It was infrequently these days that Lazheward even came into town. His preference was disrupting the plans of the Twilight’s Hammer, an obscure cult obsessed with bringing about the end of the world. They had recently been appearing more and more, usually seeking to sway those not of their order to their twisted way of thinking and spouting insanity about a coming armageddon.
For the past several months Laz had been trailing one specific sect, one hiding out in the Master’s Glaive of Darkshore.
The cultists had a dark altar erected in the center of a deep depression. The crater had filled with shallow water over time, surrounding the focus of their interest – a colossal rock with a tremendous sword lodged into it. The rock bore a profound similarity to the skull of some giant monstrosity, the sword protruding from directly between what looked to be two empty eye sockets.
Rumors flew that it was the corpse of an Old God and the sword the killing blow from a Titan.
What Lazheward did not understand was what the Twilight’s Hammer thought could be gained by excavating the artifact, whatever it might really be. Items for such an action were starting to collect, but no physical digging had begun. Most of what occurred in the Master’s Glaive was gathering and the “sermons” of a Twilight Prophet.
Lazheward had been watching the cultists, and only because he was convinced they were not leaving anytime soon, he headed back to Stormwind to replenish his depleted supplies.
Old Town was the easiest place to both unload and stock up on curious items without question, but today, the shopkeeper seemed out to take advantage of Laz. Usually, the Draenei would have had more patience for such things, but today, all he wanted was to conduct his business and be on his way. He had far too much to accomplish before he headed back to Darkshore.
After several minutes of heated debate over the cost of supplies, Lazheward finished his business, unsatisfied but at least complete. With a whispered request to the Light for strength and patience, he gathered up his purchases and turned to head out of the small shop.
He nearly walked right into a woman standing at the shop’s entrance. It took him a moment to recollect himself and realize he recognized her.
“Effy?” he whispered, his voice nearly catching in his throat.
Her eyes wide, her mouth open but making no sound, she merely stared at him. Both stood motionless and silent for what seemed forever.
Lazheward noticed she looked different, but could not put his finger on how. Something in her eyes and posture – yet her hair, her face, were as he remembered them. Then, he noticed the great glowing sword strapped to her back, and became more confused. Effy had never possessed a sword in all the time he had known her.
What else had changed since he had last seen her?
Suddenly she blurted out, “I thought you dead.” Her voice trembled with emotion, yet there was a strange echoy quality to it – as if she spoke to him from the bottom of a deep well.
Then, she stumbled backwards, bumping against the doorjamb of the small shop. She slid her back along the jamb and as soon as she was facing the street, she took off at a run.
“Wait!” Lazheward tried to call after her, but she had already disappeared into the crowded street.
He stood there for several more moments, trying to process what had just occurred.
Effy was alive.
The flood of emotion this revelation hit Lazheward with was staggering.
He vividly recollected the day he had last seen Effraeti. They had been besieged by Scourge. The holy power of the Light had flowed through Lazheward, incinerating undead by the dozens before him, but the sheer number of them had been disheartening. For each walking dead that fell, three more seemed to crawl over it to reenforce.
Laz recalled how brilliantly Effraeti had performed that day – the spirits of the elements heeding her calls in force. But even the combined forces of buffeting wind, healing water, protective earth and cleansing fire were only able to hold back the swarm of ghouls and skeletons and abominations for so long.
Lazheward recalled being overwhelmed, driven to his knees and then covered, smothered, with decaying bodies that yet lived. He tried to call to Effraeti to flee, but surely his voice was drowned out by the groans and howling of the Scourge. All the Paladin could do was protect himself with a shell of holy Light, and pray for his love’s safety.
Exhaustion claimed him, and it was surely several hours before Laz regained his senses as darkness had already fallen. The Light had protected him, but what of Effy? He had searched for hours through the twice-dead corpses, but could find no sign of her beyond her tattered pouch of elemental totems.
Unconsciously, as he often did when distressed or searching for answers, Lazheward fingered the small pouch in its place on his belt.
Effy was alive.
Even the Twilight’s Hammer’s plotting fled his mind, replaced instead by a need to find her again. And in finding her, discovering why she had fled. Why would she not be as eager to see him, as happy to know he was alive or as heartsick to see him walk away as he was of her?
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Awaiting the Muse by Jamie Roman AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.