|OOC Game Stats|
|Guild||Tears of Draenor|
|Professions||Alchemist and Engineer|
|Age||Born on -43, died on 20|
|Hair||Black, stained blue|
Among the forgotten tomes of a Dalaran library, in a musty pile somewhere in the back, there exists a very old journal written by a very old man. If you were to find this journal, though no one is saying you did, it might read something like this: "Stop reading immediately". If you kept reading, the book would explode and you would be feeling very sorry for yourself. That doesn't make a very good story, however, so let us assume you opened to page 68; one of the more interesting pages, to be sure.
It details the third, eighth, tenth and thirteenth days of the fifth month of the third year of the research of a specific project of a specific Dalaran mage, and it reads as follows:
"-is unresponsive. I must find a more durable test subject; thus far all experiments have resulted in an unusable sample. Every single one. Perhaps I should present the project, but... no. The consequences would be dire. All I need is more test subjects, but that worthless Garod keeps bringing me unusable corpses. I need undeath, not death!"
"This subject is different. Much stronger than the others, more twisted, more bestial. I can't risk destroying this one; it resembles a traditional ghoul. A slow dilution process seems the best choice, but it will be difficult to restrain the subject without any magical tampering... I'll just chain it to the wall, lock the door, and hope for the best. This is my promise not to interfere with the process for at least two days."
"Success! As is usually the case, the answer was as simple as it could be. I was thinking of it as a disease, but such was not the case; a simple necromantic contingency, self-perpetuating, is the source of the plague. Yet, this does not explain how the zombies can be organized... by all logic they should wander aimlessly, killing at random. The plague's zombies, however, seem to act as a hive mind. This will be a cause for concern."
"As I suspected, the plague does unify its victims under a common goal. It is not, however, a hive mind; they are being controlled, as they would be by a necromancer. Something has created them, and now commands them, but to maintain that many simultaneously... regardless, it should be a simple matter to ward myself against such a low level of manipulation. The only issue will be to prevent mnemonic destruction, which I believe can be done with-"
That would be where the page ends. Of course, reading any odd-numbered page will cause the explosion, so it is doubtful that anyone but the author could know the end to that sentence. You would be incredibly lucky to open to page 68 in the first place, of course, since most later pages were destroyed from water damage and earlier pages deal with more common problems such as fireballs that won't burn the caster and polymorph spells that affect the victim's mind as well as body. That simply wouldn't be interesting to read about at all, now would it?
Anyone who's had the pleasure of speaking with Vedaine knows he's extremely proper. The extent of his politeness is, in fact, only matched by his general unpleasantness; he's famously grim, dark, morbid and unhappy with the world at large. To make matters worse, he regularly presents himself as a warped kind of optimist and is extremely interested in other people. He's the sort that would ask you about your family being killed by centaurs only to chuckle insincerely about it as though to humor you. He is apparently incapable of any mood other than melancholy or outraged, but is effectively emotionless the majority of the time which clashes with a lot of what he says.
Another well-known facet of the warlock is his cloistered behavior; unlike most of his peers, he disdains adventure. The only things he enjoys doing with all the arcane knowledge he's built up over the years are flaunting it and using it to slaughter anyone he can get away with. He visits the battlegrounds often, and is an almost frighteningly good soldier in spite of having effectively no magical equipment to back him up as a direct result of not exploring the world.
This was before his visit to the Twisting Nether.
On his return, several important things had changed. The gradual erosion of his human qualities continued while he was missing from Azeroth, losing even more of himself to the undead state. If possible, Vedaine grew even more distant. His famous bloodthirst, the dual product of a life of suppressing urges and a death of fulfilling them, was quenched; the battlegrounds of the time held little interest any longer. Likewise, he no longer chuckled openly at the misfortune of others. He did still goad them into unusual conversations with purposeful illogic for, quite literally, fun and profit.
Today, it's difficult to imagine Vedaine as the charmingly belligerent murderer he once was.
For nearly his entire uninteresting life, Vedaine was nothing but a scholar; it was inevitable, growing up in Dalaran, that he would ultimately end up as a Mage of the Kirin Tor. In other words, he was almost the most unremarkable person possible in Dalaran.
The only thing that set him aside was his personal research.
Vedaine was one of the first to notice Dalaran was attracting demons, but said nothing about it. He wanted to study them. This would ultimately consume his passion for magic as a whole, leading into the darkest secrets of warlocks. However, such would not be his defining moment: Vedaine truly came into his own when the Plague of Undeath was released on Andorhal. He had already been interested in eternal unlife, as by this point his hair was almost gone, but progress had been negligible. Requiring test subjects for his research, he was forced to kidnap and slay innocents; whether this was the cause or effect of his addiction to murder today can't be said for sure.
As the plague swept across Lordaeron, Dulosse made some friends in the military to get his hands on a sample. Garod Lancier, a footman with no moral compass, was easy to bribe. He became so fascinated with the plague that he fell behind on his assigned research, which now seemed mundane in comparison. For several years, he was listed as the least productive of the least prestigious caste of Kirin Tor, but in fact he was working himself sick. It wouldn't have taken long at all for him to complete his pet project if he had the support of Kirin Tor, of course, but with such a controversial (read: blatantly illegal) topic he had to rely on his own very limited resources. After three years of independent research kept quiet, the last one being when the plague struck, Vedaine was ready to test his theory.
Already on thin ice with the Kirin Tor, the new and improved Vedaine decided it was time to retire. The obvious route was to stage his own death, requesting that his corpse be sent off to sea; his will was very explicit in noting his remains were not to be cremated. Ironically, the very next year after his supposed demise, hundreds of strong-willed plague victims gained sentience anyway. As he was living a lonely traveler's life up to this point, he decided it would be best to pretend he was one of these new undead when Sylvanas rallied them under her rule. For many years he worked in the background of the new Undercity, going back to his studies of demonology for a time before looking into other insidious magical diseases more controllable than the plague. Eventually he would become bored with this, and struck out on his own once more.
For years more he traveled the world, now a fully-fledged warlock having had the aid of a more freethinking society. He met and befriended a tauren warrior and troll priest, Carnox and Oibix, along the way. Latching on to the ambitious Carnox as he formed the Weeping Oak clan, he became an advisor to what would become a considerable power at the time. However, when Carnox fell ill, the Weeping Oak dissolved and soon reformed into the Talonguard under new leadership. Vedaine was swept along for the ride, getting no position of power to secure his place this time around; he was soon kicked out, as he was and is intolerable to many sane minds.
Thus he wandered once more with Carnox and Oibix, until they came across a promising new clan: the Tears of Draenor.
The life and death of Vedaine Dulosse is broken up into three "chapters" for your convenience, beginning with his impetuous youth as a seventy-plus demonologist inadvertently causing a potential cataclysm, and ending with... well, you'll just have to read it. Each chapter corresponds with a large chunk of time where his player was indeed playing World of Warcraft, with large chunks of time betwixt where his player was //not//. At the very end of this page, you will find an epilogue representing the remainder of this character's existence written at the same time as the third chapter, which was a great deal of time //after// the third chapter actually occurred.
The Twisting Nether
Continuing to practice demonology as a Tear, Dulosse searched for the answer to a very specific question: "How can I summon an infernal?". He was obsessed with this spell, so much so that when he was eventually able to perfect it he tested it recklessly on Carnox. It was successful. However, as an unforeseen side effect, it ripped a tiny pinhole into the Twisting Nether. Vedaine would have to fix it, and due to the nature of the planar anomaly, it couldn't be rectified by this side alone.
He would have to go to the other.
Departing the Tears to fix the problem he caused, Vedaine magically forced himself across worlds to locate his mistake. It took months to find. Carnox and Oibix, worried for their adopted old codger, followed after a month or two to help; this would lead to a horrible tragedy. After more months of planning, the denizens of that plane had enough time to find out about the pinhole themselves. A Pit Lord, like Mannoroth of old, greedily guarded it from all others. The group would have to get past before the pinhole could be utilized, and so they made an assault.
The Pit Lord almost immediately caught on that Oibix was healing Carnox, and impaled him without a second thought. Vedaine realized equally fast that this battle couldn't be won, and told Carnox to flee while he himself made a dangerous impromptu spell using a soulstone. Instead of simply resurrecting Dulosse, it made a clone of him back in the Undercity with no memories of the Nether. Disoriented by multiple months passing in the blink of an eye, the clone immediately sought answers. Eventually, he was able to recall the battle with the Pit Lord, and returned to the Twisting Nether to finish what he started.
The original, however, was not dead.
It wouldn't take long for the clone to find his better half, as Vedaine had incited a small rebellion of demons and become rather infamous in the vicinity. When the two met, the original didn't hesitate in doing what he thought needed to be done: he ordered the demons to kill his clone, and devoured the remains as a reagent for a ritual to absorb the new memories. Waste not, want not.
A few months later, the rebellion had grown large enough for its true purpose. Dulosse had never mentioned the pinhole to any of them, knowing their own greed would lead them to betray him, and presented this uprising as a more generic fight for power. The lower demons are surprisingly gullible. Telling them they would kill a Pit Lord today to prove their worth and mark them as a force to be reckoned with, Vedaine slipped through the ensuing bloodbath with his officer - a Felguard called Tokumn Haaghun - and through the pinhole, obliterating it as they went. One can only assume the Pit Lord made short work of the upstart demons, but Vedaine had done what he came to do and more: there would be no back door for demons into Azeroth, and he had acquired a powerful new ally.
Now Vedaine has returned to the Tears once more, changed by his walk through the Nether, likely for the worse of all those around him.
End of the Beginning
After returning from the Nether a second time, Dulosse found himself in a changed world as a changed man. He'd had a taste of leadership, and he'd finally suffered an obvious consequence for his questionable actions. It is worth noting that this is not the first significant consequence, just the first he's been aware of; improper use of a soulstone while fighting a pit lord had done something awful to both him and an old friend, and the hack job he did in becoming a sentient undead entity under his own power in the first place was taking its toll. What little remained of Vedaine's humanity trickled away into the cloying abyss of the Twisting Nether throughout the time he spent there, further detaching our hero from the joys and pains of (un)life. The subtlety of the difference, not to mention the amount of time he'd been absent, allowed for this and the unfortunate side effect of Vedaine's cloning to go unnoticed by himself or anyone else.
History repeats itself; just as the Forsaken cropped up shortly after Vedaine worked so hard to reach the same conclusion, now the commute between Azeroth and the Outlands (by extension, the Twisting Nether) has become startlingly fast just when he had nearly died permanently to keep them separate. To be fair, the dimensional pinhole caused by his experiments in summoning infernals may have one day turned the tide of battle to the Burning Legion's favor as a second front for their invasion, since the Dark Portal today is not under their control.
Regardless of the poetic nature of its current condition, Vedaine Dulosse and Tokumn Haaghun ended up traveling through the Dark Portal. Something about the warlock was amiss at the time, something that had been amiss since before the demon knew him; normally Vedaine would not be so quick to go on this sort of adventure, despite Tokumn's nagging about new foes to fight and lands to conquer. For a month or two they explored the shattered world's farthest reaches in tandem, Haaghun valiantly hacking through anything standing in their way whilst Dulosse provided moral support.
When Vedaine noticed something alien swirling about in a soulstone that also happened to contain his own soul at the time, however, the exploration ceased. The possible danger presented by something attached to his soul drew Vedaine away from Tokumn's frivolous interests, which the warlock shouldn't have been so involved in to begin with, and once more inward to magical studies and experiments. In truth, the alteration in Dulosse's personality which drew him to high adventure with Tokumn was a direct result of that which now distracted him from it; it was a fragment of a soul, and the warped mind contained therein was growing in power and anger, insinuating its own tendencies into the activities of its host. Now that those tendencies were overpowered, Tokumn Haaghun no longer saw what he admired in Vedaine, and ultimately left with a string of insults to pursue his own goals of random slaughter.
Vedaine waved dismissively, nose planted in a book, as his demonic ally stormed out to seek bloodier pastures.
He brought up the aberrant soulstuff with the Tears of Draenor to which he had, naturally, returned. They had no advice. Unsurprisingly, he would simply have to handle things himself. He determined that the swirling anomaly was a malignant spirit of some kind, nothing more, nothing less, and it likely would have devoured his soul by now if not for the remarkable resilience of said soul. All he needed was a patsy with a weak will to implant the parasitic thing in so he could observe its true nature, and that is just what he found. His test subject agreed willingly to having the spirit transferred on the grounds that Vedaine recommend him for induction into the Tears of Draenor.
Shortly after the ritual, Vedaine did just that; he spoke into his hearthstone to the clan at large, making them aware of the new hopeful.
And then said hopeful died.
The warlock quickly backpedaled in his conversation with the clan, looking upon a crackling cloud of angry energy engulfing the parasitic spirit's victim and growing in power. When it began reaching toward Vedaine himself, the warlock quickly fled and washed his hands of the entire fiasco. A few days later, however, someone would bring up that the test subject had survived and still seeks admission into the clan. There was still a chance to study the parasite. Vedaine sent a recent inductee, Issaela da Gambi di Anar, to go and investigate on his behalf just in case a threat remained. Issaela seemed talented enough in the arcane arts to hold her own if something went wrong, and just daft enough not to bring back any unwanted repercussions after learning the other side of the story. Perfect for Dulosse's purposes.
However, in the ensuing months, this unfortunate event would fall by the wayside. Vedaine had begun making full use of the resources presented by the Tears of Draenor. He was taking a more active role in the clan's affairs, occasionally running its weekly gathering. Whenever he did so the proceedings tended to take a philosophical or metaphysical bent, as he still enjoyed hearing what he perceived as ignorance in others on some level, and this earned him an unwarranted (but not unappreciated) nickname in the process: Professor.
Patience and Understanding
- I have chosen my own destiny;
- studied forbidden knowledge, and suffered no retribution;
- dealt with demons, and made no mistakes;
- traveled the world, and found no grandeur;
- led armies and inquiries, slain warriors and enigmas.
- I have conquered my own mortality;
- I am Vedaine Dulosse, and I have nothing more to do.
Following the departure of Tokumn Haaghun, the professor, as he had come to be known, grew systematic in his affairs. He viewed his clan as nothing more than the fertile soil from which opportunities grow, continually searching and prying for tidbits of information about the inner workings of each Tear's life; he was constantly looking for someone whose situation he could take advantage of without any fear of reprisal, and he found just that several times over.
One of the first, and certainly the most notable opportunity to present itself came in the form of two unusually good-natured students of the black arts: one Krangloth Firetooth and his unlikely wife. It was specifically the fallen demon lord that had tormented dear Krang for the better part of his life, Zinthiris, that Dulosse took an interest in; he had cut his teeth on demonology, and by now he considered himself just good enough to wrench the last fibers of strength from a still considerably powerful immortal being. Before that, though, he would have to wrench the being itself from a much smaller, less useful being: Krangloth's imp, who served as a prison for the soul of a demon lord of corruption.
It should come as no surprise that this was not an effective strategy on the Firetooths' part.
Zinthiris, insidious as he is, was making progress in wearing down his bonds and making gradually less subtle attacks on Krangloth's soul. It was only a matter of time before Zin had control of his captor, and thus the resources to revive himself, when Vedaine insinuated himself into the situation. His approach was the same as always: befriend all parties in question, and quietly betray each in turn when doing so would be both beneficial and undetectable. In this case, that meant coercing the odd couple into allowing him to help them in a drastic way. This was not difficult. Dulosse arranged for a relatively simple ritual in a controlled setting, where damage would be minimal if Zinthiris should somehow escape, and wrested the bond between demon and orc for himself. Now Zinthiris had the same access to Vedaine's soul as he once had to Krangloth's, and he wasted no time in resuming his psychic onslaught. A body is a body. Unfortunately, Vedaine's body happens to be protected by redundant layer upon redundant layer of mystical protection, in addition to his already strong will; he wouldn't be as easy to wear down as Krangloth was, and that took decades to begin with.
Nevertheless, Zinthiris was patient. He assumed time was on his side, already having lived quite long. Of course, Vedaine was patient as well, since he's intended for some time to outlive most gods. Obviously things did not progress for some time.
Meanwhile, the Steamwheedle Cartel  had just opened two large-scale arenas for business, in Nagrand and the Blade's Edge mountains. Vedaine, who always enjoyed the prospect of scattering the remains of lesser beings to the wind, was one of the first in line to join the carnage. Seeing as the enterprising battlemasters wouldn't allow just one combatant in a team, he begrudgingly dragged along the most powerful immediately-available person he knew: Hukari.
The professor and witchdoctor never quite saw eye-to-eye, as you can imagine, but they fought alongside one another for a time regardless. The duo became known as "Crude and Unusual", much to the dismay of our hero. Later he would leave Hukari in a ditch somewhere in favor of another skilled shaman, who happened to be the leader of the Tears of Draenor, as well as recruiting one of the mightiest warriors in the world (who he knew, incidentally, through a spontaneous attack on the Exodar with an old friend). Needless to say, they did quite well; all the better once Vedaine had gotten on good terms with Zinthiris, and summoned a soulless felhunter for the demon to possess without the knowledge of the other two warlocks. Equally needless to say, they were quite surprised to find Zin had "escaped".
But, as previously established, these were not the only things Vedaine had gotten himself involved in. He was assisting a very promising dimensional traveler in acclimating to the alien environment, hoping to later call on her abilities; he investigated the nature-violating schemes of a disturbingly wise tauren, for similar reasons; he spoke with an otherwise meek girl who had suddenly acquired a rather dangerous amount of control over shadow, just to make sure she didn't accidentally destroy all of Azeroth; he tested the scruples of an up-and-comer mercenary, finding a sense of justice disappointingly present; and, all the while, he was gaining notoriety as a knowledgeable professor of the arcane arts. Good ol' Zin even saw fit to reward Vedaine's cooperation by revealing the location of an ancient buried tome, describing in detail the workings of a most desirable spell, though getting at it proved quite difficult.
Having set up so very many situations so very rife with potential, Professor Vedaine Dulosse, gladiator and entropist extraordinaire, went on to stand idly and accomplish absolutely nothing. Indefinitely.
Epilogue: All Things means All Things
One could argue that Dulosse ultimately succeeded in his goal. Throughout his entire life, he only sought one thing with any kind of dedication: predictability. He did go after immortality with a frightening passion, naturally, but mostly because he had no idea what would happen when he died.
He wanted to choose.
When he was alive, he grew more and more resentful of all things associated with it, from back aches to unpleasant scents to unwanted emotions. He wanted those things gone, in addition to the obvious benefit of immortality. These are things you can't control, the sensations you experience as a result of your environment.
He wanted to choose those too.
Even after his death and rebirth, Vedaine knew it was only a matter of time until an unlikely event brought him to final oblivion. The downfall of all villains is complacency; they think they're invulnerable, so they don't take the precautions necessary to prevent their inevitable demise because no one expects the chain of impossible events caused by the protagonist of most tales. No matter how powerful you are, there's always at least a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a chance that circumstances beyond your control will conspire to bring an end to you, every single day.
You know what?
He wanted to choose everything.
Though he may never have realized it before it was too late, the only thing Vedaine really fears is surprise. As a result, he prepared for progressively more and more eventualities during his undeath: not just every way he could be destroyed or otherwise rendered helpless, but every conclusion to every event he's even remotely involved in. If something unexpected happens, he has failed. Tragically, this is precisely what was his downfall: as he cut out more and more variables from the equation, he cut out more and more of himself. It was only a matter of time before he cut out so many of his own desires, divorced himself from so many possibilities, that he stopped caring about anything at all.
If you'll notice, Vedaine was originally a very driven person. He was outright obsessive. After his death, he was even more vivacious for a time, gallivanting around the world and fulfilling his every destructive impulse. Eventually he calmed down, knowing that such reckless behavior only makes it more likely that he'll draw too much attention to himself, be hunted down for his transgressions. The process continued like this, as he systematically eliminated every action that could eventually have an undesirable result, until he simply didn't do anything at all.
Within a secluded cave just south of Shattrath, inside the western mountains of the Bone Wastes, covered by a strong circular metal cover with more mundane and magical locks than you'd really think was necessary, stands Vedaine, in all his glory, staring motionlessly at the hazy images of his scrying mirror.
It's only a matter of time until someone finds him.
--Lilithia 20:42, 9 January 2007 (GMT)