I’ll be the first to admit that the plot line between Keelath and Mirium is a bit of a mess. Keelath’s characterization of being a cold, unemotional death knight is pretty inconsistent at times, and I have to be careful to not overdo the kissy-kissy scenes, which irritate me personally and, I’m sure, my readers as well.
This was an earlier attempt at a reunion for the couple, which would have taken place sometime between Evelos being cleansed of the n’raqi and the faction war picking up again in Darkshore. I decided ultimately to do away with it, as it seemed too easily resolved at the time, and closed off an alternate storyline that was picking up between Mirium and Tyrric and his wife.
I still like it and post it however, for it shows a more determined side of Mirium that we don’t get much of while she’s struggling with trauma and some minor N’Zoth corruption, as well as keeping the contrast strong between Evelos and Keelath: a sensitive son vs. a relatively insensitive father. This is Mirium at her best, and an iconic interplay between all three characters.Author’s Note
When Evelos saw Keelath, waiting for his son on the hilltop near the gate to the Ghostlands, a smile overtook the void elf’s face. He set Protector into a canter, and the courser, antsy from being cooped up during its master’s long sickness, eagerly obeyed. It almost pulled the reins from Evelos’ hands when he pulled it up next to his father’s undead destrier.
“Quite the nag,” said Keelath, with a hint of a smirk.
“Oh, I know,” said Evelos with an answering smile. “But we’ve both been through a lot, and through a lot together. I wouldn’t trade him for the world.”
Keelath didn’t reply, and Evelos leaned over in his saddle to clasp his father’s wrist. Keelath returned the affectionate gesture, but his bearing remained stiff and cold. Evelos sighed at that as he settled back in the saddle.
“Walk together?” he suggested. When Keelath grunted an affirmative, Evelos led the way, taking the horses along a path through the dead forest, just broad enough for both of them to ride abreast.
“You are looking well,” Keelath finally remarked into the silence.
“I feel well,” said Evelos softly. “The n’raqi is gone. It will always hurt a little, but that’s better than what could have been.”
“Indeed,” Keelath agreed. “Will you still serve the Alliance, then?”
“Yes,” said Evelos, glancing back at him. “They saved me, and there’s still enough of a taint to make me unsafe near the Sunwell, I think.”
Keelath nodded. “I rarely go there myself.”
“Does it…help you at all? To be near it?”
“It feels like I am sunburned all over, outside and in,” Keelath answered distantly. “It is not pleasant, but nor do I need its Light anymore.”
“And I,” said Evelos, glancing out into the distance. Then he smiled and looked back. “Well. That at least is something we still share.”
Keelath looked back at him and said nothing.
Evelos’ smile fell. “I meant it as a good thing.”
“I know you did.”
“I guess it’s worse for you,” Evelos said hesitantly. “In Stormwind there are still all the other ren’dorei…and of course there’s Breith. It’s enough for me, at any rate. But you…”
“There are the Forsaken.”
Evelos glanced at him, and it was with that same pained look that Tyrric also gave him whenever Keelath mentioned his liege lady or wore her colors. Keelath felt a flash of fury, but he pushed it aside. There were misunderstandings between the living and the undead, and there likely always would be. He knew where his loyalties lay.
“Father…what will you do when the war is over? Will we all live together again?” Evelos asked with a caution that was painful to Keelath.
“Are you assuming the war will end?”
“Well, I just thought…the Horde hasn’t been liking everything Sylvanas has been doing lately.”
“Queen Sylvanas, Evelos.”
Keelath scowled as Evelos’ sly look. When Keelath didn’t relent in his glare, Evelos sighed.
“I was just assuming there’d be peace again, eventually. There almost always is.”
Keelath said nothing. Evelos dropped back as they came to a narrow part in the trail and didn’t immediately regain Keelath’s side once they passed through it. The horses walked for a while in silence. Yellow dust puffed up under their hooves, but the soil didn’t stink as badly as it had years ago. Slowly, the Plaguelands were recovering.
“Do you still talk with Mother much?” Evelos asked as they came to a bend in the road. They were turning back now, to where they had met.
“No,” said Keelath. “We decided it was better for both of us if we remained apart.”
Evelos swallowed. “If it was because of me–”
“No. Don’t flatter yourself, Evelos. It is because we are on different roads now.”
“Tyrric says he thinks you’re on the road to damnation,” Evelos said lowly.
Keelath looked around sharply, knowing that Evelos knew the mention of his brother, and in such a fashion, would hurt him. Evelos also knew the brothers hadn’t spoken in months. “Why would you say that?” Keelath demanded.
Evelos met his gaze head-on. Though there was still something a little ethereal about him–a side effect of his cure, Keelath thought–there was also a steeliness that the elf hadn’t had when he had been a boy. It was the mark of his experiences, though it made Keelath grimace to think how much suffering his son had had to go through to finally find his grit.
“But is it true?” Evelos asked quietly, recalling him to the conversation.
Keelath turned away to face forward again. “War sustains me, son. I have told you this before. When it is over, that will be the end of me, too. Do you look forward to it? Why should I?”
“Father…I don’t think you should just…give up.”
“It is not giving up,” Keelath returned impatiently. “It is the truth of what I am now, and the sooner all of you accept it, the sooner you can all move on and be happy with your lives. Without me.”
Protector’s nose drew even with Keelath’s stirrup, and then his son was once again by his side. “I don’t want to move on,” said Evelos quietly, stubbornly as if he were still a boy. “We lost you once already. That was hard enough.”
“So you are better prepared to do so again.”
“No. It would be just another wound besides the first. And Medi would be completely heartbroken. She’s very fond of you, you know.”
Keelath glanced at him, then without answer, urged his horse forward to take the lead again. They rode in single file and resentful silence until they came back to the beginning of the trail. Evelos didn’t look at him when Keelath circled his horse back around to face him.
Keelath sighed. “Evelos…”
“If you’re going to say anything about just getting over it, you can forget it,” Evelos returned sharply.
Keelath nudged his horse forward some more, so he could put his hands over Evelos’ where they lay on Protector’s reins. Both Keelath and the horses jumped when Evelos suddenly collared his father for a fierce hug. They rocked in the saddle. Neither said anything. Keelath ran a hand through Evelos’ prematurely gray hair until Evelos sat back again.
“I’ll see you again?” asked Evelos, after he had a chance to resettle himself in the saddle and regain his dignity. The hope in his voice was almost painful.
“It is dangerous for you to be this close to Silvermoon.”
Something inside Evelos seemed to wilt. “Fine,” he answered shortly. “Don’t get yourself killed in battle, Dad. We’d have to make sure to put a proper lock on the coffin this time.”
If it was a joke, it was a bad one, and Keelath didn’t reward it with a smile. Evelos eyed him for a few more minutes, sadness in his eyes if not in his fierce expression, then turned to go. Keelath watched him leave in silence.
“Mother…” Evelos hugged her as a greeting. They turned to walk together, among the gardens behind Light’s Hope Chapel, then out into the Plaguelands again. “I’m worried about Keelath.”
“Oh, sweetheart, I am too.” She sought his hand, and he took it. When he looked up at her, the gloom in his expression panged her.
“Why did you leave him then?”
“We left each other,” Mirium reminded him. “It was best for both of us.”
“You’re both hurting inside. How is that for the best?”
Mirium didn’t have an answer for him. She just looked away.
Evelos continued squeezing her hand. They watched the wind in the rotted trees, rattling the dead leaves still clinging to their branches.
Evelos spoke first. “You’re all torn up in and out. You both are. I just can’t help but think that if you turned towards each other, instead of away…you were always there for each other when I lived in Quel’Thalas.”
“It’s not that simple anymore,” said Mirium.
“Then why? Why did you really leave him?”
“Evelos,” said Mirium sternly, “it’s not your business.”
“Isn’t it? He’s my father!”
Mirium sighed. “I left because he hurt me,” she admitted finally. “When we lay together—“
Evelos stiffened and sat up. “Did he—?”
“Not intentionally,” Mirium said quickly. “And it was just as much my own foolishness for goading him on. Death knights don’t…love, Evelos. He tried, and…did instead what a death knight can only do.”
Evelos looked away. Had she seen him blinking rapidly? “That’s not true,” he said. “There are death knights with the Watch. One has an adopted son. They’re both married—“
“They are not your father.”
“And Father would never mean to hurt you!” Evelos retorted.
“I know,” said Mirium soothingly, as if he were still a child curled against her in her lap. “I know. Do you not see? The guilt would haunt him forever if he did. He can’t help what he is, but he can help where he stays—and that is away.”
“I think him being away is also haunting him,” said Evelos. “He sees Tyrric in charge of the baronry, happy with his wife and the Light, when Father used to have all those things, too. Now he has none of it. Abandoned by his family and kin—“
“Are you sure you’re not speaking for yourself?” Mirium slipped the question in.
Evekos started and swallowed a few times. “I’m fine. I have a family. Father doesn’t.”
“He has you,” said Mirium.
Mirium went quiet.
Evelos went on. “He sees these things, and he sees how he lost them. He used to heal, and now he can only kill. Mother, he needs you. He needs you to be his Light again. Tyrric is busy, and Medi and I are on the other side of the war and the world. You’re the only one who can help him now.”
“I don’t know about that…” Mirium looked away, guilt squinting her eyes and pulling on her lips. She unconsciously reached up to twirl a lock of her red hair over and over her fingers.
“Why?” said Evelos, stopping to face her.
Without looking at him, Mirium reached for Evelos’ face, stroking his cheeks with one hand and then tucking his hair behind his ears like he was a child, giving herself time to think. “Eve…I failed the lot of you. The Sunwalkers. I’m not fit much for service, to a barony or a family.”
Evelos shook his head. “We’ve all done a bunch of failing, Mother.”
“I was cruel to you, when you wished to go to Stromgarde to serve in the Second War. I told you the orcs were a fairy tale, and that the humans were savages. In reality, I was…scared. I didn’t want to lose you, too.”
Evelos eyed her, his expression softened by pain.
“Instead I just lost your heart instead of your life,” Mirium ended quietly.
“Oh, Mother. That was ages ago!”
“And if it hadn’t happened—“ Her fingers ran down his neck, curling about the tentacles still remaining there, remnants of the n’raqi that had once fed on him. “This wouldn’t have happened. We could have weathered the Scourge together as family. You never would have been sent away and suffered so much.”
“We would have all died, you mean.”
Mirium eyed him. Evelos looked down.
“Medi told me. You moved back to Silvermoon when you couldn’t keep the stables afloat without me. And you were safe there, when the Lich King came. All the outer villages got massacred by the Scourge. They must’ve come near the old cottage, or they wouldn’t have taken Dad’s bones like they did. We would have died, probably to his sword even, if we had been there.”
“Maybe,” said Mirium with a sigh.
“And I wouldn’t have met Breith, and you wouldn’t have had Medi. It’s not all bad, Mother. There’s nothing we can do about it now, anyway.” He looked up at her. “I think it’s a lot of good, actually. Medi’s calling herself a Sunwalker now.”
Mirium blinked, swallowing.
“She loves Father. I don’t know if he suggested it or if Tyrric did.”
Mirium still said nothing.
Evelos relaxed, seeking her hands and clasping them. “Will you at least talk to him? Show him he doesn’t have to run away from us!”
“I don’t think he’s running away,” said Mirium.
“Then don’t you run away, either.”
“Look, I’m sorry, Evelos! I’m sorry I couldn’t be there. I’m…sorry…” She trailed off.
“Mother!” He almost sounded like an embarrassed teenager, except he also said, “I love you.”
She reached her arms out to him, and he accepted the hug. The strong arms that looped her shoulders reminded her that he was a man, now. Her baby, grown up now, and living a world way. Still she rocked him like he was young.
“Will you do it then?” Evelos asked after a long moment. “Will you talk to him at least?”
“You’re not going to let this go, are you?”
“No,” said Evelos. “I’m determined to guilt-trip you if I have to.”
“Ungrateful child,” Mirium admonished, but she was laughing through her sniffles. She held his cheeks and gave him a kiss on the forehead, and he smiled back. “My little imp,” she said with equal parts fondness and frustration.
“So, will you?” Evelos returned with a smile.
“We’ll see, Evelos. We’ll see.”
Evelos nodded. It would have to do.
The jungle was sticky and hot, even inside the ziggurats of the Zandalari. Mirium went back and forth between the Forsaken guards, begging them for information. That one didn’t know who Keelath was. That one said he was out on assignment and didn’t know when he’d be back. That one said he’d seen the death knight return to Orgrimmar days ago, even.
Mirium pressed on, and slowly the rumors became fact.
It was in Vol’dun that she finally found him, or signs of him: his unit’s camp pitched near a caravan of vulpera. The Forsaken eyed her oddly when she took a seat outside Keelath’s tent to wait for him. She had her uses, she told them when they kept looking at her. She was a farrier and could fix armor. She was of the Horde. She belonged.
The Forsaken muttered to each other, but eventually left her alone.
Keelath came in near dusk, leading his destrier by the reins. He didn’t see her until she rose from her place, working out the stiffness in her muscles.
“Mirium? What are you doing here?”
Mirium fixed him with a hard eye. “I’m part of the camp.” She indicated her small farrier’s anvil that she had set up nearby, and the beginnings of a dugout for a forge. “And I want to speak to you. Evelos admittedly knocked some sense into me.”
“The two of you fought?” Keelath eyed her owlishly.
“Not literally,” said Mirium. “Come here, please. I don’t want to have to shout for the whole camp to hear.”
Keelath eyed her a little longer, then tied up the destrier. Being also undead, there wasn’t much to do for the animal’s comfort, and Keelath left the tack on it after covering the leather over with a blanket to protect it from sun and rain. Then he sat across from Mirium. “So, what is it?”
Mirium looked up. “I’ll address the elekk in the room. You can’t give me anymore children.”
“That is true.”
“But you’ve been with me for a few thousand years, and all we wanted was Evelos anyway. …I’ve been selfish, Keelath. I kept thinking I could find it all over again, everything you were to me, while you’ve been here, languishing, for lack of working wedding tackle.”
“If it is important to you…”
“It shouldn’t have been!” Mirium barked him silent. “What was important was you, and all the love in the world you gave me. After Talthan, I didn’t think that so real, didn’t think I’d ever have that again, so what did it matter? But that was everything, Keelath. And you were man enough to be silent and go by my wishes no matter how much it hurt you.”
“Oh, you are such a man sometimes!” Mirium exclaimed in frustration.
“Am I?” Keelath said with biting sarcasm.
Mirium shot up and stepped across to him. Keelath didn’t move as she placed her hands on his shoulders, looking up into his Scourge-lit eyes.
“We’ve been down this route before,” Keelath reminded her grimly. “I don’t want to hurt you again.”
Mirium just smirked at him and laid her head on his shoulder. “You are nice and cool in this dreadfully hot desert, Keel,” she told him lightly. “You’d be very nice to lie beside, so long as the climate was hot. With no manor to look after, we could move wherever we wanted.”
Keelath stared at her and did a slow blink. Then he scowled. “I don’t understand you women.”
Mirium straightened. “I was a little bit wrong, and a little bit right,” she admitted. “I’m sorry either way, for just abandoning you like that. I needed time to think…to adjust. You know what that’s been like.”
Keelath slowly nodded.
“Well, I’ve decided now, and I’ll be honest that Evelos and Breith’s commitment to each other despite all their problems gave me inspiration. We’re not going to be a normal couple, but we don’t have to be. I can still love you for what you are now. All I ever really wanted was to have someone at my side, and I kept turning around, and it was you, just you, a hole missing that was the shape of you.” She nuzzled his cheek. “The infertility doesn’t matter. There’s ways around it, if we have a mind in the future. We’ll have to think twice about pleasing each other, me with your body, you with my blood, but we’ll find a way around that too without hurting each other.”
“We will,” she insisted, frowning at him.
His mouth gaped open with uncertainty, words unsaid. She stared at it, at him, daring herself. Then she was standing on her toes, forming her mouth about his–
He shoved her away. “No! Look, I lost control once—“
She slapped him, hard. When he stared, she scowled at him in challenge.
“Hit me, Keelath. Hit me back. Make me bleed.”
“Are you insane—“
She slapped him again. “Hit me, death knight! Take my soul and eat of my flesh! You know you want it!”
She bit down on the back of her wrist, tearing open an old scab there and letting the blood run. She held it out to him. He backed away from her, aghast, but the bloodthirsty light was coming into his eyes. She all but shoved it at him and was rewarded when he suddenly seized her hand.
Then, just as suddenly, he was reeling back, yelping from the burst of Light magic that burned him.
“You can’t hurt me,” said Mirium harshly. “Not without my say-so, and maybe even then. I’ve gotten stronger since you last knew me, Keelath. I’m a Blood Knight. If you turn, I can take you down; don’t you doubt that!”
Keelath stayed back, rubbing his burned mouth and eyeing her with the caution and resentment of a hungry ghoul. She advanced on him, holding the Light like a mace, and the unholy hunger abruptly flickered out of his eyes, and he looked away.
So she let the Light dissipate and instead caught him in a hug.
Keelath looked back at her, touched her hair gently as if afraid it would crack and fall off if he was too rough. He massaged her scalp for a bit, then let his hand fall. “I’m afraid for you.”
“Keelath Sunwalker, do you or don’t you think I can take care of myself?”
His eyes went desperate, then masked themselves in amusement. “Finding you lost in Ulduar seems to suggest—“
“Don’t you dare finish that sentence,” said Mirium.
Keelath dropped it.
She pushed back from him so they could look one another in the eye. “I won’t say it will be alright, because really, I’ve never done something like this before.” She took a careful breath. “But I’d rather try to work this out, at your side, even if it puts us both in danger sometimes. I owe it to you, and we both owe it to our children.” She put her arms around his neck and dragged him down to her level, possessively. “You’re mine, Keelath. Not some Lich King’s, or some title of a barony. Not even that bitch Sylvanas. Mine.”
Keelath stared at her, then started to laugh. It was a crackling, hissing laugh, and it chilled Mirium, but she refused to let go. It wasn’t a natural sound for a death knight to make, and one of the vulpera in the next tent over sat up, fur rippling in dismay.
Keelath swung Mirium around in a circle, and she grinned and held on to him. They danced, waltzing to a traditional tune from centuries past, finally ending in another swirl that had Mirium in his arms again.
“Come on, iceberg,” she teased him. “It is getting late for living minds, and it’s too damned hot to sleep here without you nearby.”
He picked her up, like he used to do, and carried her inside the tent. They laughed on finding he hadn’t bothered to make a bedroll for himself, or even bring one, and instead they lay under an old horse blanket.
Keelath stayed awake as she fell asleep. Her blood thrummed in his ears, enticing, but forbidden. He wondered of it, but decided that a death knight was patient. And he would rather lie next to her than spend another night alone.