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It was over.

Since Emma and Mallory had stepped back out of obscurity and into the Templars’ ranks, each day had been an exhausting blur of combat, searing physical pain in Emma’s case, emotional trauma in Mallory’s case, and extraordinary tension. Even the level-headed Mallory had been brought to her limits by it, slipping into Shadowform in her worst moments.

She now reclined in the boughs of a tree in Teldrassil, pondering the events of the last few weeks. Artemis had proved to be as loyal a friend as ever, and Mallory had sought to repay it in spades by convincing her to join the Templars. She knew they would be good for her, and allowed herself a satisfied smile. She hadn’t really expected it to work. Of course Artemis had given her hell when she saw the application (“‘What are the reasons why you wish to pledge fealty to the Rose?’ …Mallory!”), but it was worth it and so far, Artemis didn’t seem to have gotten cold feet about it, even having a decent conversation with Arialynn Dawnfield.

Mallory wondered how Artemis felt about this… She was sure that her friend wasn’t convinced it was a good idea, and that she was only doing it for her. But even though they were still processing her application, Mallory could see the death knight benefitting from the group already. She’d gotten to release her pent-up need for violence in the battle against Bairne, and found a kindred spirit in the worgen Xodius…who didn’t seem so bad now that Mallory had gotten over him scaring the daylights out of her when they had first met.

Of course, Mallory would benefit from Artemis’ membership as well, should they accept her. She already had. With Artemis’ formidable skill in combat, Mallory felt that she was never more safe than when her friend was present.

But when it was all said and done, her other new acquaintance, Robin, had expressed displeasure at some Templars’ irritations – Mallory’s included – at being shooed out of the cavern in Hyjal where the showdown had taken place. Mallory felt the need to clarify to her gnomish friend that she had merely hoped for the closure of seeing Bairne’s time end, not for the chance to end it herself. That would have been torture, which Artemis stated bluntly was far beyond Mallory.

That bothered her… She wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t that she minded the idea of torture being beyond her… She was glad that Artemis couldn’t picture her committing such atrocities… But the wording of the statement implied that it didn’t apply to Artemis. That she HAD committed such heinous acts. For an instant, an image had flashed through Mallory’s mind, and again now, of a Lich King-controlled Artemis standing over a torture rack with some helpless victim upon it and a wicked, eager grin upon her face, the imaginary victim screaming for help, then mercy…and finally for death. The image shook Mallory deeply. She knew in her head that Artemis had died long ago, and was raised as a servant of the Lich King. She knew that. But she also knew Artemis had broken free, and though she retained her capacity for vicious attacks, she had a heart of gold.

She didn’t have to help me, Mallory thought. But she did anyway. Over and over…and over.

A breeze rustled the trees, teasing her hair. As she took in a breath that felt downright heavenly, she wondered…was it wrong of her to want to see Bairne dead, to even devote a single thought to Artemis’ past when she had no control of it? The emotional tensions of the last few weeks had certainly driven her to extremes. After this creature had nearly killed Emma and several others, was it wrong that she wanted to see its time end with her own eyes?

But then, she realized she was happy and content to move on to other thoughts…such as when she had realized that Robin had never been to Darnassus before. Mallory had eagerly given her a tour of the city, starting with the Temple of the Moon. But that was when her curiosity about Artemis’ past had lit up. Not her death knight past…her days before that.

During Mallory’s explanation of the moondial that would have been located in the original temple in Suramar, Artemis indicated that she remembered it. The statement made Mallory’s heart stop and a chill rush through her. Even now, thinking back on it, it gave her chills. She didn’t have to search her feelings very deeply here. She was jealous, plain and simple. What she would have given to see the grand architecture of Zin Azshari at the pinnacle of its splendor… The original temple’s ornate stone dais and its roof open to the evening stars.

Many of the facts she knew about the original temple in Suramar matched up with her theories about Elune as a naaru – but few would ever help her research them, and even Artemis seemed to merely tolerate them. Her mind drifted on to great figures of the past, men and women of the Light whose views were considered scandalous and heretical, only to be proven right soon after their passing. She wondered if that would be her fate. Maybe she should take a more hands-on approach, delving into ancient kaldorei ruins to see if she could find anything that would support or rule out her theories… At least then she could put the matter to rest, one way or another. Given the draenei’s connection to naaru, Mallory reasoned, maybe she could find a draenei or two who would be willing to help with such an excursion.

But that would all need to wait, at least for a short time. Artemis was walking in the forest below, and Mallory wanted to speak with her friend again. She carefully climbed down and began seeking the former Night Warden. More conversations would be had tonight, and rain would fall on a clear day before all was done.

Author Rann
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