This piece of fiction was written around the date of 11 May 2009, and was a collaboration between user:p3a and user:Kouskous (players of Kall and Kouniam respectively). It was played out on an instant messaging programme, fully consentually by both players. None of the happenings detailed thus are widely-known in-character knowledge.
No content warnings.
Westguard Keep, a short amount of time after the rebirth of the Athanatoi into the Immortalis.
Kall had the book tucked under the arm with her black armband, white symbol, and white Pentrarch stripes stitched on. The soft wind of the Howling Fjord made the flags of Westgard Keep move, quietly - the Athanatoi flag among them. In the center of the the keep was a statue of the noble Muradin Bronzebeard, and a shady figure gazed at it from the top of the keep's walls. The red hood covered the face of the individual, yet was easy to notice he was a draenei, one of the Athanatoi no doubt.
Kouniam blinked for a moment. His gaze was not focused at the statue in particular. He was just thinking, wondering what would come next. He looked at the sky for a change and - shortly after - went inside.
They met in the doorway. Kall - having come from another part of the keep, and otherwise from her armband in Felheart (bar the hat), tipped her head back to see properly.
"Is that Praetor Kouniam?"
Kouniam raised his head to search for the familiar voice. "Sprangler... it's Pentrarch now. I was not expecting to see you around here..."
He passed by Kall towards the inside.
"Oh, I forget these things..." She nodded at him. "And if we're up to such formalities, it's Pentrarch Sprangler, too. Now, I'm here to return your book..."He smiled. "About time... but I recall you said it was property of the Athanatoi Archives and not mine. So you come to return it to me or to the archive room?"
He continued going inside towards the archives, clearly not expecting an answer. She followed anyway.
"One and the same, I suspect. You are in charge of the archives, and they give you responsibilities which shape your daily routine."
"Responsibilities... yes, yes. I embrace it more as of a gift and personal pleasure, really."He entered the archives room. The amazing dimensions there were nothing compared to the hundreds of books and scrolls carefully placed in their rightful place. A handful of books were laid on the nearby tables, waiting proper placement. Kall went to rest the book she'd forcibly borrowed on that table.
Kouniam waved his left hand at the table and the books flew around the room towards the correct shelves, including the one Kall had just placed on the it.
He then grabbed a scroll and a feather and sit down on his desk.
"Levitation must help a lot. I guess that's partially why it's you and Qia as opposed to any others..."
"Ethnarch Qialynna calls it levitation. I call it gravitational distortion. The arcane is fascinating," he said, while writing.Kall tasted the foreign word. "Ethnarch..." She muttered to herself in Gnomish a little, reproachfully, then listened.
Kouniam stopped writing for a while and looked at Kall.
"You wish to borrow something Pentrarch Strangler? Or all you're here for is to torment me with your insignificant presence?"
"No. I just miss being around people who aren't family, really."
She smiled, but barely. He blinked.
"Strange taste for company you have," he remarked, resuming his writings.
"Can't say I've ever had the chance at anything d-different."
"Maybe... you might be right."
He smiled. "You tell me."
"Anyway, if what you seek is Philosophy, fifth shelf on the right." He waved dismissively at her.
"Heh. Books can't hold intelligent conversations - they are one-sided, un-interactive. You are not a book."
"No... I'm not. Holodisks are on the twelfth shelf. Please note that the pink one is pending repairs. The others should be working." He paused. "Ohh... and the violet one is programed for mages only so don't try it... it might insult you."
"That's not what I mean and you know it. Are you okay?"
"You ask that too often, and you always know my answer."
"No?" She smiled a bit again. "Then you get angry, I persist, you beat me up, I come home with more scars. Nothing changes.""Circles are amazingly perfect things, are they not?" He smiled at her - the usual cold and vicious smile; but, this time, the red hood made it worse (for some reason).
She looked him right in the eye, a flash as she looked up - and smiled back. "Indeed, although I prefer the patterns light and shadow dance when utilised in certain fashions to geometry, myself. I can, however, appreciate the beauty."
"Magic annihilation and ley line movements are on shelf eight, young gnome." He smiled once again and resumed his writing.
"I'm not young, for a gnome. Aren't you fairly young for a Draenei, though? Or was it... Eredar? I forget..."
"Azerothian Biology is on shelf three, and some books contemplate Draenor as well." He smiled yet again, this time with a clear false pleasantness.
Kall leant casually against a table - not Kouniam's. "Stop shelving the conversation."
"Shame I can't shelve you...""You can try, but you know what you'll get, so I wouldn't recommend it."
There was a little silence.
"Eredar, young," he said, looking coldly at Kall. He turned his attention to the scroll after realising he was out of ink.
"Hey, did I get through?""This is no barriage you can [i]get through[/i]."
He muttered, now. "Blasted arakkoa feathers..." He focused on the end of the archive room and opened his right hand towards it, as if expecting something.
Kall made sure she was out of the line of sight.
"You're just throwing up a different kind of barrier to the one you're probably used to."
A small black ink vial flew through the room, passing right were Kall was moments before. "You would rather have an arcane barriage...?"
"I would rather speak to you."
"I'm listening." He opened the ink vial and plunged his feather inside before resuming his writing.
"How have you been recently?" She didn't sound like she expected a response.
"Depends on what dictionary definition of [i]good[/i] you want me to use."
"I'm leaving." He looked her in the eyes, finishing his writing with an elegant signature: [i]K. Nikulin[/i]."Leaving what, or where? You need to disambiguate, I'm afraid; I'm not telepathic."
He grabbed a small red candle from his desk's candelabrum and melted it with his bare hands, allowing a small string of wax to touch the scroll, after which he sealed it.
"I'm leaving everything. I shall no longer be known as Pentrarch Kouniam Nikulin of the Athanatoi..."He grabbed his scroll and walked over to the head desk on the far side of the room.
Kall tilted her head a little. "Then what?"
"Who knows... maybe I can dedicate my time to gem cutting. I miss that..."
He laid the scroll on the desk and started looking around the archives.
"I advise you don't take that box of splinters you probably still have hanging around somewhere," advised Kall, matter-of-factly. "It'll drive you mad again."
He smiled. "No... I won't."
"Good. At this point I can't really stop you." Her face was emotionless. "So just take care, alright?"
"I'll miss this room. Bigger than the one at Nethergarde Keep, you know?"
"Everything in Northrend is bigger.""Everything in Argus is bigger." He smirked. "Just kidding..."
Kall smirked a little, but it was half-hearted and false.
He stood, gazing around the room for a while, after which he grabbed his crystal sundial and looked at it carefully. "Time to go. Need to be out of here before Ethnarch Zelcandor starts barking at my departure." He sighed.
"Heh. He barks at everything. Man's like a small dog, I swear. Barking mad, too. Though, that's not saying much."
"He'd rather want you to say wolf Kall.""Of course he would... anyone would rather be compared to a wolf than a dog."
Kouniam magically enlarged his cloak to cover him entirely, and moved to the door.
"Who'll look after the books now, Kouniam?"
He stood still right under the doorway.
"What do you think I was writing just know Sprangler?" He was not looking at her.
"I'm polite enough not to read letters unaddressed to me..."
"I love every inch of paper in this room too much not to take care of such things.""Then why leave?"
He looked at his sundial carefully before turning back and carefully placing it on the closest table."Because I must."
"Whenever I say stuff like that, Lowdan says I'm being mystical and leaves it alone. I'm not him, though."
"You are the new Head of the Archives according to the letter; I expect Zelcandor not to deny me this wish."Kouniam's pure white eyes cutted through the darkness of the hood. Kall's dull blue-grey eyes offered no such piercing light.
"I understand." She considered for a few moments, then, "I shall endeavour to ensure that, upon your return, the library shall be as you left it."
"No. I don't want that Kall. I expect it to fill." He smiled.
Kouniam turned around and went to the door.
"I meant in its condition, you know," she smiled. There was a little more emotion there than normal.
"The crystal sundial on the table is also yours. If you need help learning how to use it I suggest you consult shelf two, dictionaries."
"If you need anything by way of books for research, Kouniam, send us a letter and I'll see what I can forward. Alternatively, let yourself in. I trust you keep a key."
"I don't need such thing as a key." There was a long pause in which nothing was said. Then: "And please take the sundial as a token of forgiveness... I was not the best person with you. Farewell."
He walked away from the room, towards the keep staircase.
"I appreciate it, Kouniam. The door's open if you need to come back for anything, emotional reasons included..." The back end of her sentence trailed off with distance, but that was probably for the best."Good luck!"
A soft yell could be heard from the outside: "Malfas!"A few moments later, nothing could be heard or seen except a flying violet dragon on the horizon - and the cold winds of Howling Fjord.