The man glared at him, one hand upon the door, one aged hand held behind him, keeping his equally elderly wife at a distance.
Van blew a long breath out through his nose, opening his mouth to speak slowly, considering his words. He didn’t take overlong.
“I know.” He said simply, his voice hollow. “But it’s that time.”
The old man regarded him slowly, his neck craned up to look at the towering mage. He glared at him.
“Fine.” There was bitterness in his voice as he pulled the door open, venom in equal measure was writ upon the face of the woman as Van strode past the threshold, causing the floor to creak with each step.
“Where’s your Stormwind uniform?” The man grunted after a moment, leading the General through the narrow and aged halls.
Van was attired in the barebones of Dalarani armor. The chain mail rustled softly as he moved. “I’m with Dalaran, sir.” He said simply, he had told him several times before each year, and the year before that. He never remembered.
“Oh.” The same grunt, the same path through the house to the backyard. It was all he said. “What did he bring him this time?” He had asked this question just as many times.
Van looked down to the bottle in his hand, held almost to his side. “His favorite.”
They reached the back door, a small wooden thing that creates open to the small plot of land on the edge of Westfall. “Good.” He pushed it open, looking back to Van. “You know where he is.”
Van said nothing more, and strode heavily past him, taking care not to brush past the wizened man with his bulk. His stride carried him out into the midday sun. Van squinted at the change in light, his magic attuning to the temperature to keep the heat back from his face. The air about him shimmered as his gaze fell upon the pale slab of stone at the far end of the plot.
He strode slowly over to the stone, feeling the gaze of the elder upon his back as he did so. “Hey John.” Van said softly, stopping before the stone, kneeling down, placing one hand on it. “Happy birthday.” He set the bottle down on the hard packed dirt. Arcane magic crackled about the glass, and it sunk inches down into the dirt, as if it had been there for years.
He was quiet a moment, then stood up, looking down at the bottle. He turned around to walk back to the house, and saw the man standing there, slightly hunched, as Van knew he would be. He always was.
“You’ll be leaving now?” “Yes, sir.” Van nodded. “Good.” He tilted his head away. “And don’t come back.” Van nodded and began to walk away. He said that every year. Van walked past him, his form shimmering, and he vanished.
The words that chased the statement, spoken in the cool evening of Dalaran, were no happier.
"Now get the fuck away from my house and my children before I finish with you what Menethil started."
Nathedril Shadesong, a ren'dorei of fine clothes, easy smiles, and poor luck, seemed shell shocked at the absolutely icy reception he'd gotten after calling on his cousin, Olivaxi Coen née Shadesong, after many years of separation. Calling the statement a frigid response to his looking for help settling into the city was underselling how cold his quel'dorei cousin's face had turned in the moments after recognition had replaced the mildly disdainful look he'd first received after she answered his knocking, and as the short woman went to close the door on him and on one of his last hopes in reconnecting with his past, he caught the narrowing gap with his foot.
"Cous, I know we didn't part on good terms but this is a bit mu-"
If Oliviaxi was cold before, now she'd turned the corner to blistering heat as she grabbed the overly ornate and flashy lapels of the ren'dorei merchant and hissed at him, "Not parting on good terms is you breaking some dishes or making a mess on your way out of the house, what you did was far worse, and the day I forgive you and that bitch sister of yours is the day I keel over and die, so fuck off!"
The family temper seemed to flare up in the otherwise affable ren'dorei as he shot back, "What could I have done differently Vi? Uncle Sepiran only cared enough about you to be arsed to do anything, and then he took you and left! My sister told me you were both dead to us, and our parents were dead, so should I have told her no? Argued and gotten the beating you know that would have earned me? I get that you have a hang-up about the Fall but this is ridiculous!"
The red flush of rage the stained Oli's cheeks burned deeper and she nearly shook in place as she started yelling, "You sat and watched as we were sent to die, how do you think I'd respond to any of you fucking traitors?!?!"
The ren'dorei, however, was no better at composing himself in the face of this scorn. As he laughed a sharp and bitter laughter, he spat harsh and poisonous words, "I was a child! I may as well have been one of your spawn for all the control I had over anything then! I'd have thought that motherhood would have given you some perspective, but you'd have carved your own blood out of your life to sooth the chip on your shoulder, wouldn't you?"
The wordless snarl of anger that followed was cut off, as the sound of two squealing infants crying for something or other drowned out whatever bile would have been spat at one by the other. Oliviaxi and Nathedril Shadesong stared at each other across a wasteland filled with the ashes of bitter regrets, and of Quel'thalas.
"You are not welcome here" ... "You are not welcome." ... "You are not."
Each wave of the echo dwindled, lost somewhere in the cave.
"You are.. "
.. and then, there was silence again. She wondered if the events had actually happened. The searing pain in her right arm, confirmed it. Yes. She did just fail a magical puzzle. It had been easy at first. Follow the leader. Blue had meant frost. Red had meant fire. She had even celebrated when she figured out to combine arcane and fire for the last answer, apparently fire and frost was not the answer to the last one.
A wave of nausea coursed over her before the voice boomed again.
"YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE!"
It sounded angry this time, causing her head to pound.
"YOU ARE NOT WELCOME."
With a groan she manages to get up from the cave floor. Why had she been on the floor? Even memories of the puzzle were fading fast. She'd failed. That's all there is to it. Consequences of failure, where magic was concerned, where usually quite dire.
"YOU ARE NOT."
The nausea hit her again as her steps stumbled towards a light, she hoped it was the exit to the cave. She wasn't welcome. She got the message. If it would just shut up so she could get out, that would be lovely.
The sudden rush of Dalaran swept over her just as the last word vanished.
The looks she got was.. there is no word for it. She just crawled out of a cave.. no. Did she really just step out of the sewer? What had she been doing down >there<, of all places? Moreover, why did her head pound? She had no clue. She got the distinct feeling that she'd failed at something, but for the life of her, she couldn't remember what.