Part 1 – Be sure to check out the updated version! I added a few pics and a song.
The man watched her slow breathing as it raised and lowered her pale, blue-skinned chest, covered by nothing more than the thin sheet of the bed. Her hair was a messy tumble of brown locks around her head, and as a stray bit tumbled forward and tickled her nose, making her eyes crinkle, Lycaohn lightly brushed it back behind her ear. His hand lingered on the soft skin of her cheek, and a smile flitted across her lips.
Lycaohn pulled his hand back close to his head, onto the pillow, and took all of her in as his eyes grew heavy.
Thinking back to his approach of her the night before, the man smiled. It had seemed quite absurd at the time, and out of character for him. Now, here he was, looking upon her, the memories of their lovemaking fresh in his mind, and it was as if it was the only sane answer in an insane world.
His last conscious thought before sleep overtook him was, You have to tell her the truth. He could not argue himself that point, because there might come a time when he could not hold the beast at bay.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
All of their nights together from that first one forward were spent at the small house granted to Lycaohn by King Varian in a community recently built for some of the displaced Gilneans. It was on the northern side of Stormwind near some farms skirting the city’s edge.
There were days, and even some nights, where Effy was called away for some guild business or another – a cluster of encroaching ogres here or a rampaging Horde troop there – but for the most part, life on Azeroth was relatively quiet. Lycaohn was doing odd jobs around the Gilnean community of Stormwind, as well as on the numerous farms dotting the region.
For the most part, it left the two lovers much time together.
Effraeti came to discover that Lycaohn was quite the cook, in contrast to her meager skill in that area, aside from what cooking she had learned to do over a campfire. She was an enthusiastic student, though, and many nights they stayed in to craft meals both standard and exotic.
It was closest Effy could recall to leading what might be considered a normal life. It was the kind of life most people lived, people who were not fighting for the survival of the very planet they lived upon or fleeing through the depths of space from the inevitable extinction that nipped at their heels.
And Effy found herself to be happy.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The sun was barely brightening the top edges of the mountains to Stormwind’s east when Effraeti found herself awake. She tried to close her eyes again, not wanting to get up. The skin of Lycaohn’s chest and stomach were warm against her back, his arm draped loosely over her front, and she had no desire to disturb either of them from the embrace. But it was not long before the partially shaded window and the silence could no longer hold her interest.
The press of his body was too inviting.
With as little disruption as possible, Effy rolled her body under Lycaohn’s arm. Facing him, she slowly slid her arms up his back, grabbing the tops of his shoulder blades and pressing against him, kissing him, first lightly but with increasing urgency as his eyes fluttered.
Before they were even fully open, he was inside of her.
Lycaohn pulled her on top of him and grabbed ahold of her hips as he thrust upwards. Effy moaned as her whole body tensed in reply. Sitting upright, she moved in rhythm with him, her knees tight against his sides. The world beyond the two of them fell away, and Effy focused only on him, the feeling, the two dark eyes locked on her own when they were not tracing the lines of her body.
Effy cried out in ecstasy. Lycaohn moaned as she tightened around him, and he pulled her in closer. He cradled her head as he rolled her onto her back and thrust harder, in and out, until he too released all the energy building within him.
Afterwards, the man raised himself up on his arms, looking down at her still shaking form, his dark eyes gleaming in the dim light over the wide smile crossing his face. “Tell me you have no guild business today, as I have no tasks so pressing they cannot wait until tomorrow, or the next day.” Lycaohn implored, brushing his hand lightly over her cheek.
Effy regarded him curiously. “We should probably get out of bed at some point,” she responded and smirked at him.
The man let out a chuckle at the effect of his cryptic statement. “I want to get away, just for a day or two. We can picnic and sleep under the stars. Though, not too much sleeping, I hope.” With that last comment he leaned forward and nibbled her neck playfully. “I would much prefer to enjoy you than sleep,” he breathed into her ear, inciting a soft moan that only served to drive him on again.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The world was still and quiet around them, except for the echoey chorus of a thousand crickets.
The remains of their light meal beside them, near the warm light of the flickering fire, Lycaohn took in the soft azure features of the woman and knew he was at peace. Effy’s luminescent eyes similarly followed the lines of his face, but always those eyes came back to his. She traced a similar path with her delicate fingers, running along his cheek, stroking the bottom edge of his ear, twirling loosely through his dark hair, brushing along the trimmed whiskers of his goatee, tickling his lower lip. He lightly kissed the tips of those fingers, and Effraeti leaned in and met his lips with her own. His arms tightened around her in response.
A noise that was certainly no cricket, the snap of a twig it seemed, caused Effy to pull away. She appeared to hold her breath, focusing less with her eyes and more with her ears. Her hands were tense on his forearms, her face a grimace as if smelling something offensive.
It was impossible for him to see anything in the blackness beyond the edge of the fire’s light.
With a movement almost too subtle for him to catch, Effy’s hand went to her belt and the small pouch that hung there. A fluid motion of that hand brought forth and dropped one of the small totems she kept there.
The faintest whisper of words, too low for Lycaohn to decipher, drifted towards them.
Effy pulled at his arms, and they both tumbled ungraciously to the right.
A second later, a bolt of roiling green flame flashed into existence and struck where they had been sitting a moment before. It flared and hissed. Lycaohn’s head snapped in that direction, and it all happened so fast he was only just in time to see the bolt fizzle and be consumed by Effy’s totem.
The woman stood, and snapped her hand forward again. This time, as her next totem hit the ground, a great being appearing as a violent vortex of wind sprang forth, and the energy crackling around the elemental made all the man’s hair stand on end.
As the air elemental gestured forward, a lightning bolt crackled forth.
A surprised cry ushered from the brush.
Lycaohn grabbed for the one weapon available to him, an old hunting knife they had used while preparing dinner, and he held it before him as he clambered to his feet. He willed himself calm, and took a deep, steadying breath.
Effy was still murmuring spells to his left, summoning a watery-looking shield upon herself and in the same breath shooting a small spark of fire in the direction of their enemy’s cry.
“Proklyatiye fad-volshebnik,” the shaman hissed as a strange four-legged creature bigger than any dog Lycaohn had ever seen bound out of the darkness. It’s face was merely a wide toothy mouth that encompassed a quarter of its body, and it was covered more with spines of varying size than fur. The not-dog whipped a pair of tentacles sprouting from its back at the air elemental as it loped by, causing Effy’s creature to screech in pain and seeming to stun it.
Another spark of flame came from Effy’s hand as she backed away from the approaching not-dog. It let a high-pitched yip as it’s egg-shaped body sizzled with the fire that engulfed it. Then, murmuring more syllables, the woman shot her hand forward again, this time propelling a ball of magma that warmed Lycaohn’s face more than the nearby fire.
The disembodied voice beyond the firelight cried in unison with its pet as the not-dog tumbled away through the edge of the campfire, knocking glowing embers across the ground. The not-dog slid to a stop and became very still.
Effy dismissed her distressed air elemental, and strode forward toward their invisible attacker.
Lycaohn cursed as he looked on, feeling helpless with naught but a worn knife. He gripped the handle until his knuckles turned white and willed himself calm as he sidestepped around the far side of the low-burning campfire.
Another fire-spark shot from Effy’s hand as she approached the darkness, then another. She seemed to be lighting her way as much as trying to sting the cowardly intruder. A shield of water flickered around her, accompanied by a rippling shield the dark green of late summer grass. As she neared the edge of the campfire’s light, she gestured toward the ground and the very rock beneath them lurched and rumbled. And still she shot tiny sparks of fiery light into the darkness, her face a resolute mask.
She was all at once beautiful and terrifying.
Even as he watched, ready to shout to her if their attacker tried to assail her, Lycaohn continued to creep around the fire. Once at the dark edge of the trees, he found he was at first nearly blind in the blackness beyond the fire’s glow, but his eyes adjusted quickly. The bright moons above, with their accompanying stars, lit his way forward well enough.
Some strange, unknown sense drove Lycaohn in a direction he knew to be the right one. He followed that sense and took a path he thought to be an intercepting one.
Then, he was face to face with the intruder. Trying to keep ahead of Effy’s fire and the heaving, rumbling ground, perhaps even fleeing entirely, the emaciated figure stumbled right into Lycaohn’s path. The moonlight was enough to illuminate the pallid creature for what it was – a Forsaken!
Its cold, depthless eyes lifted in momentary surprise.
Lycaohn’s face twisted into a snarl. “Soulless abomination!” he growled. The man’s vision sparked with red and went hazy as his muscles twitched involuntarily. He fought to control his anger, the knife’s handle spinning restlessly in his right hand, his left clenching and unclenching.
“Let me introduce you to true agony, fool,” the Forsaken hissed, recollecting itself and reaching forward. Its claw-like, skeletal hand thumped against Lycaohn’s chest.
A howl escaped the man, a howl first coming from that place of pain instilled by the undead’s spell, then twisting into something more feral.
As the howl changed, so did the man.
The pain of the spell dulled against the wrenching, breaking anguish coming from deep within Lycaohn as he began to feel as if he were tearing from the inside out. Bones popped and clothing tore as he grew in height and mass, his shoulders broadening and his face elongating into a lupine muzzle. Fur sprouted all over his face and body, and when his pained eyes opened, they shone with a fierce orange glow.
The howl turned into a roar.
Lycaohn saw the Forsaken had taken several steps back, but that did not calm his rage. This creature, this abomination, had attacked them, planned to kill them. Not like Maeranda! his head screamed, the small part that still thought in more than terms of blood and dismembering. For in that moment, Lycaohn was fully at the mercy of the feral worgen curse that infected his blood and was forever nipping at the edges of his anger, fear, and lust, waiting for a moment he was not fully in control – as now, frightened for Effy and himself both.
Powerful legs propelled Lycaohn forward and clawed hands at the end of long, muscular arms grabbed the Forsaken warlock around the throat. The decaying wretch made a desperate shout and flail of his hands as it alternately clawed at the worgen’s strong grip. Lycaohn spun and tossed the warlock all in one movement as he turned to face the creature the warlock had summoned at his back.
He was just in time to catch the giant axe swinging for his head. He snarled at the demon and wrestled for the weapon, snapping his jagged fangs in the summoned creature’s face. It leaned back, but did not release the axe, and the two paced a circle as they grappled.
Solely in the moment, his feral thoughts on naught but shredding the demon before him, Lycaohn was oblivious to the motions and murmurings of the unfettered warlock behind him.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Effraeti made quick progress through the dark woods, lighting her way with with the sparks of fire regularly pulsing forward from her hand. She quieted the earthquake with a dismissive gesture, realizing the warlock was on the run, but that hardly concerned her. She could smell the evil creature’s presence – the offensive stench of fel magic, which had for so many centuries personified the fear that had drove her outcast race through the stars.
No more would she run.
It was Lycaohn’s howl of pain that caused her to stumble with uncertainty. He was somewhere before her, in the direction of the warlock, though she had thought him behind her in their camp.
Fear gripped her and drove her forward with more haste.
It was confusion a moment later which almost caused her to falter again. A different howl pierced the night, this howl certainly the sound of no man. Effraeti briefly thought of some demonic creature the warlock might summon, but she knew before the thought finished such was not the case. It was not a separate sound, but a transformed one – transformed from the desperate howl of Lycaohn.
She sped on, sensing she closed on the warlock, but not fast enough. Certainly not fast enough.
A distant roar assaulted her, closer now, and Effy hurried on.
A flicker of movement ahead told Effy she was getting close. She caught sight of the gaudy purple and green robe of the warlock, and… something else. Lycaohn, it had to be Lycaohn.
Making out just enough to realize the warlock was casting, Effy pressed herself on. As soon as she was within range, she gestured at the ground. Once again, the stones heaved and grated against one another, buckling the ground and spilling the warlock ungraciously onto its backside.
Finally, Effy stepped around the trees and into the small area where the warlock scrambled to get back to his feet only to tumble over again. Impervious to the violence affecting the ground around her, the shaman approached and realized the creature was a Forsaken. Her face crinkled in disgust.
“I do not like warlocks,” Effy stated simply.
She raised her hand threateningly, ready to cast oblivion into the creature’s face, but she felt her gaze drawn to the scuffle behind her. The combatants were almost upon her, and she had to suddenly sidestep to avoid them as they lurched past.
The warlock had summoned a doomguard, which locked in a fierce struggle with…
“Lycaohn?” Effy asked, the tremor in her voice betraying her.
It was a worgen, yet wearing the tattered remains of her lover’s clothes. She stood, momentarily transfixed, as the feral creature growled and snapped at the face of the doomguard, both combatants wrestling over the great axe of the demon. They seemed at an impasse – the demonic strength of the doomguard matching the rage and ferocity of the grey and white furred worgen.
Effraeti realized the fur reminded her of the salt and pepper of Lycaohn’s goatee.
The shaman did not realize the quiet that had befallen the ground beneath her until a cold, shadowy hand grabbed her throat. Too late, she realized she had become too distract ed, to her detriment, as the warlock had gotten to its feet to take her previous advantage.
The demonic claw lifted her effortlessly from the ground and tightened.
Clawing with her fingers at the shadowy tendril holding her aloft, Effy realized she may as well have been scratching at iron bars. The grip seemed made of wispy fel energy, but was real enough against her throat. She fought to draw breath, and the malefic grasp tightened.
“Silly shaman,” the warlock spat. “I will choke the life from you, watching you die slowly. Then, I will be sure to grant your mongrel friend no quicker an end.”
She met the sneering gaze of the Forsaken and gritted her teeth in defiance, unable to draw the breath to retort.
TO BE CONTINUED
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Yes, yes. I know. I am sorry to say that this story has totally gotten away from me and become longer than intended. So expect to see Part 3 soon! In the meantime, here is another great song that I think fits the mood of the story. Ironically, it is not where I came up with the title. In fact, I forgot about the similarly-named song until it came on Pandora yesterday! I mean, how perfect are these lyrics for a Shaman? 🙂
Expect a proper afterward when this story is concluded in the next part.
Phaelah – Afterglow
Taking control of the elements, Making them mine, making them mine.
Touching up all of the elements, Takin’ my time, takin’ my time.
Takin’ a hole of the present day, Pushin’ it all, pushin’ it all, pushing it.
Takin’ control of my destiny, Makin’ it fine, makin’ it fine, makin’ it
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This story is based on worlds and characters in World of Warcraft.
Awaiting the Muse by Jamie Roman AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.