In case you missed it, here’s Part 1
Strike, parry, dodge… narrow misses, glancing blows… the fight has gone on for less than a minute, but it seems as though forever and a day has passed.
Malyss is smiling. She knows something, something neither Lelissa or I know, something that will be what decides the entire fight. I want to call out to Lelissa, warn her, but I can’t… fractured jaw aside, what I’m seeing in front of me makes me speechless.
The look on Lelissa’s face is frightening; I’ve never seen her so angry, and I can plainly see that she is either unable to or not wanting to keep her rage in check. It’s so strange how something as simple as pure anger could be someone’s advantage like that, but unbridled as it is now, that same anger is her weakness. Her strikes are as controlled and precise as ever, but her rage is making her take some very big risks against an opponent that may be too much for her.
I feel as though I’m watching an elaborate dance, like those demonstrations that you see Trolls do in Shattrath or Dalaran occasionally, only this dance is far more deadly, and the dancers aren’t going to shake hands and smile when it’s all done. Lelissa and Malyss are moving with such grace and skill; it’s mesmerizing. Beautiful.
I don’t know that I’ll be able to heal her this time.
Tanaris was much warmer than Esmerellda remembered. Even traveling within sight of the coast, where turtles sunbathed on the rocky beach and a warm breeze ruffled the leaves on the few stubborn trees that grew there didn’t help much. Off to her left, a seemingly endless sea of sand sprawled over the land, with giant bones of long dead creatures breaking up the monotony. Well, bones and the water towers that held what little precious usable water could be found in the desert. There were always Wastewander Bandits trying to steal the water, and the goblins of Gadgetzan were always hiring willing adventurers to thin their numbers.
When a small group of Wastewanderers broke away from the base of one of the water towers and headed toward the coast in front of her, Esmerellda was surprised. Wastewanderers rarely ventured out toward the coast unless they spotted a weakly guarded water caravan, or were in pursuit of victims trying to make their way to the ocean. Esmerellda was neither, and she certainly wasnâ€™t carrying enough water to make herself a high priority. She halted mid-step to watch them for a moment, uncertain if they were a threat to her or if something else was afoot.
To her surprise, one of the bandits fell forward, his face hitting the sand. Esmerellda thought that they had tripped upon something hidden in the sand, until the one right behind him turned to the others following and swung a menacing-looking axe. It was then that Esmerellda started noticing details she hadn’t seen before, how most of the others wore either leather or cloth, but this other one wore what looked like plate armor, far too heavy for a life in the desert. This other one also had dark lavender skin, curved horns, and a tail compared to the Wastewanderers sun-darkened skin and obvious human appearance. As Esmerellda drew closer, she couldn’t help but think that somehow, this Draenei looked vaguely familiar…
The shadowbolt zipping past her face made Esmerellda realize that someone had decided she was either a target, or to encourage her to stay out of the fight. A quick glance in the direction the bolt had come revealed one of the shadow mages and his pet voidwalker. A single exorcism dealt with the voidwalker, but didn’t seem to concern the shadow mage in the slightest, as he continued to cast another spell. Even when Esmerellda got into melee range he didn’t stop with his spellcasting, perhaps thinking that he could get the spell cast before she could stop him. He couldn’t.
After dealing with the shadow mage, Esmerellda turned back towards the Draenei, who had so far held her own against the bandits and thieves that were trying to kill her. Out of the seven that had broke away from the tower, only three remained standing, though judging by how well the Draenei was wielding her axe, they wouldn’t be for much longer. Most of the Draenei’s attacks were hitting who she wanted them to, and on the few occasions she did miss, she didn’t lose her balance, but instead recovered quickly. Though, judging by the way she was overcorrecting her balance just a bit when she was hit, Esmerellda decided she probably was still getting used to wearing plate. No doubt the Draenei had spent her time honing her weapon skills since the last meeting.
One of the three bandits fell to the ground after the Draeneiâ€™s sharp axe cut deep into his side. The remaining two bandits hesitated for just a second, a quick glance passing between them, before they continued to attack. One kept trying to flank the Draenei, though she was doing her best to avoid letting that happen. A few quick jabs and stabs later, most of which were either parried or dodged, one of the bandits tripped and fell face first into the sand. The Draenei took advantage and let the heavy axehead drop onto the fallen bandit, leaving only one.
The last took a step back, just out of melee range. The two circled one another for a few moments before attacking almost simultaneously; the Draenei’s swing went wide, but the bandit’s strike hit the Draenei’s hand, drawing blood and loosening her grip on her weapon. A quick kick before she could recover failed to topple the Draenei, but she dropped her axe. A cunning grin came over the bandit’s face as he raised his weapon to strike, but Esmerellda stunned him before he had the chance. Quickly, the Draenei grabbed her axe and killed him.
The Draenei whirled around, fixing Esmerellda in her gaze.
“I did not need…”
“Oh, be quiet. Let me see your hand,” Esmerellda demanded.
The Draenei frowned at Esmerellda as soon as she recognized her. “Are you following me?”
Esmerellda glanced at the Draenei momentarily before grabbing the injured hand and inspecting it. “No, I just happened to be going this way.”
“Just happened to be? Are you here to kill these Wastewanderers for the pouches they carry?” the Draenei asked, wincing when Esmerellda poked and prodded her hand.
“Hmmm? Oh, no, just passing by. I’ve heard that the Bronze Dragonflight was investigating the Cavern of Time, and needed a few adventurers…” Esmerellda trailed off, focusing most of her attention on the hand.
A few moments later and the wound was healed, leaving not even a scar behind.
“There! All better!” Esmerellda beamed happily.
The Draenei spread her fingers wide and then clenched her fist. A few moments later, after opening and closing her hand a few times, she muttered her thanks.
“You’ve gotten better. A few more months and you’ll be better at wielding a weapon than I am,” Esmerellda commented.
“Then perhaps you will not feel this urge to ‘save’ me the next time you undoubtedly come across me,” the Draenei commented.
Esmerellda tilted her head to the side for a moment as she pondered the comment. “Perhaps, perhaps not. I must be on my way. May the Light bless you,” Esmerellda said as she started walking again.
“To you as well,” the Draenei responded.
Lelissa’s angry scream snaps me out of my reverie. Malyss is down on one knee, head down, as Lelissa leaps into the air, ready to deliver a brutal blow. As Lelissa’s heavy mace begins to descend, I see Malyss smile…
The sharp clang of steel tells me that Lelissa’s attack has been stopped, but… Malyss is down! How could she…? I look up and see that Lelissa’s shock is as great as my own; her mighty swing has been blocked by a mace identical to Malyss’ own that moves about by itself.
I know now what’s different.
Malyss now follows the Path of Blood.