Cata Arc – Chapter 8

Rhoelyn: Nysse is burning up when the first vestiges of consciousness hit. Slow awareness of screams, the cold ground, and chains jumble in her mind.
Araatris: In between moments, she’s aware of a soft, cajoling voice annoying her about doing things when she only wants to rest. “Nysse, you must drink.”
Rhoelyn: She tries to protest, but her throat is dry and her arms leaden. Something is placed against her lips. This time she does drink the cool liquid.
Araatris: Aleesa sighs as Nysse drifts back to sleep, hiding the rough-hewn cup in a crack in the damp rock around them. She rests a hand on her arm.
Rhoelyn: “Stay with us, Nysse.” Aleesa mutters. A few minutes later, a naga rises out of the water. His gaze locks on Aleesa and Nysse. “You there.”
Araatris: The draenei ducks her head to hide her frown. “Yes?” He slithers over and grabs Nysse by the arm. “Wake thisss one. The priestess sssummons her.”
Rhoelyn: Reluctantly, Aleesa admits, “I’ve been trying. She won’t stay awake.” The guard locks manacles on Nysse’s wrist. “Try again, draenei.”
Araatris: The shaman grits her teeth, gesturing to the rune-carved chain around her ankle. “My magic could help–” He glares. “No magic. Wake her.”
Rhoelyn: Aleesa drops her gaze and tries to wake Nysse again. The huntress groans and her eyes open slightly. “They’re taking you to the naga priestess…”
Araatris: Nysse stares up at her, her gaze cloudy with fever. “Cal?” The draenei blinks as Nysse grabs at her hands. “Cal, you came! They t-took m-”
Rhoelyn: “That’sss enough,” the guard growls. “Get on your feet.” He roughly pulls her up. Nysse twists toward Aleesa as she stands, “Cal, what’s going on?”
Araatris: Aleesa watches her worriedly, clutching her hands for as long as the guard will let her. “Nysse, try to focus. Cal is not here; you are in danger.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse looks at the naga finally with a frown. “Danger.” Her gaze turns back to Aleesa. “Not Cal…Ale-Aleesa?” The naga pulls Nysse away.
Araatris: The shaman nods and offers her a tremulous smile before he tugs her into the water by her wrists. The cool ocean is soothing against her skin.
Rhoelyn: Naga swim in the water around them carrying crates. After a few minutes, they enter a cave. Nysse stumbles as they exit the water. “Ugh!”
Araatris: The guard supports her with an annoyed grumble as she tries to keep her wobbly, weak legs underneath her. In the cool cavern air, she shivers.
Rhoelyn: Anari slithers to them and she grabs Nysse’s arm from the other naga. She commands, “Leave usss.” The huntress gazes up in confusion and worry.
Araatris: She says nothing, tugging Nysse along the winding tunnels in a cavern far larger than any other they’ve seen. The huntress struggles to keep up.
Rhoelyn: The priestess takes her to the center and chains her by an altar. “Your child isss hungry. You mussst feed him.” Nysse rasps, “Chil–Yami?”
Araatris: The black wolf stalks out of a side tunnel, earning himself a frown from the priestess. “Really, child. You mussst stop clinging to that weak form.”
Rhoelyn: Yami growls in response as he steps up to Nysse. The huntress reaches out for him. “Yami…” Anari narrows her eyes, “Don’t play with your food.”
Araatris: The wolf cringes, rippling unsteadily but maintaining his form. Nysse sniffles when the shackles prevent her from touching him. “Sweetie.”
Rhoelyn: “My sweet Yami. What are they doing to you?” She hunches over as a coughing fit shakes her. Anari snaps, “Show your true self to her and feed.”
Araatris: When his form ripples, Nysse finds it difficult not to avert her eyes. He is indistinct, vaguely tentacled. His lick against her mind is tender.
Rhoelyn: Nysse smiles at his mental touch even as his form makes her head swim. “You looked like that when you were born, but it’s so hard to focus…”
Araatris: Yami touches her bound hand with a tentacle, trilling happily until Anari growls. “No! True ssssustenance.” She levels a claw at Nysse, whispering.
Rhoelyn: The huntress shrieks as shadows wrap around her and agony blossoms in her head. “He killed your mate or are you too delirious to remember that?”
Araatris: “No!” Nysse pulls against the manacles, arcing her back in pain. “He wouldn’t!” Despite her words, her eyes shine with tears. “Where is Rhese?”
Rhoelyn: Anari grins broadly and leans over, whispering, “He is dead.” She glances at Yami and gestures at Nysse. “This will provide a much better meal.”
Araatris: The huntress bites her lip, but she can’t close her mind to the thought and the pain that comes with it. Yami shudders and presses close to her.
Rhoelyn: She wheezes and leans into Yami’s fur. The wolf’s nose rubs against her cheek, wiping away her tears. Satisfied, Anari turns to her other tasks.
Araatris: After a short while, exhausted and ill, Nysse droops in her manacles, somewhere between asleep and unconscious. Yami trills and curls up beside her.
Rhoelyn: After a while, Kalis enters from another hallway. “Are they ready, Anari? It isss almossst time for the ritual.” He frowns at the wolf-Yami.
Araatris: The priestess sighs, clenching her fist. “The prodigal ssson clings to them both.” She looks at him. “We ssshould kill them, Kalis. Remove them.”
Rhoelyn: Kalis shakes his head. “The prophecy says that he must earn his mother’s hate. We cannot kill her. Have one of the others take his form and act.”
Araatris: Anari’s smile is vicious. “Geniusss. Will you give me the druid? If we want her true hatred, we mussst leave her no room for doubt.”
Rhoelyn: The high priest regards her before shifting his gaze to Nysse and Yami. He nods and allows the hint of a grin. “He is yours. Yami, come with me.”
Araatris: The wolf gets to his feet, but before he does as bidden, he nuzzles Nysse’s cheek and gives her a lick. Both priests frown to see it.
Rhoelyn: “I will send one of its siblings and a guard with her mate. Seek me when it is done.” Kalis leaves with Yami following obediently at his heels.
Araatris: After he has gone, the priestess slithers over to Nysse, grabbing her chin to lift her head. She “tsks” unhappily at her raging fever.
Rhoelyn: Anari drops the huntress’ head and moves to a work table. She mixes herbs and liquids into a pungent mixture, chanting under her breath.
Araatris: As she works, a guard enters, tugging Rhese along by the manacles at his wrists. A rune-carved chain like Aleesa’s wraps around his ankle.
Rhoelyn: Rhese suddenly lurches forward and raises his voice, “Nysse! What have you done to her?” The guard tightens his grip on the chains and pulls back.
Araatris: The naga barely looks up, swirling the mixture around in a vial. “Relatively little, ssslave. Ssshe ssuffers from her own foolishness.”
Rhoelyn: She holds it up and nods to herself. “We will need her awake for the next bit. This should serve that purpose.” A Yami-like wolf enters the cave.
Araatris: Rhese frowns and tugs against the guard’s grip, rattling the chain. “Put him there.” She gestures to a pair of manacles on the wall.
Rhoelyn: Despite Rhese pulling towards Nysse, he’s drug to the wall and locked in. Anari returns to the huntress and places the vial at her lips. “Drink.”
Araatris: “Leave her alone!” The druid yanks at his chains, growling, and the priestess looks up to glare at him. “Be sssssilent, Rhese Sssilverwing.”
Rhoelyn: The druid glares at her and growls despite the compulsion. Nysse shifts uneasily, but drinks it, gagging slightly at the flavor. The naga smiles.
Araatris: The huntress droops again when Anari slips away, coughing against the taste and the odd feel of the potion. Her fever breaks soon after.
Rhoelyn: Nysse finally looks around with clear eyes, her pallor much improved. Her eyes lock on the druid across the room and she jerks her chains. “Rhese!”
Araatris: He yanks at his chains, straining toward her, but he says nothing. Anari watches them from her workbench, smirking and petting the void wolf.
Rhoelyn: Her labored breathing is the only sound in the cave. The huntress turns her gaze on the naga and snarls, “You lied. I knew Yami wouldn’t hurt him.”
Araatris: Anari smiles, an expression that sends a shiver down Nysse’s spine. “Correction. Yami hasss not hurt him. Yet.” She whispers in the wolf’s ear.
Rhoelyn: “Yami?” Nysse calls out, “Sweetie?” The wolf ignores her and stalks toward Rhese. Her heart pounds, and she strains at the chains again. “Yami!”
Araatris: The druid gives up tugging on the chains, his narrowed gaze on the wolf. He braces himself to fight, despite the fact that he can’t move far.
Rhoelyn: The wolf lunges forward, snapping his jaws, then bouncing back when Rhese hits him across the nose. Growling, it rakes its claws down at the druid.
Araatris: Nysse gasps as the druid turns aside as best he can, taking the strike as long gashes down his arm. “No, Yami! Don’t hurt him!”
Rhoelyn: While he’s turned, the Yami-like snaps in, biting at his forearm. Rhese’s expression contorts in pain as he punches at the void beast.
Araatris: Anari slithers over by Nysse as the void wolf uses his grip on the druid’s arm to shove him against the wall. “Ssslowly, child,” she corrects.
Rhoelyn: The wolf releases him and hops away, licking around his mouth. Nysse yells and struggles, “Yami, please stop! He’s your an’da, remember?”
Araatris: The creature doesn’t even glance at Nysse, instead padding over to the priestess for a pat on the head. “There you are, child. A bite at a time.”
Rhoelyn: “It’s like he doesn’t know us at all…” She whispers. She stares as Rhese attempts to stop the bleeding on his arm. “Why are you doing this?”
Araatris: At a gesture, the void wolf approaches him once more. “He doesss not choose you, elf. This is how he ansswers your foolish love.” Anari sneers.
Rhoelyn: Nysse looks away, clenching her fists. A soft blue glow surrounds her as she speaks softly, “He is still Yami, but I can’t allow him to hurt Rhese.”
Araatris: Rhese manages to dodge the wolf’s first lunge. The priestess hisses and backs away as Korran’s ghostly lupine form appears in front of Nysse.
Rhoelyn: Korran charges forward, knocking the void creature aside. He turns and stands in front of Rhese with a snarl. Nysse glares at the priestess.
Araatris: The other wolf scrabbles back to his paws, growling at Korran, while the naga grabs her staff from her work table. “What isss thisss?” she gasps.
Rhoelyn: “Your plan meeting an unexpected hiccup. Now undo whatever you did to Yami.” Nysse bluffs, “It’s only a matter of time before we’re free.”
Araatris: “There isss nothing to undo, elf.” Anari levels her staff at Nysse, sneering. She speaks over her shoulder. “Rhese Sssilverwing, tell me her name.”
Rhoelyn: Rhese speaks through clenched teeth, “Nyss–” Nysse shrieks, drowning out the druid. Nysse lunges for the priestess despite the chains.
Araatris: The naga growls and swings her staff at Nysse’s ribs. The two wolves trade blows by Rhese, snarling and snapping and swiping at each other.
Rhoelyn: Restricted, she hisses as the staff connects with crack. Nysse crouches and holds her side. “Go rot. You’ll have to kill me before I give up.”
Araatris: Anari grins, twirling her staff before slamming the end into the floor. “Let usss see the depthsss of your determination, little mother.”
Rhoelyn: The priestess looks over her shoulder, “Rhessse Sssilverwing, destroy her wolf.” The moment Korran backs away the void wolf snaps at Rhese again.
Araatris: The druid staggers, a move that narrowly saves him from the void wolf’s bite. He snarls and presses himself away from Korran in defiance.
Rhoelyn: Nysse frowns and narrows her eyes at the void wolf. “That’s not–.” Shouting from down one of the tunnels interrupts the huntress. Anari curses.
Araatris: “Thisss has gone on long enough. Kill him, child… Yami. No more gamess.” She points at Nysse, whispering to the shadows. “Say goodbye, elf.”
Rhoelyn: Fiery spheres slam into Anari’s back throwing her into Nysse. With a vicious smile, the huntress grabs for the ceremonial knife at the naga’s waist.
Araatris: “Agh!” Nysse gets a close view of the naga’s pained face as she sinks the blade into her side. Anari flails, her claws raking across Nysse’s cheek.
Rhoelyn: With a wolf-like growl, Nysse stabs the priestess again. She vaguely realizes that her cheek burns and the noise around her, but pushes it away.
Araatris: The priestess throws herself away from the blade and the elf with another pained shriek, her staff clenched in her fist. “Guardsss!”
Rhoelyn: Nysse strains at the full range of her manacles. “Get back here!” Behind Anari, Nithan directs Aleesa, “Get Rhese free. I’ll take care of the creature.”
Araatris: The priest wreaths himself in shadows as Korran distracts the void creature, gathering a vicious spell fueled by his anger. He sneers.
Rhoelyn: His shadows streak toward the void wolf like an arrow, causing the creature to howl and lose its shape. Aleesa bolts around the naga to Rhese.
Araatris: The druid manages a grateful look as she whispers to the metal in his shackles. “Hold on to me,” she says, slipping his arm over her shoulder.
Rhoelyn: Weapons clash in the tunnels, echoing into the main chamber. Anari hisses angrily at Nysse, “You! High priessst Kalisss will deal with you.”
Araatris: The huntress continues to strain at the shackles, the bloody dagger in her white-knuckled fist. Her breath comes in gasps. “Where is Yami?!”
Rhoelyn: The priestess ignores the question and whispers, gathering shadows into her hands. “It is time for you to sleep.” The shadows surge toward Nysse.
Araatris: Nithan gasps, breaking off mid-spell against the void creature, and whips his head around. But he’s too late. Nysse groans and slumps in her bonds.
Rhoelyn: “Faye!” Nithan calls as the naga picks up Nysse. The sentinel steps out from a tunnel and follows his gaze. He points to the huntress. “Stop her!”
Araatris: The sentinel rushes toward Anari, a stolen polearm swinging in front of her. With Nysse unconscious, the spectral wolf fades away mid-leap.
Rhoelyn: Anari cries out as the blade strikes her shoulder and she slithers to the far side of Nysse. The arm hangs simply at her side. “Wretched creatures.”
Araatris: Her good arm is wrapped across the huntress’ chest, her staff grasped tight. The priestess backs away from Faye. “Ssstay back, or I kill this one.”
Rhoelyn: Faye frowns, “Then why would you go to the trouble of knocking her out and taking her with you? You need her for something.” The sentinel advances.
Araatris: “Look out!” Aleesa yanks a wall of rock from the cavern floor behind Faye as the void-creature spins away from Nithan, launching at her.
Rhoelyn: Nithan runs by Faye. “Let’s trade.” He jerks his thumb at the creature. The priest gathers his magic around him as he approaches Anari.
Araatris: Against the cavern wall, Rhese curses as he fumbles at the chain around his ankle with blood-slick and unsteady hands. The lock is steadfast.
Rhoelyn: Kreston kneels down next to him. “We stole a key. It worked for Aleesa and Nithan. Let’s get you out of that.” He slides the key into the manacle.
Araatris: The druid breathes a sigh of relief when the silencing cuff clicks open. “Thank you,” he grunts, pushing against the wall as he stands.
Rhoelyn: Kreston offers a steadying arm. “Careful there. Can you heal yourself?” There’s an inhuman shriek as Faye cuts across the void creature.
Araatris: Rhese glances over at where Faye fights before pulling his gaze back to the human. His fists clench. “I… yes. Go on. That witch has Nysse.”
Rhoelyn: The sailor glances over his shoulder in alarm, “For the love of–.” He runs over to cut off the naga’s escape. Nithan gathers power in his hands.
Araatris: Anari backs away from the priest, her own shadows, gathered around her in defense, tattered and worn from his attacks. Blood drips from her wounds.
Rhoelyn: The priest growls, “Set her down.” The naga stares at him in desperation. Her claws dig deeply into Nysse where she slips in Anari’s grip.
Araatris: Her eyes dart from where the void child fights Faye to the indistinct effigy on the altar. She straightens and whispers something in Nysse’s ear.
Rhoelyn: Nysse opens her eyes, black and without any pupil. She stands and Anari releases her with a rasping chuckle, “Our life forces are bound.”
Araatris: “No!” Rhese steps toward Nysse. “Yesss,” the naga asserts, pressing her hand over the wounds. “If I die, so doesss she. You, druid. Heal me.”
Rhoelyn: New wounds open on Nysse that mirror Anari’s injuries. Rhese clenches his hands into fists. “Release her and we’ll let you live. I swear.”
Araatris: The priestess repeats her demand, moving back from Nysse a few paces. “Heal me and you heal her.” Blood seeps through the side of Nysse’s tunic.
Rhoelyn: Gritting his teeth, Rhese walks towards them. “What if I heal her? Will it heal you as well? You’ll understand if I don’t want to get too close.”
Araatris: At her nod, he reaches for Nysse, his power gathering in his hands. The wounds, shared between the both of them, take time and effort to heal.
Rhoelyn: While Rhese takes care of Nysse, Faye blocks another blow from the smaller void naga. Sweat drips down her face. “Nysse had faith in you…”
Araatris: Nithan presses his lips into a tight line, the only outward sign of his frustration. Aleesa steps up, whispering, “What has she done to Nysse?”
Rhoelyn: “She tied their lives together. If we kill Anari, Nysse dies as well.” He grimaces, “Likely it can be undone, but not in time to do us any good.”
Araatris: The draenei frowns. “We cannot have long left before they clear the blocked tunnels. Do we take the witch with us? What about Yami? Nysse w-”
Rhoelyn: Nithan cuts her off, “We leave the creature. I’m not risking my neck for it.” Aleesa frowns. “You know that’s not Yami over there, don’t you?”
Araatris: From the surprised look he gives her, he definitely did not know. “Are you sure?” The shaman nods. “I thought it was obvious to everyone.”
Rhoelyn: He frowns. “Then what did they do with Yami?” Nithan watches Nysse, who is nearly healed. “Can the spirits tell where he may be? Anything?”
Araatris: Aleesa shakes her head. “It has taken all of my best efforts to get them to block the tunnels and protect Faye. They will not answer me about Yami.”
Rhoelyn: The priest sighs, “Then it doesn’t matter. We’ll still have to leave him. We’re running short on time.” Anari backs toward one of the tunnels.
Araatris: “Child,” she calls to the void creature, watching Kreston out of the corner of her eye. “Leave her. We have reached our resolution… for now.”
Rhoelyn: The creature bolts toward Anari and follows her down the tunnel. Rhese gently shakes the huntress with a worried frown, “Nysse, can you hear me?”
Araatris: “Nysse!” When she doesn’t respond, staring blankly through dark eyes, he looks at Nithan desperately. But Kreston speaks up. “They’re coming!”
Rhoelyn: Nithan shakes his head. “There’s no time. Grab her and follow Aleesa!” Rhese nods and sweeps Nysse into his arms without any resistance.
Araatris: The shaman leads them down one of the side tunnels until she stops and presses her hand against the damp stone. An opening to a new tunnel appears.
Rhoelyn: They slip into it and Aleesa closes it behind them. “This way. It leads up near the palisades not far from the camp.” Rhese frowns, “Is that safe?”
Araatris: She shrugs. “As safe as I can make it. The tunnel can be collapsed with a well-placed whisper.” Kreston adds with a smirk. “Or a stout hammer.”
Rhoelyn: The druid sighs. “What about camp? They came after us once there…” Nithan pats his shoulder. “Without the storm, it’ll be harder to sneak up on us.”
Araatris: Faye walks calmly beside Nithan, her expression grim. “Still, we must face facts. We are alone and at war with naga zealots and their… pets.”
Rhoelyn: “If Nysse or I had our hearthstones, we could call the Cenarion Circle, but we lost them in the shipwreck.” He shifts Nysse in his arms.
Araatris: Aleesa sighs, “Even were we able to reach them, I fear they could not afford to come. The spirits moan almost deliriously about chaos everywhere.”
Rhoelyn: They fall silent until they reach a dip in the tunnel where water is visible. Faye offers, “Do you want me to take her so you can change forms?”
Araatris: Rhese shakes his head, but Kreston puts a hand on his shoulder. “She’s being polite. You’re pale. You bled a lot and spent your energy on healing.”
Rhoelyn: Reluctantly, the druid allows Faye to take Nysse. “I’ll be very careful with her. You can have her back the moment we reach the beach.”
Araatris: “Thank you,” he mutters. Falling back into brooding silence, they wander along as the tunnel continues to twist and turn up toward the surface.
Rhoelyn: They step out into open air near the palisades. It’s a clear, quiet night in contrast to the battle they’d just fought. Rhese looks at Faye.
Araatris: The sentinel sighs at his unspoken question, handing Nysse over gently. “She hasn’t moved so much as a muscle.” He cradles her against his chest.
Rhoelyn: Rhese nods and gazes worriedly at Nysse. “I’ll check what’s wrong at camp. Let’s go.” Faye exchanges a glance with Nithan as they fall behind Rhese.
Araatris: Dorian greets them at the main gate, where already the defenses have seen improvement. He smiles at Kreston. “You got ‘em? Lad, ye’re a marvel!”
Rhoelyn: Kreston offers a small smile, then glances back at Rhese. “We did well enough, but Yami is still back there and Nysse is… unresponsive.”
Araatris: The dwarf’s smile slips a bit as Rhese carries Nysse past him. The druid rumbles, “I’m taking her to our shelter. Aleesa? Nithan? I need you.”
Rhoelyn: The sailor sighs, “I’ll catch you up, Dorian.” Rhese walks into the shelter and lays Nysse on the floor, tenderly adjusting her limbs comfortably.
Araatris: “Nysse, love…” He brushes her hair out of her face, watching her blink black, empty eyes. “Come back.” Rhese rests glowing hands on her.
Rhoelyn: Nithan steps into the opening and speaks quietly, “That won’t work. No more than your magic worked on your headache. How is your head?”
Araatris: “It’s fine.” His response is surly enough to call his words into doubt. “What has she done to Nysse? I can feel the… the shroud over her, but…”
Rhoelyn: The priest kneels down on the other side and holds his own hands over her. After a long moment, he speaks, “She locked Nysse within her own mind.”
Araatris: Rhese grasps her hand between his. “Can you undo it?” The man considers that before glancing up. “It’s not quite that simple.”
Rhoelyn: Frowning, Rhese looks at Nithan. “What do you mean?” Nithan rubs his face before answering, “The naga shut her down at a moment of intense emotion.”
Araatris: “Specifically,” he continues, “rage. Nysse’s anger is reinforcing the state. We need to calm her down.” He looks at Rhese. “I can get you in.”
Rhoelyn: The druid looks down at his mate before answering, “Of course. I’ll do whatever it takes to help her. What do you need me to do?”
Araatris: “Just calm her. I’ll do the rest.” The priest reaches out a hand and splays it across Rhese’s chest, the other on Nysse. He whispers.
Rhoelyn: Rhese’s eyes grow heavy and after a moment he slumps, asleep. Nithan watches them before calling out softly out the door, “Faye, can you help me?”

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