Effraeti sat at a small cherry wood desk, the blank paper stark before her. At first, it taunted her with its white and empty surface, but once the words started to flow they came easily enough.
Pandaria is proving to be a strange land indeed. The more I learn, the more I discover I do not know.
The Pandaren are the most wonderful hosts. Even though the Horde have followed us here and brought war to their shores, shattering a seclusion of thousands of years, they treat us like family and are constantly seeking to further the goals of the Alliance as our newest companions. They very much enjoy food and drink and friends, and create some of the most tantalizing dishes, different from anything in any of our previous travels.
I find our new friends are not without issues of their own, though. The Mantid assault their Wall, wanting to consume all the resources of the land. The Mogu assault them from every direction, seeking to regain their iron hold and force the Pandaren back into servitude. Even the Zandalari have somehow found their way here to cause trouble. And then there are the Sha. They are a force fed by negativity itself – all of our dread and fear and uncertainty and anger. It seems to be the the driving force behind all the other turmoil here, and I fear the conflict between the Alliance and the Horde does even more damage in this regard.
Undying Resolution is moving forward to drive back all of these strange forces, as well as the Horde. The resistance is great, but we are proving ourselves greater.
But enough of me, love. How are things at the Runeblade? I hope Brizaeyl is proving helpful, and keeping you in positive company in my absence.
I know we are far apart, but I often gladden myself with thoughts of you. Memories of your warm smile and your comforting voice keep me company.
When I find myself missing you most, I look to the stars. They give me peace, knowing you see and sleep under that same sky. Though in reality they are spread across the cavernous expanse of space, when looked upon in the sky above us, they are always side by side and always together.
My Love Always,
Effy, Your Forever Sunlight
Sealing the letter before she could second guess or endlessly revise, Effraeti left her room and dropped the message into the mailbox in the bank area. She caught herself staring at the mailbox for many long moments as she contemplated the magical delivery system that likely already had her letter to the corresponding mailbox at the Runeblade.
A sad smile drifted over her face as she thought about how nice a similar means of transportation for herself would be. It made her giggle despite herself thinking about jumping head first into the mailbox, purely because of the thought’s absurdity.
Her random giggle brought a questioning look and a raised eyebrow from the male Gnome using the mailbox at that same moment.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Despite the immediacy of the mail system, it was several days later before Effraeti saw a reply from Lazheward.
Day to day items at the Runeblade progress steadily enough. All is progressing well. Brizaeyl is fine company.
I am glad your explorations are keeping you busy.
Though his letter ripped at her heart with its brevity, Effy reminded herself it was Laz’s way of keeping his emotions in check. He managed himself in two extremes – succinct and blunt or lengthy and logical. After centuries of time spent with the man, Effy knew his mannerisms almost as well as her own, but his different ways of handling situations – and especially his emotions – sometimes caught her temporarily off guard.
It was when she moved past her initial emotional reaction to the letter and onto what his true purpose behind the response was that she pulled her thoughts back together. Just as his logical reactions seemed foreign to her, she knew her emotional ones still vexed him.
Effy fell asleep that night thinking of ways to respond to the little information his letter had given.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Runeblade was dark, darker than Effraeti remembered it even in the dead of night, with all the patrons tucked away in their beds. The lights in the common area were always burning, and the fireplace always full of crackling logs. Travelers seeking rest arrived at all hours, and were never turned away, but greeted with a warm hearth and a friendly smile.
The only occupant of the dim common room was a figure of whom she immediately recognized the silhouette. Seeing him quickened her beating heart and brought a smile to her face. The smile was short lived, though, as she took in his slumped posture and concern replaced her joy.
“Laz?” she questioned, approaching him. He had not seemed to notice her entrance.
Her fingers lightly squeezing his shoulder brought about a more violent reaction then she had been expecting as he leapt to his feet and spun upon her. Laz’s face was shadowed and his expression was dark.
His visage was more frightening than she had ever seen him. It was sharp with menacing shadows and angry lines, contrasting starkly with white of his clenched teeth.
Effraeti feared she was getting light-headed as Lazheward’s image seemed to be shimmer and grow less solid before her eyes. Blinking and shaking her head did not help.
The hazy quality was not her vision but dark tendrils of smoke creeping slowly around his frame. Before she could fully comprehend their origin and their intent, they swallowed Laz in shadow.
A ragged breath later, Laz collapsed, a vaporous image consuming him and meeting Effy’s horrified gaze with the burning eyes of a Sha. It cackled as it grew larger, and reached to engulf her as well.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Effraeti gasped and leapt from her bed. It was just a dream, but it put her in motion.
She had to see Laz. She had to be sure he was okie.
Hurrying through the quiet halls of the Golden Lantern, Effy made straight for Venat. She hoped both he and Kaygome would forgive her for the early hour, but she was desperate.
As she nearly sprinted to their door, she mentally composed a hasty explanation to Mindy and Ranico.
Hopefully they would all understand.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This story was originally published on Awaiting the Muse, on December 11th, 2012. All rights reserved.
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/