Clementure's Strange Encounter
Level 46 Gnome Warlock
World of Warcraft
What an absurd figure I must have cast as I waited. Me, Clementure, a student of dark and forbidden arts, standing in the dark outside a peasant's hovel. What I'd spend for a day's folly could buy and sell this place three times over. Yet there I stood, a grim if not foolish sentinel.
"Sleep tight," the old man said to his granddaughter, from inside the hut.
I summoned a spell stone to hold in my hand, the shining crystal the only light as the peasant put out his lamp. Dark clouds overhead blotted out the stars. A warm breeze stirred through my bristly brown hair.
It was a night perfect for evildoing.
"The Reaper is waiting in the wind," the old man said, joining me to stand at my side and stare into the darkness.
Humans can be such a hysterical race, more slaves to their emotions than any other thinking people. Like this foolish old man, offering his soul to me for one night's guard duty. At my side, my summoned demon, Jahzam the Felhunter, stalked restlessly about. Perhaps he desired to be elsewhere, engaged in more rewarding pursuits.
"This Reaper," I said, patting my backpack to reassure myself that I was indeed armed with a healthstone and a soulstone, "why would he come here? Surely you have little of interest to any such mystical creature."
"You would find it hard to understand, gnome," he said, running his fingers through his iron-gray hair. "Your people think in terms of objects. What does this do, where does that go; you see the world as an engineering puzzle."
"Now hold on," I started to say.
"Even such as you, a master of foul energies, even you fail to perceive the larger picture. You think that x combined with y will always equal z. This logic is flawed. We are subject to greater laws than we know. Forces that we have yet to perceive control the very universe."
Even though the human towered three feet higher than me, I managed to look down my nose at him. "What religious humbuggery you spout, human. There is no limit to what gnomish ingenuity, and I will confess it; human resources, can accomplish. Besides, what does your twaddle have to do with the creature you so fear?"
"It is hard to explain. I will put it in deceptively simple terms: on this night every 100 years, the creature attempts to absorb the essence of an innocent. It must always be from my bloodline, and it must always be a female of purity. In this ritual, the Reaper gains eternal life."
"Even in Azeroth such nonsense is hard to believe. You are a fool to give me your soul for a myth."
The human smiled. "Think not that I give away my soul lightly. I am near to certain that neither you nor I will survive this night. For not once in five centuries has my family been able to repulse the Reaper. And now, my granddaughter is the last of my line."
The hairs along my extremely handsome ears twitched. This was a familiar sensation, it usually presaged a powerful use of arcane magics. "You had best get back to your hovel. Something is coming, what I cannot say."
Something was looming out of the dark night, something darker than dark. The old man put his hand on the rusty sword he wore on his waist. "Nay, Warlock, for I'll not live to watch what this creature intends to do to my granddaughter. I will die, or I will defeat it."
I turned to the old human. "This violates our agreement. If you die in battle, I will not be able to claim your soul; you must die at my hand."
He pulled his sword. "Tch! Surely we can wait to debate such technicalities. The Reaper is upon us!"
I cast my Soulstone. The old man looked at me in surprise.
"Go!" I shouted to Jahzam, and the doglike demon surged to the attack.
The old human, brandishing his blade, rushed in Jahzam's wake. The shape of the Reaper became more solid, forming from the very darkness. I had never seen such a thing; a demon, but a demon without the taint of the Burning Legion to it.
A hideous monstrosity stomped a misshapen, twisted leg onto the ground, sending tremors beneath my feet. My Curse of Corruption had no effect on it as the thing smashed Jahzam with a blow from a massive arm, sending my pet flying.
The barely discernable head of the Reaper turned eagerly towards the old human. The Reaper could smell the blood in the human, the bloodline that had feed it for five centuries.
With my Corruption having no effect, I cast a Curse of Agony.
"Ahhhhhhh!" the old man screamed, coming in sword first.
I looked on in surprise as the old human ducked under a swing of the Reaper's arm, and landed a square blow, driving the sword into the Reaper's leg.
Not that it did the human any good. The old man desperately dove and rolled to avoid the next powerful attack from the Reaper. In the meantime, Jahzam had returned to the battle, coming up and chomping on the Reaper's leg.
As the Reaper turned on Jahzam, I began the three-second process of casting a Shadow Bolt. This powerful attack never fails.
So, of course, it failed. The Reaper was noticeably untouched by the black and purple ball of arcane magic. Jahzam was again knocked away. The old human was coming up at the Reaper with a kitchen knife for his next attack.
It was only a matter of time before the Reaper finished off Jahzam and the old human. I was next. It was time to pull out my hold card. As Jahzam went flying one way, and the old human another, I started the process of casting my Fear spell.
The monstrosity was nearly on me when I got the spell off. Finally, something worked on the creature. The Reaper was sent crashing into night, fleeing blindly from terrors only he could see. I went rushing after him, and Jahzam joined me.
I got in range and cast a quick Curse of Shadows. As soon as I could, I cast Corruption, and this time the spell took. The Reaper, still flailing about helplessly in the grip of terror, managed to come back towards me.
"Go!" I sent Jahzam to the attack.
Something gray flashed by me. The old man wasn't dead yet. The Reaper shook off the fear spell as Jahzam took a chomp out of his calf. The old man screamed then leaped for the Reaper's back. I concentrated briefly and got off a fiery Immolate spell.
It hit, rocking the Reaper. He turned angrily to me, but the old human was on his back, slashing the Reaper again and again with the kitchen knife. The Reaper slammed his back against a tree. The old man, in between the tree and the Reaper, was squished flatter than a Stormwind Gambler's last gold coin. The human slid limply to the ground.
The Reaper charged me, enraged by all the pain I had caused him. I hit him with a Conflag, and that spell hurt him, hurt him bad. But he wasn't dead yet. One blow from his twisted, powerful arm sent this Gnome rolling over the forest floor.
I was all but dead. The Reaper had nearly finished me with one blow. I pulled out my last and greatest hold card; Death Coil. This evil spell would give me a portion of the Reaper's health, and again terrify him for a few seconds. The Death Coil took; the Reaper ran off, again terrified.
I cast a Shadow Burn. The powerful spell hit the monster, and he fell. Jahzam limped over to the Reaper, sniffed him, then joined me.
I stood over the Reaper's corpse. That thing truly was ugly. I was glad it wasn't moving.
Then it laughed.
As I backed away, nearly tripping over my own robes, the Reaper seemed to melt in on itself. In the briefest of moments the ugly monstrosity of the Reaper was gone. In it's place stood a human, a strange, dark human. I'd never seen the likes of this creature in the Eastern Kingdoms, or Kalimador for that matter.
"Very good, Warlock," he said, brushing the dirt off his pants. "I haven't had such good exercise in centuries."
"What kind of demon are you?" I asked him, still backing away.
"Oh, just a pedestrian, average, uninteresting sort," he said with a grin.
"Stay back, creature. I will defeat you again."
"Now now, relax," he said assuringly. "Just let me have the girl, and this whole ugly business will be over."
"I've contracted to prevent that. So, to save both of us the inconvenience of further battle, why don't you just return to where you came from?"
"Oh, I'm afraid that isn't possible. I let you win that round, you should know. You will lose this time.'
I shrugged. "We shall see. But there's nothing you could say or do to make me violate the contract with the old man."
"What is this?" The old man asked, pushing his way to my adversary. He had invoked the Soulstone I cast on him, allowing him to return to life. It was a simple measure to protect my payment.
But those thoughts fled my mind. The old human, and the strange dark human were nearly identical in face and stature. The dark human smiled in amusement as the human and I gaped in astonishment.
"We are coming, Clementure," the dark human said. "Your Alliance and my people shall be allies."
"But, why are you the mirror image of this man?" I asked, looking back and forth between them, still dumbfounded at the remarkable similarities.
"He's one of us," the dark human said. "Hundreds of years ago we sent his forefathers here to learn of you and your ways. Once every hundred years we bring one of them back, to learn of you, and to add the new strains of blood to us. I am also of that bloodline."
"You say you are coming. What does that mean?"
He shook his head. "You'll know soon enough. That time is coming. It will be a good time, and an evil one. We will share an enemy, and even the legends of your Burning Legion cannot prepare you for what is coming."
The dark human turned to the old man. "Are you ready, brother?"
"Wait," I called out. "Why did you take that monstrous form and attack?"
He laughed. "We felt it a good idea to maintain the legend of the Reaper. We are learning of you, not the other way around. So a fantastic and unbelievable story of the Reaper is all you have ever known of us."
The old man knelt in front of me, to be eye level. I hate that, normally. "Please release me from our bargain. I had no idea of the truth. But now I have this chance to… go home. You understand?"
"Oh, go on," I said. "I had no plans to claim my price anyway." I told the little lie to make him feel better about breaking the deal. "Wait! What about your granddaughter?"
The two of them, standing together, began to fade away.
"I'm no babysitter!" I cried out.
The old man smiled, and was gone.
I stared in unbelief at the empty space where they used to be. What in the name of all the lands of Azeroth was I going to do with a human child? With heavy heart, I turned back towards the hovel.
"Well, hello," a voice said.
I stopped short as a beautiful blond human woman stepped from behind a tree.
"You, I am guessing here, would be the granddaughter."
She reached down and took my hand. "You are a brave gnome, who did his best to save my grandfather." She led me towards the hovel. "And bravery should be rewarded."
"Let me guess," I said, my steps suddenly much lighter, "you are not exactly a paragon of feminine purity."
Her light laughter was indeed pleasurable. "If you believe a monster is going to kill you because you are female and pure, what would you do?"
I grinned. The question was in the process of being answered.
"Now I have heard," she said as we crossed the doorstep, "that Gnomes have certain largish endowments to make up for their smallish stature."
"You shall see," I said, closing the door, with a big smile.