Carolyn Peters looked down at her hands for the first time in years. Gray, pruned, and smelling of honey and cloves, her hands barely resembled the hands she was used to looking at so long ago; those hands were plump and the fingertips often stained black with ink.
"Welcome back to the world of the living," said the hovering valkyr that had revived her. "You are no slave. You are free to follow whatever path you choose here. If you choose to serve Dark Lady Sylvannas—"
"Who?" Carolyn croaked. She gulped down the stickiness in her throat.
"Dark Lady Sylvannas."
Carolyn dug a pinkie in her ear and pulled out a sticky bit of wax. "Thought you said that. Who is she?"
"She is the ruler of the Forsaken."
"And who are they?"
"They are you," the valkyr said.
Carolyn looked down at her self and realized she looked just as bad as her hands.
"Yes," continued the valkyr. "We found you wrapped up in—"
"Wait a tick, I'm dead?"
"Undead, now. I revived you. And now you may follow the Dark Lady if you wish. Just speak to the undertaker, Mordo."
She pointed to the undead man holding a scroll further up the gravesite. Carolyn stood up to smooth out the remaining rags of her pink dress then walked over to the undertaker. The rotting old man looked up from his scroll.
"Ah yes, you're—" he started.
"Yes, yes, Carolyn Peters. Good to have you with us and in good shape. Need anything replaced?"
"Y'know, jaws, ears, fingers—the little things that get lost easy." He cocked his head and nodded. "Nope, you seem to held up just fine."
"From being mellified. Now, about your service to Sylvannas…are you useful for anything?"
Carolyn rubbed her eyes with her palms. "Look, please, I don't want to serve this Dark Lady Whoever. I've never even heard of her until now, and I still serve under King Menethil."
"Yes, King Terenas Menethil II. Surely you've heard of him."
The undertaker wrung the rolled-up scroll in his hands so tightly it almost tore. "Of course I've heard of him. I served under him too when he was alive."
"Don't tell me he's dead!"
"He is. Killed by his own son."
"Arthas? How could a child kill—"
"He's not a child anymore. Or rather," the undertaker smiled a wide, toothy grin, "he was not a child at the time. He was full grown when he killed his father and made mindless undead creatures of us all. But the Dark Lady freed us from his grasp. You must have been dead for quite a while if you don't even know that."
"Yes," she said, her tongue running across her bottom jaw. "A long, long time. When did all this start happening?"
"Over twenty years, I'd say."
Carolyn's jaw dropped and rolled by her feet. Her black tongue fell and smacked her neck.
"Damn! And you were doing so well," said Mordo as he picked the jaw. "No problem, I have plenty of suture thread here and I'll fix you up in no time."
After having her jaw fixed, Carolyn set out to find her house with no promises of serving the Dark Lady. As she walked passed the great wall that protected Deathknell from the darker parts of Tirisfal Glades, her mind struggled in the sea of new information it was thrown into.
Her death, well, she figured how that happened from her last living memory. A fan of hers had stopped by her house asking her to autograph her newest 800 plus page book, The Gnome Innkeeper's Brand New Bride, only to come back a week later and thwack her on the side of the head with it. She heard the thump and saw the stars in her eyes before passing out. She must have died then and then dunked in honey and cloves (or at least, she hoped she'd died then. She had nearly drowned once and remember how painful that felt). Death she could take in. She hadn't felt anything in over twenty years, and at this point in her undeath she was very grateful for it.
Living again in a completely different era was another beast.
She didn't remember the glades as being such a glum place, with the deer so skinny that their ribs showed as they grazed on the gray-green crabgrass. The trees seemed to sag under the weight of their needles and the gloom. She looked up at the sickly yellow sky and frowned. It took her a long while before she reached Brill, which was near to bursting with even more Forsaken. The happy little town that was once bright and soft was now black and sharp. Her stomach turned at the sight of it. She walked around it and towards Brightwater Lake.
She closed her eyes and still remembered everything about the little log house on the lake. It was a one-room home, but it was beautiful with the sun catchers in the windows and sweet smelling flowers growing all around it. Even during the wintertime it was a lovely little house, iced in a thick layer of snow and warm inside all season long.
When the sun had nearly set, Carolyn reached the remains of her home. There was nothing left but a couple of rotting logs. The flowers were long dead and replaced by spiked weeds. No thick quilts she and her mother sewed to keep warm in the winter, no charred kettle she cooked most of her meals in, not even one page of the hundreds of books she stacked alongside the walls.
"Not a thing…" she mumbled, salty tears running down her face.
She turned to the old evergreen that stood a little crooked. Wiping away her tears, Carolyn trudged up to the tree. She dug at the fork of the tree's exposed roots, the grainy soil clinging to her bony fingers. When the sunlight had gone out her fingers found the metal box deep in the shallow hole. Grunting and panting, she yanked out the box and snapped open its rusty clasp. Inside laid a blank notebook, a new quill, and a bottle of dried ink all carefully wrapped in old newspaper and cloth rags. Yes, this was the spot where her house had once been.
Clutching the journal to her breast, she bent over her folded knees and sobbed.
The sky darkened to a deep purple when Carolyn calmed down. She sucked on her knuckles and stared up at the sky, her mind racing at a million miles per hour. She would have to start over, all over. She needed a new house and new things to put into it, and that cost a lot more than the silver in her pocket. And then there was her writing; for years she had written romance novels about living people. Now that she was dead (undead, actually), she'd have to completely change everything to meet the expectations of a reader base she had no idea about. Did dead people even read romances about other dead people? She covered her mouth with both her hands, sick at the idea of having to write a sizzling sexcapade of a skeleton and his molding bride.
But if writing that sort of romance got her the money to rebuild her home, then she would do it. Really, it couldn't have been that difficult. If she could write a romance about a human woman and an orc man (and that was one of the more popular novels, she recalled), then she could write anything.
She sat up and opened her journal, wishing she had packed a candle and a match. She couldn't see what was written on the title page of the journal, but that didn't matter. The message of what he wrote decades ago glowed in her mind's eye:
Happy Birthday, Carrie. I know you've got too many of these, but one more couldn't hurt.
Was he gone too? Seeing as the entire land was full of the living dead, she didn't completely doubt it. He said that he was from Stranglethorn, and promised to give a tour there once she scrounged up enough money to go. Maybe he was still there, waiting to give her a tour on his black horse (if the horse was alive, but they only live for about twenty years so probably not). They'd certainly have a lot to talk about by then.
Carolyn flipped another page. She could rebuild everything she once had, and everything will be as it once was. Her fingers wrapped around a hardened chunk of brown hair. No, not everything would be exactly the same, but she'd try anyway. Her old life was wonderful, so why not try to get it back?
AN: This is the first chapter I wrote for NaNoWriMo, so I figured it would be the first to be edited too! Next week will be Leda's first chapter, then one of the Horde, on of the Alliance, and so on and so forth until we get the initial twelve "intro" chapters, which I will then pick one and continue for about an arc's worth. I'm leaning towards Leda at the moment, but we'll see in a few weeks. Hope you like it!