Last Rites

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Last Rites

Postby Jolstraer on Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:21 pm

((The following is the finished story of the Last Rites of Jol Taborwynn, as written by Jolly and Anna. <3))

As guests mingled in the open air of Stormwind Harbor, Jol Taborwynn stood like a pleasantly stoic statue amidst it all. Bedecked in his well-polished ceremonial armor, he had wanted to give an honor to the organizer of this remembrance of the Longest Night.

It was not his only motive for venturing so far South for the evening.

Aely had made her way around like a good hostess, and inquired as to how his evening went.

"Ah need ah favah," he murmured to her, not to be overheard by the gathered crowd.

"Ayeh? Wha's 'at?" she asked, good-natured curiosity reading easily on her face.

Jolly's pleasant facade faltered, and a look of grave seriousness crossed over him. "Me Last Rites."

She blinked at him, totally taken aback. "Y'r...th' hell?"

Jolly cleared his throat, raising his voice and plastering back on that eerie smile. "Twae days. Come by tha fahm, ayeh?"

She nodded, somewhat numbly, and put the hostess face back on. Jolly, in the meantime, checked the time.
Last edited by Jolstraer on Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"I left my home where the dead never rose
But the streets of gold i've yet to find
And at the end of the day all you can do is pray
Without hope well you might as well be blind, yeah be blind
Tomorrow comes a day too soon"
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Re: Last Rites

Postby Jolstraer on Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:22 pm

For the second time in as many months, Aelflaed found herself riding towards the small farm out in the rolling fields of Hillsbrad. Her clothes were heavier now, and within the folds of her felted woolen cloak she felt the small vials of holy oil she hoped she wouldn't actually need. She couldn't tell if she liked this particular trip any better than the last, but there wasn't much for it. She opened the gate, pushing it aside as she looked over the empty fields. Fields she'd helped empty, if she thought about it. Everything was set in its place for winter, leaving nothing out but a haystack and a cord of wood stacked alongside the barn.

The little house was lit, and with no curtains, she could see its lone inhabitant inside.

She knocked.

The door opened with a gruff greeting; Aely stepped inside.

"Oi, Jols. Ye tol' me t' be here, an' I came. Th' hell air ye oan 'bout?"

The aged paladin looked gaunt, thinner and sunken from the last they had seen each other a mere two days before. Where then he had seemed his usual, if tired self, he now, seemingly overnight, was little more than a shadow of what she'd expected to see. His hands were bony and gnarled, and gone from them most pointedly was the pearl-set ring that had been imbued to channel away the Scourge taint within him. He had taken it and thrown it into the Tarren River before going to Stormwind on the anniversary of the Longest Night.

"Ah've got some thin's 'ere ah need yeh tae take wit' yeh, aftah all's said an doen."

"Ye ... wha'?"

"Me time's come, lassie. Ah cain' keep gaen oan wit' half-magic measuahs an' dahk trickerah. Ah've done ev'rahthin' but made me peace. An' ah could think of...nae, ah could 'ope fer nae wunn annah bettah 'en yeh tae 'elp mah wit' 'is final task."

She blinked, swallowing the lump that had been growing in her throat. "I... ye dinnae wan' t' ask Bricu air one ay th' priests?"

"Brick? Nae, ah couldnae put 'is oan 'im 'er Thrennah. 'Ey've got ah futuah tae take care 'o. Ah willnae burden 'et."

Aelflaed tried, and failed, to wrap her mind around the whole situation. Righ, ye dinna' have t' be done grievin' 'fore he's gone, lass. Y'r here f'r sommat - an' ye dinna have owt t' do bu' comfort a man dyin'. Get oan wi' it. After a moment's pause, she spoke again. "Righ'. I... I'm nae glad t' be here, bu' I'd nae be anywhere else t'night, f'r no sum ay coin. I've th' proper oils f'r blessin', an' nowhere t' be bu' here." She attempted a reassuring smile, patting the pocket of her cloak.

"Ah cannae gae wi'oot confessin' me sins." He shambled over to the chair beside the worn table, moving like a man twice his age. "Let me tell yeh o'Stratholme."
"I left my home where the dead never rose
But the streets of gold i've yet to find
And at the end of the day all you can do is pray
Without hope well you might as well be blind, yeah be blind
Tomorrow comes a day too soon"
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Re: Last Rites

Postby Jolstraer on Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:24 pm

The streets were slick and made walking an effort. Jol moved through them with an emptied stomach, unable to banish from his mind the faces that he had seen all throughout the day. He had to get away from it - no more could he take. Corporal Housman had taken to the task; a good King's man. Hausman found no glee in it, but he took to it, "For the sake of all Lordaeron."

House after house, crowd after crowd. The sick laughter of those that took to the bloody fury echoed down desolate streets that had once held a much different laughter. Jol's sword - damn the blade! - was unsheathed and covered from hilt to point in blood and gore. He could not stand to look at it, but feared leaving it behind unless another ravenous mob descended upon him; not all of them had been so helpless as that first mass of people. Not all of them had been living.

Neighbors. Friends. Souls he'd seen at the tavern sharing a mug of mead and trading stories. He had not yet seen the faces he feared to see. He had checked bodies when he could; oh Light, did he check. Still, somewhere in this city, they had to be found. They would not have known well enough to leave days or weeks before. How could they? They were helpless, innocent. Those words made his stomach churn again, and he had to lean his hand against a wall to steady himself. When he regained his constitution, he was forced to shudder at the sight of half of a boy's questioning face looking up at him.

His trudge turned to a run.

He wanted to call out as the scenery became more and more a tragic painting of what fond memories had once appeared. He burst into one of the back alleys, his booted feet pounding down the pavement. Down a set of steps to the cellar he nearly lept, fumbing with the latch. The bar hadn't been dropped into place. Laight, let 'em be gone. Let 'em be gone, an' let 'em be...

He burst through the opened door and past sacks of grain and turnips, casks of brandy and cider, his woodworking tools. Up the cellar stairs he pounded, uncaring of whether or not he startled whoever might be in the hall. Please, Laight, let 'em be... Into the front room he slid to a halt, throwing his helmet off and peering about frantically. Laight...

Red hair peekd over the back of the chair nearest the broad window. The chair was facing away from him, and nothing moved, save for dust motes trapped in the light that flitered few. His sword wavered in his hands, and his feet felt rooted to the floor. Fear paralyzed him; he didn't dare move forward to find out what had become of her, but he shuffled forward numbly because he had to know.

"They're gone now."

Her voice was hollow, her words sounding as if she were talking of weather that would ruin the crops.

"Laight, 'Dranna..." His sword arm dropped, dragging he blade as he rushed to her side. Light, she was alive. Maybe he could put this human hell behind him. He just had to get her out of here. Had to get little Tristessa out of here...

"Did 'ey 'urt yeh love?" he asked, fear still keeping a leash on him. He reached up and touched her face, but she didn't look at him. She just sat there, staring out into the street at the bodies, and the licking of flames at the tailor's shop down the way. Her face was slack, but there was no deathly pallor. No filming of the eyes, or any of the other dozen horrid signs. She simply sat there, staring. She didn't even care that there was blood on his gauntlets.

"'Dranna, me bonnie lass, dunnae worrah nae. Ah'm gonna git us outta heah. 'Ey won' come back, nae now. We 'aftae 'urrah, me lassie. C'mon nae." He tugged at her hands to get her to stand, but she felt so...lifeless. Her hand merely flopped back in her lap, and her eyes fluttered slightly as she peered across the way. The tailor's shop was fully engulfed now, and had touched off the baker's shop.

"'Dranna, love, talk tae mah," he pleaded.

"Go where? Tae tha gibbet wit' yeh?"

He recoiled as if struck; the flat manner in which she said it struck him cold. Her eyes. They turned on him then. Such fiery green that had captivated him years before, when he had come home from the south and was greeted in a little pub outside the city by a warm smile and waiting mug. He had spent days and half his pay just sitting and staring after her in the tavern most nights, watching her sway to and fro serving the patrons with a gracious smile and a kind heart. She wanted to save the world, for everyone, and did it in her own way - lending a listening ear, a comforting smile, a hug or a pat on the back. He loved her so much for that one thing alone, and then for so much more.

Her hair swayed as she looked at him, hair he had loved to run his hands through. Her eyes...they were dry, red with tears she had cried out. Haunted eyes. Though the rest of her remained gaunt and drawn, those eyes betrayed her.

"Laight, 'Dranna, nae. Ne'er! Ah'd ne'er dae such ah thang--"

"Where else should ah go but tae ah gibbet?" she whispered frightfully, and broke down again. She came up out of the chair as fast as the summer rain that swept down from the coast, pushing him back up to his feet and clutching his armor. She pressed on him a furious kiss, full of fright and desperation.

Jol returned the kiss halfly, then took her gently by the shoulder and pushed her back, staring into her eye. "Why, love? Why would yeh?" Fear yanked on the leash, climbing into his belly and up into his throat.

The gaunt look cracked, and sobs drew her lips together harshly. "Ah couldnae let 'em git tae 'er. Ah wouldnae. Tha Prince cannae take me girlie, Jol. Ne'er. Ne'er in a thousan' lives would ah let 'im. Mah han's, nae 'is. Ne'er!" Anger and anguish were taking their turns with her, wringing her dry.

Jol took it in slowly, a gnawing pit yawning deep within. "Wot're yeh talkin' 'bout, love?" he asked slowly. It wasn't right, what she was saying. It didn't make sense. Laight, it cannae make sense. 'Et's tha shock, tha carnage, tha...

Aedranna Taborwynn looked over his shoulder, down the hallway and to the back rooms of their modest home. It struck him then, like a hammer to the gut. The gnawing pit began to rumble.

Pushing himself away from her with a slack look, he shuffled down the hallway. Peering into the small room off of their own bedroom, he looked on the sleeping form of his only daughter, as she lay beneath the covers. Behind him, Aedranna rambled on. "Sil'erleaf. She loved tha tas'e. She wasnae feelin' good - takin' oan ah fevah. Said she'd 'ad muffins up 'et Gorley's 'ouse yeste'day." The gnawing pit began to roar in his ears. "Dreamfoil. She was squirmin' sae bad, an' she was 'urtin'. Sae ah made 'er ah tea. Please, love. Please. Ah dinnae 'ave annahthin' else but 'et. She was 'urtin' sae bad. Our daughtah. Our onlah daughtah Jol..." Aedranna broke down then, her head in her hands, sobbing hysterically.

Dreamfoil. She was so young. So full of life. Dreamfoil.

His hand tightened...

Arthas.

"...by my hand..."

...and tightened...

Mal'ganis.

"...help us! Please..."

...and tightened...

His daughter.

"Please, Jol, my heart. Please..."

...shaking, he couldn't stop shaking...

Bettah tae die...

The gaping maw howled, a terrible roar that leaped up out of the soul and gripped him with unimaginable strength. He roared, a fiery sound of pain and retribution, of horror and frustration and guilt. The world shuddered. Guilt. His roar was not alone, he whirled and lashed out. Metal banged and clanged. His world blurred.

Something heavy. On his arm. His hand, clutching...

Damn tha blade.

Blood drained from his face. Her eyes, fiery green and so full of life, looking up at him with pleading pain.

"Ohhh Laight..." he whispered in a shuddering breath. Her weight leaned heavily upon him, doubled over awkwardly. Over his hand. Over the sword that had found refuge in her belly. Her mouth worked soundlessly as her body slumped to the floor. He couldn't hold her up, withdrawing the blade with another shuddering breath. The sword clanged on the wooden floor when he saw the blood, fresh blood, staining his hands. Her mouth worked soundlessly, no breath with which to speak. He knelt over her close, shoving his hands over the wound, trying to stop it, oh Light, trying to keep it all from getting away.

"'Dranna love please no lass don't--" the words spilled out as he panicked, working over her furiously, as helpless as a child trying to save the world. Her eyes pleaded at him in a question, and never left his face. "No, 'Dranna, dunnae leave mah lass! 'Dranna!"

"J-Jol!? Ah l-lov--" she gasped.

"NoooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! 'DRANNA!"

His yells were wild, clinging to her as life itself faded from his world.

All that was left were the tears, and the pain, and the flames that bathed the skies of Stratholme.
"I left my home where the dead never rose
But the streets of gold i've yet to find
And at the end of the day all you can do is pray
Without hope well you might as well be blind, yeah be blind
Tomorrow comes a day too soon"
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Re: Last Rites

Postby Jolstraer on Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:26 pm

Opening his eyes from the remembrance of the tale, he saw across from him something Aely figured enough young soldiers had seen to be comfortable with herself in the role. Even with her cheeks wet with tears, her face was composed and her voice was steady as she spoke.

"Ye are blessed, Jolstraer Taborwynn, for th' Ligh' dinnae hold back, an' will always relieve ye ay burden. May ye fin' th' peace ye seek, an' forgive y'rself as ye have so found it here." She placed her hands on his forehead, pulling enough Light to create a warmth that would, she hoped, soothe away at least the raw edge of memory.

The two paladins passed a few moments in mostly comfortable silence.

"'Ese thangs heah, oan tha table..." he said with a dry throat, and took a sip from the cup of mulled wine he had been nursing throughout the day. "Me fathah's smithin' hammah, fer Thrennah," he said, nudging the well worn and black-headed tool. "Some flowers fer Sky," he said, motioning to a vase full of purple Stratholme Lillies. His hand moved to hover over a carefully wrapped and tied parcel. "Ah wee bit o somethin' fer Fellsie's bairns. Me Lordaeron colahs." He leaned back in the chair tiredly, sagging in its confines. "Sae much moah. Ev'rathin' ah give tae me friends o'ese las' few yeahs. An' sommat fer yeh."

She sat down, sipping from her own mug. "Ayeh?"

"All o'is," he said, waving a hand vaguely in the air. "Tha farm. Tha lan'. Take it, sell it, burn it, find yeh ah strappin' lad an' raise ah brood ah bairns yeself. Wot'e'er tha Laight in yeh wan's tae dae wit' 'et. Annahthin' but let ahnothah ol' soul waste awey in 'et's confines."

"... oi. Jols... ye sure? I mean... Laigh'... " She blinked back tears again.

"Ayeh lassie. Yeh ken tha land. Yeh han's've been in 'et. Wouldnae dae tae let ahnothah. Ah willnae trus' 'et tae annah othah.

He stopped, his body shaking with a deep, rattling cough. Aely moved to support him, but he waved her away grumpily. She took his shoulder anyway, wishing she could will strength, life into him instead of only Light, which against this one enemy could do nothing.

He huffed and regained his lungs a bit, his sour look fading. He knew as well as she did what it was that was killing him. And both knew there was little else they could do now to defeat it.

"Ah've watched foah brothahs die," he said tiredly. "Paet and Brogar fell tae Orcs. Trahaern fell off'n ah 'orse an' broke 'is neck at tha en' o'tha war. Leoric fell tae tha Scourge. Allo 'em died 'et 'ome." A ragged sigh escaped him. "Ah s'pose ah get tae be tha fuhst tae break tr'dition." He took a deep breath again, pulling himself to his feet. "Bu' 'ere's wunn ah willnae break." He shuffled over to the armor rack, pulling off the oiled cloths to reveal the polished steel and cobalt. "Tae tha He'ven's in Steel ah'll ride."

Aely nodded silently, torn between offering help and letting him buckle the heavy armor on himself for the last time. Prudence won out over pride and she stepped in to help him buckle on the armor that he'd so carefully cared for, even in the months he'd spent tending his crops. She stopped short of the heavy shoulderpieces, their huge eagle's wings seemed overburdening, but he insisted, the weight registering on his face but not his posture.

He looked at her, sitting down on the end of the only bed in the little house.

"Yeh stron' enou' tae dae wot's goin' tae come nex'? Tae take care o' 'is all 'at ah donnae rise up ag'in's yeh?"

"I dinna have much choice, yeh?" She cracked half a grin, trying (and rather failing) to ignore what that would eventually mean.

"Ah willnae hol' it ag'in's yeh lassie. Laight's promise, ah willnae."
"I left my home where the dead never rose
But the streets of gold i've yet to find
And at the end of the day all you can do is pray
Without hope well you might as well be blind, yeah be blind
Tomorrow comes a day too soon"
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Jolstraer
 
Posts: 375
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Location: Behind the business-end of Three Feet O'Steel

Re: Last Rites

Postby Jolstraer on Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:27 pm

Aely sat, blinking at the three small vials of oil sitting on the table. Each was fragrant, easily identified by smell - the kind of scents that embedded themselves in memory; each blessed for an occasion in life, some in all lives, some only in the lives of those that took oaths to serve the Light. She'd said these words to dying soldiers and the sick; they were ingrained in her memory like her name - even down to the variations given for different occasions, for someone very ill who might recover, or for someone who was not long from breathing their last.

She let that part of her take over, the part that knew what to say, and could say it without thinking.

She opened the first, almond oil. "To remin' ye ay y'r birth, ay th' innocence wha' comes frae childhood. So ye may have th' peace ay a child in life an' in death." She smudged the oil on his forehead and on the palms of his hands, mimicking the rite performed over infants to keep them safe and healthy.

The second was more fragrant, and sharper - balsam, the sacred oil used when priests and paladins took their vows and orders, the oil she carried with her in the necklace Phileas had made. "To remin' ye always ay bein' filled wi' Light, as ye were on th' day ye firs' took up its service. May ye walk wi' Light in this life an' th' next." She smudged again, the same anointing that was done when a Paladin joined the Silver Hand.

The last was dark and woody, almost haunting - oil of olibanum. The smell snapped her back from habit to reality, and she saw again the other paladin before her. She choked. The words she knew, had said so many times, wouldn't come.

Jol took her hand in his own, placing it on his forehead, his voice as tired as the lines on his face. "Tae remin' ye o' yer life, an' tae aid yeh in lettin' gae o' 'is worl'..." Through her tears, Aely joined him "... tha' ye may have th' peace an' rest wha' cannae be foun' in this life, an' only comes frae th' next."

A long silence passed between them, with Jol closing his eye and murmuring a final wish for only he and the Light to hear. A tear leaked from the corner of a wrinkled eye. "Ah willnae tell yeh nae tae cry, lassie - onlah tae ken 'et yeh've done moah'n ah coulda 'oped, tae come heah, 'at ah could go in peace like this."

"Ligh' - 's th' leas' I c'n do? I mean - I dinna think I'd be here wi' owt wha' ye did back up in th' Dragonblight. Figure if I cannae do owt bu' be here, then I'm here."

"Wunn...las' bit o' a'vice, lassie. Yeh fin' yeself wunn 'oo loves yeh, an' 'oo yeh love moah'n life itself...yeh devote yehself tae 'em. Tha Laight's work'll be doen in 'at. Ah promise yeh."

She blinked at him, trying to come up with something that would fill the silence. She settled on "I'll promise ye tha', Jols. An' tha' I'll bring 'im here, too."

"Tha's ah good lass. Good place tae b'gin ag'in. Ayeh." He sighed, settling back into the covers.So they sat, her in the chair and him resting over faded quilts, wearing the armor that had protected him but that he had refused to let define him for the last thirty-five years. Every now and again she would stop, listening to his labored breath, only to find him laying back and fighting to hold on, the old Paladin's spirit unwilling to go down quietly.

Aely didn't realize that she'd fallen asleep there, watching - or maybe she hadn't, and they had spent the night talking after all. It was something she'd never truly be sure of. But when she did finally realize that dawn was creeping around the edges of the mountains, little sunbeams poking out from behind the steep firs of Alterac to the north, she also realized that she could no longer hear the rattle that had occupied the room for what seemed like years but was really only a few hours.

She stood up, resting her hands on his face, looking at the sheer peace she found there. For a man who'd spent nearly all his life fighting, he certainly deserved the rest. He deserved to go Home.

"Ligh' Bless ye, Jols." And she cried.
"I left my home where the dead never rose
But the streets of gold i've yet to find
And at the end of the day all you can do is pray
Without hope well you might as well be blind, yeah be blind
Tomorrow comes a day too soon"
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Re: Last Rites

Postby Aelflaed on Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:29 pm

It didn't take long for the dry timber in the little house to catch. Jolly hadn't build his farm carelessly, and the house was far enough away and downwind from all of the other buildings. Plague in a house meant it wouldn't be livable afterward, and she knew she didn't have long before the call of the dead would come for him, Paladin or not. Facing down his death was bad enough, but facing him down after wasn't something she thought she could ever deal with. So the house burned.

Standing before the makeshift pyre, watching the last remnants of Jol Taborwynn, closer to being a father than anyone she'd known in fifteen years, fly in whisps of smoke into the early morning Hillsbrad sky, she sang. A strong, mournful, keening wail - the song of her mothers, aunts, and grandmothers, the song of the women of the North, of the people of Lordaeron, who even in the presence of death will not be broken.

Warrior, your battles are over
Worker, your tasks are complete

Here all your hurts will find healing
Your weariness here will have rest

Into the Shining land, the Light will enfold you
All that ever was is there, and none will be forgotten.

The Light of the setting sun guides your way
You go to the great halls of memory in the west.
[5.OOC] Beltar: Hammer of What The Fuck Were You Thinking
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Re: Last Rites

Postby Aelflaed on Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:43 pm

((Aely will need to meet up with the following people over the next couple of days/weeks:

Bricu/Threnn/Naiara
Varenna
Skyborne
Fells
Tarquin

She has something(s) for all of them.))
[5.OOC] Beltar: Hammer of What The Fuck Were You Thinking
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