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Orginally written April 19, 2012.

Kal'dorei lands always made discerning the time of day difficult. The sky was awash in twilight colors, and hues of gray, purple, blue and pale white often, in Arialynn's mind, hinted at dawn or dusk. But she knew the true hour to still be early, too early for rest.


She sat in repose, a shealthed sword against her shoulder, a shield and mace on-hand. Her legs remained in front of her, bent just enough to relax the muscle and avoid the pinch of metal. Plate armor was hardly condusive to sitting, and was often more of a hindrence in non-battle situations. But the lady knight was familiar with periods of wait, and so she sat without complaint, her eyes on the nearby Teldrassil shore.


It was her shift to stand watch, and she took the opportunity to reflect. Every muscle and fiber of her being felt the burden of the passing week's stresses, and her mind was not without its own fatigue. The Choir was an enemy that the Templars were unsuited to battle, and that shortcoming had taxed each Templar to their personal limit, the lady knight included. She knew that the Rose had many more mountains to climb before it could fulfill every tenant of its charter, the passing weeks painted those weaknesses in sharper clarity.


A part of her was grateful for the test of mettle, and another part prepared itself for the days of healing and rebuilding ahead.


A kal'dorei patrol passed by on the shore. Arialynn watched them, noting their armor and weapons. By her own knowledge and experience, the guards appeared genuine. But her eyes watched them nonetheless, and took note of their path. Her mind, though tired, calculated the time it took for them to finish the patrol, and to start anew. Earlier, she noted the change of the guard, and became as familiar with their faces as her distance and limited vision would allow.


With cultists, she had learned, it was wise to note routine, and remain vigilant for the out-of-the-ordinary. But the Choir had been silent, if only watchful in the passing days. It seems that the cultists waited, measured the Templars' actions. It made the war between them simpler as well as more complex.


Arialynn herself remained on the eleven skiff the Templars hastily procurred for this mission. It was decided best to remain mobile, and she herself broke away from the chains of Theramore, of politics and diplomacy, of standing over the war table and discerning letter upon letter, guildstone voice upon voice. In Theramore, she felt cut off, limited, sheltered. In the field, she knew the Templars who guarded the cultist prisoner were safe, and that the mission remained on-task. In Theramore, she stood in wait. Waiting. Listening. Waiting for word. Listening for failure or success.


No more.


Recent years caught up to her. Could she be the general? Were the Templars suited for such guerrila warfare? Dragonblight, though a larger campaign, was simpler on so many accounts. The enemy and objective as clear, there was no search. Only battle, waged on the stark white battlefield, with no question where and when to strike, and when to withhold the fist and extend the open hand.


The lady knight knew that she had extended the hand and fist multiple times in the passing days. The Templars navigated rocky terrain, and the consequences of all their actions were still unclear. Their movements were like ripples, but the lake in which the water bobbed and waved was filled with obstacles. The ripples did not extend in a circular wake, but moved unexpectedly – shifting around obstacles, changing direction or halting entirely. It was a bizarre set of weeks, one that Arialynn knew would remain with her and others for a lifetime.


Hours passed in her vigil, she heard the other Templars stir from rest. The prisoner lay motionless. The twilight sky hung overhead, keeping the true hour like a hushed secret.


At her shoulder, a sword lay. It was the fist, on-hand if need be.


Leaned against her left side, the shield waited. At her belt, a simple hammer lay silent. They were the open hand, if need be.


Arialynn waited, her eyes on the shore, the passers by, the ships, the surroundings. Deep within her mind, she knew that the opportunities to make that choice were both near today and far to come.

Author Ari
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