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Izby wanted to sleep. She did. She really, really wanted to sleep. Her lids drooped and her body ached, but she stayed awake. A candle flickered in the corner of the room on the desk. It faded and reminded Izby of fire laying itself to bed. Everything in the room wanted to sleep. Everything did. Even her. But she didn't. She sat up with paper in lap, pen in hand, writing.
Strewn across the floor, the aborted letters lay quiet. Waiting for the opportunity to request a proper burial. Izby's pen scratched the paper, tearing a hole in it. It was small, almost undiscernable, but it wasn't perfect. Her frustrations grew with her weariness. She exhaled it away, crumpling the page and tossing it to the floor with its comrades. She flexed her fingers and tossed the pen to the side, looking down at the sleeping woman beside her. The bruise that adorned her face hours before only visible as a memory. Izby rolled her neck and shoulders, feeling the aches and pops in her joints and creeks in her muscles. She dipped a claw into the inkwell to start anew.
The letter was a detailed account of what happened to break the woman's soul and inflame her emotions so that her mother, Lia, would know what to research. It was her prerogative to demand all the information and a quick set of notes were sent within seconds of the request being made. Written in proper Draenic and broken Common. It wasn't good enough anymore though and Izby wanted them in proper Common, which meant she finally had to learn it.
Previously, her broken usage had been enough to get her by and she could focus her attention on other work. Like her enchanting jobs. Hours spent pouring over the intricate runic carvings trying to understand what the precision of each carving meant. Deciphering whether or not the amount of certain dusts poured into the runes was as precise or if you simply needed to use a set amount. It was like untying a layered knot while doing the mathematic calculations that explained it. An enchantment could take weeks or months to deconstruct harmlessly.
Now, there was someone she cared about. Someone she swore to help and protect and her broken usage stood as an obstacle preventing her from understanding the verbal assaults flung at the woman. Her lack of understanding left her impotent to responding with anything more dignified than violence, she thought. That was why she had gathered every book on Common grammar and spelling and opened them around the bed to aid her in her task. She was determined to learn this forsaken language and this frustratingly simple letter was proving her undoing.
She ran a hand through her hair and pushed it back behind her ear and over her horns. Her mind came back to the violence. The fiery passion that swelled in her whenever something threatened her or those she loved. The last time it flared so brilliantly hot, she could smell blood on the edge of the marsh. The molasses blood and dirt mixture filling her nostrils with the scent of iron and acid. Her parents struggling to flee from a horde of Orcs bounding through a flock of ravagers. Eyes burning with bloodlust. Her husband, sword in hand, strode forward and struck down Orc after Orc with the graceful arcing movement of a dancer. He'd parry a blow and dodge a swinging axe. No distance separating the two that Izby could ever see, but the lack of blood suggesting it passed harmlessly. She remembered rushing foward, skin heating, an acid taste in her mouth as she howled in fury. Summoning a ball of pyromanic retaliation, she flung it over his head into the crowd of rushing Orcs and he pushed them back into it. Taking blows to his flanks to ensure their position. Nine orcs rushed him. They died. Either to his sword or her flame. She remembered running to his side and slinging his arm over her shoulder, tears streaming down her face. Body screaming with flame. She didn't even notice his flesh burning under her touch until the anger subsided so that she could smell again. That dangerous passion. The taint of being an Eredar drawn to magic. His skin darkened as he burned. Hers darkened with corruption.
It felt warm inside her, like a blanket by a hearth after spending too many hours in the snows around Kharanos. The flames caressed her soul at those moments and called to her. Embraced her. Comforted her in their violent ecstasy. She writhed at the memory and moaned. Forcing herself to calm. To let an icy resolve flood through her senses. She pictured an iceberg crashing against a wall of flame. Steam rising from it, creating a fresh scent for the air and tormenting her flesh, but the water dissipated the fire until it was gone.
Lia was right. Her reaction was caused by her taint, but Lia was wrong about why. The emotional connection to the women beside her caused her outbursts. Drove it. She couldn't be sure why but they had a bond, a common struggle that they both needed to work through. Izby needed her control back.
The woman stirred on the bed and opened lazy eyes, a distant haze in them, but they were hers. Gala opened her mouth several times, but words remained elusive and Izby put a hand to her mouth to silence her while she got up to get a pitcher of water and some cups from downstairs in the bar. When she returned, Gala pulled herself to a sitting position, knees held tight to her chest, head resting on them. Izby poured a cup and handed it to the woman, then sat down beside her on the bed in her previous spot. Gala drank the water quickly and handed it back. Her hair matted to her face with sweat. Izby placed two fingers in both the pitcher and the cup and siphoned water through herself to fill the cup for her companion. She drank it and tried to smile.
"My head hurts."
Izby formed the sentence in her mind before she spoke. Making sure that each word was in the right order before letting it come from her mouth and it resulted in them sounding even more foreign to her than her bastardization of the language.
"You suffered a powerful blow."
"Is she here?"
"No, everyone is gone. You need to go back to sleep. They will be here in the morning. You can talk to them then."
"Will you stay?"
She leaned over and placed her lips against the sweat drenched forehead and kissed it with a small burst of radiating heat and cool freshness of mint. Then Izby poured some water on small cloth and wiped Gala's brow.
"Until they pull my corpse from you, chala."
Gala smiled and slid down into the sheets and covers. Her face and hands pressed against Izby's thigh. She kissed it and sighed, warm breath bubbling on the robes. Izby ran her claws through the red locks of hair and tried to comb them smooth.
"You spoke perfectly," Gala mumbled, eyes closed. "Why?"
"It is hard to protect you when I do not understand what people say." The words felt more familiar if still awkward in her slow pronouncement.
"I'm strong. Everyone thinks..." Gala yawned. "...thinks I'm not."
"I know you are, but I will not let you share this burden alone."
The form beneath her nodded her head a fraction and began to breathe slowly again. Sleep setting back in. She wasn't sure she heard it, but Izby thought the words 'thank you' came from near her thigh. When she looked down, she saw a tear at the corner of the half-elf's eye. Izby pulled the heat from it until it froze into snowflakes and blew them away.
"Make a wish," she said, "and sleep."
Izby wrote her letter after that without flaw and she leaned her head against the wall. Her soul was tired, her body weighed hundreds of pounds more, and her eyes itched, but she still didn't relent. She saw Dolingen in the hall and asked her for a cup of coffee. Then shifted on the bed. Gala did as well until she was curled in Izby's lap like a kitten, purring as Izby stroked her hair and pulsed healing warmth and refreshing coolness through her muscles. Dolingen reappeared with the cup and handed it to Izby, who drank it slowly.
Thoughts raced through her mind, but the only one that held any weight was that sleep would be nice and that the Naaru must be watching over her, because this time. This time, she hadn't lost anyone. The fires bloomed in her once again, but this time the feeling of wickedness was gone. It was replaced by the happiness of a spring's rain or a summer evening stroll. And it was solid like steel. Resolve, she thought, and she lowered her head to hum a lullaby while she watched over her companion. No, she thought, I will not sleep. And she knew that this time, she wouldn't.
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