Becoming Ren’dorei

The room was cold as she stood in the slight shift she had been given. All around, runes emitted the faintest purple glow around a low stone table. She was given very little information on what was to come. In fact, since her arrive at the Priory, she’d been almost completely alone. Sellynna looked around the room, nervous and excited. She was to become one of them. A Ren’dorei. Part of the most elite order in Quel’thalas. 

She pushed her golden hair back, letting it fall behind her. In the dark room, her bronze and golden tones seemed out of place. But she knew that would change soon enough. The Ren’dorei were different after they joined. Blues, purples, whites, all manner of the colder tones. As she fairly vibrated in her anticipation, several robed Ren’dorei entered the room. The Altermancers had arrived.

None of them spoke. Silk-lined leather cuffs were placed around her ankles and wrists. They guided her to the table, indicating that she should lie down. “How long will this take,” she asked, bubbly and sweet. Still she was met with silence. “Do I need to do anything?” Nothing. Not a word. 

The cuffs were locked down to heavy links that lifted up from the surface of the table. It wasn’t until that moment that she began to fear what was about to happen. The Altermancers moved into a circle around her, each standing on one of the glowing runes on the floor. There were five of them in total. “Wait… why did you..” she strained against the bonds, finding them too strong to move. The female at her head spoke a single word and the cuffs flared suddenly with a deep purple light. Runework appeared around them and her limbs became immobile.

The Altermancers raised their arms, bringing their hands level with their waists, the palms turned downward. Her eyes wide with terror, Sellynna was certain she was being sacrificed. “Please! Please, don’t kill me! I will do anything you ask! I..I will serve you!” It was though the others in the room were deaf to her. She turned her head to the side and saw him. The Hierarch. He looked to the lead Altermancer and nodded without a word. Turning, he stepped from the room and closed the door.

The chanting began, soft as feather fall around her. It came from all of the hooded figures, the faces she was unable to see. The only feature of theirs she was able to make out was their glowing eyes, some blue, some purple, all intense. Her own golden ones flashing back at them. The sound grew in both volume and somehow, it seemed to her, in number. That’s not right, there are only five. Why does it sound closer to twenty now?”

A soft grinding noise came from all around her. Though unable to move, she could still feel her arms and legs. Something colder than she could ever have imagined brushed her shin. It began to coil itself around her leg as another did the same to her arm. More and more joined them, though she had no idea what they were. Her skin crawled at the things that were snaking around her body. She pulled her head up and caught a glimpse of one on her arm. Her eyes flew open wide as she begged again to be allowed to live.

The tendril she saw was thick, glowing, and pulsing in shades of blues and purples that would fade into black. The seemed to be coming from small openings that appeared in the table around her. More of them, smaller, could be seen just peeking out. She stared for a moment, distracted by her attempt to figure out what it was. 

Suddenly the snaking limbs stopped moving. The cold, she thought, was intolerable. And then, one of them pierced her skin. She shrieked as one after another did the same all over her body. The cold was a lot, but this pain was beyond description for the young woman. She tried to move, but the spells held her fast. Her head began to whip around as she cried out. Thorns and barbs of ice filled her, her golden skin going black for a moment before fading to a dusky blue. Her hair slowly shifted to a soft shade of brushed pewter.  The room grew dark, though she couldn’t say for how long.

As her vision cleared, the features of the space became visible once again. Shaking her head, she thought she saw people moving. She blinked and found that yes, Altermancers were switching positions. Two of them moved very slowly out of the room as others took their place. It seemed to her that the voices multiplied again, but it wasn’t coming from the room. They were inside her head. Every fear, worry, self-deprecating thought she had was warped, twisted, and echoed back at her, all overlapping the chant. 

Her middle writhed against the pain as she squeezed her eyes shut tightly. It seemed an eternity as she was lanced again and again. The base of her skull suddenly felt like it was splitting open.  Void energy spilled from her skin, twisting and winding around the bottom layers of her hair. The strands of pewter bound together, beginning to glow as the clump thickened. After several minutes, it began to dwindle, finally settling in two thick tendrils that pulsed with Void power. One of the Altermancer’s knees buckled. A new one switched out, the first carried out the room. 

Sellynna tried to scream again, though her throat emitted no sound. Hours of pain had injured her voice. She opened her eyes with a snap, the golden glow replaced with a soft violet. The person at her head grabbed her face and turned it towards their own. But where a woman had stood was now a man. He nodded and the others slowly lowered their hands. The tendrils around her retreated and the doors that allowed them to be free closed. As the pain began to recede slightly, Sellynna whimpered. She was alive, but she wasn’t certain at that moment if she wanted to be. 

The cuffs were unlaced and she was carried to a soft bed in a very dimly lit room. Three women awaited her, all bearing tender and sympathetic looks. They helped to remove the now torn shift and clean her body. Salves were applied and she was wrapped in linen. Still the whispers overwhelmed much of what she could hear. It took her a  moment to realize that one of the women was trying to speak to her.

“I-I’m sorry?” Her voice was hoarse, barely audible. She turned to see a gentle smile meeting her gaze. 

“I said, you did well, dear. It will all be easier after this. You rest and if you need anything, just call out,” the older woman explained. She patted Sellynna on the arm and pointed to a plate of chocolate and fruit. Beside it, a steaming cup of broth. “Now, eat as much as you can manage. You will be weak for some time. The Uplift is long and very taxing.” 

Another young girl came and sat beside Sellynna a placed a bit of the chocolate at her lips. Sellynna tried to sit up, finding herself unable to. She allowed the girl to feed her a little. After a few bites, she turned her head away, tears welling up in her eyes. Her chest tightened as she tried to swallow it down. “Oh, don’t worry. Cry as much as you need to. You are in Processing. Here you will recover and learn how to quiet your Shade. After that, you will be expected to suffer all that you go through with dignity.”

Sellynna nodded and let the tears fall free. For a moment she thought she heard a smooth tenor voice outside the door. “Good. See that her family records are destroyed. She is one of us now.”

Hours later, she managed to sit partway up. Looking herself over, she started to cry softly. Deep purple scars had begun to appear from the puncture points. The fractal patterns were a mix of blooming fingers and angular streaks. Still small, Sellynna hoped that was the last of it.  The older woman in the room moved to check. She frowned as she examined the new marks. “Bring long coverings. Let’s get her dressed,” she directed the others. 

She smoothed Sellynna’s hair down speaking very gently. “Your scars are showing up early, dear. You must keep them covered. Always. The Lord Protector must never know. Your first lesson as a member of the Order. Flaws, mistakes mean death. You must seek perfection in everything. Especially your appearance.” 

Sellynna nodded. Her world was different now in ways she never expected. I can do this. I can do this. She looked up at the others in the room. “I will,” she croaked out. 

That’s what you think… hissed her Shade. Let’s see if you are worth what you have been given.