A calm summer evening caressed the sky over Stormwind with arms of amber and violet as the aging sun quietly sank into the watery horizon beyond the harbor. The last rays of daylight fell upon Daxos' beloved hat, which caused his distraught face to be partially concealed by a thin blanket of shadow as he made his way to the refugee camp by Olivia's Pond. Getting there from Talongrab was easy enough--an exchange of coins and cigars for a portal was sufficient and well-worth the price of the chance to find what he was seeking. The embassy loomed ahead like a stone sentinel beckoning survivors and volunteers to a path of relative safety and comfort as Daxos turned right and made his final approach to the camp. He did not know what words he'd say or how he'd feel, just that he had an ever-tightening knot of agitation surrounding his heart and a painfully dry throat. However, he kept his stoic composure and his storm-grey eyes swept from side to side as he entered the disorganized array of tents and woefully sparse group of refugees.
The cool air did little to mask the misery and despair emanating from the survivors. A Kaldorei boy covered in ash and singed clothes sat by himself in front of a tent. His eyes were wide-open and unblinking as he stared at the ground a few feet in front of him; the outside world was completely nonexistent to him. A female Kaldorei was loudly weeping on her knees while her mate silently comforted her, and he had a similar stare that the boy had. More occasional wails of anguish and the occasional angry murmur played a disjointed macabre symphony of pure hopelessness and rage. Daxos did all he could to keep walking and to avoid making eye contact with these living ghosts--these specters of the grey snow.
A few Gilneans were scattered among the Kaldorei survivors--years of peaceful cohabitation had seemed to bring the two races closer and with deep mutual respect. Daxos looked from Gilnean to Gilnean--most having similar reactions (or lack thereof) as their Kaldorei brethren. Despite the scene of horror surrounding him, Daxos had a small spark of hope that he desperately clung on to; the hope that his parents survived the hell the Horde had unleashed upon Teldrassil without any notions of mercy or honor. He hadn't seen his parents since he left Gilneas as a war-torn Northgate rebel and, even though his father had been a staunch Loyalist and fought against the rebels, Daxos prayed to whatever god, goddess, or divine presence that he had survived. Daxos' mother was who had truly raised him--who taught him how to be a gentleman and how to be kind to others, even when they trespassed against you. She was the rock upon which the St. Cyr family was founded on and she continued to love Daxos and his brother unconditionally, even after she learned that they had joined the rebellion. Daxos was the one who brought the news of his brother's passing to his mother and she sat with him through the night, tenderly mending his wounds and making his favorite soup.
Daxos shook the memories from his mind and spotted a familiar face at last. “Richard! Hey, Richard!” he called out to an elderly man sitting by a campfire with a few Kaldorei. Richard’s weatherbeaten face supported a dense forest of whiskers and two earth-brown eyes under a disheveled mess of long white hair. A weak smile spread across the man’s face and his voice shook when he answered. “Daxos? By the Light, I never thought I’d see you again. Come here, lad, and let me have a better look at you.” he scooted to the side to make room. Daxos removed his hat and joined Richard by the fire, taking a moment to enjoy the warmth and glow as the light continued to fade. The old man placed a surprisingly-strong hand on Dax’s shoulder and squeezed it affectionately. “You’ve grown” his voice was becoming more stable as he spoke. “The last time I saw you was before that damned rebellion. How have you been?”
Daxos rubbed his hands together absentmindedly and continued to stare into the fire. “The years have been long, old friend, but I’ve been well.” His eyes shifted over to meet Richard’s. “I’m...sorry for what happened” he said, not knowing what the proper words for such a thing should be. Richard sighed and looked up at the slowly-emerging stars overhead. “This is indeed one of the worst things to have ever happened to our people, especially after having to flee our homeland once already” his fingers briefly dug into the grass in a spasm of anger. “But we’ll rebuild” he continued with a hollow voice. “We’ll endure as we always have.” Daxos clenched his jaw and scowled, but said nothing until his ire subsided. “I’m looking for my parents. Have you seen them?” Richard slowly brought his eyes back to the earth and gazed into the fire. “They’re by the northern waterfall. Light be with us all.” Daxos shook Richard’s hand and rose to his feet, heart pounding in his chest with a mixture of anxiety and hope.
A lone figure stood silently by the waterfall, mostly shrouded by the encroaching darkness, until Daxos got closer and realized that it was his father. Ulysses St. Cyr stood motionless and silent; his thoughts lost within the waterfall and seemingly unaware of his approaching son. He wore Gilnean gentleman's garb, which Daxos was unaccustomed to seeing--he had grown up with his father donning the Gilnean military uniform on a daily basis. “Dad…?” Daxos asked with uncertainty. Ulysses slowly moved his gaze from the water to Daxos until their matching grey eyes met. His face now sported a well-trimmed salt and pepper mustache rather than being clean-shaven and his hairline had receded into baldness. For a moment, Daxos wondered if his father would reach out to strike him, until Ulysses’ eyes filled with tears and he wordlessly pulled his son in for a deep hug. “Daxos...my son” Ulysses’ deep voice was broken. Daxos hugged him back and almost wept as well. “Dad...Where’s mom…?” he asked as dread began to well up inside of him. Ulysses released Daxos from his grip, reached into his pocket with trembling hands, and withdrew a small steel vial. “Daxos...I’m sorry.”
It was as if the earth had fallen out from under Daxos as he sank to his knees and his chest exploded with agony. Gasping breaths shook his arched body and tears freely flowed down his face as grief drowned him. Small grunts of rage and deep sorrow overtook him, then turned into roars of fury and desolation as clashing feelings erupted inside of him with the force of primal volcanoes. His fists pounded the ground until his knuckles were raw and bloody and his lungs felt like they were going to collapse into themselves. “Fuck!” he roared as he beat the ground with renewed wrath. “Fuck!” His arms were suddenly pinned against his sides as Ulysses scooped him up in an iron embrace. “Daxos, I’m so sorry. Look at me. Talk to me.” he released his grip and Daxos turned around with a tear-stained face of anger. “I should’ve been there, dad. I should’ve told her that I loved her and be with her.” Ulysses placed his hands on Daxos’ shoulders and looked him square in the eyes. “She knew that you loved her and I was there with her. She wasn’t alone.” Daxos bit down on his teeth to stem another round of tears and wordlessly looked down at the vial in his father’s hands. “This is the best I could do.” Ulysses held out the vial with his hands trembling again. “Before I was taken through the portal, I was able to scoop up some of the ashes from Darnassus” his voice broke for a moment and a few tears fell down his battle-hardened face. “The fires were everywhere. We were making preparations to evacuate Teldrassil, but the Horde bastards murdered us before we could even make it out of the city.”
Daxos took the small vial in his hands and turned it over as if expecting the news of his mother’s death to be more bearable on the other side of it. Were these even her ashes, or were they the mixture of the ashes of the innocent and the trees alike? He looked back up at his father and slowly closed his fingers around the vial. “Let’s set her in the water.” Ulysses merely nodded and looked over the pristine and still water of Olivia’s Pond. Daxos unscrewed the vial and gently lobbed it into the pond, but was unable to see the ashes dispersing. Another wave of guilt, shame, rage, and depression washed over him and wrapped his chest in an invisible vice. “Dad?” he looked over his shoulder at Ulysses, who shook his head and put up a hand. “I know, son. I’m sorry for the war as well and have reconciled with rebels and loyalists alike. My time in Darnassus was a blessed one.” Daxos merely inclined his head and stared back out over the water. His guitar manifested out of thin air with a snap of his fingers and floated down into his waiting arms, and Daxos began to play.
((Song for reference: Devil’s Waitin’ by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club