Never /Flirt With Strangers Edit
A Story of Rage Fire Chasm
In Stormwind, one had to accept living next to Goldshire. She remembered the abbess saying that you could go to hell for what happened on the streets of Goldshire after dark. Here in Ogrimmar, the orcs had skipped the road to hell entirely and settled right in next to the main event. She couldn’t be sure that it wasn’t somehow more honorable that way… one more indictment of hypocrisy to nail to the cathedral doors when she got her chance.
It was her first trip to Ogrimmar, let alone the chasm. She found herself lulled into her own thoughts… it was easy to be contemplative here. Easy to pretend the rhythmic pulse that seeped from the ground into her bones, into her body, was in fact her own. Almost, even, a heartbeat… A-live.. A-live… A-live…
It was a rhythm she sometimes remembered in her dreams, starting her awake into the cold embrace of her own unnatural silence. But if there was a lesson in undeath, it was that you could, with time, get used to anything.
Undeath, like death, is no respecter of persons.
It strips away the same things: life, loved ones, property, positions. But had she simply died, she think it would have taken away less. Undeath had found a way to take away parts of her, herself. Things she had thought inseparable. Parts that you were supposed to take with you when you died. Her faith… her calling… and, if the daemon was to be believed, even her very soul and hope of salvation in the Light.
Ha! Prosperina snorted to herself at the thought. That was the thing about losing your faith: it made selling your soul a rather simple proposition.
It also meant for very little guilt when you intended to sell someone else’s soul. And if that wasn’t enough, well, there was one more little thing about undeath. It never failed to give you a chip on your shoulder the size of a tombstone, so to speak. Few could stand to have everything taken away from them and not end up feeling they were owed something. Something big. And that made “guilt” practically a thing of the past.
“…practically do this in our sleep. I mean, with the exception of Prosps here, we’re all pretty experienced for this, so I say we just run in there and don’t let ourselves get too separated.”
The Forsaken had to raise his voice. Behind him, the maw of Rage Fire Chasm pulsed with a light and sound that was neither entirely unnatural nor entirely eldritch. A stiff breeze was a permanent feature of the old quarry pit leading to the chasm: the fires below had an unquenchable thirst… and not just for air. Those in the know whispered of greater dangers than fire lurking below: beings that hungered for that which—like air: ubiquitous, odorless, tasteless—was invisible, but no less essential for life. The sustenance of Archimonde, the mana of warlocks, the quintessential sine qui non. Prosperina was one of those in the know. She was, in fact, counting on it.
“So youz knows, me like charging,” said the orc, thumbing the blade of his axe.
The troll sighed, “Oi mon. Why I always end up wit’ peoples dat do be zerg’n ever’ting?”
“Grool smash things! Haar!”
“Prosperina,” she said, her urban Stormwind lilt stressing the last syllable. Though she spoke quietly, it no less sharply silenced the barely coherent bellowing of the Tauren standing next to her. Everyone turned to look at her.
“Pardon me? Did you say something,” questioned the Forsaken.
“I am sorry,” she continued, addressing herself briskly to the group’s nominal leader. “But we have not been properly introduced. My name is Prosperina, not ‘Prosps.’” The Forsaken began to smirk. “You, Forsaken, would do well to remember that my business here is at the behest of Varimathras. Should I not accomplish my task a I fear he would likely be displeased… warlock,” she finished, drawing out the last word into a hiss. His smirk crumpled.
It was almost true. Varimathras had sent her here, of course. But she had found her own reasons for coming. Or perhaps other reasons had found her. That was the problem with daemons: you never knew who was really pulling the strings.
“As you wish, Forsaken. But do not forget who bears the favor of Sylvanas, and who is just an errand girl,” replied the warlock, raising his hand to display the [Seal of Sylvanas].
“So long as you do not forget who I run errands for.”
With a grimace, he turned on his heel and shambled towards the chasm. Exchanging awkward glances, the Tauren and the Troll followed.
Eyeing her sideways, the orc matched her pace and leaned in to /whisper, “You no worry, Prosperina, me not let you hurt. Me big and strong. You see.” He thrust a bicep into her face and /winked.
The bile rose in her throat at the very idea. But she managed to politely /thank the beast, patting the proffered arm. The orc grinned in response and /laughing, /charged ahead.
This might be easier than I thought.
Her gray-green arms groped pitifully for the book. There was rage in her eyes, but it dimmed with each futile pump of her black heart. The thick, green ichor that served her kind for blood was spilling, in a now familiar rhythm, onto the kiln-fired rock. With each spurt the sulfurous air became more rank as the liquid sizzled and flashed to a foul steam. It was not a good way to die. Thanks to the orc, the rogue had been somewhat too busy to make a clean job of it.
Prosperina planted one foot on the dieing cultists neck, and stooped to pick up the book. As she did so the cultist began to scream. The dialect was thick and difficult to understand, no less so for the lingering effects of her frostbolt. Key words, however, like “infidel,” blasphemer,” and “accursed,” made the intent plain enough.
Gripping the book, she felt the thick, chorded neck flex under her foot and turned just as the orc let fly with a glob of blood-flecked mucous. It struck her cheek and began to travel slowly down to her chin.
“More food for the maggots,” she said to the orc, raising the butt of her staff over it’s head. The beast did not flinch, but began to mutter some kind of discordant sing-song verse, her eyes rolling back in her head.
“I pity you,” said Prosperina coldly. “Whatever gods you worship are about to disappoint you.” She brought the staff sharply down on the orc’s temple. “I know.” The feet jerked, and the verse became a slow exhalation.
“What’s with the charge fest!?!” the Tauren shouted at the orc. This last struggle had nearly been a disaster and the party had paused to lick their wounds. Literally, in the Troll’s case. The furnace-like conditions didn’t help, either. It was all she could do to conjure enough water to slake their thirst.
The orc ignored their angry cries, and directed his attention to Prosperina. It seemed that the orc knew how to do two things: /charging and /flirting, and neither of them well. But Prosperina had not rebuffed him, no matter how it made her stomach roil. And having paid the piper, she decided that now was the moment to call the tune.
“Excuse me, I know that Bazzalan is just ahead, and that some of you plan to fight him. But before you do I must actually speak to him. So if you don’t mind, while you’re all resting, I’m just going to around the bend to finish my quest and then you can do whatever you want.”
“Wait, I don’t remember that—“ began the warlock, who was just as quickly silenced by a hard look from Prosperina.
“Talk first, then Grool smash!” said the Tauren. The Troll just /shrugged his shoulders and sat down.
“Me go, me escort Lady Forsaken,” stated the orc authoritatively.
Prosperina replied with a thin-lipped smile, “Why, I thought you’d never ask!”
“Me no see daemon spawn.”
“Oh,” she replied from her bent-over position, scrawling arcane symbols in a charcoal circle around herself, “he’ll be here.”
“Maybe better he no come. Maybe better you me have some private time,” he grunted, and then laughed at his own joke before /slapping her butt. Prosperina stumbled forward but just managed to avoid breaking the circle as she finished the last form.
This time, she didn’t hold back the spite in her voice when she replied, “Yes orc, I think it’s time you finally got what was coming to you!” She continued to mumble, her back straightening and her eyes flashing as the power came into her. He started, but was only just beginning to react when suddenly…
“Baaaahhh. Baa-Aaaah!” bleated the sheep that had once been an orc. It’s eyes glinting in rage and fear as she clutched the collar and dragged it to her.
“So… the priestess that deals with devils has come to me at last. They whisper your name in dark places young one. You are betrothed.”
The fel tongue seemed to echo throughout the chamber, one moment receding almost to silence, the next reverberating with painful might. The air became scorched and sulfurous, almost toxic. With the daemon’s last word, she fell to her knees choking, beholding a terrible vision. The children of the abbey impaled upon the Gothic minarets; her sisters their eyes gouged and their tongues cut out howling unintelligibly in the streets; canals filled with blood and worse; and herself, presiding over it all from the keep tower. She turned to the boy king and…
“Enough!” She struggled against the cacophony of whispers and cries that clawed at her mind. “You have no power over me!”
“This is my realm, little priestling. Here I have all the power!” And now she could see him, his goat body towering above her, wreathed in oily black smoke. Flame belched from his mouth and enveloped her.
The wall of fire passed, but she stood yet, safe within her circle. “A priestess no more, Bazzalan. You forget yourself. Something else got to me first. I am not yours this day, nor any other. Now, will you tell me what I came to learn or shall I leave and take him with me?” The sheep bleated in panic as she yanked the collar.
“I see you have brought the price.”
“Like a lamb to the slaughter,” she /smiled.
“Very well, give him to me.”
She yanked on the wooly head, brandishing her dagger to the throat and with one quick pulling motion she was no longer grasping coarse white coils, but the oily black topknot of an orc.
“You should have known better than to talk to strangers,” she answered with contempt. “In this place, none of us are who we seem.” His blood was poured out, but was just as quickly swallowed by parched stone under her feet.
“Tell me priestling, how does one so young become so terribly cruel?”
Turning to the daemon, she raised her chin and replied, “You may thank The Light for that. Now tell me.”
And he did. And when the last echo faded she was alone. Her whole body trembled, and each breath of the smoldering air seared her lungs. Collapsing to the ground, she sprawled full length upon the stones, letting the deep, sonorous beat throb through every pore of her papery, undead flesh.