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In the earliest moments of dawn, Arialynn rose. Westward was never unmanned, but just as the sun�s edges peaked over a sea dotted with ice, the fort was at its quietest. Like a quick breath before a strike. Fully armored and wrapped warmly in her white cloak, the Justicar walked the grounds.

In recent weeks, she�d taken to walking instead of running. Her prior workouts required far more flexible attire, and she was often seen circling the compound alone or occasionally racing with Koryander, dressed in more civilian attire save the warm furs she�d wrap about her ankles or hands. It was at dawn when the night�s chill still clutched the air, no matter the season. Northrend was always a degree of cold. It was best kept at bay by adopting the skin of the hardy animals that thrived in it.

But now she walked the grounds, armored in full. She kept a clipped pace but she stopped frequently, speaking with patrollers or laborers. She seemed to take careful pause to look each of them in the eyes, listen intently as they spoke to her. By no means was she a towering woman, her height could best be described as average or just above, but something in her countenance or stony mien made her seem tall. She spoke to each man and woman, leaving glances in her wake after she moved on, her pattern almost a grid. A queen piece moving from one square to another, a chess maneuver rare and illegal to do: inspecting her troops.

Recent events played in her mind. A tribunal lay undone, finally to resolve tomorrow. Sielic’s shadow loomed over them all. So many pieces were in play yet the goals were not obvious. From her capture, rescue, and release, obtaining the queen was not the Betrayer�s end game. Instead, Arialynn considered the king, the final piece to fall on the chess board, the most prized, and she took in the sight of Westguard as the sun rose from sea above the cliff: 

A fortress in the bleakest wilderness, alive and teaming, in spite of the chill, in spite of the land ruled by death, in spite of the losses too recently behind them. Burned and raised again, broken yet forged anew, the Templars and soldiers Westguard rose to meet the day. Some were bleary, others dutiful, a mixture of fatigue with the tiniest sliver of hope in their faces. Here, perched at a cliff against the sea, these men and women stood against the black. Northrend would never lose its chill, death would always be its ruler, and those who chose to dwell upon it must harden, survive, or perish. Its perils were ever looming, never ceasing, and could not be banished. Here, the Rose readied itself for Azeroth’s great wars, for wars that now spanned worlds and timelines, but silently, every day in the almost mundane routine of fire tending, scourge culling, and fighting off the chill, it fought a war of attrition. One never ending.

In the waning moments of dawn, seeing the faces of those who rose against the black, Arialynn beheld the king piece Sielic sought.

Author Ari
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