Misbegotten from Vyrael's blog

Light entered his suite displaying an unwavering confidence reserved for those with overriding purpose or lacking tact. He knew it to be the former.

She settled in the seat beside his, a soft, golden glow burning against his eyes, as curtains parted. Lengths of colorful silk spilled over one shoulder to wrap her body in brilliant swathes of crimson and violet embroidered with golden thread, and it was as though the sun were rising. Neither spoke or gestured, granting their attention to an aged dwarf taking center stage. They watched in companionable silence as the play unfolded into its third act, a tragedy in three parts. A lull in the drama below opened a window of opportunity.

“I did not know you had a taste for theatre.”

He lifted a hand from his armrest to point at the presentation. “It’s a fascinating story. A dwarf takes a human child as his own, becoming the parent to a girl with none, watching her laugh and love until nature takes its course. She grows old and he remains unchanged, a father doomed to bury his daughter.”

“Your morbid fascinations have not changed, I see.”

“Life is bittersweet, Talorii, you know that. This is simply another flavor.”

“More bitter than sweet,” she whispered.

“It depends on what you value more, the time together or its inevitable end.”

Her gentle light captured his eyes at last, and he turned his head to study the changes separation concealed. Age certainly had not touched Talorii, but time showed its hand in the golden glow of her eyes and pale complexion.

“Did it hurt?”

The question drew her eyes to his, a warm gaze. Uncomfortably warm. He suppressed a shudder.

“No more than I deserved,” she answered.

He remained still as she searched for changes of his own.

“Your health has improved, Vyrael.”

He didn’t bother to hide his smile as he spoke. “Shocking, I know.”

The controlled press of her lips did not escape him, or the sullen set of her shoulders as she sank into her seat. They sat through a tearful dirge before he broke the silence hanging over them.

“I thought you set aside your blade.”

She let the question linger. “I did.”

“And yet you’ve joined their crusade.”

“Devotion to the Light is not measured in blood.”

“Their zealotry suggests otherwise.”

“It is a natural consequence of endless warfare. Peace has never existed outside of their minds, but here, on this planet, they might know a world without war.”

Vyrael gave a harsh laugh, a spiteful sound that filled the suite. “I am sure they will find Azeroth to be a change of pace, nothing more.”

The corners of her mouth dipped into a frown. Talorii reclined gracefully, hands folded together as she rested her head on the back of a seat too small for their species. Her gentle glow still issued a challenge to the dark even as she closed her eyes. Lines he hadn’t seen before etched themselves into her skin, shallow cuts beneath her eyes and around her mouth.

She was beautiful, had always been, would always be. Not even age could deprive her of that.

“The world is a reflection of our choices, Vyrael. We can change it for the better.”

He heard the accusation clearly though it was unspoken.

“My choices are not yours to dictate.” The pair of tentacles hanging from his chin squirmed, like snakes roughly prodded with a stick. “No sermon will ever change that. No plea or bribe or heavy hand. Leave me to my work as I have left you to yours.”

She opened her eyes to look at him again. Under their light, Vyrael felt a sudden twinge of fear. They did something to her, they changed Talorii, scooped out her doubts and fears, filling the void with something blindingly, beautifully awful.

From her dress she pulled a square of paper carefully folded in even sections by her hands. She passed it to him, and Vyrael opened it slowly. In the dim light he recognized a concise report detailing the loss of a caravan; fifteen dead, six missing, nothing to salvage, no one to save. It was a simple copy without source or recipient, merely facts scrawled in a brief list. Her eyes were still focused on him when he passed it back.

“Vyrael. . . This cannot go on. Years of cruelty and violence have only beget more of the same. It drags us deeper into suffering.”

He took a sudden dislike of her presence, feeling the eddies of a familiar confrontation building around him.

“A year or an eternity, what does it matter? Nothing of value is lost. No one mourns the death of a monster. Why should you?”

“Because they are not monsters.”

It was a lie and she knew it. The past provided enough testimony to prove orcs began as savages and remained savages. Time did not change their barbarism, but sharpened its cutting edge. No amount of honor or heroism absolved them of sins that stained their very skin for all to see.

Vyrael shook his head. “How bitter are those words on your tongue?”

“They live and die-”

“In a number of ways.”

“-as any do. Generations come and go; what right do we have to pass judgement on those who have yet to commit a crime?”

“Because we know it is inevitable.” His words chased an apathetic sigh.

“Through inaction, we grant that inevitability.”

“The very idea tolerating them is an insult.”

“And what you do is not?”

The suite felt unsuitably small as she stared at him, the play below a world away, isolating them in a bubble threatening to pop. Fighting the trembling of his hands, he pulled himself straighter and turned wholly to face her.

“I satisfy a debt long overdue. I take what is owed to the dead, to victims of unspeakable crimes. You have no authority to condemn me, not when your hands worked alongside mine.”

An echo of remorse touched her face, a shadow that twisted beneath the light, but there was no doubt that took root in its passing, and the realization frightened Vyrael.

“I recognized my mistake in forcing a punishment on those that did not deserve it.”

“They deserve every punishment!” Vyrael hissed.

"We placed a responsibility on children that never knew Draenor or its horrors,” she continued, her golden eyes swallowing his. “We held them accountable for the sins of their fathers to justify our hatred.”

“Is our hatred not justified?”

“Not anymore,” she answered with a solemn whisper.

Calmly, Vyrael pulled himself up, adjusted his robe, and left the suite. Damn the play, he already knew how it ended.

He passed two doors before she caught up with him in the curving hall, her dress swishing like leaves in a hurricane. Talorii snatched his arm, and when he tried to pull away was reminded of her vocation as a Vindicator. He stood there beneath her gaze, half a mind calling him to slip free in a flash of magic, the other pinned by the horrid glow of her eyes.

“Leave me be! You knew this meeting would have no other outcome! What could you ask of me that has not already been denied?!”

“How much blood will you take?” she shot back. “What number of lives will satisfy your anger? All of them, yes? You would end an entire species!”

“Just as they tried to do to us!”

As his shout faded in the stuffy hall, she released him. Distantly, he heard a pair of feet shuffle away and a door close. Silence wrapped itself around them, smothering his senses. Talorii looked at him with an expression that twitched and shifted like the sun on water. He looked back, anger and contempt masking his fear. The truth lay unspoken between them.

Balancing himself against the unsteady tilt of the floor, Vyrael turned and stiffly marched away. He left Talorii, the theatre, and that awful truth behind.

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By Vyrael
Added Jun 4 '18



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