Pinpricks of light broke the curtain of darkness above, an infinite number of stars arranged by the makers. Elune hung high, her face half full. In the waters below their mirrored image rippled with the waves. Vaelenne sighed as she stared down at Elune's reflection, and the dull ache in her heart sharpened for a moment. Was this the right course? She thought back often to her discussion with Sister Moonflower, to the words she had spoken against the stubborn defense of their homelands, against vengeance for Teldrassil.
Her eyes shifted, cast to the reflection of her own face, leaning over the railing of the creaking vessel. A beautiful woman by some regards.. the fate she had prayed for most as a child. Why then was she so miserable? Be it a trick of light, water, or imagination, she swore her reflection showed her old self for a moment. She stared into the silvery eyes and the young, impassive face, and brought a hand to her cheek The boat broke a larger crest, and the image washed away, replaced by her true reflection when the waters settled.
The ache sharpened again, and not for the first time she asked herself: 'Who am I?'
Elune had no answer for her, and she certainly had none for herself. She wished that she could hear the voices like other Ren'dorei did. At least it would be something to break up her own thoughts.
She pulled her travel cloak tighter around her, and headed for the cabin she had booked with her passage. The space was cozy, though not cramped. A small writing desk was bolted to the floor in one corner, while a comfortable bed was anchored across from it. Fastened wall lamps cast illumination evenly, filling the space with a warm glow. A single small window gave a view out over the waves, which drew her attention for a moment while she removed the travel cloak and hung it from the hook on the wall. Her other things remained in the travel trunk at the foot of her bed- secured by a measure of rope to the bed frame to prevent movement In pitched seas.
She sat at the edge of the bed and pulled her gloves off, placing them carefully on the trunk's lid. She lazily rubbed her hands together as if trying to chase feeling or warmth back into them, but neither was likely. She unlaced her fingers, and placed two against the visible vein at her wrist. She waited. Nothing. The corners of her mouth tugged downward slightly.
She had never given it much thought before. Her transition into the life. The circumstances behind her possession of this body. She had adapted, moved on, there were greater threats to face.
Then she heard word of Magister Umbric's use of the void to reanimate creatures on the far off shores of Zandalar. Simple beasts imbued with enough void energy to reanimate their bodies for a time.
'Am I the same?' she had wondered at the news. The events replayed in her head over and over, her battle with Vaelenne when she had still been called Irethrien. She had utterly broken the woman's mind.. but her former body had been destroyed wholly in the process. Drifting, dying, the spirit latched on to the nearest lifeline. A living body. But what if it had not been living?
She let her head fall into her hands, the heel of her palms pressing into her sockets as raven tresses fell around her. She was used to a lack of sensations, growing up veiled in the void had deadened Irethrien to such things before he was full grown. But with the revelation of the Light in Vaelenne's memories, by touching that font of power, she had reclaimed some sensation. Felt the wind on her face, the warmth of the Feralas air, brushing her fingers over a thousand things she had never felt before, unable to find words for textures she had never known.
It was said that the Forsaken experienced such things as well, when using the Light. Was she like them?
A vision of the banshee queen and her dead legions flashed in her mind, with her standing among them. She pushed the image away, her thoughts turning again to prayers to Elune.
A knock that tried to be gentle but fell short came at her cabin door, pulling her from her thoughts. Outside, light limned fog surrounded the ship. How long had she been...? What had she been doing? She tried to recall, but she could not.
“Priestess, We've arrived.” a deep gravely voice came from the other side of the door. Donoven Bradley, a seasoned Kul Tiran sailor.
“Thank you, Captain.” she replied, “I will be on deck shortly.”
“Of course, ma'am.” The heavy thud of boots carried him away from the door.
She pulled her gloves back on, and stood to leave the cabin. On the desk lay her journal- where she had logged all of her travels so far. This journey was the culmination of her research in Kul Tiras, and though she would have desired the company of the Collective, she would not risk their lives in this.
She made to close the book, and dislodged a page that had been torn free. She picked it up and looked at the words scrawled upon it. They were in her own hand, but she did not recall writing them.
I have come to the place where nothing belongs. V.S.
She stared at the words for a moment, and the coordinates that followed them, then folded the paper crisply in half and tucked it back into the journal. She tugged her gloves on and pulled her travel cloak from the hook to don it.
When she joined the captain on the deck, it was nearly impossible to make out the spit of land that was their destination. Somewhere high above the sun cast light down, so at least she knew it was day.
“This is as close as we can get, m'lady.” the captain spoke, noting her presence. “The lads've prepared you a dinghy to reach the shore, and one of them will see you to shore, though they won't disembark with ya.”
“Of course. Thank you, Captain. You and your crew have been most helpful. I do hope your journey back to Boralus is a safe one.”
“Pardon, ma'am?” the captain's brows rose as his face screwed up in a lack of understanding. “Aren't we making the trip together?”
“No, Captain.” She looked back at him, “Once I have reached the shore, I would like you and your crew to return safely home.. and find the first courier you can. Have them send this to the Kalimdor Collective- to Telrien Rainwhisper.
She pulled the folded parchment from her journal, as well as another envelope she had sealed early in their journey. “And the letter is to go to Priestess Arilyne Moonflower.”
The captain took the two pieces of parchment, and nodded. “Of... course, ma'am. As you say.” He tucked them into the breast pocket of his heavy coat, and tipped his tricorn to her.
She nodded in turn and made for the waiting dinghy. Once aboard and lowered to the water, the man- barely past being a boy, she thought, took the oars and set them towards the rocky shore ahead.
Several times, rocks scraped the bottom of the boat. She knew now why the larger ship could get no closer. They were still quite a distance from dry land when the dinghy could go no further, and Vaelenne was forced to leave the boat and trudge through knee high waters to the shore. She bid the boy farewell and a safe journey, and trudged on.
Though it had been daylight, the moment her boot struck the soil of the rocky island, the sky went dark and the stars hung above, Elune's pale face was full, and a circle of crimson stars that seemed to wreath the island from above.
Though they had been impossible to see from the boat, with the fog lifted she could see buildings dotted the island. Some closer to the shore looked as if they were crumbling, but as she made her way towards the interior, they stood as pristine as they day they were built. Ancient elven structures, by the look of them. She didn't recognize the runic carvings, but she recognized the power they hummed with. The void. Surely once arcane in nature, they were no longer.
Weapons and armor sat in racks within some of the homes- both ancient and modern, and she wondered how they had come to be here. A massive central amphitheater stood at the heart of the island, and around it in the seats were various figures. All stared with vacant eyes towards the beautifully carved well at the center. Kaldorei of various ages sat in silence- some garbed in vestments of the priesthood, others in sentinel garb, druidic trappings or magisterial robes. None payed her mind as she passed, approaching the well.
Around the rim of the well more runes had been carved, but the meaning of the ancient kaldorei writing was lost on her. She had never learned it. The letters hummed softly with power as she approached, and instinctively she drew up her cloak of shadows as she leaned over the edge to peer into the well. She reached out to the surface of the water inside, inky black and rippling with the currents of the void. She felt the overwhelming cold of the void, the chill of plunging into water, and the deafness that came with submersion, and in the distance far below she could see pinpricks of light.
I have come to the place where Nothings belong.
It's not about the puns you make, it's about the friends who stay to groan at them.
#14018220 Apr 06, 2019 at 04:53 PM · Edited 2 months ago
Darkness. The crushing press of water all around her. Silence.
And then eyes. So many eyes. Thousands, staring, unblinking.
The world in shadow. All life unmade.
She sat up beside the well, heart racing, each beat sending an ache through her body. How long had she been out?
The night sky was crystal clear above, and Elune lit the island in her pale glow.
Vaelenne stood, checking herself over for injuries. None were apparent. Then she heard it. The quiet shushing of movement. It caught her eyes from behind one of the ruins. A serpentine figure. Another. Another. Three naga approached from the ruins, weapons raised. Now she knew where the signs of life around the island had come from. She raised her veil of shadow and struck two down with an assault of void energy, feeling the sparks of light burning within her in protest.
The third, a woman clutching a spell focus and a dagger, slithered forward. “Curiousssss...” she hissed, and in an instant the void had veiled her as well. “You will be fun to play with.” A raspy laugh escaped her lips as she reached two of her hands out towards Vaelenne, and unleashed a torrent of void energy.
Vaelenne raised a shield of Light, the sparks searing to life as the void energy crashed against her barrier, writhing and coiling around the barrier.
“Oh? Even more curiousss... Let'sss ssssee how long until you crack, young one.” She brought her lower hands forward, unleashing another burst of void magic at the already besieged ren'dorei.
The shield of light shattered, and she cried out as the void washed over her, hurling her from her feet. The shards sent rippling waves of pain through her body as she tried to call another shield into existence around her. It didn't even finish materializing before it shattered. The naga slithered closer, relenting her assault for a moment. “You are...ssstrange. Your magic ssstinks of the accursssed light.”
Vaelenne stirred, pushing herself to her hands and knees.
“It weakensss you, young one. Give in to the whisssspersss of the void, into the massster'ssss embrace!” A renewed assault of void energy bit at her mind.
This naga was nothing. It should be no challenge to sweep it aside. She had faced dozens of followers of the Old Ones before. Far stronger than this one priestess.
“She's right.” a voice came, a young sin'dorei girl stood at her side. “You're going to die here.” a young kaldorei boy added.
“Wandering lost and broken you latched onto the first thing you could find. My light. Broken and minuscule as it was.” “Clinging to the light you stopped thinking for yourself, and waited for it to show you the way.”
“You wear my form, carry my power, but lack my heart.” “You bear my soul, carry my power, but lack my faith.” the two spoke in turn, and Vaelenne felt the truth of their words. Of the thoughts she had been pushing down for so long.
She was lost. She had forgotten who she was. Forgotten her purpose. She had fought for others, before. For Azeroth. For the Collective. She had faith in her Goddess, but more so she had faith in herself.
“You've seen what's coming,” the girl said, placing a hand on her shoulder. “They still need you.” The boy placed a hand on her other shoulder.
“Get up!” They spoke in unison.
“Get UP!” she heard, their voices joined in chorus by myriad voices from the Collective.
A scream escaped her lips as she reached out to the fragments of the Light within her soul, and grasped them firmly, feeling the heat burning every inch of her being. She opened herself to the void, letting it flow freely. The burning intensity of the Light faded, and she could feel the restorative energy of the void purging the aches and pains from her body, from the ceaseless burning that the connection to the Light had provided.
The naga recoiled as the ren'dorei was consumed by void, and slithered several paces back, her own assault broken by the display as waves of void energy poured from the elf.
“You were right.” Vaelenne spoke, “I was weak. I was lost.” Her eyes rose to meet the naga's. “Not anymore.” She didn't even raise a hand, the energy of her void shroud shifted, and a bolt of void energy launched from it at the naga, driving her back.
The naga hissed and raged as it struggled to recover. A tendril of shadow reached from the cloak to latch onto the naga, who began screaming in agony. Vaelenne approached, looming over her.
“I am Vaelenne Starshade, daughter of stars and blood, and I will not be a puppet any longer.” She raised a hand, and latched on to the naga's mind. With a push of her will, the naga shrieked high and sharp as its body writhed and lashed for a moment before going silent and still. She looked down at the corpse for a moment, before relaxing. The shroud of void energy roiled around her, and she bathed in it for a moment like greeting an old friend. Her eyes turned up to the face of Elune high above.
It was time to go.
With a gesture she opened a void rift and stepped through.
It's not about the puns you make, it's about the friends who stay to groan at them.