Stormclaw @sahqoreyth
Fateful Convergence

Fateful Convergence

Laronar Stormclaw spent some much needed time dreaming after the War of the Shifting Sands, and during that time, he walked alone, to parts of the Dream that even green dragons did not know of, or venture near. He learned sometimes from the mind that, in his limited understanding, formed the base and shell of the incomprehensibly large dream realm, and with this knowledge, became stronger, and better able to defend her. Each lesson made him stronger, deepening his connection to the natural world, the only problem was that such lessons often had decades between them. For an immortal with a body that wouldn't quit however, that was not an issue.

For one hundred and seventy five years Laronar walked the Dream, primarily with Ashamane and Storm. They traveled, spoke mostly only to each other and the recovering green dragons, and practiced friendly duels each rest cycle. Usually, the Wild God would pit herself against two of her favored males, just to give them a chance. It was adorable that they genuinely believed they stood one, but then, that was part of their charm.

After realizing almost two centuries had passed, Laronar emerged from the Dream refreshed, and with the horrors of war not constantly flashing before his waking eyes with every eyeblink. He did not linger in the Dreamgrove, for he had emerged into daylight. Rensar Greathoof shared a mutual nod of respect from the spot he usually stood watch in as the Feral Druid passed by, took his favored form, and headed into the wilds of Val'sharah. The Dream was beautiful yes, but he had always found Azeroth, and the reality he'd existed in most of his life, to be more so. No other area came close to matching Val'sharah. It was the best combination of both realms.

Laronar padded quietly through Val'sharah, and left Storm to reclaim his harem from the upstart males who had no doubt taken over in his absence. He padded silently past the Temple of the Moon, or what was left of it, as well as the elves within, through Azsuna, until finally he reached the shattered shoreline. From there, he flew.

From the air, the still-standing dome of arcane energy that sheltered, presumably, what was left of Suramar from the elder days drew his gaze. Across from the dome was a place once known to his people as Thal'dranath. Once, a great temple to the Moon Goddess had stood here, across from Suramar's Night Hold. Now, it had sunk into the ocean, and only the weathered stone heads of the elven maidens adorning its high towers marked where the top point of the tower had been. He eyed it with slight suspicion. When last he'd seen it, it had stood much taller above the waves. Now, most of the good perches were properly under the ocean. He supposed the earth below must have shifted. The wounds of the Shattering had not faded away, even after thousands of years.

The druid landed in one of the bowls for holding holy water held by the fair stone arms, and reclined in it, finding a surprisingly comfortable layer of moss within. He did what he usually did when he was alone, and pulled out the cat-headed pipe. Soon after, clouds of magically animated smoke drifted into the air before him. First, was a Nightsaber. Then he gave it friends, and they chased each other until they were blown away by strong winds from the south.

Alone for the first time in almost two hundred years, the druid decided to let his mind wander as he toked and exhaled until the moons rose over the horizon to his left. He glanced down at his darkened skin, frowned, and realized he rather missed being his whole self. It had taken war and time to realize what the Moon Goddess had stripped him of, and while he would never relinquish his bond with nature and the spirit of the Wilds, he knew then that he wished to enjoy the moon as the rest of his kin did. The pridefulness that had spurred his past words had faded somewhere on the sands of Silithus. Now, he just wanted to feel the light again. The sun was a bit harsh for his taste, but the moon always, every single night, avoided shining on him.

Moonrise was always a joyful time in his society, and yet, since their falling out he had been quietly left out of it. While the lack of light had undoubtedly improved his stealthiness, he did not feel the trade worth it. Ashamane was plenty stealthy naturally, and she had been right. He was less than he could be. The more he thought, the more he realized, with a slowly growing smirk, that the offers for physical copulation had ceased as well. More than a few of his race's females would not deign to socialize with one shunned by the Moon Goddess.

He glanced up at the blazing white orb, and waited, expectantly. And waited. He waited until she and her Child had climbed to the highest point in the sky, eyes never moving from her radiance, as he was rather determined to have some kind of acknowledgement for the amount of time he'd spent waiting thus far.

His fallacious ideas faded as a sound filled his ears. He knew a musical tune when he heard one, the only problem, was that this one was in another...language...and said language evidently only had two words.

"Om nom nom, om nom nom. Nom nom om nom nooomm! Nom nom nom, om nom nom nom, nom nom nom om nom nooooommm!" The proud, and definitely male, voice echoed the catchy tune, and as its owner came into view, the druid slooowly raised an emerald green eyebrow. It was a bear, but it sat like a sentient, a Furbolg almost, but fatter, so very much fatter, almost to the point of silliness.

The absurdity of the sight only grew, as he saw that the fat not-Furbolg was holding naught but a bamboo shafted umbrella over his head, despite there being no rain on the horizon, but most silly of all was what the black and white bear was riding on. It was a giant turtle, of a particular species that, Laronar knew after much reading on the subject, grew to massive sizes, if allowed to. Many lived on the elven land's westernmost coasts, where the waters were relatively clear of predators, and nature flourished thanks to the many barrow dens now once more home to sleeping druids.

He was still a little turtle though, and his rider, while young judging by his excited eyes, had already reached maturity. His mount, had not. The om noms stopped as the druid shifted in his mossy cradle, and pulled a pinch of soot and salt from one of his pouches. The inscribed leather chest straps had been stored, properly, for when next he would need them, but he'd kept the extra pouches, as well as the rest of his usual attire. He always needed bag space.

He traced an ancient sigil over the salty, sooty pile in his hand, and then blew it down towards the bear man and the turtle. Both sniffed, eyeing his spot curiously, as they caught a whiff of what seemed almost like skunk, buried beneath the usual ocean saltiness.

Laronar popped up from over the ridge of the bowl. "Hello there. Your little friend looks tired. Let me...aid him a little…" The druid raised two fingers slowly, and though the black and white bear clenched his bamboo umbrella tighter, he did not make a violent move. The elf transferred the power, and the Mark appeared above the turtle, making his eyes widen, as his strength suddenly surged. He rose higher in the water, and Laronar realized, he was a bit bigger than he'd first guessed. Still not quite enough for a bear that large, but they had apparently made due.

The bear man glanced at his mount, and spoke softly to it. It wasn't more om nom, but even the elf's sharp ears didn't catch the words above the crashing surf around the sunken temple. The bear looked back up at Laronar. "Tell me, stranger. Are you a...Night Elf? I have only read stories, and old ones at that, of your kind, but all mention the glowing eyes, dark skin, and long ears. Do you happen to know where we are, and if there is a place to rest?"

The druid smirked from his lofty perch. "You are in what my people call the Broken Isles. I am indeed one of the Kaldorei. Follow me, I will guide you to the closest beach, and we can talk some more."

The druid shifted forms then, taking on the guise of a large, deep blue feathered owl. The eyes remained the same, and were just as intense, and the turtle followed the silent bird with impressive swimming speed. Once the pair reached land, Laronar resumed his elven shape, and began conjuring a campfire for the bear and he to sit at.

He approached the druid curiously as his turtle mount rested on the sand, falling asleep almost immediately. The obese bear bowed with surprising formality. "I am Liu Lang. I hail from Pandaria, a land to the south, enshrouded by mist. I was told the rest of the world was destroyed in the Sundering. Tell me, Kaldorei, is this the truth?"

Laronar shook his head, and soon, an emerald flamed campfire coalesced out of swirling nature energy from the druid's palms. "No. The world yet exists, though I can only speak for the northernmost and western landmasses. There is one to the east, but I have not been there, yet. My home, to the west, is called Kalimdor, as it was when my people ruled over its entirety." He eyed the bear again, for one of the words he spoke rang with a familiar sound. "Pandaria, you said? Are you...Pandaken? Pandakin? Hrrmph. My grandfather told me a story of your people once, but I cannot remember what he named you." The druid chuckled, and sighed. "After ninety two hundred years...give or take...that's to be expected, I suppose."

"Pandaren." Liu said, eyeing the elf with skepticism. Then again, this same being had just literally transformed into a bird before his eyes and with little trouble. Lots of things that seemed impossible before were starting to become realistic, maybe. It was clear to the Pandaren that he had much to learn.

They talked well into that night, and Laronar learned, slowly, of what the Pandaren had suffered since they'd lost contact with the world. Mostly, the night was spent recounting the tale of the War of the Ancients, and for that, he mainly borrowed from what Shandris had shared, as she had been there for the more interesting bits. Then, the creature wished to hear of the other great conflicts that his race had missed being a part of, or aiding in. By the time the druid mentioned the Shifting Sands, he spoke up again.

"These bugs...they sound...familiar. We have a similar affliction in Pandaria, beyond the Serpent's Spine. They are not...nearly as numerous though. Not enough to overwhelm the Shado-Pan, anyway." Liu stroked his growing beard, which dangled just past his chin, as he thought over what he had just been told. "I would see Kalimdor, or what remains of it. I wish to know its people."

The elf raised a brow, and then shrugged. He was due for a walkabout. It had been far too long since he'd prowled Kalimdor. Thousands of years, in fact. He wondered what had changed. "Very well. I'll take you to the less...hostile...tribes, but first, we need to teach you basic elvish."

The bear tilted his head. "Elvish? Why?"

Laronar chuckled. "Because this spell lasts only so long, and elvish is the language of trade. Or at least, it was the last time I did any trading over there."

The bear shrugged, acquiesced, and the pair spent the rest of the night learning. It was surprisingly simple to teach, which impressed Laronar. Any comparisons to a Furbolg's intelligence were nonexistent, the Padaren picked up the elder tongue rather quickly. He would refine the bear's speech as they traveled, and by the time they reached Kalimdor, he would be able to get along without the elf, if necessary.

Feralas - Central Kalimdor

"The Earth Mother consumed much of the spirit of balance in this world with her awakening. Because of this, our world's elemental planes have rarely found harmony. As a Shaman, and her chosen people, we Tauren must use the power she gives us to maintain the balance between the elements, and all living things. This is the difference between shaman, and those like him, who defend the world, and her Dream, from forces that would see them ended." The Tauren speaking was a shaman of some respect in the tribe the pair was visiting, and he nodded towards Laronar as he spoke, who was at that moment passing on his own pipe to the Tauren beside him.

Liu, who had been the one to ask the difference between shaman and druids, nodded. "So the Earth Mother gives you this...fifth element, and with it, you convince the elementals to aid you? Hmm."

Laronar spoke up then, passing his pipe along to the Tauren beside him. "Not quite, my friend. Spirit and our...Earth Mother...they are two separate things. One is energy, present in all living things, and the other is a being who needed, and still needs, large amounts of that energy to truly wake up. I don't doubt that the Shu'halo are Azeroth's children, but she has many who grew here naturally, and were not...created by other entities."

The old Tauren chuckled lightly. "I did not know druids knew so much of the spirits."

Laronar smirked, "One picks up such knowledge after a few millennia. I am curious though, Shaman. When last I prowled these lands, our people traded in peace. There was open communication, if not friendship but it seems to have...cooled. Many tribes turned us away before we found yours...and you all seem to be far more...nomadic, than I recall."

The shaman tilted his head at the elf. "I forget, some of you live so long you become unaware of massive, impactful events."

Laronar shrugged. "I was off on an island chain near the Maelstrom for thousands of years. That's as isolated as it gets."

The Tauren eyed the elf again, not for the first time, in yet another attempt to discern whether he was, in actuality, millennia old, or whether he was some centaur's magical trick of illusion and deception. "Truly? Few of our druids have seen it, and fewer escape being caught within its winds. Even shaman find that our air elementals become wild when we go near it from above. Hmm. What you have missed, it seems, was the ruin of Mashan'she. The Tauren of those bountiful days were convinced that the Earth Mother slept below them. They tried to wake her up."

The Shaman paused, as he toked on the pipe, and then exhaled into a coughing fit. "Hrrrmmph. They succeeded in waking something up...but it was not the Earth Mother. They awoke an Earth Elemental, a 'princess' calling herself Theradras, who proceeded to drain Mashan'she's bountiful life energy to replenish her own. When one of your Cenarion Circle came to investigate the massive loss of life, the Keeper, Zaetar, instead chose to mate with the creature. From that union came our doom. The Centaur. Unholy offspring of earth and natural powers, they killed Zaetar in their senseless rage, and have driven us from Mashan'she, as well as everywhere else, Night Elf. Your people have not aided us. They are of the opinion that we brought this doom upon ourselves, and must suffer it alone."

Laronar sighed. "I recall being told something similar, when our people's situations were reversed. But that is the problem, Shaman. If we keep leaving each other to suffer alone, our people will lose what we gained in the War of the Ancients entirely."

One of the other Tauren, the chief, judging by his headdress, snorted hard, and interrupted the two. "The War happened long ago, Night Elf. Much has changed. I welcomed you because you remembered the old ways of greeting...but I think perhaps it is time you rejoined your people…there is much you seem to have missed."

Laronar raised a brow, glancing around at the other members of the tribe. Their eyes were hard, but not hateful. He had not refused to aid them, after all. He was a friend to their people, an old one, but one unaware of what his kin's common view of the Tauren was in more modern times. Unbeknownst to the druid, Fandral Staghelm's waking return to Nighthaven and beyond had only increased the elve's latent racism, and the entire 'Desolace incident' had only served to fuel the druid's skewed, and depressingly popular ideas on the inferiority of the Tauren.

The druid nodded to his companion, who stood with ease that belied his hefty form. "Perhaps you are right. My very next words were an offer to help you with the Centaur, after all we have dealt with harpies by unifying our forces, but I see now why my kin are hesitant. Your people have indeed changed. You turn away allies older than your lineage because of something as trivial as race. Perhaps what the Centaur have to teach you will help you re-learn the wisdom you seem to have lost."

"And perhaps, it will not." Liu said, eyeing the Tauren chief, and stifling the angry response he'd been forming.

The two departed the tent, and then the encampment soon after. They made their way back to the western coast just north of Sardor Isle, where Shen-zin Su, Liu's turtle, was waiting, hidden well in a safe coastal cave. They had traveled much of Kalimdor's relatively barren west coast, even getting a glimpse of Ahn'Qiraj, before heading to Feralas, the jungle which had a habit of bringing Kalimdor's sentients together in one place, and not always peacefully.

Now that he'd met a Tauren, the curious Pandaren was determined to find and learn about trolls, and their brand of shamanism. He claimed that the Pandaren had similar methods of worshiping elemental spirits, but the spirits of this land were vastly different to those of Pandaria. He'd asked where he might find shamanistic kin who would share wisdom, and Laronar had given him the Tauren, and the trolls. A journey to a troll village was one trip Laronar knew he would never take, as trollish hospitality and Night Elves did not mix well, historically. If the Tauren were stubborn in their dislike of the elves, the trolls of Kalimdor had them beat, easily. They still held grudges for the defeat of an empire no living troll, on Kalimdor, yet remembered.

"The trolls reside mostly on islands east of the barrens, in small tribes. Last I saw them, at least. They know better than to try raiding my people or the Tauren, but they may not hesitate to cook up a lone Pandaren just to learn the flavor. Watch your back, Liu." The druid finished with a bow in the elven style.

The black and white bear chuckled as he climbed atop the turtle. He had grown again, thanks in no small part to the six hour ritual Laronar had performed to ensure that he never stopped growing. The bear had confided in the elf that he wished to bring others of his kind and show them this wide, wide world, but his ride would only ever become so large. That was when the elf had asked the turtle if he'd mind growing well beyond his species' normal size.

Shen-zin Su had found that amusing, but had accepted, and already in the few days that had passed, he had gained bulk and size far quicker than normal. The druid had, after examining the giant turtle, known he would become rather large regardless. What he, and by extension the land, had given would only expand his potential. "I will be careful, Laronar Stormclaw. Good fortune on your journeys."

With that, the inquisitive bear and his turtle set off to the south once more, where they would swing around the southern coastline of Kalimdor and head up the eastern edge towards the many island-dwellers who had taken the only land that had remained unclaimed after the Sundering. Laronar headed north, towards his old grove, more than a little curious as to what a few millennia had done for it. As his silent wings soared free of the jungle's massive trees, he found what was left of Mashan'she. He flew east from there, and everywhere he looked, the Tauren's territory had either been claimed by other species, or overrun by fast moving dust clouds. He ventured a guess that those were the aforementioned centaur hordes.

It was only once he swung back around for a proper look at Mashan'she, or Desolace as it would come to be known, that he understood why his people had cut ties. The night colored owl flew silently above the northern wastes, though his heart lightened when he saw Stonetalon, and the first mountains of that region, still bearing life.

He also sensed his old grove, still intact, but flew first to one of his older apprentices, now very much a master in his own right after the better part of nine thousand years of teaching. Thal'darah greeted him, after taking a moment to adjust to his newer...appearance, within his grove.

The master druid sat them down at the top of the grove's tallest tree, for a look at Stonetalon's many valleys, and the view was impressive, as always. "Much has changed since Shan'do Stormrage sent you to Val'sharah, Laronar. Though the more...negative changes have only manifested since the Shifting Sands conflict ended. Every new acolyte we receive from Nighthaven, every single one, has inexplicable intolerance for the Tauren. None would say where they learned such prejudice, but I think you, I, and most druids our age can figure out what is happening."

Laronar scowled out at the vista. "Most druids our age are asleep, Thero'shan." He sighed heavily. "Staghelm again. He's becoming tiresome."

"Our people love him. Malfurion sleeps endlessly in the Dream, and those who stay awake as his 'guards', or for training, all become influenced by one of the 'greatest druids alive'." Thal'darah crossed his arms, and sighed as well.

"Are there any Tauren left in Nighthaven?" Laronar asked, eyes not moving from the mountains, though by no coincidence, he was facing north, and found himself glaring towards the Moonglade.

"Some...but I have heard chilling rumors. Stonetalon is rapidly becoming a hard, if peacefully shared, border between our peoples." Thal'darah sipped his tea as he finished. Unlike the Moonberry-loving northerners, the elves of Thal'darah's Grove had adopted the Tauren's favored drink, that didn't involve alcohol. Many who now slept under Stonetalon Peak itself had trained in this very grove, while Tauren druid aspirants from many tribes came as well, though in modern times, it was always to learn how better to combat the centaur. Not all had given up on ancient elven wisdom, apparently.

Laronar glanced around, after sipping his own hot leaf juice, and suppressing a grimace. Making tea was a new trick for the elves, and it showed. "I take it the Cliffwalker tribe has avoided the Centaur from the south?"

Thal'darah grimaced. "Here and in Feralas we have held them at bay with aid from the green dragonflight, or rather, their dragonspawn, and the Tauren native specifically to Stonetalon. The other tribes have fled west, but the Centaur will catch them."

Laronar frowned, and then met his old student's gaze. "Is there no way to help them?"

The other druid looked contemplative as he enjoyed his own view of the surroundings. Druids of all ages, teaching, talking, training. All branches, commingling together in peace. Two peoples with enough old hatreds between them to fill a library, and yet in druidism, they were united. "When one's enemy is chasing something you wish to keep alive, it is best to strike at where they are weakest, and hold their most valuable things." He said, quoting his old master, who had at the time of teaching this lesson, been quoting Ashamane. "The Centaur are on the rampage. They are fury incarnate. Zaetar's power has not easily blended with the earth elemental's. Time has only made them stronger."

The Feral Druid smirked at his apprentice, as they stood slowly, at the same time, reaching the same conclusion. "Time has only made us stronger as well...let us teach these abominations of Cenarius' nature why they should be very afraid of the druids who roam these wilds."

Elune's Brazier - Desolace

Another piece of satyr flesh was tossed into the silver flames of the ornate, and ancient brazier dedicated to the Moon Goddess. The priestess who was after her blessing had been guided to these relics of an empire long passed by way of visions. Remnants of the demonic taint had taken the area as a home, and Elune had wished them purged. As always, when the Mother Moon asked, Alaria Stormclaw answered her.

She sighed softly as she felt the blessing, and the satisfaction from her patron in the sky. Then, she set about cleaning. She had, for obvious reasons, taken claw markings upon her face when she'd reached maturity, and her blue hair, also covered in satyr gore, was bound in a simple braid. She was not dressed like one might expect a priestess of the Moon Goddess to dress, but then, she'd stopped acting like the rest of her sisters long ago.

After Loreth'aran had been sacked by black dragons, and those upon the island slaughtered to the last elf, Alaria had found herself on Kalimdor, dropped there by her lover's drake, who had returned, likely only to die beside his rider. They hadn't come back. Hungry and alone, she'd wandered for days on naught but what she had perceived as guidance from the moon. That, was when she'd found the sword. Kal'serrar. It was a lengthy blade, with runes in elven script so old, few yet lived who could translate them accurately. It resembled a katana, but lacked the curve, possessing instead a straight, merciless edge that was always alight with silver.

In those days, the demons had all but run rampant across Kalimdor, and as such, they had brought ruin to almost every elven settlement in the empire. Alaria had come across one such settlement, and found the slaughtered corpses of a group of fellow sisters, all dressed in silvery plate armor, and armed with blades whose like she had not seen before. All but one had been broken, and that one, she had been bid to take up by the Goddess herself.

Since doing so, Elune had empowered her, making her far better at fighting in close combat. The young priestess had scavenged what armor hadn't been torn asunder, as well as the rations her departed sisters no longer needed, before setting off, again guided by the moon's light, towards demon sect after demon sect, rampaging wildly across the continent. She had continued this for months, slowly teaching herself how best to use the sword, when quite suddenly, the demons she'd tracked had been ripped away by an inexplicably powerful force, through the sky, and towards what she assumed was Zin'Azshari.

Upon reconnecting with what was left of the Sisterhood at Hyjal, the new High Priestess had wanted to store the silver-glowing blade away, as a treasured relic of a now passed age, but Alaria had refused to give it up. Eventually, Tyrande had stopped asking, for the Moon Goddess had not weighed in either, and the blade had, somehow, burned the hand of whoever else tried wielding it. Alaria had been taught then in the same manner as the rest of the surviving Sisterhood, until the War of the Satyr.

She had been transferred to the Sentinel's care after that, and after learning her surname, for reasons the Ranger General had never shared, Shandris Feathermoon had granted her leave to do as she saw fit, and take her commands from Elune first, and herself second. For the better part of her Long Vigil, Alaria had hunted the surviving satyrs, guided by visions and feelings every so often. This current mission was only the latest in a long, long line of demon slaying.

Her silver eyes glanced out at the carnage now befouling the ruins with demonic blood, and the 'war priestess' sighed. She wiped the silvery blade clean, and sheathed it once more upon her back, thinking her task was done. She paused though, as she felt a familiar guidance draw her gaze to the sky. She did not know why, until she spied a pair of birds, an owl and a Storm Crow, heading south towards one of the centaur's camps.

Alaria glanced up at the moon, smiling slightly as the light rejuvenated her, and then pointed her in the same direction. She was more warrior than priestess, according to her fellow worshipers, but she had always argued that while healing and light were essential, Elune also required those who could, and would, do the more grisly tasks she required. The priestess hopped on her Frostsaber then, and followed the birds. She knew they were likely druids, and for them to still be awake, they must have held some importance among the male's Circle.

From a distance, she watched as they descended on the northernmost centaur tribe, now mostly free of warriors, who were even then marauding to the east, and chasing the Tauren. She had never much liked the bull men, but they were typically peaceful, defended the land, and were historically on good terms with the Sentinels. She understood why the Kaldorei refused to aid them, namely because they were still recovering from their own most recent conflict, but it seemed these druids were intent on drawing the hordes back home. It was a sound tactical move, given that the majority of the hordes were off chasing the Tauren.

Lightning and wind tore apart the tents, and a massive black maned panther took care of the casters and female fighters the centaur possessed. She did not see what happened to the centaur young, but judging by the flames and wrecked domiciles, she guessed the druids would leave them to their fate. It was not long before they were in the air again, heading towards the next encampment. Already, what few survivors there were from the now ruined one were heading east. It would not be too long before the hordes turned around.

Alaria rode up again to the second encampment, and this time, leapt into the fray. The light of her patron surrounded her with surprising intensity, and though the druids seemed startled by her appearance, clad in plate armor and covered in satyr remnants, and now pieces of centaur as well, they welcomed her aid. Once the tents were aflame and the inhabitants all but wiped out, the druids again flew off, and Alaria followed.

Not far from the camp, the three Kaldorei met properly. Thal'darah introduced himself first. "I am the master of Thal'darah Grove, in Stonetalon. Thank you, Priestess, for aiding us. I am curious though...why is one such as yourself out here, of all places?"

The owl, who had just landed beside them, was eyeing her with amber eyes that were too intense for her liking, and yet, somehow so very familiar. For the first time in almost ten millennia, she found herself recalling her middle brother, and his own amber eyes. She never found out what had become of him, or Vehlar. The war had completely broken her ties to family, but then, that had been the norm, in those days.

"Well met, Master Thal'darah. I was guided here by Elune. Some Satyrs had taken up residence in the ruin of one of her old temples." She patted the hilt of the blade on her back. "I removed them." The druid nodded in approval, as the other resumed his own form. By this point, Alaria expected druids to, in some way, resemble their favored patrons, and this one was no different.

Other instincts guided her eyes up the ridiculously muscled frame, and the muscles adorning it, but those instincts vanished into the void as their eyes met. She knew that face, though it was now bearded, and the wrong color. He was even still lacking a shirt, and as he spoke, she knew it beyond a doubt. Her middle brother had survived. "There are three more Centaur camps out here...I say we split them between us. How about it, Priestess?"

Where the sister had recognized the brother, Laronar had evidently not caught on yet, which made some sense. He likely thought her long dead, and she had been a youthful teen when last they'd seen each other. She had mature assets now, generous ones, according to some males, and quite a few females, but that was to be expected when one brought children into existence. The process had never ruined her form, nor had it made her give up her sword. She looked to Elune for guidance, and that was when she noticed. The moonlight was pointedly avoiding her brother.

She stared at him for a long time, wondering what on Azeroth had possessed him to anger their race's strongest ally, when she noticed. He had the look of a druid who'd slept too long in one of their forms, as if he might bite at her with no warning or provocation. "Yes...that would be best. I spied outrunners already heading west...the hordes will turn around soon. They must not know who has done this to them."

Laronar shook his head. "We want them to know it was us, or at least, Night Elves. Better to have them rebuilding, and on the defensive, instead of constantly charging after the Tauren. They may try to retaliate against Feralas but...I think Shandris can handle them."

Alaria blinked, once, at the casual use of the Ranger-General's first name. Thal'darah didn't seem to take notice, which implied he knew why her brother was on a first-name basis with the second most influential Kaldorei woman alive. She had heard rumor, of course, that the General had secret carnal relations with some druid once upon a time, but the odds of it being Laronar were astronomically sma- She paused in her musing, as the moon above drew her attention back to her task as only she could. Eyes narrowing slightly, Alaria nodded to herself. She'd just have to ask Shandris directly. "Very well...let the Centaur understand that they must be ever vigilant against us."

She drew Kal'serrar then, hopped on her Frostsaber, and began sprinting, rather obviously, towards the northernmost camp on the western coast of Mashan'she's lifeless land. The two druids split as well, with Thal'darah heading almost to the edge of Feralas, and Laronar taking the camp in between them. Alaria swung around, avoiding her own camp for the moment, as she watched her brother's tactics once more.

He was as quick and efficient as any Nightstalker the Sentinels employed, and his form's fangs were likely as sharp as any of their blades. Even in his panther form though, the moon avoided lighting the black furred druid. In the far distance, smoke began rising from yet more lightning strikes and a massive tornado followed soon after. Not wanting to be outdone, the Priestess headed for her own target.

She hid her obvious colored mount away from prying eyes atop a small rise just outside the settlement. Survivors of the last two raids had fled here, apparently, and security was high. It seemed centaur females were just as capable warriors as their men, which meant those left behind must have been leading, or raising children. Likely both.

Even the young were, to her eyes, abominations of what they should have been. She had befriended more than a few Dryads in her long, usually solo travels during her Vigil. She knew what centaurs were supposed to look like, though she had never seen Theradras, or any earth elemental for that matter. "Moon's shadow, come over me…" she whispered, beginning the elvish chant that, after much meditation, her patron had shared with her by way of visions. She raised Kal'serrar into the night air, and saw those below begin to take notice of the harbinger of their fate. "Star light in the darkness...awaken!"

She felt her form double in size, and the rage of combat filled her vision. She leapt into the camp from her perch, and landed among the centaur with all the fury of an Infernal. Kal'serrar cut through centaur flesh as easily as it had satyrs, and everything else she tested it against. The centaur tried to rush her all at once, but the priestess only grinned. That was what she had wanted.

Time seemed to slow as the moment to counter came, and her supernatural parrying of their blows ticked over. The priestess began to spin in place then, and centaur limbs went flying as the whirlwind of death tore through the majority of the tribe. She mercifully executed those who survived the deep wounds she'd left them with, and pummeled those who tried to cast spells her way into bloody pulp. She let the sword guide her body, as she always had, for it knew how best to keep her alive, and where it needed to be to continue to do so.

Spears broke in half, casters were left armless, and one by one, the unusual priestess reduced her enemy to nothing. Then, she turned to the tents, and finished her chant. "Light of Elune, burn in the darkness!" She raised the sword high, and columns of divine flame came down on the flammable tents. Survivors began trying to flee, but Alaria charged after them, ending them one by one. The young, she largely ignored, unless they too tried to fight her. More than a few did, and hearing their cries as the life left them made the priestess as sick as she always felt when dispatching the young and foolish. Be it harpies or centaurs, she did not know of an elf who enjoyed putting down youthful potential. But she did it anyway, for the blade had awoken and Elune demanded death, in return for her gifts of strength.

She walked out of the camp towards her mount, only to find that four enterprising outrunners had found the cat first. Three lay dead, torn apart by a frenzy of claws, but the last had her spear in the Frostsaber's chest. Alaria knew a mortal blow when she saw one, and as the light left her mount's eyes, the rage returned, in full.

Before the centaur responsible could so much as blink, Alaria was there, and with four very angry, very deep strikes, she left the mortal world alongside the cat she had killed. Alaria raised her hands, calling on her goddess' healing light, but the spell did not take. There was no life left to heal or rejuvenate.

She didn't notice the tears cutting through the grime on her cheeks as she took her friend's fangs, but the two druids who landed nearby certainly did. Laronar came over first, and the priestess watched as she saw genuine sadness come over his features. "Frostsabers are among the most ferocious of is a shame such a powerful female has fallen in so small a conflict." He knelt beside the body, and placed a hand upon the cat's forehead. "Ashamane, guide her home."

"Home?" Alaria managed, noticing for the first time how her voice broke in the attempt at speaking.

Laronar nodded. "The Dream is home to many spirits of those long departed. Ashamane is the mother of all Nightsabers. She will guide your friend to the dens of her kin."

Alaria arched a brow, now more curious, as her brother seemed to know what he was talking about. "There are...dens in the Dream as well?"

He nodded again, tone as solemn as hers. "I have visited them. The Frostsabers in particular have a very impressive resting space."

"Like Frostsaber rock…" Alaria muttered, eyes moving back to her fallen friend.

"The pride in the Dream has a different name for theirs...but yes. It is similar, though much, much larger. She will be happy there. Now come, quickly, they will regroup in short order. There was a nasty Shaman among mine who managed to get away...definitely a leader. We should depart before they realize where we are." Laronar had patted her shoulder in the same friendly-yet-awkward manner he'd had with females in their younger days, and then stood as he spoke. "Do you wish to come with us? We are heading for Stonetalon."

Alaria shook her head. "I'm going to Feathermoon Stronghold. I have business there."

"Then go safely, daughter of the Moon." Thal'darah chimed in, approaching the two as the moment they'd been having ended. "We must return, and quickly, I think. That sandstorm on the horizon is not natural…"

"It is fueled by rage...the earth is filled with it...yes, let us depart." Laronar said, agreeing with his contemporary. He gave Alaria a nod as well. "Moonspeed, Priestess."

With that, the two druids shifted forms, and began winging their way towards Stonetalon. Alaria sighed, regretting not getting the chance to have a proper family reunion, but 'hey, by the way I'm your long-dead sister' had not seemed like the right thing to say in this particular moment. She would find her brother again, but first, she wished to know why a certain Ranger-General had failed to mention he was alive in the first place.

Blade drawn, the priestess headed for Feralas, fully expecting to be ambushed at some point on the road. Her once silver, purple, and white armor was covered in gore and blood, as was her blade. Any surviving female centaur that saw her would likely correctly assume she had played a role in what was likely their kind's first racial tragedy.

Anonymous reviews have been disabled. Login to review. 1. Stormclaw 2292 0 0 2. Rejecting the Well 2778 0 0 3. The War of the Ancients 6284 0 0 4. Kalimdor Sunders 2362 0 0 5. The Wild Gods 4123 0 0 6. The Druidic Masters 3489 0 0 7. Dream Walking 1566 0 0 8. Satyrs and Wolves 4561 0 0 9. The Long Vigil Begins 4198 0 0 10. The Broken Crown 3954 0 0 11. The Fangs of Ashamane 5384 0 0 12. The Wayward Son 12238 0 0 13. The Circle Continues 5553 0 0 14. Shifting Sands 12175 0 0 15. The Unstoppable Swarm 5147 0 0 16. Defenders of Kalimdor 7014 0 0 17. Fateful Convergence 7059 0 0 18. The Price of Rage 7434 0 0 19. Trial of the Tiger 6584 0 0 20. Hyjal 11127 0 0 21. Kalimdor's Might 10482 0 0 22. The Temple of Ahn'Qiraj 8360 0 0 23. Strangers in a Strange Land 9569 0 0 24. The Final Verdict 8229 0 0