Araatris: Late the next afternoon, Rhese and Kreston shove yet another palisade wall segment into place before pausing to rest while others secure it.
Rhoelyn: Kreston uses his shirt to mop at the sweat on his face and grins at Rhese. “What’s Nysse doing while we finish here? Making more weapons?”
Araatris: The druid nods, sitting down in the sand to catch his breath. “She’s with Aleesa and Dorian. I guess the dwarf spent some time as an armorer.”
Rhoelyn: “That’s for the best. We can use all we can get. This is the quiet before the storm.” Kreston sits across from him. “How are you holding up?”
Araatris: Rhese shrugs. “Nothing has changed since the last time you asked. Did Nysse ask you to keep an eye on me?” The human frowns. “She didn’t need to.”
Rhoelyn: Kreston retrieves a bota of deer hide with a rock spout and takes a long drink. “This heat can cause problems for anyone.” He passes the bota.
Araatris: The druid takes a drink and passes it back. “Thank you. I’ll manage.” He stretches the kinks out of his tired shoulders. “You? You seem unaffected.”
Rhoelyn: The sailor grins, “Practice. The sun can be harsh out at sea.” He pats the hide bag. “And I drink like a fish. Do night elves tan or burn?”
Araatris: Rhese laughs. “Neither, I’m glad to say. I spent a week in the sun in Tanaris, once, with nothing to remember it by except an ogre’s bone mace.”
Rhoelyn: “I’m hoping that the ogre mace was yours. Anything else sounds painful.” He knocks back the bota again. “You and Nysse travel a lot then?”
Araatris: “The mace decorates the wall in my apartment in Darnassus.” He smirks. “I’ve gotten assignments all over Azeroth and Outland for years.”
Rhoelyn: Handing the water to Rhese, Kreston smirks, “You two must have interesting adventures.” He checks the sun, “Ugh. The day goes too quickly.”
Araatris: The druid takes another long drink of the water, massaging his head. “We’re going to have to move faster if we want to complete this flank.”
Rhoelyn: Kreston raises an eyebrow. “If your head’s bothering ya, I can call one of the other boys to take your place while we push on for a while.”
Araatris: “I’m fine.” He hands the water back, shoving to his feet with a long, last stretch. “I hope you’re wrong about that storm, but just in case…”
Rhoelyn: The sailor taps the side of his nose and laments, “I wish, but I can smell it. It’ll hit tonight.” He gathers himself to his feet. “Back to work.”
Araatris: Rhese pats him as they head back along the wall for a new segment. Walking across the camp with an armful of thin logs, Nysse watches them go.
Rhoelyn: Wolf Yami carries a stick in his mouth alongside her. Smiling, she sets the bundle down next to Dorian and Aleesa, “More future arrows.”
Araatris: The shaman pauses in her casting, wiping her brow. “Thank you, Nysse. We cannot take much more from the bedrock, here. We will need to move.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods, “There’s a rockface near the river if the spirits don’t have a preference.” She kneels and ruffles Yami’s ears. “Good job, Yami.”
Araatris: Aleesa sighs, glancing at Dorian as he works. “It’s getting more and more difficult to get straightforward responses. They are so agitated.”
Rhoelyn: “Naga?” Nysse sits and crosses her legs. Yami curls next to her as she picks up one of the thin logs. She deftly uses her dagger to work at it.
Araatris: Nodding her head, the draenei rummages around for her water skin. “But only part of it is due to what stirs in this area. I fear more is afoot.”
Rhoelyn: Sighing, the huntress asks quietly, “Do you think the other eggs have hatched? It’s been quiet.” Yami trills and Nysse feels his mental touch.
Araatris: “I don’t think so, Nysse. There is still the sense that the storm has yet to break. But it is close.” Dorian glances up from his work with a frown.
Rhoelyn: He gruffly complains, “Are ye talkin’ the actual storm or an attack? Kreston’s been talkin’bout rain all day.” He returns to sharpening the blade.
Araatris: Aleesa shrugs. “As I said… it is difficult to get clear answers. It could be either, though from the sense of dread, whatever it is will be severe.”
Rhoelyn: Dorian rolls his shoulder, “Sets my bones-a-achin’ is what it does.” Nysse looks up at the cloudy sky. “Do you think the shelters will hold?”
Araatris: “They’re solid enough, lass. The best we can manage, any way.” The dwarf shrugs, setting another handful of arrows on the growing pile.
Rhoelyn: Nysse’s shoulders droop. “Yes, but I wish we could do more.” She hisses as the knife slips and she puts her thumb in her mouth, “Cenarius’ Beard!”
Araatris: Aleesa takes her hand with a chuckle. “I can tell you’ve been missing your mate too long when you start cursing like him.” She heals the cut.
Rhoelyn: The huntress’ cheeks turn a soft pink. “It just slipped out.” Wiping off the dagger, she thanks Aleesa. “Should I get more wood after these?”
Araatris: Dorian looks up from his work. “I dinna think so. Next, we sh-… Wait. Where’d yer lil’ lad run off to?” Nysse pales, looking around. ”Yami?”
Rhoelyn: She slips her dagger in its sheath and stands, letting a half finished arrow shaft fall out of her lap. “He was just here.” Her voice cracks.
Araatris: Aleesa rises with her, resting a calming hand on her arm. She points. “Look. His tracks.” The sporadic paw prints lead into the camp.
Rhoelyn: “Thanks!” Nysse smiles gratefully before hurrying after the tracks and into camp. Her gaze sweeps the area, but she doesn’t see him on the way.
Araatris: Near the palisade, the paw prints shift to bare little foot prints, and soon the activity around the work area obscures them altogether.
Rhoelyn: Nysse bites her lip. “Yami?” She jogs now, searching for Rhese or the child. Workers give her space as she weaves through them. “Yami?”
Araatris: “Hey!” Kreston’s voice precedes a more chaotic explosion of noise from not far ahead. “What are y– whoa!” Nysse bursts into a sprint.
Rhoelyn: Her heart pounds frantically as she hears Yami’s scream. She shoves through a small crowd of people, then gasps, covering her mouth. “Yami!”
Araatris: A new segment of the wooden wall lays askew and half fallen. Kreston strains to support one end while others drag Rhese and Yami out.
Rhoelyn: Kreston gently releases the wall. Nysse stumbles forward, sliding to her knees next to them. She numbly notes the blood as she checks them.
Araatris: Yami trills and clings to Rhese, who bleeds from a cut across the back of his shoulder. His nose also drips blood. The human crouches beside her.
Rhoelyn: Her voice sounds distant to herself, “He’s unconscious. Keep his head tilted until someone gets a healer.” She turns, “Come here, sweetie.”
Araatris: “Go get Nithan,” Kreston orders one of the bystanders. Yami looks at Nysse, reluctant. “An’da!” He presses his cheek against the druid’s.
Rhoelyn: Nysse trembles as she reaches for him. “We’ll be here for An’da, but he’s hurt.” The child squirms in her arms, reaching for Rhese. “An’da…”
Araatris: The crowd hums with gossip. Nysse can make out at least one whisper nearby. “…collapsed as soon as it touched him.” Nithan hurries over.
Rhoelyn: Cradling Yami closer, Nysse looks for the source. Faye follows Nithan and glares at the crowd, snapping, “Get out of here. There’s nothing to see.”
Araatris: One of the other refugees starts herding the workers back to their jobs. The crowd clears reluctantly as Kreston fills Nithan in.
Rhoelyn: “He’s been looking off all day with a headache, but he fell when Yami came and grabbed his leg. I’m not sure what set it off.” The sailor finishes.
Rhoelyn: When their gazes raise to Nysse, she answers their unspoken question in a cracking voice, “Yami gently touches our minds, but it doesn’t hurt…”
Araatris: The priest frowns at that, his hands glowing as he passes them over Rhese. “Maybe it doesn’t hurt you…” The cut on the druid’s shoulder knits.
Rhoelyn: Nysse snaps as tears form in her eyes, “Stop it, Nithan. If Yami did it, it was an accident. Rhese said it was gentle and nothing like the naga.”
Araatris: “Sure, until it gets agitat–” Faye sets a hand on his shoulder, and he glances up at her. “Like the naga?” she asks Nysse. “What does that mean?”
Rhoelyn: She sighs, “I’m not sure. He mentioned that it wasn’t like the naga magic.” Nysse clears her throat, “Also, he didn’t get that headache today.”
Araatris: Nithan frowns at Rhese’s prone form, removing his hands. “Let’s get him to shelter. We can talk about this more there. Away from curious ears.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods and hoists Yami to her hip as she stands. “That’s a good idea. Do you think the place we’ve been sleeping is private enough?”
Araatris: “It sounds perfect.” Nithan stands and steps aside so that Faye and Kreston can lift Rhese. Soon enough, they’re all settled into the shelter.
Rhoelyn: The huntress hums softly to Yami. He sniffles into her shoulder. As she’s patting his back, Nysse asks Nithan, “What do you want to know?”
Araatris: He glances at Faye before asking, “When did the headaches start?” Nysse considers that for a moment, biting her lip.
Rhoelyn: She hesitates, “The first time he mentioned it was after everyone was rescued when Yami first used this form, but I think he had it before.”
Araatris: The priest gives her a narrow-eyed look. “I remember how pale he was to see the little boy. Like he was in pain. Why do you think he had it before?”
Rhoelyn: “It was the way he talked about it. We were both shocked that Yami chose this form.” Nysse looks down. “Maybe Yami’s touches make it worse.”
Araatris: The priest sighs, his glowing hands once more on the druid. “Maybe they do. Something is injuring him, bit by bit, from within his mind.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse frowns, “Can it be healed? He said his magic wouldn’t do anything when I asked if he’d tried.” She shifts so she can hold Rhese’s hand.
Araatris: Concentrating for a moment, he nods. “I can heal the injury, but it will just continue unless we can remove the source.” He looks at Yami.
Rhoelyn: “But if you heal the original injury, then Yami shouldn’t hurt him anymore, right?” Nysse looks down at the sleeping Yami, then at Nithan hopefully.
Araatris: “I have no idea, Nysse,” he grouches, “I’ve–” Yami wakes suddenly, thrashing in her arms and straining toward Rhese once more.
Rhoelyn: A small arm hits her in the gut. “Yami! He’s trying to heal An’da.” She pins the child in her arms, but Yami cries, “No hurt! I stop hurt!”
Araatris: Like another slippery shapeshifter she knows, he ripples and shifts, trying to escape her grip. Rhese groans and stiffens beneath Nithan’s hands.
Rhoelyn: A tiny dark kitten drops to her lap. Nysse tries to scoop him up, but he slips through her hands. “Yami!” The kitten rubs and licks Rhese’s cheek.
Araatris: Kreston reaches forward and grabs the kitten, but before he can pull him away, Nithan grabs his wrist. “Wait.” He watches as Rhese relaxes.
Rhoelyn: Nithan hovers his other hand over Rhese. He nods at Kreston. “Let it go.” Kreston and Nithan withdraw their hands as Rhese’s color improves.
Araatris: Thunder rumbles in the distance as the kitten curls up against his an’da. He shows them all a naga witch smiling cruelly, “Your mind will burn.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse speaks softly, “So, that’s what he was talking about…” Nithan nods and looks grim. “It gives me a better place to start to heal him.”
Araatris: The priest concentrates while the others watch anxiously. When his green eyes focus once more, he pales. “Kreston, go and warn the camp.”
Rhoelyn: A gust of wind rustles through the leaves. Kreston sighs, “What do you want me to tell them? It won’t take much to stir them into a panic.”
Araatris: “This spell … the caster plants it, and then she can pluck at it to make it worse for him. But in order to do that, she has to be nearby.”
Rhoelyn: Kreston pales considerably, “Meaning that she’s close enough to attack and likely isn’t alone.” He curses proficiently and loudly. “I’ll hurry.”
Araatris: “I’ll start getting them armed.” Faye follows him. The priest looks at Nysse. “I can dispell this, but there’s a problem. The naga will know.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse grimaces and stares at Rhese. Finally, she looks away and hoarsely admits, “We don’t have a choice. Leave it. We’re not ready yet.”
Araatris: Resting a hand on her arm, he reassures her, “Yami is protecting him. They can buy us the time we need to have everything prepared.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress laments, “It’s never easy to know he’s hurting.” She smiles and sighs, “Thank you. I’ll watch over them while you all prepare.”
Araatris: Nithan nods, getting to his feet. “Call me if anything changes. I’ll bring you weapons as soon as I can.” Lightning flashes in the sky as he goes.
Rhoelyn: Nysse sits in silence, holding Rhese’s hand. She leans down and kisses the furry little body next to the druid and Yami trills softly.
Araatris: Outside their shelter, the storm rolls toward them, the wind picking up. By the time rain starts falling, the trees are buffeted about by the gale.
Rhoelyn: Rain blows into the small opening and Nysse moves to block it. She shivers under the cold, wet onslaught, jumping with each lightning strike.
Araatris: At a tap against her shoulder, she nearly jumps out of her skin, whipping toward the opening with a clenched fist. Nithan shies back. “Whoa!”
Rhoelyn: Nysse’s cheeks are flushed as she shivers again. “Sorry. I guess I’m a little on edge. Did you bring back a weapon?” She pushes her wet hair back.
Araatris: He holds out a rough bow and a bundle of arrows. “Yes. Aleesa thought these would be your preference. Are you doing okay in here?”
Rhoelyn: She nods and takes the weapon and ammo. “It’s perfect. Not as useful in this weather though.” Nysse lips curl into a half-smile. “I’m fine.”
Araatris: The priest tilts his head. “You look cold, Nysse. Maybe I–” A sudden uproar from outside distracts him, and he frowns. “Wait here.”
Rhoelyn: Nithan slips out without waiting, leaving Nysse clutching her bow. His voice raises above the others, but she can’t make out the words.
Araatris: Yami trills and pushes to his paws as Rhese stirs. The kitten rubs against his cheek, purring as his eyes open. “N-nysse?” he croaks, confused.
Rhoelyn: Noise forgotten, Nysse turns back to Rhese with a shiver. “It’s okay, Rhese. You collapsed earlier, but we’re here. There’s a big storm outside.”
Araatris: “… a storm?” He gingerly shoves himself to sitting, his expression still tight with pain. “Love, you’re soaked and freezing.” He reaches for her.
Rhoelyn: Rhese tugs her out of the rain, next to him. She rambles, “It’s been raining for a bit. I’m sorry you’re hurting, but we can’t do anything yet.”
Araatris: “I can handle it.” The druid chafes her arms to warm her, frowning. “Cenarius’ beard! How long have you been in the rain? How long was I out?”
Rhoelyn: She rubs a pink cheek, “I’m not sure. No more than a couple hours I think. Nithan stopped by, but he left to check on some noise.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse mumbles, “We think the naga that cursed you is nearby, but we can’t dispel it without them knowing so Yami is watching over you…”
Araatris: Rhese’s brow furrows as he tries to keep up with her deluge of information. “Wait… the naga are nearby? They know where the camp is?”
Rhoelyn: The huntress frowns and shakes her head. “I don’t,” she sneezes, “know, but it’s likely. I really thought Nithan would be back by now.”
Araatris: Casting his gaze around, Rhese spies the vine pouch. He doesn’t even need to say anything before Yami hops up and pads over to drag it back.
Rhoelyn: As Rhese thanks Yami and rummages through the pouch, Nysse scoots back into the rain and peers out around the shelter. “I can’t hear anything.”
Araatris: Rhese grumbles and grabs her arm to tug her back into the shelter. He stuffs herbs into her hand. “Eat,” he orders. “Then we’ll see what’s going on.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse shivers and protests, “You need them. I’m a little cold, but I’ll be fine.” She attempts to push them back at him, but he shakes his head.
Araatris: “Nysse.” The druid presses his forehead to hers. “You’re already flushed and warm. Do as I say. Please.” He tucks her wet hair behind her ear.
Rhoelyn: At her nod, Rhese kisses her forehead. “Thank you.” Nysse takes the herbs meekly and asks quietly, “Shall we go check on everyone now?”
Araatris: “Yes. Yami.” The kitten rubs against his leg, and he leans down to scoop him up. “I’ll carry him for now so you have your hands free for your bow.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods and picks up her bow and then slips the hide sling for her arrows over her shoulder. She keeps one arrow in her hand as they step out.
Araatris: Once out in the storm, Rhese pauses and looks around. The weather is overwhelming. He grasps Nysse’s wrist, leading toward the heart of the camp.
Rhoelyn: The visibility is poor, but they make it to the main shelter. Rhese leans down and peers in while Nysse watches behind them. “Is he there?”
Araatris: “No one is here.” He gets close to be heard over the storm. “We sh-” The druid cuts off, turning his head. Whatever he says is lost in the wind.
Rhoelyn: She leans towards his ear. “What was that? I didn’t catch the last part.” Something raises the hair on the back of her neck and her eyes dart about.
Araatris: The huntress’ attention finally lands on a shadow approaching through the deluge. Its gait is far too fluid, and the markings on its skin writhe.
Rhoelyn: Nysse hisses “naga” in his ear before leaning back and drawing her bow. The undulating tattoos make it difficult to focus on the shadowy figure.
Araatris: Rhese cuddles Yami close and whispers in his ear before setting the kitten at Nysse’s feet. He ripples into a wolf, hackles raised and snarling.
Rhoelyn: Anari hisses through the storm, “Greetingsss. We have been waiting for you.” Nysse presses closer to Yami. “What did you do with the others?”
Araatris: The priestess gestures with her staff. “They fight and fear and sssuffer against the main force, feeding and nurturing the children. But not you.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress risks a glance at Rhese and Yami. “They’ll fight them off. Just like we’ll fight you.” She growls, “You’re also not getting Yami.”
Araatris: The naga’s grin is sharp and vicious. Rhese shifts into the cat and steps in front of Nysse and Yami. “Ssso, the name isss revealed. Foolish girl.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse stomach churns uneasily, but she manages a grim smile at priestess. “I’m done listening to your nonsense, naga. He’s chosen us.”
Araatris: Rhese darts forward, leaping through the rain, but he hits a shield of water plucked from the air and skids to the side. “No. He hasss not.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse drops to her knee and wraps her arm around the wolf, her bow still held in her other hand. “How would you know?” She fights off a shudder.
Araatris: “The Lord has given me inssight. The child you ssstole cannot choose until he hasss known hisss true family.” She holds out a clawed hand. “Come.”
Rhoelyn: Yami shakes his head even as he stumbles forward, knocking Nysse off balance. “Please don’t go. We’re your family.” Rhese clambers to his paws.
Araatris: The druid snarls and stalks forward, the light in his eyes flaring. He leaps at her as the clouds above her part and moonfire stabs down.
Rhoelyn: Anari’s shield blocks most of the above strike, but Rhese’s claws rake shallowly across her arm. “You can’t see me clearly. Can you, druid?”
Araatris: At his frustrated snarl, she grins. “You will find my Lord hasss granted me new gifts. He knowsss the power of a name. Yield, Rhese Sssilverwing.”
Rhoelyn: Rhese growls, but reluctantly lays down as if a weight is pressing on him. Nysse cries out hoarsely as Yami slips from her arms, “No!”
Araatris: The huntress whips up her bow, shouting, “Leave them alone!” She looses three arrows in quick succession at the witch, struggling to see her.
Rhoelyn: Anari snaps the shield around, but the first arrow hits her in the shoulder. “You little-!” Nysse grins, “You don’t know my name, do you?”
Araatris: The witch hisses, holding her bleeding shoulder. “Yami!” Her words ring with power. “Disssarm her, void child. I want her kneeling before me!”
Rhoelyn: Yami spins around and leaps at Nysse. She dives to the side, narrowly avoiding the wolf. “Stop, Yami!” The huntress backs towards Rhese.
Araatris: The cat growls, shoving to his paws unsteadily. He staggers in front of Nysse just in time to engage Yami when the wolf pursues her.
Rhoelyn: “Don’t hurt him! It’s not his fault!” Nysse turns her fevered glare to the naga. She fires arrows and closes in on Anari. “You will pay for this.”
Araatris: Not to be caught unawares again, the priestess uses her shield and her staff to defend against her arrows. “No, elf. That isss your fate.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse stops outside of the barrier and draws her dagger. “Like I’m going to cower to you.” The night elf shivers and she curses under her breath.
Araatris: Behind her, Rhese yowls in pain when the wolf sinks teeth into his shoulder. The cat swats at his face to little effect with his claws retracted.
Rhoelyn: Nysse glares at the naga before running to Rhese. “Get back!” She runs to try and knock Yami away from the druid. “I’ll deal with him.”
Araatris: Anari raises her staff, whispering under her breath. Lightning leaps between the clouds and gathers above their heads, striking down at them.
Rhoelyn: It races through the humid air towards Rhese. Afterwards, she staggers to her knees unable to see or hear. She holds her dagger up as a guard.
Araatris: Nysse jumps to feel Yami brush up against her, but she can’t bring herself to use her dagger. As she runs her fingers through his fur tenderly, (c)
Araatris: (c) she feels the familiar gentle lick of his thoughts against hers. “Sweetie,” she whispers in the half-second before he shoves her mind into darkness.
Araatris: Late the next afternoon, Rhese and Kreston shove yet another palisade wall segment into place before pausing to rest while others secure it.