Annorith’s Story – 1

It was dusk in the wintry wasteland of Icecrown. Weary adventurers were finishing up their last few endeavors before the biting, freezing night set in. Even the stoic members of the Silver Covenant shivered in their silver and blue robes, looking forward to returning to their homes, wherever they may be, and perhaps a nice warm fire, a large tankard of ale, and a warm welcome from their husband, wife, lover. The thick cloth walls of the tents trembled as heavy gusts of snowy wind tried to rip through them and into their warmly lit interiors. The Tournament grounds were hushed as merchants packed up and tugged warm cloaks on for the snowy flight back to Dalaran city, the only truly safe place in the harsh world of Northrend. Only one adventurer wasn’t packing up, wasn’t looking longingly towards the flight master and the impending return to bed.

She was sitting, propped against a wooden column forming the shell of the pavilion of the Silver Covenant. Her eyes were closed and her face was tired, with small lines forming on her brow and around her lips. She was young, much too young to have such marks, but Annorith, villager from the Eastvale Logging Camp, daughter of a poor farmer, and one of the powerful Warlocks devoting her time and talents towards the battle against the Lich King, was older than her years. At 31, she was worn out, just a shell of who she used to be, even changed from when the invasion of the Scourge had plighted Azeroth and pulled her back into battle not so very long ago.

Sighing, Rith opened her eyes and looked wearily at the piece of parchment balanced on her lap and her feather and ink sitting on the floor beside her. It was time for her weekly letter back home to her only and beloved child, and she couldn’t bring herself to write. Her words didn’t seem to make sense in her mind. What was she supposed to tell her beautiful Olivia? That all was well, that the Lich King was close to being defeated? That she’d be home soon, to the peaceful Elwynn Forest, to see her? But such words seemed hollow, and false. The real news was of her friend, a sweet and noble Paladin, who had fallen just two days ago in their attempt to take the Citadel. That they hadn’t been able to reclaim her body, that Rith had been forced to watch as the dwarf’s corpse was desecrated by the Scourge who took her life. And what of all the new adventurers who streamed into Icecrown, looking for glory and fame. Their armor was new and glossy with shine and pride. The cloth was freshly woven, the leather gleamed with polish. What of them, the newcomers who looked at a veteran such as herself with looks of pity, disgust, contempt. I will be better than her, their eyes read. Look, she looks like death. No wonder we’re making such little headway, if we have warriors like her leading the battle. A Warlock with faded gear that has been fixed and sewn back together countless times is no fearsome sight, to be sure. But at least she had lived long enough to be unable to count how often she repaired her armor. Too many good soldiers died on their first visit to the Citadel.

No, she couldn’t write about that. Her daughter was young, only eleven years of age. No child should have to grow up with such knowledge of the world. As she stared into a brazier across the tent, watching the cold blue flames dance and leap, a voice whispered from the back of her mind. You weren’t much older when you learned about death, it murmured, enticing her to remember the youthful actions of her past. You were only sixteen when you left home.

Sighing, Rith closed her eyes again, and gave into the seductive, dangerous voice in her head. She knew that dragging up the past could not change the present, but she still relapsed into memory.

As usual, they came in snatches. Bright, green, sunlight filled streaks of life, bottled only in her mind. They came fast, with flying colors and muffled sounds, and only brief images that played through her head. Her father, quiet, strong, patient, a worker of the land and in possession of a huge russet beard. And fewer snapshots of her mother, with rich blond hair and dark dancing eyes. She was only four when her mother passed away, and the brief strips of memory that she did retain smelled of warm bread and peacebloom. Only four when the Orcs invaded their home and vandalized the great city of Stormwind. She remembered very little of the first few years of her life. She remembered living in the city, and running along the canals and staring at the huge white stone walls. From what little Rith had learned about her mother, she was a priestess of the Light and she worked as a healer in the Cathedral. Of course, when Rith was born, the healing that her mother performed was minor; setting a broken bone, mending a nasty slice from a farming tool. She had not known about the invasion of the Orcs, and had barely been able to comprehend the fact that her mother had been slaughtered while trying to save her daughter and husband. After her mother’s murder, and after the forests of Elwynn were safe to live in once more, her father had purchased a small farm and settled there with his daughter, hoping to ease his painful memories of his wife. Her father had the scent of earth and the land, and she still remembered his big, rough hands gently braiding her unruly hair. A thin smile touched her lips, bittersweet, as she was pulled back to a memory of her sixteenth year.

The dawn light was muted and soft as it filtered through a window onto a small empty bed. Annorith, tall but slight in her young age, was sitting on its edge, tugging on thin cloth sandals and stuffing the edge of her shirt into her raggedy britches. She wanted to be gone before her father rose for work, and she had known she was running short of time. She took nothing from her room, no keepsakes of her life. As an impressionable teenager, she had wanted to leave behind her childhood as a farmer’s daughter, a nobody’s daughter. Adventure, honor, and glory glowed in front of her like a prize, and she was ready to leave behind menial farm life in pursuit of those goals. Sticking her long hair up in a hasty bun, she had snuck out of her room and out the front door, making sure that her short, impersonal letter of farewell was left on their small, rough table. Shouldering her patched, empty backpack, she had set off for the main road and, ultimately, Stormwind.

She never saw her father’s figure in the window, watching her leave him with sad, blue eyes.

(Please leave constructive comments, be it about my writing/story, or any problems with the lore. Also… Compliments are always appreciated. 😉 )

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~ by riththewarluid on October 20, 2010.

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