I play World of Warcraft (a lot), and started this series of stories on HubPages. I think they will reach more readers here in one long story. It's a little bit violent in parts...
And Her Mother Before Her...
Before Zeldamon of Terokkar, there was Marladylight of a forgotten realm. Being trained in the ways of the night and nature, it left deep emotional scars when she had to give birth to Zeldamon during a great battle. Marladylight and her beautiful monk daughter were left to be alone, as the reaper took the soul of her husband and father. Though Marladylight would lose two of her children, she vowed to not let Zeldamon out of her sight. When the fighting became too much for a fleeting woman and her child, they had no choice but to seek shelter. Hidden in a cave for 90 years, Zeldamon watched the fate of her mother, as she fell to an impossible disease. The fear going outside to find herbs in hopes of cure for it left her druid mother helpless. Marladylight is said to still have her soul, lost in a realm that no one can reach. And so, Zeldamon opened the cave, her eyes bright from darkness. Though she had aged 90 years, she was new to the world around, and this world is not what she had been hiding from for so many years. There was new life, and healed destruction. She found it amazing, the things that were there that she couldn't have even dreamed about. She felt then like she may have been destined to live without her mother, on her own. She breathed in the air around her, and reflected on her time in the cave. She remembered her mother's warnings, and proceeded with caution at first. All the creatures she came across seemed friendly, and wanted to play with her. She decided she wanted to take one home with her, and her heart began to break again when she realized that she'd never really had one.
The Big City
Where many others hurried around the city, Zeldamon had nothing but time to explore. She quickly found a nice woman with a child that offers to pay her 19 silver if she would just travel to the neighboring town and deliver a message. The child needed medicine and could not make the walk. Not wanting to leave her child alone, his mother sent Zeldamon with provisions, and the monk made her way out of the city, almost missing the man yelling at her, telling her she will need magic to fight predators out there.Predators? she thought, All the nature is friendly around here, and everyone seems to wish me well. The next town was not too far for a healthy person to walk, and she must have looked confused because without her asking the question, he warned her about the monsters that lurk in the darkness. "Some are human, some undead, some beast, or creature." He told her as he insisted that she bring back the collars of marked tigers, "If you should come across any." There was 30 silver to be made, and Zeldamon told him she would, even though she did not believe she would come across such creatures. She made her way out into the woods, and began travel to the next town to get medicine for the boy.
She was enjoying the trees and the sound they made when the gentle wind touched them when she saw her first aggressive tiger. in these parts. Something must have made them this way, she thought. He can be taught to love again. In the cave, when love was running low, her mother would cast a spell to enchant the spirits and raise their stamina. If only I had supplies from that cave... but they very may well may have been the last... As she killed the beast with her bear hands in one swift motion, though, she felt it... the fear of the animal dripped away. It was as her mother acted in her cat form when she was agitated. She would claw and kick, and though Zeldamon was a woman, she had not yet outranked her mother at the time. She assumed she was too weak to fight, and secretly she wanted to, then hated herself for wanting to in the same moment. She picked up the mans items as she would surely need the money in this new world, and for every tiger she killed, it became less and less painful. As she collected the last collar the man wanted, she was ambushed by two others animals, and her native instinct... tore through her. With the blood of her friends on her face, she gathered their pelts and bundled their bones to make goods someone might be interested in buying. Life should never go to waste, she could hear her mother say, and she hung her head in disgust with herself.
She moved on to the next town, feeling sick with herself. She spent so long as a child taking care of the few animals that she could find. Her mother had taught her to care for life. Though Marladylight had not always abided by her own rules, the lessons were still there in Zeldamon's heart. She believed the word more than her mother did when they were said, and she was horrified that she had trophies now to show her true instincts. It was as if she had seen insider herself for the first time and discovered darkness she had never imagined within her. When a large panther jumped at her from behind the bushes and startled her, she ran this time. With all that she had, she chose to avoid her instincts. She didn't even notice when the animal had stopped chasing her. All of a sudden, it was as if she had hit a brick wall. Pain shot through her entire body before she black out entirely.
"Zeldamon, always appreciate the life we're given." Marladylight stroked her grown daughter's hair as her cries echoed off of the cave walls.
"I'm lonely mother, why did all of this happen to us?"
Marladylight looked away in thought. "We'll be taken away from here one day, love. Your father is coming for us soon."
At Marladylight's delusional promises, Zeldamon broke into sobs. Her mother continuted to speak them, though, oblivious to the pain in caused her daughter to do so. Pieces of Zeldamon's heart chipped away with every sentence, and the cold grew within her.
"I am grateful, mama, but you're sick, and I fear you will not be with me much longer. What do I do then? What do I do when your stories of hope are gone?" Zeldamon clung tightly to her mother's clothes, not wanting to face reality.
Her mother struck her suddenly. "They're not stories! He comes to me at night to tell of the end of the war. He is coming home, and he will take us away from here. Why would I waste your life with stories?"
Zeldamon's face crumpled at the realization that there was no hope. Her mother thought her delusions were reality. She hadn't been speaking about dreams, she had thought she actually saw him, standing in front of her.
Dusting Off the Magic
*Blink*... *Blink*... As Zeldamon opened her eyes, she was relieved to find that what she had run into wasn't a predator. What appeared to be a man mixed with a bear sat on the other side of the small room she lay in, toiling over herbs and roots. "It's a wonder you made it here safely, with the state you were in when you arrived. Where are you from?"
Zeldamon sat up slowly, blinking away flashbacks from the cave and the tears that came with them. "Not here... What happened?"
"You ran right into me, didn't even see me." He snorted. "Had this crazy look in your eyes..."
"I apologize... It's just that... this forest used to be friendly... all that blood..." thinking about her forest friends again made her stomach turn as she looked down at her hands. "I had to kill them all." His face softened as he watched Zeldamon.
"Many others like you have come along from the caves, not knowing if the war was won or lost... Not many coming around these days, but there's one or two every now and then. During the fighting, the humans let out a virus that mutuated the intelligent beings, if survived by the sickness. The wildlife took the biggest hit, and those with wildlife instincts... some of them have become... unsettled... where there was once peace now lays anger and resentment that is not yet understood. These new species have formed on both sides of the faction lines, with only the want to be good or bad separating them. Here, eat this. It will protect you in case you've been infected."
Zeldamon chewed slowly, uncertain to trust this man. "I come needing assistance for a little boy in the city west of here. Is there anyway you can help me with this?"
"Let me introduce myself as a member of peace. I am Liam, and I was born in a last attempt our village alive. My mother a Druid, my father a human, they never had a chance and died in the war, but wanted to make sure that I had a life to settle into here. Let me see that."
Liam took the parchment from Zeldamon, and jumped up before he finished reading it. "We're running out of time! Hurry, come with me, I'll need your magic for this."
"Magic?" she thought. Before she could ask, Liam had mounted a large gryphon and was urging her to jump on. "If it weren't for that boy..." she muttered as she hopped up onto the enormous bird. She braced herself as the bird took off, and looking down at the town she fought her way to, she knew her life was already never the same.
As Liam flew back to Darnassus, the city of Night Elves, Zeldamon was having a hard time staying in the real world. The differences, they were too much, and it was quickly taking a toll on her mind...
"Zeldamon, it's because I love you that we stay here," she heard her mother whisper as she stroked her back.
"I'm so lonley, mama. I want to see the sun, feel the wind, touch the trees..." and as she sobbed, her mother's heart broke, but her fear had already taken over. A night elf was not meant to be trapped in conditions like this, and neither was her child. As Zeldamon felt her mothers tears drop into her purple hair, and she stiffened up.
"I'm so sorry, mama... you only have sadness because I remind you always how lonely we are. You're enough, mama, don't cry."
Smiles were hard to come by but Marladylight put one on for her daughter that day. "We're both enough, my love, and one day... I'll have faith enough to lead us out of the caves..." Knowing surely that they would run out of food one of these days, Zeldamon believed they would make it out together...
*SQUACK!!* "We're here!" Zeldamon was snapped back into reality by Liam's gruff warning of a descent into the city. The city didn't look the same, and she had just been here. It was... darker somehow.
Discovering the Remedy
As she descended from the bird, Zeldamon got dizzy, blacking out again. When she awoke this time, she was in a bigger room with herbs hanging from the ceilings and the walls covered with vines. As she attemped to sit up, the flashbacks became too much to bear, and her eyes darted around the room, looking for the cause of the animal sounds. No one appeared to be in the room and she began to wonder if they had put her into a prison. Maybe the kindness they showed was part of a charade to capture her. As soon as the thought entered her head, she felt the tears on her face and came to the sickening realization that SHE was the horrible howls in the night.
"They will hear you, Zeldamon, be quiet!" her mother whispered. "It isn't enough that we have to see him this way? Don't let him die for nothing!" The image of her mother dragging her father's body to a shallow grave, the blood that trailed behind all of them... burned inside her head.
As she would go in and out of conciousness, Liam would enter and leave the room, telling her to chew on more of the leaves he had given her earlier. The dreams would stop, and she could sleep easier, only to be awoken again and again by images she would never forget.
"Mother, please don't leave. I need you!" At her heartfelt plea, Marladylight scoffed in the face of her daughter.
"NEED?!" she hollered, letting her rage take over her. "You know nothing of need! All I needed was the love of your father, of the children we were to share, and the trees took it all, showing me these were things I thought I needed. All you need is the air in your lungs!" Marladylight let out a ferocious growl before turning her back on her 7 year old daughter and tearing into the night. Zeldamon cowered in a tall tree for the night, giving her mother time to revert from her bear form before she went to search for her. In the night, she heard the crying of rabbits and other small animals as their souls were taken out by the hands of Marladylight. With every cry, Zeldamon lost a piece of her short-lived innocence, and by morning she was ready, harder, and more prepared to deal with the beast her mother became when the world got too hard for her. Gathering her energy, she set on the path her mother had left for her in blood and destruction.
From the nightmare, she woke gasping for air. The taste of the medicine was strong in her mouth, and her soul was calmer. Liam gently opened the door, and peered inside. "How are we feeling today?"
"How's the boy?!" she gasped.
"You've been in an out of hallucinations for days, almost the whole week has gone by. The boy got his medicine, Zeldamon... Here." Liam replied as he handed her more of the bitter leaves that appeared to be a remedy for whatever was happening to her.
"I feel sick," she finally answered.
"Most have had the treatment for the sickness you can catch from the predators in the woods. Jayxon should have asked you, but it's been so long since someone came along that hadn't been treated... He sent you this." Zeldamon opened the box to find 1 gold piece and a necklace. "There is more herb in the necklace, to give you health. He's apologizes, but I understand if you do not wish to run errands for him again. You should be through the worst of it. If the sickness had invaded your mind... you would have been lost to it. You should be back on your feet in a couple more days, and feel free to rest here. I imagine you'll be feeling back to normal tomorrow if you get up and get some exercise or socialize with some people in our small part of the city. We like to call it the Cenarion Enclave, and it's where healing takes place. You're in good hands, Zeldamon."
"Normal... I don't even know what normal is anymore..." Zeldamon whispered, tears of relief and despair falling from her eyes.
Finding a Home
Wanting nothing to do with the place she once called home, it wasn't long before Zeldamon realized she needed to move on from Darnassus. She heard others speaking of a land called Exodar, and that sounded beautiful to her... But when she arrived in the survivable woods that surrounded this beautiful city, it was more sadness, death, and recovery alkyl around her. There were still people looking actively for their family members, friends, or allies.She stayed to gather supplies and to establish a reputation of kindness, but this would not be her home, and she would not be happy until she had the love that her parents had shared. With 500 Gold, she set forth for Stormwind. Stormwind was supposed to be a city made of some, with people from all over working inside an ocean of opportunity.
"Take the boat," they said...
*Children giggling* "Shhh... Mommy said be quiet, Alucardia." The girls had been in the storage shack for hours now.
"Whatever, JAYXEN, she doesn't care about us anyways, she's never coming back. One day... It'll just be us..." *baby screams*
Zeldamon lurched forward in her cot bed, her clothes wet with sweat. "I'm so sorry." She jumped, startled to find anyone in the room with her before remembering she shared the sleep room on the boat to Stormwind with 12 other people, 5 of them children. She nodded in the direction of the voice she heard, and slowly laid back down as to but draw attention to herself. "Who was that?" she wondered.
The first couple days on the boat were wonderful. The sea was calm, and wildlife was abundant and friendly. She almost felt as though this could be paradise in itself, living at sea. During sleep on the third night, Zeldamon began again having hallucinations in her sleep, though no one noticed. It seemed to real to just be a nightmare, and they were almost memories, but... She would have been so young...
"Oh, Joseph, we must run away. What about the children? This is not how we were to raise them, with war and blood at their doors every night. Please, it's time to go, my love."
"The children need learn honor, loving wife, what will we tell them about those we abandon today? How do you justify leaving the lives I might save?"
As the boat swayed back and fourth for the next three days sure to a raging storm, Zeldamon finally fell to sea sickness. Lying there with five others in the sick bay, she wanted nothing but to sleep, but sleep only brought pain and pain just brought nausea. By day 15 on the boat, she was only getting worse, despite beautiful sea conditions. Zeldamon was the only one checked into the sick bay, and they were in the middle if the ocean. With fifteen days more to travel, the medic was getting worried, as well as the other passengers, for Zeldamon and her sanity. There were hours she lay, opening and closing her eyes like watching a photo album of unfamiliar faces and distorted truths. When she ate, it felt like her body was instantly poisoned by the substance once it hit her blood stream.
Nine days before they arrived at Stormwind, the medic called for a Priest to bless her and try to heal her, but none were to be found. He would have to settle for the son of a Priest who assured him he knew the ways of healing and would do what he could to help Zeldamon. The boy was just seventeen years old, but has no other moral compass in life than the books his father left him in passing years back.
He set the pages on a table beside her, her face pained in delusion and her stomach in knots. He sat gently next to her, taking her hand. She pulled back, her eyes now examining his face. "Shhh, ailing soul, let yourself have peace..." He whispered. "Hush now, you need to sleep clear... Breathe... You're in control now... It's up to you, sleep now, Zeldamon, you will wake with the sun." All of a sudden, she lurched forward with a sick that felt like evil leaving her body. All at once, the pictures burned away out of her mind, and the knots she felt starving her released. She began to sob for her lost pieces of memory as the mysterious boy held her hand and strikes her hair until she passed out.
"Daddy's here, little girl... Don't you worry about anything, I'll always protect you..."
*Blink... Blink...* Zeldamon didn't want to open her eyes... It was the first memory that stayed peaceful... In almost 30 days now. The ship to Stormwind had been delayed by another two weeks due to the storm that started the flashbacks, and how could it all just be... gone? Yet, somehow, she didn't feel like she was even on a boat anymore.
"I had to suppress your memories for blew. They're too much for you. The spell will last long enough for you to be able to withstand... feeling what happened to you..."
With every word he spoke, she felt her face get her with the salt of her tears.
"...It was the sea that did it, all these lost souls try to communicate with the ones they've spent ages looking for. Some have searched as long as a hundred year before going silent."
Her stomach turned an that thought. Though her memories were bound, she felt in her soul that she was being searched for. "Lost... souls?"
The boy shifted uncomfortably on his cot which he must have set up to keep watch over Zeldamon. "I'm Lyfe. My father was a priest, and as a man of light, his soul is at peace... I don't have much experience with the lost ones. I'll do my best to guide you in the next week or two, but we week need supplies when we make it to Stormwind."
As she stood up a light wave of nausea hit Zeldamon, and she stumbled, trying to keep it down. "
As we probe at your past... It's going to get worse before it gets better, I'm afraid..." Lyfe stood up, gently bracing her as she composed herself.
"Worse than now, or worse than before you came to my aid?" she nervously wondered.
"Come sit with me, Zeldamon... I promise there is a light in your future." he answered, guiding her to a table ready with breakfast. "You must get your strength up so we may begin..."
Lyfe wasn't lying when he said it would get worse before it got better. Their last day of travel was a good one, though and they spent the day in the sun waiting to see the city. They talked about what it would be like; Lyfe had also spent his life in the forest and it's surrounding cities. The love they would share one day was just budding, and they were gentle with each other after the last few days. Zeldamon's troubles were none like his, and he had had her sickness three times thus far. Though he trained to be a hunter, he was raised by shamans as a young child, and was very well taken care of. Like priests, they followed healing and magic. Zeldamon had been training to be a healer, like her mother, but there is more than one way of the monk. She was starting to think she needed to feel nature less for a little while... or differently, maybe. Lyfe promised to take her to a monk elder when they got to the city, and she wondered what it would be like to tap into her magic again. It had been so long since she used it, but Lyfe told her of things like The Touch of Death. "Though it is a skill that kills, there is not as much suffering for a creature. There is peace to be found in a peaceful death, an unexpected ending," he said.
As they ate the lunch prepared for them, they talked of the happier memories they had, and Zeldamon felt so blessed to have them again. Lyfe spoke of the shamans, and the peace they bring to all souls, the dungeons that their land held that Zeldamon had never even heard of. She had been so long from the real world that when she spoke, it was of her sisters and the mischief they caused for their mother. There were ten years where the family was on the run before Zeldamon and Marladylight had... decided... to hide out for a little while. The last time she saw Jayxen, she was fifteen. If there really were souls that needed finding, Zeldamon vowed to find her family to lay them at last to rest.
Bells rang loudly for noon, and they both jumped up to see Stormwind in the horizon. "New things seem more exciting now..." Zeldamon told him softly, reaching for his hand. "Life seems possible now..."
Lyfe nodded and smiled at her innocence. He looked on at the city with fear of a different lifestyle, and not having any reputation in this foreign land. He knew they had much to overcome still, but he squeezed her hand and offered hope anyways. "Life is always possible, and I cannot wait to find a small cabin and make a home with you..."
Alucardia had been creating portals all over the worlds, trying to find her family. "How horrible to think that a child died... to find out now that she's alive." She had felt her mother's soul while crossing the Ocean. "It's been a long time since I felt you, mother..." This time it felt different, somehow.
"Stop blaming yourself sister." Jayxen had wanted to take a trip together, Alucardia had been so... obsessed lately. "I thought you were past this?"
"You never get past what you cannot forget, dear sister. I protected you, but I lost them. We should have taken the baby with us the last time she left... I never should have let her take her into town, knowing... I could have helped her, I was old enough!" She was shaking now, unaware of her tears. "You know how I hate taking the boat."
Alucardia felt her sisters hands in hers."How can you see everything your way?" Jayxen asked.
Life in Stormwind
After building their home together, Lyfe and Zeldamon took a week to get married and spend time in their new cabin. Healing progress for both of them took form of daily goals. Having money in the bank would be their wedding present to each other, as they now had professions to lean on, she in skinning, and he an alchemist. She chose her first profession as a practice of sorts. Since she loved the wild, and aggressive life existed there, she needed to be prepared, and did not want to waste anything she had to kill. She smoked the meats she picked up, and made clothing and carpets from the fur. After they had enough to stay warm in case of snow, they began selling items, and they quickly made money; tucking potions into blankets for travelers. Zeldamon got to settle in, knowing she could leave, but not really wanting to. She traveled their own land, but still continued to stay out of contact with people excluding her new groom.
As they lay in bed with each other, warm and comfortable, Lyfe lay there stroking her hair. "I'm concerned you're afraid to make friends, my love." he felt her mood shift, and he moved in to kiss her neck. "I love being with you, but what will be a family if we have no friends to share it with?"
Zeldamon thought for a moment, looking into his eyes. "Even before it was just my mom and i, it was only my sisters with me, and my father... I don't know how to love more than that if losing them feels like it did..."
His eyes teared up as he feared that she had been hurt too deeply. "No... the pain just tells you it's real. We can live forever, my love, just like this..."
Zeldamon drifted off to sleep to the rhythm of his heartbeat, believing him.
An Unexpected Visitor
Zeldamon woke in the morning, full of hope for the day. She lay in Lyfe's arms, thinking of their babies, and the life they were going to make in this house. "I wonder if we'll need another bedroom?" she thought to herself.
*KNOCK KNOCK* Lyfe jumped in his sleep, looking crazily around the room. He looked at Zeldamon, and relaxed, appearing to still be troubled. "Who could that be?" he asked. The knocking came again and Zeldamon got up to answer it, hoping that put his thoughts to ease for now.
There was a girl at the door, wild-eyed and panicked. "i'm so sorry to bother you, you were sleeping! I can't even believe I have to do this. I'm looking for my sister." the girl all but shoved Zeldamon aside to enter the room. "I... I lost my sister..." the girl burst into tears. "This is the first house I've seen for miles. I had to walk from The Blasted Lands. We were on on of her crazy... I never should have let her convince me to go this time... but..."
Lyfe was in the kitchen by then, and came out with a glass of water for the girl. "Calm down for a second. What is your name?" The girl hesitated and looked them over again.
"I'm Jayx. My sister Allie goes on these crazy... adventures, she has never understood her limitations, but we got separated this time, and I think the Horde got to her." Her hands shook as she finally took slow sips from the water. "I have to find her, she's all I have left."
Zeldamon felt for the girl, and gently touched her shoulder. "Ok, we'll help you find your sister." Jayx looked up, tears streaming, and nodded. "You must be tired from your journey. We have a spare room for you to stay in. I'll bring you something to eat if you'd like to take a rest. How long have you been separated?"
"The last time I saw her... at least a month has passed... I got lost in the desert..." Jayx started to slip from her chair, and Lyfe quickly caught her, and carried her to bed.
Decisions to Make
After they all settled down for the night, and Lyfe was marveling at the difference in his wife's mood, Zeldamon had a thoughtful look on her face. "Tell me what you're thinking, wife," he requested.
"I want to help her, but she speaks of travelling so far from here, and we've just but got on our feet..." her voice trailed off into her thoughts.
"We can travel the world, my love. My home is in your heart. You have the soul that can heal people, and I want you to use that gift. This... this was just so we had some solid ground to stand on. We can sell the place, take the money to help a lonely traveler. It doesn't matter why you care about her. I've heard tell in Stormwind of a world named Draenor. From there, there are many portals back to our home, if you want to keep it, but we've not spent nearly what we've sold, and we can do anything from here. You seem to be feeling open to anything today, and we should grasp the opportunity before fear takes over."
Zeldamon did not expect to be able to just pick up and leave her home. It sounded exciting in the moment, but she soon began to grow a pit in her stomach. "What if it's a mistake? What if we can never go back?"
"We won't be able to come back, not at first, not for a while, but... we can build a Garrison, and have protection from thieves, stock houses to store our goods... More room for a family..." He brushed her hair back and nuzzled her neck.
She turned to face him. "If it's too much for us....."
"We'll hold each other, and heal the other's soul."
She kissed him then, and after a long time, passion taking over them, they lay there again, in the glow of love. "We'll leave tomorrow, when the sun rises." she told him as he once told her, and he wrapped his arms around her naked body, holding her tight.
Zeldamon had never taken a humane life before. She was used to killing beasts now, but people... she wasn't sure, and on the way to The Dark Portal that Jayx spoke of, it was all she could think about. What would her first kill be like? Will it be as awful as that first pack of tigers she had slaughtered? Lyfe assured her over and over that when her defenses kicked in, it would be the same as if they were animals, the horde had no regards for their lives.
He spoke the truth. When the time came, and she heard the battle cries around them, Zeldamon acted with her training with animal-like instinct. She did not see the horde as the only animals on the field, and she imagined that if it were her dying, she would scream just the same. She never understood all the need for the hatred that divided everyone. It was the reason she had to go out into the world alone.
The three of them became exalted with many alliance factions while earning information in The Blasted Lands. Every step closer to Draenor was a step closer to Jayx finding her sister, and she was getting axious.
"Almost two months has passed... she's probably dead." Jayxen sobbed into the night. Zeldamon tried to console her, but it was impossible. "We could have stayed where it's safe, but she's always looking... always looking... and with her mage powers, she could be anywhere by now, she would have sent me a message..."
Zeldamon had not met many with mage powers yet, but she knew as much to know that if she could have, she would have ported to safety. She worried for Jayx, as it had been almost two months with no word of her sister. It reminded Zeldamon of her sisters, and her own need to lay her sisters' souls to rest. She felt her closest hope lie with finding Jayx's Allie, whom had been actively searching for the lost most of her life.
Jayxen and Alucardia lay silent in the shed, left hopeless. At almost 15 and 12, it was setting in that they were now adults, abandoned by their mother for good this time. They had searched for days, but had run out of defenses, and had to rest.
"I can't believe I let her take the baby... she was just going to get groceries... no one has seen her in a week." Alucardia wept silently, braiding her sister's pigtails. "I met a mage in town last night. I've learned to create... portals... we must go search for them."
"What if they do come back? We won't be here. I must stay here, sister. Bring them back to us." Jayxen could not feel her sister's sadness anymore, and she still had hope. If she just waited long enough...
"We have to look now. If we don't leave soon, they'll be too far away to catch up to, we'll never find them. We'll rest tonight. Tomorrow I'll gather the herbs we need to take with us. We're leaving. I won't lose you too." Alucardia put her arms around her sister, and held her there. "I can't lose you."
"No, Allie! I won't leave our home! I can't! She promised she'd be back, she must have went to help someone." Alucardia stiffened at her sisters words. Help?
"I want you to check your mailbox daily. I must go," Alucardia could not make her sister accept the realities, and there was enough supplies in the shed for at least another couple weeks. She would be back by then, with Zelli and their mother.
Alucardia woke with a start. She didn't know where she was, or what was behind the walls of her cell. "I've really done it this time..."
She heard the doors that she couldn't see opening. "It's time for food, but what meal of the day is this?" she wondered. She looked down at the tray the guard laid out for her as he walked away. It had been days since anyone had spoken to her, but she didn't mind that too much. When they did talk to her, it was to tell her how they were going to kill her when it was time. She wondered what was stopping them. Magical beings from of the hoard kept visiting her, taking her blood and looking at the markings on her face.
As she ate for the sake of her unborn baby, she had to focus on keeping the food down. "I should have told her. I'm going to die, and she will have never known she was to be an aunt." Allie cried at the thought. She hadn't meant to fall in love, it had all been about the mission: finding her mother and youngest sister. As her pregnancy had progressed, the need became stronger as the reality grew further away. Now it just sounded silly. She risked all their lives for what? A mother that obviously didn't love her, one that had left her? A sister that she couldn't remember? Now her lover was dead, taken by Lord Joseph of Undercity. Jayxen thought this mission was about their mother again, but Kelshikt had left for a mission and not come back. Remembering the night her mother left, she tried to wait patiently for his return as Jayxen had all those years in the shed.
Sitting on the cold floor of the cell she was beginning to accept home, she was suprised to hear the doors open once more. A large blood elf came down the halls and came to look at her. On instinct, she stood in her challenge stance. He laughed at her, his echo radiating down the hallway.
"I am Lord Joseph. They say you have my blood. You are no longer a prisoner here... With my blood in your veins, I want to keep you under tighter lock and key. In your... condition... I wish to take the child you carry with my blood, and raise him to be the heir to my throne. They say you put up quite the fight. It's sad to see the Alliance has taken you to their side. As soon as my heir is born, I will have no use for you, and you will be killed." He spoke with no expression on his face.
Alucardia looked closer... What was this man talking about? "My father fought for the Alliance! I watched as my mother dragged his body out of battle, and I watched her scars form with his passing! I have no blood of yours!" she screamed at him.
"You misunderstand. I'm not giving you the choice. Stand up." He opened her cage door, and with no other choice, she stepped out of it to be dragged out with a blindfold. Tears stained her face. "What have I done? How can this man believe his is my father..."
As the trio fought through the hoard and interrogated anyone they could, they came very little closer to finding Jayx's sister. Jayx fell into a depression that left her screaming in the night. Zeldamon found herself feeling surprised at how deeply she felt for her. They had been travelling together for but four months but it was as if... they knew each other, and she knew how to make it better sometimes. The last tell they heard of Allie was a spiteful scout that spit in the face of his attackers.
"That tramp is exactly where she wants to be!" he bellowed and spat in Jayx's face. He wouldn't say more and she became so enraged that she bound him by all his limbs and drug him through the woods by his belly, hoping for information. When she realized he was determined to die for the secrets he kept, she looked him in the eye as she stabbed him in the spine and dropped him to the ground. He would be left there, to bleed as he couldn't make any attempt to stop it.
That night, they bathed in the moonlit river that they spent a good part of the week looking for to refill their canteens. As Lyfe started the fire for dinner, Zeldamon and Jayx sat in silence, braiding each other's hair and watching the flames Lyfe cooked from. Zeldamon took watch of the camp that night, and when her nightmare's came, she lay there with Jayx, soothing her and praying for news in the morning.
They woke early to ensure swift passage around the walls in the jungle. To avoid conflict, and attempting to eavesdrop, they crept quickly past guards, and even the king. They all stopped breathing when they realized that scouts were behind them. The horde was facing away and they sunk into the shadows, willing themselves to be invisible.
"She will make him weak. Women!" one scout snorted.
"He has already set up board for her. Hmph! She will have him wrapped around her finger soon enough. Looking for her mother after all these years! Silly child she is, she'll get us killed!" said another.
As the scouts continued talking, Lyfe motioned to a cave that seemed to be empty for them to rest in. Jayxen did not want to move on from this conversation, but knew she would not stay hidden forever, and took her cue when the scouts were both looking away.
"Tramp!" Jayx scoffed. Zeldamon looked over. "Do you think they were talking about Allie?" she wondered aloud.
"Something's going on, I can feel it. She's not safe... We're closer, but she still feels so distant... I can't tell for sure, but she feels alive." Jayx slid to the cave floor, defeated. Lyfe looked outside, nervously.
"We just need a plan. I see a clearing a few miles that way." he motioned to the west. "We all have friends, we can set up a home here for now, maybe more than one, so we have a safe place to rest at night. You two are worrying yourselves sick at night, we can't go on like this"
The girls nodded, checking their supplies. "We'll have lunch and check the cave for water and then we can move onto the clearing." Lyfe suggested, and moved on to start a fire.
Now what should be seven months into her unwed pregnancy, Alucardia was at the mercy of the horde. Several had heard now of the daughter of Joseph, tramp of the alliance, daughter of a traitor. Though she was less nauseous less often now, she worried more and more. In her condition, escape was unlikely. There weren't many women around, and the only woman she was allowed to see was the woman that would be taking her baby in less than sixty days. Alucardia searched her dreams for hope, and spend her days praying, and trying to reach her sister. Sometimes she felt her, and she was getting closer... but there was no way to tell how close.
The midwife, Luda opened the door of what now appeared to be less of a prison, but was still much more so. She lay imprisoned on her bed in the tower of her father's castle, whom she had believed to be dead for something close to 90 years.
"Please, let me keep my baby. I'll do anything. I'll join your armies if it would mean that I could raise her." she sobbed as Luda checked, her temperature and took some blood.
Alucardia had been making this deal all week, and still she got the same rejection. "You're of no use to those as noble as us." she hissed as she felt Alucardia's stomach. "The child seems to be growing quickly. You don't have much time left." As she left the room, she glanced back at Alucardia, but quickly turned back and slammed the door.
"Life be of light, life be of blood, I ask the wind to carry my message..." Alucardia slept not that night, and instead prayed to her sister for forgiveness and rescue.
It was not long before Zeldamon, Lyfe, and Jayx had obtained a safe place to rest as well as people from surrounding towns eager to help once they heard of their journey. Money was not hard to come by, and the three decided to spend the next couple weeks gathering supplies to last their next attempt at finding Allie.
Jayx decided it was time for Zeldamon to finish her training in the ways of nature during this time. Communicating through the wind, sensing the shift in the branches of the trees around them, and meditating. "Meditation with an item of a lost one will lead the mind to that soul. If you are meditating for peace, that is where your soul will be led." Jayx instructed her.
As they began the meditation, Zeldamon immediately felt a familiar presence. It almost made her soul burn. Thinking it was the item she held of Allie's, she put all of her focus into that feeling. As the warmth in her soul grew to a painful level, Zeldamon became aware of Jayx's fingertips on her wrists. As she opened her eyes, interrupted by the pain, her whole body became cold and she backed away from Jayx. "Who are you?" she demanded.
"I felt this feeling before, when I was sick and new to these worlds. I thought it was just the illness, all the feelings I had, but this one... until it became hot... felt good, familiar in a way." Zeldamon sat still in the meditation stance, waiting for Jayx's reply, but she had gone pale.
"She spend all that time in Darnassus, swearing she could feel her... I... I can't believe I didn't recognize you... I thought for sure you were gone... We've been looking everywhere for you." Jayx wasn't making much sense, but as the cold left her body, Zeldamon couldn't help but understand. The memories that Lyfe had probed were flashing before her eyes in the form of her lost sister.
Her stomach turned as soon as she realized, "Allie..." she whispered. "How... how could I be this blind?"
Alucardia cried out loud as an unfamiliar feeling came from inside her. She felt the baby kicking and moving, warming up; then suddenly going cold. She tried to stifle her cry, as she feared the baby may be coming early. As she stroked her engorged stomach, she sang sweetly to the baby, who seemed to still be moving. She could feel that the baby was searching for something, and she tried to put her daughter at ease as well as her own growing anxiety.
Allie stood up slowly, checking to see if anyone had hear her shout, and when she was confident that no one was coming, she ran to her bathroom and lay next to the bathtub, weeping silently. Eventually, exhausted, she lay sprawled out on the floor... unconscious.
She woke to Luda standing over her, checking her pulse and shoving salts into her face. Immediate nausea hit, and she spent the next several minutes dry-heaving nothing over the bath until she blacked out again.
Lyfe, Zeldamon and Jayxen could not believe how fast the upgrades were made to their new home. Many people were looking for a place to call home, and they would have to entrust some of these followers to run things while they were gone. In the two weeks they set aside for the construction, they had finished quickly enough to leave a day early in search of Zeldamon's newly discovered sister.
The girls had grown closer yet in these 13 days, and they went everywhere together, both afraid of losing the other again after all this time. Thought drifted from Alucardia, and onto their budding sisterhood. Focus had been lost, and they dedicated their last day discussing their lost sister, preparing for the searching they would do in the days to come.
"I can't believe we found each other, and didn't know. I wasn't trying to read you anymore... she would have known if she were here." Jayxen said quietly, moving the remaining food left on her lunch plate. "I never believed her..."
Zeldamon softly took her sister's hand. "We're together now, and we're going to find her. I thought you had died.... when mother left with me, she told me you were sick... it was her that was sick all along." tears came whenever she remembered the night she and her mother went into the woods. They hadn't meant to leave Alucardia and Jayxen in the shed, but in her mother's mania, the ended up miles from home. When she reverted to her druid state, she seemed convinced that the older two sisters had been ill when they left, and they were surely dead now. At almost ten years old, Zeldamon believed her mother, and had yet to learn of her mental ailments, and just how twisted her mind had become, not understanding time, or even safe travel. She ran wildly through the woods, getting chased by anything that caught scent of her.
"We were just supposed to gather food..." Zeldamon wept now, clinging to the last memory she had of her eldest sister, Alucardia. "I can remember the look in Allie's eyes, but mother was unstoppable by then. We were too young... too... alone."
Jayxen shifted uncomfortably in her chair. Zeldamon had been a great strength for her, and it wasn't until now that she realized how troubled her sister's life had been. Jayxen felt guilty for not doing more back then to keep the family together. "I was old enough..." she thought aloud, and she fought back her own tears so she could be the strong one for her sister to lean on today.
Alucardia woke in her bed, warm and comfortable. No one sat with her, and she worried. "What happened..." she wondered groggily. She looked around her cell, searching for comfort that she never found there. As she sat up, she remembered flashes of the last couple days. Luda feeding her, Allie throwing it up, over and over and over again. It seemed to take weeks, but Luda must have continued her calendar because there were two new markings.
Hours went by before Luda came back into her room. She wasn't her usual, surly, self, and she almost looked kindly at Allie as she took her vitals that... morning?
"Your father really wants this baby, don't let her die." She said curtly. As she walked around the room, gathering up her supplies, she came back too look Allie in the eye. "She's not coming for you. If she does, she'll die before she find you. Understand?"
Her words no longer sounded like a threat to her, but more of a warning. "He's not my father," Allie shot back before she rolled over to face the wall, closing her eyes to wait for solidarity once more.
Luda left the room, not saying another word, and not returning for the rest of the day.
For the Horde!
As the trio prepared for the journey ahead of them, they dressed in their disguises. It had been decided by all that they could not make it through their defenses unless they could pass as a member of the horde. Followers had gone out the night before to collect their new armor.
"We found four scouts not too far from here" a follower told Lyfe. "Keep the fourth here in case you are discovered. If you do not return or send tell in the next 7 days, I will search for you."
As they set off for the castle, fog set into the forest. Though it was midday, it appeared to be night, and it seemed as if hope may be lost for the day until two guards rushed up to them. "Where have you three been?!" he shouted as he ushered them forward. "The king called a meeting, we're almost late."
As they ran to catch up, Zeldamon felt a surge of hope go through her. Their disguises worked, and there were so many horde now that it was assumed they belonged. They came from everywhere, out of huts and hideouts, from behind trees and bushes. Once they stood in front of the castle, the chatter started.
"We haven't time for this, the Alliance makes advances daily, and he's worried about a child!"
"That tramp will be the death of us all! How will he be focused on the war when he's raising one of theirs?"
"Tramp..." Jayxen thought. Could they be talking about her sister? Had they kidnapped her and put her with child. "What's going on?" she asked a nearby guard.
"We're all going to fall, that's what," he scoffed at her. "King Joseph is convinced his eldest child has returned to him, bearing an heir. He takes it as a sign of blood, and he wishes to raise the child as a warrior. A child in the castle! Hmph!"
Jayxen's body went cold. King Joseph? His eldest child? The man she had drug through the woods used the same word, tramp, describing her sister. It couldn't be! Their father had been buried before they got split up though... it seemed impossible, this man must be delusional.
She was ripped out of her thoughts by Lyfe guiding her forward. "Let's go." he pushed, and the next she knew, Zeldamon and Lyfe were showing her to a base on the side of the castle, pretending to stand watch and listen to the king give his speech.
King Joseph (Joseph)
Joseph: Time of Death and Life
The battle had raged on for days, and Joseph hadn't seen his wife or children for weeks. Maybe Marladylight was right, the victory wasn't worth the life he gave up when he entered the battlefield.
He sat in the grass, keeping watch while he drank some water. There was no time to eat, as the horde would come over the hill any minute now. He motioned to his battle mates, and they all rushed for the docks. With the sea at their back, they couldn't be ambushed, they thought.
They were wrong, and soon enough, Joseph was taken hostage. Once bound and gagged, an ogre stood over him, his breath growing hot.
"We have big plans for you..." he boomed, and began chanting in a language unknown to Joseph. He struggled with his ties until his arms bled and he couldn't breathe, but to no avail. Defeated, he lay there and listened to the chant until it made sense to him.
"You will regret this..." he hissed in the same language with his last though of the Alliance, and entered a dreamless sleep.
Once awake, he lay there in his home, with his wife next to him. Confused, he had up and looked down on the blood that dripped down his arms. Checking the mirror, he wasn't at all surprised at what he saw. His face had changed somehow, and his eyes glowed with a deep red.
"Something has happened to me, love, there isn't much time!" he screamed as he shook Zeldamon awake. As she stirred, she jumped from their bed in alarm, and changed her stance to that of the bear. She growled at him, sensing the difference, knowing he would soon be gone to her as she knew him. As she clawed at him, Zeldamon woke, waking her sisters. They hid, watching the scene before them. As their mother succeeded, and began to take him from the house, the girls followed behind, no longer trying to hide. They screamed after him, and it was as if Marladylight didn't even know they were there, her grief was so strong. Once he was buried, she lay there with the soul of a wounded cat and wailed into the darkness for the next several hours. The children gathered their mother as the sun rose, and they never saw Joseph again.
Joseph woke violently, under the earth. With only jagged memories of the past, his instincts are now what would lead him. As he dug himself from the grave his family left him in, he was sure to replace it with the body of his first kill as a blood elf. The man looked nothing like him, but if his family returned to his grave, they surely would not dig him up to find out. Where he used to feel horror from life fading from a being, this time it strengthened him. He looked at the blood on his hands, and was proud.
He picked up his few belongings, and went to find the man that had plans for him.
Sneaking Through The Castle
Eventually, Lyfe found a guard that would speak with him, and by stroke of luck found out that Alucardia was in the highest tower of the castle, but other rumors put her in the dungeon. Having her located at the castle before them, they were too close to back down. They took a few minutes to make a plan.
"We'll have to kill everyone we see... and avoid the king." Jayxen explained. "We have to go back for him... If it's him... Once we have her safe. If she is pregnant, it could almost be time for the baby. We need to get her out quickly. If he's delusional to believe he's our father, he's crazy enough to do anything."
As they navigated the halls of the castle, they took care of smaller rooms first, using them to go back to for food or water. These rooms held one or two guards, if any, and it did not take long to clear out the main hallway, as everyone was outside, waiting for the speech the king had to make. The bells rand off and soon after, they hear his voice bellow through the hallways. Attempting to find the dungeon left Zeldamon poisoned by a hunter's wolf bite. They took a rest on the stairs that was short lived by the sounds of weeping from below them. Lyfe peeked over the rails and saw several guards with their dogs. He motioned to the girls to stay back against the walls. Zeldamon quickly bandaged her would, closed her eyes, and waited for the effects of the poison to lessen.
Lyfe quietly rummaged through his backpack and pulled out three bombs. The two girls looked down, nervously, and he shrugged, handing them both a match.
That morning, Allie felt a sharp pain shoot through her abdomen. Though brief, she was concerned it might be time, as her stomach looked like it might pop. Something big was happening, because only Luda had checked on her for days, and even she was hardly allowed to leave. She could hear the guards talk from behind her door and down the hallway, day and night.
She stifled her cries that morning. She was determined to never have the baby, and decided if she had to, she would let the baby die rather be taken by the horde... and that man that said he was her father. Though he did seem familiar somehow, the man she remembered as a little girl was gone from inside him. He had turned ruthless, only in search of wealth and power. He was everything her father wasn't. Her father would die before he let her life be taken.
Sometime after dinner, Luda left her room for the night. Alucardia sat there, alone, and sang to her baby. She prayed for time. Hopes of Jayxen had left, but if life got quiet enough in the castle... Hopes of rescue at all had left , and days before then she had stopped begging for their lives. As she began to fall asleep, cramps ripped through her entire midsection for almost two minutes. As she tried to control her breathing she felt a tremor on the ground. Bracing herself on her bed, as the next tremor was closer, she thought to herself. "Is the castle under attack?" And as the contraction subsided, she tried to channel her sister with one last burst of hope.
*Boom!* The room shook with a third and final explosion. There was screaming from outside her room, and as the dust settled, she saw Zeldamon crouched in the corner of her room. She backed away, sure that she was there to kill her. It was then that Zeldamon cast magic that left Alucardia's pain invisible, and motioned for her to come to her. Slowly, they crept to another room opposite the dungeon from hers where the midwife Luda lie, ripped to shreds. She didn't even notice Jayxen in the corner, as Luda was the only person who had shown her some sort of kindness. Tears streaked down her face as she knelt down to close her eyes, and she felt arms around her that she quickly reacted to with magic. Fire lit the room as Jayxen hit the wall and Alucardia's eyes went wild. There was one injured guard coming, and the uneven click of his heels left all of them silent, staring at each other. Alucardia slunk down into a corner, ashamed she felt for Luda at all. Lyfe finished off the guard, and together, the three night elves guided a distraught Alucardia out of the castle and into the cave that seemed to still be undisturbed outside the gates of the kingdom.
The Trip Home
Being almost 100 miles from their garrison, the newly reunited family decided to stay in their hideout until daybreak. As Jayxen searched for signs on Alucardia's face as to how she was feeling, there were none. Alucardia sat in the corner, singing to her baby like she had the months before. With Zeldamon's spell still over her, contractions were absent until the afternoon, but after that... If Alucardia was in labor, this baby was coming and they would have to set up camp for another few nights. She had said nothing of the prison, only that she had had contractions, maybe twice.
After Alucardia fell to sleep, the victorious trio sat around their small camp fire, and opened a small bottle of champagne. "Do we tell her tomorrow, or should we wait until after the baby?" Zeldamon whispered, intensely aware that there might horde lurking the night, looking for them.
"Let's wait to see if the baby is born tomorrow." Jayxen answered. She took a long sip from her glass. "We never kept secrets from each other. Why wouldn't she tell me?"
Zeldamon reached for her hand. "We can heal anything now, sister. We are together." They toasted quietly, smiling at the thought.
Lyfe woke first, and wandered outside to smoke his pipe. Looking around for horde members, he debated on waking the girls or securing the perimeter himself. Horde must be searching for them by now, with all those people outside when the bombs went off. Their disguises had been left in the castle, and they had barely made it out. But now, in the morning sun, he saw no one around. It was as if they had vanished into the other direction. "They must have went to the docks to get more troops." he thought.
Jayxen wandered out of the cave, shielding her eyes from the sun. "Are we going to have a quick travel home, brother?"
"I hope so... But something feels wrong. We should get out of here and head west." With worry in his eyes, he began packing up his items. He sat down next to Zeldamon and whispered, "Wake up my love, the day is breaking." Startled to hear his voice, Zeldamon sat up before she woke.
Alucardia had been laying in her space on the cave floor, no one being able to tell if she had actually slept or not. She didn't speak to anyone until they were miles away from the castle, where she dropped to her knees and burst out into crying and insane rambling. Lyfe looked around for enemies, and the sisters dropped their backpacks to catch Alucardia. They guided her over to a fallen tree and propped her up against it. Giving her space to breathe, they waited until she caught her composure. When they thought her crying would never cease, Zeldamon began trying to calm her. Jayxen had never seen her sister so distraught, and she sat, disconnected for a moment before she took her sisters hands.
"Shhh... sister. Tell us how to soothe you." Jayxen whispered in her ear. Alucardia looked over at her sister. "Tell me you forgive me," she requested as she had so many times before when they got into mischief together as children.
Jayxen took Allie's face into her hands and forced her to look her in the face. "I will ALWAYS forgive you, sister." Taking her sister then and holding her, Alucardia's breathing went back to normal and they were forced to be on their way again.
A couple hours after lunch, Alucardia began feeling nauseous, and the group decided to stop for the day. "Travelling pregnant isn't good for the baby," Lyfe told her. "She's asking us to slow down."
The Trip Home: Day 2
Having not seen any members of the horde the day before, Lyfe felt confident in the camp he had set up for them. "We should stay here a day or two and rest. We don't want to make the baby come any earlier than she is supposed to, and we want to make it back to the garrison, where there are supplies." The girls agreed to stay for a night and see how they felt after that. Alucardia woke with sickness that lasted until lunch, which she agreed to eat, reluctantly. Once she felt good enough, she came out and sat with her sisters, not yet knowing of Zeldamon's discovery.
Having decided to tell her if the baby did not come, Zeldamon and Jayxen sat silently with her, not knowing now how to tell her. Jayxen thought she would have prayed by now, and felt what she felt, but her sister was not the same. "Her magic must be affected by her capture, she must have a troubled heart."
"Sister, there is much to tell you..." she started. "You have not even asked me who my companions may be."
Allie began to feel self-conscious. "I apologize," she said, examining the strangers. "Thank you for helping my sister rescuing me. I will forever be in your debt, he wanted to take my baby... he wanted her to be a warrior of the horde, born with the blood of a night elf..." as her voice trailed off, her tears came again, and Zeldamon squeezed her hand.
"She found me, sister." Zeldamon blurted out, and Alucardia withdrew her hand, her eyes lighting up with the painful memory of her lost sister. As she examined her sister again, tears brimmed with lighting at her eyelids.
"Where is she?" Alucardia demanded.
Alucardia was devastated to learn of their mother's passing. She cried for most of the day, blaming Zeldamon for not coaxing her out of the cage when there was time to save her. "You're grown now, Zellie, you could have left to get help for her, and gone back for her... You never came back for us! It took her death to..." Alucardia collapsed to the ground, hysterical and violent. Her magic was out of control, and Lyfe feared she might burn down the forest around them. Jayx was afraid to get in her way after last time and she plead for Lyfe to make her sleep. He gently took Alucardia buy the shoulders and soothed her like he had Zeldamon the day they meet. After his incantation, he carried her into the tent to sleep.
Hours later, Alucardia woke to Zeldamon chanting in mediation. Not to interrupt her, she quietly slipped out of the tent.
"Our sister is training to be a monk." Jayxen told her softly. "She was raised without a class, really. Mother... She was always sick, after daddy... She's still a child, Allie. If that king really is our father, maybe there is a cure for him. We were all mutated in a way, you know... During the bad years of the war, everyone was affected. Maybe mother is in that cave right now, turning like he must have... Do you think it's him?"
Alucardia was defeated from the day. "This is all too much, Jayx. We need to move on tomorrow. The baby will be coming soon, and I can't have her in these woods." with that, she went back into the tent and fell asleep to Zeldamon's rhythmic chanting.
Though they made it back to the garrison safely to set up Alucardia's room and a space for the baby to be born, her stomach had grown larger yet. For the greater part of their first three days home, she lay in her room while others whirled around her, cleaning up and checking on her. No one pushed her to speak for fear of an outbreak, and she seemed calm by herself for now. Only Zeldamon, Jayxen, and Lyfe had been in to check on her, but she could hear others outside from her window. Zeldamon had insisted on an outside room for her, and the others agreed to find her one.
At the end of September, Alucardia's daughter was born. She named her Zaiden, and fell into a love that, for a moment, washed away all the painful emotions she had just two or three weeks ago. With the cold outside, she had reason to stay in with the baby without telling anyone that she was terrified of the outside world. She had spent 4 months with nothing but strangers, and without her mother to search for and Zeldamon found, she was satisfied staying in the bedroom made for her when she got there. Lyfe offered to build her and the baby a home within the garrison's walls, and she quickly declined. Lyfe began to worry, but decided she needed time with the baby, and didn't voice his concerns. She was in the safest place possible, and he wanted her to have time to adjust.
Allie began to venture out into the rest of the town hall around spring, when she could see the birds from the tiny window in her bedroom. In search of a bigger window, Alucardia traveled farther and farther each night, after the baby was put to sleep. Zeldamon, concerned as well by then, offered her a job at the desk in the main hall. Alucardia almost declined, but the big window that shone light into the whole room made her agree. She loved the nature around them, and ached to breathe fresh, spring air. Manic about the outside world by then, she had acquired a new weapon that lie next to her matrress at night. At night, she had begun dreaming about her mother, and the dreams, though innocent at first, fed the mania. She no longer knew how long she had been fighting it. She felt then that maybe he had always lived this way.
As the dreams turned to nightmares, she also began having hallucinations at night. Visions of herself dancing in fire, and apparitions where she was drunk on light made her retreat from her failed attempt at leaving her room. Allie soon began locking her door at night and only coming out for new clothes or extra bedding. The garrison had offered her a nanny, and as Zaiden was beginning to walk, she finally agreed. As the visions became more and more vivid, she appreciated the choice she made for her daughter.
No one knew of the hallucinations during this time, but it wouldn't be long before they all found out the extent of Alucardia's mental injuries. Just like her mother, she caged herself the only way she could, and hid there. This time, there would be help, but it could be too late...
Once Alucardia began locking her doors, Jayxen became enraged. She was acting just like their mother when the mania hit, but this was different... there were doctors around her, and Allie knew better! For sake of the child, Allie let the nanny take her to tame and hone her magic. It was toward the end of spring when Zeldamon first heard the screaming in the night. So sudden that it woke other members of the garrison, Zeldamon ran to Allie's room, carrying a key she made to get in, in case of emergencies. Once Zeldamon got into the room, she noticed that Alucardia had literally blocked herself into the small bunker-sized room. She sat in the corner of her bed, staring opposite of her sister. Zeldamon couldn't tell if she even saw her. Slowly, she walked up to Alucardia, and reached for her. Alucardia moaned, terrified.
"What is the matter, sister? You have been reclusive for quite some time now. I wanted to give you your space... but I don't think you have this under control, Allie."
"Don't call me that, you bastard!" Alucardia went from terrified to violent so quickly, that Zeldamon reasoned that her sister wasn't talking to her. Not sure what her sister was seeing, she whispered healing into her ear for her to sleep, and wake when she was lucid enough to manage. In the time she had, Zeldamon quickly alerted Jayxen, life, and the medic on duty to make a diagnosis, and a plan.
Making a Plan
Jayxen hadn't been sleeping well lately, kept up at night with worry for her eldest sister. Lyfe had said she just needed time to heal after the baby, having held in her trauma for so long. She needed time to grieve, and they had more than given that to her.
When Zeldamon woke her in the middle of the night, she knew why. She had felt the trouble in her sister's heart that night when she had let her into her room. The room was dark, with the curtains drawn on her lone window. She wasn't allowing anyone to see her since the nanny had taken the baby out of her room. Jayxen was heartbroken to see her sister separated from Zaiden that way, but she knew something was wrong. She got to see her niece more often now, as she ran and played with the other children the garrison had collected.
Some with parents, some not, Zeldamon and Lyfe believed that any child could have a home with them, but they would work for their home as everyone did, when old enough. A few of the children had no parents to tend to them, and they had hired a nanny. Alucardia believed the nanny had been "hired" for her daughters kidnap, but was never brave enough to go outside and see the truth. So far, all the orphans at the garrison had had no parents come for them at all, and Zeldamon's heart ached for them.
As the morning sun gathered, and Zeldamon sat in the empty mission hall, she sipped at a small drink to ease her nerves from the image she held of her sister, whom she may never truly get to know now. Not knowing when she had gone manic, she had no way of understanding the magic it would take to heal her. She wouldn't know until Alucardia woke, and she prayed, but knew it had been bottled in, possibly since the day of her capture, which seemed like ages ago as she contemplated how long ago that had actually been. She had been alone for so long, Zeldamon had a morbid sense of time due to her own prison in the cave with her mother for so long.
Jayxen came into the room first, with tears in her eyes. "What are we going to do?"
"I'm trained better now, sister. There is a medic now... it won't end the same..." as the words came out of her mouth, Zeldamon had to repeat them to herself.
"She's strong, Zeldamon... She could have been fighting this all along. It's going to be much more difficult to help her as Lyfe helped you. She will resist harder, and we have to be strong enough to take it. It's better if it's us that soothe her, but even then... she may be too far gone."
Lyfe entered the room with the medic, and they sat down to discuss how they would attack Zeldamon's sickness. If it she had fallen ill to more than one mania, there would be several rituals that would take a toll on all three sisters.
"Three is a good number, and from what you all tell me, the root of her sickness or sicknesses is rooted in family. It's possible that I may not have much to contribute except aid to the two of you. You may be the only force able to help her now."
Zeldamon got a lump in her throat. Would she, herself, be strong enough to handle this? She still feared her own memories would begin to haunt her again, and what would happen with her and Alucardia both under the spell of hallucinations? Would Alucardia need to hear how her mother died? She knew that in order to heal old wounds, you must re-open them, and their mother was a wound for them both.
Curing the Madness
The barracks were closed off as the garrison team moved Alucardia, Jayxen, and Zeldamon to stay together while Alucardia was under her sister's care. The medic, Kiyra, was scheduled to check the girls for wounds twice a day, but had little less to offer to the issue. Lyfe knew of a great shaman from the Outlands, but it could be weeks or even months before he could make it to Draenor. The garrison began to feel like a dark place to Lyfe, as he missed his wife, and worried for her. Zeldamon convinced him that she had to help if she could, despite the risks to her own health. She said it was her way to make it up to her for being gone all those years past. Lyfe argued, telling her she was arrogant to think her training as a monk was done, but she wouldn't listen, and their marriage shook under their feet for the months that came into their future.
The first night, Jayxen and Zeldamon were to warn Alucardia of what was to come, that it would get worse before it got better. "We have both been here, sister, in runs in our blood, and I believe you can overcome this." Jayxen soothed her, noticing the fear on her face.
"What happens if I can't." Allie asked, her voice so quiet it was barely audible.
"You know how this ends if it doesn't end well." Zeldamon answered. She had put armor over her own feelings, preparing herself for anything Alucardia might have locked up inside. She had to be ready to stay strong when she probed her sisters memories, and stronger yet, when they went back to fill in the pieces she needed to move on.
By dinner, the girls were determined to be a family, and they almost felt like it. The memories the girls shared with each other, and being in the barracks together reminded Alucardia of the home they shared together, before their mother showed sign of her illness. At the moment, Alucardia's thoughts did not hold a single memory of their father. Her mother's memories came as photographs, and left as quickly as they came. Memories of her sisters from childhood, however, were filled almost entirely of love for each other, though, and she could remember perfectly. "I want to stay just like this." she mused. Zeldamon looked up from her dinner, giving Jayxen a look of concern. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm still having visions, but all of them are beautiful now... filled with us as children, and the flower fields we would sneak away to play in..." Alucardia began hallucinating then, with visions as intense as before, but beautiful now instead of terrifying. Zeldamon remembered feeling strange during this stage of her recovery, but Alucardia was just as delusional before, as if she didn't even know for certain if anyone was actually talking to her.
After Lyfe came to check on them briefly before bed, Alucardia slipped quickly into sleep, barely making it to her bed without falling, but refused assistance when it was offered. Once they knew she was not going to wake, Zeldamon and Jayxen slipped outside to discuss the next day's events. Zeldamon knew that fighting her feelings was only for Alucardia, and she spoke candidly with Jayxen as the day unraveled on her.
"She seems more stubborn than I remember." Zeldamon observed.
Jayxen nodded. "Her stubborn nature was learned. She has always had trouble in her heart over the night we lost you and mother. She believes if she were strong enough at the time, she would have kept us together. I imagine that she blames herself now for how it all turned out. The baby was unexpected, we know nothing of the father..." as the words came out of her mouth, Jayxen realized they were true. She had never asked about Zaiden's father. "Jayxen was only ever interested in finding you two... I have no idea who it could be, or where he might be."
Knowing that secrets were not kept between her and Alucardia in the past, Jayxen suggested that they started looking for the memories of Zaiden's father first, and work towards their past together as sisters. There was no way of knowing what truly troubled her, and it was as good of a place as any to start their trials in the morning.
Curing the Madness: The Long Road Ahead
In the morning, the girls woke for breakfast early. Lyfe visited them again, eating with them. Alucardia was beginning to feel the wonderful feeling she had from the night before fade away. As the fear returned to her face, Zeldamon informed her that it was time to begin.
Sitting across from each other, The girls all looked around. "I will begin by asking you a question that should trigger a memory of yours. Once you begin to feel that memory, I will link souls with you so that you cannot fight it or push it back. You have to live through it, sister. I will know when you've had too much, and we will rest. If you are able, we will all meditate together as you realize why you chose to remember what you did, when you did. When you do, it will trigger other, more painful visions. Your healing will not be complete until you remember what ails you, all that ails you, and you can remember with control over your emotions. The key to keeping that control is knowing when to release these feelings and to whom. You cannot keep all of your troubles inside your heart without letting it explode. We are here for you sister... you can trust us..." Zeldamon's faltered in her speech as Alucardia closed her eyes and began focusing on her breathing.
"I can do this." Allie assured her sisters. It would be her last lucid thought in a healing process that could prove to be fatal. Alucardia could not be left out of their sight after this, as she may try to flee or harm herself in an insane attempt to dull the pain.
Zeldamon leaned forward, taking Alucardia's hands into hers. "Who is Zaiden's father?" she asked gently. Allie's eyes lit up then, at the thought of him. Jayxen shifted in her chair across from them. Her sister's eyes often glowed, in several different colors, when she felt any strong emotion. She had seen this look before, in more tender moments with Allie as a child. As Zeldamon connected her soul to Alucardia's, her eyes lit up brighter before they rolled back into her head all together.
"It's a love that could destroy her." Jayxen realized as she sat there, helplessly watching her sisters take this first real journey together.
"Do not say these words, Pyke. Love!" Alucardia scoffed at the thought of true love. "You will leave or you will die, and then what is your love worth? Nothing! I will not be destroyed by you, I cannot..."
Pyke stopped Alucardia from thinking further by grabbing her at the waist and kissing her, those piercing blue eyes rendering her unable to deny the love she already dent for him. He was the only one to ever hold her this way, and also the only person she had ever wanted to hold.
"I could never leave you..." He whispered as he lay her down onto the bed.
Alucardia and Pyke had met first at a portal location in Ashran. Sensing her rambunctious spirit, he politely requested a duel. When she declined, laughing at him, he challenged her. "Show me what you've got. It's not good to be alone too much farther from here. You look like you could use a friend."
As they lay there together now, months later, she was still a traveller, and was worried he would grow tired of her when he found out about her senseless mission.
"It could be a long time before I would consider settling down to make a home." she told him.
He shrugged, "I don't want a home." With that, the couple drifted to sleep with dreams of their adventures filling their heads.
Back at the Barracks
After twenty minutes, the memory was already too much for Allie to handle, and she began resisting to go further. Pushing her to her breaking point before disconnecting from the spell, Zeldmon took a closer look at what she had seen, taking Alucardia with her. She had the to fight for the strength to see the clue she needed to make more progress later on in the day. With one final burst of energy, Zeldamon saw it:
Alucardia: "...You will leave or you will die, and then what is your love worth?"
Pyke: "I could never leave you..."
Jayxen had moved closer to her sisters in the time that she watched them. Seeing them struggle with each other, if only for a little while, felt to her worse than being the one to struggle. Zeldamon and Alucardia fell towards each other, breaking spirits, and as soon as it had started; it was over. They had forgotten that Jayxen was in the room and they stared at each other for a minute before Zeldamon finally spoke up.
"He left you."
Allie's eyes filled with tears, "No... he couldn't..." Though she wasn't sure, she felt that maybe Zeldamon knew something she didn't yet. She sat there, trying to remember. When she saw his face, though, all she saw was the love he showed her, the adventure they shared in their short time together.
Lunchtime rolled around, and Zeldamon decided to leave her sisters alone to eat together. As it was Jayxen's turn to perform the next trial, they had much to discuss. Zeldamon needed to be with her husband, and she sought him out in the woods close to the garrison. He often took his pet spiders out there and hunted for meat to make magical food they could take with them for battles and make money providing food to other towns and cities in Draenor.
She found him surrounded by carcasses of all different animals, with a table set up for skinning and preserving the meat to bring back home. He looked up at her, and put down his knife, wiping the blood from his hands on a rag he shoved back into the pocket of his leggings.
"Dear husband," she laughed. "We'll have bear skins for years to come!"
"The winter will be here soon enough, and we need to make more room at the garrison for guests and those that will come to live there." he replied.
"What is the matter, my love? I can feel your sorrow in the forest." Zeldamon reached up to him, stroking his beard.
"I just worry for you..." he looked at her again, trying not to dismiss her in the little time they had together. "I need you..."
Zeldamon smiled, taking his hand. "Come here, away from this death. I have something to show you. As he ran after her, he growled at her playfully, pulling at her clothes. When they got to the top of the trail she had made for him, he pulled her in close and held her for a moment, marveling at the scene before them. The afternoon sun shone over the developing shipyard, and a field of lemongrass was growing around the trail she had made as a shortcut to the dock. "It was a couple months ago that I planted the grass."
He traced her body with his fingers as they kissed each other, and she startled him at first with an almost animal-like aggression. Anger and love surged through him as he tackled her, and pulled off the rest of her clothes. It was nothing they had experienced together, and the anger hung in the air as she left the woods and he continued with his work.
Joseph stood over Alucardia, his eyes glowing like blood. "You think you are better than me to raise that child? You think I have forgotten my life from before your mother covered me with the dirt I choked on? There is evil everywhere, my daughter. And your mother... was evil, and loneliness made her that way when I went to fight. It was the same fight then that it is now, but now I am on the winning side. It is a gift, that I was reborn into this." Before Alucardia could let hope enter that he was beginning to have feelings of love for her, he spat at her and raised his sword.
"If you try to flee, I will cut my heir from your womb myself when they catch you. They will catch you, not matter how safe you think you are. And once I have her safely in my arms, I will be sure to let you feel all the blood leaving your body, as I leave you to bleed while you listen to the crying of a child you will never get to hold."
Alucardia sat in the corner of her bed, numb to his words now. He had put her to bed with this thought in her head since the fetus inside her was strong enough to survive birth. The threats were getting more and more horrifying, so she distracted herself with dreams of his demise. She imagined, as he spoke, that she were doing the things to him that he described.
King Joseph left the room, and slammed the door, startling Allie out of her daydream. "Its alright, love," she soothed her kicking baby. "Someone will come for you and take you away from here. I live for you, my child, just wait for someone to look for you..." Not having anyone that knew or cared about the baby, she ignored the lies. When she talked to her, she calmed down, and Alucardia only lived for the baby now.
Alucardia's recovery had seemed to be going well at first. After a trial, the two that took the journey together would sit close together, trying to take that next step forward. Where progress was going much slower than any of them had anticipated, there was daily progress, and Zeldamon was pleased with that.
With the latest trial, however, she grew concerned. The thought that King Joseph was out there, looking for them, sent chills up her spine.These realizations had to come to Alucardia naturally, so she said nothing to her about it. Alucardia was still resisting trusting even her sisters, and conversation became awkward for Zeldamon when King Joseph's threats were involved. Alucardia finally opened up about the visions she had been remembering about their father, and Zeldamon counted her blessings when she had to just sit there and listen.
That day was a tough one, but it was the most progressive in all of June. Jayxen was relieved from the barracks while Zeldamon cared for Allie. When the soul trials were finished for the day, Zeldamon held Alucardia, stroked her hair, and tried to manage the sweat dripping from her body for hours before she got her to take some medicine. Delicately, she tried to start mild conversation, but Alucardia dove right into the terror this time. She yearned for a day when she would feel normal again, and she felt like she was so close with the bits she was remembering from the capture.
"I can remember him clearly from when i was young. He was always very loving towards us... It's like having a wonderful dream about someone, only for it to twist into that castle room." Alucardia couldn't understand why she had been unable to reach her father inside the blood elf he had transformed into. Until the last time she saw him, she looked for that love from her father. She was always waiting for him to come into her room with an apology of what he had to make her believe in order to get her out safely so she could return to where she came from. Maybe he wouldn't be warm, but he would love her enough to leave her with her choice. It never happened, though, and the fact that he was gone forever tore at her soul.
"Maybe there is magic out there to save him... Zellie, what if we can save him, and I'm stuck in here with this sickness? We need to save him!" Alucardia became hysterical, and her magic had lit all of the candles around them. Losing breath, she paced the room, talking nonsense until Zeldamon decided they were not going to make more progress with her in that state, and she sedated Alucardia with a syringe left by Lyfe in case she needed a rest, but only for an hour or two. While they both were gathering their strength, Zeldamon chose to take the opportunity to sing to her sister in hopes of soothing her spirit enough for the this to be enough to continue.
As she swayed to the sound of Zeldamon's soft tune, Alucardia closed her eyes and tried to imagine standing outside on a large mountain in the desert. Almost being able to hear the trickling of a river, Zeldamon's voice blended with her euphoric vision. As the medicine began to wear off, though, Zeldamon's voice turned hateful in Allie's awakening nightmare. She opened her eyes, and watched in horror as her sister's face morphed into that of their demonic father. She pushed him away, and got on her knees, begging Zeldamon, "Please, I know you're in there! LOOK AT ME!" Not wanting her to further confuse her, Zeldamon stood there, silent. Alucardia's eyes went black for a moment, then she blacked out all together, left with the image of King Joseph and his bloody sword, holding Zaiden in his arms. Allie started to shake and foam from the mouth.. Zeldamon made sure she was breathing, waited out the episode, and sought to find the medic.
Kiyra was the only one to tend to Alucardia until she was properly sedated into a peaceful enough state for conversation. She advised that the girls hold off on the trials until all three understood this portion of Allie's memories. She cautioned that they should move slowly, taking time out every day to take Alucardia outside to experience nature and other activities to help her deal with her feelings. Alucardia's agoraphobia clung to her, and it wasn't easy to get her to go outside. Jayxen and Zeldamon spend the next two weeks convincing her that the home they had built was safer than it ever had been. They tugged at her curiosity, telling her that she hadn't seen anything yet and describing the lemon grass field that would be thick with scent, if she could make it there.
Zeldamon's concern was growing that King Joseph was searching for them. What if the relapse Alucardia was suffering was caused by magic horde members, looking for them and getting closer?
Since the day in the woods with Lyfe, they had barely spoken to each other. With the collapse of Alucardia's condition, they had spoken even less than usual, though, and she approached him with the subject nervously. What if this paranoia was a symptom and he told her to stop with the trials? She tried easing him into the thoughts she had by telling her of Alucardia's visions.
"She's all over the place now. Some days she's crying because she can't remember what happened to the love of her life, and others she weeps for our father's lost soul. She now only remembers mother when she was healthy, before father went to fulfill his duty of the warrior." Zeldamon told Lyfe about the threats King Joseph had made towards her sister and the need he seemed to have to raise her child. "Can he still find Zaiden? Does he still share blood with us?"
Lyfe looked thoughtful on this. "I don't know..." he examined her nervous expression, and offered his hand. "I'm glad you're well enough to ask me."
Zeldamon and Lyfe arranged for Alucardia and Jayxen to move to a cabin by the river as a distraction. Zeldamon wanted to travel with Lyfe to confirm or deny her suspicions about being followed. With all of their followers out on other missions, there weren't many able to make the trip, and he agreed. Jayxen told Alucardia that she wanted them to set up the cabin as the sisters' new home, the barracks were stuffy and formal.
"We need to spend time together where we don't think about anything for a little while. Tending to our home will take your mind off of things. A reluctant Alucardia gathered her belongings and walked with Jayxen down to the cabin she had not yet made it far enough to visit. Exhausted from the walk and the fear of a different place to call home again, she fell onto the bed and slept until the morning.
Zeldamon and Lyfe began their search for horde in the world they resided. Circling the garrison, they came across scattered horde, but none were followers of Joseph. Most were just surviving on the lands in Draenor and posed no threat. Once a radius was established, they were confident that they could return home the next day without incident. If Joseph was looking for them, they hadn't made it to Draenor yet, but if he were to be gathering forces for an attack, the plans could be made already, and they could be travelling. Lyfe decided he would set up a team when they returned home to go out and spy throughout the other worlds, searching for any word about King Joseph.
As they sit in their own thoughts around the fire, Lyfe moves closer to Zeldamon to hold her.
"I wish you were not so angry with me." Zeldamon whispered.
"I am not angry, love, I worry... I worry less about you lately, and you're getting stronger. I was scared for you to take the risk, but we'll both be better for it." Lyfe guided Zeldamon to their tend and held her like he did when they met. "Do not worry yourself with my worries until I have reason to worry, and we'll be able to handle anything..." Lyfe met her face with kisses and they made love that would renew their relationship for the weeks to come.
Waking late in the next morning, they made their way slowly home, catching the sights this time, without worry of the horde and their possible plans to kidnap Zaiden. They spoke of their future freely, without fear of the present, and gathered seeds to plant when they returned home for more variety in their gardens.
As soon as they returned home, Zeldamon remembered her duties, and went to tend to her sisters. She entered the cabin to find Jayxen and Alucardia sitting on the floor, looking traumatized and broken. Zeldamon took Jayxen under the arm, and helped her off the floor and out of the cabin, where she ran past Zeldamon to empty her stomach in the bushes surrounding their new home. After some time, Jayxen slowly moved away from the bushes, staggering backwards.Lyfe gave Alucardia some medicine, and she fell asleep in her bed soon after.
Each sister had their own bedroom in the cabin they shared, and Jayxen wanted that night to sleep with Zeldamon in her room. She agreed, saying they would talk before bed. Running a fever, Jayxen was beginning to be concerned for her own sanity. "I thought I could help her, but she remembered something new today. Without a trial. It wasn't the same as her hallucinations had been, and we were having fun decorating the house. All of a sudden, her eyes went black again and after a while, she came back to me with no emotion... They were memories of her capture as Joseph was finding out about Allie and her baby..." Jayxen's stomach turned again, and she breathed out slowly before saying her next thought. "He only wanted to meet with her because the child she carried, if she was who she said she was, would be pure and impressionable. He could raise a child of Alliance blood within the horde. For whatever reason, this became his conquest. Night after night, for a month before they met, King Joseph sent in men to Zeldamon to make sure she would be with child when he came to collect her. He has our blood... We still share his blood, though his runs through evil veins now."
Zeldamon cringed with at her sister's realization, knowing what it could mean. She was horrified, and Alucardia could be destroyed by the thought that Zaiden might not belong to the the love of her life at all, but to an alliance prisoner on a mission to save his own life and willing to violate hers to do it. What Jayxen said next made Zeldamon's heart sink.
"She can't remember Pyke anymore."
If at First You Fail...
Zeldamon gave Jayxen the next day to recuperate her strength and restore her mind. Jayxen wandered aimlessly around the garrison, and she carried feelings of helplessness with her. She felt as if they had already lost the battle with Alucardia's sanity.
Meanwhile, Zeldamon and Lyfe were working to set up spy missions to the Blasted Lands where they had found Alucardia and caught glimpse of King Joseph for the first time. Kiyra sat with Alucardia while she slept fitfully beside her. She continued to feed her medicine throughout the day in an attempt to get back on track with the trials as soon as possible. With the information they recently acquired, it was imperative to make these new memories a turning point and not let them block the road of recovery for Allie. If she continued to resist and succeeded in her resistance, all hope could be lost for her.
The uniforms they had used to rescue Alucardia had been destroyed in the battle to retrieve her. First, they would need new disguises, and many more of them this time to prevent casualties. Since they had the manpower, Lyfe decided that all resources available would need to be directed towards finding and interrogating the king. He sent all their followers to the blasted lands to collect clothing from the bodies of Joseph's servants. They returned with the needed articles almost two weeks later, accompanied by several alliance prisoners with information in trade for safe shelter. Lyfe agreed to their asylum, and sent them off with a guide to show them to their quarters.
Alucardia had returned to the soul trials in this time and was again making slow progress with her sisters at the cabin. Zeldamon had been studying at night, and believed she had found a way to confuse Joseph's attempts to locate them with magic. If he had sent armies out to search, they would be misdirected for now. She was losing precious sleep, and it would soon be time to capture Joseph and bring him to Alucardia for closure. There was much to be done still, but it could be the turning point they needed in her recovery.
...Try and Try Again
Hallucinations of Joseph halted for a short time, and Alucardia began remembering Pyke. All at once, visions of him flooded in, backlash of failed trials.
"You're getting stronger every day, sister," Jayxen commented during afternoon conversation. "You would not have made it through a day like today last month. Here you are, though, finishing the day with us."
Alucardia didn't feel as though she has "made it ", but then again, she was still conscious and mostly lucid. Though she had remembered Pyke, it would take overnight before she was ready to share them. "Maybe you are right." She had to force the words out, and she felt like she was forcing herself to live with every taken breath.
Alucardia looked up at the stars, taking in the lemon scent of Zeldamon's field by the shipyard. The girls spent much of their quality time there, listening to the ocean and watching the sky. She moved over to Jayxen, putting her head in her lap. As Jayxen stroked her hair, Alucardia closed her eyes and tried to envision the waves of the ocean healing her soul.
Alucardia woke with her sisters and wrapped around her tightly, keeping her warm. Morning frost from the shoreline had set in with the fog that was gathering in the horizon. Wanting not to start the day, Alucardia stayed still between them. As the hour went by, Jayxen and Zeldamon slowly opened their eyes and began to gather their belongings to take back to the cabin.
Over breakfast, Alucardia was willing to tell the girls what they wanted to know. "I never lost his baby... and he never left me... Before I was captured, they had already taken him. I didn't even know if he survived until he showed up at my cell... He was ordered... he had to pretend he didn't know me, but..." Alucardia's voice turned cold. "They watched as every man came into my cell, made sure they... completed their mission."
The girls looked up in surprise. "Was he still there when you left?" Zeldamon gasped.
"I...uh...I didn't see him again... He said he had a chance to escape, he was coming back for me, but then they took me to the castle and I don't know what became of him." Alucardia choked on the words, and she knew there was little hope that he had survived after he was forced to violate her the last time they made love.
As there were followers returning with no news, it appeared that King Joseph was on the move with his troops.
Once she remembered that Pyke was in fact the father of her child, Alucardia's recovery quickened, and before long she was aching to see her daughter. They began having morning play time after lunch, and Zaiden's mood improved as well. They chased critters in the garrison that they collected as pets together. As the months flew by this way, Alucardia's independent spirit returned, and soon she no longer needed the day care to take care of Zaiden at all. The group stayed in daily contact, making dinner the meal they always shared together. Work was still being done to find Joseph, and as Zeldamon returned to live with her husband, Alucardia grew anxious. She still shared the cabin with Jayxen, and they talked every night as they fell asleep, sharing their fears.
"What shall we do with him if the magic cannot be converted?" Jayx often wondered. She knew her sister wanted to end his suffering, but she had to wonder if he was still the man that would suffer from the knowledge of what he had done to his family. She had agreed, for Allie, that of they had to kill him, it would be fine. Still, in the day, she searched for anyone willing to perform a ritual, so their father might return to them.
Word came through of Joseph's whereabouts finally, and the sisters prepared for the reunion with their father. "It's been so many years..." Alucardia whispered softly to herself. Zeldamon and Jayxen nodded, letting the weight of their situation sink in. With almost a hundred years gone by, none of them wanted this kind of reminder of Joseph. Slowly, their good memories were fading into the most recent encounter with the king. All Alucardia could see now was the hate he had shown her, and she became more convinced that there was no hope of recovery for him.
Jayxen clung to her wishes of rehabilitation. All three sisters had fallen to mental illness, why would it be that he could not be cured. She and Zeldamon had not gotten to know Joseph in the way that Alucardia had been blessed with, and they were beginning to resent her for the time she got to spend with their loving father. She was becoming more hostile when speaking about him, and they just hoped that she kept talking about him at all. Alucardia was still in recovery herself, but refused to pass up the opportunity to make sure he was "dealt with correctly".
Lyfe gathered up their growing troops so that the march could begin. Joseph had been spotted in The Outlands, and there was much desert to be covered. With gryphons in the sky, though, location proved to be easier than Lyfe first thought, and they returned home in tow with a very angry, indigent King Joseph. They had to kill everyone that had been with him, and he cursed their deaths on the soul of life, telling him he could smell his daughters on him.
As they interrogated, chained, and jailed King Joseph, Alucardia decided she would not rest until she found what came of the father of her child. They should be wed if he was alive, still receiving torment in a cell somewhere. She wanted to be his rescuer this time, and despite the promises, and then torture, Joseph was given, he refused that he knew anything of anyone named Pyke. She described Pyke to him over and over again, prodding Joseph with her polearm, ordering that the fallen blood be tested by a shaman. He showed no signs of even being bothered, only said over and over that his army would come and destroy everyone.
Zeldamon was concerned that her sister's obsession with finding her lover was another way of covering other feelings, and when they sat in their healing trials she tried to steer away from Pyke. It had struck her that though her mother was dead, maybe when all was finished with their father they could search for hear soul, and put it to rest.
Life with Zeldamon and her husband became less strained as Alucardia healed, which had seemed to heal Zeldamon as well instead of ailing her. Lyfe was ashamed for being weary of the journey she needed to take with her sisters to finish her own healing that he had thought was completed. Realizing that he had known his wife for little time, Lyfe made it a point to sit with her while she read books at night, discussing her fears and dreams.
Zeldamon woke some weeks into the interrogations with her face covered in tears and sweat. She had been having forgotten nightmares for a couple days now, but this one was vivid. He mother had gotten into her dreams somehow, and Zeldamon was left with cold sweat and the sound of Lyfe snoring next to her, sleeping sound. She slipped out from under the covers and went to the bath for a hot shower.
She stood there, bracing herself on the cold tile, trying to shake the dream and come back into real life, but when she closed her eyes to shield them from the water spilling out from above her, the nightmare continued. She had to force her eyes open and pray she not blink. "I hear you!" she began to scream unconsciously. "Where are you?"
As she sank to the floor of the shower, the water now cold and her screams echoing through the garrison, Lyfe ran in to find her shaking uncontrollably. He turned off the shower spigot and wrapped her up into a towel, fighting her protests. She eventually gave up fighting, and sank into his arms sobbing and defeated, letting the nightmare come to reality for Lyfe that she had just experienced a trauma, and he had no idea what it could be.
Once calmed, Zeldamon explained to life her what her nightmares had been trying to tell her. She rocked back and forth, holding herself and recoiling at anyone's touch. Lyfe had called in Jayxen and Alucardia to get her to speak lucidly, but no one had been successful in guiding Zeldamon back to bed. She insisted that she see King Joseph, but now she called him father. She seemed sane, and they agreed to let her into the dungeon while Alucardia kept watch. She had insisted, hungry for answers still.
Interrogations of the King
Zeldamon held in her hand, the studded knuckes she designed for her father as her mother began showing her the torment she felt believing he was dead and gone forever. Marladylight had tried to contact Joseph's spirit, over and over again for closure of their last night together and she could feel his presence. He never answered her cries for help though, and the torment led to her demise. The attempts at contact had been hidden to all of her children, but continued for almost a century.
Waking in a cold sweat most nights, she had spent a straight week of nights torturing her father for information from back then. Covered in lacerations from the whips, chains, studded knuckles and various other weapons had scarred most of his body. When Zeldamon entered the room he still spat at her presence; it was as if he could sense her coming. He hadn't showed signs of giving up, but late into the winter, Zeldamon broke him down.
"Do you know what it feels like?" he hissed at Zeldamon. His breath had become haggard, his lungs filling with the damp of a prison even he had come to be impressed by. He had been there for months now, and no one had came for him. He would sit in his cell, cursing at the horde and their disloyalty. "Do you know the feeling of the children you raised turning your blood to acid in their presence?" Joseph finally choked out, and Zeldamon dropped the sword she had held up to his chest,
"All I have to do is stand right here," Zeldamon moved closer. She continued to get closer, and as she watched him squirm, she could smell his sweat. Her face was right next to his when she whispered, "Then let me make it stop. Let me try to make it stop."
As Joseph's eyes teared, they filled with blood. "It will... will never stop..." he was coughing now, with blood escaping from his mouth and ears. "You'll kill me trying." Zeldamon smiled as she stroked his face, recognizing his face only once he was broken. She still hated him, but with him weakened in this way, she felt a small part of the father she barely remembered.
"I'm left with nothing now but to kill you anyways, father. Think about it, and I will prepare for the ritual involved in bringing you back home to us." Zeldamon searched his eyes for a glimmer of a hint that he wanted to come back home to them, but his eyes rolled back into his head, and he began seizing, blood now gushing from his eyes and mouth.
King Joseph: Lost Forever
Jayxen had been the one to relate to Joseph first. "The whole time we've been interrogating him, he was writhing in pain just at the presence of us," she sobbed as Alucardia rocked her gently. Zaiden was sitting there, watching her aunt cry and not knowing what to do. Eventually, she wandered out of the house to play with her toys, and Alucardia wiped the tears from Jayxen's face.
"But sister, you do not see... If we know that the ailment is, we are more likely for a cure. He will be alright, Jayxen." She wasn't sure if her words were true, but Allie continued to speak them until Jayxen's breathing returned to normal and she slept in her lap. She gently put her under some blankets and went to see Zeldamon about the wait for a shaman that was supposed to return days ago.
All the troops in the garrison has been ready to fight since they thought there might be an attack from the horde, but it seemed less and less every day that they had eluded them, and trackers of magic felt them no where near their homeland. Now, the troops sat at the ready in case anything went wrong with the experiment to be done with the horde king. Alucardia stood next to her youngest sister, and she began to sense the shaman getting closer to their cloak not soon after the room had been filled with troops, spies, medics, and magic makers.
Joseph had been cleaned up by medics and left to rest, and put into a more comfortable and more secure cell, just as he had caged Alucardia. Alucardia suffered severe anxiety while she watcher his cell being built, and relived the experience openly with Jayxen with tear-filled talks in the dark. Jayxen marveled at the surrealism in the difference of their lives now, and held Allie as she rid herself of her most horrific emotions. When the cell was finished, Alucardia cloaked herself with magic to be perceived as a horde member, and she went to visit her father.
When the shaman showed up, they explained the latest information they had gathered, and he nodded solemnly as he pinpointed his diagnosis. "There is something to be done. He has had a curse put on his soul before the death he experienced. I will cut the link he has to his life after death, but in order to bring him back to a humanoid body... I have to cut the link to all of his memories or the curse could have residual effects on his restored soul. He would possibly be able to remember in time, with no harm, but it's not guaranteed that he would remember any one of you... ever." The shaman searched through his bag, providing materials needed for the ritual he was speaking of.
Jayxen felt her head spin, steadying herself on a chair. Zeldamon reached for her arm to anchor her. "Are you going to be alright sister?" she asked.
Jayxen swallowed her fear for the sake of her sister and nodded. "I"m fine... I'm fine."
Allie and Joseph: A Memory
Joseph was so delirious that he did not recognize her behind the disguise. She did not try to cloak her identity, but only wanted to speak to him without causing pain. As she dressed his wounds, his eyes locked with hers. "You look familiar," he stated quietly.
Alucardia's eyes brimmed with sadness. "It's me, daddy. It's Allie. I'm here to save you, okay? I'll bring you back where you belong."
Joseph smiled listlessly, "You look like a woman I loved once... She did not love me."
Alucardia looked down at him, now with surprise an his eyes. "She loved you so much. She died loving you!" She had to fight down the anger rising in her throat.
Joseph looked away from her, clear tears rolling down his face. "She searched the universe to tell of hatred for me. I did not have a choice, and when I found that she was... It does not matter. If not come back for love, what for?" In a lucid moment, he examined Alucardia's face. "You look just like her..." then his eyes went blank, and he slept on his mattress of stone and animal hide.
The ritual was performed in less than a day. The shaman told everyone that needed to know what they would have to look out for when Joseph woke. It was dark magic that he had used on their father, and he warned the girls that without a member of the horde, it may not have worked properly.
Joseph woke hours after the ritual, as the group sat together for dinner, none of them touching their meal. The garrison had become some kind of a family over the year they had all been together, and when one of them was hurting, the others empathized. Alucardia wanted to be with him when he woke, and she sat across from him in his prison. She had filled her emotions with familiar panic, and she couldn't help herself but to pace the room until she heard him begin moving on his bed.
Joseph looked down, confused by his constraints. Alucardia walked over to him and began to explain, "I know, but we didn't know what to expect when you woke up... and you have been so violent that we couldn't take chances... How do you feel?" She knew better than to ask if he knew who she was, but she wondered still if she was familiar to him at all.
"I apologize," Joseph grunted, pulling at the change. "Where am I?"
"You're in a safe place. Do you know your name?" Allie asked gently.
"I... I need to be somewhere. Someone is waiting for me to return." as his face came to the realization that he knew nothing about himself, Alucardia thought to herself that he looked like a child, learning everything new for the first time.
She took his and and looked into his eyes, the blood turned to a cool, soft blue that reminded her of Jayxen's eyes. "You found us," she wept. "We're here, and we're going to get you better."
It would be years before Joseph's memory came back to him at all. Very tiny memories would slip into a dream. As he grew accustomed to his life at the garrison, he learned to know his daughters and enjoyed his life with them. He still felt, however, that he was supposed to be looking for someone. Never asking of their mother, it was as if she never existed to him. It wasn't until Zaiden's 10th birthday that Marladylight would be mentioned in passing. Until then, he had not thought about his daughters even having a mother. It was strange, whatever had happened to him, and it was rarely spoken of. The girls were living happily in their own homes scattered across their vast lands, and they had decided that since he had not had an ailment of the mind, regression would not be necessary.
As he helped his granddaughter to gather her gifts from everyone, Joseph began having dull pains to the back of his head. When he got to Alucardia's cabin, he asked her for some herbs for the headache, and he went straight home to bed.
Alone in his small home, Joseph slept in fits that night. Waking several times, drenched in sweat, he decided he needed a walk to settle his thoughts. As he walked along the river that ran through his backyard, his reality began to shift. Marladylight became a reality in front of him. The clear of the water wavered from his vision, and it was as if he were inside her soul. She said nothing, but stared down at him with the hatred she now felt.
"I knew you were waiting for me," Joseph dropped to his knees as her eyes lit up and her lips developed a wicked smirk. He gasped for breath, clawing at his own jugular. The sense that she wasn't real slipped further away as her presence solidified, and he began to tear at his own skin, manically. Unaware now of what was going on around him, night guards were forced to subdue Joseph once again, and bring him to the resting quarters, with his life barely intact and torn skin hanging from his face.
Zeldamon: One Hundred Years Later
Zeldamon sat in deep concentration at the alter, praying for peace after a long night of flashbacks and nauseating memories in her sleep. She tried to scrape the last vivid memory she had of her father. Everything had happened so fast after that. Lyfe took care of the arrangements for Zeldamon, Jayxen, and Alucardia's father to be cared for by the help and he had whisked the entire family away from the garrison. Alucardia showed them to the garrison she had kept in secret. It wasn't much, but there was enough room for everyone, and there were others setting up camp with they arrived.
Zaiden spent the entire ride to Alucardia's secret home hidden underneath her mother's seat, curled up in an attempt to show how her devastation at leaving their home. Jayxen had tried talking to the girl before their packing was done, but she had not spoken a word since her grandfather's outburst. She was angry at him for destroying their life together in Lunarfall. Though they were still in Lunarfall, the home that her mother had set up was obviously just for her, and it was a sharp reminder that Zaiden would never be her mother's first priority. It was now as if the whole family had lost their minds.
And now, one hundred years later, all Zeldamon could picture was the skin hanging from her father's face, and the months it took them to get Zaiden to speak again. She closed her eyes again, and sweat poured from her face as she concentrated on her chant. All of a sudden, the altar lit up with a blue glow and she was dragged up towards the ceiling. There in the light was Zeldamon's father, catatonic, still, and healed. In the light he was pacified and could almost be thought to look loving towards the girl that fed him. She wiped his face free of food and a tear that he shed, though Zeldamon no longer recognized the face that belonged to the soul of her niece.
Once she reached the climax of her peaceful state, the light spat her back out and she crumpled to the floor in pain from the entire experience. She saw the girl standing over her, where the light had been, pointing at her. Zaiden's once peaceful face now turned to scorn and Zeldamon backed out of her mediation spot and ran as fast as she could.
Jayxen: One Hundred Years Later
Jayxen lay naked next to an unknown man in an unknown location. She felt as if maybe she had been poisoned. She sat up and wrapped up in the blanket she lay on top of. As she stood to get out of bed, bottled tumbled at her feet and the room filled with the smell of port. The smell went straight to her stomach and as she ran out of the cabin, she slipped on the spilled alcohol.
"Great, add bruises and cuts to my confusion." Jayxen muttered. The man in the bed rolled over, mistaking a pile of blankets for the warm body that was laying next to him a minute ago. She glance at him, smiling to herself on the floor, picking herself up and limping outside.
Jayxen had entered a state of denial that no one had been healthy enough to detect. She had slipped away from the home Alucardia made for herself first, and never had a second thought about it. She spent her days, and nights, drinking with friends she made as she traveled.
Family life after Joseph's relapse was difficult for everyone. Lyfe worried that his wife would never recover, and he had probably been right. Jayxen used the fact that everyone was upset as an opportunity to recluse herself until they hardly noticed she was gone at all. With no good-bye's, Jayxen zigzagged each town of every territory, looking to be forgotten.
Alucardia: One Hundred Years Later
Alucardia had stayed at her garrison. This was not to stay with her grieving daughter, as she had let go of all reins to Zaiden's upbringing just months after they set up their homes. Instead, she used it as a place to crash after she spent weeks searching for her sister that had run away and her mother that had never been heard from. By 15 years old, Alucardia decided that it was time for Zaiden to live in a home all her own and start her life here until she was ready to venture out on her own.
After all the time that had passed, Alucardia was especially surprised by Zaiden's urgent contact. Allie knew that she had failed her daughter now. It had been many decades since they had seen each other. Alucardia had stayed at her garrison, but Zaiden left in the same fashion as Jayxen had. In the middle of the night, she took off by horse and set her course for her grandfather's home, which had been tended by followers of Zeldamon. No members of the family had been there in years, and she began reading the history concerning her own family.
"I wish for you to meet with me, mother. I believe I have found the key to your happiness after all these years, and wish to share my progress. I never got to know my family, and I just want us all to be whole again." Zaiden's letter read. Alucarida had read it over and over again, searching for a hint of hatred from her daughter. She found none.
The night before she left for her old home, Alucardia spent her time killing instead of sleeping. In an attempt to toughen herself up, she went to the city of Ashran to buy some new boots and chest protection. In the carriage she took to see her daughter, Alucardia could feel her sisters get closer. Her thoughts twisted in sick realization that Zaiden had written all of them. Events would certainly turn for the worst, and she had not prepared herself to see Jayxen again.
Zaiden had planned for dinner at sundown. By then, her mother and her mother's sisters should all be with her if there were going to be for the last incantations performed on her grandfather Joseph. It had taken her many years, but he was not speaking to her through spiritual lines of communication, and the healing process had been going well. She was sure that he had no idea who she was, but it didn't matter to her because he would soon take the test of seeing his daughters again.
The sisters showed up together, having met each other on the main road leading to the large garrison Zaiden had kept up while they were gone. The number of residents had doubled since Alucardia, Jayxen, and Zeldamon had last seen Zaiden. A large panda greeted the trio, and ushered each of them to their sleeping quarters. Alucardia asked the stranger where here daughter was, but she was ignored and instead sat down in front of a table full of food.
"My name is Zelpan. Let me know if there is anything that I can help you with before your meeting." Alucarida raised her eyes at this statement, and Jayxen shot her a look that warned her against saying what was on her mind. Zelpan then took Jayxen by the arm and showed her where she would be spending her nights.
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