01 April 2011

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.
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...

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