Ireenia awoke to the sound of Mum’s shout, and was up with a jolt of movement, ready for the worst. Before she could even get her waking limbs moving to go comfort Mum, Effraeti was out of the inn’s room.
The crash of the door in its frame seemed too loud in that early hour.
Mum’s nightmares had been coming with increasing frequency lately.
As a dragon, Ireenia knew more than most the powerful effect of dreams. Dragons spent much of their life dreaming away the ages, including their time in the egg. She knew dreams were the conjurings of one’s innermost thoughts – most mere jumbles of memories and happenings and concerns, given a form of attempted logic by the subconscious. But dreams were also powerful insights – to both self and others, as well as things in the past, present, and even the future. They were good at bringing attention to things one did not notice consciously, and occasionally held elements of precognition.
Lazheward was the source of Mum’s concerns. Effraeti had kept her own counsel lately, but Ireenia noticed things. She also had her connection with Mum, though she tried to not pry. The distance was hard on Effraeti, especially after being so recently reunited with Laz and him losing his faith in the Light.
Ireenia shuddered a little seeing the vision of Lazheward as a Sha. It lingered in Mum’s head as she hurried away.
Throwing on enough to be modest and inconspicuous, Ireenia crept out the door behind Effraeti. It was hard to be stealthy with hooves, but since her usual form was much larger than her Draenei form, Ireenia was deft enough to move quietly. Since Mum’s mind was a loud cacophony of jumbled thoughts, Ireenia was able to easily follow at a reasonable distance as well as keep her mental intrusion shielded from notice.
Theirs was a strange relationship, not mother and daughter for obvious reason of varying species, but close nonetheless. Effraeti had saved Ireenia as an egg, and their bond had been immediate.
Though Ireenia was maturing and no longer an eggling, Mum was still in the habit of referring to her fondly by her egg-name, Xarzith. In the language of dragons, it meant “ice,” and was very fitting for one of her kind.
For Ireenia was a blue dragon. Her flight were the former protectors of magic and made their home in the snowy reaches of Northrend. Only Effraeti and Lazheward knew this, for Ireenia was careful to keep her true form hidden from others she interacted with.
She was only recently old enough to change her form at will, but had quickly become more comfortable in her Draenei form and answering to Ireenia, as opposed to Iragosa. Perhaps it was because it made her feel closer to Mum, to look like her and Laz. She felt more like family and less like orphan. Or perhaps it was because she felt more like a Draenei and less like a dying race.
For eventual extinction was the price her kind paid to rid the world of Deathwing.
The thought made her flinch. It reminded her of her Naming Day, and learning things about her race that had come to pass after her dreams in the egg. She had been at Mum’s side when Deathwing fell, but the implications and the sadness of the Aspects had been beyond her comprehension at the time.
It was not until her Naming Day, high above the Coldarra, that the gravity of the future of dragonkind was set before her, marking it as a joyous occasion with a very dark undertone.
Mum and Lazheward had been forbidden from attending the dragon-only event, and Ireenia still seethed with resentment over that. Kiirae had tried to have an exception made, but to no avail.
It had been while Ireenia was away that she had almost lost Mum. She and Lazheward had been ambushed by the Twilight’s Hammer. Neither had made it out of that fight unscathed – Mum had fallen and was only still among them thanks to her connection with the elements, and Laz had lost his connection to the Light after thinking Effraeti gone forever.
Ireenia frowned as she returned to the present and realized the goal of Mum’s departure – she was leaving Pandaria. Many conflicting thoughts formed in her mind when she discovered this, and she fought to keep them from projecting to Mum.
All at once Ireenia was relieved and sad and upset and anxious. Relieved that Mum would be returning to Laz, and ease her mind of all these troubled thoughts. Sad that she would be leaving all the bonds she had reformed within Undying Resolution. Upset that Mum did not more openly share her worries. Did she think Ireenia did not see? And anxious about what Effraeti’s departure would mean for her.
How selfish! she chided herself.
But then, what did it mean for her? Did she have to leave too?
This thought troubled her more than she expected. Ireenia had only recently come to like Pandaria. At first, it had been a source of contempt, since she was so often left on her own here. It was the first time since she had hatched that Mum did not take her everywhere. Ireenia was rational enough to know it was because she was no longer a tiny eggling, but still it was uncomfortable to suddenly be apart from Mum so much.
Instead of staying put whenever Mum was off on guild business, Ireenia started taking advantage of her Draenei form to mingle with the peoples here. She kept these wanderings from her mind whenever Mum was close – she did not want to worry Mum when there was so much else on her mind.
She certainly did not want Mum to find out she was studying with the monks.
Mum worked too hard to keep Ireenia shielded from danger. The more Effraeti protected her, the more Ireenia questioned what she was missing. She understood it was motherly instinct, she read Mum’s concern clearly often enough, but Ireenia was a dragon! What had she to fear from orcs and trolls and even Forsaken? Even these mogu were no challenge for her as a dragon.
With a snicker, Ireenia caught herself – as a dragon – and that was why she learned from the monks at the Peak of Serenity. She had to learn to protect herself just as well as a Draenei as she could as a dragon.
It had been difficult as first to control herself enough. It was frustrating to fail in this frailer form, and often brought her close to exposing her true self in a fit of rage. But along with the ways of protection and attack, the monks also taught her restraint. She learned to center herself, and to use her emotions without letting them use her.
She learned quickly and soon excelled past their expectations.
Though much of her monk training was how to attack and defend herself, Ireenia grew more interested in the art of channeling the healing powers of the wise serpent, Yu’lon. To power herself with a dragon struck her as ironic, and perhaps that was part of the source of her connection. Deep down, though, Ireenia knew that healing was ingrained into her by Mum. Their connection and Mum’s nurturing made Ireenia want to do the good things she did.
Doing good things with her talents seemed to be the biggest source of her trepidation in leaving. All her training needed an outlet.
Then, the thought occurred to her: why not fill in for Mum while she was gone?
Effraeti was knocking on the door of Venat and Kaygome’s room now. She was moments away from being teleported away, back to Lazheward, back to where they would both be safe.
Ireenia abruptly changed her course, and headed off to confront Ranico. The thought of actually being face to face with the Death Knight for the first time made her stomach flipflop in protest, but she gained confidence with each step.
Someone needed to fill Effraeti’s shoes.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This story is based on worlds and characters in World of Warcraft.
Awaiting the Muse by Jamie Roman AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.