Disclaimer: I own nothing but Perdyta. Blizzard, on the other hand, has a share in the custody of my soul...

Survivor's Guild 3: Perdyta Ricci

Afterlife

Perdyta's life had been full of death. So it was really no surprise to her that her death was so full of life. She'd almost expected it, somewhere deep in the most cynical part of her bitter heart. It was called afterlife for a reason.

Dying had hurt less than she'd expected. Or maybe it hadn't. She was a little fuzzy on the details. There had been snow; there had been a battle; there had been a sword that was faster than hers. No, that wasn't it. There had been too many swords and she couldn't defend against all of them. And then there had been cold. Such cold. Colder than the snow that was falling around her, on her. Such bitter cold.

She thought Oryane might have been there. That poor, stupid girl, always trying to pull her out from behind her walls. But she had built them too high, and even though some tiny, quiet part of her wanted desperately to respond to Oryane's warmth and kindness, she was far too cold. Even before she had died, she had been frozen. When the world turns its back on you, the saying goes, you turn your back on the world. Perdyta hadn't had much choice, what with the truly traumatic childhood, the years of abuse and abandonment, the many, many times her family had tried to kill her. The one time they succeeded. The priest that brought her back. He thought he was saving her when he pushed the air back into her lungs, forcing the icy water out. He thought he was saving her, but he was damning her to another few years of hell.

She never really left the frozen river; part of her remained buried under that glass coffin even after the priest brought her back. But she returned glacial, with ice in place of her heart. Her family noticed the change and did not look for her when she ran away. She disappeared for years. When she came back, she had a sword and she knew how to use it.

The army took her when no one else would. They didn't care about the murders, if they knew about them. They didn't ask questions, they just needed another sword in the darkness. Perdyta was one of the many who asked to go to Northrend. She didn't mind the cold, she said. Until she died. That was a cold that pierced even that last, flickering ember of warmth she had kept hidden and banked in the deepest corner of her heart for so many years. Such bitter cold.

The Lich King ripped her out of the darkness and brought her, shuddering, back into the light. She was conscious of the time she had been dead the same way she was conscious of the time she spent asleep. Time had passed, but she had not marked it's passing. It had been cold. It was still cold. Because even though she walked and talked, breathed and ate, fought and killed she was still dead.

When Darion Mograine broke the Lich King's hold on her mind, she realized how much it had hurt, being alive, being dead. The Ebon Knights had to be strong to survive, and for Perdyta, that strength came from the ice she had built up within her. Years of bitterness and cynicism and indifference and insolence had protected her while she was alive, and those same traits protected her now in death. Until Darion sent her back into the world and she found Oryane again, and she began to melt.

She let Oryane and her friends teach her about the world. About the good things. About birthdays and hugs, about warm fires and good books, about songs for the road and a soft bed at the end of it. About friendship. About life. And she learned that some people could be trusted, that sunshine warmed you if you let it, and that not everyone was trying to kill you. That sometimes, they were trying their best to keep you alive.

Oryane, Iulia, and Aktaviya achieved the impossible: they thawed her. They accepted her and loved her despite her rather mean attitude and they never tried to change her. She changed all on her own. They showed her that she could deal with pain and anger and bitterness—that she could deal with death—without building walls around her heart. She never really stopped being cynical, but she eventually stopped being flat out rude. And it was because of her death, because of all that happened to her after she died. It was because she got more time after life to learn how to live.

Perdyta's life had been full of death—the deaths of those around her, the deaths she caused, the deaths she suffered. She had spent her whole life dead, uncaring, frozen under the ice that covered the river in winter. So it was really no surprise to her that her death was so full of life, that she was more alive in death than she had ever been when alive. It wasn't afterdeath, anyway. It was afterlife.


A/N: Perdyta is the most screwed up of all my characters. Literally the definition of traumatic childhood and angst in droves. Actually, she's a little disturbing to write, but at the same time, it can be fun being mean once in a while.