The Draconic Gardener

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"Yer individual of int'rest has been... put down."

"Are you certain of it?"

"Nobody left to raise him again."

"Are we certain of that?"

"I am."

A leather pouch dropped onto the table, a stray coin rattled against the wood. The informant grinned and ordered another drink inside Dalaran's Cantrips and Crows.

Jexagos was already treading cautiously through Dalaran's drain pipe. Stray magic flowed in these sewers and it was volatile on a good day; catastrophic on any other day. Most days were classified as 'other' in the floating city at the top of the world. He'd had his fill of rogue magic.

The elvish figure reached the edge of the pipe and leapt, arms spread wide just beginning to foster a smile. It was a showy maneuver, but he had to get his fun somewhere.

A blue dragon plunged toward the Crystalsong Forest floor before swooping up on an invisible thermal. It banked toward Icecrown, casually flapping its impossible wings.

It was time that his ward heard the news.

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Frost Lotus blooms year-round, but each plant keeps its own schedule. It's a miracle they manage to reproduce at all. That also explains their scarcity. Langara Bloodwither crouched in front of the delicate plant, poised to clip the precious blossom without harming the other foliage.

A gust of wind preceded a surprisingly light landing as Jexagos set down behind Langara. She managed to clip the bloom just before the breeze pulled it away from her shears.

"I could have killed the whole plant." She addressed the dragon, irritated as usual. Ever since she'd died, everything irritated her more, not less. Being forced a certain logical outlook. Avoid irritation by getting things right. And avoiding people. Jexagos was no longer counted using the collective nouns for people. He sat comfortably in another category.

"But you didn't." In a tempest of magic, the dragon shifted back to the elvish shape Langara had come to know. Knowing would have been a loose term, as Jexagos was thousands of years older and, though she was loathe to admit it, wiser. He adjusted his blue eye patch, scrutinizing her with his monocular gaze.

"You're here now, you must have something to say: so say it." Bloodwither scowled at him over her bag of harvested herbs.

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Three months ago:

"I didn't join your ranks to babysit a defective officer."

"Really? that's interesting."

"What is?"

"Were I in your position, I would be thrilled to even have the opportunity."


"Your life was forfeit when you 'joined our ranks'. Living to babysit a defective officer, as you put it, is a much better alternative. Or perhaps you disagree?"

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She was too rough with the Lichbloom, and the plant was obviously bruised. "How long have we been going over this? I'm past that, Keleseth is a footnote, nothing more. I don't see why you're telling me."

"Because you're going home." Jexagos took up her bag of garden tools and started walking toward the cabin. For the past few months, this makeshift safe-house had become something of a home to both of them. "The garden's strong enough to keep growing on its own, and it's time you got back to the rest of the world." He perked an ear as she dropped her shears on a table.

"Also, Bloodwither, your mail is piling up."

She scowled, and thus, something in the world was right again.

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Three months ago:

Langara kicked at her Deathcharger's flanks. She had to go faster! If she could get to the Citadel before the Pale Heart's assault team–then she'd have a chance. A blue flame of revenge fueled her exodus from Crystalsong.

Her undead steed tore through the frozen countryside, any living mount would have given up its ghost in the blizzard. A winged shadow slid across the terrain ahead. She didn't care. It skimmed past again, larger. It didn't matter; she was riding on and the storm was playing tricks. There were dragons in the area and they rarely landed to concern themselves with mortals. It didn't occur to her to consider the dragon that worked for Chum, nor where his interests laid.

The deathcharger suddenly tumbled into a bank of snow in a riot of cold-flame hooves. Its rider was already ascending and throwing a riot of her own. She twisted and railed against the dragon's talons, her axe uselessly pinned against her back.

Langara's anguished cries pealed out above the gale. Jexagos merely glided on, scales shielding him from her aggression. He was aware that the once-Scourge would never tire. He'd have to disable her if he was going to interrupt the tirade. Gravity ought to do when they got to Grizzly Hills.

About halfway through the flight, Jexagos had succeeded in tuning out the screaming. Your life was forfeit. That wasn't my idea, oh fearless leader. Doesn't matter now, he's right. Serving a mortal guild is better than being put to death merely by procedure. He jostled the death knight in his grip. She had been making up curses at this point, and getting pretty creative too. Something about a frosthorn ram and his mother... and a soulwell?

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Three months ago:

"These flowers are innocent—though they serve no purpose beyond their looks, someone cared enough to bring them into this world. And now, that someone is gone...

They will die here if they are not tended to, and no magic can bring them back as they were before. Only watchful eyes, steady hands, and a good heart can save them, Bloodwither. They need you. "

He gestured toward a tidy pile of gardening tools and smiled. The expression came partially from kindness, but mostly out of amusement. He didn't know a death knight could manage to look that confused.

"You kidnapped me to tend a garden?" Langara found herself addressing Jexagos' back.

"That's right." He walked onward toward the cabin.

"You're not serious!"

"I'd start by weeding if I were you. Pruning counts too." The front door closed the conversation for him. Langara tugged on the collar that bound her this patch of Grizzly Hills, it didn't give. It never loosened.

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Two months ago:

Backhanding a dragon, even in humanoid form, cannot be discouraged enough. Langara clearly hadn't read this part of the Azeroth and You: How Not to Die in Fire booklet. She glared at Jexagos with scorn, and raised a fist for another blow.

He grabbed the incoming mitt and started to crush it in his talon-grip. Elvish form or no, he was still a dragon. Why did the lesser races forget this given the slightest provocation? He didn't intend to break anything, just come close enough to underline the point.

"Stop being a coward and grow up." Jexagos had finally had enough.

"What the hell are you talking about?! I'm trying to face him and—"

"No, you're too scared to actually try living instead sitting on the laurels of your revenge."

"I'm dead!" The words flew at him, half contempt, half condescension and entirely caked with malice.

"You're as alive as anything else that can turn its face up to see the sun. And there's only one purpose that you're expected to fulfill with that life. That's not over just because someone you hate is on the pointy end of justice."

Langara jerked her hand away as he loosened his grip. She snarled at him before stomping out of the cabin, radiating bitterness. At least she wasn't going to try for melee any longer.

"Two steps forward... one tantrum back." Jexagos scoffed as the door slammed.

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One Month Ago

There was rapping at the door. This would be considered a normal occurrence, except that this particular door was covering the entrance to a cabin that currently served as Jexagos' Home for Troubled Death Knights. Right now, there was only one death knight, and she didn't knock. There was no reason to knock. Langara hadn't spoken a word to him for nearly a month, via coded-knocking or otherwise. She wouldn't even come inside the cabin for the first two weeks of the silent treatment. At one point, her hand had frozen solid and she couldn't put down her gardening shears. It was a miracle that Jexagos didn't laugh.

Jexagos cautiously opened the door, half expecting some sort of violent deception on the other side. Instead, Langara stood in the doorway holding a diseased tiger lily. "I think it's sick."

Dirt scattered from its bulb as she placed the mottled plant on the desk.

Upon inspection, it appeared that some sort of blight had begun to take hold of the lily's leaves. There was still hope for the flower, but it needed help.

Then the world turned on its ear, the planet split wide open and poured forth magma from every crack while the magnetic poles swapped places and tore the sky asunder. That should have come well before what actually happened next, anyway.

Langara Bloodwither, former Persuasion Specialist, Knight of the Ebon Blade, Sworn to the Pale Heart and damn-stubborn-death-knight, was about to apologize. "I shouldn't have hit you. I wasn't thinking clearly–I'm sorry." Wonder of wonders, she also asked nicely. "Could you see to the lily while I finish weeding?"

Jexagos actually managed to suppress a grin long enough to nod and watch her head back to the garden.

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