42nd Day of Spring
After a few more days and having grown tired of the cries of pain and war from across the hills, I found that my stomach had finally settled over the thought of heading back north. I didn't set out from my home to keep safe and comfy in other places; I set out to see the world. After just over a week of hard travel, I reached the edge of Tirisfal Glades. The area known now as the Western Plaguelands was not as foul as it had first appeared. There is green there, there are trees. There is death, too, but it is only the remnants of the past, and I have to remind myself of that. The land is healing. But I did pass through with some initial hesitation. There was a battle taking place there, over the city of Andorhal. I decided to stay clear of it, given the feeling of dread that I couldn't shake while staying there. I did visit the northern village of Hearthglen, and found it to be far more homely, even if it was overly Human.
But Tirisfal Glades wasn't my ultimate goal when heading back north. It was to set foot back into Darrowmere Forest - the Eastern Plaguelands. It was where I ended up after exiting Thalassian Pass, and it shocked me and broke my heart more than I thought possible. My view of the place was tainted by expectations of beauty beyond the sadness of the Ghostlands. I wasn't ready for what I saw at that point, but I was ready for it this time.
I crossed the Thondroril River and entered Darrowmere Forest. I was surprised to find - of all creatures - a gypsy Worgen with her caravan as soon as I stepped off of the bridge. She was pleasant enough - surprisingly so, in fact - and I ended up travelling with her and her two companions through most of that region. They were an odd group, but it was the two Paladins - a Sin'dorei and a Dwarf - who contributed the most strangeness. At first I found them childish, but I grew rather fond of them both over time - particularly Tarenar. The three of them truly brightened my trip, and I'm able to look back upon it with some degree of fondness.
But only a slight amount.
Despite the laughs and pleasant company, I still could not ignore the utter death of that land. There were more large bats - one larger than I ever thought possible - and more vicious and organised Scourge than I have seen since Arthas himself led them through Quel'Thalas. The whole place is riddled with sadness, and survivors of the Third War look upon what was once their home with such sadness that it breaks my heart. But there's little that can be done to bring back the dead. Or little that should be done.
The city of Stratholme still burns, even today, even after fifteen years or so. You can see the smoke and reddened sky from most of the Argent look-out towers right across the region. There is nothing good in this place at all, except the green patches of grass that have sprouted up around the very same towers of the Argent Crusade. But that alone gives me hope that one day this sickness will pass, and that the land can be healed.
I'm eager to leave and move south, and part of that eagerness does stem from the poor health of this place, but I won't be leaving it without hope. I'm certain that it will bloom again, and the stink of death and decay (how can these people stand it?) will be replaced with the scent of pines and flowers once more.
-- Atherya Sunleaf