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Kurohane

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((In preperation for our move last weekend, I had been playing up that Kuro was coming down sick. However, as we still don't have internet up at the new place, I got bored and decided to play it up even more this weekend, in the form of writing. I'll be posting more and more of this from work until we get internet up at home and I can finally get back on WoW.))

She had never experienced illness before, never knew what it was to be so physically weak. Hot, then cold. Starving, yet nauseous. Restless, but no energy. Dreams and reality blurring.

A hand gently brushed a lock of hair back and smoothed it down affectionately. Her eyes fluttered open as that hand moved to lovingly trace the mark on her check with a fingertip.

“How do you feel?” Alucian whispered, face creased with worry. “Any better?” She shook her head slightly as he sighed, continuing to stroke her hair. “Do you think you can eat?” Again, she shook her head, bringing an almost fearful frown to the druid’s face.

“How…” She paused to swallow against a throat turned to sandpaper. “How’s Iza..?”

The question brought a small smile back to his lips and he passed his hand over her eyes as he spoke. “She is well – we all are. You need your rest, Kurohane. Go back to sleep.”

Her heavy lids slid shut of their own accord as his lips tenderly brushed her forehead.

“Hey Thornbush!”

Kurohane spun on her heal, white gauze-like dress swirling around her ankles as her long purple hair danced down her back. A wide grin lit her carefree eyes.

“Hey Pigtails,” she laughed as her father’s apprentice to the blade made his way across the flowering field to meet her. “Did you hear about the ball next week? I’m so excited but I don’t know what to wear – or who I should let escort me – or how to do my hair – or—“

Aurahn’s laugh cut her off, drawing forth a particularly cute pout that only served to redouble his laughter. “Girls! Do you ever think of anything other than fashion, socials and pranks?”

“You know I do,” she snapped, playfully reaching out to slap the warrior’s arm. Laughing once more, he darted out of the way – only to stare in confusion as she gasped and pushed him aside.

“What are…”

He trailed off under her pointed glare as she kneeled down and cupped something in her hands. Slowly, she stood and held out her hands to reveal the rescued butterfly.

“…It’s just a bug, Kuro,” the bladesman sighed at the girl.

“All life is precious,” she answered, watching as the insect took to its wings and rode the breeze. “Hasn’t father taught you anything?”

The quiet murmur of voices outside drew the huntress briefly back from the past. Two men speaking in… yes, Darnassian. Two voices so familiar to her these days.

“…watch over her,” Galidon was stating. “You have other things you must attend to.”

Alucian sighed in reply, his voice edged with weariness. “Try to get her to eat something, if you can.”

The door creaked open, the light silhouetting the hunter and druid as the hunter gave a simple “Of course.” Kurohane was lost in fevered dreams of the past once more before Galidon had even settled into his chair.

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“FATHER!”

Blood stained her tattered dress as she danced in nigh panic through the rows of injured elves and humans.

“MOTHER!”

The smoke from Mount Hyjal wafted around the forms, the groans and sobs of the injured and mourning nearly drowning out her desperate cries.

“Over here, Kurohane,” a man called.

The smoke cleared to reveal a human paladin kneeling beside an elven form that was almost completely covered in bandages.

“Rodric?” she answered, making her way to him. “Have you seen my-“ Her question cut off with a strangled gasp as what was left of the night elf’s face came into view. “Father! No, no, what- no!”

“Calm down, girl,” the paladin sighed as he stood. “He’s hurt badly, but he’ll live.” He paused, glancing back down at the warrior. “If he wishes to.”

She fell to her knees, tears streaming down her cheeks, “…and Mother..?”

“…I’m sorry, Kurohane.”

“She’s crying…what did she say, Xelthan?” Izanami whispered as she laid a cool, damp cloth across Kurohane’s forehead.

“’Father’,” the rogue answered just as quietly, leaning against the far wall. “The bosslady must be dreaming of the past… Think we should wake her?”

“Not yet. Let her sleep a bit longer,” the priestess answered as she stood. “Her dreams seem calmer now. I’ll go get her some food.”

She flinched as her father’s cane soundly wrapped against her wrists, nearly making her dropping the wooden practice blade.

“Your grip is all wrong,” he intoned gravely. “Lower your left hand, turn your right more towards the top of the grip.”

The scarring across his face and body, the twisting of his leg that made it impossible for him to walk without a cane, had done nothing to tone down his demeanor. He had refused a healer, once he had come to – none would take the place of his beloved wife. Kurohane still was unclear how she had died, but something of that would not allow him to accept help from any priest or druid.

Frowning, she readjusted her hands on the hilt of the blade and began flowing through the stances he had taught her once again. She had no true love of the blade, but it seemed that teaching her to defend herself had given her father a new purpose in life. The girl had already found her true passion in battle – the beasts of the wild and the bow. The blades were merely a necessity, as she saw it.

“Blade tip up, feet closer together,” he barked once more and watched with solemn approval as she followed his direction.

He had made as much of a recovery as he could, without further aid of healers, but his health had started to decline again over the past few weeks. He never smiled anymore, never laughed. It was as if the death of Kurohane’s mother had drained the will to go on from him. She moved with precision, praying that her improving skill with the blades he had once loved would bring him some joy, some will to go on.

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((Oh my, Alucian's such a sweet, loving guy~~~~ :D :D :D

...oh wait, that's me! :o

Great job, Kuro. I'm glad I didn't post anything about Alu's adventures in Darkshore. He wouldn't want to stray too far while his love is so sick.))

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“I simply prefer the bow to the blade,” Kurohane sighed, putting the practice sword down beside her father’s bed.

His scarred skin was paler than ever, almost ashen and colorless. His once bright eyes seemed faded and dull, hardly glowing at all these days. It had been a week since he had been able to rise from bed on his own and a couple of days since he’d been able to stay out of bed for more than half an hour.

“Then you might find a better calling as a Huntress,” he answered – and laughed.

It was the first time she had heard him laugh since her mother fell at Hyjal, and she blinked at him in surprise. For a fleeting moment, a warmth flashed in his smile, more life than she had seen in him within the past months.

“Oh yeah, that’d be great,” Aurahn chimed in from his seat across the open, airy room. “Then she can pelt me from a distance – I’ll never have an escape!”

The young warrior had taken on the roll of a brother to her more and more over the past month, helping her take care of her father in his failing health. Grinning, she picked up a loose pillow and tossed it at him, nailing him squarely in the head. Her father chuckled again, smiling upon the two.

“Kurohane, wake up…”

“What? I am awake, silly,” she laughed at Aurahn, dodging his attempt to throw the pillow back at her.

“Kurohane…” the voice seemed distant, sounded as if it were coming through a funnel.

“Wake up, my love,” it came again and the world seemed to shift.

Slowly her eyes opened to meet Alucian’s gaze as he gently shook her shoulder. “Nnn… What…”

“You must eat,” he replied, brushing her hair back from her face.

Muttering unintelligibly, she found herself sitting up moments later with the help of her beloved druid. Her deliriously fevered state did not lend well to much conversation as he watched her slowly and grudgingly eat the vegetable soup he had brought her. She was only vaguely aware of the other person entering the room.

“You look like terrible, Ogema,” Conidivh intoned calmly as he glanced around the small room.

She grimaced at the comment and the soup in turn, feeling her stomach begin to churn once more, and handed the bowl back to Alucian. He winced, putting the bowl and spoon aside. “Her fever refuses to break,” he answered, “It only seems to ebb every once in a while. This is the first time your timing has been bad, Conidivh.”

”Perhaps, perhaps,” the rogue answered, moving to look out the window. “I had a bit of news I thought our dear huntress might be interested in, but it seems that will have to wait until she regains herself enough to hold conversations, let alone act upon what I bring.”

“If it is of import, perhaps I should know what it is now,” the night elf answered, helping Kurohane to lie back down before pulling the covers up to her chin.

The human waved it off casually, turning back towards the door. “Nothing for you to fret over, Alucian. I know you have enough on your plate as it stands. I’ll be seeing you both soon, I’m sure.”

The druid nodded even as the door clicked shut behind their informant. Kurohane had already closed her eyes, slipping back into troubled sleep. He sighed, tenderly stroking her hair, her cheek, wishing he knew more of what to do to ease her pain – both physical and, as her face contorted with the dream, emotionally.

The sun shown with mocking brightness upon the mound of freshly turned dirt. The air hung heavy around her, seemed to press against her chest, making it hard for her to breath.

She never would know why the thought of her being a Huntress had brought laughter from her father. She would never know how her mother had finally met her end, back on Hyjal. She would never again know the warmth and love of a true family as she had with her parents. Fighting back another sob, she placed the wreath of flowers upon the headstone, arranging it so that it did not cover the names.

Peimur and Dajya Mistviel

The body had never been recovered to make a grave for her mother, but Kurohane had known that their spirits would now be reunited. It seemed fitting that her mothers name be beside her fathers, in their final resting place.

She turned slowly, forcing her feet to move away from the small graveyard, forcing herself to move onward. She had never felt so alone, never known such pain.

“Where are you going now, Kuro?” Aurahn asked quietly, leaning against the tree she passed.

She paused, glancing at his tear-strained gaze. Oh, he wasn’t crying now of course. He had to be strong, support the silly little girl that could never hold herself together.

“Away.” She answered simply, squaring her shoulders and forcing a small smile. “I just… I need to be away from all of this, Pigtails. I just need a bit to heal, and then I’ll be right as rain again.”

“I could come with you,” he answered, shrugging absently. “I have nothing left here.”

“Take care of my family’s place for me, then,” she answered, shaking her head. “I need to be alone… I need to clear my head and find my own path. Besides, Rorey needs you right now.”

“Rorey..?” he answered, acting as if the name was nearly foreign to him. Shaking his head, he pushed himself off the tree to face the girl squarely. “Thornbush, you’ve never been one to deal with matters like this alone.”

Her smile this time was genuine, if rueful, “Funny… I’ve never dealt with this sort of matter at all before… Take care, Aurahn. We will meet again.”

Turning her back on his frown, she gathered up what few belongings she could not be without – a few pieces of rugged clothing, some provisions, her bow and a dagger, some meager funds – and disappeared into the woods.

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The sun was just on the verge of setting when the light rapping upon her bedroom door drew Kurohane from the thoughts of her dreams. She had found the room empty when she woke – a first since she had fallen ill. On one hand, she was grateful for the peace it allowed her after her troubling dreams. On the other hand, she longed for nothing more than to see Alucian walk through that door; for him to come in and hold her, chasing away the pain that had re-kindled from her dreams.

Again, the knock came and she suppressed a small sigh. If it was her love, he surely would have already entered.

“Enter,” she answered quietly, arranging the blankets around her waist as she adjusted herself to lean back against the headboard of the bed.

The door opened to admit an unexpected, but very welcome, face – another druid, as it were.

“You seem to be feeling better, after all that Galidon had told me,” Northface commented, his smile tingeing his voice with the warmth she had come to enjoy in the man. Pulling the door behind him, he left it half open before taking the oddly empty seat beside her bed.

“A bit,” she answered, doing her best to return his smile. “If my head would stop swimming, my stomach stop twisting, and my throat stop scratching.”

He chuckled quietly, pulling a vial from his bag. “This might be of some help in all of that. A little concoction a friend of mine claims has served his family well. How did he put it..?” Dropping his voice, he did his best imitation of a human accent, “My great-grandma gave it to my grandma, who passed it on to my mom, and since my mom didn’t have any girls, she passed it along to me. It’s been in the family as long as we can recall, and it’s a sure-fire way to kick any fever.”

She giggled at his poor imitation before a small fit of coughs cut her off. Once she had settled again, she took the ‘potion’ from him, eyeing it in the failing light. “It is appreciated… but are you sure it is safe?”

The sagely druid nodded, waving his hand for her to drink it, “I wouldn’t give it to you otherwise. I should warn you though-“ he added once she had already started downing the strange drink. It tasted of lemons and honey “-it allegedly puts the drinker to sleep quite quickly. After all, sleep is the best remedy for what ails you…”

If he said anymore, she was already too deeply asleep to take notice.

The sight of Shadowglen seemed odd, and yet welcoming at the same time. Much had changed since she had set out those few years back. Much had changed in the people she once knew, and much had changed in her as well. Her once long hair now hung neatly at her shoulders. Her gowns and dresses were now replaced with leather vests, breeches, boots and gloves. Her bow and dagger were her only accessories.

People streamed by at the heart of the small elven town – couriers carrying deliveries between Shadowglen and Dolanaar, merchants hawking their wares, and the defenders of her people going about their new training. Here and there amongst the inexperienced, she spotted a warrior in full plate, a druid prowling around in the form of a cheetah, a hunter with a vicious raptor at his side. Those few who had seen so many hard battles stood out easily from the rest in tattered and piece-mailed armor and robes. They were the tested, the honored.

She moved a bit closer to the hunter, eyeing his raptor – she only knew its name from books. This was the first she had seen of such a creature. The hunter seemed not to pay her any mind as she studied the beast, continuing on with the conversation.

“Aye,” he was telling the warrior in the shining plate, “The bleeding orc managed to slip past us. He was last spotted in Dolanaar, but we think he was headed this way. We’ve already got a sweep out to track him down.”

The warrior merely nodded, glancing towards Kurohane – her breath caught for a second, wondering what he could possibly want of her.

“He can’t hide forever,” the warrior finally answered, turning his gaze back to the more experienced hunter, “and if anyone can find him, it’s you and yours. Keep me updated, I’ll put out the word of caution.”

The hunter nodded, let forth a sharp whistle and an incredible nightsaber came bounding around the building in full armor. Kurohane gasped in spite of herself. The hunter paused to give her a wry grin before leaping on to the creature’s back. He paused once more, leaning down to whisper quietly to her.

“You be careful now, gorgeous,” she felt her cheeks flush at his commentary, “I hear they’re having troubles with the spiders in those caves again. That orc could be hiding anywhere… Let me know if you need a night in shining armor.”

Laughing, he winked once and then sped off out of sight. She stood for a long moment, red-faced, unable to move, until the warrior coughed to cover his chuckle. Feeling her face flush even brighter red, she hoisted her bow on her shoulder and sprinted off towards the man who was beckoning her to another assignment.

It was with a small shred of disappointment, not an hour later, that she heard the cry of “All Clear” raised. It was a rather strange feeling, she realized. Strange that she was disappointed she had not gotten a chance to defend her home lands as well. It was one thing to fight back an over abundance of certain wild life – it was something entirely different to defend against a true attack. She had heard of so many attacks such as that – it was what had finally drawn her out of her solitude.

She made her way deeper into the catacombs the spiders had claimed, her bow seeking out and ending one after another. A bright flash of light suddenly shot down behind her and she spun to see a spider she had missed crumple in upon itself not but inches from her back. When her vision cleared from the nigh blinding light, a young druid bowed stoically before her – and she felt her something in her chest catch. Not in the awe that she had felt for the hunter, but something about the long purple hair and goatee of the figure before struck her. Gracefully as she could, she bowed in return, with true gratitude.

“This place seems a bit over run – care to work together?” she inquired, tilting her head to the side. The druid glanced over her shoulder to the spider-infested path that lay before them before nodding. She smiled faintly. “The name’s Kurohane – and you are?”

“Alucian,” he answered simply, quietly, hefting his staff as he moved towards their mutual target.

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He had never spoke much around others, but as they had began to spend more and more time around one another, Kurohane often found herself sitting alone with Alucian. Sometimes they would talk, sometimes they would simply enjoy one another’s presence. Always, when others were around, the druid would fall silent once more – but when it was just the two of them, he would finally relax, and let down some of his guard. She did not ask what he guarded against, what held his tongue around others. He would tell her when he wished. However, what she had begun to see in him when they were alone – the purity of his heart, his wisdom and intelligence, his kindness – made him the clear choice for her second when she finally formed her guild.

Swordwaltzers. It was a jest she had often used on her father and Aurahn – she told them they looked more like waltzers at a ball then swordsmen when they practiced their forms. It was an homage to her heritage, to the ideals her father had taught her, and the ideals she meant to uphold:

Protect the lands and people you care for. Protect the innocent. Above all, do what must be done to protect all of those, and do not hold back or flinch away from the necessities of war.

Dance with your blades. Dance with honor.

The guild had been progressing nicely, growing slowly with people of a like mind to hers and many that she now called ‘friend’. Two others had been placed as officers among the ranks – Galidon, a fellow night elf hunter who seemed to all but bow and scrape at her command, but who could easily enough turn around and put anyone else in their place, and Aimiar, a dwarven warrior who had become a dear friend, and aided with his past experience in battles.

Another interesting fellow had also joined her ranks. A human rogue by the name of Conidivh – interesting in that he worked for SI:7, insisted she keep that even from her officers for the time being, and managed to provide her with the most useful and precise information she could possibly wish for.

Other friends and alliances had also been made, and it was with one such that she now sat outside the Blue Recluse in the human city of Stormwind. Across the table from her, Mairlee, dwarven hunter and leader of the Westbrook War Academy, sat with her head in her hands.

“Ah dun know what te make of it,” she was stating. “All these nightmares, Ah cahn help buh worry they’ll be comin’ fer me next.”

It was in her offer to help Mairlee discover her father’s murderer that Conidivh had uncovered a rather disturbing group of horde calling themselves The Crimson Watch. It seemed to correlate with what Miarlee’s own informants had gathered, but her mysterious investigator had tied together pieces that the others had thus far missed.

“You know that both your Academy and my Swordwaltzers will do whatever it takes to prevent that, my friend,” Kurohane smiled back at her comfortingly. “You are well protected – we would all see you safe.”

“Aye,” she sighed in return, a small smile pulling her lips in response to the elf’s assurances.

The world melted and Kurohane sat across from another night elf in the Lion’s Pride Inn, in Goldshire.

“The killed her,” he croaked, staring at the untouched glass of whiskey. “In Lakeshire, tonight, at our little get together.” He paused, choking on tears. He was a member of the Academy, and one she had come to care for. Now, however, her own heart tried to rip in her chest. “The filthy rogue ate her flesh and-“

The world melted again, his words trailing off. This time, she found herself numbly informing Alucian of what had come to pass while he was in Moonglade, pursing his studies. Conidivh was dead. Mairlee murdered and cannibalized before her guild by the Crimson Watch. It was too much, far too much. She should have done something different, she should have gone to Mairlee’s gathering. She should have found some way to protect Conidivh.

“Forgive me,” Alucian sighed, leaning back in his chair within the Library in Stormwind. “I did not realize I was speaking to God.”

She blinked in confusion at him, “What… Alucian, what are you getting at?”

“Obviously,” he answered dryly, “You must be God. How else could you do all these things you claim you should of?”

“I’m not, but…” she trailed off as he raised an eyebrow.

“No ‘but’s, Kurohane. You did all you could – you are only one person. You must stop being so hard on yourself,” he sighed, shaking his head. “Mourn their passing, but do not dwell upon it. You did all that you could do – you can only look to the future.”

His words rang in her mind for a moment, taking her back to her solitude after her father’s death. Silently, she nodded. He eyed her for a moment before clearing his throat.

“Better..?” he asked, a hint of nervousness edging into his voice.

She nodded again, glancing at him curiously as he scrapped back his chair and moved to stand next to her.

“Then… the easy part is done. Now for the hard part.” She watched on in curious silence as he fiddled with something behind his back, seeming to try and gather his thoughts. Standing as well, she turned to face him.

“I, uh, assume you’ve heard of the Winter Tears Ball..?” She nodded yet again before gasping as he pulled a single red rose from behind his back. “I would be honored if you’d allow me to escort you.”

“Shh! She’s sleeping,” an elven voice chided in a whisper, despite the clunking of something being set on the bedside table a bit too hard. Or, perhaps that clunking was the cause of the chiding.

“Sorry, love,” a human man whispered in reply.

Her eyes opened slowly to stare blearily at the steaming bowl on the table.

“Look, you woke her up,” the elf sighed, and Kurohane’s gaze shifted to it’s source. Jezze smiled apologetically at her.

Her gaze shifted again, above the bowl of steam, to Apollion’s sheepish grin. “Sorry,” he answered again, not bothering to whisper now.

“We heard you weren’t feeling well,” Jezze quickly explained, moving to kneel beside the bed, “and I thought a bit of soup might help you feel a bit better.”

Nodding and stifling a yawn, Kurohane sat up. On the other side of the bed, Alucian smiled at her.

“You look to be feeling better,” he stated, reaching up to feel her forehead. “You still have a fever, though. How do you feel?”

She smiled faintly back at the three as the rich scent of chicken and noodles wafted towards her from the steaming bowl. “Hungry.”

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"How can you still be sitting here?" Alucian asked in confusion, finally raising his head to meet her gaze. "After all you know about me now... Why have you not left?"

"Because I love you," she answered sincerely. "I don't care what happened in your past. I care about who you are now - my kind, quiet, thoughtful chef and druid."

The wind whistled through the high mountains above Northshire, tickled the past the tops of the trees, and finally past them, tugging at her white dress, and pulling strands of his long hair across his face. He drew his gaze from her, looking back down at her hand, holding his tightly.

"Promise me something, Kurohane," his hushed voice was filled with pain and fear of loss. "Promise me... If I ever loose control, you will kill me. I don't want to become like them... I would not know you, I would hurt you if that ever happened..."

Her breath caught in her throat, the mere thought of bringing him any harm ripping at her heart. His gaze raised once more, slowly, to meet hers - and something in that gaze gave her strength. Finally, she nodded, quietly assuring him she would do what was necessary, if that time ever came.

"Then..." Relief seemed to fill his face and voice. Relief that he no longer had to hold back his feelings, relief that he no longer had to fear her rejection, relief that he was accepted as he was. "I love you, as well."

The mountains seemed to melt away as she all but threw herself into his arms. He still held her tightly, but they sat now in the Park in Stormwind. She was crying, unable to hold back her worries and fears any longer. Lovely had been taken captive by Forsaken. They meant to turn her over to the RAS. Conidivh's word still rung in her mind with the burning truth of the matter. The shock that the rogue was still alive was a distant memory.

"Perhaps you should not go, Kurohane," Alucian whispered, holding her protectively. "Let us go and try to rescue her - you do not have to."

She pulled back enough to look up into his face, anger and confusion sparking in her gaze. "No, I must go - why would you even..." She trailed off, shaking her head.

"I do not wish to see you hurt by this any further," he answered, his voice quiet and pained as he reached up to caress her cheek. "I fear for the worst. If Lovely does not wish to be rescued, or we are not successful... You have already been hurt so much by this, Kurohane."

"No," she answered, pulling herself up fully and scrubbing at her eyes. "Whatever the outcome, I will not send any of mine there without going myself. We will rescue her, we will set things right. That is simply how it must be."

The door creaked open slowly as Izanami dabbed Kurohane's forehead free of sweat. Galidon glanced once to the door, nodded slightly, then returned his gaze to the huntress.

"Her fever is finally starting to break," the priestess stated quietly as the door clicked shut.

"Praise be to Elune," Alucian whispered, leaning his mace in the corner before taking a seat beside his love's bed. Gently cupping her hand in his, he smiled kindly at Izanami. "Thank you for caring for her while I was away."

Izanami sighed, shaking her head, "I wish I could have done more... She woke up once and asked after you - I told her you would be back soon, and she went right back to sleep." A faint smile pulled at the girl's lips. "I think she rests better when you're nearby."

The druid smiled softly, looking back over his huntress as she slept soundly. "Then I will not leave her side again until she is well."

"I take a great risk by speaking to you of this. For all I know, you could be working with them."

The crashing of the waterfall below them did not hamper the conversation as she had thought it might. Instead, it brought a peace to the troubling news Mayday had come to her with.

"I assure you," she answered, her tone deadly quiet, "that I am not. Do you know what it is they are planning? What little 'trip' they wish to take me on?"

The man shook his head, watching her from the side of his eye, weighing and measuring her every word, every movement. She did not care. She felt betrayed - hurt and anger welling in her chest. "I suppose I'll just have to wait for our dear paladin to come to me with it, then," she answered dryly, voice dripping with sarcasm at the endearment. "I almost do not wish to ask, but what else transpired?"

Taking a deep breath, the rogue began the full tale of what he had overseen when Lovely and Kittsu had met in the streets of Stormwind. Kurohane wondered if she was going to loose her lunch.

The world shifted once more and she stood with the paladin in question upon the dock in Auberdine. Kurohane suppressed her cold anger as they spoke, bring forth every last drop of kindness and understanding she could muster. Lovely had asked her for guidance, for help in recovering herself. Words in anger would do nothing in that effort, but the huntress's patience was wearing thin.

"I have been writing with Daala," the girl was stating as calmly as you pleased. "I feel I can tell her things I cannot tell anyone else... Not even you."

The anger flared to a flash boil. Daala. A Forsaken warlock - and this alleged paladin put such obvious love and trust in what her very duties swore her against!

"You will cease contact with her immediately," the night elf answered, barely managing to keep the snap from her tone. Part of her wanted to slap Lovely, the other part wanted to shake her until she came to her senses. "That is an order, Lovely."

The paladin hesitated before bowing, "As you wish, Ogema."

A few days later, Lovely's withdrawal letter form the Swordwaltzers awaited Kurohane in her mailbox. She read over it once, crumpled it in her fist and tossed it to the ground before spinning on her heal and vanishing into the crowded Trade District.

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The world seemed to be constantly shifting. The edges of fragmented memories merging in fevered delirium.

Galidon faced her in Ironforge, the two of them all but screaming at each other, and he not recalling his own name, let alone who she was.

"How can you know all of this about me?" he growled.

She was on the verge of tears, both frustration and anguish crashing down upon her. "Because I know you, even if you do not know yourself now!"

Shift.

A young priestess bowed before her as she and Firesurge parted ways for the evening in Stormwind. Izanami, the girl called herself - and something seemed oddly familiar about her.

"I spoke with one of your members earlier today, a paladin named Lovely," she told the huntress after they had spoken for a bit. "She told me about a Forsaken named Yomi..."

Shift.

Lovely seemed on the verge of crying as Kurohane glared back at her.

"If you will not accept the help you asked of me," she stated coldly, "then I wash my hands of the matter, and I wash my hands of you."

"Kuro... please...” Her pleading was pitiful and only served to fuel the anger that boiled in Kurohane's chest.

"No. Don't bother. Goodbye, Lovely."

Shift.

"You must be Izanami," Conidivh stated matter-of-factly as he bowed before the priestess.

The girl looked nervously around the catacombs before glancing to Kurohane for reassurance. The huntress smiled at her, nodding every so slightly and the girl in turn nodded and bowed before the rogue.

"I will need every detail you can give me of your sister, if we are to discover if she is, in fact, Yomi," he continued, pulling out parchment and some refined lead to take notes.

Shift.

Galidon's memories had been restored - and the cause of their loss revealed. It was all she could do to keep him still.

"How could they do this to me!" He growled, eyes seeming to grow brighter with his fury. "Toying with someone's life! They must pay!"

"Galidon, sit down, please," she begged as Alucian stood behind her.

"There is nothing we can do about this as it stands but be more cautious in the future," the druid stated, his calm never faltering. "You are recovered, the deed is undone. Do not make it a wasted effort by getting yourself killed in a fit of rage."

Shift.

The waterfall crashed below them, the clear night sky shining with a full moon. "I'm beginning to think you might be one of the good guys," Mayday laughed.

"I'd certainly hope so," she answered, as she shook her head with a rueful grin.

Shift.

Izanami cried on her shoulder. "We will do whatever we must, Iza," she told the girl comfortingly, "If she is your sister, we will free her from that cursed existence, one way or another."

Shift.

Mayday sat at the head of the table and she could feel his gaze upon her and Alucian. Her love, though, folded Lovely's letter all too calmly, placing it upon the table before them. He looked ready to do murder.

"Please, go on," she told the rogue, who warily eyed her druid.

Shift.

She pulled the ring off of Yomi's severed finger and held it up for the priestess to see. The girl gasped, eyes going wide in shock.

"That's my sister's!"

"I'm sorry, Izanami."

The dreams began shifting faster, flying by and crashing into each other. Voices sounded atop one another, faces flickered before her mind's eye with dizzying speed.

"You realize by doing this," Celethorn intoned, "you will be putting yourself and your guild in open war."

"DON'T YOU WALK AWAY FROM ME!" Lovely screamed across the bridge at her.

"You have your mother's heart, but my mind," her father smiled, patting her shoulder. "Your way will be both the blade and healing, in your own fashion, I would wager."

"Ah'll get yer potion for ye, lass," Garbhan smiled at her just before a blade came out of the shadows, stunning him. The filthy, rotted rogue was on her before she could hardly take a step back.

"From this day forward, every undead I pass, I will rip their bones from their flesh - and their blood will be on YOUR hands," Alucian growled at Lovely with such an intense fury and hatred as Kurohane had never seen in him before.

“The killed her,” the night elf rogue croaked, staring at the untouched glass of whiskey. “In Lakeshire, tonight, at our little get together.”

"They've taken the potion from Garbhan," she told Celethorn across the communicators. "I'm on my way," came his answer, voice crackling over the distance.

"I wrote that in a fit of rage," Lovely smiled, cornered in the basement of the inn. "I could never bring harm to you. I'm sorry."

"Watch yourself when next our paths cross," the corrupted paladin sneered at her in the streets of Stormwind. Alucian stepped between them before she could answer. "Are threatening her?" he snarled. "Yes. I am," Lovely all but spit in return.

“Where are you going now, Kuro?” Aurahn asked quietly, leaning against the tree she passed. “Away.” She answered simply.

"I'm sorry Galidon," she whispered on the bank of the river in Elwynn Forest. "My heart belongs to Alucian."

"We're friends, aren't we?" Aelendil asked in all sincerity. "Of course," she smiled in return. “Why do you ask?”

"They spoke of you at their little meeting," Mayday sighed. "I would be wary."

“Calm down, girl,” Rodric sighed as he stood. “He’s hurt badly, but he’ll live.” He paused, glancing back down at the warrior, her father. “If he wishes to.”

"YOMI! Come out! I'm here!" Izanami called, her form trembling in barely contained terror.

"Do not tell her anything," Alucian and Mayday's voices sounded almost in unison as she watched Rhowen across the table.

"How long have you known?!" Xelthan yelled, murderous rage seething in his gaze. "How long have you known who killed my brother?!"

“All life is precious,” she answered Aurahn, watching as the butterfly took to its wings and rode the breeze. “Hasn’t father taught you anything?”

Blackness blotted out the onslaught as quickly as a blown out candle plunged a room into darkness. The feeling of the feathers on her arrow brushing her cheek... The taught bow string in her fingers... The sound of water crashing down behind her... Yomi stood before her, glaring with a hatred no heart with any good in it could possibly possess.

"This is for Mairlee and Vandin, you rotted bitch," she hissed as the bow string snapped forward, propelling the poisoned arrow to it's destination even as the rogue lunged forward to claim her.

The sounds of firecrackers and a little gnome girl giggling jarred Kurohane from her slumber. She squinted against the bright afternoon light pouring in from the windows.

"Punky Power!" the gnome cheered, giggling again. For a moment, the huntress wondered if she was still dreaming - what an odd thing to yell... Wait, Punky? No, she must have misheard.

Once her eyes finally adjusted, she let her gaze move around the small room. A bowl of water and a cloth sat on the bedside table, along with a small bundle of flowers in a vase. The chair beside her bed was unoccupied, but the room wasn't empty by any means. She smiled slightly to herself at the sight of Alucian, in his cat form, curled at the foot of the bed, sound asleep. Her slight movements stirred him and she hesitated. How much sleep had he gotten recently, she suddenly worried, glancing back out at the sun. How long had she been under the weather?

The weight on the foot of the bed shifted and when she looked back, he stood once more in his elven from, stifling a yawn.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you," she smiled sheepishly, but he waved it off, moving to the chair once more and putting a hand to her forehead.

His smile and sigh of relief told her the news before he put it into words. "You're fever seems to be gone." She nodded, leaning over to kiss his cheek. He blinked in surprise before smiling and embracing her warmly. "Don't scare me like this again," he whispered into her hair.

"Trust me," she answered, "I'd gladly not go through this again. But, um... I'm really, really hungry... I don't suppose my Chef would mind making something?"

He laughed lightly, placing a tender kiss on her cheek. "Anything you want. Anything at all."

~*~END~*~

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((I have really enjoyed this, Kurohane....You are a wonderful writer, and I am sorry about your internet situation....Get back on the game!!!! hehe.

/hugs))

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(( Thanks, Zamji - it's always great to get a little feedback. It helps motivate me to write more later on. ^_^

Rhowen - PM me. We'll talk. I'm a bit loaded on commissions (both actual commissions and ones I just want to do for me~) but we should be able to work something out. I'm nearlying lvl 40 after all. Hehe. <3))

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