Rhoelyn: As the darkness of sleep claims Nysse, someone speaking presses into her awareness. A familiar and comforting voice that seems to draw her to it.
Araatris: Korran pads toward her as the cave resolves itself around her again, mostly the same but not identical. The place grows dense with vines.
Rhoelyn: Nysse blinks and looks around, “Korran? It worked then?” Korran nods, “It did. You are in the Dream.” The huntress turns to where Rhese was.
Araatris: His nightelven form stirs from the ground, a shadowed version of himself with the ghostly form of the wolf hovering around him. He rises.
Rhoelyn: Nysse slowly stands and watches him, “Rhese?” She reaches out tentatively and glances at Korran. “Is it safe to touch him here, Korran?”
Araatris: “Less safe even than in your plane. The mad wolf is ravenous,” Korran answers, wandering in a circle around him. Rhese looks at Nysse.
Rhoelyn: Frowning, Nysse draws her hands back to her chest. “Rhese, are you okay? I’m here and I’ll do whatever it takes.” Rhese smiles tenderly.
Araatris: “I’m… here, Nysse. The wolf hasn’t won, yet.” He doesn’t approach, but he looks around, his dark gaze settling on Korran. “Why are we here?”
Rhoelyn: “Before finding your spirit, you must deal with the mad wolf.” Korran brushes against Nysse, “For that, she must help you defeat your weakness.”
Araatris: “Weakness?” Rhese frowns and folds his arms across his chest. “What weakness?” The wolf around him growls, and he mutters, “Be quiet.”
Rhoelyn: Korran stares at Rhese, “I cannot say. Some part of you clings to it despite the danger. You will need to face your Nightmare to discover it.”
Araatris: The druid looks between Nysse and her wolf. “And Nysse? You will protect her in case I fail?” he asks, clenching his fists at his side.
Rhoelyn: “No.” Korran replies flatly. When Rhese growls, the spirit beast continues, “It would defeat the purpose. Together you must face the risks.”
Araatris: “Then t-” Rhese stops when the wolf suddenly shimmers and fades from view. He gives Nysse an exasperated look. “Was that helpful?”
Rhoelyn: Her eyes dart around to try and take in everything, “Not really. This is all new to me.” Nysse sighs, “I don’t know where to go or how to wake up…”
Araatris: Rhese grins weakly. “You’ll probably wake up naturally when the sedative wears off, lovely. Don’t fret. You won’t be stuck here in the Dream.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse’s eyes widen, “We’re on a time limit? What about you? Will you wake up, too?” She clasps her hands tightly at her stomach, but takes a half-step forward.
Araatris: “I hope so.” He regards her warmly, keeping his hands at his sides. “It’s so nice to be able to speak with you, love. It’s been frustrating.”
Rhoelyn: Her heart skips a beat as she looks away shyly, “I missed your voice, but… it was nice to be close to you. I’m sorry if I caused you trouble.”
Araatris: He shakes his head. “I’m pretty sure that’s my line, Nysse. I’ve been nothing but a burden on you. I’ve hurt you. I’m the one who should be sorry.”
Rhoelyn: “No!” It bursts from her lips so quickly that she covers her mouth, “You didn’t hurt me, so you don’t need to be sorry. I just want to help you.”
Araatris: “I know you do. Despite everything I’ve done. You always impress me, lovely.” Rhese turns away and rests a hand / paw on the cave wall.
Rhoelyn: Nysse speaks softly, “I do? I think that you’d send me back to Nighthaven to stay with Rhoe if you could.” She wanders to the entrance, (c)
Rhoelyn: “You seem to take on the weight of what happens to me even when it’s my choice. It’s okay, Rhese. I don’t expect you to protect me from everything.”
Araatris: The druid turns back to her. “I just want you to be safe, Nysse. I know you’re capable, but I can’t help it. I’m af-… I don’t want to lose you, again.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse looks over her shoulder with a gentle smile, “It’s okay to say it. You’re afraid. I’m afraid, too. I don’t want to lose you to the wolf.”
Araatris: He comes over as close as he dares, speaking softly. “I’m not supposed to be afraid. That won’t help me protect you from this wolf.”
Rhoelyn: “There’s no rule in the hero handbook that we can’t be afraid.” Nysse looks fondly at Rhese, “I’ll be careful. I can’t help you if I’m hurt.”
Araatris: He chuckles, scratching his head sheepishly. “You know it’s cheating to use my own line against me… even if it’s a good one.” He smiles.
Rhoelyn: Nysse’s smiles brightly, “It is. We… complete each other, beloved. We make each other stronger. Shall we find and fight this Nightmare together?”
Araatris: He sweeps a bow. “Anything my lady wishes.” Rhese glances around. “So where do you think we look for a Nightmare, my lovely guide?”
Rhoelyn: The huntress ponders for a moment, “What if we go back to where you first changed into a wolf? We can do that, right? Things looks similar.”
Araatris: “By the hunters’ camp?” At her nod, he looks out at the woodlands beyond the cave, thoughtful. “I think I can get us both through the Dreamway.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse blinks, “Dreamway? I guess that’s a way to travel here in the Dream. How does it work?” She sighs, “I wish we knew how long we have.”
Araatris: Rhese nods. “The Dream is an echo of Azeroth as it could have been, which means distances are the same. Except when you use the Dreamway.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress’ lips twitch in amusement, “It’s good that you’re with me. I would have been walking everywhere. Let’s use the Dreamway then.”
Araatris: The druid grins. “Come a little closer, lovely. We should be able to take one of the small trails from the central causeway.” He glances out.
Rhoelyn: She steps as close as she dares, “It does sound really handy. I’m still a little overwhelmed. Korran and all this is a bit much really.”
Araatris: Rhese turns back to her with a warm look, resting his hand on the wall. “I know it’s a lot at once,” he says. The air around them shimmers.
Rhoelyn: Darkness engulfs them leaving only the red eyes of the wolf. As Nysse’s gaze follows the shadows something brushes against her calves. “Rhese?”
Araatris: His voice comes from somewhere to her left, a little subdued. “We certainly found the Nightmare, Nysse. Your instincts served you well.”
Rhoelyn: “I thought the nightmare would be a creature or something. This is just darkness.” Contrary to Nysse’s statement, a light glows in front of them.
Araatris: The druid steps closer. “Even I don’t know much about what the Nightmare really is.” He shudders, watching as a bonfire takes shape before them.
Rhoelyn: A growl echoes from beyond the fire. Nysse slides her bow off her shoulder. “The Nightmare is normally a part of the Dream? That’s scary…”
Araatris: “No one’s sure. They say it was pure, at first, b-” He tries to step in to the growing circle of light, but he’s stopped by a crackling boundary.
Rhoelyn: Two cages form to the side. Two shapes are in the cages, “Rhese, it’s the night they changed you.” Nysse places her hand on the shimmering wall.
Araatris: He places his hand near hers on the barrier, speaking softly. “They lied and told me they’d killed you. It wasn’t until the wolf that I knew…”
Rhoelyn: She gasps and looks at him, “I didn’t…” She looks down, “I begged for them to let me see you. Ry was the one who untied and talked to me.”
Araatris: The black wolf steps into the light on the far side of the fire, snarling. “I saw. I didn’t have control over the rage, so I watched for a while.”
Rhoelyn: “Oh…” Nysse pauses, “Weren’t you happy to find out they lied? Or relieved?” They watch as the wolf frees Tsume and walks to Nysse’s cage.
Araatris: Rhese sighs. “Yes. Cenarius’ beard, I was so relieved. I was also so angry at them. At myself. The rage rides with everything inside the wolf.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress waits as they drag her out of the cave and in front of the wolf. “Why would you be angry at yourself? You didn’t do anything.”
Araatris: “Of course I did!” He presses against the barrier. “I did everything, Nysse.” The memory shifts, and the kneeling version of herself fades.
Rhoelyn: Nysse jumps a little as his voice increases and turns towards him, “What do you mean? What did you do?” A figure appears within the barrier.
Araatris: The shadow of Rhese stalks toward her, looking every bit as dangerous as the wolf with the scythe in his hand. “I got you caught. (c)
Araatris: (c) And killed. And changed. And tortured. I’m your enemy, really, if you think about it.” The version of him outside the barrier has disappeared.
Rhoelyn: Nysse shakes her head and steps back, “No, you’re not. Never.” She frowns, “I know the risks. Why are you holding yourself responsible?”
Araatris: He growls. “Because I’m supposed to protect the ones I love, not harm them. Over and over again. What am I, really? Maybe I’m already the wolf.”
Rhoelyn: “No!” She stops and shouts. “They did that! The orbs did that!” Nysse flushes, “And I wanted you to change me. I could have stepped away.”
Araatris: The shadow of Rhese smirks, it’s a dark expression as he continues to stalk toward her. “You say that, but could you? I wouldn’t have let you.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse clutches a hand to her chest nervously, “Physically, no. You’re stronger than me, but I trust you. Why wouldn’t I? You’re my… you’re…”
Araatris: “… your doom. I know.” He says it softly, sadly, but he still gnashes his teeth and swings the scythe at her. She dodges with a surprised gasp.
Rhoelyn: “Rhese, stop this! Are you saying that I should start feeling bad every time I trip up? Every time I get injured?” Nysse ducks, “You’re my beloved!”
Araatris: “How can I be? I can’t even protect you from myself!” He swings the scythe again, but it’s a half-hearted strike. “And I’m too weak to let you go.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse opens her arms, “Then don’t let me go. Start working with me.” She looks away, “That’s what mates do. We are m-mates, aren’t we?”
Araatris: “Mates… Yes, we are mates, Nysse.” His brow furrows as he reaches for her. “So what will I do when I lose you? What if you decide to go?”
Rhoelyn: “I don’t want to lose you either, Rhese, and I don’t want to go. I need you…” Nysse squeaks as she looks up in the face of Rhese’s shadow.
Araatris: “Everyone goes, Nysse.” He says it softly, dropping the scythe to the ground. “Why would you stay if I can’t keep you from being hurt?”
Rhoelyn: Nysse blinks, so stunned that she replies without thinking, “I’m here because I love you. Your smile and gentleness and humor. You give me hope.”
Rhoelyn: She smiles fondly, “I love the wild look you get sometimes. Rhese, you make me a better person. I want to live it with you, not on the sidelines.”
Araatris: His shadow form reaches out, brushing her hair back. The scythe lies on the ground beside them. “I’m afraid. How can I not fear losing you?”
Rhoelyn: The huntress hugs herself, “I don’t think you do. I’ve been terrified of losing you since you took the scythe. I’d be lost without you…”
Araatris: The form turns away, running his hands through his hair in frustration. When he paces away, the shadowy form of the wolf rises from the scythe.
Rhoelyn: Nysse draws her bow and levels it at the wolf, “We fear because we love, but love makes us stronger so we can face those fears… together. Help me.”
Araatris: Rhese turns, and his eyes widen at the sight of the wolf. He grimaces, looking around the firelit area. “I don’t have a weapon. I need a weapon.”
Rhoelyn: “Want a claw?” She slides one hand to her dagger and tosses it on the ground in front of him. She quickly puts her hand back on the drawstring.
Araatris: The black wolf growls and circles Nysse as Rhese’s shadowy form reaches down to pick up the dagger. The firelight glints off the blade.
Rhoelyn: Nysse growls as it nears Rhese as part of its circle. “Stay away from him!” She fires a couple of quick shots as the wolf dodges and darts closer.
Araatris: “Nysse!” Rhese rushes after the wolf as the huntress fires another shot, leaping back. The firelight expands and changes to reveal a lush forest.
Rhoelyn: She ducks around a tree before swinging around and shooting another arrow. One of them manages to dig into the shoulder of the wolf. “Hit left!”
Araatris: The druid, no longer wreathed in shadows, slips around the wolf’s left flank, slicing at it with the small dagger. The wolf barely flinches.
Rhoelyn: The huntress dives and rolls to the side as the wolf slashes across where she was. Nysse curses as she stands, “He’s got a thick hide. Any ideas?”
Araatris: “Last time, the bear cla–” The wolf slams a shoulder into Rhese, spinning to follow Nysse. It lunges forward, snapping at her once more.
Rhoelyn: The teeth graze her leg leaving shallow ruts and torn fabric in its wake. She pulls out an explosive arrow and backs away quickly, “Clear!”
Araatris: Rhese ducks behind one of the tree trunks as she fires her arrow, covering his head against the close explosion. “Nysse?” he coughs, ears ringing.
Rhoelyn: “Rhese!” Her call is faint, but urgent. He leans out from the tree to see the wolf hovering over a prone Nysse. She’s barely holding him back.
Araatris: The druid growls and dashes out, “Get away from her!” As he runs, he flips the blade in his grip and drags it along the wolf’s side.
Rhoelyn: The wolf twists to follow Rhese with a pained snarl and it catches in a fresh wound. Nysse scrambles and grabs her bow. “Focus on that side!”
Araatris: “Anything… ungh!… my lady wishes,” he grits out, trying to dodge away from its teeth. He’s forced to leave the dagger caught in its side.
Rhoelyn: Nysse hesitates, then dashes forward and grabs the dagger, tearing it out and down his side. The wolf howls and flails towards the huntress.
Araatris: When the wolf swipes at her, she dodges back, but its claw scrapes across her armor and catches on a strap, yanking her to the side.
Rhoelyn: The strap snaps and her quiver tumbles away, spilling arrows across the ground. Nysse falls onto her shoulder with a yelp as she protects her bow.
Araatris: The wolf’s breath is hot against her cheek as it presses the advantage. “Nysse!” Rhese tackles its neck, turning its fangs at the last moment.
Rhoelyn: Instead of rolling away, Nysse stabs up at the wolf’s soft underjaw with the dagger. “Hold him!” The wolf growls and fights Rhese’s hold.
Araatris: The druid grits his teeth and pulls vines up to wrap around his legs and the wolf’s head. “I can’t… hold it. Whatever you do, make it fast.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse tenses waits until she has a shot and plunges the dagger into the wolf’s throat. She turns as blood splatters across her face and torso.
Araatris: The beast jerks and rips through the vines, stumbling away. Nysse rolls to avoid being stepped on, and Rhese staggers away from the wolf.
Rhoelyn: The huntress tosses the dagger to Rhese. She leans down and grabs a couple of arrows. Drawing her bow, she circles around to Rhese. “Are you okay?”
Araatris: He coughs and nods, only glancing away from the wolf for a moment to look her over. “Are you? How much of that blood is your own?”
Rhoelyn: Her lips curve upwards, “Don’t worry. Not much. He grazed my thigh with a claw though.” She frowns at the pacing wolf, “He’s still not down.”
Araatris: Rhese nods, watching him thoughtfully. “The wolf doesn’t like to give up, but he knows we can match him. He’s waiting for… something.”
Rhoelyn: “Should we get out of here before whatever he’s waiting for happens?” Nysse narrows her eyes, “Or we could try pressing our advantage.”
Araatris: The druid frowns, his brow furrowing. “Something’s missing, still. We can’t go, so we press our advantage.” He brandishes the bloodied dagger.
Rhoelyn: “As you wish. Stay close. I may need your help.” Nysse lets a few more arrows fly. The wolf darts to the side, but Nysse presses forward.
Araatris: Rhese sputters, “Y-you may need m-” He growls, shooting her a look before focusing on the wolf. She can’t make out what he mutters under his breath.
Rhoelyn: Nysse sighs in exasperation, “You can tell me in detail all the ways I need you later.” The wolf snarls as an arrow slices through an ear.
Araatris: He says nothing, dashing after her arrow to strike at the wolf. The little dagger bites another shallow line down the wolf’s flank, and he growls.
Rhoelyn: Nysse fires a covering shot as Rhese side steps the wolf’s bite. He backs away towards his huntress, grabbing what remains in the quiver.
Araatris: “Here.” Barely glancing at her, he tosses Nysse the arrows, his gaze locked on the wolf’s. “I want you to get some distance, Nysse.”
Rhoelyn: She looks surprised. She grabs the arrows, “What? Why? You just said that we need to press our advantage.” Nysse takes a couple of steps back.
Araatris: “Because you don’t have many arrows left.” He circles away from her, keeping the wolf’s attention. “Line up your shot. I’ll hold him.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress takes a couple of steps further back and holds up her bow, “Be careful, Rhese.” She follows the wolf’s erratic movements.
Araatris: He nods, stepping forward and pressing a hand to the ground, keeping his eyes on the wolf’s. It rushes at him, but stumbles as the dirt roils.
Rhoelyn: Vines shoot up and wrap around the shadow wolf, but Nysse frowns as it struggles. Rhese’s brow furrows in concentration, tightening his trap.
Araatris: “Be quiet,” the druid bites out as the wolf snarls and strains. The vines snap as he pulls, but are replaced by thorny ones that grab at him.
Rhoelyn: Nysse forces all the distractions away and waits for the moment. She finds it when the vines grab his head. She breathes out and releases her arrow.
Araatris: When the shot pierces his eye, the wolf goes wild, throwing its head back and snapping most of vines. Rhese ducks behind a tree as it flails.
Rhoelyn: The wolf turns its bloody head toward Nysse with a spitting snarl. It yanks free of the few remaining vines and charges at the huntress.
Araatris: Nysse dodges away, but the wolf follows, swiping at her wildly. The druid curses and reaches out as the near-full moon rises above the canopy.
Rhoelyn: The wolf howls deafeningly, growing larger and blacker in moonlight. Nysse is knocked to the ground as it leaps onto her in a jumbled array of limbs.
Araatris: Rhese leaps into action, throwing himself and his little dagger at the wolf even as Nysse cries out. Blood splatters his arm from somewhere.
Rhoelyn: “Nysse!” The blade dig deeply into the beast’s shoulder. “Get off of her!” The wolf thrashes, but ignores the dagger as he snaps at her again.
Araatris: “No!” Rhese is knocked away and stumbles back, the dagger left stuck in the beast’s thick hide. He clenches his fists in desperate rage. “NO!”
Rhoelyn: Nysse desperately thrusts the arrow at the wolf again, but it doesn’t back off. Claws rake across her thigh as it and she screams raggedly.
Araatris: At her scream, Rhese snarls and leaps at the wolf, yanking at something vicious within himself. Energy coalesces into claws around his fists.
Rhoelyn: The arrow pierces the wolf’s chest, but it’s yanked from her hand as it twists. She gapes at the sight of Rhese viciously tearing into the wolf’s flank.
Araatris: When the beast twists toward him, trying to snap at him and pull his flank away, Rhese slices down his face, narrowly missing his good eye.
Rhoelyn: Nysse scrambles away from the wolf, but has to stop to shove a paw to the side before it steps on her. She rolls the rest of the way.
Araatris: The huntress is all but forgotten as they slash at each other, Rhese taking gouges out of the wolf’s hide. He barely dodges the beast’s teeth.
Rhoelyn: Nysse pulls herself to a tree and sits against it. She curses and looks about for her bow as the bloody battle continues. The wolf backs away.
Araatris: “Oh, no,” the druid snarls, following and slicing at him again. “You don’t get to escape.” Rhese is wild-eyed and feral, relentlessly focused.
Rhoelyn: She struggles to her feet and limps to her bow and last arrow. Drawing her bow, she carefully aims, “Incoming!” She fires when Rhese is clear.
Araatris: The arrow pierces the wolf’s other eye, and he throws his head back with a strangled howl. Before the sound fades, he dissolves into the shadows.
Rhoelyn: Nysse sags against the tree next to her with a groan. “Rhese…” She smiles, “You got your claws again.” She pulls her weight off her right leg.
Araatris: He smiles at her as his knees give out, and he flops over to his back, breathing hard. The claws dissipate. “Seems… so. Are you… hurt?”
Rhoelyn: “My thigh was hit pretty bad. I think that’s the only major injury.” She manages to limp to him only to frown and stare at the ground then her leg.
Araatris: Rhese holds up his bloody, grasping hands to her, oblivious. “I was worried… when he had you pinned.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse raises an eyebrow in amusement, “Rhese, I can’t help you up or sit down. My thigh.” She ignores his bare hands after a nervous glance.
Araatris: He groans, pushing himself up and managing to stand. Without giving her a chance to protest, he rests his hands at her waist. “The wolf is gone.”
Rhoelyn: She tries to pull away, but her leg protests and she stumbles. “Rhese! I promised Wrune. We don’t know if there are side effects or anything.”
Araatris: With a soft sigh, he releases her. “Of course, lovely. I’m ju–” The feathered necklace at his collar glows softly, and he steps away from her.
Rhoelyn: Nysse falls onto her butt as soon as he releases her. A soft blue magic pours out from the necklace and starts to form a shape between them.
Araatris: The druid steps around quickly, putting himself between it and Nysse… until the form starts to resolve. He relaxes with a smile.
Rhoelyn: The huntress brow creases until the cat forms, then she attempts to scramble to her feet. The cat meets Rhese’s gaze, “You have traveled far.”
Araatris: He grins and reaches down to help Nysse to her feet, careful to touch only clothes. “I had a good guide, thanks to your sage advice.”
Rhoelyn: Blushing, Nysse mumbles, “I didn’t do much. I just guessed.” The cat watches them for a long moment causing her to duck her head self-consciously.
Araatris: “You did not guess,” the cat finally corrects with a soundless voice. “You listened and saw with your heart. You spoke truth. You did well.”
Rhoelyn: She ducks slightly behind Rhese shyly and clutches at the back of his shirt, trying to quietly take weight of her leg. “Thank you, Miss Cat.”
.Araatris: The white saber nods and bows her head before looking at Rhese. He smiles. “It’s good to have you back, old friend.” Again, the cat nods.
Rhoelyn: “You have fought back the wolf here, but your journey is not over. The scythe will be waiting for you when you wake.” The cat stretches.
Araatris: Rhese nods, shifting slightly to rest his hand on Nysse’s back, quietly supportive. “I think I know what to do about that particular burden.”
Rhoelyn: The cat inclines its head, “Then I will leave it to you. Ensure that you do not touch it. It is not safe.” The cat pads towards Nysse and sniffs.
Araatris: “Of course.” Rhese watches Nysse’s reaction to the attention with some amusement, putting pressure on her back when she tries to shy away.
Rhoelyn: The cat speaks gently, “You will need strength to support your spirit.” Nosing Nysse’s hand away, it examines the deep furrows in her thigh.
Araatris: At the spirit’s glance, the druid nods. “I’ll help her learn.” Satisfied, the cat turns her attention back to the wound. Her amethyst eyes glow.
Rhoelyn: It grows to engulf Nysse’s injury which slowly closes. She rubs against the healed skin, “You cannot afford to be injured when you return.”
Araatris: Rhese frowns as the huntress mutters her thanks, crouching down to eye level. “That’s ominous. Will you show me what you see?”
Rhoelyn: The cat nods. Rhese leans forward and puts his forehead against hers. He sees an image of Rylana and Tsume fighting at the cage entrance.
Araatris: The druid “tsk”s as he straightens, his brow furrowing. “Those mutts are nothing if not persistent.” He idly pats the cat and looks at Nysse.
Rhoelyn: “Mutts? You mean the hunters?” The huntress frowns, “Are the others alright? Can we wake up and help them?” Her questions run together.
Araatris: “Take a breath, my lovely.” He brushes her hair back, ever careful. “Yes, the hunters are back. It’s time for us to wake up.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse shifts ever so slightly away from his hand, then forces herself to take a couple of long breaths before responding, “How do we wake?”
Araatris: Rhese lowers his hand. The air around them shimmers once more. “It will be easier if your dreamform is close to your body.”
Rhoelyn: The world fades into a familiar cave and Nysse looks around nervously, “Oh. That makes sense. I wish we could see what was happening from here.”
Araatris: He shakes his head as the cat fades away. “Not possible. Just close your eyes and concentrate on the weight of your body. Feel it.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse closes her eyes, but Rhese can still see her shifting uneasily. “I just feel… me.” Her face scrunches in frustration. “I’m sorry.”
Araatris: Rhese leans close by her ear, speaking softly. “You can’t feel my breath on your skin because this isn’t your skin. What does it really feel?”
Rhoelyn: She colors, realizing how close Rhese must be, but tries to focus again. “I feel… warm.” Nysse pauses, “Something’s laying across me.”
Araatris: “Focus on the feeling. The warmth, the weight. Is it heavy? Soft or hard? Do you need to shift?” He whispers. “Open your eyes, Nysse. Wake up.”
Rhoelyn: As the darkness of sleep claims Nysse, someone speaking presses into her awareness. A familiar and comforting voice that seems to draw her to it.