Same cliff, different campfire

Looking down to the campfire on top of a cliff, Shalkis' eyes flared up when she saw the halfblood. After all he's done.. All that he is.. And even the Berserker somehow sedated.. I ought to kill them all right here, right now!

"Failing sso eassily in de purging? Dissappointing. The purging of Vengeance with the dwarvessss went so well. And you are sstill getting caught in your own web. Are you a fly or a sssspider?"

Shalkis crawled away from the ledge and turned to face Slayrith, whose mandibles were just inches away from her face. He has a habit of barging into her thoughts at the most inconvinient moments.

"A spider! I can leave my past behind."

"All of it?"

Slayrith gently nudged the Mageroyal flower in Shalkis' hair, peeking from her cowl.


"Female sspiderss have no troubless with thingss like thesse."


"It isss not sso bad. You would make him happy for the resst of hisss life. That iss more than mosst mortalss can ever hope for. It would be an act kindnesss, not of cruelty."

"I know what they do. Would the Spider Queen be as kind after she heard what happened to Hir'eek's Aspect and who is to blame for it?"


"I think she.."

"Have it your way then, ssneaky troll!"

Slayrith skittered a few feet away from Shalkis. She was smiling behind her mask. This was the first time when Slayrith could not find the words.

"I'll let the halfbreed live. He is irrelevant. So, what now?"


"Is the little spider all tangled up in his own web?"


"Fine. I'll do the purging of Fear myself."

Shalkis stood up and patted the dirt off her robes. From her backpack, she removed a small whistle with elaborate engravements. She blew the whistle. It would not matter now whether they heard her or not.

"You do know all about corruption, don't you?"

Shalkis slowly faded back into view behind Rhashan. A small device on her belt hummed for a second, and then turned silent. She was clad in blue and gold from head to toe. The twin snakes were nowhere to be seen in her attire. Her hair was covered by a hood, and her face was covered by a mask, leaving only her eyes visible. Her eyes were calm, serene, unfocused. She did not look into anyone in general. Her voice also seemed different, as if there was no emotion in her.

"Was it not you who was captured by the elves?"

"Was it not you who attacked a fellow troll?"

"Was it not you who was cast out by the Emperor?"

"Was it not you who returned with Meezil Kree?"

Shalkis started to slowly circle around the trolls gathered around the campfire.

"The rumours are true. There was someone trying to corrupt the Empire. The Emperor knew this. But someone was whispering into his ear, filling him with doubts, fears, paranoia."

"This is not the first time this has happened. Or the second. Or the third. There was once a being that fought evil wherever it was. Faced by the enormity of his task, his mind was filled with doubts. And when victory was already near, he could not take it any longer. He released his enemies and joined them."

"There was also a mortal that had sworn to fight the evil that was tormenting his people. But the evil was strong, and the futility of his task was too much for him. He too, joined the darkness at his hour of victory."

"Outraged by this mortal's defection, his comrades swore to fight the evil with all they got. Furious were their blows, and relentless were they in their pursuit of evil. In their vigilance, they attacked even the smallest hints of evil."

"But their paranoia was justified. Evil was already within them. To this day, they think to fight the evil when nobody else seems to care. When everybody else seems to be corrupt, ignorant, or both. But they do not see who is whispering to their ears. The evil they were sworn to fight."

"So let's end the history lesson and return to present day. The champion of our people has left at the hour of victory, when Hakkar himself was almost at striking distance. Disgusted by the corruption he sees, he has formed a new force to fight the Qiraji. But who is whispering to his ear now?"

Shalkis stopped, once again behind Rhashan.

"Perhaps it is the trolls' time to gaze into the Abyss. Perhaps the history needs to repeat itself once more. Perhaps the next crushing defeat at the eve of victory will be the last one required."

With those words, Shalkis turned around, and started walking towards Windclaw, who was waiting on the cliff.

No comments: