[Story] Sideways – A Meeting in Dalaran

Zarah sat in the window alcove, her eyes scanning the churning grey clouds. It would surely be raining, were it not for the magical shield that enveloped the city where they now met. This Dalaran still stood among the ancient pine trees, warm and safe beneath its magical barrier. “I’ve never been to a sin’dorei wedding,” she said finally, taking a sip from her glass. “Are they much different from human ones?”

Renner gave her a sideways look. “You’ve been to a human wedding? Where?”

Outside, lightning flickered distantly, outside the magical dome. Zarah could see the trees gusting beyond the barrier, as well. She gathered her robe closer around herself, just in case. “They have them all the time in the city. It’s one advantage of not living in a ruined old house in the forest.”

He gave a little huff at that, but wouldn’t give Zarah the satisfaction of hearing it. “I imagine it’ll be like the other parties. Just a lot bigger.” Renner was still cross at being assigned duties as part of his attendance. All he had really planned to do was eat — and eat a lot. “Will you come or not?”

“What about Lena?”

“She can come, too,” Renner replied. He’d already thought to ask Hethurin about that.

“I mean whether it’s safe,” Zarah said, shaking her head. “Though she could put up a minor illusion if it’s needed.”

There were far stranger things at Fairsong Academy than a human, but Renner didn’t say that. “It’s safe. The other student is eager to talk to her. In fact–” he stretched his boots out onto the low table in front of him. “I’m taking her to create an anchor soon.”

Zarah’s brows arched sharply in surprise, which was the reaction he’d hoped for. “Really. Do you really think you can oversee two Timewalkers responsibly?” Considering what had happened with the last one, Renner had to allow her that slight.

“I trust her so far. She’s diligent in her studies, and she’s seen first-hand what can happen.” And she’d never asked him to bring guests to other timelines, Renner thought crossly. He still couldn’t believe, after all of the problems they’d had, that Hethurin would suggest such a thing. And he was still bringing Terellion with him, though at least he’d been careful about which timelines he chose in that case. Still, the mage often forgot caution at times, and it concerned him. Particularly when he was distracted, as he was with this wedding business. “There’s another one as well that I’m watching,” Renner continued. “She’s had only very basic lessons, but she has an interest.”

Zarah shook her head. “Please tell me you’re at least going to speak with her first.”

“Of course,” Renner said, though he dreaded that conversation. Elves never seemed to react well at first. The last thing he wanted was a repeat of Desdeyliri, though she’d promised to tell the new student beforehand. It wasn’t really a subject that came up naturally, though, and he guessed that he might have to do it himself. At the very least, he hoped that she would stop watching him while he was reading. “What about Lena?”

“She’s well. I worry that she’ll overextend herself, though. I have to make her rest or she’ll forget.” Zarah frowned slightly. “She’s been to see Sanimir. He’s — I hate to see mages like that. It’s like a bird with its feathers clipped. I know it’s necessary, but it seems so cruel.”

Renner watched Zarah for a puzzled moment. Hadn’t she been the one so keen to stop the rogue chronomancer? She didn’t regret it, did she? “He is secure though, isn’t he?”

She nodded. “Yes, his–” Zarah stumbled over the word — “keeper speaks with me often. I don’t think that she much enjoys it either. I’ve heard the sorts of things he shouts at her.”

It was unfortunate, Renner agreed, but he could see no better solution to the problem that he had, in a way, himself caused. He thought it better to change the subject. “We should have one,” he said finally.

Zarah gave him another sharp look. “One what? A mage?”

“No, a wedding. With a cake. A bigger cake than Hethurin’s.”

This time it was Zarah who snorted. “Are you mad? Whatever for?”

“Welllll,” Renner hadn’t exactly thought this plan through very well. “You’re my consort, aren’t you?”

Zarah threw a book at him. Fortunately it missed his head, because it was a very large book. Her shape was already melting away into the timeways, but he could see her flashing green eyes. “We’ll see you at the party,” she growled, her broad wings unfurling as she lifted off. Renner wasn’t sure if it was a threat or a promise.

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