Today’s dreamer is a friend I met online! Heather is one of those rare gems you find who you can chat at and get what you’re saying, even though there’s an ocean separating you. Her story Awakening is fan fiction for World of Warcraft. It’s a long one so I’ll be posting it in parts today!
The dream started the same way again, and despite knowing what was to come she was swept up in the beauty and the joy of it. It was unavoidable; she could not deny the warmth of mother earth, of being one of Cenarius’ children. The beauty of the newborn foal as it took it’s first few steps under the watchful eye of it’s mother. The sheer serenity of the forests of Ashenvale and Teldrassil. And then she was moving, running and then suddenly gliding as her body shifted into the form of a storm crow. Each moment was a blur, slipping from one memory to another before finally settling on the final scene.
The world grew colder with the chill of evil and everything that was unnatural. It was the complete opposite of the Goddess Elune and the power of Cenarius, and she immediately shrank back from it in disgust. Behind her fear was the lingering feeling of knowing; this evil had to be stopped. It had a name; the Scourge and it was as devastating, if not more so, than the burning legion that had come before it. It was those demons that had originally created this horror, thinking they could control it and bend it to their will as they tried to destroy Azeroth. Their leader, the Lich King, had broken from them, and now with demons banished, the people of Azeroth found themselves contending with those that once served them.
The dream shifted again, showing her a momentary glimpse of the Lich King himself, and the night elf tensed in her sleep, knowing that the end of the dream was near. Fear crept through her as she witnessed the destruction that lay in the wake of the undead. Everything was leading up to the inevitable final confrontation, and in the back of her subconscious the elf laughed at how proud and over confident she and her companions had been. So many had fallen to the Lich King and his powerful sword, the infamous Frostmourne. How had they ever hoped to win against such a power?
Nevertheless, they had to try and again the dream moved on, showing her the efforts made to beat the Lich King. She had volunteered as had many to fight alongside the newly formed Argent Crusade led by Highlord Tirion Fordring, a former paladin of the Silver Hand. She had admired his aim to unite the two factions, the Horde and the Alliance, to fight the Lich King, recognising that such a feat was not possible if they continued to fight amongst themselves. Of course, some did fight, and some like herself buried the hatchet and worked for a common goal.
She had been with a small group of other fighters, on a simple reconnaissance mission that had gone wrong. It was supposed to be safe, but the Scourge had tricked them. The joy and warmth that she had earlier felt were long gone now, and her dream showed her the true horrors of the scourge. Loved ones of those they had known, friends who had died in battle, all risen up to fight them. She watched in desperation as she saw her companions die all over again, the mage Aurelia struck down by one of the undead magi. Their healer, a Paladin called Benjamin who was barely into his twenties, was desperately trying to save them and failed as the scourge caught up with him.
In the heat of the battle she had called upon Elune, asking for her blessing and transforming herself into the sacred form of the Moonkin. Normally she was a formidable opponent, but spurred on by the deaths of her companions, of those she was supposed to be protecting, she gave into the blood lust. It was that blood lust that had caught his eye. Arthas. Once a paladin like Tirion Fordring and Benjamin, he was now the Lich King. She was of course no match for him, not alone and tired from battle, and she felt the tip of his blade slice through her flesh. The cold spreading as she screamed…
Bolting up right in bed, the night elf Lothiriel sat there for a moment. Drenched in sweat and with fresh tears sliding down her cheeks, she did not have the luxury of comforting herself with ‘it was just a dream’. No, it had been real, and even now after the death of Arthas almost a decade ago, she found herself living as an abomination. A Death Knight.
To some the term abomination most likely seems to be an over-exaggeration, after all, she was alive, wasn’t she? This was one of the many questions the scholars had asked themselves, now that they had more time on their hands. It was a debate that was still going on. Many of the Death Knights had adjusted to their new life perfectly well, their lust for vengeance for what Arthas had done to them and in turn made them do as his servants, helped them find a place in the world. Lothiriel had ended the Scourge war on the side she started with, albeit a member of the Knights of the Ebon Blade rather than the Argent Crusade. She had been one of the ‘lucky’ ones who had been able to fight the Lich King’s control, and returned to the ‘light’.
Lothiriel did not see it as lucky, in fact, she had been distraught for a good while when she had found out that the light was out of reach. She had become a thing of cold, the warmth and joy of Elune was lost to her. At least when she had been under Arthas’ thrall, she had not thought about what it was like to never be able to commune with nature again. After becoming free she had cried for hours. No matter how hard she tried she would never again feel the wind against her feathers as she flew across the land, or know the magnificence of the Moonkin.
It had been natural for Lothiriel to retreat to the woods of Ashenvale after the defeat of Arthas. However, even the serenity that her homeland brought her could not stop the dreams. Staring into the darkness Lothiriel’s lips pulled into a grim smile as she thought of the lecture her friend Saria would have given her. Dreams were meaningful her fellow druid had said, they were not meant to be ignored. Each druid found their own place in the world, their own destiny that Elune led them to. Naturally, Saria’s had been that of the Emerald Dream. Out of all the casualties of the Scourge War, Saria’s hurt her the most. There had been a few family members that had survived the burning legion, but not many that Lothiriel was close to.
Saria was dead though, and sitting there moping about her would not bring her back. Dawn was beginning to peak over the top of the trees, and with a groan of annoyance, Lothiriel rolled out of bed. She liked her sleep, always had, and the dreams just added insult to injury in that way. She could not remember the last time she had a decent night’s sleep… and a decade was a long time to be so restless. Thankfully, she had very few visitors and when people did come wandering she often avoided them. In the past Lothiriel had her share of good and bad experiences with people. Some shunned her still, and rightly so in her opinion. That she could deal with. It was the small child that had run up to her and asked her to tell her about the glory of war that had froze her to the core. Too many people glorified the brutality of war, perhaps it helped them to sleep at night to hide behind the faÃ§ade of a hero rather than think of what they had witnessed or what they had done. No one could survive war without getting their hands dirty; Lothiriel had learned that lesson long before she became a Death Knight.
The closest she came to war nowadays was the daily hunt, after all even Death Knights need to eat. Many believed druids to be herbivores, frowning on the killing of animals for any reason. Those that believed that had obviously never known a real druid, and preferred fiction over fact. There were of course those amongst the druids that did follow such a path, but it certainly wasn’t a mandate of their beliefs. Provided that animals were not being killed willy nilly for sport or some other ridiculous notion, the druids of Cenarion Circle left well alone. Part of nature itself was the circle of life, was it not? All creatures were born, lived their life and then died, some giving their life in service to others whether it be war or nourishment so that another life could continue living. They certainly were not supposed to return from the dead…
Snap out of it, she told herself as she pottered around her small hut in her even smaller kitchen. There were those that would claim she was punishing herself just by living such a simple life, submitting herself to such a humble existence for pointless reasons. Another reason why she had headed to one of the most secluded parts of Ashenvale, and why she avoided visitors. She had her own thoughts to berate her, why add anyone else’s to the mix? A simple breakfast of some bread and cheese was all Lothiriel found that she could stomach in the mornings after such a rude awakening. There was nothing humble about her choice of meal it was just logical. She had things to do, there was no time for feeling ill. Not to mention it wasn’t a pleasant feeling. One trait that all creatures had in common; self preservation.
Not every day was the same for the former druid. Some days she would collect fire wood, other days she would replenish her stock of herbs. She rarely stuck to a detailed routine, deciding that morning or the night before what she felt like doing the next day. Many times her tasks would be interrupted, not by her own laziness or others, more often than not it was nature that was the cause of the interruption. A druid she might not be but it still pained her to see nature in distress. When she could, or when nature didn’t flee or recoil from her touch, she did what she could to maintain the natural order of things or aid the creatures of the forest. More often than not this involved helping from afar, such as providing food for an injured animal rather than healing it’s wounds. It was a double edged sword; helping her heal her own wound and at the same time rubbing salt into it.
Today though as the day of the hunt, and if she could Lothiriel would try to take the life of those desperately ill or those who did not have a litter of young ones to feed and protect. She would hunt the predators themselves, contributing to the hierarchy of nature and helping to keep the level of predators equal with that of their prey.
Checking for the third time that she had everything in her pack, Lothiriel collected her weapons; a sword, a pair of daggers and a long bow. The latter was not a fighting weapon, it was purely for hunting. Her aim was decent enough to score her some food, while in the heat of a battle it was terrible. In her past life her preferred weapon had been a stave or dagger, while her most powerful weapon had been her magic as a druid. Once cut off from that Lothiriel had to learn the hard way under the tutelage of the Lich King’s army how to use melee weapons and fight in close combat. Her pack also contained rations for the day, a skinning knife and a few other necessary things for survival. Becoming a Death Knight had not removed Lothiriel’s penchant for being prepared for anything.
Leaving the hut that served as home, Lothiriel’s deathsteed was outside waiting for her as usual. She did not have room for a stable, and she honestly doubted one would house her. The horse she had fondly called Saria had not been named after sentiments alone. The mare and her former friend held the same temperament, and Lothiriel firmly believed that without the mare she would have gone insane long ago. The deathsteed remained with her because it chose to due to the bond each Death Knight shared with their mount. Even when she did not want the mare there she would be, butting her nose in literally. Despite their bond Saria was very much a horse, and like all horses she had her own attitude. Perhaps she could tell that her mistress was not in the mood for her antics this morning, for Lothiriel managed to saddle her and be on her way without any trouble.
The solitude of the forest was what had drawn Lothiriel to it in the first place, and as she rode all she heard was the sounds of nature interupted by the sound of hooves moving through the undergrowth. Beneath that was the sound of her own breathing and that of her mount, something which still continued to surprise her considering both of them were technically very much dead. She still breathed, still bled red blood, and could walk and talk, so why couldn’t she let the whole dead thing slide? How many times had she heard that argument? Lothiriel shook her head, a physical attempt at clearing her mind. No hunter got very far with their head full of cotton wool, she chided herself and spurred Saria into a trot. Perhaps a run would clear her mind so she could get it back on the task at hand. The idea of dining on stewed roots for another night was enough to encourage her.
Hours later Lothiriel’s mind had refocused enough for her to successfully bag herself some deer that would provide her with dinner for the next few days. It had begun to drizzle in the past half hour, which was more of an annoyance than an actual inconvenience. Most animals were not as bothered by the rain as people were, and so Lothiriel had pulled up her hood to shield her face and continued onwards. A few rabbits, possibly a worg and she could call it a day. Saria was not as amused by the drizzle and had become noticeably moody since it had begun. However, she had been trained as a war horse and would never admit that something as silly as the rain bothered her.
Movement caught her eye, and Lothiriel slid from the saddle, giving Saria a pat on the neck as she did so. She recieved a grumpy snort in response as if to say not to worry, she knew what to do by now and no, she wouldn’t do anything to spook the prey. Having a mount so attuned to you was beneficial, but at times like this they were just down right sarcastic. Ignoring the attitude as always, Lothiriel prepared her bow and took aim, only to have a shrill scream ring out through the woods and send the worg fleeing. Muttering an oath about idiots running riot in the forest, Lothiriel pulled herself back into the saddle and went in search of another prey.
Again a scream tore through the woodland, and this time it stopped her. Once upon a time Lothiriel would have never hesitated, she would have charged in and saved the day regardless of the risk to herself. The physical risk still did not deter her, it was the risk to her personal feelings that gave her reason to pause. She had lost count of the times since becoming a Death Knight that her attempts at helping someone had not been taken so gratefully. Even this far from civilisation there were a few people who wandered the forests, and everytime she had this argument with herself. Eventually she would give in, either watch to make sure the person was safe or help and then leave again without a word.
About the Dreamer
Heather is a History of Art graduate and a current English Literature student at the University of Glasgow. She has been writing, drawing and painting all of her life and has steadily transfered her skills to website design and photography. Since the age of thirteen she has created worlds and characters from her extensive imagination and as of November 2012 she has begun work on her first novel; Soul Destiny.