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[Added to Timeline] Personal Hell [Vel Snapshot]

#1
Barrow Deep Prisons - Custody of the Watchers
TW: Self-harm, dark thoughts, borderline psychosis, psychological torture

It was dark.

And damp.

And mostly quiet.

For the past hour--or perhaps it had been three--Velameestra had heard nothing but the sound of falling water hitting the rippling pools outside the cell that she had been so graciously assigned. In truth, the only silver lining was the supernatural cold that wreathed her body, as it left her unphased by the earthly chill that may have otherwise been seeping into her bones.

’Will not want for anything.’ Yes. Clearly. Cold floors, wet earth, and complete isolation show that in bounds.

Perhaps the thought was overly bitter. The logic of her companions’ present circumstances made sense. Word of mouth alone was rarely adequate proof for anything--regardless of how eloquently or passionately it was stated--and they were, almost unanimously, strangers to these people.

But that didn’t mean she had to like it, and she could only imagine how her less-adapted companions were fairing.

The cold wasn’t the problem.

The dark was not the problem.

But the damp was rapidly becoming an incessant annoyance as moisture opted to settle on any of her bare skin and slowly freeze into patches of frost that had to be swept away.

She had found that pacing helped. The movement at least kept the moisture from settling quite as readily. She knew it took about a minute to complete a single lap at a leisurely pace--she had opted to count sometime earlier--but she had since lost track of just how many minutes had passed once she allowed her thoughts to wander.

The kaldorei are clearly expert rangers. I imagine it shouldn’t take long for them to return, but the sheer amount of time that’s already been wasted...

An hour here was an hour that wasn’t being spent on any number of things.

She was able to do sparse theorizing on the numerous spellcraft projects she had started--another silver-lining, even if she couldn’t do much more than hypothesize routes to pursue later when she had access to her magic once again. It was a pittance compared to what she was normally capable of--and that pittance was the only distraction she had from her own encroaching thoughts.

Five months had already been lost--before the month they had already spent on Kalimdor.

And now this was more time they were wasting before they could get back. Time that could have been used to reach Victor.

She exhaled through her nose--an action that had already long lost any sort of calming effect now that her vestigial lungs didn’t pump on their own. Now the forced presence of air was almost annoyingly noticeable.

Maybe they’ll find him quickly. And this entire thing can be over with.

Almost subconsciously, she opened a channel to discuss the information drops Remnii had offered with the presence that normally haunted the back of her mind, but almost immediately she faltered.

...Right. He’s not there right now.

Another sigh caused her hair to flutter.

It’ll only be a few days. Maybe a week and this will all be settled.

Vel chewed on her thumbnail, her mind scrolling past the revelation that Jaina had actually been the Traveler--another layer added to the veritable mountain of information--for what seemed like the hundredth time. At the very least, once she was reunited with Kel’Thuzad, they would have plenty of theories to discuss.


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It was impossible to keep perfect track of time in the bowels of the earth. Velameestra was confident that, at minimum, two days had passed since they entered the Barrow Deeps, but that was based upon the presence of two of the Watchers that had passed by on their patrols.

It was likely the only reliable way to track time other than manually counting the seconds that passed, but that was a process that would have become maddening before more than an hour or two had passed.

And there were already moments that she struggled to focus.

The only other evidence that time was passing was the gnawing Hunger that had started to creep into her psyche with slow--but increasing--veracity. It hadn’t yet neared the point of encroaching unbearableness, at least--evidence enough that whatever enchantments had been placed on the infuriating complex was at least dulling her biological needs as had been promised, but the psychological need to feed and to hunt haunted the periphery of her mind like an animal stalking the shadows.

Sometimes the light would catch the glint in its metaphorical eyes, and in that moment, the Hunger was most poignant, but it would then recede back to a dull, never-ceasing discomfort as she sought any distraction she could find.

But at the very least, perhaps, it meant that hopefully she wasn’t at risk of becoming a slavering beast that stalked the Watchers whenever their patrols led them past their cell--even if the endless nothing compounded with a predatory restlessness that left painful pinpricks in both her mind and body.

“Fuck this.”

The hissed statement was almost a snarl as she dropped her pen upon the desk and rose with a degree of ferocity that nearly sent her chair reeling back.

Vel knew Remnii was nearby. The draenei was just down the hall--but it was out of view and just far enough to make any form of communication horrendously inconvenient, and far from private. Given the priestess’s silence, it was likely she had come to the same conclusion.

Though there was, at least, the knowledge that once it came time for Remnii to be taken to speak to her people, the arcanist would be the first to know.

A light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps, but one that was not yet visible.

And many of the scrawlings in her journal had started to devolve into nonsense during the mass swaths of nothingness: cypher attempts, commentary on what few curiosities she had found left behind in the cell, (attempted) objective analyses of her own psyche, and anything else she could think of.

But there were 24 hours in a day.

And without the drain of exhaustion, there was little need to sleep--a fact the vampyr had chosen to abuse to ensure that the Watchers couldn’t arbitrarily decide to put her into slumber and destroy what shattered fragments of passing time she had left.

As long as she didn’t use the ritual, she couldn’t be put to sleep.

But there were 24 hours in a day.

And seven days in a week.

The woman hissed to herself again, the sound littered with as much pained frustration as there was anger.

There were 24 hours in a day.


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Velameestra hadn’t gotten confirmation that the woman now walking away from her was Maiev. But based on the descriptions that had been offered--and the clear intricacies in her armor that implied a woman of rank--she had absolute certainty that she was Maiev.

She felt her jaw clench.

”Yet still the responsibility of the Legion’s return falls on you and your people.”

The statement had struck a lot deeper than the arcanist had wished to allow it--driving into the center of the knot in her heart and causing it to clench painfully.

Yes. It does.

She almost wanted to shout after the retreating Warden--goad her into coming back. Claim the Warden was right and it was all her fault in a twisted spark of resentment and brewing desperation for any sort of stimulation.

Even if it was at her expense.

But she didn’t.

It falls on me.

The arcanist retreated from the bars of the cell, her fingernails digging into the flesh of her arm as her eyes searched for any sort of distraction from the thoughts that had been spurred into life.

I made a mistake.

The world is paying.

Now I’m here.

We're wasting time.

Her nails dug harder, the sharpened tips piercing flesh and carving scratches into her pale, lifeless skin.

I’m so sorry.


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The Hunger was getting worse. She could feel it c̶̨̱̜̘̼̼̱͖͙͒̽̽͝͝l̵̨̞̪̰̖̭̱͎̝͈̾́̍̑̈́̓a̷̢̨̲̰̹̭͇̖͆̉̅́͝w̴̫͎̏͐̔̔̑̔̅̔͊̍̌̈́i̷̛̞̮̖̱͇̬̲̩̞̘̼̿̑̈̎͠͝ņ̴̳̺͙̦̱͎̙͉̘̲̟̗͑́͂̍͆͠ǧ̵̭͇̳͚̈́͛̃̎͘̕͘ and b̸̧̹̲̘̦̹͑́͋̅́͑͒̐͠i̷̢͚̜͖̰̿͗̃͊̄̿̉͒t̸̼͙͈̣̝̋̂͛̑̈́̈̿̚͝į̷̺͉̂͛n̴͈͙̪̘͖̬̳̘͍͊̂̋͐̓̎͌͂͝͠ͅģ̸͔̙̰͙̀ at her very core, ripping open her insides with a desire that could not be satiated.

She wasn’t dying. Consciously, she knew she wasn’t dying. This existence wasn’t the slow, painful agony of true starvation.

But it was still starvation--kept on the cusp of it so that the pain would never recede, and the desire would never end, but true death would never come.

Feed.

The thoughts had started to get invasive, attempting to shove aside any logic or reason in their endless battle to consume rational thought as a substitute for the precious vitae her body was being denied.

I need to feed.

I need to hunt.

I need to k̷̖̓͆̊̋͝i̸̤̥̗̮̭͉̝̼͍͑̀̈́͂̃̈́́̚l̶̟͘l̸͎̥̃̐͌̓͜͝͝ͅ.

The vampyr still had control, but with every passing day she felt a sliver erode. It had been the thoughts first--spawning into existence unexpectedly and without warning--but it had slowly progressed into a more biological response.

Every time a Watcher passed, she felt the pressure of lengthening fangs, and this patrol was no different.

I’ve not been a problem.

Perhaps I can--

Stop.

A fully-fledged vampyr can make them willing. They owe me--

ENOUGH.

It was the beginnings of the behavior that the Grand Magister had warned of--and the behavior that Astalor feared: predatory impulses that reduced any living creature to nothing more than roaming food source whose arteries were primed for bared fangs.

Indiscrimitory.

Not recognizing friend or foe.

Only the closest potential meal.

She clenched her teeth harder as the Watcher finished her brief survey and once more strolled out of view.

I’m no monster.

I'm in control.

I choose my prey.

Perhaps it was desperation or raw defiance, but once the soft footsteps had completely faded she bared her fangs and bit hard into the side of her wrist, letting her erect fangs rip open a wound that pumped the red ichor into her waiting maw.

Each beat of her heart pumped more over her tongue, the flow of non-stagnant, vitae-starved blood offering a second of relief before the Hunger resumed its endless stalking of her thoughts.

But it was enough, at least in that moment, for the woman to reassert her control--and slowly she unlocked her fangs from the wound she had torn into her wrist. Blood continued to seep from the open wounds, dripping down her wrist and coating the glowing tattoo on her wrist with a sheen of red.

She wrapped the cloth of her jacket around the wound, the liquid quickly staining dark marks in the fabric as she leaned her head back against the wall. With a degree of macabre humor at her own expense, she snapped her fingers--trying to summon the weakest shreds of magic to cleanse the streaks of blood that had dripped down the sides of her mouth.

Nothing happened. But she had ample time to clean herself off before a new patrol came by.

An ironic, semi-delirious smirk came to her pale, blood-stained lips, the traces of the smeared liquid already starting to frost.

They don't check for weapons very well.


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There had been twelve patrols now. That she had allowed to slip by.

The vampyr was reasonably good at predicting their arrival. While it wasn’t perfect, the last few she had expected within an hour or so of when they had arrived.

Twelve patrols meant twelve days. Of agony.

Feed.

Nearly two weeks.

She had stopped making progress on anything she could days ago. There was only so much that could be done without spellwork, and much of her hypothesizing and theorycrafting had rapidly started to devolve into ideas and concepts that she was not certain should be revisited.

Hunt.

The moment she had written a detailed, step-by-step account of the process of her flesh mending together was the moment she decided to stop trying for progress. It was a dangerous course of thought. One that could easily spiral into something more drastic if desperation mounted.

K̸̹͊͛̀̔̍̒͝ị̶̭̫͚͕͇̀̾́̊̎͒̈l̴͚͉̰̫̬̗̰̞̝͆͛̌̕͝l̸̺̗͇͈̼̓̈͛̐̉͑̅͝͝.

I must look pathetic. Because I refuse to be the hunter.

Alleria’s probably worried. And Kilnar. Getting out is the only way back.

They knew where we were headed. So many people were unaware with bared throats.

There haven’t been any updates in two weeks. And there won’t be if I don’t survive.

Feed.

What am I doing? What even is this?

I’m so sorry.

What made me so sure?

None of this would have happened if the Legion hadn't come through. I̷̩͚̝̰̿́͊̅̐͛̅͘ ̴̛̙̥̄̄̀̇́̑̋̕͜c̸̗͈̠̪̦̝͓̝͋̀͊͌̏̆̇ā̸͔̣̅̐͋̂̚n̴̮̒ ̴̲͚͇͎̬͖͉͕̈́͑͗̋͆͒̀̓c̶̗͙͋͆̑͜ȍ̷̡̺̤͉͓́͌̈́̇̈́̅̍̕n̴̢̧͉͓͙̳̻̑̽̆͠ͅs̵̹̦̆͆̂ư̷̩͓̣̱͊ͅm̷̨͈̮̺͉̺͂̈́̒̒ȅ̷̬̺̗̞̗̘͓̊̄̇̏̉̏͜ ̵̡̮͕̽̃̓͐̄͗͘̕t̸̗̳̮̤̣͎̍͆̊̂͒͘͘͝͝h̵̯̳̅́̇́̑̕͝ē̴̡̡̛͔̋̾̂̕͝m̷̻̹̉ ̵͔̺̃̐̒̿̕͝͝ą̸̻͙̮͓͍̣͌̂̈́͆̍͛ͅͅl̷͉̯̱͔̅̿̈̍̈́̇͂͋l̷̹͓̜̞̼̋̒͠.̸̡̛̺͍̦́͗͐͋̓̎̚͝.

She had been pacing for the last several hours like an imprisoned animal in a too-small cage, her fingers tracing the movements and gestures that she knew so well, but the calming effect of them was lost in the turmoil of what was going on in her own head.

My cousin wouldn't be alone.

Jaina is the Traveler.

Where is Gil?

I miss him. I miss my family. Ḯ̶̹̆͆͘̚'̷̥̠̭̹̭̩̒̄͒̈͂͑̕͜͜͝ͅm̷̡̡̹͌̓̍͝ ̴̤̀̕d̸̨̼̫̟͕̫͓̾̄͗͗̌̏̇͜ę̵̗̻̲̰̞̘͋̿̍͛̄̅̕͠a̷̘͉̭̎̑̾̊ḑ̶̦̬͙͇͔̫͗͂͐́͘̕͜͝.̶̠̤̬̮̩̬̲̅͋͗̈͝ͅ

Kel I need you. I’m going insane.

Ann’da?

Help them. Help me.

I died.

My people are dying. Because I failed them.

Who do I think I am?

I’m so sorry. What will they think if I come back now?

They’ve all been hurt.

Minn'da?

I need something to focus on. Do they have books? Can I have a book? If they enter to give me one I can feed.

I’m so sorry.

Ě̵̹̺̤̹̠̥̬̆͒͘v̶̛̹̩̰̞̙͕̓̋́͆̎̔͋͆̑ė̴͈̘͙ͅŗ̸̢̦͙̫̳̥̠̄̚ỷ̴̧̨̢̛̙̹̰̣̺̘̱͝͝t̴̢̰̰̱͕̘͖͇͋̏͜h̶̙̥͔͊i̶̭̗̫̜̜̲͚̣̥̒̕n̶͕͇̓͋͒̕g̷͕͔̺͖̪͇͊̋̈́̈́ ̵̡̼̺̩̞̩̳̯̉̍̑̊̍̚͜͝͝w̷͓̩͖̲̯̬̘͑̂̉̓͆͛̒̊͑ͅi̷͙͎͓̿̀̉̑͑̀̀̕͝l̸̺̹͖͙̠̱̯̊̓̅̀̀̚̚l̶͕̅̌ͅ ̶̹̞́̆́͛͘͝b̶̡̙͓̬͈̗̤͌̇̏͐̂̈́͝͠e̶̢̨͎̲̲͈̰̽̈̀̽̈̐̂̈́̑͆͜͜ ̵̗̗̓̊̂b̵̛͔̥̓͆͆̎̽̍ȇ̷̡̮̥̩͑̓̇̎͆͑̂̾͜͜t̵̝͙̮͕̮̳̱͙̫̦̒t̷̡̛̥͖̪̼̟̪͎̲̾͘ȩ̵̧̲͖̟̩͚̟̽̋͊͆̉͗͒r̵̖̜̫͙͍͚̓̄̎̇̄̽ ̷̺͒́õ̷̡̨̡͖̩̯̤̗͓̩̾̀̂͒͒̓ṅ̶̼̥̐̾̎̆ç̴̢̗̭͂̐̆͒̊̕̚̚e̵̘̼̬̫͐͆͗̋̈̃̀̓͠͝ͅ ̷̨̨̺̖̘̦͚̒͊̃̀̽͒̉̈́ͅỈ̷͖̰̦̐̈́̅ͅ ̵̖̤̗̣͋͊̒͊͗̀̀̄̃͝b̷̖̺̈́̓͑̆͑̅͆ï̴̧̻̻̰̈́̋͝͝ť̷̫͇̪̬̲͓͌͂ͅė̴͙̼͓̣͓̙̪ ̵̠͖̪̟͙͐͂̿s̷̜̪̖̍̓̈͒̔̿͝ó̸͕͎̱͔m̷̢͖̠̻̩̫͍̻̘̌̀̔̈e̵̘̩̲͈̓̍̐̕͝͝ŏ̶̫̫͉̥͝ņ̷̟̭̗͇̫͆͑̅͒̿͆͒̓̑͊e̵̲͚̞͍͚̱͔͖̯̔͒̍͊̽̈́̒’̵̼̣̉̽̾͂͘s̶̝͉̟̫̞̭̹̎̉͋͆̃̐̃̆̓͝ ̶̢̭̃̍t̸̰͎̭̾͆̅̎̌̆͗̃̒̊h̸̰̺͍̖͠ŗ̸̖̥̻̘͚̾̒ȍ̵̧̮͈̜̳̩̥̲͕͘a̸̩͍̦̓̔͐̂͜ṱ̵̱̲͚͈̭̦̯̽̾̿̆̈.̴͈͖͎͆̆

Victor Im trying.

Why did I think I could do this? I can barely keep myself together.

The vampyr opened her mouth and drove her fangs into her hand.

But there's too much to stop now.



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Velameestra didn’t know when her mother’s spellbook had found its way into her lap. It hadn’t been far away at any point during her incarceration, but the very last page had remained unread.

It had been largely out of fear and agony.

There was something about the finality of reading the final page of the journal--a painful reminder that her mother’s final words had been said nearly two decades ago and any chance of seeing her again rested on her shoulders.

I need to feed.

But now it was resting on her lap, a trembling hand on the corner of the page as she wrestled between her own apprehension and a desperation for any sort of distraction.

It had been fourteen patrols now.

And none of their blood has been spilled.

The arcanist clenched her jaw, and flipped the page--the revelation of the new text immediately drawing her eyes and eroding what feeble amounts of resistance she could offer.

Quote:It's time.

The hex's grip on my vitality has gotten worse and worse. I can hardly rest without suffering. It's all I can do right to hold this quill.

I will be brief. Lirath has mixed a medicine that will allow me to pass peacefully. The suffering can finally end. The pain can finally end.

What?

Had the vampyr had breath in her lungs after so many days of not speaking, it would have hitched in her throat, and she felt her heart twist painfully in her chest--momentarily shattering her awareness of the Hunger as she stared wide-eyed at the page.

No. No no no.

Quote:I am so sorry, my darlings. I would give anything to end this any other way... but I was not strong enough to conquer it. To banish this hex.

If you ever read this, my little Moonbeam, I am sorry for letting you down. I hope you can forgive me for being too weak to live long enough to see you grow into the woman I know you were meant to be.

She could feel the tears welling in the corners of her eyes before she even finished, each word opening an invisible wound in her chest, yet she was unable to stop now that she had come this far. There was no breath with which to sob.

It wasn't your fault, minn'da.

Quote:Don't be afraid to laugh, my Vela. Don't be afraid to cry. Don't be afraid to sing. I will be with you through every note, and in every breath.

~Starlight

Until the vampyr involuntarily drew breath, her atrophied lungs filling with the damp, cold air only to be released in a quiet wail. She was a child again--huddled in the darkness and sobbing after having just lost her mother.

But there was no Arkha’din this time--relenting himself to being clung to like a stuffed toy as his new Mistress grieved. He was trapped in his demiplane.

There was no Rhonin to scoop her up and hold her until she eventually exhausted herself sobbing into the folds of his tunic. She had abandoned him along with everyone else.

It was just her. And a book. A book whose pages her bloody tears were spattering as she pulled her knees closer to her chest.

Zalazane stole you from me.

“Oh… n-no…” she started weakly, grabbing for the hem of her coat so she could try to clean the blood away before it stained the final page.

But then the blood was gone, and she stared--startled--at the place where it was, tears still sliding down her face as the thin trails froze behind them.

A trembling finger touched the page, and she felt a spark of magic run through her fingertip.

“What?”

Her voice was weak--unused and muffled with tears as she fought against every emotion that had bubbled to the surface to try and make some sort of hypothesis as to what had just happened. Her fingers slid onto the page, flattening her palm to it where she felt the rapidly fading surge of magic.

Her eyes fell on the passage, reading it again and again as she tried to regain some sense of composure. Her throat tightened, atrophied vocal cords straining against the effort as she started the familiar melody of the lullaby she so keenly remembered.

The pages in the book fluttered, the action triggering a crack in her voice that promptly caused the melody to falter.

Her mind was being irrational and cruel as her immediate thoughts went to the possibility that her mother was somehow truly there and not trapped in her own personal hell in the belly of the hex that had murdered her.

Vel made an incredulous noise--something akin to a disbelieving, mirthless laugh at her own expense--and the text on the page suddenly shifted, lines becoming completely unreadable.

“What?” she asked again, lacking any sort of poise as the sound croaked into existence. She flipped the pages, shocked and confused as she desperately looked for any sort of answer as to what was happening.

Again, the cruel, hopeful, desperate edges of her mind presented the possibility that--perhaps--if she wrote in it now someone would write back. Somehow.

But that cruel hope was just as readily crushed as she turned it around, the text suddenly legible again as the book was flipped upside down.

And then she flipped to the front, where a title had been revealed.

“The.. Arcanist’s Guide to Rare Diseases… by Ariella Silverwood?”


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Shock was a useful distraction.

As was the unprecedented appearance of a new tome whose contents needed to be devoured--new information now serving as ammunition to fight a struggling war.

But it was a temporary fix--a bandage over a festering, seeping wound that needed changed with increasing frequency. And she had only one, one that she was trying to twist and turn in every possible way without treating the infection beneath.

And several more days had passed. Several more patrols.

I need blood.

And prey a voice that was grossly outside of the anticipated norm.

The vampyr’s ears twitched, her hunger curiosity drawing her from the corner where she had curled herself around her mother’s spellbook and her journal.

It was a woman’s voice speaking to Remnii down the hall.

Offering an escape.

Offering freedom.


She felt her fangs strain against her jaw, her heart racing as the night elven woman approached.

“I trust you heard me.”

Don’t let me out.

Not until I've fed.

Vel nodded, her eyes trailing down the hall to where Remnii had cautiously exited her own solitary cell.

It would be so easy.

“Lets go.”

The bars slid aside, the only barricade between them now eliminated as Vel forcefully tore herself away to grab her meager belongings. She left the quill the Watchers had provided neatly on the desk--returned as had been so requested.

It would be so, so easy.

She hugged the books to her chest, her nails digging into the soft leather cover of her journal.

Once I step out of this prison. Just. One. Bite.

No.

I can hear their heartbeats. I can smell their blood. It’s been too long. It’s been far too long.

Just a bit longer.

F̵̨͇̺̳̺̰̜̭̬͗͛̒̿͒̔̒͘͘ȩ̶̧͚̣͈̬̥̽͜͝ę̵̡͖͍̠͓͖̔́̔͗̎̀̌̇͊ḓ̶͝.̸̻̠͍͇̼̥̲̠̎͋̒͋̕

No.

H̵̢̤̻̺͚̼̋̿͐̆̀͝u̴̡̪̤̹͛͝n̴̡͔̟̹͓̤̖̞̊͆̎̅̀̉̍t̴̯̑.̷̡͇͍̖͖͈͎̣̈͜͜

No.

K̶̹̍͒́̓ȋ̶̝̀̊̌͛l̴̛̺̦̆̆̏̇l̷̰̳̭͙̹̮̥̰̪̜̀̆̽̔̆̈̇̓͝͠.̵͇̣̈̄́͆̀͒̏͝

Is this what I did to you Grand Magister?

She clamped her teeth together, her heart beating in her ears as her body primed itself for a chase she had no every desire to pursue.

The vampyr gave the books one more tight squeeze, pressing her mother’s spellbook firmly against her chest as she turned to leave the personal hell behind.

And walk straight into the fire.


Just. A bit. Longer.
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