The End of the Beginning

The winds and the three-phase hum of the mongrels' spell pulls me back to the dreary reality of my predicament.
"Oh, ya are awake."
"You will never catch me unaware, mongrel."
"Now why would I wanna do dat, hm?"
The sound of metal clattering on rock attracts my interest and I turn my head. The troll has brought me my armor and weapons.
"Returning stolen property after the fact will not save your neck at the tribunal at Silvermoon, troll."
"But it might save yer own. Ya could have gotten it all back if ya just asked, but ya chose to.."
"I chose nothing! And no elf will ever accept.. scraps from a troll's table, assuming you ever know what such a thing is."
"Now dat is just rude. If ya do not accept a gift of life and freedom, perhaps ya will take it by force? Go on, dress up. Ya'll need yer.. scraps soon."

I grab my chestpiece and start strapping it on. I keep my blade and my bow at arm's length while I fit in the rest of my armor. There's no telling when the beast is finally unable to contain itself.


"Murderous mongrel. I wondered when the rampaging beast that you are would be unleashed."
"Ya'll see rampage all right. But murder requires intent and premeditation. Odderwise it's just plain old-fashioned killin'. I have no intention of killin' ya, derefore I'm not a murderer. Not.. yer murderer, anyway."
A lack of killing spirit, a fatal weakness. The limp arm is an another, and exposes her flank to my attacks. Cutting through her shoulderpads should not be a problem, but her sorcery might slow my blade enough. I'll have to sink my blade to her armpit, past that useless arm. Still, getting into position can prove to be difficult and I have to exploit any openings immediately.. If only I had Airin to distract her..
"Even Airin's blood was purer than yours. You deserve death for just what you did to her."
"Perhaps ya should have not sent it to it's death so easily. Dat's not someting a responsible master would do."
I make a rising sweep towards her limp arm. If I can just cut it off..
The troll takes a half-step backwards and chuckles: "Oo, frisky, aren't we?"
"Shut up and die."
I follow up with a downward lunge, driving my blade towards her other shoulder. Forcing her to plummet to the death she planned for me might not help me get down, but will be immensely satisfying.
The troll takes a sidestep and my blade hits nothing but air. I feel magic around her and instictively turn around, ready to block her poisonous, pitch-black blade. She may not possess strength, but one hit from that accursed blade would put me at even worse disadvantage. Her blow is harmlessly blocked, but I doubt she'd have the strength to split my skull anyway. She doesn't even try to press through my defence, but feints a thrust and retracts her blade only to lunge again. My armor deflects her blow and I press my sword down towards her outstretched arm. She lifts her blade up and only barely misses my head. Our weapons clang together. I force my blade down to her hilt and push her away. I feel her magic and make a broad sweep with my now-released blade with a single arm to my back and feel a satisfying clang. And a rather unsatisfactory sting in my wrist. Damn. The cut wasn't deep, but I can already feel the blade's powers working against me. I turn around and grip the blade with both hands. There's no more time for finesse. I push my blade and complete the sweep, but she ducks and deflects my strike upwards. She lunges forwards and nicks my cheek with the tip of her pitch-black, seething blade. For a moment, I thought I saw.. it's just her damn tricks. I continue the swing and make it a full circle. The force of my blow sends her reeling backwards.

"You are weak, troll."
"Two points for me, zero for ya."
"This isn't a game!".
"Says ya. Now stop tryin' to hit me and hit me."

The curse is taking effect. Her blue robes seem to be drenched in shadows, and her eyes burn. Her blade seems less like a weapon, and more like an extension of her arm. The limp arm flays in the wind like tattered cloth. I don't have much time before the fear takes hold of me. I lunge forward, but hit only shadows. The back of my neck explodes with pain, and I feel like touched by death itself. I make a wide sweep and hear that satisfying clang which echoes in my mind. I resume my two-handed grip and lash out at the shadows. The pain finds an opening in my elbow joint and slithers in. Another snakes around my waist, and the third almost forces me to drop my blade. How did it get so fast? Or did I get slower? Where are those eyes? I must strike at the eyes.. I hear a strong breathing sound all around me, like a dragon preparing to..

The sound seems to come from everywhere and nowhere. And not just one. Legion. The shadows flow back into a vaguely humanoid form. Her handclaw scrapes the rocks, and the seven imps are laughing at me, while the sixty-seven mouths just grin.
"it SeeMS datdatdatdat ya lost"
"Lost! Lost! Lost!"
"yer ChanCE to reCLAIm yer fre-fre-freeDOM by force."
"Force! Force! Force!"
"but FEAR not."
"Fear! Fear! Fear!"
"To-to-to-to-day IS dE day OF fORGiveness. aLL can be UNdone."
"Undone! Undone! Undone!"
My vision clears for a moment, and I see the blue, gold-trimmed sleeve being rolled back, revealing a blue four-fingered hand and a skeletal elbow. I hear the sky being drained. Shadows snake from the rest of the arm along the brilliant white bone, grabbing the flesh on the other side. More, and more. And more. I did not cause that wound, and in the matter of seconds it's no longer there. The arm flexes and is consumed by the shadows. How could I even hope to defeat such a thing?

"Seeeeeeeee. Aaaallllll bettttttteerrrr."

Despair grabs me by her hooks and I slump to my knees.
"Please. I'll.. I'll do anything."
The three-hundred and five mouths erupt into laughter.
"Anything! Anything! Anything!", the imps mock me.
"So nooooooooooooow ya gro-gro-gro-gro-growel."
The laughter is blue.
"Very well. I shall make ya a hero. A champion for yer people. But first, ya must reclaim de memory of de past and de rage of de present. At de ruins of Mathystra resides a lost soul who seeks a worthy cause. And near de Vector Coil ya'll find rage incarnate, courtesy of yer esteemed prince. Make sure to document everying ya see in de isles for yer fellow Farstriders. Now go."
"Right past dat platform."
And it is gone, along with the three imps and the three thousand mouths. When did it leave? I feel dotted pink. I pick up my bow, and it coils around my back. I look into the abyss, and take a step. The wind screams around me as I fall and..
I find myself in a cave, looking at an opening. A tauren seems to be sleeping near the campfire. I walk quietly to the night.

No comments: