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   “On me!” Celesi cried. She raised her mace, iron with a heavy end of pink crystals, and charged. As she drew close, the Deathbringer shifted. Celesi brought her white and gold shield up just in time to stop the orc’s axe from crushing her skull.

   Saurfang lifted his axe again, “BY THE MIGHT OF THE LICH KING!” The axe crashed down on Celesi’s shield. An ear-splitting crack echoed across the balcony and, for one horrifying moment, the paladin’s knees buckled.

   “Zapz!” she yelled. A small poof of smoke burst behind the orc.

   “On it, toots.” The gnome rogue leaped on Saurfang’s shoulder, “Hey, Drano, tickle tickle.” He plunged his dagger through the orc’s collarbone.

   Saurfang roared and grabbed at the tiny attacker. He only touched air. Zapz dropped to the floor, dancing away from the Deathbringer. Saurfang darted after him. In three short steps, he’d have the runt.

   A flash of purple fur appeared in front of him. He swung his axe up in defense. A pair of white fangs snapped down on the axe’s handle, inches from Saurfang’s nose. The orc laughed at the druid cat dangling from his weapon.

   “You will make a fine coat, elf,” he sneered. Edriane’s glowing eyes narrowed and he yanked at the weapon. Saurfang threw back his head and laughed again. He swung the weapon, flinging Edriane into Katrina.

   “Outta the way!” she hollered and rushed the orc with Vendaci close behind.

   Saora waved her fingers in front of her, muttering a soft prayer. An aura of Light weaved around Celesi’s mutilated shield arm. It pulsed twice and vanished, her arm completely healed. With a cheer, Celesi jumped to her feet and charged back in. Outnumbered, Saurfang backed away from his attackers, sweeping his axe in a wide arc. He spun, knocking away Vendaci’s runeblade and pointed his monstrous weapon at a charging Edriane.

   “The ground runs red with your blood!” the undead orc screamed. Red tendrils of magic snaked around the Deathbringer’s axe and rocketed toward the feral druid. Edriane dodged the tendrils but didn’t see them turn mid-flight and stab him in the gut. Roaring, Edriane’s body was flung across the ground, sliding to a halt at Saora’s feet.

   “Elune’s tits!” Edriane swore, his voice garbled in his cat form. “Felt like it tore out a piece of my soul.”

   “I don’t see any wounds,” Saora whispered, kneeling to look at him.

   Across the platform, Saurfang sneered at the fallen druid. His axe gleamed red with power and, for a heart-stilling moment, Saora saw ravenous hunger in the orc’s eyes. He turned and swung at Vendaci, his weapon biting harmlessly into her armor.

   “ARGH!” Edriane’s cat form twisted violently, spasming, and fell to his side. Saora watched in horror as a red gash sliced across his exposed chest. With each swing of  the orc’s axe, another gash appeared. Red blood quickly stained the cat’s fur.

   Saurfang laughed, shoving Zapz across the floor, “Idiot mortals! Your blood feeds the damned! There is no power in Light or nature! ONLY BLOOD!”

   Zapz, the rogue, squeaked as he hit the stone floor. A line of red blood trailed behind him, leaking through the black leather at his feet. Then, it vanished. Saora blinked, confused, and looked back to Edriane. The stains across his fur pulsed rhythmically, expanding and contracting as if alive. He moaned as another gash opened on his shoulder and grimaced. His gums were pale. A small figure bounced beside the fallen cat.

   “Blood is the conduit of life,” Pips said. “That without is strengthened by it. Endemic vessels cannot withstand its loss. A dying siphon.”

   “The blood,” Saora whispered, “he’s taking your blood.” She looked to Saurfang again. The tendrils around his axe had thickened and ran across the blade with increased fervor. Red magic pooled behind his blue eyes, and he seemed taller.

   Clutching Benediction, Saora waved her hand over Edriane’s stilled body and breathed a prayer. Light surrounded him and the cuts closed. Just as her spell finished, another gash opened. Edriane winced but climbed to his paws.

   “Quit jawing and fight, pipsqueak. And you, priestess, just keep healing me,” he snarled and raced back to the fight. Saora swallowed, tossing a small heal to Zapz.

   “Won’t stop,” Pips’ hands circled one another, creating a ball of green shadows between her tiny fingers. “Addictions build until superfluous.”

   “Then what?”

   The warlock paused, her wild green eyes lit with dark magic, “Destitution.” She flung the spell at Saurfang. It splattered against his arm like paint, then smoke slowly began to rise from his coated skin. It was eating him alive like acid. The orc staggered from the spell but easily blocked another blow from Celesi.

   Saora paled. Saurfang would keep draining blood from the fighters. Whatever he did to Edriane would feed him with every swing of his axe. Sure enough, the druid was already moving slower. She shot another heal at him, feeling a pull in her chest. This could get bad, fast.

   “Teagin!” she yelled to the elf weaving healing nature around Celesi. “Help me keep an eye on Edriane!”

   Teagin grinned widely, “I’ll concentrate on his handsome hide and anyone else those red things hit. You take care of the others!”

   Saora had to suppress an urge to roll her eyes. Her eyes found Jaybird nearby, his muscles tensing as he stretched back his bowstring and fired another shot. The arrow sank through the orc’s armor at his side. Snarling, Saurfang tore the arrow from him and pointed a thick finger in Jay’s direction. The elf froze and screamed, dropping his bladed bow. Saora rushed to his side.

   “Jay?” she whispered. Closer now, she could see veins popping out from his toned arms, more so than usual. He doubled over, falling to his knees, his teeth bared in a silent grimace. The veins pulsed irregularly, reminding the priest of a bubbling cauldron.

   “BOIL AND BURN!” Saurfang roared before kicking at the hunter’s white wolf.

   Saora scowled and placed her hands on her husband’s shoulder, “Not if I can help it.”

   The moment her fingers brushed his skin, a warm glow enveloped her hands. Yellow light drifted through her arms and across Jaybird. His purple skin glowed like a flame, brightening them both. He grimaced, a shudder passing through his body, as his heart slowed to a normal level and his blood eased back under his skin. He gave a coughing laugh and placed a hand on Saora’s.

   “That hurt.”

   “Big baby.”

   Saurfang’s voice cracked across the platform, “The ground runs red with your blood!”

   The familiar incantation sent shivers through the young priestess. Saora’s head snapped back to the fight in time to see those red tendrils snap away from Saurfang’s axe and into Katrina’s gut. The paladin staggered to one knee, blood spurting from her lips. Saurfang roared and swung at her, missing only because the ice under them carried her out of reach. But the damage was done. She screamed and clutched her stomach.

   “Teagin!”

   The druid turned away from Edriane and waved a hand at Katrina, “On it!”

   Her slender fingers danced through the air, weaving green magic into leaf shapes. Katrina rose to her feet, grimacing. It wasn’t a full heal. She was still in pain. Edriane snarled, still in cat form, his head hanging low to the ground. Blood dripped from his lips, disappearing before it hit the ground. He wasn’t fully healed either.

   “Teagin, heal them to full!”

   “I’ve got it!” Teagin said. Something in her eyes shot chills through Saora’s gut. Sweat trickled down the druid’s face. Her hands wavered as she weaved her magic, the beginning trembles of exhaustion. Only two people were afflicted with the death knight’s curse, but Teagin was already nearing her limit. Not good.

   The orc and Vendaci’s weapons crashed together across the platform. They leaned into each other, the blades vibrating with the struggle. Celesi roared and swung her mace at Saurfang’s back. His back arched the wrong way, absorbing the blow. He threw his head to the sky and screamed, his strength weakening just enough for Vendaci to shove away his axe and plunge her runeblade between Saurfang’s armor.

   There was a pause, a brief moment where everyone froze. Then the axe moved. It plowed, flat side up, against Vendaci, sending her and her sword across the platform. Katrina screamed, dropping to her hands and knees, her body quivering. Another sweep of his axe sent Celesi flying and forced Zapz and the two hunters’ wolves to dance away. Edriane fell to his stomach, his claws scrambling over the ice to grip something, anything. He moaned deep in his chest and shook his massive head. Saurfang stood in the doorway again, his axe held in front of him, the tendrils swirling madly around it. Shalvaris paused, an arrow notched on her bow. Pips’ shadow spell swirled and died in her hands. Saora clutched Jaybird, and felt his skin turn ice cold.

   “The blood calls,” Saurfang whispered, “and you cannot silence her. The children are summoned and answer.”

   “That can’t be good,” Shalvaris said.

   Saurfang slammed the axe into the platform. He released the handle and it sat there, quivering from the power flowing from it. The Deathbringer’s enormous hands dug into the wound in his gut and emerged covered in blood. With a quick grimace, he flung his arms out, pointing to each side of the platform. The blood flew down his fingers and into the air. The red magic circling his axe shot after the blood, releasing their hold on the blade. They snatched the blood from the air as their “tails” broke apart. The magic landed on opposite ends of the platform, spreading to form large puddles. The puddles quivered and rippled.

   Two masses formed under the magic. Unable to watch both, Saora kept her eyes on the left mass, the closest. At first, it formed something like a bubble. Then, as it rose, it took a firmer shape. A head first, long and smooth. The mouth next, open and snarling with long fangs that were sharp and dull at once. The head continued down to an impossibly long neck.  Fins of bone snapped out of the neck, drawing a gurgling growl from the creature. The neck extended to shoulders bigger than Saora’s husband’s and upper arms that looked closer to tree trunks than arms. But just as the priestess assumed the creature would be massive, the arms and back shrank to almost nothing. At the elbows and hips, it looked like all that muscle had been sucked away to pathetic tendrils that wobbled as it stepped away from what was left of the blood puddle.

   Its massive head turned toward the orc at the center of the platform. Behind Saora, a scream told her the other puddle had also formed a creature. They seemed to be waiting for something, waiting for a command.

   Saurfang giggled deep in his throat until it became something sinister, something dark and hungry. His fingers passed over his wound again but this time he drew the blood to his lips and licked the red from his armor. Saora paled as the red in his eyes bled completely over the blue. He stretched tall, his arms extended in a morbid gesture of acceptance. He was now taller than the night elves. And as his mouth shifted, that stab of dread Saora knew so well burst through her chest.

   “Feast, my minions.”
Man, did it really take me seven chapters to get to the first fight scene? I think I did better balancing the action with the drama in the first Saora's Benediction. Something to think about for future projects.

I purposefully froze all of my normal characters so I could concentrate on Saora and different personalities. I'm surprised at how difficult it is to write a WoW story without Verita. Armod, Grifton and Onyxe are in the same boat. I know all of them. I know how they'd react to any given situation. The others, even my OCs Pips and Vendaci, I'm sort of figuring them out as the battle unfolds. It forces me to think. Thank God Saora's there. At least I have one familiar personality to hold to.

Next up: MORE FIGHTING!

Celesi's weapon: Hammer of Atonement
Jaybird's weapon: Black Bow of the Betrayer
Why do the weapons matter? I dunno, they just do to me :P

Zodiac love!
Shalvaris is one of the few WoW friends I've kept until now. I talk to him every day for hours. He'll play games I love but he can't stand just so we have something to do together. We joke about sharing the same brain, and sometimes how alike we think is really damn creepy. He's wicked, sarcastic, mischievous and loyal. There's no one who can make me smile like Shalv
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July 28, 2014
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