Family Ties: Rhoelyn
(The Founders Arc – Chapter 1)
“No, no. It’s fine, Rhoelyn. I just appreciate you and Sarren being there to watch them. Just knowing you’re there puts my mind at ease.” There was soft rustling from the other side of the white stone, its blue swirl pulsing with magic, as the huntress moved.
“They are healthy and happy, and we would protect them from any threat with everything we are.” Rhoelyn paused before she gently added, “But I understand your fear. I share it when you both are out in the field, even though I know well how strong you are together.”
“It’s understandable, but we’ll be careful. We don’t want to take risks that could keep us from our family. Speaking of which, Yami is growing up so fast. I suppose he’ll need to fight soon.”
Once the words reached her, Rhoelyn barely heard her sister’s forlorn sigh through the hearthstone, staring blankly at the half-sliced apple on the cupboard in front of her and clasping her hands together in white-knuckled tension. Her heart pounded in her throat at the very idea of her sweet nephew fighting for his life, his innocent face filled with the rage-sick terror she’d seen on so many others at the battle for Darnassus, his hands and armor splattered in blood.
The priestess shuddered until a pair of young, strong arms wrapped around her from behind, startling her out of her mad reverie. Her nephew’s kiss on her cheek was full of his love and warmed away some of the icy fear.
“Oh!” Rhoelyn gave Yami a tremulous smile, taking a moment away from the conversation to return his embrace. “I thought you were rushing off, darling boy.”
Yami nodded and gave her a little squeeze. “Yeah. An’nui needs me, but I didn’t want to go without a hug.”
His aunt’s expression warmed, and she kissed his cheek in return. “Dear Yami… Will you say hello to your mother before you leave, then?”
Her gesture toward the pulsing hearthstone was brief but graceful.
“Min‘da! Hi and bye and I love you!” The young man’s black eyes crinkled at the corners as he waved at the device, and suddenly he had to chuckle. So he was prone to doing it, too?
“I love you, too, my darling boy. Make sure you behave and help an’nui. I’ll be home soon, and I’ll tell you all about our travels.” The young woman’s voice took on the sweet tone it always did with him. Her love overwhelmed the feeling of fear for now.
Yami nodded, again – not that she could see it. “Don’t worry, min’da. I’ll help take good care of everyone. I can’t wait for your stories!”
The muffled surge of a baby’s wail sounded from outside, and the young night elf winced. “I’d better go.”
Rhoelyn nodded and shooed him off, an imperious wave of her hand. “Have a nice walk, Yamiriel. I will have dinner ready when you all get back.”
Her words were practically offered to no one, and scant seconds after she finished came the click of the door from the other room.
The huntress through the hearthstone added, “Actually, I need to go anyway. Rhese just got here. Oh wait. Surfal, do you want to say hello to Rhoe before we go?”
“Of course,” came the deep chuckle, and the healer’s gaze softened just that much more to hear her beloved brother’s voice. There was a telltale pause and a small sound, and she could just imagine the druid’s quick kiss to his wife before he spoke again. “How is the home front, sis?”
“It is just how I like it at the moment: quiet save for the dearly missed voices on my hearth stone.” A rumble from her stomach prompted the silver-haired elf to finally claim back her dagger and continue slicing her apple. “Will you two be on your mission for much longer, Rhese?”
“A few more days, I think,” he answered gently, reading the hint of wistful longing in her tone. “We’ll be home before you know it. Listen, we need to move, Rhoe, but we’ll reach out to you tomorrow. Okay?”
“Of course, my brother. Be clever and careful and safe.”
“Always,” he answered, a cocky smile in his rumbling voice.
The hearthstone started to dim, but suddenly the priestess dropped her knife and slapped her hand onto the stone, shoving magic into the connection to keep it open while she blurted out, “When you hear it, make certain she isn’t still in the cavern!”
The hearth went dead the moment Rhoelyn pulled her hand away, startled and blinking and utterly unsure why she said what she did. She peered at her trembling fingers, turning her palm over, mystified and suddenly terrified, convinced that her sister was in danger.
And then she heard a voice from somewhere, whispering soundlessly. So far from home. So isolated and alone. Let the messengers come to bring you back.
All the little priestess managed was a whimper before the fit hit her. No warning, this time. No slow build of pressure at the center of her chest. No dizzying tilt to the world as her perception started its shift. No chance to stave it off with medication or breathing exercises.
There was only the entreating, mournful words and then a crushing wall of golden, sizzling awareness that threw her head back and drew her taut like a bow, her back arching and her hands tensing into claws at her chest.
Suddenly, the power was everywhere. Light like fire and blinding sun. Light like everything living at once in her head. Light that surged outward from her heart and filled her with awareness. Too much awareness.
The past, present and future in nonsense flashes and nightmare possibilities, in wriggling, hungry horrors and screaming faces with bloodless holes chewed in them. Yawning pits in pockmarked ground. A fist poised to pound on what it should never touch. The horrors and mistakes of the past carving tracks toward doom. The warmth of Life and Light and Love being smothered by the cold of Death and Decay and Demise.
She filled with it, overflowed with it.
And she hurt with it. She couldn’t keep it. But she struggled to get rid of it. The power that burned her resisted her panicked attempt to form it into her most familiar spells, those of healing, burrowing instead deeper along her singing nerves and into her besieged awareness. Wriggling. Consuming.
Until a peal of thunder rang from outside, echoing into the small apartment and shaking dust from the rafters.
What followed was a perfectly blank moment. The night elf froze. It all froze. Infinite possibility, infinite awareness became… nothing. A nothing worse than the nightmares of what could come.
While the priestess fell like a puppet with its strings cut, Light burst from her in a blinding wave, flowing outward, guided by what she was. For six square blocks around their home, Kul’Tirans and visitors alike raised their heads in confusion. They suddenly felt… better. Energized. Headaches gone. Sniffles cured. Wounds healed. An inexplicable miracle.
And at its epicenter, Rhoelyn Silverwing lay collapsed on her kitchen floor, restlessly unconscious and shuddering until the magic finally stilled… and so did she. Her long silver hair spilled around her crumbled form, as did her fallen dagger and cutting board and exactly as many fresh, whole apples as she’d once had slices.