Am I dead?
There was a derisive snort to my left. "You ought to be, you dingleberry," said a voice that was comfortingly familiar, even though I had not heard it in years. "They found you in the moat with half your skin burned off. You should be dead seven different ways. Crazy beeish, going up against a dragon with no healer backing you up...."
"Shianti," I whispered. My mouth and throat were dry, so dry, but otherwise I seemed to be all right. Except- "Shianti, I can't see."
I could hear her long ears cut through the air as she shook her head in exasperation. "You dork. You say that every night, and then you forget again. Of course you can't see. It's the middle of the night and you've got bandages on your face. Crazy beeish."
"Bandages....? Every night...? I don't .... remember ...."
"What you expect? You go get half your skin burned off and we not give you many manies of drugs? Is you crazy? You'd be screaming all night long and keep everybody awake. That'd be bad. So we drug you. Keep you quiet. You like."
"David? Bolvar? Are they ....?"
"Yeah, you ask about them every night. Forgetful beeish. They're fine. That man of yours, he hang around all day, but I kick him out at night. He's all mopey. Gets on my nerves. The baby, though, he's adorable. I need a baby. You giefs."
They were safe. Good. The world must not have ended. Also good. Now I just needed to get up, get back into the fight.
"I .... I think I need to rest, Shianti. But tomorrow I'll get up. There must be work to do...."
Shianti snorted again. "You say that every night, you crazy beeish. But yes, you rest now. Is good."
A month later, I got up.
Like me, Stormwind bore the scars of Deathwing's attack. Stone towers heated so hot they were permanently discolored. Gouges where his claws had gripped. And, far below, scorch marks where an idiot paladin had stood and been nearly immolated before making it to the water of the moat.
There was fighting atop Mount Hyjal. The druids were defending the World Tree from Twilight cultists, but the word was they were losing and needed reinforcements. I pushed myself, working to regain my strength. David told me that I should come home to Nowhereshire, that I had done my part and should leave the rest to others. I was a soldier of the Light, though, I told him. The world was still threatened, and with it the lives of everyone I loved. I had to go.
But there was another reason. Although my skin had grown back, greatly helped by the world's healing energies channeled through Shianti, but I was hardly good as new. My right ear was gone, my nose was a flattened, shapeless lump, my mouth permanently twisted in a pained grimace. On much of my face the skin was wrinkled and discolored. I had never been pretty, but now I looked a horror. I knew he still loved me, but I could see it in David's face: he was revolted by my appearance, and simultaneously guilt-ridden for feeling that way. And I wasn't strong enough to come home to that.
Maybe not ever.