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The Beginning of the End

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One year ago

The get-together at the World's End tavern had been nice. Fhenrir and Xara had gotten to see a lot of old friends, including Vilmah, Nojinbu, Abric, Ariavan, Cerryan, and more. Xara chuckled, thinking again of the baffled look on Vilmah's face when Xara had told her she and Fhen were retired. The orc clearly couldn't conceive of it. And maybe Xara should have felt guilty that others were still fighting the good fight, but she didn't.

The quiet life suited Xara just fine. She liked the idyllic days, the worrying about nothing more than hunting or gathering for their meals, or occasionally getting together with friends or family to socialize. She'd done her part, saving the world a few times, from Illidan to Accalia to Arthas to Ragnaros. She'd led her crew, been there for her friends, seen them off to their own adventures. And, in the end, she didn't owe anything to anyone. Her life was her own to live as she saw fit. So no, she didn't feel guilty. She felt... happy.

Fhenrir had gone off to talk with some other Horde veterans. Xara cast a glance at him. He had seemed to accept retirement, but a part of her knew to be worried if he started talking to current active duty folks. There was trouble in the Horde, and the Horde was something Fhen cared deeply about. But his life was his own too, so she let him, deciding to go wander along the uneven paths of Lower City for awhile.

She was reminiscing, a little, when something brought her attention back to the present. It was narrowly in time to avoid bumping into a hooded figure that was walking by, head lowered. It wasn't the threat of a casual brush that made Xara take notice, however. It was something else. Cyelaena had stopped short, and was staring right at the stranger with an intensity that Xara had not seen from the ghost wolf in a very, very long time.

"Eh?" Xara said. She put out a hand to stop the figure. "You okay, there?"

The stranger lifted her head, revealing blue eyes in a dusky-skinned face, with strands of golden blonde hair tucked behind long ears. It turned out she wasn't a complete stranger at all.

"Oh," Xara said in surprise, "you're..."

"Vionora," the elf said. It wasn't the name Xara was expecting. "Now."

"Oh," Xara said. She had known the Quel'dorei as Tassha; not that she had ever known her well. The only time Xara had ever seen her was the battle against Sinaku, and Tassha – or Vionora, if that was what she preferred now – had spent most of that time as a worgen.

But Elek had told her... other things.

Vionora studied Xara in return. Her shoulders were low, slumped, but her gaze was steady. There was no fear in her, but something was missing in her eyes that should have been there. Cyelaena remained intently staring, and the elf looked down at the ghost wolf after a moment.

"Elune's creature," she said. "I remember."

"She's a good pet," Xara said, a little lamely, then, "How have ya been?" How exactly did one make conversation with a former foe, about whom you knew far too much?

Vionora looked back at her. "Alive," she said presently, only after a pause in which she seemed to debate the merit of the question.

Xara felt more and more awkward. "Er, whatcha doin' in Shattrath?" she asked. Vionora certainly hadn't attended the get-together at the tavern.

"I work in the free clinic," Vionora said. She gestured behind her, to the building she had come out of.

"Oh, Elek said ya had taken up the Light," Xara remembered.

"I've tried."

Xara guessed the girl probably wasn't enjoying this conversation either. She wasn't easy to read, with those empty eyes, but there certainly wasn't any sign of enthusiasm. "Well," Xara said, "that's good. I hope things have improved for you, girly." She paused. "Ya should try ta be happy."

Vionora's head tilted slightly. She did not openly mock or sneer, but said, "My happiness doesn't matter. I gave up the right to that long ago."

This was way over Xara's ability to help with. Besides, she was retired now. She wasn't here to save anyone. "I don't think that's true," she said, slowly shaking her head, "but that's somethin' you'll have ta learn fer yerself. I just hope ya do."

Vionora did not respond, only looked at her, so after a few more moments of silence, Xara continued on her way. Cyelaena remained for awhile longer, looking at Vionora, then trotted after. Circling around, Xara returned to the tavern, and to Fhenrir; and the two went back home to the Barrens.

Six months later, Fhenrir returned to the Horde, and Xara followed.

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