Araatris It takes hours to slink through the warren of tunnels beneath the Black Temple, carefully avoiding the Taken patrols. Frustrating hours.
Rhoelyn Nysse presses her back to the wall and peers around the next corner. She mumbles and holds her bow at the ready, “We should be close…”
Araatris A few feet behind her, Sansea, who’s been mostly laying in an insensate heap over Maxinquay’s shoulder, shifts and moans, “Too close…”
Rhoelyn The way was clear, but the orbs frayed her senses and Nysse’s knuckles were white. “Almost,” she agreed. “Any closer and we’ll be Taken.”
Araatris Rhoelyn lays a softly-glowing hand on Nysse’s shoulder, whispering as the soothing magic flows, “What do we do? I fear we’re at our limit.”
Rhoelyn Nysse glances over the crew. “I-I’ll go.They’ll let me in. They want me.” She chews her bottom lip, “Rhoelyn, may I have Elune’s blessing?”
Araatris “Of course, sister,” the priestess intones, “but more, you’ll have my company.” She smiles as she pulls Elune’s Light around Nysse.
Rhoelyn She hooks the bow over her back and takes both Rhoelyn’s hands, “Rhese wouldn’t want you to do this. I don’t know if they’ll let you in.”
Araatris Rhoelyn’s grin shifts sideways just like her brother’s does. “Should I remind you that he wouldn’t want you to do this, either? We both must.”
Rhoelyn Nysse squeezes Rhoelyn’s hands then releases them, “I know.” She looks at the rest. “We’ll need an exit, but it’s not safe to stay here.”
Araatris Calinea blinks and scrubs a hand over her weary face. “We’ll get some distance and secure your way out. I can protect the team for now.”
Rhoelyn “Thank you. Leave if you must. We can’t afford for anyone else to be Taken.” Nysse turns to Rhoelyn, “Are you ready? I’ll need a keeper.”
Araatris The priestess sobers. Though she glances around the corner with a worried furrow in her brow, her nod to Nysse is resolute. “Ready.”
Rhoelyn Nysse takes a deep breath, “Then we’ll do this before I lose my courage.” She walks around the corner and down the tunnel. “I trust you.”
Araatris The two stride together past a pair of Taken guards that only watch them pass toward where the tunnel opens up into a brightly-lit space.
Rhoelyn The Orbs are deafening. Nysse pales and her breath catches in a wordless gasp as a familiar pain pierces her mind. Her eyes begin to glaze.
Araatris Rhoelyn places a hand on Nysse’s back, whispering in Thalassian. ~Remember who you are, sister.~ She leaves healing power running between them.
Rhoelyn The tension leaves her shoulders, but the glassy eyes remain. Nysse bows her head in what might be a slight nod as they pass crates & tents.
Araatris As they make their way to the center of the massive chamber, the tents and lean-tos give way to half-crumbled, ancient buildings and plazas.
Rhoelyn Soft murmurs become distinct voices. One of them speaks irritably, “She’ll return as long as we have him.” A pause, “Yes, she’ll be Taken.”
Araatris Rhoelyn takes a gentle grip on Nysse’s elbow, pulling her to a stop as they approach the corner. She peers around to see the speaker.
Rhoelyn Nysse’s eyes flicker towards Rhoelyn. Kaerryn is speaking to tall man. He crosses his arms, then gruffly demands, “And their friends?”
Araatris The warrior sighs, grimacing. “They’re still trying to cause problems in the side tunnels, but they’re wearing down quickly. Soon, Founder .”
Rhoelyn Kaerryn looks to the side as the glowing increases, “They’re reacting to someth-one.” She scans the cavern, then motions to another person.
Araatris Rhoelyn sucks in a breath and her grip on Nysse’s arm tightens. “We can’t stay here. Where are you, brother?” She frowns and peeks around.
Rhoelyn She spots a familiar night elf slumped in a cage. An Orb is slotted into a hollow on the outside and locked in. It’s the source of the glow.
Araatris With a relieved grin, the priestess surveys the area around the cage. Rhese waits at the center of a eerie pattern tiled into the floor.
Rhoelyn A draenei in a white coat steps within the design. “He’s still resisting…” He touches the Orb. “Ah! Has it found a better candidate?”
Araatris Rhoelyn slants a worried glance at Nysse before footballs approach from the side. She drags the huntress away to approach from a new side.
Rhoelyn Nysse whimpers faintly, “Rhese.” Her body follows Rhoelyn, but her head turns to see him. The footsteps fade & grow louder as if searching.
Araatris The two sneak past a growing number of searchers and through a crumbling building, to a half-fallen wall closest to where the cage rests.
Rhoelyn Nysse clings to Rhoelyn’s hand to stay in control. She hoarsely whispers, “Lock?” The researcher studies the frantic pulsing from the cage.
Araatris Peering carefully through a crack, Rhoelyn assesses the cage and its orb. She whispers, “It looks weak. Can you blow it open if I rouse him?”
Rhoelyn Nysse nods and forces herself to focus, “We won’t have long this close to it. Be ready to run.” She equips her bow and an explosive arrow.
Araatris Rhoelyn steps back, giving Nysse space while opening the channels of healing magic wider to steady them both. She points at Rhese and mutters.
Rhoelyn Nysse notches the arrow in her bow, but stays hidden by the wall. She watches Rhese and the draenei beyond. “Wake up, Rhese,” she mumbles.
Araatris The healing spell links to the druid, but the strain of now two connections makes it manifest as visible tendrils of Light connecting the trio.
Rhoelyn The researcher shouts and draws the attention of both the Kaerryn and the Founder. Nysse steps out in the open & takes aim “Wake up, Rhese!”
Araatris As the magic shields him, Rhese lifts his head in confusion. His gaze snaps to Nysse’s bow, and he quickly presses away from the cage door.
Rhoelyn The arrow explodes and knocks the door open. The Orb rocks dangerously in its socket. Nysse pales as it screeches in her mind. “Go, go!”
Araatris Rhese stumbles out, emerging from the smoke at first on unsteady legs, then on lithe cat paws. He leaps toward Nysse and Rhoelyn behind her.
Rhoelyn The researcher grabs the Orb. Nysse keeps her bow trained on him. “I’ll cover us.” Her smiled is strained with the effort to stay focused.
Araatris From the other side of the plaza, Kaerryn growls something to the Founder before leaping into action, charging straight for Nysse sans weapon.
Rhoelyn Nysse switches to Kaerryn and lets loose an arrow. She backs away and looks over her shoulder to make sure Rhese and Rhoelyn are moving.
Araatris Nysse’s arrow grazes Kaerryn as she dodges without slowing. With a crackle, the Founder appears a few yards behind Nysse, between Rhoelyn and Rhese.
Rhoelyn “No!” She spins and fires at the Founder, but leaves her back open. Kaerryn grabs the Orb from the startled researcher as she passes.
Araatris Rhoelyn tries to stop and skids into the Founder, slamming into his chest. The Tauren grabs her shoulders and growls, “This was your plan?”
Rhoelyn The arrow lodges in a nearby crate, “Take me, but let them go!” A familiar hum overwhelms Nysse’s mind as an Orb presses against her back.
Araatris Rhese turns with a roar and pounces at Kaerryn, shifting his form mid-air to slam into her from the side as a bear. He swipes at the Orb.
Rhoelyn The Orb is knocked of out Kaerryn’s hands as she tumbles to the ground. Nysse stumbles tries to grab Rhoelyn in her daze. “Let. Her. Go.”
Araatris The priestess squirms, trembling, while her attacker channels lightning to his hands. Rhoelyn arcs back and cries out in a psychic scream.
Rhoelyn The scream drowns the hum for a brief moment. Nysse holds tightly onto Rhoelyn and kicks at the Tauren’s knee. “Run!” She tugs Rhoe’s hand.
Araatris They run, and Rhese soon catches up with them. The Taken in the immediate area seem as disrupted by the mental scream as they are reinforced.
Rhoelyn Shouts begin in the distances as they reorganize. “We need to throw them off our trail.” Nysse breathes raggedly as the Orb buzz returns.
Araatris Rhese’s voice is hoarse as he says, “Let me handle that. I’ll have them tripping over their own feet in no time. Keep going. Carefully.”
Rhoelyn “And let you get captured again?” Nysse shakes her head, then nervously looks over her shoulder. “They’ll come after me and you know it.”
Araatris Rhese smiles despite everything, grasping Nysse’s hands. “Have faith in your druid, lovely.” With a tiny shove, he darts off down a side tunnel.
Rhoelyn “Rhese,” Nysse grumbles, but her lips twitch in a smile. She pulls Rhoelyn down the way carefully, “Seems we move on. He’d better find us.”
Araatris Rhoelyn grips Nysse’s hand and follows along, concentrating intently until the moment the Light tendril following her brother thins and breaks.
Rhoelyn Nysse freezes. “Is everything alright?” She looks Rhoelyn up and down to make sure she was still holding up. “We can rest if you need.”
Araatris Though she breathes hard and looks a bit worn, the priestess shakes her head. “I-it’s fine. He’s just too far. I can’t… I can’t maintain it.”
Rhoelyn Nysse nods. “You did everything you could. We have to leave it up-.” Footsteps interrupt them and she presses both of them into the shadows.
Araatris The two wait, silent and still, while a figure approaches along the tunnel. Her armor clamors. “I know you’re here. I know all of his tricks.”
Rhoelyn Nysse silently draws a dagger. Kaerryn continues, “I’ll call them off if you come with me. Otherwise… we’ll hunt him like the animal he is.”
Araatris While Rhoelyn follows suit with one hand, with the other, she grips Nysse’s sleeve, shaking her head. The other continues, “He’ll die slowly.”
Rhoelyn “I’ll make sure he knows failed you.” Kaerryn pats her shoulder bag. “You can’t hide from them, Nysse.” She smiles, “Can’t you hear them?”
Araatris The warrior’s bootfalls clomp nearer to their thin hiding place… and then away as she passes them. “I know you hear us,” she growls, pausing.
Rhoelyn Nysse holds her breath and presses closer to the wall as if that might keep the Orb away. Her eyes begin to glaze over slowly.
Araatris Kaerryn tilts her head as if listening to something and then slowly turns toward exactly where they’re hiding. She approaches purposefully.
Rhoelyn Nysse shrieks in pain. Kaerryn’s voice is low, “You hear our displeasure. Good.” She reaches out to grab Nysse,“It’s time to stop fighting.”
Araatris Rhoelyn moves as well, reaching out to grab Kaerryn’s wrist. Light glows around her hand as she throws her magic at her former friend. “N-no!”
Rhoelyn The magic hits Kaerryn squarely and knocks her back with a hiss. “Rhoelyn, I’m hurt.” She put a hand to her chest, “Aren’t we friends?”
Araatris The priestess weaves her soothing spell toward Kaerryn, placing herself between them. “We will be again, once you are free of these… things.”
Rhoelyn “Stop it!” Kaerryn leaps forward to stop her spellcasting. A visible tendril forms between them. She stumbles into Rhoelyn as it connects.
Araatris Rhoe drops her dagger & grabs Kaerryn as they both stumble back into Nysse. Though she cries out in pain, she yanks off the pack & flings it.
Rhoelyn Kaerryn twists to grab it, but the Orb is beyond her grasp. Nysse winces, then shifts so she can grab Kaerryn’s flailing hands. “Stay still.”
Araatris Gasping for breath, Rhoelyn slants her friend a grateful look and presses the advantage, pouring forth her fading reserves of power.
Rhoelyn Kaerryn shudders, “It hurts…It’s so loud.” Nysse frowns, “I think this is the Orb we were testing before Rhese was captured. It’s so angry.”
Araatris “What…” Rhoelyn huffs, straining to maintain two lines of supporting magic. “… w-what should we do? I can’t do this… much longer.”
Rhoelyn “Can you hold her?” Nysse pulls herself onto her knees. “I’ll see if there’s some deep, dark hole I can toss it into,” she hoarsely offers.
Araatris The priestess nods, grabbing Kaerryn in her place. She shoves more healing power at Nysse to brace the huntress for getting near the Orb.
Rhoelyn Nysse stands and searches the area, tossing rocks into possible holes. She pauses at one, “This will do.” She grabs an edge of the bag.
Araatris Nysse’s head fills with buzzing rage and pain as she drags the pouch toward the hole. She can’t help but grab for it once more as it drops.
Rhoelyn Finally, Nysse turns to the others. “How’s Kaerryn doing?” Kaerryn sits with her face buried in her hands while Rhoelyn’s magic soothes her.
Araatris The warrior answers, her voice muffled by her hands. “I’m here. For the first time in a while.” Kaerryn finally glances up, her gaze sharp.
Rhoelyn Nysse walks and kneels next to them. “Are you up to moving? We need to head somewhere safe that Rhese can meet us and away from the Orbs.”
Araatris “No probl–” As Rhoelyn starts to push to her feet, she squeaks and falls back to her knees. She laughs self-consciously. “Something hurts.”
Rhoelyn Nysse grins tiredly, “You took most of the fall.” Nysse crouches with her back to Rhoe. “I’ll carry you. Hopefully, it’s not much further.”
Araatris Kaerryn clamps a hand on Nysse’s shoulder. “Tch. You look like you’re gonna fall over next.” Rhoelyn blushes. “M-maybe I can just walk… ?”
Rhoelyn Nysse nods as she stands. “I don’t think we’ve eaten or slept since it all started.” She glances at Rhoe again, “Are you sure you can walk?”
Araatris Though she nods, the priestess stumbles the moment she tries. Kaerryn keeps her from falling. “I… fear I’m running out of mana. Dizzy…”
Rhoelyn Nysse gathers their daggers. “Stop protecting us. We’re going to have to deal with the noise.” Nysse moves to Rhoe’s other side. “Let’s go.”
Araatris With their healer flagging, the three move down the tunnels at a slow pace. But thanks to Kaerryn they do so unerringly, avoiding detection.
Rhoelyn Nysse pauses at an intersection to check the wall. “Left.” She turns, but stumbles on a rock and falls to her hands & knees. “Almost there.”
Araatris Nysse reaches out to take the hand that’s offered to her, but something is strange. She looks up, and Rhese grins and helps her to her feet.
Rhoelyn “I am so glad to see you.” She smiles broadly. “Please tell me they’re right around the corner?” Nysse glances at Rhoelyn and Kaerryn.
Araatris He nods and helps her stand. “I can smell them nearby. I also smell blood. Are you hurt, lovely?” Rhese circles her, his keen gaze examining.
Rhoelyn Nysse blushes deeply, “You’re probably smelling Kaerryn’s cut.” Her gaze follows him, “I can barely think let alone assess injuries, Rhese.”
Araatris He hms noncommittally, frowning slightly as he looks at Kaerryn. “Hey, partner,” he greets her warily, but his attention swings to his sister.
Rhoelyn Rhoelyn smiles weakly at Rhese, “I’m fine. Just a little tired.” He can see the threads of healing still connecting her to Nysse & Kaerryn.
Araatris He smirks at her, reaching out to grab her arm and pull her close. The hand he puts beneath her cloak comes away stained with half-dry blood.
Rhoelyn Rhese stares between his hand & his sister before he tugs the cloak gently away. A long gash runs from shoulder to elbow. “What happened?!”
Araatris “It’s fine… I’m fine.” Rhoelyn swats at him listlessly. “I’ve been healing it when I can. And really, we just need to get out of this place.”
Rhoelyn “You’re not fine.” Rhese gathers Rhoelyn carefully in his arms despite her protests. “Let’s go.” Nysse doesn’t meet his gaze as he passes.
Araatris Bowing to the inevitability of her bear of a brother, Rhoelyn rests as he leads through a last few turns. Her threads of support shimmer.
Rhoelyn Nysse pauses before the last corner and lets the others join the team. After a moment the thread fades and Nysse doubles over convulsing.
Araatris After a while, a heavy footfall lands near her head, and Kaerryn crouches beside her, patting her back. “Not much longer, now,” she whispers.
Araatris It takes hours to slink through the warren of tunnels beneath the Black Temple, carefully avoiding the Taken patrols. Frustrating hours.