The Gift

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The Gift

Postby Kathene on Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:58 pm

(*dusts off the Ancient of Lore*

I've always wished I wrote more stories while I was in NG, and it might be a little late now but I've been RPing with Kath on Argent Dawn and got struck with some inspiration. I feel like her stories still belong here though, just in case anyone comes along to read them. And if you do I hope you'll enjoy this tale of a rescue in the snows of Winterspring, centuries ago...)

The Gift

In the midst of a blizzard, Kathene’s shadow moved through the snow.

The young sentinel-in-training had found she had a talent for keeping unseen. All Kaldorei could slip in to the shadows – such was their divine gift, but Kathene found the quiet darkness especially welcoming. She could wrap it around herself tightly, following prey unnoticed, or lying in wait for the perfect opportunity to finish a mission in a single, precise strike. And now, with the howling wind whipping a shroud of snow into the air, she barely had to try. She might as well be truly invisible… This was power, indeed, and the feeling it gave her was almost enough to keep out the chill.

She found her quarry huddled under a rocky outcropping, trembling in the cold. Good – her sisters hadn’t gotten to it first, which meant the glory would be hers alone. Delicately, she closed in, near enough now to see into its darting, frightened eyes. This would be easy…

She crouched low, bracing herself – and pounced.

“Thank the spirit of Ashamane you found him. He’s the only cub of Shan’rekhar – I feared we might lose that bloodline for good.”

The storm had at last abated, and now there was only a gentle snowfall as the violet Winterspring sky began to peek through the clouds above. The wintersaber trainer held the tiny cub by the scruff of his neck, looking the poor creature over for injuries – and with relieved smile set it down at his feet, where it prowled behind his legs for cover. The man gave a gracious bow to the gathering of sentinels before him.

“A little frightened, but none the worse for wear. You all have my gratitude – and that of Frostsaber Rock.”

All of us, hm? Kathene thought. She couldn’t hide the sour look on her face, but the trainer paid it no mind. Soon, he and the cub departed along the road northward, leaving the Ashbreeze sentinels at the edge of Starfall village.

Six of them had ridden out from the camp for the mission, plus the Commander. The Ashbreeze had always been a small regiment, but that was Commander Saberfang’s preference – the threats in Winterspring being fewer than other parts of the forest, but often more dire. Of course, this mission hadn’t been life-threatening, but it had presented a good chance to bring some of the trainees out. The silver-haired woman clapped her hands once as she took an authoritative stride to the front of the group, signalling the sentinels to hastily arrange themselves into a neat line for debriefing.

“Good work, tonight. I know searching for a lost cub in a storm may seem a humble task to some, but if any of you girls have dreams of riding a frostsaber of your own one night, you’ll come to be glad that you’ve helped foster our relationship with the trainers.”

The Commander paused to look along the line. She’d brought two of the more experienced huntresses along – she’d privately told them to hold back when it came to the search of course, but it was good for them to be out with the younger girls, not least because Winterspring had its ways of surprising the unready.

The other four were her newest trainees. She could see Nataya and Selkiel sharing an excited glance at the prospect of their very own frostsabers to ride. Those two had been quick to make friends from the moment they arrived – which was a good thing as long as they took their training seriously, and so far she’d been reasonably impressed. Nataya in particular seemed to have the makings of a leader. Beside them, Quiriss stood straight and still, eyes forward – the model soldier as usual. She had arrived well-prepared, from the type of family that expected every one of their daughters to serve as a sentinel without exception. She was disciplined and reliable, though it might be questionable how much was natural and how much had been meticulously rehearsed before she had left home. And then there was Kathene, the youngest, pointedly standing an extra half-step away from the others. It took no special gift to see what was going on behind her unmarked eyes.

Kathene had just been a child when the Commander first met her – a rescued orphan that she’d been persuaded to keep around the camp until a place could be found for her. Somehow it had become a permanent arrangement, and Kathene had become the quiet errand-girl about the camp, always on some task to wash the tabards or organize the herbs or gather the arrows that had fallen in the snow behind the targets. And then the Commander had found her one morning charging at one of the target dummies with a glaive twice her size. In the resulting crash she had almost sliced her own ear off, but it was a side of the girl that the Commander had never imagined was there. Intrigued, she had decided to put a training sword in Kathene’s hand and teach her the proper way – and she’d been impressed at how quickly the girl had taken to it.

Now, though, she had become the Ashbreeze’s freshest recruit, and the Commander sometimes wondered if that might have been a step too far. Sparring lessons were one thing, but while Kathene was proving herself with a blade, there was more to being a Sentinel, and some areas in which she was decidedly lacking; working with the others most of all. One thing was certain - this proud streak would have to disappear, and soon.

“Highglaive, Stoneclaw, you’ll ride ahead with me. The rest of you fetch your sabers and head back to the camp when you’re ready.” The two elder huntresses moved to their mounts quickly, taking a formation with the Commander. They’d ride just far enough off the path to be out of sight – it would give her a chance to see how the four behaved on the journey home.

Kathene sighed as she finished packing her saber’s saddle-bag, her breath turning to mist on the winter air.

She looked along her left arm – her leather bracer had been almost cut to ribbons by the frostsaber cub’s claws. It may have only been an infant, but the struggle the frightened beast had put up as she wrestled with it had been ferocious. Luckily, the bracer had taken the punishment for her, though no doubt she’d be in trouble for it later.

What really stung, though, was that she had capably tracked down and subdued the cub herself, and no one had made mention of it.

Just once, she thought, it would be nice to be recognized.

She gripped the saddle and prepared to climb on, when suddenly a shout came from behind her, abruptly pulling her out of her thoughts.

“Hey! Miss Sentinel! Wait!”

A child?

She let go of the saber and turned stiffly. Charging toward her along the path was a boy, much younger than her, his short blue hair bouncing as he ran. In his arms he clutched… a basket?

He stopped a few paces ahead of her, panting, then flashing a sharp-toothed grin.

“We made these for you!” he said, holding the basket up.

Kathene's stood frozen, staring at the boy’s face, and then slowly, uncertainly down to the basket. It was full of… rice-cakes?

“I… um…” Kathene began, her voice creaking. This had never happened before. She glanced around, hopeful to find someone else to take care of the situation, but she was on her own.

For a few moments, the two stood facing each other, each waiting for the other to do… something. The boy's smile began to fade.

“I… thought you might like them?” he said. Clearly, whatever Kathene was doing, it wasn’t what he had expected.

She stepped over to him, eyeing the basket suspiciously. It was brimming with little cakes of different kinds, some powdered, some plain, some glistening in the light. She looked from the basket to the boy again. He held it up a little higher.

Should I… take one? …What if the Commander is watching? Is this even allowed…?

Kathene could feel her face reddening, and her arm began to hesitantly reach out… only for a caped figure to suddenly swoop in front of her, crouching between her and the boy.

“Oh my goodness! You made these for us?” Nataya’s voice was almost musical with delight, and the young boy beamed at her as he turned his attention from Kathene, presenting the basket for the new arrival to inspect.

“Mother and father helped me, while you were out in the snowstorm” he said proudly.

“Well, they all look just wonderful. …These ones have moonberries in them?” Nataya took a small, folded cake from the basket, a deep reddish-purple filling evident within, and held it up. “Don’t they look good, Kathene?”

Kathene hadn’t moved a muscle. From behind her blade markings, Nataya fired a look at Kathene like an arrow.

“…Yes.” Kathene managed, looking back to the boy. “…You did well.”

Nataya raised an eyebrow at the words, but quickly turned to the boy again as she gently took the basket from him, ruffling his hair with a chuckle.

“You should go and tell your parents that we’re very grateful for your gift.” She said sweetly, and with a laugh, the boy took off down the path again, turning to wave at the sentinels as he ran back home.

Inwardly, Kathene breathed a sigh of relief. Nataya turned to leave, pushing the basket of cakes into Kathene’s hands as she passed by, a good-natured smirk on her lips. Kathene climbed up onto her saber’s back, balancing the basket in front of herself as they began the trek back to the their camp.

Perhaps the others had their moments. Sometimes.

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Re: The Gift

Postby Soriah on Thu Nov 30, 2017 3:01 am

This was great, Kath. :) A night insight into Kathene's past, but also into Kathene's mind.

You should write more. :)
"Surely it does not matter whether or not I believe, when my real concern is... does Elune believe in me?" - Soriah Shadowfury
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Re: The Gift

Postby Salirien on Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:19 am

Well this is certainly a blast from the past--and one I welcome with open arms. Long time no see, I hope you are well!

I was always intrigued by Kathene's character, and reading this makes me wish for more :) It's strange coming back here to read after so long, but it fills my heart with nostalgic warmth. Thank you for this lovely insight, Kathene ^^
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Re: The Gift

Postby Kathene on Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:32 pm

Aw, thanks you two :)

I've always had Kath's backstory in the back of my mind and been wanting to write it down to show people, and I sat down to write it a few times but never quite got it started in a way I liked... this story started out with me trying to write it from the beginning again but I ended up with this little moment ^^. I guess it gives a glimpse of how Kath was, but not really why, or how she changed from there.

I'm really happy you liked it though, I'll definitely try to write more! I've been reading through the ancient of lore since I came back to RP, and there's just so many great stories here to get inspired by, it puts me in the mood to write ^^
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Re: The Gift

Postby Tenshylwin on Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:40 pm

I really enjoyed that, it was a great read Kath, and hoping to see more coming from you!
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