What Darkness Lies, Part Three

It was the gift of the dead, to move while asleep. To do without thinking. To serve without questioning.

“You walk around like a clenched fist rather than an open hand, brother. I think you close yourself off from…what life can still be.”

Tyrdan’s words echoed in Keelath’s head, as clingy as the blood flies that walked on his undead skin and sought holes in the enchantment that kept rot and maggots from his flesh. Night had fallen, and the blood flies had thankfully settled, but Keelath’s grim thoughts remained.

The dark rangers of Keelath’s company had departed to scout out the remains of the Alliance army. Keelath made about as much noise as a pack of rampaging brutosaurs when he tried to move in the thick muck and undergrowth of Nazmir, so he stayed behind, using his sleepless night to help maintain the gear of the other Horde soldiers.

The scrape of the grindstone and the soft patter of polish onto breastplates could only distract him for so long, though. In some ways, that was what the entire thing was: a distraction.

“I am here because I am useful here,” he muttered to the night air. The other Forsaken nearby ignored him. Just as many of them had talked to themselves when the loss and the self-recriminations got too great, and it was an unspoken courtesy to let their fellows alone in their brooding. So long as you could still fight, that was good enough, and talking about it just reminded them all of experiences they would rather forget.

“I am good at war, and so I fight,” said Keelath. “What else is left to me? I cannot heal anyone any longer. The Light I once served now burns me. I cannot give my once-wife life in her belly, or the love she craves… My brother holds the barony, his wife with heir. My own son is corrupted and dying.

“There is naught I can do for any of it. To think of it is sadness. To think otherwise is foolishness.  So I don’t think. I do what I can still do, and do well, and that is the war.”

Keelath glanced at the stars: the beacons of hope for so many elves. Now they looked cold and distant; their mother had turned her face from him. “Perhaps my brother still sees a way,” Keelath murmured. “Perhaps for the living, there is. For the dead there is only servitude until we are dust.”

So telling himself, he lapsed back into the mindless work of sharpening blades and cleaning armor, letting his thoughts drift and then become still. It was the gift of the dead, to move while asleep. To do without thinking.

To serve without questioning.

“We are a family in death,” muttered Keelath. “My family is my life…my unlife.”

When the dark rangers returned, Keelath smiled grimly at them. The Forsaken unit picked up to leave. With the retreat of the Alliance from Nazmir certain, the Banshee Queen had need of them elsewhere. Keelath rode to war with determination and with pride.

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