right back up.

YOU'LL NEVER GET ANY CLOSER

Three steps, four steps, the bite. Get up.

YOU ARE WEAK

Four steps, five steps, the bite. Get up.

WE COULD BE STRONG

Five steps, six steps, the bite. Get up. She coul feel the light's warmth. Seven steps, eight steps, no bite? The light hung in the air in front of her. It hadn't grown, but there it was. She reached out to grab hold of it, but stopped when when she saw someone else step in out of the shadow.

She saw herself. Rust colored hair, caked with blood and grime covered half of her face. The one visible eye that should have been a bright violet was grey and empty. Her lip curled in a permanent snarl. She was wearing a suit of plain armor that was chipped, burnt and dented. She dragged a black greathammer on the ground behind her as she lurched forward into the light. The doppelganger pointed an armored finger at Astraea.

"YOU'LL NEVER SAVE ANYONE WITHOUT ME!"

Astraea's hand trembled over the mote of light.

“YOU KNOW IT'S TRUE! COME BACK!”

With great effort, Astraea managed to turn her head side to side. “No,” she whispered “I never saved anyone with you.”

The doppelganger gave a wild yell and raised the black hammer over her head. As it came rushing down, Astraea shut her eyes and closed her hand tightly around the mote of light.

She felt warm.

She opened her eyes again. A sea of amber stretched out into the horizon as far as she could see, swaying in the setting summer sun. She heard something behind her – a hammer? She turned around.

People were crawling all over the old, worn out buildings of Moonbrook, making repairs. Others carried water, or sacks of grain to their homes. Some were coming up from the mines with wheelbarrows full of glistening gold. The children too young to help played in the streets.

Astraea looked down at the mote of light still in her hand. She wasn't sure she heard the word as much as she felt it;



Life




Her eyes finally opened to reality.


((Partial inspiration goes to APC.))

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