Dying of the light

I haven’t talked about this much, but ever since Cromush and his people recovered that light crystal fragment from Southshore a few weeks ago, I’ve been in contact with Liadrin about it.  At first I let her hold it for safekeeping, since she was there from the get-go, and she seemed to have a better handle on what it was and what it can do than any of the rest of us.  Since then, she’s kept it with her up in Quel’thalas.

Not long after I handed it off to her, she brought it with her on one of her trips up to the Sunwell, so she could compare it with the holy energy radiating from the Sunwell ever since it was reignited by M’uru’s spark.  She says the two have basically the same feel, only that the fragment isn’t as potent.  Liadrin is pretty much convinced that the original dark crystal was the spark of a dying naaru, which the Knights of the Silver Hand partially restored by pouring holy magic into it.  Which means, now, that she believes the fragment she’s holding is a piece of a naaru’s soul.

Liadrin contacted me earlier this week and said she thinks that rather than holding the fragment, we should return it to the naaru, since it’s basically the spiritual remains of one of their own.  At first I wasn’t so sure about this – considering what we’d seen these crystals do, they could be incredibly useful against the Scourge or any other undead threats that might come along.  But then I got to thinking about what she says the fragment actually is – and, more importantly, thinking about the reason I was hesitant to give it up: basically I’d be saying we should hold the spirit of a once-living being captive, to leverage as a weapon against our enemies, rather than letting its kin lay it to rest, or do whatever they do with their dead.

I’ve been on the other side of that scenario.  Not long ago.  And I may be a lot of things, but I outright refuse to become THAT.

So, I ended up agreeing to her suggestion.  Liadrin said the best option was to bring the fragment to A’dal himself, and she invited me to go with her for the trip.  So yesterday morning I met up with her and had one of our mages portal us directly to Shattrath.

It wasn’t the first time I’d been to Shat, obviously, but usually when I’d gone there, I’d passed through fairly quickly.  I never really stopped in at the Terrace of Light or met A’dal before.  Liadrin took it as an occasion to give me a proper introduction – I think she kind of enjoyed showing off the fact that she on semi-kinda-sorta-friendly terms with our big glowy friend Captain Chandelier – and play up what a valuable “ally of the Light” I’d become, whatever the hell that means.

Liadrin did most of the talking.  She approached A’dal, got out the crystal fragment, and started giving the short version of where we’d gotten it.  Every so often she would pause for a minute, then go on talking some more.  Seemed like she was having a conversation, only I was hearing just one side of it.  She’d warned me beforehand that A’dal communicates through telepathy rather through actual audible sound, so I understood what was going on, but knowing in advance didn’t stop it from being a little unnerving to watch.

Still, watching it wasn’t nearly as unnerving as EXPERIENCING it.  After Liadrin ran through the story of what happened to us in old Southshore, I started to…well, “hear” isn’t the right word exactly, but I don’t really have a better one.  So…I started to hear this echoing, musical chiming in my head, strange and soothing all at once.  Then a calm voice forming words – except, as an echo, almost.  It was like I THOUGHT of the words myself, as if I were reading them, only without there actually being a book there to read, and then AFTER I already had the words in my mind, just by half a second, THEN the voice would echo them, flowing through my thoughts like a river.

Like I said, Liadrin had warned me about this, but no amount of warning could really prepare you for what it’s like.  I wonder if anyone ever really gets used to it.  A’dal echoed some words of thanks into my head, and a few other comments about it being good that I finally came to meet him, that he’d been aware of my passing my passing passing gnas my eh passing aware emit passing ot edo passing of latrommi na of emit ot edo na ni secalp rieht ot sevlesmeht hcatta youre ot welf dna sdrow elbahsirepmi etihw drah meht gnikam sih the tuohtiw enalp a morf sgnivahs ekil sllehs ekil llef spil boss sih morf dna mih revo sehcir sti deruop ksuh sti tilps emit drow stone eht aizer stone dias cracking stone emit cracking si cracking ti cracking cracking stone cracking stone while the floor shook under us.  Shatari guards raced across the Terrace to hold the breach, only to have half their number immediately taken out by a shadow volley.  As they fell, a demonic laugh echoed through the chamber – another thunderous crack, and an enormous chunk of the wall crumbled away.

From the other side of the fallen wall, Doom Lord Kazzak stepped into the Terrace.  As he took his first step in, he lashed the Warblade of Archimonde through a dozen more Sha’tari guardians, slaying them immediately, and he let out another laugh as he fed off their deaths to swell up that much larger.  Dozens of doomguards and man’ari rushed into the Temple from behind Kazzak.  Beyond the walls all I could see was smoke and flame.  Screaming voices came from every direction.

Liadrin tore through a wave of demons with a Divine Storm – barely even taking notice of them as she plowed through – and I took down a few myself with a whirlwind while we both closed in on Kazzak.  He deflected a few of our blows with his blade, while some of them glanced off his legs without seeming to hurt him much.  All the while I could hear a sound, higher and higher pitched, bubbling up in my mind, flowing and piercing all at once, coming from everywhere and nowhere.  I took another swing at Kazzak, then looked over my shoulder.

A’dal was turning to face the Doom Lord.  All the times I’d been here, I’d never seen him move before.  But there he was, turning, rising, floating toward the fight, that white glow around him growing larger and brighter.  And then that musical, liquid voice echoing my thoughts back at me.

It is not your time.  Go.  Now.  Leave this place, and never return.

A blinding flash of white and yellow swelled out from A’dal and burst over part of Kazzak’s body.  The demon lord recoiled, and you could see half the flesh from one arm and shoulder and part of his face had been burned away by the holy light.  Kazzak bellowed angrily and lashed his blade into A’dal.  The naaru lurched back and you could hear a harsh crystalline chiming from his body – then he straightened himself and unleashed another blinding burst of white light around himself and Kazzak, this time leaving most of the demon’s body burned and scarred, muscle and sinew exposed.

Kazzak reared back and screamed out in pain, letting loose another shadow volley that knocked me back and left another dozen or so Sha’tari troops lifeless on the ground.  Kazzak burst into that booming laugh as he fed off the souls of the fallen.  He swelled up larger again, some of his wounds regenerating, and, growling angrily, he lunged at A’dal, tearing his Warblade through the heart of his crystalline shape – which shook, buckled, and finally…cracked.

The screaming in my mind was the most awful thing I’ve never heard.

The shattered pieces of A’dal spun in place, pulsing, as he started to glow even brighter.  Liadrin rushed to his side while Kazzak stepped back, shielding his eyes with his arm.  Finally the white glow erupted as broken crystal fragments split and scattered around the temple, strewn in every direction in the wake of a shimmering white shockwave that knocked Liadrin and me back.

I pulled myself together and ran over to check on her.  She was sprawled out on her back, eyes wide with shock.  Before I could offer my hand, she’d pulled herself up, staring across the room at Kazzak while muttering “He…he…”  She steadied herself, tightened her grip on the Ashbringer, then screamed out as she charged at the Doom Lord, her back glowing with holy wings while her eyes glowed with murderous rage murderous rage rage sllaf murderous emit rage glowed tnemides rage emos htiw rage with yvaeh ssalg with a morf sllaf pord a sa tniop a ot srepat youre emit tnadnep semoceb yaddim ta dleif a sa daerpsediw si hcihw the emit thgil gnicnad a htiw derevoc erutsap ynnus a si boss hcihw emit tniop a ot gnirepat emit si gnillaf pord siht htuoy ym gnisol htiw od ot gnihton times sah ton times si trying times gnillaf trying pord trying siht trying trying times trying times, he said, he had hope that I would see them through.  I wasn’t sure what to say back – can’t say I’d ever had an actual conversation with my own head before – so I just sort of nodded and thanked him, and by this point Liadrin looked to be ready to go, so we gave the big guy a last respectful bow and turned to leave.

As we were about to exit the Terrace, I heard – felt? – that chiming, flowing sound swelling up in my thoughts again.  It was A’dal offering a final thought, calling me by name as if it could be anyone else’s head he was reaching into.  One last sentence came echoing back to me, then silence.

If you go to Kypari Zar, you will die.

I have no idea what that was supposed to mean.  That is, other than the obvious.  I get the dying part.  But I’ve got no idea what the hell “Kypari Zar” is, or why I would go there, or how I’m supposed to make sure I don’t.  Mostly, though, I’m really starting to get sick of people being all fucking cryptic.

I started to ask Liadrin about it, but she stopped me and said what A’dal chooses to share with anyone is for that person alone.  Fat lot of good that does me, right?  Oh well.  Not going to lose sleep over it now.  I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it.

More soon.

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