Final chapter, even though technically it ended way back on chapter 36.
Thanks to those of you who stuck with it. I'd be nowhere without you guys! You're so wonderful! All of you! TAKE MY AFFECTION!
You guys may really hate the ending or like it I guess. I'm glad it's done though. I can't believe it's over, but it's about freaking time... Lol.
Ophianara Blade: Whoo halfway done! ;D And yes I loved bringing Raphael back once more. He's fun. :)
CherryMountain: Oh yes there'll be lots more! I know for a fact I won't be able to leave this new generation alone.. Once I get the rest of my stories near their ends, I'll have to do something with them. :D
NyteKnight: Heck yeah... Sarion's like... 'betcha can't have just...two!' xD And YASSSS. Do eeet!
Happily Eric After: You're really /really/ close! :D :D And yes, I have so many plans for the WoD story!
Kirara: Bwahaha wellll, technically he wasn't alive during all of that, in a really weird way... And HA! yesss poor Draenei faces... xD Now I'm laughing too hard.
Darkblight: Omg! Your main is pregnant? WHOO! GRATS! ;) And... uhhh how about a polyamorous Syelaril. 8)
Willowstar: Oooh, look at my evil self, updating this chapter with GUESS WHOOOOO!
FaeMonstre: I concur... :3
Noriana26: I KNOW MAN, AAHHHH! ITS OVAAAH!
Lady Pixi: GUESS WHO'S HERE!
Shion Rasenka: Oh they definitely do. As you'll see in this chapter ;D
Zarabethe: Oh my goodness, I know right? My story makes me want all the little elf bebehs to just come stay in my home and wreak havoc on everything. And d'awww that's freakin' adorable!
FreakinGodzilla: Yesss Sarion's daddy mode is hhhrrrnngg. *pounces*
Kintaraheart: Dude can you IMAGINE how insane that would be! :O Endless reawakening pain circle. NOOOOO!
Chelinka: Oh my goooodnesss! That's so precious! AHH! I love puppies! And that name is so cuuuute! *flails all over the place*
Welcome to the end. 8D
It was cold.
It was dark.
The air felt stale, damp, and yet somehow still uncomfortably dusty and dry.
Aside from this, the man's senses eluded him. Everything felt oddly numb, yet at the same time, shooting waves of electric pain originated from his chest, channeling out into his fingers and toes. After a few frozen seconds, a burning came from his lungs, and he realized with an odd thought that simple actions, like breathing, came unnaturally, as necessary as they were.
Another jolt hit his heart, frying his nerves into life, and he inhaled a sharp breath and sat straight up almost against his own will, gasping for air, letting it whoosh into his lungs in a painful, yet immensely satisfying rush.
Immediately his hand went to a sharp pain at his side, his fingers roughly colliding against something hard and cold, and with that came a stabbing, red-hot pain. He breathed a grunt of surprise and irritation and let each finger clasp around the handle of what he deduced was some form of knife, and after a few seconds of gaining his bearings, drew it from his side. He could hear it as it pulled from his flesh, and blood began to escape profusely as he gritted his teeth hard, letting the blade clatter to the ground beside him. It had a fading crimson glow, slowly dying down into what looked like a charred, broken-yet-sharp fragment of something much larger.
He let out another groan, ending in a choked growl, and upon simple instinct drew into his hands an erratic ball of beneficial energy, then transferred it to the wound.
A sigh of relief escaped his lips as the pain began to recede, as well as the wound, until he was sure it was nothing more than a scab. Exhaustion pulled at his mind. As hard as he might try to recall even a wisp of who or where he was, his mind was smooth and blank.
The man didn't even know his own name.
Something compelled him to stand, however, and he knew enough to at least understand that he was not where he was supposed to be. He stumbled a little, feeling lightheaded, before finally balancing out. He took a step, but paused hesitantly as, when he moved, the crimson knife at his feet pulsed a subtle glow, and then died down again.
He took a step, and there it went again, humming into view in the otherwise pitch-black location before fading when he paused.
He frowned, brows tightening, and reached down, drawing it into one hand and inspecting it. As his fingers closed around it, it surged, giving him another rush of energy. He sucked in another breath of the dusty air and squinted at it, before tucking it down into his belt at his waist. He had no idea what it was or why he'd awoken with it implanted in his abdomen, but he had a feeling it was important. Not only that, but it did certainly give him a strong feeling of an unnatural power, which wasn't such a bad feeling, honestly.
Something deep in his mind told him where to go, and he directed himself out of this strange, tomb-like cellar, the floor itself covered in so much dust he was leaving footprints with each step. Broken glass was everywhere he stepped, and his boots crunched against it almost musically as he picked up his speed. He rounded a corner through a long corridor, his surroundings still black as night, and unexpectedly felt his foot hit something hard, causing him to stumble. He turned and looked, his glowing eyes allowing him to see through the darkness, expecting it to be an oddly-placed box or chest or something. On the contrary, his eyes fell upon a haunting sight: a decaying body, almost a skeleton, crumpled up on the floor, dressed in torn rags.
He stumbled backward, inhaling sharply, and sped up faster. This place gave him the creeps and made the hair on his neck stand on end anyways, not to mention the dead guy in the hallway.
He found a tall flight of stairs and made his way up, finally catching dusty beams of sunlight as he neared the top.
He emerged into a massive, open hall, with ceilings towering high above with old, broken chandeliers and chipping paint on the walls. Torn banners of red and gold were strewn across the floors, some hanging only by a nail or two to the stone archways. Nearly every window here had been shattered, and there wasn't a single speck of furniture or sign of life in sight. A slight breeze blew through the windows, picking up scattered scraps and stray leaves from outside on the floors and sending them into the air.
Warm, liquid beams of sunlight pooled in through the glassless windows, catching the broken shards and casting reflections off onto the walls in an oddly-beautiful manner.
The man stared in awe, mouth held slightly parted, eyes grazing over everything as he took it all in. This place had seen better days, and he had no doubt those better days had been breathtaking.
He still had no idea where he was as he finally found the exit of that massive building, and when he stepped out, he ended up even more lost, if that was possible. It was dazzlingly-bright, painful to keep his eyes open, and all around him were bustling elves, tall and slender and fair-haired. He knew these were Blood Elves, and as his eyes began to function properly, he finally made a connection.
This place was Silvermoon City, their capital.
What in the world was he doing here? Or, even worse, where else was he supposed to be, if not here?
Eyes began to fall on him from every direction as he stepped out of the door, most of them with puzzled, shocked, or even worried looks. He'd almost forgotten about how his clothing and armor was covered in blood.
Oddly enough, though, the armor wasn't really what they looked at. They stared at him, straight at his eyes, gawking.
He only made it a few more steps before a strong hand fell on his shoulder, halting him in his steps, and he startled slightly, turning quickly to see a tall city guard decked out in vibrant red armor peering down at him. As soon as the guard caught sight of his face he visibly flinched, then gave him a curious stare, cocking his head just barely.
"State your business here," the guard ordered in a thick Thalassian inflection, his voice sharp, demanding, but not all that threatening.
The Night Elf coughed in response, finding his voice. "I uh," he replied, "I have...no idea." His own voice sounded foreign to him.
The blonde guard leaned in slightly, staring him down, though it was more out of curiosity than anything else. "What magic is this?" he asked keenly, his vivid viridian eyes immediately flicking to the blade at the man's belt.
"I don't know," the Night Elf repeated.
The guard gave him a look. "Is there anything you do know?" It was snappier than it should've been.
"I know where I am. I know what I am. I know what you are. Past that? Nothing."
The guard's gaze flickered, and he finally looked sympathetic as he glanced down at the scabbed wounds on the man's stomach, where the cloth and armor had been damaged and ripped. "What happened to you?"
No response came, other than a mild shrug and the shake of his head.
"Come with me, then," the guard requested. "I know of just the person to help."
The Night Elf found himself taken into a vast, open, towering building filled with enchanted crystals everywhere of every color and varying luminescence, each of them giving off odd mixtures of buzzing, burning, humming, and crackling. Elves, all of them obviously Mages, hovered about, dipping between giant crystals, drawing samples, infusing the stones, etcetera. The man had no idea what they were working to achieve, all of them, but they certainly seemed determined to do it, whatever it was.
He was taken into a room that looked almost like a highly unconventional office; it was just as full of papers as it was strange crystals that hung from ceilings, rested on placeholders, and sat openly on the large desk in the middle.
The guard told him to wait there, so he did exactly that. He waited for a long time, so long that as he sat there in the wooden chair he'd found, his legs began to buzz as they fell asleep. He had to shift a few times to keep the circulation running.
"Sorry about the wait!" came a voice from the door.
In a fluster, an elfish woman with cropped red hair came bustling into the room, her arms full of scrolls, and she just dumped them all on the desk, a few of them clattering off the sides and onto the floors. She let them fall as she bustled about, gathering up papers in a forceful manner and stacking them as she began to rant.
"Damned council," she growled entirely to herself. "I swear, the only reason they're in charge is because the city is run by idiots! Idiots!" She slammed a stack of papers on her desk. "Seriously?" she hissed to herself. "They want me to get another damned license? Who else here even uses licenses for their practices?" She grumbled a few swears to herself. "Control-freaks! All of them! They're just pissed because of last year."
The Night Elf watched in curiosity, slightly recoiled in his seat as she ranted on about who knows what, his brows arching as he stared at her with a somewhat hesitant pose.
She finally calmed slightly, now having somehow cleared off her desk. "Anyway, my name is Katerina Sunstepper," she said, finally giving him some attention. "Sorry about...that. You didn't need to hear th-"
As her eyes rested on his own, she cut her word in half and broke her train of thought, staring at him with a suddenly very curious expression.
"What's a Night Elf doing in Silvermoon?" she asked, still peering into his eyes. A few seconds passed, and then her eyes widened in a look of recognition. "Ohhhohoho," she chuckled, shaking her head in disbelief. "I haven't encountered this magic since..." she trailed off. Her eyes flashed in excitement. "Are you a Rogue, perhaps? Involved with a man named Raphael Amaranth? Mind telling me what year you think this is?"
For some reason she decided to wave one hand in front of his face, as if he couldn't see very well, and he couldn't help but smirk at her quirky behavior. He blinked at her questions.
"I...have no idea?"
She smacked a hand to her head, rolling her eyes. "Oh, yeah. Duh. Guard Haldrin told me you seemed a bit...lost."
The Night Elf watched her dully. "As in I don't hold any personal memories at all? Yeah...lost."
"All the way down to your own name?" she sounded teasing. Her eyes flicked to the knife at his belt, as if she were drawn to it, and she fixated on it.
He felt a little exasperated now. "Yes."
His word was lost on her. She pushed forward, not even asking as she reached in and tugged the weird blade from its spot, holding it up in front of her face and peering at it peculiarly. Ten slow seconds ticked by, and then she glanced at him sideways, a sly expression on her face.
"I know who you are," she said. She sounded almost gloating.
His heart jumped. "What? How?"
Her eyes went back to the odd blade, an she ran a finger along the back of it, seemingly taken with the object. "Thirty years ago, give or take a year, a man came to me about a friend of his who was stabbed during a raid, right here in Silvermoon City. He said the man was struck with a knife whose description perfectly matches this one right here in my hand. He said the victim of the stabbing vanished from sight."
The man's eyes squinted.
Katerina continued. "I think you were that man. I deduced that this was a shard from a disrupted dark portal. That when you were stabbed with it, you were infused with its energy. That if you were lucky, you time traveled."
She leaned in, peering at him, her vivid green eyes pinning his. "And judging from the color of your red eyes and the way this shard is so in tune with you, plus the fact that you showed up in the exact state you were in when you disappeared..." she straightened back up, smirking smugly. "I know who you are."
The man sat forward, folding his hands. "So then...who am I?"
"Let's just leave that to you to figure out," she said, and then promptly turned and left the room, knife still in hand.
His brows tightened, and he stood up in frustration, following after her.
"Hey!" he called out. "Wait!"
She stopped and turned, holding up one hand to motion for him to stop.
"Wait there," she ordered simply. "I've got to secure this. I'll be back."
He pursed his lips and watched her go, and then shuffled back into the office. He felt the energy of the knife, which he hadn't really sensed until now, begin to wane as she got farther away. He slumped back down into the chair, drumming his fingers on the arm.
Thirty slow seconds passed, and then thirty more. The magic he'd felt from the blade was slipping away, now so far gone that he couldn't feel the traces of its energy. He began to wonder what it was Katerina was doing with it.
However, his curiosity suddenly dipped into nothing as a subtle flicker occurred in his mind; a memory, if he wasn't mistaken. A memory of a certain cruel Rogue's smooth face as he jammed a knife into his side.
He sucked in a breath as, once that memory surfaced, they began to rush back to him faster and faster, snowballing, all hitting him so strongly he began to grit his hands onto the arms of the chair he sat in and hold his breath.
All the pain, all the adrenaline, the excitement, the laughter, all of it taking hold in his mind at once as he recovered his memories of the people he loved. It was like a heavy cloud had been lifted from his mind, and with that had followed a strong rush of emotions, each different with different memories. He could see their faces, could feel his affection for them stronger than just about anything else.
His name still evaded him, but as hard as he tried to remember it, all he reached was the names of everyone else he loved, two standing out more than others: Sarion and Nyela.
He began to panic. It now felt as if just hours ago, he'd been in that vault under the mercy of Ephraim. He had no idea if his brother was alive; the last time he'd seen Sarion, the man was unconscious and bleeding to death.
He also felt a strange, tugging pain in his heart, like there was something missing. It hurt as if something had been ripped from his heart, or someone. He realized after a long moment what it was: his bond with Nyela was all but shot, and he couldn't feel her presence at all.
This sent him into more of a panic. How had the bond broken? The way it hurt, there was no way she'd reversed it; it wouldn't feel like this if she'd forsaken the spell. The only way a bond can be broken like this is through death. Had it been his own death? He prayed it had been his, and not hers.
The short-haired elf returned to the room, looking satisfied, and once she took in the man's expression, she lifted her brows.
"It's working already?" she quirked, and then smiled. "Good!"
He gritted his teeth and then spoke through all the emotions that continued to hit him as his memories came back.
"How'd you do it?"
"Complete shot in the dark," she replied. "I just thought if we got that shard away from you far enough and secured it with a different outlet, it'd stop channeling through you." She then rolled her eyes, next speaking to herself. "And they want me to get a license. Hmph!"
The man sucked in a quick breath as the memory of his brother Sarion, possessed and stabbing a Horde blade through his heart, returned to him; he was regaining all of his experiences backwards, going through time in reverse and skimming the important bits off the tops. Again his fingers wrapped tightly around the arm of the chair, and she gave him a look, then leaned in, and he subtly recoiled as she grabbed his chin, her eyes pinning his.
"Your eyes are back to normal," she announced. "So," she lifted a brow at him. "What's your name? You are part of Raphael Amaranth's guild, right? That's how you're involved with him? I'm sure he'll be glad to see you."
The man only half-listened as his memories continued to stretch back until at last, the knowledge of his name hit him like a brick wall.
"Unaril," he choked the word out. "Unaril Dawnstar. That's my name," he breathed, letting a smile flicker into place despite himself.
"And you're part of the Shrouded Serpent Guild?" she sounded a little too hopeful.
Her brows dropped. "Then what's your connection with Raphael?"
Unaril thought a moment. "He's my...friend?" He wasn't sure if that term really fit, but it was the most suitable. He then made to stand up, pushing past her. "Anywho, I really, really need to get back home."
"Where's home?" she asked him, following him out of the door.
He frowned, unsure of which way the exit was in this massive building; he'd forgotten the way out of here in lieu of regaining his memories. He answered her distractedly as he turned left and started walking.
"But you're not part of his guild?"
He felt her hand grab his elbow, but he kept walking as she tugged him. "So who are you?"
"I belong to the Druidic clan there. The Silverpaw tribe."
Complete silence from the girl behind him made him pause and turn to look at her, and to his surprise she was giving him a glare of absolute, unbidden disgust. She blinked at him a few times, staring at him as if he were some sort of alien disease, and then finally came to her senses, clearing her throat while keeping her grimace.
"You're part of the Silverpaw tribe in Stormwind?"
"Um, yes, I just said that," he laughed.
"So you know my delinquent of a sister?" she sounded spiteful.
Unaril blinked at her now, and then made a connection he hadn't thought to before. She'd announced her name as Katerina Sunstepper. She and Norivana shared the same surname. He hadn't really thought of that because when he'd learned this woman's identity, he hadn't remembered who Norivana even was.
"Norivana? That's your sister?" Unaril asked hopefully.
She bristled at the name, to his surprise. "Yes. Norivana. She married that...that...feral beast from the forests and lives her days treehugging."
Unaril's brows shot up, and he couldn't help but chortle at those words. "Well, ah," he snickered. "That's quite an...opinion."
Katerina made a face. "I think it'd be best if I just send you home and rid my hands of this," she sniffed.
He was almost shocked at her change of demeanor. When she thought he was a friend of Raphael, she'd been quite friendly. Now, it was a whole different matter. He wondered why she disliked Lucian and Norivana so much, but it wasn't his place to ask.
She took his wrist and pulled him all the way back to her office. "I'm going to give you a portal," she announced. "Now, strictly speaking, I'm not even supposed to know this one. It'll get you straight into Stormwind, but it's not linked to the Mage tower there, for obvious reasons," she waved her hand, and he just nodded.
"Yeah, obvious reasons," he echoed, completely lost.
"You should find yourself there in Stormwind either way, though. And lastly, I only have one request," she stood tall.
"And that is...?"
"Keep that Silverpaw tribe out of Silvermoon, will you?"
"Yeah," he began to laugh as she summoned the portal. "Can do." He couldn't imagine any of them trying to come to Silvermoon, of all places, where the elves here were the most subjective. It was bad enough in Darnassus, with their own race.
The portal swirled into view, a large, shimmering oval. Unaril sent her a word of thanks, but she just grimaced and shooed him along, so without further ado, he jumped through. His feet hit hard ground, but as his surroundings appeared, everything was dark, and he frowned in confusion. She'd said it wouldn't be the Mages' tower, but this still was unexpected.
He looked around in the dark and saw a staircase, and realized he was in some sort of basement. He could hear the strum of music overhead, footsteps, and loud voices, and from that deduced that he might be in an inn. He scaled the stairs three at a time, bounding up the steps, and as he reached the top he scared the daylights out of a poor human barmaiden who'd just brought in some dirty dishes. She shrieked at his sudden appearance, arms jerking, and her dishes went everywhere.
Unaril hopped forward and managed to catch a few of them, but even with both of their efforts, half of the contents of the platter crashed to the floor and spilled and broke.
Despite his need to get to the orchard, Unaril began to laugh apologetically.
"I am so sorry!" he exclaimed, chuckling as he helped her pick everything up, and she stared at him.
"Where the hell did you come from?!" she squeaked.
"Silvermoon," he said without really thinking, scooping up pieces of shattered ceramic mugs into a proper pile.
He shook his head. "Nothing. Sorry I scared you," he helped her pick up most of her things, and then without even saying a proper goodbye, took off out into the inn, through the thick crowd, and out the door. He recognized this inn; it was in the Dwarven District. He wondered how Katerina knew the spell for a portal into the basement of a Dwarven District inn. She seemed to know weird magics, though, so it wasn't too far of a reach.
He burst out into the district, shifted to cat form, and took off in the direction of the orchard at full speed, darting through the crowds, vaulting over carts and past shops that were all blurs as he ran. He wasn't even sure if the orchard was here anymore.
Back in Silvermoon, he had heard Katerina mention something that now terrified him: she'd claimed that the vault attack had been thirty years ago. Thirty years. That was almost as old as he was, in a way. What'd happened to Nyela? To Sarion? To the orchard, to his home, his friends? Would they even be there still?
He picked up his speed.
He remembered another thing. He knew he'd died in that vault. He'd felt it. He'd recognized the feeling, as it had happened before. So how had he come back? That time shard? Could it have been that simple? The energy coming off of that thing was practically electric, not to mention beneficial. Right as he'd woken up, he'd had more than enough energy to heal himself, whereas when he had died, it'd been drained.
With a feline laugh, he snorted. Not many people ever get a second chance at life. But...what was this, a third chance? He'd already come back once. If this was him defying death twice, he wasn't sure if he'd take it as a bless or a curse. True immortality is hard to achieve.
He finally rounded a bend and neared an archway leading through the outer northern wall, and he stumbled to a stop at the relief that hit him when he saw the orchard, far off in the distance and stretching up out of the ground. Not only was it back to normal, but it was actually even larger now than he ever remembered it. This meant something had gone right.
Now that he'd managed to fully slip through the crowds of people in the city with ease, he shifted out of his cat form and began to walk briskly to the orchard, heart racing. The world looked different, in a way, and yet incredibly so similar to how it'd been when he left it that it was shocking for him that thirty years had passed. Not a lot had really changed here in Stormwind.
His heart sped up even faster when he reached the edge of the forest. He hadn't seen anyone yet, but he knew the direction of the main tree, so with shaky steps, he managed to set off toward it.
Unaril didn't get very far before finally he heard movement in the trees and perked up, hoping it was one of the tribe members. He stopped in place, peering through the trees where he heard heavy crashing, like something was sprinting through the trees. His brows tightened as he stood there, and then as suddenly as there was nothing, three figures burst into view, sprinting through the brush and laughing. He heard shouts further off from a masculine voice that sounded familiar, carrying through the trees.
Before he truly knew what was going on, the three unfamiliar assailants had passed him by, and not only that, but two of them yanked him backwards behind a large fallen tree, all of them hunching over. They held him there, one of them mashing a hand over Unaril's mouth to keep him quiet as they all three stealthily peered just barely over the edge of the log at whoever had been chasing them.
Unaril tried squirming, but they held him fast, so he resorted to slumping down and just sitting there, perplexed. These men were running from something, and apparently it was a big enough deal that they felt the need to take him with them to hide.
He stared at them from where he sat.
He knew he'd never met these men before, but something about them looked beyond familiar.
Irritated and yet still entertained, he peered at one of them sideways, the one who had his hand gracelessly clamped over his mouth to keep him from talking. The guy looked about his age, maybe slightly younger, and on Unaril's other side was what looked like a carbon copy of the same man, all the way down to the way he wore his hair. They were both small, only about the size of a human, despite their race. Behind them was another man, this one much taller, lankier, and with long, swept-back white hair and spectacles on his wolfish nose. All three of them were sitting there, holding their breaths, even more silent than the chilly wind in the trees as they stared over the log.
Unaril reached up and tugged the one guy's hand away from his mouth.
"What are you-" he began to whisper, and all three of them startled and then turned to him, shushing him forcefully.
He let his mouth fall closed.
From the direction of where the three men were peering out over the log, Unaril heard a voice call out, a voice he recognized immediately.
"Boys!" the voice scolded, though he could hear laughter in it. "You're too old for this! Come apologize to your sister, and then you need to get ready for your ceremony and party."
Unaril immediately attempted to jump up at hearing the voice. It was Sarion. He knew it was Sarion; it was the first familiar person he'd encountered thus far. But as he did so, the white-haired clones jumped on him, holding him back down.
"Shhhh!" one of them hissed frantically. "Dude, come on! Chill!"
"Yeah, man!" the other one exclaimed. "You'll give our spot away!"
Unaril squirmed again, but they held him down. He didn't want to be too forceful with them, but he really wanted to see his brother. He understood the quality of a good joke though, so he finally relented. They'd set him free soon enough. It was calming enough to know his brother was alive and well.
He heard a second voice join Sarion's, which sounded a lot like Lucian's voice, but somehow wasn't.
"Did you find them?" the second voice asked Sarion, and they heard Sarion let out a sigh.
"Nope," Sarion replied. "Hey, what about Sephira?"
"Oh she's totally fine. She always handles her brothers' jokes well. Ya gotta hand it to them though, those pranks of theirs make yours and mine look like child's play." The man talking then snickered.
Unaril saw the two short-haired men beside him send each other triumphant grins and bump fists, and he couldn't help but let a smirk cover his own face. Boys after his own heart. He still had no idea who they were, but as far as he could tell by now, they were everything but exactly like he and Sarion used to be.
Slowly, Unaril too drew himself up beside the log and peered over it, just enough to where he could catch sight of the two people talking. One he immediately recognized as Sarion, and his heart jumped at how different Sarion looked these days; his hair was still very long, but oddly enough he had streaks of bluish-grey in it that started at his hairline by his ears. Was it normal for Night Elves to get grey hair?
The other man he at first didn't recognize; the guy was as big and tall as Lucian Silverpaw himself, extremely well-built and finely-dressed, with vivid, shaggy red hair. Unaril had never encountered another person who stood equal to Lucian's proportions, but this guy was definitely there. Then, Unaril made an odd connection. The man standing there looked so much like Lucian because he was his son. Unaril swallowed hard. That was Julian Silverpaw. Julian looked older than Unaril was.
This confirmed something that until now Unaril had been only half-believing. He really had traveled forward in time thirty years. This meant that, in a really weird way, his twin brother was now twice his age. It also meant that if Nyela'd had their child, that child would now almost be his age.
He blinked, letting it all sink in, as he continued to sit there, leaning against the log beside the other three white-haired men, mostly in shock. They watched silently as Julian and Sarion walked back through the woods, and then out of sight.
To Unaril's side, one of the twin elves let out a breath, laughing cheerfully, and he turned around, letting his back slump against the bark of the log.
"That went well I think!" he exclaimed playfully, and then he peered over at Unaril. "My name's Celwin," the guy introduced himself, holding his hand out to shake, and Unaril's brows shot up. The man had the name of Unaril's father? Odd coincidence..? He shook Celwin's hand; the guy had a strong grip for his smaller size.
Celwin pointed at his clone. "And this strapping fellow here is my twin brother Lucian," he jokingly poked the guy in the side. Unaril blinked in a confused daze, and then Celwin pointed to the man with long hair and Blood-Elf-like features "And that's Finnian, our uncle, who's younger than us. We're all Silverpaws, if that means anything to you."
Finnian just sent Unaril a half-wave.
"So? Who're you?" Celwin asked Unaril, folding his arms.
Finnian peered at Unaril curiously. "He looks like Sarion," the guy pointed out, and both twins froze, both of them cocking their heads in the same direction as they stared at him.
"Whoa, he does," the slightly smaller twin, Lucian, said.
Unaril, trying to get past the fact that there were two men named 'Celwin' and 'Lucian' speaking to him, finally cleared his throat, trying to find words.
Celwin gave him an odd look, smirking. "You alright, pal?"
"I... yeah," Unaril finally choked. "I'm fine. My name's Unaril Dawnstar. I'm...Sarion's brother."
All three guys stilled, gaining slightly more serious expressions, and they stared at him like he was some sort of rare creature they'd never encountered before.
Finally, Finnian was the first to talk.
"But...Sarion's brother is dead," Finnian said.
The twins both smacked the back of Finnian's head simultaneously, and Finnian ducked too late.
"Dude!" Celwin scolded the guy. "Tact!"
The one called Lucian's brows tightened as he continued to stare at Unaril. "You're Sarion's brother?"
"His twin, yes."
All three of them stared at him again for about five slow, silent seconds.
Finally, Celwin spoke up. "Prove it."
Unaril chortled. "Excuse me? How?"
"How did you die?"
"Which time?" Unaril replied instantly. "The time when Sarion killed me or when I got stabbed with a time shard?"
Celwin's eyes widened, as did Lucian's.
"You... You're..." Celwin was trying to get words out, but didn't know how to say them. Same went for his twin.
Unaril cleared his throat, fully lost. "I'm what?"
Finnian was finally the one to clear everything up. He leaned forward slightly. "If you're Sarion's brother, then that means..." he paused, glancing over at the twins. "That means you're their father."
"What?" Unaril burst, brows arching.
"Our mom is Nyela Silverpaw," Celwin said, both twins still staring at Unaril in awe. "If you're Sarion's twin, that means you're...sort of...our biological father."
Unaril felt all the air leaving his lungs, and he just stared back at the twins, all three guys' expressions now mirroring each other's.
"How old are you?" he asked hesitantly, after he finally managed to find his voice through his shock.
"Actually today's our thirtieth birthday," Lucian piped up.
Unaril let himself fall back against the log behind him, and he sat there with his mouth slightly parted, staring at both of them. He had to admit now, as he looked at them, that they really did resemble him almost to where it was uncanny. They were oddly small for elves, which he was curious about, but other than that they had a lot of his features.
His last thought before he had died had been of his child, or rather, apparently, children. He'd wanted to see them grown and happy, he'd wanted to be there for their coming of age.
Apparently, he'd gotten his wish.
One hand flew to his temple, and he tried to even his breathing. "Holy shit," he swore after a second. "How does this stuff even happen?"
"You tell us!" Celwin exclaimed. "You're supposed to be dead, dude!"
Unaril blinked. "I...should go see Sarion."
The guys all just nodded at him, but didn't budge.
He began to laugh. "And I'd like to go see him now, if that's okay with you all."
They only now realized they were still blocking his escape, and they all scrambled back and stood up, eagerly helping him stand as well. As if suddenly hit by a surge of energy, both Lucian and Celwin became extremely animated as they walked Unaril back toward the tree.
"Hey you know what this means?" Celwin asked his twin.
"By bringing back his dead brother, Sarion will forgive us for teasing Sephira."
"Sarion always forgives us," Finnian cut in.
"Yeah but this was the best prank of any of them. Ever," Celwin retorted. "He's pissed. So is Sephira."
Unaril became curious, laughing. "What exactly did you guys do? Who's Sephira?"
Lucian spoke now. "It took us almost a month to come up with!"
"Yeah, we even had to re-wire most of the lighting in the basements to make it work, too," Celwin nodded.
Now Unaril's curiosity was almost painful. "What did you do though?"
They just kept chattering back and forth, not giving him a real answer.
"Poor Sephira. Never saw it coming," they both snickered.
"Or at least, she didn't until it was too late!" Finnian commented, and then all three boys burst out laughing.
They came into sight of the giant tree as the boys continued to snicker. Unaril, now having given up on figuring out what it was they did, was the only one to see a young elf girl with black hair come barreling in at full speed, and he stepped to the side, allowing her full access to the three boys. To his shock and entertainment, the first thing she did was tackle Celwin straight to the ground violently, and he let out a surprised 'oof!' as they both hit the grass. Immediately Lucian jumped on both of them too, prying the girl's hands from Celwin, but then she turned on him instead, grabbing his head and mashing it straight down into the dirt.
"You all suck, you know that?" she exclaimed, and Unaril could hear humor and rage both surfacing in her voice. He began openly laughing at the sight.
"Sephira-!" Celwin yelped, grabbing one of her arms and trying to wrestle her off his twin.
"Shut it big brother," the girl snarled with a wry grin, and proceeded to shove his face into the dirt as well.
"Okay, okay! We yield!" Lucian called out, cringing away from her and blocking his face with his hands, and she grinned triumphantly, standing. Unaril couldn't help but begin snickering at the mess she'd wrought upon the twins; they were both covered in grass stains and dirt, and their hair was disheveled.
Finnian stood to the side, giving Sephira a sheepish look, and she stomped over to him. She was a tall girl, almost as tall as he was. She pointed a finger in his face.
"You. Don't you let them drag you along on these little escapades, Finn," she scolded. "You're better than that."
He nodded quickly, sobering, and she bit a smile, then turned and looked at Unaril.
"And you," she said to him, staring at him for a second, squinting her eyes, and then waved her hands off to the side. "I don't even know who you are," she shrugged, and then, satisfied, strode back toward the tree, attitude in each step.
Unaril watched her go in a mixture of confusion and entertainment, and then turned back toward the boys.
They were brushing grass off their shirts with peeved expressions, and Celwin sent him a nod.
"Yes, and I question myself why we mess with her every single time this happens."
"She's Nyela's daughter?" Unaril asked, rephrasing the question.
"Yes," Celwin said slowly, giving Unaril a 'duh' stare.
"And her father is...who?"
"Dad is-," Lucian said, and then broke off, catching himself. "Sarion," he corrected, "is her dad too. We're half-siblings."
"Ah," Unaril nodded, still feeling incredibly bewildered by all of this. So Nyela and Sarion had raised the twins, with Sarion taking place as their father, but the boys clearly knew all the stories about Unaril. Sarion's doing, perhaps? Celwin and Lucian referred to Sarion as 'Dad', even though they knew he wasn't their biological dad. In an odd way, despite how disconcerting all of this was, Unaril found that endearing, not to mention felt a huge debt toward his brother for taking in such a big responsibility.
But, over all of this, Unaril felt a strong wave of sadness hit him. He'd missed all of it: Nyela's pregnancy, the birth of his sons, their growing up... He'd been gone for all of it. And regarding the twins, they were, technically and in a really weird way, only a couple years younger than him. They were more peers than anything else.
His wife was apparently married to his twin brother.
And his wife and twin brother were twice his age, now.
If this wasn't the weirdest thing to ever happen...
Unaril had been standing there in a daze, not paying much attention to his environment, but his attention was drawn when he saw Julian Silverpaw, mid-sentence, walk out of the tree entrance and stop just as the guy's eyes rested on Unaril. His words were stolen from his mouth, and he just stared for a moment, recognition creeping onto his face. It was still weird seeing Julian full-grown, seeing as he was now as big and strong as Lucian. The guy had bright crimson hair and facial stubble of the same shade peppering his jaw, and vivid, intense golden eyes.
Unaril's face brightened. "Julian Silverpaw," he smirked. "It's nice to see you conscious."
Julian stared at Unaril for a few more seconds before bubbling into laughter, and he just wagged a finger at Unaril.
"Don't move a muscle," he ordered, his voice eerily similar to Lucian's, holding the same deep resonant vibrato that Lucian had. Julian began laughing again, staring at Unaril a second. "Oh man, I can't believe this..."
With that, he dipped back into the tree, and Unaril did as the guy had ordered, standing there, watching as Celwin and Lucian began pestering each other.
Celwin reached out and grabbed Lucian's arm, grabbing a clump of Lucian's light-toned arm hair in two fingers and pinching tight.
"Even or odd?" Celwin demanded, and Lucian groaned.
"No, please no, Celwin," Lucian pleaded, and Celwin shook his head smugly.
"You were too slow. Even or odd?"
Lucian sucked in a breath and held it, letting only some of it out to say one word. "Odd."
Celwin suddenly yanked out the whole clump of hair, causing Lucian to cringe. He held the hair up, inspecting it, and counted each individual strand.
"One, two, three, four, five, six..." he paused, giving Lucian a sly look. "It's even. Hold out your arm."
Lucian, grudgingly, held his arm up again, and Celwin repeated the process. Lucian went with odd again, and Celwin yanked out another clump.
Unaril began laughing at them, already feeling affection swell for both of them. Celwin just flashed him a playful grin and then kept teasing his brother, repeating it yet again.
Just as Lucian accused his brother of not counting correctly, Unaril caught sight of someone in the door of the tree, and he glanced over to see Sarion, who was talking to someone behind him and hadn't looked at Unaril yet.
"What the hell are you talking about, kid?" Sarion was laughing. "We have to get ready for the ceremony for the boys. I don't have time for whatever it is you-"
He stopped full-force as his head finally swiveled forward and his eyes fell on Unaril.
It was as if Sarion's words had been ripped from his mouth and from his mind, and he just stood there, mouth held open, staring at his twin with a look of blunt shock.
Beside Unaril, Celwin spoke up.
"Oh yeah, Dad, hey," he piped out, "look who we found!"
Unaril lifted his brows as he took in Sarion's appearance. Sarion looked exactly the same, but something about him made him...older. Unaril wasn't sure if it was the weird white streaks by his ears or what, but something about him was very different. Thirty years of raising a family had aged him, but not at all in a bad way. If anything, Sarion looked better now than Unaril had ever seen him before. He looked healthy and had laugh lines at his eyes and mouth, two traits that used to evade him.
Unaril could see words forming soundlessly on Sarion's mouth, though none of them came to fruition as the poor guy blinked in incredulity.
He took a step forward, sending Sarion an unblemished smile. "You've gotten old," he laughed.
Sarion took a hesitant step forward as well, wobbly, as if just learning to walk, and then without further ado completely and wordlessly closed the distance between his brother and himself, enveloping Unaril into a sudden, intense hug.
Unaril hugged him back tightly. This was the first time they'd shown affection for one another since the day Sarion had initially left them, the morning right after his corruption had caused him to break ties with Nyela. For Unaril, that'd been a matter of about four or so months. For Sarion, it'd been over thirty years. Up until this point, things had been so stressed between the two of them, and neither of them had gotten a good chance to reconnect with the other.
Sarion didn't let go, holding on like letting go was the last thing he'd ever do. Unaril felt his brother's arms squeezing to the point of shaking, his fingers curling tightly into the back of Unaril's shirt and armor. Unaril gritted his teeth tightly, returning the hug with equal sentiment and intensity, a lump forming in the back of his throat. He felt his eyes pooling and refused to let them spill, but then felt Sarion's shoulders quaking and couldn't help himself, and he just hugged tighter and allowed tears to escape.
He heard Sarion sniff roughly and, after what had to have been minutes, Sarion finally pulled back, his palms pulling back and holding the sides of Unaril's jaw. The look on Sarion's face was one of joyful agony, his eyes misty as they flicked back and forth. He was smiling, and at the same time had tears escaping his lids. He didn't seem to be able to come up with words as he held his brother out in front of him, and with nothing else to say, he pulled Unaril's head down and kissed his forehead, before pulling him back in for another hug.
Finally, he pulled away, now a little more recovered.
"H-how?" Sarion finally choked one word.
Unaril just shook his head dubiously. "I don't know," he laughed. "The shard, I guess. I...time traveled."
Sarion let his hands fall and released a silent, incredulous laugh, eyes rising as he craned his head to the side and shook it. He then let out another breath, still disbelieving, and looked back at Unaril.
"You're one lucky bastard, you know this?" Sarion finally laughed, grinning ear-to-ear. "You just can't stay dead."
Unaril grinned back. "It's not in my nature."
Sarion laughed aloud and curled the crook of one arm up around Unaril's shoulder, drawing Unaril along beside him as he grinned joyfully.
"Come along inside; we've got a lot of changes here," Sarion announced happily.
"I'll say," Unaril laughed. "Sarion, you're a dad."
Sarion smiled fondly. "It's ironic you say this, because you are too."
"Only if we're getting technical," Unaril said, this time a little less enthusiastically.
"Oh, we are getting technical," Sarion retorted. "Those boys are so much like you, I almost swore you'd been reincarnated."
Sarion led Unaril into the large tree.
"Where are we going?" Unaril asked.
Sarion smiled, still not removing his arm from Unaril's shoulders. "There's someone here who I think would be delighted to see you."
Unaril swallowed. "Might this someone be Nyela?"
He saw Sarion just smile, and to his own surprised, his feet paused in their steps, causing both him and Sarion to stop before they reached the ramp. Unaril gave Sarion a worried look.
"It's been thirty years, Sarion. I don't know if..."
"Oh, come on," Sarion exclaimed lightheartedly. "Unaril, if I made a tick mark for each time Nyela or I said we missed you over the past thirty years, the papers would fill an entire room."
Unaril felt an odd surge of guilt. He'd been gone during some of the most important parts of her life. Would she even welcome him back?
He asked that question aloud.
Sarion laughed. "Unaril, what are you really afraid of? Of course she'll welcome you back."
"You two have been together for thirty years," Unaril replied, now feeling anxiety grip him. "But for me, it feels like I was with her just yesterday. For me, it feels like I just found out that we're about to have a family. It feels like I'm still absolutely in love with her, and I don't know if I can handle giving her up."
Sarion took all this in with a slow thought, and gave Unaril a look. "Buddy... She misses you. I missed you. You're our best friend. She needs you in her life." He then snickered. "Hell, if it all boiled down, I'd share if it meant keeping you here."
Unaril almost choked on his own air and began laughing, but something about the way Sarion had said that gave him the impression that the guy was actually serious. If that wasn't a hell of a way to make a point... He wasn't sure how he felt about that.
Sarion laughed too, looping his arm over his brother's shoulder again. "Now, then..." He shook his head with a chuckle. "I can't wait to see her reaction."
Unaril smiled and let his brother lead him up. This was all quite a shock, not to mention a little heartbreaking that he'd missed the early life of his boys. But something about it was almost a gift, as well. The timing was better than it could've been. He hadn't even been there to see her pregnancy. It could've been a lot worse. He could've left when they were already born.
However, it didn't feel like he'd lost anything; it felt like he'd gained. He could have just died. He could have lost his life and never returned, never met his twins in the first place. This was another chance. Not only that but his brother was happy and healthy, free of all corruption. They were alive, living under the protection of some of the most powerful Druids on the planet.
He was, despite it all, extremely blessed, and he felt it strongly as his beloved brother chatted his ears off on their way up the ramp.
When they reached the right floor, Unaril felt a swell of excitement. Off in a far room, a door was wedged open, showing the room's interior to anyone who peered inside.
In that door he saw a mess of familiar curls, soft magenta ripples cascading down, and suddenly felt an intense surge of a comforting feeling, a feeling of familiarity, a feeling of love.
Unaril was surrounded by people who loved him.
He was finally home.
Nyaril and Syela fans rejoice together! xD
First I thought it'd be kinda weird ending the story from Unaril's point of view, but I feel like he earned his big spotlight.
You guys, I'm gonna cry that it's over now...
*skips off to write my other stories*