BC Arc – Chapter 15

Araatris Hours later, the wolves guard the door to one of the smaller buildings in the Refuge, an herbalist’s hut. Rhese sleeps on the cot, bound still.
Rhoelyn Nysse dozes as she sits in the corner, her knees drawn to her chest. Her hand covers a blossoming bruise on her arm. Wrune and Val talk quietly.
Araatris Wrune sighs and glances over at Cal and Shadow bound in the other corner of the space. “Nothing is working. I don’t know what Rhoelyn does.”
Rhoelyn Valerio sighs, “You did something or you’d be like them.” Wrune frowns, “Nothing different.” He looks at the others, “They’ll be waking soon.”
Araatris The paladin walks over to where they are bound. He kneels down, resting a hand against Calinea’s cheek. “I can’t leave them like this.”
Rhoelyn He whispers, “Please wake up, Cal.” Wrune presses his lips against her forehead. A faint glow surrounds Calinea and her eyes flutter open.
Araatris Cal blinks as Wrune pulls back, blushing slightly. “W-what are you doing, Aron?” He smiles. “Are you awake, now?” She looks down at her bonds.
Rhoelyn Wrune blushes fiercely, “You were under the influence of the orbs.” Cal can’t seem to meet his eyes, “I remember.” Nysse slowly opens an eye.
Araatris Val steps up, one brow raised. “… does this mean you’ll be kissing Shadow, next?” Both Wrune and Calinea only blush all the more. He grins.
Rhoelyn Wrune unties Cal, “Cal’s prayers may be more effective.” They turn to Shadow. Nysse silently sits at Rhese’s side while the others are busy.
Rhoelyn Caressing a silver lock of hair, her other hand grasps his and mutters, “If you’d asked me to go anywhere else, I would have followed.”
Araatris Valerio has the good graces to clear his throat as he steps up behind her, leaving the others to tend to Shadow. “How is he?”
Rhoelyn Nysse’s heart skips a beat as she yanks her hand back from his hair, “H-he’s still sleeping for now. That was a nasty lump on his head.”
Araatris Valerio “hrmphs” as he settles on the floor beside her. “I thought our bear had a harder head than that.” He slants a glance at her. “And you?”
Rhoelyn Her hand moves to the bruise on her arm self consciously, “I’m alright just tired. Near him I don’t hear the orbs as much. Aren’t you tired?”
Araatris Val nods, patting her on the shoulder gently. “We all are, Nysse. And sore. Hungry. Perhaps a little stinky. World-saving is a glamorous life.”
Rhoelyn Her stomach rumbles. “Definitely hungry,” she smiles weakly at Rhese, “but I finally understand why Rhese hated seeing me Taken by the orbs.”
Araatris “It is hard to watch the people we care about hurt, isn’t it?” He says it softly, leaving his hand on her shoulder. His gaze is on Rhese.
Rhoelyn Nysse turns at Val, “We’ll get him back.” His wary expression is the first warning she has before Rhese growls, “Let her go, Valerio.”
Araatris “Allllright.” Val lets go of Nysse’s shoulder and stands, grouching. “You like him better. You deal with him.” He walks over to the others.
Rhoelyn Nysse sighs, “And there goes the moment.” Rhese growls an order at her, “Release me.” She shakes her head, “I won’t. You’re not yourself.”
Araatris He frowns, testing his bonds. “Nysse, we’re running out of time.” After a moment, he shifts and the ropes fall away. The cat hops off the cot.
Rhoelyn She scrambles to wrap her arms around him and hold him back, “We can’t!” He shifts back into a night elf and lifts Nysse in his arms.
Araatris Valerio sighs and quietly imposes himself across the hut’s doorway as Nysse protests. “Rhese, y-!” He interrupts. “We should all go. Now.”
Rhoelyn Nysse glares at Rhese, “Why? To go to the machine? To be proper little mindless puppets? We won’t!” Val nods. Wrune joins him at the door.
Araatris “You will!” He pauses, frowns. “No. The orbs hurt you. But if we aren’t in the warren when they start the Machine… I can’t protect you from that!”
Rhoelyn “We need to stop the Machine. Set me down,” Nysse demands, her feet kick at the open air. Rhese growls, “Warrens. I won’t lose you again.”
Araatris “Again?” Nysse stills, confused. She gives Val a questioning look. Val winces and looks over at Wrune. Rhese continues, “We only have until sundown.”
Rhoelyn Nysse ignores Rhese and focuses on Wrune’s guilty expression. “Could someone please tell me what he meant? Why are you looking like that?”
Araatris Wrune scratches his cheek, unable to meet her eyes. “After the ritual, you… Well, you were gone. Rhese was- He and the moonwell brought you back.”
Rhoelyn “Oh.” Nysse is at a loss for words. Wrune mumbles, “He asked us not to tell you.” Rhese stares at her, “We have to go. I won’t let anyone hurt you.”
Araatris Calinea steps up quietly. “Why do you say we only have until sundown, Rhese? They wanted to replace the Chosen we’ve freed. It’ll take time.”
Rhoelyn “Replacements were found. The Machine activates at dusk.” Rhese steps to the doorway, “Step aside.” Nysse finally speaks, “Do as he says.”
Araatris Valerio frowns at Nysse. “You’re joking. We cannot just walk into the warrens with a fraction of our team and no plan. We’ll have no chance.”
Rhoelyn Nysse lays her head on Rhese’s chest, “Where do you think the rest of the team is, Val? This place is empty. Our only chance is freeing them.”
Araatris Grimacing, the hunter looks at Cal and Wrune. “It sounds like a slim chance.” Shadow pipes up. “I’m game! When you untie me. And gimme m’blades.”
Rhoelyn Cal nods at Wrune. He heads back to release Shadow. Cal ponders, “Not as bad as you think. They’re all connected, so Machine can guide them.”
Araatris Rhese growls, but Nysse pats his arm. “We can all go. Just be a little patient. And please put me down,” she says. “You’re tired,” he responds.
Rhoelyn Nysse smiles, “I’m fine. But we’ll need our gear. Why do you think I’m tired?” Shadow joins the others as Rhese answers, “You told Valerio.”
Araatris Nysse blushes, asking, “How long were you awake?” Before he can respond,Val steps closer to interject, “Are we going to leave him like… this?”
Rhoelyn Rhese growls at Val and holds Nysse tighter. Cal holds up a hand, “Rhese, I need to tend to her injury.” She points at Nysse’s bruise.
Araatris Rhese stares at Calinea warily for a long moment before gently sliding Nysse to her feet. Though he keeps her hand gripped in his, he nods.
Rhoelyn Nysse smiles gratefully. Calinea places her hand on the ranger’s arm allowing a soft glow to suffuse the area, “We need him as is, Valerio.”
Araatris Val glowers at her, but doesn’t argue. “In that case, I side with the mad bear. Let’s get this over with.” He grabs his gear and stalks out.
Rhoelyn Cal steps away. Nysse gathers her equipment with Rhese’s help. She pauses by the door and her voice cracks, “I was hoping you’d heal him…”
Araatris “I know.” Calinea sighs and rubs her forehead. “I’m truly sorry, but we need every advantage we can get. The Taken have instant intel.”
Rhoelyn Nysse nods, “Come on, Rhese.” She stands off to the side and talks softly to him, “We’ll leave as soon as they’re ready. It won’t be long.”
Araatris By midday, they find themselves in the warren of tunnels under the Black Temple. Rhese leads them deftly around the few remaining Taken patrols.
Rhoelyn “Rhese, are we safe here for the moment?” Nysse looks over her shoulder. He nods. “Good.” She leans back against a wall with closed eyes.
Araatris He steps up to her, putting a hand on her arm. “Are they bothering you, again?” Calinea approaches as well while the others scout ahead.
Rhoelyn Nysse nods, “The buzz breaks through this close. I just need to rest a moment.” Cal asks, “Can you hold up?” Nysse frowns, “For now… yes”
Araatris Rhese frowns, taking her hand. He looks at Calinea. “Shield her,” he demands. “Like Rhoelyn does.” Cal shakes her head. “It’s too much, here.”
Rhoelyn “She’s right, Rhese. I’ll be alright.” She squeezes his hand and pulls him closer. To Calinea, she asks, “What’s our next step from here?”
Araatris “Ideally, we free our team,” she answers, looking once more at Rhese. “Can you tell where the others are?” He narrows his eyes at her. “Why?”
Rhoelyn “Because my head hurts, Rhese, and all I want is to see our friends,” Nysse snaps irritably. “Sorry. Please tell her, Rhese.” She rubs her head.
Araatris He frowns at her before looking back at Cal. “I’ll bring them here. You can wait. But I’m taking Nysse to Rhoelyn.” He tugs her hand. “Come.”
Rhoelyn Nysse doesn’t have the energy resist and follows Rhese, “Rhoelyn took Kaerryn to Darnassus, remember?” He shakes his head, “She’s here.”
Araatris Calinea grabs his arm, earning herself a snarl. “What do you mean?” He repeats himself at a growl. “Rhoelyn is here. She’s at the Machine.”
Rhoelyn Nysse pales, “Rhoelyn is at the Machine. You’re taking me… I can’t do that. I’ll be Taken.” Cal releases his arm, “Why is Rhoelyn there?”
Araatris “We destroyed the orbs. The power source. The Machine needs a new one.” Rhese says it coldly, his grip on Nysse’s hand is unrelenting.
Rhoelyn “She’s your sister!” Nysse gasps. He pulls behind him, “You need to see Rhoelyn.” When she fights back, he tosses her over his shoulder.
Araatris “That’s enough.” Calinea steps up and grabs him once more, this time with her hand and eyes aglow with magic. “Just how deep have you sunk?”
Rhoelyn He shakes his head. Calinea frowns and the glow intensifies. Rhese blinks in confusion. “Cal, what’s goin–nevermind.” He sets Nysse down gently.
Araatris Releasing her hand, he takes a long minute to process, his expression shifting a few times. “Agh!” He punches the wall, grimacing.
Rhoelyn Nysse winces, but leans back against the wall. He punches it again before Cal grabs the fist and heals it. Nysse reaches over to touch his arm.
Araatris “Nysse…” He reaches for her gently for the first time in a while, letting her close the distance willingly. “I’m sorry, lovely. I’m SO sorry.”
Rhoelyn She hugs him tightly, her face buried against his chest. Calinea turns away as Nysse’s shoulders begin to shake. “I missed you so much, Rhese.”
Araatris Rhese holds her, his expression pained. “I’m back. Shhh…” He catches Cal’s gaze over her head, and it becomes more of an oath. “I’m back.”
Rhoelyn After a couple of minutes, Nysse takes a deep breath and rubs at her eyes, “Sorry, everything’s been a bit overwhelming. I’m better now.”
Araatris Rhese brushes her hair back, keeping an arm around her. He looks at Cal as the others return. “Max and the rest will start arriving here, soon.”
Rhoelyn Cal looks at him thoughtfully, “Do you think they’ll cooperate?” Rhese frowns, “I’m not sure, Cal. You may want to call back the others.”
Araatris “We’re here, already.” Val pauses beside Rhese and Nysse, folding his arms. “You sound less like a Dire Bear, my friend.” Rhese grins weakly.
Rhoelyn “I owe you a night of drinks, Val.” Rhese glances at Nysse to catch her rubbing her temples, “Is it worse, Lovely?” She nods, “A little.”
Araatris Though Cal’s hands glow as she reaches out and touches Nysse, the effect is minimal. “You’ll have to stay with Rhese. It’s the best we can do.”
Rhoelyn Nysse smiles, “Thank you.” She moves and points to a corner area, “We don’t have much time. Let’s set up there. Cal, do you need to prepare?”
Araatris Calinea shakes her head, determination narrowing her eyes. “I’ve had enough time. Let us get our team back, shall we?” They take positions.
Rhoelyn Shortly, the first shadowy figure is seen in the far tunnel. Nysse advises, “I’ll be the last resort.” She keeps her bow ready, but not raised.
Araatris Rhese nods at her as Maxinquay approaches warily, his hand on the hilt of his Runeblade. The druid takes a couple of steps forward. “Here.”
Rhoelyn Nysse mumbles where Rhese can hear, “Or first in his case.” Rhese lays a hand on her shoulder and orders, “Cal. Val. Check Max for injuries.”
Araatris As they approach him, Max frowns, stepping back into a ready stance. “They are not ours. What’s going on, here?” His eyes narrow dangerously.
Rhoelyn Rhese tightens his grip on her shoulder, “They have agreed to assist with Machine willingly as long as their friends are not harmed. Submit.”
Araatris Max considers this for a moment, unmoving. “You aren’t–” He’s interrupted when a concussive shot slams into his chest. “Nysse!” Rhese scolds.
Rhoelyn “He wasn’t cooperating. I didn’t want him alerting anyone,” Nysse’s even tone belies the slight smug grin of satisfaction. Cal hurries to Max.
Araatris Rhese smirks and gives her shoulder a pinch, saying nothing. After Cal cleanses him, Max sits up, rubbing his chest. “Uncalled for. Slightly.”
Rhoelyn Nysse snickers, “More than slightly considering what you implied.” Valerio makes a sharp motion for silence and points down the tunnel.
Araatris In ones and twos, the remaining members of their team return and are cleansed by Calinea’s magic. It costs another precious hour of the day.
Rhoelyn Nysse sits close to Rhese, holding his hand. “That’s everyone except-” Rhese finishes with an anxious look, “Rhoelyn.” Valerio confirms.
Araatris Nysse squeezes his hand, aware of the tension he’s been trying to conceal as time passed. He stands, helping her up. “I know how to get there.”
Rhoelyn “I don’t think I can make it all the way there. It’d better for me to stay here,” Nysse offers. “You can’t take care of me and rescue Rhoelyn.”
Araatris Rhese shakes his head, regarding her with worry. They have relative privacy while the others are preparing to leave. “How can I leave you here?”
Rhoelyn “Don’t look like that. I’m a ranger.” She smiles gently, “I’ll go if you’re that concerned, but we’ll have to determine how to deal with it.”
Araatris “I’m sorry, Nysse.” He rests a hand against her cheek. “This is going to be hard for you, either way. Don’t ask me to leave you here alone.”
Rhoelyn Nysse blushes and glances at the others. “I don’t want to put any of you at risk and…” She hesitates, “I’m scared. I died, Rhese. What if-.”
Araatris “No if,” he pulls her close. “I’ll drag you back from wherever you try to go, Nysse, until you tell me not to. And even then I might not listen.”
Rhoelyn “Why didn’t you tell me?” She leans close to his ear until he feels her breath on his cheek, “That hurt the most. Don’t you believe in me?”
Araatris “No.” His voice is hoarse as he whispers. “No. Never that. I just… When I thought I’d lost you…” He just buries his face against her shoulder.
Rhoelyn Starled, Nysse stiffens briefly before relaxing, “I’m sorry that wasn’t fair.” Her fingers tangle in his hair. “I’ll go. I trust you, Rhese.”
Araatris Drawing a deep breath, he squeezes her tightly before releasing her. When he lifts his head, his lips twist up. “You still smell like the swamp.”
Rhoelyn Nysse punches his shoulder, “Let’s go. I think they’re officially waiting on us now.” Valerio leans against the wall and pointedly looks at them.
Araatris Blushing, Rhese straightens his mace in its sheath over his back and strides past Val. “Shut up,” he grumbles as his friend grins knowingly.

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