|Spirit of the Locket
Author: fevral PM
A Horde zeppelin transporting an unusual piece of jewelry is intercepted by Alliance privateers, spurring a journey across Kalimdor by those who find their lives bound to the will of the Spirit of the Locket.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Mystery - Chapters: 11 - Words: 28,498 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 2 - Updated: 04-04-13 - Published: 04-12-11 - id: 6899810
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Spirit of the Locket
The inhabitants of Stonetalon Peak were not eager to accommodate any warband, regardless of its cause. Even so, Keeper Albagorm could not be expected to do anything other than invite Bengal and her wounded company into the settlement when they arrived in the night. Once beckoned, healers rushed to receive Shy and Ursula. The latter was doing far better in her makeshift splint and was able to limp on her own to a bench outside the inn. The half-elf, who had endured two days with naught but frostweave bandages keeping his chest sealed, was in far graver condition. Sonia made a quick mental note of the building to which they whisked Shy, for she feared their leader did not have the capacity at that moment to care.
Rhysiart landed in the middle of town with the troll woman grasped in his talons. Without needing to be asked, the hippogryph released his captive as soon as Bengal was able to lay hands upon her. The troll was weak. When she was jerked from the ground, her feet would not hold her. That did not matter so much, though, as she was tossed across the grass. She crumpled and was grabbed again, and moved so unkindly in this manner until she was knocked against the column of an ancient stone archway. Bramble vines twisted around her of their own volition to hold her in that place.
Bengal observed the constriction of the vines with marked apathy. No sooner had the fetter's growth ceased did the druid sink her clawed fingers into the troll's tattered braids, and then she slammed her knee into the prisoner's face. Komodo did not have the spirit to lift her head after the blow, so Bengal knelt and whispered Orcish to her. "I have asked your friends to meet us here. If they come here, you are free. Do you understand this?"
Komodo's chest moved with a sudden sob. It was evident to all around—the night elves, the dryads, and Sonia who looked on from afar—that this troll woman was no soldier, that she was some unfortunate civilian caught up in something far beyond her ability to withstand; and all the better that she was broken so easily. "Yes," she murmured. She sagged in her bindings, the tension of terror in her muscles fading with her failing strength.
"But they may not come here," Bengal said, "for they hold an item which they do not wish to relinquish to me. You have seen this item, yes?" There were several seconds of silence wherein one may have supposed the troll lost consciousness, and so the druid vocally prodded her, "it is a necklace."
"Yes," at last Komodo said. "A locket."
"Do you think your friends will come for you?"
Komodo's thoughts were haunted by the image of the ghostly night elf. His command had been ominous to begin with, but now its implication was so much worse. She wept.
Bengal shook her head softly. "As your friends betray you, I will give you the opportunity to save yourself. Tell me where they are taking the locket. I will set you free as soon as I have it in my hands."
The shake of the troll's shoulders was unchanged. She knew her friends had not betrayed her, but they could not come to her rescue. They all faced certain doom if they did not meet Enivan's demand, and for this reason she could not betray their destination, either. Komodo was consumed with the misery of her circumstances and as such gave no reply.
Here, the night elf lapsed into Darnassian. "Then, it appears we will be spending much time together." Bengal bowed her head and drew back to stand. With one hand, she bade Sonia's attention; and she said, so that Komodo could understand, "do you know the Kaldorei word zandu? It means fear."
The switch of Bengal's vibrant silver eyes from the troll woman to the allied warlock could almost be counted as a physical attack. Sonia flinched as the druid's focus fell on her. Hesitation welled inside the young human. To her, it did not seem their captive would survive much more torment. Still, she was obligated by Bengal's unarguable stare to begin casting.
Before Komodo's eyes, the dark night whorled into grotesque faces and malformed bodies, monsters all the likes of which she had never seen even in nightmares. In visions as real as life itself, they tore at her body, and then at her entrails, and then at her bones; they ripped her unborn child out of her and consumed it limb by limb. Initially, she did not think she could be fooled into thinking she had the breath to speak. Rapidly, that idea changed. Her screaming did not let up until day's light—and then, at last . . .
It took Bengal half a second to draw the route in her mind and another half of a second to give the order. "The Emerald Sanctuary. Sonia, Rhysiart!" The druid was in the air in the next instant.
They broke their flight in Astranaar and left Rhysiart, who was completely exhausted after days of nonstop travel, with the hippogryph master there. It was unseasonably cold in Ashenvale for the time of year; and knowing further north the weather would only be worse, their small party bartered heavy cloaks from the local clothier. As they departed the town, evanescent steam billowed in their wake. The road into Felwood burned beneath the hooves of Sonia's dreadsteed.
Sometime along the way, the young warlock lost sight of her druid companion for the tangled, leafless limbs of the skeletal trees. The sick woods enclosed her, and she was alone but for the demon whose sentience under her control was debatable at best. One might expect, as the fel mist swirled before the swing of her mount's legs, a warlock would not feel so out of place here, but this was not the case with Sonia. It wasn't the rotting, nearly departed inhabitants of the region that bothered her. Rather, it was the furbolgs. The Timbermaw knew about everything that happened in their woods.
Just the sound of a distant growl, like that of a bear, was enough to get her pulling on her mount's plated withers. The demon's gait faltered and then it came to a complete stop. Sonia twisted in the armored saddle, the pressure of her knee and heel causing the dreadsteed to softly turn. There was nothing, nothing, nothing but the gaping darkness and the sound of the fel horse's breathing—much steadier than that of its master.
The call of a bird overhead reined Sonia's jumpy nerves for a brief moment. The reassurance she felt flickered like a candle in the wind and then went out as a bright, white vulture sailed out over the clearing to her left. Those definitely weren't endemic to the region. She wasn't at all surprised when the bird swooped and made a beeline for her.
With a flourish of dark power, she spurred her dreadsteed to move. The demon lurched forward and bolted, following the road without mind for the impending interception of the vulture. Sonia's eyes were on the trees across the clearing. She was searching for the hunter to whom the animal belonged.
The vulture screeched as it closed in, its talons reaching and its wings swinging wildly. It was all Sonia could do to rip the broach from her neck and throw her cloak into the aerial attacker. She drew her staff across her lap in case the vulture recovered too quickly, but with a quick glance back she was certain it would be tangled in the cloak for a little while.
The Emerald Sanctuary wouldn't tolerate this sort of violence, but at least an hour would pass before that outpost would crawl over the horizon. Gritting her teeth, Sonia thrust her hand into the air and threw a fist of green fire up at the sky. Her magic burned through the darkness, the canopy, and the fel fume looming over the sickened trees; and it announced her location to all of Felwood.
Within seconds, ominous whistling touched her ears; and in another moment, a crossbow's bolt slammed into the side of her dreadsteed's head. Blinding fire exploded from the wound, and Sonia shrieked. The demon's legs buckled one after the other and spilled the animal, and its rider, in the road—the latter several yards from the former. Only the split-second reaction of casting a demonic armoring spell upon herself saved the young warlock from being impaled on her steed's horns. Her physical injuries were minimal, but as she pulled herself up on her elbows it felt as if her head had been split open against the ground. Old, ritual magic had been rent. The dreadsteed howled and thrashed wildly as the normally tame flame lighting its mane and hooves spread across and broke its scaled hide. The beast's armor dislodged from its spine and, on tendrils of fiery ichor, slipped onto the road.
Behind her frail hands, a horrified Sonia stole glimpses of her demon's undoing. Her sobs were a misplaced sentiment for a being that was not friend, family, or compatriot; but she was heartbroken all the same. She watched as its fervor was spent and its light suddenly died.
And then a shadow fell over her. She could barely sum a voice with which to cast, to scream. She rolled to be able to put eyes on her enemy. A Forsaken militiaman of some sort fled toward the trees as nightmares clouded his waking eyes. The hunter? But why did he close distance so fast? He could have shot her dead from range instead of her dreadsteed.
The answer came on wings. The vulture returned, soaring down the road with the silhouette of its master following on foot. Sonia slung quick spells at him as the undead hunter stopped to steadily nock an arrow. He would have loosed it had he had one more free second; alas, an enormous panther collided with him and together they sailed off the road.
"Bengal!" Sonia screamed. The vulture's right wing dipped and it turned back.
"Don't you know what happens to little girls that get lost in the woods?" growled a dry, dead voice. Once gone and now returned, the Forsaken that had put down her mount revealed himself, briefly, with delicate daggers in his hands, to be a rogue.
Sonia was suddenly very aware of the fact she had not taken a moment, as they whipped by so quickly, to put herself on her feet nor summon a minion or conjure any implements. She was quite possibly in the worst possible position to take on an opponent that meant to cut her life short; and in the face of this mortal adversity, her despair turned to fury. It was beyond her to give up—she couldn't, not when, even at twenty paces, she could twist her fingers and carve pain and sickness into the Forsaken soldier.
He dove into the shadows of the trees. Sonia scrambled to her feet and had only just brushed her hair from her eyes when the undead's molding knuckles connected with her side. She doubled over in pain, and her mind could not register the sensation of the rogue's blades sliding through her robes. It was all she could do to draw molten misery into her hand, and then turn and crush the spark of that magic against her enemy's skull. His head swung back with a force the warlock's small body did not possess—at least, not physically—and once more his possessed body fled. This time, Sonia did not hesitate to cast on him.
Bengal caught up to the warlock later. The druid seemed neither surprised nor impressed to find her alive. Without remarking on the human's tear stained cheeks and state of disarray, she cast rudimentary healing spells over her team member's wounds.
"He killed my dreadsteed," Sonia said shakily.
"Did you kill him?"
The young woman's breath caught. "Yes."
"Unfortunately, I cannot say the same. The hunter saw fit to run rather than face true death in battle. Either he's a coward—and I have not known the undead to show cowardice—or he has someone to whom he must report."
Sonia was still finding her feet. She was still in a decent condition to walk, but waves of weakness and darkness washed over her with the wind. The Sanctuary couldn't be that far now. If they moved at a sound pace, they could make it there before nightfall.
The warlock swallowed hard and replied, "they're looking for the locket. They know it'll come this way."
"You may not be privy to the strife of the Circle, but let me make you aware that the Forsaken have a fortified camp in Winterspring through which they wage war on us. These outriders are not uncommon here." Sonia made a discouraged sound, and so Bengal went on to say, "I don't mean to say you are wrong. The Forsaken intend to deliver the locket to their leader. They will have every solider they can spare looking for it. You must be more prudent, however, in your actions in this place; and always be ready for combat."
"Yes, ma'am," Sonia answered softly.
As the pair of them continued carefully down the road, from the cover of the woods, the fleet-of-foot hunter nodded his understanding as well.
It's been a while! Six months have gone by since the last update, apparently. My desire to write about anything other than the Horde party is pretty awful, and progress tends to lag when there's an Alliance or Forsaken chapter due. Next up is Forsaken, so we'll see how it goes.
Oh, I was in /Trade the other day and they were discussing male Dark Rangers. The consensus is that they don't exist. Well, this fic is far from perfect, so I think I leave Solara as he is. I've also grown fond of writing Skari's name as Ska'ri because it makes him less of an abomination on a role playing server; but it also means his birth name is Ska and this amuses me greatly.