Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Written while listening to Fake It by Seether.

. . . . . “I’d really rather you stay here.” The concerned words of his friend and fellow draenei in the Modan Company rang in his ears for a few hours after she had left. The Company doctor had reiterated it. Then the boss lady had come back and shared roasted rabbit and a bit of lovely conversation with him.
. . . . . But now he was alone in the Southgate Outpost. And supposed to stay here.
. . . . . “Booooring!” he wailed up at the stone ceiling.
. . . . . The anchorite was sitting on the edge of the cot kept in the upstairs of the Outpost for medical needs…and did the Company ever have medical needs. Lately, it seemed it had been mostly him. He looked at the empty bottle of Captain Rumsey clutched in one platter-sized indigo hand, and then at the four empty bottles set neatly next to the box he’d been pulling them from. For a moment, it all looked perfectly fine…and then his neurons went into another misfire tailspin.

. . . . . A stalk of dreamfoil, fuzzy and periwinkle blue, stood upright before him. It also stood nearly eight feet tall. The tiny blossoms dotting the conical shape of the plant rearranged themselves until they formed the face of a familiar Company doctor. “Sure!” he said. “Have another drink! Drink to your heart’s content, then have three steins more!” The dreamfoil stalk with Ekanos’s face winked at him as the Outpost dissolved into golden sparkles.
. . . . . The War of the Shifting Plains. Massive Silithid bugs with their hideous, spiky carapaces burst forth from beneath the rolling green plains of Karabor. Lush crops were trampled under the stony feet of guardians. The golden gleam of Light from the Temple of Karabor in the distance was obscured by the painted pillars of the Ahn’Qiraj citadel. Druids were fighting for their lives. All males. How strange… Except…that bear looked familiar. And not male. Oh no!
. . . . . A massive, transparent-dog-headed guardian lifted a mace dipped in sickly green fel-lava and slammed it down on the fighting bear. Diyos screamed a prayer and threw a shield of holy light in that millisecond before mace met bear, but his connection to the Light was so strained…so weak.

. . . . . The bottle crashed to the stone floor in the Outpost, the sound of shattering glass wrenching him out of the nightmare of tangled memories and hallucinations. “Damn spores,” he muttered, getting to his hooves to go grab an empty grain sack. He knelt on the stone and cleaned up the glass shards, then grabbed the other empty bottles and stuffed them in the sack.
. . . . . Leaving it at the foot of the cot, he sat back down with the last bottle of Rumsey and pulled the cork out. “Bet it galled Ekanos to have to tell me to drink more for once…” Diyos chuckled to himself. “A bottle a day keeps the psychotropic spores away!” He tipped back his sixth bottle of alcohol in twenty-four hours, and then stared blankly at the table full of bread not far out of reach. “Except…” he mused aloud in the empty Outpost, “I have ended up under the doc’s care every single time I’ve managed to make it to a Company meeting.”
. . . . . The boss lady’s face flashed in his memory, her concern and fretting not as well-hidden as she thought. Diyos harrumphed and glared at the bottle in his hand. “I am sick and tired of Azshariel only ever getting to see me laid up and drunk and needing to be coddled.” The bottle clunked down on the floor next to the cot as the draenei anchorite stood up and tilted his head back at the ceiling to shout, “Do you hear me?! Sick and tired!”
. . . . . As if in answer to his shouting, a puff of fuzzy spore dust rose off his robes and into his face. Coughing, he waved the spore cloud away and swiped a piece of bread off the table. He was still standing when the spores went to work on his brain again, causing another neuron misfire despite his best efforts to kill the spores with alcohol as prescribed by the Company doctor.

. . . . . Not far from Southshore, large camps of Lost Ones – refugees – were huddled together, being harassed by angry humans for daring to invade through the portal in Stormwind’s mage district. One of the humans, some sort of high-ranking fellow by the shininess of his armor and the swagger of his steps, came up to Diyos and eyed him up and down. “Well, aren’t you shiny?” he growled.
. . . . . Diyos looked at himself in his nice white and gold robes made from primal mooncloth. “Why, yes I am. Everyone says that.” He tugged on the drape of his mantle and beamed proudly.
. . . . . “You’re in the wrong colors. We need you in purple.” The human tugged on Diyos’s hand suddenly, yanking him forward to a chair set in the middle of the refugee camp. Instead of a warped Lost One, a massive, lavender-skinned draenei male in black and white robes with an Argent Dawn tabard was seated in the chair, tied to it. A table next to him held some sort of device bristling with arcane magic spikes. “I’ll just be over here, straightening up these shelves.” The high-ranking human turned to stare into the courtyard as Diyos looked blankly at his eldest brother’s face.
. . . . . “What are you waiting for?” Zunaadrin – the eldest – snarled at him in a familiarly grumpy voice he hadn’t heard in almost two years. “Start being helpful already.” With a similar – although much more disquieting – familiarity, Diyos heard the sibilant hiss as he took that mental half-step to the side, slid into the amorphous embrace of the shadows, and reached for his brother’s temples with fingers wrapped in transparent purple magic. Another mind to dig through, to rip open, to flay and break...
. . . . . His brother started laughing madly, his crazed cackle rising in tone until it wasn’t his voice anymore. Diyos snapped his shadow-hazed eyes open to find that he wasn’t digging through his brother’s mind now, but the fel-tainted, power-crazed mind of Shield Leaus – the first Man’ari traitor Diyos had had the displeasure of discovering.
. . . . . “The Prophet is false,” hissed Shield Leaus, his sky-blue face twisted with rage. “The Light you serve will fall before the might of the Legion!”Diyos’s shadowy fingers tightened on the cackling Man’ari’s temples and the heavily-armored Man’ari being held down by four vindicators howled in pain. “Sear my mind all you like, Light-addled fool! It is nothing compared to what Sargeras will do to this planet when he gets here!”
. . . . . “Evacuate Spretomi, now.” Diyos felt sick to his stomach at the level of command, of trust, he’d been given. That he could order that…and it would be done. They were running again.

. . . . . Nothing crashed. Nothing broke. Nothing fell over. Blessedly, not even himself.
. . . . . But, somehow, Diyos managed to drag himself out of the spore-induced hallucination and memory. He looked down at his hands, drenched in shadows as if he’d dipped them in shadow-water. Shaking it off, he stuffed the piece of bread in his mouth. “Sick and tired,” he mumbled around the bread.
. . . . . His hooves clacked on the stone floor as he began pacing, the bottle of Rumsey abandoned next to the cot. The hallucination of his dead brother had a point… What was he waiting for? Did he think anything was going to be solved by drowning himself in drink? Did he think he was getting anything done running from himself? The pretty elf woman he wanted never saw anything of him but the fragile drunkard to be fretted over. The doc never saw anything but the weak man hiding from his failures. The rest of the Company, Naaru’s sake, they probably never saw anything but a brash, drunken priest.
. . . . . At one time, his words saved lives. His work – distasteful as it was – had supported the Light, protected the Prophet, warned his people before the Legion reached them… He hadn’t always been a useless drunk.
. . . . . One of the slang phrases he’d learned in Common classes burst from his mouth in an angry rush of air: “Screw this!”
. . . . . He stomped over to the cot and picked up the bottle of Rumsey, swiped another piece of bread off the table, and stomped down the stairs, muttering to the empty Outpost, “Screw this! Screw waiting around. Screw being sick. Screw being drunk. Screw these Nether-blasted spores. Screw that transparent dog thing that blew them on me.” He paused. “Wait, no. No screwing dogs. That’s just awful.”
. . . . . The tablets the Company had uncovered from the Uldaman expedition were still on the table in the meeting room where he had left them last night. So was his pack. Rumsey bottle and tablets went into the pack. Pack went onto his shoulder. He looked around the Southgate Outpost in Dun Morogh. Other than leaving a note, which he didn’t have the paper to do, he couldn’t think of anything else he should do. Well, staying here was what he should do, but the tedium was driving him nearly as crazy as the weird spores he’d been doused with. It was time he started being helpful again and took these Titan tablets up to the Frostborn dwarves he’d made friends with to see if they could translate them. “But first,” he announced to the empty meeting room, “a bath!”
. . . . . Breath puffing white clouds in the cold air, his steps almost jaunty with a renewed sense of purpose, Diyos walked out of the Outpost and looked around for his trusty steed. “Dammit, Jim!” he yelled as he spotted it inexplicably attempting to climb one of the heftier evergreens around the Outpost, “You’re an elekk, not a monkey! Get out of that tree!”

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