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Walking the Lines
#1
The winds of Desolace blew meekly over the Kodo Graveyard. A female gnome stood alone near the large skull of a kodo, bleached white by the elements. The recent marks in the sand indicated she had not been alone for long. Carter looked towards the hill from which Krona had disappeared out of thin air just as she arrived. She glanced briefly to the ground, following the orc's footsteps from the her side to the spot she vanished. Her right hand reached for her left forearm and twisted the skin in a painful twist. She looked down at the footprints again. They were real.

She looked down to the ground once more, to the partial sigil she had drawn. A real rune. Not the crude approximations used by arcanists, but a real rune, traced from the ley lines themselves. A tenth of a rune, at least. Maybe a fourth, if luck shone brightly enough. Regardless of that, she looked down at it with a smile of satisfaction. Her smile vanished as she turned around and walked. The sand was rough and her feet soft, but she did not complain. Reaching within the skull of the kodo she pulled out her magic carpet with some effort, unrolling it on the ground to reveal the possessions she had taken with her - a large saddlebag that looked awfully out-of-place and a simple leather backpack. Nodding to herself she began to empty both the bags' contents, followed shortly by her pockets on the carpet and then on the sands around her after her carpet was. A magical miracle, it was. But one she didn't need any longer - or so she thought. She stepped back, as if to admire her handiwork in removing all of those objects before starting to sort them in two sides.

She reached for a few sets of immaculate silken clothes and ran a hand on the stitches, feeling the magical wards imbued on them. She simply piled them on her left. She didn't need them any longer. Next, she took her toolbox and opened it, counting the pliers, the files... She closed the lid and moved it to her left. Books, maps, blueprints, food hampers, bottles, assorted machinery and money followed shortly after. She looked to the few unsorted objects.

Picking the long knife (for gnomish standards), sheathed on a brown leather scabbard. She drew it and took a glance at her own reflection on the mithril blade. A reminder of her days in Dragonblight. She sheathed it back and places to her right. The next object was a pair of runed bracelets with large crystals of quartz on each side - the physical trappings of her familiar and lifelong friend. She held them in her hand for a while longer before moving them to the left pile, uttering an apology under her breath. She then reached for a set of clothes, a simple vest, a pair of pants, a leather belt, a canteen, a pair of worn boots and a small rucksack. She smiled faintly at them, reminiscing from the times before she had learned how to translocate. Heading inside the skull of the kodo she changed into them.

The removal of the warded silk clothes was noticeable instantly. Night was falling and the air was cold. She folded her old clothes and put them on the left pile alongside the boots. With a sigh, she started to pack the disorganized pile back into the saddlebag and the backpack and rolled the carpet around them. She dragged it into the half-buried skull of the kodo and used her magic one last time to bury the carpet with sand. With a few moments to buckle the empty canteen and slide on the sheath of the dagger to her belt she walked towards the open desert once more, slinging the empty rucksack on her back before sitting down on the exact spot she was before her mentor had left. Starting with a deep breath, she tightened her muscles then relaxed them, her conciousness slowly reaching down below, into the elusive ley lines. She ignored the cold, her thirst and her hunger as the rest of the night faded into morning.

***

Carter stood up from her spot and looked about, her eyes straying to the sky where she spotted a couple of vultures circling about. She was sleepy, tired, thirsty and hungry. She attempted to remember a situation when she had been all four at the same time, but failed. A good life she led, indeed. Trying to remember the signs she had seen in her meditative state, she stood up and walked in search of water.

The sun had raised and the hot sand burned her feet, causing her eyes to water as she hurried to the stale ponds not far from the Kodo Graveyard. She knelt next to it and had a taste. It was faintly brackish and slightly muddy. To her, used to sparkling conjured water it was as if drinking straight from a mangrove. The thought of simply conjuring herself clear and maybe even cold water crossed her mind and before she noticed, she was already halfway through the charm. She halted herself in time and drank from the pool, filling her canteen afterwards.

The sun was at its peak now and although she had walked through most of the morning, her feet were still unused to the hot sand. She sat dawn at the shore and let them in the water, feeling instant, but momentary relief that turned into stinging pain as the water around them turned red. She pulled her feet out and checked the full extent of the damage - the soles were caked with blood, sand and small rocks. Without thought, she put them once again in the pool, rubbing the dirt away from her feet as she bit her lower lip, eyes filling with tears that rolled down her cheeks as she breathed heavily.

After long and painful minutes she withdrew them and took a closer look. Small cuts covered the soft soles of her feet and though before unnoticed were now bleeding and stinging. She took another drink from the pond before rolling into her side, looking up to the sunlit sky. Carter instinctively reached within her pockets to take the notebook she regulated her life with before realizing it was gone, just as most of her 'old life'. Defeated, she muttered lowly to herself "twenty-eight of November". She repeated it a few times before closing her eyes. Though hunger, the heat, the pain in her feet and the residual taste of the water in her mouth still plagued her, her tiredness gave away into sleep within minutes.

***

Carter woke up well after the sun had fallen. Her joints ached from the posture she had slept in, sweat still stained her clothes. She spent a moment there, staring at the moonlit sky without raising before the earth shook. She sat up from her spot at once, looking about for the source. Seconds after, she spotted it: large white kodo. Despite its immense size, the beast moved slowly. She sat there, half fear-frozen and half in amazement as the beast moved towards the pond she drank from and lowered its head, drinking enough water from it for the pond to lose almost a foot in depth. Then, as slowly but surely as it arrived, it moved away and bended its legs next to the other kodo skeletons.

It took a while longer for her to stand up. Her scabbed feet complained at every step, but at least the sand was not as hot as the day's. She took another drink from the pond before walking further into the desert. The water was not as horrible as it was yesterday. Hunger was still boring a hole through her stomach, but she saw nothing to sate it with. She looked at some of the hardy grasses that occasionally were visible among the rocks, remembering parts of her alchemy lessons. "...highly poisonous in its natural state, but once fermented and properly diluted, an important ingredient for white sleep potions..." She continued to walk northwards. At this pace she would only reach Stonetalon by January. "...a common weed with no special benefits..." The beetles skittering about and the assorted insects on the ground were starting to look appealing. "...commonly used to decrease the viscosity of potions..." With a sigh, she paused to take a look back to the Cenarion Wildlands.

Shaking her head, Carter took another step and felt the earth throb beneath. She immediately took a step back, fearful she had stepped on an an animal nest. But the ground was smooth where she stepped. Looking puzzled at it, she placed her foot there once more. She moved her other foot to the spot and stood there for a while, immobile. The earth continued to throb under her feet, but nothing was visible. She looked up to the White Lady before sitting down on it. "Twenty-nine of November." It was well rehearsed now. She simply removed her empty rucksack and her belt, setting them aside as she relaxed her body and emptied her mind, reaching down below with her conciousness.

***

When Carter came back to her senses, the sun was already blazing up above. She forced her weary body to stand and was surprised by how effortless it was. She took her belt and the rucksack back, dreading another step on the scalding sands. To her surprise once more, she did not feel the scabs of the wounds acquired. Looking down at her feet, she saw that they were nothing but thin scars now. The skin of her feet seemed to be hardened as well. She stood there a moment, trying to remember the sigil she had seen in the day before. It came back to her, mind as bright as day. "...Restoration." But her thoughts were cut short by her feet growing hotter the long she stood in one place. She took another drink of water before moving on.

She walked for most of the day until she found another pond. Hunger was still an issue - Carter had found nothing to sate it thus far. She took a drink from it and filled her canteen, marching on through the sand. She the land throb beneath her feet, but it was a different sensation from the last time. Carter stood there, puzzled for a while before it intensified. The winds started to pick up and it became clear to her. A sandstorm was coming, a mass of sand being visible on the horizon. Before she noticed, she was already halfway through the gestures required for a warding spell. Halting herself and taking a deep breath, she looked around for any shelter. A small cave was the only refuge in sight. She darted to it as fast as her small leg-span would allow. She arrived just barely in time to squeeze herself through the narrow entryway to the chamber that could barely allow her to stand at full height. The storm had arrived now and was raging outside. She turned towards the wall and hoped the entrance would not be covered with sand.

Carter remained on the restricting cavern for an unknown period of time. It was very hard to think about anything other than the small enclosure might fill with sand completely any second, much less keep track of how much time has elapsed. Between her tiredness and the hunger, she could not stay conscious for much longer and blacked out in the confines of the cavern.

***

She opened her eyes. Her back hurt. She was pressed against the wall and half-buried with sand, forced into a rather twisted posture. Turning about with some effort, she saw the entrance of the cave to be halfway blocked just as she feared. She could barely move, the sand making the crevice more tight than before. She took a deep breath and started to push some of the sand to the outside. Thankfully, it seemed that the outside was now at a lower level, so Carter's weak and awkward pushing.

The night outside turned into day. It was exhausting work. Between not being able to move the lower half of her body, the lack of food and the restrictions of the cave itself, not much progress was made at all. She drank half of her canteen and awkwardly laid herself to rest against the sand and closed her eyes. Today, her body would not allow her to work any longer.

It was night once more when she woke. The whole of her body was numb and the rest of the canteen's water hardly made her feel any better. It was another day hard at work. Some of the sand had fallen off when she slept, but there was still too much in the way. The moon gave way to the sun. Whatever happened on the outside seemed to be throughly distant from her own little corner of the world. Once again, she worked until exhaustion hit her. This time, however, the decision to sleep was not one she made herself, simply collapsing one more.

The third time she woke up in the cave her mouth was dry and her muscles were aching. Some more sand seemed to have fallen off while she was out of it. Carter slowly but painfully squeezed herself out of her place and attempting to go through the narrow(er) entrance of the crevice. Carter lost count of the times she became stuck or the sand beneath her feet attempted to swallow her once more. She had to rest in awkward spots while stuck in the tightness of the entrance. But just as the sun started to fall, she squeezed herself free of the of the cavern, falling to face. she meekly rolled about to face the sky, panting. She could move no further before her body gave in to exhaustion once more.

***

Carter woke in the early hours of the morning and forced herself to her feet. She was bruised, scratched and with much of her hair gone, but she was alive and that is what mattered. Not knowing how long she had passed within that crevice she decided to move on, regardless of the complaints of her body. When the sun was nearly falling and her time to rest was arriving, she spotted something glinting in the distance. Another pond, it seemed. She hurried towards it and just as the moon was at its peak she arrived at it. She leaned close to it and took a drink from the water like an animal would, simply lowering her face and drinking to her heart's content. The stale water was if the sweetest nectar for her, one she could not get enough. After that she rested her head on the ground, watching the stairs briefly in a vain attempt to discern the current day. Sleep found her first.

It was well after midday when she woke again. She filled her canteen and took another drink of water before stripping down and taking a bath on the stagnant water. The pond was barely two foot deep, but it was enough for her. On her better days, she would have a remark about efficiency of gnomes, but today there was only the painful washing of wounds. She heaved herself out and washed her clothes the best she could before putting them on once more. The small pool now looked nowhere near drinkable.

Carter moved on, letting the sun and her body heat dry the clothes as she walked. She moved on for a few hours, the amount of water she drank making a rather poor replacement for her perennial hunger but a replacement nonetheless. The earth seemed to be slightly moister as she continued down the path, red earth visible among the rocks and the sand. A few hours later, she looked upon Stonetalon. It was a distant sight, barely visible over the horizon, but a stirring sight nonetheless. She sat down for a moment's rest before continuing as the moon raised lazily over the skies. The east was just starting to shimmer with the brightness of the sun when she arrived at a glade of trees and brown earth. The bout of vigour that carried her here was gone. She rested her head against a tree and slept, content with herself, for once.
Spoiler:
Adelheid Dagmar, Forsaken [Profile]
Alahni Firelash (Swiftbow), Night Elf
Carter Shinygizmo, Gnome [Profile]
Durene Tallhammer, Dwarf
Lyhel Wolfsong, Blood Elf
Morka Bloodfang, Orc [Profile]
Sazaie Goldsprocket, Goblin
Rint Strongarm, Human [Profile]
[-] The following 3 users Like Laucian's post:
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#2
Krona's words still echoed in Carter's head as she made her way southwards, once again heading south to Desolace, plaguing her along with the failure to learn Stonetalon's rune. "I know you gave up a few possessions for the sake of this path, though it's not necessary. You can carry rations with you... Makes sense, really." Of all the sentences she had heard from Krona, that stung harder than all. Those did not question her dedication, her knowledge or her willpower. Just her common sense. Though the blow was likely unintentional, on her way back across now familiar ground she cursed her own eagerness in disposing of her things. She did need some of the items she left behind. A lot of them. "Makes sense, really."

Despite her tribulations before, she was now reasonably fit to travel through the desert. With her rucksack filled with edible herbs and her canteen full to the brim. She knew where the pools of water could be found. The way was not as hard nor as long.

The kodo skull she had concealed her belongs in was undisturbed, both by wind and rain. There was still a thick layer of sand between Carter and her belongings, though one she learned to despise as she had to dig them out by hand. It seemed every question in her head could be answered with Krona's "Makes sense, really." From her reasons to seeking training to how well she had buried her belongings. After many tiring hours, she finally dug it all up. Without a second thought she placed everything in her carpet and started to make her way to Nijel's Point.

You did not need to be an arcanist to use a carpet like hers, but even the barely-felt incantations and wards on the cloth made her pent-up frustration more intense. Questions flared up in her mind. Why was she even doing this? Why did she leave mostly everything she owned behind? Why was she such an idiot? Krona's voice echoed in her head, just like it did on her previous questions. "Makes sense, really." Carter had already landed in Nijel's Point without noticing. What gave the orc the right to be so condescending? She kicked at her saddlebag in anger. As if throught instinct as her soft foot was about to hit a hard surface, she subconsciously shielded her foot with a clumsy ward that did little. She fell to a sitting position, her toes aching as the saddlebag had barely moved. But it was not the pain that caused her to fall. Her mind was clear now, the pain barely felt. The breeze on her face felt different, as if warmer. Her hunger felt like a light burden. It was as if she had been released form a cage and a new flame set to light inside her. Carter could hardly think it was she that had been so angry so little time ago. She looked down at her foot. Had this been the result of her efforts? Was that the work of a ley walker? But the flame seemed to dim just as she pondered that. Her previous feeling of elation was gone, just as the breeze felt oppressively cold on her bones. Her stomach felt like a bottomless pit, eager for something more substantial than plants. It was not the work of a ley walker, but that of a mere arcanist. She cursed her presumptions. It would take years for her to become a ley walker. Nay, decades, if not a century. "Makes sense, really." And Krona was right. Or so it seemed at the time.

The food and drink on her way to Stormwind seemed stale. Even the world seemed to have lost some of its color and energy. Her head hurt and in a manner it never did before. The sound of the waves lashing against the ship seemed to be chipping away at her skull instead. When Carter stepped onto the harbor, it was no better. Everything was too loud. The cobblestones too harsh. But she was back in Stormwind now, and not in some forgotten desert in Kalimdor. It was the only silver lining she could think off as she headed off into the city.
Spoiler:
Adelheid Dagmar, Forsaken [Profile]
Alahni Firelash (Swiftbow), Night Elf
Carter Shinygizmo, Gnome [Profile]
Durene Tallhammer, Dwarf
Lyhel Wolfsong, Blood Elf
Morka Bloodfang, Orc [Profile]
Sazaie Goldsprocket, Goblin
Rint Strongarm, Human [Profile]
[-] The following 3 users Like Laucian's post:
  • Krilari, Flammeschmieden, Ural
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#3
Carter's room at the Gilded Rose had always been the closest thing to home she had in Stormwind. The room was small and had a single window to the west that barely allowed any sunlight in. The location of her room on the inn proper also made it very hot, as it was under the sun the day and the window seldom allowed any ventilation. But it didn't matter to her. The room was as big as a house - for a gnome, that is. Even the bed was too large, most of it served as shelves. After the proper enchantments the room was cool in the summer and warm in the winter and a lamp floated up above, lighting the entire room. Even the nigh-unreachable keyhole and handle were enchanted to be operated at a distance.

She stood before the door and fumbled around for a key. This was easier when one had decent pockets. It took a while for her to find the plain iron key and approach the keyhole with it. The metal flew off her hand and twisted itself on the lock, just as the handle turned and the door opened. Carter's lips twitched as the key returned to her and she walked in. The key felt solid, as if it was more real than the rest of the world. It was gently warm in her hand. Her room sparked to life as soon it was in. It felt warm and reassuring.

With a deep breath, she dropped her things. The bundle with the carpet carried all that she took to Kalimdor. With a low grunt, she moved over to her ledger that listed all the enchantments and how to dispel them, were she ever to move from this room. She had made sure that it could be done without magic, so that even the innkeeper might do it. She reached for a rag and damped it on her keg of conjured water. It was lukewarm, but it felt comfortable and refreshing like a blanket on a cold winter's day. There was no pain as the water ran down to the cracks and scratches on her skin. She moved over to the runes chalked on the walls and began to erase them. The room became colder and darker after each magical sigil was wiped away. It was cold and almost completely dark when she finished, the light being a few rays of moonlight coming through the window which was mostly covered by a large star map.

Just undoing the enchantments had sapped her of energy, however. She reached for her canteen and took a sip from it. The water was warm and tasted brackish. If anything, she felt more thirsty than she was before. She sighed. "There is nothing wrong with the water." She took a few difficult swigs from it, emptying the canteen. She took a few steps in the penumbra towards the window, climbing up to the bed with some effort as she looked through the small portion visible. Across Stormwind, new year celebrations were being organized and there was already an influx of people to the highest spots of the city to better watch the fireworks. New year. She glanced to the calendar on the bed. It was enchanted and now marked 31st of December. It had been more than a month since she first met Krona.

Removing the thought from her head, she reached for her knife and started to remove the tape that stuck the paper to the windowsill. The upper sections were well beyond her reach. She had to stand on tiptoe and cut the tape off with the very tip of her knife. In the darkness, she had made a few holes in the chart. The detonation of the first of the turn of the year's fireworks took her by surprise. She lost her balance and fell, the back of her head striking the corner of a wooden box.

The window was open when she came back to her senses, the star chart ripped and bloodied on top of her, some snow on top of it. The fireworks were deafeningly loud, drowning out the celebrations. The smell of burnt sulphur from the explosions was overwhelming. Carter felt cold, very cold. She meekly threw the chart aside as she stood up. There was a long shallow gash on her left forearm no longer bleeding, though her blood had soaked the mattress and her clothes. Her knife was caked with blood. Carter grasped the knife's hilt, the blood distressingly warm. She looked up to the darkened sky, occasionally lit by a firework. The celebrations were dying down now. She could only think of Dragonblight as she watched the snow fall, the smell of burnt gunpowder still in the air. The pain in her arm and the back of her head drew her thoughts back to the real world. The voices of her first aid tutors echoed in her head, but she couldn't remember any of what they said. With her eyes watering from the pain she wrapped a clean shirt around her arm, picking up a blanket as she made her way off the bed, cowering in a corner. She could not hold back her tears and wept. Her pain, her addictions and the harshness of new path had never felt so daunting. Eventually her body gave in and she drifted to sleep.
Spoiler:
Adelheid Dagmar, Forsaken [Profile]
Alahni Firelash (Swiftbow), Night Elf
Carter Shinygizmo, Gnome [Profile]
Durene Tallhammer, Dwarf
Lyhel Wolfsong, Blood Elf
Morka Bloodfang, Orc [Profile]
Sazaie Goldsprocket, Goblin
Rint Strongarm, Human [Profile]
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