There wasn’t anything peculiar about the night before. Naevia had been dismissed more or less at her regular time. The Lorekeeper, although rather taciturn of late, had seemed well. She ate voraciously and wrote even moreso. Naevia didn’t enquire as to the subject matter, for Dralosa often got swept away irrevocably by the flow of the pen on parchment. When she closed the door, the older woman was hunched over her desk by lamplight, still frantically writing.
Naevia more or less expected to open the door in the morning to find that Dralosa had traversed the six or so feet to her warmly made up bed.
More or less.
When she did in fact open the door, the sight that greeted her caused her to yelp involuntarily. The stunned young handmaiden whirled around, dizzy, her peripheral vision swallowed by panic. “Help! HELP!” she screamed. She raced outside onto the concourse of the Rise gardens. “HELP!” she bellowed. Two Aldor Vindicators wandering by had noticed her frantic shrieking and jogged over. One grabbed her by the wrist.
“Calm yourself, girl. What is the matter?”
Naevia shook her head. “I don’t, I-” She turned towards their quarters, her lips trembling. The pair had inferred enough. Before Naevia could turn once more to face either of them, they had started in the direction of where her gaze fell. Her wrists hung, limp. All of her felt limp. Even the gentle breeze would have been enough to pick her up and carry her away now.
A stretcher was called, with several Anchorites in tow. ‘What did you see?’ they all asked. Naevia mumbled.
‘”She never made it.”
“Made it where, child?”
“Bed. There she was. On the floor.”
“What was in her glass?”
“I… I don’t know… she did not ask me for a drink before bedtime.”
The two Vindicators shot one another a look. Naevia gently nudged past them to stand on the edge of her hooves and watch, as horrified as she was. The Lorekeeper lay on the stretcher. The Anchorites had, out of kindness, washed the stain of whatever she had imbibed from her face, giving the lifeless woman a last bit of dignity.
“There is a way.” spoke the oldest of the Anchorites, a ruddy, round faced man.
Naevia broke through halted, choking breaths. “How?”
“Go to the Exodar.”
He nodded. “Stasis is the only way. For now. There is a chance, and their facilities are best. But we must hurry. As her listed next, you must give the consent.”
“Anything. Please! She is all I… she is all I have.”
The man sighed deeply. He knew she was right. It left bitter questions in his mind, but he thought better than to press Naevia for answers.
They wasted no time. The Lorekeeper left Shattrath City, carried by a small procession of Anchorites. The mechanized stretcher hummed eerily above the gentle cacophony of prayers. The incense that they burned along the journey caused Naevia’s nose to twitch. She didn’t understand their whispers, or the prayers that she had not heard before, nor the strange garments that they wore in lieu of their ordinary vestments. They wore colours that bore a significance she failed to grasp.
Upon arrival in the Exodar, they were ushered away to a private cell. It was cold and clinical at best, and almost certainly a mausoleum at worst. Naevia began to cry again, but an Anchorite who could very well have been even younger than she was placed an arm around Naevia’s shoulder and squeezed her deftly. “It happens, sister. It is unusual, but, it happens.” Too numb to reply, Naevia merely croaked an acknowledgement that she heard the words and watched, the men and women whirling past her. They had lifted Dralosa into a stasis pod and were attaching various objects to her.
The round faced man approached Naevia. “Before we close it, you should say goodbye.”
“How long?” Naevia whispered. She didn’t even want to ask, but felt compelled to do so.
The man shrugged gently. “A decade. A milennia. Twenty milennia. I cannot say. We won’t know until we find out what happened.” He put his hand on Naevia’s shoulder. “You’ll see her again, but perhaps not in this life.”
Naevia cupped her hand over her mouth to stop herself from choking in disbelief. After a few moments, she had collected what courage she could. Inhaling deeply, she stepped closer to the edge of the stasis pod. Dralosa, her guardian, teacher, mother figure and Lorekeeper, looked dreamlike. They had neatly arranged her white hair around her face and down over her arms. She was dressed in a simple, pearl coloured robe. Her hands were clasped together over her stomach. Her son’s diadem shone with a deceptive effulgence on her wrist.
Naevia leaned in and kissed Dralosa’s artificially warmed lips, and whispered. “Don’t leave me. Please.” Dralosa’s calm and pleasantly arranged physiognomy belied the violent solitude of her death. Naevia buried her face in the still woman’s bosom and begged. “No… Please…” Two nearby Vindicators rushed forward and gently, but authoritatively, took hold of Naevia and eased her off the pod. It sealed shut within moments.
A beautiful glow filled the room, and the pod lit up like a beacon. It startled even the Vindicators. But Naevia stood in awe, her eyes soldered to the pod, cognizant now that she was witnessing something beautiful happen, and may never see again:
A soul finding peace.