Not every one at Wrathgate wants to be there. Of those who have answered the call of duty, some are going for justice, some are going for gold and others are going because their loved ones are there. Anna, Threnn’s younger sister, has her own reasons for going to Wrathgate. This is her first entry in the Wrathgate Event.
Fin peeked into the tent, eyes alight with news of the strange procession making its way through the Riders’ camp. “Anna, come quick. Lord Bolvar’s returned with them.” His forehead creased with concern when he saw the mortar and pestle in her hands again, churning, churning. She’d been at it for days, grinding sackfuls of the same plant into paste, and from there distilling it into an elixir whose purpose she refused to divulge. “Anna?”
She glanced up and offered a tired smile. “I’ll be along in a minute. You go on ahead.”
He wavered, half-in and half-out of the tent. “Come with me,” he said softly. “Don’t you want to hear what he’ll say to the boss?”
“You can fill me in on whatever I miss.”
“Anna.” He said it softly, turning her name into a plea.
The pestle worked within the bowl, the grinding of stone on stone the only sound in the tent as the couple stared at one another. Outside, someone passed by, pushing the cold air inside past Fin. Anna shivered and set her concoction down with a sigh. “All right, all right,” she said. “Help me with my cloak. My fingers are all stiff.”
Fingold leaned in close when she approached him, settling the heavy wool about her shoulders and working the clasp. When he finished, he tilted her face up and stole a kiss; whatever he was looking for in her response didn’t drive the concern from his eyes as he pulled away. “I wish you’d tell me what you’re brewing so much of.”
“I will. Soon. But not just yet.” She gave him a gentle push to get him moving and tried not to think about falling behind.
Three weeks before.
The hourglass glowed and spun, the sands within falling down, then up, then sideways, swirling about like a desert storm inside the thick glass. Anna watched, fascinated, until a shadow moved at the corner of her vision. She spun, ready to protect the bauble from whatever wanted to destroy it, but her hands fell to her sides, uncertain.
The woman standing before her… was her.
“Yeah, it’s as weird as it seems,” said her mirror image, pulling the shadows close. “Defend now, talk after.”
Then the dragonkin were upon them, coming in waves, and there was no time to argue. Black wyrmblood tinged the sands, turning the ground beneath the priestesses’ feet into dark, slick mud. They flung the shadows about, making the Infinites roar, until the hourglass did its trick, the skies opening above them to reveal Nozdormu hovering above. If he noticed them beneath him, or if he cared, he didn’t show it.
All at once the wyrmkin were gone, and Annalea was alone with herself.
They let the shadows go at the same time, visages coming clear once more. Anna peered at the woman before her — not so very much older, she didn’t think; the face was still youthful, though there was a twist of grey in the other’s hair, and something haunted about those slate-grey eyes.
“Hush,” said her older self. “There isn’t much time.” She held out a flower, tiny purple leaves crowding the stem. “You need this. A lot of it. A whole field of it.”
Anna backed away, her hands clasped behind her, head shaking. “That’s dreamfoil. No. You know better than that, if you’re really me. I don’t use it. I won’t.”
“That’s a load of bullshit.” The other woman advanced on her.
“It’s dangerous. I don’t like it. I substitute in other ingredients…”
“But you’ve built up a nice little immunity by now, though, haven’t you?”
The shock of it made her trip over her own feet. She went sprawling on her ass, only to spring back up again when her hand sank into a puddle of wyrm ichor. “What are you–”
“Your potions. My potions. Our potions. One batch for everyone else you’ve been handing them out to, another for yourself. Stronger. Because you’ve put it back in. And you’ve had to add more of late, to keep the dreams from bleeding through.” She tsked. “What if Fin drinks the wrong one, hmm? What then?”
Her older self might as well have punched her in the stomach. She’d never even thought of that. “Oh gods, does he? Is that what’s going to happen?”
“No. Because I’ve scared you enough that you’ll go home, pour that whole batch out and switch back to the one that’s good enough for everyone else. Now, for the love of Elune, shut the fuck up and listen to me.”
Anna shut the fuck up and listened.
They caught up to the rest of the Riders, gathered in close to hear the leaders’ parlay. Threnny was towards the front; the firelight caught her in profile. She looked almost serene, a soldier at heart, ready to receive orders from two men she held in high regard: one a Highlord of the Alliance, the other a prince of scoundrels. Her face shone with the pride of it. Bricu stood beside her, eyes flicking between Tarquin and Ceil, Fordragon and Galliwick, a smirk playing about his lips every time Galliwick scowled.
They all looked so eager, so ready to throw themselves at the Scourge, at Arthas and his legions, when Elune only knew who’d return from the fight alive. She wanted to scream at them all, take them by their collars and shake them. It won’t rebuild Lordaeron. It won’t save the North. It won’t bring back the dead, and it won’t heal the wounds the plague left on us all. Why can’t anyone see that? How many were here to take a stand against what threatened the world and how many merely wanted to strike out, achieve some kind of vengeance for what they’d lost?
Did it matter? Was there even a difference?
And who was she, to declare one reason valid and the other foolhardy? She stole a glance at Threnny and Bricu. Saying she was there for them was a lie. Fingold touched her arm and she chided herself as her heartbeat quickened; love for him and the fear of losing him here in this frozen waste made her gasp for air. How was that for a fool’s reason? Chasing a man to the North, as though she had any control over whether he lived or died by being near him. She looked at the Northerners’ faces — Fin, Bricu, Chryste, Tarq… so many of them, here for far better reasons than her own, and she felt ashamed.
Vengeance, loyalty, love. It didn’t matter. They were here. It was enough.
Anna shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her cloak to stave off the cold. Her fingers closed around the dried sprig of dreamfoil, felt the flowers crumble beneath her touch.