The Challenge: Write a short story. I don’t care how short, or what kind of story, or even what form your story takes. BUT… your story, poem, dirty limerick or whatever you choose to do must incorporate within it in some way the following words;
Bearing all this in mind, we present our brief vignette. Required words are bolded :D
The Greatest Reward of All.
Her slender hand wrapped around his, and any words became redundant. Closing his eyes, the past was back where he wanted it, no longer impeding his present. Her skin on his, the warmth of the touch, the simplest of gestures that meant more than anything in the world.
He was home again.
They sit, bodies almost touching, still not ready to make contact anything more complicated than this, and remain in silence as the boat is being unloaded. He is still in his armour, having merely removed his helmet while he almost ran from the jetty to be with her, needing to revel in the sensation of what it was like to not be fighting for his life. He hears her quietly inhale, her body tensing as they carry the first body bag up and out from the hold. Then there is a sob, one of the gathered crowd closer to the quay losing their composure and crying unhindered. The Stormwind Standard draped across the canvas bag ripples and flutters in the early morning breeze, before returning to rest. Even the gulls know this is no time for chatter.
The bells from the Cathedral begin, tolling the cost of Deathwing's demise.
He'll keep his fear hidden for now, the very real understanding he is lucky to return here at all. Wyrmrest is in tatters, the Accord decimated. The few that return from the North with him know just how large the cost has been, what is yet to be counted in this latest blow to the Alliance Forces. There have been too many battles and not nearly enough easy victories in the previous seasons. Salvaging anything positive is a bonus: it has been that way since Arthas fell. He can't even tell her that the Prince of Menethil has been finally put to rest, no-one must ever know who now wears the Crown of the Lich King. Stormwind's greatest hero made the ultimate sacrifice to allow him to be here, to sit by her side, and without him no-one on Azeroth would have been left to assist Thrall in dispatching the errant Aspect of Earth.
He opens his eyes and turns to look at her, face illuminated by the rays of early morning sun.
Her memory had sustained him in the darkest of days, the torch he had carried as inextinguishable illumination. He needed to survive so he could tell her the stories, because he knew she would demand every juicy detail in the telling: no skipping, never any skimping. They would sit in the room above her father's shop talking by candlelight, or by day beside the Canals whist she repaired the never-ending stream of Military clothing with skill and care. She was always listening, never without an insightful response: as sharp as the needles she always carried, the silver shafts with which she plied her craft with such ability and ease. Hidden in his heart, safe from swords and claws, was the understanding that she was all he ever wanted, that her love was the only real defence he needed. He must return to her, to tell these stories. All the rewards, all these achievements were in vain, nothing without someone to share them with.
Without her, he had no meaning at all.
The war in Kalimdor was intensifying, he'd heard the Officers talk of an atrocity in Stonetalon on their return from Northrend. The new enemy was still our oldest foe. At some point, not long from now, it would come back to the Blue Standard against the bloody Red Banner. Us versus Them. The Horde's star was rising, Garrosh's dreams of power becoming less about posturing and more about domination, subjugation. Even the Horde's own people felt the depth of the new Warchief's anger... but for now, the rest of the world could wait.
He closes his eyes again and feels the warmth of her hand in his. This is all he needs to feel complete.
For him, she is all that matters for now.