Sunday, October 3, 2010
Written while listening to Six Gun Quota by Seether.
. . . . . Finally, the last of the Company left, but not until after the creepy young thing had left a cookie atop his ice prison and told him to keep his chin up. She was one of them and always struck Diyos as a little freakish. She’d taken up the human habit of adornment through piercing and so much metal pushing into her dead flesh only seemed to make it more obscene…like carving smiley faces onto the fallen walls of Auchindoun. On Azshariel, a single piercing was cute. Perhaps he was just a hypocrite; it wouldn’t be the first time.
. . . . . The pierced one told him to keep faith in the Light and the Naaru. He’d scoffed and told her to leave, to let this human Colonel just knock him over the head and put him out already. The Light wasn’t doing jack – more slang he’d picked up in Common classes – to help him. He didn’t know precisely what jack was, but he knew not doing it meant that his world got a little bleaker with each heartbeat. When that nasty unholy Man’ari had been in his face and the Company had gotten a dose of righteous fury on his behalf, he almost felt like he’d be alright after all.
. . . . . And then they took a vote on whether or not to help him.
. . . . . And after being told what they needed to do to spring him from this early, they debated it like they were choosing an expedition spot and ended up deciding to not do anything like what they’d been asked.
. . . . . He was so screwed.
. . . . . He could understand Azshariel’s anger; he’d let her down personally. But the rest of the Company… Once the adventure was on, he as a person no longer mattered. As they speculated about his sexual equipment and used his prison as a beer cooler and squabbled over where they would go, finally settling on a place that had nothing to do with where they’d been asked to go, the cloud over his head and the emptiness in his chest expanded. By the time they’d left, his give-a-damn had long since cleared the way out for them.
. . . . . With barely any of his attention at all, he heard the human Colonel dismiss the draenei Corporal. Then the death knight approached Diyos in his icy prison, hefting the massive three-pronged mace onto his shoulder in preparation. The anchorite said nothing, his eyes on the ice encasing his hooves.
. . . . . The death knight swung the mace in a low arc and shattered the ice with laughably little effort, shards spinning off into the sere red dust of the Breach. Without the support of the ice, Diyos’s wearied legs crumpled and he dropped onto his tail with a faint crunching sound. It was probably broken, but he couldn’t feel anything from the waist – or wrists – down.
. . . . . Colonel Eredis tossed the mace aside into the dust as if the giant thing weighed about as much as an emaciated gnome. “You were unruly, so you’re now in the ghoul pits,” he said, “where no one will know you exist.” There was nothing emotional in his tone, nothing to indicate why the hell he’d just done that. “Disappear until you hear the all-clear. Only I will know you aren’t in the pits; am I understood?”
. . . . . From his position on the ground, Diyos looked up, puzzled. “Wait… And when your asshole Man’ari comes back looking for me…?” To his dismay, he wasn’t shivering, nor were his teeth chattering. He couldn’t feel anything at all, and a tiny part of his rational mind was saying ‘warning sign, danger.’
. . . . . The death knight’s expression hardly changed at all, just the faintest lift of an eyebrow. “I told you. You’ll be in the ghoul pits, where it will take a year to find out where you’re hiding.”
. . . . . Feeling a numbness that went disturbingly beyond the physical, Diyos blanched and tried to push himself to a standing position. As he managed to get upright, a loud crack reported off the bones nearby, echoing back to him – his right hoof splitting. “Disappear, huh? Do you care where or how far I go?”
. . . . . “That’s your business. Not mine.” After a moment’s pause, the Colonel continued, “I’d suggest away from anywhere you’d think I would show up.”
. . . . . The anchorite cast his gaze around. After several long moments of searching, he sighed like a man stepping up to the gallows. “Fine. Don’t show up in this tent, then.” He turned around and limped over to a dark tent across from the one full of sinister alchemy supplies he’d been held in front of, his legs working more through force of will than actual function.
. . . . . While he was shifting aside a stack of rotted feed sacks and moving a crate to the side, Eredis followed him to the entry of the tent, one eyebrow clearly arched now. “Huh. I would’ve thought it was Booty Bay for certain.”
. . . . . “I’m too tired to go far,” Diyos said as he sat down on the ground once more. “Figured you’d know that.” He tugged the crate in front of him.
. . . . . “Your elekk isn’t too far off. Had a contact find him and move him closer.” A short pause. “Turns out he likes walnuts.”
. . . . . The anchorite grabbed one of the sacks and pulled it over his hooves. “Dammit, Jim. Traitorous beast’ll follow anyone with nuts.” He draped another bit of rotted sackcloth over his waist and coughed. “Maybe…tomorrow…I’ll find him and vanish.”
. . . . . Colonel Eredis watched the anchorite arrange the abandoned sacks to help hide his robes from view and pull the sackcloth up around his shoulders. “Hmh.” His booted feet kicked up a bit of sanguine dust as he walked back to the alchemy tent and then returned with an armful of blankets. It seemed he had damn near a full linen closet in that alchemy tent. “In case you get cold. … -Er.” The blankets dropped to the ground within reach.
. . . . . Diyos pulled two free and paused, eying the weave. “Hey. This looks…” For a moment, he puzzled over the familiarity of the work, but that lasted about as long as his hope that the Company gave a damn about him or that the Light would help him. He shrugged and balled one up under his head, lying down so that the crate hid about a third of his body.
. . . . . He could hear the death knight do one of those crisp, soldierly pivots and start walking out of the tent. “Hey. Colonel Baker Man.”
. . . . . Eredis stopped at the edge of the tent. “Hm?”
. . . . . “Do you like fishing much?”
. . . . . “I do.”
. . . . . “Maybe… Don’t go fishing at Loch Modan for a while.”
. . . . . The death knight hardly missed a beat. “Y’know, there’s a nice spot around the base of the dam that I don’t go to anymore, too. Don’t think I’ll be welcome in Ironforge for a while, anyway.”
. . . . . Diyos coughed again and pulled the blankets up over his head. “Sure.”
. . . . . The pause was long enough that Diyos almost figured the death knight had silently left, until he spoke again. “You’re the only breather I’ve ever known that could match and evade a full squad of my Knights. Twice. Had to take you seriously.” The anchorite might not have known it, but it was perhaps the closest thing to an apology the Colonel would ever give.
. . . . . The blankets shuffled a bit; maybe he was laughing, maybe it was just a coughing fit.
. . . . . “Live to the fullest, anchorite. And talk to your sister when we find her. She’s the same person you know at her core – just a bit more weathered than most on the outside.”
. . . . . Despite being on the ground in enemy territory amid psychic echoes that should have kept him staring wide-eyed at the inside of his blanket cocoon in terror, Diyos slept. Looking back at it later, he could say it was from the mental and physical exhaustion. Evading a squad of death knights wasn’t easy, and magically battling them even less so. His drugged sleep hadn’t been restful, and the hours afterward had drained his will out through a gaping invisible hole in his chest. So despite it all, he slept.
. . . . . It was not a good sleep. Nightmares plagued him - etheric echoes of the devastated land, ghosts of his past, fears for the future. Somehow, his mind took the interrogation he’d just endured and recast him as the nasty Man’ari. His face contorted with rage as he bent forward over a ghostly shell of himself and screamed imprecations like “coward” and “murderer,” “liar” and “tainted one.”
. . . . . The worst part of it all was that none of these insults really impacted him anymore. He’d heard them – in one form or another, awake or asleep – for centuries. Just an old nightmare with a new setting. Ho-hum.
. . . . . Part of him wanted to protest, to insist he wasn’t what he seemed, that he’d told the truth, he had only taken life twice in twenty-thousand years and not recently, and he was still a man of the Light. But was he? The Light had abandoned him in need, and it wasn’t the first time. How long would he deceive himself that he still believed?
. . . . . The interrogator Diyos’s face twisted in disgust and reared back, spitting on his cheek for wavering in his faith. His ghostly form dissolved into shadows...and didn’t return. He started looking around, trying to find out where he had gone, but before he could find himself, there were hands on his shoulders, pulling on him to roll him over, dragging him from sleep.
. . . . . “Ungh... Huh... Wha’?” was his oh-so-coherent response. The blanket wasn’t over his head anymore, but he was still in the tent he’d fallen asleep in. With a distinct ‘what now?’ thought in his mind, he tried to force some semblance of focus.
. . . . . Before him, the elf who’d been pulling on his shoulders sat back, resting on the balls of his feet. The accoutrements of mechanical healing were spread about before him – mixing for plaster, what appeared to be some sort of resin, and bandages. Concern mingled with a sheepish grin on his face. “Hello, Diyos. It’s been some time.”
. . . . . The draenei blinked several times, trying to clear the incarnadine grit of the place from his eyes. He sat up as if the awkwardly bent tail beneath him was also beneath his notice; truthfully, he couldn’t even feel it. “Doc…” he croaked. “They got you here after all.”
. . . . . The doctor, one Ekanos Laurenhall, formerly of the Modan Company and now a freelance medic, gave him a confused look. “Who did? Er, never mind that. You’re pretty banged up. I need you to take it easy on your right hoof for a while, and I need to look at your tail too.” He paused. “You…haven’t gotten a lot of kindness lately, have you?”
. . . . . Diyos glanced down and slightly behind him, finally noticing his tail. “Oh. Damn. Yeah, that’s probably going to need…something…” He didn’t move. “It’s been a really terrible few weeks – if you want the short version.”
. . . . . “You’ll have to tell me all about it. Let’s see what we can do about getting you on the road to recovery, hm?”
. . . . . The anchorite smiled inwardly a little, recognizing that Ekanos was going into bedside-manner-mode. It was kind of nice to have someone give a damn. “Uh. Right. Yeah, if you wouldn’t mind. They were just going to have Ky help me…later…but I guess someone heard my insistence that I wanted the expert and not the trainee after all.” He chuckled quietly to lessen the slight bitterness of his words, but it was hard to hide.
. . . . . Ekanos frowned. “She’s good…but, well…I haven’t seen her in a day or two. Turn over. I apologize, I need to get a good look at your butt.”
. . . . . The draenei snorted and balled up the rotted sack cloth around him, clearing space to turn over. “Always knew you elves were a little fruity. I kid, I kid. Ky was here last night, along with much of the rest of the Company.”
. . . . . The night elf nodded, gingerly taking Diyos’s tail and examining it. “Ouch,” he muttered, “you took quite a fall on it, it looks like. I heard some things about it, but very little hard information. Only that I had to come out here and check on you.”
. . . . . “Was it the Company that went looking for you in the end? Or…the other guy?”
. . . . . Ekanos gently began straightening Diyos’s tail, ignoring the question for the moment. “Tell me if this hurts.” Even as the part most clearly broken and gashed on the side from the injury was straightened, the anchorite remained quiet. He wasn’t looking back, wasn’t watching what was going on. “Diyos… Did you feel anything?”
. . . . . Diyos shook his head, dust and bits of decaying plant matter falling from his curls. “I take it I’m supposed to be.” He craned his neck around and looked over his shoulder, then went silent for a long moment. “Well. Hell.”
. . . . . Much as he had with Diyos’s fractured right hock – Diyos only noticed now that a plaster seemed to have appeared there – he began binding the tail’s bones, using a more giving splint instead of plaster. “I haven’t spoken to anyone from the Modan Company other than you and Kylea. I didn’t even know they were looking for me. Can you feel your hands?”
. . . . . “Damn good thing I can’t feel you doing that, I imagine. Ah, fingers… Fingers…” When he looked down to his ungloved hands, his stomach lurched as he recognized the slightly blackened cast to his indigo skin. The command from brain to fingers to wiggle them worked, though. Then he lifted up his left hand and bit his index finger. “I can control them, but I don’t feel them. Ever had your arm fall asleep ‘cause you were resting on it funny?”
. . . . . Ekanos nodded as he finished the splint. “You’re going to be wearing cloaks for a while and lying on your stomach. We’ll discuss the next treatment in a moment.” He paused. “I know it’s silly, but… How are you feeling, Diyos? I mean… Your brain. Your heart.”
. . . . . Turning away from morbidly watching the straightening of his tail, Diyos stared in silence at the rotted cloth balled up in front of him. What the hell did he say to that?
. . . . . “I can’t imagine you’re really happy with anybody right now.”
. . . . . He remained silent a little while longer before finally responding. “My list is about two right now, it seems.” His list of people he was happy with, he meant, and worse still, one of them had put him in this situation. Things were bad when you were grateful to the guy who’d iced you because he was nice enough to send a doctor quickly.
. . . . . Ekanos sighed. “I can…relate. It reminds me of the meeting before the last one I went to.”
. . . . . “I think I was sauced for that one.” Diyos paused, considering the idea. “I usually was.”
. . . . . “I don’t think you were actually there. This was the time when that girl had the awful sickness, and Kylea and I weren’t…doing well.”
. . . . . Diyos shook his head. “No memory of that, though that doesn’t mean much from me.”
. . . . . The elf frowned, continuing his earlier thought. “Seems sort of like right now, all things considered, though I can’t fault her if everyone was here trying to rescue you, right?”
. . . . . Diyos’s voice was flat as he responded, looking away. “Yeah. Yeah, that’s what they were here for.”
. . . . . Ekanos sighed again and closed his eyes. “I’m going to guess that what was supposed to happen didn’t. They got…distracted.”
. . . . . “Something like that.”
. . . . . “Yes. I can relate. I was supposed to meet Kylea last night at the Outpost, to discuss my rehiring with the Company. Now I’m being sought out, and I was there a good…three hours with the place desolate. Now I know why, I suppose. I just wish…” He trailed off, then continued after several moments of uncomfortable silence. “Well, that I was here, so I could’ve handled this earlier.” The elf stood up, his robes settling around him. “Let’s see if we can get you to a nicer place, hm?”
. . . . . “Jim’s somewhere around. Probably a tree.” He pushed himself upright as if he didn’t feel anything in his legs at all – which he didn’t – and stumbled out of the tent. The blankets and sacks were left heaped in the corner of the tent behind him. “Right. Look to the trees. Might help if you have any acorns or walnuts.”
. . . . . The elf whistled for his mistsaber as the draenei ranged ahead around the bend in the path, looking up to the trees for his mentally-damaged elekk. “Dammit, Jim,” he cursed as he stumbled along. He couldn’t feel any pain in his legs, but they also weren’t fully cooperating with his brain’s orders. A loud crack from the air about fifteen feet up, two leafy crashes, and Jim landed on his armored side atop a large decaying branch. Diyos shook his head as the elekk who thought he was a squirrel clambered back to his feet and waved his trunk at his master.
. . . . . “Ride with me to the Loch and I’ll explain, doc…”
. . . . . Somewhere behind the curve in the path, a young draenei death knight with two piercings in her nose crested the hill at Death’s Breach to check on her co-worker. She caught a glimpse of long white hair, pointed ears, robes, and a mistsaber. But no co-worker.
. . . . . There was nothing but a deep mark in the ground where something heavy had landed.