The Son Returns Home

I’m not entirely sure if this one works. I feel like it doesn’t. I tried to write something with a happy ending for once, and… well. You’ll see. Lemme know if it works or falls flat.

-=-=-

My boots made a decidedly loud thunk when they hit the dock. This was intentional, of course, I had jumped from the side of the ship to produce precisely that sound. A couple dockworkers eyed me with slight suspicion, but I merely smiled at them.

“Good to be home.” I said to them, a stupid grin smeared across my face.

They nodded and returned to their work. I suppose they didn’t get the joke, or maybe they were just being professional? But of course they were. They were military workers, and this was Stormwind Harbor, the most impressive harbor ever constructed by human hands.

A slight breeze tugged at my hair. It is good to be home.

One did not feel breezes in Northrend. The air was either completely still and freezing or it was blowing so hard one could barely stand. And freezing.

Thunk thunk thunk. I love that sound! Solid wood on plated boot heel. So much better than the crunches of permafrost on steel or the snap of bone on steel.

The thunks changed to clomps as I left the dock, walking on stone instead. Stone underfoot. Actual stone. From unsullied quarries.

I stopped.

Stormwind.

I’m… home. I’m actually home.

Years in one Scourge infested wasteland after another. All done. All over. I’m home. Arthas defeated. The Scourge routed. The world safe once again. No wars to go fight, no more battles to lose friends to.

It was unreal. Clomp clomp clomp.

Every corner I turned, every thoroughfare I traversed, I half expected a zombie to snarl at me. A ghoul to leap from the shadows, clawing at my face. A bolt of shadow to rip into me from some unseen caster. But no. Just people, people everywhere, surrounded by people…

Surrounded. No way out, the reek of death clawing at my mind, horrid dead bodies pressing all around me… surrounded… surrounded by a sea of smiling, living faces. Could these faces not smell them? Could they not see? They’re everywhere, they’re… offering me cheese.

Cheese. A woman is offering me some cheese. I fish for some silver coins, but she refuses to take them. “No charge for a lost son of Stormwind.”

Right. I’m a hero. Apparently. I survived. No one survived.

I accept the cheese. I bite into it, and tell the woman that it is good. The woman smiles and leaves me. I haven’t tasted cheese in so long.

Clomp clomp clomp. How many had died? Hundreds of thousands, probably. A hundred of us held the fortress. How many survived? We called for reinforcements. Waited for the cavalry. Surrounded. Why didn’t they come?

My apartment door. Key. I had the key. Click. Darkness. Thunk thunk went my boots.

I had paid well to get wooden flooring installed. Stone was unnatural for me. I had been a sailor for so long, I could hardly stand any other type of flooring. I had served, briefly, on an iron dreadnaught. The metal just was not the same. The landlady had kept the place clean. Dust free. I sat in the darkness.

“Gi’down!” The massive hook would have ripped into my side had I still been standing. The dwarf slapped my back. “Ye gotta be more careful’n that, laddie. Keep yer eyes p-” He never spoke again.

Alright, no, I am not doing this. I had heard stories of the war vets. Broken. Beaten. Suffering delusions and all sorts of horrible psychotic episodes. Not me. Not me. I refuse. I refuse to let that monster haunt me any longer.

He’s dead. He is dead damnit! I watched him die! I was there. I saw it. I saw him die. I heard his last words. Last words.

I heard all the last words. The gurgles. The screams. The quiet whimpering. Not everyone goes to their death holding their head high. Surrounded. Closing in from all sides. I could hear them. The scratching. Claws on stone.

Only five of us left. Sergeant Pepper kept us rallied. Her fiery red hair, once so bright, now tangled and matted with blood and gore. She kept us together. Right to the end. Three more fell. It was just a room. One room. We couldn’t hold. I held her one last time as she bled out. Kissed her one last time before her eyes dimmed.

“Don’t let the bastards take me.” Last words. I held her. Couldn’t hold.

I burned them. I burned my friends. Try and reanimate ash all you want.

I couldn’t burn myself. I tried. Surrounded. I tried to hold them off. Should have gone back for the explosive satchels. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Last words.

I haven’t yet decided whether being able to remember all this is a good thing or not. Most of my companions in the Ebon Blade remember little of their past lives. Me? I can remember it all. Every detail. I am told this is because I never had a chance to decay. I was brought into unlife within seconds of being killed.

I managed to hold on to my memories. I laughed to myself in the darkness. It was a good joke.

Surrounded by the dead. Seething corpses. They were on my side. No. I commanded them. No! They obeyed me, without question. NO!

My sheets were fresh. The landlady must have washed them recently. She had been told of my impending arrival. I wonder, why had she kept my apartment for this long? I had died so many years ago. She must have expected me to return. I had been gone for long voyages before. Sometimes even several months.

That was all behind me. Wasn’t it? No, really, was it?

The last few years had been nothing but war. Now that was over. He was dead. Really dead. Permanently dead in the never coming back sense. I was dead too, yet here I was. Home.

Now what?

I opened my closet. A fishing rod gleamed back at me.

I smiled. I grabbed it, removed it from the closet, replaced it with my much used rune weapon, and closed my closet again.

Once I wielded a blade. I called it Famine. It was hungry all the time you see. None of my fellows had got the joke. Could I put it down? Famine was as much a part of me as my own arms or legs.

Instinctively I clenched my hand, but Famine was there no more. It… wasn’t. At all. I looked at the fishing rod, unused for so long. I smiled at it. I shall fish. I shall take my rod, and I shall cure myself of Famine.

I had replaced Famine with a fishing rod. I laughed again in the darkness. But why stop there?

I replaced my saronite war helm with a straw hat. My heavy breastplate with a poncho my grandmother made me for my twentieth birthday. Loose trousers replaced my plated legs. I kept the boots though.

Thunk thunk. Love that sound.

What’ll we do with a drunken sailor earl-aye in tha morning? Make him watch his friends die, make him burn their corpses, add a dash of suffering and war and revenge, let stew for three years. Serves one, best served cold.

I tried to get the other fishermen to join in, but they didn’t get the joke.

Caught my first fish. This one’s for you, Pepper.

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16 Responses to The Son Returns Home

  1. Markus says:

    Happy ending? Really? The guy is a freaking undead! I think we need to work on your definition of happy ending. lol I like the ironic twist of it though and I do like your writing. Oh, and kudos for the Beatles reference.

    • Euripedes says:

      This is the happiest piece I’ve written so far!
      Well, unless you consider True Hunter a happy piece. That hunter was fairly pleased with himself.

  2. Momome says:

    One of your best pieces I’ve read so far. I can’t imagine PTSD and flashbacks are easy to write but you do it very well. Kudos!

    • Euripedes says:

      The flashbacks in this one were easy to write, but really hard to execute properly.
      I wanted to show that this character was quite obviously shellshocked, so there was significant difficulty in trying to establish a certain amount of narrative flow switching from the present to wartime flashbacks.
      When I read it, it still feels rather choppy to me, but you guys seem to like it, so apparently I succeeded despite my own doubts. Hooray!

  3. Barryhn says:

    love it 🙂

    the slightly morbid humour is very fitting.

    and it is a happy ending, he’s managed to put down the sword, and pick up a fishing rod. For the time being at least.

    a happy ending isn’t always a happy ever after.

    Excellent work

    • Euripedes says:

      Hopefully when cataclysm hits he’ll remember to re-equip Famine before rushing off to level. Imagine how embarrassing that would be.

      On another note, why are the death knights such a humorless lot? You’d think at least a couple of them would be able to tell jokes.

  4. Turiel says:

    Your ending made me think of Tony Stark.

    I felt like all the mentions to inside jokes were directing that this piece is actually a big reference to Iron Man.

    Regardless, I like it.

  5. Armond says:

    You always kill off the chicks! Why do you always kill off the chicks?

    (Ok, except for Recruitment Day. But still!)

  6. Dawnoffire says:

    Very nice. What does a death knight do when he can’t bring death and destruction? He goes fishing of course. The fact that nobody really understands what death knights who can remember their past have gone through is great.

    • Euripedes says:

      It’s a thought that I rolled around for some time.
      What happens during peace time? Peace being relative, I’m sure some classes like warriors or hunters could find work somewhere. Mages would return to their studies, druids and shamans always have duties.
      But Death Knights? Their entire point is the defeat of Arthas.
      So once he’s dead… now what? That question basically fueled this entire story.

      • Oro says:

        A deathknight without battle is like a sailor in a desert, it just doesn’t work. Gladitorial combat seems fitting.

  7. Jujee says:

    I noticed you like writing in short paragraphs, and it’s been effective in conveying action and drawing emotion.

  8. Chawa says:

    I really enjoyed this one. I don’t believe it fell flat at all. The details of Stormwind vs Nothrend were what grabbed me the most and is probably what I appreciated the most at the start. The flashbacks were great – interupting at every turn as they should. I could see this guy fishing next to Nat Pagle one day. Don’t think Nat would get his jokes either sadly.

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