((The past part of this was a post back on the old forums (and the old ERN). I put it here to give anyone who wants to know why Mael keeps talking to herself some history.None of the characters involved are around anymore, but that's okay. There's really not much to the story beyond that, but it gets her through the portal. 😉

The day before the Vanguard entered the portal

Maelstrome escaped the war meeting almost the moment it ended. The talk of battle and death had cast bellows on her passion for carnage, and her inner orc had roared – almost literally – to the fore and tried to beat some cowardly heads. Right in front of the entire assemblage of Horde and Alliance leaders. 

Well, not in front, exactly. Mael had stayed in the back with the rest of the Blood. Hopefully far enough away from Alliance ears for them to hear the occasional remarks that one part or another of her slipped through. Had the orc had his way, they'd probably all be dead by now. Again.

Once outside, her orc forced the words he had been wanting to say through Mael's lips, which was explicitly against the agreed-upon ground rules.

'Ooh, we might never return home!' 'Oh, what will we do if it's a trap?' 'Look at me, I'm an Alliance coward who weeps at the thought of battle!' How have the humans survived this long?!

Stop, will you? We agreed that I would do the talking!

I never agreed to that! You people and your 'voting'. 

Shh. Others have come out. Stop talking or they'll think we're insane.

Mael stifled a giggle as she turned to face the other members of the Blood who were looking at her with expressions ranging from cautious to quizzical.

"Are you…okay?" Shadowsage, The one who looked cautious. And for good reason, really. Mael gave her what she hoped was a sane-looking smile.

"I am, thank you for your concern." And it was true. Kind of. 'Okay' is a relative term, after all. 

Nestarion just shook his head and changed the subject; they discussed the meeting and went over the Blood's role, as they had a thousand times before. It was a short discussion. They knew their roles, and were a prepared as they could be. Now was the time for action.

Two years previous

Maelstrome led the way through the doorway with only half of her mind on the the task on hand, a mistake that only a second later proved nearly fatal. It would be easy enough to blame her lapse on the object of her thoughts: Fallenos, with his pride, his stubborn refusal to accept the help that he himself had asked for. They were on this mission because of this, because he steadfastly refused to acknowledge the need his soul craved for a balm; for forgiveness, at the least, even if he truly was beyond redemption. 

But he was not to blame for Maelstrome's carelessness. A green flash to her left was all the warning she received of the stun bolt, released by a step on just the wrong part of the tiled floor. A moment later she was on her knees, and a moment after that, a double-handed blade flashed down on her head. By rights she should have died. Again. Only the superior craftsmanship of a Pandarian helm, given to her just two weeks prior for a service to the Shado-Pan, kept the blade cleaving her skull in two. As it was, she received a gash deep enough for her gray matter to be seen.

She didn't see Fallenos' retaliatory attack and subsequent defeat of her near-assassin, nor was she conscious of his desperate attempts to stem the flow of blood from her wound. Blind she was, as well, of the portal to Archaes and his further attempts to heal her wound using the only methods he knew. Black, Fell infused energy closed the wound to the point where the blood was only a trickle, but brought her no closer to consciousness. Stymied at the last, Fallenos called on his last strength, his rune-inscribed sword. Not just any runeblade, such as most of Arthas' death knights wielded, Fallenos' blade was attuned to him, was in a very real sense a part of him, and he a part of it. Not alive, per se, it nonetheless contained a soul. Many of them, in fact; it sucked the souls from Fallenos' opponents, giving it – and him – a power few could hope to match.  

It was with this weapon of souls that he attempted to bring Maelstrome back to consciousness.

It worked well enough to get her through until Naronel, that mystic, near-omnipresent warlock, showed up and used his own brand of power to stabilize her body enough that he could transport her the short distance to the tower they shared. It worked in other ways as well, ways that could, perhaps, have been anticipated had any research beyond those of a power-mad death knight ever been conducted. The sword infused Maelstrome with a portion of its accumulated bounty. In all, no less than twenty-five distinct souls kept her alive until Naronel and, later, Liliania Sunsong were able to heal Maelstrome in more conventional ways. 

Twenty of these souls were merely slivers. Not enough was left of these to do anything but the original intent; lend the failing body some form of energy to continue living. 

Four of the souls were large enough to retain self-awareness and personality, and they battled each other for control of their new host. 

A seventeen-year-old farm girl from Elwynn Forsest who snuck aboard her uncle's merchant ship; a ship that was subsequently commandeered by the Stormwind Navy and re-routed to Northrend. The girl was pressed into military support duty, but an ill-fated transfer to a reputedly safe field camp led to her doom.

A proud member of the Kor'kron who fell in defense of his warchief and was subsequently raised by the Scourge, only to fall again to Fallenos.

A priestess of the Argent Dawn, whose camp – and that of her parents – was mercilessly wiped out by a single death knight. She remembers Fallenos only too well.

A goblin, in the wrong place at the wrong time, a trait their species excels in.

But those four were merely fractal shards, and while each had their moments of control, none of them was strong enough to out-muscle the other two.

In truth, it is not accurate to separate those two, for they were really one. One interrupted, literally split, by a heretofore inexplicable gap of memory. The memories from that gap were not present; they had been some other being's memories, a being controlled from outside of Maelstrome's body. But with the information gleaned from the memoires of the body's new inhabitants, the two halves were able to make links, draw conclusions, and fill the void with a patchwork history that held up to inspection well enough for the chasm to be bridged. As Maelstrome's body strengthened, so did her newly-healed soul, and when she was able to subdue the others and bend them to her will, she laughed out loud, a sound that brought feet running to her bedside.

Kathana Sunscryer, priestess of Zin'Azshari, had awakened.

((Kathana was a bitch and she was, much to everyone's delight, subsequently defeated and all of the personalities brought to a balanced whole in a later RP.

The Day of the Invasion

The tide of enemies was everything Mael had hoped for. And dreaded. But mostly hoped for. It was all she could do to keep her damn orc from breaking the line and charging into the morass. 

The signal to retreat rang out and Mael reluctantly backed away from the sea of enemies.  She was the last one to scramble into the jungle on the far side of the now-quiet portal and her goblin cackled as she tossed the last few grenades into the trailing orcs. They followed a thin path that twisted through the trees; the farther they got from the ongoing battle, the louder the silence of the forest became, until Mael felt deafened by the quiet. 

The group stopped so those who still needed to breathe could do so. Mael took the opportunity to take stock. 

Most of the Blood was there. Good. Nestarion – at least, it looked like Nes, but the coat of blood made it difficult to be sure – was standing to one side. Mael blinked as a shadow stepped from the trees surrounding them. Nes seemed to confer with the shadow for a moment, then the shadow melted back into the forest. Or that's how it looked, anyway. It may have just been a trick of the dappled sunlight, which settled upon the company with an air of innocent playfulness. It was a lie, of course. Nothing in this world could be considered innocent when hundreds of their comrades had died to buy them their escape.

 

 

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