So, this is what I spend all my time doing on WoW. It’s called ‘RP’, and it can be a strange beast…
A bit of background. I ran this as a real-time scene (two, actually, about a week apart) with another player, so it’s a little choppy. All of the actions of the mental visitor/guest were written by the other player. Her character, Nocxia, is currently working with the bad guys at Scholomance (one of the instances in the game). In reaction to some previous scenes, the main bad guy, Instructress Malicia, has been psychicly attacking Cinnavar (my character) while she sleeps. Stryke is Cinnavar’s betrothed, and an assassin and rogue. Thrace is a mage and one of Cinnavar’s closest friends. Being an extension of me, Cinnavar has a very active mental landscape, and similar to me she sometimes uses mental constructs to help her work out complicated situations. I think that’s all you need know for the following to make sense.
For several sleepless nights, Cinnavar had struggled to keep out the invader. This night, she made sure it was met with no resistance. As the seeds of horror and terror were planted in the fertile ground of Cinnavar’s mind, she reached out and grabbed hold of the psychic, questing tendril. Rather than being pushed away, the tendril was yanked forward, deeper into her mental landscape.
The tendril was pulled forward, having been caught far, far off-guard. It flailed a bit in utter confusion.
The confusion resolved, and the tendril found itself standing in the antechamber of Cinnavar’s mind, though there were a few minor changes. Three elaborately-carved doors lined one wall. Dream-Stryke and dream-Thrace — still only clad in loincloths, though their palm fronds were propped against the wall — stood before the doors, looking a little awkward. Both of the elves seemed to have some kind of security badge glued to their bare chests with a sigil in the shape of a keyhole.
The tendril flailed a bit, looking around for an exit since it had been compromised; it was not a happy tendril.
Dream-Thrace took a step towards the tendril, “You might as well reveal yourself, Malicia. You’ll be trapped here unless you do.”
The tendril snarled a bit and reformed into an odd, pointed voidwalker-type creature, much like the shades and eyes found in Naxxramas. “Fools! You cannot escape the mistress’s wraths!” it hissed in an odd monotone.
Thrace tugged at his loincloth, trying to make it cover a bit more than it did. “Er… right. So, here’s the deal. You’re not welcome here, but Cinn can’t figure out a way to keep you out, so she’s decided to offer your Mistress a challenge.”
The shade hissed, “Foolssss! You cannot challenge the Mistress! She will annihilate you all! It has been out of sheer pity that this girl’s mind was not crushed to begin with!” It flailed and hissed and went on and on and on…
Thrace watched in fascination as the shade thrashed. He looked as if he were about to whip out a pad and start taking notes when Stryke poked him.
“Make the offer, Mr. Sexy-Brain, or we’ll never get out of these get-ups.”
Thrace blinked and nodded. “Right.” He cleared his throat. “As Beefcake here indicated, this isn’t a challenge in the sense you’re thinking of. Cinnavar knows she can’t best you, but she can offer you something that not even you would be able to take from her unwilling. Her name.”
The shade, still flailing and about to spam shadow-bolts, paused and twitched a little, and then looked intrigued. “Oh? At what cost, fleshly ones?” It suddenly seemed plotty and schemy, touching its fingers together a lá Monty Burns.
Thrace considered informing the shade that he was not *actually* made of flesh, being only a dream construct of Cinnavar’s rather one-track imagination, but then realized that such explanations would be wasted on a lackey.
“This offer is for your Mistress, not you. A game of sorts. The price is answers to our questions. The potential reward is, as I mentioned, Cinnavar’s name.”
“Mmmm. You’re speaking to her now, handsome. You have my full attention.”
Thrace tugged at his loincloth again. Behind him, Stryke flicked at the three piercings in his ear and clicked his tongue piercing against his teeth, giving the new arrival a wicked-sexy grin.
“Mmm. I could get used to this place, you know. All you need is that shy little blonde one, and you have a nice set here, my dear.”
Thrace looked confused, which was unusual for him. Usually he knew more about what was going on than anyone. Maybe Cinn imagined him wrong? He tamped down on the panic before it could go any further. “Shy little blonde?”
“The shadows aren’t as blind as you think. They see a lot, like how she drools over that yellow shirtless puppy of a paladin.’
Stryke smirked, “Oh. That one. He’s here somewhere, but she leaves business to the professionals.” He flicked his piercings again… cause… y’know… that’s what Stryke does.
“Of course. Now, what is this offer?”
Thrace cleared his throat and gestured behind himself. “Behind one of those doors lies the key to Cinnavar’s soul: her true name. The others are exits from her mind. My esteemed colleague here holds the key to the doors.”
Stryke pulled out a key — it’s not quite clear from where, given the skimpiness of his outfit — and held it up. Thrace nodded and continued.
“We will ask you one question, and in exchange for the answer, you will get the key to try one door. If you find her name, then I’m certain you know what that means. If the door leads to an exit, then you will be barred from this place until she sleeps again. Do you agree to this?”
“I suppose a few hours of break time is worth the risk. Because, as you know, night will fall soon, and the girl will need to sleep again. How could I say no?”
Stryke raised a hand to itch at the edges of the badge glued to his chest, looking bored already. Thrace nodded. “Yes, but in the meantime, she gets a full night’s rest, and tomorrow, the same challenge will be laid before you. One question answered for one chance at the door.”
“Just ask the damn question already, Mr. Sexy-Brain. She agreed.”
Thrace gave their visitor a searching look. “*Do* you? Agree?”
“Of course, but I can’t help if a mind in chaos creates its own evils. Fire away.”
“Right. Then the question is this: What hold do you have over Nocxia, that she won’t leave you of her own accord?”
“She doesn’t leave because she feels she doesn’t deserve to leave. The girl hates herself, loathes herself, because she knows she’s trash. She wasted everything she had. Without me, she’s just a whore who sells her services instead of her body. I give her an actual purpose.
“Do you know what it’s like, dear? To know that if you misstep, the very people who you love and call your friends might strike you down and destroy you without a second chance?”
Thrace frowned, and Stryke’s wicked-sexy grin actually darkened into a glower — though it was a wicked-sexy glower. Thrace cleared his throat. “I see. Very well.” He nodded to Stryke.
Stryke stepped forward, looking as though he’d really like to shiv their visitor in the gut. A deadly looking blade appeared at his hip in a swirl of dream-smoke, but he didn’t touch it. He just handed their guest the key. “You have ten seconds to decide and get the hell out.”
The shade giggled oddly and took the key from his hand, sneaking a chilly kiss on his cheek. “Thank you, my dear… and without further ado.” She walked over to the left-most door and opened it, passing through…
The shade exited into a blackened void, the sky and ground falling away in both directions to eternity. Shunted out of Cinn’s mind, it snapped back to wherever it came from, a light female laugh trailing it.
“Guessed wrong, my dear! Try again tomorrow. Nighty-night!”
* * *
For several nights in a row, the Visitor found herself in the antechamber of Cinn’s mind, facing off against an uncomfortably-loinclothed Thrace, a smirking Stryke, and three identical doors along one wall. This night was no different. Thrace stepped forward, tugging at his loincloth. Stryke leaned against the wall to one side of the doors, occasionally scratching at the badge glued to his chest.
Thrace sighed. “Back again, I see. You don’t give up, do you?”
Instructress Malicia appeared as usual, though now she had done away with the disguise shadow and was just using an avatar of herself. While she normally came alone, tonight she was accompanied by a small shadow/voidwalker dude, as what appeared to be nothing more than a pet.
“No? Well, the prize is rather delicious, and getting to play with the eye-candy is always fun. Especially you, pretty boy.” She blew a kiss to fake!stryke with a twisted little smirk. “You’re just as yummy in person.”
Stryke winked back at her. “Yeah. I had fun too. Especially when I killed you. And your boss. And everyone else in that fucking place. Good treasure, too. We should do it again sometime.”
“Well, deary, for you I don’t mind at all, but maybe we could dispose of a few… optional… things, and get a bit more hands-on.”
Stryke paused in the midst of scratching. “Hn. Like what?”
Mal leaned in and whispered some things about leather and lace and chains that would make a sailor blush.
Thrace blushed, even though there was no way he could have heard her. Stryke’s hand twitched against the cords holding his loincloth in place. A small needle pressed out. He flicked it between his fingers, eyeing Mal. “I don’t do corpses.”
“Oh, honey, I’m more alive than you’d ever know, but at any rate…” She settled down onto a plush chaise lounge. “What shall be the quiz of the evening?”
What was it with evil women being preoccupied with abusive sex, Thrace wondered. Did the correlation also indicate causation, or were they just playing into type? He shook his head as he realized the two other imagined entities were still glaring at each other… or maybe those were sultry looks. Thrace had never quite been able to tell the difference.
“Er, right. Same game, different question. You answer honestly, you get the key to the doors. One of them leads to Cinnavar’s true name, the other doors lead out of her mind. Agreed?”
“If I didn’t agree, do you really think I would have shown up? Though, really, you lot have been asking absolutely boring things. Where’s your sense of fun?”
“She’s right. Boring questions.”
Thrace huffed. “Well, do you think you can do better? If so, go right ahead, Beefcake.”
Stryke eyed Malicia up and down, still smirking. “Sure.”
Malicia shifted a bit to give Stryke a better view of her bosom, but otherwise she just smirked up at him, waiting patiently.
Stryke smirked back, needle flipping between his fingers. “Seen better.” The needle disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. “Hn. Right. How do I kill you so you stay dead?”
“Your guess is as good as mine. I don’t know how I come back, my dear. I just do. We all just… do. Sometimes it’s just poofing back, sometimes we have to jog for a bit in a world without color, but… it never fails. For ten years, I’ve been stuck in this cycle. We all have. Granted, sometimes we get a rez, such as what my pet provides me, but… maybe it’s a Scourge thing, but we seem to have fallen out of sync with the mortal wheel, if you catch my drift.”
“Like ghosts?” Thrace interrupted. “But ghosts are usually tied to a particular place. They can’t leave it. So how is it that you can?”
He looked at Stryke, and Stryke flicked his piercings. “She can’t,” they both said to each other in unison, blinking.
“That’s why you need Nocxia,” Thrace said in dawning wonder. “You’re ghosts. Chained to a location. Always running back, enacting the same behaviors over and over.” Thrace looked like he could go on forever, but Stryke interrupted.
“Dead, but can’t die. Don’t forget that, Mr. Sexy-Brain.”
Thrace rolled his eyes. Hadn’t they already covered that territory? “Right. Thanks, Beefcake. But dealing with ghosts…” He turned on Malicia, “what did you care for in life?”
“There’s one problem with your assumption, boys. I’m not dead. I get killed, yes, but I’m still very much alive. As is Nocxia. And yet she’s trapped in the same cycle I am. Riddle me that, naked men.”
Thrace wondered if he just wasn’t communicating clearly. He looked at his companion, but the rogue seemed more interested in trying to look down Malicia’s dress. Thrace sighed. The important stuff always depended on him. “But when your walls are breeched? When people come to kill you? What happens then?” He fixed her with a piercing gaze, “How long ago did you submit that paperwork for your transfer? When was the last time you left that place? When your *physical body* left that place?”
“Last week I went up to the citadel to have tea with my dearest. The same thing I do every week.”
Thrace nodded, as if this, too, tolds him something. “A week. That must be the cycle. Just a week.”
Stryke rolled his shoulders, glancing over at Thrace, “Got something, Sexy-Brain?”
Thrace shook his head. “Maybe. I’ll need to conduct some tests. Instructress,” he turned to the woman, “What would it be worth to you to be able to leave that place forever? Would you release Nocxia? If we released you?”
“No, that’s not an option. My pet is *my* pet. Not that paladin’s. Not yours. Mine. I welded the collar to her flesh this time so that she’d remember that. And you’re fools if you think I am dead. If I were dead, I wouldn’t bleed. And I am fairly certain Nocxia is not dead, either… and yet, as I said, when she dies, she comes back too. Perhaps with a new scar, but still, the fact remains.
Thrace felt rising anger, which was odd because he rarely got angry, but somehow the idea of being enslaved was very upsetting to him. He struggled to keep his voice calm. “What about you? Do you scar?” He looked at Stryke, who had been examining the woman.
The rogue shook his head, looking as furious as Thrace felt. Now that was interesting. What could Malicia have said to set Stryke’s fists to clenching and his eyes to flashing in that sexy-furious way? Thrace grimaced. Damn Cinnavar. It was annoying that his thoughts weren’t entirely his own.
“She’s clean.” Stryke gave the woman a disgusted look. “At least, the bits I’ve seen.”
“I can only imagine none of the wounds done to me were so grevious as to leave a mark. Not nearly as much emotion. But by the time they get to me, most adventurers are worn down anyways.”
Stryke’s clenching fists found purchase on the pommel of Sinister Revenge. “We can test that theory. I’m fresh.”
Thrace waved him down. “No, none of that yet. She’s still our guest.” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully, but it was a gesture that worked better with facial hair. Maybe he needed to grow a beard? He’d ask Cinn about it later.
Malicia yawned. “If that’s all, then? You still owe me a key.”
Stryke and Thrace both blinked, the original purpose of their conversation forgotten. Stryke was the first to recover, nudging Thrace. “My question was better.” He stepped forward and held the key for Malicia.
“Actually, boys, this time we’re gonna play a bit differently. Rhubarb? Come back to mommy with your new toy.”
With that, the shadowfiend crawled out from under the lounge, now much bigger, jaws clasped around the shoulder of a terrified-looking Bistrane.
“Fuck.” Stryke lowered to a crouch, fading out of sight as he drew his blade.
Thrace looked around, surprised at being deserted and ready to kick himself for forgetting about the demon. Really, he was pretty sure Cinn had imagined him wrong. He was more observant than this in real life. Wasn’t he? Wasn’t he? He tried to give Bistrane a reassuring smile as the boy was pulled into the room.
“Ow. Ow! Ow ow ow.” Bistrane bent towards the demon to try to lessen the pain of the jaws, the paladin’s golden hair flowing like a river of light down his bare, well-muscled back. He didn’t quite understand the loincloth dresscode, but he was certain Miss Cinnavar must have a good reason for it. “Ow?”
“Ah. And look at what my pet found.”
“Uh. Hi Thrace. And Stryke.” Bistrane gave a wave to Thrace, then another to an empty spot behind Malicia’s shoulder.
“Nice going, Eye-Candy,” came Stryke’s low growl from the spot.
Mal just kinda… blinked… at Bistrane, and nearly facepalmed. “He’s not that swift, is he?” The shadow fiend continued to chew on the boy’s shoulder, looking a bit hungry and bored. With a flick of her fingers, Malicia sent a bubble of shadow energy up around herself.
Thrace shook his head. “Well, let’s just say that we don’t keep him around for his brains.” His eyes flicked briefly behind Mal as Stryke appeared from the shadows. Bistrane whimpered, though whether in fear of the rogue or in pain from the shoulder-chewing was hard to tell.
“We can do just fine without him,” Stryke muttered, blade testing the strength of the priest’s bubble. “Be a lot quieter…”
Mal glanced behind her and then rather suddenly leaned up to give Stryke a quick, full-tongue kiss before dispersing and reforming on the other side of her pet.
“Hey!” Bistrane said at the rogue’s words. Then Thrace’s earlier insult made it through. “Hey! My job is *very* important. Somebody has to be on hand to compliment Cinnavar on her hair and tell her that her dress is pretty. And I’m good at it. It’s nice to finally be good at something.” He looked back at the demon chewing on his shoulder. “Hey!”
“Well, it seems that the boy has some value. Now, we’re going to do this again, and this time, no cheating, or I’m taking him with me. And every time I come back, I’ll take something else. And I’ll see to it that Cinnavar never gets any rest. You do want the dear girl to sleep, don’t you? I mean, after all, it was the lack of sleep that caused Nocxia to fall and betray her beloved.”
Thrace’s eyes flicked back to Stryke, then over to Bistrane. “We’re not cheating. Actually, we can’t cheat. In this place, what we say creates reality. One of the doors in this room leads to Cinn’s name. The key that you won from Stryke opens the door.
Behind Mal, Stryke leaned against the wall with the doors, passing the key back and forth between his fingers. He winked at her, idly reaching up to scratch at his glued-on badge. Thrace shot Bistrane a worried look. “Let’s call the game. Let the boy go and you’ve won the key for one last try. Make your pick and be gone. For good.”
“Alright, give me the key. But in exchange for this toy, I get to ask *you* a question now, and you must swear that you will tell me the truth. If you lie, I have the right to return at my leisure for another go.”
Thrace shifted uncomfortably. He was crap at lying. Before he could negotiate, Stryke yawned. “Done. This got boring five nights ago. Cinn should have just let me kill you.”
Mal turned to look at Stryke, holding out her hand for the key and nodding to the fiend. It gave Bistranés shoulder a good crunch before tossing the boy at Thrace’s feet. Bistrane fell back on his rump, toppling Thrace over in the process. They struggled to rise in a series of oomphs and grunts and lithe, bare, tangled limbs.
Stryke rolled his eyes and flexed his shoulders. “Don’t suppose you’d take them with you?” He handed her the key.
“No. I don’t need them. But I ask you dear, and no lies… which door is her name behind?”
Stryke smirked, winking at her. “The one right in front of you. Now get out.”
She smiled and headed towards that door. “Thank you, dear, for making that a reality.”
Stryke stepped to one side, giving the tangled pile of Thrace and Bistrane a kick. “Later, babe. Next time I see you, it’ll be the last.”
Stryke’s smirk never dimmed as Malicia exited out the door, and it grew at her psychic howl of defeat as she was shunted a final time from Cinnavar’s mind. He scratched at the badge on his chest. Damn thing was annoying as hell.
Thrace finally disentangled himself from Bistrane, a bit disgusted at the gratuitous wrestling he’d been forced to endure for Cinnavar’s amusement. He batted at Stryke’s hand with more force than necessary.
“Stop that! Every time you scratched at that thing, I was sure you were going to give the game away.”
“It itches,” Stryke complained, rolling his broad, bare shoulders.
“Of all the places for Cinn to hide her name…” Thrace trailed off, shaking his head. He pulled his own keyhole badge off his chest. It was just a red-herring, so that Malicia wouldn’t think to question the one the rogue sported. Stryke was back to smirking.
“Smartest thing Cinny ever did, giving it to me for safekeeping,” Stryke mused, fingers drumming a heartbeat tattoo against his own keyhole badge. His hand strayed down to the dagger at his side. “Almost wish that bitch *had* guessed correctly. I would have shoved that key down her throat before I let her take what’s mine.”