Aericke had rarely been nervous before. Nerves weren’t really a thing, after a lifetime of disciplining himself in the ways of the Light. War, loss, and the pain of aging without his friends and family resulted in a discipline that steeled him against the sort of trepidation that he would generally ascribe as relevant to the younger. But today, Aericke was. . . unsettled.
He had let his friends down. His disappearance from the University, shortly after procuring a teaching spot, would surely be frowned upon. How long had it been? He wasn’t sure he even knew. Maybe two years? But duty called, and Aericke had to answer. It was required, the church insisted, that Aericke go now and not tell others where he was going. It was hinted that this would likely be his last service to the church. And so, he went dutifully, just as he had for his whole life.
But he could have written. Surely, if he had, his friends would have understood. But his work was important, and the days got longer, even as Aericke felt his own life as a contributor to society getting shorter. He threw himself into the work. He tried to assure himself that this was the right thing to do. Meanwhile, the deep, yawning loneliness in Aericke’s soul returned, and he convinced himself that no one would want to spend too much time worrying for an old man.
His service was up. He would love nothing more than to return to his post at the University, lecturing and researching comparative religions. With the increasing tension between races, surely this work of comparative study, in which the similarities of religious viewpoints could be promoted, would be valuable work! But, he was nervous. He was afraid of being rejected. He was afraid that things had, well, moved on. As he strolled through the mage district of Stormwind, Aericke noticed the sign promoting the Literary Conclave. He recalled fondly the times he listened to the fascinating stories, and enjoyed the company of other deep thinkers, even (and maybe especially) those who were so radically different than him. Should he go?
What if no one remembers him?
What if his post has been filled?
What if no one wants him?
Resolved, Aericke turned his face towards the Cathedral and, behind that, the park. “Well, I guess there is one way to find out,” he muttered under his breath. Pulling his hair back into a ponytail with his leather strap, he stood straight (for the first time in a while) and made his way to the conclave.