Story: No Memories

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Story: No Memories

Post by Drustai on Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:19 pm

Reposting from the Writing Contest forum.

I'm not a big fan of this story, it was rushed and written on no sleep, plus the word requirements forced me to cut out a lot of supporting detail (and I had to really skimp on the ending). I may revise it at some point, but for now here's the original version.


---

“You are sure?”

“Yes. It was sitting just off Terokkar’s ledge, about fifty meters down. The exterior looked very intact, and the island was large. Cannot say what the state of the tunnels are though, I did not look.”

Drustai curled her tail in thought, and then nodded slowly. If Kiryakk was telling her the truth, then that would mean there was more of Auchindon still mostly untouched by looters. She had always assumed that the southern crypts had all been blasted into rubble or the Nether, but it seemed that one had seen fit to come floating back.

“I came here as soon as I could spare. I knew it would interest you.”

Drustai smiled at the white-robed arakkoa. Kiryakk was one of only a few friends she had left, and they had maintained a close bond for a long time. He might not have agreed with everything she did, but unlike members of her commune he did not try to force his opinions on her. He was one of the few of the non-draenei races that she felt at ease with.

It certainly helped that he spoke fluent Draenei, as well.

“Does anyone else know about it?”

Kiryakk reached a hand up to idly prune his feathered head. For a moment, it appeared like he had not heard the question, as he seemed to instead find more interest in examining the various potted plant life in Drustai’s quarters. He then looked back towards her and finally said, “I cannot say how long it has been there. I might be the first to have noticed. Or perhaps not.”

Drustai frowned, but nodded. Hopefully, no graverobbers had stumbled on to the site yet. At least, no more since the orc plunderers back when Draenor was still whole.

“What are you going to do with it?” Kiryakk asked. His head tilted to one side and then the other as he spoke.

“See what is left.”

“It is disrespectful, you know, to steal the trinkets and bones of the dead.”

Drustai waved a hand dismissively. “Do not give me this again.”

Kiryakk fluffed his feathers and then took a step closer to her. He stuck his cracked beak right into her face, tilting his head downwards so that he could lock his golden eyes with hers.

“I do not say it to chide you, hatchling of Argus, only to advise. Light turns to Shadow, and Shadow to Light. You are once Light, now undead creature of Shadow, but someday you will cross over into the Light again.” He clicked his beak together. “I just wish to see you do it sooner than later.”

Drustai reached a hand up to press against Kiryakk’s beak, and lightly pushed it away from her. The arakkoa let out a huff, and then shook his head side to side violently, as if trying to knock something off. He then immediately pressed his face towards her again, turned completely to the side so as to press his golden eye right up to her face. The eye blinked a few times, and shifted its gaze between her own icy-blue orbs.

“Do not hide from it, hatchling of Argus. You cannot fight the cycle. Not all the bones of your people you can scavenge will allow you to change what has happened or what will happen. Grief must be overcome, not simply endured. You will not find what you seek within the shadows of the past.”

Drustai ran a hand across her horn and then turned away from the arakkoa. Her tail curled behind her. “Are you done?”

Kiryakk stood back up and then leaned on his staff. He tilted his head and then fluffed his feathers out. “Yes, I am done.” He paused for a moment, and then added, “May you one day mind what others say. It would help you in life I think.”

“I thought you said you were done.”

Kiryakk arched his neck back and then shook his head side to side again, causing his feathers to ruffle. He then stopped to look at her, clicked his beak together, and squawked. “I lied.”

Drustai rolled her eyes. Do not worry, she mused to herself, I will mind what others say when they say something I have not heard a thousand times before. She snorted and then walked away from Kiryakk, towards the armoire in her quarters. She reached a clawed hand towards the arcane lock on its surface, and etched the pattern of her personal sigil onto its surface. “Amir,” she said in Eredun. The lock clicked and the door opened.

Drustai browsed through the contents, making sure everything was there. Farseer Sanara, whom despised the fact that Drustai practiced necromancy, had begun a habit of looking through her things—despite the lock—and taking anything she deemed “evil”. It had gotten to the point that Drustai had started to only keep commonly used items in it. She kept the rest at a small camp elsewhere on Azuremyst.

There was a ruffle behind her as Kiryakk stepped over and stuck his beak over her shoulder. He sniffed the air. “Many mana crystals,” he noted.

Drustai growled at the back of her throat, then nodded as she reached for her reagent belt. Though mana crystals were ostensibly for restoring energy after extensive spellcasting or as reagents for other spells, she used this stock for more pleasurable purposes. They were very pure, and very potent—harvested almost straight from a leyline that had been ruptured open by the Cataclysm.

“Yes,” she replied to Kiryakk, as she wrapped her belt around her hips, “Many crystals. For spells. I am a mage, afterall.”

“Mm, yes. Must have your cat’s paws and beetle eyes and snakeskin and what’s-not. Such an odd assortment. What is—?”

Drustai interrupted him by shutting the armoire and sealing it with the lock. Kiryakk squawked in protest, but Drustai paid him no mind. She grabbed her bone staff from the wall.

“I need to go.”

“Oh yes, must rush. Graverobber has urgent date with grave.”

Drustai rolled her eyes and then gestured to the door. “After you.”

Kiryakk fluffed his feathers for a moment and then grudgingly shuffled towards the door. Drustai followed, her hooves clapping against the floor, and waved a hand to dim the crystal lights of her room. She then followed the arakkoa out the door and sealed it behind her.


* * *

As Drustai clutched at the reins of her bone gryphon, she could not help but remember just why she hated flying. She looked down towards the ashen Bone Wastes, far beneath her, and imagined just what it would be like to just fall off the beast and tumble towards the ground. Oh, she could cast a Slow Fall spell on herself, no problem. But for that brief bit of time in free fall, it would be absolute terror--or, at least, as much terror as a death knight like her could feel. She could not understand how Wildhammer dwarves could stand such activities on a daily basis—and they had no backup plan!

She closed her eyes for a moment, collecting herself, before reopening and examining her surroundings again. She was several hundred meters above the Bone Wastes in southern Terokkar Forest, where the broken and now Sha’tar-occupied Auchindoun loomed as a painful reminder of the horrors of the Orc War. What once was a grand, golden dome topped by a crystal spire, now was no more than a husk as corpselike as the bodies it interred. It looked to have crumbled even more since the last time she saw it, buffered as it was by the arcane winds of the Twisting Nether just south of it. In a few centuries, if even that long, the entire Bone Wastes would be torn away from the forest. After that, Shattrath too would be consumed.

Draenor was dying.

Drustai pulled her lips back, and her icy-blue eyes flashed brightly. The orcs would pay for what they did. No matter how many pitfalls she suffered, how many tried to convince her that they were somehow worthy of redemption despite their irredeemable sins, she would see their entire species wiped out.

Like they want to do to us.

She snarled to herself and then turned to look ahead, towards the south where she could already start to see the floating remnants of Terokkar where they had been torn away from the main landmass. During the early years, some of these islands still maintained some life and forestry, but now the plants were shriveled and the trees grayed and hollow. In the Nether, there was little rain to grace those rocks.

Drustai squinted her eyes as she looked for the island Kiryakk had told her of. He had said it was beneath the ledge, some fifty to one hundred meters away. She pushed down on her gryphon’s reins, compelling the mindless construct to begin a descent.

It only took a few more minutes before she found what she was looking for—and exactly what she was hoping not to see. What caught Drustai’s eye were not the sunken ruins atop the island, but the telltale sign of ethereal scavengers—a transporter and several of their glowing arcane devices. She sneered to herself. It was likely the Consortium, seeing as how most of the other groups on Draenor had been defeated in their corporate struggles, but that did little to assuage Drustai’s feelings. She hissed. They were all thieves and soul-robbers, plundering the crypts of her people!

Drustai angled her gryphon straight towards the island. It only took a few more minutes for her to reach the edge, where she settled the construct down and climbed off of it. She grabbed her staff from the saddlebags and then looked around. The island was actually very large, much larger than many of the other husks floating at the edge of the forest. She assumed that the tunnels had given the earth a bit more stability, allowing it to hold together. Likely to be many cave-ins, though, she mused.

Beyond the size, ruins, and ethereal constructs, the only other things of note were the lingering spirits. Drustai frowned. As she had once been an Auchenai Death Priest, she possessed the ability to see partly into the spirit world—namely, to see those spirits that had yet to dissolve completely and still had some tie to the world.

Drustai curled her tail around her leg, and pulled her robe tighter across her chest despite not feeling any chill. In order to maintain her sanity, she had long since learned how to ignore most ghosts, but it still disconcerted her to gaze upon them. After having lived on Azeroth for so long, coming back to once again see draenei spirits was upsetting.

“Especially here…” she mumbled to herself. She clenched her jaw together and furrowed her brow, then shook her head side to side. No memories. Not here.

She looked towards the entrance to the crypt. Like the other tomb-openings scattered across the surface of the Bone Wastes, the crypt was marked only by raised, arched spires, which had once been topped with a green-blue crystal. The rest was set flat atop the earth, with the squared entrance digging down into tunnels. The remnants of braziers could be seen around it, as well, but none remained lit.

Two ethereals sat just to the side of the entrance, seemingly guards of a kind. One seemed to be talking—though it was difficult to tell by any method other than hand gestures—while the other was looking in her direction. Obviously, she had been spotted. The fact that neither was assuming a hostile countenance confirmed that it was the Consortium.

Good, that will make this easier.

Drustai raised her head high and then approached the two of them. She walked with her back arched and her feet moving daintily across the ground, displaying her typical regal posture. The two ethereals looked at each other, then back at her. The one in front pushed himself to a stand and walked up to her.

“Good tidings, noble draenei.” The ethereal spoke in the smooth business-speech that their kind were so fond of. “I am afraid that the Consortium has procured rights to these ruins, and thus all excavation operations within. We are, of course, aware that these crypts are sacred to your people, and in respect of that we are willing to offer most goods that we find for extremely modest prices to you and your kin.”

The audacity these abominations had to offer the relics of her people for sale. “Whom gave you the authority to excavate these ruins?”

“Why, the Sha’tar. We have standing contracts allowing us to operate in unclaimed regions, provided, of course, that we detail any draenic findings to them and provide suitable discounts for those among your kind whom wish to acquire them.”

Drustai bared her teeth and hissed. She did not know if the creature was being sincere, but after the Sha’tar-organized butchery of her kin in the tunnels of Auchindoun she would not put it past them to allow such sacrilege.

“These ruins are not unclaimed. They are draenei ruins. Your Consortium has no place here!”

The first ethereal looked over his shoulder at the second, who simply shrugged. He then looked back towards Drustai. “Well, you see, good madam, I am afraid that our contract gives us salvage rights, as organized with the inclusion and acceptance of your government. If you are a pilgrim wishing to pray, we would be willing to allow-“

Drustai did not allow him to finish. She swung her staff, slamming the skull-top against the lead ethereal and then aiming it at the second. Before he could reach his feet, she had already begun to incant a spell, channeling necromantic energy through the bone. Dark, shadowy tendrils wrapped around the ethereal, causing his enchanted wrappings began to dissolve into dust. The creature gave a wraith-like hiss before its life energies dissolved into the air.

As Drustai turned to finish off the first ethereal, she was suddenly struck as he slammed his body against hers, tackling her to the ground. Her eyes flared and she snarled loudly at him. The ethereal reached to his belt and withdrew a dagger, but before he could stab her Drustai sent a blast of telekinetic force towards his center mass. He flew off of her, giving Drustai a moment to aim her staff at him and channel a cone of chilled wind. His body froze solid for a moment, allowing Drustai to finish him off with another blast of force that shattered him like glass.

She closed her eyes and rolled her head back for a moment, before reaching out to push herself back up. She looked down the crypt entrance, listening for a few moments to make sure no one had heard the scuffle, before venturing inside.


* * *

Drustai’s retribution was swift. Summoning up the many bodies and spirits of the dead interred in the crypt allowed her to make short work of the small Consortium force. She could not help but feel unfulfilled, however. The lack of a flesh and blood body made the deaths provide little sustenance to feed her unholy hunger. There would be more, of course, once this group failed to report in, but Drustai planned to be long-gone by then. She would take everything of value away from these plunderers. A graverobber she herself may have been, but at least the items would be in the care of a draenei, not sold on an auction house to lesser races by greedy ethereals!

Drustai stepped into a side room in the crypt, and rested back against an empty coffin. Though her body felt no physical tiredness, the magic she had done wearied her soul. She reached into her pouch and pulled out a mana crystal, then clutched it in her hand. Waves of warm, arcane power radiated through her as she focused on absorbing the crystal’s energies into herself. She closed her eyes and rolled her head back, allowing herself to indulge in one of the only pleasures she could still feel.

Her bliss was disturbed in what seemed like an eternity later by a supernatural chill across her shoulders. Drustai blinked and opened her eyes, dropping the drained crystal to the ground, and looked around her. She could see nothing but restless spirits. One of them must have walked through her, she mused. Though she was undead and could no longer feel real temperature, the touch of a spirit still left its distinct mark upon the half-living.

She reached to the side and grabbed her staff, then pushed herself up and looked around again. Though she had tended to crypts like these for millennia, she still could not help but feel discomforted by it. There were no other Auchenai with her to keep the loneliness away like there once was, and only the static hum of ethereal arcane devices and the quiet, babbling voices of spirits provided any escape from the silence. She reached forward to trail her hand against the smooth stone wall, and ran her fingers over a raised runic mark on its surface. She felt nothing but pressure, of course, and frowned to herself.

The last time she had been in Auchindoun’s tunnels was shortly after Ner’zhul’s chaotic portals thrust the world into the Nether. She had been studying necromancy with Maladaar and the others, seeking to learn how to undo all the damage that had been wrought during the Orc War. The near destruction of the world played yet more havoc on the already suffering Auchindoun, resulting in the deaths of many more of her brothers and sisters. She had left then, fearing staying at the crumbling necropolis for any longer, and fled to Telredor in the Zangarmarsh.

That decision saved her from the butchering of the rest of the Auchenai by the Sha’tar during the Burning Crusade. With the exception of a few other survivors, she was the last of the order of Death Priests.

She pulled away from the wall and straightened her posture, raising her head high. No. No memories. Just get to work. She would not let herself think those things here. She had come with a specific purpose in mind and that was what she would do.

She spent the next several hours scouring through the crypt, prying open long-closed coffins and burial chests and taking anything of worth. She avoided touching things of clearly sentimental value, though, such as engraved necklaces or other trinkets, and deigned to let them rest with the bodies. Perhaps only a small gesture, but it helped her feel like less of a thief. She was, afterall, only taking the things that were needed, now, by those who still lived. The dead were dead, their spirits having embraced, or soon would be embracing, oblivion. They were gone, but their goods could still help their dying people to survive.

More grisly, however, was that for each body she came across, she also took a handful of teeth, fingerbones, and intact horns when she could find them. The dead were dead—it was only practical to not let things go to waste. These tools would help her in her research, allow her to maybe, somehow, discover a way to undo everything, or at least make sure it could never happen again. This needed to be done.

“Or does it?”

Drustai snapped her head up, looking around. The ethereals were all dead, were they not?

“Who is there?” she called out, hesitantly.

No answer.

She furrowed her brow. It must have been a spirit, whispering its musings into her head. They rarely addressed her, specifically, but it was not impossible that one might have taken an interest in her dealings. She was digging through their remains, afterall.

“A spirit, hm? My, I suppose I am.”

Drustai closed her eyes tightly for a moment and then clenched her jaw. She had dealt with babbling spirits for millennia. She would ignore this one, like she did with all the others.

“It is rude to ignore others, Sister Drustai.”

Drustai’s tail curled at the mention of her name. Her muscles tensed. She must have been overreacting. She should not have used that crystal here. It was obviously making her jumpy. She looked forwards again, and started to pry open the lid of a burial chest.

A cold shiver washed over her.

“Who is there?” she asked again.

“Who? You do not recognize me?”

“No. You are simply a spirit, seeking to torment me in your brief half-life before oblivion. Leave me be.”

A ghostly chuckle echoed off the walls, from all directions.

“But I am not just any spirit. Do you not remember? The meaning of this crypt?”

Drustai shook her head. She was not sure which crypt this was. They all were designed to look the same, and without having a proper relative direction to Auchindoun itself . . .

“You are a spirit like any spirit. Leave me be. I do not wish to talk to you. I am not truly living and I have prepared wards, if you seek to feed on my energies you will find it futile.”

“I think I died on a full stomach, so do not worry.”

Drustai pushed herself up and grabbed her staff. She aimed it around her, looking at each of the spirits.

“Which of you is it! Which one speaks to me!”

The spirits looked at her oddly, and then began all babbling at once.

“Shut up!”

Silence.

Drustai stared around the empty room for a few moments, observing the spirits as they observed her in turn. Drustai closed her eyes in relief, and then turned around to return to her work.

Standing right in front of her was a spirit. Drustai yelped and stumbled backwards, tripping on her robe’s skirt. She fell to the floor, but quickly aimed her staff up at the spirit.

The spirit, itself, was lean, dressed in long, rune-stitched robes that were of an indiscernible color now. He wore a crystal sword on his belt, along with several pouches and a spellbook. Long, blue hair trailed down his shoulders, and a high, noble crest accentuated his angled face.

“Toraam?” Drustai whispered.

“Oh, now you recognize me.”

Drustai clenched her jaw together, and shook her head back and forth. “No, you are a spirit, you are dead—a hollow, imprinted reflection. The real man is dead.”

“Dead like you?”

“Silence! Begone, spirit!” Drustai dropped her staff to the floor and then fumbled as she dug through her belt pouches.

“But I just want to talk.”

Drustai pried out a palm-sized purple shard from her pouch. She sneered up at the spirit. “No! To talk with spirits as if they are still alive is the path to madness! Leave me or I shall use my powers to force you!”

The spirit smiled and took a step closer. “Just a little chat. It won’t hurt you.”

Drustai snarled and held the shard at him threateningly. She began to incant in Eredun. “A danashj zar, karkun gulamir veni, re rakkas veni ashke lek re buras re ashke!”

The spirit tilted its head, furrowing its brow in confusion, before vanishing with a bright purple glow. That too soon faded, being replaced instead by a similar glow emanating from inside the soulshard.

Drustai closed her eyes, and fell onto her back. She clenched her jaws tightly, and then shoved the shard into her pouch. The dead are dead. Hollow, empty husks. Not friends. Not lovers. Not anymore. To speak with the dead was to embrace madness. Oblivion was all that awaited them.

Drustai laid in the quiet darkness for a few moments. She laid her hand on the pouch, before pulling it away and shaking her head to herself. She then, finally, pushed herself back up and immediately returned to work.

No memories. This is necessary.

_____________________________________________________
[I] Drustai the Necromancer - Outcast
[A] RADM Areyah Conover - Missing in Action
[L] Saphra Emberstone - Felsworn
[H] Atsenkha - Former Kor'kron, Red Blade Tribesorc


"...in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself... In all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions."

—The Iron Law of Bureaucracy
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Drustai

Posts : 3194
Join date : 2010-10-10
Location : Gotland, Sweden

Character sheet
Name: Archmage Drustai
Title: The Necromancer

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