Disclaimer: I own nothing but Odyssia and Tel. Blizzard, on the other hand, has a share in the custody of my soul...
Survivor's Guild 2: Odyssia Springwhizzle and Telemakos Sparkhammer
She was trying to protect him. She was always trying to protect him. She had been trying to protect him since the day he was born. But deep in Gnomeragan, surrounded by leper gnomes, without allies, and running very low on mana, Odyssia realized that she was going to fail.
"Tel," she whispered. "I'm sorry…"
"Shut up, Dyssy."
"Strider on your left." She turned automatically at her brother's shout, reaching inside of herself to the reservoir of mana that was running dangerously low. She threw a shadow bolt at the gnome on the mechanostrider, knocking him backward off his mount. He landed with a sickening crack and didn't get up. His strider wandered aimlessly for a bit before shutting itself down and collapsing into a heap of gears and metal.
"Can you call your voidwalker again?" Telemakos asked. Odyssia shook her head.
"He's already been killed three times today. He's sulking. Not that I've got the mana to summon him anyway."
"It's bound to you, isn't it? Doesn't it have to answer?" Tel had never really understood the connection between a warlock and her demons. It wasn't simply as easy as calling them up and setting them on your enemies. There were rules and contracts, agreements to be honored. But Tel was a warrior to the bone. He was of steel, sweat, and swords. He couldn't follow the nuances of a contract or the bonds of a minion. He didn't understand magic.
She opened her mouth to begin to explain, but all that came out was a shout, "Tel, behind you!" He lifted his sword as he whirled, slicing the leper's head off cleanly, and then there was no time to explain as the next wave of lepers hit them. Dyssia set five or six of them on fire, hoping that would be enough to keep them away from her before turning to the crowd besieging Tel. She sent shadow bolt after shadow bolt into the fray, but there were too many and she didn't have enough mana. One of the gnomes she had Immolated was insane enough to ignore the flames covering his body and charge her, raising his rusted axe. She whispered the incantation for Drain Life, feeling his strength flowing into her. But health would do nothing to restore her mana, and Tel was in trouble.
"Tel!" she shouted, but he didn't respond. She drew in a breath, preparing to release another bolt, but there was nothing. He mana was gone. She paused. There was one thing she could do, something she hated doing, something she never did. Not since that time when…
Tel cried out and the lepers parted just enough for her to see him, his sword stuck in a leper gnome's helmet, a deep cut bleeding from his right shoulder, a bruise already forming on the side of his head. Or maybe that was from earlier. They had come so far, so deep. And for what? For a few measly miles of a broken and disused tunnel that no one had lived in for years? Tel wrenched his sword free, but Dyssia could see the weariness on his face, the pain in his eyes. He raised his sword in his left hand—his off hand—and weakly blocked a swing from a leper gnome's sword. He was bleeding out and for the first time, Dyssia wished she knew a healing spell. But she was a warlock. Warlocks brought death and destruction; they made pacts with demons. They hid in the shadows and worked dark magic. Warlocks didn't heal people. And apparently, they didn't save them, either.
She still remembered the words for the incantation. She couldn't forget them; they had been burned into her brain and every time she reached for mana, her tongue tripped on the words. But Odyssia hadn't used Life Tap since Stranglethorn. Surrounded by zombie trolls cannibalizing each other to stay alive (well, not alive per se…), she had drawn too much life. She had maxed out her mana reserves and nearly exploded with the energy bursting through her veins. The trolls had been dead in an instant, one shadow bolt each, but she had nearly died, too. And she hadn't been able to stop. All that mana, all that power, and so much she could do with it… She had enjoyed killing those trolls, she had thirsted for more, she had drawn more and more, converting her life force to mana until she glowed with it. And when her heart failed and the darkness gathered at the edges of her mind, she had laughed until she fell.
She had come to a week later in a tent at the Explorer's League dig site, with a worgen sitting wearily beside her. Nycklaus had found her when he'd gone looking for the trolls, and it had taken him a week of rejuvenation spells to repair the damage the mana overload had done to her body. Who knew mana could be so dangerous? She had vowed that day to never again use Life Tap, not even if she were in true, mortal danger. But now, she wasn't in danger. Tel was. And she had to make a choice.
Telemakos fell, slipping in his own blood under the weight of a leper gnome's swing, and Odyssia didn't even hear herself shout the words to the spell. She barely felt her health draining away; all she knew was that she had mana, she could feel the magic rising within her, and it was so easy to gather that power and turn it into shadows and flames. The leper gnomes fell like wheat before the scythe, until there were none left.
Tel struggled to his feet, awe tingeing on his earnest face. He was always so grim, ever since they had returned to Gnomeragan. It was nice to see an expression other than exhaustion in his eyes. Even if that expression was…fear? Odyssia frowned in confusion. She had killed their enemies. Her brother should be happy, relieved, grateful, not fearful. He shouldn't be running towards her, attacking her. She threw a Bane of Agony in his direction, and he stumbled, but his face set in determination and he stood, jumped. She gathered more mana, ready to unleash a deadly bolt at her attacker, when the hilt of his sword collided with the side of her head and she fell, unconscious and uncaring, into darkness.
She awoke with a throbbing headache and a feeling of guilt she could not quite place. She sat up carefully, feeling the dizziness caused by the lump on her head. Tel swam into her field of vision, worry etched onto his face and everything came crashing back into her memory. She winced.
"Shut up, Dyssy."
"I nearly killed you."
"I gave you a concussion. After you saved my life."
"I nearly killed you."
"So promise to never do it again." He grinned down at her and handed her a glass of water. "In case you're wondering, we're safe now. Some S.A.F.E. operatives got us out in a gyrocopter. We're in the Old Dormitory, waiting for transfer to the surface."
"The High Tinker himself wants us to go to Ironforge. We're meeting up with someone there, an ambassador or something, and we're traveling with her to Gadgetzan in Tanaris."
"Kelsey Steelspark?" Odyssia provided the name of the ambassador the High Tinker was sending to negotiate with the Steamwheedle cartel for trading rights for the Alliance and a refugee colony for the gnomes, who still hadn't managed to retake Gnomeragan. It was a prime mission. "How did we score?"
"You scored," Tel replied. "You pretty much retook the whole old engineering hallway single-handedly. Add that to your previous exploits as hero and adventurer, and you get special assignments. Face it, sis: you've gotten too big for Gnomeragan."
"But I came back to be a part of this fight!" Odyssia protested. "I wanted to help get us back where we belong, back home."
"Hey, don't fight it." Tel put his hand on her shoulder comfortingly. "You never really liked being underground, anyway. Besides, they've got plenty of other heroes willing to slaughter troggs and leper gnomes to their heart's content. You're more important than that. You've got power—"
"That I can't use without almost killing myself and those around me!"
"Control will come the more you use that spell. I talked to your trainer. You just have to learn when to stop."
"So much easier said than done," Odyssia scoffed. She shook her head.
"That's why I'm along for the ride. I can help you, sis. You've just got to let me."
"Right, and what if I try to kill you again?"
"You promised not to," Tel teased. He sobered at the look on her face. "Dyssy, it's ok. It's me. I know how you think, I know how you fight. Do you really think I can't anticipate your attacks and avoid them? I've been watching you fight since you started your training. And I'm a pretty good warrior, so I think I can handle myself. I'm going to help you learn to control your magic whether you want my help or not."
"Why?" Odyssia asked.
"Because I'm your brother, dumbbutt," Tel said. "It's my job."
"And what if I say no?" she said. "How will you convince me to let you put yourself in danger to help me?"
"Easy," Tel smirked. "Magic." He hugged her impulsively, before standing up and bounding away to get them both lunch from the mess hall. She shook her head again and smiled. His absolute certainty that he could fix her made her want to try harder to be fixed. She felt inside herself for the pool of mana, it's regular size easy within her. For the first time since she had discovered mana, since she had given in to her ambition and chosen the path of the warlock instead of following her mother's wishes for her to become a priest, since she had first tasted her power, she felt something new. For the first time, she did not desire more. She felt comfortable and light and realized that she was truly happy for the first time in a long while. She had a goal, a path that would lead her to a place where her ambition would not come before all else, where she could live without fear that her power would consume her. And most importantly, she had someone who would travel that path with her and make sure she came out all right at the end of it.
"So…" she said when Tel came back with lunch. "Tanaris?" His face lit up with a smile, and she smiled back. And she knew that if she stuck with her brother and let him protect her as much as she protected him, then everything would be all right. Like magic.
A/N: These two are always going to be fun to write together. And I did my research: gnomes choose their surnames based on their achievements or talents, so most family members do not share the same last name. Hence Springwhizzle (a warlock engineer) and Sparkhammer (a blacksmithing warrior) can be siblings.