"You don't understand, we had no right!" I shrieked, and the echoes of my own too-shrill voice served only to add a mocking twist of opaque dissonance that robbed them of meaning; even logic.
Who is that shouting? mused the part of me that seemed to regard the unfolding events with bemused detachment is that me? how must I look to these people? a dry, aloof amusement accompanied the sense of disassociation, but it did not matter, none of it mattered.
Sensing his mistress' anguish, even if not fully comprehending it, Quaita huddled against my legs, his solid warmth was strangely reassuring. We fought, as we always fight that is all... The Nightsaber seemed to say, his eyes amber and reflective. If only it were so....
The Feral-One, Kestrel's face was frozen into a cold snarl of mingled grief and fury. It was no surprise to learn that this fury was directed directly at myself, but the grief ; that was focused into some inner place. The moisture within her eyes, betrayed by the cavern's harsh, azure radiance was, shockingly real.
She thinks me simply afraid—of consequence, of the Life-binder's wrath, of the Dragons' wrath— but all actions have consequence...If only it were that simple, basic fear of death, or consequence beyond death. The simplicity within such a thought is not without appeal...but no...She sheds tears, there must be more.
The Druid Anadurion was speaking, his voice patient, as one might speak to a slow, or wilful child. Listen to Kestrel said that patient voice, she knows.....
Sarama, silent yet alert, maybe even sober! Practical considerations still the focus of her attention...There may yet be enemies on our trail....
I found myself hoping that such a fight would occur, if even to provide momentary relief.
But there was more. The concept was as slick and nebulous as a shimmering fish caught in a Druid's paw... there were no words, just the sense, and the one word, ominous as a thundercloud. Any attempt to put it into words would take a sublime concentration currently beyond me. In amidst the turmoil, only one word surfaced.
Could they see it? I could not give voice to these looming thunderheads, there were no words of explanation, it was more like....
Kestrel would know all about that. Such was her nature.
Did she sense it also, but her tears were carving different tracks? The anguish that comes with necessity? In that moment, physical proximity between us meant little. We were literally oceans apart, both riding towering crests of grief but not connecting, our emotions causing a barrier that worked against us both.
And was this petulant, scared child that Kestrel observed as much a real part of me as the aloof onlooker?
I thought If only I could make her understand,of course there is fear! Of course I am afraid! But at this moment I would welcome the Life-binder's burning wrath upon me. It would seem as a relief
The Great Red Dragon's corpse, it's primal energies, and furious heat of existence now extinguished for ever, offered no solutions. Even the bitter consolation of us having been instrumental in ending her torment was as hollow and meaningless as the artificial, crystalline, and arcane-forged forest that we had fought our way through to get here.
The blue marks upon her collar stood out like beacons. Rings of captivity, like a ghastly branding mark speaking of (Abomination!) captivity. Speaking of terrible necessities that should not ever have come to pass.
I fought to suppress the maelstrom within me. Clamouring for words, with which to explain the wordless sense of wrongness that howled within. Words to somehow bring cohesion and understanding of the consequences of our actions, but there was nothing.
"We had no right" I repeated, and it was, in truth, all I could think of to express this wrongness. But it was a lie.
We had every damned right, and, in fact, this was (I realised with sudden clarity) part of the very thing which tore at my mind.
It was too easy, far too easy. But where does it stop?
What had I seen in those fleeting moments? Did it even have a name?
A sudden,, fleeting memory of a human companion, once a member of my order. His face, a dappled moon-shadow, broken into into complex layers the long grass that masked us from the nearby Orc encampment
"If I can't dance, then it aint a party" the human had said, though I could no longer remember the exact context of the strange comment.
I thought: We are being drawn into a dance, at last, and have no choice but to guess the steps.
I shook my head, the human was long-dead, his body most likely cast into whatever fires burned to fuel the Betrayer's armoury. The past is mute and unchangeable, but it seemed that even the present could not be shaped. just steps in a dance?
The counter-accusations, Kestrel's snarling fury, mixed with the Druid's tired, sorrowful explanations were are remote as wind seen from a window of glass.
Seeing it, but not being touched by it.
Could I not see? could I not see the marks? why was I obstinately refusing to see?
"Then tell that to the dragon queen," replied Kestrel, her voice suddenly quieter quietly, wiping her blurred eyes. "I will tell her different. Will tell her she sang."
In that moment, I was gripped by a sense of loneliness - an isolation so profound that to even consider it for a moment was to risk being unmanned, tore through me. But the emotion, so primal, and yet so alien, and immediately despised as self pity, was forced down, there to stagnate like stale wine.
Who had heard the song? Did it even matter if The Cenarion Guardians had stood witness? And even beyond that, I had blocked my mind and ears to The Dragon's Death Song; refusing to be a part of the tapestry, as if, by force of will, I could have changed the course of that torrent.
When, eventually, more words came, they were choked-sounding, harsh as a crow in my own ears.
"I will travel to the Dragonblight, I will seek out the Life-binder and tell her what we have done"
I will pay the debt, I will seek out the steps of the dance
"It may be that I will not survive the meeting; if so, then choose a leader from among our order as seems best to you"
"And I will tell her different" Kestrel repeated, her voice implacable.
I knew in that moment, that nothing could prevent this, Kestrel would be there regardless of my actions. At this moment, she seemed perfectly capable of physically hindering me.
But it also seemed pre-ordained, for me to, at least, attempt the journey alone.
Having made up my mind, I decided to waste no further time. I could sense the others behind me, azure, twilight shapes against a window of ice and snow. Sevarina waited, gentle and patient huddled closely amidst the others' riding sabers.
"I have not felt this much sorrow since I learned of my sister's death at the hands of Kael'thas" I whispered to those dwindling shadows, but was unsure if they heard my words. Sevarina waited.
Let them consider how my youth—and lack of centuries of experience—has driven me toward youthful, and reckless fear for my our safety I thought.
And in a way it might even serve, my mere eight hundred years of life upon this world had often been seen by my former Elders as a boon, a fresh and youthful angle upon ancient problems...but it could also be a stick to beat me with
The young High Warden, so inexperienced and unsure of her command, but headstrong with it! Such a dangerous and volatile combination
My command (such as it was) was not the issue here. To lead, one required a direction and destination. I now had both, though I might rue it bitterly before the end.
As I rode, I found myself contemplating the Dragon's Death Song. I had refused to be part of it, refused even to listen! The reasons for this were veiled and only partially understood; but now, I found myself composing a new song, in honour of her, for, ultimately she had triumphed over Malygos, though at terrible cost.
Haltingly, I sang the lines as they occurred to me, and it was a fierce chant of victory over Malygos and his brood, a song of resilience and steadfastness. It was all I could give her - as one who had taken so much away.
At that point, the tears came, and I was able to allow myself a brief, but harrowing luxury. Grief and sorrow for the life of a Red Dragon, whose name was not even known to me—yet whose terrible charge upon those facing her could not be denied—though it began a dance whose steps came at a terrible cost.
The removal of an ancient House of Dragons, eradication of an entire Flight?
Elune herself would weep!
But, as I was ultimately sure, the Life-binder would tell me, the alternative was worse. This then, was the drumming, staccato rhythm that would accompany the terrible dance.
I considered then, that no matter the depths of my own sorrow, the sorrow of the Mother of the Red Dragonflight, the Life-Binder, Alexstrasza, would be so much more than any mortal could comprehend. The thought brought me no comfort at all.
Yet the Life-binder would do what needed to be done, I could no no less.
The tears I had shed, left me like a cold, empty shell, but strangely cleansed. A strange clarity and sharpness seemed to encompass everything in my field of vision.
With Quaita loping easily beside me, I prompted Sevarina for greater speed. The bitter wind whipped my cloak around me, black against a backdrop of freezing white, the sound of the saber's pads crunching cleanly against the hard-packed snow.
Above my head, the shifting, sky-lights that bled ember, orange pipes of radiance against the ink-black Northern sky danced as if in counterpoint to the steps I had chosen to undertake.