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Chapter Five: This Last Goodbye

September 17, 2008

Shadowmoon Valley

The battlefield lay shrouded in darkness.  Deadly silence hung over the place where only moments before the sounds of battle had echoed.  A traitor among their own had led them into the Legions deadly trap.  One by one her friends had fallen before her eyes.  In the end she alone had survived, protected by Micahja’s ultimate sacrifice; his death shielding her from harm and assuring that she would live to warn the others.

Kess knelt among the bodies, vacant shells of those who had been so strong, so vibrant, so full of life just moments before.  She cradled the body of Ariahna in her arms and shivered from a chill wind that swept through her very soul.  As the last light faded from her friends eyes, memories of the family she had lost years ago flooded back.  Why was she always the one left behind to carry the memories, haunted by dreams of those she had lost?  Micahja’s words came back to her, reminding her of the charge he had left her with.

“You must go back and warn the others.  You must do this or more lives will be lost and our deaths will be for nothing.  Don’t let that happen, Kess.”

Through the remainder of the long night she gathered the bodies of her friends; as the sun sent its first rays across the sky, she lit the pyre.  Kneeling beside the flames she recalled their faces, seeing them as they had been in life one last time as she said goodbye forever.

Shattrath City

Kneabiter knelt beside the bed and gently took her small hand in his.  They  had been through so much together.  Sometimes he forgot how young she was, still a child by Elven standards.   There was no use wishing fate and dealt differently with them, but still he wondered what it would have been like to have lived in a time of peace, free from the constant fear and endless goodbyes.

“I was so naive.”  Her soft voice recalled him from his thoughts.  “I believed if I devoted my life to healing I could save those I loved.  I believed I could stop death and find a way to keep them with me … I was wrong.”

She looked up at him and the haunted expression in her eyes unnerved him.

“I failed them, Knea.  So many that I loved.  They died right in front of me and I could not stop it … I could not save them.” 

Her voice broke and he gathered her in his arms, holding her close until the tears subsided and she grew still.  Slowly she pulled away and when she spoke again her voice was steady.

“I can’t stay.  Each time I lose another friend a part of me is lost with them.  It could have been you yesterday.  It could be you tomorrow.  I can’t stay and watch you die too.  I’m not strong enough.  I can’t keep saying goodbye over and over.  Please don’t try to stop me, Knea.  Let me say this last goodbye while I have the strength.  Let me go.”

Sanctum of the Stars

Teaka greeted the dawn as she so often did astride her gryphon high above the Sanctum of the Stars.  The beauty of the rising sun set against a backdrop of falling stars and rainbow tinted clouds took her breath away.  There was a wildness and freedom up here far above the troubled world that lifted her spirits and gave her strength to face the challenges of the day. 

She was surprised from her reflections by the appearance of a gryphon bearing a familiar figure. 

“Kneabiter, I’m not used to seeing you out so early.”  He drew closer and her smile faded, “Knea, what is it, what’s wrong?”

“Kess is gone.  She left alone last night.  Teaka, she has only trained as a healer, she doesn’t know how to defend herself in the wild.  She will not survive alone and unprotected.  I would leave my command and go with her myself but she will not let me.”  His voice broke and she saw how much it had cost him to let her go.  “Will you go after her, Teaka?  Watch over her, protect her, keep her safe.”

Her hearth ached for him.  She smiled gently and laid her hand on his.

“Set your mind at rest, my friend.  Since I first met Kess I have loved her as my own daughter.  As long as I live, no harm will come to her.” 

He relaxed at her words and a great weight seemed to lift from his small shoulders.  “Thank you, my friend.”

As her gryphon moved away his last words came softly carried in the wind.

“Tell her I will be here waiting for her … always.”

***Commentary on Chapter Five***

This chapter was written during the saddest period of my WoW life. 

A guild split, initiated by a trusted officer and friend, almost destroyed us.  Many of my friends left the guild and I felt their loss as keenly as I would the loss of any real life friendship.  At times I contemplated walking away from the game. Through the support of friends such as as Deadsong, Laniken, Teaka, Deakan and Maggee I came to realize the rewards of friendship are worth the risks, but it was hard to see during this time.

It has been a year and a half since those events occurred and the memories are still painful.  It is a reminder that, while the world in which we interact with one another is artificial, the relationships themselves are not.  The emotions we feel and the ways in which we influence one another are every bit as real as anything experienced in the real world.

It was around this time that I re-specced Kess shadow in a dramatic departure from her exclusively Holy experience. I fell in love with the dark side and never went back.

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