Last Time: Vrykerion, Calowen, Waeryn and Jolsin saw a suspicious column of smoke rising from the necropolis in the depths of Deatholme. Upon investigating they found a pair of Scourge that were creating a massive abomination to host the soul and mind of the former ruler of Deatholme: Dar’khan. Acting quickly, they assaulted the two undead. The battle was intense, but the four paladins luckily succeeded. In their moment of relief, Calowen threw Vrykerion aside and took a bladed fist to her torso. The abomination had risen during the battle… Now Vrykerion stands against the creature that just stole the life of his love…
Vrykerion’s eye twitched and lips curled. He dropped his shield and rose with sword in hand. Holy energy began to swirl around him like crackles of lightning in the air. Waeryn and Jolsin, wide eyed in fear and awe, stepped back out of the room. Vrykerion bared his teeth, grinding them into each other so hard that his jaw would be in pain for the rest of the week. He did not care. He didn’t care about anything except for the monster in front of him.
The stone floor erupted in flashes of consecrated light. His sword ignited with ripples of holy energy. He tightened his grip on the handles as divine power flashed and erupted into yellow lightning around his body.
“Your brain. You’re thinking about it too much.”
“Now try it again. But this time, don’t THINK the target is an enemy. FEEL it.”
Vrykerion did feel it. It didn’t matter if he never felt anything again in his life, but this he would feel. Every ounce of anguish, every lost moment of happiness – He would feel them all, and this monstrosity would feel them too, “Divine… STORM!”
The room ignited with light, blinding both Waeryn and Jolsin momentarily. When their eyes eventually readjusted to their surroundings, all that remained of the creature that called itself ‘Dar’Khan’ was a lump of fleshy bits and the occasional bone piercing out from the pile.
Vrykerion was on his knees next to the remains of Calowen, sobbing and screaming. Calowen’s body was decimated; her entire torso was nothing but a cavity that was hollowed out like a rind of a well eaten melon. He kept trying to conjure the holy light only to have it dissipate as it landed on her body, “Damn you. DAMN YOU! Give her back to me!”
Jolsin stepped behind him and tried to put his hand on Vrykerion’s shoulder only to have it batted away, “Look Vry, I’m sorry. I really am. The Light may be able to restore the soul to the body but…” Jolsin voice cracked, a sob of his own joining in, “But there’s not much a body for it to return to, Vry.”
Vrykerion ignored him. He kept trying the spells. He filled himself with Light and tried over and over to transfer it, any of it, into Calowen’s husk of a body.
“Light damn you, Vrykerion! She isn’t one of your gadgets or toys! You don’t have the tools to fix her. None of us do!”
Vrykerion leapt to his feet and grabbed Jolsin’s collar, lifting him into the air slightly. Waeryn drew his sword in preparation to defend his teammate. Vrykerion’s eyes focused on Jolsin, his quivering lips contorting between rage and sorrow, “The Light IS my tool. I. WILL. FIX. HER.” He threw Jolsin into Waeryn and pointed at the door. They left, leaving Vrykerion to kneel back down and try again and again to bring Calowen back. No one saw him again for another two days.
Tears fell on the parchment, leaving some stains of wetness as Vrykerion finished the last of the sketches of the myriad of assorted parts. He had removed his goggles some time ago, and now his quill sat on the desk with them. He looked over his drawings and notes, trying to make sure he didn’t miss anything. A choked sob escaped his lips as he picked up the quill again to jot down a few extras notes.
For the first time in hours, he spoke, “Once the components are understood, you can work to develop primary steps for assembly.” With that Vrykerion wiped his eyes away and took out another sheet of parchment and began to draw a schematic.
“What in the name of Kael’thas the traitor do you MEAN you are leaving the Blood Knights?” Kitarin screamed at his son, mere inches from his face, “Do you want me and your mother to die copper-less in these slums? Maybe a warlock will use our souls to conjure a demon now that you’ve RIPPED THEM OUT!” His father’s fist, easily dodged, slammed into the wall.
“Kitarin, please, maybe we should hear his reasons,” Vrykerion’s mother, Arista, pleaded.
“What reason could he possibly have to justify murdering his own family?!”
Arista sobbed, “Please can we at least wait until after you’ve come down off the thistle to talk about this?”
“And where will you go, Sir Paladin? Will you join the war to be a big hero like your brother? You want to die to those kaldorei bastards like him too?”
Vrykerion stood there, without an expression on his face. His cold and dead eyes peering out from the broken lens of his goggles dangling from the first punch that his father did actually land, “No. I have no interest in joining the war.”
“Then where will you go?” Arista asked, her small voice penetrating through the crying.
“I don’t know. Away.” Vrykerion said. His voice was a forced monotone, “Away from here.”
“You arrogant piece of filth! At least Herio was a war hero. You? You’re just a coward to abandon your family. And after everything we did for you? We put you in that academy, and we gave you everything your brother left behind, just to make sure you had a good and prosperous life,” Kitarin stepped back shaking his head.
“You did that because you blew every silver on bloodthistle and got thrown out of the Exchange and you wanted Herio and then me to drag you back into the limelight by having some level of respectability.”
Kitarin let out a roar and dove at Vrykerion. Vrykerion grabbed his wrist and threw Kitarin against the wall. Vrykerion then proceeded to grab Kitarin’s shirt and flip him over his head and onto the table, breaking it in half. Kitarin tried to pull himself to his feet, only to twist his back and collapse back onto the rubble.
“I would suggest not trying again,” Vrykerion said as he turned, grabbed a sack by the door, and walked out.
“Good riddance!” Kirarin shouted out from the small apartment with the cries of his mother in the background, “And don’t let me ever hear that you used our family name! You are not my son!”
Vrykerion walked across the city to the royal tower where he used the Orb of Translocation to reach the Undercity. He drew the gnomish pocket watch out from his pants and reached his thumb to open up the lid and see the time but he stopped. He looked at the watch for a moment and thought, ‘Time for them to be dead to me too.’ He threw the watch as hard as he could at the walls of the Ruins of Lordaeron and watched it shattered in pieces, each one raining down onto the stone floor.
He began to march off solemnly but stopped after twenty steps or so. He turned at looked at the ruined device, scattered into wheels, cogs and springs across the ground. He swallowed hard and ran back and gathered them all up in a small brown linen bag. He then slid down the walls of the ruined human capital and began to sob, clutching the bag tightly. He let everything out. The screams of frustration, the raging and hateful things he wanted to say to his father, and all the tears from breaking his mother’s heart.
After a half hour, his anguish finally began to subside. He wiped his eyes and stood back up. The time for sorrow had ended. The time for revenge against the Scourge had begun.
Vrykerion put the finishing strokes on his blueprints. It was a lavish design, worthy of a gnome tinkerer. He smiled at himself, “As primary steps are established, secondary and tertiary steps will automatically become apparent.” He pulled out a pair of tweezers from his gnomish army knife and picked up a cog, “Once ready, assembly can begin.”
Thus concludes Chapter 1: Design, To Be Continued in Chapter 2: Assembly.
Thus ends the first chapter of the story. While admitedly the second part is not finished yet, trust that I will have it posted here on the same Saturday schedule when it is. I hope you enjoyed the first half of this little tale!
Last Time: Vrykerion, his lover Calowen, and two other paladins – Waeryn and Jolsin – were on a mission to Deatholme in the Ghostlands, but upon finding that the majority of the fortress had been abandoned, they were set to head home. But as they left, a strange smoke stack had manifested from the necropolis in the center of the dead city. After a short argument, they four paladins headed into the foul smelling depths to investigate…
The silence was broken as they reached the bottom by dry and crackled female voice coming from a room at the bottom of the last flight of stairs, “Imagine it, Dolcrim: The Master Dar’khan’s mind and soul, in such an unstoppable body!”
A second voice chimed in, this one low and grumbly but with a slight echo to it that made Vrykerion’s blood run cold, “I should hope so. Gandling wants the Ghostlands back in the Cult’s hands. These setbacks are growing too many in number, and this project of yours cost us nearly three legions of undead to construct.”
“Did they say Dar’kahn?” Jolsin asked.
“And who’s Gandling?” Waeryn muttered.
“Quiet. I’m going for a closer look,” Calowen uttered and she slowly started to step down the stairway. Step by step, her armor rattled gently. Step by step, it felt like Vrykerion’s heartbeat was slowing. As Calowen crept down the finally stair, Vrykerion remembers to inhale. She peeked around the edge of the doorway and gestured back to the rest of the group: THREE SCOURGE. TWO ‘MANCERS. ONE BIG.
Vrykerion tilted his head and mouthed back down to her, “How big?”
Calowen widened her eyes a bit and nodded slightly, mouthing back, “BIG.” She glanced back through the door for a moment and then looked back to gesture that the large one appeared to be unconscious.
Vrykerion nodded and turned back to Waeryn and Jolsin, “Here’s the plan. We’ll split up. You two take one of the necromancers and Cal and I will grab the other. Hopefully, whatever this big one is we hopefully won’t rouse it.” His team mates nodded and Vrykerion turned back to Calowen and lifted three fingers. Then he dropped one to two fingers, then to one.
As soon as the last finger dropped into a single balled up fist, Calowen leapt into the room and unleashed a judging blast of holy power at one of the necromancers. Vrykerion and the other two members of the team bolted down the stairs to quickly join her in the room. The necromancers were dressed in the garb of the Cult of the Damned, one a male human with glowing blue eyes and the other a forsaken woman. Behind them rested a massive figure, covered in a bloody sheet inscribed with necromantic runes.
Calowen and Vrykerion dashed towards the man, landing their shoulders against his chest and pushing him toward the wall. Meanwhile, Waeryn and Jolsin got on opposite sides of the forsaken woman and begun to swing their blades, one low and the other high, in a maneuver they called ‘the double duel trap’. The technique had proven excellent against mindless ghouls, but as their blades collided was a shielding sphere of dark magic, they quickly found themselves on the defensive. Dodging blasts and calling upon the light to cleanse the foul curses burning their flesh from under their armor.
The forsaken cackled, “You cannot stop us! The master stirs! THE MASTER COMES!”
“Silence! Your breath is worse than your plague,” Jolsin shouted as he drove directly toward the shielding spell, shattering its protective barrier and allowing Waeryn an opening to take his sword to the necromancer’s neck from behind, severing the spinal cord and causing her to drop to the floor, still screaming her zealous proclamations.
“Finish it, Jols.” Waeryn said.
“With pleasure. By the Holy Light, be purged!” A brilliant light burst forth from Jolsin’s hand, engulfing the downed necromancer. As the light faded, a burning pile of ash was all that remained.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, Calowen and Vrykerion slammed the human into the wall next to the sleeping monstrosity. From beneath the sheet, a large hand fell out bearing several foot-long blade like claws. Calowen brought down her mace toward the man’s face, which he caught with his hand. She could hear the cracking of bones as it made impact causing her to wince for a moment, while the man only grinned at the sound. Vrykerion slashed at the man’s side and cut him deep, but no blood spilt forth.
“What are you?” Vrykerion asked.
The man gave him a toothy grin, “Someone you will regret meeting.” He then slammed his open hands into both Vrykerion and Calowen’s solar plexuses and threw them across the room.
As Vrykerion struggled to his feet, the man rushed over and clasped his hands around Calowen’s head. He began to squeeze, causing the helm to start to crack, “Imagine what will happen to your head once I break your shell.”
“I don’t think you’ll have a chance,” Vrykerion said as he stood. Taking his sword in hand, he began to wail away at the man’s back. Tearing through his robes and cutting deep into his back. As chunks of fleshy flew off, there was no blood. Instead there was viscous black ooze that just seemed to splatter out from the wounds.
The man laughed maniacally as Vrykerion hacked away at him bit by bit to the point of exposing the back of his rib cage. He continued his anguishing squeeze of Calowen’s head. The cracks grew larger in her helm, and as the pressure built up she began to scream.
Hearing her voice cry out in pain, Vrykerion gritted his teeth and balled up his fist. ‘No one hurts her. NO ONE.’ Vrykerion’s hand ignited with holy energy. It took the form of a hammer as he launched his first deep through the monster of a man’s shredded back, breaking through bone and flesh until he reached the man’s heart. Taking that organ into his hand, Vrykerion squeezed with everything he had until he felt it rupture and spilt the black tar out. The man, hands still wrapped around Calowen’s nearly shattered helmet, collapsed.
Vrykerion threw the body to the side and grabbed Calowen, “Are you okay?” She nodded slightly, her eyes barely able to stay open. Vrykerion’s eyes swelled with tears as he hugged her.
“Mission accomplished. Can we go back to the Sanctum now?” a winded Waeryn said, leaning up against the doorway with Jolsin. Vrykerion looked up at them, tears rolling down his cheeks and a massive grin on his face, and nodded.
Suddenly, Calowen’s grip on Vrykerion’s shoulder tightened, “Vry! MOVE!” She shoved him aside and onto the floor just in time for him to see a massive, grey, muscly arm covered in blades and spikes rip into Calown’s chest. It broke right through her ribs, the claws ripping right out the back of her armor and leaving a puddle of blood.
All eyes followed the arm back to its owner. It seemed that in all the commotion that the thing under the sheets had decided to get up after all. A gigantic abomination with four arms, each lined with claws and what appeared to be embedded swords and daggers. It’s twisted mouth cracked open, “BehOLD, thuh Neeew DAAR’KhAAAn! I AM reBOOOOORN!”
My sincerest apologies about this post being a day late from its scheduled Saturday posting. Time has a way of getting away from me and I had a lot of random stuff drop on my lap yesterday. So here it is, part two of my short story… (Sorry!)
Vrykerion inked out a rough sketch of each piece that lay before him on the desk. He drew lines and notes of how each one would potentially fit with others. He didn’t need too. He had done this many times before and would likely do it many times in the future. He knew the design by heart but still went over it again and again. It may have been in part to the time he spent studying and working with gnomish engineering. Their desire to tinker and go over every detail hundreds of times to ensure that every bit was correct and in place. But he knew that wasn’t about knowing how things went together, but understanding why.
“We’re proud of you, son.” Kitarin Dawnshatter said, slapping Vrykerion on the back, “It might not be a Spell Breaker like your brother was, but being accepted into the Blood Knights is nothing to laugh at.” Vrykerion just nodded a bit.
Vrykerion was wearing his blood knights’ tabard, a depressing mix of black and red – a reminder of what his people had to endure in the wake of the Third War. He was dressed in his best chain mail from the graduation ceremony with Lady Liadrin, though in all honesty he had worn it for someone else.
“Just think! A few more years and you might be able to help pull this family out of Murder Row and back up into the Exchange! Or even the Court of the Suns!” Vrykerion’s father continued to prattle, causing Vrykerion to slightly roll his eyes. There was nothing like a reminder that his father’s crimes and the task of their family’s redemption was riding on his and his brother’s shoulders.
“But I want you to have something, my boy. Something your Uncle got back during the Second War. He originally gave it to Herio, but he didn’t really want it. I think he thought it would tarnish his reputation with the other Spell Breakers after we joined the Horde. Not that he’ll need it now.” Kitarin dropped something into his son’s hands: a small gold pocket watch. “It’s a gnomish design, ya see. Tried to pawn it over in the Bazaar but no one in this Nether blasted town is willing to take it with those knuckle dragging orcs’ banners flying everywhere now.”
Vrykerion’s armored fingers traced over the designs on the back of the watch. “Gnomish,” he muttered for a moment before looking up, “You shouldn’t speak of the other races like that.”
“Those brutes killed your brother, you cowardly green skin boot licker!” Kitarin shouted throwing a bottle of wine at Vyrkerion and missing him, turning his back dismissively at Vrykerion and walked back to his hookah, “Don’t you have some rich noble whore to go visit or something, boy?”
“Yea. Calowen is waiting for me at the celebration. Tell Mother that I left her a gift when she gets home from work, will you? Please don’t sell it this time.” His father puffed on the tube, inhaling the thick fumes of bloodthistle, and waved his hand, dismissing Vrykerion without a word. Vrykerion sighed and left into the streets of Murder Row and up towards the Court of the Sun.
As he turned the corner into the fountain square, he was met with a pair of arms wrapping themselves around his neck. Vrykerion panicked for a second, his instincts from his years living in the shadiest neighborhood in the city kicking in. But his nerves eased when a familiar and curvaceous body followed the arms and pressed up against him in a hug, “Congratulations!”
He wrapped his arm around Calowen, “You too. Excited for our deployment tomorrow?”
Calowen nodded, nuzzling her head in the crux of Vrykerion’s neck, “A bit nervous too.”
“You’ll do fine. If you can drag me to graduation, I’m sure you could take on the entirety of the Scourge all by your lonesome.”
Calowen chuckled softly, never lifting her head, “I can see my extra lessons in ‘sense of humor’ have served you well.”
Vrykerion smiled. It was one of many ‘extra lessons’ he had enjoyed with Calowen during their time training to be paladins, “Are you ready for the celebration?”
This time she shook her head and her soft voice got quiet, “I actually thought we could go somewhere else.”
Vrykerion raised an eyebrow. Did she really mean? His answer came quick in the form of her lips pressing deeply into his, her soft warm skin contrasting the cool metal of his armor. And as the night went on the cold feeling of armor vanished piece by piece, and the warmth spread more and more.
Vrykerion’s hand trembled slightly as he drew a small 14 toothed cog. He stopped and set the parchment down. He allowed himself a moment of reprieve to glance out the window and to let the blood drain from his flushed face. Blue Child hung low in the night sky. For a brief moment he wondered where the sun had gotten off to. The process of rebuilding was long and sometimes very hard on him. Still, he knew that he had to continue. He had to press on or else finishing and thus understanding, would never come. He would simply run away again. So Vrykerion sat back down and took his quill in hand once more.