"Sister Is Another Word For Always" is a short story by Catherynne M. Valente published in the anthology Folk & Fairy Tales of Azeroth. It is illustrated by Zoltan Boros. The story tells of an attempt by Vereesa Windrunner to save the soul of her sister Sylvanas Windrunner.
When Sylvanas died at the hands of Arthas, Vereesa felt her death immediately though she was far away. Vereesa termed herself the "Sister of Sorrow" due to the pain of having lost all her family, the last of which was the "Sister of Courage" because she died confronting Arthas and defending her people.
Vereesa has a flashback of their childhood: Sylvanas wearing a crown of white roses and bloodthistle, they catch and release a fish, and Sylvanas places the crown on Vereesa's head.
In her despair she wanders the world, eventually coming upon a gate of black glass with two statues of elves: one statue labeled "Regret" staring westward with ivy and chestnut burrs in her hair, the other labeled "Acceptance" staring eastward with short neat curls with a resolute expression. A kyrian watcher appears, named Elomia, but her face was the same as the elven statue named Acceptance.
Because Vereesa did not try to coerce, threaten, or argue with her, but only offered her pain and grief, Elomia grants Vereesa a favor. If Vereesa can bring the soul of Sylvanas to her from where she is, she will be revived on one condition: she cannot touch her at all, not even a strand of hair.
First she travels through a dense forest of giant trees, giant stags, creatures with great wings and furry legs, and more. Vereesa felt this was where Sylvanas was supposed to be, but she was not there.
The ground opened up, screams issuing from the chasm, and she fell into a land of gray and red dirt with spires of rock the color of bruises. The realm was empty save for a fortress to the east. Vereesa did not understand why Sylvanas was here. She tries asking the denizens of the land: the shades responded there is no courage beyond the curtain of fear, the stones responded there is no courage beyond the mask of virtue, and sky responded there is no courage beyond the shield of hope.
Then the Banished One appeared. Vereesa asked him if her sister is there. He responded, "Not yet." She remarks she also has a hole in her chest. He responds, "Everyone does. It is only that mine is easy to see." He tells her to leave, mocking her for trying to find her family, because family is only those people who can hurt you the most.
He makes the fragment of Sylvanas appear from Gorgoa, and she helps the soul out of the river using her cloak. But the Banished One blocked their exit. Vereesa tries to fight him, but he tries to hurt Sylvanas, and Vereesa pulls her back to save her, failing in her task. He reveals he gave her the chance to watch her fail, to teach Sylvanas that family always fails you.
Sylvanas turns into a crystal and goes to the Jailer while Vereesa is pulled back to reality, accepting the loss of her sister and losing the memory of this encounter.
- The theme of the story resembles the story of Orpheus and Eurydice with an element of the crown of thorns.