Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Icecrown Awaits

Elionene urged her hippogryph quickly down towards the shadowed rampart. Beneath her swarmed masses of undead, frenzied ghouls, giant bone skeletons, and other ilk. Around her flew the silent sentinels, Frostwyrms, their bony wings keeping them aloft with the dark magic of necromancy. She carefully kept out of their sight as she directed her mount closer to the structure. As they neared, the hippogryh stretched her wings out and up, slowing their descent, and landed with a mild clatter of claw and hoof on the fortress.

The rampart was deserted. There were no entrances or exits on this part of the citadel, and thus nothing to guard, but it proved a good vantage point for the chaos below. The multitudes of mindless scourge seethed back and forth across Icecrown glacier. It was an ocean of undead, waiting for the moment in which they would be released on the world. Elionene hated to admit it, but Tirion had been right. No large force of soldiers could make it through this. They would be dead, risen, and fighting their own in seconds, adding to the already vast sea of monsters. A smaller force, one that could skirt past the outer defenses as she just had, was their best shot at getting inside, and confronting the Lich King once and for all.

Elionene quietly dismounted from the hippogryph and made her way to a secluded area of the rampart that overlooked the Court of Bones. From this area she could see that the gates into the fortress were still fastened tightly shut, with no apparent way of entry. That would soon change. The entire structure was made out of saronite. Cursed ore, formed from the blood of Yogg-Saron. The Old God now lay dead in Ulduar, but his evil presence was still felt everywhere in Icecrown. Elionene did not think it a coincidence that the stronghold of the Lich King and the Scourge was formed from the life essence of the Old God of death.

Tirion Fordring's tournament had proven fruitful, and now both the Alliance and the Horde were forming small teams to infiltrate Icecrown. A way in had been discovered. Elionene wasn't sure by who, but she did know that tonight, Jaina Proudmoore herself would be leading people into the underbelly of Icecrown, to seek out secrets that might aid them in the destruction of Arthas, and the Scourge. From there it was only a matter of time before they cracked the main door open.

Veritas had been recognized for their prowess and victory in the Crusader Coliseum week after week. Tonight, Elionene had called a rally of the guild to brief them on their mission, and the hope that they would be bringing not only to themselves, but to all of life on Azeroth. Elio peered around at the empty rampart. The location would do nicely for an inspiring speech and give a good view of what exactly they were facing as well. All throughout their time in Northrend, the Lich King had taunted them, goaded them, encouraged them to seek him out in his fortress. And now they had come.

And this time, Elionene would be the one laughing.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Gun

Elionene walked calmly through the streets of Darnassus, keeping a careful eye out for any familiar faces. She passed the large entrance pavilion and found herself in the front courtyard that opened out to the rest of Teldrassil. A few young travelers and various merchants and adventurers walked and relaxed in the area, but the sun was setting low on the horizon and the courtyard was beginning to empty. Seeing no one she recognized, and with the population lessening by the minute, Elionene gave a quiet sigh and set down her pack on the ground along with her bow and quiver.

Lethan, who had been following his master, found a place to preen himself on a nearby tree. But his keen senses told him something was different, and that his master was troubled. He picked at a tail feather while awaiting what was to happen next.

Reaching into her pack, Elionene pulled out a large metallic contraption. It had the odd characteristic of appearing at once ancient and yet also strangely modern in design. The body of the device was large and cylindrical and was a metallic silver color. From the back of this cylinder protruded a wood stock handle with a metal grip. Beneath it was a trigger mechanism. It was a gun. A lone antenna protruded straight up, and glowed a slight blue, it's purpose unkown to Elionene. She hefted the gun up to her shoulder and took a look down the barrel. All the while frowning.

An annoyed screech sounded from Lethan, the glare of the setting sun off the metallic object bothering him. Whatever the device was, he did not like the look of it. He shuffled a bit on the branch to avoid the glare, and was then distracted by a rodent's movement in the nearby grass. Lethan dove at the spot, hoping for an evening snack.

Elionene set the gun down by her bow and then removed a small box of bullets from her pack. She had bought them in Ironforge just moments ago before taking a portal to Darnassus. Though she wouldn't admit it, she was embarrased about her predicament and didn't wish to be seen purchasing ammunition instead of arrows. She carefully loaded the gun and looked at her bow one last time. Truth be told, it was not a pretty bow. But at least it was finely made and sent arrows straighter than ever before.

Lethan emerged from the grasses, clicking his beak happily, savoring his snack. His master was distraught. Over what he did not know. Certainly she couldn't be considering using that strange contraption? They had been companions for many adventures. Never once had he seen her with something so inelegant and clunky. Lethan took to the air and started towards Elionene.

Elionene recalled happening upon the gun within the volumnous halls of Ulduar. After a fierce and long battle with the Furnace Master, they had raided Ignis' cache of weapons and the gun had been discovered. It seemed to radiate a great power, but no other member of the party deemed it worth their time. Elionene had hesitated slightly, but she could not see an item of such usefulness go to waste. So she had taken the gun, and now she found herself here, in the courtyard of Darnassus, with a loaded gun and a row of target dummies.

Lethan saw his master raise the loaded weapon once more to her shoulder. She alligned the sights and put her finger on the trigger and began to slowly pull.

Elionene cautiously tested the spring in the trigger, pulling back to find the exact spot it would trigger the explosion. She aimed for the head of one of the dummies, and pulled back a little more.

Just as he was nearing Elionene, the gun fired, and Lethan startled. The antenna glowed an intense blue and then white as the explosion rocked Elionene back and sent Lethan into a fit of screeching and flapping.

Her ears ringing, Elionene dropped the gun from her shoulder. It had been louder than she had thought it would be, but she had withstood the recoil. Glancing at the target dummy, her eyes widened. She had laid her sights on the dummy's head. Now the dummy had no head. In fact, the head was no where to be seen. Instead, there was just splintered wood and straw lying around the base of the apparatus.

Lethan continue to screech and flap, complaining at the loud sound. Elionene turned towards him and gave a half smile. Calming himself, Lethan tilted his head to the side in a curious matter. Why in the world was she smiling?

Elionene began to repack her things, placing the gun and ammunition carefully back into her bag. She smiled again at Lethan, who now looked completely confused. She could understand. She wasn't sure why she was smiling herself. The gun, with it's highly explosive energy and cacophonous noise was simply uncivilized. But the result of its use was immensely satisfying. She decided to reserve the gun for special occasions. The extra fire power would certainly come in handy on her more dangerous adventures.

Not at all very happy about this evening's activities, Lethan followed his master once more as they set off for the boat to Stormwind. The sun set behind the two over the bows of Teldrassil casting long shadows before them. Elionene maintained the same half smile as she walked, and Lethan fussed horribly when he noticed that in his flapping, he had gotten his tailfeathers out of place again.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Silencing the Shade

We gathered at the base of the Ivory Tower, the full moon casting a luminous glow on the walls and creating eerie shadows upon the ground. For many years, Medivh’s secrets had been locked up tight inside Karazhan, but in the last year, the Kirin Tor mages have succeeded in entering the ancient place to plunder its knowledge. They could not do it alone, however, and they rewarded well those who would venture into the place and rid it of the spirits and ghosts that haunt the hallways.

And that is what brought us together tonight, members of the Order of Veritas, a loose organization of treasure seekers, scholars, and adventurers. Some were here for gold and glory. Others were hoping to prove themselves to the Mages, and not a few of us had hopes of scouring the Guardian’s extensive library for knowledge. But if we were to achieve our hopes, then we would need to battle through the specters. It was known to all that a demonic presence had taken residence at the top of the tower. Images of the tower’s past residents took offense to unwelcomed guests, and even though ghosts they may be, they defended their home with deadly force.

Many of us had been here before. Even when vanquished, the ghosts would find a way to return, causing much frustration to the Kirin Tor who wished to be able to study the building without paying adventurers to continue clearing the threats inside. Tonight was different though. There was a particular ghost that was haunting the section of the library that the mages had long suspected held Medivh’s greatest knowledge. The ghost of Medivh’s father Nielas Aran, who had died many years ago. How he found his way to the tower, no one could say. Even as a shade, he was in torment, and swiftly attacked all who came close the library doors.

After conversing with the mages, we made our way inside and began to make our way up the tower. Our party was made up of priests, paladins, and druids, a rogue, a mage, and even a shaman from the Draenei. I was the lone hunter. Lethan flew next to me, agitated as ever. Feeding him some meat from my pack to cheer him up, we pressed into the tower, eager to get to the library as quickly as possible.

The battles were quick and fierce. We wasted no time in dispatching the ghosts as we made our way through the ballroom and into the opera house. How this tower was able to house these expansive rooms, I cannot say. Perhaps some magic of the Master himself that still lingered on the building. Even in death, rows of ghosts reenacted their lives as they watched a play. The spectral actors however, decidedly disliked our presence on their stage, and we were forced to dispatch them. And their little dog too.

Continuing on through the now dilapidated gallery, we were nearly to our goal. Until now, the Shade of Aran had not been silenced. Some had tried, but they often found themselves nursing wounds and seeking the aid of priests. In life, Aran had been the court conjurer of the King of Stormwind, and a mage of the Kirin Tor, powerful in his own right. It seems he carried his extensive magical abilities with him, even in death.

At long last we approached the door to the inner chamber of the Guardian’s Library. Before even opening it we could hear the Shade ranting about his son and the torment he was in. He only wished for the nightmare to end. I suppose then that we were here to give him his wish.

We made our preparations and discussed the strategy with which we were to silence Aran. When everyone was ready, we burst through the door and spread out around the circular room.

“Who are you? What do you want?! Stay away from me!” yelled the ghost. Unfortunately, we could not do that.

The druids swiftly entered cat form, and along with the rogue, swiftly fell to swiping and cutting at the specter with claws and blades. I sent Lethan in screeching and clawing as I pulled the bow from my back and began swiftly firing arrows. Aran, like a madman began throwing all sorts of magic at us. Firebolts, frostbolts, and missiles of arcane energy flew around the room, slamming with powerful force into their targets. Our healers kept us alive, washing away the burns both hot and cold with the grace of the Light.

Without warning, Aran threw up his arms and screamed, “Burn you hellish fiends!” as wreathes of flame encircled a few of us. Having discussed strategy with past raiders of the tower we knew not to move, fearing the explosion that would occur if we did so. Having safely survived the Flame Wreath, we continued to assault the ghost, who was proving very resilient in the wake of our attack. He continued to bombard us with spells of every sort, even causing the room to fill with a debilitating blizzard. Through careful positioning we were able to avoid the brunt of the storm, but we were fatiguing, and Aran seemed more powerful than ever.

In an instant, the ten of us were sucked into the middle of the room next to Aran, and I felt as though I had blocks of stone tied to my feet as I rushed to get away from the mage. “I am not a simple Jester! I am Nielas Aran!” said the mad ghost. Eager to avoid whatever attack he had planned, I made my way to the edge of the room, but Lethan in his eagerness to kill the shade did not make it out of the explosion that occurred next. He fell to the ground, a crumpled pile of feathers. I rushed to his aid and began to use my abilities to mend him, but it was then that the Shade of Aran set his eyes on me and pummeled me with arcane energy. Soon I lay on the ground next to Lethan. Unable to lift myself up off the floor, I watched as the battle raged on.

Our quick thinking leader, a wise and strong Druid, threw a seed in my direction which landed on my body, sprouting with energy and life. Feeling reinvigorated and infused with the thought of my home in Ashenvale, I was able to rise once more and join the fight. Weakening further, Aran had called on four water elementals to defend him, but they were quickly taken down by our skilled team. I finally found a moment to revive Lethan until the healers took over, once again renewing our vitality.

It was not long before we were victorious, the Shade of Aran’s last exclamation of “At last the nightmare is over…” echoing in my ears. The battle had been long and arduous, but our triumph had paved the way for the Kirin Tor to study the rich works and tomes to be found in this library. I looked around at my fellow adventurers and scholars. Surely the mages would not notice if we took a few of the books back to our Order for study? We probably didn’t even need to ask.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Tougher than I thought

Together with four of my closest companions, I walked into the slave pens beneath Serpent Lake and met with a representative of the Earthen Ring who was aiding adventurers in the battle against the Twilight Hammer cult. We prepared ourselves with the many provisions that we had brought and made our way down the corridor. The cavern, usually humid and muggy from the plethora of flora and fauna growing within, was instead a dank cold causing us to shiver as we pressed our way forward.

Before long we approached a large runic summoning stone, set in ice. The Shaman of the Ring were waiting for us here as well, providing a fire totem to help melt the defenses of the Ice Lord, Ahune. Many adventurers were seeking to assist, and many had been turned away, beaten and defeated. I silently prayed for Elune's favor as we set in motion the beginnings of an epic battle.

Alas, this day would not bring us victory.

Upon the melting of the icy stone Ahune burst forth from the frozen earth, a horrific being of cold and wind. Immediately we were beset on all sides by his minions of rock, air, and ice. We began to lay waste to the elementals, unable to attack Ahune directly while the Shaman used their knowledge of fire to send Ahune back to his vulnerable core state. Fierce bolts of ice struck without warning from the ground, tossing us aside as we struggle to keep focus. We fought long and hard, utilizing all of our skills and tricks picked up in our many fights. At times the battle would sway in our favor, and we could sense the Ice Lord weakening as we attacked his central being. But to our astonishment, he regenerated his defenses, and once more we found ourselves inundated with elementals.

Five times we would assault this fiend. And five times we were forced to retreat, regroup, and begin the attack anew. In the end, we could not muster the strength to defeat him. Sore and disheartened, we retreated out of the reservoir, making way for other brave adventurers to assist the Earthen Ring in their attempt to stop an elemental war. Perhaps Elune's blessing will be with them.

I must trust others to do the work where we failed, as the Crack of Dawn sets its sights on other challenges. We have been called to Honor Hold by Danath Trollbane to assist in the assault upon Hellfire Citadel. They are eager to put more pressure on the Fel Orcs who inhabit the dread fortress, and apparently the success of our ventures into the Steamvault and the Shadow Labyrinth has not gone unnoticed. I only hope the word of our defeat to the Ice Lord has not changed his opinion.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fire and Ice

The Fire Festival is in full swing. People from every land have set out to honor the flames of the various Alliance held territories and towns in honor of the season. It is a celebration to be sure, though the festival does have its fair share of fire related mishaps and injuries. The Sisters at the Temple of the Moon have their hands full healing victims of burns from the recreational activity of "torch catching." Among all the merrymaking and pilgrimages however, looms a deeper secret, something that has only recently surfaced.

It started with a report of unusual activity along the Zoram Strand back in my former home of Ashenvale. At one time the beach was the site of a majestic Kal'dorei temple which was devoid of the evil Naga and cultists that linger amidst the ruins today. The temple had fallen during the great sundering of our world and has since been defiled by the Twilight's Hammer, who use the once sacred place as a summoning ground for their dark gods. The Earthen Ring, an organization of Shaman across factions, very similar in nature to the Cenarion Circle, was the first to discover that the cultists among the Zoram Strand showed signs of increased activity. These Shaman were much involved in the organization of the Fire Festival across the world, so it was fitting that they used this opportunity to spread word of the cultists to the adventurers and pilgrims that came to honor the fires.

Having recently finished my work for the denizens of Lower City, I took it upon myself to look for clues along the Zoram Strand as to what exactly these cultists were up to. As the area is often used as a proving ground for up and coming Night Elf warriors and priestesses, I asked my cousin Driya to accompany me. Driya is the niece of Salthier's wife, Lal. While that may mean we have no blood ties, we became fast friends when we met, and she was recently inducted into the Order of Veritas along with her Aunt and Uncle. Together we scouted the strand, and before long we discovered a lone cultist patrolling the outer border of a fallen building.

I raised a finger to my lips to signify silence to Driya as we approached the cultist from behind. He was an orc with dark green skin and a perpetual scowl on his tusked face. He seemed to be fiddling with a note in his hands and did not see us before it was too late. Acting quickly, I sent Lethan ahead of the orc to distract him. With a screeching wail, Lethan dived in front of the cultist and spooked him. Just as the Orc began to call for help, Driya silenced him with a spell, and I jumped on him with my spear pressed to his throat.

"You cannot call for help, cultist," I said. "Tell me why you have began to gather here, and I may spare your life." His eyes lit up in rage, and his mouth moved as if to curse and grunt, but no sound came from him. Looking to the priestess I said, "Driya, if you please." With a flick of her wrist Driya released the hold on the Orc's voice, and guttural cries broke forth from the beast.

"...you nothing, witch. Release me, and prepare to face the wrath of the old gods!" he growled.

Unwilling to release him, I pressed my spear harder down on his neck, choking off his air supply. He began to turn a darker green in color, unable to breath, and after a second I eased the pressure. Seizing the opening, the cultist bucked wildly and threw me to the side, my strength unable to match that of the orc. Immediately he jumped up and released a shadow bolt directly at me. Driya countered the bolt by casting a divine shield around me. Seeing that he was outmatched, the cultist began to run toward his camp. My reflexes took over, and in a moment's time an arrow was notched and loosed from my bow, finding its way deep into the fleeing orc's back. He fell to the ground dead where he lay, the note still clutched in his meaty paw.

Driya and I approached the body, and I kneeled down and took the note. After reading it, Driya could see the shock on my face. "What does it say, Elio?" she asked.

"They are serving Neptulon, the elemental Lord of Water. And through him they are seeking to summon an ice elemental to battle Ragnaros, the Fire Lord. It is unfathomable that they would seek to cause an elemental war. What end they are seeking, I do not know."

Preparing a beacon, we called to the Earthen Ring and reported our findings. In turn, they asked us to scout out a meeting that the note spoke of. But to do so, we would need disguises. Taking an orb of transformation, Driya and I found ourselves in the guise of ocean crabs, similar to the many varied species found along the strand. We scuttled our way to the clandestine meeting and eavesdropped as a band of Naga in the service of Neptulon, sought the help of the cultists in summoning the Ice Lord, Ahune.

"Curse those foul snake skins!" I swore. It came out more of a "hiss, click, clack," but Driya understood the sentiment. After all of our work in scouring the reservoir in Zangarmarsh, now the Naga were using those caverns to usher in an elemental disaster. We quickly scuttled away, and regaining our true forms, reported our findings to the Ring.

"There is no choice," the Shaman said, "We must ask you to gather warriors of the highest caliber and seek out this Ahune. We will await you there to assist in whatever manner we can. He must not be allowed to start this war. The consequences to the world at large and the balance of nature would be catastrophic."

Driya was too young and inexperienced to battle the Ice Lord, but there was work for her to do against his minions in Desolace. It seems that the cultists' work was wide spread across the the continent. With my goal before me, I knew exactly who to turn to for help. People who I trusted, and who I could count on to destroy this menace. Ahune's time is at hand. He will melt before the Crack of Dawn.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Crack of Dawn

After many months of working for the Cenarion Expedition, the druids have deemed my efforts worthy of an exalted status within their ranks. In my efforts to please Ysiel and the rest of the expedition, I had put together a team of adventurers who dedicated every weekend morning to scouring the Coilfang Reservoir and ridding it of Naga filth. At times it seemed that our work was in vain, as the Naga fell before our weapons and spells in droves, but there were always more to replace the fallen. In the end we could not eradicate the threat entirely, but we had caused enough damage to weaken their efforts to control the water supply within the marsh.

Our last foray into the caverns far beneath the waters of Serpent Lake was both our most valuable and dangerous journey to date. We met, the five of us, as we usually did beneath the waters in the entrance to the cavern. Irinna, the Draenei Frost Mage, quick of wit and of tongue. The stoic Druid, Lochiel, who draws heavily on the Spirit of the Bear to attack his foes. Ehrengar, the Holy Dwarven Paladin, keeping both our minds and bodies healed with his skill and his mirth. Lasmirria, fellow Night Elf hunter commanding her cat Mercury. And myself, along with the ever faithful Lethan, my companion since I started down the path of a hunter.

Over the months we had learned to know the methods of each other so well that we could often signal each other without words in the thick of battle. This early morning we were determined to make our final push into the area known as the Steamvault where we had been at work for some time. The large area was full of pipes and vents of Naga and perhaps goblin design, all of it pumping water away from the flora and fauna dying up in the marsh above. Having made our preparations, we set foot into the cavern, and began the advance on its denizens.

After many skirmishes across the vault with Naga of every shape and size, we had at last made our way to a room sealed off by a heavy door. Whatever lay behind it must hold some secret to this place, something that the Cenarion Expedition would surely find useful in their ongoing battle. Several of the higher ranking Naga in the cavern had been guarding machines which seemed to act as locking mechanisms, and once the Naga, and the machines had been disabled, the way forward lay open to us.

We cautiously made our way inside, dispatching the snake like Myrmidons and other hideous Naga casters methodically. They did not hold back in their assault on us, and we gave no quarter to those that dared to attack. Deep within the room a lone Naga stood, Warlord Kalithresh, surrounded by tanks of some fluid. It appeared to be water, but I highly doubted the contents were as benign as that. Having made our way past the guards, the serpentine visage stared at us with glowing red eyes and exclaimed, “You deem yourselves worthy simply because you bested my guards? Our work here will not be compromised!”

Lochiel, seizing the opportune moment, rushed the warlord, transforming into a mighty bear and swiping at the Naga with a heavily clawed paw. Kalithresh parried with his trident, hissing with vehemence, for the moment his attention on the bear. The group spread out, quickly analyzing the snake man for weaknesses. Surely this would be an easy battle with five of us facing the one. Irinna began to conjure up a bolt of ice as Lasmirria and I both sent our pets into the thick of battle next to Lochiel. In tandem we notched arrows in our bows and sent them rocketing towards the snake. Ehrengar’s attention was upon Lochiel, quickly healing any wounds inflicted by the Naga.

“Ba’anthalso-dorei!” screamed Kalithresh in the evil Naga tongue. His many wounds from our onslaught taking their toll. Surprised as I was by the beating that he could take, he was almost certainly defeated. But even as his life bled from him, his sinister smirk did not fade. Without warning, the Naga rushed towards one of the tanks nearest him. “This is not nearly over…” he muttered, and began to cast a spell upon the tank. I realized what was happening too late. Giving off a red glow, he began to grow in size as the water was channeled out of the tank and into the Naga. With renewed strength and vigor, he shook off the attacks of the pets and went fully for Lochiel, causing a near mortal blow. The efforts of Ehrengar saved the bear with a timely blessing, and we continued the assault, but our attacks now seemed useless.

“We cannot let him use the power of those tanks again!” I exclaimed to my companions, knowing that they would hear and understand even in the confusion of our fight. After some time, the effects of the liquid seemed to lessen upon the warlord and he made his way to another of the tanks within his room. I yelled, “Now!” I turned my bow on the tank and fired a heavily tipped arrow, which cracked into the glass of the tank, but left only a scratch. The warlord began to channel for more strength as he had before, leaving us only a few seconds to drain the tank. Seeing a need, Irinna quickly tossed a bolt of frost at the tank, freezing it. Lasmirria directed Mercury towards the tank and at the same time loosed an arrow in that direction. The powerful cat’s claws came down on the tank from one side as the arrow broke into the frozen glass on the other, and the water spilled to the floor just as Kalithresh was finishing his spell. His constant smirk began to disappear.

Invigorated by our accomplishments, we renewed our attack. Without his ability to power himself, the Warlord began to panic, running towards the nearest tank. With a ferocious roar, Lochiel charged the snake and blocked his progress. His power drained and with no where to go, the Naga frantically tried to fend off the bear, but to no avail. Finally, his scaly skin riddled with arrows and covered in muck and blood, Warlord Kalithresh dropped his trident and writhed on the ground gasping his last words.

“For her Excellency…for...Vashj!”

The leader of the Steamvault lay dead at our feet. Our prize for killing him, the knowledge of an even darker threat further within the cavern. The five of us alone could not hope to fight the sorceress. We would need help.

Dirty and smelling of fish and filth, we returned to the surface just as the sun was cresting the horizon. We wearily made our way back to the Cenarion Expedition’s base in the marsh and reported our findings to Ysiel and the druids. Though the knowledge of what lay ahead was dire, we were lauded for our efforts. Lochiel and myself, who had longest served the Expedition within the caverns were given exalted status within the ranks of the Expedition, the highest attainable. And though we had accomplished much, I still knew that the evil of the Naga had not been completely eradicated. Not as long as Vashj lived.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Friends of the Family

I have been steadily at work for the Cenarion Expedition for several months now. Each foray into the Coilfang Resevoir provides new clues and new information for the druids, and they have rewarded me greatly for my service to them. My work is far from done, so I will continue to fight the Naga at their home base and prevent them from furthering their destruction in other lands.

In a rare moment between strategizing and materials gathering, I found myself back in Azeroth to visit my mother in the Temple of Elune. An able priestess, she was always to be found in the Temple, often praying for me and others close to our family as we ventured into the world, never ceasing in her duty to Tyrande and our people. It was during this visit that I was greeted with a most welcome surprise. After meeting my mother, we walked to her home on the edge of the city where she had guests.

"Uncle Salthier!" I exclaimed.

His long forest green hair was pulled up into a ponytail and swayed as he laughed and smiled at my appearance. There was much joy in his amber glowing eyes as we embraced in a friendly manner. It had been many years since I had last seen Salthier. He was not actually my uncle, but he had been a friend of my father for many, many years, and I had grown to address him as such. Though he looked of modest age with his smooth features and a full beard, he was actually much, much older. Both he and my father had fought at Mt. Hyjal, but where my father had drawn upon the powers of nature as a Druid, Salthier was more well versed in physical combat. He had never shown the aptitude for druidism that most of the male Night Elves had, and had instead taken the path of a warrior. Salthier had been with my father when he fell to the legion, and was the one to let my family know of our loss. He then helped us relocate to Teldrassil, but soon after that he went on a journey to the other side of the world, and I have not seen him until this moment.

"Well then, how is little Elio' doing these days? I hear you have become quite the huntress," he remarked with a sparkle in his eye. I gave him a proud look in return, surprised that he had heard of my small exploits in the world.

"Yes, Uncle, I am doing my best to serve the Circle and their expedtion in Outland. The Naga have even spread into other lands to sow their corruption. Anything I can do to slow it is worth it."

His face became a little more serious at the mention of the Naga. None of us had forgotten where the Naga had come from, or of the past sins of the Kal'dorei.

"Yes, yes, well it is for that and other reasons that I have come to visit you and your mother, Elionene. But first, some good news!"

Salthier went outside and called to a pretty Night Elf priestess who was admiring the flowers in my mother's garden. She had long bluish hair, similar to mine, but her face was more mature and did not have any markings upon it. She wore a simple, hand crafted dress of blue and white that flowed gracefully around her as she walked our direction.

"Elionene, I would like you to meet Lal, my life-mate," said Salthier proudly as Lal reached us.

Lal directed her silver eyes at me and said, "Elune-Adore, Elionene. It is an honor to meet you and your family. Salthier speaks of you and your parents quite highly."

"Ishnu'alah, Lal. It is also my honor to meet you," I replied. Salthier stood by and smiled a larger smile than I have ever seen on his face. It made me happy to see them together. Truly it was a match made by Elune.

We retired back to the sitting room, and Salthier began to relate the story of the last few years to us, bringing us up to speed on his arrival in Darnassus.

"After I had helped you to move to this place, I returned the now empty battlefield and found myself lacking. Yes, we had won the war, but at such a cost! Our long lives now shortened and many friends lost to eternity, including your father. For many years I fought and trained as a warrior, but it was not the warriors that won that day for us. It was the druids like your father who led the assault and who called upon the spirit of the world itself to fight against the Burning Legion. I have often longed to learn the druidic ways, but I was never able to adapt to them as well as the others, as well as your father. I decided then to travel, to see what this new alliance had wrought and to learn more of our new friends, the humans.

"A few years passed, and I eventually found myself in the land of Azshara, the buildings now in ruins. I lay down to sleep in an ancient shrine, and in my dreams, a voice spoke to me. It was warm voice, a comforting voice, deep and rich in tone. It said to me that my desire to serve Cenarius even as a warrior had not gone by unnoticed. I was to return to Teldrassil, and seek my calling there. Upon waking, I felt a great peace, as if my wanderings and learnings had been for this purpose alone. When I arrived back in Rut'theran Village, Lal was waiting for me. We had been friends when we were younger, many years ago, and I was quite surprised to see her standing on the boat dock. She had been prompted as I had, in a dream. She had recently began her studies to become a priestess in service to the Mother Moon, and the voice of Elune had prompted her to await my coming.

"We soon became life-mates and now we are continuing our studies in earnest, she with the Temple, and myself with the Cenarion Circle. It is through the Circle that I heard of your many accomplishments, Elionene, and I decided it was high time I visited you and your mother once again."

I sat wide eyed, mouth open, as Salthier related his story to us. It appeared as if Cenarius himself had spoken from the Emerald Dream to my uncle.

Salthier continued, "Yes, it has not been easy learning the ways of a Druid, but whatever had kept me from truly learning it before, has vanished. I find it easier to translate my training as a warrior by calling upon the spirit of the bear, but I am slowly learning the other, more subtle nuances of the path."

"I am so happy for you, Uncle. Elune has truly blessed you and Lal. I wish you well in your journey together, wherever it takes you."

It was now a late hour, and Salthier and Lal had business at the temple. I also had to get rested for the coming expeditions into the Naga strongholds in Zangarmarsh. We said our farewells and went our seperate ways for the night. I was awed at Salthier's transformation, and knew that Elune had sent Lal to him to help guide his journey from warrior to druid. I was also certain that our paths would cross again.

And probably sooner than I expected.