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September 9, 2013 – 10:05 am
It was an uneasy goodbye for him, but it was agreed by both he and Aely that a stroll back to Hearthglen would not be very easy to explain, nor would the explanation needed for the three Argent soldiers once they regained consciousness. Aely would get word to Tarquin. What would happen then…well, Jolly could not be concerned with that.
She had certainly come into her own in the time he had been…departed. That much he was glad to see. This was something that preoccupied his mind as he retreated further into the highlands of Lordaeron, back into forests and glens that, in some cases, had not seen men since before the rise of Arathor.
Four days, they had agreed upon. In four days he would move back down into the lowlands south of Hearthglen, and there he would meet with them again. How that would turn out…well, he would know then. Distractedly, he looked south. Somewhere out there, he knew the ring lay. In whose hands, he was completely uncertain. He hoped to find them before they unlocked its secrets. He hoped to get his hands around their neck.
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September 7, 2013 – 9:02 am
“Light sent me ye when I needed ye afore – an’ now again when I need ye. I canna ask fir more than tha’.” She sighed and slung the shield back across her shoulders. “It’s… Light. Been awhile hasna it? Well, what e’er else has happened in th’ last years, th’ Bloody Prince is dead, Jols. I wis there fir that much. Ye dinna get ta see it, but we won in th’ end.”
“Ah ken,” he said quietly. “Ah…felt ‘im die,” he said, uncertainly. He sat for a moment, working out how to explain it. “This lan’ was full ay tha dead. Souls trapped in…perpetual battle. Tha dey ‘ee died…well, le’s jes’ say ay lot ay tormen’ ended.”
“‘s been a lot ay torment since though. Th’ world’s been torn apart an’ put back t’gether, an’ new worlds explored. Things dinna change, but that they change a lot, though I s’pose tha’s nae surprise. I’ve been married an’… an’ widowed. Th’ farm’s gone. Wir still th’ Wildfire Riders though – Tarquin an’ Annie an’ Threnn an’ Bricu an’… well, an’ some new faces. Do ye… wan’ ta come back?”
“Ay bloody well cannae keep hauntin’ ‘is place,” he replied, then shook his head. “Nae, tha’s nae raight. There’s…things ‘at shoulda been said, ah’ve nae said. Things lef’ undone.”
Aely bent and picked up her mace from the dust where it lay by the fire, slipping it back into it’s loop at her belt. With a sigh and a gentle clatter of armor, she sat down on the other half of the now-split log. “I think we’ve all go’ things unsaid, Jols. If ye’ve any ay it ta say ta me, I’m listenin’. An’ if nae t’ me, then I’ll do what I can ta help ye say it.”
“In time,” he replied quietly. “Fel, ah’ve got ah lot o’et oan me han’s nae.” He looked over at her again. “Ah’m sorreh fer yer loss, luv. Ah’ve…been ‘ere a’fore.”
She nodded. “It’s… well, it’s a long story. Fir another time, I think. I need ta keep my wits abaet me.” After a few moments, she gave him a hard look. “How, Jols? I watched yir body burn ta ash, an’ cleansed tha’ place fir years.”
Jol grunted, a sound that had been missing for too long. He got up and checked the boarsmeat still roasting on the spit, then tore off a large chunk without much regard for the heat. “Yeh ken tha ring, aye? Tha wunn Brick made?”
“Aye.” She nodded. “Th’ one ye lost, wha’ had th’ plague protections in it.”
Jolly nodded, tearing into the haunch of meat. “Somebodeh foun’ ‘et. An’ laight, wos we luckeh.
“Like ay said, ah ken when tha Bloodah Prince fell. Ah also ken sommat wos up when ah saw tha Val’kyr in Lordaeron. ‘Ey’s ah nasty plight ay bitches, ‘ey be. But ‘ey ain’ all sae evil. One foun’ meh ring in tha Tarren rivah, an’ she used ‘et tae…summon meh. More’n jes’ tha plague wos in ‘at ring, an’ ah b’lieve ‘er. She tol’ me ay ‘ow tha Val’kyr had foun’ nae masters, an’ tol’ me more ’bout tha Aes’kyr who barred me from passin’ oan.” He swallowed down another big bite of boar, then looked…displeased with what he was about to say next. “Ah ‘elped ‘er find ah feller from tha Monastery. She used tha same magic ‘et siphoned tha Scourge from me tae…siphon tha lad out ay him.”
He looked down at his grease-stained hands, empty of food and so different from the ones he had long become used to. “Tha grea’er good, aye?”
Aely grimaced, and made a sign of warding. “Tha’s foul magic. Ye ken how I feel about Scarlets, but… tha’s unnatural an’ foul. I dinna call it good, ta ha’ such evil oan either ay ye.” She looked at him, bitterness creeping into the edges of her voice. “I suppose ye wir happy ta take form again?”
“Which yeh think ah’d rather?” He asked back hotly. “Roamin’ tha fuckin’ glen like some woe-is-me bint, watchin’ as folk make shite decisions an’ lose tha land ay love? ‘Er gamble ay soul ‘et’s already been damned, an’ try tae bring ah lil’ violence tae ‘ey who jes’ dunnae ken when tae lay doen an’ stay dead!?” Jol got up, pacing back and forth around the campfire. “Nae. Nae, it ain’ tha Val’kyr an ay yeh got tae worreh ’bout. She’s been d’stroyed annahwey. She gave meh life, an’ somebodeh else took it. And tha ring.”
“So th’ Val’kyr is destroyed, an’ yir here. An’ somebody else has yir ring? Dinna tha’ give them a lot ay power o’er ye?”
“No tha yet, ah thin’. ‘Ey must nae ken ‘ow tae use ‘et. Othahwise, ah dunnae thank ah’d ‘ave such control oan me own.” He scrubbed a hand through his grimey hair. “Ah’ll find ’em, kill ’em, take tha ring an’ ‘en…figger it oot from ‘ere.”
“‘s nae much ta go oan, but I suppose it’s all there is. If I can help, ye’ve but ta ask.” Aely watched him pace for a few moments more and then asked, “Jols, when’s th’ last time ye had a bath?”
He stopped and looked at her, and then it started. It bubbled up from deep in his belly, gurgling up like a bass drum being beaten to death. It rolled out boomingly, a heartfelt laugh he hadn’t felt since long before the Scourge, the Riders, the War and many other odd memories. It went on for a good while, nearly doubling him over with the sheer…openness of it. “Laight!” he finally wheezed, stumbling himself over to the log and plopping down again. “Val’kyr, deaders, ah fuckin’ ring ‘et could turnin’ me intae ah murderin’ maniac, an’…apparen’lah ah stink!” He started guffawing again, nearly falling off the log. “Laight’s sake, ah missed yeh lassie. Ah did.”
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September 6, 2013 – 2:02 pm
She blinked, but did not drop either of her shields. “Aye, though I’ve been Caltrains fir th’ last near three years. Canna say I’ve any memory ay ye.”
“Yeh’ve far moar’n yeh realize,” he replied evenly, his grip tightening on his sword. “Ah dinnae ‘spect yeh. Yer boys ‘er fine, tho’ ah dunnae thank ‘ey’ll feel tae great when ‘ey wake up.”
“Who th’ fuck ARE ye? If ye’d wanted ta kill ’em, ye’d th’ chance. They said ye’d been around all th’ local haunts, lookin’ out fir folk, but bein’ creepy an’ disappearin’. I canna place if yir friend air foe, an’ I dinna appreciate bein’ caught in between.”
“Yeh’ve changed in t’ree years, ah ken,” he replied almost wearily, squaring his shoulders. “T’ree years is ah lon’ time.”
He took hold of the greatsword, lifting the blade from his shoulder and striking a guarded stance.
“It’s me, lass. It’s Jol.”
“Hah.” She gritted her teeth around the word, biting off the corners. “Jol Taborwynn died four years ago. I burned his body myself, an’ his house wi’ it, an’ I sang his soul ta th’ West. Ye’ve some… some nerve usin’ tha’ name in front ay th’ likes ay me.” She squared off with him, setting guard on the other side of the little camp.
“Aye, but ‘oo else’d ‘ave tha nerve, aye?” he replied. He took a step to his left, away from the log and the three unconscious forms. “Turned awey ‘et tha gates ay Heav’n. Tol’ by tha Aes’kyr tha me life barred me from returnin’ tae tha Laight. Forced tae haun’ me ‘omeland. But suah as ah gave yeh ‘at shiel’, ‘et’s Jol.”
She moved to her left, circling with him. “Th’ shield’s fair ken ta be his, ye’ll need ta prove better. An’ I gave him th’ proper rites – he’d nae reason ta be turned away.” She paused a moment. “An’ if ye are him, wha’s th’ reason I shouldna send ye back ta th’ grave anyway? He had me do as I did ta keep fra’ bein’ raised – he wouldna want ta be th’ likes ay ye.”
“‘En wot yeh gonna dae, Righteous? Yeh say ah’m nae. Ah say ah am. Life, Fate, tha Aes’kyr, tha Titans…none ay ’em care what ay man wants tae b’come. If’n yeh cannae stan’ tha truth, then END IT!” The last came out in a roar, and he charged forward, greatsword whirling.
She caught the sword with the shield, parrying a blow that was heavier than any she’d felt in a long while. Her counterattack swung low, hoping to knock him off balance. “What’m I gonna do? What d’ YE plan ta do? Kill me? Tha’s proof muir than I need ta ken what yir not who ye say ye are. Unless death has so unhinged ye what ye canna recognize one ay yir own?”
Her mace glanced off his knee braces, denting the metal as he spun back and away with the weight of the greatsword. “Well wot else is ‘ere, eh? S’wot yeh come tae dae, bury me a’gin, nae? Well Jol fuckin’ Taborwynn dunnae gae doen wi’out ah fuckin’ faight. Ne’er ag’in. Fuckin’ tried tae give in like a COWARD tae that Scourge!” he raged, more at himself than at the paladin in front of him. “Stood tall in tha face ay Angrathar! Fuckin’ let tha Bloodah Prince BEAT ME!” He roared again, loud and long and proud, and whirled to bring the greatsword down in a vicious downstroke, hacking in half the log he had been sitting on. His back was to her now, giving her all the great space she could take to send him under.
In two steps she crossed to him, dropping her mace and slamming her palm between his shoulderblades with a crack of Light that lit up the entire camp like daylight. “I dinna come ta kill ye. I came ta find out who ye are. An’ why yir hauntin’ th’ place I… well, we both love. If yir tellin’ me wha’ Jol Taborwynn dinna wan’ ta go back ta his grave, then I’ll na be th’ one wha’ sends him there. But I’ll also na be th’ one wha’ stands by an’ let’s him destroy himself out ay guilt. If anyone owns tha’, we share it – I gave ye th’ Rites, if it dinna take, tha’s oan my head as well.”
Whether the force of the blow or the Light, neither would ever be sure. Jol fell forward, kept on his feet only by the grip still on his greatsword, and acrid smoke curled up from his runes, his shoulders, his armor. His shoulders heaved, deep breaths. Moments stretched out, the battle begun and end between the two of them in less time. He turned his head, looking over his shoulder at her. “It wos ne’er yer fault, luv.” He grunted, yanking the blade free of its hastily made earthen scabbard. He heaved a great big breath, then sat himself down with a thump on the log. He looked up at her then, and the old Jolly was there in his eyes. “Light send yeh fair better’n ay, Aely.”
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September 2, 2013 – 12:34 pm
Aely stood still in the growing darkness, pondering her options. These weren’t green recruits, but neither were they sure what they were dealing with. If it was a ghost, she’d probably need to outwit it rather than try any kind of strongarm tactics anyway. She didn’t like her odds in the woods either – armor wasn’t quiet, but neither was anything else, and though things were very still, jumping sidelong at every noise wasn’t helping the situation. Mice were allowed to live here too, and to rustle leaves.
After a few moments of nothingness, she decided on playing to her strengths. She wasn’t Lorelli – sneaking around in the dark did her no good, and in the woods, a greatsword was as much a hindrance as a help. She also wasn’t Tarquin – able to talk her way out of any situation, knowing her enemy before he knew her and playing his advantage. Neither was she Annalea, able to literally melt into shadow, and command it to work for her. She was a Paladin of the Holy Light, a Knight of the Silver Hand, and all this skulking was only putting her at a disadvantage.
Moving quietly, she slid her greatsword back into it’s sheath across her back, and unslung Jolstraer’s shield from across her shoulders, loosening a mace from her belt as well. She knew she’d only have a few moments, but she was armed, armored, experienced, and had – she hoped – one last element of surprise up her sleeves.
She called Light into her hands, and then allowed it to surge into a shield around her entire body – effectively lighting up the area within five yards.
And then, without more than a deep breath, she strode out into the little clearing, mace in hand, and demanded “An’ jus’ what th’ bloody fuck d’ye think yir oan about anyway?”
The camp wasn’t much of a camp; there was a fire, with a small boar roasting on a spit. Around the campfire were four ratty blankets, three of which were filled with sleeping forms…dressed in Argent colors. One was a night elf with a pair of sizable lumps on his head. The fourth form was sitting on a log, half dressed in ragged armor that had long since seen better days. He was a mountain of a man, Northern at first glance, but looking as though he’d been raised by wolves. Or bears, rather, given his size. His face looked…ancient; not the aged of scholars or wizards with long years of study. It was more the face of a man who had seen Arathor’s rise, and lived for the hunt before men deigned to build huts and towns and cities. His eyes were the cold blue of Northrend’s heart, and they watched her with an unwavering gaze, as if he’d been waiting for her. His blonde hair was long and wild, hanging down half to his forearms. In the front it was wrangled into two crude braids, and they were spattered with dark spots; mud, or more likely, long dried blood.
He took her in with a long look, his bare arms resting on a massive greatsword of his own, its point dug into the dirt and his hands on its hilt. His arms…dark runes and ancient script spiraled down the pale skin of his right, a dark mixture of demonic, Vrykul, Acherun…they wound down to his hand, cresting on the back of it in the shape of the North, the shape of a land that was too stubborn to die. The crest of Lordaeron emblazoned there had an eerie glow to it, shifting from red to purple to blue and back again.
He stared at her as if she were the banshee haunting the highlands. He stood, lifting the greatsword up and laying the flat of his blade on his shoulder. His voice was gravelly, and chillingly familiar.
September 8, 2015 – 9:51 pm
It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – …
August 4, 2015 – 12:22 pm
An old story, reposted here as I’m shaking the mothballs off Ankona and needed an easy way to show people a little bit about the (batshit) things she gets up to. Enjoy, and don’t be too creeped out!
It really …
November 14, 2014 – 7:32 am
So I haven’t finished the intro quests yet (the server queues from the reduced server capacity due to the DDOS attacks meant I only got about an hour to play yesterday), but I’m finding that Draenor is pretty cool so …
November 13, 2014 – 12:30 pm
The morning of the all hands summon to the Blasted Lands, Aely went for a walk. The late fall air was clear and cool, and leaves crunched under their feet in the less-traveled parts of the streets. She and Roger …
November 11, 2014 – 3:09 pm
What a long strange trip it’s been. I’ll be the first to admit that, at the beginning, I wasn’t sure Pandaria was going to be for me. I’ve made clear my dislike of daily quests, and that seemed to be …
October 24, 2014 – 12:01 pm
Squire Benjamin William Sullivan stood in the middle of Light’s Hope Chapel in his underpants.
Actually, it was white linen pants and a shift, but the effect was approximately the same. The little chapel was warm, on the edge of …
June 29, 2014 – 4:39 pm
So I’m not really in a position where I should be creating alts. This, of course, does nothing to deter me from making alts when the inspiration strikes. I’ve been really enjoying my Alliance hunter, and she’s my raiding main …
November 19, 2013 – 4:46 pm
Bad things are happening in Stormwind – and beyond.
The Hand of Lothar, they call themselves.
Yva Darrows was their first target.
Tirith and Aely were their second and third.
They have since… expanded their reach and escalated their methods …