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Chapter Seven: Remembering

September 17, 2008

Feralas

A fine mist moistened his face as his robe fluttered in the breeze.  From his vantage point on the bridge he had a perfect view of the sheer rock face, a majestic backdrop for the waterfall that plunged to the rocks far below.  The roar of the water drowned out all other sounds and he did not hear the charger bearing down on him until the last moment. 

Startled from his reverie he leaped out of the way just as the horse and rider thundered over the spot where he had stood an instant before. From an undignified heap on the ground he watched as the rider leaped to the ground in a fluid motion.  The sun glinting off flashing plate armor momentarily blinded him.

When his vision returned he saw the rider’s helm was gone and a cascade of golden hair swirled around her like a shower of Dreaming Glory petals.  She dropped to her knees, her green eyes filled with concern.

“Are you injured?”

At the sight of her kneeling beside him he suddenly found that he was short of breath and his voice caught in his throat.  Taking this as a bad sign she produced a healing draught and helped him to drink.  Removing her gauntlets, she expertly examined him for injuries as she spoke.

“I’m sorry, I was in such a hurry I didn’t even see you there.”

Her touch rendered him pink with embarrassment and he squirmed away, “I’m fine.”  His voice came out in an embarrassing squeak.  Clearing his voice, he attempted to salvage his dignity,  “Really, I’m not injured.  Please don’t trouble yourself.”

She hesitated, “Are you certain?”

“Yes, yes I’m fine.” He picked himself up and dusted off his robe.  “I was just about to enjoy a picnic lunch.  Would you care to join me?”

Judging from her expression he guessed she was unaccustomed to impromptu lunch invitations.

“Surely you occasionally break from terrorizing small gnomes to enjoy lunch?”  She heard the smile in his voice and the look of concern in her eyes was replaced by a  sparkle of amusement.  “Well, I suppose so.”

“Excellent!” He produced a picnic blanket from his backpack.  “I am well known in these parts for my conjured biscuits.  They are the best you’ll find for miles around.”

“She smiled wryly, “I suspect your reputation has something to do with the fact that you are the only conjurer of biscuits for miles around.”

“And you’d be right on that account.  Not many of my kind make their home here, but I value a quiet life and the beauty of this area appeals to me.” 

She looked up at the waterfall, noticing it for the first time.  “It is lovely here.  I don’t often stop to enjoy sights like this…” he caught the wistful expression that passed across her features. 

“Then, I’m afraid you’re missing out on a good deal of life, Miss.”

She turned and smiled at him.  Until this moment he had considered sunrise over this valley the most beautiful sight in the world.  Now, he wasn’t so sure.

“My name is Aleathea.”

“Mine is Romer.  Do have another biscuit.”

That day marked the beginning of a friendship unlike any he had known.  She lived worlds away from his quiet cottage nestled in the foothills of Feralas.  As a high ranking commander of the Alliance forces her days were filled with battle.  They met on rare occasions when she could slip away.  In their time together she found a brief respite from the pressures of leadership and the war that consumed her world.  Gradually he taught her to slow down and enjoy the unexpected moments of beauty and joy that presented themselves. 

As he learned about her work at the battle front he came to understand that his comfortable existence was made possible by the sacrifice of others.  In time, all the things he loved most began to lose their appeal.   His solitude became lonely rather than comforting.  The joy he once felt at the beauty of nature was replaced by sadness that she could not share it with him.   The small cottage that had felt so comfortable now felt confining.  At last the day came when he realized that all the things he loved most in life were empty without her.  On that day he left his old life behind and joined her at the battle front.  From that time on they had never been apart … until now.

Tears mingled with the water droplets on his face.  As much as the memories hurt, he welcomed them.  In this place he could still see her face, he could still hear her voice, he could still feel her presence.  In this place her essence remained.

The sound of an approaching rider stirred him from his thoughts.  From a distance the figure, clad in plate armor, appeared so similar to Aleathea that for a moment his breath caught and he felt a wild hope.  As the rider drew near he saw her dark hair and the cut of her armor marked her as a healer.  He closed his eyes against the pain and turned away.

“Romer?”  Her quiet voice broke the stillness.

“I don’t know anyone by that name.  Please, be on your way and leave me in peace.”

He hadn’t spoken with anyone since Aleathea’s death and he had no intention of starting now.

“Romer, I need to talk to you. It’s about Aleathea.”

He turned sharply, “Who are you? What do you know about her””

“My name is Avetar.  I was at Marshall’s Landing the night of the attack.” 

He caught his breath, “How can that be … no one survived.  How could you have lived and she …” he broke off as emotion shocked him.

“There were civilians at the camp that night.  After the soldiers fell she stayed and fought to give us time to escape.  I was on the last gryphon to leave.”  Tears pooled in her dark eyes and she continued, “She saved me.  She saved us all.  I thought … you should know.”

She turned to go, then hesitated and looked back.  “Your friends need you, Romer. I think Aleathea would have wanted you to go to them.”

Long after she had gone he stood motionless, remembering her words.  He knew she was right.  He had cut himself off from everyone in his pain.  He had lingered here afraid to forget.  Aleathea would not have wanted this.

In time the memories would fade.  There would come a day when he could no longer see her or hear her voice or feel her presence … but she would not be gone.  He was wrong to think that.  The essence of Aleathea was not contained in these things. 

She would not have considered her final actions heroic.  Her final moments reflected a lifetime of choices that made her the woman he loved.  Courage and compassion, that was the essence of Aleathea and it was for this she would be remembered long after her image had faded from the memory of those who had loved her.

Her fight was over, but his was not.  It was time to return and take up the battle once more.

***Commentary on Chapter Seven***

Romer was my husbands first Alliance character.  Aleathea was my first Alliance character.  The two of them shared many in-game experiences and no story about Aleathea would be complete without a look at their history and relationship.

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