The Kaldorei woman stood, silent, in the doorway of the house. It was nearly unchanged, despite the years since she had been there last. The dwarf who rented it had not kept it up well. He had added his own…unique decor to the place, but left most of it as it was. Taking a deep breath, she stepped inside. She loosened the sapphire blue cloak about her, lowering her hood to reveal a head of shining silver hair.
The center of the room held the two high back chairs. How many conversations did they have, laughing, smiling, in their own world here in this underground city? A tear crept its way down her cheek as she turned her gaze from it. To the left sat his desk, surrounded by jars of inks and now crumbling herbs. A half-finished inscription still sitting in the center, with a pile of scribbled notes scattered around it. Her breath caught in her throat as she turned and walked upstairs.
Her soft white skirt swirled around her ankles as she ran her fingers along the end of the bed. In her mind, she could hear him softly snoring, snuggled up in the deep red blankets he was so fond of. Her heart thrummed against her chest, threatening to burst through as the memories flooded into her. She dropped to the floor and wept.
When the tears no longer came, she wiped off her nose and slowly stood. As she moved back down the stairs, she felt a compulsion. It was foolish and pointless, but she could not shake it. She crossed to his desk and lifted up a piece of fresh parchment. Selecting a quill, she cleaned it off and turned to the inks. The colors held specific properties. Gave them unique power when combined with the right runes to create scrolls of power. None of that mattered right now. Her hand fell on a bottle of Lion’s Ink. The golden color shone in the glass bottle. She sat down, staring at the page for a long while before slowly dipping the quill and putting it to the paper.
My dearest Foro,
I don’t even know why I am writing this. I went to your house in Ironforge. It was so quiet. Peaceful. I know you are gone, but my heart still searches for you. Your beautiful inks were laid out, ready for your work. I chose this one to write to you. The color of your eyes flows onto the paper.
I am going to Karazhan. Maybe the collection there holds some secrets still.
Why could she still not say it? She still loved him, even though he was dead now four years. Why did she even write this? The evening bell tolled, breaking her train of thought. She shook her head. Carefully folding the page, she set it in the center of his desk. Wrapping her cloak around herself again, she turned and left, her quiet sobs echoing in the stone halls.
Silence hung heavy in the dark basement room, made heavier by the cobwebs and dust on every surface. The space was empty, or should have been. But today a cloaked figure stood in one corner, beside a flagstone flipped over to reveal a dark passage through which he had entered. The figure looked around, confused. The place looked abandoned. So much for surprising an old friend, he thought. He made his way up the stairs, searching the small house. Like the basement, it seemed abandoned. Looking out a window, he could see the Forlorn Cavern. It was early afternoon. The Cavern was never the busiest part of Ironforge, but he didn’t want to be seen. Accordingly, he sat on the floor in one corner of the gloomy house and waited.
Night fell. He listened carefully as the sounds of the city faded. The criers declared the night watch, and the metallic thuds from the forge came fewer and far between before stopping for the night. Finally satisfied, the cloaked man left the empty house and took to the streets.
He walked swiftly, keeping an eye out to be sure he was not seen, despite the fact that his whole body was cloaked and a voluminous hood was pulled low over his face. He left the Forlorn Cavern via the tunnel to the Mystic Ward. Once in the Ward, he hugged the shadows, crossing the great space until he came to a familiar door. His hand hesitated on the handle. He had to remind himself that as far as the world knew, he’d only been gone 4 years. He chuckled mirthlessly to himself as he swung the door inward. Stepping inside, he closed the door behind him and pushed back his hood. Revealed was a pale, severe face, deeply scarred. Covering his eyes was a red cloth. Small horns jutted from his brow.
The demon hunter twitched slightly, his ruined eyes flaring for a moment, and old candles around the house flared to a flickering, if uneasy, life. He scanned the room, frowning slightly. He’d let that dwarf use the house for years, and it showed. Empty ale casks and taxidermy were in abundance. Sighing, he walked towards his old workspace. What he saw there froze him.
On his old desk, a single folded page sat amid the bottles of inks and desiccated herbs. Unlike the bottles – and everything else in the house – no dust coated it. His nostrils flared, and for the first time he detected a faint, but never forgotten scent. Shaking, he reached for the parchment, flipping over the folded side. The golden ink glinted in the guttering candlelight. As he read the words, his heart hammered in his chest, and his long pointed ears were filled with a sound like the sea in a storm. Shadows crept at the edges of his arcane vision, leaving nothing visible but the page with its golden lettering.
For a long time he stood there. An hour, or a even day, even he could not guess. Feelings long thought buried threatened to overwhelm him, and his mind through it all was a whirling chaos of contradictory paths. Eventually he came to his senses. Somehow in the interim, he’d let himself slump into one of the old high backed chairs. His thoughts began to take on some semblance of order once more.
Leave her. She has moved on with her life.
If she had, she’d not have written that.
She lives, that was the goal. Seek her out and you fail in your purpose.
The goal was a fool’s errand. Set it aside.
If I abandon that, why did I do it all?
For her. Read the letter again. She despairs. You know what you must do.
Standing suddenly, he snatched the letter from the desk. Folding it several times, he tucked it into a belt pouch and fled the dusty rooms, quenching the candles with a thought.
The library was quiet and still. She had cleared away the ever present mana wyrms in an attempt to focus on the books she had gathered. With a sigh, she lifted the top tome, shocked by its weight. Khadgar had been surprised at her visit, but nonetheless, he allowed her access to the books as usual. Over the last two years, they had found an understanding that she needed to study and read. And that she needed to be allowed a degree of freedom. She absentmindedly braided her hair as she read, stopping occasionally to take notes.
A quiet step came from across the room. She thought nothing of it. The Guardian likely came in to retrieve something for himself. She kept to her work, eyes down in concentration. That’s when a voice broke the stillness around her.
“H….hello,” the deep voice called softly.
For her part, she nearly leapt out of her skin. Looking up, she was taken aback. Before her stood a man, a demon? No. One of the demon hunters, recently released from their prison. He looked at her, face full of apprehension. “Who let you in here? Who are you? What do you want?” she demanded. This person did not belong here, she knew that for certain. She stood, moving toward him slowly. It was unwise to anger one such as him. But she felt the need to protect the library as well.
His face fell and he let out a sigh. “You don’t know me, do you?” She shook her head, silent. He chuckled, mirthless. He sounded disappointed, but unsurprised. “Of course not. Why would you?” His voice was quiet, almost pinched.
She took a few steps closer, confused. Pushing a lock of silver hair from her face, she looked at him carefully. Trying hard to look past the obvious, a picture began to form in her mind. The scars crossing his arms, his chest…his face. Her face lost all hint of anger. It couldn’t be. It simply isn’t possible. She reached out gingerly, her fingertips carefully brushing the scars below his right eye. He winced slightly, but held his place. Barely audible she said, “Gods…it can’t be…” She shook her head trying to clear it before looking again. “It…Foro?”
Forosuul swallowed and nodded jerkily. His voice a bare whisper, “It’s me…”
At his confirmation the tears came, running down her cheeks almost immediately. “How? How can you…you were dead! They…”
Forosuul shook his head slowly. “No. They lied. Faked it. They did the same to me.”
Tindomiel placed a hand on the side of his face. Forosuul flinched. Very softly, she asked, “Are you really here? Or am I hallucinating again?”
“I’m here…for what it’s worth,” he whispered gently.
Tindomiel blinked a few times. After a moment she managed to ask,“Foro…you…what happened to you?” He sighed and started to speak again, but stopped, uncertain. She reached up and started to pull the strip of cloth from his eyes.
Forosuul put his hand up quickly, holding the cloth in place. “Don’t…it’s not pleasant”
“Let me see you….”
Tindomiel looked at the floor. She released the cloth, her hand falling to her side. Forosuul sighed, his shoulders slumping, he let his hand fall, pulling the red cloth from his ruined eyes. Sickly fel-light flooded out, throwing long shadows on the stone floor. Tindomiel looked up slowly. Her eyes squinted slightly at the fel fire’s glow, but she didn’t look away. Tears formed and hissed into nothingness the moment they are born. He reached a hand up and almost touched her face. “Never with two eyes before….” he whispered.
She nodded and gently replied, “It’s all right.” Forosuul traced a taloned finger along her cheek, the scaly texture leaving a rough white mark as it passed. Tindomiel leaned into it, unflinching.
Forosuul stepped back, the stern expression returning. “My apologies. I should not take liberties.”
“Don’t…please…don’t pull away,” she pleaded.
“It’s just been so very long….”
Her voice softened, “I know.”
Forosuul shook his head, whispering, “Much, much longer for me, Tindomiel.” Tindomiel looked up, confused and he sighed heavily.
“It’s been four years, Foro. Four years without you.”
Forosuul laughed bitterly, only to stop at the hurt expression on her face. “Ten thousand.”
“Ten…but..that’s not possible!”
“Most of it locked up with a madman.”
Tindomiel’s knees failed her and she dropped to the floor. Her eyes went wide, darting from one thing to the next. Her mind raced as she looked up at him, then back to the room. Quiet whispers escaped her lips, “This is another dream…Now I know it is. I’m dreaming of him again. Go away….no…I can’t…” She covered her head with her arms, desperately hoping she is not losing her mind. Again.
Forosuul knelt before her speaking gently, “This is no dream, Nightingale. But I will leave if you wish.”
Tindomiel looked up, her eyes searching his face. Without a word, she threw her arms around him. “Never again…don’t you dare. I could not bear it again.” Forosuul sighed and slowly wrapped his arms around her. “I should have said it, all those years ago. But I was waiting. And then you were gone.” Forosuul looks confused. Tindomiel says, “Gods above, are you still so oblivious?” All Forosuul could do is blink. “I love you, Forosuul. I have for a very long time.”
His face grew pained, unable to say what he truly felt. He responded quietly, “You cannot love one such as I, Tindomiel.” He released her, pulling back from her grasp.
“Isn’t that my choice?”
“I am not the man you knew.”
“What is within me now makes me unfit for your company,” Forosuul slumped to the ground. “This was a mistake, I should not have come…” he whispered. Forosuul pulled a folded letter from his waistband. “I found this in my house…and I couldn’t stay away….”
Tindomiel reached out for it, her hand shaking. “You found it…gods…I don’t even know why I wrote it. It was just something I needed to do.”
Forosuul nodded absently. “Tindomiel, you do not know the things I have done.”
“No, I don’t. But I know you. I know who you are.”
Forosuul looked at her sharply, “You think so?” Tindomiel nodded. Forosuul laughed bitterly. “I went to Edre’thas, Tindomiel, looking for you. You were supposed to be there, doing research.” Her face fell. He continued, “When I got there, you were missing, and they had a story ready for me. They said you’d been killed when Satyrs broke into the Atheneum. Your family had done a good job making it look real. Even paid off some of the old highborn to lie to me.”
Tindomiel’s face twisted, anger growing. Her voice came out a hiss, “They pulled me out of there…showed me your bloody clothes. Told me you’d been attacked in the night while you slept. I was forced to go with them.”
Forosuul nodded. “I stalked the catacombs there for days, killed every Satyr I could find, trying to find out what happened. Finally I snapped.” Tindomiel looked at him, pained. “I got a bright idea. I would stop what happened to you. By making sure you never met me.” He paused a moment, his voice growing quiet. “By making sure I didn’t exist.” Tindomiel mouth fell open, she started to say something, but it was apparent she didn’t know where to begin. “So off I went, to the Caverns. And there I found me a young bronze dragon. I made off with him, tied him up in a basement somewhere and went to work on him. Took a while, but eventually I convinced him to use his power over the time stream and send me back. He had the last laugh, I guess….”
Somewhat horrified she asked, “Send you back…To when? Where?”
Forosuul laughed bitterly. “Way back. The War of the Ancients.”
Tindomiel’s eyes flew open wide. “What?!” Forosuul nodded. “But that’s…Foro you couldn’t possibly have…” She shook her head. “That wouldn’t accomplish anything! I wasn’t even born yet!”
“I figured if I could make enough things different, I could change everything. You’d never meet me, maybe I’d never exist. Then you’d be ok…”
A tear rolled down each of her cheeks. “But Foro…no…I…you were the only one who…” Her voice trails off as she looked down at her hands, trying to understand it all.
“People who get close to me die. That’s all I know. So I wasn’t going to let it happen.”
“So what happened? Because I am here, and so are you. “
Forosuul sighs, “I met him. Illidan.”
Tindomiel looked a little scared for the first time. That name sent chills through her, despite having helped in his downfall years ago. “Him. You met…Him.”
Forosuul nodded. “I saw what he could do, and I said to myself….that. I need that. That’s a lever that could move the world….”
Tindomiel swallowed hard. “So you…chose, this?”
Forosuul nodded, “Illidan himself trained me. Figured out how to change me, gave me my tattoos.” He said it in such a simple matter of fact way, that she was almost stunned at the lack of emotion attached.
She sighed. “Then I suppose it’s a good thing I have been here…studying what I have.” Forosuul looked at her curiously. “You aren’t the only one who has changed, Foro.” He shook his head, confused. Tindomiel rose up off the floor, thin tendrils of shadow beginning to creep around her arms. After a moment, they surrounded her, wrapping her completely. Forosuul’s eye sockets went very wide. He stood and stepped back. “Mother wanted a priestess. She got one.”
“I left that part of me when I had nothing left in this world. Continuing that path was too painful.” Forosuul just stared, watching the flow of shadow with rapt attention. “After two years, I was dragged from my rooms and forced to finish what I started before we met. I had neither the strength, nor will to fight it.” Tindomiel raised a hand and twisted the shadow around, creating long wisps that reached toward him. “Recently, Khadgar allowed me to spend some time reading here. If he knew what I was studying, he probably wouldn’t have.”
“Tindomiel…I…I am sorry for this. I am sorry they did this to you, but….It changes nothing…I am a monster.”
“No, you aren’t.”
“I always was, Tindomiel, you just never knew. But now…I am a monster carrying an even worse monster.” Tindomiel’s face hardened. “You are not safe around me.” Forosuul stiffened. He grabbed her hand, placing it forcefully on one of the horns erupting from his head. “Feel that?” His tone was agitated, but bore no malice.
Tindomiel tugged it toward her own face. “So you have horns. I don’t care. If you are trying to scare me away, it’s not going to work.”
Forosuul grabbed her other hand, placing it on his shoulder where the scales were bony and coarse. “Do you know what these are?”
“Extra armor,” she replied, almost smug.
“These are the demon coming out.”
Trying another tactic, “If I am understanding your story correctly, you have had that demon inside you for ten thousand years?” Forosuul nodded. “And in ten thousand years, he has not gained control?”
Forosuul tilted his head to one side, “It is a constant struggle.” With a cruel grin, he morphed into a demon, nearly doubling in height. “One day that could happen Tindo, and never go back.”
“And until it does, I will be at your side.” Forosuul scowled. Tindomiel said, “You really don’t understand do you?…I guess this never was for you, what it was for me.”
Forosuul looked hurt. “That is unfair.”
“Then give me the chance to be with you.” She whispered, “To have you back, no matter what has changed is a gift I could never have dreamed of.”
“I am trying to save you, Tindo. That is all I was ever trying to do! Every time you urged me into your bed and I slept on the floor. All I was trying to do was save you from me!”
“That makes no gods damned sense!”
“I was dangerous even then, and now it is a thousandfold worse.”
She snapped, tears streaming down her face, “Stop trying to save me and just be there! With me! Do you not know you saved me before? All those years we were together, you saved me! And then you were dead! I had no one! No one to help me…I was alone again,” she shrieked. It was unintended, but he didn’t understand.
“If I saved you from them, how did they get you back? It looks like I did a pretty shitty job of it.” Forosuul sunk to the floor again. Very quietly he said, “I am a curse….”
Tindomiel waved the shadows away, and joined him on the floor. “You have been my savior. You showed me the world beyond Mire’s walls. You taught me how to hold my head up.”
“I went back to save you…and the fate would not allow it, and now, if I stay away, it is even worse, and if I stay, I could be your death….” He stared at his hands. “What gods have I so offended….”
“Somehow, I think you are far stronger than you believe yourself to be. You found me again. Please…stand at my side once more?” She looked at him, her eyes pleading. “Please stay?”
“Tindomiel…look at what I am…..” Matter of factly he said, “If you understood, you’d be running for the horizon right now.”
“If you did, you’d never be suggesting what you are now.” She countered him, not giving any ground. Forosuul scowled. “I love you, Forosuul. I have loved you for a very long time. I would not survive if you leave me again. Please, do not push me away.” Tindomiel reached a hand out to him. He sighed then reached out and took it. Her eyes filled with tears. “Gods… you are back…you are really back.”
“Am I? Is it even really me? Ten thousand years, Tindomiel…..the man you knew is long gone.”
She did her best to sound reassuring, “He’s still here. Why else would you have come?”
Forosuul sighed. “You were the reason I did all of this…” Tindomiel looked at the floor. “I found your letter…what else could I do?”
Barely above a whisper, she replied, “You could have thrown it into the fire and walked away. But you came.”
“That I could not do…”
“Just like I couldn’t leave your house without writing it,” she countered.
“We have each other back. And I for one, think that there is a good reason for it. No matter what came before, we get another chance…how can we not take it?” Forosuul looked at her, anguished. Tindomiel gently asked, “Do you trust me?”
Tindomiel smiled. “Then let me help you? Let me help you find yourself, in spite of everything that has happened.”
Forosuul made a gesture over his face. “Do you know what this really means?”
“Not fully, no. But I know you are forever committed to it.”
“Do you understand what that means?” Tindomiel shook her head. “My only purpose is to hunt down and destroy the Legion. The Illidari aren’t keen on people with outside interests. If they feel my dedication is wavering, they may hunt me down. And even if they don’t, I will be in danger at all times.”
“Then I will be at your side. I can help. I will not take that purpose from you.” Forosuul sighed. Tindomiel squeezed his hand tightly. “We used to fight side by side, you and I. We can do it again.”
He let out a small wry smile. “I am not sure if I am not getting though to you or if you just don’t care.”
“Oh, you are getting through. But when I said I cannot lose you again, I meant it. So if you mean to keep fighting the Legion, then I will fight with you.”
“I am not worth throwing away your life.”
“You are my life, Forosuul. You have been since the time we met.”
Forosuul smirked ever so slightly. “I don’t recall you being that impressed at the time.”
“I was a pain in the ass and terrified of everything around me.” She looked at him, abashed. “Forgive me? For how we started?”
Forosuul looked up at her. “Has my accent improved?”
Tindomiel barked out a laugh, truly smiling for the first time in years. “It’s getting there.”
Forosuul chuckled softly, then sighed. “You’re not going to take no for an answer.”
“Have I ever?”
“Not when it mattered.”
Forosuul smiled faintly at her.
“So…does this mean you are moving back to Ironforge?”
“I suppose so. The Illidari only just reawakened, we are still figuring out the details.” He stood abruptly, his tone becoming serious again. “The Illidari have a base of operations on Mardum, a commandeered Legion ship.” Tindomiel rose, nodding.
“Are you expected to be there?” / “I am expected there.”
“Do something for me.”
“What? Anything, everything…”
“Think very carefully about everything I have said. Very carefully, Tindomiel, promise me.”
“I will. Don’t expect my answer to change though.” Forosuul gave her an exasperated sigh. Tindomiel smiled. “There he is.” He stifled a laugh, trying to look stern. She giggled.
“I will return to Ironforge in three days. If you are not there, I will shutter the house permanently, and I will never return.”
“I will be there. I promise you. Be safe. As safe as you are able?” she offered, unsure what the right choice of words is.
“Safe is no longer part of my world.” Tindomiel grabbed onto him, squeezing with all of her might. Forosuul slowly wrapped his arms around her, awkwardly.
Tindomiel smiled into his chest. “Go. I don’t want to be the cause of upset. I will see you in three days.”
“Just think about it, ok?”
“No snap decisions.” He sighed as Tindomiel made a face. “I’m very serious, Tindomiel.”
“So am I, Forosuul.”
Forosuul sighed yet again. “Farewell, Tindomiel.”
“See you soon, Foro.”
Forosuul stepped back and bowed. Pulling a stone from his pocket, he uttered a word and began to fade from sight. She watched him until there is nothing left to see. Standing alone again in the library, she smiled. Tears rolled down her cheeks, born of pure love and joy. “I will see you again, so very soon.”