Another Long Talk

Another piece now canon for the ingame roleplay, along the lines of The Long Talk and Reunion. (Reunion, being a fanfiction piece and speculation, has no relation to this post. It just represents a different take on Keelath and Mirium coming back together.)

Author’s Note

When Mirium woke up the next morning, she found herself staring at the ceiling for many long minutes. She was alone, despite the offered companionship of last night. She had turned Keelath away at the door. She couldn’t explain it, but she wasn’t ready yet to accept the death knight back as if no years had passed since the day of his death.

Things had been a blur from the previous two days, a certain nightmare turned into an uncertain one. One minute she had lived in fear and courted starvation inside Ulduar, only to be delivered from the trap of her hunters by none other than her family. Yet that family was now a twisted mockery of itself, each person tainted or broken, changed from the people she remembered and loved. Mirium wondered if perhaps Talthan’s research into the Void had done more than drive the two of them apart. Could it break worlds? Twist reality solely by existing? Her life had been turned on its head.

Mirium sat up, finding herself drawn to the libram sitting on her bedside table. She leafed through the holy pages, finding small comfort in its proverbs and ancient history. This was more the world she knew.  She eyed the door and wondered how long she could stay behind it before her family came knocking in concern. There was so much to face out there that didn’t make sense; the libram offered her no answers, but no mysteries either, its familiar wisdom conventional and comfortable.

No wisdom on how to deal with a husband raised into undeath, though. Or on her son and daughter being tainted by Void, one dying from it. Or on her second husband, who had burned what was left of a withered marriage in attempts to have her killed for her inheritance. Even her brother-in-law, wedding himself to a warlock and ascending to the title holder of the Sunwalker baronry, was now a near stranger. It was easier to just lie here than try to fit all the pieces together.

Eventually she might get hungry, she reflected.

Mirium pushed herself up, washing her face in the water basin and refreshing her clothes. She pushed the door to the Dalarn inn’s main hall open to a crack. Keelath stood there, between her room and Evelos’, still and silent, not even breathing as he stood sentry. Mirium shivered and was about to close the door again, when he glanced back at the soft sound of the hinges. He smiled at her.

Mirium returned it, but they both knew something was off. Keelath’s smile faded, and he regarded her with sympathy. 

“I’m going to go eat,” she told him.

“May I join you?”

A part of her recoiled, for reasons she didn’t fully understand. She had loved Keelath, hadn’t she? How many times had she cried over his death, wishing he had been alive and holding her again? Yet now that he was here and could do so again, she only felt an odd ache and reluctance. She didn’t want him to touch her. 

“If you want.”

There, he felt it too. He saw the gap between them, and was just as bewildered by its presence. Mirium gave him another sad, strained smile, then started to duck past him.

He caught her. She froze, and at her stiffness, he let her go again.

“Miri…” Keelath steadied himself. “Mirium,” and his voice was different, more formal, “I would wish for us to speak.”

Mirium nodded, and hesitantly took his offered arm. It was a familiar gesture, from an ancient time, so easy and yet so strange now.

They walked down to the inn’s common room, and he mainly watched her while she ordered a light helping of the breakfast meal and ate. Tyrdan had left to oversee the last preparations for his wedding, and Medyfivol always slept in late. There hadn’t been much stirring from Evelos’ room last night, but a red-haired sin’dorei woman, which Mirium could only guess was Evelos’ intended mate, emerged and ordered a meal to go on a takeaway tray. Mirium watched the woman as she leaned on the counter and waited, her face a patchwork of worry. She was slim and svelte, showing no sign of the pregnancy Tyrdan had announced to Mirium last night, beyond a faint kind of halo around her, a sign of a second soul that only another elf could pick up on. The two women caught each other’s eye, and both smiled for the other’s benefit. Then the breakfast tray arrived, and the other woman was off, taking it briskly up to Evelos’ room.

“She is kind, if stubborn,” Keelath remarked. He had been observing the exchange.

Mirium looked back to him, but not precisely at him. “Tyrdan said she was once a human.”

“Yes.”

“What a change.”

“A large change for anyone,” Keelath agreed.

“And now pregnant before they can even say their vows, the poor dear.” Would Evelos and Breyd ever get to do so? she wondered. Or would he die first?

“It’s a boy, I’m told,” added Keelath softly, as if reading her mind.

The dissonance between new life and impending death jangled among Mirium’s emotions. Her eyes had been wandering the room. They drew back now to Keelath, and his own dissonance. Death become life…half-life.

Keelath wasn’t paying attention, watching Evelos’ intended mount the stairs. 

“You’ll be a grandfather,” Mirium told him.

“And you, a grandmother.” He smiled back.

Mirium studied his eyes. There was honest joy and pride there. His face went blurry suddenly, and Mirium looked down at her bowl to keep the tears from tracking down her cheeks. “So you wanted to talk to me?”

“Yes.” He offered a hand to her across the table. She forced herself to take it. “You’re hesitant around me,” Keelath said. “Why is that?”

Why indeed. “I’m sorry, Keelath.”

“All of you keep apologizing to me, as if somehow nothing ever went wrong before in our lives,” said Keelath dryly. “Tyrdan thought he failed me. Evelos thought I would hate him for his choices. What eats away at you, now, Mirium?”

Mirium looked up at him. She could barely see him through the blurring, and kept blinking so the tears didn’t spill over. Keelath placed a hand to her cheek. She shivered at the chill, undead touch. He seemed stung by her disgust, but mastered himself bravely and transferred the hand back down to her fingers.

“I’m sorry,” Mirium whispered again.

“Do you not wish to rekindle this?” Keelath asked gently. His voice carried no judgement in it.

“I don’t know,” said Mirium, and it was a crack in the ice grown over all the emotions she had been too scared and confused to admit to. “I’ve—I’ve messed up a lot. Nothing has gone right lately. Nothing went right since you died. And that—I should have been there!” The words came tumbling out in a rush. She had said them before to Tyrdan–and also to Talthan, though he hadn’t seemed to care–but their root, a raw, inflamed place inside her, never seemed to go away. “Wh-when you sent Tyrdan and I away that day, before the raid, I knew we had just made a terrible mistake. Then the first thing I saw coming back was the house…the burned garden…and Tyrdan wouldn’t let me see more. He went in himself, and he came back out with you, all covered in his cloak so we wouldn’t see all the blood and burns and your—your guts hanging out. Not until after they cleaned you up and he told me after—“

She paused for breath, and to get her voice under control. Keelath just listened patiently.

“He—he said he found you, wedged in a door with that old caretaker of the Kindlelight grounds behind you. You’d been trying to protect her, he said.”

“I remember,” said Keelath softly. “She didn’t survive either, did she?”

Mirium shook her head wordlessly and buried her face in her hands. The sobs wracked her body as she recalled the images of the raided village. The bright colors of the quel’dorei pennants among the dull colors of ash and dried blood… “I sh-should’ve been there…with you! I couldn’t stop thinking…how terrified you must have been, dying like that, un-under a broken door, with no one to save you or make it better—e-easier to go on to the afterlife.”

Keelath touched her shoulder, leaning across the table to massage it. “I was terrified, yes, but I was also delivered by the thought that you and Tyrdan would still live on.” Mirium sobbed a little harder. “Dearest, life is messy. If any of you had been in Thalas’Alah when the Black Horde came, you would have died. You would have shared my fate. That you haven’t, I am eternally grateful to the Light. It worked out in the end. Without Tyrdan here now, I would have remained a heartless monster. Without you here now, I would not be able to call Medyfivol our daughter.”

“Our daughter?” Mirium hiccuped. “What about Evelos? What happened to him…it’s all my fault.”

“How do you mean?”

“I drove him away. When he saw what the Blood Knights had done to the naaru, I didn’t comfort him or explain. When they took him away, I did nothing to save him…”

“It is past now, Miri.”

Mirium couldn’t speak, overcome again with tears.

Keelath shushed her. “Evelos made his own choices, Miri, for which I am proud of him. He survived, which is more than many could have said, placed in similar circumstances. He is strong.”

“H-h-he HATES me!” Mirium burst out. “And why wouldn’t he, after I put him through all of this? I broke the family apart. First with you and Tyrdan…then Evelos…even Medyfivol… I don’t deserve you. I deserve someone like that….that rat, Talthan. I deserve his death!”

“That is not true,” Keelath said sharply, “or I would not have trekked all the way across Northrend and disrupted my brother’s wedding to find you. You are letting the Old God’s whispers get to you!”

Mirium looked up at him between her fingers, quieted with confusion.

“Yogg-Saron is dead, but his influence remains in Ulduar,” Keelath explained. “I know that you were following Evelos, and I know what you saw. His imprisonment in Undercity did not do this to him, though it perhaps weakened his resolve enough to make him vulnerable. He picked up the taint here, under Icecrown, and you almost did the same. Do not let it in, Mirium.”

Mirium hiccuped, and then blushed as she wiped her face with her hands. Keelath offered her her own napkin. “You’re right,” Mirium said, as she cleaned her face with it, and hiccuped again. “You’re right.”

“I love you,” said Keelath.

Mirium sniffed and put a hand in his. “I—I know you do.”

Keelath let her sit for several long minutes, soaking in his presence and slowly calming down. “There’s no passion behind it anymore,” Keelath finally said with an air of apology, for adding more to her plate. “I tell you not to hurt you, but because you ought to know. My memory fails me the longer I exist in this half-life. I wanted you safe, but true happiness will escape us. A death knight can never settle. My needs aren’t the same anymore.”

Mirium tried to fit the pieces together in her head, but it was pounding from the recent crying, and she got the feeling Keelath was playing coy about something. “What do you mean?”

He met her gaze levelly. “I am a killer. The name for it is San’layn.”

“You drink blood.” Mirium repressed a shudder. “Cannibalize.”

Keelath watched her, expression grim. “If I don’t kill, I go mad. If I go mad, I kill. I was made to be an instrument of the Lich King’s will. I am in control now, but only barely. I am a weapon with no wielder.”

“You are a man,” Mirium murmured. “A man with a family and home.”

Keelath looked at her sadly. “I just wanted to see you safe, before I fell even further.” He didn’t seem to think this adequate but was lost for further words. He shifted in his chair to stand up.

Mirium caught his hand. Keelath paused. She massaged it, the cold flesh beginning to warm under her hands.

“Til death do us part.” She lifted her head, looking up at him. “I kept your ring, even when I remarried. I lost everything on that day, Keelath.”

“On your remarriage, or my death?”

“Both.”

His expression grew concerned, and he sat back down again. “Do you still love him, Miri?”

“No,” Mirium said quickly, then, “Yes,” she admitted. 

Keelath looked remorseful. “I’m sorry about the divorce. I’m afraid we got a little carried away and forced it on him, after we learned what he was plotting.”

“We?”

“Tyrdan and I. It was less than a couple months ago.”

Mirium looked down.

“With my death, our own marriage is still officially null,” Keelath went on. “You are back to being a Summersong.”

“Summersong is dead, with the war,” Mirium murmured. “Most of the old families are.”

“You could be a Sunwalker again.”

“I thought you said you had no more love left.” Mirium sniffed and lifted her head, challenging him this time.

“No.” Did death knights color? He looked embarrassed, but his cheeks were still pale. “I said there is no passion. That part of me…no longer functions.”

The absurdity of it made Mirium laugh. Keelath looked befuddled, eventually matching a smile to hers.

“You stay.” She leaned over the table and kissed his cheek. “You stay, you horrible man, or this time, I will hunt for you.”

Keelath remained still, as she moved her lips to his. Then he accepted her, parting his jaw. 

She made herself sit back again a minute later. Her own heart was fluttering. “So, nothing at all?”

Keelath looked faintly in awe, touching his lips. Then he put his hand back flat on the table. “Nothing.”

She looked at him, agonized, then turned away.

“Memories,” Keelath corrected, reaching out to take both her hands. “I have those, still.”

“We can’t survive on just memories.”

“What do you want then?” He sounded at a loss.

“A little warmth back in my life,” Mirium admitted honestly, glancing at him. “Since the Scourge, everything has been about surviving.  Personally…nationally. The simple life we once had was a dream.”

“I’m afraid I can’t offer you simple, or warm, anymore.” Keelath flexed his hands. A few specks of frost fell onto Mirium’s skin to prove his point.

“A different kind of warmth,” Mirium said, brushing the frost away and retaking his hands. “Talthan was never warm…maybe that’s why I liked him. I didn’t have to think so hard about love. He made it all easy, and I—“

He looked stony.

“I’m sorry. You don’t want to hear this.” Mirium looked away.

“I want to hear what’s on your mind.” Keelath returned. “Talthan has been a large part of your life. I’m not jealous. I know what we shared before and am secure in that knowledge.”

“You sure?” Mirium asked, sheepish. “I feel I should be apologizing to you–to all the Sunwalkers–for him.”

“I can’t exactly say I approve of your choice.” Levity came into Keelath’s eyes. “But that’s because I know how it hurt you. If you still wanted him…I know I’m not whole anymore. I allowed Tyrdan the baronry for the same reason.” 

She noticed the way he flicked his gaze away, the set of his shoulders. There was still tension between the two brothers, maybe greater now considering their circumstances. “Oh, that awful title!” Mirium exclaimed. “It grinds on you both no matter who has it.”

Keelath made a sigh and rubbed his face. “I admit, I don’t know what to make of Tyrdan’s choices lately. Of this new world. Sometimes it’s as if he does things just to spite me, at other times it’s like he has lost the old faith and needs my help regaining it.”

“Most of the sin’dorei are like that now, Keelath. Your brother has been stronger than most of them.”

“I am aware, but it feels…wrong.”

Mirium drew lines down the tendons of Keelath’s hand with her fingers. He closed one hand about hers—the gesture was a familiar one to both of them. “The Horde are good people,” she assured him. “They’re a bit ruder than what you’re used to, but the orcs are sturdy and loyal. The tauren are a big-hearted people, who follow the Light like we do, though they call it something different, and even the trolls make me laugh sometimes.” She smiled. “It’s only the Forsaken that are a little—“  She looked at his tabard, of the Forsaken Queen, and stopped abruptly.

Keelath met her gaze dourly. “I swore an oath to them, Mirium. I am one of them, now.”

Mirium took a breath. “The old oaths don’t mean much anymore, love.”

“They mean as much as we make of them, and this is one I intend to keep,” he said sternly.

“And our oaths to each other?”

They held each other’s gaze.

“…I’ve missed you, Keelath.”

“Where do we go from here?”

“A little backward and a little sideways, but mostly forward.” She giggled. He smiled.

“I have no where to live right now,” Mirium went on.

“Tyrdan has allowed us rooms in the Sunwalker manor.”

“Rooms, plural?”

“Room?” Keelath offered. 

Mirium dropped a hand on top of his. “Do you even sleep anymore?”

“No, but I am patient if you desire something to cuddle.”

He managed to say it without cracking a grin. Mirium started giggling. Keelath regarded her bemusedly. 

Keeping a hand on his, she edged around the table so they were sitting next to each other instead of across. Keelath turned his face to her. She lifted his head to him, and he gently explored her face with his lips.

“I’ve never tried death knight before,” Mirium purred.

“Are you making up your mind about us, then?”

“I don’t know.” She leaned into him. “It’s better than nothing?”

“That seems a little insulting, doesn’t it?”

“Sorry.”

“No, I understood what you mean. It not a simple choice. It’s not resuming our old relationship, for in many ways that is impossible now.”

Mirium shivered, just as much from the innate cold to Keelath’s body as her own feelings. “I want you. It’s just all a little complicated isn’t it? And you, with your memories failing…”

“We’ll use what time we can.”

“Speaking of which—How long until you leave to attend Tyrdan’s wedding?”

Keelath squinted, closing one eye. “A couple hours?”

Mirium lifted out of her chair to catch the taller elf’s lips. “Double that time for me.”

His arms closed around her, and she shivered again from the icy embrace, excited this time. She put kisses on his cheeks and ears and eyelids, chasing away her confusing thoughts and emotions with the love. Keelath’s movements were a little mechanical, based in memory instead of feeling, as he returned her attentions.

“My room,” Mirium gasped after a minute.

“Um,” said Keelath, recalling his earlier warning about functioning.

She shook her head, not wanting to hear it. She couldn’t tell if he was relaxed against her, or if his flesh was as stiff from tension as from cold. She looked into his eyes and wondered what his chilly touch would feel like in her bed.

“I can’t do this,” Keelath said suddenly, dropping his eyes.

It struck her, and she pulled from him, biting back tears.

“Not now, I mean,” Keelath quickly corrected, tugging her back in. “This…isn’t a problem one moment will fix, dearest, and I have other obligations this evening. I can’t back away from Tyrdan’s wedding, after all he has done for me. Do you understand?”

Mirium nodded into him. They hadn’t been born or married yesterday, and forestalling their pleasure for the necessities of living was a familiar, if undesirable, enough experience. “But you’ll come back right after, yes?”

He answered her by kissing her.

They made best use of the little time they had left. When Keelath returned to her room to change into his brother’s wedding’s attire, she made him linger. Keelath was almost late. Almost. She didn’t make him feel too guilty for it.

They both knew they would have more time during the honeymoon.

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