The End

-by Cogitatus

An orc and a tauren, both dressed in their shamanistic garb, walked clamly through the streets of Lordaeron. Banners fluttered in the breeze above the streets; the symbol on the banners consisted of the old Horde horseshoe with an anvil within and an eagle with spread wings perched atop.

The pair came to a shop, the sign above the doorway read "Chronicle Mageworks and Engineering Shop". Stepping inside, they saw a young woman with black waist-length hair behind the counter with her back to them. "I'm sorry, but the shop isn't open for...." she began to say tensely as she put down some tools and turned around. She jumped slightly in surprise at the pair who just came in. "Oh, Master Tallima, Master Ruarc, I'm sorry, I didn't know it was you."

"We understand, child. Where is your granduncle?" asked Tallima.

"He's upstairs. Grandfather is with him. Can you... can you do anything for him?" she asked, a pleading expression on her face as she slowly walked out from behind the counter.

Tallima sighed softly, then said "Everyone has their time, child. All you can do is be glad he sleeps with family."

"I know, but...." She immediately burst into sobs. Tallima slowly walked over to her and gently placed a hand on her shoulder. As quick as lightning, she was hugging the tauren tight and sobbing into his robes. Tallima looked back at Ruarc, then nodded towards the stairs.

Ruarc returned the nod, and quietly went up the stairs and navigated the hallway to a large bedroom.


So hard, so hard to breathe....

"I know, James, I'm still here. Just relax."

I looked up at the man by my left side with puzzlement. "I...." I swallowed, with pain in my throat. "I... said that... aloud?" He nodded. I exhaled softly in what I hoped sounded like an "Ah." I tried to breath, but it was so hard, and my throat hurt. "Waah... ter...." I could barely get out.

I could sense a flow of the arcane as Morandy made water float out of the glass on the bedside table to my mouth. It came slowly as I carefully drank. Well, not so much drank as opened my mouth to let it flow into my parched throat. When I had had my fill, I raised my right hand weakly, and the remaining water floated away back into the glass. "Curious.... How many... here?"

"About a dozen, JC," I could hear Jarrabeans voice reply. "...and Ruarc just arrived." I turned my head to my right and smiled weakly up at the orc by the foot of my bed. "Ah... good.... Hi." Ruarc looked up at the man on my left questioningly. I chuckled silently, and half-whispered to the man "Tell him... straight... Galarith."

Galarith sighed, then said to Ruarc "His mind is still sharp, thank the Light, but his body is deteriorating. He's asked not to be resurrected again."

I smiled at Ruarc ruefully. "I think it's time."

Ruarc nodded as he looked at me. "Peace, friend. We saw Rachel downstairs. She seemed to be tinkering with something."

I sighed and spoke slowly "Music... box. I... asked her... to build...." I let the sentence trail off as my breathing became labored again. After a moment, I soke again. "Poor child.... It was... tearing her apart... to see... me...." Ruarc nodded. "How goes... the war?"

Ruarc sighed. "Must you concern yourself with such things, friend?"

"I want to know..." I said with strength that surprised everyone in the room. Soon, though, my voice dropped back to a hoarse whisper. "...what kind of world... I'm leaving... our children."

The old orc nodded solemnly. "The Gurubashi have pushed the Unification back to the border of Duskwood; they now hold all of Stranglethorn. Adrian Wrynn has had to relocate to Darkshire and command the campaign from there. We have had better luck in Kalimdor; Arthas Proudmoore's forces have pushed the Qiraji out of Tanaris and back into Un'Goro.

"Still, it is a better world now than before."

"True... true...." I whispered.

After a few moments, Tallima and Rachel came in, the old taurens arm around the young womans shoulders, the woman holding a device in her hands. "Uncle James? I made it. I worked as quickly as I could." She rushed from the Tauren to my bedside and placed the box on the table next to the glass of water.

I smiled up at the young woman. "Thank you... Rachel. Would you... sing...?"

She gave me a smile that somehow mixed both joy and sorrow. "Of course, Uncle." She started the music box, then sat down gently on the bed and held my hand. The music box played a calming, soothing tune. Soon, Rachel began singing softly with the music and I silently moved my lips, mouthing the lyrics. It was comforting listening to the music, my grandniece holding my hand. The music and Rachel gradually got quieter and quieter, but I paid this no heed as I could imagine the music and her voice quite clearly; it was a song I sang with her many times, before, as she grew up.

After the song was over, I felt very sleepy, and I could her her voice as though it was very distant, like she was on land and I was trying to hear her from a departing boat. "Uncle? Uncle? UNCLE!"

She's crying. Why is she crying? Well, no matter, I'm here and... it'll be... okay. I'll... make things... better. I just... have... to... think about... it... for a moment.... It will... be... okay....

It... will... be....

(( Now my apologies to Ruarc for taking liberties with his character. I'm assuming that he's generally the peaceful sort; I tried to keep his dialog relatively short so as not to make too many assumptions. ))

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