Voidborn: Prelude

For as much as Revendreth was home to the mortal blood elf, Countess Naiavara, it was also home to an adamant ghost.

Voidborn: Prelude
Sinfall, Revendreth

The empty echoing stone walls of Sinfall were a welcome retreat from the flesh and bone citadel of Seat of the Primus. The candles and whispering plots of Revendreth were far more to her tastes than the bonfires and war chants of Maldraxxus in the first place. For as much as Revendreth was home to the mortal blood elf, Countess Naiavara, it was also home to an adamant ghost.

"What do you hope to accomplish by confessing your love for her to me, time and time again?" Naiavara's voice echoed against the stone walls of her small chamber - a small bed, desk, and bookshelf were all she needed in this place. Raven hair draped against the side of her delicate face - though the shadows had long obscured her, rendering her largely unrecognizable to most.

"Your necromancy has failed, Pyresong. My mind has been filled with her history in vivid, crushing detail, and yet I am still not her. You took, and took, and took from her until there was nothing left. She died heartbroken, afraid and alone, half-buried in the frozen wastes where you left her, Knight. There is nothing here of hers to take, and I have nothing of hers to give to you - not atonement nor forgiveness. The only comfort I can offer is that when I die, it will not be by your hands."

Erila shook her head in disbelief. She was a tall, muscular blood elf, body built from farm work and a lengthy career of swordborne violence. "We've fought together for years, Ry-- No. Lady Naiavara. You've saved my life countless times." Her superficial composure did not waver as she spoke. She must have trained discipline and restraint in this respect only. "Are you telling me that you felt nothing?"

"Nothing? You belittle me, knight." The shadows that enveloped Naiavara lapped at the air around her like hungry flames. "I have felt a great deal. Frustration. Satisfaction. Despair. Pride. But above all else I have felt duty. Responsibility. To do all in one's power to save those they can reach is the definition of a hero - a champion - is it not? Is that not what we are supposed to be?" She exhaled, suddenly bereft of the anger that possessed her a moment before. She turned from the crumbling knight to return to her clothwork. "I had assumed that was plain to you, but I see now that was cruel. I apologize."

Erila choked on a pained laugh, trembling in her effort to keep from falling to her knees in a moment of emotional drama. After several false starts she managed a less forced laugh, and wiped away tears that had begun to form. "You said you aren't her, but I wish you could see yourself the way I do. You're really just like her."

She collected her red mane behind her head and fumbled a ribbon into an awful lopsided knot around it. "I'm an idiot, huh? To do all in one's power to save those they can reach. I can't believe it was so simple--" Her breath caught in her throat a second time - void within, free me of this mess - and tears began to build up again.

Erila Pyresong quietly strode out of Naiavra's peripheral vision. "Damn it, Ry," the woman muttered, "I was supposed to be your hero. Fuck me." When Naiavara turned to check, her study was blessedly empty.

It had been days since the last interruption, and without her companions' drive for tireless community service Naiavara had remained in her study in Sinfall reading. She would be summoned when her talents were needed, and with the war campaign in the Shadowlands finished she was simply waiting for them. Her sharply dressed dredger scampered into the room to inform her ahead of time that she would be receiving a interruption momentarily. With great trepidation the mud forged creature announced Erila Pyresong was on her way.

If Naiavara had not placed a vanity mirror above her study desk she would not have noticed the ex-Farstrider's arrival. Her plain clothes were lacking in presence, but reeked of Silvermoon's modesty - simple clothes made with too fine a material with silver embroidery at the cuffs and hem. When Naivara turned to face her Erila paused awkwardly, before presenting an aging travelling cloak.

"Lady Naiavara," Erila began, "I wasn't sure if I should ask you, or try to find someone else." Naiavara rose and took the cloak from her hands. She understood instantly why she would think twice about presenting this cloak to her. "But, y'are the best seamstress I know."

Naiavara folded it over and over, examining every crease, fray, and loose stitch. It would be far less work to make a new one with stronger and lighter materials. Pyresong babbled about its importance – Naiavara needed no explanation for this. It was Ryllin's slipshod handiwork after all. – and about how the end of the Shadowlands campaign meant they might get sent to colder climates. She was already sat at her desk and began working long before the knight quieted.

"It will take time. I will send for you when I am done." Naivara's answer inexplicably prompted Erila to sit awkwardly in a chair the dredger occasionally used to fetch her books with.

As the hours past, the knight's complete silence began to wear on her. If Pyresong didn't exist so clearly in her peripheral vision she would have been convinced she was alone.  The woman's hair was not a color that occured naturally or unnaturally in Revendreth under any circumstances – though it and the red of her tabbard would be more than at home in the autum colors of Silvermoon.

The wool lining was replaced with something new and lighter. This task was important as the lining made it difficult to wash properly and it primarily existed to cover for the novice enchantment. The cloak radiated faint heat in all directions, and the wool trapped it close to the body. The new lining was enchanted to radiate heat inward only. The outer material shrugged off water, which it needed to since it melted the snow that landed on it. It was rather plain, but the novice creator's focus at the time was solely on practicality – the one quality of Ryllin's clothwork that Naiavara actually appreciated. Naiavara stood and folded the revived travelling cloak neatly. She'd lost track of time, and spent longer on re-stitching than necessary.

Erila was still present. She placed the cloak into the knight's hands with the same professionalism she handled all of her clothwork.

"How can I pay you? You started working before I could ask what it would cost." Pyresong looked like she was about to cry, clutching the cloak against her chest like a child's favored blanket.

"My clothwork is free, as always," Naiavara extended her palm towards the knight, "But my company is not. Your Blood Knight insignia." Pyresong reached instinctively for a pouch as she stepped back. You still have it then, despite leaving the order years ago. Naiavara continued, knowingly, "The rules were changed, no? You would not forfeit your status among them. They will issue you a new one."

The blood drained from the knight's face. "Why?"

"Because it is precious to you. I need no other reason."

Erila fumbled the crest from her pouch. She stared at it, gripping it tight in her hand. She whispered - nay, prayed - to herself as she reluctantly placed the insignia in Naiavara's palm, "No forgiveness without atonement. No atonement without sacrifice." Pyresong recoiled as the shadows swallowed the insignia whole.

Naiavara smiled and coiled her fingers gently around the well-worried and tarnished trinket. "No sacrifice without suffering," Naiavara continued. "Let none say I have treated you with anything but patience and kindness beyond measure, my dearest knight."

"I have fulfilled my promise to you," The Accuser's voice sent shivers up Naiavara's spine. She turned and looked up to the imposing Venthyr. Despite her familiarity with the Venthyr's magic, their sudden and silent arrival still made her jump. "I have watched over the sinstone of Ryllin Rosevein," a long pause, "It is not yours."

Naiavara chewed the inside of her lip. The implications of it swirled in her head with such fervor that she could not tell her own thoughts from the whispers. She had never had a preference, or a hope, on the outcome.

"Do you know your name, voidborn?" Naiavara shook her head slowly. "Do you want to?"

The Accuser's eyes did not lie. It was the end to an existential curiosity she had pointedly ignored since her arrival in Revendreth. The weight of choices and their eternal consequences was lighter than Naiavara expected – warm like a comforting blanket before a hearth, rather than the despair of cemetery bells and the cold weight of manacles she had expected.

"No, I have become fond of this name," Naiavara responded gently.

The Accuser nodded and turned to leave, stopping at the doorway. "Continue your work with that other mortal, voidborn. Pyresong, was it? You have... talent. I look forward to the day you return. If you return, that is."