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Get ready.

The End of Brennen Rivers ((January 2007))

Posted on 2007.09.05 at 10:38
LOCATION: Western Plaguelands
CONDITION: uncaged
SOUNDS: The Mars Volta - "Day of the Baphomets"
DAY OF THE BAPHOMETS





"... [T]he gods pit the sentient beings against one another in the ultimate natural struggle for domination of this planet. The only solution, the only way to end the struggle once and for all, and bring peace to the land, is to unify the world under a single, all-powerful entity, most likely by way of force. Once the world bows to only one master, the turmoil will cease, and social harmony will prevail throughout the land of the sentient races.
"Whether or not you accept this philosophy as the gods' truth, know this: you will inevitably have to take a side, whether you want to or not, if you wish to survive to see the end." --unknown



"Farewell, 'Brennen Rivers'."

Maybe watched as his small procession of demon riders and felguards converged upon the frail looking undead girl slumped down on her knees in the road ahead. The girl made no move to escape or even acknowledge the malevolent force careening noisily toward her. The ground shook as the demons made a circle around Brennen, the riders reaching her first and moving past and around her to flank as the felguards came barreling down the center.

Brennen could no longer be seen as the demons closed in, obscuring her from view. Maybe wore a terrible, sinister grin that contorted his thin human face into something less than human. One of the felguards groaned, a deep, grating roar that was followed by a spurt of dark, shimmering blood into the air.

Then a felguard's massive arm flew twisting out of the mob, hitting the ground with a loud thud and tumbling through the dust of the road before settling just a few meters away from where Maybe stood.

The whole scene became a blur, as a handful of felguards became airborne, seeming to hang suspended above the ground before their bodies came apart in a thick, putrid mess of flesh and oily fluid. Their pieces also tumbled back across the landscape, as if blown out by an explosion. The fel riders were thrown from their steeds as the horses fell in on themselves, gore and luminescent fluid pouring out below them and igniting in bright green fire, burning the horses as the they bellowed in their death throes.

She was visible now, and Maybe gazed upon Brennen's form once more. He had not moved, and the smile had not left his face. Through the carnage he focused only on her, taking in the wonders of her transformation. For the moment she was once again stationary, though the air seemed to ripple where she had been, disturbed. The sound of rushing wind was audible now as the moans and gurgles of the dying demons subsided. Brennen herself was a sight to behold, her entire body drenched in the dark, almost black blood of the felguards. Her face was illuminated as bright green flames scorched out of her eye sockets and licked the sides and back of her head like some magical backdraft. The long, slender swords she held in each hand swirled with a similar green light. In an odd contrast to the rest of her body, the glowing blades of her swords did not appear to be stained with blood.

The horsemen, mostly unscathed, drew their weapons and hesitated at the sight of their attacker. The remaining felguards, however, did not hesitate, and charged recklessly at the bloodied girl. She seemed to settle onto the ground, as if she had not actually been standing on it before but above it, and as she turned to face the new threat, her footfalls seemed to raise a light green mist from the ground. Her body slick with glimmering black and her eyes and weapons aflame with magical energies, she looked much like a demon herself, small and thin, but appearing no less dangerous for her size.

Brennen seemed to step off the ground, and as the mist rose from where she stood, the lines of her frame seemed to blur. a second later she collided with the nearest felguard, with the unimaginable force necessary to send the felguard toppling back in the direction from which it came. She used the first felguard as a springboard to throw herself at another. The second felguard was just starting to slow its lumbering forward momentum and turn to face the threat that was now behind him when Brennen scraped across its bare chest, digging her blades in deep to both slow herself and tear the massive demon open. Swinging around, she kicked the demon in its fel-scarred face, sending more green mist into the air around the felguard's head. She jumped off from its face, which seemed to sizzle and glimmer as if burned, and tore her blades from its torso. Landing gracefully in front of the giant demon, she turned her attention to the last felguard as the one behind her crumpled to the ground. In the time it took for the area to stop trembling from the fall of the massive felguard, it trembled again as Brennen fell the last one.

And then she turned upon the tentatively approaching fel soldiers.

All the while Maybe stood where he had been, looking on with morbid fascination as his demonic bodyguards were torn apart with ease. The entire execution took on the form of some gruesome ballet in his mind, the girl a surreal dancer, performing flawless leaps, turns and pirouettes as she dropped one demon after another in a shower of red as twirling, elegant patterns of gore decorated the stage. Maybe found the performance almost mesmerizing. When the thick mist of blood in the air finally settled and Brennen was again visible, her bright, flaming eyes gazing directly at him, he applauded.

"Bravo! Wonderful! Simply spectacular!" Maybe cheered, his eyes glinting with a look of insanity. "So I see you've finally given up your body to the Gods Of Old. How does it feel to have so much power, at the cost of what little innocence you still may have possessed?"

An off-white crescent spread across Brennen's dark, blood-stained face as she grinned at Maybe. When she spoke, there was a disturbance in her voice that made her sound different than before, louder, more forceful. "Innocence? If I am not real, what does it matter how innocent I am? I am merely a tool for destruction, as you said. But I am not your tool anymore, and your words have no influence upon my feelings or behavior." She paused, as if for effect. "I'm afraid I no longer have a use for you," she mocked.

Maybe's face remained that of a brazen, crazed madman, but he visibly took one step back. "And so you'll kill me, with the powers of your chained up Old God at your disposal, just as you had always intended to." Brennen started slowly forward, blades at her sides, and Maybe crossed his arms behind his back. "And what will you do after you have destroyed me, hm? Will you simply become another of the Old God's slaves for eternity?"

"What else?" she responded, neither stopping nor slowing her advance, "there are many things that must be done. You, the Snake, must die, and then my Master's other wayward servant shall also soon perish. I am the tool with which He shall execute His will upon this world."

"So you have forgotten the lengths to which you have gone to free your mind and soul from bondage? That suddenly does not matter to you?"

"My will is not my own."

"So it would seem."

"Enough." Brennen brought her blades to bear meters from where Maybe casually stood. She increased her stride, stepping over fel body parts as she readied her weapons to deliver a swift, deadly blow to the sorcerer, before he would have a chance to counter her with a spell. It looked as if this strategy would end up being successful.

As magic usually went, however, looks were deceiving. As Brennen leapt at Maybe, he pulled his hands out from behind his back, and threw them in front of his face. But what first appeared to be a defensive block turned out to be something more as Maybe's hands pulsed in a bright, pale blue light. As Brennen was nearly in attack range, Maybe clenched his fingers into claws and wrenched his arms apart, as if tearing a veil from his face.

Maybe's eyes and hands began to emit an unnatural green light, and at the end of his gesture he stepped aside, and let Brennen tumble awkwardly past him and through the dust behind him. Her eyes and blades had lost their brilliant fiery aura, and Brennen herself did not appear to have the brilliant sheen her body had possessed only moments before. Instead, it was Maybe who now possessed these features.

"My dear 'Little Flame'," Maybe began, turning to face Brennen as he curiously examined his glowing green hands, "you make it too easy. Hm, just as it was in the ruins of Ahn'Qiraj, the first time I stole your god-given power."

Brennen grunted, rolling over and pulling herself to her feet as quickly as she could. "So it was you that day, in the Cultist robes," she said, her voice shuddering.

"Yesss," Maybe hissed. He now looked Brennen over, seeming to note with amusement in his face her sudden change in appearance. "You suddenly look tired, child. Weak. Without this power you haven't a prayer against me."

Brennen rolled back her shoulders, balancing herself and standing as upright as she was able. She shook her head quickly, blinking her eyes as if her thoughts were clearing. Whatever force or personality that had siezed her before had vanished. "Dammit..."

"Yes, you were again possessed, by your laughable god C'thun," Maybe gloated. "See how easy you are to control? If not by me, then by some insufferable lesser deity buried deep beneath the earth, or any number of others with stronger minds than a puppet could hope to possess."

Brennen growled. "What is your game, Maybe?" she snarled, her voice once again normal but laced with fury. "When I heard that there were elves in the North that had discovered an easy way to harness the Light, I knew I'd find you on your way there. After all, you said you had found a new source of pure magic after I destroyed the red stone. So just what do you intend to do with it?"

Maybe smiled thoughtfully. "Clever little puppet. Yes, and I'm sure you were curious about the demons travelling with me, weren't you? Well, I'll not disappoint. They were my honor guard, sent by the Legion after the Dark Portal was reopened. I was left here after the War to prepare this world for their return, and to take our revenge upon the races of Azeroth. Within the red stone resided purity, but there is another stone, and it dwells inside me. This stone is charged with the energy of unholy souls, fit to burst. When I unite these two powerful forces in ritual, the results will be catastrophic."

"That's ridiculous," Brennen barked.

Maybe raised his eyebrows at her. "You may think so. You may think me insane, and you may be correct. However, all of my efforts, my ambitious experiments and heinous acts over the past five years have been in preparation for this. I do not serve myself either, puppet. I am a servant of the Legion." Maybe paused, his smile expanding to a grin, and he licked the edges of his teeth in an unseemly gesture. "Although, unlike you, I do enjoy my job. And I often mix my business with pleasure."

"You're disgusting."

"Why, thank you. Now let's end this banter, and move on to the part where I turn you inside out and ring you like a wet rag. Your Old God's power is nothing to the might of the Legion, but it has its uses." Maybe extended one hand, and bolts of green lightning shot out and scorched the ground where Brennen had stood. She managed to leap out of the way, and ran a wide arc around the fiend.

"What sort of a name is Maybe?!" Brennen shouted as she dove behind a large but precariously positioned rock.

"Stalling for time won't save you," Maybe shouted back in a gleefully sing-song tone. "Though it is indeed an interesting story. 'Maybe' is an obvious pseudonym, which I first used to agitate a pair of similarly named nuisances. I like it though," he commented, turning to the rock Brennen had ducked behind, his eyes beginning to flare and shift in color. "It tends to aptly represent the enigma of my existence."

The rock was suddenly blown to pieces as a superheated red light beam shot from Maybe's shining eyes. Brennen sprinted out of hiding just before the last of her cover had been vaporized, making an arc around the mad sorcerer. He tracked her path around the arc with his head and eyes, and shot off another bright red blast, which managed to singe Brennen's armor before she tumbled head first down a nearby hill.

"Would you call me human? Undead? Demon? Inhuman monster? In truth, I have been all of these things. Maybe I am all of these things still. Maybe I am something entirely new." Maybe concluded his speech, and then strolled over to the slope off the road down which his prey had disappeared. Maybe lifted himself into the air, and gently touched ground at the foot of the hill, looking around nonchalantly. The area off the path was sparsely forested. "Running and hiding will do you no good. Give up this cat and mouse game, and perhaps you will find me more willing to be a merciful executioner."

"You can't hold out forever," Brennen cried out from somewhere within the forest. "I can see how you've changed since last time. That magic drains the life from you because it isn't yours, and you won't be able to fight like this forever."

Maybe lifted his palms into the air and let out a hearty cackle, the movement exposing the frame of his frail, withered body wrapped in a dark, tight-fitting cassock. Brennen took this as an opportunity and dove out from hiding behind one of the trees, lining up an enormous rifle and firing dead-on at Maybe's chest.

The shot was deflected by a burst of green electricity. Abruptly, as the metal from the shot began to scatter, Maybe's chest opened up to reveal a great, inhuman eye. The eye glowed dimly red, but even as the lightning around Maybe's body settled, Brennen could see that light was beginning to grow brighter.

Brennen ran.

She could see the edge of Lake Darrowmere in the distance before she heard the blast go off. Brennen hit the ground as a great red light scorched over her, burning her back. Her leather armor was sizzling, but she herself was mostly unharmed by the blast. When she rolled back into a crouch and looked behind her, Maybe was closer than she had expected him to be, dangerously so.

Brennen broke into a run for the lake's shore, turning back as she leapt over a small ridge to hurl her gun at Maybe. The gun had a wicked blade fixed to the bottom of its barrel, so she threw it as if it were a giant axe. It went spinning off back into the forest as she turned her attention from it. After Brennen touched down on the beach below the ridge she heard a hard crack. The gun flew over her head, in pieces, and landed in the murky, polluted lake ahead of her.

Crouching within the shadow of the rocky ridge, Brennen paused, searching the beach with her eyes. Somewhere on the tainted northern shores of Darrowmere she had left behind the one weapon capable of stopping Maybe.

She desperately needed to find it, and soon, because she had nowhere else to hide.

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