Here it is: the last installment to the story. It has been so much fun writing this piece! All the wonderful reviews, and even those readers that didn't leave one, have really kept me going and helped tremendously! Because I made the epilogue kind of short, I've included a little "teaser" for my sequel. I'm hoping to get it live soon; but I'm not going to say any dates because I'm not really sure. I'm working on chapter four right now for the sequel, so I may even publish it tomorrow. Or maybe next week. Hee hee.
I can't thank everyone enough for reading and supporting my writing with your generous words. Thank you so much for the motivation!
And Blizzard owns everything....
Moving through the stoned hallways, the man kept his gaze evenly forward as he passed guards stationed around the fortress. His heavy boots landed on the marble ground, the footsteps bouncing off the walls with a deafening echo. The passage, save the guards, was barren from others; leaving the man to muse in his thoughts in peace as he swiftly moved towards his destination with determination. Turning to the right to cross under an archway, the broken stone jutting out at unnatural angles, the man gave a sigh at the evidence of the unexpected raid just three days prior.
Hearing the faint pounding of mallets in the distance, Warren knew the citizens of Stormwind were furiously trying to rebuild their destroyed city. The harbor had been annihilated from the assault; the fires and destruction rendering the area nearly unusable. Trade would be difficult to execute with the limited use of the waterway; making the reconstruction of the human city all the more challenging. The neighborhoods of Stormwind, while not as devastated as the harbor, had been ravaged from the Horde. Houses were burned to the ground; women and children crying in the streets while they helplessly watched their homes collapse. Following the horrid night, many families found themselves homeless; taking to the inns if they could fit or, in some drastic situations, the streets to sleep. The days following the assault were hot and humid, making the smell of rotting flesh reach all the corners of the city. The Cathedral of Light had been attacked, though the damage was minimal and easily reversible. Walking through the passages of the Keep, Warren gave a sigh at the thought of its state. The hall leading up to the throne room was destroyed; the marbled floor and walls covered in smeared blood and weapon gouges. The throne room had been razed. Blood layered the once white stone, the Alliance flag ripped into pieces. Though restoration was already occurring for the Keep, it would take longer for the emotional scars to mend.
Pausing outside an iron door, Warren stopped to glance at the two soldiers standing guard on either side of it. He had a feeling of déjà vu, having been in a similar situation the day of the elf's trial when he retrieved him. Leaning forward towards the door slightly, the man was relieved to hear silence on the other end. Indeed, it wasn't the case the other day.
Three days ago, Deimos had informed Warren that he needed to be locked up. The man was perplexed at the request; the young elf had saved not only himself but the King of Stormwind from the Horde. Being locked away in a dingy cell was hardly the appreciation the warrior had in mind. However, the young elf seemed adamant on the decision; his begging voice making Warren's skin crawl. Deimos gave the man detailed instructions; to keep him locked in the cell for three days time and to not open the door, no matter the elf said or did. The king also seemed rather uncomfortable with the strange request; his skeptical and questioning eyes had encouraged the elf to enlighten them on the reason. Deimos, shame clouding his face, had told the men that he needed to detoxify his body from the demon blood that made his addiction go mad. Warren, still not sold on the idea of locking the paladin away in a cell, had suggested that he simply sit in his room at the house for three days. The young elf had shaken his head furiously, his green eyes flashing with warning. He needed a fortified room; and one where his begs wouldn't tempt someone to open the door. However much reluctant the man was, Warren had heeded to the elf's request. Placing only water in the grimy cell with Deimos, the warrior had watched the soldiers turn the key in the padlock with disappointment. He had hoped to offer the young elf a more appreciative gesture for his noble actions; not treat him like a criminal. The warrior had returned the second day of the elf's isolation, hoping that perhaps three days was an exaggerated timeframe. The elf was right though. When he heard Deimos' crying pleas for something to help his hurting addiction, the man had to quickly leave. Not sure if it was guilt or simple empathy towards the young elf, Warren was unable to stand on the other side of the iron door listening to the Sin'dorei beg in Thalassian. He felt his chest cavity sink at the memory of Deimos' yells for help, claiming he was going to perish without mana.
Thankful that the current situation was strikingly different, the warrior gave a grateful sigh. He briefly wondered if perhaps the elf had been wrong in the three day request; perhaps needing more time. However, he figured the Sin'dorei knew his culture and people better than a human, and would respect the rules Deimos told him. Nodding to the guards standing on each side of the cell door, Warren gave a small nod of his head. Interpreting the gesture, one of the soldiers moved forward to unlock the door. The key turning in the lock echoed off the walls, filling the silent room with its noise. The door opening with a creak, the warrior hesitantly stuck his head inside the room; his hand instinctively falling on the hilt of his sword resting on his hips.
Sitting on the thin mattress on the other side of the small cell was Deimos. Barefoot and shirtless, he sat cross legged in a meditation pose, his arms resting lightly on his knees. His blonde hair was messy, his face and chest dirty. Closed lids slowly opening to inspect the new sound, Warren was greeted with the familiar unnatural green eyes meeting his brown ones. The young elf's face was calm and serene; contrasting to the yells and screams he emitted only a day ago.
Unsure how to interpret the paladin's posture and expression, Warren reluctantly entered the cell; keeping a ready hand on his weapon. He had never seen a blood elf detoxify so he was unsure what to expect from the paladin. After roaming his eyes on the elf's body for any self-inflicted injuries, the warrior turned his gaze to the pile of empty water jugs on the side.
"I drank all the water my first day."
Raising a curious eyebrow, Warren shifted his weight on his feet while he regarded the young elf. Deimos continued sitting on the mattress, he kept his gaze on the man. Watching the Sin'dorei swallow hard, the man gave a sigh. "You must be thirsty. Are you done with your… time out?"
Smirking at the word usage, Deimos pulled himself to shaky feet. Scratching the nape of his neck in thought, the young elf glanced around the cell. "I think so. I don't honestly know though. I've never had to detoxify before."
Crossing his arms over his chest, the man cocked his head to the side in irritation. "So you don't even know if this actually worked?"
Shrugging sheepishly at the man's question, the young elf licked his lips; trying to get the needed moisture to his mouth. "I've heard of other blood elves doing it."
Rolling his eyes at the boy's response Warren heaved an impatient sigh as he watched Deimos inspect the stoned floor with his eyes. "Well, how do you feel? You're no longer yelling for mana so that's a good sign, right?"
Grinning at the sarcastic comment from the warrior, the elf nodded. "I feel pretty good. Worn and thirsty but level headed."
Nodding at the young elf, Warren turned on his heels towards the door. He gave a hand gesture towards the open doorway to the elf. "Good enough for me. We'll get you some water and a bath. As much as I'm sure you want to sleep, the king requests an audience with you. If you want, I can see if he would see you tomorrow instead."
His bare feet not making a sound against the marbled flooring, Deimos gave a sigh of relief as he exited the cell. He longed for fresh air and liquid in this quenched throat, his limbs begging to be stretched and used. Glancing at the guards standing dutifully on each side of the iron door, their gazes blank and unreadable, Deimos gave a small wave and smirk to them. "Sorry for all the yelling, boys."
The guards promptly ignored the young elf's comment, their expressions not alluding to even acknowledging him. Instead, they kept their gazes fixed forward. Shaking his head the lack of reaction, Deimos gave a deep sigh as he turned to the walking man beside him. They maneuvered through the stoned passageways, Warren giving a small tap on the elf if he took a wrong turn. "No, I can see the king today. Just… let me get something to drink."
Lifting a surprised brow up at the elf's submissive attitude, Warren skeptically eyed him while they turned down another corridor. "Are you sure? You don't want to bathe first?"
Shrugging at the man while he ran a hand through his cropped hair, the paladin shook his head. "Doesn't really matter to me. The sooner we can get it over with, the faster I can get some decent sleep."
Mutely nodding in response, the warrior began to direct their movements through the Keep towards the kings meeting room. Warren knew, based on the hour, the sovereign was likely in his advisors meeting. He was unsure what the king wanted to discuss with the young elf, but the man assumed it pertained to the Horde's attack three days ago and Deimos' actions. The two continued walking through the stoned fortress in silence, each having thoughts running through their minds.
Pausing outside two identical walnut doors, Warren nodded a greeting to the guards standing with weapons drawn, on each side. They returned the salutation, their grips on the swords never faltering. Turning his eyes to the paladin, Warren nodded at a stoned bench against the wall. "I'll check if the king's ready to see you. Take a seat and I'll have someone bring you some water."
His own gaze resting on the bench, Deimos gave a small nod as he moved towards it. He wasn't sure how long the meeting would take, nor did he care, the only prospect he looked forward to was sleeping and getting a decent meal. After being locked in the cell for three days with only water, the elf felt his stomach protest from the lack of nourishment. His head ached from hunger pains; the sound of the walnut doors slamming shut only agitating the pain behind his eyes worse.
Turning his head, Deimos watched a young page emerge from the shut doors, a glass of liquid in hand. Hesitantly, the boy approached the elf with great reluctance. Chewing the bottom of his lip, the human slowly approached the amused Sin'dorei.
"Here you go," the boy addressed the elf, extending his hand holding the glass forward. "Commander Steele said to give this to you."
Grinning at the nervous page, Deimos accepted the cold glass thankfully. "Tell him I say, 'thank you.'"
Relieved when the elf retrieved the glass from his clutches, the boy turned on his heels and retreated back into the closed doors. Smirking at the anxious page, Deimos downed the cool water; reveling in the moisture that pleasured his dry throat.
Glancing around the empty passage, Deimos leaned his elbows forward on his bent knees as he replayed the past events in his mind. The Horde had been forced to retreat; the reinforcements cutting their numbers down swiftly. Again, a failed attempt on his life by the faction. This time, however, it had involved more than simply trolls. Tauren, undead, and orc had taken up arms against the paladin; alluding to the notion that the rest of the Horde was involved in the assassination on his leader. However, the raid three nights ago was evidence that Lor'themar wasn't killed yet; giving the young elf a small glimmer of hope for his people.
Hearing the open of a door, Deimos lifted his head to meet the passive stare from Warren. The man's face was blank, not offering any clue to the reason regarding the meeting. Holding the door open by one arm, the warrior gave a beckoning gesture with the other to the young elf. With a sigh, the elf rose to his feet to comply with the older man. Reaching Warren, Deimos was surprised when the man didn't budge from his spot in doorway. His brown eyes roamed the young elf's face, a grin spreading on his features.
"You keep surprising me, Deimos." The man began, his eyes taking in the elf's cocked head to the side in bewilderment. "And honestly, I think you surprise yourself."
Unsure of how to respond to the cryptic message, the young elf narrowed his eyes at the older man in confusion, shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other. The man chuckled at the fidgeting boy, pushing the door open wider to allow Deimos room to enter. "The king will see you now."
Nodding and sending a skeptical look at the man, Deimos was surprised when Warren stood holding the door while he walked into the room. The man made no movement to follow, causing the elf to advance alone. Tearing his gaze away from the stationary warrior at the door, the paladin turned his head at the inhabitants making up the room. There were three tiers to the room, tables set up in an arch on each level with diplomats, advisors, and officers sitting behind them. At the middle facing Deimos was the king, sitting alone. Immediately, the young elf felt all the attention in the room narrow in on him; the hair on the back of his neck standing up in nervousness. Suddenly, Deimos regretted dismissing the offer for a bath; his left arm moving across his bare chest to clasp onto his right bicep in an attempt to be modest. Feeling naked and out of place in the room decorated with Alliance heroes and officers, the elf reluctantly met the king's gaze as a small push on his back encouraged him to walk further into the room.
His green eyes meeting the king's steel ones, Deimos watched as a small grin spread across his face. Watching with astonishment as the king pushed his chair out from under him, the young elf squinted his eyes in confusion as Wrynn stood to his feet. The advisors and officers, their expressions calm and tranquil, also followed the same fashion; their gazes locked on the elf's bewildered face. Hesitantly moving forward, Deimos had to focus on the movement of walking, the strange spectacle putting him on edge. Glancing at several of the faces looking down at him, the paladin was taken back as those meeting his gaze tilted their heads forward in a respectful manner. Realization dawning on him at what was going on, the young elf whipped his head around to glance at Warren. Leaning up against the door, arms crossed over his chest, the man had an amused grin on his face and a mirthful glint in his eyes. Reaching the elevated king, Deimos turned his attention to the sovereign as he took his seat; the other standing figures following shortly after. He had been paid a sign of respect by the Alliance.
"Deimos Ares'mar," the king's baritone voice bellowed down to the young elf, who turned questioning eyes to the sovereign. "It wasn't long ago that you were in this same position during your trial." Pausing to glance behind the elf standing before him, Wrynn gave a quick smile to the figure waiting at the back of the room. "We all naturally assumed you would be given a death sentence for your crimes; you being a Horde soldier. But we were wrong."
"You surprised us all by sacrificing your escape plan to save my son, the crowned prince of Stormwind. You put your own life at stake to ensure his safety. As a king of a nation, I found your actions peculiar but admirable. As a father, I was impressed and forever in your debt for my son's life."
Shifting nervously from one foot to the other, Deimos darted his eyes around the room. The calm expressions watching him didn't waver, their interested gazes holding his panicky one. Swallowing hard at not knowing where the king's speech was headed, the boy turned his attention back to Wrynn.
The sovereign gave a tight smile. "I altered your sentence to reflect your honorable actions for my son's life. You accepted them, however reluctant you were with the terms, which I'm sure you figured out the reason for the length of the city arrest. I had assumed the three months would pass by without any problems; but I was wrong."
"You accepted Warren's hospitality, with some bumps in the road of course; and even made friends with Alliance members. You never tried to escape once, though I don't doubt you were planning something. You complied with the rules, most of the time, to the surprise of many of us."
Pausing to inspect the curious expression on the elf's face, the king continued. "Then, three nights ago, you bypassed all previous prejudices and judgment we had on you. You took up arms against your own faction, who was trying to kill you, but you didn't capitalize on the situation. Again, you sacrificed your chance for escape to fight side by side Alliance members. You saved a roomful of soldiers, including myself, by taking part of a taboo ritual in your culture, making yourself vulnerable."
The sovereign roamed his steel gaze over the elf's blank expression as he listened to the speech. "You have, yet again, surprised me, Deimos. And now, it's time for me to show my gratitude back to you."
Brows together in confusion, the young elf fidgeted his weight from one foot to the other. A speech of this caliber was the least thing he expected; a quick 'thank you' perhaps, but nothing of pomp. Whipping his head to the back of the room, Deimos shared a quick glance with Warren. The man had a slightly different expression; he still had a small grin but his eyes were different. Losing their mirthful appearance, the brown orbs swirled with an emotion Deimos longed to see directed at him his entire life; proudness.
"It has become aware to me that the Horde is in the midst of alienating your race from the faction; seeking to destroy your people from the inside out. While I initially wished to take advantage of a civil war from the Horde, I've had a… change of heart." Grinning at the nervous look in the elf's eyes, Wrynn leaned forward on his elbows.
"I, King Varian Wrynn of Stormwind, hereby pardon you, Deimos Ares'mar, of your offenses that we found you guilty for previously. You're sentencing has been revoked; your name has been cleared. As of this hour, you are a free elf."
Widening his green eyes in surprise at the man's words, Deimos darted his eyes around the room; looking for any expressions alluding to trickery. Not finding any, he was rewarded with calm and amused eyes looking back to him. Turning around with speed, the young elf sent surprised eyes at Warren. Looking back to the elf, the older man gave a smirk at the boy's reaction. Brows together in confusion, the Sin'dorei turned his attention back to the king. "Th-thank you. I don't know what to say."
Chuckling at the young elf's reaction, the king eyed a piece of parchment in front of him, his eyes glazed with thought. "Go back to Silvermoon City, Deimos. Warn Lor'themar about the Horde."
An excited smile going across his fair features, Deimos felt a surge of emotions rush his body. He wanted to say and do so many things; though his mind couldn't seem to form the words. "When can I leave?"
Eyebrows up, the king leaned back in his chair while crossing his arms over his chest in amusement. "Anytime you want. You're no longer a prisoner here. I would suggest getting some rest first though; Silvermoon is quite the distance from here; even with a gryphon."
Brows together, the paladin regarded the man with a confused look. "Gryphon?"
His grin turning into a smile, the king leaned forward, his eyes inspecting two envelopes resting on the oak table in front of him. "Yes. We're going to give you a gryphon to help with part of the trip. Though you can't take it the entire way to Quel'Thalas, it should make the trip significantly shorter than horseback."
His green eyes boring into the steel gray ones from the king, Deimos gave a respectful tilt of his head to the sovereign. "Thank you. I'll leave tomorrow morning."
Nodding his head at the response, the king hesitantly lifted the two closed envelopes in front of him. He moved his gaze from the addressed envelopes to the eager and thrilled elf in front of him. "I want you to bring these back with you. One is from Matheus Williams; describing the meeting of the trolls in the Burning Steppes. The other is for Lor'themar Theron." The king paused, placing both envelopes back on the polished wood, a small smile on his face. "The Sin'dorei were once aligned with the Alliance, our races fighting next to each other with ease; very similar to your actions three days ago. The Alliance is willing to accept the Sin'dorei back into our faction, with some negotiations of course."
The smile still on his face, Deimos nodded his head in thought, digesting the king's words. The meeting had taken a very strange turn; though he couldn't say that he was particularly upset with the outcome. The thought of joining the Alliance seemed rather foreign and odd to the young elf. However, his mind was running a mile a second; the thought of returning to Silvermoon dominating his thoughts. He would finally be able to go home; inform his people of the impending attack. Turning around to spare a quick glance at Warren, Deimos was rewarded with a grin from the older man; his eyes still boring the same proud look to them. Averting his green eyes downcast, the young elf couldn't help the small feeling of loneliness at the prospect of leaving the human city. Quickly disregarding the strange emotion, the paladin passed it off as still being taken by surprise from the unexpected news.
"So what's the first thing you're going to do when you get home?"
Smiling at the question from the rogue, Deimos smirked at the obvious answer while taking a small sip out of the brown liquid in his glass. "I'm going straight to Sunfury Spire to talk to Lor'themar."
Sitting in the Pig and Whistle Tavern, Matheus had declared that the young elf needed 'going away' drinks; a small memory for the Sin'dorei after he left. However much Warren disagreed with the idea, the rogue was adamant on finding some reason to drink heavily; Deimos' leaving being the most logical and convenient. Not being allowed to order a glass of wine, the paladin was forced to toast his pardoning and departure with bourbon. The night was growing late, the usual inhabitants leaving half sober as they stumbled into the streets. Warren, regardless of his discomfort in the situation, had reluctantly forced himself to stay.
Rolling his eyes at the young elf, Matheus leaned back in his chair. "Well, yeah. I mean after that."
Shrugging while he inspected the glass in his hands, Deimos offered the man a small smile. "I don't really know. Probably get a decent meal for the first time in months..."
Lifting an unamused brow, Warren sighed at the boy. "Decent, huh? Hey, we could have easily put you back on the Stockades diet. A slice of bread and water a day sounds reasonable to me."
Smirking at the man's sarcasm, the young elf shrugged again. "To be honest, I haven't really given it much thought."
Watching the rogue with amazement as he gulped down the glass of booze, Warren shook his head at the man. He would no doubt be stumbling out of the tavern. "Visit with family? Tell your father what a terrible host I am?"
Silently chuckling at the comment, Deimos gave a small shake of his head. "He's most likely not there. He's probably still in Northrend. I suppose I can always meet up with the battalion there. If not, guess I've got the house to myself till he returns."
Grinning ear to ear at the paladin, Matheus leaned in closer to him. The rogue's movements became sloppy and his breath reeked of alcohol. Deimos shared an amused look with Warren as he leaned away from Matheus. "Is it a big house? You're old man's out of town; it's the perfect opportunity for a welcoming party for yourself."
Lifting an amused brow at the slurred words, Deimos blinked at the man. "Right. Then a priest would have to resurrect my dead body so my father could kill me a second time. No thanks." Pausing while he eyed the tavern, Deimos gave a small shrug. "I'll probably leave for Northrend. Try to meet up with the company."
Smirking as he watched Matheus gesture to a barmaid for another round, Warren gave a disbelieving shake of his head. Eyeing the still half filled glass in front of the paladin, the older man crossed his arms over his chest while he leaned back in his wooden seat. "What do you think will happen with your race? Think they'll join the Alliance?"
Shaking his head in thought, the young elf gave the older man perplexed look. "Definitely won't stay Horde, that's for sure. Relations were forced as it was. But who knows? Maybe."
Nodding, the warrior allowed his gaze to linger on the paladins face for several beats; Matheus' intoxicated form swaying on the other side of the table. "It wasn't that long ago that we were aligned together. Many of my friends were Sin'dorei at one point. I would gladly accept the race again."
Grinning at the man's words, Deimos swirled the vile liquid in the glass. "Do you think we'll see each other again?"
Brows together in thought, Warren gave a small sigh; a poignant smile going across his face. "Most likely not. Even if your race joins the Alliance, I doubt our paths will cross. Your company is based in Silvermoon; mine is here."
"Then that's another reason to drink more! C'mon, Kid. You're glass is still filled and we've got another round coming up."
Silently laughing at the drunken rogue, Deimos glanced down at the glass in question. True, the liquid that filled it was vile and disgusting; his throat burning when he tried to swallow it. But still, the paladin found himself actually happy to comply with Matheus' wishes ; his head leaning back while he downed the repulsive alcohol. His face grimacing and eyes watering while the burning booze traveled down his throat, the young elf was aware of the laughs from the humans sitting next to him. Smirking at his own inability to drink the strong bourbon, Deimos felt a foreign emotion in him; similar to the one at the Keep from earlier that day. Though he wished to return to his home city, a small part of him longed to stay as he was; laughing over drinks with friends. Such a custom was never done in Silvermoon; the paladin filling most of his time with training and practicing. Being able to release and laugh was an addictive sensation; one which tore his emotions and thoughts in odd ways. Shaking his head, the Sin'dorei passed it off as the alcohol affecting his system. For a blood elf to wish to stay in a human city was ridiculous; the booze must have been the product of such thoughts.
"The gryphon can only take you as far as Arathi Highlands. You'll land at Refuge Point; an Alliance outpost. Show Captain Nials the letter from the king to make sure she doesn't kill you. From there, you'll have to travel horseback the rest of the way. There should be horses for you to borrow at Arathi."
"I can summon my charger."
Nodding at the young elf standing beside the sitting gryphon, Warren eyed the large sword on the paladin's back. The sun had only just begun to grace the city with its glorious rays, the dew on the grass shimmering under its brilliance. Deimos had promptly packed a small backpack of supplies; much of which Warren insisted he take along: potions, an overabundance of water and fel ore, and wrapped up rations of food. Giving the young elf a plated chest piece in case of any altercations, the older man was surprised at the ferocity the paladin displayed when donning the armor. He had only seen the boy decorated in plate once; when they had initially met at the Burning Steppes. "From Arathi, you'll have to travel up through the Eastern Plaguelands to Quel'Thalas alone." Pausing to take a deep breath, Warren placed a strong hand on the boy's shoulder, his eyes boring into the anxious green ones looking back at him. "Be extremely careful. Make sure to stop at Light's Hope Chapel to rest and replenish any supplies you may need. But once done there, travel fast and stay on the roads. I know there are short cuts off the main roads but, for once in your life, try not to be arrogant and take them. You don't stand a chance against a horde of soldiers from the Scourge."
Rolling his eyes at the older man's stern tone, Deimos crossed his arms over his plated chest with a cocky smile. "C'mon, Old School, are you really lecturing me right now?"
Pursing his lips at the egotistical attitude, Warren gave an aggravated sigh. "I'm serious, Deimos. Do not try anything brash." Pausing to rub a hand over his tired face, the warrior continued. "From there you should be fine with getting back to Silvermoon City. Try to stay away from Horde aligned cities or outposts. I doubt they've gone public with trying to wipe out your race but don't take any chances."
Impatiently nodding at the man, Deimos shifted on his feet eagerly; a smirk on his face. "If you keep going on like this I'm not going to make it to Arathi until tomorrow."
Rolling his eyes at the keenness in the boy's voice, Warren opened his mouth to commence his speech to the Sin'dorei. A small blur on the side of his vision caught his attention, his head turning to see a miniature figure wrap its arms around Deimo's legs. Glancing at the young elf, the older man smirked at the awkward and surprised expression go across the paladin's face.
"Deimos! I-I was vexed if I would be able to exchange valedictions before your most unpleasant departure. I'm going to very much miss your presence, no matter how pessimistic and cynical it is!"
Brows up in utter shock at the small gnome that attached itself to his legs, sobbing on his leathered pants, Deimos hesitantly patted her back. Glancing at the older man's amused face, the young elf was completely at a loss for what she said to him. "Lena, um, I'll miss you too."
"She's been begging to come say good bye all morning."
Whipping his head up at the new voice, Deimos' curious green eyes met glowing blue ones; the high elf approaching the gryphon platform with a very reluctant and worn looking Matheus. A tight smile on her face, Elsharin brushed a loose strand of blonde hair out of her face as she stopped in front of the questioning blood elf; his posture immediately tensing at the close proximity. Lena, feeling the new presence behind her, turned her water-filled eyes upwards, glancing between Deimos and Elsharin.
Her hands hanging limply against her purple and white robe, the mage trainer gave a small sigh, her usually solemn expression softening. "I heard what you did at the Keep." Pausing as the paladin cocked his head to the side questioningly, the high elf grinned at him. "Maybe I was wrong about you."
Chuckling at the woman, the Sin'dorei crossed his arms over his chest arrogantly. "Bet it was torture saying that."
Promptly ignoring Deimos' comment, Elsharin slowly leaned forward; wrapping her arms around his broad shoulders into an embrace. "Be safe."
Brows together in confusion at the high elf's odd and friendly behavior, the paladin hesitantly returned the enduring hug; his arms cautiously enclosing her smaller form. "I always am."
Breaking the embrace, the high elf spared a quick glance at Warren; who stood on the side with an entertained smile on his face. Lena, still utterly confused, darted her eyes between her trainer and the blood elf; her wide eyes filling with water yet again.
"Alright, Kid. Time to say good bye to me. If you even think about hugging me though, I'll kill you."
Smirking as the hung over and miserable rogue stepped forward, Deimos took in Matheus' blood shot eyes and green hue to his cheeks. "Bad hang over?"
Shrugging with a wave of his hand, Matheus scratched the nape of his neck. "Nothing I'm not used to." Pausing, the man eyed the younger elf's amused face; his own expression cracking into a smile. "Alright, Kid. Come here."
Chuckling as Matheus pulled him into a sloppy hug, Deimos had to stop himself from gagging at the smell of booze still lingering on the rogue's body. "You know, I'm still kind of sorry about the whole Burning Steppes-poisoning-you thing."
Pulling away from the rogue, the young elf gave a small smile at the man. "I'm not."
Smirking knowingly at the elf, Matheus gave a sigh as he clamped a hand on his shoulder. "If you learned anything in these past couple months in Stormwind from me, it's about women. So, you have to promise me one thing, kid; that you'll finally get laid and stop being a virgin."
Immediately, Deimos felt his cheeks burn with embarrassment; his eyes darting to Elsharin. A small smirk on her face, she lifted an amused brow. Silently cursing the rogue, the paladin turned his attention back to the man with a sigh. "I wish you the best of the luck with all your… girlfriends."
"Deimos, you better get going. You've got a long journey ahead of you."
Turning his gaze to Warren, the older man moved in front of the rogue; who promptly leaned against a stoned wall in exhaustion. Though the warrior had a blank expression on his face, his eyes gave away the saddened feelings inside of him. Grinning tightly at the elf, Warren allowed his eyes to roam the paladin's face. The elf's eyes still held the anxious and impatience swirl to them; nearly covering up the affecting emotions. Sighing, the older man thought back to when he first saw the unnatural green eyes look at him; they held much anger and contempt during their first meetings. It was strange and eerie how fate had twisted their destinies so; the green eyes no longer harboring ill-feelings towards him but instead warm and kind emotions. He remembered their encounters in the Stockades; the arrogant and cocky smile that seemed to always know how to get on his nerves. The man had thought he made a mistake when offering to house the blood elf; but fate again had a different idea in mind. The warrior had grown fond of having a companion in the dwelling; though the brash attitude from the boy had its moments.
His grin turning into a smile, Warren pulled Deimos into a tight hug; utterly surprised when the young elf returned the embrace with vigor. A small voice encouraged the older man to increase the hold. "Thank you, Warren. For everything."
Pulling away, the warrior smiled gently at the elf, his eyes taking in the saddened green eyes looking back at him. "You're a good kid, Deimos, and one hell of a soldier. Silvermoon is lucky to have you. You are always welcome here." Pausing to glance at the waiting gryphon, who fidgeted impatiently, Warren turned his eyes back to the young elf. "You better get going. Al diel shala." (Safe travels)
His eyes lingering on the man's face, Deimos tore his gaze away from him as he picked up the bag resting beside the winged animal. Sighing while placing it on his back, the young elf turned to glance at the waiting and somber faces watching him. Lena stood close to Elsharin's legs, her lips quivering as sobs racked her small body. The high elf kept sending concerned glances towards the gnome, her gaze occasionally looking up to meet Deimos' with a small smile. Leaning against the stoned wall, Matheus had his arms crossed while he gave the elf a half grin; his eyes showing his sorrow at the leaving paladin. Standing with his arms hanging limply at his sides, Warren's face was troubled; a sad smile on his face.
Swinging his leg over the large gryphon, Deimos sent a smile to those watching him on the platform. An unfamiliar sensation swelled in his chest, the same that was at the Keep and tavern. In two months the paladin was able to form more companionships than he was ever able to his entire life in Silvermoon. He laughed more times in the past eight weeks than he did in the twenty years. The emotions building up, Deimos was finally able to pinpoint them; regret and grief. While he longed to warn his people of the impending attack, he couldn't quell the feelings of regret at leaving the human city. Feeling his eyes tingle, the young elf knew that if he was going to leave, he had to do so soon; and not look back.
"We'll have Williams rendezvous with Neilson in Valiance Keep. From there, they can travel to Wintergrasp for the reconnaissance."
"Perhaps we should have a caravan journey with them to the border. They'll most likely run into resistance along the way. Reinforcements can ensure their survival to the drop point."
Sighing at Marcus Jonathon's suggestion, Warren leaned forward as he eyed the large map of Northrend on the table. Discussions and reports were being conducted regarding the approaching reconnaissance assignment that Matheus was to perform with a fellow soldier. Running a hand down his tired face, the warrior was growing tired of the mission already. The meeting had commenced at early dawn; recesses and breaks were kept to a minimum to ensure a speedy process. Unfortunately, the officers and king couldn't seem to agree on key aspects to the operation; the cause of the lengthy conference.
It had been nearly one month since Deimos' departure; and not a word from Silvermoon had reached the human city. It was made public that the Sin'dorei had declared themselves no longer part of the Horde, the race seemingly going neutral; giving evidence that the paladin had made it to Quel'Thalas safely and warned his people. While the king contemplated sending another letter to the leader of the blood elves, his council advised to wait several months before hailing Lor'themar again.
"No, they're both rogues; they should have no qualms crossing the border unnoticed. A caravan would just needlessly draw attention to them. I don't want to risk the mission."
Nodding at the man, Marcus sent a quick glance at the king, who also nodded in understanding. "I'd like to deploy the rogues early next month. The recon should only take four to five weeks at most for them to complete. Is that time frame good for Williams?"
Crossing his arms over his chest, Warren gave a small nod of his head. "That's fine. I'm not moving the company for some time so his availability is vast."
Opening his mouth to reply, the general was cut off when the closed walnut door to the windowless meeting room burst open. All the heads whipped around to take in the panting guard gripping the door frame; the officers dutifully pulling their weapons from their sheathes in anticipation for a brawl. Standing up from his seat shakily, the king pursed his lips in preparation for the guard's ill news.
Swallowing hard while futilely trying to catch his breath, the soldier eyed the weapons drawn from the officers. "My king, the blood elves have sent an ambassador seeking a council with you."
Brows up in surprise at the words, Wrynn glanced uneasily at the officers around him. Warren, though allowing his posture to relax considerably, kept his hand gripping the sword's hilt. Marcus seemed to strengthen his clasp on his own weapon, his eyes roaming the king's face. "Your highness, we haven't received word from the blood elves regarding a diplomat; how do we know this isn't some sort of ploy?"
Rolling his eyes at the man, Warren answered before the sovereign had the chance to. "What benefit would the Sin'dorei get from that? They're neutral as it is."
Growling in frustration at the warrior, Marcus set his jaw at the man. "You'd be foolish to disregard such possibilities, Steele."
"Men," Wrynn began, moving from his position at the head of the table to towards the confused soldier in the doorway. "You will accompany me to welcome the ambassador; just in case there is such a scheme."
His hardened gaze challenging Marcus to attempt to begin another quarrel, Warren nodded at the sovereign. Hand still gripping the sword, the warrior followed Wrynn and a cluster of soldiers out of the meeting room. Silently, the man pondered what the diplomat was sent to discuss. Perhaps the Sin'dorei wasn't going to accept their offer to join the Alliance; the ambassador simply coming to tell them the answer in person. Would the diplomat be rude and discourteous to the humans? Similar to the older generations of humans, adult elves were very much aware of the prejudices the two races had against each other; more so the humans against the Sin'dorei. Still, there were ill-feelings between the two races.
"He's coming to the Keep now."
Sighing at the soldiers warning, Warren figured the human's would respond as much to the ambassador. Deimos' presence in the city was difficult enough; the main reason for him having to have a guard at all times. To see a blood elf waltz into the city walls must have been quite the spectacle for the citizens to see. Running his hand over his face, the other still gripping his weapon, Warren prayed to the Light that whatever diplomat the Sin'dorei sent wouldn't be difficult in dealing with.
Pausing at the entrance to the fortress, Warren instinctively squinted his eyes at the setting sun on the far horizon; the intense rays rendering him nearly blind. In the distance, the man could vaguely make out the silhouette of a tall figure walking towards the Keep and a handful of soldiers escorting the individual with swords drawn. Squinting further, Warren was able to make out a weapon resting on the ambassador's back; though the offending sunlight hindered his ability to make out what type it was. Sending a questioning gaze at the king standing beside him, the warrior was rewarded with seeing an amused smile on Wrynn's face. Bringing his brows together in confusion at the odd behavior from his sovereign, the warrior turned his attention back at the approaching diplomat. The figure stepping a stretching shadow from a nearby building, Warren felt a laugh leave his lips as he was finally able to get a glance at the ambassador's face.
Reaching the small group of officers and the king at the entrance of the Keep, Deimos gave a wide smile. Motioning to the Stormwind guards still encircling him with weapons drawn, he addressed the humans. "So, is this the welcome a diplomat gets?"
Shaking his head in disbelief, Warren eyed the young elf in front of him. His clothes were a mess, his blonde hair riddled with dirt and debris. The long sword resting on his back was had dried blood on the edges, giving evidence to the long trek the paladin took. Lifting an amused brow at the elf, Warren gave him a smirk. "You're the ambassador? You look like shit."
Rolling his eyes at the man, Deimos crossed his arms over his chest; the smile on his face never faltering. "It's nice to see you too, Old School. I'll have you know I rode the entire way here." Eyes widening as he remembered his purpose, the young elf pulled a crumpled up envelope from his inner pocket. Chewing his lower lip, the elf futilely tried to flatten out the crinkles and creases on the important package. Satisfied, Deimos thrust envelope towards Wrynn. "Here. This is from Lor'themar."
"You have got to be the worst diplomat ever."
Rolling his eyes at Warren's comment, Deimos sheepishly scratched the back of his head as the king inspected the abused package between his fingertips. "Yeah, sorry about the, uh, state it's in. At least it dried in time."
Lifting an amused brow at the young elf, the sovereign grinned as he opened the sealed envelope. "I'm sure I'll be able to decipher the message somehow."
"If not, I can always tell you. Lor'themar already told me what it says."
The group stood in silence as the sovereign scanned the pages of parchment in his hands; his eyes furiously examining the writing. Warren kept sending quick glances at the young elf; who was more interested in pulling various debris out of his hair.
Sighing heavily, the sovereign glanced back up at Deimos; who inspected a leaf in his fingertips that once rested in his blonde locks. "This says that you're the assigned ambassador from Silvermoon."
Tossing the leaf to the side, the young elf nodded. "Yeah." Pausing while he shifted from one foot to the other nervously, Deimos gave an uneasily sigh. "What does that mean exactly?"
Smirking at the elf, the king folded up the pieces of parchment. "It means you reside here until you step down, or," pausing while his ran his eyes up and down the filthy elf, the sovereign gave a small sigh, "until they assign a more… politically-savvy ambassador."
Nodding at the king, Deimos gave a small grin. "Works for me." Turning to Warren, he offered the warrior a cocky smile. "What do you say, Old School? Mind if I shack up in your house again?"
"Actually," Wrynn began before the warrior could answer, "we set up housing for all of the ambassadors in the Keep."
Raising his hand to pause the king, Warren gave a small shake of his head. "Unless you want to sabotage our relations with the other races, you don't want him in the Keep; believe me. I'll take him."
Nodding at the warrior, the king turned back to Deimos; hesitantly picking the right words. "The letter says that the Sin'dorei wish to open negotiations with the Alliance to possibly unite. Do you know if they'll be setting up any dates for a possible conference?"
Shaking his head, Deimos shrugged. "Not that I know of, sir. They didn't mention anything to me."
Glancing down at the folded pieces of parchment and ripped opened envelope, the king gave a small smile. The thought of the blood elves joining them, had it been six months prior, would have sounded ludicrous and absurd. The prejudices and hate between the races ran strong; the two taking up arms against each other. But now, the prospect of forging a union with the race seemed feasible and rather compelling. Never would the sovereign had expected that such a sequence of events would lead to a new race joining the faction. Ironically and strangely, it began with the trolls and one simple, young elf overhearing the plan of treason.
Because you all are such amazing readers, I've included a little excerpt from chapter one in my sequel. I don't want to give away anything but this story focuses a lot more on Deimos' personal life and his struggles. It's darker and more emotional than the first but, from what my editor tells me, it's better. I hope everyone likes it!
Smiling at the bright sun that began to spread its rays over the landscape, Warren Steele hoped the bright weather would lift the spirits of his battalion. Having not seen action in months, he knew the soldiers were getting restless; which almost always spelled disaster in the barracks and practice. Drills and duels became sloppy, their movements lethargic from the lack of exercise. However, the older man hoped the increase in duration on the practice fields would help remedy the problem. Readjusting the plate armor resting over his chest, the warrior moved under a stoned archway towards the forested training grounds.
Though the day was being graced with the sun's light, the late fall wasn't kind to the citizens of Stormwind. The freezing temperatures froze the morning dew to the blades of grass, frost covering most of the forest. Thankfully, the warrior knew the drills would be sufficient to keep the soldiers warm through the day; fully expecting to see members of his battalion shedding clothing despite the frigid temperatures. Grinning to himself, the warrior looked forward to the drills he had in mind for the company.
Reaching the open forested space, Warren glanced at the multiple lines of soldiers standing in wait for their commanding officer. A thick aisle was created in the middle of the area, rows of individuals on each side of the walkway facing it. A proud smile spreading across his face, the commander glanced at the two lieutenants waiting patiently in the middle of the aisle before gazing at the nearly two hundred standing soldiers. Pets stood dutifully next to hunters, their eyes focused on their masters' face in wait for a command. Warlocks talked in hushed whispers to waiting minions, while warriors stood stoic faced.
Walking forward, all the attention was drawn to the older man making his way down the formed path. Immediately, the soldiers stood upright, their postures tensing and hands going up to their foreheads in a respectful salute. The waiting lieutenant's gave a slight tilt of their heads at his presence, their faces blank and unreadable. Readjusting his sword resting on his hip, Warren allowed his eyes to scan the silent opening in the forest while he walked down the aisle. Taking in the uniformed stance of the soldiers, the commander felt his brows go together and a heavy sigh leave his lips at a lone individual in the front row.
Stopping his walking at the blood elf, Warren tilted his head in impatience at the boy. Arms defiantly crossed over his naked chest, the elf wore nothing save a towel wrapped around his hips, a golden earring in his left pointed ear, and a ruby pendant on a chain around his neck. His posture was leaned to one side, annoyance and infuriation seeping from his stance. His jaw was clenched in anger, his shoulders unable to hide the shivers that raked his body.
"Ares'mar," Warren began, sighing as rage filled green eyes met his inquisitive brown ones. "I'm interested to see how you plan on practicing in only a towel."
A quiet chuckle next to the elf caused both Warren and Deimos to whip their heads at the man standing beside the paladin. Matheus Williams, rogue and friend of the Sin'dorei, quickly turned the laugh into a cough; turning his head as he brought a hand up to conceal the mirth on his face. Gritting his teeth at the lack of support from his friend, the young elf turned his eyes back to the older man. "Maybe you should ask the bastards that stole my clothes."
"At least they gave him a towel this time," a voice behind the elf sounded. Snarling in anger at the comment and reminder of a previous hazing, the elf whipped around; his fist swinging through the air. Satisfied when he felt his punch connect with the priest's nose, Deimos prepared to unleash another fist before a strong hand grabbed is raised arm.
"That's enough!" Warren strong voice bellowed at the young elf, dropping his grasp on his upper arm. Deimos, anger and embarrassment causing his fair cheeks to burn, turned back to the older man. Readjusting the wrapped towel, the paladin shifted his weight from one foot to the other in an effort to return blood flow to his freezing bare feet.
Opening his mouth to address the young elf, Warren distractedly noticed a young man run behind him, embarrassment and panic on his face. He gripped a polearm in one hand, the other arm supporting the shifting plate armor on his chest from his running. "Sorry I'm late, Commander Steele." The human boy paused, a smirk going across his face as he glanced at Deimos. "Looking good, Ares'mar."
Seeing red from the remark, Deimos took an aggressive step towards the laughing human; a firm hand placed itself on his chest to stop his advancement. Warren gave the angry elf a disapproving look before turning to regard the chuckling human. "One mile, Leanith. Now."
The boy gave a sigh at the punishment though the amusement and mirth never left his eyes. He eyed the furious elf once more, the smirk never faltering, his eyes seeming to attempt to send a hidden meaning to the elf. His eyes were darkened with mockery and amusement, making Deimos mutely wonder the underlying intent. A sly smile going across his face, the young man turned away from the elf as he commenced his mile run punishment.
His eyes roaming Deimos' body, Warren took in his crossed arms over his chest in an effort to maintain heat in the freezing air. His frame shook with shivers, a blue tint reaching his pursed lips. Running a tired hand over his face, this was not the way the man had planned the day of practice to begin. Turning to the patiently waiting lieutenants, he addressed them with a firm voice. "Start the roll call and drills. I'll be back."
Satisfied when the second in commands gave a brisk nod of their heads, Warren gripped the young elf's upper arm to beckon him forward. "Let's go before you get sick."
Walking besides the shorter man down the makeshift aisle, Deimos gritted his teeth when catcalls and whistles erupted from the waiting soldiers. He kept his green eyes downcast, refusing to meet the stares boring into him, while the lieutenant's chastised the soldiers. Warren seemed to pick up on the elf's discomfort, increasing his pace out of the forested training grounds. Taking a turn into a stoned doorway to the large complex of barracks, the warrior spared a quick glance at the young elf. His eyes still focused on the floor, shame and embarrassment were etched on his fair face. Raising an eyebrow when Deimos sniffled as they entered the building, Warren gave a sigh. "Are you sick? Do you need to see a priest?"
Shaking his head, the young elf kept his gaze on the limestone ground in front of him. He gave a quick glance at the man as they passed other battalions' barracks, making their way through the passageways towards Warrens'. "No, I'll be fine."
"Deimos, I understand why you want to stay in the barracks but," Warren paused, hesitantly trying to select words. "It's not working out. The men aren't ready to accept you quite yet."
Swallowing hard, the paladin shook his head in disagreement, a small grin spreading across his features. "I'll be fine. Or are you that lonely at the house that you miss me?"
Shaking his head at the sarcastic comment, Warren had to admit to himself that after living with the elf for three months, he had gotten used to his presence. While he was initially thrilled at the prospect of Deimos moving out of his own home and into the barracks, the warrior soon began to regret it. The hazing to the young elf became progressively worse; starting with little pranks, like his sword being glued in its sheathe. However, the men had increased their vigor in the jokes; Deimos attending the drills naked or mana deprived from someone stealing his fel ore. "Move back to the house. We can try this arrangement later; once the men have gotten used to you."
Eyeing the man skeptically, Deimos gave a shrug of his shoulders. "I don't know. I'll have to think about it."
Let me know what you think!