01 April 2011

Syn has the Better Story 3...




Syndalee: Part Two (A Work in Progress by Ruth Hinman... all rights reserved)
Ice... Icecrown

The day that Colin died stood in Syn’s mind in a place where she kept it locked away.
She’d been so sick, plagued by a bite from a gheist in the mines behind Valiance Keep where they’d fought for hours trying to clear some of the much needed ore, she’d rested fitfully for days as her body and all the greatest magic and healing potions worked in her to rid her body of the life eating illness that threatened to make her into a ghoul no better than the mindless creatures she’d nearly died fighting.
She’d woken in the darkness and found herself alone and chilled, the fire at the end of the hospital ward had gone to dark coals with only veins of visible glowing heat and so she’d risen slowly, still weak and aching from head to toe and also feeling better than she had in days.
The worst was over, then. Syn was never one to linger in bed once she’d turned the corner and so she rose with a groan and padded bare foot over to the fire, bending carefully and setting new logs into the brazier, blowing gently as the first flames licked up and over the heavy bark covered wood and catching alight. She reached out and warmed her fingertips over the fresh flames and backed away in her breaches and a light jerkin, preparing to climb back between the covers on her narrow cot and heard the alarm outside.
Scourge attacks on this little keep on the shores of Northrend were so common that at first she dismissed her response as just a trained reaction, and then the alarms did not cease and she could see the windows on that side of the hospital room were glowing a wicked greenish color that was unnatural and reminiscent of the fires burning all over in Utgarde, on the farthest northern shores of Northrend in the land of Vry’kul.
Not fully well and still well enough to feel she would be remiss if she didn’t at least attempt to lend basic aid, the slender warrior ran chilled fingers through her close cropped hair and gathered ties and armor from the piles of her things against the wall by her sick bed. In a few minutes she was dressed and felt better for it. Somewhere out there in that horrible green glow was her lover, her best friend, the husband she’d promised her life and love to for all time. She couldn’t leave him in it alone.
Syn lifted her new heavy sword into the sling over her back and checked the buckle under her breasts to be sure it was secure, then lifted the hood of her beautiful floor length cloak over her helmet so that she was prepared for the freezing cold of Northrend minus one glove that she donned as she ran down the stairs. The whole of the hospital ward was deserted save the few injured and sick too weak to travel and that thought struck fear in the warrior and increased her pace.
Racing across the docked ship that served as a shortcut from the inn to the keep, Syn slid on the slick layer of frost that covered everything here at night and hissed as she barked her hip and side on the railing of the ship, nearly toppling over the side. She slowed her pace until her heavy boots were landing on the rough stone again and then heard the horrible screams of the bat-like creatures that often attacked them from the air. She drew her sword and then thought better of it, pulling instead a thrown net that she kept looped from her belt. So common were these horrible scourged bats that everyone had nets and weapons to tangle the beasts and bring them down to be killed.
And then there was a new sort of screaming and Syn’s heart went cold. The screams of men dying, brought more alarms from behind the keep and she raced out into the screaming without hesitation, the flying horrible creatures that were burning the parapets forgotten so thoroughly that she’d dropped the net on the stones and would never recover it. This time her sword gleamed in the unnatural light and her heart pounded as she eyed the destruction on the ground ahead of her.
Men lay screaming and dead all over the beach and everywhere were undead Nerubian beetles and smaller crypt keepers that made her shudder at the very look of them. She raced up the beach to where a commander was giving orders and asked about Colin.
“He was first up the hill there, mayam. Are you fit?”
“Fit enough.” She called back over her shoulder, an old familiar fear drilling deeply from somewhere forgotten inside so that her every muscle seemed to burst with aching exertion at once.
She fought her way through the bodies of more Nerubians that should ever have been possible, seeing a sinkhole ahead where many soldiers were screaming and fighting. The green light was a glowing green gas that flowed up from the holes and her mind drew her up short and sudden, so that she was crashed into from behind by more reinforcement.
“GET BACK FROM THE HOLE!” Syn’s voice carried long and far in the darkness and a few of the men at the side of the hole turned, backing as she’d commanded, without thinking. “GET BACK! EVERYONE RETREAT TO THE CLIFF’S EDGE!” She ordered them back and held her ground and the moment she’d seen coming was so sudden that her voice broke in her throat in the middle of the next shout. “GET BAC… COLIN!”
Colin had begun moving back, covered in the black muck of the Nerubian blood that smelled like copper and clung like the tar in the pits of Un’Goro. And a plague of tiny beetles and bats and other flying creatures emerged from the sinkhole that led down into the unfathomable reaches of hell beneath Northrend where the world belonged to the burrowing insect-like Nerubians.
The flood was followed by scurrying four legged creatures that moved crab-like and impossibly fast up over their prey to wrap or poison it and swallow it in whole chunks while it still breathed and screamed.
Men were screaming and Colin was overwhelmed by the swarming insects. “STAY HERE.” Syn had ordered the men who had made it back and away from the hole. “Hold them here or retreat back to the bottom of the hill. Don’t let them into the keep. They’re plague bugs.”
And she raced to her love who batted and screamed and swung his broad tri-bladed axe in frustration and overwhelmed fear. Her own sword swung and together they managed to direct the worst of the swarm towards the men at the jagged rocky cliffs edge that led down to the beach below that ringed the keep on the sea’s edge.
And then there were just too many of them and she reached for Colin’s hand. He’d been standing only a moment before and now was not there. And Syn screamed and looked all around her in the dimming green light. The Nerubians were done with this attack and so they were sealing the sinkhole from the underside, and she could imagine the thousands and thousands of the horrible insect legs moving dirt like gnomish digging machines and her mind rebelled.
“COLIN!” The pain of it was so great that she felt her throat closing and as she tripped over his body in the piles of bodies covered in slick sticky insect blood she screamed again, this time her voice ceasing in overuse that would take days to recover and return.
In agonized frustration the woman threw her husband’s helm back and away, lifting his face to hers and uncorked a healing potion with her other hand, shaking as she poured the glowing pale blue liquid between his darkening lips. “Come back.” She whispered it, the sound so pained and her heart aching with the words. “Come back, my love. Gods and Goddesses, please come back.”
And for a brief second the light in his eyes did seem to come up and his hand, still covered in a bloody gauntlet, cradled her cheek under her helm. His eyes found hers and he smiled broadly. “There were a real lot of them, Syn.”
“You killed them all.” She croaked in that broken sound that comes from using bruised vocal cords. “Now lets get you back to hospital.”
“I’m plagued.” He said it and smiled sadly at the horrified look on her lovely face. “I have to burn, now. Syn, my love, my only regret is that I never gave you a proper life like we talked about.”

“Don’t talk that way.” And she turned, giving one final loud scream, “MEDIC!” She rose, dragging him up into her arms, trying against hope to lift his heavy body and he shook his head and moaned painfully as she dropped him back down. She tried to yell again and couldn’t make a sound, just a rasping pained squeak that hurt so much it brought a shudder through her and she swallowed hard.
“Syn, you have to do it, my heart. Burn me before you have to kill me as one of those… things.” He took her hand in his and brought it to his darkening lips. Already the light in his eyes was fading. “Don’t let me die, love. Not with this plague in me. Please. Please burn me.” And he uncorked the vial of oil that they all carried and splashed it over himself, hissing as the acid bonded with his bared skin and metal and armor equally so that it burned and started smoking. “I love you Syndalee. More than anyone ever in a lifetime.”
“And I love you.” Syn leaned in and yanked the amulet he wore on a leather thong around his neck out, cutting it deftly with her dagger and pulling it away, laying her hand on his chest where it usually lay. “I love you so much.” She squeaked, a sob tearing soundlessly through her as she stepped back and safely away. “Gods how I love my perfect life with you, Colin. My husband and lover and friend.” Her voice wasn’t working and she said it anyway, knowing that he couldn’t hear it and that he was fading too quickly to care.
She struck the match on the sides of her own leggings and threw it on him with a silent shriek and then ran, back through the reinforcements and across the torn beach and across the slippery wooden ship so that she slipped and fell and rolled into a pile of cannonballs and they tumbled over her, bruising and hurting her in their sudden bid freedom. She raced out to the edge of the sea and collapsed at the end of the dock, curled under her cloak like a sodden pile of belongings and not the lovely fierce warrior whose heart was shattered and bleeding in her aching chest.
It was there that the medics found her more than an hour later, some of her armor actually covered in a thin layer of frost that had first melted and then frozen so that her boots and hands and helm were frozen. For three days she’d been inconsolable: unreachable. The doctors feared her mind had broken when reports of what had happened could finally be sorted and attached to the little warrior who had nearly frozen to death on the dock waiting for a ship to Stormwind.
And then the mages began to arrive and the doctors were ordered out and away from the girl who seemed to have given up on life. Whenever she closed her eyes she was back on the cliff’s edge with her husband begging her to burn him. Whenever she opened them she was lying in a hospital bed with a poultice wrapped stinking and comforting around her neck and cups and vials and bowls all around her on tables to drink and sip and gargle and swallow, and none of it held any interest for her at all.
And then Grug, tall and mighty and beautifully powerful Grugworg of the Exodar, Grugworg the mage and Grugworg the Champion and Grugworg the father was there, giving orders like a commander himself and the medics were scampering to his every command.
And then Katia and Alanna and the strangely delicate Fionna, a gnome who had befriended Katia in the past few years and refused to be away from her side were there. And then more and more of her mage friends were flitting here and there through the sick ward until it was decided that the wounded warrior should be moved to the rooms at the top of the inn where the mages could see to their friend and leave the hospital ward for the truly sick and not just heartbroken.
And Syn curled in Grug’s robes and sobbed like a child until his own tears flowed and he could do nothing but sing old nursery songs from his childhood to her and rock her like a baby until she slept again.
“She has to get over this.” Fionna said early on the fourth morning. “Grug, we have to break her out of this. Nothing can be gained from this wallowing.”
“She’ll come out of it.” He’d said. “You’ll see. She talked for a bit last night. And she walked for a bit.”
Good to his prediction the girl rose an hour later and seemed better for her days in misery. She spoke very little, her voice still raspy and painful when she used it. Forever after when she yelled too loudly her voice would suffer, the doctors said she’d permanently damaged her vocal cords screaming in the unnatural fog that the Nerubians used to cover their warriors in plague before sending them up and out.
Syn had dressed in a gown and her heavy cloak and tied Colin’s amulet onto a new piece of leather, testing it over and over to make sure it would not come off of her in battle. Grug watched as she’d picked up her herbing pouches and alchemy supplies and then wordlessly slipped down the stairs and out the front of the inn.
Hours later she’d returned, skin flushed with the cold so that her nose and cheeks were vividly red and her lips just slightly bluish. Her fingers were angry red and she spent long moments rubbing and massaging them wordlessly over the fire so that she could use them. And then he’d followed, standing in the door of the kitchen, watching silently as she’d combined so many different bottles and vials and oils and plants together in the pot that he couldn’t begin to guess what they were for.
“May I help you in some way, darling girl?” He’d asked when she’d gone away and returned hefting a huge and heavy palate full of large empty booze bottles.
She’d blinked as though just realizing he was there. “Oh, Grug.” She looked around herself, eyes unnaturally bright. “No. I’m fine.”
“Why don’t I believe you?” He asked and stepped forward, looking down into the pot of boiling bubbling orange ooze. “What are you cooking, little girl?”
“Death.” She’d said it so clearly and perfectly that it flowed through him as though she’d said anything at all. And then he understood and fear clenched his heart.
“What’s in the pot, Syndalee?”
“A fire that will not stop burning until the last of its fuel is extinguished. A very special fire.” She scooped some up into a ladle. “If I got it right.”
She crossed the room and went outside and Grug froze when he saw the crab and lobster cages she’d filled in her time outside. He nearly stepped forward to help when she mindlessly picked up the large cage in one hand and strained under the weight of the chattering hissing tiny Nerubians inside and then stepped well back when she cursed at them in a language he hadn’t heard since his childhood and put them recklessly down on a rock 10 yards from the back of the inn.
“Take that.” She growled, flinging the ladle full of her sticky dark potion on the Nerubians who suddenly began to screech and fling around inside the cage and were burning so truly that the flames were scorching the wicker and wires even though the cage remained untouched while the monsters inside were burned completely to ash and gelatinous remains.
A cruel light was in her eyes when she turned on the cage full of the plagued bats and Grugworg shuddered with it, understanding and still frightened by the change in her that was so sudden.
“Don’t think I forgot you, nasty little beasts.” She growled and flung the remainder of the potion on them in the cage right where they sat, only a few feet from the back door.
And the bats screamed in their cage and the agony of their death cries, even from an enemy, brought many alarmed onlookers up the rocks and around to where the last of the caged Nerubians perished while Syn looked cruelly on.
She made eye contact with her friend and father and companion and war-party mate and the mage nodded sadly. “I see. I’ll get the others.”
And Syn turned to the soldier who seemed as disturbed as the mage had been and touched the ladle to her cheek so he could see that it did nothing. “I may have found a way to keep them far from here.” She said. “Would you please go and ask Commander James if I can see him here or if he needs me to stroll over to him?”
The frightened soldier nodded, glad to have a place to be far from the spooky red haired little warrior turned alchemist. He was gone in a flash and Syn returned to her experimenting. She picked up the beetle from his high-sided bowl and crushed him in her fist, the disgust and anger clear on her face when his blood rushed up her bare arm. She flung the beetle into the cook fire and scooped the blood into one of her smaller vials then went to the sink and carefully cleaned her arms to the elbows and scrubbed the ichor-like blood from under her nails with a brush and cruelly useful soap that left her skin pink and angry.
“You think it’ll burn their blood?”
“It had better. It’s what I made it from.” She looked at the little gnomish mage with hair the same color as Frenzy’s hair had been and felt pain stab at her aching heart. “Fionna, can you help me test this?”
“Thank you for involving me.” The mage laughed the girlish laugh of the little gnomish women everywhere in the world and accepted the vial from the warrior who was busy treating an arrow with her noxious gooey orange concoction. “You want it far up or just out and away, Sweets?”
“Far up.” She smiled that the mage had managed to intuit the test and counted. “On three, then. One, Two, and Three!”
Deadly accurate with a bow and any other weapon she could get her hands on, the warrior hit the bottle in midair and it exploded in a fiery rain that vaporized in a cloud of flame like a dragon attack.
“I think you may just have made the perfect weapon.” The mage said, the awe in her voice clear. “I have a rocket if you’d like to come with me and test it on the big bastards up the hill.”
“I very much would.”
Syn had to be reminded to don her cloak and gloves, and armed with a bottle in each hand, she climbed nimbly into the wonderful rocket that had been parked at the front of the inn. “Beautiful ride.” She said leaning into the mage’s neck with the first genuine smile she’d smiled in days.
“Isn’t it? I love inventing. It’s in my blood, you know.”
And Syn had felt the laugh and welcomed it before it burst from her. “Yes, I do know. Some night we need to talk about how you got this thing to run so efficiently.” And this as they zoomed low and impossibly fast over the beach and up the cliff to where the huge beetles were trying to stomp the soldiers.
“Everyone back and away. RUN!” Fionna shouted down to the surprised soldiers who turned and fled just as the first bottle impacted the first target and exploded in a rain of orange ooze. The beast seemed puzzled for a moment with the chitin of it’s skin bursting into flame and smoking and then it began to scream and roll on the ground, only spreading more of the potion over itself until its whole self was on fire.
The second bottle caught the next beetle in the face and it didn’t scream for long, but it’s whole body caught alight as it also rolled trying to be clear of the ooze.
“It doesn’t catch the grass alight except where they’re on fire.” Syn said to the mage. “I wonder, is there any way to prevent the grasses and other structures from burning?”
“No, love.” Fionna set the rocket down and turned in her seat to face the warrior. “Something I learned a very long time ago is that fire just burns. The fact that the fuel for your potion is those stinking undead bugs is brilliant and honestly, surprises me that it never occurred to anyone before. The fire it creates, though, is still fire and will still burn what it touches.”
Syn worried her lower lip for a moment, eyes lost out to the gray sea and the caps of foam that rolled between and over the waves at the shore and the mage saw that her fingertips lingered on the amulet she’d taken from Colin before catching him alight before the last of his life could be sucked into the plagued existence that would make him an undead monster and her mouth curved. Grug was right. Give the girl some time and she would be fine.
“Time to meet with the Commander and see if he will let me do this thing with his blessing.”
“I’ll go and speak to some of the people out at Fizzcrank. I think they might have a solution to the problem you’re foreseeing.” The little mage winked up at the red haired warrior and the amazing little rocket lifted up and away and was gone in a flash that Syn could see sent people ducking and cursing the air in her wake. The warrior laughed again and the feeling was like an ache deep in her chest, it felt like it echoed and she winced with the pain of it as she went inside the inn.
Much arguing. So much so, in fact that Syn had ended up swallowing the dry painful swelling in her own throat and had been reduced to angry nods and shakes of her head as the Commander tried to lay down both sides of the argument in fairness to the still injured warrior he liked so well.
“So you want to go, even though you can’t even call for help?” At her nod he sighed heavily and nodded in agreement. “I have to admit I’d be there if it were me.” He laid a hand on her tiny pale hand on the table and the sympathy and understanding in his eyes was only dimmed by the light of excitement at her brilliance. “We’ll go in an hour. I’ll gather the troops. Are you fit to bottle the rest of that stuff?” Again she nodded and he laughed out loud. “I’m sorry for this, Sweets. I really am. Anyone else would have been sent home. We haven’t even had his…”
“No funeral.” She whispered hoarsely and shrugged. “We promised each other. Only a party for our friends. Once this is done I’ll arrange it.”
“Seems unfair to deny us a place to go and say our goodbyes when the moment strikes us.” He frowned, never having heard of anyone not having a funeral and a grave marker before.
“You can say your goodbyes in Stormwind where he lived and loved it.” She swallowed over her raw vocal cords with an obvious wince and continued. “And you can remember him where he fell, if you like.” It was Syn’s turn to lay her hand over the larger man’s hand and smile hopefully up into his eyes. “He was a warrior and as such his life was always a possible gift to the King and any cause he fought for. Win it for him, Stephen. It’s all we have as soldiers to spend as payment for him now.”
The Commander stood there with his heart aching and his pulse quickening. He knew now how he also wanted to be remembered, because in the moment the words were whispered from his friend’s wife’s lips the soldier who had once been only a warrior could feel the truth and honor of the thing she said. They would go and win this thing that the Nerubians had been clever enough to spring on them unexpectedly, and they would do it because the man’s clever little wife had found the finish point for them all in this one battlefront.
“You do him proud, Syn.” He said it lowly so that no one could hear but the two of them. “You’re the perfect woman, my little friend. Two parts battle hardened warrior and one part genius beauty and sweetness.”
“That’s me, Commander.” She rose and snapped to attention with a formal salute. “Sweet as Syn.” And she winked before turning and heading to the kitchens where the cook was fretting over the impromptu laboratory that had taken over her cooking area.
“May I help you clean this up? These men are going to be…”
“They’ll be late for supper, cookie.” Syn said as she scooped the last of the gooey mixture from the pot and watched it ooze into the last of her bottles. “If they ever want to eat again they’ll be busy in this with me because I gave them my husband so that they would all live save himself.”
The woman stared at the cold resolve in the warrior and nodded. “Yes, I imagine they will all want a part in this. I believe it may be a battle to remember.”
“And when we return I can help you serve since I’ve cost you so much time in here.” The girl felt the pain in her welling and threatening to overtake her again and swallowed past it, averting her eyes too late.
“You’ll do no such thing. My heroes don’t cook and clean, they eat like the honored citizens they are and bang their plates for seconds so I know I’ve done them right.” And with that the heavy woman threw her arms around the young girl and kissed her cheek in a sloppy sad kiss that said everything it needed to about understanding the pain and anger in her friend, and also to the hope of a better future from one who knew to one who would have to learn it for herself.
Syn laughed and hugged the woman back, a bottle in one hand and the slimy scooper in the other. “Aye.” She said and nodded as she backed away, eyes still swimming with unspent tears. “I’ll be done here shortly.”
She picked up the pot and pieces and without her cloak or gloves stepped out the back of the inn and stumbled down the rocky shore to the coast where she could throw sand and seawater into the kettle and begin scrubbing it in the freezing water as though it were her job to be kitchen maid for a day.
Hands raw and knuckles bleeding the little warrior toweled her hands dry a few minutes later and spent a long moment curiously studying her obviously freezing fingers, seeming surprised before gratefully accepting the salve from the cook who had just as gratefully accepted it from the same little alchemist a few months before when she’d made it as a gift. It instantly soothed the dry cuts and scrapes and then slowly absorbed to begin healing from under the skin so that in moments her cracked cuticles and chapped scraped hands were glowing pink with fresh skin.
“Well, it’s off to finish this thing, then.”
“The men have some of the Fizzcrank gnomes out there with the strangest damn thing you ever saw.” The cook laughed at Syn’s quizzical look. “And that crazy mage friend of yours, the old man with the sexy laugh, Merlin? He’s got the most frightening assortment of explosives I’ve ever seen.”
“Myrrdinn.” Syn corrected reflexively and felt that familiar thrum low in her belly and her heartbeat quickened in fear. “When did he get here?”
“While you were away with that little gnome in her flying rocket car.” The cook shook her head. “You come with some interesting friends, little girl. Really interesting.”
Syn laughed out loud and the feeling of having it echo in her redoubled in the empty place in her that seemed more empty at the thought of having to face Myrr too soon.
She needn’t have worried, though. Myrrdinn was in a different group from her own by choice and even though he ached to throw his arms around the girl he loved so much and tell her a thousand times how sorry he was that it couldn’t have been him at the edge of the sinkhole and not her beautiful Colin, he knew that this was neither the day nor time for a reunion with a woman who had just lost the one she’d loved more than any other for almost six years. Instead he watched from afar as the sadness in his friend tried to lift over and over while they all joked and prepared for battle and yet would return like a heavy burden that shielded her face and features until she was lost.
If the woman she had been the night of her graduation from the academy had been a world apart and still part of the same girl he’d met the first night when she’d stolen a part of him forever to belong to herself, then too, this new woman standing fiercely prepared for battle with the most insidious and cruel weapon he’d ever heard of was another incarnation of the same lovely little girl with the soft laugh and teasing eyes. Her red hair was pulled back in twin knots on either side of her head, secured haphazardly with leather ties and her pale skin was peaking in vivid red at her cheeks and nose and forehead where the freezing wind tried to freeze her flesh from her bones.
“Almost set herself to death there on the dock all tied up on herself like a roll of junk, waiting for the Stormwind boat, she did.” The old sailor had told Myrrdinn when he’d asked how it was possible that a great warrior could have nearly frozen to death after a battle that had stolen so many, including her husband. “I think she was just there to die where she could see anything but his dyin’ place, myself.”
Myrrdinn nodded and knew also that Stormwind was where she knew he would be and where she still maintained a room in a tower in the mage’s quarters. A room that was directly under his own and across from the ones secured by Grugworg at the very top of the perilously thin building. She was going to wait to go home or die in her grief, he thought. She was coming home.
She fingered the amulet at her throat and he gasped in recognition, even from so far away and then turned away. The protection offered by the trinket had been a gift so many years ago from a young admiring mage to his new friend, a warrior just graduated from academy with honors and now set to the impossible task of protecting the crown’s most roguish and deadly mage. Did she know he’d given that to Colin?
Flames from under the ground and the screaming of Nerubians would remain with her for a lifetime. So too would the acrid smell of their burning flesh smoking into the night. The potion burned and burned and burned so long as it had a bug to touch and Syn smiled cruelly as she poured it down another hole and heard the scurrying even as the ground began to shake and quake with the thundering of the thousands fleeing for their lives, deeper and deeper under the ground.
The first magus who sprang from the ground was such a surprise to the girl that she fell back with a yelp and rolled to the side as one of the Fizzcrank mages leaned over his firefighting rocket and blasted the beast with a freezing spell that froze and silenced it, renewing the warrior’s spirit and sending her flying into combat with a blade bathed in the potion so that it caught alight and the beast began to shriek, too distracted to cast magic.
“Burn, bitches.” She growled, voice nearly as shot as it had been three nights before when she’d lost her heart on the same hill. “Burn and never forget me.”
As if understanding her sentiment, another of the magus bugs raised a bent beetle leg and gestured at her and the warrior turned, making eye contact from that great distance and hissed, pointing back. “REMEMBER!” She yelled and one of her stars flew from her fingers like a tiny shimmering bolt of lighting, splitting the flesh of the beast that burst instantly into flames and rolled to the ground shrieking but managed to sever it’s own limb and scramble away into the hole that was rapidly filling with squirming desperate insects seeking to flee deeper and deeper into the earth and away from the suddenly less fearful humans.
“For Colin!” Someone screamed loud and clear and a surge of human Draenei Gnome and Dwarven soldiers flooded the fields. Syn lifted her hands over her head, sword held high and let her head fall back with tears blinding her.
She didn’t see Myrrdinn rise above her on an enchanted carpet loaded with bombs collected from every engineer he knew, and she didn’t know that he’d seen her pray to her husband’s memory with a tear in his own eye. When he flew by with a fierce battle cry the warrior cheered him with her fist and blew him a good luck kiss out of habit and he nodded, catching it to his chest as was their custom.
And then she raced back and well away from the sinkholes, grabbing one man and leaning in to whisper hoarsely in his ear to shout everyone back to the edge for her. He nodded, hands closing for a brief moment on the other soldiers hips in a familiar gesture that was born from the moment and from his recognition of her in that moment and then he was away, shouting to the troops to be back and away, fall back to Sweets on the hill.
And they did. Every last one left the mages on carpets and rockets and brooms and a number of other interesting mounts to handle the rest of the festivities, throwing bomb after bomb down the burning holes and sinkholes up and down the coast. Explosion after explosion shaking the ground until even the little bugs on the surface had fled or died and for the first time in two years the little keep on the shore could be heard celebrating without the fear of an attack from their constantly pestering Nerubian neighbors.
Myrrdinn rose on his carpet so that it supported him while his robes flapped around his thighs and arms and he raised his hands to the sky with one mighty spell that the other mages were echoing all around him and at once the sky was split by the arcane blue white light of a dozen mages channeling the same spell at once and the bombs he’d brought especially for this job ignited and the sight was as awesome as it was terrifying in Syn’s mind.
For a man who said he was a tailor, she thought, Myrrdinn has some very frightening friends if he found someone to mix him something that ignites and then freezes in place like stone.
On fire and burning far under the earth, and then rockslides and blown tunnels and bombed into submission beneath the earth, the final insult and perfect finish to the evening was the capping of every hole with an expanding and hardening foam that by magic had been made to stone so dense it shone like diamonds and later would prove to be powerful enough that even axes snapped without chipping it away.
And Syn knelt there on the edge of the field as everyone else made their way inside and watched the sun gone vibrant red begin to vanish over the hills to Sholazar and she closed her eyes and whispered to the man she knew would still linger if he was able and who would know what she was saying even if he couldn’t hear her tortured voice.
“Goodbye my love. These men loved you so much that they’ve been well and truly done with these beasts for once and for all for you. They brought their best out just to honor your memory.” She wiped at her face impatiently with the back of her glove, gauntlet lying on her lap.
“Sleep well and keep me in your heart, my love and greatest friend.” Tears froze on her soot stained cheeks and she sniffed and a little sob hiccupped out of her before she could quell it. “I promised you this and it’s harder than you think, you bastard. No stone with your name will be placed here in foolish memory, and my heart aches for that loss. I have nowhere to kneel and talk to you now.”
She rose and shivered in the cold and stomped at the ground in frustration. “Damnit, Colin. Why couldn’t you just have sat there and nursed me back to health? Why did you have to be so good and so brave? I’m all alone again now and I just can’t be glad to imagine you in a better place. I’m selfish and immature and not as great as you always were.” She gathered her fallen gauntlet and sniffed again in the cold. “I just want you back.” Her shattered voice squeaked and faded on the last word so that she coughed and swallowed over and over trying to ease the tickling burning of her reinjured throat.
Myrrdinn floated just up out of her sight and knelt on the carpet with his heart breaking. He waited as she made her way back inside the keep and knew that a great party was brewing at the inn. Even from here he could see every window lit with warm and inviting golden light that promised food and drink and women all night. Instead he lowered his carpet towards the earth and pulled his robes more closely around his body.
“Why’d ya have to go and die?” He growled at the ground. “She’s always ended up alone, you know?” And the mage flew low and close to the ground to the widest of the sinkholes where he knew his friend had fallen, too close to the edge when the worst of the plagued creatures had come out to keep himself from being infected. And he saw a little cross in the ground and leapt from his carpet and flung the cross away angrily. “She chose you, damn you, Colin. She chose you and you had to go and die on her.”
Guilty like a child about to be caught doing something naughty, Myrrdinn focused his mind and looked once over his shoulder before returning his attention to the smooth stone of the cap he’d helped put in place and quickly wrote in magic on the side of the cap.
Syn’s Revenge. He wrote it and added aloud for himself, “And Myrrdinn’s rebirth.”
It would be two more years before Syn ran into Myrrdinn again. So absorbed in her fighting in the new frontiers of Northrend where there was never really a day of rest in the war against the scourge, she’d go sometimes months without a night in her rooms in Stormwind with her friends. She’d been told that Dalaran floated now above the forests of Crystalsong and had chosen not to fly to her home town, even for a look at the most amazing feat of the mages of her time. Instead she returned from the frozen North to her little apartments in Stormwind and visited with Grugworg and the many other mages and other scholars of her new home and would linger outside of Myrrdinn’s door, hoping he would just be home once so that she could see him.
In her whole time with Colin they’d never gone more than a month without a visit from the handsome and powerfully dangerous Myrrdinn that Colin loved so much. And in two years Syn had realized she missed him more than she could bear.
Late one night on the last night when she would be in Stormwind before being sent to Icecrown to assist in the efforts there against the Lich King, Syn slipped a letter under Myrrdinn’s apartment door and pressed her forehead to the cool wood. “Be well my friend. I miss you. Please come home.” She’d whispered.
“You could post it and it would reach him sooner.” Grugworg said from the hall behind her where he’d been climbing towards his own apartments, his heart aching at the sad way she seemed to carry herself where Myrrdinn used to be and was no longer present.
“It’s not something I’d send by the mail.” She said and hugged the mage who was growing older and slower with every passing year. “How are you father?”
“Old. I can see it in your face.” And when she laughed and hugged him more closely he’d laid his face against her sweetness and breathed in the smell of her, always fresh and bright when she wasn’t fighting. “And now bewitched and relieved, I have to admit, to see you so beautiful and rested. Did you have a good visit with Alanna and her children?”
“Twins!” Syn cheered like a little girl. “Two sets of twins. Who can imagine they could be so blessed?”
Grug laughed aloud. “So many little mouths all with their mother’s energy, no doubt.”
Syn nodded and laughed aloud with the mage. “Gods and goddesses each one of them, and yes. It’s a loud little house.” She looked wistful for a moment and Grug felt the pain of her childless life with Colin in her silence. “It’s a joyful noise, though, Grug. Joyful and powerful. And she’s so beautiful with them. It would be easy for me to be green eyed in jealousy.”
“You’re already green eyed.” He teased and kissed her head again. “And your time will come. You’re still so young yet. Be patient.”
“There will never be another like Colin, Grug.”
“No, there will not. We will all never have another like him, Syn. And there will still be others if your heart is open for the experience. A woman like you who loves so many so well will always have room for another partner if she’s open to finding him.”
And then two months later, sitting on the ramparts of the place where the Argent Tournaments were being held, Syn saw him pass by her on a beautiful white drake and set down on the snow beside the tent. She mounted her griffin with a pat on the beast’s soft downy white neck and landed beside him in a flash.
“You married yet, Myrr?”
The man’s hair was now nearly fully gray and when he laughed and turned the lines around his eyes gave her a start and also a thrill at once. He’d grown his full hair out until he could pull it back as was the new human fashion thanks to their King in a high topknot so that it cascaded proudly down his back. He was still tall and virile and handsome and Syn felt that part of her that always ached when she saw him singing inside again.
“No mayam.” He’d laughed and been startled by her body against his so abruptly and suggestively.
“Attached?”
“No again, though I seem to have developed this growth about the size of a young warrior with red hair.”
And she’d kissed him and his heart had split in two and he’d moaned into her open mouth in a near sob, fumbling to get his arms around her and still return her kiss.
“May I ask…?”
There was something in her eyes, something reckless and challenging when she pulled away, the desire and passion in her green eyes rivaling that other emotion so that he couldn’t sort them all out. And then she’d slapped him. Hard and with meaning.
“That’s for having to ask. I wrote my heart out to you in that letter and you never so much as wrote me back. I lost everything and you rode away in the moonlight never to return even though I’ve written and invited and written and asked around about you for years.” Her color was high and the tears in her eyes were still at odds with the dark desire that his body could still feel and was still fiercely responding to. “You promised never to be farther away than I could look and then went so far away no one could find you.”
And then she turned and was gone. Up onto her griffin with a gentle word and away they were off the edge of the grounds and down over the cliff-face before he could even think to remount his drake and follow. Instead he turned to the guard standing outside the tent with a questioning look and met the steadfast “I’m not involved” look in the man’s eyes with a confused sigh.
What letter? He wondered. What fracking letter?
Myrrdinn read the words again sitting cross-legged on the carpet in the front room of his apartments, not believing them.
Some draft must have blown the light parchment sealed with only a bit of wax and no seal, as was her custom, under the heavy wardrobe that served as his donning and doffing cabinet in the front hall. He’d spent hours scouring every inch of the flat, finally having to resort to magic to find something belonging to Syndalee before he’d found the dust covered and dirt smudged missive under the wardrobe.
Myrr-
A lifetime has passed and you’re never around anymore and I miss you and need you. I’m alone and the only name that comes to me in the darkness when I’m all by myself as a hopeful smile or warmth at all is yours.
I need someone I can rely on before we undertake this next mission and there is no one in the whole world of Azeroth that I can rely on more readily than you.
We’re going to find the Lich King and kill him, Myrrdinn. Everyone seems to think that Varian has collected the best group for the challenge and I’ve volunteered to be a party to it.
And really I only miss your stories and laughter. I wake remembering the smell of you lingering on my skin when you curled with me telling stories all night. I miss the feel of your robes through my clothes and on my bare hands.
Where have you gone, my friend? A piece of my heart is in you and I ache without it close enough to feel beating in your chest.
Come home. Bring your wife and children or just your covey of lovely ladies. Anything. I’ll take any part of you that you have to offer, so long as it is you.
Just come home because a tomorrow without you feels as empty as the yesterday without you was and I cannot live this heartless loneliness anymore.
Syndalee
He breathed out a heavy sigh and focused his mind in a spell he hadn’t used in years. He felt her before he could clearly see her surroundings and then knew in an instant where she was and what she was doing and raced out of his apartment, dropping her letter and not seeing that it had again drifted under the wardrobe to wedge once more against the wall as though it had grown comfortable there in time and wanted only to return.
In the shop across the expansive green of the living pathways that lined the mage’s quarter he purchased the few ingredients he needed and smiled at the wizened mage who was rapidly becoming his peer and dodged up the steps to the second floor of the shop rather than all the way back to his own apartments.
He drew the shape on the floor in chalk then turned slowly in a circle as he ground the other ingredients in a small bowl he carried on him and said the final word as he struck the match and dropped it still burning into the bowl that instantly flashed a brilliant purple color and sent smoke all the way downstairs so that the shopkeeper dashed upstairs and had to wonder where the other mage had gone off to so quickly that he’d left his shoes on the floor.
Myrrdinn landed ungracefully on his backside and the cold of the frozen ground on his feet brought a laugh from him. The spell was never completely guaranteed to work anyway, but his shoes? Of all things. He thanked the gods it had not been his robes and picked himself up, gathering his things quickly and then half hopped half ran to the vendor around the corner that he knew would have a new pair of boots he could buy.
In a few minutes he was striding confidently and purposefully towards the practice arena where champions from both factions warmed up by dueling each other under the watchful gazes of the many dignitaries who came to watch the spectacle and lay wagers on the contestants. He picked her out from a crowd of boisterous warriors who were all psyching one another up and getting hyped for the coming challenges and when one of them teased that the girls were all getting ready on the other side of the square, Myrrdinn pushed him back with a roughness that settled the dispute without more words and then dragged the little warrior around to kiss her back.
Syn’s mind seemed lost in a myriad of thoughts and impressions all at once. His mouth was so warm, so hard and so hungry that her sex responded in a flash and she moaned aloud into his mouth, closing her arms around him as an almost after thought. The warriors around them busied themselves with other things quickly, some out of embarrassment and others out of primal response to the incredibly heated first kiss.
One of them whispered to his friend. “For a second there I thought he was her dad pissed she’d taken out the family horse and not returned it on time.” There was scattered laughter that died quickly.
When Syn pulled back and could sort her thoughts again she laughed a breathless and shaking laugh and clung to the front of his robes with a dazed look in her brilliant eyes.
“That’s for the last one.” He said with a laugh and then before she could think or respond he spun her and knocked the well seasoned warrior off her feet so that she landed over his bent knee and dealt her a heavy slap so hard on her ass that it stung through to his elbow and he heard her yelp with it. He let her tumble to the ground and backed away, fingertips glowing in case she came up swinging. “And that, my dear, is for the slap when I’ve only ever loved you back.”
Stung by the rebuke and outrageously aroused, Syn came flying to her feet and grabbed up a jousting lance from the stand full of them by the fence, swinging it at him menacingly.
“Shall we, Myrr? Winner chooses their prize?”
He laughed and a blast of arcane energy exploded around her so that she had to duck back and away, feinting with the lance and then expertly sweeping it around the other direction to knock him off balance as another warrior threw her a much more useful stave and she released the lance to the ground as another flash of light sent her flying over backwards and she caught herself on the long staff, spinning and planting her feet both squarely in the surprised mage’s chest, sending him sprawling.
A crowd was gathering. Most of the melee fighters fought one another, leaving the mages and spell-casting fighters to duel each other in a more fair fight. On the rare occasions when there was a score to settle between the two groups a crowd always gathered and money quickly changed hands through the goblins who seemed made for gambling. This fight was even more intriguing because the pair had shared such a passionate kiss before the fighting began that everyone was suddenly interested in the outcome.
The pair laughed and eyed the crowd building around them while still finding ways to fight in the growing realization that neither had the heart to really combat the other. Syn helped Myrrdinn up after one clumsy fall and found herself thrown backwards on a perfectly timed explosion that she was barely able to roll up and out of before a blast of what looked like a magical firework on the ground sent her up and flying again.
“Is that how it is, then, old man?” She chided and a star blasted through his sleeve, pinning his arm to the wooden fence he hadn’t realized was so close behind him. A dagger flew to pin his beautiful robe to the rail, effectively tying his legs to the fence. She flung the staff to the warrior who’d lent it to her and ran at the man pinned to the fence rail. “If I’d known I only had to tie you down to have my way with you I’d have used it a really long time ago.”
With his free hand he got his hand into her lush hair and dragged her towards him with a low growl. “If I’d known spanking you would bring you up ready to have your way with me I’d have spanked you in the underbelly of Dalaran before they flew it up to Northrend like some kind of amazing flagship of war.”
She met his kiss as his fist closed tightly in her hair and they shared a moan before realizing that a crowd of spectators was still waiting for a big finish.
“I’m going to pay for this, love.” He said to her confused look and stepped out of his robes and into her surprised body, the light breeches and warm woolen shirt he wore not pinned to the fence like his robes had been. She laughed aloud and pushed him back too late as another blast sent her rolling backwards and off balance with a frustrated cry. “Say it.”
“No.” She laughed and sprang at him, tackling him to the ground so that her knees pinned him to the ground, knees planted in his armpits and feet pinning his hips.
“This is unfair.” He winked up at her and in a split second she anticipated him and said the counter spell so that as his whispered command would have put her to sleep he was instantly asleep himself.
And she rose with her hands in the air. “Silly mage. Never sleep a warrior!” She executed a perfect back flip and collected her helm from the ground where she’d set it long before the duel had begun, securing it on a strap so that it hung low between her shoulder blades.
The crowd of melee fighters erupted in shouts and leapt up and down as the mages shook their heads and discussed how the girl had grown up in Dalaran and had learned too much from her time there.
A little gnome snuck under the fence rail and knelt by Myrrdinn with a flashing smile at the warrior who was already working to free his garments from the fence as carefully as she could and survey the damage she’d done.
Fionna woke Myrrdinn gently and smiled down at him. “That was some fight. Does she know you could have cooked her?”
“Most assuredly.” He laughed and rose painfully to his feet and gratefully accepted Syn’s help donning his robes.
“Absolutely. I just hope you know I could have put you in hospital.”

Myyr shrugged. “I think you may have. I’m not as young as I once was.”
“We’ll have to work on that then, old man.” She smiled up at him and he growled again. “What is this strange violence thing here, Syn?” He teased and she could feel the same question in her own mind.
“It’s fate being angry with us for wasting time. Humans don’t get so much of it to begin with.”
“Warriors even less than some.” He nodded and stroked her cheek. “I’m sorry. I heard you speaking to Colin that night and… and I just couldn’t face your pain and know that I was always second.”
“Colin was the sweetest accident of my life, Myrrdinn. He was never supposed to happen and then he did and I wasn’t going to let him go. In some ways I never will. Can you love me even though I’ve used up that spot in me?”
The diminutive mage cleared her throat and blushed in embarrassment. “I’ll be off then, umm… Syndalee?”
It was the warrior’s turn to blush and she dropped to her haunches respectfully. “Yes, Fi?”
“May I offer you one small bit of advice from a small person who has had many giant loves in her lifetime?”
“Anything.”
“Never compare, never presume and always just love them. Men are daft and slow creatures by nature. You’ve been blessed with the love of two who are more clever than most.”
Syn hugged the smaller woman and nodded. “Yes, Fi. I’ll remember.”
And as the gnome hurried away to her friends she laughed aloud when she heard Syn say, “You heard her, daft and slow. That’s your problem, old man.”
And when the warrior yelped after a cracking sound that had to be Myrrdinn’s hand on her full round bottom again the little mage made a little celebrating thrust with her fist in the air. “Now you got her, Myrr.”
Syn clung to Myrrdinn’s waist as the beautiful albino drake soared over the city walls of Dalaran and settled on the landing pad that had once been a private courtyard.
Perhaps somewhere there were warriors who would shake their heads at the idea that a girl warrior so hardened and brave that she was about to take on the challenge of hunting the Lich King inside his own citadel and who had once been married to a warrior more powerful and brave even than she was would now be seen hand in hand with a man in a dress and seem all the happier for it in the glowing city of mages that now served as a floating capital city in the heart of the battle ground. And perhaps they would also find it in themselves to remember that she was first a child of mages who had grown up in this strange new place that needed a full new exploration.
They started in a small shop where Myrrdinn donned a stylish pair of breeches and a fashionable waistcoat in matching black brocade embroidered in wild roses with vines and thorny patterns that twined his slender hips and expansive chest and shoulders. He left his battered robes behind for repair and met up with Syn in a shop around the corner where she’d left behind her own armor in place of a simple satin gown in the palest green he’d ever seen, so that her eyes shone over-bright in the city full of mage light.
“I hardly know this place as my old home.” She stopped at the entrance to the Horde quarter and made a menacing face at the mage who wagged his finger at her in a threat to do her harm if she attempted to enter. “My apartments were over there.” She pointed to the building that now seemed to house the Horde battle masters, if she interpreted the banners correctly.
“Wherever did you learn Orcish, by the way?”
“I didn’t.” She blushed. “I just figured out some more choice curses.” She shrugged at his surprised laugh. “They shout it at me every time they die.” She said the last word right into the face of a passing Orc shaman who turned and snarled back at her. Syn stuck her tongue out at him and turned her back on him, and Myrrdinn watched in amazement how the man stood there with his ugly features caught between a mask of surprise and a laugh.
“Did you see he was unmoved by your threat, little dear?”
“We’re not at war in this sanctuary city, Myrr.” She shrugged. “I’m still really angry that they gave my apartments to the Horde.” The woman turned and grabbed his hand excitedly. “Look!” He turned with her and saw the balcony her eyes had fixed on. “Lets go up?”
It was a new building at the corner of the new floating city and he knew she had to see before she’d believe him that it was only a room in an empty tower where mages would sometimes gather to talk in what had otherwise become a place full of strangers, making the city of mages really an alien place for them all.
She ran, dragging him behind her around the corners and down the paths that still felt like home and then up and into the new building, past the recruitment officers and other persons who filled the bottom of the tower. Up the stairs and then stopped, turning and searching for the stairs that had to lead yet farther up into the rooms above.
“Remember where you are, my sweet.” He teased and took her hand in his own again, leading her to a glowing mirror on the wall. “Mages do nothing traditionally if they don’t have to.”
A wicked light in her eyes made something animal in him respond unbidden and so fiercely that he dragged her to his body and leaned down to hear what she went up on her toes to whisper to him. “Nothing traditionally? You give me wicked ideas, Myrrdinn.”
He growled against her lovely bare neck and breathed in the sweetness of the woman she’d become with a need so powerful that it was threatening to overtake him. “I’ll give you wickedness, Syn. And all the traditional you can ever stand. I don’t know what in the fates plans for us has finally brought you to me and I don’t want to ask lest I confuse them and they mess it up.”
“I was always yours. I said I had to be your equal, you stubborn stubborn man. I don’t know that I could ever have been without having and losing Colin. I don’t know. We can’t ever look back and still get where we’re going. I’ve known for more than a year that I had to find you, and now I have. It’s enough right now. Tomorrow never stops looming. I just want right now and we can let tomorrow come as it will.”
“Perhaps you really did need to be away from me.” He murmured into her hair as he let her go and tried desperately to collect himself. “That’s perhaps the wisest wish I’ve ever heard.”
That wicked glint flashed through her emerald eyes again and he moaned aloud with it and turned to the portal, laying his hand on the glass and stepping through without another word.
Syn did as he had done and the thrilling electrical tickle of a mage portal filled her for a split second and then she was somewhere else. The room was painted in pale purple and lavender, and hung in lavish golden and plum draperies. Little round tables with padded stools and tall pillows circled the tower and a man in a waistcoat and plain black trousers approached them immediately, challenging Syn whose eyes flashed recognition just as the gentleman knew her in turn.
“I never knew a day when I would not be welcomed in my own home.” She said icily and turned her back on the man. “Particularly not shut out by someone who used to love me.”
“Syndalee? Gods it’s been forever since I saw you! You’re looking magnificent.” Peter blushed at the mention of having loved her and avoided looking at the mage who accompanied her as memory flooded his mind and heightened the heat in his cheeks.
“How did you come to guard a mage’s parlor high above the frozen wastes of Northrend, Peter? I thought you wanted to become an instructor at the mage’s college.”
“I was one, too. Now we don’t have colleges here and I married Belynn and…”
“How is Bel?” And so for a few moments Myrrdinn lingered watching, feeling the energy in the pair as it shifted from uncomfortable into the ever-present reminiscence of people from Dalaran who met anywhere else.
“Well, I’d begged Myrrdinn to bring me in here because I had to see. I’m sorry to seem dismissive, and I…”
“THE Myrrdinn? Excuse me, Syn, this is THE Myrrdinn?”
“I only know of one so he’ll always be THE Myrrdinn to me, what do you mean by saying it in that dramatic way?” She looked from one to the other, feeling discomforted by the way Peter said Myrr’s name and frustrated by the silence.
The man made eye contact with the older mage and then with Syndalee and then back again. “You… Syn, Myrrdinn is the greatest war mage in the whole world. Greater than Khadgar and even Medev before him. I can’t believe you don’t know.”
It was Myrrdinn’s turn to blush.
“No, Peter, I hadn’t known. I thought I’d fallen in love with a mighty mage, not a legendary one.” And then to Myrrdinn she smiled up at him with that oddly infectious sparkling wickedness in her eyes. “I think perhaps you were too gentle with me earlier in the tournament and that I should demand a rematch now that I know you’re the greatest war mage in the world, MY Myrrdinn.”
And he groaned low and fierce and could see in Peter’s almost wistful gaze that the poor man was torn between wanting to be 1000 yards away from the woman he’d once loved when she looked like that out of respect for his wife, and that he also couldn’t resist remembering just what might have made the older mage growl that way.
He led his vixen out onto the balcony and felt the thrill of a lifetime when she squealed aloud like a child. “Oh goddess! Would you just look?” She raced around the whole tower, leaning over in places and breathing in the city below with every bit of her being. “Oh Myrrdinn!”
“He’s exaggerating. I didn’t have anything to do with this.” The man laughed at the exasperated look that flashed across her features and then was taken aback when she threw her arms around him and kissed him hard and hungry on the lips. “Ok, maybe I helped with some of the early planning. Really early.”
“It’s like a child’s bedtime story.” Syn spun back around and reached to pull him against her from behind, hands clinging down his muscular thighs as she leaned back into his warmth. “Oh Myrrdinn, it’s so beautiful. I can have it back for a little while again.”
He smiled and pressed his lips to her neck. “You can have it back forever, my dear girl.”
And the little woman who had loved him first melted from the place where she’d been frozen in time all those years before and the warrior she’d become shivered in the warmth of his embrace and she turned to face him, bringing her hands up between them to clasp his face between her palms. Tracing the line of his lips with the pad of one thumb she looked deeply into his brown eyes and seemed to find what she was looking for with a deep sigh that left her pretty little mouth parted in the most delightfully alluring way.
“Anywhere with you, Myrrdinn. That is where I’m home. I have no apartments anymore. I gave up my rooms in Stormwind to a young mage who needed a place close to her teachers. My things from Shatrath City and all my furnishings from the apartment in Stormwind are all in a shed that Alanna and her husband Thomas are letting me have while I’m in Northrend.”
“I still have my rooms in Stormwind. The whole tower belongs to me, so I wont be moving out.”
“There’s a lot about you that I don’t know, Myrr. I’ve always taken you at face value and I’m learning quickly that I should have pressed you for more all along.”
“I wouldn’t have given it.” He said and kissed her more deeply and shatteringly than before. “I could have murdered that Peter for saying anything to you about my being a war mage.”
“Why, Myrr? Because only I can be covered in the blood of our enemies?”
“No.” He laughed and drew something light from the bag on his belt. “Hold on to me, love.” He spoke a word and jumped with her in his arms up onto the wrought iron railing around the balcony. “And away.” He leapt and she was falling so slowly that it felt like flying. Her skirts billowed about her legs and she spun in his hands with a laugh and allowed him to lift her into his arms before they touched the cobbles of the street below.
Syn found her feet and looked around herself. “So much to see. Oh Myrr… come with me.” And they were away again. The joy in him grew as she raced right down and into the Underbelly, recognizing the entrance on sight. She was keeping her promise to make a young man of him again, he thought with a shake of his head. He hadn’t done this much exploring or been this happy in a great many years. And if he’d been pressed he would have had to admit that he was enjoying it.
She led him down and around the corners and stopped at the Cantrips and Crows with a sad look. “She’s gone?”
“No, just farther back now.” Myrrdinn smiled and watched as Syn looked around figuring her way in the suddenly well-lit underground. He followed her down through a sewer pipe and into the now puddle vault that used to be their meeting place. And Syn saw the old crone who had once managed the Cantrips and Crows, standing by a proper cart selling herbs and other remedies.
“Brigid!” Syn raced up to the old woman who knew her on site and spun her around in a great circle as she kissed the younger woman’s face and then captured her hands to kiss them, too.
“Syndie.” She cheered for her young friend. “You’re all grown now. A proper woman.” The older woman brushed Syn’s hair back from her cheek and clucked her tongue at the piercings she could see in the girl’s ears.
“Isn’t very magey to wear so many heavy pieces.” The old woman scolded after a moment of inspection.
“I’m a warrior in disguise, Brigid. I never could use magic.”
The older woman eyed Myrrdinn up and down and then leaned closer to the younger girl. “If you’ve captured that one then you’ve magic far greater than any other in the world, my dear. A warrior, really? The best herbalist I’ve ever trained in my life and you wear out your beautiful perfect little herbing fingers on huge heavy weapons?”
Syn nodded and an odd look crossed her eyes when she studied the embarrassed Myrrdinn again. She shopped through the bits and pieces the woman had on hand and made a promise to come and stay with her the next time she was in town, on the explanation that she was already seeking rooms for let.
“On the marketplace there are rooms above the alchemy shop and also above the engineer’s.”
Syn laughed out loud. “Is it still Fizz running it?”
“Oh, no my dear. No. Fizz couldn’t stand the idea of floating forever high above the earth and so he’s still back near the crater left by our stealing ourselves away up here.”
Syn looked sad and shrugged it off. “I’ll have to go and see him. He made the most delicious sparking taffies.”
“Sparkling?”
And Syn’s laughter drew attention from all around them it was so loud. “No, SPARKING, they made lightning in your mouth. For Hallows end I used to help him cook for hours just so he’d give me some more than everyone else got.”
“That man loved you, girl. He’d have given you the whole shop. Do you remember, Myrr? Did you know her then? Little monster always up to her elbows in someone else’s chores for a chance to learn and ask questions. I thought that was why she asked me about plants all the time until she started bringing them to me to sell. I was too old to get to the ones that are really tricky to find and this little sprite would crawl all the way back into caves and under things for me.”
“No, I met her a little after that time, I suspect.” Myrrdinn smiled fondly at the woman as she blushed at the description of herself as a monster.
“I never meant to be a pain.” She murmured.
“Oh my joy! My perfect perfect girl!” The old woman clasped her arms around Syn and hugged her tightly. “You were never really a monster. So many of us live solitary lives, Syn. Don’t you realize yet that you were our heart? Our only child and when we let you go a little bit of all of us went with you.”
Syn had never thought that the city would miss her as much as she had missed it.
“If I’d known you were going to fly my home here and make it into a place where I could have stayed I’d have poisoned the magus until he gave in or died to let me stay.” She meant it and Myrr shivered at the way the laughter slipped from her eyes. “I’m still hateful of him for coming to me in that prissy way telling me that I was only the useless offspring of mages and therefore I could become his housemaid or I could pack up and leave.”
“I don’t recall it that way.” A man’s voice said from behind her and Syn leapt around to be face to face with Grugworg. “I recall you said he was very sad when he told you that they couldn’t let you stay, in fact. As though it had been a council decision he wasn’t satisfied with.”
She leapt into the Draenei’s arms and closed around him like a little girl, skirts riding high enough that Myrr could see the creamy perfection of her thighs and found a spark of jealousy for the old man who she called father. “Memory is a funny thing, then. I may have told it that way to you and it still replays in my mind that one magus came to me in his perfect royal purple robes and told me that I was no longer welcome in my home.”
“Hmmm… an interesting thing indeed, that thing called memory. I also remember a little girl who called me papa and who thought the whole world was so massive that it would swallow her and she was afraid to step outside the city walls without an escort. Now look at the woman she’s become. Known and loved in the whole of Outlands and Northrend and remembered fondly in Dalaran and Stormwind. So much for a world that would make you vanish.”
Grug nodded to Myrrdinn who nodded back. “I didn’t know I would find you here, my darling girl. I came actually to spend a little time with an old friend and had to stop here and let Brigid know I’m still alive and well.”
“I’m afraid I have to be away for a bit.” Syn actually blushed as she was set back down by the huge Draenei mage who was her heart and only family in the whole wide world.
Grugworg made stern eye contact with Myrrdinn and nodded to Syn. “Yes, I can see that you do. Remember, Myrrdinn, you have only to answer to me if the girl is hurt.”
The human mage nodded agreement instantly and seemed a little less cocky when he took Syn’s elbow to lead her away. “That man frightens me, Syn. I have to be honest with you. I’ve done magic’s in this world that no one else has ever attempted and he still knows more than I ever will.”
She giggled and turned to caress his face. “Grugworg is the mightiest friend and greatest protector I could ever have asked for. In the years that he’s been my benefactor he’s given me so many really magical gifts that I’ll never be able to repay, don’t let him worry you. Just knowing I desire you above all other things will keep you protected beyond anything you can even imagine.”
“This from the girl who has him wrapped around her little finger.” Myrrdinn teased and kissed the end of her nose. “I’ll take no warning from him lightly, little girl. Remember, I said he frightens me. I didn’t say I felt threatened.” And then as if it had just occurred to him, “Above all other things, really? To Stormwind my lady? Or to see if we can secure rooms here?”
“Bring me home, Myrrdinn.”
“I thought I had.” He felt her so warm and willing against his body that the reserve he’d had on his libido was beginning to flag and he knew that soon he would likely ravish the poor girl where she stood.
“Home is wherever you are.” And again that brilliant spark of light in her eyes and the instant knowledge that she meant what she said. Her hands caressed his chest and belly as he focused on the words he needed to say and then they were away through the portal just as her fingertips brushed his hardness through his trousers and made him call out her name in surprise.
“Do you know how lucky you are that I brought us here and not to the mages tower in the center of the quarter?” He moaned, shaking with the boldness of her hands on him, already opening his trousers to free him and feel him bared in her beautiful little hands. “I didn’t imagine you would be so brazen…”
“Shall I play the coquette for you, my love? Pretend to be a frightened little girl? Oh wait, I never was.” She stroked his hardness so expertly that he shuddered against her and closed his hands on her back for balance as she slowly began to kneel before him, wide green eyes glowing with desire and low light from the lamps outside in the dark city.
As her mouth closed around his sex Myrrdinn felt himself releasing and moaned her name with an oath, the whole world flashing in his mind in a single brilliant light and his whole body trembling with the power of it.
And with renewed need he dragged the lovely girl up from her knees with his seed still slick on her teeth to kiss her almost brutally as his hands fumbled with the ties on the bodice of her gown and then the light undershirt beneath so that her body was bared against his clothed one and he could taste himself combined with her own musky sweetness on her lips.
She expertly undressed him and glanced over her shoulder. “This way?”
He dragged her back with him to the settee under the window instead and caressed her lithe legs in his hands, staring in wonder as she stepped up onto the settee, straddling his thighs so that the thick red patch of her sex was exactly the right height for his mouth. He growled and buried his face between her thighs as she moaned above him and braced herself on the wall behind him, moaning and crying out when his fingers slid deeply up into her heat to bring her up and over the top with a flood and an animal cry.
She sank to her knees over him and impaled herself on him as though she’d done it a million times and sank until there was no more of him to take. Still panting she said his name against his own lips and licked her own release from his cheeks and mouth before kissing him. “Make me yours, Myrrdinn the Greatest War Mage of Azeroth.”
The tease was a potent thing and he rose into her as she ground down into him so that she moaned with it and rocked her hips to mate them more perfectly than he’d ever been joined to another. Deeper and more intensely until her body shook with a release she’d never known and his own followed so quickly that he couldn’t separate the two moments in his mind when he tried later.
Still pulsing deep within her heat he caressed her everywhere he could reach, memorizing her every curve and valley and breathing her name over and over into her neck.
“There was a time when Grug told me in confidence that you were neither as young nor as innocent as I mistook you to be that night in the underbelly, Syn, and I didn’t believe him. I called myself a would-be defiler.”
Syn’s laughter was sweet and tender and ached from somewhere low inside where she’d been holding that tiny hurt for just this moment and hadn’t realized it. “I never was.” She lifted up and away from him with a low sad moan and dragged him with her to follow to his bed. “I’d read every naughty book kept by mages at their bedsides by the time I had my first flow.”
And lying there in the darkness with the covers drawn up over them she brought her thigh up high over his side and felt him risen already and teasing up into her with a maddening slowness that took her breath away. She cried his name as an oath and he answered by rolling her to her back and sinking full length into her again as though he’d gone back in time to the young man who could make love all night again. And this time so slowly that she shook with it for long moments after, he made love to her with everything that he was and branded her deeply where she’d begged him to claim her.
She told him about the pictures and stories she’d been reading as a child until her curiosity had gotten the better of her and how the young mage Peter had been her more than willing classmate, even finding pictures and stories of his own, and how she’d concocted potions in secret to keep him from knowing she was doing it, preventing herself from spoiling their secret paradise by conceiving a child.
“Syn, don’t swallow them anymore.” His want was so sincere that it took her aback.
“I haven’t in years.” She said sadly. “Not since the first years with Colin at the academy. I consulted a witch I met in Outlands and asked her why I didn’t need them anymore and she told me that I’d bruised my fertility with the herbs and concoctions and that I needed to remember that a woman’s womb is the entrance to the other world where only the Gods can bless us with the gift of children.”
He frowned at the naive way she said it. “You know that’s…”
“What I know is that I live the life of a man most days of my life and play at being a girl for a few nights every few months and that if there’s any wisdom to the old ways it is that they were always based on truth, no matter how mired in symbolism and ideology they became in the translation and retelling.”
He caressed her thigh as she rolled apart from him with a low groan and she flinched when he found a ticklish place on her leg. “Ok, that I’ll accept. So what is the solution?”
“I retire from my warrioring and become an alchemist full time.” It was so easily said that he knew she’d already worked it out in her mind long before he’d asked. “Or now that I’ve found you I partially retire, because I doubt you will ever be allowed to retire with you as my mate.”
“Oh yes I will.” He said it and rolled to face her so that he could throw a heavy thigh over her hips and pin her close by. “If it meant a lifetime of being alone with you here in paradise, Syndalee, I’d hang my robes on a bonfire and watch them burn right in front of the King himself.”
She flinched at the idea and shook her head. “There’s an answer in the tomorrows that we haven’t glimpsed, Myrr. Right now we have a former King to lay to rest.”
He laughed at the thought of anything so gentle as simply laying Arthas to rest and reached up to loose his hair so that it tumbled over the pair of them and ignited Syn again.
“Woman I… I don’t know that… oh Goddess.” He had been about to tell her he didn’t believe he even could rise again when her mouth swallowed him whole and he discovered that he could in fact quite capably rise again in the deft mouth that commanded him so masterfully.
It flashed in his mind that this was surely one of many images that had made Peter blush in the Purple Parlor above Dalaran earlier and it brought a low laugh from him as she drank his release greedily and gifted him for the second time with a pleasure he’d never imagined and had only ever seen in picture books from private presses in places like Ironforge about places where Blood Elves performed exotic and forbidden sex acts on weary travelers for gold that they used to build and maintain their empire by the sea.
Smiling and self satisfied, Syn curled up with her head on his chest and breathed in the smell of him. “I think I snore.” She said apologetically as an afterthought.
“I know that I do.” He laughed and brought the covers back over them with a satisfied and sated sigh. In a world where he could find the miracle of this little vixen with innocent eyes and a wanton mind, he knew that he had finally come home.
She stayed close until his breathing became deep and then rolled away curling onto her side like a child to sleep the sleep of the dead in the first proper bed she’d known in months. Tomorrow may indeed hold the Citadel. Today held the greatest joy she’d known in so long that she was frightened by it.
“Goodbye, Colin, my first love. Rest and enjoy the afterlife for me.” And she breathed a long sigh as her mind drifted off to sleep.
Myrrdinn rolled and curled, a smile curving his lips, around the little woman beside him and rejoiced when she snuggled back into his heat and cradled his arm to her breast with her own arm.
Northrend was so much colder after her days away that Syn shivered miserably and stepped even closer to the fire, feeling it making the plates over her knees and shins uncomfortably warm and still not melting the chill from her bones. She glanced up and made eye contact with their commander and smiled.
“What are my orders, Myrrdinn?”
“Get into the bedroll in my tent and get it very warm for me so I can come to join you?”
She laughed and watched as the warrior beside her seemed to flinch back from his tease. “I can do that soon enough. Are we on to the face of the Citadel tomorrow, then?”
The other warrior glanced up and saw the mage nod sadly. “I don’t know why you’re so hell bent on this destiny, Sweets. I’d be just as happy to leave this fight to someone younger that I love much less.”
“Oh, well, then it’ll be myself and Legs here. You don’t even know him.” She patted the other warrior’s shoulder playfully and he snorted at the girl but smiled warmly. “You can keep my bedroll warm for me, then, old man.”
Myrrdinn growled at her and couldn’t help but smile when her eyes flashed that devilish challenge that always led to another night like the first in bed. “Gods but I love you, woman. Whatever it is we’re doing, I want it done and finished so that I can retire in peace and tell them all I’ve become a stay at home dad when they come calling.” He dragged her to him and she brought her arms up around his neck with a lilting laugh that carried across the camp.
Legs shook his head and thought for the hundredth time that he would sell a body part for a girl like Sweets to come into his life. He was mystified what the old mage had that a young virile warrior like himself didn’t have, and at the same time it was quite clear that the warrior who commanded him so expertly was precisely where she wanted to be.
“And I do know Legs. He gave you that staff that about took my legs off.”
“Aye, that I did.” The warrior felt pride rise in his belly to be known by so famous a man and didn’t feel the sting of embarrassment that another might have at being accused of helping Sweets try to win her duel. “She had you fair and square on the counter spell.”
“Aye.” Myrrdinn laughed and took the woman’s hand in his, drawing her closer in the wind and near darkness of the frozen wastes. “Marry me, Syn.”
“Of course.” She laughed into his lips and teased the lower one with her teeth. “You name the place and time and I’ll make sure that Grug can spread the word.”
“I mean privately. Just us and no one else. Now before we do this thing we’re setting out to do.” He shivered as the breeze blasted through his robes. “We’ll have another ceremony later for our friends.”
And she thought she understood and nodded. The portal appeared suddenly and she stepped through it without hesitation.
They knelt together in the Cathedral of Stormwind with an almost cranky Priest who blessed them and said the words in a quick stream. Young love would have been an excuse for such speed, he thought, but this? And then he saw the way that the pair drank each other in and could feel the strength of their love even from where he stood sleepily reading the vows and he gentled. They were clearly warriors away from some terrible front. Maybe they feared there would be no tomorrow for a ceremony like this one.
On her last commitment Syn drew from her pocket the one thing she’d ever had that suited, as a binding between them and Myrrdinn was astonished to see it.
“Myrrdinn, I gift you a gift you once gave to my first love. This is an Orc amulet of protection that you took from a shaman who wielded it like a weapon and killed the commander of your party with it. Shamans are magicians of the most mystical and natural faith there is, and if it protected him and kept him alive to fight another day, then I want you to wear it and know that when I cannot be there this is the most powerful thing I have to remind you to wait for me so that we can go together into whatever lies beyond.” Her tears were over-bright and he understood them.
“And this I’ve had for you since you first graduated from academy, little love.” He drew a simple silver and emerald band from his pocket. “It’s enchanted with the most powerful protection any enchanter can make for you.” He slipped it onto her finger and held her hand in his for a moment. “I’ve loved you forever, little girl. Since I first met you. And today I want you to know I’ll never rush in or linger when you call me out. My love, my heart, I cannot promise I will never leave you, I’m already old.” She snorted and he shook his head at her and she quieted. “What I swear is that I will not go without fighting with everything I am to get back.”
The Priest could feel a history that ached between the pair and leaned, laying a palm on each of their heads and said a prayer of blessing that blasted through them both and brought a gasp from them each. A prayer of fortitude so great that Syn was giddy in it and gasped her thanks to the man.
“Kiss your lovely little bride, man. Make her your wife already.” The Priest poked Myrrdinn unceremoniously with his slippered toe and the mage laughed out loud and kissed Syn fully on the mouth. “There we have it. Married at three in the morning. Now go. Scamper off and consummate it so I can get back to bed.”
Syn laughed aloud and rose, embracing the old man warmly. “Thank you sir. Thank you.”
“Go, sweeting. And walk with my protection on you against this thing that you do.”
“In the morning I march to kill the Lich King.” She said and watched the man’s face pale. “But tonight I am blessed by the most powerful protection in the world.” And he watched how her eyes glowed when she turned them on her new husband. “We’ll be back for you to do this in the daylight for our friends, father. I promise.”
And like the first night, Syn stradled her new husband on the settee in his lounge and had the stars of Stormwind over her through the window when she found her first release as Myrrdinn’s wife.
Freezing again and shaking in the cold, Syndalee happily accepted the hot tea from one of the shamans and wrapped her hands around the wide stone mug before sipping the sweet and spicy contents of the special Draenic tea that the shamans prepared in large quantities to drink during combat because it renewed their power and made them able to cast more spells. Myrrdinn preferred the water and biscuits he was able to create himself and often conjured up a table from which they could all partake of the strangely filling food that vanished after a few hours.
At the thought of him she glanced up and found him strolling, hands locked behind his back, speaking to the high Commander and one of Varian’s advisors. She smiled his way and then whistled for her griffin that appeared as if she’d been expecting her mistress to call.
She mounted the beautiful snow-white beast and patted the downy feathers of her neck, leaning low to breathe in the part beast part bird friend who had so loyally taken care of her for so long. “Lets go spot ahead.” She whispered and smiled when the griffin took flight, immediately understanding.
One of the many Death Knights who had joined their cause and kept mainly to their own saluted her as she flew past and Syn nodded his direction with a thumbs up symbol before she steered her mount high and fast over the first set of walkways that ringed the inner Citadel like high walls from which the scourge could rain destruction while relatively untouched themselves.
The warrior’s eye missed little and she pulled her mount back and dropped so quickly to the ground that the Death Knight dropped his bread and raced forward thinking she’d been grounded by one of the many magus in the citadel above them.
She turned her griffin and addressed the Death Knight directly. “Arthas is just above us now, giving orders to a very large pair of abominations and something I don’t know what to say it is.”
The Death Knight ran back to his commander who turned and moved straight for Myrrdinn’s little group.
Syn flew back to the stable and rubbed her griffin’s lovely back, kissing the eagle face just beside the beak. “Stay low, love. I’ll see you soon.” And then ran back to gather her things in her packs and stow them into the chests where all of their belongings were protected during combat. She’d just secured her helm and readied her weapon when the call to order came and she raced forward, waiting for her orders.
Myrrdinn’s eyes found his wife immediately and he smiled, turning to the High Commander with a sigh. “I think she’s afraid it will look badly for me if she’s not always completely prepared.” He laughed.
“I think it would look poorly for you if you didn’t love her so much, Myrrdinn. Congratulations on finding such an impressive and lovely woman.”
The mage beamed and bowed to the man. “She does Dalaran proud.” Myrrdinn laughed at the man’s questioning look.
“Her parents were mages killed in service to the crown, sire.” The advisor supplied, seeming already to have done his research, piquing Myrrdinn’s interest. “She lived for a time in Dalaran as a ward of the city and then literally as a ward of the mages when their orphanage was closed. Syndalee didn’t come to Stormwind until she was accepted to the academy.”
“On her first trial.” Myrr supplied. “Her first husband, my friend Colin Masters, was her instructor and then her husband after he’d stepped down from his teaching responsibilities to lead armies in Outlands and then in Northrend.” The mage touched the amulet he wore under his robes where he felt it always where Syn had laid it when she’d tied it onto his neck.
“Sweetassyn.” The man said suddenly, remembering her from the stories. “The warrior who would live with mages. I’m less surprised now that she would marry the greatest war mage of her age.” The commander turned to the advisor curiously. “Who were her parents?”
“The lady and master Nicolia and…”
“Jamison Samuels. A pair of really impressive war mages.”
Myrrdinn knew the names and was stunned that Syn had never mentioned them before. And that she’d never laid claim to their small fortunes, still held in trust. “I don’t know that my wife knows who her parents are, actually. Not in that way, anyway. She found a safe-deposit box in Dalaran as a young girl and discovered that while not also a mage, she’d picked up her mother’s gift at alchemy and her father’s gifts with words and languages by reading their papers and journals.”
“Only a mage would secure personal writings and not include a will or legal papers.” The commander laughed, shaking his head. “Sorry, Myrrdinn. No offense.”
“I don’t have a safe deposit box. I suppose it’s cocky of me but I find them terribly pessimistic.” He shrugged and clapped his hands together, creating a broad flat table on which much water and pastries suddenly appeared. “Eat up, folks, it’ll all be gone before morning.”
The casters gathered quickly, collecting what they could carry and nodding their gratitude. Fionna turned to find Syndalee and raced away with a bag of water for the girl.
“For a girl with no magical ability she has an uncanny ability to endear herself to the magical community.” The advisor laughed.
“She belongs to us. She may pledge her fealty to her King and she may know her place in the ranks, but that spirited little warrior is the child of a city of lonely and childless individuals who all have a reason to see in her the future they have not made for themselves.” Myrrdinn studied the advisor. “When did you take such an interest in her, Adam?”
“When she saved my sister in the mages’ quarter, the night before her graduation from the academy. She was on orders and still stopped and saved her life and then sent medics back for her after the little thing in the auction house with you.”
Myrrdinn grimaced. “It wasn’t my finest moment.”
“The three of you took five horde invaders who had already murdered many soldiers and townsmen.”
“I hadn’t realized we were alone.”
“There were five in the auction house.” The man reasserted. “You killed four of them and the fifth got them all out with some incantation we still don’t know the name for.”
Myrrdinn laughed aloud. “I know the name.” He raised his arms and the mages and priests and warlocks all gathered to him as if he’d spoken. “And if you’ll be the one to inform that little warrior that she’s an heiress and not make me have to do it for you then I might even tell you where to find the original tome that teaches it.” He made eye contact with the soft man and winked before addressing the casters who’d gathered in their assorted commands and orders.
Adam studied the girl who was already hopping and jostling with the warriors, ramping up in the way that only the melee fighters ever did. Today began the assault on the citadel and these brave souls were one party of four who were all going in at once in an organized assault aimed at bringing down the Lich King. Already Varian was leading a group, much smaller and much more subtle, into the gates. The next three would come up and into the citadel from strategic locations designed to split the scourge and keep them constantly having to regroup.
“Aye, Myrrdinn. I’ll be the one.”
Coming in through one of the lower doors Syn gagged on the smell of decay and stale air and shuddered in the closeness of a frozen keep made of metal and stone. She could hear water somewhere and gazed around herself in the dimly lit corridor. A voice called out as they crossed the threshold that they would not be long for the world and then in it’s madness the creature or whatever it might be that ran the soul harvesting factory began to cackle madly.
They were suddenly under attack from huge skeletal guardians who used magic and brute force equally well and she had no time to wonder what it was that Lady Jayna had to say to their leaders that had brought her up here.
Myrrdinn’s mages and warlocks and shadowy shimmery priests unleashed unholy hell on the enemy in the same instant that the warriors rogues shamans and paladins surged forward to engage in the close ground. Hunters and their pets came in the next wave and the mass of blood and violence began to move through the maze of catwalks and rooms that reminded Syn of the Nerubian lairs she’d spent so many months clearing one by one with her new potion.
Closer and closer to the maddening voice of whatever abomination against nature might wait for them in the depths of the first of many chambers leading into the body of the citadel itself.
Syn gasped in the doorway as the paladins and best geared warriors engaged the floating head that seemed to be guarding a portal to another place. She gave a shout and charged forward like a flash, screaming in agony when a pool of shadowy life draining energy opened under her feet and sent her scrambling back and away, actually rubbing her thighs through her armor and shaking all over. Then she was right back in and on the monstrosity and leapt into the air when the thing died, slapping hands together with a dozen other fighters before turning her eyes to the High Commander and to their own battle leader who were all discussing whether or not to go through the portal or continue their assault by going back and finding another route.
The Death Knight Thessarian insisted that the portal would be their best choice, whether it were a trap made by Arthas or not, because the scouts had not found another way yet to bring them all up to anywhere else from the catwalks outside.
Syn turned her eyes to where the priests and shamans and druids were quickly working to repair the wounded and then stepped towards the portal and made her choice visibly obvious. Others began to gather with her wordlessly and somewhere someone began to beat the drums of war that brought them all strength. They were joined by the others a few at a time until their whole army stood at the ready prepared for what might be a trap and might simply be a door made for a king who preferred not walk the maze he’d built around himself.
Myrrdinn shook his head at her cheek and gave the order to go through. In one mass they raced through and Syn froze on the other side, turning quickly to survey the suddenly open area, reaching and pulling a feral druid back and pointing.
Everywhere were scourged magus and flying beasts and the druid nodded thanks to the warrior before shifting into a cat form that thrilled Syn to the point of having to pet the beasts head, which brought a heavy purr from the girl druid who wove through the warrior’s legs and dropped at her feet to hold position.
And when their leaders were though Myrrdinn hissed quick thanks to his beautiful little wife and turned to the paladins and warriors who would lead the charge, gesturing to split into two groups. He quickly separated the groups with his own body and gave the forward command with a single shout. Everywhere were slaves chained to the walls, stripped down to nearly nothing. What respect for life would an undead army have? If the slaves froze to death, naked and violated in the frozen wastes, they could be quickly replaced and their bodies reanimated at will.
Syn stopped fighting for long enough to cut one woman free and saw that all around them everyone was doing the same, so that their progress was slowed by setting the unscourged slaves free from their bindings. Somewhere to the back mages had set up portals to the argent grounds where these poor souls would find protection and shelter.
A terrible beast, like the ice giants outside of the citadel, guarded a giant forge and Syn turned to the paladin who was leading her group, feeling fear in her stomach at the sight of the mightily huge monstrous creature that could speak and moved like a lumbering man.
“Right, then, casters, back here. The Death Knight says that he’s going to start throwing things at us. Big things. He says that that beast isn’t as smart as he is just strong and quick.” The dwarf shook his head and rubbed his hand over his beard. “You gotta work to give him a hangnail to remember and when we get him down get his head off.”
Syn laughed and still felt the nervousness of a lifetime welling in the pit of her stomach. What the hell was going on here in this terrifying world where there were no natural laws anymore? How many larger and more horrible monsters were they about to face in this race to find and kill Arthas? And then the paladin was on the monster and she raced forward with a prayer to the gods that she should be successful.
A small army of undead beasts burst from the floor of the giant forge and Syn called out for help just as they were on her small group. Suddenly the whole area was alight in a green glowing patch of grass and plants that glowed and her whole body felt a thousand times more powerful. With a shout she surged forward and spun, dicing the many enemies in a powerful arc of her sword that sent them scattering back or cut them to shreds.
Beside her the druid cat gave a cry and went down, her long lavender hair shining against the green of another druid spell. Syn knelt beside the woman and with one hand uncorked one of the many healing potions she carried, urging the injured druid to drink. The woman smiled up at her and nodded. Her own magic began to repair her farther as Syn raced forward and back on to the monstrosity that seemed to be waning from the endless assault of the casters.
On and on, stopping only to dress wounds or plan the next move until they were joined by the other three Alliance parties under Wrynn’s command and the mighty forces of the Horde, led by a young Orc warrior Syn never heard mentioned by name.
In mixed groups of Horde and Alliance under the command of the former Death Knights and the Paladins the assault began in earnest, from fighting monstrous plagued abominations as big as whole houses to their creator, Professor Putricide. Syn stopped with a group of other shaken warriors and shamans to regroup on the way towards vampiric cursed mages and soldiers who used the blood and pain of their enemies to make themselves stronger and more powerful.
They marched still farther, running sometimes from one fight to the next as if racing to see who could make it first through the labyrinth of the great Citadel at the top of the world in Icecrown. Valithria Dreamwalker was set free and Sindragosa was put down and when she’d had enough of dragons forever, Syn and Legs were dragged to a room full of whelps by a command from Myrrdinn himself and the warriors charged in as if they could fly, blades whirling and faces fierce in the face of the hard combat they’d seen over the past twelve hours.
And then Arthas, the former Prince who murdered his way all the to becoming King of the undead was brought down and Syn knelt panting, her whole body spent and trembling in exhaustion as many were led away or borne away on litters and mourned by their friends and other fellow fighters who respected the losses. And her own sharp eyes and ears recorded forever Tyrian Fordring’s words and the events so few would ever know about later even while she struggled to understand the meaning of it all.
When she would have staggered to her feet at seeing his familiar robes, Syn was greatly relieved by her husband’s strong, capable hands on her freezing arms and even more grateful a few seconds later when he stripped her bloody armor off and carried them both, naked and shivering and covered in blood and ooze and the dust of a thousand fallen undead into the hot bubbling waters of the baths at Dalaran.
For years Syn would attempt to recall and could not reconstruct how she’d gotten from the baths to a room in the Ledgerdemain in Dalaran to wake feeling battered and starving and still cold as though something had planted ice in her veins. She knew she’d forgotten hunger at the sight of her husband asleep beside her and Syn recalled curling into him and making the choice that nothing more than his warmth mattered for a bit longer before drifting off again until midafternoon. She’d awakened again to a simple breakfast of fish and fruit and heavy mead and then fallen asleep again with very few words.
Much later there was lovemaking and a decision to delay a return to Stormwind until they had to return for the celebration for all returning combatants and supporting Alliance victors. Syndalee and Myrrdinn had a honeymoon to enjoy and a life together to find and she set aside thoughts of the Citadel until she could be separated from the bone throbbing bruises and still ragged red gashes that would take weeks to heal, even with salves and potions. Her warrior’s mind needed to separate from the pain and suffering in order to fully digest all she’d seen and heard at the top of the Citadel when only a very few had remained.
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