The treehouse swayed as someone came in hot, slamming into the branch hard enough to make the wood creak. Mina’s head snapped up, especially once she caught a flash of translucent purple outside the window–netherdrake wing.

Jezrynaku.

Mina heaved herself off the couch, letting the caving she’d been working on fall from her fingers. The door flung open before she could reach it, revealing a familiar slim outline, backlit by the sun.

“Thera?”

“You and Jander need to get out of here.” Jamethera stepped inside, her left leg trailing behind her slightly. Her long hair had been hastily braided, but it was stiff with blood.

“What-?”

“I was patrolling with Lyestra, since I was in the area.” Jamethera let Mina sit her down on the back of the couch, wincing. She raised her voice, having heard Jander’s familiar tread on the stairs. “The horde are invading, Mina. Or the damned banshee bitch is, at any rate. They’re already well into Ashenvale. We didn’t…it’s not going well.”

Mina stilled, even as her magic kept doing its work. Thankfully, most of the blood was not the hunter’s own.

“Shit. Fire.” Jander froze at the bottom of the steps, a wild, bewildered look in his eyes. It only took a moment of frozen panic before he spoke again. “Alright… alright… shit… fuck… alright.”

His recovery was relatively swift and decisive as soon he launched into disaster mode. Deciding to live in Ashenvale had meant that he’d emotionally prepared for this eventuality for years, but he still didn’t feel comfortable abandoning the place just yet. No steps had been taken to actually pack a go-bag either. “Okay Mina, you just… you keep doing that, I’ll get the essentials.”

Before another second passed (or he could hear Mina’s response), he raced back upstairs to start filling several canvas bags with all the important things he could think of. Clothing, weapons, and battle gear were the immediate priority. The mage tore through their bedroom with little regard for the mess made as clothing and supplies flew out in every direction. The next objective had been the most potent bottles of potions and flasks from his alchemy workstation.

Years of adventures had left quite a few sentimental trophies piled up in their storage area. There was no time available to worry about them (or the beautifully carved structure itself that Mina had put so much of herself into building.) The only precious item he decided to grab was a little wooden statue of a bear, the first thing Mina had ever carved for him. That and their cat.

“I’m not fleeing,” Mina said, absently fixing Jamethera’s braid.

“Like hell you’re not,” Jam blustered, but something about the stare leveled at her brought her up short. It was so easy sometimes to forget that her soft, giggling friend was also the woman who had once ripped out an Orc’s throat with her teeth.

…more than once, if you counted the times she was shape-shifted.

“We’ll leave the house,” Mina said, glancing back up the stairs. “As much as that pains me. We’re right on their path north, if that’s where they’re going. I’m not stupid, Jam. But I also know that Jander and I will be needed, so we won’t just shuffle off into hiding.”

Jamethera frowned…and then turned and yelled up the stairs. “Jander! Your wife is being unreasonable–ow!” She frowned at the imprint Mina’s teeth had left on her wrist.

Jander reappeared moments later, toting several overstuffed bags over one shoulder while carrying a squirming cat under the other arm. He spent a moment relaying all of the items that he had gathered before speaking again.

“I’m taking us to Westguard. We need to rally the Templars before coming back and finding our way to where we can be the most use. As of right now, we don’t even know where the front lines will be.”

“See? A solid plan. Now go.” Jamethera took a step away, tossing her braid back over her shoulder. She wasn’t aware of how like her mother she looked in that moment, but Mina was.

“Come with us.” Mina put her hands on her hips.

“No,” Jam said, shooting them both an apologetic look. “Jander’s plan is the right one–for you. I’m a scout, so I’m going to do scout things. We need good intel on what we’re facing if we’re going to come out of this anywhere near okay.”

“I don’t like the idea of you running around blind and by yourself.” Jander dropped the bags and handed the cat to Mina before standing up at his full height again. A stern, concerned expression was leveled Jamethera’s way as he continued speaking. “Mina’s right. You should come with us. You’re a Templar too, just as much as we are.”

He glanced around the room for a moment, wondering if there was anything else important that they needed to bring. “Has anyone contacted Unaara?”

“You’re right, I’m a Templar. And my report will go to the Templars, too–once I am done scouting.” Jamethera pulled both of them in close for a hug, and kissed each on the cheek. “Go to Westguard. I’ll send Unaara that way for you. Now I need to go before my sister and her idiot husband do anything irrevocably stupid, okay? Love you, don’t die.” And she fled before anything else could be said–but not without shoving a baffled Schneeflocke through the door.

Apparently the aging snow leopard had been with her, and now that the patrol was anything but routine, she was deemed unfit for duty.

Mina had at least twenty things of sentimental value she wanted to grab and only one she possibly could. After snagging the pot with a certain feisty plant in it, she turned to Jander. “Activate the wards? And I’ll…do my thing.” She walked out into the porch, taking a deep breath.

Jander watched his wife walk out the door with a worried sigh, knowing just how incredibly trying it would be for her to leave so much behind.

Shoving his own unpleasant knot of emotions into the background, he steeled himself and walked around the room activating the various destructive security runes that he’d constructed there. Over the course of several years, those runes had been added to and built upon to create a rather nasty network of traps. With a little bit of added effort and malicious intent, he was able to crank their capabilities up to a lethal level. If anything managed to make it past Mina’s botanical defenses and into the house itself, they’d encounter a deadly dose of raw arcane energy rushing to greet them.

After priming all of the necessary alarms, Jander then opened up the portal to Westguard, taking a little bit of extra time to be absolutely sure of its destination and stability. They had some very precious cargo with them, after all. The telltale hum of arcane energy signalled the portal’s completed manifestation, and a rush of Northrend’s frigid drafts rolled out from it. Familiar scents of the cliffside fortress followed it.

Before grabbing up all of their gathered belongings and preparing to make their final exit, Jander walked over and used the burning tip of his finger to write “FOR THE ALLIANCE” in huge letters on one of the walls. It was a parting gift. For any horde agents caught in their traps, it would be the last thing they’d see before meeting the cold embrace of death.

Mina slowly backed into the house once more as vines laced their way across the door. “Okay.” She swallowed and then turned towards Jander and leaned into him a moment.

(The cat, confused, wriggled free…only to get scruffed by Schneeflocke.)

“This sucks,” she said, dropping into Common, because it was just not a sentiment that flowed well in Kaldorei.

The only answer that Jander felt fit to provide her was a warm, tender kiss. It wasn’t exactly a romantic moment, but it was an important one nonetheless. This would more than likely be the final moment they could share in the home they’d loved so dearly.

Without any further hesitation or parting words, they bid a silent farewell to the treehouse and departed together.

Author Ambrosine
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