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Varian Wrynn:Blood of Our Fathers

by E. Daniel Arey

Varian looked at him, his mind flooded with uncertainty for so many things. The very foundations of Azeroth had recently been shaken to the core, with many of its pieces cast off or forever gone. Now, his own once-firm beliefs had somehow become tenuous. Benedictus and Jaina began to leave, but the archbishop had one last request.

"Speaking of renewal, Your Highness. I have a gift for you on this Remembrance Day—actually, for both you and the prince."

Varian sighed. "I'm afraid that I alone can receive your generosity this day, Father. My son clearly does not want to be near me."

Benedictus smiled. "Let not your heart be troubled. The Light has a way of shining through even the darkest night. Will you meet with me later today? I believe it will remedy many of your ills."

Varian was not convinced of that. "Where and when, Father? As you know, I have a very busy day."

The archbishop leaned in close and whispered the location. Varian's face grew hard as the meeting place was revealed, but after a moment, he grudgingly nodded his head.

As Jaina and the archbishop left, Varian had one last question for Benedictus. "Tell me, Archbishop. Do you think Anduin will make a good king?"

The archbishop turned and nodded with authority. "Most certainly, sire. If he survives the crucible of these times. Desperate days such as these tend to burn away all impurities, leaving only the strongest steel behind. And Wrynn kings have always shown their mettle, Highness." He bowed, then exited with Jaina, leaving Varian alone in the throne room with the solitary burden of command the king knew only too well.

* * *

As Varian walked into the city cemetery, the sun was beginning its slow descent toward the horizon, casting warm sienna rays across the towering cathedral spires and quiet gravestones.

Sadness washed over Varian as he strolled past the headstones he knew all too well, on a path he had traveled so many Remembrance Days before. The spicy sweet smell of fresh lilacs touched his nostrils, and it conjured up memories of his wife Tiffin's wonderful scent, her joyous laugh, her tender smile.

He approached the stone lions that stood guard over his wife's grave, his walk becoming trancelike as long-lost memories cascaded through his mind. Rays of golden light reflected off the bronze plaque on the memorial. Varian read the last line of the inscription, For our world grows cold in your absence, and he felt a wave of bitter truth flood his heart. You and Anduin are the only things that ever gave me warmth, Tiffin.

He heard footsteps behind him, and turned, surprised to see Benedictus and his son approaching. The excitement at seeing the prince was quickly doused by the shocked look on Anduin's face, and by the prince's sharp glance at the archbishop.

Varian was surprised to see how much Anduin had grown. Or was it just a trick of the light? The prince shifted his bow and quiver of arrows in frustration, scowling hard at the priest. "When you implored me to accompany you, Archbishop, you failed to mention we would be joined by my father."

Benedictus smiled down at the boy. "Sometimes, dear prince, to heal the world, we must keep a few secrets."

Varian felt himself slipping into the role of father. He wanted to tell the boy to stop acting foolish and grow up. He wanted to command Anduin to stay in Stormwind and fulfill his duties as prince and heir apparent. But he knew this would only result in the same angry ending as before. The rougher he got with the boy, the more he drove Anduin away.

"So this is your Remembrance Day gift, Archbishop?" King Wrynn tried to soften his voice. "A surprise family reunion?" His eyes flashed unconsciously to include Tiffin's grave.

The archbishop looked them both over, and seemed satisfied. "Partly. But there is more. Remember the quest you gave me long ago, just after dear Tiffin passed away?"

Varian thought for a moment. It had been so long now. So much had happened since his wife's death. So much had changed. So much of him had changed. Would Tiffin even love the man I have become?

Benedictus reached out and handed Varian a glittering silver key. Varian stood in shock at the weight of the thing in his palm. Anduin knew what it was immediately. "The key to Mother's locket."

Varian was speechless. He searched for something to say. "You found it! How?"

"Yes, sire. As you commanded. I apologize that it took so long to track down, but I thought today was as good as any to give the memories back to you both." Benedictus patted the prince's head.

Varian felt something moving deep within him. "Thank you, Benedictus. You are a good man. I hesitate to think what I'd do without you."

The archbishop bowed his head. "Please, allow me to leave you to it." He turned to go, and as he did, he waved his arm once more. "Peace be with you both," he said, and he disappeared down the path into a grove of trees.

Varian stood there, turning the silver key over and over, wondering about the archbishop's strange farewell. Finally he noticed that Anduin was watching him. All the harsh things he had wanted to say to his son were of no consequence now. He realized only one thing was true: Anduin was more important than all of it. It was so clear.