30. “I hate seeing you unhappy so now I’m going to do everything I can to cheer you up. Even if it means making a fool of myself.”


Varaelian hated the silence. The pain might have finally lessened, but he found he preferred the long days that he’d drifted through half-lucid nightmares, anchored by agony. Certainly it was better than being awake and numb.

And alone. Not that Kirian and Elleynah had been able to help it. Kirian had broken his seemingly endless vigil once Varaelian had finally awoken for good, disappearing for brief business, and Elley had been needed to help run the affairs of the estate while its master was on the mend. They would return, of course they would. The two people he loved most in the world would never abandon him.

But waiting… was awful. Varaelian felt even more acutely that his life was changing in a direction that left him floundering helplessly. First Jeyse, his eye, and now this—too many short years tumbling one disaster over another, and Varaelian found himself struggling to keep up.

He still couldn’t look at the bandaged stump where his left arm used to be, even though it’d been almost a month. He couldn’t even touch it without his stomach turning to ice, his throat closing up with fresh disbelief. Kirian was doing all he could to ease Varaelian through the transition, but the blood elf ultimately had to walk this path alone.

A firm knock came from the door to his room, and Varaelian didn’t even have time to mutter an invitation before the door swung open. A behemoth of a man entered, heavy plate boots thumping noisily on the wooden floorboards, a long, tattered fur cloak billowing behind him. His skin was sallow, lips pressed into a permanent line, and eyes that burned with the frigid judgment of arctic ice held an unblinking gaze beneath locks of inky black.

Truly his spike-and-skull-covered body would send onlookers into fearful retreat, but Varaelian only sighed and rolled his eye.

“Tev, what are you doing here?”

The death knight answered him with an abrupt twist of squealing metal and snapping bones, and a moment later, Tevruden’s left arm landed on the medic’s bed.

Varaelian recoiled away from the macabre offering, his good eye wide. “Tev, what the fuck?!

“I am lending it to you,” the undead elf responded, deep voice rumbling. “Just stitch it back on my shoulder when I return in a few hours.”

“I can’t use this!”

Tevruden shrugged, and his massive shoulderplates clinked almost musically over the chainmail curving around his biceps. “That isn’t my problem.”

The medic grimaced, ready to complain more, but the longer he stared at his friend, the more he found him to look absolutely… ridiculous. Standing there with one arm like it was the most normal, boring thing in the world.

Varaelian hesitantly touched the severed limb. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were trying to cheer me up,” he said slowly.

Tevruden’s expression remained impassive. “You are a medic, Nilhandril, and while thus bedridden, you are useless to all of us.”

He left then, and though his words had been cold and logical, Tevruden hadn’t denied him.

And Varaelian found that his mood was no longer quite so defeatist and dour.