Pix’s Note: We’re picking up where I left off with the conclusion of Fall from Grace. I’m back to 3rd person omniscient (because 1st person was a lovely challenge, but it can be an incredibly tough way to write, and tends to be less descriptive), so I hope you enjoy it, despite the previous differences.
Lelissa moved through the halls of the Black Temple with care, moving as slowly as possible to keep the clanking of her armor to a minimum. She had already made her way deep within the Temple, but the longer she had to search, the more likely it was that she would be caught. The last two patrols had come almost too close. Had she brought Esmerellda, they might have already been captured by now.
Sneaking along the wall, she came to a corner where the hallways crossed. Sticking to the wall as much as she could, Lelissa followed the branch to the right, hoping that it might lead to Malyss sooner rather than later. At the end, she reached a large door, once carved with scenes of redemption and valor, now scarred and broken by the weapons of the fel orcs and demons who inhabited the Temple. Sadness crept upon her for a brief moment, the desecration and abuse of the once proud Temple of Karabor causing her to shiver at the cruelty of it. Sighing heavily, her eyes widened into disbelief as her breath was visible in the air; it was much colder here than anywhere else in the Temple. It wasn’t the cruelty making her shiver.
Malyss was here.
Saying a quick prayer, Lelissa shoved open the door, tucking into a roll that would move her into the room quickly without being a large target. Coming to her feet, axe at the ready, she bellowed a challenge to her sister. “Now we end this Mal–” A solid hit to her stomach knocked the wind from her, and Lelissa stumbled back, taking an accounting of just what she rushed into.
A score of demons, once loyal to Illidan, stood between the sisters. Malyss looked down at Lelissa from her perch on the dais, smiling slightly; her smirk grew from mild amusement into something cruel and hateful. Raising her hand above her head, Malyss called upon an army of ghouls to bolster her demonic followers. The rotting corpses moved to defend their mistress, and Malyss’ lips parted for two words: “Destroy her.”
Lelissa struck down one of the demons before he had a chance to react, but almost instantly she was forced into defense. The ghouls leaped at Lelissa immediately with little regard for their own lives – after all, it’s hard to be protective of something you’ve already lost – claws and teeth scraping across her armor. She cut down two of the unholy creatures with a mighty sweep of her axe, but still her opponents kept coming.
One of the demons had slipped behind Lelissa, grabbing her around the waist and working his muscled arms under hers; lifting them up and out, he pulled her arms out wide, painfully crushing her shoulders and hampering her blood flow. Lelissa struggled; he was too strong, and her body structure worked against her here – she couldn’t kick with any force from this angle, and he was too large for her to score his face with her horns. Finally, her hands numb, Lelissa’s axe fell to the floor, leaving her defenseless save for her armor. The ghouls and demons dove in, grabbing for her arms and legs, twisting and pulling cruelly, forcing the warrior to scream and beg for mercy while her sister looked on and laughed.
A loud popping sound followed by a shriek indicated the dislocation of Lelissa’s left shoulder, and the continued twisting and tugging only made her scream louder… right up to the point that her arm was torn free from her body, armor and all, and she nearly passed out.
The young woman shot awake with a gasp, sitting upright in bed, eyes wide and shivering with terror. Her pulse was racing, heart pounding in her chest, and she was suddenly very aware of every shadow and every movement in the room. She rubbed her hands over her face as the images in her mind faded into the black, willing away the terror of the figure in her dreams.
When she finally stopped shaking with fright, she slid out of bed, taking the sheet with her to stay warm through midnight’s chill since the fire had long since burned low. Wrapping the soft linen around herself, the cloth clung to her figure, hiding curve and scar alike from view. She crossed the empty floor, sheet dragging across the floorboards, and opened the door at the other end of the room, looking briefly up at the night sky. This late at night, nobody would be out and about.
She would need the privacy.
Carefully, she gathered the sheet a little closer to her so that it wouldn’t drag, and she closed the door to her home. Hurrying down the narrow avenue, she turned into an alleyway, ran all the way to the end near the wall, and stopped to rest for a moment against the crates stacked nearby. Looking over her shoulder to ensure that she wasn’t followed, she discarded the sheet covering her body, quickly climbed the crates, and went over the wall.
The circle was complete, complicated runes in white chalk on the grey stone. It wasn’t time to use it just yet, however. There was still one more task.
She moved to an unmarked spot illuminated by the moonlight. She stood naked in the cold night air, eyes closed, her head tilted slightly back, hair fluttering lazily in the light wind. Opening her eyes to the moon, they glowed bright amber as her trance allowed her to look Forward.
A shattered ruby.
A broken mace.
The visions swam through her mind’s eye repeatedly until they finally faded, the amber glow of her eyes fading with them. The woman shook her head as she tried to make sense of them. What did they mean? Were they even real objects? If so, where could they be found? Too many questions, and not enough answers. Either way, they needed to be warned.
Stepping to the circle, the woman began chanting in Eredun, her voice quiet and low on the breeze. Slowly raising her hands to the side, her words became stronger, more forceful, and her body strained with the effort of the summoning; this would hurt, but she didn’t have time to craft a soul shard. As her words reached a crescendo, the skin at her joints split and deep cuts appeared in her back and legs, overlapping older scars, blood spilling from every wound. It fell in droplets or ran in rivulets down her back, but the result was the same: the blood made contact with the stone and was drawn to the chalk lines.
Finally, the summoning was complete, but the space before her was empty. She was confused for a moment, until she heard the sultry purr behind her.
“Mmmm, I just love watching you do that. It gets me all excited… and I think you enjoy it more than you let on.” The succubus walked slowly around the outside of the circle, her eyes roaming up and down the woman’s body, glimmering with obvious arousal. The demon’s tongue traced seductively over her upper lip as she drank in the sight, making small, throaty purrs as her eyes fell on each lash mark.
“I liked it less when I couldn’t heal as quickly, Fierevere. I need you to play messenger. And no detours.”
“Awww, but that’s not any fun! It’s not like it would take me more than an hour or two… maybe three at the outside!” The succubus’ voice was teasing; she knew that she would do whatever her mistress required. Anything to stay out of the Twisting Nether.
The woman smiled. “If not for the urgency of this task, my reluctant seducer, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. No, Fierevere, this is very serious. Malyss has Awakened, and Lelissa will run headlong into her death if we don’t help her.”
Fierevere sighed, resting her hand on her hip. “I knew that girl would be trouble the minute Lelissa brought her home. Who am I off to find, Valyra?”
Valyra leaned her head back, the smell of her own blood on the wind even as the wounds sealed shut. “Kelarr. Tell him to find Myrlia and to meet me in Southshore in two days.” Valyra paused, hissing slightly as the deep lashes in her back slowly pulled closed. “We’ll need a mage; tell Woggles, but she is not to breathe a word of this to Avyla. If that hot-headed Warrior gets wind of Malyss’ situation, she’ll kill first and ask questions later.”
Fierevere looked genuinely concerned. “I will. And what will you do, mistress?”
“For now, I will return to Gilneas and sleep. In the morning, I have to convince King Greymane to give me access to the library.” Valyra sighed. “I have a ritual to research.”