Not just a river in the desert

The stories and lives of the Grim. ((Roleplaying Stories and In Character Interactions))
Mirathendia
Member
Posts: 70

Re: Not just a river in the desert

Unread post by Mirathendia » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:36 pm

"Is this guilt? Like, is this what guilt feels like?" Tweezle looked at MechaBun 5000. The small mechanical rabbit cocked its head. "I don't particularly like it." Mechabun's nose-button twitched. Tweezle took a deep breath. "And there's no reason to be feeling it now. None. Absolutely not." Mirathendia Morrowblood was an adult, or whatever it was elves called themselves. She made a choice, went wherever she went and it wasn't Tweezle's fault that Mira hadn't come back. Or that Rilasuka hadn't come back, either.

Tweezle was really not used to feeling the way she currently felt.

"I told her." Tweezle said. MechaBun hopped from the gear-bin over to the schematic on the table in front of Tweezle. Tweezle patted it absently. No, not her fault at all. Certainly Mirathendia had heard what she'd said, had listened. Sure, there was nothing off about her, nothing unhinged, nothing that would lead Tweezle to think that Mira wouldn't listen. Except there'd been plenty off, and plenty unhinged.

And that's why Tweezle had spent so much time trying to figure out how to track something that shouldn't be trackable, and then building it, sending a veritable swarm of manabugs out to sniff for remnants of the power generated by the synthetic crystal she'd developed.

The synthetic crystal that should've still had power, but her manabug swarm seemed to be indicating otherwise.

Tweezle paced pack and forth in her workshop, MechaBun hopping the length of her workbench, waiting, then doubling back as she did. Behind MechaBun on the bench was the most intricate contraption Tweezle'd ever built--it was really actually very impressive and she'd love to rub it in Lanni Steamlocket's face, except that'd mean tracking her down, too, and Tweezle had better things to do--but it couldn't give Tweezle the answer that she was looking for. Where was Mirathendia Morrowblood?

Or, rather, it gave her an answer and she didn't like it much.

Borean Tundra.

Valiance Keep.

And no more pings from the goggles.

They had to've been drained--unlikely, that crystal could've powered her teleporter for longer than she'd be around to use it so there should be something--or destroyed. Neither possibility meant good things for Mira, though.

Tweezle took off her own goggles and rubbed her eyes, then rubbed her wrapped forearm. The amount of arcane energy and loose mana in the lab had gone from a pleasantly dirty tickle over her exposed skin to post-Theramore levels of overload--especially along the sigil on her arm--in spite of the wrap.

"Well." The last of the manabugs dropped into the huge jar and Tweezle flipped two switches, twisted the power-dial all the way to the left. The contraption shut down and her eras popped as her workshop felt like it sucked in a sudden sharp breath. "That's as good as it gets, I guess. Time to find some bigger guns and better trackers."
The Grim: Mirathendia Morrowblood | Tweezle Sparkscatter | Nahmiri
Blood Moon Rising: Rilasuka | Nethendia | Nahedrie | Merralynnia

Mirathendia
Member
Posts: 70

Re: Not just a river in the desert

Unread post by Mirathendia » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:37 pm

Rilasuka looked up at the imposing citadel. She'd not been to Northrend after she left Draenor with Mirathendia. She'd not seen Icecrown. A shiver went through her that was from more than the frosted air caught in the chasm below and howling a warning.

The rogue seemed amused. "Just a small fortress."

Rilasuka snorted, ignored the feverish heat that chased the wind's chill away.

"You're sure they came this way?"

Rilasuka nodded. Tracking through the snow was no small task, with ghouls and geists and massive frost giants all churning the snow in addition to smaller beasts. At least this trail had been less erratic than Mirathendia's path from the manor. There were no impossible jumps, no abrupt loss of a trail that took hours upon hours to find again. Now, when the trail was lost it was in a churned and re-filled patch of snow. This was a slow, but purposeful path in hindsight: two horses churning the snow toward the citadel.

Ahead of them, Narath shook himself, then bounded forward. "He's caught her scent again."

Relief surged with the wolf's movements. The time he'd dug through the snow, she'd feared what he might find, but there'd been no frozen corpse, just a false trail.

"Not the main gates." The rogue sounded irritated? Relieved? Rilasuka couldn't read the human. The throb at her hip remained as a reminder of that.

Rilasuka looked up the chasm to the snow-capped battering ram, abandoned at some point in the past. "Mmm. Are there side entrances, then?"

"I know of one."

And Narath lead them to it. The rogue shook her head. "Forge of Souls." She turned from the entrance, looked at Rilasuka. "This is where we part ways, orc."

Rilasuka flexed her hands, tried to get feeling back into her frozen fingers. "You wanted to find her."

The rogue nodded. "But not badly enough to go unprepared into Icecrown Citadel with a reluctant ally."

Ally. Rilasuka snorted. "We are not allies, human."

"See what I mean?" The rogue shook her head. "I know people who'd throw all or nothing on odds like this. I'm not one of them."

"So you'll leave me here?"

"Don't worry. I won't leave you to die here. Not by my hand, at least." The rogue's fingers dipped into the pouch at her hip. Shep lucked out a vial, tossed it toward Rilasuka. "As promised."

Rilasuka caught the vial and then nearly dropped it. She let go of her wolf's reins and setadied the vial, then opened it and sniffed. She wrinkled her nose; it smelled foul enough that it could be another poison.

The rogue smiled. "I could prove to you that it's safe."

Rilasuka looked from the vial to the rogue. "But you won't."

"Life's always a gamble, hmm?" She brought her horse around. "Through the forge is a saronite pit. I wouldn't touch the saronite. There are other entrances to the main citadel from there."

"Is there a prison?"

The rogue laughed. "This whole place is a prison filled with plague and death, bodies chained to life long after they should have rotted to nothing."

"Where would they keep her?"

The rogue bowed her head, then shrugged. "I'd say it depends on why she's there. Whether she walked in willingly or no."

"You're curious."

"Not curious enough to do something this stupid." The rogue looked up, shook her head. "There's not enough money in the Stormwind coffers to make sating that curiosity worth my while. Not like this. If she's in there, she's dead one way or another and my job's done."

Rilasuka lifted the vial, tilted her head back and poured the contents onto her tongue. The liquid was thick, syrupy, but bitter. Nothing at all like the sweetness that Mirathendia drizzled over pastries at breakfast.

"Good luck, orc." The human's horse stepped forward, then stopped. "Oh, you, uh, might want this, too." She tossed something smaller than the vial. The arc was bad and it fell far short. There was a small thunk, then the clattering of horse-hooves as the rogue rode away.

Rilasuka slid down from her warwolf. Her muscles still ached from the rogue's poison, but the burn had eased up. Narath padded over, snuffled around where the object had landed. Rilasuka walked over, found her hearthstone and picked it up.
The Grim: Mirathendia Morrowblood | Tweezle Sparkscatter | Nahmiri
Blood Moon Rising: Rilasuka | Nethendia | Nahedrie | Merralynnia

Mirathendia
Member
Posts: 70

Re: Not just a river in the desert

Unread post by Mirathendia » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:37 pm

There is work yet to do. The words came like a nightmare, cut into the silence that surrounded her.

Mirathendia watched herself from far away, emptied of Light and hollowed out to be a vessel for something else. She watched herself walk past ghoulish workers, pause and give a silent order to one, a puppet for someone else.

She closed her eyes. That couldn't be her. She was dead, and in death there was silence.
The Grim: Mirathendia Morrowblood | Tweezle Sparkscatter | Nahmiri
Blood Moon Rising: Rilasuka | Nethendia | Nahedrie | Merralynnia

Mirathendia
Member
Posts: 70

Re: Not just a river in the desert

Unread post by Mirathendia » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:40 pm

Tweezle looked over the list she'd scribbled and bit back the resentment that she hadn't been able to science her way to a solution. She was an engineer, an alchemist, a mage. And it stung to admit that she hadn't been able to cut it as a detective.

Her hearthstone hummed at the other side of the workbench and a voice came over it. "I've tracked Mirathendia to Icecrown. I'm going into the citadel."

Tweezle knew that voice. "Shoulders?" She stretched across the workbench and snatched up her hearthstone. "Shoulders, what are you doing?"

She waited for a response but got nothing but the arcane hum of the stone.

"Shoulders, are you nuts? You better not be going in there alone." Still no response from the orc. "Look, that dog of yours doesn't count as backup."

The hum of the hearthstone seemed entirely too loud in her workshop.

"Icecrown Citadel." Tweezle took her goggles off, rubbed her face and pressed her knuckles against her closed eyelids. "What'm I supposed t'do with that?"

Tweezles left her goggles and her hearthstone on the workbench, paced up and down the length of the workshop from the lift to the still and back. Out the corner of her eye she caught sight of elementals trying to coalesce and she snapped, "Back off. I'm thinkin'."

~***~

"You want me to what? For nothin'?"

Tweezle stared at Khorb, sighed. "No, of course not for nothin', what'd'ya think I am?"

Khorb grinned. "A goblin."

Tweezle sighed, flopped down into the uncomfortable chair across from the warlock. "Guilty as charged. C'mon. I c'n grease the wheels in a couple 'a places for ya."

"You think I can't grease my own wheels?" He looked offended.

"With that kind of company?" Tweezle gestured toward the huge felguard. "Definitely not."

"A goblin's gotta have some muscle."

"He's got the brawn, you've got the brains."

"You know it."

"I was being sarcastic." Tweezle wrinkled her nose. "C'mon, Khorb." She leaned forward, adjusted her goggles, raising them up to her hairline. "You know you wanna."

"Oh no. No no no no. Yer not gonna get me that way, put those back on. I'll do it. But you owe me and that IOU is gonna be blood-sealed."

Blood-sealed. He was so dramatic. "Fine."

Khorbn wrote up the IOU in green, glimmering ink then passed her the quill and the parchment, then offered her a knife handle-first.

Tweezle read through the IOU. It was oddly forthright while being completely vague.
I owe Khorb. Big Time. Favor to be detailed and called in at a future date. And I'm totally gonna pay up or else.
"Go on."

Tweezle looked at the empty space where she was supposed to sign it. "I'm doin' it. I'm doin' it. This ain't my first rodeo, y'know." She took the knife, hissed as she sliced open the pad of her thumb.

"Sissy."

"Shut up."

Khorb tapped his foot against the floor.

"I'm doin' it." Tweezle glared at him, then pressed the tip of the quill to the cut on her thumb. The quill fed itself on her blood and the fel-tinged ink stung. She glared at Khorb as she signed the parchment and shoved it back at him. "There, y'happy?"

"Pleasure doin' business with ya."

Tweezle resisted the urge to suck on her thumb to ease the sting. Last thing she needed was a mouthful of blood and fel. She wrapped a bandage around her thumb, said, "Whatever," and left Khorb's room in the Row to track down some more canon fodder.

Maybe they wouldn't be canon fodder. "Bah, who am I kiddin?" Chances were good that someone wasn't gonna come back from this, and she was pretty sure that she was going to be that someone. That was the only reason she'd signed Khorb's contract. "Imagine, owing that little shit something completely unspecified and having that hanging over me. No thank you."

If someone was gonna have to die to bring Mirathendia and Shoulders back, it was gonna be her. "I gotta be outta my mind."
The Grim: Mirathendia Morrowblood | Tweezle Sparkscatter | Nahmiri
Blood Moon Rising: Rilasuka | Nethendia | Nahedrie | Merralynnia

Mirathendia
Member
Posts: 70

Re: Not just a river in the desert

Unread post by Mirathendia » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:40 pm

Mirathendia strode into the high-ceilinged hall, several rows of undead warriors behind her. She was changed, and yet Rilasuka would know her anywhere. The shape of her mouth, the curve of her jaw. The way she stood, grounded and yet ready to spring.

Narath growled, but remained at Rilasuka's side. She kept her last arrow nocked and the bowstring taut. THe muscles in her shoulders and back and arms trembled.

"You're dying." Mira's whisper was ragged and somehow filled the massive hall, her tone full of poison and ice and death. There was no warmth there, no light in her eyes. No Light in her at all.

Rilasuka swallowed, shook her head. She tried not to think about the rogue's poison and her wounds, about the blood in Narath's fur, about the warwolf who'd sacrificed herself in the saronite pit. There would be time for all of that later.

"You are." Mirathendia cocked her head to one side, looked Rilasuka over. "Slowly if you turn around and leave the way you came here, or quickly if you do not."

"I'm not leaving you here."

Mirathendia unsheathed her axe. "Quickly, then."

The undead behind Mirathendia started forward. Narath growled and leapt toward the line of skeletons and ghouls.

"I did not leave you in Draenor." Rilasuka's muscles burned. She took in the possible weak points in her beloved's armor. "I will not leave you here."

The smile that pulled Mirathendia's lips was unnatural and vicious. She let out an unholy cry, like a banshee's wail, and charged.

Rilasuka changed her aim, let loose her last arrow and felled the shambler coming up on Narath. She threw her bow to the side and swung her polearm around.

Mirathendia was relentless in her swings and Rilasuka focused on blocking them or knocking them to the side, on defending herself. "You don't have to fight me." Rilasuka gasped for air, focused on her foot, keeping herself balanced, centered, her feet where they needed to be.

"I do." Mirathendia swung again.

Rilasuka's body shuddered as she blocked again, her bones thrumming with absorbed energy. "I'm not going to leave you, beloved."

Another shrill cry echoed through the hall and Mirathendia pressed harder.
The Grim: Mirathendia Morrowblood | Tweezle Sparkscatter | Nahmiri
Blood Moon Rising: Rilasuka | Nethendia | Nahedrie | Merralynnia

Mirathendia
Member
Posts: 70

Re: Not just a river in the desert

Unread post by Mirathendia » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:41 pm

Tweezle was up to her pointy ears in IOUs by the time the airship angled toward Icecrown Citadel. "They start shootin' and we're leavin’."

"Yeah, sure." Tweezle pointed at an empty balcony. "Drop us off there."

The small airship nestled up against the balcony. "Good luck, boss."

Tweezle made a face at the airship captain. "Thanks." A gargoyle screamed somewhere overhead and a massive winged shadow blocked the sun from them for a moment. Tweezle, glanced up against her better judgement, saw the frostwyrm and said, "Now get outta here."

"Don't need to tell me twice." The airship left her, Khorb, Nahmiri, and Nethendia standing on the balcony.

"Where we gon' from here?" Nahmiri unstrapped her shield from her back.

Tweezle turned on her hastily constructed Void Tracker Mk2, boosted the power as much as she felt like she safely could, then faced the entrance and swept it in an arc. It beeped softly. "That way, I guess."

They followed the tracker into the citadel and down, taking out small packs of geists and ghouls as they went.

"Awful quiet, don't'cha'think?" Khorb looked behind them, then through the archway that lead to the saronite pits.

"Never point out the silence." Nethendia looked behind them then said, "We're going to regret it."

~***~

A patrol came down the hallway as they followed the beeps and blips from the VT Mk2. They dispatched the three ghouls, and then came face to face with another. Each swerve of direction, each new patrol, slowly forced the group through the citadel and eventually outside into the open.

Gargoyles swooped over head and a skeletal gryphon dropped a saronite bomb. They scattered, then regrouped and there were more undead.

Every time they cut a group down, there were more. A saronite-tipped arrow whizzed past Tweezle and she yelped, ice solidifying around her. A second arrow bounced off the frozen barrier.

The pitworkers were coming up, too, holding picks and chains. A plagued proto-drake ferried in vrykul warriors, their skins blue and frosty in death.

There were too many undead. Far too many.

Nahmiri braced herself and a half-dozen geists bounced off of it. Golden light flared around her and the undead hissed, squealed, then flung their injured bodies at her again.

How were there that many of them in there?

Nethendia’s glaives glinted, flashed off of bone and steel and saronite. The flames in her eyes were unbearably bright.

A vrykul dropped right in front of Tweezle and she activated her rocket boots, but not fast enough. Her movement was propelled by the boosters and the swing of the heavy mace the vrykul wielded. She landed heavily and gasped for breath.

Heavy footsteps came toward her and she scattered backwards, toward the only entrance that wasn't funneling undead out into the pits toward them, which meant she was probably heading towards a trap.

She threw a small rain of frost between incoming undead and Khorb. His demons were piled upon by undead almost as soon as they came through from the twisting nether.

"FINE!" Khorb's voice echoed across the pit. "I didn't wanna do this, but..." He pulled a contract from his robe, tore it in half, then in half again, and again. "I'M CALLIN' IT IN!"

For a moment, nothing changed and then a rip in reality opened up and a voice boomed out, "YOU FACE NOT MALCHEZAAR ALONE, BUT THE LEGIONS I COMMAND!"
“GO GET ‘EM BIG GUY. THEY DID IT.” Khorb pointed at the undead.

Tweezle's heart beat faster. She looked frantically from the shape emerging from the rift into the twisting nether to Khorb. "What did you just do?"

"I don't wanna talk about it." He threw a bolt of felflame at an undead as a meteor dropped into the center of the saronite pit and uncurled into a massive infernal.

Nahmiri slammed her shield into an undead vrykul, then flung herself out of the way of another incoming meteor. She rolled, stood up and said, "We gon' die."

"That's what I was trying to STOP."

The stream of undead from the entrances had slowed to a trickle. They flung themselves at infernals and Malchezaar both.

"We, uh. We better get outta here." Khorb threw another demonbolt.

Nahmiri said, "Looks like he be winnin'."

"AND THAT'S THE PROBLEM."

Tweezle looked behind her. That entrance remained empty. "All right, c'mon, this way."

"Do ya' tink dey be dat way?"

"Do you wanna try one of the other doors?" Tweezle gestured toward the arch they came through which was packed with geists. A gargoyle swooped past another entrance.

"I think the gnome's right." Nethenidia stared intently at the archway behind Tweezle as if she could see something the rest of them couldn't.

"Goblin, thankyouverymuch. And I will remember that."
The Grim: Mirathendia Morrowblood | Tweezle Sparkscatter | Nahmiri
Blood Moon Rising: Rilasuka | Nethendia | Nahedrie | Merralynnia

Mirathendia
Member
Posts: 70

Re: Not just a river in the desert

Unread post by Mirathendia » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:42 pm

Mirathendia stood with her axe at the hunter's neck. The blade hummed and sang the way the metal in the saronite pits did. After so many blows, it hungered for a bite of flesh, for a taste of blood, and it was being denied. So close, so very close, the orc's pulse right there. Mirathendia looked down at the orc. She should have stayed home. Should have stayed in Draenor. Should have lived a life full of sunlight and warmth.

Prove yourself to me.

"I didn't stay behind," the orc whispered, "because I did not want a life without you in it."

Mirathendia touched the blade of her axe to the orc's skin.

Be what you are meant to be.

"I still do not want a life without you in it." The orc raised her head defiantly. "So if you are truly gone, my sunlight, my warmth, then--" She stopped, eyes widening.

Finish it.
The Grim: Mirathendia Morrowblood | Tweezle Sparkscatter | Nahmiri
Blood Moon Rising: Rilasuka | Nethendia | Nahedrie | Merralynnia

Mirathendia
Member
Posts: 70

Re: Not just a river in the desert

Unread post by Mirathendia » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:43 pm

Rilasuka knocked the huge axe aside and forced herself up from the ground, spinning around to put her body between the incoming spike of ice and Mirathendia.

"Shoulders!" Tweezle stared helplessly as the orc fell to her knees. Rilasuka's shoulder was fash-frozen and the glacial shard had opened up a huge gash through armor and flesh, froze the orc's blood before it could pour out. "Why y'gonna go and do something like that, you big lunk?"

"Ri?" Mirathendia's voice was a hoarse whisper. Her axe clattered to the ground and she knelt beside Rilasuka. "Ri, no." She put her hand over the orc's shoulder and then let out an anguished cry.

The undead surrounding them paused, as if no longer certain of their orders.

Khorb shouted at his felguard, "I don't care what you want, just do it," and the felguard rushed Mirathendia. She didn't resist as the demon wrenched her up and away from Rilasuka. He pinned her arms behind her back and held her tightly.

"Y'gonna just stand there, or are y'gonna get us out of here? Can't say I'm enjoying the view much and need I remind you who's back that way?" Khorb's sharp criticism came along with another trip of imps who flung felfire at the stunned undead.

Tweezle shook herself. "Right." She flipped a switch on her hand-held controller. Back in the lab, the teleporter beacon would be firing up. She pulled at arcane energies and opened up a portal directly to her lab. "Time t'go."

Nahmiri swung her shield over her back and sheathed her sword, strode over to the fallen orc. Narath growled and Nahmiri held out a hand, said, "I ain'gonna hurt y'mistress." Narath sniffed the troll's hand, then turned his back on her. She let out a grunt and picked up Rilasuka. "Not gon' leave either of ya' here."

The undead started to shift, as if waking up. "C'mon, c'mon," Tweezle shouted.

Khorbo was through the portal almost immediately, his imps close on his hem. The felguard wrangled Mirathendia through, her axe strapped across his back.

Nahmiri staggered through the portal with Rilasuka and the wounded wolf followed, his silver-grey coat stained with blood and ichor.

Nethendia stood massive and unsettling between Tweezle and the skeletal warriors.

"Hey, Horns! Go time! C'mon."

Nethendia's wings spread and she leapt up, bathed shamblers and ghouls in purple-green flame, then spun around and dashed for the portal.

In the distance, Malchezaar bellowed, "All realities, all dimensions are open to me!" He sounded a lot closer than he was before. Tweezle stepped through the portal. Arcane energy prickled over her sin and made shapes at the edge of her peripheral vision. Yep, they were still out there, and still mad, but she'd worry about that later.

The portal snapped shut behind her and the first thing Tweezle heard was Khorb saying, "Hey hey, I was using that!"

Nethendia, now smaller and less demonic than when she'd launched herself through the portal, had fallen on one of Khorb's imps and appeared to be, well, snacking would've been a polite way to describe it. She looked up at him, felflame flickering in her eye sockets. "And now I am. Deal with it."

Khorbn held his hands up and backed away. "Fine. Fine. All yours. On the house." Eh shuddered, turned to Tweezle. "You done with me? I've got people to do, places to be." He looked down at himself. "A new robe to buy and I'm adding that to your tab."

"Y'wanna leave me your muscle for a little bit?" She jerked her head toward the felguard who was still holding an unresisting Mirathendia.

"No, I do not want to leave you my muscle. Especially if that one's sticking around." Khorb pointed at Nethendia who was wiping the back of her hand across her mouth as she eyed the felguard. The imp was nowhere to be seen.

Tweezle sighed. "Fine. Put her in there for now." Tweezle waved toward the left side of the transporter pad. "And don't ask why I've got an arcane cage."

The felguard deposited Mirathendia unceremoniously into the cage and walked back out. Tweezle gestured absently and the cage closed, arcane locks sealing it that way until she could figure out if Mira was still a danger to anyone. Well, to anyone other than herself. She looked at Nahmiri. "Take Shoulders upstairs. I know a guy who can probably handle that. I hope."

"I gon' handle it f'now," Nahmiri said. "An' da wolf."

"Great. Lift's that way. Make a left, then a right. Through the curtains. I'll just..." Tweezle walked over to the still. Her hand hovered over a small shot-sized glass, then she picked up a mug, filled it halfway from the still. "Anyone else?"

Khorb produced a flask from somewhere in his robe, tossed it to her. She filled it, tossed it back, and he said, "Don't pretend that's payment, either."

Tweezle sighed. "Wouldn't dream of it." Though she had hoped.

Khorb nodded. "Pleasure doin' business with ya'." And then he and his demon entourage were gone.

Tweezle sipped from the mug and shuddered.

"What now?" Nethendia's voice was sharp and closer than Tweezle expected it to be.

Tweezle looked over her shoulder into the demon hunter's unsettling lack of eyes. "I have no idea."
The Grim: Mirathendia Morrowblood | Tweezle Sparkscatter | Nahmiri
Blood Moon Rising: Rilasuka | Nethendia | Nahedrie | Merralynnia

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