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Originally written October 4, 2011.

She lay draped over a cot, with a blanket crumpled at her waist. Outside her tent, the camp stirred with signs of morning, campfires flickering back to life with new wood after a long night's sigh, soldiers pulling back the flaps of tents, and armor clanking as it was again donned.

 

Arialynn's rest was interrupted by the flap of her own tent curling backward, and a woman with hair as vibrant as flame stooping inside. She was unarmored, but bore the body of a seasoned veteran, muscled and sure-footed.

 

"Sorry to wake you without knocking, Ari," the woman began, settling down on a stool by a small wooden desk. "But got some things that need to be looked at."

 

The lady knight stirred. The tiny width of her cot, and the lack of a familiar warmth beside her were the first two sensations she registered, along with the sound of distant clanging of a hammer and anvil from the nearby makeshift smithy. She was in Hyjal still, but she was certain she fell asleep only a few hours ago.

 

"Kory," she spoke as she rose to a sitting position. Out of unconscious habit, her hands worked over her hair till it was braided and lay untied but managed over her left shoulder. "You of all people do not need to knock. What news?"

 

"You look like shit," Koryander said with a grin, but it quickly faded. "We have an opportunity tonight to strike deep in the Firelands, some of the other battalions came back pretty victorious, but you know how the Firelands is – the longer you stay, the worse you get."

 

"Aye," Arialynn nodded. "Where on the line did they make progress?"

 

"Got that here," Koryander unfurled a map that was singed at the edges, Arialynn had a fleeting moment to think that the burnt map was appropriate: it depicted the Firelands by a cartographer's careful hand. "East. Some of the Templars already heard about it in camp, and they're rearing to go, pick up where the others left off."

 

"Tell them to make ready then," Arialynn replied, rising from the cot and walking toward the wash bin. "We will need that vigor and courage. Is there more news?"

 

"Yes, a letter from the Conjurer's Court. I'll – um, well. Already took a look at it."

 

"We have talked about this before, there is no need for me to be discreet about my mail. Should I fall in battle, it is best that one is readily able to take my place – and that includes taking up all Templar affairs, and eventually settling mine." Arialynn splashed water on her face.

 

Koryander winced, her murmured affirmative came several moments late, and quickly drew Arialynn's eye.

 

"Aye, I know," Arialynn replied quietly to Koryander's strained silence, and an awkward moment hung between them. It was clear that the two stood on the precipice of an old argument, one with all avenues exhausted but the debate still unsettled, and smoldering between them.

 

It was several moments until the lady knight finally dried her face with a towel and returned to sit on the edge of the cot. Her words were a breathed sigh.

 

"Kory, how are you holding up?"

 

"Fine," Koryander replied tersely. "Better, kind of. I can't tell whether the Firelands is helping or hurting in all this. It's personal so it's keeping me focused, but I swear it's also driving me insane. All that rage is always on the edge of my mind. At least I have something I can unleash it on, but still…" She trailed off, one hand running through the side of her hair and grabbing a handful of locks at her temple.

 

"I have come to rely on your energy in this campaign. You are always leagues ahead of me each morning. The Templars would be accustomed to sleeping in if they relied solely on me to lead this campaign."

 

"Well, you're constantly traveling, and – "

 

"That should not matter, the campaign is always first. Thank you, Kory."

 

Red eyebrows shot up, and her fingers unknotted from her hair. "W-what?"

 

"Thank you," Arialynn repeated. Her tone was deeply genuine and words delivered with a slow nod.

 

Koryander worked through too difficult of a knot in her throat to make her reply, so she quickly resorted to a crushing hug, and an audible oomph! from Arialynn from somewhere within the vice embrace.

 

"Whoops, not the time to get soft," Koryander released her friend and flashed a grin. "Get your lazy ass up and I'll see you at breakfast. I think they're serving more delicious gruel today. You should really get on that and get some real cuisine served up here. I'm thinking steak."

 

"Yes, well…" Arialynn replied with well-practiced patience, regaining her breath from being so impossibly squeezed. "Food is among the first accommodations to be sacrificed for war. The others are sleep and privacy."

 

"Sorry for barging in on you, Ari."

 

"I told you, do not think of it. Is there anything else?"

 

"Nope, see you at breakfast. I will leave this letter with you," Koryander gently tossed a letter atop the desk, it was plain and bore the symbol of the Conjurer's Court.

 

"Thank you."

 

"Those words don't quite have the some punch as they did a moment ago."

 

"That will be all, Kory," Arialynn replied with pointed emphasis, retrieving the letter.

 

Koryander widened her grin.

 

"Heh, all right. See you at breakfast."

Author Ari
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