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Lastly, I'm planning a series of fives stories for Izzy revolving around her exchange of letters with Derry. So, this is the first.))

Isleen took a step back, her dark eyes staring intently at the advancing wolf. Through the icy haze the creature took another painful step, its joints creaking against the chilled stiffness. Its breath caught low in its throat and what was meant as an angry growl came out as only a pained gasp. Isleen smiled with some measure of satisfaction, took another step back, and transferred her weight to her back foot. Then, in a split second, she cast, thrusting her right hand forward. With a sharp crack that echoed across the bank the wolf exploded into flames. The beast reared up, yelped in surprise and then fell sideways into the dirt, its fur singed and smoldering.

“That’s all,” Isleen said, her hands falling to her side. “Should thin out tha’ huhd nicely, yeah?”

Hallus stepped forward and nudged the dead wolf with his boot as he had done with the others. Behind him his voidwalker, Kal’kit, stood a silent vigil, apparently uninterested in the scene. “I suppose so,” Hallus finally said.

Isleen pushed her cowl down around her neck and ran her fingers through her light brown hair. “Should be safe. We can si’ for a spell.” She paused, looked to the sky, and grinned. “This here be the only spo’ in alla Dus’wood where the sun shine.”

Without waiting for an answer she dropped down next to her backpack and laid back in the sun, her legs folded so that her knees pointed to the sky. She closed her eyes as the gnome seated himself quietly nearby. For a long moment she simply listened to the woods. In the distance she thought she could hear the scratch of wolves further down the bank and the spiders in the trees as they wove their intricate webs. With the worgen and undead infesting the woods the land could be dangerous, but here, out in the sun the darkness seemed so far away.

“Izzy?”

She opened her eyes and stared into the blue sky. “Hm?”

Hallus shifted uncomfortably in the grass. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Ayup.”

“Is that a yes?”

She chuckled. “Yeah.”

“The other night at the Fire you said your parents used to be bakers.”

“Ayup. They was.”

“That bag you carry. I just noticed it today. It has ‘Marcus Bakery’ printed on it.”

Isleen sat up, and leaned forward against her knees, staring at the gnome. She put her tongue into her cheek and rolled her eyes upwards as if considering what next to say.

“Yeah, ah guess so.”

“It’s just I didn’t know you’d been back…. I’d never seen you with it before.”

“Well, I jus’ got it.”

“So, you’ve been back?” The gnome frowned. Such a journey was neither easy nor short.

“Me? Nah, no’ in a long time, Hallus.” She laid back again, this time stacking her hands behind her head.

“Oh.” Hallus chewed on his lower lip. “It is from the bakery though, isn’t it?”

“Oh, ayup, yeah. Made from uh pair uh flour sacks.” She paused, saw the look of dissatisfaction on the gnome’s face, and exhaled. “Frien’ made it fuh meh.”

“A friend?”

“Ol’ frien’,” she said evenly.

Hallus frowned. “I won’t push….”

“Please don’.”

His frown deepened, and Isleen rolled towards him, balancing on her elbow. “ No ‘ffense intended, Hallus. Jus’ no’ somepin’ I wanna talk ‘bout, yeah?”

“Okay…”

Isleen rolled back onto her back and stared up at the sky. She sighed softly at the tug of her heart strings, and pushed a stray strand of hair out of her face. Distance and time hadn’t made things any better, and these reminders both delighted her and made her sullen. She should go to Southshore, and….

“Are you up for a bit of fishing?”

She turned her heads towards the gnome and grinned. “Yuh guh on ahead. Ah’m jus’ gonna enjoy the sun.”

She waited until the gnome moved further down the bank and had cast. The way he rocked back and forth intently almost warmed her heart. She had never met someone who had thrown themselves into something as mundane as fishing before, and she even somewhat envied him for it. Now, though, with his attention on his work she reached into the flour sack bag and withdrew a crumpled letter that she had already read a thousand times over the past few days.

II

Dearest Izzy, I bet you had begun to think I had forgotten this most important of days. I know how you worry about such things, but I have always felt that you give me too little credit. This is a special anniversary, is it not? Do you not have the same nightmares as I do with the approach of this day? Do you not chase them away with the memories of our hushed conversations in those dark days? I know I do, and this is why I can never forget. This bond we share is, I think, eternal, and my thoughts will always be of you on such an anniversary.

But time has meaning, does it not? We humans celebrate time in so many ways, and I think the fifth anniversary of my rescue would be of the greatest importance. So, to you, my savior, I accompany this letter with this mere token of thanks. Undoubtedly you will note its origins. Allow me to explain the story to you. Recently, our local militia has been sending expeditions back into the ruins of Alterac to control the ogres that now call the ruins home. I have had the opportunity to speak to several of these expeditions, and have offered a meager reward for the search of your parents shop and the reclaiming of tokens and items of value from ruins that may be relevant or hold meaning. A few weeks ago a group returned with a pair of flour bags from the shop. At first I thought little of them, but after a few days I noticed that they were stamped with the name of the bakery. A devilish idea came to me in that moment, and what you have in your hands now is the end result. I only hope that you know I give this with the greatest love to a friend who will always mean the world to be. I hope in that it will hold meaning for you as it does for me.

Please, write me soon, Izzy. I wait eagerly for your letters and look forward to returning the favor. Also, Michael wishes to meet the woman who once saved his wife. I would also like you to meet our son. Please, come to Southshore soon. Come visit us, and let us catch up on things.

Until then, be safe.

Your friend, Derry

III

Isleen sighed and shoved the letter back into the bag. She rose quickly to her feet, adjusting the strap so that it hung between her breasts and against her hip.

“Hallus,” she said as she grabbed her backpack. “Time we bes’ be getting’ back tuh town.”

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