"Are you well, little shadow?"

 

Ærtemis' whisper on the night air was soft enough that Doradrassil almost thought she imagined it. Only her mentor ghosting into plain sight made her certain it had been asked at all. 

 

"Why wouldn't I be?" Doradrassil asked simply, though the words stung. She knew better. 

 

"You may be driven, but you've gone longer than is healthy without sleep."

 

"This coming from a death knight," Doradrassil answered with a smirk. She took a breath and sighed deeply. "I guess there's no harm in telling you now… Golden eyes."

 

Aertemis was silent for a moment. "What about them?"

 

"That's what's keeping me awake."

 

A long, awkward pause. Doradrassil opened her mouth to speak a couple of times, but she couldn't decide where to begin. Maybe…maybe the confession would be the best place to start. 

 

"I lied to you," she said plainly. 

 

Aertemis blinked. "When?"

 

"The first day. When you interviewed me. You asked why I wanted to become a Warden. I lied. I said I wanted to protect my loved ones. That wasn't true. I wanted to avenge them."

 

"What happened?" Aertemis asked, her head perking up at this news. 

 

"In a word, Azshara happened," Doradrassil said. "She…my parents were followers of Elune. Followers of Elune lived on the outskirts of Zin-Azshari with the 'lowborn.' That was not a coincidence. You venerated Azshara, or you were outcast. They chose that life, but did so quietly. They accepted their status with meekness, I'm told. But they believed Elune was truth, and that Azshara was nothing but lies."

 

She felt the faintest hint of a smile cross her face. "But they were also friends with Enethdran Longshadow." At the recognition in Aertemis' eyes from the name Longshadow, Doradrassil nodded. "Yes, I'm adopted. Enethdran was my father in every respect save biological. He was much more outspoken against Azshara. It earned her ire… She cursed him. It didn't stop him, and didn't seem to do anything to him." 

 

She hung her head. "Until after the Sundering. When Nordrassil was blessed by Nozdormu and granted immortality to our kind… Father kept on aging. As I said…golden eyes. I'm not overly fond of them."

 

"But you're not old enough," Aertemis recalled. "You're only… 4500, I believe?"

 

"More or less," Doradrassil answered. "I hadn't been born yet. My biological parents had me very late. Named me for all of their hopes. Azshara was lies, Elune was truth, right? So…"

 

"'Crown of Truth,'" Aertemis said. 

 

"High expectations of a child," Doradrassil remarked with a smirk. "I don't know what they were trying to say with it. That I was Elune's crown…the crown of truth…or that I would wear a crown of truth…" She shrugged. "Maybe they thought it just sounded beautiful. I suppose I'll never know… I was four when they were killed. Trolls. 

 

"Enethdran found me on the side of the road one morning. I kept my parents' last name of Spiritstar at first. Doradrassil Spiritstar. But Enethdran was cursed to age despite our immortality. He…died of old age not long before I came to join the Wardens. I took his last name to honor him for all he had done. Getting me off the streets, saving me, raising me as his own daughter, making something out of me."

 

Another long pause. "I've heard you humming a song to yourself at times," Aertemis mused. "Does it come from him?"

 

Doradrassil smiled. "It does indeed. 'The Tree of Life,' he called it."

 

"Ironic that he'd hum a song about a tree that brought life to all except him," Aertemis pointed out.

 

"I used to think so too," Doradrassil admitted. "But… I don't think that's what he was getting at."

 

At Aertemis' curious head tilt, Doradrassil smiled. "Well… my name sounds like a tree, doesn't it?"

 

Author Rann
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