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#13855150 Sep 09, 2018 at 05:46 PM · Edited 3 years ago
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33 Posts
(Warning: The below story contains some blood, some rather dark imagery, and describes maybe just what is going on behind those laughing eyes of our favorite farmgirl. If those kind of things aren't your cup of tea, you might want to click back. Fair warning!

Kela's speech is in white. Each color is a different character. All are figments of Kela's imagination and nightmare, so any resemblance should be taken with a massive grain of salt.)


The outside night was calm- the sea lapped against the stone of the breakwalls and the sides of ships, even as the periodic rain showers added a normally welcome sound of raindrops pattering against surfaces. Around her, the sounds of sleep issued from many others. But for Kela, well... sleep had her in its grips, yes. But something else did, as well.

It was happening again.

She twisted. She turned. Hands gripped the blanket, even as she did her best to wrap herself in it. And in the end, all she could honestly do was clench herself up as the night went on, her mind caught up in darkness of its own manufacture, of her own making- something she seemed to do almost like a bad habit. Maybe it was a bad habit- but where did it come from? How did it start? She was sure she knew- but then, it kept slipping away.

Or maybe you just don't want to admit you know. You don't want to admit anything, do you?

That voice in her dreams again... even as it took shape, she was already getting tenser. Her body curled into a ball, the rough blankets curled around her as she sank down, into a dream.

One of what she figured was her personal hell.

*******

It was the mines again. Screams and rough shouts echoed off the walls, and the only thing on her was the pile of rags she'd been provided with to wear, the only thing in her hands a broken, twisted mess of metal that couldn't decide if it was a spear or a sword.

She was deep in a pit, ringed with a lattice of metal and wooden spikes, lit by torches from above. Even now, she could see beings all staring down at her. Some she remembered all too clearly- ogres wearing the same things from her time in the slag pits in Frostfire, and among them members of the Horde, all jeering, cursing, even spitting at her, including one goblin who stared down at her, without even a hint of a smile- all businesslike, with a file in his hands.

That wasn't the bad part. Among them, stood... no. Her eyes had to be deceiving her. There were swatches of blue standing in among them, each with scowls on their faces.

Superior officers, scowling with disdain. She even spotted the Lord-Marshal among them, his one good eye stern and unmoving from her, Bishop Sweete by his side, similarly staring. Among them, she could see others she looked up to- several former and current faces, each who either spat in her general direction, or outright scorned her- or even turned their backs on her.

But still she stood tall. She had to. Hell, she'd show them all-

Then she spotted more. Shining blue eyes glared down at her, and she nearly melted on the spot.

“...I didn't- you have to listen to me, I wasn't myself-”

They shut and turned away, just as something hit the ground in front of her. An arrowhead lay on the ground, split in half from the impact.

“Wait! No, don't go! Please!”

Alongside the blue eyes, a blonde ponytail swept away, even after one last callous look back. A sniff of disdain, and a bit of spittle hit the ground as some of her closest friends left her to rot.

Kel's heart nearly shattered. They were both looks she'd never have expected on them, of all people.

“...I'm still going to fight. I don't care if nobody believes in me, at all- I'm still going to battle on!”

“Edos einai och polemi'eros, Kelasande.” (You are no warrior, Kelasande.)

Standing at the edge of the pit, black hair obscuring her features, was a face she'd do most anything for to not have the look it had right now. Standing taller than she'd even be able to reach on her own. Kela took her first step back, a mix of fear and panic on her face.

“No... Tera, don't say that! We traveled together, and saved each other's backs so many times I've lost count! Don't do this to me, I can't-”

The horned head shook back and forth, her hooves stomping back and forth. Then, with a scream of anger, the monk threw her hands forward. Jadin lightning pulsed forth from her hands, and the closest ground as the bolts danced through the pit... was the misshaped hunk of metal Kela had been holding. For a solid minute, she shuddered as the chi energy from one of the people she'd called friend burned through her system, exiting out of her feet, and then finally dying out, sending her to her knees, gasping for breath.

“...I didn't... please, Tera... whatever I did, I'm-”

“Sorry? Apologizing? Your usual habit when faced with anything?”

The threesome was reunited, it would seem. A tall night elf suddenly stood next to the draenei, longbow in her hands, and a look of murder on her face.

What little color in Kela's face just drained away- right before her sluggish feet had to propel her as arrows struck, sending chips of rock sparking up as her bare feet skidded and leapt to get out of the way of the shower of arrows. She avoided each one, but then again, she knew exactly what Kiera was doing. She was playing around, like she used to with stray orc scouts as they'd had to sneak through Durotar.

“...dammit, if you're going to shoot me, then shoot me! Stop with this fucking playing around and just do it and get it over with, Kei-!”

The shot came. But it wasn't what she was expecting. It was no twang of an arrow, but the loud retort of a rifle, at close range. Blood spurted out- her blood- onto the filthy rock floor, and the crowd howled with glee, even as she clamped a hand over the wound in her side.

It hit meat. No organs over there, but plenty of muscle, which meant a slow bleed. Even as she pulled her hand away, and was greeted with the sight of a fresh gush of it, her eyes shifted up to the rifle that Kiera was now carrying. She'd always talked about learning to hunt with one- and it turned out that she'd chosen her former friend to be her first prey.

“Like a stupid, sick deer. You could not survive without us to protect you. You come to us, with a story of heartbreak, of loss, of not being good enough, and then what do you do, Kelasande? You make us take care of you, you impose on the both of us, and never contributed close to what you spent. How many nights did I have to hunt, to risk my life, just to feed us because we felt sorry for you and let you buy whatever you wanted?

Oh, but you 'never' spent anything on yourself. You sent every last coin home. Do your parents know you pay their bills with blood money, Private Raiwood? Or that you live off the charity of others because they feel sorry for you, because you're so pathetic? 'Oh, poor me! I can't afford the clothes to make myself look good so I'm going to whine and sulk until I get what I want!' It worked with us, to a point... but thankfully your current 'friends' know enough to avoid doing it. Don't you, Lord-Marshal? Your Excellency? Sergeant?”


As Kiera called each of them, each one of them nodded, or spat more curses.

“You see, little weed? They hate you, because they know who you really are. What you did, what you can do, and what you can't do. And why you worry so much when those close to you are hurt.”

“Sh-shut up! All of you, just... shut up! Shutupshutupshutupshutup! STOP IT!”

“...because you never did like to be alone, did you, daughter?”

No. No. It couldn't be.

The rest of the figures parted, as a number of people further stepped forward, and just the sight was enough to force her to the farthest corner away from them. But even as she did so, it was like the pit shifted, the lip following her, stretching out to keep them within speaking and sight distance.

“You are a failure as a farmer. A failure as a soldier. And I wish I had married you off as soon as I had gotten an offer on you. You send home money you beg off your friends, or you earn by spilling the blood of whoever you are sent against.”

Each word struck her like physical blows, and she cowered in the corner, trying to make herself look smaller.

“Bah. Not even worth the time I spent.”

“And she thinks herself squire material, hm? I've scraped stronger smears off my boots.”

No. Not him, too. Not them.

Another man's rugged face, this one in full armor, scowled down at her. Beside him, another woman, this one in the blue of the Regiment, and the armor of the Cavaliers.

“All that time I spent running you around Westridge, and I could have spent that time on a better recruit, instead of coddling you like an egg, Raiwood. I ought to have let you kill yourself with training, or at least made you wash out. Not as talented by half as a number of the others I helped to train, that's for damn sure. And then you sit and blubber like a child at things that the army has to do, because it's upsetting you personally. Because you're too weak to understand that rules are rules.

Weakness doesn't belong in an army, Raiwood. And neither do you.”


Something hit the ground hear her, and then something else. She looked out enough, and her heart sank. Her blade had been tossed back to her- which meant that the hunk of metal in her hands was all that was left of that Lightforsaken spear she'd been pushed to have.

It was in four parts- it had been two, but the metal had been so tortured, so riven that the pommel and handle had shattered as they'd hit the stone floor. It was unusable. Broken.

“...and the blade finally matches the wielder.”

Pinned up against the wall, Kel darts forward and scoops up a hunk of the pommel, and then she lets it drop. It's true. Her five feet of steel is just, well... a broken mess.

“...she can't even hold her weapon. Can't take care of it, can't do much of anything, and yet she still thinks I'd cheerfully make her a squire, simply because she thinks she's earned it.”

The knight scoffed in her general direction again, and leaned down, a distinct look of displeasure on her face.

“Raiwood. Look at you. Cowering in the corner like the kicked farm dog you really are. No courage, no respect, and always thinking and hoping someone will show you mercy because otherwise you're completely worthless in a fight. You think I'd ever take on someone who shows as little promise as you? I'd sooner shave my head and take on a first-day recruit, and even then, they'd show more skill than you ever do! We all see what you do- you throw yourself out there and fight your hardest, and if you get hurt, so much the better! It's like a badge of fucking honor you wear- 'oh, look at me, I couldn't get out of the fucking way fast enough, everyone crowd around and help me and tell me how brave I am!' You're not brave. You'll never be knight material. So help me, I'd sooner see you in a ditch on the side of the road.”

The words were like blows. Even as she pushed herself back, she waved the mess of metal in her hands in the direction of the voice, and the laughter and scorn grew.

And then she heard it. Clapping. Slow, sarcastic claps, even as one more form walked up to the edge of the pit, and leapt down into it, causing the rock wall to crumble, revealing a large steel door, covered with glyphs. She spotted the sigil of the Horde, and also that of the Iron Horde. There was the mark of the Defias Brotherhood, and even the chevron of the First in the morass of symbols.

But her eyes were still on the figure instead of the door, even as an unholy racket started sounding from the other side of it. The scraping of metal against metal was practically deafening, and the screeching sounds sent shivers down her spine.

But then her eyes landed on the figure who was slowly approaching her.

His clothes were scorched through. No, no. Please no. Not you.

Even more so his skin. Go away. Stop coming towards me.

The side of his face hung down, showing off bones and teeth, from where the fire had peeled it away. I don't want to see! Leave me alone! Someone help me!

But the other side of his face was untouched, the same as it had been the last day she'd seen him. GoawaypleasegoawaysomeoneIneedyouthisisn'trealit'snothappening!

“Look at me, big sister. Look at everything you caused. Because you wanted to chase your dreams.”

Cowering behind the weapon, Kela averted her eyes, still. But then, she didn't have a choice. His hand reached out, still warm, still as it had been when he'd been alive, and seized her by the ponytail. He gave a hard yank, and sent her stumbling into the center of the pit, right where every single pair of eyes could see her.

And she could see him.

Shorter than she'd been. He hadn't gotten the black hair her mother had, but he'd gotten the same blue eyes- only one of which was still functioning properly. The right side of his face still looked like it had, the day she'd swore him out in Booty Bay. Though he was still dressed like he'd been when she'd finally tracked him down in Westfall, with the red bandana around his neck, and the blade at his side. Defias to the end.

“Oh, big sister... you're not thrilled to see me? After all this time, and you still try to hide it- you killed me. You were the cause of all of this, around you. They don't like you. They never have liked you. They tolerate you; put up with your stupidity because you're useful to them. You can catch a blade. You can stop a bullet. You can die messily on their spears, be roasted alive or frozen solid by their spells or be left for dead and made a spectacle of by your captor. People hurt because of you. They die to protect you. They give. Up. Their. Dreams. All so you can live. Maybe they feel sorry for you? Maybe they love keeping you around as an example, big sister.”

“...Kieran. Please, st-stop this... it was my fault, it was all my fault...”

She kept stammering it, over and over. Her lips moved, and it came out, and there was nothing she could really do to stop it. Her head shook, back and forth, even as the weapon slipped from her grasp and clattered against the floor. The words surrounded her, the jeers rained down upon her, and she did her best to wrap herself into a little ball to hide, right there in the middle.

“...pathetic. Look at you, Kela. This is what they see when they look at you. They hide it behind bright blue eyes, behind quiet smiles, and the veneer of command. But they all have the same opinions of you.”

“Weak.”

“Cowardly.”

“Suicidal.”

“A waste.”

“You should have never come back.”

“We hate you.”

After a time, the hand upon her ponytail released it, and Kieran simply leapt up out of the pit, landing right on the edge to cluster with some of the Defias she'd had to put to the sword to bring him home.

“...I think it's time we end this mess. Open the door. Let them tear her apart.”

The cries grew louder, and the great steel door creaked open. Under it, mechanical arms tipped with sharp weapons poked free, and then, with a great shriek, it raised up.

Countless things swarmed out from under it. Constructs of steel and flesh that she tried to bat away, even as they sank into her flesh, sending squirts and drips of blood everywhere as they flecked away her flesh. Her hands yanked her weapon back to her, only to find it in more pieces- but she still fought. Even as the jeers and the cheers and the shouts rained down, she still fought.

But it was a losing battle. The pain grew, even as her body tired, and her vision started to grow dark. She lost feeling as her body tried to conserve blood. But the blades kept working, and soon she spotted several of them carrying away things.

That lump looked like her hand. That one a foot, and a hunk of her leg. Soon, all she could do was twist her head, even as she lay in a slowly growing pool of her own blood. Thumps sounded near her again, and she felt something thump her in the side, sending her onto her back. She stared up at Kieran, her eyes the only thing able to move, even as she struggled to breathe.

“Die, Kel. And when you go out and die, on the battlefield, on a torture rack, or even on your bed should you make it until you're old and gray? I'll be waiting for you. I'll drag your soul to the abyss and then you'll feel everything you deserve. Over and over and over again... because it IS what you deserve.”

He'd taken up her spear. It was raised above his head, the blood-stained tip gleaming with viscera and blood and everything else.

“...but for now? I'll settle for this.”

The spear fell. Her eyes, tears dripping out of them, could only watch as it thrust closer and closer to her face-

Shunk.

*********

With a gasp and a muffled cry, Kela sat up in bed, her blankets and the shirt- emblazoned with the chevron of the First- soaked with sweat.

Tonight's had been more vivid, more intense than most of the dreams. But still, they haunted her.

Swinging her legs off the cot in the barracks, she took a few deep breaths, using a bit of the blanket to wipe the sweat from her bare arms, her legs, and her forehead, shoving them to the end of the bed. Outside, bells tolled five times. They were expected to muster at seven. She'd laid down at half past midnight.

Slipping some cloth pants over the underwear she'd worn to bed, she padded quietly past bunks, doing her best to keep silent, even as she came out into a training yard that was open to the sky. She found a quiet spot behind some equipment boxes, and sat down on the stone, simply stretching and listening to her body protest.

Heading into battle on four hours of sleep. It was madness.

But so was what waited for her when she closed her eyes. It hadn't mattered that it had been a month. It hadn't mattered that he was still back home, in the earth, buried under six feet of soil and had been buried with a priest of the Light in attendance and everything. It hadn't mattered how many Horde she'd put to the sword in Lordaeron.

He hadn't forgiven her. Wouldn't forgive her.

Or, perhaps more likely, she'd never forgive herself for it.

But those would be questions for later, even as she settled down to wait, until the bells would start ringing again, and the officers would storm through the barracks, waking everyone up for another day that she hoped to see the end of.

Because then, it would be time to go through the same motions, all over again.

They'd be there. They'd be waiting.

And so would he.

Maybe it was her penance to go through this. Maybe this was the price she was paying because she'd failed, because she wasn't strong enough.

It was hers to pay, and hers alone.
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#13855162 Sep 09, 2018 at 06:01 PM
Members
33 Posts
Thoughts:

One of the things that I've embraced about Kela is the fact that she is, at her core, a flawed character. Normal PCs in Warcraft are treated as if they are some supernatural force of unyielding power, who can slaughter battalions of soldiers and hordes of bandits with but a few simple swipes of the sword, and yet not have a single problem sitting down to eat afterwards with thier friends and still not having any problems at all with whatever's going on in thier heads. They kill abominations, tyrants, and every other thing the world throws at them, and they still keep a sunny outlook. They move onto the next place that needs them, and there's no lasting damage.

On the other hand, well, Kela is a woman who's been through a lot in the last few months. She's seen things. Done things, and heard stories of far, far worse, and lost far too much as far as she thinks.

The overall theme of the piece is "guilt". Kela is very strong, but past all of that, is an overwhelming sense of guilt over most everything. Why did something happen? Because she wasn't strong enough, or something. Or that she ought to have been there, to not let it happen.

It's also a fact that a lot of this is still carried over a number of past things, as well- the memories she still has from Draenor, and of her thoughts that she is the one, at the root, responsible for the death of her brother. She's been trying to shake this for the last while, but things are starting to come through the cracks.

The one person Kela has all the trouble in the world forgiving, in the end, is herself. She refuses to absolve herself of that guilt because it spurs her on. It gives her a reason to get better, and to keep pushing herself to be better. But inside, the guilt is starting to eat away at even that, as well.

I, myself, have stated before that I don't mind setbacks on goals. It makes everything just that much more realistic, and it also illustrates the fact that characters are mortal, and that they can fuck up royally- and even wrestle with things in their mind.

She's trying to get better. But once nestled, these things take time to uproot. Will they come any time soon? I don't know. But anything's possible.

Let me know what you all think, if you like!
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