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    Lady of the Lore Syrra Coventry's Avatar
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    Malicia Duskweaver ~ Turning

    ~~ What follows is the story of my new baby...a high elf death knight. ~~
    ~~ Feel free to comment, as I love constructive criticism as well as remarks. ~~
    ~~ They actually help me in future character developments. ~~




    Light Fades

    "Merissa Starsong, reporting as commanded, sir!" The young high elf woman snapped to attention, doing her level best to control her breathing, though she'd just sprinted up the great staircase in front of the gates of Icecrown Citadel itself. She was of average stature by High elf standards, her hair almost an ethereal white and tied back in a small pony tail ringed by loose, shoulder length locks.

    The Argent Commander looked her up and down, scowling at the disarray of the woman's armor. He noted that several pieces of it were clearly missing, or torn with great precision from her body, exposing far more flesh than is customary on the battlefield.

    "I'm almost afraid to ask why your gear is in such a state, Crusader," he snapped at her at last, finally pulling his eyes away from her body to look her in the eyes.

    "Oh! That!" she began to laugh, forgetting her place momentarily. She stifled her snickering and forced an indifferent look about her face. She brushed her bared stomach and arms, absently flicking away the dust of travel.

    "You see...sir," Merissa paused a moment in order to frame the comment properly. "I find that this heavy plate armor is rather restrictive to the way I fight." She tried to discern any reaction in the Commander's countenance, but none was obvious at first.

    "Well," he answered at last. "As long as you do the job you have been appointed, I doubt we'll have many problems." He turned and looked back towards the gates where the last components of the battering rams and siege artillery were being put in place. He spun on his heel, facing her abruptly. "Except perhaps our younger soldiers, who've been out here some time...without companionship." He gave her a slight smirk before turning back to the final preparations for the assault.

    Merissa snapped a salute at his back, sticking her tongue out at him while shaking her head slightly. She turned to walk away, hesitating for a moment.

    "Is there something else, soldier?" the commander asked over his shoulder, not looking back at her.

    "Yes, sir. It...well..." She hesitated, knowing that she was asking a lot of the officer on her initial arrival.

    "Spit it out! We need to be ready for the assault in less than 2 hours!" He shot at her impatiently, though he still did not turn to look in her direction.

    "The reason I was out of breath on arrival, sir, is that I find myself without a steed." She winced slightly at that last, afraid of the coming response.

    The commander turned to look at her, an eyebrow raised out of curiosity. "Now how in the world did you end up without a steed?!" His curiosity outweighed his impatience with her.

    "Well, during the attacks on Onslaught Harbor, my gryphon was pierced by one of their defense ballistae. One of the good knights from the Ebon Blade fished me out of the ocean and sent me back to the Shadow Vault, and I of course got a ride from there back to Dalaran and headed home to Stormwind for my horse, and..."

    "Get to the point!" he shouted, startling her a bit.

    "Yes, well, so I went to pick up Nai'ar, my warhorse." She noticed he was tapping his foot impatiently at her as he crossed his arms and steeled his gaze on her. It just struck her how strange it was that a human was actually taller than her, but even so, he made her feel smaller than her father did when she misbehaved as a youth.

    "Anyway," she waved a hand and shook her head, gathering her thoughts to get to the heart of it. "So I had to come across from the Vault on my warhorse. The Conflagration isn't exactly the safest place to be on the ground by yourself, as you well know. Especially not by that massive flaming gate." She half-nodded as she pointed over her shoulder to the barely visible flaming gate in the distance behind her, across the fields of Corp'rethar.

    "Okay," The commander slightly nodded. "So why did you not pick up one of the steeds from the Argent camp inside the gate?" he asked, truly puzzled.

    "Oh! I did, sir!" She smiled, proud that she'd done as she would have been expected for a change.

    "Then...? Where is it?" His eyes were wide and brows raised.

    "Well, I tried to get past the formations of Scourge on the grounds, but I caught the attention of a commander at the foot of the steps. I did a great amount of damage to him, but he still unhorsed me." She paused a moment in abject shame.

    "...and we should have you here, then?!" He was beginning to wonder why she was sent to him for aid in the assault.

    "He unseated me by lancing that poor horse, sir! It fell dead between my legs." She snapped her mouth shut, realizing how that last sounded and slightly blushed. "I mean, the poor thing fell to the ground instantly. I did manage to bring an end to the commander by taking the legs out from under his nightmarish mount and bringing my blade down squarely into his skull." She swelled once more with a bit of pride for her actions.

    "Indeed," the argent officer chimed in at last. He uncrossed his arms and his face softened to her. "It seems I have judged you a bit too harshly, young lady. Go to the Cavalry officer and hand him this. He will be sure to assign you a worthy steed." He thrust a gold token at her, imprinted with a horse's profile.

    Merissa saluted sharply as she stood at full attention and took the token from the Commander. He returned her salute and turned at last back to the preparations. She paused a moment, looking at the token, then raced over to the Cavalry officer and handed him the token without word. He looked at her for a moment, eying her up and down, then smiled and held up a hand. He turned and went to the corral next to the tent, calling the stable boy over. He whispered in the boy's ear, then they both turned to look at her. The boy smiled and nodded, then ran to the back of the corral. He slowly paced to the front of the corral and exited, with the most massive black stallion that Merissa had ever seen. The boy's face was beaming, while the cavalry officer smirked as they approached her.

    "This," the officer spoke up at last, "is Cyrus. He's...a bit spirited."

    She looked the huge beast up and down. It stood a full foot at the shoulder taller than her and was not barded in any way. It had a light riding saddle with no stirrups, and had the symbol of the Crusade painted on its nose.

    "Why is he not armored like the others?" she asked, curious. "Isn't that risky here?"

    The officer looked her over and shot back, "I might say the same for the state of your armor." He smirked and motioned for the stable boy to hand her the reins.

    She smiled and laughed a bit. "True enough, sir." She understood now why the commander had so readily handed her an item that told the cavalry officer exactly which horse to give her.

    "Don't worry, crusader," the officer spoke up as she grabbed the mane of the horse to mount up. "From a quick assessment, I gather that he will serve you as well as you serve us. He is spirited, true. But he is also fierce in battle, almost seeming to enjoy trampling the undead. You should see his eyes widen and nostrils flare as the bones grind under his hooves!" He spoke with a strange pride in the animal.

    "He sounds like my kind of guy!" she shot back at the officer over her shoulder as she settled into the light saddle. Lightly, she jabbed her heels into the horse's sides and began riding off towards the gathering forces.

    As she rode to the front, she could feel the horse maneuver under the slightest shifting in the saddle and pressure of her knees. She tested him, releasing the reins and drawing her blades. As she swayed and leaned, Cyrus seemed to move almost in anticipation of what she was doing, trimming and turning to make her feigned combat swings more powerful and open. She relaxed her legs and the massive stallion quickly came to a stop. She sheathed her blades, dismounted, and unhooked the bit and bridle, allowing him to move more freely.

    "There! Now we're set!" She smiled and patted the horse's jowl and he bobbed his head, stomped a hoof and snorted slightly. She grinned as she climbed back up on his back. "This is going to be glorious!" she shouted as she leaned forward and Cyrus bolted for the front where the rest of the cavalry and footmen were waiting.

    She took up a position on the right flank of the cavalry. Along the front stood a full company of halberdiers and behind the mounted soldiers were an array of archers and footmen. The ballistae and siege engines stood at the flanks of the gathered forces.

    The Commander sat atop his plate-barded steed with a hand raised. The standard bearers raised their war banners, ready to motion for the charge. The commander looked left and right, ensuring all was ready, then dropped his hand. At once, all the ballistae and onagers began firing on the massive portcullis that guarded the massive Saronite doors of the Citadel. The portcullis came crashing to the ground as the giant doors of the Citadel began to open, groaning on their massive hinges and shaking the stone landing. An eerie dim blue glow emanated from the gap between the doors as they slowly opened. Suddenly, as if like light curtains, the doors were thrown wide and slammed against the walls of the Citadel's entry. The standard bearers barely had time to point their banners forward, signaling the force to charge, when several massive patchwork giants spilled out of the entrance, followed by massive patchwork hounds that dwarfed the siege engines poured out of the dim entrance.

    The forces moved forward to engage the monstrosities as a throng of mounted knights in black armor atop huge nightmarish steeds with hooves of white fire issued forth from behind the gigantic horrors, winding around their legs and moving to engage the Argent Cavalry. The Commander issued the order to attack and the remaining forces engaged the stitched abominations. The knights maneuvered to engage the mounted death knights that had begun to set on the halberdiers in the front of the ranks.

    Merissa leaned right, drawing her blades, and Cyrus shifted to swing wide to the outside of the ranks to engage more quickly. Shifting left, the massive black stallion turned and bore down on a death knight, bringing his hooves high as they reached the monster and drove them down on the death charger's skull. Cyrus came to a sudden stop as the nightmarish steed's head was ground into the stone floor, the death knight crashing to the ground. Merissa leaped from Cyrus' back, driving her blades into the monster's skull and full into the stone landing. She yanked the blades free, releasing the black ichor that held the undead knight to the world. She scowled at the tarry black blood on her blades, wiped them on the carcass of the dead charger, and jumped back onto Cyrus on one deft move.

    Turning in towards the din, Merissa could see that the tide was against the Crusade as the ballistae were crushed under the feet of the stitched horrors and footmen were being flung across the landing and down the massive stairs. Several of their cavalry had already fallen; the battle standards lied crushed under the quickly increasing dead. She leaned forward and left, driving Cyrus towards one of the huge abominations as she grabbed a lance that had fallen from the weapons rack next to the nearby crushed siege engines. She leaned forward until her shoulder rested on Cyrus' neck, bring the lance around and angling towards the ground.

    "This is going to hurt, my friend!" she shouted in the beast's ear so he could hear her above the roar of battle. "Are you ready?"

    Cyrus lowered his head slightly and with frightening speed, he bore down on the nearest gigantic horrors. He steered himself directly towards the monster's left foot as Merissa leaned in and braced herself. The lance dug into the nightmare of dead flesh and monstrous bone and sinew. Both her and Cyrus crashed to the stone floor in a tumble of armor and black horse, the force of the impact with the massive undead creature dislocating her shoulder. Cyrus and Merissa scramble to their feet and both almost in unison moved sideways, narrowly escaping the crush of the monster as it fell to the stone ground.

    Merissa screamed in a torrent of pain and anger as she pulled her blades from their black leather sheathes. The sword in her right hand clanged to the ground as she lost her grip on the hilt, the pain shooting up her arm with such intensity that it blurred her vision. She rushed through the agony and drove her remaining blade into the terror's neck and rocked it back and forth, severing its spine. Brackish ichor spilled from the gaping wounds as the creature slumped to the ground, unmoving.

    Merissa leaned for a moment against the still beast's body, wincing as she drew her left hand up to her right shoulder. She closed her eyes a moment, leaning back and slowly breathing as she tried to control the pain. Suddenly, the din of battle ceased, a stray sword or halberd clank the only sound reaching her. She opened her eyes slowly, rolling her head towards the stairs to observe the destruction. She gaped in awe at all of the stitched monstrosities that stood in place, near motionless. Though her vision was hazy, she could make out remaining Crusaders nearly frozen in time, their motions slowed to a near imperceptibly minute speed. She could see the dust, blood, and ichor of both the living and the undead like a gathering mist in the air. She closed her eyes slowly as she felt her heart slow to an almost complete stillness.

    "You will serve me well," came the grating and echoed tones that seemed to permeate the very air around her, issuing from nowhere and everywhere all at once.

    "My army will be served well with your skill in combat, and your steed will be as one of the most fearsome chargers on the field of battle." The voice seemed to almost crush the air about her as she struggled to open her eyes once more. She painfully, slowly, turned her head to look at Cyrus. The great stallion stood motionless, looking directly at her. His eyes suddenly turned glassy as he fell to the ground, a massive sword of blue-white fire embedded in his side. She could then make out the wielder of the greatsword. An imposing figure in jet black armor moved towards her, surrounded in a wisp of the same blue-white flame that issued from the sword.

    "You, my child, will be a joy to set upon the Crusade for daring to invade my Citadel." The voice pierced her very soul, as she raised her sword in defiance, slashing wildly and screaming in abject hatred at the armored visage.

    Merissa let out a guttural roar of pain as the massive sword was driven through her breastplate. She could feel the world slip from her grasp as her vision grew black.




    Dark Rising

    Merissa's hands instinctively shot to her chest to take stock of the damage. She felt no wound; felt no pain. She patted herself slowly and realized she also felt no armor. She scowled even before she dared open her eyes. Slowly she inched her eyes open, the violet flames all about her burned them as she tried to focus. She looked about as she attempted to lie otherwise perfectly still. She could barely make out forms moving, the room completely out of focus. She could see the room was filled with bunks, and a table with several chairs about it sat at the center of the room, various sizes of basins and rags littering the table.

    Sensing the stiffness in her every muscle, Merissa shifted up onto her elbows and examined herself. She saw that whomever had brought her to this place had stripped her bare and tended to all her wounds. She noted that, amazingly, there was not a single scar on her that she could see. She sat up and swung her legs swiftly from the bunk and quickly thrust her hands up to the sides of her head trying to steady herself as the sudden movement made her dizzy. She closed her eyes tightly for a moment before opening them again in an attempt to focus her vision. As her eyesight cleared up, she could see that there were a few still bodies in some of the other bunks. There were two gowned figures on the far side of the table from her speaking in low whispers. She craned her neck in an attempt to hear what they were saying.

    "Most of these...people...will not make the transition, Thanos. They didn't have time to fully convert before his death," one of the cloaked figures whispered to the other.

    "I know, but we must try. To leave them as they are when there is a chance would be wrong, especially in light of why they are here," came the reply from the other.

    "You and I know this, but Lord Mograine wishes us to do our best to bring them the rest of the way through their turning," the first figure stated flatly before turning to look at Merissa.

    "Ah! I see one of you has arisen at last! Good! Good!" The figure slowly moved around the table, almost as if it was gliding on air. She noted the voice seemed almost tinny and vacant. "We need to discuss your...ahh...future, in this world," the voice concluded.

    Merissa could see a wisp of vapor issuing forth from the robes and deep hood and she instinctively flinched backwards on the bunk, the cold stone of the walls pressing against her bare flesh.

    "Who are you and where am I?!" she demanded, absently fumbling for a blade that was not there.

    Slowly, the hood slid back to reveal the icy mist enshrouded skeletal head of a lich.

    "I am called Amal'thazad in this form, my young death knight." The Lich's voice seemed to more emanate from its frame rather than issuing from what served as its mouth.

    "I will serve neither you nor that blasted King of yours, Lich!" Merissa lunged forward to grasp at Amal'thazad's bony neck. The lich floated backwards rapidly, causing Merissa to fall to the floor just short of the imposing figure. She pulled herself up into a crouch, ready to strike again.

    "Good, my child. We would not have you serve that which has passed. Nor, frankly, would we have you serve him even if he had not been brought to his final justice." He paused a moment to consider her as she remained poised to strike, though she settled back a bit.

    "Wait...what did you mean by 'death knight', you foul thing? I am a loyal warrior for the Argent Crusade!" Her brow furled in anger at the thought that she could ever be confused with such a thing.

    "Stand, child, and you will be shown." He paused for a moment to let her consider. She looked down at herself once more, having forgotten that she was completely bare before the monster's eyes, such as they were.

    Slowly, Merissa rose and stood before the massive lich. She stood at attention as if within the ranks of the Crusade, though there was a distinct air of defiance about her. Amal'thazad stretched out a hand to the remaining cloaked figure in the room and bade it approach. The other figure approached the two of them and stood at Amal'thazad's side.

    "What do you think, Lady? She is not one for me, though I may be able to help her some, but is she of your realm?" The lich asked the cloaked figure flatly.

    The figure threw back its hood then opened its cloak. Before Merissa stood a large, even by their standards, Blood Elf woman in black and green plate. She looked Merissa up and down then moved forward. She leaned towards the naked Elf warrior and sniffed shortly at her neck. Merissa remained unmoving as the Death Knight Master surveyed her without word. At last, Lady Alistra stepped back next to Amal'thazad and turned slightly towards him as she spoke, though she kept her eyes trained on the Elf.

    "She is not for me, unfortunately. She still retains a certain scent of purity about her." The Death Knight shuddered slightly as she spoke the words. "Pity... She's quite lovely. We could have made her into such an unholy vessel of death," she finished at last.

    "Wait a minute!" Merissa spoke up at last. "I'm not some animal for you to pick and choose to put to slavery!" She was angered to the point she could feel a fire within her rising from deep within.

    "Calm yourself, little one," the lich spoke at last to her directly. "If you would indulge me a moment."

    "Fine! What is it you wish of me?" she huffed in return, the anger still seething within.

    "Take your hand and place it on your breast. Feel your heart. Relate to me what it is telling you," Amal'thazad responded to her, his voice almost hinted at laughter, though he didn't show any outward signs of amusement.

    Merissa haltingly raised her right hand to her chest and placed it over her heart. She paused a moment, then dropped her hand quickly. Her eyes wide, she opened her mouth to speak once more and finally took note of the frosty mist that issued from her mouth. In her confusion and anger, she had not noted the changes within herself.

    "It now comes to you, does it not?" the lich asked Merissa as he saw the realization creep across her face as it turned to horror. "Calm yourself, young one, and listen to me." He waved Lady Alistra away, not wanting to overwhelm her for fear of losing the young death knight before she was fully in their realm.

    Merissa stumbled a moment and grabbed for the edge of the bunk she'd awakened in. She dropped onto the bunk and thrust her hands to her face. "What have I become! I would rather be torn by ravenous vultures as I lived than to serve in such an unholy army!" She screamed into the palms of her hands. She had to force herself to breathe in before she could continue.

    "Why would you do this to me? WHY?!" She pleaded and accused the massive lich at the same time.

    "Be still and listen!" Amal'thazad shot back at her, hoping to appeal to the warrior within the broken woman in front of him.

    The Elf calmed herself a bit, though still in a mass of confusion, rage, and now self-loathing for what she was. She lowered her hands, letting them slapped limply on her thighs. She looked up at the lich, the look of resignation on her face.

    "You have not come back to this realm at a better time, child. You will never be forced to serve against your people, though the journey back to them may be rough. You are free to go as you are, but without the skills that we can train you to employ, you could deteriorate into a state that you might loathe beyond what you do now. That would be unfortunate. The Ebon Blade could use your skills in combat. Though Arthas is dead, we survive. As long as we do, we will find direction in association with the Argent Crusade to employ our combined forces." The Lich concluded his speech and looked Merissa over once more.

    "What say you? Will you join us and learn to put your new talents to work as you unlock your true power, or do you wish to be forever released from your form? Consider your choices carefully, and weigh in one more thing before you make your decision." He gazed coldly at her, waiting for a response.

    "What more is there to consider?" she asked at last, dejected.

    "You, unlike most death knights, have never known service to the Lich King." Amal'thazad settled a bit, then seemed to elevate himself even higher than he already stood.

    "What does that mean, in the grand scheme of things, lich?" She asked, a hint of her old defiance returning to her voice.

    "It means that you have never been used against your own kind in battle. It means that you bear not only no guilt for what you are, but also that you died bravely during the initial assault on the great Citadel and have been given a second chance to serve your people." The lich settled back again, satisfied that his speech may reach her.

    "You will train me in the arts of a...a death knight...and I will never have to serve against my people?" She asked, a spark of fire glinting in her blue-white eyes at last.

    Amal'thazad chuckled, satisfied with the return of her spirit. He slowly nodded to her and bade her rise once more.

    Merissa stood up again and stepped forward. She smiled wryly and threw her head back, finally feeling the sensations that her body now afforded, free of the trappings of life.

    "I accept your gracious offer, Lich. However, I would ask one thing of you," she stated almost coldly.

    "What is it, Elf," he asked, imitating her tone.

    "When my training is complete, and I have spent some time in service to the Ebon Blade, I wish to be free to seek re-entry into the Argent Crusade," she stated flatly, confidently.

    "We require no service from you beyond that you stand on the side of the Brotherhood of the Light. It is our goal to bring back those who served the Light with honor before their passing in battle and give them all the opportunity to serve once again. You are one of the few to have survived the conversion since the Lich King's death. We are hoping that more will rise and serve the Light." Amal'thazad finished, then held a bony hand up to her, halting her response before she could utter it.

    "Yes, Thorval...you may now enter," the lich called over his shoulder.

    A massive human death knight in gleaming black and red armor entered the room. He strode quickly and deliberately to Amal'thazad's side and looked at Merissa a moment before turning to the lich.

    "She is not modest, I see," Thorval chuckled slightly, a sidelong grin crossing his face as he turned back to the Elf and looked her up and down slowly, drinking in every inch of her form.

    Merissa clenched her fists, the urge to fight rising within her.

    "No, and she has great spirit, too. I think she'll make a fine death knight, Lord Thorval." The lich turned as he began to leave. He paused at the doorway and turned back to the Master Death Knight. "She will serve best under your teachings, I take it?"

    "She does have the fire for one in the blood arts, at least. We shall see how well she does in her training." Thorval turned to Amal'thazad. "Have you spoken with her yet about her charger?" he asked the lich.

    "Not yet. I had thought that you might speak with her about it, as we were able to save the great beast." The lich turned and glided out of the room, disappearing around the corner.

    Thorval turned back to Merissa once more and smiled.

    "Are you ready to wear the armor of the Ebon Blade, young miss? Are you ready to train to be in service to the Light as only we can?" He asked her flatly, staring into the depths of her eyes.

    "My...my charger? Cyrus is here??" She was almost pleading with the death knight.

    "Indeed...but there will be time for that later. For now, we must prepare you for life as a true death knight," He seemed no longer interested in her bared flesh as his mind returned to the task set before them. "It is time that you be taught of your true power and the various schools of our power. Your spirit and prowess as one who wrought destruction in your service to the Crusade shall be trained as a Disciple of Blood."

    She nodded to him in agreement as her thoughts strayed to the Crusade.

    "What shall we call you, young death knight? We cannot continue to call you 'child' or "Elf', can we?" He asked almost chuckling.

    "Mer..." She paused a moment and thought better of using her old name. She wished to train in anonymity until the time came to reveal her true self.

    "Yes?" He asked, impatiently.

    "Call me 'Malicia'," she returned flatly.

    "Very well...Malicia. I rather like it. It belies what power resides within you and could help you at some unknown future point." He abruptly turned and strode towards the door. Sensing she had not yet moved, he looked back over his shoulder in her direction.

    "Are you going to come with me, or do you wish to continue standing there in the nude?" He snickered and turned his head around again.

    "I am coming, Lord Thorval...but I want to see Cyrus!" she snorted as she began to follow him.

    "In due time, Malicia...In due time." His words trailed off as they strode down the stone corridor lit in a strange violet glow.

    "We are getting me something to wear first, right? Lord Thorval?" she asked at last.

    "If you insist," he half choked out, trying his best to hold back his amusement.

    "uhhh...Yes, I sort of do," she chimed in at last.

    The two disappeared down the shifting corridors to the main chambers of Acherus.
    Last edited by Syrra Coventry; 2010-08-29 at 09:17 AM. Reason: Character updates and grammatical repairs

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  3. #3
    Role-player Telcular's Avatar
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    First half she is semi nude, second half she is fully nude, I like it already

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  5. #5
    Naked Elf Death Knights :c

    It's pretty nice, interesting idea for those who died during the initial entrance and assault of Icecrown. I like what she's also planning.
    |Vindicator Anntaar Arandano - Draenei Paladin| Ralbel Morx, The Fierce Blood Elf Warrior|
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    A_Playful_Dog yells Freakazoid's favorite phrase! "I MUST SUCCEED!"

  6. #6
    Lady of the Lore Syrra Coventry's Avatar
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    Note: There are some minor changes to the story, as I have changed the in-game representation of Malicia from Blood Elf to Night Elf. Only a couple VERY minor changes in the story itself, as she is now a High Elf of Stormwind. Aside from that, there's been some minor grammatical repairs to the story to make it flow more smoothly.

  7. #7
    Lady of the Lore Syrra Coventry's Avatar
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    ((this chapter is a WIP and will be replaced by the completed entry))



    New Purpose

    The crisp, mist shrouded morning air hung, as it always did, with the fetid stench of decay. The pungent odor seemed to hit her especially hard this morning as she made her way from the confines of the decrepit chapel, trying to hold her composure. The activity here seemed as ceaseless as ever; warriors, priests, and paladins of the Argent Dawn rushing about in their endless procession of tasks as a colony of ants tending their nest. She strained her eyes to pierce the morning fog, cupping her hands over her eyes to cut the glare of the sun's reflection off the thick, rotting mist.

    Malicia turned suddenly to her left; sure she had seen a form moving through the shroud just out of focus, she felt a strange sensation running as a river of ice down her back. It hinted at the same presence she had noted the past few days as she worked to secure her place among the members of the Dawn. The long days of mopping up remnants of Arthas' destruction through the Plaguelands had grown almost overly tedious, but she knew that the work had to be done.

    She brought her focus back to her more immediate surroundings, noting the lush green that had finally started to take hold on the hallowed grounds of the outpost. Two of the smaller fir trees had actually come back to life, as well. Masons, scampering about for several days, had repaired much of the courtyard's stonework; the paths, patios, and dividers walls were showing some semblance of their former beauty. She turned to look at the old church, shaking her head in wonder as its decaying clapboard sides, broken windows, and paint that had all but faded or chipped completely away all stood in stark contrast to the vitality that seemed to be renewed all about it. The dilapidated bell tower rose high above the courtyard, seeming to stand lone vigil over the past from the present.

    Malicia looked back towards where she'd seen the figure in the mist, but saw nothing but the still and acrid vapors swirling about, held back as if some unseen power kept it at bay. She took a tentative step forward as if baiting whatever it was into moving once more, but she could see no reaction. A sentry asked her if she were feeling well, but she could only stare at him, as if his words held no meaning to her.

    She had, at one time, been held in high esteem by the Dawn, having performed services for them that had garnered a position within the Argent Crusade. She had held her post with a pride that, now, she felt was a core factor in her turning…in her own death. These past weeks working with her old commanders at the chapel reminded her of her more humble beginnings; brought back to the fore why she had first joined years ago. The work had reminded her of who she had been, as well as who she was now.

    "Lady Malicia," the shrill voice of the young human woman who had been assigned as her aid snapped her back into the present.

    She looked about a moment, letting her consciousness refocus.

    "What is it, Maia?" she asked her, troubled by the expression on the young woman's face.

    "I…I was told to give you these orders for your duties today, ma'am…" she clamped her mouth closed suddenly.

    Malicia looked at her, the dead gaze in her eyes intensifying.

    "How many times must I remind you to never call me that, Maia?" She tried to quell the moment of anger within her. The term that was used by the tax collectors when they spoke to her mother the day they took her home away after her father's passing still cut deep.

    "I am sorry, milady. I am trying." Maia looked down at her worn mail boots. She appeared, to Malicia, to be visibly afraid to look directly at her. Her armor appeared inadequate at the least; a hand-me-down from someone not built as she was.

    "Maia…dear…look at me." Her voice was unusually soft, surprising herself as much as the young woman.

    The woman looked up at last and into Malicia's eyes, trying her level best to hold them there instead of instinctually looking away from her. Malicia eyed her up and down, scrutinizing every inch of the woman that stood before her. She thought to herself that if the young lady was going to continue to serve as her aid, she was going to require a great deal of work. Not only was her gear in unacceptable shape and fit, but her whole demeanor was far too timid for her liking. She knew that anyone who served with her needed to be prepared for anything and not balk at the first sign of the unknown.

    Malicia shook her head slowly, not taking her eyes off Maia. She held her hand out for the duty order of the day. Maia placed the folded parchment in her hand and instinctively moved a step back and remained as motionless as she could, though her face betrayed her urge to flee from the knight's presence. Malicia unfolded the orders and scanned them, her eyes darting back and forth across the page as they widened, a frown darkening her face.

    "Did you read these, Maia?" she asked in an accusatory tone. "Is this what has you so nervous now?"

    "I did, milady, read the orders as I was bringing them to you, yes." She nodded slightly. "But I have no training in such things. I would not wish to tarnish your record because of my lack of experience," she responded, her voice cracking a bit as she finished.

    "Well, I would say that you are already improving, as you did not run off like a scared rabbit before I had a chance to finish reading them, hmm?" Malicia tried to hide her amusement, nearly succeeding.

    "No, Lady Malicia… I do wish to learn. I hope, one day, to be as you are." Her words trailed off as she realized what she had inferred, too late for the thought to go unspoken.

    Malicia stared at the woman for a few moments, studying her face. She knew instantly that Maia had regretted the way her comment appeared, but she wanted to make her feel uncomfortable now.

    She was testing Maia's resolve…

    The young woman made no attempt to avert her eyes or move. She stood at attention as best as she could, given the state of her armor and her own weariness. She had heard that the knight could turn from a kind-hearted person to a cold and calculating monster on a whim. Maia was not about to test that observation.

    "Maia," Malicia's face softened at last. "The first thing we need to do is deal with this horrendous mess you call armor," she finished-matter-of-factly.

    "I would not even call this…mess…armor, milady," Maia shot back at her in sheer disgust at what she was forced to wear on arrival. "This, however, was all that was available at the quartermaster when I arrived."

    Malicia smirked as she turned and began to walk towards the gryphon master. Maia bolted ahead to catch up to her, though she found it difficult to match her stride. Though Malicia wasn't particularly tall, she walked as a person possessed and with a singular, immediate purpose. Malicia stopped sharply before the dwarf woman, saluting her crisply.

    "Well good mornin' to you, Lady Malicia!" Khaelyn was often more boisterous than one would think possible for such a post.

    "Good morning to you, Khaelyn. We are going to need a pair of swift gryphons, but it's only for a short journey this time. I would think they should be back to you in no time." Malicia smiled at the woman, a look tht often unnerved Maia when she saw it.

    "Of course! Where ya bein' off to, t'day?" the dwarf woman asked her, though the question sounded more part of idle conversation than true curiosity.

    "We're just heading for the small station at the Thondroril River Bridge. Today is more of a local excursion, but I'm really in no mood to deal with Corrin's Crossing today," Malicia answered, trying to be both vague and specific at the same time. She could see that Khaelyn had no real interest in her answer, but she knew it was polite to tell her something at least overtly true.

    A tall and gangly young night elf brought the two gryphons forward, holding onto the reins of both at the same time. He smiled, though he kept his eyes lowered as he extended his hand, and the reins, to Khaelyn. He rushed off quickly towards the cages where the gryphons were housed.

    "These are the swiftest I still have here, dearie," Khaelyn smiled at Malicia and handed her the reins.

    "Don't worry. They will return safely, Khaelyn." She smiled at the gryphon master as she jumped up onto the great golden brown beast's back, guided it in a half turn, and prodded it to take flight.

    Maia followed suit, climbing on board the second gryphon and taking to the air right after the knight. Within moments, the two had managed to lift above the rancid convocations of poisonous air that still clung to the dead countryside. The brackish mists far below them, the two could finally breathe a bit more freely.

    "This isn't the way to the Thondroril!" Maia tried to yell the words to Malicia but the rush of air and the distance were too great for her voice to overcome.

    As Malicia guided the great beast towards the southwest, so did Maia. She knew she shouldn't even try to question her, but their orders were very specific, and the way they were going would take them many leagues south of where they had been ordered to go. As the Alterac Mountains loomed ahead, their snowy peaks reaching far above even their altitude, the pair began to ascend up into the billowy cloud cover. They cleared the jagged lower peaks and wove their way through the high mountain passes. Maia would swear later, upon recollection of the trip, that they were flying so close to the ground through the mountains that her boot grazed the top of a yeti's head.

    Gradually, the snowy crevasses and passes opened up into a sea of lush green meadows far below. In the faint distance ahead of them, they could both see the fishing town of Southshore, nestled between the river and the calm seas. Malicia saw that it seemed almost too quiet for what is usually such a bustling harbor town, but everything seemed to be standing still. The gryphon master's tent loomed full into view quickly and they set down nearby.

    Malicia jumped from the back of the gryphon almost before it had completely stopped, grunting slightly as her knees absorbed the jolt. Maia, being far less brave…or was it foolhardy? She wasn't sure…waited until her mount had settled on the ground before dismounting and handing the reins to the gryphon master.

    "We will be back shortly. Please see that the apprentice gives them a brush-down and some water." Before the flight master could respond to her, she'd already begun on her walk into town.

    Maia again rushed to catch up with her though she found herself unable to before they reached the main road. Once more, Malicia's unpredictability struck her as curious as she suddenly veered left, the blacksmith workshop close by.

    The long low building of the blacksmith, constructed mostly of wood with a stone base, appeared to double as the town's stables. The south side of the building was completely open with a large corral, the blacksmithing area nestled in the far east corner. The pair followed the path past the corral where several horses lazed under the cool autumn sun, rounding the eastern end of the building to the smithy entrance. The massive double doors were slung wide open, their aged and rusted hinges straining to support the weight. Several specialty anvils were mounted to massive tree stumps while a large forge and bellows rested underneath what appeared to be an ancient oak tree which shaded the whole area.

    Malicia came to a stop near one of the anvils as she spotted the smithy just inside the door arranges a rack of what appeared to be freshly forged horseshoes. Maia almost ran into her; she had been so busy trying to keep up with her that she hadn't noticed she'd suddenly stopped. Malicia turned to look at her as Maia gasped slightly in surprise. She stared at the young woman a moment, assessing her once more.

    "Maia, I want you to go to the inn, have some mead, a glass of wine…something…and relax. This is going to be a long day, and may even stretch to two or three. I want you relaxed, rested, and ready," she coaxed her to do as she said without rebuttal, her voice almost too soft for the usually abrupt knight.

    The young woman nodded to her, though she lingered for a moment to see if she could discern her intentions. She found herself unable to see through Malicia's mask, a question forming in her mind.

    "Milady, may…" she stopped suddenly, fully understanding the look that Malicia was now brandishing. The furrowed brow and what appeared to be a darkening of her face overall told her not to press her.

    Maia saluted Malicia crisply, spun on her heel, and walked away towards the inn. As she rounded the corner by the herbalist's shop, Malicia relaxed a bit. She turned back towards the blacksmith, a look of eager anticipation on her face.

    "Now…my dear Mr. Aebischer," she began, trying to keep her voice level and even.

    "Yes, Lady Duskweaver. I have all the items you requested," the smith responded to her unfinished question. "Do you know how hard some of these pieces are to acquire? I wasn't sure everything would be ready on time." He was nearly huffing at her, though he knew to keep his normally volatile temper in check in her presence.

    "Ah, but I had no doubts about your skill in acquiring and modifying the goods as I needed. I expect you had little difficulty with that Dalaran Wizard?" She looked at him curiously, as she wanted to know the details before she bothered looking at the goods.

    The smith shook his head slightly.

    "No, he was surprisingly cooperative," he continued, narrowing his eyes at the knight as he did so. "He did exactly as you instructed, as far as I know. I am not versed enough in their craft to be sure of anything that may have been done, though."

    "It's quite alright, Robert." She smiled at him, the glint in her eyes, as well as the half-twisted smile on her dusky hued lips, making him uneasy. "He would not cross me, so I trust he did as you asked him to."

    "I hope…they are to your liking," he grunted the words as he pulled two large iron bound oak chests from the large storage closet near the door to the smithy, stacking one on the other. As he undid the clasps on the top chest, he continued. "If you approve of the pieces, I can have them delivered to the chapel before the week is out, milady."

    "Oh I don't think that will be necessary, Robert," her smile broadened in anticipation of the contents. "We will be making use of the goods here. You can have the chests delivered to the chapel at your leisure after we have left."

    The blacksmith nodded solemnly as he opened the lid to the chest.

    "For now, I should like for you to have them delivered to the inn. By the time your apprentice gets them there, I should have a room sec…" Her words trailed off as the smith pulled the first piece out of the chest.

    Hanging from his fingertips was a glimmering, golden hued, scaled halter trimmed and accented in deep crimson. The scaled links were woven into the amazingly thin and light, yet resilient, leather backing with such precision that at any distance, they appeared as one continuous piece of metal. The effect made the whole of it look to be a highly polished and flexible single plate.

    As Malicia neared the smithy, she could sense the underpinnings of magical energy coursing through the metal. Just being near the halter armor, her skin began to tingle slightly, raising goose bumps across her flesh like she had not felt in years. It seemed to make her very flesh take on a life of its own, almost screaming out to her for the energies imbued within the metal.

    She tentatively reached her hand out, feeling the smooth metal with her fingertips. She felt a trembling course through her body as she came ever closer to the piece in the smithy's hand. He watched her with a look of trepidation, holding the piece out at arm's length for her to take.

    Malicia lightly gripped the halter in her fingertips, letting the energies within it course through her hands, up her arms, and spread through her body. She shuddered visibly as the sensation coursed over her. As she rolled the armor piece over in her hands, examining it, Robert turned back towards the chest and pulled out the matching briefs, carefully laying it on the crate's lid. He continued to go through the crate, pulling from it the corded chain belt, the shin plates, and boots. Once he had laid the last piece out, he stepped back, watching the knight as she ran her fingers lightly over each piece, caressing the metal and leather. She seemed to gasp with pleasure at the touch of each piece, reveling in the invisible forces that only she seemed to feel.

    "L…Lady Malicia…?" He tried to get her attention without being abrupt. He was shocked at the tremor of his own voice. He clenched and opened his hands a few time, clearing his throat to be heard more forcefully.

    "Lady Malicia? I take it the armor meets with your satisfaction and expectations," he stated more solidly and confidently.

    She shook her head slightly, snapping herself out of her trance, then turned to look at him, sighing as if she had just spent hours with a lover.

    "Yes. They are…perfect," she responded, the words falling from her lips barely above a whisper.

  8. #8
    I seem to have missed what race Maia is... is she like Malicia, a night/high elf?
    |Vindicator Anntaar Arandano - Draenei Paladin| Ralbel Morx, The Fierce Blood Elf Warrior|
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  9. #9
    Lady of the Lore Syrra Coventry's Avatar
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    She's a human...says early on...but it is buried in the text as an observation...

    "Lady Malicia," the shrill voice of the young human woman who had been assigned as her aid snapped her back into the present.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Syrra Coventry View Post
    She's a human...says early on...but it is buried in the text as an observation...

    "Lady Malicia," the shrill voice of the young human woman who had been assigned as her aid snapped her back into the present.
    Then that means I'll have to re read it again.
    |Vindicator Anntaar Arandano - Draenei Paladin| Ralbel Morx, The Fierce Blood Elf Warrior|
    |A Playful Dog's characters|

    A_Playful_Dog would like to RP, but it thinks it will fail...
    A_Playful_Dog yells Freakazoid's favorite phrase! "I MUST SUCCEED!"

  11. #11
    I've always been fond of the work Syrra. Continue!

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