It wasn’t the cute kind of snoring, either – it was the mouth open, tongue-lolling, drooly kind of snoring that only a worgen of Cael’s size could actually do; not loud, but insistent, not overbearing, but definitely… er… wet.
All the same, it was a comfort.
In the days after Cael brought the egg by, the Pandaren had neatly solved the worgen’s panic at incipient motherhood by simply moving into Cael’s tent until the egg hatched. Kun, of course, gave her no end of grief, but it wasn’t like that (not for lack of wishing). Sharing a tent, she could keep an eye on the egg when Cael couldn’t, could keep her runes of warmth in place… and, admittedly, ease the worgen’s panic and just make things better.
The problems really only started to crop up when Cael absolutely insisted that Petal was not to sleep on the tent floor. There wasn’t enough room for two cots, and so the Worgen simply packed her cot away, found a pair of pallets somewhere, and turned one side of the tent into a veritable nest. It was fine, at first – even guiltily wonderful – until she ran out of dreamless sleep potions and the nightmares came back.
In her own tent, she could fight sleep, work on art or read or practice theory – anything to keep the dreams at bay. But, now? She had her best friend unintentionally paying attention to everything, and she found it more and more difficult to come up with excuses -not- to go to bed at something approximating a reasonable hour. When she finally did, and the nightmares woke her up – when she sat up stifling a scream or grabbed the ground to make sure she wasn’t falling… someone noticed.
But she had to admit to herself that there was a certain comfort in the worgen’s presence – she felt safer, even as her heart hurt. If Cael couldn’t keep the dreams away, she made it easier to be afraid – and that was something almost magical in its own right.
It wasn’t perfect, but it would do. Of course, the Pandaren couldn’t resist just once drawing the -very- ridiculously asleep worgen, fur every direction, mouth wide, tongue lolling, and sprawled across the entirety of the ‘bed nest’ in the tent. This, she kept in her star-book, smiling every time she ran across the image in charcoal and ink.
It was in the clash of swords that the Draenei came to know the Blademaster – she found him, there, at the foot of the crashed Army of Light vessel, merrily trading blows with a monsterous Felguard and his retinue of Eredar, and she unashamedly joined in – quickly evening the odds as her runemagic made short work of the fel sorcerers and their attempts at channeling whatever horrors they’d intended to unleash. The two encountered each other several times after that, at various places throughout the Antoran Wastes, each time enjoying the simple comradarie of combat and the odd joy and sense of purpose in shared conflict.
Eventually, it moved from swords to conversation, and the Blademaster – at first startled by the undead state of the Draenei Death Knight – came to respect her, and she him. He became warily respectful of her shadow and frost, and she tolerated his Light, and they began to talk, sometimes for hours at a time, on some broken bit of rock, watching the demons march – other times aboard the Vindicaar, where he would eat and she would keep him company.
“Why do you fight?” He would ask –
“Because I must.” She would answer – and so he came to understand the need at the core of her undeath.
“Why fight for us?”
“Because if I must fight, then I will choose to be good – to fight for others. If I must cause death, then it should be for reasons more than my hunger. I may be dead, but that does not change that… I am Draenei. I have forgotten much of what it means, but it does not change what I am.”
They spoke of customs, of times past – she learned new jokes, and he learned of family. Then, she told him of leaving the Blade… and he told her of the Praetors.
“… we defend those who cannot. We protect not only the great, but the small – anyone who would stand with the light is deserving of out help. We are a brotherhood united solely in the idea that, whatever else we are, we would give our lives for the good.”
“You are not so different from the Templars.”
“Perhaps. But we are more than family, as you described them. We aspire to ideals – and, though we fall short, those drive us to be better. Our code gives us strength.”
“… tell me of this code?”
And so she learned of this code, and the tenets therepon – and she gave it a great deal of thought. The next time she met with him, she asked more questions.
“Do you have to give up being anything else?”
“No, unless the other labels we choose go against our oaths – I am a guard, and a Praetor, and more.”
She took the oaths with him quietly, under the broken sky of the Wastes, in the golden glow of the crashed Army of Light vessel. The hunger was always there, and her heart did not beat – but nevertheless, for the first time in a great while, she felt… whole.
The hunter absolutely hated the stupid letter. She read it again, balled it up again – threw it at an outcropping of rock. Wandered over, picked it up, smoothed it out – and.. read it.
How are you today?
“Reading a stupid letter from a /walking killing machine/. Who likes /flowers/ and … AAAHG.”
Joi banged her head on her treadbike’s handlebars. The pain helped. She eventually dragged out a battered piece of parchment, and replied. Reluctantly.
You owe me no thanks, or consideration. Any debt you think you may have toward me is nonexistent. There are old oaths that bind me to you, and in it is in consideration of them that whatever kindnesses you believe I have done have been offered.
I appreciate your interest in my safety. May you and the other templars remain whole.
Please understand that I do not mean to be impolite, but I have chosen my own path and do not trust your people. It is perhaps best if you choose another for ongoing correspondence.
LT, SI:7, Alliance Command (Detached)