Even with the biting Northrend winds whipping around the exposed cliffside, the familiar stench of a battlefield hung heavily over the Templar settlement. That combination of blood-soaked soil, rapidly decaying flesh, burnt wood and active pyres was unmistakable to any seasoned adventurer of Azeroth.

Destruction and bloodshed on this scale was nothing new to Janderius, but his experience was of little comfort during the particular circumstances of the night’s events.

Filthy and exhausted, the seasoned battle-mage sat alone on top of the ramparts and kept his eyes on what remained of Westguard Keep. His cold weather gear was thoroughly stained by copious bloodspray, coated in the soot from countless fires, and tattered due to sustaining multiple shallow flesh wounds. An old flask was balanced on his knee while he let his legs dangle off the edge of the wall, open and half-empty.

There was a long list of important things he should have been doing in the aftermath of this tragedy, but he couldn’t bring himself to do anything but sit and feel overwhelmed. He’d been working round the clock for a week in an effort to prevent something like this from happening. His efforts had been completely fruitless. He felt completely drained as all of the different aspects and layers of this disaster caught up to him.

Despite the fact that the attacking forces of the ‘Cult of Sielic’ had been utterly decimated, no Templar could walk away feeling even remotely victorious after what happened. The body count consisted entirely of the crazed aggressors, but those pyres were still full of former Templars. They had been good people up until that night, and the defending forces made very little attempt to help them.

No reason was employed, no hesitation, only the swift silencing brought on by forced hands in a home on fire.

It was miraculous that so many of the sane Templars had survived the attack in one piece, but the security of their fortress had been violated yet again. It unearthed painful memories of the complete decimation suffered at Theramore just a few years ago.

The Justicar had been abducted, and they had no easy way to track down her location. It’s hard to think of a leader more deserving, and more universally loved by her followers. As much as everyone loved and respected Koryander, the stalwart paladin was irreplaceable. Permanently losing her would be a blow that the current Templars of the Rose would likely never be able to recover from.

Jander wanted to drop everything, lock himself up with his scrying orb and not rest until he got a lock on her location. However, the difficult reality was that he knew he wouldn’t be successful in his current state. He was exhausted, and the white-hot fury and determination that would usually drive him was just not there. He was conscious of this fact, and it only fueled his guilt and despair over the situation even further.

He had collaborated with Zenruid for the past week, spent days on end with very little sleep, and they had almost nothing to show for it. They found only false-leads and cabin fever from having to endure each other’s personalities in close quarters for so long. There was no way that Jander would be able to successfully concentrate long enough to find Arialynn’s signature. He needed sleep and a hot meal, but even those simple solutions evaded him in favor of his motionless trance.

On top of everything else, Jander couldn’t help but feel responsible for Sielic, and what he had become. Despite the fact that he didn’t have any hand in the way his former friend had fallen, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he could have done something to help him. The two had known each other for years. Their brotherly bond had endured through multiple guild allegiances, turbulent world events, opposing sides in a civil war and even a love triangle. It tore him up to see what his friend had become, after all they’d been through.

Every time an atrocity was committed by Sielic, Jander couldn’t help but dwell on it as being something he could have prevented. Those transgressions were really starting to add up and wear him down.

The mage would eventually return from his guilty trance and head home to start taking care of himself. But first, he needed to just sit for a while, and allow himself some time to just hurt in peace.

Author Jander
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