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[Anatevka] Choices - Memories of Argus

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Sheltered beneath the peaks of Kaarinos, each day flowed into the next as if time itself was a water-jug that had been upturned, its contents spilling across the ground. To this day, I cannot put a number to the weeks and days I spent wandering the cold halls of my grandmother’s fortress. Oh, yes, the annals of history can recount this time with scholar’s precision, but to me, it was long sunrise melting into silent dusk giving way to long sunrise. One endless day, endless week, endless year.

One by one, Eredar of all kinds began showing up at the threshold of Nadja’s home, backs burdened and eyes downcast. I saw farmers, scholars, males, females, young and old ushered in through the frosted gates, fed, clothed and comforted. My grandmother’s servants, once accustomed to tending to her capricious needs, were directed towards the service of these refugees. I suppose, at first, it was a kind of relief: filling a hungry farmer’s belly or soothing a sobbing child gives a far different joy than simply pleasing your mistress - but the demands of the growing throngs of refugees soon threatened to overwhelm these harried servants.

Kostya stepped in then, Kostya with his calm gaze and firm hand. He directed the construction of temporary shelter around the fortress’s courtyard; he gave the strongest refugees resources to care for and feed their own, reserving Nadja’s skilled medics for only the most infirm. Under his watchful eye, the chaotic mass of displaced Eredar soon solidified into a functioning community, bellies satiated, bodies clothed and wounds dressed.

I admired him. Of course, I told myself, how could I not? Little seemed to unnerve him. An openly bleeding laceration, a bawling widow or a wealthy citizen of Mac’aree furiously demanding ‘appropriate treatment’ - all of these were treated with the same easy smile, soft touch on the shoulder and gentle guidance to the appropriate area of the courtyard.

Although, as Nadja’s flesh and blood, I was more than welcome to spend my days comfortably inside the walls of the fortress, most of my time was spent in the courtyard, wrapped in the chilly embrace of Kaarinos. I hovered in the shadows of the walls of my grandmother’s fortress at first, my eyes never leaving Kostya as he oversaw the burgeoning encampment, but as day slid into day, frustration grew within me. Other eredar females clustered around him, twisting their neck tendrils around their fingers and leaning into his every word. How could I be any less than them? I was Honored Nadja’s granddaughter; my father was a renowned scholar at the Collegium and my mother, in her day, a famed beauty. My blood ran clearer than the icey waterfalls trickling down the peaks of Kaarinos.

Of course, I can now see the arrogance that permeated even my youthful heart, the same pride and narcissism that brought down the shining towers of Mac’Aree, albeit, in a more innocent and childish form. In the years shortly following the downfall of Argus, I would awake at night, sopping in sweat, remembering these first days after the Fall - and terrified that the disease that corrupted my people still remained, festering, inside me.

Today, as if recalling those fearful nights, I teach my students that the difference between the Eredar of the Legion and the Draenei started with a choice. And that far off day in Kaarinos, I made my first true choice. I watched those eredar females hover around Kostya, I felt my heart harden towards them - and, fists clenched, I withdrew from the shadows to approach Kostya and his gaggle of followers.

He saw me as I walked towards him and I could see a fine golden eyebrow raise, questioning. The women gathered about him caught his gaze and turned towards me, frowning to see this soft Mac’Aree dweller intruding on their claim.

I gave them a faint smile as I craned my head up towards Kostya. “What can I do?” I said, voice cracking in the frozen afternoon wind. His brow furrowed and he cocked his head, as if not understanding my question. I nodded, cleared my throat and repeated, this time clearly, my voice sure.

“What can I do to help?”