NOTE: This is how Sage and I RP outside of the game. With just minor corrections and fixed typos, and consistency applied to tense (we slip back and forth between present and past tense), this is practically a copy-and-paste from one of our RP sessions on Google Hangouts that we just bounce back and forth on over several days. 😀

 

A familiar voice in a familiar soft not-whisper sounded just off to Mallory’s side moments after she was alone. “Hey, Mal. Do you have a few minutes?” The comforting echo of the death warden’s silibant tones did not carry, and could be said to rumble of they were any tones deeper than a low alto.

 

“Of course. What’s up?” Mallory smiled at Aertemis’ voice, as she always did. 

 

“I do owe you a belated birthday present.” Ghosting out of no real cover at all, Aertemis gave a slight formal bow.

 

“Ohhhhhh? This should be fun!” Mallory turned to Aertemis with a grin of anticipation. “This must be what you and Peter were whispering about that one time.” She gave Peter a look from across the way. He smirked in answer.

 

Aertemis chuckles softly, the calm, small not-quite-smile perhaps exactly the expression on Aertemis’ face most often in life. “It is, though it has a few other parts and materials I neglected to mention.” She held out a package carefully, a soft hiss of steam from her hand even through the fabric that made it a somewhat bulky prospect. No smoke, and she did not comment or indicate anything beyond a soft smile. “Put as much into this as I do my own blades.”

 

Mallory narrowed her eyes in curiosity and confusion, trying to silently guess but seemingly coming up empty. She carefully took the present and grinned at the wrapping paper, imagining Aertemis doing gift wrap. She carefully opened it. 

 

The wrapping proved to be several thick layers of soft linen and silk fabric, and when Mallory finally reached the contents, she could suddenly understand how it made Aertemis’ hand smoke even through the wrappings. The dagger had a blade as long as her hand, elegant and simple, a small groove down the middle. Both sides looked sharp enough to draw blood from the air, and in the soft light of Shadowmoon the blade itself sparkled with an iridescent, almost eerie glitter. The hilt had a thin silver-looking thread wound about it like vines adorning a grip and handguard in the shape of a stylized naaru. On the pommel was a small round stone that gleamed with light — a blessed shard of the moon that had fallen to earth, silver the color again wrapping it in elegant designs reminiscent of the Temple of the Moon. The color of the blade under the iridescence was the same as the weapons of the Wardens — star metal, only this blade looked like a night sky.

 

Mallory’s mouth hung open in shock and goosebumps came over her as she turned the dagger over in her hands. “I… How did you… This is GORGEOUS! Aertemis, this is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen…” She ran her fingers along the groove and over the goldstone and moonstone.

 

Aertemis smiled softly. “With the same care I take with my own. Every ingredient in there is either holy or related to E’lune and the naaru. I used holy water in the tempering. Simple things like that.”

 

“But how did you use ho…” She looked at Aertemis’ hands, then her jaw dropped a little further. “You didn’t. Aertemis! Let me see your hands.”

 

Aertemis raised an eyebrow and folded her arms in that casual way, leaning her weight on one leg as if against a wall — her usual stance. “Whyever for?”

 

Mallory held out her hand to Aertemis, a pout on her face, the hand with the dagger on her hip. “How bad did you hurt yourself doing this?”

 

“It’s nothing, I’ve had worse.” There was a lot that the death knight could mean by that and her definition of ‘had worse’ might be used to describe almost any injury.

 

Mallory stepped toward Aertemis and grabbed her hand, gently unlatching the gauntlet.

 

Aertemis sighed, allowing Mallory to do as she pleased. “I made something for your sister too, something simpler and based on the sword once used by a friend of mine. Swords are easier — I work them more.” Her hand, when uncovered, proved to be the mess Mallory had feared it would be. If she were living, her hand would be seeping from where her skin naturally creases, and it was clear from the careful but awkward way her hand was wrapped that she did it herself. Stoic described her well — she should be in clear pain from the sheer level of raw burn that ran halfway up her forearm. When Mallory saw that extent, another sigh from Aertemis. “I’m fine.”

 

“No you’re not!” Mallory said, horrified at the sight. “E’lune, Light, please look upon this one whose body has been wracked, whose mind was subjugated, but whose heart burns bright as the sun… Look upon her gently with your softest light… Heal her softly that you do not melt or burn her… For she is not damned, not to me. Bless her, Light, but bless her gently, for she is fragile. Heal her, but heal her with care, for she is tender.” She pressed her hands against the wounds despite the frost all over them, carefully watching Aertemis’ eyes for any signs of pain. “Thank you,” Mallory finally said. “I know this was no small thing. It’s incredible.”

 

Aertemis shook her head, closing her unnaturally blue eyes. “Small enough. I would still be an unwelcome ghost haunting my home, or haunting elsewhere in the world, if it weren’t for you. The day we met I was leaving for the other side of the world.” She had kept her eyes closed as she spoke. It was a good bit through the healing when the lambent azure orbs opened again, calm but for the smallest spark of pain well hidden in their depths. “You serve as a check on my insanity these days.”

 

A moment’s pause and she looked away. “It did not hurt much, while I was working. It was easy enough to forget the pain when I was focusing on the work… and this… was nothing, after some of the things I have been through. So really, it is little enough, but at least it is something I can do passably.”

 

Mallory, noticing the pain, stopped and just held Aertemis’ hand against her cheek, a single tear coming from her eye. “I suppose so. Thank you. I wish your relationship to the Light didn’t have to be like this.”

 

“…It doesn’t hurt as much when it’s yours… and… It’s ok. All the wishing in the world cannot change what is, whether what is came by choice or not. So it’s ok, when you do it. Even though it still hurts when it is the Light its self. It hurts like a sunburn, not like it is trying to rip me apart.”

 

Mallory chuckled. “Now I’m picturing old-you sunbathing.” She put her hand to her face and shook her head with a grin.

 

“…you’ll have to ask Doradrassil if I ever did. I can’t say I remember it.” A quiet smile, as Aert brushed what remained of the tear from Mallory’s face. “D’you know where your sister is? I’d like to give her her belated gift as well.”

 

“She’s been alternating each day between guarding the fort during her shift, and guarding me. She guarded me yesterday, so she’s probably on the battlements… You said hers is a sword?”

 

“A longsword. The design is simpler, designed with a purity of purpose in mind. I experimented with a few things I have been using on my own blades in combination and it came out well.”

 

“Wow. Can’t wait to see it.” She smiled.

 

“With yours I imagine more use as an althame than a weapon. One of the reasons why I incorporated moonstone into the blade its self. It is ever so slightly weaker than if it were pure star metal, but it’ll focus holy all the better for you.”

 

“Sorry… Althame? Oh, a focusing thingie. Cool! That’ll work really nicely with some other stuff I picked up recently.”

 

Aertemis reclaimed her hand and recovered it with the gauntlet… Hiding what remained of burns and bandages. “I’ll let you get back to relaxing. Please put up with the obscene security for a bit longer… We have an idea about the current threat and it should be over soon.”

 

Mallory nodded. “I hope so. I’ve got some teams I’d like to check on in Gorgrond and Frostfire. Take care, Aert.”

 

She bowed formally and remained in sight as she walked past, pausing near Peter. “I trust your discretion. I will be around in a while.”

 

Peter swallowed hard and saluted the death warden.

 

* * *

 

“Hello, little Light.”  Aert’s soft voice sounded behind Emma as the death warden let her stealth fall away, a cloth wrapped bundle in one hand.

 

Emma jumped just a little, spinning around quickly, hand on her sword hilt. “Oh…hey, Aertemis. Any luck finding our stubborn little assassin?”

 

“Not really.  She is my equal or better at stealth so she is either gone or cornered.  I was looking for you, actually.” She held the cloth-wrapped thin bundle out. Heavy silk-linen blended fabric in white brocade bound with a cord of woven gold silk rope. “A belated birthday gift.”

 

Emma looked disappointed and discouraged at the news on the assassin, but brightens and blinks at the birthday gift. “Seriously?”

 

Aertemis nodded.  “My apologies for its tardiness- I was working on two projects at once, and both yours and mal’s required a few unusual materials and special work.  I hoped to have them done in time but… Things got messy.  So here.  Use it in good health.” She tilted the bundle toward Emma and bowed lightly, vaguely looking like a servant handing something to a superior.

 

Emma looked surprised at the gift and especially at Aertemis’ bow. She curiously took the package and untied the rope.

 

A sword slipped free, hilt first. The sheath was a mirrorlike base with the line, “Guided and guarded by the Light” inlaid in gold that had the same reflective quality. The pommel was a clear aquamarine, in a delicate solid weave of golden metal that proved to be much harder. The guard and quillions were a unique design, vaguely similar to things the death knight had made in the past but combined together.  The blade was star metal, given a silver sheen by other alloys folded into it. Runes that ran down the blade beside the blood groove read, “I purify the evil that hides in the dark.” It is simple in design but elegant in its purity of function.

 

Emma’s eyes widened, and she blinked several times. “This…wow. Wow! This is incredible craftsmanship! You MADE this?!”

 

Aertemis nodded.  “It’s a simple design, but it is modeled after the blade of a friend of mine… loosely.  I figured you would appreciate function over sparkle.  You like it, then?”  She seemed to genuinely not understand Emma’s reaction, softly glowing eyes focused on the paladin calmly, truly acting as though this were nothing special.

 

“Like it? This is the most amazing blade I’ve ever seen! Hon, you could be a legendary smithy! I… Wow, thank you!”

 

“Pfft.” Aertemis waved off the legendary smithy comment.  “I’ve only been at the hobby for… five years or so. I’m passable, not great.”

 

“What?!” Emma gaped at her. “I’m…not kidding. Seriously. If this is five years of experience… Aertemis, you’re gifted.”

 

“…I get a lot of practice.  It probably equates to a decade for someone who sleeps.” Another shrug, and a nod.  “You will probably need a little practice with it to get used to the weight — it’s a good measure lighter than most longswords.”

 

“Yeah, it’s very nice.” She bounced it in her hand, and turned to one side to take a couple of practice swings. “Is it as strong as it is light? I mean, it looks…so ornamental.”

 

Aertemis chuckled softly.  “You’ve seen the abuse I put my weapons through on the target dummies, right?  That sword is stronger than the ones I am currently using.” Aert bowed lightly, turning to leave.  “I’ll leave you to it, then.”

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