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Chapter Eight: Journey to the Past

September 17, 2008

Swamp of Sorrows

Maggee gazed out of the window watching the girl gracefully work through the moves of her morning kata.  She turned at the sound of approaching footsteps.  Seeing Deakan, she reached out a hand inviting him to join her.  She could see the lines of care etched in his face. 

Since the night Skelto brought Aleathea to them her husband had scarcely left the girl’s side.  The long torturous months of recovery had taken their toll on both patient and physician.  At times Maggee doubted recovery was even possible.  Despite the challenges, Deakan refused to give up and thanks to his skill and the girl’s determination they had proved Maggee wrong.  In time it appeared that her injuries would heal completely … all except for one. 

Sounds from the garden drew her attention back to the window.  Skelto announced his presence with a loud greeting and Aleathea, her face alight with pleasure, turned toward the sound of his voice.  He crossed to her and, after a few moments of conversation, placed her hand on his arm and led her from the garden.  She heard Deakan’s soft sigh and slipped her hand in his. 

“She has made a remarkable recovery, Deakan.  No one could have done more for her.  You have to accept that some things are beyond even your ability to heal, my love.”

He knew she was right but the knowledge did not ease the ache inside.  He had tried every treatment to no effect.  From the day she regained consciousness and through all these months she had lived in darkness. 

As a healer there was nothing more he could do for her, but as a friend there was.

Ironforge, two days later

He maneuvered his way carefully through the shadows until he reached the Hall of Mysteries.  On the far side of the Hall he recognized his destination.  He crossed the distance and knocked quickly.  The door was answered by a middle aged Dwarven female.  At the sight of him, her composed features registered shock.

“Deakan!”

Glancing around, she motioned him to enter then hastily shut the door. 

“Were you seen by the guards?”

“I don’t think so.”

She studied him curiously, “I never thought to see you here, my friend.” 

He started to speak but she stopped him with a hand on his arm.

“Time enough for explanations later.  First, make yourself comfortable while I brew some tea.”

Deakan sank gratefully into a couch and relaxed for the first time in many hours.  A creature leaped into his lap and he recognized Socks.  He rubbed the cats head with pleasure.  Catti had proudly declared Socks the best mouser in all Ironforge and had taken great pleasure in the creature.  Helliott had scoffed at Catti and taken great pleasure insulting the cat – although Deakan had observed him petting the creature when he thought no one was watching.

Deakan smiled at the memory and allowed his thoughts to wander back almost one hundred years to the day he met Catti.  It was the day he entered the Ironforge Academy of Higher Learning.  Catti, a third year student, had been the first to welcome him and had taken him under her wing that first day.  Over dinner that night, Catti introduced him to Maggee, a first year student like himself. 

The moment Deakan laid eyes on the pink haired gnome he knew he would never love another.  She led him on a merry chase, but made sure he caught her in the end.  Through all these long years she had been at his side.  This morning when he took his leave she had known where he was going.  Only the slight catch in her voice betrayed her concern.  When he looked into her eyes they were clear.

The aroma of tea leaves filled the air and Deakan recognized the Nightbloom leaf.  It was Helliott’s favorite.  Following strict instructions from his father, Deakan had looked up Helliott upon his arrival.  The other dwarf was a third year student whose family moved in the same exalted circles as Deakan’s.  His father considered Helliott a suitable companion.  Not sharing his fathers preoccupation with social status, Deakan was prepare to dislike Helliott on principle.  He was surprised to find instead a kindred spirit.  Throughout their years at the Academy the four friends were inseparable. 

Upon completion of their studies, Deakan and Maggee married and all four remained in Ironforge.  Deakan opened his own practice and soon was recognized as a physician of renown.  Catti and Maggee stayed on as instructors at the Ironforge Academy.  Helliott founded the great Bank of Ironforge.  Over the years their friendship remained steadfast and hardly a day passed when they did not enjoy one another’s company.

Socke stirred in his lap and he returned to the present to find that Catti had returned with the tea.  He took a sip and smiled at her.

“As good as I remember.  No one can make it like you, Catti.”

She flushed with pleasure.  They reminisced about old times until finally Catti set her tea aside and studied him curiously.

“Why have you come back, Deakan?”

“I need to see Helliott.”

Her expression grew sad, “He’s gone, Deakan.”

Deakan stared at her in astonishment, “Gone?  Helliott left Ironforge?  But … the bank!”

“Not long after you left he resigned from the bank.  Within a year it was gone.”

Deakan sat in stunned silence as Catti continued.

“Most people believe a falling out with his partner was responsible, but I think we both know the truth…”

Seeing his expression she broke off, “I’m sorry, Deakan.”

He smiled faintly, “It’s all right, Catti.  Do you know where he went?”

“I heard a few months ago that he joined Brothers in Arms, a group fighting the Invasion in the Outlands.  Their headquarters is in Shattrath City.  You should be able to find word of him there.”

They sat together in silence as he digested the news.  Finally, with a look of regret, he rose to go.

“I’m sorry I put you in danger by coming here, Catti.”

She smiled warmly, “I’m glad you came – and don’t worry.  The King knows better than to mess with an old woman like me.”

He grinned, “Aye, you always knew how to take care of yourself.”

They embraced and he turned to go.

“You risked much in coming here, Deakan.  I will pray the Light grants that which you seek.”

He made his way cautiously to Stormwind where he arranged for transportation to Shattrath City the next day.  Once that was settled he secured lodging at the Gilded Rose Inn.  His room was comfortable and the food as good as he remembered.  Relaxing in the familiar setting he felt his tension ease.  As night drew its shadows across the room his mind wandered back along paths long forbidden.

It was the night of the Winter Festival.  The High Seat was crowded, the throne room converted from a seat of judgment to a seat of merriment for the evening.  The musicians were in rare form; the dance floor a blur of whirling figures.  He was leading a breathless Maggee off the dance floor when Helliott caught his eye. 

Leaving Maggee and Catti in animated conversation he wove his way through the crowd toward the royal dais.  Seeing his approach, King Bronzebeard welcomed him heartily.  After some polite questions regarding the health of the royal family, Deakan launched into a discussion of his latest medical discoveries and his plans to implement them for the benefit of the population of Ironforge.  The King, always interested in plans that involved the welfare of his people, was deeply absorbed in the conversation and did not notice his youngest daughter stealing out of the room in the company of Helliott. 

Deakan and the King remained engrossed in conversation for much of the evening.  It was late by the time Deakan made his excuses and headed for home.  Outside, Helliott was waiting for him just as Deakan knew he would be.  The Dwarfs features were composed as always, but there was a sparkle in his eyes that betrayed him.  Deakan grinned, “Congratulations friend.  I told you she’d say yes.”

The next night he was awakened by a royal messenger bearing an urgent summons.  The King’s youngest daughter had fallen deathly ill.  The malady was one Deakan had seen only a few times before.  He tried every treatment he knew refusing to leave her side even to eat or sleep.  Despite his efforts the princess died three days later.  Half mad with grief, the King blamed Deakan and banished him from Ironforge on pain of death.  Consumed by guilt, he had taken refuge deep within the Swamp of Sorrows, cutting off all ties with the outside world.  He had not spoken to Helliott.  He never knew if his friend blamed him.

Deakan returned to the present to find the room in darkness.  Disquieted by his memories he rose and left the inn.  The gentle night breeze cooled his flushed skin.  The light of countless stars reflecting off the water softened the darkness and soothed his troubled spirit. 

Ten years ago he had failed a patient and the guilt had nearly destroyed him.  He would not fail again.  He would find a way to help Aleathea.  And perhaps, in lifting her darkness, he would find a way to lift his own.

***Commentary on Chapter Eight***

As mentioned in previous commentary, Deakan and Maggee are a husband and wife couple in real life.  Helliott is a friend whose wit and intelligence has been a source of entertainment and enlightenment over the two year friendship we have enjoyed.  Catti’s character is based on one of my husband’s alts.

This chapter is a departure from the norm in that it does not reflect any actual in-game events and it deals mostly with Deakan instead of one of my characters.  Perhaps because it was written as pure fiction,  not related to any real events, it was one of the most enjoyable chapters I have written.  I enjoyed imagining the world through the eyes of a character, Deakan, who is not my own.

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