Zuriah returned to the Bone Wastes late that night. She was alone. She knew that if she had mentioned her return Zerov would want to join her. She could move quietly through the risen dead and the Eredar that way, something she knew would be impossible with the oaf by her side. She could carry out what she intended without judgment now that the Servitors were no longer there. And so, in the dead of night she returned to the place where hours earlier she had fought the decaying corpse of her mother.
She knew Eredar weren’t sentimental. They didn’t care for their dead. They didn’t burn or bury them. They left them to the crows and other wildlife. Fel, it was even better that way. You may as well contaminate the wild life in death. In the dim light she found what she was looking for, the lifeless body of the Mad Auchenai. Her arcane blade would generate too much light and perhaps draw a bit more attention than she cared for so instead she drew a bone saw she had borrowed from the Dalaran medics and got to work.
It only took her a few minutes to saw through the flesh, bone and tendon before the Eredar’s hoof was free of its body. She washed the saw and hoof as clean as she could in the dark and wrapped her prize in rags before stashing it away. Yes, it was a fine souvenir of that night’s events. She spat on the corpse of the Eredar that had dared to desecrate the body of her mother and with a faint pop, left that world to return to Dalaran.
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"She was a good soldier," the Gnome offered, a bit awkwardly. He had been standing there in silence for a good few minutes now before that. These visits never were easy, there's no good way to tell someone their loved one is dead. Gnomes were a logical people, but they were still people, there's hollow comfort in the words 'she died bravely, defending others' when they still mean 'you'll never see your sister again'. He went silent again, watching the woman he was sent to inform. She was rather petite, even by Gnomish standards, with bags under her eyes that peeked through a careful layer of makeup. Her pink hair bounced slightly as she moved her head, idly turning in her hands the small silver pocket watch she was given.
"This was our father's," she finally spoke, in a surprisingly soft voice. "He gave it to her when she deployed to the Isles..."
The officer cleared his throat, nodding. "Well, like I said, she was a real hero that day. We were pinned down by Fel forces and she...she got us all out of there. Your father would be proud of her. I'm sorry but I have to go oversee the resupplying..." It was an obvious excuse, but manners meant he couldn't just say 'you keep staring at me and it's creeping me out, sorry again about your dead sister'.
Jillani barely registered when he left, already turning back to her research desk. She flipped through her notes a few times, but found her eyes constantly drifting back to the watch, resting next to her books.
"My family is dying," she mumbled, picking the watch back up. "This war came, invaded our homes, and my sister threw herself into it. It cost her life, she was stupid. She's one small gnome against an endless legion...She was dumb to join this war..." She let out a choking gasp, not even realizing tears were flowing down her cheeks and smearing the ink on the papers under her until then.
"She was an idiot, but I'm a coward. I joined up here to face our enemies and what have I done? Spent most of my time locked in my study just like back home."
The watch opened with a light click, the timepiece still working perfectly, though the picture inside the lid was dented and strained. An old family portrait of all of them together. It took Jill a moment to find herself in it, off to the side as usual. She nodded softly as she slid the watch into her robe pocket.
"Enough research today. I need to test my theories."
It had been a long day. Across the fields of the wetlands were burning wreckages, both of steel and of bone and wood. Great engines of war ground to a halt, or thrown from the sky. Tally's head still shook with the sound of crackling fire rushing past her and the sound of arrows pelting into her fuselage.
As she stood upon the wing of her aircraft she could still make out where the first member of her flight crew went down. She'd watched him spiral down after a bolt of fire ignited his right engine and threw him into a tailspin. He landed in the mountain she was staring at. There was still smoke rising from the crash.
Between here and there were scores of dead bodies. Dwarven, gnomish, human, even some elves. There were orcs and trolls among them, of course, and even a dragon that they'd ridden into battle. Just looking at that beast left her body tense and her heart racing. Moments ago it had been tearing through the skies, setting the clouds ablaze and ripping machines out of the air with its mighty claws and fangs.
It was her first flight into real, live combat. Usually they tried to avoid putting fresh faces on the front lines so early on- The reason was littering the hillsides around her right now. But with the Horde so close, there was little other option.
"Tally, hey! Hello?"
A twinge shot through her and she finally thought to look down to the other gnome below, regarding him with a wide, distant stare. The meaning in her unblinking eyes was utterly lost on the other pilot.
"We picked some scales that fell from that big ol' dragon. You want one?"
Tally's eyes lingered on the glimmering red scales, but she did not reply. She just looked confused.
"You know? For a souvenir?"
She was jolted awake at the sound of a distant crack. One of the downed wrecks was catching fire out in the field. The sound of the hull breaching followed. The roiling rumble of fuel igniting and flames spreading would follow. Though she was not close enough to hear it she felt it. Though she looked away and shut her eyes, she could still see it so, so vividly. Her hands flung to her head, bracing for a blast that was so far off the perplexed pilot in front of her had barely noticed it.
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