Chapter 6: Guardian Spirits
**Rhoelyn:** Leothir rubs his face. “Rot was that awful, Rel. I’ve never actually seen it being done. I wanted to be sick.” He looks up at his brother.
**Araatris:** The paladin sighs and yanks off his face mask, running a hand through his short hair to straighten it. “You and me both, Leo. This… Horde…”
**Araatris:** His kind face twists in a grimace. “I know the history and what you’ve told me about our past here, but… this war is one affront after the next.”
**Rhoelyn:** “We can’t even tell them that we’re helping because we could be mistaken for the enemy. I can’t stand to be associated with… those.” Leo snaps.
**Araatris:** His brother strides over to the banked fire of their camp, tossing down his disguise helm and starting on his pauldrons. “Neither can I.”
**Rhoelyn:** The mage tugs at his own mask and tosses it aside. “We’ll continue this for now, but I can’t help but think that Nysse might still understand.”
**Araatris:** Rel sighs. “She will, I think. But will anyone else? It’s hard for her to keep secrets.” He flops on his bedroll. “This is part of protecting them.”
**Rhoelyn:** His brother stands with a groan and walks to his bedroll next to his brother’s. He sits with a heavy thud. “I suppose, but she saw me this time.”
**Araatris:** Snorting, the paladin tosses a twig at the fire. “How could she not after the way you manhandled her out of the way? Did she recognize you?”
**Rhoelyn:** Blushing, Leo smacks Relare’s shoulder. “What was I supposed to do? Leave her?” He shakes his head. “But I don’t think so. I kept quiet.”
**Araatris:** His brother nods, smirking. “Good.” But he quickly sobers. “The way you rushed off after that had me worried. We’re supposed to stay together.”
**Rhoelyn:** “I know, Rel, but I wanted to stop them before-well, it didn’t work anyway. Anyway, I’ll be careful.” He lays back, staring up at the eclipse.
**Araatris:** Relare shuffles around in his pack as silence descends. Finally Leo groans and lays his arm over his eyes. “I’m quite sure I heard her crying.”
**Rhoelyn:** The paladin pauses to look at him. “Rhoelyn or Nyssera?” He pulls out the slim rations his hand rested on and sets one of them on Leo’s chest.
**Araatris:** “Rhoelyn,” Leothir mumbles. “At the time, Nysse was still fighting the…new Forsaken.” He grabs the ration. “I bet they’re both in tears by now.”
**Rhoelyn:** Grimacing, his brother nods. “Their task is weighing heavily on them. They’re pushing themselves not just physically, but mentally.”
**Araatris:** The golden mage sits up, sighing. He rips open the food’s wrapper. “Are you quite sure the ‘kidnap Nysse and Rhoelyn again’ plan is bad?”
**Rhoelyn:** “They wouldn’t forgive us if we did. This is something they need to do, especially now.” He pats Leo’s shoulder then opens his own packet.
**Araatris:** After another short silence, he chuckles. His brother gives him a droll look. “Are you picturing Nysse punching me, again?” The paladin bends over, laughing.
**Rhoelyn:** When Relare catches his breath, he comments, “I thought for sure that she was going to lay you out after you knocked her out of the tree.”
**Araatris:** Leo snorts, but his lips twist up in a grin. “Well, why do you think I rushed off? I don’t have any desire to taste that right hook of hers again.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Better you than me, brother.” Relare smirks as he eats. “Can you tell if they’re staying in that cave? I’d really like to get some rest.”
**Araatris:** The mage grins as he splays the fingers of his left hand out, magic resolving into an arcane display. “They haven’t moved. Get some sleep, Rel.”
**Rhoelyn:** Shoving the last bite in his mouth, the paladin swallows and flops back. “Thank the Light.” He closes his eyes and yawns. “You, too, Leo.”
**Araatris:** “Soon,” he says, lifting his finger to touch the symbol on the display that represents the bracelet he gave Rhoelyn… the one she still wears.
**Rhoelyn:** Leothir murmurs under his breath. “As long as she’s still wearing it, there’s still hope.” Relare doesn’t respond, already deeply asleep.
**Araatris:** Not so far away, the woman Leo is thinking about sits with her back against the cave wall, stroking Nysse’s hair as the huntress sleeps beside her.
**Rhoelyn:** Korran had long retreated into the exhausted huntress. When Tsume whines, Rhoelyn puts a finger to her lips, and the wolf lays down her head.
**Araatris:** The healer reaches over and rubs the white wolf’s ears in silent reassurance before she lays her own head back, staring at the roots above them.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse stirs sleepily. “Sister, aren’t you going to rest?” She reaches out and tugs the knee of Rhoelyn’s gown. “It’s been… a tiring night.”
**Araatris:** “Soon,” Rhoe says softly, an unknowing parrot to Leothir. She lifts her head and looks back down at Nysse, returning to her soothing caress.
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress fights the drooping of her dark eyes. “Do you want me to resummon Korran to help watch over us so you can rest? It may help.”
**Araatris:** Her sister shakes her head slowly, giving her a soft smile. “Tsume is enough guardian for us, tonight. Sleep, Nysse. You are exhausted.”
**Rhoelyn:** For just a moment, it looks like Nysse might protest, then she nods. Laying her head down again, she mumbles, “I wonder who that person was…”
**Araatris:** The healer’s fingers brush along her temple. “What person, sister?” Her black gaze flicks to Tsume as the wolf yawns and snuggles closer.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse wraps one arm around the wolf. “Someone knocked me out of the way of a spell. They were a mage, I think, but their face was covered.”
**Araatris:** Rhoe’s fingers still, but after a moment, she takes a deep breath and resumes the rubs. “Were it a mage, couldn’t they have silenced the caster?”
**Rhoelyn:** “Maybe, but they cast these… discs of magic. They were blue…” The huntress yawns and shifts closer to them both, her voice slow and drowsy.
**Araatris:** Her sister shifts a bit, still soothing her fingers along Nysse’s hair. She rests her head back once more. “We can ponder it tomorrow, I think.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Mmm. Rest well, sister,” was the soft sound of agreement as the huntress finally succumbs to priestess’ gentle, yet insistent, gesture.
**Araatris:** Rhoe ponders the dirt ceiling of the cave and waits, listening to Nysse’s breath slowing. Her other hand cradles a soft yellow flower petal.
**Rhoelyn:** The next evening comes quicker than expected, leaving at least one person more tired than they’d like. They get up, eat, and close up camp.
**Araatris:** Rhoelyn sits in the cave entrance, tying her leather thongs around her feet. She barely pays attention to the task, looking out at the dark forest.
**Rhoelyn:** Tsume paces nearby as Nysse finishes putting a small pan into her bag. She stops Rhoelyn, noticing her gaze. “Do you see something, Rhoe?”
**Araatris:** “… too much,” the healer answers at a tiny whisper, her brow furrowing. She presses her fingers to her head before answering more loudly, “No.”
**Rhoelyn:** Crouching, Nysse asks softly, “Do you need me to get the herbs out? You look like a headache might be coming, and travel won’t help that.”
**Araatris:** Rhoe nods slightly. “Please?” Her attempt at a reassuring smile is pathetic, so she just turns to look back out over the trees. Tsume noses at her.
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress lays the pack down and rummages inside it, pulling out a small roll of pouches. She tugs some herbs from one. “Let’s stay.”
**Araatris:** Her answer is a brief shake of her sister’s silver head. “No. We must continue our work, sister. A-after yesterday, it’s only more imperative.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nyssera frowns, but doesn’t argue. She hands her the herbs and closes back up her bag. Silently, she stands and settles the backpack.
**Araatris:** Rhoelyn manages a better smile as thanks for the herbs and munches on them as she pushes to her feet. She leans down for her staff and pack.
**Rhoelyn:** Once her sister is ready, they head out down the steep path down from the cave. “Do you wish to guide today, sister, or shall I summon Korran?”
**Araatris:** “Rest, Nysse. And let Korran rest,” the healer says softly, resting a hand on her arm. “I know where we must go.” She looks toward the east.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse sighs. “I don’t understand why we should rest if you’re not going to rest. We’re in this together. I don’t mind doing what I need to.”
**Araatris:** Rhoe pauses and looks over for a second before she reaches out and wraps Nysse in a hug. “I am sorry, sister. I only meant to save your strength.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse kisses the top of Rhoe’s head and hugs her. “I know. I suppose I’m still on edge from yesterday. I didn’t mean to come across so sharp.”
**Araatris:** The healer shudders in her sister’s embrace. “You did what you had to. W-what he would have wanted before they twisted him. He would thank you.”
**Rhoelyn:** “I know that, but… it was difficult. He was talking to me…” Nysse closes her eyes. “Let’s just make sure that it can’t happen to anyone else.”
**Araatris:** Her sister nods against her shoulder before she releases her. “Come, sister. We cannot do that here. We must go to the shore, today.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nodding, Nysse lets her go as well. “Yes, of course. Let’s go then.” She gestures for Rhoelyn to lead while Tsume and her guard her flanks.
**Araatris:** It takes a few hours into the dark night for the scent of the sea to overpower the forest’s scent of ash and decay, but eventually they see the treeline.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse pauses at the edge, motioning for Rhoelyn to stay in cover. Her gaze sweeps the beach and then freezes on the ocean. “It’s horrible.”
**Araatris:** Rhoelyn swallows but manages to keep her expression relatively stoic despite her tight grip on Nysse’s bracer. “It is… we must f-free them.”
**Rhoelyn:** “There’s so many…” Nysse takes a deep breath and steels herself. “But that doesn’t matter. We are hands of Elune, passing on her blessing.”
**Araatris:** Her sister nods. “It is as you said: We are not done taking care of our own.” But her eyes shine as she looks over the littered beach.
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress nods. “Stay sharp out there. I’ll build a fire pit while you and Korran call the spirits. The smoke won’t be noticed.” She steps out.
**Araatris:** Rhoelyn takes a deep breath and pulls her staff from its harness, holding it close as she follows. Korran stays with her when she starts to sing.
**Rhoelyn:** The beach was deserted of the living as far as the eye could see. There was no threat nearby in this area, so they could focus on their work.
**Araatris:** For hours, the healer alternates between summoning wisps with her songspell and helping them find release, and Nysse and Tsume see to the bodies.
**Rhoelyn:** Wiping sweat from her forehead, Nysse leaves a streak of dirt and ash. The last batch of bodies had taken her as far as she dared go.
**Araatris:** Rhoelyn wanders along the beach as a handful of wisps bob around her, yet one more lifting away to dissolve in release. She trips as she looks up.
**Rhoelyn:** Tsume gently bites Nysse’s hand and tugs her around to look at Rhoelyn. “Tsume, what is it?” She glances down at her wolf then up at Rhoelyn.
**Araatris:** The healer sighs and pushes back to her knees, dusting dark sand from her hands. Nysse can see her lips move as she mutters to herself.
**Rhoelyn:** “Aren’t we a pair? Working ourselves to exhaustion… I think we’ve done what we can today.” Nysse smiles and limps tiredly toward her sister.
**Araatris:** Rhoelyn looks up at Nysse, her expression soft. She doesn’t seem very inclined to get up from her sudden seat. “Are you injured?”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse shakes her head. “No, just sore. I was thinking it’s time to rest. We can do another section of the beach after.” She holds out her hand.
**Araatris:** The smaller woman accepts the hand up with a smile, a few wisps still bobbing around her. Korran steps closer and wuffs. “Some food, perhaps?”
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress’ stomach growls loudly and Nysse flushes. “There you go awakening the beast, Sister. I think we’d better get some food.”
**Araatris:** Nodding, Rhoelyn keeps hold of her hand and heads for the trees. She stops, flinching, when a pained cry rings out from somewhere in the distance.
**Rhoelyn:** “Rhoe! We have to help them!” Nysse ignores the protest of her muscles and swings her bow from her shoulder. She waits for Rhoelyn’s response.
**Araatris:** Her sister follows as the huntress dashes off, the wolves trailing them. Rhoe stretches out her hand, murmuring soothing Light into Nysse’s body.
**Rhoelyn:** The ache fades away as they follow another cry into the woods. The wolves array themselves as a forward guard letting out short howls.
**Araatris:** Tsume is the first to draw up short, snarling. Korran stops beside her, forcing Nysse to skid to a stop with Rhoe a short way behind her.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse creeps up, listening to a woman. “Did you really think that this would work? You should be grateful that we haven’t killed you yet.”
**Araatris:** The healer pulls her staff into her hands, clenching it tight. Her sister peeks through the foliage, as silent as a moonbeam, dark eyes narrowed.
**Rhoelyn:** The woman’s back was to them, but there were long ears. She impeded the view to a woman crumpled on the ground. “Get up. We need to travel.”
**Araatris:** When the other doesn’t move, only muttering something indistinct, the woman curses and reaches down. Her victim cries out as she snags her arm.
**Rhoelyn:** Catching sight of a long ear, Nysse sighs. She couldn’t tell one elf from another in the shadows. “Korran, can you tell which is the sindorei?”
**Araatris:** The spirit wolf slinks off to the side by way of an answer, trying to get downwind in the still night air. Finally, his voice whispers, “Both.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse turns her incredulous gaze towards the hidden wolf. “Both?!” She glances at Rhoelyn, biting her lip. Blood elf or not… one was in trouble.
**Araatris:** The priestess steps back, leaning against a tree and using her staff for support as her head reels. She suddenly reaches out, whispering a heal (c)
**Araatris:** (c) for the woman on the ground. As the golden glow lights the small clearing, the other blood elf whips around, gasping and levering up a crossbow.
**Rhoelyn:** The night elven huntress snaps, “Tsume, Korran, attack!” She straightens and looses an arrow, aiming for the woman’s crossbow arm.
**Araatris:** Their enemy fires at the same time, aiming rather blindly toward the winking glow she saw in the bushes. Nysse’s arrow pierces her bicep cleanly.
**Rhoelyn:** The woman curses and drops her crossbow. The wolves grab at her, dragging her down to her knees as she struggles. Nysse steps forward.
**Araatris:** “What’s going on, here?” the huntress demands down her arrow as the second woman stirs behind the wounded blood elf. “Why are you hurting her?”
**Rhoelyn:** The captive snarls up at Nysse. “Keep your nose out of our business, kaldorei. She’s not one of yours. You’d better run before my team comes.”
**Araatris:** Rhoe steps up beside her sister, her Thalassian smooth and accented. “I am interested in what she wishes.” She points at the other elf.
**Rhoelyn:** Ignoring the startled expression of the first woman, they watched the red-headed woman slowly pull herself up and look up. “I wish to be free.”
**Araatris:** The priestess glances at Nysse, who nods. She looks back at the red-head. “Then you are, inasmuch as this world allows. Go with Elune’s blessings.”
**Rhoelyn:** The kneeling elf snarls in Thalassian, “We’ll find you, Galandrie. You’ll pay for your betrayal.” Galandrie laughs as she staggers to her feet.
**Araatris:** “Betrayal?” the elf spits, wiping blood from her lip. “You’re a child following a monster, Yirienne. You don’t even see how you’ve been betrayed.”
**Rhoelyn:** Yirienne scowls. “The Dark Lady will hunt and raise you if you leave. Do you really trust that these won’t murder you as soon as you’re alone?”
**Araatris:** That strikes the red-head, and she shudders at the threat. But she looks at Nysse with her bow ready and at the wolves holding her former friend.
**Rhoelyn:** “It seems to me that they’ve had plenty of opportunity to kill us. I’ll take my chances with them.” Galandrie staggers toward the night elves.
**Araatris:** Rhoelyn beckons her, but stops short of touching the stranger, stepping back to make space. She says softly to Nysse, “We should go, sister.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse steps in between the two groups, nodding. “Tsume. Korran. Guard.” With a click, Nysse hurries away, leaving them backing away at their rear.
**Araatris:** Behind them, the sin’dorei yells out, “You’re going to regret this! You swore an oath, ‘Landrie!” The stranger grimaces but keeps moving.
**Rhoelyn:** They pause when they hit the beach. The huntress glances back at Rhoelyn questioningly. “Sister, we need to find someplace to rest for the day.”
**Araatris:** The healer nods, clutching her staff tight. Her dark gaze darts to the blood elf still trekking beside them. “What… will you do?” she asks softly.
**Rhoelyn:** The red-head pushes her hair back off her shoulders. “It’s not like I can return home and avoid the fight. They’ll report my desertion.”
**Araatris:** “But you also cannot stay with us,” Rhoe says in the blood elf’s language, unsmiling. “You are n-” “What’s your name?” she interrupts.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse steps in, able to understand more than she can speak. “Nyssera and this is my sister, Rhoelyn. She’s right. You’d be in danger with us.”
**Araatris:** Galandrie shrugs. “You say that as of it’s more danger than I’ll be in on my own. I’m tired. Let me rest with you a while.” Rhoe’s brow wrinkles.
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress rubs a large smudge on her face. “Rhoe? This isn’t just my decision. It could be bad for all of us if someone comes along.”
**Araatris:** Her sister considers the blood elf, wringing her staff. She finally turns away to look out over the ocean, shuddering. “She should come for today.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse regards them for a moment before nodding sharply. “Very well. Let’s go. I caught sight of some place on the coast during our work.”
**Araatris:** Their new companion grins and claps a hand on the healer’s shoulder. “That’s v-” Rhoelyn pulls away, stumbling back so fast that she falls.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse looks between the shocked blood elf and her sister. “Rhoe! Are you alright?” At her sister’s hesitant nod, she helps her up.
**Rhoelyn:** “Galandrie, you may mean no harm, but please give my sister some space. We’re… on edge here. Korran, can you grow? We’ll need a ride.”
**Araatris:** The silver-haired healer clings to Nysse’s arm, trembling and silent and pale, dark eyes wide and fixed on the blood elf, as Korran’s size doubles.
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress whispers in Rhoelyn’s ear as she helps her on the wolf, “Don’t worry, sister. I won’t let her do anything to hurt any of us.”
**Araatris:** Rhoe nods and ducks her head, fumbling in her pouch as Nysse turns away. She pulls out the brilliant yellow flower petal there, taking deep breaths.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse nods to Galandrie. “Don’t take it personally. Come on. We can go now.” The wolves, Korran with Rhoelyn, follow them down the beach.