She clutched at her face as she staggered backward, blood seeping between her fingers. Ulthanon stood completely dumbfounded. He barely had the time to wonder what had struck her before the shimmer rolled over the world again, washing it in a deeper blue than before. The air came more difficult to his lungs, parts of his vision again bubbled to an even greater extreme, and his body shivered with the cold despite the sweat dripping off his body. The air felt thick around him, pressed against him this way and that, moving him as if it were a current.
When Alai’hara looked up, her face smeared crimson, the shimmer did not fade. She seemed different, her eyes- it was her eyes that seemed changed. Her nose jutted awkwardly to the side, an affront to her otherwise pristine face, and a gash ran from her nostril to just below her eye. She stood haltingly, uneasily, unable to regain her balance or composure.
But none of this made any sense. Her shield had held up to his spear; the only thing he’d done since then was…
His eyes flicked between his mother and the fallen statue- right where the butt of his spear had been driven into the stone was where her own nose had been fractured.
No fucking way.
They locked eyes for a moment- mother and son, sorceress and hunter- and for that fraction of a beat, he was sorry that it had come to this.
But then the moment passed, and through the blood stinging her eyes, Alai’hara brought her hands up one last time, calling whatever power she had left. Her son, in turn, flipped his spear over and drove it down into the stone. The rock offered surprisingly little resistance, and he sunk the shaft to its length.
His mother crumpled like discarded parchment, and all at once, the shimmer came thundering through the world, no longer just a trick of the light but now a tidal wave that cast aside the fallen buildings and shattered roads like the shadows they were. In a heartbeat the wave washed over them, and they were back in the cave of the lightless depths, face to face with their mother’s serpentine body hanging even more lifeless than when they had come. Ulthanon’s spear jutted out from under her eye, and as her sickly blood billowed into the water, the very earth itself shook.
The haze immediately fell upon his mind, the same blurriness that he had seen the world through when they had visited the edges of the world, the unexplored places. Now he could hear his brother’s voice echoing up from whatever nightmare past Alai’hara had pulled them into; now the ceiling of the cave bulged out as a great and terrible mouth, larger still than both naga, and engulfed them both with a terrible gnashing and grinding; now he and Sha’tuan were swimming at breakneck speed, blindly retracing what they hoped their path had been as the cave collapsed behind them in an advancing shower of earthen teeth and dead, stone eyes. And then there was a great rush of water, a speed unmatched, bubbles all around him, up, up, up…
And there was light…
And there was air…
"I'm proposin' the same deal we had with Uthas: But this time, instead o'joinin' forces, we gather as many o'our folk as we can an' see if we can stop from slaughterin' each other."
The words drifted up to him like smoke and just as ephemerally. More words, more wind, a breeze to carry himself away on. Shattrath, came the thought, and a moment after it, Bittertongue. Hell of a bender, to wind up in the Crater City, but at least he came around during something interesting. But Bittertongue doesn't practice his speeches- no no, his particular brand of eloquence is entirely, shall we say, off the cuff. But that begs the question, who exactly is his cuff offing at?
"Another peace summit? Like the Plaugefather and the priestess? What will make this one work?"
The deader? Davien?
That idiot is trying to bring a peace with the Eye?
He'd have doubled over laughing if he wasn't so damned tired.
The deader left on her own accord, as she had come. She shuffled off, either a cruel caricature of life or a blatant mockery of death. He couldn't tell which; he doubted it mattered. She, to her credit, wasn't even one of the bad ones. When she spoke of the importance of peace, he liked to make himself believe that she might even mean it.
He looked in his pouch. He was out of cigarettes, his herb packets nothing but stems and seeds.
...Why the fuck am I covered in blood?
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