Araatris: “So, by the fifth time I beat her at the spar, she…” Kaerryn leans over and whispers, earning a bright blush from Rylana trudging beside her.
Rhoelyn: Rylana stutters, “S-she really did that?” Wrune pinches the bridge of his nose, “Kaerryn, is it really necessary to tell her about that?”
Araatris: The warrior grins at him, throwing her arm around the kid’s shoulders. “We have to educate our little puppy, Wrune. It’s part of parenting!”
Rhoelyn: Wrune stops and turns to face them, “She doesn’t need your love or drinking advice.” He frowns and looks at Ry, “Do you? You’re old enough…”
Araatris: Though her bright blush belies the words, Ry grouches, “Ah’m not a kid!” She slips out from Kaerryn’s arm and hurries over to walk with Verune.
Rhoelyn: Verune smiles kindly at her, “They teased Nysse in much the same way. It will ease with time.” His gaze seeks out the couple ahead of them.
Araatris: She sighs. “Ah’m used ta it.” For a while, she walks in silence, watching Rhese dart in and out of sight in his sleek cat form. “Why’s he do that?”
Rhoelyn: “For many reasons: to scout, to hunt, to check in with us, and, right now, joy. It hurt him more than he admits to not shift.” Verune explains.
Araatris: The girl considers that. “Ah dunna get it. He couldna be happy like that in th’wolf? Ain’t got cats in these forests. A wolf shoulda fit better.”
Rhoelyn: Verune shakes his head, “No, the wolf’s rage consumes druids until they’re nothing more than beasts and can no longer tell friend from foe.”
Araatris: “That’s why he said that ‘bout it not endin’ well,” she mutters. “Why’s th’wolf form all rage? T’ain’t like that with real wolves. Lookit Tsume.”
Rhoelyn: He rests a hand on her shoulder, “Wolves represent ferocity and strength of will. Goldrinn, an ancient wolf guardian, was no different.”
Rhoelyn: “Elune wanted to tame his savagery, but Goldrinn resented it. Some druids followed it though it was forbidden, but they turned on their own.”
Araatris: Rylana blinks at him and then glances back at Rhese, looking impressed. “Even a goddess couldna control it. But he managed not t’eat us.”
Rhoelyn: Verune smiles at Ry, “I’m proud of the cub myself.” He places a finger to his lips. “That’s just between us. His head gets too large at times.”
Araatris: Grinning, she nods. “Mah lips’re sealed, Verune.” She glances down at the vine-wrapped scythe he carries, thoughtful once more.
Rhoelyn: Verune watches her before finally breaking her reverie, “What are you thinking, Rylana? Does something still bother you?”
Araatris: The girl bites her lip, nodding. “Ah been won’drin how th’Pack ever lost it in th’first place. An’ days of travel away from th’ settlement.”
Rhoelyn: He frowns, “I’ve wondered about that as well, but you’d mentioned that it’d been missing for years. Perhaps the previous wielder went wild.”
Araatris: “Dunno. Ah heard tons’a diff’rent rumors since ah was a kid. There’s even some ‘bout the current Leader tryin’ ta steal it an’ losin’ it.”
Rhoelyn: Verune scans the group, checking for everyone. “The current leader wasn’t this Lila you mentioned?” Valerio ranges ahead with Rhese.
Araatris: Rylana shakes her head. “Nah. Lila was a Lieutenant. Th’ Leader’s her–” She breaks off suddenly, whipping her head up to look at the trees.
Rhoelyn: The elder druid follows her gaze to movement in the trees. “Good ears, cub.” He smiles and whistles. On command, Rhese and Val circle back.
Araatris: Nysse and Tsume immediately shorten their strides, falling back to join Verune and Ry. “What is it?” she asks as the others gather in.
Rhoelyn: Ry nervously answers, “It’s them. The rest o’the village. They came fer it.” Her hand closes around the grip of her borrowed dagger.
Araatris: Valerio rolls his eyes, clicking at Vulf to keep him close. “After weeks of getting their tails handed to them, you might think they’d give up.”
Rhoelyn: “Um…” Ry mumbles something that sounds like “parents.” Nysse frowns, “Your parents are here?” The girl nods and looks about with wide eyes.
Araatris: Nysse shares a concerned look with Rhese. He steps up beside the girl and rests a glowing hand on her shoulder, catching her when she crumples.
Rhoelyn: She takes Ry from him. “Tsume and I will guard her. We need to keep them both away from the fighting.” Rhese nods, “Should we circle around?”
Araatris: “Not all of us,” Verune rumbles, the soil roiling in a circle around them. “We need to clear the trees, Rhese. The rest can focus on the ground.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress lays Rylana behind her and orders Tsume to guard. She smiles at Rhese, “Go on, beloved. We’ll keep them safe down here.”
Araatris: With a cocky grin, he grabs Nysse’s hand. “I’ll be just a minute.” He shifts and darts away just as encircling roots and vines shoot up.
Rhoelyn: The others settle into their positions while Verune shifts into a bird and flies out of the protective circle. Wrune orders, “Stay sharp.”
Araatris: A stern voice rings out from somewhere indistinct. “Lissen, outsiders. Ah’ve run outta patience. Y’hand over the scythe and the bearer.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse moves so that the scythe that Verune left is covered by her cloak. Wrune calls out, “Who speaks? Come out where we can see you.”
Araatris: The laugh is incredulous. “So’s yer sharp-shootin’ elf er th’blue guy ken pick me off? Y’ain’t facin’ no kid er inept underlin’, this time.”
Rhoelyn: Wrune shrugs, but holds his mace on guard, “That’s fine. You’ll be disappointed to know that no one bears the scythe. We destroyed it.”
Araatris: The unseen speaker growls. “If ya did, ya’d pay… But naw. Half a’truth’s still half a’lie. Y’ain’t destroyed Umbra’s Scythe. Jes’ muzzled ‘im.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse growls low in her throat and scans the trees searching for the voice, her bow following her path. Wrune frowns, “What makes you so sure?”
Araatris: “Ya might call’t instinct,” the voice says smugly, and a deafening chorus of howls resounds around them before worgen charge out of the woods.
Rhoelyn: Nysse and Valerio fire volleys into the initial assault as they begin tearing at the vines. While a few drop, many snarl and keep moving.
Araatris: While a few shots ring out from the trees, Kaerryn dances impatiently within the thorns, swatting away the bullets with her axe. “My turn, yet?”
Rhoelyn: More shots ding off Wrune’s armor, “Almost Kaer! Wait for them to break through.” Shouts come from the trees as Rhese and Verune attack.
Araatris: As she looses another arrow, Nysse notices an older man step from the treeline behind the throng, silver streaks peppering his hair and beard.
Rhoelyn: “Wrune, check the treeline!” Nysse arcs an explosive shot towards the man before refocusing her efforts closer. The first worgen breaks through.
Araatris: Kaerryn engages with a big grin, placing her armored self in the breach. The older man straightens from behind a tangle of singed vines.
Rhoelyn: Nysse clears her section with a few more arrows and glances behind her to check on the others. The barrier cracks ominously in front of her.
Araatris: As she takes a step back, the vines snap and pop, the wall unraveling in a gap wide enough for two worgen to shove through. “Breach!” she cries.
Rhoelyn: The vine covered scythe presses against the back of her thigh as another arrow flies through the air. Wrune moves to intercept one of them.
Araatris: Nysse knocks another arrow, but as she’s sighting the second intruder, the air around her explodes with blinding silver light and electric heat.
Rhoelyn: She flings her arms up to protect her face, but something hits her chest with a searing pain. A startled cry escapes her lips as she stumbles.
Araatris: There’s a familiar snarl beside her, and she can hear Tsume and Vulf both attacking. She manages not to fall, pressing her hand over the wound.
Rhoelyn: Everything is nothing more than shadows in her shocked vision. She winces as her fingers fumble against the smoldering edges of her shirt.
Araatris: One shadow breaks away from the rest, looming suddenly before her and Nysse ducks in time to feel the burst of wind from its slashing claws.
Rhoelyn: Nysse grabs her dagger and attempts to slash. The worgen dances just out of her range, but readies itself to pounce back towards her.
Araatris: Another shadow swoops in from the side with a telling caw before the worgen can turn its momentum, and the two of them careen toward the vines.
Rhoelyn: Rhese shifts into a cat, pinning the worgen while vines wrap around him. Once secure, the young druid turns and hurries towards Nysse.
Araatris: He reaches out with healing magic wafting around his hands. “Nysse!” Gripping her shoulders, he yanks her toward him to avoid more claws.
Rhoelyn: Nysse falls into his arms, blinking as her vision clears. “Rhese?” Wrune’s hammer slams into the worgen in front of them, “I’ll keep them off you.”
Araatris: Moving quickly, the druid steadies her, leaning down to look in her eyes. “Are you okay, now? I need to go help take care of that druid they have.”
Rhoelyn: Nodding, Nysse steps away, “I’m fine. Go on.” He gives her one last look before shifting into a bird. The huntress turns to check on Ry and Tsume.
Araatris: Tsume and Vulf fight side-by-side beside where Rylana and the scythe both rest, keeping the worgen away from the girl with ferocious devotion.
Rhoelyn: “Tsume!” Nysse bolts forward and kicks back a worgen close to the wolf. She follows it quickly with a stab as she pushes herself in front.
Araatris: Wrune and Verune flank her for a moment, taking positions near the center of the circle. The paladin shoves a dome of Light and force out (c)
Araatris: (c) at the worgen, shoving them back against the original vine barrier, and the druid quickly pulls forth a new, smaller circle of thorny vines.
Rhoelyn: Nysse kneels and checks on the wolves and Ry. Sighing in relief, she looks up at the others, “Where’s their leader? Maybe if we take him down…”
Araatris: Verune nods. “We believe him to be the druid who’s been supporting from the back. Rhese has already subdued his apparent apprentices.”
Rhoelyn: “The same one that just burned me?” Nysse suddenly stutters, “P-please tell me someone is out there helping Rhese. He just headed that way.”
Araatris: “You may not realize it, Nysse, but your mate is a talented druid. He is well equipped to handle the Pack leader.” The elder druid grins softly.
Rhoelyn: She blushes, “Of course I do. I still worry about him.” Nysse recovers her bow and sheathes her knife, but, in the end, her eyes are drawn to Rhese.
Araatris: With the enemy druid occupied, the vines are able to hold against the worgens’ flagging assault. She can see glimpses of the fight at the treeline.
Rhoelyn: Rhese darts around the worgen leader again, but the elder follows the movement easily. “Ya not gonna ‘prise me with yer tricks, outsider.”
Araatris: “And you’re not going to beat me with your second-hand skills, old man. Give up.” The night elf frowns, dodging another Moonfire flash.
Rhoelyn: “Shame ah dinna manage t’kill yer woman. She’s th’one dat freed ya. Ah woulda liked t’watch her burn.” He grins and gathers magic in his hands.
Araatris: Rhese snarls and shifts into the cat, bounding off a tree toward the man and narrowly dodging a ray of burning sunlight that scorches the ground.
Rhoelyn: The man shifts into a greying black worgen as Rhese slams into him. The leader continues the momentum and tosses night elf over his head.
Araatris: He twists and plants his paws against another tree trunk, yowling as he leaps back toward the worgen. His form shifts again to a bear.
Rhoelyn: The elder snarls as bear claws tear across his leg and he leaps back, trying to get space between him and the bear. He climbs into the trees.
Araatris: The crow unfolds around him, and Rhese circles up toward the branches, aiming his talons at the worgen’s back as he clambers upwards.
Rhoelyn: The worgen growls at Rhese’s talons rake across his backside. He pulls himself onto a branch, then aims glowing hands at Wrune’s barrier.
Araatris: As the younger druid wheels and banks back around, the other drags magic from the air, dropping it in a savage Starfall over the rest of the party.
Rhoelyn: The bird dives with an angry shriek. Rhese shifts into a cat, throwing all of his weight at the worgen. The leader attempts to lunge away.
Araatris: Too slow, the worgen snarls and grabs at the cat as they tumble out of the tree, his spell disrupted. But not before Wrune’s shield shatters.
Rhoelyn: They hit the ground in a flurry of claws and teeth. Each pushing to gain the upper ground. Rhese changes to a bear on top of the worgen.
Araatris: The ruckus gains the attention of a couple of the worgen villagers. The bear slams his weight down, shoving the other druid against the ground.
Rhoelyn: Vines begin to tie the worgen to the ground even as he struggles, “It’s a part o’us, ya canna jus’ stop it. It’ll find ‘nuther t’wield it.”
Araatris: As soon as the other druid is securely bound, Rhese shifts, crouching over him. “I intend to see to it that it never gets the chance again.”
Rhoelyn: The leader shifts to his human form, but the rope-like vines tighten before he can use the advantage, “Ya canna destroy it. Others have tried.”
Araatris: Frowning, the night elf shakes his head. “Why would I ever believe you? You and yours would say anything to get that cursed thing back.”
Rhoelyn: “It belongs t’us. We held’it fer years and yer kind ne’er knew. It can go back ta that.” He’s still as he watches Rhese. “No more fightin’ or death.”
Araatris: “It can’t be yours. What it’s done to this land – what I’ve seen within it…” He shakes his head again. “But call off the attack and we can help you.”
Rhoelyn: The man sighs and looks much older as lines settle on his face, “What’re ya gonna do, outsider? Ya’ve torn ‘part our way of life, our beliefs.”
Araatris: “I know,” he says, subdued. “And I’m truly sorry that it’s necessary. There are b-” Rhese turns to stare at the worgen who are trying to sneak up.
Rhoelyn: The older man barks an order, “Stand down!” He looks at Rhese again, “Ya can keep talkin’. Not that ah think there’s ‘nything ya can offer.”
Araatris: The night elf bows his head in thanks. “We can show you other ways. Healthier ways that you can use to preserve your ties to the wilds.”
Rhoelyn: “It’ll die wit’us. Ya’ve seen da child.” He closes his eyes, “They canna feel it. They be clean, but will ne’er know. Ya’ve given no choice.”
Araatris: Rhese sighs and lifts the man to his feet, letting the vines slither down to bind his hands behind his back. “Tell the others to stop. It’s over.”
Rhoelyn: The leaders nods and bellows for them to stop. “We’ll learn. Without th’scythe, it’s th’only thing we can do.” He looks back at the barrier.
Araatris: As the worgen pull back, Rylana starts awake suddenly, gasping. She blinks up at Nysse. “Wh-wha’ th’f–” “Shh. You’re fine, Ry. It’s over.”
Rhoelyn: Ry gaze drops down and her eyes widen, “What th’hell happened to yer chest… and shirt?! It looks like sum’un tried ta burn a hole inna ya!”
Araatris: The huntress has a chance to look down, and she blushes to realize the extra skin exposure from the damage to her armor. “Well… someone did.”
Rhoelyn: Rylana’s mouth shapes into an “o”. “Umm. Yer okay now, right?” She reaches forward and tugs Nysse’s cloak over her shoulders. “It’s uh… drafty.”
Araatris: “Wrune protected us, so I’m just a little singed.” Nysse grins, breathing a sigh of relief. Tsume nudges at Ry’s hair, earning a pat.
Rhoelyn: The girl sits up and wraps an arm around the wolf, “Ah’m glad. Ah was worried wit’ how much…” She gestures and Nysse draws the cloak closed.
Araatris: At Verune’s gesture, the two barriers of vines around them drop, revealing the milling worgen, both harmed and unharmed. Ry pales, looking around.
Rhoelyn: Nysse’s soft voice is meant only for Rylana, “Do you want to look for them? I’ll go with you.” She rests a comforting hand on Ry’s shoulder.
Araatris: The girl gulps. “Ah… ah guess ah should.” She gets to her feet with a bit of reluctance, saying quietly, “N-not like ah care much.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress whispers, “It’s okay if you do care. They are your parents.” She grasps Ry’s hand. “I’ll stay with you unless you say otherwise.”
Araatris: With a nod and a firm grip on Nysse’s hand, she steps away from the party and into the milling hunters. She flushes under their glares and growls.
Rhoelyn: Nysse murmurs as they walk along, “Do you see them?” Rylana nods and tugs her to a pair along the the side, one is cut along the shoulder.
Araatris: Her father treats her mother’s wound, his back to them. But her mother looks up, noticing Rylana and pressing her lips in a tight, angry line.
Rhoelyn: Nysse watches silently as the father pauses and looks over his shoulder. He then purposefully turns back to his task. “What d’ya want, kid?”
Araatris: “A-ah jes’ wanted ta… ta check yas weren’t too bad hurt.” The girl tries to put on a brave face, but Nysse can feel her hand trembling.
Rhoelyn: Her mother frowns, “We’re fine no thanks t’ya.” The worgen’s gaze slide over Nysse. The woman looks away, “Ah’m guessin’ ya chose them over us.”
Araatris: Rylana hesitates, then quietly says, “S’pose ah did.” The girl doesn’t know what else to say, and she glances up at Nysse uncertainly.
Rhoelyn: Nysse squeezes Rylana’s hand and smiles gently. She looks at Ry’s parents, “We’ll guide her and keep her safe. She’s a wonderful young woman.”
Araatris: Ry blushes at the praise even as her father finally turns, sneering and folding his arms. “Joke’s on ya, elf. Sh’ain’t worth nuthin’. Never been.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse wraps her arm around Ry’s shoulder. “I’m sorry you can’t see it. I hope that one day you will.” She glances down at Ry questioningly.
Araatris: “Le’ss go…” the girl says softly, tugging Nysse away from them hastily. She just keeps her head and eyes down as they walk back toward the others.
Rhoelyn: The huntress waits until they are near the others before pulling Rylana into a hug, “You’re not worthless, Ry. No matter what they say.”
Araatris: She sniffles a bit, pulling away quickly. Though she keeps her expression cool, her cheeks color. “Ain’t nuthin’ new. Ah’m used to it from ‘im.”
Rhoelyn: “It doesn’t make it easier.” Nysse tugs her cloak closed again with a shiver. “I’m going to check on Rhese. Are you good staying with Tsume?”
Araatris: “Yeah,” she says. “Ah’ll keep an eye on ‘er.” She heads back to where Kaerryn and Valerio continue to guard the scythe with the wolves.
Rhoelyn: Nysse tries to ignore the chilly breeze cutting through the cloak as she hurries to where Rhese and Verune speak with the worgen’s leader.
Araatris: Seeing her approach, Rhese excuses himself to leave Verune to the discussion and turns to meet her. “Nysse. Are you alright, lovely?”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods, “I’m fine. You did a great job with everything. Even healing me.” She smiles fondly. “You’re fine, aren’t you?” She shivers again.
Araatris: He grins and takes her hand, kissing the back of her glove. He’s not even phased when she quickly pulls away. “Barely a scratch.You look cold.”
Rhoelyn: She blushes and hugs the cloak tighter to her chest, “I-I…” Nysse recalls Ry’s phrase, “It’s a little drafty. I’m glad you weren’t hurt.”
Araatris: The cocky good humor in his smile is something she hasn’t seen a lot of in recent weeks. “It takes a lot more than a elderly druid to harm me.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse giggles and teases, “So I see, but you might have just healed yourself to make yourself look better. Though I’m not sure that’s possible.”
Araatris: “Healing myself? Definitely. Looking better?” He leans close and whispers something in her ear that has her instantly blushing. “Rhese!”
Rhoelyn: She stutters, “I can’t believe you said t-that!” Rhese chuckles as she mutters, “And I was going to ask if you had an extra shirt. Maybe I–.”
Araatris: When she looks over at Wrune with a mischievous smirk, he growls and places a finger across her lips. “Don’t even say it. You can borrow mine.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress shifts away from his finger with a bark of laughter, “You might want to retrieve it. The cloak only helps, but I’m still cold.”
Araatris: “Anything my lady wishes.” He takes just a moment to retrieve his spare tunic from his pack and hands it to her. “We can’t leave you cold.”
Rhoelyn: After dropping her equipment, Nysse takes the shirt and pulls it on. It hangs loosely on her thinner frame. She blushes again, “Thank you.”
Araatris: His gaze is warm as he leans down to grab her cloak. “My pleasure, Nysse.” As he pulls it around her shoulders and fastens it, she clasps her hands.
Rhoelyn: Nysse takes a small step towards him, but suddenly looks where Ry is, “Um. Ry checked on her parents. They’re fine, but they weren’t… kind.”
Araatris: Rhese sighs, following her gaze. “I wish I could say that surprised me. We need to figure out what to do with her.” He frowns and steps away.
Rhoelyn: Her voice is soft, “I wish they hadn’t been harsh. I could tell it really affected her.” She picks up her pack and bow. “Maybe we let her choose.”
Araatris: The druid nods. “Elune knows, she’s had little enough choice in her life before now. Should I go talk to her?” They watch the girl cuddle Tsume.
Rhoelyn: “I’m not the best person to ask about that. She’s trying to be tough, but I don’t know what to do.” Nysse shifts back and forth on her feet.
Araatris: “Maybe Wrune would be a good person to talk to.” Rhese rumbles thoughtfully. “I’m not the best person to discuss parent problems, either.”
Rhoelyn: The tension in Nysse’s shoulders ebb, “I’d suggest Verune, but she seems to prefer Wrune. I think you’re right. Wrune will know what to do.”
Araatris: “The first thing we need to do is get her away from all of… this.” He gestures around them. “I’ll speak with Aron on the way back to the Lodge.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods. She jumps when Verune speaks behind her, “They’re heading back to the village and they’ll expect a formal liaison later.”
Araatris: “Do you think they’ll behave?” Rhese asks, lowering his voice. The elder druid nods. “I think they understand that they have no choice.”
Rhoelyn: “Is it safe to camp for the night or do we try to push on?” Nysse turns to face Verune. The night elf considers her and the question carefully.
Araatris: “We should push on,” he decides at length. “The Pack needs space to deal with their deceased and wounded. And it’s prudent to stay cautious.”
Rhoelyn: She looks at the sky, but doesn’t protest. “I’ll get everyone moving. We probably shouldn’t linger.” Nysse strides to the others purposefully.
Araatris: She doesn’t find much resistance to Verune’s decision, only a short delay as Wrune finishes healing the last of Kaerryn’s wounds.
Rhoelyn: Shortly, they’re heading back down the trail to Amberpine. Wrune and Rhese talk quietly in the rear while Nysse keeps Ry in silent company.
**Araatris**: “I’d guess she’s about 16 or so, Rhese.” Wrune shrugs. “Is that… young?” Rhese scratches his head, making Wrune chuckle. “Not quite adult.”
Rhoelyn: Wrune continues, “Most would consider 18 to be an adult. She’d be best with a mentor to guide her. She’s not ready to be on her own.”
Araatris: “A mentor like you?” The paladin blinks, his eyes going wide. “Well… let’s find out what she wants to do. She’s not too young to apprentice.”
Rhoelyn: Aron quickly recovers from his surprise, “Yes, but let’s not rush it. We can ask her in the morning after she’s had a chance to rest.”
Araatris: Rhese nods, patting the man’s shoulder. “Good point. Thanks, Wrune. I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to a human child. Or any child.”
Rhoelyn: “I try to stop by the orphanage in Stormwind and help out. Rylana isn’t much different.” Wrune rubs his chin. “I’m curious what she’ll choose.”
Araatris: Watching Nysse lean down to let the girl whisper in her ear, the druid smiles warmly. “I am, too. I hope with us, she’s gained more than she’s lost.”
Rhoelyn: Wrune agrees, “It seems she’s rather attached to Nysse.” They watch as Nysse smiles and brush Rylana’s hair back. “She’s good with her.”
Araatris: “Yes…” he says, then chuckles. “She’s found a new pup to care for, despite everything. Nysse forgave her quickly and pushed me to as well.”
Rhoelyn: The paladin grins and chuckles as well, “I think even Verune has forgiven her. It’s hard to argue when Nysse is hovering over her protectively.”
Araatris: Rhese grimaces. “You don’t have to tell me. Ry earned herself an invincible champion. I just hope Nysse doesn’t volunteer Rhoelyn to keep her.”
Rhoelyn: Wrune frowns and adjusts his pack, “Do you think she’d do that to your sister? I can’t imagine she’d enjoy having a sudden houseguest.”
Araatris: As Ry giggles at something Nysse says, the druid shakes his head. “Her tender heart or her quiet way with Rhoe… I’m really not sure which wins.”
Rhoelyn: “She thought she’d get between you and Rhoelyn after the orbs.” Wrune watches as Nysse brings Rhese’s shirt to her face when a stiff breeze hits.
Araatris: “I know. We talked about it, once. She really didn’t like it when I laughed about that silly idea.” The druid scratches his cheek, wincing.
Rhoelyn: Wrune chuckles, “I can imagine. I’m glad that she talked to you.” He looks up the hill, “We should be there soon, but it’s getting dark already.”
Araatris: As if on cue, Verune steps up beside them. “Pardon the interruption, Rhese. Aron, I would prefer to push on, if you’re willing to light the way.”
Rhoelyn: The paladin nods, “I’ll head to the front.” Wrune’s hand glows as he moves ahead. Rhese glances at Verune, “Are the wards holding it safely?”
Araatris: Glancing down at the vine-wrapped scythe in his hand, the elder druid nods. “The wards are stable enough. Though its resistance is constant.”
Rhoelyn: Rhese sighs in relief, “Nothing I did held it for long.” He quickly changes the subject, “Are you going back to Nighthaven after all this?”
Araatris: “That is my desire.” Verune nods. “Not only do I have existing research to return to, but the scythe bears significant study. There’s much to do.”
Rhoelyn: Rhese scratches his cheek again, “Could I ask you a favor? Nysse wanted to get away after this, but Tsume…” He sweeps his hand towards the wolf.
Araatris: Verune follows his gesture, watching the wolf pad beside Val and her mate. “You wish her taken back to Rhoelyn for a nice, safe convalescence?”
Rhoelyn: “Yes. I don’t want Nysse to find a reason to back out. I’m afraid she’ll try.” Rhese’s voice betrays his frustration. “I still have to ask Morthis.”
Araatris: His former teacher nods understandingly, patting his shoulder. “Be patient with her, cub. But not too patient. She needs a push now and again.”
Rhoelyn: Rhese rubs his face, “I’m trying, but I don’t know what to do about the rooms tonight. I know what I’d usually do. Maybe Rylana and her?”
Araatris: “You’d best leave that up to her. And be prepared for what you suspect she will say.” Looking sympathetic, Verune adds, “I’ll see to Tsume.”
Rhoelyn: He smiles gratefully, “Thanks.” The conversations fades as they walk. It’s a while before they see the familiar lights at the top of the hill.
Araatris: Nysse grins and nudges Rylana for the third time as the sleepy girl’s head nods. “Look. Not much farther now.” She mutters, “Mmhm.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress laughs, “Don’t fall asleep this close to having a bed. We normally share rooms. Do you have a preference? I can tell Wrune.”
Araatris: Ry rubs her eyes, trying to gather her wits. “Ah’m not gonna stay with ya, Nysse?” The night elf glances back at Rhese uncertainly.
Rhoelyn: She bites her lip and gently pets Rylana’s hair, “If that’s what you want, then of course you can. I’ll let Rhese and Wrune know, alright?”
Araatris: When the girl nods, unable to hide her relieved look, Nysse lags back to join Rhese and Verune. She greets them both with a tentative smile.
Rhoelyn: Nysse doesn’t quite meet Rhese’s eyes when she speaks, “Do you mind sharing a room with someone else tonight? Rylana asked to stay with me.”
Araatris: The two men share an unreadable look before Rhese looks at her, expression neutral. “I don’t mind, lovely. I’m sure she’ll be more comfortable.”
Rhoelyn: “Thank you, beloved. I better let Wrune know.” Nysse hurries forward, oblivious to Rhese’s sigh behind her. Verune pats Rhese’s shoulder.
Araatris: The paladin looks at little surprised at her request, but quickly clears his expression. “Of course,” he acknowledges. Val frowns at her.
Rhoelyn: He follows up with a concerned question, “Wouldn’t you prefer to be with Rhese after all this? I’m sure one us could watch over the kid.”
Araatris: When Nysse flushes, he continues, “He’s been through everything you have and more.” Wrune finally puts a hand on his arm, shaking his head.
Rhoelyn: Wrune softly, but firmly intervenes, “What they do is between them, Val. I’m sure they’ve discussed it. And, Nysse, she’s falling asleep again.”
Araatris: With a tiny, empty smile for them both, she beats a hasty retreat, reaching Ry just in time to catch her elbow when she stumbles sleepily.
Rhoelyn: Nysse focuses on Rylana almost to the exclusion of anyone else, even when Wrune and Valerio argue in low tones as they enter Amberpine.
Araatris: Rhese steps up and rests a hand on Val’s shoulder, interrupting the discussion. “Come on, pal. Let’s get the wolves stabled and comfortable.”
Rhoelyn: Valerio shoots him a look as he complies, “Rhese, why is…” The conversation fades as the druid hurries him away. Wrune steps inside the inn.
Araatris: Only a short while later, Rylana lies curled up on the bed in the room all three of the women share. Kaerryn is stretched out beside her, yawning.
Rhoelyn: Nysse lays her clothes across the back of a chair. She tugs on the hem of Rhese’s tunic as she slips into bed opposite of Kaerryn. “Goodnight.”
Araatris: Kaerryn grunts, and just as Nysse starts to settle in, a quiet knock sounds at the door. The warrior buries her head in the blanket. “All yours.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse sighs and pads to the door. She checks the hem of the shirt before cracking the door to find Rhese waiting, “Rhese? Is Tsume okay?”
Araatris: He nods, speaking softly, “She’s resting, lovely. Can we talk for just a minute before you sleep?” The druid looks tired himself.
Rhoelyn: She glances back in the room. Finally, she nods, “Yes, of course.” Nysse bites her lip as she steps into the hall and closes the door.
Araatris: Rhese blinks, his gaze traveling up and down her as the moment extends and he blanks on what he was going to say. He tears his eyes away, coughing.
Rhoelyn: Blushing, Nysse ducks her head and pulls down on the tunic. “W-what did you want to talk about?” She presses herself back against the door.
Araatris: “I… uh… I spoke to Verune,” he mutters. “He’ll take Tsume back to Nighthaven with him. Morthis is sleeping, so I’ll report in the morning.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse protests, “We can take Tsume back ourselves. I should keep a close eye on her. She’ll be having those pups before we know it…”
Araatris: He doesn’t quite manage to keep the disappointment from his weary expression. “Rhoe will make sure she’s healthy. We have other plans, remember?”
Rhoelyn: Meekly she nods, “Y-you want to go so soon? What about Rylana? Who’s going to watch out for her?” She stares nervously around the hallway.
Araatris: “That depends on what she wants. Wrune and Verune are willing. Val, too.” Rhese manages a little grin. “I haven’t asked Kaerryn. Too scary.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse finally relents with shy look, “If no one minds looking out for Tsume and Ry… we can go, but we never decided where. Only that it’d be warm.”
Araatris: He reaches out for her with a warming grin. “I thought maybe Feralas. There should be some beautiful and warm places to get lost there.”
Rhoelyn: Unable to react before he embraces her, Nysse holds so still that she trembles with the effort. She whispers, “Y-yes, that will be n-nice. W-when?”
Araatris: Aware of her nervousness, he pulls away, but lets his hands linger on her arms selfishly. “I thought maybe after tomorrow. We can leave early.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods vigorously. She rambles, “O-of course. I need to go shopping. You need to report. Oh, and we need to talk to Rylana and tell everyone.”
Araatris: Rhese rubs his thumb along her arm. “You’ll need cooler clothing. I can repair your winter armor, though. But maybe we could keep leaving quiet.”
Rhoelyn: She looks up, blinking owlishly at him, “Keep it quiet? It’s not like they’d follow us. We really should tell someone in case something happens.”
Araatris: “Well, Verune, then.” He leans close, lowering his voice. “You know Kaerryn and Val will have witty comments. And do you want to explain to Ry…?”
Rhoelyn: Nysse shakes her head, “N-no, definitely not!” She flushes, “I’ll tell Verune when we’re ready. I can remind him about Tsume at the same time.”
Araatris: Rhese smiles warmly at her, daring to brush her hair back from her face. He ignores her flinch. “Good. … Nysse, I haven’t said thank you enough.”
Rhoelyn: “It’s not necessary.” She smiles, but glances at the doorway and edges towards it, “W-we should get some sleep. Tomorrow is going to be busy… ”
Araatris: His small sigh is half frustration and half resignation. “Anything my lady wishes. Rest well, love. I’ll see you in the morning.” He steps back.
Rhoelyn: She nods, “You rest well, too.” She turns and puts her hand on the handle, stopping for a moment. “I love you.” She hurries into the room.
Araatris: Once the door has closed, Rhese mutters, “I love you, too, Nysse.” He rests his forehead on the wood for a moment, gathering his strength for the lonely walk back to his room.
Araatris: “So, by the fifth time I beat her at the spar, she…” Kaerryn leans over and whispers, earning a bright blush from Rylana trudging beside her.