Pix’s Note: Thus ends “book two” of the series. This time, it’s all me; Esmerellda’s part in this was done last week, so you’ll probably notice the difference. I’m not entirely sure I’m happy with the way this ended, or how short this portion seemed to be, but I plan on making up for it. Look for the next installment next week!
Oh, Light… this really hurts.
The first bit of pain came in my fingers and hands, blood rushing back into them where it had been absent for so long. With that pain came a new one, as the needles-and-thorns sensation worked its way to my brain, causing me to almost scream in agony. The jaw hurts a lot worse, though it seems to be getting better. I don’t know how I’m healing, but it doesn’t matter right now.
The most recent pain is the compression in my hands. I’m trying to slip free of the manacles that Malyss left me hanging from, but it’s difficult. It’s cold, the manacles are starting to freeze to my skin, and I’m racing against the clock here – Lelissa doesn’t have much time, and while my thoughts are telling me that I need to work quickly and carefully, my heart is forcing me to rush. I’m losing my friend with every second I’m stuck here, and if that happens, it’s all over for both of us.
I have to break free of these shackles.
“Minessa, let me go with you. You don’t have to go alone.” Lelissa was frowning, unable to understand why her sister was refusing her escort into Stormwind.
Glowing frost-colored eyes looked from Lelissa to Esmerellda and back again. Finally, they closed for the brief denial, a simple shaking of the head. “My name is Malyss now. Minessa is dead and gone.” A soft sigh filled the small space in front of Malyss’ lips with frost. “Anyway, I need to do this with the others of my order. You don’t have to protect me anymore, Lelissa. I’m not the same Paladin you remember. I’m so much more now… and a little bit less.”
Lelissa was fighting with the notion of leaving her sister’s safety to chance, as the mass of Death Knights congregating near the gates of Stormwind had been somewhat of a spectacle. People were gathering near the bridge on the other side of the gate, jeering and cursing the Knights of the Ebon Blade for the atrocities they committed, and what they were. The guards of Stormwind had gathered, and the looks on their faces clearly showed their feelings even if the bared steel did not.
The Death Knights were not welcome.
Lelissa looked at the guards at the gate, weighing her sister’s pride against her safety, and pride had won out. She nodded reluctantly, stepping to the side of the road to stand near Esmerellda as the delegation of Knights chosen by Mograine gathered before the gates. Malyss moved to join them, their dark armor and helms making them look fearsome and terrible against the calm and tranquility of Elwynn.
As the Knights resumed their march into the city, the guards moved to intercept them, weapons drawn. The Knights had left their runeblades behind with the larger contingent of Knights, but the guards of Stormwind knew well that they wielded weapons just as powerful as the ones they left behind.
A Human stepped forward, the appointed spokesman for the delegation. “Hold, guardsmen. We are here to treat with Varian Wrynn, King of Stormwind, at the behest of Darion Mograine and Tirion Fordring. We are not here to fight.”
“And who are you, then, who believes he deserves such an audience, Death Knight?” The crowd of guards parted at the voice, as a charger carrying General Marcus Jonathan cantered toward the pallid diplomat.
“I am called Virulent, General. I have a message for Varian Wrynn, which I have been instructed to deliver into his hands and none other. My companions and I are unarmed, and will gladly be escorted to his throne room if need be. We cannot leave until this is done.”
General Jonathan studied the man a few moments, then nodded. “Very well. We will not escort you, but our guards will be on the ready. Pass the word forth – the Death Knights are not to be harmed without cause.”
Pages sprinted off, carrying word to the guards and townspeople on the way to Varian’s throne room. The guards parted, allowing the Knights to pass through and on to King Varian, but even Jonathan’s orders didn’t prevent the townspeople from shouting curses and slurs at the Death Knights all the way to the Keep.
Malyss returned to the gates later a little worse for wear. Her armor was covered in rotted fruit and vegetable fragments, her hair sticky and matted. She reclaimed her blade from the Knights waiting by the road, then turned to face her sister. Her face was locked in carefully controlled anger; Esmerellda could tell that she wanted to lash out at something, anything, but was making a heroic effort at avoiding such a show in view of the people of Stormwind.
Lelissa walked forward, taking her sister’s hand. “Come on. There’s a stream near here. You can get cleaned up, and then we’ll take you to Gadgetzan. There are some people you need to meet.” The pair walked off to the south, Esmerellda following not far behind as the two sisters talked about what happened in the city. She couldn’t hear all of what they were saying, but she could pick up on the disappointment in Malyss’ voice, and the sympathy in Lelissa’s.
What Esmerellda did hear stuck with her most, though: only eight little words.
“I have to break free of these shackles.”
I don’t believe it; I finally managed to get my hands free. They’re a little messy, I guess, but peeling that much good skin from your body is never a good thing. They’ll heal. With a little help from the Light, they’ll even heal without too much scarring.
I hope I have enough power… yes, I can feel it. It’s like drawing water from a well, but once you start, it’s easy enough to keep it going.
The mana flows through me, shaped by my gestures, and channeled into Lelissa’s body, mending broken bones, healing torn organs, ripped muscle, shredded flesh… restoring the wandering soul to its body. I use a little of that power to heal my own wounds, and then I go to her… I want to be there when she wakes up.