Apollina Lightfoot bent down to the river and scooped some water up with her hand. The water was clear and she could see small mudsnappers swimming in the shallows. The cool water felt like ice in her throat, her body was so hot from the sun and the ride through the dark forest. She sat back on the bank and looked over at her horse, a bright black stallion who was also eagerly drinking from the river, his reins resting in her hand.
Her travel cloak was grubby and slaked in dry mud. Underneath, the thin cloth garments she’d set out that morning in were reasonably clean but as she inspected herself she realised there was definitely a certain, aroma, arising from her person. She certainly couldn’t return to the Cathedral in this state. They were on the outskirts of Elwynn Forest, looking back across the river to Duskwood, where they had been that morning. The two forests contrasted so strongly that Apollina pondered how they could still be in the same continent. She’d heard tales of great forests in Kalimdor but since she’d never travelled outside the Eastern Kingdoms, she had nothing to compare it too.
Darkshire’s surroundings were just as the town’s name suggested, dark and foreboding. The sense of ‘wrong’ in the area had over-powered Apollina at first and she wondered how any priest had ever got any work done in the town. The townspeople themselves seemed to be divided into two camps, the strong watchers, who fought to protect the town and the meeker citizens who Apollina had found rather disturbing. They had no faith! They blathered on about monsters in the woods, wild worgs, giant spiders and even a stitched abomination and Apollina couldn’t take their stories seriously, I mean who’d ever heard of such nonsense?!
Apollina knew that she’d been sent to work in the town for a reason and she’d dutifully carried out her job, healing those who came though looking for rest and reparation, tending to the weak in the town itself and leading the services over the holiday festivities but she couldn’t pretend that she wasn’t happy to have received the Archbishops call to return to the capital and continue her training. Darkshire was grim, grey and permanently cloudy or rainy. Not a jot like the soft green hills and forests of Elwynn which glowed emerald green in sun or rain and brought forth new life every spring. Nothing like the blue grey splendour of Stormwind. Apollina felt pride welling in her chest as she thought of the human, nay, Alliance, capital city. To be able to call it her home pleased her greatly for humans truly were the race of the Kings of Azeroth.
Realising she was hungry, she tugged her travel bag out from under the cloak and delved into it. Crab cakes from the inn at Darkshire and stale bread washed down with a slug or two of warmish milk. Not the best tasting lunch she’d ever had but sustenance none the less. Coal, the stallion, was chomping happily on the grass at the edge of the river, the sweat from his hard morning’s ride beginning to dry on his neck.
Apollina looked fervently around. It was a very hot day now but she shouldn’t be seen without her full acolytes uniform on, even this far from the cathedral. But really, there wasn’t anyone around, who would be passing this peaceful river bank anyway? She peeled off her boots and stockings, ignoring the rather pungent smell, and dipped her bare feet in the river. They continued to rest for a while. Apollina lost in her thoughts and enjoying the sunshine on her face and the lapping of water on her ankles.
She thought about the Light, about Archbishop Benedictus, about the stories he told of Alonsus Faol and the history of the Church of Light. She shook out her blonde hair and made to rise, bringing herself out of her reverie for all the great and the good. She thought back to her childhood. No, we're not thinking about that today, it is not a day to remember that stinking pitiful hole and sorry excuse for a mother. Splashing the cool water of the river on her face, she cleared her head and reached for her stockings and boots and leant on Coal to put them back on. She wouldn't think about that pathetic room, the smell, the dirt or the noises from the rooms around her. She wouldn't think about the lack of a father. She wouldn't think about it and she would never speak of it.