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[Rhianon] The Unseen Price

Rhianon's picture

She walked the halls like they were a never-ending maze, step stretching after step and her hooves turning back on her own trail once she reached the wall at the far end. Guards and servants passed her, lost in their own duties, but she could feel their questioning gaze. 

Where was she going? Why didn’t she stop?

One of the Draenei women finally gave into her own curiosity and patted Rhianon on the arm, asking, “Is there something you need, milady? Are you looking for something?”

Rhianon shrugged off her touch. “I’m just thinking.”

The answer didn’t seem to impress the woman but she nodded, hurrying on to whatever destination called to her. Rhianon didn’t turn to watch her go. She felt the swish of the woman’s skirts as she passed, the warm breath of her spirit trailing after her. With a sigh, the shaman reached the door to her own room. Perhaps the feeling that had pushed her up and down the halls was gone. Perhaps she could slip into her own bed and rest and nothing would stir her slumber. The exhaustion was beginning to wear on her; she was becoming little more than a thread pulled too taut over a ripped seam. 

She didn’t like bothering Dolraan with her own troubles. He had been through so much already: first the attack in Pandaria, the siege that led them to Draenor, and then the darkness of his own death. And she felt there were some things, despite his love, he couldn’t understand. Or if he could understand, like her father, he would be afraid for her. He had enough already to fear in this world. She wanted their time together to be a respite from everything, a time for laughter and peace. She had promised herself not to drag her own darkness into it, no matter how much she knew he would want to help. 

Her hand touched the door knob and a chill shot up her arm. She looked down to see the knob was frozen, icicles dripping from the brass. And a frosty gust of air rushed past her and she was back…

Screams echoed all around her, bouncing off the ice-coated walls and vaulting up to the darkened ceiling. The patter of boots sounded all around her. A stronger, blood-chilling scream burst through the already familiar cacophony and a force pressed her blindly forward.

There was a heavy, saronite-wrought door before her. For a moment, she tried to make out the runes on it as if that would bring some solidity to the ethereal vision but before she could even focus on a single etching, the door slammed open.

She felt a blast of fire. Panic coursed through her. Blood was everywhere, tattered body-parts dripping with the plague. A woman was in her arms, soaked in blood, her arm torn from its socket. She could feel the barely alive body shuddering, fending off death. 

An axe sliced through the air; a ghoul’s head splattered against the wall beside her. She kept moving even though her own body felt numb. The woman in her arms shivered. Was she dying? 

The shrieking around her grew louder. Someone grabbed her waist, yanking her backwards. 

LET ME GO. WE HAVE TO SAVE THEM.

She fell into a drift of snow stained red with blood. The woman she had been carrying crumpled alongside her, sobbing. She couldn’t tell if it was from fear, relief or pain. How was the woman still alive? 

Her head rang but she could hardly feel it. Bile rose up in her throat. She could have saved them. All of them, not these few shattered bodies still clinging to life. She could have saved them all.

She could have –

Rhianon’s head smacked against the floor as she collapsed, stunning her out of her hallucination. She rolled over onto her side. Hot tears pricked at the corners of her eyes but she didn’t wipe them away. She wanted to feel all of it. She had chosen it after all.

No one can cheat death whatever those shadow fiends seem to think, Sage Nastah had told her once as they walked the forests of the spirit world. No suffering can be soothed for free. Everything has a price. That’s the trick. The enemy never expects that someone will be willing to pay it for another. They think everyone is as selfish as they are.

That’s what makes us different, stronger. That’s the burden you need to learn to bear. It grows easier with time, with experience, but it never goes away. Each nightmare is a reminder of what we bring back when we fight death and win. 

Rhianon swallowed and stood up, bracing herself against the wall. 

The dark shaman had laughed at her in the spirit world that night. Who are you, little woman-child? You dare stand up against me? You cannot imagine the hells I can create.

I can, she had told him. I know them. I walk them.

And I’m not afraid of them.

In that moment, all of the bravado had faded from his face. He saw her for who she was. She took his hell from him, swallowed the suffering and death he relished, and she walked away with the man she loved.

She won.

Comments

Drogar's picture

My hero! /swoon ((Rhia's

My hero! /swoon

((Rhia's passive resistance is terrifying for bad guys! ))

Darlain's picture

I really love this, your take

I really love this, your take on spirit-shaman lore is just facinating.