[Alliance] Chapter Four: Session Five

Appearing Characters: Alleria Windrunner, Aramar Thorne, Astalor Bloodsworn, Asya, Broll Bearmantle, Elissa Cross, Gonk, Kael'thas Sunstrider, Kel'Thuzad, Loti, Makasa Flintwill, Raava, Rai, Remnii, Riff, Rommath Pyrewing, Ruya, Samaara, Seria, Syeori Sunwalker, Tae'shara Sunwatcher, Tansu, Tol'vas Moonshadow, Uther Menethil, Velameestra Windrunner, Vol'jin, Wulf, Yenniku

May 29th

Remnii had trained her eyes on Vel upon them all seeing "Gil", who was wide eyed for a moment, but then her eyes narrowed as she came to the realization it wasn’t actually Gil.

Elissa Cross says: That. That was Gil wasn’t it??
Velameestra Windrunner says: No. It wasn’t.
Remnii says: But, it has to be someone that knows him, right?
Velameestra Windrunner says: I have one guess.

At that moment, the announcer calls out the next match, and Uther, Tol’vas, and Aramar step out to face the massive, crystalline salt golem.

Tol’vas promptly casts bloodlust on Uther, pulling the scythe out.

Tol'vas Moonshadow says: I don’t… think this will change you but… you know what, lets find out.

Uther gets the distinct smell of fresh meat, and his focus is iron clad, and his adrenaline is pumping through his veins.

Tol’vas then lays down a bear totem, and Aramar casts bless on all of them. A glyph appears over his head, like Remnii’s, but it’s actually just an A in common.

The salt golem closes and reels back its arm in anticipation to attack them. Uther moves forward with a howl, and the golem swings its arm around, but Uther blocks the blow. He swings his hammer around and his light blasts through the golem, his eyes align with holy Light, a chunk flying off, but slat, stand, and stone flys into his face. Uther covers his face and swings again, and with another crack, another chunk is blown off. He shields his face again, blocking the salt again. He swings his hammer again, and more salt crumbles. And then Uther quickens a green-flame blade and swings a fourth time, leaving nothing but a pile of salt.

Tol'vas puts a hand on Uther’s shoulder.

Tol'vas Moonshadow says: Uther, it’s dead.
Uther Menethil says: So. It would seem.

He then lifts his hammer up and sends out a war cry. The crowd loses it, and then Tol’vas removes the bloodlust. As the group looks around, they see Tansu’s sister, Ruya, looking shocked and angry.

Tansu gets up completely shouting and screaming in triumph. She pours whatever she was drinking all in her mouth and spikes it onto the ground.

The three champions are led out into the caves that would be their housing, and it seems this fight was the final one of the evening.

Tansu says [centaur]: We sure made a good decision when we convinced you to let us borrow them. Zyein’s gaze is upon me tonight!

She grabs another drink, and all the girls are given drinks as well. Remnii takes a courtesy sip. It’s very strong.

Tansu says [centaur]: There is still plenty of celebration to go around!

Tansu goes off and Asya approaches the group.

Asya says: You are free to enjoy the celebration. I can translate if you need it, and if you have anything you need, I’ll be happy to help you. But, when you have the time, I would meet you by the warrior’s caverns. I would speak to you and your friends by the warriors caverns.
Remnii says: Thank you.
Velameestra Windrunner says: A question.
Asya says: Yes?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Are the warriors caverns open to us? Even those that are not ours?
Asya says: Yes. As honored guests, you are welcome to them, and they will give you any services you require.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Alright. Noted. Thank you.

The celebration is in full force. There are strange foods, wrestling, and races, as well as betting of different sorts. There is a game with an inflated, overgrown bladder, and other such things. It seems like the young centaur, both men and women, are allowed to intermingle.

Meanwhile, in the warrior caverns, one of the centaur warriors approaches the group and speaks to them, unfortunately none of them can understand. There appears to be twelve people that have been brought together into a single side cavern. Three of the individuals are Ruya’s champions, but the others are all centaur.

Ruya's champions see the group, and Not-Gil looks at Uther, but then immediately looks away.

Tol'vas Moonshadow says: Do you know them?
Uther Menethil says: A strange question. I know that face, but that face doesn’t belong on that person.

Aramar also looks and blinks.

Aramar Thorne says: Is that… Gil?
Uther Menethil says: It certainly appears to be, doesn’t it?
Aramar Thorne says: Yeah. It does. What gives? I thought he-- didn’t he get like… I know the story was he betrayed all you, but that’s ridiculous. Wasn’t he still in the Eastern Kingdoms?
Uther Menethil says: Suffice to say, circumstances that would bring him here are… so wild that the statistically probability is functionally zero.
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: Didn’t you guys arrive here through death?
Uther Menethil says: Correct!

The centaur that was speaking demands shouts at them.

Uther Menethil says: I’m not sure, but I feel like that was centaur for “shut up”.

Not-Gil looks at them and nods with a finger up to his mouth. Not-Gil speaks to his own group briefly, and the human and bear go to sit down. However, Not-Gil comes over.

Not-Gil says: Hey, you guys don’t look like the type of people who knows what they’re saying.

It’s not Gil’s voice.

Tol'vas Moonshadow says: No.
Not-Gil says: They were explaining the results. There will be two rounds tomorrow. We will be randomly pitted against each other. I’ve been picking up their language. I missed some things. I think they referenced excrement when you were talking. Something about latrines, perhaps. But. Congratulations.
Uther Menethil says: Thank you very much.

Not-Gil lingers for a second, but then turns.

Uther Menethil says: I don’t suppose you’ll be willing to tell me why you’re wearing my friend’s face?
Not-Gil says: I don’t think I know what you mean, sir. It’s been said I have a common looking face.
Uther Menethil says: Ah. The Windrunner face.
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: He does kind of look like Velameestra.
Uther Menethil says: That's because he's her twin.
Not-Gil says: I… I don’t know… look. I can explain. She’s not here, is she?
Uther Menethil says: Here in this room, absolutely not.
Not-Gil says: Oh boy. About that...

At that moment, Elissa and Vel arrive, along with Remnii.

Tol'vas Moonshadow says: You think she heard?

Not-Gil stands straight up.

Not-Gil says: Yeah... Hello.

Vel looks straight at the individual wearing her brother’s face, her arms crossed.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Hello Syeori.

Not-Gil freezes and his mouth flaps.

Syeori Sunwalker says: Shhhhh. I don’t want anyone else to know.
Velameestra Windrunner says: You should probably explain.

She quickly gathers the group aside, and her illusion is briefly dropped on her face.

Syeori Sunwalker says: Look. I can explain. Through a series of circumstances, we, um… me and the rest of the people I came here with here with. Reno and the rest. We got separated, and I tracked one of them here. Reno. He got captured. I got him out, but in the process I got found, but… I decided I wanted to stick around a bit. Especially when they showed up.

She gestures back to the human barbarian and the massive bear she had been fighting with.

Syeori Sunwalker says: I mean. Not everyday you find a human out here, so I decided to join their contest.

Vel looks at her, deadpan.

Velameestra Windrunner says: You’re… fighting in cultural blood sports. Because you thought it would be fun.
Syeori Sunwalker says: Um, yeah? This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience a ceremony of a people our people have never even seen before, let alone get to learn about! I’ve seen so much in the short time I’ve been here. Imagine the papers I’d be able to write--
Velameestra Windrunner says: And what if your hat falls off?

Syeori raises a finger.

Syeori Sunwalker says: Um… I’ll just have to make sure it doesn’t! I have it clipped on. To my hair. So, I mean, that probably wouldn’t happen.
Velameestra Windrunner says: You don’t have a backup plan?
Syeori Sunwalker says: I’ll figure it out if it happens! I mean, there’s no way we’re going to lose this. Um. Uh, well… I guess now that you guys are here, that complicates matters a bit…
Velameestra Windrunner says: And if you lose your fate is left to the winner to decide.
Syeori Sunwalker says: Yeah, well, we weren’t going to lose. But, I mean… I also don’t want you guys to die... So, I mean, not gonna lie, if someone messed up here, it’s not necessarily me.

She puts her hands out to the side, trying to deflect the blame. Vel’s eyebrow raises.

Syeori Sunwalker says: Look, it’s alright, we’ll figure it out.
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: So… why’d you pick his face?
Syeori Sunwalker says: Uh, why not? Also, nice to meet you!
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: Yeah, uh, Tol’vas.

Syeori looks Tol’vas up and down.

Syeori Sunwalker says: You’re pretty tall. You know, I never actually met another of your kind. You’re… a kaldorei, right?

Tol’vas nods.

Syeori Sunwalker says: I’ve heard about you from some of the people I’ve talked to. And I found some artifacts--or at least we have--but it’s nice to meet one of your kind! But, uh, I needed to look like a man, so why not pick one I’m rather familiar with. Besides, it’s not like I expected to run into his sister is. Which, by the way, hi Vel, it’s good to see you. Did you do something with your hair?
Velameestra Windrunner says: You could say that.

Syeori then looks at Remnii.

Syeori Sunwalker says: Also… you’re really tall too. I don’t think I’ve met a person of your kind yet.
Remnii says: You could say we’re new to the, uh… world.
Syeori Sunwalker says: Fascinating! I’d love to learn more about it. Maybe another time though, we’re a bit preoccupied.
Remnii says: Perhaps when you are not wearing Gil’s face and we are out of imminent danger.
Syeori Sunwalker says: Oh. Yeah. That’s probably a little awkward. How is Gil, by the way? Is he here too?

Everyone looks at each other.

Velameestra Windrunner says: He is… currently a fugitive for killing us.

Syeori busts out laughing.

Syeori Sunwalker says: Seriously?? What the hell happened?
Velameestra Windrunner says: It’s a long story.
Syeori Sunwalker says: Yeah, okay, if Gil is betraying everyone and killing them, it’s a story I definitely have to hear after we get out of this mess.
Velameestra Windrunner says: I suppose, one of the better possibilities…

Vel looks over to Remnii.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Is probably to talk to Tansu. I don’t know. Perhaps we can appeal to her to allow us to… buy Ruya’s champions?
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: Why don’t you just ask Tansu to buy them for you since she’s going to win because of us.
Velameestra Windrunner says: By that logic, she wouldn’t have to buy them. She could just give them to us.
Syeori Sunwalker says: Well, I mean, this is also assuming that you’re going to win.
Uther Menethil says: Did you see what happened to that salt golem?
Syeori Sunwalker says: No, actually, we were in the cave. We aren’t actually allowed to watch any of the bouts because our individual skills are supposed to be kept secret.
Velameestra Windrunner says: The alternative is that they lose, and then you’re left begging your warleader for their lives.
Syeori Sunwalker says: Ah-

Syeori thinks for a moment.

Remnii says: And also…

Remnii leans down very politely and folds her arms in front of her.

Remnii says: We need the crown prince of Lordaeron to eventually return to Lordaeron.
Syeori Sunwalker says: Wait! I have an idea, if we win, I’ll just take my hat off and show that I’m a woman! They’ll all freak out and we can have an opportunity to run away.
Velameestra Windrunner says: ...or we can do this without causing mass chaos?
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: I kind of want to win the fight.
Syeori Sunwalker says: I mean… if you’re asking me to throw the match, I’m not going to do that. This is a sacred tradition!
Velameestra Windrunner says: The traditions of which you are twisting by participating in the first place.

Syeori falters again, chewing on her finger for a moment.

Tol'vas Moonshadow says: It’s fine, we’ll just beat you anyway.
Syeori Sunwalker says: Look. Even if I were to hypothetically try to throw the match, there’s no way I could convince Wulf to do it. That dude’s hardcore, man.
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: What’s his name?
Syeori Sunwalker says: He doesn’t have one, so I just started calling him Wulf because he’s wearing a wolf mantle thing.

Tol’vas frowns.

Syeori Sunwalker says: Look, I dunno, what else was I supposed to call him? ‘Hey you guy’? And Bear over there, I dunno what his deal is.
Velameestra Windrunner says: We’re going to be speaking with Asya later. We could potentially see what the repercussions of this circumstance might be.
Syeori Sunwalker says: No no, you can’t tell her I’m actually a girl!
Velameestra Windrunner says: We can be more discreet than that. Just ask why there aren’t women fighting.
Syeori Sunwalker says: Alright. I just don’t want to get myself in trouble, or get them disqualified. They might just get killed. These guys are a little intense if you didn’t notice. I’m sorry if I made this more complicated, but we’re figure it out. Besides, you’re like a freaking genius, aren’t you Vel?
Velameestra Windrunner says: ...just because I’m smart doesn’t mean I always have the answers.
Remnii says: We will figure something out. I want to hear Asya out before we make any rash decisions?

Remnii looks down to Syeori.

Syeori Sunwalker says: Yeah, see? We’ll figure it out! It’ll be just like old times.

Vel opens her mouth.

Velameestra Windrunner says: So… I figure things out.

Syeori laughs.

Syeori Sunwalker says: I mean, you know, kinda. And I’ll make it happen! And we’ll all make it happen. Also, I don’t know if I met you.

Her eyes bounce over to Elissa.

Elissa Cross says: We did briefly. You were too focused on Gil to notice though--
Syeori Sunwalker says: Oh yeah, you were the other one!
Elissa Cross says: It’s uh… nice to meet you. My name’s Elissa.

Syeori shakes Elissa’s hand, and Elissa gives Vel a side glance, which she returns.

Syeori Sunwalker says: Right, so I probably shouldn’t be talking to you guys too much so people don’t get any ideas. But let me know what’s going on, and we’ll roll with the punches, yeah?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Good to see you again, Syeori.
Syeori Sunwalker says: It is! I didn’t expect to run into you out here, but if I was going to run into someone, you’re in the list of people I’d want to. As for you, guys, I look forward to seeing you guys put up a good fight regardless!

Syeori shakes Tol’vas and Uther’s hands, and she heads back over the human and massive bear. During that conversation, Wulf had been shooting a death glare at the group, but as Syeori walks back over, he shifts his death glare over to her, and thus arises the question of whether or not that’s the only face he has.

Vel watches Syeori walk away, and as she turns her back, she takes a small sip of the mug of alcohol she had just been respectfully carrying around. Just the one sip. Because she needed it.

Tol'vas noticed that the bear had antlers, which is a bit strange. The centaurs, however, are primarily ignoring the group.

Aramar goes over to Vel, who is clearly not going to finish her drink.

Aramar Thorne says: Hey. Are you going to finish that?
Velameestra Windrunner says: No.
Aramar Thorne says: Do you mind if I…?
Velameestra Windrunner says: By all means.

Aramar takes the drink and starts to kick it back.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Don’t drink it too fast.

It was a moment too late, and Aramar starts to sputter.

Aramar Thorne says: Ah. Yeah. Good point. Probably shouldn’t drink that too fast.

He also offers it to Uther, who takes a drink.

They take their boys out, as the ladies count as supervision, and at one point Vel casts identify on one of the crystals. It’s giving off the same signature as the meteorite they had found.

They wait until sundown, and then they go to the caves to meet Asya. She greets them with a small torch, and she leads them inside to a small cave.

Asya says: We should be away from prying ears here. Even though we speak in Traveler’s Tongue, there are those who could use magic. The things I will speak of could get me in trouble, but it may be mutually beneficial to all of us. I presume you know of the proceedings of tomorrow. There will be two bouts, and once the winners are found, the representatives of the four teams will descend. The four of the them will stand before you, and the winner of the contest will give a boon to the chosen representatives. Tradition dictates you will be given to the warleader you are championing, but I would ask something different. If you are successful in your bout, I would ask you give the boon to me instead of to Tansu. It would be within your right to do so, and considering she… does not own you, she would be forbidden to raise her hand against you. But if Tansu were to receive the boon, she would use it to get a blessing of fertility from the High Matriarch before she departs. This will likely include her choosing a mate, someone to participate with, while it is unlikely she will choose one of you… she is headstrong. I would not want you to be subjected to that.

She looks to Uther.

Asya says: The woman you are promised to is your betrothed, yes?
Uther Menethil says: Yes.
Asya says: I can make no promises that she may try to convince you share a night with her.
Uther Menethil says: Are you saying if we give her boon, she may attempt to make me her property?
Asya says: She may, um… spend a night with you before you leave. She seems to have taken a liking to you. I think she likes the color of your hair. If you refuse… she would be upset and I would not have you earn her ire. If you give the boon to me instead--you would be breaking tradition, but you are within your rights. I heard you speaking. You know a contestant on Ruya’s team. When you are victorious, I will be able to convince Tansu to spare your opponents. Though she wishes to send a message to Ruya, there is as much a message in letting the champions live in shame. I may be able to barter for your friends’ freedom. That is part of what I want this boon to go to. I understand trusting strangers is hard. I was not born of Clan Sadak, but I joined them, and I would see you leave our family in the best way possible.

As far as Remnii and Tol’vas can tell, Asya seems to be genuine. There’s a reason she wants the boon herself, but she genuinely wants the group to benefit, and she believes this is the best way for them both to come out of this well.

Remnii says: What does this boon mean for you?
Asya says: It means I can beg something of the matriarchs. It can be asked of any of them. I intend to do so. And, with it, I hope to have the influence to allow your friend in Ruya’s team… his freedom. But it is a private matter. I am sorry. I cannot force you to do this, but I can hope, and pray for our happiness. If you have any questions… otherwise I will leave you to your rest. The contestants you will face are quite mighty. While you performed admirably against the golem, the foes tomorrow will be cunning.
Velameestra Windrunner says: As a question… why do men fight? Why not women?
Asya says: Centaur have a long history. The first kahns… they still control most of our people. Clan Sadak is small, formed years ago during a civil war. One born within the Galek clan. The clan I was born into. During a raid, I was freed. In that clan, women… we have little power, and my parents were slaves. So I had no future. I was rescued by Tansu when we were both very young. I was one of her first rides and raids. She freed me and had my join as a friend and companion. Since then, I have been free, but it is how it has always been. It is different all over, but here, the women hold the power. Zyein, the name you have heard, the greater of the two celestial bodies in the sky. It is believed she gave the first of our kind, Sadak, the ability to break free of her bondage. So our people venerate her gaze. That is why the celebration happens every month. When Zyein waxes in full in the night. So, women, we are the leaders, and we control the power, but we only take the field when we fight our enemies. Never amongst ourselves, and never for sport.
Velameestra Windrunner says: So it would be sacrilege then?

Asya nods.

Asya says: It would be anathema to spill the blood of a woman in times of peace. It’s surprisingly those that attacked you were not slain. Were it to occur… it is likely the woman would not be harmed, but she would be exiled. Others, implicit in hiding that, it would be hard to say. Only the most ancient of laws would be followed. I hope that can provide some insight. I understand this may be a drastic change. Did you have any further questions?

There does not seem to be, and Asya bows.

Asya says: I will leave you to it. Keep in mind, it would be anathema for the men to leave the caves at night, for they are not to bask in Zyein’s gaze without a priestess present. Please stay within the caves for the night. But, I wish you all the best, and please consider what I humbly ask.

Asya leaves the group to their own discussions.

Remnii says: Well…
Velameestra Windrunner says: It would seem that ultimately, Syeori would be fine. But we would have problems because…

Vel gestures to their group.

Velameestra Windrunner says: They would have harmed a woman.

Remnii nods in agreement.

Elissa Cross says: So I guess it would be wise if we ensured that didn’t come out then, huh?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Yeah, or convince her to oust herself before the fight even starts. Though that seems unlikely.
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: It might get the other people with her killed.
Elissa Cross says: Plus convincing her of anything seems a bit hard. She seems to be pretty headstrong.

Elissa seems to be a bit grumpy.

Velameestra Windrunner says: She’s always been like that.
Elissa Cross says: I don’t think I like her much…
Aramar Thorne says: I mean, it can’t be that hard! We just have to beat them and not knock her hat off.
Remnii says: I… I wish we did not have to be involved in the first place. These are matters that we should not be interfering in, yet here we are, steeped in it anyway.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Our best bet would likely be to just do as Asya asked.
Remnii says: I worry about the ramifications of outsiders in certain regards. There is culture to be respected, and we don’t know what she may do… I believe we have to trust her, but I do not feel exceptionally good about it. However, I would prefer that over…

She looks at Uther with a degree of sympathy.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Our options are limited.

Vel sighs.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Especially given the additional complications.
Remnii says: This will be the easiest way to get out. The deeper we push, the more tangled it gets.
Makasa Flintwill says: We could always just try to flee under the cover of night. It would not make us popular, but it would be an option.
Velameestra Windrunner says: It’s an option, but we would somehow need to break Syeori out… not to mention fleeing across open plains.
Makasa Flintwill says: ...right.
Remnii says: If they bring their full force to bear… we are a formidable group, but I do believe an entire tribe of centaur would have the advantage by numbers alone.
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: If fleeing is something we’re debating, come tomorrow I could get us out. If we can find a large enough plant. They wouldn’t be able to follow.
Velameestra Windrunner says: I imagine Syeori will likely not leave without her companions, and from the sounds of it, Wulf, at the very least, will not run.
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: Why would they need to leave?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Because there seems to be a consensus that men are basically livestock, and if they can’t participate in this ritual--say because Syeori left them stranded--what worth are they?
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: Right, I thought that’s why we were fleeing.
Velameestra Windrunner says: But if they won’t go, we’re out of luck.
Remnii says: Was it not you, Tol’vas, that had previously said they may be killed depending on how this were to go? The trouble with Syeori leaving is that we are messing with another warleader’s situation. I believe we should stay put, and…

Remnii grimaces.

Remnii says: Try to see this through. There’s no perfect solution here.
Elissa Cross says: Fleeing doesn’t sound like the easiest option. We don’t know where we would end up.

There is a bit more debate before Tae’shara pipes up.

Tae'shara Sunwatcher says: Plus, I don’t think that they would just waltz up to whatever scarce plant around here and let us go with everyone. Ultimately, they keep a pretty close eye on stuff. So it’s possible, but if you’re trying to save your friend, that’s not gonna work…
Velameestra Windrunner says: We should probably just trust Asya on this. We’re blind to cultural ramifications other than what she explains.

Samaara nods.

Samaara says: Unfortunately our group is a bit large to be sneaking off. It is most likely we would be discovered, and if we were to flee with or without your friend on the other team… there are many ways it could go poorly. More so than if we were to just stay and fight. But that is just my insight.

Makasa shrugs in acknowledgement.

Aramar Thorne says: So I guess it’s up to us.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Don’t lose.
Aramar Thorne says: Yeah! We definitely don’t want to lose. But I think we can handle it, especially after that performance.
Riff says: Yeah, you guys will be fine! Ya can do just about anythin’! You’re the Death Adders! Honorary or not, it still counts, right?
Uther Menethil says: Absolutely right.
Riff says: If ya can beat that thing in one go, I think ya can beat someone without knocking their hat off, right? That shouldn’t be too hard.
Uther Menethil says: I’ll do everything I can.

Vel mutters something about hats clipped to hair under her breath.

Tol'vas Moonshadow says: So, when we win, and that hat goes flying off, what do we do?
Velameestra Windrunner says: At that point hope she’s smart about it.
Makasa Flintwill says: Or run like hell.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Or that.
Remnii says: Ideally, that will not happen, and we can bargain for their freedom, and we can be on our way. Even if I am not optimistic about our odds.
Velameestra Windrunner says: I’m not sure there’s much else we can plan for.

Remnii nods.

At that moment, Vel gets a sending from Alleria.

Alleria Windrunner says [sending]: Vel. Things are prepared for you here. When convenient for you, we’re ready… unless you’re having second thoughts.
Velameestra Windrunner says [sending]: I’ll be up as soon as I can make arrangements… I’ll message you beforehand. See you soon, aunt Alleria.

Elissa looks over to Vel.

Elissa Cross says: What was that?
Velameestra Windrunner says: My aunt. In Northrend.
Elissa Cross says: Is everything alright?
Velameestra Windrunner says: I’m to come up at earliest convenience.

The group agrees that they should just head to rest for the night, and Elissa suggested she may make some signs to cheer the fighting group on.

That night, as Vel is finishing up her spell that she had been working on, she hears Riff’s voice.

Riff says: Psst. Hey Vel.

Vel’s ear twitches and she looks over, noting Riff peeking into the side of the tent she was staying in.

Riff says: Whatcha workin’ on?
Velameestra Windrunner says: A spell.
Riff says: What kind of spell?
Velameestra Windrunner says: A divination spell.
Riff says: What kind of divination spell?

Vel fully looks over to the child that is now peeking eagerly into her tent. Riff creeps in and sits down on the floor next to her, clearly interested in what she’s doing.

Velameestra Windrunner says: What kind of divination spells do you think I’m working on?
Riff says: Well… I think you saw you working with some vials of blood you had.

Vel chuffs in slight amusement, realizing that Riff had, in fact, caught her red-handed.

Velameestra Windrunner says: It lets me divine things about people using their blood.

Riff’s eyes light up.

Riff says: Really??
Velameestra Windrunner says: Really.
Riff says: Dat’s cool, mon! How’d ya do that??
Velameestra Windrunner says: Well…

Vel considers for a moment and then proceeds to do her best to explain some of the intricacies of spellwork to an individual who was little more than a child. Riff listens eagerly, nodding along like he understands.

Riff says: That’s really cool! I don’t think I understand how ya do it or anything, but do ya think you can teach me? I think I can do something like it.
Velameestra Windrunner says: If you want to learn, I don’t see the problem. However… perhaps it should just be between you and I for the time being.

Riff nods eagerly, and a long feathery tail wags and wiggles behind him in excitement.

Riff says: I can do that! I’m real good at keeping secrets, you know!

Vel hums to herself, her eyes following the trajectory of Riff’s tail as it flips back and forth.

Velameestra Windrunner says: I’m going to count on you then.
Riff says: Don’t worry! I’ll keep your secret real good like! But you gotta show me if you make any more cool spells like that, okay?
Velameestra Windrunner says: I’ll be sure to do so.
Riff says: Okay! It’s a deal!

He holds out a hand to her, which Vel accepts, and they shake on it.

Riff says: That’s so cool! Can you show me how it’s done? Can you show me right now??
Velameestra Windrunner says: Alright.

Vel sighs, but there’s a faint smirk as she pulls out a vial of her own blood. Riff is watching eagerly as she holds the vial up, and her eyes illuminate. The glow flows down her arm and into the vial, shifting to a bright magenta hue as it enters the vial. There is a faint sizzling sound, before the glow disperses, leaving the vial empty.

Riff looks at the vial, and then back to Vel.

Riff says: That was cool! So… what did you learn?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Well. In this instance I learned it came from a female humanoid whose name is Velameestra.

Riff’s mouth opens in surprise.

Riff says: Oh! So that was your blood then!
Velameestra Windrunner says: Yes.
Riff says: Oh, that’s so cool! I definitely need to learn how to do that, that’s so neat.
Velameestra Windrunner says: If you cast it yourself, you can also see the moment it was spilled. Unfortunately, it’s not something I can show as readily.
Riff says: I think I’m gonna try and do that! I might try some other stuff too!
Velameestra Windrunner says: Oh?
Riff says: I dunno. This kind of stuff is… I think it’s kind of who I am, so maybe I can do something special with it. If I do, I’ll tell ya! Then it can be our secret!

Vel smiles faintly.

Velameestra Windrunner says: I look forward to seeing what you figure out. And I will tell you if I create anything else.
Riff says: Thanks! And sorry I was… kinda watching ya.
Velameestra Windrunner says: It’s alright.

Riff sits there for a second.

Riff says: Oh. I should probably go.

He laughs.

Riff says: Sorry!
Velameestra Windrunner says: Get some sleep.
Riff says: Yup!

Riff waves goodnight and slips out of the tent, and Vel exchanges a look with Arkha’din.

Velameestra Windrunner says: It would be my luck that would happen, wouldn’t it?

Arkha’din makes a hissing noise of affirmation and curls closer to Vel’s wand of arcane missile.

Riff meanwhile goes back to Seria.

Riff says: We should go to bed. Night madda!

He goes to bed a bit eager. In the middle of the night, however, Seria--who is resting--finds herself coming to an abrupt amount of consciousness. She sees a beautiful dreamscape that is similar to Hakkar’s realm but… nicer.

Suddenly, Riff tears through the area, dragging someone by the arm: Rai.

Riff says: Madda! Madda!

Riff stops himself, and Rai nearly trips.

Rai says: Riff mon, what are you doing. Ya can’t just… Seria?? Riff mon, how?
Riff says: I dunno. I wanted to see madda, so I just brought ya here.
Rai says: But, how… ah…

Rai looks to Seria apologetically.

Rai says: Well. This is convenient in a way.
Riff says: Father, tell madda what ya told me!
Rai says: Alright. Alright. I asked Riff to give you a message, but this works. I got things in order, so whenever you’re ready, just use your magic to see me, and you can pop over here with your magic. I’ll introduce you to some people who might be able to help out. You’ll be safe. We can figure things out.

Seria nods.

Rai says: If that’s okay… whenever it’s convenient… when do ya think we should set this up for? Do you need a couple days?
Seria says: As soon as I can find something big enough.
Rai says: Alright. I’ll be ready. I’ll get out to the jungle and I can get everything set up. I’ll make sure you can see me. You should be able to find a tree that’s big enough here. There’s a lot of them here. It’ll be good to see ya again.
Seria says: Be good to see ya too.
Riff says: Well, while we’re here, can we play tag or something? Since I won’t be comin’ with ya.
Rai says: Not yet, little man. We’ll get there. I just, um… there’s um… there’s complications that we should try to sort out first, ya?

Riff sinks his shoulders, because he knows.

Seria says: You got a special job for me.
Riff says: Really?!
Seria says: If Uther slips up, you keep him in line.
Riff says: Right! He got the Death Adder reputation on the line!
Seria says: Exactly.
Riff says: I gotcha madda, don’t worry!
Rai says: Well. I guess we can play for a bit. My night’s almost up.

They play together for a bit before Rai needs to wake up, and Riff and Seria wake up a few hours later.

May 30th

In the morning, Vel goes to find Remnii. Remnii is meditating, and Vel stands there somewhat awkwardly, unsure if she should interrupt. Before too long, Remnii’s eyes crack open as she realizes that a set of footsteps had stopped and not started again.

Remnii says: Good morning, Vel.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Morning, Remnii. Sorry if I am interrupting…
Remnii says: No, it’s okay.
Velameestra Windrunner says: I wanted to speak with you briefly.

Remnii nods and pats the ground next to her. Vel approaches and sits down next to her.

Velameestra Windrunner says: The, uh… sending I received from my aunt yesterday.
Remnii says: I’m assuming that is… something to do with what you spoke with us about. Yes?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Yes… um. They’re ready. And they’re… busy.

Her words falter for a moment.

Velameestra Windrunner says: But… considering circumstances… I wanted to make sure you would be alright with everything before I even humored leaving now.

Remnii shifts on her own weight.

Remnii says: I believe I will be able to manage. I’m not alone here… Elissa, Makasa, Tae’shara, Seria, Samaara… they are all here with me, as you know. Along with the men. While I believe we can use all the help we can get, this is something you have been… anticipating and I do not believe any time on the road is going to present a more or less opportune time than now or ever. Speaking earnestly, I worry, I am certain I could use your keen mind, but… obligations call, and when they do, there is little you can do but heed it.
Velameestra Windrunner says: I will have my sending stone. If anything happens…
Remnii says: I will keep you informed. Pending you are… in a good space.

Remnii fidgets, clearly concerned.

Remnii says: We will make do with what we have, and I will simply have to think on my hooves. I am not alone here. You, however, will be alone in what you’re doing… in a way. So, in turn, be safe. That is all I can wish you. I will not say goodbye, as I anticipate your return.
Velameestra Windrunner says: I’ll send you as soon as I’m able.

Remnii exhales, and delicately places her hand on Vel’s shoulder and squeezes.

Remnii says: I will see to it that everyone comes out of this as unscathed as possible.
Velameestra Windrunner says: If… Syeori gets roughed up a little bit, don’t feel too bad about it.

Remnii puts a hand over her mouth.

Remnii says: I sense some contention. Complexities arise no matter where you go. It’s funny how in big worlds, commonalities are not in short supply even when far from the familiar. Just an observation.

She laughs nervously, and the pair stands up.

However, just at that moment, Seria and Riff show up as Remnii and Vel exit the tent Remnii was using.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Seria.
Remnii says: Good morning.

Seria looks at Vel.

Seria says: I need to talk to you.

Vel blinks.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Alright. Thank you, Remnii.
Remnii says: If you ever need anything, Seria, that offer stands in getting to know each other.

Remnii gives a small duck of her head and leaves the trio to their talk.

Velameestra Windrunner says: What can I do for you, Seria?
Seria says: I need to borrow a sending.

Vel’s eyebrow raises slightly.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Sure.

She holds her hand out for the ring, and Seria places it in her palm.

Riff says: Madda is going on a trip! Just for a little bit. So I’ll be here with you guys.

Vel’s mouth opens as she looks up from channeling her magics into the ring.

Velameestra Windrunner says: A trip? Forgive me for prying, but where are you going?
Seria says: Goin’ to Zandalar.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Ah. Um. You’re… informing Remnii, and the others, right? Because I am… also leaving, as it would turn out.

Seria shakes her head.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Ah. Alright. Um.
Riff says: I can go get her! Hey Remnii! Wait up!

Riff darts off after Remnii, calling for her, and he quickly catches up. She turns on her hoof, interrupted from her thoughts.

Remnii says: Good morning, Riff.

She folds her hands in front of her.

Remnii says: What can I do for you.
Riff says: Seria wants to tell you something because she’s going on a trip for a little bit. But she’ll be back soon. And I’ll still be here, so everything will be taken care of. But come back over!

There is a poignant pause as Remnii looks up to the sky.

Remnii says [draenic]: Orcs communicate better than this.

Remnii follows the beaming Riff back to his mother. She looks a bit bewildered.

Remnii says: Hello again. Now what is this about another trip? Are you going somewhere too, Seria?

Seria nods. Vel hands Seria her ring back.

Velameestra Windrunner says: I’ll… ah… I’m going to go find Elissa.

Vel leaves Remnii and Seria alone.

Remnii says: Do you know how long you’ll be?
Seria says: ...no.
Remnii says: Were you intending on telling any of us? Besides leaving Riff here?
Seria says: No. I didn’t intend it to be a long stay.

Remnii shifts onto one hoof, canting her hips.

Remnii says: That’s not the point. It’s not a matter of a short trip… for you to simply disappear to leave someone else to disseminate that information… you are a member of this party. You’re an ally, and to some, a friend. When someone simply ups and vanishes, that is alarming. Especially in a place that is supposed to be peaceful.

Seria looks bewildered, as this was just how she had done things.

Remnii says: You have people in this party that care for you. Accountability is important. And… it’s okay to begin to rely on us. If any harm were to come to you, or there was any animosity, you probably would have already experienced it. I will not hold you any more, it’s food for thought. Adjusting to a new way of life, I know is difficult, but you are a part of our community… and you opted to stay, and I think that means something. I hope you think that matters as much as it matters to me and Uther. So I wish you luck, and safe travels. If you need anything, let me know as Vel will be gone. But next time, know we are looking out for you as much as you look out for us.

Seria nods. Remnii gives her a sad look, and then leaves to disseminate to the group.

Vel goes to inform Elissa she is leaving, who gives her a hug and opts to go with her to wherever she is going to leave from. Vel alsos tells Uther she’s leaving, who tells her to be safe.

Aramar had been trying to get to know Uther and Tol’vas, and Uther spends some time gushing about Vittoria after Aramar asked him about his betrothed. Aramar asks Tol’vas if he had a lady or man friend.

Tol'vas Moonshadow says: Not… exactly no.

Aramar glances at Uther with a smile.

Aramar Thorne says: Not exactly, huh?
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: I don’t know what you’re looking for here.
Aramar Thorne says: I dunno, Uther. I think that sounds like our mysterious wolf is trying to deflect. What do you think?
Uther Menethil says: A person’s secrets are their own.
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: Wulf is over there.

He points at the brooding human, who chuffs and goes back to brooding. One of the centaur approaches the group and in very broken common, speaks. He has a regal demeanor, and he looks not too much older than Uther. His hair is pulled back in a long braid.

Centaur Champion says: Fight. Good.

He thumps his hand on his chest. Uther returns the gesture and nods. The centaur nods.

Centaur Champion says: Die. Good.

He seems to be wishing them luck.

In the meanwhile, Seria is looking for a tree. She finds Asya.

Asya says: Good morning. Did you need help with something?
Seria says: Yes. I need to find a plant. A large tree perhaps. Are there any close by?
Asya says: The trees are few and far between, but there are some near… one of the twisting ones is not too far from here.

She points up to a nearby ledge.

Asya says: If you are able to get up… I don’t know how good of a climber you are, but some of the twisting trees can be found not far. You should be able to find one of that size.

Seria nods, thanks her, and then turns into a bird and flies away. Asya’s eyes widen as she watches her flit away. Riff transforms into a bird and flies after her after waving to Asya.

Seria finds the twisting trees Asya was talking about, and many are too small, but after about an hour she finds one that is rather sizeable.

They land, and Riff looks to Seria.

Riff says: So I guess you’re gonna go for a bit, right madda?

Seria nods.

Seria says: Only for a short while.
Riff says: Alright. I’m gonna miss ya.

Seria pulls Riff into a hug.

Seria says: And I’m gonna miss ya too.
Riff says: I… by the way. I think Remnii’s right. I know that you’ve been really scared and alone… and I’m glad I can be here, but I think these people… they’re good people. I mean, Vel is so cool! Did you see her fight? She was flipping around. And Uther’s so strong! He beat up that thing! I think they’re all really great, and I think you can trust them. I just want to see ya happy, cause… ya know… I like it when you’re happy. Because that means I can be happy. If you’re not happy, sometimes it’s hard to keep not being afraid. I don’t really know everything… but I hope you can trust them, because I think I do. Plus they be Death Adders, right? That’s an unbreakable bond!

He hugs Seria again.

Riff says: I love ya madda.
Seria says: I love you too, Riff.
Riff says: Oh. One more thing! Because they don’t like boys much…

He spins around and turns into a little girl troll.

Riff says: I’m gonna be a girl troll while you’re gone! I think it’ll be fun!~

Seria smiles.

Seria says: Whatever makes you happy.
Riff says: I already told ya what makes me happy!

Riff pokes Seria’s cheek.

Riff says: I’ll be watchin’ the tree to make sure it don’t do no funny business!
Seria says: Make sure you listen to the others.
Riff says: I will. Don’t worry.

Seria then sends Rai to make sure he’s ready, and he assures her that he is. Seria then scrys on him. She peers into the bowl, and gets her first glimpse of where she’s going to go. It’s a beautiful jungle, and the trees are all massive.

She sees Rai, looking at a large tree, musing that it looks like a good size. Then he starts to look for someone.

Rai says: Raava? Raava, where are you?

He jumps forward, and blushes, and there’s the sound of giggling.

Rai says: Raava? Come on, where’d you go?

At that moment, she sees another troll appear, her arms wrapped around Rai, and her pinkish red hair tied up in a bun. She is nearly twice Rai’s size, and she giggles. She’s rather curvy.

Raava says: I caught ya!~
Rai says: Raava, you’re gonna embarrass me! Seria will be here any minute!
Raava says: I’m sorry, you just talk about her so much. I’m excited to meet her. Plus you’re fun to tease.
Rai says: I know. I’m excited for you to meet her too.

Rai looks around, waiting for Seria, as does the zandalari troll woman. Seria moves over to the tree on her side, and she begins to cast transport via plants, visualizing the tree near Rai. She passes through the bark, and she sinks into the tree, passing through the Emerald Dream itself.

She steps forward, and then she finds herself stepping out of the large tree she had seen.

She sees Rai and his companion.

Shortly after Vel and Elissa see Seria fly away from Asya, they also approach the somewhat shocked centaur.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Asya, do you have a moment?
Asya says: Yes. Of course. Um. Does she always do that?

She points at the disappearing forms of Seria and Riff in their bird forms.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Seria? Yes. She does.
Asya says: ...fascinating.

She shakes her head and turns back to Vel and Elissa.

Asya says: I’m sorry. What did you need of me?
Velameestra Windrunner says: I was wondering… the people killed during the… trials. Are they put anywhere? Strange question, I know.
Asya says: They are, yes. Many centaur practice sky burials for the men. The women, if they do not make the pilgrimage to Zyein’s Crater, are interred in caverns such as this, but the men are left in sky burials so that they may experience Zyein’s Gaze for themselves. The closest one here, where those who have fallen in the trials are brought, should be no more than a short pace down the canyon. There is a small basin where they are laid to rest.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Is it… alright if we go see it?
Asya says: Of course. Do you need an escort?

Vel looks down the canyon.

Velameestra Windrunner says: It’s just… right down there you said, right?

Asya nods.

Asya says: You can see it very shortly after leaving camp.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Elissa and I should be alright. But thank you.

Asya nods and lets them go on their way. Elissa and Vel mount up on Daisy and head down the canyon. It was only a 10 minute ride, and they see the bones of centaurs both new and old. The inexperienced eye may mistake it for a battlefield, but the bodies were not interred haphazardly. There was a certain systematic way to how they were placed that implied a certain degree of reverence.

The sun is bright in the basin, and the bodies are clearly exposed to the sky.

There are some vultures nearby participating in the decomposition of the bodies, and the closest fly away at their arrival, though the furthest simply regard the pair warily.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Right. Well… hopefully this should work.

She taps into her sending stone, targeting her aunt.

Velameestra Windrunner says [sending]: Alleria, I’ll be up shortly. I’ll meet you on the Wintercroft. I’ll be in the red-haired disguise.

Alleria likely nods in response, not being used to sending.

Alleria Windrunner says [sending]: I will meet you there.

Vel uses disguise self to alter her appearance into that of a red-haired elven woman and looks to Elissa.

Velameestra Windrunner says: I suppose this is it.
Elissa Cross says: Sure you’re going to be okay?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Yeah. My aunt will be waiting for me.
Elissa Cross says: Yeah… promise you’ll let me know if anything goes weird? And if there’s anything I can do when you get back, I’ll do it for you, promise. Even if it’s something weird like… I dunno… I can’t even think of anything. But..
Velameestra Windrunner says: I’ll be back before you know it.
Elissa Cross says: Okay.

Elissa seems to deflate in relief.

Elissa Cross says: Can I have a hug? Before you go?

Vel nods and gives Elissa a hug, which the half-elf returns tightly.

Elissa Cross says: Knock them dead-- oh.

Elissa immediately covers her mouth, realizing the comment might have been way too on the nose.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Take care of Uther and the others.
Elissa Cross says: You got it.
Velameestra Windrunner says: And try to tolerate Syeori for the time being.

Elissa doesn’t say anything, but she nods. Vel then turns and walks into the center of the burial ground and starts to cast grave stride. She can almost feel a graven energy waft through the area, and it starts to take hold. As she steps into the center of it, she almost feels a suffocating source of magic wash over her, as if the ground beneath her upends itself, and she does a complete 360, seemingly sending her into the earth. Everything goes dark, but then as she rights herself, she is on the deck of the Wintercroft, and the cool breeze of Northrend wafting over her. There is a dark pall of night around the ship, covering the otherwise daylit sky.

Vel dusts herself off and takes stock of her surroundings just in time to see Alleria board. They make eye contact, and she offers a nod, and Vel approaches her.

The massive ship is being manned, and they acknowledge Vel’s presence, but ultimately do not bother her as if she arrived here, she was likely supposed to be here--especially as the disguised elf approaches the ranger-captain.

Alleria Windrunner says: Hello Vel. It’s good to see you.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Same to you.
Alleria Windrunner says: How has your journey been so far?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Well…

Vel pauses to consider how to best summarize what was presently happening.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Uther and the other men are currently fighting in an arena sport for centaurs. Horse men. And women. Primarily women, in this case. It will… probably be fine.
Alleria Windrunner says: I… see. You’ll have to tell me what happened.
Velameestra Windrunner says: It’s a long story.
Alleria Windrunner says: That reminds me. The skull I found. I believe it may not have belonged to a yak. We’ve encountered some entities. A people who have villages in the northern mountains. I believe it may have belonged to them.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Large… bovine humanoids? By chance?
Alleria Windrunner says: From reports, yes.
Velameestra Windrunner says: There are tauren on Kalimdor. I wonder if they’re related...
Alleria Windrunner says: Could be. Uncertain. But…

She continues to make small talk as they walk through Vengeance Landing. The day is overcast, preventing the sun’s rays from directly savaging the vampyrs in the small settlement.

Alleria Windrunner says: Is there anything you need to do before we… head out?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Yes. Um. Is Astalor around, by chance?

Alleria nods.

Alleria Windrunner says: He should likely be in the sanctum.
Velameestra Windrunner says: I should… see if he would be alright with watching Arkha’din. That bond will temporarily sever and that… may be a problem.

Alleria nods again.

Alleria Windrunner says: Meet me on the outskirts of town. I’ll be with the rest.
Velameestra Windrunner says: I shouldn’t be long.

Alleria nods once more and there is a hesitation in the way she moves as she goes to leave Vel. Her gaze lingers on her niece for a bit longer than it otherwise would, her mind on what is going to be happening soon, before she disappears to head towards the outskirts of Vengeance Landing.

Vel makes her way towards the arcane sanctum she had been staying in. As she enters, she sees the diagrams she had made with major image when she was here before. They have since been added to with additional details that have been uncovered about the anatomy of the vampyric elves. She also sees the imperious-looking form of Astalor, his nose in a book and one arm under his elbow.

Astalor Bloodsworn says: If I recall, I asked politely not to be disturbed during my research times.

He looks over to Vel, not realizing who she is beneath her disguise, and he claps the book closed.

Astalor Bloodsworn says: How can I help you?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Apologies, magister.

Vel allows the disguise to drop, revealing her true form beneath. Astalor claps his hands.

Astalor Bloodsworn says: Oh! Velameestra! I am terribly sorry, I had no idea it was you. Some of my apprentices have been nagging me for countless reasons, and I thought something else had come up. What can I help you with? What brings you back here so soon?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Well…

Vel hesitates, debating how to proceed.

Velameestra Windrunner says: First off, I have a spell you may be interested in. Been... busy, in that regard.
Astalor Bloodsworn says: Is that so? I shouldn’t be surprised with someone of your undeniable talent. Tell me, what have you been working on?

Vel explains the analyze blood spell, which she had just completed the night prior.

Astalor Bloodsworn says: This is absolutely fascinating. Divination via blood, a fantastic idea! I can’t believe no one has ever thought of this before… do you mind if I copy a few notes down?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Of course not. That’s why I brought it.
Astalor Bloodsworn says: And I would be more than happy to do so. I… lack the funding to properly compensate you for it, but I would be more than happy to pay you back. Perhaps a favor in the future.

Vel hesitates, seeing her opening.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Speaking… of that. Would you… mind watching Arkha’din? For a day or two?

Astalor covers his mouth in shock and excitement.

Astalor Bloodsworn says: My word, I would barely even consider that a favor. Of course! I’d be more than happy to take care of little bean.

Upon closer inspection, Vel notes Astalor’s own golden mana wyrm vegging out in the nearby illusion. It’s sleeping, its little tail twitching as it just basks in the ambient magic, much like a cat would bask in front of a vent.

Vel casts an amused sideways glance at the creature.

Velameestra Windrunner says: I see you’ve also been busy.

Pio'belore's eye opens and she hisses softly with a contented wiggle.

Astalor Bloodsworn says: But yes, of course! Might I ask what… you need me to watch him for? Are you going somewhere?
Velameestra Windrunner says: The uh…

Vel chews on her lip.

Velameestra Windrunner says: The bond is going to temporarily break, and it would... likely be wise for him to not be out in the wild when that happens.
Astalor Bloodsworn says: I see. Why would that be? Such a bond would only break if you were forging one with another creature or if…

Astalor stops, realization clicking into place.

Astalor Bloodsworn says: Is… that why you’ve come back, Velameestra?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Yes. It is.
Astalor Bloodsworn says: I see.

Astalor is quiet for a long moment, tapping a manicured fingernail on his chin as he paces back and forth.

Astalor Bloodsworn says: And… who will be turning you, out of curiosity?
Velameestra Windrunner says: My aunt.
Astalor Bloodsworn says: Your aunt. Miss Alleria. That makes sense. Familial bonds… and you’re choosing to do this?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Yes. After consideration, I felt it would be… worthwhile. For additional study, and also establishing how we can adapt.
Astalor Bloodsworn says: I see. I certainly won’t stop you. I wouldn’t if I could. But… are you so certain this is wise? You’re a brilliant young woman, Velameestra, you have your entire life ahead of you. Are you so sure you want to… um… end it prematurely?
Velameestra Windrunner says: It’s ultimately not ending.
Astalor Bloodsworn says: I… suppose you’re right.

Vel stands in silence for a moment, considering.

Velameestra Windrunner says: This… may be overstepping. But they make you nervous… don’t they?

Astalor’s lips curl inwards and he doesn’t answer, but he does all the same.

Astalor Bloodsworn says: There’s… something unnerving, yes. Perhaps it is the knowledge that under the correct… lens one could see us as livestock for them. A concerning notion I’ve been unable to shake as of yet, Velameestra.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Is it… alright if I offer a parallel?

Astalor waves a hand.

Astalor Bloodsworn says: By all means.
Velameestra Windrunner says: In the… absence of the Sunwell. Many of our people feel the withdrawals of the arcane energies it once provided. Yourself and myself included.

Astalor nods in agreement, and Vel’s eyes flicker over to his mana wyrm, who is still soaking in the illusion.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Does that mean you would turn on your familiar and consume her? Or that Arkha’din is no longer safe in your care? They’re entities formed of living magic, are they not?

Astalor raises a finger and wags it for a second, and his mouth opens to rebut, but then he curls his finger back and bites the edge of his knuckle.

Astalor Bloodsworn says: I suppose you… bring up a good argument, Velameestra. But you and I are different from most. Judging from what I’ve learned of your person, you consider dear Arkha’din to be a member of your family like any other. And I, would, quite frankly, die for Pio’belore. But…

Kel’Thuzad snickers in the back of Vel’s head, understanding the notion considering his own relationship with Mr. Bigglesworth.

Astalor Bloodsworn says: But not everyone does. To some, a familiar is nothing more than a tool. But I see what you’re getting at, and I will consider your words. While I’m watching your beloved little darling. And of course, you’re absolutely right, I would never consider harming him. The mere thought of anything happening to either of them would be anathema. I’d never even consider it.

Arkha’din, who Vel had summoned while Astalor was considering, had taken to drifting around the sanctum. He had approached Pio to bother her, but she is completely ignoring him.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Which, after all this is done… I have no expectation for you to be at ease around me. But ultimately… I would find such predatory nature entirely unacceptable.
Astalor Bloodsworn says: Full glad am I to hear that, Velameestra. I simply hope we can have this conversation again tomorrow and you would feel the same way. But only time will tell, I suppose, and I wager they are waiting and I won’t hold you up any longer. If you need me to take care of any of your other belongings, I’d be happy to. I’ll make sure nothing happens to it. I assume the others already made such... plans.

Vel nods as she drops a few things in the corner near where she was staying.

Velameestra Windrunner says: I appreciate it. Greatly. And Arkha’din, listen to Astalor. I’ll be back tomorrow.

Astalor smiles and Arkha’din hisses in acknowledgement.

Astalor Bloodsworn says: I believe that you are making a mistake, Velameestra. But I hope you can prove me wrong. Simply because you’d be proving me right all the same.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Who knows, maybe you’ll recruit me yet.
Astalor Bloodsworn says: Oh I haven’t given up.

He opens his book back up.

Astalor Bloodsworn says: Come, you little darling.

He then gestures to Arkha’din and conjures a mote of magic, which immediately peaks the mana wyrm’s attention as he slithers over and starts nipping at the dancing lights. Astalor watches Vel as she puts her disguise back on and leaves.

As she starts to make her way to meet up with Alleria, she makes note that more of the "giant" individuals that she had observed before present. Originally, it had just been one woman that looked similar to Thrud, but now there were small groups. One of the groups is conversing in a language Vel doesn’t understand, and there are now men and women present.

One of them is sparring with a number of elves, wielding a mace twice the size of a typical weapon, and seems to be enjoying the fight.

Another small group is sitting on a cart full of crates, and there appears to be a magister and two other soldiers talking to them.

When she reaches the outskirts, she notes a handful of hawkstriders. Rommath and Kael’thas are already astride their mounts, and Alleria is holding the reigns of two more.

Vel approaches, and Kael’thas looks down to her.

Kael'thas Sunstrider says: Are you prepared?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Of course, your Majesty.
Kael'thas Sunstrider says: Do you have a place in mind for the ritual?
Alleria Windrunner says: I know where it’s at. I can get us there.

Vel mounts the hawkstrider that was prepared for her, which does not like her being nearby, but it accepts her as a rider. It’s a very solemn journey, as if someone was making their way to their execution, but inversed. There are no crowds, just looming trees.

Before long, they find the spot that Vel had previously selected. It looks to be a large, old tree, twisting off of a cliff side with its roots spidering over rocks and boulders to make a sheltered hollow beneath it.

They approach through the glade, and Alleria looks up at the massive tree and the roots spidering down like thousands of tiny fingers.

Alleria Windrunner says: We’re here.

Kael’thas, Rommath, and Vel dismount, and with a flick of his wrist, Kael’thas ties the reigns of the hawkstriders to some of the nearby trees. He gives his own a pat on the neck and slips him a small treat before looking at Vel.

Kael'thas Sunstrider says: I’m merely here to supervise and bear witness. Please.

He gestures to the cavern beneath the tree, and Alleria looks to Vel and nods.

Alleria Windrunner says: After you.

Vel nods back and walks into the darkness of the hollow beneath the tree. Alleria moves in after her, and Rommath takes position nearby so he can see Vel clearly, and Kael'thas stands in the entrance of the little alcove.

There is a moment that goes on forever as Alleria looks at Vel. She reaches out and takes Vel’s hand in the darkness.

Alleria Windrunner says: Are you ready?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Yes.

Vel gives Alleria’s hand a small squeeze, and she starts to pull the veil of white hair away from her neck, revealing the bare flesh beneath. Still holding Vel’s hand, Alleria pulls her into a hug, her arms around her niece.

For a moment, there is only silence except for Vel’s own breathing and just her own breathing. Alleria’s hands grip onto Vel’s back, and she feels a small pressure on the side of her neck.

Upon feeling the presence of Alleria’s fangs, Vel’s eyes lock on Kael’thas.

Velameestra Windrunner says: For the Sin’dorei.

As the words leave her lips, the pain bites into her flesh. It was a feeling she felt before--the experience of being fed upon by a vampyr--but never so intensely. Alleria’s fangs buried themselves into one of her most vital bloodstreams, and the pain strikes through her like a knife.

Instinctively, she grips onto Alleria’s back, and Alleria holds her tighter. Vel feels waves of pain that come in rhythm with her heartbeat; each beat the stab of a knife that steadily came slower and slower.

Her limbs started to grow heavy, her life blood drained drop by drop. The agonizing pain numbs into almost a euphoria, as painful as it is liberating. Her sight starts to grow foggy, and she feels Alleria cup the back of her head.

Vel can still see people around her, and things moving, but it steadily grows darker. As she feels her breath escape her, a shadow creeps over her.

She senses movement, and a commotion, but her senses are dulled.

And then there’s just darkness.

She feels an all-consuming shadow envelop her like a curtain. Any semblance of up or down or sense at all is gone, and all she feels is terror. She can hear the sound of weeping. A dozen voices.

She looks around, but she has no body. She can see everything, and feels nothing but the crushing darkness. She recognizes one of the voices. It’s her mother’s. Her mother was crying somewhere in the darkness.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Minn’da?

She has no lips to speak, and yet the words were out and spread out in every direction, but they are swallowed up as she is drawn deeper into the darkness. She hears her own sobbing. Was it actually her? Was it a memory? It was hard to say.

Then suddenly, there’s a break. The darkness shatters, and for a moment, blood red fills the sky above her. She has no body, and no eyes to see, and yet it pierces her vision as the sky--the void she was standing in--was broken free. There’s the sound of screaming. Screaming of a thousand voices.

One was her’s.

One was her mothers.

Vel felt herself torn from the darkness. Spindly threads of red grab her and yank her free of it. Down below her, she sees a roiling mass of screaming faces. Was one her mother’s? She reaches out, trying to reach for the faces, but the threads tie her formless, shapeless soul back.

And then they were gone.

She was in a limbo. She could see nothing but threads of red circling around her. They were constricting her, and her thoughts. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was perhaps not as bad as whatever she was experiencing.

Then she hears a voice. A voice she recognizes: the grand magister’s. It emanates from everywhere, and nowhere. Perhaps from the thread that was binding her, the endless space above, or from her own head.

Rommath Pyrewing says: Velameestra, what was the entity that just attempted to claim your soul?
Velameestra Windrunner says: A hex. One placed on the ring by Zalazane.
Rommath Pyrewing says: Is that why you chose to undergo this ritual? Or was there another reason?
Velameestra Windrunner says: There was another reason.
Rommath Pyrewing says: What was that reason?

Vel feels like she might not want to answer that question, but she has no choice. She feels a compelling nature to his words.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Because I wish to help our people. Because our people wouldn’t be in this situation if it weren’t for my incompetence.

There’s a long pause. She doesn’t know how long, nor how short.

Rommath Pyrewing says: ...Do you blame yourself for the fall of Silvermoon, Velameestra Windrunner?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Yes.
Rommath Pyrewing says: ...An utterly preposterous notion. I will tax your soul no further, but I will keep it. This spell will not last as long as your transformation, and you will be thankful. For whatever you’re experiencing right now will pale in comparison. Bear with me.

It seems like Vel spends an eternity in that limbo--that endless cage. She felt weak, then strong. Safe, and then at more risk than she ever felt before. Vulnerable, and yet protected.

Suddenly, after a thousand years, or perhaps a moment, it’s dark.

Vel feels waves of pain, as for the first time in perhaps since the dawn of time, or when she was born, she feels everything once more. Her eyes, her ears, but she can’t move. But she was there, and she feels a pain beyond anything she imagined. She is thrust into the heart into what she is becoming. Like two surgeons’ hands rearranging her insides, shoving things apart, and tearing them out and replacing them, she feels an agonizing pain. She wants to scream, but she has no mouth to scream with, no mouth to speak with, and no one would hear it. She feels waves of exhaustion, and pain, pulse through every fiber of her being--nebulous as it is--the tips of her fingers aflame, and her organs burning to ash, only to be reborn again.

There’s a hunger of a thousand skipped meals, and a parchment of a year in the desert, which washes over her in waves. She starts to feel, and then her eyes open. She sees only darkness. Instinctively, she realizes she didn’t take a breath. She does, only to realize she doesn’t need it. She doesn’t need air, but she needs to get out. She needed to escape, and she needed to eat. She had never eaten or drank in her life.

She needed to find her master. She needed her. She needed her strong.

Without realizing it, Vel started to tear at the earth, screaming and clawing, her hands digging through the dirt, soil wedging beneath her nails. She rips and tears through with every fiber of her being.

Her hand breaks the surface. She tears through again, and again. She keeps going. Using all her strength. All her malformed strength. Her exhausted muscles ache.

She tears herself from the earth, and she finds herself in the cavern beneath the tree. The one she died in. Her blood was still soaking the ground. There is rain, like a thousand drops of blood. Her pulse quickens, and she sees Alleria.

Her sire.

There are others there, but they don’t matter. Not right now. Only Alleria matters.

Vel tries to form words and stand, but she can’t.

Alleria catches her.

Alleria Windrunner says: It’s alright. It’s alright Vel. I’m here.

Vel feels comfort, but she’s weak.

Alleria pulls her hair back

Alleria Windrunner says: It’s alright... Please.

Vel moves closer to her, and as she bids, she sinks her own fangs into Alleria’s neck. They dig deep, as she wished, and she feels Alleria’s essence flow through her, and with it, she begins to feel the aches and pains of her body grow and ebb all the same. Like someone drowning finally being pulled from an ocean of hunger and thirst. Vel didn’t know know how long she fed, but she blinks, and suddenly she’s aware, and her conscious emotions start to beat back the animalistic feralness.

Her fatigue hits her like a wave, and she draws away, instinctively gasping as the weight of everything that had just happened hits her like a thousand tons of bricks from every direction, but Alleria--her aunt--catches her.

Alleria Windrunner says: It’s alright Vel.

Vel blinks, and there are others there.

Did they ever leave?

It was raining outside. Rommath is standing there, his arms crossed, and Kael’thas stands in the entrance, a small smile on his face.

Velameestra Windrunner says: ....I’m... back.

As she speaks, she becomes acutely aware of the blood on her face, and the fangs in her mouth.

She looks at Alleria, and then hugs her. Alleria holds her for a time, the rain falling. Rommath and Kael’thas exit the cavern to give the pair the moment. After some time, Alleria whispers.

Alleria Windrunner says: We should get you back to Vengeance Landing. You will... want to rest, after this.

Vel nods into her hair, and she staggers back but she can barely stand up. Alleria supports her.

Alleria Windrunner says: I got you. Don’t worry.

The pair emerges into the rain, and Rommath and Kael’thas stand waiting.

Kael'thas Sunstrider says: It’s good to have you back, Velameestra.

Vel nods at him, her exhaustion settling into her limbs.

Alleria gets the satchel--Vel’s satchel--that had been left with her, and extracts one of the vial of blood Vel had collected and holds it out. Vel takes it and immediately gulps it down.

Kael'thas Sunstrider says: I suppose we can head back to the landing now.
Alleria Windrunner says: It wouldn’t be wise for her to ride alone in this state.

Alleria looks down to her niece, who she is still supporting.

Alleria Windrunner says: Would you be alright riding with me?
Kael'thas Sunstrider says: I had another idea, actually.

He holds up his fingers and whistles. There is the sound of wingbeats overhead. Overhead, there is a shadow in the rain. A massive creature soars overhead, and then spirals downward between the tall pines.

As the creature lands, its wingbeats blow the dirt and grime back, flinging beads of water in every direction. There is the sound of sizzling, like the rain was connecting with something hot.

It’s Al’ar. The phoenix. He was different from what he was before, but he was still here. He was almost partially translucent, embering and burning remains of what was left of him forming into an avian entity made of burning coals and ash. Chains cross his flesh, almost searing as if superheated, and as water hits them, the liquid evaporates immediately.

Kael'thas Sunstrider says: We’ll get back quicker this way. So you can begin to recover your strength sooner.

Vel is just staring at Al’ar, somewhat dumbfounded as her tired mind struggles to process the creature in front of her. Wordlessly, she nods.

Alleria looks at Vel and then looks at the phoenix. For a moment, her grip tenses around Vel’s shoulders, but then she releases her.

Alleria Windrunner says: Of course, my king. That’s a smart idea. I’ll meet you back there.

Vel takes a cautious step forward, and Kael’thas reaches out to take her hand. The pair of them levitate upward, and Kael’thas guides Vel onto the phoenix. The creature’s ashen, flaming form does not burn her.

Instinctively, Vel wraps her arms around Kael’thas, as there is nothing else to hold onto.

Al’ar starts to beat his wings once more and takes off into the sky, Rommath and Alleria watching the pair ascend. Rommath grabs the reigns of the two other hawkstriders with them, and he and Alleria ride back into the thick trees beyond the grove.

Even as exhausted and bleary eyed as she is, Vel looks down over the trees. In the far distance, there is the lapping of the waves, and she sees a patrol of elves winding their way up the cliff face. Vengeance Landing stands far in the distance.

Kael'thas Sunstrider says: That was a brave thing you did, Velameestra. I’m impressed.
Velameestra Windrunner says: ...thank you.

She is still staring down at the trees below.

Kael'thas Sunstrider says: How do you feel?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Tired.

There is a soft chuff from Kael’thas.

Kael'thas Sunstrider says: Yes. I suppose that would make sense. Don’t worry. We’ll make sure you are up to your full strength soon. It’s the least we could do for one of our people.

Vel nods into his back, but then realizes he’s not looking at her.

Velameestra Windrunner says: It’s appreciated.

As they fly, some of the clouds suddenly open. Small beams of light trickle down from overhead. One of them opens directly in front of them.

Kael’thas arcs to avoid the beam, but some of it falls upon them, and Vel squints, mentally preparing herself for the worst. The sun’s rays beat upon her and the king.

But she feels no pain.

Kael'thas Sunstrider says: Are you alright, Vel?

There is concern in Kael’thas’s voice. Vel is staring at her arm, where she most definitely was certain the sun had hit.

Velameestra Windrunner says: It… didn’t burn.
Kael'thas Sunstrider says: ...Is that so? Well. Would you look at that.

He holds up a hand, glancing back to his passenger.

Kael'thas Sunstrider says: Neither did I. That I knew. But… I’m impressed. Seems you’ve already begun to adapt. A rare gift.

Vel continues just staring at her arm, which by all rights should have started to burn. The sun didn’t feel good--like the feeling of skin just before it acquired a sunburn--and it was far too bright, but there was no actual damage.

Kael'thas Sunstrider says: After all, I suppose it wouldn’t do for a king that bears the name Sunstrider to burn up in his namesake, would it?

He laughs.

Velameestra Windrunner says: No. It wouldn’t.

They continue flying down to Vengeance Landing.

Seria had appeared on the other side of the tree with Rai and Raava. She is in the jungle, and humidity washes into her lungs. Rai turns to her.

Rai says: Seria you’re here! I’m glad you were able to make it!

Rai throws his arms around Seria. Raava smiles warmly at Seria, waiting as the pair embrace.

Rai says: Oh, Seria. Let me introduce you to my friend! This be Raava.
Raava says: Pleasure to meet you, Seria. Rai told me so much about you. I’m really glad we got to meet in person! You’re important to him, so I’m glad to make your acquaintance.
Rai says: She’s the one that helped me set this all up, ya see?

Seria nods, having not heard of Raava at all.

Raava says: How much do you know about Zandalar? I don’t want to repeat anything ya already know it… Ya know me, once I start talkin’ I probably won’t stop! Um. But I guess ya don’t know me yet. So, uh, that’s a little piece of information about me, I like to talk sometimes.

Seria looks at Rai, who is looking at Raava and kind of giggles, kind of dumb, before he looks back to Seria.

Rai says: Her brother’s a member of the Zanchuli Council. They be the ones that make all the decisions around here. Uh, besides the king of course. They be his closest advisors, and Raal be the hexlord of Pa’ku. He’s kind of a big deal. Uh, so, I mean.

Raava blushes and waves her hand.

Raava says: I mean I’m not that important! I’m just another member of society and all that. But it does help to know a couple people...
Rai says: So, uh… before long, we’re gonna… we’re gonna shoot a message to someone real important. Another member of the council. Her name is Loti, the wardruid I mentioned. We told her we had someone she would like to know. She doesn’t know the whole story yet… but I think that she’ll understand…
Raava says: She… she may be my sister-in-law, but I don’t think she trusts me alright… it should be alright. My brother was busy, but I don’t think he’d mind. Your powers sounded like what the followers of Gonk can do. If you be speaking with the Loa too, that may help out, yeah?
Rai says: So, uh… if that’s alright. If we be lucky, she can get you entrance to where the rest of the Darkspears be. If you wanted to see everyone. I know you might not be very happy with them, but I guess it’s up to you.

Seria nods and shoots Rai another look, inquiring.

Raava says: I know you don’t know me yet, but I think this is a good idea! Loti be a good one. She speaks with the Loa herself. I think if ya explain the situation, she’d understand. I mentioned that much, but she doesn’t know where we are yet… I wanted to make sure it was alright with you first. This is your trip after all, right?
Seria says: It is…
Raava says: So what do ya think?
Seria says: Anything is worth a shot.
Raava says: Let me try to message her!

Raava starts to cast a spell, but then another voice is heard in the trees.

Unexpected Troll says: Won’t be necessary, Raava! If ya think I didn’t follow ya out here, you’d be mistaken.

Another zandalari trolls appears, tall and grumpy looking. She pushes some bushes aside with a staff, and then sticks the staff in the ground.

Unexpected Troll says: Do ya really think ya kids can run around without me knowin’ it?

Both Raava and Rai immediately shrink.

Raava says: Ah, h-hello, wardruid!
Wardruid Loti says: Shut up, Raava. I’m not here as a wardruid, otherwise I need to tell the rest of the council about this. So who you be?

She looms over Seria, looking down at her.

Seria says: My name is Seria.
Wardruid Loti says: Is that so? That was some impressive magic ya being throwin’ around. Ain’t just anyone that can do that. Not bad. Specially for one who ain’t even a full troll.

She looks Seria up and down.

Wardruid Loti says: Last I checked, I didn’t even think the jungle trolls had anyone who could do that. Where ya be learnin’ tricks like that, huh?

There’s a long pause.

Wardruid Loti says: Well, speak up! I don’t have all day. I’m a busy woman. I have a husband to go back to kick the shit out of!
Seria says: My madda taught me.
Wardruid Loti says: And who did your madda learn from?
Seria says: Shan’do Zentabra.
Wardruid Loti says: And what kind of troll uses a darnassian moniker? I don’t suppose you know where she learned, ah?

She leans into Seria’s face.

Seria says: She learned in the dream from Gonk herself.
Wardruid Loti says: Hah! You gotta be kidding from me. I’m the speaker of Gonk! I learned from Gonk. And the dream? Ya sound like a charlatan? You want me to let this one into the city, Raava? Is the type of people your new boyfriend like, we gonna have a problem.

She looks at Raava

Wardruid Loti says: If you’re gonna just sit there and waste my time, I’m gonna get on with my life.

The more Loti gets in her face, the more mad Seria is getting. Seria shape shifts into a bear and roars back in Loti’s face. Spittle splashes Loti’s face, and she grins.

Wardruid Loti says: Well! Looks like the cub got some fangs, ah? Lets see if you can keep up with me!

Loti pushes her away, and her form shifts. The war druid transforms into a massive ravasaur and roars back in Seria’s face, and then starts to sprint off into the jungle.

Wardruid Loti says [telepathically]: Try to keep up, pup!

Seria starts to run as hard as she can after the war druid. Rai and Raava shout at them to wait as they start to run after the duo. She’s struggling to keep up.

The path leads Seria into a patch of sharp vines, which she runs straight into. She roars, and breaks free, tumbling down the small waterfall.

Loti makes a hissing sound which was probably laughter before she runs off again.

Seria gets mad and takes off after Loti again. She is starting to gain on her again, and she gets Loti in her sights. Loti starts to leap across platforms and vines, hopping up a cliff. She sneers down at Seria, before darting into the foliage again.

Seria leaps into the cliff, digging her claws into as she climbs after Loti. Upon reaching the top, she sees Loti slice a vine, which releases a hive, but Seria dodges out of the way, but some sting her.

Loti keeps running, but Seria is gaining on her. She senses magic, and Loti starts to cast a spell in her animal form. The air flickers around Seria, and two dinosaurs--sabertusks--appear out of nothing. The dinosaurs come at Seria, trying to grapple her, but she is able to bat them away.

She is gaining hard on Loti. She reaches forward and tries to pounce on her. Loti spins with Seria, and Seria lands on top of her, but Loti kicks up with her raptor feel and sends her sailing.

Loti jumps on top of Seria and roars in her face, and then she starts to laugh and shifts into her humanoid form.

Wardruid Loti says: That was good, eh! Not bad. Not bad at all!

She gives Seria a good pat before she rolls off and back to her feet.

Booming Voice says: Indeed. Not bad for one who runs with my pack.

There is a deep, reverberating voice.

Seria looks around and shifts out of her bear form, and Loti offers a hand, which Seria takes. Loti heaves her up.

Wardruid Loti says: Not bad at all.

Loti spins Seria around and pats her on her back, before pushing her forward gently.

They are not alone in the grove. They are at the edge of some sort of cave with beautiful jungle flowers. There are vines draped down like curtains.

There are a bunch of raptors and ravasaurs who are sitting down and laying about what appears to be soft flowers. Her attention is drawn to the biggest one.

There is a massive ravasaur looking directly at Seria. He seems to be grinning, and his body is covered in ornamental metal and jewelry. He stands to his full height, tapping a large claw on the ground.

Looming Ravasaur says: Very impressive indeed.

It’s Gonk. The Loa of shapes. The one that taught Zentabra. Seria immediately shows her respect. Gonk hums, satisfied.

Gonk says: Your respect is appreciated, wayward child. You…

He wags a claw in Seria’s direction.

Gonk says: I recognize the scent of your magic. You were taught by Zentabra, weren’t you? I welcome you to my domain. It is… a privilege to finally have one of her students, direct or otherwise, to meet in the flesh. Tell me. How is she doing?
Seria says: Not exactly sure.
Gonk says: I see. It’s a shame you haven’t been in contact recently. Perhaps I will have to visit her in time. I would like to meet her in person, as I have you. Tell me child, what is your name?
Seria says: Seria.
Gonk says: Well, Seria. As far as I am concerned… you belong in this place as much as anyone does. Heritage aside. I smell the elven blood on you, but I don’t particularly care of the politics directly between… they have warred many times. At times I have fought against kin on their behalf or otherwise, but you, you are a child of Zandalar. That much I am certain of. But my word alone only carries so much. My gift… my gift will carry you far. So how about we make a deal, Seria?
Seria says: Yes.
Gonk says: You run with my pack, and I will give you the tools that you need to be a child of Zandalar both within and without. Whenever you choose.

Seria nods, eagerly.

Gonk hums, satisfied, and he reaches out a claw. He presses it against Seria’s forehead, and there’s a pulse of nature magic. Seria blinks.

Gonk says: That should do.

Seria feels something within her. A power, that was there before, but in the presence of Gonk, it was unlocked.

Gonk says: Nurture this gift, and it will take you far. Far, far away from this place, in time. But for now, you’ll be able to run with the pack for as long as you require. In fact, I believe I hear them coming now.

Gonk smiles.

At that moment, both Rai and Raava come through the edge of the clearing.

They look up and see Gonk, and their jaws drop, and they drop to their knees. Gonk laughs.

Loti puts a hand on Seria’s shoulder and squeezes it.

Wardruid Loti says: I hope ya forgive me, I just wanted to see what you were made of. I still think ya got a lot to learn, but we can work on that.

Loti winks.

Wardruid Loti says: And maybe I can meet that teacher or yours so she can see what a real druid looks like, yeah?

Loti looks to Raava and Rai.

Wardruid Loti says: Well, this was fun. But I have things to do, and I should make sure your idiot brother doesn’t burn down the house trying to cook supper, huh?

She looks back to Seria.

Wardruid Loti says: It was good to meet ya Seria. Enjoy your stay.

She holds a hand out, and her staff appears from the ground, and she turns into a pterodactyl and disappears into the sky. Gonk looks to Seria and settles back in amongst the gathered raptors. She feels a bit of a kinship with them. As they make clicking noises, she can understand what they are saying.

They are speaking about the group, mentioning how curious the situation is.

Seria feels a strength within her, as if she can call upon it any time she wants. Gonk is looking at her.

Seria closes her eyes and taps into that power, and she can feel her body shift. It’s similar to her taking the form of a beast, and when she looks down, she sees she’s a full troll. She has troll feet, she has larger tusks, a larger nose. She’s bigger than Rai now.

Raava says: That was amazing!
Gonk says: As long as you are within Zandalar, you should be able to reach my power. In time, my power will become yours. Nurture it, and it will blossom within you.

Seria gets onto her knee again and thanks him.

Gonk says: There is no need to thank me, child. After all, the pack looks out for each other, no matter how far they travel. Run along child, and walk with your head held high.

Seria gets up, and Raava and Rai bow before leaving with Seria. There’s silence for a second, but the further they get with the grove, the more Seria can sense Raava’s desire to ask questions.

Raava says: That was the coolest thing! Can you do that more? Can you look like a zandalari troll?

Seria shrugs, trying to process the questions. Raava continues to buzz about the fact they can go see the City of Gold now.

She starts to run, but slows.

Raava says: Oh. I’m still tired. Lets walk.

After a bit, they start to see the massive, towering pyramids in the distance.

Raava says: There it is! My home.

Seria is in a bit of a daze, and they very quickly find themselves stepping within the expansive ziggurats of the city. It’s a beautiful scene. There are tiers that rise overhead, and trolls of every shape and size wander the streets. No one is giving her side glances, at least not as much as she would receive as a half-troll.

There are other beings too. There are curious turtle-like folk. One of them greets Rai happily. There is a small collection of very short creatures that seem to be bartering wares with passerbys. They appear to be no more than three feet tall, and they appear fox-like.

There is also some of the giants, keeping to themselves--the same type that she had observed her father fighting in the scrying bowl.

It’s almost too much to take in.

Raava buys the group some food, and she offers to buy Seria some outfits if she wants. At some point, Rai approaches her.

Rai says: Um. I leave this one up to you… if you want to see the tribe, but there are plenty of places we can set ya up in. Trust me, some of the inns are very nice. I didn’t think they could make fabric that soft! But if not, I understand.
Seria says: How is Rak?
Rai says: Oh, the big guy? He did split off. We found some others of his kind. We might find him at the embassies if ya want to pop in?

Seria nods.

Rai says: Sure! We should avoid the gurubashi… I don’t want us to get into trouble, and it’s possible my sister may be there, so we’ll go to the dark troll section. It’s not very big.

They head off, and their calves are burning from the climbing. As they are walking, something catches Seria’s eye. Down one of the alleyways, she sees a strike of red hair. She double-takes.

She sees an older jungle troll down one of the busy, crowded streets. He fades in and out through the massive bodies. He looks back at Seria.

It’s Vol’jin. He turns, and then he’s gone.

Seria had started to walk in that direction.

Rai says: Seria! Seria, we should stay together! Wait!

Raava and Rai follows after Seria.

Rai says: What’s wrong?

Seria looks at Rai for a second.

Seria says: You’re gonna think I’m crazy, but I swear I saw yer father.
Rai says: You saw him too? I have seen him. Not this time. Maybe I’m not crazy. Where did he go?

Seria points in the direction she had seen Vol'jin, and the trio takes off.

Seria sees Vol'jin again. He keeps dipping in and out of view. Vol'jin turns and looks at them, and then disappears into the edge of a building.

Rai says: Wait, wait Seria. We shouldn’t go in there. That’s the gurubashi embassy. I followed him here once too… but I don’t think it’s good for us to go in there.
Perturbed Troll says: Hey! Out of the way.

They turn and see a jungle troll. He’s youngish, maybe in his late 20s or early 30s. He looks somewhat bored, and has greenish blue hair. He is dressed simply.

Perturbed Troll says: You’re blocking the entrance. I don’t want ya getting run over.

He sees Rai.

Perturbed Troll says: You again? I told ya to stay out of the embassy.

The troll sighs.

Rai says: Sorry, Yenniku. We should go, Seria.

A voice shouts for Yenniku, and the troll sighs and heads in. Rai and Seria puts some distance between themselves and the embassy, but they no longer see Vol’jin.

Rai says: Sorry. I kind of ran into him once, and he broke the slates he was carrying. He told me to stay out. He probably thinks you’re with me now… which ya are.

Raava catches up to them.

Raava says: Is everything alright? You kind of took off there? The Shadowtooth embassy is this way, if you wanted to try and find your friend?

Seria looks at Rai.

Seria says: I’ll be right back.

She goes back to the embassy and steps in. She doesn’t see Vol’jin anywhere. She sees Yenniku, and he sees her.

Yenniku says: You again? We don’t want troublemakers, and if you’re with that twitchy one, I don’t want ya messing anything up here.
Seria says: I’m not here to cause trouble.
Yenniku says: Then what do you want?
Seria says: I saw a red-head troll walk in here.

Yenniku looks around and he points at a red-haired troll that seemed to be scribing something on a document.

Yenniku says: She came in. But she’s the only one. If this is a prank, I don’t want it. Your friend out there already got me in enough trouble with my boss man.
Seria says: I’m not here to cause problems.
Yenniku says: Well, if you’re looking for someone, I don’t think they’re here.

Seria looks around once more, but then relents that Vol’jin doesn’t seem to be there.

Yenniku says: If ya want to file a missing person’s report… I can get you the slate for it, but… maybe ya should just drink some water. The air can get to you. Who are you? I’ve never seen ya around here. I don’t know everyone, but.
Seria says: A new arrival.

Yenniku welcomes her and tells her to stay away from the upper echelons, and that she should leave before he gets in the trouble. At that moment, he gets a call, and Yenniku rolls his eyes.

Yenniku says:: Like clockwork. Coming!

He goes into the back, and Seria leaves.

Rai says: Did ya find anything?

Seria shakes her head and Rai’s shoulders sink.

Rai says: Maybe we’re both just crazy, eh?
Raava says: Lets go check out the Shadowtooth embassy, ah?

They head towards the embassy.