Ghosts and Shadows by Ashagga

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Keeper Of Lore
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Ghosts and Shadows by Ashagga

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Ghosts and Shadows

Ashagga, November 26, 2006

In the tunnels of the Undercity's sewers, high above the moat of
phosphorescent slime that ringed the lower quarters, Ashagga
curled in a corner and wept. She had done it... she felt the same
as she always had, but she could see the spirits of life and
fertility shun her. She could see the dead place inside her when
she dared to look with her ruined eye.

Terrible sobs wracked her body, tears streaming from her good
eye. Chingaso. She'd done it. She'd freed them both, Chingaso and
herself. She could go on with her life, never fearing that she'd
become indebted to or dependent upon the one man she'd loved and
not merely used. He would have his honor, and she would have her
power. All it cost them both was their happiness.

He would move on. She knew he would. The orc woman who
interrupted the wedding, Chingaso's betrothed, was not
unattractive. She would make Chingaso forget, and in time the
feelings would fade. The thought of Chingaso and the orc woman
consummating their marriage, sharing the evening that she had
wanted, sent a knife of pain into her guts.


Ashagga stopped, her tears slowly ebbing as she peered about for
the speaker. Instinctively, she stepped back into the shadows,
letting their concealing embrace shield her from the eyes of an
intruder. Her swords were in her hands.

The shadows disgorged a second form, slender and delicate,
lacking muscle and sinew and meat where healthy, living women had
all of the above. At her side padded an animal, a beast on four
legs. Two serpentine tendrils rose above its shoulderblades, and
its eyeless head turned directly toward Ashagga.

"Daughter... come out where I can see you."

Ashagga swallowed nervously and stepped from the shadows, meeting
once more with the strange figure. "I di'n expect yer, especially

"I have done my part, and I have been granted access to these
hallowed halls once more. You have done your part as well, I

Ashagga nodded. "The ritual worked... I t'ink."

"It did. It bonded you with the spirits you sought. What have you

Ashagga tried not to consider what she'd lost. "I c'n see
spirits. I c'n see images, visions... omens, Yichimet says."

"Yichimet?" The figure spoke the name with a hint of longing.
"Yichimet the Elder."

"'E tol' me ter call 'im Brother."

The Forsaken smiled. "Yes, I imagine he would. What else?"

Ashagga shook her head. "I... I don' need herbs. Me blood..."

"Yes. The venom of the blood spirit now courses through your
veins. Be careful, for that does not distinguish between friend
or foe. Tell me, what have you done with your power?"

"I..." The wedding flashed through her mind, but Ashagga shook it
away. "I 'ave one of 'em. Dead."

"And the other?"

"I'll 'ave 'im soon enough. I c'n see where 'e goes, see the
protections 'e 'as."

"Take this." The figure held out a glowing red stone, knobbed and
rough. Ashagga took it gingerly. "It will aid you in banishing
his first line of defense."

Ashagga nodded and pocketed the stone. "Anyt'ing else?"

"Two things: First, your connection to the Dark Lady is now your
salvation. I recommend speaking with a priest about the
ramifications. A priest you can trust, a priest who will share
your words with no one."

Ashagga nodded. "Yichimet can..."

"NO!" The figure snarled, and the felhound at her feet raised its
hackles. "Yichimet is no priest. He would not... could not...
understand. Nor can your friend Lupen, nor could Syreena or
Chingaso. You must speak with a priest, a priest of the Dark
Lady, and a priest who will speak to no other. Trust me,
Ashagga... if your companions learned of exactly what you have
done, they will not be pleased."

Ashagga shuddered to consider her fate if the Grim decided she
was sufficiently dangerous. She remembered the conflict over
Warneshi. "You said there was two t'ings."

The figure turned to leave. "The second... do not wish them well
for me. I remember the Grim fondly at times, and I miss those I
have met, but for now... for now it is best I stay buried."

"Wait... that's all?"

"You must make your own way now, Ashagga. You have been granted
the gift. What you do with it is your choice."

Ashagga sat in the shadows of the sewers of Undercity long after
the dark Forsaken had departed.

"Why won' it work?!"

Ashagga, in her workshop in the Shadow Cleft, hurled a pile of
junk into a wall in a rage. The gyrochronatoms, iron struts,
bronze frameworks, and bronze gizmos smashed into the wall and
bent, broke, shattered, or just clattered to the ground. Ashagga
glared angrily at her most recent failure to craft a Mechanical

For the last few days, she'd been unable to concentrate. Who
could blame her? In the last month, she'd hanged herself, opened
her body to the spirits, almost married the man she loved, made
herself barren, and had a frank discussion with Yichimet wherein
she learned her family, the Grim, couldn't necessarily be trusted
with the truth of her situation.

She'd never felt so alone.

And yet, at the same time, she knew she wasn't. She could feel it
there, lingering, in the back of her mind. The Bringer. It was
bonded to her now, maybe forever, and the doors that opened made
her shake in terror. She was never truly alone, not anymore. It
was always there... waiting.

She blinked back frustration. Why couldn't she make it work?
She'd followed the schematics to the letter. She grabbed her
journal, where she kept all her engineering plans. It was there,
and she looked over the plans once more. Despite her scrawls, her
shorthand and her half-scribbled notes, she could easily see the
schematics. She'd followed them perfectly. Why wouldn't it work?

It wasn't just the dragonling. Her grenades only went off about
half the time, now. Her spyglass had cracked. Her mechanical
squirrel had bitten her. Everything she had touched, everything
she tried to make, just stopped working. Worse, she'd looked over
some of her old schematics, and she just couldn't make any sense
of them.

It was like something was eating her skill.

A sudden stab of pain at the base of her skull doubled her over
onto her worktable with a cry. She felt hands holding her
facedown on the cold surface, felt sharp bits of metal pressing
into her arms and torso. Her face was pressed against the curve
of a bronze tube. Cold, icy fingers tangled in her hair and
forced her to stay down.


Ashagga started to panic to kick and fight back, to no avail. She
felt easily a dozen or more hands on her arms, legs, back,
pinning her in place. She felt the chill lips of the Dark Queen
on her earlobe.

"You've been talking too much."

Ashagga jerked her head away, but the cruel grip on her hair
hauled it back, making her cry out, bringing tears to her eye.
Her head was turned to face the pale visage of the Banshee Queen.

"You are mine now, daughter... mine forever. I know every word
you have ever spoken, every dream you have ever had. I know all
your confidantes, all your allies. Do not make me kill them all
just to get to you. I have my own allies within the Grim."

Ashagga felt Sylvanus' tongue drag up her neck, and it was like
an icy knife slicing through her skin. She moaned in terror and
pain, and heard the Banshee laugh.

"Mine, Ashagga. Remember that."

With that, the hands and presence were gone, and Ashagga could
move once more. For long moments, she lay panting against the
table, sobbing. When she finally pulled herself up, she had to
pluck several small trinkets and gadgets from her skin, where
they had imbedded themselves.

As drops of blood fell from her tiny wounds, Ashagga watched in
confusion. Each drop landed on the table, not in a small puddle,
but in runes, each droplet forming one obviously magical symbol.

When her thoughts collected themselves, Ashagga grabbed her
journal and tore out the engineering pages hurriedly, scribbling
the new runes onto a blank page. She'd need to have these

In the Apothecary of the Undercity, in her borrowed lab, Ashagga
paced in front of a table filled with arcane formulae, beakers,
bubbling vials, and runes scrawled in blood. A half-shattered
bottle rested on the table, and her Thrash Blade was buried,
point-down, glimmering with arcane energy. Ashagga herself had
shed her normal leathers in favor of the black silk dress Frain
had made before her departure. It didn't make any sense. She was
no arcanologist, not like Pincus or Lupen, Grainger or
Regnanetah, but she knew this sort of thing didn't just happen.
One didn't utterly forget how to make machines work and suddenly
have one's blood form inexplicable runes when spilt. She didn't
understand how it worked, but it wasn't hard to determine why:
the Bringer.

She'd explained to Yichimet that the blood spirit bonded to her
was the Bringer, a potent death creature subject to the will of
the Banshee Queen... which meant Ashagga herself was now
similarly subject. Yichimet had posited that the Dark Lady wanted
someone who could see spirits as a servant, and Ashagga did not
disagree. She wasn't ready to follow that path, yet... and she
was no longer certain she disapproved of serving Sylvanus.

Then again, she couldn't discuss the situation with anyone. Her
closest friends wouldn't understand, and the rest of the Grim...
well, they might try to use her as a bargaining chip. Syreena
wouldn't fully understand... Ashagga didn't herself. Lupen, as
much as she liked him, would turn on her for a dirty copper.
Yichimet had already warned her. And Chingaso... ever since the
failed wedding, she'd seen the spirits around him. Spirits of
love and grief and honor and rage and pain... she knew he was
lost to her, at least for now. That loss grieved her.

She couldn't dwell on it. Left to her own devices as she was, she
had to find answers by herself, and so she'd borrowed a lab from
the R.A.S. and found some materials. So far, she'd categorized
three-hundred and sixty-nine distinct runes formed from droplets
of her blood. Moreover, she'd found thirteen of them and matched
them with names of ancient and dark spirits, culled from musty
tomes and grimoires. These spirits and their ilk were the bastard
children of the Great Old Gods, like C'Thun, scattered from
droplets of THEIR blood when they were felled in the mists of

She turned back to the table, where a head floated in a bell jar,
Jacob's Ladders arcing up either side of the glass. She leaned in
and tapped the glass, and the head opened its eyes.

Brog. She'd found him in an alley in Gadgetzan in a drunken
stupor, babbling about Blythe and his "others." She'd taken him
back to her lab, interrogated him with knives, acid, and
mind-altering poisons made from her newly infused blood until
he'd coughed up some form of story. Apparently, Blythe had
summoned something he couldn't entirely handle, and now it
controlled him, walking around in his body. Ashagga felt
sympathy, but not enough to let Brog live. She'd severed his

She'd been very surprised when he kept talking.

For a week, she'd studied him... or, at least, his head... and
she'd come to the conclusion that her blood was keeping him
animate. He wasn't alive in the traditional sense. He responded
to physical stimuli, but he spoke nonsense and didn't respond to
psychological stimuli. She kept being fascinated by her blood's

Suddenly, she stiffened, a jerk of her arm accidentally knocking
a beaker of green ooze onto the floor. Oh, Light. She knew... she
knew why Sylvanus wanted her. It had nothing, or maybe almost
nothing, to do with her ability to see spirits. Corrupting a
shaman would be simple, not worth the effort she had gone to for
Ashagga. Ashagga's blood could now wake the dead...

Sylvanus wanted her own army.
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Keeper Of Lore
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Re: Ghosts and Shadows by Ashagga

Unread post by Keeper Of Lore »


Rahauro smiled broadly when Yichimet stepped onto Elder Rise for
the first time in months. "The owl came with the message, but I
did not believe it, Grimtotem," he said to Yichimet. "I thought
to never see you again."

"After all that had happened with Hidua, I thought so too,"
Yichimet replied. "As you can see, I do not wear the Sorcerer's
Feathers. And with all that happened last time I spoke with
Magatha, I had hoped to leave this mad hunt behind and find other
paths to finish the long-ears."

"Yes. You still wear that tabard. Magatha keeps her ears to the
ground about that group. As always, she is maddeningly like the
cloud: I can see her thoughts move, but I cannot know what is
inside. I do not know how she feels about those people."

"She is expecting me," Yichimet said flatly.

"She is."

"We must talk after, then, Brother Rahauro. I have missed your
kind words."

Rahauro pulled aside the flap so Yichimet could enter the tent. A
waft of peacebloom smoke rolled out as he stepped in. He bowed
deeply to the Elder Crone Magatha Grimtotem, the one shu'halo who
might be able to tell him what he needed to know.

She eyed him just as Rahauro said: coldly, with nothing to hint
at her thoughts, no movement, no emotion, only the vague sense
that she followed the diverging future paths forward to find out
anything she could know about someone. "Rahauro said you would
come. I laughed at him, Clouded Eyes Sees," she said.

"As always, I am your servant," Yichimet replied, watching her

"He said you sent an owl that was not yours."

"Yes. Hidua's owl. The old Sorcerer is dead, as you know."

"And you do not wear the Feathers."

"I do not, as you know."

"Yes, I do know. He had such hopes with you."

"I am sorry for that."

"They need not be dead."

Yichimet tried to use her own medicine against her: a blank
stare, blank expression, no movement. Images flashes in his mind,
though. The peacebloom smoke was thick and choking. The burning
Great Tree, the demon fruit dropping from the branches.

"As I said, I am your servant." Yichimet bowed to hide his eyes.

"We will see," Magatha replied, maddeningly blank. "But that is
not why you are here."

"It is not. I think I have met a mosquoshunt." Yichimet watched
her face shrivel slightly as she peered at him with narrowed

"You lie."

"She performed a ritual in the rotten demon-woods. She hung from
a tree for seven days after she'd cut out her eye. She sees the
Spirits. She says a spirit is bound to her." Blank stare, blank
face, no emotion: do not let her see what you are hiding, he
thought. She doesn't need to know it all.

Her eyes narrowed further. "And what do you see when you look at
her, Clouded Eyes?"

"She is a hole in the world to me. I barely see her silhouette. I
don't think she lies."

"Then you are here to gloat to me?"

"I am here to ask how she can be rid of it."

"A spirit has entered her and she wants to be rid of it?" Magatha
cackled. "She is a member of your group? She wears that piece of
cloth too?"

"She does."

Magatha cackled harder. "This is what it is to be a Grim, then.
To hold power and to want it gone." She turned to a cross-pole
from which many small things hung, and reached up for a bundle of
a strange herb that Yichimet could not identify, a small woven
bag and a horn that again he could not name.

"But you. If you can do this, then your power is greater than I
thought." She handed him the three things and sat down again,
cross-hoofed. "Come back to me when you have done it."

Yichimet looked down at the pieces and knew he would get no more
information from the Crone. "As always, I am your servant," he
said as he bowed out of the tent. Rahauro looked at him, slightly
puzzled, and watched as Yichimet crossed the bridge off the Rise
without a word.


Lupen sat atop the cliffs of the Tainted Scar, nestled deep
within the Blasted Lands. His legs, still whole, but the skin
taut and a bit spotted, were crossed. Around him, numerous runes
of the Legion. He did not allow his blood to spill upon them, for
there was not yet a purpose for blood to be shed. Lupen turned
his head back and forth. First to his Dreadsteed, who stood
unwavering despite the stroms above, then to his Felhunter, who
remained alert and waiting for the slightest trace of life to
lash out at.

Lupen once again fingered into his Fire Runed Grimore, searching
for more knowledge. Each page more difficult to decipher and
translate than the previous, all written in Elemental. The
Warlock was a scholar, an intellecutal, each rune and letter
fasinated him beyond belief. The Grimore carried a taint near as
great as the land itself. Allusions to The Great Old Ones, the
Four Lieutenants, the minions thereof. Each rune he had seen
before, mostly in the Molten Core, but some elsewhere... Azshara
for example.

The Warlock stood up and brought the Dark Portal into his view,
the nightmares of the previous evenings flashed back into memory.
The world around him seemed to spiral, and then snap back into

The unimaginable, what Lupen had only felt twice before.

"Lupen... Come Lupen... Fufill your purpose. Use her." The voice


Images. Flashes. Nightmares.

A Forsaken with a glowing scythe, stalking the Grim halls,
collecting heads.

A rotting priest, clawing his way from the grave, spitting forth
dirt, maggots, and the laughter of the Dark Queen.

Two orcs wandering the Barrens, set upon by Blood Elves and
massacred, with Night elf weaponry left at the scene.

Chingaso atop the orc woman, his back flayed open by her talons.
Both are screaming, and over it all the sound of a wolf's howl.

In the market in Orgrimmar, orcs and trolls moved back and forth
between the bank and the auction house. A shadow blotted out the
sun, and the massive form of Varimathras, laughing, descended to
the sound of screams.

In a cave in Silithus, a bent Forsaken stood at the head of a
Twilight's Hammer ritual, and a shadowy form slowly began to
materialize within the circle.

Ashagga sat bolt upright, waking the troll beside her with a rude
snort. He pawed for a moment at her breasts, until she slapped
his hand away, and then he rolled over and went back to sleep.
Ashagga slipped from the bed without a sound, tugging on her

She knew where to find Blythe.
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