Homecoming

A young holy paladin from the Agrent Crusade returns to her home in Silvermoon City for a few days after a long and brutal campaign in Northrend. As she struggles to come to terms with what has happened over the last two years new events are taking place that will once again change her life forever.

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2. Confidant

While walking the streets of the bazaar, Meril saw black puffs of smoke rise from a building in the distance.  It was the blacksmith and she decided to take a look at his newly made Sin’dorei blades.  While she herself rarely used swords anymore and preferred a good one-handed mace at her side, she was still fascinated by the detail and care of craftsmanship that went into each and every blade she looked at.  Her crusader armor and weapon seemed rather plain in comparison to their beauty, but they had served her well when she needed them.

 

“Maybe Nariel running off was a good thing”, Meril said to herself as she picked up a small blade and walked to the counter believing that her sister would never have set foot in such a place.  She had kept one hidden inside her boot but lost it while in Northrend.  Besides serving as a replacement it would be a little piece of home that she could carry with her.  She handed some gold coins to the blacksmith and smiled before placing the blade in her bag.

 

She continued down the street until some children bumped into her running out of an open door.  They all had new toys in their arms and were so excited that they never saw her until it was too late.  She smiled as they apologized and ran off with their prized possessions.  The toy store was a place that she had never gone to very often as a child.

 

Looking through the large window she saw more children inside and began to wonder how her life might have been if she spent her days similar to her sister, playing instead of training with her father.  As soon as she could lift a blade, Meril insisted on being taught how to use it and she gave up her childhood so she could become strong and protect those in need.

 

To her frustration she was never nearly as good with weapons as her father had been, but as she grew older her abilities to wield the light and heal others became stronger.  When she was old enough and had her family’s blessings she began her paladin training in Hearthglen.

 

She continued to walk around glancing into other various shops until her feet began to hurt.  While her brown leather shoes were usually comfortable enough, they didn’t give her the same support as the plate boots she had grown accustomed to wearing.  She found an empty bench to sit on and leaned over to rub her foot when a shadow appeared on the ground over her. She stopped to look up and standing before her was her childhood friend, Thalion.

 

“You’re finally home, Meril!”

 

“Thalion!” she said as she jumped up and gave him a warm hug.  Moments later they sat down next to each other.

 

“So…  How have you been?” he asked.  “It’s been what, nearly two years since I last saw you?”

 

“Yes, If I recall, the last time we saw each other was when I was leaving for the ships heading to Northrend.”

 

Thalion had a grim look on his face.  “I’ve heard stories about what happened there, Meril.  Stories that I hoped weren’t true but deep down I knew they were.  We were all very worried about you, what was it like?”

 

She sat there for a moment wondering how to answer him.  He was her best friend and she told him everything as a child, but she was worried if he knew what really happened to her that it would only upset him.  Her emotional scars had not yet healed and she was reluctant to talk about it with anyone, but she decided that he deserved to know and hoped he would take it well.

 

“The first year I didn’t take part in that much actual combat,” she began.  “I mostly tended to the wounded at various camps where I was needed.  The further we pushed into Northrend the worse it got.  When we began to march towards the citadel the second year I requested a transfer because I had to get away from those tents.  So many would die no matter what we did to help them and I couldn’t stand being around it anymore.  I’m not so sure that was a good idea looking back…”

 

She lowered her head and began to stare into her lap so Thalion couldn’t see the deep sadness in her eyes.  “They placed me with a small group as their healer and for the most part everything went well for a few months.  Then we were given orders to find a missing supply caravan that contained resources we desperately needed for the front lines."

 

She paused for a moment.  “I can’t recall all that much around the time this happened, but I remember it was the middle of the night when we finally found them, and they were already dead.  They…  They  had placed the bodies in a pile instead of taking them and set them on fire.”

 

She was shaking now.  “My god, the smell, Thalion, I can still feel it burning in my nostrils.  And then they came out of nowhere.  We didn’t stand a chance.  We fought back as best we could but there were just so many of them…”  She had to stop and choke back her tears.

 

“I…  I tried so hard, Thalion, I really did, but I just couldn’t save anyone.  All I remember after that was something hitting me from behind and falling to the ground.  The back of my head felt hot and the pain was so unbearable that I couldn’t move and I knew I was going to die like the others had.  The sky was so clear that night and I was able to see the stars.  They were so beautiful and I was happy that I could look at them one last time.  Then everything starting going dark and I heard a voice in my head saying that my body would be raised to kill the living and all the ones I loved.  It was…  It was so horrible…”

 

Thalion sat there completely still.  He was stunned by what he was hearing.

 

“I don’t know how,” she continued, “but I woke up around a week later and was told that only a few of us had survived.  Another unit that was larger and more heavily armed had found us and managed to push them back.  I guess I was one of the lucky ones they were able to reach in time.  When I was strong enough to walk I joined the offensive on the citadel and then stayed behind to help clean up the remaining scourge.  We didn’t get back until just a few weeks ago.”

 

“I had no idea, Meril…” Thalion said softly.  He was completely shocked over what she had told him.

 

She lowered her head even more.  It was simply too much for her to handle and she tried desperately to forget.  The thought of being forced to harm the very people she cared for chilled her to the bone and the horror of being forced to end the lives of those she loved in such a terrible way made her feel as if her heart was about to explode.  Thalion gently held her hand in an attempt to comfort her.

 

“So…” she said looking up at him while forcing herself to smile, “what have you been doing since I left?”

 

He paused for a moment because his life the past few years seemed so very insignificant to him considering what she had been through.  He turned his head to the side and looked away, unable to give her an answer.

 

She now looked upon him with her eyes showing how sad she truly was.  She had never seen him act this way before as he was always so strong and now she felt guilty for making him question himself as he clearly was.  “I’m sorry if I’ve upset you, Thalion.  I shouldn’t have told you that…”

 

“No, no, it’s not your fault.”  He turned back to face her.  “Two years ago I made a poor decision because I was angry and I was hurt.  I let my feelings get in the way instead of trying to convince you to stay.”

 

“You knew my mind was made up and that you couldn’t change it,” she said.  “Not even my mother or sister could have.  I understood the risks when I left and I have no regrets.”

 

“I know if I had asked you not to go that you would have gone anyway.  I know once your heart is set, for better or for worse that there’s no changing your mind, Meril.  But I could have at least tried…  Or have gone with you.”

 

She could not believe what he just said.  Thalion had always been so strongly against the idea of going to Northrend and made it very clear that a war was the last thing he would have ever supported, let alone fought in.  “You can’t mean that”, she told him.

 

“Yes I do, I should have been there by your side and I wasn’t because I was too damned stubborn!”

 

“I know you always looked out for me when we were young and that you saved me more times than I can remember, but this is different!”  She was starting to get upset.  “I trained and prepared for this most of my life and I knew very well when I left there was a good chance that I would never come back alive!  I was at peace with my decision then and I still am right now.  I don’t need you charging to my rescue anymore!”

 

“You were never prepared, Meril,” he snapped back.  “Not as a child and certainly not for what you’ve just been through.  There isn’t anything in this world that can prepare you for that!”  He spoke with such anger in his tone that it startled her.

 

“I’m… I’m sorry…  I didn’t mean to upset you again,” she said lowering her head once more.

 

“No, I’m the one who should be sorry, not you.  I’m being selfish.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“You knew how upset I was when you told me that you were going to fight the scourge that I almost didn’t come to say goodbye on the day you left.  I’ve been so angry with you for leaving because I missed you so much always fearing the worse.  Then here you are two years later sitting on a bench like nothing ever happened and telling me you nearly died out there.  But now that I think about it I was never angry with you, only with myself.”

 

“Thalion,” she said deeply regretting that she told him the truth.

 

“The first day we met I somehow knew I was meant to watch over you.  While I never would admit it, your strong dedication was something I really admired and why I always supported you.  But you just kept getting into more trouble than you could handle like the time you ran right into that dragonhawk nest!  I was more than happy to come save you, but you would get so angry with me, Meril, screaming that you hated me and to mind my own business.”

 

“I really did hate you for that,” she said with a teasing grin.

 

“I know,” he laughed.

 

“Why are you telling me this?”

 

“Because I might never have this chance to again.  I want to say that you’ve meant more to me than you’ll ever know and I knew that you could take care of yourself most of the time.  I just couldn’t stand the idea of seeing you hurt.  But I just couldn't get over my anger.  That’s the real reason why I didn’t follow you two years ago and I regret it more than anything.”

 

“I…  I never knew you felt this way before.  I’m sorry I worried you so much.”

 

“You have nothing to be sorry for.  I should have told you years ago but was afraid you’d turn me away and I didn’t want to risk our friendship.  I just can’t hide my feelings any longer and I wanted you to know.”

 

“I don’t know what to say,” she said.  He had opened his heart to her and she was afraid of hurting him.  She cared for him dearly and began to wonder if her feelings were becoming stronger than she realized.

 

The clock in the bazaar began to chime and Meril anxiously stood up.  “I’m late, I should have been home nearly an hour ago!”

 

“How long until you have to go?”

 

“Only for a few more days and then I have to head back.  Something about a new cult that has them concerned.  I didn’t really hear much.”

 

“How about we get together this evening and continue catching up?” he asked while taking her hand.

 

“I’d like that,” she said with a shy smile.

 

“Then I’ll see you soon,” he said smiling back at her.

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