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leppender
leppender
Posts: 26
Joined: April 28th, 2014, 2:41 pm
leppender

Becoming Steelspine (recovered from fanfiction.net)

Postby leppender » May 10th, 2015, 2:46 pm

((Author's note: I wrote this as a new RPer many years ago, so allow me to apologize for any gmod or lore inaccuracy. I've left this in its original condition and still intend to write the final installment... someday.))

Chapter 1: The Journey Begins


Leppender wrinkled her nose at the foul stench of the swamp as she rode through it, ignoring the crocolisks that snapped at her horse's hooves. She urged her felsteed forward, stopping only as she reached a cavernous tunnel that had been lit with torches, the ornamental arched entry marking it as a humanoid construct. "This is it, the path to Dun Morogh home of the Dwarves and Gnomes."

She dismounted, and smiled at her Voidwalker Thantast who appeared out of the shadows to stand at her side. "I don't usually like your ideas, but I think I'm agreeable to this one. You could die very easily out here." He said in his demonic tongue.

Leppender snorted derisively at him. "Yes yes, you want me dead so you can feast on my soul before it can depart for the next world. I assure you that will never happen Thantast. Even if I do die out here, you won't be able to touch my soul." She looked up at the arched entrance and smiled. "Besides it's not a worthy test of courage unless I am willing to face impossible odds."

Thantast seemed to slump with disappointment. "Impossible odds indeed. You come here to acquire a trophy of some sort?"

Leppender shook her head with a sigh, and pulls out a piece of paper. "Yes Thantast... let me explain it to you once again. After checking in the library at Shattrath I discovered four items that are carried frequently by creatures only found in the homelands of our enemies. First I shall slay Edan the Howler and take his cape, what's known to us as the Wendigo fur cloak, then I shall use my magical stone to return to Shattrath and take a portal to Orgrimaar. After that I take the zeppelin to Grom'gol base camp, and ride north through Duskwood to Elwynn forest. The koboalds in the mines there carry shovels that are unique to that area. Once a have found a kobald mining shovel I will use my stone once more, go through the portal at Shattrath into Orgrimaar, and head north for the greatest challenge in this journey."

Thantast looked at her eagerly. "Darkshore... that is where you will meet your doom mistress, and where I shall feast on your blood!"

Leppender scowled at him. "Do not interrupt me Thantast. Yes, Darkshore. I am no match for the sentries there, so we will have to run through. Don't worry, I will be stealing a part of your own life force to shield me from their blows. I will not die."

Thantast let out a low growl, but kept his mouth shut. Leppender continued, running her finger down the list in her hand. "Once we get to the dock we will take the boat to Teldrassil... I am grateful to whatever member of the Horde paid off the Alliance captains so that they will allow weaklings like me to come aboard without trouble." She looked up at Thantast solemnly "This will be the most dangerous part of the journey. The sentinels in Auberdine are pups compared to the ones that guard the portal into Teldrasil... and Darnasus."

Thantast looked up at her in shock. "So it's true? You cannot get onto the island without passing through the elven capital? You will not survive this encounter."

Leppender's brow wrinkled with concern. "If I am to die on this quest, it will be in Teldrassil. Nothing I do before or after it is quite as dangerous. Even so I must go! I must kill the vile little grell named Threggil that hides in a cave there , and take his keen machete! After that... well... we jump."

"We... jump?" He said in a confused voice.

Leppender swallowed heavily. "According to my map there is a spot at the bottom edge of Teldrassil where one who is brave enough can jump off the cliff, and land near Ru'theran village, so they can catch the boat back to Auberdine."

Thantast backed away. "You're insane! I may want you dead, but that's suicide! Sneaking through the elven capital just to kill a Grell, then jumping off a cliff afterward?"

Leppender let out an amused laugh. "Didn't I tell you that nothing on this quest will be more dangerous? I'm likely to be wounded, or even killed, but if I survive I will have earned my last name. To me nothing is more important than proving my worth to the clan. Bloodfury has given me a family again. I have many new brothers and sisters, all of which are brave and powerful. I long to do them honor."

Thantast remained silent for a long time staring at her. She leaned against the arch that lead into Dun Morogh examining the paper in her hand. "So... If you survive your fall to the shore, where will we go from there?" He asked her finally.

She sighed and straightened up. "To Asuremyst my pet. We'll run past the guards in Auberdine to board the boat leading to Asuremyst Isle. Though the most dangerous part of the journey will be complete, this will still be the most difficult part. There are rumors that some of Illidan's Blood Elf servants who crashed the Exodar remain in hiding along the roads, waiting to ambush young Draenei pups. Some of them wear Blood Elf Bandit Masks. I will have to use all my cunning to track one down, and kill him, so I can claim his mask."

Her voidwalker snorted. "A cloak, a shovel, a machete, and a mask. You really think these four worthless items will earn you a name? That they are worth going after?"

Leppender put away the list, and climbed onto the back of her felsteed. "I am hoping that the items will be seen as trophies of the courage it took to invade the homelands of our enemies. Each one is unique, and can easily be traced back to the lands from which they came. It is not the worth of the item that matters here, but the worth of the deeds I have performed. That is what will earn me a last name."

"You hope." He said fading back into the shadows.

Leppender shook her head, and stared at the tunnel ahead of her. A calm smile formed on her lips. "No matter what happens, I think this is going to be one fun adventure." With that she dug her heels into the side of her felsteed, and took off into the tunnel heading for Dun Morogh, and the beginning of her quest to earn a last name from the Bloodfury.
Last edited by leppender on May 10th, 2015, 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

leppender
leppender
Posts: 26
Joined: April 28th, 2014, 2:41 pm
leppender

Re: Becoming Steelspine (recovered from fanfiction.net)

Postby leppender » May 10th, 2015, 2:47 pm

Chapter 2: Blood and Snow


The young She-Orc rode at top speed through the mountain pass leading into Loch Modan from Wetlands. Her ears were perked, listening for footsteps ahead of her as she rode up the path that lead her under another gate. Her ears twitched and she quickly dismounted. Thantast stepped out of the shadows, and she pressed her finger to her lips, pointing at the back of a dwarf in green and brown leather.

Thantast hunched his shoulders eagerly. The Warlock focused her energy, her mind on one thing; death. She released the fel energy, cursing the Dwarf who turned around to attack, but before he could take a step the voidwalker was in front of him, punching at him with fists from the nether that stole the Dwarf's life force. The girl grinned wickedly and cursed the Dwarf again, a different one that make blood spurt from every opening. She moved a little closer as the Dwarf attempted to fight off her minion, close enough to see his face contorting with agony as his death approached.

Once more she focused her power, her palms together and her eyes half closed. After several seconds she aimed her hands at him and released a bolt of shadow energy, hitting the dying guard in the chest. She watched with satisfaction as it ripped into him, spurting blood on the walls of the tunnel. She moved in front of him, and waved her hand. Instantly Thantast stopped attacking. The Dwarf looked at her in horror. She smiled wickedly. "You are but the first of many who will fall by my hand this day. Consider it an honor." Her eyes went wide with bloodlust, and she quickly began channeling his energy from him. She heard his cries of agony and ignored them as she felt a shard containing fragments of his soul forming in her hand.

The dwarf let out a strangled gasp as his lungs seized up. His eyes still wide with terror he fell to the ground dead. The girl smiled. "I didn't realize it would be so much fun to kill these Alliance guards, did you Thantast?"

The Voidwalker moved up next to her and began to laugh. "I honestly thought you would have run away from him in fear Leppender."

Leppender snorted at Thantast. "That's mistress to you. Besides I don't fear anything, not this quest, and certainly not Alliance scum like him." She kicked the corpse of the guard angrily. Suddenly her ears perked again and she frowned. "However I'm no fool. I hadn't thought about how much that pest's cries would echo in here. Lets leave before more guards than we can handle arrive."

Thantast faded back into the shadows as she mounted her felsteed once again, and gave it a sharp kick in the side to urge it forward. As she exited the tunnel she saw several guards inside Algaz Station pointing at her and loading their guns. She leaned forward on her horse and rode it up the hill into another tunnel. She breathed a small sigh when she saw it was empty, but she quickly realized why nobody had bothered to post a guard there. As soon as she exited the tunnel she saw no less than twenty five Dwarfs walking around, their guns over their shoulders searching for signs of trouble.

"North gate pass... shit I forgot it was here!" The Dwarfs began turning to look at her as she rode past. Most of them were just too dumbfounded to react. Leppender guessed they had never seen an Orc before. She rode past them not daring a direct confrontation with that many armed guards. It only took them a few seconds to get over their shock and begin firing on her. She pressed her body low on her mount so they would have a hard time hitting her. Despite her efforts she hissed as she felt a few bullets graze her legs, and she nearly lost her balance when one lodged itself in her arm just below the shoulder. Despite the burning pain in her limbs she rode on, hardly daring to breath until she had passed through the final tunnel into Dun Morogh and the sound of gunfire ceased.

She slowed to a trot and moved off the path toward a frozen lake. When she got there she slid off her felsteed and grabbed a pile of snow, hastily pressing it against her bleeding arm. She sat there for a few minutes, wincing and gasping for air painfully. She sensed Thantast approaching her, but she ignored him and grabbed another handful of snow. After a third treatment her arm became numb, and she pulled off her tabard and tunic with a grunt. She removed a dagger from her bag as well as a thick chunk of leather. Thantast looked at her curiously. "What do you plan to do with those?"

She shook her head and put the leather in her mouth, biting down hard. She bent over the ice covered lake and examined the bullet wound critically. Without hesitation she stuck the end of the knife into the wound, and began prying at it. The leather in her mouth converted the sharp cries of pain into muffled yells. Black blood spurted onto the reflective surface of the frozen lake, and after a few moments a small round pellet fell onto the ice. She let out a cry of mingled pain and relief, then fell on her side and began scooping more snow over her arm. She lay there for several minutes, her breaths coming sharp, though eventually her breathing slowed and she let out a sigh. With her free hand she began digging in her bag for a piece of wool cloth. She rolled over onto her back and pressed it against her arm. The cold snow had slowed the bleeding, so she sat up. Holding the wool with her chin she managed to tie the it to the wound using her free hand and her teeth.

Thantast had remained quiet as she performed surgery on herself, but at last he spoke up. "And here I thought you could sink no lower. That was the stupidest thing I've ever seen anybody do."

She stood up and leaned against her horse. "Yeah? Well get ready because we're leaving to do even more stupid things." She tossed her tunic and tabard back on, hopped onto the Felsteed and took off toward the west. She huddled in her saddle, shivering slightly. "How do such tiny creatures manage to walk around in clothing no warmer than my own up here?" She wondered aloud.

She reached a quarry and after trying to go around it for several minutes, finding no way past, she sighed and moved onto the road. She pulled out her map again and glared at it as she rode. "Lets see now, south and directly west of Karahanos is the cave where Edan the Howler lives. If I ride through the city I'm dead, so I'll just go around it as soon as I get through this..." She was nearly tossed off her horse as it bucked. Three Dwarfish guards stood in front of her, pointing riffles at her head. There was a mountain on either side of her. She knew she could just turn back and probably escape getting pelted with more bullets but she was there with a purpose, and she was not about to turn tail and run like a coward until her purpose was complete.

One of the Dwarfs yelled something at her, and raised his gun in a sharp gesture. She took it to mean "Get off the horse." She raised her hands and slowly dismounted, her face passive. She looked next to her and smiled as the shadows began gathering next to her, forming her companion. "Thantast? Kill them."

She brought down her arms in a sharp gesture, and sapped her voidwalker of some of his strength. A dark shimmering forcefield glowed around her body as Thantast charged the Dwarfs. They cried out in anger and began firing their guns at her, but this time she was ready. The shield deflected all of their shots. Thantast began striking the first one which caused the rest of them to face him. She grinned evilly, it was just what she was waiting for. With their backs turned to her she lifted her arms once more. The sky above them turned red as fire rained down upon her enemies. She heard them cry out in agony as the meteorites crashed down, hitting them on top of their heads, setting their clothes on fire. She allowed herself to feel a moment of grudging respect for them when they did not flee. Thantast punched the first Dwarf one more time, and she watched as he fell dead with a self satisfied smirk.

"Mistress..." Her head snapped in Thantast's direction. The Voidwalker was beginning to weaken. "Mistress... I need... more power!"

Checking to make sure that the two remaining Dwarfs were distracted, she began funneling her life force into Thantast. She started feeling light headed, but she ignored it continuing to channel her energy into the demon. She sensed his strength growing, beginning to overcome the Dwarfs, but it wasn't until Thantast struck one with a skull shattering punch that sent chunks of his brain flying that she let go of the connection. Her knees began to shake, and her arm burned once more from the wound, but she turned to the final dwarf and began sucking the life out of him, not to steal a piece of his soul, but to recover her strength. Her mind grew less foggy, and as the pain in her arm began to dull she noticed a growing patch of blood just below the shoulder of the final Dwarf. She held on to her link for a few more moments until she felt completely refreshed, then severed it just in time to see Thantast grab him by the throat, and break the short little man's neck.

She let out a sigh as the rage from battle began to dissipate, and leaned against her horse. She glanced over to her Voidwalker and smiled at him fondly. "Well done my pet, we kept each other alive."

Thantast snorted and hovered over to her. "I was hoping you'd drain all of your energy into me..." He said with a slight twinge of regret in his voice.

Leppender shook her head and rolled her eyes. "Dabu, someday I'll die and you can relish your freedom, but I'm not going to die for a very long time."

She climbed back onto her horse and set off past the two cliffs, making sure to step on each of the Dwarfs as she passed. As she rode the path slopped upward, and she was able to climb onto the side of the mountain to her left. Setting off at a brisk run she kept an eye on her right, barely able to see the Dwarf village of Kharanos as snow began to fall, working itself into a blizzard. Leppender started veering closer to the village as the storm picked up, she had to see how far she was from the cave! Finally she passed the last house in the village without being spotted, and turned toward it. Riding past quickly she jumped off a ravine just west of the road, and directly across from the Yeti cave. "We're here... We're actually here..." She said in a disbelieving tone.

As she dismounted she sensed Thantast behind her. She took a deep breath. "You are to follow behind me, but not attack do you understand?"

The Voidwalker blinked at her in surprise. "I thought you Warlocks needed my kind to do all the fighting for you?"

Leppender laughed. "This is the homeland of the Dwarfs and the Gnomes. They keep the population of dangerous creatures to a minimum here so their pups don't die before they face me. I may not be strong enough to face twenty five Dwarfs at North Gate pass, but a few yeti that are too weak for the guards to clear out? I can handle that myself."

"If you insist mistress." Thantast said in a sulky voice. They walked toward the cave and Leppender drew a dagger from her belt. "You're going to face them with just that?"

She shrugged. "What can I say? I like the classic approach. It's more fitting for what I'm about to do." She grinned as she spotted two Yeti exiting the cave. She ran up to them and jumped on the first, burying her knife in it's throat. It gurgled angrily for a moment, but fell down dead. The second one let out a howl of rage. She could smell it's foul breath, reeking of dead carcases. She stabbed it in the stomach, it's intestines ripped from it's gut, then plunged the dagger straight into it's heart tasting the blood on her lips as it spurted from the dying creature's body.

Her heart raced with excitement as she went on a killing spree inside the cave. She easily dodged most of their blows, and the ones that did manage to hit her she took care to wound mortally, leaving them moaning on the cold ice that was washed with blood as they waited for death to take them. Thantast followed behind her, his eyes shining with excitement almost as intense as hers. The walls of the cave shone red, the stench of blood and excrement as the corpses released their bowls filled her nose. It was the smell of death, and she reveled in it! She could hardly think past killing the next enemy, so she didn't even bother to count, but when the fog of blood lust lifted enough she could hear Thantast muttering under his breath. "34...35...36."

At last she made her way into the final chamber of the cave. Standing before her was the largest Yeti she had ever seen. He Dwarfed her by at least a good two feet. Edan the Howler stared at her, rage building in his eyes as the smell of dead Yeti's wafted into the room. "Want to avenge your clan do you? Well come on then, fight me!" She yelled at him. He howled at her in fury, and she resisted the urge to cover her ears. Even if they weren't inside a cave the Yeti was well named, his howls were enough to cause anyone's eardrums to throb. She let out a howl of her own and charged at Edan.

He grabbed her wrists as she ran to him, and lifted her up trying to bite her neck. She shifted her weight to roll backwards and kicked him in the face. Edan let go of her, and she rolled to the ground, jumping back up within seconds. She ran at him once more, this time ducking beneath his arms and stabbing him in the armpit. Edan roared with pain and fury. She jumped onto his back, wrapping an arm around his neck, and whispered fiercely in his ear. "Tell the spirits that Leppender Matrogain Esgeron of the Bloodfury clan sent you!" She slit his throat with a quick gesture, ripped the cloak off his back, and jumped off as Edan the Howler fell. She stared into his eyes as the light left them, then lay down on top of the gaping wound in his neck.

Thantast moved next to her with a curious glance. After a few seconds she sat up, a distinctive streak of yeti blood staining her tabard. She knelt at the Yeti's side and closed his eyes for him. "You died so that soon I may be known and feared as another, a soldier of Bloodfury with a name granted by the clan. You died so that I may be honored, and for that I honor your spirit." She stood up and backed away from the corpse of Edan the Howler. "Stand back Thandast." She raised her hands, and with a flash of light, she threw an immolating ball of fire at the ceiling. Chunks of ice cascaded down, resting on top of the dead Yeti and burying him.

She took a deep breath and looked at the Wendigo fur cloak. "My first of four trophies. Our task here in Dun Morogh is complete Thantast. Lets get back to Shattrath and prepare for the next one." She pulled a runed stone out of her bag and pictured the tall buildings with the many floating islands above them in her mind. She closed her eyes as the magic took hold, and when she opened them she was standing at the inn.

The innkeeper took one look at her and sighed. "Another fighter of the Horde all bloodied up. I suppose you want a room?"

Leppender shook her head. "No room today, I've still got a long way to go before I can rest." She walked outside and summoned her Felsteed. She raced toward the portal leading back to Orgrimmar, and reached into her bag to feel the fur on the cloak. A smile crossed her lips. "A long way to go, but the journey is gonna be very well worth it. FOR BLOODFURY!" She cried as she jumped into the portal ready to face her next challenge.

leppender
leppender
Posts: 26
Joined: April 28th, 2014, 2:41 pm
leppender

Re: Becoming Steelspine (recovered from fanfiction.net)

Postby leppender » May 10th, 2015, 2:50 pm

Chapter 3: Vengance and Honor


Leppedner rode past the many faces in Orgrimmar without looking at them, her mind set on her next task. Usually the sights and sounds of the city were refreshing with their promise of good food, and a warm fire, but at that moment such things were luxuries that would distract her. Her blood was still racing from her encounters in Dun Morogh, and all she wanted was to keep that feeling alive. Without that feeling to push her on, she knew her mind would wander into a place she fought every day to avoid, especially now that she was returning to Elwynn.

She blew past the guards that flanked the gates of the city, and headed for the zeppelin platform. She dismounted and Thantast appeared next to her. "With how insane this plan of yours is, I'm amazed you didn't cut through the mountains to get to Elwynn."

Leppender smiled at Thantast. "I told you I'm not stupid. I'm still very young, and weak by most standards. If I'm attacked in Stranglethorn Vale today I won't be able to defend myself, though I'm better off there than in the Burning Steeps."

A loud horn sounded, followed by the Goblin's usual cry of "The zeppelin to Grom'Gol has arrived, all aboard for Stranglethorn Vale!" Leppender walked calmly onto the zeppelin, followed by Thantast.

She climbed down the stairs to the lower deck, put a few silver coins into the Snack-O-Matic, and hovered her hand over the buttons, her eyes fixed on Tigule and Foror's strawberry ice cream. She clenched her fist and hit the button for Mulgore spice bread instead, and flopped down in a corner. Thantast snorted at her. "You won't even let yourself have any luxuries on this journey?"

Leppender shook her head. "I have to keep my mind focused on the task at hand... Do you even realize where we're going Thantast? What this part of the quest means for me?" Thantast shrugged his shoulders. Leppender looked down at her bread angrily. "This is the first time I've returned to Elwynn since I escaped from Stormwind two years ago."

She bit into the bread viciously, and chewed it with a look of rage on her face. The Voidwalker blinked at her. "I only came into your services recently, so I didn't know about that. What happened?" Leppender turned away from Thantast angrily, and continued eating her meal. "It's a long journey across the ocean, so you may as well tell me... Though I do enjoy seeing you brood over pointless things."

She swallowed her food and sighed. "Fine, I'll tell you how I wound up in Stormwind. It happened when I was five. A group of Human Warlocks came to my parent's hut, killed them, then took my brother and I with them. They wanted test subjects to try out new spells on... test subjects that couldn't fight back. They had heard of Gul'Dan's power, and wanted to perfect his way of performing the fel arts. The foolish Humans revered him like a God."

Thantast hovered a little closer to her, listening intently. "I wanted to be a Warrior before my parents died, but when I was taken I decided to learn their craft so I could overpower them, and escape."

Thantast grinned evilly. "And you did."

Leppender turned to him with an angry glare. "No, I didn't." Thantast looked surprised, and she sighed. "Five years ago, when I was fifteen, my brother attempted to escape. They killed him and tossed his body into a portal. I was mad... I lost control... I tried to use the powers that I'd been secretly developing over the past ten years of my imprisonment. I don't know what I hoped to accomplish that day..." She shuddered as she remembered that traumatizing day. "They were far more powerful than a fifteen year old she-Orc. They restrained me, and with the help of a few mages and priests they transformed me."

Thantast leaned close looking eager. "How?"

She looked at her hands, turning them over and clenching them. "It wasn't enough that they robbed me of my family, my youth, and my freedom... they robbed me of all that I was... they transformed my body into that of a Troll... then sealed my powers in a cocoon of holy energy... priest energy." She shut her eyes, a pained expression on her face. "Can you imagine how that felt? My bones growing, my innards shifting... ah but that pain was nothing compared to the pain of my powers being perverted. My body had grown accustomed to fel energy after ten years of being subjected to it every day... that wash of light magic tore at my very soul... it burned... I felt like a thousand tiny people had lit torches in my brain, and the fire spread all through me."

Leppender fell silent, while Thantast scowled at the thought. After several moments he spoke up again. "If they turned you into a Troll priest, how come you're an Orc Warlock now?"

Leppender shot him a spiteful look. "Because three years later I escaped! The pain of that holy magic in my body... it burned me constantly. I could feel the fel energy trying to break free inside it. My body was constantly fighting with itself. The torture from the Humans made it even worse... I was forced to accept my fate for the time, and even though the pain nearly drove me mad, I learned to harness that energy just enough to cast a shield over myself. The Humans were celebrating one night, drinking and carrying on. While they were distracted I cast my shield and ran."

Thantast's glowing eyes shifted as though he were raising an eyebrow. "You ran? Just ran?"

"I remembered what had happened the last time I fought them, and the pain that was constantly eating at me would have been too much for me to bare if I had attacked them, so yes, I ran. My shield was perfect, they couldn't touch me. I made it out of their underground coven, tasting the first breath of fresh air on my lips in thirteen years, and continued running. I could hear the guards calling to one another, but I suppose they were too stunned to pursue me. I ran past the gates, turned south, and just kept going. I swam across the river, my shield still up as I ran through Duskwood. I was exhausted, my body was weakening, but I pressed on. Finally I entered Stranglethorn Vale... just as I passed a Human encampment my strength left me."

She looked down at her hands again, speaking so softly that Thantast had to move right next to her, just so he could hear her. "I thought I was going to die... the pain was so great... I was so weary... But then I woke up at the Salty Sailor in Booty Bay with a red haired Blood Elf Paladin standing over me, wiping my face with a wet cloth." She smiled warmly at the memory. "Pegasus Firestorm, he said he was trying to chart all of Azeroth. He had found me and carried me into the town. For several weeks I lay there, barely able to move. I told him my story, and once he felt I could survive the trip he booked us passage on a ship to Ratchet, tied me to his horse, and led me to Orgrimmar. He left me in the care of a few Shamans and Priests there. It took them even longer to undo the damage the Warlocks caused, but eventually I was returned to my true form, and my fel energy was released from it's prison."

Thantast nodded silently as she finished her tale. "So now you return to the land you were trapped in for thirteen years."

Leppender nodded and stood up. "Yes now I return, and this time I intend to make as many Humans as I can suffer while I'm there." A loud horn echoed above deck, and Leppender walked upstairs. She grinned wickedly as they pulled in over Grom'Gol. "It's time my pet." She summoned her Felsteed and climbed onto it's back. "Today I will not only recover a Kobold digging shovel as a trophy to prove I went to Elwynn, but I will cause mayhem in the homeland of the Humans. They will feel the pain they made me suffer."

"You know you're almost beginning to scare me." Thantast muttered as he faded back into the shadows. Leppender ignored him and rode straight off the side of the landing platform. She ignored the heads that turned curiously in her direction, and urged the felsteed forward, through the gates of Grom'gol, and up a winding dirt track to the main road.

A screech suddenly rent the air and she looked over her shoulder. A raptor had spotted her, possibly thinking she was easy prey, and had begun giving chase. She leaned forward on the demonic horse, trying to urge it to move faster. She turned sharply onto the main road and heard a second raptor screaming behind her, joining in on the chase. "Come on... faster..." She whispered fiercely to her mount. She looked back a second time and saw that they were nearly upon her. The nearest raptor suddenly leaped forward, it's talons extended, but fortunately a demonic horse is a lot smarter than a living one. Sensing the threat, it paused for just a moment and kicked out it's hind legs, hitting the reptile in the chest and sending it flying back into it's companion. The young woman nudged the horse in the sides to urge it forward again and looked back. The raptors had begun clawing at one another, and were too busy fighting to pursue her.

The remainder of her journey through the jungle was fairly uneventful until she reached the boarder. She jumped off the horse, patting it's back gratefully as it faded back into the nether, and Thantast appeared in it's place. She walked forward slowly, examining the foliage, and the dark trees on the other side of the ravine. "It looks so different from when I last came through here... Then again I wasn't really paying attention to the trees." Thantast remained oddly silent, perhaps unsure of what to say to his mistress. She noticed his change in attitude and raised an eyebrow at him. "No smart ass comments? No insults? You're certainly not acting like yourself today."

"I wish I could say the same for you, but foolish and headstrong actions seem to be very commonplace on this quest." He muttered. It almost sounded as though he were just making conversation to keep Leppender happy. Either she didn't notice, or didn't care as she nodded and walked toward the bridge that spanned the small ravine which marked the boarder of Duskwood.

"When I last came through here there weren't that many Humans living in the area. In fact I didn't see any when I came through before. There will be a lot of blood to shed in Elwynn. Lets keep moving." Leppender said calling forth her Felsteed once more.

It seemed Leppender was correct, there was nobody to challenge her as she traveled up the road through Duskwood. She turned left when the road forked, and followed the trail until she reached a river. There she turned north, riding along the shore, Westfall clearly visible on the opposite side of the river. At long last the river forked, and Elwynn forest came into view. She glared at the green grass and trees across the river, an almost sickening feeling of dejavous curling in her stomach. She sat on her mount, almost afraid to cross over into the lands where she had been held prisoner for thirteen years, but then she spotted something that turned her feelings of unease into a sense of frenzy.

Only a few yards away in the water were two Humans, a male and a female, embracing passionately. She dismissed her horse and licked her teeth with a snarl. "Fools..." She growled. Thantast melted out of the shadows, watching her closely. "Pathetic, weak, heartless fools. They care for no one outside their own species. For so long I was a faceless, nameless creature to them. Weak and helpless to defend myself... But I'm not going to lower myself to their level, I'm not going to torture the innocent of their race..." She drew her wand and cried out. "I'll just slay them all instead!"

The two Humans in the water turned at her cry, the woman clutching her partner fearfully as they looked upon the enraged Warlock in terror. Leppender channeled her energy into the wand and let lose a volley of energy, each bolt hitting the man in the head, shattering the bones in his skull, his brains spilling out into the water.

The woman screamed and tried to swim away, but Leppender focused her energy into both hands and unleashed a powerful ball of shadow energy. It hit the female in the back, tearing through her flesh and knocking her unconscious. She landed face down in the water and floated there, her long blond hair spreading out around her, turning crimson as her blood seeped into it. Leppender swam into the water and grabbed the girl's hair, pulling her head up to look at her face. The woman awoke and looked into Leppender's eyes pleadingly, but the young Warlock's gaze was filled with malice and a mad glint of blood lust. She pulled out her dagger and slowly slit the Human's throat, watching with satisfaction as she gurgled her last few breaths, bloody foam forming at her lips before she fell silent forever.

Leppender swam to the shore, Thantast at her side. He gave her an evil smile. "I didn't know you could be so ruthless."

A wicked grin crossed the young Orc's lips, and she licked her teeth once more. "Humans are ruthless. To combat them I must be as well." She said. A sudden squeal rent the air and Leppender looked sharply to the left. A large creature similar to a Quillboar was lying about a hundred yards away with several arrows bristling from it's neck. There were three Humans standing over it, two were obviously very weak, their arms barely showing any hint of muscles as they applauded the third. That Human seemed to be much stronger, his mail armor glittering in the sunlight as he bowed before his comrades before slinging his bow over his shoulder, and scratching the head of a Nightsaber sitting next to him.

Leppender let out a soft growl and sprinted forward, keeping hidden behind the trees until she was close enough to attack. Peering out from behind a bush she raised her arms to the sky, and brought them down in a vicious swipe. The sky turned red above the Humans as balls of fire rained down upon them. The two weaklings were struck down instantaneously, the miniature meteors crushing their skulls and setting their flesh ablaze, but the hunter seemed unaffected by the barrage. Indeed Leppender's rain of fire just bounced off his armor. He stood staring at his fallen comrades in stunned horror for a few moments, then turned around and glared at Leppender.

Her battle rage subsided long enough for her to realize just how much trouble she was in. She knew that none of her spells would be able to penetrate the hunter's armor. Thantast snarled at her. "Not that I care if he kills you, but you can't get a trophy if you're dead."

The Human let out a cry of fury and pulled out his bow, notching three arrows into it at once, preparing to open fire. "Point taken Thantast, lets get out of here!" She said, deciding that it was time to advance in the other direction. She began running, and heard the twang of the bowstring as the hunter let his arrows fly. A split second later Leppender fell to the ground with a sharp cry of pain, an arrow sticking out of her upper left leg, her lower back, and her left shoulder. She clawed at the ground desperately as she tried to get back to her feet. "Thantast, protect me!" She cried.

The area in front of her began to shimmer, and as she rolled over she saw another arrow falling right toward her head, but it grazed off the shield, sticking into the ground in front of her. With a supreme effort of will Leppender jumped back up, and continued running. She passed a farm and saw a hill leading down to a mine with several Kobalds walking around outside. She heard the Human yell. "Just you wait Orc! You're going to pay for that!" For a moment she thought the Human had spoken Orcish because she could understand him, but then she realized that he was speaking in his Common tongue, and she had only understood him because she had learned their language while she was a prisoner of the Humans.

Leppender scowled at the realization and gritted her teeth against the pain of her wounds. She looked up toward where the Human was standing at the top of the hill, but he whistled for his horse and rode away. She let out a soft growl. "I think he's gone to alert the Humans in Stormwind. We don't have much time Thantast."

The Voidwalker growled. "If you had been smart about this from the start then they wouldn't know we were here."

Leppender turned to Thantast with a snarl. "Oh shut up, this time I'm going to let you kill them with me but only because we don't have time to do this in a more ritualistic fashion."

Thantast smiled wickedly, eager to cause death and destruction. Wordlessly they headed into the mine. Leppender began launching balls of energy from her wand, hitting every Kobald she saw, and Thantast charged forward, pummeling them and ripping off their heads in a frenzy. The air around them grew hot from the constant volley of energy, and the ground soon resembled a river of blood as one by one the creatures fell. Leppender briefly examined each corpse as they traveled through the mine, digging through the tattered clothes the fallen miners wore, and ripping their weapons out of their hands. None of them were carrying a shovel.

Leppender began cursing each one she came across with illness and disease, corrupting their flesh until they lay writhing on the ground in agony, a sense of panic beginning to wash over her. It was taking too long. At last she spotted a Kobald ahead of her using a shovel to unearth some copper ore. With a cry of mingled rage and relief she ran toward him, brandishing her dagger. As she charged the creature a sound reached her ears that made her blood run cold. "She went in the mine, probably looking for more new recruits to slaughter!"

She sped up and jumped on the Kobald, flattening it against the ground as she dug her dagger deep into it's throat. The creature let go of the shovel, and clawed at her arm franticly for a few seconds before it's arms fell to it's sides, and it lay dead on the ground under her. Quickly Leppender picked up the shovel, and pulled a runed stone out of her bag, but before she could begin channeling her energy into it she heard a loud crack, and a sickening pain flooded through the side of her head. She fell over, her vision becoming hazy as she looked up at the Human standing over her, his hammer resting over his shoulder casually as he examined her. She barely registered Thantast hovering over to her looking delighted, obviously sensing that his mistress was about to die.

Despite her hatred of the Human race she couldn't help but feel slightly impressed by the appearance of this one. He wore a set of pure gold armor that had a wing on the right shoulder pad. The hammer resting upon it had a large flattened head on each side in pure silver, with a spike on top. The Alliance emblem glowed blue and gold from the center of the hammerhead where it met the handle, which was also blue and gold. His golden helmet had wings on either side of it, and must have been enchanted, for it made his eyes glow blue until he removed it, tucking it under his arm. "This is your kinslayer? A weak Orc-lock? She's hardly even worth my time." The Human said.

"I would have taken her out myself, and I did weaken her, but I didn't want to risk coming in here without backup. For all we know she's got a few friends hiding in here preparing to ambush Goldshire!" Leppender lifted her head slightly, looking at the Hunter who had wounded her before.

She let out a soft growl of rage and pain. "Orcs aren't cowardly enough to hide in a cave just to ambush a village, not like Humans. If you're going to kill me, hurry up and get it over with!"

The two Humans looked at her in surprise and she bit her tongue furiously, realizing she had spoken in Common. The Human with the golden armor knelt down next to her and gave her a curious look. "How do you know our language Orc?" Leppender remained silent, glaring at the Human. She wasn't about to debase herself by speaking with that foul creature. The Human frowned at her. "If you don't want to tell me that's fine, but if you wish to live you might consider answering my questions. Now, were you planning an ambush of our town?" Leppender glared at the man angrily, but after several moments she shook her head painfully. The action made her even more dizzy and she closed her eyes, beginning to lose consciousness.

She saw a soft golden light and her pain faded. This is it, I'm dead. She thought bitterly. The light suddenly disappeared and all she saw was darkness. She took a deep breath and waited. After a few seconds her eyes snapped back open in shock as the Human spoke again. "Since I've healed you perhaps you'll be a bit more willing to answer me." She looked at him with her mouth agape as the truth began to register in her mind. The light she had seen wasn't the light of death approaching, it was the holy light of a paladin shining as he healed her wounds! "If you weren't here to ambush our people, then why did you come to Elwynn Forest?"

She sat up slowly and reached for the Kobald Mining Shovel. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the hunter fit another arrow into the bow and aim it at her. She stared at him defiantly and held the shovel against her chest, cradling it almost lovingly. The paladin observed Leppender's actions curiously for a few moments. "You came to get a shovel? That's it?"

Leppender looked at the paladin and nodded slowly, still clenching her hearthstone in her fist as she held the shovel. "She's lying, why would anyone travel all the way across Azeroth just to get a shovel?" The hunter said.

The paladin ignored him and grabbed her wrist gently, turning it to look at the stone. His mouth set into a grim line. "I think she's telling the truth, she was preparing to leave when I hit her."

"Then why doesn't she explain herself? We know she can talk." The hunter spat. Leppender glared at him hatefully.

The paladin stood up and walked over to the hunter, setting down his enormous hammer and placing his helmet on the haft so he could cross his arms over his chest as he looked the man in the eye. "Our races have never trusted one another, ever since the Orcs first invaded Azeroth. She obviously doesn't trust us any more than you trust her. Unless one of us decides to make the first show of kindness there will never be peace between our races, and if you're not going to be the one to do it, then I will!"

The hunter snorted but lowered his bow. Leppender watched the two, looking highly confused. This wasn't what she had come to expect from Humans. She had always known them to be cruel and heartless creatures, but this paladin had not only healed her, he was defending her from one of his own! He turned back to Leppender and nodded. "I believe that Humans have done you a personal wrong in the past, and so you decided to take it out on those you encountered here in Elwynn while you were on your way to acquire that shovel. That's the only reason I can think of that you would know our language, yet hold such a deep hatred for my people. Whatever happened before I hope that by sparing your life I have helped to make amends for it. Go now, and perhaps the next time we meet you will be willing to speak with me on more friendly terms."

Leppender stood up and began channeling her energy into the stone. She looked at the paladin, her expression blank. "I will not forget this." She said in Common. Before she disappeared Leppender caught a glimpse of the Human smiling warmly at her, but the next second she was back at the inn in Shattrath.

Thantast hovered over to her, having traveled through the nether to reappear at her side. "Well that was disappointing. I thought he was going to kill you, but instead you became friends!"

Leppender raised her eyebrow at Thantast. "Friends with a Human? Don't make me sick. I'll admit that my perspective of them has changed slightly, that I now think some of them are capable of kindness, but I stand by my beliefs. Humans in general are evil cold hearted creatures, and Azeroth would be better off without them. Someday I will return to that land and wipe them all out..." She looked at the shovel in her hands and smiled. "But until then I have another task to complete."

Leppender looked up as the innkeeper approached her hesitantly. "Um do you want a... oh never mind, I'm not even going to bother asking you this time."

Leppender smirked at the innkeeper and put the shovel safely in her bag. "Good call, because I don't need a room. I still have a long way to go." She said. With that she walked outside, summoned her steed and rode toward the lift. Once she reached the main level of Shattrath she headed for the portals and leaped into the one set for Orgrimmar. "FOR HONOR!" She yelled as she entered the portal, heading off to begin the most dangerous part of her quest for a name.

leppender
leppender
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leppender

Re: Becoming Steelspine (recovered from fanfiction.net)

Postby leppender » May 10th, 2015, 2:51 pm

Chapter 4: Glory and Death


Leppender directed her steed toward the wyvern handler high above the Valley of Strength in Orgrimmar. Once more the sounds and smells of the city tried to tempt her, but she kept her mind focused on her task. She had both anticipated and dreaded this part of the quest, and now that it was upon her, it was taking all of her resolve not to simply back out. She was sure she could think of something less dangerous to do if she wanted to earn a last name from the Bloodfury, but she didn't want anyone to think she was too weak to do something truly challenging. She wanted to complete a task that before she came along had only ever been considered by the most powerful Orcs. She knew that if she could survive this part of the journey, and come back with the Keen Machete belonging to the Grell Threggil in Teldrassil, she would earn more than enough honor to be given a last name. If she died on the quest, then she would die in pursuit the of honor, and no death could mean more to an Orc than that.

She took a deep breath as she dismounted in front of Doras, and Thantast appeared at her side. "You're crazy... absolutely, and utterly insane." Her minion muttered.

Doras raised his eyebrow curiously at Thantast, and Leppender was tempted to say something to him, to mention the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, or the way the bile was already rising in her throat at the thought of the journey ahead, but she decided against it. "I'd like to book a flight to the Zoram'gar Outpost in Ashenvale." She said.

Doras nodded silently, used to hearing odd requests from adventurers, and led a Wyvren over to Leppender. She climbed onto it's back and it took off in a flash. As she flew over Orgrimmar and out across the Barrens toward Ashenvale, she struggled to regain control of her emotions. Though she would never admit it, even to herself, it was fear she was feeling. Deep, nauseating fear. She had spent many hours in the library at Shattrath researching the Alliance homelands so she could plan out the safest way to complete her journey, but no matter how hard she looked she could not find any way onto the island of Teldrassil without going through Darnasus.

It was common knowledge that each of the home cities of both the Horde and Alliance were guarded by the most elite fighters each race could find. Leppender was still a pup, barely able to take on the creatures in Ashenvale without getting severely injured. She knew it would take more than a bit of luck to get past the Sentinels at Auberdine, board a ship to Teldrassil, sneak past the guards in Rut'theran to the portal leading to Darnasus, and make it through the Elvish capital alive. Even if she did manage to get past Darnasus and acquire the Keen Machete, unless she made it through all of that unscathed her odds of surviving the escape from the island were slim.

There were only two ways off Telrdassil; back through Darnasus the way she had arrived... and jumping off the side of the cliff. Either way it was practically suicide, and Leppender knew it. She had already decided what method of escape she preferred, and it was that more than anything which caused her stomach to churn. At last the wyvern landed in Zoram'gar, and she jumped off it's back, Thantast appearing once more at her side. "From the look on your face, I'm assuming you've finally figured out that you're going to die doing this." He said with a small smile.

Leppender sighed at him and shook her head. "If I just assume I'm going to die, then yes, I'll wind up dead by this because I'll already have given up." Thantast looked at her inquisitively. "But I have no intention of failing this quest, so until my body stops moving, and my soul is among the ancestors I will not concede to death. I am NOT going to die Thantast, so you will have to learn to accept that."

Leppender began channeling her energy to summon her felsteed, and Thantast muttered softly under his breath, too quiet for Leppender to hear. "You are like him in some ways after all..."

The young Warlock jumped onto the horse's back and looked at the beach ahead of her. She gritted her teeth and heeled her mount into action, taking off in a flash, heading north up the beach toward Darkshore. She could hear her heart pounding in her ears, and in her panic stricken mind she could have sworn that the sound resembled the words "to death, to death, to death." Yes, I am riding toward death. She thought. Suddenly she smiled and began laughing, at first just a low chuckle, then becoming a high almost maniacal laugh. "To death I ride then, but it will be a glorious death!" She cried out. Her fear was gone, replaced with frenzy. Her steed let out a loud nicker, and jumped over a set of boulders. Leppender noted how the sand here was of a slightly different color, a darker tone. Darkshore. She leaned forward, urging the demon to move faster.

After a few minutes riding up the beach Leppender spotted movement near the remains of a sea turtle. Two Elves were battling the murlocks that lined the shore. Carefully she stood up on the back of her felsteed, still running at full tilt. With a loud battle cry she charged at the Elves. With a quick mental command she directed her steed to jump over them, then dismissed it back into the nether as she soared over their heads. With her dagger drawn she landed on the back of the first Elf, driving the weapon deep into his neck. Thantast appeared the next moment and charged at the second elf who had drawn a bow from his back.

The one Leppender had struck was still alive, his life blood pooling on the ground as he franticly reached for the dagger protruding from his neck. Leppender pressed down on it, then covered the man's face with her other hand, and began chanting. The elf let out a cry of terror as purple energy enveloped Leppender's hand. After a few brief seconds a shard formed in her hand, and the man stopped struggling, his once glowing eyes now blank. Leppender smiled then let out a sharp cry of pain, an arrow sticking out of her stomach near the left side of her hip. She turned with a snarl toward the remaining elf, who was notching another arrow, ignoring the demon punching him and trying to block his view. Leppender gave him a cold look, locking eyes with him, and muttered a curse under her breath. The man's expression turned to one of pure horror, and he took off screaming in the other direction. With a wicked grin the young woman began murmuring under her breath, fire sprouting to life in her hands. She threw her hands forward, launching a blast of fire at the elf. His cries turned from just fear to agony mingled with terror. He took a few more faltering steps before collapsing on the sand, charred and dead.

Leppender took several deep breaths, a low growl emanating from deep in her throat with each one. She looked down at the arrow in her side, and jerked it out, not even feeling the pain, and barely noticing the steady flow of blood seeping out of the wound. Her mind was blank, she had entered the trance-like state of bloodlust, and some deeper part of her knew that in order to keep going she had to remain in that state. Swiftly she called forth her steed again, and in one quick leap she was on it's back, galloping north once more.

Through the red haze that had settled over her mind, Leppender became aware of a town appearing on the horizon. She leaned forward on her demon mount, pressing her body against it as much as she could, and whispered fiercely. "Ride straight through. Do not stop until you are either on the ship leading to Teldrassil, or until their weapons force you back into the nether!" The horse snorted, it's eyes blazing with excitement as it rode up the final hill approaching Auberdine. With a mighty leap they landed on a platform with two nesting Hippogryphs. The guards looked at her in shock, but by the time they reacted to her presence she was already inside the inn, and racing at breakneck speed for the docks.

She heard the high pitched, almost musical voices of the sentinels as they called out to one another in anger. Leppender's heart began to pound so hard she thought it would burst through her chest. She was halfway to the ship when two of the guards ran at her from their posts, the first using her moonglaive to slice at the horse's legs, the other running past and slashing at Leppender's side. Her concentration wavered from the pain of the blow, and her mount disappeared back into the nether. With agility stemming from a will to survive, Leppender leaped onto her feet, and continued running as fast as she could. She spared a moment to look back as she ran, and saw no less than six guards chasing her. I MUST get to the ship! She thought desperately. Two more guards who were stationed at the farthest dock spotted her and came running. Just as she turned to the dock where the ship was preparing to depart, they ran in front of her. Screaming wildly they slashed at her midsection. Leppender made a gurgling grunt, spewing up blood, but she forced her legs to keep moving. A bell clanged, and to her horror she saw the ship beginning to pull out. She cried out and bunching her muscles she jumped, managing to grab hold of the side of the ship with one hand as it pulled out of the harbor.

She reached up with her other arm to pull herself onto the deck, but it seemed to be caught on something. She tried to tug her arm free, and a deep searing pain shot through her stomach. She looked down and had to fight the urge to vomit. A slimy gray rope of some sort was sticking out of her gut, and had wrapped around her wrist. Her right arm aching from holding her weight for so long, she carefully maneuvered her wrist out of the rope, spewing up even more blood as she cried out in agony. At last her other arm was free, and she pulled herself up onto the deck. The elves looked at her in horror, but made no move to assist her. At some point the Alliance captains had been paid off to ignore Horde who managed to get onto their ships. They would not kill her, but they certainly wouldn't help her either.

She looked down at herself, and a sudden realization settled in. The rope was her own intestines! Fighting the urge to bring up more blood she reached into her soul pouch, pulling out a handful of glowing shards. After inspecting them for a few moments she took one between her thumb and forefinger, replacing the rest in her pouch. She grinned at the shard and muttered. "You fell to my dagger on your own shores... now you can help me recover from the injuries I suffered at the hands of your sisters." She whispered an incantation, and the shard began glowing with a fel green light, it's sharp edges smoothing out until the shard had become a perfect sphere. She popped it into her mouth and swallowed. There was a shlooping sound and Leppender gagged. She looked down and smiled with relief, her intestines having been sucked back into her body, and the wound sealed to a scab. It wasn't perfect, but at least her insides weren't decorating the ground.

At last she sat up and surveyed her surroundings. The boat was sailing swiftly over the ocean, the elves onboard casting her dark looks. She turned to the right and smiled. Hovering in the shadows next to the cabin was Thantast. He sighed at her. "You know, I think I'm beginning to really hate you. Every time I think you're about to die, you survive."

Leppender chuckled softly, but didn't reply. She moved next to Thantast and sat down leaning against the cabin, pulling out a piece of jerky to munch on. After she finished eating she pulled off her tabard and vest, examining her wounds with a frown. "They got me good..." She muttered, running her hand over a deep gash on her side with a wince.

Thantast snorted. "You knew they were strong. The ones in Darnasus are going to be even stronger. How do you plan to get past them?"

The young Orc pulled a flask out of her bag and smiled. "With this. I was told it forces most of the air my body takes in to go to my legs, making them able to move faster. You will ward me as you have done before, then I will ride out on my steed. If I get knocked off it, I will drink this potion and outrun the guards."

"That's your plan? Why not just walk into Rut'theran village with your arms above your head and say 'kill me please'?" He mocked.

Leppender laughed. "You'd like it if I did that wouldn't you?" A bell chimed once more and she stood up. Her legs shook under her with exhaustion and pain, but she ignored them and called forth her demonic steed. The horse snorted and pranced with agitation. She soothed it. "Yes I know, that was unpleasant. One more run past enemies, that's all." The felsteed snorted and tossed it's head in a nod.

She directed the horse to the front of the ship, and before they docked she jumped into the water. They swam to shore, unnoticed by the guards. Bending low, Leppender urged the demon forward. She heard startled cries from the guards as they spotted her, but she kept moving, her eyes set on the glowing red portal ahead of her. Darnasus. She voiced a fierce howl, a battle cry, and directed her felsteed through the portal before any of the guards could reach her. Despite the immediate danger she was in, she couldn't help but marvel at that moment. She had defied all odds, and despite her lack of skill she had successfully entered the Night Elf capital, the center of their civilization.

She looked to her left and saw an elf commoner talking to one of the guards, pointing at her. "I'll celebrate later." She said, and took off as fast as her horse could carry her. Arrows whizzed past her as she rode toward the bridge. I'm going to make it! She thought excitedly as she passed under an arch, and leaped down to the ground. She heard a loud creaking noise and a roar. She looked up just in time to see what appeared to be a tree with a face swiping at her with a gigantic arm. A loud ringing sounded in her ears, and she barely noticed that she was flying through the air until she landed. Her world was suddenly a haze of pain, her mind clouded with a red fog.

Footsteps began ringing on the pavement nearby. She heard a yell quite close and with an extreme effort of will she pushed herself to her feet, not a moment too soon. She felt something slice into her back, the hot white pain from the wound clearing her mind. She began running away, digging in the pack at her side desperately as she did. She noticed a shadowy shape gliding along beside her. "Thantast, now!" She cried. Her already blurred vision wavered more as the shadowy shield formed around her. After what felt like an eternity she pulled the vial out of her bag, used her teeth to remove the stopper, and chugged it. Her legs which had felt like they were weighed down by boulders suddenly felt as light as air. With a burst of tremendous speed she outdistanced the guards and passed under the final arch leading out of Darnasus, into the lands of Teldrassil.

The sounds of the guards faded, and she allowed herself to collapse on the ground. If her legs felt like they were heavy before, it was nothing to what they were feeling after fleeing the guards. Her blood was streaming down to the grass below in rivulets, her head was swimming with dizziness and pain. Gingerly she touched the back of her head, feeling the lump that was already beginning to swell there. She hissed with pain, pulling her hand away. Thantast floated in front of her, moving into her line of sight with an impressed look on his face. "I can't believe you did it. You actually survived the journey through Darnasus."

Leppender smiled weakly. "What, you're not going to complain that I'm still alive? That you're still my servant?"

Thantast shook his head. "I underestimated you. Perhaps you really do have what it takes to become powerful. The day you die I will rejoice, but something tells me that won't be for a long time."

The young Warlock smiled fondly at her demon. "I told you that, but let's hope you're right. We still have to get the Keen Machete and get off this island."

Struggling against her weariness and pain she stood up and called for her felsteed once more. Climbing onto it's back less gracefully than before, she directed the flaming horse into the forest. She rode at a slower pace, fighting the urge to submit to the haze that threatened to become a deep black void. I'm too close to give in now. I can't give up! She thought desperately. If she hadn't been so badly wounded Leppender might have taken the time to appreciate the truly stunning flora and fauna of the island, but her mind was focused on just one thing, completing her mission.

The fog in her mind seemed to clear for a moment as she reached the opening of a cave. A single Grell was standing out front, guarding the entrance. She dismissed her mount and looked at Thantast. "Do not attack. I must do this as I did in the mountains, alone."

Thantast nodded silently and watched as she stepped forward slowly. The Grell looked at her and snarled, charging at her with a tiny sword. He sliced at her legs, slicing them three times before she could even think to draw her dagger. The little creature managed to get in another four blows before she jabbed the dagger into his heart. Thantast scowled. "You know, maybe you should forget rituals for now, and focus on staying alive."

Leppender stumbled to the entrance of the cave, leaning heavily against the wall, and nodded. She spotted another of the creatures nearby, and muttered a chant under her breath, a green stream of energy flowing between the Grell and her hands. Before the little sprite could reach her, she had sucked all the life out of him. She took a deep breath, feeling slightly more energized, and moved deeper into the cave. One by one the bodies piled up, all of them falling to the ground with no trace of visible injuries, but looks of horror and agony on all their little faces showed that they had suffered greatly before they gave up their ghosts. Thantast took up the same chant he had the first time Leppender had entered a cave full of enemies. "Twelve, thirteen, fourteen..." He muttered as the creatures fell to his master's power.

By the time she was deep in the heart of the cave, Leppender's wounds had sealed shut, and her head had stopped spinning. She was still weary and in pain, but it was easier to keep going than it had been before. She stopped suddenly just as Thantast reached twenty-eight. In front of her was a very large Grell carrying a wicked looking machete. "Threggil..." She muttered. The creature turn to look at her, and snarled, baring it's sharp teeth and blood red gums. Leppender snarled in turn and ran at her prey. Threggil, like Edan the Howler, was more intelligent than his allies. He quickly dodged behind Leppender, and made a deep gash across her side and back, crisscrossing with the wound she had suffered in Darnasus, and reopening it. She reached behind her, and grabbed the little sprite's blade, ignoring the pain on her palm as she did, and flipped him over her shoulder with such force that he let go of the machete, and flew into the wall behind him. Once more Leppender charged at the creature, holding the sword high overhead and bringing it down swiftly. In one clean swipe, she cut Threggil in half. He howled in agony and thrashed around on the ground, his innards spilling from the wound where his legs once joined his torso.

She knelt down next to Threggil, looking him dead in the eye. "Your death will serve to bring me one of the greatest honors an Orc can know, to be named by one's clan. If anything can bring you peace in your death, know that it was not for nothing." She said, then she quickly drew the machete across Threggil's neck, ending his life mercifully. She looked down at the sword in her hand and let out a roar, the most difficult of her challenges was complete at last! After spending a few moments reveling in joy, she put away the Keen Machete and picked up both halves of her enemy. She found a grouping of boulders near the wall where she had cut him down that made had a small space between them. Carefully she lay the remains in between the rocks, then picked up another nearby boulder, straining with the weight, but managing to rest it on top of the others. With her enemy laid to rest in a natural tomb, she turned and slowly made her way out of the cave, stumbling slightly with exhaustion.

Thantast watched her carefully as they exited the cave, and she prepared to call for her steed again. "Perhaps you should set up a camp and rest before you try to leave..." He said with a note of concern in his voice.

Leppender gave him a grateful smile but shook her head. "We are still in enemy territory. There is no place I can set up camp to rest without being discovered. Besides..." Leppender paled slightly, swallowing a lump of bile that rose in her throat. "I'll more than likely be resting soon enough."

Thantast scowled at her. "You mentioned once how you planned to escape... You don't actually mean to go through with it do you?"

Leppender didn't respond, she simply called for her mount and climbed onto it's back. Thantast faded into the shadows with a frown. She traveled west at a faster pace than earlier. Where her mind had been too clouded before to take in much detail, now it seemed as though she were able to see everything in sharper relief. Every leaf stood out to her, each one containing a beauty of it's own. She felt tears streaming down her face, but ignored them.

At last she reached the edge of the island, a cliff that was so high Leppender couldn't even see the ocean below. She dismounted and gave her steed a gentle pat. Thantast appeared once more, still frowning. Wordlessly Leppender pulled a soul shard out of her pouch and inspected it. After several moments she spoke to it. "I told you that you were the first to fall on this quest... Now I hope that you will allow me to survive my own fall." She began uttering an incantation, focusing her energy into the shard. This time it glowed purple. Quickly, she popped it into her mouth and swallowed. A warm rush passed through her body, and she shuddered.

Thantast moved up next to her curiously. "What did you do?"

Leppender looked over the edge of the cliff, her expression blank and her voice a monotone. "I have used the soul shard I took from the first Dwarf I killed in the mountains at the start of this journey, making it into something that will store my own soul within my body. If I die my soul will be released back into my body, and whatever injury it was that killed me will be healed enough for me to survive."

"Enough for you to survive? You'll still be injured though..." He said.

Leppender nodded slowly. "I know... but I cannot survive going through Darnasus again. The final part of this quest still remains, so I must make it to Azuremyst. To get there I have to go through Auberdine once more... but I am certain I can survive that part if I run directly from boat to boat at the dock without stopping. If I were to go to Shattrath now, and take the Wyvern like before..." Leppender frowned even deeper. "I felt the bite of their weapons already. I cannot risk going straight through their village again. No my pet, this is the only way I can complete my quest and possibly survive."

Leppender moved her foot closer to the edge of the cliff, her heart racing as though it knew it may soon stop beating forever. She bit her lip and looked over the edge. With a look of grim determination she nodded at Thantast. "I'll see you soon... I hope." She backed up several paces then ran toward the edge of the cliff, jumping as far as she could once she reached the edge. For a moment if felt as though her heart had already stopped. Fear gripped her like never before. She was falling, falling and about to die. Suddenly her vision blurred and shimmered around her. Looking up in shock she saw Thantast hovering at the edge of the cliff. He bowed when he saw her looking up, and Leppender began crying grateful tears. Her demon had shielded her of his own free will, without her having to order him.

Suddenly she felt a sharp pain in her right foot, heard a crack, and before she could figure out what happened she had been flipped upside down. Fear gripped her even tighter. She noticed a fairly thin branch now falling with her and realized what must have happened, she had hit it with one foot, and the force of the impact had turned her upside down. She was now plummeting headfirst toward the ground. Barely able to breath she looked down. The ground was growing ever closer, but the side of the cliff was leveling out. After a few seconds which felt like an eternity to her, Leppender's back began grazing the side of the cliff. As it leveled out even more she realized that she was no longer falling off the cliff, she was sliding!

She uttered a prayer of gratitude to the spirits as she continued to slide, but it seemed her luck had run out. The shield around her disappeared, and she cried out in pain as the rough rocks tore through the back of her clothes, scraping the flesh off her back. Lifting her head a bit so it wouldn't scrape against the ground, she saw a sight that both horrified and humbled her. The bottom of the cliff did indeed level out, but instead of going directly into the ocean, there were a few large boulders scattered along the shore, one directly in Leppender's path. This is it then. Spirits ward me. She thought silently. The rocks seemed to approach quickly, but Leppender forced her eyes to remain open, determined to face her death and see the last moments of her life before it ended. "FOR GLORY!" Leppender cried just as she slid headfirst into the boulder. She felt a tremendous pain like she had never imagined, heard a loud crack, and for a brief moment she saw a flash of red before the darkness took her.

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