In an effort to increase new contributions to my site, I've rounded up some other folk I know here on Azeroth. For the spiritual side of things, you can enjoy the cerebral discourses put forth by a night elf priestess named Arochi, who I've never met in person, but correspond with frequently by mail. (And if cerebral discourses on theology aren't your thing, I hear she strips down to her mageweave and starts dancing on the table after a few drinks.)
In my conversations with priests unfortunate enough to have been born humans or dwarves, it has come to my attention that you appear to only have half a belief system. You talk much of the Holy Light, as if that were the sole source of divinity, yet you are still perfectly willing to skulk about employing the powers of the shadow without openly acknowledging from where you draw such might. Although I do not have much experience with the Forsaken, from a few texts of theirs which I have obtained, they seem to suffer much the same problem, save that they view the shadow as the source of their unlives and uphold it over all else.
The light and the shadow are but two sides of the same coin, flipping over and over through eternity. Elune herself in her monthly cycle shifts her divine nature between light and shadow, reminding us that the two must be kept ever in balance. This balance is provided by the application of sentient will. It is through personal discipline that we can meld the mortal with the divine, proving a third peak of creative impetus to the perfect axis of the heavens.
All philosophies are ultimately based up this key principle. Take the warlock. They view the world in terms of the flame that consumes and the fearful gulf of darkness that surrounds it, and only by the mastery of the will, as evidenced through the binding of demons, can the individual seek to prevail. To the mage, reality lies between the chaotic extreme of primordial fire and the eternal stasis of umarred ice, and only by means of arcane intellect can one walk the narrow path between.
Even the less cerebral of our brethren couch their world view in such terms. Take the simple warrior. Between the unbridled fury of the berserker and the instinct to shield oneself behind thick walls that shut out the world, one must maintain a balance, and they do so through the discipline they develop in the study of various and sundy arms.
No matter the names we assign them, it is clear there is an axis between two extremes, each unfathomable in its celestial perfection and diametrically opposed to the other, and that the way in between is shown to us by rigorous practice and exploration of the self.
One of my favorite verses is:
I am the Darkness and the Light,
The Terror and the Hope,
The Nadir and the Zenith.
Love and Fear me,
For I Create and Destroy
With both Grace and Power.
The Eternal and the Ephemeral,
The Spiritual and the Temporal,
Are but Blood and Dust to me.
Flesh and Will,
Worship and War,
By these tokens will you Know me and Forget me.
While best known for its prismatic structure of 2 terms / 3 lines / 4 stanzas, those listeners simultaneously sophisticated but base appreciate the pun in the last line. As fun as "knowing" is, my favorite aspect of the piece is the subtle implication that it's unclear if it is the Goddess speaking through her agent, or her agent speaking directly, but I'm something of an egotist that way.
A ways back, I experienced a crisis of faith, which I've never truly discussed with anyone (anyone less than Divine, of course). It was at the time that I and my companions had been probing the depths of the ancient ruined city of Zul'Gurub, recently come to be inhabited again by the blood god Hakkar and his minions.
The crux of my problem can be stated quite simply: I am a priest of Elune, and in Zul'Gurub, I met priests of Hakkar. While I am by no means weak, it took the concerted effort of nearly two dozen seasoned veterans working with me to defeat even a single one of his high priests. Even the lesser of his worshippers were more than a match for four or five of our band. How could they be so much mightier than us?
To that question, I had an obvious answer. Hakkar himself, a god made flesh, stood atop his temple, overseeing all. Strength flowed from him to his lieutenants. Theological questions are moot when in sight of a god whose followers call down pillars of fire from the sky and command armies of beasts and transform their flesh into avatars of old loas.
I, by contrast, could twiddle my fingers to heal a mortal wound and even bring the dead back across the veil of existence, but it seemed that my skills paled in comparison to these clerical titans. Hakkar was right there. There was no room for doubt. I, on the other hand, suddenly found it hard to recall when I had last had a clear signal from Elune. Of course, I see her every night as she walks the sky, but was she paying any attention to me? I had powers which she had granted me, but did she care? Had she just handed me the magical equivalent of trinkets and beads to buy off my foolish interest, then cast me free and forgotten me? Had I displeased her? If so, she hadn't even bothered to dispense with some divine wrath in my direction! In short, I began to feel that I had bet on the wrong side.
In between our attacks on the Hakkari stronghold, I began to research the history of Hakkar and his power in greater detail. When the trolls had been torn by strife, he appeared to subjugate them and remake them into a mighty empire once again. A jealous god, a god of war and blood, he demanded sacrifices but rewarded success. Perhaps I could join his ranks and swell my powers by proving myself worthy. If I was so little to Elune, what was she to me?
My dark fascination with the Soulflayer grew, and I came to believe that I could prove my worth by defeating his high priests. If I showed myself to be stronger than them, then he would have to accept me and grant me even greater power. One by one, his minions fell before us. As each one dropped lifeless, my pride grew, and when the last was down, I no longer wanted to approach Hakkar as a supplicant, but as a conqueror. Why settle for servant to a god when you can be his master? My aim was now to subjugate him, and to chain his power to my ends.
On the fateful day, we approached him and made numerous sallies against his temple. Each time we were rebuffed, but we learned, probing his defenses and honing our skills, until at last we slew him, turning his own blood magics against him. As the dust settled and silence filled the jungle, Hakkar was just another corpse at my feet. His empire was ruin, and I had played a key part in its destruction. It is not hubris to challenge gods when you win.
That night, Elune came to me in the clearest vision I have had in a long time, and smiled at me. I understood that she taught her children to stand on their own, and wield what the foolish think to be flaws as weapons—doubt to seek out the truth of matters, pride to refuse to give up, and wrath to smite down the enemies of the Moon. All these things have their counterparts, and without either, the whole falls apart. Extremes are but two sides of the slowly spinning moon, and each shall have their time in the sky.
In time, I was told, I too would spin. That time is now. Elune has visited me again, and told me that the gates to Outland shall reopen within another turning of herself. Now is not the time for gentleness and nurturing. I am to turn from the path of the Full Moon to the path of the New Moon, to wield the darkness to fight the darkness. As her agent, I am to battle forth into a broken world of demons so that her light may follow. As such, I lay forth this confession to unburden my soul, for I do not wish to take too much darkness with me as I venture into it, lest I be consumed and fall.
The world thinks we have enslaved a Naaru, and the world is wrong. We are not devouring Him; rather, He is devouring us. I know, because I am being slowly eaten, but I don't want it to stop.
When the Scourge came, we fought bravely, and like all families, we did not come out without scars. Ordron fell that day. Though he was our brother, he was over a hundred years the senior of even Eissa, and he'd always been more like a second father to his three little sisters, especially after the death of our actual father. That seems like so many lifetimes ago.
I think I'm supposed to care if he died nobly or not, gave his life defending the helpless, if there's someone out there who's alive because he's dead. I don't. I only care that he's dead. I miss him terribly, and hate him for not being with us during the dark times afterward, and hate myself for that, because he was never anything but kindness to us. I don't even know how he died, only that there was fighting and many were lost and he didn't make the retreat that day. I pretended to hold out hope for as long as I could, for my sisters if nothing else, but in my heart I knew that he was dead, and when they found his body three days later, I did not even cry.
After that, we lost the Sunwell, and it was bad. Very bad. People describe addiction as a hunger. Those people don't know addiction. It's like not being able to breathe, like drowning. Every moment of every day, I was suffocating. Every movement was agonizing. I had headaches, my hands shook, I couldn't think. It was like the world had gone grey and blurry and I know that somewhere just around the corner was where a thief had taken all the color but I was too confused to know which corner it was.
I thought of killing myself. It seems stupid—after how hard we'd fought to keep the Scourge from doing so, to do it to yourself. I was pretty stupid. Then again, I think I'm pretty stupid now, but I'm getting ahead of myself. The thought flicked across my mind from time to time, when I could focus on a thought for more than a moment. Once, I thought very hard about how to do it. The second time, I decided how—poison, painless, eternal sleep, but didn't have the nerve to so much as get the stuff. And then Faliyah killed herself.
I think she knew I'd been thinking about it. She'd always been flighty, but had keen insight into people. The day before, she'd given me a hug and tried to cheer me up. I didn't even suspect it was that bad for her, but like I said, I can be pretty stupid. She hadn't been on the front lines, hadn't fought tooth and nail for the wretched scraps of a life we still had left. That crushes your soul, but it does make you appreciate what you have. She'd only seen her whole world crumble down around her. She'd lost a lover, too. With all that's happened, I can't even remember his name, but she'd been seeing him for a few years, and I think it was getting serious. She never talked much about love, though. I loved her like the sister she was, but I don't think she was a very deep person.
In any case, that night she went up to the top of the spire and jumped off. She knew what she was doing. No one found her until dawn, hours later and smeared across half the square, too far gone for any spell to bring back. Eissa said it must have been an accident, but I knew otherwise, and didn't want to argue with the only family I had left. Faliyah knew how to feather fall, and there in the pocket of her robe they found a feather. She wanted us to know that's what she wanted. After all we'd been through, I couldn't even find a way to be mad at her, but I've never thought about killing myself since. I decided I was too angry at the world to die any time soon, by my hand or any other, until I'd had some revenge.
It wasn't long after that the Prince revealed to us how to take magic from a world that would no longer give. It made the shakes and the nausea and agony go away, but it felt awful. It was dirty and horrible, like butchering a calf or whoring yourself out in dark alleys. I did it, because I needed it, but hated myself for needing it and being too weak to resist.
Eissa, on the other hand, relished it. She talked about this being the way things should have always been. About how it was the right of our people to take from the world, that it should bow down before us. She'd always been gung-ho about things, but this zeal surpassed anything she'd shown before. I think it was her way of coping with the war, with Ordron, with Faliyah, with me and my self-loathing, with everything, but it went too far. She came to worship the Prince, and talked of him constantly. I was less enthusiastic, and we began to argue about it. Frequently. In the end, she signed up for one of the expeditions to Outland, which I've come to realize are a monomaniacal crusade. That was the last time I saw her. I hope I don't see her again, because I'm sure she's still under Kael'thas's banner, and if I do see her, I'm going to have to kill her. Though, if someone does kill her, I think it should be me, quickly and cleanly, with just one look between us to let her know the truth; I owe her that much, for all we've been through. He has granted me the vision that if we meet, that is what will come to pass, but mercy keeps him from showing me if I have lost her for all time or if I am to be her murderer.
Which brings things back to me. I stayed in Silvermoon, helping to piece back together the ruins of the city and of our lives. Into those ruins, they brought M'uru. They brought Him as a prize, with tales of conquest, of fighting the invading Naaru from beyond and claiming their fortress as our seat of power in Outland, of glory and tribute and spoils, but what they brought back was no prize. He was not subdued, but rather quiescent. Only the foolish who could not see past their own inflated self-image could not see that, but it seems we have many of those around here. This was no slave broken in mind, but an intelligence unfathomable, scheming and twisting, biding its time.
They claimed their spells could hold Him, and hold Him they do, but only because he does not break them. It is a concession to our pride. A negotiation of sorts. I know this because like the others, I turned to Him to partake of His essence, to breathe in the magic which flowed off Him in generous torrents, bubbling forth from a seemingly inexhaustible core.
It was not like ripping it from the world at all. It poured forth, but more importantly, it came willingly. It was not cheap and dirty and low but grand and glorious and gifted, filling me and satisfying me more than any food or any man ever had or could. Even the Sunwell had been a lifeless thing, a fire to warm oneself by, while this was a willing partner in the exchange, a lover that cuddled you to sleep and shared his warmth.
At first, I just took in the magic, feeling it flow into my dusty dry corners long forgotten, unfolding like a flower in the spring, but soon, with the magic came more. Sudden opinions, emotions, complete thoughts, visions of things long past and things yet to come bounded into my head. At first, I feared I was going mad, a reaction to my long withdrawal, but soon a definite pattern emerged. I was being persuaded, converted. These were no random memories, but carefully chosen fragments, designed to lodge in my soul rather than pass through me. Perhaps it is them speaking, but I did not mind. I had been so empty for so long that anything to fill the void was welcome. Bit by bit, the Naaru worked its way into me, and I found myself liking the new me more than the old.
He has revealed things to me, such as that He speaks differently to all his children. To some, He speaks to their pride, leaving intact the delusion that they are using Him. To others like me, who have lost so much, He fills the void with hope. All of us He is shaping into a weapon. A secret army to fight the Burning Legion, a flanking maneuver in Their ancient conflict, and I do not mind. I see that it is the right thing, and it has given me purpose, even if it is at the cost of being me. I no longer know which thoughts are mine and which are His, and do not care. I give of myself willingly, as He has done.