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Krell

Of Dreams and Faerie Wings...
#1
The green plains of Mulgore spread out like an emerald sea under leaden clouds as another wave of early spring storms rolled over the valleys. Sunset was coming soon, although the storm clouds blocked any sight of the sun. Perched on a large boulder, the huntress seemed oblivious to the rain soaking her and the ground around her. Jade green eyes studied the distant horizon as she was lost deep in thought. Even her usually constant companions chose not to intrude upon her solitude.

The two lions watched from the shelter of a small house nearby. Beside them, the tauren druid also watched her friend. Finally, with a sigh, Mahenaska stepped out into the rain and walked over to where the huntress sat. Her warm amethyst eyes studied the blood elf as she approached.

“If you stay out in the rain too long you will start to grow moss like the rocks do.” She smiled, “What troubles you, Kai?”

Kaisharra turned slightly and glanced over at the druid. “Oh, nothing, Mahen. I was just thinking.”

Nodding, Mahen gently put a hand on Kai’s shoulder. “Your heart is heavy. Come inside and dry off, and talk to Mahen, yes?”

Kai sighed and slipped off the boulder, “Alright, but you didn’t need to come out here for that, you know. Now I have to put up with the smell of a wet tauren.” She winked over her shoulder at her friend as she joked.

“Feh! The smell of a wet elf is even worse.” Mahen teased back.

The two stepped inside Mahen’s home and the tauren chuckled, “Find some dry clothes and put that wet stuff by the fire to dry. I’ve some stew cooking that will help keep the chill from you as well.”

“Aye, I am starting to get hungry. Thank you.”

Kai changed into her spare clothes and spread her wet clothing over a rack near the fire to dry. Fluffing her wet hair with a dry cloth, she moved over to the table and sat down. Mahen placed a bowl of stew and a chunk of fresh bread on the table in front of Kai, then dished up some for herself and settled down at the table. Kai took a few bites of the stew and then tore off some of the bread to eat as she collected her thoughts. Mahenaska watched, but remained silent, not wanting to rush her friend.

“Mahen, do you believe in dreams?”

The druid chuckled and waved her hand around to the many carefully woven dreamcatchers that decorated her home. “You ask a tauren this? Silly elf. Of course we believe in dreams. But more to the point, why do you ask?”

Kaisharra grinned, “Aye, I’m sorry, but I’ve been having the same dream now for several nights and its beginning to bother me.”

Mahen nods, “Well then, what can you tell me of this dream?”

The huntress paused for a moment to eat more of her meal, and then looked back up at her friend. “The first thing is that I’m having this dream at all. Mahen, I don’t dream. Not in more years than I care to count.”

Brows furrowing in thought, the tauren regarded the elf. “What do you mean you don’t dream? Why not?”

Kai shook her head, “As a child my parents shattered every dream and hope I ever had, because I wasn’t what they wanted me to be. Eventually, I stopped dreaming at all rather than suffer to see more dreams destroyed by them. But now this dream has been coming, and I don’t know why.”

Mahen nodded solemnly. She had heard some of the stories of Kai’s past, and understood the old pains there. “Alright, perhaps we can figure it out together. What is the dream that you keep having?”

Sitting back in her chair, the huntress began to describe her dream. “I see a creature, such as I have never seen before. Its body is covered in shimmering pale blue scales, but it has wings almost like a butterfly. Its wings hold more colors than the rainbows after a thunderstorm. I also see thick, lush forests. But then there is a storm, not like this…” She nods toward the door. “This storm I see is vicious, ripping through the forest with a fury that would make even the mightiest of trees tremble. After that, all I see is darkness, and I wake up.” Kaisharra shook her head and finished up the last of her meal. Glancing over at Mahen, she shrugged, “So what do you think old friend?”

The druid considered what she had heard, “I have heard warriors and hunters in Thunder Bluff who have returned from the Camp that was established in Feralas. They talk of a creature such as that, they call them sprite darters. Apparently the Grimtotem Clan has been capturing the darters by the dozens, but no one knows why. I can not tell you to what end my friend, but it would seem that the Earthmother is telling you to go to Feralas.”

“Hmm… so it seems. Feralas, I’ve not been there yet, so I suppose now is as good at time as any to go.”

Mahen nods, “Well, this storm won’t be breaking before morning, so you should try to get some sleep at least. Feralas is a long way to journey without rest.”
“Aye, true enough Mahen, you’re right. Good night then.” Standing up, Kai stretched and headed off to the spare room that Mahen kept up for her when she visited.

The tauren watched the elf go, “May you find peaceful dreams someday.” She whispered.

************

The next morning dawned crisp and clear. Bright blue skies showed no memory of the storms from the day before as the sun rose. Kaisharra double checked her packs and tightened the straps on her hawkstrider’s saddle. She turned as Mahen came outside carrying a small parcel.

“Here, I’ve packed some food for you for a few days.”

Kai chuckled, “If I eat too much of your good cooking, Falyn wont let me ride him anymore.” She patted the hawkstrider as she took the package and tied it in with her packs

“Bah, you Elves are too skinny.” The Tauren gently poked at Kai’s ribs. “See? Not nearly enough meat there. As for that skinny bird not being able to carry you, I keep telling you that you should get a kodo. They’re not pretty, but they’re sturdy.”

“Perhaps that’s a good thing. If I look too skinny maybe things won’t want to try to eat me.” Kaisharra laughed, “Though, I may get a Kodo eventually, it could carry the packs for me.” Falyn fluffed his feathers indignantly and peered back at his rider.

Mahen shook her head, “You be careful out there, Feralas is a wild and dangerous land.” She hugged her friend. “Be sure to come back and tell me what you find.”

Hugging the druid back, the huntress nodded, “Of course. Besides, I’ll be fine, I’ve got the cats and Luta too. Although, if the forest is as thick as what I saw in my dream, his aerial scouting will be limited, but we will be fine.”

“Safe journey then, Kai.”

The Elf mounted the hawkstider and turned the giant bird around headed south, “Aye, be well, Mahen, I’ll see you when I get back.” Suddenly she stopped and scooped the small dragonhawk from its pouch in her packs, “Lunaris, stay with Mahen.” Looking over at the druid, “I don’t think it will be safe enough for her; please watch her for me till I get back.”

“Aye, I can do that.”

With a gentle nudge of her knees, Kai urged the hawkstrider forward and with a squawk he surged into the ground covering stride they were famous for. Looking back over her shoulder, she waved and then focused her attention back on the path ahead.

*************

Feralas was indeed a wild place, largely forgotten and untouched by the world around it until recent times. Kaisharra stood on a large moss covered rock by a river and smiled. The waterfalls nearby broke the early morning silence with their gentle rushing song. Heavy with the scent of old wood and mosses, the air was humid as well. Despite the potential dangers of the place, the huntress reveled in the natural beauty of the area. Taking hold of the reins, she carefully led the hawkstrider across the massive fallen log that formed a natural bride over the river. Behind her, the two lions padded quietly, ears twitching as they listened to the sounds of the forest for any signs of danger.

Once they were safely across the river, she remounted Falyn and nudged the hawkstrider back into motion. She hoped to get to Camp Mojache before nightfall and they still had a good deal of ground to cover in getting there. Her keen eyes searching the path ahead, Kaisharra adjusted their direction slightly to avoid the large bear she spotted in the distance.

Suddenly a large wolf leapt off a rock ledge on the side of the path, snarling and snapping it aimed for the hawkstrider. Falyn shrieked with terror and flapped his wings fiercely as Kaisharra tried to steady him. Taku’skan roared and charged at the wolf with Sapa’yunke’lo right behind him. Trusting the lions to deal with the wolf, Kai urged the frightened hawkstrider on, letting his fear fuel his speed as they rushed onward. Finally slowing Falyn down, Kai turned him around, looking for the lions. The huntress knew they could follow the bird’s scent but she didn’t want to get too far ahead of her guardians.

Just as the two feline forms appeared against the verdant foliage and were making their way to where Kaisharra waited, the sky darkened. Kai muttered curses under her breath and nudged Falyn into motion again as the big cats fell in along side. In the run from the wolf, they had gotten off course, and now as Kai looked around, she saw no sign of the path they had been following, and nothing else looked familiar to anything she had been told about when asking how to find the Camp. Sighing, she glared up at the sky as clouds rolled and crackled with lightning, the echoes of thunder already causing the ground to vibrate beneath the hawkstrider.

“We have to find shelter. I am afraid we’ve gotten off course and with a storm coming, I don’t want to be wandering around trying to find the right way again.”

Rain soon followed with a vengeance, the torrents pounding the leaves on the trees as it washed over the land. The rain also made the grass and stones slick as Kaisharra searched for a safe place to shelter. With a startled squawk, Falyn slid off the narrow path that Kai had found; the thick vegetation grabbed and tore at feathers and cloth as Kai tried to stay on her mount as he struggled to regain his footing. Finally she was knocked off and rolled the rest of the way down to the bottom of the incline. Getting back to her feet she rushed over to Falyn who was flailing as the pack straps had gotten caught on branches.

“Woah! Falyn be still!”

She tried to soothe the bird and unhook the straps. The last one popped loose with a snap and the bird lunged forward, knocking Kaisharra backwards with the packs and saddle landing in the mud nearby. The lions moved in close to make sure that she was unharmed. Grunting with disgust, she grabbed the saddle and packs, and then reached over to take the reins as the hawkstrider fidgeted and squawked unhappily.

A vicious, bone shaking crack of thunder followed by a blinding burst of lighting lit up the small clearing that the weary huntress had found herself in. They had come to rest at the bottom of a small valley of sorts at the foot of one of the many smaller mountains that dotted Feralas. Narrowing her eyes, she thought she saw the opening of a cave or at least a crevice in the side of the mountain that might offer some shelter and headed towards it.

“Come on, let’s go, that might be a cave over there.”

Cautiously approaching the small cave entrance, Kai hoped it would be big enough for Falyn as the thought of trying to tie the scared hawkstrider out in a storm did not appeal to her. The flutter of wings from behind caused her to whirl around, one hand reaching for her sword. Slowly she relaxed as the ruby wind serpent hovered briefly before draping himself around her shoulders.

“Ah, Luta, I was beginning to worry that you’d gotten lost. Glad you made it here. Now, Taku, go see if there’s anything in there please.”

The white lion padded forward, nostrils flared as he searched the air for any scent of danger. Moments later he emerged with a small roar that told her it was safe and empty. Both lions entered first, and the huntress pulled the reluctant hawkstrider in behind her. Dropping the saddle and packs on the ground with a tired sigh, Kaisharra looked around and found a small rock outcrop that she could tie the bird’s reins to.

“There, now you’re safe, so calm down Falyn, please.” She patted the large bird. “When we dry off a bit I’ll check to see if you damaged yourself again.”

She pulled out the special waterproof parcel that held her flint and tender. Scooping up some of the leaves, sticks and other flammable debris that had been blown into the cave over time, Kai started a small fire. Gently she prodded the wind serpent and he reluctantly transferred himself to the rock near the fire instead of around her shoulders. Ducking back out into the storm, she searched quickly for some extra firewood that she could bring in and let dry by the fire to keep it going for a while.

After a few trips and getting thoroughly soaked, Kai was satisfied there was enough wood in the cave to keep their fire alive for several hours. Changing into her dry clothes she spread her wet clothing out and hoped it would dry enough by morning to be wearable. She placed one of her blankets on the ground near the fire, and settled down to warm herself.

“Ugh, what a fine mess this trip is turning into.” Kai sighed heavily and leaned back against Sapa’s furry side as the lion lay down behind her. Sitting back up, she reached over to her pack and pulled out the package that Maneh had given her. Unwrapping it, she muttered to herself again, this would be the last meal from the druid’s gift. After eating her own meal, the huntress rummaged through the pack for the parcel of meat she had left for her companions. It too was quickly dwindling so they would have to hunt after the storm broke unless they reached Camp Mojache soon enough. She stood and walked over to Falyn and fed the hawkstrider and then ran her hands over him to check for any sign of injuries. Satisfied that the bird had suffered no worse than some ruffled and possibly plucked feathers, she offered the rest of the meat to the cats and wind serpent.

Outside the cave, the storm raged and howled. Kaisharra could hear the creaking and cracking of trees and the rushing of the rain pounding through the leaves and upon the ground. Adding a few more pieces of wood to the fire, she pulled out her second blanket and wrapped it tightly around herself. The cave was slowly warming with heat from the small fire and the bodies of the animals, but she still shivered. The elf’s thoughts turned towards her dream again and she pondered what it could truly mean. Gradually, fatigue closed its grasp on the weary huntress and she yawned. Curling herself up between the cats she tried to sleep.

************

Kaisharra tossed and fretted in her sleep, her restlessness waking both of her feline protectors. Taku nudged her gently while Sapa tried to purr and soothe her. Slowly the restlessness subsided again and the cats went back to sleep. The raging storm finally broke sometime during the night and an almost eerie quiet descended upon the forests of Feralas. Kai awoke with a start and looked around the cave trying to determine what had disturbed her. Both of the lions looked up at her sleepily, Luta was still soundly sleeping on the rock by the fire, and Falyn was dozing as well. Focusing her gaze even more, she even made out the faint outline of Ohinyan as well, just on the opposite side of the fire.

The small fire had dwindled but still crackled softly. Kaisharra fed some fresh wood into it and glanced around the cave again. She noticed with relief that the storm had stopped, but felt something else was wrong. Standing, she pulled one small stick from the fire as a torch and walked around the cave.

“Wait… what is that?” She mused as her eye caught sight of something on the floor of the cave.

Moving closer, the huntress knelt down and held the torch closer for more light. Smiling, she recognized what had to be some animal’s nest, but then she saw the slight glimmer of something pale. Brushing the dirt and debris away, Kai gently ran her fingers over the small egg she had uncovered. Wondering if the egg could possibly still be alive, she picked it up and carried it over by the fire. Settling down on her blanket again, she put her makeshift torch back into the fire and examined the tiny egg. It was roughly the size of her palm and pale bluish white in color with faint speckles. The sudden pulsing and rocking from the egg startled her and she nearly dropped it, but quickly recovered enough to gently lay the egg on the blanket. Taku sat up and tilted his head in question.

“I haven’t the slightest idea what it is Taku, but apparently it’s starting to hatch. I guess I woke it up by moving it.”

Slowly, gradually the egg rocked and cracks formed, and she watched intently along with her cats as the cracks grew larger. Finally, after what seemed like hours, the egg rocked violently and with a pop, it split open. As the shell fell away, the small creature lay still, exhausted from its effort to hatch. Kaisharra gasped as the tiny pale blue body became visible, and ever so gently, she reached forward. Tiny rainbow hued wings fluttered weakly, and then drooped. Gently she picked the little creature up and it looked up at her with bright violet eyes.

“You are the creature I dreamed of, a sprite darter they call you. Well, now what? You’re far too small to fend for yourself, aren’t you?” The little hatchling tried to nibble on her finger, and squeaked with hunger. Blinking, Kai laughed, “Ah, of course. Let me see what we have left, I’m afraid it won’t be much.”

She carefully sat the hatchling down and searched through the packs. Finally she found one small bit of meat that hadn’t been eaten. Offering it to the hatchling, she sat back and watched. The little darter fluttered its wings and then started chewing at the meat, taking small bites. As the wings dried in the warmth of the fire, their colors intensified and the darter’s scales seemed to glisten and shimmer.

“If that will hold you until morning, I’ll get you more food.” Kaisharra wrapped her blanket around her shoulders again and lay back against Sapa who watched the hatchling with curiosity. The darter fluttered and crawled until it nestled against Kai’s neck, then fell asleep. Smiling, the tired elf gave in to sleep once more, and this time, there were no nightmares to haunt her.

************

Kaisharra felt something stir against her neck and opened her eyes. Remembering the hatchling, she sat up carefully. Glancing around the cave, she smiled as she saw the carcass of a small deer lying near the fire, with Sapa almost grinning with satisfaction at having provided breakfast.

“Thank you, Sapa.”

She set to work, first cutting off some meat for the hatchling, then some for herself which she set up to cook after rekindling the fire. She gave another portion to Luta and the last part to Falyn. Both lions had hunted for their own meals and were dozing contentedly by the entrance of the cave. Once the problem of hunger had been tended to, the huntress began packing back up, and re-saddled Falyn for the day’s journey.

It was just after midday when Kaisharra spotted the outskirts of Camp Mojache. Urging Falyn on, she looked forward to a good meal and a good night’s rest at the inn before returning to Mulgore. The sprite darter stayed hidden in the pouch that Lunaris had used on the side of Kai’s pack. They would spend the night at Camp Mojache and Kai picked up what they would need for provisions on the trip back to Mulgore. Kaisharra smiled as she thought of Mahen’s reaction when she returned with a baby sprite darter.

Late that night as Kai lay in her bed at the inn, she reflected on the journey. Nodding to herself, she was content that she had indeed found what she came seeking.

***************

Hearing the familiar screech of a hawkstrider, Mahenaska rushed outside to meet her visitor. Smiling broadly as she saw it was indeed Falyn, with Kaisharra on his back, the druid waved.

“Kai!! Welcome back!”

“Mahen! You’ll never guess what I found!”

Slipping off her hawkstrider, the elf strode forward and held out the small creature that clung to her hand nervously. The bejeweled wings shimmered in the warm Mulgore sun, and the tauren smiled.

“Well that is a surprise. Come on in, I was just about to fix lunch, and you can tell me all about it.”

The two laughed and talked as Kaisharra told her tale of the journey, of the storm that drove them into the cave, and the discovery of the small sprite darter. Finally as they finished up over cups of tea, the tauren studied her friend.

“Kai, I seem to sense that you didn’t just find the hatchling. Want to talk about it?”

The huntress leaned back in her chair, “I didn’t mention it because I’m still not really sure what it all means.” She took a deep breath, “But for the first time in a very long time, I don’t feel so lost. It’s hard to explain, but somewhere in the darkness of that cave, it’s as though I found a part of myself too.” She shrugged, “Another thing and you’re going to laugh, but I actually dreamt again, but it was a good dream, like the ones I used to have. No more nightmares.”

Mahen smiled, “That is a good thing. What do you call the little creature?”

“I’ve named him Ithillor.”

________________________

((Kaisharra is still very much on a path of self discovery, trying to find her own path in the world since she never fit her parent's expectations of her. I decided to tie the lucky event of getting the sprite darter egg into her story to give it a little more depth. Feed back is welcome. ))
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#2
Sometimes the best stories are the simple ones :-)
Nice job - I enjoyed this very much.

-=((D))=-
Sing True Ironsong!
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