Dearest Veleda, My Heart Knew Your Face
"Dearest Veleda, my heart knew your face before ever I met you as a sister in Providence."
I reach my hand up to her face, and with the lightest touch, trace from her cheek to her chin. Not a touch of romantic love, but one substantiating the weight of what I have to tell her. A touch of brotherly love.
She looks at me with curiosity, even as she smiles in response to the touch. She looks as if ready to make a joke, but stops, reading the uncharacteristic seriousness on my face.
"I have not told the story of Mystra and myself, for I did not have the strength to reveal to you all my heart holds. Please forgive me for holding this as long as I have. I am so sorry Vel, and words cannot begin to show my shame."
With wife Mystra, and my brothers and sisters in Providence, I have conquered the Mother of the Centaurs, the Baron of Stratholme, the Leader of the Scarlet Crusade, and the General of Blackrock Spire.
Yet, through all these accomplishments, I have not had the strength to look into your eyes and tell you what I have to tell you. Please forgive me."
"Ry, truly it cannot be so bad. You and Myst are my dearest friends, and you hold so much good in your heart. What can there be from your past that I must forgive?"
She stops and looks at me, eyes searching. Finding what she was looking for in my face, her smile fades a little around the edges, and her brow furrows in concern.
"Speak, dear one," she says simply.
I cannot look her in the eye anymore. The depth and motion of the eyes of an elf have never intimidated me, but I cannot look one of my dearest friends in the eye at this moment.
"Please, come sit with me. I do not think I can stand through this."
A few days ago, I wrote Veleda a letter. Short, brief, and to the point.
VelBefore I could change my mind, I sent the letter. The path was set, and I must follow it to the end.
Please meet me at the temple of Elune in Darnassus. There is something I should have told you a long time ago. Do not bring Dae, for I do not know if she can handle the weight of what I must share with you. I will leave it to your wisdom when to share it with her.
We sit off to the side, in the grass near one of the pillars, away from the pool.
"Veleda, there is no gentle way to explain how I knew your face. Veleda, I knew your mother, growing up in QuelThalas."
I pause for a moment to let her truly hear what I have said.
She blinks, slowly. Silver eyes squeezing shut, her face at once a mix of surprise and sadness.
My mother? She asks, her voice an unsteady whisper.
"Your mother no longer dwells in this realm. She died and passed into the next. I was there when she died. Most importantly, she wanted you to know that she loved you, always."
As she hears the words, her shoulders sink, and though I can tell she is trying to bite back the tears, her eyes glitter with them. She opens her mouth to speak, but cannot.
"Lastly, Vel, please forgive me. She died saving mine and Mystras life."
I try to speak more, but can only look into the ground. I didnt realize it, concentrating on my words, but Im crying. Sobbing, harder than I ever have before. I try to continue, but cannot.
I steal a glance at Veleda, and she seems frozen in bewilderment. I know Ive hurt her, and I feel shame. I quickly stand up, turning my back to her, and walk to the wall. Reaching the wall, the anger at my own shame takes over, and I hit the wall with my ungloved fist. I feel the familiar warmth on my knuckles, and know that they are bleeding.
I feel the lightest of touch on my right shoulder. Fearing it is Veleda, I do not look. The voice I hear is not Veleda, but one as soft and commanding as moonlight.
Rynar, my dear paladin. You have carried this pain for too long. Share your heart with the child of Cenarius. Veleda is your sister in Providence, and wants to hear what you have to say, and wants to know your heart. Share with her, and you will both be stronger.
"Lady Tyrande, I cant. I just cant. Forgive me, I do not have the strength to continue, I say without turning my head. My dishonor is greater than I can bear, now."
You are right, mighty Paladin of the Light. You do not have the strength.Tyrandes voice trails off, leaving me to finish her words. I sigh, knowing the words I have spoken every day since taking the way of the Light.
But the Light has strength through me. The words sound empty, but I feel the warmth in my heart.
Tyrandes touch turns into a pull on my shoulder, as she turn me around. I resist, and with surprising strength and sudden force, she whips me around to face her. Before I can react, I feel her hugging me.
You know Rynar, for the thousands of years I have lived, I did not know the true power of a hug, until I met you.Tyrande smiles as only the Lady of Elune can, and walks off to Veleda. Tyrande touches Veleda on the shoulder, and I realize they reach an accord without speaking a single word. Tyrande then looks back to me one last time, then glides back to the pool of Elune. Veleda slowly looks up to me, and gives a half hearted smile. With that smile, she asks me to sit with her.
I walk over to her, whispering to myself "Light guide my path."
I sit down on the cool grass of the temple. I still cannot look her in the eye. To my amazement, she takes my hands in hers. Softly, she brushes her fingertips over my bloodied knuckles and, subconsciously it seems, heals them. She says nothing, only smiles and nods. Shes asking me to continue.
"Let me start from the beginning, at least as far as I know it."
The Story of the Elven WidowEdit
"I was born in QuelThalas. Well, the outskirts, really. My family owned a farm and ranch outside of the main city. There were a few human families who lived in the elven lands, for we could work the land better than any high elf. They preferred to stay focused on their studies of the arcane.The joke sounds as empty as rattling pans on the kitchen floor, but Veleda chuckles, and gives me a little smile. I look into her eyes as her laughter dances on the air, and my heart is lightened a bit. Her gaze overcomes me again, and I look to the statue of Elune, and continue:
Besides, the arcane magics can feed you, but after morning, noon, and night of conjured sweetbread, some good ole biscuits-n-gravy sounds pretty good."
We also raised the horses for all the arch-mages. My family's horses were some of the most sought after by all the rising talent. I spent many a tough days work in the stalls and working with the horses, and am grateful for every one. I also spent equal time with my mother, learning the ways of growing things in her garden.
Most of the farms and ranches surrounding ours were owned by humans, our own little niche community. But not too far from our ranch, away from the humans and far from the high elves of the city, lived an elvish widow. She kept to herself, never looking for company, and keeping to her solitude. I heard many rumors from my friends and their parents. They called her everything from a witch, to a !@!#&, to a power-mad mage lost to insanity. The favorite story was that if you broke a window, she would turn you into a rabbit.
One summer, when I was ten years old, our tomato patch would just not grow right. They were either too small, or shriveled by the time they grew large enough to eat. We tried everything, but they would not grow into anything worth putting on the table.
My mother took one of the immature tomatoes, and one that was shriveled and put it in a linen bag. She took a bit of the stalk, and placed it in there as well.
She looked at me, and with a stern motherly voice, said, 'Rynar, take this bag to the elven widow down the road. Politely ask for a moment of her time, then ask if she will tell you what is wrong with the tomatoes. You are not allowed back in the house until you have talked to her.'
I was petrified with fear. I mean, I like rabbits and all, but I didnt want to be one. Before leaving, I snuck to my room and grabbed my wooden play sword for protection. I couldnt get to my fathers swords, due to my parents wisdom in keeping sharp and pointy things locked away, so I took the best I had.
I slowly approached her house, ears perked for any signs of rabbit-curses. I heard nothing. In front of her house, I took a deep breath, walked bravely (with noodle-legs) to her front door, and knocked.
There was no answer. 'She must be out! I can go home,' I thought.
I then heard my mothers voice as clear as when she said it, 'You are not allowed back in the house until you have talked to her.'
'GREAT!' I thought. 'Shes NOT here, probably off dead or practicing her witchcraft and Im STUCK here with a bag of worthless tomatoes.'
I did the only thing left to do. I sat down on the porch and pouted as only a boy can.
While seated, and planning my life as a beggar (or rabbit-beggar), I heard the most beautiful song. Most would call it humming, but it was smooth as silk and as light as air. My heart was immediately lifted, however, there was a sadness to it all.
I know now, that I could hear her loss in her song.
I walked around to the back of the house, and saw her sitting there. She was as beautiful a creature as I had ever seen. She had the regal beauty of a tiger and the delicacy of a silver winged butterfly. Her hair flowed down her back like a creek in the woods, shimmering ever so slightly.
She was painting a picture. The strokes of her brush were slow and deliberate. I must have sat and watched her for a long time, as I noticed she would pause for long moments in between each caress of the canvass. She stopped, and placed her brush on the easel.
Her voice was as soft and commanding as her features. 'What do you want, child.'
Bewildered, I could not find my voice. She turned around and looked at me. When her eyes met mine, I fell to the ground. They were as deep as the ocean, and as bright as the sun. My heart broke the moment my eyes met hers.
I came to, and realized I had fainted. She was still seated at her easel. I slowly sat up, and for the first time noticed the picture, not the artist. It was of what looked like and elf, only her ears were different from the elves I knew, and her skin was not like mine, but a darker color, almost a purple. Her hair was green and shone with the glitter of dew covered summer grass. Again, I was overwhelmed with beauty. Around her neck, was a silver necklace. Hanging from the necklace was a silver disk. The perfection of the disks circle was amazing, and it seemed to shine with its own light through the painting.
I looked beside the mystical artist, and saw the linen bag of the tomatoes. She had taken them from me when I passed out!
'Go home child. Return tomorrow at dinner. Do not eat before you come.'
I stood, and began to run off in fear. She stopped me with her words. 'Your mother would be ashamed of your manners.'
I turned around, bowed, and managed to get something resembling 'Thank you, mam', although Im pretty sure it sounded more like thee-cue-mihm. I then turned and ran, and did not stop running until I got home.
When I told my parents what had happened, my father gave a grave look to my mother, then let out a huge guffaw of laughter!
'Well son, you better not miss dinner tomorrow. Although, I could use a new rabbit-skin hand warmer this winter...' My mother promptly slapped him, while giggling herself.
I returned the next evening. My fear and procrastination had made it a late dinner at best. I walked up to her door, and as I was about to knock, I heard weeping from within the house. I waited, unsure what to do. After a few minutes it subsided. I decided it was safe to knock, or more like it was too dangerous to wait any longer.
The elf lady opened the door, and gave me the quickest of smiles. She stood in the door, staring at me for a moment. My neck and cheeks began to get hot and grow pink from nervousness. She then laughed, and opened the door, motioning me in.
Her table was set, but with only one place. The plate was filled with the freshest of fare, all from the ground. I didnt realize how hungry I was, until I smelled the dish.
She simply gave a knowing smile, and said 'Please eat.'
Before I knew it, I was seated, and feasting with a hunger I never had before.
She did not speak while I ate, only sat there and watched me. She would smile most of the time, and occasionally let out a quietly knowing giggle.
When I cleaned the plate, I let out a sigh, and sat back in my chair. I looked around her small house, and saw paintings all about, all of the same strange elf I had seen yesterday. In some, another elf girl with blue hair of the mid-day sky was seen, but care was always taken with the emerald-haired beauty. The walls could barely be seen for all the paintings.
I looked to her, feeling my full belly, and gave her my thanks. She smiled and placed my linen bag in front of me. I picked it up, and it had one green and one blue potion in it.
'Arcane worms', she said to me.
'Im sorry? Huh?' Was all I could get out. I felt like an idiot.
She nodded kindly, and explained, 'Earthworms corrupted by the arcane magics of this area. They grow a bit too large, and do not enrich the soil as normal worms do. They have lost the balance that all creatures must reach with the earth.'
'Pour the potions Ive given to you a bit at a time all through the garden. It will cleanse the worms of the arcane infection. Once the balance is restored, your work in the earth will again be fruitful.'
My curiosity of the paintings overcame me. All the questions flooded out at once. 'Did you make all these? Mam, who is the girl with the green hair in all these paintings? Whats wrong with her ears? Why is her color not like an elf? '
She was startled, and took a deep breath. She gazed at one of the pictures, and I recognized the same look that my mother gave to me when she tucked me into bed. She quickly closed her eyes, and I saw a tear stream down her cheek. She turned from me and said, 'Rynar, I think its best you leave now. Take your bag, remember my instructions, and give them to your mother.'
As I was preparing for the sprint of fear home, she stopped me with her words again. 'Rynar, please come visit me next week. Oh, and where are your manners?'
I turned, bowed, and slowly said 'Thank you, mam. I will see come visit next week.'
She smiled, and said 'Ah! Thank you mam. I wasnt sure if thi-cue-mim was a new human farewell custom. Farewell, noble Rynar.'
When I got home, I was talking ninty-knots a minute! My mother and father gave me knowing smiles as they listened to my tale of the great feast.
My father then grinned, and asked 'So, how was the meat?'
Now, Veleda, you know I love meat. It is truly a sacrifice on my part when I give the roasted quail we find in dungeons to Jingy, Fluffy, Thalion, and all the Providence pets. Id rather eat meat than sleep at times.
There wasnt a bit of meat anywhere in the meal, and I hadnt noticed. It was as satisfying a meal as I had ever had. Her work of the earth had paid off, and she had shared it with me.
My father laughed for the rest of the night at the shock of my realization.
My mother and I used the potions the next day, and cleared out the shriveled tomatoes from the garden. The batch of small tomatoes grew to some of the best we ever had. So juicy and red, you did not even need salt for the slices.
For the rest of my childhood and as I grew to a young man, I visited her most every week. Each visit, she began to talk more, always asking me about the events of the week. My parents never seemed concerned about the visits to the mad-witch or outcast as the humans and elves referred to her.
As I began to handle my own crops on sections farm, I found the witch to be a trusted friend and great holder of knowledge. I had begged my father to try a crop of cotton, something we had never done before. According to my talks with the merchants, the cotton, when collected, would sell better than all our other crops combined. It could rival the sale of our horses.
However, everyone I had talked to had come close to losing their farms to the cotton. You see, cotton is very hard on the earth. It pulls all the nutrients out, and gives very little back. I had seen farms that were barren and overridden with insects from too many seasons of cotton. I did not want this to happen to my familys farm, just for the sake of money.
I asked my elf for her advice. 'What do I do? Cotton seems to not live in balance with the land, it takes but does not give. It leaves the land barren.'
She smiled at me, shaking her head. 'No dear Ry. Cotton does give. Do you not see that you are connected to the land? Instead of giving back to the land, the cotton gives to you, but it requires work. It takes so much because it gives so much. The problem of barren farms comes from those who do not see themselves as part of the balance. They received from the cotton, but did not give anything back to the earth.'
She stopped, and waited for me to think on this. From her, I had learned to be quiet when thinking, not letting the tongue proceed the head.
'But, how can I give back to the earth?'
She quickly spoke, as if she knew the question before it was asked, 'Peacebloom.'
'My lady, you know I love you. So it is with love I tell you, you have lost your mind. Peacebloom? Are you kidding? It has so little value, and can be made into so very little. Its practically a weed, if not for the pretty flower little girls like to collect.'
'Rynar, it may not be worth much to you, but it is not for you. You are giving back to the earth, as part of the balance. Heres what you must do: Grow your cotton, but leave a section of the land without, and grow peacebloom. Lay the crops out similar to a sundial. One season, plant cotton at all hours except one, there plant peacebloom. Once the cotton has been collected, till the stalks and peacebloom back into the earth. With your gift of peacebloom, you will be giving nutrients and sustenance back to the earth for the gift of cotton you received.'
So, I planted cotton and peacebloom. My father thought I was crazy, until he heard where the knowledge came from. I received much ridicule from my peers for my cash-crop of peacebloom.
My mother guided me against this mockery. 'Trust your heart. It tells you that she is right. Believe me, my son, when I say this lady has forgotten more about the gifts of the earth than the whole of Lordaeron has ever known. The rest of her people abandoned this same knowledge for the quest of the arcane. Youd be a fool not to trust and learn all you can from her. Our time with her may come to an end someday, possibly soon, so be a sponge to her well of knowledge.'
That ridicule continued, right up until the second year, when the strongest cotton crop of all the land was the section that had been a fools-peacebloom the year before. I had learned that I was as much a part of the land I owned as the very bounty that came from it. I was led to that knowledge by my elf-lady.
More time passed, and I continued my visits to her. Her interest was always as genuine as the Light, and her advice always solid as the rocks of Redridge. Having lost my grandparents in the first war, she was ever surrogate grandmother to me. Imparting her wisdom of many an age to my thirsty mind and heart.
Curiosity would sometimes overtake me, and I would press to learn the story behind the girl in the pictures. Most times, she would either end our visit, or redirect my interest with her cooking.
One special day, she opened up to me, as she never had in all our years of visits.
I had fallen in love with the most beautiful girl from our village. She and I had been close friends growing up. Usually, when the mayors horses were let out at night, pies stolen from the bakery, or other such mischief, Mystra and I were behind it. Our families were close friends, and we spent much time together.
As young adults, we had our separate romances, and we cried to each other many a night of the pain we endured at the hands of love. There was one constant in our lives. We were always there for each other. Always ready with a friendly ear or a comforting hug.
One evening, Mystra and I were enjoying a warm summer evening, tracing pictures with the stars in the sky. While I would find horses, swords, castles, and mystic creatures, she enjoyed finding outhouses, grog mugs, and the private parts of livestock in the lines of the sky. While laughing about at the picture of my family's chamber pots in the sky, and seeing the sparkle of light that danced in her eye as she laughed, it struck me. I had failed in love before, because I was with the wrong person. My heart had been stolen by Mystra, and I would never again have control of it.
I was afraid if I revealed my love to Mystra, that she would flee from me. As always, I visited my elf friend for her wise advice.
'My lady, I do not know what to do. Ive fallen in love with the girl Mystra. I am in pain every time I am with her, as I want to be closer to her than we are now. How can I stop my feelings for her that we can remain friends,' I asked her.
She openly laughed at me.
'Rynar, I have fought demons, controlled the magics of the arcane, sailed around our world. I have lived for many thousands of years. In all my travels, I have learned the only thing that will never be controlled is love. The fiery love and strong emotions that humans have in their short lives burns especially strong. You cannot control your love for Mystra,' she replied.
I was terrified. I quickly asked, 'Then what am I to do? I cannot lose my friend. She, you, and my family are the only ones who have always been there for me. I cannot lose her.' I began to weep with fear.
She then did something she never had before. She hugged me, held me close to her.
'Rynar, the fear you now face is greater than any a man can feel. If you were about to battle Medivh himself, you would feel but a portion of the fear you feel now. Losing a true love is the most terrible fear one can confront.'
I tried to gather my strength, to stand against my fear. It was hopeless. All I could ask was 'What do I do? I am lost without her.'
She pulled back, held me at arms length, and looked deep into my eyes. 'Rynar, she loves you as much as you love her. Kiss her, stupid.'
She then quickly turned me around, and pushed me out the door, and told me to have fun. I thought her mad, but had always trusted her advice. Her best advice was usually the advice that sounded insane.
I knew Mystra was working in the kitchen that day, preparing for that evenings meal. I ran to her house, quickly greeted her mother and father, then ran to her. She was cutting up tomatoes for her familys famous stew, using the two of the sharpest knives, one in each hand, as she always did. I came up to her, out of breath and jittery as a junebug, grabbed her by her shoulders, turned her to me, and kissed her.
She poked me in the stomach with one of her knives, then smiled at me. The poke did not break skin, just enough to remind me there was a dagger at my belly.
Then, she kissed me. She wrapped her arms around me, still holding the knives, and gave me the deepest kiss of true love. She pulled me closer to her than I had ever been. She then grinned at me with the familiar twinkle in her eye, and winked.
'Took you long enough. You staying for dinner? Cause Moms already set the table, so you'll be getting your own setting.'
Her mother yelled from their sitting room room, 'He figure it out, Myst?'
Her father then yelled from the same room, 'It took him two months to realize you love him? I don't know if we want someone that dumb in the family.'
I blinked, and asked in amazement, 'Why in Draenor am I the last one to figure this out?!?!'
Myst answered me, 'Because you are a boy. And boys are bad, and not as smart as girls.' She held me again, and kissed me.
'I'll try and remember that. Hey, so, we're pretty good at this kissing thing. Want to practice some more?' I asked, grinning.
Her mother then tapped me on the shoulder. She had quietly come in from the other room, and snuck up right behind me. 'It took you two months to figure all this out. You can wait two more hours while we finish dinner. Then maybe you two can go outside and not look at the stars together.'
We planned our wedding for the next fall. The cooler air and beautiful colors of the changing leaves had made that time of year our favorite. During the preparations, we filled out our guest list. My longest friend was of course invited. Mystra and I visited her one afternoon. She knew before we arrived why we were there.
'No Rynar. I love you as I have loved few others, and believe you will be extremely blessed in your union with Mystra. But I cannot come into the city of QuelThalas.' She stood firm in her refusal.
'But why? You are a much a part of our lives as mine and Mystras parents. You should be there to celebrate this day with us,' I argued back.
She sighed at me. 'Rynar, Mystra, my wedding present to you is this: I will answer the questions you have asked me for so long. You will then see why I cannot join you on your most special of days.'
Then Arthas and the Scourge came. Unexpected, the lands of QuelThalas were however protected by magical barriers that his ill intent could not pass. The people of QuelThalas were filled with fear at the rumor of the Scourge, but felt secure behind the barrier. It was a false hope, as the magical barrier was quickly destroyed, and QuelThalas taken. Mystra was horribly wounded when our ranch was overrun, a beam from the ceiling striking her on the back of the head. The ghouls left us for dead, waiting for us to be collected by the ghastly meat wagons. I came to, and carried Mystra to the one I knew could heal her. Hiding and moving quickly through the forest to avoid the skeletons and ghouls, we arrived at her house.
The sounds of battle had moved away, but could still be heard in the near distance. When I walked to her house, I dared not call for her, not wanting to attract unwanted notice. Still carrying the unconscious Mystra, I entered the dwelling. My friend was no where to be found. I exited out back, and to my surprise, found her painting in her garden.
'By the Light, what are you doing? Painting? The Scourge invade our land, killing all we know. This is the time to paint?' I asked as I gently laid Mystra to the ground.
'I have seen much death Rynar. In my years, I now know more of the dead than of the living. When you live as long as I have, you learn that death comes for us all. One can only choose how to face it.' She gently spoke, her soft voice a surprising disparity to the chaos around us. 'Rynar, my time has come. I will not live past this day. My time on Azeroth has given me the wisdom to know I will not live to see tomorrow.'
'Are we all to die this day, then?' I asked.
'No.' she answered, finally looking from her painting. 'You and Mystra shall live, I have one final gift to give you.' She took the finished painting from the easel, waving her hand across it, a slight wind drying the last of the paint. 'This gift, is for my Veleda. Please give it to her when you find her.'
I took the painting. In it, stood Veleda in front, eyes glowing and smile radiant. Her mothers arms were d#@!&d around her, her head to the side, smiling. Her father held the both of them in his giant arms, his face filled with laughter and joy. I rolled the canvas up quickly, looking to her.
'How will I find her? How will I escape here? I don't understand.' I questioned in my confusion.
'This war will affect all lands and all people, the likes of which have never been seen before. You will find the Night Elves, you will meet her. Together, my daughter and assumed son will do great deeds. Now, to Mystra, we must attend.'
She knelt beside Mystra, and began to sing. It was a soft and gentle song, and as I sat and listened, my soul was strengthened. As I watched, shadows appeared and fled from Mystras visage, chased by the sweet druidic song. Mystra slowly opened her eyes, and rose.
'The song of the forest lord has driven the plague from her. You are both cleansed, and now you must flee.'
The slavering sounds of ghouls began to rise, they were returning for us. I grasped her hand, 'Come with us, we can all escape together.'
She took my hand with hers, shaking her head gently, 'No Rynar, I cannot. The ghouls you now hear will take us all. My time of despair is done, it is your time now. Take Mystra go now. Know that I will always love the both of you. And know that I never stopped loving Veleda.'
She rose, still holding my hand, pulling Mystra and I to our feet. 'Go now Rynar, or my sacrifice will be too late. Go now and live.'
She began to sing again, walking back to her house. I started to walk toward her, to implore her to flee with us, but she nodded to the road. I held her one last time, and she held me, her song never ceasing. Taking Mystras hand, we fled down the road.
The ghouls appeared from the forest, running for the song of life, slobbering to devour it. A far distance away, Mystra and I stopped, finally understanding the diversion. She stood at the door to her house, waving to us as she had for years, smiling and wishing us farewell. The Scourge spotted her, and ran for her, intent on tearing beautiful form to pieces.
Her song changed, and as far as we were, we could still hear the sweet music. It turned deeper, resonating through the very ground. I stared, and was amazed to see her skin begin to turn dark, her eyes begin to glow. She grew into the form she once was, appearing as the elf on the canvas I held. Her song growing in intensity, she raised her hands in the air, and warmth of druidic power shown in them. The ghouls reached her, their claws nearly to her.
I could run no more, the sight holding my heart. She thrust her arms down, and a blast of wind knocked every ghoul from its feet. Clawing upon the ground, they tried for her again. She raised her hands again, her song shaking the very ground. Small roots of the surrounding trees began to grow from the ground, encircling her and the ghouls. The Scourge paid them no mind, intent on their kill.
She looked to me, one last time. Though a vast distance separated us, I heard her whisper in my ear, 'Farewell my friend. Live this day, and take my love to my Veleda.' Her hands shone green, and she thrust them together. The roots shot from the ground to high in the air, meeting in a dome. They grew in girth one hundred times, until they formed a cage, trapping the ghouls. Although hidden in the tangle of roots, the ground still shook with her song. In a deep finale, the song ended, and the roots sunk back, disappearing into the ground, taking all with them.
Sobbing, I took Mystras hand again, and we fled. We ran south for what seemed like days, meeting nothing but destruction and despair, all at the hands of Arthas. By the grace of the Light, we met Lady Jaina Proudmoore and her followers, about to depart for Kalimdor at the will of the Nameless Prophet. We fled Lordaeron, one of the refugees of a lost land."
My story complete, I stare at Elunes visage in the temple. I cannot bring myself to face Veleda.
Vel, I stand before you this day, because your mother gave her life for mine. I do not deserve to be here. I wish it was I that had died that day, so that you might be here with her. She yearned to your forgiveness. The only comfort I can offer is that she loved you, with all of her heart.
Turning, I take the small canvas from my vest. Opening it, I stand facing Veleda, my eyes meeting hers in anticipation of her reaction, and place the painting of her family in her hands.
She wipes the silent tears from her eyes, and takes a deep breath as she smoothes out the canvas. A soft, wistful smile plays across her face, as she traces the outline of her parents faces with a finger. She reaches up a hand to the necklace at her throat, and again, her eyes fill with tears, through them, she whispers, "Thank you."
Reverently, she sets the canvas to the side, and stands up, a little unsteadily. She takes a step towards me and quickly catches me in a hug. At the same time, her tears cannot come silently anymore and she lets out a soft sob. There we stand for some minutes as the thousands of years of pain and longing are turned to a mixture of relief and grief.
When finshed, she takes a step back and wipes the tears from her eyes, her face now more serene. That little bit of unrest, always just under the surface, finally gone from her eyes.
"Thank you Rynar, for telling me this. You have put so many questions and more longing than I could begin to express, to rest." Gently she takes my hand and squeezes. "And do not be ashamed for taking so long to tell me. I have been made stronger by my time with my brothers and sisters in Providence. I do not think I could have handled it if you had told me soon after we met."Her face a little more stern she continues, "Don't you continue to beat yourself up over surviving, either. That was her choice and, truly, a good end for one who the years weighed so heavily on. She now has peace, dear one. And without you, neither of us would know what became of the other. Besides, without your tin can of a hide," she says, softly laughing now, "There are some things I never would have survived."
"And Ry Thank you so very much for being such a dear friend to her. I can only imagine how empty her life must have been until you came to fill it. I had Daenara, and would never have made it without her She had no one for so long. Thank you for being such a good friend, and grandson to her." She stoops now, a mischevious twinkle in her eye as she gets an idea. She fishes through her packs, and comes up with a soft smile on her face, and a bouquet of dried peacebloom in her hands. Gently, she puts it in mine. "Its not much but thank you."
The Love of a MotherEdit
A few days later, through the rot and corruption of the Plaguelands, a pair of elven cats padded silently, one as white as snow, dotted with raven black, the other, raven black, striped with dove grey. They bore upon their backs two elves, one armed to the teeth and wary, the other, dressed in naught but a simple black dress, looking serene.
The one in black slid a piece of parchment from her pack, and made a study of it. According to Rys directions, the spot should be just ahead, Dae.
Daenara nodded. "Lets dismount and go it on foot then. Ill feel better being able to scout from the ground, even if this place is less populated than the rest."
The two dismounted, leaving their cats behind for the time being, and walked on ahead up a path choked with diseased growth. At the end of the path, they came to a small clearing of sorts.
Daenara scouted the area for tracks, and stood a moment, sniffing the air and listening, ever the cautious one. "It seems clear for now, Vel. You go on ahead, I will watch over you, love, and make sure youre not disturbed."
Veleda nodded, and kissed her azure haired love softly, whispering a thank you against her lips. She then straightened up and took a deep breath, steadying herself.
In the clearing was the ruin of a small house, long since given over to the decay of the land. Around it, Veleda could see what remained of what would have been carefully tended gardens and flowerbeds. She smiled, the knowledge of her mothers return to the path of her people, warm in her heart. Slowly, silently, she walked around the clearing, taking it in. Oddly, amidst the ruin and plague, this place still held a sort of serenity, a feeling of safety. She could still faintly feel her mothers presence here, feel the sadness and love that resonated in every rotted beam of the house, every overgrown flowerbed. She could almost feel her mothers small arms around her, as in the painting.
As she walked, absorbed in memories, Veleda came upon a sight that at once brought tears to her eyes and a soft smile to her face. Not too far from the house, there was a patch of briars sprouting from the ground, tightly knotted and wound about itself. Upon close inspection, the knot revealed a wonder. Inside the tangle of thorns and vines, grew a small patch of songflowers, perfect and uncorrupt a small memory of her mother. She knelt on the ground beside the briars, and for a long time just sat, silent tears dropping like crystals onto the thorns and petals below.
When she could speak, she whispered softly, a voice for her and she who lay beneath the soil only. "Thank you, mother, for sending Rynar to me He delivered your message faithfully. I had always wondered what became of you and Daddy Oh I missed you so much! I never stopped loving you either, no matter what our differences were, or how far apart." Tears began to fall again, unnoticed, as she went on as she would have, had her mother been alive and listening, filling her in on the years they had been apart.
"I followed in your footsteps, you know. She said, pulling a few flowers and a potion of purification from her pouch. With what you taught me as a child, and what Ive learned in my travels, Ive learned so much of the alchemists trade." She lay the flowers atop the briars, and poured the glowing potion over them, a small offering for her mothers spirit. "And I did, eventually become a druid; though, from what Rynar told me, it would seem somehow you already knew that would be the case." She smiled softly. "Daenara stayed beside me all these years, and she watches over me even now, as I sit in one of the more dangerous lands of this world, having steadfastly refused her suggestions of armor and weapons. Some days I'm sure she's all that keeps my heart still beating, in more ways than one." She laughed. "We love each other dearly, even when were like night and day. Oh Mother, there has been so much we have missed of each other. I am content now, to know that you have found peace... Knowing you never forgot me, that you still loved me But I miss you so much. I promise, I will visit, and tell you of my travels. Never will we be so far apart again, I promise I love you, Mother."
She stood, after a time, wiping tears from her eyes, and started back toward Daenara. As she walked she heard the rustle of feathers and the cawing of a raven as it took to the sky. She looked back to watch the bird fly off, and saw something that amazed her. Where the potion had trickled down the vines to the ground, the vines again looked healthy, and had begun to sink back into the soil. Grass began to grow in the little alcove, and there, within a world of corruption, sat a tiny little shrine to purity and the love of a mother. Veleda smiled, taking Daenara's hand to leave, a new peace and a new hope, shining brightly in her heart.