Araatris: A few days later, Rhese tromps along a barely-used deer track while Tsume and Nysse range, hunting. He strips off his glove and sighs at his hand.
Rhoelyn: The darkness had already crept back along most of his hand and his magic… He growls under his breath, “Where are we supposed to go…?”
Araatris: When no one and nothing answers, he slips his glove back on and moodily stares up at the sky through the trees, missing his crow’s wings.
Rhoelyn: Barking and Nysse’s sharp voice interrupts his remorse, “Clear!” Suddenly, it all goes quiet. Rhese strides quickly towards her voice close ahead.
Araatris: The druid rounds a tree trunk and comes upon Nysse pulling her arrow from the corpse of a small fiend, her frown dark. Tsume waits nearby.
Rhoelyn: “That’s the third one today.” Nysse growls, “I’m supposed to lead you, but I feel more like we’re just getting lost.” She kicks the corpse.
Araatris: He steps up behind her, resting his hands on her shoulders. “I know. But that’s part of it. The first journey didn’t have a destination, either.”
Rhoelyn: She twists around, “But you didn’t go anywhere.” Nysse runs a frustrated hand through her hair. “I’ve never even seen an animal spirit before.”
Araatris: Rhese smirks, taking her hand. “You’re not supposed to see them. You feel them, first. And… that’s not the first journey I was talking about.”
Rhoelyn: “Feel them…” Nysse blinks at him the way she always does when she’s trying to understand something. “Wait. What first journey do you mean?”
Araatris: Rhese wanders away, saying, “The real first time I met the cat.” He leans down and gives Tsume a scritch behind the ears. “Remember?”
Rhoelyn: Nysse shakes her head, “No, but you did mention you already knew her.” She leans her shoulder against a tree, “How did you meet her before?”
Araatris: “It was when Rhoelyn and I were children. We must have been… hm…. a little older than ten? Maybe twelve or so turns of the seasons,” he answers.
Rhoelyn: She walks over and sits by Tsume, rubbing her stomach. “That’s pretty young. So, what happened then?” She pats the ground next to her.
Araatris: Rhese sits, resting his arm across her leg. “We had just been sent away from our first home, the village where we were born in Winterspring.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods and the druid continues, “We traveled to Astranaar in Ashenvale. It wasn’t what we expected… Not that we really knew what to expect.”
Araatris: He sighs and leans back on his hands. “I hated that city so much, back then. And Rhoelyn couldn’t stand seeing me like that. So we ran away.”
Rhoelyn: “It was out in the woods that I first noticed her.” He smiles, “She followed us. I didn’t understand why until I saw her kill the wild cat.”
Araatris: “She protected us, probably for a lot longer than just that trip. Have you ever seen a frostsaber?” Rhese asks, leaning forward again.
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods, “Papa and I saw them on one of our hunting trips. They’re very large. Is that what she looked like?” She tilts her head curiously.
Araatris: He nods, smiling, but as he opens his mouth to respond, a rifle barks loudly, echoing through the trees. The druid is knocked to his back.
Rhoelyn: “Rhese!” The huntress leaps up with a startled snarl and narrows her gaze. She glances at Tsume who bolts in the direction of the shot.
Araatris: The weapon cracks again in short order, and Tsume stumbles, yelping. “Call her off before ah really have to hurt her,” comes a cry from the trees.
Rhoelyn: Nysse aims her bow aiming towards the voice. “Heel!” Tsume limps next to the huntress. “You’re one of those hunters. Why shouldn’t I kill you?”
Araatris: “Ya could try, elf.” A figure steps out from the trees, her rifle ready. “But there’re more guns on ya than just mine. An’ we don’t strictly need you.”
Rhoelyn: She looks around to confirm, then with a snarled curse swings her bow over her shoulder and kneels by the druid. Nysse checks him over.
Araatris: Rhese doesn’t stir as she slips his coat open and peels it away from his bloodied shoulder. His armor and skin are pierced by many small shot.
Rhoelyn: The huntress purposely ignores the guns on her lowers her pack and pulls out supplies. She begins treating the wound, staining her gloves red.
Araatris: Although the hunters approach, they don’t interfere, letting her do the work for them. The woman and two worgen ring them, weapons ready.
Rhoelyn: Nysse wraps the wound. “I’ll go quietly. Just let me stay with him. Please.” She brushes hair away from his face with the back of her hand.
Araatris: Thoughtfully, the woman considers Nysse’s request. She eventually just points to a nearby tree. “Tie yer wolf here. We don’t need her followin’ us.”
Rhoelyn: Tsume meets Nysse’s gaze and pads to the tree. Nysse silently retrieves the rope and ties Tsume’s collar. She lays her forehead against the wolf’s.
Araatris: With Nysse distracted, one of the worgen hands his rifle to the other and grabs Rhese, slinging him over his shoulder. “Nysse, isn’t it?”
Rhoelyn: Startled by the use of her name, she looks over her shoulder, “Y-yes.” She bites her lip and finishes the last knot before standing and turning.
Araatris: The woman nods. “Here. Yer gonna need this.” She suddenly tosses something light-colored and a little smaller than a fist toward her chest.
Rhoelyn: Nysse catches it easily as her reflexes kick in. She opens her hands to look at it, “What am I supposed to do with this?” She holds it up.
Araatris: The fine dust from the little pouch glimmers slightly as it wafts around her, and the breeze stirs more toward her when she opens her hands.
Rhoelyn: The huntress sneezes from the dust. She stares at the woman in confusion and attempts to step forward, but falls to her knees instead. “What…?”
Araatris: With a cloth pressed over her nose and mouth, the woman leans forward and plucks the pouch out of her hand. “Jes’ relax. Let’s take a walk.”
Rhoelyn: She puts the pouch away. Nysse stands obediently if a little wobbly. Her eyes are slightly glazed reminiscent of a previous time with the orbs.
Araatris: The woman looks back at the treeline as she takes Nysse’s elbow, guiding her toward the others. “Ya can come out, now, girl. She’s out of it.”
Rhoelyn: Rylana steps out from the trees, “That went smoothly. Ah’d recommend not putting her inna cage. He killed the last group that dinna know better.”
Araatris: “Yeah, alright.” The woman gestures and the worgen gather in. The younger girl sighs, resting a hand on Rhese. “Let’s get to the site.”
Rhoelyn: The site is a large clearing with hard post and a heavy chain in the center. There’s several firepits around the outside. Hunters mill about.
Araatris: Rylana drops the night elves’ packs near one of the firepits as the other woman directs their companions to deposit Rhese near the post.
Rhoelyn: Nysse’s gaze follows him as they lock a collar around his neck. Rylana frowns at Nysse, “How long will the drug last? That was a large dose.”
Araatris: “Hard t’say.” The older woman shrugs, also watching Nysse. “Night elves ain’t like us, so ah figured’ta err on the high side.”
Rhoelyn: Ry nods, “Ya could keep her next t’him. Might keep’im calm when he wakes.” The younger huntress shifts uneasily. “Iffn ya wanna course.”
Araatris: Rubbing her chin thoughtfully, the hunter looks between Nysse and Rhese’s black-marked face. “Ya said his touch cursed her, before?”
Rhoelyn: The girl nods reluctantly, “It put shadows on her. Wr–the healer took hours ta remove it.” She ducks her head, “She screamed the whole time…”
Araatris: “Huh.” She looks at Rylana. “An’ did the shadows make her turn?” The girl shrugs. “They din’t wait t’find out what the shadows did t’her.”
Rhoelyn: The woman frowns, “Then it’s high time we found’t.” She pulls Nysse, “Come on.” They walk towards Rhese where she presses Nysse to her knees.
Araatris: Slanting a mischievous grin toward the drugged huntress, she leans down by her ear. “What’dya think? Don’t ya want to give him a kiss, Nysse?”
Rhoelyn: Nysse doesn’t respond to the woman, but reaches out and caresses Rhese’s cheek tenderly. Brushing hair away from his lips, she leans forward.
Araatris: Glassy-eyed, she presses her lips to his, kissing him with all the pent-up longing of the past couple weeks. The crowd cheers and howls.
Rhoelyn: With a growl of frustration, she tosses her gloves to the side and buries her hands in his hair. Deep grey marks race across her face and hands.
Araatris: When Rhese stirs, groggy and returning her kiss automatically, the hunters only increase their cheers. He lifts his hand to the back of her head.
Rhoelyn: His other arm wraps tightly around her waist and he murmurs her name, “Nysse.” The woman smiles smugly and adds her own cheers to the crowd.
Araatris: It’s when Nysse’s hand skims down his chest toward his ribs that a blushing Rylana steps forward, grabbing her wrist. “Don’t humiliate them.”
Rhoelyn: The woman frowns, “Fine. It did what ah wan’ed.” She leans next to Nysse, “That’s ‘nuff. Kneel there an’ stay.” Nysse pulls away from Rhese.
Araatris: The druid makes a sound of protest, reaching for her until the pain in his shoulder awakens him properly. His eyes blink open, and he grimaces.
Rhoelyn: His gaze settles on the glazed gaze of the huntress beside him, her hands lying on her lap. His hisses sharply at the sight of the marks.
Araatris: “Nysse!” When her eyes only flick toward him, fogged and distant, Rhese struggles to rise, grabbing his shoulder. His glare spears Rylana.
Rhoelyn: Rhese manages to sit up and snarls at Rylana, “What have you done to her?” He reaches for Nysse, but the chain draws taunt before he can touch her.
Araatris: The girl kneels beside Nysse, out of his reach as well, and puts a hand on her arm. “It’s just an herb that keeps her… docile. She ain’t hurt.”
Rhoelyn: He narrows his eyes, “She needs healing–.” The woman interrupts, “It’s right ta be lettin’ nature take its course.” Her hand rests on Nysse’s head.
Araatris: Rhese growls. “Don’t tell me about nature! You’re twisting it and trying to force me to do the same. It’s not supposed to be all fangs and rage.”
Rhoelyn: She laughs, “It’s not all rage, elf. A bit more primal, but that might be sumthin’ ya could learn from judging by earlier. No inhibitions.”
Araatris: He can’t help that his cheeks redden, but he hides it behind a scowl. “You call it ‘no inhibitions’; I call it ‘no control’.”
Rhoelyn: “Are ya saying that ya didn’t want that? No matta ya’ll understand soon.” She frowns when Nysse looks away. “Ah thought it’d last longer.”
Araatris: Rhese watches Nysse worriedly as she presses a hand to her head. He appeals to Rylana. “There are two potions in her pack. Don’t do this to her.”
Rhoelyn: The girl’s gaze goes to the two packs near the fire, “Ah… Ah can’t.” The woman tugs Nysse to her feet and nudges Ry, “Go set things up.”
Araatris: “No!” The druid tugs at the runed collar around his neck, pulling on the chain as he gets to his feet. “Nysse! Where are you taking her?”
Rhoelyn: The woman looks at Rylana with a grin, “Ya were right. What’d ya think? Should ah drug her or chain her up wit’im?” She checks Nysse’s eyes.
Araatris: The girl looks between Nysse and Rhese before dropping her eyes. “Drug ‘er. Th’less she remembers this, th’better.” Rhese growls out “No!”
Rhoelyn: Rylana steps back. The woman chuckles, “Good choice, girl.” She pulls out a handful of the dust and blows it into Nysse’s face. Rhese glowers.
Araatris: “Stop this.” The druid closes his eyes, fists clenching. When he opens them again, he’s calm. “Give her the potions, and I’ll give you what you want.”
Rhoelyn: The woman raises both eyebrows, “We already have what we want. You.” She pushes Nysse towards him, “No potions, but ya can have’r fer now.”
Araatris: Rhese pulls Nysse into his arms, where she settles blankly, and looks at the woman, hissing, “One way or another, you’re going to regret today.”
Rhoelyn: She growls at the obvious threat, “We don’t need’er. Ya should be grateful the brat spoke up fer her at all, but if yer gonna to be difficult…”
Araatris: Rhese bares his teeth. “Don’t even th-” “We’re ready, Lila. It’s time we get th’others in place. The moon’s risin’.” Rylana interrupts pointedly.
Rhoelyn: Lila glares at Rylana before spinning and calling out to others. The girl risks a glance at Rhese and Nysse, “Ah… please donna resist it.”
Araatris: He shakes his head, looking at the girl with sad eyes. “You don’t know what you’re asking, Rylana. There’s no happy end for anyone if I give in.”
Rhoelyn: “Rylana!” She looks up, “I hafta go.” Rhese sighs as she runs off and looks down at Nysse. He hugs her tightly, “Can you hear me, Nysse?”
Araatris: She doesn’t respond except to lean her head against his chest. He sighs and whispers against her ear. “Love, get the potions as soon as you can.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse doesn’t respond. Rhese watches as the worgen step into a broad circle around them, just out of his reach, and cradles the huntress close.
Araatris: A sound grows steadily in his awareness, wild and awful and bloody, as the worgen begin to howl and chant in a cacophony. He winces.
Rhoelyn: Rhese closes his eyes and tries to focus only on Nysse, but the sound presses in despite his mental litany. He lays his head on her shoulder.
Araatris: The druid fights as his skin crawls with the need to shift, his fingers curling against her sides. “No…” he whispers against her neck. “I won’t…”
Rhoelyn: Her arms sluggishly raise to wrap around him. “Rhese…” Rhese breathes raggedly, “I know…” He muffles his groan as the marks shift rapidly.
Araatris: The sky darkens and the full moon rises higher as he resists the wolf, gasping and sweating with the effort. Black and purple flowers burst up.
Rhoelyn: The grey marks on Nysse’s skin begin to undulate. The huntress trembles, unable to speak. Rhese cries out as the chanting increases with the moon.
**Araatris :** The circle of worgen parts just long enough for Lila to shove Rylana toward them, the girl huffing and trembling. She staggers forward, grimacing.
Rhoelyn: She reaches them and cautiously touches both Rhese’s cheek and Nysse’s hand, both of them stiffen. Rylana grits her teeth, “Embrace it!”
Araatris: The girl is the first to shift as Rhese throws his head back with a strangled cry, the marks crawling across his face and through his wide eyes.
Rhoelyn: Nysse clings to Rhese as he slowly shifts. His furred neck seems to be the only thing keeping her on her feet as her body tremors painfully.
Araatris: The hunters around them go wild with howls and calls, celebrating. Rylana releases them both, stepping back and looking down at her furred claws.
Rhoelyn: The night elven huntress drops to her knees and finally cries out. Her change is painfully slow, punctuated by cracks and pops, unlike Rhese or Ry.
Araatris: Nysse screams, and the wolf snarls at the moon. The transformation halts partway, leaving her body wracked with pain. The marks on her skin lift free.
Rhoelyn: Her changes begin to reverse. The huntress sobs at the feet of the massive wolf and buries herself against his fur, her fingers clutching blindly.
Araatris: The wolf, now almost completely black, presses against her. Something shimmery wafts free of Nysse and draws together to form over her shoulder.
Rhoelyn: They swirl and form a ghostly wolf. Reverberating deep within her, Nysse feels the voice more than she hears it, “Nyssera.” She raises her head.
Araatris: Everything around the two of them seems to fade into the distance as she stares at the spirit. Something about him feels… comfortable. Familiar.
Rhoelyn: “W-who are you? Do I… Do I know you?” She reaches out to touch him. He steps into her hand, “I suppose you were much too young to remember.”
Araatris: “Remember…?” The huntress runs her fingers through his spectral fur, soft and slightly tingly. “On Hyjal, I guided you. And I have done since.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse tilts her head, “When I got lost as a child?” She frowns thoughtfully, “Korran?” He noses her cheek, “You have remembered then?”
Araatris: “I remember your kindness. You saved me,” she smiles softly before the aches from her body intrude and turn it into a grimace. She pats his nose.
Rhoelyn: He gives her a wolfish grin, “It was your choice to follow me. You clung to my tail.” The wolf snorts, “But… we have urgent things to discuss.”
Araatris: Nysse nods as he continues. “Your chosen one is getting lost as we speak. The moon is making that mad wolf strong. And he weakens himself.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress frowns, “What do you mean he weakens himself? Rhese is doing his best to fight it. Can I help him?” Nysse pleads softly.
Araatris: He nods. “You can. You are, I think, the only one left who can. I cannot tell you his weakness, but you must find and make him face it.”
Rhoelyn: She leans into the wolf, “But I don’t know how, Korran. I barely even understand what he’s going through, and now I can’t even talk to him.”
Araatris: Nuzzling against her fondly, he rumbles, “There’s little time for your education, Nyssera. Your path to him now is through the Dream.”
Rhoelyn: “The Dream? I can do that?” Nysse leans back to look into his eyes, “Just tell me what I need to do. I’ll do whatever it takes to help him.”
Araatris: “First, you must be free. These twisted ones will hamper anything you try.” He looks up at the worgen. “We free the mad wolf and fight together.”
Rhoelyn: She nods again, “I can undo the collar, but they took my weapons. They’re on the other side of the worgen.” Nysse grimaces as she stands.
Araatris: The wolf spirit nods. “I will make you a path.” He starts to turn, but pauses, his gaze landing on Rylana. “You will need all the pieces.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse frowns, “It’s going to be a handful to bring her.” At the wolf’s expectant expression, “I’ll bring both.” She turns towards Rhese again.
Araatris: Korran steps forward, and Nysse can feel his spectral form changing, as if he’s pulling closer to reality. Rylana steps back, suddenly seeing him.
Rhoelyn: The huntress hurriedly undoes Rhese’s collar, “It’s okay, beloved. Just stay with me.” She glances at Rylana, “Follow Korran and get equipment.”
Araatris: The newly-turned worgen gapes at her. “What d-?” Nysse shoves her. “Just do it, Ry. You’re coming with us.” The black wolf snarls viciously.
Rhoelyn: Nysse looks sharply at Rhese, “She’s coming with us, Rhese. We need her.” The collar falls to the ground and Nysse clicks at him, “Follow.”
Araatris: The rage that rolls off him is palpable, but he obeys, turning his hate-filled eyes out toward the hunters as Lila rushes toward them all. “Stop!”
Rhoelyn: “Stay back!” Nysse wraps her arms around the wolf’s neck, “Walk with me, Rhese.” He snarls at Lila, but pads reluctantly next to the huntress.
Araatris: “Ya ain’t takin’ him, elf!” the woman snarls back, shifting to her worgen form. She calls out to the others. “Get th’ gear. Don’t let’em leave!”
Rhoelyn: Rhese growls, but looks at Nysse. She closes her eyes and releases his neck, “Guard, but stay close.” She bolts for their equipment, passing Ry.
Araatris: Her spirit beast leads the way with an otherwordly howl, bowling into the worgen directly between her and their things. The girl follows Nysse.
Rhoelyn: Nysse skids to a stop at the gear. She flings Rhese’s bag to Rylana and picks up her own. Gathering her bow, Nysse flinches at a nearby scream.
Araatris: Rhese’s claws scatter the hunters as a few rush back to the fires for their abandoned rifles. Lila struggles to rise from a puddle of blood.
Rhoelyn: “Clear!” Rhese jumps as Nysse fires an arrow at Lila. She clicks again, “Follow!” He backs to her as she grabs Ry’s wrist and runs. “Korran!”
Araatris: Leaving the woman’s fresh corpse behind them, they rush across the clearing. Rhese leaps ahead, snapping at them to scatter the hunters.
Rhoelyn: Nysse is knocked down by a worgen, but Korran drags him away. Rhese snarls and vines pin a few other nearby hunters while Nysse gets back to her feet.
Araatris: More lope at them, rifles ready, but the scythe’s vicious thorns sprout all over the clearing, slicing at them as the group runs into the forest.
Rhoelyn: The hunters attempt to follow, but they’re scattered. Nysse presses on with the others until she stumbles, the weight of her aches bearing down on her.
Araatris: Vines suddenly burst from the ground, wrapping around her waist, and she’s lifted off her feet. Nysse finds herself plopped on Rhese’s back.
Rhoelyn: The huntress gasps and leans down to cling to his back. “Rhese!” He doesn’t answer, but checks over his shoulder as he begins to run again.
Araatris: There’s one final snap from a rifle behind them, but Korran leaps with uncanny timing, catching the dart in his teeth before it reaches Rhese.
Rhoelyn: She presses herself down against Rhese, trying to make as small a target as possible. Nysse labors with each breath, her face flushed.
Araatris: The wolf spirit’s voice rumbles in her head, “My presence in this plane drains you. Endure it just a bit longer, and I will retreat.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress nods and attempts to speak, “How… do I… get to… dream?” Her hold slips slightly as vision swims. “Need to… know,” She gasps.
Araatris: “The veil is thin where the bear god fell. Take him there.” Korran’s voice is strong, though he has fallen back to check for pursuit before he fades.
Rhoelyn: She slides forward, “Rhese… go to the cave. The bear…” Nysse wobbles unsteadily on his back. She lays her forehead against his neck. “Can you…?”
Araatris: The wolf doesn’t respond to her words, though he slows to a stop. He pauses long enough for vines to burst up, tying Nysse securely against him.
Rhoelyn: She relaxes with tired groan, “Korran, I don’t think I can stay… awake.” The spirit’s voice is soothing in her mind, “Then rest, Nyssera.”
Araatris: As the wolf rolls back into a smooth gait beneath her and the worgen lopes beside them, Nysse lays her head down on his soft fur and drifts off.
Araatris: A few days later, Rhese tromps along a barely-used deer track while Tsume and Nysse range, hunting. He strips off his glove and sighs at his hand.