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Such A Waste

--by Bhasu

Her eyes focused down the shaft of her arrow, until the head grew blurry and the Wretched she had been tracking came clearly into view. He stopped and shuddered briefly, no doubt going through some withdrawal. The Wretched were not only dangerous, but they were also a constant reminder to her of what she could become, should her mental strength waver.

Sanish thought about that; if she gave in to her need to feed on arcane power, losing herself in the rapture of it, she would wake up one day in the same state as her quarry. An elf, once just like her, that had now become little more than a beast, sating its arcane thirst whenever it could.

She closed her eyes, steadying herself for a few breaths, putting the thought that this beast had once been her kin out of her head. When she opened her eyes, she saw only her target. She steadied her eyes for a few moments longer, quieting her heartbeat to keep the arrow on target, searching for the perfect spot on her quarry.

"Kowshka, go," she whispered to her lynx, not taking her eyes off of her target, but knowing her cat had heard her when she heard the soft padding of her feet, muffled as it was from the sound of the autumn breeze blowing through the tall grasses.

The big cat opened her mouth as if to growl, but made only a quiet chittering noise, her whiskers twitching as she did so. Quietly, she crept towards the Wretched messenger. Kowshka crept quietly closer until only a few feet of underbrush separated her from their prey.

There was a rustling as the cat pounced, raking the back of the quarry. The debased elf turned, and the twang of a bowstring sounded.

Sanish watched as her mystically charged arrow traveled true, sticking in the throat of the elf. Its sickly emerald eyes widened in shock, and the life drained from them as Kowshka wrestled the body to the ground.

Kowshka growled slightly, batting at the corpse to see if there was any sport left in it.

"To me," Sanish whispered and Kowshka stopped her play and padded over to the blonde elf's side. She knelt to inspect the corpse's belongings, looking for a message satchel. She had been told that there had been a runner spotted near Silvermoon, and the Blood Hawks had sent her to investigate, being one of the newest fledged members. In truth, she had jumped at the chance to prove herself, and at the same time deal with some of their unfortunate cousins.

She rummaged through his satchel, pocketing the few coppers she found there, and fed some of the dried meat she found in it to Kowshka. "There you go, my friend, here is your cut." Sanish grinned, rubbing the cat under the chin as she chewed through the ration.

After a few moments, she found the letter she had hoped this runner was carrying and read it.

"Research...sanctums...power source... By the winds these beasts never change their tune. We should get this back to Silvermoon, maybe the senior Blood Hawks will be able to do something with it." She tucked the letter into her haversack and turned to leave.

"Well done, Sanish," said a voice from behind the trunk of a tree, “I’m sure someone will find some use for it.”

Damn, she silently cursed herself for not being more aware; that sounds like Kal'rei. She turned slowly on the balls of her feet and noticed another junior Blood Hawk. "Kal'rei,” Sanish whispered coldly, “they sent you to make sure I did this right?"

"I volunteered actually, Sanish. I have spent quite a bit of time following your footsteps all the way through our training."

Her ruby lips parted in a cold smile. She had done better than Kal'rei had in almost all of their missions, so it was fitting that he should end up, literally, in her footsteps now. "Well, you can head back now. I have taken care of this Wretched, and whatever threat he posed, however small it might have been." At her side, Kowshka bristled slightly, making Sanish wonder what else was wrong.

"Silly, silly girl." He whispered, his voice taking on a more hollow tone. "I volunteered for this mission because I was supposed to meet with the runner. I had information for him. The command selected you, though."

Sanish narrowed her gleaming emerald eyes at him. “So, you decided to turn your back on your people to feed your addiction? That is so,” she paused, “so weak of you. It does explain your inconsistent performance over the past months.”

The slender elf laughed, his eyes glowing darker. "Yes Sanish, it does explain many things,” He whispered, shaking almost imperceptibly; “you could say I couldn’t take you outshining me, so I did a little something to help myself deal with it. The power it lends is wonderful. Feeling whole again is so much better than whatever relief it is you get from your vices, Sanish. Do I look like these Wretched fools out here? No. I am in control, so don’t presume to lecture me.”

“What is it you found then, Kal? A shortcut to power? A release from your own mediocrity,” she taunted, as Kowshka slipped into the brush like a shadow. “I’m sure all the others, like this one, felt the same way,” Sanish growled, motioning towards the messenger’s corpse.

Sanish watched the pale elf warily for a few moments, taking measure of his stance. “You don’t have to do this Kal. I will make it quick, and all anyone will ever hear is that the Wretched ambushed us. I will even say you saved my life.”

“You presumptuous bitch, you think you will be the one leaving alive?” And with these words, Sanish realized to late how close he was standing to her when she saw his hands clench, and felt a measure of her magical energies being drawn off.

The emptiness in her being flared to a state she had never felt before. When fighting the Wretched, they always try to draw off energies, but none this strongly. Kal’s training must have made his leeching abilities stronger.

He smiled at her through half-lidded eyes. “Sanish, you feel divine. Maybe I will end up letting you live after all. I would hate to never taste this again.”

She felt her skin crawl as the fatigue of having her magical energies siphoned off set in. The thought of being his personal toy disgusted and enraged her all at once.

Suddenly, his hold on her broke; and Sanish saw a flash of tan fur, as Kowshka tackled Kal. He wrestled with the cat for a few moments, before tossing a handful of dirt in Kowska’s eyes, and disengaging himself.

He dragged himself backwards, holding his torn arm close to his body, his eyes on the cat. His vision shifted, looking for Sanish as he had lost his hold on her when the cat attacked him.

There was a ring of steel, and his head rolled onto the grass, his blood seeming out of place with the verdant plantlife.

Sanish leaned on her bastard sword, panting, as her cat walked up beside her, still pawing at the dust in her eyes.

“Such a waste.”

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Cogitatus 20:07, 18 March 2008 (UTC)