A Promise and a Burden
"Sanguinia?!" Rhoneg shrieked, and then repeated for emphasis: "Sanguinia?!"
"Yes, Sanguinia" said his father. "Is this a problem?"
"Of course it's a problem, father! She's so... so..."
"So mindnumbingly vacant! Why not send me off in the company of this gourd?!"
He grabbed a gourd from a bowl that sat on the kitchen table and hurled it against the wall in disgust. Almost immediately, a broom whisked across the room to sweep the fragments off of the floor. Rhoneg's father sighed.
"You've known her your entire life, son. Why wouldn't..."
"Not by choice, father!" Rhoneg retorted mockingly. "If you and mother hadn't been so nether-bent on that, our paths would probably never have crossed."
"But she is a priestess. Her abilities could be very helpful."
"Are you insane, father?! Do you seriously expect me to put my life in that diva's hands?"
"Son, I will hear no more of this! I owe my own life to her parents, and I will not forget that. This family fulfills its obligations. You will travel with Sanguinia and keep her safe. That is the end of this discussion."
Rhoneg smiled wickedly. "Fine. Doubtless she will cost me my own life within a matter of a few hours, so that should settle your debt quite nicely. Perhaps then this family can emerge from the senseless shadow that this burden of yours has cast upon it."
He turned and stalked out of the room, leaving his father shaking his head.
I Can't Believe They're Doing This to MeEdit
"Tell me you aren't serious, Mother!"
"Now, Sanguinia, my dear, you know the rules. You must leave this house and find your way as a Priestess in the world. It's what we've always done."
Sanguinia lay on her bed, absently twirling her silken, blond hair. She pouted at her mother, "just one more year, Mother? I could help with your Social Club functions."
Her mother only sighed. "There's no use in pouting, dear. Your father has already made arrangements for you to have an escort."
Sanguinia perked up, and sat primly on her bed. I hope it's one of those paladin-apprentices. They're so manly.
"Yes," her mother said, sensing Sanguinia's excitement. "Your good friend Rhoneg has sworn to accompany you on your journey."
Sanguinia's eyes widened, and only her sense of decorum kept her jaw from hitting the floor. "You can't be serious," she whined. "Mother! He's awful! He's just a mage. So serious and dark! I won't be seen in public with him!"
Her mother crossed the room to stroke Sanguinia's hair, but thought better of it. She simply said, "Darling, you've been out in public with Rhoneg plenty of times. Besides, our families are bonded by a life-debt. There's no arguing this."
Tears glistened at the corners of her eyes. "I can't believe Daddy would do this to me," was all she said.
"Pack your bags, Sanguinia," her mother called as she left her daughter's bedroom. "You leave in the morning."
Sanguinia wiped a salty tear from her cheek. As she caught her reflection in her vanity mirror, she smiled at the effect sadness had on her complexion.
Arrival at SilvermoonEdit
Finally, Silvermoon City.
Rhoneg looked about himself at the magnificent architecture and seethed.
I'd have been here days ago had I not had to travel with so much extra baggage.
He chuckled at the thought.
Who would have thought that baggage could walk?
The days since he had been sent on his journey had been enlightening. He had not previously appreciated the situation of his people. Though their towns were beautiful, they were everywhere under siege. Their enemies were not particularly powerful, at least in these regions. But they provided a constant annoyance and as his companion was quick to point out, had horrible skin. He felt that he could empathize with the townspeople that he had met.
And where is she now? Here we are in the capital of our people, the seat of what power and influence we yet retain. Here is where we truly begin our journey, where we may begin to fulfill our potential - and what is her first impulse?
His fists clenched.
He shook his head in bewilderment and turned to ask a passing guard for directions to the trainers.
At least I finally have a bit of solitude. Let's see what the mages of the city can teach me, and then we'll see what the taverns can provide. I have a feeling I'll be a frequent patron.
Civilization, at LastEdit
Sanguinia throws up her hands and can barely stifle a girlish squeal. She is a priestess now and must act accordingly.
Finally, civilization! I can buy new shoes! Perfume! A dress for..... And her joy quickly turns to sadness, and just as quickly, her lips pull into a coy little pout. There's no room for a party dress in her travel bags. New shoes will only give her blisters. And she doesn't want to think about what horrible creatures will be lured by the scent of fine perfume. It shouldn't work that way, she observes and turns to face Rhoneg.
He has a look of wonderment on his face. Sanguinia watches him take in the majestic architecture. He looks like a tourist. He's never seen a city so vast before. True, Sanguinia has never been to Silvermoon City, but she's heard the descriptions of its wonders from her parents. And even then it bored her.
"Rhoneg," she pouts. "My feet are tired. I want to look for new shoes and ... well, things only fine women would find interesting."
She thinks perhaps he is about to cut her down with another of his attempted insults, but at the last second he forces a smile and waves goodbye. He mumbles something about meeting up later at the inn.
Once he is out of sight, Sanguinia strolls to the nearest guard. She opens up her bright eyes and even her voice is smiling when she asks for directions not to the Bazaar, but to the Priest trainer. The guard gruffly points the way and she is off. He chuckles to himself, thinking how many other young Blood Elves come to Silvermoon seeking fortune, adventure, or power. He wonders what that pretty young thing is here for, but long after she is gone, he is still pondering her smile. Did it suggest she was here for power?
A New LookEdit
Twirling around in front of the mirror in her room at the inn, Sanguinia tried to spin her newly acquired "travel clothes" in a better light.
I look horrible! Like a peasant, or a vagabond. Like Rhoneg!
She took one last look at herself in the mirror and, sighing mightily, she flopped back on the edge of her rented bed. It would be at least a quarter hour before Rhoneg came looking for her to go off on their journey again. Just thinking of him made her blood boil. It was he who insisted she wear these ridiculous rags. "They'll help you with your spells and keep you from getting yourself killed," he had shouted at her. She looked at the oversized boots she'd picked up at the auction house (what a terribly uncivilized way to do business!). They were soft and yet sturdy. Even Sanguinia had to admit they were better suited to running across the countryside than anything she had in her closet at home. But would they really help with the spellcasting....
Next to the boots was a long, slender box. Sanguinia crossed the room to pick it up. She handled it gently, lovingly caressing the intricate lid. Opening it slowly, she peered inside. Her wand! A new skill she had learned yesterday. Gruesome trolls and hypnotically beautiful mana creatures alike fell easily before it... once she mastered the art of casting with it.
How did Rhoneg know how to use his so easily? she thought as she tested the weight and balance of the wand in her hand. How could a simple, brooding boy be better at this than me?
She twirled the wand around once. Catching a glimpse of herself in the mirror, she posed with her wand raised, as if about to blast her reflection from the face of Azeroth. I look good, she smiled to herself.
An impatient knock drew her from her reverie. Rhoneg's gruff voice came muffled from behind the door, "Sanguinia! It's time to go."
She took her time pulling on her new boots and gathering up her things. She slipped the wand into her belt and exited into the hall. Rhoneg was turning the corner at the end. He hadn't bothered to wait for her like a proper gentleman would.
Some elves... she thought, shaking her head, and strolled off after him.
The Party that Never BeginsEdit
Rhoneg sat at the foot of his bed, head bent towards the ground, staring intently at the wand in his hands. A couple of days had passed since he and Sanguinia had bought them, and things had definitely been going more smoothly. It was immediately obvious to him that she had never studied the use of a wand, but he wasn't the least surprised by that. What had surprised him was the ease with which she learned to use it.
Could she actually have some aptitude for magic? The possibility, her personality aside, shouldn't have been a shock. It obviously ran in her family. Had it not, he wouldn't have been in this situation to begin with. He grinned.
I suppose I wouldn't be in any situation.
With this thought, he rose, grabbed his bags and strode out the door to meet Sanguinia outside the city gate as they had agreed the night before. As he approached the deserted location, he sighed.
It was silly to expect her to have developed a sense of punctuality as well. I should just start going straight to her room.
Rhoneg went back into the city and walked to her room. "Sanguinia! " he shouted, "time to go!" There was no reply, so he knocked on the door and shouted again. When there was still no reply, he swore and whirled around in disgust.
I can't believe she's going to make me scour this city for her. Is just a little responsibility too much to ask?
He stormed outside and began his search. He asked everyone who he saw if they had seen her. Most stared at him blankly; a few said that she sounded familiar; none could tell him where she was. After a couple of hours, his anger turned into concern. Perhaps someone had taken her. She certainly carried herself as someone who would command a handsome ransom and was anything but inconspicuous. He grew frantic, but still could not find her anywhere.
As the afternoon progressed, he was stricken with another thought.
Did she run ahead to the Ghostlands? Have I left her alone with those Undead all day?
He ran to the Bat Handler and flew to Tranquilien, but nobody there had seen her, either. He began to walk back to the city, hoping he might find her along the road somewhere. It had grown late enough that he didn't notice when he crossed back into Eversong Woods from the Ghostlands. He paused at a small bridge and stared into the river, lost in thought.
Where could she be? Where would she have gone? Think, Rhoneg!
He started, and looked up from the water.
His face flushed.
She wouldn't dare.
He began to walk up the road, trying to maintain his composure. As he walked, however, his pace quickened. Before long he was running, and within a few minutes he had arrived at Fairbreeze Village. He ran through the town and down the road to the West, grinding his teeth as he went. Before long he heard the sounds of conversation and laughter. And then, a familiar voice rose from the throng.
"Oh, thank you, I think I will have more! Thish ish sho much more fun than that gloomy inn in Shilvermoon!"
Rhoneg stopped, composed himself, and strode towards the party. Sanguinia caught his eye.
"Rhoneg! Shtop shcowling, you twit! You're always sho - baaa."
She's going to kill me for this if she remembers it in the morning.
Rhoneg walked over to the sheep that had been berating him just a few seconds before and slung it over his shoulder. "Sorry, everybody, this one has to get back to its pen."
As they walked down the road, the enchantment wore off and Sanguinia reverted to her elven form. She had already passed out, so Rhoneg carried her the rest of the way back to the inn.
Probably just as well.
Upon arriving at her room, Rhoneg set her on her bed and turned to leave. As he reached the door, he sighed, slumping his shoulders. Shaking his head, he turned around with a small smile on his face. He walked back to the bed, lifted Sanguinia from it and placed her in a nearby chair. After turning down the sheets, he laid her back in the bed and tucked her in. For a few seconds, his hands glowed with arcane energy. When the energy dissipated, there were ten skins of water on and around her nightstand. He left a short note near the skins: "Drink these tomorrow - Rho".
Having done this, Rhoneg left her in her room. As he shut the door behind him, he grinned slightly.
I suppose tomorrow's shot, as well. He sighed. She may as well not have all the fun.
Rhoneg strolled down the hall and out into the street, on his way to the nearest tavern.
Thanks, but No ThanksEdit
I can't say I didn't see this coming
They had gotten in over their heads shortly after coming to The Ghostlands. It had sounded like a simple enough task. The tradesman had had to abandon his cart just down the road a bit. It was almost visible from Tranquilien. It should only have been a matter of a few minutes to fetch his supplies.
But they hadn't counted on this perplexing new breed of scourge. Somehow, one of them had become impervious to attack. Worse still, this invulnerable undead could attack them from range and he was very eager to call his friends, if Scourge can be said to have friends, into the fray. Rhoneg quickly found himself in a hopeless situation.
Of course, I've been in a hopeless situation all along.
As the blows fell, Rhoneg staggered to the ground. The attack no longer hurt him; he had numbed to the assault long ago. As consciousness slipped away from him, a small smile worked its way across his face. Then, there was nothing.
A few moments later, Rhoneg's eyes opened.
Is this death? Can it be? Am I finally free of...
He looked up, and his hopes were crushed. There was Sanguinia, her infuriatingly delicate fingers still glowing with a light that matched her intolerably silken hair. She had somehow managed to find an even haughtier expression with which to greet Rhoneg upon his return to the world.
I am never going to live this down.
Rhoneg stood and dusted himself off. He raised his arm towards Sanguinia, flames dancing from his fingertips. A large fireball brushed by her head, singing her hair as it passed her and made its impact in the chest of one of the Scourge in the distance. Rhoneg sneered at her.
"Come on. These supplies aren't going to retrieve themselves."
Frost began to swirl around his hands as he prepared to finish their task.
Strength and BlessingEdit
Soaking wet and exhausted, Sanguinia slumps down by the fire in the inn at Tranquilien. She is sure Rhoneg thinks the water on her face is salty, but she knows it's not tears. Just fetid lake water from their latest adventures. Try as she might, the flames before her cannot warm her. They cast a sickly pallor over the already gastly faces of the undead in this place. She cannot look any longer. She bows her head and closes her eyes, dreaming of the past.
...the power of light...the power of blessing...to heal...to bring forth life...to smite down the unholy...to wield your power against creatures ten times stronger than you...you will be weak to physical might, but if your mind is strong you will always have the upper hand....
How long has it been since she chose this path? By the calendar not more than a few months. But by her internal clock, it seems an eternity. Back then it was the promise of holy light, the blessing of strength, or was it the strength of blessing? She never could remember that one. How hard could it be, she had thought then. To stand apart from the battle, channeling her strength to heal the righteous and smite the evil?
She had failed miserably today. Fumbling to remember spells, nearly getting herself killed. Actually letting Rhoneg...well...she brough him back. Did he thank her for it? But then, had he not taken the brunt of the attack who knows where they would have been? She certainly couldn't stand up to the Scourge without him.
I am useless out here on my own, she sighs and her shoulders sink lower. They had gone for more training in Silvermoon City. At the foot of the priest trainers there she had felt the power coursing through her. Each time stronger, more confident. But outside the city, where the Scourge lurk in dark corners....
You've never been afraid of anything in your life, she chides herself, pulling her cloak more tightly around her body. Opening her eyes she sees Rhoneg in the opposite corner of the inn with his back to everyone. She knows he is practicing spells. This is what I should be doing.
She straightens up, turns her back to the other guests in Tranquilien and begins to focus her strength.
But why is it, the more power I have, the weaker I feel?
A Hallmark HolidayEdit
Alone again. Naturally.
Rhoneg smiled. Sanguinia had been swept up in whatever floral madness had taken a grip of the cities and so, once again, he found himself with a list of tasks that wasn't going to get any shorter. Most days, this would have angered him, but today he didn't mind. He had something else that he wanted to do and he very much wanted to avoid being seen by Sanguinia at this task.
He walked around the outskirts of Tranquilien, holding one of the ornate bouquets that seemed to have sprung up like magic over the past few days. Taking great care to be quiet, he picked out a path that allowed him to proceed undetected by man or beast. Before long, he came to a small clearing in the woods and entered it.
However, he had not managed to esacpe detection entirely. Though he didn't realize it, he had been under the watchful eye of a young undead girl almost since he first set foot in Tranquilien. Her name was Janet Tupper. She had died a human in her early teens and was not much older now. She was precisely the sort of person who would be swept off of her feet by a dashing, mysterious elf and for all of his faults, Rhoneg was certainly both of those. She had been following him since his arrival and now she followed him into the clearing.
When she entered, she gasped and what was left of her heart leapt in her chest. There, hidden away from the oppressive shadow and haunting glow of the Ghostwoods was an explosion of flowers like she had never seen. Wreaths, vases, bouquets and arrangements overwhelmed the space with color and fragrance. She was transported almost instantly to a world she thought lost forever, and she began to dream awake.
I knew it, she thought to herself. There just had to be more to him than what I'd seen. It's surely that awful Sanguinia who brings out that terrible coldness. I hope this isn't for her. How could it be? She's wretched. But who, then? Could he know? Has he seen me? I've tried so hard to remain hidden, but maybe - just, maybe he noticed. Oh! How happy -
Her reverie was interrupted by a dull roar and a wall of heat that nearly knocked her over. When she looked up, she saw the display engulfed in flames. Rhoneg screamed triumphantly and whirled around. He saw Janet and jumped back a bit before stammering:
"Who are? Where? Did... Did you see that?! I've never created such a burst before. I suppose these were easy to ignite, though. I'll have to work up to sturdier fare now! Yes!"
His arm flailed wildly to the smoldering plants behind him. Janet was taken aback. Rhoneg had noticed her! She composed herself before replying.
"Oh, ah, yes. It was very impressive, but..."
"Well, it was so beautiful before. All the vibrance and life. But now - now it's ruined!"
Rhoneg looked at Janet and surveyed the woods around him.
"Yes," he said, "I suppose there's a lot of that going around here."
Janet reacted as if she'd been slapped, but Rhoneg didn't notice. He was already walking out of the clearing. When his footsteps had become inaudible behind her, Janet collapsed to her knees and sobbed as a gentle breeze scattered the ashes of the flowers around her.
That's the Love of PowerEdit
As Sanguinia soared above the treetops of Eversong Woods, she wondered at how easy it was to escape Rhoneg's watchful eye for the afternoon. Coughing pathetically, she pouted at him and claimed a need to get away from the dank, dark Ghostlands for some time spent in the city. Not that she was lying - it was miserable in Tranquilien and the undead brought her down. She was surprised at how willing Rhoneg was to let her out of his sight...ever since the Party That Never Ends, he'd been incredibly watchful of her.
What's he got going on in town? She mused from her perch on the back of a bat. She had seen him with a large bouquet earlier, certain that he didn't even know what a flower was! Could it possibly be for that horrible undead girl...what's her name? Janet? Sanguinia had noted with interest the way Janet follwed Rhoneg whenever they were in Tranquilien. Of course, he never noticed her, but what could you expect from such an uncultured elf...
Ah, culture! Sanguinia was in rhaphsodies as the walls of Silvermoon approaced. How nice it will be to spend time here, with the high priests and mages, with royalty from all across Azeroth. Even if I have no access to them, surely there will be some young paladins looking to spend their attentions on an attractive young priestess.... It was true a spirit of love had seemingly taken over the land. Even among the undead, if Janet was any example.
Upon landing outside the city walls, Sanguinia nearly ran to the priest trainers in the Sunfury Spire. She had promised herself no fun in the city until she mastered a few of the trickier new spells she had learned on her last visit. A few short hours later, she felt she had a command of her craft and headed away from the spire positively glowing with energy.
"Meet me in the inn this evening," Rhoneg had commanded sternly as she climbed on the back of her bat in Tranquilien.
He said to meet him here, yes, Sanguinia giggled over her third glass of wine, but he didn't say I couldn't meet anyone else, first. A crowd of young admirers surrounded her at the bar. She had her eyes on an especially handsome elf, not surprisingly training as a paladin. He was prattling on about some horrific trolls he had dealt with to save some something for someone.... His voice faded into the din of the crowded inn.
Rhoneg had just strode proudly through the veiled doors. There was an aura about him that Sanguinia couldn't place. Is it love for the undead girl? No... His face contorted into a triumphant grin. Sanguinia recognized the sense of power about him now. What has he done? she thought.
Setting her wine glass on the bar, she moved to follow him to the back of the establishment. Suddenly, a small winged goblin floated through the door behind him. Rhoneg stopped, the smile dropped from his face.
"Shoo!" he commanded. "Leave me alone! Go bother someone else."
Sanguinia had seen these little cupids pestering city-dwellers all afternoon. She caught Rhoneg's eye and dissolved in laughter. His aura of power dispelled.