The Essence of it All
By Christopher Frank
The activity outside the orphanage in Stormwind city was at its usual mid-day fervor. Children of all sizes and ages frolicked in the courtyard, chasing each other about and screaming in delight as they played in the warm spring sunshine. It had been a hard winter and a difficult one emotionally. The scars of war and loss still ran deep with many of the residents of the orphanage. Though their differing personalities sometimes clashed, the kids were glad to have each other to lean on when the memories of horrors they had seen visited them in the dark of night.
The large wooden door of the orphanage’s front portico eased open on well-oiled hinges and Matron Saunderson stepped out from the dimly lit foyer, taking a moment to shade her eyes from the bright daylight with both hands upon her brow. Though the matron was a woman of only thirty-five years of age, she appeared much older. A sign of the toils her job had entailed. Quickly, she placed a wide-brimmed hat upon her head and adjusted it to hide her gray-blonde hair which had been done up in a tight bun. She smoothed out her faded green robe and stepped out into the courtyard proper to survey the situation and take a mental account of the children at play. Once that had been done, she turned her attention to the guest she had come out to greet in the first place. A tall, statuesque female night elf stood at the bottom of the short flight of steps watching the children with a bemused and sincere smile. Her deep-violet hair was pulled back in a loose pony tail and she wore an eclectic variety of clothing. In her right hand, the elf clutched an ornate wooden staff that flanged out towards the top almost like a hooded-snake.
“Mistress Amanta,” the matron said in greeting. The elf turned, grinning and spread her arms wide to embrace the matron.
“Emma! How good it is to see you again.”
The women embraced each other warmly and held each other’s forearms for a moment as they exchanged their greetings. The matron straightened perceptibly and almost seemed to grow younger in the presence of her friend. “I must say,” the matron stated, “That I was pleasantly surprised to hear you had called upon us. The heralds have been telling tales of the House of Amber campaigning against the power of the Lord of the Blackrock! Ever so far do your travels take you!”
Amanta smiled warmly yet again and replied, “Most of the House is still out there in the Burning Steppes right now.” This piece of news caused the matron to hide a startled gasp behind one of her hands. “They’re safe enough,” Amanta assured her. “But a few of us have returned to Stormwind to acquire supplies to continue our efforts.” Amanta withdrew her hands and began rummaging in a satchel that hung from her shoulder. “Also… In our travels…” Amanta withdrew her hand from her satchel and handed a carefully bundled leather pouch to the matron. “We found this and wanted you to have it.”
The matron carefully unwrapped the unexpected gift, only to quickly cover it back up and jam it quickly into Amanta’s hands upon glimpsing the present for the first time. “Amanta! There’s no possible way I could accept that!”
Amanta gently took her friend’s hand and placed the gift upon the palm, carefully wrapping the woman’s fingers around it. “You know the soft-spot the House has in its heart for this place. Calardren and Tulock would not let me rest until they knew this was in your possession. If you need to make use of it, I recommend the shop on Westcreek Street for he gives the best prices.”
The matron pressed her lips together tightly in an attempt to staunch the flow of emotion that was welling up inside her. “You are too much, girl. You and that lot of yours. I know not where we’d be without you all.”
“And we know not where these children would be without you, Emma,” Amanta replied softly. Quickly she looked around and then said, “I must be off. Our route back to the rest of the House can only be sustained for so long before a much… longer … trip is necessary.”
“Blessings to you and yours, Amanta. Give them all my thanks.” The two embraced again and as they separated, the matron stated, “I’ll walk you to the Square.” And with that, the two set off casually across the orphanage’s courtyard.
“Now who is that?” Amanta inquired, pausing by the main gate of the orphanage’s estate. The matron looked along Amanta’s sightline and spied the young girl in question. She sat quietly in the corner of the courtyard under the shade of a large tree alone with her thoughts. She seemed to be holding something in her hands; but Amanta could not tell what it was.
The matron’s face softened with a touch of sadness. “Her name is Morgan. Newly arrived from Westfall, she is. Parents dared to strike out a new farm there but the Defias are never gone for long. Someone always wipes ‘em all out, but they come back. Hiding in the shadows like the serpents they are. She was all we could find alive on the homestead. They brought her to me only a ten-day ago. Poor dear’s still in shock, I’d say.”
Amanta frowned and quickly changed her course of travel to head towards the girl. Gently she padded up to the child and settled down next to her. “Hello,” Amanta said.
The girl, who could have been no more than nine years old, snapped out of her reverie and angled her vivid green eyes up at the night elf sitting next to her. Her eyes widened in surprise, obviously having never met a night elf in person before and quickly she shrunk away in fright. Amanta soothed her gently and smiled her warmest smile. “It’s okay, little one. You are safe.” She held out her hand to the child and said, “My name is Amanta.” She held her hand steadily in front of the girl, waiting patiently. Something about the night elf broke down the child’s barriers and tentatively Morgan held out her hand in return and grasped Amanta’s fingers. They shook hands slowly and Amanta’s smile broadened. With her free hand, she reached out and brushed a lock of Morgan’s fair hair aside from her face and said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” But something caught Amanta’s attention and she looked down into the child’s lap. “Now what do you have there?”
Morgan retreated a little, hiding the item that rested upon her lap. Amanta reassured her calmly and said, “You hold on to it, I only want to look at it.” Cautiously, the little girl removed one hand and held up what appeared to be no mere rock; but one that glistened and was warm to the touch. Amanta gasped softly and said, “Oh what a treasure you have there.” The little girl looked down and said with soft voice, “My daddy gave it to me.”
“Your daddy was a farmer, yes?” Amanta asked and Morgan nodded in confirmation. “Well then he must have been a great farmer for only someone truly in harmony with the land would be able to take this from their fields. This… this is essence of the earth itself.” Morgan blinked a little as she took that in, processing the information in her mind. She smiled. Probably the first genuine smile she’d shown in quite a while and said, “Thank you for saying nice things about my daddy.”
“You’re very welcome, Morgan,” Amanta replied. “Now I don’t have to tell you how important it is to protect that, do I?” With that, Morgan shook her head vigorously. Amanta continued, “For that is a very powerful item you have there. There is much you can do with that, much you can draw from it.”
“But Miss Amanta… it’s just a rock.”
Amanta grinned and said, “Oh Morgan, it is so much more than just a rock. If you know how to talk to it, it can be anything you ever would need.” She held out her hand, “Here… I’ll show you.”
Tentatively, the little girl handed the essence of earth to Amanta and watched. Amanta settled herself upon the ground and concentrated upon that which was in her hand. She quickly covered the essence with her other hand and twisted her hand as if she were removing the cap off of a jar and pulled her hand away. The rock shimmered for a moment and then transformed itself into a floating globe of liquid. “Earth can become water.” Morgan gasped in shock. The young girl’s eyes widened in surprise while Amanta continued, holding the globe up to her lips and began to blow on it. The globe of water quivered for a moment and suddenly transformed into a small tornado of air hovering over Amanta’s palm. “Water can become air…” Amanta then pressed her hands together and began rubbing them together feverishly. When she let go, the tornado sparked and burst into flame. “Air can become fire…” Gently, she blew breath upon the flame. It flickered slightly and then started to dim. As it went out, it turned to ash and the ash collected in Amanta’s palm… solidifying into the original shimmering rock. “And fire returns to earth.” She handed the stone back to the little girl and smiled. “You have magic in your hands, little one. Protect it. Nurture it. Respect it. With that you can change the world.”
Amanta leaned over and kissed Morgan on the top of her head. “Ande’thoras-ethil, little one.” Amanta eased back to a kneeling position and prepared to get up; but was promptly knocked over as Morgan flung herself at the night elf, wrapping her little arms around Amanta’s neck. “Please don’t go, Amanta,” Morgan pleaded. “I don’t want to be alone anymore.”
Matron Saunderson, who had been watching this exchange intently, clasped her hands to her mouth. “Oh Morgan,” said Amanta, “You’re so very not alone.” She lifted herself to a sitting position and continued to hug the little girl. “Do you see Matron here?” Morgan nodded. “She is a very very good friend of mine; and she is going to do whatever she can to take very very good care of you.” Amanta hugged the little girl tightly once again and added, “And when I am done with my work, I will come back to visit with you properly.”
Morgan looked up at Amanta with slightly saddened eyes. “Do you promise?”
Amanta smiled warmly and nodded. “I give you my word that I will see you again very soon.”
Morgan nodded, apparently approving of the oath and released Amanta from her clinging grasp. Amanta got to her feet and said, “Now I really must be going. Deeds to do and such.” And with that, Amanta turned and passed through the gates of the orphanage.
Seasons would come and go and the years would pass into historians’ books. Morgan found herself one evening gazing out over the rooftops of Stormwind City from the balcony of her tower. Her sapphire blue robes billowed gently in the evening breezes. A young girl stood next to her, sharing in the view; but straining to determine what it could be that Morgan herself was looking at.
“Mistress,” the girl asked. “I’m sorry to interrupt your thinkin’ but I’ve been dying to ask why you called for me.”
Morgan smiled and replied, “Because a long time ago… I won’t say ‘very’ just yet… but a long time ago nonetheless, when I was about your age, someone took the time to see something in me that I couldn’t see myself. She unlocked so many doors for me that day and taught me so much. The time has come for me to pass that on and I will be most pleased if you would allow me to teach you, Palisara.”
The girl, her red hair whipping in the breeze as it picked up speed, cocked her head to one side not completely understanding. “I’m a good student, ma’am,” Palisara observed. “I know my sums and I can list off the kings and queens of Stormwind.”
Morgan chuckled, with a bemused smile playing across her lips. “An excellent start, little one.” Morgan stifled a giggle and then redirected her focus. “But not quite what I had in mind. I’m speaking of magic.” And with that the girl’s eyes widened and she gasped. “Oh yes, Palisara. For there is magic in everything.” She held her hand up into the wind and seemed to cup the very sky. Gently she pulled her hand back towards her. A small whirling tornado settled within the cup of her hand. “There is magic in the air… and the air…” she pursed her lips and blew gently upon the zephyr in her hand. It trembled and sparked to life becoming a brilliant flame. “can become fire.” Palisara gasped once again as Morgan turned and placed the fire in a sconce behind her, illuminating the balcony properly. “And there is magic in you.”
“How did you do that?” the girl asked with an awe-struck voice.Morgan smiled. “It is something my shan’do taught me once. And I shall teach you… and together we’ll shed a little more light around the world.” She rested her hand on Palisara’s shoulder. “What do you say?”