Naiara also allows for an interesting flash-back/flash-forward kind of fiction. Personally, I found it easier to figure out Wildfire Riders role in killing the Lich King by using Naiara.
Naiara ran as fast as she could, away from the University and the bastards that could not keep their gobs shut. She dodged the guards–the one her parents paid to keep her in school–and cut straight to the Canals. It was the long way back home, she knew, but also the least likely way for people to follow.
Half way through the streets, Naiara knew that someone–maybe even the Headmaster himself–would look for her at home. So cut towards Old Town, and took the route her parents taught her. Through Costra territory–flashing enough cant to show she was a Rider–and right to the back alley of the Pig and Whistle.
She meant to run head on to the back door and hide in her uncle’s office. She also meant to be more careful running the streets. Naiara was crying, so she could barely see a few inches past her face. She could barely hear with the blood rushing in her ears. She ran on instinct, counting the steps from her school to her second home.
Naiara thought she was five steps away from the back door of the Pig and Whistle, so she was taken by surprise when she ran head first into a wall. Naiara landed on her arse, then somersaulted backward, just to keep herself safe. As she started to pick herself up, someone grabbed her. She screamed a string of obscenities sure to grab someone’s attention.
“Gitoffme you filthy fuckin’ c–”
“Naiara Bittertongue,” her father said sternly. “Watch yer mouth.”
“Da!” She yelped. Naiara stopped struggling and threw her arms around her father.
“What the hell are yeh doin wee girl? Why aren’t yeh at school?”
Naiara hugged Bricu harder in answer to his question. Bricu shifted the sleeping infant on his shoulder and tried to soothe both children at once.
“Yeh nearly knocked me an’ yer brother inta the canals, love. Now then, yeh ready ta say what’s on yer mind then?”
Naiara, her face burried into her father’s leg, shook her head slightly.
“Did yeh want ta go inside.” Naiara shook again, this time wiping her nose on his pants. Naiara pulled away slowly, her hair covering half of her face. “No, Da,” she whispered. She sat down at the edge of the canal and dangled her feet over the edge. Then Naiara put her head in her hands, and refused to look up.
Bricu sat next to her, still rocking Padraig. He watched Naiara, noting the tell-tale cuts on her knuckles, and waited for her to say what had happened.
“Da, why do yeh call the Lich King the Bwoody Prince?”
“That’s what Northmen call ‘em. Yeh…want ta know ‘bout all that?”
“Because Araduin an’ Catherine an’ Stephen were sayin’ I was a barmy girl fer talkin’ like that. Then they said their da’s were the ones that killed the Lich King. Not the Riders.”
“So yeh ran from school ‘cause someone said somethin’ yeh didn’t like.”
“No.” Naiara said softly.
“Why’d yeh run from school?”
“Because I didn’t want to get yelled at.”
“Who was gonna yell?”
“Why was Headmaster Caltrains gonna yell?” Bricu asked.
“Because I hit them. Hard. I hurted my hand doing it.” Naiara showed Bricu the cuts on her knuckles. Bricu took her hands and kissed near the cuts. He saw that Naiara had not just hit someone straight in the mouth. Her tiny hands were covered in bruises and cuts, the kind that would have been absorbed by traditional gloves. She took to boxing a little too well.
“I can see that love. Who’d yeh hit?”
“Araduin, Catherin and Stephen. I kicked Stephen too.”
Bricu nodded. “Yer goin’ back ta apologize ta each o’them t’morrow. An’ yer gonna write letters ta them. An’ yer not gettin’ dessert tanight fer yer cursin’.”
“DA!” Naiara said. She pulled her head up from her hands to complain.
“OI.” Bricu said, cutting Naiara off. “Now yer gonna listen ta the truth o’the matter on the Bloody Prince.”
“Did you kill him?” Naiara asked, no longer complaining. She focused on her father, eyes as wide a saucers, and waited to hear the story.
“Love… First, yeh need ta understand somethin’. He was our prince. He was our Chief. Like Uncle Tarq.”
“HE was like Uncle TARK?!”
“A chief like Tarq. A boss. Yeh ken that?”
“Aye. He gave orders and people did their jobs.” Naiara nodded for added emphasis.
“That’s me clever wee girl. Exactly. He did many bad things love. He hurt people. He ruined the Old North. Made it so the flowers couldn’t grow. He hurt the people, the animals an’….” Bricu paused and studied Naiara.
Naiara looked up at her Da, listening to his every word. She filled his pause with a question. “Is it story time, da?”
Story-time, the only sure-fire way to keep Naiara entertained for more than half a minute. He smiled before he continued. “Aye love, its story time.”
“The Bloody Prince was a bad man, a Royal from the Old North. Do yeh ken what that means.”
“He was a Northman. And a shitebird.” Naiara said.
“Exactly. He was the biggest shitebird Azeroth has e’er seen.”
Bricu cut her off. “Much worse, love.”
Bricu glanced down at Naiara and looked through her. “The King called the banners fer an assault, led by a good man. Yer mum an’ I decided ta go North, even though yer mum had yeh in her belly. Like yer brother was.”
Naiara shook her head in understanding.
“So we went North ta make sure yeh didn’t have ta grow up in a world with such a bad man in it. It took a year o’fightin’ ‘im ta finally bring him down. An’ we did it, yer family was there. Yer mum. Yer. All yer aunts a’n uncles. The Kings Men were there…”
“Ballacks ta them.” Naiara said.
Bricu held up a finger. “Oi, this was their fight ta love. Even the Horde was there, fightin’ their way ta kill ‘im. When the end came…”
The Val’kyr picked up Threnn in mid prayer. The Light sputtered and failed as she was lifted into the air. She struggled and kicked, but Bricu knew she was held fast. Tarquin was no where near her. White feathered arrows peppered the valkyr, but it hadn’t slowed. Ulthanon kept firing. Bricu called on the Light to stun Arthas’ handmaiden. It slowed enough for him to catch up and slam a mace into its wing, but it was so close to the edge….
“When the end came, we fought his best an’ scariest monsters love. We nearly lost a lot o good people, but we fought as hard as we could.”
“Yer Mum fought as hard as any Northman. Yer Uncle Jak would trade off with Uncle Uthas ta keep the Bloody Prince from cu–hurtin’ yer Auntie Yva an’ Annalea. Uncle Shad was in the thick o’the fightin’ ta, helpin’ everyone stand up. That night, Bloody Prince’s throne room was as full as the Pig on a Saturday night.”
“Was Elly there?” Naiara asked.
“No love, Elly wasn’t there. But lots were. Maybe Anduin’s da or Catherine’s mum was there. There were a lot o’people there.”
Another Val’kyr fell from the sky, this time grabbing Bricu under the shoulders. He cursed and swung his mace, called on the Light and the Fox to keep him from harm, but the ledge grew closer. He tried to swing his legs up and over to free himself, but the Val’kyr was too strong. Just at the ledge, the Val’kyr shuddered, stunned by the Light, and was peppered with magic, arrows and bullets. Bricu fell to the ground and slid forward. He watched another body fall of the ledge before turning around and rejoining the fight...
“Da?” Naiara asked.
Bricu came back to the story. “Lots o’us where there. I figured yeh’d be older when yeh wanted ta talk ‘bout what happened that day. In the end…”
…The world went dark. Bricu felt himself pulled in two directions. Towards the warmth of the Light or the cold of Shadow. One beckoned, one pulled and Bricu fought both to stay on Azeroth, with his daughter. Then the Light pushed him back to consciousness. He heard Tirion’s voice…
“Da, is story time o’er?” Naiara asked.
“No love. It’s still story time. In the end, with the Highlord Tirion’s help, we all put him down. It took all o’us ta do it. Riders, Roses, Professor Caltrain’s folk. Orcs, Trolls, Tauren… It was the last time we actually stood shoulder ta shoulder .”
“So why did Araduin say the Riders weren’t there?”
“Sometimes love, folk make up fake stories. Yeh know that. Right?”
“Stephen said that his da had a piece from the Bwoody Prince’s throne room. Is that true?”
Bricu shrugged his shoulders, careful not to disturb the still sleeping Padraig. “Maybe it is love. Maybe it isn’t. Most o’us couldn’t bare ta touch anything there. The Highlord’s soldiers kept a close on folk ta make sure no one stole somethin’ dangerous. Did he say he was gonna bring it in?”
“He said he goin’ ta. Can I bring a sword to school and show them what you killed him with?”
Bricu shook his. “Love, wasn’t just me…an’ yer too young ta have a blade that big. But…” Bricu sighed. “If yeh go inside an’ work on yer apologies an’ take a nap, I’ll give yeh somethin’ yeh can take ta class t’morrow.”
“I promise, love.”
Naiara scooted back from the edge and hugged Bricu, throwing her arms around his chest to keep Padraig asleep. She kissed him on the cheek and walked to the back door of the Pig and Whistle.
“Yeh comin’ in, Da?” Naiara asked.
“Right behind yeh, love,” Bricu said. He watched over his shoulder as Naiara walked into the Pig. Confident she was inside–and not doubling back to spy, as she was wont to do–he reached into his pocket and pulled out a jagged piece of metal, still cool to the touch these years later. It was covered in runes and wards, set in a mithril filigree that was also covered in protective magic, even though the Crusade promised him that this piece was inert.
“Just ta be safe, then, we’ll keep it in holy water ta.”
With that, Padraig stirred. He was not crying, but he was starting to mew and coo. Bricu stood slowly and hummed a lullaby, to keep Padraig soothed for a few minutes more.
Naiara snuck out of bed four times–once without the even the hint of a pretext–to pester Bricu about school. During her fourth and final time, she announced that “Good da’s don’t break promises.” To which he responded, “Good girls let da’s finish their promises.”
It was well into the night when he finally finished the charm. Set in a crystal vial, surrounded in holy water, was the inert piece of armor. Even surrounded by the wards, the vial was cool to the touch. He showed to to Threnn, who said it seemed safe enough if she didn’t wear it as a charm. Satisfied it was safe enough, he brought it to Naiara’s room.
He handled the vial and the candle in the same hand as he opened the door to her room. Naiara was sitting straight up in bed, staring right at him.
“I thought I told yeh ta get ta bed,” Bricu said.
“Yeh said yeh’d have somethin’ fer class.” she retorted.
“Oi. Watch it wee girl. I can still add more punishments on ta yer list if yer gonna be mouthy.”
“Da, I want ta see it!” she exclaimed. “Lemme see it.”
“Yeh can see it. T’morrow, when I walk yeh ta school, I’m gonna hand it ta Miss Arliece. She’s gonna hold on ta it till yer teacher lets yeh show it off. Alright?”
“Okay. Can I see it now?” She shifted anxiously, holding a hand out for the vial.
“Here, love. Look at it carefully then give it back.” Bricu handed the vial to her. Naiara nearly snatched it from his hands.
“Thank yeh da, thank yeh thank yeh thank…” As her hands closed around the vial, Naiara’s eyes grew wide. She stopped talking. Bricu set the candle by her bed and sat on her bed.
“Love? Wee Girl? Oi, Naiara!” He said. Naiara said nothing, but he could hear Threnn, with a wailing Padraig, getting closer.
“What is it?” Threnn said.
“She took the vial, then she just stopped…”
“Mum, Da.” Naiara said. Tears filled her eyes, and the vial dropped out of her hand.
“What is it love?” Threnn asked. She sat next to her, holding her close and stroking her hair. Bricu scooped up the vial and sat on the other side of her. He wrapped his arms around Threnn, Naiara and Padraig.
“He’s not going to send the White Ladies with Wings after me? Is he?”
Bricu and Threnn looked at each, as if to comfort each other at what their daughter had seen. They both spoke at once.
“No wee girl. No.”
“I saw them take mum an’ da…an’ I saw the fightin’… He’s gone, isn’t he? Really gone?” The tears came in a torrent.
“Aye love. There’s no more Bloody Prince. We made sure o’that. “
“Your da and I won’t let any monsters get to you. Ever.” Threnn said.
“Puh-puh-promise?” Naiara said.
“Promise.” Her parents said.