The howl of the death gate was lost in the winds that constantly blew around the keep’s walls; she knew where to open it, where the sentries had trouble seeing at the outer wall, where the land sloped and a large boulder made an attack unlikely regardless.  But for one?  It was enough of a space to step out of the black nothingness of the gate, to land heavily, and to blend into the dark, her saronite warplate just another slice of midnight to be held at bay by torches and watchfulness.

She moved in silence to the cliff’s edge.  Looking down, the Draenei removed a phial filled with a swirling brown liquid from the steel-lined pouch at her waist, drinking it without noting its mudlike consistency and flavor like ground rock and grave mold.  

She leaped.

The energy of the Avalanche was barely contained as it was; the fall ripped it from her, surrounded her in a force that carried with it the force of a boulder dropping from the same height.  She landed /hard/ below, the ground rumbling at the contact, stones cracking under the raw impact.

She smiled.  If she were honest, that was great fun.  

No stealth now – and it didn’t matter.  She simply didn’t have time for the inevetable delays.. or Victor or Esreiella, who would no doubt actually notice things like the warplate, or Arialynn who might actually do terrible things like ask how she was feeling or be worried.  She didn’t want to see the fear in the Caelryn’s eyes, or get too close to the active guildstones, where the Nazrethem watched and listened.   No, there were things that she could not yet say, or could not bear – and the entanglements were simply too much.

She raised her hand, calling – opening another gate, this time to let her Order’s gift come through, her smile wide and delighted.  

“Who’s good, yes?  You are good – ”  She scratched at its bones – it ignored her.  It was beyond things like ‘feeling’ or ‘caring’ – but she didn’t care.  It was just so… cute.   She hugged it – the mounted the Frostwyrm with a chuckle, and pointed. “That way, yes?   It is not far.”

The flight was easy and quick, on the undead thing’s massive wings.  She left it hovering as she dropped from its back into the packed snow on top of the ice in the bay.  For once, luck was with her – there had been no snow or storm, and the Nazrethem’s tracks (and her own) were still present, as well as the smaller trails of wolves and men who had come to her there.  She walked them for a moment, expression softening, bare hands brushing snow… and then she shook that feeling away.

Time for … feeling.. .later.  There was work to be done.   She held out her hand, then, to her own blood – where it still stained the snow – and beckoned, cold eyes flaring, the runes on the long blade at her back flaring and flickering as she tapped into them.  “Come.”

It came.  Slowly at first, then faster, pulling itself reluctantly free from the ice, forming into a ball there, above her hand.  “Come!”  It was a command now, not an entreaty; drops ripped themselves from snow, fled to her.   Blood.   She watched it spin and shudder above her hand, noting how the blue swirled and danced, feeling some echo of -her- in it.  She smiled faintly, and reached up to a pack on the frostwyrm’s side.

It took a moment, and was tricky to both hold her concentration and rummage, but she managed it – pulling out the gauntlet, with the diamonds of her tears still frozen to it.  She tossed it ahead of her, into the snow… and again gestured. “/Come/.”   

Her tears came to her like stars, captured in the faintest of moonlight.. joining in the dance of blood and sorrow spinning above her hands.  She tilted her head – and the runeword on her blade burned.  

Shadow and cold burst from her, then, shaping.  Condensing.  Pushing – the ice floe shuddered beneath her as blood and tears compressed, somehow, shimmering blue and purple in the grip of stolen Nerubian magic.  She laughed, softly as the spell took hold, her white hair whipping behind her in the sudden wind her magic sent howling through the essences she held.  

The storm raged for a moment… and then it passed.   Two gems fell to the snow – smooth and oval and nondescript.  These she gathered carefully, feeling how they drew at her. 

It took a moment to summon the will for another Gate.

Three days.

Three days of untiring labor, an advantage of unlife.  Three days of hammering, of heat, and of metals bent to the Siegesmith’s will with the assistance of the Knight at his side.  Three days of craftsmanship the world outside of Acherus would never know – which, she admitted to herself, was likely for the best.  It was unlikely that even her friends would approve of things like soul-tempered steel, or a blade quenched in the bodies of several of the unlucky Crusaders still in Acherus’s dungeons.  

But, as she worked so carefully at the runeforges, she knew the time was worth it.  Each blade -sang-, called to her, pulled at the core of who she was, and who she was now.   The blades before had been temporary things, or they had been -His- will.  These were her own, made manifest, tied to her in ways that the Seigesmith warned her would make them as dangerous as they were strong – her will, given shape.  

She named them, there – carving the runes with a care and steadiness that she’d never managed before, blades of tears and blood.

Sorrow.  A’tala.

Wrath.   Talaedos.

The blades sang to her of their approval – and snarled with their purpose.

Fear me, Nazrethem.  Do not worry Etsiyona.  I come.

Author Aunne
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