Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Part 1: The First Experience With Cat-form

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

Monday, February 7, 2011

To Moonglade For The First Time

The previous night was slowly coming to a close as the predawn light began casting softer and lighter shadows on the land below.  The air was full of dew and the coolness still chilled the small band gathered on this early hour.  The sounds of life then were both stilling and awakening, some to surrender the day away while others gained in volume to greet the morning fresh.

While most Night Elves would normally be retiring to their dwelling places for a restful slumber away from the sun rays, there were a few that remained active during the day.  The sentinels kept an ever vigilant watch against the wild animals or a malevolent intruder during the villages' rest.  The gathers toiled in the bright world taking in the needed resources for food and other uses which only were in bloom during the sun's sovereignty of the sky.  And then there was our band of Night Elves gathered on the edge of Mount. Hyjal along an outcropping of rocks.  This ledge afforded a magnificent view of the world below.

A trio of hippogryphs with their azure blue and fire orange feathers obediently awaited their master’s command nearby.  These silent creatures of power were a cross between a giant eagle in their wings and talons and had a pair of horse’s hind legs.   As well as hinting of an old intelligence with subtle magical properties, they were both wild and tame at the same time.  The flight capable mounts had been relied upon for ages for their natural sense of direction and keen ability to keep their charges safe in all conditions.  Out of the wild they had been summoned for the task at hand; to travel with the six Night Elves upon their backs to Moonglade, a sacred land.

Out of the band gathered three of them were a young lord and two ladies of the forest, Draccus, Lannika, and Lorenn respectively.  They stood dressed in the simple garb of apprentices ready to embark on a journey of unknown length.  Behind them silently stood the three proud fathers, watching the anticipation climb in the hearts of their children.  The Changling Cycle had lasted but a short while, and yet here stood these three ready to begin a new chapter in their lives.
A russet colored vest hung loosely over the plain white shirt that Draccus had hurried to put on during the previous night as he parted from his mother, Lady Galdrian.  It had been a gift from one of the village's leatherworkers, an elder named Thornclaw.  The artisan had said it would protect the wearer from any scratches or cuts he might encounter.  Tucked in one of the inner pouches of the vest, was a gift his mother had given him.  Wrapped in cloth and tied securely with twine was a handful of living seeds, their use still hidden from her son.  She had given them to him to be used only for the most critical injuries and only after a Restoration Druid had instructed him on their proper casting.
The young lord also wore a belt that had been enchanted to hold six bags of varying sizes, to hold what food and water he needed, as well as any treasures he would discover along the way.  His pants were the style of a hunting party's leggings.  The design tailored snugly against his skin allowing for ease of movement as well as the breathing away the sweat from a long run.  Dark colored cloth had been cut to replace the pants he had worn out while exploring the woods.  The hem of the pants stopped halfway down his shin leaving his bare feet exposed.  Over his back he slung a quarter staff made from strong oak and notched at both ends, it height was nearly that of his own.
The two lady Night Elves, Lannika and Lorenn, both wore robes fashioned from a durable weave of hemp and silk to give a toughness and beauty reflected in the same material.  The hues each had chosen to wear were subtle differences from one another, reflecting the personality of the adorned.  Lannika had decided to bare the colors of twilight purple on her gown, denoting the ever changing mood and readiness to spring from the shadows.  Lorenn had gone with a traditional dye of deep rich green, matching the foliage of the surrounding plants, as if blending into them.  Appearing the gentler of the group with their physique and dress; however, they were just as formidable as the men.  A stranger would have been mistaken in their underestimation of these two young Night Elves, because in their hands one held a razor edged dagger and the other a one-handed mace.  Weapons of combat and usefulness they rested in hands that had been shown how to use them swiftly.
"I hope I have everything on me that I will need" Draccus spoke aloud, " of course that is not much.  In the way of possessions what I leave another can use, and whatever need may arise a source will be found to meet that need."  Confident in his abilities to scavenge off the land for what may be needed, but internally hoping to not go without.
Farethilus Moonsayer responded to his son's comment, "What you have with you now is all that you make take along.  Anything else will go to someone else in the community that will care for it as it was done before you."
After saying this final statement, he reached into a bag on his belt and pulled out a small family pendant.  There was a metallic crest consisting of a half sun mirrored by a full moon and encircling the jeweled piece was a wreath of thorns and leaves creating a semicircle band.  Ever so quietly he passed this precious trinket into Draccus's bag to remind him of his heritage.  A father's love for his son wanted to keep him close, but a stronger love wanted to see him go out and fulfill the promise on his life.  This could be a final goodbye.
"Did you not pack before last night's festivities?" Lannika asked Draccus with her usual friendly, questioning tone.  She had her affairs in order since they had learned of the adventure awaiting them weeks ago.  "What about you Lorenn?  How long have you been ready to go to Moonglade?"
Lorenn silently shrugged her shoulders, and adjusted the pack she carried with her.  Knowing that this was a time of change, a time of goodbyes with loved ones, she did not respond with the same enthusiasm as her companions.  Part of her would miss the secluded life of learning and playing in the shelter of her family lodge and the people she had come to know in these few short years, but as with all things she must grow.
"The time has come for us to mount on these trusted beasts of the air and descend into a new world for you three!"  Farethilus spoke with a firm authority in his voice to the rest of the party, while a silent burden not expressed passed through his mind.
Taking hold of the reins to each hippogryph the patriarchs with their kin holding on behind them brought their steads to the edge of the mountain.  Allowing the half birds to stretch their long wings a few times and prepare for the joys of soaring.  With a slight motion of the hand the group was off.  Over the edge they went with the talons letting go of the earth at last, the motion of gravity melted away and the rush of the wind rushed passed them.  Still high above the canopy of trees surrounding the perimeter of Moonglade and with the waters of Lake Elune'Ara shining back at them, the light from the sun forced the Night Elves to shade their eyes to adjust to the brightness all around them.
Off in the distance an outpost could be seen made up of several structures.  "Is that Nighthaven, the center of the Cenarion Circle Council, where the Druids are trained and where all come for rest?" Draccus asked with wonder as they continued downward in the gentle current of air.
No one replied to his inquiry.  The band that had been soaring gracefully along suddenly banked sharply away from that spot on the edge of Lake Elune and headed towards a more secluded spot of ground.  Once again under the cover of the massive trees a haze of mist and lime green light filtered through the canopy above.  Upon their landing the ground revealed it was covered in more vegetation then they had ever before seen.
They came to rest on a grassy knoll and there they all dismounted from their flying steeds.  The three elders looked once more on the younger three before them.  For several breathes there was nothing but silence between each individual.  A change had come over the eyes and expressions of the three older Night Elves, a hardening and almost disconnecting like air towards the unsure and younger members of their households.
"Here there are dangers and challenges that you all must face, individually and together" Farethilus said bluntly, "for you are no longer babes guarded over by the Sentinels of your homeland.  Your lives depend on cunning, bravery, and most of all working together.  Through these woods you must travel to the safety of Nighthaven.  This is the first test you must pass and survive.  In order to learn more of the ways of the different aspects you must prove yourselves worthy."  And with that the elders mounted their charges and rapidly ascended through the trees and disappeared out of sight.
Left alone for the first time in their lives, the sounds and movements of the forest began to slowly shake the shock off Draccus, Lannika, and Lorenn at being dropped off and told they must survive on their own power.  Gathering what meager belongings they had with them, they set off into the woods to face a new day.

The Training Grounds of Moonglade Forest
The Saga continues with....Part 1: First Experience With Cat-form