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Mask of Mirrors

One.

Long have I grappled with this thing that I cannot change, this war I am not allowed to fight, the battles I am kept from even being involved in. All because I was forced into a promise that whispers to me in my sleep words of comfort and salvation that are sickly sweet yet oddly warming to this cold and decrepit heart of stone within my breast.

I walk the streets of Orgimmar, dusty and grimy and filled with noise and heat and too many people and all I can hear is the whisper of voices not my own, bouncing around in my head and telling me what course I should plot with my own destiny and for those whom I have come to care so much about.

Hardishane's fault, but I will not rant on that again now.

Long have I shuffled through the deathly quiet passages of the Undercity, so unlike that of Orgrimmar where every turn finds more and more gathered and making noise as they sell their wares, barter for goods and celebrate victories for the Horde. In the Undercity it is easier to listen and what you hear is more oft quite valuable when compared to the hustle and bustle of the Horde's central city so far away in the desert of Kalimdor.

Books have ever been my bane, and I seek them out to this day. Old parchments and scrolls, books whose bindings have long since withered away and have been replaced or repaired as well as can be expected. They are often written in hands so different from my own that I marvel at the uniqueness of them. Scratches on a page, all of them, yet each scratch is unique to the hand that made it - some press deeply, others far more lightly and the latter so faded one can hardly make it out.

Yet I am obsessed with knowledge. "Knowledge is power," my father once said to me, and I feel comfortable calling him that now that so many decades have passed since his death. Has it been decades only? Sometimes the mind wanders, and even I forget how long ago it was. Surely more than decades. "And knowledge will be your greatest defense."

Both right and wrong, but then parents often are.

So many old books, in so many ancient languages and I find myself following a trail to something that I cannot know will even be possible and yet I must try. I am not one to stand aside while those I care about are made to suffer. I have said this more often than not, and still people do not accept it for truth until I throw it in their face where they can no longer deny it, and then they curse me as a monster.

Which I have always been.

The scrolls I have come into possession of are written in the hand of someone infamous and I don't know how I feel about that. I'm sure the Blood Elf in my head would curse me if I allowed her to know my thoughts. I don't any longer, I know now how to keep her at bay. As the God said, I will have to do something about the Highborne in my mind sooner or later. For now, I keep her locked away so she has become only a dull buzzing.

The God is another story, for another time. She speaks only to remind me of my promise.

As if I need ever be reminded of a promise once made.

The translation has taken weeks, yet I have it now. I understand the words of the incantation, the method of it's casting - both are extremely important and the novice Magi does not always understand this. Far too often, I have seen the young and foolish attempt the Arcane without understanding what the words they speak mean - this can cause disaster. If you do not understand the words - their meaning, how can you properly speak them and will them true?

...something like this, I had to understand every nuance and subtlety before even trying to attempt it.

After all, I seek to alter the world as we know it.

...and break a promise to a God.

Two

I have never been, nor ever plan to be, a Religious man. I was told from the day I was born how anathema to religion and God in general I am, therefore if no God wanted anything to do with me, why should I have anything to do with them? In fact, much of my youth was spent, or misspent depending on your point of view, defacing or cursing all that was built to honor both the Light and Elune - the religions of my parents, such as they were.

So imagine my surprise to speak to something or someone that calls itself a God, and allows and encourages others to worship it.

I had to reconsider many things, but not in the way most would expect. I did not have a religious experience, fall to my knees and repent my evil ways, hoping for the chance at salvation and rebirth upon my demise. Quite the contrary. I found myself reevaluating the world and even the Universe as I have come to understand it.

There are beings of inordinate power and majesty in this Universe of Chaos and Balance where we all exist. Would I not appear as a God to the ants scurrying along the ground beneath my feet? Has not my power grown to the point where an uncivilized and uncultured creature of mediocre intellect might not perceive me as something greater than I am? Greater than simply Morticai?

'Master' they call me. How much more would I need to know in order to become something more?

Given this possibility, of course there are going to be beings with power that I cannot begin to grasp, yet would I call these beings Gods? No, not really. But I see no reason to insult one if I come face to face with it, as I did so recently with a being calling herself the 'Earthmother', a deity of some repute among the Cenarions - Elves and Tauren all. If a creature of immeasurable power holds you within their grasp and wishes to be called a God, who am I to argue the point?

I have never made a decision lightly nor without forethought and strong consideration. I am many things. Rash is not one of them. I don't know if I could explain to another how I came to the decision that a promise made to a God must now be broken - I don't think anyone else would understand what I am doing. Reasons? I have so many, but there is no one who has ever understood why I do the things I do.

I take that back. There is one. Only he is lost to me now, lost to a madness sparked in the zealousness of youth and the promise of power and acceptance I think he always desired.

Religion, in all it's forms, is so strong because the hearts of the mortal creatures are so easily seduced. Your existence is finite, a candle flickering briefly in an ever expanding Universe. ....but wait, there is more. You don't have to end when this body fails, and it will fail. There is something else, something wonderful, something that comes....after.

If that fails, you can simply scare them into obedience and tell them that what comes after means pain and suffering for all eternity should you not fall into step in this life. Both methods work well enough, and I suppose there is some value to keeping sentient beings from running around doing whatever they wish all the time. If we each did only what our hearts desired - imagine the Chaos that would ensue....

I think I prefer the latter to the former. Harsh words tend to be more straight forward and it's easier to discern what they are seeking as opposed to the honey and silken voice of someone whispering to you about the wonders you will see if you only do a few things....

That is how I lost him, lost my brother before I ever met him.

I have studied the Mask of Mirrors because I know he would want me to fix this, no matter the cost. Change the world for the better.

...and to hell with the God.

Three

Zihasi Firepaw.

Another drawn to Hardishane, but there was a spark of defiance and attitude which appealed to me, telling me she would one day be an Exarch like Marinda before her. I don't care for those who toe the line and follow all the rules - well, rules set forth by others. Break my rules and I'll most likely break you for your trouble.

But that's neither here nor there.

She stood out, thought fast even as I barraged her with seemingly nonsensical and disconnected questions, realizing that there was a purpose she had not yet divined and that I would not be swayed from receiving my answers. She answered, but showed more than a little backbone as she did so.

The war against her has been ...complicated - the Cenarions? Relentless. One wonders why they are so intent on killing one of their own until you actually meet Zihasi Firepaw - at that point, the question is answered. She is defiant, troublesome and independent - all the qualities which draw her to me, I think and make them despise her. They want her loyalties to be clean cut and clearly defined - as long as that means she belongs to them alone.

It irks them that her loyalties lie with the Splinter, and more importantly, with Hardishane. Worse, she follows the Earthmother and not those who would act in her name. She understands my motives better than most, which makes her loyal to me as well.

Especially when Hardishane responds to the siren's call and is lost to us.

How odd that both Hardishane and Zihasi lose themselves to whispers in the dark. Perhaps it is that common thread which binds them together, Lioness and Liontamer, and I at odds with those behind the voices. I war with the Siren and the God, and to hell with the consequences as they apply to myself.

I have never before broken a promise; a personal quirk of mine. I keep my word. Yet as I have studied this situation, this private Cenarion vendetta, I have come to realize that I must act and put an end to this persecution once and for all. This breaks a promise not to interfere in exchange for....support when I will need it most.

I no longer give a damn.

But, to change the world? Even for me this is a daunting task. I will be changing how everyone perceives the world around them, hiding someone in plain site, wrapping her in weaves of Arcane Magiks so that her reflection in the minds eye of those who see her will appear different. Masked.

It's not a matter of 'if' I can accomplish this - I have translated the texts, I know the ritual involved - it's a matter of when. This is no slight of hand or simple illusion I play at here - no, this will take power beyond me at the moment due to my attempts to stave off the Plague infecting her and to lessen the power the Lady holds over Hardishane.

I'm spread far too thin at the moment, and bleeding at the seams.

So I look to the stars for my answer.

....and I find that my birthday approaches.

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