Araatris: Nysse wrings out the cloth, pressing fresh, cool water to her sister’s warm forehead. Rhoelyn grins sleepily and rests a hand over hers. “Sister…”
Rhoelyn: The huntress’ eyes shimmer. “Oh, thank Elune. You’re awake. How do you feel, Rhoe?” Nysse takes Rhoelyn’s hand and clasps it in both of hers.
Araatris: “Much better, Nysse. Please do not wear such a worried face.” The priestess reaches up and smooths her thumb along her sister’s furrowed brow.
Rhoelyn: Laughing, Nysse closes her eyes at the touch. “How could I not be? You were both unconscious when you came out. We had no idea what’d happened.”
Araatris: “Many things happened.” Rhoelyn shifts. “But most importantly, I think we have… found balance. The sha no longer infects either of us.”
Rhoelyn: The young night elf sighs and glances at the door. “I guessed. Leothir woke before you. He’s been here to apologize and ask about you.”
Araatris: The priestess blinks. “Has he?” She pats Nysse’s hand. “I’m sorry. That was probably very uncomfortable for you, sister.” The huntress grimaces.
Rhoelyn: “I don’t know what to think…” Nysse rubs her tired eyes. “And now I’m worried about what they’re going to do next. All I do is worry this trip.”
Araatris: The older elf smiles sadly. “I have apparently more knack for getting in trouble than I thought. You’ve worked so hard to help me through it all.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse’s eyes widen in shock. “No! That’s not what I meant at all!” She tugs Rhoelyn into a tight hug. “It’s me, my dear, sweet sister. Not you.”
Araatris: “I don’t understand, Nysse.” The priestess rests her head against the other elf’s shoulder. “Why is it you? You have handled everything.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress rambles, “This all happened because I wouldn’t stand up for myself. I thought it’d be okay if I ignored it, but then it got worse…”
Araatris: Rhoelyn hugs her tight. “Don’t blame yourself, Nysse. Please. It all happened the way it had to. I’m simply grateful that you are with me.”
Rhoelyn: The young elf clings to her sister, hiding her face and sniffling. After a bit, they’re interrupted by a tentative knock and a clearing of a throat.
Araatris: Rhoelyn looks up and presses a finger across her lips, cradling Nysse against her shoulder as the huntress sleeps. Leothir nods and steps lightly.
Rhoelyn: He sits carefully in the chair by the bed and whispers, “Is she okay? She was exhausted. I offered to watch you, but…” Leo shakes his head.
Araatris: The priestess soothes her hand down Nysse’s back. “She’s unharmed. Just tired. Anchoring the prison drained her, and worrying drained her more.”
Rhoelyn: Leothir smiles. “It’s good that she’s finally resting. Are you feeling well? I was concerned when you didn’t wake as quickly as I did.”
Araatris: When she just blinks at him, surprised, Leo leans forward. “What? Is something wrong?” Rhoe grins. “I haven’t seen your real smile, before.”
Rhoelyn: His cheeks redden. “I… don’t know what to say, princess.” Leothir’s smile broadens. “I like your smile. It’s gentle, especially with her.”
Araatris: Just before they both end up blushing and staring at each other, Rhoelyn deflects, muttering, “Well. I -am- a priestess. Elune’s ways are gentle.”
Rhoelyn: “I’m more familiar with the Light than Elune, but I’m grateful.” Leothir leans back in the chair. “Is there anything I can get for you? Food?”
Araatris: Moving carefully, the night elf shakes her head. “It’s kind of you to be concerned, but Nysse will wake if I eat. I hope she rests for hours.”
Rhoelyn: Leothir bows his head. “As do I. She needs it.” He silently rises from his seat. “I should leave, but may I speak with you again, princess?”
Araatris: The priestess smirks at him, tilting her head. “Hm. Your chances of doing so might be higher if you use my name instead of that silly sobriquet.”
Rhoelyn: The blood elf blinks in surprise. “I… I didn’t realize it bothered you.” He smiles nervously. “I look forward to talking to you again, Rhoelyn.”
Araatris: Rather than correct him, she just smiles softly. “Well, you must admit a kal’dorei princess is a dysfunctional idea.” Her laugh is quiet.
Rhoelyn: Leo leans closer to her ear, speaking in a hushed voice. “It was never a comment on politics, but the lovely, regal way you carry yourself.”
Araatris: The priestess blushes to the tips of her ears, her eyes wide. “Oh. I… Th-thank you for the compliment, Leothir.” She looks at him as he pulls back.
Rhoelyn: “You’re very welcome.” His gaze lingers on her lips for a long moment before he looks away. “I… I should go. Please rest well, pri-Rhoelyn.”
Araatris: Not unaware of the direction of his eyes, Rhoe’s blush only darkens despite how she calmly nods. “Thank you, Leothir. I hope you do as well.”
Rhoelyn: He grins, waves, and slips from the room. After the door closes, the huntress shifts in Rhoelyn’s arms and mumbles, “Many things happened, hmm?”
Araatris: Rhoe jumps at the sound of her voice. “N-Nysse!” she squeaks as her sister pulls back a bit. The priestess tries to hide her burning cheeks.
Rhoelyn: *Not so loud, sister.” She smiles. “While I am glad that you both are better, I’m very confused.” Nysse brushes Rhoe’s hair from her cheeks.
Araatris: The smaller night elf groans. “How… long were you awake?” Nysse clears her throat. “He likes your smile.” Rhoelyn groans a second time.
Rhoelyn: Nysse frowns. “He isn’t bothering you, is he? I mean, he seemed perfectly behaved if a little… cheesy.” She sits back and examines Rhoe.
Araatris: Try as she might, the priestess can’t manage not to blush. She looks away from Nysse’s assessment. “N-no. Leothir was only trying to be kind.”
Rhoelyn: “Then why do you look so… flustered? He didn’t do anything in the prison before you were cured, did he?” Nysse looks horrified at the idea.
Araatris: Rhoelyn quickly meets her gaze and shakes her head. “No, sister. No. He didn’t harm me. In fact, he saved me. He protected me.” She grins.
Rhoelyn: The huntress looks back at the door and then back at Rhoelyn. “So… how do you feel about him after that? You seem… happy about his visit.”
Araatris: Her sister is taken aback by the question, and she glances at the door as well. “I… suppose it is just pleasant not to be at each other’s throats.”
Rhoelyn: “I’m glad you’re happy.” Nysse hugs Rhoelyn again and lays her head down. “But forgive me, sister. I don’t think I understand. Is he… safe?”
Araatris: Smoothing Nysse’s hair, she nods. “He regrets his behavior very much. He may have been premature with his apology, but I believe he meant it.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress sighs deeply, “I’m familiar with people acting strange under the influence of things like the orbs, but it’s still hard.”
Rhoelyn: “But I trust you, Rhoe. If you say that he’s safe, I believe you. I’ll try not to judge him to harshly.” Nysse’s voice rumbles sleepily.
Araatris: “Soon enough, we are likely to never see him again. Do not fret, sister.” She kisses Nysse’s temple. “Ah!… Here. I think it’s time I return this.”
Rhoelyn: Rhoelyn slips the huntress’ necklace off and shifts enough that she can slide it over Nysse’s head. “It kept me safe, Nysse. Thank you.”
Araatris: The younger night elf smiles, pressing her hand over the leather pendant. “Thanks for taking care of it, Rhoe.” She hugs her tight, again.
Rhoelyn: Nysse blushes as she yawns, “Would you mind if we get some more rest? I really am tired.” The huntress looks at Rhoe hopefully. “Please?”
Araatris: Her sister chuckles softly. “Of course we can.” She shifts over, making room on the small bed. “I’m tired as well. I’d like it if we could nap.”
Rhoelyn: “Thank you so much, Rhoelyn…” Nysse and Rhoelyn curl up on the bed, clasping hands. It’s not long before both of them slip off to rest.
Araatris: A couple of hallways away, Quaed sighs. “‘Taro, you’d better keep your voice down.” He frowns across the table. “Now you’ve done it, Leo.”
Rhoelyn: The blood elf sighs and runs a hand through his hair. “I’m just saying that maybe there’s another way. I don’t like our current plan.”
Araatris: The Tauren at the end of the table clenches a fist. “We are three weeks off-schedule because of you, Leothir. Now is not the time for this!”
Rhoelyn: “Then another few days to look at the plan won’t hurt.” Leothir crosses his arms. “And Quaed’s right. Your yelling is going to draw attention.”
Araatris: Surging to his hooves, Nataro reaches across and grabs Leothir by his stylish lapels, dragging him close. “Then I will speak softly,” he growls.
Rhoelyn: “We will go through with the plan when they head to Tian Monastery. You will do your part. Do you understand?” Nataro shoves Leo away.
Araatris: The mage stumbles his feet under himself, tugging his tunic back in place. He frowns at his teammate. “I understand. But I’m not doing it.”
Rhoelyn: Quaed rasps, “You’re going to have to have a good reason for this. You know how much this has cost us. Who or what changed your mind?”
Araatris: Bracing himself, Leo refolds his arms across his chest. “She changed my mind. Rhoelyn did. She doesn’t deserve to be involved in any of this.”
Rhoelyn: The undead rogue snorts, “So, the pretty face changed your mind. What about Relare? Are you just going to forget about him after what happened?”
Araatris: The mage growls. “I will never forget my brother or the way he died, Quaed.” Nataro interjects, “But you would throw away our vengeance!”
Rhoelyn: “I’m not throwing it away. I just want to try a different way. Are we any better than Garrosh if we sacrifice someone for our cause?” Leo snaps.
Araatris: “What is one life? My people face the threat of extinction if the Horde collapses! As do yours!” The shaman barely keeps his voice below a roar.
Rhoelyn: Leothir looks away. “I can’t do it. They have families, Nataro. We’re not giving them a choice that we had. We can ask someone else for help.”
Araatris: Nataro clenches and unclenches his fists as he stares at his friend, nostrils flared. At great length, he bites out, “We asked for help. None came.”
Rhoelyn: The mage sighs, “My answer still holds. It was different then. Please don’t push this, Nataro.” He turns away, but Quaed catches his arm.
Araatris: “Ain’t done, Leo,” the rogue growls. “There’s too much in this for you to pull out, skirt or not. I understand the temptation. Rhoe’s a good one.”
Rhoelyn: The blood elf blushes. “It’s not like that. Oh Light, I wish it were, but she saved my life in there. I’m not going to toss her to the wolves.”
Araatris: “Listen, I ow-” “Quaed,” Nataro interrupts, gritting his teeth. “Just let him go. I don’t wish to look at him, any more.” Frowning, he does.
Rhoelyn: Leothir sighs, “Nataro, I’m not saying I don’t want to help. We just need t-” “Get out!” The tauren snarls. The mage nods grimly. “As you wish.”
Araatris: For long minutes after he goes, the room is silent as the shaman stands by the window, scowl fixed firmly in place as he stares out at the snow.
Rhoelyn: Quaed sits back down. “You know we can’t do it without him. He just needs a moment to get over his current skirt. We knew he was interested.”
Araatris: Nataro growls and finally turns to Quaed. “I am done with waiting for Leothir to get back on-mission. We will compel him, instead.”
Rhoelyn: “Leothir will be a mindless dummy if we do that. He’ll follow orders, nothing else. Are you sure?” Quaed frowns and plucks a pouch from his side.
Araatris: The Tauren shakes his head. “No. The lahni. And the drug is not for Leothir.” He clenches his beefy fists. The rogue blinks. “‘Taro, it’s cruel.”
Rhoelyn: Nataro frowns. “It has been made necessary thanks to Leothir. Do you still have it?” Quaed slowly nods. “I do. When do you want me to drug her?”
Araatris: “It must be as they leave,” the shaman orders, folding his arms across his broad chest. “We cannot afford to wait.” The undead sighs and nods, looking unhappy.
Rhoelyn: Outside, Leothir sits in the cold and rubs his face. “Ugh!” He mutters to himself, “Am I being unreasonable? It’s not just because she’s gorgeous.”
Araatris: He rests his head in his hands, sighing. “I could really use one of our chats, Relare,” he mumbles. “You know, where you put things in perspective.”
Rhoelyn: “It is never good when one sits in the cold looking glum.” The Pandaren offers, “Perhaps you’d rather talk to me than your hands, yes?”
Araatris: The sin’dorei looks up at the voice, surprised to see Mu Lin looking down at him from atop a nearby post. The serpent rider watches him kindly.
Rhoelyn: Leothir grimaces. “I’m not sure how much you can help me, Mu Lin. I thought curing the sha would fix everything, but instead I feel lost.”
Araatris: “Mmmm…” Mu Lin peers out over the snow. “And why do you feel lost?” The mage winces, following the other’s gaze out to the slopes of the mountain.
Rhoelyn: The blood elf stares for a long minute before responding. “I’ve changed. Now I find myself at conflict with my friends because I no longer agree.”
Araatris: “Spending time in a prison made for a Celestial being would be eye-opening,” the Pandaren chuckles. “Perhaps you learned something they have not.”
Rhoelyn: He groans, “The only thing I’ve learned is that sh-” He stops suddenly, blushing and looking away. “That I don’t want to become what I hate.”
Araatris: Mu Lin turns his head and examines the mage. “What is it that you hate, Leothir?” The other man clenches a fist, frowning.
Rhoelyn: Leo looks at his hands. “I hate watching the Horde destroy itself from the inside out for the sake of one person. I hate the world he’s creating.”
Araatris: The Pandaren nods. “I have heard some of the politics of your Horde. Its leader is known to be… uninclusive despite your many allied peoples.”
Rhoelyn: “While I appreciate your sensitivity, he’s a maniac that has murdered people including my little brother to reach his goals.” Leo smiles grimly.
Araatris: “I am sorry for your loss, Leothir.” He bows his head for a moment before looking out. “Why would you fear becoming like Garrosh Hellscream?”
Rhoelyn: Leothir frowns thoughtfully. “Let me ask a question first. If one life could save hundreds, would it be worth it? Even if it was unwilling?”
Araatris: “Hm…” Mu Lin strokes his chin, thoughtful. “It is a difficult question. To force an unwilling sacrifice requires being willing to bear a murder.”
Rhoelyn: The blood elf nods. “And therein lies the crux of my problem. I don’t want to create the same pain I felt losing my brother for someone else…”
Araatris: Nodding understandingly, the Pandaren looks at him. “And yet you also think of the ‘hundreds of lives’…” Leo nods, letting his head droop.
Rhoelyn: “But I still can’t do it. I want to find another way.” His voice drops to a mumble, “I can’t let her go…” Leo buries his face in his hands again.
Araatris: Mu Lin quirks a brow, slanting a knowing look at Leo. “Ah,” he says. “I see, now. You are torn between your new dedication and your old.”
Rhoelyn: Leothir looks up quickly, blushing to the tips of his ears. “I… she… it’s not like that. I mean, it can’t be like that.” He looks away.
Araatris: “Oh? Then perhaps I misunderstand.” The amused twist of the serpent rider’s lips suggests he doesn’t quite believe that. “What is it… like?”
Rhoelyn: The mage shakes his head and grins. “I don’t know. I shouldn’t feel anything, but I’d love nothing more than to take her away from all this.”
Araatris: Mu Lin leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “She is, I think, a golden bloom.” At Leo’s puzzled look, he tries to explain.
Rhoelyn: “There is a story of a man traveling with his friends. One day he sees a golden bloom at the top of a cliff. He says, ‘I wish to climb and see it.’”
Rhoelyn: “His friends argued that they should continue on, but he started climbing the wall. Their shouts followed him, yet this flower drew him like no other.”
Araatris: “After some time, the brave man reached the top of the cliff. His friends, far below, now, begged him to pluck the bloom and return to them.”
Rhoelyn: “But it was too beautiful. He replied, ‘But if I pluck the bloom, it will die. Please let me stay here a bit longer.’ Night was approaching now.”
Araatris: “The man’s friends called all the louder, to which he answered, ‘You cannot understand from so far away. Climb up here with me and see.’”
Rhoelyn: “The friends refused and said that if he wouldn’t join them that they would head on to the village. They tried one last time to convince him.”
Araatris: “‘Just bring the bloom,’ they cajoled. ‘Its radiance will bring joy to those who suffer.’ He knew this to be true. But the cost hurt his heart.”
Rhoelyn: “Finally, he shook his head once more. ‘I cannot,’ he lamented, ‘It must be allowed to blossom in its home. Leave me and I’ll join you soon.’”
Araatris: Leo grimaces slightly as Mu Lin draws breath to continue his story. “Soon enough, night fell and the cold winds blew down from the mountain.”
Rhoelyn: “Despite his best efforts, he could not keep the blossom warm. The flower curled into itself and dropped a glowing seed into his hands.”
Araatris: “The man stared in awe at the gift, knowing how much he’d have regretted it had he plucked the bloom while it still had so much more to give.”
Rhoelyn: The mage tilts his head as the Pandaren falls silent. “So, she’s my golden bloom… While a nice story. I’m not sure it helps, Mu Lin.”
Araatris: Chuckling, the Pandaren looks down at him. “Do you wish to know what the man did with that seed?” Leo rolls his eyes. “I suppose I do.”
Rhoelyn: Mu Lin gestures broadly, “He took the seed with him. When he met up with his friends, the man explained that he wished to make his home there.”
Araatris: “He planted that seed at the heart of the village and built a shrine to protect it from the winter winds yet nurture it with sun and rain.”
Rhoelyn: Leothir raises both eyebrows. “I feel like there was a point to this story that I somehow lost. How does this apply to me again?”
Araatris: His amusement growing, Mu Lin grumbles, “You sound like me as a cub. My grandfather loves ‘story lessons’.” The sin’dorei smirks. Mu Lin explains.
Araatris: “In saving her, we save all the future good she could do. Rather than bring one to the village, he brought them an eternity of golden blossoms.”
Rhoelyn: “The good she could do in the future could outway the immediate benefit. It sounds pretty, but there’s no way to prove that,” Leo sighs.
Araatris: “That is true,” the serpent rider says on a grunt, hopping off the post. “However, some things we take on faith. As the priestess will tell you.”
Rhoelyn: “Faith…” Leo mumbles as Mu Lin steps away, leaving the mage to himself. He clenches his fists as he stands and turns towards the building.
Araatris: Nysse wrings out the cloth, pressing fresh, cool water to her sister’s warm forehead. Rhoelyn grins sleepily and rests a hand over hers. “Sister…”