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The Haunting

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She hadn’t meant to fall into infatuation but by all things that were holy, she’d fallen hard.

Elythos was striking beyond words. Of course, Rohinii wasn’t surprised when she realized the feelings she had for the demon hunter: her wings, the subtle curve of her horns, the strength she could feel behind the sin’dorei’s hugs, those warglaives...

The death knight had forgotten the comfort this feeling brought, and she wanted to drown in it. Even if the draenei’s feelings were not known to the elf, let alone reciprocated, she enjoyed the companionship either way.

So, what if people stare? she’d told herself thousands of times walking through Dalaran with the hunter, laughing at whatever silly thing they were focused on. Two outcasts enjoying life together isn’t such a terrible thing.

Rohinii should have known how terribly naïve she was behaving.

Seemingly from the moment they became friends, words the draenei had never heard before were whispered at the two as they would wander. Elves of all kinds glaring at the couple with a hate Rohinii had never faced before (and  she  walked through  Stormwind  during the height of the  Arthas’s  campaign – and  humans  were the most hateful of all creatures), and it had become too much for her beloved at times that  Elythos  would not leave her apartment without forcing herself to look so different – with potions or charms that, at one point,  Rohinii  had prided herself in creating; sometimes, the demon hunter would constrict her body with clothing that looked more torturous than helpful, and it killed the death knight to witness.

Looking at it from this perspective, she found it absolutely sickening.

It was like the slush of a river when spring would arrive, the warmer waters breaking up the ice but not quite getting rid of it all. It hurt to see Elythos carefully pinning her wings back (it looked almost painful), or for her to collapse in on herself if they were going to wander through a crowded market, or to see the slight flinch of her body whenever that word escaped another elf’s lips.

When the words started to fly, it did not take long for the death knight long to ask what was bothering Elythos, but the demon hunter would always pat the draenei’s head and murmur, the sweetest smile curving at the edges of her scaled lips, “It is nothing.” And they would continue their day, until the next time Rohinii would ask, and then it would repeat.

Things went on this way for quite a while, with Rohinii respecting her beloved’s wishes to not push any further and Elythos keeping her in the dark to the true meanings of what was being snarled at them, until someone physically approached them at the height of the campaign in Zandalar.

“Approach” was putting it mildly: a black-eyed night elf ran up to their table, slamming a knife just before Rohinii while screaming one word over and over again in Elythos’s face, spittle flying everywhere. Before either one of them could react, the kaldorei pushed on Elythos’s chest with all her might, sending the demon hunter to the ground, hard. It was as violent as it was sudden, and it left the entire tavern upside down.

With the crack of the demon hunter’s head against the stone floor, Rohinii was instantly transported back to a time when all she did was shatter bones. As the panic of the prior trauma washed over the death knight, she froze her chair to the floor, the ice slowly spreading from her seat; an unholy scream curdled in her throat, writhing just beneath her skin like an ocean moving beneath a sheet of ice. She couldn’t breathe, feeling the air sucked right out of her chest as her mind went blank, her runeblade’s (or was it her own rage?) whispers demanding blood.

She felt helpless as she watched a dazed Elythos fend off the kaldorei, both elves swinging at each other, sending more blood flying across the room.

A few other elves – demon hunters, mostly, but some not fel-tainted stood up as well as the violence unfolded – stood up and started tearing at the brawl happening on the floor, trying to get them apart. The tavern’s furniture was flipped and broken at the clattering of these strangers, falling over themselves as the night warrior tore at Elythos.

Eventually, Elythos’s clothes tore as she erupted into a brutal beast, towering twice the height of any patron in the café as she faced off the assailant, roaring in a demonic tongue that only seemed to fuel the death knight’s panic.

Other patrons simply stared at the mess of six or so elves trying to end the brawl, while a few fled from the establishment during the screaming match.

Gods, it seemed like this was never going to end.

Hours seemed to pass – had it really only been about five minutes? – before one of the prior patrons ran back into the tavern, guards tailing them. Seeing a demon hunter hunched over with bloodied rips in her clothes towering over a just-as-bloodied night warrior, they didn’t hesitate in knocking them both prone.

They turned to Rohinii, ready to strike her down too, but seemed to stop when they saw the look on her face.

Both elves were removed, and sent off to separate medical bays for further investigation.

Rohinii was given a card – what will a card do for her? – and told to go to that address the next morning to recover Elythos.

She didn’t trust herself to speak, still too wrapped up in her own trauma to trust the words that would escape; so, the draenei just nodded, took the card, and went back to their apartment to wait.

|0|0|0|

Sufficed to say, Rohinii didn’t sleep. She watched the clock on the wall tick by the entire night, sitting on the couch as she waited for the morning to come.

When she did eventually make her way to the address on the card, she wasn’t even allowed to go into the hospital. It was in Horde territory, and, no matter how much she pleaded with the guards, they wouldn’t let her through.

Even though a part of her understood why, it still devastated the death knight.

She waited for another few hours on a bench right at the threshold of the Sunreaver’s Sanctuary, flicking the edges of the card in agitation. She wondered what she could’ve done to help mitigate this situation, what was happening to her companion, what would become of their friendship now.

Eventually, Elythos hobbled out into the streets. She wasn’t wearing what she had had on the day before, donning some basic demon hunter garb. Rohinii opened her mouth to call to her friend, only stopping when she really took in the damage the sin’dorei was left with.

Despite the bandages all over her chest and shoulders clearly being fresh, they were already tinged with the demon hunter’s blood, oozing from what the draenei could only imagine were deep wounds; her wings were outstretched, if only slightly, with long seams of stitching sewn into her wings and one of them encased in a splint; one of Elythos’s horns had a cover over where the rest of it should’ve been, as if it was a cap over an exposed tooth rather than something coming out of her crown; bruises and other scrapes were all over her body, some too shallow for stitching yet not serious enough to call in the need for healing magick.

Seeing her beloved in this state sent rage through her so deeply that Rohinii couldn’t speak, her mouth full of ice shards and curses only banshees relished in letting loose. She didn’t trust herself to open her mouth, and found herself far too overwhelmed to have a complete grasp on reality.

Gods, if only she could get her hands on that kaldorei.

Elythos looked around the street once, a smile stretching over her face when she saw the death knight. She made a move to sit down next to her, her wings carefully clasped over her shoulders like a cape (Rohinii definitely caught the hiss the sin’dorei made when the splinted wing curled over her shoulder, and the rage bubbled in her chest like a scream). The demon hunter collapsed like a tower onto the bench, looking so solid yet entirely frail at the same time.

Watching her, the draenei’s soul began to feel slushy again, the rage slowly quelling at the sight of her friend. She wanted to reach out and touch her, to let the hunter know she was there to support her, but the tingling at the tips of her fingers reminded her of her distress. So, she squeezed her fists shut to keep herself from acting on the impulse.

It took a few minutes before Elythos spoke, and when she did, her voice showed her exhaustion. “I’m sorry.” The demon hunter wasn’t looking at her; rather, her focus steadied on the bleeding tear in the sky, as if lost in thought.

What for? she wanted to ask, feeling the frost tickle her nose as she exhaled slowly. Her eyes never left Elythos’s face, searching it to understand why she was the one that was sorry.

The hunter made a movement as if she were glancing over at her, but her attention soon returned to the sky. “Elves, on either side of the coin, aren’t the best when it comes to being different or having to accept change. I...” She sighed, running a clawed hand through her hair, ruffling it slightly. “I should have told you sooner. What it would mean to be... close to a demon hunter.”

Rohinii felt her heart do a flip, but outwardly she didn’t let it show. Even if Elythos wasn’t expressing anything beyond friendship – why would she? – it was exciting to hear she felt the draenei was close to her.

A soft, almost sad growl escaped the hunter, dragging Rohinii from her thoughts. “On either side of the rift, they still have their prejudices against who they think deserve to exist and those who don’t.” Her hand dropped from her head, gesturing to her body. “As you can see, demon hunters are those deemed unworthy to exist.”

That’s not true, Rohinii wanted to say, a hiss similar to boiling water hitting a snow-covered field escaping her nose as she huffed. You deserve to be here. Just like me, despite what any of these racists say.

The demon hunter’s eyes became soft as she turned to face the draenei. “That’s what we always tell ourselves,” the sin’dorei hunter replied. “But yesterday, it took you along with it. I don’t care if my own people spit on me and curse at me for the choices I made, but to become violent to you?” She shook her head, her brow furrowing in anger. She leaned close and took one of Rohinii’s fists in her hand, squeezing gently. “It’s unacceptable. For that, I am sorry.”

The death knight could feel her heart drop to her feet as panic overcame her from the touch, her eyes checking to make sure she wasn’t harming Elythos – but, there was no ice to be seen. Even as the slush remained in her veins, Rohinii was surprised to see it hadn’t touched the demon hunter.

Elythos squeezed again, her words tinged in sadness. “Xera’lash means many things, but the most common one is ‘half-breed.’”

After a moment, Rohinii’s gaze drew up to Elythos’ face, confusion clear in her words as she asked, her voice hoarse from the scream she’d kept in, “Why does that matter?” The demon hunter’s head tilted, confusion flitting across her face. Before she could speak, the draenei continued, “Half-breed, a quarter, you think it matters to a death knight?” She put her other hand on top of Elythos’, running her thumb over the demon hunter’s skin. “You’re my friend.” You’re more than that to me, she didn’t say. “I would do anything for you.” Until time ends, I will love, if you would let me, she also didn’t say.

The sad smile on her beloved’s face melted, a laugh escaping her lips. “We really do mesh well together, huh?” the demon hunter mused.

Her heart doing cartwheels in her chest, Rohinii murmured, “Of course we do. We’re friends.”

Smiling almost conspiratorially, the demon hunter leaned in and corrected, “Best friends.” She squeezed  Rohinii’s  hand and said, “Don’t you ever forget it.” Standing up slowly, the sin’dorei said, “Now, c’mon. Let’s go get something to eat. I’m starving.”

The death knight figured, even if she did drown in her unrequited love, it’d be a Hell of an end compared to what waited for her in the Maw.

She’d live like this for a thousand years if it meant she’d spent it with Elythos.