October 21, 2012 3 Comments
“Give up now, there is no point in resisting. It is all over.” echoed a voice, cackling in gleeful malevolence. It seemed to come from right behind his forehead which made no sense.
“Don’t give into despair, you’ll make it real. This land, it takes what you feel and makes it real.” a gentle reminder mentioned in passing by a gentle soul, what seemed a lifetime ago.
He knew that he was on the other side of a substantial metal door. He knew that because before being thrown in this room his captors had slammed his face into it and he had tasted it in the coppery taste of his own blood. He had been half carried, half dragged by these monstrous bipedals down ramps and flights of stairs. After flinging him in headfirst, they’d given him a few choice kicks in the ribs before departing.
He could have understood their anger towards him. He had cut a few of them down before being taken. But it wasn’t that they were angry. They were just callously cruel. Like schoolyard bullies ripping the wings off butterflies. They weren’t hitting him out of anger.. this is who they were. They only respected power. And those they perceived to be powerless… well they didn’t think much about them at all.
Lorewalker Cho’s tale of the Pandaren uprising floated up from his jumbled up thoughts. He could now see just how much courage the first slave to stand up to them must have had. Or how desperate he must have felt.
Fear, anger, rage… they clawed at him. And he forced himself to breathe slowly and take stock of his surroundings. It wouldn’t do to lose his head now, metaphorically, as it would certainly lead to that happening physically. The first order of business was to get the filthy blindfold off and to recover the use of his hands. He rolled on his back and started pushing with his heels. The floor was rough, but level. They’d taken away what minimal armor he had been in of course and the the friction from the floor set of jolts of agony in the injuries on his shoulders, back and hands. He probably had broken fingers though everything hurt too much to be sure. Infection would come soon unless he found a healer. Not that there would be one down here.
The ruins had been warded. Though he had trained as a warrior and didn’t rely on magic, his blood elf lineage still attuned him to it. And that spark, the spirit of bouyancy one felt around magic was missing. He wondered why the others hadn’t said anything. Perhaps they had been afraid. Afraid that they were losing their mind. None of them had been prepared for how insidious the touch of the Sha was. You became afraid of being too afraid. It was a vicious cycle and you really had to walk a fine line to keep your sanity balanced. Magic felt muted here… he had seen it on the faces of his friends. The uneasiness. The way Callendula had moved a flask of spirit to her belt. He had a feeling that there would be no mana to be gained in these halls. Any friendly healer in this place would have long spent all their reserves and been reduced to fighting hand to hand. He cringed at that thought.
His head bumped a wall. He slid himself sideways and closer to the wall. The wall was not smooth, instead it was carved in sharp relief. He managed to get his head in a position where he could rub the blindfold against the wall and with some spirited vertebral contortions the blindfold slipped off.
Peering into the grey darkness around him he began to wish it hadn’t. The room wasn’t exactly lightless. It was just grey. As if the light had been sucked out of it but a diffused echo of it had remained. He could see what seemed to be muted shadows and reflections but not what was casting them. And in the inky blackness, he could see a still darker black crawling all over the floors, walls and ceiling. When he tried to look at it, it stopped. But on the edge of his vision, the impossibly dark blackness bubbled and flowed.
He tried his hands. It was a crude lashing made of thick rope and he looked for a usable edge on the walls. In this light it felt like trying to read a book half buried in the clay at the bottom of a deep lake. But he did manage to spot a usable edge. Putting his back to it, he began to saw at his bonds.
His hands came free just as the darkness reached his feet. Something didn’t seem real about the darkness.
A small whisper, a familiar voice, echoed in his mind.
“Fight it Thunder, its not real… you’re manifesting that darkness yourself. You can stop it. You have to stop it. Don’t let it take hold of you!”
It sounded like Bijli, the young shaman. Spirit and fire – those two elements had always been her strength. The voice was in his head. Wryly he wondered how much vacant space he had between his ears.
Memories flooded back… the Mogu ambush on their camp.
The paladin, mage and druid had been away, scouting.
He had been working on his books and near him Callendula, the priest, had been busy with her alchemy. The irony of a warrior who enjoyed scribbling wasn’t lost on him. Nor the priest next to him who tinkered with machines and concocted potions. Bijli who had been on sentry duty had sounded the alarm and had fought a retreat into their camp. Her earthen elemental buying some precious moments as they had scrambled for their arms. The Mogu were massive and moved impossibly fast. No time to don all his armor, he had charged the Mogu brutes. Near him, Callendula had thrown shields up on the three of them. He felt the enveloping warmth of the shield, and the dull pressure as it absorbed the Mogu’s blows. They fought hard, but they were greatly outnumbered.
He remembered Callendula’s face getting ever whiter as the strain of the healing built up and she saw how outnumbered they were. As a seasoned battle healer, she had known just how much trouble they were in. Bijli in her youthful enthusiasm was flinging her chain lightning at their foes, not quite aware of how hard she was pushing herself. But mana here was different. As his friends continued to cast, he saw the Mogu gaining strength. Something was sapping their strength and feeding it to the Mogu. Shortly into the fight, a Mogu flung a club at Bijli. Usually the young orc shaman would have had no trouble dodging it, but drained as she was with casting, it connected solidly with her and she went down unmoving.
Callendula’s shadow fiend was out amongst the mogo, tearing at them but somehow that didn’t seem to help her healing at all. She just couldn’t keep going on like this. The last thing he heard from her was “Where the hell are that damn paladin and druid?” before she too was overwhelmed and fell, next to the shaman.
Mustering every ounce of strength and will power, he slammed the Mogu around him with a cleave. The brutal impact shattered his sword and he leaped towards hid friends. He just had enough time to push his hearthstone in an unconscious hand, make the gesture of activation before he was yanked back. He didn’t see them port out, but he had hoped they had escaped. Unarmed, it had been an unpleasant few minutes before he had lost consciousness.
That Bijli was now somehow communicating with him gave him hope. If his friends were okay, there was still some hope of coming out of this in one piece.
As he controlled his breathing and started fueling his emotions into raw glorious rage, the room seemed to brighten and the inky darkness shrunk. A dozen yards down he saw a doorway recessed into the wall.
Dealing with the sha would come later, first there was the matter of neutralizing the wards. And getting a decent weapon of course. That had always been a priority on new adventures!
Trying to be as noiseless as possible, he pushed against the doors…