[Story] Berwick’s Journal

Life has been quiet, we’ve been returning to some of my old spots to look for anything people might have missed, but it’s not been that productive. The thing about treasure hunting is that it’s just like anything else, people always want the “newest thing”. Obviously when you’re looking for old treasure, that’s not easy to do, but what I mean is the newest trend in Silvermoon or whatever. For a while, anything from Uldum was going for crazy high prices, and one year everyone wanted fossils. Some things are always good to sell, like demon-related artifacts and anything risque or obscene. People will pay a lot for those, partly because they’re rare and partly because they’re sort of illegal. It depends on who you ask. The last couple of times we’ve gone into a town for supplies, we’ve heard about the islands. You know, the ones swarming with demons, those ones. But they mentioned some elves who have lived there for thousands of years, and if there’s one thing elves are good at, it’s leaving behind things that people will want to buy. Especially magical and artsy things.

There’s only one problem. Well, two problems. First is the demons, of course. I don’t know if people are exaggerating, but they make it sound like the place is swarming with them. I’m not that great of a fighter, and I definitely can’t hold off a swarm of demons. Xyliah is good with a bow, but it would take an awful lot of arrows to stop them. And I don’t want anything to happen to Thalien or Caras, either. It may just be that people are making it sound worse than it is. I’ve dealt with tigers and gorillas and trolls in the jungle, so as long as we’re alert it might be okay. I feel like we should at least go and see for ourselves to get a handle on how dangerous it is there. If there are towns and outposts, those must at least be safe enough for people to stay. And there are armies from all over gathering up there. If demons see them, they’d hopefully attack soldiers first.

The other problem is Dalaran. Though the human who ordered our execution is gone, so they say, that doesn’t make me feel any safer about going there. She may be gone, but all those who carried out her orders are probably still there. No one stopped her when she murdered innocent shopkeepers, or locked us up in the dark. I don’t know if I could do it. I shake just thinking about it. Maybe other elves are willing to risk it, but I’m not sure if I can. Do the shopkeepers there just smile and pretend nothing ever happened? Are the cells still there? What about our old house? I just don’t think I could do it. That would mean we’d need to find a mage who could take us out into the islands directly, and I don’t know if Hethurin can. I’ve written to Xanaroth, but I haven’t received a reply yet. He might be there now, studying all of the new kinds of demons. Then again, he’s not very good at portals either.

I know I should talk it over with Xyliah, but it’s hard to tell what she’s really thinking sometimes. I think she says things because it’s what I want to hear – or what she thinks I want to hear. It could be just the thing we need, though. Ancient elven artifacts… I can hear the coins jangling just thinking about it.

[Story] Treasure Hunting

The trip hadn’t gone exactly as Berwick had hoped. Yes, they’d found a few small things of value, but nothing really great, nothing that would provide that push they needed to get back onto their feet. And the rain hadn’t helped, either. Besides being cold and uncomfortable, it made the ground muddy and soggy and harder to see anything hidden there. Most of the ruins here had been well picked over, at least the ones closer to outposts. Berwick was convinced there still had to be some left in the more remote places, tangled by the dense forest. According to maps he’d seen, there had once been expansive cities here, with structures hidden under ground. If they could find one of those, they could surely find something hidden away. To complicate things, there were ogres, too. They were dangerous, but not very smart. Berwick didn’t think it would be difficult at all to slip past them with some kind of distraction. And they may have discouraged other explorers, too.

He’d saved up a little, but it wasn’t enough. He wanted to get a house somewhere, their own house that didn’t really belong to someone else. For now it would just be a home base, a place to organize, clean, and store things until they were able to be sold. That would be the first step to rebuilding what had been lost, and Berwick was certain he’d feel more normal if he had that. He and Xyliah had talked about where they wanted to live, but as before she hadn’t been very specific. She just said it didn’t matter, which he knew wasn’t really true. Then she admitted that she wanted to be close to her family, which meant close to Silvermoon. He understood, but that didn’t make it any easier. He hadn’t returned there for decades, and there was good reason. He didn’t want to see the sneers on the rich peoples’ faces when they saw him, hear the names they’d call him. Xyliah didn’t understand, thankfully, what it was like. He was glad of that, but he felt guilty keeping her from them. Maybe somewhere in the Ghostlands, near Hethurin’s school. It seemed silly to return since they’d already left, but it did make sense. Property was cheap there, and there were a lot of people they knew. If they wanted to set up a museum, it was only a short flight away from the city. Anyone willing to travel out to the Ghostlands to see a museum hopefully wouldn’t care that its co-owner was a former rat from the Row. Maybe they could even provide a dragonhawk service. They’d need to build a large enough stable to house them. Berwick was sure Xyliah wouldn’t allow Thalien and Carras to fly strangers, so they’d need a couple more. That would cost money too.

He knew it wouldn’t be easy, but he also thought he’d be further ahead by now. How many years had it been? His body had recovered from the ordeal, but he wasn’t sure about the rest of him. Some nights he still awoke thinking he was back in the dark cell, that their rescue and everything since had just been the dream, that he would die there forgotten. He had to be patient, he reminded himself. It had taken years to build what he had before, and it would take years to replace it. And this time he had Xyliah to help him.

[Story] Berwick’s Notes

Thalien is alive. I don’t know how it’s possible, but Xyliah is so sure that it’s him. It definitely looks like him, and it acts like him, but how could he have survived? How did he find us here after all of this time? I know I should believe what’s in front of me, but it all seems so impossible. Xyliah believes it’s him, and she’s really happy, so I shouldn’t question it. She hasn’t let him leave her sight since she saw him. There are some injuries, nothing too serious, and she’s tending to them. The stablemaster patched him up initially. I’ve been getting fruit and things from the school for him to eat, he still likes those although I would guess probably all dragonhawks do. I want to talk to him, to ask what happened, but of course he can’t tell us. I spent so long feeling responsible for his death that now he’s alive I’m not certain how to feel. I mean, it’s a relief of course, but it’s also confusing. If he is alive, how was I still captured? I’m not blaming him — or Xyliah — but I don’t understand.

The nights are getting cold here now, there’s frost on the ground in the mornings. I’d rather move into one of the houses but Xyliah wants to stay near Thalien in the loft. I don’t see why he can’t stay inside the house, but I know better than to argue. Besides, it’s not so bad with all the blankets, and it’s an excuse to stay close together. I keep thinking of warm places; Stranglethorn or Tanaris. Maybe even back to Pandaria, there were so many places there we never got to. We’ll have to wait until Thalien is mended, of course, and I wonder what we’ll do with two dragonhawks. I was worried that Caras might feel jealous, but he seems merely curious about the new arrival. I made sure to give him some fruit too, so he didn’t feel left out.

Tik told me that Hethurin is back, but that we’d have to wait to see him until he was feeling better. Maybe he was the one who found Thalien? That wouldn’t explain how he was injured though, Thalien would never hurt anyone unless he felt threatened. I guess the answers will have to wait a bit longer. Maybe it’s wrong of me, but I can’t help but feel a little jealous if Hethurin is the one who found him. The way Xyliah’s face lit up when she saw him alive… I wish it could have been me who did that.

[Story] Berwick’s Notes

I didn’t realize it had been so long since I wrote in this book. Flipping back a few pages, I see that I write that every time. I can’t say that it’s hard to find the time, because we’re not really doing anything here other than hunting. Xyliah is getting skins for her father. Seeing as there aren’t many animals here, that doesn’t take up too much time. And I have a lot of things on my mind, I guess I just haven’t wanted to write them down. Mostly it’s the same as before. I want to start looking for things to sell again, get the business up and running. It’s just discouraging because I lost all of my gold, and all of my maps and notes, and I don’t have any place to store things that we do find until I can sell them. It’s like I’m starting all over again. I did it once, right? It should be possible to do it again. But I’m older and it seems more daunting this time around, maybe because I know I can fail. Before I never really gave it much thought. It seems like Xy is still uncertain about what she wants too, and I don’t want to force her into anything she doesn’t want. Like she doesn’t know where she wants to live eventually, or if she even wants a house at all. I brought up working in her father’s shop again and she seemed to like that idea — I don’t especially. I mean, her father is fine, just working in a shop and dealing with customers really isn’t what I pictured myself doing. I could do it, I did right after I got out of Dalaran, but do I really want to? No. She changed her mind as soon as she saw that I wasn’t too happy about the idea. I wish she’d just tell me what she wants instead of changing it. Even if it’s bad, it wouldn’t matter.

The other big news is that Hethurin got married. It’s the guy that’s been working at the school, he is pretty young but they definitely seem to love each other so I think it’ll be good. I’m happy for him, he deserves it after everything he’s been through. I didn’t get much chance to talk to them but I guess he helps around the school and does the baking. He made the cake for the wedding himself, it was really good. I asked Xy if it was weird seeing him get married, but she said it wasn’t. I would have thought it would be, at least a little, but I don’t know. Then she said she was glad that we’d been in Dalaran. She meant because otherwise we wouldn’t have met, which I guess is probably true. Though I could have met her somewhere else too. Maybe somewhere else I wouldn’t have been locked up in a cage for weeks, I don’t know. It just seemed like a weird thing to say and all of those feelings of guilt came back. About Thalien, about the people who didn’t get out. Why would she say that?

I guess the plan will be to start looking for things once the weather is good, except we’re coming up onto the fall and winter, so we can’t go now. I can use the time to start re-drawing all of my maps, and looking for leads in the books here. I’m sure Hethurin can make me a portal into the city if I need one, though I’m not sure if they actually have more books there or not.

[Story] Berwick’s Journal

I can’t remember the last time I wrote in here. I’m not very good at keeping a journal, I guess. It’s not like I’ve had much opportunity to either, since we’ve been staying in a tent all winter. On the grounds of Hethurin’s school, which is admittedly a little weird. On nights when it was really cold, we’d stay inside, but that was even more weird. I know she doesn’t have any attachment to him or anything, but it still feels a little strange. Now that it’s starting to warm again, I’ve been thinking about what we should do. There is a lot of work here, I know the builders that have been working on the school are in demand. I haven’t built things before, but I am sure I could do it. Then I thought Xyliah might be interested in helping with the rangers, I know she’s got experience with that and they need people.

But when I tried to talk to her about it, she wouldn’t say what she actually wants. She just kept saying that whatever I want is fine, but it’s not. I want her to be happy and taken care of, I promised that I would do that and living in a tent on her ex-husband’s lawn isn’t really doing it. Xyliah did say that she wanted to go out to look for things again, but I’ve been away from it for so long that I’m not even sure I can anymore. I don’t have the maps or contacts, what if everything has already been found? I lost all of my maps when we had to leave Dalaran, I’d have to go into Silvermoon to the library there to start again. I remember some of them, but not all. And I miss having our own place to come back to, a home base of sorts. I like the trips, but I also like the feeling of coming home for a while. It’s also useful to have a place to store all of the things that you find until you can find a buyer, which can sometimes take a while. Xyliah wasn’t much help there, either, she says she doesn’t know where she wants to live. I guess here would be all right, she wants to be near Yara so she can make sure she’s okay. She’s upset with the rangers though, because the captain married Vessen’s wife too soon. Maybe it was a little fast, but I’m not in her situation so I don’t know. I do know that if I’d died, I would want Xyliah to find somebody else. That’s something I thought about a lot when I was in Dalaran. So maybe it’s the same for Vessen, I don’t really know.

The little house on the beach in Pandaria was nice. Maybe we could find something like that, except it’s not nearly as warm here in the Ghostlands. And the beach would probably be filled with murlocs. I guess a regular house would be better. I’d like it to have a barn, so we could store things, and it should be at least a little fancy. Xyliah says she doesn’t want a fancy house but I think she should at least have a nice one.

[Story] Berwick’s Notes

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I wrote anything like this. I found a blank book on the shelf in our room, and I hope Hethurin won’t be upset that I took it. I’ll leave him some money for it when we leave, if he wants. We’re staying at the school — actually I should back up. First we went to visit with Xyliah’s father. Her sister is there too, she’s doing a lot better but she hasn’t gone back to Desolace. I don’t blame her. They’re doing as well as they can, given the situation, but I know they’re probably hiding a lot of it. I know Xyliah is. She puts up a stoic front so no one can tell how hurt she is, but little glimpses get through, especially when we’re alone. I feel so helpless, I wish there were something I could do to help. Hearing about Nessna didn’t really help, Xyliah definitely had an opinion about that. She’s joined up with the rangers here and already living with their captain, Xyliah’s father said they are getting married soon. I don’t know how she could do that. It’s not something I ever thought about, nor do I want to. I know Xyliah must have, when I was in Dalaran. So she has a better idea of what Nessna must be feeling right now. Xyliah said she couldn’t do that, and I don’t think I could either. I also wonder if Nessna has told the guy everything, maybe he doesn’t know Vessen is dead.

We came to the school for dinner, and because Xyliah’s father’s house isn’t really very big (or private). I almost thought it was the wrong place at first, it’s changed so much since we were here. It looks like rich people live here, like there’s a huge statue of a dragon out in front. But I recognized the fence, because that’s one of the things I helped work on. Finally Des came to the door (I guess Tik was busy?) and we went in. It was good to see her and Hethurin again. The school is going well, which is great news. I’m glad that I could help it get started. And Hethurin says he has a new boyfriend, but we didn’t get to meet him. It was funny I was trying to get him to talk about how they met and stuff and Hethurin just kept talking about how he makes cakes and works in the garden. Aeramin is even working there as a magic instructor on some days. I’m glad everything seems to be going well for him, and he’s feeling better. Hethurin also mentioned the rangers, those would be the ones that Nessna is with. Xyliah admitted she really didn’t want to see her, but she does want to see Rylad. I think it’s kind of inevitable. I asked if she might want to stay here for a while, it’s not the city and there are a lot of places we could stay. We could even camp on the school grounds if we need to, the weather is still warm enough. I guess we haven’t really talked about where to go now, it would be nice to at least have a place to call home when we get back from trips. I feel good enough to go on some now, I still have to sell the things we found in Pandaria but that won’t last forever. Eventually we’ll need to find more, and I have a feeling that Xyliah wouldn’t like staying in one place for too long. I know I don’t. Though I’ll admit, I wouldn’t mind staying here for a bit. The room is really fancy — it’s great to have a soft comfortable bed after our cots — and the food is amazing. Hethurin was right about the cake, too.

[Story] The Letter

Berwick walked barefoot along the wet sandy beach, a bucket in one hand and a sturdy stick in the other. He was looking for the tell-tale little holes that squirted up water — a sign that a clam was hiding in the sand below. If he gathered enough, they could dig a pit in the sand and bake them for supper. Xyliah had gone out onto the rocks to catch fish. Normally he would have gone with her, but sometimes he had some extra thinking to do, and today was one of those days. As much as he wished it, the warm sun and clear blue ocean hadn’t entirely washed away the memories of those dark weeks in Dalaran. The memories tended to sneak up on him when he was least expecting it, as they had this morning. Today he wondered what had become of the others held in those cells – those who hadn’t been rescued, and the one who’d been his neighbor. Was he doing all right now? Or did the same thoughts still haunt him? He also remembered the way that Xyliah had hesitated that first night after they were reunited. She’d said it was because he needed a bath, but it still bothered him at times. It lodged into his thoughts and stayed there, like a little bit of food caught between your teeth that you can’t quite get loose.

The tide was out, and he’d gathered a few clams already. You had to move very quickly — they could submerge themselves in the wet sand surprisingly fast. And Berwick figured that they could sense the vibrations of his footsteps, no matter how lightly he tried to walk. Digging required careful skill too, otherwise the shell could be broken and then the clam wouldn’t steam properly in the fire. The strategy was to dig just underneath where you thought the clam would actually be. Berwick had crouched down, flipping the wet sand up onto the beach and searching through it for the clam when he noticed someone approaching from the shore. It was one of the bears — nothing too strange about that, but it was unusual to see visitors here on their part of the beach. He carefully dropped the clam into the bucket with the others, and rinsed the sand from his hands in the surf.

“Oh, hello,” said the bear, shading his eyes from the sun with a paw. “I hope I’ve not disturbed you.” The bear glanced curiously at the bucket on the sand, but didn’t ask about it. “Are you Xyliah Amberlight?”

Berwick smiled and shook his head. It wasn’t the first time he’d been asked. He supposed they couldn’t tell their names apart very well, which was understandable. He couldn’t tell a male bear’s name from a female’s either. “No, but she lives there,” he said, gesturing toward their little house.

Perhaps realizing his mistake, the bear seemed a little flustered, but took a thick packet of folded papers out from his pack. “You must be Berwick then. These are for you, and her. They were sent to the shrine. You really should have come to get them.”

He could see they were letters — quite a few of them, actually. They looked to have had quite the journey to get here. Most were smudged with dirt, or the corners were bent and crumpled, and a few had been rained on. “Yeah,” Berwick said, scratching an ear. “We should have. I’m sorry for the trouble.”

“It’s no trouble at all,” said the bear, tying his hat back onto his head. “But you might want to tell them you aren’t there anymore. You know, in case it’s urgent.”

Berwick nodded. “Yes, I will. Thank you.” He watched the bear turn and make his way back up the beach, then took a seat on a log of driftwood. He untied the string holding the bundle of letters. They -had- been away a long time, he realized, looking at the dates written at the top of each one. Almost all of them were from his mother, the tone of the letters growing gradually more frantic as she didn’t receive an answer from him. By this point, she’d probably called for a search party. He put those into one pile. He’d be sure to write one back to her tonight. A few were from business contacts, requesting some item or another from Pandaria. These he put into a separate pile. He knew it was time they started hunting again, though he was reluctant to leave their quiet existence on the beach. Still, they’d need money for when they went back, whenever and wherever that happened to be. Berwick paused, looking over one letter. It was from Xyliah’s father, and addressed to her. It didn’t look as old as most of the others, and it was very short. He started to put it into a third pile, but curiosity nagged at him. Surely she wouldn’t mind if he peeked, right? Maybe it was important news. People didn’t usually write short letters unless it was urgent.

It was important, all right. He felt his heart drop as he read it. They’d heard rumors about something happening in Kalimdor, but neither of them really believed it was very serious. But they’d sent elves to fight, and Xyliah’s brother had lost his life. It just wasn’t fair. Hadn’t she already been through enough? Berwick looked at the letter again, the dark letters stark against the page. He couldn’t just get rid of it, and pretend it didn’t happen. She’d find out later from her father, and then she’d be furious at him for trying to hide it. But he couldn’t imagine how he’d find the words to tell her. Everything had been going all right, at least since they’d left Dalaran. They had a little baby, too. What had become of him? Further along the beach, he saw the tiny figure of Xyliah making her way back toward the house. She must have already caught some fish. Sighing, Berwick gathered up the letters and his bucket of clams, and went to meet her.