shallowbrook

Survivor.

May no ship ever go down with him at the helm, and should it ever occur, then he was to go down with it.

A promise made when they swore to serve beneath his flag. He had proven his worth with the spill of blood and crack of skulls, but the greater task was to hold their trust. The men and women that banded with the one who called himself Black Jack believed in their new Captain. Together, he led them to their next chapter after the fall of their prior leader. A new name, a new leader, and even a new and bigger ship to expand on their domain. Their story retold, a feared group among the south seas.

How could he predict that a few hundred years later that his reign would end with a fury of wings?

It came with a crash and a bang. The sky parted, the fires came. His wrath sent a shiver down the spine of Azeroth, and with it, the seas ripped with unnatural currents. The wind of his flight filled his sails until some tore into shreds. And the waters churned, and the cries from the burns. No order he could give could stop it. No man nor woman could survive it.

From the distance, they could see their fate; a wave so large that it shadowed them all.

… all he could do was pray their deaths be swift. May sea swallow them whole.

The roar of the dragon who set things in motion was no match for the sickening crash of that colossal wave. A group of sailors who manned the sails was the first ones slapped into the great depths. Down came the foremast as it plunged into the blue, then next the main mast where several clung to the wood. The crack of the hull made the remaining crewman scattered. They clung at the rail, tripped over themselves, and took refuge where they could. Calls for loved one, calls for family. Calls for help and he could not give it. 

Which one was Gabriel? Which one was Tali? Which one was the scream of his daughter, Aestiah?

It was pointless to even try moving the vessel as the sea wanted it to go only one direction. Now the spokes of the wheel served as a grip as the boat began to tilt and finally overturned completely. Their world turned upside down in every sense of the word. The screams he heard from earlier now a garbled noise. Perhaps it was Knives, perhaps it was Shalenor. It didn’t matter, they were all gone in seconds.

He choked.

The sea consumed and brought them down. The endless sky they now fell through and the scatter of bodies consumed by deep blue. Some had struggled, others gave up. Some were already dead as they went down. A sailor who could not swim was a sailor dead. With the strength still left in him, he fought through currents and began to swim. A slow and staggering reach where his lungs nearly failed him. Legs kicked with fury and arms pushed back until at long last he broke the surface with a splash. Yet…

He choked.

Because no matter how much ground he believed he covered, one couldn’t hold their breath forever. And with every suck of air gained he took in a bit of the water.

He choked.

Sea water was disgusting, even more, when it filled his lungs. But he managed to break the surface and now splashed wildly with the surviving others. Some voices he barely knew, others he knew well. The shouts, the screams, and they all called for their Captain. He couldn’t think now of who among them he knew and those he did not. His strength wished him to search, but the ferocity of waves was too great. From what he could see the waters were alive with arms that flailed and struggled. One man gave a final cry before letting himself plunge under.

He choked.

Every coming wave took more with him. Not even the splinter pieces of their ship could keep them floating. More water crept into his nose and mouth. He sputtered and grimaced as he tried to not think of their cries.

He choked until there was nothing. He choked because he could do nothing. He grimaced as he let go of surviving. He choked until there was darkness.

Darkness.

Eyes pierced the darkness of the room as a hand clutched his throat in the belief that he was still choking. A strangled gasp fled his mouth as he panted for air he did not think he had. Sweating, dark swirls of hair clinging to tanned skin. It had been some months since he last had this nightmare. One of the few moments in his life where he showed genuine fear.

Every now and again that memory replayed. A grim reminder of how close he was to his own death. A dark reminder of survivor’s guilt that still existed. Every good Captain must go down with their ship, and yet the fate of the Gods said he would live. The spell from the vengeful witch refused him peace even when he made no attempt. To live for the rest of his days, the curse to never know the rest of death.

Sheets ruffled as he slipped out the bed. Cold wood found the soles of his feet as he meandered aimlessly toward the balcony doors. Dressed in plain black slacks, the chill of midnight felt against the bare skin of his chest and arms. The beads of sweat that coated his forehead dried away into nothing. Black curls unruly and lush fell in dark rivers along his shoulder while the rest fell to the small of his back. The cliffside view of Shallowbrook was often a place of solace. But tonight, the sight of its horizon made him stumble back in fright. Idiot. Why did he come out here? A force of habit when he needed to think. Thankfully, the moment was short lived. It took him but a second to realize he was not on board a ship.

If only the others could see him now. What crew could ever believe him good enough to lead them now? A secret that he kept and one that would remain until his death. That every now and then even he had triggering fears. Not enough to stop him entirely, the man had managed to sail despite this. Yet it was still enough to question his ability to man a ship while under distress. A frown pressed his lips thin as he gazed at the horizon. Then with a turn on his heel, he returned to his room and shut the balcony doors behind him.

His back fell to the doors as he looked back to his empty room. For once, the only sound of breathing came directly from him. In the corner, he could see his armor placed on the rack ready for tomorrow. His belongings neatly packed ready for migration to their next deployment. In a few days’ time, they would embark on their last leg in the Plaguelands. From there, the fate of their homeland rested on if they could defeat the threat of the invading Legion.

A task of leadership assigned by Telchis. All decisions and calls were his to make, and those who followed his lead trusted that he could lead them. That was where the fear was born. It nestled like a seed in the back of his mind and bloomed on the evening of their first battle. That overwhelming fear crushed him whole when tasked to defend Light’s Hope. It felt too familiar and one he could not place. A wave of unwelcome déjà vu until tonight he remembered. That was the reason he could not sleep for days at a time. The reason he closed himself in to regain, not his physical, but mental strength.

Like the wave they watched head to their ship, the numbers that poured from the portals were overwhelming. There was no stopping the swarm that poured through the gates, much like the water that splintered their ship. Again, left to watch as the men and women who swore to his back fell or succumbed to their wounds.

Again, he could do nothing.

It had been several long years since the events that took place at sea that led him to where he was. Several long years later since the chaos brought by the dragon aspect. Where the seas raged a war that no storm could replicate. He could recall it all. The screams, the yells, the call for a plan or route. He could do nothing, give nothing, and was for the first time, not the leader he believed he was.

He had failed them. He might fail again.

For once, the man had no desire to see that fate again. For once, he desired to go down fighting.

If they were to go down once again, he would fight until every man and woman survived … except him.

inspiration music: https://youtu.be/RODEaiUmU3I

Character Profile Meme: Vaelrin Firestorm

Full Name: Vaelrin Firestorm

Other Names: Lord Firestorm, Captain ‘Black Jack’, Captain, Ranger-Captain, Wraith

Universe They Exist In: World of Warcraft

Gender and Sexuality: Cis male, straight but leans towards bi-curious. 

Pronouns: He/Him

Ethnicity/Species: ex-High Elf, Blood Elf

Birthplace and Birthdate: Born in his ancestral home Shallowbrook 950 years ago. I am bad with WoW timelines so subtract that number from whatever period we are in now.

Guilty Pleasures: Liquor, women, cigars, hunting, and sailing.

Phobias: Witchcraft, voodoo, supernatural.

What They Would Be Famous For: He’s famous for the one that got away during a murder investigation/trial. Said to have killed his wife though was framed. It’s the family’s black mark and one that was swept under the rug. Probably famous for being ‘Black Jack’ during his piracy days alongside other known sea terrors. Had a reputation for leaving an Ace and Jack card on any ship that was pillaged as his trademark.

What Have They / Would They Gotten Arrested For: 

Arrested (yet framed) for the murder of Callisto Firestorm and later the actual murderer who got away with the deed. Should be arrested for several centuries of piracy.

OC You Ship Them With: 

I currently like the ship with @retributionpriest Lirelle, but they’re the pairing that will never be since both of them are at odds and they’re both similar in the ‘yeah I don’t like relationships I’m going to run to the hills’. So for the moment their cute awkward yet cuddly friends. I also love (LOVE…LOOOOVE) the great hateship that is @azriah Azriah and the weird-unusual-not-ship-but-this-is-hot-but-rip of @isei-silva  Deyaeus. I ship a lot of crack ships, too. Well not really ship but love to just humor the idea of it. (Vaelrin & Telchis is not one so get out).

He’s a polyamorous character that can be/fall in love with more than one person (as in being in love with the person, not just sex.), so it requires a lot of work and communication when done. While he’s quick to jump in bed with someone, thankfully he takes a million years to fall in love with them, if at all. 

Right now, he’s single and will probably remain that way for a while. We shall see what the future holds for a few months or a year. 

Your Favorite OC Relationships

I am truly digging and in love with the bonding friendship between @dorksworn Caeliri and Vaelrin. The way they became enemies to friends has been a blast to role play (and the player is awesome, too!). It’s been years since I played a good naturally happened friendship RP. I had one for Aestiah but uh …. yeah … not going to go there. There may be one I can build upon with Sederis and Vaelrin eventually. ANYWAY, I also love his relationship with his crew. A group of folks who made a family-type style RP by being members of his crew consisting of @sakialyn , @pyrar , @raserus , and synthiel who I can’t tag. Love the growing friendship and respectable relationship with Esme @jessipalooza and Vaelrin. They’re a favorite yes. I am digging all the up and coming small stories and friendships with Velianor @ocarina-of-what , Eldriana @sparklepriest , Felo’thore @brothersemberfell , Elleynah @stormandozone , Cere’thien @lissanaria , SHADENII OR HIS NEW WARLOCKY NAME @meeshay , and eventually when I get to it A CERTAIN PALADIN’S ROGUE (I can’t find his tumble I will tag him eventually.) Gosh, there’s a lot of story relationships I like. There’s some I’m hoping will happen too, like with any of Felthier’s character and Zalin’s DH. I will just say I love @thesunguardmg .

OC Most Likely To Murder Them:

Azriah. I think I’ve said this before, lmao.  I’m sure there are a few people who want to see him die. Me too, random people. Me too.

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A Friendly Favor

She had not been long for Summerglen when the ruckus began; the foyer was flooded with villagers, and their grief was palpable and sickening. Another three women returned to Summerglen in wooden caskets, and one empty box to bear the burden of a missing body. There was a hum of anger in the air, one she could not quite dispel, no matter what sweet words she offered or reparations were repaid - no coin could cover the cost of a life lost. Unrest ran rampant through the small village, and as her guardsmen tried to regain order and register more meaningful complaints that errant expressions of grief, Caeliri ducked into the Great Hearth, heart hammering hard in her throat. Sickness stirred in her stomach as she crossed the room, and not even the light of her phoenix’s flames rolling against her cheek could silence the upset.

She’s ordered them to war, and they died by her commands - each of them held firm in the onslaught of Light’s Hope, each of them were crushed beneath clamoring hooves or halved by Praetorian polearms. Except for her - she was still here. Why was she still here? What right did she have to return to Summerglen with little more than bumps and bruises, while women with children and husbands and families were now consigned to the damp earth of the graveyard?

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Gilded Sunrise

It was an average sunrise. Beautiful, to be sure, but average. As the sun peered over the mountains, it bathed Embertree in the usual warm, orange glow. The woods themselves resisted in their darkness with their blue light, but Embertree Court embraced the sun. Light filtered through the windows and the cool morning breeze gently tugged at the long, sheer drapes.

In the master suite, gold dust in the shape of footprints trailed from the doorway, halfway to the bathroom, to the balcony, and then finally to the bed. Clothes covered in gold dust lay strewn about the floor, forgotten and unnecessary. The sheets of blue silk had patches of gold dust, and there was no doubt where it had come from.

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Friendly Favors

When alone to his own devices and not exhausted from prior events, the morning was always the easiest to greet for the Ranger-Captain. There was relief in his return to the gallant and opulent halls of Shallowbrook. If distance made the heart grow fonder, then each return was with a deeper appreciation for home. Over the two years since his claim to the seat long abandoned and thought destroyed, he had managed to turn it into something more fitting to him while maintaining the traditional colors and aesthetic of his house.

Today was just another opportunity to greet the rise of the sun with a dance of fingers across ivory and black and music to fill throughout. Once the sun had rose enough to pour light through the windows, it was off to his study to take care of today’s correspondences. Garbed in little more than a ruffled poet shirt and black slacks, the ranger paced about the room to casually appreciate the changes made to his room. 

The painting above the mantle that displayed a once loved now removed. In its place was who rightfully belonged there—Callisto Firestorm in a painted portrait seated in a gown of blue. The room itself had become a bit of a hunter’s haven with mounted deer heads to the wall, bows of various crafts and sizes, and a number of collected possessions acquired in his time as a Farstrider. Of course, there were a few traces of his other life to be found in the room, but those were intentionally blended out of plain sight as such a life was not entirely fitting for a lord of a house.

A glance to his desk showed the various letters received; a mountain of work left for him to tackle until evening. Some just a small note sent by birds, others long scrolls, and a few sealed with various crests and house responses to trade deals and sworn engagements. After taking a seat, he promptly began the usual routine of reading each one as briefly as possible. Just enough to get a vague idea of what was needed before moving on to the next message. It was only when his hands came across a particular letter did he choose to read it more thoroughly.

 It wasn’t hard to acknowledge who wrote it given the familiar penmanship or the scent that came along with it. The details of the letter made him grunt towards the end, surprised and somewhat in awe at the eloquence of her request. A small part of him wondered if Liadove had any part in crafting this letter. If not, then it was a sign that she was growing into her role fluently, either that or she was versed in pretending for pretending’s sake, much like himself.

With a quill fetched and dabbed in black ink, he produced a tan scroll from the side of his desk and began to write out a proper response to her.


Dame Dawnsworn,


It appears that despite our respite, you have decided to take an opportune moment to form ideas and plans. A noble effort on your part to take such an avenue when one could happily use this time to relax and recoup after enduring what we did. I thank you for your kind words regarding my leadership, but I have much to improve upon if I am to make a worthy asset in the battles to come. My experience is merely naval at best, so this role has its fair share of challenges. Nevertheless, we prevailed in the face of devastating odds and showed our strength to the Legion. It is not me that deserves the warm accolades for our victories, but the Oathsworn in their valiant efforts in withstanding the invasion. Even if you were a fool to disregard the order to retreat, I know that your intentions were only to see to it that other men and women could at least live. If not for your efforts, I am sure the casualties sustained would be higher. Do not think I am letting that error go easily, however. I should hope in the future you understand that your role is vital. 

However, that is neither here nor there. This is, after all, a moment to breathe the fresh air untainted by the presence of overpowering fel.

In regards to your request, I have given it careful thought. I have very little faith these days as life has shown me faith is often just as misleading as one without. You wish to provide your people a place to turn and beseech the gods or whatever Light tinkering bell that we survive. Do you really think such a thing is beneficial? What is a chapel exactly except a place of prayer? Will it provide food and hospitality? Will it provide armory and defense? What is faith going to do against the onslaught of terrors and beasts? Aside from providing shelter, it will not stand very long against a proper invasion. It is a noble thought to think that this is what you believe the people of your Summerglen need, but I beg to differ. What they need is safety and reassurance that all will be well, and I sincerely doubt a building of prayer is going to do it.

However, Summerglen is not Shallowbrook. The small haven of bubbling brooks and aphrodisiac flowers has you as its Knight and caretaker. The decisions made may not ensure its survival, but perhaps it might be something more. An opportunity to give it something different from the many villages and towns. A chance for it to flourish and grow to something more. You wish to instill faith to your humble home, I understand. I will have my doubts and perhaps concerns, but I will fund your request because your faith has taken you this far. Do understand that the House of Firestorm is not as prosperous as it was before the fall of our kind. Our rise from the ashes is a slow yet steady progress, and soon we will recover the avenues used to profit our House and lands lost to rubble or guarded by old magic. 

Normally, one should have something to offer in return. A binding contract or perhaps a promise of goods. Yet since I know you have none of that yet, I do this in good faith as a token of our friendship and my hope that you turn this donation into something meaningful. May your fantasy become real and a part of the growing culture and lifestyle that is your new home. I look forward to seeing its construction.


Respectfully Yours,
Lord Vaelrin Firestorm


The ink splattered at the end of his signed name. He leaned over to blow gently to dry just a bit of the ink. It was in that same moment that a knock came to his door. 

“Come in,” He instructs, then lays the parchment to the desk to continue its drying. Eventually, it would receive a ribbon and send off to Summerglen proper.

“Master Firestorm,” Came the familiar voice from the other end, for once Calberi choosing not to enter despite given instruction. “There is a visitor here who wishes to see you.”

Vaelrin frowned and glanced to the door still closed. He did not arrange for any meetings today, so the news was somewhat perplexing. “Tell them I am not taking guests today.” He states firmly, then resumes his reading of letters.

“I’m … I’m already here!” 

A voice. Not Calberi. Softer, timid, yet familiar. His eyes rose back to the door as lips pressed firmly. An unexpected arrival, but this visitor he could not turn away. After all, it was as much her home as it was his.

“Come in … Ilaeriel.”


tagged: @dorksworn

All Things; Peace - pt. 1

Rivulets of dawnlight’s drove through the trees, drowning the everspring forest in deep shadows and pale shades of gold. Mist wove through the underbrush, blurring the wood to nothing more than dark lines and flashes of light, and from the great windows of Hallowhearth, even the houses along the row that led to the village center were hard to see in all their splendor.

Not that her eyes were on them; Dame Caeliri Dawnsworn’s eyes were locked on the toes of her boots as they, once more, circled the Great Hearth from window to door to corner to corner, her path as sure as it was mindless. Her feet were unwavering, but her lips were warbling, enrapted in whispered words, their syllables little more than a breath of sound as they slid haltingly off her tongue. They were borrowed words, from a book of history on Summerglen, and though she fumbled the phrases still, the heart behind them was sound.

“Unto the Light they go, not soft, not somber, but with revelry – to join those who have gone before them, and left the path lit.”

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Within.

It was four in the morning. 

At least that was the words he heard uttered by his house steward when he bumbled his way through the doors of Shallowbrook Manor doused in gold dust. The Ranger-Lord let out a snort and a few slurred words before departing for his beloved room. Much of their conversation was a bit of a blur, but the second he found the piano bench, he knew he was home.

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Character Profile Meme: Ilaeriel Firestorm

Full Name: Ilaeriel Heavensflame-Firestorm

Other Names: None yet?

Universe They Exist In: World of Warcraft

Gender and Sexuality: Cis female, asexual probably. For now.

Pronouns: She/Her

Ethnicity/Species: ex-High Elf, Blood Elf

Birthplace and Birthdate: Born in his ancestral home Shallowbrook … two-hundred years ago? I will get back to you on age…

Guilty Pleasures: Collecting rocks, studying the stars, studying period, reading, testing, performing unusual experiments

Phobias: Socializing

What They Would Be Famous For: Having the most rocks in their room for no other reason other than their beauty. And naming them.

What Have They / Would They Gotten Arrested For:

Have yet to be arrested. Pretty clean record. Maybe might get arrested for stealing rocks off personal property one day, lmao.

OC You Ship Them With:

She presently has none.

Your Favorite OC Relationships

Oh gosh, I think I love the friendship she has with @brothersemberfell a ton. She looks up to him with literal stars in her eyes because he’s so special. Elleynah @stormandozone is another one she just is completely fascinated with. Her talents just amaze her and I’m sure she’s going to start studying her … for science. She doesn’t have any other notable friendships. She did meet Tassandria @dorksworn who scared the hell out of her. Same goes for Cynel and Azriah.

OC Most Likely To Murder Them:

Huh. Not sure. Maybe Azriah? Lord why is it always Azriah…

Favorite Book Genre:

She’s a little geo-geek so books about space and geology definitely. I’m sure she fancies fantasy a ton. She loves anything that feels like she can immerse herself in it. Maybe some romance but I have a feeling she reads it just because.

Least Favorite Book Cliche:

Horror.

Talents and/or Powers:

Ilaeriel is a scholar first and foremost with exquisite talents in the arcane area. Unfortunately, she lacks the confidence to really utilize it. She’s a nervous nancy and that tends to flub up her potential to be an incredibly powerful mage. She’s also very intelligent. I imagine she’s good at handling research and anything that falls under the “science” spectrum.

Why Someone Might Love Them:

She’s a very squeak character that is easily fascinated by things she’s never seen before or just wants to know more about. She’s passive but very friendly. She’s … just … well described as adorable by some. If people like a mousey type character, she’s the one.

Why Someone Might Hate Them:

She’s a nervous nancy, prone to failure, and quick to flee from social situations if there are too many. She’s ‘weird’ in a way. She collects rocks so I’m sure someone might side eye her. 

How They Change:

She’s finally come forward to being related to Vaelrin, that’s about it. There’s still more story for her to embark on.

Why You Love Them:

It’s been a while since I played a character that has a very approachable and gentle personality. After years playing either a loud mouth or a grumbly grump, this is a nice change. I used to play this type of trope with another character who is a Night Elf, but since all my main RP is horde side, I opted to just redesign her concept into this mage. I love playing this type of character. It opens up interesting paths of RP that I can’t explore on my other characters.

I also love exploring a book nerd type character. I’ve never written that type of personality before so it’s a challenge.

Why you Hate Them:

Oh gosh it’s so hard playing her simply because I have to remember to write her and not him.

Tags: Anyone!

2

Solyaris Firestorm, Sun over the Waves

Commission for @starcunning of her regal and arresting Solyaris! I really had fun with this commission; I love complex armor, and lush ball gowns, so I wanted to make something that was fit for the Lady of Shallowbrook. The Armor was, particularly, really really fun and I got most of it done in one sitting!

I am still open for these design commissions, so if you want something like this of your own just send me an ask! And thank you again star, this was a pleasure to work on <3

Grieve.

Why do you not weep?

The journey to Northrend was not a voyage that the Captain desired. For three weeks, he had spent his days and evenings in the comfort of home to recover from his burns entirely and see to his needs as Lord and master to the domain of Shallowbrook. Aside from a few incidents that needed his supervision, it was an enjoyed respite surrounded by those he either cared for or took mild interest in their existence beyond their oath. He learned much during his reprieve—the lives of the Oathsworn, their roles in this order, their interests, their histories, and even their ultimate goals in the end. It was more than he wanted or cared to know about some of them, but the knowledge helped shaped his opinion of each and every single one. That regardless of size, race, or where they once hailed, every soldier within The Sunguard fought for their own reasons.

Perhaps this was why he had taken such keen interest in the newest Pathfinder. The troll who joined with wary suspicion by all and yet managed to prove his worth. He had excelled his expectations and the Ranger-Captain expected to see him rise. It was his belief that his Pathfinders were stronger than before. That this return would see better results than when last they were here.

And yet, the second day of their return resulted in him sitting outside by the training barracks. The archery targets and many of the benches dusted in a thin layer of white snow. A spot was chosen somewhere towards the end of a bench, one where he had sat for hours staring intently at absolutely nothing. For only hours ago did he receive the news that one of his own had likely fallen. The very troll he believed had proved his worth was nowhere to be found except for the return of his dying beast companion. A companion who only after a few short hours of his arrival could not manage to retain his life force and departed for the realm beyond. For a man who grew into such superstitions, such an outlook was never a good sign.

An order had been issued in rage that all Pathfinders were to stay within the city gates. At least on this night where he could not foresee losing another Pathfinder by a similar fate. He had gone through it once when the Dawnward Dawnforge was captured and held hostage. He had heard the news of Emberward Redmorn who had failed but quick to avoid a similar fate. Incidents such as this should have warned him of the risks. The risks of sending his Pathfinders out to handle the tasks set for them. No matter how skilled, how quick, or how strong, each one still capable of never returning home.

It sunk in. Harder than he thought on that evening. Rage and shouting was the answer given when the Novastorm twin wished to find him. No. Not now. Not by his will. He had already sent one to their demise, he could not take the risk. And yet he knew they were all determined to retrieve their comrade in arms. All held their grief, their anger, and show of frustration that failure had happened so soon after their return.

The snow fell, the chill set in, and yet he remained on that bench as he looked forward. This was the risk of being too aware of each soldier. Knowing them to any extent meant it was harder to wash the blood from his hands. He did not deserve that end, and yet he ventured out proudly by his command. Another life potentially wasted for the purpose of what? For Glory? For Quel’thalas? He wondered if he truly supported all this. He had joined with only the intent to gain income, and now he wondered if that purpose had changed with time.

It had been a week. One filled with reminders of his past, change, new encounters, and remembering words said that he wondered if they applied to this moment.

“Why do you not weep? I do not think once that I have ever even seen the faintest film of tears in your gaze. I have seen it … in your expression. But is there a reason you do not allow yourself to complete the cycle?”

Yes.

Once hardened by anger the expression on his face grew stoic. From there it shifted to a neutral regard until sorrow and pain settled on his brow. A quiet grief. It was the most he could offer. No tears to be shed, just a quiet mourn in the evening. Though his eyes may have filmed over it was likely due to the winds and cold conditions than emotional hold of this evening. Maybe.

He had offered such sorrow when they had laid her to rest. More when they had refused him his son. He wished to never shed it again, or at least not let them know his ache. When at last he was compelled to do it when the memories vividly flew past him, even then he could not pick up the act in days to come—the wall returned, he was back to being stone.

Perhaps that was why the other Commanders took such a distant approach towards the units. By removing his interest in their lives and goals, their deaths would not hinder their ability to carry forth their duties. It was better this way to see them as nothing but soldiers. Not friends, not companions, but bodies who served the cause to protect their homeland. Too close, he told himself as he gazed towards the snow. Too close and this is where it got him. To let himself get invested in their existence was not without some frustration that he could not protect them. He cared. When did that happen? Since when did he start bothering to acknowledge their existence? Each and every single one who made up his unit. He knew them by name, by stupidity, by loyalty, and much else. He could pretend for as long as he wanted that he did not care and they would believe him. Yet at the end of the day, this is where he sat when he knew one was missing.

Crying. No, it never came. It certainly had other ways of showing—anger, rage, and foolishness. But here as he sat this was as far as he could give. No tears or wailing, just the utter look of … hopelessness.

Why do you not weep?

Because I cannot. 

I have tried, I would like to, but her death emptied me.

 I cried my last tears when she left this realm. They rest at the bottom of the burial at sea, and it is there they will stay.

Forgive me.