Bad Fanfiction +
Apatia - Part 2 (Potential GW2 Story Spoilers
I had known it all along. From the moment Apatia and I had parted to intercept the two Krait envoys, I had felt an anxious desperation churning deep in the pits of my stomach. One of us was not coming home. I had wanted to embrace her in that moment. To let her know that no matter what happened, I would come back, and to force her to promise me the same. But I didn’t. I knew how absurd it would look, how stupid I would feel, acting on such stupid impulse. Selfishly, I couldn’t get past my own stupid pride. I would look weak, and emotional. How embarrassing would that be? Trahearne never showed emotions. He was always a calm and collected leader, a perfect example for the rest of the Pact. As commander I felt it my duty to do the same. So I did nothing. As we parted ways, I did not so much as glance back at her, silently praying the feeling in my stomach was wrong. Perhaps if I had just snuck that glance, I would have seen her fiery eyes and determined smile one more time.
Snapping back to reality, I forced myself to look at the deformed monstrosity before me. Here she stood, but this was not her. This could not be her. Someone had taken my Apatia, and replaced her with this lifeless doll. She would not do this to me. She would note my arrival with a smart salute, and a smarter grin. So, this slack-jawed thing that stumbled before me, it could never be her. Its cold and empty eyes stared past me as though refusing to acknowledge me. Rotting arms hung limply by its ruined sides. This was not possible. None of this was happening; it was all just a nightmare brought on my exhaustion after the fight at Fort Trinity. None of this was real, any moment now I knew I would hear her calling me awake... I began to yell at the husk before me, taunting it, begging it to notice me.
“Look at me!” I screamed. “What do you think you’re doing soldier?! Don’t you dare ignore a direct command from your superior officer!”
I had never pulled rank on her before. We had always been partners... equals. But in this moment, I was willing to do anything to force her acknowledgement. I couldn’t let my trusted partner break that bond now. I wouldn’t let her. My eyesight began to blur, and my shouts turned to whimpers. I felt me legs give way beneath me. I slumped to my knees, eyes planted squarely on the wood platform below me, no longer able to bear the sight of my fallen friend.
“Apatia! I’ve come to help you... I’m here! It’s going to be okay!” I muttered desperately, though I knew my pleas would fall upon deaf ears, “We’re going to get you out of here! It’s going to be okay! please... please...”
I felt a warm hand on my shoulder and turned to see the blurry face of Crusader Afanen behind me. She and the others had been finished down below and had quietly approached while I was mourning.
Explorer Hekja was the first to speak, “Commander, Apatia’s sacrificed her life to save hundreds of lives at Fort Trinity; without the krait orb the two of you recovered, none of us would be here today. She was a great warrior and a hero; her legacy will always be remembered by the Norn and I will see to it personally that her part in this war is documented in the Priory’s tomes.”
“Still, it’s a shame she had to go this way,” Afanen consoled empathetically, “she had so much strength and passion.”
“Steel yourself, Commander” came the ever calm voice of Trahearne, “In my time in Orr, I have lost many good friends, and we shall see many more go before this campaign reaches its conclusion. If you and I are to break, this unstable alliance may soon follow.”
“I see,” broke in the voice of Zrii from somewhere further behind, “She became a risen. My condolences Commander, I truly believed she had survived,” she paused for a moment, then continued, “But... this doesn’t have to be the end! Having an undead captive to study, especially one we know well could be a huge boon to the Pact! You see, the Order of Whispers has been considering such tests ever since the Orrians sieged our headquarters following...”
She spoke the words with clear conviction, as though mocking me. What would she know about my partner? I cursed her bitterly. I cursed her and the Pact and Zhaitan and everyone in Tyria. Not a single one of them could ever comprehend the pain that had welled up in my chest. The idiot Asura didn’t seem to care though, continuing on with her absurd plans for Apatia.
I could hear Hekja sigh quietly. She muttered something frustratedly to the Asura, causing the later to stop mid-ramble.
Nothing they said mattered though. I was awash with emotions: anger, humiliation, anxiety, fear, and guilt. None of these fools had ever done as much for me as she had, and yet, because of my decision, they lived on and she did not.
“I would trade them all, each and every one of their lives for yours, Apatia,” muttered a strange, dark voice in the back of my mind.
The thought sent a chill through my body. My deepest darkest feelings taking corporeal form. And I found myself wrestling with the words now attempting to push their way out of my throat. What came out was closer to a strangled wheeze then a comprehensible sentence. For a moment there was a heavy silence over us, then came the uneasy voice of Zrii.
“Ah, my apologies again Commander, I must have gotten carried away there. I didn’t mean to...” she trailed off awkwardly and the all consuming silence returned. Then the quiet was broken again, this time by Afanen.
“Commander,” she said with a sad warmth, “Apatia is gone. We have to set her spirit free. If you are not feeling yourself, Hekja or I could send her onward to The Mists while you return to the boat.”
“Don’t touch her!” I snarled ferociously at the bewildered Sylvari, painfully raising myself to my feet. My head rang out in a cacophony of shrieks and bells and my vision became blurry. I grabbed my head in both hands, squeezing tightly as though I could force back the pain in my skull like another common foe. Staggering dizzily, I took a few experimental steps like a toddler, trying to regain shattered sense of balance. With her gone I was a child again, alone and confused with even the most basic of things, but slowly the world came into focus again and I could control my own body.
“I... I need to do this myself.” I muttered roughly.
My arm felt as heavy as lead as I raised it to wipe my eyes, shuttering slightly at the sudden sting of the polluted air as I opened them wide. With my other hand, I fumbled with the buckle that fastened the axe to my side. Raising it before me, I tiredly examined it, pouring over every detail with stinging eyes. Rather then the traditional Lionguard weaponry emblazoned with the golden lion, it was simply built and without embellishments. Its handle was elder wood, worn with time, but sturdy nonetheless, and its blade was still sharp from loving care despite the lines of rust which arched across its tough Mythril head. Red and Gold ribbons intertwined around its base, forming a surprisingly strong grip, these too were worn and discolored with age. Memories flashed like blinding lightning inside my skull. Finding her forlorn axe laying in the mud, krait blood still smeared across its head. I had taken it, cleaned it at Fort Trinity and promised myself I would bring it back to her. Now because of some stupid Krait, I could never complete that promise.
“AARGH!” I roared aloud, stomping raucously towards the cage, “Curse the Krait! Curse Zhaitan! Curse you all!”
Taking the axe in both hands, I thrust it upwards, over my head, and brought its cutting edge down upon the lock with as much force as I could muster. The rusty metal split easily beneath the sharp blade and the lock fell to the floor with a ear ringing clank, but the monster within the cage still refused to react. It remained where it stood, empty stare still upon its rotted face.
I tightly gripped the bars of the cage door with my left hand, still clutching her axe tightly in my right. The hinges screeched and resisted, but eventually gave way with a jerk. Suddenly, a sharp clang rang out from below. I stared dazedly at the axe I had been holding, now fallen against the metal floor of the cage. With a start, I realized my whole body was trembling, my sudden wrath was replaced by just as quickly by anxiety and exhaustion. Taking a few steps back, I reached for my other weapon, a longsword slung on a leather band around my back. Lethargically, I planted my feet upon the ground. Both hands gripped the sword handle as I struggled to stop the shakes that ran through my body and into the sword. Breathing deeply I paused until I was calm enough that the blade before me had steadied.
Silently, with cold, practiced motions, I took a single step backward, placing my left foot a few feet behind my right. I swung my arms backwards, pointing the tip of my blade forward towards my target. Tears streamed down my face now, in unabashed streams. I wanted to say some last words to her while I still could, but my throat constricted and refused to cooperate. My lips moved in ghostly syllables, and as my dry tongue ran across their cracked surfaces I could tasted the salt upon them.
“Goodbye, Apatia...” I finally mustered. My arms arched forward carrying their heavy load burden, away from my heart and into hers.
Then, in that one swift motion, the deed was done.
She was falling now. Her limp form dropping to the ground. I had to catch her! I knew I had to catch her! But by the time my exhausted body could even begin to react, she was already slumped against the far cage wall. Again I fell to my knees, arms stretched across the body of my fallen friend, my face pressed against her unmoving chest. From somewhere deep within me came a guttural moan of remorse, it started deep and passionate and stretched on for as long as I had breath in my body before trailing off in a pathetic whimper of defeat. Moments turned to minutes, and still I lay pressed against her, my bitter, defeated whines like a storm upon sea of tarnished gold and I cried. I cried as though my burning hot tears could restore the warmth to her body, and fire to her eyes. But it was not so.
Apatia was gone and nothing could ever bring her back.
Apatia - Part 1 (Potential GW2 Story Spoilers)
Rotting wood crunched beneath my feet, as I stepped from the dingy boat unto the gangways approaching the krait tower. Its ominous form consisted of a skyskraping Frankenstein stitched together from pieces of abandoned and waterlogged old galleons, Rotten masts protruding towards the cloudy beyond, bore dozens of precariously hung, rusted iron cages. Overhead the blue skies were blotted out my a heavy hanging mass of green and grey. The thick air around us bit like acid. The whole place stunk of rot and disease and groaned like a dying whale as the rest of my team set foot on its bloated mass. The beast towered above us, sickly twisting arms of wood and metal painting a ghastly silhouette against the haunting cloudscape above. But despite oppressive atmosphere, I could not help but breath a sigh of relief. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, it was time to rescue my captured partner. With me stood only a small rescue team, five strong. Few had been willing to brave a corrupted Krait stronghold to search for a single captured operative, and even those who had come were more interested in Marshall Trahearne and I return safely then they were in the mission.
“Careful”, I heard Trahearne warn from behind me, “this place has been claimed by Zhaitan’s corruption, contact with the water may prove fatal... or worse.”
I could hear the rest of our party shifting uneasily as they looked for steadier footing, but my concerns were on the safety of someone else.
“Don’t worry Apatia,” I found myself whispering quietly to the air, “I’m here.”
Apatia, my partner and close friend had been captured by the Krait during a mission gone wrong. The two of us had been sent to steal a valuable artifact as it was being transported by a Krait envoy from one safe-hold to another. We had set up traps and lay expectantly in wait, but we were not the only ones expecting a fight. The Krait had split up into two envoys, and with no time to send for backup, we had been forced to split up and attempt to engage both at once. I had returned with the artifact in tow, she had not returned at all.
“Commander, everyone is situated and ready to move,” came Trahearne’s calm, monotonous voice again.
Wiping my stinging eyes, I paused for a moment to gather my strength, “Alright team, you heard the Marshall! Move out!” I yelled, my voice filled to bursting with false bravado. The others replied with halfhearted agreement and we begin to move.
We proceeded slowly, no one wanting to slip upon or fall from the mossy wood. Still, I found myself wishing we could move faster. Every moment we wasted upon those docks was another moment Apatia lay suffering above us. I did not doubt the severity of Trahearne’s warning, however and remained at a slow, subdued pace. Suddenly the water beneath us seemed to pucker and bubble. Automatically we shifted into a circle facing outward, eyes flickering and ears open. With our weapons drawn, we stood stock-still, tensed and ready for combat at the first sign of danger, but the water returned to its eerie calm and the bubbling stopped just as quickly as it had begun.
“Don’t move and keep your eyes peeled,” grimaced Explorer Hekja, an experienced Norn hunter and scholar of the Priory, “This is and old Krait hunting tactic. As soon as you let your guard down...”
Suddenly the water erupted from all sides and with it came the risen Krait. Their wormlike bodies had taken on the same corrupted grey-green that seemed to infect the water, some were missing significant chunks of flesh as though they had been torn apart. Zhaitan’s dark powers had claimed these already dangerous sadists, stripping them of their heartbeats and replacing it with an unsatisfiable hunger for blood.The rotten smell from before began a new assault upon my nose with tenfold its previous power. For a moment I stood dazed by the beasts before me, but this was not the time for daydreaming. My reverie was broken as metal clanged against scale. Crusader Afanen smashed her sword into the Krait blocking our way, the beast reeled backwards, into the water, but another was quickly moving to take it’s place.
“Hurry commander,” I heard the Sylvari whisper as she passed me to engage another rotting wyrm, “We’ll hold them off here, you go find Apatia.”
Ducking past the new krait attempting to block my path, I began to run, just barely missing its sweeping trident. I scrambled up onto the higher rafters, away from the murky water and the battle below, closer to the lonely cages hanging above. Below me, I could hear Hekja calling my name, but her words floated in my head like an echo in the distance. I began to climb faster as a chill shuddered through my bones. Just above me was a stable platform upon which rested several cages. I hoped desperately to find Apatia’s amongst them.
The rusted metal chambers were devoid of life. Whatever poor souls they had once contained had long since rotted away and only corroded bone and bits of twisted metal remained. Slowly I approached each one, searching carefully for any signs that could link them to my captured comrade. The first skeleton was small, it had likely once been an Asura. The bones lay in a scattered mess, some shattered, gnawed and broken into pieces. The second cage was empty and I passed it by with nothing more then a precursory glance. The last one gave me pause however. The remains were significantly larger then the previous skeleton, either a small Norn or an exceptionally large human. Still, it was not the one I was looking for. Suddenly my body grew stiff with the unnerving feeling of eyes upon my back.
I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck prickling. Even undead, the Krait were unlikely to leave their prisoners unguarded. I turned slowly, cautiously, only to find nothing behind me. Down below, I could faintly hear the others still fighting with the Krait, but the platforms around me were strangely abandoned. At this altitude, the miring smog was thinner and I could almost feel an icy wind blowing slightly against my neck. The Krait clearly hadn’t abandoned this place, so why weren’t they here? A clawed gray hand clacked against the edge of the platform in response.
I had unhooked an axe from its buckle at my side and was just preparing to cut the gray fingers clean off when Agent Zrii vaulted up onto the platform. I blinked in surprise as the little white haired Asura swaggered across the platform towards me. I quickly re-sheathed my weapon, glancing quickly from it to Zrii’s hand, one which I had been on the verge of mutilating. Subconsciously the Asura rubbed one hand with the other as though reading my thoughts.
“Commander,” she began with an Asuran haughtiness “I’ve spotted a cage on the platform above us over there, who’s captive appears to have gold armor, much like that of our missing Lionguard,” Zrii stretched her little arm upward and towards the barely visible mountains opposite the direction of our arrival. She smiled smugly, “No need to thank me.”
I attempted to shrug off the Asura’s last comment, instead focusing intently on finding the fastest way to reach the cage. Silently I reminded myself that I had almost hurt her much more severely then a few untimely jokes and jabs. A narrow wood plank connected this platform to the next and from there another one reached up towards the aforementioned cage but as I stepped onto the rickety husk I heard Zrii’s high-pitched voice calling out to me again. After a moment of deliberation, I decided to press onwards; now was not the time for another of the Asura’s belittling remarks.
“Commander,” the Asura called out insistently, “the figure above us, it was still moving. I do believe your friend may yet live.”
Turning to her, I found the Asura was again smiling, this time with genuine warmth. Quickly, I smiled back before returning my thoughts fully to the task ahead. The plank was still slimy from it’s previous Krait owners and I balanced carefully upon it. It would be too ironic a tragedy to slip here, so close to the reunion with my partner, so close to the end of this nightmare. Reaching the first platform, I paused briefly, resting my back upon the ancient mast that hoisted the rotting section of deck so far above the ocean below. I strained my eyes in an attempt to see the figure inside the cage, just barely visible over the side of the final platform. There she was, just as Agent Zrii had described, a slouched figure in golden armor. As I continued to watch, I thought I could see her body rise and fall slowly with labored breaths. She was okay! Despite all the death and horror that seemed ever-present in our campaign against Zhaitan, a single beam of golden light shown through the darkness. Somehow, Apatia had survived!
“Apatia!” I cried out in relieved joy, “I’m here! I’ve come to get you out of this place!”
The slouched figure did not respond. Something was wrong.
I was running now. Dashing over the wooden final wooden flat with reckless abandon. This couldn’t be her. There had to be a mistake! This couldn’t be her! It just... couldn’t be! She... no... it, turned to face me as I clambered onto the platform. It’s dead eyes stared blankly and it’s shuddering body hunched over limply. But it was Apatia. It wore the same golden armor, now tarnished and battered. It had her brown hair, now matted with dirt and blood, torn and burnt. This mutilated monstrosity was her, and yet it wasn’t. While I had been away fighting at Fort Trinity, she had suffered at the hands of the Krait, been corrupted by the toxins of Zhaitan, and finally, reborn, a risen.