The dreadlord pointed to her, and Cael’s eyes, lit with battlefire and feral worgen just barely restrained, dimmed in absolute horror and understanding. The battle raged around her, but she barely felt it, barely saw it, as the world slowed in that moment.
He wanted her.
He would use her, to terrible effect, to monstrous, horrific effect, and he would kill the others, and Esre, by using her. She would kill them. She would kill them. She would break her oath and kill them.
Never, ever, ever again.
She had made her choice, and here, she made it again.
And for once, possibly the only time in her short memory, the wolf agreed.
Cael leaped. Time was slow, so slow, almost casual. How nice it was, to know what to do, and then just do it. So nice. The demon reached for her as Cael catapulted toward Esre, with the attempt to break her free on the landing…. and rob the demon of his puppet.
I will be no one’s slave.
NEVER, snarled the wolf.
Never, she agreed.
But- something happened, something in her mind, midleap, clawing at her, a sudden burning pain that split her head open and there was a voice, a horrible, HORRIBLE voice, eating at her mind, her will.
The wolf went berserk. Cael tried to fight it but the pain was so intense she could barely see, let alone consciously think. It was her wolf that saved her, here, as in times in the past, in the pits or Orgrimmar- the wolf that fought, viciously and without quarter, at the idea of being chained and shackled again to another’s will.
YIELD TO YOUR MASTER, DOG, boomed the voice, and she wanted to scr e a m-
Never never never never no no nO NO NO STOP STOP KILL HURT PAIN BLOOD DIE DIE DIE
She bounced off the rocks around Esre, her landing fucked entirely, hit the dirt skidding, bleeding from the ears, nose, mouth, eyes. The shield clattered to the ground, useless. Her legs fought to stand, to obey the Master, and Cael fought her own body-
Too much, too powerful, too much, her wolf was faltering under the onslaught and her eyes clouded with tears and blood.
I will never hurt anyone again! I WILL BE NO ONE’S SLAVE!
Cael and the wolf threw off the demon’s influence just long enough to scramble toward the edge of the cliff-
A voice, a memory, a draeni accent and a gentle hand. “You only fail if you die in vain.”
The Justicar, looking at her, steady as the edge of a sword. “Your choices make you who you are, Caelryn.”
-And throw herself off.
Never, she thought, wind whistling through her fur, just before she hit the ground. She made her choice. Cael closed her eyes.