A Winters Tale

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A Winters Tale

Post by Kaldur on Sat Mar 26, 2011 2:42 pm

(Present Day)

Winterspring, a realm of near-perpetual winter, could be considered one of Azeroths’ most hostile and uninviting terrains. Even in the middle of the year its days are short and offer little more than mountains and snow. As the sun goes down the temperatures drop further and even the hardiest of beasts, in their thick full furs, do not forage or hunt for long. Many millennia ago, this land was where Kal’dorei civilisation started afresh after the defeat of the Highborne. Those Kal’dorei quickly moved south and west. Today only a few remain to call this land home.

Kaldur sits in the open night sky. With his bearskin cloak drawn up around his neck he huddles close to the campfire that will be his lifeline tonight. The pile of logs and ash burn and crackle, spitting the occasional cinder onto the soft white snow. Flames leap up from the ground, like a chorus of hands making an offering of life to push back the cold. Kaldur gazes mournfully into the fire. He sits very still, trying hard to conserve his heat, but inside he feels very much like the fire looks.

Kaldur does not have the night completely to himself. A few hundred metres away another fire can be seen. This one burns blue. It is the epicentre to a few ancient and decrepit-looking Elven buildings. Kaldur can hear the inhabitants in the distance, their songs and voices being brought to him on the wind. He makes the occasional glance up towards the blue fire. He knows he will not sit alone for much longer.

Out of the dark, a figure soundlessly approaches from the direction of the blue flame. The figure is a young elven woman, who must be on the verge of adulthood. She wears a white dress and has flowing blue hair. Her shawl is a warm-looking fur but she seems somewhat underdressed for the cold night. She moves gracefully towards Kaldur, as if carried on the wind.

“Greetings traveller,” says the Girl as she approaches. Her face is gentle and warm despite her cold blue skin. Kaldur gives her a smile of recognition, as if she is an old friend. She smiles back but her look does not betray any familiarity.

“Greetings Miss, I am sorry to disturb you this night.” replies Kaldur.

“Traveller why do you sit alone?” asks the girl. “Please come, be amongst my family tonight.”

Kaldur casts a short glance at the buildings and shakes his head. “No. Thank you for your hospitality Miss. But I do not think your family would welcome my company.” He says, with a look of sincerity of his face.

The girl pauses for a moment, considering the lone Elf. “Very well Traveller. If you will not join my family, will you permit me to remain here and keep you company?” she asks. “We get few visitors here in the North and I grow weary of hearing the same old family tales.”

Kaldur nods gently back at the girl. “Thank you, I would welcome your company very much.” He motions a spot beside the fire for the girl to sit. As the girl sits, Kaldur returns his stare to the campfire..

The girl sits and regards the traveller more closely in the firelight. She can see he was clearly handsome once, but looks as though he stopped caring about his appearance many years ago. His hair is knotted and straggled. His features are course and bear a constellation of small scars. Centuries of pain appear to be written on his face. Kaldur does not look at her. She gets the feeling he is avoiding it, as if scared or embarrassed to meet her eye. She waits a minute for him to start a conversation, but when none comes she decides to speak first.

“Have you been to these lands before traveller?” she asks.

“Many times,” replies Kaldur, keeping his eyes on the fire. “And even when I am away, I feel as though my heart resides here.”

“Do you mean to say you were raised here?”

“No. Not that exactly. I first came here 600 years ago and something happened. Something that changed me from one person into another.” Kaldur says mysteriously. “I return here every time I need to remember what that thing was.”

The girl appears interested. She sits up and moves closer to the druid. “That sounds like a story worth hearing. Will you tell me what happened? Please?”

“I will, but it is not a tale for the faint-hearted. Are you sure you want to hear it?” Kaldur asks.

“I do,” the girl replies. Kaldur never removes his gaze from the fire. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, as if trying to draw up courage before he speaks.

--------------------------

“600 years ago, I was a very different Elf to the one sat before you now. I was young back then, only just an adult. I was confident and full of life. Some would say I was charming. I had the brash arrogance of one who believed himself to be superior to the rest of creation, and destined for great things.

“My father had trained me to be a warrior like him. I felt proud to follow in his footsteps. With his help I was accepted into the Guardians of the World Tree, a military order dedicated to the defence of Kal’dorei lands. I came here with them on my first campaign. My combat training had lasted a hundred years, but to that day I had never faced one of our enemies in battle. I was keen to prove myself, and get my first taste of blood.

“The enemy was a group of Highborne who had set up home in our lands. I had never met a Highborne but I knew what they were. They were villains. Elves, much like us, but grown mad and twisted through their reckless use of magic. They had suppressed my people for centuries and their greed for power had nearly ripped the world in half. Here they were back in our land, and I was angry.

“We attacked their village in the dead of night. We set fire to their buildings as we went. None were left alive. Men, women, children, and babies, were killed without distinction. Our casualties were none, and theirs were total - a great outcome.

“I never stopped to think before the battle; never stopped to look. Their village had no defences, no sign of weapons. This wasn’t a settlement to occupy our lands. Only people with nowhere to call their own would choose to live in such desperate surroundings. The enemy were families, and looked no different from my kin. After the battle I saw the truth. We were not there to defend the Kal’dorei way of life, only to destroy another people.

“I left after the battle. I returned home but found I could not look my child or love in the eye. My partner thought I had lost interest in her. Before long she took a new lover and my contact with them ceased. My profession was a joke. I never picked up a sword again. I took up druidism. Before long I found a new role protecting and maintaining the Emerald Dream. And I discovered that if I gave myself over to a feral existence in the Dream, I didn’t even have to think while doing it.

“Centuries passed before I was awoken again. That was 10 years ago, and since that time I have returned here every year, on the anniversary of that battle to remember what I did.

---------------------

“My part in the battle was not great.” Kaldur continues. “I did not fight for long, but long enough to make a kill. A young girl, on the verge of adulthood was my victim. Maybe she had a love already, or a child, I do not know. She was someone’s daughter, someone’s sister. She had her whole life ahead of her.”

Kaldur pauses for a moment. The fire burning in front of him evokes the image of that night. He can still hear the Highborne screams ringing in his ears.

“When I entered her home she ran at me defenceless. I only had to hold my sword out in front of me; she impaled herself on it. The blade struck below her heart. It took her an age to die. All that time she was locked in my gaze. There was something intimate about it. I’ll never forget those eyes.”

Kaldur stops his story as it is interrupted by the girls’ sobs. Tears fall from her pale face. As they hit the ground they evaporate. Like the rest of her form, they fail to make any impression on the snow where she sits.

Kaldur finally breaks his stare from the fire and turns to the girl. Looking at her now he can see through her body and into the dark sky beyond. In 600 years her face and clothes have not changed. She has not aged a single day. He wrestles himself to make eye contact with her. Her eyes are the same pale blue globes that have haunted his soul for centuries.

“Why? Why do you return here year after year?” the Highborne spirit asks through her tears.

“To tell you how sorry I am.” Kaldur replies.

_____________________________________________________
The turtle lives 'twixt plated decks,
That practically conceal its sex.
I think it clever of the turtle,
In such a fix to be so fertile.

Kaldur

Posts : 15
Join date : 2010-05-06
Age : 35
Location : UK

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