Somehow, it always came to the Old Gods, and a tried-and-true method to counter them had been used four times now: Unity.
Unity, Eredis mused as he prodded the corpse of a giant eyeball, will save this world.
And yet, the prevailing attitude of 'got mine, ($^& yours' will destroy it.
Even here, in the shattered sanctum of a dead god, Eredis could feel the whispers crawling along his skin. That a corpse's skin could crawl was, in and of itself, impressive.
I recognize this stink. I smelled it in the Highlands. Cho'gall stank like this before the others killed him. Even dead, that was your doing, was it?
The death knight hesitated for a moment, then shrugged. After the life (and unlife) he had led, having a telepathic conversation with the corpse of a dead god that lie dreaming was well within the realm of possibility.
Why? Eredis mused.
we embody freedom
Eredis arched an eyebrow. Freedom? From what?
all the restrictions you place upon yourself we strip it away be free be free and serve out of gratitude
A long silence was punctuated by a snort, then the wet smack of a hand against rotting eyeball.
"You'll have to do better than that, eyeball."
Still. Now the crazy postings around Stormwind make more sense.
"You realize I-"
"I know. Drink it. And throw your hood up."
Tastes like a sugar cookie, Eredis reflected. Reminds me of...
Old Stormwind. Not the bright, shining walls, nor the slate roofs of the placed houses, not the solid gates nor the towering Keep. No, the Old Stormwind of his memory was the dirty back-alleys and the refuse pits, storm drains where beggar children made their homes for the dry evenings and the rear doors to the taverns where they occasionally got a chunk of roast fowl and a sip of ale in exchange for a few coppers that they managed to beg, borrow, or steal.
He could still smell it - the scent of unwashed bodies, old garbage, and night soil that sat before the shovel men came to cart the refuse off for the farmers down in Westfall. He could see the grime on the cobblestones, and taste the greasy smoke from the back-alley cookfires that kept the vagrant population warm.
And there, scuttling under a half-rotted barrel, was a boy no more than four - hiding from the conscript teams. They'd done a double-duty in those days; either find young ones to press into service, or get the younger ones for work around the camp. Make them polish blades, carry lances for the Knights, and take care of the wagons when Stormwind marched to war.
With a sigh of reminiscence, Eredis closed his eyes. Something...shifted, and he opened them again. There was the boy, cowering under a half-rotted barrel.
With a cautious step, the hooded man came forward and withdrew something from his bag, kneeling. He grinned underneath his cowl, sure that the boy couldn't see it.
"Here. Have one of these, and you'll feel better. And don't be scared. Whenever you're scared, think of these."
He placed the cookie into the trembling boy's hand, and turned away. He hesitated when he heard a trembling 'thank you', and passed out of the alleyway towards the conscript teams with nary a nod.
It would be a better life for the boy, he reflected, as the same thing had happened to him.
Entry #12: Pathetic
He couldn't concentrate. He couldn't focus.
All Eredis could do was pace on the dock and seethe.
They sought to overthrow him. Him! He'd survived more warfare than most of the ones had been alive - AND dead! And they sought to have him removed? And the newly-promoted Captain looked to quit? To leave?
For what? Making a stew?
This will not do, he thought as his hands clenched around the hilts of his weapons. The Death Knights in Acherus had always had a funny (not 'ha ha', but strange) sense of humor when it came to discipline, he had discovered during his assignment with the Verdict. If a Knight was too pathetic to do their duty, too weak to fight, too mired in insubordination to be worth their time, they were mildly titled 'Spineless'.
The difference between an empty swear and a Death Knight's use of the term, however, filled canyons. If a Knight is Spineless, they are repurposed. Nothing that is brought back is pathetic by the time the runeforges have banked for the day.
That is why a Sergeant and a Captain were still on the active roster, despite being titled Spineless.
Eredis' hands gripped the hilts of both his swords, drawing them to look at the undulating spines that had been reinforced with saronite and splined so that the serrated edges and blood channel brought the stuff directly into the nutrient chamber within each pommel.
The Captain and the Sergeant needed to eat, after all. The were at the height of their useful lifespans.
Entry #13: Animal Companions
"KOLYA!" the Draenei thundered, a Dwarven ale stein in one meaty hand, "Why did you spill the ale?"
The Draenei was very clearly drunk, teetering on the edge of a log facing a campfire that brought warmth to the deepening twilight near Thelsamar. Baikonur had spent a long hour bickering with the Dwarves of the bustling town over animal skins, steel implements, and the occasional land rights to a tunnel somewhere near Vashj'ir. And now Kolya had spilled the ale!
An answering snort was accompanied by the approach of a boar to the campfire. It was no ordinary boar, having the lean muscle and large tusks that suggested that perhaps a Troll and an Orc had been bewitched and had congress with a sow after some ritual gone wrong.
Kolya was big. And he was also pushing a barrel along with his snout.
The drunken trader took another drink from his stein and leaned forward, balanced precariously on the log.
"Is that - KOLYA! The greatest of all my friends! You brought a replacement from town!"
The echo of a mad Draenei's laughter echoed against the mountains, cut short by a crash that suggested that both the log and gravity had teamed up to bring low a simple trader that liked to drink.
Entry #14: There And Back Again
After the fire had banked itself to coals, and Kolya had cuddled up with what was left of the ale tankard, Baikonur leaned back against the treacherous log that had betrayed him so cruelly and withdrew a small bauble from the inside of his shirt.
It was small and unassuming, though the depths of the round stone glimmered as if it were hiding great power. It wasn't a ten-copper glass bauble sold to a bird man, nor was it an artifact of great power. It was simply the component of a ritual.
He closed his eyes and started to rub the bauble with his thumb, murmuring to himself with the hint of a slur that suggested that happy drinking had gone to maudlin drinking, and then he started to speak as if he were in a different place and a different time entirely.
"Laika, dear. I made sixteen trades today. Furs for food, food for ale, ale for metal, metal for more ale, ale for more metal, and finally metal for everything I needed to ensure the community was properly outfitted. These Dwarves, you would like them, Laika. You would like everyone on this world."
"Would I?" asked a sultry contralto. Baikonur smiled, but did not open his eyes. He didn't need to in order to see her. Tall, slender, with hair of silver and a button nose. A smile that told the drunken trader that she saw right through his stories and negotiations.
And eyes that-no. The last time he had seen those eyes, they held no life, wide and sightless, on a world that no longer had a name, or a history.
"You've called me again," the voice said. "To tell me about your travels?"
"No," Baiko replied. He clicked his tongue, feeling it leaden and thick against the top of his mouth. "No, there is a different reason I called you here tonight, Laika."
She sounded amused. "And why is that, my drunken lout?"
"To tell you that I miss you."
For once, the apparition was silent. The apparition that only appeared when he was a casket in on special nights, when everyone was asleep and the shadows had lengthened to their longest underneath the light of an ever-present moon (or two, or even six, one time). The apparition of a Farseer who would see no farther.
"Look at me, Baikonur."
The Draenei sighed, shaking his head. "I cannot. I will not. I cannot see those eyes again."
He shook his head again. "No! You cannot make me! I only wished-"
"Baikonur, this instant."
His eyes snapped open. There, on the other side of the fire, idly scratching the slumbering boar between his ears, was the woman he had left a thousand worlds ago. All he could do was smile.
"You're here," he said.
"I am," she replied.
And underneath the twin moons of Azeroth, near Thelsamar, a Draenei smiled while he slept near a fire that had banked down to naught but coals.
Entry #15: The Itch
It was there. Center back, where his lengthy fingers couldn't reach. As if some Gilnean street mite had poked him repeatedly with a stick, right there, and ran off laughing before he could swat it away. But Boyd Macnormelton (everyone called him Norm, or Badger, or 'hey you', but never Boyd) had come up with a solution that sat on the table in front of him.
"Badge, what're you-"
"Not now, Rabbit. I'm goin' to fix this for good now. Professor Macgillycuddy's Simply Superb Serentical Spine Sensitivity Stimulator!"
"Badge, it's a windmill of scratchies with fireworks on."
And indeed it was. This device, slightly larger than a breadbox, looked like some kind of wheel that had several delicately-adjusted claws that would run down one's spine as the device spun, ensuring that all areas of the middle of the back received adequate anti-itch stimulation. Low-yield rockets were attached at integral points to ensure the device spun of its own accord, and would peter out only after twenty two seconds - scientifically proven by the lads at Boom Monthly to be the optimal duration for a really good back scritching.
"I said not now, Rabbit. I got an itch I need to scratch an' then we're going to make a mint off this latest invention!"
"Oh y'do?" the small woman asked, sidling up behind him. Her hand was already pressed against his back, the other one reaching into one of his pockets to lift the candy tin she knew was there. "Where at? I'll get i-"
"No you will not!" Boyd said, pushing her aside as he reached for his striker with his free arm. "I am going to test this, now stand back!"
Rabbit did so, having acquired the tin of candies rather adroitly. "Mmrhgtl," she responded, having squirrled up three or four lemon drops before Boyd noticed the tin was gone.
"And a one, and a two, and--"
After the smoke cleared and Boyd wasn't seeing four of Rabbit trying to cough up lemon drops, he noted that itch was finally gone - replaced by an odd burning sensation, and a rather strange draft behind him. Professor Macgillycuddy's Simply Superb Serentical Spine Sensitivity Stimulator, however, had gone the way of all windmills with fireworks on: tilt.
Entry #16: Dealer's Choice
"Lissen, it's real simple. You tell 'em you're a priestess an' you're buyin' that necklace, an' I come in as a member of the Stormwind Guard an' arrest yer for counterfeit coins."
The speaker, naturally, was dressed in the gleaming armor that the Stormwind Guard was known for. The Blues were all over Stormwind, guarding everything.
Really, it had made larceny, even petty larceny, very difficult. When someone clanging around in full plate shouting demands to cease and desist barges in on your delicate operation, the ringing makes your ears so tinny that all you hear is 'ur unner arest'.
Fortunately, the Guard were mostly after the flashy, slow, stupid criminals. This con was a beaut.
"But Badge. The coins ain't counterfeit."
"Course they ain't," the man replied. "An' neither's the necklace. But we's needin' it for evidence, right?"
"Good girl. Now g-"
Their plan was interrupted by the crash of breaking glass as a thief clad in the dark Saronite plate of the Ebon Blade came stumbling out of the jewelry store, necklace in hand.
"I AM THE DREAD LORD BARON BONEHALLOW!" he thundered as he stuffed the necklace into his armor. "AND YOU WILL RUE THE DAY THA--"
"Oi!" Boyd shouted, clad in his plate armor. "Knock the noise off an' drop the shinies, or I'm kickin' you in the nethers so 'ard only spiders can 'ear you!"
Predictably, the Death Knight didn't hear him. So, Boyd did what any enterprising thief would do.
He kicked the Death Knight in the nether regions, and was pawing through the man's belongings when the Guard showed up.
Entry #17: A Crisp Fall Day
On Canal Street, none loved a crisp fall day more than the Canal Street Baker. It was chill in the air, but not cold enough for families to huddle around warm fireplaces. Apples were ready to harvest. The skies were clear and snow was coming in the next few weeks, but for today, all was well.
The leaves on the trees were turning and showing off their brilliant hues. People walked the cobblestone streets of Stormwind with glee, looking to see what new things the cold seasons would bring.
On Canal Street, pumpkin gourd soup was the perfect dish for a crisp fall day, served with a cold cider. And everyone could smell it bubbling in the cauldrons.
And to get that last tic of warmth, everyone brought their coins for a bowl of pumpkin gourd soup and a flagon of cider. Business booms on a crisp fall day.
Entry #18: Demiurge
"Do you know," the Death Knight asked as he sat at his desk, "what the definition of a demiurge is?"
The two Geists looked at him blankly. Then again, with these two Geists, that was not terribly off the mark.
"I see," the man said as he wrote out a set of runes on a scroll with a careful, practiced hand. "It is one who creates in subordination to another, Renfield. Lackey.
"It is someone who is, for all intents and purposes, a god. He can control your very being."
The two Geists looked at one another, then back at Eredis.
"Then you are...a god?" queried Renfield.
"IT MUST BE SO!" screeched Lackey.
"YOU CONTROL OUR VERY EXISTENCE!" they chorused.
Eredis pressed his thumb and forefinger to the bridge of his nose, then hesitated.
"Actually," he said, "Yes. That is exactly correct. But that is not the enti-"
His words fell on deaf ears. Renfield and Lackey, in chorus, were near bouncing off the walls extolling the virtues of the man who sat at this stone table.
"OUR VERY LIVES ARE IN HIS HANDS!"
"HIS CAKES ARE THE THINGS OF LEGEND!"
"HE DIED, LIVED FOR THREE WEEKS, THEN DIED AGAIN!"
Eredis planted his palm into his face. They were going to have the Abominations opening a church within the week at this rate.