Fic- The Gulf
1450 words, Halduron and Lor’themar and a very broken friendship. This one was written quickly, I apologize for sloppiness. :x
It was well past dark when Lor’themar finally stood from his desk, frowning at the arcane, blue, lights that illuminated the room and caused his good eye to ache after a day of work. He was weary, and not the type of tired that could be fixed by a good night’s rest, if he ever got one anymore.
Parchments were rolled into each other, handed to couriers, and within the hour he was in his chambers, drinking from a small crystal tumbler with ice in it. The whiskey burned, but it did enough. He stepped to the window, leaning against the frame and watching the dark sky outside. From here, in the mornings, he could see the isle of Quel’danas. It was far too dark for that, now, and undoubtedly the blood and high elven pilgrims would have been sent away for the night.
It was quiet, and he was alone. The candlelight was warm, his shadow inky black, and it reminded him of another lifetime. Two rangers, sitting around a small fire. One was singing – he smiled – and the other was laughing. It was a ranger’s song, not one fit for the polite company of Silvermoon, but one for the forests. A song of the simple pleasures of life out there (simple as anything could be in Quel’thalas, that was). Halduron always did love to make up songs to tease Lor’themar. Perhaps one about drinking far too much and waking up in bed with a dwarf, perhaps one that lauded how many women he had taken to bed the night before- though Lor’themar was always certain the latter was more than slightly embellished.
He smiled, bitterly.
What had happened to them?
It was early morning when Halduron rolled out of the bed, slipping on his trousers and cracking open his window to smoke. His companion was quiet for a moment, watching him with bright green eyes and glowed in the dim moonlight.
“What’s the Regent Lord like?” She smiled, rolling over in bed, halfway covered by the sheet and her hair messy. She was beautiful, but Halduron frowned. What was he like?
“Stubborn.” Was the best he could manage, before shrugging. What could he say about him anymore? Lor’themar was almost like another man, and Halduron supposed, in some ways, he had changed, as well. Why did it hurt to speak to him, then, and why couldn’t he bring himself to do anything about it? He wanted to believe, desperately, that they were still friends in some fashion, but the truth was that they had grown apart.
“Did I hit a nerve?” She purred, and then smiled. “You two aren’t…?”
Halduron shook his head. “No, nothing like that. Merely rangers, brothers in arms.” There was a story there, but it was unfit for present company, and the memory of it made him chuckle just once.
“Halduron.” Lor’themar, clad in simpler clothes than the ceremonial clothes of the Regent Lord, gestured vaguely. “One day, you’re going to settle down.”
“Never.” Halduron laughed, looping an arm around Lor’themar’s shoulders. “’s not the life for me.” He leaned in closer, reeking of alcohol. “Lor.” He reached over, turning Lor’themar’s face to him and staring at him intently before pushing his face away. “Why don’t you have two wives, that way you can get married for both of us.” He laughed loudly. “And then you’ll always have someone to braid your pretty hair.”
Lor’themar frowned drunkenly. “Halduron. I told you. You’re not supposed to make fun of-“
Halduron pressed a finger to Lor’themar’s lips, laughing. “Shh, shh, shh. No. I was not making fun.” Halduron grabbed his face by the chin, turning his face to him again. “You have such nice blue eyes.”
“Regent Theron.” Halduron bowed stiffly, and Lor’themar frowned, but nodded politely. He knew that Halduron knew that every time he did that, it felt like something tearing at his heart.
“Ranger-General Brightwing.” His face was cold, and he could tell from the way that Halduron looked away from him for just a moment, that it hurt just as badly for him.
What had happened? All they could do anymore was hurt each other, and every step to try and cross the gulf that stretched between them seemed to fail miserably. There was too much bitterness, too much distance, but he could hardly tell how it had arrived in the first place.
Perhaps they were both just hanging on because they didn’t know how to let go.
“Lor!” Halduron smirked. “Your aim is deplorable!” He pulled back the bow string, letting an arrow loose and in landed, sound and true, in the center of the target.
“Need I remind you that you’re addressing your superior, Brightwing?” He laughed, taking aim and hitting the target nearest to the one Halduron’s arrow was planted in. It landed slightly off-center, and Halduron laughed.
“I told you! You’re blind!”
“I am not-“ Lor’themar frowned, and then laughed, in spite of himself. “I can best you with a sword, Halduron.”
“Oh, I am well aware of that.” Halduron took aim, letting fly another arrow, this one landing in the center of Lor’themar’s target. “Which is why I refuse to spar with you.”
“I thought you just knew you were singularly awful.”
“Well, I am that.” Halduron laughed. “My talents merely lie elsewhere!”
“If you spent half as much time studying arms as you do trying to woo women, you’d be Ranger-General.”
“It will be a cold day in Silvermoon when I’m Ranger-General.” And Halduron laughed, holding his bow loosely. “Break time, Lor.”
“I’m busy, Halduron.” He didn’t look up from his desk, trying to sort out the small complaints that had come to his desk and what could wait and what needed to be dealt with at that moment. “What is it?”
Halduron hesitated, and for a moment he almost turned and left the room.
Lor’themar sighed, glancing up from his work and regretting it. Halduron looked away.
“Lor. I just…” He shrugged, focusing on the blue lights that hung from chains attacked to the ceiling. For a few moments, they were both silent, and then Halduron looked at him, finally. What could he say? For a moment, he expected Halduron to say something, and he waited before he could say the words himself. He wanted to ask him, honestly, how to go back to their lives before, how to gain back that friendship they had.
But, like always, he said nothing.
Halduron finally spoke, but the words weren’t what Lor’themar wanted to hear. “…the trolls are becoming active again.”
“And where are the rangers?”
“We’re stretched thin, Regent Theron.” He grasped for the words, gesturing with his hands for a moment. “We hardly have enough people to…”
“You will hold the trolls where they are, Brightwing.”
“Lor’themar, we can’t-“
“You will. Do whatever you need to, but do it.”
Halduron narrowed his eyes, and then nodded. “Yes, Regent Lord.”
“Halduron.” Lor’themar tossed a small pouch at him. “Lunch.”
“I hope it’s good this time.” Halduron quickly opened the bag, and smiled. “You must have gone through some trouble for this!” He reached inside, pulling out a loaf of bread and the prize of it, a thick slice of Dwarven cheese.
Lor’themar nodded. “I knew you’d appreciate that.”
Halduron grinned, cutting a bit off and nearly shoving it into his mouth. “Say what you want about them, but Dwarven food isn’t bad!”
“Don’t let them hear you say that in Silvermoon.” Lor’themar laughed. “You’ll be chased out.”
“I can think of worse fates.” Halduron laughed. “So what are we supposed to do out here?”
“We hold the trolls at bay.”
Halduron chanced over at him, and smiled. “Hey, Lor…”
“Hmm?” He turned his eye from the trees they were watching and glanced down at Halduron, seated on the ground and tearing pieces of bread from the loaf. “What?”
“Nothing, it’s just nice to be out here.” Halduron smiled. “You’ll have to tell me the story of the farmer’s lost sheep again sometime.” He laughed. “I’ve forgotten most of it.”
Lor’themar smiled, and laughed. “We were all very confused as to how they wound up in elven territory! Possibly as confused as the poor beasts were!”
He glanced down at Halduron and smiled. In truth, he didn’t mind standing out here, watching the woods for movement- as long as he had a good friend with him, he could watch these same trees for centuries. As far as he could tell, Halduron was happy to do just the same.
He looked out toward the trees, content for the moment, and wishing nothing more than this moment going on for ages.
Neither of them could have guessed how much their lives would change.