Excerpts From Noe Brennan’s Journal (Part One of Five) Edit
Scribbled quickly towards the end of her entries on Duskwood:
Duskwood is behind me. This land is tainted. I could feel it from the moment I passed from the Redridge Mountains into this place of eternal night. I can still sense the sorrow and the desperation and even the cries of the land itself even across such a great distance. The blackness of this place is not something I could easily forget nor can I so easily erase the stain it has left on my soul. It has awakened memories that I thought best left buried in my dreams and in my heart.
Tonight I rest in Kharanos and tomorrow I will take my leave of this land as well. Though my strength has largely returned I find such travel exhausting, particularly given that I have little in the way of direction. Southshore has been suggested to me, but I fear returning to Lordaeron. I know that the southern coast is still held by humanity, but how far has the taint spread? Could it weigh as heavily on my mind as Duskwood has? I suppose this all serves as a moot internal discussion. I am heading north, and I must see my homeland again. Perhaps I will even venture as far as the ruins of our once great capital. For now, though, I will avoid Darrowshire. Some things are best left buried, and after my experience in Duskwood I know that I am not strong enough to face what awaits me there.
Darkshire, first entry.
I arrived in Darkshire today. A strange and melancholy place. Already I can feel the swing of my mood towards the darkness of my past. Recent weeks have been good for me, particularly since joining the Riders and finding friends amongst our ranks. I wonder why now my mood sours. I should think I would find inspiration in the grim determination of the citizenry here. Abandoned by the bureaucrats in Stormwind they represent the very best of humanity and its fight against the darkness of this world. It is as if the eternal battle for our souls is played out here. Goodness versus the blackness; a representation of the eternal struggle that plays out everyday in our hearts.
I feel I should end this preaching and rest now. As my father would say I have a flair for the dramatic, and such a quality makes either the best of priests or the very, very worst. I wonder what he would think of the decision of his eldest daughter to take up the ways of the paladin. I hope that he would be pleased. Either way, I am simply preaching to myself with these words. I doubt anyone is interested in listening to me prattle on about the light.
Strangely, I feel exhausted. I did not think the walk from Lakeshire would prove so tiring. I shall take leave and find my bed, and awaken rested to face this land in the morning.
In the early hours of morning.
It has been some time since the dreams of my past have troubled me, but tonight they have been as fresh as ever. Every time Michael comes for me and I reach for the blade I slew him with only to grasp air. Then he is on me, and I am awake with the smell of sickly death still in my nostrils. Over the years, I have found that I cannot sleep after such nightmares, and I find myself restless and pacing here in my tiny room. I know that I am prone to obsess over such visions, but I have never grasped at the dream as long as I have this morning. I consider dressing and either having a drink in the tavern – something I have long scorned – or venturing into the wilderness of this land. But I do not feel well, and I wonder if I am perhaps succumbing to the recent weeks’ activity. I should rest more or I feel I may fall into exhaustion. I will endeavor to at least find some rest tonight.
A few days later.
I catch only glimpses of sleep, and even then I do not rest. The nightmare becomes only more vivid and realistic with each passing night. Not only do I wake with the smell of death and his horrible shrieks in my ears, but now it seems as if every nerve ending in my body fires as if crying out in pain as he renders my flesh. The dreams have never been so vivid, and have never tortured me so. I find myself sinking into despair, and several times I have been overwhelmed with tears at my own plight and that of my brother’s. Resurrecting such memories is only robbing me of my strength, and I wonder why I torture myself so. I feel as only the Light sustains me now.
This morning I ventured into one of the graveyards that dot this cursed land on assignment. There, shambling in plain view was the specter of what once was surely a man, but not is only sinew and bone. I was not prepared for such a sight…. It had never occurred to me the impact witnessing the living dead again could wreck on my mind. I quickly fell back – fled might be a more applicable term -- and stripped off my gloves and helmet, and crashed into a nearby stream. Over a period of minutes I regained my breath and steadied my shaking hands. And then I went back. I do not know what drove me, but my exhaustion and fear seemed to slip away. Then I attacked. I had thankfully never had the opportunity to use many of the abilities granted to me by the Light, but I brought forth all of my strength against this creature and its companions. I had always taken my Order as one of peace of defense, but I now understand why the Order arose in the first place. Destroying such abominations is a necessary task if the world is to find enlightenment. I finished the grisly task, and my arms tingled for hours from the strength of the exorcism casts I used against the creatures. Afterwards, however, the exhaustion returned. As I write this my stomach churns and I can barely lift my arms. I fear for my ability to complete my tasks here, but more and more I fear for my own health. Why do these horrible dreams plague me? I need rest.
Three days later.
My condition worsens, and I only narrowly averted disaster. I still work for the people of Darkshire, and following another lead I attempted to put down another undead monstrosity. It simply overwhelmed me, and I only narrowly escaped with my life. I have long endeavored to handle such issues myself, but I even in my best days I could not handle such a creature. Two Riders, Skepti and Wimgin, offered their aid, and I graciously accepted although I feared they might notice my pale visage. Most of the color has bled out of my flesh, and even my eyes have dulled in color. I’ve noticed that my wits have dulled, and I even speak in a dull, slower tone.
We put down the beast, and then quickly parted ways. I have previously worked with Wimgin, but he apparently did not notice my frailty. If he did, he said nothing of it. After we parted ways I endeavored to return to Darkshire, but the combat has drained me. I have made it as far as the river that separates Duskwood and Elywnn before violently retching blood along its banks. For the first time I am afraid of my own death, and as I laid along the shore I vowed that once I reached Darkshire I would return to Stormwind and the Church to see what they could make of my condition. I feel as if I am wasting away! If necessary I will call on Shandala. She seems wise in such ways, but I greatly fear looking weak.
In a moment I will rise from this bank and return to town. In a moment.
The next day
I awoke this morning on the bank of that damned river covered in leaves. I slept nearly an entire day, and already the sun fades. I am lucky the wolves that prowl this land did not make a meal of me. Mercifully, my sleep was deep and uneventful, although I felt I could go on sleeping forever. Some of my strength had returned, and I rose with the intention of finally trekking to Darkshire. I made it as far as Sven Yorgen’s camp. They have been gracious enough to give me food and drink and allow me to bed in one of their tents.
Three days later.
I am still making sense of the past days, and given my weakness in both mind and body I feel that it will be some time before I can gleam anything from my experiences. I will endeavor to write down what I remember so that I may later come back and analyze it.
I left Sven’s camp early the next morning, though I could barely dress myself. None were awake when I rose, and I left early for fear that they would insist I stay longer. I did not have any intention of dying in a tent in that forsaken place! I must have been more feverish than I thought because I wandered listlessly and only vaguely in the direction of town. Before long I found myself in the Raven Hill Cemetery, the undead swarming amongst the gravestones. I must have caught the attention of one of their ranks for he quickly fell upon me. I believe that I was saved only by my shield as the simple beast ripped it from my grasp giving me the time to take stock and turn the monster. We fled in opposite directions, and I stumbled into the woods. It must have wounded me for I felt the blood following down my arm and pooling in my mail gloves. I stumbled again towards Sven’s camp, mumbling the words of the healing prayers that I had so often used. Alas, illness combined with blood loss proved to be too much, and I collapsed and finally passed out just outside of the graveyard.
I have no idea how long I slept nor does my memory server me well before I awoke this morning in one of the abandoned buildings in Raven Hill, my wound firmly bandaged and my polished gear lying by my side (including my lost shield). Only a handful of jumbled memories – or perhaps a dream brought on by illness? – still exist of what transpired, and I shall endeavor to record them here to the best of my knowledge.
I remember only a male visage, his aged face pale and his robes black. He was human, this I know, because he told me as he tended to my wound. He never did speak his name, but he assured me that I would recover from both the wound and my illness.
“How did you know I was sick?” I asked.
“I know much child, and I have been watching you.”
“Yes. For some time now. I witnessed your time in Dwarven lands as well as your deeds in Lakeshire.”
“Ah, that is the question, my dear. I watch because I was asked too, and because you are of great interest to someone very important to you.”
“She did say you were always very smart?”
I struggled and tried to sit up, but again my strength failed. “Where is she? Can I see her?”
“Hush, and rest. I will tell you what she wishes to convey. You are weak, Norair Brennan, and if your Light cannot even protect you from the minor horrors of Darkshire then you are far too small to ever face the true horrors of war. She urges you – and I urge you – to give up this silly childishness. There is nothing noble about what you do. You are nothing more than a scared little child trying to hide behind nobility and right action. Stop pretending coward, and forget about your family and ever redeeming yourself.”
“Sleep, and then walk back to Darkshire tomorrow. You will recover in time, and then move on. Forge a life for yourself and forget you were ever a Brennan. You do not deserve such a name.”
When I awoke the next day I quietly dressed and returned the Darkshire by the road. Here, again in my tiny room, I recall this tale and consider my future. I feel shamed again, and my own weaknesses are exposed and laid bear to the point where I can barely stand it. I feel like that child, quaking in my armor and unsure of that I have the strength to walk this path.
My tasks are, thankfully, finished in Darkshire, and tomorrow I will again take to the road. I need time to think, to escape, and figure things out. I travel again, but I am not sure if I travel as a paladin any longer….