Disclaimer: I do not own anything Diablo or Diablo II related.
Author's Note / Introduction: This is something that I have wanted to write for a long time. Basically, this story shall travel through the Diablo II and DII: LOD storyline as seen by two characters. It will focus mainly on that relationship as well as the social impact upon the people of Diablo II in Sanctuary. This is just a prologue. Chapters will cover single chapters within the acts. (IE, Chapter 1 will be 'The Den of Evil' 2 will be "Sister's Bruial Ground" etc.) For now, read, enjoy, and leave a review if you are so inclined!My Opposite; My Exact
She had stopped counting the days about a couple of weeks prior to her sitting up late, again, staring at the bonfire in the center of the Rogue's makeshift encampment. The scent of smoke and embers were accompanied again by the faint smell of blood and death that the eastern winds bore to the camp. It was nothing that frightened her, but as the weeks had gone by, she had noticed this smell growing stronger and the number of Rogue scouts returning to camp became less and less. Unfortunately, to return to her home north, she first had to pass through the lands of the Monastery, which were as she was told unfit to travel to. She could take care of herself, she assured them, but they assured her right back that they could take care of whatever was ravaging their lands. The Rogue are idiots she sighed in her head as the caravan leader, Warriv, began to nod off, back propped up against a wagon's wheel. They didn't know who or what she was, and though part of her wanted to retain her anonymity, most was rearing to head out into the bramble wilderness and fix the problem herself. The only thing holding her back was the news she had eavesdropped on earlier in her stay. It was not hard to miss Kashya, and in one of the first very heated arguments with Akara, the fate of Tristram was told. Tristram, where the final battle was supposed to have ended. Tristram, where the demons were finally put to rest along with one of the greatest evils of all.
It seems they were all wrong.
Stuck in the God-forsaken camp certainly was not helping much, however. She yawned widely, hidden by a hand with graceful fingers. She leaned back against her chest of belongings and pulled some of her fur blankets about her closer. It certainly was getting colder as of late. Home seemed a thousand miles away, but on the same token, she was not sure that home was the best idea either. Someone stepping in front of her tent broke her from her concentration. Her eyes narrowed in the amber light being thrown from the fire, she studied the newcomer. He was male, young at that, and a little too tall for his weight. It was as if he had been stretched through the torso, the look of boys as they trek through the awkward phases toward becoming men. He was not a boy, however, just awkward. She guessed that he must have stood at least six or seven inches above her, but from her vantage she could have been exaggerating. His face was fair, at least the half that she could see. He had a strong jaw and a fine nose, though it looked like it may have been broken at one time or another. He wore a scowl but his eyes reflected concern, great worry, and the flames of the fire. He was covered in furs from head to foot, though as she looked closer she assumed they were all blessed by how they were carefully adorned with painted symbols, beads, and bones. An over-large raven was perched upon his left shoulder, visibly ruffled, and it called a warning as its eyes met hers. The young man's vision snapped to hers, as she lay half-concealed in the darkness of her tent. His eyes, green eyes, looked at her with contemplation, and he frowned as he looked upon the pelt that she had wrapped about her from. Definitely a druid. She thought bitterly as he looked at her with accusatory eyes. He pulled the hood from his head to reveal dark auburn hair, and quite a length of it, that was tied back at the nape of his neck. She shifted as he still looked down upon her; her fingers itched toward the dagger, safe in its sheath strapped around her thigh.
"Do you have something to say, or are you simply going to stare at me? I would like to get some sleep at some point tonight, and I cannot vary well do it with eyes upon me." She spat. The look on his face simply changed to that of marginal amusement before turning his back on her and moving toward the left side of Warriv's wagon. Though he was almost out of her view, she saw and heard a tent being put up before he settled his tall, lanky form within. The raven perched itself on one of the stakes and went to sleep. She assumed that its master had also, but as she shut her eyes, rest did not come easy. She felt him still awake and observing her somehow, and to an assassin, being watched is something that does not occur often. She finally drifted off into an uneasy sleep, knowing that a set of green eyes fifteen feet away were still reflecting the flames of the bonfire, and perhaps the silhouette of her tent.
The next morning she awoke with a start as she heard yelling coming from the entrance to the encampment. She tossed the pelts aside with ease, and though groggy, she leaped up with her dagger at the ready, unsure of what she may meet. There was no immediate threat to the encampment, but two Rogues were hurrying into camp with a third held between them. She was bleeding profusely from a couple of head wounds and several superficial cuts and grazes to the rest of her body. The folk of the camp gathered curiously around Akara's tent as she began to tend to the poor girls wounds. Kashya was visibly irritated.
"Report!" She barked at the two untouched scouts.
"The demons, they are upon us!" One replied nervously.
"What?" Kashya asked in disbelief.
"They have burrowed out a stronghold underground, seemingly overnight! They are nary more than a mile outside of camp, and slowly they have been spreading closer." One of the scouts clarified.
"What kind of beasts are we speaking of here? Like the others?"
"No, not as terrible yet." One replied.
"But still! Spike fiends, zombies, fallens! All roaming the land right outside of here! Who knows what else is below in that burrow!" The other rogue cried angrily.
"Silence!" Akara's sudden words brought a hush to the murmur that was rippling to what was left of her people, "Obviously, something must be done. For now, I will tend to this one. Kashya, I want you to strengthen the defense outside of our encampment. There are travelers and those with great strength among us as I speak. I want any of those who feel that they are strong enough to vanquish this evil to find me tonight, here. Surely, someone here can undertake the horrors outside of our stronghold. Now be gone, and Heaven help us, someone will be strong enough to aid us." The tired folk slowly wandered away from Akara, allowing her words to sink in to their minds.
"Dierdre." An arm clasped around her hand. She jumped and turned to her side to see Warriv looking at her dagger nervously.
"Do not do that!" She snapped, annoyed, "Do you understand what I can do with this little thing?"
"I am sorry, forgive me," the older man looked amused, "I merely wished to speak with you." Dierdre sighed and put her dagger back into its sheath. She felt eyes upon her once more, and raised her gaze to meet that of the stranger's from the night before. An unpleasant shiver shot down her back.
"Surely," she tore her gaze from the young man and back to Warriv, "let us speak by the fire." They retreated into the heart of the camp, she knowing that the young druid was following as well. He sat on the seat of one of his wagons while she patted one of the oxen on the top of its head, the beast penned safely. She leaned her hip against the fence and looked up at Warriv, aware that the newcomer was settling back down in front of his tent, the raven looking at her with a cocked head.
"This certainly changes things." Warriv began, sounding grim.
"Were you not expecting it?"
"Well, yes, I was, but I now am beginning to share your fear that the Rogue are not enough to battle this."
"So, what are you saying?"
"Are you going to visit Akara tonight?"
"Do you mean am I going to offer myself up to the Rogue tonight?"
"Favors may not be in your nature, Dierdre, but you've been growing quite restless in this camp," he chuckled, "and do not think that I am overstepping my bounds, mi'lady, because although you have only been here a short time, your nature is quite obvious to any who would take two seconds to speak with you. Gheed is downright frightened of you, in fact."
"As he should be, weasel." She smirked as Warriv began to laugh. The green-eyed stranger was eavesdropping, and she was tempted to shout something foul in his direction, but for some reason unbeknownst to herself, she decided to let him listen.
"But Dierdre, will you? Will you fight for the Rouge? As you have told me on more than one occasion, you are prepared to."
"Truth be told, Warriv, I am quite tempted," she sighed, looking over at the gentle beasts penned next to her, "I'm ready to move on from here anyway."
"Then blessed be you," he sighed, looking tired, "something needs to go well for a change, and perhaps you will be able to go home finally."
"Something tells me that if I get involved, I may never see home again." Her smile was something that concerned Warriv.
"Dierdre…" his voice trailed off in a fatherly tone.
"Remember what any preacher would say," she smiled at him, "'Death is only the beginning', and if God has a path set out for everyone, I will be fulfilling it. Besides, we all just try to delay the inevitable, though some tend to hasten it." She grinned in a coy way and he laughed knowingly. Warriv had been one in camp that truly tried to make Dierdre feel welcome from the day she stepped into it. She felt no harm in telling him who, and what, she was. He, in turn, regarded her with much respect.
"Then God shall be proud of His children this day."
"So, you'll be helping?"
"I think I may, perhaps after I talk Charsi into mending my armor and blades."
"You know she will, such a kind girl she is."
"Will you go East again, Warriv, if this all passes?"
"There would be no need for me to stay, and the wagons are laden for trade," He smiled, "Besides, the Rogue will need resources from the East in order to rebuild here, if we do not get wiped off the face of this world first."
"I doubt we will, Warriv, now, off to Charsi." Dierdre smiled at her friend before returning to her small tent. She opened her chest and removed some studded leather, a belt, heavy boots, and a helm, all nicked and rather worse for wear. She pulled a bundle from the bottom and carefully unwrapped it to reveal two wrist blades, shining and sharp, but also nicked and tarnished. She had not used any of her gear since the day she arrived in the Rogue Encampment. She pulled a bag of gold from the bottom as well and hefted her gear over her shoulder, ready to approach the blacksmith. She looked back for a moment and saw the green-eyed stranger whose gaze was riveted to the wrist blades that she held so lovingly in her right hand. For a moment she thought fear was upon his eyes, but at the same time there was a great disgust. She swallowed her angry comment and turned on her heel, marching deliberately to Charsi's forge.
Charsi worked fast with brilliant skill. Although she lacked her magical smithing hammer, Dierdre's equipment had never looked so good. As she donned the armor and tied her wrist blades at her side, there was not a set of eyes in the encampment that could mistake what she was. It was probably more than a little unsettling to realize that an assassin had been living in the encampment undetected for so long. Her pale skin showed beneath the dark sepia tone of the leather. A metal hairpin, one of the sole remembrances from home, held her long black brown hair securely and out of harm's way. She turned her honey-brown eyes to Akara's tent, noticing the setting sun. It was now or never, that she knew, and with purpose she strode to the Healer's tent.
As she approached, she was surprised to see the lanky druid sitting quietly, eyes closed, in front of Akara's tent. She blinked quickly before frowning and standing nearby. He opened his eyes slowly and eyed her. Before any words could be exchanged, Akara emerged from her tent. Her face drooped slightly at the turnout of two, but she sighed hopefully and looked at them both.
"I am glad to see that the kindness of strangers falls upon the Sisterhood, but I am also sad to see that there are so few." She nodded as if steeling herself, "Your name?" She asked as she looked at the young man. He stood swiftly, the raven beating its wings for balance.
"Kellen Adair, mi'lady." His voice proved his age, deep yet airy. He seemed confident, "I am a Druid of the Northwestern realms."
"That much is obvious, friend." Akara smiled, "Do you have any experience?"
"In the fight, do you have experience in the fight?"
"Well, no, none of yet, but I am trained and prepared." He answered honestly. Dierdre held back a snort. He was nothing but a pup, as druids go.
"Training is fine, but experience is what keeps one alive," Akara seemed to have read her mind, "and what of you?" She turned her attention on Dierdre.
"Dierdre Cam, Assassin of the Northeastern Guild."
"You have been in our camp for quite some time, I am guessing you cannot reach your homeland?"
"No, the way is through the Monastery."
"Are you experienced?"
"What have you done?"
"Too much, mi'lady." She answered truthfully. Akara sized her up.
"You are young, I am sure young enough to have not learned everything."
"Not by a long shot, but I know how to fight, and I have."
"Then perhaps you can train this one." She said, referring to Kellen. The prospect annoyed her before even truly sinking in. Playing nanny to an inexperienced Druid with a superiority complex? How fun.
"I will learn quickly." He spoke up suddenly, looking at Dierdre with a quiet thirst for knowledge. It took her back, so much so that all she could do in response was nod.
"Tomorrow I wish for you to set out into the Blood Moor and vanquish the evil that is approaching our encampment. Our services, as usual, will be at your disposal. Some of the land has changed, so our maps may not be as reliable, I suggest you change them as you go. For now, go and sleep knowing that the Rogue is ever grateful for your help."
So she slept, but yet again, sleep was restless. She awoke some time after midnight and sat up, pulling the pelts off of her and stepping out of her tent, adjusting the tunic she wore. Unabashed of her bare legs, she lifted a water skin from the side of her tent and took a long drink. The ruffling of feathers woke her up further. She looked over to Kellen's tent to see him rip his eyes away from her. The raven simply smoothed its feathers and fell back to sleep. The druid was getting on her nerves, but she would have to put up with him.
"Why aren't you sleeping?" She asked, "Tomorrow is going to be hard, downright dangerous for you."
"And why aren't you?" He asked, looking into the fire.
"I think it is because of some green-eyed druid who keeps staring at my tent while I try to." The young man gained slight color for a moment, but did not move his eyes from the flames.
"I am nervous to be around you."
"Finally, some honest answers," she smirked, "I don't blame you."
"Aren't you insulted?" He looked up at her.
"Why should I be?" She took another large drink, "It is not like my people should be trusted, anyway."
"You are… honest."
"Of course I am. Were you expecting someone completely devoid of morals?"
"To my people, Assassins are."
"Well, perhaps you should not listen to everything they tell you."
"'Tis all I know."
"Then you have obviously not stepped out of your lands before, have you?" Her eyes narrowed slightly.
"No." His reply came softly after a moment.
"Well, then you're just going to have to trust me. I wont let you die."
"How can I be sure of that?"
"Who else is going to protect you?" She snapped. He looked at his hands before bravely back at her.
"I will protect myself."
"Eventually. For now, you need to sleep." He looked at her skeptically, "Okay fine, tell me this pup, what reason would I have for killing you? Your blessed firs? Your loud-mouthed crow? Your tent which is not in much better shape than my own? I do not kill for nothing, Druid. Give me more credit than what your elders have planted in your head."
"Do…" he took a breath of courage, "do not be angry with me, please."
"I am not, but you have to understand what your words say to me."
"I will watch my tongue."
"I'm sure you will, but I could care less if you treat me like dirt," she sighed, "right now, you and I both need sleep. As soon as you do, maybe I can finally get some rest." She sighed and turned her back on him sharply and re-entered her small tent. She was rewarded a moment later by hearing him shuffle into his own and settle down. For the first time since he came to camp, Dierdre finally got a good night's sleep.
They awoke the next day before dawn broke. Warriv rose with them, and while they dressed and geared up, he made them breakfast which they ate gratefully. Dierdre pulled her hair back and fastened it, the shorter locks falling arrantly in her face. Her armor restored and her wrist blades gleaming, she finally felt the thrill of the hunt flow through her again. Her charge, however, looked to be a little less confident. Kellen, although lean, was quite a bit stronger than she. Charsi outfitted him in ring mail and gave him a large shield and a scimitar to wield. He looked a little lost as he stared at his feet. She smacked him on the arm with the blunt of her blade and nodded ahead; the Rogues were awaiting them in order to send them off.
Akara gave them the most recent maps that she could offer, and Kashya did her best to brief them on the weaknesses of the possible creatures they would be facing. And finally, before reality could truly sink in, they were crossing the bridge into the Blood Moor, wondering what truly awaited them on the other side, with distinctly different attitudes toward their fate.