A quiet knock came to the door. 'Hey little lady,' Ryback called, hesitant. 'You alright in there? It's almost noon.'
Her mouth dry and head aching, Idira dragged herself from the bed, listless. She pulled the door open and leaned against its edge. A blast of heat hit her. She eyed the fireplace, a whole pig hung on the spit, roasting, gobbets of grease dripped from its flesh, hissing and sizzling in the flames.
Ryback held up a cup, she took it. Water. She drank, grateful.
'You look terrible,' he said as she handed back the empty cup. Idira didn't say anything, somehow she felt like it didn't matter what she looked like anymore. He scratched his head and looked down at the cup, turning it round in his big hands. 'Um, I made up a plate of food for you, why don't you come out and eat?' He glanced behind him at the stairs leading up to the dining room. 'Elly won't be bothering you no more, Maegan's told her what's what.'
'And what is what?' Idira asked, tired.
'Nothing,' Ryback said, a little too fast. 'I made your favourite today, roast asparagus and potatoes and whitescale salmon in cream sauce.'
Idira glanced up at him, surprised. 'Since when is fish on the menu here?' she asked, suspicious.
Ryback shuffled back a little, recoiling at her sharp tone. 'Just, please, just come and eat before it gets cold. Please,' he finished, suddenly self-conscious, his gaze returning to the cup in his hand. He went to the table where he had laid out a place for her; a plate, one of the good china ones, silver cutlery, a crystal wine glass half-filled with a pale white wine. He pulled out the stool and waited beside it.
A flash of guilt swept through Idira. Through her numbness, grief and despair, a tiny spark of light glimmered. Ryback felt sorry for her, and was doing the one thing he could to comfort her. She found a weak smile for him and followed him to the table, sinking down onto the stool with a murmur of thanks. She picked up her linen napkin, noticing he had prepared a beautiful plate for her, laid out so pretty it almost looked like art.
'It looks lovely,' Idira said, quiet, as she cut into the fish, delicate cream sauce oozing out from its tender flesh. She brought the meat to her lips, sighing as the complex flavours of several rare herbs burst onto her tongue. She took her time eating, savouring every delicious bite. The last time she had eaten this well had been years ago, when VanCleef still lived at the house in Moonbrook and the money had been pouring in.
She looked up as she sipped from the wine glass. A very good wine, robust, but light, with hints of oak—definitely not the kind of vintage The Pig and Whistle kept in its cellar. Ryback watched her, surreptitious, from the stool by the fire, where he feigned a deep interest in turning the spit.
'Your talents are wasted here,' Idira said, and she meant it.
He quirked an eyebrow, a flash of pleasure lighting up his face, but said nothing.
She finished the food and got up, carrying the wine glass with her to stand beside Ryback, the heat of the fire making her skin itch. 'Thank you,' she said.
Ryback nodded, keeping his eyes on the roasting pig. 'The least I could do,' he muttered, gruff. He got up. 'Can you keep an eye on this for me for a minute?' he asked, glancing at the sweating carcass.
Idira nodded and took his place, turning the handle of the spit, slow, just like he'd trained her to. He went down the stairs to the cellar. A key in a lock, followed by a door creaking open, several heartbeats passed before the door slammed shut, and the key turned once more. He came back up, his boots creaking against the worn wooden planks of the staircase. He stopped in front of her and held out a crisp white envelope, sealed with a blob of gold wax, the impression of a thistle stamped upon it.
'Logan asked me to give this to you once he left for the fight at the Broken Shore,' he said. His gaze flicked to hers, then away, uncomfortable. When she didn't take it right away, he gestured for her to move so he could resume his position at the spit. She got up, and took the envelope from him as they traded places, wondering what Logan could possibly have to say in a letter after all the things he had already confided to her in the night. She turned it over, curious.
'You might be wanting to take that somewhere more private,' Ryback murmured from behind her.
'You know what's inside?' Idira asked turning, surprised.
Ryback nodded. 'Logan and me, we go back a bit. Used to fight alongside him when he was just starting out. Got discharged for having lied a bit on my application,' he shrugged. 'Well, that part don't matter. Anyway, Logan never forgot about me. It's the only real reason he kept coming here to drink you know, even after he was promoted to Commander and became way too important to be hanging out in this dump.'
Idira digested this new piece of information, cautious.
'So, what's in it?'
Ryback eyed her for a beat, then turned back to the spit. Keeping his expression carefully neutral, he answered. 'Your ticket out of here.'
Logan had left her four-thousand-two-hundred-thirty-five gold, the incredible amount written out in florid script across a gilded banknote drawn on the Royal Bank of Stormwind. In the privacy of her room, she stared at the note, unable to comprehend the enormity of his gift.
She turned her attention to the letter he had written, tucked into the envelope behind the folded bank note. She bit her lip, hesitating, bracing herself before reading his final words, sensing he was going to break her heart all over again.
I have never forgotten the night the Legion came to Westfall, and what your Light did to them. I admit I went to you harbouring a long cherished hope I might live with you in an apartment of our own in Stormwind, but after I saw what you could do I knew it was a fantasy, that it would never be. Whoever you really are, and whatever power you contain is clearly meant for a very great purpose, and I think that purpose might just be to fight against the Legion.
Being a soldier, I don't know much about magic, but this much I can be certain of: with your Light there can only be one place for you. You must travel to Dalaran and apply to become an apprentice in the arcane school of magic presided over by the Kirin Tor. I am sure they will be thrilled to have you in their ranks. Perhaps one day, with power like yours, you might even become an Archmage, and stand alongside Khadgar and the Council of Six.
Anyway, I did a little asking around, and was told the application fee is four thousand gold, so there is enough here to pay your way in, plus a little left over for some nice new things to wear, and of course, some books. I know how much you like those.
Be well, dear, sweet Idira. As I close my eyes for the final time on those Legion infested shores, my last thoughts will be of you; your beautiful face filling my mind as I travel to the Nether to begin the long wait to start again. Perhaps in another life you will be mine. I can wait. No problem.
Her throat tight, Idira stared at his final declaration of undying love, grief striking her afresh. 'Logan,' she cried out, sobbing. 'Logan . . .'
She crawled onto the bed and curled into a ball, grieving for the man who waited, stoic, on one of Stormwind's juggernauts as it raced to another shore, ready and willing to sacrifice his life so she and hundreds of thousands of others could continue to live. Holding his letter against her heart, she wept until she could weep no more.