[Alliance] Chapter Four: Session Four

Appearing Characters: A'dlaess Whitespire, Aramar Thorne, Asya, Berna, Broll Bearmantle, Ceyhan, Elissa Cross, Makasa Flintwill, Ravak Grimtotem, Remnii, Riff, Ruya, Samaara, Seria, Syeori Sunwalker, Tae'shara Sunwatcher, Tansu, Tol'vas Moonshadow, Uther Menethil, Velameestra Windrunner, Wulf

May 28th (Day)

The full moon is going to be rising that night, an event that Tol’vas reminded the group of. However, first off, the group opts to talk to the skull Tae’shara and Vel had uncovered.

Remnii reaches out with her gold magic, and a rune appears above the skull, and a soft gold glow emanates in the sockets of the skull.

Aramar looks incredibly interested.

Remnii says [tongues]: Hello. What was your name?

The skull’s jaw opens as it speaks, and a limited existence seems to awaken in its eyes.

Worn Skull says [darnassian]: A'dlaess Whitespire.
Remnii says [tongues]: And what was the name of this settlement?
Skull of A'dlaess Whitespire says [darnassian]: Wishes’s Respite.
Remnii says [tongues]: What was the cause of your death?
Skull of A'dlaess Whitespire says [darnassian]: In-fighting. Drought. Starvation. Betrayal.
Remnii says [tongues]: What business did you fail to complete in your life? What kept you here?
Skull of A'dlaess Whitespire says [darnassian]: We couldn’t stop the fighting. We couldn’t find an answer. Couldn’t hide. Couldn’t adapt.

Remnii looks to the rest of the group.

Remnii says [tongues]: We have a few more questions.
Velameestra Windrunner says: We could ask what caused the in-fighting? Or who was their betrayer?
Remnii says [tongues]: Or what answer they were looking for…

She looks back to the skull.

Remnii says [tongues]: Who was the betrayer?
Skull of A'dlaess Whitespire says [darnassian]: Ourselves, and the rest of the kaldorei. We were exiled, and then we destroyed ourselves.

There’s a heavy sigh before Remnii relates the darnassian answer to the rest.

Remnii says [tongues]: You were seeking answers, but what was the question?
Skull of A'dlaess Whitespire says [darnassian]: How to survive. How to hide. How to eat. How to drink. To seek revenge, or to seek coexistence. A thousand questions to no answer.
Remnii says [tongues]: What calendar year was it when you died?
Skull of A'dlaess Whitespire says [darnassian]: The Exodus… after the War of the Satyr. We were exiled. Sought refuge. A few centuries in peace, a fourth in suffering.

Remnii relays that as the magic fades from the skull.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Perhaps another faction of highborne that were not with Dath’remar.
Tae'shara Sunwatcher says: That’s… fascinating. You have to wonder why they stayed? Did they just choose not to? Did they miss the boat? Now I’m the one with a thousand questions. And if they was there, that could mean there might be more. Somewhere.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Perhaps somewhere more hospitable than a desert. But.

Vel carefully picks up the skull.

Velameestra Windrunner says: I’m going to go bury this.

Tae’shara and Tol’vas go over to help her do so, and Tol’vas offers a few words of reverence as they return the rest of the bones to the earth. Tae’shara marks the area on her report.

Tae'shara Sunwatcher says: Alright, so what’s the plan. Are we going to keep moving, or are we going to wait and try to ride out… certain night time passions you might say.

Tol’vas rolls his eyes.

Tol'vas Moonshadow says:' Whatever you think is best. I should be able to handle it.

Vel suggests that they stay in the area as the nymphs cleared out the undead and the living have likely not bothered the area for some time, and if he doesn’t transition, they could keep moving.

Uther agrees and Remnii offers holing up in the tiny hut, which the group agrees that’s the best idea.

Tol’vas mentions he knows himself and if he can’t get anywhere, he will likely hunt elsewhere, but he imagines he wouldn’t be able to get into trouble in an area like this. In the hours leading up to it, Tae’shara is spending time marking locations and excavating. She grabbed Aramar a few times to help, and then Uther also grabbed Aramar to train with him a bit as was requested.

In the process, he is able to teach Aramar how to use the spell bless. He’s reasonably good at sword fighting, though it’s clear he didn’t have any formal training. The diamond blade he wields is very unique. At some point, Makasa also got involved. She is a better fighter than Aramar.

However, it’s clear that Aramar is not best when fighting at the head--he’s better with a group serving as a support fighter.

At some point, Tae’shara found some runes, and it was discovered Aramar could read them for some reason.

Makasa, meanwhile, is good at taking down individual targets. She and Aramar make a very good team.

At some point, Vel and Aramar happen to be getting water at the same time.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Ah. By the way, Aramar?
Aramar Thorne says: Yeah, what’s up Vel? Ah… is it alright if I call you Vel?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Yeah, it’s fine.
Aramar Thorne says: Ah. Good!
Velameestra Windrunner says: You… were you sketching that moth a few days ago?
Aramar Thorne says: Oh, yeah!

Aramar heads over to his things and grabs his sketchbook and flips through it.

Aramar Thorne says: Here we go.

He holds the sketchbook out to Vel to present the drawing of the moth. Vel examines it for a moment in consideration.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Would… you mind if I copied this?
Aramar Thorne says: Uh yeah, sure. Do you want me to make a copy for you? I’m perfectly fine with that. Or you could just take this. I can make another one later.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Are… you sure?
Aramar Thorne says: Yeah!

He tears the sheet out of the sketchbook and hands it to her.

Aramar Thorne says: I can sketch it again later. I’ve got a pretty good memory for this type of stuff.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Thanks. I… thought my brother would like to see it.
Aramar Thorne says: Yeah, probably! He seemed like he likes stuff like that.

Vel tucks the drawing into the back of her spellbook and then procures a gold coin that he then holds out to Aramar.

Aramar Thorne says: Oh. You don’t have to do that.
Velameestra Windrunner says: It’s a skill. You deserve to be compensated for it.
Aramar Thorne says: Alright, alright, if you’re gonna twist my arm about it.

He accepts the coin.

Aramar Thorne says: Hey, if you want, I could try to make extra copies for some of the other things we find. So you could make a little collage for him when we get back.
Velameestra Windrunner says: If… you don’t mind.
Aramar Thorne says: Yeah, no, absolutely! Um, Elissa knew him better. I’ll get with her and see what we can put together for him. Make him a little coming home present, you know?
Velameestra Windrunner says: Yeah. I’d think he’d like that. Which, uh… if you ever need any other sparring partners… my technique is different than Uther’s. It can sometimes be good to get different… takes?
Aramar Thorne says: Yeah, you’re telling me. You, uh, no offence, but when we fought together last time, I didn’t know you could pull out stuff like that.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Magic’s a useful tool.
Aramar Thorne says: You’re telling me.

He conjures a small spark of light in his hand.

Aramar Thorne says: But yeah, I’d like that. I’d like to see some of those skills first hand.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Consider it a trade then. For the collage.
Aramar Thorne says: Sounds good!

Vel nods and returns to whatever research she had been pursuing, while Aramar takes a swig of water and gets up to return to sparring or whatever else he was being roped into.

Tae’shara had definitely also taken a break to watch Aramar and Uther duke it out in the sand.

Remnii approaches Samaara, who is target shooting into a bedroll.

Samaara says: I’m almost back to where I used to be.
Remnii says: Your skills have always been able to impress.
Samaara says: Adapting to firing a bow with less fingers is a lot harder than you might think.
Remnii says: That doesn’t surprise me, though my combat skills are lacking.
Samaara says: I actually learned a fair bit by watching Seria. An unexpected boon. You look like you have something on your mind, Remnii?
Remnii says: I do. Also, I think you and Seria have more in common. You both appreciate silence.
Samaara says: She does seem reserved.
Remnii says: There is a difference. You can smile. I hope someday she will realize no one here will hurt here. This is a world of differing ideologies.

Samaara glances in Seria’s direction.

Samaara says: True. She strikes me as someone who has been alone for a long time. She will open up in time, perhaps.
Remnii says: She will let us know. But, walk with me for a moment?
Samaara says: Of course.

Samaara puts her bow over her shoulder and follows after Remnii.

Remnii says: Samaara. I know I have made some interesting decisions in the last year or so.
Samaara says: That is certainly one way to put it, yes.
Remnii says: Interesting can be taken with a grain of salt.
Samaara says: There is plenty around.
Remnii says: Humor me by answering this honestly. I expect criticism at points, and it’s hard to feel like I’m making the correct choice if I am damned if I do, or damned if I don’t. Do you trust me?

Samaara stops and looks at her.

Samaara says: Remnii, you and I have been through much. I know we are not exceptionally close before everything changed on Draenor. Before the war. I know I know you as well now as my sister would. You are a better person than you were then. We all are. I believe you are many things, Remnii. You are kind. You are careful. At times, you are incredibly naïve. At times you are optimistic. Sometimes to a fault. But if there is anything you are, it’s trustworthy. You are many things to me. To Yrel, you are her best friend, her sister, and I see you in kind, Remnii. There is a reason that I turned back with Yrel. Back so many years ago. I sought to protect you as much as I sought to protect her. Yes, I thought you made a critical mistake on that day, but we would not be here if you had not. I still followed you. So fear not. I will give you as much criticism as I deem necessary, but likewise, I will follow you regardless of if you take my advice. I am not always right, even if I wish to pretend I was.
Remnii says: Don’t we all? Thank you. I have learned a number of things since I have set hoof on this world that make me wonder if I am making the right choices for the right reasons. But I wish to tell you something. But I am… nervous. I have a budding plan to perhaps gain Yrel back.

Samaara’s brow raises.

Samaara says: I can already tell I’m not going to like this, but I will listen, and I will keep it secret if it needs to be.
Remnii says: It has to be.

Samaara nods.

Remnii says: In those long talks I have had another conversation. Do you remember when I told you a demon was seeking me? I spoke with him. At length.
Samaara says: The same one who… Arthak was in communication with? Rakeesh?
Remnii says: Yes. It was only confirmed by him…

Remnii struggles to speak, and she is not making eye contact.

Remnii says: I may, from the White Tyrant, I may be able to win Yrel back. She had a daughter at one point.
Samaara says: Other than Aracyra?
Remnii says: Before Argus fell. Before they made their escape. She was close to Nuuri. Velen’s mate.
Samaara says: And you know of this daughter?
Remnii says: I know what happened to her. I believe she believes that daughter perished. So hopefully that will become news… that daughter would be a half-sister to Aracyra because… that would be Archimonde’s child.

Samaara’s brow raises again.

Samaara says: I can see why that would be monumental. You speak as if this child is still alive. Do you know where she is?

There’s a very long look at Samaara, and then Remnii nods slowly.

Remnii says: It appears that… I am that child.

Something clicks in Samaara’s face.

Samaara says: I see.
Remnii says: The Prophet Velen is not my biological father. I expected to cry more, but I think I had enough about that. It does not change my perspective, my goals. It does not change of who I am, but it changes the scope of things I need to worry about. A demon knows this information intimately.
Samaara says: And if he tells the wrong people…
Remnii says: He painted himself as someone very interested in meeting me. I assume if I do not meet him on my terms, he will make it on his terms. I have a limited amount of time, but I need our people to continue to trust me. And I’m afraid… I intend to see Velen’s Army of Light prophecy brought forth however I can. But I am afraid of what that means for me. It changes nothing, yet it shapes everything.
Samaara says: Remnii, no matter what, you are still you, and you know that. Master Velen… may not be your father, but he is nothing if not compassionate. I am certain he still loves you, and I am certain that if you are half the person you are, if you can show that to everyone, no one will prosecute you for the circumstance of your birth. Many of us have family members we left behind or turned against us. Family that was torn apart by the betrayal of Kil’jaeden and Archimonde.
Remnii says: And I anticipate this will not be able to stay quiet forever, but I somehow felt like I was lying to you by not telling you. I would like this--in time, not now--as leverage with Shaspira before this gets out on not my terms.
Samaara says: I don’t know if this is wise, but I will not stop you. If you make any moves, let me help you. She is my sister, and even though you feel closer to her than I ever will be, she is all I have left of my father.
Remnii says: I will never dream of leaving you out of anything…

Samaara steps forward and gives her a hug, and then Remnii starts to cry.

Remnii says: I was trying very very hard not to cry the entire time. Thank you for not hating me.
Samaara says: If anyone judges you for this, point them at me. I will set them straight.
Remnii says: I am not intending on telling anyone for some time… in time I want to tell the party. Vel and Uther… as long as I am with them it will come for them. Uther already died for me once…
Samaara says: I will be with you, whatever you choose to do.
Remnii says: If I say more I will continue crying. But, I love you Samaara. Thank you for being my family.
Samaara says: I would not be here without you.

Samaara takes Remnii’s hand, and they stay in quiet for a moment before they go back.

That night, the group waits for the sun to set. As it starts to ease down, Tol’vas begins to pace.

Tol'vas Moonshadow says: Alright, we should get ready. Everyone get in that mystic bubble thing. I’ll stay close and we’ll handle this.

Vel nods and she erects the tiny hut, cutting Tol’vas outside. They wait with baited breath as the sun disappears further and further, and the twin moons begin to emerge in the sky. As it reaches its zenith, Tol’vas looks away from the moon.

The people who have never seen a worgen transform are on the edge of their seats.

Tol’vas starts to sweat and pant, and he closes his eyes. He starts to curse in darnassian, and slowly but slowly, he starts to lose the fight against the wolf inside of him. He drops to his knees, his hands on the ground, and a thin layer of dark, almost violet fur covers his arms. His body elongates, and within a moment, the night elf outside is gone, and is instead replaced with the hulking form of a worgen.

He gets up and sniffs the air, then releases a howl. His bright eyes loom on the dome, and he paces around it, a feral look on his face. His tattoo is visible beneath his fur.

He claws and bites at the dome, but eventually he loses interest, and he howls once again before he lopes off on all fours into the canyon.

Elissa Cross says: No matter how many times I watch that, it’s simultaneously horrifying and a bit fascinating.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Things can be both.

Elissa nods.

Velameestra Windrunner says: But, looks like we’re going to camp here. He can hopefully find his way back, and we can leave in the morning.
Elissa Cross says: Yeah.

They hear howls throughout the night, but nothing bothers them.

May 29th

The next morning, Remnii sends Tol’vas. For a moment, there’s no response, and then there’s just a groan.

Remnii says: I got a gurgling back?

The sound seemed like more than exhaustion. There was discomfort.

Remnii says: Tol’vas is… encumbered somehow. There was a hint of something else in that groan.
Uther Menethil says: I don’t much care for the sound of that. We should go search for him.

Seria pulls out her scrying bowl.

Remnii says: Good idea!

Remnii sends Tol’vas again, and tells him to not resist any magic, as they are going to scry him. There is another groan in response.

As Seria peers into the bowl, the image of Tol’vas appears. He is in his elven form, and his arms and wrists seem to be tied with hempen rope, and he appears to be tied across the back of a horse. Or rather, a centaur.

There seems to be a small group of centaurs laden with weapons and armor. They are riding through the canyon, talking and laughing in a language they don’t recognize.

Uther Menethil says: Do we have any idea what direction that is?
Samaara says: I can probably try to follow his tracks and we can hope for the best. It seems they are heading north from the direction of the shadows.
Uther Menethil says: No time to waste, we ride.
Samaara says: Alright, lets try to make some ground.

Samaara looks to Seria and nods, indicating they are going to work together. Fortunately, Tol’vas was not exactly subtle as a wolf, and they immediately pick up on his trail. It’s a cool day, with some cloud cover, which helps to shield them from the heat of the sun.

Very quickly they find signs of conflict. Blood, and the corpse of a centaur, who looks like he had his throat ripped out. There are horse tracks heading off in multiple different directions. They continue north, but then they begin to hear the sound of heavy galloping, and they see a cloud of dust. In the distance, there is a single figure--a tauren with a heavy spear on his back and light traveling clothes. There is a cloth scarf over the lower half of his massive face. He did not seem to see the group, but he ducks behind a spire as the centaur split off after him.

Judging from the war paint Vel had glimpsed in the scrying, it seems this may be the same group as the ones that had Tol’vas.

Velameestra Windrunner says: This may be the same group as the ones with Tol’vas.

Uther makes an exasperated noise, and then veers Radiant off towards where they saw the tauren. The group follows, and they see the situation. The centaur are starting to gain on the tauren. The tauren seems to be running towards a dead end.

A column of centaur veer off, wrapping around to close on the group.

Elissa Cross says: What’s the plan? We don’t want to get surrounded!

The group agrees to make their stand in order to not leave the tauren to die. Seria is able to get a sense of how many are around them.

Elissa, Samaara, Tae’shara, and Riff work on keeping centaur off their flanks as Makasa and Aramar work to aid the group more directly.

The tauren up ahead is able to get up on the first level of the dead end, but up at the top of the canyon, a dozen more centaurs appear, weapons and armor drawn.

Their leader laughs, and a barrage of arrows launch down to the group. Seria loops through the arrows, dodging between them.

The tauren looks down at the group, not sure what their game is, but acknowledges that they seem to be trying to help him as he whips around with his spear.

As the centaurs start to close, Makasa hits one of the centaur with her harpoon. Seria swoops up to the top of the cliff face. She banks by the apparent leader and the mystic near him, releasing a gout of flame. They cry out and attempt to get out of the way, but they are clipped by the spell. However the archers turn to assault the massive flying monster that attacked their leader.

The tauren is getting bombarded by another centaur, and he is sent to the edge of the cliff--narrowly avoiding falling over the lip.

Uther rides forward on Radiant, and Radiant manages to kick one of the centaurs in the face. The centaur spits bloody phlegm on the ground as he shouts something likely crass at Uther’s direction.

The centaur leader fires a spray of arrows at Seria with a battle cry. The mystic also turns to Seria and twists his hands. A hard coating of sand covering his flesh vanishes, and a beam of moonlight appears over Seria before they duck behind some of its fellows. Seria was able to recognize it as the moonbeam spell.

Another archer shoots at Vel, but she is effortlessly able to dodge around the arrows. Aramar casts bless on several of his allies.

A centaur drops down on the tauren and hits him to the ground, then begins to try and stomp on him.

Vel curses beneath her breath as she whips her sword out, ambient magic radiating around the blade as she starts her bladesong. As she loops around the bottom of the column, she raises her other hand momentarily, a cone of frigid energy ripping through the stampeding horde of centaurs. Three of them are coated in ice and freeze immediately while the rest are battered by the icy winds and shards of ice.

She then turns her eyes on the centaur that is attacking the tauren, racing to back him up.

Then Remnii uses cause fear on some of the ones that remain. Her eyes and darken and wisps of shadow energy eminent from her.

Remnii says: Begone from this place!

There is a pulse, and abject fear washes over three of the centaurs that remain, wisps of shadow wafting from their eyes as they immediately throw down their weapons and start to run.

Uther looks to Remnii and gives her a tip of a hat motion, before hurling a firebolt at another centaur. He follows up with a lightning lure, but the centaur is able to resist the magic. A centaur closes on Remnii.

The leader points at Vel and points, shouting a battle cry that likely equates to “GET THE WIZARD”. They start to rain arrows on Vel, but she dodges between one and deflects the other with shield.

At that moment, Seria sees commotion as someone bursts onto the battlefield. It’s Tol’vas, running across the ground with two other centaurs chasing him. It appears he was able to get free.

Seria flies over to the clustered group of centaurs with the mystic and archers, spouting another gout of flame as she then banks and moves back to Tol’vas.

Another flurry of arrows go for Vel, but they are unable to land a hit as a melee fighter closes with her.

Radiant kicks another centaur, and the centaur curses at the horse.

Radiant says [telepathically]: Ser Uther. Do you have any idea what he’s saying to me?
Uther Menethil says: No, but I imagine it’s something crass.
Radiant says [telepathically]: How rude.

The feared centaurs start to sprint away from the battle.

The centaur continues to try and kick in the tauren, but the tauren manages to take a good hit and shoves him off, knocking him to the ground next to Vel.

Vel smirks, seeing enemies are closing in on her, and magic wraps around her hand before coursing up her arm and then exploding beneath her as she uses frost aura. She releases the roiling cold snap inside her, exasperating the storm as blood begins to drip from her eyes.

Meanwhile, Uther slams his hammer into a nearby centaur, caving in the man’s body and carrying through to the second one next to him.

Makasa backs up to help Vel as, despite the snowstorm, the mage is still surrounded. She manages to strike into the centaur closest to her.

The mystic moves his moonbeam over Seria, and then starts to ride away from her as they use a healing word on themselves.

Another arrow fires at Vel, but it is shot off track by the cold snap and hits the nearby warrior, who curses. The second shot also misses.

One of the other centaurs jumps to the top of the cliff, but sees Tol’vas. With a battle cry, he shoots at the escaped captive.

The leader sprints beneath Seria and starts to unload shots up at Seria, and then at Tol’vas. Seria is knocked out of her form, and the leader laughs, circling around her prone form.

One of the centaurs tries to spike Remnii, but she is able to stumble and dodge around him. Then his strike with his hooves clangs off her bracers from Azgadaan.

Tol’vas erects a unicorn totem, and then he uses rejuvenation on himself.

Aramar hits the centaur next to Remnii, and then knocks him prone. He then action surges and drives his blade into the centaur a second time, while also casting spiritual weapon, which also swings into the centaur.

Seria is hit by a stab of a pike from another centaur.

Remnii uses healing word, and tries to smite the centaur closest to her, but it is able to avoid the flare of holy light.

The tauren gets to his feet and then starts to climb up the cliffs and ladders again. There is a faint smirk, and he puts a hand over his chest in gratitude to the group of them.

Another centaur goes for Tol’vas, but his attacks both miss, instead destroying a stone.

Makasa jumps on the back of the centaur closest to her, and stabs her harpoon through its chest. She and Vel exchange a nod, before she starts to jump up the cliffside.

But then there is the sound of a war horn, and from the northern section of the cliff, more centaurs approach. But these ones are women, while the ones they were fighting were all men.

The centaur woman in the front appears to be the leader, and she raises a hand and spits in a language to her people. Immediately, the male centaurs balk.

She then looks down to the group and begins to speak, and a second centaur appears to translate.

Centaur Translator says: Honored travelers, we are sorry that our foolish warband attacked you. They will be punished for daring to raise a hand against a woman. Please, lower your weapons. The impervious warleader Tansu wishes to speak.

Everyone lowers their weapons, and Vel shuts down her cold snap.

Centaur Translator says: Leader Tansu, who has ridden down a thousand suns so they may glitter in the sky eternal, would ask what you all are doing here?

Remnii casts tongues on herself, and she hears several centaurs muttering about how they should have paid more attention to who they were fighting.

Uther Menethil says: We are travelers from very far away. We are moving north.

The leader starts to laugh, and speaks to her others (which Remnii can now understand).

Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: What women has their men speak for them?
Uther Menethil says: What are they saying?

Remnii puts her hand on Uther’s shoulder.

Remnii says [tongues]: They are laughing because a man is speaking for the group.
Uther Menethil says: I don’t suppose you’d be willing to speak then?

Remnii lightly chuckles and nods.

Remnii says [tongues]: We are seeking to reunite with my people.
Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: Then you shall have whatever aid you require! You come at a serendipitous time, travelers! Zyein’s gaze has fallen upon us, and it is time for the Matriarch’s great departure! Please, allow us to make it up to you for the terrible dissatisfaction in raising our blades! Please, come, sup, feast, fuck! Whatever you would wish to do amongst our people! But there is something else I would ask of you.

The translator continues to translate for the rest and, notably, she seems to clean up the language a bit by removing curses and adding more titles.

Tansu looks at Uther and smirks.

Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: Considering the display, pitiful as it was from my own champions, I would ask you. What could we offer you in exchange to these men with you?
Centaur Translator says: Warleader Tansu wishes to exchange goods or services for your men, so that they could fight for her, and she could earn the favor of the matriarch.

All the champion centaur around them realize how much they fucked up.

Remnii says [tongues]: May I also ask that we meet on common ground, first and foremost, before we continue?
Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: Of course!

She gestures to come up, and then looks down to the male centaurs.

Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: Take the long way around, and release the others from their icy prisons so they are left as a feast to the sky.

Tansu walks over to Seria, who had been approached by Riff, and says something Seria can’t understand.

Centaur Translator says: Is this one your spawn?

Seria nods, pulling Riff closer to her.

Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: She’s protective of her child. That is admirable, even if he was born a man.
Centaur Translator says: Fear not, he will be at no threat while he is with our people. We would never separate a mother from her child.

The rest of the group climbs up to the head of the cliff.

Vel and Remnii are discussing as they go up, as clearly they are not going to sell the men in the group. Vel suggests to her that, provided the boys are alright with it, they could offer them temporarily specifically just to fight.

Remnii agrees that she was thinking along the same way, and she could use the fact Uther is engaged as reason for him to not be partaken of in any other way. Unfortunately, Aramar and Tol’vas do not have the same excuse.

Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: There, now we all bask equally in the light! Perhaps we may speak on even grounds.

Remnii nods, her and Vel still engaged in their brief aside, but then the translator interjects.

Centaur Translator says: A thousand apologies, but the warleader would like to know… is he with you?

While the talks were going on, the tauren had slipped away and had started to run.

Centaur Translator says: If so, you may wish to collect him.

Remnii looked to Vel.

Remnii says [tongues]: Do you have your resources available still?
Velameestra Windrunner says [thalassian]: ...yes. It would likely be better if we collect him.
Remnii says [tongues]: Tol’vas, Aramar, would you care to join her on the retrieval of our friend?

Tol’vas says nothing, shifts into a wolf, and immediately starts to run after the tauren, followed by Aramar. Vel, however, dimension doors ahead of them, and she finds the tauren trying to disguise himself in the rocks. Tol’vas catches up soon after.

Grim Tauren says [taur-ahe]: Shit.

The tauren takes his pike and holds it out at Vel, ready to fight.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Do the speak the traveler’s tongue?

The tauren huffs, clearly not understanding, and he backs up looking like he’s getting ready to book it.

Tol’vas shifts back to his kaldorei form.

Grim Tauren says [taur-ahe]: What do you want?

Tol’vas opts to translate.

Velameestra Windrunner says: We’re trying to help you, otherwise they’re going to ride you down.

The tauren expresses he has somewhere he needs to be, and it’s not here.

Velameestra Windrunner says: Where are you headed?
Grim Tauren says [taur-ahe]: Darkcloud Pinnacle.

Tol’vas has no idea where that is.

Grim Tauren says [taur-ahe]: And you would be wise to let me go. I have no desire to act as a tour guide for outsiders.
Tol'vas Moonshadow says [taur-ahe]: We’re not asking you to act as a tour guide, we’re just trying to help you also escape.

The tauren huffs just as Aramar arrives.

Aramar Thorne says: You know, that’s a lot harder to do with two legs.
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: Have you ever thought about growing extra legs?
Aramar Thorne says: I’ll get right on that.
Velameestra Windrunner says: Look. We have two options. Either you get what protection you can with us while we pass through this area, or we can try to buy you time, but they will probably come chasing after you. We could say we lost you.
Aramar Thorne says: We’re just trying to help him get out right?

Vel and Tol’vas nod and Aramar puts his hands up.

Aramar Thorne says: Look, we’re all in a bind here. We’re just trying to help out.

Tol’vas continues to translate. The tauren exhales and looks at Tol’vas.

Grim Tauren says [taur-ahe]: Look. You saved my life back there. Those warrior women would have dragged my ass back to their pens to play. If you’re the only shot I have, alright. But once we reach the Pinnacle, that’s it, understood? I guarantee you won’t be killed by the Grimtotem clan, but that’s the best I can do. If this is some sort of trick, I will gut all of you.
Tol'vas Moonshadow says [taur-ahe]: Why would this be a trick?
Grim Tauren says [taur-ahe]: I don’t know. Kaldorei.

The group returns with the tauren.

Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: It is a short ride to the clans of clans Sadak. We would be more than happy to give you a lift. After all, you are cursed with only two legs, it seems.
Remnii says [tongues]: I am not a warrior. He serves as my protector. He is promised to another. His people take their bonds very seriously.
Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: I see. So he is merely your protector for the time being. I understand. A shame.

Tansu runs her hand through his hair.

Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: He has quite beautiful eyes. A shame you won’t be able to keep him. I’ve never seen this hair color before. It’s bright like the sun.
Remnii says [tongues]: We travel with few men for good reason.
Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: Of course!
Remnii says [tongues]: But each serves their function. I would not wish to do you any dishonor, and I wish to respect your customs as I come from very far away. But losing them would be a detriment in the way of travel, as we are going beyond the Barrens, thus we need what muscles we have.
Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: You are brave. We keep to these canyons. These sacred places, where the light of Zyein shines upon us. Then, another offer. If you will not exchange your men, would you grant them to us that they might fight on my behalf so I may earn the blessing of the High Matriarchs. This is important, and after the solemn thrashing, I would not compromise my ability. It is very important.
Remnii says [tongues]: I would like to take appropriate counsel with my fellows.
Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: Of course! Regardless, I would see you to my settlement. I would not set you off on this dangerous matter.
Remnii says [tongues]: Thank you for your hospitality. If you just give us a moment.
Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: Take your time. We need to make sure the men are properly disciplined.

Remnii turns away a bit shook, and gets Uther to come along as she meets with the rest of the group.

Meanwhile, Tansu is walking back and forth scolding the men for their abysmal performance. Remnii hear reference to 'gelding' which made her wince.

Remnii explains to the rest of what the situation is and she apologizes to the tauren, explaining that the centaur had full intention of killing him.

Grim Tauren says [taur-ahe]: Of course they did.

The translator then approaches the group and speaks after ensuring Tansu is distracted.

Centaur Translator says: A clarification, we only need three. Please agree to this. I promise I will make sure no harm comes to your men, and I will ensure your freedom.

She then bows her head and heads back to her warleader.

Remnii says [tongues]: She seemed truthful. What do you think?
Grim Tauren says [taur-ahe]: I’m a scout first, a warrior second. I don’t know how well I’d be able to fight, but I will if I have to.
Uther Menethil says: It appears in this place, I am little more than property. So as my custodian, I defer to you.
Remnii says: I also want to make sure you are comfortable, Uther. We do work differently. And they are asking us to respect their customs, but given certain situations, boundaries should be set.
Aramar Thorne says: I mean. If you guys are down, I’m down.
Uther Menethil says: I believe it’s a good idea. I’m worried about what she might do to me if we anger them.
Remnii says [tongues]: You don’t want to hear what they are saying.
Aramar Thorne says: What about you, big guy?
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: It sounds like we all want to do this…
Aramar Thorne says: I mean, with a member of the legendary Death Adders on our team, no reason to lose, right?

Aramar smirks at Uther, and Riff gleefully gives the Death Adder gesture, which Uther does back to him.

Remnii says [tongues]: So, shall I tell them yes?
Aramar Thorne says: And looks like if we don’t want to, we can make the big guy do it.

The tauren huffs, realizing he is being spoken about.

Remnii says [tongues]: Speaking of which, what’s your name?
Grim Tauren says [taur-ahe]: Ravak Grimtotem.
Remnii says [tongues]: Grimtotem?
Uther Menethil says: Curiouser and curiouser.
Remnii says [tongues]: By the way, if anyone asks questions. Uther, you are my bodyguard. Tol’vas, you are our guide. Ravak, you are our scout for now. Aramar…
Velameestra Windrunner says: Aramar is our mapper. Simple.
Aramar Thorne says: I am good at cartography.
Remnii says [tongues]: Perfect. Are we ready?

The group nods then goes back to meet Tansu.

Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: Well, travelers? What do you think.
Remnii says [tongues]: We have come to an accord.

She looks at Vel and Seria for emphasis as well as Samaara.

Remnii says [tongues]: We can contribute three of our men to your fight.

Tansu smiles.

Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: Excellent! I am glad to hear it. With fighters like you on our side, there’s no way that snake of my sister will come up on top. You too will of course be rewarded! In addition to the hospitality, we will do everything we can to make your stay comfortable. Please, if you have any need of anything, tell me, not my sister.
Remnii says [tongues]: Thank you for having us and allowing us to pass through your sacred lands.
Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: Of course! It’s a celebration! The thought of harming women in the zenith of Zyein’s gaze is aberrant. Please.

She bends down.

Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: Let me give you a ride to our village.

Several other female warriors approach the other women in the group.

Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: You three.

She looks at her former champions.

Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: You will carry your replacements.

Meanwhile, the tauren is left without a ride, and Elissa approaches him.

Elissa Cross says: Um. You can ride her?

She points at her horse as Remnii translates. He looks at the horse.

Ravak Grimtotem says [taur-ahe]: Hm. It’s like them. But without the annoying bits.

All the women get on the lady centaurs, and Vel looks at the back of the woman she had mounted, who gestures for her to hold on.

Vel exhales and slowly wraps her arms around the woman’s waist, who shrieks quietly, expressing to her fellows that Vel was freezing and also her nipples were getting hard as a result. The other lady warriors cackle.

Uther remains on Radiant, and the champion gestures to himself, but Uther chooses to stay on his mount.

Tansu asks Remnii if this is okay.

Remnii says [tongues]: It brings him comfort when he is so far from his mate.

Tansu nods.

Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: Hm. How sweet. I hope he’s her favorite.

They then take off across the plains and start to approach the village of Clan Sadak. Meanwhile, Remnii is asking about the holiday.

Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: Zyein is our goddess. She illuminates the night with her child, and she has shown her full face. It is time for celebration. The Matriarchs are led by the High Matriarch. They have born forth daughters, and it is time for the eldest among them to approach Zyein’s crater and pass into the night. These celebrations are also fertility ceremonies. Those of us who are blessed to be the granddaughter of matriarchs field champions to earn the favor of the matriarchs and their blessing, but to earn the blessing of High Matriarch Berna, her final blessing before her final ride to join the stars in the sky, is the greatest honor. My grandmother is Matriarch Ceyhan. Should I receive the grand Matriarch’s blessing, I will be granted the opportunity to bear a daughter with no chance of giving birth to a son, elevating my grandmother to the position of Grand Matriarch where she belongs. But my sister, my eldest sister, Ruya, wishes to take this honor for herself. Ceyhan’s victory is nearly assured, it is a matter of which of the two of our teams will be successful. Few believe me able to lead as well as my sister, simply because I have fewer cycles than she. This is why I need your warriors. There will be a contest. Today is the last day of the preliminaries. As today was the day of Zyein’s gaze, when the sun sets tonight, it is the last night to qualify. That means your warriors must prove themselves tonight. From there, the teams that have proven themselves, the chosen few, will be pit against the others in mortal combat. The team who succeeds will be gifted with the blessing.

The translator quietly speaks to the group

Centaur Translator says: I want to speak to you all later as well.

Meanwhile, Remnii continues to speak with Tansu.

Remnii says [tongues]: The men sent to fight. Will they meet their ends?
Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: If they are defeated by the creatures in the preliminaries, yes. But during the actual contest, the losing team’s lives are forfeited to the woman in charge of the victor. Your warriors will not lose, so their lives will be perfectly safe.
Remnii says [tongues]: Thank you for clarifying.
Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: But I cannot say the same for the other participants.

The group rides in, and it seems all the centaurs outside are women. All the men are doing things like cooking, entertaining, or likewise. People whisper as they see the non-centaurs arrive. The cave on the far side is decorated with beautiful crystals that are bright blue.

Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: Welcome to our temporary home. This blessed cave has brought the gifts of Zyein to light our path in day and night.

She turns to the others.

Warleader Tansu says [centaur]: See to it that our champions are given a chance to recover from their fight! The rest of you, we may be able to catch some of the preliminaries. And of course, cheer on our joint warriors!

Uther, Tol’vas, and Aramar are taken to a side cave to recover, while the others are taken in to view the fighting.

Aramar Thorne says: Well. Quite the situation.
Uther Menethil says: Indeed. A few months ago I was prince of Lordaeron. Here I’m a … handsome cow?
Aramar Thorne says: At least she called you handsome. I might be a bit jealous!
Uther Menethil says: Amazing how much larger our world is than I thought.
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: It used to be a lot bigger.
Uther Menethil says: Did it?
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: Yeah, the ocean between our continents. It used to all be land.
Uther Menethil says: You’re joking.

Tol’vas shakes his head.

Tol'vas Moonshadow says: It hasn’t been like that since I was… maybe your age? It’s hard to tell.
Aramar Thorne says: How old are you anyways?

Tol’vas thinks.

Tol'vas Moonshadow says: That’s actually a difficult question to answer. Depends, do you count the time sleeping in the Dream?
Aramar Thorne says: Lets say no.
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: Around 700.
Aramar Thorne says: Oh. That’s not very old is it?
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: No. One of my childhood friends would be over 10,000 at this point.
Aramar Thorne says: Oh. Well hey. You look good for a 700 year old! Though I guess elves don’t age fast.
Uther Menethil says: I can scarcely imagine 10,000 years.
Aramar Thorne says: We might want to talk strategy. We can talk more later, but we should know what we’re doing.
Tol'vas Moonshadow says: Yeah. I’ll explain about the tree later.

Uther and Aramar look at him somewhat perplexed before Aramar refocuses the group.

Aramar Thorne says: Alright. How are we gonna fight?

They then talk for a bit before a centaur comes to get them to fight.

The first thing the rest of the group notice is the cave is really cool, like the crystals are emanating coldness off them. Inside there is an arena, and the centaurs are trying to prove themselves against a large earth elemental. However, the elemental defeats them handily.

Then a female shaman raises her hands, and the elemental is banished by a spell Vel identifies as a purge spell.

The group takes seats in some of the seats of honor. There are mostly women in the audience, and there is a platform raised above the others that seem to be the Matriarchs. The translator, Asya, is explaining.

Asya says: That is Ceyhan.

She points at one of the centaurs.

Asya says: That is Tansu’s grandmother. And that is Grand Matriarch Berna.

She then points to another female centaur who is closer to Tansu’s age.

Asya says: That is Ruya. She is called sister, but their relationship is not so direct. Ruya's mother is the eldest and favorite child of Ceyhan, and Ruya's grandfather was Ceyhan’s favored consort. Tansu's mother was Ceyhan's youngest daughter, and to her least favorite consort. Ruya's team will be the one you will have to watch the most.
Grand Matriarch Berna says [centaur]: There are only a few more teams to test! The next up is the warriors representing Ruya, granddaughter of Ceyhan! Her team has caught the creature they will face, a fearsome sand worm plucked from the deserts of the south!

At that moment, a sandworm burrows from the ground and screeches. Then the other gate opens, and the team representing Ruya appears. There are three individuals, but they are not centaur. As they step out, the first one appears to just be a bear. But there are interesting things about the bear, namely that it has antlers sprouting from its head.

In the center, there is a human man with long, dirty, messy hair that is a sandy brownish blonde. He carries a huge greataxe in his hand that is slung over his shoulder, and it seems to be forged from a metal that is much nicer than anything else he owns. Most notably, he has a wolf skin that is adorning his broad shoulders like a mantle. There is a grim expression on his heavily bearded face.

The third person, however, appears to be Gilveradin Windrunner. His armor is different--seemingly traveler's garb. He has a wide brimmed hat, and a whip at his hip. He flips his bow around and takes a stance.

The human barbarian rips his axe down, hits the ground, and the entire weapon lights with bright, hot fire as if the metal has super heated. Immediately, the team closes on the worm. The bear roars and closes while the barbarian runs up the back of the massive creature and takes his axe in both hands before he his weapon into the skull of the worm. Gil fires off a bunch of arrows, and then grabs his whip, striking the worm with the barbed tip.

The barbarian grabs the worm’s mandibles, rips the axe from its head, and works on attempting to strangle the creature. There is a sun-like radiance emitting from his hand. The bear gets shoved off but closes again, and Gil’s whip lashes out and wraps around one of the creature’s many legs--attempting to prevent it from burrowing. He’s being drug forward, but it gives just enough time for the barbarian to bury his axe into the mouth of the worm and out through its head, insect ichor spraying all over him.

He then raises the axe into the air, and the crowd cheers.

And then immediately, the team disperses back through the gate, but Gil remains, amping up the crowd. However, the barbarian returns, grabs him by the shoulder, and drags him from the battlefield.

Vel is watching. Intently. And as Gil briefly almost lost his hat, she saw the flicker of an illusion--and a tuft of red hair.

Her eyes narrow.

Tansu takes a swig of her drink in annoyance, because of course they won.

Next up, however, is Tansu’s team.

Grand Matriarch Berna says [centaur]: This foe has been crafted from the most sacrosanct sand of the Shimmering Flats. Crafted by Matriarch Ceyhan herself to challenge her granddaughter’s fighters.

A stone-like creature seemingly made from salt itself steps into the arena, ready to fight.