Running Away – A Short Story

Running away is easy, it’s the coming back which is hard.

“Here”, the once Priestess took the bottle offered by the Undead. The liquid was cold with an acid tang, burning like shame as it slid down her throat. She shook her head slightly, unused to the alcohol, feeling colour rush to her cheeks as the miscreants of the Dark Moon Faire surveyed her with amusement.

“So”, this time the voice belonged to a fellow Night Elf, although this one clearly hadn’t been anywhere near Darnassus for a long time. “What are you running from? Oh don’t be shy dear, we’re all running from something. Me, it’s not my fault that he died from a dagger in the back. No one joins the Faire unless they’ve got a guilty secret, something dark and delicious hidden inside just waiting to be unwrapped like a square of shiny chocolate or a Winter Veil gift”.

“I’m not running from the Law”, her tone was more judgmental than intended or wise. Once a Priestess of Elune, perhaps always a Priestess.

“Poor you”, this time it was a Gnome that spoke. “Running from yourself is the worst kind of running. You think you’ve found space, a moment’s peace from the demons in your head so you collapse on the grass, take a deep breath and then you see them, tramping across the meadow all tendrils and tentacles. You can’t outrun you…not even with Gnomish engineering. We’re afraid of the hand on our shoulders, the handcuffs of iron, the noose, the brand. You…you’re afraid of you”.

Drawing herself to her full height, the Priestess wrapped the shadows around herself like a shroud, breathing in the darkness to steady her thudding heart. “Hit a nerve, huh?” The Undead and the alcohol were back, “I’m not great on advice but if you can’t escape the monsters in your head, maybe it’s time to confront them. Although if they’re real demons as opposed to metaphorical ones, you might want to go somewhere else before letting them out. Wouldn’t want collateral damage now would we”.

The bottle, still seeming full despite having made many circles of the fire lit crowd found it’s way back into her hand. Closing her eyes, she let her mind wander back to the days before. The taverns after battles, drinking to forget and at memorials, drinking to remember. Those she had saved and those she couldn’t. The losses like knives in her skin, branding her with failure. The lovers, gone but not forgotten. Pained, dust in Theramore, broken bodies everywhere, blood pouring through her fingers as she tried to channel the light. Then rage taking her unaware, catching in her throat, squatting on her tongue so the only notes spilling forth were birthed in tendrils of shadow, searing all before her.

She recalled asking those around her, how they dealt with so much death. Her sisters in blood and her sisters in arms had shrugged, smiled and carried on. Her sister, once a Sentinel, now a Death Knight had sighed not meeting her eyes, her never still fingers sliding up and down, down and up her rune blade. Her lover, a Sentinel still had laughed, kissed, pulled her down into the bed ignoring the blood smears on her armour, immune it seemed to the stench of death surrounding them. Returning to Darnassus in search of answers, the Priestesses there, safe in the Temple miles away from skin puckered with stab wounds, slashed by axes, burnt by fel flames told her the old lies. Discipline, focus, Elune’s work…watch words to live by, if you’re miles from the front line.

The final straw, it wasn’t so much a straw as a moment’s clarity. The enemy changed, Horde, Old Gods, Monsters of every stripe and colour but the injured and the dead did not. From soldiers who mostly knew what they signing up for to children caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, her magic had soothed, healed and given life. She had fought until she could barely stand, until her voice was hoarse with whispered prayers, she had given everything in service to her Goddess and in return had asked for nothing.

Until that day, having collapsed in bed exhausted and drained of magic, she awoke filled with rage and a shadowy emptiness. Had, dragging one foot in front of the other walked away from her responsibilities, from her lover and her friends, from her sister.

Running away is easy, it’s the coming back which is hard.

 

Yes, beneath the illusion there might be some grains of personal truth in this. Madness can and does sneak up upon all of us, it hides in the most innocent of places, twists things beyond recognition and makes monsters out of memories. Post-natal depression is to put it politely a Bitch. 

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One Response

  1. Breathtaking.

    And yes, that goddess of life certainly is.

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