Aariam was no more.
Scribbled on the first page of the book:
Thalwen and Yene Moonblade
The names continue onto the next page.
A hairbrush had been the key. Aariam had brought Menori’s favourite dress at first, the red, brown and golden one, but had quickly redacted her contribution to the scrying once she had been informed that the item may be destroyed in the process. No, that would not do; it was Menori’s favourite dress, with her favourite colours, and she would want to wear it again once she came home. It would be such a fanastic day when it happened. They would sleep side by side once more, eat breakfast together, play with the children, and train. Maybe Menori would go back to her apprenticeship at the blacksmith. Most importantly, they would finally be able to marry, binding their souls together for eternity.
The brush had been hidden in Menori’s drawer, along with her other clothes and accesories. A few strands of white hair were still lodged between the short bristles, and Anhagath quickly took a few. After pocketing some, he held the rest out for Aariam, whom looked at him in surprise. “What for?”, she asked.
“A memento”, came the answer.
She nodded and took the hair, placing it within a decorated box, which she then hid within the drawer. She thought it pointless, but did it to humour the old man. After all, Menori would be back soon, so Aariam would have no shortage of her hair.
The mage announced his plans to depart for Draenor immidiately, and that he would return as soon as he was done scrying. Aariam nodded and let him leave. She felt a strange wave of worry coming over her, which she tried to quell by thinking of her strong, loving mate. Menori wouldn’t just leave her; after all, she had promised not to. Yet, the feelings would not dissapear, but instead remained lingering inside of her. Quickly, she went over to her dining room table and began scribbling three letters; two for her Shan’do and Lieutenant, and one for her mother.
The word “Moonglade” is crossed out at the top of the page.
The ceremony will take place in the woods next to the Temple and the Bank. At the very edge of Teldrassil, with the waterfalls roaring nearby.
The wait was excruciating. Her mind was racing; but every thought she had brushed upon the one lingering question: where the hell was Anhagath?
Every distraction seemed pointless. If she were to read a book, the words on the pages turned into an indistinguishable mush, and her focus shifted to staring blankly into a wall. All food tasted bland, and even chewing it turned into a chore not worth the trouble. Exercise seemed to work for a short while, but she found herself growing fatigued much sooner than she usually would. The bath afterwards left her feeling no cleaner than when she entered.
Wine, though. Wine still tasted good.
Thank the Goddess the children were not home.
The food and drink shall be prepared by the Pandaren, a buffet of different treats and meals.
Anassortment of fine wines will be brought in from Ashenvale and Feralas.
Aariam was folding and laying clothes into the drawer as a knock on the railing alerted her. She turned towards the entrance of her house, and found Anhagath standing there. With a slight startled stutter, she spoke.
“You have news?”
“Nightborne. I have a lack of news, if anything. I could find no signs.” Anhagath spoke, inclining his head. His expression was the very definition of neutrality, showing nothing, and giving no answers.
“Y-..” Aariam began. The words dumbstruck her, staring at Anhagath as if what he said was a complex formula. “But, she’s-.. there.”
Anhagath inclined his head. “Likely. Perhaps it is best you sit, before I explain further?”
“I don’t need to sit!” Aariam raised her voice in anger, even fear. “No! I just need her!”
Anhagath grew silent, for just a beat. Perhaps he was collecting himself - or most likely, letting Aariam settle down. He continued.
“Do you wish to hear details? They may not be overly enlightening…” He trailed off, looking at Aariam.
“When is she coming back to me?!” Aariam stared back at him.
Anhagath grew silent and pushed his hood back, his jaw tight and face grim, moving in closer towards Aariam. “I cannot predict that.”
“But she is there? Alive and fighting?”
“Nightborne. Sit down… Please.”
“No!” she cried out. “I want her back! She needs to! We’re getting married, and-” She stops, desperately trying to find the words to continue, but is left void, empty. Anhagath sighed softly, and continued, softly.
“I scried for her on Draenor. I scried on Azeroth. The strands of magic lead nowhere. She is unreachable. You recall what this means?”
Aariam looked at Anhagath, her silver eyes glittering with tears. The emotion in them seemed to have died out, blankly staring at Anhagath in silence. She knew exactly what it meant.
Anhagath continued, “It means that she is gone, or it means she is unreachable. I will try again in some time, but…” He trailed off, and Aariam turned away from him, taking slow steps towards the cupboard. Each stride is heavy, and like a woman possessed, she reached the cupboard.
She walked into the house, watching Menori standing by the little kitchen. It wasn’t much, but it had worked out well for them. The cupboard had all the supplies they needed, and on top of it sat a little hob, where they could do most of their cooking. She walked up behind her beloved and wrapped her arms around her waist, burying her face into the bright white hair. Menori gave out a giggle.
Aariam smiled and escaped the hair, instead resting her head on Menori’s shoulder, peering at the bubbling pots.
“What’s for dinner, my love?”
Anhagath watched as Aariam stood in front of the cupboard. It seemed cleaned, almost unused. There were no skillets or pots on the hob, nor any piles of dishes waiting to be cleaned. It was dead silent for a while, The news were still sinking in, and so far, Aariam had remained as composed as one would expect of someone in her position.
An unnatural shriek of pain filled the room as Aariam arced her head back and emptied her lungs. Her hands shot forward and grabbed the heavy cupboard, tilting it foward until it fell forward, crashing into the floor. Pots of floor were smashed, surrounding the scene in a white mist, and small buns of bread managed to escape before the cupboard fell. Cooking utensils, tea kettles, the well-used hob; everything inside and out tumbled around and fell on the floor in Aariam’s rage. Anhagath simply watched, letting Aariam wreak havoc for a moment. His trusty elemental, Singe, watched on from the corners of the room, staring in fear.
“No! NO! NO!” Aariam screams as she continues on her rampage. She found a jug of water which she grabbed and promptly threw against the nearest wall, a cavalcade of porcelain and water spraying out from the impact.
Anhagath, speaking softly, tried to intevene, “A suggestion was offered to me.”
It was not enough. Aariam did not listen, and was lost in her mindless grief. She found her scabbard, and with one decisive pull, freed her moonblade from its confines. The blue-shimmering sword was the sign that she was part of Menori’s family. It was an ardous process to be accepted into the family for an outsider, but Aariam had done it. She never thought that she would, as Menori’s father was part of the family’s council, and thus had a say in who could and could not join.
Even Menori’s father had budged eventually. Still furious with Aariam for stopping his desire for more grandchildren, one factor still weighed more heavily than the continuation of the family. The day before Menori and Aariam headed out to Draenor, the sword arrived with a letter. Aariam’s acceptance into the family rested on one single point, one destiny: no Moonblade should die alone.
The sword cut into the posts of her bed once, twice, thrice. Her eyes still ran with tears, and every hit was followed with a cry of loss, a scream of hopelessness. Anhagath simply watched, letting her be. The girl needed to vent, and until she harmed herself, he would remain an observer. His eyes darted outside once and again, making sure that noone else was coming to interfere, either.
“NO! NO!!!” Aariam lifted her blade above her head, and sent it straight into the footrest, lodging it in the finely carved wood. “You said you wouldn’t leave me! Ever!”
Anhagath bowed his head and folded his arms as Aariam went quiet. The woman simply stared at the bed as the tears continued to roll, leaving her cheeks shimmering.
“You’re supposed to be there and-..” She began, her voice weak and broken. “Cook me breakfast and-- we’re gonna get married soon and we’ll visit Colien.”
She rambled on, whilst Anhagath watched her. He did not interrupt, nor did he seem awkward or uncomfortable. He seemed to simply be waiting. Aariam pulled the sword out of the bedrest and fell to her knees, still staring at the bed.,
Anhagath stepped forward with hesitation, asking her, “Would you prefer that I kept my distance?” He paused, awaiting her reply. Aariam still sat in her spot, barely even realizing that she was being spoken to. Her breathing shifted as the panic sat in, short and strained huffs escaping her mouth as she continued.
“It’s not true, I can’t-- it’s not--” Aariam tried to speak between the breaths with much difficulty, before Anhagath stepped forward and very carefully placed a hand on her shoulder. “I can’t-- I can’t-- breathe, please, Menori-- my saber. My fluffy, white--”
“Breathe, Nightborne. In, hold, count to three, release, please.” He said lowly, still gripping her shoulder. Aariam listened and nodded. She drew breath, held it, and then trembled. Her entire frame shivered as she sobbed, more tears began flowing from her eyes. Anhagath tightened the grip on her shoulder, holding her firmly, even a little bit tightly. “Breathe, and take the time that you need”.
“It’s a nightmare--” Aariam said, quietly between the somewhat collected breaths. “I just need to wake up. And when I wake up, she will be there with pancakes, and--”
Aariam’s breathing quickened once more, the panic once again settling in. Anhagath exhaled in sadness, and continued to hold Aariam’s shoulder. He hushed her, trying to keep her calm. He lifted his hand from her shoulder, and began to stroke her hair like one would a cat, trying to comfort her.
“Right?” Aariam spoke, questioningly. “It’s a dream, right?”
Anhagath replied, in a low voice, “I do not think that Moonblade would wish you to break. You are awake; you have time to grieve, but please…” He stopped for a second. “Do not break.”
“N-- no,” Aariam shook her head lightly. “She wouldn’t leave me. It-- it’s all a prank. She will be back soon and-- I will buy more wines for her collection, and--”
“Nightborne”, Anhagath replied, still keeping his voice low. “It is not a prank.”
“We can go to the village!” Aariam continued, a few of the words stuttered. “We can train with the guards, and have fun at the inn, and--”
“Nightborne,” Anhagath intervened. “What if she is here, watching? This would break her heart. She would not wish you to fall apart so.”
“She is--” Aariam waited before continuing. “Up there?”
“She is somewhere. Our spirits do not simply fade into nothing, even if she has passed.”
Aariam swallowed audibly upon hearing that, knowing now what she must do. Her hand trailed downwards towards her thigh, finding the small sheath of throwing knives. Sneaking her hand around one of the hilts, she pulled one of them out, gripping it tightly. She was now breathing more stable. It was not over, she would see Menori again. Anhagath kept on stroking her hair, remaining quiet.
“I’ll be there soon.” Aariam took the knife forward, edge pointing inwards. In the blink of an eye, she thrust the knife towards her, trying to jab it through her stomach. Anhagath reacted like a saber in the woods, swiftly grabbing the wrist of Aariam, and twisted it until she dropped the knife. She cried out in pain as the wrist turned to its limits, close to simply snapping. Anhagath continued holding her in that state as he stood, pulling her up to her feet with him. The broken Keeper fastened her eyes at Anhagath with helplessness and desperation.
“I do not think it fair that you repay an arcanist’s favour with placing your death on his conscience, hmm?” Anhagath stared at her sternly, his voice low and dark. “You have children to care for. Who will tell them that not one, but both of their mothers are gone?”
“I want her-- I want her so badly.” Aariam continued staring, her eyes on Anhagath. “I just want to talk to her once more, hear her voice-- Please let me see her…” A brief silence ensued.
“I was told,” Anhagath continued, “that if you can narrow down where she was deployed, you may try to contact her spirit through a shaman’s aid. You cannot do that dead.”. Anhagath spoke almost with a snarl, grim and severe.
“I am going, I need to--”. She trailed off, not finishing the sentence.
“If you so wish, then you may, though I recommend taking a night to rest. If you go, I will accompany you. You are in no fit state to be alone.”
“I can’t sleep-- I can’t ever sleep again.”
“I am relatively certain that you will sleep again. But I do not think you are of clear enough mind to take on travel right now.”
The room had gone quiet, at least for a bit. The worst of the worst seemed to have passed, but still, Aariam was held tightly and painfully by the wrist by Anhagath, No chances were being taken with her, not now. The silence was finally broken when Aariam spoke once more, her voice weak.
“I-- I want my Menori.”
Anhagath replied, saddened and quiet, “I know.”
“I just want her back.”
“I know.” He relaxed the grip on Aariam’s wrist slightly, but did not let her go completely.
“Please-- please let me have her back.”
“Do you wish to pray with me?” Anhagath intervened, perhaps trying to get her to calm down further. “We can go to a moonwell, or to the Temple… Or pray here. Elune should hear your prayers, not I.”
“I want to go to Menori.”
“Do you mean this literally?” Anhagath asked, and Aariam goes quiet for a moment.
“I--” She stopped.
Anhagath sighed, and - still holding Aariam’s wrist lightly - went to place his other hand on her shoulder, his face contorting into slight pity, if only for a brief moment. “You ought to rest.”
“Will-- Menori be there?” Aariam asked, carefully.
“I do not know your dreams.” Anhagath gently replied.
“I--” Aariam began, her eyes filling up with tears once more. “I do not want her in my dreams. I want her here.”
“I know.” He let his eyes remain on Aariam, pausing. “Perhaps we can ask a druid for something to help you sleep?”
Aariam mouthed a quiet “okay” with a nod.
“Come…” He continued, speaking softly and gently, as if speaking to a child. “Do you want to walk with me? We can talk to the druids, hm?”
Aariam nodded once more, and then simply fell into Anhagath, wrapping her arms around him tightly. Her face buried in his chest, she began to sob and cry once more. Anhagath allowed her, and in turn embraced her tightly and reasurringly, not speaking, holding her like a father would hold a distraught daughter. He let out a few hushes, perhaps not to silence her, but to reassure her to the best of his ability. A question arose in his mind, and he asked it carefully.
“Where are your children?”
“With mommy-- in the temple.” Aariam sniffled, her face still buried against Anhagath.
“Should I ensure that they’re taken care of overnight, and tomorrow? They ought not to see you like this.”
Aariam nodded, and mouthed another “okay”.
Silence grew over them once more. Aariam still clung to Anhagath for dear life, and he held her tightly in return. The only sounds coming from the pair were Aariam’s sobs and cries, which soon died down, and were replaced with Aariam’s low mumbles, muffled words about her Menori.