A Heritance of Pride and Pain

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A Heritance of Pride and Pain

Post by Kathene » Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:58 am

(Soo, here it is... I got away with joining the guild without an application way back when so I never had a background on the site, but by now I've had time to think of one. It's going to end up being a few parts, I think. This might get long, but I hope you enjoy it! ^^)

I: Fading Memories

It was rare to see the village so lively. Nestled in the far reaches of Winterspring and hidden from the world by a grove of snow-capped trees, Syranaar was a usually a quiet and gentle place. Only a dozen or so elves called it home, and visitors were few – the occasional passing trader, or travellers on pilgrimage to Hyjal who had strayed far from the road. Though recent decades had brought with them the excitement of a few newly born arrivals, time often seemed to pass like a dream here - each night like the night before, and the thousand nights before that. But tonight, the elves of Syranaar had gathered around a bonfire at the village’s heart - a time for celebration.

The lorekeeper paced in front of the fire, a white cloak draped around his shoulders to keep off the night’s chill. His voice boomed over the crackling flames, spinning a familiar tale of the ancient past – the pride of the highborne, the coming of the demons, the courage of the ancients… and the birth of their home.

“…It was here in this very grove that a band of kaldorei, fleeing from the burning cities and raging battles sought shelter. But demons are relentless creatures. One had followed them in their flight, and not the trees, nor the cliffs, nor the shadows could deter their pursuer – a great demon lord with skin red like blood, taller than the tallest elf and three times again, seething with malice and intent on claiming their souls!”

With practiced timing, he kicked a large branch at the bonfire’s edge. The fire surged with the sudden rush of air, a host of embers rising from the flames like frightened birds. A satisfied half-smile crossed his lips as he heard a gasp from one of the young ones in the audience, and he paused to let the scene quiet.

“But… In all the chaos that had consumed the world, Elune had not cast a blind eye on the plight of any of her children. In that desperate hour, there came a noble priestess…”

He cast an eye out across the gathered faces… there she was, kneeling with the children. Her gaze met his from beneath her silver-rimmed hood, and though she often tried to conceal her feelings the centuries together had made her face an open book to him – that raised eyebrow betrayed just a hint of embarrassment, but that was about what he had expected from her… As for the violet-haired little one she held on her lap, her eyes were wide with excitement as she hung on his every word. Perfect.

“...With a whispered prayer, great roots burst from the ground! Wreathed in moonlight, they bound the demon’s arms and legs, and though he struggled with all his fel might, he could not break free of nature’s grasp. With the Goddess’s light flowing through her like fire, the priestess aimed her bow true and let loose a searing silver arrow that pierced the demon’s heart. The jade fire in his eyes faded… his terror ended for all eternity.”

The lorekeeper caught the woman’s eye-roll in the corner of his vision, but it only made him smile. Perhaps over the ages the story had gained some embellishments, but the truth at its heart was undeniable.

“As the survivors gathered to await the sundering of the world, they pledged to build a new home together here, at the site of their salvation. They would name it in honour of the priestess who delivered them from the demon’s clutches – Ilsyra Wildstar. Certainly, they might have picked a warmer spot to do it. But for nine millennia, Syranaar has been our sanctuary in the snow.”

As the lorekeeper bowed to the village with a smile, the small girl in the woman’s lap turned to look up at her, eyes full of wonder.

“There must be other stories you could tell.” The priestess sighed.

The fire had mostly died down now, and the kaldorei had returned to their homes for the coming dawn. The priestess and lorekeeper walked side by side, their daughter a few steps ahead, jumping from stone to ancient stone along the snowy path.

“I think not,” the white-robed man replied with a grin, waving an arm out toward the village. “This is our story! Your story. It’s too important to let fade. And besides,” – he nodded toward the girl – “she enjoyed it.”

The priestess’s elbow gave him a light jab in the side, but there was some warmth in her voice when she spoke. “You know what I mean. You make me sound like such a heroine… Pride isn’t good for any of us, Davanas.”

“Well, we’ll just have to disagree on that.” He met her eyes with a sure smile. “She’s old enough to understand the stories now, and like it or not, I’m going to make sure Kathene knows just how proud she should be to call you her mother.”

Ilsyra shook her head, but couldn’t help the flicker of a smile as she looked down at her daughter skipping along, excitedly recounting every detail of the night’s tale again as they walked the path home.

Home was always full of books. They lined the walls on great shelves and piled up in the corners, on top of and beneath the tables, spreading across every surface. Mother had her share of religious texts, but most of them belonged to Kathene’s father. As a lorekeeper, he relished finding old tomes, restoring and cataloguing them, and penning new copies to keep the knowledge within from being lost to time.

To Kathene the words meant little, of course. But the pictures – when she was lucky enough to find them – the pictures were spellbinding. Maps of the stars and far-off lands, sketches of ancient cities with magnificent towers that reached up into the sky… Sometimes there would be impossibly detailed diagrams of plants and creatures, or strange patterns of circles and triangles that seemed to mean nothing, but were fun to look at. There was just so much to see in the treasure-trove that was her father’s library, and there was never any end to it.

But that night, as she searched through the shelves, there was only one thing she was looking for.

My mother, the hero of the village… My mother, the priestess. When I grow up, I’ll be like her. I’ll defeat the demons, and save the people who need help.

She selected a book – one she’d never read before - and heaved it down from the shelf. It was almost as big as she was; a dark, leather-bound tome with a silver moon inlaid in the centre of the cover. Carefully, she pulled it open…

It was penned in an elegant, flowing script that covered each page from top to bottom – not her father’s hand. She turned through more and more of the delicate pages, hunting… There were just words, no pictures.

But that was alright. She could pretend to read them for now.

Mother was sitting at the end of her bed.

It was a precious, fleeting memory – the kind that fades no matter how hard one might try to cling to it through the passage of years. And Kathene had clung to it for so long that it had become hard to know if parts of it were real or imagined. She knew it hadn't been long after she'd heard the story at the bonfire. Months, perhaps, or a handful of years.

Mother was dressed in an armoured robe, one that Kathene had never seen before. It was beautiful, almost regal – finely tailored mooncloth that gleamed silver where the light caught it, beneath ornate metal plates each bearing a jewelled crescent moon. A bow was laid on the bed next to her – strong, dark wood with silvery glyphs faintly shining across its length. Beside her, a heavy looking leather bag rested on the floor, a quiver of arrows lain against it.

Mother’s hood was down, her long, white hair flowing over her shoulders and back. Kathene could almost remember her face – pale, but warm. Her markings were a silver dragon, proudly spreading its wings across each of her mother’s eyes. And those eyes were so sad…

Mother spoke, but her voice was silenced, as if coming from beneath the surface of a bottomless ocean. Kathene had spent sleepless days trying to recall the sound of her mother’s voice, but no matter how hard she tried to grasp at it, that part of the memory had long since faded. All that remained was the feeling of warmth as she was held against her mother’s chest... soft lips pressed against her forehead, and a tear that ran down the dragon’s wing.

And then she was gone.

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Re: A Heritance of Pride and Pain

Post by Kathene » Wed Dec 20, 2017 10:30 pm

II: The Absent Light

Mother had never come back.

The War of the Shifting Sands had claimed so many lives, sentinels and druids alike. The stories that had made their way back from the desert were horrifying, but Kathene and the other children had been shielded from the worst of them. They had held a ceremony for Ilsyra, and Kathene had been lifted by her father to place a candle on the village’s shrine, not truly understanding the meaning of it all.

Mother can’t be gone forever, can she?

The thought dug a deep, empty pit in her stomach. No, it didn’t make sense. Maybe she was just lost. Maybe she made friends with the dragons who had fought alongside the kaldorei, and had gone to wherever it was that dragons lived. Or she’d found some other important duty that needed to be fulfilled on her way home. One night, when she’d been upset, father had shown her his map of Kalimdor so she could see where her mother had gone. It had been so big - so many places between there and here, and much of it uncharted… there were plenty of places she could be. And it wasn’t as if anyone had gone and looked, had they? So how could they know?

That had been ten years ago. They didn’t hold the storytelling bonfire nights anymore.

“Focus, Kath. Remember what I told you. Keep your mind on the balance. It’ll come.”

Her eyes closed in a tight frown of concentration and her hands clasped together in prayer, Kathene knelt in the snow before Syranaar’s shrine. It was a small thing for a small village – a square stone pillar in a quiet clearing, each ancient surface engraved with prayers and sacred images. Perched on a large rock at the clearing's edge behind Kathene, a young blue-haired woman in a warm mooncloth robe watched patiently.

I am focusing! Kathene thought.

I am balancing! But it won’t… I can’t… Wait.

With a sudden gasp, Kathene’s silver eyes flashed open. Slowly, delicately, she opened her trembling hands…


No silvery glow, no soft mote of light twisting gently upward into the night air, no gentle touch of astral warmth. Nothing but her own cold hands. A long, dejected sigh rose as mist from her breath as her posture sank down. She heard footsteps in the snow from behind, and soon found the hand of her teacher, Cerythe, on her shoulder.

“Don’t worry, Kath. These things take time. Truth is, I’d have been more surprised if you’d been able to do it.”

Kathene twisted around to look up at her, eyes wide and pleading. “But I read all the books you told me to! I memorized all those prayers! I say them before every sunrise…” The girl’s voice had a tone of frustration that quickly made way for desperation. “Mother could make the Goddess’s light when she was young… Why can’t I?”

Cerythe crouched down beside Kathene, gently turning her young pupil to face her, though Kathene’s eyes wouldn’t meet her own. “Kath… it’s a little more complicated than that. Not many can just call on it naturally like your mother, you know. For most of us, it takes a long time to develop that connection with Elune.”

“…But how long?”

Cerythe could only meet the question with a shrug of her shoulders. “I don’t have the answer. Sorry. If you’re like me, it might take years of studying and contemplation...” She watched Kathene’s brow furrow, and applied a quick squeeze to the girl’s shoulder.

“And sometimes," she continued, "it’s the other way - the Goddess finds you. Like a sudden light to lift you out of despair, just when you need her the most.”

And for some, Cerythe added to herself with an internal shudder, it never comes at all, no matter how hard they try. Goddess, I hope that isn’t her. If she’s frustrated now…

Cerythe took Kathene’s hand and stood up with her. “Every priestess’s connection to Elune is different, Kath. You’ll have your own - different from your mother’s, and different from mine. But we’ll find it together, no matter how long it takes us. I promise.”

Slowly, Kathene’s gaze rose to meet hers again. “…And then you’ll teach me everything, right? Everything my mother taught you?”

“Absolutely.” She flashed Kathene a smile, and to her relief, the girl smiled back. “…Now, your father will be back soon. Why don’t you go find him? And in the meantime, I’ll think of something else we can try.”

It hadn’t been the first time she’d watched Kathene try this without success, and it probably wouldn’t be the last. For as long as she’d known the girl, her heart had been set on following in her mother’s footsteps – and since Ilsyra had gone, her daughter’s desire had only seemed to grow stronger. Kathene was always full of questions about her mother, but - exhausting though it might sometimes become - she didn’t mind satisfying Kathene’s curiosity. It was nice to reminisce. And what girl wouldn’t be curious about who her mother was?

Somewhere along the line, those questions had become demands for training. Cerythe’s willpower had been no match for Kathene’s persistence, and so the lessons had begun. Kathene was a diligent study, and always enthused… but, well, to say she was short on patience was to put it mildly.

Cerythe ran her hand over one side of the shrine, brushing away a scattering of snowflakes, and her fingers lingered on the carved relief below. There, immortalized on the ancient stone, was her teacher Ilsyra - one hand outstretched toward the moon above, rays of the Goddess’s light emanating from her palm. By her sides were the kaldorei she had saved, taking sanctuary with her as the world ended around them. A hard image to live up to, she thought. And I should know...

“But I have to keep trying, hm?” she spoke quietly to the stone, a fondness in her eyes as she looked on the image of her mentor.

“I don’t know if I’m really ready for this, for teaching her… It doesn’t feel so long ago that you started to teach me. There’s a lot I wish you were still here to guide me with. But if I can put a smile on her face… well, that’s the best way I can think of to honour your memory.”

Cerythe’s hand returned to her side, and a smile of certainty found its way to her face. “…And I think I know just the way to do it.”

Her sorrows forgotten for now, Kathene dashed down the familiar rocky trail from the shrine with ease, finishing with a little jump onto the snowy path that ran through the village. She could see her father in his white cloak at the village’s centre, back from one of his expeditions. He was talking with one of the hunters, Ursael – a towering, bearded man with a name like a bear and a form to match. Strong arms folded, he was glaring hard at a black tome that her father held aloft in one hand. She ran over, but her pace slowed as she came close enough to hear their words.

“Don’t flaunt that thing around. It’s dangerous. Evil. You should have left it in whatever forsaken crypt you found it in.” The hunter’s voice was low, unamused, but her father wore a smile – perhaps she was too young to see that it was a nervous one.

“It was in a tower, not a crypt. And it’s just a book, Ursael. You’re not afraid of some dusty pages, are you?”

Ursael’s eyes narrowed, his voice turning to a grave snarl. “Don’t treat me like a fool, lorekeeper. It’s a book of magic. You have no right bringing such things into the village where I raise my children.”

Davanas’s jovial tone was lost. Now he sounded almost hurt. “I’ve kept my archive for centuries, Ursael, you can’t possibly-“

“Times change, Palecloak. Just you remember that.” Ursael pushed one finger against Davanas’s chest, and gave him a harsh stare, his next words like ice. “Perhaps I won’t cast such a blind eye on your sordid habits, now that your wife is gone.”

With that, the hulking hunter turned to leave, barely stopping to register Kathene’s presence with a grunt as he stepped past her.

Silent, Kathene looked at her father; he looked deflated, his back still to her and the book hanging loosely in his grip by his side.


A moment passed, and Davanas’s shoulders rose, a wide smile back on his face as he met her gaze.

“There you are, Kathene! Did you have fun with Cerythe while I was gone?”

But try as he might, his daughter’s attention was on the book in his hand, wariness in her eyes. “…Is it really a book of magic?” she asked, and Davanas’s face fell in an instant.

“No, no, don’t worry about that!” he rushed, kneeling beside her and placing a hand on her shoulder. He held the book close for her to see. “It’s a book about magic, yes, but that’s something very different altogether. Magic may be dangerous, Kathene, but we can’t be afraid to speak its name. If we just allow ourselves to forget about the past, well… how will we learn anything from it? The truth is, this book is a real treasure.”

Kathene eyed the strange book for a moment. It looked truly ancient, its leather cover cracked and petrified, and the withered pages it held seemed ready to crumble to dust. She could make out some of what looked like the title, and though the letters were familiar – if overly elaborate – she couldn’t make sense of the words they made up.

Still, that was probably just how old books looked before her father restored them. There were more important things to talk about.

“I couldn’t make the light again… but Cerythe said she’d teach me something el-“ Kathene began, but Davanas held up a finger to hush her and stood again, the tome held close to his chest.

“Tell me about it later, Kathene. “ He cast a wary eye around the circle of homes. “I’m sorry. Just… let me get this book inside first...”

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Re: A Heritance of Pride and Pain

Post by Kathene » Fri Jan 05, 2018 12:47 am

(I wasn't sure if the next two parts worked best as one long part or split in two... I wanted a feeling that the events were drawn out over a while, but it's tough to balance that and keep the story moving ^^; Hopefully you enjoy, even if it gets a little dark from here on...)

III: The Dark Between the Stars

With her eyes closed, a gentle hand at Kathene’s back guided her along the village’s path. She didn’t need sight to know she was being led to the shrine – in her fourteen years, she had rarely gone beyond the trees at the village’s edge, and the area they encircled had come to be as familiar as the back of her hand.

Still, there was more to Syranaar than just that which one could see. Each breath of wind brought with it a rustling murmur from all directions as it shook the trees, accompanied by a stinging chill that Kathene felt bite at her face and the tips of her ears. Two sets of footsteps crunched through the snow beneath them, Cerythe’s silver tipped boots sometimes clacking against the stones below. If one really listened, they might even be lucky enough to hear the solemn hoot of one of the proud owls that made its home in the woods beyond the village.

A tug of fingertips on her shoulder brought Kathene to a stop, and she heard Cerythe’s voice beside her.

“Okay, Kath. Open your eyes!”

She did; and there, resting on the shrine before her was a sight that left her speechless. With a quick glance to Cerythe for a permissive nod, she quickly moved to pick up and unfurl the unexpected gift.

The fabric shimmered as it moved in her hands, seeming to flow from silvery-white to pale blue and back again. It was a mooncloth robe – a priestess’s robe, beautiful and pure, with long flared sleeves and a lining of white fur inside to keep out the cold. About its neck were chains of delicate silver links, weaving a looping pattern like the petals of a flower over the chest, and at the flower’s heart they joined in a ring that held a large, round sapphire. The gem’s heart was a deep, dark blue that verged on blackness, but at its edges, where it caught the moonlight, it seemed almost alight with bright, vibrant shades from blue to aquamarine that danced outward onto the silver cloth.

“…Is this really for me?” Kathene finally managed to ask, her voice almost shaking.

“It really is. That robe was one of your mother's, she gave it to me when she took me on as her acolyte. And now I think you should have it, Kath.”

Instinctively, Kathene held the silver robe closer. This came from my mother?

“Now, I did take it to a tailor in Starfall for some adjustments, but it’s probably still a little big for you. But I’m sure you’ll grow into it before you know it.” Cerythe winked, but it was lost on Kathene, whose attention was fully elsewhere.

“You can change into it now if you want. Better hurry though, or you’ll freeze!” She grinned playfully, and turned away to allow the girl some privacy as she continued.

“Tonight I thought we could work on your meditation some more. I know it isn’t easy to clear your mind, and it’s not as exciting as summoning up searing arrows, but if you want to be able to do that, this is the foundation that leads us there. A priestess needs to be able to feel the forest and the life around her by instinct. When something is wrong, she can sense it without even needing to look.” Taking a breath, Cerythe felt a frown tug at her brow, and she turned back.

Kathene hadn’t moved. She just sat at the foot of the shrine, staring down at – or through – the robe in her hands.

“Kath? What’s the matter?" There was a tone of worry to Cerythe's voice. "There's nothing wrong with it, is there?”

Kathene didn’t look up, and though she was looking at the robe, there wasn’t any excitement in her words. “No... it's wonderful. Thank you Cerythe. It's just... I was hoping we could talk about something tonight.”

Cerythe seemed taken by surprise. “Of course we can. What’s on your mind?” She padded through the snow to sit beside Kathene. “…Is it your mother?”

Kathene shook her head. “It’s father. Ever since he brought that black book home, he’s hardly come out of his study. It’s been a week…”

“Oh, Kath. I’m sure nothing’s wrong. You know how he is; he just gets absorbed in his work.” Cerythe laid a sympathetic hand on Kathene’s shoulder, but she quickly shrugged it away.

“No, it’s different to usual. That night he brought it back, I saw him and Ursael arguing about it… he said it was a book of magic, that it was putting the village in danger. And then-”

Cerythe stopped her with a sigh. “Ursael? I should’ve known. Listen, Kath, your father does collect some strange things sometimes, but you and I both know he’d never put this village at risk, right? And Ursael, he means to be our protector, but sometimes that man’s temper gets in the way of common sense…”

Cerythe trailed off, and there was quiet between them. Kathene glanced over to her teacher who sat in pensive thought, her chin resting on a fist. After a moment, Cerythe’s eyes flicked back to Kathene, and a confident smile returned.

“But you know, this is exactly the kind of thing priestesses like us have to deal with. When there’s a dispute among kaldorei, our duty is to mediate and stop things from getting out of hand. How does this sound, Kath? I’ll pay Ursael a visit tonight, and I’ll leave your father to you. I know you can cheer him up. Show him that robe! He’ll be over the moon for you.”

Kathene peered up into Cerythe’s reassuring gaze. She always seemed to know just what to do… and yet she couldn’t shake away the unease she felt. Maybe she should have mentioned what Ursael had said about her mother. But at least this was something. She glanced back down to the gleaming sapphire, and put on her bravest smile.

“I’ll try.”

Back at home, wearing her new precious robe, Kathene was preparing a meal. Cooking was a simple pleasure; it brought with it faint,warm memories of being together with mother, of stirring pots and licking spoons. She remembered watching in amazement as her mother’s knife moved like water, slicing vegetables to ribbons in the blink of an eye. Most often the village shared whatever food the hunters had gathered in the hall or around a fire, but more and more often now, her father would stay at home, leaving her to collect food to prepare for him.

She’d looked in the library for recipes from time to time; most of what she had found were ostentatious highborne dishes that called for crystal platters and spices that she’d never heard of, and far more sets of knives and forks than seemed practical. She’d meant to make a stew tonight, but now that she had her mother’s robe, sauce stains seemed an especially deadly threat. Boiled vegetables and a slice of venison would have to do, then. She arranged the food on the plate as pleasingly to the eye as she could, though in her heart she knew it wouldn’t really matter.

She took the plate to the door of her father’s study. Sparing a moment for a quiet sigh of dread, she knocked, and waited…

No response. She knocked again.

Still nothing.

She opened the door.

Inside his study, just as he had been every night the past week, father was hunched over his desk, the dark-covered book spread open in front of him, and his white robe hanging over the back of his chair. If he had heard her come in, he wasn’t betraying any sign of it. Hesitantly, she spoke.

“Father? I’ve brought you dinner.”

He raised his head, but didn’t turn back.

“Oh, Kathene. How kind. Set it down by the door, would you?” Davanas waved a dismissive hand back toward her.

Kathene glanced down to her feet, where three similar dishes waited on the floor, untouched.

She placed the new one down beside them. It stung. Part of her wanted to scream at him; maybe that would wake him up. But she buried it. Remember what Cerythe said…

“Father, do you want to see what Cerythe gave me?” she asked apprehensively.

Davanas’s head shook a little, and when he finally ripped his gaze off the pages in front of him, he wore an annoyed look for just a fraction of a moment – and then it melted away into surprise.

“…Kathene, look at you!”

He stood and walked across to her, a joyous smile spreading fast across his unshaven face.

“What a lovely robe. Your mother used to have one just like this… Cerythe gave it to you? It’s the same one, then.” There was wonder in his voice as his fingertip traced its way along one of the familiar silver chains. “I remember this. Stars above, you look beautiful.”

Her father hugged her, and Kathene felt happy tears at her eyes. Maybe this was really going to work. She decided to push her luck.

“Do you want to come and eat with me?”

A sudden reluctance crept over her father’s face as he cast a glance back to his desk.

“I would… but I’m almost finished with this book, Kathene. I know it’s taken a long time, and I’m sorry, but it’s truly incredible. In all my years, I’ve never seen one like this.” His hand patted her on the shoulder. “I’ll be finished tonight, I promise.”

Kathene’s father kissed her forehead, and without another word he was back to the tome on his desk. As the study door closed behind her, Kathene felt her heart sink.

The disturbance quickly forgotten, Davanas leant over the book once again, struggling to grasp the words as they seemed to swim across the murky page. Surely he was close by now, and yet time and again, just as he felt he was about to unlock the answers that the book hid, they leapt back - as if they were alive, taunting him. It was maddening.

Of course, he was far beyond the point of being able to realise what was wrong. As he read on, he barely noticed himself slipping away.

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Re: A Heritance of Pride and Pain

Post by Kathene » Fri Jan 05, 2018 12:49 am

IV: Dreaming's End

In all of Kalimdor, there was no such thing as a silver-scaled dragon, but Kathene often saw one in her dreams. Tonight, she stood alone in an endless snowfield as she watched it swoop high overhead, great wings outstretched, its silhouette dark against the vibrant, starry purple sky of Winterspring.

It was a beautiful sight, even from so far below. She wished she could soar up there alongside it, but she had no wings of her own. She could only chase on foot after the shadow it cast onto the snow; further and further still until she looked up to see the dragon vanish effortlessly over the mountains ahead. As she stared up at the cliffs, they seemed to stretch upward forever. But if she reached the top, would she be able to see the dragon again?

She tried to climb the rocks, but with each attempt to find her grip, she only found herself slipping back down, landing back in the soft snow before she could even begin.

And then, she felt herself pulled away from the dream, back into the waking world…

Kathene sat up and rubbed her eyes.

Father was sitting at the end of her bed.

Abruptly, he gripped her wrist and she found herself pulled harshly out of the blankets, down onto the cold floor.

“We’re leaving.” he said simply.

The dawning sun outside was uncomfortably bright, and where its light met the white snow it burned her eyes. Kathene struggled to keep up with her father as he strode out into the morning, pulling her along by the arm. He hadn’t said anything more, or even given her time to get dressed – it was lucky that she’d fallen asleep in the mooncloth robe, or she’d certainly be freezing solid.

Between the blinding light and the lingering tiredness from the rude awakening, there was no time to wonder where her father was taking her so late, or to protest. She looked up at him through bleary eyes; his face looked stern as he walked, and he paid her no mind.

Her father’s stormsaber was sleeping beneath a tree – he woke it with a kick, eliciting a snarl from the beast. He lifted Kathene onto the saddle, and finally she found her timid voice.

“Where are we going?”

He gave her no answer. As he prepared to climb on the saber’s back behind her, a deep voice called out from behind, freezing him in place.

“Davanas? Brother?”

Ursael closed the distance between them quickly, but his voice was much softer than usual when he spoke. “I was just looking for you. I wanted to say-” The hunter’s words abruptly halted as his eyes met Kathene’s on the saber’s saddle.

“…What goes on here?” he asked, a frown forming on his brow.

Davanas’s reply came cold and sharp. “None of your damned business, hunter.”

Ursael was taken aback. “Brother, please listen, I-“

Growing more agitated by the moment, Davanas twisted around and cut him off with a glare. “I said it’s none of your concern! Stay away from my family!”

Ursael stood silenced, but another set of footfalls hurriedly made their way over. Cerythe looked shocked, her eyes flickering uncertainly between the three elves. This was not what she had intended.

“Davanas, what’s gotten into you? Kathene? Where is he taking you?”

Kathene trembled, and it took her a few attempts to finally spit out an answer. “I… don’t know, I-“

The young priestess stepped forward and reached out toward Kathene.

“Let me get you down from there. Let’s all of us just-“ Suddenly, Cerythe was pulled roughly backward.

“Don’t touch my daughter!”

The knife in her father’s sleeve moved faster than Kathene’s eye could see. Even when it was planted in Cerythe’s stomach, she didn’t understand what she was witnessing – not until her teacher suddenly crumpled and dropped onto the snow, blood beginning to soak through her robe, its blue cloth turning a deep, cruel purple.

The world seemed to fall silent as Kathene felt her eyes go wide, her hands bringing themselves up to her mouth. She felt the rumble of Ursael’s furious roar as he lunged at her father, but couldn’t pull her gaze away from Cerythe laying there, growing pale as she clutched at her wound, her usual warm smile ripped away. She gave Kathene a look that she couldn’t understand, blood trickling from her lips. Kathene wanted to go to her, help her somehow – but her body wouldn’t move.

Ursael stumbled back into her view with a snarl, a deep cut running along one of his bare arms. He sank to his knees beside Cerythe, cradling her and shaking her by the shoulders as she seemed to fade away. He looked up at Kathene, desperation in his eyes.

“Get away from him, girl, he’s bewitched!”

The stormsaber was just as bewildered as she was, and it suddenly lurched below her with a hiss – she was about to topple off when her father’s hand firmly grabbed her by the shoulder to steady her as he climbed onto the saddle behind her and spurred the beast to move.

Before she could think, the saber bolted out into the woods, and Kathene looked back to see Ursael running a last few futile steps after them, Cerythe limp in his arms – the two of them shrinking away as the distance between them grew.

They had ridden for hours until the sun was high in the sky, not a word spoken between them. Her father had taken her through the woods, and they had emerged into a part of Winterspring she didn’t recognize at all. They rode across the snow and then deep into the forest, so deep that the day seemed to turn back to night around them, and then became darker still. Eventually, the saber was too frightened to go further – father lifted her off the saddle and led her by the hand again as the beast spat and ran, her father’s pace never slowing or ceasing as they continued into the darkness ahead.

Kathene’s head and heart were burning, her eyes stinging with tears. She was too tired to move, and too thirsty to speak, but her father’s grip left her no choice but to keep up. Her mind raced, desperately trying to make sense of what had happened, of what was happening now, but there were no answers.

After what felt like an eternity, her father finally stopped, and Kathene dropped to her knees behind him. Mother’s robe was ruined from the journey, its silver cloth stained black and brown with mud. The trees here weren’t like the trees around the village – these looked dry and dead, their bark was black, their leaves gone. Just ahead, a familiar blue glow lit the dead forest – a moonwell, and sitting at its edge was a figure dressed in red, watching them. Her father lifted her by her shoulder and gave her a push forward – she walked a few weary steps more until she was close enough to see the strange elf, who stood to greet her, arms wide.

No, it wasn’t that he was wearing red. His arms and shoulders were covered in red fur, dark and matted. Nor was he an elf; his flesh was a sickly shade of brown, and his eyes black. Two long, curled horns rose from somewhere beneath his mane of knotted scarlet hair.

Recoiling in fright, she turned back to her father, who just stood and watched impassively. A gnarled, clawed hand gripped her shoulder.

“Now, now,” a coarse voice hissed in her ear. “No need to be afraid, little Wildstar. You can trust me.”

Trembling, she slowly turned her head, coming face to face with the satyr’s black, empty eyes. He smiled a sharp-toothed grin.

“I’ve been waiting to meet you. I’m…” – he paused to chew over his words, snickering. - “…an old friend of your mother’s.”

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Posts: 166
Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2014 12:23 am
Character: Salirien
Realm: Argent Dawn
Class: Priestess
Location: Norwegian fjord

Re: A Heritance of Pride and Pain

Post by Salirien » Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:09 pm

Finally got around to reading these ones, and boy am I glad I did! I really enjoy your writing, and I hope there is more to come! This is really good stuff, Kathene! ^^
[i]"Shine your light on us, Mother, for the day has grown long, and we are lost."[/i]

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