Keeper of Secrets

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Keeper of Secrets

Postby Salirien on Wed Feb 10, 2016 12:10 pm

A little something, revealing what Salirien has been doing during the Naga crisis. Sometimes I write, and it just gets out of hand. Didn't mean for this to be so long, so suffer well! o/ Enjoy!

Keeper of Secrets

Darnassus was beginning to feel right again—like it had before the streets were turned into a prowling ground for Azshara’s Wrath. The people had not noticed much of a difference, or at least so Salirien hoped, but the Priestess herself felt relief. The Order’s last encounter with the Naga had left many questions in its wake, and a bitter aftertaste to boot. Salirien chose not to think of that right now. It was time to rejoice. It was also time to act.

It was late at night, and the sun would soon blossom violently in the sky, scorning the land. Usually, this Priestess worked long hours, quitting the Temple sometimes as late as during sunlit hours. She liked her duties, and the work they allowed her to do. Granting respite to the weary, and succor to the weak—she enjoyed being useful.

Right now a bed would be useful… She was sleepy, but not entirely done with the day’s chores. There was a new shift of Priestesses in the Temple, which allowed Salirien some much needed time to look after one of her other tasks. The Lantern of Elune.

She did not carry it on her person. She never did, apart from the one time she needed to know if she was being watched. Judging from the lack of response from Zarill and his ilk, there were no flies on her walls, at least not then. Now, it seemed, the Naga had been driven back, granting a window of peace again. She welcomed that very much.

There was a beauty to the dawn that Salirien had always found frightening. It was not molten and soft like twilight, nor really as garish and cruel as midday—there was a coarse harshness to the dawn, driving the night away. Still, azure, yellow and pink made for a spectacular sight on the sky, though it made Salirien want to avert her eyes. She sighed, stepping down the ramp from the Temple, crossing the bridge across the lake.

Three elves stood on the bridge, a man and two children. The young girl stood silently and patiently, and a young boy sat with his feet dangling over the edge. They all had dark hair and slightly feral features. No doubt they were a true family, related by blood. The youngest boy was perhaps no more than eight or ten winters. Salirien had always been horrible at telling age. It was a peculiar sight, however, children being awake at this hour. They were all looking up at the Temple. It’s not too late for prayers, I suppose. But Salirien also noticed the young boy wearing robes of silver and pearl. A Novice.

The little family look happy. “You will be the first man of our family to serve the Goddess, Berenath. It is a great honour.” The father spoke proudly—with good reason. There was no higher honour. There was no greater calling.

Salirien smiled warmly as she passed them, dipping her head in greeting. They all bowed respectfully, and Salirien just barely made out the words of the father, believing she was out of earshot. “One day, that will be you, son. That will be you.”

Things would have been so much easier, being born now.

She made her way through the Cenarion Enclave. Druids and their apprentices were clearing out, with the dawn so close. She recognised a few, dipping her head with a smile as she passed. Some stopped and bowed, some inclined their heads as they passed, all muttering a courteous “Priestess,” or “Sister”.

Behind the Enclave stood a circle of Druids, all eyeing her as she strode across the field. They could only look with dignity as she walked up to the grove of one of the Ancients of Lore.

Bago stood, leaning on a staff wrought from a once mighty oak, the Ancient’s enormous being outsizing most of the creatures Salirien had seen in her life. In a cape of autumn leaves and berries of red, the Ancient was surprisingly stylish. It carried lanterns on boughs jutting from its back, and a beard of copper-red leaves rather matched its autumn cape. Currently, it stood with his eyes closed, and Salirien could only guess it was listening to the wind.

Salirien came to a halt, a well five meters before the Ancient, clasping her hands in front of her body. She was well familiar with patience.

After a long while, Bago stirred, turning its head towards Salirien, a deep rumble emanating from its throat. “The little white one has come to visit me again. Doubtlessly, she has many questions this time, too…” It was a slow and churning slog whenever an Ancient spoke, but Salirien had an impression it was out of choice. She knew they could do battle. Their sluggish speech and behaviour only made them more frightening, she found.

“I hope I do not disturb your meditation, great Bago. I have come to you, for I am in need of wisdom.” Salirien spoke loudly, for she knew the great one’s senses were fading.

Bago chuckled calmly. “You seek wisdom. Riddles, dreams, knowledge, yes… Wise I may not be, but well-informed I am.” It turned its head a little, as if inspecting her through closed eyes.

Salirien frowned. And what exactly does that mean? She made no note of it, however, simply waiting patiently.

“Little… girl, tell me… What is on your heart tonight? Is it the same thing you pray for on the morn, before you sleep? Is it the same thing you pray for at midnight, when the Goddess is closest? Or have your perhaps a new want for knowledge?” Bago had a fondness for answering questions with riddles and questions of its own. It seemed tonight would be no different.

Salirien threw a glance around the grove. They were alone. “What is the best vault you can think of? Where do I go, when I have something I fear I cannot protect, and I wish to hide it away? It is an item of great importance, placed with me for safekeeping.”

“Would that not suggest that you are the best vault for this keepsake?” Bago quipped, in the sense an Ancient could quip. Salirien could have sworn it was smiling, eyes still closed.

“Perhaps that is so—I have taken great precautions—but I come to you for further aid. I need to know as much as possible, great Bago. I cannot risk any oversights.” She sounded sterner than she had meant to, but Bago nodded, autumn leaves chafing.

“The winds tell me you have been bestowed with an item used by the ones that broke the world. This troubles you not?” There was no judgment, nor scorn. The Ancient was curious.

“I am ill at ease, yes. Most of the time I wish to smelt the thing and have it broken and scattered. But I fear its nature would do little to benefit my goals if I did so. Additionally, we might come to need this relic in the future. It is… a delicate situation, great Bago. I do not lightly beg your aid.” Salirien bowed, but Bago did not watch. Still, the Ancient heard the whispers of the woods and wind, and she knew that it perceived more than she realised. That, too, made Bago only a little more frightening in its gentleness.

“Kaldorei… Child of the Stars, Daughter of the Moon Goddess… You have sought power to combat power… Truly, your request is that of a Mortal.”

Bago’s words stung, but Salirien knew they were not directed at her. They were for Azshara and her ilk, and perhaps the Kaldorei people as a whole. Perhaps it was the vice of all mortals to seek ever greater supremacy.

“I never asked for this power, yet I was entrusted with it. I shall not lie down and pity myself; my work continues, great Bago. I did not beg for this power to be dropped at my boots, but so it has been, and I pick it up for fear of what the fallen Queen might do should she procure it herself.”

To this, Bago opened its eyes. It looked off into the blossoming dawn, before landing its eyes on Salirien. “So, little white one… You have again become a keeper of secrets… How oft that office has been yours…” Bago leaned forward, extending a gnarled hand. The Ancient’s skin was dry and hard as bedrock, despite the flexibility of its movements. Its joints croaked and moaned as it moved. Salirien stepped forward, standing in its palm.

Bago stood straight again, holding her no more than a few feet from its face. It smelled of nature—resin and leaves in the deepest woods. “The Queen still stirs in the depths of Nazjatar, yes… she must never be allowed to return to the surface world. Of that, there must be no doubt. You have been thwarting her?” Bago spoke more softly.

Salirien nodded. “We are many that seek to unravel her tangled skein. Pulling at that thread has laid bare many secrets, and sadly, powerful relics that could be used for, I fear, great calamity.”

The Lantern of Elune, the relic bestowed upon her, had the arcane ability to dispel illusions near it. For a while, Salirien had been so afraid of the thing, she had thought to give it back to Moonflame. Yet her duties were important to her. They always had been—people relied on her. There was no room for failure.

“It is the nature, I find, of the Highborne… to break the world. They ruin themselves, they ruin nature, they ruin the land… No good shall e’er come from their hapless practice of powers they do not understand, nor relinquish. But that is a discussion for another night, when dawn does not threaten us so. Where is this… relic? The spirits say we are alone, you may speak with ease.”

Salirien had placed it where it belonged. “It has the look of a lantern. It hangs above the door to my home.”

Bago paused, looking at her. “Is this… perhaps you jest?”

The Priestess shook her head. “It looks like any other lantern. I made a few alterations, and blessed it to make it seem less inconspicuous.”

Bago chuckled again. “You are illusive, in more ways than one, Keeper of Secrets…” The Ancient smiled, or so Salirien believed it seemed.

Salirien did not know what to think of that. Everyone had secrets. It was the duty of the Sisterhood, too, to hold vast knowledge. And not all knowledge was good. The moon could be bright, but it always cast a shadow. The night, too, was in truth but the shadow of the sun’s dying light.

“But I do not believe this to be your sole endeavour.” Bago smiled still.

Salirien frowned. “How do you know?”

“I am an Ancient of Lore. I was made to know all things as they are, little white one. You are intriguing to me. For seven-hundred cycles and more, you have kept many things hidden. I do not judge you. I commend your dedication to you people, and The Goddess. But these seven hundred cycles have also prepared you well for hiding things away—yes. I do not believe you would dangle the nectar in you enemy’s face, without some sort of backup plan.” Bago peered through her, as she knew it would. That was why she had come to it, and not a fellow Sister of the cloth.

She smirked, pleased that the Ancient was able to recognise her. “You are not wrong, great Bago. During the procession to Moonglade, men and women of our entire people participated in pilgrimage. We all carried lanterns that night, I did too. I made a replica of Elune’s Lantern, and hid the item in Moonglade. If the Queen’s eyes were on us that night, they would be lost in Moonglade.”

Bago nodded… proudly? Salirien was unable to tell. But the Ancient seemed pleased. “So now the relic remains at your home, and your replica is in Moonglade?” Bago asked.

“Yes.” Salirien nodded.

“Liar.”

Salirien stood dumbfounded, agape. She needed to know how much she could lie to protect the darn thing, but… how on earth did Bago know?

“You came to me for wisdom, little white one. Truth is my profession, I have come to be quite familiar with her when I see her… I know well her sister, Deceit, too.” There was no gloating, nor really scorn. Bago simply was, and needed to be, what it had been created to be. Right now, it was helping Salirien make her plan as safe as it could be. The Ancient understood her position, how much she hated it, and that alone made her respect Bago all the more.

“The lantern outside my door was changed this dusk, after I awoke. It is also a replica, third and final imitation. The real lantern I keep encased in stone, beneath the floor of my home. In the Temple I placed a box filled with enchanted moonstones to replicate the lantern, but… it has been left unstirred in its vault. I do not fear that the Queen’s agents are after me, but I dare not falter. I dare not fail at this.” She did not say that the box of moonstones also contained a note that said “Eat kelp, serpent”. Just in case.

“They might be able to tell the difference between the replicas and the real thing. This has surely crossed your mind.” Bago tilted its gnarled head a little, peering at her curiously.

“I have been thorough, great Bago. The replicas are enchanted with the same spells that are placed on the original, and the Queen’s agents saw neither me nor Lantern during our clash in Desolace.”

“So one replica is in Moonglade, and one hangs above your door, after today… the true one is beneath your home. And a decoy in the Temple as well… Yet you wish a safer vault still…” Bago chuckled.

“When is an elf like a raven, little white one?” Bago asked. Salirien had been surprised by the lack of riddles so far, so this question served to restore some balance to the world.

She gave the question a moment’s thought. She could only think of the obvious answer, so she gave a light shrug in response. Bago smiled, looking pleased. “They both dress in the night’s colours, yet have an affinity for collecting silver, even when their nests are on the highest perch and cannot be knocked down.”

Salirien raised an eyebrow. Bago paused. “I am calling you a worry wort.”

That much she had understood, but she smiled in spite of herself.

There was a gentle turn in the wind, and the first rays of sunlight spilled across the top of Teldrassil. Bago looked pleased in the sun. It looked at her, tapping the oak tree cane in the soil gently, as if quite content with its own thoughts. “I have another riddle for you, Keeper of Secrets…”

Salirien tilted her head, looking up at the massive Ancient. “Yes, great Bago?”

Bago smiled. “When is an Ancient of Lore also like a vault?”

Salirien peered, but Bago seemed to have found enthusiasm and determination both.

“Exactly when you want it to be.”
"Shine your light on us, Mother, for the day has grown long, and we are lost."
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Re: Keeper of Secrets

Postby Tullain on Wed Feb 10, 2016 12:15 pm

Very enjoyable, many thanks for posting and look forward to hearing more :)
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Re: Keeper of Secrets

Postby Anhagath on Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:51 pm

I absolutely adored this! Very sweet interaction between elf and tree, and cool to get another peek into Sali's mind <3

Eat kelp, serpent.
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Re: Keeper of Secrets

Postby Aariam on Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:46 pm

Salirien loves wood!

Puns aside, it was a very enjoyable read. ^^ Like Anhagath said, the dialogue is adorable.
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Re: Keeper of Secrets

Postby Landrian on Wed Feb 10, 2016 7:19 pm

we need to install a like button so you can see the thumbs up i am currently giving you Sali.
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