Part 3: Communion

Mareva was sitting in a quiet corner of the Hall of Lights, and tried to talk to the Wind. She concentrated on the passing air. She concentrated on her breath, as it passed into her lungs, out of them. Even in this artificial environment, air taken from Draenor, re-cycled, oxygen and nitrogen levels carefully monitored and adjusted, Farseer Nubundo had assured her that the Spirit of Air still dwelt. Mareva’s eyes were closed. She blocked the noises from her consiousness, the people passing by, the low drone of the engines she could feel in her bones. Her hands lay still in her lap. Her legs were crossed.

At times, Mareva thought she could hear a whisper, as of something not Draenei. Wishful thinking, probably. Still, wasn’t wishful thinking all that this was? Did the Spirit of Air exist nowhere else but in the minds of the Shaman? Always a possibility, of course. She became aware of her thoughts, frowned, tried to banish all thought from her mind. Concentrate on the air flowing into her, out of her. Think of nothing. Think of breath. Think of flowing particles. Think of Air.

 

Farseer Nobundo grinned. “Spirit of Air won’t talk to you? Is very rude. Talk to boyfriend instead, no? Much better chance of getting answer, especially if say what he wants to hear.”

Mareva sighed. “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I try to empty my mind, concentrate only on Air, but thoughts always flow back in. I never thought thinking of nothing would be so difficult.”

“Is because you are not at rest. O’ros and Velen pushed you hard. Still recovering.” Nobundo gave her a most un-mystic grin. “Many play-mates are helping, yes?”

Mareva blushed a deep blue. “Um. Yes. Most relaxing. I used to have problems getting to sleep. Not any more. Who’d have thought?”

Nobundo nodded, and only a glint in his eyes hinted that he might be anything but completely serious.

“Perhaps I should join the Perverts.”

He held up his hand, twisted and changed by the Burning Legion’s fel magic. Draenei had five fingers, like Elves or Humans, apt to delicate work. Nobundo’s fingers had fused into two large strong claws and a thumb. His body had hardened. His once quite strikingly handsome face had changed into a caricature. Wrinkles in his lips, nose all but disappeared. Nobody could look at it without being affected by it. It wasn’t that he looked sick or unhealthy. He was quite fit, strong, and had an endurance to match the strongest of Warriors. But the knowledge that he had once looked much like they had, scared the Draenei in a primal way, and they recoiled, hiding their fear behind thinly-concealed contempt.

“Can not do very subtle things, but can keep going all night, and the following day too if need to.”

Mareva smiled. “Well, that might be useful, but you can’t get more than three points off a single sampling. So you’d make one girl very very happy, but still only end up with three points.”

“Pah. Have them queue up. I rake in the points.”

Mareva’s smile faded. “Do the Krokul have children?”

Nobundo scratched his cheek. “Most of us not in the mood to try. I do not know of any. Not sure if blessing or not.”

“It would be a victory over the Legion.”

Nobundo shook his head. “Some victories worse than defeat.” He sighed. “Well, I see you tried hard. Will meditate together tomorrow, see if I can lead you. Not to worry. Took me a year before Wind spoke to me. Most of that time, was praying for the Light to come back to me. Elements came to me when I stop being so stupid. You come back tomorrow early, yes?”

Mareva got up, nodded, bowed her head and left. Farseer Nobundo watched her as she walked to the engine room.

“Spirits keep you safe.”


“Talk to the wind? Easy. I do it all the time. Usually when I try to explain to people that you need experience to use the heavier armour. Honestly. I’ve had tiny little Paladin girls in my shop, no heavier than one of my arms, asking for battleplate. One of these days, I’ll dress one of them up like she asks and then go for lunch while she tries to walk off in it.”

“Oh? So you think only boys can wear the heavy armour?”

“By the Light, no! Pally chicks who’ve trained up look absolutely stunning in battleplate, and they can use it as well as Velen himself.”

“What about Shaman chicks?”

“They don’t even need armour to look stunning.”

“Good save.”

Viral gave Mareva an uncertain look.

“Um, not that I mind, but you may want to keep a bit quiet about your using Orc magic. It makes some people a bit uneasy.”

“Orc magic? What Orc magic?”

“Well, that Shaman stuff you do. Orcs started it, you know? And you know what that led to.”

Mareva scowled. “Incorrect. All the trouble with the Orcs started when the zlotniks stepped away from Shamanistic mysticism, and tried to see if demonic magic would better serve their needs. Opinions on this vary.”

Viral sighed, put his arms round Mareva and pulled her close.

“You know about this. Lots of people will need lots of explaining. Keep your totems out of sight until then, I’d say.”

“I am what I am. Farseer Nobundo taught me how to call upon the Spirit of Earth to make a Strength of Earth totem. When I put it down, our Warriors can hit harder. Surely, they will appreciate that? If Farseer Nobundo had not put down his fire resistance totem, then I would be dead now. As a Shaman, I can serve my Draenei brothers and sisters better than as a failing Mage.”

“Oh, I’m all for using the weapons of the enemy agaist them, but people may feel that it’s the first step on a path that leads to…” Viral waved his hand.

“Then people are stupid. We were living with Orc Shaman for years, with no problems. No enmity. They fell from their faith. Shaman are not evil.”

Viral put his big hands on Mareva’s slender shoulders, and looked deep into her eyes.

“You are not evil. I have known no joy greater than knowing you, since you picked me to help you with O’ros’ power cables.”

“Well, you had worked with power cables before.”

Viral laughed quietly, and stroked one of the barbels on the side of her face.

“I lied. All I know is not to look into them. Never had my hand on a holy power cable before.”

Mareva stared at him with her mouth hanging open. She could guess the answer, but she wanted to hear him say it.

“Then why by the Light Everlasting…”

“I was trying to impress you. I had hopes. And I’ve found more than I hoped for.” The mischievous grin slowly faded from his face. “I don’t want you to get hurt. Being beaten up by stupid persons hurts as much as by intelligent ones.”

Mareva gave him a lop-sided grin. “I disagree with that statement, but not with the sentiment behind it. I will be careful.” Her voice was sad. “We are all Draenei. We are all running away from the Burning Legion, and their slaves. Why must I be afraid of my fellow Draenei?”

“Because people are stupid,” said Viral. “Enough of this gloom. Let me tell you about something I learnt last night.”

Mareva laughed. “Is it disgustingly perverse?”

“She gave me three points for doing it to her.”


The door chime sounded. Captain Baqiir looked up.

“Enter.”

The door opened, and Prophet Velen stepped in, a green glass bottle in his hand.

“Have you any glasses, Captain? I find I have some Telaari grape brandy that I would like your opinion on.”

“Of course. It’s not that horrible stuff that the engineers drink, is it?”

Velen sat down on a chair, and crossed his legs.

“Qrovna? May the Naaru preserve us. I still suspect that they tap that somewhere out of the machinery and we’re all doomed as soon as we want to extend the landing thrusters or something.”

The Captain walked to a cupboard, pulled out two small glasses and placed them on his desk. Velen carefully uncorked the bottle and filled both their glasses. They took a small sip. Velen turned the cup round between his large hands.

“How is Exodar, Captain?”

“The jumps were as successful as we hoped. We have about two hundred and eighty days of normal space travel to go. Exodar will find her way. Sometimes, when we are bored, we make a one-percent course correction, and watch the helm automata correct us.”

“I must admit. You helmsmen really know how to enjoy yourselves.”

“The fun and excitement never stop for a spacefarer. How are Exodar’s passengers?”

“Coping well, for the most part. They managed to board in their thousands when we breached the Sin’dorei defences. We are almost a complete people.”

“That is good to hear. At least, we will not starve.”

“For we have Emarree,” said Velen, with a nod. “Both flavours. As much as we could possibly want, and more. What are you having for dinner tonight?”

Captain Baqiir leaned back in his chair, and sipped his brandy.

“Do you remember Telaar?”

“Of course,” said Velen. “I worked there for years.”

“And the inn?”

“Caregiver Isel. She is a treasure. She would not come, sadly.”

“Do you remember her smoked Talbuk venison?”

Velen took a deep breath. “How can anyone pass through that inn and not remember it?”

“And it is no use hunting for Talbuk yourself, even if you have the recipe. It is simply not the same.”

“True. It is essential that she puts the plate in front of you, smiles at you and wishes you a good appetite.”

Captain Baqiir put down his empty glass. Velen refilled it without asking.

“My beautiful wife promised me some Talbuk venison tonight. Come join us if you wish.”

Prophet Velen’s eyes wrinkled.

“Are we going mad? They say that if you pretend anything for long enough, eventually, you will end up believing in it.”

Captain Baqiir laughed.

“As long as we all go mad at exactly the same rate, we will never know it until landfall.”

“I worry, Captain, but at the same time, I see how my people are coping with their fate, and I am proud. It may seem like bliss to some, to literally have nothing to do for a year. But nature abhorrs a vacuum. They find things to do, even with… nothing.”

“Well, I assume training will take up much of their time.”

“True. But they are most inventive in finding things to do with their time. There is now a club dedicated to proving Vremaat’s first theorem. And another one dedicated to disproving it.”

“Not all clubs have such lofty intents,” said the Captain. “The Deviants pursue the ultimate sexual experience. With great enthusiasm and levels of promiscuity the likes of which I have not encountered before in my life.”

Velen grinned. “I heard of them. I had a few words with their chairman, Wildoor. He explained their ethics to me. Their ground rules are of openness and mutual respect. Wildoor tells me that he has run similar clubs elsewhere, with minimal problems.”

“I am not sure whether I want to know about this. Anyway, they are after me. Apparently, if one of them, male or female, succeeds in seducing me into their bed, the achievement is worth twenty points. You, by the way are worth only fifteen.”

Velen frowned. “I find that demeaning and insulting. I am the Prophet of my people. The Naaru spoke to me first, that I might lead my people to safety.” He drained his glass. “You are a mere cart driver. I should be worth at least twenty-five points.”

Captain Baqiir bared his fangs in a broad grin.

“Ah, but I am a married man! The Naaru do not care who you cavort with, but Foori will kill them, should she find them in my bed. And me, for that matter.”

“In that case, be strong, and resist temptation with all your might.”

“If I am in danger of succumbing, I will set my yeoman on them. She is currently leading the score board, or so I’m told.”

“What, Lorelei? I thought she was a virgin! She can’t be more than, what, eighteen years old?”

“Thirty-two. I was invited to her birthday party two years ago. I caught her looking through her notebook for people she had not ‘sampled’ yet. That is their word for it, by the way.”

Velen got up from his chair and shook his head. “Honestly, Baqiir. Looking at young girl’s notebooks. I am ashamed of you.”

“Just a glance, quite by accident, I assure you. Will you join us tonight?”

“I must sample Foori’s cooking. A woman who can make Emarree taste like Talbuk venison holds power to rival the Naaru.”

“See you tonight.”


The young girl was skipping through one of the greater cargo holds. This was where they kept the engine parts. She knew, because she could just about read the labels on the crates.

“Engine parts, engine parts,” she chanted. “Beautiful engine parts.”

She put her hands on top of one of the crates, and jumped. She had to try a few times before she could push herself up onto the crate. She’d never been all the way to the top, and she had a feeling that today might be the day. Once she got to the top, she would be able to see the top of all the boxes. She bounced up and down on her hooves, and clambered on top of the second box. Just one more… She stood on top of the highest box, and looked down. She’d never done this before. She’d also never known that people lived here, and they were such strange people. All pale, and they’d lost their horns and tails. Perhaps they were ashamed.

“Hello? Who are you?”

One of the creatures looked up at her. He leaped up on top of one of the boxes, then onto the next. No fair! He was much bigger than she was! And then, he grabbed her by the arms and carried her down. She stood stock still, looking up at the man. He smiled, put his hands on her shoulders, talked to her, but his words were all wrong and she couldn’t understand him.

“I can help you look for your tails, if you want.”

He quickly turned her round, and gave her a hug from behind, but his arm was round her throat. His other hand was on her head…


“Open wide.”

Viral put the spoon to Mareva’s lips, being sure to spill a bit, just so she could lick them in a suitably lewd and seductive manner. This was probably required by some law or other.

Mareva sighed, and smiled from under the black fabric of the blindfold.

“Hmmm. Could this be…? Don’t tell me. Let me…”

She licked her lips again.

Salty Emarree? Oh Sir, you spoil me. Take me! Take me now!”

Viral put down the bag.

“You are not getting into the spirit of things. And stop peeking out from under the blindfold.”

Mareva giggled. “Are you going to switch to body parts any time soon? This is boring!”

“Honestly. My partner last night was squirming with pleasure. And I only gave her the sweet, and an energy bar.”

“I am sorry. Emarree does not wake the fire in my loins. I’ll make you a promise. When we get to a planet, I will buy every foodstuff I can afford, and eat it in a way that will make you helpless with desire. Hmm. I do like the blindfold, though. Get naked, lover.”

“How do you know I am not?”

 

Mareva’s answer was lost in the sharp sound of the alarm. She ripped off the blindfold, looked at Viral. In a flash, she had put on her robes, and strapped on the leather chest piece she’d bought off a trader. Her one-handed mace hung on her belt.

“Got to go,” she said.

The voice on the public address system sounded agitated. “Peacekeepers to cargo hold twenty. Peacekeepers to cargo hold twenty. Multiple, repeat multiple Sin’dorei spotted. One civilian victim.”

Mareva sprinted down the corridors to the cargo hold, gathering up all the spells Nobundo had taught her. Several of the Peacekeepers were running in the same direction she was. When they got to cargo hold twenty, there was no need to ask where the action was. Peacekeepers were fighting at least a dozen Blood-elves sword to sword. Mareva didn’t waste a moment. With swift pointing motions of her hands, she put down two totems.

“Strength of Earth,” she whispered. “Searing totem.”

The green totem pulsed with a faint light, and Mareva felt how the world became lighter. She felt stronger, was stronger. More importantly, so were her fellow Draenei fighting the Blood-elves. Mareva did not intend to fight one of the Blood-elves mace to sword. Her red fire totem hummed, selected a Blood-elf sword fighter, and started shooting bolts of fire at it. Mareva took a deep breath, and let fly her improved lightning bolts, against another living creature for the first time. The Blood-elf screamed. His arms and legs twitched, and he fell down, to be killed by one of the sword fighters.

Mareva didn’t let herself think, and started casting lightning bolts at another of the enemy. Her jaw was set, and she was shaking with anger and adrenalin. More help arrived from other parts of Exodar, and the fight was soon finished. Thirteen Sin’dorei lay dead, and they looked round to see if everybody was alright. Mareva was not surprised to see Giraz on the scene, alight with the after-effects of his battle spells.

“Right! Who found these bastards?”

One of the soldiers raised a hand. “Me, Sir.”

“Well done. How did you spot them?”

“Cooking smell, Sir.” The soldier’s face was pale and drawn. “Someone was roasting… and it smelt so… good!”

Suddenly, the soldier turned round, ran to one of the cargo crates and was violently sick.

Giraz walked up, put a hand on the soldier’s shoulder.

“Steady, man. We got them all. Good job.”

The soldier shook his head violently, retched again, but nothing came. He pointed a trembling finger.

“Look!”


Captain Baqiir gave Prophet velen an unhappy look, shaking his head.

“What kind of an animal would do that? Kill, and eat, a young girl?”

Velen bowed his head, looking at his knees. “A spider would. A warpstalker. Plenty of big cats will eat Draenei if we let them. But those are wild animals. We, and Sin’dorei, are sentient people. We are not mere animals. We have conscience.”

He looked at the wall, at one of Baqiir’s models of Exodar and the other parts of Tempest Keep.

“And yet, I wish to hate them for it, but in all honesty I cannot. That poor girl simply had the bad luck to run into them, playing where she should never have been able to enter.” Velen looked at the captain. “They know we give them no quarter. If we had found them, we would have killed them. They could not keep her with them. They could not let her go. And they were probably more desperate for food than we are. It was the only logical thing they could do.”

“I am sorry, my friend, but I have no problem hating them for it. If there had been any survivors, I would have blown them out of the airlock in a breath.”

“All our Peacekeepers are under orders to kill any enemy on sight. There will be no survivors. We have re-commenced our searches for enemies. These searches will continue until we touch down on Azeroth. That will keep the Peacekeepers busy.”

“Good. If only we could be sure we have them all.”

 

Mareva sat on Viral’s bed, back to his large chest, his arms round her. Her fourth cup of Qrovna was in her hand.

“I have killed,” she said. “And at first I felt bad about it. Then, I saw what was left of that poor little girl.” Tears welled up in her eyes, and she tossed back her drink. She bared her fangs in a horrible perversion of a smile. “And now, I don’t.”

Viral pulled her closer to him, took the empty cup out of her hand and put it down on the floor next to the bed. He pushed Mareva down on her side, wrapped his arms round her, and whispered words of sleep in her ear. After a few minutes, her quiet sobs stopped, and her breath became regular.

 

She sat on the floor, next to Farseer Nobundo, in a deep, deep trance. He had only helped her a little to achieve that state. Most of it, she had done herself.

“Spirit of Wind, speak to me. I have need of you. I must be strong. Strong against those who would destroy us. One of ours, an innocent child, has died because we could not protect her. I must be strong.”

 

“She is alive. All that is, is alive.”


Copyright: © 2008,2009,2010 Menno Willemse. All rights reserved.

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