There was silence but not peace. Even asleep, Louise twitched in fear, her crazed mind full of demons, blood, Nathrazeim and the betrayal by her sister. Perhaps a dozen cats of different species lay sleeping on the ground next to her having finally tired themselves out with play. That they were alive was a small miracle. Louise had recently started to help her mother's business by selling their farmed cats to the citizens of Stormwind. As cat meat. Lou felt no remorse at snapping the neck of the cat fresh for the customer, it was something she had grown up with, watching her mother do the same. First caring and loving for the tiny animals, stroking them and offering saucers of milk, then humanely slaughtering them for the passing trade. It wasn't her childhood that had broken her mind, no, it was her sweet baby sister. Aydith Cook.
From the start, Aydith had been a vindictive baby, clamping her little gums on her mother's breast. Mother had had plenty more babies, and baby Aydith was weaned swiftly and professionally to their staple diet of barley, oats, beef and catmeat. If the locals considered Donni mad, they considered her little girl as evil. Evil from birth, they said. An intelligent girl, Aydith resented the family poverty and basic survival. She was officially cautioned by the local guards throughout her girlhood. Neighbours complained of cats crying and howling for hours at her hands. From puberty, she began to walk the village with a chicken by her side. The villagers nodded amongst themselves fearfully, saying it was an imp in disguise. Finally after being banned from the Lions Pride for underage drinking, Aydith simply disappeared, leaving behind a chalk circle in the ground, a stench of sulphur and a village of relieved neighbours. Louise bloomed and joined the Scarlet Crusade to her mother's pride, but for her the relief was short lived.
Aydith was livid to discover Louise had left the Crusade, moving on from the life Aydith and her Master had manipulated and planned for her. It was Aydith's torture of which Louise now dreamed, remembering the clawed leathery wings of the Nathrezeim, feeling the regular life-drain feeding her evil sister, her very soul pulled and wrenched by Aydith's demonic Master. She saw and felt the results of the torture constantly, either awake or asleep, her tortured and ragged mind darting between present and memory, gasping for sanity.
Yet, hope remained. In a basket next to the rented, flea infested bed, warmly wrapped in a cloak lay a three month old baby, eyes tight shut to the world, sleeping with a thumb in her mouth. Baby Heather didn't stir, her little chest rose and fell in peaceful baby dreams. In her chubby fist she still held to a soggy ragdoll, dressed in a scarlet uniform, the grey beard sucked and bitten by the little tot. One kitten snuggled up in the basket with her, its little whiskers brushing her baby face.
The door to the rented room opened, and a light shone into the darkened room. An orange cat looked up, its eyes bright in the night, assessing the stranger. A man with smooth slicked-back dark hair and trimmed beard. He seemed to stand there for some time. The cat and the man looked at each other, both with unusually glowing eyes. The man seemed to be waiting for something, wrestling with his conscience. "For me, my lover" whispered a female voice in his head. The man staggered, physically fighting with himself to remove the voice in his head. There was no escape for him. A delicate sword came to his grasp, almost transparent, it seemed to glow blue and red at the same time. It felt like hot paint in his hands, yet he was unable to sheathe or drop it. As always, the touch melted into him and his Will was pushed to the back of his mind. Hardly audible, the man spoke again. "She will serve Me as her sister does. I will bend her to the Will of Balnazzar." The man approached the dirty bed, pointing sword at Louise as she slept, stepping over sleeping cats.
"N-no.." gasped a familiar voice, Damien Ormsby, from inside the man. The sword shook and slowly lowered to the floor. The orange tabby cat glared at Ormsby, and flexed her claws. The man seemed to dance in pain, flexing and tightening, before the sword regained control of the body. Ormsby retreated deep into his own mind, beaten back by clawed leathery wings, and the terrible feel of power rushing through his body. This was what he had longed for! This power he had lusted for to give to The Faith, his true mistress. But it was too much, too painful. Far beyond what he had expected. Ormsby's warlock training kicked in, and he reached inside himself, to tap his own lifeforce for mana. I will not allow it, the voice came from everywhere, inside him and outside him, yet none of the cats even woke at the noise. Desperately, the man reached for memories of his lover, conjuring her image to beat off the feeling of power and terror that run in his blood. Aydith is mine, not yours, said the Nathrezeim in his mind, and Ormsby knew he was beaten. He had become only a hand now, only a conduit to channel the Will of his Master. For one second he felt them all, all the souls the Dreadlord had eaten. He was one with them. Their memories were his. He heard himself cry "For Lordaeron, for the Crusade!" he saw himself looking for his children, his husband, his mother, she must not perish! He felt he was one of the soldiers in an army. The fires of Stratholme roared in his ears.
The sword moved once, and the action was done. Louise shifted slightly in her sleep. She dreamt of torments, and would wake to a real horror soon enough. Fat thick drops of blood splashed in slow motion on the tattered scarlet uniform of the ragdoll, bouncing on the floor. Each drop hit the floor with a sickening wet splash. Deep inside his mind, Ormsby stared horrified, his own nightmare a reality in front of him, his own hand holding the sword. In a terrible rush, he attacked the mind controlling his actions and regained his own will power. The orange tabby hissed at the violence, arching her back, and the other cats started screaming, yowling at the intruder. Ormsby tried to drop the sword but it would not let go of him, he staggered backwards towards the door, face aghast at the bloodied scene before him. The cats howled and hissed in terror. The man almost fell through the door, tripping on his splattered robes, and ran for the street. His feet took him onwards, onwards, he didn't know where he was going. He just needed to go, to run to get away from his actions, from the Dreadlord he felt pushing already at his mind, away from the darkened inn, away from the cobbled roads of Stormwind. As he rounded a corner, sword grip tight, he heard the worst scream of his life. A mad-woman's scream of horror.