Pix’s Note: What follows is a semi-collaboration. My guildmate, Esmerellda, got a wild hair one day and started writing the backstory to how Lelissa and Es met and became friends. As I was writing Judge Not, I felt that the next “book” in the series needed to have these little flashbacks, especially because of the things Malyss alluded to in the last part. So, you’ll get to see Esmerellda’s work in the flashbacks, while I’m writing the rest of the perspective.
I can’t feel my hands.
It isn’t because of the cold. Malyss built a fire to keep the cave warm while we waited, though I know now that she certainly didn’t do that because of any kindness. No, I can’t feel my hands because I’ve been hanging from the ceiling for the better part of the morning.
She said she’d let me die here. A week ago, I wouldn’t have believed it, but… her most recent treatment of me tells me otherwise. Nearly every inch of me is covered in pain… I’m certain that I’m so bruised, I probably look like a Night Elf without the pointy ears. I can barely see, since one eye is completely swollen shut, and the other feels as though it will burst from the pressure. I think my jaw is fractured, but not broken; it hurts to try to open my mouth, but it can be done. Since I’m hanging by my wrists from the ceiling, casting any spells will be impossible. I have no choice but to suffer with this pain.
Malyss is deadly serious, heartless, and as hateful as her name implies.
A scraping sound near the entrance to the cave makes me lift my head. I can’t see clearly enough to see her face, but I know that stance… Lelissa is finally here, though the real truth of her arrival is bittersweet. Malyss lured her here to die. I want to call out to her, tell her to run away, but even if my voice could reach her with more than a pained whimper, she wouldn’t listen to me anyway. She has always been headstrong and proud, ever since the first time I met her, so long ago.
Among the towering trees of Ashenvale, Esmerellda rode her charger down the winding path towards the fork in the road that would eventually lead her north towards Felwood. Her charger was happily trotting along, pleased to be off the boat that had brought them to the Elven lands. If it hadn’t been for a letter from an old friend of hers, Esmerellda would have happily stayed back in the Human lands, much to the pleasure of her charger.
She could see wolves slinking about through the trees, stalking stags that gracefully glided in and out of sight. High up in the trees birds chirped at one another and fluttered about. The sun shone through the canopy of trees in some spots, and it truly was a good day to be out traveling through the forest.
Farther down the road, Esmerellda picked up the faint sounds of battle. She had been warned by the Astrannar sentinels that there was a tribe of corrupt furbolgs nearby, so she slowed down her charger and headed towards where she thought the noise was coming from. Down a heavily forested slope from the road, Esmerellda could make out what looked to be a Draenei fighting four of the bear-like creatures. A furbolg pathfinder stood a few meters behind the Draenei, busily shooting arrows into the fray. Two nearby totems assaulted the Draenei with fireballs and, as Esmerellda watched, one of the furbolgs cast a spell that made another totem appear, different from the others. The other two were busily whacking away at the Draenei, one with a sword, one with a roughly carved staff.
The Draenei appeared to be fighting a losing battle. Esmerellda watched her swing her sword at an enemy, miss completely, and take a blow to the back from one of the furbolgs behind her. The Draenei fell to the ground, and Esmerellda decided maybe her assistance would be welcome. After hopping off her charger and telling it to stay put, Esmerellda carefully slid down the slope, trying to remain mostly unseen; an easy task since the furbolgs were all distracted by the Draenei.
A blast of holy energy hit the pathfinder, toppling it over backwards as it fell dead, the arrow it was loading into its bow fired straight up for a short distance before falling, sinking into the ground just inches from the creature’s furred feet. A solid hit stunned the closest furbolg to Esmerellda, and a quick few hand signs later, the Draenei looked considerably healthier than she had a few moments ago. The sudden, brief golden glow of the healing spell made the other two furbolgs blink at Esmerellda in surprise, but they didn’t turn away from the Draenei, determined to kill her before moving to their new threat.
The Draenei managed to scramble to her feet, and a few lucky swings of her sword later made one of the furbolgs fall to the ground as Esmerellda finished off the one she had stunned. The last furbolg took a look at the two of them, then turned and ran as the Draenei swatted at the annoying fire-spitting totems, splintering them into kindling. As the Draenei turned to chase after the fleeing furbolg, a glowing golden hammer whisked by her and hit it square in the back of the head before disappearing as the furbolg fell to the ground.
The Draenei sheathed her sword, and twirled around to glare at Esmerellda.
“I did not need your help.”
Esmerellda grinned. “Not from where I was standing.”
The Draenei continued to glower at Esmerellda, while Esmerellda in turn just studied her.
Finally, Esmerellda shrugged. “At least this way, you won the fight quicker, and came out of it healthier than if I had not showed up. Is that really such a bad thing?”
“I would have been fine. Assistance was not needed.”
“I hope then that next time no one is around in that case. I’ll leave you to doing whatever it was you were doing before you were attacked by these furbolgs.”
She was so upset with me that day. I left her there with her wounded pride as I continued my journey to Felwood, but even that look of anger on her face is not nearly as fearsome as the one I see now.
Lelissa and Malyss are circling… speaking in evenly measured tones, but I don’t know what they are saying. I know a few words of the Draenei language – Lelissa tries to teach me as much as she can – but I recognize few of them now.
Oh no… I don’t know what Malyss just said, but I can feel Lelissa’s rage. What she said… it wasn’t Draenei. It was something darker. Something hateful. Light, I don’t even need to see her to feel her anger right now.
I hear the ring of steel on steel.
The fight has only begun.