„I lost a world – the other day! Has anybody found? You know it by the row of stars Around it’s forehead bound.

Emily Dickinson

Imaya keeps her secrets in a wooden box. She can’t remember when she picked up this habit, but it has long become second nature to her. Even now that the box is full to the brim with her dusty memories, she remains a collector: A crimson red feather she found on Falconwing Square, a day after her arrival in Quel’ Thalas. A seashell necklace she bought from an overzealous vendor in Orgrimmar. A tiny wax bead, splintered from the seal of a mysterious letter. There’s always another moment to capture, another proof to collect. At the end of the day, when her duties are done and night’s stillness makes room for uninvited thoughts, she clutches to her treasures as if her very life depended on it. As if running her fingers over an old toy or through her mother’s favourite beads would somehow keep her breathing. “They’re like ghosts”, Imaya whispers in one of those nights when no one but her aged pet owl Morra is around to listen. “You keep them locked away, but they still come back to haunt you.” And she smiles and shakes her head over the sentimental fool she has become.

There’s a silver pendant on a leather cord, blackened by time and the touch of too many hands. It’s a poorly crafted dragon, with a red eye that glares at the beholder and claws that hold a chunky heart. Initials are engraved to it’s back, “D.A.” in the coarse letters that the humans and dwarves of the Eastern Kingdoms use. They reveal that this particular memory is a stolen one, someone else’s charm against the dangers of this world, and Imaya keeps it deeply hidden between her cluttered belongings.

Twenty years had passed since she last killed someone, twenty years in which the soldier in her had lain in a merciful sleep. How strange it was, Imaya thought, that her body remembered what her mind had long forgotten. It still knew all the steps of that deadly dance of blades and shadows. Maybe there was still a fighter’s heart beating in her chest, despite the bad shape she was in. Her enemy, however, was now of a different kind. The broken bundle to her feet resembled in no way the brutish orcs and trolls she had struck down as a soldier of the Ranger Corps. Those had been little more than animals to her, too dangerous to be left alive and yet not to blame for their mindless rage. Never before had she felt such a turmoil after a kill, and a slight nausea tainted the victory rush.

“Don’t even think about it”, Imaya growled at the Forsaken woman that cradled the dead body in her arms like a mother and hungrily licked her tattered lips. The woman, a bruised, spindly creature that called herself Arilie, sneered and narrowed her cattish eyes. Imaya had no doubt that if it wasn’t for the sack of silver that she paid this abomination to guide her through the woods of Hillsbrad, she would have attacked her. Instead, Arilie shoved the body from her lap and got up with a rattling wheeze.

“There’s no meat on that one anyway”, she said in the raspy Common that Imaya found so hard to understand. “And we better get moving, little elf. If you meet one of these farmers on your way, there’s usually a whole nest of them just waiting around the corner.”

“We can’t just leave without Sorrowsight – without him, I’ll never get into Silvermoon in one piece. He has the reputation to be reliable. I’m sure he’ll show up any minute.”

“Whatever you say, girl. But maybe your friend is late because his pretty head sticks on some human’s hayfork.” Arilie tapped the dead man with the tip of her haggled boot. “Silver or not, by sunrise I’m out of here.”

“That’s only fair, I guess”, Imaya sighed. Her gaze wandered restlessly over the nocturnal landscape that stretched below her. She knew it was madness to stay any longer. It had been her own foolish idea to meet Evran Sorrowsight on Thoradin’s Wall, the once majestic barrier between Hillsbrad and the Highlands. She had chosen this place because it was the only thing she remembered about this area, because she knew she could find it even if she got lost. It had not occured to her that the people of Southshore were frequently patrolling this place in their merciless hunt for undead and criminals.

Maybe the cruel hand of fate had sent the young man up here, so many hours after nightfall. If only Sorrowsight had shown up on time, this human would now lay safely in his bed and not in his own blood on a cold stone floor. At first it had even looked as if a fight could be avoided. Like so many times before on her journey from Kalimdor back into Elven territory, Imaya had tried to talk her way out of it. She was, after all, fluent in Common – and wasn’t it perfectly believable that she was just a humble High Elf on her way to Quel’Danil? Her petite frame and girlish appearance tricked many into believing she posed no threat, and this human had been no exception. After Imaya had greeted him in his own tongue, his steps grew hesitant and his nervous stance seemed to relax. But then his gaze found Arilie – the deformed creature that lurked in the shadows, as stock-still as only the dead can be and yet not invisible. With a raging howl, the man swung his sword at Imaya, who swiftly reached for the blades on her girdle. Her instincts took over, and the world started to spin.

"You shall pay for this. Do you hear me? You’ll pay for this!"

Those were his last words, the hoarse, desperate threats of a man waiting for his death after Imaya had struck him down with half a dozen dagger stabs. Words he repeated over and over again, like a chant, a magic spell, untill he finally drifted into unconciousness. And it was then that Imaya realized she would now have to live with the memory of this night, and she wasn’t exactly sure whether this was a blessing or a curse.

Evran Sorrowsight, the elven mercenary, arrived in the morning, only an hour after the disgruntled Arilie had disappeared into the woods. One could tell by his scratched up face and dusty clothes that he’d been into a fight.

“Welcome to Hillsbrad, Mrs. Brightsong”, he said with a wide smirk on his wolfish face. “It seems you have already made a friend in the time you were waiting for me.”

“I suppose you could put it that way.” Despite the poorly disguised anger in her voice, Imaya felt that the presence of another elf had a soothing effect on her, and for that she was grateful. “Let’s not waste any more time. If I remember correctly, it’s at least a day’s walk to Lordaeron City.”

Sorrowsight raised an eyebrow and burst into laughter. “Lordaeron City, eh? I haven’t heard that name in quite some time now. You’re in for a big surprise, girl!”

He winked and motioned her to follow him, and with a sigh Imaya shouldered her knapsack. Many hours later she would find a dragon-shaped pendant in one of it’s many pockets, the very same pendant that her human opponent had worn, and by then she would not remember how it ever got there.

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