a blog of experiences of places and faces I've been, past and present

01 April 2011

Syn has the Better Story 1...




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

Fire

Orphaned by a war she’d had no part in, Syndalee had spent the first two years of her childhood as a ward of the strangest orphanage ever imagined. Some civic-minded gentleman or lady of the magical persuasion had decided that Dalaran required an orphanage and so it had been opened and operated for 5 years, during which time the few children who found themselves orphaned and taken into the Dalaran orphanage had also been unwitting subjects in the oddest sort of experiments.
Could non-magical children be taught to cast even the most simplistic and materials based magic’s? And could magical peoples who primarily never had time to have children be responsible for children who were difficult and often non-magical?
In little Syndalee’s case the answer had been officially, “Not even with help” on both counts.
Vivid red hair that grew thicker and thicker and more lush and beautiful with every passing day and green eyes that rivaled the green of an Emerald Dragon’s riveting eyes, the little cherubic child had been gifted with a giggle that could charm even the coldest and most obsessed magical heart and the genius ability to recognize and identify even the rarest of herbal compounds almost from the moment that she could speak. And she could no more wield even the most simple of basic magic than any other mundane could do.
When the Dalaran orphanage was closed one of the volunteers, a lovely and gentle hearted mage known as Fourthumbs , had been unable to pack the lonely child off with the others to take the quick journey to Stormwind where all human children were being taken for shelter.
Frenzy, as Fourthumbs had actually been named by her mother, had applied for permission to adopt the little non-magical Syndalee and had kept the child with her in her close rooms in one of the many housing towers in the magical city. And so the little orphaned girl whose parents had been almost forgotten in the mystic hustle and bustle of the mages city, lived in relative obscurity and absolute joy for another 7 years with her adoptive mother and her many cats as siblings.
The cherubic fire haired tot became a leggy and soft-spoken girl who was, as often as not, out playing with the boys outside of the city walls for hours at a time until she heard her name echoing off the bricks and she would say her goodbyes over a dusty shoulder and race home as quickly as her long bony legs would carry her and apologize a thousand times to her tiny Gnomish mother for staying out too late.
And the lovely Gnome would settle on her chair and the girl she loved with all her heart would curl on the floor so that she could lay her head on her mother’s lap and hear the day’s new stories or adventures while Frenzy would gently stroke the girl’s cheek or hair and talk. Dinner was never a fuss, nothing ever was for the pair who enjoyed a simple and not terribly easy life.
Frenzy had so many friends that there were always mages dropping by for this or that advise and while she was clumsy in her mixing of spell components and had to have it done for her, the lovely and generous little Fourthumbs was able to read most any language and often translated tomes late into the night with the little girl who called her mother sleeping against her legs.
And then one night Syndalee had been met at the door of her mother’s tiny apartment by one of the beautifully garbed mages who guarded the city. Her mother had been away in Northrend as a special assistant to another mage, and the guard was so sad and so deeply disturbed that Syndalee knew at once that it was about her Frenzy and she blinked back tears that broke the old man’s heart and asked simply, “Do I have to go away or is there somewhere else where I can stay here?”
And a passing mage stopped and said quickly, without thinking, “Of course you aren’t going away, Syndalee. You are our child. We will all care for you.”
The guard had been relieved and troubled at once. He’d been sent to bring the girl to the Archmage so that she could be taken by teleport to Stormwind. Now he had to return and explain that the little human girl that they all had come to love and cherish had been invited by a draenic mage to stay with them as a ward of the City.
Grugworg was a mighty mage and was already so well respected that few would question him, and still, the guard shook his head sadly. The child needed a home and stability and a life where she could be cared for by parents, not a constantly changing whirlwind of existence.
And for the next five years little Syndalee proved the guard’s worry baseless. She continued to grow and become more beautiful and more lovely to speak to and spend time with.
Now in addition to being able to mix or use any herb in the stores of Dalaran’s mighty armory she could also make any potion, sometimes just by being told it’s effects and seeing the color of the finished product. Syndalee was still Frenzy’s daughter in many ways, her penchant for hearing long stories and for spending long hours with friends sipping very stout drinks while very intellectual tomes were poured over and discussed was famous, even as a young girl, but she was very different in her own way. She could mix even the most potent and dangerous recipes and potions without effort. Some alchemists would sweat and their hands would shake, and the easy and strikingly beautiful Syndalee would continue chatting away over her bowls and phials and bottles often without even glancing down.
She was still foal thin but her girl’s body was hesitantly trying out more womanly traits that made the Dalaran council nervous again. The majority of her gracious hosts were male mages, and because mages are often also unmarried, she was becoming a potential problem that none of them knew how to deal with. Had Frenzy even spoken to the girl about “those things?” None of them knew and many of the shy and less socially confident of their number feared asking her.
And one day Grugworg was asked, as her greatest benefactor and protector, to have “the talk” with the girl. He balked and hesitated and procrastinated and finally cheated. He took Syndalee for a trip to the Exodar, showing the wide-eyed little beauty the crashed ship he’d arrived on Azeroth in.
It was while watching his little charge with a boastful warrior just older than she was that the wizened mage realized that the elders and the council were right to worry. The quiet and sweetly yielding girl was the perfect palate for a myriad of possible indiscretions and seemed unaware and dangerously naive. A sense of paternal protectiveness filled the Draenei and he interrupted the pair briskly and invited Syndalee to accompany him to a lady Draenei’s home.
Gozier had expected the visit and was less than hesitant with the girl who gawked openly at all of the totemic and shamanic tomes and items lying all over her apartments. In thirty questions the Shaman both adored and was irritated by the girl and so she’d taken Syndalee away from the mage and told her directly, “The man mages around you are afraid that no woman has told you the things that women need to know. I’m no human woman, and I still know a bit about that subject. Do you know how women are different from men?”
And Syndalee had laughed. No embarrassment in the girl’s violently green eyes, and also no shyness. “I do, Gozier. I’m sorry that I thought I was here to learn about Shamanism from you. I didn’t know…”
And the Draenei laid her hand on the girl’s slender shoulder and laughed. “So you believed he was seeking your true calling, then? Not seeking someone less afraid to broach the subject of sex and womanly changes?” The Shaman laughed again and sat on the edge of her very soft mattress. “Tell me, then, Syndalee, how do you come to know enough that you take my embarrassing question in stride?”
“I’m a girl in a city of men?” Syndalee blushed. “They have all got books and drawings and stories tucked everywhere. I read them until I had too many questions and then I asked one of the cooks and she took me home with her for the night and it was fortuitous, too, because my flow started the very next month and I’d have been horribly frightened if I hadn’t known what to expect. She also showed me where in the library I could find books that would tell me the “real of it” as she said, because what the men read was “a sad falsehood that keeps those idiot mages single forever.”
Gozier snorted and laughed so loudly that Grugworg called from the other room to make sure everyone was all right. “Fine. Fine.” She laughed and waved him off through the closed door. “She’s right, your friend the cook. And she’s wrong. It’s up to a woman to find the mates who prove that. And to choose wisely. I think that’s the biggest fear, Syndalee. These men see you becoming dangerously beautiful and tempting, even to themselves. They fear that someone who does not care as much as they do for you will take advantage of that, even in a moment of weakness, and that you will be hurt.”
Syndalee thought of that the whole night, and then all the way to the horse seller in Menethil where Grugworg said he wanted to buy her a horse of her own. And then, before he could cast the portal that would take them home she asked if they could just ride for a bit first, up through the swamp to the ruins where amazing artifacts were being found.
Grugworg had always enjoyed the girl and loved her company and so he agreed.
And Syndalee had pulled them over outside of the Dwarven camp she’d wanted to explore and laid a hand on his gigantic one.
“Grug, you’re my closest friend. If you ever have something you want to know from me ever again, or anything you ever want to say to me again, please, say it to me. I embarrassed myself with Gozier thinking that she was going to teach me about being a Shaman when you only wanted to make sure she’d had the mating talk with me.”
He blushed and studied the tiny paleness of her hand on his. “I didn’t mean to embarrass you, Syn.”
“I know you didn’t. Grug, I’ve been a woman by biological rules for 5 years. By a man’s standards for 2.” At his startled and almost angry look she flinched back and he immediately recaptured her hand and apologized.
“I deserve your anger, Syn, honey. You’re right. I didn’t think to even find out when you should have been educated.”
“I should have expected you would be more worried about me choosing a profession and becoming a part of the world that you all work so hard to protect me from. In three months time I can no longer be a ward of the City, and unless I want to become a cook or nanny, I cannot stay even as an alchemist because I am not also a mage.”
Grugworg took her words in stride and began to think hard about how he’d also managed to miss that piece of information. “And what do you want to do?”
“I want to apply to the warrior training school in Stormwind. They have an excellent academy and…”
“You’re not a warrior.”
“How would you know? You didn’t even know that I’d coupled and taken all the necessary precautions to prevent myself from becoming pregnant until I’m telling it to you now.” She dismounted and climbed a rock, her anger rapidly dispelling in the light of a glorious sunset where she’d also managed to find a rare plant growing from a crack in the rocks. “I’m sorry, Grug. How rude of me when everything you’ve done has been for me today.” She met his gaze and the mage who loved her best felt her sincerity and her pain tugging at his heart again.
“Again, I think you’re apologizing for me, little girl.” And he’d dismounted and the pair of them had walked up the long hill to the archaeologist’s camp at the top of the excavation. “What makes you think you would be a good warrior?”
“I think it’s easier if I show you, in Stormwind, if you’ll take me.”
And after supping and staying the night in the godsforsaken wilds of the Wetlands outside an excavation site flooded with swamp water and plagued by raptors and talk of everything from what the Gods or Titans meant by different lessons on the different tablets and artifacts being found, Grugworg watched the sleeping girl who still slept like a child with one hand tucked under her chin with a sad awareness that the little girl who had stolen that special place in his heart was becoming a woman in more ways than the physical and carnal ways that were at the forefront the day before. She’d spoken and held her own with the Dwarves and had gained their admiration as well as their willingness to teach her if she made it back this way again. She was forging a path in the world with every step and in his world that made her grown enough to be supported on that path by those who claimed to love her.
And so, standing in front of the house of war in Stormwind’s Old Town, the mage was trepidatious and excited at once.
And Syndalee did not disappoint herself or her benefactor. She bested three of the four recruits who were sent with her into the challenge ring and then, on encouragement from her benefactor, she faced off against the instructor who’d challenged her. With a fierce cry that came from somewhere Grugworg had never seen the little girl who had giggled and sat in his lap to hear stories while playing with his transgotos or who had climbed and ridden his shoulders in the wild sea when he’d taken her to the beach was suddenly a fierce and inspiring beast with a mastery over the swords she was given that surprised him.
Later, after the instructor had told her the price of her training and quartering and promised to hold her a place in their school for as long as it took for her to raise the money, Grugworg strolled the streets of Dalaran with the girl and stopped outside of a little shop to ask her where she’d learned to fight.
“I’ll tell you what I told your friend Gozier. I’m a non-magical girl alone with only mages for company. I learned what I thought would be useful from the people who keep this city running while none of you were looking.”
“Syn, you have a magic that surpasses mine.” Grug had dragged her against him in an embarrassed and impassioned hug that made him blush. “It may not be a mastery of the arcane that surrounds us that you hold as a prize, and it is still magical.”
A few moments later she came bounding from the shop with her eyes alight and blazing with excitement. “I knew she couldn’t resist it!”
“And what might that be, Syn?”
“I found a recipe in my mother’s things and I re-worked it a little. She knew how to make some really incredible potions, and this one she was developing before she died.”
“I didn’t know that Fourthumb… I’m sorry, Syn. I didn’t know that Frenzy knew any potion recipes. Was she copying them from an ancient text?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I found out last month that mama kept a satchel in the bank for me of my parent’s belongings. I didn’t manage to be lucky enough to inherit their magical abilities, but I seem to have picked up my father’s ability to make friends and learn languages wherever I go and my mother’s ability to make anything into a potion.”
So matter of fact about the people lost to her before she could know them. Grugworg himself had never even heard stories about the girl’s dead parents, only a mention once from Frenzy who said they’d died in service to a power greater than man or King.
“And you’ve sold one of your mother’s recipes?”
And the girl blushed and glanced down at the ground. “Ummm… no.” She looked so suddenly chagrined that he reached out for her. “Should I have? I… it’s the only thing I have of her and it seems like I shouldn’t give her away that way. No, I reworked the potion and sold some of the result instead.”
“Sweet innocent little Syndalee.” Grug dragged the girl into another embrace and kissed the top of her head. “That is how money is made by alchemists, my darling. You keep that recipe and all of the others that you’ve made better or different and you offer them as finished potions for sale. The clever alchemists will figure them out, or come close. The less clever ones may sell yours as their own or even try to trick you into selling them the recipes. You stay true to the idea that this gift is your own and that it’s your way in the world.”
“Really my way, Grug. I never made a potion to sell before. I just made enough for my whole first year of school.”
“What in the world have you created, Syn? How much did she pay you for them and what did you sell her?”
Syndalee handed him one of the remaining potions and watched as he turned the little vial over in his hands. “I made that one for you. When Simione tested it she said it didn’t wear off for hours.”
“And what does it do?”
“Makes it so that magic cannot fatigue you as easily. You can cast even great spells very close together and never feel that tiring lapse that makes you have to stop and center yourself. I just thought it might be helpful in combat if you…”
“More helpful than you know. And how many did you sell to her?”
“Oh, Simione? She didn’t want that one. She wanted a different one that makes warriors fight harder by giving them the spirit of a rare plant called Icethorn that comes from the frozen North. The one my mom was designing. I made up the one I just gave to you from the same recipe because… well… I do spend a very lot of my time with mages.”
He laughed and followed her down the road to a little room she’d been keeping for herself in the same tower where she’d lived with Frenzy. “What else have you learned that I’ve been remiss in not asking about?”
“So many things, Grug.” And for the first time the girl lit up with excitement about what she could share, not just what she could learn and he felt that pang deep inside himself for neglecting to notice that she’d grown up right under his nose. “Do you want to see? I have a whole bag of things for you.”
“For me? Why for me, Syn? I’ve never given you anything but some little trinkets and toys along the way.”
Syn’s eyes misted and she took his giant lavender skinned hand in both of hers and pulled it to her chest where he could feel her heart beating. “I’m all alone, Grug. Alone before I even understood it and then almost alone over and over again. I’m about to be alone again. You gave me hope that whenever I’m alone someone will understand that hurt and will prevent it from haunting me.”
“I just didn’t want them to send you away, child. You’re a bright spot in a pretty intense and sometimes gloomy town. You don’t see Dalaran that way, but I do. So do many of the people who live and teach here.”
“This is the city of my dreams, Grugworg. I didn’t know it as a little girl and I really know it now that I return here for my things because I’m setting off on an adventure. This is my home and you helped to make it that way for me.”
From his personal selfishness he’d given a gift. He had much thought to give that idea later, he decided, because suddenly the girl was talking about him being able to manifest spells as hot and powerful as the sun if he drank this little phial or be able to come completely back up from mental exhaustion and begin casting again instantly with this chewy little packet of herbal wonder.
“You really made all these things?”
“Yes.” She smiled shyly. “I hardly ever even bother with the potions and elixirs that help anyone other than a mage or a healer. They’re the ones that my mother was most interested in, both of my mothers, I guess.”
“And this is entirely for me?”
“You can call it payment for all the times I’ve spent in your apartment as a guest, or for my beautiful horse, if it makes you feel more comfortable.”
He laughed out loud and patted her hand on the table. “Not payment. I never wanted payment. We’ll call them gifts as you’d intended them and I’ll pack my pride away until I can find someone wiser than me to help me understand why I’m suddenly feeling old and out of step.”
The little girl still in the young woman who sat across from him wailed sincerely and grabbed his hand in both of hers before exclaiming earnestly, “Grugworg, you’ll never be old! Not in my lifetime, anyway. Draenei live so much longer than humans that I’ll be gone long before you’re ever really truly old.”
He didn’t have an answer for her and was relieved when she remembered another little thing for him that became the most important thing he’d ever gotten as a gift from anyone.
“If you want me to I can make you more of them.”
“This is more than enough.” He’d stared at the tiny little bottles, each no bigger than his thumbnail and then back at her again. “Syndalee, where in the world did you find the rare plants you used to make these?” Grugworg had seen the vastness of Northrend and had seen where the little plants she described thrived and knew that no faint of heart tradesman had ventured there for some plants.
She looked down at the backs of her hands and then made eye contact with him. “Perhaps it is best to say only that I traded for them.”
He didn’t speak for fear of what he might say and she interpreted his silence and the misunderstanding clearly behind it and instantly and blushed.
“Not that way.” She said in a rush. “I have learned how to use the powers of transmutation. Not as well as some do, and still well enough. The man wanted me to make him titanium from saronite and so I spent a very long time perfecting it so that I could make him piles of the stuff for armor that he wanted to have commissioned.”
The Draenei blinked in surprise. “Why in all of Azeroth would you be embarrassed to admit that?”
“I was afraid you’d feel that it was too expensive a gift if I told you what I’d made in trade to make it for you.”
“I see.” The mage looked into the little box full of rows and rows of the amazing elixir she’d made for him and then back up into her hopeful green eyes. “Well, Syndalee, this little box is the answer to a need that I’ve had since before I knew you. Was this another of your mother’s recipes?”
“Umm… actually that one was something that mama thought of one night when we were discussing the properties of bending magic to a caster’s will, and how exhausting it can be. She said And what if one could harness some of that power and gulp it down for just one quick burst of dragon-like strength or ability? And it got me to thinking and we talked long into the night about it.”
“So really this is your own creation with the inspiration of others.” He’d nodded then and laid the beautifully carved box aside so that she was focused only on him. “You are the daughter I may never have, Syndalee. The greatest gift I have ever been gifted and I was forsaking you by not realizing who and what you are.” When she would have spoken he brought a finger to his lips and she was instantly silent. “I will never take for granted the friend and love that I have in you, little girl. If you feel that I am, I ask you to swear here and now that you will remind me of this night so I do not forget it.”
She nodded silently and smiled at him suddenly. “I can go to school tomorrow, Grug. I can become a warrior.”
The mage who felt years older than his real time shook his head and laughed then. “Yes, Syn, my sweet. You certainly can.”
*
Syn crept down the alley and glanced over her shoulder, turning the cowl she wore into a mask that guised her features and made her unrecognizable. This was her last night in Dalaran and she had to say goodbye to some that the others who enjoyed life topside in the great city of mages might not have approved if they’d known.
Down into the underbelly she went, twice kicking at the giant rats and other creatures lurking in the darkest of the shadows. She bowed politely to the withered old woman who kept the bar in the Cantrips and Crows and continued on by ducking through one of the sewer pipes and slip sliding her way to the less than level stones at the outlet.
She heard him before she could see him and stopped, holding still while he recognized her and then threw back her cowl so that he could see her in the very low light.
“I knew you would be here.” She whispered and took the man’s hands in hers while his eyes adjusted enough to the darkness that he could fully see her bright face like a moon. “I have a gift for you and some news that you’re not going to like, I’m afraid.”
“You will never say something I don’t like.” He said and stepped closer, putting his hands on her hips to pull her closer.
“I’ve been accepted to the warrior academy in Stormwind, Myrr. I’m going away.”
“Stormwind?”
She nodded and laid her hand on his chest, misunderstanding his incredulous tone. “Please don’t be angry with me, please don’t tell me I can’t do this…”
He kissed her lips and she melted against him with a low groan that silenced her as he’d hoped it would do. “Silly girl.” He whispered against her ear with a moan of his own as her quick learning hands caressed his lower back in just the way he loved most. “Where do you think I live? Here? In this godsforsaken sewer? I don’t show my face above because it’s best if I do not. I live in Stormwind.”
She clung suddenly dizzy and laughed against his chest with so much elation that he was taken aback by it. “If I’d known I would just have asked if you minded if I visited you.”
He nodded. “That’s a complicated thing, even…” he stopped himself and she shrugged. “I can come to see you there.”
“She must be quite a lady, Myrr.” Syn whispered and hoped he did not hear the sadness that clung to each word. “And I didn’t come here to set up housekeeping with you, I came to say goodbye and to give you something amazing.”
She handed him the box before he could speak. “These amplify your magic for a few seconds. The effect takes awhile to work again, but in the moment right after you chew the little pocket you will have the firepower of a dragon.”
“How…?”
“Only mages and priests wear gowns, Myrrdinn.” She rolled her eyes at him and caressed the graying hair at his temples with a smile. “I didn’t mistake you for a Paladin. And a priest would never…” She drew up short and stepped back. “You’re no priest.”
“Certainly not.” He studied the box of tiny magical firepower disguised as jelly candy and then on her glowing green eyes. The dim candles on the walls reflected and made her emerald eyes flash in the low light like gems.
“And these are a way to keep your energy from flagging when you have to cast a lot of spells really close together, like in combat.” She handed him a leather bag with easily one hundred tiny clinking bottles in it. “The mage who tested them said that it lasted for more than an hour. She said she could just keep casting and casting and then when it wore off she wasn’t tired, just noticed that her spells seemed to be taxing her like they should again.”
His mouth fell open and he tilted his head to study her more closely. “Syn, you don’t even know me.”
“I know you better than you know yourself, Myrrdinn because unlike you I’ve bothered to accept you for what you are and took a look inside under all your defenses.” She said it so firmly and plainly that he only nodded. “These are very hard to come by, I only have a few of these because the plants are terribly rare and expensive. When you really need it and just cannot have it, these are like sleep in a bottle. You can drink one and it’s like having spent a weekend at the sea with only books and wine and food and a soft soft bed.”
He laughed at the image and studied the slightly iridescent shimmering elixirs that gave off a faint white glow. “Where did…?”
“I found the recipe and played with it. The effect is really sad, because you can use one and when it wears off a few hours later you’re just as tired as you’d be if you’d really missed that much sleep plus a few hours. You can’t just drink another and keep going.”
“I wouldn’t imagine anyone could go on forever.” He studied the vials again and then kissed her meaningfully only to feel that she’d pulled back and away from that attraction at the supposition that he was not hers alone.
“And lastly, because you love sneaking and knowing what no one else can know.” She handed him two little bags. “The red ones let you travel outside of yourself for a little while and scout ahead. I’ve tested and absolutely nothing can see you. Not even dragons.” She saw the joy fill his eyes and smiled. “It’s quite temporary and returns you very suddenly back to yourself, but you can see, breathe, smell and taste while you’re there, it’s very handy.”
“Syn, these must…” She laid a hand over his mouth and winked at him.
“And these other ones, the lavender ones, they make you invisible. Some things seem to still know you’re there, but most things can’t find you. Figure if you smell bad or are covered in blood that some things would find you no matter how well you were hidden and be clever, but Myrrdinn, invisible like even Rogues cannot accomplish. It lasts for only a few seconds and I think these are the most useful of them all to a man like you.”
He couldn’t speak. She’d truly understood him better than he did her, just as she’d said.
“I’m not married, Syn. If that’s what you think.”
Her body relaxed so visibly that he knew he’d hit the mark directly. “I have… commitments to people who might not understand my dalliances with a girl so much younger…”
She nodded. “So, now, do I.” She swallowed with difficulty and he could see the way her eyes shone over bright in the low light. “On both counts, Myrrdinn. Thanks for accepting those gifts. I made them just for you.”
And with that she turned to go with a quick glance over her narrow shoulder before drawing her cowl up. “You know where the Old Town is. I don’t know where I’ll be quartered. I start my training in two days’ time. I think that Grugworg will send me to Stormwind tomorrow if I ask him.”
“I can do it, Syn. You’ve never asked.”
She smiled from the shadows of her heavy hooded cloak and shook her head. “I think that you and I will have to meet again when we are more equally matched, Myrrdinn. When your commitments can be weighed against the reality that I am greater and more loyal to you than they are and that the only fool with any concern to my age shares your robes with you.”
And with that she was swallowed by the shadows and the mage was left to contemplate her words in the darkness of the sewers under Dalaran. He didn’t see the huge cloaked figure that disengaged itself from the shadows against a wall and hurried away after the girl. He saw only the prismatic effect of his suddenly wet eyes in the darkness as he turned towards the dim yellow candlelight and whispered the words that would take him home to stow his treasure trove of potions and elixirs.
Grug had met Myrrdinn a few times in Stormwind and in Northrend. The mage was too old for his Syndalee, and was also an honorable man and gifted mage. The Draenei was conflicted. It was clear to him that there was some intimacy between his young ward and the mage who was almost old enough to be her father. It was also clear that she had her head on straight and had control over a relationship that was precisely an example of what had actually frightened the mages of Dalaran to summon him in the first place.
The mage smiled to himself. His girl would be ok.
... more to come... Ice

more to follow...

Syn has the Better Story 2...




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

And OK Syndalee truly was. OK in every possible way that a young woman could ever be.
Syndalee excelled her instructors’ highest expectations in every lesson they threw at her until she was in a class all her own because none of the other recruits could keep up with the agile and determined fiery-haired little warrior.
The little leggy girl matured into a woman before their eyes and many of them had to admit that her beauty was unmatched by any others in the town.
Long waving locks of dark red hair that shone like it was on fire in the sunlight and turned so dark it was almost brown in lower light framed her face and cascaded down her back in a tumbling waterfall that accentuated her long pale neck and the curves she kept hidden in all the right places. Even in her armor the pale skinned girl inspired men to gawking and catcalling that often embarrassed her until her cheeks glowed from the safe shadows of her helm.
The tough little warrior had also earned a nickname that she held dearly and refused to either give up or explain to new recruits and strangers who inquired curiously about it.
One night in the throws of a terrible fight with a man none of them ever saw step from the shadows she’d slapped him and spun on her heel. “That’s right. As sweet as sin, and still not yours until you meet me on equal ground and quit treating me like a child I haven’t been in years.”
The warriors on guard duty had repeated it to one another in passing and in the morning one of them had teased her. “Hey, there’s Sweetassyn!”
In a second she’d gone from fiercely hurt and angry to pleased for her own reasons. Colin had watched it all wash over her beautifully clever face. “That’s right, Benson, and don’t you ever forget it. And you know what you get from the Holy Father for sinning, so just you mind your manners.”
And she’d walked away, head held high and shoulders squared. Thereafter she’d even introduced herself as Sweetassyn, renaming herself to the taunting nickname until everyone used the name as a real name and Syndalee the sweet was forgotten in place of the deftly deadly Sweetassyn the vixen.
Mages were the girl’s only visitors and often she was teased for this as well, for preferring the soft-spoken bookish company of men in skirts over the heavily armored men who wielded steel and iron and who gave less thought to books than to the booze and loose women in the bar around the corner.
“Colin, those men are more powerful than I will ever be. When King Wrynn gives the command I’m going to go in and stand against the belly of the beast until I’m dead or it is. They will cleverly avoid my fate and will still make it quite dead from a distance.”
“Some of them, yes.” He’d agreed. “And some of them are just pedantic prats in dresses.”
She’d laughed and nodded. “True.”
She shrugged and gathered her hair in a knot around her fist before dragging a long leather strap right up through the middle and tying it off to secure her mass of unruly curls in a knot at the base of her neck so that he could see the lovely bare expanse of her smooth white back and the hollow of the shadow that formed in the cleft along her spine and he groaned and drew her back into the bed so that she covered him with a laugh. “I prefer men, regardless of what they wear, to be men and to know what that means.”
“Ah, but darling girl… being a man is different for each of us.”
“Yes, and you know what it means to you.” Her teeth grazed his jaw and he’d clung to her as she climbed up over him and deftly impaled herself on his length. “And ahh…” She threw her head back with a long low moan and rode him with the experience of one who knew every inch of her partner, “I know what it means to me.”
After, as his heart slowed back to normal, he stroked her hip when she rolled again to get herself ready. “You can stay, Syn.”
“No, I can’t.” She’d risen and dragged her leggings up supple thighs that begged him to touch. “It’s a rule that isn’t challenged and I’m not going to be the fool who believes it can be.”
“You’re so close to done here, Syn. Surely…”
The wise green eyes flashed at him in the dim light from outside his window and he knew she wouldn’t stay. “No.”
“Will you ever tell me who the man was who accidentally gave you your name?”
“No, because you know him.” She’d laughed at his stunned look and leaned to kiss him. “If it makes you feel better, Colin, his lips have tasted mine and his hands have sampled my wares, and still not the wares you know now. I was young and he didn’t know how young until I came here and he saw me in the light. He was shamed and is still afraid to make any claim on me for fear that questions he doesn’t want to answer himself would have to be answered aloud. You suffer no lessening from his memory. He’s never known me in the ways you do.”
And she was gone before he could speak. It was always this way with her and he’d stopped trying to change it for fear that, like that mystery man in the shadows he somehow knew in the light, he would be watching her retreating back with no hope of her returning.
No one could know that Syn had maintained her relationship with her instructor almost since she’d arrived in Stormwind. It was strictly forbidden and had happened quite accidentally, even though they had both tried to hold it back.
For two years they’d given up the fight to keep themselves separated and had instead enjoyed a few stolen moments of nearly every day together. If anyone had figured it out they’d wisely decided not to report the pair. Colin doubted anyone had discovered their secret, though. Syndalee was just too careful.
It was a deeper secret that the amazingly gifted little warrior was also an alchemist. A secret she kept even from her lover. As Syn stepped through his door she took a deep breath and looked both ways, carefully making sure that she would go undetected before she raised her fist to her lips and swallowed the contents of the glowing purple vial.
Syn ran hard and fast down the hall and out the door and into the darkness of the streets of Stormwind’s Old Town, stopping in the alley near a favorite bar, panting with her back to the wall until she was sure that the potion had worn off, and then staggered out into the light and nearly knocked a guard on his rounds off his feet.
“Watch yourself, Sweets.” He laughed and caught the girl that he thought was too loaded with drink to keep her own feet. “You gotta pay attention, kiddo.”
She’d made her lame apologies and continued her stumbling act all the way to her own barracks where she’d prepared her bath before stripping and climbing into the steaming hot basin with a sigh. The price of invisibility was a sense of unease. She was not the only alchemist who knew how to make the potions, and so it stood to reason that she was also not the only person who could use them or who would recognize their effects after. She would be graduated in two weeks’ time. Already she was out on missions as far away as Ironforge and Menethil.
Soon she would be ready for a deployment to Outlands. The idea thrilled and frightened her at once, and she told herself that Grugworg would be there to tell her the many trials she would face and it gave her peace, for the moment. Peace enough that she could climb into her narrow cot and blow out the protective light and still relax enough to find sleep.
*
Alarm bells pealed so loudly that Syn’s head spun with the ear splitting noise before she recognized it. Then she was up and getting ready with speed that surprised even herself. Of all the recruits she was easily ten minutes ahead of them into the streets, nearly bowling Colin over as she raced towards the sound of the alarm like a seasoned warrior, and not just a recruit a day from graduation.
“Horde.” He growled and gestured to a group of soldiers gathering at the entrance to the academy. “Lead them down to the Dwarven quarter.” He ordered and she nodded, turning and shouting orders as though she’d already graduated. The soldiers did not question her authority and followed her without a word through the upper streets of the Old Town and out through the walkway that led to the little bridge that would take them to the Dwarven quarter and the highly coveted Deep Run Tram.
There was no attempt made on the tram and after a few moments of tense waiting, Syn was exhausted from the pressure of staying on her guard. A second alarm sounded, this time from the center of town, and she and the other guards watched as this time even the Dwarves readied and raced to the call.
“Then it’s with the Dwarves.” She shouted over her shoulder to the relieved soldiers. “I’m sorry, Brandon and Styles, you’ll have to stay to sound an alarm here if there’s any activity.”
And they were gone across the stones and over bridges until they’d come up on the Mages district. Some instinct had stopped Syn short and she turned, finding the crumpled body of a young woman of about her own age on the cobbled stones. She checked the girl for a pulse and found a very faint one. She ordered the others ahead and pulled a tiny packet from the pouch on her belt.
She lifted the girl into her arms and tilted her face up to her own. “Drink this. Come on. That’s it.” And she watched as the girl’s eyes fluttered open and her breathing eased a bit. “That’s right. Now rest here and I’ll send you a proper healer.”
“Thank you.” The woman whispered and leaned against the wall as she’d been told to do. “It was an Orc, I think. Big hideous thing with long tusks.”
“Troll, then.” Syn said with a smile. The Orcs were the size of humans, it was Trolls who were immeasurably taller.
“He cast something on me that froze me in place.”
Syn nodded. So they had a mage, at the very least. Well, so did Stormwind. “Stay here. I’ll send someone to you.”
And across the bridge and into the fight she went, absolutely unprepared for the outrageous and dangerous fight she was entering, even after all of her training and small missions.
Everywhere was blood, so much of it that her boots slid on the worn stones of the capital city’s trade district as though she was barefoot on smooth wet marble. Shouting and flashes of light disoriented the inexperienced warrior for a moment and she took a steadying breath before spotting Colin as he commanded a small band of soldiers towards the front gates and then returned to the combat that seemed to be centered in the auction house.
Syn was torn, if the front gates were being breached then that was where she belonged and Colin had gone into the Auction House.
She was decided by a strange turn of fate that brought Myrrdinn under Colin’s command. Wherever the pair of them went, then Syn was going whether commanded or not. She turned to the soldier closest to her and commanded him out to the city gates and then raced through the door of the auction house, her sword gleaming in the light as if she’d just polished it.
An auctioneer lay dead on the raised area at the end of the room and Syn gave a mighty shout before racing into combat with the girl Orc warrior who was managing to hold a group of soldiers and Colin at bay. Syn spun with a second shout and brought her sword around in an arc that sprayed blood over the entire group of them and then parried a return attack before dropping to her knees and blocking the Orc’s heavy axe with a grunt and a swinging kick that unsteadied her.
Myrrdinn raised a hand and shouted in the language of mages and the Orc screamed as her whole body flashed arcane purple and then glowed an eerie green that Syn instantly recognized as a druid’s healing spell.
“DRUID!” She screamed and charged at the Tauren who immediately changed form into a massive cat and leapt right at her.
Colin and Myrrdinn screamed her name at once and she ignored them, raising her sword to deflect the cat’s mighty claws with a heavy groan and then rolling with the blow, so that the beast piled on the floor, stunned and unprepared for a second. A second that Syn had trained two years to take advantage of and came up out of her backwards roll with a graceful spin and a deadly cleaving blow that buried her sword in the shoulder of the beast, nearly taking it’s arm off. A shrieking beastial cry became the bellowing of a wounded cow and Syn’s boot met the beasts face in a kick that knocked it over backwards and sprawling.
The pain in her was so sudden and amazing that she couldn’t even cry out with it. Fire licked at her flesh everywhere and her lungs burned from the searing heat. When at last she could cry out she screamed and spun, trying to sight the caster even as her mind clouded and she was finding it difficult even to see.
Someone else screamed “Warlock!” even as she recognized the dark robes of the small beautiful creature in the corner of the room and went down heavily with a shuddering cry.
Lying there on the wooden floor of the auction house, Syn uncorked the last little bottle in her supply of healing potions and swallowed it, staying still as she regained some of her health before she chewed one of the gummy candies she’d made that contained the most powerful elixir she knew how to make.
She felt the energy surge through her and came to her feet in a flurry of action. Spinning like a child’s toy she screamed and her blade shone silver as she cut and cut and cut the warlock until the Blood Elf was trapped against a wall on one side and a crate on the other and could not defend with magic after casting so many powerfully draining spells. The warlock went down and then suddenly vanished.
The room was so quiet that Syn feared turning around. When she did her heart leapt into her throat and she raced without thinking up to the dead auctioneer, a plants dealer, to sack his plants. She found what she needed and put them in her mouth for lack of a better place to prepare them for the next step. Chewing the bitter horrible plants to a paste in her mouth, she spit them into the vial and then turned to the auctioneer hiding behind one of the crates behind the dead man. “I need one of your healing potions.”
The woman dug until she found one and handed it to the warrior. Syn poured it into the mixture in the little vial she held and then shook the combination over the brazier still burning on the wall until the color had gone from a murky brown to a brilliant orange.
Syndalee knelt beside the mortally wounded Myrrdinn and cradled his head in her hand. She leaned so close that no one could hear her and whispered in his ear. He drank the potion and shivered with it. She poured the rest of the lesser healing potion into his mouth and he gagged again but swallowed it down.
“Out by the bridge is another mage waiting for medical assistance.” Syn said without looking up into Colin’s eyes. “I told her I’d send help and when I got here and saw you coming in here… well, I forgot.”
She eased Myrrdinn into a sitting position against the crate and checked his eyes, turning her hand into his when he reached to catch her wrist, so that their hands locked for a moment.
“I was afraid that druid was going to eat you.” He laughed.
“That druid was cocky. She’s also gone. Someone got them back out of here.”
“So how are you, Syndalee? Doing well?” He winked up at her and she rolled her eyes at him, feeling the old familiar pull in her chest that ached as much as it thrilled her.
“I’m in a real lot of trouble. More maybe than I can get out of, I think.” She sighed and kissed the tip of her index finger, laying it on his lips. “Wait for the healer, Myrrdinn. I mean it. Wait. Right. Here.”
As she turned to a silent Colin the words that she’d waited forever to hear came out in the worst possible timing and she had to walk away from them with her heart breaking on each step.
“I don’t know that I ever believed you’d become my equal before now, Syn. I’m sorry I doubted you.”
The pair of warriors stepped into the dark night and she breathed the smell of spent adrenaline and blood and wet stones as the ever-efficient shopkeepers began the process of mopping the blood from the stones. She turned and reached to touch him and stilled her hand. “If I were a mage I would whisk us away from this place and say to you what I need to say.” She said and he could see a deep sadness in her eyes that unsettled him more than the realization that the shadow man who had begged her to love him back was the mage he’d called friend for years.
“I say to hell with what they’d say if they overheard you, Syn.”
“Meet me in your rooms.” She whispered and turned, striding confidently towards the front gates.
An hour later Syn sat waiting, naked and afraid, in Colin’s bed. When he finally staggered in she’d nearly fallen asleep and he gave a start when he saw her there right where he’d hoped a thousand times that she would be.
“You didn’t tell me you could make healing potions so powerful that they can bring a body back from the edge of death.” He said by way of greeting as he began the process of unbuckling and untying his many layers of gear.
“Nope.” She worried her lower lip with her teeth. “It’s something that I figured out I needed to keep to myself because you lot all think it’s a mage thing. A girl warrior picking flowers might have seemed… a little too girly.”
He laughed and nodded. “So that’s where your money comes from then. Those auctioneers are selling your potions.”
“Some, yes. I sell my own, too. Our little bar is a lovely spot for the sorts of elixirs and potions you wouldn’t want your boss or lover or brother to know about.” She shrugged.
“Have you ever used one on me?” He knew the answer before she said it, but he was unprepared for the hurt that flashed across her face at his taunt.
“No.” She said after a second to steady her voice. “Colin, I never lied to you. I didn’t say, and I also didn’t lie. Omission isn’t really dishonesty.”
“Not in this, I suppose.” He sat on the edge of his own bed as though he might be intruding and when she changed position he accepted her invitation and reached for her. “I’m sorry, Syn. It was cruel of me to even ask it. Particularly when it was me who seduced you.”
She laughed lightly and stroked his bruised chin with her fingertips as gently as she could. “Yes you did.” She kissed him tenderly and moaned when his hands expertly found her round breasts. “But that’s not really what you wanted to ask.”
“I’ve known Myrr since I came to this town.”
Syn nodded against his lips and pulled back. “I know. And I don’t know what the thing with Myrrdinn is for me. A brief possibility that was squandered by my inexperience and his lack of confidence? He’s a dear friend, he’s a man that I still care very much for. That’s all.”
“I believe you.” Colin laughed at the obvious fear in her eyes and dragged her more close to him. “Syndalee, if you didn’t look so scared every time we discuss this that I wouldn’t trust or believe you, I might not.” He kissed her then as a man who has found everything he’s ever wanted has always been right in front of him and was inside of her before either of them realized they’d changed positions.
After, bodies quaking and still joined, he caressed her soft white cheek and smiled down into her dark desirous eyes, the ring of green swallowed by her dark pupils grown impossibly wide as if she was trying to swallow him whole into their depths.
“Syn, no one in my life has ever been afraid that I would leave them. Not ever.” He watched as that same fear resurfaced and he shook his head. “I’m not going anywhere, love. You have to believe that.”
“As soon as I really love you then it won‘t matter what you say. It will happen whether you mean it to or not.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’ve never needed a person and not had them go away suddenly and without warning. It just happens.” She lowered her eyes from his in shame and swallowed hard over the lump in her throat. “It sounds childish and silly, and it’s my only weakness. I don’t want to love you, Colin. I don’t want to need you so much that I can’t live without you, because eventually I’ll have to find a way to do just that in return for letting myself love you so much.”
“Who did you lose that makes you so afraid, woman?” Suddenly her distant and careful demeanor meant so much more that he was almost heartbroken for her that he’d misunderstood for so long. A girl with only mages as friends, a girl with literally only the old mages from Dalaran as her friends. Benefactor, she’d said. Calling only the huge robed Draenei father, and showing a picture of a little gnomish mage as her mother once that had elicited teasing until she’d punched the most verbal of her abusers literally unconscious.
“Everyone. My mother and father died when I was still a newborn.” She rolled and joined him on her side so that their bellies and bodies still touched for their full length. “And Frenzy adopted me after the mages closed the orphanage in Dalaran. And then Frenzy died in an accident in Northrend and the mages made me a ward of the city. I didn’t have a home, I had a whole City. One couch one night, one bed another. I lived in the library when no one I knew was around to stay with. I slept in the shops, on the benches and streets until I could afford my own room, and then I had a room and the mages would stop by to watch out for my interests and make sure I was fed or had school supplies and clothes.”
He frowned at the straightforward way that the woman he loved described the loneliest life he’d ever heard of. “Oh Syn.”
“I don’t require your pity, Colin. You asked so I’ll tell you everything and then maybe you’ll better understand what is it with Myrrdinn. Maybe enough to explain it to me.” She took a shuddering breath and kissed the bruise that was blooming in vivid blues and purples on his shoulder. “And then I found out that mama left me my parent’s things in a box in the bank. On the same day that the Archmage told me that I was no longer going to be able to call Dalaran my home if I did not take a mage as my husband or if I did not seek a job as a cook or maid or housekeeper. It really is a mages city, see… even for me.”
He shook his head and his frustration seemed to well over and into her because she sounded angry when she finished her story.
“I sold potions and elixirs. I studied and tested under the best alchemists in the world, and read even more of their books and texts because I could. In the city of mages there is no knowledge that cannot be had.” She smiled and it was a sad, haunted smile. “Mostly I sat up reading mama’s old tomes and telling myself her stories out loud because there were many nights when there was no one to tell me their own stories. And I knew I was a gifted fighter, had known for a long time that none of the boys, even the hardest ones, could best me in wrestling or swordplay. And I made up my mind to come here and see if I could be accepted.”
“So you wouldn’t have to be alone anymore?”
“I guess?” She shrugged. “The word is right out there on the doorway.” She gestured over her shoulder to the academy down the road. “Brotherhood.”
He nodded, understanding more than she’d said. “And Myrrdinn?”
“I said, a dalliance? He told amazing stories and stayed away from the others. He was alone and seemed as afraid of being alone as I was, and so for months we told stories and read the ancient tomes left behind by mama. How is this for funny, Colin, I didn’t even know that he was a mage for a few weeks. He was just another sad lonely person in a city of distracted and busy bustling mages. When I figured it out I never said and he never offered. And one night he kissed me and I welcomed it. So much that I think it frightened us both because he left without a word and I thought he’d gone forever.”
“Not from that beautiful mouth.” Colin teased and thought that he understood that on a level that she didn’t, as well. She was a child and until he’d kissed her Myrrdinn likely had not realized it.
“Ha.” She pushed him playfully and shrugged again. “He came back but kept me at arms distance, literally.” She worried her lower lip with her teeth. “Maybe he suspected I was too innocent for him, or just that I cared too much or for all the wrong reasons. And maybe he knew that it would be meaningless in the face of me preparing to leave and never look back on Dalaran. Anyway. The last night I think maybe he’d given things another thought, he kissed me like at first, and then suddenly pulled away again. I gave him the only gift I had to give in the form of the most powerful and difficult potions I could make for him and I told him that when we were equals we’d meet again and see if the world still thought he was the dark to my light and that I could be the dark to his.”
Colin nodded. “It’s an amazing way to leave a man, Syn. I have to tell you.” He groaned when she glanced over her shoulder and saw that the sun was turning the sky a vibrant lavender and leapt from the bed in a second, flying around to gather her clothes. “You still listening, woman?”
“Of course.” She shuddered at the cold metal on her flesh as she quickly and expertly donned her gear.
“You told him that he was unequal to you.”
“No.” She leaned to kiss Colin and stopped when he captured her arm. “That wasn’t what I meant.”
“And it’s what he understood you to mean, so it’s what you said.” He smiled as she frowned down at him. “Someday you’ll be old enough to understand that the ego of a man is powerful and easily bruised.”
“Then know this, Colin.” She planted her hands on his chest and pressed him forcibly into the mattress. “I don’t want to discuss Myrrdinn with you anymore. I don’t want to discuss my pains and traumas anymore with you. I’m frightened of losing you by loving you too much. Let it be enough that being frightened means I already do.”
“I understand that now.” He meant it when he said it. “And you need to know something from my heart to yours, Syndalee. You were alone and now you’re a part of this family and we are world without end the only family you will ever need again.”
She nodded and smiled. “If I can get away unseen in the half light, perhaps you can actually tell me that in front of witnesses, Colin. And tonight we can be away from this place for a few days.”
He watched her go and knew now how she’d been sneaking away from his bed for two years. He rose to the window and watched the alley across the way and sure enough a few seconds after she’d closed his door she appeared, panting, with her back pressed to the wall of the alley. An alchemist! Amazing little warrior he’d found he couldn’t live without.
And as she casually exited the alley towards her barracks he realized her sword was still against the wall in his own room. He frowned and worked out in his mind how in the world he would ever cover such an obviously inappropriate breach. Why would she have been here?
*
“I asked you just to take it to her.” He growled. “I asked her to let me have it repaired after last night and if she finds out I took it without her knowing she’ll be furious and might report me.”
The guard looked at his commander and then nodded slowly. “You think Sweets wont have my head for this?”
“She doesn’t have to know it was you if you’re worth the years I spent training you.” Colin watched the man shrug into his responsibility and square his shoulders, taking the gleaming and freshly repaired sword. “It’s a really lovely piece, isn’t it?”
“It really is. I can’t believe she doesn’t sleep with it.”
For all Colin knew Syn did sleep with it and was fretting in her room already.
*
Syn heard her door swing open and held her breath. She heard it click shut again and rolled over, exhaling powerfully when she saw that, against the wall less than an arm’s reach from the door, stood her sword gleaming as if it had just been cleaned.
“I love you Colin.” She whispered into the early morning light and collapsed back on her bed to gain some extra sleep, a prize for the fight of the night before. Her graduation had been postponed to evening and strict orders had been given to let her sleep as late as she chose.
*
Myrrdinn lay in the infirmary with his body on fire from the many treatments they’d given him. Tonight Syn graduated from the academy and he had seen the look between his friend and the beautiful girl who’d stolen his heart so many years before.
He’d go to the graduation and then he was taking a post in Northrend for awhile. It was time to be away from the place that he’d imagined would belong to himself and the fiery little warrior he loved and had instead become a world of high gray walls that confined him and prevented him from ever being able to express himself to the girl even once.
Somewhere in the future would lay the answer to whether he could ever be with her again. Today was her day and he would not lessen it by being weak or emotionally straining for her.
*
Syn rose a few hours later and ached from head to toe. Unaccustomed to such strenuous fighting, every muscle told her what it was used for and just how much she should have been working out instead of sitting cross-legged in the mages quarter reading books and talking late into the nights with her friends.
She frowned as she drew her bath and the heavy buckets made her back ache, and one of the other recruits ran to help her which both brought a smile to her lips and frustrated her to seem weak on this one most important of the days in her life as a warrior. She’d already secured lodgings across town, next to the mages’ bar. In an hour one of her friends would come and help her move them across before the ceremony.
Colin had tendered his resignation as a live-in instructor and his replacement would arrive later in the afternoon. His things were already in a different apartment of the same tower. It had taken serious promisings on both of their parts that they would respect the unusual happenings in the Mage’s quarter. Syn had been able to supply many references to her ability to live tolerantly and comfortably with Mages of any level and practice, and had sworn for her instructor. The landlord had even required a waiver of responsibility in the event that any unforeseen effect or side effect from a spell was irreversible.
She sank into the warm water and cleansed herself from head to toe, taking care to specially cleanse her long beautiful locks. Colin had said a number of times that he wouldn’t mind if she cut it like she talked about and she’d been shy about doing it until last night when she’d had to keep cramming her helm down on her head because the ball of her hair was just too unruly to manage in combat.
Suddenly she was decided. Syn rose from the water and toweled quickly and donned a simple pair of linen trousers and leather walking boots and a lovely green and gold piped linen blouse that had been a gift from some far away place that Grug had brought her last month when he’d come to visit.
GRUG!
She laughed like a child and clapped her hands in front of her like the little girl who had first met the mighty Draenei mage. He would likely already be in town, though he liked to arrive just on time to make her crazy in anticipation. A new haircut would thrill him. He loved the modern styles so much.
And she was gone and away as if she had demons on her heels. Across the bridge and around the town into the little barber shop where she lingered quietly for a moment while the goblin hairdresser finished up with a lovely mage girl’s hair. Second thoughts entered her mind only when the girl asked for the third time for Syn to come farther into the light so that the Goblin could see precisely the color she wanted her hair to be.
“What color did you choose for yours?” She asked, wide eyed in excitement that Syn might be able to tell her the name of a dye that could duplicate the color of her hair.
“Oh, I don’t… I… it’s not colored. I can’t help you there.” Syn turned as the girl moaned miserably and was about to step outside when another goblin appeared and asked if she could be of assistance.
In a low voice, fearful that the mage would express some other frustrated alienation by the warrior, she said, “I need to cut my hair back some, so that when I put my helm on it’s not all bunched…” And untied her wet hair so that it spilled all the way down her back and the goblin exclaimed excitedly.
“You have so much lovely hair, girl… may I ask has anyone ever asked you to…”
“I can’t let you sell it.” She frowned and glanced down at her hands. “I… I’ll take it when you’re done cutting it, if you don’t mind.”
The goblin sighed unhappily and shrugged. “That’s a superstition, you know.”
“No, it isn’t.” Syn smiled. “Just so you know.” She sat and took a brush from the goblin’s hand. “Let me help.” She was quickly through the long thick locks and without thinking she drew up the sheers and cut just above her fist, lobbing off easily half a yard of hair. “There you go. Now, remember that I’m graduating from warrior school and just saved this shop last night from an attack of Horde right on your door way. I’m letting you choose something that looks girly down and can still be pulled back and away for fighting. Don’t play any pranks.”
The goblin actually laughed a sincere laugh and laid a hand on the beautiful girl’s shoulder. “Trust me. I know just the look for a clever girl like you.”
And in only a few minutes Syn studied her face in the mirror and was amazed. Heavy waves of hair fell around her face but were just above her shoulders so that she could quickly tie the front back into a half boars tail or she could leave it down and it graced her face and felt so light she was amazed.
“So you’re not gonna skin me?”
“I wouldn’t have anyway.” Syn laid a gold coin in the Goblin’s hand and smiled at him warmly. “Just so you know.”
And he did the most amazing thing. He cleaned the floor with his broom and bagged up her hair and then leaned close so that she could lean and speak to him directly. “I knew you were going to be beautiful, Syndalee. And it will all be perfect tonight. You’ll see.”
“How do I…?”
He winked and pointed, and there on the wall was a picture of her beloved mama Frenzy. “Lets just say that not all of her friends were taller than she was.”
Syn hugged the stranger and kissed his cheek. “Thank you for your well wishes. I have to run. I still have other things to gather.”
And she was off and away, off to the mages quarter where she embraced a surprised and cheerful friend who jealously laid hands all over her hair. “Oh, Syn, it really does suit you.”
“Thank you.” She beamed under the praise. “I owe you tremendous lots of cash, Alanna. May I sneak a peek or do I have to wait for later?”
Her friend was bursting with pride to show the warrior her magnificent work and so dragged her to the back of the shop and opened the heavy wooden door where Syn’s new dress hung. As a mage armorer, Alanna had some knowledge of building reinforced garments and had still needed the assistance of a leather worker and of a blacksmith to properly outfit the warrior’s gown to specified uses and still keep it beautiful.
“Alanna.” Syn gasped and nearly sat right down on the floor. The beautiful deep green and lighter green fabrics blended so perfectly with the dyed leather and soft satins so that the eye was easily fooled by the flounces and cut of the dress into believing that it was only a dress. When she stepped forward and rapped her knuckles against the bodice a beaming smile burst from her and she embraced her friend. “I’ll never be able to pay you what this was really worth. Never.”
“You already have a thousand times.” The other girl laughed and turned to her friend. “I do have parts for the other three, so that you have different styles and colors to wear when it suits you to be a girl and still also fight.”
“I spent too many years living with mages.” The warrior frowned. “I dressed like them, talked like them, walked like them. I just couldn’t be one of them. Even now I’m moving into the mages quarter and taking up residence here so that Stormwind can really become my new home.”
Alanna kissed her friend’s cheek and the girls swung around in a circle. “I love that you’re coming over here to live with us now, Syn. Then you don’t have to cross the center of town after we stay up late nights. I feel terrible making my best friend go alone, even if she is more handy with a sword than most of Stormwind’s finest.”
“Will you be staying here, then, Syndalee?” That familiar voice from behind her gave Syn a start and an electric jolt at once. She turned and nodded to Myrrdinn.
“I’m not going anywhere. This is the place where most of my dearest friends live. You know I do count you in them, Myrr. Always have.”
He nodded and stepped into the lovely little shop where his armor was most often repaired. “I know that, Syn.” He touched her cheek, lifting her lovely hair on his fingertips with a shy smile. “I love what you’ve done with your hair. It’s really flattering, even if I would never have suggested it.”
Syn shook the bag of hair in her hand and remembered the time. “Alanna, do you want me to take this with me now or are you still planning on bringing it to the barracks for me?”
“All those lovely virile and single men? How on all of Azeroth could you think I’d MISS it? I’ll be there, love. Trust me.”
“I’ll escort Miss Alanna. She’s got some of my own armor here.”
“You’re too astute.” Syn heard Alanna tease the mage and smiled to herself thinking she’d heard that flirtatious tone before and some portion of her belly very low tightened in a way that disconcerted her even as she nearly skipped down the road to her next stop.
*
Syndalee stepped from the small entryway into her sleeping quarters in the narrow apartment she’d gotten for herself and shivered in self-consciousness that was uncharacteristic for her. She turned and studied herself in the tall window that was a perfect reflective surface and her worry eased.
Her new short locks were tucked behind her ear and held securely by a tiny pin adorned with a single blossom made from a gem that resembled Arthas’ Tears on a tiny leaf that Syn knew to be from a different plant and didn’t care. Long earrings in silver and tiny seed emeralds sparkled and shimmered from her earlobes and the plunging deep green neckline showed just enough of her lovely small breasts and porcelain skin that she ran her fingers over the exposed flesh admiringly.
The gown flowed to the floor, caressing every curve and lingering precisely where it should, Alanna the mage and tailor was a gifted sorceress in both rights and Syn still believed perhaps the woman’s true calling was in dressing the world for every occasion and event.
The dress itself was less fancy and perfect than many who would attend this evening’s festivities would be wearing, Syndalee knew, and she didn’t care. Inside of herself she’d loved this design from the moment she’d seen it sketched on her young friend’s drawing board because it resembled the dresses she’d worn in Dalaran, almost a robe and still not quite and definitely more elaborate and fine than the ones worn by the staff in each home.
The long sleek sleeves and fitted bodice dipped and clung down to her wrists and over her curves at her hips before flowing out and away in a delicate waterfall of deep green movement enhanced by the palest green piping and beads so that her hips and legs shimmered with every step.
She lingered over her sword for a moment and then laughed at herself. Even a newly graduated warrior did not have to carry her blade in every moment, she chided herself and gathered the little dagger and her thrown stars instead, securing them in the fold of her gown and in the garter that Alanna had crafted for them. She picked up her pouch and counted the monies inside before tying it closed again and tucking the top over the ties at the wrist of her gown so that she felt prepared and also suddenly shy again.
A knock at her door turned her in readiness and she laughed aloud as she called, “It’s open.”
Myrrdinn hesitated outside for a moment, stealing himself before he opened the narrow tall door and had his breath sucked from him by the sight of her there, so tense that he could feel it and see it. Syn was so beautiful that it took him long moments to resecure his mind and remember what he’d actually come for.
“Wow.” He said at last. “Holy jeeves, Syndalee.!.”
Gone forever was the little girl he’d mistaken for a woman. Now here before him stood a capable and lovely woman whose features had chiseled and refined to draw ones eyes up to her round vivid green eyes and the fiery soul inside them. The man in him roared to life and he nearly stepped and took her into his arms to lay claim to her before any other eye could wander over the dip between her breasts or cling to the curve of her lovely long waist. He remembered himself and still believed she may have felt the feral flash through him because she’d stepped forward, lips parted and then stopped short.
“Thank you.” Syn felt the shift in him and knew the response in her belly had forgotten Colin and she drew herself back purposefully. “I wanted tonight to be lovely.”
The mage who was so confident that others came to him for advise with the fairer sexes all the time, the man who could woo any girl off her feet was suddenly shy and fumbling and it took him a moment to draw the little velveteen pouch from his pocket. “It will be perfect. I… I brought you this.”
Syn stepped to him and her eyes were full of tears when she took the bag from him. “Thank you, Myrr.”
“Well open it. You may not thank me once you’ve seen it.”
And the girl who was graceful and capable of giving even large gifts felt her fingers fumbling the delicate ribbon that closed the pouch so that she gave a breathless exasperated gasp and sat herself on the edge of her only settee in a near huff that brought a smile to Myrrdinn’s lips. She was still and would always be Syndalee, he thought. That woman she’d become was just a veneer over the sweetness that would always be there.
As she opened the pouch and turned it carefully over her empty palm she cried out at the amazing emerald and silver necklace that suddenly filled her palm. Many long delicate strands of silver were adorned by hundreds of tiny crafted emeralds so that the whole thing sparkled with emerald raindrops. It had to have been crafted by the same Draenei who had gifted her with the earrings, she thought with a wry smile curving her lips as she looked up.
“This is so beautiful, Myrrdinn. I…”
“I see that Grugworg couldn’t restrain from giving you the earrings. I found the emeralds in a pouch on a table in an abandoned ship in Outlands a couple years ago.” He stepped forward so that the heavy brocade of his robes rustled on the carpet and she blinked once very long to keep herself from watching the way the cloth hugged his hips or defined his broad shoulders and chest. “A few months ago I asked him if he thought he could make a gift for you from them and this was what he designed. There’s another piece, for another day, beautiful Synadlee. For now I wanted you to know that I’m very proud of you, and embarrassed by my stupidity.”
He took the necklace from her fingers and she rose so that he could clasp it for her, closing her eyes again when his cool fingers grazed her neck sending lighting sparks through her whole body. She tilted her head to the side when he leaned and placed the tiniest kiss on her bare shoulder.
“You weren’t stupid, Myrrdinn. Never stupid.”
“You have your life with Colin and your future as a warrior, my sweet. Any time you want to accompany me, I will be a gentleman and I will never pressure you for a time when I was stupidly frightened and you were wiser and braver than I was. This necklace is my promise, Sweets, that no matter what I am here and will never be too far away for you to find me when you need me.”
Before she could turn or say anything the mage was gone from the room and she stood still and stunned, fingers still lingering over the incredibly beautiful necklace when Colin stepped into the apartment to fetch her down to her party.
And it was Syn’s turn to be breathless. He still wore some armor, but this lighter armor was made of crafted chainmail and leather, clinging closely to his body and shining slightly in the low light. He was so masculine in his highwaisted trousers and well fitted waistcoat that she growled in sudden desire for him that took him off guard.
Shoulder still burning in the place where the lips she hadn’t realized she missed so much had left a parting kiss and deep in her belly the lightning sparks ignited by Myrrdynn’s closeness burst into flames at the sight of her incredibly handsome lover in his vivid blue shirt and dark clothes.
Her kiss was so hard and demanding that Colin clung like a man being devoured for a moment and then laughed and pulled away. “I was going to say that I was knocked senseless by your dress, Syn, you look like a princess!” He drew her hard and close to him and laughed again when she closed around him in a wanton desire that was rapidly undoing him. “Gods, woman. Do you know what you do to me?”
“It’s nothing to what you do to me standing here looking like that, Colin. I’m undone and suddenly disinterested in the friends and family who are waiting at the inn for us.”
“I came to tell you that Grugworg says that if you’re not down there very soon he’s going to come up here and force you.”
She laughed out loud. “You’re not accustomed to mages.” Syn kissed him again more tenderly and moaned when his fingers caressed the necklace that sparkled in the light. “He says that but he’ll be distracted in a second by someone and wont realize if I’m there or not in an hour.”
He laughed and nodded. “Come, my lady. We’re away on an adventure tonight. The mages have a surprise for you. One that I think may change your living arrangements.”
“Never. I wont move anywhere that you’re not. We discussed this.”
“Well.” He kissed her cheek and she felt him smiling. “Both of us may find that we’d prefer this new arrangement.” He pulled back and their smiles met and she reached up and caressed the lines beside his eyes.
“Tell me, Colin, does it bother you now that I’m so young? Are you bothered by my newness to this life?”
“In my whole lifetime I’ve never known a woman like you, Syn.” Colin sought the words in his mind and she waited as she always did, eyes sparkling like the gems that shimmered from her ears and neck, a smile waiting there for him. “No, I’ll never be bothered by your youth, my love. Never.”
Her face blossomed into a broad easy smile and she curled into him more tightly. “Then wherever you are, I will be.”
They met Grugworg on the steps outside, good to his word and against her prediction, the mage was fed up with waiting and had come to find them. She graciously accepted his many praises and then allowed herself to be gathered into the mightily large Draenei’s embrace like a child, lifted from her feet with a giggle and a purr against his cheek when he whispered for her that she was the loveliest gift he’d ever been given.
*
For years the warriors went as a pair into any battle, and there were very many in their war torn world. So many that at times Syn feared there would never be peace and when she fretted it to her many friends they would agree and talk for hours.
Colin grew accustomed to her lifestyle and found himself swallowed in the excitement of hours sitting in their lavishly decorated stuffy little parlor in apartments kept not in Stormwind as they’d first planned but in the sundered and nearly ruined city of Shatrath, surrounded by robed mages and full of amazing and intoxicating beverages and stories that lasted until dawn. It was an easy and beautiful life punctuated by the gore and violence of fighting side by side with the same delicate woman turned furious warrior.
And then the scourge plague could not be ignored and they were summoned by their King and his commanders to travel to the shores of Northrend where the scourge had been always breeding under the Lich King’s dark command and where life was cold and hard and bitter every day, and still their lives maintained a strange balance of loving and living and fighting and voluptuous long nights in warm rooms with brilliant friends and stories that thrilled and terrified.
And it seemed to Colin that life was perfect in this union of beautiful domesticality and fierce fighting and he was pleased that Syn seemed to have forgotten in the past few months that she was afraid to love him too much because it would mean that she would lose him. And life was what it was and he was contented and joyous in it.
... more Ice to come...