Cata Arc – Chapter 10

Rhoelyn: Nysse awakens to Rhese’s voice, “No, I understand. It’s too risky for any of us to go while she’s like this.” The huntress tenses at the topic.
Araatris: The druid stands outside the shelter entrance, his body blocking her view. Whoever he’s talking to is too muffled to make out. “Of course.”
Rhoelyn: She sits up as Rhese nods again. Then there’s the crunch of grass as someone leaves. Nysse takes a calming breath, “Rhese, who stopped by?”
Araatris: With a surprised glance, he ducks back into the space. His smile is warm. “I didn’t know you’d woken. It was Dorian. Nithan will come soon.”
Rhoelyn: “Why is Nithan coming? Don’t we need to get ready to go?” The huntress shifts to her knees, but stops because Rhese is still in front of the exit.
Araatris: “He hasn’t finished unraveling what Anari did to you, Nysse.” Rhese shifts to take hold of her hand. “We need to be ready before we rush in.”
Rhoelyn: Her shoulders slump and she looks down as she mumbles, “I was hoping he’d finished so we could go. Did he fix your headache at least?”
Araatris: Nodding, he brushes her hair out of her eyes. “Be patient, love.” The druid grins. “You need to be able to punch Anari without hurting yourself.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse blushes, “I’d rather stay out of arm’s reach this time. Last time ended with you seeing me as a teenager.” She buries her face in her hands.
Araatris: He chuckles and tugs on her wrists until he can see her eyes. “You were a very cute -if grouchy- girl, love. But I agree. Stay out of reach.”
Rhoelyn: She latches onto the distraction and grins, “You were a bit of a sapling. Tall, but no muscle.” Nysse squeezes his arm. “That definitely changed.”
Araatris: He laughs and applies that muscle to tugging her against him so she won’t notice his burning cheeks. “I need all I c-” Nithan clears his throat.
Rhoelyn: The huntress squeaks and tries to pull away, but ends up more splayed across Rhese’s lap. “H-Hello. Umm. Just let me move so you can work…”
Araatris: The priest shifts off to the side with an amused look. “I hope I’m not interrupting,” he says, a teasing twinkle in his eye. Rhese coughs. “No.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse sits back cross-legged, then fidgets with her clothing, straightening them. “W-what do you need me to do?” Nithan slips past Rhese.
Araatris: The priest already eyes her like a particularly interesting challenge, a golden glow growing in his eyes. “Lay down. Or at least get comfortable.”
Rhoelyn: Rhese moves behind Nysse as she lays down and rests her head in his lap. Her cheeks are still rosy, “Am I allowed to talk to Rhese while you work?”
Araatris: He mutters, “Go ahead,” but it’s clear that he’s barely paying attention already. His hands hover above her heart, Light haloing them.
Rhoelyn: The huntress tugs at shirt hem nervously. Her eyes dart around, trying not to focus on Nithan. “I wonder how Rhoelyn and Tsume are doing.”
Araatris: Rhese lays his hand on her arm, his answer overly honest. “I’m sure they’re fine. I’ll be surprised if the chaos touched the Moonglade.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse’s eyes open wide at the possibility and she jerks in surprise. “Oh Elune… An’da, Min’da… the team. Oh no! I hope they’re all safe!”
Araatris: Nithan mumbles, “Hold still…” but she barely notices. Her druid looks down at her, “Don’t fret. I’m sure they are. Our people are resourceful.”
Rhoelyn: “But my last letter from An’da was in Auberdine. What if a wave like-.” Nysse is cut off by Rhese. “Then he’ll deal with it like we have, lovely.”
Araatris: He smooths his fingers over the furrows in her brow. “Our worry won’t help them, lovely. But maybe our faith can. We just need to get back.”
Rhoelyn: His huntress sighs, “We don’t even know how to do that. I doubt a rescue ship is going to stop by after so long. I hope someone has ideas.”
Araatris: “We’ll find a way, even if we have to build our own boat.” Rhese gives her a fond smile. “Now, relax. You’re not helping Nithan’s work.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse gives him a sheepish smile, “Yes, beloved. Do you think we could build a shelter for the wolves in Moonglade? The pack’s getting large.”
Araatris: “Mm…” His sigh is softened by a crooked grin. “If you promi-” Nysse jumps, hissing in pain as a pair of shallow cuts open on her forearm.
Rhoelyn: Nithan growls, “Keep her still! The naga priestess must have been injured.” Rhese presses her shoulders down quickly. “I’ll heal her.”
Araatris: Elsewhere, Anari presses a clawed hand over the wound, scolding, “Yami! Insssolent child, you must eat. Your mother isss not here, so make do.”
Rhoelyn: The wolf growls and backs away, shaking his head. Anari frowns, “Will you let yourself waste away simply because your mother isn’t here?”
Araatris: When the little wolf whines and lays down, refusing, she slants a frown to Kalis. “Dessspite his hunger, he defiesss compulsion.”
Rhoelyn: Kalis narrows his eyes. “Put him back with the othersss. Perhapsss he’ll be more inclined to follow their lead. Hisss hunger will win out.”
Araatris: The priestess bows her head, unable to completely silence her sigh. “As you wisssh, high priest. But hissss strength conssserns me.”
Rhoelyn: The naga priest considers her. “Hisss strength should fade if he doesn’t feed. However, I am willing to lisssten. What do you ssuggesst?”
Araatris: At a tingle on her arm, the naga looks down to note that the scratches are healing. She smirks smugly before giving her attention back to him.
Rhoelyn: “I’ll make sssure he worksss up an appetite firssst, then put him in the feeding pen with the otherss.” Anari amends. Kalis nods, “Do it.”
Araatris: “Come, Yami,” she beckons, offering the priest a respectful nod before leading him down one of the larger tunnels. The wolf pads at her side.
Rhoelyn: They enter a large cave. “You need to be familiar with all shapes, child. This is the room of Changing.” Around the room were various statues.
Araatris: The wolf looks up at her for a moment, tilting his head, and then his form ripples into the little nightelven boy. He gives her a proud grin.
Rhoelyn: Anari frowns and shakes her head. “That is but one of many. It’s sentimental at best and useless at worst. Try a naga. At least we have claws.”
Araatris: The child looks around at the statues before turning his black gaze back to her. He gives himself a serpentine tail and the wind serpent’s wings.
Rhoelyn: She nods, “Much better. Though you’d be much more protected if you had scales.” The priestess slithers to a statue of a saber. “Try this one.”
Araatris: With a giggle, he reaches out to the statue and pats it. Yami looks at Anari and shifts into an echo of Rhese’s cat form, complete with tattoo.
Rhoelyn: Anari chooses not to comment, reflecting that the change serves its purpose regardless of the detail. She takes him to the next statue.
Araatris: The water elemental is carefully carved from stone, so when the creature copies it, his appearance matches. She shakes her head.
Rhoelyn: The priestess elaborates, “That is a water elemental. Except for the bracers,” she taps one of his wrists, “they should be made of rushing water.”
Araatris: Yami licks at Anari’s thoughts to understand before he changes the supple stone to water. With an unhappy trill, he quickly reverts back to the boy.
Rhoelyn: “Why do you reject the form, child? Try it again.” Anari scowls and points at the water elemental. Yami shakes his head, “No. Want Min’da.”
Araatris: She watches him coolly. “She isss not here. Do you hunger?” The little boy nods, sniffling. He repeats himself, tears in his eyes. “Min’da.”
Rhoelyn: Anari snaps, “She left you here with us. It would be better to join your siblings. We are not going to hunt her down just to feed you. Now change.”
Araatris: His little lip pops out and his brows draw down. He runs over and clambers on to the saber statue, ignoring her scolding, “Foolish child!”
Rhoelyn: The child clings to the statue, sobbing, “An’da! Min’da!” The naga priestess snarls in frustration, “Yami! Behave yourself! You need to train.”
Araatris: Reaching up, she grabs his waist and tugs him away from the statue. The boy’s snarl ripples into the wolf’s, and he flails, scratching her belly.
Rhoelyn: Nysse gasps as fresh blood seeps through her shirt. Rhese grabs her wrists to keep her from narrowly hitting Nithan. “Please tell me you’re close.”
Araatris: The priest sighs. “Close is a relative term. I can’t dispell this.” He holds up a hand when Rhese opens his mouth. “I’ve managed something else.”
Rhoelyn: Rhese holds Nysse’s hand as he holds the other hand, glowing green, over her. “I’m hoping that it’s going to stop them from hurting Nysse.”
Araatris: Scrubbing his hands over his face, Nithan sits back. His head droops. “I’ve woven a fragment of Light into the curse. It’ll degrade over time.”
Rhoelyn: The druid frowns and soothes Nysse’s hair from her face with a sigh, “I appreciate what you’ve done, but do you have any idea how long it’ll take?”
Araatris: “Give it about a candlemark. I’ll check how much it’s degrading and have a better idea, then.” Aleesa sticks her head into the shelter. “Nithan?”
Rhoelyn: Nithan turns, “Yes?” Aleesa smiles, “Faye wanted to know if you want some dinner?” Nysse looks dismayed as she looks out into the dusk.
Araatris: “Yes.” The priest looks over at the night elves. “It’s been a long day.” Rhese glances down at Nysse’s white knuckles. “We’ll be right along…”
Rhoelyn: The priest nods and follows Aleesa out. Nysse sits after they leave. She whispers harshly, “I don’t want to wait. I’m not leaving Yami, Rhese.”
Araatris: The druid looks down at his hands, flexing his fists. “No one is talking about leaving Yami, Nysse. Let’s think this through: say we go tonight…”
Rhoelyn: “…and Anari blocks our path. We can’t fight her, love. Anything that injures her will injure you as well, and I doubt my vines would hold her.”
Araatris: Nysse’s brow furrows as she looks outside their shelter. “Then injure me.” Her eyes widen, and she turns to him. “We have a way to stop her.”
Rhoelyn: Rhese narrows his eyes and responds firmly, “We’re not going to hurt you to get to her.” Nysse grabs his hands, “Please hear me out.”
Araatris: The druid scowls, but stays silent as she continues. “Anari is counting on you being unwilling to harm me. It’s how she protected herself!”
Rhoelyn: He shakes his head, incredulous, “What do you expect me to do? Break your arms so she can’t cast her spells?” Nysse casts him a hopeful look.
Araatris: “Nysse!” Rhese exclaims, feeling no particular need to tell her how impossible that idea is. She lowers her head. “Maybe… something less extreme?”
Rhoelyn: She continues softly, “Maybe you could dislocate or numb my arms. It’d have the same effect and give you an advantage. I’d…I’d stay here.”
Araatris: The druid stares at her hands on his, his brow furrowed. After a moment, he says, “I’m not doing that. I can’t. But maybe…” He hesitates.
Rhoelyn: Nysse raises a hand to his cheek, “I can’t stand the idea of Yami alone with them, beloved.” Her thumb runs across his cheekbone. “What is it?”
Araatris: He closes his eyes on a sigh before opening them to regard her gravely. “When we were speaking the other day, Kreston mentioned a blinding poison.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse inhales sharply, pondering that. She closes her eyes and fights down the uneasiness. Rhese counters, “We don’t have to do it, lovely.”
Araatris: “We do,” she gulps, her voice not as confident as her words. “I want Yami back. He’s ours. A-and Anari’s so strong….will it be permanent?”
Rhoelyn: Rhese looks at her in shock, “Do you really think I’d suggest something that I couldn’t heal, Nysse? It’d only be until I could cleanse it.”
Araatris: She looks so relieved at this that the druid groans and wraps his arms around her. “Take a deep breath. You’re worrying yourself into a miasma.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress leans against him and takes several deep breaths before smiling gratefully at him, “You’re right. I let myself get out of sorts.”
Araatris: Rhese brushes her hair back before leaning down to kiss her. “I’ll talk to Kreston. Let’s go get some dinner and see what the others think.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods. “I am starving,” she admits. Rhese chuckles and releases her to get out of the enclosure. He follows. “We can’t let you starve.”
Araatris: A while later, they sit around the fire, mostly finished with dinner and strategy. Aleesa looks at Kreston. “You think we can find the ingredients?”
Rhoelyn: “I’ve seen them around. It’ll be difficult to find them in this light, but I can manage.” Kreston looks at Nysse. “Are you sure about this?”
Araatris: The huntress nods. “I trust you both.” She looks between Kreston and Rhese, clenching a fist. “I want Yami back. And Korran can protect me.”
Rhoelyn: The druid frowns in concern, “Nysse, love, we haven’t practiced. You managed during the fight down there, but I’m not sure you can depend on it.”
Araatris: She tries to offer him a confident smile, but it’s a little watery. “I can depend on Korran. And that way, I can come with you. Yami needs me.”
Rhoelyn: Rhese balks, “Absolutely not! You’re going to be blind, Nysse!” She looks to the others, meeting more shocked expressions, “Korran can help me.”
Araatris: She turns back to Rhese. “He can protect me and be my eyes.” The druid’s brow furrows. “What?” “I…” Nysse looks down. “I think he can.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress chews on her nail nervously, “I catch glimpses through his eyes. If he’s near enough, I might even be able to use my bow.”
Araatris: The druid ducks his head to look her in the eyes. “How certain are you, lovely? If you find out you’re wrong when you’re down there and blinded…”
Rhoelyn: “I’m certain. I just never had to try it before now. I wouldn’t mention it if I didn’t think it’d work. It might be a little disorienting though…”
Araatris: Kreston stands and rubs his hands together. “This is gonna work. I’ll get to work finding the ingredients.” Rhese sighs and Nysse grins.
Rhoelyn: As Kreston leaves, Aleesa hands Nysse a piece of fruit. She tactfully mentions, “Would you like some time alone before we start our plans?”
Araatris: Glancing over at the druid’s closed expression, Nysse clutches the fruit and gives her a little grin. “Yes, we should…uh… get our things.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse grasps Rhese’s hand and tugs him after her as they leave the others. Dorian’s comment hangs in the air behind them, “Lass, it’s not like-.”
Araatris: “Nysse,” the druid balks halfway back to their shelter. He tugs her to a stop. “Let’s just get going. There’s nothing left to talk about.”
Rhoelyn: She frowns and sighs, “Rhese…” He starts to pull her back to the main part of the camp, but she digs in her heels. “You’re upset. Please talk.”
Araatris: Rhese scrubs his hands over his face before staring out over the camp. Finally, he Iooks back at her. “I believe in you, love. It’s a good plan.”
Rhoelyn: “But you don’t like it,” Nysse finishes. She leans up and kisses him, “Dalah’surfal, I will be careful, but I would go mad waiting here.”
Araatris: “I know that.” He rests his hands on her waist with a grimace. “I still can’t like it. You’d never fit in the safe place I want to put you.”
Rhoelyn: Her hands brush his neck, straightening his necklace. “The safest place for me is at your side. You’d worry about leaving me here regardless.”
Araatris: He smirks. “Either way, I am left worrying for you, Nysse. I hope you like wrinkles. This love is going to make me an old elf before my time.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse smiles coyly, “Then we’ll have to balance it with things that make you feel young, won’t we?” Her hands intertwine behind his neck.
Araatris: “That’s the best idea of the day,” Rhese rumbles with an answering smile, sliding his hands to her back. “I hope you have a detailed strategy.”
Rhoelyn: She blushes, “You delayed the first step which was kidnapping you back to the shelter.” Nysse raises on her toes slightly to kiss him.
Araatris: When they raise their heads, the druid takes her hand and changes direction. “How rude of me to delay… There are important things we need.”
Rhoelyn: A couple of hours later, Nysse and Rhese return to the central fire. The huntress’ cheeks are flushed, but she smiles and greets them happily.
Araatris: Kreston chuckles and stands, holding out a rough bowl of noxious-smelling ooze. “I’m glad you’re both in a good mood. Because we’re ready.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse gapes at the bowl even as she takes it. “This is it? And I’m supposed to drink this?” Kreston nods. She glances at Rhese questionly.
Araatris: He shrugs. The human says, “If you prefer, I can put it on a dagger and cut you, instead. It’s a faster effect, that way. Just a shallow cut.”
Rhoelyn: “Faster is better. I’d rather get it over with. I’m hoping you were pulling my leg about drinking it.” Nysse grimaces at Kreston’s grin.
Rhoelyn: He chuckles, “It would have worked, but definitely unpleasant.” He dips a dagger blade into the bowl, wiping the excess on the edge.
Araatris: As he waves the weapon to help the poison dry, Rhese addresses the others. “So, we use Aleesa’s tunnel to get in. Stealth is still the goal.”
Rhoelyn: Dorian nods, “O’course, lad. We get in, stop the naga priests, get Yami, and get back out before anyone’s the wiser. No unnecessary risks.”
Araatris: When no one else has anything to add, they start to gather up to leave. “Nithan,” Rhese beckons, “Can I have a word for a moment?”
Rhoelyn: They head to the side out of hearing of the others. Nithan asks in a low tone, “Is there a problem?” Rhese runs a hand through his hair with a sigh.
Araatris: “Yes. Probably. What do you know about compulsion?” The priest blinks at him. “As in mind control?” “I… suppose?” Rhese grimaces.
Rhoelyn: Nithan raises his eyebrow, and Rhese continues, “They seem to use a type of name magic. If they use your name, they can order you to do something.”
Araatris: The priest blinks. “That… that isn’t any kind of Shadow magic I’ve ever heard of.” “Rot!” Rhese curses. “I was hoping you’d know a way around it.”
Rhoelyn: Nithan frowns, “She didn’t use any of our names. Does she have both of yours?” Rhese shakes his head, “I’ve managed to keep Nysse’s from her.”
Araatris: He frowns. “But she has mine. So does Kalis. It’s… a problem. I haven’t managed to resist for long – if at all – when she used it against me.”
Rhoelyn: The human priest’s brow furrows. “That’s concerning to say the least. We can’t keep you from hearing. Too bad we can’t-.” He looks at Nysse.
Araatris: Rhese follows his gaze with a thoughtful expression. “I’ve never heard of a deafening poison. But it’s easy enough to not hear.”
Rhoelyn: “Are there any material around here where that you can use to make ear plugs?” Nithan ponders. Kreston runs his dagger lightly over Nysse’s forearm.
Araatris: The druid grins. “I know just the thing. Get the others moving. I’ll catch up in a minute.” He turns and sprints off as a cat.
Rhoelyn: Nithan watches him leave before joining the others. He notes her quickly dulling eyes. “Nysse, you should summon Korran. We need to get moving.”
Araatris: The huntress fidgets nervously as her sight fades, but she nods. She reaches for Korran, feeling the answering glow of his presence.
Rhoelyn: Nysse kneels down and a ghostly wolf forms in front of her. She reaches out and leans her forehead against his. “Please be my eyes, Korran.”
Araatris: He speaks in a voice only she can hear. “As you wish, Nyssera. You have gotten stronger.” He closes his eyes and when he opens them, she sees.
Rhoelyn: She stands slowly. Korran grows slightly and tucks himself against her side. She takes a few in sync steps with the wolf. “This… will work.”
Araatris: Anari screeches, attendants trying to console her as she flails in darkness. “What hasss happened?! Great One! Kalis! Sssummon the high priest.”
Rhoelyn: “Immediately, Priessstesss Anari.” A simpering naga sounds like he rushes out of the room. The priestess jerks away from the touch her acolyte.
Araatris: “Leave me,” she snarls, curling into herself with her arms folded tight across her chest. “All of you… Out! Take the children to the cresssch!”
Rhoelyn: There’s a flurry of activity as they obey. Anari thrashes her tail until it quiets. Shortly after, she hears soft movement. “High Priest Kaliss?”
Araatris: The priest rasps, “Yesss, Anari.” His voice drips with irritation. “I sseem to have been sssummoned.” She shudders, bowing her head.
Rhoelyn: Anari bows lower, trying to find to source of his quiet voice. “My deepesst apologiess, High Priest. I am… inconvenienced without my ssight.”
Araatris: She jumps when he suddenly bursts out laughing. “Lacking visssion?” She can hear him slither around her. “Our great Lord hasss a sense of humor.”
Rhoelyn: “I don’t undersstand. How am I ssuppossed to complete my tassk like thisss?” She gestures to her face. “What happened? Have I disspleassed him?”
Araatris: She flinches to feel his touch against her arm as he prods at a stinging cut. “No. You have forged the bond traveled in both directions.”
Rhoelyn: Anari stills and turns her head towards his voice, “It can’t be undone without the female, but that means she has lost her sight as well.”
Araatris: “Yesss,” he nods. “It isss to our benefit, sssince the child still resists. The way will sssoon be opened, and the prophecy must be fulfilled.”
Rhoelyn: The priestess bows her head again, “I am pleasssed to do the Great One’s bidding, Kalisss. My acolytess will assissst with the preparationss.”
Araatris: After a long enough silence that she starts to wonder if he’s gone, the priest flicks his tail against the floor. “Yesss, the time isss here.”

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