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Originally written January 28, 2013.

A crackling fire warmed her as rain coated the outside window pane. Gently bobbing on its hook over the fire, a cast-iron kettle murmured in anticipation of a boil. Atop the mantle, a clock with telltale Gnomish design clicked and whirred the hour: 3 o’clock, afternoon.

 

Across the hearth, Arialynn Dawnfield sat partly reclined, the chair beneath her sturdy but cushioned with an inclined back. Despite the thoughtful accommodation by what must have been a skilled carpenter, the lady knight appeared tense, her brow wrinkled in deep thought. Her eyes worked over an array of letters, her hand stood poised with a pen over a fresh piece of parchment. As she set herself to write again, her frown deepened and she started her words anew.

 

Her first interruption was the kettle, sounding with a hissing trumpet of steam and bobbing impatiently as she rose and removed it from the fire to pour a fresh cup. Her movements were careful, undertaken with the mindful slowness of one in the midst of recovery.

 

Her second interruption, starting immediately after the first, was a set of waking cries. They were initially quiet as the newborn was stirred awake by the kettle. His eyes clenched tightly shut and expression changed from serene sleep to deep discomfort. As the kettle’s hiss grew louder, as did the child’s cries, and he lay upset till his mother silenced the kettle then took him into her arms.

 

After he refused to be fed, she consoled him with a patient, rhythmic sway in her arms. After many moments, the newborn finally quieted and lay asleep against her shoulder. She took him again to his crib to lay. As she gently bedded him once more, she refolded the blankets that swaddled him, some having come loose from his brief tantrum.

 

The kettle and child tended to, the lady knight returned to work with a teacup in hand.

 

The letters were arranged over the table in order, the pen and hand now determined to be that of her former captor, or one in league with him. She resumed her study, noting the dates and locations of each letter. She wrote:

 

The handwriting in each letter is the same, therefore they were all likely penned by the same author. He or she first sent a letter to Theramore, the date was before its fall. It is clear that this letter never reached its intended destination, else it too would have been destroyed.

 

According to the postmaster, many letters bound to Theramore were returned to the sender or in the case of none, rerouted to Menethil then Stormwind, with the benign intent of gifting the letters to surviving kin. This letter, according to the clergy, remained at the Cathedral of Light for month till an observant bishop who knew me personally found it and routed it to the Shrine of the Seven Stars. In terms of order, this letter was received first.

 

She paused to drink her tea and found it scalding. Without a second glance to the cup’s contents, Arialynn returned the cup to the table and resumed writing.

 

The second letter was sent to Stormwind shortly after I departed for Pandaria. It lay within the post office until the Theramore letter passed through by the bishop’s hand, marked with a Shrine address. Records of my name at the office changed from Stormwind to the Shrine, and a diligent senior postman, while reviewing neglected letters, noted the change and forwarded the second letter to Pandaria shortly after the first.

 

This marks the second individual who came to know my address, albeit this leak was unintentional. The address records at the post office are accessible by a privileged few of the managerial staff. In terms of order, this letter was received second, but notably only one week after the first.

 

Within his crib, the newborn stirred, urging his mother to pause. However, the stirring was brief and the child remained fitfully asleep. Even as new as she was to motherhood, the lady knight recognized that the infant was not yet ready for intervention. With a careful eye still to her son, her writing continued.

 

The third letter was sent directly to the Shrine; however, it was penned months after the first and second. Whether its chosen address was intentional or guessed, I cannot be sure. However, its predecessors had already arrived at the Shrine by the time this letter was written, so it may have been the end of a logical conclusion as all the letters funneled into one place. A confirmation letter, if it were. In terms of order, the third letter was received third.

 

The investigation from this point forward grows increasingly vague. If my address at the Shrine was known prior to the third letter, then it is suspect that I was left alone for approximately two weeks while I let that letter and its brethren go unanswered. This waiting period either paints my captors as inept or laying in wait for an opportune moment.

 

But this brings into question what the opportunity was. It cannot be a coincidence that Chieftain Kormok Wraithverge was present at my intended execution, or that my captors were determined at illogical costs to take me from the Shrine to Krasarang. Oddly, it seemed that my pregnancy was a surprise to them, therefore my individual death or simple presence was likely more desired than my condition. My appearance was perhaps then an unanticipated gain. But our Horde audience was largely slaughtered by the Alliance rescue party, therefore if a spectacle was intended, it was either incompetently executed or not intended at all. It is unknown whether the Chieftain was expected to react in a way other than he did, or if my execution or his capture was the primary objective. It is likely essential to discover who was the intended victim and pawn, for those designations are not one in the same.

 

It is also unknown whether his clan knows the details of his capture. I have contemplated the wisdom of reaching out to them directly to give them my account. However, given the unknown nature of the enemy, it is uncertain where and who it is wise to speak to at this moment till more is known. My account is also lacking in essential detail and would not assuage the  questions they likely have about who was behind this.

 

The infant stirred awake again, his cries already at a high volume despite little preparation. This urged Arialynn to act quickly and forgo writing to tend to the child. Despite all her efforts, his cries escalated. At first, she offered an opportunity to eat, but the infant refused. When she rocked him in a comforting hold, his cries increased till his face went red from his screams.

 

Finally, Arialynn lay him on his back and began a careful examination. His eyes, ears, mouth, nose were clear from rash or ailment. She loosened the blankets that swaddled him and examined his fingers, chest, his cloth diaper, then feet. There, wrapped around the pinky of one of his toes, caught and curled within his swaddling, was a single hair wound tight. Its presence within his blankets was likely accidental and innocent, but its presence shifted from inconsequential to painful as the infant’s toe turned deep red and swelled from cut circulation.

 

The infant slowly quieted as his mother removed the hair and kissed the reddened toe that it had gradually choked. Bringing the child to her chest, she rocked him till his panic eased and peaceful sleep returned to him once more.

 

Again, she lay him in his crib, more careful as she wrapped him snugly once more in his blankets. This time, she left no hair or lingering fur within to cause harm again.

 

While standing at her son’s bedside, Arialynn looked across the room to the letters on the table for a long pensive moment. She then closed the distance and took up the pen.

 

The Chieftain must be questioned. Not for Horde intel, as is tradition for a prisoner of war, but to find the reasons why someone would want him present at the scene of my death. That detail is the unwanted hair in the weave.

Author Ari
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