[Story] Thorns – The Meeting

[[ I am writing this in the car place, hope it’s not too disjointed! ]]

Professor Dawnshard pulled back the flap of the research tent, startling Liara. She was deep in her notes, recording the symbols found on the demon statue’s base. They were similar to the picture words used elsewhere in Uldum, but different enough that she could not decipher them. She copied them meticulously, that she might look in the books back in Shattrath or Silvermoon to compare them there. Surely she could find more information there.

“There’s a boy to see you,” he said. The Professor looked shaken, a look that Liara had rarely seen on him before, and it concerned her.

A boy? Liara drew her brows, puzzled. Was it a letter? A package? She did not expect any, and visitors to the digsite were exceptionally rare. The last one had actually come across them by accident, a traveling merchant who had attempted to take a shorter route through the vast desert. Gathering herself, Liara lay down her quill and adjusted her scarf before stepping out into the searing sun to meet her guest.

He wasn’t exactly a boy; he had a beard. But she could see why the Professor had called him that, he looked impossibly young and innocent. He stood out plainly as an outsider here, his complexion looked as if he had not been out in the sun in months. And he was dressed all in black, with long pants and sleeves, and a heavy woolen cloak. Liara couldn’t imagine how hot he must be. Oh, and he was a human. There were some here, but not many, and those who lived in the desert all took a deep bronze color. The boy held his hat, turning it around anxiously in his hands. He seemed to be waiting for Liara to say something.

“Yes?” she asked. His eyes were a clear and deep blue, really quite nice. Liara felt a pang of jealousy that hers would never look like that again.

The boy glanced toward the Professor, as if gauging his reaction first. “I have information about your children,” he said. His voice bore an accent that Liara didn’t recognize.

It had been years since she had thought of them, wondered where they were or what had become of them. They were well into adulthood now, no doubt with lives of their own. They didn’t need a mother anymore, and it eased some of the guilt that she had carried for decades. But with those words it came over her like a wave, threatening to knock her off her feet. Liara swayed, unsteadily, but regained herself.

“Where– how–?” There were so many questions she had for this strange man.

The boy took out a bundle of papers from within his coat and handed them to Liara. “Those are their addresses.” She glanced at it briefly. Both lived in the Ghostlands, which made no sense. Were they actually dead, was this some cruel prank? But he spoke again before she could ask another question. “They hired me to find you.”

Liara’s breath caught in her throat. What else had they dug up? They must have found out her shameful secrets — all of them. Did they want to confront her? She could not really blame them if that was the case. Liara had had decades to accept her choices and to move past them, but they had not. She didn’t know what she would say if they asked her why.

And the Professor heard all of this, too. She had never told him of her children, the circumstances of their birth nor their being given to the Matron. He had been silent, observing, his regular cool composure returned. He answered the question that she was about to ask. “You need to go to them,” he said. “The dig will still be here. I can handle it for a while.”

She frowned faintly. She didn’t want to stop in the middle of her work, nor — she admitted — did she want to leave the Professor alone out in the desert. He would most likely be fine, but unexpected things could happen. Still, she knew he was right. As much as the idea frightened her, she needed to meet with her son and daughter. She wondered what they looked like now, whether they looked like their father or not.

“But first –” said the Professor. “Won’t you stay for lunch?”

The strange pale boy smiled shyly. “I was hoping you would ask.”

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