The Draenei tried � she did.  Her thoughts refused to obey, wandering around her head like carrion crows startled into flight, smashing into bad ideas and distractions and moments and memories all at once, clamoring in raucous voices and generally making focus impossible. 

It was all his fault, she knew.  She blamed Victor. 

Truth be told, he was easy to blame, she knew.  He couldn�t know that she couldn�t know, that his chance remark would send her back to the temple.

�Oh, chances are you remember this place,�  he�d said � �you probably lived here.�

She stayed in the woods that night, trying to make sense of that remark.  �lived�.  �Here�.  This too-familiar valley with its forevernight sky and the too-bright moon and the birds and the Talbuk and birds and Elekk and more disturbing was that she really knew what these things were, and she wasn�t entirely sure how.

It took another day of halting questions and utter confusion before she pieced it together, this story that, still, to her, seemed so alien.  That this place was Outland, but not Outland, literally existing in the Time Before.  The time before Him.  The time before even Azeroth � she knew, intellectually, that her people weren�t native, but to have it (eventually) explained by a (very gentle) human mage at the giant tower in the mushroom swamp poleaxed her. 

She spent another day sitting on a giant mushroom, just trying to put everything together, but her thoughts refused to obey.  The mage had explained that this was a world that Was, that Never Would Be.  That this place was an engineered accident, a manipulation of the story of the way things should have gone, a stable portal to a truly other history.  She tried to understand his more exotic explanations, but she simply couldn�t � she didn�t have the vocabulary for it, and the mere idea was hard enough without words like �aetheric stabiliziation� and �possibility tunneling�, which, if she were to be honest, she didn�t really understand apart, much less pushed together and thrown at her in number.

She pieced together what she remembered, so dimly.

Golden eyes.

Moon-catching.

Golden armor.

The library�. The library at..

She went to Karabor.  Really went this time � not skulking around the edges, shading her eyes from the radiance of the Temple, but walked to the gates, her head high (if her eyes were a little squinty � there was no help for it), in her battered armor.  As a concession, she left her runeblade at the trees near the temple itself (it would be safe enough there, and was in a terrible mood as it was � if she didn�t know better, she would say it was� wounded.  It snarled at her).

The guards seemed surprised to see her, but let her pass � offering happy words in Draenic that she couldn�t hear, over the roaring in her ears.

The library at Karabor.  The rooms on the edge of the courtyard.  The feydragon.  The crystals that sang.

She went to the library first, and saw the great walls of crystals and scrolls and books and the little cases of artefacts and the floor mural that abstractly represented the abstract shape of a na�aru, all motes of gold tile and yellow-metal-inlay.  She found herself moving along the shelves, selecting a volume whose name she knew before she touched it, and felt an obscure kind of hurt somewhere inside.  She could move along the row, naming each volume in turn, under her breath, looking at the runes only afterword, never missing a title.  There were the journeyscrolls, there the hymns of Er�sis the Lost.  This one was a love story, that one the memories of a poet, that crystal a holorecord of a young girl on the Oshu�gun.

She knew what a holorecord was.

She went to the house, then � but did not enter.  There was the little garden, there the tidy three rooms, the soothing purple glow of the light-crystals at each corner.  She made her way to the top of the wall to watch, patient as a stone.

She saw the female � tall and willowy and laughing, so very young.  Her hair was luminous � almost yellow, but not quite, her eyes a warm-glowing blue, and her smile coming so easy.  She wore robes, and carried no weapons; her hands were smooth and her hooves shining.   If she breathed, the knight would have lost the ability � it felt like a knife in her chest, and she wished she could remember what made her smile so, and knew she would never know.

The little ones were not as little as she thought they�d be � the awkward coltishness of the adolescent female with the raven hair and the earnest laughter of the young male  and his aspirant armor were like music to her, and she drank in their antics in the garden, and even the little fight afterword (she shouldn�t have shoved him in the pond, the Knight noted) and stored that away with the faintest of smiles, something in her shuddering and warm.

And then /he/ was there � the one with the golden eyes, tall and strong and so beautiful.  In his apron, spotted and worn from his work � she remembered now.  He cooked for the temple, and helped maintain the grounds.  She watched how he hugged the young ones, how he laughed over their stories and kissed the person she used to be and she wished � for the thousandth time � that she could cry. 

She watched them sleep. 

The next day, she watched them leave � and she went down to the little house, empty and expectant, and, removing a gauntlet, passed her hand over the door�s locking crystal, and it knew her, and it opened. 

She moved through the space inside like a ghost � at once knowing where everything was, and seeing it all again.  There was the little bookshelf, there the cooking area.  There were the seats and the space where the little female sang sometimes, and there was the study-desk, and there the robes, hung neatly in a row. 

She took only a small crystal, a holorecord of a moment in the garden, a gift from a family friend –  and she remembered that it went missing and she wondered how she knew that.

 

And then she left.  And she went back, and she snuck in in the middle of the night to touch Ygraine�s forehead and to smile and, the next day, to find a rough bookshelf that wobbled. 

And, on top of that shelf?  She put a crystal, glowing purple and warm.  

Author Aunne
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