Araatris: Before he opens his eyes, Rhese can hear the sounds of growling and clashing weapons. He lifts his head, surprised to be standing in a forest.
Rhoelyn: He tilts his head, listening. Then, the druid shifts into a cat and runs through the woods. He pauses when he’s close to look through the brush.
Rhoelyn: A teenage Nysse swings her longsword at a naga warrior. A young wolf bites at the naga’s tail. “I said you weren’t welcome near Auberdine!”
Araatris: Rhese shifts back, but he pauses, blinking at his perspective. Something feels a bit off. Shrugging it aside, he steps out from cover. “Nysse?”
Rhoelyn: The naga turns and Nysse bounces between them. “Watch out! How do you know my name? Hikari, strike!” The wolf leaps in and bites the naga’s arm.
Araatris: “Nysse, love. It’s me! Rhese…” His brow furrows as he watches her fight. It’s an odd style for her and viciously executed. He steps closer.
Rhoelyn: “I don’t know a Rhese.” Nysse stabs her blade into the naga’s midsection. Blood splatters as she rips it out. “You’d better find someplace safer.”
Araatris: “I’m not in any danger, lovely.” She frowns and slashes at the naga again. With a sigh, he shifts and leaps at her foe to end him more swiftly.
Rhoelyn: The huntress growls and tries to block him. “This is my kill! Hikari, guard!” The wolf imposes her body in front of him while Nysse attacks again.
Araatris: The druid skids to a stop, blinking. He reverts once more, staring at the wolf and then at young Nysse. “I’m not your enemy. We need to talk.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse brings her blade down on the neck of the naga and the head topples. “Talk to someone I’ve never met that’s rude enough to call me (c)
Rhoelyn: (c) by my father’s nickname for me? I think not.” She turns to Rhese finally. “I’m busy hunting naga. Why should I stop and listen to you?”
Araatris: He steps forward, eyeing her wolf. “Do I really not seem familiar?” She scowls and rests a fist on her hip. He sighs. “Okay. Let’s start over.
Araatris: “Good fortune to you, Nyssera.” Rhese bows. “I’m Rhese. I came to help you.” Nysse looks pointedly at the corpse. “Do I look like I need help?”
Rhoelyn: Rhese keeps his expression neutral. “Of course not, Nyssera, but I don’t ignore orders from the Cenarion Circle. How else would I know your name?”
Araatris: She frowns, wariness in her stare. “You expect me to believe you’re from the Circle? You’re barely older than me. Are you a druid apprentice?”
Rhoelyn: He bows again. “Yes, I am. Rhese Silverwing, student of Verune Treebreeze. He requested that I come. May I at least make your mission easier?”
Araatris: Nysse rests her sword tip in the grass and considers the handsome young elf. “Fine. You can help. But don’t get in my way.” She clicks at Hikari.
Rhoelyn: The wolf immediately heels as she turns away. “Keep up.” The huntress runs into the woods, her bow and quiver bouncing, unused, against her back.
Araatris: He watches her go, grumbling under his breath. When he checks his reflection in the puddle by his boots, he blushes brightly. “… a teen?”
Rhoelyn: Rhese quickly shifts to hide his embarrassment and bolts after Nysse. She twists through the forest easily, pausing occasionally to listen.
Araatris: When Nysse finds the naga’s fresh tracks in the dirt, she doesn’t hesitate, sprinting along the trail with Hikari at her side. Rhese follows.
Rhoelyn: She stops and holds out her hand for Hikari to stop. Rhese stops next to her. Nysse whispers, “Circle and we’ll flank her. It’s a priestess.”
Araatris: The druid brushes against her leg before darting off to her left, leaving her no chance to protest. She frowns after him, as Hikari goes right.
Rhoelyn: Nysse shakes her head and turns back to the naga priestess. She waits for the others, then she whistles. She bursts out, swinging her sword.
Araatris: At the signal, Rhese creeps from the underbrush behind the naga. He leaps and swipes at the back of her head with his claws retracted, stunning her.
Rhoelyn: Hikari grabs the priestess’ arm and drags her to the ground. Nysse leaps forward and stabs her in the chest. With a snarl, she beheads the naga.
Araatris: Rhese shifts and looks down at the corpse, careful not to step in the blood. “That was… effective. May I ask you a question, Nyssera?”
Rhoelyn: “If you must.” Nysse wipes her blade in the grass before sheathing it. She kneels by Hikari and rubs her ears, oblivious to the blood beneath them.
Araatris: The druid tilts his head. “Why the sword? You carry a bow and arrows, yet you want to engage them at melee range? It doesn’t suit you, love…ly.”
Rhoelyn: She frowns and stands, walking over to him. “Don’t call me that. As for the arrows, they’re good for a clean death. These rot don’t deserve that.”
Araatris: “Doesn’t everything deserve a clean death?” he asks, watching her. He doesn’t manage to keep the fondness or the worry from his gaze.
Rhoelyn: She flushes and breaks eye contact with an uncomfortable look, clenching her hands. “Why should we have mercy on these twisted creatures?”
Araatris: Rhese speaks softly, stepping a bit closer to her. “I believe we were both taught to show mercy and kill with respect, Nyssera. Even naga.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse shakes her head and turns back toward the corpse. Petulantly, she replies, “They wouldn’t be merciful to us. They just destroy things.”
Araatris: His touch is light against her arm. “Yes, but we don’t give respect to get it back. I know you’re angry. It’s justified, but it mustn’t rule you.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress spins at his touch and stares up into his with wide eyes, startled by his closeness. “It’s hard when they hurt people I care about…”
Araatris: “I know, Nysse.” Rhese trails his hand down her arm tenderly. “But you know better than to let yourself become the same monster as they are.”
Rhoelyn: She swallows nervously and glances down. “I’m just tired of them hurting people, Rhese. I’m tired of being hurt and feeling lost and afraid.”
Araatris: He takes her hand. “It’s what we chose, love. We defend against the ones who would hurt people. We fight together, and you’re never alone.”
Rhoelyn: “Together.” She says it slowly as if savoring the sound. She suddenly frowns and shakes her head in confusion, “Ugh. Why does my head hurt?”
Araatris: With a bright smile, Rhese says, “I’d guess that’s because you’re nearly out of it.” He leans close. “It’s okay to let the hatred go, Nysse.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse blushes. “You’re not going to go away, are you? And if I do let it go, will we be strong enough to fight against them? To get him back?”
Araatris: “I won’t. And we will.” He gives her hand a squeeze. “We have a lot more to fight them with than blind rage, Nysse. We’ll get our Yami back.”
Rhoelyn: She smiles affectionately at him. The huntress pulls her hand free to hug him. “It’s difficult to be angry when you give me hope, beloved.”
Araatris: “Just returning the favor, love,” he mutters, holding her tightly. “Now, please wake up. You were a cute teen, but I need my mate back.”
Rhoelyn: She nods against his chest and after a long moment, the huntress begins to fade from his arms. “I’ll be waiting for you, Rhese. I promise.”
Araatris: The druid smiles and breathes a substantial sigh of relief as darkness creeps in around the mindscape forest. He lets his eyes drift closed.
Rhoelyn: “…before he wakes up.” Nithan complains, “Nysse, stay still! I’m still dispelling the curse. Faye, will you hold her down for just a moment?”
Araatris: “Nysse, really. Just be patient.” Faye sighs and presses down on her shoulder. “Rhese could use the rest. He’s exhausted. Did you forget?”
Rhoelyn: The huntress sighs, “I haven’t forgotten. I just wanted to make sure he was okay. Can you blame me?” Nysse doesn’t fight against Faye’s hand.
Araatris: The sentinel pats her shoulder. “He is fine, Nysse. Just let Nithan finish his work, and you may be as well.” She shakes her head. “So impetuous.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse blushes and then a yawn overtakes her. “He’s not the only one that’s tired. Have you removed his curse yet?” Her blink is long and slow.
Araatris: “Light save me!” Nithan growls under his breath. “Just go back to sleep and let me work, would you? I swear…” Faye deadpans, “Should I hit her?”
Rhoelyn: “Asleep it is.” Nysse closes her heavy eyes, but catches sight of a silently laughing Aleesa. It’s not long before her breathing is even.
Araatris: When Dorian pokes his head in a minute later, opening his mouth, Aleesa puts a finger over her lips and slips out of the shelter after him.
Rhoelyn: Outside, Dorian asks, “How they be doing?” Aleesa ushers him a little further away, “Nysse is finally resting. Nithan’s still working on the curse.”
Araatris: The dwarf strokes his beard. “The lad kin undo this life-bindin’ thing?” “He is certainly trying,” she answers. Dorian peers at her. “But…?”
Rhoelyn: Aleesa frowns worriedly. “It’s taking a lot of time and energy. I’m not sure how long he’ll be able to keep trying.” She looks over her shoulder.
Araatris: He raises his bushy brows, stating what she’s reluctant to. “Ye dinna think he’ll be able to, in the end, do ye?” She frowns. “I hope he can.”
Rhoelyn: “I don’t know how it’d affect her long term. That type of magic can put a strain on you.” Aleesa takes a deep breath, “But she was in good spirits.
Araatris: Dorian takes her elbow, wandering with her toward the central fire pit. “Then it’s takin’ a toll on that priestess as well, aye?” The draenei nods.
Rhoelyn: The dwarf strokes his beard. “Then perhaps she be doin’ our work for us if it’s too much.” He gestures to the log next to the fire before sitting.
Araatris: Kreston glances up from his bowl of fish stew. “Huh. Don’t you two look glum… Nithan wasn’t able to snap Nysse out of her whatever-it-is?”
Rhoelyn: Aleesa sighs, “Yes and no. She did awaken, but he’s still trying to remove the binding to the naga.” Kreston nods. “Then we’ll have to wait.”
Araatris: “Meantime, we need ta figure out what’s next.” Dorian fills a couple of bowls and hands one to Aleesa. “They’ll be wantin’ to go after Yami.”
Rhoelyn: The sailor finishes a bite of stew. “There’s several more like Yami and the naga have control over them. How are we going to get past that?”
Araatris: The men both look at Aleesa, who blinks wide-eyed. “I do not have all the answers, friends. I have no idea what we can do against void-spawn…”
Rhoelyn: “But I do think it’s key that Yami is with them now. I’m just not sure why.” Aleesa begins eating as the men share a look. Kreston shrugs.
Araatris: They lapse into companionable silence as they eat, each to their own thoughts. Nearly an hour later, Faye and a very worn Nithan approach.
Rhoelyn: Faye guides Nithan to sit on one of the logs. Then, she gathers food before settling beside him. Kreston breaks the silence, “Did it work?”
Araatris: The priest’s sour expression answers him before Nithan speaks. “I’ve never seen a spell so convoluted. It’s maddening; it makes no sense.”
Rhoelyn: Dorian leans and stirs the fire with a branch. “The lass isn’t goin’ to sit still for ye to unravel it. She’ll be wantin’ to go after Yami.”
Araatris: “Well, that would be supremely foolhardy,” the human snaps, stabbing his stew with his spoon. “We can’t so much as give Anari a headache w-”
Rhoelyn: Faye places a calming hand on Nithan’s shoulder. “Then we will appeal to Rhese. He’ll be able to convince her to wait until you’re finished.”
Araatris: Nithan snorts. “Either that, or he’ll run off ahead of her. He’s as attached to the void creature as she is, just quieter about it.” Aleesa grins.
Rhoelyn: The sentinel grimaces, “We can hope that we can appeal to reason then.” Aleesa raises an eyebrow, “They are very passionate about their family.”
Araatris: “Oh!” The shaman blinks, grinning to herself at her own realization. “That explains so much. Of course!” Dorian sighs. “ ‘Lees, yer doin’ it again.”
Rhoelyn: Aleesa giggles at herself, “I’m sorry, but isn’t it obvious why the spirits chose Nysse? Yami isn’t just a pet or creature to them. He’s family.”
Araatris: Faye tilts her head. “That isn’t a very practical attitude. He’s a… creature, not a child.” Aleesa grins. “No offense, but that’s exactly it.”
Rhoelyn: The draenei waves enthusiastically. “You’ve heard her talk about Tsume and her pups. Do you think she sees them as pets or furred children?”
Araatris: “Huh.” Dorian scratches his head. “So yer sayin’ going after him is exactly what the spirits wanted. Even the wee thin’ being with the naga at all?”
Rhoelyn: She nods and eats more fruit. “Who would be better to show the other void creatures a different emotion than what the naga have shown?”
Araatris: Kreston blinks and waves his spoon at her. “You think Yami can turn them all?” He whistles. “You saw what that one did to Rhese, right?”
Rhoelyn: Aleesa grins again. “Why do you think it was another creature faking Yami’s form? Yami wouldn’t do it. It’d take time for him to influence them.”
Araatris: Nithan grimaces, setting his empty bowl down. “It sounds like a stretch. If you’re wrong, we’re going to get chewed up and spit out, down there.”
Rhoelyn: At Aleesa’s disappointed expression, Dorian pats her leg. “She may be onto somethin’, but I think we should be cautious. Just’n case.”
Araatris: The priest grumbles something unintelligible under his breath, shoving to his feet. “You four figure out how we do that. I have a curse to unravel.”
Rhoelyn: Faye stands with him and grabs his arm. “Not before you rest.” She glances at the rest of them. “I trust you’ll make sure those two don’t leave.”
Araatris: Dorian smirks and pounds his fist into his hand. “Oh, aye. They’re goin’ nowhere til we’re all good an’ ready. Ya both get some rest.”
Rhoelyn: The sentinel smiles gratefully as she steers Nithan toward their sleeping area. The priest grumbles, but seems willing enough otherwise.
Araatris: Standing and stretching out her back, Aleesa yawns. “If the watch is all set, Dorian, then I’d like to find my bed. I’ll check in on those two.”
Rhoelyn: Dorian nods, “Git on wit’ye, lass.” The shaman heads back around the camp to the couple’s shelter. She pauses near the entrance, listening.
Araatris: Rhese’s sleepy mumble is clear enough from the small space. “Go back to sleep, Nysse. We can’t rush off in the middle of the night, exhausted.”
Rhoelyn: “But–” “No buts, Nysse. I know, but we’re in no shape to fight.” There’s sound of movement within and then Rhese speaks warningly, “Nysse…”
Araatris: “I’m… not tired. I’ll just get up and-” He rumbles, “No, lovely.” The sound stops abruptly. “Rhese! I m-” “I know you’re worried. I am, too.”
Rhoelyn: Her voice cracks, “He’s down there by himself. What if he thinks we abandoned him?” Rhese hushes her, “Nysse, love, he knows we love him.”
Araatris: After a long minute of silence, the huntress’ muffled voice says, “I miss him.” Aleesa nods and moves along, humming softly under her breath.
Rhoelyn: Within the shelter, Rhese mumbles softly into her ear, “I do, too.” Nysse looks up and kisses his chin with a sigh. “I don’t know if I can sleep…”
Araatris: The druid yawns and pulls her closer, soothing his hand along her back. “You need to. Or at least try to relax. You’ll need your energy.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse settles in and laughs weakly, “It’s not like I can go anywhere. You’ve made sure of that.” Despite the itch to move, she closes her eyes.
Araatris: “‘S purely selfish,” he slurs, his eyes slipping closed. “… still tired.” The huntress grins to herself as he drifts off, his hand stilling.
Rhoelyn: Even breathing. Steady heartbeat. Wrapped in warmth. All of these are enough to make Nysse slowly succumb even as her thoughts circle around Yami.
Araatris: Before he opens his eyes, Rhese can hear the sounds of growling and clashing weapons. He lifts his head, surprised to be standing in a forest.