Part 18: Healing of body and soul

The moon was shining brightly, when Aviana’s Wingbeat drew up to the piers of Rut’theran Village. Captain Andral signed himself in, and was shown where he could lie by for a while, until his orders came in. Arranging for his cargo to be re-loaded onto a ship bound for Stormwind took up most of the night. It would appear that the regular ferry between Auberdine and Stormwind would have the necessary space in the hold. Good. Admiralty orders took precedence over everything, of course, but Captain Andral had a reputation to consider. Goods had to be delivered. And then, there was the other thing to be arranged.

“I have dead bodies on board, Dockmaster. Casualties of a fight with the Bloodsail Buccaneers.”

“Elune save us. And you came out of that alive? Well done, Captain.”

The Captain grinned. “We had passengers on board. They didn’t appreciate their trip being disturbed. Could have got ugly otherwise.”

“Well, that’s the first time I hear that passengers are good for something. Usually, they just complain.”

Captain Andral shook his head. “The casualties are passengers, Elune light their path. I suppose they’ll have to be buried here. So I need one Human size coffin, one Dwarf.”

“Hmm. I heard a story once, where a Human admiral-at-sea died in a battle, and for some reason he had to be buried at home. And they were two months away.”

“That sounds like it could have gotten a bit smelly.”

“Well, they had a solution to that. They put him in a coffin, and filled it with brandywine.”

Captain Andral laughed. “Pickled admiral? By the Gods, why is it that all the stories I hear about the Human Navy include strong drink in one way or another?”

The Dockmaster grinned. “Oh, you haven’t heard the best yet. You know how the Human sailors like their drink? And here was the Old Man, bathing in it.”

Captain Andral stared wide-eyed at the Dock master. “Oh, please. Please don’t tell me. They didn’t!”

“With straws. By the time they pulled into port, the Admiral was dryer than a Tanaris Goblin.”

“Right,” said the captain. “I’m not having that on board my girl. So, coffins please.”


Early the next morning, Stanley Gerald and Berrin Rockwalker were put in their coffins. Swordsman Gerald was carried ashore by Cullan, Kuryon and Dorian Graycloud. Swordsmen Jack Alan and Brian Rhodes carried Berrin. Hieronimo glared at them.

Head first, you zakkenwassers! You carry a fallen soldier head first.”

“All right, all right,” said Jack Alan. “Keep your shirt on. Head first it is.”

Smitty walked with Selena and Hieronimo at the head of their small procession. The mortuary was at the far end of the Warrior’s terrace, and they placed the coffins in a cool room made of stone. Hieronimo stamped the floor.

“I have to admit, they did what they could with this room, but still, I can feel the soil underneath.” She sighed. “Dwarfs want to be buried in good solid rock.”

She walked over to Berrin’s coffin and put her hand on it. She looked round.

“Who’s going to bury him?”

Selena sighed, then something occurred to her.

“I know exactly who to talk to!”


“Permission to come aboard, Captain?”

Captain Andral Fairbreeze walked over to the railing and leaned on it.

“That depends, Mr. Wavecrest. Do you have honourable intentions towards my crewmembers?”

Breladon Wavecrest grinned. “I can vouch for all except Sailor Mistgaze, Captain. I must confess to some slightly dishonourable intentions towards Filyen, though I have had no complaints from her.”

“Permission granted, Breladon. She’s in the galley. But before you go there, she’s been hurt. We’ve been in a fight.”

Breladon gave the Captain a horrified look. The captain put a hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t worry. She’s out of danger, but she is still in a lot of pain. Try not to outstay your welcome.”

Breladon nodded, then walked into the galley. Filyen was still lying on the galley table, eyes closed. A bandage was round her waist, a little blood seeping through it. Freja sat next to her. She gave Breladon a big smile.

“I thought I saw your ship. She’ll feel better for seeing you.”

“How…” Breladon swallowed. Filyen’s face was pale. Pain was on it, and she was making small noises in her sleep. “How is she?”

“I managed to heal her enough that she’ll live. We’ll have to get a priest in to do the rest, I’m quite spent.”

“Breladon?” Filyen opened her eyes. “I thought I heard you.”

Breladon took Filyen’s hand between his, sat down next to her, looking into her eyes.

“What happened?”

Filyen shivered, then her jaw set, and she made herself smile.

“Some Human thought I was a pig, and spitted me.”

“What? What Human? I saw some Humans leave ship just now. One of them?”

Filyen slowly shook her head. “No. Pirates. These Humans saved us all. And this… Dwarf girl. Pirates all dead.”

Freja put a hand on Breladon’s arm.

“Easy, Sailor. She’s still very weak.”

Breladon looked at Freja. “You saved her life.”

Freja sighed. “I suppose. I wish I could have done more.”

“Thank you,” said Breladon. He pulled Freja to him and held her close. “Thank you.”

He stood up, and looked from Freja to Filyen.

“I know just who we need. Don’t move.”

Filyen rolled her eyes, and pointed a hand at her bandaged stomach, but Breladon didn’t notice. He turned round and ran out of the galley. Filyen turned her eyes to Freja.

“How come you get hugs?”


Selena walked up to one of the tall, purple-skinned guards, and scraped up all the Darnassian she’d learnt from Ariciel.

Ishnu-alah. Temple de Lune?

The guard looked down on the young, freckled, Human girl.

“Temple de la Lune.” She switched to Common, and pointed. “It’s over there. The large white building.”

Selena looked. The white building dominated the landscape. Ah. She smiled at the guard.

“Thank you.”

Dis rien.”

They walked along the path, Selena in front, Hieronimo behind her. The rest of the Humans followed at a small distance.

“There’s this Priestess I know, she was at the Caer a while back, she’s called Lirael and she’s a singer in the Temple Choir, she’s got an amazing voice, you have to hear it, it’ll knock you over, she was in Stormwind Cathedral with the choir and we were there with Ariciel and Bannog and the Draenei, and Mira, she’s a Druid, and Lirael did a solo, and it was awesome.”

“Yeah, yeah,” said Hieronimo.

“She’ll know who we need to ask for the funeral, and it’ll be great to see her again, haven’t seen her since… forever, and she’s amazing at healing, healed Smitty of an arrow wound back at the Caer, so she can have a look at Filyen as well, just hope she’s here and not on a trip to goodness knows where with the Choir.”

Hieronimo grunted. She couldn’t quite work up the enthusiasm for Elves the way Selena could. She quietly let Selena’s words wash over her as they walked up the path to the Moon Temple. It was one of the very few buildings here that was actually made of stone. How they were able to build a stone building on, well, wood, without it sagging and cracks appearing everywhere, was beyond her. they entered the temple, and Hieronimo sneered. Oh, that was just like Elves. Build a nice stone building, and then have grass and trees inside it. Selena walked up to the first Elf she could see.

Ishnu-alah, Miss. My name is Selena of Caer Bannog. I’m looking for Priestess Lirael. Do you know where she is?”

Teacher Jandria smiled. “Yes, I do. So you are from Caer Bannog? I’ve heard that name before. Didn’t Lirael go there a while back, with her Druid friend?”

“She did. She was wonderful, helping us in the siege. Is she here?”

There was a squeal behind Selena, and someone grabbed her from behind and hugged her.

“Selena! What in the name of the Light are you doing here?”

Selena turned round, and returned Lirael’s hug, with a force that surprised even herself.

“Lirael. It’s so good to see you.”

Lirael put her hands on Selena’s shoulders. How she had changed! Her face was more serious, as if life had poured memories on it, happy and sad. The eyes were still bright and blue. Lirael noticed the small group of Humans hovering by the entrance. She grinned.

“Oo! You’ve brought that tasty Lieutenant as well. As soon as I’m done here, I’m taking you dress shopping. How’s his butt these days? Just professional interest, you understand. Long term effect of Flash Heal and all that.”

“Meh,” said Selena. “I could probably run round naked in front of him and he would just look the other way.”

Lirael studied Selena’s face again, then pulled her close, whispering in her ear.

“I’m still taking you dress shopping. Show the silly man what he’s missing.”


Breladon came rushing down the dock towards Aviana’s Wingbeat, followed by a dark-haired Druid girl. He jumped on board, almost pulling her along with him. Nægling stood on the deck, having decided to stand guard for a bit, to keep Aviana’s Wingbeat safe from whatever prowled the docks of Rut’theran Village. In this case, Night-elves.

“Good morning. Can I help you?”

The Druid girl looked at Nægling, and went ‘Ah’. So Breladon was the second Elf she knew who went in for Humans. She grinned.

“Cease your worry, cease your fear, your Cenarion Circle healer’s here,” she said, raising her hand up towards Nægling. A green glow started to show between her fingers.

Nægling’s hand shot out, and grabbed the healer girl’s arm.

“The patient is in the galley,” she said.

“She is? You’re not the patient?”

“No.”

The girl walked down to the galley. She looked over her shoulder at Nægling.

“I’ll be back for you, though.”

Breladon followed the healer into the galley, and pointed at Filyen. Freja looked up.

“A Druid?”

“Not just any Druid! This is Mira of Almadan!”

Mira folded her hands, and nodded at Freja.

“At your service. I take it this woman does want to be healed?”

“I’m sure she’ll be honoured.”

Mira nodded, and stepped over to Filyen. She produced a knife and cut away the blood-soaked bandage, a worried look on her face. Then, she held her hand over Filyen’s stomach, and concentrated. Her magic started to flow, and surrounded Filyen, who opened her eyes, looked up at the ceiling, and took a sharp breath. The wound on her stomach closed, disappeared. Filyen sighed, closed her eyes, and her head sagged down.

Breladon’s jaw dropped, and he grabbed Mira’s arm. “What’s wrong?”

Mira sneered at him. “Nothing! Poor girl is exhausted from not having a proper sleep for a week! She’s asleep now, so fermez la. Stars and stones, what do you think I did? Put her out of her misery?”

Freja laughed. “Can we move her now? I’d like my table back. Lunch is coming up.”

“I’m sure we can find a big strong dumb male to carry her to her bed.”

Breladon coughed, and gently picked Filyen up. He started to carry her to the foredeck.

“Mind her head,” said Mira.

You know where she sleeps,” said Freja, with a smirk.

Breladon, Filyen in his arms, walked sideways out of the door and disappeared fore’ard. Freja pulled out a mug, and poured tea for Mira.

“Thank you, Miss Almadan. You did a better job than I did.”

Mira took a small sip of hot tea, then shook her head. “Not so. You kept her alive. If you hadn’t, there would have been nothing that I could have done.”

“I only wish I could have done the same for that poor Human. Useless. Burns all over his body, and his shoulder turned to charcoal. It would have taken all my strength just to keep him alive.” Freja refilled her own tea mug. “So, may Elune find it in her heart to forgive me, I chose the woman I know and love, over a stranger.”

Mira leaned back in her seat. Her grey eyes carefully searched Freja’s face. “You chose wisely. Your Miss… what’s her name again?”

“Filyen. Filyen Mistgaze.”

“Filyen. She is alive. Burns are hard to heal, and even if you do, they still hurt. If you’d have tried, you would have had one dead girl, and one Human scarred for life, if he’d have been lucky enough to survive.”

“Still. I wish I could have done more. Perhaps I should have taken up training, whatever anyone said.”

Mira leaned forward, and put a hand on Freja’s arm. “The kind of wound Filyen had, I could have healed on the fly. I’ve had Warriors, run through and through with poisoned blades. More than one at a time.” She sneered. “Some with burnt legs from standing in fires. And I’m able to keep them all in fighting shape, no problem. I’ve got a thousand times the mana you have. And still.” Mira looked at her hands. “Still, I sometimes have to choose who lives, and who… doesn’t. You pick the ones most likely to win the fight, and feel sorry for the others. You did what you had to. You did well.”

“Still,” said Freja. “I feel sorry for that man. He was fighting to keep us alive. He sang the saddest, most beautiful song for us. And now he’s gone.”

“Yes,” said Mira. “It’s right to feel sad. But don’t feel guilty. You heal who you can. So why didn’t you train? I’m sure Mathrengyl Bearwalker can find some time for you.”

Freja laughed. “When I was your age, there were no female Druids. Unseemly. Women? Associating with animals? You do know what Moonkin stand for, don’t you?”

Mira giggled. “Bearwalker told me. You wouldn’t know it if you just saw them. Anyway, I’m a tree. Nothing lewd about trees.”

“Stay for dinner, and I’ll tell you a few stories about trees. But anyway, female druids were just two steps short of bestiality. Nice girls became priestesses. So the girls with a Druid calling became lousy priestesses. You don’t know how lucky you are.”

“War. For all its horrors, it does make people see the practical side of things.” Mira looked out of the door, at the bright noon sky. She saw the Human woman in the black plate armour. She looked back at Freja.

“Do you mind if I borrow your table for a while longer?”

X

“Oi you!”

Nægling looked round, at the dark-haired Night-elf. “Is something the matter?”

“Yes. You. You make my eyes water. Get into the galley and take off that armour so I can have a look at you.”

“I assure you, I don’t need healing.”

“Don’t give me that. Your face is a mess, you’ve got a busted tendon in your wrist, and you’re limping. Get over here.”

Nægling slowly walked to the galley.

“Those are quite personal remarks, Miss.”

Mira grinned. “You are arguing with a healer. Come on. I won’t do anything unless you want me to. Just let me take a look.”

“Is this one of those situations where it’s easier to submit than it is to argue?”

“You bet. Off with those clothes. You can keep your underwear on if you like.”

Nægling looked into Mira’s eyes, sighed, and started pulling at the straps of her armour. Mira stared in slack-jawed horrid fascination.

“By the Light Everlasting! What bunch of noob healers messed you up like that?”

“I would not allow them to heal me.”

“Me neither,” said Mira.

“You misunderstand, Miss. I allowed a precious tome of healing magic to be destroyed. I felt I could not call upon their services after that. So my body will heal itself, as it can. This is my penance.”

“You’re a paladin. You don’t even heal yourself?”

“That would be healing magic that I denied to others.”

“Show me your arm.”

Nægling held out her arm. Mira took her hand, and ran her fingers down Nægling’s wrist, concentrating. She shook her head.

“This won’t heal by itself,” she said.

“I do exercises,” said Nægling.

“Good. Keep doing them. They keep it from getting worse. But it won’t get better without some help. Open your mouth, please.”

Nægling opened her mouth, and Mira peered inside. A look of pity was on her face.

“I don’t even know if I can heal that. Got hit in the head by something with claws?”

“Redridge Gnolls,” said Nægling. Mira blinked.

“I know those Gnolls. They nearly got me. I was lucky a few of my friends showed up in time. I can cut your cheek and re-heal it, and that should make it look a little better, but I can’t do much about your jawbone. Your anthropomorphic memory has set it like it is now.”

“I beg your pardon?”

Mira waved a hand. “Most healing magic works because your body remembers what it looked like before it got hurt. The magic makes it grow back into that shape. But if you leave it too long, your body’s memory adjusts, and the healing magic returns it to its broken state. Your leg. Does it still hurt?”

Nægling sighed. “I can endure it.”

“Not my question. Does it hurt?”

“Yes.”

“Good. That means your leg still remembers what it was like to be whole. Which means I can heal it. In layman’s terms, if it hurts, I can heal it. The scars on your…” Mira’s eyes roamed over Nægling’s body. “Everywhere. Do they hurt?”

“Not anymore,” said Nægling.

“That means you’re stuck with them, sorry. But please.” Mira looked at Nægling. “Please let me fix your arm and your leg. If you wait too long, then you won’t ever be whole again.”

“Why would that matter to you?”

“Professional pride. Real healers don’t let their patients walk around like you. You put us to shame. Not just the ones whose spellbook you dropped, but all of us.” Mira looked into Nægling’s eyes, hand on her wounded arm. “You think you’re not bothering us, by not asking us for help. Don’t distract us from the more deserving cases. Don’t make a fuss, you had your chance, and you blew it. Am I right?”

Nægling said nothing.

“Sister, we want to help. We need to help. Seeing people walking around like you, that hurts us. We are the healers. We are the primary target in any fight, because the enemy knows that as long as we have one drop of mana left, we will not let our fighters die. In any fight, we kill their healers first.” Mira turned her eyes away for a moment. “There was one fight, where I got too far away from the metal gang, and they jumped me. I survived by healing myself faster than they could hit me, until my friends noticed and got them. I’ve never been in more pain, and I’ve never been more scared than in that fight.” Mira glared at Nægling. “And still, my friends know that they don’t even need to ask if I’ll come on the next fight. Because I would die rather than allow them to go without me. I cannot see them hurt.” Mira pointed at Nægling. “And then there’s you. You refuse to let us help you. You walk around with a sodding strap on your finger rather than let us do our job. You grind your teeth through the pain when you fight, when we only need to cast three or four regrowths on you to fix you. Buy us a mana potion if you want, and that’s it. Damn it, woman, I can’t force you to accept my heals, but I wish I could.”

Nægling said nothing, staring at the wall. Mira sat down next to her, put her arm round Nægling’s bare, scarred shoulders.

“Please. Please. Let me help you. You’ll be a better fighter, too. You can’t tell me it’s easy, fighting with only four fingers in your sword-arm and one leg that works properly.”

“Fighting wasn’t meant to be easy,” said Nægling.

“Huh. You’ve been fighting all this time without a healer behind you, haven’t you? Think you’re badass now? Let me tag along with you, and I’ll show you what badass really looks like.”

“How long do I have to decide?”

“How long before your injuries become permanent, you mean? Can’t say. Years. Months. But I’m leaving the day after tomorrow.” Mira frowned. “Stuff this. Decide. Now. You’ll still have your scars, but you will walk instead of limping, and you will grip your sword better. Yes or no?”

Nægling said nothing for a long, long moment.

“Yes,” she said, finally.


“We’ve got two people to bury,” said Selena. “Swordsman Stanley Gerald, and my uncle Berrin Rockwalker, may their souls be part of the Light. He’s a Dwarf, and I don’t know if they need something special, do you know, Hieronimo?”

“Ye can’t do a proper Dwarf burial on top of a tree,” said Hieronimo. “Ye need good deep rock for that, all the way to the middle of Azeroth.”

“Uncle Berrin?” Lirael raised an eyebrow. “Do you have Dwarves in your family?”

Selena sighed, remembering. “He was one of those people who grow into the family. He was over two hundred years old, and he taught my whole line of ancestry how to survive in the wild. Father, my brothers, my grand-father, uncle Ivar.” She stared miles away. “I still can’t really believe he’s gone now.”

“He sounds like a good man,” said Lirael. “We don’t have the proper Dwarf catacombs, that’s true. I’ll ask Shan’do Jandria. We have performed burial rituals for Humans before, so that is just a matter of finding out what faith Swordsman Gerald belonged to.”

“Church of Northshire,” said Selena.

“I forget. Do they do the Embodiment of Light?”

“No. Light’s Prayer, incense, holy water. No invocations.”

“Right. We can do that.”

“Oh, and I’m almost forgetting. We’ll need a healer. One of our crewmembers was badly hurt. Too badly hurt to move her, so we’ll need a healer on board Aviana’s Wingbeat.”

A small group of Elf women walked by at the moment Selena said that, and one of the priestesses turned round.

“Pardon me? Did you mention Aviana’s Wingbeat?”

Selena turned to the priestess.

“Yes, Lady. We arrived this morning.”

The priestess’ eyes gleamed. “I know that ship well. It is good to know that she is still afloat. Tell me, is that horrid woman still her cook?”

“Freja Ravenwing?”

“Yes.”

“She is,” said Selena. “And she is not a horrid woman by any means! She is kind, and friendly, and generous.”

The priestess laughed. “Oh my girl. I have known her since before Humans ever set foot upon Kalimdor. Before all the wars. You have not tried to make her do things that she didn’t want to do, or otherwise enraged her. When she wishes, her tongue can cut through any armour, be it made of diamond.”

“Well, she is a very good cook, and a healer, too! She healed poor Filyen when we were attacked by pirates.”

“You were attacked? Who by? The Horde?”

“No, Lady. I heard the name of Bloodsail Buccaneers.”

The priestess sneered. “As a High Priestess, I am not allowed to curse anyone. The Bloodsail are among that select group of organisations that make me resent that restriction.”

“There is no need, Lady,” said Selena, suddenly aware that Smitty was standing behind her. “By the leadership of our Lieutenant, we were able to defeat the enemy, though not without losses.”

Smitty coughed. “Lady Selena exaggerates my part in the battle, Ma’am. My men, and our friends did the most.”

“Lieutenant…”

“Smith,” said Selena. “Joseph Smith.”

“Lieutenant Smith. Is it not so that without you and your valiant warriors, Aviana’s Wingbeat would have been lost?”

“I cannot say, Ma’am. Perhaps, without us on board, Aviana’s Wingbeat would never have met the pirates at all.”

“Still, you defeated the Bloodsail, did you not?”

“By the grace of the Light, Ma’am, we did.”

“Then you have my thanks, Lieutenant. The Alliance needs men such as yourself. Though with the passing of the Lich King, dark days have passed, more darkness is yet to come, and we will be grateful for men of valour who stand by our side.” The priestess smiled. “Especially if they save the lives of one of my dearest old enemies. Amoora?”

One of the satellite priestesses bowed her head. “Yes, my Lady?”

“Could you please see to it that Lieutenant Smith is given a letter of recommendation from me?”

“Of course, my Lady. I will see to it at once.”

“Thank you.” The priestess smiled at Smitty and Selena, then continued on her way to the upper floor of the temple.

Lirael was having some trouble breathing, and her face looked a bit darker than usual. She turned to Selena.

“Do you know who that was?”

Selena shook her head. “She seemed nice enough. Bit up herself, though.”

Lirael made a very complicated noise in her throat. Then, she put her hands on Selena’s shoulders.

“That,” she said, “Was Tyrande Whisperwind. High Priestess of Elune.”


The Darnassus cemetery was lit with torches. All those who sailed on Aviana’s Wingbeat were there, Elves, Humans, and the one remaining Dwarf. Filyen leaned on Kuryon’s arm. The two coffins stood side by side on a small platform. Four priestesses, Lirael among them, stood at the four corners of the platform, North, South, East, West. The North priestess raised her hands.

“Upon the North Wind, The snow is carried, to cover the land as it lies dreaming, dreaming of Light.”

“Upon the East Wind, The sunlight is carried, which melts the snow, and awakens the lands to rejoice in the Light.”

“Upon the South Wind, The laughter of children is carried, which is the joy in the Light.”

“Upon the West Wind, The fallen leaves are carried, The memories of the Light.”

The four priestesses turned inwards, raising their hands towards Stanley Gerald’s coffin.

“In Light, be born. In Light, rejoice. In Light, be fruitful, In Light, slumber. For now and forever, Stanley Gerrald, be Part of the Light.”

The priestesses stepped towards Berrin’s coffin, and placed their hands on it. Hieronimo took a sharp breath as she heard their words, in her own mother tongue:

X

Made from the Light
Born from Stone.
Clad in Steel.
Tempered by Fire.

Stone can be crushed.
Steel can be molten.
Fire be extinguished.
But Light flows eternal.
Immortal, untouched.

Rest now, Berrin.
Until the world’s ending.

X

She stood alone, tears streaming down her cheeks, but quietly. It was still a lousy way to be sent off, high above the rock, in a wooden coffin. But to hear the words, even though they were spoken by a bunch of bovengronders… She felt a hand on her shoulder. Selena was smiling at her.

“That’ll do,” she said.


Breladon had taken Filyen back to the ship. All the others, including Lirael, had decamped to Saelienne’s Inn. The Avianauts had messed up Saelienne’s Inn by pushing three tables together, but since they bought enough drink for Saelienne to retire on, she didn’t mind too much. Hieronimo was sitting between Smitty and Selena, grumbling about the beer, but in a good-natured kind of way. Sandra Pike allowed herself to be introduced to Darnassian wines by Kuryon, under the strict understanding that he wasn’t going to get anywhere with her. Lirael sat next to Dorian Graycloud, who was unusually talkative after his fourth glass of wine.

“How long have you been on the seas, Mr. Graycloud?”

“Longer than I care to remember, Sister Lirael. I didn’t always look like this, you know? I was cured like leather by the suns over all the seas of Azeroth.”

“Oh?”

“Would you believe I could have tempted Miss Pike off young Kuryon when I was young?”

Lirael looked. Sandra Pike was holding up her glass, and graciously allowing Kuryon to refill it.

“That wouldn’t be easy.”

“Wait. Wait.” Mr. Graycloud fished in his inside pocket, and produced a wallet, from which he pulled a picture. “Here. That’s what I looked like, oh, four hundred years ago.”

Lirael looked. “Oh, very handsome. Black hair really suits you. Are you sure this picture is hundreds of years old? It hasn’t faded or creased at all!”

“Aye,” said Dorian Graycloud. “The only thing that’s fading or creasing is me.”

X

Jack Alan waved a mug of cider around. “So he thought he’d try and bowl over the drill sergeant, I mean how much trouble can a poor wee Dwarf girl give you?”

Hieronimo snorted. “Lots, ye git. Nadgers right at punching level, ye see?”

“Oh, even better. Stan thinks he’ll scare ‘er by running at ‘er, bellowing. So she don’t budge an inch, grabs his belt and lifts ‘im straight off the ground, makes him fly right over her and our Stan ends up with a face full of dirt. That taught him a bit of respect for Dwarfs.”

Brian Rhodes looked, saw his mug was empty, and waved at Saelienne for another one.

“Pity it didn’t teach him a bit more respect for bloody goat mages. Well done to that big bear for ripping his arm off. May its spirit dwell in a cool, sunny place with lots of nice fish.”

“Aye,” said Sandra Pike. “Up the Dwarves!”

“Damn right,” said Hieronimo.

“Only way for them to go,” said Jack Alan.

X

Breladon pushed a mug of steaming hot tea into Filyen’s hands and put a blanket over her. Filyen wriggled her shoulders, and blew on her tea.

“I could get used to this. It hurts a bit to start with, but this is nice.”

“Raking in the brownie points, I am.” He pushed her hammock, making it swing. “Are you sure you’re alright?”

Filyen rubbed her stomach.

“All healed up. That Druid girl was amazing.” She looked into Breladon’s eyes. “I love you. I’ve told you, haven’t I?”

“You may have mentioned it.” He ran his fingers through her hair. “Good thing you did, too. I’d never have guessed otherwise.”

Filyen put her hand on Breladon’s. “We always think we have all the time in the world. We’re not immortal, but how much of a difference is a thousand years to forever? But we don’t have all the time in the world.”

Breladon ran a finger over the dark blue tattoos on Filyen’s cheek. She took his hand, and pressed her cheek into it.

“This can all end tomorrow. The Dwarf girl shot the pirate before he could kill me. Mr. Cullan took me into the galley. Freja patched me up so that I’d live. Your Druid girl…”

“Mira of Almadan.”

“Yes. She healed me up.” A single tear rolled down Filyen’s cheek. “If any of those things hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be here.” She swallowed. “I’d be dead. At the bottom of the sea, with some cannonballs tied to my feet, or in the cemetery.”

“We’re all lucky to be alive. All of our lives are a great string of things that somehow fail to kill us. I’ve been in storms where I’ve honestly believed that it would be my last. Been sick from eating the wrong fruit off the coast of Stranglethorn. That could have ended badly.”

“I don’t mind storms,” said Filyen. “Or poisonous fruit. One is just a lot of wind, the other you can stay away from. But this Human. He wanted me dead. He wanted me to suffer so much pain that I’d beg him to kill me. Violate my body while I suffered. And…” Filyen sobbed quietly. “I would have begged him. It hurt so much.”

Breladon looked at Filyen’s face, as she stared at her feet, reading the pain on her face, the pain he was completely helpless to soothe.

“Move over,” he said.

It takes some doing to get two people to lie down next to each other in a hammock, but Filyen and Breladon had the experience. They could do it in a raging storm with the ship almost standing on its side. Filyen stopped crying, and fell asleep, with Breladon gently stroking her hair. The Night-elves had lost immortality with the Sundering of the Well of Eternity. They could live for anything between a thousand years, and, well, seconds. But for those who look for it, the time between falling asleep next to someone they love, and waking up to look into their eyes, is as close to eternity as they need.

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Comments

  • Dirk Wohlrab  On October 23, 2011 at 10:38 am

    You sir, are a freaking genius. I have been a major fan of your writing, and always enjoy reading any new ones you put up. However, I honestly do not check your site every day to see if you have updated without prior warning. Sometimes I go a whole week without checking. You are an amazing author, and I love reading your stories.
    I especially love your approach to use German and French (and Dutch???) as Dwarven and Elven (and Gnomish?). Any idea what percentage of your readers understood which famous English writer is hidden behind your “Bearshaker” alias?

    • bannog  On October 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm

      Thank you, thank you!

      I decided a while ago that the sources (OK, WoWWiki and co), didn’t have enough information on the language to put in incidental pieces of genuine Darnassian or Gnomish. Were I paid for it, then I might have constructed my own interpretation of foreign languages. Life’s too short, and I’m not as good as Tolkien. The languages are French for Darnassian, Dutch for Dwarvish, but German for Ancient Dwarvish (specially so I could quote Wagner at people), Afrikaans for Gnomish. Sometimes I drop in a few odd phrases. “Zlotnik”, I’ve pinched from User Friendly. In Tale the Second, one of the orcs asks Bannog: “Tand bundolo?” (no kill?) which comes from Mangani, the Ape-language from Tarzan.

      The target audience for my stories is my friends and guildies, and they sort of grew out of a writers’ fangroup on Usenet, so they’re book-worms the lot of them. They’ll have spotted it. I’ll also have gotten a few giggles out of them with Dorian Graycloud and his never-aging picture, which is a reference to “The picture of Dorian Gray”, by Oscar Wilde.

      I try to publish every Thursday evening, so the chapter is ready on Friday. I’ve occasionally missed Thursday, but never Friday. You could also follow Bannog on Twitter, as I have set up WordPress to tweet whenever I post here. There’s twenty-two chapters in total. Enjoy!

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