The Elder’s Word (RP Short Story)

Little by little, what refugees the elder had brought from disaster had left.

Fourteen had become twelve in the first few days, as those with the strongest of wills left in an attempt to butcher any remaining Alliance that dared remain within their homeland. They did not expect to return.

Twelve became ten, as a pair of old soldiers decided they would travel to the Hinterlands, to evacuate their brethren there. They knew not their fate, but would do their best.

Ten became seven before long, these three making bold in an attempt to find sanctuary among the Argent Crusade, fearful for what was to come.

Seven became three, as a group departed in attempt to move on to Silvermoon.

Three became two, as a loyalist to the Banshee Queen spat on the ground and moved off. She loathed the thought of doing anything but serve the one that freed them.

…and now, those two remained- two sisters within and of the cult, both in grey and tattered robes, one without eyes and the other with a tarnished silver jaw. They were nearly identical, their rot the only thing that differed between them. In the ruins of Caer Darrow they huddled, hidden away in a dilapidated house. It had been three days since the last refugees had left. But they were not alone.

A shadow, hunched and slender, stood in the doorway. Not a single feature could be seen on this creature, save for a pair of two soulfire eyes. The sisters looked upon him not in fear- but expectantly, as he stood in a seemingly solemn silence, despite the coiling of shadows and distant, indistinguishable whispers at his core.

“..elder, what are we to do?” came the whisper of the one without eyes. She sat up, pulling her bag closer to her. Perhaps she knew something was about to change.

The shadow at the door turned his head- though did not answer at first. Something about his gaze was sorrowful. When he did answer, his voice came as one grieving, though stoic. “What would your will tell you to do?” he whispered. “I am merely a voice of guidance. I give no commands, only suggestions. If I were to depart as they had, what would you do?”

He had expected a moment of thought from the pair, but it was the one with a silvered jaw that spoke immediately. “Follow you,” she said, her voice a hiss. She raised her own head, and as her sister had, drew her belongings closer to her. “We have our own will, but our will is to remain together.” The other turned her head toward her sister, and after a pause, nodded in agreement.

“There is no survival in solitude. Not here, not now,” the eyeless woman said.

The elder was quiet, his head canted. He looked between them, before he turned himself, looking outward at the ruins of the Caer Darrow. After a long silence, he drew in a phantom breath, and released a defeated sigh- turning back towards them with a gesture of a long-fingered hand, toward the capital city.

“The blight’s smog will soon roll over the mountains. It will touch the forests of Silverpine, it will batter the plagued lands. Everything in its path will wither, and die,” he murmured. “Such is the will of the banshee queen, I suppose- though it weighs heavily that her own people are meant to suffer by her choices.”

Elder Nadaelius Longpath drew himself up then, and turned his gaze to the pair. To his surprise, they had already donned their bags, and stood now, prepared. “We will do what we can, sisters. I have already decided my path- and if you are to follow me, then we shall leave, soon- there could still yet be survivors not yet devoured by the blight, not yet trampled by the vengeful lions from the south. We should gather them, and ensure their safety.”

“..and should the lions come for us, elder?” asked the one with the silver jaw, stepping forward. She did not sound scared; she seemed, instead, plotting. “What will we do? Will we carve our own path?”

The elder looked at her with a pause, and eventually, beckoned her closer. “Clarissa,” he sighed, and looked to the other, doing the same. “Allison.” He drifted, legless and spectral out and into the ruins of the old town. “You must know that these are troubled times, and I can not tell you that all will be well for us by the end. Some may wish to carve a path, but we must remain patient. Our people, our futures, our world- these are broken things, and I know not what can fix them.”

Soul-lit eyes gazed down to his hands- ghostly, tainted with shadow and void. The distant murmurs within him grew agitated and anxious. His head turned away from the pair for a moment, toward the direction of the fallen capital again.

“The future holds despair, and woe, and there will be troubles greater than lions,” he whispered- and by the time his eyes returned to the sisters, they both stood prepared and willing to go. A sort of smile came to his eyes, despite the lack of a mouth.

With some sadness, he continued, “But together, we are stronger, and no matter darkness may befall us all, no matter what may happen… you will be safe, my dears.”

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