Chapter 22: Sun and Gold
**Araatris:** By the time they reach the shade of a low, crumbled wall that juts up out of the sand, they are all hot and thirsty. Rel lays his burden down gently.
**Rhoelyn:** He hovers a glowing hand over her. “She’s stable. Verune, do you need help first?” The druid snorts. “I’m perfectly capable of healing myself.”
**Araatris:** Leo yawns and settles against a rolling rise of sand, leaning back tiredly while the paladin’s magic and the druid’s both glow nearby.
**Rhoelyn:** Landrie groans and her hand raises enough to brush against Relare’s fingers. “It’s fine, Galandrie. We’re not in danger. Leo burned the bugs.”
**Araatris:** She grimaces and nods lethargically, slurring, “Lil’ rotter stung me.” He nods. “The poison is cleansed, but I imagine you’re feeling rough.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Rough.” Galandrie reaches up and pokes at his stubble. “Like ‘his. Y’look fine tho’. Nawt rough.” Relare resists chuckling as he grasps her hand.
**Araatris:** “That’s very kind of you to say,” he mutters, testing her forehead with his other hand. “You need to drink. It’s getting hotter by the minute.”
**Rhoelyn:** The young woman nods again, not fighting when he lifts her head and puts the waterskin to her lips. Rel cautions, “Just a little bit at a time.”
**Araatris:** Verune goes over to sit beside Leothir, following his interested gaze to his brother and their newest companion. The mage grins, narrowing his eyes.
**Rhoelyn:** “You look rather… pleased.” The elder druid comments. “I’m not sure that he’s seeing what you’re seeing.” He looks at the mage.
**Araatris:** Leo smirks. “Oh, he never does, ‘old bear’. But it amuses me to watch him be oblivious.” He flops back and changes the subject. “When can we move?”
**Rhoelyn:** “We should wait until night. We aren’t equipped to handle the sun, and it’ll give her time to rest.” The druid crosses his legs in front of him.
**Araatris:** The young man frowns, squinting up at the bright sky. “Maybe I can keep moving while you lot rest. I-” Verune pauses him with a hand on his arm.
**Rhoelyn:** The druid’s voice is firm. “No, Leothir. The desert is not someplace I recommend anyone going on ahead, including myself. It is better to wait.”
**Araatris:** Leo closes his eyes and grimaces. “Yes… I suppose.” He flops his arm down by his side and stays there for precisely four seconds before he sits up.
**Rhoelyn:** Raising one eyebrow, Verune snorts, crossing his arms, too. “What are you up to? I’ve seen that look on the cub before, and it always means trouble.”
**Araatris:** The blood elf drapes his arms over his knees and shoots the elf a droll look. “And which cub would that be? Everyone is a cub to you, old man.”
**Rhoelyn:** “My grown student, your brother.” The night elf answers matter-of-factly. “Now what are you planning?” He leans forward, narrowing his eyes.
**Araatris:** Leo groans. “I’m not certain what’s worse, Verune: that you think I’m the type to cause trouble or that you compare me to Rhese?” He rubs his face.
**Rhoelyn:** The druid chuckles. “There are worse things. I’m certain your blood brother would agree. Shall I call him over? Perhaps he can keep an eye on you.”
**Araatris:** Sobering, the blood elf shakes his head. “Relare isn’t so good at keeping me out of trouble. He’s better at bailing me out after I start something.”
**Rhoelyn:** The druid regards him seriously and then nods. “Well, perhaps you could entertain yourself by seeing just how oblivious your brother truly is.”
**Araatris:** “I appreciate what you’re trying to do, Verune,” the young elf says, rubbing a hand through the shade-cool sand. “But unless Rel can produce a Bro-”
**Rhoelyn:** A large shadow passes over them, a long serpentine body with two wings. “A dragon! We need to follow it!” The mage surges to his feet.
**Araatris:** “Wait!” Verune leaps up too slowly to stop him as Leo blinks beyond the ruins’ wall, taking off at a run and giving himself a large head start.
**Rhoelyn:** The druid shouts at Relare. “He’s chasin-” “I saw. We’ll follow. Can you carry her?” The druid nods and shifts to a stag, joining them.
**Araatris:** As the paladin is helping Galandrie get settled on Verune’s back, the mound they’d just been leaning on shudders, rivulets of sand breaking free.
**Rhoelyn:** A great head rises from the sand and turns to settle on them. They back away from it, the paladin supporting a groggy and confused Landrie.
**Araatris:** “Loud,” comes the rumble from the huge dragon’s golden throat, a sound that rings with a chest-vibrating timbre. “You make it hard to nap, you know.”
**Rhoelyn:** Relare blinks, staring up at the great dragon. “By the Light… we were looking for a dragon, but I didn’t realize that we were resting on one!”
**Araatris:** The creature lowers his broad snout and huffs into Rel’s face. “The typical consequence of waking a sleeping dragon is getting eaten, I think.”
**Rhoelyn:** The paladin swallows nervously. “W-well, it’s not like we knew you were there. I’m surprised that the bugs over there didn’t wake you up first.”
**Araatris:** “I’ll have you know their drone can be very soothing,” comes the conversational response as the dragon pulls back and shoves to his taloned feet.
**Rhoelyn:** The blood elf bows. “We’re sorry we woke you, but my brother just ran off after another dragon. We’re trying to find one called Coridormu.”
**Araatris:** “Hmph.” Stretching his maw up to the sky with a toothy yawn, the being opens out his wings, showering them with sand and shading them at once.
**Rhoelyn:** “Do you know him?” The paladin raises from ducking and dusts off his clothing and armor. He grimaces as some of it falls against his skin.
**Araatris:** Rather than answer, the Bronze shakes his large head like a dog flopping his ears, flicking them once more with sand. “Mortals are exhausting.”
**Rhoelyn:** The paladin covers his face, then glances at the other two and sighs. “If you can’t help us, then we’ll be on our way so can continue your nap.”
**Araatris:** “You see?” With his scales cleared, the dragon’s form begins to shrink. “That’s a perfect example of why I say that, Relare. I know every kin.”
**Rhoelyn:** Relare frowns again. “It seems you took note of my name as well. The only question left is are you willing to assist us in finding your kin?”
**Araatris:** Landrie gapes as the dragon melts, his scales flowing into robes and his features smoothing. “I’m willing to assist you in finding your kin.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nodding, Relare runs a hand through his hair to loosen the sand in it. “We need to find Leo as well.” Landrie stammers, “T-that’s a dragon?”
**Araatris:** As the high elf solidifies, the paladin beside her blinks. He pinches the bridge of his nose. “Cori, you couldn’t just lead with ‘I’m right here’?”
**Araatris:** The apparent-elf grins toothily. “No. Not really.” He winks and turns to Galandrie, bowing. “Coridormu of the Bronze. Yes, a bona fide dragon.”
**Rhoelyn:** The young woman stares in awe, blushing slightly under his regard. “You’re not what I expected.” Relare raises an eyebrow, clearing his throat.
**Araatris:** Verune’s lips quirk up as Landrie’s blush darkens. Cori shakes his head and says, “I hear that quite often. Just what does everyone expect?”
**Rhoelyn:** “You’re exactly what I expected, Cori. Most don’t know that dragons such as yourself can take on a mortal appearance.” Rel answers easily.
**Araatris:** The pale elf chuckles, his golden eyes crinkling at the corners. “You have prior experience to play on, too, tangle.” He yawns and stretches.
**Rhoelyn:** Relare grins and gestures toward where Leo ran. “Shall we go find my brother? Then we can can tell you why we were searching for you.”
**Araatris:** The dragon nods. “Please. I’m not accustomed to mysteries, but the stream is frightfully cloudy around this situation. Consider my curiosity piqued!”
**Rhoelyn:** The paladin leads them forward. “Are you alright with walking or do you have a better idea for getting to Leothir? The heat is a bit much for us.”
**Araatris:** Cori claps his hands. “Walking! How gloriously mortal. The way your fool brother went sprinting off, he won’t have gotten far.” He shakes his head.
**Rhoelyn:** “That’s what I’m afraid of. This sun is harsh.” They pass through the ruins and follow the mage’s footsteps in the sand. Rel squints in the bright light.
**Araatris:** Landrie sits a bit taller on Verune’s back, shielding her eyes with her hand. She points along the trail of bootprints. “Is that Leothir, there?”
**Rhoelyn:** The paladin raises his hand to block the sun as well. “Yes… yes, I think it is. He may be regretting running ahead.” They hurry toward the figure.
**Araatris:** Before they are close enough to see clearly, they can hear Leothir yelling angrily at the top of his lungs, tossing obscenities like fireballs.
**Rhoelyn:** “He’s quite… colorful, isn’t he?” Cori comments with amusement. Relare groans loudly while the warrior behind him dissolves into giggles.
**Araatris:** His rant resolves as they approach from behind him. “… think you’re so great with your big rotting rear end in the sky and me stuck down here!”
**Araatris:** “Well, I’ll find him on my own,” he shouts, sweating and shaking a fist at the empty sky, “you fel-sucking elephant-rat crossbreed whores-”
**Rhoelyn:** “Leo,” Relare firmly interrupts, “Cori is behind you.” The mage turns, scowling, “What are you ta-” Cori waves at him with a broad grin. “Hello.”
**Araatris:** Leothir blinks. Three times. Then he gasps and rushes at the elf-shaped dragon with a relieved look, grabbing him by the upper arms. “Cori!”
**Rhoelyn:** The dragon gently, but firmly pats his head. “Yes, yes. Now I heard that you all might have a mystery for me? Relare made me wait for you.”
**Araatris:** Leo takes long enough to catch his breath before he can answer that Relare gets impatient and steps in. “Excuse my brother. He’s worked up.”
**Rhoelyn:** “We’re here for Rhoelyn. She’s been having fits with visions of the future, but it’s tearing her apart.” The younger sibling explains evenly.
**Araatris:** Leo groans, “You have to help her, Cori. I-” Rel sets a calming hand on his shoulder. The dragon calmly tilts his head. “Ah. That explains it.”
**Rhoelyn:** He crosses his arms and taps his finger thoughtfully against his other arm. “She must still be tied that. That would be why everything is so fuzzy.”
**Araatris:** Verune shifts from hoof to hoof, watching as the dragon mutters mostly to himself while the hot sun beats on them. “Though how it resurged ac-”
**Rhoelyn:** The mage asks impatiently, “So, can you fix it?” Relare sighs, “Cori, I think the heat is getting to us. Could we continue this out of the sun?”
**Araatris:** Utterly unaffected by the heat, Cori shrugs. “Well, we will need to return to the ruins, as it is. Why are you mortals so… sensitive? Really…”
**Rhoelyn:** Relare shrugs and gestures for the others to head back. “It must be our thin, fragile skins. As it is, at least three of us will have sunburns.”
**Araatris:** Landrie pulls her hair forward. “Ear burns are the worst.” Cori grumbles, “Ridiculous! You have to get much closer for the sun to burn you.”
**Rhoelyn:** “For you.” The paladin leads them with Leo at his side. “We’re much more sensitive.” Landrie’s cheeks are red as she glances at Cori’s back.
**Araatris:** The half-fallen wall comes into view over the dunes as Rel glances up and frowns. He reaches for her forehead. “You’re flushed. Are you dizzy?”
**Rhoelyn:** The warrior shakes her head and intercepts his hand. “N-no, I’m fine for now. Just a little warm. I’ll be better in the shade and resting.”
**Araatris:** He nods and pulls back. “Of course. You seem like you’re feeling better, but tell me if you get lightheaded.” She makes a face, “Yes, healer.”
**Rhoelyn:** Relare smiles sheepishly, then turns back to Cori. “So, why do we need to be back at the ruins here? Do they have a special purpose to them?”
**Araatris:** The Bronze scratches his hair, the loose mass of it dripping down his shoulders. “The broken ruin in the sand and its twin in the trees, linked.”
**Rhoelyn:** Leo frowns, “The ruins that we just fought in and left in Darkshore? How are those linked?” They step into the shadows of a tall wall as they enter.
**Araatris:** “Oh, there are ancient links left all over Azeroth.” He points to worn carvings in the sandstone. “Ask Nyssera. She is what she is because of one.”
**Rhoelyn:** Galandrie slides off Verune, allowing him to shift. The elder druid nods. “That’s right. As a child she activated one that led her to Korran.”
**Araatris:** Leothir looks at Relare. “Did we know that?” His brother shakes his head. “I certainly didn’t. I assumed she’d found Korran as part of her training.”
**Rhoelyn:** Verune smiles at them. “Then you have more to ask your sister when you see her. It’s quite an amusing story. She was only a toddler then.”
**Araatris:** As Cori runs his hands over the wall, Rel’s eyes widen, and he suddenly blushes brightly. Leo laughs. “You just imagined toddler Nysse, didn’t you?”
**Rhoelyn:** The paladin shoots him a pained look. “And you didn’t? With the small twins, it’s so easy to imagine. I just… she must have been adorable…”
**Araatris:** Landrie blurts out, “Light, do I want to see these adorable twins everyone keeps talking about!” Then she clamps a hand over her mouth.
**Rhoelyn:** Leo grins broadly, laughing. “Then you’re staying around longer than you thought. Just wait. There’s Alensyr, too, but he’s a little older.”
**Araatris:** The soldier makes a little face and looks away, clearing her expression entirely. “Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m just curious.” Cori yelps, “A ha!”
**Rhoelyn:** Leo and Rel both jump and look at the high elven dragon. “What?” They say in unison. Verune snorts, but looks no less interested in Cori’s answer.
**Araatris:** The elf smiles and raises his arms with a dramatic flair. “Prepare, mortals, to be amazed!” He flops them down and spins to jab a hidden button.
**Rhoelyn:** “Boop!” The air in the center of the ruin starts to shimmer and the others step back to watch cautiously. Leo frowns, “Cori, what did you just do?”
**Araatris:** “It’s a waygate, Leothir. You wou-” The dragon pauses in the process of flopping a dismissive hand. “Oh. Well, you probably would understand.”
**Rhoelyn:** The mage smirks. “Yes, that I do understand, but I’m not sure I understand why one exists here all the way to Darkshore. So, we need to take this?”
**Araatris:** Cori raises a golden brow. “Unless you think Rhoelyn wants to wait while we walk? Or take boats? Oh!” He claps happily. “I wonder if I get seasick?”
**Rhoelyn:** Verune comments as he gestures for Cori to precede them. “I’m sure you wouldn’t, honored dragon. Being on a boat isn’t much different than the air.”
**Araatris:** With a thoughtful nod, the Bronze leads the way through the shimmering threshold. His little black slippers flatten the grass on the far side.