“Sooner or later you have to stop running from your ghosts.”
I had to think quite a bit about how to update Shuannas backstory. But, if I may say so, it turned out rather well. The paladin is dead – long live the priest! This is her story. Her new story:
The world is changing. If Shuannah was a visionary, or a mystic, or an oracle, she would allready know what’s coming. But she doesn’t know. No one does … well, maybe Velen, but Velen is tightlipped about the prophecy some sources claim he whispered not long ago. “When past and present collide, the fate of all worlds hangs in the balance”.
The world is changing. It’s changing in a way she can understand. It’s the story of a paladin who lost her light. It’s the change of a person who once were young and adventurous – and then became old and scared. Fear reigned supreme in her own little personal country for a long, long time. She hid from the world, holed up in a house in Stormwind. Collecting trash – or whatever items relatives sent her. They rarely asked how she was doing. Not the real question, the one beyond the typical “how you doin’, sis?”.
Zavannah asked. But Shuanna never answered back. Letters remained unopened. She pretended not to be home when the there was a knock on the door. She pulled down the curtains, covered up the furniture. Fearing that should someone somehow manage to peek through the thick velvet curtains all they would see would be draped furniture. The sure sign of no one home.
She hid in the cellar when the world rumbled. Like a mole, peering out with blinded eyes only occasionally. The Cataclysm eventually drew her back to “adventures” but it was a shortlived trip. Fear gripped her. In every fight. In every breath.
Northrend broke her, you see. Some heroes can shake off the horror with a sneer and a laugh. Some heroes pretend it wasn’t that bad. Most heroes grit their teeth. She wasn’t the only one who broke. Westfall is full of the broken. “Veterans”, people call them. Some of them were at the Wrathgate, not many survived of course but some did.
Fear does not come alone. Guilt is the cousin of fear. Shame is their brother. She mended herself, somehow she slowly ventured back into the world. Responsibilites, you know. Few people knew she drank herself to sleep. Most people thought she was a bitch – always cranky, angry. Sometimes violent. That’s nothing unusual; people are used to violence. No one cared.
Well, Zavannah cared. But the door was still shut. The curtains still drawn. The letters remained unopened.
Shuanna rekindled her spirits eventually. It was a slow process. She missed most of the Deathwing war (for wich she’s grateful). She – like many others – were gripped by the pandaria craze. A land of milk and honey awaited the bold. Riches beyond imagination!
She saw mostly terror.
Yet … in the small way that fate sometimes works, she found a mystery. It was quite silly really. The grizzled draenei vindicator, driven from one world to another, found HOPE. In a girl. A little girl, a child. No more than maybe twelve or thirteen (human) years old.
Shuanna found Li to be extremely annoying at first. But her uncle paid good money for personal protection. Be as it may – Shuanna took the little girl on some sightseeing. In the small way that fate sometimes works, she found …
The world changed. Upon her return “home” – if any draenei truly has a home – she felt invigorated. The unopened letters were opened and answered. The path to reconciliation with the once favourite sister, Zavannah, started and ended in both laughter and tears (and a funny story about carrots). Steps were taken to bring the sisters closer. All of them – even the adopted one’s (that’s a story in itself).
But her hands were no longer used to the leatherbound handle of her mace. Her arms could no longer carry the weight of such devastating force. Her mind would no longer function the way a vindicators mind should function. It had been too long. Too long …
Fear gripped her. It grew with every new story of the mysteries of Pandaria. Could the Sha stretch their damnable black tentacles so far away that they even could reach her in Stormwind? What can someone possibly do when the shadows tighten, when breath becomes a rare commodity … when gasps in the sleepless nights slowly breaks you?
The sisters were helpless. Mostly because she didn’t want their help.
The Northrend nightmares started anew. The empty Caraway Burnwine bottles kept piling up. A chance meeting with someone Shuanna had never met before in person, but someone she had heard a lot about, changed her world. She was on an errand, half drunk, tired to the bones. She stumbled on a loose flagstone, not far from the ethereals shop down by the harbor. She would have fallen had a hand not shot out from somewhere she didn’t notice.
“Careful there, friend,” a soft voice said. A male voice.
When her eyes focused, there he was. Like a saving grace, an angel of faith and redemption – or for some, terrible vengeance. Maraad.
They talked. They talked for a long time. Well, she talked. Maraad listened. She talked about Karabor. About Shattrath. She talked about Azeroth. Most of all – she talked about Northrend. For hours upon hours. In a way she cleansed herself. When they departed and said farewell he shook her hand and said, quite simple really:
“Go to the Aldor, friend. Save yourself. Embrace their mercy.”
So she did. It was, in fact, just as simple as that. The world changed, as did her name. She honored her past by keeping her old name – even though it wasn’t required or even preferred. But she added an H – Shuannah. Her studies into the priesthood were swift; she knew the writings, the codes. With each passing level of ascenscion and experience of a “new hope”, she felt more at ease.
The nightmares ended.
Her future began.