Friday, September 3, 2010

The Scene of The Crime

Abigora picked through the burned out husk that was once a home.  The Plaguelands had all but swallowed the residence that she knew well from her childhood.  She could remember late nights spent with her foreign friend. She could remember when the trees around here weren't yellowed and sickly.  That was before the scourge had taken hold.  That was before Arthas had betrayed them.

The Priest nudged open the half rotted wooden door that hung at an odd angle across the entryway.  She wasn't exactly sure she was going to find what she was looking for, but she had a hunch.  A thick layer of grime covered everything.  Orange, evening light glinted off the broken windows and cast a jaundiced glow around the room.  The furniture was overturned, rotted, or broken.  The place had the look of one that had been ransacked and still found wanting.  Cobwebs dominated the high corners, and dust mites swam through the air. 

There was nothing particularly special about this house.  It was one of many evidences of loss that could be found throughout the Plaguelands.  Yet Abigora remembered who had lived here, the family that made the abode into something more than just a collection of assembled timber.  The family that had taken her in when she was so far from home.

As was habit for the priestly scholar, Abigora immediately headed for the bookcase.  Miraculously, it was still mostly in tact, though the wood had seen better days.  It stood against the wall beside a chair that had become little more than a mass of mold.  Her big eyes scanned the shelves.  Any books that had been there had long since been looted and sold, but there were a few places where Abigora remembered photographs had been displayed.  Curiously, there was no sign of these.

She examined the shelf more closely.  It was hard to tell in the fading light, but she thought the dust looked thinner where the pictures would have been, as if someone had returned years later to retrieve them.  She stepped back and headed for one of the back rooms, kicking up dust along the way and causing the wood to creak mournfully.

Opening the door to what she remembered as the elder's room, she found it in my the same state of decay as the rest of the house.  There was a broken bed, a shattered mirror, and a rotten dresser.  Hardly a surprise.  The wall, however, evidenced discoloring where things had once been hung.  Abigora couldn't imagine a looter being interested in family photos.

She shut the door quietly and cross the hall to her childhood friend's room.  Of all the doors in the house, this one seemed to be of best repair.  It was also shut and locked.  Abigora muttered a spell and a faint light shone from the cracks between the door.  The mechanism clicked open.

The Light can open many doors, Abigora, she recalled the line from one of her teachers at the academy.  Most priests didn't learn the spell she'd just used on the lock, but Abigora had found this one buried deep in an ancient tome.  When asked, her teacher hadn't disproved of her intent to learn the spell.  Then again, the rumor had been that said teacher was bedding a Rogue.  Abigora had never seen the draw, herself.  Rogues were so... creepy.

She was surprised when the door opened quietly with none of the expected creaking from aging hinges.  Even more surprising was the interior of the room.  Unlike the rest of the house, it seemed that decay had not found purchase here yet.  The bed, the dresser, even the drapes were just as Abigora recalled from many a sleepover.  How could this be?

Abigora spun in wonder, drinking in the room.  For a moment, she forgot she was standing in a ruined house, and thought she could almost hear her friend's bubbly laughter as they told scary stories before bed.  It seemed that the Light had kept this room.

Her spin stopped abruptly when she noticed the silhouette in the doorway.  She froze, hand reflexively going for her knife.  The large figure was backlit by the slanting rays of the sun.  What was more, some of the light seemed to filter through... holes... in the otherwise solid shadow.  Tattered rags hung from from the frame of the individual, shifting menacingly in the mostly still air.

"Who are you?" a voice rasped.

Abigora took a hesitant step forward.  There was something familiar about that voice, distorted though it was.

"Stay way you are," the shadow ordered.  "Come no closer.  What are you doing in here?"

Abigora held one of her hands up to try and shield light, hoping to get a better view.  It didn't help much.  Her mind skittered away, so she uttered the first that that popped in, an answer to his question.  "The bookcase..." she trailed off, pointing back toward the living area.  It wasn't a good answer.

The figure shifted uncertainly for a moment, then took a step into the room.  "Abigora?" he tried.

Abigora gasped.  It was exactly who she thought it was, but how could that be?

"Mr. Brightrune?" she asked.

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