Araatris: Rhese wakes with a jerk, clenching his fist around the leather loop in it. He cringes and grabs his aching head as he looks up. “Cenarius’ beard…”
Rhoelyn: “It’s your fault for falling asleep, kid. We’re almost there. You need to pull yourself together.” Morthis nudges the young druid and points.
Araatris: “I… yes… of course.” Rhese frowns as he tries to focus through his fuzzy thoughts, dragging his eyes up to the city not much farther down the road.
Rhoelyn: The elder night elf frowns. “Something wrong? You look like you just had a bad dream.” Morthis shifts his mount closer to check on him.
Araatris: The druid blinks, forcing a grin. “I must’ve. I can barely remember it, though. I’m just a bit rattled.” His hand glows green as he rubs his head.
Rhoelyn: Rhese sighs, “Why do we have to come all the way out here for this girl? What’s so special about her? Couldn’t she come to us instead?”
Araatris: Morthis shakes his head. “Nyssera has been running ops to disrupt Ironfist Harbor, and she’s been incredibly effective. She couldn’t leave, yet.
Araatris: “Why she’s worth it, kid…?” The spymaster runs a finger along the scars marring his cheek. “There’s no one I trust to protect you more than her.”
Rhoelyn: The druid manages a skeptical grin. “She’s going to have a lot to live up to at this rate.” Morthis snorts. “You’ll see when you meet her.”
Araatris: “I hope so.” Rhese sighs and runs his fingers over the smooth metal moon talisman tied to his dagger sheath and down the spiral bone below it.
Rhoelyn: The streets are a flurry of activity. Their sabers weave through the crowd as they guide them to the inn. They dismount and tie the sabers up.
Araatris: As Rhese walks beside him in sullen silence, Morthis tries to tempt him out. “I’m never going to get used to these new… friendly blue demons.”
Rhoelyn: The young night elf shakes his head. “Because it’s contradictory.” Morthis steps in the inn and looks around. A cloaked figure raises their hand.
Araatris: He nods and steers them to the table in the corner, stopping beside the chair. He offers his hand. “It’s good to see you safe and sound, Ghost.”
Rhoelyn: A very quiet female voice murmurs, “Yes, all is well, sir.” She pushes her hood back and takes his hand. “I hope that your travel was well.”
Araatris: The spymaster smiles. “Well enough.” He turns to the impatient elf at his side. Rhese’s attention skips over her before snapping back, surprised.
Rhoelyn: The huntress shifts uncomfortably under his gaze and busies herself picking up her bow. “Would you like to go upstairs so we can speak freely?”
Araatris: “Let’s. Come on.” Morthis strides away immediately, leaving the druid staring at her, his expression part appreciation and part confusion.
Rhoelyn: Ghost pulls her cloak tighter around her. She frowns, then the young night elven woman hurries after the spymaster. “Follow me, Silverpaw.”
Araatris: He catches up to her on the stairs, muttering by her ear. “I didn’t think we’d met before.” She frowns, brushing a hand through her green hair.
Rhoelyn: She shies away from him and answers under her breath. “We haven’t met. Morthis told me.” Ghost, Nyssera, darts ahead to unlock a door.
Araatris: “No, it’s j-…” As she rushes off, his voice fades to a mutter. “… just that you seem so familiar.” Rhese sighs, watching her walk into the room.
Rhoelyn: Nysse holds the door open until the others enter. She sits on a corner of the bed and gestures to the chairs. “What do you need me to do?”
Araatris: As they sit, Morthis says, “The operation is recon and intel gathering on the new Alliance push into the southeast of Shadowmoon Valley.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress glances at Rhese. Her voice is still soft, “I’m assuming that I’ll be working with him. Are you sure he’s not too rusty for this?”
Araatris: It’s the druid who answers her, rumbling, “Look, I haven’t been sitting on my hindquarters for a year, Ghost. I just haven’t been doing his work.”
Rhoelyn: “I understand, but it is different. I’m sure you’re skilled or you wouldn’t be here.” She smiles wanely. Morthis sighs, “It’s an undercover op.”
Araatris: “Silverpaw’s unique…” Rhese interjects, “Just call it what it is, Grey. My curse – or whatever tattered remnants cling to me.” Morthis nods.
Araatris: “Fine. His curse has been leveraged to make a near-foolproof sin’dorei disguise.” The spymaster leans forward. “But it leaves him vulnerable.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse’s brow furrows. “Curse? Vulnerability?” The older elf explains, “He can only hold it for eleven hours before resting for an hour.”
Araatris: Rhese nods, pulling up his sleeve to reveal the small carved-bone talisman on a braided thong around his wrist. “It monopolizes my mana.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress leans forward to look at it. “Interesting. So that’s why you need a guard.” She glances at Morthis, “What’s my disguise then?”
Araatris: He peers at her matter-of-factly. “You’re aware, I assume, of the Sunstrider prince’s decree that his people may keep kal’dorei as slaves?”
Rhoelyn: Ghost scowls at Morthis, but her voice stays hushed. “How do you think that’s going to work? I’m sure they won’t let me in fully armed.”
Araatris: “No. But you have one weapon that no one can take from you, Ghost. And we’ve designed you both special armor with lots of hidden sheathes.”
Rhoelyn: She relaxes slightly. “May I see it? I’d like to look it over before we leave here.” Nyssera pauses thoughtfully, “Will we have pseudonyms?”
Araatris: Morthis cocks a thumb back toward the door. “The armor and all the gear you’ll use is on my saber. As for pseudonyms…” He pauses and looks at Rhese.
Rhoelyn: The druid shrugs. “I can’t imagine our actual names are known widespread. I don’t see any reason why we’d need to. Are we heading out from here?”
Araatris: The other man nods. “I’m going elsewhere, but you two will take the sabers and head east. I have a contact near Hallvalor who has your new mount.”
Rhoelyn: “So we’re not expected to be undercover until then?” Nysse queries. Morthis shakes his head. “No, there’s no need until you’re closer, Nyssera.”
Araatris: Rhese frowns out the window at the late afternoon sun. He pushes to his feet. “If there’s nothing else, I want to get going. Time is wasting.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress assesses him for a moment before standing. “Very well.” Morthis stands, “Leave anything that can’t be hidden in Hallvalor.”
Araatris: When the spymaster eyes the ornament on his sheath, Rhese glowers and puts his hand over it. “It’s not a giveaway, Grey. Don’t even start.”
Rhoelyn: Morthis reluctantly nods and turns to Nyssera. “I entrust his life to you, Ghost. Do whatever it takes to keep him safe.” Nyssera nods. “I will.”
Araatris: The druid makes a sour face and turns to leave. “Let’s go, Nysse. The sooner we begin, the sooner we finish this.” Morthis sighs and looks at her.
Rhoelyn: Nysse glares and growls, “Let’s get one thing straight, pretty boy. My name is Nyssera. You do not have permission to call me anything else.”
Araatris: Rhese pauses and turns back to her, sighing. Her anger is met with annoyed apathy, at best. “Anything my lady wishes, Nyssera,” he mumbles.
Rhoelyn: At her darkening look, Morthis puts a hand on her arm. “Keep it in check.” With a deep breath, she nods. “Lead the way, Rhese.” They head out.
Araatris: The druid leads back out to the saber mounts, but their commander halts Nysse at the door. “Listen, Ghost. Don’t let him rush the op. He’ll try.”
Rhoelyn: “Don’t worry, sir. I won’t let him risk the mission. We’ll find out about their current plans.” She squeezes his shoulder before following Rhese.
Araatris: The druid stands by his grey striped nightsaber, petting the huge cat soothingly as he waits with a satchel already retrieved from the other mount.
Rhoelyn: Nysse ignores Rhese and hurries to the dark spotted saber. She kneels by the cat’s head and smiles for the first time, exclaiming softly, “Kamura!”
Araatris: Rhese watches her, a little wide-eyed at a glimpse of her smile. He sets the satchel of her disguise armor by her knee, unwilling to interrupt.
Rhoelyn: The saber licks her. “It’s good to see you, too.” She lays her head against the saber for a moment, then notices the bag. “Is this my gear?”
Araatris: “Yes,” he answers. “You wanted to see it before we left.” Morthis retrieves his pack from Kamura’s saddle. “I’m off. Elune keep you both.”
Rhoelyn: Her silver eyes settle on Morthis. “May she watch over you as well.” She gathers and latches her bag on the saddle. “Are you ready, Silverpaw?”
Araatris: The handsome druid cants his head at her. “I am, but… Didn’t y-… Never mind. I’m ready.” He climbs smoothly into the saddle, watching Morthis go.
Rhoelyn: Nysse tosses her cloak back and swings onto Kamura. “I’ll look as we ride.” At Rhese’s gaze, she quickly settles the cloak around her again.
Araatris: Though his brow furrows once more in confusion, Rhese turns away from her without a word and gives his mount the silent command to walk.
Rhoelyn: They ride quietly out of town and onto the road. In the evening light, she pulls the bag around and quickly peers into it. She frowns, but tucks it away.
Rhoelyn: When night fully falls, Nysse’s hushed voice breaks the druid’s reverie. “Silverpaw,” she repeats, pulling her mount close, “Do you want to camp?”
Araatris: He looks over at her, blinking out of his thoughts. She can see the half second it takes him to recall what she said. “I suppose,” he says simply.
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods and she directs them to a nearby grove. She doesn’t speak as she preps the camp: building a fire, laying bedding, and cooking.
Araatris: The two of them step around each other doing their chores until there is nothing left but to sit by the fire and wait for the food to cook.
Rhoelyn: The huntress finally sets the cloak to the side, warm from the fire, revealing her slim green armor. With a sigh, she picks up the gear bag again.
Araatris: The weight of his stare settles on her as she pulls the disguise from the bag, but she’s soon distracted from that irritation by a sharper one.
Rhoelyn: “Where’s the shirt?” Nyssera digs into the bag. “Is there a shirt with your gear?” Her quiet tone is edged with annoyance as she peers up.
Araatris: Rhese’s lips turn up at one corner. “I’m sorry, but what you see is all of it. Our arrogant cousins like to dress their slaves… lightly.”
Rhoelyn: It’s obvious when she blushes brightly. “B-but that’s not practical.” Nysse pulls out the bra-like top. “What weapons are going to hide in this?”
Araatris: His glance at her chest is entirely unintentional, and Rhese finds somewhere else for his eyes, ignoring the heat in his cheeks. “You’ll manage.”
Rhoelyn: She grimaces. “Watch the food. I’ll be back in a moment.” Nysse gathers the bundle of clothes and stands, walking to the edge of camp.
Araatris: “Mmhm.” Rhese checks on their dinner and then rummages in his pack, trying not to listen to the rustle as she changes. He pulls out a worn journal.
Rhoelyn: Nysse attempts to reach the oddly placed buckle on her back again. She growls and curses in frustration, then leans her forehead against the tree.
Araatris: Lifting his head from the book, her companion idly calls out. “Doing okay, Ghost? That’s an awfully long time for so little clothing.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress takes a deep breath and gathers her armor and weapons before stalking back into camp. “I… I need you to buckle the back.”
Araatris: He glances up, unable to stop his eyes from widening at the sight of her before he looks away and carefully sets down the journal. “Of course.”
Rhoelyn: Nyssera turns, practically trembling as he buckles the back of the top. “T-thank you.” Rhese can barely hear her over the popping fire.
Araatris: The druid clears his throat and closes his eyes against the burning feeling that he knows the warmth of that skin very well. He winces with it.
Rhoelyn: The huntress ignores her pounding heart and carefully sets down her armor. She stirs the food before noticing that Rhese hasn’t moved. “Silverpaw?”
Araatris: He turns, his puzzlement clear. “You don’t… feel like we’ve met before? You seem so familiar to me.” His cheeks darken as he mumbles, “SO familiar.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse straightens in surprise and meets his gaze, examining him. “Well, yes, but Morthis has talked about you a lot. He showed me a picture once.”
Araatris: Rhese shakes his head, coming over. “Not like that. Like.. I can pr-” He growls and turns away, mumbling to himself. “Don’t say that, you idiot.”
Rhoelyn: The young woman leans forward cautiously and lightly touches his arm. “Say what? Is something wrong?” Nysse frowns with genuine concern.
Araatris: He chuckles nervously, his brow furrowing. “Well. I’m betting you’ll put one of those arrows in my favorite spleen if we don’t change the topic.”
Rhoelyn: She cracks a tiny smile. “Only if you don’t make fun of this ridiculous outfit. No wonder he ran for the hills.” Her cheeks are still rosy. “Deal?”
Araatris: Flashing her a charming smile, Rhese nods and offers her his hand. “We have a deal, Ghost.”
Rhoelyn: Nyssera takes it firmly, her fingers calloused from years of bow work. “You should probably get used to calling me Nyssera for the mission.”
Araatris: “Alright. Nyssera.” The druid’s eyes dart downward, and he winces. “Don’t take this wrong, but… I think we both need to get used to your disguise.”
Rhoelyn: Her expression flickers to realization and she blushes deeply. “Oh. I should keep wearing it? I didn’t put one piece on…” She holds up a collar.
Araatris: At the sight of it, Rhese chokes on a sucked-in breath and turns away from her, coughing. “R-right,” he manages. “It’s too soon for the collar.”
Rhoelyn: “Is… Is there something wrong with the collar?” Her voice lowers even more in confusion. “I do have to wear it as a slave, don’t I?”
Araatris: The druid recovers, gaping at the lack of comprehension on her face. “Nyssera, you… you do understand why the sin’dorei slaves wear that, right?”
Rhoelyn: The huntress frowns in even more confusion. “It’s to mark them as slaves, right? Why else would they wear the collar? It’s not fashion.”
Araatris: “It’s more than just that.” Rhese leans forward and plucks the collar from her, taking it over to his satchel. He pulls out a decorative silver chain.
Rhoelyn: Nysse follows him, wrapping her arms around herself to try and cover her torso slightly. “That’s one of the baubles for your disguise, isn’t it?”
Araatris: “Not exactly.” When he reaches for her, the huntress shrinks away. Rhese pauses, sighing. “Hold still, please. You’ll need to get used to my touch.”
Rhoelyn: Her eyes open wide. “W-why do I need to get used to your touch?” Still, the huntress forces herself to stay in place, swallowing nervously.
Araatris: His fingers hold a little of the night’s chill as he wraps the collar around her neck and buckles it at the back. His breath is warm on her cheek.
Rhoelyn: She holds her breath until he moves back. In a sudden soft exhalation, she speaks, “But I thought you said it was too soon for the collar…”
Araatris: Grimacing, he comments, “I realized it was necessary.” He takes the chain in hand and reaches out, grabbing a looped rivet right at her cleavage.
Rhoelyn: Nysse gasps in shock. She narrows her eyes and raises her hand to swing it forward arching towards his cheek. “How dare you touch me-”
Araatris: The druid doesn’t defend, but he straightens after her slap cracks against his cheek and finishes latching the chain to the rivet and her collar.
Rhoelyn: “W-what are you doing?” The young night elven woman draws her hand back to her chest protectively. Her face is flushed and stares at the ground.
Araatris: The hand that grabs her wrist and pulls her hand away is pale and pink, and Nysse gasps, looking up to find herself in the grasp of a stranger.
Rhoelyn: Wide-eyed, she stares at the blood elf before yanking her hand back and reaching for a weapon that’s not there. Nysse twists away in panic.
Araatris: “Stop, Nyssera.” The unfamiliar elf snaps the command in a familiar voice, grabbing the loop of chain between her collar and her top. “Slave.”
Rhoelyn: Trembling, the huntress halts and stares at him in confusion. “L-let go. Get this c-chain off of me.” She attempts to draw away from him.
Araatris: His voice gentles, but Rhese stares from unfamiliar green eyes, gripping the chain. “This is the disguise, Nyssera. Morthis should have warned you.”
Rhoelyn: “H-he did, but I wasn’t expecting it. And I don’t understand why the chain is significant. Can we not use it?” Nysse ducks her head, looking away.
Araatris: He shakes his head, dark hair flopping around his face. “The only place it’s acceptable to go without the chain is… the bedchamber.”
Rhoelyn: She swallows nervously again, still flushed. “Oh. Do you… do you have to keep holding it?” Nysse attempts to force her shy gaze upwards.
Araatris: Rhese blinks, surprised, and releases the chain. “A-as long as you understand. If you slap Rhese Riverwind like that, you’ll be punished.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress nods. “I… I understand. Am I allowed to call you Rhese or do I have to call you something else?” She takes a long, deep breath.
Araatris: The druid’s pale features revert back to normal, and he gives her an apologetic grin. “I won’t ask you to call me master. Rhese is fine.”
Rhoelyn: She gives him a tiny grateful smile. “I appreciate your consideration, but if it’s going to make us stand out then that’s not a good thing.”
Araatris: Shrugging, Rhese says, “We’ll need to be perceptive about it, but our intel says both seem to be acceptable. It’s up to the master to decide.”
Rhoelyn: She nods and turns, the chain clinking softly. “I’ll keep it on. It feels strange, but I’ll have to get used to it.” Nysse hurries to the food.
Araatris: Watching her move in the skimpy top and kilt brings a bit of extra color back to her companion’s face. “We both will,” he mutters quietly.
Rhoelyn: Spooning out two bowls, Nyssera turns and hands him one. “Do you think it’ll be strange if I wear a cloak? There’s so much I wish I knew now.”
Araatris: Rhese thanks her with a nod, blowing on his stew. “We’re going to need to play that by ear. I… Elune’s Grace, I hope slaves are allowed cloaks.”
Rhoelyn: Nyssera shrugs. “Rain would just be annoying. It would be odd if they didn’t.” She picks up a note on the pile of armor and reads it. “Feral?”
Araatris: Grinning, the druid shrugs. “Grey told me when he discovered you, you were practically a feral wolf wildling, running around the Ashenvale.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse sets down the note. “Yes, that’s right. I didn’t want to be found, but… he did.” She stares at her food and with a sigh takes a cooling bite.
Araatris: Rhese makes a sour face. “That old goat is exceedingly good at finding people who don’t want to be found. Then making them dance on his strings.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress eats her food for a few minutes before responding. “He didn’t tell you why, did he?” She hesitates. “Do you remember the orbs?”
Araatris: He pauses with a bite halfway to his lips, setting it back down again. “The orbs? The ones trying to activate that Titan machine in Northrend?”
Rhoelyn: She nods and chews on her lip. “I… was one of the Taken Mothers.” She lowers her head, letting her hair hide her face. “An’da and Tsume…”
Rhoelyn: “My wolf,” she clarifies, “came to rescue me. They-no, I… ordered their death when they were captured. When we were rescued, I ran.”
Araatris: He regards her with wide, sympathetic eyes before softly saying, “I’m sorry. I know how completely those orbs subsumed their Taken.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods. “I was one of the worst.” She makes a sound of frustration. “I don’t know why I’m even telling you this. I’m going to go patrol.”
Araatris: Rhese nods, recognizing the wild need to run in her eyes. He says, “Be careful. Don’t stray too far.” The druid’s gaze follows her as she moves.
Rhoelyn: The corner of her lips quirk up. “Don’t worry. I won’t be alone.” She sets the food down and stands, grabbing her bow and arrows. “I’ll be back soon.”
Araatris: “Mmhm.” The druid turns back to his dinner, resting the bowl on his knees as he reaches for the journal he carries once more. “I’ll be here.”
Rhoelyn: About an hour later, the huntress returns with a couple of rabbits. She has a couple of blood smears on her cheeks and hands, but looks content.
Araatris: Rhese dozes lightly with the book laying open on his chest. At her approach, he cracks open an eye before yawning and resting his head back again.
Rhoelyn: Nyssera settles down in front of the fire and skins the rabbits. In short work, she fixes herself a warm bowl and adds new meat to the pot.
Araatris: Barely moving from his indolent posture, the druid mumbles in her general direction, “That didn’t take long.” He cracks open an eye once more.
Rhoelyn: “Hunting doesn’t if you’re good. I can take first watch if you want.” She rubs a bloody hand across her forehead and reaches for her bowl.
Araatris: He nods and yawns, stretching back over the fallen log he leans on. “I don’t mind if you want to.” Rhese catches his tattered book before it falls.
Rhoelyn: She snorts. “Yes, I’ll be up for a bit anyway.” Nysse watches for him to fall asleep before she eats and cleans herself and the camp.
Araatris: Rhese wakes with a jerk, clenching his fist around the leather loop in it. He cringes and grabs his aching head as he looks up. “Cenarius’ beard…”