The End

-by Bronil

(( Great thread! Here goes my attempt. . . I really did try to make it short. Honest! ))

A fel wind washed over Auberdine, sending a dread chill down the spines of those who were receptive to it. The citizens turned their heads towards the source of the wind. A large tree-island in the distance; the unblessed tree known as Teldrassil.

Two forms danced on a high branch. One carried by wings lashed out with a jagged sword, and a large clawed hand. The other form surrounded himself in deadly orange arcs made by the two blades he carried. Below them was a watery grave for anyone who fell from the branch the size of a river bridge.

The large demon spoke in a raspy voice as it fought on, "Long have you hunted us, night elf. But now you are the hunted, and you will see all you hold dear burn before you. Hell will become your new home, and the demons you've slain shall keep you company. Death will be a blessing."

Narrowed golden eyes met the demon's gaze. Bronil would not justify the demon's threat with an answer. Not an answer in words anyway.

A familiar roar was heard, and the demon sank to one knee as Kodrak tore into the monster's leg, crippling it severely. The demon turned to combat the huge bear, but his arms would not and could not touch the beast. His entire body felt like fire, and refused to move despite his efforts. Not wasting any time, Bronil pulled his enchanted blades out of the demon and finished what was left.

"Save your threats for when your opponent is lying on the ground." with a kick, Bronil sent the demon falling to its death. Another monster put back where it belonged.

His blue hair had turned silver since that fight on the branch those many years ago. Although he had defeated the demon, it had turned out the demon had infected him with a magical disease; a disease with no cure that would eventually kill him. He had slowed the disease's progress with force of will, and the healing magics of the Temple of the Moon, but he knew that it would eventually come to this. So accustomed to the immortality they once knew, many kaldorei met death with fear and anger. In Bronil, there was only serenity. Perhaps it was because he was so young (by kaldorei standards) when Malfurion made that sacrifice upon Mount Hyjal. Or perhaps it was because he had no regrets, and took note of the highlights of his life.

News of his ailment had spread, and he was surprised at how many came to offer their sympathies. Certainly Tyron, Celesst, their two daughters, and Kodrak would mourn his loss. But he had not expected so many of the friends he had made over the years to come see him in his final hour. To a passerby, his strangest visitor was a young human of about 19 years of age. A human that called him 'father'.

Aaryn was very young when he first met Bronil. The Horde did not completely destroy Stormwind on that fateful day, but the surrounding areas felt the full might of the Horde. Skirmishes between private armies of the Alliance and Horde had escalated to unofficial war. Bronil originally sailed out of Kalimdor to help keep whatever peace was left, but all he found was an army ready to lay waste to Stormwind. During that campaign, he came across a small boy who had lost his family to the attacks in Elwynn Forest. At first, Bronil put Aaryn in the Stormwind orphanage when the Horde had finally been turned back. Aaryn, however, refused to let Bronil leave without him. Taking pity on the boy, Bronil took him back to Kalimdor and raised him as his own.

"I'll kill them for what they've done to you. . ." Aaryn said with a clenched fist, standing at Bronil's bedside.

Placing his hand on Aaryn's arm, Bronil spoke, "You mustn't follow that path, Aaryn. I've taught you better than that."

"But how--"

"You have many years ahead of you; don't let them waste away in blood and hatred. There is nothing you or I can do anymore. A true hunter--"

"Places the needs of others before his own needs. He kills only when it serves the greater good, and does not kill for sport or personal gain. His bow defends the helpless, and his vigilance gives them shelter." Aaryn said, finishing the creed Bronil had taught him.

Bronil smiled, "I see there is no need to lecture you any longer."

Aaryn looked to the ground, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have--"

"You have nothing to apologize for, son. In the end, your path is your own to walk. I can offer guidance, but the choices are yours to make."

Aaryn nodded, "I understand. Still, I will never forgive them."

"Remember, nothing is set in stone. This disease will try to take me, but by no means do I intend to give it an easy time, and by no means is my fate sealed. There is always hope, and this life is not the end of our journeys. It is the beginning."

"How can you be so sure?"

"Something inside tells me this is not the end, and I have never known my instincts to lead me astray."

Soon after, Aaryn left Teldrassil and Kalimdor. He did not see eye to eye with his father on everything, but he agreed that everyone must walk their own path. His path had led him back home, his first home, and into the Stormwind Magistrate Office.

Looking up from his paperwork, a Magistrate glanced up at Aaryn from behind a pair of reading glasses, "What's your business here, lad?"

"Your defense force has need of scouts?"

"Great need. Do you think --" the Magistrate paused as a wolf entered the office behind Aaryn, "What in the Light is *that* doing in here?!"

"Stay." Aaryn said aloud, and the wolf laid down at Aaryn's feet, scratching it's ear. He turned back to the Magistrate, "This is Fang. He will be accompanying me and will not harm you unless you give him reason to."

The Magistrate glared hard at Aaryn, "Fine. I'll sign you up. What's your name?"

Responding proudly, he answered the question, "Aaryn. Aaryn Nightwind."

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