Kelenar sat cross-legged on a rock on the edge of a quiet lake. A small, worn book lay off to the side, in the grass, forgotten for now. Afternoon sunlight beat down on him and nearby, birds sang. Sensitive ears could hear the buzz of insects, the lapping of water against the shore, and wind high up in the trees. The heat prickled and started to burn his skin, but he welcomed it as he sat there, trying to clear his mind. It was an echo of what he’d be feeling later tonight, when the Light would burn him. He put the thought out of his mind, and any thought except the feeling of the rock beneath him out of his mind. Breathe in. Hold for several moments. Breathe out. The air of New Haven had a different smell than that of Eversong where he was so used to doing this. Underneath the strong smell of pine, he could almost smell those graceful trees. It was a smell ingrained in his memory.
“Daddy, daddy, look!” A chubby toddler ran barefoot across the grass to the river’s edge where he sat. Her red hair was fine and short, and wild as a lynx’s pelt. She held a tiny dragonhawk hatchling clutched to her dirt-stained dress. “Mama says I can keep this one!”
Kelenar gave her a wide grin and reached forward to take the tiny chick from her. He cupped the tiny creature in his hands and looked it over carefully. Its eyes were open, and its first set of feathers had begun to grow in, but its weight was under what it should have been and mites crawled around on the tiny body. He smiled up at his daughter and asked, “Remember the prayer I taught you, for curing sickness?” He smiled wider when she nodded seriously and began to recite the prayer in Thalassian. He murmured the prayer along with her, and the little hatchling squirmed in his hands as the Light washed over it like a blast of hot air. It was an uncomfortable feeling, but over before the tiny dragonhawk could do more than squeak indignantly. He handed the dragonhawk back to his daughter and said, “Take her inside the house and make sure mama gives her a warm bath, okay?”
“Yes, daddy.” The little girl ran back to the family’s house. Even from where he sat, he could hear her yelling for his wife. Kelenar shook his head and laughed softly. The little hatchling was in good hands.
Kelenar frowned hard and dismissed the memory. It didn’t happen that long ago, but sometimes it seemed like ages had passed since he’d last seen his daughter. Other times he remembered the last time he saw his family like it was yesterday. Tension had been high. They’d known for days that the Scourge was on the move. No one had ever dreamed of what would happen though. Kelenar’s frown deepened, and he brushed away a fly absently as his thoughts drifted.
“You should take Ellari and head to the city. We’ve transported most of the sick there already.” Kelenar looked haggard. There were dark circles under his eyes, and his hair fell stringy and limp around his face. His robes were stained in places with dirt. He hadn’t slept in days, ever since word had come that the Scourge was on the move. He’d been busy overseeing the transport of patients from the village to Silvermoon City. Behind the gate, they’d be as safe as they could be from the approaching Scourge.
“We’ll be fine. I don’t want Ellari all alone there, and I need to be here in case anyone else needs a portal into the city. We’ll be along with the last of the evacuees.” She handed him a glass full of fruit juice. “Drink. The last thing we need is for you to pass out from exhaustion.”
He waved the glass off. “I’m fine.” At her worried look, he gave her a weary smile. “Really, I’m fine. Once we get everyone into the city, I’ll rest.” He reached into a pocket and handed her a bit of wrapped meat. “For Sunspark. It should put her to sleep for a while. Make sure she gets to the city, too. I’d hate for Ellari to be worried over the dragonhawk.” He looked out where Ellari played with the dragonhawk, sighed worriedly, and headed for the door. “I’ll see you in Falconwing Square just as soon as I can.” His last words to her.
Kelenar glared at the water and dismissed the memory. He reached up with one hand and angrily swiped at his eyes. Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out. In. Out. Slowly, he calmed. He could hear the birds again. Feel the unrelenting afternoon heat. The Scourge. He remembered the last time he’d been called to heal someone like this. The Scourge had been involved then, too. Only, the Plague was far more deadly than this “disease”, and almost impossible to cleanse.
The figure was bandaged so much that Kelenar couldn’t tell if it was male or female, or even whether it was human or elf. Though the injuries healed, the deep, lingering cough and moans of pain bespoke deeper problems, as did the strict quarantine the patient was kept in. Kelenar had heard the whispers earlier. Plague. He knelt beside the patient and touched an unbandaged portion of the patient’s face. The skin was cold and clammy. He frowned. He would have expected a fever, but the disease had advanced far past the point of no return. He sighed and began unwrapping the bandages so that he could touch more of the patient’s face. Underneath the layers of cloth, the patient was clearly a young human man, probably barely of age to train in the military, and now he would die in the snow of Northrend. Kelenar shook his head. There was little he could do for the Plague, but the boy’s commander insisted he try, and so he would.
He placed his hands on either side of the boy’s head. Unlike his human counterparts, Kelenar did not pray over the boy’s unconscious body. The Sin’dorei could channel the Sunwell’s radiance from anywhere on Azeroth, and the Light that played lightly over the boy’s skin was the same Light that burned at the heart of that sacred site. Kelenar felt it like a warm breeze over his skin, under his skin, all the way through him. Superficial wounds on the boy’s skin healed, and Kelenar traced a hand down his face till it rested against the pulse in the boy’s throat. Weak. Kelenar frowned. He said softly in Thalassian, “The human is very weak. He probably won’t survive the cleansing process.”
“You’ve got to try, please. We wouldn’t have made it out there without him.” The human’s commander was a haggard-looking Quel’dorei, bound almost as much as the lad was in bandages.
“No guarantees. The Plague is resistant to Light even in healthier individuals. Call the guards. If he turns, he’ll have to be killed.” Kelenar didn’t wait for confirmation, but instead looked back at the boy. The Light he channeled grew warmer, scalding even, as called on even more of it to burn away the infection. He hissed in pain, but he was scarcely aware of the world around him. He was far more focused on directing the burning energy. First the boy’s head. Nothing could be seen but a soft, golden glow, but the boy tossed and cried out as if it were fire. Kelenar directed it, controlled it, used the Light to scald away any impurities he could sense. The pulse under his fingers was still very weak, but now it raced as if he were fighting for his life again. Perhaps he was. If he died, he would come back as the Lich King’s minion.
He pushed the Light lower, down the boy’s throat and into his chest. Searing Light purified everything it touched, but it was the purity left after a fire. He could sense organs failing as the Light pushed them past endurance but he could do little more than gasp out a quick, “Heal him, quickly!” before continuing with the cleansing. His own skin felt like it was on fire, and he felt rather than saw the many hands holding the boy’s writhing form down. Down farther, and the Plague was mostly cleansed from his body. Then something broke. His heart gave out under the strain and the agony. Kelenar felt the pulse under his fingers weaken, and then hands were pulling him back as the boy’s eyes opened and he struggled harder than he should have been able to against his captors.
Kelenar was too weak to watch as they dealt with the newly risen zombie. They pulled him back to another blanket and he collapsed gratefully. He said softly in Thalassian, “I had him, almost, but he was just too weak. His heart gave out before I could finish cleansing him of the disease.” His head hit the pillow, and he almost didn’t feel them tuck the other blanket around him or check his own pulse and temperature.
“You did the best you could.”
Kelenar gave a snarl of anger and rose from the rock. Clearly, he wouldn’t be relaxing much. He picked the tome up from where he’d dropped it and stormed inside where it was cooler. Perhaps writing would take his mind off the memories.