Araatris: Aron Wrune points a finger covered in golden plate toward the horizon, guiding his charger with his knees. “See? That rise over there is perfect.”
Rhoelyn: Rhese looks over at the rise. “It seems rather unprotected if you ask me. I understand having the high ground, but I’m not sure I like it.”
Araatris: The human grins through his little black beard. “Maybe because you’re not seeing it with the pikes and arcane shield arrays, like I am.”
Rhoelyn: The false blood elf chuckles. “No, I’m really not. I tend to look for things that are defensible before adding the bells and whistles.”
Araatris: Wrune smiles and claps him on the shoulder. “We’re in the middle of a war. That’s a luxury, Rhese, not a necessity. But you let me know if (c)
Araatris: (c) you spot anything more promising.” The paladin crinkles his nose. “I do worry about those damnable Sunbane glaive throwers with that location.”
Rhoelyn: Leo shakes his head and grins broadly. “You have nothing to worry about. I even brought shielding crystals in case we decide to set one up.”
Araatris: The paladin nods. “Excellent. Then we’ve got a Plan A if we need it. Thank you, Leothir.” Leo smirks. “Ah, aren’t I just the reliable type?”
Rhoelyn: Nyssera leans to look at Wrune from Rhese’s arms. “Why do you call them the Sunbane?” Rhese tightens his grip to keep her from falling.
Araatris: He answers, “Since the conflict began between your people and the Sunstrider prince and grew from there, the early factions used that name.”
Rhoelyn: She frowns. “No offense, but isn’t that a little on the nose? We were the bane of the Sunstrider?” Rhese growls, “Nyssera…” She ducks her head.
Araatris: Leothir smirks. “Well, Rhese, you do have to admit it’s an appropriate name. They’ve been the bane of Prince Kael’thas on numerous occasions.”
Rhoelyn: The druid reluctantly agrees, “Yes, but I’d prefer if she didn’t say it so casually. My wildling sometimes forgets that she’s no longer with them.”
Araatris: Under his frown, she mumbles, “Y-yes, Rhese.” In the ensuing awkward silence, Leo declares, “At least you’re safe with us, now, Nyssera.”
Rhoelyn: Nyssera twists and looks up at Rhese while speaking to Leothir, blushing. “Yes, my master keeps me safe.” Then speaks to Rhese. “Thank you.”
Araatris: The disguised druid grins weakly, “You’re welcome, my dear. Just think! Someday, your children may be civilized enough to rejoin elven society.”
Rhoelyn: “C-children?!” There’s no acting in the young elf’s shocked, wide-eyed expression. “But I can’t have children!” She pales at the thought.
Araatris: Leothir blinks. “Why would you say that? Didn’t h-” “Hush, Leo.” Rhese interrupts. The human in the group looks very uncomfortable and winces.
Rhoelyn: The huntress blushes and grips the edge of the wolf’s saddle. “I’m sorry, Rhese. I never thought about children, but you’re r-right. Of c-course.”
Araatris: With a grin, mouthy Leothir continues, “Yes, the next generation may be partly half-bloods, but at least they’ll grow up properly civilized.”
Araatris: Only Nysse gets to feel the iron-banded tension that fills her “master” as Leo speaks and see the way he clenches his teeth under his smile.
Rhoelyn: She lays her hands over Rhese’s on the reins and manages to offer Leo a tiny smile as she changes the topic. “How much further is it?”
Araatris: “Oh,” the mage ponders the terrain for a moment, successfully distracted. “I believe we have about an hour more. Bahr’s camp is over that rise.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse sighs and leans back against Rhese. “Will we be able to rest and eat there?” The night elf can’t help but look hopeful causing Wrune to grin.
Araatris: “I would imagine we can get a few minutes before we get to work,” Leo chuckles. He glances at Rhese. “Don’t you ever feed your girl, Riverwind?”
Rhoelyn: Rhese looks down at the huntress in amusement. “Constantly, though you’d never know it. She’s the reason that I suggested extra supplies.”
Araatris: Nysse blushes despite her grin. Her “master” says, “When she’s been properly domesticated, I may have to watch for her to keep her figure.”
Rhoelyn: Wrune laughs. “I’m not sure you’ll have to worry. She has energy to spare. Maybe you can find an active hobby. Hawkstrider racing perhaps.”
Araatris: “Wolf racing?” Nysse blurts it out. Under their amused looks, she ducks her head, leaning back against Rhese. He sighs with a smirk.
Rhoelyn: He squeezes her waist. “Perhaps. I’ll see what we can do if you behave yourself.” Leothir chuckles. “Do you have enough room on your estate?”
Araatris: The disguised druid smirks. “Well. When I restore the family to its rightful glory, I suppose I’ll have to see that it does. For this one.”
Rhoelyn: Leothir teases, “You’re going to spoil her talking like that. Though, you must be smitten with her excitement.” He pats Rhese’s shoulder.
Araatris: The druid grins and squeezes her waist. “I do like how passionate my girl can get.” When Leo and Wrune both chuckle, Nysse’s eyes narrow warily.
Rhoelyn: When she shifts to get “comfortable” an elbow finds its way to his ribcage. “Omph!” He rubs his side, frowning. She stares up. “I’m sorry, Rhese!”
Araatris: “Do be careful, my dear,” he mumbles. And then he pinches her waist even as he looks out. “Ah. Is that the camp over there?” Wrune nods.
Rhoelyn: Nyssera jumps. “Ah!” When the others glance back, she blushes. “I’m excited to eat…” Wrune shakes his head, grinning. “We’ll eat soon enough.”
Araatris: The quartet rides around the bluff and finds a small but bustling camp of a dozen or so people. Crates of equipment are scattered around.
Rhoelyn: Wrune takes the lead, hopping off his horse and waving. “Greetings!” The others follow suit dismounting and Nysse purposefully stands behind Rhese.
Araatris: A pair glance up and detach themselves from the others, stepping out to meet them. The woman gives Wrune a jaunty and modestly irreverent salute.
Rhoelyn: “Did you miss me that much, Wrune?” Wrune sighs, “Hello, Kaerryn.” She glances at Rhese. “Oh! We have fresh meat and…” Kaerryn peers around Rhese.
Araatris: The joviality in the chestnut-haired warrior drains away, and she sneers at Nysse. “What is that doing here?” Leo sighs. “Not this, again, Kaer.”
Rhoelyn: The warrior crosses her arms. “Yes, this again. We’re fighting a war. They’re not pets. You’re asking to wake up with a dagger in your side.”
Araatris: Rhese frowns at the woman, resting his palms on his daggers as he stares at her and speaks to the others. “Who’s this ray of sunshine?”
Rhoelyn: The paladin pinches his nose. “Rhese Riverwind, please meet Kaerryn Smythe. Kaerryn, Rhese is our newest consultant.” Kaerryn frowns. “And her?”
Araatris: The false sin’dorei draws Nysse out from behind him by her arm. “This is Nyssera. She’s under my protection.” The huntress keeps her eyes downcast.
Rhoelyn: Kaerryn scoffs, “Your protection? You brought the creature sharing your bed to the frontlines. You’re either an idiot or helping the Sunbane.”
Araatris: Rhese scowls and starts to respond, but the dwarf who came with her pats her arm. “Awlright, now,” he rolls in his thick brogue, “tha’ll do, lass.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse grips the back of Rhese’s armor. “I’m Bahr. Welcome to the team. I know Rel and Leo, so if they’re vouchin’…” Bahr’s gaze settles on Leo.
Araatris: The mage smiles. “Yes. I can vouch for our new friend. He’s already taken care of one of the thorns in Relare’s side.” He claps Rhese’s shoulder.
Rhoelyn: “Ah! The draenei that were snoopin’ around where they shouldna. I heard that some’un chased dem off.” He grins and holds out his hand. “Good work!”
Araatris: Rhese smiles and takes the stocky man’s strong hand. “It was my pleasure, I assure you.” Bahr looks him over. “So, yer a han’ with th’blades, hm?”
Rhoelyn: Nysse shrinks under Kaerryn’s continued glare even as Rhese nods. “Very handy. I hope that I can be of use to you.” The huntress’ stomach growls.
Araatris: Wrune chuckles as Rhese shoots her a look. Nysse blushes. “Bahr, it’s been a long ride,” the human says. “Can we go raid your larder, so to speak?”
Rhoelyn: Bahr chortles at Nysse. “That’s a lass afta’ me own heart! ‘Course we feed ya! Kaerryn, go take care o’ business while I show’m ‘round.”
Araatris: The warrior “tsk”s rudely. “Fine, shortround. If you need me, don’t call.” Bahr rolls his eyes as she stomps off, barking orders at some worker.
Rhoelyn: He gestures for them to follow him. Leothir chatting along the way. “I must admit that I was surprised. I was sure that you had this handled.”
Araatris: The dwarf shrugs. “Aye, well. We didna expect th’ proximity to th’spirit field ta cause so much interference. An’ then there’s th’hauntin’s.”
Rhoelyn: Wrune frowns. “Hauntings? What hauntings?” Bahr snorts, “Jus’ th’ usual. Sounds, things movin’, but it’s scarin’ the troop. Not good fer morale.”
Araatris: “Huh.” The paladin scratches his goatee. “I thought your crew were made from sterner stuff, Bahr.” He brushes his way through the tent entrance.
Rhoelyn: “Donna be judgin’ ‘til you experience it, lad.” The dwarf grumbles as he gestures to the pot and soldier manning it. “I hope ya be likin’ stew.”
Araatris: Though Leo makes a face, Nysse makes the opposite one, sniffing the air hungrily. “Go on, my dear. You may fetch us some luncheon,” says Rhese.
Rhoelyn: She grins broadly and runs to the soldier asking softly for two bowls. When she returns, she offers one to Rhese and then the second to Leo.
Araatris: The two sin’dorei take them with polite nods, letting her run off once more. Wrune takes a bowl, but Bahr politely refuses the one she offers him.
Rhoelyn: The dwarf guides them to the mess tables and they settle down. Nysse digs into her food quickly until Rhese frowns at her sternly. “Nyssera.”
Araatris: She gulps before quietly muttering, “Yes, Rhese.” Despite the way her stomach eats at her, she forces herself to take small, slow bites.
Rhoelyn: Rhese smiles and pats her head. “That’s better.” He returns to his food. “Have the hauntings done anything physically to stop your progress?”
Araatris: “Alas, aye.” Bahr frowns, setting down mugs of ale for each of them before he plops down with his own. “We’ve ‘ad broken equipment ‘ere ‘n’ there.”
Rhoelyn: Leothir drinks from his mug. “And we’ve ruled out the possibility of a saboteur?” Bahr strokes his beard. “Aye. No one has found anyone.”
Araatris: Resting an unthinking hand on Nysse’s knee under the table, Rhese leans against the wood and looks over at Wrune. “This sounds like your game.”
Rhoelyn: Wrune murmurs agreement. “I’ll check around this afternoon. Rhese, why don’t you get some rest and plan to guard the gear tonight.”
Araatris: The druid nods. “I can do that. If something does come after the gear, I’ll get rid of it.” Leo pipes up. “Bahr, may I help with the work?”
Rhoelyn: “‘Course. I’m sure there’s a few things I can fin’ fer ya.” Bahr tosses his ale back. Nysse peers at Rhese whispering, “May I have another bowl?”
Araatris: He gives her a simple nod, and while she gets up to request more, he looks at Bahr and Leo. “Perhaps there’s a way for Nyssera to be useful?”
Rhoelyn: The dwarf strokes his beard thoughtfully. “Is she fast? She can run supplies ta th’ scouts and patrols. Would ya trust her fer that?”
Araatris: As Nysse settles back down with her bowl, she finds Rhese watching her. “Rhese…?” He rumbles, “Tell them why you’d never run away, my dear.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress pales and shudders. Nyssera drops her gaze, answering hoarsely, “He… he made sure that I felt pain for every hour I was gone.”
Araatris: Judging by Wrune’s expression and Bahr’s cough, there’s only one person in the tent who’s oblivious to – or chooses to ignore – the cruelty in that.
Rhoelyn: Nysse shifts nervously and mumbles, “I’m… I’m happier with Rhese. He treats me well and keeps me safe.” She forces a smile and begins eating.
Araatris: “You see?” He smiles and rests a hand on her shoulder. “My girl understands. She can be trusted, and I’m sure she’d love the chance to run.”
Rhoelyn: She nods meekly. “You are kind.” Bahr clears his throat. “I’ll take ya to the supply master. You’ll run supplies ‘til the evenin’ meal, lass.”
Araatris: The huntress nods simply and turns her attention back to her meal. They finish their food and drink in relative silence until the dwarf gets up.
Rhoelyn: Nysse jumps up, taking their dishes to be cleaned and jogs back to the dwarf. Rhese asks as everyone stands, “Where should I set up our tent?”
Araatris: “Ye’ll have t’deal wi’ Kaerryn on tha’, lad.” Bahr says. “She’s in charge’o th’ camp.” Wrune winces. “I’ll bet she loves dealing with spirits.”
Rhoelyn: Rhese nods. Bahr snorts, “Aye. She’s delighted. Com’on, lass.” They leave, but Rhese catches Wrune quietly. “Do I need to worry about Kaerryn?”
Araatris: The human considers that quite seriously for a moment, looking through the tent flap at the camp. “Yes. You might. She’s holding a big grudge.”
Rhoelyn: Frowning, Rhese asks, “Because of the Sunbane?” Wrune inclines his head. “It’s really not my place to say more.” “I appreciate the bluntness.”
Araatris: The disguised druid watches Nysse walking away with the dwarf and Leothir. “I think we’d better have a chat, she and I. Good luck, Wrune.”
Rhoelyn: The paladin nods. “Thanks. You as well.” Rhese follows Aron out of the tent and splits off to find Kaerryn. He spots her outside a small tent.
Araatris: Despite her obvious disdain at his hail, the warrior waits with folded arms as he approaches, her plated boot tapping on the ground. “What?”
Rhoelyn: The false sin’dorei gets to the point, “Where do I set up our tent?” Kaerryn snaps, “Don’t care as long as it’s outside of camp. She’s a risk.”
Araatris: With a sigh, he faces off with her, placing his hands on his hips. “No. Inside the camp. What’s your problem with my slave? She’s under control.”
Rhoelyn: The warrior narrows her eyes. “Under control? They’re savages. You can’t tame them like some dog. They’re just waiting for the right moment.”
Araatris: He frowns. “My girl isn’t like that. I’ve bound her to me. You’re just being paranoid, and I’m not going tiptoe around your needless worry.”
Rhoelyn: “Paranoid?! Needless worry?!” Kaerryn snarls. “How dare you, prissy boy! It is my job to keep this camp safe and I’m not letting the enemy in!”
Araatris: “Nyssera is not my enemy,” he growls in response. “She is my slave, properly cowed and humbled. Whatever your issue is, it isn’t with her.”
Rhoelyn: Kaerryn reaches out and yanks him forward by his cuirass. “They are never properly cowed. I’m trying to keep us all alive and you’re not helping.”
Araatris: The disguised druid snaps his hands up and breaks her grip, growling. “Just tell me where the tent goes, Kaerryn. And leave my girl alone.”
Rhoelyn: The warrior clenches her fists before pointing to the east. “Far edge of camp. If I see that thing of yours step out of line… I’ll deal with it.”
Araatris: Rhese glares at her. “And if you touch my girl, Smythe, I’ll deal with you. Just so we’re clear.” He leaves her to growl as he stalks away.
Rhoelyn: The druid grabs the gear from the wolf and sets up the tent, grumbling to himself. Hours later he’s awoken by Nysse, “Rhese, may I come in?”
Araatris: Yawning, he shifts his form and shuffles to the tent flap in his breeches. “Yes,” he rolls the word lazily as he pulls back the greyish fabric.
Rhoelyn: Nysse, carrying two bowls, immediately casts her eyes down and blushes. She slips by him and into the tent. “Are you h-hungry?” Rhese smirks.
Araatris: “Yes,” he says again, having pity on her and snagging his tunic off the corner of the cot. His voice is muffled as he tugs it on. “How’d it go?”
Rhoelyn: Nysse sighs, “They kept me running. I didn’t have a chance to rest before being pushed to the next run. I’m worn out.” She flops on the cot.
Araatris: Rhese takes his bowl from her. “Well, you got to stretch your legs, finally.” He pauses to blow on his food. “Did you learn anything interesting?”
Rhoelyn: “You mean beyond the comments they usually make?” She lays her head back and stretches. “They are spooked. They call them vengeful spirits.”
Araatris: The druid frowns, pausing over his next mouthful. “Vengeful spirits,” he repeats thoughtfully. “I wish I better understood what this operation was.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse leans halfway off the cot to grab her bowl. “Draenei spirits can be volatile if they don’t die in peace. I think they’re blocking the way.”
Araatris: “So this…” he pauses to stop talking with his mouth full. “This thing they’re building has something to do with suppressing the spirits as well?”
Rhoelyn: She bites her lip. “I think it’ll help, but… it’s protected by the same spirits they want to suppress.” Nysse drops a bit of stew down her shirt.
Araatris: Rhese watches with widened eyes as she fishes the food off her skin with a finger and sucks it clean. “…Rhese?” He coughs. “I-I didn’t hear you.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress frowns. “Which part didn’t you- Nevermind.” She repeats her explanation and finishes dinner. “Does that make more sense?”
Araatris: “A bit.” He brings his empty bowl over to hers and sits closer to her, lowering his voice. “So how do we stop them? Sabotage this … array thing?”
Rhoelyn: Nysse tugs her hair over the shoulder opposite to him and sighs, “I… don’t know. Take the relic before they do? Help the spirits run them off?”
Araatris: An avaricious light enters his eyes. “You know what Morthis would say. We get that relic and use it against them.” Rhese leans back on his elbows.
Rhoelyn: The huntress twists around, leaning close so he can hear. “Not yet. We need to build up a little more trust first before we can stray that far.”
Araatris: He sighs and flops his head back. “Fine. We’ll be a step closer after I protect the gear, tonight.” After a pause, he says, “That Smythe woman…”
Rhoelyn: Her breath tickles his ear. “That’s the woman that hated me, isn’t it? They made sure that I was never sent to her.” She frowns worriedly.
Araatris: The disguised druid tenses, shivering lightly. “Good. Good. Be careful to stay away from her. She hates what you are, and that’s dangerous.”
Rhoelyn: “I will. I’ll stay alert. She makes me very nervous.” Nysse lets out a long sigh. “Do you think it’s safe to take off my collar and chain here?”
Araatris: “Mmhm,” he says simply, slipping his elbows down to lay back fully. With another yawn, Rhese stretches sideways across the cot. “Just for a bit.”
Rhoelyn: “Are you still tired?” she asks as she straightens. Nysse unhooks the chain and sets in her lap. “I know I am.” She reaches up to the collar.
Araatris: The druid shakes his head, conveniently folding his arm over his eyes. “I think I’m just still drowsy from waking up and from food.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress sets them to the side. “Laying down won’t help that.” She leans over him, her gaze lingering on his lips for a few moments too long.
Araatris: She feels his sigh on her cheek. “No. I should get myself up and moving. Maybe I c-” When he shifts his arm and opens his eyes, he stops.
Rhoelyn: Nysse’s eyes flicker up to meet his and she flushes brightly. “I-i… umm… m-maybe you could do what?” It takes her a moment remember to move.
Araatris: The druid grins warmly, his form reverting as he looks up at her. “I’ve forgotten entirely what I was going to say, I’m afraid. Maybe I can…?”
Rhoelyn: The female night elf’s eyes drift over his features and silver hair. “Would you… would you ki… ki…” She trails off lamely. “Nevermind.”
Araatris: His grin turns amused. “Would I… kick you? Certainly not. That would be uncouth.” As he chuckles, he places a hand at the small of her back.
Rhoelyn: Frowning, Nysse replies, “Why would I ask you to kick me?” The druid feigns surprise, “Oh? What else could it be, lovely?” “N-nothing?”
Araatris: “Definitely something.” With an overly ponderous expression, he says, “Ki… Kill?” He smirks and rests his other palm against the side of her neck.
Rhoelyn: Nysse mumbles. Rhese raises an eyebrow. “You need to speak up. I don’t speak mumble,” he teases. Nysse closes her eyes and squeaks, “K-kiss!”
Araatris: The druid smiles and tugs at the nape of her neck, pulling her head down so she feels his breath when he speaks. “Ah, that. I could be convinced.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress grumbles and peeks her eyes open just enough to duck her head and press her lips against his, slipping her hands in his hair.
Araatris: His arm around her waist tugs her tight against him as they share a kiss that is far less than shy. It’s a long time before they part, breathless.
Rhoelyn: She rests her head against his shoulder. “I’m keeping… you… from working.” Nysse doesn’t seem inclined to move. “This is so embarrassing…”
Araatris: Rhese’s hand rubs lazy circles over her back, and he brushes her cheek with his knuckles. “I have a few more minutes, lovely. Why embarrassed?”
Rhoelyn: “I don’t do this. I don’t want these things.” She shudders under his touch and whispers, “But Elune help me, I do. I don’t want to let go.”
Araatris: “You spent a long time alone, trying to pretend you were a wolf or a wild thing,” he says softly. “Maybe it feels good to not be alone.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse hides her face against him, trying to find her calm. She mumbles, “I don’t know. You… make me crazy.” Yet, her hands firmly grip his shirt.
Araatris: Rhese presses a kiss against her cheek, smoothing a hand down her hair. “We can be crazy together, then. Because this is all that feels real.”
Rhoelyn: She raises up, staring longingly. “Maybe it’s for the best that you’re going to be busy tonight…” The huntress finally starts to pull away.
Araatris: When he follows her, demanding, she lets him steal just one more kiss. “Hey, Rhe- Ah! Oops!” They both startle, his form shifting instantly.
Rhoelyn: Nysse blushes and squeaks, rolling to the side as Rhese sits up. He pins her to his side and smirks. “You can come in. We’re decent, Leothir.”
Araatris: The mage pushes through the tent flap, his cheeks residually pinkened. “Sorry, there. I nearly forgot to knock.” He chuckles and scratches his head.
Rhoelyn: “I’d definitely appreciate it. Is it time to go guard the gear?” Rhese asks as he releases the nervous huntress. “Nyssera, can you get my belt?”
Araatris: “Yes, Rhese,” she says, scrambling off the cot. Following Leo’s slightly widened gaze to her neck, the druid adds, “Then you will finish dressing.”
Rhoelyn: “Y-yes, Rhese,” she repeats. Nysse passes the belt to the disguised night elf and quickly turns away from them to put on her collar and chain.
Araatris: Rhese turns to Leo, grabbing his cuirass and dragging it on. “Nyssera already brought dinner.” The mage smirks. “And dessert, apparently.”
Rhoelyn: She straightens herself and turns to stand demurely. Rhese laughs. “That’s one way to say it.” He buckles his armor. “She’s definitely a treat.”
Araatris: Blushing, Nysse picks up Rhese’s daggers and steps forward. She hands them to him and sets about lacing the ties on the side of his gear.
Rhoelyn: Leothir chuckles, “You’re making me wish I had my flower with me, but, alas, I must drag you to work. Does she need anything before we go?”
Araatris: Nysse waits for Rhese’s questioning look before she answers him directly, casting her eyes down. “I’m fine, thank you. I’ll just sleep, soon.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress ties off the last lace on his armor and steps back in front of the cot. Rhese nods and gestures for Leo to proceed him. “Let’s go.”
Araatris: Though Nysse bites her lip, she can’t help but blurt out, “Please be careful.” Rhese glances back at her with a warm smile, ignoring Leo’s chuckle.
Rhoelyn: “I will, Nyssera. Just keep that cot warm and ready for me in the morning.” The blood elves push out of the tent without any further delay.
Araatris: Aron Wrune points a finger covered in golden plate toward the horizon, guiding his charger with his knees. “See? That rise over there is perfect.”