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Family Matters

Lirriel's picture

((Technically happened two months ago, but it's been a bear to write. I have plot ideas though that may use this as background, so up it goes regardless.))

Alynore made the climb from the bustle of Lower City to Kamron’s apartment. A group of skinny brown orc youths paused their guttural conversation to watch the human woman as she stopped at the old soldier’s door. She knocked, counting the seconds to an answer.

It took a full minute to get the squeak of the little window, followed by the door opening. “Come in,” Kamron rasped. “Grab us some beer.”

Nore closed the door and stepped over to the tiny kitchen, finding a pair of clean mugs in the drain board over the sink. She tapped the keg—smelled draenic this time, thank the Light—and carried them over to the small table where Kamron sat.

“To what do I owe the pleasure?” He asked, taking his mug in his good hand.

“I can’t just drop by for a visit?” She pulled the padded footstool nearer and sat on it.

“There’s a war on, last I heard. Or did you all kick his ass back to Garadar, actually putting you in the neighborhood?”

“Not quite, but getting there,” she answered. Nore took a drink; the aftertaste was almost too sweet. “So I understand Llane Venner came to talk to you.”

“He did. We talked. Nice kid; bit dramatic, though.”

“He’s a writer,” Nore said with a shrug.

“Uh-huh. He find what he was looking for?” Kamron watched her over the rim of his mug.

“He thinks Zachariah Mallorey was my father. No way to tell for sure without gross magic tests. Close enough, I guess.”

Kamron grunted. “Think it’s most likely myself. You mad about the meddling?”

“Nah. Was surprised, definitely. It’s good to know.” Nore sipped the almost-sweet beer. “Besides, I just get even.”

Kamron raised a bushy, greying brow and drank more.

“How come you still live here, Kam?” Nore gestured at the tiny apartment. “World’s falling apart. Literally.”

“Douglas hates moving,” he said, flicking a finger toward the bookshelf under the window, where his lizard was sunning itself. “’Sides, nothing to go home to. Darrowshire’s long gone.”

“But you never checked for your—“

“Of course I did!” The rasp of his damaged throat pronounced his snarl. “No records.” Kamron’s eyes narrowed. “What’d you do?”

“Sent Venner on another hunt. You’re right; there are no records of the Marcus family after the Portal and the fall of Lordaeron.”

Kamron finished his beer, scowling at the young paladin. He stood, left arm hanging uselessly as he crossed the small room. Nore’s next words made him stop.

“They became the Dashren family.”

He turned. “As in Will Dashren?”

Nore nodded. “About two years after the Portal closed—and everyone thought the Expedition dead—Marai married him. He adopted your children. Then they moved…to Strathholme.”

Kamron leaned on the cooler. “Then they must be dead. I heard the stories…”

Alynore stared into her beer. “They weren’t in the city proper. Marai, Vyra, and Bella were…’committed to the Light’ by the damned Scarlet Crusade, after the fact.”

Kamron’s hands shook as he turned to open the cooler and tap the keg again. “My girls…I never even saw the youngest, y’know. She was born while we were on the march, I only got the letter.” He looked at Nore. “They never became…they never…?”

“No. That’s the one thing can be said about those zealous maniacs, anyway.”

He nodded, focusing on his filling mug. “You didn’t mention…d’you know about my boy?”

“Jeck was on a business trip with his fa—adopted father. They ended up in a Silver Hand enclave, and both joined the Argent Dawn. Now they’re Argent Crusaders, helping reclaim the Plaguelands.”

The beer poured over. Kamron scrambled to set the mug down and shut off the tap with his good hand. “He’s…Jeck’s alive?”

“He goes by Jeck Dashren these days—well, Jeck Marcus-Dashren, formally on his paperwork. He’s a soldier and alchemist for the Crusade. He…was surprised to hear you were alive.”

“You’ve met him? What’d you tell him?” Kamron demanded, stalking back to the table, beer forgotten.

She stayed seated, looking up at him. “Just the truth,” she said. “Who I am, what happened to the Expedition, and where you are now. I told him about Ma, and your injuries. He took it pretty well, really. Hard to phase a Lordaeron man these days.”

Kamron stared down at her for another moment, and then slumped into his chair again. “Shoulda looked myself, not through proxies. Shoulda looked harder. I figured Marai mighta remarried, but didn’t figure the kids’ names would change.”

“They needed a father. I can understand that,” Nore said. “Dashren seemed like a good one, from what I saw. Did you know him?”

“Sort of; never had much need for his business. Can’t recall ever hearing bad about him. Light, I haven’t thought of him since we left home.”

They sat in silence for a time, Kamron’s old clock slowly ticking through the seconds, the conversations and laughter of the orc boys on the stairs outside rising and falling. She let Kamron think.

The old soldier finally looked up. “Does he…will he…”

“I think he’s willing to meet you. He was shocked, but not angry. Not then, anyway.”

Kamron nodded and fell silent again. He stood and crossed to the bookshelf, fishing some bugs from a jar that served double-duty as a bookend. Nore watched as he fed Douglas, the lizard’s tongue flicking happily. When the insects were gone, Douglas climbed Kamron’s good arm, curling his tail around the back of the man’s neck to support himself as he settled on Kamron’s broad left shoulder. Kamron reached his right hand up and scratched the lizard’s chin.

“I loved your mother,” Kamron finally said, ruined voice so low that it was difficult to hear. “It tore me to pieces for years.”

“I know,” Nore said.

“Logically, I knew my family thought I was dead. I knew I would never see them again. But I’d see Elsie and I just…It felt wrong. I’d see you and think about the baby I never met, wonder about her. I was cruel to Elsie at times, cuz of it.”

“Never to me. And you gave in eventually.”

“Your mother was a spitfire, and stubborner than you. She didn’t give me much choice.” He smiled, facing the window, not seeing what was really past the pane. “I should have given in sooner, maybe, been with her longer. Woulda spared you some pain too, I think. It just took me that long to not feel like I was betraying Marai.”

Nore rose and walked up behind Kamron to wrap her arms around him, resting her head against his unoccupied shoulder.

“Maybe I should get outta this dump,” he said, idly patting Nore’s gloved hands. “Got an old friend at Northshire Abbey, says they can always use more scribes, and old captains to scare the piss outta the recruits. I could even go drinking with ol’ Hellfire again.”

Nore chuckled, pulling away. “Well, I’ll help best I can.”

“I know. Thanks, Nore. I’ll kill you later.”

She smirked and headed for the door. “I’ll be waiting for it, sir.”

“Where you going?”

“To get us dinner. There’s nothing in your icebox worth eating and I can’t live on bugs.”

“Kids these days, Douglas; no imagination,” Kamron said as Nore rolled her eyes and left.

He watched her through the window. He tried to bring up recollections of Zach Mallorey, but time had left those memories vague. His own wife’s face was hard enough to remember sometimes, and the children were hazy forms—their laughter was what he recalled the most. How much laughing had Jeck done, the last few years?

Kamron smiled, brushing the threatening dampness from his eyes as he sought out his beer and returned to his chair to wait on the girl he had been able to raise.