Only Fire

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Only Fire

Postby Anhagath on Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:34 pm

Stars, even here. Great carpets of them lining the sky, a sheet of glimmering white in an indigo sea.

The old mage gazed up, his hands folded neatly before him. Golden eyes blazed softly, his mind drifting as his thoughts cast out into the sky.

The moon, too--so beautiful, wreathed in shimmering light. Yet it isn't our moon, is it? Where is Elune, truly?

"Sir. Sir, your gryphon is ready."

Anhagath sighed, looking forward.

Shadowmoon Valley. As beautiful as it was alien, and a place that haunted his dreams. This wasn't his moon. This wasn't his sky. Nor that of his people--and that was why he was here. These stars were not the sprinkled souls of his fallen kin scattered among the clouds, no; nor were those back home. He'd never have said as much, to the so-called "common folk." They had their beliefs, and these beliefs brought them comfort. Hell, at times even his own cynical mind reached out to the idea with a thread of hope. The idea of immortality, a peaceful eternity looking down on one's kin, had some draw to it. He'd never have said it to Aariam--never have told her that Moonblade wasn't any damned star, just a dead soldier left to rot on Draenor. The idea that they would rise into the sky and shine down on their kin, in death... He knew better. He and his contemporaries had spent many long years looking at the stars, studying their movement in the sky. Astronomy, they called it; the study of celestial bodies. The stars weren't the souls of his kin, taken up by their Goddess. That was some poetry, some fiction, adopted into a welcoming public mind until it had been made folklore. Fact. No; he knew the truth.

The stars were only fire.

And that was what brought him back to this. To Shadowmoon, to Draenor, waiting on a chartered gryphon to carry him to Auchindoun.

"As Nightborne said, some of you never had the fortune to meet Menori Moonblade. I am glad to be able to say that I had the honor."

Anhagath nodded to the human, eyes flicking over the man's battered but well-kept silver and blue armor. "Thank you," he said simply, inclining his head with respect. The man might die, out here, regardless of the situation with the Iron Horde, the Legion, with how beaten back they already were. And what then? Where did human souls go, when they died?

His legs swung into the saddle, his own armor creaking and clanking as he settled into place. The bird knew where it was going, but he could direct it to some extent. He'd keep high, and avoid possible hostile fire from the ground. He urged it onward and its talons clicked on cobblestone. It lurched into a gallop with further pressure from his thighs. Great feathered wings began their powerful beating, and then the ground fell away, and they were airborne: rising swiftly above the treeline, soaring through the cool night air toward Talador.

"Moonblade is an example I would pick of the best soldiers I've known."

If souls were not stars, then what were they? Anhagath believed that a spirit likely faded, in time. Gone, rejoining the soft light of Elune. But there were those who lingered--those who could not find peace. So many ghosts of the dead stayed and screamed, violent in the darkness, for eternity. He had seen it himself, in the cities of the Highborne. Was it because Elune had rejected them? He didn't think so. He didn't think she turned her back on any of her children; there was a redemption in death, even for the most evil of them. Or so he hoped.

But what, then, was Elune?

The moon itself was merely another celestial body. A rock. Was she a spirit that inhabited the rock? Whose power flowed with the reflected moonlight? If that was the case, could a Kaldorei's spirit not embrace the fire of a star?

But they were so far apart.

A pang of loneliness struck him at the concept: of an elf drifting alone in the darkness, their own white, burning fire millions of cold, empty miles from the touch of another. Or perhaps that was death: the knowledge that others were there, the proof, even, by way of the sight of them--but never again being able to touch.

"I admired her as a soldier. I was honored to have known her as a person. She was an example to follow, of both."

The gryphon winged its way over the autumn-colored trees, their leaves silvered by moon and stars. Already Auchindoun was visible, its shimmering dome beckoning him forward. A beacon of hope, from another culture: a potential solution to his grim concerns.

The bird swept lower, and soon the trees were streaking by to either side. The old elf tucked himself down, face nearly buried in white feathers. Yet the touchdown was relatively gentle, a bump as the gryphon's feet and paws struck solid earth, then a moment of galloping forward. Dirt flung up behind them. Within a few seconds they were standing near a flight master, the ancient Draenei handler peering at them beneath bushy white brows, his Fae dragon likewise blinking oversized eyes at them.

"Good evening. Do you speak Common?" Anhagath asked politely, swinging down from his saddle. The old Draenei blinked.

"Yes, I do? Vhat can I help you vith?" His accent was thick, but Anhagath understood it easily enough. He bowed his head, briefly, tightening his jaw and folding his hands before him. All of this planning, and he hadn't even thought about how to address his question. Or rather, he had, but only to those he planned to visit.

"I was wondering if I might speak with a soulpriest," he answered quietly.

"May Elune take and guide her spirit."

The Draenei blinked glowing blue-white eyes, stroking his long white beard and the twitching tendrils that lay therein. "I can try to vind one vorr you, but that may be difficult at this hour," he offered. He was friendly, polite, and Anhagath felt himself lightening a little, felt himself smiling in return.

"If it is not too much trouble, I would greatly appreciate it. Or, I can wait."

A hearty chuckle, and a wave of a blue hand. "You vil haf to wait anyvay, my friend. It vil take time to vind one. Please, make yourselv at home." Before Anhagath could respond, the genial fellow had turned, hooves clopping away on the stone--leaving Anhagath alone at the empty flight point.

He glanced around, and sighed softly; bar a gryphon and a fae dragon staring at him, there was no company. Nothing to do. The trees shivered in a light wind, leaves skittering along the stone, as the mage settled down to wait.

________________

It was over an hour before the flight master returned, another Draenei at his heels. This one seemed more stern, more severe, the humor having leaked from him to leave only a cold and empty gaze.

"Yes?" was all he said. His hands, too, were folded before him; his frame was thinner than most, his white beard long and thin.

Anhagath bowed, briefly, in a gesture of respect. The elder Draenei inclined his body slightly in return. Good; this one would not be frivolous, then.

"My name is Anhagath Moonflame. I am here to speak with one of the Auchenai, if I can."

"You face one. Pleasantries will waste both our times, and mine is precious. Simply speak." The soul priest's tone was not rude, merely indifferent. Anhagath could respect that.

"Very well. You are aware, I presume, that a large number of my people--of our forces, of many races--have been perishing on your--on this--world," he began, correcting himself just in time. Argus was their world--this was only a safe haven. It would be rude of him to forget that.

"Yes. You worry for their souls?" Straight to the point, pale eyes searching his own. Anhagath inclined his head.

"I do. My own people have many beliefs about our goddess taking our souls back into her fold. I have been imagining a soldier dying, only to find that his fallen kin do not recognize him. Or that his spirit is already with them, and now there are two. I wonder if there is not a way to return us to Azeroth."

"I have seen them, at times. I bring them peace where I can, but there are many who will not listen. I am a shepherd, not a jailor. I cannot force them into peace. Or I could-... But I prefer not to."

Anhagath peered, for a moment, wondering at this. "Force them? Hm. I do not imagine a soul can, unaided, pass through the portal back to home. Indeed I do not even know if a spirit would survive the journey, and I do not wish to test it. I imagine there are many thousands of dead lingering near Hellfire, for example--Horde and Alliance both. Orcs, Draenei, Kaldorei... And none of them belong here. In this time, in this place."

It wasn't just for Moonblade, though she was the one who had prompted the thought. What if, indeed, there were hundreds or thousands of Azerothian souls wandering Draenor, their spirits lost beyond time, unable to ever again find kin or friends? If he died here and now, would his spirit forever be kept from those of his long-dead parents, that of his mate?

"And you wish to rectify this. Hm. I do not like them wandering, I will tell you that. You are right in that they do not belong here, though any may find peace in death, given the right circumstances. If a soul is at peace, the where and the why do not matter so much. Many of our bonds become looser, when the living ties which bind us fade."

Anhagath listened, quiet, merely gesturing for the old Draenei to continue, which he did.

"I will help you, though it will take time. I can offer you this: a few of our soul priests can move to Tanaan, under guard, and try to shepherd your souls home. But if they cannot survive the journey, then I do not know how to help them."

This next part... This was the tricky bit. Anhagath inhaled deeply before suggesting what was on his mind. "On my world... those who tamper with dark magic, also deal in souls. They store them, temporarily, in 'soul stones,' and release them or... consume them, later. Would it be possible to use such these to transport them?"

The soul priest stroked his beard. "Such a vessel may well survive the journey, yes. We have crystals and urns for such purposes, ourselves. I will speak to the others, and ask for volunteers--only volunteers, you understand. We have much to rectify here, and many of our kin turned against us. The fight to uncover and slay the traitors is ongoing, and Auchindoun's control is tentative. I cannot send many with you."

"With me?" Anhagath responded, blinking.

"Yes. They will require protection, and someone to speak to their spirits. I will not be able to give you anyone for some days, you understand. Come back in a week, and I will tell you what I can offer you. Ask for Viruun."

"Thank you. If you need to contact me, I can be reached through mail sent to Lunarfall, I imagine. I appreciate your time, Auchenai."

The soul priest gave that faintest of bows again, and then turned, shuffling his way back into the shadows beneath his vast mausoleum.

Too, he gave his thanks and a brief farewell to the broader-shouldered, but still obviously ancient, fae dragon handler. And as he turned away, swinging back into the gryphon's saddle, he felt something unexpected.

Hope.

Perhaps it was not too late for the spirits of the dead. There was no chance they could gather them all, he knew--there would forever be some lost to this place, drifting alone and likely growing slowly mad over the course of many years. But if they could save even a few, he knew it would be worth it. Even a few spirits reunited with their kin.

With their goddess.

The old mage often cared little for lives--he killed as easily as he ate or drank. But in taking a life, he knew a spirit would find redemption, in some way. The soul was far more sacred than a life, in his eyes.

He looked up as the gryphon took off, as they soared higher and higher into the cool night sky. He watched the blanket of stars motionless overhead, looking down again only when it made him dizzy.

"May Elune take and guide them all."

_____________

((ooc -- event may come of this just fyiii))
Last edited by Anhagath on Thu Mar 03, 2016 2:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Only Fire

Postby Aariam on Thu Mar 03, 2016 2:01 pm

Anhagath wrote:"He'd never have said it to Aariam--never have told her that Moonblade wasn't any damned star, just a dead soldier left to rot on Draenor."


That is the saddest thing I've read in a long time. :(

I love it though; and I think I know where Anhagath can get his help. ;)
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Re: Only Fire

Postby Landrian on Thu Mar 03, 2016 6:25 pm

Everyone's been writing some pretty depressing stories lately do we all need a big group hug, but I love this story and kindly ask for more :D
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Re: Only Fire

Postby Calisar on Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:31 pm

Beautifully crafted as ever. So impressive how you detail other characters and build such vivid scenes.

"The stars were only fire"

Of course he'd think that :D

Always in awe of your writing, fingers crossed you do make an event! ;)
"It's silly wrong.. but vivid right"
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Re: Only Fire

Postby Tenshylwin on Fri Mar 04, 2016 6:19 pm

Anhagath wrote:The stars were only fire.


Pfft, we all know they are fireflies that got stuck up there in the dark cloud.

Anhagath wrote:hooves clopping away on the stone--leaving Anhagath alone at the empty flight point.

First thing that came to my mind was two halves of one coconut hitting against each other, cloppery, cloppery, cloppery...

Really great writing, enjoyed that quite a lot!
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Re: Only Fire

Postby Edradir on Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:46 am

Anhagath wrote:The moon itself was merely another celestial body. A rock.


Such evil thought! Many have been slain for far less.

I dare you to say that standing in the middle of a group of Priestesses. ^^

Anhagath wrote:"Yes, I do? Vhat can I help you vith?"


First I thought these are some nasty typos, but it makes indeed sense.
The Dreanei in new Dreanor have not been that long in the Alliance and in touch with common speech.
Nice to have kept that detail in mind.

Beautiful story, Anha. Veep them voming!
Last edited by Edradir on Mon Mar 07, 2016 11:29 am, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Dreanized a line
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