Eversong's Bleeding

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Sarus
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Eversong's Bleeding

Post#1 » Tue Feb 09, 2016 8:13 pm

This is a story that is written from the point of view of Sarus during the Fall of Quel'Thalas. It begins the night before the Scourge's first offensive and ends some weeks after Silvermoon has fallen, detailing all of the grief and brutality that befell Sarus during this time, I hope you guys enjoy it, I know I'll enjoy writing it :)




Eversong's Bleeding



It was over thirty years ago now, but I will never forget those weeks that have scarred my mind and body more than any of the centuries of my life. I have only recently come to terms with my grief and loss and now feel it essential to my own mental preservation to write down my experience of the Fall of Quel'Thalas and the death of the High Elves.


It began with my return from a long term range with a small group of another five Rangers, my first excursion as a Ranger-Captain. I remember the swell of pride in my chest as I led those men and women out into the wilderness of Eversong to scout the multiple Troll encampments and even take out a few. After each victory we would rest in the camp over-night and sing deep into the night. Sadly, my singing voice would peel the bark from a tree, so I stuck to whistling or smoking. Mostly smoking, I couldn't resist. Though the final night before we returned to our homes and families was a night that I could, and will, retell it from the memory that has been branded into my memory – actually, not branded, more like lovingly pressed, as it was the last pleasant memory that I have from the last three decades of my life.

After a full day of trekking through dense forest and woodland, with a pleasantly tiny amount of Trolls, we took rest in a small valley nestled in the woods not even a mile or so from Silvermoon, and even closer to my family's estate. My entire troop was jammed with hysterical joy at the thought of seeing their family once again and being able to hold their children or lovers in their arms. As the night grew older, we all grew more and more drunk. I had a skin full of sweet wine as the singing began, it was Artanian that started it off, as he always did. His voice broke through slightly slurred to begin with, due to the wine of course, but it eventually strengthened and took on its usual soft tenor, soon follow by Rarion's baritone and the high soprano of Elerae. After their own individual entrances they burst into a hilariously rude rendition of a song from their childhood. By the second half of the first verse I was clutching my stomach and whimpering from the pain of my abdominal muscles crushing my ribs. This crushing of my mid-section continued for hours into the night, only being broken by swigs of wine and small breaks to empty my bladder or smoke. Eventually we all fell to fatigue and passed into a joyous sleep full of wine-fueled dreams of home and happiness, oh how wrong we all were.
Last edited by Sarus on Thu Feb 11, 2016 5:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Eversong's Bleeding

Post#2 » Tue Feb 09, 2016 8:14 pm

Eversong's Bleeding - Part Two

As I slept on that calm and quiet night between the swaying trunks of Eversong's trees, my mind did not journey far. I dreamt of home, and my family. My mother, my father. My brothers and sisters, all six of them. I was the middle child, with two brothers and one sister below me and the same above. Though there were two that my mind seemed to fixate onto in this state of slumber. My younger sister Aliayasera and my eldest brother, Wethrus. I saw Alia reading as she always did, her cyan eyes shining with a joy that she only ever showed when embracing the written word. I share in some part of her love for literature, but not to the same magnitude, not even close. Wethrus on the other hand, was training in yard. Sword in hand and a smile spread across his face, as it had always been. He was the eldest child and the prodigy of us all, I feel little shame in admitting that for the majority of my life I saw him as an idol, only bested by my father. They were both behemoths of men, holding a greatsword as a man of average size would hold an arrow. As you have already seen, I am not the largest dragon to grace Azeroth and so you can imagine that I was dwarfed by the pair of them. To add to this, my swordplay was, and is, average at best. The usual five out of ten. Nevertheless, in respect to Wethrus, I was watching at the sidelines as he sparred with two more of my brothers, Ranus and Thrimrus. Although both skilled warriors in their own right, they were simply outmatched by Wethrus. They rushed him simultaneously, common practice when outnumbering your foe. Though as they approached, Wethrus charged toward them, his training blade at the ready. The first to attack was Ranus with a high arcing slice toward Wethrus' left shoulder whilst Thrim went low – the blunted tip of his sword rushing toward the stomach of their opponent. To this day, even within a dream, I cannot believe the skill and precision that my brother displayed in his counter attack. Rolling his left shoulder backward and feinting to the left, he avoided the arcing slice of Ranus. As his momentum carried him backward it looked as if he was going to fall and be struck by Thrim in the same moment, though it was not to be. As his mass pulled him to the floor of the small training ring his right leg whipped upward, his heel digging into Thrim's wrist, forcing him to drop his blade. With his opening made he then drove his heel into Thrim's shin, forcing him to fall to the floor, taking out one attacker for the moment. With Ranus now bearing down on him he let his back thud into the ground. In a sudden rush of adrenaline, Ranus dove on top of his elder brother, the butt of his sword ready. Wethrus was prepared for it, and welcomed Ranus' face to the lovely hospitality of his fist. Ranus fell to the side of Wethrus who jumped to his feet, sword in hand and foes on the floor. He let out a cheerful chuckle and thrust his sword into the dirt, turning to me with his usual smirk. As the dream began to fade, he gave me a sly wink and vanished. The rest of the training ground, brothers and all, began to melt away and be replaced by a red-tinted and brightening light, the sun was rising over Quel'Thalas. I awoke to a sight I will never tire of seeing, not even after the day I pass into the eternal sleep.

It was now an hour or two after I had been pulled from my sleep by the morning sun and I had gone through my usual routine of smoking, shaving, smoking, eating, and smoking. If you can't tell, I like to smoke. Yes, breaking news, I know. However, after my usual wake-up tasks, it became less normal more... eerie. Though nothing that was more than we could account for the season. It was well in to the colder months and much of the wildlife was in hibernation, and the Trolls were never early birds. We set off after a light breakfast of fruit and a handful on nuts. We were low on supplies and the colder conditions left little fruit on the surrounding flora, though the small meal was more than enough for the short journey we had left, and then we would be welcomed by loving arms and hot food. Bliss.

We had been walking for over an hour as we began to realise something was amiss, there were always at least a few children playing in the woods this close to the city, and the travelling merchants that were heading to the market were nowhere to be seen. It set a frown to my face and a twitch to my hand, ready to reach for my bow at any moment. The others were less worried, blaming it on the cold weather once again and it being a day of relaxation for the residents of Silvermoon. I didn't buy it, something was out of balance, but I could not tell what. Though as soon as I saw the reason for my worries, it was far too late. The creature was already upon us as I spotted it. A ghoul, its skin blackened by the embrace of death and its face disfigured by its own creation. I had never seen such a foul thing in my life, its very existence was assaulted my senses and left me in shock for a moment. That moment was all it needed, the beast rushed toward me in my short incapacitation and sent its mangled claw toward my throat. It missed. My eyes opened slowly, expecting to see my own blood covering the earth. All I saw was the motionless body of the ghoul, its skull fractured and skewered by a slender white arrow, much like my own. As I turned to face my troop, I saw them all with bows in hand and eyes on the surrounding forest, ready to dispatch anything that posed a threat. With another swell of pride I drew my bow and readied an arrow as the others had.

Their attack was swift and overwhelming. At first in handfuls that we were able to deal with quickly, but the rate of their attacks increased exponentially to the point that we were running low on arrows. As the first of us made the call that they were out of arrows, they retreated into the centre of the circle we had formed and drew a blade, lashing out at any ghouls that got too close. This continued for the next several minutes as our arrows continued to run lower and lower, with the situation growing more dire by the second. Our supply only lasted a few more moments and the final three of us let out the cry that signalled our lack of arrows all at once, and we knew that this would get very bad. It seems that the ghouls could smell our fear as the moment our arrows stopped flying, their assault doubled in speed and ferocity. Our circle grew smaller and smaller as they pushed us back, and I could sense this battle was to be decided soon. With my knife drawn I set my eyes on the a gheist that was barrelling towards me. Waiting that extra moment, the gheist lunged toward me. Now, whilst my swordplay is average, I know how to use a dagger. Darting to the right, I grasped the beast's wrist and whipped the razor edge of my blade into the armpit of the gheist. The bones and skin of the creature had been rotten for quite some time and the edge of my dagger made quick work of it. As soon as the dagger was clear of the gheist's arm I lifted it into a high arc that ended with the plunging of my blade into the creature's skull, ending its undeath. My eyes darted around the rest of my troop, the sight I was given was not good.

The battle did not last long after that. The others were slower with their blades than I was... Artanian soon became overwhelmed by a pair of ghouls. As he disembowelled one of them, the other ripped out his throat with jagged and gnarled teeth. His blood spattered across my face, I did not notice it in the heat of my fight for survival. My eyes soon only saw what was trying to take my life. I disembowelled, decapitated, cut, slashed, and stabbed my way through dozens of those things. It felt like an eternity that I was fighting. Though as the last of the beasts fell, the morning sun still shone through the red canopy of the Woods. As I let out a heavy sigh of exhaustion I turned slowly, confused as to why the rest of my troop was so quiet. My eyes met with Elerae's and my knees fell weak. I dropped to the floor as the bodies of every single ranger that I had led from Silvermoon. Their necks ripped open, stomachs torn asunder, some of their limbs missing. I could not form a sentence, or a word, or even a thought. I sat there, the blood and bodies of my friends littered around me. I did not know the source of these beasts, but I would find out, and I would see them bleed. I took a small amount of time to prepare myself, crafting arrows from scavenged wood and metal that lay around the site of the battle, as well as claiming many from the bodies of our enemies. I promised my friends I would put them to good use.
Last edited by Sarus on Fri Feb 19, 2016 7:13 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Eversong's Bleeding

Post#3 » Tue Feb 09, 2016 8:16 pm

Eversong's Bleeding - Part Three

In all of the years of my life, the number of which I forgot long ago, I have never felt such rage and raw yearning to end the life of another. Though, it was not the anger that you would see a berserker taken by, or the screaming rage of a beast in danger. No. This was something far above that, it was primal, untainted, unrelenting, and unstoppable. I ran faster than I thought my feet could carry me, I had to return to my family. I had to see them safe and unharmed, left untouched by these monstrous undead that had appeared so suddenly in my homeland. It was not long before I encountered more of the enemy. In the state of mind I was in, they stood little chance.

It was still only around noon when I engaged the group. The two scouts, in the form of gheists, were the first to spot me. With a pair of arrows already drawn, I loosed them toward the advancing undead. Both projectiles found their respective marks and the following plume of light and heat left the gheists as nothing more than ashes. I had the element of surprise for a few more moments, and did not waste them. With my bow in hand, I rushed the nearest of the group, a ghoul of moderate size and severe rot. It took one blow from the guard of my bow to shatter the creature's spoiled spine. The resulting fracture was only indicated by a slightly moist squelch, and the thud of the ghoul's upper body falling one way, as its legs fell the other. My attention did not linger for long on the downed foe and I set my eyes on the next, a pair of walking skeletons armed with shortswords and shields. With my shortage of arrows, I decided to draw a blade instead. The skeletons were unregimented and almost stupid with their charge. With one of the skeletons closing, I spun to avoid the arcing slice of the attack, my dagger quick to find purchase on the joint between the skeleton's left leg and the hip. The fine but strong blade of my dagger was able to pry the ball from its joint and the skeleton toppled to the floor, soon followed by the heel of my boot. The force behind the the boot was able to shatter the stale skull of my enemy, ending the stain that was its life. The other had been a touch faster than I had expected, giving me less time to react to its charge. I caught it just in time, opening my right hand and dropping my dagger to the floor, I channelled the mixture of arcane and natural magic that I had mastered in my lifetime. Just as the buckler was about to smash my hand into a mess of shattered bones, I gathered the necessary amount of energy and unleashed it. A orange and yellow beam erupted from my hand as if I was connected to our star's very core. The barrier of wood and rivets was left in nothing but splinters. The bones of the skeleton evaporated in an instant. Once the energy had passed through my enemy, hardly anything was left of it. As I spotted the final member of the group, some sort of cultist, running for his life, I collected my bow again. In a motion that seemed almost mechanical in its precision, I drew, notched, and loosed the arrow. It flew for a second and a fraction, striking the man in the back of the head and ending him quickly. This was the first group I encountered on my fight to reach my family, but it was far from the last.
Last edited by Sarus on Fri Feb 19, 2016 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Eversong's Bleeding

Post#4 » Fri Feb 12, 2016 1:40 am

Eversong's Bleeding - Part Four

The next few groups that I came across were nothing other than a blur. A mindless mix of violence. The only memories I can even attempt to grasp at are blurred and rushed images of the ghouls, gheists, and cultists falling at my feet. The mix of Nature and Arcane magic at my feet, they fell as they lived, like worthless rodents that should not have been allowed step foot on this world. Their existence has soiled it, and I was the one to remove that stain. My anger was a wall that they broke themselves against, my blade the scythe that reaped them in countless numbers. My being was, in that moment, nothing more than a goal. A goal to return to my family's side, no matter who or what tried to deny me the sight of my loved ones.

By the time I reached the outskirts of my family's estate my mind began to clear of the rage that had taken hold of me for the past... I do not even remember. It could have been hours, days, I have no idea. All I knew was that it was dark and that the surrounding area was silent. Not that eerie silence, it seemed normal. As if nothing had happened. The birds were singing their songs, the quiet murmur of small animals settling down to sleep. It was... calm. I refrained from knocking on the door and chose to climb the wall, to be sure of not alerting anything. After another few minutes of jogging through the well kept forest of the Lightwood estate. The property of Anaharian Lightwood, my father. His true name was Anaharius, but we had to blend in with the locals, and we did it well. Nevertheless, back to the tale at hand. As I neared the front door of my home I kept my senses alert, my muscles ready to twist or throw me in any direction I needed to go. I would not be caught off guard on my doorstep, and I took the final steps up to the door. The pale white marble of the porch a calm and familiar feeling under my feet, I knocked on the door three times, the dense and heavy wood carrying little echo or vibration. There was no reply. I knocked again. No reply. I slammed my fist against the door. No reply. I began to shout and scream for my family as I beat my hands against the silent wood. It gave me no reply. No noise. Not even a whisper of comfort and assurance that my family was safe. Fear began to fall on me again as I began to beg, my knees falling weak as I began to let my mind wander to the worst thoughts my mind could conjure. In the labyrinth of fear that was my imagination I could already see my family hanging from the ceiling, their lives long gone. The light of their eyes snuffed out. The only dragons in the entire world that I had ever truly connected with, were dead. I knew it in my heart and in my very essence. I would never see them alive again. I fell to the floor, my hands bleeding from thrashing them against that door. That damned door that would not let me see my family again. That unyielding and merciless slab of oak that would not let me pass. As I pressed my knees to my chest and wrapped my arms around them, as I let the darkness take over my mind and allowed myself to rest against the door, my senses near muted. I hear a distinct click of a lock. As soon as the darkness had come over me, the light of a fire was at my back and I fell toward it. The door had opened.
Last edited by Sarus on Tue Feb 23, 2016 12:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Eversong's Bleeding

Post#5 » Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:42 pm

Eversong's Bleeding - Part Five

In what could only be described as a fit a rage and adrenaline, I had completely negated that fact that my body was near breaking point, just from sheer exhaustion. As my back thudded against the white marble flooring of the main living area, my eyes opened slowly and still fully expected to come across the ender of hope that was the front door. Though as I was dragged across the floor, my senses muffled and dulled by my lack of energy, I finally realised I was in my home. The place my family had lived for millenia. The Lightwood estate was large, with several acres of forest encircling it. All of that was now empty, possibly crawling with those creatures of undeath that sought to end us all. After what seemed like an age of being dragged across the floor, I was lifted up and laid into a sofa. As my head hit the padded softness of the couch, I had only moments before my body was taken by sleep. In those moments, I peered up to catch a glimpse of who had dragged me across the floor. Not saying a word. The elf was huge in stature, a greatsword swung across his back and a frown laid across his face. The only thing that distinguished him from Wethrus was the hair. The long white ponytail of Rathus, my father, was one of the only traits I ever inherited from him. That and the smoking habit, but we rarely shared a pipe. He never was one to share his leaf, a greedy man in that sense. But I digress, as I looked up at my father, my body useless at this point, I could do nothing but smile. I was home. Not safe in any respect, but I was home. With that thought being the only thing my mind could muster, I finally dove into a long and dreamless sleep.

After a long and black sleep, I awoke groggy and sore. I was still on the couch, in the centre of the main living area of my home. No one was around, and the place was empty of any furniture. Most of it had been used to block the windows and doors, giving the beasts no way to enter. Raising my hands to my face, I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and brought feeling back to the rest of my face. I had been asleep for some time. After eventually shaking the sleep from my body and limbs I stepped up from the sofa and looked around the room for traces of my family. A glimpse, a whisper, anything. They had to be here. I set about finding them rather quickly, though I soon realised I had pushed my body far past its breaking point, with every movement aching. Though this struggle was one that I would win, and a small struggle to beat at that. I walked through most of the main building of my house, not finding anyone. The doors to the other wings of the estate were blocked off, probably for the best. I came to the tall blue door of the main dining hall, pushing it open took an oddly large amount of effort, along with quite a lot of pain. As the massive door was slowly forced backward on its hinges, it gave a creak of protest but eventually relented and opened fully. As soon as my palms let the surface of the wood I was tackled to the floor. For a moment I thought my life would end there, then the giggling came. It was Ana, my younger sister. Her long blonde hair blocked out my vision, I didn't care. I could hear the laughs of the rest of my family moving closer. In this moment their voices dwarfed even the greatest orchestra. I could have listened to that for the rest of my life. I could pick out each one of them. All there. All happy. All safe. Safe? No... none of us were safe...
Last edited by Sarus on Mon Feb 29, 2016 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Eversong's Bleeding

Post#6 » Tue Feb 23, 2016 12:41 am

Eversong's Bleeding - Part Six

For the next few hours, I was given peace with my family. Some respite from the hell that was developing outside in the forest. After that, we began to prepare to move from this place and find safety. It was pointless to stay, we could not fight so many with so few of us, even though most of us stood late into our wyrmhood, we would not be able to best the hordes of undead that lay at our doorstep. As we made our final preparations the surrounding forest grew silent. Aria was scrying the forests to make sure nothing would take us off guard but all of a sudden her connection was severed. We began to hurry, throwing weapons and food into our bags. We could not fly out of here, it would attract the attention of the entire army. With the last few things being thrust into our bags, I looked around the rest of my family. Ana and Arias' faces shared a look of fear, though whilst Ana held herself with composure, Aria was trembling. I saw Wethrus and my father looking over the rest of my brothers, checking their blades and making sure their armour was fastened correctly, the usual routine. My mother, Marasera, was perfectly composed. The woman that had been the epitome of calm for centuries upon centuries was not going to break her cool now. Not on her life. I had been ready for several minutes and was itching to move, though I could hardly run, never mind fight. Exhaustion still clung to my limbs with a grip of steel.

We moved out of the house shortly after that, my father and Wethrus leading the way, and Thrimus and myself taking up the rear. We were still unable to scan the area through connection to the surrounding trees and plants, this left my mother nervous, though she was able to hide it well. Moving slowly, we made sure to look into every shadow and trench within our estate to ensure that we were not surprised by any attackers. After around an hour or so of walking through the forest at a snail's pace we reached the boundary walls. The pale stone had began to crack over the past few decades, and now it was covered in deep claw marks of these horrors scaling it like insects. Stopping to take a short inventory of our supplies and weapons once more, we took a small meal of fruit to give ourselves a boost before the long run from the wave of undeath that seemed to be assaulting the kingdom of Quel'Thalas. My home. The place I was born and raised so many centuries ago. I know that the true home of my flight is the Dream, but the home of the High Elves will always hold a section of my heart. A section that these... beasts. Have scarred with their slaughtering of it. With a small help from my brother Karthus, I was able to make it over the wall and land at the side of Wethrus and my father, always the pair to take the first step. After another minute or so my entire family was over the wall and we set off. Walking into the jaws of the Scourge. We moved with a more quickened pace than we had in the pseudo-safety of the family estate, we did not attempt to scan the area through the use of Nature's Scrying. It was not worth the time we had to stop for. As we distanced ourselves from our home, the forest went from pale and quiet, to sickly and silent. It was not the quiet of the night anymore. It was the nothingness of death.

After a mile or so, our peaceful run was ended. And in a horrific way. Thrimrus and I were the first to even know of the presence of the ones that had been hunting us. It seems word of my previous movement through the forest had travelled to the main forces of the Scourge as they chose me as the target of their torment. The pack of over a dozen Nerubians had moved rapidly and silently over the blood-soaked grass of Eversong and were able to rush my brother and I whilst we had not even an inkling of their presence. I was tackled to the floor by a pair of them, the second moving on after the first had pinned me to the floor through my right shoulder. I could feel the spear-like arm of the Nerubian separating the bones of my shoulder and upper arm, the ligaments being sliced apart as if they were not even there. I writhed and screamed in a silent pain. We had been silent as we ran, but it was only now that I realised I could not speak. I could not scream to warn my family ahead of me. Or my brother to my right. The thought of him hit me like a siege engine. My head jerked to the right and every muscle in my body went limp. My mouth fell open and I roared silently. My brother was not as lucky as I had been. The Nerubians had gone for the kill when engaging my brother. Thrimus, my elder brother and wyrm of the Green Dragonflight, had been stabbed through the spine and the neck. He lay on the ground, choking to death on his own blood. I was still pinned to the floor, I could not reach for him, grab hold of him in his final moments. I could not even tell him that I loved him. After a few more moments, the light in his eyes had faded and he was gone. Rage overcame me as my heart took the first hit, I thrashed and screamed in silence, trying to take my true form and crush the filth that had taken Thrim from me. It was then that I realised the true extent of our situation. I could not take on my natural form. I was unable to. I looked up slowly, not even feeling the pain of my shoulder as I saw Karthus and Ranus turn to face our attackers. Karthus, my youngest brother, was not fast enough. As he drew his blade, two of the larger Nerubians impaled him through the chest. I pulled and clawed and struggled against the limb that had been thrust through my shoulder. Ranus was fast enough. He had drawn his blade and soon took out three of the Nerubiarthns. It was at this point I noticed that the rest of my family were engaged aswell. We had been surrounded by dozens upon dozens of Scourge forces. If not dozens, then it was into the hundreds. My father and brothers were chopping them to bits whilst my sisters hailed arrows upon them and my mother assaulted them with stellar magics, the same that I use. I was too far away. I was pinned to the floor and claimed by six cultists who bound me in chains, disabling me entirely. I watched my family fight, realising they could not speak or take on their true forms as the battle began to grow sour. My mother was a beacon of magic in the center, and my father a storm of blade and blood. Wethrus followed my father's actions closely and racked up countless kills as well. It soon became apparent to me that my sisters were suffering the same fate that my rangers and I had had to deal with when fighting the Scourge for the first time. They were running out of arrows. As Ana and Aria let their last arrows fly, my heart dropped into the abyss. I knew. I knew how this would end. My head dropped as tears began to flow down my face, my will was broken, and soon my body would follow. The cultists holding me wielded knives or wore gauntlets of plate. They set to work on breaking every bone that I had, and opening my skin in countless places.

As all of this went on, my eyes did not leave my family. I could feel my bones shatter and splinter. The tiny pieces twisting and breaking whilst still inside of me. I knew I could not scream and so I did not give them the joy of seeing my try. I kept my eyes on my family as I felt my body be smashed and carved to bits by thugs in robes that followed Arthas. I saw the formation my family had made break, Ranus being the link in the chain that broke. He was swarmed by a dozen gheists. The last I saw of him was an arm flying into the air and landing somewhere in the forest. I had no more pain that I could feel. I stared at the last place I would ever have seen him alive. He had been so full of life. More than any of us. He was always the one that raised our spirits, and now I saw his fall for the last time. Ana attempted to take up his blade and hold the line but it did not last for long. Some sort of knight, now what we know as death knights, thrust a pale longsword through her chest and she fell to the floor. She was dead before she hit the ground. It was now that for the first time I began to see my mother break and my father go mad. They were fighting around the corpses of their children and they could take it no longer. I saw the exchange. My mother and father looked to Aria and Wethrus and nodded. They nodded back. In a flash my mother and father were trying to lead the attackers away. They were successful, though only in leading them away. I only caught a small glimpse of it, but I saw it nonetheless. A score of death knights on skeletal steeds charged them with lances. My father stood strong and beheaded the horse of the first rider. The other four he did not. Their bone-like spears pierced him at four different angles. They had turned my father, an elder wyrm of the Green Dragonflight, into a damned pin cushion. My mother was driven to insanity. In a few seconds the only thing that could be seen was a flare of Solar fire and then... nothing. It was a patch of barren and burnt earth with nothing left there. My parents were dead. Gone. But they had done what they had set out to do, they had given Wethrus and Aria time. The cultists that held me were sudden set upon by my remaining siblings, Wethrus decapitating four of them while Aria simply blew the others to pieces. She was only a young dragon, but she packed a punch. They broke me from my chains and it seemed as if we had survived. I was broken and bleeding heavily, but I was alive. As they broke the chains that bound me, I looked up to my brother and said nothing. I could not feel the joy that I should feel for being alive. I could not feel the grief. I was in shock. I realise now that that was a good thing as if I were able to feel the full force of the grief, then I would not have stood up. I would have lay there and died. But as I looked up at Wethrus, and at Aria, we shared a look of hopeless determination. We would make it away from here somehow, and we would live on. The sacrifice the rest of our family had made would not be wasted. But we wasted it, we had not been listening or even looking. Our guard had collapsed and as we turned to run once again, Wethrus was stabbed in the stomach by another Nerubian. The first I saw of it was the tip of its sword-like arm protruding from my brother's back. I lunged forward, raising my palm and using all of the energy I had left to blow the scum out of existance. As the dust that was the Nerubian drifted away, I turned to my brother. From the first sight I took in of him, I knew he would not survive the injury. I knew he would die here. I knelt at his side and took his head in my hands, the grief beginning to stretch its long, cold fingers towards my heart. It was only now that I realised we could speak. In a shaking whisper, I could only muster the word, “Weth... You-.”.
He cut me off, his voice somehow still holding its usual mirth, “I will not survive this wound, Sarus. You must take Aria away from here. Neither of you will-...” He began to cough violently, blood following the fits. “You will not survive here...” He reached into his breastplate, taking out an envelope, now bloodstained, but an envelope nonetheless. His hand shook heavily as he handed it to me. I looked at him, confused, but I took the envelope regardless and stuffed it into my belt. His voice came forth again, this time all mirth was gone. It shook more than he did, it was the voice of a man that did not want to die. “Sarus... Give that to-... To Talra. Please Sarus, she must have that... Please Sarus, please...” His voice trailed off at the ending of those words. He fell silent. Never to speak or laugh or sing again. His closed his eyes and laid his head to rest on the grass. I could feel my heart now in the grip of grief. It would not let go for decades, only tighten around it and hold me its prisoner. But I still had Aria, and that was the only thing that gave me hope in this world. How stupid I had been. We had done it again. Our guard was lowered, and it was an easy shot for the archer to take...

I heard the thrum of the bowstring as he loosed the arrow. Too fast for me to dive in its way, I was only able to see it pierce the right side of Aria's chest. She looked down at the pale white arrow protruding from her breast. It was a ranger's arrow. It was fletched with the spotted feathers of the falcons that roamed the forests. It was one of my arrows. Salvaged from one of the bodies of the many I had killed on my way home. As her blood began to spread and stain her green travelling clothes, she began to sob. Aria was... Aria was never one to deal well with pain, and this made it all the more amusing for our attackers. They could have shot again and again, killing her. But no. They left me to stare blankly for a moment, and then take hold of her, trying with all of the energy I had left to pull the arrow from her chest and heal her. I couldn't do it. I had nothing left, no mana, no energy, no hope. Aria's sobbing began to slow as her lungs filled with her own blood and she spoke. “Sarusss... P-ple-... please don't let me die here. Sarus... please.”

I could not save her. I could not heal the damage of one arrow. After all my family had done to get us this far, I could not secure our safety. I was too weak. The monstrosities that surrounded us knew this, and sat back. I did not hear them at the time, but I know now that they had laughed as my sister's sobs stopped. I could not speak. Grief had taken hold of my throat and closed it shut. I took Aria into my arms as she collapsed, her breaths shallow and followed by blood-filled coughs. I looked into her eyes and could not even say goodbye. She opened her mouth for the last time and whispered my name. She was going to say something else, something I wish to this day that I was able to hear. Ariasera, my last sibling and youngest sister, the one I had protected and watched over when she was first sent to the Dream. The one I had taught to use a bow and how to range through the forests. She died in my arms without even a goodbye from me. I will never forgive myself for not speaking. For not saving her. I cannot, and I will not.

At this point, the game of watching my life crumble and die around me must have become boring for the attackers that remained. They now chose to set the Nerubians against me again. I did not resist. I cried and screamed and begged for death as they flayed the skin of my back, revealing several vertebrae in the process. After millenia of pain, they left me in a sea of my own blood, grief, and tears. They left me to die, and I thanked them for it. I looked to Aria for the final time, as my hair took on a red colour, dyed by blood. I could finally speak. “I am sorry Aria... I will see you soon. I love you.” My eyes slowly closed as I let go of any fight against the darkness. I was swallowed by the eternal sleep and thanked it for doing so.
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