Friday, October 14, 2011

Emerald Elysium- Into the Wilds

“Bless the Ancients.” Draccus thought to himself as he looked out across the magnificent vista of the Ysera Plateau.  “It is such a privilege to visit the Emerald Dream.”

The early morning mists lifted their veil on the scene before him.  An untouched realm, set apart from the world of Azeroth, a place of sanctuary that had helped to calm the turmoil inside this young Druid.

The peaceful and tranquil valley sloped away from the towering forest, and was divided only by the flowing Tearkar River.  The name sake for this terrain came from the powerful Green Dragonflight leader Ysera, one of the original Dragon Aspects.  The landscape was timeless in her beauty and the serenity she offered.  Equally as immortal as the Lady Dragon Ysera the land knew only the gentle changes of the weather while remaining eternally in bloom and full of wild growth.  The Tearkar River brought fresh water and life into this region from the rain storms and snow melts.  The name Tearkar came from a language long forgotten, the meaning roughly translated was No More Sadness.

Draccus Moonsayer walked slowly with his quarter staff in hand, the simple grey robe on his back, and his bare feet feeling the soft grass beneath him as he approached the Dreambough Portal.  His time to return to Azeroth and part company from the Emerald Dream had come.

Dreambough Portals were bridges between the two worlds, the Emerald Dream and Azeroth.  There were five such Portals scattered across the lands of Azeroth that would allow the passage of a person permitted entry into the Emerald Dream.  The only ones that had been known to cross this threshold were Druids entering for prolonged periods of rest, mediation and rejuvenation.

A resounding calm filled the air as a soft wind danced around the tall Druid standing there.  He was reflecting back on the events that had led up to his arrival here.

“Amazing to think, who once was lost is now found again.  I return to the world I came from but not the same as I left it.”

Then the memories came flooding back to him.

He had been running for hours on end, well into the day.  The rhythmic pounding of his paws drummed the ground as Draccus fled away from the scene of his crime and shame.  Just that morning, he had lost control.  He had been innocent from the stain of ever having violently taken life from another.  He could never be that innocent again.

The taste of Scarrock’s blood would not wash out of his mouth no matter how much water he drank from the cold stream.  His Master’s look of disapproval and the knowledge that he had failed to preserve life had the double effect of guilt on this Cat-form bound Druid.

His feral instincts compelled him to escape further into the southern region of Darkshore.  Into the overcast forest he ran. The land had once been a mighty stronghold of the Nights Elves presence and foothold on the continent of Kalimdor.  Numerous ruins now dotted the landscape alongside the decaying and forgotten woods.  An atmosphere of gloom and chill clung heavily on branches and rocks.

Just as he was crawling through the underbrush past Auberdine, a large village situated on the coast, the weather closed in.  At first a single raindrop fell on a leaf near his nose, and then the entire sky opened up and washed the foliage and ground.  Pretty soon everything was soaked in the downpour including his furry hide.  The storm at least served to wash away the sweat, blood, and dirt from earlier.  Although Draccus had the added protection of fur and thick skin to block out some of the weather, the cruel chill still saturated him to the bone.

“The warmth of a lodge’s roaring fire and a hot cider drink would be the prefect remedy to this miserable day,” Draccus mused to himself.  But he would not allow himself a moment of comfort while he was trapped thus.  So he continued southward wondering if he would lose himself forever to become another mindless creature stalking the woods, empty of the emotion he now carried.

A melancholy mood settled about him so thick that his attitude resembled the storm now venting itself around him.  A feeling of hopelessness and defeat started to eat at him.  This moment of self-pity was short lived however, because suddenly a thought occurred to him.  He faced a critical decision.  He could lay down and just let a slow death, a hollow despair take over and ruin him as a lesser creature.  Or, he could embrace this struggle and fight for a glimmer of hope.  A hope in regaining again his Night Elf form, his honor, and most importantly his forgiveness and redemption.

Draccus was just crossing the Wildbend River, which marked the southern portion of Darkshore, when he spotted a lone figure in the distance through the forest.  This mysterious person had struck camp under a cluster of trees back away from the road.  A leather tarp had been strung between several trees, providing extra shelter from the constant rain.  There was a small glowing fire that sent smoke up into the branches of the trees.  The rising smoke held the sweet scent of salmon fillets being cooked over an open fire.

Many forces compelled Draccus forward.  Perhaps it was the warmth of the fire pulled him in.  The promise of a stolen morsel to appease his empty stomach was too much to resist.  Or maybe the strongest force was something entirely else that he could not grasp.  Slowly he prowled closer in the shadows of the trees until he was fifteen paces from the back of the person busily preparing his evening meal.

Snap!  The ground shifted and quickly his paws were frozen to the earth.  In that one step Draccus found himself in the center of a Hunter’s trap.  A frost trap meant to immobilize its victim.

“Hello there.  I was wondering when you were going to come closer.”  A gentle and measured masculine voice sounded.  The figure stood calmly with his back still facing Draccus, who was still trapped by this talented tactic.  His right hand held a well-worn elven longbow, and in his other hand a notched arrow was resting against the string.

Turning his head towards his catch, the silver in the Hunter’s eyes reflected the campfire’s light.  From underneath his wide brimmed hat he heard an angry feral noise.  He brought the bow fully up now, and drew the arrow back aiming the shaft directly at the source of the noise.

Words would still not form out of his mouth, but with the guttural growl growing stronger Draccus was warning this person.  He would not die quietly, and if given the chance he would not die easily.  The fur on his back stood up on end, despite the rain matting it down and in defiance of his slayer.

A chuckle escaped the lips of the Hunter staring down at the furious animal within reach of his weapon.  He noticed a small wooden charm around the beast’s neck.  He had seen it a few other times; it was a symbol of Cenarion Circle members.

“Elune must be watching over you tonight.  Most other Hunters, especially them belonging to the Horde would have shot first then asked later.”

Not sure of his captor’s intentions, Draccus stilled his spirit to stop the menacing growl, but his sharp teeth were still bared and his razor claws extended out from his paws.  A moment passed where neither moved.

Draccus was locked in place by both the trap binding his feet, and in the confusion caused by this Hunter sparing his life and also speaking to him directly.

The Hunter was motionless because he was not sure how to respond.

“You are Kaldorei, brother, same as I.” The Hunter said tenderly trying to reach the intelligent part of the Druid who was clearly struggling within himself.

Turning his head slightly he exposed a pair of long purple ears in the light of the campfire.  He lowered his longbow and returned the arrow to its quiver.  “I mean you no harm.  My trap was only set to stop any thieves or attackers from sneaking up on me during the night.  I will disarm the trap that binds you if you promise to not spring upon me.  Do you understand what I am saying?”

Speechless and no longer filled with a desire to strike the person that had entrapped him, Draccus slowly retracted his claws and tucked away his bared teeth.  Removing all outward signs of aggression he looked at the woodsman and nodded in agreement.

“I guess the hospitable thing to do is invite you in out of the rain.  But first let us get you free from this trap of mine.”  The Hunter said with a lighthearted tone as he worked the small magical device that had set everything into motion.

“There!  No more ice holding you down my feline friend.”  He paused long enough to watch the Cat shake loose the ice crystals that had formed on his paws.  “Let’s move in closer to the fire and share a warm meal.  From the looks of the clouds and how the darkness keeps the Moon’s light from us tonight, might be best to camp here and decide what we need to do in the morning.”

Draccus walked under the cover of the leather tarp and branches above them, and immediately the small fire’s radiance began to warm him.  Thankfully the ground was dry where this experienced Night Elf had prepared his camp.  The space was large enough to accommodate his form across the fire from his host.  Gratefully Draccus bowed his head in appreciation and started to eat his portion of food.

The Hunter patiently waited to introduce himself after putting away his dishes.  “My name is Wades Quickshot.  A lord of the woods like any of our people.  I have travelled all over this land and even crossed the Seas a few times to distance continents.  Most of my life has been spent living and hunting off the land.  I only go into the major cities to trade and buy any goods I cannot find or make.”

Quickly wanting to show off his skills to his visitor, Wades reached into the breast pocket of his leather tunic and pulled out a small shiny object.  The brass metal pieces were fashioned together in the likeness of an owl. Wades took a unique tool from his hidden key ring hanging on his belt and turned it on the back part of this mechanical bird.

"He may be small but like any good engineering item he works most of the time.  I call him Arti.  Faithful messenger if ever there was one and a gift from a Gnome I met a long time ago."  Holding this marvel of metal, springs, and know-how lightly in his open hand, Wades wrapped a small note around one of the owl's little legs.

"Sending a message ahead of us to Astranaar in Ashenvale.  I know of an old Kaldorei who was once like you my friend, a Druid of the Claw.  Some said he had at one time lost himself completely to the transformation.  But now he lives apart from the community and tends to woods in solace."

Draccus had finished eating his salmon by now and was listening intently.  When this Hunter had mentioned a Druid having once been lost to the wilderness of transformation and able to come back, Draccus raised his head and stared at Wades.  Those words reached him as if they had given him the hope he had faintly prayed to find.

Shifting his feline weight as if he was getting ready to take to the woods again, Draccus was stopped by a raised hand.

"Be still and get some rest.  Tomorrow we will begin our journey into Ashenvale and with guidance from Elune maybe we will find this hermit that shared  in your current challenge.  I will go with you as far as I can."

With the rain steadily falling on the tarp and branches Draccus laid back down.  He waited for tomorrow's dawn as the campfire's light grew softer.  He just might be able to find someone who could help him without judging him for his guilt.

The Saga continues with... Two Worlds Merging