Chapter 15 : The Price of Silence
**Araatris:** The silver saber crouches on a thick tree limb, narrowed eyes fixed on the small camp below as his tail twitches back and forth in moody irritation.
**Araatris:** His ears flick once as a dim shadow passes over him, and he glances up only to huff and turn his head back down. A stormcrow alights beside him.
**Rhoelyn:** The larger crow shifts into his night elven form. “I do not believe this is what they had in mind for us to hunt, cub. What are you planning?”
**Araatris:** Rhese shifts, balanced in a crouch, and he mumbles, surly, “I’m picking my targets.” His luminous amber gaze drifts over the Horde party below.
**Rhoelyn:** “It is not wise to call attention to ourselves. There will be enough enemies to fight on our mission. We should hunt for food.” Verune rumbles.
**Araatris:** The younger elf sneers, his grip on the bark tightening. “Didn’t you hear, Verune? I’m not on the mission. You hunt your prey, and I’ll hunt mine.”
**Rhoelyn:** His mentor looks at him evenly. “I heard a woman who was terrified and in pain, cub. She should not have lashed out, but neither should you.”
**Araatris:** Rhese scowls and stares down in sullen silence for a while before he mutters, “She wants me to just… just assume Leothir and Relare are… safe.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Does she assume they are safe or does she have reason? Why trust them and not others? She was eager to fight the forsaken,” Verune presses.
**Araatris:** “They’ve been helping the girls with their salvation mission, apparently.” The answer comes with a bitter edge. “Of course she’d trust them.”
**Rhoelyn:** Verune settles back on his heels, reviewing the camp below. “And their help means that she should be more suspicious instead of trusting?”
**Araatris:** Rhese glares down at an orc walking between the few tents. “How many of those murderers down there ‘helped’ right beside us against the Legion?”
**Rhoelyn:** “That is true, but the brothers weren’t fighting the Legion. They wanted to protect your wife while she searched for you.” He turns his eyes to Rhese.
**Araatris:** His former protege doesn’t look at him. “Allegiances change over time, old man. Yesterday’s loyalties die too easily. Leothir has been Horde (c)
**Araatris:** (c) for decades. His brother might be… more complicated, but this timeline’s Relare was Horde, too.” He clenches his fist. “Being our family is… newer.”
**Rhoelyn:** “It is newer for you than for them. Perhaps it is finally time to talk to them about what happened in Pandaria.” The older night elf suggests.
**Araatris:** That earns Verune the younger man’s full attention, and he looks over, scowling. “You think I haven’t asked? They don’t trust me to know.”
**Rhoelyn:** Verune raises bushy eyebrows. “I wasn’t thinking that you ask the women. Ask Leothir what happened. If he is trustworthy, then he’ll tell you.”
**Araatris:** Trying to hide his hurt at the topic, Rhese just snorts and turns his attention back to the camp. “Why should I bother?” The elder druid sighs.
**Rhoelyn:** “Do you wish to stay at odds with your mate? I thought you were both better than that.” Verune follows Rhese’s gaze back to the orc.
**Araatris:** The young father droops, shoulders rounding. “No… of course I don’t want to fight with her. Not even a little bit. I just… I just want to fight.”
**Rhoelyn:** “We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t wish to, but fight the ones actually causing the harm.” He gestures below. “And speak with those at the cave.”
**Araatris:** Rhese sighs, but after a few heartbeats he smirks and looks over at his mentor. “Which leads us back to why you found me in this tree…”
**Rhoelyn:** Verune snorts quietly. “I have a proposal. I will assist you, then you will hunt with me. And finally, you will speak with Leothir. Agreed?”
**Araatris:** The younger druid gives him a little grin. “We kill them all?” His former teacher raises a brow. “They are trespassing in our lands, aren’t they?”
**Rhoelyn:** “Do not let bloodlust overwhelm you, cub, but yes, we will grant them release.” He looks down below. “Shall we teach them a lesson?”
**Araatris:** Beside him, Rhese leans forward with a vicious grin. “Yes, please, shan’do,” he says with an old respect in his voice. He leaps silently down.
**Rhoelyn:** The elder druid changes into a stormcrow and dives into the camp, distracting the small group from his student at the edge of the clearing.
**Araatris:** Dragging his polearm from the harness on his back, Rhese changes his form by drawing the stars into himself, his body going silver and astral.
**Rhoelyn:** The orc shouts bringing another orc and troll out from their tents. They scramble for their weapons while Verune lands with an ursine roar.
**Araatris:** The younger night elf’s silver-blue eyes glance up at the eclipsed moon, and power draws into his fists. “Now!” he shouts when it surges.
**Rhoelyn:** The bear shifts back to a stormcrow, launching into the sky and away from the trio. He circles back around to Rhese as the air crackles.
**Araatris:** Arcane power falls from the sky in head-sized, burning, twinkling meteoric stars, a hail of destructive magic that rains on the camp.
**Rhoelyn:** His shan’do lands next to him as a night elf and regards the scene evenly. When it ends, the three Horde lie in the clearing unmoving.
**Araatris:** The tent burns with a silver-blue flame, its red and black fabric soon turning into a conflagration of unnatural fire. The younger druid sneers.
**Rhoelyn:** Verune grumbles softly. “Do not take pride in what is necessary. They have lost their path.” He rests a large hand on Rhese’s shoulder.
**Araatris:** The younger elf says, his star-rich gaze still on the camp, “I try to remind myself of that, sometimes. But then I remember that hour in Darnassus.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nodding, Verune concedes. “That is true. We do deserve vengeance for what we lost, but we must not become them.” He squeezes the shoulder.
**Araatris:** Rhese lets his astral form slip away and frowns over at him. “I’m not like them. But every one I kill is one less who can threaten the children.”
**Rhoelyn:** One of the orcs in the camp groans. Rhese looks sharply at Verune before striding towards the injured Horde. The orc stirs with a pained grimace.
**Araatris:** The night elf flips his polearm over his hand when he shoves his boot against the Horde soldier’s chest, rolling him to his back and pinning him.
**Rhoelyn:** Blinking, the orc opens his eyes. He stills and stares up at the druid, his eyes momentarily lingering on the weapon. He closes his eyes again.
**Araatris:** Rhese snarls and points the wicked, gleaming metal blade of his weapon at the soldier’s barrel chest. His orcish is poor. “Should fire you to dead.”
**Araatris:** The druid juts his chin toward the burning tent, pressing his polearm menacingly over his victim’s heart. “Fire death like my clan would justice.”
**Rhoelyn:** The orc jerks his head in a nod. “Then I will die. Better for it to be under your hand than hers.” He doesn’t explain the woman he mentions.
**Araatris:** Curiosity pausing his hand, the night elf frowns and asks, “Who is? Queen of Dead?” Verune grimaces and mumbles, “Your orcish hurts my ears, cub.”
**Rhoelyn:** Rhese scowls at Verune’s comment as their enemy nods again. The orc sighs, “Burn us when you are done if you will honor an enemy’s request.”
**Araatris:** The druid sobers, some of the anger leaching out of his expression. “… ashes for all,” he mutters, driving his weapon through the man’s heart.
**Rhoelyn:** Verune silently steps forward, gathering the bodies into one spot. Then he steps back. “He asked you to do it.” He gestures toward the corpses.
**Araatris:** Rhese ponders them coldly for a moment, but without much rancor. He asks, “Do you think many of them are motivated by fear, like that?”
**Rhoelyn:** “Enough, but it doesn’t make it any more right. He accepted his fate as well as he could.” The older druid frowns thoughtfully. “Better than most.”
**Araatris:** His companion nods as the stars wash through his form once more. The power that gathers in his fists is from the absent sun. “Yes. I suppose so.”
**Rhoelyn:** With a burst of light and heat, a fire roars up next to them. Verune stares a moment longer. “Shall we hunt for food now? Nyssera will be hungry.”
**Araatris:** Rhese glances over as his body returns to normal. “No praise for the errant thero’shan who’s finally found use for the owlkin spirit?”
**Rhoelyn:** “The greatest praise is the honor of using it, but, if I must, then… you have made an excellent connection.” His lips curl upwards slightly.
**Araatris:** The younger elf smirks and dryly intones, “All those casting lessons weren’t wasted after all, hm?” He chuckles and turns, beckoning. “To the hunt.”
**Rhoelyn:** Verune snorts and follows. “Every time that I praise you, your head gets too big. I’m glad that you have your sister and mate to keep you in line.”
**Araatris:** Rhese blinks at him. “What are you talking about? I keep them in line.” He pauses before he shifts, admitting, “Well. Sometimes? When they let me.”
**Rhoelyn:** Verune chuckles before shifting into a feline him. He circles around his student and darts into the woods. Rhese grumbles and chases after.
**Araatris:** A few hours later, as the dim version of day starts to fade back toward something resembling evening, Faye stands from her post, drawing her glaive.
**Rhoelyn:** The underbrush rustles as a silver cat exits, shifting to Rhese. “Faye, everything been quiet?” A stag comes out with a package on his back.
**Araatris:** The sentinel can’t quite help but look relieved as she stowes her weapon back in its harness. “Quiet, yes. The others have been resting.”
**Rhoelyn:** Rhese nods and relieves Verune of his burden. “Good. They need the rest. We brought back enough food that it should last a day or two.”
**Araatris:** Faye pats the stag’s furred shoulder, pleased. “Hearty meals will do us all good.” Her stomach growls, and Rhese gives her an amused look.
**Rhoelyn:** “I expected that of Nysse, but not you, Faye. We’ll eat soon.” He chuckles and removes the last bit from the stag’s back, allowing him to shift.
**Araatris:** She smirks and waves a dismissive hand. “Simply because Nyssera needs the most food does not mean that she is the only one who needs any.”
**Rhoelyn:** Verune snorts. “He is driven by his mate’s stomach, Fayrial. He forgets that even he needs food.” Rhese snorts. “We ate during the hunt, old man.”
**Araatris:** “So that you could get some before you devoted all your effort to feeding Nyssera?” his mentor teases. The young man grimaces. “… Maybe.”
**Rhoelyn:** The sentinel smiles and nudges him inside. “Then you should get to work. She’ll likely wake at the smell of food.” Verune passes them, chuckling.
**Araatris:** Rhese groans, lugging the meat with him. “You’re right. I’ve become a slave to her stomach. But she’s more likely to forgive me if she’s full.”
**Rhoelyn:** The elder druid comments quietly, loud enough for him, “Remember to keep your head. It will not help any of us if you are both at odds again.”
**Araatris:** That earns him a mumbled, “Yes, poppabear,” before the pair of them fall silent, walking into the quiet cavern. Galandrie is the first to look up.
**Rhoelyn:** The blood elf shifts uncomfortably, but stays where she is. Rhese’s eyes pass over her at the sound of quiet whines from the other corner.
**Araatris:** He sets the packages of meat by the fire and heads over to where his lovely wife squirms in her sleep, her hand clenching in Tsume’s fur.
**Rhoelyn:** Her face scrunches in a pained expression, her skin damp with perspiration as her body twitches and jerks. Tsume lifts her head to look at him.
**Araatris:** The druid quietly settles by his love’s blanket and glances at the wolf before he leans over and rests a big hand on Nysse’s head, cupping her hair.
**Rhoelyn:** Though it takes a moment, she calms under the familiar touch. The huntress sniffles and sleepily turns toward the hand, reaching for it.
**Araatris:** Her mate grins quietly, amused as always as she snags it and tugs it against her cheek, nuzzling in and settling back down. Tsume’s tail flops.
**Rhoelyn:** Rhese places a finger to his lips as he glances at the wolf and while the tail waggles more softly, her large wolfish grins remains.
**Araatris:** Even Verune’s stern face softens to watch them, and he quietly sets to work on food under Galandrie’s fel-green gaze. The others sleep on.
**Rhoelyn:** The sin’dorei glances at Relare’s sleeping face thoughtfully before nodding to herself. She shuffles over to Verune at the fire. “May I help?”
**Araatris:** For a moment, the elder considers her without a word, but finally, he nods. As they set to work, he comments, “You were a prisoner of the Forsaken?”
**Rhoelyn:** “Yes, disobedience to a commander and abandonment of post.” She drops the vegetable slices into the pot. “I shouldn’t have ever come here.”
**Araatris:** Even asleep, Nysse frowns at the tension that ripples through Rhese as he listens to their chat. He sighs and tries to relax, stroking her cheek.
**Rhoelyn:** Verune continues his work, allowing her to talk. Landrie rubs her forehead with the back of her hand. “I’m a soldier and I’ve seen battle…”
**Rhoelyn:** “But this isn’t war. This is genocide. Even with the disagreements between our peoples, I’d never condone an attack on innocents like this.”
**Araatris:** The elder druid nods as he slices some venison. “War is a soldier’s burden. I have pondered your Queen’s purpose in burning the Tree at length.”
**Rhoelyn:** Galandrie stares at the carrot in front of her. “Not mine. They’re no better than the Scourge that attacked Silvermoon… and I have no answer.”
**Araatris:** The night elven scholar sighs. “I have no answers, either. Theories, yes. But no answers.” Rhese mutters quietly, “Answers won’t change anything.”
**Rhoelyn:** His mate stirs at the sound of his voice, frowning at the tone. “Mmm?” The sin’dorei at the fire sighs. “Then you have more than me, old one.”
**Araatris:** The druid softly shushes as if he were dealing with one of the children, stroking Nysse’s cheek gently. Verune glances at Rhese.
**Araatris:** “No answers can change the past, cub, but the right answers can change the future.” The younger night elf says nothing, watching Nysse.
**Rhoelyn:** The frown fades after a moment, but she curls closer to him. Rhese risks another quiet comment. “I don’t see how. It won’t change their minds.”
**Araatris:** Galandrie looks over as his mentor says, “Perhaps not. But the humans say ‘All stories have two sides.’ We would benefit from knowing the other.”
**Rhoelyn:** “I’ll share what I can. Since I’m not likely to be counted as a friend of the Alliance, I’ll head my own way when we’re done.” Landrie offers.
**Araatris:** Rhese goes silent rather than ask anything, even the question he only recently put to Verune. He just concentrates on his mate, jaw tight.
**Rhoelyn:** Verune regards his student before stirring the stew. Galandrie grimaces. “Yes, this is going well. Please just tell me the food is ready.”
**Araatris:** The elder druid snorts. “You have clearly never made a stew. It takes time and effort, as do all things worth pursuing. A lesson I teach often.”
**Rhoelyn:** Landrie’s shoulders slump. “Not really. We don’t do foods that take long to cook on the road. It’s usually rations.” Tsume noses into Rhoelyn’s arms.
**Araatris:** The healer startles, dark eyes focusing again as she lifts them from a blank stare at the cave wall. She rubs Tsume’s ear and snuggles in, yawning.
**Rhoelyn:** The wolf licks Rhoelyn’s cheek and settles down next to the priestess. Galandrie startles, caught watching them, when Verune whispers to her.
**Araatris:** “Your hunger shows in your gaze, malanore Lightspring.” His gaze stays on the simmering food. “Do you dread the consequences of your choice?”
**Rhoelyn:** She mumbles in return. “Soldiers aren’t supposed to have regrets, old one. Yet, I do. Not only for what I’ve done, but for what I won’t have.”
**Araatris:** His lips lift in a small grin that makes her frown. “I don’t see anything to smile about,” she complains. “Look around this cave, traveler.”
**Rhoelyn:** Landrie’s gaze flickers around. “A human soldier. Two sin’dorei struggling to prove themselves. And… a family dealing with their loss.”
**Araatris:** The elder nods. “You forgot the wandering soldier who worries about being alone when already she is not.” He glances sidelong at her.
**Rhoelyn:** “Do you mean the one outs–” The sin’dorei stops abruptly realizing what he meant. “Don’t be ridiculous, old one. I’ll have to leave soon.”
**Araatris:** “You have an open road before you,” Verune points out, pausing to poke the spoon at some tubers and see if they’re soft. “As well as all its forks.”
**Rhoelyn:** Galandrie sighs and looks up at the ceiling. “Perhaps. I’ll… think on it. I don’t have to leave just yet.” Across the cave, Nysse’s belly rumbles.
**Araatris:** Rhoe lifts onto her elbow and glances over her shoulder at Nysse before raising her gaze to her brother’s. They share matching amused looks.
**Rhoelyn:** Grinning, the druid twists toward Verune. “We don’t have long, poppabear. Is the food almost ready?” Rhoelyn rubs Tsume absentmindedly.
**Araatris:** “Yes,” he answers. “It will be ready soon.” He nods as his twin drapes across Nysse’s wolf, resting her cheek on her fur and mumbling, “As will she.”
**Rhoelyn:** Rhese nods in agreement with his sister, continuing to stroke his wife’s cheek. He shushes Nysse’s incoherent mumble. “Rest a bit longer, lovely.”
**Araatris:** Before too long, the scent of food has more than just the huntress stirring. Kaerryn yawns and stretches with a clank, her gauntlet hitting rock.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse jerks awake with a terrified gasp, sitting up and reaching for her weapon. The druid catches her hands. “Shhh. It was just Kaerryn.”
**Araatris:** His mate blinks dark eyes at him for a pair of heartbeats before she droops, shuddering. Rhese leans forward and tugs her into his embrace.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse sniffles, rubbing her eyes with the back of one hand. “R-rhese…” She lays her head against his chest. “I thought you’d still be angry…”
**Araatris:** Rhese sighs and kisses her temple with a resigned grin. “I can never stay mad at you when you’re whining in your sleep like a tumbling pup.”
**Rhoelyn:** His mate flushes darkly and she ducks her head. “N-no. Please tell me I wa-wasn’t…” At Rhese’s consoling pat, she groans and hides her face.
**Araatris:** Rhoe rolls over beside her and wraps her arms around both of them, whispering by her ear. “They were very nearly all asleep, sister. Do not fret.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse gives her a sheepish nod. “Thank Elune.” She lingers in their combined embrace despite her growing hunger. “I’m glad you’re both here.”
**Araatris:** The druid smiles and kisses two soft cheeks before Rhoe pulls back and looks over. Verune brings a bowl of stew for Nysse, still steaming.
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress quickly shifts to take the bowl while leaning against Rhese. “Thank you, Verune.” She digs in ravenously. “Ah! It’s delicious.”
**Araatris:** Rhoe squirms around to put her back to the wall and settles there, stroking Tsume when the wolf immediately lays her head in her lap.
**Rhoelyn:** The elder druid smiles. “There will be more when you’re ready.” He and Galandrie work their way around the cave, handing out bowls of food.
**Araatris:** After a while, when Rhoe still sits with her full bowl cupped in her hands, Tsume nudges her elbow. She just gives the wolf a distracted pat.
**Rhoelyn:** “Sister… aren’t you hungry? You haven’t been eating much. Are you tired of stew?” Nyssera pauses on her third bowl and regards her worriedly.
**Araatris:** The healer glances back from where her thoughts were, dark eyes focusing on Nysse, and she smiles gently. “I am not hungry, yes. Will you have it?”
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress frowns. “You need to eat. Should I go fetch some herbs and greens? Maybe I can make you a salad.” She takes Rhoelyn’s bowl.
**Araatris:** “I would not ask it. I am simply n-” She glances up as Leo walks over and settles down at her side. “You must eat, princess.” Rhese tenses.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse looks over her shoulder, fixing Rhese with a hard look. The mage continues, “You won’t keep your strength up without a bit more food.”
**Araatris:** The huntress’ mate initially frowns back, but he sighs and glances away, clearing his expression. Rhoelyn sighs as well. “Perhaps a carrot?”
**Rhoelyn:** “Your wish is my command, princess.” Leo pushes to his feet and retrieves a carrot and a sweet fruit from their supplies. “Carrot and fruit.”
**Araatris:** With a little, amused grin, she takes them both. “Thank you, my dawn.” He settles down next to her, determined to help Nysse see that she eats.
**Rhoelyn:** The priestess nibbles at the carrot. Nysse looks at her lap and murmurs to Rhese, “You haven’t eaten either, beloved. Do you want Rhoelyn’s bowl?”
**Araatris:** Rhese pulls his attention away from his sister and her unacknowledged mate to smirk at Nysse. “Yes, please. I’m used to eating her food for her.”
**Rhoelyn:** She passes it to him. “Perhaps, but I still worry a bit. And… I feel greedy.” Nysse clears her throat and leans over to finish her own food.
**Araatris:** Her husband steals a kiss from her cheek between bites and reminds her, “Rhoe has been this way since long before you could eat her share.”
**Rhoelyn:** “I know, but I still feel guilty.” She smiles shyly at Rhoelyn’s amused expression. “So… what do we do now? Hunt the forsaken or seek wisps?”
**Araatris:** Rhese, Leothir and Kaerryn answer at the exact same time, “Hunt the Forsaken.” And the human adds, “No rotting question.” Rhoe frowns.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse replies firmly, “I wasn’t asking you, but my sister. This is her mission.” She looks at the others. “Her mission comes before vengeance.”
**Araatris:** The priestess looks relieved and rests a hand on Nysse’s leg. “Thank you.” She looks at Leo and Rhese in turn. “I must return to my calling.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Princess, I’m not sure you can continue in safety unless we can remove that threat. They’ll come for you again.” Leothir reasons with her.
**Araatris:** She kisses his cheek, taking his hand. “They will come. And so I will save more of the lost, and you will not need to hunt for them at all.”
**Rhoelyn:** He looks at Rhese then back to her. “And if they bring backup? It’s better to meet them where we choose, isn’t it?” He pats her hand gently.
**Araatris:** The healer gives a small smile and looks down at their hands. “We will choose. In that place, the spirits wait, and our enemies will find us.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse asks tentatively, “Did you have another vision, sister? During the… fit at the camp?” She bites her lip, unable to see Rhese’s expression.
**Araatris:** His voice reveals plenty about it, though. “Wait. What?” Rhoe blushes and continues as if he hadn’t spoken. “Yes, Nysse. I see more and more.”
**Rhoelyn:** Leothir rubs his face at the druid’s expression. “Perhaps you should both explain fully what these fits are about. Rhese needs to know.”
**Araatris:** The priestess and huntress share a look before Rhoelyn nods. “Brother, I… see what can come.” His expression darkens as she explains her fits.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse’s voice is hushed and she sets her empty bowl aside. “They’ve been happening since we came to Boralus, but Rhoe didn’t want to worry us.”
**Araatris:** The look the druid gives his sister is as wounded as the one Nysse tried to hide when she found out. “Rhoe? Why would-” He cuts off, pained.
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress doesn’t offer any other explanation, but grips his hand supportively. Her gaze holds Rhoelyn’s then breaks away guiltily.
**Araatris:** The healer winces and looks around at their audience, her cheeks darkening. She mumbles, “I never… w-wished to hurt either of you.”
**Rhoelyn:** “I know you didn’t, sister. We may not be able to stop your fits, but we could have supported you.” Nysse grimaces under the curious looks.
**Araatris:** Verune leans in, interested. “You have no idea what causes these… fits?” Rhese scowls at him and nearly dumps Nysse as he hops to his feet.
**Rhoelyn:** “Oomf!” Nysse is knocked to the side, but catches herself on her hands. The elder druid waves for Rhese to settle down. “We need to know.”
**Araatris:** The druid stills, his fists clenched. Leothir watches him as Rhoelyn shakes her head. “I know… th- the Apothecary had a drug that could, and -”
**Rhoelyn:** “And that’s what caused the wave of magic just before we got there,” Verune finishes. Nysse and Rhoelyn both nod. “They were… fascinated with us.”
**Araatris:** Relare drapes his wrist over his knee. “So that’s why they were fighting so hard to drag Rhoe with them? And why you’re so sure they’ll be back.”
**Rhoelyn:** Verune nods to himself. “Then we should spend our time preparing for them to return. You’ll be sure to tell us if you feel another fit then?”
**Araatris:** Rhoe nods and looks over at her brother. “I swear it.” She shoves to her feet, stepping over to him. “I am sorry, Rhese. I j-” He pulls away.
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress watches the twins. “Rhoelyn, you… you may need to give him a moment. Rhese, why don’t you trade with Faye so she can eat?”
**Araatris:** “Fine,” he says softly. He looks from Rhoe to her for a moment before he turns away, grabbing his polearm on the way out. His sister sniffles.
**Rhoelyn:** Pushing to her feet, Nysse stands and steps over to Rhoelyn and wraps her arms around her. “He’ll talk to you once he’s had time, sister.”
**Araatris:** The priestess nods and turns into her, hiding her face as she tries to wipe her eyes. “O-of course,” she says, subdued. Leo stares after the druid.