Part 15: friends, enemies, same difference

Ellandriel ran. Her new companions set a brisk pace. Ariciel was running next to her, and the Draenei woman, Mareva, ran point. Now and then, they would switch positions. Ellandriel couldn’t help staring at her tail, which kept swinging back and forth in the steady, relaxed rhythm of her steps. She tore her eyes away, and glanced at Ariciel, who was looking round. Ariciel’s eyes fell on her, and she flashed Ellandriel a quick smile.

“Keeping up alright?”

She was speaking Common, either not to exclude Mareva, or because she had been living among the other peoples.

“I am, Lady,” said Ellandriel. “I have had to travel on foot for several months now. I am well used to it now.”

“Whoa,” said Ariciel. “People get to call me ‘Lady’ just once. I’m not some kind of noblewoman.”

“My apologies,” said Ellandriel. She didn’t feel like adding anything more.

“No worries,” said Ariciel. “Bannog tells me I’ve got a bit of a chip on my shoulder about it. Grin and bear it, he says. But I’m not going to make people bow to me. For goodness’ sake, two, three years ago I was polishing floors for some left-over High-borne. Wouldn’t want to be like them.”

“Where?” The question left Ellandriel’s lips before she could stop herself.

“Ameth’aran,” said Ariciel. “After the Fall, there was one manor still left, with a group of about two, three dozen of the ancients. They were under some sort of house arrest. They didn’t go out, the Keldorei archers didn’t turn them into hedgehogs. Everybody happy. And then, they messed up some big piece of magic and sent the whole of the Manor sky-high. But by that time, I’d left.”

“I…” Ellandriel swallowed. “I see.”

“It’s strange. Just before that happened, one of the Ladies there tried to get me to study Arcane magics. Me and my sister, actually. If Mother hadn’t got wind of that, and run like the wind with the both of us, then I would probably still have been there, cleaning and serving tables, when they blew up the place. So in a strange way, I owe my life to Lady Iressa.”

Ellandriel choked, coughed, stumbled, then took a few deep breaths and ran on.

“Something wrong?” Ariciel looked worried.

“I put my foot wrong,” said Ellandriel. She ran on, falling silent. Iressa. One of her mother’s names had been Iressa. There was no saying, of course, that this would be her. It would be statistically impossible to run into someone who had known her mother, more miles away from home than there were sensible numbers for. Or was it? There weren’t many of them left. There weren’t many places. The questions burnt in Ellandriel’s mind, but she couldn’t ask them without revealing herself. Already she might have given too many hints.

 

They ran on until it was Ellandriel’s turn to run in front. Determined not to miss anything important that might want to make lunch of them, she didn’t give the archway to their right much notice until Ariciel called out.

“Hey. That looks like a Night-elf building. I didn’t know there were any here.”

Mareva peered through the trees at a tower in the distance.

“A fair number came here in the Second War, to aid against the Burning legion. Some of them stayed. This does not look like a wholesome place, though.”

Ellandriel looked. Her staff was in her hand, and her face was still and serious.

“I can sense a depressing influence or enchantment on the place. It may not be as potent as once it was, but enough of it still lingers to dampen our abilities. Let us continue.”

Ariciel grinned at her. “Oh come on. I want to see what’s in there. Could be some good loot in there. Or some ancient Keldorei artifacts. Or food.”

“Or wild animals,” said Mareva. “If we go there, I suggest we prepare for a fight.”

“I was rather hoping we could…” Ellandriel swallowed. She had carefully avoided telling the others about her magical vocation, hoping to keep that a secret till they reached Shattrath, so she could say goodbye to her new companions without unpleasantness. If it came to blows, then huge fireballs might spell out ‘Fire mage’ in letters large enough for even casual observers to read.

“Avoid fighting,” she finished.

Ariciel peered ahead. “Naah. Nothing there but Theromoths. They’re big, but they’re friendly. No good for food, even.”

Mareva looked at Ariciel’s face. “You are determined, no?”

“Oh come on. How often do you get to see a bit of home this far away from home? It’ll be educational!”

“Miss?” Mareva looked at Ellandriel.

Ellandriel took a deep breath, then pointed her hand forward.

“Lead on. I will follow.”

Ariciel bounced on the spot. “Great! If something does happen, just stay behind the bear.”

 

They walked into the thicket. Ariciel looked up and round at the buildings. They were of sturdy, well-engineered Keldorei style, but nobody had lived there for a long time, and the forest was slowly reclaiming the place with leaf and bramble and twig. Ariciel ran forward.

“Look! there’s even a Moonwell here!” She dipped her hand in the water, but quickly pulled it out again. “Eww. That hasn’t been cleansed in a long time. Slacking priestesses.”

Mareva pointed. “Slacking Druids, you mean. Though in their present state, I think they cannot help it.”

Ariciel looked where Mareva was pointing, and her hand went to her staff. On the ground lay the long-deserted skeleton of a Night-elf woman. Her Druid’s robes were torn, almost taken away by insects. There was still the residue of an unhealthy green glow about the body. Ariciel had taken her staff from her back, and searched the surrounding wood for enemies. Ellandriel stood still, the syllables of her pre-combat spells revolving in her mind, waiting, eyes darting over the place.

Mareva kneeled by the dead Druid, and looked her over. All that was left of her were some bones, with occasional pieces of skin.

“I can see no obvious trauma,” said Mareva. “No broken bones. No weapon marks. This woman died of some kind of disease or poison.”

“Wonderful,” said Ariciel. “I think I’ve just lost my interest in Keldorei history.”

“Let us leave,” said Mareva, getting up and brushing the dirt from her hands.

In a triangle formation, looking out, they started to make their way to the archway and the road, when there was a low buzzing noise in the air. When they are as large as a sheep, it doesn’t take many moths to make a sizable swarm. If that swarm is heading in your direction with every appearance of purpose, the effect can be a bit unsettling to say the least.

“What’s that?” said Ellandriel.

“A big friendly Theromoth,” said Mareva. “And a few of its brothers.”

Ellandriel stared wide-eyed at the enormous insects. “Sisters,” she said. “Theromoth drones are female. The males are only kept alive when the Queen needs her eggs fertilised, after which they are expelled and die. They are too big to fly! This flies in the face of power-to-weight ratio. Do we run now?”

“No we don’t,” said Ariciel. “Let’s kill us some bugs. I’m going cat for this one. Try not to shoot me.”

With a growl, Ariciel turned to her cat form, and took a flying leap towards one of the moths, claws tearing into it. Mareva cried out in her own language, and called forth her totems. She started shooting fire and lightning at the moths. Ellandriel hesitated, lips trembling. Then, her eyes narrowed. If you’re going to blow your cover, you may as well do it in style.

Ellandriel raised her staff high, and cast a preparatory spell that would power up the others’ magic as well as her own. Then, she picked a target, wound up a big fire spell and hurled it at the moth. She followed it up with a quick fireblast. The moth exploded, and fell out of the sky in a rain of smouldering fragments. With that, all of her thoughts, all of her fears, all her worries, disappeared from Ellandriel’s mind, until nothing existed for her but her spells, her targets and her companions. Gleaming missiles flew from her hand, blossomed out, then converged on her target, and passed straight through, sending the Theromoth spiralling down. A little further away, there was another group of moths, heading for them. With a gesture of her hand, and a few whispered syllables, Ellandriel called down a pillar of flame, and the whole group was set alight, whirling round madly, then dropping to the ground one by one. She looked around, with a thousand-mile look in her eyes.

Les papillons de nuit ont disparus,” said Ellandriel. She giggled to herself.

Mareva looked round at Ellandriel, and closed her mouth. Then, she grinned.

“Oh, I like you.”

Ariciel spat out the leg of one of the insects, walked over in that fluid motion that cats have, and turned back to her Elf form.

“You are a Night-elf mage,” she said.

“Yes.”

“There aren’t any Night-elf mages.”

“Hardly any,” said Ellandriel, “But more than you realise.”

Ariciel’s eyes narrowed. “Except for the High-borne.”

Ellandriel stuck her chin forward, and said nothing.

“What are you doing here?”

“Draenor means Exile, doesn’t it? So here I am.”

Mareva coughed. “Actually, it means ‘Refuge’. Though these days, the association with safety is rather an inaccurate one.”

“All High-borne these days are thousands of years old,” said Ariciel. “Except, you can’t be more than fifty by your face marks. There weren’t supposed to be any High-borne children.”

Ellandriel pulled her cloak round her, and gave Ariciel an icy look.

“Perhaps in all those thousands of years, we simply forgot how much we enjoyed being told what to do by the house servants.”

Tea!

They all looked round. A tall Night-elf man stood behind them. He fell to his knees, raised his hands to the heavens, and cried out again.

Tea! Why doesn’t anyone ever have tea with them?”

The man stepped forward, grabbed Ariciel’s shoulders and looked deep into her eyes.

“You! You can make tea, can’t you? They are my people! It’s a matter of tea or death!”

“Um… They are dead, aren’t they?”

“No, no, no! There are four lights, not five! Four!”

Ariciel blinked. “Oh. Right. I see.”

“You see?” The man wrapped his arms round Ariciel, bowed down and put his head on her shoulder. “Thank you. Thank you, fair maiden. I was beginning to doubt myself. I thought I was going sane and the world was mad. But luckily it is the other way round. Oh a mad world is a terrible thing. Terrible! People running in circles, tears filling up their glasses.”

Mareva sighed, and gave Ellandriel a sad look. “It is always the same thing. We only have to walk into a town and all the men go mad over her. I simply cannot take her anywhere at all.”

“That is most inconvenient,” said Ellandriel.

The man’s head snapped round at Ellandriel. “The naming of cats is a difficult matter, young Lady. It isn’t just one of your holiday games.”

“It is not?”

The man changed himself into a cat before their eyes, meowed and growled in a way that suggested a very wise remark, then turned into a bear and lay down on the ground with his head on his paws, eyes closed.

Mareva nodded understandingly. “This man is clearly several components short of a circuit board. I am sure that I am speaking for all of us when I say that I wish to share his fate no more than I wish to share the fate of his fellow Druids. I suggest we leave.”

At that, the bear-druid suddenly leapt up, changed back to his Elf form and stared into the sky, a wild grin on his face.

“He’s dead! They did it! He’s finally dead!”

Mareva looked round at him. “Against my better judgement… who is dead this time?”

“The Lich King, Devil-woman! Ner’zhul! Arthas! Bolvar! They’re dead, all gone! Now, we can all have tea! Tea in peace! Quick! There is no time to lose!”

And with that, the mad Druid changed himself into a yellow spotted Cheetah and ran of in an Easterly direction. Ariciel waved.

“Bye-bye.”

Mareva grabbed Ariciel by the neck and Ellandriel by her robes and pushed them in the direction of the gate.

“Am I the only person here with a sense of self preservation? Let us move now.”


Stetson looked down on his defeated opponent. It had been tougher than usual, but he’d never had any doubt. Rogues were so amusing, disappearing into the shadows with their silly tricks. With his tracking spells, he could shoot them with his eyes closed, much to their surprise. To say that prize fighting was his new passion, would be too much, but he made a decent sum of money betting on himself. He needed it, to get himself off to Shattrath again. He hadn’t counted on having to replace his entire set of armour, twice. For some reason, the permanent portals he had counted on had been shut off while he was in hospital, so he would have to fly, sail, and ride his way to the Blasted Lands in the Eastern Kingdoms. Once he was back on Draenor, things would be easier.

The fights got pretty vicious. You weren’t actually allowed to kill your opponents, though once you were in the rings, you would be a fool to trust that. Too many ‘accidents’ had happened, and several combatants had been carried away, either to ‘First to your aid’, or to the graveyard.

He had stopped using Morgan for these fights after the first one. Morgan was his alter ego. Part of his very soul. Morgan getting hurt was as bad as getting hurt himself. Morgan was for fights that really mattered. Instead, he now had a warpstalker. The creature showed no emotion, which suited Stetson fine.

Stetson walked over to the Goblin, and collected his stack of gold coins. He didn’t even bother to count them. They would be present and correct. Goblins had very little going for them, but their religious dedication to honouring a deal to the last speck on the contract was legendary. Stetson made some mental calculations. His ‘system’, if you could call it that, was always to bet half his current fortune, so that he would have money left to start all over again if he lost. If he won the next three fights, he would have enough money to make his way to the Eastern Kingdoms, to the Blasted Lands. To Mareva. Stetson turned his tired eyes to the South-west. Perhaps, these fights mattered after all.


Mareva woke up, saw that it was time to relieve Ariciel, and got out of her sleeping furs. She pulled her clothes on, then retreated discreetly for a few minutes. As she walked up to the fire, Ariciel handed her a hot mug of honey mint tea. Mareva saw her looking at the still form of Ellandriel, lying in the furs by the fire, back towards them.

“What do you think of our new friend?”

“She’s a pain in the neck,” said Ariciel. “Literally.”

“What do you mean?”

“Arcane magic. It used to give me a headache back in Ameth’aran. Luckily, she isn’t trying to put the Maelstrom in a wine glass, but it still gives me a twinge down my neck.”

“I do not understand. You have fought alongside Lenna Steambender with no problems, no?”

“Yeah, but she’s a Gnome. Gnomes are practically built for arcane magic. We’re not. Don’t know why, but Gnomes or Humans don’t bother me. High-borne do.”

“The High-borne? You said you used to work for them, no?”

Ariciel thought she heard something, looked, saw nothing.

“I did. Gods, I was green then. But they were the ones who decided to blow up an entire continent. And what did they learn from that?”

Mareva laughed quietly. “Quitters, they do not win. Winners, they do not quit. Idiots, they cannot win and will not quit.”

“Something like that. But she. She’s a few millennia too young to have been alive back then. She’s not supposed to exist.”

“Well, I do not grudge her her existence. She looks nice.”

“She may be a Highborne, but she’s still a Night-elf. We all look nice. Don’t tell me you fancy her.”

Mareva shook her head. “She’s not interested.”

“How do you know that?”

“I spent a year reading from peoples’ body language whether they were attracted to me. She is not. I would guess she likes boys only. Apologies for dashing your hopes.”

“Me? Between the furs with a High-borne mage? She’s got nice legs, don’t get me wrong, but no thank you.”

“Well, my sleeping furs are over there. They are the ones with no Night-elf in. Good night.”

 

Ellandriel took a slow breath, and closed her eyes. She didn’t feel like arguing. On the one hand, Ariciel hadn’t tried to kill her, which was good. On the other hand, she had hardly spoken three words to her all the way down here. Perfectly happy to talk about her, though. Nice legs indeed. Just get them all to Shattrath, and then back to the Portal, good-bye and good riddance. Shan’do would have expected nothing less of her. Ellandriel’s eyes filled with tears. She should have stayed. She should have fought, perhaps died, next to her Teacher. But then, the great evil foreseen by Daros Moonlance would destroy the whole world. Ellandriel pulled her furs up.

What did it matter?


Ellandriel walked next to Mareva, her hood pulled over her head, painfully aware of the bits of skin she was showing through the tears in her robe. She was sure that both of them were looking at her, though neither seemed to want to take it further than looking. That Druid because she hated her guts, and that Draenei woman, presumably, because she hadn’t thrown herself at her drooling. Was that some kind of Keldorei or Draenei welcoming ritual these days, like shaking someone’s hand? Yes Shan’do, I do remember that soldier back in Theramore. Your point being?

She looked up, startled out of her thoughts by Ariciel suddenly stopping, fist raised in the air. At a wave of Ariciel’s hand, they veered off the road, into the trees. Ariciel pointed forward.

“I thought all Orcs were green.”

Mareva peered forward. “The ones who did not fall to the temptation of the Burning Legion had brown skins. These ones are Fel Orcs, though. A particularly deranged variety. They are red.” Mareva smiled. “Orcs. Colour-coded for your convenience.”

Ellandriel shook herself. “Well, they’re in our way. I count six of them. I daresay we can take them on.”

“Well, aren’t we the bloodthirsty ones,” said Ariciel, and grinned at Ellandriel. “Mind you, nothing wrong with a bit of bloodthirst, in moderation.”

“Do you wish to move round them, Lady Ariciel? There is no telling what dangers lie in this forest.” Ellandriel nodded her head at the Orcs, who were sitting in the middle of the road, perhaps waiting for travellers to kill and rob. “These Orcs are known to us. I counsel that we take them on rather than the unseen adversaries.”

“Suits me,” said Ariciel. “You, Mareva?”

“Yes. These Fel Orcs will undoubtedly trouble others if we do not get rid of them. Do not underestimate them, though. They are soldiers, born and bred.”

“Excellent. Let’s prepare, then.”

Ariciel closed her eyes, concentrated. A green glow started to shine from first her own body, then the others’. Her skin changed colour, hardened. Then, sharp spikes grew on her. Ellandriel raised a hand, and whispered a few words.

“Hmm,” said Ariciel, her voice deeper than usual from the effects of her spells. “More mana. Just what I need for biting them.”

Ariciel turned round, facing the Orcs, staff in hand. She took a deep breath.

“Try to keep them away from us,” said Ellandriel. “And we’ll try to shoot them down as fast as possible.”

Aciciel breathed out, looking over her shoulder. “Is there anything else you feel you have to explain to me? Remind me. What form do I take for this? Cheetah or Sea-lion? I always forget.”

“Bear,” said Ellandriel. “Now get on with it, spells are running out.”

Mareva stamped her staff on the floor. “Children! Shall we reserve our animosity for those people who want to kill us?”

“Let’s,” said Ariciel, and growled.

Ariciel turned to her bear form, then with a mighty roar charged at the Orcs, swiping a claw at them as she forced her way through the group. She turned round, so that the Fel Orcs were between her and the others. Mareva stepped out into the road, ran a few steps forward and called up her totems. Ellandriel stood next to her, and prepared to fire. Mareva put a hand on her arm.

“Wait. Let her move them to where she wants them first.”

All the Orcs only had eyes for Ariciel, who ripped into them tooth and claw, then moved out of the way of any returning strikes.

“Fire,” said Mareva.

Lightning flew from her hands, striking three of the Orcs at once. Ellandriel bared her teeth, and large bolts of fire sped towards the Orcs. They were tough. Even with the combined firepower of Mareva and Ellandriel, they took many hits before they went down.

Two of the Fel Orcs noticed the women behind them, shooting at them. They turned round and raced towards Ellandriel. Mareva blew them away with her Thunderstorm spell, but the angle was such that they weren’t blown back into the group of their friends. They got to their feet, and ran back towards Mareva and Ellandriel.

Ariciel roared, and charged towards the two splitters, trailing three other Orcs who were hacking at her with axes. One of them managed to hit her hind leg, making her yowl. She limped round the group, gathering them all up in front of her again, then roared, and raised herself on her hind legs. Her bear’s eyes glowed a deep crimson, and her teeth bared. With rage that knew no bounds, Ariciel attacked. She no longer made any effort to dodge, only to rip great bleeding wounds into her enemies.

“Fire, fire, fire,” Mareva shouted.

She aimed a healing spell at Ariciel, while Ellandriel brought down the fire. One by one, the Fel Orcs fell to lightning, fire, tooth and claw. The last one fell, and Ariciel stood up on her hind legs, turned back to her Elf form, then screamed. There was a large tear in her leg armour, and dried-up blood was on it. She put her hand on her leg, cast a spell of healing. Then, she slowly walked towards Ellandriel.

“What the hell were you doing?”

“Fighting,” said Ellandriel. “What else?”

“Don’t the bloody High-borne tell their clothies to keep their sodding heads down? I like my foes in front of me. If I have to chase a few because some stupid wench wants to be the centre of attention, then they are behind me. Can’t dodge shit coming from behind now can I?”

“Well, I’m sorry, but isn’t it your job to keep them looking at you?” She sniffed. “I thought all the men could do nothing but desire you wherever you showed your face.”

And women,” said Ariciel. “But having great balls of fire hurled at them puts them off for some reason.”

Ellandriel narrowed her eyes. “Well, this woman can easily resist your charms.”

“Oh get stuffed,” said Ariciel. “I’m going to see if there’s any more surprises waiting for us up ahead.”

With that, Ariciel turned to her Storm-crow form, and flapped off along the road.

Mareva pulled back her totems with a gesture of her hand. Her pale blue eyes slowly turned from Ariciel’s disappearing tail to Ellandriel. Her staff hit the ground with an angry thump.

“Are we quite finished? If this is how we treat our friends, then who needs Fel Orcs?”

Friends? By the Light of Elune, your Druid can barely resist biting my head off for something I did before I was even born, and you were sizing me up to see if you could have your way with me.”

“What? I do not understand.”

“You said you were studying my body language, did you not? To see if I like girls? And you spent years doing this. Were you, perhaps, some lady of the night?”

Mareva stared at Ellandriel, mouth open. “That was something completely different. Fun and games on a long boring trip.”

“I am sure there is a perfectly innocent explanation, but not one I am particularly interested in hearing.”

“Well, unless I have misread you completely, and you do wish to get naked with me, how is any of that your business?”

“In no way, shape or form is any of it my business. My business takes me to Shattrath, and then on to Dalaran. So if you do not mind, that is where I am going. Now.”

Ellandriel turned round, and headed off down the road at a brisk pace, seething, leaving Mareva staring after her. Mareva stared at Ellandriel’s disappearing form, then up into the skies where Ariciel had disappeared. She bared her fangs and growled.

“You stupid zlotniks! Do you think we are in a playground?” She sighed. “Now what am I going to do?”

 

Ellandriel ran, not looking, not even caring where she was going. Bother Keldorei. Bother Draenei. Damn them all. She’d find Shattrath on her own. She still had a job to do, and she would be better off doing it on her own than with the ‘help’ of those horrible women. This road would take her… somewhere. All roads lead somewhere. Somewhere with people. She could ask them where to go next.

The next thing she knew was that someone knocked her to the ground. When she gathered herself up, she was surrounded by pale, brown-skinned faces looking at her with green glowing eyes. They were all smiling at her, but not in a nice way. She skittered backwards on her arms and legs, trailing her staff. One of the Elves pulled back an arm and hit her with a bolt of Light. Ellandriel cried out, and the Elves laughed at her. She could see they were planning a game of cat and mouse, and she was the mouse. Mice did not usually win this game. Her eyes narrowed. Not usually. One of the Elves bent down over her, and with a big fireblast, Ellandriel set him aflame. As he rolled round on the floor, screaming, trying to put the fire out, she blinked forward. She turned round, and could think of nothing better to do than put up a Mana Shield. Shan’do would have had a few words to say about that, and, Ellandriel realised, would probably get the chance soon.

One of the Blood-elves came forward, and slashed down with a two-handed sword. It hit her magical shield, and Ellandriel felt the drain of energy as the shield took the blow. With a deep breath, she lashed out with a boulder of fire. Then, recklessly spending the energy that was keeping her alive, she cast fire spells on as many of her enemies as she could. She knew she could not kill them all, but all the hope she had left was to make them so angry that they would kill her quickly, batter her to death with angry strokes, and end a life that should never have been. Nobody wanted the High-borne anymore. With a curious lack of emotion, she felt the last of her energy leave her, and the shining barrier round her faded. One of the sword fighters stepped forward, and slashed his sword down at her. In a gesture she knew was futile, she threw up her arms. There was a sickening snap as her arm broke under the sword, and she fell down to the ground. The three remaining Blood-elves slowly walked towards her, weapons raised. Ellandriel closed her eyes. No need to see this.

 

Mareva was sprinting as fast as she could. No need to wonder where she needed to be. The flashes of light, and the sound of explosions told her all she needed to know. As she ran, there was a screech above her, and Ariciel swooped by, climbed again. A few hundred yards further on, a group of Blood-elves were fighting Ellandriel. Three of the Blood-elves were turned to smouldering corpses by her fire magic, which was impressive. There were three left, and they looked like they were going to kill this Night-elf very thoroughly. Mareva sprinted forward until she was in range, then summoned her totems and called forth a flame shock at the Elf with the two-handed sword closest to Ellandriel. As he burst into flame, Mareva followed up with a shamanic spell called Lava Burst, a spell that burnt brightest against targets already on fire. The Blood-elf died on his feet, then fell to the ground.

Ariciel came hurtling down out of the sky. In mid-air, she changed to her Cat form, and leapt down on the Blood-elf Paladin who had been the first to hit Ellandriel. Her sharpened claws tore through plate armour, skin and bones. The Paladin fell down with Ariciel on top of her. Ariciel ripped out her throat with a ferocious bite, then held her down on the ground, glaring into her eyes as she bled to death. The last Blood-elf was trying to run away. Mareva nor Ariciel was prepared to let him. Mareva hit him with a Frost Shock, slowing him down for Ariciel to catch. It was over in seconds, and they could finally turn round to Ellandriel, who was staring at them, wide-eyed, cradling her broken arm in the other. She tried to move away from them.

“Leave me alone!”

Mareva shuddered, seeing the bone stick out of Ellandriel’s skin.

“Oh woman. Faint. Faint!”

Ariciel turned back to her Elf form, and stepped towards Ellandriel.

“Let us help you.”

“You’re not taking my arm off,” shouted Ellandriel.

“We are not taking your arm off,” said Mareva. “Open fracture. We will set it, then cast healing spells.”

Ariciel kneeled by Ellandriel, put her arms round her. “It’ll be alright. Everything’ll be fine.” She shot Mareva a quick look.

“Give me your hand,” said Mareva.

Ariciel put her hand on Ellandriel’s cheek. “Look at me. Everything will be fine. Going to be just fine.”

Ellandriel looked up at Ariciel. Ariciel gently stroked her hair. Mareva pulled Ellandriel’s hand. Ellandriel gasped, and her head turned round, but Ariciel pushed her face back towards her.

“Just look at me.” She stroked her black hair. “Will be just fine.”

“Hurts.” Ellandriel ‘s body shook in Ariciel’s arms. “Hurts.”

“I know. You’re very brave. The healing spells will come soon. Everything is going to be alright.”

Mareva was satisfied with the shape of Ellandriel’s arm, and put a hand on her forehead.

“Shining Ones, hear my call…”

A shining rune floated above Ellandriel’s head as the Blessing of the Naaru was bestowed on her. Mareva followed up with more healing spells. Ariciel held Ellandriel in her arms, till she closed her eyes, and sighed. Her head slumped forward. Mareva got to her hooves and brushed the dirt off her knees.

“Let us get her out of here.”

Ariciel nodded, and picked up Ellandriel in her arms. Ellandriel made a vague noise and her head tilted back.

“She’s too thin,” said Ariciel. “We’ll have to feed her up a bit.”

 

Ariciel took the empty tea mug and pulled the fur over Ellandriel. Ellandriel blinked slowly and looked up.

“I thought you detested me,” she said.

“I don’t like High-borne very much,” said Ariciel. “Doesn’t mean I want you to die.”

“You didn’t like… Lady Iressa?”

Ariciel looked into the distance. “She taught me how to steal mana from other creatures, like the Blood-elves do. If I’d actually have used that talent, then I would not be here now. My teacher would have killed me.”

“What…” Ellandriel hesitated. “What did she look like?”

“Blonde, about as short as I am. Always in green and blue. Lots of silver rings on her fingers. Always looking down on people. Quiet.”

Ellandriel looked away. Could be her. Could be someone else.

“Did you know her?”

“I cannot say,” said Ellandriel. “The name is the same. I only remember her from when I was a young girl. She moved away.”

Ariciel looked at Ellandriel’s face. “Relation of yours?”

Ellandriel said nothing, briefly closed her eyes. Ariciel got up. She thought it best not to mention that when last they met, she had destroyed the wraith that had once been Lady Iressa.

“Get some sleep. Tomorrow, we hit Shattrath.”

“I’ll take early watch,” said Ellandriel, sleepily. “Wake me at midnight.”

“Don’t be stupid, woman.”

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