The Perils of Being Different


What is wrong with you?!

Tristol sighed heavily as he bowed his head where he sat slumped in a Silvermoon alleyway. There was a bottle of…

something

…in his fist still but he’d had no more urge to drink after that comment. When the unwitting

child

had drawn attention to him when all he’d wanted was some peace to have a drink.

The horns and his eyes did little to hide his nature, he knew. He hadn’t expected the comment about his

skin

to rankle so deep however.

Amongst the Illidari it was a sign of power, of strength, and of teetering near the edge. The more fel energy consumed, the more demonic one’s traits had a chance to become. His skin had started making the shift early in his years as a hunter, becoming only darker until parts took on the leathery consistency of demon hide. He’d taken it as a sign of his control over the erud’ruin bound to him that he had lasted as long as he had with such effects.

Outside the Illidari, however, it was just one more thing

other

about him.

And the things people

said

when they saw him.

The

questions

that were asked.

The

comments

that were made.


What’s wrong with him, minn’da? He’s…sick, kim’alah. Come away now.


Demon hunter scum! How dare you show your face here?


What is one


them


doing here?


We don’t need your kind here, demon.

And then the final confrontation that had led him here to the alleyway, when he had gone to the bar of the inn to buy the very bottle he held. When the bartender had nervously taken his coin but her assistant had stared at him before whispering breathlessly in shock and horror, “What is wrong with you?!”

It was the

horror

that had gotten him.

Sighing, Tristol let his head fall back against the wall, the downward curve of his horns thumping sharply against the stone. When they had been released from the Wardens’ prison he had been grateful for the freedom even if he hadn’t been conscious of being imprisoned for so many years. And when he had been informed that Silvermoon had recovered he had been excited to see what the city had become.

Especially since the last time he had seen it was as it was being torn apart.

But his kin had not reacted well to his presence or that of the other Illidari. Most of the rest had left but he was stubborn. He persisted.

And…and he did not want to leave yet.

Lifting the bottle to his lips, Tristol took a long drag from it – so it was wine, specifically Suntouched Special Reserve, how had he been given such a good bottle exactly? Then he tilted his head to stare out of the alleyway at the city. It was reborn from its own ashes…and now he was the outsider.

As he sat the bottle down on the ground, he asked aloud, “Why do I bother?”

“Because we want to belong,” came a sudden voice from the other end of the alley.

Tristol jerked upright, whipping his head around towards this stranger and regretting leaving his blades elsewhere, but the stranger quickly resolved into an elven woman in the familiar green mail of a Ranger. Her red hair was cropped just above her shoulders and it covered one of her fel green eyes as well as part of her seemingly severe expression. Her bow and quiver were slung over her shoulder in a manner that read instantly

uneasy

to him because it was not the move of a relaxed archer. And next to her drifted an aged red and gold dragonhawk, its face bearing an old scar over its right eye.

Not relaxing yet, he commented, “Strange for a Ranger to speak in such a way.”

She let out a sharp snort in response and let one hand rest of the head of the dragonhawk. “I may still dress as one but I’m no longer a Farstrider.” Her mouth tilted downward bitterly as she added, “They weren’t inclined to take someone back that they saw as a traitor.”

“Were you one?” he asked.

“Depends on how one defines

traitor

when a city is obviously lost.”

Tristol frowned for a moment then shrugged. “I suppose we’re traitors together then,” he commented. He hadn’t been called out today but it had been said to his face in the past.

“It was my understanding of the demon hunters that you chose your path because you believed it would help our cause. That that was a lie forged by our traitor prince in his own bid for power doesn’t change your intent.”

He stared at her for a long moment before he stated firmly, “You speak bold words, stranger. You’re certain you want to say them to someone like me?”

She smirked briefly in response to that, the expression there and gone again, before replying, “I’ve seen at least a hundred years more than you if I guess right, boy. Not to mention I’ve been awake while you and yours were put to sleep and out in the world.” Pausing, she jerked her chin slightly up the roadway in the direction of the inn he had been in before leaving it. “Those lot? They’ve been here. Rebuilding has been difficult but…they haven’t seen what we’ve seen. They haven’t seen the hardships. Haven’t had a demon breathing down their neck and buried in their soul.”

Tristol frowned at that then asked, “Know a lot about demon hunters?”

“They were my enemy once when we thought the Black Temple and Illidan was our foe,” she replied matter-of-factly. “I did my research as any good Ranger should.”

They fell into silence after than then he jerked his head in the direction of the inn before saying, “So you’re making the point that I shouldn’t put so much into their words.”

“I’m saying don’t let their words hurt you.”

He tilted his head at her, eyes narrowing slightly. “And who hurt

you

, stranger?”

Her single eye stared at him for a moment before she smiled sadly and stroked her thumb over the eye ridges of the dragonhawk. As it rumbled out a noise that was almost a purr, she answered, “Our own kind did.”

“And why give random advice to a stranger?”

“I remember nearly letting the words they said turn me into something I wasn’t.”

Now he stared at her and Tristol asked, “You think they’re wrong?”

She shrugged one shoulder. “I think that those who haven’t stepped outside of their own safe havens shouldn’t judge those of us that do.”

“Where were you when I woke up?”

At that she snorted a laugh and replied, “Most likely working with my unit out somewhere obscure for the Horde.” She then inclined her head and stated, “My name is Lymalis. Lymalis Duskstrider.”

Blinking at the sudden introduction, he said, “Tristol Felblade.”

“That’s not your birth name.”

“No but there’s no reason to bear a dead name anymore.”

Lymalis shrugged at that and nodded. “Fair.” Then she nodded in the direction of the inn and asked, “How about we go in there together? It’s always better to face that sort of thing with a friendly face over being alone and my little brother isn’t here to be the friendly one this time.”

“This time?” he asked while trying to process that she wanted him to go

back

.

“Neither of us are looked very well at amongst our own on either side. For different reasons. So we have a tendency to take ones like you under our wing.”

Tristol frowned. “Like me?”

She flashed her teeth briefly in a feral sort of grin before replying, “Ones who need someone at their back.”

With the majority of the rest of the Illidari he came with having left the city already due to the icy welcome they’d received…the idea wasn’t a bad one. Not to mention that from her comments that the older elf seemed to understand at least a little of what he was going through.

Looking up at her, he asked, “And what do we do when someone says something to me?”

Lymalis just shrugged.

“I’ll helpfully point out that there’s the Wayfarer’s Rest if they don’t want to drink in the same room with us. And make a second point that they’re right outside Murder Row, which is full of rogues and warlocks who’ve probably done more heinous things than the both of us combined. That tends to shut up the fools.”

The dragonhawk let out a growl and she laughed – an honest but rough sound, as if it wasn’t heard often – before rubbing its head.

“Or, if they persist after that, Thori here will teach them a lesson or two.”

Tristol blinked at her for a moment then slowly rose to his feet, picking up the bottle of wine as he did so. She flicked her one visible eye over him, obviously taking in the obvious Illidari armor and the wrappings underneath between the pieces and his demon-scaled skin. He watched her gaze linger over his horns and the fel-fire filled gashes on his face before she nodded and took a step forward.

“Come then, Tristol Felblade,” she called over her shoulder as she strode towards the head of the alleyway. “Let us be traitors together.”

He stared after her for a moment then shrugged his shoulders and followed Lymalis Duskstrider, such a very strange former Ranger, back to face the very inn he’d fled from in the first place.

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