Araatris: Bal’riemon’s effigy dances maddeningly as she stares, painful and beautiful at once. Anari bites her lip as the priest scribes her first tattoo.
Rhoelyn: Kalis finishes the latest mark and examines it. Finally, he nods in satisfaction before moving to the next. “Raissse your arm, Anari.”
Araatris: The witch does as bidden, hissing as the motion pulls at the claw wounds on her tail. “You honor me, Kalis.” He smiles. “The Lord rewards success.”
Rhoelyn: He works in silence for a while, one careful mark after another. He pauses and looks at her. “Did you place a scout to ensure they do not move?”
Araatris: She nods, her smile filled with sharp teeth and vicious glee. “Of course, Holy One. When the children are ready to feed, they ssshall feast.”
Rhoelyn: “Very good, Anari.” He grins broadly before leaning back over his work. When this one is complete, Kalis leans back. “It is time for the blessing.”
Araatris: The woman shudders, grabbing her elbows with clawed hands. “I am prepared. Ssshow me the face of god, Holy One.” She stares at the effigy.
Rhoelyn: Kalis nods and shifts in front of her. He lights some incense and waves it over Anari, chanting. Then, he takes oil and rubs it on her eyelids.
Araatris: The prep work done, he grins darkly and slithers behind her, weaving dark magic between his hands. He stabs it into her mind just so.
Rhoelyn: Anari gasps and opens her eyes wide, then goes still, her gaze on the effigy. “He’s beautiful…,” she murmurs, then she bows deeply before it.
Araatris: Kalis smiles widely, bowing as well. “The worthy priestess issss found. The children hunger. The sssheep are gathered. All that remains (c)
Araatris: (c) is to find the prodigal son and let him blossom in his mother’s hate.” He rests a hand on Anari’s shoulder. “Go, priestess. This tasssk is yours.”
Rhoelyn: “It would be my honor, High Priest Kalis.” Anari bows her head before him. She grins, already plotting her next move, as she leaves the cave.
Araatris: Nysse wakes in the afternoon when Yami stirs and flops his little arm over her. She giggles to see how identical his sleeping pose is to Rhese’s.
Rhoelyn: She kisses the top of Yami’s head. Then, she tilts her head up and watches Rhese’s sleeping face fondly. Her fingers brush across his cheek.
Araatris: The druid doesn’t even stir, and she considers letting him sleep as she gauges the hour. The little boy takes the decision away when he rolls over.
Rhoelyn: Yami’s arms flop against Rhese. The druid jerks awake and glances down. Nysse sighs and whispers, “Sorry. He rolled over before I noticed.”
Araatris: He relaxes and stares down at the child, resting a tentative hand on his back. “It’s okay, love,” he mumbles and raises his gaze to hers.
Rhoelyn: Nysse lays her hand on Yami close to Rhese’s hand and smiles shyly at her druid. Her voice is still hushed, “Do you feel better today, beloved?”
Araatris: He smiles warmly and whispers, “A bit. My head still hurts, but the rest has helped.” With a blush, he admits. “This isn’t a bad way to wake up.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress blushes as she reaches to massage his neck. Nervously, she asks, “Do you think about us…?” Her voice trails off and she drops her gaze.
Araatris: After a short hesitation, he grins softly and reaches out to caress her cheek. He doesn’t exactly answer. “I like watching you with him.”
Rhoelyn: She closes her eyes at his touch. “It makes me feel…,” she pauses, trying to decide how to continue, “content. I like watching you, too.”
Araatris: He chuckles self-consciously, glancing away to try to hide his flushed cheeks. “I don’t know what I’m doing besides trying not to break him.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse admits, “I’ve never been near a child. I was just treating him like I remember my parents took care of me… though that’s a bit fuzzy.”
Araatris: Rhese curls forward enough to give her a kiss without disturbing the boy very much. “I’m not exactly an expert, but it looks very right to me.”
Rhoelyn: The young woman practically glows with happiness. “Thank you.” Nysse giggles, “You know we’ll have to get up soon. We’ll need to eat.”
Araatris: The druid nods. When he rolls to his back to stretch, Yami soon shifts and drapes himself across Rhese’s stomach. “Uh. What do we do about this?”
Rhoelyn: She chuckles, “We try to wake him.” Nysse leans closer to Yami to kiss his hair and rub his side. “Yami, little one, it’s time to wake up.”
Araatris: The creature stirs with a very un-childlike trilling sound and stretches, giving a big yawn before he opens his black eyes. He grins at Nysse.
Rhoelyn: Nysse chuckles and returns Yami’s grin. “Did you rest well, little one?” She tugs him into her arms as she sits up, straightening his hair.
Araatris: Rhese pushes onto his elbows, watching them both. “Don’t you think it’d be better if he stayed in the wolf form, Nysse? He’s less fragile.”
Rhoelyn: “That’s not the only reason, is it?” The huntress watches Yami with a weak smile. He reaches up to touch her cheek before shifting into a wolf.
Araatris: Reaching out to pet him, Rhese softly says, “We need to remember what he isn’t, lovely, and be sure we love him for what he is. Or it’s a lie.”
Rhoelyn: She ruffles the pup’s fur affectionately. “He’s my sweet Yami. I love him no matter what form he takes.” She laughs as Yami licks her fingers.
Araatris: The druid gives her a crooked grin. “Well, maybe I’m the only one who needs to remember. But I left a tiny wolf and came back to a child!”
Rhoelyn: Shaking her head, she teases, “What? My sweet druid doesn’t expect that I’m used to someone being many different forms and loving each one?”
Araatris: He laughs, leaning in to kiss her. “Your very-feral-and-not-sweet-at-all druid only sometimes needs to be reminded how wonderful you are.”
Rhoelyn: Before he can sit back, Nysse nuzzles his cheek and whispers something in his ear with a mischievous grin. She leans away and shifts to her knees.
Araatris: Rhese’s jaw drops, and it’s a few seconds before he manages to speak. “Wait. Did y–” She grins and picks up Yami. “Let’s get food, beloved.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse slips out from their shelter, holding the pup in the crook of her arm. After Rhese joins her, they walk together back to the main campfire.
Araatris: Looking sweaty and tired, Dorian greets them with a teasing grin, “An’ look who decides ta join us jes’ in time for dinner and another rest.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress looks up at the sky with wide eyes, “Is it that late? I was supposed to help Kreston…” Rhese presses down her shoulder. “Sit, love.”
Araatris: The dwarf nods and hands Rhese a leaf full of fish and cut fruit, which he brings over to Nysse and Yami. “Dinna worry. We’ve plenty of hands.”
Rhoelyn: Rhese grins at Dorian and winks as he takes the leaf. He settles next to Nysse. “Thanks. If not for food, I’m not sure lovely would’ve woken up.”
Araatris: The huntress gasps, blushing, “Rhese…!” As Dorian and the few others gathering up grin, she mutters, “I-I was the first to wake up, you know.”
Rhoelyn: He chuckles, “Perhaps, but you mentioned food several times before we got up.” Rhese plucks a piece of fish off the leaf and holds it out.
Araatris: Aleesa wanders up just in time to overhear. She grins sweetly. “My, Rhese. Whatever did you do to make her work up such an appetite in bed?”
Rhoelyn: Nysse squeaks, “N-n-nothing!” As everyone else laughs, she buries her face in her hands and mumbles, “Can’t I be hungry because I woke up?”
Araatris: It’s Kreston who comes to her defense while Rhese chuckles, blushing himself. “Alright, you sharks, leave off before she melts,” he orders, smiling.
Rhoelyn: She shoots Kreston a grateful look. Aleesa pats Nysse’s shoulder, “Eat and rest as you need, Nysse. You’ve been working hard for several days.”
Araatris: As she takes some food and settles on the ground, she adds, “We completed the perimeter pikes and part of a new palisade, today.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse snags a few pieces of fish from Rhese’s leaf. “That’s good. I was worried about that. Were you able to finish the smokehouse, Kreston?”
Araatris: “Sure was,” the man says with a smile. “We’ve got so many eager helping hands, now.” He shoves some food in his face with great relish.
Rhoelyn: Aleesa glances at the void creature. “How’s Yami?” Nysse smiles, “He’s well. I was thinking of taking him down to the river if it’s not too late.”
Araatris: Rhese glances up at the sun. “We can be back by sunset and still let him play a bit.” He ignores the cooling mood and suspicious looks.
Rhoelyn: The huntress nods, obliviously taking a piece of fruit, “That’s good. Maybe we can pick some herbs on the way as well. They’re always handy.”
Araatris: Nodding, Rhese offers a piece of fish to Yami. The pup sniffs at it curiously. “I wouldn’t complain if we kept some on hand,” he says softly.
Rhoelyn: Yami licks at the fish, then after a moment carefully takes it from him. Nysse looks around as she realizes that the others have gone quiet.
Araatris: As Nithan and Faye approach the fire, Rhese stands and offers his free hand to Nysse. “Come, lovely. We can finish our food by the river.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse frowns as she takes his hand and gets to her feet. Silently, she hurries ahead of the druid. Rhese pauses to glance over his shoulder.
Araatris: The druid sighs when his gaze meets Nithan’s. The rest of the camp has returned to their conversations, but the priest stares after them warily.
Rhoelyn: Rhese turns and follows Nysse to the river. She’s already sitting at the bank and cooing softly to Yami. “Don’t mind them, Yami. I love you.”
Araatris: Settling down beside her, Rhese pats Yami and offers him one more bit of fish. The rest, he holds out to Nysse. “Finish your dinner, lovely.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse takes the leaf, but only pokes at the food as she stares out over the water. “Maybe we shouldn’t go back to the camp,” she begins.
Araatris: “I don’t think that’s the answer, love.” The druid puts his arm around her shoulders. “We need to let them see firsthand that he’s not an enemy.”
Rhoelyn: She sighs. “I know, but it bothers me.” Her voice drops to a mumble, “And there’s so many people now.” Nysse burrows against him. “It’s hard.”
Araatris: Rhese kisses her head, watching Yami paw tentatively at the water. “Yes. It’s hard. That’s probably why you were the one chosen, love.”
Rhoelyn: A groan of frustration escapes her lips. “I’ll keep trying, Rhese, but Nithan is making me soo… sooo…” She beats her hand against his chest.
Araatris: When she’s had a chance to vent her frustration, he traps her hand and pulls it to his lips. “I don’t think Nithan’s a bad man, just an angry one.”
Rhoelyn: “I know.” Nysse relaxes and tilts her head up to give Rhese a tired smile. “I’ll finish eating and then wash up. I must smell horrible.”
Araatris: The druid brushes her hair back. “You smell fine. But you and Yami can play in the water for a bit. I’ll see if I can find some herbs nearby.”
Rhoelyn: She snorts. ”Define fine. I was sweating all day yesterday.” Nysse finishes the last couple pieces of fish on the leaf as she watches Yami.
Araatris: He gives her a crooked grin. “Fine. Much better than when you smelled like the Zangarmarsh. Much much better than felboar droppings.”
Rhoelyn: Shaking her head, Nysse laughs. “Those are terrible comparisons.” She sets the leaf down and pushes to her feet. “Go find those herbs.”
Araatris: “Anything my lady wishes,” Rhese gazes up at her warmly before also getting to his feet. Cupping her elbow, he kisses her. “Call if you need me.”
Rhoelyn: She smiles adoringly. “Of course. Now go before I ask you to stay.” Nysse sticks out her tongue and leans down to wiggle out of her boots.
Araatris: The druid shifts and pads away into the forest, leaving her to slip out of her clothes and into the river. Nysse turns back and beckons Yami.
Rhoelyn: “Come out to me, Yami. Just pick a form that’s good for water, like a manta ray or seal.” The huntress holds out her arms as he paddles in.
Araatris: Nysse can feel the lick of his mind against hers as he explores the idea of creatures of the water. Though unsettling, his touch is gentle.
Rhoelyn: After a moment, Yami’s form blurs into a manta and he slides under her hands. She giggles and runs her fingers over the sleek skin. “Nice choice.”
Araatris: Yami trails through the water, circling Nysse a couple of times before daring to swim a bit farther away, exploring the river’s currents.
Rhoelyn: Nysse ducks under the water, twisting and turning as she follows him for a while. When she comes up, she catches blurry movement around her.
Araatris: “Yami, come.” She only whispers it, but the creature immediately flits back to her, his form rippling into a young crocolisk. He growls at her side.
Rhoelyn: In the growing shadows, three figures wade through the water surrounding her. “Who’s there?” She brushes wet hair away to see more clearly.
Araatris: An unfamiliar voice says, “We’re not here to hurt you, but you need to give us the void creature. Clearly, you just don’t understand what it is.”
Rhoelyn: She growls, “Not even over my dead body.” Nysse whispers under her breath, “Go to Rhese.” Then, louder, she adds, “You need to leave. Now.”
Araatris: Another voice speaks up, quieter. “It could be controlling her.” The first answers, “Yeah.” Yami trills and crowds closer, reluctant to leave.
Rhoelyn: Shaking her head, “I’m not being controlled. Yami hasn’t done anything wrong. Why are you doing this?” Nysse holds Yami close under the water.
Araatris: “We haird wha’ those things are,” the third presence slips out of the shadows, a dwarven woman. “We din’t survive th’naga only ta get kilt at camp.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse tries to back away. “No, I can’t let you. Yami may be a child of the void, but he’s very sweet and gentle. He’d never hurt anyone.”
Araatris: The first voice resolves itself close behind her, a night elf she doesn’t recognize. “It’s only a matter of time. Its nature is to be a monster.”
Rhoelyn: Shrinking away from him, Nysse twists, searching for an escape route. “How do you know?! You haven’t even given him a chance!” They step closer.
Araatris: Yami snaps his jaws and growls, growing in size noticeably. He curls around Nysse. “What else can it be? Nothing good comes from the void.”
Rhoelyn: “No, Yami!” Nysse wraps her arms around him. “We can’t hurt them.” She glares at the three, circling in place. “And I won’t let them hurt you.”
Araatris: “That will be quite enough, Rethuri.” Faye steps from the tree line with Nithan trailing behind her. Her frown is stern. “You’re being rash.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse twirls as quick as the water allows. “Faye. Nithan. What’s going on?” She rubs Yami’s head soothingly, murmuring, “I’ll keep you safe.”
Araatris: The priest frowns, his arms crossed. He sounds slightly surly. “These three heard us talking. When they left camp after you, Faye got worried.”
Rhoelyn: She inclines her head to Faye. “Thank you.” Nysse bites her lip. “Any chance you can convince them to leave? They’re not listening to me.”
Araatris: In answer, Faye stares at the male night elf. “Well? I have decided to give the creature a chance. If you insist on this, I will fight with Nysse.”
Rhoelyn: “And maybe it got to you, too,” Rethuri growls. He grabs Nysse’s arm roughly, “Give it to me.” She catches a glint of steel in his other hand.
Araatris: Nithan growls and points at Rethuri. “Idiot. You want to know what it feels like?” His magic, half Shadow and half Light, floods the man’s mind.
Rhoelyn: Rethuri releases Nysse and hands her the knife hilt first. After she takes it, he wades to Faye. She grabs him and twists his arm behind his back.
Araatris: “Agh!” Nithan releases the mind control spell so the night elf can enjoy the pain. He glares, “I would know if Faye were affected by it.”
Rhoelyn: The male night elf looks away and the other two back away from Nysse. She swallows nervously. “T-thank you.” The bushes rustle behind Nysse.
Araatris: From the way Rhese stalks into the situation, the huntress can tell that the fact that the cat isn’t growling is only a sign of extra danger.
Rhoelyn: Swallowing nervously, Nysse quickly wades towards him. Worriedly, she pleads, “Rhese…” He shifts into a night elf before she can reach him.
Araatris: His voice is no less of a growl than if he were still a cat. He glares at her last two attackers. “Tell me quickly why I shouldn’t make you bleed.”
Rhoelyn: The dwarven woman speaks, shifting uncomfortably, “We wonna do anything. Now or in da future. We swear.” She holds out her empty hands.
Araatris: His intense amber gaze weighs the woman for a long moment before shifting to the human woman not far away. She shrinks under his ire. “S-swear…”
Rhoelyn: Nysse finally reaches Rhese with a small wolf Yami. She attempts again, her hands full with pup and knife, “Rhese… I’m fine. Yami’s fine.”
Araatris: His gaze swings to her, and after a shocked glance up and down her, he only seems to get angrier. His teeth clenched, he slips off his tunic.
Rhoelyn: As Nysse stares at him wide-eyed, Rhese takes Yami and the dagger then shoves the cloth at her. “On. Now.” She scrambles to pull it over her head.
Araatris: Without looking over, he snarls, “Faye, I vote you break his arm. Three against one, unarmed and naked?!” His livid glare spears the others.
Rhoelyn: Nysse blushes now and hugs the tunic tightly around her. “I’m fine.” Rhese frowns. “Take Yami and go back to where we slept.” He holds out the pup.
Araatris: The wolf strains toward Rhese as Nysse reaches for him, his form rippling. A winged serpent, he wraps his tail around Rhese’s arm, hissing.
Rhoelyn: “Yami, no!” Nysse is stern, but gentle as she tugs the wind serpent to her. She strokes his head. “Just because he says something (c)
Rhoelyn: (c) you don’t like doesn’t mean you can make a fuss.” Reluctantly, Yami releases Rhese and blurs into a blubbering child into her arms. “Min’da!”
Araatris: Nysse cuddles him against her shoulder, patting his little head as he alternates confusingly between sobs and growls. “Let’s go, sweeting.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress gives Rhese one more glance before slipping into the woods. Rhese waits until she’s gone to stalk over to Faye and Nithan, growling.
Araatris: Nithan sighs and steps beside the night elf Faye still holds in a painful arm lock. “Rhese, I know you’re angry, but he’s already been punished.”
Rhoelyn: Rhese glares. “And the others?” The priest levels at even gaze at Rhese. “”We’ll deal with them as well and keep them away from you.”
Araatris: The druid takes a deep breath, watching the priest warily. “Faye, I understand. But why would you help, Nithan? Your position was quite clear.”
Rhoelyn: “Faye has… convinced me to keep an open mind. I won’t interfere or harm him, but I will be watching.” Nithan’s lips press into a thin line.
Araatris: After a pause, the druid inclines his head, his gaze flicking to Faye as well. “Thank you. It’s all we ask.” His attention returns to Rethuri.
Rhoelyn: Rhese snarls, “If you ever get near my mate or Yami again without my permission, I’ll make sure it’s the last thing you regret.” He steps back.
Araatris: Throwing the man’s dagger down at his feet, he turns to level a finger at the other two just wading out of the water. “That goes for all of you.”
Rhoelyn: Without waiting for an answer, he passes Nithan to grab Nysse’s clothing. He doesn’t head back towards to camp, but heads further out.
Araatris: Once out of sight of the others, Rhese sighs and rubs his aching head. He thrums with thwarted rage as he stuffs Nysse’s gear in his vine pouch.
Rhoelyn: Then he shifts into a cat and delves into the forest. His tail thrashes. A hunt. That would do him good. Then he could get herbs on his way back.
Araatris: Nysse watches the tree line hopefully after Nithan and Faye lead the other three back into camp, Yami soothed to sleep and cuddled in her lap.
Rhoelyn: It’s a long wait. So long, that she finds herself dozing despite the worry. A cat steps from the trees and stops to watch Nysse and Yami.
Araatris: She’s curled up with the boy in the center of the soft moss bed, sprawled around him with her hand resting on his belly. He pads over quietly.
Rhoelyn: When Rhese shifts, he’s kneeling at the small entryway. He pulls her clothes from the vine pouch and neatly lays them behind her. Nysse stirs.
Araatris: He settles beside her in the dark, pulling out a few of the herbs he picked and munching on them as she yawns and blinks up at him. “Rhese?”
Rhoelyn: “Yes, lovely.” The druid chews quietly as Nysse sits up and rests a hand on his arm. “You were gone quite a while. Do you feel better now?”
Araatris: “Yes,” he whispers, putting his hand over hers. Then he chuckles weakly. “And no. I made my headache worse.” He sighs and nuzzles her neck.
Rhoelyn: Nysse massages the back of his neck. Her breath tickles his ear as she asks, “Have you tried to heal it? It’s really been bothering you.”
Araatris: “Mm.” His voice is muffled against her shoulder. “My healing doesn’t help. Sometimes headaches aren’t about an injury and are more emotional.”
Rhoelyn: She sighs and lays her head against his shoulder. “Tonight didn’t help that, did it. I’m sorry.” Nysse runs her hand soothingly through his hair.
Araatris: “It’s not your fault, lovely.” He clenches a fist, his voice getting harsher. “It was those-” Rhese stops himself, forcing his hand to relax.
Rhoelyn: She kisses his cheek. “Everything’s okay. That’s all that matters. Yami and I aren’t hurt.” She teases him, “I got to wear your shirt again.”
Araatris: He chuckles and finally lifts his head, resting his hand on her waist. “It suits you. But in case you want to get dressed, I brought yours.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse shakes her head with a blush. “Not yet. I’m… enjoying it.” She pulls it tighter around her. “I already paid for it in embarrassment.”
Araatris: With a smirk, Rhese tugs the neckline into place. “I am very effective as a clothes rack for your spare clothes. Good thing I don’t need a shirt.”
Rhoelyn: Placing her hand on his chest, she leans forward and kisses him. “No, I don’t think you do. You don’t mind if I borrow it for the night, do you?”
Araatris: The druid smiles warmly at her. “I don’t mind, lovely.” Leaning close, he whispers against her ear, earning a blush and a grin from Nysse.
Rhoelyn: “Really?” Nysse’s covers her mouth to muffle her laugh. “Oh Elune, when I wore your shirt before…” Her eyes tear up as she continues to laugh.
Araatris: With a little amused growl, he leans back. “Tsk. Vixen. I’m going to sleep before you corrupt me thoroughly.” Chuckling, he steals a quick kiss.
Rhoelyn: The huntress shakes her head and lays down, “I am still fairly tired. It took a while to calm Yami down.” She turns and curls around the boy.
Araatris: Rhese reaches over her to smooth the boy’s hair back. “He seemed very agitated. I’m glad you were able to. Why did he shift to the wind serpent?”
Rhoelyn: She sighs and tilts her head back, “I think he found the form in my mind. He was upset because you were and didn’t want to leave, so… he held on.”
Araatris: “Ah…” He watches the boy sleep. “I think I’ve felt him touch my thoughts as well. It’s gentle; not like the naga magic. He’s already learning.”
Rhoelyn: Yami turns and snuggles against her chest. Nysse wraps her arm securely around him. “I tried to send him to you, but he wouldn’t leave me.”
Araatris: “That doesn’t surprise me, lovely.” Rhese yawns and settles onto his elbow behind her. “He adores you. I think his attachment to me comes from you.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse mulls that over. “Maybe some, but not all,” she replies softly. Her voice has that slow drawl of oncoming sleep, “He loves you, too.”
Araatris: Nysse can’t see his quiet smile at the thought. Her eyelids droop. When he whispers “good night”, her answering mumble is unintelligible.
Rhoelyn: Rhese lays his arm over Nysse to rest on Yami’s back. The child-creature mumbles, “An’da…,” before sleep overcomes the druid as well.
Araatris: Bal’riemon’s effigy dances maddeningly as she stares, painful and beautiful at once. Anari bites her lip as the priest scribes her first tattoo.