A Light Bound Tome: The Journal of Padija Ravalta, pages 1-5 (WoW)
I remember a song my father once sang to my sister and I, out of all my memories of him, it is the one that shines brighter than the rest. The song was about a woman, battered and beaten by life who found solace with a simple man. When she healed, she departed not knowing yet what she had left behind. In time, the woman would return to the simple man and together they would die having known true happiness.
From a young age, I had chosen my path. While my parents had wished for me to return to Quel’thalas and become a magistrix, that would not be my path. My love of the blade lead me to become part of Lordaeron’s guard. In watching my sister grow into a woman of beauty and harmony, flying from one bad relation to the next, I saw her as the character in our fathers song. When her addictions took hold and her life began to unravel, I still hoped. After our parents died, I began to hear the lies. It was then I knew she was not that character. I knew she was lost. And as simply as she had lied about her family, I began to forget her.
I didn’t mean to forget her. The Scourge was ravaging Lordaeron, my training in the ways of the Light had become a thing of near dire importance. Dealing with the drama of a wayward and dust addicted sibling was the last thing I could deal with.
I never thought of myself as the character in my fathers song. I never expected to live as long as I have. Dreams of a family or a home were just that, they were never a hope or even a goal. I buried one husband, survived when many of my comrades did not and sought to advocate the retaking of Lordaeron. The idea of us sitting at Sylvana’s doorstep and doing nothing infuriated me. Still does, but that’s neither here nor there.
When I was informed of my sisters death, I was in Silvermoon City. I passed a man reading the Gadgetzan Times on a bench and one of the article headlines at the bottom of the page caught my eye. He was kind enough to let me read the article and kind enough to lend an ear when my expression portrayed the loss and shock I felt.
My sister was dead, murdered in Zuldazar and here I was speaking with the man who would become my husband. I didn’t know that he would be my husband then, I wasn’t even sure if I liked him. But, I was grateful. My home was gone, my war was over, and the last of my family had died. It wasn’t grief that consumed me in that moment, it was hope and the desire to lend aide to what I still had. My race. If it wasn’t for the man holding that paper, I doubt I’d have felt even that.
While he was anything but charming, I continued to return to Silvermoon to find him for further conversation. Through a new threat to Azeroth, I joined with the Argent Crusade in fighting alongside the Earthen Ring and he with his Dominion, we still made time to talk. During one of these conversations, I realized that he was the simple man and I was the character in my fathers song.
I would never leave him. I would, however, watch his ship sink. And believe without hope that I was twice-widowed. It was then that I allowed the lonliness of grief to sink in and sent myself back to the icy wastes of Icecrown. There were still remnants of the Scourge there to clean up and part of me hoped that it was in seeking out these rogue elements that I would find my end.
That end came in an unexpected way. The simple man returned to me, having survived the sinking of his ship, he knew to find me in the horrid cold. He also knew to bring me out of the cold. Our days of walking different roads were done. The time for us to walk together for ourselves and for our people has come.
You, the child that grows inside of me, is the reason for that beyond the love your father and I share. It is for you that I have begun keeping this tome. It is in hope that story my father once sung to my sister and I will not be lost and you will carry it and the experiences of your parents with you. Perhaps we will guide in the form of memory.
Perhaps you will read this tome to your children and add your own story to it.
As Sin’dorei, we live long lives. When you see what the Third War did to our race, it’s hard to believe at times. There hasn’t been time to breathe in between our battles and so we continue to forget that rebuilding, includes reproducing. Our minds are clouded with the importance of making our nation self-sustaining and independent. They are clouded with the memories of what we lost.
As we venture further and further into areas of Azeroth that were hidden from us for thousands of years, we are finding that the battles we believed to be all encompassing were not. We’re finding that there can be peace, even if that peace is only peace of mind.
That peace of mind is more important than many are giving credit. It can teach us that we do not need wage senseless acts of violence, that our negative emotions can and will destroy us. They are teaching us the lessons of the past once more and that the things our people sought after to gain power, will only lead us to relive the past again… and again.
It wasn’t long ago that we, the people of Azeroth as a whole, discovered an island that for longer than living memory can recall, had been hidden by mists. Without the influences of the Sundering, the Legion, the Scourge, the people who live there, the Pandaren, fought their own battles. In fighting those battles, they learned in enlightenment of emotion in order to survive. That same enlightenment was brought to Lordaeron when I was younger woman and while I do not know what the Pandaren call their practice, mine is called the Light.
Through compassion, tenacity and respect, the Light blesses us. Through our love and grace, it gives us power. And it gives us the peace of mind that many now find in Pandaria. I found it there. For years, I struggled with dreams that would make me awaken covered in sweat and screaming. For years, I carried the memory of the dead in my heart as if I was an eternal pallbearer for them. Between the weight and the dreams, I lost my power. I lost my way in the awe found within Light’s path.
Your father sought to remind me among the many changes he consistently tried to impose upon me, always trying to make me more like him. But his way is the opposite of my own and his words could not guide me back to the ways I had learned originally. As the people beyond the mists teach us, enlightenment and the cleansing of the soul is something personal, something you must be able to teach yourself. It is a journey we take alone.
And it’s a journey your father must take now if you are to know him as a father at all. The magic he practices has influenced him, it has changed him and it controls him. He will and has denied it, but when the people around him and closest to him become objects of manipulation no different than the literal demons he turns to, then he has become the very thing that has wrecked so much havoc in the past.
I hope that he will find the peace of mind that so many have. I hope that you will know him. But should his magics continue to guide him towards the pit of the Legion, know this, child. Your father was once a good man who did more than most to secure a future for our nation. I hope that you are blessed with the same intelligence, curiosity and thirst for knowledge that he had.
The Ravalta family was among the first to settle in Quel’thalas, their history resides in the soil and in the air of this country. When you walk through the graveyard of the Ravalta estate you will see that the first headstones were carved in Darnassian, the script is worn down by time and had the headstones not been replaced over time, that would be a forgotten history.
It is only my history by marriage. The Starsong may or may not have resided in Quel’thalas at some time, we did business there, but as far as I know, which is only back to my grandparents, we lived in Lordaeron. I can’t tell you why, I never knew the parents of my parents. My parents remained there because business was good to us in the Capital City. As I’ve written in the past, they wished to send me to Silvermoon when I was young. As a child, I was terrified of that prospect. I didn’t know the city, I didn’t know anyone there.
A hundred and some odd years later, I wonder if my child self didn’t have a base for that fear beyond that of change. I have spent less than a year as a true citizen of Quel’thalas and I understand less of its politics now than I did when I first began coming here on a regular basis. I understand less of the culture. I have met other Sin’dorei who are truly paragons of their people and I have faced some of the most callous, who seem to have the sole purpose of undermining the rebuilding a stronger nation for our future.
These… I don’t even have a word for them, what they call themselves is Inquisitors. Their purpose seems to be planting hatred among us. To weed out those who don’t uphold their personal definition of an upstanding citizen. One of them called me a traitor, and in your life, I’m sure you’ll hear me called such. There is no doubt that I am one in their eyes, but I am not one to care of they ever learn of my reasons.
I am no traitor. I do not support the Alliance, nor do I support the Horde. I support Quel’thalas. In the near two hundred years I spent with humans and all races of Azeroth I have learned that we all have strengths. Those individual strengths fill in for the weakness we all share. I have learned that as a unified world we are far stronger. This does not mean that I will not fight to defend our nation and our people, it means that I will not spit and turn my back on those different than us. We can all learn from each other and more importantly, from the mistakes and triumphs of the past.
As a world unified, we defeated the Burning Legion. As a world unified, we defeated the Scourge.
As a world torn asunder by civil war? We destroy each other and more importantly, we destroy the world we call home. The Forsaken use the very plague that ravaged the Eastern Kingdoms as a weapon, it not only destroys lives in the most inhumane and reprehensible way but it destroys the land. The Sunreavers detonated a mana bomb on Theramore, destroying both the land and countless lives. For what?
When Deathwing awoke and tore the world asunder in the Catacylsm, we fought each other while trying to stop the Twilight’s Hammer from bringing forth the Old Gods. Had it not been for the Earthen Ring and other such organizations comprised of people who care more for unification and neutrality than this civil war, we’d no longer be alive or we’d be living on Draenor.
I am called a traitor because my best friend is a human woman. An Argent Crusader and a fellow daughter of Lordaeron. I knew her when she was a child and I’ve watched her grow into a fine warrior. I am called a traitor because I refuse to hate. If your Aunt Seleukos was to resign from the Crusade and come to Quel’thalas bearing the banner of Stormwind in a manner of warfare, I would be the one to strike her down. I do not doubt that. But I also don’t believe it would ever come to that. I also wouldn’t be telling her information in regards to the state unless it pertained directly to the interests of the Argent Crusade.
I am called a traitor because I understand that one day, there will no longer be a civil war on this world and rather than fight centuries of racism and continuing injustice that would threaten to throw us back into war, I would rather promote unity and understanding.
It was a great man who once said that you cannot hate a people for their actions in a time of war. When the war ends, there must be peace. And for the good of that peace, there must be those of us who advocate it because there will always be a bigger threat just over the horizon.
This is a world of attrition. Never forget that.
There was a time when I considered myself a vanguard, a warrior in the first wave. I took the hits and dodged just as many. My battlefield was a literal one. There was never any room for being squeamish, the heavy boots of the vanguard always walk on ground covered with flesh, bone, blood and viscera. There was never room to care where your sword struck, but a glancing blow meant you had a longer fight and stamina was a precious commodity. Each blow had to be mortal, disabling and fatal.
I will not lie to you, child. My blade is quick and my blows hold power. You cannot be in the battlefield as long as I have and not have a true love for killing. I never longed to feel life leave a body at the end of my sword and I do not miss it, but I am good at it. Even though I’ve stepped off the battlefield to be a mother and to assist your father with his research, my talents have not disappeared.
They have evolved with my choices just as we evolve with our experiences. My battleground is no longer a literal one, but with Inquisitor Thalaron’s accusations against me, it is a figurative one. I will not allow you to grow up hearing that your mother is a traitor when my only true crime was being held in contempt of court. I will not allow your life to be restricted because I stood for what was right against the face of a man driven by fearmongering.
In a few days, I return to that courtroom. I have been granted a retrial to prove my innocence against these charges of treason. The Argent Crusade had granted me two officers I had previously served with as my representatives. I have decided against this course of action. I will be tried as a citizen of Silvermoon and should I be found guilty, I will be prosecuted to the full extent of her law.
The crux of this is, I have broken no law. None punishable by anything other than a fine. Even in the authoritarian state that Quel’thalas has become, contempt is not a crime to be punished by exile. And he has no hard evidence to convict me of treason. There is no evidence of treasonous activity. However, there is evidence of his extremism. And I will not be going into that courtroom unarmed.
My weapons will be truth and honour. A paragon wishing to defend her family, and her people from having to undergo the same treatment he has passed onto so many others before me.
Your father has told many times that I would make a powerful politician and then he sent me as his Ambassador to the Pandaren to aid him in the project he heads for the Dominion. That work has been postponed very temporarily in order to walk onto this battleground. As I said, I’ve turned down the right to representation by the very order I have fought unquestioningly for. I have, for the first time since its founding, fully retired my commission. I no longer have any protections of the Argent Crusade. I am not kept as a reservist, on retainer or in any capacity.
I will come into this battle armed with my conscience. A Sin’dorei standing for herself in the face of injustice.
And should I prove victorious, I promise that this battle will not be the end to the war.
This battle will be the platform I use to enter into the arena of Sin’dorei politics.
And just maybe, I can encourage our people to buy themselves a bit of mercy.
Fifteen years before the lands of Lordaeron could fathom the pain the Scourge would bring upon us, I remember a child of five that followed me from post to post. When my work was done, she would follow me to the door of Starsong Strings. My Minn’da had died a few years previously and my Ann’da would regale this child with songs and sweet treats. Her name was Seleukos D’Aquino. She was the daughter of my commanding officer. To my Ann’da, she reminded him of of the daughter he lost to the throws of addiction and the streets of Silvermoon. To me, she was pest. As children of her age always do, she had a plethora of questions that was more than prepared to rattle off at any given moment. I did not have all the answers and if I did I was not able to answer them all.
When I went to church, she would often sit with me rather than her parents. Always curious as to how a Quel’dorei could have such faith in the Light. She was sure it was a human thing, that I couldn’t possibly understand. I was always kind to remind her that I while I was Quel’dorei, I had been born and raised in the same city she had, with the same people. I always reminded her that faith and belief were not limited by race.
As the years passed, her questions lessoned. My Ann’da would still be requested to perform his songs for her and even taught her to play the lutes he crafted with such great care. His songs, in these later years, would serve as a background to our spars as I taught her that she did not have to be a man to be a formidible opponent. And when the Scourge moved through Lordaeron’s countryside, she was often times by my side. When the Scarlet Crusade demanded I be reprimanded for abandoning my duty by going to aid the people of Quel’thalas, it was she alongside my late husband who stood for me. It was with great pride that I watched a young woman, barely an adult, take her first assignment at the forming of the Dawn.
Had it not been for Seleukos, I’d have died with the bulk of oy regiment at the Wrathgate. And had it not been for me, she’d have met the same fate as we held the line outside of the Citadel.
Now, she is a woman of growing stature, leading so many restoration efforts from her desk in Hearthglen. When I originally retired, she would not allow me to fully resign. This time, she had no choice. We fought over her right to protect me through this trial and in the end, she saw my reasoning. I cannot stop her her from standing with me, but I will not allow her to grant me the protections she holds true.
I cannot stop any from standing with or against me. But I am not raising an army, though it feels as if I am at times. My purpose is to inspire hope, change and aspirations that we can be all that we were, if not better.
Last night, I was reminded of a young Seleukos as well as those aspirations. I was reminded of the faith that I carry with me and draw power from. I saw the changing forms it can take and in many ways, I found a purpose.
A Sunwalker in the Dominion, a Shu’halo named Naralae and I spoke throughout the night of the Light and how it differs between our cultures. The Light, as used by the Sunwalkers is more like the Light I learned, it is a faith and a way of life. A vast difference from what the Sin’dorei have turned the Light into. I believe I surprised her with such devotion to its was and the understanding held. She wishes to work towards helping the Sunwalkers their way, with the youth of their ranks, they are pathfinders. She hopes to make that path more clear. I only hope I can help her in some regard. Like the child who once bombarded me with more questions than I had answers to, I feel I have found a dear and true friend.