Chapter 8: Wounding and Mending
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress stands impatiently at the cave mouth. The wolves pace around her as she watches the blood elven woman eat. “What will you do?”
**Araatris:** Galandrie shrugs and mutters around a mouthful of stew, “I’ll head south, of course. There aren’t many options that don’t end in ocean or mountain.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse pushes several stray hairs back. She looks ragged and exhausted despite her best efforts to sleep and her stomach grows softly. “I…”
**Araatris:** The pale elf scoffs. “Save your breath. There’s not a thing you can do to help me except what you’ve already done: sleep and food.”
**Rhoelyn:** “I’ll see you to the edge of the woods while Rhoe finishes eating. I should do that much.” Nysse offers. Galandrie waves her off again.
**Araatris:** She sighs a bit and sets her bowl down, looking at Nysse. “Look, I know you’re stupidly nice, but being seen with a night elf would get me killed.”
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress flinches and ducks her head. “Y-yes, you’re right. I know.” In a burst of anxious energy, she goes to check their bags again.
**Araatris:** Rhoelyn frowns as she brushes her hair. She speaks in Thalassian to the elf, “You should not bite the hand that feeds you. You will need us again.”
**Rhoelyn:** Landrie replies in kind. “It’s better for her to face reality. It’s just as dangerous for both of you.” Nysse frowns, looking between the two.
**Araatris:** “I do not disagree with you. Only speak more politely to my sister,” the priestess orders, her brows drawing down. “She chooses to help you.”
**Rhoelyn:** At a moment’s pause, the blood elf nods and speaks in Common. “I appreciate what you’ve done, but it’ll be safer.” She wipes her hands off.
**Araatris:** The huntress gives the pair of them a suspicious look, trying to suss out what they said, but she gives up with a sigh and just nods. “Good luck.”
**Rhoelyn:** Galandrie stands and steps past them. “We won’t meet again.” Nysse bites her lip before commenting, “I’ve heard Winterspring is still neutral.”
**Araatris:** The blood elf nods and trudges off, disappearing into a misted evening. Rhoe watches her go, muttering, “She is wrong.” She turns back to her hair.
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress waits a moment before heading to the cave opening again. Tsume follows, then whines and noses at the younger woman’s hand.
**Araatris:** Her sister, still sitting in her bedroll by the low fire, watches her and Tsume for a long breath before she softly says, “Nysse? Are you worried?”
**Rhoelyn:** Grimacing, Nysse shakes her head. “Of c-course not. She’s a sin’dorei. Why would I worry? I was thinking that we could use a fresh meal…”
**Araatris:** Rhoelyn sighs and shoves to her feet, padding to her sister and wrapping her arms around her. “Go and hunt if you wish. Or better yet, sleep more.”
**Rhoelyn:** “I need to hunt. I’m… I’m really hungry, Rhoe. We can stay here an extra day to rest.” Nysse turns and rests her face against the twin’s shoulder.
**Araatris:** Her sister cradles the back of Nysse’s head, fingers soothing through her leaf-green hair. “Go, then. I can even set a few snares while you are out.”
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress nods and breathes deeply as she gathers herself and raises her head. “Thank you, sister. I hope it won’t be too long, but…”
**Araatris:** “But… take the time you need.” The healer releases her, stepping back and folding her hands by her belt. “Only stay wary and come back safe.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse kisses Rhoelyn’s cheek. “I will. If there’s some herbs, I’ll bring those back for you as well. Tsume, guard Rhoelyn.” She steps back.
**Araatris:** The older elf smiles and rests a hand on Tsume’s head as the white wolf settles against her foot. “Thank you, sister. I wish you a fruitful hunt.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nodding, the huntress grabs her weapons and steps out, even as a ghostly colored wolf solidifies at her side. “If you need me… call my hearth.”
**Araatris:** Rhoe nods. “I will.” She watches as the younger elf turns and dashes away, Korran at her heels. For a while after, the healer stares out at the mist.
**Rhoelyn:** The forest is quiet, but there are signs of wildlife still showing throughout the brush. Nysse kneels and examines the deer’s prints in the dirt.
**Araatris:** She nods to herself and creeps forward, pulling an arrow from her quiver without a sound. The deer comes into sight, chewing on ash-dusted grass.
**Rhoelyn:** The time to fire always comes on the exhale, when the hands are steady. She aims for a clean kill and lets the string slide from her fingers.
**Araatris:** The creature of the forest falls instantly, her barb in its heart. Nysse takes a deep breath and feels a little bit of her anxiety drift away.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse strides to the deer and says a soft prayer before drawing her dagger and setting to work on the hide. “Thank you for your sacrifice.”
**Araatris:** She doesn’t start to feel eyes on her until she’s nearly done with the soothing, bloody work. Korran lifts his head, sifting the air.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse continues letting her gaze partially slip into his. Two shadows stand several trees back, watching her. She asks, “Who are you?”
**Araatris:** The smaller of the two steps forward just slightly, keeping the cover of the trees between him and Nysse’s bow. “Family,” says a familiar voice.
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress gasps, dropping her knife. “L-leo?! Wha-how?” She stumbles over her words as she twists to look at him. Korran huffs and sits.
**Araatris:** Leo pulls up his mask, a grin lifting his lips. “Well, her first reaction wasn’t spines in my heart. A good start?” He glances at the other shadow.
**Rhoelyn:** The other figure steps forward, tugging at his own mask. “If you tease her, she might still think about it.” Relare gives her a warm smile.
**Araatris:** To give herself time to think, the night elf retrieves her knife from the grass and wipes it clean with shaky hands. She bites her lip anxiously.
**Rhoelyn:** “I… while I’m glad that you’re both well, you sh-shouldn’t be here. You need to go someplace neutral and lay low until this… war is over.”
**Araatris:** Relare shakes his head. “No. While we appreciate the concern, what we need to do is what family should: protect our own. What we’ve been doing.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse sheathes her dagger and freezes. “You. You’re the ones that have been helping us. That’s why we haven’t seen as many patrols.”
**Araatris:** The mage brother is the one who nods. “When you told me you were coming here, we decided to help keep you safe. Quietly. We’ve been shadowing you.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Quiet? You knocked me out of a tree.” The huntress narrows her eyes. “Why reveal yourselves now?” She retrieves a waterproof bag from her pack.
**Araatris:** Relare pulls off his gauntlets and leans down to help her stow her kill. Leo leans back against a tree trunk and folds his arms. “Because we’re worried.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse frowns at that. “Why? We’re fine.” Korran snorts off to her side and she ignores him as they finish packing the meat. She picks up the hide.
**Araatris:** Leothir snorts. “You’re not fine. You’re both putting so much effort into your sad duty that you barely make time to take care of yourselves.”
**Rhoelyn:** She clenches her jaw as she folds the hide and slips it into another bag. “I’m doing what I can to watch over Rhoe, Leo. If that’s not good-”
**Araatris:** Relare cuts her off with a gentle hand on her shoulder. “No one is questioning your devotion. You’re both stubborn and dedicated and selfless.”
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress closes her eyes and takes a deep, shuddering breath. “If I sleep, we could be in danger… If I eat too much, our rations…”
**Rhoelyn:** “I don’t know what else to do. She wouldn’t even stay to rest at Bashal’Aran.” She opens her eyes and wipes off her hands, not looking at them.
**Araatris:** “That’s why we wanted you to know we’re here, Nysse,” Rel says softly. Leo nods. “You’re not alone. We can take some of the weight for you.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nyssera looks between them, relieved. “Thank you. I… I didn’t know what you all would do after Rhese…” She ducks her head. “I didn’t agree.”
**Araatris:** “We know,” the mage says, stepping forward. “I was grateful that you answered your hearth when I called. You’ve made all this more bearable.”
**Rhoelyn:** She sniffles. “Bearable? This isn’t bearable at all! Everyone is being torn apart and consumed by hatred… even me!” Nysse covers her face.
**Araatris:** The paladin and mage exchange glances before Relare wraps his arm around her shoulder, tugging her against him. “Hate is the disease of war.”
**Rhoelyn:** Like a dam breaking, the huntress hides her face and sobs against his shoulder. “I’m s-sorry. I… I c-can’t stop it. Just… g-give me a m-minute.”
**Araatris:** The blood elf pats her back, exchanging a sympathetic look with his brother over her shoulder. “It’s alright, Nysse. Cry as much as you need.”
**Rhoelyn:** It’s a few minutes before Nysse pulls away. Clearing her throat, she manages a small smile for them. “T-thank you. I feel better now.”
**Araatris:** Leothir steps up beside his brother. “Good. You’re not alone. You never were, Nysse. That is what family means. It’s what the twins need to learn.”
**Rhoelyn:** She nods. “They’ve relied on just each other for so long. Do… do you wish me to try and talk to Rhoelyn for you? She deserves to know.”
**Araatris:** The mage winces and grumbles. “So that she can banish m-… us without a moment’s thought, again?” His brother sets a hand on his shoulder.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse droops and sighs. “I know. I wish I could find a way to get through to her. Thank you for staying by us even when they’re pushing you away.”
**Rhoelyn:** “I really should get back soon. We’re planning to take an extra day to eat and rest.” She pats Leo’s shoulder and pushes to her feet.
**Araatris:** Relare picks up the sack of meat and the second sack of untanned hide. “We’ll walk you part way back, Nysse. You two make sure you do eat and rest.”
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress blushes in the darkness. “I will. I’m starving. I think Rhoe is glad of the rest as well.” She starts walking with them at her sides.
**Araatris:** “Good.” Leo nods. “She wasn’t looking well, this morning. You are quite welcome to sit on her, if you must. Or have one of the wolves do it.”
**Rhoelyn:** The night elf manages to only look half horrified as she stares at him. “Sit on her? You have to be teasing me. How in fel would that help?”
**Araatris:** The golden mage smirks before pulling his mask back over his face. “She was giggling too much to protest when I tried it. And then she got sleepy.”
**Rhoelyn:** “I feel like that is more than I wanted to know.” Nysse grimaces. Relare pats her back sympathetically with a free hand. “That’s what I said.”
**Araatris:** Leo chuckles, the mask hiding his blush. “Here, now. What are you two thinking about?” He pauses as the light of the treeline becomes visible.
**Rhoelyn:** They pause there and Relare hands over the bags. Nysse smiles at Leothir. “Don’t worry. I’ll encourage her to rest. Again, thank you, both.”
**Araatris:** The pair of them nod as Relare puts his mask back in place. But Leo steps forward and rests a hand on her arm. “Will you tell her about us?”
**Rhoelyn:** “If I can. I would like to start rebuilding our family.” She sighs tiredly. “I miss our days in Winterspring. I hope our homes are still there…”
**Araatris:** Leo and Relare exchange a look before the younger brother says, “We’ll leave it up to you to decide if she’s… ready to listen. We’ll be patient.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse nods. “You’ll know if I’m successful. I’d better go. Please be safe.” She turns and heads toward the cave, Korran shadowing her.
**Araatris:** At the sound of steps, the priestess snags her staff and scrambles to her feet, dumping the jabbering little flower creature out of her lap.
**Araatris:** Tsume flicks an ear and lets out a woof of greeting before she yawns, making her leisurely way to her paws. She noses the anxious healer’s leg.
**Rhoelyn:** A ghostly wolf rounds the corner first followed by her sister carrying a couple of sacks. Nysse smiles at Rhoelyn. “It’s just me, sister.”
**Araatris:** The healer droops with relief and summons a little smile. “Welcome back, Nysse.” She sets her staff down and scoops up the yellow-brown podling.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse downs the bags by the fire even as Korran’s spirit merges with her. Stepping forward, she gives Rhoelyn a one-armed hug. “Thank you.”
**Araatris:** Her sister smiles more fully at that. “I trust you feel better?” Her pet yawns with a little squeak and peers at Nysse with seed-tan beady eyes.
**Rhoelyn:** “I do, but I could use a hearty meal and a good day’s sleep. I don’t know if you feel the same.” The huntress looks at the podling. “How cute…”
**Araatris:** The priestess runs a finger along a yellow petal of the creature’s hair before offering it to Nysse. “I haven’t introduced you to Ferathal, have I?”
**Rhoelyn:** Taking the little podling into her hand, she offers him a finger. “Hello, Ferathal, it’s nice to meet you. Where did you come across him?”
**Araatris:** “Medi, medi!” he squeaks, licking the tip of her finger with a petal-soft tongue. Rhoelyn grins. “I found him in the woods outside Boralus.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse giggles. “Well, I’m glad that he found someone wonderful who can take care of him.” She pets him with one finger like Rhoelyn did.
**Araatris:** The priestess blushes and gestures to a small pile of wild onions, forest carrots, freshly-washed tubers and assorted herbs. “He has helped us.”
**Rhoelyn:** “What a good helper!” Behind Nysse, Tsume huffs and butts her head against the back of the huntress’ leg. “You’re a good helper, too, Tsume!”
**Araatris:** Rhoe kneels and gathers the bag of meat close. “Of course she is! Dear Tsume was a vigilant guard. And perhaps by dawn we shall have more snared.”
**Rhoelyn:** The younger woman smiles. “I hope so. The deer should be enough to resupply us for a few days, but it’ll last longer if we catch dinner.”
**Araatris:** Her sister nods and settles in to prepare them some food and start the extra meat curing. “Rest, sister. You have done the night’s hardest work.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse relents. “As you wish, but where shall Ferathal go?” The huntress settles down next to the fire, grateful for its warmth as she stretches.
**Araatris:** “Oh.” Rhoelyn looks over. “Fera, it is time to rest. We will play again, soon.” He capers and jabbers in Nysse’s hand. “Medimed! Medi!”
**Rhoelyn:** Tilting her head, Nysse looks at Rhoelyn. “Why is he saying ‘medi’, Rhoe? Is it short for medicine? It’s the only thing I can think of.”
**Araatris:** The smaller elf blushes, her cheeks darkening. “Well, yes, sister. He… h-he only knows that one word. Medicine. Ah… but he understands more.”
**Rhoelyn:** “I see. Well, little one, it’s time for you to rest as Rhoelyn says. Do you know where to go?” Nysse lowers her hand to allow him to leave.
**Araatris:** He repeats his chitter with glee, reaching up to the petals on his head and plucking one free to offer it to Nysse as he hops down. “Ah! F-fera…”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse gently takes it. “Thank you! Is… is this medicine?” Bringing it up to her nose, she sniffs it experimentally. “Do you know, sister?”
**Araatris:** The healer stops what she is doing to come over and scoop up the little creature. “You… y-yes, it is a type of medicine, Nysse. You should not…”
**Rhoelyn:** Distractedly, Nysse continues to examine it. “What does it do? Is it very potent? You know I’m always looking for new first aid supplies.”
**Araatris:** Rhoe squeaks and starts to reach for the petal, stopping herself partway. “N-no, sister. It’s not that… k-kind of… It would not be useful t-to you.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Really? That’s a shame. What does it taste like…” Without waiting on a response, Nysse raises the petal to her lips and nibbles it.
**Araatris:** “N-no!” The smaller woman yanks the rest of the petal away from her, Ferathal squirming in her grip. “Oh, d-d-… y-you must spit it out, Nysse!”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse stares and frowns in confusion. “What? Why? Rhoe, why are you so worried? It was just a nibble. It shouldn’t be enough to hurt.”
**Araatris:** Taking a deep breath, her sister pauses to whisper to Ferathal, and the little creature curls up into a drying brown frond around a yellow petal.
**Araatris:** She tucks him in her pouch as she abandons their food and scoots beside Nysse, wrapping an arm around her. “You may not like how… you feel, sister.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse blinks at her. “How fast does it…” A strange lassitude spreads through her limbs, making her feel sluggish and disconnected. “Oh…”
**Araatris:** Rhoelyn sighs and hugs the younger elf. “You had very little. It should last only a short while. Just relax, sister. Come, lay down while I cook.”
**Rhoelyn:** The young woman smiles dreamily. “Yes, sister.” She lets Rhoelyn guide her the few feet to her bedroll and lies down. Nysse asks, “Sister?”
**Araatris:** “Yes, Nysse?” The silver-haired elf answers her as she pulls off her cloak and folds it for a pillow. She tucks it under the huntress’ head gently.
**Rhoelyn:** The question weighing on the young woman comes more easily from drugged lips. “Do you miss them? Leothir and Relare? I do… They’re family.”
**Araatris:** Her sister stills in the process of tucking the blanket around Nysse, her dark eyes taking on a sudden sheen of tears. “I should… prepare food.”
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress sighs and looks away. “No one ever wants to talk about them… like they don’t exist. Yami told me once that he missed them, too.”
**Rhoelyn:** “He’s scared to say anything around Rhese though.” Nysse rambles, “It’s not right. They were just turned away without doing anything wrong.”
**Araatris:** Her sister moves away and starts to work on the food, pulling her dagger free from its sheath. For a little while, it seems the silence wins.
**Araatris:** Finally, though, she quietly says, “It is easier if they do not exist. I told you it was ridiculous when we left Pandaria. I should never have…”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse growls softly, not unlike the wolves she trains. “It’s not just you anymore, Rhoelyn. They were part of my family. Yami. The twins.”
**Araatris:** The healer sniffs, hanging her head as she continues the busy work and uses it to avoid looking at her sister. “I know. I-I was too selfish.”
**Rhoelyn:** “No, you’re selfish to keep them away. All because you’re afraid of what they might be. What about what they are?” Nysse rolls onto her side.
**Araatris:** Rhoe swipes her sleeve across her eyes, dumping veggies into the stew pot. “What are they, sister? Horde… It is what they have always been.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse snaps, “Really? Are you sure about that? Relare didn’t even know about the Horde until he came here. Leo fought against the last tyrant.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Stop being so blind, sister. They’ve never been Horde. As long as we’ve known them, they’ve fought to stop things like this!” Her voice raises.
**Araatris:** The healer drops her knife and turns, wiping more tears away before they can fall. “If they are not Horde, then they will be seen as traitors! If… (c)
**Araatris:** (c) if w-we… let them stay, they will be in grave danger!” She sniffs and bites back a sob. “They should not be our family. We m-must let them go.”
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress’ voice is suddenly soft. “And if they already made that choice? If they already had no way to return? Would you feel the same?”
**Araatris:** The priestess goes still, tears wetting her cheek. She says softly, “If they had done that, they would need a home. They would lose… so much.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse raises an arm as Tsume noses her elbow and snuggles up next to the huntress. “What could be worse than losing your family, Rhoelyn?”
**Araatris:** Her sister’s face crumples, and she covers it with her hands, her weeping muffled as she turns away. She hunches by the fire, her shoulders shaking.
**Rhoelyn:** The young woman struggles to sit and crawl to Rhoelyn. “I’m sorry. I’m being rotting awful today. It hurts, but I shouldn’t take it out on you…”
**Araatris:** “Everything hurts!” Rhoe wails into her hands. “Everything hurts, and I miss him. Of course I miss him! But even if he isn’t mine, he can live.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse winces and wraps her arms around the smaller priestess. The huntress tentatively asks, “I… I… would you… like to talk to him, sister?”
**Araatris:** The woman wipes at her cheeks with the heels of her hands. “I cannot, sister. I mustn’t. I am not strong enough to let him go over and over again.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Then don’t. All they have is us, Rhoelyn. They need us as much as we need them… no matter what Rhese thinks.” She kisses Rhoe’s temple.
**Araatris:** The priestess weeps softly, clinging to Nysse. For a while, it is all she does as she tries to calm, pressing her face against her sister’s shoulder.
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress hugs Rhoelyn tightly. “It’ll be alright, sister. I’m sorry I upset you, but I will bring our family back together… somehow.”
**Araatris:** “How?” Rhoe asks at a whisper, shaking her head against her. “How can we fix all the broken things? This awful war. Leothir and Relare are Horde.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse sighs. “They haven’t been Horde for a long time. I think you should take the time to listen to them.” She retrieves her old hearthstone.
**Araatris:** The healer lifts her head as her sister shifts, wiping at her tears. “You… have a way to reach them?” She blinks at the stone, comprehension dawning.
**Rhoelyn:** The young woman blushes. “Y-yes… and I’ve been in contact with them. Rhese would be very upset if he knew, but…” She looks at Rhoe guiltily.
**Araatris:** Looking from her to the stone in her hand and back, the priestess hesitates. But when her sister silently offers the trinket to her, she takes it.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse pulls away and murmurs, “I’ll finish making our food. I feel well enough to do so now. Go ahead.” She tosses a chunk of meat to Tsume.
**Araatris:** “No.” Rhoelyn shoves the hearthstone back into Nysse’s hands with a sudden shake of her head. She wipes at her eyes and grabs up her dagger.
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress rests a hand on Rhoelyn’s arm. “Why, Sister?” She clutches the stone and ponders calling Leo anyway. “He doesn’t want to go back.”
**Araatris:** Rhoe grabs some carrots and turns back to her cutting. “I… am not ready. A-and I promised to make you dinner while you rest. I wish to make dinner.”
**Rhoelyn:** The young woman tries one more time. “Could we invite them to dinner?” She rubs tired and bleary eyes, ignoring the ache in her empty stomach.
**Araatris:** Her sister startles, slicing her finger. As easily wounded as healed, she whispers a simple spell before turning to gape at Nysse. “T-to Darkshore?!”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse swallows nervously. “Well… they’re already here. Why not?” She turns and busies herself checking Tsume, the medicine having worn off.
**Araatris:** Rhoelyn pales, eyes wide. “Th-they are…?” She looks dangerously close to more tears, but she merely says in a small voice, “I don’t understand.”
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress’ shoulders slump. “They’re in Darkshore. They… I’ve been in contact with them since after… then. Are you upset with me, sister?”
**Araatris:** “I am… merely upset, sister.” The healer sniffs and wipes her eyes before turning back to her work. “Of course they are here. No doubt for the Eyes.”
**Rhoelyn:** Clearing her throat, Nysse clarifies, “I doubt that. They’ve been killing patrols near us and… they were the ones that helped me against the forsaken.”
**Araatris:** Rhoelyn stills, again. “… you meant what you said. They’ve already outcast themselves from the Horde. Despite what Rhese said. What I said.”
**Rhoelyn:** The young woman nods, mostly just petting Tsume and looking at her sister from the edge of her gaze. “Yes, they didn’t want to abandon us.”
**Araatris:** Rhoe goes silent, again, and finishes cutting meat and putting it in the pot with unsteady hands. She doesn’t stop until the food is cooking.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse tugs Tsume closer and wraps her arms around the wolf, mumbling, “Rotting medicine… I didn’t intend to bring any of this up like this.”
**Araatris:** The priestess wipes her eyes and stands, looking away. “I… need to think, sister. I-I wish to walk. There is enough food for the brothers as well…”
**Rhoelyn:** “Take Korran.” Nysse’s firm tone allows for no argument as the ghostly wolf solidifies next to her. “If I call them… you may see them on your walk…”
**Araatris:** With a nod, the smaller night elf turns and leaves the cave, Korran trailing her into the mist. Nysse frowns at the staff she leaves behind.