Araatris In the deepest part of that night, Rhoelyn stirs in her small, borrowed apartment, waking slowly at a sound. “Kaerryn?” She rubs her bleary eyes.
Rhoelyn “Yeah, it’s me.” She stares at the letter in her hands. There’s a dim light streaming across the paper from the window. “Sorry I woke you.”
Araatris “Is something wrong?” Rhoelyn asks, sitting up.”Yes,” the other answers. She lays the letter carefully on the nearby table before stepping closer.
Rhoelyn Kaerryn face is unreadable in the darkness. “They’re not returning me to the team. I’m to head to Elune’s temple,” She clenches her fists.
Araatris “You wanted revenge,” the priestess observes softly. “Yeah,” Kaerryn answers. “I think I deserve it.” Her voice becomes rough with anger.
Rhoelyn Rhoelyn observes quietly, “You know that revenge would only place the others in danger. The priestesses at the temple could use your help.”
Araatris “Oh, I know it will. But that was sort of the intent.” When the warrior leans forward and grabs Rhoelyn‘s arm in a painful grip, (c)
Araatris (c) the moonlight slants across her hate-filled face. Rhoe gasps just as Kaerryn blows a handful of shimmering dust in her face.
Rhoelyn She finds herself unable to call out as her eyelids grow heavy. Rhoelyn collapses. Kaerryn mutters, “I’ll have to make do with you for now.”
Araatris The human lays her back on her bed as Rhoelyn coughs and sputters. “You weren’t supposed to succeed. I’d have Taken them all if not for you.”
Rhoelyn Kaerryn pulls a stone from her pocket. “Don’t worry. We need you alive for now.” She grins darkly, “They’ll think you’ve gone with me.”
Araatris Sitting down on the bunk’s edge, she pulls the insensate priestess against her. The two disappear with a whisper, leaving only a letter behind.
Rhoelyn Nysse watches Rhese read the note for the fifth time. She grins wryly, “Reading it again isn’t going to change what it says, Rhese.”
Araatris He frowns, a somewhat petulant version of the expression, and glances up. “But why did they leave so early? And without saying goodbye.”
Rhoelyn “It must have been urgent. I’m disappointed, too,” She looks around the room. “We’ll go visit them soon now that I’m officially recovered.”
Araatris With a sigh, Rhese folds the paper back up and tucks it in a pouch on his belt. He summons a smile for Nysse. “You’re right, of course.”
Rhoelyn She pats his arm, “We should go. They’re waiting for us.” Nysse strides to the door. “It’ll be good for us to be active. It’s been too long.”
Araatris He follows her. “I don’t know about you, lovely, but after yesterday I’m looking forward to sharpening my claws on… well, anything, really.”
Rhoelyn Nysse laughs, “Hopefully not just anything or do we need to have you re-trained? I’m fairly good with animals.” She winks at Rhese.
Araatris “This particular animal has noticed.” He says it with a sultry tone, reaching out to take her arm and tug her to a stop alongside a building.
Rhoelyn She turns and meets his gaze, but is unable to stop blush rising to her cheeks. “T-that’s good.” Nysse stutters at her sudden loss for words.
Araatris Rhese takes her other arm as he scrutinizes her, suddenly serious. “You’re definitely fine? No headaches? If you need more time to rest…”
Rhoelyn “I promise I feel fine. No headaches. I’m not even sleepy.” Nysse smiles at him, “I’ll tell you even if I think it’s just a normal headache.”
Araatris “Deal,” he nods but doesn’t release her. He leans close enough that she can smell last night’s burnwine on his breath. “The slightest twinge.”
Rhoelyn Nysse raises both eyebrows, but nods briefly, “I will.” She gently taps his chest with the back of her hand, “Now stop worrying. I’m fine.”
Araatris He nods and releases her arms, his expression lightening into a smile. “Anything my lady wishes. Now, really. We should go. Stop holding us up.”
Rhoelyn She laughs, “Who do you think they’re going to believe held us up?” Nysse pushes him forward, “They’ve seen me ready in mere minutes, Fuzzy.”
Araatris He laughs, trotting forward. “Wait. Why do I think there’s a story here that I really want to hear?” He teases as they round the corner.
Rhoelyn “I had incentive.” Nysse says mysteriously. She waves to the others talking near the gate and shakes her head as Tsume races ahead to them.
Araatris Calinea, Dethedrus and Wrune have their heads together, talking quietly to the side. Valerio waves as Tsume and Vulf circle each other.
Rhoelyn Nysse calls out once they’re closer, “Hey Val! Seems these two are fast friends.” She ruffles Vulf’s fur. “How is everyone doing today?”
Araatris Val winces and puts a hand to his head. “Quieter, if you please.” Rhese chuckles, leaning close to faux-whisper, “No one’ll heal his hangover.”
Rhoelyn She speaks softly, “Take pity on him.” Nysse crosses her arms, “You know you should be nursing one, too. I smelled the wine on your breath.”
Araatris Uncontrite, Rhese goes over to clap his poor friend overly-hard on the back, eliciting a new groan. “Sometimes, it’s good to be a druid.”
Rhoelyn Nysse stares intently Rhese, “And what is the kind druid going to do for his friend?” The wolves stare between them waiting for what’s next.
Araatris Before Rhese can respond, the hunter growls, “Perhaps kind, sympathetic Nysse will sit with me while I recover. I find myself feeling chatty.”
Rhoelyn “It would be my pleasure, Val.” Nysse gestures to a bench, “Rhese let us know when the others are ready. Vulfenstein. Tsume. Watch Rhese.”
Araatris “Let’s not be hasty, now,” Rhese grimaces. “I know how you like your surly silences.” His movement is halted by a pair of well-trained wolves.
Rhoelyn Nysse smiles innocently, “Perhaps if you wouldn’t mind lending a hand, then we could stay and talk, but I can’t let Val suffer by himself.”
Araatris Giving her an amused look, he raises his hands in surrender. “Anything my lady wishes.” His power flares as he sends magic to Val’s aching head.
Rhoelyn “Tsume and Vulf, you can stand down.” She comments to Rhese, “See how easy that was.” She chuckles and turns to Valerio, “Feeling better?”
Araatris “Much, thank you.” Val smiles at her. “That was well done. You may be the one to civilize him, yet.” Rhese grumbles something unintelligible.
Rhoelyn Nysse pats Rhese’s arm. “I find a certain charm in the wild.” Her gaze locks on the group deep in discussion, “What’s going over there?”
Araatris Shadow appears out of nowhere behind her. “It’s an argument, not that our trio of goody-two-shoes knows how to do it. Not even a drawn dagger.”
Rhoelyn She jumps slightly and spins around. Her hand rests lightly on a dagger at her hip, “I think they prefer less blood. What’s the argument?”
Araatris He grins, all vicious teeth. “Like I said. Don’t know how to argue.” “Shadow.” Val prompts. “Yah, yah. Keepyer tallhide pants on, big guy.”
Rhoelyn Shadow finally continues, “Ysiel’s not happy that one of her girls nearly died. Rumor is she’s thinking ‘bout pullin’ support.” Nysse frowns.
Araatris Rhese frowns as well, stepping up beside Nysse. “She can’t do that. We need this base if we’re going to attack the Machine. And Nysse is fine.”
Rhoelyn “The boss lady just got the report from the priestesses an hour ago.” Shadow shrugs. Nysse turns and starts running, “Then there’s time.”
Araatris Rhese shares a look with his teammates before following, Tsume not far behind. He stays silent as they stop in front of the command building.
Rhoelyn She pushes past the two guards at the door. They yell & follow her, “Nyssera wait!” Nysse ignores them, “Shan’do! I need to speak with you.”
Araatris Ysiel turns from her discussion, raising her brows at the huntress. She looks more resigned than surprised. “Nyssera.” She waves the guards back.
Rhoelyn The guards return to their post. Nysse stops in front of her teacher, “Shan’do, are the rumors true? Please tell me you aren’t considering it.”
Araatris “I cannot tell you that, thero’shan. This Enclave has its own mission, as do you.” She spears Nysse with her gaze. “I trust you haven’t forgotten?”
Rhoelyn Nysse bows her head, “I haven’t, but.. what they’re doing is important. Please let them keep working here.” She kneels, “I beg you, Ysiel.”
Araatris Her teacher regards her for a long moment before she says, “You will walk with me, Nyssera.” She does not ask, nor wait for an answer.
Rhoelyn She stands quickly and follows silently as Ysiel walks out of the building and down the central path. Nysse does not meet anyone’s eyes.
Araatris When they have walked in silence for a while, Ysiel glances over at her. “They are reckless, these orb hunters. I trust you’re aware of this.”
Rhoelyn Nysse hesitates before agreeing, “They’ve had to adjust mid-mission several times. The orbs are unpredictable and dangerous,” she shudders.
Araatris “Perhaps they would be less so if these agents of the Circle were more careful.” She frowns. “Now they talk of an attack on the Black Temple.”
Rhoelyn Nysse speaks evenly, “Being Taken is awful. You don’t know yourself. You’re whatever they need.” She reaches out and grasps Ysiel’s wrist.
Rhoelyn She looks her teacher in the eyes, “I would have been Taken in the marsh if Rhese hadn’t saved me. Now we have a chance to stop It permanently.”
Araatris Ysiel meets Nysse’s gaze for a long moment, thoughtful. “Very well. I will allow them to stay. But I expect to review their -thorough- plans.”
Rhoelyn Nysse releases Ysiel and bows, “Of course. I’ll ensure it.” She pauses, still bowing, “Am I still assigned to assist them, Shan’do?”
Araatris Ysiel sighs. “I expect we will have to walk significantly farther if I say no.” At Nysse’s nod, she smirks. “If it is your wish, you may stay.”
Rhoelyn Nysse smiles, “Thank you, Shan’do. I promise I’ll be careful.” Her eyes sparkle eagerly, but she manages to restrain herself until dismissed.
Araatris Her mentor can’t help but grin and shake her head. “You are so young, sometimes, my student. Stay a moment more before you run back to him.”
Rhoelyn Nysse flushes a bright crimson, “Him? I m-mean, the team.” She hangs her head and speaks in a hushed tone, “Of course. How may I serve you?”
Araatris Ysiel smiles, resting a hand on her shoulder. “What’s the truth, thero’shan? Do you choose to fight for the mission or the druid who saved you?”
Rhoelyn “It should be the mission,” Nysse draws her hands to her heart and looks up, “But,Ysiel, he invades my thoughts. I’d do anything for him.”
Araatris Pausing, she turns and looks Nysse in the eyes. “Gratitude can be a crafty emotion, Nysse. It can look like something deeper very easily.”
Rhoelyn Tears unwillingly shimmer in Nysse eyes. She looks away, ashamed of her reaction, “It could be the start of something deeper, couldn’t it?”
Araatris “Yes,” she answers gently. “It can be that as well.” Ysiel pats her shoulder. “I ask you to keep your eyes open. Fight for the right reasons.”
Rhoelyn Nysse nods, “I will. I promise, Shan’do.” When she looks up, there’s still a slight shine to her eyes, “Is there anything else you need?”
Araatris “You may go, now. Be careful. Be victorious. Return to us safely, Nyssera.” Ysiel releases her, gesturing back toward the command building.
Rhoelyn “Of course.” She turns and sprints purposefully past Rhese to the team. She stops and bows, “Nyssera Whispersong reporting with urgent news.”
Araatris All eyes turn to her as a moderately confused druid follows shortly behind her. Calinea tilts her head. “Yes, Nysse? What is it?”
Rhoelyn “The orb hunters may continue to use this as their base as long as detailed plans are approved by Ysiel. I am also still assigned to assist.”
Araatris Cal blinks and shares a surprised look with Wrune and Deth. “I see word travels fast.” Shadow elbows Val in the shin, looking pleased with himself.
Rhoelyn Nysse straightens, “I heard the rumors, so I went to speak with Shan’do on your behalf.” She tilts her head, “I hope that was alright.”
Araatris Cal nods. “You did well, Nysse. Thank you.” She raises her gaze to the others. “With that resolved, we can move on to more productive matters.”
Rhoelyn She steps back into Rhese and stumbles. He steadies her as she smiles and shifts to the side. Cal continues, “The machine Is our next goal.”
Araatris “Aye,” Deth adds, stepping up beside her. “An’ t’that end, we’ve lairnt a’few things from yest’rday that ye’outta hear. All o’ ye.”
Rhoelyn “What did you find out?” Nysse queries. She attempts to ignore the distracting presence near her shoulder. The others step in closer to hear.
Araatris Cal answers her. “For better or worse, we Light-wielders were connected into the will behind the orbs for some short period during the ritual.”
Rhoelyn Nysse frowns, “Are you sure it’s valid information? They seemed uncooperative, but I was rather busy.” Her gaze shifts slightly to the side.
Araatris “It is a fair concern, however we believe the spell put us outside of their manipulation. When Rhoelyn joins us, I’m interested in her thoughts.”
Rhoelyn Nysse shakes her head, “Sorry, it seems Kaerryn needed to be taken to Darnassus & Rhoelyn volunteered to take her. She won’t be joining us.”
Araatris Calinea frowns, sharing a questioning look with Wrune and Deth in turn. They both seem as confused as she is, but she continues. “Very well.”
Rhoelyn “They were able to protect the orbs furthest from the machine. They’re planning to call in another batch, so we only have a short window.”
Araatris Maxinquay pipes up. “How short?” “Three days, give or take. That’s our best guess. Ultarn and Chim have already gone to scout the warrens.”
Rhoelyn Nysse frowns, “What resistance are we expecting? If they get get back even one orb before we expect it then we’re back at square one.”
Araatris Dethedrus frowns. “‘Tis hard t’be sure ‘til we ‘ear from th’lad an’ lass. But I thin’ we’ll be needin’ t’plan fer some t’still fight.”
Rhoelyn Rhese speaks quietly, “When do we hear back?” He puts his hand on Nysse’s shoulder. Calinea replies, “They’ll send a report in a few hours.”
Araatris Wrune nods. “This means we do not have much time to prepare. I hope to see us at the warren by dawn.” Calinea blinks at him. “So soon?”
Rhoelyn After a moment’s hesitation, Nysse interrupts, “It seems like we’re rushing in. Are we really going to be able to have a plan that quickly?”
Araatris “I agree,” Calinea nods. “We need to move quickly, not recklessly. We can wait for their report to plan our timeline.” Wrune frowns at her.
Rhoelyn She pushes a bang back out of her face, “Assuming they’re still there, we’ll have the Founder, a draenei scientist, and twenty-odd soldiers.”
Araatris Deth asks, “They’re the ones ye found closest t’the machine, then?” Rhese furrows his brow, thoughtful, and takes a couple of steps away.
Rhoelyn Nysse glances at Rhese, but forces herself to focus on Deth. She nods, “Yes. I’m guessing, but the Founder could be who found the device.”
Araatris Maxinquay pipes up. “Hmph. Give the orbs an award for creative evil mastermind titles.” It earns him a few laughs and a droll look from Calinea.
Rhoelyn The laughter allows Nysse to step next to Rhese. She searches his expression and whispers, “What are you thinking? That look worries me.”
Araatris “I… I’m not sure,” he whispers back. “When you brought up the scientist, I remembered something foggy from when I was held. I can’t quite…”
Rhoelyn Rhese shakes his head slightly as if to clear it, “The orb on my cage… they were trying to make a Taken who didn’t need to be near a conduit?”
Araatris Nysse considers that, ignoring the sudden nervous pounding of her heart at the thought. “It’s been two days. Do you think they were close?”
Rhoelyn He looks at her thoughtfully, “Closer than I like to admit, lovely. If you all hadn’t come, no distance from the orbs would have helped me.”
Araatris Her blood runs cold at the thought for multiple reasons, and she clutches for his hand. “They could still have an army. You have to tell them.”
Rhoelyn Rhese clasps her hands between his. He looks up at the others, “Nysse reminded me of something that may cause a rather large problem…”
Araatris He finds himself with all eyes upon him. Giving Nysse’s hand a final squeeze, he releases her and steps closer to talk about what he’s remembered.
Rhoelyn Nysse breathes deeply to steady her trembling hands before she steps forward. As he finishes, she adds, “This makes the report critical.”
Araatris The team takes time to absorb this information quietly before anyone speaks. “They could still have an army.” Shadow echoes Nysse, grimacing.
Rhoelyn “Ysiel isn’t going going to approve walking into that.” Nysse frowns at Rhese, “But it can’t be easy or they would have had Taken Rhese.”
Araatris Val claps his friend on the shoulder. “Our bear is a tough target. But they’ve had only two days since. Surely, the army is fledgling at best.”
Rhoelyn Calinea sighs, “For now, we should prepare for an army. That means defining control points.” She reaches into a pouch and unrolls a map.
Araatris The group strategizes for hours, planning and discussing, discarding options and at least as often as not, arguing about them. It grows late.
Rhoelyn Wrune looks through the papers, “Rest up, everyone. Cal and I will go turn these in for approval. Plan to leave before first light for now.”
Araatris As the team breaks up, Rhese approaches Cal and Wrune. “When are Ultarn and Eve supposed to check in? I want to know what they found.”
Rhoelyn Calinea and Wrune share a look. Cal replies, “Hours ago. We didn’t want to put them at risk by checking earlier, but it’s been too long.”
Araatris He frowns darkly, glancing back at where Nysse chats with Val and Max. “Let me go. I can find them, and we already know I can resist the Orbs.”
Rhoelyn Calinea shakes her head, “We’re on rocky ground as it is. She’ll follow you. Do you know what havoc that would wreck with us and Ysiel?”
Araatris He grimaces. “She’s nothing if not stubborn.” Wrune quirks a brow at him. “Pot, meet kettle.” When Rhese just looks confused, he laughs.
Rhoelyn Calinea smiles at Rhese, “We’ll check and make sure they’re okay. Nysse has gone out of her way to help us. Don’t let it go to waste.”
Araatris “Alright,” he concedes. “I leave it to you, then. But call if you need me.” Cal nods. “Get some rest, Rhese. We’re all going to need it.”
Rhoelyn Across the area, Nysse asks Valerio, “Have you ever thought about studding Vulf at a later date? We could use fresh blood and new pups.”
Araatris As Rhese approaches the trio, Maxinquay eyes Nysse. “Did you really just proposition his dog?” Rhese blinks. “Who’s propositioning who, now?”
Rhoelyn A look of horror crosses Nysse’s face, “N-NO! Tsume and Vulf! I would never-!” She buries her face in her hands. “Mphf! Why would you-?!”
Araatris The death knight breaks into peals of laughter and Valerio can’t help but join him. Rhese just looks confused. Again. “What did I miss?”
Rhoelyn “I wanted to borrow Vulf, so I could breed him with Tsume to beget some pups.” She points at Max, “He thought -I- wanted to… to…ugh!”
Araatris Rhese processes that for a second before his mouth screws up. Trying hard not to laugh, he reaches out and slugs Max on the shoulder.
Rhoelyn Max keeps laughing. “That was worth it, fuzzbutt.” Nysse smiles at Rhese. “At least he upholds my honor even if he’s almost laughing, too.”
Araatris “If there’s one thing you need to know about Max, lovely, it’s that his sense of humor is as foul as his smell.” He earns himself a slug back.
Rhoelyn Nysse laughs. “I’m done here. I need dinner and sleep. It’s been a long day.” She turns and looks over her shoulder at Rhese. “You coming?”
Araatris “Gladly.” He grins and falls into step beside her. As they walk away, he quietly adds, “But if you try to tell me to ‘heel’, I will bite you.”
Araatris In the deepest part of that night, Rhoelyn stirs in her small, borrowed apartment, waking slowly at a sound. “Kaerryn?” She rubs her bleary eyes.