Araatris: Nysse soothes Vorok with a hand on his neck as they settle on the far side of the crackling, yawning portal, Rhese at her shoulder. He looks grim.
Rhoelyn: Leothir exits the portal a moment later leading his hawkstrider. “Come along you tw– You look a little green. It’s not my portal, is it?”
Araatris: The disguised druid glances back at him with a smirk. “Of course not. As you boasted, it was an exceptionally smooth experience. The smell.”
Rhoelyn: “Ugh! Isn’t it terrible? I grew up around stables, but this… “ Leothir shakes his head. “No sense dwelling on it. Let me introduce you around.”
Araatris: Rhese nods and dismisses Nysse and the wolf with an imperious wave in the general direction of the stables. “Please do, Leothir.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress and the wolf jog toward the stable. Leo smirks, “Of course.” He guides Rhese to a larger building and waves at a guard. “Rannick!”
Araatris: The man waves back, his features hidden under a sturdy helmet. “Good to see ya back, son. Are ya here for your brother?” Leo nods. “Is he here?”
Rhoelyn: Rannick chuckles. “Where else would he be? I don’t think they’re in any meetings yet if you want to see him. He was upstairs I believe.”
Araatris: “Ah, great!” Leo grins and gestures. “This fine fellow is Rhese. He’s looking for a job. Rhese, Rannick. He’s been in the Duskfall unit forever.”
Rhoelyn: Rhese grins and inclines his head. “It’s a pleasure. I’m glad that Leothir has men like you watching out for him.” He holds his hand out.
Araatris: The other man grasps his hand strongly, smiling. “Of course. Nice meeting you.” Leo beckons. “Let’s go up. You’ll want to meet Relare.”
Rhoelyn: They head in and up the stairs. “I didn’t realize that it was your brother here, Leothir. Is this the same brother that bred your bird?”
Araatris: The blood elf smirks as they climb. “The very same. The indomitable Relare Duskfall, hawkstrider breeder and commander of the Swelltide forces.”
Rhoelyn: “That’s a lot of pressure on your brother. I’m impressed, but who’s watching the stables back home if all your talent is here?” Rhese asks.
Araatris: “He’s got a good steward. A kal’dorei who used to run a hippogryph stable.” He grins as they approach a banded metal door. “He’s almost civilized.”
Rhoelyn: Rhese feigns shock. “Really? That must have taken a lot of work.” Leothir opens the door, drawing the attention of the room’s occupants.
Araatris: The two find themselves under the gaze of an impressive trio gathered around a map laid out across a table. The human smiles. “Look who it is.”
Rhoelyn: Leo crosses the room quickly. “Wrune! It’s good to see you!” He yanks the man into his arms for a large hug before turning to his brother.
Araatris: “Leo.” Relare embraces his brother, the younger sibling taller and more muscular, made bulky by his plate armor. His auburn hair is short and neat.
Rhoelyn: The mage smiles happily. “Relare. I come bearing gifts.” He gestures to Rhese. “Please meet Rhese Riverwind. He wants to help with our efforts.”
Araatris: The paladin smiles and offers a hand, though there’s a distinct cold assessment behind the warmth in his eyes as he sweeps them up and down Rhese.
Rhoelyn: The false sin’dorei keeps his smile in place as he shakes Relare’s hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I certainly hope I can be of assistance.”
Araatris: Relare smirks, an expression that makes the family resemblance to Leo more obvious. His glance flicks to Wrune and the dwarf beside him.
Rhoelyn: The dwarf offers, “I’m Dethedrus. Deth fer short. What can ya do, lad?” Leo watches them. Rhese crosses his arms and grins. “I’m a rogue.”
Araatris: “Dime a dozen, lad,” Deth scoffs through his black beard. “Yer gon- OY!” When Rhese smugly holds up the dwarf’s money pouch, he gapes.
Araatris: The black-haired sin’dorei tosses it back to him with a jingle. “My hands are every bit as fast with a pair of daggers in them. I’m useful.”
Rhoelyn: Wrune turns to Relare. “We did need someone to go check out that camp of scouts. It’d be low risk and proof of his skills.” The commander nods.
Araatris: “Very well,” Relare says, folding his arms across his chest. “You have a chance to prove yourself, Riverwind. Leothir, take him to see the spook.”
Rhoelyn: Leothir grins. “Of course, brother. I will see to it.” Rhese makes a flourishing bow before following Leo out of the command room and building.
Araatris: The druid glances over toward the stable as they pass, craning for a glimpse of Nysse, which his companion notices. “I wouldn’t worry, Rhese…”
Rhoelyn: Rhese nods. “No one will touch her?” Leo shakes his head. “The worse that will happen is they’ll have her clean a few stalls until you return.”
Araatris: The mage shrugs. “The Alliance may not officially recognize the service we do by keeping our savage cousins, but the other races respect the chain.”
Rhoelyn: The sin’dorei druid frowns. “If they don’t recognize it…” Leothir puts his arm around Rhese’s shoulder. “I told you not to worry. She’ll be fine.”
Araatris: Rhese is left with little choice but to force a smile and nod, letting the mage lead him across the camp. Nysse catches a glimpse of the two.
Rhoelyn: The huntress sighs, struggling with her frustration as his guard. In the end, she heads into the stable and sits next to Vorok, his head in her lap.
Araatris: A soft voice intrudes on her solitude, and she glances up. “Would you like something to eat, sister? You look hungry.” The speaker offers a bowl.
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods nervously at the kaldorei woman and reaches over the wolf for the bowl. “We won’t get in trouble, will we? It’s not meal time.”
Araatris: The woman smiles softly. “My policy is that what our… keepers do not know won’t get us hurt. Will your master be gone long enough, though?”
Rhoelyn: Eating ravenously, the huntress nods. “Yes. He went with Leothir to meet some people.” She smiles. “Thank you for the food. I’m Nyssera.”
Araatris: “E-…” The other woman stops herself, leaning in closer and speaking much softer. “Elune adore, Nyssera. My name is Fayrial. Please call me Faye.”
Rhoelyn: The young huntress finishes her bowl. She replies in the same soft voice, “Elune adore, sister. Did your master leave you here, too, Faye?”
Araatris: Glancing back, the slave tugs her braid over her shoulder. “No. I need to go back, soon, but I saw you come in with the commander’s brother.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse looks up sharply. “Leothir is the commander’s brother? We ran across him on the way here. He thought I was an escaped slave at first.”
Araatris: Faye makes a face. “That one is a firm believer in the ‘charity’ of enslaving us. He is a pomp-… “ She sighs. “I still fail to guard my tongue.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress grimaces. “I forget sometimes myself. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to this.” She peers up at the woman. “Is he your master?”
Araatris: “No, not Leothir, but their mother.” The woman shrugs. “The Duskfalls are notorious for the size of their… staff. I stay with the unit as a cook.”
Rhoelyn: Blinking doeishly, Nysse asks, “There’s that many?” The cook nods, “I lost count a while back.” She glances over her shoulder. “I have to go.”
Araatris: The other woman nods, handing back the bowl. “Thank you, Faye. It’s been nice meeting you.” Faye smiles. “And you, Nyssera. Look for me again.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse smiles shyly. “I will.” The cook slips out of the stable leaving her in silence. Without anything to do, she risks curling up with Vorok.
Araatris: The two cuddle and doze for a pair of hours until Vorok flicks an ear and lifts his head. Rhese looks down at them, smirking. “Such an indolent girl!”
Rhoelyn: The young woman blushes, pushing a paw off of her. She bows her head meekly, “I’m sorry. What should I do?” She pulls herself to her knees.
Araatris: He offers her a hand. “Come along with me, Nyssera. We’ve been assigned a tent, and I’ll take a rest before my evening mission.”
Rhoelyn: “Yes, Rhese.” She takes his hand and stands. “Shall I fix dinner before you rest?” Nysse follows him as he leads the way. Rhese shakes his head.
Araatris: “I want to rest immediately.” The druid guides her through the camp, deftly weaving through the crowds and tents and racks of weaponry.
Rhoelyn: She glances up, resisting the urge to frown. “Of course.” Rhese pauses at a tent and gestures for her to enter. She ducks under the flap.
Araatris: The druid follows immediately after her, tugging the flap closed. He makes straight for the cot, plopping down with a groan as his form slips.
Rhoelyn: Nysse crouches by the cot. “You’re pushing yourself.” She whispers agitatedly, “And how am I supposed to protect you if I’m not there?”
Araatris: Rhese rests his arm across his eyes, mumbling, “Couldn’t be helped. I had to use a few spells to impress. I couldn’t exactly have you there.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress growls. “And you’re going back out tonight. Do you really want me to just sit here again? I have a missi-.” Rhese sighs, “I know.”
Araatris: With a wide yawn, he kicks off his boots and settles. “You can do your job now. I only have a bit of time, and I need rest. Guard while I sleep.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse tosses a light cover at him. “Just in case.” She moves to the tent flap. Her hands rest on her lap, inches from two hidden, thin daggers.
Araatris: “Wake m’in an hour, lovely,” the druid slurs sleepily, dragging the cover over himself and rolling to his side.
Rhoelyn: It’s a tense hour as people continuously pass the tent and Nysse sighs in relief when it’s up. She moves to the cot and touches his shoulder.
Araatris: Rhese doesn’t stir until she shakes him harder, then he startles, grabbing her wrist. His initial snarl dissolves, and he blinks at her.
Rhoelyn: The huntress swallows nervously, her eyes flickering to her wrist. Her voice is soft. “Y-you asked me to wake you. Do you feel rested enough?”
Araatris: The druid releases her with one last blink, then looks away. “Y-yes. Sorry. Please step outside until I’m ready, Nyssera.” He scrubs at his face.
Rhoelyn: Blushing, she mutters, “I can guess why, but won’t that be strange? I can just turn around.” Still, the huntress steps back toward the tent flap.
Araatris: Rhese considers that for a moment before nodding, albeit hesitantly. “You’re right. It would look odd. Stay, then.” Nysse nods jerkily and turns.
Rhoelyn: Nysse closes her eyes and hums softly to herself, but still hears the shuffle of clothing. She blushes crimson. “Will you go alone tonight?”
Araatris: “I have to.” His voice is muffled by some fabric. “Tonight is a test I need to pass. Did you know Leothir’s brother is the commander, here?”
Rhoelyn: She nods even though he probably can’t see it. “Faye told me. She’s one of their mother’s slaves. I take it that you need to prove yourself?”
Araatris: Rhese chuckles. “I have to prove I’m the roguiest rogue to ever swing a dagger. I’ve been able to cheat with some very un-rogue tricks, so far.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress grimaces. “But that’s hard on you. Are you sure you can’t take me?” She turns her head, glad that her eyes are still closed.
Araatris: “How would I explain that?” The druid grunts amidst more rustling. “I’m a very skillful rogue. I just need my cute little slave to protect me.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse twists, opening her eyes as she hisses, “I’m not cu-” She stops suddenly and spins back around, trying to hide her red ears. “S-sorry.”
Araatris: Rhese glowers, holding his dark armor in his hands, the shadowy scars across his back and shoulders stark in contrast to his light purple skin.
Rhoelyn: “Your skin… are those the same as I saw before?” Nysse bites her lip. “Are those why you regret it?” She dares to glance at Rhese again.
Araatris: He frowns, but turns so that she can see where the marks continue across his muscular belly. “The scars are the least of my regrets, Nysse.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress stares in fascination and stands, following the lines of the scars. She reaches out with a trembling hand. “And your greatest?”
Araatris: Rhese closes pained eyes and turns his face away, though otherwise he stands still. “That I used it to ruin someone who was like a father to me.”
Rhoelyn: Her fingers brush along his skin, tracing the scars. “Korran says that the wolf made you angry. I’m sorry. I didn’t know. Is he still alive…?
Araatris: The druid shivers at her touch, his voice soft. “Yes. He lives, but he hates me. I… I destroyed what he loved in himself and left him the ashes.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse peers up, her hands still and flattening against his skin. “Maybe he can forgive you if you talk to him. I don’t know what happened, but…”
Araatris: “No. You don’t know what happened.” Rhese suddenly glares down at her, his features shifting. He hides behind his sin’dorei mask, stepping away.
Rhoelyn: The huntress flinches, wrapping her arms around herself. “I shouldn’t have pried.” Looking down, she mutters, “What should I do while you’re gone?”
Araatris: Putting his no-longer-scarred back to her, the druid resumes donning his armor. “Do you think you could safely get information from the slaves?”
Rhoelyn: The young woman nods. “Faye seemed willing. I’m not sure if anyone will notice me wandering, but I’ll stick to the common areas.”
Araatris: The disguised druid nods, turning back to her with one last tug to straighten his cuirass. “Be careful. There are more rules than we know.”
Rhoelyn: “I will. Will you please be careful? I really wish that I could go with you, but I can’t even send Korran without being suspicious,” Nysse sighs.
Araatris: Rhese nods and shoves his daggers in their sheathes. “I’ll be careful, Nysse. Don’t fret.” He tries for a reassuring grin. “Until tonight, then.”
Rhoelyn: The fake rogue waits for her tentative nod before striding to the opening and pushing out the tent flap. Nysse waits a while before leaving herself.
Araatris: The huntress shields her eyes against the sharp last rays of sunset as she steps out of the tent, looking around. Rhese is already out of sight.
Rhoelyn: Nysse heads toward a set of fires in the distance, attempting to ignore the appreciative looks of the soldiers as she enters the dinner grounds.
Araatris: A few collared kal’dorei serve around the fire pits, tending to large cauldrons or dishing out meals of stew to the last supper stragglers.
Rhoelyn: The huntress catches sight of Faye and slips near her, speaking softly. “Are we allowed to have dinner yet?” Faye jumps and turns to her.
Araatris: “Nyssera!” She takes a deep breath. “You mustn’t sneak up on me like that. There, serve some bowls. No one likes to see us idle and masterless.”
Rhoelyn: The young woman takes the proffered ladle. After a bit, she blushes and attempts to hand a bowl to her latest admirer in line, “Your bowl…”
Araatris: The gnome grins and purposefully leaves Nysse leaning down and holding the bowl out to her. The lads behind the little pink-haired girl cheer.
Rhoelyn: “M-miss? I’m afraid your food w-will get cold,” Nysse stutters. The gnome smiles mischievously, “Oh? Then I just must have another bowl.”
Araatris: When the huntress turns with a sigh, Faye is waiting at the pot. “Allow me.” The little gnome makes a face. “Hey! The new girl is helping me.”
Rhoelyn: Faye presses in front of Nysse and hands a fresh bowl down. “I know, but I wouldn’t want your food to get cold again. Sorry for the trouble.“
Araatris: The gnome frowns and takes the bowl. “You’re still uppity, Faye. What would Lady Emeria say?” The night elf looks down at her coolly.
Rhoelyn: “She’d tell me to hurry up and do my job. Lady Emeria doesn’t suffer dawdling.” Faye takes the bowl in Nysse’s hands and adds it back to the pot.
Araatris: With a sullen look, the gnome moves on, and Faye quickly doles out food for the cohort behind her. None of them is brave enough to comment.
Rhoelyn: Faye nudges Nyssera towards the dirty dishes. “Work on cleaning dishes while I catch the line up.” The embarrassed huntress complies mutely.
Araatris: The dinner passes by, uneventful as she quietly washes bowls in a barrel. Finally, she turns and mutters, “I need fresh water.” Faye nods.
Rhoelyn: The cook directs her, “Take those buckets there and head to the water’s edge, but watch the waves. Tide’s up. We’ll empty the barrel here.”
Araatris: Nysse nods and sets down the last bowl, grabbing a bucket in each hand. She heads toward the grey sand beach overlooking the island just offshore.
Rhoelyn: She stands at the edge of the water, Nysse’s eyes dart as she wades into the water. She fills the buckets in-between splashes from the waves.
Araatris: Something pale flashes past the corner of her vision. The fake slave whips her head around, but the beach seems deserted. She shivers.
Rhoelyn: On instinct only, Nysse ducks as she feels something buzz by her head. The buckets slosh as she hurries out of the water toward camp.
Araatris: When she feels something grab at her ankle, Nysse draws one of her hidden blades just as it clamps cold digits around her and yanks her back.
Rhoelyn: Nysse gasps and flops onto her belly under the shallow water, the buckets scatter onto the beach as she twists and slashes blindly into the water.
Araatris: A soundless shriek rings in her head before the grip releases, and she scrambles. A tattered, translucent claw rakes the sand by her cheek.
Rhoelyn: Nysse hesitates as it whimpers, a touch of loneliness coloring the thought. It presses against her leg. She murmurs, “Are you just lonely?”
Araatris: Lonely, the thought echoes as the creature slithers against her, over her, its weight pressing her stomach into the sand. She squirms.
Rhoelyn: “You’re heavy. What are you?” She swallows at the odd feeling against her skin. It presses into her mind, painfully searching her memories.
Araatris: Whatever it finds there seems to be displeasing. She’s suddenly awash in grief and fear and confusion and a petulant anger all mixed up and muddy.
Rhoelyn: “No…,” Nysse sobs. “You’re hurting me.” Her fingers dig into the wet sand as she attempts to drag herself forward. “Get out of my head!”
Araatris: A pale grey tentacle wraps up her arm, tugging on her. Lonely… hurting… The huntress gasps as it shrieks the thought: hungryhungryHUNGRY
Rhoelyn: Her free hand clutches her head while it squirms against her side and arm. “I-i don’t have food. I can barely keep myself fed. Please! Let me go!”
Araatris: Eya… eya, min’da. She sobs at the little voice and the desperate, sad feeling of something lost. She arches back and screams until she passes out.
Araatris: Nysse soothes Vorok with a hand on his neck as they settle on the far side of the crackling, yawning portal, Rhese at her shoulder. He looks grim.