Chapter 23: Anchor the Lost
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse dozes fitfully, holding Rhoelyn in her arms. Rhese murmurs to Kaerryn. “She’s getting worse more quickly that I thought. This is bad.”
**Araatris:** The human, sober and sad, watches the two sisters, pausing as she sharpens her sword. “The healers here are trying.” The druid scrubs his face.
**Rhoelyn:** “I know, but it’s not helping. It’s… It’s like she’s barely even here anymore and Nysse is terrified to let her go.” He whispers in exasperation.
**Araatris:** His voice lowers even further as he looks at them, desolation in his eyes. “I can’t sit here and watch her fade, Kaerryn. We have to do something.”
**Rhoelyn:** She regards him sympathetically. “Call Leo. Maybe they’ve figured out… something.” The warrior looks at the women again. “Maybe pray, too.”
**Araatris:** “… I’ve already been doing that,” he sighs as he shoves to his feet. The druid walks over to the hospital bed as his sister stirs slightly.
**Rhoelyn:** A woman with long blue hair and a simple, white gown joins him. She clasps her hands at her waist and bows to the druid. “Hello, brother.”
**Araatris:** “Lannia.” Rhese bows politely before kneeling down to take his sister’s hand. Rhoelyn settles at his touch, and he looks back up at the priestess.
**Rhoelyn:** She kneels next to him. “It has slowed, but we have not found a cure. Nor has Elune answered our prayers, but we will continue our efforts,”
**Araatris:** The druid scrubs his free hand over his face once again before he nods. He watches Rhoe and mutters quietly, “It’s… I don’t understand, priestess.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Elune often has purposes that we cannot understand. I did not expect to be fighting, yet… I was called.” She rests a hand on his shoulder.
**Araatris:** Moving carefully so as not to wake Nysse, the druid refreshes the wet compress on Rhoe’s forehead. “She said the same when she left for Darnassus.
**Araatris:** And again when she came back.” His fear shows in his expression. “Elune asks too much, Lannia. How can she ask more after all Rhoe’s given?”
**Rhoelyn:** Lannia’s eyes were still bright silver in a sea of black. “She does not take without giving herself. Elune gave her what was needed at the time.”
**Araatris:** The priestess watches Rhese as he wipes his hand across bright eyes, his voice cracking. “What about what’s needed now? My sister is suffering.”
**Rhoelyn:** “We must have faith. I feel that she has already answered, but we must be patient. She is not alone.” Lannia leans down and kisses Rhoe’s brow.
**Araatris:** “No matter what happens,” the ailing healer’s twin says, stroking her hand, “she will never be alone.” His glance goes to Nysse. “Not ever.”
**Rhoelyn:** Lannia nods and rests her hands back in her lap. “Your wife insisted we pause so they could rest. Rhoelyn is very lucky with all her family.”
**Araatris:** “All of her family are lucky to have her.” Rhese hangs his head for a moment. He shoves to his feet. “I need to try to contact L-… friends.”
**Rhoelyn:** “I’ll stay with them.” Lannia smiles reassuringly at him as the druid steps away. He moves to the outskirts of the camp before calling the other man.
**Araatris:** “Rhese,” comes the blood elf’s voice through the stone, alarm edging his tone. “Tell me you’re calling for a good reason.” The druid grimaces.
**Rhoelyn:** Rubbing his face, Rhese shakes his head even though Leo can’t see him. “I wish I could say that, but… she’s getting worse. Have you had any luck?”
**Araatris:** The tension thickens in his brother’s voice, even though the news is good. “We found Coridormu, thank the Light. We just got back to the ruins.”
**Rhoelyn:** The druid raises both eyebrows in surprise. “You’re at the ruins here in Darkshore? Should we head to you then?” He grips the stone tighter.
**Araatris:** “Is it safe?” the mage asks in retort, his voice garbled through the magic. “I can portal us cl-” A voice interrupts in the background, indistinct.
**Rhoelyn:** Rhese can practically hear Leothir frown. “Cori, are you sure that’s a good idea? I really could just-” The other voice interrupts him again.
**Araatris:** The mage grumbles into the stone at the end of it. “I don’t like it, but he wants you to bring her here. Can she travel? Maybe we should come b-”
**Rhoelyn:** “No, we’ll come. We can borrow some sabers if we need.” The druid is looking about and making plans. “We’ll leave as soon as I wake them.”
**Araatris:** Leo’s answer is immediate. “If you’re sure.” There is a brief hesitation, but as Rhese lowers the stone, he hears, “… h-how bad should I expect?”
**Rhoelyn:** Rhese raises the stone, closing his eyes. “It’s bad, Leo. She barely seems present. Nysse has been talking to her every waking moment, but…”
**Araatris:** The delay while the mage processes that is pregnant with fear from them both. “I’ll portal part way and intercept you. I can get you here faster.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Done. I’ll call you back as soon as we’re away from here.” Rhese affirms. Leo murmurs a soft “see you soon” before the stone goes dark.
**Araatris:** The druid uses the cat’s speed to get back to the field hospital even sooner, and Lannia raises her head, surprised as he skids to a stop beside her.
**Rhoelyn:** He flows back into his night elven form. “My apologies, priestess, but we need to go.” Rhese kneels down next to Nysse and rests a hand on her arm.
**Araatris:** “Is something wrong?” the healer asks as his mate stirs and blinks up at him, her sleepiness giving way to worry. Her brow furrows as she sits up.
**Rhoelyn:** Rhese shakes his head. “No, we’re going to go meet our friends and hope that Elune’s listening to our prayers.” He glances at Nysse meaningfully.
**Araatris:** Her eyes widen, wary hope in the twilight depths, and she nods without a word. “Stay with Rhoe, lovely. I’ll get our gear and a pair of sabers.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse nods again and leans over Rhoelyn, whispering in her ear. Lannia stands and bows to him. “I will join you to ensure there are no delays.”
**Araatris:** Rhese gives her a grateful smile as the pair of them hurry off. Under Nysse’s gentle touch, Rhoelyn opens her golden eyes, her lips lifting.
**Rhoelyn:** “It’s time to wake, dalah’falore. We’ll be traveling as soon as Rhese returns.” Nysse rubs her sister’s shoulder, then gently nudges her to sit.
**Araatris:** The priestess obeys, watching her sister as the young woman brushes back her hair. “Nysse,” she says, smiling and reaching for her. “I missed you.”
**Rhoelyn:** The young mother matches Rhoelyn’s hug. “I know, but I’ll stay with you now. You won’t have to miss me anymore.” Nysse tugs Rhoelyn to her feet.
**Araatris:** As she finds her feet, the healer looks around in wonder. Her gaze is relatively clear. “Bashal’Aran? The dead are… wait, I should call the wisps.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Rhoe, we’re getting ready to leave. There are other priestesses here who can help the spirits. How do you feel?” The huntress speaks soothingly.
**Araatris:** “No.” The healer shakes her head, saying despite the bustle around them, “They left to…” She pauses and claims Nysse’s hand, uncertain.
**Rhoelyn:** The younger woman squeezes her hand. “They’re here right now, sister. Rhese is getting us a saber. Would you like to ride with me or Rhese?”
**Araatris:** Nysse has learned to see in her expression when Rhoelyn drifts farther away, so she is prepared for the odd, whispered answer, “It isn’t here.”
**Rhoelyn:** “What isn’t here?” Nysse wraps her arm around the elder sister, keeping her close. The tactile contact seems to bring comfort to both women.
**Araatris:** Rhoelyn hugs her tightly, tears brightening her too-bright eyes. When she looks up, her gaze is somewhere else. “The hope we’re looking for, Nysse.”
**Rhoelyn:** Kissing her sister’s forehead, Nysse manages a gentle smile. “You’re right, but that’s why we’re leaving–to find that hope, dalah’falore.”
**Araatris:** The priestess lapses into silence for a bit, but eventually, her muffled voice reaches up. “My favorite are the paths you’re still beside me.”
**Rhoelyn:** Despite the burning of her eyes, the huntress murmurs teasingly. “You’ll make Rhese jealous saying such things, Rhoelyn.” She looks for Rhese.
**Araatris:** The druid and Lannia are just visible across the camp, speaking with the sabermaster. Nysse sighs to herself and mutters, “How about another story?”
**Rhoelyn:** “When I was in my second decade…” The huntress begins, letting Rhoelyn quietly cling to her. Her sister rests her head against Nysse’s shoulder.
**Araatris:** When Rhese and Lannia approach a while later, leading two dark, loaded sabers by their bridles, the huntress is still murmuring to her.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse reassures Rhoelyn. “I’ll finish telling you later. Rhese and Lannia are here. It’s time for us to leave.” She guides Rhoe to Lannia’s saber.
**Araatris:** The elder priestess pauses to claim Rhoelyn’s hands and kiss her forehead. “Elune’s blessings be with you, sister. She has given you what you need.”
**Rhoelyn:** Then she captures Nysse’s hands. “Stay strong, sister. Elune will light your path.” Lannia kisses Nysse’s forehead as well. “Travel safely.”
**Araatris:** The huntress thanks her quietly as Rhese lifts his sister into the saddle. She grabs his hand when he moves to step away, and he glances at Nysse.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse steps past Lannia and swings up behind her sister, wrapping on arm around her. Rhese lays Rhoelyn’s hand on top of Nysse’s and pats it.
**Araatris:** When he turns away, Lannia is waiting. She takes his hands as well, and he bends down to let her kiss his forehead. “Don’t fear,” she says softly.
**Rhoelyn:** Rhese nods slowly. “I will try, priestess.” Lannia smiles gently. “That is all we can ask. I hope that your friends carry the answer you seek.”
**Araatris:** “So do I,” he says. “Thank you for all you’ve done. We’re fortunate that you were called here, Lannia.” The druid bows despite his impatience.
**Rhoelyn:** Lannia bows and steps back. “Elune’adore.” Rhese swings up on the second mount, holding his hand out for Kaerryn. The human climbs behind him.
**Araatris:** She smirks down at the blue-haired priestess. “What, no kiss for the visitor?” Lannia laughs. “Well, I feared you would get the wrong idea.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Or the right idea.” Kaerryn teases. Lannia smiles and grasps Kaer’s hand, pulling it to her lips. “Elune’s blessings be with you as well, sister.”
**Araatris:** The human woops in exaggerated happiness and earns herself two glares as Rhoelyn startles. Nysse soothes her while Kaerryn winces. “Sorry, Rhoe.”
**Rhoelyn:** Lannia ushers them on. “Go now. Your friends will worry.” Rhese nods and leads the sabers from the camp, picking up speed outside the border.
**Araatris:** The progress is fast, but not fast enough for the druid or his mate, especially when they are forced to sneak around an enemy camp and its patrols.
**Rhoelyn:** Korran looks back at them and Nysse carries his message to the others. “We’re clear for now. He can’t smell any other patrols nearby.”
**Araatris:** The druid nods and looks at the healer drowsing against her. He sighs softly. “She’s nearly out, again. Should we rest? Is it too hard on her?”
**Rhoelyn:** “No, the riding doesn’t seem to bother her. I think hurrying is more important.” The huntress hugs her sister more firmly against her chest.
**Araatris:** He nods though his grip on his reins tightens. “Then let’s keep mo-” The air in front of his mount crackles, and the beast skids to a stop, hissing.
**Rhoelyn:** A portal takes shape. A blonde-haired sin’dorei steps through the portal. Rhese curses under his breath as he tugs on the reins of the saber.
**Araatris:** Leo blinks into the cat’s teeth as his vision clears. His hands fly up on instinct, but he manages to hold the icy spell dancing there.
**Rhoelyn:** “You idiot!” Rhese hisses. Leothir gives him a sheepish look. “Sorry. I wanted to hurry and help you. This is fine, isn’t it?” The druid sighs.
**Araatris:** Though he waves a hand back at Rhoe and Nysse, he grouches, “I should let the saber eat you.” The mage slaps his leg as he walks past.
**Rhoelyn:** Leo grins. “I’d just give him an upset stomach.” The mage’s smile falls as he approaches the girls. “N-nysse, how is she? Is she resting?”
**Araatris:** The huntress nods and brushes Rhoe’s hair back from her temple. Her charge rests against her chest, her golden eyes half-lidded and distant.
**Rhoelyn:** “Shall we head on to see Cori?” Nysse gently suggests when Leo raises his hand, but freezes partway. The priestess’ mate nods and lowers his hand.
**Araatris:** Leo turns away with a troubled expression and mutters something soft without delay, his glowing hands raising. The portal rips back open, widening.
**Rhoelyn:** “Go ahead. I’ll watch your backs.” Yet, the mage’s gaze follows Nysse and Rhoelyn as they ride through. He looks away as Rhese and Kaerryn enter.
**Araatris:** The blood elf draws a shaky breath and scrubs his hands over his face, taking a minute to compose himself before he finally turns to step through.
**Rhoelyn:** The portal closes behind him and he hurries forward to help Nysse with Rhoelyn. Rhese strides toward the bronze dragon at the edge of the ruins.
**Araatris:** Cori straightens from the fallen column, a big smile on his face. “What an adventure.” The druid frowns at him, but clasps the offered hand.
**Rhoelyn:** “Did this adventure lead you to answers about Rhoelyn? I’m assuming they caught you up,” Rhese asks. The dragon high elf smiles brightly at him.
**Araatris:** He glances over Rhese’s shoulder, where Leo has swept the priestess into his arms. Nysse unpacks the bedrolls and blankets. “They tried.”
**Rhoelyn:** The druid’s frown deepens. “But it wasn’t enough.” Cori shakes his head as his expression turns more serious. “I must examine her to know for sure.”
**Araatris:** Rhese nods and steps aside, gesturing over toward them. Surprisingly, the Bronze has enough awareness to pat his arm reassuringly as he passes.
**Rhoelyn:** Leo settles Rhoelyn on a bedroll as Cori crouches by them. “I need to work undisturbed for a bit. Why don’t you ask Nyssera about Korran?”
**Araatris:** Though he looks anything but interested in talking to Nysse about her spirit wolf, the mage takes her elbow politely and leads her over to Rhese.
**Rhoelyn:** Cori rests on his knees and hovers both hands over the female night elf. “Alright. Now let’s see if we can find where you got tangled in this…”
**Araatris:** The dragon weaves his magic along the healer’s body, its signature like glimmering sand dancing through the air. He watches her, tilting his head.
**Rhoelyn:** “Interesting.” The healer squirms in response to his magic, not quite waking. “When the timelines merged years ago, you kept that ability.”
**Araatris:** Cori wrinkles his nose, eyes glowing golden. “Now why would y-” He pauses to wince. “Oh. This one is my doing, too? Mortals are exhausting.”
**Rhoelyn:** “I’ll never hear the end of it if I don’t clean this up. Likely it’s already causing waves the others are noticing.” He claps his hands together.
**Araatris:** The dragon shoves to his elven feet and turns to the others. Galandrie nudges Leo’s shoulder. “Right! I have good news and less-good news, mortals.”
**Rhoelyn:** Leothir jumps to his feet. “L-less good news? What do you mean less-good news, Cori?!” His brother puts a restraining hand on his shoulder.
**Araatris:** The dragon scowls and puts his finger across his lips as he walks farther from the sleeping priestess. “Why can’t you brothers respect naps?”
**Rhoelyn:** At Leo’s dark look, Relare follows and speaks softly, “What’s your news, Cori? We’re all frightened for her and are hoping you have a cure.”
**Araatris:** With a sigh, the bronze dragon scratches at his ear. “I can stop this, I think. The power she’s accessing is her own, but the bridge is mine.”
**Rhoelyn:** Rhese looks over at his sister then back at the dragon. His mate speaks up first, coming up beside him. “You mentioned less-good news, too.”
**Araatris:** Cori glances between them, blinking in surprise at Kaerryn when she sticks her tongue out at him. “Ahm…” he tears his mystified attention away.
**Rhoelyn:** “Well, ah… there’s this mortal saying about bridges. I don’t think they quite meant it literally, but–let’s just say she might get burned.”
**Araatris:** Rhese exchanges alarmed looks with his mate. “You can protect her, right?” The dragon grimaces. “Mortals have all these limits I barely understand.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nyssera clasps her hands nervously in front of her. “Please tell us that there’s something we can do to protect her. We’ll try and help.”
**Araatris:** Cori sighs and lifts a few fingers to massage his temple. “Let me think. What do we have to work with?” He counts aloud, pointing to each of them.
**Rhoelyn:** “One.” Rhese. “Two.” Nysse. “Three.” Leo. “Four.” Rel. “Five.” Kaerryn. “Six.” Faye. “Seven.” Verune. “Eight.” Landrie. “That should be enough.”
**Araatris:** “Enough for what?” Relare asks. Cori paces a few steps before he pauses and narrows his eyes at them all. “Patience, tangle. Who remembers?”
**Rhoelyn:** “Remembers? Do you mean from when she had it last time?” The paladin asks. “I saw the end result, but… Fayrial remembers you and her visions.”
**Araatris:** The dragon raises golden brows at the sentinel. “Huh. You do?” Faye nods curtly. “Huh,” he repeats, glancing back over his shoulder at Rhoelyn.
**Rhoelyn:** “Will that connection help her, Coridormu?” She steps forward, ahead of the others. “I will do whatever I can. I couldn’t help at that time.”
**Araatris:** “Yes, yes,” the dragon mutters thoughtfully, distracted. “We’ll use all of it.” He swings back around and shoves a finger at Kaerryn. “You?”
**Rhoelyn:** The human warrior holds up both hands in front of her. “Don’t look at me like that. I can’t remember a fel thing from any alternate time.”
**Araatris:** Cori smirks, and his finger swings to Landrie. “You?” The elf’s eyes widen. “Look, I haven’t had an idea of what you are babbling about for ages.”
**Rhoelyn:** He shifts to Verune. “You?” The elder druid raises an eyebrow. “I’m afraid I’ll be no help. I only know what the cub and his mate have told me.”
**Araatris:** The dragon nods and folds his arms, resting his elbow in his hand and rubbing his chin. He ponders in silence while the impatient group mills.
**Rhoelyn:** Leo rubs his face. “What are we doing, Cori?” His gaze goes to the restless priestess behind the dragon. “Rhoelyn is over there waiting for us.”
**Araatris:** His response is a hand held out at him. “You have no sense of patience.” Rhese growls under his breath, and Nysse rests a hand on his arm.
**Rhoelyn:** “We must do it right the first time or we could kill her. I doubt you wish to do that, so let me think…” Cori scowls as he turns to Rhoelyn.
**Araatris:** “Yes, I think this can work. Three untouched anchors,” he mutters mostly to himself, stepping back over and kneeling at her side. Nysse follows.
**Rhoelyn:** Relare and Faye join them as well. The blood elf scratches the stubble on his chin. “Untouched anchors. So… are you planning to use as foci?”
**Araatris:** “Something of the sort.” Rhoelyn stirs as Cori speaks, her eyes fluttering open. Nysse is there the moment she notices her sister waking.
**Rhoelyn:** “I’m right here, sister. We found Coridormu to see if he can help you. How are you feeling?” She clasps her sister’s hand in both of hers.
**Araatris:** The little priestess sits up, her gaze going from Nysse to Cori and then around the others. Her grasp tightens on Nysse’s hands as she looks around.
**Rhoelyn:** “It’s alright. We’re all here for you, sister.” The huntress tugs Rhoelyn into her arms, hugging her tightly. Relare and Faye share a worried look.
**Araatris:** Rhese and Leo come closer over Cori’s shoulder as Rhoe squeezes her eyes shut and clings to Nysse. “I-I… I thought… w-where did the twins go?”
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress is unable to stop the tear that escapes or the shakiness of her voice. “T-they’re at home, Rhoe, in Boralus with an’da and Yami.”
**Araatris:** The dragon watches, his eyes taking on a brighter golden glow and his head tilting as the healer shudders, whispering, “Yami is dangerous.”
**Rhoelyn:** “D-dangerous?! Rhoe, he’s your nephew! My son!” Nysse pulls back and brushes Rhoe’s hair back. “He’s not dangerous to us, my dear sister.”
**Araatris:** Rhese frowns and crouches by Nysse, resting his hand on Rhoe’s arm. “Now, now,” Cori says, flopping a hand at them. “That’s another limb entirely.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse looks at him in confusion. “Another limb? You mean another timeline?” Cori sighs and nods. “Could we please try and stay focused?”
**Araatris:** Leo adds, “Please let’s.” His gaze on his mate is fearful. The dragon nods and reaches for Rhoelyn, and Nysse keeps her from shying away.
**Rhoelyn:** “Let me see your hands, Rhoelyn.” The dragon takes both of them in his own as he crouches down. “You two, Relare and Fayrial. Come here.”
**Araatris:** They do as bidden, kneeling on either side of him. Rel asks, “What do you need us to do?” Cori watches Rhoe and says, “Concentrate on that time.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse cradles the uneasy Rhoelyn. “And me?” Cori smiles gently. “You will continue as you are. You will ground her here so she can return to us.”
**Araatris:** Leo frowns worriedly, keeping his arms crossed to avoid the temptation to do anything else with them. “And the rest of us? How do we help?”
**Rhoelyn:** Cori blinks and looks at the others as if seeing them for the first time. “Is that a mortal thing? Needing something to do? You could… make dinner?”
**Araatris:** The mage throws up his hands. “Why is everyone always thinking about eating around here! I want to he-” Rhese rests a heavy hand on his shoulder.
**Rhoelyn:** “I don’t think he’s hungry, Leothir. He was giving you something to do. We’ll need to be ready to care for them after.” Rhese comments softly.
**Araatris:** With a little growl, he tugs away from his night elven brother’s grip. But he sighs and says nothing more when he notices Rhoe watching him.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse follows Rhoelyn’s gaze. “Leo is here as well. He’s worried about you. You need to make sure to stay with us so he can meet Alensyr.”
**Araatris:** The priestess smiles softly at her mate for a moment before her attention drifts away. The dragon gives Leothir a droll stare. “Are we ready, (c)
**Araatris:** (c) now, mortals? Time may not matter much to me, but each second counts when your mind is expanding into the infinite possibilities.” Leo winces.
**Rhoelyn:** “Yes… yes, of course. Go ahead.” The mage demurs. Rhese nods as well. Coridormu closes his eyes, swirling sand stirring around him.
**Araatris** Relare and Faye feel the spell pull at them, and they both close their eyes when Rhoelyn does. The huntress grips her tightly as she sags against her.