Rhoelyn: The borrowed serpent gently touches the ground. Nysse pats Rhoelyn’s shoulder and murmurs, “We’re here, sister. You may wish to wake and see.”
Araatris: The priestess stirs, blinking awake. Rather than straightening, she shivers and huddles against Nysse, tugging her cloak tighter. “It’s c-cold.”
Rhoelyn: “It is, but you should warm up a bit from moving.” Nysse chafes her sister’s arm through the cloak. “Why don’t you slide down and I’ll follow.”
Araatris: After a brief delay to gird herself, the little night elf does as bidden, slipping lithely to the ground and stepping away from the dragon.
Rhoelyn: Nysse follows, keeping her hand on the dragon’s side and thanking him. She steps away and bows before taking Rhoe’s hand and joining Mu Lin.
Araatris: Quaed and Leothir talk quietly off to the side as Nataro joins the Pandaren. The huntress subtly puts herself between Rhoelyn and the others.
Rhoelyn: A group of three pandaren stride out of the gates and bow to Mu Lin. “Greetings, brother. We received word of your arrival. Are these our guests?”
Araatris: Mu Lin returns the bow and nods. “Allow me to introduce you.” As he does so, Nysse holds Rhoelyn’s hand as the priestess fidgets impatiently.
Rhoelyn: The huntress bows as her and Rhoelyn are mentioned. The first pandaren with a tawny coat nods. “I am Hansho and these are Ming and Ru Dan.”
Araatris: Beside her, her sister manages an empty smile and a polite bow. “It is our pleasure to meet you. Could we speak inside, where it’s warmer?”
Rhoelyn: Hansho glances at Mu Lin who nods. “Of course. Please follow me.” He turns and steps into the temple, the others following behind.
Araatris: The monks lead them all through the lovely building and out the other side, where a path leads farther up the complex to a grander structure.
Rhoelyn: Nysse wraps her arm around Rhoelyn’s shoulder, wrapping her cloak around both of them. “We’ll be warm soon, sister. Isn’t this beautiful?”
Araatris: Rhoelyn looks around, a soft grin lifting her lips. “It really is. The snowy hills remind me of Winterspring.”
Rhoelyn: “You and Rhese grew up there. I don’t know how you all stood all that cold.” Nysse giggles. “I was frozen most of the time in Grizzly Hills.”
Araatris: “Oh, we were accustomed to it, I suppose. We were born in the cold.” Nostalgia softens her expression. “I remember having such warm furs to wear.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse teases, “This is the perfect opportunity for a new outfit. You love getting new clothes.” Halfway up the hill they stop at a building.
Araatris: The tawny monk leads them through the structure and into a warm, cozy sitting room with cushions placed neatly on the intricate tiled floor.
Rhoelyn: “Please sit.” Hansho gestures around the room. Nysse guides Rhoelyn to sit as far from Leothir as possible. “We appreciate your hospitality.”
Araatris: The other two monks quickly exit the room, and Hansho stands by the only door. “You have traveled far, today. I would suppose you are all tired.”
Rhoelyn: “We will bring you food, then you may rest in here. Tomorrow you will have an audience with Elder Wu Lei.” He bows and steps out of the room.
Araatris: Rhoelyn frowns and tugs Nysse’s sleeve, leaning over to quietly ask, “Did he… mean we will sleep here?” Her glance goes over to the Hordies.
Rhoelyn: Nysse takes Rhoelyn’s hands and answers softly. “They won’t try anything, sister, and Mu Lin is here. We’ll be safe in the monastery’s care.”
Araatris: The priestess presses her lips together as her brows draw down, an expression that Nysse has learned to be wary of over the past days.
Rhoelyn: The huntress sighs and looks at Mu Lin. “Do they mean for us to sleep in here? Or do you think we could get separate sleeping arrangements?”
Araatris: The serpent rider shakes his head, glancing at her sister knowingly. “I am not sure, Nysse. Let us eat and then we can address that with them.”
Rhoelyn: “Yes, that’s a good idea. Thank you.” Nysse hugs Rhoelyn closer, laying her cloak across them both. “You’re still cold. This should help.”
Araatris: Her sister nods and rests her head on the huntress’ shoulder, still looking tired despite her nap. She mutters quietly, “Thank you, sister.”
Rhoelyn: The young night elf murmurs, “Rest, sister. I’ll wake you when food comes.” Nysse watches the others: the horde talking softly and the quiet Mu Lin.
Araatris: Rhoelyn rests, but she doesn’t close her eyes, her gaze settling on the back of Leothir’s head. She tenses, her hands clenching under the cloak.
Rhoelyn: The mage notices her look and smirks, “Looking for another kiss, flower princess?” Nysse quickly tightens her arm around Rhoe. “Ignore him.”
Araatris: She can feel every muscle in her sister’s body tense, her jaw clenching as she lifts her head. “He still hasn’t learned, Nysse. You should let m-”
Rhoelyn: “No,” Nysse states firmly, “We may not be interested, but we won’t do anything unless we’re defending ourselves. Now tell me about Winterspring.”
Araatris: “W-winterspring?” The swing back to their earlier topic is surprising enough that it’s an effective distraction. Rhoe blinks. “What about it?”
Rhoelyn: Nysse smiles at Rhoe, “Well, Rhese always said to ask you about an adventure in a cave? He said you’ll know what I’m asking. It seems vague to me.”
Araatris: The priestess’ eyes go wide. “He mentioned that to you? I’m surprised. It wasn’t his finest hour.” She giggles, a sound that’s become more rare.
Rhoelyn: The huntress snorts, “So that’s it. Fuzzbutt is hiding his embarrassment by having you tell it.” She laughs, “So, what trouble did he cause?”
Araatris: Rhoelyn grins and warms to the task even as Mu Lin invites himself closer at her nod. “This was over a century ago, when we were only children.”
Araatris: She begins her tale, and soon their laughter draws the attention of the others. “I turned to find him rear-up in a snow drift, naked as a babe!”
Rhoelyn: Nysse doubles over in mirth. “I would say I can’t believe it, but…! Did he have to go home like that?” Mu Lin guffaws. “He was quite the cub.”
Araatris: Rhoelyn smiles in fond remembrance. “Of course it was too cold for him to go home naked. I loaned him my cloak, and we both ran to stay warm.”
Rhoelyn: “Maybe I should start calling him Barebutt instead.” The huntress grins broadly. “He’s definitely hearing about this when we get home.”
Araatris: Rhoelyn’s attention snaps over Nysse’s shoulder when Quaed’s rasp sounds out, “That is the guy who nearly took you out in Baradin Hold, Nataro?”
Rhoelyn: The younger night elf winces as Nataro answers, “He has grown much since then, Quaed. I assure you that he was no cub when we fought.”
Araatris: The mirth and warmth disappears from the little priestess’ face immediately, and she grits her teeth, baring her canines. “Don’t speak of him.”
Rhoelyn: Leothir smirks and stares at Nysse, “I’m with you. I’d rather he disappeared entirely. I’d much rather have my eyes on other… tasty prizes.”
Araatris: Rhoelyn’s growl is quiet compared to Leo’s scream of pain as shadows shoot across the floor to lick at his feet. He staggers back, reeling.
Rhoelyn: Nysse’s eyes open wide and she gasps, “Rhoe, we can’t attack!” Leothir snarls, “You little! You’ll pay for that!” He summons magic to his hands.
Araatris: The mage’s cuffs glow, sucking the mana from him, and Rhoelyn grins savagely, pulling free of Nysse to get to her feet. “Did you forget something?”
Rhoelyn: Leothir stalks forward. “I don’t need magic. You’re the only thing between my lady and I and I’m tired of it.” Nysse lunges up and in front of Rhoe.
Araatris: “Move, Nysse.” The priestess only flicks a glance at her sister. “He cannot harm me.” Grey smoke and purple-black shadows dance across her skin.
Rhoelyn: Nysse shakes her head even as he closes in. “I can’t let you do this, Rhoe. Please stop.” Then she snaps at the mage, “Back down, Leo.”
Araatris: Nataro places himself at Nysse’s back, facing down the sin’dorei. “You need to listen to her. This is not right.” Leo snarls. “Don’t interfere.”
Rhoelyn: The mage attempts to dart around, but Nataro grasps the back of his shirt. “No, you will listen.” He drags Leo in front of him. “Calm yourself.”
Araatris: “Calm myself? Really?!” the elf shouts. “How about you go f-” “Agh!” Nysse’s startled shout interrupts as a shadowy tentacle wraps around her.
Rhoelyn: “It’s the only way to protect you, Nysse! I can’t let him do this to us any more.” Shadows surge past the struggling huntress and Nataro.
Araatris: The blood elf cries out, again, startling Nataro into releasing him as he crashes to his knees. Shadows writhe around him. The shaman whirls. “Stop!”
Rhoelyn: The small priestess glares at him. “I won’t! He has to… he has to suffer!” Tendrils undulate around Rhoelyn. Nysse strains against the tentacle.
Araatris: “Rhoe!” The huntress stills, peering into her sister’s face. “Sister, please stop. This isn’t like you.” Leothir collapses, his cuffs glowing.
Rhoelyn: Rhoelyn glances at her, frowning. “It’s not my fault. If he’d-.” Nysse pleads, “Listen to yourself. This isn’t like the sister I know and love.”
Araatris: “I… but…” The priestess is glancing uncertainly between her companion and Leothir when a totem lands at her feet with a burst of magic.
Rhoelyn: Her eyes go wide before a shock from the totem causes her to fall to the ground limply. Nysse falls after her as the tendril fades. “Ugh!”
Araatris: The huntress lands and immediately scrambles to her sister, kicking the totem over. She gathers Rhoelyn in her arms as Leothir stirs, growling.
Rhoelyn: Nataro grabs and tosses Leothir over his shoulder. Quaed comments to Mu Lin, “You may want to inform our hosts that we’ll need separate rooms.”
Araatris: The Pandaren nods sadly, watching Nysse check over Rhoelyn with shaking hands. “I will see to it.” He rests a gentle hand on her shoulder.
Rhoelyn: Nysse flinches, but looks up. “Her pulse is weak…” Mu Lin nods. “Why don’t you come with me? I can carry your sister.” Nysse bites her lip.
Araatris: The huntress nods and moves so that he can scoop up the priestess, trying not to think too hard about her pallor or the way her arm dangles limply.
Rhoelyn: Nysse shadows him out. When Leo looks like he’s about to speak, the blood elf suddenly finds a dripping dagger hovering over his skin. “Quiet.”
Araatris: The sin’dorei glowers, folding his arms across his chest. He opens his mouth again, but Quaed snaps, “I said quiet. Keep your big mouth shut.”
Rhoelyn: Leothir growls under his breath staring at the door. Nysse and Mu Lin’s footsteps fade. The undead moves to block the doorway. “Talk.”
Araatris: The mage bursts out, throwing his hands up. “Whose side are you two on? That crazy little princess nearly killed me! Look, my nose is bleeding.”
Rhoelyn: Nataro gathers blue magic to his hand and places it on Leo’s shoulder. “You are not dead. You are safe, but we must not anger our hosts.”
Araatris: “Tell that to Rhoelyn,” Leo sneers. “She’s trouble. We should kill her and be done with it.” The Tauren sighs. “Did you forget that we need her?”
Rhoelyn: The mage stares incredulously at Nataro. “We’re in the middle of a temple. Do you really think they’re going to leave us an opening for that?”
Araatris: The shaman looks from Quaed to Leo. “We will make one. Do not forget why we are really here. You must be cured so that we can get back on mission.”
Rhoelyn: Quaed nods. “They have to leave here sometime if they want to go home.” He pulls a hearth stone from his cuirass. “I still have their hearth stone.”
Araatris: Nataro looks out the door after the night elves. “This can still be salvaged.” Leothir scoffs and turns away, the Tauren’s dark gaze following him.
Rhoelyn: Down the hallway, a startled Hansho hurries to Nysse and Mu Lin. “Wha-?” Mu Lin gently interrupts, “Please. We need a room and a healer first.”
Araatris: The monk blinks at them for but a heartbeat before nodding. “Come,” he says simply, leading them down a side hall to a small, comfortable chamber.
Rhoelyn: Much like the other chamber, there are cushions piled throughout the room. Mu Lin rests Rhoelyn gently down as Hansho speaks at the door.
Araatris: “It is rare for the first test to be failed even before dinner arrives.” He frowns at Rhoelyn as Nysse kneels by her, taking her hand.
Rhoelyn: Nysse gently brushes hair from her sister’s face. The huntress looks up, “I’m sorry that we didn’t pass your test, but safety comes first.”
Rhoelyn: “Their illness is getting worse.” The huntress hesitates, “Please have someone check on the others. I don’t know what she did to Leothir…”
Araatris: “I’ll see to it. Needless to say, you will not return to the testing chamber tonight.” The monk looks dour. “I will send the healer.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress bows her head. “Thank you…” She doesn’t look up when he leaves, but quietly clings to Rhoelyn’s hand, her back to Mu Lin.
Araatris: The serpent rider watches her in silence for many minutes before he steps forward and rests a paw on Nysse’s shoulder. “Are you unharmed?”
Rhoelyn: Nysse frowns in growing confusion, “I-I don’t know. Maybe?” She mumbles, “I… what is… shadows?” She shakes her head. “I’m not making sense, am I?”
Araatris: “Not much. No.” Mu Lin kneels at her side. “Take a few breaths, Nysse. Find your center, and you can better help her and yourself.”
Rhoelyn: “I’ll try.” She bites her lip and closes her eyes, her thoughts turning to Verune. Nysse breathes deeply and remembers her training with Korran.
Araatris: As she concentrates, the Pandaren settles cross-legged beside her and gently checks on Rhoelyn. He sighs softly and glances at the door.
Rhoelyn: The huntress finds herself following Verune’s teachings to summon the spirit wolf. She doesn’t notice the swirling glow growing around her.
Araatris: Mu Lin blinks and turns as the light grows. “Ah… Nysse?” He starts and leaps to his feet as Korran’s ghostly form solidifies behind the huntress.
Rhoelyn: She speaks softly, overly calm in her focused state, “Yes? Is something wrong?” Korran begins to expand as if being fed from the huntress.
Araatris: He opens his mouth, but before he can make a sound… “A ghost!” The little old Pandaren woman in a gown stops and backs behind the door.
Rhoelyn: Nysse opens her eyes and glances at the door, only then catching sight of Korran looming over her. “Oh! I’m so sorry! It’s Korran, my spirit wolf.”
Araatris: Mu Lin takes her word for it and goes to the door, taking the tray of implements from the old healer. “You need not be afraid, elder.”
Rhoelyn: Korran tucks himself to the side of the room, making way for the others at Nysse’s glance. “I promise it’s safe.” The healer cautiously enters.
Araatris: “Very well.” The little old lady’s voice sounds as creaky as her bones as she shuffles across the room to kneel at Rhoelyn’s side.
Rhoelyn: The spirit wolf lays down and noses Nysse’s back comfortingly as she waits patiently. The elder frowns as she checks the night elf’s vitals.
Araatris: “What has this child been up to?” the lady warbles, her paws sure and steady as she presses one against Rhoelyn’s forehead. “She is unbalanced.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods. “She’s been infected by the sha. She’s been so angry…” She wraps her free arm around the massive wolf’s neck as he shifts closer.
Araatris: Frowning, the old panda gripes, “Sha-touched? Tsk. That explains much.” She rifles through her tray. “She is weak. A restorative will help.”
Rhoelyn: “Thank you, elder.” Nysse inclines her head respectfully. The woman shoves a stone bowl and pestle with herbs at the huntress. “Grind these.”
Araatris: As Nysse untangles herself from Korran to do so, the healer points at Mu Lin. “Boil water for tea.” She points at a cupboard tucked in the corner.
Rhoelyn: The young night elf and pandaren comply to her instructions. “Give me those. Now is that wolf solid enough to prop her up? Yes? Then hurry up.”
Araatris: Korran lays at Rhoelyn’s head, waiting patiently while Nysse and Mu Lin lift the limp priestess and settle her seated against his cloud-soft fur.
Rhoelyn: “This is bitter, but using sweetener lessens the effect. Make sure she drinks every drop and rests tonight.” She glares at Nysse. “No stress.”
Araatris: The huntress nods, her eyes a little wide at the old lady’s vehemence. “No stress,” she repeats, watching her dose out a very particular amount.
Rhoelyn: The healer nods and then takes Rhoelyn’s hand in her paws. She smiles gently and pats her hand. “Wake up, dear. We have some medicine for you.”
Araatris: Rhoe stirs and winces before she even opens her eyes. “Nysse? My head hu-” When her eyes blink open, she gasps, pressing back against Korran.
Rhoelyn: Nysse flinches in surprise. “Rhoe, you’re safe here. We even have Korran to watch over us.” She lays a hand on the priestess’ shoulder.
Araatris: Her sister blinks at her before looking around, resting the hand the healer hasn’t claimed on Korran’s shoulder. The elder introduces herself.
Rhoelyn: “The cubs call me Mama Pao. Now don’t you worry yourself, dear. Just drink up. Mind you it’s bitter, but that’s how you know it’s good for you.”
Araatris: Rhoelyn looks at Nysse uncertainly, groggy, but the huntress nods as the healer shoves a small cup of strong, aromatic tea at her. “T-thank you.”
Rhoelyn: The priestess takes the cup with trembling hands and Nysse quietly supports her hand. Healer Pao pats her leg, “You’re welcome, young lady.”
Araatris: Though she pauses after the first sip to make a face, with Nysse’s help, Rhoelyn finishes the drink before laying back against Korran’s warmth.
Rhoelyn: Mu Lin hands Nysse a blanket that she tucks around the priestess. “Rest, sister.” The elder pandaren stands. “Have them call me if she worsens.”
Araatris: Nysse bows her head. “Thank you, elder.” She gives her attention back to Rhoelyn as the priestess grimaces and shifts, reaching for her hands.
Rhoelyn: Mu Lin walks Pao to the door and murmurs softly with her as Nysse takes Rhoe’s hands. Nysse smiles gently, “Do you feel better now, sister?”
Araatris: The priestess nods and manages a weak smile, still pallid and listless. “I may need a nap after dinner. I tired myself out, it seems.”
Rhoelyn: “That’s alright. There’s nothing else we need to do tonight.” Nysse leans against the wolf. “Can you believe that Korran’s able to be this big now?”
Araatris: “You are ever more powerful, sister.” Rhoe regards her warmly, tugging the blanket tighter. “It is a comfort that he is always with you.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse gazes fondly at Korran. “I’m glad he’s here, too… for both of us.” The huntress wraps an arm around Rhoelyn and pulls her closer.
Araatris: The smaller elf cuddles against them both wearily. She nuzzles her cheek against Korran’s ghostly fur. “Tsume is so soft, but Korran is softer.”
Rhoelyn: Chuckling, Nysse teases, “You’re going to make Tsume jealous talking like that. You’ll have to give her extra treats later to make up for it.”
Araatris: Her sister yawns and mumbles, “But you always scold me for giving her extra treats.” The huntress grins and looks up at a tap at the door.
Rhoelyn: Ru Dan and Ming wait at the door with food. Nysse gestures for them to enter. “Rhoe, they brought our dinners. Do you think you can eat?”
Araatris: The priestess drowses already, her eyes closed. Nysse sighs and gently reaches out to nudge her shoulder. “Sister, try to eat before you sleep.”
Rhoelyn: Rhoelyn’s eyes flutter open, “Hmm?” The huntress takes one of the trays from the Pandaren. “Our dinner is here and it smells delicious.”
Araatris: She waits until the priestess has settled, sitting up and scrubbing at her eyes, before settling a tray on her lap. Rhoe smiles. “Thank you.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse takes her own tray and bows her head to the two pandaren. “Thank you so much for bringing our dinner.” They bow and leave the room.
Araatris: Watching to make sure Rhoelyn does more than just pick at her food, Nysse digs in to her own steaming noodle soup. Mu Lin returns quietly.
Rhoelyn: “Did you get some dinner, Mu Lin?” Nysse asks around a mouthful of noodles. He nods and kneels next to her. “Do you have a moment after you eat?”
Araatris: The huntress reaches out and runs a hand down Rhoe’s arm as she starts to nod over her food. “Once my sister finishes eating,” she says pointedly.
Rhoelyn: The serpent rider nods. “Of course. Take your time.” He settles in to wait as Nysse gently cajoles Rhoelyn to wake and eat, talking softly.
Araatris: Finally, the priestess swats her away weakly, cuddling back against Korran. “I’ve had enough, sister. Really. I am tired.” Her color is better.
Rhoelyn: Nysse sighs at the half eaten bowl, but relents. “As you wish. I may step away for a moment, but I’ll leave Korran.” She tucks Rhoe back in.
Araatris: “Mmhmm,” her sister slurs, closing her eyes. Barely two breaths later, she’s asleep. The huntress and Mu Lin get to their feet, stepping outside.
Rhoelyn: The huntress shuts the door behind them. “Is everything alright, Mu Lin? I hope Korran isn’t a problem…” The pandaren shakes his head.
Araatris: “Korran is not the problem,” Mu Lin says softly. “Nataro and Mama Pao have healed the pale elf’s injuries, but I think we all recognize the danger.”
Rhoelyn: The young night elf grimaces. “I know. I’m not sure we can place them both in the same room again. She almost killed him. If that was the test…”
Araatris: He shakes his head and shrugs. “They have told me little about their ‘tests’. We will learn more when the Master visits, I presume.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse bites her lip and sighs, “Do we have any idea what we should do or when the Master will visit? Besides keep them separate that is.”
Araatris: “Hansho says that Wu Lei, the elder and master, will return in the morning, but…” Mu Lin winces and pulls out a pair of Quaed’s silencing shackles.
Rhoelyn: Nysse shakes her head and blocks the doorway. “She’s no danger when she’s with me and unbothered by Leothir. That’s only going to distress her.”
Araatris: “I understand your hesitation, Nysse. I share it.” He sighs. “But those shadows she wields are deadly. And she no longer controls herself.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress mumbles, “I’m worried, too. I didn’t expect them.” She rubs her face. “I’ll try to work with her to put them on after she wakes up.”
Araatris: He puts a sympathetic paw on her shoulder, handing them to her. “Once you have convinced her, I will ask Hansho’s blacksmith to remove the chains.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse takes the chains. “It’s appreciated. I’d like for her to not feel like a prisoner. I’m sorry for all the trouble. You’ve been very kind.”
Araatris: He sighs. “I have seen the kind and gentle person your sister is, and I have seen how the sha forces her to be what she isn’t. I wish to help.”
Rhoelyn: “Thank you.” Nysse steps back and bows deeply. “I should go back to her. I don’t like leaving her alone right now. Do you have a place to rest?”
Araatris: “Yes. Is there anything else you need?” At the negative shake of her head, Mu Lin nods. “Very well. I will return in the morning. Rest well, Nysse.”
Rhoelyn: “You as well.” Nysse slips back into their room, shutting the door. The huntress watches her sister as she sets the manacles quietly on the table.
Rhoelyn: The borrowed serpent gently touches the ground. Nysse pats Rhoelyn’s shoulder and murmurs, “We’re here, sister. You may wish to wake and see.”