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I

Dust to dust.

The hardpacked soil of The Barrens fell through her fingers like sand, caught in the wind, and billowed past her in a light brown cloud. Absently the druid sat down, resting her elbows on her knees. The sun, fierce even though it would soon set, beat down on her shoulders, sapping her energy, and beckoned her to find shade. She resisted the urge as she had for all of these last months. Instead, she drew the rays’ strength inward, allowing her mind to focus while the tension lifted from her muscles. The Barrens had a rhythm, and she had found it easily despite her people’s nocturnal nature. Her body had adjusted quickly, and even the deep purple pigmentation of her skin had darkened to protect against the sun. Yes, the rhythm had been easy to find. She basked in the heat and sweat of daylight and slept like a stone at night.

Settled in, she focused in, painting in her mind a portrait with words and images. Always it was the same image, but with minor adjustments. Small changes in search of perfection. These past months she had attempted to imagine what this sun scorched land had looked like before The Sundering. Was it bathed in the cool twilight of Ashenvale’s great forests, or the humidity of the jungles of Feralas? Perhaps it even held the radiant beauty of Moonglade, lush and untouched by either demonic influence or the passage of sentient beings who sought to claim its resources as their own.

Sennin Silveraine rolled her shoulders and gazed out over the vast plains of gold and brown. She had never quite arrived at a satisfactory image of what The Barrens had once been. She could never envision the ancient forests or the crystal streams. Instead she could only imagine it as it is, a land burned by war, hardened by conflict and betrayal, and yet which still thrived in its own way.

She could sympathize.

II

Deidre Moonwhisper stared out over the soft blue waters of Lake Elune, her posture strict and erect. The ancient druid folded her arms across her chest and spoke softly.

“I think about her often, you know.”

Beside her the large Tauren stirred and smiled softly, turning his gaze towards the lake.

“So you have said.”

Deidre smiled softly and looked down towards her feet.

“She was like a daughter to me.”

“Many families have been broken in these last years.”

“I know.”

“I did not know her.”

The Kal’dorei paused as if to compose her thoughts. “What we did to her was unfair. What we did to her family was monstrous. In the end, forgiveness may be offered on her part, but it is something I don’t believe I could ever truly accept. I know I could never forgive myself.”

“Perhaps, but if such a gesture is made, and the truth is understood then why not welcome her back into our ranks?”

“I don’t think she would be willing to return. Perhaps it’s not even her path anymore. She walks in a different world now, and I believe she would be unwilling to accept the limitations we would place on her. It would be a selfish thing to ask her to return to the fold.”

“Selfish?”

“As you said, many families have been torn apart. Some, no matter what our wishes may be, cannot be put back together.”

“I see.”

Deidre returned her gaze to the lake.

“We exiled her, but I think it is a role she has grown into and made her own. Who are we to rob her of one of the few things she has left?”

III

She had grown restless; lost her focus. The heat now exhausted her daily, and she lay awake most nights. No longer could she occupy herself with her mental exercises. Instead, old thoughts crept back into her consciousness – faces of friends and enemies, old promises, and old angers. Anger, in particular, crept back, positioning itself in her chest and constricting her breathing. She allowed it back in, displacing the peace and serenity that she had captured in her months of isolation. She found it tangible, almost as if it were something to hang her heart on; something that she could channel into a worthwhile direction. Anger demanded action, and she was ready for the direction it would point her in. It was time to go back.

She had developed a working relationship with one of the many goblin merchants of Ratchet, and he had done well in keeping her supplied and caring for her mount as long as she kept the gold flowing. Despite losing a customer the goblin had smiled with genuine affection when she asked for her armor. She had returned the smile, and a gentle touch of sadness crossed her heart. He had been her one connection to the outside world, and despite the stereotypes leveled at his people he had displayed a deep kindness whenever she had wandered into his store.

Outside he handed over the reigns, but paused when she climbed atop the great saber.

“Sennin?”

“Yes?”

“Your eyes.”

“What about them?”

“They’re gold. They were silver.”

Sennin fitted her Wolfshead Helm over her head and grinned. “Druid’s eyes, my friend.”

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