Final update: 28 November 2007
The air so thick. She walks my way. "Dance with me", she says. But this is an "interview"! -- damned guildmates, what are they thinking?! Her hand on mine. The world fades as she says, "Come closer to me". Are we getting too close? Do we dare to get closer? The room spins, she whispers my name and we dance. Guildmates shriek with delight -- don't care, they're not even relevant. It's just us, this moment, this dance, swept away by emotion, by chance.
Swiftly across the windswept, snowy hills of Winterspring go Horse and Saber. Starfall Village. A nondescript hut that's not been lived in for some time. "My home," she says. "Once. Here I grew up with Mother." She talks of childhood as the wind blows fresh snow across the doorway.
"But I know nothing about you," she says with a tentative and hopeful smile. "You will," I reply softly, as I wish her goodnight with my lips on the back of her hand.
-- from "Rain", by the Bardess Madonna
"Teldrassil," I explain as I wave my hand over the landscape below us. As if I need to "explain" such a thing to a fellow Kaldorei. So I also explain the banal normality of my upbringing, the stubborn mediocrity of a village life my family wanted for me and why I cannot return. "Because," I conclude, my glowing eyes on hers, "In the end, your 'family' and 'friends' only serve to hold you back." She reflects. "And yet a part of you," she says. "Formed you. But not the You here and now." Many things she says besides, her poignant wisdom holding me spellbound and yet I recall nothing of it later -- I only remember her windswept hair caressing her neck, her earnest, glowing eyes, the way her lips move as she speaks and how they feel when she places them over mine.
Fighting the Burning Legion in Hellfire. She smiles, sighing happily. "My Love is a man, a bear, a panther ... sometimes a bird." I wonder what she'll think of the "sea lion".
"If I didn't know better," she says, hands in my hair, chuckling as we stand under the waterfall. "I'd say this stuff is only 'cleaned' when a cat licks it". I laugh, amused and embarrassed at the same time. "Perhaps not far from the truth," I admit.
Various items I picked up during my adventures or crafted out of the leather I gathered -- I hand it all over to her; gives her something to disenchant. She gazes at me with smiling, grateful eyes. "My Love, what can I say?" she asks. I smile. "You just did say it."
She says my name and it grabs my attention -- not really in a "good" way. "You're too much 'captain'", she says, eyes stern. "Look around. There is no guild here. No responsibility. And no shame. We're totally alone -- just you and me." She's right. In this place, there will be no passer-by, no casual observer, no witness. She says my name again in that tone. And then, earnestly and with the absolute power of command: "You have to let it all go." What she demands of me I will not put in words, but suffice to say that ... in my time ... I have done ... things ... but never have I done something that comes close to this for sheer swallow-your-pride, damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead, don't-think-just-do-it. Even as my jaw hits the ground, even while the shock is still fresh, my mind is overriding all attempts to maintain dignity. I give her what she wants. I let it all go. And it's the most liberating thing I've ever done. She's delighted. Me? I don't know myself anymore.
But she does.
She's got a way of
How I make her feel
And I find the strength to keep on goin'.
-- Billy Joel
"Something on your mind," she says. A statement -- not a question. I nod. That kind of day again. It comes lately more and more, a progressive intensity on the mind, an intangible yet irresistible force pushing down on the shoulders, a pressure on the back that is neither real nor imagined and -- "My Love?" I snap out of it and become aware of her hand on mine, glowing eyes regarding me with concern. Her soft voice is both plea and command: "Tell me". I pause and reply, "Tell me, please -- would you still be at my side were I not a captain? Were I not even an officer?" She blinks, mouth open, a sudden sharp exhale and a twitch of the head, signalling confusion and disbelief and what-in-all-the-world-are-you-talking-about? "My Love!" she finally says, hand on my face, eyes hard, compelling me to hold her gaze as she firmly replies, "I would be at your side were you a nothing or nobody who belonged nowhere." I grasp her hand and squeeze it, favor her with a smile and a nod. She relaxes a bit, aura of concern still concentrated on me. It's not over. But it's enough for now.
I tell her everything. About how he and I know each other for so long, through so many adventures and dangers, each having the other's back while both stared at Death, one keeping watch while the other slept. The only brother I ever had. And to this day, both in charge, the leaders, The Men. We saved it. Held it together by force of will alone, despite the daily, crushing weight, the overwhelming pressure of responsibility that saps the energy and leaves one an empty shell, lifeless and spent. It's got us both now and we cannot go on. I finish and she's silent. Then she asks, "What is the worst that can happen?" I blink and reply, "Well, the guild could implode." She nods. "The guild could implode, people could be upset, but … in a not-so-quiet dungeon somewhere in the worlds, two old Brandsworn fight side-by-side, happy as the cloud in the wind." I'm staggered. Recognition floods my awareness. So simple, right before my eyes! The weight of indecision lifts and I nod. I know what needs to be done and I know I'll do it. It's a wonderful feeling.
She couldn't be there, so I tell her about it -- we both announced our resignations; everyone shocked -- but picking up the pieces; it'll be fine in time. She nods. "And how do you feel, Love?" I smile. "Never better, Dearest. Never better."
"It's all so clear now!" I exclaim. "I can see everything that the weight hid from me. It wasn't just 'stress', you see," I explain to her, my gaze shifting to the horizon as I uncontrollably smile. "It also blinded me. Kept me from seeing ... so many things that should have been obvious." I look at her again, still smiling. She smiles too and asks, "Like what?" I take her hand. "Things like ... Love ... The Truth ... What You Mean to Me." She smiles, dropping her eyes for a moment. I take the thing from my pack and kneel before her, heart wedged so hard in my throat that it takes great effort to speak. "Will you accept this?" I manage to blurt out, holding it out to her -- the special ring, the one that unmistakably asks the most important question I've ever asked in my life. She's frozen, unable to move or speak, gaping at it. Then she finds her voice and says "Yes!" over and over again. She's laughing and I'm crying.
And right here, right now ... life is good.
My "brother" and I are "male-bonding" again...
ME: "I gave my Dearest Love a Flawless Diamond Solitaire and asked her to marry me."
BRO: "Aye!" And he nods.
ME: "My Dearest Love gave me a Soap on a Rope and told me to use it until she finds a 'decent shampoo'".
BRO: "Aye!" And he nods. "Very wise woman!"
I just glare at him.
Brandmoot. Guild meetings follow a certain format, but there are always "interruptions" and "sidetracks" -- part of the rowdy nature of this fine guild I'm in. The current "sidetrack" involves one of our hot-but-unattached sorceresses lashing out at a love-pair for publicly displaying their high regard for each other. Is she jealous? PMS, perhaps? While the assembled members turn their attention to it, I turn my attention to the radiant, white lady beside me. Leaning close, I ask, "Have any affairs to attend to after this Moot, Dear?" She chuckles and replies, "Yes, I need some quality time with my handsome druid."
It's going to be a good evening.
Hiccups. Misunderstandings. A wedding postponed. Anger. Accusations. Tears. Understanding. Reconciliation.
You should've been gone
Knowing how I made you feel
And I should've been gone
After all your words of steel
Oh Sherrie, our love
Holds on, holds on
-- From "Oh Sherrie", by the Bard Steve Perry
The Temple takes more and more of her time. Tyrande waits for Furion without knowing when or even if they will ever be together again ... can I not display a small part of that level of commitment and patience? And yet it weighs on me. Something ... wrong. Something bad comes.
She is to become "one with Elune". A secret order of the Temple that communes with The Goddess every waking moment, isolated from the material world in the pursuit of ultimate oneness. She risks excommunication in revealing even the bare minimum of information to me, but she does so out of duty to one's beloved. The "why" matters little at this moment -- the effect is all I can see: it is over. Forever. There is no compromise. She is no longer mine, but Elune's. I have foreseen this and am thus resigned to it. I wish to turn my back right then, get on with life, avoid the pain and rage that only fails to boil out of me because of my supreme act of will to suppress it. But she must drag it out. She compels me to go to the Temple where she hands over belongings she wishes me to have, one painful piece at a time. I only want to get away. It is more than I can bear and I lose it. She will leave the world via the Altar in Winterspring, where she came into the world, where I proposed to her, where we were to be married. She asks me to come. I refuse, for I know it would be the end of me. She says she understands. Her business with me is finished and I finally make my escape, finally run away from her, finally to be alone to contemplate the dagger sticking in my heart. And all I want to do is grasp the hilt with both hands and drive it in deeper, twist it around in my chest until the sharp metal manages to mutilate every single piece of my broken heart and make it stop beating forever.
But I live. I go on. What else can I do but "go on"? What can any of us do but "go on"?
She once told me words that a seer said of her mother: "Here is she who was conceived, born, married and dead by the same place. Here she dwells, in the forever now." Yes. That applies just as well to the daughter. And there I must leave My Priestess. Eventually, I know that I will take joy in the memories, that I will see her in every wisp, feel her in the wind, and she'll smile down at me from the stars and it will make me happy. Yes. One day. When time lessens the pain of this day.
The Druid pauses, sitting at the desk, the open book in front of him, the quill in his right hand, his left hand on his left cheek. He stares at the flame of the single candle. The wax has burned low and the flame even now begins to flicker. He is resolved that he will not light a fresh one, that this candle's end will signal the end of this work. A short sigh, a pursing of the lips. The quill revisits the inkwell and he writes his final lines into the book...
Your mind tricked you to feel the pain
Of someone close to you leaving the game of life
So here it is, another chance
Wide awake you face the day
Your dream is over... or has it just begun?
I will be watching over you
I am gonna' help you see it through
I will protect you in the night
I am smiling next to you, in Silent Lucidity
-- from "Silent Lucidity" by Queensr˙che
The Druid waits a moment for the ink to dry. He closes the book, takes it to the bookshelf and pushes it into a free space there. He returns to the desk, wets his thumb and forefinger, squeezes the candle's wick. A slight hiss and the room is dark. The Druid takes his staff in hand, nods to himself and quietly leaves the room.