Rhoelyn: They enter a sitting room. A young pandaren is straightening pillows on cushioned chairs. The elder smiles, “Tai, may we have some privacy?”
Araatris: The initiate straightens from his task hastily and bows to them. “Of course, Master. May I bring some tea for you?” The elder nods. “Please do.”
Rhoelyn: “Please make yourself comfortable.” Goaquan settles into one of the larger chairs. His gaze examines her. “Perhaps I should check you as well.”
Araatris: Nysse blinks, settling down across from him. She nods. “I don’t feel off, but if you think you should… But please, first tell me about my sister.”
Rhoelyn: Tai returns to serve them tea. The Spirit-Sage thanks him and takes a sip before answering. “Your sister has been touched by the sha.”
Araatris: Nysse tenses, gripping her tea mug. “What are the sha? And what do we do about it? Is Rhoelyn in danger?” The old panda pats her hand.
Rhoelyn: “One thing at a time, Nysse. The sha are spirits of the land, an embodiment of all the negative emotions built up over time. We have learned…” (c)
Rhoelyn: “…moderation, but the recent conflicts with your Horde and Alliance have awakened them.” He sighs, “Was your sister… imbalanced?”
Araatris: “Imbalanced?” Nysse’s brow furrows. “Rhoelyn’s always smiling. She’s happy… I think?” Gaoquan sips his tea. “You do not sound sure, young lady.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress shifts uneasily. “The blood elf was… unkind to me. Rhoe slowly became incensed at him.” She hides behind her cup as she drinks.
Araatris: “Mmmm.” He nods, brushing a paw along his long mustache. “And I will venture to guess that … ‘incensed’ is not a common state for her.”
Rhoelyn: Shaking her head, Nysse manages a weak grin, “Not unless you count the times she’s fussed at Rhese and I for tracking dirt into the house.”
Araatris: “I understand…” After a short pause to sip more tea, the Sage says, “We still have much to learn about the sha, but we have noticed that (c)
Araatris: (c) often those who become touched are forced into an emotion they are… ill-equipped to manage. The influence of the sha infests that emotion.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse frowns and asks, “How do we cure it? Can you heal her, elder?” She leans forward, gazing hopefully. Her tea forgotten in her hands.
Araatris: “Would that I could, my dear.” The Spirit-Sage sighs as he shakes his head. “I fear we have had little success healing those who are infected.”
Rhoelyn: Her expression falls and she gazes at her tea. “What will become of her? I don’t want to lose my sister,” Nysse’s voice is thick with sorrow.
Araatris: He speaks softly, gently. “In time, the sha-touched become lost to their infested emotion. Permanently mired in fear. Or despair. Or anger.”
Rhoelyn: “W-what…,” Nysse pauses, terrified of continuing her question, but finally presses on. “What do you with t-them when they’re that far gone?”
Araatris: The Spirit-sage leans forward and gently wraps his hands around hers on the cup. “What would you see done if she became a thing of pure rage?”
Rhoelyn: The young night elven woman’s eyes glisten and she shakes her head. “I don’t know. It’s not the life she’d want, but I could never hurt her…”
Araatris: “Then it seems you have your answer, Nyssera.” He sits back. “I am sorry that we do not have more for you. My students and I still search.”
Rhoelyn: She ducks her head to hide her face as Nysse rubs her eyes. “Is there nothing I can do? Is there any possibility at all that I can save her?”
Rhoelyn: Gaoquan studies her for a long moment. “There is one thing, a mere rumor at best, but there is a price to be paid for such knowledge.”
Araatris: Nysse leans forward. “Name your price, Spirit-Sage! She’s my family. I’ll do anything I can to save her.” The elder weighs her thoughtfully.
Rhoelyn: “You must attempt to save the blood elf that you brought here and take his companions with you on your journey.” The Sage watches her reaction.
Araatris: Nysse pales, cringing back in her seat. “W-why? Maybe you don’t know, but they kidnapped us both. They wanted to kill us! A-and that m-”
Rhoelyn: The old pandaren gently takes her cup and sets it to the side, then takes both of her hands. The huntress halts at the kindness in his features.
Araatris: “There is,” he rumbles softly, “a path that is wider than the narrow hatred between your people and theirs. On that path, the Sha do not tread.”
Rhoelyn: She bites her lip and mumbles, “I don’t understand. Are you saying that we’re at risk of being infected, too? Unless we work together?”
Araatris: The elder watches her. “I am saying that there were no sha-touched on Pandaria before your war came to our shores. It bears considering.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress bows her head and nods. “I’ll do my best. It’s hard to trust someone that was planning to let you die for their own plans.”
Araatris: He pats her arm. “What I ask is not often easy, my dear. So my students claim.” He lifts his head, raising his voice. “Tai. Bring the scroll.”
Rhoelyn: “Yes, Master.” Tai replies. Nysse grasps the Sage’s hand in a sudden need for comfort. “I miss my mate and son. Rhese and Rhoelyn are my rocks and…”
Araatris: She sighs, dropping her head, and the grandfatherly Pandaren pats her hand with his free paw. “You are not here alone, Nysse Whispersong.”
Rhoelyn: She nods as Tai enters the room. Gaoquan takes the scroll, smiling. “Thank you.” He turns over Nysse’s hand and presses the scroll into it.
Araatris: “This is a tale found in a Mogu vault hidden in the mountains to the north.” The elder leans back, allowing Tai to refresh his tea.
Rhoelyn: Nysse opens and reads the scroll as her own tea is refreshed. She glances up. “Thank you.” Tai nods. “May Rhoe and a couple of guards stay here?”
Araatris: Gaoquan frowns slightly. “While you all are welcomed guests, you should understand that the sha-touched can… destabilize those around them.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress sighs. “I don’t see how I can trek across the country-side with two infected, angry individuals and keep everyone we meet safe.”
Araatris: After a moment of consideration, he nods to himself. “They may stay, but the sha-touched will need to be isolated. She will stay in her room.”
Rhoelyn: “Of course. I’ll inform her.” Nysse hesitates, “And I’ll tell Quaed and Nataro. Is there anything else, elder?” She stands and bows deeply.
Araatris: Spirit-Sage Gaoquan pushes himself up and smiles at her. “Only my wish that you travel safely and find what you seek. For all our sakes.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods. “Thank you.” She bows to Tai before stepping out and heading to the Rhoe’s room. She carefully opens the door and slips inside.
Araatris: The huntress turns to find the room empty, the covers on the bed neatly folded back in place. She winces and steps back out into the hall. “Rhoe?”
Rhoelyn: A loud voice echoes from further down the hall. With a frown, Nysse steps quietly towards the muffled feminine voice. Her steps quicken.
Araatris: At the end of the building, the hall turns and opens onto a terrace space with gardens beyond. She can hear a quieter, lower voice interject.
Rhoelyn: Nysse hurries towards them, following down a garden path. It twists and turns as she looks for Rhoe. The voices are louder and familiar now.
Araatris: “After all,” Leothir’s words become clear as she approaches, “I have a promise to keep.” Nysse can hear Rhoelyn’s gasp. “Don’t you da-mmph!”
Rhoelyn: Wide-eyed, Nysse bolts around the corner. She skids to a stop as her gaze settles on Leothir and Rhoelyn, absolutely dumbstruck. “Oh Elune…”
Araatris: The two stand together on the path near a tranquil fish pond, the sin’dorei holding Rhoelyn by the upper arms, his lips slanted over hers.
Rhoelyn: Nysse darts forward and pries his hands off Rhoe, inserting herself between them. “Release my sister, Leo! What do you think you’re doing?!”
Araatris: The mage grins, stepping back. “I promised to find out if she tastes like the forest, like you do.” He chuckles and licks his lips. “She doesn’t.”
Rhoelyn: Blushing fiercely, Nysse stutters, “I…W-what?” She gathers herself. “Y-you need to return to your room.” The huntress holds Rhoe behind her.
Araatris: “… that’s not necessary, sister.” The priestess’ voice is too calm, and Nysse turns to find her glowing with power. “I can kill him right here.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse turns and grabs her wrists, “No, you’re not. You’re going to go back to your room.” She snaps at Leothir. “You too. Go to your room, Leo.”
Araatris: The sin’dorei sneers and bows mockingly. “Oh, of course. Anything my lady wishes.” Rhoelyn pulls against Nysse’s grip. “Please, Nysse…”
Rhoelyn: “No. Rhese would be very disappointed. Now, go and wait. I’ll be there shortly.” Nysse firmly spins Rhoelyn and pushes her toward the room.
Araatris: The priestess hesitates, but obeys with a final glare at Leothir. He smirks. “I’m going that way as well, apparently. Shall I walk you back?”
Rhoelyn: Nysse sternly answers, “I’ll be escorting both of you. No talking and no touching each other. Now march it.” She narrows her eyes at them.
Araatris: The mage snorts but turns and trails behind Rhoelyn who strides back the way they came, stiff with indignation. The huntress groans quietly.
Rhoelyn: Rhoelyn stalks into her room, but Nysse catches her arm and hugs her. “I’ll be back soon, sister. Please stay in your room. I was worried.”
Araatris: The smaller woman mutters an obedient, “Yes, sister,” before heading for the seat under the window. Nysse turns and heads back out.
Rhoelyn: The huntress follows Leo to his room, but stops at the door. “You’re under quarantine, Leothir. You’ll need to stay in your room for now.”
Araatris: “If you wanted to get me al-” Quaed interrupts, striding down the hall toward them. “Dark Lady, even -I’m- sick of your mouth. Shut up, Leothir.”
Rhoelyn: Leo frowns and opens his mouth. Nysse snaps, “Go sit, Leo. Do not leave this room.” She turns to the undead. “Do you have a moment, Quaed?”
Araatris: “Hold on, girl. Tried that once, already.” Looking grim, the undead follows Leo into the room, pulling a pair of runed shackles from his belt.
Rhoelyn: Leo protests, “I’ll stay here. Just get those fel things away from me.” Quaed growls, “It wouldn’t be necessary if you listened the first time.”
Araatris: The mage steps back. “What if I refuse?” “You won’t, Leo.” The undead sighs, cornering him against the back wall. “This is for the mission.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse frowns and watches silently. Leo grumbles, but relents as the undead clicks one cuff to the blood elf. “You’re hurting my dignity, Quaed.”
Araatris: The rogue gives him a droll look. “Talk to me about that when you’re cured and realize what a jackass you’ve been.” He snaps the other cuff closed.
Rhoelyn: Quaed continues, “You’ll want to stay here to avoid any nasty shocks.” The blood elf looks at Nysse. “Would my lady like to keep me company?”
Araatris: Nysse’s spared from responding when Quaed grabs his ear and yanks him close to growl, “Shut your trap. Be back in a few to strike the chains.”
Rhoelyn: Leothir sighs and wanders to the bed, flopping back on it. Quaed turns and walks past Nysse. “Let’s go. We need to talk.” Nysse nods and follows.
Araatris: The undead leads her to a lounge area where Nataro already sits, his eyes closed in meditation. He waves a gloved hand. “Take a seat, girl.”
Rhoelyn: She lowers herself into a nearby chair. Nysse sighs, “They were…” She hesitates, her cheeks coloring, “…causing a ruckus in the garden.”
Araatris: Quaed settles down a considerate distance from her, grimacing. “Causing a ruckus?” He sighs. “My fault. The smarmy bastard ported away from me.”
Rhoelyn: “He’d found Rhoe. I wish I’d gotten to them earlier.” Nysse rubs her eyes. “How will those cuffs work? Will they suppress his magic?”
Araatris: The rogue frowns. “He didn’t hurt her?” Sighing, she shakes her head. “He… just k-kissed her, as far as I know. W-why is he being like this?”
Rhoelyn: Nataro opens his eyes and rumbles softly, “Leothir is not normally like this. He is flirtatious, but not aggressive. The sha has changed him.”
Araatris: “I don’t know what emotion that would be.” She leans forward and frowns at her clenched hands. “He seems to like making us uncomfortable.”
Rhoelyn: Quaed taps his finger on a side table. “Anger. He sulks when he’s rejected.” Nysse groans. “He keeps trying because he failed the first time?”
Araatris: “Mm.” Nataro nods. “So unless either one of you intends to declare your love for him, it is best if you stay out of his way.” Nysse shudders.
Rhoelyn: “Yeah, I don’t think there’s any fear of either of us confessing…” The huntress cringes. “Have either of you talked with the Spirit-Sage about him?”
Araatris: The Tauren nods. “He told us to take you with us. That you have a thread for us to follow.” He stares at her with his dark eyes. “So. You accept?”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods. “Are you leaving him here then? I haven’t talked to Rhoelyn yet. She’s been very… protective, so I’m worried she’ll be unreceptive…”
Araatris: “Leothir will stay. We have already informed him.” Nataro looks resolute. “More, he will remain… sequestered. The sha’s influence must not spread.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress presses her lips into a thin line. “I agree. I’ll talk to Rhoe when I leave here. When do you want to leave? Tomorrow morning?”
Araatris: The shaman says, “Yes. Where is it that we’re going, exactly? You have the Spirit-Sage’s information.” Quaed just flips a dagger, listening.
Rhoelyn: She opens the scroll. “There’s a rumor about a hozen with a mask capable of purifying the sha to the… south west at a village in Krasarang Wilds.”
Araatris: “Go there and see what we can learn, then,” Quaed rasps. “Sounds easy enough. How far is it, and how’re we getting there?”
Rhoelyn: Nysse chews on her lower lip. “It’s the opposite end of the island, so three or four days. Maybe we could get a ride from Mu Lin and Su Le.”
Araatris: Nataro nods. “We do not know if there is a… point of no return with this infestation, so we must move quickly. We need dragons or similar.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress’ shoulders slump. “You’re right. I’d better go talk to Rhoe.” She glances up nervously. “You’re sure he’ll stay in his room?”
Araatris: Quaed smirks. “Oh, he will. Those cuffs not only silence his mana, but jolt him with it if he tries to cast or gets too close to a trigger sigil.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse smiles in relief. “Thank goodness. I really didn’t want to risk waking-” She clears her throat and stands. “Nevermind. I’ll meet at dawn.”
Araatris: “Mmhm. We will acquire us mounts.” With that, Nataro closes his eyes and goes back to meditation as she heads toward Rhoelyn’s room.
Rhoelyn: The huntress slips into their room. Rhoelyn sits quietly at the window seat as Nysse crosses the room. Her gaze follows Rhoe’s to the gardens.
Araatris: Her sister sniffles and rubs a sleeve across her eyes before she says, “An initiate in the garden told me that white flower is called snow lilly.”
Rhoelyn: “It’s beautiful. Maybe we can ask for some seeds to try and grow them back home.” Nysse rests a hand on Rhoelyn’s shoulder with a light touch.
Araatris: Rhoe places her hand over Nysse’s, still looking out. “That would be nice. I-It’s a l-lovely garden. I… I just wanted to see more of it.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse closes her eyes with a pained look. “I know, sister.” She continues quietly, “I talked with the Spirit-Sage. You have a rare illness.”
Araatris: The priestess turns from the window to look at her, brow furrowed. She brushes the tears out of her eyes. “What… what kind of illness?”
Rhoelyn: The huntress sits on the edge of the sill and takes both of Rhoelyn’s hands. “It’s called the sha. It infects the spirit and emotions at first.”
Rhoelyn: “It’s why you’ve felt so out of sorts recently.” She brushes away a missed tear. “Later… I think it takes over entirely. I’m not sure how.”
Araatris: The little night elf shudders, paling. “T-that… I… i-is there no way to treat it? Perhaps if I use my magic… “ Her hands tremble in Nysse’s.
Rhoelyn: Nysse tugs her into a hug. “No, only rumors… I need to leave tomorrow to start searching for a cure. On top of it all… it can be contagious.”
Araatris: “C-contagious?!” Rhoelyn scrambles, shoving against Nysse’s hug. “Nysse! Y-you have to stay away!” The huntress holds her tight, soothing her.
Rhoelyn: “Shhh. It’s alright. I haven’t caught it yet, have I?” She kisses the top of Rhoe’s head. “But you’ll have to stay in your room while I’m gone.”
Araatris: She stops struggling and grips the back of Nysse’s armor tight, burying her face against her shoulder as she tries and fails to hold back tears.
Rhoelyn: The huntress pats Rhoelyn’s back and murmurs reassuringly. “I can ask for the hearth stone back so you can talk to Rhese. Would that help?”
Araatris: Shaking her head against her sister’s shoulder, Rhoe mutters, “He’ll only worry. O-or ruin his mission to rush over, and put himself in danger.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nervously clears her throat. “They already sent Ramona back to report to Morthis while I was asleep from Quaed’s… help earlier.”
Araatris: The priestess groans sadly. “Oh, Elune… it’s a disaster. We’re only supposed to be going to parties and m-meeting interesting people.”
Rhoelyn: “We’ll have that party. We just have to get you feeling better.” Nysse leans back. “May I stay here tonight?” She searches the priestess’ eyes.
Araatris: Though she hesitates, her grip on Nysse’s sleeves tight, the priestess shakes her head. “You mustn’t. What would I do if I made you sick, too?
Rhoelyn: The huntress reaches behind her neck, pulling a leather necklace off. She slips it over Rhoe’s head. “Then… would you keep this safe for me?”
Araatris: The gesture earns her a fresh welling of tears as Rhoelyn lifts the stitched leather medallion and its dangling onyx pendant. “Y-your gift?”
Rhoelyn: Nysse smiles fondly. “Yami and Rhese outdid themselves on the wolf emblem. Consider it a promise, Rhoelyn. It’ll keep us close until I return.”
Araatris: She wipes at her cheeks, pressing it tight against her chest. “Y-you have to come back for it.” Rhoe hugs her tight, again, whispering, “Quickly.”
Rhoelyn: “I will.” Nysse holds her tight. “As fast as I can, sister. Thank you for understanding.” Rhoelyn pulls away and wipes at her eyes again.
Araatris: She manages a tremulous smile. “Where will you go, first? Mu Lin was able to find enough serpents for you and Davin and the guards?”
Rhoelyn: The young night elf pats her hand. “We’re heading to a village in the south, Krasarang Wilds, I believe. I’m leaving a few guards with you.”
Araatris: “We don’t have many to begin with,” Rhoelyn says, frowning. “You needn’t worry about me, Nysse. Even with the Horde trio here, I am safe.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress smiles nervously and rambles quickly. “Well, only one will be here in quarantine. The other two are coming with me, but I’ll be fine.”
Araatris: Rhoelyn shies back, paling. “You’re t-traveling with Nataro and Quaed? And Leothir will stay here?” She clenches her fists. “You can’t trust them!”
Rhoelyn: Nysse captures Rhoe’s hands and squeezes them. “I’ll be careful. I won’t be alone, but they have every right to try and cure their friend as well.”
Araatris: The priestess squirms, protesting, “They ruined everything! Why do they have any rights? You have to keep the guards with you. They don’t c-”
Rhoelyn: “I’ll keep Jay with me. Quaed and Nataro haven’t been unreasonable. I would really feel better if a few stayed with you, sister,” Nysse pleads.
Araatris: “No. No!” Rhoelyn pushes to her feet. “They don’t care. You can’t trust them, Nysse. They’ll leave you d-dead, and you’ll never come back.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse stands and reaches for Rhoelyn’s arm. “Quaed had a chance to kill me already and he didn’t. They even made sure to leave me supplies.”
Araatris: Hints of shadowy smoke wisp over her skin as the priestess paces away. “B-but he’s… he betrayed- no. … he laughed. Th-they don’t deserve…”
Rhoelyn: “Rhoelyn! Please… stop.” Nysse strides quickly to her and captures her in an embrace. “They won’t do anything to risk Leothir. I’ll be fine.”
Araatris: The priestess stiffens at first, blinking at her sister. “I-I… no, I’m not… I…” She sighs and wraps her arms around Nysse. “I trust you, Nysse.”
Rhoelyn: The younger elf smiles, “I know you do. I promise I’ll be careful and come back for my pendant. You can enjoy the garden view while I’m gone.”
Araatris: “I will have precious little else to do,” Rhoelyn says. ”Nysse, please at least tell me Mu Lin and Su Le can go with you. You still need guides.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods. “I intend to ask, but I hope they can.” The huntress maneuvers Rhoelyn towards the bed. “Why don’t you to try and rest, sister.”
Araatris: “Very well.” Sitting on the edge of the bed, she grabs Nysse’s hands. “Please… don’t go without waking me. I want you to take a blessing with you.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress smiles happily. “I can think of no better way to start our journey than with your blessing, sister. I’ll be back in the morning.”
Araatris: “Thank you. Sleep well and safely, Nysse.” Rhoelyn releases her sister’s hands reluctantly, tucking her own into a nervous knot in her lap.
Rhoelyn: Brushing back the priestess’ hair, Nysse kisses her forehead. “Please try not to worry.” She taps the necklace’s medallion. “I have to be back.”
Araatris: Rhoelyn nods, though she doesn’t look any less worried. “I will try, sister.” She presses a hand over the necklace, biting her lip.
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods, “That’s all I can ask.” She steps back from the bed. “Rest well, sister.” She smiles and slips out the door, closing it behind her.
Rhoelyn: They enter a sitting room. A young pandaren is straightening pillows on cushioned chairs. The elder smiles, “Tai, may we have some privacy?”