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The warrior looked from the death knight to the druid, neither of whom were saying that they had found anything. The druid was acting strangely, but then, he had been acting strangely since the start of the whole thing. Balanad wondered if the druid was upset over the ashes or was just strange in general. He had yet to change of out his cat form, and since Balanad wasn’t aware that the druid was cursed to remain that way he wondered why.
“Let’s head back to the Mirror and get some rest,” he said, gesturing towards the Mirror. “When the sun sets again, we will be moving towards Vordrasssil. I will take the first watch, the death knight the second and Feliathae the third.” He looked at Sam, “You get to sleep this time, you look as if you need it.”
He led the way back to the Mirror where the day passed without event. As the sun set and the camp packed up, he studied a map plotting the route to the Amberpine Lodge in the Grizzly Hills. While there was no longer a large contingent of people there, the base was still occupied. The satyr appeared to be traveling with a group of demons and that would be something hard to hide. He wondered if any of the hunters still at Amberpine saw anything—or better yet, killed any demons.
As they made their way towards the Grizzly Hills, he fell in step with the druid. “Sammuroth, is there anything wrong? Yesterday you looked as if you saw a ghost when we were investigating the scourge.”
Balanad's voice brought Sammuroth out of his shock, and he appreciated the warriors gesture, but he doubted he could get any sleep that would not be filled with restlessness. Though the night had passed uneventufully, the cat's assumption had been correct, he found no sleep that night, and it showed the next day. He was alert enough to keep a lookout for dangers, but his exauhstion caused him to lag behind the others a few times. As they traveled towards the Grizzly Hills Balanad fell into step with the druid, “Sammuroth, is there anything wrong? Yesterday you looked as if you saw a ghost when we were investigating the scourge.” The druid knew it was only a matter of time before he was questioned about his actions yesterday, an dhe got the distinct feeling that the others didn't completely trust him, which wasn't an unusual occurence. Sammuroth was a private person, and his less than forthcoming nature, caused others to think he was hiding something from them, and they were right. The problem was that that something was physically manifesting itself more and more frequently, and it took all of the cat's willpower to keep it at bay.
The druid did his best to smile, "It was simple surprise at seeing something that should not be, I saw something on one of the corpses, but I doubt it was anything that may identify who sent them. It was probably just a coincidence, or a relic from the past," anyone could have heard the doubt in his voice at that last statement. "I am sure you are curious as to what I mean, but it is a long story, and if you wish to hear it, it would probably serve us better, if I told everyone. I get the feeling the rest of you feel like I am hiding something from you, and that breeds distrust, if we are to accomplish our mission we all must trust each other, and I think it's time I stopped hiding my past from everyone around me.
Feliathae had once called Amberpine Lodge home, several years ago when the Alliance and Horde had pushed their way into Northrend with the intent to dethrone the Lich King. Her skills as a hunter had proved useful in providing sustenance to the people stationed at the lodge and while there were still some people remaining there—more because they had chosen to make Northrend their home rather than there being any work left to do—it was just a small number compared to what it had been. Still, it was good to see some old friends that she had left behind.
Aniaros Winterglade was one of those friends. Another hunter, he had spent many hours with Feliathae out in the forest hunting food and tracking down worgen. He had also spent many hours with her in more personal pursuits. The two had parted amicably when she left to return to Darnassas and remained in contact for some time through correspondence, but that had waned and stopped when she went to lend her aid in Mount Hyjal.
“Feliathae,” Aniaros greeted her first as the small party trudged their way up to the lodge. He turned and nodded politely to the others. He looked back at the huntress, “It has been some time, but old friends are always welcome. What brings you here?”
The first thing she had noticed was that he had cut his long pale blue hair. It had once streamed down his back but now it was shoulder length. His companion when she was with him, a large brown bear was not in sight, but a sleek snow leopard now sat beside him. Her own companion at the time, a cougar, had passed on in the days since her returned and she imagined that the bear had as well.
“We are tracking a satyr that stole the ashes of a druid… Baerythan,” she explained as he held the door open for the small band. She stood outside with him until everyone had entered.
Inside there was a cheerful fire burning in the hearth. Rugs dotted the floors and several chairs lined the walls. A long table was held in the back alcove; she had eaten many of her meals at that table.
A night elven woman with violet hair came forward from the kitchens. Shyael Featherleaf had been the resident priestess at the time. Feliathae was surprised to see her, having thought that the woman would have returned to Darnassas long ago. Shyael greeted the party warmly and promised that food would be on the way soon, before hurrying back into the kitchens.
As the group settled down, Balanad turned towards Sammuroth with an expectant look. “You mentioned needing to tell us about your past?” he prompted the druid. While the warrior was curious, he was also trying to be conscious of the druid’s feelings on the matter. Sammuroth had held back the information for a reason, but if that reason would affect the outcome of this venture, then certainly it needed to be told.
Sammuroth was worn, and exauhsted by the time the group arrived at Amberpine, he had spent some time in Grizzly Hills, but he had never stepped foot in Amberpine, he had simply been tasked with intel gathering, to see how much influence the Scourge had in the area. Back then he had done most of his work alone, but now the little lodge was a welcom sight to his tired eyes. The cat looked terrible, eyes sunken, and legs shaky from lack of sleep, he also looked as though he hadn't eaten in days. Shock, and concern could do that do a person, what he had seen back in Crystalsong still haunted his mind, even though he kept telling himself it was just a coincedence. As they entered the lodge the druid practically collapsed next to the fire, he was glad for the rest, but his relaxation was interrupted by Balanad's voice, “You mentioned needing to tell us about your past?” The cat sighed, "So I did, I don't know what you were told about me before we met, but let me start off by saying I am not Kaldorei, I am Quel'dorei, one of the Highborne. I know technically we are still the same people, but some Night Elves tend to look at me with distrust when they find out I am Highborne. I was born about one hundred years before the War of the Ancients, and my family, like most Quel'dorei were gifted mages, and they expected great things of me due to the fact I was born with amber eyes."
Sammuroth paused a moment to collect his thoughts before continuing, " Obviously I am not a mage, I denounced the workings of the arcane when I became old enough to learn. I had seen what that power had turned my family into, cruel, and wicked believeing they were above everyone, and they could do anything, including beating, and torturing the, "lowborn" servants. I found it disgusting, and when I decided to follow the way of the sword, rather than magic, I became my families favorite training dummy, I would be beaten for the slightest indiscretion. Such treatment would have broken anyone, and made them despair, but there was one light in my dark world, that of my sister Moriana. She would often stand up for me, and be punished in my place, not once did she curse me for it, she would always come back smiling, and with words of comfort, and encouragement. Now you may wonder what this has to do with anything, but this all leads up to the greatest sin anyone can commit."
The druid's eyes became unfocused, as if he was looking far off into the distance at something no one else could see. "I was a quick learner, and mastered the sword in only a few years, of course only Moriana was happy for me. I had just finished my training when Azshara opened up the portal to the Burning Legion, and I watched, powerless, and disgusted, as the demons slaughtered our people. My parents, and brother looked on in sick glee, what was one so young to do, it was a week or so after the initial incursion that heard about the resistance, and I decided then, and there to rid our world of the Legion. However, I couldn't allow my family to fall even further, I couldn't allow them to help Azshara anymore, so on the night of my escape, I murdered my family, my brother, my parents, a-and my beloved sister. Even then she performed one final kindness to me, and actually killed herself to save me from the pain of knowing that I had killed her, but if I had only acted faster I could have saved her, so I blame myself for her death, and feel as though, even though I didn't perform the act I still feel that I killed her. With her final breath she whispered that she loved me, and those words have haunted me for ten thousand years, how could she still love someone she knew was going to kill her family."
Tears began puring from the cat's eyes as he continued, "After the deed was done I fled Zin'Azshari, and was pursued by the Legion, it was lucky I stumbled upon a resistance patrol, the rescued me, and brought me back to their camp. Afterwards, I became the resitance's number one scout, and with my intel brought us many minor victories, that were not recorded in the history books. It was during one such intel gathering mission, that I met the demon Uk'thok the Rager, a fearsome, and powerful demon, who paralyzed his foes with his mere prescence. We fought, and to this day I do not know how I won, whether he underestimated me, or whether he allowed me to win, however it happened I came out victorious, or so I thought. After the war I became a druid, and it wasn't until our reawakening during the Legion's second invasion of Azeroth that I learned I had not heard the last of Uk'thok the Rager."
Tears were still coming from Sammuroth's eyes, but now they were tears of anger, "You may have noticed I have not once changed out of this form, that is not by choice, Uk'thok, with his final act had sent his soul into my body. There it rested unknown to me for ten thousand years, finally making itself known when I performed my feline transformation, it awoke, and trapped me in this form. Uk'thok feeds off of anger, and hatred, he must have decided my cat form, was the most feral, and would make it easier for him to achieve his ultimate goal, that is to take control of my body. I have fought, and held him off ever since, whether any of you noticed or not, I can feel myself slowly losing the fight, and it is becoming easier for him to take control. Lately his attepts have been coming more, and more frequently, and the constant struggle is beginning to take a toll on my body, as I am sure is obvious. I have been searching for years for a way to be rid of him, he is to ingrained into my mind, and soul to risk an exorcism, I have been told that my mind, and soul could break from the attempt. Obviously my search has not born any fruit, and I don't know how much longer I can keep him at bay, but I am still hopeful to find a way to get rid of him before that happens."
The druid could feel Uk'thoks sprit's agitation at his words, but he ignored it, "Again you may wonder what my past has to do with today, you have obviously taken notice Balanad that I have been acting strangely since we found those Scourge. Well now I tell you why, it seems my past has come back to haunt me," the cat began scratching out a picture on the floor, apicture depicting a burning moon. "I apologize for the floor, I found this crest on one the undead, something I never thought I would see again outside of memories. This is the crest of my family, the family Moonfury, I changed my name after I began training as a druid to Stormfury, in hopes of leaving my past behind. The demon, however, likes to use my past to torment me, and now it seems my past has returned in the waking world as well." The druid paused to let his story sink in, "Now you know about my greatest sin, and my greatest secret, I do not know if the crest I found on the undead was merely coincedence, or something else. I pray it is the former, it has to be right I killed them all, how could it be anything but a coincedence right, right?" Sammuroth's voice sounded desperate, almost as if he was begging it to be true, "Anyway now you know everything, I wouldn't blame you if you wanted me off the mission, but I couldn't keep this from you, not if I hoped to have your trust, but I will return if you cannot trust having a demon possessed Highborne on this mission." Having finished his story Sammuroth turned his head to stare into the fire, trying to hide his anguish, and his tears, but if one looked closely enoug they could see the cat shake with quiet sobs, the floodgates now open after reliving the most painful period of his long life.
Edited by Sammuroth on 3/17/2013 6:15 PM PDT
Balanad and Feliathae listened quietly as Sammuroth told his story. At several points, shocked gasps made their way past their lips as they tried to understand what the druid was telling them. Certainly, many night elves had found themselves pitted against family members as Queen Azshara’s reign came crumbling down, but the twist that Sammuroth had to his tail was unparalleled by anything the huntress or warrior had heard prior.
When he explained about the crest, Balanad sat forward, looking at the symbol on the floor, not really caring about the marred wood. Over his shoulder, Feliathae and Aniaros peered at the symbol.
“Is someone trying to taunt you?” the warrior asked. “If so, they are coming a very long way to do so… and they would have to have had knowledge of where you were heading.” He sat back in his chair, casting a concerned look towards Feliathae. The look turned to a frown when he noted how close Ariaros was standing to her.
“As far as I know,” Balanad spoke again, the frown still in place as he looked at Arianos—Arianos frowned back—“no one outside of Darnassus knew we were coming.”
“It sounds as if someone has been tracking you.” Arianos asked the druid, deciding to ignore the warrior for now. He would figure out what the issue was later. “If they are still around, I will find them. They will not be expecting me to be the one looking.” He whistled for the cat and shoulder his bow before heading towards the door.
Balanad turned his attention back to Sammuroth. They had already lost quite a number of people on this trip—all of whom had to turn back for various reasons—and he was loathed to lose another. Ziantov had cut his way through everyone at the shrine in Winterspring and the warrior did not doubt that the demon would be a formidable foe. They would need all they help they could get.
“Stay,” he said finally to Sam. “However, you will not take any watches… if what you say is true, you need your wits about you to keep this demon inside you contained. Lack of sleep will not aid in that venture.”
Shyael made an appearance to say that the food was prepared. She noted everyone’s sullen appearance and wondered what had transpired while she had been in the kitchen. “Where is Arianos?” she asked, looking around the room.
“He had to check on something,” Feliathae said, turning her gaze from the druid to the priestess. She had noted that the druid was shaking and unsettled—mostly because she was very familiar with cats—and hoped that he would get a hold of himself before the next morning, when they would head towards Vordrassil in hopes of heading off the satyr.
Sammuroth appreciated Balanad's wilingness to let him continue on the mission, snd even more so for his consideration about the druid's internal struggle. "T-Thank you Balanad, I promise I will not hold you back, but for now I think I will try and get some rest. I will eat later if that is alright," not waiting for an answer the cat lay his head down on his paws, and allowed his exauhstion to take him to the world of sleep. Whether due to having finally told his story, or the security he felt at having such kind companions, the druid's sleep was not interrupted by the nightmares that normally plagued him.
Near Amberpine Lodge
The little figure darted through the trees, it had lost sight of it's target for awhile, which had not made The Master very happy, but it had finally tracked it's target to Amberpine Lodge. The little imp did not know what might have transpired while he had lost the cat, but he didn't believe it could be that damaging. Sneaking up to a window the little demon looked into the Lodge to see the druid laying by the fire, apparently asleep, heh heh, the poor guy must be exauhsted, poor little kitty. He could see the others of the druid's company here, and there, apparently they were settling in for dinner, and everything the imp saw, so too did his master. Illisadel sat in his luxurious tent in Grizzly Hills, Zara sitting on his lap stroking his hair, the sorceror smiled, "I see you little brother, and soon you will see me too, keep an eye on him my minion." The imp nodded, and whispered "Yes, Master," he sat on the window sill, and never took his eyes off of the cat.
Arianos carefully searched the area surrounding the lodge. He did not find anything out of the ordinary. Concerned, he made his way back to the warmth of the building and spoke quietly to Feliathae, who was awake and tending the fire in the hearth when he returned.
“Nothing,” he said quietly, as not to disturb the others. “If he is being tracked or watched, it is by magical means and unfortunately, I cannot detect those.”
“At least you tried,” Feliathae replied, setting another log on the fire.
She was crouched by the hearth, Hemmingway was spread out to one side, a large living feline rug enjoying a spot of warmth on an otherwise cold night. Of course, all nights in Northrend were cold. Perfect for cuddling up with someone. The two remained in front of the hearth—he standing, she kneeling—for quite some time.
“Do you miss it here?” Arianos asked softly, his amber gaze looking down at her.
“Sometimes,” she said slowly. “I think about being here, what it was like… of course there were times that it was quite trying, but…” she shrugged, “there is a peacefulness here that I have not found elsewhere… well, not including Winterspring. It was quite peaceful there.”
“Winterspring? Is that where you have been?”
“For a few years. I have also spent time in Teldrassil.”
“If you were staying in Winterspring, you might as well return here. At least we have some areas that are not covered in snow.” He slanted her a curious look, “What do you mean by, ‘peaceful’?”
“The ashes I spoke of?”
“They were in Winterspring at a shrine. The satyr killed nearly almost everyone there to get them.”
“Feliathae!” He dropped to one knee to hug her. She did not resist. “Were you hurt?”
“No,” she shook her head, the tears coming to her eyes as she thought about that—really thought about it—for the first time since it happened. “I was out hunting and came back…” her voice broke, “and almost all of them were dead…”
“Shhhh,” he held her tightly, her body a familiar fit to his. Memories flooded back to him, but he pushed them aside to concentrate on her pain. “It isn’t your fault. You had no idea what would happen.”
She turned towards him, resting her head against his chest and wept in his arms, unaware that above her, looking over a balcony, Balanad watched the scene below with gritted teeth.
Outside on the window sill the imp watched everything, he never understood the mortal emotion of love, it did nothing, but cause unrest. To the imp the succubi had it right by focusing on lust, and not love, well he wasn't so sure about Mistress Zara anymore, but he didn't dare say anything. The imp could tell that the Night Elf on the balcony was feeling the mortal emotion of jealousy, and jealousy bred contempt, which usually led to violence. It was all quite amusing to the imp, it was love that almost broke Sammuroth Stormfury, because of the guilt he felt at killing his beloved sister. To the demons love was a weakness, that could be used, and manipulated, and in his tent Illisadel thought the same. Contrary to what Zara may believe he held no love for her, but the obvious affection she had for him was something he could use, until he did not need her anymore. When that time came he would discard her, he had not yet decided whether he would kill her or not, but in the end Zara was nothing more than a tool to Illisadel Shadowfury, something to be used, and discarded when it was no longer needed.
He briefly wondered if he could use the Night Elf called Balanad's jealousy to his advantage, but he dismissed it, if everything went his way the Ziantov, and his brother's companions would kill each other off. He was only interested in killing his brother, vengeance was a much stronger emotion, than love in his warped mind, and he would get his revenge at all costs. "Rest my foolish little brother, and you as well those who travel with him, by the end of this you will all be dead, and I will have gained everything I want."
The death knight had listened intently to the goings ons; then she had begged off and left the common room. She didn't need sleep. She did, however, need to deal with the repercussions in her mind of being back in northrend after all this time.
Allaynna Kidrain was off in her own world. She had retired to a room, from whence she prowled out the window and onto the roof of the building easily, even in her plate. From her position, she could see the man walk outside, look around, and then walk back in, and did nothing. She was less concerned with the present than the past. That tended to be her curse; living in the past.
Doomed to relive her life, or rather unlife.
After a long while of sharing at the sky and wondering about who she had become, Allaynna Kidrain swung back into her room, and from there proceeded back onto the balcony overlooking the common room. Coming to a halt at the sight of Balanaad.
Showing a surprising amount of tact for a dead woman, Allaynna wandered over to lean on the railing beside him, catching sight of the two below and hazarding a quiet guess, "Don't like that?"
Balanad watched Feliathae and Arianos for a moment longer before he looked over at the death knight, his face a mixture of regret and discontent.
“No, I don’t like that,” he said quietly, nodded his head to where Arianos held the weeping huntress. “However, I am not certain I have a word to speak about it, considering her sister is my lover.”
He looked back at pair on the first floor before sighing and turning away towards the room where he was sleeping.
Feliathae was unaware of the small scene unfolding on the balcony above her. Instead, she wept all the tears that she had held back over the past few days. Arianos simply held her while she sobbed. She was an old and dear friend who was hurting; the thought brought a pain to his heart. She was normally a happy and vibrant person, seeing her reduced to tears was unsettling.
“I am sorry,” she sniffed when the torrent was over. She plucked at his wet shirt, soaked with her tears. “I have made a mess…”
Arianos placed a finger over his lips, “No, I don’t care about my shirt. What you told me… that is terrible. For you to come back and find them… Feliathae, you should have stay in Darnassus and healed.”
“No, I couldn’t do that,” she hiccupped. “I could not stay idle over this. I have to see this demon dead!”
The tears were spent and the old fire was returning. Arianos smiled grimly, wondering if it was a wise decision that she come. Vengeance never ended well; he was living proof of that.
Allaynna nodded at the man, and as she had nothing of that wonderful, thoroughly mortal emotion called embarrassment, the death knight remained on the balcony overlooking the two elves, considering Balanad's words. It was, she decided in the end, another flaw of the living. The dependence on one another. The need for companionship. Lovers.
She remained still and eerily quiet without breath to fill her lungs, and watched, her icy fingers wandering to the wedding band around her neck, a reminder of different days.
She remained that way for a long while, watching, before finding some almost human bit of decency and wandering downstairs slowly, intentionally clattering a step to alert the two to her presence, then meandering over towards them.
When she finally spoke, her voice was low and soft, almost human save for the underlying echoing tones, "Feliathe. I have no need for sleep. You both do however. Go. Rest. I will stay up."
Allaynna's statement clearly extended to the man as well, and she nodded, pulling out a chair and plunking into it contentedly. Or Rhee, as contentedly as a deaths knight can look.
Feliathae nodded to the death knight who offered to take watch and slowly moved up the stairs towards the room where she was sleeping. Arianos followed and the two paused at the door.
“Get some sleep, tomorrow will be a long day if you are planning on investigating Vordrassil. There are three pieces of it left. There are some maps here you can take with you to help you navigate.” Arianos spoke quietly as so not to disturb anyone who might be sleeping.
“Thank you, maps would be helpful,” she sighed.
“I can come along as well,” he continued. “I hope that my presence won’t be needed but after what you described, it may be prudent to have a few extra people. I am certain that Shyael will lend her aid, too.”
She nodded. “Let Balanad know in the morning when you see him.”
The two stood there for a long moment before he reached down and squeezed her hand—something chaste that reiterated that now they were only friends. She gave him a tired smile before turning to go into her room.
Hemmingway was already there, the great cat sleeping soundly on a rug. Feliathae sank down on the bed and watched the cat for a long moment, envious that he could sleep so easily. He didn’t have thoughts churning through his head, keeping him away with ‘what ifs’ and ‘whys’. Eventually, her eyes closed and she fell asleep.
The warrior sat at a table in a side room, mulling over some maps the next morning. Normally, he preferred to wait until nightfall to be up and moving about, but time was of the essence so they would move out again this morning with only a few hours’ worth of sleep. When they had the ashes in their possession and the demon was dealt with, then they would take a well-deserved rest.
He looked up when a shadow fell over him and frowned when he saw Arianos standing there.
“Yes?” he asked a bit impatiently.
Arianos raised an eyebrow at the curt tone. “I would like to offer to come with you today,” the hunter said. “Shyael is will to come as well; she is an accomplished healer.”
Balanad opened his mouth then shut it. He was about to refuse the offer out of jealousy but realized that it would be foolish to do so. He nodded instead. “Your help and Shyael’s would be most welcome.”
“I am also familiar as to where the pieces of Vordrassil lay, perhaps if you tell me a bit more about the satyr, I can better discern which piece it would head to.”
Balanad set down the map and explained their concerns and the vision that the shaman had. “The demon wants to corrupt the ashes and then use them to corrupt the land.” He finished, rubbing a hand over his face.
“The heart of Vordrassil,” Arianos said quietly, placing a finger on the map to indicate the location. “It is the larger of the pieces and the one that bears the most corruption.”
The warrior nodded slowly, thinking that that made sense. “Then we head to the heart first.”
Arianos turned to leave, but Balanad stopped him.
“How well do you know Feliathae?” he asked the hunter, not looking up at the man when he posed the question.
“Quite well,” Arianos replied, seeing no reason to lie. “We were very good friends when she was stationed here.”
“Very good friends,” this time Balanad looked at the man, measuring the hunter against himself. “You mean you were more than friends.”
“Yes, we were; but no longer. We parted ways some time ago when she returned to Teldrassil and I stayed here. We do remain friends though.” The hunter thought he knew where the conversation was heading.
“Last night… you were with her…”
“Not in that way,” Arianos cut him off. “If I remember correctly, you are seeing her sister? She spoke of it on rare occasions when she was stationed here. You are that Balanad?”
‘That Balanad.’ The term almost made him want to grit his teeth, but he sighed in resignation instead. “I am… and I am still seeing her sister,” he said quietly, “although there are times when I think I made a mistake.”
“Mistakes do have a way of haunting us, don’t they?” Arianos gave him a humorless smile before walking off.
Sammuroth awoke the next morning still fairly exauhsted, but not nearly as badly as yesterday. he wished he could stay asleep, but he knew there was no time for that. The druid got up, and walked around peering in on the staredown between Balanad, and Arianos, probably not a good idea to interrupt. Walking away from the scene, he wondered where the others were, they needed to set out as soon a possible, if they were to intercept the satyr, before he corrupted the ashes. He was still concerned of the possibility of someone tracking him, he was an expert tracker, and hunter, how could he not notice someone spying on him. Not to mention even if the cat didn't notice the "other" surely would, if neither of them had detected someone trailing them, it boded ill. The question though was if he was being tracked, who was behind it, and why, the only people from his past that would want him dead, would be his parents, and his brother, but he had left them in pools of their own blood. So who was after him, had Ziantov found out about his past somehow, and was trying to cause descension, but the satyr didn't even know they were after him did he. The cat growled in frustration, so many questions, and not enough answers, and it was driving the druid insane.
"Well it seems our little imp friend has had more uses than keeping an eye on my brother," Illisadel had just broken the connection to the imp, after hearing Balanad, and the other Night Elf, discuss where the satyr had gone. "So if the fools are correct the little satyr is heading for Vordrassil's heart, perhaps we can prepare a little welcome for my brother, and his friends." Zara looked at her master, and grinned, "Shall I prepare our forces to move out," the elf nodded, "yes my dear, we make for Vordrassil's heart." As the succubus left the sorceror whispered, "Soon brother, soon we shall be reunited, and what a happy occasion it will be, well for me anyway heh heh heh HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"
The Grizzly Hills had not changed much from the time that she had lived there. They still were shrouded in tall trees, had fields of violet flowers, and still bore the dense population of wolves and bears. It had remained untouched by the scourge for the most part and she wondered if the Alliance had not ventured into Northrend what it would look like today. What it would be like if Arthas has not fallen?
Her thoughts were interrupted when Arianos, who had been leading the party stopped.
“There,” he said, pointing through a copse of trees towards a clearing. “That is the heart of Vordrassil.”
Feliathae peered through the foliage, looking over what appeared to be a giant stump laying on the ground. The heart was easily the size of Amberpine Lodge and it had an altogether eerie feeling about it. She swore she could see black tendrils of smoke rising from the dark wood but she could not focus on it. It was almost as if it only existed in the periphery of her vision… much like a ghost.
The entire trip she had had the feeling that they were being watched, but she could not see anything. She wondered if she should dismiss the feeling as paranoia, but such feelings had saved her neck in the past and once again, she found herself carefully looking around the area for whoever or whatever might be tailing them but again came up with nothing.
“Arianos,” she turned and spoke quietly to the other hunter. “You haven’t noticed anything tailing us, have you?”
He shook his head, “No, I have not, but something does feel off. Perhaps the presence of the demon?”
“Perhaps,” she muttered, looking back towards the heart.
“Sammuroth,” Balanad, who had also been looking over the heart, “can you sneak up there undetected and see if there is any activity?”
Sammuroth had followed the others quietly, his mind plagued by his unfounded concerns, like Feliathae he felt as though they were being watched. He had learned long ago to not just dismiss such feelings as paranoia, but who or what was trailing them he had no idea. His keen feline ears picked up the two hunters conversation, and he whispered, "We are indeed being followed, but whether it is a minion of Ziantov, or something else, I do not know, best keep on your guard." The druid turned as Balanad spoke to him, " It should be easy enough, no guarantee I will find anything though." As he finished his sentence the cat faded out of sight, blending perfectly into the shadows, and he slowly made his was towards the clearing. Something in his heart told him something bad was about to happen, but what that might be he had no idea.
Illisadel smiled as he watched his brother leave the others, turning to Zara he said, "Set the undead we have remaining, along with our demons loose, on my brother's companions. Make sure to kill them all I could always use some more undead servants," the succubus smiled, and bowed as she left their little camp. "Now should I deal with my brother first or acquire the ashes decisions, decisions, heh heh heh hahahahahaha."
Woods around the Heart
The quiet of the forest was broken by the sound of the moans of the dead, and the stamping hooves, and boots of demons, the sound of their marching echoed throughout the area. All around the forest blank soulless, and burning fel green eyes appeared in the shadows, all of them hungry for the blood of mortals.
The druid stalked forward, having seen nothing of import so far, where was the satyr surely he should have been here by now. While he meticulously searched the are a faint scent on the wind caught his attention, the scent of sulphur, and decay. The direction of the wind told him that the smell was coming from the way he had just come, and he knew what the smell meant. Dropping his stealth the druid rushed back through the trees towards the others, he had to warn them, he just hoped he wasn't too late.
Things had been going quite well. The stupid elves at the library had been taken completely by surprise and he thought that he had managed to kill all of them—he didn’t realize that a hunter had been out of the building at the time he attacked. In his mind, it would take several days for the night elves to realize what had happened and by then it would be too late.
He doubted that they even knew by now. Perhaps tomorrow or the day after, but by tomorrow he would be well on his way to Nordrassil with the corrupted ashes of his nemesis. He would watch the great tree shrivel and die with great glee. What a triumph! Using the ashes of a beloved druid who gave his life to save the land to corrupt one of the very things he was fighting for.
The heart of Vordrassil was in sight and the satyr, along with a small band of demons was quickly closing in. He stopped for a moment and laid a hand against the wood of the tree and took a moment to savor the corruption that flowed through it. Ah yes, the failed world tree. A glorious sight to behold! Perhaps once he had corrupted Nordrasssil, he would return here for a while and see what havoc he would wreck upon the local wildlife.
His thoughts were interrupted by a moan. Undead? He snarled at the thought. He didn’t want the mindless creatures interrupting him and undead were indiscriminate in who they attacked.
“Spread out and see what the issue is,” he ordered the imps that accompanied him. “I want any issues dealt with so there is no interruption in my plans."
The huntress watched the area around the heart as the druid made his way in. She lost sight of him quickly as he faded from view, but she was not concerned with him—she wanted to make certain that nothing was entering the area.
Hemmingway growled at her side. The great cat raised his nose to the air, catching a familiar and unsettling scent and slunk to the ground as he walked around, locating where it was coming from. The huntress looked down and recognized the pose: the cat was stalking something.
She looked around, her mind trying to tell her that something was wrong but she could not quite put her finger on it until she realized that all the sounds of the forest were gone.
“Something is here…” she said quietly, pulling her bow to the ready. Beside Arianos did the same just as Sammuroth burst forward from the heart heading straight for them.
Edited by Evara on 3/25/2013 7:54 PM PDT
Allaynna's sword had yet to return to its resting place on her back during this trip. She shared the unease of what seemed to be the rest of the group, her eyes intent beneath her helmet, and cautious. She had remained silent for most of the trip, eyes darting around, runes on her sword and armor gleaming sickly in the light.
She was still not breathing, having dropped all pretense of making the elves comfortable with her presence. They could suck it up and deal with her condition. It wasn't as if her nose worked too well at this point anyhow. It had been broken when she was killed the first time, and never set to heal straight, which didn't help anything.
When they halted as Sam raced off, the death knight turned in a slow circle, her eyes fiercely peering into the undergrowth, her icy chill enough to frost the grass beneath her feet with a thin layer of ice as the plants wilted and died. Something was not right.
As Sam raced back into the clearing, the short woman with the freezing aura drew in breath in a surprisingly mundane motion. In a low voice that carried across the clearing, she said simply, "Undead" and squared her stance, expecting a fight.
The others were in view, and Sam returned just as the Death Knight muttered about undead, the cat shook his head, "More than just undead I'm afraid. Do you feel it, do you smell it the foul taint of the Legion," just then he could hear the stamping of the demon's feet, there had to be at least ten of them, maybe more. "They are coming I suggest you prepare for battle," the cat extended his claws, and crouched, just as the first undead sprang from the forest closely followed by a felguard. The creatures poured from the trees, all being followed by felguards, the druid could also make out the faint sound of giggling coming from all around them, a very feminine giggling, "Succubus."
The sorceror made his way across the clearing, he had decided to let his minions deal with his brother, and his companions, though with strcit orders that Sammuroth was to be brought to him alive. A faint tingling in his mind alerted Illisadel to the approach of Ziantov's minions, and he quickly hid himself, and watched, smiling, as they passed by. He wondered what Ziantov had left to accompany was he alone now, or did he have more minions still with him. "Well I guess we will find out soon enough," leaving his hiding place the sorceror followed the path he had seen the imps come from, "oh, my dear Ziantov you will learn your place on the evil foodchain, and you will not enjoy the experience."
Feliathae and Balanad
Feliathae tuned her ears into the word. “There was a succubus when we were attacked before. She was the one that spoke of this ‘master’.”
She didn’t wait for a reply. She pulled up her bow and nocked an arrow before slowly turning to scan the area around them.
“There was no mention of a succubus from the satyr we captured,” Balanad frowned. “So either he was lying to us or there is another party interested in what is happening here.” He knew that either scenario could be true, but he thought that the satyr had been lying. There simply had not been enough time for word of the stolen ashes to reach far nor enough time for where the ashes were heading… he stopped in mid-thought and uttered an oath.
All the people who thought they were being followed… was there another party here interested in the ashes? That didn’t bode well but at the moment, he did not have time to consider the option as a group of undead and demons broke through the trees heading straight for them.
Balanad charged forward to meet a felguard, the demon momentarily taken off guard by the bold move, but he quickly rally. From behind him, Balanad could hear the faint twang of Feliathae’s bow as arrows flew past him, picking off the shambling dead one by one. Hemmingway charged forward as well, teeth and claws bared as he tore into the attackers.
“Watch your flanks!” the warrior called as he swung again, going toe-to-toe with the felguard.
Ziantov watched the scene unfolding with undisguised glee. He craved chaos and bloodshed and this was going to be good. His imps were returning with news of the attack and while the satyr did not know yet who initiated it, it was providing excellent cover for him to slip into the heart and corrupt the ashes. The spell that he had taken from the Ruins was ready to be cast and all he needed was the time to perform it.
He slipped away from his hiding spot and headed towards the heart, using the melee as cover. “Fight away, you fools, I shall complete my task and be done before your corpses even hit the ground.”
He was brought up short of the heart when a figure stepped out in front of him. “What is this?” he snarled, looking over the man instantly recognizing him as highborne. “I suppose this is your doing,” He waved a hand towards the melee. “Very fortunate for me. Now, out of my way,” he ordered as two saytrs stepped up to either side of him.
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