The Twilight assassin had escaped! Lazheward scowled in frustration. All that time, all that planning, all that careful coaxing to force the Twilight’s Hammer into making a move. They had, and Laz had been ready. But the slippery rogue had gotten away!
He began to straighten askew chairs absently, the least he could do for the extremely patient and understanding Thaegra, the innkeeper of the Golden Keg in Stormwind’s Dwarven District. She had allowed Laz and his SI:7 companions to set their trap here, and she had always been good to Laz on all of his previous visits as well.
Suddenly, as a chair clunked noisily into place, Lazheward recalled what had transpired just before the fighting broke out. It struck him like a hammer blow to the stomach.
She had appeared like a ghost from the past in the inn’s entryway, only to find him drunkenly dancing on a tabletop. Imagine both of their surprise!
“Effy!” he exclaimed, hardly acknowledging the surprised looks of those SI:7 agents still remaining at the inn.
There was one more pair of eyes, glowing with pale silvery light from the darkness of one corner of the inn’s greatroom, that met his when her name was spoken. It was that pair Lazheward watched intently. He could not look away, or even blink, for if he did, he feared she would vanish as she had before, almost a year ago now.
Lazheward wanted nothing more than to rush over and embrace her. The questions could wait for later. The past was inconsequential compared to the joy and relief seeing her brought him. It was her wary expression that gave him pause.
“Moj solnysko?” he questioned cautiously, using his private name for her, meaning “my sunlight” in their native tongue.
Hearing it made her flinch, and caused her brow to furrow. Her eyes were full of questions she seemed reluctant to ask.
Lazheward did not realize words were pouring out of his mouth, quickly, and without conscious thought, until they were half tumbled out. He could not even say where the words came from, and he had no ability to control them. “I am sorry, love. So very, very sorry. I never should have stopped looking. I should have searched harder. I should never have given up hope. I am so sorry. Can you forgive me?” The last sentence fell out hushed, barely a whisper, partially catching in his throat.
Effraeti seemed thrown off by the cascade of apologies. “You say that like I am the one who disappeared…” she whispered, her eyes crinkling with confusion.
Laz wanted nothing more than to smooth the worry lines from her forehead, but he stayed where he was. He bade himself to take things calmly and slowly, gathering both courage and restraint with a measured breath.
Then, Lazheward noticed the pouch Effy nervously fingered. It was the worn, use-frayed pouch that held her elemental totems. Now, it was Laz’s turn to be confused. His hand automatically dropped to his belt, and he could not be sure if he was relieved or surprised to find the totem pouch still hanging there.
“Wha…?” He brought the pouch before his face, and flicked his gaze between each, as if seeing both of them would somehow cause one to cease existing. The fake pouch. But both remained very real.
Effy’s mouth dropped open, but no words came out. Her brows furrowed deeper.
An overwhelming wave of flashing images assaulted Lazheward. Memories, some. Others… also memories? They were his, but not his.
He saw Effy fall beneath the assault of a swarm of undead in Dragonblight. Then, he saw them both together in the streets of a Deathwing-savaged Stormwind confronting a male Worgen. He saw the mercenary-looking vision of Effraeti fleeing from him. Then, he saw them both laying together in an inn that was not the Golden Keg.
He saw image after image, all as remembered from his own eyes, but that was impossible! The images conflicted with one another! Effy died in Northrend, before the Cataclysm and before Lazheward had turned his focus to destroying the Twilight’s Hammer.
But then, he had seen her almost a year ago now, and again, here she was standing before him.
It was too much for his senses.
Lazheward tried to focus his eyes back on the present, fearing Effy would be gone again. As he did, it seemed the whole room tilted around him. He feared his legs were no longer directly beneath him and grasped desperately for the chair that had been beside him moments ago.
It was the soft, warm fingers of Effraeti’s hands that caught him. She was beside him, her two slender arms now wrapped around his right. Her presence seemed to anchor him, and his balance returned.
The next thing he knew, he had her trembling form gathered in his arms.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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/