"Is it true what they say,
are we too blind to find a way?
Fear of the unknown clouds our hearts today.
Come into my world,
see through my eyes.
Try to understand,
don't want to lose what we have."
- Within Temptation: See Who I Am.
The Light shines in the darkness, and it is a beautiful sight. It illuminates all around me, and I am unafraid. It makes my path clear as I walk in this world - all shadow recoils in fear of its illumination. And I see the abyss before me...
I was tired when she woke me up at Talonbranch Glade. Such a long ride. Almost only because Auburn doesn't like flying, or so I gathered - but bless her. Whether or not she will accept my gratitude, I am grateful. For once in a long time, I actually feel hope that I might see again. To see the world around me, as I was meant to.
She speaks, asking if I'm well enough to continue and I reply that I am, taking time to locate my staff, until she picks it up for me, apologising embarressed that she accidentally knocked it down. I chuckle, telling her that it's alright, and just as we're about to leave I remember my bag. It lies by the bed where I put it, and I smile at my success at finding it. Silently I thank her for not picking that up for me. Small victories, oh, they feel good when you're dependant on others.
Auburn leads me to the horse, forgets briefly that I can't see the reins that she's holding out to me. I could guess it. She wasn't really the first one to do that. For her sake, I don't say anything - wouldn't be nice to have a laugh at it. I mount my horse after strapping my bag to the saddle, and within I feel once again a small victory of having done so by myself. And before I know it, we're off, she having something tied to my horse as she leads me ahead on her own mount. And I feel both excited and fear.
The journey through the tunnel was close to a nightmare. Narrow at places, broad, the path bumpy and the carved stairs of varying size. I slow her down, she makes no complaint, but within I'm embarressed. I want this to be over! This was not what I was meant to be. I don't care what the shadow wrecks say. Destiny is for us to make, not something we're totally slaves to. I can't believe it. I won't believe it. There is mercy to be found, or else everything is just in vain.
I hold my tongue about this, telling her not of how bad I feel about it. At one point I lose the grip on my horse, standing like a confused child, not knowing which direction to go. I hear her come back as I make it known, but then I decide that it's faster for me to just do as I have done before, and with my staff I probe my way forward down the stairs. Another small victory. No, this isn't pride. It's got nothing to do with pride. I call it common sense. To be able to stand for oneself and not be dependant on people all livelong day. I used to help others, and I loved it. And now...I walk around with a blindfold and a staff, feeling my way forward. And then the sense of helplessness... Oh, Light...it must work. Please, make it work, if this druid can assure me that he won't be harmed.
We finally leave the tunnel, and I feel the breeze, the fragrance. Even before she tells me, I know we're in Moonglade. Memories of what happened here comes back to me, and purposely I suppress the shame of why I was initially brought here the first time. My suicide attempt. I don't tell. I think I didn't. Instead I focus on the one point when Richeron had come through, when we'd helped him recover of his illness, whatever it was. Yes, when he took my hand and asked me so calm, so serene if I would become his wife.
I smile. I don't know if Auburn sees it, or if she's busy keeping an eye on the road after having mounted again.
Then I hear a voice. She hears it too. It says we're late, and I for once frown as I recognise it to be that of a Kaldorei, female. I've heard it before and even as Auburn speaks the name, I have guessed it.
"Sil," Auburn says.
"Silnaen," she corrects.
I stiffle a chuckle at how Auburn always falls back on the nick name that her friend doesn't seem to either acknowledge or even understand.
I greet her with a Kaldorei phrase. "Ishnu alah, Silnaen." And I hope I do her honour this way. Never made sense to me to be unpolite, and besides, she has offered to help me only because of Auburn. I have met her before, though, but that hardly made us friends just because of one meeting.
Auburn throws something her way, and I hear that she immediately takes a bite. Always hungry, I gather. And after a few words she tells us that he is waiting at Nighthaven - the bear, as Auburn kept calling him. Anadurion. Druids have always been a source of awe to me, how they can change forms, mend, manipulate nature in a non-harmful way. I have chosen to acknowledge that this power is real, that is good. It doesn't oppose the Light, and as such it makes sense. I know Elune is just as real, though I'm sure that no harm is done by sticking to what I was taught, what I chose to do, my calling.
I am a Paladin. I care for life just as much as a druid would, though people are my primary concern. My foe is the darkness of the daemons, the shadow of the malign power-hungering cults, the careless who stamp on anything and anyone on their way. I live to serve. I live to spread the Light, instilling hope in others.
But I can't do that with no eyes. And I won't have sight if it means that the bear will be harmed in the process. That's why I wanted to meet him. I wanted him to know who he was offering it to. I want him to see me.
We continue towards Nighthaven. I will meet him there.
I hope I haven't come in vain.
The glory of the Light gives me strength, for when I see it in my fellows, in my friends, in strangers, in the old man and woman, in the infant, I shall be satisfied, for I will know my work is not in vain - and that the Light is with me.
"See who I am,
break through the surface.
Reach for my hand,
let's show them that we can
free our minds and find a way.
The world is in our hands,
this is not the end."
- Within Temptation: See who I am.
All of us, all beings have a self, and this self is connected with the universe. It can be strong, it can be weak. A follower of the Light wishes to strengthen his own connection with the universe, but that cannot be done without strengthening others'. Avoid the great sin of severing others' connection - avoid thinking only about yourself. Selfishness is a great folly.
Auburn leads me to him, tells me that he's in cat form. That's druids for you. I kneel down before him, and I try to show my respect towards him, as I recount the words of my grandmum, Lexandra, when she told me as a little girl that when wanting to caress unfamiliar cats, I should always let them take in my scent. I do as she taught me, and I extend my hand. He acknowledges me by sniffing it, and I smile. Then I stroke his fur, gently, carefully. I know he's still a Kaldorei, but the fact that he's a druid and in an animal form prompts me to be careful. Kaldorei have the habit of assuming too much, and I can't risk anything. This is the one who is going to make me be able to see, if he can tell me why he'd help me, a total stranger, only made known to him by Auburn and Silnaen.
I ask questions, he grunts as only a cat can, Silnaen translates, while Auburn sits right by. I tell him outright that I can't accept this great gift if he's harmed by whatever strange magic he will wield. As I say it, I hear Auburn rise to her feet swiftly, walking a few loud steps, and I'm afraid that I've made her angry. She's gone through things to make this happen, though she's never told me directly of all the trouble. I don't know why she's like this, when it comes to telling, but I focus on Anadurion. I must know.
Silnaen gives me his reply, telling me that he will not be harmed or hurt badly, that it's better that one suffers briefly so that the pack can be whole again. Pack... Yes, I suppose that's what the Alliance is. A pack of animals, full of life, fighting those who hate life and only want to destroy it. I see his logic, I understand it. And in that moment, I tell him that I accept his help. That I want to see again. I want to be the Paladin I became, that I was trained to be.
And so, things come in motion.
Auburn is to take me to the open temple of Elune near the Barrow Dens. I remember the place from when I was last in Moonglade, when Neli and Nouala were doing their best to comfort me after Richeron had come through, feverish, broken, half-mad due to whatever fel energy had touched his beautiful spirit. Light, I'm glad I could cleanse him...and I wish in that moment that he's with me. But he isn't. Auburn is, and I thank the Light that she is. I would need her strength - that was clear to me.
I thank Anadurion and let Auburn lead me back to the horses. I mount mine, letting her lead it again. We talk along the way, we talk when we get there. I tell her things about my past, about grandfather, how I liked to watch the stars. She tells me more of her past, how her father died. I get to know her better, to know what kind of person she is. She's experienced much, different from what I have, but we're both touched by the same war, the same fighting. I understand her, and I'm glad I do. I become more glad that she went through all this to help me, and I know that she'd just dismiss it with a wave, coming with some explanation that'll make it look like she's got nothing to do with it. That's how I've come to know her.
Time passes, and Silnaen finally comes, I hear her panting as though she's run all the way from wherever it was on foot. It worries me, and I ask how Anadurion is, Auburn does the same. She doesn't reply directly, and it annoys me. This is overruled as Silnaen presses on that we must hurry. She has it with her - the eye.
I am afraid. I'm nervous. I was nervous when we made our way to this open temple, and even more now. Will it work? If not, what will happen then? If it does, what then? Is Anadurion hurt? Will this affect Silnaen?
Thoughts shoot through my mind faster than any arrow, and I suddenly find myself lying on my back on the cold stone floor. I ask her nervously if she wants me to remove my blindfold. Of course she does. What was I thinking anyway? Auburn takes my hand, squeezing it. I squeeze back. She knows how tense I am now. It must be pretty obvious to anyone with eyes or ears for that matter. This is it. No going back now.
Silnaen tells me to be calm, starts to hum something, sing, I don't know. I think on the little thing growing in my womb, and I can't stop worrying for it. My first. I don't want to lose it. Not even if it was a price for sight. I recite verses from some old book of assuring words based on the Light's teachings. I stutter almost.
She begins. I feel strange itching in my left socket, coldness in the other. Then it comes. Flaring pain. For a moment I think I'm back to when they were holding my arms, pulling my hair back, and taking a firm grip of my jaw as that man was stabbing my eyes out, one by one. The horrible feeling of being violated, being helpless, being wronged flush over me, and makes the pain even worse. I squeeze Auburn's hand, I scream in pain. They hold my shoulders down as Silnaen does something to the socket. I don't know what it is. I just know it hurts. Just like a dagger stabbing...
Auburn prays something, I've trouble hearing what it is. I almost only hear my own screaming. I feel the skin around my sockets tingle in some odd way, I feel something being put in the left. It's throbbing with pain, it itches, but I do all I can to combat my insticts, refraining from lifting my left hand in defence and protect my vulnerability. It won't do me good. It's just pain, I try to tell myself. Pain will pass. I know it will. Any moment Silnaen will stop and it will be over.
Just need to hang in there. Just a moment longer.
Just a moment.
Light, it hurts so much!
The Light shines in the darkness, and it is a beautiful sight. My soul is at ease when walking in its illumination. My spirit is comforted and uplifted as the Light shines in others. Their happiness shines upon me, and mine upon theirs. Our connections are strengthened. The Light shines stronger, for we have grown in it. It is a beautiful sight.
"Fear is withering the soul
at the point of no return.
We must be the change
we wish to see.
I'll come into your world,
see through your eyes.
I'll try to understand,
before we lose what we have."
- Within Temptation: See who I am.
Strive to appease, but with moderation. Live to see the Light shining in others, so that you will know that they will grow, and thus causing yourself to grow. If you sever others' connection with the universe, you sever your own. Kill the Light in others, and you kill the Light in yourself. Always remember, my child, the universe is not centrered in its entirety on you alone. After all, we are many that are, we are many that have been, and we are many that will be. All of us deserve the Light, just as you, my child. All of us.
I remember waking to pain. A horrible headache. Everytime I moved the eye, it hurt. Everytime I blinked, it hurt. Granted, it's nothing like the pain when Silnaen did whatever it was she did to my sockets. But, Light, how it hurts. It aches, and I'm going crazy with this pain. I'd sooner have the headache from the monthly period than to this. Nouala came and offered me something soothing, but that wasn't till Auburn and Silnaen had returned. I didn't dare harming the new eye. I still couldn't find out what had happened to Anadurion - and I kept asking myself if this was worth it, if this was worth my pain, Silnaen's exhaustion, and Anadurion's situation - whatever it was that had happened to him.
Sleep didn't come easily, but whatever herbs that Nouala put in that glass of water helped me that night.
The next day, the pain remained, though diminished. Richeron, my darling husband, finally arrived. He was late, and I was irritated by that fact, just as I was irritated by the darkness I still found myself in. I kept asking myself over and over again if this was what we would expect no matter what turn fate would take. I had allowed this, I had exposed myself to them, believing them when they said that all would be well.
No, I don't approve of this price, I don't approve of what has come to pass. I wanted to see, blast it! I wanted to be useful again, to serve with blood and honour! Esarus thar no'Darador! To the Nether with all this sympathy, to the Nether with all this failure, to the Nether with the hate that took my eyes! Ignorant, unloving, ungrateful, unappreciative bastards, those who I tried to reach, those I tried to make to see the error of their ways. Selfindulgent dotards, the lot of them! What do they know of love, what do they know of Light, what do they even know of all the bloodshed, greed and deluded idiocy they all float in?!
I could help end all that daemonic inspired ludicrousy. If I could see. Why would they listen to an ex-Scarlet Paladin Light lover? That's the reaction I got pretty much everytime.
Blast it, Auburn... I knew she couldn't understand my situation, but how I hated myself when I had a go at her, telling her of various regrets of mine. I could hear from the tone in her voice that I had seemed ungrateful. It tore me apart when I realised what I had done. I hated myself that moment. I had become no better than those I had tried to reach. I had been just as deaf.
Light...we're all just walking failures.
We strive. We fall.
Light, help me rise again...
That was my prayer as I waited for Richeron to return. He went out to find Auburn, so that I could make things right, but she had gone.
Richeron came back. I was glad he did. His arms around me, his kisses soothed me in my darkness as night had come. At least I could apologise to him for what I said in my anger and disappointment.
And as we lay down in bed, I found comfort in him, and the fact that my unborn child was unharmed.
I promised as two became one that I would overcome myself once again. After all, I'm not alone.
Help me rise again.
Ask yourself, my child, why humility, meekness, charity, honesty, compassion and love is needed. Ere long you will know that all these things are things that you crave yourself. And the only way you will get all these things is by giving to those who need it as well. Try and you will see that your efforts will be returned in kind. Yet have a care, for there are those who receive and receive and receive, and give none back. Of these, beware. And strive to see that you will not become like unto them, lest you sink beneath the shadows, where there is great loneliness and despair.
"We just can’t stop believing
because we have to try.
We can rise above
their truth and their lies.
I hear their silence
preaching my blame.
Will our strength remain
If their power reigns?"
- Within Temptation: See who I am.
If thou question the Light’s power, you art a fool. If thou question the ideals of the Light, thou art a fool. If thou art neither, then thou are a follower of the shadow, and therefore one who hateth life, one who hateth joy, one who hateth love, one who hateth seeing others being well, one who hateth order, prosperity and a bright future. Thou art then a greater fool, and pity should be shown to the womb that cast thee out, for no pity will be found in the Twisting Nether for thy wretched soul. Fools do not go there; abominable souls, who have no compassion for their fellow man and only seek to destroy, do. For power is not for man to wield for ever. And in the end, man fadeth away.
Singing birds, whose gentle songs echoed in the woods, slowly woke me from my slumber. It was a good and soothing way to wake up. Even more so was opening the eye and seeing the one I was lying close up at. Richeron. He was still sleeping, his breathing as calm as the songs of the fowls. I turned my head a little, seeing Nouala lying on her mattress, likewise sleeping. Vii was in her make-shift bed, as well. Blueleaff was not there, and most likely awake and around close by.
Such faithful friends, I thought to myself, smiling.
We had arrived yesterday, not hesitating when I had said that I wanted to leave Stormwind once again, being worried that it might harm the life I carried if I were to become more stressed by all I’d seen in her home city. The shadow still held sway there, and had ceaselessly tried to discomfort me, to discourage me. I’d grown tired of hearing the same words over and over again. And hearing them from people who once held true to what was good and just was heartbreaking. That they didn’t give a damn was even more grieving. Indeed, it really seemed that the shadows never forgave. I have done much in the service of the Light, helping those I could. Ashana, the one who I had once counted as a dear friend, has lost her way utterly after her horrible transformation. I knew in my heart when I saw her and heard her speak that the friend she was once was no more. What remains is a twisted form of a person who was once full of life and love. Another proof of the destructive power of the darkness I’ve been fighting.
There had been a moment where I had felt that I was just running away from the problems, but every time I’ve thought of fighting it, I remember what grows within my womb. I can’t risk it. I can’t risk this precious new life that I will deliver into this world; of my own blood and flesh.
I move a hand down, gently caressing my bulging stomach as I’m wont to do, and I smile at the thought of what dwells inside. I whisper loving words to it, telling of how much I cherish the growing life, how much I long to hold it in my arms, to see it. It doesn’t matter what gender it will be. I won’t care. I will love it just the same as I love it now. Whatever the shadow will throw in my way, in my offspring’s way, I’ll be there to fend for it, to protect it with my life. Where there is life, there is hope.
I look at Richeron again as he sleeps peacefully, and I smile as he moves ever so slightly, knowing that he’ll do all in his power to do the same, to protect his offspring, to protect me, his wife. I lean closer, kissing him gently on his cheek, and I think he smiles a little by the warm touch. He looks so fair when smiling.
This is the love the shadow lacks and fails to understand, what it will never successfully destroy. Not while there are people who will fight to protect life as we do, as so many others do.
I peer around again, and almost make a surprised sound as I see that Nouala is up from her mattress, looking at me. She smiles gently, probably both from my reaction as well as beholding my affection for my husband and my little one. She’s always been so protective of me, as well; always ready to step in harm’s way so that I will be spared. It is almost strange to think back on how we first met, and how quickly she and I became so good friends.
Those I have are so caring that I feel as though I don’t deserve it. They forgive me my shortcomings as quick as I forgive theirs. This is strength, not to forget wisdom. This is friendship. This is the love that all should have and enjoy among one another.
I smile back at her, and she nods once as she rises to her feet and slowly walks downstairs, saying before she disappears out of view, "Call for me, life-friend, when you wish to get up."
"I will," I reply. Then I look back at Richeron briefly and rest my head on his shoulder. And I cherish the safe sensation that I feel when holding him, almost wishing that this moment would never end.
Yet at the same time I long for the day when I’ll once more pick up the blade, and stand aghast against the shadow. When I’ll not be hampered by physical things, and can freely do my duty against the darkness that has tried so hard to break me. Whatever words the shadow wrecks have spouted at me, they’ll be futile. I know that what I’ve done and am doing is right. I know the Light will prevail, no matter how frantically they tell me that it won’t, no matter how they tell me that I’m a fool to follow it.
I don’t know where this is heading. I can’t see the way, but the Light will guide me on this blind path.
Just as it has always done and will keep doing.
Arise, strong warrior! Arise! Grasp thy sword, thy hammer, thy axe!
Arise and do battle onto the wicked that have encircled the righteous and seek our blood!
Be of strong heart, blessed warrior, for the Light resideth in thee!
Mount thy horse and sally forth toward the host of darkness, for it shall quiver and quake and despair at the sight of the holy, who shan’t give up the fight to protect the weak, the innocent and the meek!
Arise, arise! The cleansing wrath of the Light has awoken!