Story background, disclaimers, etc. Edit
Again with the blurbs and again with the apologies, but the quick link content feature makes reading my writings somewhat bearable, or so I hear. Anyways, after some internal deliberation I decided to post the follow up to "In the Shadow of Hyjal." I began this work, similarly to how I began "Shadows" in beta time, this time the TBC beta, in an effort to provide a backstory for my new character, Kaveh. However, much like "Shadows", this has evolved into something larger. It blends both backstory with a chronicling of the RP I did on my numerous characters during vanilla WoW. In total, the story was meant to encompass the final year before the events of WoW as well as the two years following leading up to the end of the Burning Crusade. This proved to be too daunting a task and the story remains quite unfinished.
Even in its unfinished state I prefer this story to "Shadows." The story shifts perspective off from being a Reikan-centric story to a wider scope that includes a more in-depth viewing of the ancillary characters of Monok, Vallai, and Trogar as well as bringing in my current active, so to speak, RP characters of Kaveh, Levic and Janus. There's, either fortunately or unfortunately, a lot going on in the story so critiques are always welcome, especially if something seems unclear or otherwise hard to follow.
As before, I hope you all enjoy the unfinished "Rise of the Whiteraven."
Rise of the Whiteraven Edit
One year before the Battle of Mount Hyjal
The thundering of stone, metal, and in a cruel twist, the bodies of fallen allies hitting the walls of Silvermoon city echoed in the twilight. The famed Rangers of the Quel’dorei stood along the top of the walls launching volley after volley into the unending undead army below. For each ghoul or abomination that fell, another rose up to take its place. The Quel’dorei were running out of time; the walls were crumbling.
“We’re losing the wall, fall back! Fall back to the Spire!”
The Rangers fled from their post, save one of their brash young recruits. He remained alone atop the crumbling wall, firing arrow after arrow into the Scourge. The stone beneath his feet gave way, and he plummeted to the ground into the onrushing waves of undead.
With a distasteful sigh one of the fleeing Rangers turned around, his white hair gleaming in the fading sunlight. He notched an arrow into his bow and fired, cutting down a ghoul looking to feed on the fallen elf. In quick succession he notched and fired several more arrows as he ran to the broken wall. Nimbly he jumped down into the pit below, slinging his bow onto his back and drawing his great spear adorned with several raven feathers dyed white at their tips. He sprinted to his fallen comrade, skewering all who stood in his path.
“Getting yourself killed won’t make you a hero, it makes you a fool,” he quipped as he picked up the young elf.
“Kaveh!” a voice called to him.
The white haired Ranger looked up to see a rope dangling down from a nearby wall. He jumped up and grabbed onto the rope, holding onto the young elf tightly as he was pulled up. Bright green eyes were waiting for him at the top of the wall.
“Thanks again, Anya,” he said, flashing a cocky smile, “you two, take him out of here, he’s wounded.”
The two elves who had pulled him to safety nodded and took off. Anya another of the famed Rangers remained alongside Kaveh as he sprinted through the square to Sunfury Spire. Fortunately the Scourge seemed content to march in a straight line through the city, every wall and building in their path slowing their progress significantly. The two Rangers darted out from buildings and alleyways picking off dozens of undead with their arrows.
From behind them came a loud crash. Kaveh whirled around to see a large mass of Scourge piling into the Court of the Sun from the west. The sound of screaming tore through the air as the Scourge laid waste to the Quel’dorei elves, soldier and civilian alike. Kaveh dashed towards the newly appeared Scourge force and threw himself between them and the Spire where many of the young took refuge.
“Anya, if this is to be our end…”
Green eyes narrowed underneath matted auburn hair. Even covered with the grime of battle Lady Anya was still a sight to behold.“Quiet, Kaveh!”
Kaveh smirked but said nothing, turning his attention to the onrushing Scourge. He picked up a sword off the ground and with his spear in his other hand charged into the enemy lines. He was a whirlwind of blades, cutting down enemy after enemy as a rain of arrows flew around him. The two Rangers operated in perfect synergy but their determination and bravery were not enough to prevent the slaughter of their people. The call for retreat had been given.
“Kaveh, hurry! We must leave!” Anya implored.
With a dissatisfied growl Kaveh fell back away from the Spire. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a pale human riding through the wreckage on horseback, holding a great rune blade idly in his hand. Kaveh scaled a mass of debris and notched an arrow.
For hundreds of years he had been renowned for his skill with a bow. He was not just any Ranger, but a Ranger Lord, hero of the Second War and a beacon of focus, cunning and courage. However on the day Silvermoon fell his focus wavered, his hands shook and his will failed. His arrow, fletched with white dyed raven feathers flew harmlessly past its intended target.
“Kaveh come on!”
He stood, unbelieving of what had just transpired.
“We have to get out of here!”
He slowly backed away.
"The city is lost!"
Chapter 1 Edit
The once beaten dirt paths were taking the shape of roads. All around them great pillars of wood rose to the sky, an impressive ward against those who would seek destruction within the city walls. Amongst the rising buildings, huts and tents the Orcish Horde worked endlessly, their great city of nearly complete. Standing amidst the slaving peons a larger orc stood in command. His hair was gray, and his right arm often hung limp at his side but his eyes burned with the desire to see battle again.
It had been a long two years since he lost nearly all use of his right arm. He had been sloppy, not treating a fallen, cornered adversary with the same respect he would any other. Instead of pouncing on the Death Knight when the opportunity first presented itself he chose to mock his enemy and the mistake ended with a blade in his shoulder. Though he did not realize it until long after the World Tree fell, he failed his Warchief that day; without use of his arm he could no longer serve on the front lines, and for Trogar, champion of the Horde, the only way to serve the Warchief was to bleed on the field.
A peon lost his grip on the rope, and one of the great pillars that was being hoisted into position fell, the crash echoing through the northern reaches of Durotar. Trogar growled and verbally lashed out at the unfortunate peon. Failure on its own was worthy of harsh discipline, but the peon’s lapse in concentration could have easily injured many other workers.
After he had finished administering discipline Trogar saw what had distracted the peon. A small group of tauren had arrived bearing supplies of leather and meat to aid the construction effort. From the back of their ranks a slightly smaller, blue-gray furred tauren stepped aside and walked towards Trogar. His blue eyes were as curious as always, darting from wall to wall of the growing city and his face wore the same smile it did when they first met years ago.
“Hail, Vallai,” Trogar said, bowing to his old friend, “what brings you to Orgrimmar?” The nearby peons marveled at the honor being shown to the small tauren. Trogar bowed to no one save the Warchief.
“I wanted to visit; it has been awhile since we last saw one another.”
“Indeed it has, Vallai. How are things progressing in Thunder Bluff?”
Vallai shrugged. “Fast, slow, I’m not sure. I’ve never been a part of city construction before.”
Trogar laughed. “It sounds as if you wanted to get away from there then come here.”
Vallai shook his head. “No, I wanted to visit too. I’m just not comfortable with the unification of the tribes.”
Trogar frowned. “Why is that? Unification will provide greater protection for everyone.”
“Yes, but…it’s not the Earthstrider way to remain in one place for so long. We are born of the Earthmother and we cannot be content to remain in one place.” Vallai smiled. “It’s why there are so few of us left. The life of the wanderer is dangerous, but it is our destiny in this life. We will see to and tend to all of the Earthmother’s creation.”
“That is a shame,” Trogar said with a sigh, “but let’s talks about something else. How is your brother doing?”
Vallai removed a long cloth wrapped object from his back. As he undid it a gleam of silver could be seen underneath. Exposed to the light the blade seemed to hum, its red hilt calling to it the attention of all those gathered in the area.
“He has given up the way of the warrior and wishes to return this to you,” Vallai said as he handed the great blade to Trogar, who could barely keep it off the ground with his left hand, “he says such a fine blade should be used by another so it does not go to waste.”
Trogar looked sadly at the blade, “Why?”
“Monok wants to heal the land. He has left to learn the ways of the druid.”
The cold winds tore through the ground, whipping up snow and ice, blinding the lone creature foolish enough to wander through the white wastes of Winterspring. With nothing but simple traveling clothes to cover him and a cane to support his great size the black furred Tauren pressed onward. The ice tore into his arms and the wind chilled him to the bone but he had been through much worse before and survived. He was an Earthstrider, though his fur hearkened to a different tribe, and no element or beast would keep him from his destiny.
Monok Earthstrider, head of his clan, hero of the Horde and veteran of Hyjal had forsaken everything to make his journey. To his younger brother Vallai he gave up his status as chief, to Trogar and the orcs of Durotar he gave up his blade and to the sands of time he gave his honor. The time of war was at an end, and the land needed to be mended to recover from the damage caused by the Legion and their Scourge minions. As would befit the greatest of his people, he left his old life behind to give himself to the Earthmother and tend to her.
For days, it seemed, the elements tried to prevent his crossing of Winterspring. At first they merely wished him to turn back. As he moved deeper into the snow covered wastes their attention shifted from prevention to elimination. It was not enough to prevent the Earthstrider’s journey, he had to be killed. The path was never visible, food and shelter were always scarce but still Monok continued.
Finally, the elements broke and Monok was able to find both shelter from the storm and food in the harsh land. A steep rocky outcrop provided him shelter from the renewing winds and with the practiced skill of one who has spent his life in exile he created for himself a fire out of the scantest pieces of wood. He carefully cooked the hare he had slain, praising the Earthmother for providing him with sustenance and honoring the spirit of the creature who had to die so he could live.
The smell of the roasting meat drew the attention of a white wolf. Though it tried to muster a fierce appearance the harsh elements too had sapped from it much of its strength. Monok smiled at the wolf and though he greatly wanted the hare to himself he shared it with the wolf.
“Go ahead,” he said, quietly, “I will not hurt you.”
The wolf hesitated to come closer.
“Do not be afraid, we are kindred spirits, you and I.”
It slowly stepped forward, and nibbled on the meat in Monok’s outstretched hand.
“We are both exiles,” he said with a smile, “we’re both without a pack.”
After spending a night in what little shelter the outcropping provided Monok continued onward, the white wolf leading the way. With his nose to the ground the wolf barked and howled for the tauren to follow leading him over many days to the north and west of Winterspring. Strengthened by the food and trust Monok placed in him the wolf found again his will to hunt and often brought back to Monok game he caught while the wanderer set up a place to rest for the night. Together they made great progress across Winterspring until they finally arrived at the last great mountains that stood between the Earthstrider and his destination.
Monok looked up at the mountains that stood before him, steep and covered in ice. As he began his ascent the wolf obediently followed but Monok waved him back with his hand. The last part of his journey he would have to make alone, and though he would miss his companion greatly the lands of Winterspring were where the wolf belonged. With a great, mournful howl the wolf bade farewell to his companion and returned to forge his own path in the snow.
There was no path through the mountains. No one had dared cross them before on foot, and with good reason. The sheer steepness of the slopes alone made them impassable and the coating of ice merely reinforced this. Still, though they would seem impassable and his body was not suited to climbing Monok triumphed over the mountains and made his descent into the lush green forests of the Moonglade.
He carefully found his way down into the forests below and allowed himself a moment to rest. The air in these woods smelled as it did at Hyjal before the World Tree was destroyed. All around him Monok could feel the lives of the forest weaving their own strands in the great tapestry of the wood. Nearby he could hear the soft sound of waves lapping up against the shore and he slowly followed it to a crystal blue lake. Waiting on its shore a tall Kaldorei stood, her silver hair gleaming in the sun. She turned to see who approached, her face starting to show the wear of her many years.
“Monok,” she said, allowing herself to smile.
“It is good to see you again, Lady Whiteraven,” Monok said, bowing.
She turned away, looking back over the lake. “You’ve come to see the Circle, haven’t you?”
Monok nodded but said nothing. Serris did not need an answer.
“They can be found on the north side of this lake. Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yes, I am.”
Lady Serris Whiteraven sighed. “You were a great warrior Monok; you’ll never be able to run from the song of battle, no matter how hard you try.”
Monok shrugged and looked around. “Is Reikan still here?”
Serris’ head turned towards the ground as she absently twisted the lone ring on her hand. “No…he needed to return to his own people.”
Chapter 2 Edit
The salty smell of the sea dredged up the tortured memories of a home lost long ago. The gray haired man shook his mind free of such thoughts and focused instead on the white tipped raven feather he held between his fingers. Such a simple thing, he thought, a simple thing that will always carry with it the memories of another life, of a time when he was not a broken man without a home, he was a hero, an Earthstrider and counted amongst his friends orcs, tauren and night elves.
But that was another time, another place, another life, another man. He had to return to his people. He made a promise to an old friend to watch over his only child and though it was sorely delayed, it was a promise Reikan wished to keep. It would not be easy finding her; they had been separated on their escape from Lordaeron. All Reikan knew was that her boat was destined for Stormwind, and that would be where his search would begin.
“Sir Reikan, it is good to see you alive and well.”
Reikan looked up at Theramore’s captain of the guard, an old acquaintance from his lost life in Lordaeron. “Good to see you too.”
“Thank the Light we’re finally getting you back home where you belong. Stormwind has been very gracious in accepting those displaced by the Scourge. Honestly, I’d prefer it if you stayed here. These lands are dangerous and we could use one of your skill.”
Reikan shook his head. “No, thank you, I need to return.”
The captain smiled and nodded, “Of course, can’t blame me for asking. I managed to secure you an escort for your trip.”
“Why would I need an escort?”
“Well, sir, the closest to Stormwind our boats can get you is Menethil Harbor, north of the dwarf lands. You’ll have to make the journey to Ironforge on foot. From there the gnomes have some contraption of sorts that’ll take you directly to Stormwind.”
Reikan chuckled softly, “Great, hopefully I won’t be burned too severely when it blows up.”
“Hey!” a squeaky voice whined from behind the captain, “gnomish technology is very reliable! Our brightest minds estimated the chance of a freak explosion at .0013%!”
The captain stepped aside, “This is your guide, Reikan, Tremag Ironsprocket, of Gnomeregan.”
Reikan stifled a laugh. “Nice to meet you, Tremag.”
The little gnome with subdued red hair and ill fitting plate armor bowed down graciously. “It is an honor to escort a hero of the Third War!”
The captain smiled and said his farewells leaving Reikan alone with the eccentric gnome. “So, Tremag, why are you all the way out in Kalimdor?” Reikan asked.
“Well, it’s a long story, actually! I was adjusting the gyro-capacitors on my prototype world enlarger when I happened to stumble into an…”
Reikan looked out over the sea again, nodding every once in a while as the gnome prattled on about things that would only interest one of their kind. He wondered if Krys would even recognize him when he found her. It had only been three years but it seemed like an eternity. She was only fourteen when they fled Lordaeron, still a child clinging to her tattered doll as she was carried aboard the ship to Stormwind. She was a lot like Terra, he thought, if she was only a few years older her and Terra would have been best friends. The thought of his own daughter threatened to conjure tortured memories and old wounds so Reikan quickly suppressed it back into the depths of his mind.
Tremag appeared to be wrapping up his story of wizzbangs and gyro whats-its. “So, which boat is taking us to Menethil?”
The gnome turned and pointed towards the end of the dock. “That one.”
Reikan nodded, “You haven’t heard any news of Lordaeron, have you, Tremag? Are the Scourge still there…?”
Tremag smiled at the paladin and motioned for him to follow. “I’ll tell you everything I know on the boat. It’s a long story, you see, I was trying to find a way to make thorium widgets into some type of explosive…”
Reikan sighed and followed the gnome onto the ship.
He could still remember the smell of the salty sea air. Even in the gloom that had overtaken the land since Arthas and the Scourge had passed some things remained the same. The sea air, the sun, they were still the same. The same, yet, he was dead to them; dead to the feeling of the warm sun, dead to the crisp air, dead to the world. It had been two years since Lordaeron died to the world, yet still it carried on. The curse of undeath would deny the Forsaken many things, but it could never break their spirit. Even in death, the people of Lordaeron were resilient.
After Arthas departed to fulfill his own destiny of becoming the Lich King the people of Lordaeron rose up and broke free from the shackles the fallen prince had placed upon them. Freedom brought back to them control over their lives, but it also for the first time made them aware of what had happened. Lordaeron had died, yet her people still walked the land, as dead as she, and as cursed.
Sitting on her shores was one of her cursed sons, now known as the Forsaken, trying once again to find the warmth of the sun and cold of the wind. Realization of his plight, like for many of his kind, was slow to sink in. Months before he would sit on the shore every day trying to force his body to feel what it no longer could. As time passed he came every other day, now every week. With each visit he could feel part of his humanity vanishing into nothingness and it tore into his mind. With each visit who he was faded into oblivion while what he is loomed ever larger.
In his undeath he had discovered a strong affinity to the very demons that unleashed the Scourge on his land and destroyed his future. His twisted mind used this new found skill to chain agents of the Legion to his will. He wandered far across the plagued lands, breaking the demons he saw to him, forcing them to do his bidding. One such creature stood by his side on the shore, a mighty Felguard, thoughts of escape long since purged from its mind.
The warlock himself was just a small man, barely over five feet tall in life and even shorter in death. His face wore a constant scowl and his eyes were a sick yellow, though they saw nothing. He wore simple robes that identified him as a practitioner of the arcane and carried a gnarled staff that served some purpose in his former life, though like his name, whatever it was had long vanished from his mind.
He was Levic now, a mighty warlock and diplomat of Sylvannas, Banshee Queen of the Forsaken. The letter he carried in his hand bore the seal of the Queen and instructed him to make contact with the people she was a part of in life, the Quel’dorei elves. The Forsaken leadership had learned of their leaving the human Alliance and sought to gain an ally in the hostile world. The efforts to gain admittance to the orcish Horde of Kalimdor was not progressing well so it was vitally important for Levic and the other Forsaken that had been sent before to make a good impression on the Quel’dorei.
Levic knew that such a job would not be easy. The Forsaken did not look much different from the Scourge that had ravaged Quel’thalas and it was possible that some were even a part of that great battle when their minds were under the control of Arthas. He had decided to take his time before making the journey to Quel’thalas. The long days of his undeath had taught him patience; there would be no sense in rushing to failure. He would leave when he felt ready and not a moment sooner. There was still much to do on the shores of Lordaeron, still a chance that this time he would be able to feel the sun on his face and the chill wind in his bones.
Arthas’ corruption of the Sunwell was felt amongst all the Quel’dorei. The loss of their source of arcane magic was devastating. Some grew deathly ill, others fell into a deep depression. Kaveh was too strong to be ill and too proud to be depressed yet withdrawal affected his mind too. He did what he could to help rebuild Silvermoon, both its people and its walls yet he could not forget the night the city fell.
The debris that had littered the streets of Silvermoon was almost completely cleared away. Many Sin’dorei, Blood elves as they now referred to themselves, walked the roadways, stopping here and there to talk or otherwise idle yet depression clung to the air. Kaveh could see it as he passed by; no longer kept to the darkest alleys many Sin’dorei abused bloodthistle out in the open, the potent drug driving them to a state of delirium where they would relive the days before the fall. There were many who so yearned for days past that the thistle had claimed their minds leaving them broken and shunned from their brethren.
Amongst the broken remnants of his people Kaveh walked proudly. In days past he would have drawn much attention and admiration from those he passed but in these dark times he was just another survivor. On his cloak was emblazoned in gold the symbol of the Rangers; at his side he carried the long bow that long ago made him a lord of his people. His long white hair shined bright in the sun and his eyes burned with the fire that made him one of the fiercest warriors the elves of Silvermoon had ever known. In days past, he was Kaveh, Ranger-lord and hero of the Second War. In the shadows of the broken city he was nothing; ignored, forgotten.
He walked quietly into and stood before Halduron Brightwing, acting Ranger-General in the days after the passing of Lady Sylvannas Windrunner. Few assembled in the square paid him any heed, and Halduron only gave him the scantest of acknowledgements. Loathing and pity flashed across Kaveh’s face as he looked across the square. With a sigh he took off his cloak and cast down his bow at the feet of the Ranger-General.
Halduron instantly came to attention, “What is the meaning of this?”
Kaveh said nothing and cast down the cloak that marked him a Ranger.
“What are you doing?”
In his worn traveling garb he looked more a vagrant then a hero but his voice still commanded the attention of those around him. “I am leaving the Rangers.”
“Why? The scourge attack our city daily, we need…”
“There is nothing left to defend.”
In the deafening silence that fell over the broken city Lord Kaveh Whiteraven turned and left his people to whatever doom they faced.
Chapter 3 Edit
Reikan stood in awe of the great statues of the fallen heroes of Stormwind. He slowly walked forward, gazing at the huge stone monuments while the locals hurried their way around him. Many expressed their obvious dislike of yet another tourist visiting their city but he paid them no mind, taking his time and paying silent respect to the great heroes who had bravely gone to Draenor to fight the demon possessed Horde on their own land.
As he passed under the gate Reikan found himself awash in the bustle of humanity. The Trade District was packed with humans, dwarves and even a few gnomes scurrying about from shop to stand haggling prices, bickering with each other or simply browsing both the people and the products. Tremag had told him that there was an orphanage in Stormwind and Reikan figured that would be the best place to start looking for Krys.
“Excuse me,” he said, tapping an older woman on the shoulder, “do you know where the orphanage is?”
The graying woman turned and with one look at Reikan raised her nose into the air and stomped off, greatly perturbed at being bothered by a commoner. Though he tried many different people from guards to peddlers none would tell him where to go and few even dignified him with a response. With no help coming from the busy people of Stormwind Reikan took to wandering the streets, hoping to stumble upon a sign or perhaps a helpful person to point him in the right direction.
Morning drifted into the bright midday and still Reikan was lost, wandering the various streets and alleyways. As he turned into yet another busy street he saw a young fair haired boy trot towards him holding a silk cloth and a bottle of viscous liquid. His face was smudged and his clothes were tattered and worn but his eyes showed that he was still just a child, oblivious to the state he must be living in.
“Shine your blade, mister? Polish your armor?”
Reikan smiled and shook his head, kneeling before the boy. “No thanks, but perhaps you can tell me where the orphanage is? I’m looking for someone.”
The boy grinned. “Oh yea, that’s easy,” he pointed off into the distance, “it’s by the Cathedral of Light. Just take that bridge there across the canal, then take a left, and then take a right and you’ll be right at the Cathedral. You can’t miss the orphanage, it’s right next to it!”
“Thank you very much,” Reikan said, “hey…what are you doing out here polishing armor? Where are your parents?”
The boy shrugged his shoulders. “My mom’s in the trade district and my dad, well mom says he died in the last war.”
Reikan frowned. “Does your mother know you are out here?”
The boy looked down and shifted uncomfortably. “No…but mister, she’s really sick and really hungry so I’m trying to help her get money and food to eat.”
Reikan rustled the boy’s hair. “Here, take these.” He reached into his pouch and pulled out two gold coins. “Get you and your mother something good to eat tonight.”
The boy’s face lit up in a grin. “Thanks mister!”
The fair haired child ran off holding the gold coins tightly in his hand. Reikan chuckled as he pushed himself back to his feet. He crossed the bridge over the canal and passed through another archway eventually coming to a large square. At one end stood the great Cathedral of Light, its blinding white form rising towards the blue sky. He walked toward the cathedral but something in the back of his mind told him to stay away. There was something, something strange that he could not place but he knew it would be best if he stayed away from there, at least for now.
On the far side of the square children of all ages ran in and out of a humble stone building. A middle aged woman stood at the door way, calling out to the various children when they would get too far away. Reikan, relieved to have found the orphanage at last, hurried over.
“Excuse me,” he said bowing before the matron of the orphanage, “I’m looking for a young woman.”
The matron rolled her eyes, “In case you didn’t notice there’s lots of young girls here, I’m going to need a name.”
Reikan nodded, “Oh, sorry, her name is Krys.”
The matron sighed. “Krys what? We’ve got two, a four year old and a teenager.”
“The teenager, she’s the daughter of a friend of mine. We’re both from Lordaeron.”
The middle aged woman’s face softened slightly. “Oh, alright. Krys! Krys! Get out here! You have a visitor!”
“Thank you very much, ma’am.”
“Are you looking to adopt her?”
Reikan nodded. “Yes, of course.”
“Good, another year here and she’d be too old to stay. We would have had to put her out on her own. Wouldn’t have been good for her, she’s a lot of trouble, that one. Krys! Get out here!”
A young woman with soft black hair tied up in a pony tail and mischievous eyes nonchalantly walked out the door. “Yea? What is it?”
“Do you know this man?”
Krys looked over at Reikan and stiffened. “Y..yes…he’s a friend of my father’s. Sir Reikan…”
Reikan bowed and smiled. “I’m glad that you remember me, Krys.”
The matron looked at the paladin skeptically. “Why did you stutter, Krys? He’s not some sort of criminal is he?”
“No, of course not!” she said, “he was a friend of my fathers; they served in the war together.”
“Served in the war, eh? From Lordaeron?” The matron looked over Reikan. “What were you, some knight or something?”
“A Knight Of the Silver Hand, ma’am,” Reikan said.
The matron’s eyes widened. “Really?” She looked over Reikan again as a guilty smile crossed her face. “Get your things Krys, this man is adopting you.”
The young girl nodded and hurried back into the orphanage.
“Thank you for your help, ma’am,” Reikan said, bowing.
“It was my pleasure. Sure you don’t want to adopt another one? I have plenty to choose from.”
“No thank you. I’m sure they’ll all find good homes soon enough.”
“Well…if you ever want to come back and just talk…”
Reikan chuckled and shook his head. “No thank you, ma’am.”
Krys returned carrying a small bag and a ragged, worn doll. Several of the children as well as the matron bid her farewell and wished her happiness in her new life. Krys smiled, waving to them all and then walked off with Reikan away from the place she thought she would spend the rest of her life in.
“Still keep your favorite doll with you, eh?” Reikan said, smiling.
Krys held the doll out from her and said sheepishly, “It’s just a keepsake, nothing more.”
The gray haired knight chuckled. “If you say so!”
“So…where are we going? Do you have a house here?”
Reikan shook his head.
“Wait…what? You don’t have a house? Where do you live?”
“I just arrived here today.”
“So…uh…where are we going to live?”
Reikan smiled. “Don’t worry,” he said, tapping the pouch at his side, “we’ll stay at the inn for a few days while I try to find us something permanent and get a job. I’ve got more then enough money to keep us well fed and happy for a year or more.”
“If you say so, old man…”
Night had come when the two arrived at the inn in the Trade District. Fortunately for Reikan, Krys knew the city well and was able to direct him around the various streets. After purchasing two rooms for the night Reikan bid his adopted daughter good night and retired for the evening.
The room was well kept and the bed much softer then any she had known in the orphanage but still Krys could not sleep. She looked out the window at the somber night sky and sighed. She had wanted to ask him, was dieing to ask him if her parents were ok, but she knew the truth. She had known when it was Reikan, not her father, who rescued her from the Scourge as they stormed her house. Her parents were dead. There would be no happy homecoming, no great feast laid out on the table by her mother, no stories of war from her father, no quiet happy house in the middle of the fields of wheat and apples. When she had walked out of the orphanage to see not her father but Reikan waiting for her she knew that there was nothing left to hope for. Her parents, her friends, the life she had known in Lordaeron was really gone, and not simply a nightmare that would fade in time. Looking out the window she clutched her ragged doll to her chest and wept, the stars softening their color in homage to her lost childhood.