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I just want to say something.

I struggled with this story for days. For days I've been looking for some sort of inspiration to get me to write again, as the idea of losing practice disturbs me.

Thank you, OP, for this topic. All these stories are marvelously written. I finally managed to write mine, after struggling for hours to even think of a good opening line.


Severing

-by Silverdawn


How is she doing, Elaine?

Silver stirred beneath her blankets. The dull pain at her side coaxed her awake, but she resisted.

It's complicated. The wound is serious, and stubborn. We found her at Sofera's Naze, after the battle, beside a whole mess of Scourge bodies.

Her senses began to manifest, and soon after, her sentience. Now pulled from her dreamless rest, the world around her began to reveal itself detail by detail. Her room was warm, thick with a smoky scent, and she felt blankets around her, wrapped tightly like a shroud. Voices swam back and forth between the reality of her senses, and some ethereal, formless mass housing her memories. A man, a woman, someone named Elaine? They were talking about her.

And suddenly, she felt the pain.

Silver's eyes opened in sudden reflex. She sat up, gripped her side and let out a tortured cry, with what felt like five blades plunged into her ribs, the wound vitriolic and aflame. She writhed, crying out once more in a sobbing voice, and gloved hands grasped her shoulders, struggling to lay her down.

She's come to, Elaine! Take care of this!

I will! Go on ahead. The other patients need you.

She felt the fingers run through her platinum locks, messily kept, and another two bring a small glass vial to her lips. The drink was cold and dry, a starchy liquid settling in her throat. It numbed her, dulled her pain, sank her into the bed and cooled her scorched senses. She finally began to stop trembling, whispering to herself.

Elune, what have you done to me? What have I done to me?

Some moments later, when the heaved panting calmed, the young paladin found herself laying in a cot, white sheets wrapped about her. Locks of silver hair clung to her neck and forehead in her sweat, as did her plain linen clothes. Tight bandages wrapped five times around her ribs, already soaked through with a dark red stain. Her vision cleared, revealing a young, brown-haired woman in gray robes at the foot of her bed. She had white gloves, and beside her, a small box of various vials. The edges of her sleeves were trimmed with blood, and her cheek and neck smeared with it. Her eyebrows frowned in concern, as she leaned forward, speaking slowly.

You are Silverdawn, in service of the Third Hillsbrad Voluntary Cavalry. How are you feeling?

Silver lifted her back with a pained sigh, sitting up somewhat and reclining against the wall. A quick glance about revealed she was now alone with this woman, in a small room at Southshore city hall. Most of the paraphernalia had been cleared out. This is an infirmary. A makeshift one? I'm...

I'm alive, she responded, forcing a small smile.

The woman smiled in return, just as forced. Her fingers messed and worked with a few small glass vials, filled with a dark, opaque liquid. You've been out for a day, miss Silverdawn. We found you deeply wounded, at Sofera's Naze. The woman's brown eyes regarded the paladin's own. My name is Elaine. I'm a volunteer nurse.

Sofera's Naze. Of course. I remember now. Silver closed her eyes, memorizes flashing beneath her eyelids. They were harsh and sudden, baring their fangs towards her from the depths of her psyche. She shuddered, recalling everything. The Scourge had broken loose from the Plaguelands, and like starved beasts, they lunged their maws at Hillsbrad. But they were not beasts, in that beasts were, despite all their fury and predatory drive, a creation of nature. No, the Scourge were something different. They feasted on the blood of nature. They were the carnivores of the carnivores.

Voluntary Cavalry? She recalled again. The paladin and a hundred others rode out to the mob of undead, crashing blade-first into their torn and disfigured bodies. She had rode too far, left her company behind, and found herself enveloped by the enemy. The diseased eyes of a fallen knight echoed in her memories, and she smelled the stench of his decay from behind his iron helm, the dull flash of his iron sword as he brought it down upon her.

Silver rolled her gaze to Elaine. Is the battle over? What happened?

Elaine leaned forward. She was warm, her touch comforting, fingers dr.aping over the bandages covering Silver's side.

You rode too far. You tried to stop their advance at Sofera's Naze. They surrounded you, and you fought hard. Reinforcements arrived from Dun Algaz, and the Scourge advance was halted, but...

Silver frowned, peering closer. But?

So many fell. Elaine smiled weakly, as if housing her tenderness between the curve of her lips. So many fell to stop their advance. I found you, at Sofera's Naze. Your spear was broken inside the body of one of their warlords. But you're wounded. Elaine's eyes narrowed.

It's a very complicated wound, but I can heal you. I just need you to remain in bed, conserve your energy. Alright?

Silver remained silent, gazing to her left. How many fell? How many more? Elune, why am I here? I should have slept at Sofera's Naze, rather than struggle here.

Alright? Elaine repeated herself.

Alright.

She sighed in relief. The nurse's hands unrolled a strip of gauze, applying a tonic to it. How old are you, Silverdawn.

Twenty five. Her eyes began to close. She was tired.

Do you have any family?

No.

Is there someone I should notify? Someone who you'd like to see? Elaine's tone was tender. Very tender. Silverdawn began to feel tears gather at the base of her eyes.

No.

No one at all?

The paladin lifted her head, offering Elaine a small, weak smile. I'd like to rest.


Night fell on Southshore in blankets of silken rainclouds. Silver could hear the whisper of rainfall against the roof, and the slow churn of the sea to her east. Her sleep was troubled, and she would often swim in and out of consciousness. Sometimes, the pain at her side shot up, waking her suddenly. Elaine would rush to her side, the same worried look in her brown eyes, and press her hand to the wound, soaking the blood in new gauze. Elaine did not sleep, but only sat at the foot of the bed through the night, while the paladin still dipped between sleep and conscious pain, with only moments of drugged peace.

Hours later, Silverdawn's understanding of time escaped her. She woke again, to the sound of thunder. The same searing, deep pain bit and gnawed at her veins, sending her into another fit of agony. Elaine hurried forward, held her back, soothing her as she nursed her wound. It lasted longer, too long, she took too long to apply the gauze. In her stunned delirium, Silver watched Elaine struggle to open another pack of bandages.

Then she felt cold. Very cold.

Elaine...

The nurse rushed to her, putting the gauze down. Silver, please. Don't say anything. I can heal you, just try and relax.

Silver shook her head adamantly. Her chest rose and fell in labored breath, cold sweat at her forehead, her green eyes watery. Her hands gripped onto Elaine's and she remained very still, locked against the sheets, weakly struggling. When she spoke, her words were wrapped in an endless series of breaths. Seeing this, the young nurse broke into sobs, eyes all red from the sleepless night.

I'd like to sleep. Please let me. Please?


Elaine felt the young woman grasp her hand, rigid and tight until it finally grew relaxed and fell limply to her chest. Green eyes met a shadowed embrace as she closed her eyelids shut. Outside, rain fell hard on Southshore, all through the morning.

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