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Their Fates
#1
The Fate of a Scoundrel (1/2)



To eyes that knew no better, the mossy glade was nothing more than it appeared. Where vestiges of silver light peeked through the forest’s canopy, purple flowers bloomed, and from their midst rose an enormous log, leaning crookedly against the stump from which it had broken a time ago. Thick vines stretched over the formation, creating a natural veil and threatening to drag the felled tree back into the very earth.

Her eyes knew much better, though.

They shone in the dark of early dusk like stars, narrow and catlike and keen. As she strode toward the log, the slender fingers of saplings tugged at her ragged cloak. Once it had been indigo, and a pattern reminiscent of the Icon of Wisdom was woven into the tattered fabric. Now it was splattered by mud, muck, and worse. She parted the vine curtain and slipped into shadow. Her fingertips brushed bark as she descended, slick with moisture and rot. She could see perfectly well, but she allowed her other senses to guide her downwards into the hollow.

The smell of a forest after rainfall filled her nose, familiar and welcoming. Wood became earth, damp at first but drier the further she went. Eventually that too gave way, stone closing in around her. Steps formed under her feet as birdsong and the rustling sound of trees faded. Subconsciously, she pricked her long, scar-notched ears and listened ahead. The passage had been carved by ancient hands, she knew, and despite having weathered the wear of ten thousand years, she could still feel the grooves where symbolic images had been chiselled into the walls. The warmth of the forest evaporated slowly, a chill taking its place.

At last, the stairway levelled into a twisting corridor. A root inquisitively poked through the ceiling, its bulbous core pulsing with pale light. Similar lamps lit the way forward. She followed them until she came to a round door, thick and gnarled, which seemed to have been formed by shaping wood as one might mould clay. It had a handle, but she hesitated to reach for it. Suddenly, she felt the cold and pulled the shabby cloak more tightly around herself.

Just do it. You’ve never faltered before, not even when others might have fallen. The night elf pushed her way inside and closed the door.


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#2
The Fate of an Unorthodox Crusader



Kalegra knelt and gently ran her fingers over the grass. The blades shared a colour with her skin, but instead of corruption and taint, the verdant carpet below her feet signified life and the prevailing strength of nature. She rose again and turned to face Light’s Hope. Never before more than now did it live up to its name. The humble chapel had borne witness to catastrophes and miracles alike. Today, it seemed to swell with pride as it stood overlooking the rising battlements. The pride was probably hers, she reflected, remembering the wooden beam over her shoulder and shrugging it into a more comfortable position.

It seemed an age ago that she had joined the Argent Dawn. A crusader in the war against the Scourge, she had faced seemingly insurmountable challenges, but like her order, she triumphed. They hadn’t won; not yet. No one ever said it, but they all knew that their fight had scarcely begun. Even so, this was proof that Azeroth could recover. The Plagueshifters were instrumental in cleansing the land, she knew—she had even made friends with a few of them—but the sight of the garden filled her with an indescribable sense of achievement.

As her thoughts sprinted, Kalegra subconsciously reached for her collar, where a carving dangled from her neck. Setting the beam down beside a half-constructed wall, she dropped to her rear for a breather. She lifted the carving before her eyes and tilted her head. It was passable, for a novice. Three horned beasts were represented in a stylised manner; a great crow, displayed; a bear, rampant; a feline, dormant. Finding her brow furrowed in concern, she let her shoulders sag and exhaled. Circumstances had led them down different paths, and then the fire from the skies…

No, he had to be all right, she decided. Krohn was made of tough stuff. Still, perhaps it would be worth contacting Mahta. She had known him better and for longer. Kalegra thought they might even be bonded mates, and the thought amused her for reasons she couldn’t quite pin down. She stood; her mind was made up. Someone’s mane hadn’t been ruffled in much too long.


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#3
The Fate of a Dreamer (1/3)
Spoiler:
This is long overdue. It's chronologically set several months ago. It was meant to be a part of a personal side-plot accompanying a much larger storyline, but we'll have to make do with tying up loose ends this way.

Starting from slumber, Theiba sat up. The druid immediately gripped his brow and winced as a furious headache struck him, his thoughts reeling as though a thousand voices had roared into his ears at once. For an ambivalent moment, he thought he heard the echo fading in a whisper. As the pain ebbed to a manageable level, he squinted through throbbing eyes and blearily blinked at his surroundings. Earthen walls arched overhead. He lay on a stone dais with straw sparsely spread beneath him, surrounded by pots of incense long since burnt out. A barrow den, he concluded. It seemed as though he was alone, for as he rose and began to wander through the winding passages, he noted that he never once encountered another soul, sleeping or otherwise. Without being aware how, he reached the entrance of the den and shielded his eyes from the sun or the moon; he wasn’t sure which he would face.

Neither greeted him, and he lowered his hand when he realised that the light was tolerably dim. He stepped out into a forest, one entirely unfamiliar to him and cloaked in a fog so dense that it mattered little whether it was day or night, for it was impossible to tell. The grass was cold underfoot, and although Theiba regularly went barefoot the better to commune with Azeroth’s flora, it sent a shivering chill through him. The inexplicable beginnings of a deep, primal fear pricked Theiba’s senses. In response, he slowed his breathing and gathered his thoughts, looking towards the nearest tree. He was never alone in the midst of nature. Striding closer, he extended his hand and flattened his palm against the trunk, which felt cool to his touch and had a greyish pallor. Ignoring this, he concentrated and reached out to ask after his current whereabouts. He didn’t really imagine that he’d be given directions, for trees aren’t noted for their navigational skills, but the answer he received sent him staggering backwards in alarm. Despite being unable to register what he had been told, he felt his stomach lurch as sudden panic bubbled at the brim of his thoughts.

“Ellea,” he gasped, abruptly aware of the danger his mate faced. He glanced every which way for some sign of her. “Ellea!” Theiba’s cry bounced through the misty forest and returned to him, desperate and afraid. Though he didn’t know where his feet were carrying him, he took off at a dash. “Show me the way!” he beseeched of his surroundings. At first, it was as though they had not heard him, but a small break soon came in the fog. An insistent wind urged him forward and the path he took became easier.

Before long, the shadow of a structure emerged from the gloom. Theiba was so intent, so focused on the apparition that the other dark shapes shifting in his periphery went unnoticed. A house emerged, a natural edifice which was the product of the shaping of nature. He recognised it as Ellea’s home, and although its present location puzzled him, for she lived in the Kaldorei capital atop Teldrassil, he could only think of reaching her and assuring himself of her well-being.

Apprehension nagged at Theiba, demanding caution. He somehow felt that something was terribly wrong, but all the more reason to press on and find his love. He couldn’t and wouldn’t abandon her. Warily, he inspected the lower levels of the hollowed trunk. The furniture was where it should be. Gowns and dresses hung suspended as he recalled them from his last visit. She was a seamstress, so this was no surprise. Although nothing was out of place, the scene felt tainted. The druid struggled to define the colours and patterns woven into Ellea’s work. He bucked his concerns and pressed onward, advancing up the circular slope that led to their sleeping chamber.

There she lay, as noble and beautiful in repose as ever she was. He exhaled and took a step towards her, overcome by relief and joy beyond description. When he reached out to stir her from rest, Theiba noticed that she was still. Perfectly still. He froze, and his gaze sought her face. She was expressionless and wore a sallow, wan pallor. All his elation at having found her soured and roiled within him, and he stiffly moved to gather her up in his arms. Gently, he shook her and said her name. “Ellea,” he pleaded tremulously, but she wouldn’t open her eyes. “Ellea…” he said again, more urgently. She wouldn’t rouse. Burying a sob, Theiba squeezed his eyes shut and hunched over.

“…ng her b…” he murmured. Silence and stillness pressed inward like a thickening haze.

“Bring her back!” he growled, shoving away the dark and funnelling every inch of his power into a spell.

Theiba’s horror was ineffable when he could not sense nature’s answer, his helplessness lamented with each choking, rattling lungful of air he forced himself to breathe.

He had been abandoned by his calling.

His mate lay lifeless in his arms.

He was blind to the curious fingers of darkness that began to creep over him, numb to their icy touch, deaf to the ridicule they sang in his ears. Their voices echoed a thousandfold, every word a reminder of his failings. Past mistakes replayed themselves over in his mind, every one of them leading to this very moment, and all of them his doing. His fault.

A greater shadow descended on the house, but Theiba paid it no mind. You were never worthy. Mighty wings spread over the roof and hooked talons gripped the bark with such force that it began to splinter and crack. Not of nature, nor of her. A lithe tail coiled around the walls and sought to tear them apart. But there is a way that you can be together again. From above, a scaly snout lowered and displayed a toothy snarl. I can make it so. Under the weight of the funereal murmurings assailing him, the druid thought he heard a melodious voice call his name.

Theiba!

…But none of this mattered. Ellea was dead.
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