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Twinflame
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Lost on the Road of Noble Intent [Closed - R]

Postby Twinflame » April 29th, 2014, 1:36 am

((Set pre-MoP))

The barn was on the verge of collapsing under the weight of shadow pulling down, the force of heat pushing outward. The air inside shimmered like water, and E'a Spar Ju'uzau could see the blue skin on the back of her hands darkening, burning, just from the intensity of the swelter. The troll's thin body was almost invisible in the unnatural darkness, her three-toed feet sinking into an inches-thick layer of haze on the ground that seemed to seep through her flesh and cling to her bones. She stepped into a small pit still wet with blood ritually shed, and then up onto a dusty dais where runes had been drawn. Chains clattered against her naked body; they had held the sacrifice, but the woman was gone now.

All around her, the sounds of the rescuers could be heard. She could scarcely count them. Night Elf, Human, Undead, others? How had so many known to come? How had the Goblin given them up so badly? Could it have been by design? This should not have happened! The totems in the walls should've hidden them and protected them with fire. The spirit Kranu should have been enough to vex all entry by cursing the invaders with madness. The summoned darkness, evil so heinous that Ju'uzau was terrified to touch it, she have begun cursing the very essence of those who sought to interfere with the ritual.

A year in Westfall undetected, and now of all times.

She could almost feel the glare of the undead Outrider upon her, but instead of obeying the instinct to flee or fight back, Ju'uzau hit her knees in the circle of the uncompleted ritual, red hair bloodied, salty with sweat, pouring over her her face and chest like liquid fire. In her mind, prayers churned, desperately begging the Shakh'Oshu to guide her out of this place. She hissed in the language of the Darkspear, into air so hot it burned her lungs to breathe, "I gave this flesh to Shakh'Oshu, not to shadow. I gave blood and soul to fire, not to darkness. Is this really what you intend for your Mog'tala Nuut?"

The chains hot and burning against her skin, Ju'uzau fell back on her haunches and let her arms spread to either side, knuckles against the ground. The haze of shadow churned around her, crawling into the crevices of her palms, sinking into the cracks in her skin. She could feel lukewarm wind, like ephemeral features, brushing over the scars of hundreds of blood-lettings past. The shadows seemed to throb around her, and her pulse, her breath, her fingertips, moved with it, as if waiting. But what for? She did not know. The Shakh'Oshu had guided her here, to summon someone else's master, something darker than she'd ever wanted to touch. Surely it had some design for her.

Every countermeasure had been activated. Fire shot from the totems in the walls. A burning elemental fought the interlopers. Kranu hissed madness into the minds of the Shakh'Oshu's enemies. The shadow, laden with curses, lay over everything. But all had failed. E'a Spar Ju'uzau, Mog'tala Nuut of Shakh'Oshu, was more naked now than she had ever been before.

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Re: Lost on the Road of Noble Intent [Closed - R]

Postby Naunet » April 30th, 2014, 2:08 am

The shadows writhed about the captain of the Outriders, quaked and twisted beneath plate-clad feet, and shuddered hungrily in the face of a maddened bellow. Naunet gave no thought to the way her armor grew nearly red-hot, the way her dead skin began to crack and burn. She swung the heavy end of her mace through the oppressive shadow as though it were a material thing, and give way it did in a broad arc in front of her. She shouted again, swung again, sought out Ju'uzau's form in the darkness.

The heat of the room, unnatural and deadly, matched the heat of her thoughts and vision. The berserk rage clenched the bones of her jaw until she could hear them creaking, drew her dead muscles taught with barely contained power. She could still feel a faint lingering tingle from the agony of Meia's healing, and it fueled her anger alongside the awareness of a lost friend, of Ju'uzau's insulting attack, of the torture of innocents. The fury built until she felt as though she might explode, drowning out thoughts of finding Qa'chena and of Krazratchet's mysterious involvement, of all other purpose but one: E'a Ju'uzau.

The empty pits of her eyes found the troll in the shadows then, and before her rotted mind even fully processed the image, her body had moved, releasing the pent up energy in a single, powerful lunge forward. She led with the brunt of her mace and her shoulder, plowing into the kneeling woman with force enough to break bone with a sickening crack. Teeth bared in a snarl, Naunet drove Ju'uzau to the ground thoughtlessly, no more interest in words and questions, only in violence that would end it.
"Song dogs barking at the break of dawn, lightning pushes the edges of a thunder storm. And these streets, quiet as a sleeping army, send their battered dreams to heaven."

Twinflame
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Re: Lost on the Road of Noble Intent [Closed - R]

Postby Twinflame » April 30th, 2014, 4:49 pm

The Troll's pained body was shivering as she knelt, muttering ancient words. Her jaw moved numbly, tongue against her teeth. But the words stopped, and the pain went strangely numb. Her jaw snapped crooked and her body twisted at the shoulder and arm. Parts of her that had been brittle broke like chitin under her skin. Her flesh bent inward and outward in strange ways, skin giving way. The ground slammed against her head so fast and sudden that she sensed it only belatedly, as the blood-wet mud gave way beneath her head and body. Her own blood seemed to poor out of her features. The thick shadow was strangely cool around her body.

Ju'uzau felt weight upon her, moving. A person. An assailant. She wasn't surprised. She accepted this as inevitable, not so much afraid of the person on her as what the Shakh'Oshu meant for her in this moment. Ju'uzau would have let herself die in a moment if it had been in Kalimdor, offering herself to her chosen spirit. But here? In this darkness? It didn't feel right. It felt like dying for nothing. This was base murder, and she just a senseless victim.

Thoughtless, she writhed. Her movements must have been dumb and hideous with her suddenly malformed body. Staring at the mix of mud and shadow and blood before her eyes, Ju'uzau thrust her arm upward towards the body that pinned her. The Troll's arm was weak from fasting and self-abuse, and it thudded against her assailant pathetically. She tried to get her fingers into a ritual mudra, to channel concussive fire in some pathetic display of defiance.

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Re: Lost on the Road of Noble Intent [Closed - R]

Postby Naunet » April 30th, 2014, 9:14 pm

Using her mace and her body weight - not inconsequential thanks to her armor - to keep the troll pinned to the soggy, shifting ground, Naunet drove her opposite fist against the side her target's head. She ignored the meager efforts of the blue-skinned woman, and instead images of the human woman they'd found tortured here flashed across the red haze of her vision. She wondered for a split second what that might mean for Qa'chena, and then slammed one plate-covered fist against bone a second time.

"You're going to stop," she snarled, voice taught and gravelly and echoing with undeath. "This sick shit!" Again her fist came down. "Whatever the hell you're planning--" Again, "--is gonna stop!"
"Song dogs barking at the break of dawn, lightning pushes the edges of a thunder storm. And these streets, quiet as a sleeping army, send their battered dreams to heaven."

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Re: Lost on the Road of Noble Intent [Closed - R]

Postby Twinflame » April 30th, 2014, 9:48 pm

The fire seemed to pour into Ju'uzau's body as a familiar voice heckled her. Naunet, the Outrider, of all people. There was no ritual in this. There was no honor in it, to fail at the Shakh'Oshu's calling, to be beaten to death in Alliance territory by a traitor. She had always been right about the Outriders. That brought her no comfort.

Eventually she stopped feeling pain. Ju'uzau was laying beneath ice and Naunet was walking over the top of it, plated limbs cracking it. Her bones were just frozen water, and her body was slush. Perhaps she would be like Kranu after she was dead, and dwell in water, or the earth. She could think of better places than Westfall to join the Loa, but it seemed this was the Shakh'Oshu's will.

The shadow pulled away from her face, almost like receding water. Through her stunned senses, as her body collapsed around her, she watched the shadow and the fire. She remembered nights in the jungle, before Zalazane, before the Echo Isles, before the Darkspear had lost their home. She remembered bonfires, rituals that were more about dance and song then blood and pain. It had been a different world. She remembered the faces of her family as they had been before the Shakh'Oshu had instructed her to mutilate them. None had sacrificed more than Ju'uzau, and when she rejoined her murdered family, they would understand that.

Blood. She was tired of blood, and spirits did not bleed. She might have smiled at that if she were capable. She might have answered Naunet, "Yes. Yes, it will stop," but she was sure she did not.

The shadows rushed back at her. There weren't cold. They were lukewarm wind, dark fingers playing at her flesh. Ju'uzau went blind behind them. She felt the blood and the fire, the hot air, the strange ephemeral shadows in her pores. Death overtaking her. She'd thought it would be colder, faster. This was slow, seeping into the pits Naunet had opened in her body, filling out the cracks in her bones. It held her together. It pushed her.

When something in the shadows turned her onto her back beneath Naunet, whispered silence into her nerves, she knew this was not death. Ju'uzau wondered again what darkness that Shakh'Oshu had sent her here to serve. Whatever it was, it seeped into her face through her wounds and eye sockets. She felt it pry her eyelids open, forcing her to stare upward. At first all she saw was a dark blur, but then her vision resolved into a clear image of Naunet: a hideous, furious corpse the likes of which no shaman's curse could have created. Ju'uzau saw it more clearly than she thought she should have. She felt as though her eyes had been lifted out of her skull, out of the shadows and the haze, cleaned of something that had obscured them all her life.

Ju'uzau's body seized and shook around her. She observed this without feeling it. Her injuries were overtaking her. This... this was death. Her blood was pouring out into the ritual circle where she had been emptying the blood of the human woman. The mud was wet once more. Ju'uzau no longer desired that blood, but she didn't want it to go to this shadow. Even if it was the Shakh'Oshu's will, she still...

Something shushed her. The shadow that wrapped and lifted her by her eyes purred calmness to her, like a snake's venom sapping the strength from its prey. Ju'uzau felt tired, then. She no longer felt Naunet's attacks or saw the traitor above her. She no longer felt her blood. There was no heat or flesh. She felt the lukewarm shadow, its digits, a million fingers pressing against the inside of her skin. Ju'uzau heard a silent voice, inching towards her, muttering unthinkable sounds. And she listened very closely.

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Re: Lost on the Road of Noble Intent [Closed - R]

Postby Naunet » April 30th, 2014, 10:06 pm

Naunet heard no voices. She didn't even hear her own thoughts, if there were any. It did not occur to her to be concerned with how her coincidental comrades fared with the elemental slowly burning down the barn, or with the ravenous death knight who surely still terrorized outside. She felt the weight of her armor bearing down on her own limbs, which in turn bore down on Ju'uzau's body. She felt flesh and bone crumple and snap, heard the dull thuds of her fists as thundering echoes in her skull. And above all, her muted Forsaken senses smelled blood, an indescribable concentration of blood.

As the shadows surged and flowed about them, grappling against the troll's battered body, Naunet sought more of those sensations, those sounds, that smell. She bared rotten teeth and shook ratty hair from her vision to better take in the bloody pulp of E'a Spar Ju'uzau. There was no morality to hold her back in these moments. No cautioning words from the Field Marshall. This was all raw fury and thirst.

And then it stopped.

Naunet flung Ju'uzau's body against the ground, driving her there with the handle of her mace, and then froze, her shoulders heaving with phantom breaths. The dangerous heat of the barn returned to her senses, though she paid it just as little attention as she had moments earlier. Her arms bowed out to either side of the troll's body, clawed hands grasping around her weapon to dig into the sodden earth. She could feel dead muscles along her spine, down her limbs, quivering, twitching with lingering energy. Ju'uzau, however, was still. Naunet watched and waited.
"Song dogs barking at the break of dawn, lightning pushes the edges of a thunder storm. And these streets, quiet as a sleeping army, send their battered dreams to heaven."

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Re: Lost on the Road of Noble Intent [Closed - R]

Postby Twinflame » April 30th, 2014, 10:22 pm

Will began to drain from the barn's defenses. The fire totems set into the walls and buried in the dirt foundered. The elemental burning nearby paused and roiled, sputtering. The spirit Kranu, haunting the dry air and whispering madness, seemed momentarily distracted. The thick shadows that had lain over the walls, supporting them against all attacks, slid like oil towards the ground. As they did so, the wooden structure rumbled and shifted. The violence inside had weakened it so that its own weight bore down upon it, and the walls began to fold slowly inward. On the elemental's arms, the manacles began to crumble, and it pulled itself back away from its adversaries, muttering to itself in a crackling voice.

The ankh concealed among the beads in Ju'uzau's hair turned to ash, and her body surged upward at Naunet. Her broken arms cracked back into some semblance of the proper shape, her hands grasping at the undead woman's armor. Dark fluid poured from her crushed eye sockets like viscid tears, and her broken jaw and teeth shook. When she spoke, it was with a breathy voice, almost inaudible. "I'm going to save you in case I need you. I'm going to... save you... in case..." the words came with great difficulty, and she couldn't seem to utter any more, just hanging there and shaking.

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Re: Lost on the Road of Noble Intent [Closed - R]

Postby Naunet » April 30th, 2014, 10:42 pm

Naunet reacted on bloody instinct, lashing out against the suddenly animated woman again with a guttural shout. She tore her weapon up from the woman's body, grasping opposite ends of its handle and keeping it horizontal as she slammed it down upon Ju'uzau's chest, shattering ribs like so many toothpicks.

She only half-sensed the shadows receding around the edges of her vision, dropping away from the barn to sink into the ground, and she brought her weapon down once more for good measure. Those maddened words lingered in her ears, but their meaning was utterly lost on Naunet. "Ain't doing any saving here," she muttered in a low growl and then leaned back on her heels, away from the body she'd pinned. Her head turned, directing the black pits in her face to look around the barn, confident in her victory.
"Song dogs barking at the break of dawn, lightning pushes the edges of a thunder storm. And these streets, quiet as a sleeping army, send their battered dreams to heaven."

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Re: Lost on the Road of Noble Intent [Closed - R]

Postby Twinflame » May 1st, 2014, 12:26 am

The bag had become a death-trap. Strapped to the side of an untamed drake, it had always been terrifying. Between the roaring and the screaming, the sound of canon-fire and the unmistakable smell of blood and fire, they had thought it couldn't get any worse, but they were wrong. The bag broke from the drake's side, and all was weightless. They could hear the death-throes of the monster as it fell. With a great splash, they suddenly realized why the air smelled so strongly of salt.

And then the bag and the four cats it contained landed in the water, and the sea began to pour in. Bookshelf's fur and claws were all extended, but he couldn't orient himself. The bag was lined with animal fur and saronite, and no matter how he clawed at it, it wouldn't release him. Cat toys and uneaten treats pelted him as he scrabbled around in a panic. A black tabby named Hat got in his way, and Bookshelf clawed and hissed. Every flicker of light from the top of the bag was quickly replaced by water pouring in. Stinging water splashed in his eyes.

Wet fur and hissing fang, Bookshelf dug his claws into Hat and growled at the tabby. Find Frying Pan! Find Footstool! Calm down and organize! They needed to get the bag open, and by the Lords of Fuzz they were all going to get out of this together or die as one! Do you understand, Hat? Do you understand!? Then find them!

A final swing of a paw sent the other cat scurrying off into the bag.

As for Bookshelf, he would be the leader. They had been cast aside into the wilds, and no weakness or cuteness would save them. No, he would no longer be Bookshelf. That name passed away. Today he rose, finally, once more, as Ahuizhotl! The vicious Ahuizhotl, Predator of the Sun! And he would find that sun!

Spitting his most defiant mew into the very face of death, Ahuizhotl bunched up his small red body and threw himself at the roof of the bag where the water poured in. His adrenaline and panic had turned all to fury, and set to the song of the desperate cries from those who depended on him – those three cats who shared his fate – he threw his claws along fur and saronite until he found the clasp of the bag. He wrapped himself around the clasp, his paws reaching into the open ocean, even as onrushing water tried to tear him loose. The salt burned his eyes, so he opened them all the wider, daring it to sting him even more! Bring him pain and resistance! Turn the whole fate of the world at him that he might beat it all at once! He was Ahuizhotl! Bookshelf was dead; he was Ahuizotl!

The clasp broke so suddenly that he was thrown head over tail into the sea, held by a single claw to the small brown bag. Hissing into the water as though it were something he could kill, Bookshelf pulled himself back, his head breaking the water and clinging to the fast-sinking bag for dear life. Above, the faces of his three compatriots greeted him. Frying Pan, Hat and Footstool: they all yet lived!

But looking around, Bookshelf was almost given to despair. He could barely see the shore. They was a ship and the smoking, cindered remains of the drake that the bag had been strapped to – obviously killed by that crew – being cut loose from their harpoons and allowed to sink. The fear and hopelessness passed, though. Ahuizohtl cursed the weakness of his old name and swore silent vengeance upon the captain and crew that had killed that drake without thought to the well-being of those who rode helpless on its side.

Ahuizohtl pulled himself onto the bag, but it only had a few seconds left to hold them, and then they would be at the mercy of the waves and the sea. He turned and mewled at his panicked charges. Have strength! Ahuizohtl would get them all to shore safely. Somehow.

*

Qadr stepped from the flicker of blue light as though she were moving from one room into the next. The gem set into her skull flickered and went dark, and the path of power she had drawn through the ley lines between here and Orgrimmar dispersed with a great, silent crack that only she could feel. Mist billowed from her forehead, and she exhaled a cold breath before the temperature of this new place entered her lungs.

Westfall. Human lands. Qadr's green lips frowned about her small tusks, and she adjusted the skull cap that concealed her blind eyes. The Orc could sense her surroundings well enough. There was dirt, scrub brush, ocean, sand. She was alone, on a beach. The gem on her forehead flickered, and she could see the conflict that had happened here previously. The drake and the ship, the death knight, the shaman. She had names for some of these echoes: E'a Spar Ju'uzau, Krazratchet, Naunet of the Outriders. Other echoes she did not know. Her senses told her that those who struggled had moved from this place.

Other's, however...

Mana flickered from the gem on her head down to her fingertips. Her wards were draining power from her senses, so she dispelled them. She was alone here, for now, so had nothing to fear. She took a bag of prepared reagents from her hip – spices, herbs, the organs of rodents, the eyes of prisoners – and crushed it in her hands to release their power. She imbibed the contents. The gem on her forehead glowed again, grew cold, billowed mist.

The Orc crouched and put her hand to the ground. Yes, others still lingered. She could see the many paths they had taken, sense their sounds and feelings, so thick and constant that she couldn't make out details without a great deal more concentration. A quick search for more recent signs gave her something to work off of, though, and reaching into the mana beneath the ground -- so turbulent here in Westfall that a lesser mage would be vexed -- she found what she sought and pulled it to her.

There was a blue flash and the sound of small, sodden forms falling into the sand. Behind the small of heated air and salt, Qadr could make out the stink of wet fur and panic. She could hear the panic mews and hisses of Krazratchet's cats. Three of them simply lay stretched over each other in a feline puddle, but the fourth ran in circles. Its route was not panicked, but protective, making a perimeter around the others, taking stock of their condition. After a moment, it diverted its course and approached the Orc, mewing in recognition.

Qadr reached out and took it by the scruff of its neck. It hissed challenge and clawed at her hand, but she ignored it, lifting it from the ground and holding it near her face. The gem in her forehead wet with condensation and exuding a mist of cold power, she sensed more than saw its red fur, its wide eyes and writhing limbs. Krazratchet had named this one bookshelf. But looking past its small, willful eyes into what lie beyond, Qadr saw a different name.

With a broad smile twisting her alien features, Qadr spoke with respect, "Hello, Ahuizhotl." The cat went limp in her hands, silent for a moment, and then exhaled a low mew. Qadr chuckled at its confusion. The name it had chosen for itself was more fitting to a wolf or a predator spirit than a cat. She wondered if its Death Knight master, Krazratchet, knew what a mighty soul he had found.

Letting her smile drift away with her thoughts, Qadr pulled the cat closer to the gem on her head. "Let me see what you have witnessed, mighty beast."

Neither the Orc nor the red cat made a sound, both of them breathing calmly, hanging still. The three cats that had been deposited alongside the red one began to stir. They stumbled about in confusion, rolled in the sand, itched and spat and coughed. They walked towards the sea but fled from an oncoming wave. For a time, they sat in a small group at the Orcs feet and mewed for attention, but did not receive it. Then they were silent, waiting, watching their transfixed compatriot.

When Qadr finally put the red cat back in the sand, the animal was very tired. It lay down, and a low groan rumbled from its narrow body. The other cats licked it, and it purred.

"Thank you. I will return for you in a moment. Perhaps your owner is still around. But for now..." Qadr stepped back and turned on her heels, walking down the beach. In the distance, she saw a ship sailing southward. Further inland was a cloud of smoke rising from some massive fire. There was no one else near her, and she put enough distance between herself and the cats that she would not have to worry about them.

"For now, I must debrief Naunet." She went to one knee in the sand again, and placed her hand there. Through the lines of power she reached for the Outrider Captain. Now that the barn's defenses were crumbling, its wards dispelled, she could see inside. She watched Naunet's fury, the death of the shaman, the movement of the shadows. She silently memorized the ephemeral shapes of all present in that place. And then she took hold of the Captain, and she pulled.

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Re: Lost on the Road of Noble Intent [Closed - R]

Postby Naunet » May 1st, 2014, 2:11 pm

The fire elemental sputtered and rumbled to itself in a language barely discernible from the roar of its flames. The shackles binding it to Ju'uzau's magic had crumbled to dust, lost in the rapidly diminishing shadows, and it now swung back and forth just above the bloody ground as though lost. Naunet watched, wary, body still poised with the energy and anger of before. The old wood above and around her groaned, bowed further, began to crack and send smoldering splinters down around her.

The fire and shadow twisted, snapped out of existence, as something tugged hard in her gut. For a split second, the Captain of the Outriders felt her senses disperse, a dizzying, nauseating sensation, and then the world spun back into existence. Naunet spun in the sand, snarled at the surf pushing to shore nearby, and swung her weapon blindly at the ground beside her with one arm and a very unhappy, "Fuck." She could almost feel the vibrations of her mace striking the sand through her armored feet, and she staggered.

"The fuck!" she spat again, shaking her head violently. After a few more moments, her vision settled, and in her confused motions her dark gaze settled on the shape of an orc. Familiar. Her hand clenched around her mace, feeling an echo of the fury in the barn light up her bones. Her other hand leveled one clawed finger at the orc. "You! The hell's going on here!"
"Song dogs barking at the break of dawn, lightning pushes the edges of a thunder storm. And these streets, quiet as a sleeping army, send their battered dreams to heaven."

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