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Split between Stormwind, Westguard, and the Broken Shore, Arialynn Dawnfield overlooked the first inquiry of Lieutenant Commander Alden Branson. A former comrade of the Northrend campaign, Branson was one few survivors of the battles that preceded the Justicar's tenure as lead of the Rose, and one of the even fewer confidants she kept regular correspondence with. The letter laid unnoticed atop the cedar desk of her residence for a week till it caught her eye. She was midway through its brief words before she penned a reply and summoned a swift-footed courier.

 

One day later, the lady knight sat across her former compatriot at a dining table. The occasion between them was far from celebratory, the grim nature of the gathering outwardly apparent between their formal attire and austere expressions. Both Arialynn and Alden were just shy of middle age, but the creases at their eyes and mouths, the silver at their temples, and stoney gaze to their eyes aged them beyond their physical years. Yet behind the strain of their eyes were bulwarks yet to be broken.

 

"How long has the Knight-Captain been missing?" Arialynn wasted no time for formalities. From Alden's reply, he took no offense and equally delved into the topic at hand.

 

"Four weeks," he grunted. "I sent it along soon as I heard about it. He had no family left and no one knew him except the streets," this paused the conversation. Knight-Captain was a righteous soldier during enlistment but on retirement, quickly took to the bottle. It was a comrade's descent the two of them were all too familiar with. "That makes three of the old guard. Arialynn," he said her name with familiarity, urgency. "The old company is being hunted."

 

"What of leads?" Arialynn asked. The very idea of a hunt seemed absurd to her, but the Lieutenant Commander was not one for hyperbole or casual visits. And yet at the very mention of the company, memories of the doomed campaign returned to her, and the notion became far less reaching. A realization coldly crept upon her. Alden's shared trepidation spoke through his gaze as the two's eyes met. Neither of them elaborated.

 

"None. Unless I pull some dusty SI:7 favors or get my own investigator on the case, got nobody looking into this," with a grimace, Alden helped himself to his scotch. "And doing just that. The investigator, that is. But you should keep an eye out. The Knight-Captain Rowley was easy pickings, but Law and Marlowe weren't. Neither are you, but even your back is turned when you're at the Shore. Easy place for an ambush," he adds. "Emberstone too. And that elf. Wildsabre, I believe."

 

"Koryander has taken special determination to fight at my back. She will know of the hunt soon as I depart, as will the Marksman."

 

"'Special determination'?" Alden grinned, a twinkle of reminiscence in his eyes. "Sounds like it never changed from the old days."

 

"Aye, in that way, it has not," Arialynn bore a brief smile. "Thank you, Alden. Keep me abreast of the findings. And should there be a hunt, stay safe."

 

"You know me," finishing his scotch, the old soldier stood, as did Arialynn. He extended a hand. "Light bless you, Justicar."

 

Arialynn clasped his hand. "And you, Lieutenant-Commander."

Author Ari
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