Time passed slowly in these final hours. The occupants of the other cells of the jail had long since fallen asleep, leaving Maeorra alone with her thoughts. Some of these were fleeting; others played over and over in her head. The faces of those she’d killed seemed to stare at her from the darkness of the poorly-lit cell block. These were blank, expressionless, not even accusing or questioning. They simply stared at her. The accusing stares came when her mind’s eye then beheld the faces their family and friends, some of whom had been unable to restrain themselves from outbursts in the courtroom. And these, in their own time, gave way to the cool, steady gaze of the panel of judges as their chief rendered their decision.
Death. There was no room for leniency in such a terrible crime, they’d said. There was no choice but to condemn her. There might have been, she told herself silently, if you hadn’t been so bloody stupid. But such thoughts were useless. The jug had been smashed through carelessness, and no amount of regret could mend it.
Hoof-falls heralded the approach of one of the guards. He held his torch aloft towards the cell, casting a warm light upon her.
"It is time."
It was a fairly short ride out of the city. Talbuks carried the small party of Draenei away from Shattrath, the Aldori guards clad in fine, shining armor draped with the purple colors of their order. One of them, larger and stronger than the others, wore a full-faced helm, and carried an elegantly-curved axe that was clearly very old. It looked heavy.
The sky had already begun to grow light over the blue-green leaves of the trees that shaded the landscape of Terrokar, the purples and blues of first light creeping steadily westward as the reds and oranges of daylight advanced. The chirping of the night’s crickets steadily faded away as they traveled, replaced by the calls of songbirds and the occasional snort from the talbuks. The party rode up a long, gently rising hillside to a rocky outcropping that dominated the surrounding area. From here, a few dozen yards above the forest floor, the tops of the trees were mostly visible, along with the gleaming spire of light that pierced skyward from the center of Shattrath, which loomed in the distance. To the east, the first rays of sunlight spilled over the clouds that blanketed the horizon.
"Well. Here we are. Let’s get to it." The helmeted figure grunted. He said it very matter-of-factly, with no hostility, no pity, no scorn, no hesitation in his voice.
"We need to cut your hair. Hold still," one of the others said, even as he draw a crystaline sword from its sheath with one hand and reached out with the other towards the dull strands of snowy hair that draped down to between Maeorra’s shoulderblades. It almost sounded ridiculous, but she knew the purpose was to ensure a clean killing strike. She made no reply, but nodded, and then went still, as he had requested. Deftly, he sheared away the hair in fistfuls , shortening it sufficiently to uncover the ash-colored skin of her neck.
"Easiest if you kneel." The man in the helm rumbled at her.
"Give me a moment," Maeorra replied. She stared out from the stony top, taking in the view. The sun crept slowly upward, now wholly visible over the clouds, casting its golden glow upon everything it touched. It was a beautiful sight. She closed her eyes; the faces of her comrades that she’d seen a few hours before, mostly in tears or struggling to hold back tears, were now the only thing she could see. She heaved a sigh, and forced the images away.
In their place, she drew upon recollections of their smiles and laughter, of moments far more dear. I love you all. And I am sorry. But you’ll be alright. I love you all. She smiled, and drew a slow, deep breath of the fresh morning air.
"Alright. I’m ready."
Maeorra knelt, facing the slowly rising sun. A gentle breeze rustled the leaves of the treetops below as she felt the warmness of the morning’s light upon her face. There was the sound of a deep breath being drawn behind her, followed by a whooshing as she looked out across the landscape. Immediately after came a sharp, cool bite at the back of her neck.
And then there was nothing.