The Bittertongues Go to War

Where were you when Arthas fell?

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The Bittertongues Go to War

Postby Bricu » Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:17 pm

Thenia refused to think of her daughters and her son in law, dressed for war. Both daughters, her no good son-in-law and her nearly-perfect granddaughter arrived at once to tell her that the Highlord had called the banners. The Riders were going to war, which meant her daughters were at risk... Instead, she focused on her still limping husband, who stubbornly insisted on putting their granddaughter to bed.

"Sit and relax Thenia." Padraig said, "You worked all day. Besides, I usually put her to bed. You can wake her up."

Padraig didn't mention how Naiara did not want to come near her, or how she fussed when Padraig left the room. She was thankful that Padraig didn't use the words, "phase, stage or fussy." He left it alone.

To keep her thoughts from drifting to Dalaran--and worse--Thenia sorted through Naiara's changing bag. Sets of clothes, cloth diapers, homemade snacks and more stuffed animals than any little girl really needed. At the bottom, she found a large enevlope. It was addressed to Naiara, not to her, in Bricu's hand writing. Thenia took it with her while she made herself tea. As the kettle boiled, she checked to make sure no one in the house was watching her--a useless precaution given that she could hear Padraig reading a story to Naiara--and steamed the envolpe open.

She took out a collection of letters. Some were short notes, others were multiple page affairs. Some were written in Threnn's handwriting, some in Bricu's. All of them were dated.

Thenia found one with today's date--a long letter written by Bricu--and read it.

My wee girl,

If you are reading this, and I didn't give it to you, it means the worst happened at the Bloody Prince's citadel. This isn't a pleasent thought, and writing about it makes me worry all the more. Still, I want you to know that while your mother and I may have died fighting, our last thoughts were of you.

We fought the Bloody Prince for you. Sacrificing our lives was a shit bargain, Naiara, but if it gave you a chance to grow up free of fear from the bastard that destroyed the north, then it was almost worth it. Almost.

I don't know how many questions you have. Your grandma won't answer many of them. Don't hate her for it. Your grandma and I didn't see eye to eye on a lot of things, but I knew she always had your best interests at heart. If she didn't tell you everything, or she only told you terrible things, forgive her. She is only doing what she feels she needs to do. I told your uncles Robert and William to tell you all the stories they heard. Your aunt Tash should have come to visit you, and she knows more about the Old North and your da than your da does. Whatever Riders survived the Bloody Prince Citadel should treat you like a princesses...but these folk, as wonderful and brilliant as they are, will not answer all of your questions. The Riders, no matter how clever or daring they are, never knew what it was like to be an orphan.

You da did. I'm writing this so you know more about your parents.

First: You need to know that your mother and I loved you more than anything else in this world. Only a brother, or a sister, could have come close to our wee girl. Leaving you with your Grandmother was the most difficult choice we made. But we made it, and as hard as it was, we would do it again. Our job was to keep you safe, no matter what happened to us. That didn't stop us from missing you, from worrying about you, or smiling at the thought of you.

Second: Heres the truth about your family--Riders included. Under your godsfather's leadership, broke the King's law. We raided the depths of Ilidan's Temple and pillaged lost artifacts. We took contracts with nobles, double crossed them, and lost that money in fantastically stupid ideas. Your mother bought liquor from all over the world. Liquor that was probably banned, or worse. Your aunt Annie kept two sets of books, one for our records, one for the Kings Tax collectors.

We kept one of those tax collectors in a jar.

All those stories are true. We did some rather nasty things. Still, these stories are just ha. Hopefully, someone told yeh the stories about how we took care of Old Town when no one else would. Maybe you are old enough, now, to see how some folk operate. There are far too many folk, Northmen or Southron, who turn their backs on others. That's not how the Riders do it. Even when folks were bloody stupid, we stood by each other. That's the point o'the Colors. We weren't loyal to a dynsasty in the North or the South, to a church or a faith. We were loyal ta each other an' those that did right by us.

Third: Your mother was the finest example of a Paladin I had ever known. She knew more about the Light than the priests at the Cathedral. She was clever, smart and beautiful. She was stubborn too. She lost the Light when she saved me from a terrible bastard of a man. She did her penance and regained the Light. That's not a usual thing for paladins to do Naiara. Most just give up. Your mother never quit.

Your da... Well, your da was from the North. Your da was a drunk. Your da once told a scary woman--Indarra Grizzelle Leafwhisper--that all holy men were con men. But your da wore the colors proudly. Your da was a fine chef and a master jeweler. Your da washed your diapers with minor complaints. Your da taught you to swear--and if you're still headbutting and fist-fighting, your da daught you that as well--and how and how to do it with style. I wish I could say that your da was a simple bloke who did right by others, but I won't lie to you here. I was a bastard. Worse yet, I make no apologies for that. But make no mistake: My girls were the center of my life. I did two brilliant things in my life: I married your mother and I helped bring you into this world. If I died keeping them safe from the Blood Prince--you should know that your da was at Stratholme and helped burn it to the ground--then so be it.

Your mum and I talked daily about who you would be when you grew up. We thought maybe the first human druid, or a hunter. Maybe you'd turn out like your uncle Tarquin. Maybe you'd be like your mum... Or maybe you'd be a chef. Or maybe you'd decide that all you wanted to do was run your grandparents shop. Your Mum and I want you to be happy. We want you to know that we are proud of you. That you were the most important person in our lives. No matter what you do, you will always be our clever wee girl who learned to say ballacks before she learned to say "Up."

If you miss us, you can do two things: Pray to the Light and your mum should send you a sign somehow. If you ask fox for a boon, in a dream, I'll give you what I can. I've already made a deal with her. She'll take care of you.

I have written a few other letters here, some about the North, some about the Riders. Those are business. This is the letter where your da tries to make it clear that he loved you, that he's proud of you and that he went away to keep you safe.

Love always,

Your Da.

Thenia folded the letter up and put it back into the envelope. She listened for Padraig or Naiara, but neither was making a sound. For the moment, Thenia was completely alone in her home. She sat in her chair and let herself worry about her family, in the North.
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Re: The Bittertongues Go to War

Postby Threnn » Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:52 pm

"I need you to hold onto this for me." Threnn slid the box across the counter and watched the Bells' eyebrows raise.

Robert picked it up and rubbed his thumb across the smooth-polished surface. "This is one of ours, Threnny." He and William shared an identical dubious glance. "What are we supposed to do with it?"

"Just keep it for me, for a little while." She gave them her best smile, but they were having none of it. All of Stormwind knew by now that the banners had been called. Still, Robert might have let her get away without digging any deeper, but Will slipped his fingers along the seam and prised open the lid.

Inside, on cushions of silk, were a small fortune in rings, necklaces, and earrings. Atop all of them rested a letter, one word inscribed in Threnn's flowing hand: Naiara

Robert hissed in a breath, then threw her a glare that would have sent most sensible people scurrying. "I'm not fucking discussing this with you." He moved around his brother, grabbed his toolbox, and stalked over to the door. "You're comin' back, Threnny, an' that's the end of it. Will, if you've any sense, you won't entertain this... this..." His voice broke. He stood there, staring at her in mute rage for a moment, until the tears welled in his eyes. Then he spun on his heel and walked out of the shop, slamming the door behind him.

Threnn and Will stood silently while Robert's boots stomped up the stairs to the apartment he shared with his brother and his father. That door slammed as well, making the shavings of sawdust tremble on the counter.

"Don't mind him," said Will. "He's spent the morning being reminded that we learned to make coffins before ever we made cradles."

She smiled. "We'll be back, Will. This is just... a precaution."

His brow furrowed, an echo of the hurt Robert had so loudly expressed. "You don't hand over your things and write letters like that if you believe--"

"Will." The warning note in her voice was unmistakeable.

He subsided, dipping two long fingers into the box and coming out with an amethyst ring, mounted in silver. "It's fine work. Always has been."

"I told him someday he'd be making rings for queens. She's still just a princess right now, but she'll grow into them."

"And you'll be there to see it." When Threnn didn't answer, Will sighed and put the ring back, closed the lid on the box. "Threnny."


"I'm not making your coffin. You hear me? Bricu's either. So you'd both better come home, or you're spending eternity in a box of subpar quality." He reached across the counter and took her hand. "You come home, and give these to her yourself. Clear?"

The seconds ticked away on the shop's clock as they regarded one another. For once, Threnn dropped her gaze first. "That's the plan."

"Good girl. Now fuck off, yeah? I hear there's some big to-do up North you ought to be at."

Threnn looked up at the ceiling, towards the apartment above. "Should I go see him?"

"Nah. He's liable to say something stupid. I'll have him buzz you later, when he's feeling appropriately contrite." Will came around the counter and wrapped his arms around her.

Threnn breathed in the scent of sawdust and wood polish that had been a comfort to her since childhood. Eventually she pulled away, her eyes dry. "I'll see you in a few days."

"Damned right." He tousled her hair and dodged her swat. When the door closed behind her and Threnn had melded into the foot traffic heading for the trade district, Will sank to his knees and said a prayer, begging the gods to watch over them all.

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