Monday, March 14, 2011

Part 2: Figuring Out The Feline Within

The small band of newly arrived night elves followed their recently appointed Master and teacher into the sacred village of Nighthaven.  This place was shrouded in magic and history that spanned eons, the very air stirred with the currents of nature and arcane powers mixing, waiting to be called upon.  The structures that made up this unassuming village numbered around eight in all, and each building was created with the simplicity and functionality of a training center, while also serving as a secluded retreat for the Druid Circle's members to rest in.

Quickly Draccus, Lannika, and Lorenn were ushered into a building that clearly served as resting quarters for the beginners and apprentices of the life long studies in being a Druid.  There were already a couple of bedrolls and belongings spread out that their owners had left behind.  They deposited all their personal affects and meager weapons in their allotted cubbyhole near their bedrolls.  Cleaning off the days sweat and dirt in a small bowl of water, they then changed into the simple robes of grey cotton cloth tied with a leather strap about the waist.  As quickly as they had departed they rejoined Master Icedragon outside and proceeded to a ceremony of great importance. 

They did not know what awaited them in a few short moments; however, their lives would never be the same.  Neither of these three wide eyed pupils spoke a word as they slowly made their way over bridges that spanned the waterways atop this bluff towards the spot where other smaller groups of night elves had gathered.  In each small group of night elves there was a ratio of one elder druid that served as personal guide and instructor to three younger inexperienced night elves.  All of them were starting off on a journey many had traveled before them.  The was a deafening silence that weighed over the gathered crowd.  At the head of those kneeling quietly stood a druid named Logannar. 

This venerated druid named Lognnar had held the position of Initiator and trainer for so many many centuries that he had even seen some archdruids kneel before him as they passed this stage of their life.  His privileged place among all the Druid was one where he bestowed the power of transformation, shape-shifting into the different aspects of nature as each druid was ready to take on that respective form.  This evening those before him would receive the gift and blessing of the Aspect of the Claw, specifically the form of Cat.  Turning into a powerful and sleek feline animal, but with no knowledge and experience in how to harness this indwelling of the cat-spirit and form they would need guidance and control.  To master this initial step before gaining further communion with nature's forces was required of all that wished to be counted as a druid in the Cenarion Circle.  Each bond and act of shape-shifting that an individual druid gained brought him or her closer to nature and the powers that came with that responsibility.

At last the time had come for the rite of passage to commence, with the full moon in the sky the prayers of thanksgiving and petition rose from those gathered.  As a people the night elves gave praise to Elune The Mother Moon, who faithfully watched over the races and creatures on all of Azeroth.  She blesses all and casts her light down upon the land from the moon often referred to as, The White Lady.  The Druids also were calling out to and asking for Cenarius, Lord of the Forest, to bring these young kaldorei a gift in the form of transformation.  For several minutes their chants rose on the breeze of the night, ringing pass the forests of Moonglade to reach the very heart of Kalimdor and beyond.

As Draccus knelt besides his brothers and sisters he kept his eyes forward.  While staring into the Augustine grass covered ground he began to feel a stranger sensation throughout his body.  His dark skin started to itch where spots of ivory hairs sprouted from once naked skin.  He felt the forces of magic working through each fiber of muscle and the nerves sparked with new life as he fell to the ground bearing his weight now on his forearms and knees.  Where his hands had once been there now was a pair of large paws with razor sharp claws digging into the soil, and his feet were now paws of equal size supporting his weight off the ground.  White fur now covered this new massive physical body of his from head to tail.  A tail that swayed back and forth helping establishing balance, an odd new appendage, seemed to have a life all its own.  There was now a strength and power welled up deep within him, something primal he had never before known existed.  For a split second his vision blurred as he gained the new eyes of a hunter, a predator of the shadows.  The narrow slits in the golden orbs now allowed him to see the smallest of details and pierce the darkest of places.

All noises from the other night elves had ceased completely.  The sounds of the woods that his ears had been keenly attuned too took on new clarity and sharpness.  Slowly regaining his senses and the awareness of those around him, Draccus tried to speak out for reassurance.  All that came out of his throat was a muffled mixture of a growl and a whine.  Shocked by this sudden lost of communication, he looked past his nose to see several other large cats gathered around him in equal awe and dumbfoundedness at their state.  The scene looked as if all the night elves had vanished and in their place stood a pride of large cats of varying shades of color.

The only night elves present were the elders that had not shape-shifted, which included Logannar, Icedragon, Furystorm, and Eveningclaw.  The last two elders where the ones that were in charge of the other two bands of cats mulling around the group.  The total count of newly shape-shifted druids came to be nine students and three Masters.  A rather large group for training this time, because normally there would only be one to three night elves that would enter into Nighthaven at a time seeking instruction and guidance into the ways of the Druids.

The wise and experienced Instructor Logannar stepped forth among the confused and disoriented druids that could not speak for themselves and addressed them with words of comfort.  "Be at peace my brethren and sisters, for tonight Cenarius has heard our calls and granted you a mighty gift.  The forms you now hold are not forever a prison entrapping your native physical bodies and your voices are not lost."  Having addressed those surrounding him, he motioned for each leader of their pack to produce three unique and enchanted charms and place them over the necks of their charges.  Immediately these items became soul-bound to each person, and no one else could ever use or remove these tokens from around the necks of these night elves.

Without words Logannar continued to reach out to the assembled druids, "What you now wear forever around your necks is a charm that enables you to share your thoughts and voices clearly with other druids as if speaking them aloud.  This is a shared link even stronger then what our people have as a race.  You will find the need to communicate with one another instantly vital in the coming battles you face and the trials ahead.  Remember you are not the simple creatures of the wild, but powerful forms capable of attacking and protecting just as well as any animal would, yet with a mind and spirit of a druid, a night elf.  Do not forget your heritage!"

"Has there every been a druid that was lost to this new form, turning wild from powers beyond their understanding or control?" Draccus asked honestly with his thoughts, not sure of how the endless flow of magic that now coursed through his veins would ever be contained.  With the heads turning his way, he realized that his question was heard by all gathered, and he dug his paw into the ground to avoid the staring yellow and silver eyes.

Looking on this brave night elf that had asked a sincere concern without reserve, Logannar answered him gently, "Yes, young One of promise, sadly there have been cases where the forces of nature were to much for one druid to handle and they were overcome with feral instincts.  With no other actions to save what was left of the druid's mind, we gave them over to the care of nature for the remainder of their long lives.  Those lost few now roam parts of the wilds in Feralas and a few wander aimlessly in the woods of Ashenvale.

"But do not fear that fate Draccus Moonsayer or any other here that do not yet fully understand this period of life.  For with the help of your Elders and the guidance of the Druids of Circle you will gain a level of control and awareness wielding this form as naturally as your night elf bodies.

"Tonight you all have gained and experienced much for the first time, it is now time to resume your natural bodies and get some rest.  The initial transformation drains your bodies of the energy and strength you will need to test out the full range of capabilities you now can call upon." Logannar then shared with them the thought that unlocked the shape-shifting reversal, and returned them all to their original selves.

The weary night elves now stood upright again dressed in the simple robes that they had worn to the ceremony but a few hours ago.  Still not many words were spoken between the young night elves, because they realized that they had been brought into the Cenarion Circle but that there was much to still be learned.

"Be quick to get your rest fellow druids," Logannar called back to them as they departed back to their resting quarters, "we gather again at dawn to begin our first lesson in the hunt.  And the prey knows how to fight back."

The Saga continues with....Emerald Elysium: Druid's Dream Escape