Sunday, March 05, 2006


Being newly inducted into the Night Pride, Aurynn and Valentyne had sent a reply to one of their new guildmates, Valentia Marshall. Valentia had kindly left a notice at the Guild Hall, announcing she would assist newcomers in quests if they so chose. So they had replied saying that they would definitely appreciate some help with a quest to weaken the stronghold the Dark Iron Dwarves had dug in for themselves near the Thandol Span in the Wetlands.

Valentyne and Aurynn stood behind the barricades, listening to cross fire, idly watching the horizon, awaiting for their mentor to appear.

“I think I see her, Val,” she put a hand on his arm. “Is that her, do you suppose, running this way?”

Valentyne gazed at the figure coming toward them, and they saw her wave to them and smile. “So it would seem,” he replied, and didn’t mention what was in his mind, that it looked like his Aurynn was coming toward them, yet here was Aurynn beside him. The two of them got up, and looked at each other, then back at Valentia. The couple walked slowly up to her, as she slowed her pace and met with them some distance from the barricade.

Aurynn and Valentia stared at each other, as if gazing into a mirror. Valentyne marvelled at the sight.

“Do I need to say?” he asked looking back and forth from one to the other.

“That we look like twins?” Aurynn asked, raising an eyebrow. She was unnerved because the face that seemed to be her own, in front of her, did not raise an eyebrow.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” replied Valentia, with a bemused look on her face that seemed also to be echoed in her mirror image.

“Well, we do have to get on with the um… fighting,” said Valentyne, clearing his throat. “I would think, perhaps because you are both of the same mould, that we shouldn’t have any difficulty dispatching these Dark Iron Dwarves.”

The ladies tore themselves from watching their living reflections and focused on the task ahead.

The team seemed almost to think as one. Valentyne, a mage, distracted a Dark Iron Dwarf from patrolling with a well-aimed frostbolt. Valentia got a shadow spell ready as soon as Aurynn tensed for her own attack. Aurynn ran up and stunned the Dwarf; then Valentia let fly some devastating shadow curses, weakening him to the point where he couldn’t thwart the cold shadows seeping into his mind. Valentyne casually sauntered up while the Dwarf was in this vulnerable state, and froze him to the spot. Then all three of them reigned down a full attack until the burly fellow fell down, writhing, foaming at the mouth, eyes rolling back into his head.

“I like this pattern of attack,” called Valentyne over a blast of fire shooting from his palm. Aurynn threw a Blessing of Freedom around her betrothed, so that if he was attacked, he would not be hindered whilst whispering an incantation, and could sheep or blink out of range of an enemy’s blow.

“Perhaps we should give it a name,” suggested Aurynn, as she once again ran up and stunned another swearing and sweating Dark Dwarf. “What do you think, Valentia?” She said, raising her weapon over her head to connect with the shining little black beads that were the Dwarf’s eyes.

“How about the ‘Victor-Alpha-Victor Maneuover’!” laughed Valentia as a slippery shadow she had thrown slipped down the back of the hapless Dwarf’s neck and into the core of his mind. “Or the ‘V-A-V’, for short!”

“Or, if you mash all the letters together, you can make a ‘W’ with a cross through it,” pointed out Aurynn.. “That’s even shorter form!” She swung her mace around until it connected with the Dwarf’s pelvis. She heard and felt the satisfying crunch of bone, as well as as the softer sound of tissue crushing. A small spray of blood flecked across her face and she wiped it off.

The Dwarf, stunned and severely hobbled now, still had enough spirit in him to swing up his axe, aimed clumsily at Aurynn, who easily deflected it. Valentia sent some more nightmarish tortures into his head. Valentyne in the meantime, once again, laid ice around the vile Dwarf’s feet, so that he could not move. Aurynn finished the job by hitting the Dark Dwarf squarely in the back of the neck, effectively disconnecting him from his mind. "At least he won't have any more bad dreams," pointed out Valentia.

The trio continued to make ground, making use this ‘W’ manoeuvre. The ladies continued their conversation.

“So, I have concluded that we must be related some way,” insisted Aurynn. “But I thought all of my relatives were killed in a fire.” She danced to one side as a Dwarf suddenly charged at her just after she had dropped a final blow to her last victim.

“It appears that you may have to re-evaluate that information,” chuckled Valentyne as he temporarily sheeped the maverick Dwarf, so his loved one could drink some mana. “Where do you hail from, Valentia?”

“Well…. Let’s see,” she said, thoughtfully. The sheep had popped back into two-legged form again, so she had thrown another spell on him that nearly knocked him over. The fellow still bleated like a sheep and clutched at his eyes. Aurynn, mana replenished, ran up again and stunned him and then started pummelling the Dwarf across his back, which brought him down flat. He lay broken and beyond mending at her feet. For a moment, Aurynn leaned on the handle of her mace, listening to Valentia.

“I was originally, if my sources are correct, from Southshore. My father was killed when I was quite young, as he was drafted into the Alliance Forces and apparently killed in the line of duty. My mother was a very good herbalist and alchemist, from what I understand, but while out gathering these herbs for her elixirs and potions, something happened to her. No one knows what…”

“That’s terrible,” said Aurynn sympathetically. “The war took enough people! And Tragedy should leave well enough alone.”

“Well, I was then taken in by a friend of a friend of my mother’s,” she said, watching Valentyne take aim with some icebolts at another unwary patroller. “Who lived in Stormwind, and that was where I was looked after until I could fend for myself.”

“Really? So close to where my family lived! Near Goldshire,” said Aurynn, moving forward to meet the Dwarf coming slowly toward them. He was shivering voilently, so much so, that he couldn’t prevent the stunning blow that she delivered. Valentia again squeezed nightmares and confusion into his head, while the other two continued their deluge until there were no further signs of life from their victim. Valentia cast healing spells upon them, enveloping them in a warm womb of a light. “Of course, we had thought my older sister had died in a fire. But it was recently brought to our attention that this wasn’t the case at all. It turned out she had been raised by a lone Dwarf, out in the mountains of Dun Morogh.”

For once, the pattern was momentarily broken, as Valentia turned and looked at Aurynn with an incredulous expression on her face. Distracted by this, Aurynn stopped what she was doing as well.

“What?!” yelped Valentyne. He had not seen the two looking at each other, and he had drawn one of the enemy toward him. As the Dwarf he had lured down toward him advanced upon him much more closely than he had expected he blinked out of existence for a moment and reappeared several feet away from where the Dwarf’s axe now lay buried in the ground. “Aurynn!! Your turn!”

“Oh!” Aurynn ran up and attacked the Dwarf, blushing with shame. “I am so sorry!” She spun around and her mace came down and connected with the Dwarf’s forehead, effectly stunning him. Valentyne rushed up and froze him in his tracks. Aurynn noticed where the axe left a telling red line down his arm. She threw a healing spell upon him. Valentyne shook his head. “I won’t lose concentration again, my love,” said Aurynn.

“You look like the fellow I sheeped earlier,” laughed Valentyne. “All is forgiven! You had better pray that I don’t get distracted by you while we are in battle, My Lady.” He bowed before his betrothed.

“You are too good-natured,” said Aurynn, meekly. “Thank the heavens for that!” Then she turned her attention back to the subject at hand, heaving crushing blows upon the frozen Dwarf before her. Valentia also sent dark missiles at him, which made him hold his head and scream. “Quiet you!” admonished Aurynn and her mace hit him in the jaw, causing several teeth, and possibly bone fragments, to fly out. He obeyed, toppling into a crumpled heap. “What was the matter back there, Valentia?”

“It’s just... I can’t believe the similarities in our lives,” she said somewhat recovered. “I, too, was raised by Dwarves, although in Stormwind. However, I was not so fortunate as your sister, as I have never found a trace of my parents or other relatives…”

“Until now, perhaps,” countered Valentyne. “After this adventure, let us settle down for an ale and tale at a tavern in Menethil Harbor.”

After a lovely fight the three of them, tired but satisfied with a good night’s work, headed on the path back to town. When they reached their destination, it was nearly empty. The women found a cozy corner and got comfortable, while Valentyne went to the tavern keeper to purchase a round.

“Here you go, My Ladies,” he said, proffering stout ales to all the places at the table.
“Now, them, Valentia,” he said, pausing to put his feet up. He raised his glass to her, as did Aurynn. “Pray continue, for as a Dwarven friend of ours is fond of saying, ‘A good ale goes down best with a good tale.’ He likes to tell a lot of stories, so he tends to drink a lot. Or perhaps it’s the other way ‘round!”

“Ah, yes!” sighed Aurynn after a sip. “I can feel my muscles relaxing as we speak!”

So Valentia continued her tale...

“My past is nothing exciting or heroic but kind of sad, and full of questions. I knew my parents as little children know their parents: stories and songs that you remember… Happy times in bits and pieces… Faces that fade as the years go by with nothing to remind you of the person you knew before.

I was only 6 years old when my mother disappeared one sunny day, She had readied her basket for herb gathering as she did every morning that it was nice, and shuffled me over to Mrs. Watson’s, the widow woman whom Mama did things for in exchange for a small cottage outside of Southshore where we were staying.

We had moved alot in the last few months after Papa went away. Mama never said what happened, but little children have ears and hear a lot even if they don’t understand everything they hear.

Mrs Watson was a kindly old woman, she referred a lot of people to Mama because she was very good with herbs and potions. Mama was saving every copper she could to get us to Stormwind. She told me I had lots of cousins, and aunts and such there that I could play with and have fun with. I thought it would be grand.

Evening came quickly and Mama had not returned. Mrs Watson seemed very worried, and had sent some of the local men out to search for her, but they never found even the basket she took that morning. It was feared that a Wild Bear or even a Forsaken had come upon her in the woods, and not too much hope was given for her return.

Several weeks had gone by and she still had not returned. I appeared to have taken it fairly well except that I had not spoken or cried about it. I just went about my day doing whatever I was told but never voiced anything at all. I think I was numb and that I felt as though I was inside of a bad dream. I was holding my heart inside of me, protected in a glass chamber, and everything outside of the glass seemed to be going on without me. My movements did not even seem my own, but were someone else’s, and I was watching her and everything else, through the glass.

Mrs Watson asked a friend and a Priest, Garen Stonemaul, to see if he could find a good home for the me, since she was “not able to raise the poor girl," being advanced with age as she was. She had told Garen she knew that there was family somewhere but had no idea where she might find them since Freda Marshall had not really talked much of whom her family was, as far as names and places, but just the area of Stormwind and needing to get there. She assumed that they lived in that area, so she thought of Garen and his sister, Merna. Through the glass I could hear them speaking of me in concerned tones, and once in a while looked at me in a kindly way.

It was explained to me that I was to stay with him. I was told that Garen Stonemaul kept a nice house in Stormwind, in the Dwarven District, though he was never really there much. But his sister, Merna, took care of the house and the children that seemed to find their way to their doorstep. Merna was also a widow, and Garen had been married to the Life of a Priest. So when her husband died, also at the hands of war, he let her have the care of the house. She filled it with needy children and fed them with all kinds of wonderful food, as she was an exceptional cook.

Garen had arranged for our travel to Stormwind and on our arrival to the house, she waited outside while Garen talked to his sister. Valentia could hear plainly outside (dwarfs were never much for whispering).

"Merna, the poor lass hasn’t spoken a word since her momma’s disappearance. I fear greatly for the little lass," he told his sister.

“Well, you leaving her outside with the luggage is not going to improve her outlook either, ya lout!" the woman said and the door flew open and a very round, stout Dwarven woman came out and encircled me in her great arms and took me into the bright little home I would love and grow up in for the next 12 years. Garen, bless his sturdy soul, looked long and hard for traces of my family. He had heard mention of Auberdine, so he went there to see if-“

She paused as she watched Aurynn, sputtering and choking on her drink.

“Are you going to make it?” asked Valentia, getting up and patting her friend gently on the back.

“It’s – ahem,” Aurynn struggled to speak. “It’s just that-“

Valentyne put down his drink. “Valentia, was it Auberdine? Or was it Aberdeen?”

“Aberdeen,” said Aurynn hoarsely, as her coughing seemed to calm down. “Maybe that’s what Garen heard your mother say!”

Valentia sat back down again, and took a measured swig of her stein.

“Aberdeen! That’s my last name,” said Aurynn, excitement mounting in her voice. “What was your mother’s name?”

“Freda,” she replied. “Yours?”

“Glenavon,” Aurynn answered. “Do you remember your mother’s maiden name? Did she ever tell you or Garen?”

“I… I don’t know,” Valentia closed her eyes, trying to conjure up scenes with her mother. “I can see my mother talking to me about something in the garden at Mrs. Watson’s. But all I can see is her face and her mouth moving,” she opened her eyes, and frowned in frustration. “My memories of her are seldom of her voice; all I can remember about her speaking is a resonance, a tone, but it’s always as though I am hearing her speaking in another room through a thick metal door. There are catches of a song…” She began to hum a melody that had stayed with her somehow through the years. “I can’t remember the whole thing, of course,” she sighed. She looked up to see an astonished expression on Aurynn’s face.

“What is it, love?” asked Valentyne, leaning forward, also noticing Aurynn had turned a slightly fairer shade.

“That tune,” said Aurynn, with wonder in her voice. “It is the one that my mother sang to me when I was a child.” She hummed the next phrase of the song. “I know the words, too,” she said softly, staring at Valentia.

For a moment, all three sat there in silence, contemplating.

“My mother’s maiden name was Aisling, Valentia,” she said, breaking the spell that had fallen upon them. “Surely there must be a way to find out if that was your mother’s maiden name as well. I’m trying to think… My mother and father didn’t like to talk to me about anything with their family’s deaths… If your mother died before the fire... How old are you?”

“I think I was born several years prior to the Fire,” replied Valentia, fingers to her temples, trying to concentrate. “Because your parents were farming to grow food for the armies at around the time same time that I would guess my father’s regiment was destroyed. So Holliegh was most likely born around the time, or shortly after, my mother’s disappearance.”

“So, if that is the case, you are five or six years older than Holliegh, and then five years later I was born,” surmised Aurynn.

“That makes me at least a entire decade older than you, little cousin,” deduced Valentia.

“You would most likely have to check those theories and compare them to the records of Iron Forge, Stormwind and Southshore,” suggested Valentyne. “Now that you have a possible lead.”

“I think we have a quest, Aurynn,” said Valentia. “Something I have been trying to find out since I was a child! It feels in here,” she said, placing a hand upon her heart, “as though I am peeking through a keyhole, and I finally have, in my grasp, a key that might just fit perfectly! So many keys I have tried… So many doors I could not open.” Her eyes shimmered. She blinked as a large, warm tear fell.

Aurynn slid her chair over and plunked it right next to Valentia’s, and flung an arm around Valentia; Valentyne did the same on the opposite side. Surrounded by her new friends, Valentia saw her reflection in her cup, and thought she saw traces of a smile. She looked up at Aurynn, who was raising her drink.

“Here’s to possibilities,” she said.

“And to the destination, after a long and difficult journey,” continued Valentyne, raising his goblet to meet Aurynn’s.

“And here’s to Hope,” said Valentia, with a wide smile. Her cup connected noisily with theirs, and they all drank deeply.


The song that Aurynn's and Valentia's mothers sang to them when they were children......


(an old Gaelic Lullaby/Love song - a version of it is sung by ENYA)

I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls

with vassels and serfs at my side,

and of all who assembled within those walls

that I was the hope and the pride.

I had riches all too great to count

and a high ancestral name.

But I also dreamt which pleased me most

that you loved me still the same,

that you loved me

you loved me still the same,

that you loved me

you loved me still the same.

I dreamt that suitors sought my hand,

that knights upon bended knee

and with vows no maiden's heart could withstand,

they pledged their faith to me.

And I dreamt that one of that noble host

came forth my hand to claim.

But I also dreamt which charmed me most

that you loved me still the same

that you loved me

you loved me still the same,

that you loved me

you loved me still the same.

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