A Dream of the Past
- -by Merlet
(Author's Preface: This story started out as the backstory for Merlet, it has evolved into snapshots, almost like journal entries of her life in Azeroth & The Outlands. It seems disjointed for stories, so look at is more like a journal.)
Western Kalimdor was being torn apart by a gigantic battle. Elves fought side by side against the creatures of the Burning Legion. The ancients of war were deadlocked in battle with infernals, fel hounds and other creatures unidentifiable. Children were being sent to Auberdine in droves. Hurried tearful farewells took place in all of the small villages around western coast and curses were being heaped upon the heads of the traitorous queen Azshara and her Highborn minions. Parents prayed to Elune that their children would make it through and that the guides would be able to steer their children through the dangerous paths to safety.
The identical elf maids moved quietly through the underbrush in the forest, one leading the other. They were dirty and disheveled, their clothing torn in places and covered in mud and soot and their armor had seen better days. Their long white hair was matted and full of twigs and other forest detritus. The only differences between them were the arms they were carrying. One had a small bow slung over her shoulder and a small sword at her side; the other held two daggers in her hands. A tiny striped feline poked its head out of the pack of the girl who had the bow and looked around. The booming sound of a giant something walking by scared the tiny feline back into its cover. The two elves froze and blended into the shadows around them until the sound moved off into the distance and faded. They began creeping through the jungle again.
The lead elf stops at the gentle tug on her clothing and turns quietly to look at her sister.
"Are you sure you remember the way Merlet? It has been a while since you made the trek to Auberdine." She looks around her nervously.
"Aye, Aleya, I remember the way. The forest is my home, I shall lead us through to Auberdine. Once we are away from this battle, we can move a little faster." She sets a hand on her sister’s shoulder and squeezes gently. "I’ll prove to everyone I should be a hunter and see us safely to Auberdine, you’ll see." Nodding silently she turns back around and begins moving through the forest again.
It would be several days journey to the city of Auberdine and until they got there Aleya would be relying upon her to find food and shelter. Shadow, her nightsaber pet, could find food for himself. Once he decided it was safe to come out of her pack. She sighed softly and cursed Azshara again for the horror that they had seen over the last few days. 'Our world will never be the same again.' she thought to herself as she carefully picked her way through the underbrush in the forest.
Hours later, the sounds of battle were gone and had been for sometime when Merlet finally stopped. She sniffed the air and crept towards the rise of the hill to look over. Under her vantage on the hill was a small glen with a stream.
"This will be our camp site for the night. We can fill our water skins and rest here. If you’ll build a fire, I will go get our dinner."
She slid over the crest of the hill and dropped her pack on the ground. Shadow poked his tiny head out and slithered out of the hole in the top of the pack. Aleya joined them on the ground and dropping her own pack set about the makings for a fire. Merlet un-slung her bow and slipped off into the forest.
With a gasp she sat up in bed. Fang and Sasha raised their heads from sleep to look at her concerned. Blinking she runs a hand through her hair shivering. The dream.. It had not haunted her sleep in many a year. She looked down at Caladorn to make sure he was still sleeping and quietly slipped from the bed to walk outside. Behind her Fang and Sasha followed.
Stopping just outside the door she looks up into the night sky as one furry head and one scaled one finds their way under her hands. Reflexively she strokes them as she contemplates the ancient nightmare.
"Why.. why after all of these years does that dream come back. Could it be what that Dwarf wants to poke into? He ought leave such wicked tools of the traitorous Highborn alone. He’ll bring the Burning Legion back down upon us. They splintered the world once, this time they could destroy us."
She stepped forward into the night and found a rock to curl up on. The raptor and the frostsaber curled up beside her, leaning against her, neither understood what was wrong, they only understood that something troubled their companion.
She rode up to the clearing and stopped on the slight rise. Sliding off of her mount, she gave him a gentle scratch on the forehead as she stepped away from him to survey the area. Over the many years since she first stopped here things had changed. The spring from which the stream flowed had dried up, though a path of sorts was still outlined where the stream bed once was. Jumping down from the hill she pulled off her pack and set it down on the ground near where she had set one those many years ago. Rummaging around in her pack, she found wood and the makings for a fire and set about it. In no time at all a small fire was blazing as the shadows extended for the coming night. Dinner for herself, Fang and Snowpaw, her mount, took no time at all. She leaned back against her pack and stared into the firelight as her dinner settled, she let her mind wander.
Struggling with the oversized deer, Merlet finally made it back into the makeshift little camp. A fire was blazing and water boiling on the fire waiting to make a stew for dinner. Aleya sat at the fire sharpening her daggers. She didn’t look up at her sister’s arrival; she just continued sharpening her blades. Merlet sighed and set about making something to smoke meat on. They had few rations, as there had been little time before the mad scramble to leave home to pack much. Not knowing for sure how long it would take them to reach safety it was the only safe bet to make some extra travel rations. With the smoking rack set up she quickly skinned and portioned out the meat, tossing a strip or two to Shadow as he chased bugs around the ground. The meager spices she had with her were doled out for the dried meat and for the stew. As the stew was cooking the drying rack was filled with meat. It wouldn’t take very long for the rations to dry enough for travel.
When the stew was finished Merlet poured it out into bowls and looked at Aleya. Spread out in front of her were three daggers, all sharpened and a fourth was getting the finishing touches. Merlet frowned; she could only remember seeing her sister pack two weapons. Shaking her head and chalking it up to a poor memory she set the bowls down and dug out some bread from her pack.
"Enough of that for now come and eat your dinner. It isn’t exactly a feast, but it’s better than dry rations."
Aleya dully looked up at Merlet and nodded; putting away the daggers she walked over to the food and sat down to eat. Mumbling a contented comment she finished off her dinner with gusto and went to wash out her bowl in the stream.
The two sisters sat deep in thought for most of the evening, saying nothing. Each with their own fears and reactions to sort through, Merlet interrupted her own thoughts to check and flip the meat on the rack. When it was done, she used the hide of the animal to store the food in and lay out her blankets for sleep.
"We’d better sleep now. Tomorrow will be another long day of travel. There will be little time for rest until time to make camp."
Throwing the blanket over herself she curled up on her side as Shadow made himself comfortable curled up on top of her.
"Wake up Sister... the hell has followed us."
Jerking awake at Aleya’s cry, Merlet scrambled to throw water on the burning embers of the fire as an infernal headed straight at their camp.
The embers had cast little light and died quickly as the water hit them. Grabbing her bow she dashed to Aleya and put a hand on her shoulder.
"Aleya, shadowmeld, we cannot face this alone."
Merlet blinked and shook her head, Fang and Snowpaw both roared at Merlet’s outburst and spun around looking for a threat.
Shaking she calmed her companions. So vivid, so real, so far in the past, so many years ago why now did it all come back to haunt her.
The fire had died to embers, much like that fire so long ago. She could almost feel the rumble in the earth again as the giant infernal creature had stomped its way through the forest that night. She had grabbed Aleya they had hid in the shadows and it had passed them by. Aleya, though, had changed that night. Darkness shrouded her soul for the destruction wrought upon us by Azshara and her Highborne minions. The two elf maids had finished their journey to safety. They had worked together to eke out a living alone. Their parents had not joined them. Both were lost the day the children had been sent from the villages.
Merlet honed her skills as a hunter, she took down animals in the forests providing food, selling the skins and making armor for herself, her sister and to sell. Aleya, had earned a living by means only a rogue would understand. Sisters, working together to survive, until Aleya had come home with the blood stained clothing and it all came to an end.
"Where did you get that?"
"I found it." Standing defiant and defensive in the center of their small home.
"You found it? That blood is fresh Aleya, where did you get that?"
"You... You follow your path, I follow mine. They deserve to die and I’ll send them to Elune or what ever god they worship."
Aleya gathered her belongings and stormed from the house. For many years Merlet wondered about her sister, missed her, almost hated her for leaving. A rogues ways were not for Merlet, honor was a must for living, a code to live by.
Resolve to become a hunter of respect, of worth, and of weight drove Merlet to hone her skills. Shadow was released into the wild to join her kin, and Fang was tamed. The wetlands were swampy and home to fearsome warrior lizards. Merlet studied the raptors as she hunted and quested. Such a warrior would be a companion indeed. Fang was fierce and bloodthirsty, he nearly killed her as she tamed him, but he was hers now. She was no longer alone, she had a fine companion to help her hone her skills. The surprise on her face would have been comical she imagined when the warmth of a healing spell drifted over her as she finished off another beast. Turning to thank the healer who had aided her she was faced with an aged human paladin.
"Thank you noble paladin, my gratitude for your well timed healing. Is there something I may do or aid you with in my gratitude?"
Merlet figured her offer would be of little use to him. He was far more advanced in his skill than she. Though she grew in skill more every day there was still a large gap, and she could help little in quests he may be following.
"No, I follow the light and lend aid where I can. For that no service from you is needed."
As she worked her way along, she met up with the paladin off and on. She learned his name was Caladorn and began to seek him out for conversation, a meal or just to find out how he was doing with his own quest for betterment.
The memories continued to wash over her as she made the journey home. Absently she would scratch Snowpaw or Fang, though for the most part, she was lost in memory.
She rode through the lush beauty of Stranglethorn Vale, Snowpaw making almost no noise, and the animals of the jungle stayed away for the most part. Her cat was an imposing figure moving through the vegetation with the speed of his legs. Fang trotted along beside or behind her, watching for something to attack them, waiting to find his dinner. It had been many seasons since she haunted these areas. Not much had changed, and it was pleasing to see that the corruption had not invaded the vegetation here yet.
A whisper had reached her through her hearthstone. Aleya needed a little help with a quest, so she flew out to Booty Bay to meet with her sister. They had finally healed the rift between them, well somewhat. There was still perhaps a touch of discomfort, but they were sisters, and Merlet had her sister back. Merlet still didn’t see eye to eye with her sister, and her sister’s hatred of the humans made her cringe, but family was family. She could to some extend understand the hatred, as humans had once again allowed the burning legion in, but... *sighs* The past was the past, and nothing could be changed about it.
Sniffing the wind, she could tell she was close and slowed her pace. Coming towards her on the road, mounted on her own cat was Aleya with another of the newer members of the guild. Ciona, the name flitted through Merlet’s mind. She stopped and slid off of her mount, Fang trotted up to stand beside her and sniffed Aleya in greeting.
"Good day to you Sister, I see you have achieved enough accomplishment for your mount. My congratulations to you."
"Aye, I’ve a mount now. I see you still have that silly lizard following you around. I still say his hide would make a good rug."
"Try turning him into a rug and he will eat you. He’s been a faithful companion to me for many years. I’ll not see him abused. He’s saved your hide a time or two before also Sister."
"Aye, same ole Merlet, you don’t change much do you?"
"I could say the same for you sister." A wry smile flits across her face.
She nods to Ciona and unslings her bow. "Well then, shall we deal with these basilisks’?"
The three of them worked their way quickly through the creatures, slowly obtaining the items Aleya needed for the quest. Some good natured ribbing was directed at her because of Calidorn. Aleya was little pleased that her sister had chosen a human for her mate, but Caladorn was a warrior of the light and held honor high. He had fought the corruption for years.
Finally they were done, and Ciona rode off to take care of some other items. It made sense that Aleya had found friendship with another rogue, someone who understood her in a way that Merlet never could.
"Twas good to see you sister, we should do this again soon."
Aleya stopped and looked at her searchingly. "Aye, we will never see eye to eye. You will never understand me, but we are family."
"Aye, you are my sister, I may not agree with your ways, but I’ll always be here to help you, when I can."
Aleya looks at Fang who is head butting her sister looking for a treat for his efforts of the day. "Perhaps you trust Fang so much because you trained him, and know he will never betray you. You have earned his loyalty for all time. Trust..."
"Fang isn’t the only one I trust, I trust you, I trust Caladorn, and Sasha. When it comes right down to it, none of you have let me down, not really. We are just different, the horror we saw changed us both. We’ve just gone different directions."
Aleya nods and climbs back on her mount. "Take care sister, we will see each other again soon. You should go home sometime, breath the air there, rather than that stinking dwarven city."
Merlet waves farewell to her sister and watches her ride off. Digging around in her pack she finds the quail that Fang is looking for and Snowpaw walks up to nuzzle against the elf as she turns to look around.
"Home... Maybe, but is it really home anymore?"
Climbing back up on Snow she rides down the road to Booty Bay, contemplating a visit home. Perhaps she should go home and see what time has wrought there.
The hypogryph flight from Darkshore wasn’t a very long one, but it was harsh. The corruption seeped further and further every year it seemed. She nodded to the flight master and called Snowpaw and Fang to her. The land here seemed almost untouched, but the corruption of this place took a different form. Azshara, she spit on the ground.
"How could they have honored that betrayer with naming this place after her?"
Hearing the vehemence in her voice Snowpaw and Fang both growled. She quietly reached out to sooth them and climbed on Snow to ride further into the area. She knew where the road went to, she’d traveled it many times in the past, and she steeled herself for the wash of memory.
Eldarath had once been a beautiful city, now it was nothing more than a naga infested ruin. The sundering had been felt even this far away. She could see the ruins in front of her, and within the ruins the hated Naga slithered around. She slid off of Snowpaw and walked the rest of the way. A hatred burned deep within her, and she pulled out her bow, picked one of them and sent Fang in after it. The raptor roared as he struck the beast and Merlet began firing. One after another the Naga fell under Fang’s claws and her arrows. It came to a point where she stopped sending Fang after them, and began shooting to bring them to her. Her twin axes flashed in the sunlight, Fangs claws grew redder, they both became covered in gore as an old song played within her mind.
Axes flash, broadswords swing Shining armors’ piercing ring Horses run with polished shield Fight those bastards 'til they yield Midnight mare, blood red roan Fight to keep this land your own Sound the horn and call the cry How many of them can we make die? Follow orders as you’re told Make their yellow blood run cold Fight until you die or drop A force like ours is hard to stop Close your mind to stress and pain Fight 'til you’re no longer sane Let not one damn cur pass by How many of them can we make die? Guard your women and children well Send these bastards back to Hell We’ll teach them the ways of war And they won’t come here anymore Use your shield and use your head Fight 'til everyone is dead Raise the flag up to the sky How many of them can we make die? Dawn has broke, the time has come Move your feet to the marching drum We’ll win the war and pay the toll Fight as one in heart and soul Midnight mare and blood red roan Fight to keep this land your own Sound the horn and call the cry How many of them can we make die? Axes flash, broadswords swing Shining armors’ piercing ring Horses run with polished shield Fight those bastards 'til they yield Midnight mare and blood red roan Fight to keep this land your own Sound the horn and call the cry How many of them can we make die? How many of them can we make die? How many of them can we make die?
Merlet worked her way deeper into the ruins, ignoring the ghosts of the Highborne unless they attacked her and slaughtered Naga after Naga as she went. She and Fang were quickly covered in gore, Snowpaws pristine white fur was stained blood as he joined in on the fray. The temple was just a head, she could smell the stench of many Naga in there and entered it. A deadly bow, whirling ax blades and animal tooth and claw made short work of the ill fated Naga inside. The temple was cleared and the city ruins were once again a playground of destruction. Three sets of bloody footprints were to be seen going into and coming out of the temple, those bloody tracks weaved their way through the ruins, through the trail of bodies left behind.
Further and further into the outskirts of the city they went. She stopped on the side of a hill to drink and feed her companions. The wind shifted and she could smell fresh water and she looked at herself. Her armor was covered in blood and gore, Fang and Snowpaw were also covered. Her rage worked itself out and she sat quietly in the beauty of the area.
Fang’s head came up and he whined, moving slightly in the direction of the fresh water and looking back at Merlet. She sniffed the air again. Dragonkin. She could smell them now too, and Fang loved dragon meat. Nodding at the raptor she stands up and begins to move towards the scents, as she crests the hill in the valley before her are the blue dragonkin. Nodding at Fang she readies her bow and watches him take off after the closest one, roaring as he attacks with frenzied glee.
One by one the dragonkin fall to the three of them, are skinned and left as they lay. The path is cleared to the little pond and all three of them dive into the water. Rage spent, they are all content to relax and play in the water. Merlet cleans the animals. Fang’s claws and muzzle are washed and shining, Snowpaw’s fur is once again a pristine white and her armor is meticulously cleaned and oiled. The dents could be repaired later when she decided to go back to a city. For now, they made camp on the other side of the hill from the pond. Merlet quietly build a camp fire and cooked her dinner, Fang and Snowpaw dined on dragon meat beside her.
((OOC Note, the song above is March of Cambreadth by Heather Alexander))
She shook her head as she left Frelle in Redridge. Calling Snowpaw to her, she put her armor back on and rode out of the area.
"What a mess Fang. Human males are such complicated individuals. Maybe it is because he is so young. Caladorn has seen much, very little phases him anymore. I hope that we will be able to reverse this incident soon."
Fang and Snowpaw turn their ears towards Merlet and nod as if they understand the night elf’s ramblings. Rupert just grunts quietly as he hurries to keep up with the party. Looking back over her shoulder at the small rabbit, she stops and picks him up, placing him in her lap as she continues on her way to Stormwind. As she nears the entrance to Elwyn Forest she can feel an ominous presence in the air. The sky darkens, a haze covers the landscape and thunder can be heard in the distance. She stops and stares at the landscape in sadness.
"The corruption of the scourge has arrived here my friends. This is indeed a sad day. Let us continue on to Stormwind and see what we may see. I’ve a festival fire to visit, and perhaps we might obtain more information about this newest invasion."
She let Snowpaw have his head and run as he pleased up to the gates of Stormwind. She could see the flying pit of corruption outside the city, and watched as younger adventurers destroyed the scourge that spawned from the evil demesne above her. Narrowing her eyes she continues into the city and through it to the Festival fire.
There was little cause for celebration now. This festival week would be nothing like the Lunar festival. There was a taint of fear on the air, one that burned the sensitive noses of a hunter and her companions. Having visited the fire as per the request of the quest giver, she returned to Ironforge. The city was ripe with the same stench as Stormwind. Fang, Snowpaw and Rupert all pawed at their noses, and Merlet wrinkled hers.
"Tis time we left the cities for now I think my friends."
She made a request of one of the guild mages for a portal into Darnasus to get away from the smells, only to find that it was here too. In her home. That was too much for the hunter. With a snarl she took off out of the city, visited the fire in Rutharan and booked a flight to Auberdine. A rage was building within the elf, one that would only be assuaged by clearing corruption from the landscape. From Auberdine she booked a flight to Azshara. There, she knew she could find solace in cleansing the landscape.
The hippogryph set its feet on the ground in Azshara and Merlet’s nose twitched. The same stench was here, which meant that the scourge was here as well. She closed her eyes and called her companions to her. Fang came from the mystical place he stayed while not with her and nudged her arm, snorting at the stench. Rupert peeped out from her backpack, wisely deciding that this time he’d not get involved and Snowpaw, her battle mount materialized beside her as well and she mounted him, the three of them set off in search of the scourge. Snowpaw’s large cat feet made little noise on the road as he covered the distances through Azshara with speed.
From the road she could see a discolored crystal with glowing energies, scourge and others like her who wished to cleanse the land. The mindless monsters tore at the Alliance and Horde alike as they fought to destroy the crystal. As one disgusting creation fell, another appeared as though teleported from the crystal.
She jumped off of Snowpaw and with a scream of rage charged at the first putrid creature to cross her path. Snarling behind her, Fang tore into the creature with the savagery that had drawn Merlet to him, and her twin axes sliced and cut their way through the shambling monsters. Blow after blow landed and her armor became streaked with black blood and ichor as another target fell and they moved on to the next. Another battle scream and her axes tore into the rotted flesh of the scourge creation. Fang snarled as he bit into and clawed alongside her. Slow... this was too slow.. She scanned the area and Fang took off after one that had appeared further away. His claws flashed as it turned on him, attacking. Sheathing her axes Merlet pulled her bow and an arrow and began firing. Shot after shot landed and it fell, a shredded pincushion. Another appeared and Fang tore into it. His teeth and claws ripped strips of flesh and chunks of bone from the monster as arrow after arrow flew from her deft hand. As she drew back her bow for another shot, she was struck from behind and spun around. Dropping her bow she pulled her axes and left Fang to destroy his target while she sliced the newest target apart. Fang came screaming up behind her to tear into it himself. One after another fell to the now gore covered companions.
The rage continued to fuel Merlet and she turned to look for another with a snarl. Her eyes lit upon Fang. His head drooped and he panted heavily. His hide was covered with new scars and his body was covered in black blood and gore. She walked over to him and quietly scratched behind an eye ridge. Fang gently leaned against her body with a soft sigh and moved his head under her hand.
"Alright my friend, we have done enough for tonight. We both should go home."
She turned from the crystal and the scourge and used her hearthstone. The rage still burned within her, but to give in to such rage would not be wise. Rest, quiet, and the arms of her mate would quiet it for a time. Home was what she needed now.
Four weary companions topped the slight rise next to Loch Modan and let out a small sigh of relief. Fang and Merlet were covered in gore, both bore new scars from their time fighting the scourge. Snowpaw’s head came up from its droop as home was sighted, and a spring entered his step. Rupert’s small nose began to wiggle furiously as he took in the clean scents from his perch on Merlet’s lap. Leaping over a log Snowpaw ran the rest of the way home, with Fang trotting along beside him.
Merlet slowly slid off of the huge cat and set Rupert on the ground. Walking to the door of her home, she looked inside hoping to see Caladorn there. A flash of disappointment crossed her face as she carefully placed her weapons inside the door and turned towards the water. A deep breath cleared her nose and lungs of the stench that had permeated so many places she’d traveled to fight the Scourge. She bolted from her home straight to the water with a raptor, a wintertsabre and a small snowshoe rabbit hot on her heels. With a cheer she dove into the water with her armor still on. Fang and Snowpaw followed her into the water and Rupert looked on with distain at the water antics. Three of the companions splashed around in the shallows, dunking one another into the water and getting clean while Rupert hopped along the shore and nibbled on succulent new growth grass.
Merlet walked up onto the shore and took her armor off, laying it carefully on the ground for later cleaning, repair and polishing; she turned and dove back into the water. Looking at the torn shirt she was wearing she shrugged and ripped a large strip from the bottom and began cleaning Fang’s hide with it. Grabbing some plants from the shore that made a good cleaning solution, she crushed them up in her hands and ran the foamy mixture over the scared hide of her raptor and applied her first aid training to the wounds that needed attention. Once Fang’s hide gleamed again, she used the same plants on herself to get clean. Once her hair was white again she took off the rest of her clothing and made her skin clean to it’s bluish tint.
The new cuts and gashes had first aid applied to them and she turned to float in the water and watch her companions. Snowpaw’s armor lay in the grass beside her own and he stalked Rupert playfully. The little rabbit’s tail wiggled back and forth as he found succulent tidbits. She smirked as Snow gently leaped at Rupert landing directly over the small rabbit and batting his behind with one paw. Rupert let out a small growl of frustration just as Fang struck at Snowpaw’s twitching tail. Snow let out a small roar as Fang gently worried the tail back and forth. She curled up in a ball giggling at their antics, wishing that Caladorn were home to see the comedy of the animals. A sound at the door of her home made her look up hopefully. A sleepy Sasha padded out of the house and down to the shore of the lake, sneezing at her mate, Snowpaw. While Snow’s fur was a pristine and unbroken white, Sasha’s white fur was striped a soft purple. Sasha ran up to Fang and pounced on his back. Fang let go of Snow’s tail in surprise and rolled over shoving at the frostsabre on him.
Merlet sighed softly and let her head drop back into the water as she floated in the shallows. She missed Caladorn terribly, it seemed that they were not able to spend much time together these days. Both had their duties to the guild and their own personal quests to deal with. She allowed herself a few more moments of relaxation in the water before standing up and walking dripping into the house. A quick toweling of her skin made it dry enough to put on a tunic and trousers as she pulled out her armor cleaning kit. A fire was laid and lit in the fireplace, and a quick stew was prepared and set to cook. Grabbing the cleaning kit she walked back down to the shore and began cleaning and repairing her damaged gore covered armor. Her four animal companions played in the grass beside the lake as she took care of first her own armor and then Snowpaw’s before dinner.
The little elf maid giggled joyfully as the panther cub pounced on the lock of hair that she was swinging at it. The little cub’s deep green eyes were nearly black with the mischief of the cat as it attacked her hair in earnest. Neither of them noticed the sibling that was hiding in the bush beside them until with a shaky pounce the waving tail became prey. She giggled even harder at the cub’s sibling while it was attacking the tail. The first cub let go of the hair that had been prey for its growing hunting skills and turned with a baby growl and pounced on its sibling. With little growls and yowls the two cubs rolled around on the ground biting and pawing at one another.
Merlet fell over on her side and curled up holding her stomach while she laughed at the antics of the two cubs. A third of the litter ran up on wobbly legs and pounced on its siblings with a small screech. A flurry of fur, little teeth and needle claws rolled around on the ground. The smallest of the litter wobbled up to the elf maid and batted at strands of hair on the ground. Merlet rolled over and stuck one small stubby hand out to the little cub and scratched behind an ear. The little cub plopped over on one pudgy side and began purring at the attention that its ears were getting. A smile grew on the child’s face as she shoved her fingers in the soft fur and scratched at an itchy place she’d found. Merlet scooched closer to the cub and buried her face in the soft fur rubbing it back and forth. This action brought her hair back into vision and the cub grabbed it with a paw and brought it to its mouth. Tugging and chewing on the blue-white hair had the child giggling again.
Behind the younglings the underbrush rustled softly as a dark striped face came through the brush. The rabbit that the mother cat had captured for her litter dropped from her mouth and her eyes narrowed. A low rumbling growl issued from her throat and she padded out of the brush. She raised her head sniffing at the air. She could smell others like the child around but the elf cub was alone and vulnerable. It might just make a meal for her cubs.
Merlet looked up at the growl and saw the mother panther step out of the brush. The child didn’t know enough to be afraid, she only saw a much larger furry creature to play with. She picked up the cub that was entangled with and attacking her hair and toddled up to the cub’s mother.
“Big Kitty!” she burbled in a childish voice and stretched out one small hand to touch the fur.
Ears flipped backwards and pressed tightly against a large feline head. Whiskers flew forwards and a mouth full of teeth opened up to bite the child and hiss as fingers found the same itchy spot behind the ear. The mother cat blinked once and eyed the elf child in consternation. They were supposed to run in fear or attack her, not touch her in a pleasurable manner.
The cub in her arms continued to growl and snarl as it chewed and clawed at the mass of hair all around it. It made no distressed noises, it seemed to be having fun with the child’s hair. The panther stopped hissing and sat down. The small fingers worked some sort of miracle as the cat began to purr in ecstasy at the ministrations of the child.
The other three cubs came tumbling up to their mother and Merlet wanting to greet their mother, and she lay down. The four cubs and the elf child romped round the mother panther, childish squeals of delight mixed with baby snarls, growls and yowls as the younglings played on and around the adult panther. Ears were scratched, fur and tails and hair tugged on in the innocent play of childhood.
This was the scene that greeted the adult female elf who walked into the small clearing looking franticly for her lost child. She stared in awe at her daughter playing with the cats. It seemed that Merlet had a very special way with animals. A soft sigh escaped her lips as she understood that this one would not follow in the family tradition of the path of the druid. It explained why so many animals were to be found around their home, and why the child never seemed to get bitten or scratched by them. The young elf maid Merlet was destined to be a huntress.
The four companions topped the crest of the hill and looked down upon their home. No smoke rose from the chimney again this night. Fang, Rupert and Snowpaw fairly danced in anticipation but Merlet’s shoulders slumped dejectedly. Snowpaw leapt over everything in his path to reach their home faster. A sound from inside the house had Merlet’s ears twitching forward and her spirits rising. A small turtle came out of the house as fast as his tiny legs could move him, and Sasha was right behind him with a playful gleam in her eyes. She stopped short when she saw her mate bounding towards her and let out a roar of greeting. Merlet slid off of her mounts side and pulled his armor from him, giving him a gentle pat on the side as he bounded off with Sasha. Rupert snorted with distain and hopped off to his little garden patch to eat his dinner, Argonos the turtle waddling along behind him. Fang butted his head against Merlet’s back, nearly tumbling her forwards into the wall of the house.
“Don’t be so blasted impatient, I’ll get your dinner in a minute.”
She stepped inside the small house and lay Snow’s armor on its stand, and walked over to the cold storage box. It cost a bit to get the ice delivered, but they were not far from the snow of Dun Morgh. Opening the box she pulled out three large slabs of meat and set them on platters, then set each of the platters outside for her hunting companions. Fang happily buried his face in his dinner and began eating.
The four of them were covered in sand and dust from the desert of Silithus, they’d had another night of killing the bugs out there. Wearily Merlet pulled her helm from atop her head and set it down on her armor stand. She began the process of unlacing her armor and checking it for damage that would need to be repaired before they went out again. The length of time it took to put on and remove the armor, and the constant need to be on her guard kept her in the armor most of the time. The armor was worn, though well taken care of, as was necessary for that which kept her from the worst harm. There were new scars upon her person from the day’s fighting, things that the healers could not make fade away entirely. Sniffing the air she wrinkled her nose. She stank. A bath was in order before she thought about making dinner for herself this night.
She walked back into the house, her long white hair dripping behind her now clean. A clean robe over her thin frame and the scent of some flowery lotion she’d bought in a market filled the room. Sighing softly she set about preparing a small meal for herself. The empty platters beside the door, the sleeping rabbit and turtle were evidence that her companions had eaten. The fire was easy enough to start and she turned away from it to put together the makings of a soup that might last her for a few meals.
Merlet sadly looked around the house. Caladorn had not been home in many days. His herbs were drying, some so much that she figured that they had lost the potency needed to make the potions that were his specialty. He must still be out in the Plaguelands. She heard very little from him these days. He was busy fighting the scourge and their corruption of what had once been his home. It was good seeing so much of her sister these days, but she missed him more than she could explain. Her sister could not help ease this pain. Merlet was unsure that Aleya could even understand with her hatred of the humans being so strong. She never did understand why Merlet chose Caladorn. These days Aleya spent more and more time with the guild, before long she would make a name for herself with them. She supposed that many were surprised at the differences between the two sisters; their starkly different outlooks on things shocked some people.
Shaking her head and sighing softly she got a bowl and spoon for her meal and ladled some of the now steaming soup into it. A chunk of bread and a slice of cheese would complete her meal for that night. Sitting down at the table she at her meal in solitude, her shoulders hunched and her face drawn as the night closed in about her home.
(Written by Caladorn, but posted here for extra flavor.)
With a grunt, Caladorn stepped out of the tent into the dawning light. It seemed like just yesterday...
The spires of the Cathedral rose into the sky, the silver and gold shining into the distance from the sun. Miss Teala led the small procession from Brill's school to the great Cathedral of Lorderon.
"Are we there yet?" Gil said, "I need to pee.".
Miss Teala smiled and gestured to the ancient and massive open doors of the Cathedral. "Here we have the Cathedral of light, the center of spiritual enlightenment here in Lorderon".
"Is it true the Paladins train here?" asked the attentive dark haired young boy.
Miss Teala chucked and smiled. "yes Caladorn, that is true. It is here that the Priests of the Light and the Paladins of the Silver Hand train their skills and research great truths behind these walls.". "Now follow me children, we shall now be going to see where Terenas Menethil, the King of Lordaeron himself sits on the throne." said Miss Teala as she led the way for the children.
Caladorn stood transfixed as the massive armoured Charger walked out the courtyard of the Cathedral. Mounted upon the massive equine was what only could be described as the most shiniest knight the little boy had ever seen. Glittering reds, yellows and orange shone from the armor of the hooded man, who's glowing eyes seem to look right through Caladorn. The Paladin reined in his Charger before it rode the little dark haired boy down. Looking down perplexed at the little boy, the Paladin waved him out of the way.
Stepping to the side, Caladorn watched the Paladin urge his Charger to trot on. Suddenly the boy found his voice.
"Kings Honor, friend!" shouted the small boy. "Light bless you!" called the Paladin just before he rode out of sight.
"Caladorn! Do try to keep up!" called Miss Teala. One day, I'll be a Paladin, thought Caladorn. Caladorn, a Paladin of the order of the Silver Hand....
Yes, it seemed just like yesterday, thought the ageing Paladin. Ruffling his silvered hair, he dunked his head into the water barrel cascading cold water down his back as he brought his head up.
"Sir! Marshall Caladorn?" came the cry.
Caladorn looked into the reflection in the rain barrel, his wrinkled features looking back at him. For a moment came an image of an etherallicly beautiful silver haired Night Elf standing at his side, but like the ripples in the water it faded fast.
"Sir! Marshall Caladorn?" again came the cry.
Turning, Caladorn looked down the hill from his small camp to the man below him. The tabbard of the Argent Dawn tattered and torn over his silvered armor and high swept silver golden shoulders.
"Aye?" said Caladorn.
"Sir, they are coming..." said the Knight, the weariness evident in his voice.
Nodding, Caladorn turned back to his tent and began pulling on the battered and ghoul stained armor of Judgement. Lifting his sword and shield, their weight light in his hands, he turned back to the cresting sun which already looked noxious in this god forsaken land. Lorderon had fallen so far, like Arthas. Once a proud and noble land, it was simply a stained noxious scar on Azeroth.
His thoughts turned for a moment to a small cottage on the shores of Loch Modan, so far away, before pulling on the fearsome and terrifying helm of the Inquisitor.
"Let them come, the Light is with us." said Caladorn.
The two of them headed towards the battlements of the Eastwall Tower, Light's Hope Chapel's spire peeking out of the noxious fog on the horizon.
She stepped off of the hippogryph at Cenarian Hold and her mailed feet sunk into the sand. A dry wind blew sand into her face and eyes just before she closed them to summon first Fang and then Snowpaw to her. She hated this place. The sand got into her armor and under her tunic and abraded her skin. The stench of the silithid menace filled her nostrils as she rode down the winding path into the hold proper. She sneezed once to clear the scent, but it was to no avail. She’d not get rid of it while she was on these sands. A brief stop to make sure she had everything she would need as the guild headed back into Ahn'Qiraj.
More was expected of her these days as she’d become Hunter Officer. It was now her job to make sure that her hunter brothers and sisters had everything they would need for the upcoming assault. It had been many moons since Regnat Populus had entered the ruins of the city to battle the menace which had been unleashed once more from those gates. She wished to make sure that everything was in readiness for the trek.
Her hearthstone sang with a warning. The raiders were on the road once again. They would need to be careful on the run down. Fang sniffed the air and danced around her impatiently. He’d not be so eager when he figured out that there would be no dragon flesh for him this day. Bugs were on the menu. Absently scratching behind his eye ridges she soothed her raptor companion and mounted Snow. With a small noise they were off down the road out of the hold.
Sand blew past her face catching in her hair and filtering up her nose as the wind picked up. Squinting her eyes she lay down low over her frost sabers back and tried to bury her nose in his fur. He smelled of warmth and safety and home, anything to drown out the stench and keep the sand from her lungs. She had already begun to itch as it filtered down her back and into her armor. Sighing she just tried to shrug it out of her armor. There was nothing for it, this was where they were to fight today, and this is where she would be.
Snow made a detour off of the road and through the sands. Scorpions, spiders and other creatures turned and chased after them. Snowpaw was far too fleet of foot for such puny creatures to catch them, and they were soon left far behind. The shushing of padded feet through sand was eventually replaced with the clack of massive claws on stone as they entered the ruined stairway leading up to what was once the city of Ahn'Qiraj. The path split and she made a right turn going up and around to find her guild mates waiting. They gathered in this spot before the assault would take place. The air flashed and crackled as gifts of health and more were granted to each member of their party.
Merlet came to a halt and slid off of Snow, bidding him to wait for her. She walked into her guild family and greeted her friends. A soft whisper into her hearth stone would go to her hunter brothers and sisters.
“Don’t forget your bug armor, it shall stand you in good stead this day. Repair, stock up.. This may be a long assault.”
She found a quiet spot and pulled Rupert out of her pack, letting him out to hop around and sniff her guild mates. Keairi the druid passed close by and he hopped over to investigate her. Merlet waved hello and sat down to wait for everyone to gather.
Blood would be spilt this day, both the blood of her friends and the blood of the bugs. She pulled her cloak around to cover her mouth and nose so some of the stench and the sand would be filtered from her, and chuckled as Fang danced around in anticipation and Rupert looked on with his usual lagomorphic disdain.
The Caravan moved down the road from Lights Hope Chapel, heading back towards civilisation, slowly moving down the road. But on the horizon appears the silhouette of an massive Abomination, another appeared, then another, striding over the hills and small foilage, striding to the road and blocking the exit of the Caravan from the Easterns Plaguelands.
Between them, cantered the silent golden armorclad Paladin. Slowly he cantered his horse down the hill, then seeing the Caravan and it's predicament, gave a thunderous challenge and drawing his blade, he turn his legendary Charger and drove at full gallop towards the waiting Scourge.
The people in the Caravans were scattered with outriders, and the young girl on the Caravan top was calling to the Paladin. The Scourge must have seen them and to the Lich King they were still foresworn, but standing firm between them, stood the Paladin, Caladorn.
Moving swiftly across the landscape, the Light blazing from him as he came, brought a mighty abomination crashing down in Light fueled flame. The People on the Caravan began to cheer thinking that their fortunes must have been smiled upon, the little girl atop the Caravan cried "Come on Paladin!".
The Abominations released their terrible fear, wave after wave of it roiling over the Paladin, but his faithful mount sped on as he cut down one of the terrible Abominations. At this the other three lifted their spell damned arms and melted the Paladins valiant heart.
Lashing chains and to his Light desecrate, the flashing dark magics punched through his breastplate, throwing him from the horse to the ground with a terrible cry of pain. With the smoke of battle clearing the little Caravan of people had reached the misty horizon and the road to Chillwind Point and the people were safe. But the Paladin had vanished in the smoke, only his tattered tabbard and dead mount lying on the ground. The lasts words croaked out his helm... "Merlet"...
(OOC Note, also written by Caladorn, to be continued)
And so it comes again.
She sat down for the first time all afternoon to rest for a few moments and eat the lunch she’d packed for herself. Fang stood by happily munching on a rather large chunk of dragon steak. The buzzing of her hearthstone finally became evident with the break in her concentration, so she pulled it from her pack to listen to what had her guild in such an uproar.
“I’ve made it here, demons are streaming through.”
“I’m at Netherguard, I’ll be there to help soon.”
The hunter blinked as she listened to her guild mates talking about a portal.
It can’t be, that one, it just can’t.
“What portal and what place?”
“The Dark Portal has been reopened Merlet, demons are streaming through and attacking the outpost here. We need reinforcements.”
“What idiot has reopened the portal? I’m on my way, they nearly destroyed Azeroth, they cannot be allowed to return en-mass.”
She quickly gathered her weapons and Rupert up into her arms as she triggered her stone to send her to Ironforge. In moments she was inside the inn, and running out into the main hall. Closing her eyes she called Snowpaw to her and urged him into a gallop towards the military ward. She needed to restock her supplies before flying out to hunt demons. Fang looked at his mistress in askance for a moment and trotted along behind. There was a tension in her that he’d never seen before. Not in all the seasons he’d been with her had she ever held this expression. They were not just going into battle this time, they would be going to war.
People flashed by as Snow’s swift feet carried her through Ironforge. She spied the meat vendor and ran up to him, skidding to a halt beside him to purchase food for herself and for Fang. She didn’t take time to get off of her mount, but ran to the Boyer and purchased enough arrows to fill her quiver and then some. Back down stairs she ran and out of the building, leaping onto Snow’s back she urged him to run again. Once again not taking time to dismount she ran straight into the bank, rapidly sorting through items there and in her packs looking for potions and foods and armor. She tossed items out of her pack into her bank, and items from her bank into her packs and ran back out of the bank. She mounted Snowpaw again and took off at speed through the halls and into the Great Forge. She leapt off of Snow once they had reached the griffon master, tossed coins at him and leapt onto a gryphon bound for Nethergard Keep.
Fang nuzzled Rupert and then Snowpaw, and her 3 companions looked at one another. Their summons to her side would be swift once she reached her destination. None of them understood exactly what was going on. Her urgency today had never been equaled, not even when they’d gone to destroy Naga had she been this frantic. It was a long flight from Ironforge to Netherguard, she sat back in the saddle and closed her eyes for a few brief moments.
She was shaken awake by her frantic mother as sounds of battle began to fill her ears.
“Gather your packs, weapons and your cat. You and Aleya must make your way from here. Azshara has unleashed her hell here.”
Her mother turned from her and moved to Aleya’s bed, shaking her awake also. The little elf maid shook her head, ran a hand through her white hair pulling it from her face and sat up. Slipping her feet into her hide boots, she made a small trilling noise and a small striped feline face peeped out from under her bed.
“Tis time for us to go little one.”
With efficient movements she dressed herself, and belted on her scabbard, sliding the blade home into it. Packs went on her back, a quiver slid over her head and shoulder and a bow was gripped in her hand. Last came her cloak, heavy enough to keep her warm if it was needed to do so. Turning she looked at her sister, seeing that she too was ready they left their small room and moved into the kitchen. Two bundles of food sat on the table and her mother stood in the door. Grabbing these last bundles, they turned to her.
“You must hurry. We have to get you into the woods to meet with the others.”
The two maids swiftly and silently followed their mother out of the house and into the woods. Their mother shifted forms into a sleek black cat and moved through the underbrush up the hill sniffing the air. Aleya followed close behind her mother, Merlet stopped and turned to look at her home again. As she turned, she could see strange creatures coming over the crest of the opposite hill and streaming down into the village.
“Mother? What are those?”
Her mother stopped and turned around, snarling she shifted form.
“Both of you, up and over the hill, find a place to hide if you don’t see the others, once this passes I’ll come back to see if you’ve made it safely away.”
She swiftly hugged her daughters, kissed them on the forehead and shifted form once again racing down the hill into the village.
Both girls moved silently up the hill, staying in amongst the underbrush hidden from sight. Aleya crested the hill silently and slid down the other side, heading for a cave there. Merlet stopped once more and crouched down to look upon her village. Creatures she’d never seen before, Fel Guards, Infernals, Imps, Sucubi, every manner of creature that the Burning Legion possessed swarmed over the village like a swarm of locusts. Houses were smashed, burned destroyed. Her eye scanned for her parents, and fell upon the crushed and mangled body of her father. It had been torn apart by one of the unholy things below her. A tear rolled down her cheek and she looked faster for her mother. Too late to cry out, to warn she found her amidst a circle of demons. She watched as these same demons ripper her mother limb from limb. Her mouth opened in a soundless scream as she threw herself over the crest of the hill and down the other side.
Sliding down the hill she came to a stop face down in front of her sister. She lay there for a moment, her body shaking. Her eyes squeezed shut until she shook her head and stood.
“We must get to the cave. We’ve got to be out of sight. Once they are gone, hopefully later tonight, I’ll get us to Auberdine.”
Aleya gazed at Merlet, knowing entered her eyes and she just nodded, turned silently on her heel and walked away.
“The highborne will pay for this, I’ll slaughter each one of them in payment for what they have wrought upon our world. Azshara and her kind will pay for this.” It came out as a whisper full of rage and hate, her small frame shook with the anger as she followed her sister into the woods to cover.
The gryphon landed atop the tower at Neatherguard jolting her from the dream. Blinking, she hesitated but for a moment before leaping from the top of the tower, pausing only long enough to call her companions to her. She lept onto the great cat and urged him into run towards the exit of the keep. Her gaze moving from side to side it landed upon the post box.
There was something that she needed to do before she ran off to defend the gate opening. She must send two letters. This time, she would have neither her shining paladin, nor her deadly rogue at her back. Pulling pen and parchment from her pack, she sat down to compose those missives.
A light breeze blew along the grass covered plains of Nagrand. A small camp fire burned brightly casting odd shadows over the slightly odder assortment of creatures loosely ringing it. A blue raptor decorated in feathers and beads sat curled up on his haunches watching a small snowshoe rabbit hop around the fire nibbling on grass, a large white frost saber snoozed with his large head on his paws with tail twitching at some dream or other, and a snowy white gryphon lay on the grass, his eyes alert and watching all around for any possible danger. The night noises flowed along the breeze, a lowing from a distant clefthoof, the bleeting of a talbuk, and other not as easily discernable noises were brought to the ears of the odd assortment of apparent companions. Various packs and utensils were scattered haphazardly about the camp, along with stack upon stack of leather and hides. A pot of stew sat beside the fire appearing to be forgotten.
The loud clatter chink of a pile of armor being dropped in a heap by the dripping blue skinned night elf startled all four of the animals around the fire. All eyes turned to the care worn face surrounded by a shock of long white hair. The expression found there could not easily be put into any particular category as it seemed to change by the second. Grabbing a towel from one of the messily stowed packs, Merlet began roughly toweling the water from her skin, muttering to herself under her breath. Once her skin was dry, she dropped the towel in an untidy heap by the armor and pulled out a plain linen shift from another pack, pulling it roughly over her head she sat down by the fire and stared pensively into the flames. Still she muttered to herself under her breath, and the muscles over her body rippled with tension and relaxation alternating as the mutterings rose and fell. Fresh scars covered her skin where armor might not have covered her or had failed during the activities of the day.
“Scryer…. Highborne scum… How in the name of Elune could she who loathes humans for the destruction of Nordrasil even think of siding with those who’s hands hold the blood of our parents and kin.”
Pain flashed acrossed her face as the glow of her eyes dimmed.
“Shadows, hated, assassin, sister, family, betrayal. How could she? What they do now, can never erase what they did then. They, the Highborne, Azshara’s minions, brought the plague of the Burning Legion and Archimond to Azeroth. They nearly brought Sargaras himself here. The sundering of our world is upon the heads of those filthy magic addicted creatures and she sided with them. She blames humans for re-opening the portal, which they did, but the ultimate betrayal of the Kaldorei lays in the hands of the Highborn and their lust for power and magic. She stays in the shadow’s of her own volition. I did not shun her, she left me, alone for year upon year. The only family I had left and she just disappeared. Now this… those creatures.. those betrayer’s.. those Highborne..”
She lay down, curled up on her side, tears sliding unheeded from her eyes, staring at a cheerful blazing fire. Four pairs of eyes stared at the elf, then at one another. As though they could read one another’s minds each got up and moved around the fire to lay down around their mistress. Each one curled up with their bodies touching hers, offering what comfort they could to the woman who had tamed them, befriended them and taken care of them. Tonight they would take care of her, protect her, and try to comfort a heart deep pain.
((This portion was written by Aleya, I include it here with his permission to add to the story.))
The night sky glistened with pinholes in the curtain of night, twinkling like diamond waiting to be pocketted in the mindnight blue of the sky as the moon was out in full force, appearing as an alternate replacement to the sun and one that was welcome to one Kaldorei in particular. The moon had been up for quite a while, with the beginning of a new day started as midnight began to settle in.
The moon shone its eerie lights throughout the branches of the trees, covering the forest in the blackness that was the dead of night. Yet nothing could be no further from the truth, as Aleya knew as she sat with her back resting against the gnarled bark of a tree. Her body was wrapped in the warm embrace of her black cloak, which bore the trademarks of the Talah Al'shar as it beat the chill air of the night away. The hood of the cloak was pulled up and over her head, covering her face in cool detached shadows leaving the only indication that a face was there via the chill air that was constantly being breathed out in steady breaths. Summoning the blessing of Elune she fades from view till only a shadow remained, invisible in the darkness of the forest.
Aleya lifted her head up slightly as a wolf howled through the black night thus breaking the silence that had befallen this part of Azeroth with the exception of birds making their own calling or hunting sounds. She was then greeted by the sound of soft padded feet running swiftly through the woodland heading in her direction whilst she also heard the small cracking sound of fallen branches under their feet.
It had taken her 3 months to find the pattern, another month preparing, one more getting the supplies and almost another waiting for the perfect night. This was the night the first part of her contract would be carried out, a contract given only to a Shar'adore Shari'fal in the Talah Al'shar. When she first had spotted the pattern the plan had come to her easily. It was kind of fitting that it was the captains laziness and arrogance that would lead to her targets death.
"But how can you side with those who carry the blood of our family on their hands?" Her mind drifted for a moment to the meeting she recently had with her Sister. Her beloved honourable yet blindly naive Sister. She knew the meeting would have happened sooner or later but it was just a matter of time, a time which now had come and gone. Aleya let her mind drift back to that time when they hid in the bushes from the Legion, and to the look of horror and disgust on her sisters perfect face when she had returned wearing a shirt and pants which bore a few bloodstains. Her Sister had never understood her then, nor now. Aleya sighed knowing that her Sister could never understand her choice, it was beyond her ken.
She once again check that every thing was ready. Her hand slipped in under her tunic and immediate felt the comforting grips of the two daggers. Each dagger was ling and slim, and each had been very hard earned; The unrequited blade she fought long and hard against Moroes for, and the Fabled blade of the Scryers. The first she had soothed over a oil lamp, so that it would reflect no light at all, the other was polished until it reflected even the smallest flicker of light. Neither would have been very effective against the Captain's chainmail armour, but he would not be wearing it tonight. Like any night of heavy rain he would only be wearing heavy padded armour, to protected him from the weather, but certainly no protection from her deadly blades. This was the pattern, never one for doing anything the right way the captain did not want to bother drying up and oiling his chainmail after his shift, and never one shrugging off discomforts he would have liquor in his canteen, to warm his blood. Aleya slipped the blades from their sheathes, and waited above the forest path, the forest far more her home, than her marks.
"But they are evil Sister, they have killed and maimed those we have cared about. They follow Kael'thas Sunstrider!?!"
"No Merlet, we do not. Our politics and our way of doing things may not sit well with you and the strangers from beyond the void, but we accomplish the same goals and the same defence of Shattrath, and the same hunting of Illidan and Kael'thas. The Scryers have seen the insanity in Kael'thas's methods and manners and have turned from him. You forgave the humans, why not me and mine?"
The look of pain on her Sisters face cut her more than any knife or blade has, but it hardened her heart when she thought nothing else in this world could again. Both her operative and the one her sister reported to, sent them both on the same mission.
"This is the chance we've been waiting for, Aleya." Voren'thal said. "Not only have we uncovered the evidence we need to show our people who Kael'thas is really working for, but we can prove our strength by defeating his new masters.".
She saluted him as she left to defeat the Demonlord Socrethar. Even when Aleya went toe to toe with the Demonlord, her Sister firing volley after volley at him, she had been unable to look at her Sister again incase that same look of disgust marred her features.
She let her mind slip then into deep thought and her golden eyes stared ahead blankly in quiet contemplation seeming completely unaware of anything that was going on. This trance was only broken as she felt the cold drip of dew against her left hand. She shook her head slightly then to bring herself back around to the real world and looked down at the approaching Captain.
"No one can even begin to comprehend how much I miss Merlet by my side" she thought to herself, "as I should be by her own as I sometimes wonder if people even know if I am her sister. I long for the next time I will lay my eyes upon her face again yet I sometimes wish that moment never arrives for there is always a look of condemnation and disgust on her face. The only reasoning I can apply with this is the fact that I would savour the next meeting even more than I would if we saw each other each and every night. Love can be the most hurtful yet joyous experience at the same time and sometimes I yearn to be away from that yet another part wishes it. I guess it is the loner part in myself thinking that however.".
Her face that hid under the shadows of the hood began to change into a frown as she shook her head and allowed new thoughts to form.
"Life?" she thought. "Life is but a constant fight for survival for nearly everyone in the world for threats hang at each and every corner of the world. Whether it is the rampaging bands of orcs or goblins to the Lich and Shadow that plague us now, the threats still loom at large to each and every part of the world. It is this constant never-ending fight that I have resigned myself to yet my own childhood dreams and fantasies cannot come into being seeing as I am but one Talah Al'shar who can make little to no difference to the world.".
She again shook her head with a sigh ass he began to wonder on what her life really was.
"My own life?" she thought to herself... "My own life is one where I live alone in the shadows yet this does not cure my own need for socialising. I have no choice however for it is not me to live in the town with others and I always will be a loner at heart. My thoughts and problems are sometimes shielded from others, my friends, what little they are, included yet I do not need to bother them with my troubles. They have enough of their own and I have dealt with them since I left home. If people do not understand me and my will to help in whichever way I can and say I care too much to do what is necessary, to stand in the darkness and fight fire with fire so that they might have a nights sleep in their feathered beds, then to hell with them for it is my life. I will remain with my chuckles and laughter at the tree whilst helping others in a way they can never understand or at least approve and enjoy life the best I can."
She cast her eyes downwards then blinking away her thoughts to see the Captain now long down the path below her, she had missed him with the thoughts of her Sister. She slipped the deadly blades back into their sheathes then whilst smiling slightly, let her eyes close shut to sleep away the night until the time came to watch for the Captain's return. There would be another time....
((This was also written by Aleya, and added for flavor to the story.))
As the rain fell, she took no notice as it began to soak her cloak and mat her proud silver white hair to her head. She slowly trailed her fingers in the pool of icy water yet her reflection was obscured by the millions of little rings in the water.
She sat and hugged her knees, unmoving in the stillness of the forest by the pool as the rain fell all around her.
I am now utterly alone.
It was impossible to tell where her tears ended and the rain began. Her head raised looking into the forest perhaps at the sound of a noise, yet, in the blink of an eye she had faded from view as only the Kaldorei can.
She moved away, silently, invisibly. The tears on her face mingled with the rain yet her cloaking cared not, already sodden to the core....
The powerful sable wings of the gryphon sent them slicing through the air as it's cry reverberated off the nearby mountainside. The subtle movements of the rider's knees guided the powerful sable gryphon as she clasped her hands at her stomach, protecting the two tiny hands wrapped around her. She turned her head so that her silver streaming hair would not whip her passenger as she looked at the tiny drenai girl whose face should have been afraid as she passed over the Barrier Mountains, but was smiling with a rapture borne of exhilaration. Turning her head back to the course, her thoughts wandered to the past week she had received a letter from Matron Nightingale in Stormwind Cathedral… Shar'adore Shari'fal Aleya Darkendale. I hope this letter finds you well. I wanted to convey my personal thanks for your many visits throughout the year to Alexander. He talks about you constantly, how you have shown him so much of the world, from the Great Dam of Loch Modan to Theramore and his pride and joy, the autograph of Lady Jaina Proudmoore. He says you even took him to see someone called Lord Nefarian and how he watched from the corner but we’re not quite sure who that is. Anyway, I was writing to ask you if you’d like to meet another of our Orphans who, like yourself, is a lonely young girl staying in Shattrath. Matron Mercy of the Lower City Orphanage will be there should you wish to help us again, sincerely yours, Matron Nightingale. Her thoughts turned to the moment when she met the little blue girl from across the void, and how alone she looked in the Orphanage. She had never liked the Drenai or what they stood for in their arrogance of coming here by accident, and then having the gall to tell many in Azeroth that they knew and practised of the Light, and even more, how they should run their lives. But the little forlorn girl didn’t know any of that politicking, all she knew was she was alone in a war torn city clothed in rags and hungry.
WHEEEEEEEEEEE Both she and the gryphon turned their heads at the cry from the little drenai as Skyblade turned sharply around the mountainside and the whole world turned sideways. Aleya could swear she saw the great golden eye of Skyblade wink at the childe on his back, and she could only smile and put her hands out like wings along with the girl and they both cried out in joy as Skyblade dove for the ground and then climbed in an arc, their hair bolt behind him as he cut across the land like a black dart.
You must be Aleya. Matron Mercy said you’re going to be my big sister for Children's Week! I'm Dornaa, pleased to meet you. I've already made a list of places we could visit, if that's okay? I just know that we're going to have a great time together! How jubilant her face was, when Dornaa first met Aleya, knowing nothing of the outside world or that the Kaldorei assassin wanted nothing to do with the little blue child. But she’d made a promise to Alexander…. Please Aleya, he’d said to her, she’s like me and you’ve helped me turn my life around and I’m going to be a big soldier in the Alliance when I grow up. You helped me. Please, Matron Nightingale says you are someone who can help Dornaa like you helped me.
Watching the little girl see the ruins of Auchindoun did make the Night Elf smile, but her gaze turned to awe when she saw her place her hand on the Summoning Stone in the centre like a seasoned adventurer, not only that, but the Elf who appeared through the summoning portal thanked the little Drenai girl.. How had she known how to do that?? And her awe at the Dark Portal, standing near the terrible Pit Commander and his Fel Legions was inspiring when she asked what was on the other side of the great Portal. She clapped with joy when they had landed at Aeris Landing in Nagarand where she said her brother was learning from the Ethereal of the Consortium. She had sure grown on Aleya. They were talking one afternoon after coming back from the Exodar and meeting O’ros. “Mother and father were killed in the war, and I've lived in the orphanage all my life. It's nice, actually, but I've always wanted to go places and see things.”. Her own mind went back to that night so long ago at Nordrassil when her own parents were slain by the Burning Legion. This little girl, all alone in a strange world and surrounded by people who were all different from her, but no-one the same, whatsmoreso she was from another world. Alone but still with a smile on her face and so grateful for someone to talk to and show her around… it reminded the assassin of herself, how she had someone to show her around, but she didn’t need the Orphanage to find her a Big Sister, she had one…
Had, thought Aleya. And a single tear formed in her eye as Skyblade turn over Terrokar Forest, arcing high up over the trees towards their destination, and was blown away into the wind as two tiny blue hands hugged her waist tighter.
Dornaa had said to her that in the orphanage, the old priest that comes by told us stories about the Caverns of Time. He said that it sits in the middle of time, and is really important for keeping things straight. I don't know what that means, but he said that there were dragons there that were helping to save the world! I want to see a dragon! Aleya chuckled, for Alexander had said the very same thing to her, but he wanted to see the Alliance triumph over the dragon who had made him homeless and an orphan, and Aleya had obliged him in seeing Lord Victor Nefarian slain in his own tower with the help of her friends, and she had some sway with Nozdormu’s brood. She remembered the cries of joy when the Master of Time gave them a ride on Dragonback to the Caverns of Time wherein sat Zaladormu of the Bronze Dragonflight. The little girl was awed and waved in high spirits, but the reaction of Zaladormu and his keepers shocked Aleya. They moved to attack and Dornaa screamed and hid behind Aleya as she drew her terrible blades and crouched in the so familiar combat position with a look of such deadly determination even the legendary Guardian’s of Time took a step back and Zaladormu cried HALT! This childe will not be held accountable for what she will do, or fail to do in the future! With his blessing of Go in Peace, Zaladormu looked at Aleya and saw the deadly determination in her eyes to protect the life of Dornaa that perhaps it was the wisdom of the Dragons of Time not to judge on what one might do in their future and commit the deeds of the Black Dragonflight, or perhaps he saw the fearless and murderous determination reflected in the deadliest of blades in the eyes of an assassin who was more than willing to die for a little Drenai girl.
As they landed and hopped off Skyblade, Aleya smiled and handed to her a small red box tied in ribbons. I got you a present Dornaa. It’s just for you. For me?? Said the little Drenai, her eyes alight with curiosity as she tore open the red ribbons and pulled out the little toy dragon that Aleya had asked Alurmi, the quartermaster of the Caverns of Time for. Neato! A dragon of my very own! One day I hope that I'm lucky enough to have a dragon as a friend. The little girl bounced up and down and hugged the little toy dragon, and then fiercely hugged the kneeling assassin. This has been the best trip ever! I hope it never ends! Said the drenai childe, her cheeks wet with tears. I’ve had such a great time. You’re the best person in all of the worlds Aleya! You’re my big sister now! Both Aleya and Dornaa burst into tears and hugged each other tightly as Aleya felt the pain that now, she was the Big Sister, her own having turned her back on her. I’m going to miss you so much! When I grow up, I’m going to be just like you Aleya! Said the little childe, her arms wrapped tightly around her neck. At that the assassin untangled the little girl from her hair and looked at her, her glowing white eyes looking into the golden eyes of the Drenai childe. Promise me Dornaa, that you’ll never be like me. You have shown to O’ros and to Nobundo that you have the power inherent in your people and have been blessed by an Ancestor. You need to grow up to be a good girl and study hard and make friends. I’ll always come and visit you every day Dornaa and we’ll go on many more trips, but promise me you wont grow up to be like me. The little girl looked at her confused for a moment, and as if the wisdom of the great dragon was shown again, she nodded and kissed Aleya on the cheek before running into the Orphanage.
Aleya watched her disappear around the corner and then climbed up onto Skyblade, and with a powerful kick of his legs and wings, was airborne climbing high into the air over Shattrath. Her tears fell unashamedly down her face and she looked up into the clear blue sky.
Promise me Elune, that she won’t grow up like me, alone, misunderstood and deserted by her family….
Skyblade’s cry was lost on the wind as they climbed higher into the clouds and were gone.
(Also written by Aleya)
((It occurred to me that I've neglected this a bit since the Breaking Point tangent stole my attention.))
Wrapping her heavy fur cloak around herself and resting a hand on her stomach Merlet looks around the Argent Crusade base camp. It bustled like any other military camp, detachments getting ready to go out on orders, others coming back into camp. The cold north wind biting as it flowed through the camp, bringing scents and sounds to the night elf. Her ears and nose twitch at the scents from the infirmary. Blood and pain were upon the wind, keeping the healers busy and over worked. More cries reach her ears as another group returns. They had been ambushed, only a handful surviving and most of them were in poor shape. Shaking her head she looks around the infirmary tents within her vision. This was Glowrens’ new domain it seemed, she hoped she might see her niece for a few moments once her duties as courier were done.
Another scan of the camp leads her eyes over a blond head amongst the detachments getting ready to leave camp. Narrowing her gaze she smiles as Glow turns her head and salutes the Blood Elf giving out orders. Her armor gleaming in the watery Icecrown light the young Paladin makes ready to watch over her detachment as their healer. Even to a follower of Elune’s eyes, the faith energy that the girl held was evident. She looked tired, but eager to help where ever she may.
“Cal would be so very proud of her. She would have made Uther himself proud, to see her work now.”
Sighing softly she knew there’d be no time to speak with Glowren. A small frown of consternation flits over her face, as hazy lost memories flowed through her mind. So much had been lost to her, shaking her head to banish the thoughts she looks away from Glowren.
Under cover of her cloak she rubs her hand over her rounding belly, the twins were becoming a bit more active, and growing larger by the day it seemed. It was going on seven months now, and they were active, sometimes waking her at night with their movements. Smiling softly down at her stomach as another movement was felt. She runs her fingers lightly over the small bulge. The growth in her frame had necessitated larger armor, the new piece enchanted and warded with her precious cargo in mind.
“I know not when you will be born my children, but you will come into the world surrounded by love… Once that happens, I shall again work to make this world safe for you both. For now, I am relegated to smaller less dangerous scouting and courier tasks. I can’t endanger such a precious gift as you both are.”
Wrapping both arms around her stomach, she gently hugs it. Hathir’s great violet head brushes against her arm, bringing her out of her reflections. Fang dances around at her side and looking up at him she sees the dispatch officer coming towards her. Dropping her arms from around herself and pulling the cloak tight again with one hand, she turns to face him.
“These need to go to the Shadow Vault, this second package to the Tournament grounds, and various other missives are to go to those stationed about Icecrown.” He hands her each package, marked in runes she and only one other can understand. “Sentinel, your work is invaluable to us; it is one less person we need send out for these tasks, pulling them away from others.”
Nodding her head she accepts the missives.
“I am Sentinel no longer, Merlet will suffice, and I do what I can. Could you please pass along a message to Glowren of the Silver Hand?”
“Aye, easily done. That one is a wonder, the Light favors her greatly. Her work with our wounded and anyone else in need has shown her a strength and wisdom beyond her years.” His face holds an expression of respect, and perhaps a bit more.
Giving the human a smile, her ears twitching she nods her head.
“Aye, it does, and she is worthy of it, humbled by it. I did not know Uther Lightbringer, but I feel she follows in the path he envisioned for his Paladins. Please tell her I asked after her, and let her know I wish to speak with her on her next rest day.”
“Done Se.. Merlet. How do you know her?”
“She is my first husband, Caladorn’s niece, and so mine by marriage. Her uncle may be gone, but I am still one to watch over the ch.. young woman.” “Ahh.. I remember him, I spent time working at Light’s Hope. I’m sorry for your loss.”
Her face betraying none of the thoughts floating around in her head about her former mate, she nods. “Thank you, he died doing the job he was called to do. There is little else some of us can ask for at our end, than perhaps to be surrounded by family. Tis time I get back to work.”
Nodding to the man she turns and runs a hand over her netherdrake’s head.
“More work for us Hathir, let us be off. Fang, stay here, try to stop bullying the stable master into giving you dragon meat. The frost wyrms here are really not good for you.”
Climbing upon the drake’s back, saluting the dispatch officer she nudges the drake. With a powerful down stroke of his wings the netherdrake lifts off, throwing snow and dust about the raptor and the man. More wing beats carry them high into the sky over Icecrown as she waves to Glowren’s detachment.
“Elune light your paths warriors of the Argent Crusade, may you bring that bastard Arthas down.”
A white haired, light blue skinned pregnant trolless walked through the streets of Orgrimar, with a blue raptor and a small rabbit trailing behind her. Every so often she reaches up to scratch the tips of her ears, as they try to wiggle. She turns her head with a grimace to pinpoint noises that are drifting to her. Her hair, twisted around her head like a crown, and hanging down in the back swishes over her robes as she looks around, trying to find the meat vendor.
“Fang, I don’t know how a troll female does it… How do they manage to hear everything, and stay alert.. These tiny ears are blasted near useless.. Hukari’s ears are at least useful!”
Muttering low to the raptor in Kal’dorei the trolless shakes her head and follows the scents flowing to her on the air, down into the caverns of the Drag. The dim light there and close walls closed down slightly, filtering out some of the noises from the main court of the city. She looks down as a faint glow shines through her eyes in the dimness, not wishing to be noticed as odd or out of place. The raptor nudges her shoulder starting to turn towards a set of stairs that had nearly been missed. Pausing she turns to look at the sign, taking perhaps a bit longer than another might to read the sign. Nodding to herself she climbs the stairs and enters the butcher shop. In oddly accented orcish she asks for what it is she needs. The orc at the counter eyes her for a moment but gives her the items she needs and takes the coin she offers. Thanking the butcher, the trolless stows her purchases in her pack and quietly leaves the shop.
Walking back down the stairs and out of the Drag she sets a hand on her rounding stomach. A few more months and the twins would be here, and she would take them out with her on these short trips. The carry sack that she had been gifted with would work perfectly for the outings. A smile plays over her face as she finds a quiet corner to take a seat and watch the goings on in the Horde capital city. Fang nervously dances around on his feet, watching everything as though assessing threats to his mistress. Rupert hops over to sit curled against her leg, his ears and nose twitching. Chuckling at the antics of the two she pulls a skin of water from her pack and takes a drink as she watches the traffic in the city.
“Wrynn’s an idiot.. they are different yes, but not so much so. A harsher life has created a harsher manner of living, and they still laugh, love and play in similar ways to us. Relax Fang, I’m in no more danger here, like this than I am in Ironforge..”
She says this quietly, still speaking in Kal’dorei to her companions as she rests.
“This is why I’ll not fight for the Alliance with Wrynn as their leader.. I’ll not condone wantonly killing people because they have a different politic than I do.”
Her ears twitching slightly she listens to the languages being spoken, some harsh others not, only orcish was understandable to her. A small giggle slides out of her mouth as she watches the antics of children who follow their mothers, chasing one another around, playing similar games to those the children of Stormwind might. Many of which are a bit more serious, life in Duratar was not an easy one. Once in a while a familiar face would walk by and she raised a hand or nodded in greeting. Her disguise worked well enough for her to travel in the cities unmolested, those whom needed to know, knew the truth of her origins. A scowl passes across her face, remembering the Highborn chit from the last meeting she’d attended of the Tear’s Clan. Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly she stands, the idyll broken.
“Time to go home, I’ve a priestess to visit you two..”
Standing she gathers her pack, sliding it over both shoulders and turns to take the road out of the city. Her steps quick and sure one hand resting protectively over her stomach. With no worry that she’ll be accosted by the guards at the gate she nods to them as she walks out of the front gates of Orgrimar. Following the road till she is out of sight of the main gates she pauses to look around her. A look over her shoulder showing no one behind her leads to a quick jog off of the road and down into the rocky ravine near the road. With a thought her form shimmers and in place of the troll stands a night elf, wearing the same garb. A soft call into the wind and a white armored cat slides out of the shadows behind rocks. Smiling she reaches out an elegant hand to scratch behind Snow’s ears.
“I’m sorry my brave one, I cannot take you with me in the cities.. No troll would have a mount such as you. I can get away with Fang and Rupert.. but not you beautiful one.. Sasha would rip strips from my hide if I came home without her mate..”
The great cat purred quietly, butting his head under her hand like a common house cat. He seemed to understand, they all did that what she did was only truly dangerous if her ruse were to be discovered by one who did not understand that she only wished to learn. Not learn to spy, but to learn for the truth of it all. Grinning at the cat she stands for just a few moments with her companions.
“Right then, it’s a long way to Auberdine, and I’d like to get there before dark. Priestess is waiting for me… “
Fang lets out a grutteral whine and nudges his mistress towards the saddle as Snow drops his head to lift a most indignant Rupert up onto the saddle pommel by the scruff of his neck. Letting out a snort at the expression on Rupert’s face she slides into place. Letting out a soft roar, Snow sets off at a ground eating lope, taking the road from Duratar into the Barrens towards Kal’dorei lands.
--Lilithia 04:42, 17 January 2007 (GMT)