Emilenth Thistleheart was always a cautious person.
Her very family had disowned her, cast her out for her arcane practice – she loved magic, it was true, and though she did miss them, the kaldorei thought it worth it to pursue that dream. She knew what she was capable of, and she was never meant to be a Sentinel, or a priestess of Elune.
So, when the time came and her father spoke the words that labeled her a traitor to their peoples’ values, a monster, one seeking destruction, she took it on the chin and moved forward with her life. It ached. It still ached; she had never realized that in such a moment of impulse, she would end up with a wound that never fully healed.
When Teldrassil burned and the night elves found themselves without a home, all of their lands desecrated by the Horde or taken from them by force, Emilenth realied that her family had likely burned, too. For the first time in hundreds of years, she took this knowledge as if it were a spear to the heart, and she wept.
Since she had been hired to Stormwind University as a visiting professor, her absences had been noticed. She had no doubt that she walked a thin line, unemployment a constant threat and the bane of her existence. Just commit, she told herself, they won’t throw you out as your family did. You don’t have to fear this. Your skillset is valued, or they would have never taken you on to begin with. She knew this to be true, but as she turned a worrying stone over in her hand for what seemed like the thousandth time that day, she let out a sigh and closed her eyes.
Emilenth found herself on the bridge between what she knew to be safe – the Kirin Tor, her job as an enforcer, stability, decades of experience – and what she knew to be a new chapter. Teaching, learning alongside her newfound peers, a relentless wave of opportunity.
So, she sat in the Mage Quarter of Stormwind City, drafting the syllabus for her advanced bloodstain analysis course for what seemed like the thousandth time. Just like the worrying stone.
Looking up, a figure caught her eye from the corner of her vision – tall, imposing, elven, with silvery hair and bold cerulean facial tattoos that spelled out the shape of a crane. Her head snapped in the direction of the figure as her stomach curved and twisted and dropped with anxiety. The taste of acid filled her mouth out of fearful reflex.
She did not see anyone there.
Regardless, while Emilenth was many things, she was not the subject of hallucinations. She stood, and took her items with her as she headed for shadows, casting glances over her shoulder as she made her way towards the Trade District. The tall buildings seemed to close in on her as she ducked through alleys, grass shifting underfoot to make way for her passage.
The grass shifted behind her with footsteps.
Whirling around, the kaldorei held up a hand with a dispelling charm already cast – any illusion, any falsehoods, pulled away at the seams by stronger arcane in front of her. With a growl, she realized she saw nothing.
Her eldest sister, Ionesa, was the only one who could have hidden from her. The elf with the hair like her own and the cerulean tattoos, the one who had personally severed the finger on Emilenth’s right hand where her family’s ring once sat.
“I can’t see you,” Emilenth hissed, backing into a wall. She ignored the sweat that plagued her palms and the back of her neck. “Show yourself.”
A smooth, dark laugh, filled with disgust and amusement all at once, accompanied Ionesa’s emergence. She hopped down from a rooftop, deft and agile, and stared Emilenth down in much the same way a cat stares down prey that it knows it has caught.
“Baby sister.” The words were calmly spoken, Ionesa’s tone reeking of condescension. “I see you have made a spectacle of yourself. Teaching? Really? A traitor, instructing other traitors to our people. Did losing your home twice-over mean nothing to you?”
Emilenth swallowed hard, clutching her books and parchment. She hid the way her hands shook. “They are no traitors,” she replied. “Neither am I. After the Cataclysm, we had to adapt, we had to learn again. I was -”
“You were what? Ahead of the curve?” Ionesa was suddenly much closer, staring down at Emilenth with a sickened smile on her face. “I should have known you would say something like that. Always the victim, Emi.”
The blink was reflexive, and Emilenth found herself twenty yards past Ionesa, towards the Trade District. She frowned, then scowled, then replied in a torrent of words, her voice raising despite her fear. “I am no victim! I am an arcanist, an enforcer, someone who helps people! Someone who believes in justice! I am -”
The books weighed heavily in her arm.
“I am a professor. I am an instructor, helping others to understand how to bring justice for lost ones’ families. Most of all, I am unconcerned with the likes of you.”
Ionesa looked shocked, but Emilenth took the pause as opportunity. She opened a portal, the gateway snapping shut behind her as she emerged into her room in the faculty housing. Her breaths came fast and uneven, and tears involuntarily began to fall as she slowly set her precious cargo on her desk.
Wiping at her eyes, Emilenth sat on her bed and realized the gesture was futile. She wasn’t sure how long she sat there, letting herself have this moment of weakness. Letting herself mourn.
When she looked up again, the sun still shone high through the gauzy curtains on her window. She replayed the conversation in her mind, and four words stuck out in her mind above all else.
I am a professor.
Yes. Yes, she was. It was about time she chose to commit to it.