“We know you.”
The threat continues to ring in Chrissinne’s ears long after it had been spat from between rows of jagged teeth. “We know you, Warden. And we will have you.” It trembles with promise, oozing with all the evil fel taint that poisons the very saliva that drips from the jailer’s mouth.
It didn’t phase her then. Not in the slightest. It was with an expression colder than the farthest reaches of Icecrown that the warden watched the demon crumble and wither at her feet. Even as he writhed and wretched in agony, spewing curses as if it would have any effect on the one that had befallen her centuries ago.
He was just one of many before. And there would be many more. Her blade was tainted. Her blood was tainted.
Still, they’d never see her flinch.
“We know you.”
“And I know you,” she warned the Illidari in her monotone indifference as he struggled against his bonds. She didn’t elaborate, even as the fel energy consumed him, and threatened to persuade her. It ate him from the inside out, twisting and mutating his body further than his failing pact with the demon already had. He became a frothing, seething abomination that seared with an unbridled fury, tearing for her throat, clawing for her heart that continued to beat at an even pace.
She didn’t blink as the unbound demon seeped into her mind, not even once despite how his face contorted into one of familiarity. Lilac skin, and a drape of thick teal hair, that once shone with a healthy vibrant sheen now matted and mangled with blood and viscera that glowed that sickish green. It was a face she knew well. The face of a man she’d killed before.
The Illidari, too, fell by her hand. And his body twisted back to some semblance of normal before smoldering to ashes.
Her hand trembled oh so faintly as she sheathed her blades.
It didn’t phase her then.
But it came at her in the dark of night, as she let herself succumb to the call of sleep, tucked next to Drician’s side.
It’s him, this time.
She’s reliving those moments in the filth of the Dens all those years ago, but it’s not the archer, the archer with the demon arm who first wormed his way through the cracks in her walls to find the heart that still beat under all that stone. Instead, it’s the monk who holds her heart now, with his arms around her, pinning them to her side and whispering so calmly in her ears as she thrashes in his grasp. In her mind, his eyes are fel fire and lifeless. His mouth is a gnashing of serrated teeth. She claws at them and pushes her fingers between them until she can feel his throat–
The nightmare falls away from her with all the grace of shattering glass. Drician’s face is buried against her neck, still murmuring his soothing mantra against her sweating skin as she continues to shudder in the dream’s wake. He’s warm, and full of life.
And somehow, it finds the Warden even now, as she’s doubled over the ship’s railing, the contents of her stomach now belonging to the sea. The warden slides to the deserted deck, and wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. She swallows down the bitter taste of bile, finds her hide of stone once more, and her feet.
Only one other soul graces the upper deck. Her form is by every means large, even as she hunches her shoulders to lean against the railing. But a cherubic face is illuminated by the moon, casting it’s light between the billow of clouds. It grants the ghost of a glow in the Sentinel’s scarred left eye.
But it’s the space on her right that the Warden takes, posture squared and sure despite the ship’s less than gentle sway, and the fatigue that aches down to her very bones. She doesn’t show an ounce of it, standing still and resolute as an Ashenvale oak.
“Will you miss them? Shan’do Barkhide. Drician.” Hypolyta speaks softly, her voice nearly lost to the wind. Her eyes are wide, and Chrissinne fixates on them. But the Warden doesn’t respond.
“I miss him every time,” Hypolyta continues, and the sentiment shows as she rolls her lower lip between her teeth. “But I know he’ll be waiting when I come home. Resheph, I mean.” She sounds so sure of it, like she is unaware of what lies ahead of them. Or she knows, but chooses to ignore it. What boundless optimism. It would kill her one day. Again. Like it had back at Light’s Hope only a few years prior.
The silence that falls between them is expected. It seems to relax Hypolyta, as the curves of her large frame relax. There’s a smile that sneaks past where she gnaws on her lip. Chrissinne notes it in the corner of her eyes.
The younger Kal’dorei tears her attention from the sky and turns her sheepish smile to the Warden at her side. “Thank you for coming with me, Chrissinne. We need all the help we can get. Especially someone with your expertise.”
What a foolish, foolish girl, Chrissinne can’t help but think. What a foolish girl to continue to see the good in everything and everyone despite all she’s gone through, to fish for the righteous when it’s a pond so dearth. She doesn’t want Hypolyta’s sympathy, and much less her adoration. But she receives it anyway, nurtured over these short few years. There’s something that twists in her gut, though she long thought it had settled. Her expression remains unreadable, and her stance unyielding.
“We arrive in Stormwind in the morning. And we secure a portal to Dalaran the moment we reach the city. I will have no time wasted getting to the Felwark.” the Warden’s monotone is crisp, and sure. Hypolyta nods her understanding, even as Chrissinne turns on her heel. “You are still my charge. Our goals just happen to align.”
The reminder does nothing to dampen the light in Hypolyta’s good eye, nor the innocent hopefulness that lines the roundness of her cheeks. “I know.”
The last word echoes in Chrissinne’s mind, the voice shifting and blending with the chorus that never stopped their chanting.
We know you.
They continued their screaming, even as she began her descent into the hold below. And though they reminded her of the foul taste on her tongue, and knuckles turning pale as her nails rend the flesh she claws at in the nightmare’s throes, she knows it is a lie.
If they knew her so well, they would have claimed her already.