Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Forsaken

   A hunt had brought her here. A need. An instability. She had to understand...something. She needed a reason for...something...
   For what, eluded her. Every time she thought it was in her grasp, every time she thought she could see her own questions, they faded into shadow. Such had plagued her for weeks, ever since she'd pulled herself away from the top of Lordearon's crumbling walls. She couldn't remember how she'd gotten there, nor why she'd returned to Tirisfal, of all places, after all these years, and after all that had just happened to upend her world. All she could remember of that week spent motionless beside the gargoyles was a question.
   What that question was, she'd also forgotten, but it had been there, and it had chewed its way deep into her mind.
   And now, somehow, she was here.
   Ny'alotha. The Waking City.
   She moved through its harrowing halls on stiff limbs, surrounded by a dark air that pressed in on all sides, squeezing desperation into her as it sought to grasp and rip her apart from the inside, and here, with every step, those faceless questions became louder and more distorted, and an overwhelming need for something clawed its way up her throat. Every step, another shredding reach.
   Her answers, her questions, her needs - they were here. The sole certainty in her dry and cracking soul was that she had to be...here.

   She wasn't alone, but the others weren't truly with her. She could see a madness around the edges of their eyes even as they, like she, fought back the droves of Black Empire soldiers. They'd come here to defeat N'Zoth, to end the matter once and for all - but N'Zoth was already inching his grip tighter around each of them.
   Their hearts would burst.
   Their minds would rupture.
   They would give in.
   But she could see it happening; she could see the darkness around her own eyes. It had been in her heart for so long already, and it had settled there. A warlock was closer to it, that kind of darkness. In here, that became her strength, her protection, and she held it close against her peeling skin like a suit of armour.
   She wouldn't fall. She would be the last one standing, and she would find... she would find something...
   Spattered in black blood, she moved deeper, the void-torn place changing ceaselessly around her, but in no way that she could follow. The discordant noise grew thicker the deeper into the Black Realm she went.
   She turned her mind away from it.
   It only grew louder with the effort.
   Then one sound rose above the others. Bitter. Mocking. Sylvanas's unmistakable laughter, her voice the sound of ripping silk.
   '...Nothing... Nothing...'
   Nothing. Nothing...
   The word repeated itself in her mind and conjured any and every meaning possible.
   She pushed on, her teeth gritting and cracking, eyes shut tight, following a path laid out by the darkness itself. It would take her where she needed to go. Of that, she had no doubt.
   And yet, she still caught a flash of something, and with it...comfort. Reassurance. Promise... And her mother's face.
   With cold, violet eyes.
   Had her mother always worn Sylvanas's face?
   No. No, she hadn't.
   Her teeth clamped harder and eyes shut tighter as she shook it away. Her mother had had green eyes. Green eyes, hair of curling flames, and a wide and irregular scar on her cheek - a burn from a splash of boiling water. She'd splashed that water, helping in the kitchen as a child.
   She held that face, that memory, and the sound of her mother's startled cry firmly in the centre of her mind - firmly, even as the darkness edged in around it.
   '...is NOTHING!'
   Her fingers were wet. She'd broken her cheek. She realised she was clutching her face. She barely felt it.
   She barely felt anything anymore. Nothing beyond the dull clang of betrayal that reverberated behind her ribs.
   Another onslaught fell upon her thinning party, and she fought wildly, her spells flying far from where she wished them to as she held on to that desperate thread. The others were falling to the darkness around her, their blades and arrows finding their companions or simply attacking the empty air.
   Then, a crypt filled her mind, Shadow Grave...Deathknell...an abstract memory, but one painfully clear, tinged with anger, hurt, loss and hatred. They were her feelings, and they were others', but she had been at the heart of them.
   Then Tirisfal itself filled her sight.
   Tirisfal in sunshine.
   Tirisfal in shadow.
   Tirisfal in mist, fog...smoke...Tirisfal was burning.
   Tirisfal was plagued. It would never come back.
   'The Horde...is NOTHING!'
   She couldn't hold it back. The blackness crashed down in a wave. Her mother's scarred face stared back at her with five orange eyes. Sylvanas's victorious cackle filled her skull.
   Then Tirisfal was green again.
   The sound of battle vanished as she looked out over the healthy land, and her fears were suddenly so easily extinguished. And how foolish they had been! The deep, booming voice rattling through her ichorous veins assured her so.
   This was what she'd been searching for! Stability, familiarity, something to fight for!
   Those orange eyes, the eyes of her mother, overlooked it all. And the figures in black, they tended it - they treated the scars, the pustules, the writhing worms. Everything that shouldn't have been, they tended. They tamed. They strengthened.
   Tirisfal would be whole again, and it would be better than before.
   But then another darkness edged in just as she grew comfortable. It was another kind of familiarity, and though she turned away from it to continue to admire the world around her, the rich, purple lure enveloped her like yet another suit of armour.
   Her eyes fell onto the white slits that coalesced before her.
   You would...fall to...this? A deep voice breathed the words slowly, laboriously, from the outline of a face the colour of the sky at twilight. After...everything...? You would...subjugate us...use us...then fall...to this? With the power...you steal...from us...you cannot...even save...yourself?
   It wasn't mockery. She knew Arcarion's tone of mockery. This was disbelief.
   When she said nothing in return, watching the black figures tending - warping - Tirisfal through his incorporeal body, the voidlord withdrew.
   And she screamed.
   The splitting of dry skin as some alien part of her released the guttural sound snatched her back to the foetid place.
   Suddenly, those figures, those pustules, those worms - those tentacles - they were all around her. The same hopeful, deceptive aura saturated the air. Ny'alotha had her in its grasp and she was falling just as fast as the others around her. But as she stared around herself, between the flashes of battle, she found that Tirisfal wouldn't be the only realm to fall into complete desolation.
   The image of Orgrimmar flickered through her mind, cloaked in eternal night; the Storm Peaks turned from pure white to oily black; Tanaris writhed with tentacles and maniacally-flicking eyes. Even places as virile as Feralas, as shielded as Dalaran, as tainted as the Dread Wastes would succumb to this absolute evil.
   And there would be no coming back from it, because every single denizen of Azeroth will have lost their minds.

   Sylvanas had done this.
   Sylvanas would have allowed the world to rot in exchange for power, for a strength to achieve something the spirits themselves surely couldn't guess at.
   And Sylvanas had used her to do it. Used everyone to do it. And she'd been too weak to see what was happening and continued to lean on her beloved Dark Lady until she crumbled with the ground that shattered beneath the banshee's feet.
   And her own bones, the bones Sylvanas had freed from the Lich King's grasp, would pave her path to glory, right beside those of her victims. Because everyone - every single one of her kind, everyone who had stood beside her - were her victims. None but her own fair and immaculate skin mattered to her; none but her own power.
   And she would pull down everything she'd once stood for to gain more.
   Edwena had been betrayed before. By her family, her friends, her own kind. And she still stood.
   The Horde had been betrayed before. And it still stood.
   Truly, she was Forsaken.
   Everyone was forsaken.

   Her spine cracked as she pulled herself up straight. Her shoulders popped as she pulled them back. Her elbows clicked as she raised her hands. The dark, leeching magic she knew so well swirled around her, magic she had mastered in her ancient attempt to find purpose after her life had ended, restarted and been turned inside out. And she bellowed again - challenging Sylvanas, challenging N'Zoth, challenging herself - and felt that power flood her entire being and chase that reverberating betrayal out from where her heart had once beat.
   She fixed the putrid, sentient globules of blood rolling across the floor towards her with a burning, maddening hatred. They disintegrated beneath a rain of bilescourge, and she marched forwards with all who remained into the shuddering, booming, crackling carapace of the Old God.
   She was forsaken. She remained forsaken.
   And she would wear it well - because that was the only armour she needed.
 


Words copyright © Kim Wedlock
No part is to be reproduced without my permission.
World of Warcraft fanfiction, patch 8.3



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