Related: [WoW] Letters (Idella)
Months ago, location unknown…
“You knew how this would end, dear.”
At Claret’s words, the welling tears in Idella’s eyes finally broke and fell.
“Yes, I know,” Idella breathed. Her body somehow felt weak yet paralyzed at the same time. Too frightened to move, and when she summoned enough courage to stir a limb, her muscles threatened to give out beneath her. Her arms huddled to her chest, she sucked in a breath and stilled herself, focusing on standing upright and not simply falling to the floor.
“You know the next steps. You have seen it before,” Claret’s words were smooth, patient; her tones the dulcet sounds of pouring honey.
“Yes,” Idella couldn’t nod. She didn’t trust herself to make the movement without her legs giving out.
“You hesitate. Do you not understand our bargain?”
“No. No, I do,” Idella reflexively shook her head. It surprised her when the movement didn’t immediately send her to the ground. Experimentally, she clenched her hands into fists, pressing them tighter against her chest. She still stood upright. Progress. “I do understand our bargain.”
“Then you know what comes next. Step forward, dear Ida. As much as I enjoy our lessons, I do have other matters to attend to.”
Claret stood behind her, her presence more a voice than physical manifestation. Cloaked in red, no feet touched the floor. A gown adorned with sewn gold and silver filigree patterns draped from shoulder to toe, fading as it brushed the floorboards beneath her feet. Her head was shrouded and unseen beneath a crimson hood. Whatever body hid within the exquisite clothing, it appeared thin, her fingers pale and gaunt. Yet her voice was firm, if playful, and when it spoke, never seemed to emanate from the ghostly apparition within the room. The apparition seemed nothing more than a social requirement, something to give those she conversed with something to look at, while her voice emanated from wherever it pleased. Often, Idella wondered if it simply came from her mind.
“Will it hurt?” Idella asked. Her breath bated in her throat. In truth, she was stalling for time. She hoped she concealed the effort just enough for Claret not to notice.
“You know it does not,” Claret chided her, the hooded head slowly turning in the girl’s direction. Idella gulped, knowing the woman was unconvinced. “Will you do this, now, after all this time? My dear Ida, I am not as convinced as others by your outward naiveté. You know more than your blush lets on. Step into the vessel, I am running out of patience.”
“What… what happens if I don’t?” Holding her breath, Idella took a step back. The soles of her feet felt as if she stepped on knives. Inwardly, she was unsure if it was a conjured feeling from her own fear or a sensation Claret summoned.
The red hood lowered. Claret spoke, her voice diving into a lower timbre. “Then I force you. An unwilling vessel is harder to control, yes. But not insurmountable. You do not have the means or wit to stop me, little Ida.” With each word, the room about them grew darker, the hooded figure drew taller. “You are too far down this path. One too many contracts accepted, spells borrowed. Our essences cross over in every way but blood, my dear. It is time to make it official.”
“Official,” Idella echoed. She so desperately wanted to step back further, her eyes chained to the stone coffin laid in front of her. She had seen its like before. The glowing runes cutting into its surface were all too familiar, many were etched into page onto page of books she wrote under Claret’s tutelage. Eyes tracing over them, studying how each rune flowed into another, she recognized the spell. Another tear fell. “I…”
“It is all right to feel fear, my dear,” Claret’s voice was soothing again. The red figure dissipated, filling the room as a shadow. A hand curled around her shoulder as any hint of light around Idella faded away. “It is a new beginning. You will not cease, you will only join the greater fight. There is so much more than what you know on Azeroth. A great war, a grand cause. This is why you joined me. This is why you took my power. Now I need you, my dear. Now it’s time to answer the higher call.”
“I…” Idella couldn’t stop the tears. What was she waiting for? Why the tears? None of this was a surprise. It was a date she signed years ago. Now standing at the precipice, her best response was to sob. All the time dedicated to running, all the hopes she could erase what she had done… all paths led to here. One step away from oblivion. One step away from a fate she knew she asked for the moment she consented for power.
“Will… will I ever…” Idella couldn’t form the words. The tears choked them off.
“Ever what?” Claret asked gently. “Oh. You will not see the beast again, but you did assure his resurrection. One token of compassion I will give you, my dear. For years of your talent, your service,” she tightened the grip on Idella’s shoulder. “No more questions. No more hesitation. It is time to join the war. Your power with mine. This game is over, Idella. We are done with the chase. Yes or no, you… are mine.”
With a shove, the shadow pushed against Idella’s back. She lurched forward with a shriek, hands scrambling for purchase. The vessel closed around her, the green runes alighting across the stone and setting the surface aflame. The ritual began, the innards of the vessel suddenly scorching hot. Idella screamed, nails scraping the ceiling of the coffin ceiling, then she quieted. Entranced into a sleep, her body slowed, failing limbs resting at her sides. Her lids grew heavy, closing together as she tumbled into a false sleep. Inside, her mind raced, calling up spells to save herself, but her thoughts grew languid, coming to a standstill. Eventually she stilled, sleeping as if a corpse in its final rest.
Watching the coffin gleam in an eerie fel glow, the shadow of Claret waited. As Idella quieted, Claret breathed, coalescing from a shadow back to a hooded, red figure standing on its own within the room. Its translucent edges stretched and touched the floor, gaunt limbs filled and flushed with a healthy pallor. Pulling back the red hood, a visage of Idella stood alone in the darkness, eyes a scarlet red and gaze far harder than its living incarnation could summon.
“Now,” Claret spoke into the darkness, a hand outstretched and fingers splayed towards the floor. A rune circle took shape beneath her finger tips. “To Argus.”