It is inevetably a true statement that when something is unnecessary, it becomes a luxury – something to be savored, enjoyed.  Rather than a rote task, the actual doing of the thing becomes subject to intense focus, every sensation new every time it’s attempted.  Aunne knew, somehow, that that was how many humans approached chocolate.  She suspected, though would never say, that the strange brown sweet bean-flour and bovine-milk composite was somehow both addictive and a drug, as devastating to humans as catnip was to Zen.

For her, though, it was breathing.  She often forgot to breathe, when there was no conversation to be had, or just a series of tasks to do.  There were times when she’d gone without breathing for days at a time, as it required a certain conscious effort and she honestly didn’t see the point, especially when she was stabbing demons who, despite all of their pontificating, seemed to rarely… well.  Bathe.  

Demons definitely weren’t worth wasting breathing on, most of the time.   Nope.

As she sat down in the dungeons under Westgate, Etsiyona’s heavy paw dragged into her lap while the worgen slept, she indulged.  

In. 

The smell of Wei’s cooking, still floating on the air.    The somewhat musty smell of her own clothing – she made a mental note that it needed a wash.  The scent of frost in the air.  Steel, from the humans nearby, the guards just outside the door.  But most of all? The smell of fur and leaves and growing things.  

Out.

She chuckled, softly – recognizing the odd feeling as ‘joy’, and for a moment not worrying about everything that had to be done still, the long weeks of recovery ahead for her friends, and the friends of her friends.  Everyone was home, and, if not whole, not /gone/.  It was a gift, in winter, and she was never one to not appreciate a gift.

The draenei stroked the paw in her lap fondly.

The words in her mind remained unspoken.  She hoped.  Sometimes she forgot not to speak them, but it was only Ets… Elli, who was her friend, and would not mind, except waking her up was … bad.  Unkind.  

“It is alright, Elli – I will go check on him, too, yes?  Sleep.”  And she returned the worgen’s paw to her – and, surprisingly silent, without her armor, made her way out of the dungeon and up, into the keep proper.  Her hooves walked a now-familiar path across the cobbles and the grass, up the stairs, left – three dors, to Acele’s room.  She had learned the trick, now, of opening  the door silently enough /not/ to wake him – on the third try.  

She checked in – asleep.  Good.  He seemed .. peaceful enough.  She closed the door again, and paced the hall outside.  

Clopclopclop.  Turn.  five steps, a pause, then five steps.  Guarding.  Because Elli asked it of her.  But still, she thought, and considered – at one point, drawing one of her runeblades (Wrath), and idly turning it over and over again, spinning it occasionally at the wrist.  Something to do with idle hands.

The guards called the morning watch at two hours past midnight, and she made her own decision.  

Her space beneath the cells, in the forgotten corner of the cellars of the keep was still present – her plants still grew with almost ecstatic joy.   There were the flytraps – and she took a moment to feed and coo to them.  There?  The silverleaf insistent on eating the stone – she’d have to do something about that one of these days, but the glow was very bright and it was happy.  Her mageroyal – everblooming..  and her long table with its piecemeal glasswork, ancient and cobbled-together burners and alembic.  She gathered paper and quill and ink, certain dried flowers… and she smiled.

————————-

Outside of Elli’s cell was left a small pot, where a … plant rested, actually snoring as it … apparently slept.  The flytrap was nearly a foot across, the biggest of the ones remaining in Aunne’s laboritory.  Next to it was a short note, written on a bit of animal vellum::

– Elli –


His name is Gregor.  Please to pet him sometimes, and he eats once a week.  He very much likes rats and sometimes racoons, and can be moody.  If it is you scratch his neckstem?  He will cuddle with you – but do mind the teeth?  They are very sharp.


I will be back soon.  Please do not worry.  Acele slept well after it is I stopped waking him up and figured out how the door was to be working.


– Aunne.

—————–

On Acele’s door, pinned with a … letter opener driven about an inch into the oak beneath, is left another letter:

Acele – 


You owe no one, and there are no debts that can be kept.  Except, there are those that owe you debts, and they will not to forget.  Etsiyona – Elli – is one of these, yes?  You saved her once, I think – I do not know, but I watch – and for her, you are her purpose.  Please be kind.


When she is free, she will to stay with me for a time.  My home is in Stormwind and it is small, but it is just Ygraine and me and it is warm and safe from the rain and cold, except when I am there.  I will write often to tell you of whatever has been happening, and you are always welcome to visit whenever you like.  I cook very well, if you are a little brave.


Please do not forget she is needing you. She needs to be serving, to pay back what it is she feels she is owing, this kindness from your time before.  It is good – all that remains from -my- time before is hurting and pain and ashes, and I cannot ever fix the things I have done.  You were a good man, and many will love you and help you – but Elli is special because she knew you best, and loved that which it is you were.  


Perhaps you will not ever remember – I have only remembered little.  For me, the life before is a book of memories written by someone else, and it is very hard for me to remember what I was.  There is only little bits and pieces of clues that say I think I was very silly, and very small, and not well remembered.  But, even so, knowing has been very valuable – because I know now that I had worth, and joy, and love, and even if these things are hard for me to find now?  The knowing matters.  I am braver.  


You will get to choose, yes?  YOu will decide, if you do not remember, what it is you will become. It will not be who you were being before, but it will not hurt you to know, a little, the man who was willing to trust the dead thing, the human who cared much for the lost, and the one who loved so much that he inspired others to follow.  There are very much worse things to have been.


I did not know you well, but you trusted me.  I hope you will trust me enough now to understand the words that I do not write well.  Right now you are not Acele-that-was… but you have all that was good of him inside of you, if you wish it.  Elli will not forget.


– Aunne.



———————————-


One more missive is sent – this one copied many times, and in both Draenic, and a … rather good translation of that Draenic in a different hand, side-by-side on the same sheet of parchment.  It arrives through various means – often delivered by the Alliance mail, but, to those in the field?  By a soldier here, and an undead vulture there.  By a floating skull, in one notable instance, and by an -arrow- in another.  Nevertheless, they arrive – all of the Unbroken recieve a copy over the next few days:

It is time.


We have waited and watched, and learned.  We have fought and lost those we care for, and we have witnessed first hand the pain that this war inflicts.  We know, perhaps better than many others, that this war is deceptive, and that we have yet to see the true might of the Legion.  We do not know what they are waiting for, or why they still bide their time, but the engagements against the elves of Suramar are at best a diversion from the true threat behind them.


Our own have been found.  The BLack Watch attacks the enemy in its stronghold.  The Templars are no longer distracted by initial casualties of this conflict, and it is time to turn our attention to the larger cause.


I once told each of you that I would call – that we could use our abilities, the training and skills we have learned for something of great worth, in service to a better purpose.  


In my search for Etsiyona, I have learned much about our enemy.  I have learned that they can and do feel pain and fear, and that they are neither monolithic nor unbeatable.  Their confidence in their abilities and power is not misplaced, but they do not know truly what they face.


I intend to teach them.


Targets and assignments come soon.  Be watchful.  Be wary.  Ready yourselves.


And, nazrethem?  YOu will read this, I am sure.  Know that we are coming for you.  Your pride will cause you to dismiss the mere idea, the possibility of a threat.   But I want you to know, here and now, that this is the beginning of your end.  Your allies will fall.  Your plans will fail.  And, by our blades and hunger, our wrath and our faith, you will find  your final ending. 

I am curious, personally, how your heart will taste.  


Aunne

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