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[Added to Timeline] The Road Less Traveled [Vel/Gil]

"Arkha'din. If you don't stay still, I'm not going to be able to get it."

An irritated hiss met the elf's even tone as the mana wyrm once again squirmed, his sinuous body tightening around her forearm as the mage attempted to get a better look at cavity behind the frills that adorned his head. Her eyes narrowed as she finally got a firm enough grip on the wriggling serpent, honing in on the abnormality that had lodged itself in the sensitive area.

"If you can just stay like that for a second."

Still cupping his head in her hands, Velameestra pushed the frill forward with her thumb so that she could swipe a slender finger behind it, successfully dislodging the thick pine needle that had somehow managed to to get wedged into the sensitive skin. The mana wyrm promptly stilled, the source of his irritation removed, and he offered a grateful click as he dropped down into his Mistress's lap, rolling over to expose the less-protected skin of his throat.

Vel sighed.

"Honestly, you made it sound like you were dying."

There was a pause, which was simply followed by a scoff from the mage.

"No you weren't."

Movement in the corner of her eye caught the mage's attention, she she briefly glanced over to acknowledge it. Ordinarily, her brother's movements were acknowledged and simply forgotten. However, the distinct difference in the colors he had taken to wearing left her focusing on it more than she otherwise would have.

He no longer wore the multi-hued forest green of the Farstriders. Much of his traveling attire had been replaced with much warmer hues. Still natural enough to not stand out in the foliage, but distinctly different from the expectation she had grown to have.

In the grand scheme of things, it ultimately didn't matter. If it had, she would have likely cornered her brother about it as soon as the opportunity arose.

But, in the quiet of the evening before the first watch took over, in the middle of the wilderness, it was much more forgiving to pursue idle curiosity.

"Gil," she said, turning her eyes down to Arkha'din again as she began to carefully running her fingers along his throat--poking around for any other abnormalities on the creature he had failed to alert her to.

"You changed your armor."

Gil had been moving around the camp double checking for tracks or any hidden assassins. He took the opportunity right before the watches started to carefully comb the immediate area to give some peace of mind to those about to turn in for the night.

Gil, you changed your armor.'

He stopped and walked back towards his sister. "Yeah I did. I left the Farstriders so I really shouldn't be wearing their uniform."

He stopped in front of her. He gave her a weak smile before he continued "I assume you'll want the full story behind that?"

Vel blinked at the bluntness of the statement, taking a moment to process what her brother had just said.

Left... the Farstriders... , she repeated mentally, the systematic motions along Arkha'din's scales ceasing momentarily.

Her eyes flickered up to the other elf.

"I'm listening."

He shrank slightly under his sister’s gaze. “Aunt Sylvanas really grilled into me about what I wanted. About my goals for my life, I told her what I really wanted. She helped me see that while possible to achieve that from within the Farstriders it would be much more difficult.”

He stopped meeting his sister’s eyes to make sure she understood he was being genuine and serious with her. “If I am going to help to erase hatred between races I can’t belong to an organization that’s for the sole protection of one of them. Everything I would do would be tinted with that bias wether or not I acted on it.”

He paused as Ara’Shel caught up to him smashing into the back of his legs almost hard enough to knock him over. He bent down and scooped up the small creature before he continued.

“I didn’t make this choice on a whim either Vel. I spoke to Ann’da about it as well as Aunt Sylvanas. I know I’m starting over from scratch, but now I can build something myself. I can create what I want to see without owing anyone or anything.”

The mage remained silent for a long moment, her tongue silently flicking along the back of her teeth as she parsed through what her brother said.

It... makes sense. For him.

But why now?

Why at the start of a war?

We have three millennia to pursue our goals.

We're going to war.

Your people need you too.

Erase hatred. You say that when our aunts are fighting for their lives against a race that is slaughtering our people. Uncle Sylvos is dead.

You don't have a name. You don't have resources beyond our family. And the dragons, I suppose. Why. Jump. Now?

There were subtle indicators that the woman was rapidly thinking. Her eyes flickered ever-so-slightly from point to point, simultaneously focusing on everything and nothing as a series of thoughts and questions ran through her mind.

Finally, she spoke, her tone even and holding more a tone of genuine curiosity than aggression.

"Why now?" she asked. "Why at the start of a war? Perhaps it couldn't have been achieved remaining with the Farstriders forever. But. Resources could have been gathered. A platform created. A name earned. Much easier before cutting ties. I don't imagine that, with transparency, Aunt Sylvanas would have rebuked you opting to support your people in their time of need, but then leaving in the end."

Gilveradin watched his sister’s gears turn with equal parts dread and curiosity. He was ready for her to be angry, especially after the conversation they had only a few weeks ago in Dalaran. He wasn’t ready for her to try to understand.

He choked down the dread and spoke calmly. “Aunt Sylvanas made me choose which path I would take before we left Last Crossing.” The corner of his mouth turned up. “If I didn’t know any better I’d say that she was pushing me to make this choice.”

He softly chuckled “The timing isn’t ideal in the slightest. I hadn’t even considered ever leaving the Farstriders until Aunt Sylvanas brought the idea to me. She gave me a day to decide and she definitely already knew what I was going to say. She had severance pay ready for me.”

An eyebrow raised.

"And did you even offer the idea? From the sounds of it, she needed to know what you wanted to do with your life in the end. Not necessarily that she was demanding you up and quit in that moment. I perhaps don't know Aunt Sylvanas as well as you do, but from what I have been able to glean, she wouldn't have turned away continued support even if there was an intent to leave in the future. Sometimes people just need to know where your motivations lie."

There was a sigh, and Vel gave Arkha'din a gentle nudge to encourage him to slither off her lap. He did so with a croak of discontent, but ultimately allowed his Mistress to rise back to her feet.

"Ultimately... what's done is done. It's rather pointless to berate you with unexplored options. It's not like I can account for everything either and I have... plenty... of other things to worry about."

She crossed her arms, her weight shifting heavily to one foot as she looked up at her brother.

"But, that does bode the question of what you're going to do now. You need resources. You need networking, if this is actually what you want to do. For as nice as unrestricted freedom is, it has its own limitations, and severance pay won't last very long. Perhaps you're more optimistic than I am, but any... controversial changes tend to come with certain prerequisites. And... I have not gone into any of our more recent pursuits with the expectation of payment in the end. Particularly not now given those resources are just going to become more sparse."

Gil nodded as Ara’Shel himself yawned and attempted to burrow into his master’s arms. “I don’t think things will just fall into place of their own accord. As we move through different areas I’m going to attempt to meet people, work with other organizations to see how they function and build goodwill. Not to mention find others who share a similar mindset to myself.”

He frowned to himself mostly. “I also understand that people will not like what I want to do. I’ve experienced personally that animosity already for that very reason. This isn’t an overnight thing but something I intend to work on for a very very long time.”

"...have you tried Finnall?"

The question came with a matter-of-fact tone.

Gil actually laughed at that. "I asked her about how she formed her organization, she also offered me a place in the Aurum Blades. I declined because I was already on the mission for King Arthas, meaning I wouldn't do her much good as one of her members if I'm doing work for free. The door is always open however and I suspect I may take it for a time. It will be good to earn money and with as well traveled as her group is I'll be able to meet lots of people."

His head tilted ever so slightly. "You're taking this much better than I thought you might however. Not sure if it's because you trust me or if there's just so many other things of actual concern you can't dedicate much emotion to this."

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