Settling things between a dwarf and an elf

Ovistine was glad, now, that she hadn't given up her room at A Hero's Welcome; it would likely be another few days before things were back to normal in Stormwind, and with her flat in the Dwarven District–and the Dwarven District still being heavily guarded both inside and outside the gates–she'd just as soon come and go as she pleased.

So it was back to Dalaran, first for a soak in the tub to scrub the last bits of soot off herself and out of her braids, and then, hair tucked up in a towel, bundled up in a robe, off to the balcony with a pint in hand, looking over the beer gardens.

She'd expected the memories to stay — or to come back, at least. She'd had them, she knew it, but they were gone now, something covering them over.

The idea of going back into shadow was a terrifying one–the last thing she needed was to turn into a trogg–but if that was where her memories were, so be it.

She closed her eyes, focused on the clear path she held to the Light, and then dug under it, seeking out its counter. Shadow had always been the wrong word, she'd thought–it wasn't darkness, it was Chaos, all tumbling around and twisting and always, always, drawing her in…

There. Fully engulfed in Chaos, Ovistine kept her eyes closed for a few moments, searching for the way back up. There was nothing above the shadows, nothing past chaos, and while she knew the Light was still there–she'd touched it just moments ago, damn it–she couldn't see it, couldn't feel it.

She swallowed and frowned, resisting an urge to put her arms over her chest and hug herself. It wasn't cold here; it was just hard, so hard being cut off from the Light this way. Coming up from shadows was going to be a leap of faith, when she took it–all about the hope that the Light would still be there when she let the shadows go. And if it isn't? If you change back, and the Light's still gone? What then?

She wasn't going to think about that. Couldn't think about it. Not now. She opened her eyes again, focusing on her memories now–and yes, she remembered. She remembered her mother coming back from the war, the years they'd all spent in Elwynn while Nancie recovered, the way people at the Cathedral would look at her when she came back to see Ovistine–

The paladin who'd taken a rock to the head, the one who'd yelled at Nancie for wearing scarlet. Ovistine shuddered to herself. There were things she'd never asked her mother, questions she'd always left alone, but–no. No, there are other things to think about now. Leave it be. The Third War's over, and she'll tell you when she's ready.

She wouldn't, though. If she hadn't by now, she wouldn't. That was how it was between them–there were things Nancie kept hidden from Ovistine, and things Ovistine wouldn't share with her mum. Plausible deniability, she thought. A goblin's phrase, but probably the right one for this particular topic.

All right. If not her mother, there were certainly other things she needed to sift through. For one…

She sighed and touched her buzzbox, dialing in Valinar's frequency.

"Hello?"

"Val, it's Ovi."

"I'm relieved to hear it–are you well?"

"Aye, an' I'm out of Stormwind for the time being. Val…" She paused to take another sip of her stout. "Are you near Dalaran? I'd like to have a talk with you, if you wouldn't mind."

There was a slight pause from the elf's end of the line, but in the end, he said, "Of course, Ovistine–I'll be there shortly. Where shall I meet you?"

"The beer gardens. I'll order us a wee keg if I get there before you."

"Very well. I'll see you soon."

* * *

Valinar looked much the same as ever, except for one thing–the enormous blue axe he was carrying. It wasn't like Valinar to have an axe on his person in town, either; normally he had a selection of gnomish tools on his belt, and occasionally Ironfoe. The axe was slung across his shoulders, and he propped it carefully against the wall when he took a seat at the table. Ovistine frowned at it.

"That's new," she said. "Looks runeforged, too. Ebon Blade have a hand in it?"

"Yes," Valinar said, eyeing the axe for a moment before turning back to Ovistine. "I'm surprised you recognize the runes."

If he found it surprising that she was in shadowform, too, he didn't say anything about it. Ovistine nodded. "That's my news. While I was in Stormwind, I took to shadows without thinking about it–and when I did, the memories came back."

"That's wonderful–"

"No," Ovistine said quietly. "No, it's not, 'cause that's not all of it. I have them back when I'm in Chaos, but if I step out again, they leave with the shadows. An' while I'm in Chaos, I can't touch the Light–hell, I can't even tell it's there. It looks like all I've done is make things worse."

"It's a start."

"Aye. Well." Ovistine tipped her head to the side, slightly, and looked Valinar over. "I remember our conversation," she said softly. "The me of eight years back had an even harder time talking about these things than I do now, an' that's sayin' sommat." She paused, waiting to see if Valinar had anything to say to that; he was still listening intently, but didn't speak. She nodded and went on. "But the way we left it–I only realized after that we hadn't quite said. So maybe I ought to ask again." She took a drink of her stout, for luck and courage, and met his eyes again. "Valinar–are we dating?"

He paused, too, blinking a few times; finally, the slightest lift to his eyebrows appeared, barely even noticeable unless you were staring right hard in the elf's face, the way Ovistine was doing. He took a small breath, and then said, a little hesitantly, "…yes?"

A broad grin broke across Ovistine's face; she could only hope Valinar could make it out behind the smoke. She'd remember this when she came out of Chaos; she'd kept the memories of fighting, after all. It was only the past she'd lacked, not the present. "Aye," she said, much more firmly. "Muradin's beard! I've been hoping we'd settle that for… a while now."

Not that I know what to do about it, she thought, but we'll work that out later.

"So the axe, there–" Ovistine said, and Valinar glanced at it, too. "Tell me about it, aye? Sommat worrisome enough you didn't want to leave it at home?"

"Yes, exactly," Valinar said, and the story of the axe did not ease her worries in the least.

Jan 25th, 2010
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