The daylight was settling into its cycle across the sky quickly. Rapidly nature was foretelling the signs of the coming day. The temperature of the air was climbing out of the coolness of the night becoming a muggy heat that drenched everything it touched. The shadows receded increasingly deeper into the woods, where three pairs of eyes scanned the world around them.
"Do we want to cross the forest floor to the lake's edge" Draccus asked to his two kaldorei sisters, "and then swim the immense lake we just flew over, or shall we traverse the emerald hued woods around its shores?"
Lannika thought through the choices presented to them for a moment. On one hand they could swim the waters in a more direct route towards Nighthaven or they could travel together through the woods with speed. The words of Draccus's father still fresh on her ears and in her mind reverberated with a challenge, "Through these woods you must travel to the safety of Nighthaven. This is the first test you must pass and survive." She had never been one known to back down from a contest, whether mental or physical. "I say we take the way of the woods, but if you want to splash about in the water like a fish Draccus you go ahead. Us ladies will stay dry on land."
"Your loss Lannika, I just thought you could use some more swimming lessons while I beat you in another race of endurance."
Listening to her two companions banter back and forth, Lorenn leaned down to tighten her leather moccasin boots that she wore in a manner fitting a long distance runner. Then she stood up and pulled the straps around her waist and leggings to bunch the fabric of her robe in place. Taking a small pouch of water mixed with crushed berries and ground up beans out of her belt bag, she tilted the contents of nourishment back. "You two can either come with me across this foreign land, or try swimming the unknown depths of the lake. But I am going to make some headway against this heat and sun, until we stop for a midday meal and a short rest." And with that she took off at measured pace.
"Guess it is to the woods for us then, just hope I brought my trackers boots with me." Draccus laughed and began fumbling through one of his enchanted bags on his belt where he kept the few gear items he had in his possession.
Lannika like Lorenn had planned ahead and pulled up her robe slightly to reveal her own moccasins firmly wrapped around her feet. "Guess I will be the one to win this race between us. You might be quick of wit and study, but I am quicker afoot." At that parting comment she took off in a sprint to catchup to her other friend, leaving Draccus to don his bare feet.
After a few hours of running between the trees and the open patches of ground they briefly stopped to drink down a traditional porridge of mixed berries, nuts, and spring water to give them strength for the rest of the day. With so much energy and excitement they passed on napping under the bows of the trees and continued onward. Traveling together at a decent pace around Lake Elune'Ara the trio came within sight of Nighthaven just before evening. A flood of violet and deep blues colors stretched out across the sky pushing the bright light of day back, in an unending dance of time.
Nighthaven, the center of the Cenarion Circle Council, where all druids from across the plains to the deep groves of the forests came to be instructed and take part in the initiation as a rite of passage to the community. This small city rested up on a bluff over looking the Lake and the beautifully designed structures appeared in the twilight hour to grow up naturally like the surrounds trees. Little had been said to prepare Draccus, Lannika, and Lorenn for the trials that lay ahead and the growing questions on each of their minds. The most dominant thought was of what they would learn and become while under the teachings of the Druids of the different Aspects.
A pair of yellow eyes stared at the young night elves from the shadows nearby. The creature was stealthed and in a crouching posture with her purple fur standing at attention, and from behind she had a clear aim at the back of the male standing in the rear of the group. This feline beast was no mere animal on the hunt, but a lesson soon to never be forgotten.
Directly behind Draccus he heard a twig snap and then the wild growl of a beast. He turned just in time to see the panther-like menace leap up in the air and descended with all its weight onto him, with razor sharp claws reaching out. With no time to swing his quarter staff around and go on the defensive, he braced himself to wrestle the powerful cat that dared to attack so close to a druid sanctuary.
The impact of the beast knocked Draccus back, while not losing his footing, he stumbled and felt the paw of the assailant swipe across the front of his leather vest, which absorbed what otherwise would have riped his flesh open if exposed. This engagement happened in the blink of an eye it seemed. And the two circled each other carefully now, measuring each other.
The two females turned and began to withdrawal their weapons from their sheaths to silence this offender of their companion, when they heard a clear voice command them. "Stop what you were going to do! The male must learn a dire lesson to never turn his back exposed to the wild or on an unknown foe. Lady Icedragon is only demonstrating what a mindless beast would have done."
The Moonglade Warden stepped out from the shadows of another nearby tree and stood with Lannika and Lorenn as they watched the two combatants cease in their dance and stare at each other. "Allow me the honor of introducing to you the recently returned to Moonglade, Lady Icedragon Moonfrost. Although she has specialized in the Aspects of the Claw as well as the Keepers of the Grove, she like all druids have a firm grasp and appreciation for the other Aspects and forms we can become."
One moment before them there was a strong, powerful and large Cat, and the in the next moment there stood a tall night elf woman dressed in full armor. The change between the two forms happened with no real signs of the transformation other then a swirling mist that disappeared as quickly as a breeze. The night elf woman had long green hair that pooled around her neck, and she bore tattoos across her face as if permanently covered in war paint. She carried a decorated staff in her hands, but not the weapon of a caster, instead this strong tool of hers imbued her while in her feral forms with great strength and agility of the animals she took on.
The woman who had been a feline hunter moments ago looked down on her new charges now. They would learn and become cats themselves. As mere cubs they would stalk and hunt under her guidance and follow her example of carrying out the swift kill of a prey. She would teach them to blend into the shadows as if never there, and then spring upon their foes with speed and grace. The four-legged beast would become another extension of their consciousness, moving and thinking as one. She quietly laughed to herself as she lead her new pride up the path into Nighthaven to the Druid that would bestow upon these young night elves the power of Cat-form, but it was she that would teach them how to truly be one with the Cat-form.
The Saga continues with....Part 2: Figuring Out The Feline Within