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Mallory slung her pack over her shoulder and looked over at her sister. Emma had recovered marvelously from her wounds, but still had a limp in her walk and had not yet donned full plate armor, only lighter mail. She was eager, however, to carry her belongings to the ship as they prepared to depart Westguard Keep and Northrend. 


The excursion to Dalaran in search of Kageseji had been at least partially successful. They had a warmer trail now than previously, and the grim knowledge that the young mage had been imprisoned.


On the other side of the room, the Warden Doradrassil leaned against the wall, one finger pressed over her lips as if hushing someone, staring off into space in deep thought. As the two human women made for the door, Doradrassil looked almost startled, seeming to have forgotten they were there. She left her post at the wall and walked with the sisters, her stride neat, efficient and deliberate as a march that had been done many times. She said nothing. 


They met Ærtemis at the keep's courtyard. "Ready?" Mallory asked, to which the death knight responded with a curt nod. She carried only a small satchel of belongings, making the others seem quite materialistic in comparison.


"How goes your recovery?" Ærtemis asked of Emma. 


"Fantastic, considering," Emma replied. Considering all she had been through, any recovery at all seemed downright miraculous. "I was able to work on the training dummies for awhile ysterday," she continued, pointing to them in a far corner of Westguard's walls. Ærtemis' head turned to follow the direction Emma pointed. Doradrassil frowned and looked at Mallory. The two exchanged a brief glance.


Mallory knew what was on her friend's mind. Ærtemis had nearly snapped in Dalaran at the possibility that Kageseji could be held in Tol Barad. The day that had passed since likely wasn't enough for it to sink in, and even if it had, she would be enraged all over again upon seeing the island. It was a bleak and miserable place reserved for the most dangerous of criminals. Mallory would have thought it a fitting place for Garrosh Hellscream to rot, except that she had heard it was falling apart and likely wouldn't hold him for very long. But she had never seen it in person, and she doubted that Ærtemis had, either. It didn't matter though…its reputation preceded it. And if it lived up to even half of its reputation, every living thing around would be in grave danger when Ærtemis discovered it. The cruelty of imprisoning a child there would be too much. One look at Doradrassil told her the Warden's thoughts ran along the same lines. 


Ærtemis finally looked away from the training dummies and continued walking with them, discussing Emma's recovery with her. Once they were on board the ship, Ærtemis disappeared below deck while Mallory found Doradrassil looking about from the stern.


"So this was your first time to Northrend, huh?" Mallory asked.


"Yes… It's breathtaking," Doradrassil answered. "I thought it would all be snow drifts and tundra. We're going to have to restrain our friend, you know."


"I…was just coming to talk to you about that, actually."


Doradrassil looked at Mallory. "She'll be too much of a danger to herself and others at Tol Barad if the mage is there. She'd likely kill me if I tried to restrain her myself. Don't ever tell her I said so, but she's my better with a blade. But you or Emma, though… you're too important to her. She might hate you for it, but she wouldn't hurt you."


Mallory thought about it. "And if we don't, people who didn't imprison Kage might die just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time."


Doradrassil nodded. "And the last thing Ærtemis needs is for the Wardens to have a real reason to keep her out of Darnassus. She'll need to sit this one out."


"I didn't think she'd make this so personal," Mallory confessed.


Doradrassil stared at Mallory for awhile before finally responding. "Do you know why it's so personal to her?"


"Well yeah. Her commander in the Ebon Blade was Kageseji's dad."


Doradrassil shook her head and leaned against the railing. "That's not it," she said. She opened her mouth to speak again, but said nothing for a moment. Finally with great reluctance, she quietly said, "I knew her before…you know. I was her protegé, her 'little shadow.'"


Mallory's mouth hung open. "So she…trained you?" Doradrassil nodded. "So…okay, why is this so personal to her?"


Doradrassil looked down at the waves. The captain began calling out orders to the crew and the deck was soon bustling with activity. Not trusting the noise to mask her words, Doradrassil leaned over and whispered into Mallory's ear. It took no more than a second or two to say, but Mallory's hand immediately clapped over her mouth.


"But that means…"


Doradrassil nodded. "I'm afraid it does."


"But that means… but… but then THAT means… that… that means I… need to sit down…" Mallory leaned more heavily on the railing, letting Doradrassil's quiet revelation sink in as the captain's voice blurred into the background of her thoughts. The ship came unmoored from the docks and the sails unfurled. The journey for the Eastern Kingdoms and Tol Barad had begun. 

Author Rann
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