PICKING UP OFF DIS THREAD: Lark and Arthas have a meaningful conversation.))
There's not a lot of Ebon Blade who even forgive themselves. It's not a real big virtue when you've decided that the Light's had done with you and nothing in life matters anymore and Death is your only mistress and-- [flaps hands to emphasize the silliness of this]
I can't speak for what the Blade would do if you came to them shorn of all your glory and were just Arthas. But I can say I'd be the first one to stand up and point out it's pretty fucking poor form to turn a blind eye to what all of us did, claiming it wasn't our choice, and then hold you accountable for everything Ner'zhul and that sword made you do. There's just as many of us who were terrible fucking people under the Scourge because we wanted to be and repented of it.
[sort-of "looks" down, ears drooping] And, uh. I think enough of us got shuffled through the Culling at Stratholme by now, thanks to the bronzes, that they'd know you weren't exactly in there for shits and giggles. Don't know that I'd've made a decision that would have saved anyone alive. Uther didn't.
AND THEN ARTHAS SAID:
Then why should I be expected to?!
[Pure whiny child there. He's going to wallow in this as long as he wants, fuckers.]
I'm going to be honest; if I were Varian, I'd have the lot of you executed. I have no idea why the Alliance re-accepted you. We shouldn't be forgiven. If we are, there's no such thing as justice. I spent my entire life seeing to it that the world was rid of monsters. I'm not going to stop now.
- the Bronzes did what now...?
AND THEN LARK REPLIED:
[exasperated:] Because they're a bunch of fucking idiots for doing it? [Come on, Arthas. You're not a fucking idiot, are you? :c] We did what we did and survived it. I won't say we're the lucky ones, but it's past now. Maybe you're right and somebody should have gotten rid of us when we put down our swords and turned ourselves over to the Horde and the Alliance for judgment, but let's face it: The people we killed are still dead. Putting us in the ground for the last time to make the living feel better about that won't bring them back, and it means we won't be there when the next fuck-ugly son of a bitch crawls out from under his Lightforsaken rock to threaten Azeroth again.
I might be blind and half-rotted and stupid but I can still hold my axe and stand between the people who matter and the things that want to kill them deader than me. If you want to hunt monsters there's plenty of them still out there that haven't pledged themselves to killing the bigger monsters than they are.
[...demure cough] Uh. Thought you might've heard about that. Infinites went and fucked with your timeline or something so they started sending people back to make sure you actually did Stratholme right. Didn't get killed halfway through or anything.
They seemed ill at first--sluggish, uninterested in the usual stimuli that stirred their insectile curiosity. Those that did eat stopped eating. Those that seemed to exist on air alone failed more quickly, progressing from sluggishness to total immobility in a matter of hours. They hid themselves first, seeking out the darkest places they could find and curling up within their own wings before they ceased moving.
And then they began to die.
((OOC: Hiyo. ._./ Of course no one's moth needs to die if they do not wish it to die, but it is an option if one wishes a plot hook or the removal thereof.
Dead moths will disintegrate into dust when touched.))
Not the bone-snapping, life-sucking cold of Icecrown's unending winter; it was not freezing cold, winter-cold, but it was enough. It was enough, and he lay in the sand on the floor of the cave, and bled in silence.
It's my fault. (my(myfault(your(my(faultmyfault)fault)
He curled around the pain in his chest, burying his hands in his hair; clawed at his skull as if it would have any effect on the storm of self-recrimination inside.
A hank of gray hair pulled free and fell aside, ignored, to shiver into dust.
Not good enough (smart(fast(strong(loyal(good))))) for them, for (krenyn(orikhaav)(kae)(ben)(adra,'vali)
He gave a helpless, mewling hiccup, shuddering hard enough to disturb the flock of moths clustered around him for what little comfort they might share. "'M sorry," he managed by rote. "S, sorry. I c--can't--" Shoved a knuckle between his teeth to silence the words, as he tucked into a tighter knot of misery.
One of the moths had stopped moving with the others. Not long after Larkspur had fallen back into a fitful sleep, it too fell to pieces, reduced to little more than rainbow dust on the sand.
[Larkspur] says: [Thalassian] Not in a cage anymore.
[Krenyn] says: [Thalassian] And enemies to slaughter.
[Krenyn] says: [Thalassian] I'm sure you'll feel better soon enough.
[Krenyn] says: [Thalassian] ...Is it just the cage?
[Larkspur] says: [Thalassian] Might as well be.
[Krenyn] says: [Thalassian] Let's finish this.
You sniff Sun Priest Iset.
Larkspur shifts, uncomfortably. "So."
Krenyn follows, without any particular expression. "What was that, earlier?"
Larkspur ducks his head--then raises it again, straightening his shoulders. "Just meant the cages were the only part of it I could do anything about."
[Larkspur] says: [Thalassian] So the rest didn't bear dwelling on.
Krenyn snorts and gestures sharply, indicating that Larkspur should walk with him to the pillar, out of sight of the felinoids.
Larkspur trails after, obediently.
Krenyn is certain that camel riding bandit behind will die for witnessing this. Nevertheless, he reaches out and places hands to either side of Lark's face.
[Krenyn] says: [Thalassian] And nothing I could do for you?
To [Krenyn]: (IC) *faint, humorous intimation that they're alien enough here no one would really know what they're doing anyway--among the cat-people, that is*
[Krenyn] whispers: (IC) *takes the humor in fair account, though there is the undercurrent that this is about old habits, old customs he can't bring himself to drop*
Larkspur eardroops, reaching to cover Krenyn's hands with his own. "It's hot here," he says, simply. Then, in a smaller voice: "And everyone who could do anything about that is gone." A traitor and presumed dead. Or off on other business. Or--
Larkspur huffs, again. "...probably fine, though." Right.
Krenyn briefly darkens, both in expression and presence. "Enough. I will not let you stay here long enough to suffer." His fingers tighten slightly, as if wanting to clench possessively tighter. Instead his hands cool. Then chill, though in the desert heat the slowly forming ice as that chill reaches his armor begins to evaporate nearly as quickly as it forms.
To [Krenyn]: (IC) *accepts this as a fair point* *responds with somewhat tangential imagined-images of Ben's cats cuddling shamelessly; maybe they're expected to pile on top of each other*
Krenyn lets out a short bark of laughter, dropping his hands. Though he has yet to lose the chill. "There are some uses for this discipline, after all." he mentions. Not without humor.
[Krenyn] says: [Thalassian] ...During the evening, the desert will grow steadily colder. It will not take long.
Larkspur noses blindly against the palm of Krenyn's hand before his partner has a chance to pull away--then hunches back into himself, raising his shoulders and flattening his ears back. "Right."
[Larkspur] says: [Thalassian] S...suppose it wouldn't be so bad to be warm in the end, though. All things considered.
Larkspur says this with a blank expression.
Krenyn turns to Larkspur again, his expression somber. "That I can promise you will have."
Larkspur lifts his head, ears rising. "Even now?"
To [Krenyn]: (IC) *the frail layer of good humor collapses inward and vanishes* <i'm(sosorry)(sorry)(i(failed))>
Krenyn slowly draws closer. The smell of ice on the air begins to fade, though his hand is still cool when it touches Larkspur again; it is warming though. "If you wish."
Larkspur reaches up to take that hand, clutching at it like a drowning man. "What would you do? If I did--if I asked for that?" His voice is very small.
[Krenyn] whispers: (IC) *instantly THERE, a presence to lean on, to try and ease the pain by sharing it as much as the sharp spike of emotion* <You did not fail.>
Krenyn lets his hand be taken, crushed if that is what Larkspur wishes. "You will only receive that," he says carefully, "...when it is time. No sooner."
To [Krenyn]: (IC) *is a morass of pain and hate--self-hate--like static turned to fragments of razors, a hail of tiny, blood-thirsty mites tearing each other apart* *they all cling, anyhow, desperate to stop hurting* <i(failed)(failed)(failed(i(failed(you))
To [Krenyn]: (IC) <failed><failed>(failedfailedfailed)(
Larkspur can't seem to bring himself to face his partner, so he'll settle for trying to drag Krenyn closer by the one-handed grip he's got on him. "When?" he asks--begs.
[Krenyn] whispers: (IC) *must be receiving pain from the brain swarm, in the thick of it as he is. And yet he remains a solid anchor, something for each piece, little by little, to find and cling to. Something familiar, comfortable. Perhaps even safe. But it is when he>>*
[Krenyn] whispers: (IC) *when he glimpses 'i hurt' that he does more than remain a solid pillar. He becomes a virtual magnet, sheer force of will pulling at the pieces, trying to force them into a semblance of order so they will stop tearing at each other*
Krenyn steps closer, a strain appearing on his features, briefly, before flitting away again. With his free hand, he touches Larkspur's shoulder, strengthening the sense of contact. "Not yet, beloved." he murmers quietly. No, there won't be a time given. Even Krenyn doesn't know /when/. He simply knows he WILL know when the moment has arrived.
Larkspur seems almost to be straining for an answer, every rotted muscle tense, every dead nerve primed. And when he's given the answer--when it's clearly not what he *wants*--he collapses back against Krenyn like a puppet with its strings cut, folding himself against the taller man if he could vanish entirely by doing so. Doesn't make a sound as he does. Just presses up against the other death knight.
To [Krenyn]: (IC) *like iron to a lodestone the static fold up against Krenyn's mental presence, still aching and bleeding* (i can't) (i'm) (so) (sorry) <i love you(morethananything)&(ifailedyou)>
Krenyn answers this aloud, gathering up Larkspur as best as armor allows and hissing at him, more the intensity than anger. "You survived. Despite what he wanted you to do. You /came back/. How is that a failure?"
Larkspur is silent for a long time in the face of this question, simply *being* there as he leans against Krenyn in his misery. At last: "I never should have gone to him in the first place." Everything that happened, everyone who died--none of it would've if he hadn't been so -stupid- and weak-minded. Stupid, stupid Larkspur.
Krenyn gives Larkspur a slight shake- physical and somewhat mental, though the latter is softer. "You did not know. /I/ did not know. Nor did your brother. The... priest was powerful," Krenyn allows.
[Krenyn] whispers: (IC) *still a strong presence, still seeking to hold Larkspur together by willpower alone, if only so his partner is capable of focus and some logic* <This... is not something you can blame yourself for being weak about. Must not. Cannot... fault>
[Krenyn] whispers: <...yourself for the weakness of others> *flash of Oriseus, of Weismann*
Larkspur flicks his ears again, and seems to--settle, surrendering for now into simply holding on and being held. "I should have fought," he repeats, voice quiet and sad. "Anyone else would have done that much." But having said his peace on the matter he lets go.
To [Krenyn]: (IC) *the static are dubious, but held so they cannot outright object; and there is truth in Krenyn's words* *but there's also images and emotions and hurt not being exposed here, not talked about* ... (help) (me)
[Krenyn] whispers: (IC) *soothes the pieces, the static, though the images and emotions shifting briefly to the surface before flitting away are too many to process. But the plea for help...*
Krenyn closes his eyes, whispering at Larkspur, though there is effort to make the command as much mental, as physically verbal. "Sleep, Larkspur."
[Krenyn] whispers: (IC) *does indeed seek to enforce the request, shaping it more as an order, attempting to use his solidified position in Larkspur's mind to force obedience into the static. Though there is love, a care... a desire to help his partner.*
Larkspur goes slack in Krenyn's grip; the habit of obedience is so strong with him that even if there had been no force at all behind the command he'd have given it his best attempt despite his distress. As it is, he shuts down entirely--though he doesn't lose his grip on the taller death knight.
To [Krenyn]: (IC) *perhaps that was just what was needed; everything goes immediately quiet under the force of the mental command* *the pain and conflict aren't forgotten, but laid aside, for now, and Krenyn's mental presence clutched close*
Krenyn is prepared for Larkspur's weight, supporting it and then lifting the death knight easily, despite armor. "Chillblaze," he mutters, the sound hardly anything but the power that summons the steed still behind it. It is not long before the shadows appear and stir to part for the undead charger's presence. Larkspur is lifted to the saddle, with Krenyn settling behind his unconscious partner soon after.
"Duty before self." -- Motto of House Dawnherald
He tells the living and the dead alike he doesn't dream when he sleeps--that "sleeping" isn't the proper term for it anyhow; he's awake to what's around him, insensible as he might seem--that the apparatus of dreaming long-ago decayed along with his sight and his reason and the other useful parts of his brain; and like everything he's invented and re-invented about himself since being dragged half-blind into the twilight realm of undeath, that isn't strictly true.
The aftermath of terror stirs the muddied waters of his consciousness like a prowling shark, sending rotting fingerlings of half-digested memory skirling in its wake. They aren't important--most aren't important--and more than anything after a shock to his system so severe (he lied and i believed him gullible fool my fault m y f a u l t stupid stupid
slut) he wants to let exhaustion take its course--decorum be damned--and let him sleep.
But Memory's awakened, and Memory stirs, and puts on a pretty, green-eyed face, and Larkspur dreams:
"I should have strangled you at birth, for all the use you've been to me!"
She is beautiful and fierce and perfect, even standing outside the bars of his cell, saying things that aren't--that can't possibly be--true. Hair so wheat-pale as to be nearly white, fine of feature and delicate of frame in a way that hides deceptive strength, Dionaea Sunwatcher is beautiful and no one watching the two of them could mistake the lines of heredity that tie the pair together.
"--or never let the old fool sire you on me in the first place! Ridding myself of him was the best thing I've done for our House! And now this!"
She is beautiful and absolutely insane and he is in love with her, a gaping fool for her, exactly as she planned it.
She slaps the bars in front of his face and he shies back like a startled horse.
"You stupid, filthy little traitor. Do you know how much this has cost me, you little ingrate? Do you understand what you've done to me?"
Somehow in the midst of the shock of revelation--(she killed Father?)--and the sheer inside-out, upside-down madness of the entire scene he finds his voice and finds it calm: "This wasn't for you, Mother. This was for Silvermoon."
He isn't sure what's worse: The look of utter incomprehesion she fixes him with, or the words that follow:
"Silvermoon? You stupid little fool, I raised you to be loyal to me, not some faceless fucking city!"
"Shut. Up. You're useless to me, Larkspur."
"I would be lying if I said it is not a bitter pill to swallow. Everyone wants to be first sometimes. To not always feel like second best. Or third. Or fourth."
Campion shows up in the same full armour Lark saw him in the FIRST time they clashed. He tugs on a gauntlet and eyes the death knight.( "Has he woken up or come back to life or whatever the hell yet, Ley," he mutters. )
He's had the fleeting, mad thought before that if he could scream loud enough--if he could kill enough people, if he could make a large enough disturbance--he could call the dead and the lost back to him by force of will alone.
It's the madness of a diseased mind; the insanity of a rotting brain. There's no bringing them back when they're really gone. No amount of spilled blood, no number of shattered limbs, split skulls, silenced voices will absolve him of failing them when they needed him most, of not being there just as Meros is not here. Driven from house to house in a crush of armored bodies, wailing like a mourner, he finds neither hide nor hair of what he's looking for; no indication the faithless jailors have kept their promise, no sign his friend still lives.
"Where are you?!"
The mêlée spills out onto the streets, guards falling to the cobbles as he weaves among them with all the lewd grace of one of the Scourge. Here one trips over his own guts and falls in a groaning, dying heap; there another froths and shakes and collapses like an unstrung puppet as plague eats her from within, and he should take joy in the carnage but he can't. (Another guard drops from a heavy backhand blow; finishing her with a headsman's stroke from Terminus Est, he kicks the body into the canal.)
He can't, because something has happened to Meros, something has happened to Merosiel, because--he mounts up the steps of a bridge, not caring he's being chased to the heart of the city--his friend isn't answering him, and something has happened there are blood and terror in the air tonight that are not because of his rampage.
"Meros! Answer me! What have they done to you?!"
They can hear him calling, screaming himself hoarse, and each respite he gets is shorter than the last. This time they bring a paladin--a fucking, Light-sucking paladin; why aren't they looking for MEROS?--and he calls the lately dead back to their feet to aid him against their once-allies. All is fair in love and war and where is he they promised they promised they wouldn't kill him--
"CAMPION, YOU CHILD-MURDERING SCARLET SON-OF-A-BITCH! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MEROSIEL?!"
Our Lady Peace -- "Denied", Taproot -- "Lost In the Woods"
Somewhere in the bowels of the Undercity, a moth lifts its wings and takes flight, sailing through the miasmatic sewers. Too drunk to realize the significance of its departure, its owner yells obscenities after the insect, his voice echoing hoarsely off the wrought stonework walls.
Dalaran's Eventide bank is thrown into a brief panic by an attack of moths when a dozen of them come boiling out of a client's deposit box, sweeping out into the streets in a whirlwind of scaled wings and feathery antennae. They do not linger to destroy the bank's property, arrowing for the Sunreaver portals with an unnatural swiftness.
In Acherus, a tiny flock of the creatures converge from all directions, escaping the hold onto plague-laden winds to drift across the reddening sky as infinitesimal specks of color. They are joined by escapees from Quel'Thalas, one that abandons its title and tiny moth house, its position as the most spoiled of moths; another which will go
unmissed and unmourned; the third sure to worry its owner by its absence.
Quietly, delaying as long as it can, a golden-winged moth waits for an unwatched moment to crawl out the open window of a Stormwind clinic, vanishing into the lengthening evening.
Further north, a half-dozen moths flee the lengthening night to the Howling Fjord, seeking the actinic lights of Vengeance Landing. Sweeping down on the icy winds from the Storm Peaks, they nestle into the netting of the zeppelin to Undercity, huddling together against the storms at sea.