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Kaetze's Journal (Updated 3/4!)
((I have enjoyed the events with you folks immensely and it has renewed my lust for RPing in the past few weeks. I hope you won't mind if I roll a bit of it over to here, as I've decided to make things a bit more fun with my character and just solidify the story line that up until now was just sort of rattling around in my head concerning Kae. I apologize for the length of it but I'm trying to be accurate to the character and she's....verbose. Please remove if not appropriate.))

~*Kaetze wandered away from the stragglers departing the Ironsong Parade, her mind whirling with thoughts, her heart thudding in her chest from what she had just done. She had just spoken in anger not to just anyone...but to Thrall's personal advisor. That guaranteed she would be remembered, though most certainly not in the light she wanted to be.
The darkness and relative desertion of The Drag called to her. Turning her footsteps that direction she sought out the lone and lonely tree there. It often tickled her thoughts how something so large could grow in a place with such poor soil and so little light. A very strong tree it must've been. How fitting to be rooted in the midst or Orgrimmar.
The trunk was smoothe, the bark worn and polished by the passing of untold numbers of soldiers and civilians, cloth, leather, mail, the palms of children's hands...it shined like mica as she leaned up against it and set her rucksack down. Practiced hands searched out items within the sack without even looking and placed them in the hardened clay next to her. A sharp tug on the ties and the sack flapped shut with a sharp, leather ~smack!~.
From the dust is drawn up a leatherbound journal, and an elegant writing implement donated by an owlbeast in the Hinterlands. Kaetze flips the bindings off the journal and opens it, rifling through to a blank page. Her last entry was a very, very long time ago, she notes. Back in Stranglethorn, a brief mention of the shells on the beach at Grom'gol.
Perhaps now was not the time to write. But then, when was? And so she began.*~

The Ironsong Parade! How wonderful! Such a group of welcoming people I haven't met since my own adoptive family of Demonsbane took me in. Perhaps I'd thought there were no others in the world, as hardened as it seems to be around the edges these passing days.
We started at the base of Thunder Bluff. To get there in time I had to leap again. Gods, how I hate heights! And my last light feather as well. I pray I won't forget that in the future and leap once more, only to come crashing to the earth like a stone.
But the parade...the lady Dispaya sang as we rode or walked. Such a lovely voice. I don't know why I think the undead will sound as if they swallowed gravel. I simply haven't spent enough time amongst them, I suppose. The tunes were quite catchy, though some of the words escape my memory even now as I write. If I remember it in it's entirety, I will have to transcribe the lyrics of the Onyxia song she sang. I still have the refrain echoing in my head!
We progressed from the shadow of Thunderbluff to Bloodhoof Village. That fool troll still stood there outside the lodge aloof as ever. I don't know why it angers me so to see him still. I shouldn't bear grudges. But I remember once, it seems ages ago, when all I wanted was directions and he had no time for me. I behaved embarassingly and yelled at him. Was I hoping to prompt a response from him? It was in vain. He didn't even acknowledge that I was there. I need to lay that old hurt to rest.
From there we travelled the same road that I walked with Kernasas before. I have two memories of it now. The original run of terror, noting centaurs and panthers, gigantic birds such as I had never seen...and the second walk as a more confident troll, able to relax and see Mulgore's beauty for once. I seem to remember remarking to the two warlocks I walked with that at some point it might be a good place to come and settle once there were no more calls to arms, no more wars that needed my craft.
Then to Camp Taurajo, another song from the lady Dispaya and dancing. The Barrens was unbearably hot. I have been gone too long from them to affect me so. I spent so many of my seasons there, it distressed me a bit to see that the heat could weaken me so quickly. I had to overcome my bashfulness and strip off the layers of armor to cool down, leaving the odd robe that Utsusemi gifted me with. I wonder if my skin is so soft now that traveling to Alterac might chill me, to Stranglethorn might bring rivers of sweat to my brow? I have a feeling we will find out soon enough.
We danced, and I found use for the elder's moonstones that were sent to me. I don't know why I held on to them for as long as I did. I made magic with my words as I could to create lightshows and fireworks, the play of false weather affects that would not hurt those around me. And we continued on. From there to Crossroads. Another song, more dancing. More moonlight, and someone had the trick of storms. I think it was the shaman that came with us, though he never admitted it out loud.
Across the river in to Durotar. Great goddess, it has been so many, many years since I trod that red soil. My heart grew heavier as we approached Razor Hill though I couldn't exactly place why. It distracted me greatly until I finally realized why it seemed so oppressed. The Echo Isles were so close...I think a murmur escaped my lips when I realized this. Home. And the lady Shillatae smiled at me. I think she must've overheard me, and it embarasses me for some reason. Perhaps to be overheard to have a longing for something and not be made of stone? For we must all be made of stone these days...stone and steel, blood and thunder.........strength....and honor....

~*At this the pen trailed off the page leaving an ink trail behind it, the troll staring off down The Drag, but not looking at anything. It was a few moments before Kaetze started and came back to the present. The ink that had dripped from the tip of her pen had already been sucked in to the hard, dry soil of Durotar, and she mused a moment that it might be weeks before the clay was worn down enough for those ink spots to be removed. She returned her gaze to the page and frowned lightly, noting the mar she had created in her moment of daydreaming. There was nothing to be done for it, so she sighed and brought the pen back to the paper, beginning to scribe once more with seeming reluctance.*~

Honor is perhaps a word that should not appear upon these pages. Yet. Maybe I can lay claim to it in the future not just for myself but for my entire line, my ancestors most especially. Honor is what is touted most these days and it is honor that will buy you the cheaper bread, the larger tankard of ale in the taverns of these towns and cities.
And it is honor that haunts me. But not mine.
We won't discuss that yet, for the parade is not over in the telling...
Razor Hill and several songs from the lady Dispaya, all of which are playing around in my brain like bees, the words and tunes buzzing and reminding me every few moments. Occasionally bits of the tune slink out from between my lips with an accompanying lyric or two. In a time of peace maybe I will set aside a season or two and devote it to the crafting of music. It has such power, like my mage-words do. But while words may move a heart, a drum can move the feet, can force an entire armada across an ocean.
We continued on and the Echo Isles still lays hidden behind me, off the coast. I didn't even look in that direction. It didn't matter, I still remember all the things said and done there. I remember mother. I remember the waves, just as I do any time I see the ocean. Why else would I have focused at my feet so hard in Grom'gol were it not to try and miss the waves crawling up the beach towards me? I still dream of them lapping up, and up, and up until there is no air to breath and I am there...and mother is there...but I always awaken and there is no sea to take me, really.
I thought perhaps my heart would lighten but it didn't. All these thoughts came rushing upon me and I couldn't battle them so I sat uncomfortably with them and walked, forcing gaiety until I truly felt the smile I was pushing up on my lips. All was normal. I was truly happy again when we reached the gates of Mighty Orgrimmar.
~Better a cruel truth than a comfortable lie.~ (Edward Abbey)
((Splitting this up so as to not cause eye strain.))

Even within the gates when I beheld that another of the black dragon flight had been taken down by one of our Horde, I felt my heart begin to skip happily again as it had when I began the day. We are a mighty Horde, I thought to myself, mighty warriors and mighty mothers alike, strong children and an understanding that while life is harsh we all have our place in it.
Proceedng down The Drag, past the very tree here where I've taken refuge. The Valley of Wisdom next, still singing as we went.
To Thrall's chamber.
I was not prepared to enter in there. Again so many years since I had had to report there of the dealings of individuals that worked against the Horde, awarded my first mighty staff that I took with such pride. But at the time they did not know who I was, and truth be told I don't believe I knew who I was either. Daughter to the deserter, child of the forsaker.
There stood Vol'jin. The very troll my father had told me stories of by firelight on the isles. I know of his bravery and honor better than my own family history.
He did not know me. I look nothing like my father. He had no reason to know me. But his gaze tore through me anyway as if I'd been impaled on a guard's steel pike. It was only my own fear that fed the impression, he never looked at me again save that one time. But I know of him.
On this day, in the midst of what should have been such happiness, why all this? Why these memories coming back to haunt me? I was drowning in them. It was so hard to breathe in that chamber, in the presence of Thrall. There was a reason for all these things to descend upon me today, and I knew it. I knew why the memories were heavy with me. To fulfill my promise from long ago, given standing in the waves of a beach I cannot revisit.
Thrall himself looks as if time has never touched him. There is not even a hint of being battle weary. If only I could be so strong...
I dared approach him. Me. Lowly mage, lowly troll, unknown daughter of unknown troll but he turned to me anyway as I brought myself to face him. My warchief, the words left my mouth, I wish to speak of my father, a shaman in your service...
And he nodded, but motioned to his advisor and I understood. It must be addressed through him, and so I bowed, heart in my throat, and backed away. I nearly fainted, the chamber is so like a temple.
The advisor...
I dared grow bolder as I approached him. Sir, I said, I wish to speak of you about my father, a shaman in service to Thrall and to the Horde. And he grunted at me, which I took to mean I was to continue.
My father, I explained, had fought many battles on behalf of the Horde. He was always of one mind, only for the glory and honor of its people. He nodded, barely a flicker of interest in his eyes.
And then I addressed the issue of Kra'tze and his naming as a traitor, a deserter.
I should never have said a word. I should have finished listening to the songs and walked out of the chamber a happier troll. His eye twitched. He knew the name. My father was one of the more powerful shaman, how stupid of me to think perhaps he had blended in among the nameless throng of footsoldiers in battle. He would have distinguished himself not for glory, but because it was necessary. Because it had been asked of him and to do any less meant he should not have even put in the effort. Such was my father's mentality.
Kra'tze, I was informed, was rightly named as a deserter because he had left the field of battle and returned home. While orcs and trolls and tauren were being slaughtered he was hiding out in a grass hut. While blood was spilled he was speaking with humans of peace, asking for safe passage. Reports returned to those ears that at one time he had even mentioned passing the lessons of the shaman on to the Night elves, who seemed most able to integrate the practice with their culture.
Kra'tze was a traitor. Kra'tze was a deserter.
I tried to argue. I don't even remember what flew from my mouth. I knew why, I remember him returning home and holding me, explaining the changes about to occur in the world before he went back. WENT BACK! HE WENT BACK TO THE BATTLE DON'T YOU SEE??

"He went BACK." ~*Kaetze spoke through gnashed teeth, realizing her jaw ached from the effort of it for what must have been many minutes as she wrote. It took a moment before she could relax enough for them to unclench. It took another moment for her to blink the tears away from her eyes, doing her best to look as though she was scowling. Those made of stone did not cry. A deep breath, a further hesitation with the pen, and then she stabbed it viciously down on the page and began to scrawl wildly, letters larger and far sloppier than the previous script.*~

I remember the letter and when it arrived. I remember my grandmother struggling with the words but the one she knew immediately that stood out. Traitor. Deserter. Forsaker. And how she cried and pulled at her hair, and then burned the letter in the fire, singing chants of bravery to protect her only son and her only granddaughter. Impugning the ancestors to protect him.
I remember seeing that word glow red in the fire and then burn to black. In that moment it burned hot and red in to my own blood, boiling away. Daughter of the deserter, child of the forsaker...

~*Kaetze loaded the brunt of her sarcasm and bitterness in to the pen at the next sentence, bleeding it out on the page in black blood, unaware she had already begun gritting her teeth again.*~

"We wanted to let you know that your son deserted the field of battle and we haven't seen him, even though you have. If we see him again, we will kill him on sight. Make sure you give us a heads up if he returns, the executioner is itching to get at his neck..."

~*A stray tear escaped and splashed down on to the page, another in to the hard clay. Both disappeared immediately, one in to fiber and the other down, down, to the roots of the great tree she leaned against for her strength.*~

And now I am sworn again, as I had that summer on the beach, to clear the name of my father, Kra'tze, the Great Ember of Fire, Supposed Traitor of the Horde.
He is most assuredly dead at this point. He would have sent word. He would have bravely marched in to the village if he still could and announced he was home again, taken his lumps and only argued his case if it seemed the honorable thing to do. He would not have pleaded for his life. He would not even have defended his life if it meant speaking against another who had acted as they were supposed to. Such was the way of my father, and such had he taught me.
Enemy-killed, or secretly taking his execution, it does not matter. There is no way he no longer walks Azeroth that I have not seen him.
I shook my fist at the advisor. I will bring you the proof, I declared. I will bring it to you and show you that he was not a traitor, that these were all lies.
He did not care. He did not even wish to speak to me about it any more. I was told to leave the chamber immediately, and I thank the gods that not a word of this was overheard by our warchief. Nor the Ironsong Tribe, I can only pray. And so I did. I tried to do so with dignity, head held high, showing that this blood did not run. But something gripped my heart fiercely and squeezed and I could only flee. As my father supposedly did.
I curled up at the base of the tree outside trying to hide beneath the roots and the tears came out of me, large and angry. Fifteen seasons worth of tears watering the soil at the foot of a dead tree. I am laughing right now at the irony of that image. And even as I cried I saw the Ironsong Tribe coming from the chambers and realized it wasn't safe to be crying and be there and so I moved again. Quietly. To where I sit now.

~*Kaetze looked up and watched as a kodo thundered past her, a Tauren warrior atop it. She did not recognize the warrior, and relaxed. It would not do for Utsusemi's family to see her behaving in this manner. After all, she was made of stone.
She gazed down at the stack of pages she had just scribbled through, then cast a wary glance over her shoulder back towards the Valley of Wisdom. No more of those she recognized wandered nearby. It felt as if she could suddenly draw breath again, and she did so shudderingly.
A moment later she returned the pen to the paper.*~

I love you father. Your truth and story will be told. I, Kae'tze, Little Ember, daughter of the great shaman and mage of the Horde, will uncover the darkness of these lies and destroy them in the light of the sun. I swear it on my burning blood. I swear it on what I have earned of my own honor and I swear it on the line of my ancestors.

~In her twenty third season, the new moon of the second month~

~*She snapped the journal shut. The ink was capped, the pen stashed and the journal re-bound. All was stashed back in the rucksack. Kaetze forcibly blinked her now stinging eyes and realized she was exhausted. A few minutes walk and she could be to the inn. A minute more and she could be to the flight tower, or to the zeppelin, and be away from this place.
But there was too much work to be done, and the faster the better. Rucksack on her back, she marched resolutely towards the Valley of Spirits. There were a few trolls she needed to speak with.*~
~Better a cruel truth than a comfortable lie.~ (Edward Abbey)

((OOC)) I am always so so honored when anything I do inspires others. I loved your story! To find the lyrics to the Day the Dragons died just look down a few posts below yours! <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://laerg.gotdns.com:10152/viewtopic.php?t=569">http://laerg.gotdns.com:10152/viewtopic.php?t=569</a><!-- m -->
Thank you for sharing in such a fun event. This is a wonderful story!


Dearest Kaetze,

I found your story to be tragic and yet somewhat endearing as well. So many of us struggle in order to become what we are. Our world is filled with great beauty and also great tragedy. In some ways I think it best that honor is attributed to ones own deeds and not the deeds of family before them...and yet I can also see why it is so important to clear your father's name.

Remain true to yourself and improve your skills. Magic has many ways to reveal secrets of the past and future and in time perhaps you will discover a way to find the truth. To that end I vow to help thee any way I can.

Sing true sister,

Sing True Ironsong!
Tears are not signs of weakness, but strength instead. They are nothing to be ashamed of.

To shed tears is to be alive in body and spirit, to be able to show love and compassion for those closest to you.

There are times to act as stone and steel, and times to laugh and cry. It is moments like these that define us and shows us our true selves.

Don't be troubled... At one time or another, all of us have shed our own tears...


(( great story Big Grin ))
((Thanks for the positive feedback guys! I actually went out and RPed this next part on my own because I was slightly bored and thought..well...you know, I'm here. *grin*))

It had been many, many days of searching, many days of questioning on a trail gone cold and dead many seasons ago. She was weary. She was angry. And she was utterly lost as to where to go now. She looked down at the walking staff leaning next to her own staff, the head of it worn shiny and smoothe with many years of use. The very grain of the wood was captured there and polished, locked in the unusual state of being smoothe, somewhat radiant and shifting in the light. Cocobola wood. From the islands, from home. One of the few places those trees grew. And it was all she had to show for her work.
Struggling against sleep, she set ink to journal again.

No words to express my sense of...I don't know what to write. There isn't a word in orcish, troll or gutterspeak that covers what I feel right now. The best, as my father once taught me in the human tongue, was ennui. A weird word. It sounds so small and gentle. You wouldn't expect such a small word to describe something that can grip your chest and clench. HARD. I have been told it's a word that not many humans themselves know and I'm not sure why my father bothered to teach it to me. But it is appropriate.
My family is not known for the docility. We are fire, it is in our name. And in our blood. And ever since my conversation with the advisor to Thrall, it has been churning within me. I went back to discuss it with him.
He was not happy to see me again, but this time I offered appropriate obeisance and the lines around his eyes softened. Slightly.
I simply told him that I offer my services to Thrall and to the Horde to reclaim my good family name. And I asked how it might be done.
"Bring me the head of Nefarion...and we will talk," he said.
I balked, and he smirked a bit. I saw him study the cloth robes I was wearing, saw him measure me up and see that I was no warrior, no fighter.
"Honorable Sir," I said, "I could bring you the head of Onyxia. I could bring you the hammer of Ragnaros. I could bring you these things to show my commitment to our Warchief."
"You could do this?" Again with the smirk. "You? Mage? You barely have enough seasons under those robes to adequately tend to the wounded, much less go in to the Core or the Mirkwood and come back victorious."
His words stung me viciously. More viciously than the scorpids on the sands of Tanaris had. More than any spider in Stonetalon. Perhaps because these took a shot straight at my heart and laid my fears bare to the light...that I am not a brave one, I am not a warrior.
And he continued.
"No," the smirk widened "I think you mean that you would ask of your Clan to go in to these places, those of Demonsbane...and I think they would aid you because you asked it. And I think that the victory would be theirs but you would return to us with the proof of the victory, having very little to do with that battle yourself. You offer things that we are already aware could be accomplished. By your clan. With you tagging along like a sorry, scrawny dog hoping to prove her worth on the coattails of those who have already accomplished many things."
I think something broke in me, because suddenly the words didn't sting anymore. Nothing did. I just stared at him. And he stared back. The fury in my chest, the tears that were dancing up in the corners of my eyes all simply....vanished. I truly was stone, for once.
He blinked first. I think that is what startled me back in to speaking.
"Then I offer you no head and ask that you name me a new quest. Even the greatest amongst us would struggle to bring down Nefarion."
He thought a moment, then sighed and waved me away. "You bother me, mage. I have not thought how you might. Go search. Report back to me. When you have enough information, when you have gone far enough...then will I let you know."

And so I have it. Finding the proof might be enough.

I spent two days fallowing a lead, that at one point my father had been talking with the humans along the road in Silverpine, headed to Tarren Mills. They couldn't be sure of the date, only that the crops hadn't ripened yet. It seems that happens during the 6th moon of the "year" as it is called in their tongue, and I know my father left me to return to battle on the 4th moon. I ventured there, talking to who I could but as usual, it was so very long ago...few remembered. Few were left alive who even remembered.
But a lead....a blessed lead. A troll who spoke the human's tongue had talked with them, found out that the wizards of Dalaran had been causing trouble. Ambermill. And that he had gone down there to try and help. My father helping humans! But these were farmers, peasants, not warriors or soldiers. These were women, old men and boys who were terrified, barely venturing out to tend their fields.
Is it ironic that two of those had become the undead after and risen from the crypts in Deathknell were the ones who remembered him? And that they were in the middle of their journey back to Undercity when I encountered them in Sepulchre? There they shared the story with me, of the corrupt magic users assaulting their towns and overtaking their fields. He had greeted them, learned of their problems, and set off for their encampment. What happened to him they didn't know. They were forced to flee the fields, eventually succumbing to the plague as it rolled through.
After all these years I couldn't hope for a trace of evidence, but I ventured there anyway.
They were still there. To get in to the area I had to take many of them down because they simply would not let me pass. I tried to walk past them, ignore them, but the closer ones who spotted me cast against me. I had no choice. I destroyed them with a single cast, it made me wonder how strong these wizards and watchers of Dalaran truly were, and why they were so feared.
I don't know how many lives I took that day. I feel sick in my stomach because it was so easy to kill them. Perhaps the advisor was right, perhaps I am nothing more than a cowardly dog sniffing along behind my clan hoping to gain glory through their exploits. I have no stomach for war and killing. Truly I could have kept walking. I could have immobilized them and walked away. Yet I didn't. They cast against me, and the anger flashed up in me like raging fire. I struck them down in fire, too. All of them. I destroyed everyone around the manor.
But if I hadn't, I never would have gotten in. If I had run I never would have found the older man leaning against a walking stick that was not his. I recognized it immediately. There was a small character carved on the side of it that means "good journeys" that I remember helping my mother carve in to it while sitting in the warm sun.
The man brandished it at me like a weapon and hollered for his guards. Of course none came. I had already taken care of them downstairs. My stomach roils to think of it now but at the time it seemed automatic. He hollered and screamed, and then when he realized none were there to help him out, he charged at me and began to chant his spell.
I was not myself that day. I don't know who I was. But it was not I that silenced him and cooly retrieved the walking staff of Kro'tze from his hand. It was some morbid being I don't wish to recognize.
I am an incredible fool. I could have bound him. I could have kept myself safe while he talked, gotten information from him. Where did he get the staff? Where was the one who originally bore it? Did he kill him? Surely not, they were barely a match for me and my father was well seasoned in the ways of the Earth Mother. They could not have touched him, not even a multitude of them, unskilled as they were. Surely he walked away.
Surely he walked away. But with a limp this time, as he had nothing to lean on.

Kaetze stopped writing and reached over to trace her fingers delicately over the top of the staff. One finger searched out the small, crude carving and she smiled slightly to touch it. Such small hands and such sloppy work, but her parents had praised her anyway. The intention was there and was all that was truly important, as any one who studied the earth's ways knew full well.
She returned to the journal, distracted for a moment.

I think about Kernasas while I journey and how he searched for who he was. I do not know if he had less to go on than I do. I wonder sometimes if I could discuss it with him, what it was like uncovering his past and seeing what was there. Did he flinch at the moments that were not all love and light? Did he smile to finally remember the tender things? I keep thinking he might be a kin soul in this, but at the same time I do not want to trouble him.
To watch him is to sense that there is a great, dark bird perched on his soul...it worries at his heart with the sharp point of its beak, evil bloodswan and tragic courier of his memories. I think it perches there and when he thinks he might have peace it stabs him viciously and reminds him of loss.
I do not want to feed that bird.
I will hold my tongue for now. For now I can bear this and not be overcome. For now I can accept what I know, though it is strange and does not make sense.

Kaetze sighed, her hand drifting out towards the staff again. The crazy thought of curling up with it next to her to sleep crossed her mind.
"Crazy child," she sighed, "It's only wood. Wood from a tree long dead, under the hand of two masters. It isn't your father...."
Another sigh. A return to the page.

I have no leads. I am lost.

~In her 23rd season, first quarter of the moon in the 3rd month.~

Barely had she bound the journal than her head touched the table and began to sleep. Utterly unconscious, also, of the fact that her hand had searched out the walking staff and clasped it in her hand.
~Better a cruel truth than a comfortable lie.~ (Edward Abbey)
The lamp flickered enough that Kaetze's eyes darted towards it for a moment. Unaware she'd been so on edge, she sighed and tried to force herself to relax.
The canvas tent flapped around her in a warm desert breeze and somewhere she heard a coyote yelp. She raised her head a moment to listen, tilting it slightly to hear two voices talking back and forth outside. Laughter and easy speech, she could tell from the cadence. The tongues were just enough unknown to her that she could only make out bits of the conversation, muffled as it was anyway by the din of the nightime insects and the thick cloth between them.
She set her journal down and studied it for a moment. One finger traced the fraying leather strapping. She slapped the dust off the cover and cracked it open, searching for her pen and ink again. Such strange, strange things had happened, and she hesitated to write them down, not sure she wanted them recorded. But the need to sort these things out in her head, make some sort of sense of the jumble, prompted her to set the pen to the page and began.

As best as I can tell I am half a day's ride to Kargath. I find myself with some very, very strange bedfellows this evening. Metaphorically only, Utsu, should you find and read this. I promise...
I spent two days in Tarren Mills asking about the walking stick. None of the undead remembered it or the bearer from their time as human. I search among the muddled and those who would rather forget, and I expect answers this long after the fact? The thought has me laughing at myself, but I digress...

These past few nights I have had the same dream, again and again. Always it starts with me as a young troll, still wiry and dirty. I am cuddled with my grandmother near the fire as she tells me stories of the past, of the history of the land, and of the spirits in the good, red soil of Durotar so close by, in the waves, the trees, the winds. Some day, she tells me, I will be able to hear the spirits. With enough practice I will be able to talk with them, and with more practice I can ask them to retrieve information for me. Summon forth allies from their ranks to aid my learning or help save my life.
She takes from a sack on her neck several small, dried leaves. Silverbush, she tells me, it grows like crazy in the red earth, it grows everywhere in Azeroth. Its roots dig deep and know everything. It is a wise plant, and when properly asked will dispense it's knowledge.
She crumbles it and throws it in to the fire. A sparkling smoke drifts up from it and I remember the light flicking across her wizened face...I remember this because at this point the dream was of real things. It was just a memory. At that point, that is.
She breathed deeply, turning my face away from the smoke and warning me not to breathe, I was too young for it yet. I held my breathe so long I got dizzy and she chuckled at me.
Her eyes were distant, then she leaned forward and kissed me on the forehead. A strange voice came from her and she clasped both my hands, turning the palms up and studying them. "These hands," the voice declared "Will wield fire and ice...will wield the shadowy darkness that so many fear. This one's path is long and pained." There was a pause, in which I swear I saw my grandmother's eyes go black, no color to them at all, "This daughter will never know the voices of the earth or harness the allies of the waters. This daughter will walk in places of ash and cinder and not be burnt. This daughter will know things that can bring down kings and unite sundered clans.......this one's flame burns brightly from where we stand."
Then she blinked, the blackness gone, and my grandmother looked at me in surprise. I understand now that she was receiving visions along with these words, but at the time I didn't quite understand what was going on.
She picked me up hurriedly and carried me to the edge of the waves, where she poured the warm salt water over my head three times and whispered a quick prayer. A prayer for one cursed. It makes no sense still.
This is where the dream departs memory.
My grandmother washed her hands and walked away from me back to the firelight and the village. I sat alone on the beach in the dark with the sliver of moon above me, watching it reflect on the waves as they rolled in. Then there arose something from the waves, wet and unreflecting, towards me.
I wasn't afraid, I knew it was Mother. It didn't confused me in the dream that at the time of the dream she would've been alive, not one with the ocean like this shade implied as she came towards me on the beach. The wet troll that was my mother, her braided hair dripping dark spots on to the sand, reached the edge of the tide and came no further. It seemed as if she hit some unseen wall. There she kneeled and reached towards me with one long arm. I didn't move. With the certainty that comes in dreams I knew if she touched me I would drown on dry land.
"Ssssouth," whispered the shade, "where I cannot go, cannot ssssee..."
Her stretching hand grabbed my ankle and suddenly we were both wrenched down in to the blackness, the water rushing past my ears. Down and down, past where the light of moon touched, down past the stone cliffs at the edge of the vast sea, and I screamed, watching my breathe travel up as shining bubbles, catching the last faintness of light.

Every time I wake up drenched in sweat, the sound of ocean surf dying in my ears. I was told by the innkeep at Tarren Mills that I screamed and called out in my native tongue one evening, words he didn't understand.
For four nights running this dream rang in my head. I wasn't sure where I was going and feeling foolish I did indeed travel south.
~Better a cruel truth than a comfortable lie.~ (Edward Abbey)
((journal cont'd))

I am a torn woman between what I know of my books and what is in my blood from the generations of shaman my family has bred. The entire time of my journey the sides warred in my head...the naturalness of following what might be a vision, a bloodright, versus the logic which tells me that I might very well have been wasting a great deal of my time.
I can't tell you how I thought of it, but it came to me as I rode through Arathi that there was one place a watery shade could not travel. A desert. Which was south of my position.
It took another 2 days traveling through the Green Belt and the tunnels of the dwarves (and once getting lost, I will admit) to reach Kargath. Standing there before the innkeeper, who I had seen and talked to briefly numerous times, I felt foolish finally asking if he had heard of a red-haired troll shaman in that area. No such luck, he himself had only been there a few seasons. And feeling more foolish by the second I headed out, travelling back the way I came.
Only it wasn't the way I came in, and I got lost again and left a different way, getting turned around. Ambushed by a marching troupe of damned ogres I rode out haphazardly across the desert trying to flee them. When I finally turned to see that they were no longer following I also realized I was thoroughly lost.
A short moment later I found myself set upon by several elementals made of stone. They rained blows down upon my mount and I, so that the raptor fled and I lay in the dirt stunned and unable to collect my wits.

I'm still feeling like an idiot about this incident and hope to never recall this part when I am old and feeble.

A night elf hunter and his moonstalker burst in upon the elementals, raining down ice and blows that crumbled the creatures to gravel and dust.
And before the dust had settled he had me by the waist and was swinging me up on to his riding cat. Very quick and lithe were his moments. Perhaps I was still stunned, perhaps he was simply that quick, I just did not have time to think about it. It took me a second to realize that I was not dead, another that I was in the saddle with the enemy, and one more to realize that I was sitting in front of him, so that any attempt to slide away would be stopped quickly. He felt me stiffen and looked down at me with those odd glowing eyes that his kind possesses. A wry smile sat on his lips and he chuckled slightly, but entirely without menace. He knew the oddness of the situation too, and was apparently enjoying it.
"Be calm troll girl," he said roughly in my tongue, "We go to somewhere safe."
I couldn't gracefully exit from a leaping riding cat without risking concussion, so I did as suggested. Relaxed. At one point even found myself leaning in to the enemy as we bounded up earthenworks and stone. I jerked forward in shock at this, to which he only responded with another chuckle.
Our destination, as it turned out, was a small encampment. Only a handful of tents in a raised canyon. I sit there now writing this. But lest it be thought the weirdness of the day finishes there, let me assure anyone who finds this that it is truly not.
We arrived in to camp and were greeted by a gnome and several dwarves. I became scared again, realizing it wasn't within my current powers to immobilize everyone there. At that time I thought that I had quite foolishly let myself be taken as a prisoner without so much as a firebolt.
The night elf dismissed the riding cat and his hunting pet and began motioning at me, speaking to the others in what I think must be Dwarven. It most certainly wasn't Common. But then, seeing the look of confusion on my face, he switched over. I am supposing this was for my benefit, though at the time I had no idea how he could know that I would understand.
"...And look what I found the boulder-beasts grinding in to out on the flats. Perfectly good, too. Not a scratch on her except for the cut above her eye."
I was eyed curiously, a few chuckles were had....and then I was basically ignored.
I was standing in the camp of the enemy, the hated and loathed enemy...and being ignored. They began to talk amongst each other in a smattered mix of common, dwarven and gnomish. I wasn't sure what to do with myself. A warrior would have let loose a cry and began to shield slam the nearest adversary. But I am not a warrior. I think too much. So I stood there doing what I do best-thinking my way through great confusion.
The night elf had made his way to the gnome who was bent over an assortment of gadgets and widgets and was speaking with him in hushed tones. At one point they both looked up at me and I felt myself stiffen again, thinking ahhh, this was when they were going to attack.
But instead the gnome wiped his greasy hands off on the overalls he wore and hopped down from the bench, proceeding over towards me armed only with the handkerchief he withdrew from his pocket to wipe at the back of his neck with. Bizarre creatures, gnomes. Just above knee height on me, and with the strangest colors of hair. This one's was green like new grass. He eyed me for a long moment, tilting his head and squinting. Then he yelled over his shoulder, again in Common "I'll be damned Nolrathe, I think you're right!"
Nolrathe, it turns out, is the hunter's name. As of yet there has been no formal introduction and no one else refers to him as that. But once again, I digress...

The night elf Nolrathe chuckled again and called back "I knew it when I saw her. It's how she stands, you can see it there." A vague gesture was made towards the area of my body below my waist. Confused was a nice way to describe me at that point. It must have been evident on my face, because the gnome also laughed.
"You," he said, poking the air at me with a grease-stained finger, "are of the red-hairs. Somehow related to Kro'tze the shaman with a red that flaming. Niece? Daughter? Grand daughter?"
Why, when caught off gaurd, are we sometimes given to going momentarily insane and doing the dumbest of things? At the sound of his name spoken aloud I found myself crying uncontrollably.
"Aye," the night elf spoke up softly, "that'd be one of his, then."
The gnome looked embarassed for me, saving me the effort. He hurriedly waved me towards one of the crude wooden benches. "Come! Sit! You're obvious tired and overcome, having nearly been ground to troll salt!" He rushed ahead of me to set down what had once been a cushion, but was now a flattened and threadbare square of cloth. "I am Viktor, you've already met the hunter and, well, the rest of these fools don't matter but they're all the less clever of the Bronzebeard clan."
The dwarves pounded their chests and hollered affirmation to hear this. It is my belief they were reacting to the name and not the mention of them being less clever.
I did sit, and began the questioning. A long conversation that carried through the purple shadows of evening scaling the walls and overtaking the canyon, and well on past the rising of the moon. How did they know my father's name? How had they known it was me? Why were they there?
The last question was answered relatively quickly. They were sent out to excavate some ruins near Kargath and themselves had been beaten back by the same stone elementals that nearly killed me. Hiding in the canyon, they had found a separate and apparently a far more interesting dig at the back and simply put up camp there. They had been there for six months.
That timeline did not jive with what I knew of my father. My heart leapt to my throat to think that he might have come through there only six months ago, but that was quickly dashed.
The gnome spoke at length about the various ports of call he had been in, and how he and Nolrathe for the most part travelled together. Nolrathe charged out to kill things, and then brought back to Viktor what was left of his weapons and equipment to be fixed and upgraded. This was not the place they had seen Kro'tze the shaman.
Nolrathe, it turns out, is a "younger" night elf. At only a few thousand years supposedly this makes him more impulsive and assured of his immortality. This is how it was explained by the gnome, anyway. The night elf sat there the entire time, the same wry smile on his face, eyes glowing brighter in the growing darkness as we talked. He disputed no facts, simply letting the gnome weave tales of where they had been, and the weapons "adjustments" that had often gotten Nolrathe out of trouble in the nick of time, escaping almost certain death. I took these tales with a grain of salt.
Eventually the night elf broke in, seeing me begin to fidget in the face of all these stories. "Viktor, enough of your great exploits, tell her how we know of Kro'tze. She's been polite to your tales long enough."
The gnome jolted from the stories of his past, blinked a few times and apologized to me. "Of course, how rude of me! I was headed that way anyway."
They had been in Stranglethorn, fighting off murlocs that were not fond of them attempting to dig at the temple they had moved in to, when a troll had descended upon them. Thinking him one of the vile tribes in the area they had frozen him as best they could, trying to run from the murlocs. Outnumbered as they were, the frost works he had been put under wore off before they'd had a chance to dispense with the murlocs. When he came to they thought for sure they'd seen their last day under the fair sun of Azeroth when the shaman suddenly began to fight with them against the murlocs. Totems were thrown, frostshocks were applied, and within a matter of minutes they stood victorious over the field of battle. At that point they realized that there was now the matter of the Horde versus the Alliance between them and they faced off, tired, weary and both sides lacking mana.
"And at that point," laughed Viktor, "I will never forget what he said -probably because he said it in Elven. 'Fish,' he said, 'were never meant to walk on land. It's unnatural, good riddance!' And at that point we all broke down and laughed for about five minutes."
The night elf was smiling and laughed slightly, nodding at this.
I sat there taking this all in. My father had stood between a known enemy and murlocs and defended them. And further more, he had sat down and shared bread with them afterwards. Spoken to them in their own respective languages. (I had not known he spoke Elven. He never taught me any words in it.)
The gnome bantered on, telling about how they had headed north for a few days, checking out the ruins within Stranglethorn. They had talked extensively about their peoples, their troubles, the war; a mini truce was called on the roads of the jungle and the three apparently became good friends.
"Your father spoke of you back home on the islands, told us that you had that same shock of flaming red hair on your head and that when you stood or walked it was already with great pride. When I saw you, it was like looking at Kro'tze, Nolrathe will agree," the gnome told me, motioning to his friend. Again a mere nod to acknowledge the statement as true.
I sat there in the silence that followed pondering this and its implications. How had he gotten from Tarren Mill to Stranglethorn? Why?
At this point I am beginning to think that perhaps he is the traitor the Horde accuses him of being. Stranglethorn would have been no where near the field of battle. And becoming friends with members of the Alliance. This is a hard fact to swallow. I'll file it away for now, there must be some reason for it.

This is not the most striking thing that happened this evening, however. I write it now nearly feeling like a traitor myself in knowing this but it is so very, very significant that I cannot let it pass.
The gnome eventually spoke up again, telling me about his contraption, a scope of some sort that saw very small things and made them big enough to see. My father had been very struck with a particular discovery, he told me. Then he asked to see my finger, which I offered. I wasn't ready for him to jab it with a pin, and knocked him off the end of the bench jerking my arm back from him. The night elf laughed, the gnome dusted himself off, and both offered apologies. After a moment of coaxing I held out my bleeding finger.
He grabbed a small piece of glass and took a drop of my blood, flattening it with another incredibly thin piece of glass. Then he did the same for himself and the night elf.
A moment later he had the three pieces of glass set up beneath his scope and asked me to come forward. I noted with surprise that all three had a red dot on them. Still not sure what color I expected them to be, but not red like my own.
The gnome bid me look in to a small copper tube, and against the light I saw something that nearly stopped my heart in my chest. The blood of the three of us on these pieces of glass, made so large that I could see individual bits of red in them. "Cells", he called them, or that's as best as it translates in to my tongue from Gnomish. Small red circles with dimples in them. He switched out the glass and had me look at another. Then another. And then while I sat pondering he retrieved a drop of blood from one of the Bronzebeards sitting over by the campfire and presented it to me under the scope.
And I tell you this now, as I looked....there was not a difference among them. They were identical in shape. The only difference I noted was that with the dwarves the red "cells" seemed slightly larger.
"I showed your father this and he was quiet for many, many hours. Then he thanked me for it. Not entirely sure why." The gnome scratched his head and shrugged.

I know why, because I too am in that place. At our very base, no matter who's blood, we are identical. There is no difference. The small things that flow in my body are the same that run in a night elf's, or a dwarf's. And if that is true, then we came from a common source, a common place. Somewhere, a long time ago, we might have all been the same race. This shatters so many things that I believed. How can I hate someone that is made from the same clay as myself? Those that are currently laughing, drinking and enjoying tales with each other outside this tent are my kin in some fashion.
I can't think of this. It boggles my mind and I am getting confused by what is swirling around in it. I just wonder if I dare tell others of this.

The night elf's eyes haunt me as well.

~in her 23rd season, the full moon of the 3rd month.
~Better a cruel truth than a comfortable lie.~ (Edward Abbey)
The flap of the tent raised for a brief moment, and the frame of the troll girl was backlit by the glow of dying embers from the camp's fire. Kaetze slid in and let it drop, rekindling the lamp in the tent but keeping it low so as not to disturb anyone with its light.
She fidgeted for a moment, sitting at the small table and chair she had been provided with, tapping her foot and shooing away the moths trying to mate with the living flame she stared at. Then she snatched up her rucksack and dragged the journal back out. Another moment of thought, and then she dumped the contents unceremoniously on to the ground. She fished for a moment, grabbed her needed items and began to scribble furiously. These days it seemed the only release for her mind was to write out what huddled there, as it even shoved sleep away for her.


I have tried very, very hard to rest after the events of this day and found that all I could do was toss and turn. The gnome gave me some odd contraption to sleep on called a "cot" and I find I do not enjoy being suspended above the earth on a span of canvas slung between wooden braces. It isn't the least bit comfortable. Any other night I might be more agreeable towards it were I comatose upon being laid upon it. But it made my neck and back ache and I found myself laying the blankets on the earth. Even then, close to the body of the earth goddess, I couldn't find the sleep I desperately wanted.
It isn't because I am tired that I want so badly to slide in to oblivion, but to escape the horrible "what ifs" that now crop up. A new one nearly every minute. I hypothesize on the most ridiculous things and think I can come up with no more ridiculous history for my father only to outdo myself in the next five minutes.
Oh, for a draught of water from sweet Nepenthe's fount...just a small one, just enough to wipe this nonsense from my head. Concerning my father, concerning blood and history, concerning wars.
And to be honest at this point, concerning night elves. Specifically Nolrathe.
Rathe, I mean.

A coyote howled at a moon that was barely visible at this point in the evening, startling her. A wide arc of dark ink painted itself across the page at her start and she scowled in annoyance. Blotting it with dust from the ground at her feet, she flipped the page and began writing again.

I couldn't sleep. That's virtually a given these days. I was afraid of the nightmare and apparently managed a few moments of sleep because I startled myself awake yelping. I don't remember if it was the same dream of my mother and drowning. I suspect not, as it has served its purpose. Not particularly curious as to what this one involved either.
But I found at that point the excitement of whatever I don't remember left me wide awake.
Thinking I might join the others in the encampment for a bit more storytelling, perhaps some of the brew that the dwarves seem to need more than the air they breathe, I slipped out of the tent. Perhaps I slept for longer than I thought, because the fires were banked and no one was about. I resigned myself to staring at the embers lost in thought for what could have been an hour or a few short seconds. Then I thought I might take a short walk. Truly I was hoping the cold night air and the wind might convince my body it was better to crawl back to the tent, and so I set out along the canyon wall.
There was a perfect ledge that rose from the canyon floor upwards and so I followed it, wincing as I occasionally kicked stones off the edge and sent them clattering down to the base. It's a wonder I didn't awaken the whole camp or draw predators in to it, now that I think of it.
The weathered ledge leveled out at the very top and I was able to walk across the stone that boxed the expedition in. The sun that was normally baking red-gold in the sun had an odd blue tinge, and I noted for the first time in a while that I was able to clearly see the stars.
From Orgrimmar, with all its fires and torches, this is not possible, as with Thunder Bluff unless one goes out to Spirit Rise and looks out past the fires.
I stood there, feeling the dying warmth of the stones under my feet and in the breezes that trickled past me. Still lost in my thoughts, I made out the constellations for the various peoples I'd learned. The warrior, as proclaimed by both Taurens and humans. The maiden, known to the trolls. The orcs, as far as I know, have no names for constellations.
As far as I know he could have been behind me the entire time. I have battled them for my life before and noted how silent they can be. It never occured to me that he would be outside his tent.
The only thing that gave him away was a small cough. At this point I'm sure it was for my benefit and more because he had been standing there for quite some time, waiting for me to know he was there. I emerged abruptly from my thoughts and whirled to see him there, his eyes like two gold stars. No wry smile this time, but a look of curiousity on his face. Nolrathe.
I just looked at him for a long moment. He looked at me. And then because I could think of nothing to say I turned my attention back to the stars. It was too awkward to speak, and I could not read his intentions. It was up to him to define why he was there.
No one ever mentions in their reports just how tall night elves are, or how imposing they can be even in their mere presence. You can feel the years like a weight in their presence. The history is heavy and the ghosts of the past are nearly tangible.
He was first to speak. "Your name. Kaetze...or rather...kae'tze. It means little ember in your tongue, correct?"
I nodded, training in on a duo of red stars that made up the eyes of the dragonflight constellation.
"It is apt. A name to my people carries weight, tells who you are. It carries the history of a family. Yours is a strong name."
I didn't know what to say, so I simply nodded again, trying to pick out the dragonkin at the periphery of the constellation procession.
"More apt, perhaps, would be La'tze. Living ember. You are not so little," he said quietly.
At this point I still could not fathom why the night elf was talking to me, so I simply gazed at him a long moment, waiting. He responded by taking a few step to the edge of the cliff and sitting down with his legs hanging over the edge. He motioned for me to join him. Having no other pressing engagements at that particular moment, I dumbly followed and imitated him. His finely boot-clad feet in comparison with my bare, rough blue toes made me suddenly ashamed in his presence. I felt like a peon from the country in comparison complete with hands calloused and blistered from the day's work and a small sunburn across my nose.
"My name doesn't translate directly in to your language. The best is 'Swift Intention'. Most likely because I was so decisive in my beginning years. I'll never know, I took it happily. It occurs to me now that perhaps my father had a sense of humor about him. I'm accused of being impulsive, not intentional."

Again, no idea what to do with this insight in to the night elf or his family, so I continued to stare at my feet. How exactly does one respond to someone giving you the lineage of their name? I'm rough in the culture of the night elves, perhaps I was supposed to say something deep. Or agree. I nodded, anyway.

He turned and looked at me with those eyes. It was something easy to sense even though I still gazed at my feet. Perhaps it is a trait of the night elves, or the hunters of their kind have this particularly unnerving ability.
After a moment he broke the silence of the night again. "Your father is a great and wise man. No doubt he is highly honored among the Horde. His insights were startling to us. He had an unusual gift for compassion and for seeing what the outcome would be from something, either good or bad. His was a rare mind. It pained us to part with him without being able to introduce him to others we knew so they could see that you were not all cannibals and witch doctors."
I stopped staring at my feet and began staring at the night elf incredulously. Words of praise from the supposed enemy? And further that he felt my father should be honored among my kind? He didn't know then. Obviously.
The night elf stammered an apology at seeing the look on my face. "I'm sorry," he fell over himself to say, though still graceful in the stumble, "something hasn't translated correctly, or I've offended you. Forgive me."
At that point I suddenly couldn't be seated anymore, the nervous energy of my mind transferring to my body. Chuckling darkly, I informed the night elf that my father was most likely dead, and in his death he was named a traitor for abandoning the field of battle. The night elf was clearly shocked. It was then his turn to stare at his feet and be lost in though for a few long moments.
I turned and made my way to the opposite side of the mesa, eyeing the sliver of Elune (as I have now learned they call her) nudging her way back down in to the mountains in the distance. The sun would be up in a few spare hours. He startled me by being at my elbow when I looked to my right, laying his hand on it to add emphasis to his words.
"What you tell me is a damned shame. It tells me this whole idea of honor, and war and who is right and wrong is skewed. I feel priviledged to have called him a friend. And you should stand with pride that his blood is in your veins. A gem lost to the earth is no less beautiful or valuable. Your father's legacy will hold true no matter what they say of him, and it will outlive the death of the lies against him."
I heard his words, and they were the truth. But they slid aside as I noted his hand had not left my arm. I looked at it for what seemed like an eternityand when he did not remove it, I looked up at him quizzically.
He looked at me, and I looked away first, feeling a blush rise to my cheeks entirely unbidden.

I'm kicking myself just scribing this, so you know. I feel the blush rushing up on me just thinking about it. Stupid! Stupid! Nothing should have such an affect on me like that! What was wrong with me??

Anyway, he left his hand there and just stared at me, and I blushed more deeply with each second. There was nothing sensual in the touch, it was just loaded entirely with...intention. That's the word and it's completely apt. Nothing was said, no real motion was made. The moment was simply pregnant with intention. And the damned night elf smiled at me again to note the affect he was having. Not maliciously. Amused. He seems perpetually amused, as if he's seen it all before. Perhaps he has.
Finally I slid away and tucked my arms under my cload to keep intentioned hands from resting on them and studied the ground, waiting for the blood to drain from my cheeks and return to the rest of my body. My very ears were burning, and in the midst of this a spark of anger grew in me that he should make me so uncomfortable. I whirled to bark at him, finger poised for pointing, when he stayed my hand with his own...the back, not the palm, as if deflecting a blow. The same small damned smile, the samed glowing eyes. And anything I was going to yell died in my throat. I stood there, glaring at him and wondering where I'd lost my tongue outside of Kargath.
He slid my hand aside, dropped his own. "Forgive me, lady Kae'ze...La'tze, I will call you. You are so much like the man I knew, and yet your own person. The elves prize beauty, wisdom and strength above all things, and I honor these in you." At this he bowed deeply, "I consider myself honored to also know you. Carry the surname with pride though your people might try to take it from you."
I pondered his words as he straightened himself. His hand reached out searched under the cloak until it clasped my own, then pulled it to his lips. They brushed lightly. It was like having one hundred butterflies land on my hand.
"I'm...I'm mated," I managed to stammer to him through the blush again creeping up on my face. Then a further blush when I realized what I had inadvertently admitted in that statement...that I had already decided what he had meant by that small gesture.

She raised a hand to her hot cheek and rubbed it hard as if it would force the blood to return from whence it came and gritted her teeth for a hard moment. She looked about quickly, as if she expected there to suddenly be someone in the tent who was reading her thoughs. Feeling more foolish, she returned to the page.

Must'nt forget Utsu!! So, alright, for a moment I forgot Utsu, but the thought emerged quickly. It left my mouth as fast as I could manage it. I didn't know the night elf was going to do it....as I sit here arguing with an audience that does not exist about an event that no one else saw trying to convince them I was faithful. When nothing happened. I am confused at this moment...but we're not done up on the mesa, let me finish...

The night elf nodded at me. "A troll like yourself?"
I nodded. That was once again all I could manage. A noise of understanding was made by the night elf. By Rathe, I mean. He spoke so soft I almost did not hear him this time, "Then may your union be blessed...a lucky man he is."
He was still holding my hand. I pulled it away and retreated as far in to my cloak as it would allow. I was suddenly annoyed there wasn't another 10 yards of fabric to the thing.
"If you would do the honor of calling me Rathe, giving me the nickname..." he trailed off and studied me.
Rathe, I mouthed with confusion. Obviously a part of his name, but I wasn't sure of the significance.
"It simply means 'intention'," he told me.
One last time with the voiceless nodding, then I managed. "Yes, Rathe...I would be happe to call you that. Goodnight Rathe."
"Goodnight La'tze," was his only reply.
I watched him withdraw with another bow to the path I had found and that he probably already knew and could walk in the dark blindfolded. A quick glance, a return to his inscrutable elven face and then he was obscured by the stone as he descended. It took me many, many minutes before I could gather up the courage to follow after, not entirely sure what new stupidity I was to inflict on myself if I met him at the bottom of the cliff, or what new heights of social gracelessness I might descend to under the petrifying gaze of those eyes.
Lucky for me he was not there, nor was I interrupted in my return to the tent. To here, where I wrote these down. And now I truly pray Utsu never reads this, because Rathe will be a dead man if he does.

A splitting log in the embers outside crackled loudly and caused her to jump and look about wildly. So jumpy these days! She then realized that the desert air and the excitement had done its job. She was cold and suddenly quite tired. Without bothering to stash the ink, pen or journal she doused the light for the lamp and heaved the blankets back up on to the canvas contraption. She was exhausted now. Perhaps it was worth it to give this "cot" thing a try.
Sleep claimed her quickly and seamlessly for the first time in many days.
~Better a cruel truth than a comfortable lie.~ (Edward Abbey)
I am finally sitting in Orgrimmar after two days spent travelling. Utsu snores next to me on the bed and I am enjoying the small warm fire that burns and pops in its brazier. I am enjoying being within walls that have guards.

A long story, I don't really have the time. The rock elementals set upon the camp and destroyed it the day after I arrived. Those there for the expedition were rallying to go back and claim their equipment but they were grossly outnumbered. The dwarves didn't seem to care. They were too busy cleaning muskets and downing ale to do the math, I suppose.

My mount was found picking at a coyote carcass near the Uldaman dig site. Rathe was kind enough to go out searching for him. I think perhaps his absence aided the elementals in taking the place.

Either way, they withdrew, threw up what was left of their tents as a makeshift camp site, and I slipped away quietly.

I found Kargath by mid-afternoon and by windrider and zeppelin found my way back to the red soil of Durotar. I have suddenly found myself longing for Utsusemi's company. My head is so full, I need a shoulder to rest it on. I need to just breathe for a while. Seeing him was enough to make me feel half the weight of what I had learned trickle away.
He may not appear it, but he is quiet intuitive. In fact, he was looking up at the doorway as if expecting me when I walked up. He didn't say anything, wordlessly he held his arms out to me and I curled up next to him on the bench just to the side of the door. I fell straight in to slumber. I awoke many hours later to find him still there with me. Somehow he'd picked me up without waking me and moved me to the hammock we share, curling around me himself and falling asleep.
Perhaps I am just as much a comfort to him as he is to me. He seems to be very strong willed and independant, sometimes I don't even remember that he's just flesh and bone. Maybe he needs me, too.
It is wonderful to hear his heavy breathing, and the crackle and pop of the torches and bonfires outside. I even realize now that I've missed the sound of wild dogs howling out on the plains and the clank of armor and slap of leather as soldiers process by, heading off to various battles.

There was a package stuffed in my sack when I emptied it. Untying the twine around it, it slid apart to reveal a tightly woven cloak. In it was a note from Rathe. I write it here because of the oddness of it.

"It is a cloak that will not burn. When pressed with flame it will not singe or scorch or smoke. I have a feeling that soon you might be walking through fire and storms. At least this will help with the former. The latter you can weather on your own. You are your father's daughter, and the seed never falls far from the mighty tree. ~Rathe"

I don't know what he means by walking through fire. At this point I have learned such odd things, and while there is more of his past and what might be his last bit of history it does not answer the question for me; did he desert, or was he killed on the way back to war?

I am no closer to that answer now than when I first set out searching. For now it is time to put this to bed, as I must prepare myself for the horrors I will meet with in Silithus and in Black Wing Lair. Part of me is glad. What I discovered is not what I thought. And what I thought was what made sense, what I thought I knew of him.

Perhaps honor was never even a part of this entire thing and my father saw that. Maybe somehow he managed to step beyond the thought of troll versus Kaldorei, Alliance versus Horde. I think if that is what happened, if I understand that mindset, then perhaps I will understand what happened finally with him. And then maybe it won't matter what is said of him after all this time.
There is no less pride in my step for knowing what I now know.

~In her 23rd year, the 3rd day of the waning moon, 3rd month.
~Better a cruel truth than a comfortable lie.~ (Edward Abbey)
((*blush* Thank you. I had a LOT of fun thinking through that and writing it out. But right now I need to focus on getting keyed, so it's going to rest for a while. *curtsies* Thank you for all the kind words everyone!))
~Better a cruel truth than a comfortable lie.~ (Edward Abbey)
A lone letter lay on the wooden table, stirring in an ash-tinged breeze that curled in through the doorway.
Anyone walking in to the hut could lean over and see the words, though only those who knew the tongue would be able to read. The words upon it are written in the Elven alphabet, and strange it is that such a document would sit unattended in the middle of Orgrimmar. How strange that such a thing would find its way in to the capitol city of the Horde to be placed neatly upon a table without a single person seeing how it arrived.

My Friend La'tze,

I hope my gift is serving you well.
We night elves are known for our dreaming. Sometimes we dream of the past, sometimes of the future; sometimes we dream of things that could be, or never will. I want to share the one I had last night with you.
You were walking in great darkness and lost for direction. Images flashed before you of the many things in your life. The conquering of Onyxia, becoming ready for Molten Core, and surviving the sands of Silithus all drifted by.

I assume these are what preoccupy you now. You stumbled as they disappeared and were left in great darkness. There was only frustration because you could not see your way, there was no fear.
In Ashenvale there is a place that we do not speak of, and no elf goes to. Elune's light is dim there and the creatures that would normally hide from her roam free.
I dreamt that you were suddenly there, standing before a great stone obelisk struck in scarred earth and that these dark creatures were closing in from all sides. Despite the fact that you have learned the arts of the mage and not the priest, I saw you draw forth light in the midst of these creatures like a great beam from the sky. They screamed at the sight of it, and those that were not instantly killed fled from the place.
You were left alone and with tremendous peace. Though the light faded no creature would approach you. Your very presence burned them and they recoiled where they hid from your touch as you walked back in to the light of Elune.

La'tze, we have quite long memories, and long lives. Your father spoke once of a pilgrimage he wished to make. His words were "To set his mind straight," if I am to recall them correctly.
I think that you must go to this place and see this obelisk. I think if you can breach the barriers, any elves who are in the area might have knowledge of what you seek. Some may even help you if they are enlightened and not tainted by the anger that is taking over this world.
Go to the place where the daggers glow green in the dark and the demons walk without fear. Follow the footsteps of former pilgrims and your own will not stumble or hesitate. I think your next clue will be there.

Yours Until Final Darkness or the Emerald Dream Come,


The letter stirred in another breeze and drifted from the table, fluttering a bit and coming to rest near an empty hammock. To its side was an imprint in the dust where a rucksack had sat for many days, but was no more.
The house was deserted and Kae'tze had already gone.
~Better a cruel truth than a comfortable lie.~ (Edward Abbey)
It has been so very long since I wrote. I almost hesitate now. The moment seems lost, and really I only record it here out of pure need for continuity.
I suppose I'm afraid I'll read back through this, or some other being will at some point, and will suddenly notice the shift in tone and words but have there be no explanation. Arrogant to think that someone would care so much, but the thought suits me, and therefore bigs me, and so here I am writing this.

So much has happened. I start it like these are novel words. I have lived, and anyone who has continued to live will experience a lot. But these are my experiences, and this is my life. It needs the telling.

I have laid my hand upon the burning stone near the Molten Core and brought back a small, hot bit to the strange elf near the span. I have entered that place repeatedly for the glory of my clan and for the Horde. I have helped lay out the servants of Ragnaros and proved myself in battle.
I have faced the dragon Drakkisath and burned his mark in to the flesh of my left palm at the behest of these same people and lived to portal away the souls who would help me to the safety of Orgrmmar. It was not a glorious battle, but the goal was achieved. I returned for his blood at the behest of Rexxar that I might face the brood mother Onyxia in battle. Some day I will carry her head in to the gates of Orgrimmar with my chosen family behind me and present it for all to see. Then my blood will be cleansed of any taint from my past and I will walk with my head high once again.

But none of these battles was waged for so long or were so devastating as the one within my head, and ultimately my heart.
I have always known that Utsusemi was a loaner and that what he wanted and what I wanted did not mesh. Over the past few years I watched my mate ride off to slay the enemy upon the battlegrounds and within the dangerous places that made me tremble. Seeing this, I believed I myself was weak. I could not conceive of going to these places without fear. But he did so, and wrecklessly. And left me there each time to worry about his fate and whether he would return to me.
He had begged me on multiple occasions to allow myself to be adopted by the Ironsong. It would seem to make sense, why would I not wish to go with my mate? But there was this nagging feeling that it would be the wrong move. I love many of them and find them honorable and good individuals. But my clan has supported me, and I love many of them very deeply as if they were my own sisters or brothers. They sheltered me from the time I was young, from even before I met Utsusemi out in the heat of Durotar. And I truly owe them my loyalty and my life for all the times they have protected mine and all the wisdom, hope and courage they have given me. So I waved my hand and told Utsu that I would think on it and decide later. Ever postponing, I was.
I'd asked him numerous times not to rush headlong in to battle, not to glory in blood so much. That blood, you see, haunts me in my thoughts. it is all the same. I could not get over the fact that it was the same. But Utsu would not hear me, and his words were full of hate towards them. I could not reach him.
In the end I saw that his heart and mind were of stone and would not be moved in these matters. He spoke angrily against my thoughts when I tried to share them with him, when I told him of what I had seen. Such awful words flew between us that I won't record them here. In the end it is important that they were spoken at all and not exactly what was said. I was wounded by their intention.

I am still afraid. I walk in to the halls of the Black Rock Spire to face the dragon kin and am afraid. I go to aid Vaelastrasz in his destruction after his corruption has become complete and I am afraid. I fire in the face of ogres and living flames, and I am terrified. I shake when I cast. But I still do it. And the outcome is still the same. The enemy falls eventually, because I have set my own intention behind it.
This is how I know that it is possible to have two viewpoints, and have no "right" and no "wrong". In the end really there isn't a duality like this at all. All that matters is if you are living true to your intention. I realized I was not. I was bowing to his beliefs to keep from arguing and keeping my own quiet. I even tried to convince myself that perhaps what I had seen under the microscope was wrong. Just for the sake of peace. In so doing I lost ground in a battle I didn't even realize I was waging.

It is done. I took the silver bracelets he presented me with, and that I agreed to be mated to him over, and I went down to the Valley of Spirits. Pephedro already knew why I had come and took them from me. Without a word to me she broke the spell bond over them to separate our hearts and our souls. I'd like to say I felt a wrenching there, but really I felt nothing but cold.
She asked if I wanted them back. I did, but thought perhaps I should not touch them right now while the magicks were at work. She, of course, understood. They are in a box stashed somewhere in the mage's hut. I will not ask, and eventually they will be gone.

I have sent a letter to Utsusemi to tell him what has happened. I even said the traditional words, though really tradition means nothing to him.
"I am not one with your heart any longer, and you are not one with mine."
And it is done.
I could not live trying to hide what I felt and believed. And he deserved the right to his own set. Really it seems the best way for both of us to remain in tact without destroying each other slowly, like the ocean waves beating against the cliff.

I went to the place of the swords. I saw the demons. I saw the great obelisk there and the strange fires. And I saw Nolrathe, who smiled when he saw me, and touched the brand on my palm as though it were an old and ancient text. But all that is a story for another time.

~In her 23rd year, the 3rd day of the waxing moon in the 6th month
~Better a cruel truth than a comfortable lie.~ (Edward Abbey)
A great many years ago there was laid upon my head a promise which I myself did not get to make. It was made for me.
I overheard it, though I don't think either my father or my grandmother knew that I was listening. At the time I wasn't aware at just how those simple words would shape where I walked in my path. But I listened, curled up against the breast of my mother as it softly rose and fell in sleep. I remember the rustle of the leaves in the wind, nearly taking the words away amidst the noise.
Mama, he'd said, I'm going away again. I'm leaving my only child here. I don't know if I'll be back and the world outside this here is harsh.
Mama, he'd said, I don't want that world raising her. I don't ever want her little hands raising a blade in battle. Don't you ever let her raise a knife, raise a sword....
Sure, sure son, grandmother had agreed, trying to hush him. I'll do that until you come back. Then you watch her and you keep her, and no blade will cross her little palms.
Swear it Mama, he'd demanded, I want your word. I could hear the intensity in the voice though I didn't understand.
She'd murmured something lost in the breeze, but I swear to this day it sounded like ascent. Either way, my father dropped it. He came in to our hut and looked down at me where I pretended to sleep. Then without a further word, he kissed my forehead gently and curled up on a hammock nearby, trying his best not to make noise and disturb us.
He had disappeared the next morning, smiling and hugging me in the bright sunlight like he was just going across the channel to the mainland and not disappearing forever.
But from that moment onward grandmother had eyed me each time I picked up a blade to cut fish or meat, and forbade me carrying the larger machetes in to the jungles when we went to gather roots and herbs. To this day I am an expert at taking a stick and hunting down the environs of the damned earthroot. I can wrest any from the earth without breaking the deep running taproot. But I digress.
It was always subtlely discouraged, such that I barely noticed it. I was given staves to train with. I was given jobs where blades were not required. All in accordance with this geise laid on my head by a man long absent.
Swear to me, my grandmother had said one day, that you will never pick up a blade in war or anger.
The look in her eyes was so wild and terrifying that all I could do was nod dumbly. Perhaps it was fear of betraying her supposed dead son that drove it. Or the realization that I could never truly weild one...mine, I suspect, is too gentle of a soul.
But this is all in the past. I am bound. I will not bear a blade in anger or in honor for any reason. I swore it. I swore it indirectly to my father even as I spoke the words to my grandmother.
And so I took the path of something entirely different from my tribesmen and women. No spears, no swords, no machetes...in her less lucid moments my grandmother even forbade metal-tipped arrows to fall in to my hand. So I am skilled at none of these, but I can crack open a human's skull wit hthe butt of my staff if need be. I will never be a warrior and steel will never be a comfortable thing in my hand.
Why do I dwell on this? Because the promises of my past and the promises of the present collided for me today in the form of a gift that twisted inside of me all these things I have simply accepted. In our quest through the Molten Core many fine pieces were recovered, to be reused by those in my clan as better equipment. This foray was no different, with a great many spoils to be had.
Then we came to fiery giant Golemagg and we fought him. After a hard battle, we downed him and his hounds. And as my reward for helping in the batlte, my guildmates withdrew from his corpse the Mageblade, which they presented to me with a smile. Even in looking at it one could tell it's craftmanship. Standing near it I could feel the energies becoming more focused. I knew without knowing that the magics around this would focus my casting so it was more powerful and more deadly.
I could not refuse the gift, as I was the only one left who could wield it. It would have caused too much strife to say no thank you...I'll stay with my staves and my wands and oh, by the way, please get that thing the hell away from me.
But I wouldn't grasp the hilt to feel the weight and I wouldn't test the balance. A fellow mage did it for me and declared it to be excellent in both areas.
They looked at me curiously as I studied it, and somehow it became decided amongst them that I was simply overwhelmed by the magnitude of the gift. It's okay Kae, they said, we want you to have this. You've done well and it will help you. In helping you it will help us.
How can I not help them? They are my family. They sheltered me from my first stumblings off of the Echo Isles and took me to the dark places where no soft man or woman should ever have to go. They have helped in my training and put faith in me. It is my duty to serve them with honor, and with the best of my talents and the best of armor and weaponry as they have served me. I gladly took up this bond.
So I resolved all of this mess the only way I could. I had my fellow mage sheath it for me in the midst of several leather frogs on a belt and had him put it on me. I feigned ignorance as to how to put one on, so that his hands had to fly about my waist with the buckles and straps until it was properly affixed and hanging there, glowing faintly at my left. Even through robe and pants I felt its weight there. And then I requested that they peace-tie it for me so that it would stay in place and be unable to leave its sheath.
This request was also greeted with a bit of confusion, but I waved it off saying I had no skill with swords and I would hurt more than I helped in attempting to draw it in battle. Peace-tying it made more sense. And they agreed that this made sense, at least until I had some training in it. I had my fellow mage double tie the hilt and the tip so that it could not leave the sheath without being cut free by a dagger.
Don't worry Kae, they joked, we won't mind light stab wounds while you're training with it. We[ll spar with you and we have skilled healers. And I smiled at them quietly and gave a chuckle so that I might play along. Somehow I think they sensed I have no intention of training with this. It will simply hang there at my hip, its force solidifying my casting. Like an unwanted mongrel that follows you wherever you go because you showed it kindness in a moment of weakness.
I carry it for my tribe, but I will not touch it for my father. It feels like the tremendous weight of too many promises hanging there.

~In her twenty-third season, full moon of the sixth month.
~Better a cruel truth than a comfortable lie.~ (Edward Abbey)

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