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Kexti
Kexti
Posts: 36
Joined: November 30th, 2014, 9:34 pm
Kexti

Eclipse: Julilee and Kex'ti's Nightmare

Postby Kexti » May 3rd, 2015, 8:59 pm

It’s like a hangover. His head aches, vaguely. His throat is dry, and the scent of wet rope stains the pervasive scent of lilac and lavender. Kex’ti opens his eyes, and ties on his clothes. He makes collar knots at his wrists and ankles.
Following the rope along the bannister and down into the wake, Kex’ti looks at the closed casket at the end of the room. The blue-purple curtains leading into hallways and basement corridors stocked of linen, yeast and wine billow and rattle. The prattle and pindrop echoes of rain outside provide background music as he comes down onto the stage of the wake. The lights are dimmed, his mother’s incense (Gods below he hated that word.) chandeliers click in the wind (blowing) in the winding (coil) chamber as their chains hang them ever lower over the drifting figures of his parents and sisters. They’re just the same as the day they left for the Sunwell, to intercept hordes of ghouls and crypt fiends. They’re just the same as the day their ashes arrived back in Murder Row.

The bar is empty. Kex’ti wants his medicine; a drink; both? His father wore the same sweater and pants as he always did. He stretched the collars out. His mother would yell at Tideriel. Tideriel would always offer to buy more. The two would embrace. They’d lock the door, leaving Kex’ti, Miliana, Ashera, and Lirin to run the inn; see to beds. Make sure the food was ready.

“Why did you never have it ready?” asks the much older blood elf. His eyes, then, shone a lunar blue. Here, they burned in the dark, fixing Kex’ti in their gaze. “Why did you never have it ready?”

“I was slow. Your daughters didn’t help once they learned magic,” says Kex’ti.

“Why did you never have it ready?

“I did! I did everything you wanted from me. I’ve done it by now!”

“You would cast a spell once. Then you’d give up. I don’t know what’s wrong with you. My other children never were like this. Miliana rebelled, but she was a better archer than I gave her credit for. But they were what I wanted them to be. But I had no son. You could’ve been there with us, you know.”

“I couldn’t breathe. I was a child. You paid for healers to fix my lungs.”

“You were my child. I had three excellent children. And I had you. You were too much your mother. You didn’t even take care of her. You were never ready to take care of her.”

Kex’ti pauses, the wispy dream logic stretching memory into shibari knots and sails.

“Who died?”

Thalassian magic was song. His sisters had talent and ambition, and training to put innate prowess to work. Magic flowed from them like words of creation. But the syllables caught in Kex’ti’s throat. He could tear them free, had to, the notes and chords were too heavy to leave incomplete. They begged to be sewn into a complete verse. The monk’s sisters sang; he couldn’t even form a complete sentence. Hours poured into cadence and rhythm, tone and tenor, and finally, a series of small sparks erupted from his hands. But nobody saw. And he felt sick for the first time.

His father’s bangles weighed his arms to the table. Kex’ti looked for his mother. For some certainty. The smell of lavender and lilac were overpowering, and he grabbed a cup of ashes. Thinking it wine, it became so, and he washed down the funerary urns with more and more bone and dust, each click of the lid’s latch the start of another thirstless drink.

“Mother, who died? Father’s been gone with the girls for a long time now.”

Arrinia kept folding the silk, looping it and unlooping it. A ribbon. Another ribbon. Another.

“Mother?”

“We all do. They’ll come back.”

“Mother, I’m sick.”

“We’re all sick, Kexerian. That’s why we’re Dalendalas.”

“I’m not sick like the rest of you.”

“You’re just a different type of sick?” she muses, the loops binding the windows closed against the rain, which sizzled against the wood. Kex’ti remembered those shutters and their nightingales and ravens cavorting under a faded moon, or perhaps even a faded sun. The Arakkoa weren’t the birds of Azeroth, but they got so close to the sun.

“I’m sorry.”

“Nobody’s dead, sunshine.”

“Then what’s all this?” Kex’ti motions around the darkened room, but the lights are gone. His father sat in darkness on the bar. His mother continues her fussing. He sees her hair slowly trickle away like sand in an hourglass, stealing away her coherence and figure. The elf had heard a neighbor remark that Arrinia was a bellows with a hole poked in it. It wouldn’t blow out immediately, but the rip in her heart and her head grew and grew with each task requested.

He took the only steps he could into the stinging rain, and locked the dark behind him. Tesonii found a slug once, and brought it up to his windowsill one night while her parents were at work and Kex’ti was asleep. Kex’ti snuck to the kitchen and got a salt shaker.

The window wasn’t even there when he looked up. Shrouds of warm, intimate darkness had flaked away under the downpour. Slurry of windows and patios dissolved at his feet, draining off somewhere deep and unwanted.
Overhangs and rotted, flapping awnings kept most of the rain off, but his clothes had fell away, leaving only shackles at his wrists and feet. He kept rope around his waist, tying each door to his waist, only to lose his way back when he tried to brave the rust-colored precipitation. Retreating back to the doors never worked. They dissolved, or the twine gave. Red welts rose on his arms. This is what he knew dying would be like. His flesh was ruined. The inside was joined in its revolt against him by the exterior.

Each door hid away laughter; secrets he wanted to know; the laughter of an evening by the fire; struggling against his peers with swords or bows or spells. They weren’t experiences. They were things. And he’d learned that things didn’t keep well. On came the rain. With it washed away any semblance of progress, leaving only pieces of love letters from lost soldiers, long-forgotten. Fragments that may have brought back memories of a one-time song in a tavern or festival, or a book read so many times the ink smudged.

Days may have passed, or minutes. A growing desperation set into Kex’ti. He felt sick. Hungry. His joints ached and cracked with each step, and he’d tried to smear some of the sludge onto his lips to keep them from being trapped. The burn was horrible, and he found himself thankful he didn’t drink it.

Julilee
Julilee
Posts: 124
Joined: August 24th, 2014, 2:13 pm
Julilee

Re: Eclipse: Julilee and Kex'ti's Nightmare

Postby Julilee » May 3rd, 2015, 9:11 pm

It was raining out, so Juli had to stay inside.

She worked diligently on her lessons to the drumbeat rhythm of the rain, filling up parchment after parchment with rote letters and numbers. They didn't make any sense after she wrote them, but she knew they were right, because she was careful and thorough. Patiently she worked, knowing there was always more to do, and that all she could do was keep working at it.

Her mother was arguing with her. "No, honey, you can't go outside. It's raining. You'll get wet. It's not what you're supposed to do."

"I won't, Mother," Juli said, still writing. The piles of books had grown taller on the table, until she could barely see her mother over them.

"You have to do what you're told," her mother continued arguing with her. Her mother was a sweet, reasonable woman, just trying to make sure Juli understood. Her daughter's best interests were her only concern. "If you go outside, you'll get wet. Your father will be upset, you know. He just wants you to be successful."

Juli was running out of parchment, but her lessons weren't done. "I know, Mother," Juli said, getting off her chair as she tried to find more writing materials. The piles of books had filled up the study, making a hedge maze of pages. Juli put her left hand on the wall and began following it, knowing logically that doing so meant she would find her way out eventually.

It went on and on, but her patience didn't flag. She had faith. Then she saw a place where the pile had tumbled over, making a ramp. Realizing the opportunity, she was able to climb up the sliding books, using her hard-earned dexterity and strength, and gain the top of the wall. From there she looked over the maze. She wasn't the only one trying to find her way. Countless people wended around the twists and turns.

"Oh, honey, you're not supposed to do that," her mother said. She was standing in a dead end. Juli looked beyond and saw the exit was close.

"Turn around, go left, straight, and then right," Juli said. "I can show you where to go from here."

"Your father will be so disappointed," her mother said sadly.

The words struck Juli like a blow, even though she had taken everything before this in stride. She was able to help, but she was being told she wasn't supposed to, that it was wrong. Stunned, she stood atop the wall as everyone else in the maze began to look up at her, everyone one of them with surprise, confusion, or disapproval.

"You were such a good girl," her mother said.

Juli looked to the walls of the study. The rain beat red at the windows, leaving streaks like rust.

She realized something was wrong.
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Kexti
Kexti
Posts: 36
Joined: November 30th, 2014, 9:34 pm
Kexti

Re: Eclipse: Julilee and Kex'ti's Nightmare

Postby Kexti » May 3rd, 2015, 9:12 pm

It was a dream. Yet within it, he’s helpless, in a peripheral sense. Like a compass missing a loadstone, he was only aware of the edges of his own perception, and the direction he thought he walked. The rain’s sounds made him sleepy. Insomnia’s weight eventually sends him sprawling into the muck.

He looks back under his arm as he helps himself up. Something’s there. He held a burned hand to his eyes, trying to get some vantage on the thing. A building? Cart? Perhaps? No, maybe? Something a live? Someone alive? A few flickering blinks later, the shape had dissolved and sunk into the sludge.

But it doesn’t dissolve. He keeps seeing it. There was no pattern to this place, or if there was, it was a trick. A maze; a challenge not for its own sake but for discipline. Each structure or repetition was designed to obfuscate, revealing only further deception. As sleep began to set in, the shape advanced towards him, growing blocks closer in staggering jumps when his eyelids drooped. He hit his leg as hard as he could to shock himself into awareness. Exhausted or no, Kex’ti could hit himself hard enough to shoo away sleep.

Sleep haunts him as mosquitoes looking for exposed flesh. He waves his hand through a swarm of black motes at the edge of his vision, and the brown/red shape stalks closer, only to sink into the watery passages.

A spark of purple flashes beyond the window of one of the doorways. The shape emerges from around a corner. It walks on two legs, but lopes on its forearms. Something imposing like a caul spreads behind it and rises above it. The rain blurs the details and the strain of his eyes obliterates them completely. He panics, and beats at the door. He realizes, knows, deeply, if he stops seeing the thing, it will close this distance. It wears a pink face, and acid-blossomed metal shines from its arms. Gauntlets? Kex’ti takes no time to discern as he beats at the door, his gaze firmly locked on the encroaching stain.

The door gives, and he barrels inside, slamming it behind him. He can’t breathe. Everything starts to burn in the dark. Outside, he smells fetid iron and sweat. He tastes blood. In the shadows, light shines from a green, glowing archway. A purple shape begins to work its way into the viridian, vibrant mists. He sees a shield. And a sword. And he’s already running when he confirms the woman’s short, dark hair. The chamber is littered with books, and he scrambles his way through the stacks of knowledge.
He tears away piles of manuals and tomes, their secrets needless and arbitrary.

And he’s too late as he crosses the threshold. He desperately chases after the fading figure, but hears only a gentle scraping and rattling breath behind him. He runs on.

The mist parts into blue-green trees. Aviation flares burn purple on a landing strip, and nether rays churn and roil in distant swarms over the Terokkar pines. A pillar of light ascends into the foggy, rain-worn sky above Shattrath, and Kex’ti turns to Veil Skettis. Outland’s Veil Skettis.

Rain drips sickly from the leaves, thick greasy rivulets leaving brief memories of flight behind as they splatter over the cones and needles littering the floor of the mountain glade. The sun had vanished behind the treeline, a dim half-light settling in over the world. What little light leaks through the vertical bars of the trees casts the world in cold cerulean. The monk picked up a nearby branch and hobbled down towards the lagoon. A final look at the horizon shows a tainted red scar. Thin peaks of burned clay rise in the distance through the fog. Hellfire Peninsula remains.

He descends the narrow path to the lagoon. He’s known these trails for years, and even in his dreams they rush by. The rain begins to fall, the oily leaves of the pines causing his clothes to become thick with water and sticky with sap alike. Rope hangs from the trees, and enormous kaliri in the crooks pick at bits of spattered gore from previous kills. They watch him. They wait. He slips, briefly, the kaliri leaning forward in anticipation, but he steadies himself with the branch and hobbles forward.
There, he thinks.

The woman’s tail pokes through the orange and verdigris markings of the Skyguard tabard. Her hair’s tied up in black buns, and he sees the strap of her goggles hanging around her neck.

“Remi! Remiaan!” he yells, a mixture of fear that the earth is going to open its maw and throw her, once more, into the cold dark; and joy, that she hasn’t been born again on a Draenor doomed to repeat the mistakes of the pasts, mistakes her people have paid for already and are not condemned to pay once more.

She turns and looks, and he takes in the sight of her, resting on a rock by a shallow pool, a plate on her lap, her mouth once again full of far too much food, her vision cloudy but precise. One hand reaches for the mace at her belt, the other moves the fork from her mouth back to the plate.
But her mouth isn’t full of food. Her cheeks don’t bulge, there’s no plate of fish in her lap. Her goggles shine in brilliant copper. The lenses had yet to be replaced, no leather patches were sewn into the strap for Skyguard merits. The orange and verdigris were stains on her pale robes, not a tabard.

Remiaan’s eyes look at him, but her mind doesn’t see.

“She never loved you,” he finds himself saying. “She’s had lifetimes to love. You were a novelty.”

His jawline sinks as he watches her watch him, but his voice continues.

“She fought the Old God in Ulduar. You were just the closest person to heal, not love, when the Lich King attacked. It didn’t matter. She was just kind; you weren’t special.”
He keeps looking, searching for a response, but his body is numb. A deep, inviting cold swells in his stomach, and leaks from his mouth when he again opens it to speak.
“I-” he stops, suddenly aware of something sharp and noxious just out of sight.

“Think of the way she looked at you. Was that love, or was it just amusement? Would you have even known? The only person who ever liked you was Tesonii, and look how easily you threw her away. You don’t deserve anything resembling what you thought she held in her heart.”

Kex’ti grits his teeth, trying not to let himself speak again, focusing his thoughts to drown out any continued monologue.

“Your sisters pitied you. Your mother loved her husband, her children were just another way to please him. Your father wishes it were you at the Sunwell, not Ashera, Lirin, or Milliana.”

He hurls the staff at the kaliri, who caw and mock along to his own self-delivered put downs. Another voice chimes in.

“And after that babe? A goblin? Realllly? I’m sooooo flattered. Tha’s just sick. You have a fetish or somethin’?”

Moriah, the woman, stands at her highest to just about the monk’s navel, which is where he does, in fact, feel disgusted.

“You used me. Oh Mr. Kex’ti,” she giggles, each rising sound a beat against his heart. “You saw an opportunity and you took it. Not that we didn’t have a lot of fun along the way,” she says, twirling her dark hair around a green finger.

“Or me? Just once, after all we had been through together, and you have doubts and leave, only to return when you want medicine? How do you use the people who care for you?

Kex’ti turns his gaze back to Remiaan, ignoring the voice from the forest entirely. Her face had hardened into a glare. The rain had thickened. There, just beyond Remiaan, something clawed its way out of the water, rotten flesh braided into ropes lashing broken glass into grafted skin. The rotten stench of wet pine needles and coital sweat elevates the guilt from his stomach into his gorge.

He hears another voice, soft, but assured, wary, and full of command. He runs, not wanting to hear himself or yet another condemn him. The rain thickens, and his chest heaves in time to the scrambling clatter of the thing chasing him.

Julilee
Julilee
Posts: 124
Joined: August 24th, 2014, 2:13 pm
Julilee

Re: Eclipse: Julilee and Kex'ti's Nightmare

Postby Julilee » May 3rd, 2015, 9:13 pm

The realization betokened a nefarious change around her. The people in the maze began moving through it quickly, with rigid, unnatural speed, forming a whirling pattern that made Juli dizzy. She dropped to a crouch as she tried to hold onto the tendril of thought that slipped through the back of her mind like a shadow. This isn't right.

They had started climbing the walls, scaling them like spiders. The walls were stone now, and the fortifications of a keep inside which Juli stood. She reached for her sword and shield, sure they were there, and her sureness ensured they were.

She looked back at her soldiers, who looked at her with bright, faithful eyes. She opened her mouth to give a rousing speech, but no words came out. Their expressions faltered.

No matter. Actions spoke louder. Juli turned and charged as the first beast came into the keep. It was a spider; no, it was a wolf. No, a worg, and one both undead and fel. Its unhinged rotting lower jaw hung open with the weight of its great fangs, and its eyes flared amber inside a mass of writhing tentacles. Juli thrust her shield into it and sliced ferociously as a cry finally came from her. "For SANCTUARY!"

Crimson rain beat at the tall windows. The swarming beasts that rushed in were hissing, but Juli realized it wasn't coming from their mouths. It came from their skin, which sizzled and burned. She jerked back as one leapt for her, shoving it aside with her shield and then slicing through its spine. It got back up anyway with its frontquarters and lunged again.

They were forced back. Her soldiers were falling around her, torn into ghastly pieces. Juli looked up as a great crash resounded through the keep. One of the windows shattered, bloodstained fragments scattering over the battle like lethal rubies. A worg more monstrous than she could grasp peered in with one blazing amber eye. Red rain boiled down its disfigured face, and it saw her. In that moment, Juli understood with every mote of her soul that she was going to die, and terror froze her in place.

But it was that irrational terror that made her stop and reassess. Juli had never been terrified in her life. Every challenge she had faced, from the smallest inconsequential tribulations of childhood, to the struggles of adolescence, to Aerie Peak, to nearly losing Kex'ti, she had approached with reasoned steps, with the understanding that everything she could do was all she could do. It was how she dealt with the world. She could either do something, or she couldn't. Fear had no place in her heart. She stood there as her remaining soldiers turned and ran and the dead fel worgs swarmed forward; stood there grasping for that shadowy tendril of thought again. This isn't true.

FLEE. COWER IN TERROR. YOU ARE NOTHING BUT PREY.

"I am a protector," Juli managed through gritted teeth. Her sword trembled against her will in her hands.

The great worg's baleful eye withdrew, and another head appeared at the window to fix her with its gaze. A penumbra of amber encircled this black eye, as with a hand held up to block the sun. Juli was reminded of something, but couldn't name it.

YOU CANNOT PROTECT YOURSELF, LEAST OF ALL OTHERS.

The smaller worgs were rushing past her, ignoring her as she stood there with sword and shield lowered. They couldn't see her anymore. Juli understood that they weren't really there, or she wasn't really there. Or both.

"You don't know me," Juli said. "But I'm used to that."

She charged, but before her sword would have sunk into that black eye, it all vanished. She tumbled out the window into a void, buffeting by the crimson rain. It hurt where it struck her and she gasped. Why hadn't she brought a coat? You were supposed to take a coat in the rain. She'd left her long black coat at home.

She was standing on a city street. Feeling foolish, she ducked under a nearby awning and tried to wipe off some of the painful moisture. Turning, she spotted her reflection in the window. Her hair was red from the rain, and her eyes glowed red too, like a demon-touched one.

"That's not me," she said. She opened the door and went inside.

A green, glowing archway was all this building contained. Juli strode through it without hesitation.
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Kexti
Kexti
Posts: 36
Joined: November 30th, 2014, 9:34 pm
Kexti

Re: Eclipse: Julilee and Kex'ti's Nightmare

Postby Kexti » May 3rd, 2015, 9:30 pm

He runs, his body elsewhere, his mind gone as well. Only the dream runs on, the twitching, spasming thing wearing his father’s face like a mask his only companion in the rain and forest. A skeleton of ropes supports the monster’s reversed joints, which twitch and creak, while knots of diseased flesh tie sharpened bars to the knots. All the while, the wrinkled face of Tideriel stretched and contracted with the motion. The only sounds escaping it were voices of Kex’ti’s own fears.

Describing in detail his deficiencies as a son.

“What kind of spellbreaker am I that my son can’t use magic? That has his mother murdered because he can’t take care of himself, let alone another person? That sells his birthright for drugs? That fights for goblins, lies with those not of his race, and fights merely for drugs and money, rather than any purpose?”

The voice continues.

“You are no son of mine. You are not worthy of Quel’thalas. You shouldn’t have been born. You finally learn to magic, and it is unclean tricks from the Pandaren. You don’t even fight. You just try to fix others. But you know that doesn’t work. You can’t fix yourself. You hate yourself so badly your body fights against you. How can you hope to fix others?”

His deficiencies as a lover, as the skin turns a bruised purple-blue, though the eyes remain a pale red.

“In what world would she have loved you? Her people hate you for stealing and torturing their saviors. They fight against you on battlefields all over the world. You’re no shining example of the good the Sin’dorei have brought to the world. You’ve skulked in back alleys. Even now, all you do is run away. You ran away from her, and left her to die. You deserve to limp. Can you imagine the disappointment she felt, lying there in the cold, her body broken, her spells spent? Is this how all the people you love die, only after you’ve taken everything from them?

“Do you think you pleased her? A virgin? From a smaller race? Reliant on pills and philters from the dead? Who’s primary method of fighting was deception rather than strength? Dirty tricks rather than even cunning? You know. You just need to admit it.”

As a healer. The skin shifting to fur, horns, and a flat nose.

“For someone supposed to heal, you always seem to come out the best while those around you suffer. Some waif stabs you, and dances away. You cause an incident for people just trying to keep the peace. Then you make new friends, and they get stabbed by the people you’ve taunted and accosted, but been too afraid to fight. You are captured, and instead of dying, the people closest to you have to risk their lives to find you. You’re no healer, you’re a disease. You’re poison,” spits the voice, now a tauren.

He can’t keep running. The rain is too heavy, and presses him down into the earth. The creature slams its sharpened spikes into his shoulders, pinning him face down into the ground as the monster’s visage falls away to reveal his own, barely glimpsed from the corner of his eye. He tries to scream, but is silenced by the muddy water leaking down his throat, tasting like the bitter, spicy taste of his yao grass. He is unable to move, speared like a butterfly, the soft mud transforms into unyielding shackles.

“You know how this ends!”

YOU MUST FEAST. FEAST OR DROWN IN YOUR OWN HUNGER.

He tries for the first time in his life to cough the blood and pus so ever-present in his lungs on command…

It’s always so hard to fight it, he thinks. Why won’t it happen now?

…as the smell of every perfume and armor polish, every crystal powder and burnt fume of oil, all the different smells of sweat and exposure bear down on him, the thing’s face moves ever closer. He hears the rattle in its throat grow louder as its jaws unhinge, ready to swallow him whole.

Julilee
Julilee
Posts: 124
Joined: August 24th, 2014, 2:13 pm
Julilee

Re: Eclipse: Julilee and Kex'ti's Nightmare

Postby Julilee » May 5th, 2015, 3:01 pm

Julilee walked into the room, and her spirits lifted to see so many familiar faces, all of them wearing the purple and gold tabard. It had been so long since so many of them had been gathered in one place.

Of her officers, there was Vilmah, with her warmth only greater for her struggles. Nojinbu, with his keen gaze. Cerryan, full of unshakeable surety. Durk'atar, somber and thoughtful. Cylindryl, ready to act. Grisch, a reminder of lasting legacies. And Kargron! Steadfast and loyal as ever.

And so many members were gathered as well. Faelenor, clever and ambitious. Amalyn, sweet but with a spine of steel. Kenjin, wiser than her years. Valerel, more dedicated than his demeanor let on. Eiverdein, gentle and capable. Grumak, the hard worker. Foozle, happy to help. Raukon, intelligent and perceptive. Lelenia, ever amiable. Blodwyen, more determined than anyone. Paunch, deceptively easygoing. Sildei, so repentful. Nettles, unfailingly dependable. Braxle, full of energy. Civarra, sweetly mischievous. Baern, measured but trustworthy. Reroma, bright-eyed and hopeful.

She thought for a moment than someone was missing, but couldn't place who. Still, it was so good to see them all here, under Sanctuary's banner. Gazing upon them, her heart was refilled with the hope that had gone quiet in the last few months.

Then, hearing the rain drumming on the roof, she remembered that she hadn't been the one to call this meeting.

"We've come to a decision," Durk'atar said.

Juli looked at him with confusion. The others were all watching her closely. Vilmah folded her arms; Nojinbu sank to his haunches and eyed her carefully. Kargron wouldn't meet her gaze. Juli looked back at Durk'atar. "What's going on?" she asked.

Durk'atar glanced over the assembled. None hesitated or flinched. They were calm; prepared. Juli felt entirely the opposite.

"You're ruining Sanctuary," Valerel said bluntly.

Her jaw dropped, but before she could speak, others did. It was a clamor of agreement, of objections to her leadership, to her decisions, to everything she'd done down to the words of oaths she'd written. None of it was right, and they were all frustrated and sick and tired of it.

"You hired mercenaries in Highmaul instead of recruiting for Sanctuary," Cylindryl said angrily.

"You ignore all the new members," Grumak accused.

"You got us into a war with the Grim," Cerryan said with exasperation.

"You let Jinsai escape!" Grisch shouted.

"You let Saphiara down," Durk'atar said quietly.

Juli backed up a step. She tried to find the words to explain; to justify herself. "I did what I could!" she said. It wasn't enough. "No one could have known..." She should have known. "I never compromised!"

"Maybe you should have," Kenjin said.

"This isn't what Sanctuary is meant to be," Vilmah said. Nojinbu nodded slowly in agreement.

Juli looked at Kargron. He had been her first officer, the most loyal of them all. He still wouldn't meet her eyes. "I'm sorry, Julilee," he said; not calling her Commander anymore. "They are right."

One by one, each of them pulled off their tabards and cast them down to the floor. The rain beat on, inexorably. "Wait," Juli said desperately. "I'll step down... Vilmah can... Cerryan... Anyone... Don't give up on Sanctuary because of me—"

"I don't want anything to do with it anymore," Amalyn said.

"You made a fool out of everything Sanctuary stands for," Sildei said.

Juli stood there, stunned, as they all turned and filtered out past her. A few looked at her coldly, a few glared; most were too embittered to even look at her at all.

After they all left, the door behind her remained open. Motionless, Juli stared at the purple and gold pile of fabric on the floor. The rain began flooding inside over the threshold, running to the pile in a red stream. It began to stain the tabards.

NO ONE BELIEVES IN YOU.

Juli's chin lifted marginally. Her heart was shattered, but a part of her still responded to the challenge. Belief. She had done without it before. She had restarted Sanctuary with nothing but Vilmah's old journals to stand on.

BUT THEY TRIED BELIEVING IN YOU, AND REALIZED YOU WERE WRONG.

"No," Juli said.

The walls of the hall were melting from the rain. More was flowing inside; it was up to her ankles now. The ceiling slumped dangerously.

THEY OPENED THEIR HEARTS AND YOU COULDN'T FILL THEM.

Juli could say nothing. The water was still rising; it was to her knees, and gaining. The roof was dissolving, falling down in rotted chunks of timber and shingles around her. An empty night sky was revealed above in which red acid rain fell from nothing in an unrelenting torrent.

Her armor and arms bore her down as she sank into the flooding ocean of crimson. She was forced to let go of her sword and shield, struggling to stay afloat. The water burned as it got under her armor and stung her face.

YOU ARE ALONE. NO ONE BELIEVES IN YOU. AND THEY'RE RIGHT.

She could barely keep her head above water. She kept trying to swim, to cling to air. Then, she drew in a deep breath. And she shouted.

"I DON'T NEED ANYONE TO BELIEVE IN ME!"

She dove, down into the blood-red sea. In moments she had sunk so far that light did not even permeate the thick liquid, but still she kicked and thrust with her arms. Through the water she heard a deep rumbling, the approach of some horrifying leviathan to consume her. Her lungs burned but she fought onward, deeper and deeper, until the pressure had crushed the expended air from her lungs, her ears screamed with pain, and she knew in moments she would open her mouth and gasp unwillingly and fill her lungs with the acid red. She could see nothing but she felt the presence of the leviathan looming, unfathomable.

No.

No.

I will never give up.

Her feet found purchase on the ocean floor. She reached down and grasped her shield.

"FOR JUSTICE!"

There was air in her lungs after all as she struck out with her shield. The sound of the strike landing reverberated through the water like a foghorn, like sonar, but as it radiated out, the acid fell away, leaving her in open air. She stood upon a featureless black shelf below a blank twilit sky, in which the only thing present was the sun, eclipsed by a blue moon such that it burned fiercely around the edges just like the giant eye earlier. And before her stood Accalia, the great multi-headed worg, crimson and glistening.

YOU WILL DIE ALONE CLINGING TO YOUR PALTRY BELIEFS.

"Better than living without them," Juli swore, and charged.

Her shield struck true, and the great worg shattered like glass on impact. A lingering howl pierced the air as the fragments sparkled into the sky to hang suspended like the stars that had been missing. Then the sun flared, consuming the moon that had obstructed it and filling everything, the entire plane around her, with light as brilliant as the Sunwell. It was the most beautiful thing Juli had ever seen.

She stood amazed at the sight for a length of time she could not name. A part of her wished there was someone she could share it with...

And then she remembered.

There was someone who believed in her.

"Kex'ti," she whispered, and the blazing twilight enfolded her.
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Julilee
Julilee
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Julilee

Re: Eclipse: Julilee and Kex'ti's Nightmare

Postby Julilee » May 7th, 2015, 8:58 pm

Her will was sufficient to see her nearby. She knew he had to be, because this place made no sense to her. It was a forest, but not one she'd ever known. The trees were alien, unknown species, yet reminded her of some of the flora of Draenor. Outland, surely. This was Outland.

She looked up into the canopy, which dripped from the downpouring rain. Red, acid rain. But none of it landed on her. Her armor was still glowing from the light, shielding her. Instinctively, she knew it wouldn't last forever, not in this new place where Accalia still held sway.

She turned. "Kex'ti!" she called. There was no answer but the steady roar of rain. Or was there?

In the distance, the howl of a wolf.

Her feet scattered mud and decaying leaves as she ran. The movement scared up no wildlife, made no squirrels chatter reprovingly or birds take wing. She noticed as she ran that all the trees were dead.

Up ahead, a clearing. She didn't understand what occupied it at first. A ghoulish creature, crouching. Then she saw the purple pinned beneath, and the jaws opening wide.

The wings she didn't realize alighted from her back carried her leap across the open space and into the ghoul, her shining shield colliding resoundingly to knock the thing back. It spun and clattered into a heap of inert bones, and sank into the mud as she planted her feet. Quickly she stabbed her sword into the muck where it disappeared, but the blade encountered nothing.

She turned, struggling a little as the heavy mud clung to her boots. "Kex'ti–"

He was gone.

Was it an illusion? No... This was his nightmare. She'd found him, like they'd said could be done. Then what had happened?

The mud bubbled.

She knelt down, tossing her sword aside and thrusting her arm into the muck. She encountered something and tried to grasp, but it was slick with mud and acid. Her knees were sinking in too, the bright glow of her armor vanishing into the viscous foulness. She let go of her shield, reached in to grasp his arm with both hands, and tried to pull, but the act only hastened her own descent. Her teeth grit as she held on, refusing to let go even when sunk up to her chest.

She didn't need belief; air. But what did the air mean to Kex'ti? Or... the mud?

Juli closed her eyes and held on.
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Kexti
Kexti
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Kexti

Re: Eclipse: Julilee and Kex'ti's Nightmare

Postby Kexti » May 8th, 2015, 12:28 pm

In the next instant,

Something else had knocked the creature away, and now pulls him to the surface. But he pushes it away, feels the grip snap and recoil like a rubber band, and the mud sinks in to fill the void. He can't breathe. He doesn't want to. He couldn't even if he did. He closes his eyes and feels himself drift down.

This is exactly how its supposed to be, he thinks, sinking down into blurry, dark places obscured by Aaren's magic. Memories he knows too well to be so ill-defined. Memories that...should...haunt...him.

No. It's [I]not supposed to be like this,[/I] he thinks, briefly confused. And feels a gauntleted fist grip the front of his tabard, the mud tightening around him even as the hands struggle to hold onto him. The mud parts over his mouth, and he inhales deeply, clawing the earth and wrapping his hands around the woman leaning over him. His eyes smeared by mud, he sees only a blurry, shining figure, leaning close. He can't make out the words, but knows, instinctively, who is saying them. He bolts into the woods, shaking the mud off as the voice calls after him, the rain stinging him all the while. He's unwilling to hear what she has to say. Not now.

He heaves and coughs, his leg falters, and he collapses. The rain continues to fall, and he feels, elsewhere, that his body has finally reached its breaking point. Even as he reels in pain, he feels the phlegm in his lungs slough away into the hollow of his chest. He coughs, and black particles are the only sign of blood as he does so. His stomach clenches, and ruptures. Throughout it, his nerves burn, and he twitches uncontrollably. But here, in the forest, in the rain, in the rot and ruin, he is at least aware.

YOU HAVE LOST. YOU WILL BE DEVOURED, AND YOU WILL SERVE!

The raggedy creature slinks just at the edge of the clearing, eyeing him. The voice, however, comes from inside his head. He curls into himself, wracked with pain, unwilling to look elsewhere but into his own lap.

YOU ARE NO HERO. YOU ARE NO HEALER. YOU'RE A MONSTER. A DISEASE. I SEE THAT NOW. BITE INTO THE FLESH, AND IT IS ALL ROTTEN BENEATH, IN BODY AND SOUL. I CAN USE YOU.

He says nothing. He feels the words are wrong...but...they do make sense...He looks out into the copse. He can make out Julilee, and two small figures. Their hair is dark, their features sharp. They reach up and hold a hand each of hers as she smiles down at them.

THIS COULD NEVER BE YOURS. EVEN THOSE YOU DON'T HURT WITH YOUR ACTIONS, YOU CURSE BY DENYING THEM WHAT THEY DESERVE. SUBMIT.

The monk stands.

"You're not wrong," he says. Tears well in his eyes, and mix with the downpour. He begins walking towards the illusion. "I have made horrible, horrible decisions, and I've hurt people who've cared the most about me."

He looks closely at the image in the rain, and moves his hand to push Julilee's hair back behind her ear. He stands there, studying the lines in her face. The weight of a hundred decisions pressing down there. Lines smoothed and harnessed by her smile. He instinctively knows the name of the two elven children staring up at him. He can feel in their auras none of his illness or shame. It wasn't something he had wanted, nor planned for, consciously. But presented with it, his heart felt heavy, even as it stopped and cooled in his body. How could things have been different if he had just been the spellbreaker Tiderial had wanted.

How might his fate have changed? What was this monstrous god offering him? Could this, maybe, be his? Accalia's fecundity restoring him, giving him this gift? Burning away his illness? He ponders these questions, the rain dripping down around him, suffocating in its humidity and stinging, acidic vapors. He shakes his head, and considers.

"You're not wrong. No," he says. "I've made mistakes I can never undo."

He feels a shiver in his soul as the stalking presence suffusing the place moves towards him. The presence of his other body seems secondary to the words he speaks, the illusion solidifying into something concrete. Monstrous.

"But," Kex'ti continues. The glade seems to pause, and the downpour slows.

"I've tried. To make amends. To be better. I've tried."

He breathes deeply, and exhales. His lungs feel clear and clean for the first time almost two decades.

"Nobody is blameless. Least of all me. I slip and fall. But those falls would break a weaker person than I. But I'm willing to learn from my mistakes. I'm willing to fight for tomorrow. My fears, and my worries will never leave me. But without them, I wouldn't have learned to fight, and set out into the world. I wouldn't have exceeded any expectations of wealth my mother could've set for me. Any accomplishments my father wanted. Any hope my sisters left behind for me. Remi gave her life for me, and I will honor that sacrifice, and without her, I never would've come to Draenor."

The image before him smiles back at him, but flickers, and fades along with the two children. The creature skulks closer on all fours, the face an erratic, mixing mask of Kex'ti's regrets. But underneath the mask, the red eyes simmer with quiet, burning rage.

"My choices have given me happiness and purpose I do not deserve. But I will earn it."

The monk closes his eyes, feeling the rising dawn of twilight on his skin. The smell of the salt breezes in Warspear, and the caress of the Frostfire snowfall. Kex'ti smirks.

"I won't dishonor Julilee and Sanctuary. Your poison has no power over me. I've beaten stronger monsters before. If you're going to try and kill me, I suggest you do it soon before my friends find me. Better mortals have tried."

Reaching into the mud, he draws his sword.

"And I hope you learn better than to try and take my own weapons from me, beast. Vendel'o eranu."

He smirks, and looks over to a mudstained Julilee entering the gray-pink light of the glade. He smiles, the image of moments ago plucking at his heartstrings.

Julilee
Julilee
Posts: 124
Joined: August 24th, 2014, 2:13 pm
Julilee

Re: Eclipse: Julilee and Kex'ti's Nightmare

Postby Julilee » May 8th, 2015, 4:37 pm

His arm slipped out of her grasp, but she moved, her arm cutting faster than should have been possible through the viscous muck to seize his tabard. This time, his arms came around her, and she heaved them out of the sinking mud together with a great effort.

On slightly firmer land, she bent over him, trying to wipe the mud from his face with her own muddied gauntlets. "Kex'ti," she said urgently, "can you hear me? It's me... We're going to get out of here, all right—?"

Only for him to suddenly roll away from her, to his feet, and bolt into the woods. He was too fast for her to catch. She started after him, then hesitated, looking back at the mud. She dropped down and reached in to fish out her sword and shield, then got up again and went after him.

At first she couldn't find him. Juli had trained to be a Ranger, briefly, and failed miserably at it; tracking was not her forte. But then she heard distant coughing. Kex'ti. The rain was hitting her now, dimming the light that had ensconced her, but also helping slough away the mud. She narrowed her eyes against it as she made her way through the dead trees. The moment she found the glade, the twilit sky started to brighten, pink and yellow shooting into the vivid blue. Dawn approached. The rain was lessening.

The twisted ghoul was skulking forward as Kex'ti picked up his own sword. He looked over at her and his smirk softened into something sweeter. It was him; it was really him. She was so glad. She moved to his side and set her shield versus the horror.

"I'm with you," she said simply.
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Kexti
Kexti
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Joined: November 30th, 2014, 9:34 pm
Kexti

Re: Eclipse: Julilee and Kex'ti's Nightmare

Postby Kexti » May 9th, 2015, 3:25 am

Kex'ti nodded at Julilee, and the pair dashed into the fray with the corpse-thing, blades raised. The creature lashed at them with whips of rope and decayed sinew, the sickly-sweet reek of rot spraying through the air. Julilee's shield blocked the awesome force of the blow, but was still driven to her knees. Kex'ti heard the snap of bone and crunch of metal. In her domain, Kex'ti's Accalia was still a threat. But not invulnerable. Kex'ti sealed the wound with the mists. Even at this range, he was familiar enough with the Commander to retie her ligaments and set and seal the bone back together.

The creature's tendrils swung for the monk, but he was already in motion, diving into a somersault under the crushing assault. He scoops a thick clod of dirt into his hands and crushes the mud into the things eyes as he closes. The tendrils curved back, aiming for Kex'ti's spine. He shields himself in a glowing aura of green, flickering energy to soak most of the strike, but it hurls him forward once more over the thing's own back.

Julilee threw her entire weight into her shield charge, knocking the creature onto its two side limbs. Kex'ti regained his balance and thrust the blade, still shimmering with the mists into the creature. Julilee's own slash cut into the creature's belly. The pair fought a vicious exchange of blows about the creature, their swords slashing at tentacles and shield and legs bludgeoning the creature's squishy flesh into pulp. Its barbed ropes hacked at the elves, landing several telling blows only to find the wounds rejuvenated by the monk's quick spells. Its face was unable to bring a voice to bear, and merely howled with primal rage.

With one final surge, Julilee leveraged herself under the monster's body, flipping the creature once more off balance. It struggled, but flipped to its back. As it attempted to right itself, Kex'ti leapt forward with a powerful axe kick and continued his momentum forward to plant a heavy knee into the thing's ribs. The monk gripped his Arakkoan blade in two hands and drove the weapon towards the thing's face. It wrapped what free and remaining appendages it had left to slow the press of the sword, slashing at Kex'ti's face and arms the while. His strength was impressive, but Accalia's spawn would fight him off eventually.

"Together!" he cried to Julilee. The Commander dashed to his side, and wrapped her hands around Kex'ti's sword. The woman was small, but years of battle had shaped her into an instrument of war; unwavering, unbreakable, and deadly. The two elves, together, completed the strike, and the thing's changeling face crumbled beneath the edge. As the thing sunk away into the drying morass, the elves collapsed on top of each other. Their armaments dropped to their sides as they held each other, the only sound a distant rumbling like a death rattle.

"How much of that did you see?" the monk says, his hands touching her face and arms as if to confirm her presence is not yet another mirage.

"Of what?" her look is studying. Concerned. She's real. As far as it mattered to him. He smiled, but a smile weighed but thoughts she couldn't quite assess.

"I've got a lot we need to talk about," he said. She began to slowly nod, only to be interrupted by a swift kiss, followed by "...but after our vacation, okay?"

She gripped his chest tightly. He wrapped his arms around her, as much so she could hold him as he could her.

The dream began to waver at the edges as the nightmare fell away, the two elves holding each other as twilight broke over them.

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