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 Post subject: Feren's Journey
PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 11:19 am 
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Location: Hell, SW Branch Office (Southern California)
Not more than a few weeks had gone by since Feren had felt the pain and the burden of being the last male of the Longstrider clan placed upon him. Somewhere, his sister still roamed the plains of Azeroth, but it had been ages since he last saw her. All that there was before that was his father, and now he too had passed beyond the veil. Feren hadn't spoken of the passing to anyone. Not his friends, not those he called family within Ishnu Por Ah, no one. He kept it to himself, quiet, and too stubborn to let tears be seen on the face of a warrior.

It's not as though the relationship Feren shared with his father had been spectacular. He respected his Elder, valuing his way with the Spirits of the world, but they scarcely spoke. When they did, it often ended in shouting matches and bruised egos. His father said that he respected Feren's choice to follow the Warrior's path, but it was obvious this was far from the truth. Always questioning how he could manage not to see the Spirits, or hear them. Glad at least that still spoke with the Earth Mother, though that had often been out of tradition, rather than need.

His father's passing had stirred him to speak to Her more, but that was just it, it was TO her, not with her. Feren never felt or heard Her answer back. He had felt even less connected to her and Nature ever since, as though his father was the last link he had to the Spirit of the world. His sleep had been failing as well. Fitful, dark, unsettling darkness seemed to set in. Often the solitude of it was so overwhelming that he awoke his his own screams, or worse yet to a feeling that he had stopped breathing. There was hardly a time when he awoke not covered in sweat, stomach twisted, and nearly sick.

More and more he tried to keep himself awake. Feren would hunt until he was ready to collapse on the spot, often doing just that. He even tried that foul Coffee, in hopes it would keep him awake just a little longer, out of the dark. The poor panda in his care could scarcely keep up, sleeping any time he stood still for more than a moment. His best company, had in fact been Tic, the small, mechanical squirrel, that had been given as a gift. More and more, Feren would find the small machine to be a comfort to him, it's strange mimicry of Nature fascinating him.

So much so did this fascination with the mechanical occupy his mind, that Feren sought out more such devices. He tried to work out how they were made, what made then work. The ease that working his mind so provided was more than he had found in some time working the trades of his people; skinning and leather working. They had become a chore to him, almost. He scarcely thanked the Earth Mother for her gifts in the hunt, and he rarely felt the need to find time to craft anything with the leather, opting often to simply sell it to those who needed it. He was starting to wonder how his heart had grown so cold toward the Earth Mother, her gifts, and the animals of the land.

He awoke one night to find himself in a cave somewhere in Mulgore, the scent of the land outside drifting in smelled most certainly like home. How Feren had gotten there was another matter, last he remembered he was nodding off at the Inn in Ogrimmar. Perched on his chest, almost as though keeping watch, Tic sat, clutching a small bolt in his tiny, metal paws. His eyes adjusted slowly to the gloom of the cave, finally seeing bright flecks of copper and tin in the walls around him. A cool, calm feeling filled him; it was quiet here, both around him and in his mind. The wind sighed past the opening of the cave, almost sounding as though a voice spoke; 'I am here as well my child'. The last time Feren could recall hearing the Earth Mother so clearly, so directly, was as a calf, in Bloodhoof, with his family, his father talking about the ways of the Spirits and the world.

That very day Feren turned down the road of the Engineer and of the Miner. Digging in the earth, in the soil and rock, he felt close again to the Earth Mother. Deep within mountains, caves, and grottos, often alone he again felt peace; he felt close to Her again. Engineering was equally helpful to him. It allowed him to keep his mind busy, his thoughts away from the troubles of the world, of his life lately, of his father's passing. It kept his mind busy; learning schematics, studying the tiny machines, building what few things he had learned to. He was finally able to again tire himself so fully that he slept soundly as he ever had, his mind too tired to conjure up dreams or nightmares.

The peace was short lived for Feren, as peace seems to be for everyone in these tense times of near war. Slowly, the pace grew familiar to him, he grew used to times he kept, the tasks he undertook, and again, his mind started to wander while he slept. Dreams became fitful, strange things; some terrifying, some dazzling, but rarely making sense. It seemed again that no matter how much he slept, he never felt rested, or at rest. Often, when deep within caves, or inside of the mountains and hills of Kalimdor, he would find sleep, literally passing out where he stood. He would wake, almost panicked, whispered voices fading into his memories. Never could he hear them clearly, or recall what they said, but he could always feel something there.

Little by little, Feren's sleep lessened, and it was taking its toll on him. He would frequently nod off right where he was, often in the middle of conversations, or while running form place to place. More often than not, he awoke to find some wild creature of the land trying to take advantage of his dormant state. The plains of the Barrens are not the best place to nap indeed. Between getting little sleep, and what little he was getting being so poor, Feren was wearing himself thin, fraying at the edges. It was evident, he was sure, to those who knew him most, and he began to question whether he should indeed be the leader of Ishnu Por Ah any longer.

As he was heading toward the Great Lift, on a task within Thousand Needles, his body failed him again. He had left from Crossroads, and was not yet to Razorfen Downs, when the episode happened. The last thing he saw before his vision faded was a road marker. He felt the sharp crack of his head on the ground, the heat of his blood trickling from the cut, and then nothing. There was no light here, so oppressive was the darkness that it felt as though he would suffocate. Panic filled him, swelled through every ounce of his being; he tried to struggle, but in the dream state, no amount of physical strength would aid him.

Quietly, gently, his father's voice filled his mind; calming, concerned for his son. Worried about the troubles he was fighting with; fighting alone, instead of turning to his friends, his family. He spoke to Feren of his passing, of being closer to the Earth Mother, the spirits of the land. He spoke of being among them, and being happy, calm, and at peace. He spoke to Feren about the path he was on, his restlessness, his exhaustion, how he was literally killing himself a little at a time. His father pleaded with him, one last time, to open his mind to the world. To open his eyes, for the first time really, and to see all that the Earth Mother was trying to show him. To open his heart, letting it beat freely, rather than trying to stifle the feelings there for fear of being seen as weak. To stop being so stubborn, so brash; to relax, to really relax, and see all that was around him.

As his father's voice left his mind, after what seemed like ages, one final thought came to Feren from him:

"My son, the road you are the last of my line. A line that has spoken with the Spirits of the world for ages past. Your strides on the road of the Warrior, though noble, does not seem to be what your heart wants. I know you fought, you fight, to show your independence, your strength, but know that there is no weakness in following my path. It is part of who you, who we, are. You have always felt them, the Spirits of the land, often you have heard them, and Her. She is calling on you again, loudly, do you not think there is a reason for it?"

"Ultimately, my son, the path you take is yours to choose, but ask yourself, are you fulfilled now? Are you at peace? Are you happy? Or are you found lacking, sorrowful, and hurt? Despite all I've shown you, all I've told you, you have tried to turn away from the Earth Mother, consciously or not. I have one last thing to show you, and I pray to Her, that this will be enough."

He awoke to smells familiar, yet strange, blinking quickly to clear the haze from his eyes. He half expected to be staring at a charging Thunder Lizard, or worse yet, the serene face of the Spirit Healer. Instead he found himself surrounded by stone, mortar, and firelight. In the distance he could hear Ogrimmar, the sounds of the city echoing down the stone corridor to the throne room, and across from him, Thrall. There sat the leader of the Horde, the Warchief who led the Orcs to freedom from enslavement, both demonic and human, and he was chuckling.

"Young Tauren, I cannot begin to guess the ways of your Earth Mother any better than you, but know that She has more in store for you than throwing yourself into battle headlong."

They spoke at length, Thrall retelling much of his life's story to Feren. A story that Feren had been told before, but one he had not really ever listened to, not how he should have anyhow. A tale of a lost child, of a slave, of a Warrior. The tale of a Warrior, freed from his bonds by cunning, not strength. A tale of finding one's people, and one's purpose. It was the story of a Warrior, who not only found his people, but also the Spirits of the land. It was the tale of a Shaman, who once was a warrior... Finally, so much of the past several weeks began to fall in place for Feren.

He had been brash, stubborn, flat out unwilling to simple see what had always been there. To listen to the voices that he heard, to pay attention to what was around him. With a new resolve, Feren thanked Thrall, for taking the time to speak with him, to share his life and his knowledge. He thanked the Earth Mother too, for Her persistence, Her willingness to show him the way he should follow. He thanked his father also, wherever his Spirit may be, for trying one last time to open his eyes, so tightly closed for so very long.

He returned to Bloodhoof, where we grew up, like so many Tauren, and further still to Camp Narache. Feren sought out those who could show him more clearly the path he was now to take. The path of those who could see the Spirits of the land, and understand them. The path of those who would find comfort wherever the Earth Mother's presence could be seen or felt; be it the vast plains of Mulgore, or the tiniest creature, struggling to survive within the city walls of Ogrimmar. To be a Shaman, Feren would forget all he had learned; he would unlearn the life of a Warrior, his life until then. He would reforge himself as She saw fit to guide him.


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 Post subject: The Cure...
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 1:09 am 
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Sickness. Disease. Consumption. The plague...

It was a curse the land had seen for far too long. First resulting in the Scourge. Now, its force split in two, creating both Scourge and Forsaken. What really set them apart? Free will? Not likely. So very many of the Forsaken were merely puppets to another master.

He had trusted them, allied with them, called members of the Forsaken friend and family. Two of his closest allies numbered among their rank. Between the actions of the Fel Hand, summoning a demon to this plane, for aid they said. Then, the one who turned on Darba as she offered aid. Tearing into her flesh, consuming it, and leaving behind its pestilence to infect and devour her from within.

The effort to cure her of the sickness had been intense, draining him of all he had for days. The wasting, draining, destroying malady that was forced into her but that... thing. It fought healing salves and tonics. It struggled, as though an entity unto itself, against blessings of healing, cures for toxins. With the aid of the land, it was cleansed from her system. After it all, he had prayed his thanks to the Earth Mother, cried his tears of relief in private, glad to be done with it all. He had been glad that he would not lose someone so soon after all.

He had been wrong. While her body had been freed of the taint, her mind had been infected as well. Something about the pestilence had festered there, in her mind, within her soul. It made sense, of course, as the original curse of the Scourge had been to control the dead, but had thought that plague long stopped in the land, the current one more... inert. Seeing Darba in her current state tore him apart. He had been certain she was safe, to see how wrong he was caused a pain more real than any cut from a blade. Her mind tore at itself, trying to exorcise the vile sickness from itself. Just like the body tries to rid itself of foreign bodies; encapsulating them in inert flesh, and pushing them out, so too did her mind seem to be trying to heal itself. This seemed to be more harm then help, and Feren wondered how much longer she could hold out.

Three days had gone by since her left her, asking her to hold on for just a short while longer, while he tried to come up with a way to cure her; to make her mind whole again, to relieve her soul of the burning wound now upon it. Three days he had spent in solitude, deep inside a cave within the ranges around Mulgore. Three days had passed, and nothing yet had come to him. He could heal the body, his own and those of others. Cuts, bruises, broken bones, sickness, all a relatively simple matter. Asking the Earth Mother for the strength, the power, and She would take the disease, heal the body.

This, was something completely different, something altogether new to him. It was no physical thing, not a thing of substance, but somehow more. How could someone heal the mind of another? Heal their soul? Could one simply excise the blemished portion, perhaps? Would the rest of the soul be left lacking, knowing of the change?

He roared, rising to his feet as he looked about the cave, the fire and torches out; his eyes had wholly adjusted to the darkness of it. In the pit where the fire had blazed the night before lay ash and coals now. Heat still rose from them, a faint glow of the life still emanated from within the spent wood.

Sighing, half with frustration, half in sadness, he reached into the pit. His bare hand closed around a large coal. The heat of it first stung, then seared the flesh of his hand, fur burning away acridly, skin sizzling beneath, the stench of it all rising to the roof of the cave.

'This wound, severe as I may allow it to get, will heal if I ask.' He closed his hand around the coal, squeezing it tightly, the heat burned into his flesh more, blood welling from the wound now, the coppery smell of it mixing with the smell of burnt skin and muscle. 'Were I to allow this to burn through to bone, You would still heal me. Yet this... sickness remains in her. Why?' He opened his hand, flesh peeling from it, stuck, charred, to the coal. His eyes studied the ruined palm, lit by the glow of the same coal that tore away the skin. The pain barely registered in Feren, as though his mind and body were split from one another.

In anger, he called on Fire, whispering its secret names, mumbling the chants to bring it about. He channeled his anger into the coal, slowly its glow intensified, fighting the slow pulse of blood that cooled it. A dull orange, then brighter, quickly going white with the heat now within in. The pain broke past the shock, setting every nerve in his body off at once, his vision failing for a second as the sensation hit. The coal now seared through his flesh more deeply, reaching finally the bones of his hand. The flesh around it caught flame, the stench of it suffocating in the small cave. A roar escaped him, coiling out though the cave, over the planes of Mulgore, and to the very peaks of Thunder Bluffs.

Still he called forth fire, willing it to consume his hand fully. Flames leapt up, charring bone, flesh melting from his hand still, like some sick roast over a pit. However it would not overtake his hand fully. Faintly, he could tell were the flesh fought to heal and the fire to consume it. 'See? See how you struggle against the destruction of the flesh? I have not even to ask it of you, and it is given to me. Why then, can you not show me how to heal her?'

He felt Fire with him. Never like before; it was not before him, or beside him, answering to his wishes. This time Fire was within him. It coursed in his veins, through the fiber of his being. His body rising in temperature such that the air around him seemed to vibrate with it. As the heat built, so too did his anger. The pain in his hand intensified too, the bones cracking from the heat, only to knit themselves again, back and forth the flesh and the flame struggled.

Closing his fist again about the white hot coal, Feren now called on Earth, singing its name through the pain in his hand, through his whole body. Beneath him, the floor seemed to move, a cool stillness rising around him, dousing the heat of Fire within him as his form seemed to steel itself. The bones in his hand hardened, even though the flesh did not gain a footing past the flame. Within him Fire and Earth mixed; Fire searing through his body, making his anger something very real, Earth strengthening him, anchoring him to the ground itself.

'Show me what I need to see to understand you, to understand why this thing remains still in her mind. Show me how I may quell the fire in her soul where the infection lies. Show me! SHOW ME!'

In a flash his mind seemed to shut itself down, darkness and calm seemed to fill him suddenly. He could no longer feel the heat of the coal, or the rage within him. No longer could he feet the stone beneath his hooves. Instead, lush fields, emerald and blanketed with knee high grasses expanded before him.

In the distance, spirit beasts flew, roamed, and ran. Ghost kodo trod the earth, massive beyond anything in the physical plane. Each step they took rippled the very land with the force of it, expanding in concentric circles. Above, the skill swirled, neither day, nor night; filled with the sounds of so many spirits, so thick with them so as to be touched.

Feren's spirit form stood, tense, but calm, chest heaving as though having undergone great effort. Before him sat an being he had never before seen. As though made of both Fire and Earth, it spoke, with twin voices of both the elements, booming loud. The sound of it seemed to tear at the very fabric of Feren's being.

'Your cries are loud this night, young Shaman. What you ask of me is no simple feat, you know. Are you prepared to pay the price for the knowledge you seek?'

'You cured her body.' his reply seemed weak against the voice of the Earth Mother herself, even in this lesser form she was a force to be feared. 'You took the sickness from her. For that I thank you... But... It was not enough, she still is not whole. Her mind reels still from it, her very soul seems scarred, torn by the pestilence that was in her.'

The dual voice of Earth and Fire boomed again, rumbling over the spirit valley, making the very fabric of this reality tremble. 'And what makes you think that you are worthy of this knowledge, little Shaman? Surely you must know that others out there are stronger and wiser beyond your years. Why not seek them out, ask for their help. Why do you, instead, come to me?'

'I ask for myself, selfishly I wish to save one who I care for. I did not feel it was right to burden them with this task. I--'

'Yet you feel it right to burden ME! Do you presume to hold domain over death now too? That you are the one who should choose who it is that lives and dies?' The voice flared hot, seeming to sear his spirit form.

'YOU granted me the power over death itself, the knowledge to pull the spirits of others from this plane back to the flesh. It was YOU who felt I should have domain over death!' He roared in response this time, fists clenched as his sides. A fire lit now within him, the earth shaking beneath him. 'If you did not see me fit for such a thing, why was I granted THAT knowledge? And now, when I come to you, supplicant to your will, to ask for the knowledge to save one who protects your lands, your creatures, you see fit to mock me!?'

'And you are sure now that you wish this knowledge? Do you not wish to know the price you will pay to have it?' The manifestation before him moved closer, the heat from it beyond anything Feren could fathom.

'Yes.'

'Go then, Shaman. You will know the way to cleanse her mind and soul of this taint, but be warned. In taking the taint from her, you will bear the burden of it upon your soul instead. Do you think you are strong enough for such a task?'

He glanced down, sighing deeply, rage inside of him subsiding. 'I... I do not know. I only know that if I cannot rid her of it, that no other may be able to in time, and she will be lost to us... to me. I would rather risk losing myself than lose another without trying all that I could to save them.'

'You will have what you wish, then. Should you be able to stand firm enough, I may yet show you how to be rid of the thing yourself. Now go from here, lest you are too long away from your flesh.'

Consciousness slammed him back to reality, eyes focusing slowly on the roof above. His mind burned as his hand had while he held fast to the coal, knowledge of how to her Darba was now his, as well as knowledge of the grim price he would have to pay. He looked to his hand, ruined, the cold, dead coal partially healed over. He pried it free, bit by bit with his knife, and murmured the incantation to bring the flesh anew. He would prepare now, for tomorrow, the burden he would bear would be a great one.


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 Post subject: The Run...
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2005 8:44 pm 
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He had tried, for the better part of several hours in fact, to get to sleep, failing miserably at the entire effort. Tossing and turning, he had garnered complaints and curses from a few of the other patrons of the Inn. Sighing, he rolled over one last time, staring across the room.

Feren stood with a slight groan, all the drinking from earlier in the evening taking its toll on his head. Looking about the Crossroads Inn, yawning, he felt it was time to go for a run, tire himself out, rather than let his mind keep him awake all night long..

Long, loping steps took him across the Barrens, the cool night air against his face helping him think. His breathing was deep, regular, not at all strained. The Longstrider name had been earned, after all, not given.

I cannot believe I did that. I had been trying so hard to just… I don’t know, keep it to myself. With all that has been going on, she did not need this too… Though, she did not seem to mind, not really, which is good, right?

His internal monologue rambled on like this for some time, little attention at all being paid to where he strode. Up into Ashenvale, and out to Zoram Strand he ran, letting the salt air of the sea fill his lungs, he sighed deeply.

“Idiot…”

Feren sat on one of the various rock outcroppings, staring at the moon’s reflection in the water. “It is probably better that I said something though, instead of keeping it to myself. Keeping things bottled up is never good; too many problems that way.” He nodded to himself, sitting quietly for a time. Tic scrambled up his back, ticking and clicking away as he was wont to do, smiling Feren rested there a little longer…

…………

Running back again, South, toward the Barrens and Crossroads, for one more try for sleep. The moon shone bright and high in the sky, lighting his way. He cast his gaze about, watching the creatures of the land go about their nightly duties, eating, hunting, sleeping. For an instant, the light of the moon seemed to fade, causing Feren to slide to a stop, a cloud of dust rising about him. “What the –“

A pain, akin to being stabbed tore into his chest and his head, dropping him to the ground like a sack of grain. He roared, the terrible noise echoing off the hills nearby. Panting heavily he tried to push himself up from the ground, to regain his footing. Another shot of pain, more intense this time, burning as though a fire raged inside of him. His hand now burned, the very one he had given to the Elements, to allow it to be used as a tool. The dry plains’ grass beneath it wilting and singing from the heat.

“What’s happening? Wh.. Aggh!” Another shot of pain ripped through his frame, dropping him again to the ground, coughing, ruby droplets littered the dirt beneath him.

Several minutes passed like that, intense pain, then burning, deep within his body. The heat ebbed and flowed from his hand, as though the power he wielded was trying to break free of his body. Hunched over on the ground, he coughed again, wiping his muzzle only to find a streak of blood in the palm of his hand. Closing his eyes, trying to ignore the pain for just a moment, Feren called on the Earth Mother to heal him, as he had done countless times before. As before, he could feel the cool, calming effect of Her touch, only this time, it was followed again by intense, immeasurable pain. The shock of it causing his vision to go white, then black…

…………

Hours must have passed as he lay there on the ground. The pain had finally shocked his system into unconsciousness. He pushed himself up a bit, testing to see if the pain would return; only stiffness, soreness now. Sweat and blood matted his fur and main to the dirt, stinging his eyes. In taking the taint from her, you will bear the burden of it upon your soul instead… The words thundered through his mind as he coughed again, his frame shaking from the effort of it; thankfully he found no new blood there as he wiped his mouth, panting.

Feren rose slowly, shakily, looking about to get his bearings. It was nearing dawn, the sky had grown pale with the coming light. A shuddering sigh escaped from his mouth as he slowly began to stride back toward the Inn at Crossroads…

“I would rather risk losing myself than losing another… than her…” Another cough racked his form as he walked, dust kicking into the air as he half dragged his hooves. At least now he should be exhausted enough to sleep…


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 Post subject: The Change...
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2005 2:03 pm 
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With new eyes he gazed skyward, scenting the air. Everything was different, new, fascinating. He could nearly taste the scents, nearly see them. Feren had spent several hours just tracking down small animals here and there by their scent alone. It was, in a word, amazing.

Yipping as he stood, he shook out his fur, looking about with yellow spectral eyes. Only this very night had Feren learned to master the Ghost Wolf form, and he already felt very much at home in it. Muscles tensing, he took off at a full run, off the road and into the lush grasses of Ashenvale. Fast enough now to outrun many of the dangers here, he explored with abandon. Sneaking his smaller frame into nooks in the rocks, under tree roots, even right up to the Elven town in the West.

He had spoken with Darba, though not necessarily about the previous evening, and things seemed to be infinitely less strained than he had expected them to. With her help, Feren had completed his tasks in the stinking pit of Ragefire Chasm too. Shortly after he had parted ways with Darba for the evening, he had gone to visit one of the elder Shaman and was granted the knowledge to shift into this form. It had been a good night, the best in quite some time in fact. Nothing troubled his mind, no shadows haunted his soul. He felt good, relaxed... He felt happy.

Eager to experience all he could tonight, Feren dashed back toward the Barrens. Pausing at the edge of a small pool, he lowered his muzzle, sniffing instinctively at it before lapping loudly at the water. Sitting back on his haunches, he hipped at a passing Plainstrider, his new voice still somewhat alien to him.

His clan, the Longstriders, had all been runners, as far back as the line went. They could roam for hours on end without tiring. Feren had never known the burning muscles, the aching lungs that other calves complained about when he was a child. It was a rare day indeed when he found himself unable to run to nearly any destination he needed to. This new form, made running even more effortless. The efficiency of it, the small frame, dense muscles, streamlined shape. He knew that wolves were built for speed, for agility and strength, but until tonight he had never quite grasped how much so.

Entering Crossroads assaulted his new senses with scents, sounds, and a new perspective on the town. It was loud, so loud. The banging of hammer on anvil, the searing harsh smell of the forge. The butcher at the far end, the scent of carved meats carrying on the air heavily. All of it was nearly too much to handle all at once for him.

Feren ran, feet flying under him, dust kicking up behind him, up to Ogrimmar. He could sleep outside there, but still be safe, able to rest. Finding a relatively quiet spot near one of the many bonfires in the city, he arranged his paws under his body, and lay his head down, eyes falling quick and heavy, asleep in no time at all.

.........

He was running, paws slapping the ground quietly beneath him. A stench burned his nose, painful enough to elicit yelps of discomfort. The Undercity.. he was near it, he had to be, the smell of decay is what burned his nose so.

He concentrated a moment on reverting to his true form, but could not, as though his connection with the Earth was severed here. This is not good. I need to leave this place, now Feren scanned the horizon, all of it unfamiliar, no sign of the Zeppelin tower a tall. Turning his nose into the wind, scenting, he ran again, as fast as his legs could carry him.

The stench of decay lifted little by little, it was clear he was lost, but for now, the relief that the smell of returning life brought was enough to calm him. Again, he tried to recall his true form unsuccessfully... What is happening? Why can I not change?

Cocking his head to the side he listened, he could hear voices not too far off, though the tongue was not one he could place. Turning, he darted off in the direction they came from, finding soon a small home, a farm perhaps, chickens and such scurried about outside. Sniffing the air, he sought out anything to indicate the presence of others, the scent of decay still lingering about him.

.........

The little girl stopped dead in her tracks, her stuffed bunny dropped to the mud below. The massive... thing stood before her, sniffing the air. Golden, hollow eyes glinted in the light. The smell that rose from it terrified her, though she did not know the scent of decay from experience, instinct told her to run, to get away, to do something. Her tiny mouth opened and a sound erupted from it that was ear splitting. The child screamed for what seemed to be an eternity, her world vanishing behind the noise.

.........

So loud, so painfully, dreadfully loud. It was a human child, a girl, he thought. He had scared her, and now she screamed. Surely she had seen wolves before, no? Why did she seem to terrified? Deciding it best to take his leave, he spotted a forested area beyond the girl, and ran as fast as he could manage, disappearing into the trees there, her scream still piercing the air behind her.

Feren kept running, until he could no longer hear the child, or the humans. Until the smell of the farm was no more. He was lost, in a strange land, unable to revert to his true form. He looked around for the safest spot he could find, and curled up in it. Hoping to hide a while as he tried to think of what to do.

Something glinted in the corner of his vision, water, no more than a puddle the size of his hoof, its surface disturbed by the wind had reflected the light of the sky at him. Shifting to drink from it, he froze...

.........

The poor child tried to explain the thing she had seen to her father. Her screams had brought half a dozen adults to the house from nearby. Pitches, shovels, farm tools clenched tightly in hand to defend the child.

"Mm... monster, daddy. It was a mmonster!" Tears streaked down her tiny dirty cheeks, dirty bunny held in her arms as tightly as possible. "It smelled.. and.. it looked broken.. like... like a broken doggy."

.........

Rotten flesh, one eye clearly decayed. The other golden, lidless. Foul, rotting skin. Fur ravaged by mange and who knows what else. Teeth grey, green, yellowed.

.........

Feren's back slammed into the stonework wall, sitting up, in his true form again. Panting heavily his eyes shot about, where had the forest gone, where was the... Ogrimmar, it had been a nightmare. That is all, just a nightmare.

He looked to his hands, removing his gloves hastily just to be certain. Other than the twisted scarring of the flesh of his right hand, they were his, and they were whole.

"Just a bad dream, that's all, nothing more." He sighed, shaking his head. He reached into his pack, fishing for the bourbon hiding within it, he took a long, deep draught, and stood. "Maybe.. Maybe I'll go back to the Inn" He replaced the bourbon, taking out his Hearthstone instead, activating it, he was pulled back to Crossroads, to the inn. Back to his room, curled up on the too small, rough bed he laid down, eyes wide open......


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 Post subject: The Curse...
PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2005 1:40 pm 
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[OOC- This one is quite a bit more graphic than the others. If gore distrubs you, do not read it.]

A decaying visage stared back at him, the water rippling as he drank from it. A scent on the air, something... innocent was nearby. Hunger burned in the pit of his stomach. A few hares had done little to sate it, even having gorged himself on their flesh, his body merely rejected it, forcing the meat back out in painful retches. This new smell fanned the flames again, nose lifting into the air he tried to put a direction to it. Even through the putrescent odor that filled his sinuses, that ebbed from his very flesh, this new smell came across clearly.

Desiccated muscles, rotted legs carried him swiftly through the woods, toward the scent. Recollection now, the child. The human girl. So young and innocent. Foul smelling droll dripped to the ground as he ran, the thought of the girl stoked the fire in his stomach to a white hot blaze. Soon, soon he would quell the hunger.

At the ends of the tree line he stopped, sniffing lightly. A short distance away she sat with a few other children, playing alone. A glowing yellow eye cast left and right, no adults, at least not in sight. This would be easy prey.

He heard the growl before he realized it came from him, nearly atrophied muscles propelling him forward at amazing speed. He was on the girl, knocking her down, his jaws closed around her throat. The other children screamed, tears running from their eyes. One brave, stupid, boy struck at him with a stick. A matted, rotting hide barely even felt the blows as he lifted the girl from the ground. Foul, purulent teeth sinking deep into the flesh of the child's throat, crushing her windpipe, and her scream, into a sputtering wet sound.

Feet again flying beneath him, he ran off, the tiny child light in his jaws. Crying children and screams of horror came after him. The weeping sound of at least one mother carried lighter than the rest on the wind. The little girl's form shuddered as she slowly suffocated, the grip of his bite tight enough to keep her from bleeding peacefully to death. By the time he arrived again at the small grotto he had been laying in, she hung limp. The tiny body was dropped to the ground, finally now blood spilled from the wounds to her neck, the smell quickly saturating his senses.

Jaws flashes as he tore into her, rending the poor innocent's stomach, gorging himself first on soft innards. Over time, he messily finished more than half of the former child's corpse. His muzzle and paws were stained crimson with her life, absently, he tore at the small stuffed rabbit she had clung to, even into death. The burning in his stomach was quelled, the fire now mere embers. It was not gone, but it would be quiet now, enough to let him rest, this rotting frame did not move with ease, and such effort of will took much out of him. Before him lay the tiny corpse, twisted and bent in a wholly unnatural manner. Terrified, empty, dead eyes stared skyward, tiny plump cheeks still wet with tears. Clothes were strewn in tatters, splashes of blood all about the macabre pair. Sleep came to him slowly, the quiet rekindling of the fire at the pit of his stomach the last thing he felt as it happened.

.........

Eyes shot open, staring to the familiar ceiling of the cave in which Feren had spent many nights. The self-same cave in which he had bed down for the evening the night before. Panting heavily, in shock from the horror of the dream, he sat up, head throbbing wildly.

He rubbed his face, to clear the sleep from his head, the now familiar scars of his had reassuring to him as they pressed against his eyes. A sickly sweet smell filled his nostrils, coppery, and frighteningly familiar from his days spent skinning animals on the plains.

Blood. Red, sticky, now decaying blood. It covered his hands, both of them, his face too was wet with it. The taste of it dawned on him as well. The images of the dream flooded again through his mind, making him retch violently. The contents of his stomach emptied on the cave's floor, and he passed out into the pool of it from shock.

Feren awoke again a short while later, pushing up from the retch on the floor, he fought to tame his stomach. Eyes scanned it for anything distinct. Pieces of meat was all he could see. Nothing to belie what his dinner from the night before may have been. It could easily be the strider meat, but there was far too much half digested blood there, black and foul.

Pushing himself to the wall of the cave, he leaned back, closing his eyes to hide from the sight of it, through the smell seemed to soak into his very being. "Please, let this too be some horrible nightmare... let last night be just a nightmare... please... please..."

From deep within his mind came a the sound, horrible, and all too real. Quiet laughter filled his ears, all too clear that it came from within, rather than without. His heart tightened too, burning as the laughter grew.

He tore his eyes open, standing, and the sound stopped. Something soft lay beneath one of his hooves, and he was terrified to look there. Swallowing hard, against the fear, and the disgust that now filled him, he moved, bending to bring the thing close enough to see. A small, torn rabbit doll. Covered in blood.

Feren collapsed to the floor, tears streaming from his eyes. He prayed to the Earth Mother that this was all some sick manner of nightmare, somehow manifest in his waking hour, even though he new the truth of the thing. Sobbing, he simply stared at the toy in his hands, so tiny, just like the little girl it belonged to. Guilt tore at him, his form shaking with it.

"No.. no... no... Just a child. How... how could I do such... such a thing?"


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 Post subject: Hope
PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2005 5:54 pm 
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[ooc make sure you read 'The Curse...' as it takes place before this entry does]
It had been a long day.

The secret of what he thought had, what HAD happened, had burdened him all day. Telling Darba of it had been one of the most agonizing things he had ever done. Seeing her face, her reaction to it, to him, pained him like no wound even had, or would.

His biggest worry in revealing the truth to her, of the cost, and the consequences of it, was that she would turn away from him. Feren could hardly stomach the very thought of it, and knowing now that she would be beside him, filled his heart with hope that he would pass this test.

That night, he had asked that she watch over him, make sure he did not leave the place in which he lay, just to be sure. He felt calmer in Darba's presence, more secure, and he hoped that with her nearby, the night would be a calm one.

She had opted to rest at the foot of the bed, he had to admit, at least to himself, that he was a little disappointed, but her very presence was enough of a comfort. He lay there quietly, wide awake, but feigning sleep, as she drifted into dreams. Rolling over to afford himself a better view, Feren lay there, just watching Darba sleep. She seemed calm, at peace... Relaxed. He smiled, happy that he had been able to help her, to rid her of the curse he now carried within himself. Sighing, he decided to try again to drift into sleep, even if only for a while.

.........

The air was cool, heavy with mist from the waterfall nearby, and far too silent to be real. Feren stood there, staring into the shimmering surface of the water, glad to see only his own face, not the foul, rotting one that had plagued his dreams nightly since he took the festering rot from Darba's spirit.

Coward...

He shot a glance around, the voice almost painfully loud compared to the eerie silence of the rest of the dream.

Weakling...

The waterfall seemed to groan, drying up, a smell of rot filling the air. The plants about it died, decayed, and twisted. The stench now in the air heavy and oppressive. Something moved at the corner of his perception. "Show yourself!"

Why? So you can cry at me?

He roared angrily at the voice, trying to find its source. He moved in the dream, not so much walking, but rather shifting from place to place. Where the water had so recently fallen, there now stood a gaping maw of a cave, the foul smell of decay stronger from within it. A sick, wet, scraping sound coming from inside.

What's the matter, Tauren? Did I offend you?

Feren found himself at the mouth of the cave, straining to make out its interior, as if his squinting his eyes here could make a difference. Faintly, a form seemed to separate itself from the very darkness. "Show yourself, whatever you are, face me!"

Hush, there is no need to shout here. I can hear your whimpering just fine.

A growl built deep within his chest, slamming his hoof on the ground, he charged forward, lunging at the shape. There was nothing there, only more darkness, laughter filled his mind as he lost his footing and fell.

Come now, I thought you smarter than that! Listen to my voice, think of where we are. Do you seriously think to harm me here in such a manner?

Feren righted himself, fuming with anger, he turned again, looking about the cave for the source of the sound. Roaring at the realization that it had been coming from within him. It was right, of course, here, in his mind, in this dream, what good would pummeling the thing do? It may bleed off some of his anger, but no other good would come of it.

"What do you want with me?"

To consume...

"To consume what? Children? Innocents? Why?"

Silly Tauren. To consume everything. Those little children. Their town. You. Your family.... Her... You stole that privilege from me, stupid meddling Shaman that you are. Now I intend to make you suffer for it.

Rage filled him again, impotent to shut the thing up, or to harm it. This voice from within his mind. Was it madness perhaps? Or was the pestilence really an entity unto itself?

Temper, temper... What did you really expect? To cure her and be done with me? You knew that wouldn't be the case. So now you are stuck with me. While you sleep, I'll continue to take hold. Little by little, I will whittle away your sanity, until you are nothing more than an empty shell, host for me to use as I see fit. I will fill your dreams with poor innocent children, dying by your deeds. Soon enough I'll turn you on your friends, on your family. When I know I have you nearest your breaking point, I'll have to take her too. I will not have you deny me twice of my right. It was smug, callous, and calm. Its nonchalant manner of speaking stoked the fires of Feren's anger.

"You will do no such thing!" His voice boomed in the empty cave. "I will be rid of you before you can harm a single other being."

Hmmm, then maybe I will have to start with her. While she sleeps at your side perhaps? Mmmm. What a lovely thought, slaughtering the cow just so you can wake to her violated corpse. That should push you far enough for me to take hold of you.

Feren roared again, slamming his hoof to the ground. He nearly started to call down lighting and fire to tear the cave to the ground before he remembered this was all some twisted dream. Calming, he looked about. "This, you, all of this earth and stone. They are just in my mind. None of this is real. If I can will the elements to do as I wish, surely I can shape this place, trap you here."

Laughter echoed off the walls. Try it, oh mighty Shaman, try it and see what good it does you.

Seething with anger, Feren focused, trying to rid his mind of all the trappings of the dream. Walls crumbled, dirt floor below him vanished, the stench of decay, dead plants, off it of fell to dust, and then nothing. In a blank white space he stood, opposite a lone shadowy figure.

Wonderful. It will be such a joy to break you. It will be an even greater pleasure to use your own gifts against others. Tell me, isn't there at least some part of you that wonders what it is that I am?

"I care not to know what you are, or what your origin is. I only wish to be rid of you. To sever you like some gangrenous limb." He focused again, a structure of stone encasing the shadowy figure, trapping it within. Feren moved to inspect it, "Too easy."

You're right, that was too easy. The stone started to crumble, rotting away as though millennia were passing. Before him the shape stood, a rotting, cloaked mirror of himself. Flesh hanging loose and foul from its face, skull showing through, tendons and sinew raw and exposed. Do you think you can really keep me contained in some mental prison? Perhaps this whole thing is an exercise to keep you busy while I do as I please with your physical form. Maybe I've torn out her throat already, you fooli---

He snapped wide awake, having forced himself form his dreams as violently as he could. Panting as he sat up, he looked around, desperate, praying there would be no blood, that she would be okay, that he had not-

Relief flooded through him. Darba was still there, safe, sleeping soundly. Her chest rose and fell with a regular rhythm. "Thank the Earth Mother." He was soaked with sweat, he had indeed been fighting, though only in his own mind, and it showed. Looking outside, it was nearly dawn. The night had passed, without incident as far as he was able to tell.

Feren rose, needing to be outside, in the fresh air. It was early yet, but he would not be able to re-enter sleep. He bent down, kissing Darba gently on the cheek "Thank you," he whispered, and moved for the door.

Moving past the innkeeper, "Tell the one I came in with that I left at dawn, that I am okay, and thank her for me." He left a few silver for the keeper's trouble, and strode outside. Taking on the Ghost Wolf form, he ran, letting the cool early morning air wake him.

Finding himself soon before one of the rivers of Ashenvale, he sniffed about making sure it would be safe to take a moment's rest. Finding no immediate threat, he strode into the water, taking on his true form once more. As the water rose upon his frame, his anger bled from him into the icy cold of it. He closed his eyes, moved to submerge himself fully, eyes opening to look around in the cold water.

Perhaps water IS the answer I seek. I cannot deny the timing of this thing, and my elder's pushing me toward taming the element of water. I pray that it will be the answer I need, else I fear this thing will be more than I am able to handle. He rose from the water, taking a deep breath of the cool dawn air. Feren moved for the shore, and clamored up onto a larger rock there, wet and cold in the light breeze, waking up more and more. "I pray you have not set something before me that I am unable to surpass. I admit fully that I am indeed terrified of this thing in my mind. I pray only that I prove myself worthy of your patronage again, that you would grant me the knowledge to be rid of it before I harm another, especially one of my family, especially her. I know that should such a horror as that occur, I would make haste to rid the mortal plane of my being."

He sighed deeply, shaking his head. Today was another day. He would face it as any other, and focus on all that She chose to show him, praying he could see the wisdom She tried to impart upon him for what it was.


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 Post subject: Horror
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2005 1:13 pm 
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[ooc Another warning, subject matter may be found disturbing by some, read at your own risk]
Feren stretched out his legs as he leaned back against the tree. The grass beneath him was rich, green, and cool. A comforting summer wind swept through Thunder Bluff, bringing a smile to his face. How much time had he and Darba spent together under this tree? It did his spirit good to see it growing strong still.

"Papa! Papa! Look!" The tiny Tauren girl ran up to him, giggling, something clutched carefully in her hands.

"What have you got there sweetie?" He reached out, lifting his daughter up into his arms, smiling broadly. "What did you find?"

Tiny hands opened to reveal a bright emerald grasshopper, antennae flitting nervously. "A found a 'rasshopper, papa! Can I keep him?" Bright blue eyes gazed up adoringly at him, a giggle bubbling from her tiny frame that would bring a smile anyone's face.

"He's fragile, you'll have to be very careful not to hurt him." He stood with the girl in his arms, and strode carefully toward their home on the mesa. "Maybe papa can make you a little cage to keep him safe? Hmm? Would you like that?"

Her eyes lit up, like a thousand stars all at once, and she nodded emphatically. Tiny hands again closed around the insect, cradling it carefully as she was in her father's arms. "Thank you papa! Thank you!" She kissed his cheek with another giggle, and stared off toward home as she was carried.

.........

Hunched over the table full of tools, Feren tinkered with the small gears and cogs of his old friend Tic. The years had been rough on the little tinker squirrel, and now and then he broke down. No matter, his skill had grown enormously, making the needed repairs was a pleasure, not a burden.

On the corner of the bench sat the tiny brass cage he had made for Wyn's pet grasshopper. Far more ornate than need be, but it would make her happy. The child was an angel, and a delight, a lot like her namesake. How long HAD it been since they last saw Ceri? It must have been years, before the Wyn's birth, that's for sure. She had gone off one day, to attend to some task, and that was the last any of them had heard from her. When the child had been born, there was a light in her eyes that reminded them both of Ceri's carefree attitude toward the world.

It was late, he realized. Stretching and yawning, he stood, carrying the cage with him. He crept into his daughter's room, and found the make-shift cage, a box really, that held the grasshopper. Carefully he moved the insect into its tiny brass home, and bent, kissing his daughter on the forehead. "Sweet dreams."

Returning to his own room, he smiled at the sleeping form found there. Darba lay curled protectively around their infant son, Tharn. The warrior had fallen for good, defending Ogrimmar against a massive onslaught. For years he had stood valiantly against the Alliance attacks, but age had taken its toll on him, and a lucky blow struck him down. Feren hoped their little boy would grow up with half the honor of his namesake. He carefully slipped beside her, an arm curling about mother and son, and fell swiftly to sleep.

.........

Anger, hatred, burning. Laughter filled his mind, his vision red. You thought you were done with me, fool. Now I shall have what's mine, and more. All this time, growing and waiting.

Methodically his hands worked. The bonds around her ankles and wrists held tight, as well as the leather straps that bound her muzzle shut, keeping her quiet. Horror filled those eyes as she watched her husband's cruel work.

Each cut made, was followed by searing heat, to staunch the blood. Little by little, he carved away the flesh from her chest, exposing sturdy ribs beneath. Even he was amazed that shock had not taken her. Instead tears streamed down her cheeks as she twisted in sheer agony, praying for him to stop. Violently he twisted one of her ribs, shattering it. This time the pain knocked her out. No matter. Calling on the gifts of this body, he healed her, just enough to bring her back to, as he repeated the act. He had opened up enough room to reach into the pit of her chest, his hand carefully wrapping about her heart as it leapt to and fro like some scared animal. "Shhh... This won't hurt much longer." He slowly applied pressure, forcing her heart to fight. "He should have let me have you. Now, I'll have you, the children you shared, and his body. If he's lucky, they'll kill me before I get past the lift." A twisted laugh escaped from him and he closed his fist tightly around Darba's heart. Her body convulsed, arching sharply as the life was forced violently from it. After a few moments, she lay there, still, dead.

"Pp... Papa? What are you doing to mama, pp papa!" The little girl stood across the room, eyes heavy with sleep still, staring as her father withdrew his hand from within her mother's chest.

Gore dripped from his hand as he stood, regarding the girl cooly, he wiped his face with the hand, blood staining it, making the madness that controlled him now all that much more apparent. "Mama's sleeping now, sweetie." A flash in his eyes, and he dropped to all fours, taking on the twisted, rotted ghost wolf form. With a snarl, he was on the girl, tearing her throat open, blood spraying the walls. In the background, the tiny boy lay, crying beside his mother's corpse.

Sharp twists of powerful neck muscles tore free the piece of flesh in his jaws, leaving the child gasping and mute on the floor, blood welling into the would. She would either suffocate, or bleed to death. Either way it did not matter. Slowly, he turned on the screaming nuisance in the background, padding toward it.

--

White hot pain seared through Feren's skull as he awoke, panting. For a moment he was blind, and all that he could perceive was the laughter in his mind, the thing, it had taken control again. "No, what have I done? I thought it was gone, that I had beaten it that I had--"

Eyes shot about, focusing now. The cool stone walls of Ogrimmar, Darba was still seated there, sleeping, unharmed. Panting, he wept. For what he'd done to her, there in the dream. He could nearly taste the blood of his dream daughter in his mouth. He fell to Darba's lap, burying his face against her as he wept, arms tightly around her, as though she would disappear if he let go...

[ooc Oh yeah, Darba? tag]


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 Post subject: One Final Task
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 11:52 am 
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Falling asleep that night had been harder than he had expected. He was exhausted, physically, mentally, emotionally; he was surprised he had the energy to even make it back to an inn. Mastery over water was so close, however, that it must have been what gave him a second wind. Well, that, and seeing her still alive; when Darba first arrived in Ashenvale, he just could not believe she was real.

Half collapsing into the bed, Feren dragged Darba down with him, curling up next to her, despite any protests or awkwardness that may have normally kept her seated elsewhere. Tonight, he did not care, he needed to be touching her, covered with her scent, certain that she was real, and there to protect him.

Each time his eyes closed though, he saw Wyn. Not the happy vision she was at the start of horrible nightmare, but rather how she was toward its end. Terrified of her father, of him, crying, and slowly dying on the floor. He shuddered at the thought and clung tightly to Darba, arms wrapped around her, legs tangled, he buried his face against her chest. It was though he hoped to block out the world with her. He had been glad to have her nearby the past several nights, tonight he could scarcely bear to give himself breathing room from her.

The haunting memories of the dream troubled him. He prayed that he would never have such a cruelty within him, not once he was rid of this thing, not ever again. Feren prayed that as well as cleaning the taint from within him, that the Earth Mother would also grant him a clarity he had lacked for much of his life. He knew he would have to kill, be it beast, or man, or otherwise, to protect himself, those he loved, and his homeland, but he prayed he would find no satisfaction in it, in any of it. He begged Her to be rid of the vengefulness that filled him, even now, for peace instead.

This whole ordeal had been hard on him, but he was not alone in bearing this weight, and he was worried for her. Just because the taint was no longer in her did not mean this whole situation did not tear at her mind. Seeing Darba cry each time they spoke was draining to him, he had to tell her what was happening, but at the same time, he knew he may as well have been testing the sharpness of daggers in her heart. Part of him wondered how much longer she could stand by him. Feren knew how much he cared for her, and he thought he knew how Darba felt for him, but this was asking a lot of anyone. He prayed that she too would find peace within herself.

Fitful sleep came at least, and no dreams, neither good or ill this night. It seemed that pushing as hard as it had been also weakened the presence in Feren's mind. No worries or thoughts of the foul thing that had brought this upon them in the first place, or the threat of his letter. No worries about what he would have to do next. Feren slept as though in a void, a quiet, restful void. Somewhere, in the back of his thoughts, he continued to pray that she did too.

.........

Feren yawned, waking up rested for the first time in days. Blinking the sleep from his eyes, he stared about the room, just letting it sink in, quietly hoping that it wasn't some sick dream. Adjusting slightly, he turned to see Darba still sleeping there, apparently peacefully so. A shot of fear ran through him, for just the briefest moment, until he felt the rush of her breathing against his face. The feel of it brought a smile to him, and he gently kissed the bridge of her nose. "Rest well..."

He planned to complete the trials to master water today, even if it meant traveling to the forsaken lands around Sepulcher to do so. It would be as short of a trip as he could manage, he would defeat the tainted elemental, and cleanse the spring. Then... Then he would see what he could do about the taint within himself.

Reluctantly, Feren untangled himself from beside Darba, and got out of bed. He scrawled a note and left it with her things.

I do not know how I will ever really thank you enough for being here with me these past few days. I know it has been terribly difficult, and if your tears have been any indication, painful. I have reached the final task before I can master water, and it is one I must undertake alone. I go to purify a spring in Splintertree, hopefully I will learn from this what I need to in order to cleanse my mind and spirit. I pray I am able to be rid of this thing soon. I wish that I were able to share with you the joyous part of my nightmare, instead of only the horror. Of beautiful children, ours, and peace for us both. I pray that with the knowledge I strive for now, I will also be given the resolve to grant you the peace you have given me in these few days. You are in my thoughts, and my heart especially.

-Feren


.........

As soon as the Zeppelin was near the plaguelands, he had to fight the urge to retch. It seemed each time he ventured here, he felt more attuned to the decay of the land, and it twisted his stomach to think of that same corruption that lay within him.

Lupine feet hit the ground the second he was off the Zeppelin tower, running as fast as his body could manage, pushing so hard that his muscles burned and ached with it. Making his way toward the Splintertree coast line, he ignored the blows of passing monstrosities, he had no time for this, no more time. He could feel the thing in his mind stirring in the presence of its fellows. Desperation and hope both pushed him forward.

The water sapta was free from his pack almost before he had fully shifted back to his true form. Pouring the mixture down his throat, he shivered, something deep inside him cringed at the touch of the liquid. Shaking slightly as the power within it worked, his eyes adjusted and went wide. There were dozens of water elementals here, each of them as tainted as the land around them, as the pool before him. Fear shot through his body for a moment, before Islen's words came to him again. There was only one he must take down, not all of them. He could do this.

Battling the elemental had been difficult, draining much of his energy as he subdued the thing. Rage filled Feren as he fought, seeing the corruption in what was once a thing of purity, of peace. Placing its bracers on the fire, and pouring out the last pure drops of water entrusted to him, he quietly prayed to the Earth Mother. Please, rid this place of the corruption in it. Purify this water, so these spirits may be at rest. So that I might learn from them to cleanse the taint within me.

A light flooded the place, painful and overpowering. The corrupt elementals writhed in agony, being torn asunder by the power of it, as the cleansing energies from the few precious drops of pure water scoured the taint from the pool. Inside of him, the thing screamed, tearing at his mind. The only thing that kept Feren on his feet was knowing that the corruption was in as much pain as it was causing him now. Rising at the pool's center, the water coalesced into a figure, like the ones before, but pure now, clear, and cleansed of the taint in the land. It thanked Feren for purifying this place, and blessed him. A water hand was placed on his head, and the thing within quieted, cowering in the recesses of his mind. He knew that water would forever be his to call upon in time of need, and he knew then that it surely would lead to him beating this thing.

He sank to his knees in the pool of water, drained yet again. The cool touch of it as he stayed there was calming; a welcome relief to the oppressiveness of the tainted lands around him. Feren was certain now that he was close to being rid of the corruption within him. The water seemed to keep it at bay for the time being. He could still feel it, deep inside, struggling, fighting against the energy in the water. It had not been beaten, not yet, but Feren was certain now that water was the way to his salvation. The taint feared its touch, and that strengthened Feren's resolve.

The power of the sapta was beginning to fade, and while he could still feel the presence of Water here, it was becoming harder and harder to see it. Carefully, he refilled the vial that had held the purified water used to cleanse this place with water from the pool. He turned to thank the elemental just as the mystical sight was failing, and he slipped the vial around his neck. For now, keeping the thing within him at bay would have to suffice.

His feet were fast enough to carry him back to the Zeppelin, but he thought it better not to tempt fate, or grant strength to the taint within by staying in these lands any longer than he had to. Calling on the power of his Hearthstone, he found himself again within Crossroads, relieved to see the dust of the place. With a calm he had not felt in quite some time, he walked toward the coast, to speak one last time with Islen, to be granted the totem of water. Soon enough now, he was certain, he could be rid of this thing once and for all.


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 Post subject: Forgiveness
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 11:40 am 
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Dearest Feren

I have done much thinking when I awoke this morning, and have come to realize that I am a hazard to all those I care for. If it wasn't for me, you would not be suffering now, if it wasn't for me, everyone would be okay. I am going. I don't know where but I need to go far away. Far away from everyone I care for so I don't hurt them anymore. So I don't hurt you anymore. If you get better, try to forget about me. You will be better off that way, trust me. I wish you luck, and tell everyone good bye for me.

Darba.


He stared at the letter, face slack, and trembled.

It was late when he finally returned to the Inn, he had hoped she would be here already, so that he could tell her the good news. Not completely certain how to be fully rid of the thing within him, he had, at the very least, found a way to keep it at bay. The innkeeper handed him the letter, and then very quickly went about his business, almost like he knew what it contained. Slow, tired strides carried him up to his room, where he opened and read it.

Feren slumped to sit on the edge of the bed, staring at the letter in shock. His mouth shaped words, but there was no sound coming from him. Trembling, his hand closed around the parchment, eyes glistening as anger and sadness fought over which emotion would come through first, or strongest. A growl welled up deep within his chest, his fist clenched so tight the muscles in his arms twitched from it. Fire came to his right hand in a white hot flash, turning the letter to ash instantly and searing the bed. It was only a split second in which he lost control, and he stood, closing his eyes as he actively called upon the water in the pendant. I will not let my anger take hold of me. I will not let it make me into a base and vile thing. I will calm myself...

Eyes opened, tears still barely holding there, and he sighed deeply, the flame withdrawing from his hand once more. Reciting the words of the letter in his mind, he swallowed hard. "Why now? When I am so close to beating this thing..."

A shake of his massive head freed the tears, and they ran down his face as he sighed, almost collapsing in on himself with the depth of it. The weight of his day fell upon him, despite all he learned today, the letter tore away all the energy he had left, and he slumped back to the bed again. Praying the calming effect of the water on the entity within him would last into sleep, Feren closed his eyes, and let himself drift quietly away.

.........

The air was cold, crisp, and almost burned his lungs as he inhaled, filling them to capacity with it. Immediately, he knew that this was no dream; while he slept, he had been pulled to the spirit realm, though by what influence, he was not certain.

The land before him was neither completely familiar or completely alien, recognition itched at the back of his memory. Movement, off in the distance caught his eye, and he followed it. Piece by piece, the land grew into something he was sure he knew; as soon as he saw the home, he froze, terror locking all his limbs. The small home of the humans, of the girl. He collapsed, his own memory assaulting him here, the smell of blood and the taste of flesh souring his mouth suddenly, and he began to sob, his entire body shaking with it.

Before him stood a tiny ethereal form, the little girl's spirit, perfect as she had been in life, now watched as he cried. "What's wrong, bull-man?" The innocence in the question was almost tangible.

Large, red eyes turned up, raw from crying. Sighing, Feren found his voice, shaky though it was. "I am so sorry, for what I did, I... I had no control over--"

"Shhh, it's okay bull-man, I know. They told me," A tiny arm motioned to the woods behind her, "I can hear them now, you know. Since I came here, to this place." Tiny feet brought her closer, and she stooped enough to be at eye level with the crouching Tauren. Delicate spectral fingers came to rest against his muzzle, brushing across the fur there. "I... I was mad, then sad, but," something flashed across her face that tore at Feren's heart, "There's no need to be sad. Not here. I can still see momma and poppa. I can still feel their love. And the trees, they told me I would be with them soon enough."

He cried at her touch, her words were hard to bear. Such an innocent should never have to learn these truths so soon. Kneeling still, he stayed there, listening as she spoke.

"Time.. it's different here. It's like forever and never all at once." A giggle bubbled up in her chest, "And look, my bunny is okay too!" She held aloft the tiny stuffed bunny.

A smile played across his face, though it never really reached his eyes. Feren knew how things came across here, in the memories of those who passed. Seeing the little girl here hurt him deeply; the fact that she was not the least bit angry or hurt with him, caused a dull ache deep in his heart. Anger he could handle, but such a tiny child forgiving him for her murder, burned like nothing else. "I... I am so sorry, child. You should have lived to be old and happy, a family of your own." He shook his head, sighing deeply, slowly, he looked into her eyes again. "You called me here, didn't you? It was you who brought me to this place, wasn't it?"

A tiny smile, precious as any jewel spread on her face. "Yes. You were so sad." A tiny frown, for just a moment, as she toyed with the stuffed rabbit. "I can feel you as well now, just like them. They say we're connected, here," carefully she rested her hand on Feren's chest, just over his heart. "Because of what happened, they said you and I will always be connected." She smiled again, "That's okay though, I know it wasn't your fault. I was scared, when they told me, my parents used to tell me stories of your people, they said horrible things about you," she shook her head, "I know they were wrong though. I know that the bull-men are gentle, inside, it's just this war that made them so angry with men."

Carefully, he shifted his legs beneath himself so that he sat in front of the little girl. She sat lightly on one of his outstretched legs, and smiled as she continued, "I know that you are good too, cause I can feel it in you. What you are fighting with, that's not you, so what you did is okay." The little girl tilted her head a little to better regard Feren's face.

"But... why did you bring me here?"

Her smile lit again, brighter than before, "To tell you that it's okay. That I'm okay, here. I don't want you to be so sad anymore, 'specially if it's over me." She touched her chest, over her own heart, "Each time you cried, I wanted to too, and I don't want to be sad anymore. Here, I can see so many neat things, and I'm learning lots too. I want to be happy here, until my family comes. If you're sad, so am I, if I can make you happy, then I can be happy too."

Tears slowly rolled down his cheeks as he watched the child. He was afraid to touch her, she seemed so delicate, especially here, like this, as a spirit. Swallowing, he tried to hold back the tears. "So, you... You forgive me for what I did?"

Nodding emphatically, "Of course. It wasn't your fault, I know that now."

A smile spread on his face now, reaching his eyes this time, as tears ran again down his cheeks. "Thank you."

Another giggle welled up from her, and she stood, wrapping her arms about his neck as best she could, burying her tiny face in his mane. "No more crying, okay? Be happy. If you every feel bad about what happened, just come here again, I'll cheer you up."

Very delicately, he wrapped an arm around her, hugging her back; so small that she barely filled the crook at his elbow. He sighed deeply, shoulders slouching as though he'd just set down a massive weight. "I will, I promise. I'll come see you."

She slipped back, rocking on her heels, and sat again on his leg, propping her bunny on her lap. "Good," her tiny head spun to look to the woods behind her, a breeze swimming through them. She nodded, and turned to face Feren again, "They said you should go now though, go and rest." She stood, and smoothed out her dress, watching him, "And don't worry, they said that by the time you wake up, She'll have told you how you can be okay again."

Feren stood slowly, towering over the girl. He smiled down at hear, and brushed her cheek with a finger, "I will. And thank you, again." He stared at her a moment more, and knelt, to be at eye level again, "I.. what's your name? I don't know what I should call you."

Leaning against the the caress, she smiled, and held out a tiny hand, "Callie, my name's Callie."

Carefully he shook the offered hand, it disappearing next to his own, "Callie, such a beautiful name. Call me Feren, okay?" He stood again, sighing again as he looked at her.

"Go on, Feren, go rest."

He turned, walking slowly away, waving as he did so. "I will see you soon, Callie. Thank you again."

A giggle followed him as he walked off, the world slowly fading into grays as it usually did when he left the spirit realm. Just before he was welcomed back to the quiet black of sleep, her voice reached him one last time. "Tell her, about me... And tell her you're okay too. She's afraid, Feren, but she doesn't have to be.... Tell her what's really in your heart when you think about her..."

.........

A sigh came from him as he woke up. He could smell on the air that it was already morning. He felt relaxed as he sat up, letting his eyes come to focus slowly.

Darba was gone, but he would find her. He had to, really, otherwise his struggle with this pestilence was for nothing. Callie had been right too, he knew now what needed to be done to cleanse the taint from within him, just as if the knowledge had always been his. He would need help with this, and he needed Darba's strength to add to his own if he was to be able to ask as much of the elements as he would need to.


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 Post subject: Corruption
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 12:21 pm 
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A bolt of cold shot through his body and Feren struggled to sit upright. Shaking his head to clear the haze, he looked about. Where am....

The 'glory' of the plaguelands greeted him, and panic gripped him. His hand flew to his chest, searching for the small phial of water. "Where is it, where is-- There..." Massive fingers curled carefully around the small glass vial, hanging from a cord about his neck. Breathing deeply, he called on the water within, right now, he needed reassurance.

Nothing. It was still in his hand, no calming wave came over him, no stirring within him. Nothing. The voice within his mind was disturbingly absent as well. Opening his hand, he stared at his palm, at the phial there. Something was wrong, something floated within the once pure water there. Inky, black, like an oil blot almost; and it was moving more than it should.

In his chest, pain rippled through his heart, as though it had stopped for a moment. "What happened? How did this happen?"

Muscles protested as he pushed himself to his knees, then standing. His eyes scanned the horizon. He needed to be anywhere but here. Large fingers fumbled with the buckles on his bag, the minute they touched his hearthstone he began to call on its power, letting it pull him back to the Crossroads. Without so much as a glance about himself, he ran from the inn to the wyvern master, taking a beast to Thunder Bluff.

The wind blew past him, whisking away the sweat that had broken out on his brow. He kicked the wyvern, urging it to go faster, as usual, the beast merely protested and kept it's pace.

.........

As his feet hit ground, he dashed from the tower toward Spirit Rise. He would speak with the Shaman there, they would know what was happening.

Pain, immeasurable pain tore through his mind, laughter filling the void it created. He stumbled, and toppled most of the way over the edge of the suspended bridge, just barely catching himself.

Hello... Feren. It spat out the name like a curse. Did you miss me?

The muscles in his arm jumped as he fought to pull himself back up over the rope, pain still searing through his mind. He tried with all his might to ignore the voice, and only concentrate on the very long fall below him now.

Aw, come on. You know I don't like it when you ignore me. I'll have to fix that. Something gripped his heart, far more real that it should have, and it fought against the pressure there. Pain welled out through his entire body, and his arm went slack, fingers slipping from the rope, letting him fall. His body landed hard, loudly, with a sickening sound as bones broke throughout it. He had survived the fall, but only barely. Darkness threatened to take his vision, and he swam through the pain. Gritting his teeth, he spoke, "What... what do you.. you want?"

That's better. Feren could swear he saw the thing smile in his mind. That little water trick of yours, it wasn't very nice, now was it? Scaring me like that, trapping me down deep. Pain continued to ebb through Feren's body as he lay there, bleeding and broken, too weak to call on any healing abilities he held. You shouldn't have. Now, I'm mad, and I've been able to do something about it. Ruined your water I did.

"I.. I'll get more. I will drive you.. drive you back again. You won't wi--" Pain seared through his body, as though a knife had been pushed, slowly, into his heart. That's a pretty thought. Too bad you're wrong. The pain twisted, like the blade it felt like. I'm going to... borrow... your body for a bit. I think you owe me that much at least.

Feren felt his energy stirring, pulling on the Earth to heal him. Slowly his wounds knit themselves. Bones pulling painfully back together, mending themselves. See, being stuck down deep like I was. I learned that we're a lot more connected that even I thought we'd be. He stood, shakily at first, but that was passing. It was very clear that it was not his will that animated his flesh just now. As a matter of fact, I think it's your turn to be locked away, just for a bit. When you've calmed down some, maybe I'll let you come back out to play, eh?

Darkness, quiet, nothing. He could no longer see, feel, smell anything. Panic gripped him fully, he knew the thing had taken hold of him, it could clearly control at least some of his powers. He had been so close to curing himself, ridding himself of the taint, and now... this. Maybe if you're real good, I'll let you see just what's going on while you're in there. It's more courtesy than you showed me.


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 Post subject: Torture
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 9:37 am 
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[Big fat warning. This isn't as heart string cruel as previous posts, but it is more violent, that's for sure.]

A sick wet sound followed his hand is he withdrew it from within the ribcage of the Night Elf. Calmly he set aside her heart, and dropped the body to the ground. Kuray'bin had said he wanted Ashenvale Outrunners slain, and the thing controlling Feren was more than happy to oblige. He just felt that he should bring back some sort of.... proof.

The sack that hung at his waist stunk of meat, half a dozen elven hearts rest within, drying slowly in the cool air of the forest. Surprisingly enough, no one who had passed by as he slay the elves had so much as batted an eyelash at him. It was starting to bore him. If not for Feren's screams coming from deep within, he wouldn't have bothered to complete the task.

Deep inside his own mind, Feren lay trapped, fully aware of all that he was doing, of all that he had done, and screaming with impotent rage at the force that now controlled his body, his powers. He watched helplessly as the hand that had been granted power by the flame to heal was twisted, now festering, slick with black ichor. Strangely enough, it seemed the rest of his body lay without infection of any sort.

The creature was getting angry as well. Nyas, that simple fool, had yet to respond to the letter that was sent. Some agent of corruption he was turning out to be. No matter, he was sure it would only be a short time before Chilali, or one of the other Fel Hand would answer him, he offered a unique opportunity, or so he thought. They would be fools to ignore it.

While sitting there, lost in his own thoughts, another one of the damnable Night Elves revealed herself from hiding to strike at his body. With little effort she was rendered unconscious, Feren screaming within his mind again. This time, he thought it might be fun to see how much more he could break the Shaman's spirit; that, at least, had yet to lose his interest.

.........

The night elf had been bound, gagged, and hoisted over powerful shoulders. Someplace a little less open to attack would be better suited to this task. He recalled from Feren's memories that a Troll lived in Malaka'jin who had a.. tendency for cruelty to the elves.

The wyvern master had looked strangely at Feren and his bound parcel, but took his money and allowed him a flight none the less. Quick enough he landed and made his way to the village. There, in the back, Jin'Zil's cave, three elves already captive within.

"I wish to see when they... break. When their wills are no more, but their bodies continue yet. Seeing as you are a," He glanced to the cages, the elves cowering within, "kindred spirit in experimentation, I thought you might afford me some privacy?"

The Troll gladly complied, clearing a work space for the Tauren, and sitting back, his eyes glinting with interest.

It was with great care that he re-bound the night elf to a table, arms and legs pulled taught. All weapons and armor stripped from the tiny creature's body, and the gag pulled free. He had no idea what the words coming from her mouth meant, but he was sure they were hate filled, venomous things; it made him laugh.

Placing a large finger to his mouth, making the sign for her to be quiet, received no better a response than to be spit upon. Violently the pommel of his dagger slammed down on the back of her hand, shattering the bones there. A scream pierced the cave's air, and echoed out into the village beyond. Once again he made the sign for her to be silent. Once more he was met with obscenities and he shrugged, calling on fire, his hand came ablaze, and began to heat the dagger.

"Hold her mouth open, would you? If she keeps screaming like this, I don't think we'll really learn much, now will we?"

The Troll complied, grinning darkly. As the dagger began to glow, orange with the heat, he reached forward, roughly he pulled at her tongue, stretching it painfully from her mouth and he drew the tip of the searing blade across the back of it. Nearly the muscle was severed and cauterized in one stroke, far at the base. It would not silence the elf, not completely, but it should quell some of her temper. He grinned, tossing the piece of flesh aside, the stink of burning meat handing in the air; his finger came again to his lips. "Shhhhh."

Tear streamed down the elf's face now, sweat having broken out in reaction to the pain. She struggled to keep even the involuntary whimpers to a minimum. She understood the Tauren's point, and would do all she could to keep quiet now.

A smile spread across his face. "Look, they aren't as stupid as I thought. She's learning. I wonder how long it'll last." Calling briefly on water, he cooled the blade in his hand, and brought its tip lightly against the skin right where her collar bone first showed. Slowly he traced that line with the tip, pressing just enough to slice the flesh. A long line ran across the bone, and down the adjoining arm, to the back of the hand. Crystalline, crimson, droplets welled from the cut. Twisting the blade deftly it began to trace a twin pattern back up the other side of the arm, the shoulder, and over the tendons between the arm and the neck to again meet at the collar bone. Large, rough fingers worked the cut then, at the neck, and fished their way under it.

The elf bit her lip to keep quiet. As the cut grew longer, she bit harder, drawing blood from her own flesh. She stared in horror at the Tauren as he worked, wondering the whole time, 'Weren't they noble creatures?'.

Nails and fingers wriggled under the skin, pulling it up. It had been a while since Feren has been a skinner, but some things you just didn't forget. Getting a firm grip on that flap of flesh, he tore, violently and quickly, excising the strip of skin from the elf's arm, dropping it wetly to the floor beside her tongue. A scream welled, formless, from her that would have curdled the blood of most. He merely grinned, eyes flashing. "Tut, tut. I said be quiet. We'll have to fix this once and for all."

Her chest rose and fell, pulling air to her lungs, the scream seeming to never end. The Tauren seemed angry with her, she had made noise, and now she would be punished for it.

As the elf gasped to draw in air, he forced his thumb roughly into her mouth, past and into her throat. She gagged, but there was no room for the bile to go. Forcing his digit further down he found the spot where vocal cords where house, and called once more on flame, searing the tender wet flesh there, leaving ruin in its place. Smiling as he pulled his hand back, formless gasps and gusts of air came from the elf. He had ruined her voice-box, and no more would she made noise.

.........


Minutes slipped into hours while he and the Troll had worked, slowly skinning the elf alive, one strip of flesh at a time. Careful, of course, to leave the meat beneath intact. The form was unmistakably elven, but it was a red ruined mass. More than once, he had called upon his healing abilities to bring the creature back to this plane. It slowed the work some, as it caused her to regenerate some each time, but no matter. He was methodical, if nothing else.

Finally free of skin, he picked up the body, mostly dead at this point, and pinned it to the wall of the Trolls cave. The chest rose and fell quickly, tiny pained breaths where the only sign of life in the meat. He was amazed at having kept it alive this long.

"Enjoy the gift, Troll."

He called upon the ghost wolf's form, and ran off into the forest, to find something else to toy with.

.........

Feren sat, huddled in a ball in his mental prison, whimpering. Here, closing your eyes shut nothing out. He could smell, feel, see each thing the creature made him do, and he wept. He wanted to fight, wanted to struggle against the thing that now controlled him, but his pain made him weak. His compassion drew away his will. His prayers, surely heard by the thing, were only that Darba had the good sense to stay far away from him, so that he would do no such thing to her.


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 Post subject: Ruined
PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2005 4:40 pm 
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The dull sounds of steel striking against carapace echoed off the trees nearby. Ruined and ridden still by the taint, the Tauren's body fought against the last of a large onslaught of the the massive spiders that stalked throughout Ashenvale. Ichor seeped from wounds in the beast's shell, light blazed in its battle crazed eyes as it lunged again and again at the one-eyed Tauren before it. The Tauren's body was nearly done for as well, blood welled from several wounds, poison turning much of it black. Each time the tainted thing within the shell tried to call upon the Shaman's healing powers, it failed to be enough, and now, he scarcely had enough magical energy to start the incantation that would banish the venom from him.

Rearing up, the spider let loose a shriek that chilled to the bone before it drove itself down hard upon the Tauren before it. Huge fangs tore through the armor there, and the flesh, pinning into the ground below; one through the chest, just missing the heart, the other through the neck, stilling the body's voice. Struggling, the taint ridden body lay pinned to the forest floor; trapped beneath the spider, it was too weak to fight, too close to dying.

Somewhere, trapped in his own mind, Feren had been witness to the onslaught, privy to the pain of each blow, the sting of the venom. He prayed that the creature would keep him just barely alive, leaving him and the taint trapped within a useless body, rather than killing him. There was not enough strength, enough resolve of will to fight the taint for control, and unfettered, Feren dreaded where it may drag his soul once free of the flesh that bound it.

Black fangs bent in, digging into the back flesh of the body, pinning it in the spider's jaws as it was lifted from the floor. Violently it thrashed the body, flinging it through the air. A dull thud, a wheeze of air from barely functioning lungs, and little else save the pained movement of the spider broke the silence of the Ashenvale woods. The heart still beat within the Tauren body, but only just so. The poison was slowly working to freeze its limbs, to stall all its muscles. The spider skulked forward again, raising its fangs again, driving them once more into the wrecked body. It shuddered violently as it hoisted the weight of the Tauren body once more, its own life oozing slowly from stab woods throughout its carapace. With a a final shove of its fluid filled limbs, the spider sent Feren's body flying through the air again. A sick, wet crack echoed through the still air as the body slammed against cold hard stone, splashing into water below.

A roar pierced the still air of the Ashenvale woods, birds took to the air from their roosts in the trees, and as the sound stuttered into stillness, the forest fell quiet again.

.........

Slowly the world came into focus. Perspective was skewed, depth perception was all but non-existent. Pain filled all of his senses, but Feren was acutely away of two sensations he had not felt in quite some time. The first was that he was in control of his flesh again. The other was that somewhere, deep within him, the presence that had held him prisoner in his own mind cowered, quiet, and in pain.

Tentatively, Feren tried to move. Waves of pain spread throughout his body, and through them, he could tell that much of his form was unresponsive. Not from any lack of control, but because of a broken spine. Trying to control his breathing, wheezing painfully, one lung collapsed and useless, he did all he could to be still. As the pain subsided some, he became more aware that he was wet, and not only from his own blood and that of the spider. A pool of something cool, comforting, and bristling with energy cradled his broken body. He closed his eye, focusing on the cooling sensation of the water. There was power there, raw energy in the pool, and despite his broken, bleeding body lying in it, the water was utterly pure. Carefully, he reopened his eye, and tilted his head to look about himself more; the stonework was clearly that of the Night Elves. He had heard of their moonwells before, but he'd never seen one until this moment.

Being every so cautious, and slow, he tried to pivot his head. The movement caused when he tried to breathe kept lapping water up and over his mouth, and he fear he would soon end up drowning himself. His head felt as though it was made of stone, and twice as heavy as his entire body, though slowly, he was able to seat it against the edge of the well to better prop himself up. He gazed over the nearby forest with his one good eye, and sighed softly. The broken body of the spider lay just a short way from him, unmoving. Quietly, he wondered why the thing had not just killed him, instead choosing to toss him about, when it was already so weakened.

He tried to steady his breathing, to bring himself to speak, so that he could call upon the elements to mend his broken body. Wrecked sounds came from his mouth, the hole through his neck had done substantial damage to his ability to speak. No matter. Closing his eye, he focused on the soothing effect of the water, praying that Water would heed his call, and mend his body at least enough to call on the spirits properly. Nothing, no healing calm, no soothing wave of power. Anger flickered in him for just a second, but he was too weak to hold to it. The very effort of it brought his world into a spin before turning grey, then black.

.........


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 Post subject: A strange plea...
PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2005 6:51 pm 
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Somewhere, while she slept, something crept into Darba's dreams. Softly at first, but building like a storm on the horizon.

The chittering of a thousand voices built to a dull roar in her ears. Perhaps it was merely the ill effects of the alcohol imbibed that night, perhaps not. The sound grew more; a clacking, clicking noise, thousands upon thousands of them poured their song into the roar that built in Darba's head, tearing into her dreamscape and changing it.

Woods flared up around her, trees towering overhead, blocking out the light. Hidden among the branches and leaves, thousands and thousands of spiders flowed over the plants, their chattering now deafening. Behind it all, a voice started to come through.

... he lives yet, Druid...

The mass of spiders swarmed over her form in the dream, burying her in a wave of their bodies. Millions of tiny legs tickling at her flesh. Their tiny glinting fangs bouncing the light around like a myriad of jewels, and still the voice came.

... The Shaman, he lives yet, Druid, and he will need you help, and that of others if his life is to continue beyond this night. Seek him out where my children dwell, help him, if you will...

The mass trailed off of her, leaving her unscathed, and alone, quickly filtering back into the woods beyond. As their clicking faded, so did the voice within it.

... go to him, aid him, if you wish...

.........

Redearth's smiling face greeting him as he fell to dreaming, but before it was to continue on its course, her form quivered, and fell to the ground. A mass of spiders lay in its place. The rest of the world around her twisted and changed, massive trees diving far into the sky, blocking out the sun.

A noise, white and indistinct at first filled his ears here in this dreamscape, almost like a waterfall or driving wind. The sound came clearer, the clicking, chittering sound of thousands upon thousands of chitinous limbs. As the mass of spiders where Redearth once stood began to spread forth, a voice came from them.

... Warrior, your kind scarcely heed my call...

The spread out, growing. Where once many of the same size crawled, now multitudes of many sizes skittered forth. Their noise growing still, as did the voice from them.

... A fallen friend needs your aid, if you would offer it. Seek him out where my children dwell to the North. A place of power is where he lies, but soon death will come again for him. Aid him, if you will. Seek out his family and yours, he will need you all...

Just as quickly as they had formed, the spiders began to face, the trees pulling back into the ground, the land roaring in protest. The dream faded, and Getharn's mind was left to spin its own night time tales.

.........

Another bunch of herbs was pulled from the ground and stuffed away into her pack. Ceridwyn was out gathering the supplies of her trade, and today had been a good day.

Quietly, as she kneeled there, uprooting another plant, the sound came. A chittering, quivering sound. From within the plant in her hand, several dozen miniscule arachnids crawled forth, spreading over her arm, dropping as she brushed them off, all about her the crawled. As the sounds of their clicking mandibles grew, none of them biting the Troll before them, a whisper met her ears from the wind.

... Your brother Shaman needs you, and others, if he is to live on. Seek him out where my children as these dwell, help him if you wish...

As if of one mind, the spiderlings stopped, and turned, crawling quickly from her frame, to the ground and plants, and into the small hiding places where they dwell.

.........

One by one, others were met with similar dreams, visions, and visitations. Qoz, Kogg, Ruferduf, and Jodar. Feren's family was met with words from the Earthmother, a call to help their brother, if they felt there was enough of their brother left to help. Each one met with her strange touch through spiders of Azeroth, hopefully the sign would be strong enough, especially for those usually distant from her embrace...


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 Post subject: A blessing... ?
PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2005 6:51 pm 
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White noise. An unimaginable number of chattering, clicking sounds filled his mind.

Wake up child...

A groan, a flash of pain, white hot. A world out of focus, and still that sound, almost constant filled his senses.

I said, wake up, I know enough of you is there to hear my voice. Wake up, NOW!

Awareness slammed back into him, the last word shaking the very air about him. Slowly, Feren looked about himself, only one eye working even here in the spirit realm. The Ashenvale woods surrounded him here, lush, verdant, almost overpowering, more-so than their physical counterparts. He could tell he was above the Moonwell in which his body lay; he could see it there, through the shimmering of the well's power, broken, bleeding, diseased. Unable to move, he was swathed and hung by sticky, incredibly strong threads. Spider's silk, much like he had encountered about Besseleth's lair in Stonetalon.

Before him She stood, a towering colossus, powerful beyond words; clad in the shape of the very spiders that had lain waste to his body, only far larger than anything he'd seen before. Hundreds of smaller spiders scurried about on Her massive carapace, chittering and clacking their secrets to Her as they scurried about. Multiple cold pairs of eyes regarded him as he hung there, suspended from the trees.

It was foolish of you to rely so long on that trinket, Shaman.

He stammered, "I.. I know that n--"

Quiet! Hang there and listen to what I have to say child. She paused, chittering something back to one of the many smaller spiders before continuing. Massive ebon fangs glinting as they moved, their clacking strange, but through it he still understood Her words.

Your reliance on the trinket made you weak. Weak enough for it to be corrupted. Now you lie there, body dead to the world, broken, ruined. You knew a way to be rid of the taint, I gave you that knowledge, but instead of acting upon it, you squandered your time. This, a massive limb motioned to his corpse, is your fault, and no other's, do you understand?

"Yes."

And do you know the full extent of the damage that has been wrought because of your weakness, Shaman?

"No, not fully. I--"

A glint of light passed over the manifold eyes, and his mind opened, memories of his actions while under the control of the taint, flooded him. Things it had him from him, this it had shown him. All of it, all the atrocities it had committed came to Feren at once, and he screamed out in pain and horror.

A flayed body, hanging in a cave, Elven captives staring in horror at one of them own hanging like so much meat, and still alive. His own body, scarred, ruined and burned. A human farmer's home and adjacent field, set ablaze; his family trapped inside as the thatched roof collapsed, flaming onto them. Held aloft, bound and gagged, by Feren's hand, made to listen to their screams. That same farmer, bound to a stone, shoulders and knees shattered and bloody, slithids skittering nearby, excited by the fresh scent of blood; left to be eaten alive. A group of younger Trolls and Orcs, left to fend for themselves in the depths of Ragefire Chasm, a swarm of Troggs overcoming them as Feren stood idly by, laughing. Dozens of other scenes flooded his mind, scents, touches of ruined flesh, dying bodies, all flooding back to him. As the memories passed, he hung there limply, tears streaming from his one good eye, muttering. "I'm so sorry, I tried, but I wasn't strong en--"

Quiet child, quiet. That is not the extent of the harm you have caused while captive to the thing.

Another glint of light shone off the many eyes of the spider before him, this time it was not memories that flashed in his mind, at least they were not his own. Getharn and Qoz, enraged at what he had become. Darba, drowning herself in alcohol. His family, hurt by his weakness. This time he merely hung there quietly, as tears fell from his face to the forest floor below.

Now ask yourself this: Why have I let you suffer? It should be clear that I can remove that taint from you, or end your life. So tell me, Shaman, why do you think I have let you live as you have? Never interfering until now?

Feren paused as he hung there, and regarded the enormous spider before him, his eye distant. Part of him wanted to spit out hateful things, harsh things like 'Because you enjoy seeing my torment?' , but he knew it wasn't the truth. Sighing deeply, he closed his eye, hanging his head. "I... I really do not know. I thought I did once, I thought I knew my purpose in your plans, but now, I am not so sure."

Then you have a reason to continue existing Tauren, to continue to fight against the thing within you, as well as your own doubt. And when you have figured it out, or when you think you have, then come back here, to this place, and seek me out in the children of these woods.

She moved forward, a massive glistening fang moving toward him, carefully severing the threads of webbing that held him aloft. He tumbled to the well below, landing beside his body.

Now back to the flesh, before the thing inside you awakens. You are still helpless, of course, but I have done what I will to draw your friends to you. Pray that they have not abandoned you.

The giant form before him shuttered suddenly, and dropped into thousands upon thousands of spiders, from the miniscule to the massive, and slipped away into the woods. A wave of power washed over him, and all went white as he was forced back into his own flesh.

Pain washed over him as he gasped, drawing in air, one lung still quite useless, the other burning with pain. His body still lay broken and ruined in the water of the Moonwell, but he was awake once more. How long had it been? How long since he had fallen here? He prayed that whatever means She had used to reach those he knew would work. He was indeed helpless here; mute, broken, and burning with the effect of the venom in his blood. Without help, he would pass from the flesh again, and this time, he was fairly certain that She would not be there to bind him in place, to keep the taint within him quiet.


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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2005 1:20 pm 
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Location: Hell, SW Branch Office (Southern California)
[I'm not thrilled with this, but... whatever. I've rewritten it a dozen times, this is the one I'm least displeased with.]

They had come, more than he had believed would, a few he never really suspected. It was Qoz's voice that pulled him from slumber; the mage had been calling out into the forest for him. As Feren pushed himself painfully up, his one-eyed gaze moved across each of them; Redearth and Getharn, Stargaze and Kauri, Darba, Qoz, and Prise.

Fear, worry, even distrust was painted on their faces as they regarded his broken body in the well. Clasping his hand over the hole in his throat, he forced his voice to find the. Airily he reassured them that it was indeed he, Feren, that controlled this body, the taint trapped within once more.

Those that could, called upon their magics, drawing power from the earth to heal his body. Bones mended, muscles knit, and painfully he was made nearly whole. As he found his voice again, he spoke; he tried to soothe the worry in their eyes, the distrust there, to ease the pain that he had caused them.

Getharn had been cut to the quick by his own inability to help, feeling good for little more than battle. How this very taint had been dealt with previously, when torn from within Darba, how it had required her passage and Feren's into the spirit world, by way of their brief deaths. He failed to close on the fact that he too had been called by Her, that it had been Her voice that drew him here, just like the others. Feren tried to ease his mind, reassuring him that he was needed, as were the others here this night.

Stubbornness, hurt feelings, broken trust. All flared, igniting anger and rage in some of those gathered. Blood rose, spurred by his frustration at the situation, and Feren fell again to the water. Though he only bore one scar, a missing eye, from this ordeal, and his body had been mended, he was terribly weak still.

More words came, trying again to calm and soothe those here, to push them toward the task at hand. A sense of urgency welled within him, fear that if he did not make haste in this task he would again falter and fall. He called each of them into the Moonwell; the means to be rid of this taint once and for all had been known to him for some time. Reluctance to call on the aid of others had led him to wait, and he had paid for his stubbornness. Enough waiting had been done, now he would be done with it.

Qoz and Prise, their powers as alien to Feren as his talk of the Earthmother seemed to be to them, were called upon to pour forth their energies into the waters of the Moonwell. Kauri, Stargaze and Darba, a trio of Druids drew upon their ties to nature and released that power into the water as well. Getharn, the lone Warrior in the group gave his rage to the water, a catalyzing force that would length strength, and an edge to the other energies now circling within the pure water. Lastly came Redearth's power. A Shaman, like Feren, her ability to call upon the elements would serve to draw all the milieu of energies in the water into a focused power, channeling it all through the power of the water itself.

Mustering what little strength still remained within his body, Feren threw down the totem of Water into the Moonwell's roiling surface. A lone eye sat wide, drawing in the scene about him, open to this realm and just beyond. At his feet trails of power swam together from each of those assembled here, the vibrant color of them as apparent to him as the feel of them against his skin. Cautiously he urged the spirit of the water to his aid, drawing the very power of the Earthmother up into his body. Fueled by the energies coalesced in the water, the power shot through him like a knife, seeking out the taint that clung to his very spirit. Painfully he could feel it excise the fouled thing that clung to his soul, tearing it from him, much as he had from Darba some time ago. Doubling over in pain, Feren pushed his hands out to stop him from hitting the floor of the Moonwell. Panting as the power ripped through him, dragging the infection from the spirit realm into the corporeal. Muscles tensed, his body heaving violently as it pushed a large black mass from within itself into the cleansing water below.

Shakily he stood, staring at the foul mass before him. Closing his eye, he drew now upon the edge of the power in the water; the rage he had once known intimately, given to him now by Getharn nearby. Turning it inward, he focused that power, calling on Fire with in, it fueled the gift granted to him originally to pull this very taint from another; to purify by means of destruction. Flame erupted about his hand, growing in intensity as he reached for the ichorous mass in the water. Pulling on the power all about him, the heat flared hotter still, the very water around his hand vaporizing as he grasped the tangled mass in the water. Fingers closed in tightly around it, white heat pulsing around his hand searing it, burning into the tainted thing as he tightened his hold. As his fingers met his palm, the thing about which he had closed it flared, turning first to ash, then that too vanished, utterly and completely burned up; destroyed.

"It... is... done..."

Almost as one they collapsed to varying degrees. The energies in the water quickly fled back to those from which they came. Feren knelt, spent, and grateful. He knew he would never adequately be able to thank them, and he wondered too, if he would really ever be able to explain to them just quite what had transpired.


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