A closing chapter to a past era of the Sunwalker roleplay. Though still a part of their canon, these pieces were more to do with explaining gaps in roleplay scenes that went on off-screen between Mirium and Keelath. I find that they’re a bit repetitive and lacking something in the quality of my writing, so I didn’t make them into an official series.Author’s Note
The sounds of the party faded behind them. They seemed to have shaken off their Forsaken observer, and Mirium drew a little closer to Keelath.
“You seemed to enjoy yourself,” she offered hesitantly. Actually, he hadn’t seemed to, standing at the edge of the party and picking at the offered food as if he were a ghost—or wanted to become one.
Keelath didn’t answer her. He had his thinking expression on. That face, at least, she recognized, and it stirred old feelings in her, memories of long nights spent talking about their troubles, watching the moon form patterns from the window panes onto the floor. The moon shone now too, a half crescent riding above the walls of water surrounding Nazjatar, as if surfing on their crests.
Keelath had kept walking as she paused to reminisce, and he was now standing on the rim of the Nazjatar basin some yards away from her. He had the air of a sentry, straight-backed and silent—though without his armor, he would make for a poor one if he got attacked, Mirium thought with a soft, sad sigh. As would she.
She came up beside him and also looked down. The remnant pools of the sea below glistened with starlight, though the rest of the basin seemed little more than muck and masses of dying kelp. It stank, and for a brief instant, Mirium wondered if fish had a sense of smell, and if they were ever bothered by the stench of their home.
Or perhaps the smell was from so many creatures and flora made to adapt—or die—in a new environment not of their choosing. She looked at Keelath with that thought in mind.
“Do you often come here alone?” she asked.
“I stand watch while my brother sleeps,” answered Keelath.
“Does it ever get boring?”
He glanced at her, the spark in his eyes the only sign of life about him. You never noticed how dynamic living creatures were until confronted by someone who didn’t breathe or even really blink, Mirium thought. That stillness was something unsettling about his appearance that even the illusion to make his flesh seem warm and alive couldn’t fix.
“Sometimes. But then I ask myself, what would I be doing instead? This is my duty.”
“You keep the camp safe,” Mirium agreed. “But what about after the war? Will you still stand and watch the world go by then, too?”
A short silence, then, “Mirium, I don’t expect I will go on after the war ends.”
“You mean you would—“
“Yes.” Keelath turned to her, and it seemed whatever he had been chewing on finally found an outlet. “It was something my brother asked of me earlier today: what I truly yearned for. I did not tell him then, because what I would really like…?” He closed his eyes, and let the rest of his breath go in a frosty mist without words on it. His last speech was instead rustling and guttural, the last of the air being forced from his lungs. “Release…”
Mirium swallowed hard. There was an emptiness inside her, leftover from her ruined partnership with Talthan. With Keelath’s admittance, it expanded, and she tried to stop it by taking another step towards him, until she was able to touch his shoulder. Keelath looked at her again, and shyly she puts hands on both his shoulders, running her fingers up and down the contours of his leather jerkin, then his neck.
“I’m sorry,” said Keelath, seeming to think he had upset her.
And he had, but not for the reason he seemed to think. “No, Keelath. I’m just saddened this is such a burden on you. It’s what many of the undead would want, I guess.”
Keelath only looked at her, and the odd gleam in his eyes said more than the rest of him did.
“Keelath…” It took her a minute to find the courage to ask the question, and in the meantime he turned his gaze back out to the valley. “Do you remember being dead? Truly dead?” She drew a little closer, cheek almost touching his shoulder as she turned to survey the rest of Nazjatar with him.
“Not entirely,” said Keelath, “but yes.”
“The parts you do remember—what was it like?”
“This isn’t a question most Forsaken would welcome.”
“I’m sorry. I-I don’t mean to offend.”
Keelath went on regardless, shaking his head. “It was at first like walking out of a dark house into the sunlight. You felt yourself lift up and out, and wondered how you had never noticed that the house was so dark and cold before.”
Mirium’s breath caught in her throat at the thought. “And…? What then?”
“There were others there. Family, I think. And there was a place to look beyond and below again, but not all of them liked to use it. It reminded them too much of the harsh realities of this living world.”
“It sounds like this place was a paradise…” Mirium ventured.
Another sigh escaped Keelath. “It was.”
“…did you ever look down at us? You said not all spirits might…”
Keelath looked at her. “Yes. Many times.”
The world grew fuzzy. Mirium turned away to pretend the light hurt her eyes, though the moon wasn’t strong enough to make anyone’s eyes water. “Then you must have seen me and Talthan and…”
That brought a chuckle out of him. “It’s not like a scrying spell, Mirium. It was more…a connection. You seemed happy, and that was of comfort to me. There is endless patience in that place, for the more negative things… A knowing that all eventually pass on and repent…see the Light…one only had to wait.”
Mirium leaned into him, and she was startled but pleased when he put an arm about her. “Those years were hard, Keelath. With you dying, and the wars…are you sure it was happiness from me that you felt?”
Keelath blinked and looked down at her. “It is…a different way of looking at it, I suppose. One can’t be unhappy all the time…at least until undeath.” He paused, and his voice changed, thick with bitterness. “Then unhappiness is eternal.”
“I’m glad you’re here, though,” said Mirium softly. “I really missed you. We all did.”
Keelath didn’t answer. Mirium put her arms about him and held tight. “Will you go back to that place then, when you are released?” Perhaps it would not be so bad losing him a second time, if she knew such happiness waited for him.
“I do not think I can,” said Keelath quietly. His voice was calm enough, but Mirium heard the layers of suffering in it.
“Then would you stay here? Or go on to some other place, another sort of afterlife?”
He tucked his chin, and she hugged him a little tighter. “I don’t know,” he said lowly. “I don’t see anything but darkness for me now, Mirium.”
“There is light,” Mirium said firmly. “There is enough paladin in you still to fuel it. I see it in you every time you look at me, every time you speak of Tyrric. You can still love, belong…”
“You will all move on or die eventually, and I’ll be alone again.”
“There will be children,” said Mirium. “And grandchildren and nieces and nephews and their children. Evelos, our son, is expecting. You won’t be alone, Keelath.”
Keelath glanced at her. “I’m sorry I couldn’t give you what you wanted.”
Mirium blew a breath. “No, Keel. There are other ways. Surrogates…adoption. I was being foolish, to put that burden on you…”
“You would really want me to be in charge of your children?”
“Why not? You managed it once before.” She looked up at him. “Keelath, I won’t leave you alone. Now that I know how much you hurt, I feel very childish to have ever thought I could just go my separate way and never…never think of you again. And not hurt you. I have a duty to you—“
“Our marriage was made null when I died.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Mirium said fiercely. “I still want you.” She clung to him, her face tucked against his chest. She didn’t care that he didn’t seem to care, or so she told herself. Didn’t care if she was fooling herself he might still be able to love her…
His arms closed about her, his hand rubbed first one of her ears, than the other. She shivered and looked up at him.
“You want this?” Keelath asked, but he was scowling, not flirting. At her confused gaze, he pulled off his gauntlet. His hand was burnt and blackened, the white bones in his fingers almost seeming like the real glove, covered in dark filth. His expression was agonized, but it wasn’t from the pain of the wound. It was the expectation of her horror.
Mirium forced herself to take the hand without a shudder, pushing healing magic into it. Keelath hissed and gave a sickened shudder, but slowly the flesh crept back and grew, if not wholesome, at least whole.
“The touch of the Light,” Keelath gasped. “It burns…” He leaned over her to gag. Nothing came up.
“I’m sorry,” Mirium cried in alarm, ducking against him.
“No,” Keelath choked out. “It forces feeling. My senses… I can feel my bones being violated again, the crawl of the bloodworms, the stolen flesh—“ Another gag.
“Can I stop it?” Mirium asked, her alarm growing. She looked at his hand, now clenched into a fist, but the Light was no longer working its magic there.
“Mirium…” and he straightened enough to hug her again. He clung to her, really, and she stood fast, not sure how else to react. “Mirium…I used to…take souls to feel this…each had a little bit of light…love…it hurt, oh how it hurt, but it brought back my memories…”
“The Light can heal your memory?” she asked, voice trembling.
“No. I don’t know. Maybe. I’m not sure it worth it.” He had stopped shivering, but he stood back and grasped her hands in his. He shook his head, looking at her. “Would you take me? Really take me, knowing what I am? Would you swear to me again?”
He winced, but held on.
“Keelath Sunwalker…I would.”
This time, when he kissed her, it was long and lingering and sweet and grateful. Mirium folded up against him, half memory and half sensation as they worked around each other. She felt a flush of desire, but that was still dead in him. But maybe, maybe—
“I don’t know about the vows,” Mirium said softly. “Or the laws or what the inheritance would do, but I promise you this much. You’ll have a future after the war, Keelath. I’ll be your future. Stop worrying about what you’re condemning me to—you’re not. These years without you…have been horrible, and I’ve just been getting by…we were meant for each other, across the stars and across lives. We’ll be there for each other until whatever end is destined us.”
Keelath held her close. There was no breath, no heartbeat. No passion. But she felt safe, secure…home.
And she knew he felt the same way.