Fan fiction:Winds of the Kae Huron/Chapter 2: Parting Ways
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Winds of the Kae Huron is a fan fiction piece by Nephilim, originally posted in the Diii.net Fan Fiction Forum. The fiction series was reposted on January 29th 2004. You can find more information on Winds of the Kae Huron article.
Chapter 2: Parting Ways
Malah was a very talented woman. She would always swear up and down that her subtle manipulations of magical energies were terribly inadequate, but what she did know, she knew very, very well. M'avina was admittedly not very refined in the department of healing. She knew the basics, but she had no aptitude for how a bone was so easily mended with the right herbs and wraps from Malah's store of exotic plants she bought from the traveling merchants. With the state of crisis, though, no caravans had been able to make it to the Highlands, and so Malah's supplies had begun to run dangerously dry. Hopefully, though, they would no longer be in such demand.
It was only a week before M'avina was on her feet again with little more than a limp. When she tried to express how miraculous it seemed to her to Malah, though, she shrugged it off with: "Well, at my age, I've got to be good at something."
The infirmary was, thankfully, empty now, with those wounded having been treated at least to the point where they could remain in their own homes. Even Kira had regained herself, and was now being nursed back to health in Anya's home. The young Sorceress had politely declined the offer of hospitality, but Anya insisted. "There are too many empty rooms in that home," she had said sadly.
Kinemil, Dimoak, and Haseen had stayed in Nihlathak's home, who had, before Baal's coming, apparently shared it with other Elders, now all dead - sacrificed of their own volition to save Harrogath from the initial stages of the siege. Anya had given Ume a room there, as well, but the Necromancer had refused, albeit politely, saying that there were still spirits at unrest within that house. He had built himself a tent in the shadow of Larzuk's smithy and kept to himself.
Qual-Kehk had been right, there was much work to be done. Before he had left for Sescheron to see the damage for himself and report to King Halaberd what had transpired, the Senior Man-at-Arms had formed a system of search parties to go out and find any survivors among the ruins of the mountain stronghold. They had found very few, so far, and most of them were hiding within the ice caves. And even though many young Barbarians, having discovered their childhood friends dead on the mountainside, returned to Harrogath disheartened, there was still a heightened hope among the town. Without Baal's energies to sustain them in the mortal world, many demons, particularly the undead, had simply collapsed or shattered at his death. Those that remained either fled in terror or fought with a furious desperation that ended in a fatal misstep. None of the search parties had yet suffered more than minor wounds from such encounters. The Barbarians they brought home from their hiding places were relatively unharmed, but only because those who were more seriously wounded had not lasted long.
In spite of all the recurring images of death and sorrow among Harrogath, things were in relatively high spirits, M'avina thought. She realized that she was kidding herself, though. Just because spirits were higher than they had been did not merit the term "high spirits." Now that the major conflict wasn't there to distract people, they had begun to realize what had truly occurred. They noticed people were gone, and those crippled by the horrifying battle now had to consider what they could do with their lives now that their adventuring days were over. M'avina had considered that at the beginning of her stay at Malah's. She hated the idea of returning to Skovos to farm grain with her parents.
Her parents - she shuddered to think of it.
Having been farmers, they had primarily worshipped Hefaertus, and she had been raised in that respect, and in those beliefs. Even when she defied the wishes of her parents and went to train as a warrior, she still kept the teachings of the fire god close to her heart, and invoked the powers of him through much loyal prayer during her battles, above most other gods within the Amazonian pantheon. But there was one teaching of Hefaertus which always pierced her mind with doubt. It was that every woman of substance would at one time in their lives be reborn - they would meet an obstacle so grueling, so unimaginably complicated and seemingly impossible to triumph over, that overcoming it would require that she change who she is. She would be reborn, and arise from the ashes of her old self a new person.
M'avina had never really liked that philosophy. It made it seem like all attempts at developing herself as a person now would be fruitless, because she was eventually going to have the deciding factor in her life. All this fighting, all this conflict wasn't helping her grow at all. She had thought, as her quest began, that the coming battle, and her continued pursuit of Diablo across every land she had ever read about, would be her rebirth. But all in all, she was the same person. She still had the same passions and desires, and the same outlook on her life. Her rebirth would change all that. M'avina had, in the past week, feared that perhaps Tyrael's invitation had been her rebirth, and that she had missed it. According to Hefaertus, the rebirth was needed for any woman to be complete. But M'avina liked who she was, and she knew that this was a rare thing. She didn't think she was perfect, but she was proud of her accomplishments, and recognized her limitations. She wasn't too keen on the idea of becoming someone else.
It was very windy. She could hear the wind blowing through the thick stone wall.
M'avina bundled up her clothing, and some supplies. She and Vidala had shared a packhorse until it was mauled by sabre cats outside Lut Gholein. They had brought whatever supplies they could salvage onto Meshif's ship, but had left them there when they went through the Infernal Gate. She felt hot again just thinking of it. From the cool, dank dungeon of the Guardian Tower, it was like walking through a furnace, and then she suddenly emerged in the Pandemonium Fortress and everything was temperate once again, with air that seemed easier than usual to breathe.
But the point was that she had little left to herself, and it was a tremendously long journey back to Skovos, she knew. She and Vidala had had to live off of very meager funds for some time, as well. Though their journey had found very generous hospitality, money had been spent, if not to repair their armour or weapons, then to pay for food. Larzuk had offered to repair their goods free of charge, but Vidala had insisted, saying that once this crisis was over, if Larzuk had no stock and not a penny to his name, he'd be ruined.
"When will you be leaving?"
M'avina gasped in surprise, and felt more than a little embarrassed. Arcanna stood in the doorway, and smiled as M'avina blushed. "Sorry," the Amazon apologized. "I was just lost in my own head."
Arcanna chuckled. "I know the feeling." She paused. "So when will you be leaving?"
M'avina talked in a very casual tone. She didn't want to lose face in front of Arcanna. She had grown to respect the young Sorceress. "I was going to leave with Qual-Kehk when he goes to Sescheron, and from there I think I'll try to find caravans to escort me south. Either to Kingsport or Lut Gholein, and then I'll take a merchant vessel to Skovos. Hopefully I'll make it before the end of the year. But that depends on luck. Especially now. Kinemil was saying that he didn't expect to see many caravans on the roads for months. He said to wait until word gets out that Sescheron is secure, and the Rogue Pass is opened again." M'avina knew that she wouldn't make it before the end of the year. She just hoped that she was south enough to miss winter in Ensteig and Khanduras. She needed a ride to get out the Highlands, and then, she was more than willing to walk and swim to Skovos. "What about you?"
Arcanna sighed. "Malah tells me that the Zann Esu coven in Scosglen makes periodical merchant routes to Harrogath. I was considering just waiting for them. Either way, I need to wait for Kira to fully recover. She's still in no state to travel."
M'avina nodded, "And the others?"
Arcanna shrugged. "I can't say. You'll have to talk to them yourself." With that, the Sorceress gestured a farewell and walked down the hall.
Another gust of wind thundered past outside.
M'avina followed the winds until she came to be standing outside of Anya's home, in the furiously billowing snowstorm. It would pass, Malah had assured her. These things were common in the Highlands.
Mostly everyone had gone indoors. A Barbarian she didn't recognize was sitting on his doorstep, comforting his hunting dog. He saw her through the blizzard and nodded in acknowledgement. She waved weakly, and walked around the hut.
This was the first time she had been outside in Harrogath without her armour. She found it almost warmer. The metal was so quick to chill. She remembered when the overseer had broken her leg, she had thought she would die from the cold before the bleeding. Of course, it was only a few minutes before Vidala helped her up. By Athulua, how many times had Vidala saved her?
Vidala . . .
She would never save her again.
M'avina found a tear rolling down her cheek, and was about to roughly wipe it away before the wind blew it from her face. She looked up, as if to look for it, and she saw a man standing in the middle of the street, surveying the town. He remained eerily still. He didn't even put his head down in the screaming winds, though his long hair was whipped about wildly.
"Dimoak?" M'avina called, her voice muffled by the wind.
The Druid turned to look at her, his short beard speckled by snowflakes. "M'avina," he nodded. His voice didn't seem distorted by the wind. M'avina shivered, and walked up to him.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"I'm leaving," he replied promptly. "There is nothing left for me to do on Arreat." He sighed, and M'avina noticed strangely that his breath was not turned white by the frigid air. "The Uileloscadh Mór has ended, and now it is time for the land to heal. I must return to Túr Dúlra and report to my superiors what has passed here, though it's likely they know already."
"You don't want to wait and say goodbye?" it sounded like a childish question as she asked it.
Dimoak shook his head. "No," he said softly. "I was never one of these people."
"You fought alongside all of us," M'avina got to a different angle so that the snow wasn't blowing into her eyes. "That makes you greater than family."
Dimoak looked down at her and smiled. "That is very kind, Amazon, but I know my place. I am in my element amongst the beasts of the wild, not here, in the world of Men. These Barbarians offer me hospitality because they feel they owe it to me."
"They do," M'avina noted.
"That may be so, but I do not wish to thrive on others' debts to me. They distrust me. I do not blame them. Jalal was wary to come here. If it were less desperate times, his cautiousness might have been warranted, but the people of Harrogath had a greater enemy to concern themselves with."
"What you did here may heal the wounds that separate your two cultures, Dimoak. There is always time for change."
Dimoak pondered on that a count, but then shook his head. "No. Men are a warlike people. If we don't have the demons to battle, we will turn on each other. It's only a matter of time." He sighed hopelessly. "Everyone needs someone to hate."
"They don't hate you," M'avina protested quietly.
Dimoak smiled again, and then turned to look at the gates. "I will spare the awkward goodbyes, and leave on my own terms. I must bask in the shade of the Glór-an-Fháidha once more. I have been too long from beneath its branches."
Dimoak strode towards the gates of Harrogath, now opened. It occurred to M'avina that perhaps the Barbarians left them open at night, now, to revel in the fact that Baal wasn't an issue any longer.
M'avina followed for a few paces before stopping, and Dimoak picked up the pace as he rushed into the blizzard. She kept expecting him to turn around and bid her a final farewell, but he never did. He just dove into the wild, heedless of the furious winds.
Soon, he was nothing but a silhouette retreating deeper into the snow swept mountain. But his shadow became distorted as it moved, and hunched over into a lupine gait. M'avina watched the grey shadow move further into the landscape, until finally, she lost sight of him completely.
M'avina shivered, realizing just how cold she really was, and went back into Anya's home. She looked one more time out the open gate, and saw nothing but a screen of snow beating past her.
The Barbarian on the doorstep had gone inside, and the dog was burying itself in the snowbank. M'avina looked at the moon to see what time it was, but it was obscured. Besides, she couldn't really tell on this part of the world. She was usually off by an hour or so, either way. But no matter the placement of the moon, she knew it was late, and that she would need her rest. So she put her head down, and struggled against the wind until she was safely inside of Anya's home again.
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