Cata Arc – Chapter 1

Araatris: The sun beams down from a clear, blue sky onto the deck of the Stormdancer, gilding the freshly-swabbed wood. A stiff breeze fills the sails.
Rhoelyn: Nysse leans over the railing and stares into the water, “Rhese! Look there!” She smiles over her shoulder. “I saw another of the flat fish!”
Araatris: The druid chuckles, stepping up behind her to glance over her shoulder. He wraps his arms around her waist. “They’re called manta ray, lovely.”
Rhoelyn: She smiles, “It feels so much better up here than down in the hold. All the fresh air.” She twists in his arms and looks up, “Doesn’t it?”
Araatris: “Yes,” he nods enthusiastically. “The hold smells awful. Next time we book passage, I’m going to ensure the cargo isn’t a clutch of hippogryphs.”
Rhoelyn: She laughs, “Better make sure it’s nothing stinky.” Her eyes dart to see if anyone’s watching before she raises on her toes and quickly kisses him.
Araatris: When she pulls away, he grins at her fondly, teasingly. “Nysse. You’re going to embarrass me.” He leans down and kisses her much less quickly.
Rhoelyn: When he finally leans back, Nysse is both flushed and breathless, “I don’t think I could ever do anything that would embarrass you, beloved.”
Araatris: Rhese tilts his head, laughingly considering that. “There must be something somewhere… Whether you could do it or not is the question, though.”
Rhoelyn: She shakes her head, “I’m sure I couldn’t, but I don’t need to.” The boat sways heavily and Nysse clings to him as water sprays her. “Ack!”
Araatris: Rhese clamps a hand tightly around the railing to steady them both until the ship settles. As the sailors burst into action, he looks around.
Rhoelyn: Large waves break against the bow despite the clear skies. A sailor passing by catches Rhese’s arm, “Get below! It’s not safe for you up here!”
Araatris: Rhese and Nysse exchange looks as the man hurries on. He slips his grip to her hand, but as the deck pitches, getting back to the hold is tough.
Rhoelyn: Below the main deck, it’s dark and pungent. The lanterns rock precariously. He pulls her to an unoccupied corner, “We’ll wait it out here.”
Araatris: Nysse nods, albeit a little wide-eyed. “What do you think is happening?” She clings to his hand as he shakes his head. “I don’t know, lovely.”
Rhoelyn: She stumbles as the ship rocks again. Rhese motions for them to sit and pulls her close. They both jump when a lantern crashes against the floor.
Araatris: The ship seems to settle after a few more minutes, but there’s a cacophony of shouts from above deck. The hatch slams open, as does the cargo hatch.
Rhoelyn: Answering a call, a drenched sailor scrambles up from cargo, “Hull breach! The hold’s fillin’ up!” Nysse turns to Rhese, “Can they repair that?”
Araatris: He shakes his head, gripping her hand tightly and tugging her to her feet. “We need t-” The ship lists violently, throwing them against the wall.
Rhoelyn: Nysse finds herself pinned protectively by Rhese. “Are you okay, lovely?” When she nods, the druid quickly pulls her towards the top hatch.
Araatris: They burst out on deck, and Nysse freezes, gasping as she looks over the bow. “Elune’s grace!” she exclaims, grabbing his arm with both hands.
Rhoelyn: Rhese stares wide-eyed as the boat dips into the shadow of a huge wave. He locks one arm around a nearby pole and the other around Nysse’s waist.
Araatris: “Don’t let go!” is the last thing he says as the ship pitches to its side and the water crashes around them with a deafening, dizzying roar.
Rhoelyn: The force drives the air from Nysse’s lungs. She suppresses her instinct to swim up and instead holds onto Rhese with bruising intensity.
Araatris: They’re buffeted by the violent currents and debris as they struggle toward the surface. A shadow cuts the sunlight barely reaching them.
Rhoelyn: Nysse’s grip slips and she struggles to grab Rhese as another rush of water hits them. The druid tightens his arm as water pulls at her.
Araatris: As the ship sinks, the mast rolls toward them with another rush of water. Rhese throws his arm up, the yard catching him across the shoulder.
Rhoelyn: It pushes its way between, forcing Rhese to release Nysse. He catches a glimpse of her trying to swim back toward him against the current.
Araatris: He’s quickly distracted, the rigging and tatters of the sails dragging at him as the water around gets darker. He struggles to free himself.
Rhoelyn: Rhese grabs his dagger and cuts himself free before shifting into a seal. He darts away from more debris, then in the direction he last saw Nysse.
Araatris: When he doesn’t find her in the clear ocean or on the surface, he swims back down toward the wreckage, panic lending speed to his flippers.
Rhoelyn: Ducking through the raised cloud of sediment, he searches through the still settling ship. Each sailor he checks spurs him to keep looking.
Araatris: As the minutes pass, his heart pounds with dread. She’s not in any of the pockets of air still protecting survivors within the overturned ship.
Rhoelyn: He desperately starts checking the water around the wreckage and catches sight of a floating body. Rhese dives toward it, praying to Elune.
Araatris: He repeats it in his head, his panic rising as the gloom silhouettes long, graceful ears and dark hair. Within arm’s reach, he shifts, reaching out.
Rhoelyn: As he pulls the night elf towards him with a shaky hand, he feels morbid relief seeing purple hair, a sentinel from this ship. He pushes her away.
Araatris: Rhese folds the seal around himself once more, sending a quick prayer for the stranger to Elune as he darts away, circling the wreckage again.
Rhoelyn: There’s no sign of Nysse, for better or worse, around the wreckage. Frustrated, Rhese swims upwards to check the floating debris again.
Araatris: He alternates between dodging around the flotsam and changing his form to call for her until his voice is hoarse and his limbs heavy.
Rhoelyn: He clings to a stray plank and lays his forehead against his arm, “Nysse, where are you…?” He raises his head finally looking for shelter.
Araatris: An island beckons through the evening gloom, a silhouette off in the distance. He hesitates, throwing one last desperate look around him.
Rhoelyn: Seeing nothing, he transforms into a raven. Still, he circles the area one more time before he leaves. The light fades as he approaches the isle.
Araatris: Rhese lands heavily on the sandy beach, stumbling forward on talons and then feet as he trips, exhausted. He catches his breath before standing.
Rhoelyn: His feet drag as he heads inland to the grassy forest. He slumps next to a tree and leans his back against it. His muscles throb in time to his heart.
Araatris: He knows what he should do -build a shelter, start a fire, find fresh water- but he just pulls his knees up and lays his head down, trembling.
Rhoelyn: Unshed tears burn behind his eyes even as his lips soundlessly pray again that Nysse is alive. Eventually, exhaustion takes over and he sleeps.
Araatris: Rhese awakens with a start as the first rays of the morning sun hit his face. He bites back a groan as his sore and dehydrated body protests.
Rhoelyn: He pushes to his feet with a grimace and steps out to look at the water. The debris on the shore creates conflicting emotions as his stomach growls.
Araatris: With nothing but an annoyed frown for his stomach, he gathers a light heal to take the edge off his aching muscles and leaps into the raven’s form.
Rhoelyn: He sweeps over water and land, always keeping an eye out. Seeing a river, he glides down towards the ground shifting as he touches dirt.
Araatris: Rhese pads up on cat’s paws and refreshes himself with a long drink. The fish darting in the shallows catch his eye as well, though he hesitates.
Rhoelyn: His stomach growls again and he snarls in impatient frustration. He stalks to the edge. After a long moment, his paw dips into the water.
Araatris: After a quick meal of flopping fish to silence his appetite and another drink, Rhese looks once more to the sky, shifting to resume his search.
Rhoelyn: Around mid-day Rhese pauses and switches to searching on the ground as a cat. He searches for her scent from the beach to the river.
Araatris: Flicking his ears, he pauses at a fresh trail leading toward another part of the small island. The scent is unfamiliar, but he can hear voices.
Rhoelyn: He creeps up quietly attempting to catch their conversation: “… go back …” “We need…” Fragments of conversation slip through the trees.
Araatris: The cat slinks closer through the underbrush until the small party comes in sight, then he shadows them warily, listening and observing.
Rhoelyn: “I’ve been tellin’ ya dat we need to go back.” A male dwarf steps into view followed by a draenei. She counters, “And do you wish to starve?”
Araatris: He scoffs. “We’re not starvin’, lass. Ya jus’ don’t like fish.” The draenei sighs. “I do not eat flesh, Dorian. Hence, I am starving.”
Rhoelyn: He shakes his head, “We need to see if we can find any of the others. There should be something along the river that you can eat, Aleesa.”
Araatris: The draenei nods, scanning the trees as they walk. “So many are unaccounted for. If there is not a large camp to be found on the island…”
Rhoelyn: Dorian frowns, “Don’t be thinking like dat, lass. We made it. I’m sure the others did, too.” He reaches over and pats her arm, “We’ll find’em.”
Araatris: Letting them get a bit farther ahead, Rhese slips out of the brush, letting his pawfalls make enough noise to alert them to his presence.
Rhoelyn: Aleesa turns first, “Oh!” Dorian narrows his eyes, “Ru–” Aleesa interrupts him, “It’s a druid, Dorian! Look at the shoulder and the necklace.”
Araatris: He shifts to his native form, holding his arms out to be unthreatening. “I mean you no harm. I’ve been looking for survivors from the Stormdancer.”
Rhoelyn: The dwarf strokes his beard with a frown, “Ain’t run across anyone from dere or anywhere really. We’re from the Windsong. How long ago?”
Araatris: “Yesterday at mid-day.” He frowns and rubs his arm, disappointed. “There was some sort of tidal wave. Is that what happened to your vessel as well?”
Rhoelyn: “Yes, we washed up on shore yesterday afternoon.” She notices his frown, “You haven’t had luck either? You can search with us if you like.”
Araatris: Rhese shakes his head. “I appreciate the offer, but I move faster on my own. If you tell me where you’ve camped, I’ll notify you if I find others.”
Rhoelyn: “Back at river head, lad. Anyone you want us to look out for? Or tell you’re here? Aleesa and I -I’m Dorian- are going to talk to the water spirits.”
Araatris: “Yes, of course. Thank you.” He bows. “My name is Rhese Silverwing. I’m searching for Nysse – Nyssera Whispersong. Are there many in your camp?”
Rhoelyn: Aleesa mirrors his bow, “Only three others for now. I will ask after Nyssera for you and send the answer with the wind. I hope you find her.”
Araatris: Rhese gives them a little smile. “I appreciate anything you can do. Elune grace you both. And Aleesa, I saw a fruit tree over there.” He points.
Rhoelyn: She blinks, glancing in the direction indicated, and smiles, “Thank you.” Dorian holds out his hand, “You’ll be welcome at the camp if you need it.”
Araatris: The druid clasps his hand. “That’s kind, Dorian. Until next time, then.” Rhese steps back, turning away as he shifts into the cat and pads off.
Rhoelyn: He can hear Dorian as he leaves, “Yes, lass. We’ll go to the tree…” Rhese continues his circuit around the island until late into the night.
Araatris: Pushing exhaustion once more, he finally wings his way back to the river, following it to the small camp of survivors. He lands by the water.
Rhoelyn: He shifts back to a night elf, catching the attention of the camp. Aleesa hurries over, “I’m glad that you came after all. Are you hungry?”
Araatris: The druid nods, unable to summon a friendly smile after a frustrating day. He mutters, “Thank you, Aleesa. I sent a few more this way.”
Rhoelyn: She gestures for him to join their campfire, “I was able to speak with the spirits today.” One of the others offers him a cooked fish on a stick.
Araatris: As he settles and gratefully accepts the food, he looks at the draenei. “Were they helpful, then?” She smiles and nods, fetching him water.
Rhoelyn: “More helpful than I had any right to expect.” She hands him the water. Still smiling, she continues, “The water spirits have seen Nyssera.”
Araatris: Rhese nearly drops the water, staring at her with wide eyes. “They h-have? Where?” He sets down his food carelessly and takes her hands.
Rhoelyn: She speaks softly, “She’s alive and in an underwater cave, but they couldn’t tell where.” She frees her hands and presses the food into his.
Araatris: “Underwater…” The druid blinks, clenching his fist to hide its tremor. “Cenarius’ beard… Aleesa, I don’t know how I can ever thank you for this.”
Rhoelyn: Aleesa pats his hand, “Help those you can like you did today. This Nyssera must be very special to you.” She sits back and grabs a piece of fruit.
Araatris: He truly smiles for the first time, nodding. “She is my light. I’ll send anyone else I meet to you. There aren’t words for how grateful I am.”
Rhoelyn: Dorian catches his attention, “Lad, we all needed some hope. We wish you luck finding your…” He grins, “Your light. Is she your wife then?”
Araatris: Rhese shrugs, scratching his cheek. “That’s a word that implies more pomp and ritual than we’ve observed, but yes… She is my mate. I need her.”
Rhoelyn: “I understand.” The dwarf chuckles, “Then I’m doubly glad that we could help you. Why don’t you rest here and start your search in the mornin’.”
Araatris: With a nod, he accepts the offer and finally digs in to the food they gave him. “Did you learn anything else from the spirits? About what happened?”
Rhoelyn: The dwarf nods, “Yeah, it seems something big ripped outta ground and wrecked havoc everywhere, but they didn’t want to mention what it was.”
Araatris: Rhese frowns thoughtfully. “That can’t be good. Do we have any idea where we are? I know our crew was expecting another few days to Stormwind.”
Rhoelyn: A sailor speaks up, “I think we’re still a couple days west of Stormwind on an island, but I’m not sure we should expect any boats passing by.”
Araatris: “You’re probably right about that, if the havoc really was everywhere.” The druid looks around at the camp. “The island has good resources.”
Rhoelyn: Aleesa agrees, “Especially now that we’ve found food to round out our diets, we can likely survive here for a little bit until help can arrive.”
Araatris: There are many nods around the campfire, and Dorian speaks up. “We can work on gatherin’ up the survivors an’ fortifyin’ this place. Jes’ in case.”
Rhoelyn: “I suppose that’s true. We did see some naga. We don’t know if they’ll come further inland.” Aleesa frowns and takes a bite of her hard fruit.
Araatris: Rhese looks over at her. “Naga? Where did you see naga?” The shaman shudders. “Under the water. They seemed to be… swarming around the wreck.”
Rhoelyn: She continues, “The spirit said that they’re taking the sailors captive. I wish we could help them, but we’re doing what we can up here.”
Araatris: The druid looks thoughtful, brows furrowing. “Why would the naga be taking captives? That’s not their usual murderous way. For better or worse.”
Rhoelyn: There’s a chorus of agreement. “I don’t know why either, lad. You should be careful looking for your lady.” Dorian’s knees pop as he stands.
Araatris: “I definitely will. Thank you for the warning.” Rhese finishes off his food, downing the water. The dwarf pats his shoulder. “You look exhausted.”
Rhoelyn: Rhese nods, “It’s been a long couple of days.” Dorian nods, “I imagine it has been at that. We made a large shelter over there. Go get some rest.”
Araatris: The druid stands, stretching and barely managing not to yawn. “I believe I will. I’ll leave first thing in the morning. Take care of yourselves.”
Rhoelyn: They wish him well as he ducks under the leafy covering into the soft moss they’re using as bedding. He settles into a corner and rests quietly.

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