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Small Steps [Vel Snapshot]

#1
Perhaps it’s better I don’t have a resting place present, Velameestra mused, her ears twitching at the chorus of the wildlife that had only become louder as the sun set. Frogs. Bird calls. Singing insects. The screeching of bats and cackles of wild animals.

The elf had not experienced the night life of the Echo Isles the last time they had visited. She and Zuni had left by boat to the graveyard isle so she could find passage to the cool sanctum of Northrend (unbeknownst to him) well before night had fallen–and life had long abandoned the hallowed isle across the strait.

It was beautiful, in a way.

Perhaps in another life she would have grown annoyed by any of her already-light sleep getting interrupted by the near-constant cacophony, but with her demise had come an ability to sleep as soundly as a deadman–during the circumstances she could manage it, anyway.

Even the biting insects the sleeping nets of the nearby village implied didn’t prove a nuisance. Perhaps her flesh was too cold to register as a meal despite the blood beneath it. Perhaps the aura of undeath that beasts sensed warned them away. Perhaps there was a kinship there–an acknowledgement that she was a blood-feeding hunter instead of potential prey. Or perhaps it was all of the above.

She closed her eyes, noting the soft glow of Arkha’din as the mana wyrm investigated a hole in the tree she was perched in. Her lips thinned, her recollection of the day filtering back through the sounds of the wildlife.

...Or perhaps not.

Sleep had at least been dreamless ever since Kel’Thuzad had further enchanted the ring on her finger. From what further observations had been made, sleeping dead did not seem to dream even without such protections. From how the druids had spoke, the Emerald Dream was the realm of dreams as readily as it was the realm of life–the fact the dead could no longer connect to it made sense, ultimately.

More of a blessing than it was a curse, in truth–given the phantasms that periodically haunted the corners of her waking mind, let alone her sleeping one.

Rest was, finally, the haven it was meant to be–another boon to accompany the numerous banes she had chosen.

The vampyr tapped the tip of her pen on the journal opened in her lap, and her eyes slid open to look at the blank page.

“...I don’t think I’m writing tonight.”

Vel closed the thick book with a soft thump, and seeing his opportunity, Arkha’din abandoned whatever creatures he had started to harass within the tree to instead coil himself on his Mistress’s now-bare lap. Her hand came to rest on his head, her middle finger absently stroking the ridges over his eye.

There was plenty to journal. The multiple sources of frustration in Zandalar. The scholarly curiosity of the culture she had witnessed–one few elves likely had the opportunity to do so. The satisfaction of knowing children on the streets would have a safe place to rest and eat. The bittersweet melancholy at witnessing a reunion between parent and child, one she had been able to arrange.

The sadness and confusion at the second one failing, and the rage at the realization as to why it had.

An apprehension suited for the evening before the moment when her own mother’s nightmare could finally be ended.

She felt her heart twist painfully.

That was the real reason she couldn’t write. It wasn’t the lack of words, but more a fear of exploring a menagerie of coiled emotions. She should have been happy, but instead there was a sense of dread and distrust.

Something could go wrong, and even if nothing did, there was still the barrier of resurrection.

...and the war she’ll come back to… along with the changes it wrought.

The elf picked at the bark of the tree, cracking a piece off that she moved between her slender fingers. Her long nails scratched at the bark–still short enough to be dismissed as a stylistic choice, but durable enough to indicate their supernatural origin. Her lips thinned, and she tossed the piece of bark off the branch–listening to it clatter quietly through the foliage far below before she leaned back against the trunk.

She was certainly not the scared, six-year-old, little girl her mother had left behind.

...Things were much simpler when Zalazane was the most dire thing we were dealing with.

But that wasn’t the case. Not anymore. Her brother wasn’t even here to see the resolution through.

Her brother didn’t even know the resolution had come, and he wouldn’t for… probably months longer.

Instead we’re neck deep in a demonic plot leading to a dragon-fueled insurrection. Slay me.

It was empty venting, serving largely to chase the gnawing feeling of dread from the shadows of her mind–though the forced sigh that followed lacked the effect it once had. The flow of air was more alien than appeasing, and her shriveled lungs stretched awkwardly in her chest.

“Hmph.”

Her ears twitched. She could have sworn she heard the faint sound of laughter, crackling like a burning twig, on the breeze.

At the very least, Kel, she said, jerking her mind from the beginnings of an overactive spiral and allowing a humorless smirk to touch her dark lips.

After tomorrow… we’ll be clear to get you a body back.

Another resolution. Another success.

Yet it seemed so… miniscule against the looming tower that continued to rise.
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