“That’s why I’m leaving, sister,” Anatheia says as she turned to face me for what felt like the first time during the entire conversation. I can tell she’s upset, that she’s holding back the tears as she speaks.
“Father won’t allow it, Ana. You’re the oldest child with a gift for the arcane, you know he has plans for you to take over as head of the house. Besides, what will you tell Vel?” I reply, a firm tone to my voice despite my little sister’s current state of mind. I don’t want her to leave and I always was the more assertive of us three girls.
“I don’t care what father wants. His training is smothering me and I feel I can do more good in Stormwind, rather than sitting safe up here in Quel’Thalas. Our allies need us; are we going to just sit up here safe behind our forests?”
I sigh. “No, of course not. But equally you need to think of the immediate ramifications of you leaving. How do you think Father will react? You know what he’s like.”
“He’s the main reason I’m leaving. It’s decided; I leave tomorrow and my bags are already packed.”
“Please reconsider. You’re going to tear the family apart over this.”
Anatheia’s expression shifted to one of anger. She tensed up, storming up to me. Is she going to punch me? No, I’ve been here before…
“You wouldn’t know, Lara! You don’t know the training he puts me through. You haven’t seen what I’ve seen; how dare you assume to know what drives this decision!” she says, shoving me back. I’m shocked, mouth agape at my little sister’s sudden outburst. I look back to her to see the tears streaming down her cheeks.
“Then why don’t you tell me, Ana? I want to help, but I can’t if you’re going to act this way!” I answer, keeping my posture non-threatening. I may be the stronger and faster of the two of us, but in her current state of mind I would not want to push her buttons any more than I apparently already have. She’s either overreacting and she’s unstable, ready to start throwing spells at the drop of a hat, or she has seen something that has changed her life for the worse.
“I-… I can’t,” she replies, stepping back again and looking at the ground. She appears to have regained some control over her emotions at least.
“Why not? I’m not against you, I just want to find a resolution to this that keeps us together as a family.”
“I just can’t, okay.” She looks up at me, sniffing and carefully wiping her eyes. “Good bye, Lara.”
I take a step forwards and reach out to pull her into a warm hug, but she disappears from where she stood, appearing outside the room before rushing off. I chase after her, but when I get to my bedroom door, she is gone.
I wake up to the feeling of raindrops on my skin. It has only just started, as I am still dry for the most part. I feel awful. There’s a sharp pain in my stomach and a dull headache pounds within my skull. I move to get up, but my hands are chained behind my back. I turn over slowly to see a chain connecting me with a hitching post and a couple of horses about five metres away; a fresh pile of horse excrement lies far too close for comfort and I roll away from it a little. There isn’t too much slack in my chains, but enough to get me away from the horse droppings. My armour is missing, as well as my weapon and holy symbol. My necklace remains tucked beneath my clothing, my mother’s family crest; her final gift to me after Anatheia and I renounced our heritage on our father’s side, gave up our titles and claim to land and decided to live with the surname of a traitor instead of a madman. I lie there on my back, wearing just my underwear, a thin tunic, thin trousers and a pair of socks, closing my eyes and asking the Holy Light to guide me. It’s cold and the rain isn’t doing me any favours, starting to get heavier and soak me through. I have no access to a mirror, but I imagine I must look like hell right now.
A few minutes pass before I hear footsteps approaching. They aren’t the heavy plated boots of an Alliance soldier and for a moment I assume the best. Perhaps it’s a fellow Horde soldier here to free me? Maybe I have concussion as I see a woman round the nearby tent and walk over. She’s human, with long blonde hair worn loose beneath a blue hood and blue, lightweight chain armour covered by the tabard of Stormwind. I lock eyes with her and refuse to look away. She walks past me and grabs the chains by the hitching post, crouching down and undoing the lock. She stands, holding the chains and wrapping them around her wrist, while pulling out a simple shortsword with her free hand. She makes her way over to me and places her chained hand on the back of my neck, pushing me forwards. I stumble a few steps, but come to a halt, staring at her over my shoulder.
“Move it,” she says calmly, poking me in the back with her shortsword. I oblige, curious where this will take me. Perhaps she is my executioner. Perhaps she is going to question me. Either way, I would like to get out of this downpour.
She takes me to the far tent and pushes me in, following shortly after.
“Sit,” she says, gesturing at the chair. I feign ignorance, turning to stare at her again and pretending I don’t understand Common.
She rolls her eyes, grabs me by the scruff of the neck and shoves me down onto the wooden chair in the centre of the tent. She then walks to the corner and affixes the chain to the piton keeping the tent in the ground. I wonder if I could pull hard enough and bring this tent down on us? It wouldn’t be especially dangerous, but it would probably get me killed so I hold off for now. I am still curious to see where this goes. Inside the tent, apart from the wooden chair I sit on, is what looks like a hastily set up makeshift desk and another chair. These Alliance soldiers probably weren’t expecting to keep prisoners, hence the very makeshift interrogation set up. Amateurs.
The woman sits opposite me. “So, you have a name, Elf?” she asks in Common.
I still pretend I do not understand.
“Don’t pretend. I know almost all of your kind understands Common, unless you’re a ten year old child which I am quite confident you aren’t.”
I still don’t respond.
The woman sighs, rolling her eyes. She stands up, picking up the chair and moving within spitting range. Wonderful; I can spit in this woman’s face as my final act of defiance if it goes that way. However, what happens next takes me by complete surprise. The woman lowers her voice.
“Fine. Let me extend you the courtesy of communicating in your own language,” she says quietly in perfect Thalassian; even her accent is on point with any well-spoken blood elf. I find myself staring in shock at the woman, as it’s a rarity to find a human who speaks our language.
“Where did you learn?” I ask, narrowing my eyes.
“No, no, that’s not how this works. I asked the first question, so I will be more than happy to answer once you have answered mine.”
I smirk. “Laralla.”
“And your family name?”
“That’s not how it works. I answered yours, so now you answer mine,” I respond with a grin. If this is going to lead to execution, I would rather just get it over with.
The woman cracks a smile, nodding. “Fair enough, Laralla. I learned from one of your kin who you cast out for refusing to resort to fel magics to feed their addictions. Now, surname?”
I nod. “Dawnsinger.”
The woman blinks at me, staring for a moment.
“What? Did I get dessert on my nose?” I ask, grinning.
“No. Now, what were you trying to achieve here? Four of you against a camp this close to Refuge Pointe?”
“I think it’s my turn to ask,” I say with a grin.
The woman shakes her head. “No. You asked if you had dessert on your nose. I happily answered that question, so now it’s back to me,” she answers with a smug grin on her face. I can’t help but smirk at her style.
“Guilty as charged. Now, my question please.”
“Simple. I was hired to kick your pampered baby squad back over the Thandol Span.”
“So you’re not official military?”
“Nope. Anyway, that’s two you owe me now, so firstly, what’s the name of the Quel’dorei who taught you our language? I’d like to know so I can pay them a visit later.”
The woman hesitated, before smirking again. “Arinella Dawnsinger. You look just like her.”
No. I refuse to accept it. Arinella Dawnsinger? That’s the same name as my mother. The mother who tried to kill my father and then fled. I thought she was dead; she had to flee through Scourge controlled lands shortly after they destroyed the Sunwell. “She’s alive?”
“From your reaction I would say my hunch was right. She is alive and well, yes. I take it you are related? The family resemblance is there.”
I narrow my eyes at the human woman. “She’s my mother. She tried to kill my father and then fled.”
“From what I’ve heard, your father is a bit of a nut-case,” the woman replied, her tone very to the point.
“You couldn’t possibly understand. Anyway, why are you asking me these questions? Aren’t you going to interrogate me for military intelligence and then take me out back and execute me?” I ask, spitting on the ground.
“Because normally I would relish in conducting an interrogation with a Sin’dorei. I hate your people.”
“But this time’s different because you know my mother, right?” I ask, rolling my eyes. “Please, spare me your f-…”
“This time’s different because this particular Sin’dorei is my sister by adoption. Arinella adopted me as a war orphan. I may hate your people, but family is important to me.”
“Then how about you let me go?” I ask, rustling the chains slightly.
“I can’t. You murdered Alliance soldiers and sister or not, you have to face justice for your actions.”
“So where do we go from here?”
“I-… I’m going to say I got everything I could from you. That you have no intel to give and the strike was orchestrated by independent agents. Your fate is in the hands of the Alliance military and that of the Holy Light.”
The woman turns away, her tough exterior melting away. I can tell she’s conflicted with the situation and not an official member of the Alliance military. A contractor? Perhaps something I can use to my advantage.
“Your name, human? I’d like to know the name of my new adoptive sister before I meet the Holy Light,” I ask, softening my voice. If I’m going to get out of here, she’s my way out, so I need her on side.
The human woman turns to look at me, the conflict clear on her face. She takes a deep breath and regains her composure. “Elise Dawnsinger.”
I open my mouth to speak, but Elise rushes out of the tent, leaving me alone, but still restrained.
At least it’s dry in here.