It has now been a little more than a week since this change in me has taken root and I still continue to find it all to be some sort of bad dream... As cliche it is, I half expect for someone to jump in and say "Hah! It is a joke!" or...pinch me, or something along those lines. None the less... I know well enough that this is indeed not the case.
Things have been going on rather well, I suppose... I have had no outright noticeable lapses in public, thus far – a couple close calls, though I have had a far more embarrassing moments, thankfully, at home. It is tremendously annoying, however there is little help for it... I am unused to this form and it will take time and effort before I have any semblance of control over it. Though, none the less, I am off to a decent start.
As much as I loathe to admit it... Arenvald has been responsible for all of this going as 'smoothly' as it has. He is tirelessly observant to what this damnable form of mine requires and sees to it promptly. I have not known hunger, thusly keeping my wits about me, since he is constantly shoving food in front of me, both raw and cooked and of easily identifiable origin. I will admit...when I am not caught up in the thrall of hunting, eating raw meat at a dinner table is currently...unsettling. While I have eaten a good tartar and what not before over the last months, in small quantities, it was, at least, optional. Now that all of this is starting to feel all too natural, I am beside myself in all of this.
Though that is another issue... I have accompanied Arenvald on several hunts over the course of this year and I have, more or less, been accepting of them. I will not lie in saying that I did find his behavior to be unsettling or peculiar, from time to time, but actually experiencing it for myself certainly puts things in perspective. He once spoke of the 'red hunting haze' and how difficult it was to resist it clouding your mind – to the point where he simply gave up and, as he said himself, 'let the wolf steer'. While I could roughly understand what it would be like, since resisting the 'pull' of certain fel magic, for example, is incredibly difficult, it is, as they say, quite different when it actually happens to you.
Whenever we go out to hunt, which has, thus far, been nearly every night since my first, he always urges me to do just that... To let go, stop worrying, and just let this all take its course. Though that is just the issue! My entire existence revolves around control. I am a master of my own identity, of this toxic craft I wield, and the minions I must call upon. To simply let go and throw caution to the wind goes against every fiber of my being, where as Arenvald never had an issue with it. It was, and still is, dare I say, a release for him.
Though this relinquishing of self seems to happen anyway, despite my best efforts. On my first time out, I was fully aware and in control of my actions right until I
scented smelled a prey animal – a young buck in its first year. One moment I was following Arenvald through the brush, then before I know it, I find myself rooting around in the felled deer's innards snout first. It was like a switch being thrown – Off, then on again. Primal to human. It was, literally, that quick.
Thought eventually caught up with me and I was able to recall just what brought me from point A to point B... but that did not change the fact that I was, at the time, wolfing down that poor beast's liver.
My first reaction was to run away... but I ultimately stayed since hunger and the macabre need to analyze this situation I am in compelled me to do so. Since the beast that clatters around in the back of my mind was, more or less, becoming sated, I could think a little more clearly – but I was still not immune to the lure of fresh meat. And so I ate...albeit a little more hesitantly, but it was disturbing on a distant level to admit that it tasted good... Really good, dare I say. When I think back to it, there was something extremely gratifying about feeling that hot rush of arterial spray in my mouth when I, in all my horribleness, helped bring down that buck by the neck. I am...hesitant to liken it to something else for the sake of comparison, so I will just leave it at that. It was terribly, unsettling, yet gloriously wonderful.
Hunger aside, my primary 'foe' is scent. Sound can be especially troubling (especially in crowded areas),
it is nowhere near as bad. It is obnoxiously overwhelming, even while walking around in my human shape
It is obnoxiously overwhelming, even while walking around as normal, and while I am told it will become easier in time, that certainly does not help me at the current moment. At no point has it been 'neat' or 'cool' to be able to smell things coming before you see them, nor has it been that way when I find a world's worth of smells assaulting me – all of which are terribly foreign yet oddly familiar. It is too much and many times it makes me irritable and confused...which is something I do not want to be when I am out testing the waters in public.
The forests are bad enough, but at least they are constant to a degree. Leaves, various sorts of animal musk, water, dirt, and whatnot. Goldshire, or worse, Stormwind is nothing but chaos. Perfumes, smoke, sweat, the cold bite of metal, the acrid stink of arcane powders, transport mounts, and the myriad of unidentifiable pungent stains on Topper McNabb's shirt.
And that is only a small fraction of what I smell, while leaving out the minutiae of details.
The Trade District and Old Town are...to be avoided, if at all possible. While the Trade District is chaotic, Old Town is simply loathsome – plain and simple. Blood (both old and, in some cases, fresh), animal dung, rats, sewage, the rot of garbage in the alleyways, alcohol, the stench of drugs (which I recognize as many of our own products)... And if I am unfortunate enough to smell not one, but several, couples mounting one another in unseen alleyways, Light help me... That layered upon all the terribleness I listed before is just...disgusting and I, on several occasions, nearly lost my lunch.
The Park, Harbor, Cathedral, and Dwarven District are not so bad in comparison... The verdict is still out on the Mage Quarter, being I am not still not quite sure what to make of it. The Dwarven District, however, was somewhat of a surprise, at first, but the more I think of it...I'm not that perplexed as to why I feel at ease there. It is because of the smoke and exhaust. While the smells of the various foundries, workshops, smiths, and so on are indeed overwhelming... that is just it – They overwhelm all the other scents, so it's nothing but smoke, soot, and hot metal. Easy to identify, no real surprises. Save the constant hammering and sound of gnomish pneumatic tools, it is surprisingly relaxing to me.
However, that brings me to another point... Cigarettes. I have been relying on them a great deal more as of late and I have made the transition from taking a puff once in a while to a budding casual smoker. Not only does the act calm my nerves when I find myself becoming overwhelmed, but the smoke, like in the District, helps block out exceeding olfactory distractions. I would like to think that it was by willpower alone that I have been able to do as well as I have, but when it comes down to it... No, I know I would not without Arenvald's guidance and leaning on this vice of mine like a crutch.
But, for better or worse, keeping myself busy has been beneficial... If the immediate days after my change, languishing in self-pity and doubt, continued as they were then I would likely do something dire – which is something I do not want to do without absolute certainty that it is the right thing. With this new lease on life, heh, I have decided to venture out of my home and seek out the rest of the Family. For too long have I been content to wait for death to claim me, too absorbed in my own pity to do anything of worth (Well... To be frank, I still pity myself, but for entirely different reasons).
I fear I might be far too late to actually do anything...and I have no one but myself to blame.
Only Lazaar and myself, and Lilifred, who is still holed up in Shattrath last I checked, are the only ones who remain and until now I was among the 'missing' as well.
I was lucky that I managed to find that rotting behemoth when I did...in a sense. It was too late to realize that I drained my cigarette supply entirely when I started to talk with him. Light above, I always knew he smelled rancid, but now he smells like the entirety of Stormwind died, festered under the sun for a few days, liquefied, and were somehow jammed into that hulking body of his. THAT is how bad he smells. It was by some small miracle that I didn't throw up, or pass out, or both. His own cigar smoke helped, a little, but it is not the same.
In the end, I promised Lazaar that I would try and locate who I could and, hopefully, bring them back should such a thing seem prudent. It is clear that the majority of my brothers-in-arms are not exactly approving what is going on at the current, but even then... I do not know where their allegiances lie.
I decided to find the 'easiest' one first; Miles. He is easier to contact and I still had unfinished business with him.
So...upon the arranged date, we met at Charlotte's grave. While I was displeased by disturbing her, it is one of the few locations we both know that are out of the way and hidden from plain sight.
Though he did not meet me as a friend that night, but as an enemy. While he did not claim this directly, his actions and appearance spoke for him.
He arrived clad in heavy plate armor and weaponry clearly of draconic craftsmanship – the very same he wore on the day he and Arenvald fought Kaalara... on the day I was changed. There was no warmth in his voice, which did not surprise me given the fact that he fled from me in horror that fateful night. We exchanged words heatedly, aired our grievances, and, eventually, outright demanded for me to tell him if Arenvald or I have eaten other humans. While I have not, thankfully, Arenvald has claimed several (despite them being 'accidental')... Though no matter what I told him, I knew it would end badly. If I lied and said "no", he would not believe me and I would be accused further of harboring a selfish man-eating monster. If I said yes... then I would damn Arenvald beyond hope in his eyes and I, by proxy, would be damned as well.
He continued to posture threateningly, goading me into an answer, until I did something drastic.
I prostrated myself before him and invited him to end my life. He seemed surprised by this somehow, but as I said before, I knew better... He was dressed for battle – to defend himself from a monster and take its life should the need arise. Miles was...is... so convinced that I am a lost cause (Which I very well may be in the end. I do not delude myself over this possibility) and he wanted to spare his brother the pain of being what I am.
I know that this could very well change but he has damned me on the grounds of what I now am before I have even had a chance to prove myself. On the other hand, I may very well be a failure in the end... A swift death while I am still able to think as an actual human does would likely be the most merciful route in the end. Even though I wanted to try and make the best of this new lease on life, I truly felt that this is where I would draw my last breath. Though in the company I kept at the time, it would be a good place to die...and I was ready to face the powers that be should my confessor, my brother, deem me a lost cause.
Life has a strange way of turning things around on you... For now I have experienced both sides to this monster story – I have played the judge and reluctant executioner for Arenvald, with an implement of destruction poised in one hand ready to bring his demise. And, now, I have also been in the role of the creature, waiting for my own executioner to pass judgement upon me. It was...humbling, to say the least. As I laid on my back as my monstrous self, all I could do was wait, watch, and wish that this all could have ended in another way.
"I am still here, Miles," I thought. "I still think as I have before, I still feel. I am still myself. Why can't you see me?"
I could smell his misery, despite that wall of plating he holed himself up behind... I could smell his tears which have been readily flowing ever since he and I laid eyes on one another that evening. It is still a strange thing to be able to smell 'emotions', those chemical shifts in ones body... It, strangely, evokes more sympathy from me than I ever would have felt as a simple human...possibly due to yet another facet of social interaction being brought to the surface where as sight, sound, and sometimes touch were only involved.
Clearly, if I am writing now, it means my life was spared... Miles broke down, just as I did with Arenvald so many weeks ago, and pleaded with me.
He thinks that he can still help me, bless his heart... While he may, eventually, find a way to help with my other problem (In which I am extremely hesitant to attempting anything at the moment. Practically liquefying TWICE in my lifetime is two times too many...), I sincerely doubt he can find a cure for the worgen condition. If several thousands of years of documentation, experimentation, and so on are any clue... The only 'cure' for this is death or exile into another dimension – both of which seem highly unappealing to me.
He also offered for me to come away with him and let him 'take care of me', which was...tempting. Despite the fact that I need Arenvald's guidance, it has been not easy on living around him when I have willingly cut off all romantic ties with him. He does not mope, nor does he beg, or mourn though he clearly acts differently around me... rightfully so. Going off with Miles would be a relief and a much needed break from dealing with him... but I would be trading one set of problems for a possibly far worse set of them.
If his behavior around me is any indication, I would not be treated as a friend, nor a brother... but as a repentant burden. He does not see me, but only the claws and fangs I now possess. He will cower and find my need to hunt like an animal repulsive and will, surely, try and cow my behavior. He will try to reform me – save me.
He will be how I was with Aren.
But I never was that bad, was I? I hope I was not but...
Light, was I that bad?
. . ...
I was, wasn't I...
This only makes it clearer to me... Be it for good or for ill, my place for the time still remains with Arenvald. At least with him I know I will not be treated as a beast. While I still do not trust his motives and I may, very well, be shackled to him as Miles said... these chains are much lighter than the ones I bore when Kaalara held dominion over my body and soul.
But I am free of her now and I can live a little more under my own terms.
I still live.
And with this knowledge, I will continue to do so to the best of my abilities – As will I continue to see to this task I was put upon...
With Miles' blessing, he agreed to allow me to speak with Auroran and a date for meeting with him will be scheduled in the near future. As for Miles himself... I will have to come away empty handed, but I did what I needed to do. I will feed some sort of story to Lazaar when I see him next and I will continue to do so until I have determined it is safe enough for people to return.
Though, for now, I need to go home...
[[Cross-posted at WyrmrestAccord.net]]