Thursday, June 21, 2012

Site Write Entry: Finale

Prompt: If a picture is crooked, you might adjust it on the wall. If your clothes don't fit, you might adjust a button or a hem. But sometimes we have to make major adjustments in our lives. Have you ever faced a difficult situation that required making adjustments? What adjustments did you make and what was the outcome? Describe to us the good and the bad as needed from the(se) adjustment(s).
Rectifiable Flaws and the Stubborn Dead

. . . . . A cold wind danced up the raw skin on her back. She would have rolled over to protect the wounds, but that would put her left shoulder – which of all the damage was in far worse shape – on the ground. She would have edged just under the shelter of the tent – or as far as her tether would allow – but the surly females inside would spit and kick until she left. Once, she had been the sort of hardy which could endure nights outside with no shelter, but she was withering now. With a soft hiss as she pulled the shreds of her wool tunic against her back by motion, she pillowed the fusing scaleplates of her forehead on her thickened forearms and tried to sleep.
. . . . . It was the kind of cold which, back in the swamps of Zangarmarsh, would have forewarned crunchy footing and a rime on the shorelines, but these fields and forests seemed too dry for such easy frosting. It would have to be colder for hoarfrost to settle here, somewhere south and west of a field full of stones planted in the ground. As Valdiis sought sleep, she idly wondered what the humans – for that was the word her captors used for the short pink two-legged creatures – were trying to grow there. Contemplating a life of growing and tending flat, round-topped stone crops was just boring enough to allow her to drift off.
. . . . . Although it was dark, the black sky sullenly lit by a waning crescent of a moon, she could see a little when the thudding ground awoke her. It seems this place was damp enough for rime, because everything bore a fine coating of icy white, including her own body. Shivering, she pushed herself up, standing as far from the tent pole as her tether would give and trying to straighten her stooping spine as she cast about for the source of the repetitive thumps. It sounded like marching.
. . . . . A flash of icy blue erupted on the north-east edge of the camp. Warriors who ate, slept, and bathed (rarely) in their armor tumbled out of tents, already armed, charging towards the now very audible noise of marching feet. Her hands itched for a blade, a mace, even a sturdy stick, but they'd learned early on to keep her away from anything she could weaponize, and with her hands bound in front of her, the best she could manage was to make a club out of her fists. There were screams – some of pain, some of abject terror – and moans – of dying and of... She couldn't place the other tone. It was moaning, yes, but it held a different desperation than that of a dying warrior, a desperation like hunger pain. Weapons were definitely clanging, and the fighting was tearing through the camp.
. . . . . She turned and wrapped a leg around the tent pole. Her hooves were tied too close to allow kicks, but perhaps if she threw her full weight on the wood embedded in the ground... No luck – all she managed was to throw herself onto her knees, hard. “A fine way to die,” she muttered to herself, “tied to a Nether-blasted tent pole.” She hoped this battle was the humans come to kill the orcs for raiding their food shipments, but she couldn't quite fool herself that the humans wouldn't just kill her for being in the camp too.
. . . . . That hope didn't last any longer than it took for the invading force to reach the far side of the camp. The marching hardly seemed to lose a beat as it moved over the ground. For the first time, Valdiis found herself going blank in battle. Marching inexorably towards her was a fleshless pile of bones, more or less in the shape of a human, holding a sword menacingly in hands which should not function in such a fashion.
. . . . . If she was to die tonight, it would not be on her knees! Rage lit a fire in her head and she wobbled upright, facing the skeletal creation. Icy blue fire flashed along its joints and she reasoned that must be how it was held together. In for a facet, might as well be in for the whole crystal, she thought, roaring a battle cry as she lunged towards the creation as it lifted its blade. Some bone which would have equated to a forearm for her – and so was probably similar on this thing – met her teeth and she bit down as hard as she could. Bone splintered, shards jabbing upward into the roof of her mouth and nailing her tongue to her jaw. Valdiis's scream of agony was cut short as the blade slid across her throat.


. . . . . The Words themselves were foreign, but it was not the sound made by the Words which was necessary. It was the will dominating her soul which gave the directions. The Words were just meaningless nonsense added in. With such Words pressing down on her soul all the time and similar words spoken by those around her, it was not terribly long before she knew the languages spoken around her. Eventually, she knew the language of the Words which was spoken by the humans well enough to suit what she was used for.
. . . . . When it was required that she speak – which was not often – the voice she used was not produced by physical means of breath through lungs and throat, shaped by mouth and tongue. It was with a precise, flawless voice deeper than her own with a brooding echo; the voice was powered by necromancy, but born of rage.
. . . . . As the Words became fewer and fewer, farther away, she found that she desired to use her own voice. But it did not function. She had no voice at all.


. . . . . “Ugh, must you persist with that stupid accent?” The sergeant rolled her eyes and stormed away, her tail hanging limply behind her. Valdiis took a small amount of satisfaction in knowing that the insipid little twit she had to salute probably lost her balance regularly.
. . . . . “Oh look, another slow learner,” drawled the arcanist in her brilliantly red robes as she leaned on the edge of a barstool and eyed Valdiis up and down. “We've only been here five years already, darling. Do pick up the pace.” She nudged her companion with an elbow and laughed.
. . . . . “Don't your people, er... Well, aren't you supposed to be ridiculously intelligent?” It was only a second before the private realized his gaffe and shrank back from the narrow-slitted glare Valdiis was giving him as she stalked forward and loomed over the short little human man.


. . . . . Commander Valdiis of the Knights of Menethil sat on the edge of a fence on the farthest corner of the tournament grounds, watching the jousting matches from afar as she let the roars of the crowd cover for her. “Zuh,” she breathed, growling when it came out wrong. “Tuh. Heh. ... Zeh. Dammit!” Every time she pushed the tip of her tongue against the back of her teeth to make the Common's “th” sound, her palate gave way and squished, giving the syllable a z-like buzz. Other syllables were equally difficult for her heavily-damaged mouth to form, regularly emerging as -ink where there should be -ing and so on. In Draenei, such syllables either did not exist – such as the w sound – or were so rare that she knew quite enough substitute words to avoid mangling her own language, but Common used these Nether-blasted sounds all the time. “Tee. Aitch. Sszuh.” Her fist slammed down on the fence railing. She tried again.
. . . . . Of course, she could just rely on her necromancy, on the voice generated by the stores of power in her undead shell. Some perverse whimsy found that to be unacceptable. It was probably the same whimsy which had made her a terrible candidate for anything but the most physical of endeavors while living. To rely on magic to perform an action one was perfectly capable of performing with one's own self was cheating. No, she had a voice of her own – and a will of her own – and naaru be damned if she wasn't going to use it, flaws and all.

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