Wednesday, 14 July 2010

De-contamination.

I can turn full circle and see only grass and trees, the occasional lake reflects the sky back at itself blue on blue, calm reflected in calm. The air is fresh here, no city scents, no salt tang. It's so quiet - occasionally noise carries from Garadar, brief snatches, nothing more. I have flown occasionally there to restock necessary provisions but I have had little contact with anyone for weeks now. I have stayed on this floating island, alone save for the comforting presence of Lenore, my wind rider. She has given me wings when I need them, company when I've craved it, the warmth of her fur during cooler nights.

Finally, I have healed. The pure magics I have wrought have faded all marks, save the two in the palms of my hands, but they are now blemishes, nothing worse. Finally, finally the fel has left my system. My head is clear, although my sleep is still interrupted often. I wake bathed in sweat with my heart pounding, but then I breathe deeply, taste the freshness of the air and remember that I am here now. Not there. To confirm this, I reach out my arm until I feel the warmth of Lenore's fur, then I drift into sleep again. My island is my sanctuary, my salvation. Yet I know I must brave the world again soon. I cannot stay here forever. And the longer I stay, the more I will want remain here, adrift from everything. Floating.

I will not return to the City for sometime. I would pause before walking round every corner, I would wince as footsteps fell into a pattern behind me, flinch everytime someone brushed past me and I could not bear to try and live like that. I will return to the frozen wastes of the North; my funds are lessening gradually and I should begin to address this. The North is a vast expanse, surely I can leave my demons behind me?

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Escapism.

Wincing, I stumble through the forest, caring not that the branches scrape my face and neck; what are a few more cuts after all? My muscles protest with every step I manage. My heart beats fast, but terror makes me sluggish, rather than adding wings to my feet. I press further into the gloom, my sense of direction lost, I head for the darkness, where the trees grow so tall and so close together that the light that filters through the canopy is pale, a watered down version of true sunlight. Occasionally I hear hoofbeats and I cringe into the trunk of the nearest tree, flattening myself into the bark, every breath I take seems so loud, echoing through the forest - I may as well suspend a flashing arrow over my head! I wait, shaking, and they fade away again. True to his word, he had had some Forsaken guards, whether he had paid them (and what in) I had not managed to ascertain. Certainly, they were unbribable in my experience. And Fates knows, I had tried.

I slump to the base of the trunk, the coarse grass scratching my legs further. My ribs ache, as do my shoulders and my back. I have managed to mend much of the damage but the bruises will take time to fade and heal. I need to try and regain my sense of self. I do not know how much time has passed. My thoughts still refuse to flow in a coherent manner. My brain is still clouded with the residues of... I shudder. I cannot think about what has passed. I cannot sit here and cry. I must get up and continue. He will be furious. If he, or the guards, should find me... I shake my head, wincing at the pain that shoots through my neck. Placing my hands palm down on the ground I push upwards. My legs support me and I exhale gratefully. My palms burn and I turn my hands over again. No matter what words I breathe over my palms the burns re-appear. I have a similar wounds on my wrists, but thankfully, Fates be praised, no where else. There will be time later to dwell on this.

I start to walk again, hoping that I am not circling through the forest - if there are any landmarks I am not sufficiently aware of my surroundings to remember them. If I can just walk in one direction, surely I will eventually end up somewhere? By the sea, on a road, somewhere. As long as I don't end up back there. But I have seen no flashes of green light, so I assume that he has yet to loose his Eye after me. When (if) the guards return without me this will surely be his next step? I must be somewhere safer before then, but I'm not sure how much longer I can walk for. My throat is parched, I would do almost anything for a drink that I knew to be only water. My head throbs and I feel edgy and off balance. I try to breathe slowly and deeply, I know this is... withdrawal. I can cope. I will cope. The most difficult part is passed. As I stumble on, I am sent sprawling, my foot catches in the middle of a rotting log and I land on the ground, my breath is knocked out of me and I bite my lip hard until I draw blood to stop myself shrieking with pain. My carefully mended ribs throb warningly as I shift position. I need to be able to focus enough to mend them again, I know, but when I feel this nauseated, I'm not sure I can.

With what feels like my last ounce of energy I stand and take a few shaking steps forward. I push on and Fates be praised, there is a track in front of me. I listen, but I cannot hear hoof beats. Finding some inner reserve of strength I walk unsteadily along the track and it eventually widens out onto something akin to a road. A signpost looms ahead of me, crudely etched words but gladdening to my heart. 'The Sepulcher'.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Tamed?

I awake, slowly drifting back into consciousness. I yawn sleepily and stretch, the dull ache in my muscles and the memory of what caused it making my eyes fly open. The room is dim - heavy drapes stops the light intruding. I have no idea of the time - have I slept for minutes or hours? I turn my head, my neck muscles protesting at the movement, and look at the sleeping form next to me. The poet. I still do not know his name, nor do I need to.

Slowly I edge off the bed, my feet land on the floor and I wriggle my toes into the thick carpet under them. His quarters are certainly luxurious; the thick drapes and carpet, the comfortable bed... I wait for the blush to rise, for some feeling of shame to appear but nothing happens. I pad to the looking glass on the wall and stare into it. My reflection stares back at me. I squint in the gloom, looking for reminders of the night on my flesh, but it is unmarked, my neck and shoulders pale and unblemished. My gaze brushes the man in the bed. Should I wake him? Is there anything to say? He has freed you, you cannot just... vanish. I gather my robe from the floor and slip it over my head, lacing the ribbon loosely behind me once more. He stirs in his sleep and I freeze. Do not wake up, please! He sighs gently, and then becomes still again. I need to go, now. Reaching for my bag I scrabble around, my fingers land on the folded parchment, still bearing his unbroken seal. Finding a quill I write a brief note next to the seal and place it on the table under the window, more cliches, but what else can I write? I turn to walk away, but something pricks my conscience. Returning to the table I add a few more words and some coins. I glance at him once more and walk to the door soundlessly.

I leave the room, walking down the corridors and eventually out into the streets once more. I care not that it is later than I first imagined, that I am returning to my quarters in a robe suited to evening wear, I ignore the nudges and the glances as I drift passed, hair mussed and unbrushed, let them think what they want, for last night and today I have tasted freedom.


"Poet,

I did not want to wake you, yet I could not stay until you awoke.
The she-cat has been stilled, and for this I thank you.
Please, let last night remain unsullied in my memory.

Your Kitten"

"PS. Please ask your servant to accept these coins, with my humblest
apologies for the manner in which I spoke to him last night."

Monday, 21 June 2010

Fear not for the future, weep not for the past (2)

As I finish my third glass of wine, the bartender reaches for my glass. I place my hand over the top and shake my head. He looks at me questioningly. "No more tonight," I smile gently, "I feel it would not be wise to indulge too much when I know not who is providing the liquor, nor what they will expect in return." He nods understandingly at me.

I gather my thoughts and try to stop the butterflies fluttering in my stomach. Tonight will be different, tonight I will not be passive, tonight I will embrace my bloodlines. Tonight I will be the passionate Sin'Dorei I know I can be. No more longing for what I cannot have, no more tears, rejection, heartache. Tonight I will be appreciated for what I am, not brushed aside for what I am not. Tonight I will have no need to waste coins in fountains.

I walk through the Inn to the door, expecting at any moment to feel a hand on my arm, to hear a voice whisper in my ear, to receive some indication as to the identity of my 'benefactor' of the evening, but nothing is forthcoming. I walk slower and slower, my eyes scan the room, but are not met. As I walk through the door I hear footsteps behind me and I relax.

"Excuse me, Miss?"
the voice is not one I recognise and I turn expectantly. The young man standing before me carries a folded piece of parchment, which he hands to me. As I meet his eyes, he looks at his feet. "From my Master, with his compliments, Miss," he stammers, "He bids me to ask if you have had a pleasant evening and if both the wine and the service were acceptable?" I look at the messenger standing before me, the tension radiating out from his body, his Colours familiar but unplaceable.

"Your Master, he feels it appropriate to send a go-between?" I realise I am being unfair, but compassion to servants is not something I was raised to show. "Maybe he feels it is a jest to send a boy to do a man's job...?" The youth shuffles uncomfortably, his eyes remain on the floor. I sigh. "Return then, to him. Carry my thanks for his generosity and my... disappointment that my evening, which begun so promisingly, has ended with me speaking to a servant."

His head whips up at my words, colour flooding into his face. "Miss, I am not sure that you understand, you have not even broken the seal on the parchment..." He gestures at the paper I hold, "Please Miss, at least open it. Do not ask me to go back to him unable to answer when he inquires as to whether you are pleased... Have some compassion, Miss."

"Compassion?"
I straighten my back, raise my chin and glare at him, "You expect me to show compassion to whom? Your Master, who feels himself too good to buy wine and converse with his kin? Who sends first the barman and then a servant to convey his wants? Or yourself, maybe? A lowly servant; you feel I should show you compassion perhaps? And this missive," I dangle the parchment dismissively at the end of my fingertips, as if I could drop it to the street any moment, "Such treasures within no doubt? Such words that all rudeness, all impropriety will be forgotten? Such poetry, no doubt, that I will swoon in admiration and bid you to convey my adoration to the man you 'serve'?" I know that I am being unfair, that the anger licking through my body should not be aimed at this poor servant standing in front of me, merely carrying out his duties, but I no longer care. At last I have an outlet for my frustration, my fury at men, at their ability to toy with women, their emotional games, their lack of empathy for the rejection and pain they cause. That's better. You are Sin'Dorei, remember your upbringing, remember the class your family hold, do not feel guilty about treating mere servants in this manner. The servant seems to slump before me, his shoulders drooping, his head handing dejectedly. His entire body screams defeat. I feel momentarily guilty, but I brush the feeling aside. The anger is better, an emotion I can understand. I sweep my hair over my shoulders and turn away. "I care not what excuse you make to him, boy. Just ensure that you tell him -"

"Tell him what?"
The servant spins round and drops to one knee in front of the man who has appeared behind him. "Well? For such a demure looking kitten, you appear to have little hesitation in showing your claws."

The voice, the white blond hair, the partially covered face... "The poet." I try to make my voice scathing, hoping it will cover my confusion, and distract from the blush that is staining my cheeks. "It appears I should have read this missive then. Doubtless, had I done so, I would have prostrated myself at your feet in adoration!"

He gestures to the servant still kneeling before him and ignores my sarcasm, "You feel that you have treated my servant appropriately I assume? That your ill-temper was warranted? That behaving like a she-cat to those unable to defend themselves is becoming?" He rests his hand briefly on the shoulder of the young man still kneeling before him. "Go now. I will have no further need of your assistance tonight. I'm sure that the 'lady' here will have recovered herself sufficiently to convey her apologies in person to you in the morning." He turns to me as the servant hurries away, "And I can assure you, milady, that it is not my feet which you will prostrate yourself at tonight."

My breath catches in my throat at his tone, at the meaning which he conveys through his words. His presumption almost takes my breath away. This... yes, this is what you need, what you understand. I close my eyes briefly, trying to ignore my thoughts and the images that the combination of his words conjures. "How dare you...?"

"How dare I? Oh kitten, you disappoint me! I thought you would be more inventive, more impulsive. Yet you rely on over-used cliches...? Hardly the she-cat of a moment ago!"
His eyes flick over me, unashamed and the hollows I remember so well appear on his cheeks again.

I turn sharply, my palm itching with the desire to leave its imprint upon his cheek, but I will not lower myself, will not stoop so low. Twin emotions burn inside me, white-hot fury at his attitude coupled with the memory of our last meeting and the fire he lit within me. "Do not be concerned poet," venom drips from my lips, "I have no desire to 'slum it' tonight!" I walk up the gentle slope of Murder Row as fast as I can, without looking like I am running away. My heart beating fast, my hands trembling; part of me is desperate for him to follow, the other part, the sensible part, knows that any assignation that starts like this will only end in trouble.

I walk past the lamppost where I first saw him, and round the corner towards the fountain. With every step I expect to feel him behind me, but I do not. As I turn the corner and disappear from his sight, I lean against the wall and catch my breath, willing my heart to settle. I shut my eyes briefly, trying to rein in my thoughts. As my breathing and my heart slows I open them again. The shadows appear calm, I turn and continue walking. Another night wasted, foolish Sin'Dorei. When will you start to behave in a manner befitting your kin...

I sense motion behind me, as begin to turn I feel my hair being gathered up. He yanks me round to face him. As I raise my hand he catches my arm, his grip like steel. "Ah, the she-cat returns, but still tries to take refuge in cliches. I cannot decide which I desire more, the demure kitten or the scratching she-cat. Tonight I intend to find out." His hand leaves my hair momentarily and rips the cloth covering his face down, before returning to the back of my head, his fingers tangling in my hair, as his mouth twists cruelly, I catch my breath. I try to form some sound of denial, some refusal, but all that escapes is a sigh. His mouth descends onto mine and my body cleaves towards him. I relax into his embrace, all thoughts of resistance forgotten. Cliches they may be, Sin'Dorei, but the reason they are cliches is the inherent truth therein...

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Fear not for the future, weep not for the past.

Another day draws to a close, another day where I have accomplished little, save replenishing some of my funds. Much as I despise the concept of 'manual labour' I have always found the repetition of herb gathering soothing; the bending, the hand sickle wickedly sharp, glinting in the sun as it slices through stems and shoots, the gathering, bunching, tying with twine. The scent of the freshly cut stems, leaves and flowers fills my nose, calming and soothing me. I avoid the worst of the mid-day heat by seeking shade in nearby marble ruins; even in the sun's glare the stone remains cool and smooth. The proud dragonkin patrolling do not venture close enough to pose a threat so I relax and allow myself to slumber through the worst of the heat. When I awake I return to the City - fortunately the heat is discouraging many people from travelling and working so I am able to sell my wares for a little above the amount I would normally expect to receive.

I feel strangely refreshed, revitalised even, by my days labours. There is a certain stiffness in some muscles - a reminder that I have not been harvesting as much as I perhaps should be, but aside from this minor irritation, I feel better, calmer, less tense. My thoughts seem more controlled, more containable now. Retiring to my quarters in the Inn, I sit on the edge of my bed and try to decide what to do this evening. Although I am somewhat tired I suspect that sleep will be a stranger, should I retire this early. For the first time in quite some while, I do not have a burning desire to escape the City. I am frustrating myself now. This should be my home. The Sin'Dorei are my kin. This is where my past, my present and my future should lie - not in the barren, red sands of another continent. All I need to do now is find an... alternative to him. I walk over to the polished glass on the wall - as I look at my reflection I can see traces of the girl on the beach, but mainly I see myself. I have come nearly full circle it seems - I can almost recognise the woman staring back at me again. Picking up a brush I take the pins from my hair, letting it cascade down my back. It has been sometime since I unpinned my hair and left it down, but it might be appropriate tonight... I bathe quickly, washing off the earth that clings to my skin and patting myself dry. It is warm enough at nights that the lightest robe is sufficient and I peruse my clothes thoughtfully. To really move on, to finally rediscover myself I need to take one last step. Do I want to? Is this the right way to handle this? Do you want to stay in a fantasy forever, mourning what you cannot have 'pallid elf', or do you want to move forward?

Shaking my head, to banish my doubts, I reach for a pure white robe. I lace the ribbons loosely through the eyelets at the back and slip it on. The fabric whispers over my skin and I reach behind my back the tighten the ribbons, sucking my breath in. As I tie the ribbons at the small of my back I turn to the mirror. Now I can recognise myself. The robe, whilst the colour of virtue, could not be said to be virtuous; whilst modestly cut and high-necked, it clings to me, the lacing at the back the only fastening the robe has. My hair, a curtain falling loosely around my shoulders highlights the contrast further, glinting red in the light. Such a contrast in messages is exactly what I need tonight. I rub rouge gently into my cheeks and lips and remove my jewellery - it would not be wise, I suspect, to carry much of value tonight...

I make my way down the stairs, into the bar. The rooms are beginning to fill up, my kin, it seems, are all feeling the thirst in this hot weather. Smiling at the barman I obtain a large glass of chilled wine and take a seat at the bar, my back turned to the room, and let the conversations wash over me. The wine is delicious, so chilled that condensation beads on the glass, and I sip it slowly, savouring each mouthful. Many of the faces here I recognise, the games being played out are familiar ones. Conversations ebb and flow, occasionally heated words are spoken, hands fly to daggers, but the flirtations carry on regardless. As I empty my glass I gesture to the barman, who refils it with a smile and waves away my outstretched coins, "All been taken care of, Miss." I raise my eyebrow enquiringly at him, and he smiles back, "Now, Miss, you know that I can't say. Part of why I'm so good at my job, Miss, is knowing when to talk and when not to. And the... gentleman concerned was most emphatic that, on this occasion, I was to keep your glass filled and my mouth closed."

I turn my head briefly, although I have been sitting here alone and have brushed off a few desultory attempts at conversation, I have not seen anyone take enough interest to ask the barman to keep my glass filled. How have I missed this? "Can you not even give me a small hint?" I smile charmingly at him, "How long ago was he at the bar?"

He shakes his head, smiling further, "Miss I don't stand behind the bar all night, you know! Our more... valued customers expect the staff to come to their table." He lowers his voice and bends close to my ear, "He hasn't been to the bar all night." Moving back again he shakes his head, "Now please, Miss. Don't ask me anything further. I'm sure he will make himself known as and when he chooses to."

I smile at him and nod briefly. There is little point, after all in pressing any further - barmen in the City have to be close-mouth, indiscretion after all, can lead to unpleasant consequences in the early hours of the morning, when the streets are deserted, and very few people think idle gossip is worth the risk of walking round a corner and feeling sharp steel digging into your back... Do not over-indulge when you know not who is paying and what they will expect...

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Take this longing.

I stand at the shoreline, letting the waves lap around my feet. The abraded skin on the soles of my feet smarts, but the salt will help it heal, and the sting momentarily distracts me from my thoughts. The sun is setting, its final rays painting both the water and the sky in shades of ruby and gold; the colours of my kin, my City, my sanctuary, my salvation. But are they still? The City no longer feels like either my sanctuary or my salvation. I have tried to meld in, to return to how I once was. I can still wear my mask of disinterest but it no longer fits me, it chafes, and no longer resembles the soothing disguise it once was. I desperately want this to not be the case; I want to return to the ‘me’ of a month ago. When I was in control, when I felt assured, certain of my path. Why did I ever invite the Fates in? What madness led me to here? To that beach that night? Now the City no longer enthrals me, where else can I go? Now I can see the castle in the air for what it is, foundation- less, I am un-tethered, unbound. My strings cut, I float away…

Most of my kin now seem vain and vapid, their plotting and scheming a minor irritant rather than an intrigue. The perfection of the Sin’Dorei, once so intoxicating and alluring, now seems bland. Any flaws are hidden, masked; the only acceptable face to show is one of studied indifference. Only after night has fallen, do a few of my kin show their real selves. The air in the inns become thick with a different kind of tension, with expectancy, eyes scan the room, roaming, pausing on occasion. Even the streets carry the scent of mystery. Liaisons that would not be considered in the light of day are arranged but names not always shared. I have tried; Fates only know how I have tried to let illicit liaisons distract me. The pretty words, the telling gestures, the anticipation... and then the nothingness. The realisation that I am an empty vessel. The apathy that overcomes me, the hissed insults, as my would-be seducer realises all his efforts have come to nought (and he will have to return again to the shaded corners and the inns) flow over my skin without leaving a trace. The loss of face he will have to endure often provokes sulking but I again, am indifferent. I try to convince myself that the flames can be re-ignited, that all it would take is one spark, but I feel cold. No-one seems able to warm me. There becomes a point where I no longer have the energy or the inclination to mouth the breathy sighs that are the accepted method of communication. Passivity is not desirable, it seems. Loss of temper, on more than one occasion, has no effect either. If they think they will shake me out of my disinterest by violence they are wrong. It has entirely the opposite effect. Hands round my throat only enhance my ragdoll limpidity. I cannot summon any reaction at all, no excitement, no fear, just emptiness. Deep down, at my very core, I know this is foolish; that one day I will be unwise, unlucky or both. The wrong choice of partner, or one whose ardour is too strong, then becoming limp and passive will not be the solution, rather it will enflame the situation further, but I cannot summon the energy to care.

I yearn for something else. Something in the darkness that I reached out and touched briefly, before I ran. Should I have been braver? Tried harder? Should I have removed my mask completely? Would the outcome have been any different or would I still be here now, on this beach, in this place, having tasted even more of the exotic jungle? I do not know, I am uncertain as to whether I ever will now. I walk the beaches of Durotar on evenings when even the pitiful remnants of my self-esteem have deserted me. The times when my desperation is so strong it is almost palpable. Those evenings, I catch the zeppelin, swallowing down on my nausea and my terror (“I saw one dem crash’d in da Nort’lan’”); with no-one with me to say when it is safe to look I keep my eyes open defiantly, and tell myself that the tears streaming down my face are due to the speed of the wind. Through the Durotar desert I ride, I have not yet stooped so low that I will go searching in Orgrimmar (though on occasion I have considered it) towards Razor Hill, and onwards, turning eventually onto the path that takes me to Sen’Jin and the sea. I avoid the village completely, though I stay within range of the sound of the drums, and I walk the beach for hours.

My longing is even more intense here; he’s so close but yet so distant. I have even considered asking after him in the village – but have thus far managed to control myself. Imagine, a Sin’Dorei, reduced to asking after a troll in the village of his kin... And what would I say after all? I never knew his name. Never asked. He never knew mine; he never needed to – “darlin’” was sufficient for his needs after all. If only I could hate him, genuinely hate him, not this pathetic excuse for an emotion that I try to manufacture, this ‘outrage’ that he felt he could behave to me in the manner he did, making me dance for him, asking me to say things that should never be said, should never need to be said aloud, especially not by me. But even through this I yearn for him. Every time I catch a glimpse of pale hair my heart stutters, but it is never him. Plenty of others walk the beach, stopping to fish, to stare out at the Islands but they are never him. Some ignore me entirely (I assume I appear almost invisible at times, either that or they would rather not see me, so far from my home) others eye me curiously, still others try to… try to reach me, but it’s never him. Only once do I think I saw him. I’d walked closer to Sen’Jin than was strictly advisable and I’m sure I caught sight of those shoulders, the paler than usual skin, the careless braids, swept back. I nearly ran to him, Fates, I wanted to so much but I didn’t. For what would I have said? “My heart now beats only for you?” I’m sure that would have given him reason to pause, but then he would have continued on his way.

I do not doubt that he... that he wanted me. Very few people can lie effectively with their eyes and when I looked at him I saw my desire reflected back at me in his eyes. I saw the beast, the raptor that lurks within him. I tasted the jungle on his breath. But for him it was a momentary desire, a whim. When he brushed off my queries about seeing him again, this was apparent. I would have been a fun night on the beach for him, something exotic, a bit of "elfie" flesh, but nothing more. He doesn't know the effect he has had on me, how he has changed my heart and my world. Why should he?

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The gilded cage.

My beloved retreat has become my prison. The City suffocates me now. Thick with dust and heat, the air itself seems to drip intrigue; the gossip and the plots, all part of my life thus far, now too much to bear. Ever corner has a knot of Sin'Dorei plotting, scheming, dreaming of grandeur and liaisons, the polite smiles, the ironic raise of an eyebrow concealing the daggers hidden under soft robes, shining armour, body hugging leather. Words, the sharpest daggers of all, drip from glossy lips; cutting epithets, flirtation and flattery, poetry and spells. Everyone trapped, confined in elegant cages, wrought by master craftsmen and polished by enchanters.

No matter how much I walk, this restlessness stays with me. I walk until my soles blister, even the marble is no longer soothing and cool as I pad quietly up and down the streets. When it momentarily becomes too much to bear I perch on the edges of the fountain and let my feet dangle into the water. I refuse to look into the pools, knowing I will see the glint of the coins, so many futile wishes wasted, lives on hold, waiting for Fates that are fickle and malicious. Even cool water only provides temporary relief though and I can't sit by the fountains all day.

Much as I despise myself for doing so, I flee to the Coast often. However many times I escape through the Woods, past the Spire, down over the rocks to the shore, it doesn't help. The golden tinged trees are not what I want to lean against, their smooth bark no match for the roughness my skin cries out for. The air is crisp and clean but carries no hint of salt. There is no noise, even the waves break noiselessly against the shore. Silence is not what my heart desires, I yearn for the sound of the distant drums. There are no Islands to rest my gaze upon. No jungle, with all the hidden dangers therein...