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Originally written May 9, 2012.

The first grey shafts of dawn lit the cobblestone path between Arialynn Maewood's residence and the keep. It was a familiar path she walked each morning, but she departed her door an hour later than normal.

 

A lone, inquisitive chirp of a wakened bird greeted the lady knight as she entered the keep. Within, the keep was immune to the approach of dawn, its innards a constant drone of stone and flickering torches that burned at all hours. But instead of the war room, Arialynn turned the corner to the barracks.

 

Within, more than one Templar slept. It was difficult to discern the identity of each blanketed lump, the keep's few extinguished torches hung dark from the walls. Each lump was unique by the rhythm and sound of their own sleeping breath or light snore.

 

She did not seek to disturb their rest. Her gaze waited till the dimmed, shrouded shapes of the barracks sharpened, grew more clear. When her eyes could finally see enough, they sought a letter written in her own hand on the barrack walls.

 

…forsaking one bond of friendship and loyalty for another, her hand wrote one day earlier, the line midway down the parchment page.

 

Though scripted letters were still difficult to read in the low light, but she knew them word-for-word. The sight of the full letter recalled the full brevity of the rest, along the state of mind as she wrote it, versus the state of mind she carried now.

 

She stood motionless, her gaze on the letter. A second, separate letter was clasped in her hand. It bore thick official lettering and a stark lion seal letterhead, along with Taldrus Dawnfield's name. A summons.

 

To war, in the Alliance's name. To war, against the Horde.

 

Drafted.

 

The letter was clasped in her hand, its crisp edge just barely short of the engagement ring on her finger. A rare part of her was keenly aware of the letter's proximity, its threatening touch. That same part of her denied it that touch.

 

As she read, her body was still. It stood fixed, despite a sudden, heightened sense of an approaching dread. The approach was unseen, both silent and deafening.

 

We are particularly vulnerable in the war that appears to come, her letter wrote.

 

The lady knight recalled her calmer state of mind that wrote the words. Though the ink was one day dried, the words echoed fresh, raw and new. She thought of moments, of days and nights, words spoken and unspoken. Her mind recalled her usual solid brand of expectations, of steadfast goals and even steps. A march, a steady march to the future, one that despite mountains in-between, she was bound to reach. All she needed was time.

 

The war summons in her hand felt heavy. A simple, seemingly weightless paper bearing a small number of words threatened to shatter the solid ground beneath her.

 

The thought broke her gaze, her eyes moved to those who slept nearby. She was then sharply aware of herself, how she stood stark still in the barracks doorway, bracing against a rush of emotion visible to none, struggling to regain footing despite how her feet outwardly did not move.

 

The oncoming tide, she reminded herself.

 

With an abrupt turn, she departed the room, but the orange light cast by the keep's torches kept her long shadow lingering at the doorway several moments more.

Author Ari
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