Virgin White [non-WoW fantasy]

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Virgin White [non-WoW fantasy]

Postby Kaldur on Sun Oct 20, 2013 10:32 pm

This isn't actually a new story! It's an old story I have elsewhere on the forum that I've modified, updated, polished, shined, and trimmed; then changed the main character for a non-WoW audience. But I do think it is far better than the original.

Summary: An aged warrior tells the tale of the day he learnt about the realities of war.

Virgin White

The campfire burns; flames rising like a chorus of hands to push back the cold and dark of night. Into the light a figure appears with a bundle of firewood under one arm. The figure sets the dry wood down, before lowering himself on to the compacted ground, then inching his arthritic hands out towards the fires warm embrace. The fire gives him comfort, confirmed by the sigh that escapes his lips in a billowing cloud. Every year that Avery makes this pilgrimage he finds it harder; the snow weighing heavier on his boots, and his joints stiffening more readily to the cold. The mountain range of the north is an inhospitable place and certainly not an easy destination for a man of his age. Summer temperatures barely rise above freezing in the mountains, so now in October the first snows are falling before last years have had a chance to thaw. On nights like this the temperature plunges further once the sun goes down so even the hardiest of beasts, in their coats of thick full fur, do not hunt or forage for long. Few men choose to travel to this land of perpetual winter by choice. Avery included.

Even so, Avery does not have the night to himself. A little further down the valley another fire can be seen. This one burns blue. It is the epicentre to a few ancient and decrepit-looking buildings and huts. Avery can hear the inhabitants in the distance, their songs and voices being carried on the wind. The old man occasionally glances down towards the blue flame. He knows he will not sit alone for much longer. He draws his bearskin cloak tight around his neck, then sits very still to conserve heat whilst he waits. Meanwhile the fire crackles and coughs, spitting occasional black cinders onto the virgin-white snow.

Out of the dark, a figure soundlessly approaches from the direction of the blue flame. The figure is a girl on the verge of adulthood. Her slim and lean figure suggests a life of hardship. She wears a pale blue dress and has flowing white hair that flutters out behind her in the breeze. Her shawl is a warm-looking fur but she seems somewhat underdressed for the cold night. She moves gracefully towards Avery, as if carried on the wind.

“Greetings traveller,” says the girl as she approaches. Her face is gentle and warm despite her cool pale skin. Avery briefly glances up at her. He gives her a friendly smile, as if welcoming an old friend, before returning his gaze to the flame.

“Greetings Miss, I am sorry to have disturbed you this night.”

“What are you doing out here alone traveller?” asks the girl. “Please come, be amongst my family tonight.”

Avery casts a glance back down towards the ancient buildings with their central blue flame. He shakes his head.

“No. I thank you for your hospitality, but I do not think your family would welcome my company.” He says, with a look of sincerity and regret.

The girl pauses for a moment, considering the curious lone man who would shun her offer of warmth and shelter.

“Very well Traveller. If you will not join my family, will you permit me to remain here and keep you company?” she asks. “We get few visitors here in the mountains. And I grow weary of hearing the same old family tales night after night."

Avery nods gently. A hand moves out from under his bearskin cloak, motioning a spot beside the fire for the girl to sit.

“I would welcome your company very much.”

The girl sits slowly, folding the edges of her dress beneath her legs out of habit. She takes a moment to inspect the old man under the firelight. She can see he was clearly handsome once, but looks as though he stopped caring about his appearance many years ago. His hair is knotted and straggled. His features are course and bear a constellation of small scars. Decades of pain and hard labour appear to be written on his face. The old man does not look at her. She gets the feeling he is avoiding it; as if scared or embarrassed to meet her eye. She waits a minute for him to start a conversation, but when none comes she decides to speak herself.

“Have you been to these lands before traveller?” she asks.

“Many times,” replies Avery in his gruff voice whilst keeping his eyes on the fire. “And even when I am away, I feel as though my soul resides here.”

“Do you mean to say you were raised here?”

“No. Not that exactly. I first came here forty years ago and something happened. Something that changed me from one person into another. I return here every year to remember what that thing was.”

The girl appears interested. She sits up and moves closer to the old man. “That sounds like a story worth hearing. Will you tell me what happened? Please?”

“I will, but it is not a tale for the faint-hearted. Are you sure you want to hear it?” Avery asks sincerely.

“I do.”

Avery never moves his gaze from the fire and never meets the girls' eyes. Before he speaks, he closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, as if trying to draw up the courage to share his story.


"Forty years ago I was a very different man to the one you see before you now. I was born to a military family. Like my father and his father before him, I adopted the path of the sword at a young age. Gods, I was strong in those days. I could throw a Gavaldrin war hammer over twenty paces. And I was a natural fighter to match. Sharp and quick. I was one of the best recruits in my cohort. But the price for owning the strength and vitality of youth is ignorance. I understood nothing of the world outside my own, and I did not care to learn.

“My first taste of battle came at the age of nineteen. The enemy was a group of Yaxxi who had set up home inside the borders of our lands. I had never met a Yaxxan before, but I thought I knew what they were. They were villains. Men grown mad; their souls eternally cursed by their ancestors reckless use of blood magic centuries before. Their very presence was a bad omen for my people, one that could bring pestilence, famine, or simple bad luck. Here they were brazenly setting up home in our land. I was angry and I could not wait for the chance to spill their blood.

“We attacked their village in the dead of night. We set fire to their buildings as we went. None were left alive. Men, women, children, and babes; all were killed without distinction. Our casualties were none, and theirs were total. It was called a great victory.

“I never stopped to think before the battle. I never stopped to look. Their village had no defences, no sign of weapons. This wasn’t a settlement to occupy our lands. Only a people with nowhere to call their own would choose to live in such desperate surroundings. The enemy were families, and looked no different from my kin. After the battle I realised the truth. We were not there to defend our own way of life; only to destroy another peoples'.

“I left the militia after that battle. I returned home but found I could not look my child or my wife in the eye again. It was not a shame I dared speak of. My wife thought I had lost interest in her. Before long she found a new lover and my contact with her and my daughter ceased. I never picked up a sword again. I took up farming. The life of a farmer is hard and offers little reward, but at least it is honest. I'm grateful for the man it has made me into. A better man than the one I was.

“That was all forty years ago, and since that time I have returned here every year, on the anniversary of that battle, to remember what I did.


“My part in the battle was not great.” Avery continues. “I did not fight for long, but it was long enough to make a kill. A young girl, on the verge of adulthood, was my victim. It's possible she had a lover already, I do not know. She was someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone's love. She had her whole life ahead of her.”

Avery pauses for a moment. The fire burning in front of him evokes the image of that night. He can still hear the screams like echoes in his mind. And blood. So much blood. The feel of its slick wetness forever caught between his fingers.

“When I entered her home she ran at me defenceless. I only had to hold my sword out in front of me. She impaled herself on it... The blade struck below her heart... It took her an age to die... All that time she was locked in my gaze... There was something intimate about it... I’ll never forget those eyes...”

Avery stops his story as he is interrupted by the girls’ sobs. Tears fall from her pale face in fat globs. Before they reach the ground they evaporate. Like the rest of her form, they fail to make any impression on the soft virgin-white snow beneath where she sits.

Avery finally breaks his stare from the fire and turns to the girl. Looking at her now he can see straight through her body and into the starry sky beyond. In forty years her face and clothes have not changed. Unlike him she hasn't aged a single day. He has to wrestle himself to meet her gaze. Her eyes are the same pale blue globes that have haunted his soul for decades.

“Why? Why do you return here year after year?” the spirit asks him through her tears.

“To tell you know how sorry I am.” Avery replies.
Kaldur Winterwind
The Old Bear. Former Keeper of the Order of Natures Grasp.

Amaeya Moonsorrow
Priestess, Peacemaker, and a Shining Beacon of Silver Light

Kreska Stormraven
Killer of Highborne, Historys' Assassin, a Dark Legend - missing presumed dead
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