Netherbane

Demon Hunters in the World of Warcraft

Home and Hearth

This scene takes place immediately after the Netherbane Ceremony of Light and Dark, a remembrance ceremony to honor those fallen at the end of the Soulshapers arc.

Rhoelyn 07/20/2018
Far to the west of Blackrook Hold, hidden in the dark and fog, the little island that has been all but swallowed by a large, truncated section of the wreckage of a Legion warship hunkers atop the churning ocean, helpless victim of yet another demon invasion. Once a teardrop of near-barren rock nearly half a league long and wide, now it is only a little hill of Azerothian stone left strewn with Argussian rubble, dirt and rock and plants, and the massive bulk of the wrecked Soul Cleaver from mid-bow to near-aft. The last quarter of the vessel falls off with the land and submerges, shimmering with fel-green light just under the water's edge and evoking the thought of a beached, dying Leviathan. Here and there around its perimeter, shadow power still wafts free of the perfect, void-stained cuts through its bulkheads and through bits and pieces of the foreign rubble that snuggles against it, wisps of dark that whisper and writhe.

The moment her frost-construct mount touches the stone, it dissolves beneath the void knight, and she lands with the click of her hooves against rock and a little splash as water drops to the ground around her. She takes a steadying half-step before looking over at her friend, silent and ... slightly patient.

Araatris
Ary grimaces as she carefully swings one leg over her runesaber and puts her feet on the ground. It took more concentration than she would have liked for the simple maneuver. Still, she had her pride, and she would not stumble over her own two feet in front of her blade because of a little drink.

She releases the saddle and straightens her back, patting the saber on the side before speaking a command word and catching the scroll that suddenly replaced him. With slow and deliberate steps, she made her way to Vasedra... wishing again that she could hide the drunken flush to her cheeks.

Rhoelyn
The eredar watches her quietly, her amused smirk hidden in the darkness under her cowl. As Ary steps up, she asks simply, "Are you ready to go in?"

Araatris
"Yes, I'm ready." The young woman's voice is softer than usual. "There's no reason to delay is there?" There's a slight slurring to her words.

Rhoelyn
"No. No reason." Sedra leaves the motivation for her question a mystery, simply turning away and making her way down the uneven rock to the new iris door roughly cut from somewhere else in the vessel and welded over the torn opening in the hull. The 4" split that extends another couple of feet above the patched-in door glows with the yellow-green of the interior hall lights.

Araatris
Stepping down after her, Ary grimaces as a stray stone digs into her foot, but knows better than to complain. She fights the fog attacking her mind as she steps through the door and tries to circumspectly lean against hall. "Which part is this? It's not far to the workshop, is it?" There's a tiny plaintive note in her voice that makes Ary scowl at herself.

Rhoelyn
"Not far," her friend says softly, beckoning her along. "You'll be able to rest, soon."

She leads the way through the maze of halls, past the place where the rockslide that used to block the tunnel has leaked halfway back out through the repaired rip in the structure. Half of that hall is clear, strewn with Argussian pebbles.

Araatris
Ary stumbles behind her, scattering some of the small stones. Refusing voice her pain, she bites her lip until it draws blood. After a moment, when the pain stabbing the bottom of her feet recedes. "You've... you've been hard at work. When did you have time to do this?"

Rhoelyn
Sedra glances back at her, tugging the glamoured cowl back from her face. Her stygian eyes search her friend, and her frown as well as the tight lines of tension around her eyes are revealed. Her gaze lands on Ary's feet, and the tension only tightens further.

"I haven't been sleeping much." Sedra clicks back toward the little human, countenance stern. "The halls are still not safe for bare flesh, Ary. It is a wreck. I will find a place for you to store boots by the entrances and exits in the future."

Araatris
"I lost mine," Ary admits in a hushed tone, "but it's fine." She doesn't meet Sedra's eyes as she focuses on putting one foot in front of the other. "Are you sleeping less than usual? You've never slept as much as I thought you should. Or eaten for that matter."

Rhoelyn
"Ary. We were just in Dalaran," the void knight grouches as they continue. "You should have said something."

She sighs and reaches up to massage her temple. "Less than usual. Yes."

Araatris
The red-head mumbles, "I forgot..." She looks up, noting the eredar's actions with a frown. "Why are you sleeping less? Is something wrong?"

Ary trips over something else, stubbing her toe. She grasps for the back of Vasedra's armor with a muffled gasp.

Rhoelyn
The void knight stills, letting Ary catch herself and take a moment to breathe. She comments with her back to her friend, "I... don't find I want to sleep as often. Nothing's particularly wrong."

After a short pause,"It's not far, now. Do you want me to help you?"

Araatris
"Help me?" Ary murmurs in confusion. She releases Sedra's armor and stares at her friend with unguarded worry. "But you need more help than me..."

Rhoelyn
"I don't know what you mean. My hooves are just fine." Vasedra turns and looks down at the human, her expression resigned. "I'll carry you the last bit. I'd rather you didn't bleed on the decks. Tomorrow, we get you boots."

Araatris
Ary frowns. "I'm not bleeding and I wasn't talking about your hooves. I was talking about here." She raises on her toes and reaches up to tap her forehead. "Your mind gets all twisted up."

Rhoelyn
Sedra's brow furrows as she looks at the little redhead, and for a few heartbeats she is quiet. Finally, she says, "That's just... nothing new, Ary. And after the night's revelations..."

She sighs and glances over her shoulder down the hall. "Come on. Can we at least make it to the sanctuary before we talk? My head hurts."

Araatris
The human smirks, staying still. "Oh? But you said you were carryin-"

Rhoelyn
She's cut off when Sedra leans down and sweeps the human into her arms, tugging her against her cool breastplate. Stoic, she turns and strides down the hall toward the far intersection, carrying her like a princess... or a child.

Araatris
Ary smirk falters as the flush on her cheeks deepens. "Sedra, I wasn't serious. This is ridiculous." Her cheek rests against the gloriously cool armor. "I could just heal my feet later."

Rhoelyn
"I know you weren't serious, Ary." The eredar says it softly, not looking down at the human in her arms. "But I really don't like watching you hurt yourself for the sake of... whyever you do it. To prove you can. So I will pretend that I thought you asked. It's not far, and I am strong enough that your weight is no burden."

As they walk, something indistinct slips out of the shadows to trail them, something that lifts from the ground and slowly, over the course of a few steps, resolves its form into a little bird made of wispy darkness.

Araatris
The young woman tilts her head up to look at her friend, then sighs. "It's fine. Just... embarrassing. I don't like feeling helpless." She lowers her gaze. "But... it's fine." Ary watches the bird. "Why did you make a bird?"

Rhoelyn
"Make a bird?" After a quick glance around in which her black gaze skips right over and through the little avian form, Sedra's brow furrows. "Is that one of those human euphemisms? I thought there was something more like throwing a bird." She tilts her head thoughtfully as they approach the workshop's iris door. "Or was it flopping? Flopping a bird?"

Araatris
Ary frowns. "Perhaps I'm more drunk than I thought. I thought I saw a bird of shadow." She shakes her head. "It's not important."

Rhoelyn
The void knight shrugs and then scoffs. "For the record, you're far from helpless. Dangerous, as a matter of fact. But you can't deny that those fleshy little feet are... they aren't very practical. Hooves are better."

With that scandalous pronouncement, she sets the woman back on said feet and reaches out for the access scanner, triggering the door to rotate open. Sedra gestures Ary in with a sweep of her arm and the little bird glides in ahead of them.

Araatris
The human steps in and to the side, looking for her chair. "I like my feet thank you. I'm surprised you don't get rocks in your hooves." She frowns. "Where's my chair?"

Rhoelyn
As the door slips shut behind her, Vasedra winces self-consciously. Her hooves click on the deck as she makes her way deeper into the room, past the shelves that have new repairs over the old ones and are tidy, if less thoroughly organized. The huge chunk of Argus that pierced the room remains exactly as it was, as if oblivious to the fact that Argus is a closed portal distant, now, and its tail end is buried in Azerothian stone and tainted with void shadows.

"Your chair was broken beyond repair, Ary." She pauses by the workbench mid-room, glancing back out of the corner of her eye, and fiddles with shifting a couple of things across its surface idly as she continues, "I'll see that it's replaced; I just haven't had the chance, yet."

Araatris
Ary's lips turn down in disappointment. "Oh. What about the sheets on the bed?" She wanders over to the bed, weaving slightly as her guard lessens. She trips over a dip on the floor. "Ack! Has that dent always been there?"

Rhoelyn
"Just watch your step. I still need to replace the floor panel." The void knight is a little bit sullen as she follows her friend to the bed.

There is a new blanket folded atop the pillow, the same type but a different color, and different sheets. The space is restored as thoroughly as possible, otherwise, including a new inkwell and more parchment, and her older, completed journal with the least-stained side up. Something with a light blue tint to it clearly splashed across it, even so.

Araatris
The woman sighs. "If I'd known you were going to move this place, I would have stored my stuff." She picks up her journal and flips through it before setting back down. "At least the settee survived..." She moves over to the said piece and flops on the settee.

Rhoelyn
The eredar pulls the half-empty bottle of alcohol from her pack, setting it on the shelves by Ary's feet with a clink.

"It... it wasn't the move that damaged things. I'm sorry." She suddenly finds the slightly bioluminous crystal-growing slurry at the far back of the room a very interesting place to rest her lightless eyes, tugging her gauntlets off.

Araatris
"What are you talking about? Did something get in here? I wouldn't worry about it. They tore up my apartment, too." Ary closes her eyes and tosses her arm over her face, muffling her voice. "You don't need to apologize. We'll get a new chair."

Rhoelyn
As if her pride is stung, Sedra swings her gaze to Ary and bites out, "Nothing gets in here, Ary. Only you and me."

She calms herself just as quickly, taking a deep breath and massaging her temple. "We'll get a new chair," she repeats, hesitant to admit to more.

The little shadow bird that has perched on the top of the shelves suddenly glides down  to land on the human's flopped arm, weightless and just slightly tingly.

Araatris
Ary shifts her arm to her stomach, blinking first at the bird then at Sedra and looking more than a little owlish. She looks younger as if the weight of the recent past wasn't quite as heavy. "I'm sorry, Sedra. You put so much work into this place."

"Would you please tell me what did happen?" She entreats in a hushed voice.

Rhoelyn
The eredar looks away, again, but after a hesitation, she nudges Ary's legs aside just enough to perch on the edge of the settee. She leans forward to rest her elbows on her knees and clenches her bare hands together.

"When I... came back from Viskarri and couldn't find you, I was... upset. And perhaps still half-mad and confused from...  well... everything. I confronted Eraelan, certain that he'd done something. Lured you off to some 'test' or... worse. I baited him. He baited me." Her voice is soft, uncertain and perhaps embarrassed. "That was the fight your sister told you about. I put these swords through his stolen body a few times before he thoroughly... put me in my place. It was he who told me you'd been taken. After, I was only more upset."

Sedra lets her head droop, rubbing the ache growing steadily worse at her temple. "I came here to try to rest. Tris told me to, but... You were supposed to be here, but you weren't. And I was just... upset. I gave in to the swords, to the voices, and I tore the sanctuary apart. It gets a little fuzzy for a short while after that."

Afraid to look at her friend, the eredar just brushes a hand through her hair and stares at the spot where she scrubbed her own blood from the dented floor panel.

The little bird on Ary's arm collapses on itself, and its form becomes something just nebulous and shifting, a small wisp of shadow and nothing that floats above them both.

Araatris
Pushing herself up on her elbows,  Ary stares at Sedra blankly. After a long moment, she begins chuckling. "I'm sorry. I'm not laughing at you. It's just... did you know what I did when my sister tried to give me all my stuff when I moved into my apartment...?"

Rhoelyn
Her friend shakes her head, perplexed and daring to look over at her. "No."

Araatris
"I burned all the old clothing. I was so mad. I thought 'Did she really want to remind me of everything I lost?' It wasn't until much later that I realized that she was hoping that the familiarity would be a comfort. A misguided notion." Ary smiles before raising on her knees and hugging Vasedra. "Much like thinking that a home would bring comfort instead of reminding you of what was missing. It was so ridiculous."

Rhoelyn
After a surprised hesitation, Vasedra hugs her back, hoping that the tremble she feels isn't as obvious to her drunken friend. "Yes. It was ridiculous. She was ridiculous and so was I. I do ridiculous things too often."

She squeezes Ary tight. "I told you before I left that none of it had any meaning if you weren't here when I returned. I was afraid I'd have to protect your memory instead of you. I was just..." She hesitates and then, as if infected by Ary's drunken level of truthfulness, she blurts out, "I don't know why you let me have my own ideas. I should never have gone. It all went so wrong."

Araatris
Surprise crosses Ary's features. "I'm not your master, Sedra. We work together.  What went wrong? What happened?"

Rhoelyn
Sedra softens the act of pulling away from her hug by patting Ary's arm as she does so.

"I got what I wanted." She repeats what she's said before, pressing one of her newly - freed hands to her temple.

"Power. An army to take to the Gate. E-even if it has begun to breach, maybe it's not useless. I believe the Bloodbinder will care, but will he be ready to give me what he promised? Will I?"

Her tone takes on a bit of a ramble towards the end, and she grimaces.

Araatris
"At what price. I've paid my dues for my power." Ary smiles, but it never reaches her remorseful eyes. "I chose not to pay the price to become a demon hunter a second time. This time... this time I paid a different price in the shadows I hear if I don't wear this halo."

The young woman places a hand on Sedra's knee. "Sedra, I've only done what is necessary to survive... to feel like I have a purpose. What have you paid for your power?"

Rhoelyn
The void knight takes a deep breath, silent for a long while after Ary's question. She doesn't move, not closer nor farther away. Finally, she says quietly, "I went to Viskarri to bargain what I could do. I knew Tza'kiel opposed the Consuming Dark; I thought... I think he cares very much that the Gates stay closed. I have- who I was had been the World Bender for Malfias, willingly. Who I am was willing to do the same for Tza'kiel if it meant guarding the unguarded Gate. That, and enough power to stand a chance against Sraath..."

She clenches her hands together, gripping them tightly. "But he... he did not want what I could do as much as he wanted me." Her little laugh is choked and mirthless. "I made a name for myself, and as a consequence, he gave me a new one. I could not say no. I tried."

"The price I paid..." The eredar looks over at Ary, her dark eyes as unreadable as her carefully blank expression, "is a chain that you cannot see. It leads to darkness. It tethers me to Viskarri and to Tza'kiel, blood and body and mind and so-"

She cuts off with a grimace, reaching back up to massage her temple. "My head hurts. I'm tired. You're drunk. I'll get you some water for later, and then we should sleep."

Araatris
Ary looks at Sedra sympathetically, not quite ready to end. "At least I chose who holds my chain. Then you are scared of what he will one day ask you to do? Or who you will become as a result?"

Rhoelyn
"It's as you said, Ary. One day, he may demand something of me that puts us at odds with one another, something I cannot avoid. Already, he..." The taller woman grits her teeth. "You can fix it with a few words, this time. I may not be so lucky in the future."

Araatris
"Does he already make requests of you?" Her blue eyes are bright, too bright, as she holds Vasedra's gaze.

Rhoelyn
Sedra nods. "He left me with two before we parted. And inserted another into the mission on the Eclipse." She presses her lips into a tight, displeased line before she continues. "I need you to... do something simple for me. I think it will be easiest if it's now. And after, I'll get you water. Then sleep."

Araatris
The human nods slowly. "If I can. What do you need me to do?"

Rhoelyn
Ducking her head in painfully obvious embarrassment, the eredar's cheeks darken as she says, "I need you to... say that you're mine. Just say the words. They don't need to mean anything."

Araatris
Ary flushes brightly, and she quickly looks away. "Sedra, you know that I don't--"

Rhoelyn
"I know." Vasedra's cheeks only darken farther, and she brushes a hand through her hair, gaze on the floor. "I just need you to say it. We both know they're just words, but it will satisfy my order."

Araatris
The young woman is silent for a long moment. "They are just words." She mumbles to herself. "I suppose... they couldn't hurt." Ary turns her nervous, flushed face to Vasedra. "I am yours, Vasedra..."

Rhoelyn
Breathing a sigh of relief, the void knight hunches forward and closes her eyes for a heartbeat. "Thank you, Ary."

With nothing more and without doing more than glancing at her friend, the other woman pushes to her hooves and steps across the way to the water reservoir, filling a pair of cups with an unsteady hand.

Araatris
Ary stares at the ground as the void knight returns, rubbing her face instead. Finally, she glares at the bottle sitting at the bottom of the shelf. "I should not have allowed myself to drink like this... I will regret it in the morning."

Rhoelyn
"Yes, you may. Maybe less so if you drink this." Sedra hands her one of the cups before settling back on the edge of the settee. "But there's no harm done, and I think you'll be able to sleep better."

Araatris
The red-head manages a weak smile. "Eraelan would have left me to get my own water and sleep it off. You shouldn't coddle me as you do. It was my fault to drink like this." She takes the water and sips at it then sighs in relief.

Her gaze wanders to the bed. "We should add a hook at the head of the bed."

Rhoelyn
The void knight makes a sour face, resting her fingers against her temple as she takes a sip of her own water. "I... am not your master. And I don't believe that it makes you weak if I fetch you water once in a while.  But if it helps, next time I will sit and you can fetch."

She turns her dark gaze toward the human and attempts a smile, but it's weak even before it turns into a pained grimace as her head throbs.

Her voice is tighter when she asks, "Hook?"

Araatris
Ary blinks as if realizing that she never explained why. "Oh... for my halo. It needs to stay close. I... do you need help? Even drunk I should be able to ease a headache." She continues sipping her water.

Rhoelyn
"Ah, yes. Of course. A hook for your halo is easy enough." Sedra looks around briefly, planning for the effort. Then she tosses back the rest of her water and turns toward Ary. "I think there's no harm in trying, if you don't mind. I just... want to sleep. I've finally gotten tired. It would be nice to have a little relief to try."

Araatris
Finishing her water, Ary sets the glass aside before resting her hand on Sedra's knee again and closing her eyes. Shadows creep around the draenei as Ary concentrates on trying to soothe Sedra's mind. "Try to relax. It'll make it a little easier on me."

Rhoelyn
The eredar nods slightly, closing her eyes as well and taking and releasing a deep breath. Her attempt to relax is a little sabotaged by another twinge, but she tries.

Araatris
Her mind brushes against Sedra's, cool as a refreshing spring. She tilts her head as she searches. She mumbles as she frowns in concern.  "It radiates outward, fraying your senses." The shadows shift, leaving one section vulnerable to ache once again. "Were you cursed or poisoned recently?"

Rhoelyn
Vasedra snorts, even as she breathes a small sigh of relief. "Have you seen me, lately?"

She keeps her head bowed, eyes closed.

Araatris
"Hush and don't be contrary. " Ary replies dryly even as her gentle touch eases the ache. "Your head may still feel a bit thick, but it'll be better for now. I hope it helps you rest." Her shadows withdraw, and she straightens. The young woman glances between Sedra and the bed. "Why don't you take the bed? You sure won't fit the settee." She smirks.

Rhoelyn
The void knight looks at her friend with dark eyes filled with genuine gratitude. "Thank you, Ary. I... think that would be nice. Do you have everything you need? Can your halo be kept close enough?"

Araatris
Ary nods. "Yes, I think I have everything. I finished my water, and I can set my halo on the table here at the end. It should be close enough. Though, I should get a cover from the pack..." She glances about for the bag as she stands, feeling a little more wobbly than she likes.

Rhoelyn
Sedra straightens from the edge of the settee. Cognizant of their discussion about coddling, she only points at the pack Ary dropped atop the workbench and leaves its retrieval to the human. She steps away toward the bed, reaching up to unbuckle her pauldrons and begin the process of getting her armor off.

Araatris
The young woman steps carefully towards the bench, somehow swaying gently as if something fae and wandering. Her hushed voice drifts to Sedra. "I'd forgotten how much the shadows called without my halo." She opens the pack and pulls out the blanket, putting it about her shoulders like a billowing cloak. "They used to be so angry... now I think that they want me to join them. They're louder now. Clearer."

She weaves back to the settee in the same fashion. "The scariest thing is sometimes I almost want to go. I do miss the shadowrealm. The Eclipse..." Her voice drops off as Ary smiles ruefully, almost seeming to talk to herself. "But Eraelan says that I must not listen to them, so he helps me lessen them. That's why I must keep the halo."

Ary sits on the settee, settling the blanket. She asks as if she hasn't spoken at all, "Do you need anything before I rest?"

Rhoelyn
When the human raises her head, it's to find Sedra crouched beside her, suddenly close again and dressed in her tunic and half-unbuckled cuisses over leather breeches. She reaches out a bare hand and clamps it over her friend's forearm, expression intense.

"Never listen. Eraelan is too right about that. The shadows that whisper in your head aren't the same threat as the ones you danced between when you shadowwalked, Ary."

Araatris
The young woman jumps with a small sound of surprise. Ary grimaces, "I know. Eraelan warned me of... of how they'd consume me if I let them."

"I don't know what made me mention that. I must be more drunk than I thought." She pats Sedra's hand with her other hand. "I'll be fine once I rest."

Rhoelyn
The void knight nods and releases Ary as quickly as she grabbed her. She looks away and straightens. "We both will be."

With clicking hoofsteps, she goes back to the bed and sits on the edge, finishing the process of removing her leg armor.

Araatris
Ary curls on up the settee under the blanket and pillowing her head on her arm. "Thank you... for your concern that is." She smiles softly as she closes her eyes.

Rhoelyn
Sedra nods, again, not that Ary can see, and straightens from her seat, pulling the nameless blades from their sheathes. After looking around, she finally frowns a bit and sets them on the workbench beside Ary's pack. They whisper softly when she lets them go, the left one keening sadly as its twin mutters incomprehensibly in a chorus of discordant voices. Sedra shushes them sharply, and they fall silent.

"Mm... we need more than just one hook," she observes softly as Ary drowses, turning back to the bed and unbuckling her sheath belt. Before she sets it aside, she reaches in the pouch attached to it and pulls out the black, serpentine vial within.

With a frown, she glances from it to Ary and back before shoving it back away and hanging her belt across her breastplate on the floor.

"... and an armor stand."

With a soft sigh, she crawls in the bed and curls on her side, dragging the blanket around her.


Rhoelyn
Sometime in the depths of the night, the eredar shifts on the bed, arching back with a groan. Her skin burns and freezes in patches as she restlessly sleeps, covered in a thin sheen of sweat that wets the blanket around her at times and hardens to ice at others.

As the human sleeps not far away, her friend's dreaming mind stretches out through the connection between them, infectious and absorbed by visions...

She finds herself on a winding road, lined with slender trees whose branches reached toward the violet sky above like the gaunt hands of a starving mother pleading for mercy. Two suns, their light pale and washed out, hang above her, and there is no heat or comfort in their presence.

Something draws her, pushes her forward, and as she strides down that road, its cobblestones cracked and rutted, homes made of magic-hewn stone with something macabre and unsettling in their angles begin to line either side of her.

People are in their yards, their gardens, their race one she has never seen before. Tall, willowy, with sharp faces, delicate features, and uptilted almond-shaped eyes. None acknowledge her as she passes by, and she finds herself unable to resist what draws her forward.

The road crests a hill and below, in a small, verdant, valley she finds her gaze pulled to a  familiar massive temple of milk-white stone.

The next few moments become a mixed-up blur. A massive, stunning statue. Offerings of dew-wet and perfect fruit. Flowers. A beautiful, simple woman's face. Screams. Something shifts, at first merely uncomfortably and then sickeningly.


Vasedra thrashes, hooves tangling in the bedsheets and teeth clenched, a sound strangling in the back of her throat.

From somewhere deep in the temple's heart comes a woman's voice pleading and begging with all of a child's simplicity. There is pain there, confusion, terror. Seconds, moments, an eternity and then there is silence.

In that silence she feels a well of power, surging outward from the core of the temple like ripples on a winter-swept pond. Sickening and comforting at the same time, trying to sweep her away with it.

Araatris
Ary groans. The cover tumbles to the ground as her arm flails outward. Sweat beads on her forehead as the dream drags her onward.

Rhoelyn
The eredar near her tenses, an all-too-real ache impinging upon the edges of the dream, blending with the vision's sensation of how that wave of power turns ripping as it swells past, painful in its own imagined right for a moment before it sloughs free and flows away across the land, into the distance.

In her mind she hears the sound of chains, of shackles snapping shut, of whispered, baffled, question. It calls to a memory of another, similar sensation, and for a moment, it all dissolves into an embrace in a mirrored room with a night elven demon hunter, a man of infinite beauty and black tattoos, his hand cupping the back of her head, his cheek pressed to hers. His pleasure is in her mind as she is caught, rocked by the snap of an unseen shackle.

Another shift, more disorienting, and then she stands within the heart of the ivory temple once more, in a room lit by arcane lamps. At its center is an altar and the beautiful girl bound across it, bruised, battered, bloody. She emanates power and, even in this state, there is a luminosity about her, a disheveled peace in her presence.  The chains that pin her down are arcane in make, and they reek of shadow, chaos, and void, of things that should not be.

The girl shifts and lifts her face toward her-


"DON'T!" Vasedra's strangled cry rings through the workshop, and she surges from the bed to her hooves, staggering there as the blanket drips around her legs. For one heartbeat, her black eyes blink at the room around her, blank and pained and feverish, and then she collapses to the floor.

Araatris
Shadows hover over the floor like fog as Ary sits up gasping. She looks around wildly, unseeing, but searching for danger.

It takes several shuddering breaths before her eyes settle on Sedra, and she stands, stumbling towards her friend. "S-sedra..."

Rhoelyn
The void knight curls on her side in her tunic and breeches, her left hand splayed across the deck as she presses against it, straining and shaking. Her gaze lifts toward Ary at the human's voice, but her dark eyes are glazed and she quickly grimaces and drops her head once more, muttering something under her breath.

The nameless blades chortle and mutter to match her tone, low-voiced over on the workbench.

Araatris
Ary snaps, "Silent!" Her shadows wrapping the blades. She drops to her knees in front of her friend. "Silence..." Her shadows deepen around them, blocking out the soft lights. "We must find silence."

Rhoelyn
Sedra's shaking hands reach for her friend, grasping weakly. Her thoughts are spread wide open and equally grasping, a dreamy unreality blanketing her perception and shoving against Ary's as she slides through a fevered chaos of thoughts and moments and sights. The ache of her body is just a vague undercurrent compared to the rest.

Araatris
The young woman grasps Sedra's hands. "C-control it. You're... broadcasting." Ary attempts to dampen the rampant dream.

She grimaces as her own whispers press into her mind as she pushes the range of her halo. "Quickly. I can't stay here long..."

Rhoelyn
"S-s... silence," the eredar manages a thready whisper in echo, her gasping breaths slowing as her fingers grasp Ary's. "Control it..."

The shadows suddenly clench around them, her power weaving with Ary's as it has done on the battlefield in the past and turning the shroud of darkness into a bubble of black in which everything goes still...

"...and quiet... a-and... cl... osed."

Araatris
Ary folds over, pressing her forehead to Sedra. "Y-yes. Like that... keep going..."

Rhoelyn
"You need..." Sedra's whisper takes on a dreamy, distant tone, and she sags. "Not this now..."

After a few ragged breaths, her hands clench tighter around her friend's. "... thirst."

Araatris
"I need? Thirst? What are you saying, Sedra?" Her voice raises in worried exasperation. "Something's wrong, but I can't..." She groans again. "... can't seem to fix it."

Rhoelyn
"I hurt," the eredar whispers almost calmly, stilling like a thing resigned, and rolling to her back.

A voice from memory echoes into the silence of their shadow cocoon, darkly threatening, promising and seductive, venom and honey. "You will thirst for what only I can provide. You will hunger. You will drink again and again."

Araatris
Ary feels the echoes of pain rolling off Vasedra and lays her forehead on the floor with a soft gasp. "Who is that voice? Did he make you drink something?"

Rhoelyn
"Heartsblood," Sedra mumbles before gritting her teeth through a shuddering wave of aches. When it wanes, her dark gaze falls on her friend, partly clear, and she frees one unsteady hand to rest it on Ary's hair. "... I thirst. Sorrow's warnings... are always too subtle... for me."

Araatris
The small human's curses are muffled, but the intent is easy to read. She turns her face slight, breathing heavily as if she'd been running. "Addiction... I... I don't think I can help that. It'd be superficial at best."

Rhoelyn
As the bubble of silence helps her thoughts drag freer of the dream, leaving only the haze of feverish pain and the strain of holding it, the void knight brushes her fingers along her friend's hair before she pulls them away and forces her shaking arms under her, trying to push up to sitting on her hip. She looks around, first at the empty floor by her hands and Ary's head, then back along her legs toward her hooves.

"T-the serpent... is... where is the serpent Sorrow gave me? I couldn't... let it bite me, then... not in front of everyone..."

Araatris
Ary shakes her head. "I don't know." She clenches her teeth and forces herself up first to straighten on her knees, then attempting to stand. "Check your pouches and bag. I... have to get back to the halo. I cannot deal with both of these at the moment. Not with how you're broadcasting. Not with our connection." The human takes a wobbling step back towards the settee.

Rhoelyn
Sedra nods slightly and the shadows around them loosen, the bubble of suppression widening and weakening slowly as the chaos clamors for attention. Her head droops, and she sinks back to her elbows, fists clenching, to gather in her wits and her will once more as pain rolls through her.

Though it's slight, the connection starts to close down, so the thoughts seeking out the memory of where she put the serpent vial are only a whisper, ghostly images on the edge of both their senses.

Araatris
The young woman grabs the halo from small table, placing it so it hovers behind her head. She takes a moment's respite, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, before standing straight and striding to Sedra's stuff. "Where do you think you put it? A pouch? That's seems more likely than your bag."

Rhoelyn
With a little nod, instantly regretted, the eredar mutters, "Pouch."

She bites her lip rather than give in to the urge to answer the half-seen shadow at the edge of her senses that scolds her for hurting her friend, but she glances up with an expression between remorse and annoyance.

Araatris
Ary glances over her shoulder and sighs. "Don't look like that. I'm working through my own headache right now. I'm hurrying as fast as I can." True to her word, she's shuffling through Sedra's pouch until she pulls out a vial. She peers at it as if confirming what it was for herself and holds it up for Sedra's review. "Is this your... serpent?"

Rhoelyn
Sedra peers up at the object in the human's hands, her dark eyes narrowing as she squints at the serpent-shaped vial. The glass is so dark that the contents cannot be seen, though the surface of the vial itself seems to smoke and shift, especially in the void knight's compromised vision.

"Yes," she manages to mutter, pushing herself more upright. She grits her teeth and doesn't reach for it or Ary, clenching her fists.

Araatris
Walking over to Sedra, Ary crouches before her friend. Her expression flickers with sadness before she can stop it. "What a mess you've gotten yourself into. He's pulling you away one command at a time." She stares at the vial. "And I can't stop the things he does. You must make your choices. Drink or not drink. Whose flag to bear? Netherbane... Malfias... this Bloodbinder's?"

Ary runs a hand through her hair, and it falls from the messy ponytail, long vibrant locks tumbling against her shoulders. "I know you'll serve me, but please take care. If Eraelan and Tharion need to raise their blades again..." She sighs. "You know all this. A lecture will not end your pain."

She sets the vial on the floor in front of the eredar. "You are my friend, Vasedra. Having recently been under the thrall of a demon lord... perhaps I have no room to judge, but this... I don't like to see you like this." Ary pushes to her feet. "I think the price you paid was too great."

"Let us get back to resting. My head aches from my own mistakes and this." Ary smirks to try and lessen the sting of her words.

Rhoelyn
Sedra looks up at Ary, brow furrowed as she grasps for the serpent vial, clenching it against her chest. After a long, silent minute, she clenches her teeth and levers herself to her hooves, leaning heavily on the edge of the bed. Her forehead beads with sweat, an unfamiliar look for her.

"We... agree." She sighs to herself and glances down at the vial before she starts the slow process of shoving herself toward the iris door, leaning on things as necessary. With each step, she manages to close off more and more of the pain leaking out of her, shuttering slowly.

"I'm sorry that... I've hurt your head, Ary. It won't happen again. Get some rest."

Araatris
"Did I say that you needed to leave?" Ary crosses her arms as she sits on the settee. "You'd better be heading back to the bed there." She tucks her loose hair behind one ear. "Please?"

Rhoelyn
The void knight pauses and turns back to her friend, resting a hand on the repaired shelves. They wobble precariously under her weight for a moment - perhaps not so well repaired.

"Ary, the last time I drank this, I lost two days and woke up in... i-in an un...expected place." Sedra winces and glances away, and a moment of memory escapes through the link she's trying to close down. A soft bed, warmth shifting away from her back. The cool, soft touch of silk and a breath against her skin.

Startled, her eyes widen at the slip, and she continues in a rush, "So of course I'm not going to stay here and risk endangering you."

Araatris
Ary swallows hard at the memory and she looks slightly away. "I... see. However, if there is danger perhaps we should look at a way to keep you safe. What if you react badly and need help? I'm not so annoyed that I'd wish you ill."

Rhoelyn
Sedra tries not to breathe heavily, closing her eyes briefly as she stays where she is. "Ary... how? I am a blade, remember?" Her attempt at a grin is weak. "I am usually... dangerous, especially if I'm not in control of myself."

Araatris
"Perhaps a mostly empty room without your weapons? Surely that would make you less dangerous. I could check on you then." Ary suggests evenly. "It'd be the best option."

Rhoelyn
The struggle to think is quite real and evident, but finally her friend lifts her dark eyes from the corner of the room and says, "The Atrium. The repairs are complete enough... to hold me without my weapons... And there is shielding. No... more headaches."

Araatris
Ary nods. "It's a large space. How will I check on you?"

Rhoelyn
Sedra sighs softly and rests her forehead against the shelf brace. Again, it rocks precariously.

"There is a control ... panel. Y-you remember? If you can... give it the right commands... it will show you where t-the lifeforms within the Atrium are."

Araatris
"Then let us go before your mind leaks again." The young woman grabs Sedra's arm, and she tugs her toward the door.

Rhoelyn
"A-Ary..." The void knight lodges a surprised protest as she stumbles beside the little human, and as the iris door slips open for them, the nameless blades lodge their own, keening and chattering into the room until Sedra glances back. They fall silent once more as the door slips shut, and she meekly follows where Ary pulls, concentrating mostly on not complaining and managing to put one hoof in front of the other without falling on her face.

After a bit, Sedra randomly chuckles and mutters, "...the tables have turned."

Araatris
The young woman snorts. "Well, I can't carry you. I'm certain that would end in a disaster. It's not much further." She grimaces. "I suppose this was a unique way to sober up."

Ary turns down another hall, glancing around to make sure she's on the right path.

Rhoelyn
Her friend winces and says softly, "It truly won't happen again. I didn't... know." She trips a bit and catches herself against the wall. "Do you... think I'd change things if I didn't drink this? I'm not sure... that I'd survive."

Araatris
Ary stops cold and turns to look at Sedra. "It might change things, but it's ridiculous to think about not drinking something this addictive without a healer nearby to cleanse you. It'll put too much stress on your body. Do as you need for now. We can look into other options later."

She huffs and scowls. "He obviously wants to make sure you keep coming back for more." The young woman tugs at Sedra's wrist again. "Come on. It won't get better while we talk." She continues toward a familiar doorway down the hall.

Rhoelyn
Vasedra nods and follows her to the Atrium's tall, transparent wall, looking through at the plants and trees and grasses still growing within, oblivious to the Soul Cleaver's change of venue. The hole that was once blasted in the far right wall within the space is patched with scavenged panels, a relatively smooth job that preserves the environmental integrity.

"I like this place," the void knight admits in a slightly slurred voice. She rests a palm flat against the window, black eyes searching the white-lit interior.

Araatris
Chuckling, Ary inclines her head in agreement before stepping over to the door and keying a sequence to open it. "Why don't you go in and enjoy it while you take your... vial? I can keep watch on you from out here and ensure that you don't come to any harm." The door slides open with a soft whoosh, and the red-headed woman gestures inside.

Rhoelyn
The eredar looks at her friend, wincing. Her already-flushed cheeks only darken. "You... you really intend to stay? You should go back to sleep. Get some water..."

Araatris
The human waves dismissively. "Later. I can't sleep until this headache fades anyway. Water, however, I'll fetch and return if you seem well enough. Now, this hasn't come up, but how do I lock these doors? It might be a prudent option." Ary peers more closely at the pad by the door.

Rhoelyn
"They ... automatically lock from the other side." Sedra sighs and clutches the vial to her as she rests her temple against the cool, clear wall, her horn clicking against the strange material. "You'll need to temporarily disable my access to prevent my override." She pauses and makes a sour face. "...And hope I'm too... out of it to get determined about getting it open."

With effort, she pushes herself to the console and starts tapping a few commands.

Araatris
Ary hmms to herself. "That makes sense. You wouldn't want anything in there getting out unless you were with it. Are you disabling your own access now?" She takes the few steps to the console and watches the eredar work.

Rhoelyn
Sedra nods and then regrets it, stilling until her head ceases its stab. "I won't be able to get out." She doesn't conceal what she's doing, altering her ident permissions in the system. With the last tap of the fel-glowing display, she steps toward the doorway.

The eredar turns to face her friend, opening her mouth, but hesitating over whatever she was inclined to say next. She looks away back through the door, clenching her free fist.

Araatris
"Do you need something before you go in? You don't have to worry about not getting out. I'll be here to let you out later." Ary sighs. "You know I wouldn't leave you in there longer just to spite you, I hope. Even if I'm not enthused about the way I woke up."

Rhoelyn
Sedra takes a deep breath and manages a little smirk. "I... wasn't worried about it until you brought it up."

Her expression sobers. "I am learning, Ary... about this new... situation. I'm sorry that I dragged you into it, tonight." The void knight doesn’t look at her friend, her gaze slipping off into the Atrium.

Araatris
Ary sighs and tugs her long hair over one shoulder as she thinks about how she should answer. "Sedra, you're not the only one going through changes. I'm deeper into the shadows than I intended to be. That does not come without its own changes and challenges. We will need to be understanding of one another." She looks at her friend. "If I am blunt, it is because I'm your friend." She sighs and grimaces. "As far as dragging me into it, that is... unavoidable when you're attached to others. I'm sure it's one of the reasons that Eraelan counsels against it. People and emotions can be used against you."

Rhoelyn
"They can also work for you." The void knight raises pained eyes toward her friend, reaching out to snag the end of her sleeve. "When you need me... you have me." She pauses, curling around an ache before she forces herself straight.

"As when I needed you... I had you. Were I like your master, who... would have existed to pick up the breadcrumbs Sedrai's piece managed to lay? Who would have... set everything in motion to stop who I was?" Sedra sighs and blinks, pressing a hand to her head as she grimaces. "I'm rambling. I should go."

Araatris
The human smiles, a much more gentle expression that she usually uses. "Sedra, in some ways I'm much more like Tharion than Eraelan. Still, it is a good idea to be cautious. I'm fairly certain everyone except Poeryth thought I was crazy for chasing after you." She chuckles. "Go on. Our worries will keep til later. They always do." Ary nudges her friend toward the door.

Rhoelyn
Once again, the woman nods and instantly regrets it, grimacing as she turns away and stumbles into the Atrium. She only glances back once as the door slides shut behind her, and then she makes her way to the trees, setting herself with her back against a particularly odd-looking one with a fleshy grey-violet trunk. Sedra finds a position that mostly hides her from Ary's view, but gives the human a glimpse of her arm and shoulder and perhaps an ear and horn. It's enough to be proof of life, if little else.

And then she pulls the serpentine vial away from her chest and stares at it for a long, trembling moment before she starts to pry free the cork.

Araatris
Ary settles in for a possibly long watch in a nearby chair.