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She walked beneath the trees of Moonglade alone. The glade was immune to night. Instead, its sky was a perpetual twilight that bathed the land below in soothing turquoise and green. But beneath the trees, the twilight dimmed to its closest shade of night with purples and blues. Her bare feet silently passing over the wet-leaf blanket over the ground, Anarial slipped through the forest with her gaze drawn to the sky, peering through the tiniest breaks in the tree canopy.

Not heeding where her feet wandered, Anarial’s gaze squinted at the soaring mountain peaks that circled the glade. In spite of the far distance, she could still spy a flicker of flame that sprang to life then extinguished, appearing from mountaintop to mountaintop, like fiery, sequential beacons lit to warn of oncoming danger. She knew the origin of the flame and watched its distant dance, brightly blazing and abruptly snuffing, but its pattern still tireless and endless.

She found her hands clutching herself, rubbing her arms despite the lack of cold. The glade could only bear the mildest frost and did not know winter, yet Anarial felt a chill writhe down her spine. She knew the origin of the flickering flame; it was a fire too familiar for words. It felt like an old friend who needed no introduction or explanation, and yet it was the kind of old friend whose intimacy could give way to devastating hostility — and one that burned red hot and knew all your secrets and just how to twist them.

And so the sight of the flame made her breath catch in her throat and body shiver. Her gaze could not break away from the torches in the night that called to her, knew her name, knew where she dwelled, and questioned why she remained.

D’Arsano. Be patient. We know nothing yet. We are grasping at fears and running head first into things. We should wait. Wait. Stay.

Stay.

The old druid’s words barked in her ears even as her gaze disobeyed him. It was as if her gaze could sneak away and do what her body wished — to leave Moonglade and pursue the flame once again, and pursue it to the edges of Azeroth. Oh, if the druid could see her now, would he know how far she toed his every line? And why did she still listen to him, after all these years? She was a druid in her own right now, no longer under tutelage of anyone. Yet D’Arsano’s words still kept hold on her, like a grown pup that never forgets the chastising nip of its parent. Was it wisdom in his words that kept her here, or fear of his disappointment?

Kanta. Stay here, with me, with us, the children. They need you.  I need you. You have been so distant lately. Anarial, what is on your mind? What is going on?

Student, Sentinel, Captain, Templar, friend, husband. Kanta Wildsabre played too many parts in her life and she found herself often confused. The sight of him brought so many memories — of barking instructions and smacking the back of his hands in Ashenvale as a teacher does to a student; of hunting satyrs as Sentinels on equal footing; of rolling her eyes and teasing him as he fit into the captain’s uniform for the first time; of years later taking on the mantle of the rose and cross; of years of watching him from the shadows to keep him from trouble; of the recent year when both finally acted on the bond that sparked between them the moment they met.

The sight of him was always the same: the same scars on his face, the same dour expression. The expression burned in her memory was one of loss and disappointment. She knew her recent infatuation stabbed at him, her new distance clawed at his every worry. Every time she slipped away and came back again, she could see his gaze, even when he was absent when she slipped back home. The gaze was at first relief, then hurt. The relief was always brief, the hurt always stayed, and it languished as heavy, unspoken words hung between them.

Why did she tax him so much? She knew Kanta too well to test his limits. She knew where each of them were. Was it love for him that made her stay, or was it guilt? What bonds was she breaking by splitting her time so clearly in two? What hurt was sewn in the twins’ eyes as they saw Anarial slip away once again, gone again for hours, days? What family was she neglecting, abandoning, avoiding?

Was she doing it all again?

Her eyes remained on the flickering flame, still. Somewhere in Moonglade, a bird chirped, hailing the onset of dawn. Such a chirp was the only way to determine night and day in the glade, and yet Anarial kept to the trees, treating the oncoming day as an extension of her restless night, endlessly wandering and circling.

Author Ari
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