A Strange Sleep

Part I – Homecoming

Pleiadia Moonstriker, age 2514, had been feeling rather out of it for the past day. It was like someone had put her in a state of druidic sleep, but she could guess that the circumstances were very much different.

The problem was that she wasn’t quite up to speed yet, heavily disorientated. Right now, all that mattered was that she was back, alive and whole, in her husband’s arms. The look on her face spelled relief, but there was also something else hidden, a certain fire Veridius had grown to identify readily. When Pleiadia was in such a mood, he was along for the ride. There was no true way to stop her. She was twice as strong as he was, for starters.

“You seem…spirited, my love,” he caughed gently.
“You haven’t seen ‘spirited’ yet,” Pleiadia said with a wicked grin as she tossed him right onto the bed strongly. “And you will not escape my desires today. I’ve been away. For…far…too…long.”

That next morning, Veridius smiled widely as he held her slumbering form on his chest. She looked almost angelic, but he knew what minx was lurking in that person he called a loving wife. In truth, he had been the only one comfortable with the lying she had proposed earlier while still very dead. If it meant that Pleiadia was back alive, it didn’t matter to him what he had to do. If it meant being exactly like this and a hot night every night, he’d gladly do it. If it meant walking through hellfire, he’d do it. He was that dedicated to his wife. And Pleiadia was worth it.

She stirred to wakefulness on his chest and gave him one of those satisfied smiles she always handed out, and a kiss on the lips. Veridius knew what his wife had been through, and he decided that it was wise to simply let her have free reign until she finally got her head back together again. This would make it a second time, but this time as a living being.

“Beloved, you will always have me,” she whispered as she laid back down on his chest.

Veridius did hear her heart going very strongly, very slowly. It was her nature when she had reached this type of calm.

To him, this did not matter. He had Pleiadia back. This was his wife, and he would never let anyone take her away again. If it meant getting her pregnant, he’d gladly stomach a ninth child. All that mattered was Pleiadia in his world, and he would do anything to keep her.

“Get some sleep, Pleiadia. I’ll hold you all day and night if you need me to.”

His words were all she needed right now, and the close proximity. Pleiadia had come home…

Family was coming over that afternoon, and that meant they had to be nice again, so they were in bed until about noon before finally starting off the day. Pleiadia had chosen, as per her usual cutom, the same novice priestess robes she wore so long before. The meal was prepared by Gwyneth since she was still trying to make sure everything was all right. Her mother had been through a great ordeal, and she knew that it was a delicate time. Pleiadia’s mental state would be fragile for at least two days, and then she’d be more along the lines of confused for the next five after that. The shock to her system was that great.

“Sister, you look great.”

Pleiadia turned to see Iria approach with her Shadow. Shadow was the interesting one for the day. Shadow would normally never go up to Pleiadia immediately. This day was different. Shadow nuzzled her and then jumped up to put his paws on her shoulders to nuzzle her face next.

“I’ve never seen this big kitty cat do that before,” said Gwyneth with a raised eyebrow.
“Shadow was always very perceptive of emotional states,” smiled Iria. “This is a first for me, too. I suppose Shadow knows what my sister, your mother, is feeling right now.”
“Shadow, I missed you, too,” Pleiadia smiled as she scratched his ear.

The animal dropped back down and returned to Iria’s side, also rubbing against her. Shadow was feeling lovey dovey it seemed…

“You seem better than when we last met, Pleiadia. You were not exactly in a good shape.”
“I suppose getting beat up does that. I’m glad you came to the rescue as quickly as you did.”

Iria did not tell her the cover story, so it surprised her that Pleiadia parroted it off as detailed as could be expected for the still confusion in her mind. Iria made a slight grin and nodded heavily. Was it possible that all that preparation had somehow created the false memory in the first place? Iria would never know, but it was a good working theory.

“It wasn’t easy, sister, but I managed. Never doubt the power of a well intentioned and highly motivated Hunter.”

Such wise words should have warned Pleiadia that things were not as they seemed, but Iria was trying to reenforce the story. The truth was something Pleiadia was not quite ready for yet. Few people would believe the real truth in all honesty. Reversing Undeath to the point that one forgets that it even happened? It was a strange, once-in-a-lifetime certified miracle, and those rarely ever happened.

The mother showed up next, and gave a knowing smile. She knew this was exactly what her daughter needed. It began things with a clean slate again. She was not surprised, however, that Pleiadia remebered being Elder Matron to the family. Some things would be forgotten, but others were not so easily forgotten. Responsibility was one of the few things Pleiadia always remembered; as a Sentinel, it was her defining trait. Tyrande had often noted that in many asides. Also her devotion, but that was another story for another day.

“Mother, it is good to see to you again.”
“I could never forget to see the glorious return of my own daughter from Northrend. You have made quite the name for yourself there. Many leaders have given very high praise of you and your bravery.”
“I would hope so,” Pleiadia said with that one smile her mother recognized.

It was that smile that told her that Pleiadia would be all right, that part of the forgotten self was still there to answer the obvious question. Was it the right thing to do? And the obvious answer…

Yes, it was, and I will no longer be a part of your world. I will be at rest, and life will be in my previous place. Not death anymore.

Sitting on the small desk was a volume, a book, a Diary…Attached to its front was a small note…Pleiadia had not noticed that Diary before, did not make it out to be one…Eventually, though, she’d get around to looking at it.

The Diary would explain everything, but only so much…Right now, it was just a volume that inhabited her desk.

Of no true value quite yet…

Dinner was prepared in short order, and the whole family ate in the cold of Winterspring. Over thirty people flocked in one spot was sure to gather the attention of some of others Pleiadia had known in her travels. One such face was Grus…She immediately looked up and saw the Death Knight, recognizing his face. But there was a hidden sorrow Grus was not quite ready to tell her.

Yet Pleiadia already knew the answer. She was there after all. She had tried to aid the defenders of LIght’s Hope against that atttack.

“I’m so sorry, Grus.”
“I am fine, savage warrior.” -His customary greeting.- “How have you been, Pleiadia?”

He walked up to her and hugged her tightly. He could tell she was very much alive, and her emotional state reflected it. Pleiadia was always very close to those she called friends, even closer to those she called comrades-on-the-field. Grus was the latter. A hardened fighter she had grown to respect and get very close to…

Grus let go and opened a small box he had been meaning to give to her before the transformation, but it was as good a time as any here, too. It would mean more after the change in all honesty.

“This is what I made for you. I am quite skilled as a jewelry maker.”
“Oh, you shouldn’t have, Grus. They’re so beautiful.”

A pair of garnet crescent moon ear rings…She had always been attracted to the stone for some weird reason. Grus was polite and put them on her himself. This orc was someone she had grown to trust over a long time period, and this was perhaps his most gentle gift yet. Pleiadia gave Grus a peck on the cheek and returned to Veridius’ side.

“I also brought along a few others.”

Aurora Harkness and child had appeared…Ashanti Wildmoon, Xander Baine, Tinker Goodwrench…Everyone she had ever known was here. It had warmed her heart to know that so many came to see how she was holding up. Pleiadia quietly thanked Elune for this. She knew what this meant to her. It meant everything to her to see her old friends show up en masse like this.

There was a missing face, though.

“Where is Bigby?”
“Died in his sleep,” said Xander. “He wanted you to have this letter that he handed to specifically me for safekeeping.”

She hesitatingly took the letter and opened it up. Just even the first words had brought on tears.

Pleiadia, lass, there are so many things I want to say. There are so many things I want to tell you about your performance in Northrend as one of our finest warriors and scouts. But I cannot be there to tell you them. The time has come for me to join The Light. I want you to remember this.

No matter what you may hear of the events that transpired, you will always be a champion to your people, to the Alliance, and to Azeroth. You will have fought so many enemies, yet there are more to fight. Your example of heroism and courage, devotion and kindness, will always light the way for others. For in the darkest hours, you have shown that the darkness cannot conquer you. You will prove this time and time again, and I will be there to watch over you in spirit. Though I may be gone, you will never be alone.

Remeber that, lass. You will never be alone.

With Love,

Argent Crusader Bigby Thunderhammer

Xander had rarely ever seen her display emotion like that. Veridius gently took the letter and hugged her. Reading it himself, he knew this change was his final gift to Pleiadia. She was home because of it, truly home.

“Stupid dwarf…He always does that,” she muttered.
“He cared for you like I do, beloved. You needed that up there.”

Pleiadia nodded and stayed near Veridius. Grus rarely ever saw that level of emotion, too, but it made him smile all the same.

Homecomings were emotional, very raw affairs…If this was so, Pleiadia was at her most raw this time. Every emotion was clearly visible. She had come home for good. Nonchalantly she picked up the unknown volume on her desk after heading indoors to dry her eyes some. She put it in her pack for the trip next day to Stormwind City and eventually Northrend once more. She had intended to pick up her meeting planner, but she dragged along the Diary with it, too.

Part II – Unexpected Surprises

It had been about a few days since she had become mortal again. Granted, there was that to factor in, but the general feeling of physical malaise had been growing ever since that particular night. Pleiadia had been having trouble keeping down her food this particular morning. She felt particularly out of her mind, too, not quite mentally in control. The feeling had a familiar ring to it, but she denied it for the time being simply because she did not want to believe it at the time. Denial was the first stage of many things…

Taking care of the business that being Elder Matron so often entailed required one to be open to the possibility that some things could never be, yet were. Iria had been a good close sister during this time, and she often helped whenever possible. If there was anyone who knew how Pleiadia felt right at this moment, it was Iria.

“Fox, I am not feeling well.”
“I can imagine. You always push yourself too hard.”
“I doubt it is this, though. I rarely ever get sick either.”
“You know what it is, but you just don’t want to say it,” Iria grinned wickedly.
“Laugh it up, Frosty,” Pleiadia shot back, fighting back a wave nausea.

Iria laughed. That was their official nickname in the family, the Frost Twins…She was Frosty…Pleiadia was Icy.

“Icy doesn’t feel so solid anymore?” Iria let out with a hearty laugh.

The backhanded knock to her head was signal enough, but she laughed even harder because of that backhand. Iria couldn’t help but laugh about it. Which then spilled over to Pleiadia, who also began laughing. Sisters…They could talk to each other in ways most people could not…

The sad part, though, was that Pleiadia probably did not know for sure. It was far too early to tell if the pregnancy was real or not, but the signs pointed to ‘yes’. Pleiadia got back to her feet slowly, but it was abundantly clear that things had evolved to the next step for her. Now she had to deal with the physical consequences of being mortal once more…One such consequence was pregnancy.

The need to walk around and travel had been on her mind, so Iria parted ways back to Northrend. That left Pleiadia to fend for herself in Stormwind in her weakened condition, but it was something she had to do. She had business everywhere in the Eastern Kingdoms right now. Westfall was one such place. The farms had good stocks of fresh vegetables, and those vegetables ended up in mass quantities on the Moonstriker tables. She had to get more. It kept the economy running, for one.

On the way, she had met a druid with a familiar face. But the shock was that Shaylin was not a druid previously. Pleiadia kept silent about that, though. It didn’t matter to her how Shaylin became mortal again herself. All that mattered was that she was mortal…

Walking the whole way to Westfall, she had a long talk with her. The sense of familiarity with the area struck both like a pelting of pebbles. They felt they were there before, but they couldn’t place it. By the same token, they couldn’t place each other’s faces either, but they knew those faces. Something had occurred, and it was not making any sense to either of them quite yet. It was a question of when total recall would occur. For Pleiadia, the recall would be in the form of a Diary she had yet to read, but it was there. The process had worked; her memory was purged for the most part. The Diary was the only record that existed of that period of time, aside from eyewitness accounts and friends and family.

That nausea had shown up again once they made their way to Sentinel Hill. The sensation was only made worse by the rain. Pleiadia loved the rain, but this was not helping her. Hitting the bare skin of her body where the robe did not cover only made it worse, until…It had to come out. She threw up.

Fortunately, Shaylin was a druid. If there was anyone that could offer a short term boost to anyone’s body, it was a druid. Pleiadia did not want to believe that she was prgenant…Far from it, she wanted to believe that this was just a hold over from her rather odd sleep, but denying some facts would not be something she could do right now, especially with a druid now checking her over calmly.

It was obvious. Pleiadia could not deny the fact at all. This new beginning had reawakened her, but it also reawakened a side effect of mortal existence, reproduction. Pleiadia was in for it now…

But something else had been bothering her. That Diary found its way to her pack, and the note tacked to its front was almost like a message. The surprise would be quite unexpected indeed. Having some private time to relax somewhat once in her Dlaran flat, she picked it up and started reading it, note first.

The illumination and hand was definitely hers, but the contents were cryptic, at best. At worst, she would have claimed it to be the work of a master forger.

If you are reading this note, it means you have discovered this volume among the scattered documents on the desk. This is a record of the fighting to date, and a record of what a selfless being I have been. You stand today because I chose to give up the past. The future of this world has always laid in mortal hands, and I cannot be a part of that world. This world, Pleiadia, is yours, and I chose to die in a figurative sense to ensure you did arise.

There will be passages within this bound volume that seem foreign or downright crazy, but these passages are true. You were once Undead, a tool for the Lick King’s use and amusement, but no longer. You are now a living being, and you are now a weapon that cannot be stopped. I would have surely fallen to the darker side of my soul had I not done this, so I have given up trying to hold off the inevitable. Instead I have chosen to die, to be finally at rest once again.

Take the time, Pleiadia. Learn what sacrifice I have committed myself to, and give the Lich King my regards in Icecrown. Tell him that he has failed. He hasn’t stopped me; he has only made me stronger than he can possibly imagine. He will now fight you, an instrument of true justice. You do not consider revenge like I have.

The hour of your ascension is at hand; I suggest that you take it and live out your life as a mortal woman really should. Take care out there, and come back alive every time. That rule still stands.

Pleiadia folded up the note and placed it in the Diary like a marker. For all of its wordiness, it was definitely her hand, and her words…She finally made the connection, as confused as she still was. This past self was truly her, yet there was a deeper melancholy inherent in those words. She knew that this past self had underwent some arduous trials and tribulations.

“Rest in pease, sister,” Iria said as she walked in on Pleiadia. “The truth is that she was you. She was roused from her eternal rest to be a weapon, and she now returns to that rest.”
“Iria, you all lied because she told you to, didn’t she? Despite how much it hurt, you lied to spare -me- the agony so early.”
“She did tell us to do that.”
“Iria, I am pregnant, so that counts for something,” Pleiadia said calmly as she put the Diary on her flat’s desk. “It was noble of you to lie like you have. I was not sure I would be able to handle it then. Now, I think I can. Tell me, Iria, of the Death Knight that was Pleiadia Moonstriker. I want to know her from the words of others, not just her own words.”
“This could use some Honeymint Tea. A lot of it. I guess I’ll start with the day of her death at the hands of the Scourge.”

A Hero’s Welcome was the best place to speak. Pleiadia listened intently as her tale was told, and it was not an easy tale to hear. Iria still felt a guilt about it, but it was not nearly as intense as it was then. Her lie essentially erased the failure to get to Pleiadia in time. In all, it was not a bad lie to have told Pleiadia; it was an understandable one.

“I take it Veridius won’t be uncovering his lie.”
“He’s your huband; I doubt he even wants you to know even half of the things you have done in his own words. He is quite protective of you, sister, and that means a lot. Let him believe that you don’t know this. You won’t be sorry,” noted Iria calmly as she sipped the beverage. “Besides, it did get you pregnant, so you can have the last laugh.”
“What if I don’t want to give him another daughter?” Pleiadia grinned wickedly.
“You wouldn’t dare give him a boy would you?” chuckled Iria. “He’d be going nuts.”
“Maybe I do want to drive him insane,” Pleiadia chuckled loudly. “Have you thought about that?”
“Same old sister…You do have a mischievous streak; the Death Knight had the same one.”
“Some things may change with the loss of memory, but some things will not,” Pleiadia said wisely.

Iria was taken aback; this was true enough where Pleiadia was concerned. She was indeed right. She had not changed in core ways. All that changed was the events as they were portrayed in her mind. Faces remained the same, but everything was totally different.

“I think I should continue my tale…”

They sat for hours. Iria had a lot to tell her sister about the Death Knight that was Pleiadia Moonstriker.

After a rather long talk, Pleiadia saw Iria part ways again. If there was anything Iria was, it was always on the move. She was a Hunter; she liked to roam. This left time for Pleiadia to read over the Diary. She flipped to an entry, a random entry…

Entry #8 — Dream Entry #2

They just keep coming…Dreams of the past still linger in my mind, and some are particularly embarrassing or not fit for explicit description. I had dreamed of Veridius, my husband, when we were in Winterspring about 450 years ago or so. We had an empty house once more, though Gwyneth, my eldest child, would occasional visit. She was an accomplished cook, and she took it upon herself to cook for us every so often. We were not in house on that particular day, so Gwyneth returned to her home.

But that didn’t mean another sort of ‘meal’ was being prepared. I still blush about it to this day, and I don’t do that too often. To this very day, I still wonder how I could have relented so easily to him. I never did before that point.

Veridius slyly grabbed me on my side and kissed me! I was putty in his hands after that, and that is no mean feat. I distinctly remember looking up at him and feeling the feral side of me let him touch me. After what seemed like days to me, though in truth it was only hours, I gathered up my hunting clothes again and put them on to walk around, Veridius having disappeared to do his duties once again in the Emerald Dream. That was before I noticed a small plain paper wrapping something. A note was attached to it.

Dearest beloved,

I must go once more, but I hope this gift you will wear everyday to remind you of me. There are so many things I wish I could do with you, but my duties to the Dream force me to separate often. Take care, my love. Always remember that I love you.

Your husband,

I opened the wrapper and saw the most beautiful green dress I had ever seen. I put on that dress and suddenly felt very much at ease, very much feminine. Sitting in the snow, bare foot, I had wondered why something as simple as an article of clothing could make me so at ease. I heard footsteps.

“Mother, you were out here?”
“Not entirely alone, Gwyneth,” I snickered slightly.
“I won’t favor that with comment,” she sighed. “Father always said you were easy to get started, though. Now I know in what way. The mental image alone frightens me.”

I had to laugh about that. It probably would for Gwyneth, the ever so formal daughter of mine. She took great pains to be ladylike at all times.

“Father left again, didn’t he?”
“Back to the Dream, yes.”
“I don’t envy you, mother. I’d be caustic if my lover or husband left as regularly as he did.”
“I don’t get angry about that. I know he still watches me,” I smiled calmly.

Sitting in the snow…Bare foot…Something told me that I would never be the same again after that. I would be much more conducive to advances from then on; I needed the vulnerability.

The chortling was obvious….It appeared that her past self still remembered quite a lot, even the embarassing moments that would never make it past her lips normally.

Pleiadia analyzed the words closely. Dream…She had dreams still; that was a sign of flowering life. She had not died in totality. A nod, Pleiadia closed the diary. It had to be meditated upon, this information. Would Pleiadia recall events in a similar fashion of that year long amnesia? She had to ponder that. Also, the Death Knight had these times. What was it that she was trying to say through these pages? Being an early entry, though, meant that much more was in store.

The unexpected was in truth a godsend. Pleiadia knew this…Everything seemed to fall into place lately because of it.

Part 3 – Caravan

The time had come to get back into the swing of things, but Plleiadia would be doing this in a light duty way. For one, she knew she wasn’t totally in the game yet. Two, she was pregnant, and that was bound to draw some energy from her, too. The boat to Valiance Keep, and then a caravan all the way to Crusaders’ Pinnacle, would be a long tirp, but it was a trip worth the wait since she had the company of Ashanti Wildmoon, who also was on leave at the time. Ashanti had been quite amused with this new Pleiadia. Since she was also pregnant, it meant that she could be made fun of, too.

After blushing from reading one of the more hot entries in her former self’s Diary, she put it away very quickly and saw Ashanti laugh.

“Ooo! Was it that stimulating?”
“Just shut up,” Pleiadia said weakly, sheepishly.

Ashanti Wildmoon laughed even harder. Picking on Pleiadia was easy right now, and she loved it. Aside from the obvious undertones, Pleiadia’s former self did openly state so in a few entries. The former self had to be living vicariously through her memories to cover up all the tragedy in her life; it meant that she had to do things like this. Pleiadia looked up at Ashanti and sighed.

“She really was a tragic figure,” Pleiadia said calmly after getting her bearings. “She lost practically everything, got it all back, but had to give it up all over again.”
“She did,” said Ashanti. “You should have seen her in Wintergarde. She was a magnificent sight to behold. The Scourge were nothing to her. They cowered in her very presence. It was almost like they were fighting a phantom of her past, your past.”
“I do recall being rather dangerous way back when. Clearly she did, too.”
“You seem distant, though. Is it because you discovered that we all had to lie to you?”
“Somewhat…But it is also this transformation in general. I was Undead, and now I am a living, breathing soul once more? My mind doesn’t quite know how to grasp that yet, especially with a gap in my memory that is connected to losing the emotions to those dark memories. When I lost those, the memories went with them.”
“Emotion and memory are both interconnected, Pleiadia. She knew it was the only way to avoid the dark path she on.”

Pleiadia nodded as she stared out the coach window and saw the Borean Tundra give way to the Dragonblight. Their first rest stop would be Wintergarde. The question was what she could remember there.

“Ashanti, is it possible that I could still recall bits and pieces of this?”
“Wintergarde? You were at your most happy doing the fighting here. I doubt you forgot much of this.”

It was true. In the heat of battle, Pleiadia was often at her happiest, especially when the cause was justified. It was here.

“I hope the Lich King is ready for a new and improved Moonstriker,” said one of the passengers in the coach, a Death Knight. “He won’t even recognize this one.”
“I doubt any of us will,” said a paladin that did know her, Xander. “It is good to see you on the field of battle once more, Pleiadia.”
“Xander, eventually it had to come to this. You can’t fight the past with the past. You can only fight the past with the future. In battle, the cause of the just must always look forward, never backward. Eventually, we will penetrate that Citadel. When we do, it will end this war once and for all. We can go back to our normal lives once more. In my case, I will truly go back to normal life.”

Xander was impressed. She was using deep words as per usual custom of formal answering. He could also the sense the life inside her, too. He nodded and looked out the window.

“Welcome back to the world of the living,” said Xander with a smile. “It’s a better place because of your return.”
“It is,” said Pleiadia as she drifted off to sleep.

Ashanti and Xander let her sleep. It was the right thing to do after all.

Wintergarde…The place hadn’t changed. Naxxramas was still parked nearby, yet its presence was not nearly as forboding as was it earlier. The recent victories had caused the Scourge to think about what they had to do more closely. The inn in Wintergarde was filled with adventurers of all types. Some had come for fame and fortune, others for revenge, and still others for justice. Pleiadia was not going to stay there, but she was the third type.

A two night stay here while the caravan rested was a good thing. It meant she had time to catch up on things.

She had a chess match ongoing with Ashanti. So far, the two were matched in games, five to five. Sometimes Ashanti had the edge; other times it was Pleiadia who had the edge.

“You are very good with the lance.”
“I do recall that much, Wildmoon,” she said with a small note of wickedness. “Get me in a fight, and I seem to forget everything except the fight for that time period.”
“That’s her, too. Your former self was quite pleased with herself in that respect.”
“It does one good to take pride in the things we do best. Right now, though, I am going to take it very slow.”

This was a safe way of doing it; Ashanti had to admit that. Eventually, though, she had to stop for good for a short time. It was not always wise to fight in a weakened state.

“The caravan will be moving along tomorrow night. What will you read next?”
“Whoever this Drakuru was, he really irked my former self. I may as well understand why.”
“He was Scourge; I think we can guess why.”
“I could, but I want to be sure about that,” smiled Pleiadia.

A sage nod…It made sense to Pleiadia. She was always that way.

Leaving out, the caravan winded its way into the Crystalsong Forest area and eventually Icecrown if they were lucky. In time, things could be settled, but it was time for a fight. A fight was something Pleiadia was always ready for, too. She read…It was the only thing she could really do besides sleep, which was a lot of sleep.

The caravan had reached the Icecrown/Crystalsong border. Stopping shortly at the Argent Vanguard was wise considering that the rest of the trip would be a bit more hazardous. Scourge still inhabited the area around the Pinnacle.

Pleiadia quietly checked on her Moonsaber and Gryphon. Seeing that they were okay, she then proceeded to summon her Deathcharger, Twilight. The otherworldly horse nodded at her; it was just fine. Ashanti still couldn’t get used to the sight of the beast. This same beast was used as a springboard to save her tail in Wintergarde. It followed orders like a soldier did to boot.

“Well, girl, let’s see what trouble we can get ourselves into,” she said to the Deathcharger as she mounted up. “Remind me to change that saddle, too.”

The Deathcharger nodded in response. It felt the same way about said saddle. Ashanti mounted up on her Frostsaber and followed.

“You do look like a warrior goddess in that armor.”
“At least it hides my body,” groused Pleiadia. “I’ve been getting rather self-conscious about that lately.”
“As well you should,” Ashanti giggled.
“You aren’t helping,” Pleiadia finally snickered, giving in to the comedy of the situation. “You know that of course.”

The cold was somewhat soothing considering that this whole situation was not exactly ideal for anyone. The cold was biting, the wind was worse, and the company quite truly would kill visitors. But to Pleiadia…This was not exactly foreign to her either.

“Four hours to burn before we get to the Pinnacle. What to do?”

Ashanti should not have asked. Pleiadia scooped up a lance.

“We can joust a final time before I put the thing up for a long while,” Pleiadia grinned.

Pleiadia was relentless, five out of five times. Ashanti was losing her touch lately, or her friend had improved much…She wasn’t sure which. The caravan got moving again and finally reached Crusaders’ Pinnacle. Tirion Fordring had awaited them; he knew that the cover story concocted earlier was not exactly the total truth, but it was enough to get her to be at ease planning her change.

“Back for more I see, Sentinel-Captain.”
“I am back for more, Highlord Fordring. You don’t need to try to lie now. I’ve been reading ‘my own words’. Still, it was nice of you to paint me in such a heroic fashion compared to the ignoble way I was used back there.”
“Truth can be subjective,” the Highlord grinned. “You still did noble things, but most of that was during your lucid moments of self-control. I only count those moments.”
“I suppose you have a point. I am ready to do some light work since I have been eating for two or three. What do you have for me?”
“For an expectant mother, I have just the thing. I could use a good guard in the Tournament Grounds.”
“Why not? I had to do that for ages,” Pleiadia snickered. “I’ll report there tomorrow morning, Highlord.”
“And Scourgebane has been expecting you as well. It appears the Ebon Blade has plenty of tasks that require the tender hand of a lady.”
“They want me to sweet talk a few people into action. That is what it is. Darion wants me to gather together an elite group of Death Knights and send them on their way to do some havoc. I’m inclined to agree with it. If you disrupt your enemies’ forces, they cannot be expected to stand up to the full onslaught when dvided as such. I may forget much, but tactics I never will.”

Fordring smiled…He had the perfect agent, cover story or not. He had asked for much the same from her in assembling a similar unit of Argent Crusaders. She did, and that unit was doing well in its activities. Ashanti was its commander; she trusted her that much.

The time was nigh. The fate of the world depended on getting inside that Citadel.

Part IV – Normalcy

Dawning the colors of the Argent Crusade was not such a bad thing. It meant that she had found a sort of family within the group. This family was moreso connected by cause than by blood, but it was still a family. Pleiaidia padded from her comfortable tent and into the frozen cold outside to get herself awakened a bit better. It was many things, and the cold did exactly that.

“It’s going to be a great day,” she said to herself as she checked on her three mounts tied to the outside by a fence. “And how are you three lovelies doing this morning?”

Twilight was glad to see that she was up. The Deathcharger had grown to appreciate the company. Her Moonsaber, Moonfang, was quiet the whole time, but clearly happy be aroused from her own sleep. The gryphon, Snowstar, was still asleep, so that counted for something. Her gryphon needed the rest after all the flight time the previous day.

She knew her robe was not exactly an appropriate thing to wear on guard duty, so she decided to change out of it. It was a good idea, too…She felt sick to her stomach, again.

“Morning sickness…That’s how the cookie crumbles, though.”

The armor would keep her body a little warmer, and thus not cause her to lose her breakfast like the previous day when she had day one of guard duty. She decided to be in a nice looking robe that day and had a pretty bad experience. Plate armor it was then.

She slapped on her titansteel helm and looked in a mirror. She looked much like a warrior goddess; this was so. In a way, she supposed that she did favor after Elune in this respect. Tyrande told her much the same many times, and tried to get her to accept that fact. She had now. She breathed a small prayer to Elune and quietly mounted Twilight. Twilight was the one being that preferred guard duty…She couldn’t blame the otherworldly horse.

“Are we doing well this morn, Lady Moonstriker?” asked one of her fellows.
“As well as could be expected for morning sickness. I take it the night was fairly calm.”
“Boring is the word,” said the Argent Crusader. “We prefer boring right now.”
“As do I. Anyhow, you need your rest. I’ll take over.”
“Sorry, Lady Moonstriker, but I made a promise the day you got here. You were my partner, and thus I stay on watch with you.”
“Nobility at its finest,” she sighed. “But you look tired. Get five hours, Crusader.”
“Yes, mam,” he snickered.

After her partner had gotten up from his nap, it was time to do the usual patrol of the area. Her partner, a Sin’dorei, was rather personable, and he was quite the charmer from what she could tell. If he was going to get a woman in his near future, he would no doubt have one with that suave demeanor. The question was if he could keep her. Xavier Sunblade was quite good at this job, too. He was a dedicated guardsman.

“You were right; I needed that sleep.”
“Next time, Xavier, pay attention to a woman’s intuition,” Pleiadia snickered as she surveyed the Grounds before moving on to the next location.
“You’ll have twin boys. I am never wrong about these things.”
“Veridius will be ecstatic when he hears this!” she exclaimed with a laugh. “And twins are unheard of!”
“Yes, I know. You must have been very lucky the day you returned to life. Everything seems to fall into place now. You no longer hate. You no longer have the shadow of Undeath in your life. Your family seems happier to boot.”
“They are happier,” nodded Pleiadia as she quietly thought about how these two boys would act. “Xavier, tell me something. Most Blood Elves I have met see me with scorn, but you haven’t. Why is that?”
“Because we have a common ancestry. I sense the arcane touch in your veins. You were Quel’dorei at one point long ago.”
“My family was once part of the Highborne, yes, until Azshara went mad. Then we left, hastily.”
“You also understand pain.”
“That I do. A Priestess must in order to do her duty.”

Xavier made a sagely nod…This was so. As a paladin, he did, too.

“Pleiadia, despite our separate pasts, we both can come to one singular agreement. We both want peace, and we are willing to do anything to get it.”
“An enemy that is motivated by a singular notion and mindlessly follows it can be the greatest enemy one can face. Such an enemy will not stop until they are dead or victorious. Such an enemy can do things of great ferocity and savagery, the likes of which few could truly imagine.”

Xavier was taken aback. His partner was a philosopher soldier. This was a new one on him.

“You astound me, Pleiadia. You really do. Where did all that come from?”
“2514 years of life on this world…Sage wisdom can be learned over that time very easily, Xavier.”

He had to watch out for her; he was dealing with a master tactician and philosopher of warfare. He might miss some great pearls of wisdom if he did not watch out.

“Lady Moonstriker, you truly are an amazing woman. I can’t say that enough.”

Pleiadia smiled broadly. Yes, she was amazing, but that state came about because of a series of hideous costs that she had to pay. First, losing her honor to the Scourge. Second, losing portions of that past to this new state she was in now. How she held up to all that was clearly amazing in anyone’s eyes.

Back at the tents after the patrol, Pleiadia saw that Veridius was waiting in on her. He had been reassigned, again, to the Grounds…This was the moment to tell him. He needed the brightening up.

First, though, she kissed him right on the lips.

“And where did this come from?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.
“You know where, Dearest Veridius. You’ll have twin boys to deal with in a few months. I hope you’re up to the….challenge,” she giggled as she sat on the makeshift bed beside him.

Veridius was dumbfounded…After having eight daughters, he was sure to have another. But a son? Twins no less? He really couldn’t say what he wanted say due to the shock. Of course, he didn’t need to say anything at all either. He held his wife; it was the only true response he had to send.

“Twins are unheard of for us. I mean sure Malfurion and Illidan….”
“Yes, and twins are often portents to greater events in the future,” nodded Pleiadia at the example he gave. “You’ll have your legacy at the very least. And it will be a change from daughters. Raising a son and a daughter are very different things.”
“Pleiadia, we’re definitely going to have quite the life.”
“And, Veridius, let’s just say I know everything now.”
“But I like lying to you,” he snickered. “You always come off hot and bothered.”
“Then lie if you must,” Pleiadia snickered as she stripped for bed. “I won’t look like this in a few months, so you may as well get a glimpse before I start rounding out.”

Her robe this evening was definitely on the airy side, so he had a full view indeed. She just had to remember to cancel her frosty magics, though he found them quite soothing as she did after the day he had. He was sore all over after the trek here. Just this once, he would love an ice compress, without the compress.

Tracing a hand along her flank, he knew what he had. He had the only woman in the world for him, and he had the only woman that faced the darkest period imaginable in her life. He had seem both selves, and he was glad the Death Knight was at peace once more, a phantom laid to rest. This period of normalcy was indeed the last stage she would truly face. From now on, it was his wife of old that had the reins of destiny. It was all up to her now.

For now, she slept. Veridius had her to himself now, and there was no way he would squander that opportunity. He laid her on his chest and held her the whole night. Veridius had Pleiadia back, and he was very happy and proud of her. Especially with twins coming…

“I’m so dead,” he snickered before falling asleep himself. “I can hear it all now.”

Part V – Final Benediction

While it was true that things had resolved themselves for the most part, there was something still bothering her. She never had the chance to say ‘good bye’ to Bigby. It was a sore spot with her still. The dwarf that had engineered the change to her form and stood by her up until that final patrol was dead, and she never saw him before dying.

Bigby Thunderhammer’s spirit had known this. Such a soul as hers needed the closure offered by a final meeting. His work done, he could finally ascend and leave behind this world. This was the last piece of business he had.

Drifting in dream, she saw the form appear. Bigby had not changed since then. He had his pipe and his tankard by a fire. His face had the cheery look she had known him to always have.

“Aye, it’s me lass. Come, sit by the fire. This is the last time we’ll ever meet again. My work is done, and the bonds that hold me here are loosening.”

Pleiadia nodded. She knew this much.

“When we first met, lass, we were on the boat to Northrend. I saw in you something heroic. I was not wrong. You showed immense courage and selflessness in the time I have known you. You braved the Undead hordes despite the danger and won each time. You were the leader of our cadre and stormed us past who knows how many foes with safety. You had even braved Death itself to secure our escape. In Undeath, your former self had done much of the same, made a name for herself and thus yourself. You truly became what you were meant to be. Now you have become what you should have, a mother and a great hero.”

“Pleiadia, know this before I leave. You were, and always have been, Pleiadia Moonstriker, Sentinel-Captain. Your bravery will always be legend in the eyes of others. You no longer need to hide, nor do you need to suffer. You live now. Make the best of that time living and do what you feel is right. Finish what you feel is a just cause. Always strive for peace among our two factions, Horde and Alliance. In time, a new threat will loom over this world, and you know what it will take to defeat it. Heroes are born of difficult circumstances. They were normal folks like you and me, and battle tested their mettle. They became heroes afterward.”

“Do not forget, lass. You were always a hero. Be one to your children to show them the way to live in honor, true honor.”

Just that moment in reality, Veridius saw her form glow gold and silver. He did not understand the reason, but Tirion walking in on them did. Veridius had been tending to his wife after she crashed onto the bed from the long day of patrol.

“What is going on?”
“A final benediction from an old friend,” Tirion said calmly. “He is with The Light now.”

Veridius knew enough of the reference to get the hint. Bigby was gone now, and he parted ways with a Blessing, a very powerful one.

“Pleiadia will be just fine now,” Tirion noted. “Get some rest, Veridius.”

Everything would be all right now…Everything.


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