Bloodwen: Part IXEdit
The apparition flitted through the blackened forest, paws whispering along the ground as he bounded along. The large spiders hissed as he darted between them, but their poisons only fell through his incorporeal form. Others of his kind, still living, shrank back against the rocks and cowered in the bushes. The cats whimpered. They slunk away, tails tucked between their legs.
He leapt up the hill, following the overgrown trail. A few dilapidated poles leaned to the side, their lanterns devoured by the brush. What could have been a fence crumbled along the ledge. Through the gloom rose the dome of a building. A few trees jutted from the hole in the roof, roots having eviscerated the floor. Piles of rock and dirt now littered its interior, covering everything with a fine silt.
Moss and weeds obscured the skeletons. Most large, some small. All elven.
Corpses of the shambling undead littered the outskirts of the property. Wandering up from the Dead Scar, following the orders of their commanders, they ravaged the countryside. The living fell to their poisons and disease. It mattered little whether they were animal or humanoid. Occasionally one or more would find their way up this path, searching for prey.
They would find him instead. Faithful. Never straying from his duty, even in death.
He padded around the bodies. There, just on the south side of the building, lay a small mound. He reached out a paw. His claws passed through the dirt. Then he sank into the grave, disappearing from view.
The dirt quivered.
It crumbled, splitting as a paw drove through the surface. Another desiccated paw followed suit, then the cat’s head pushed through the opening. He pulled himself from the ground, shaking the soil from him.
The springpaw’s body was a rotting abomination. Ribs glistened on either side. The former sleek pelt was now matted and torn. Strips of fur hung in tatters and waved whenever he stepped. Countless gashes and bites decorated his body. One socket remained dark.
He sniffed the air, then loped down the hill. If the animals had been frightened of him before, they now fled at his approach. Packs of them scattered, some daring to steal along the edge of the Scar. He took no notice, gathering speed.
She drew near.
Weeds choked the road, splintering and cracking the stonework that led through the village. Ivy circled the pillars, the dusky leaves crawling upward. The bare, blackened trees cast a gloom over the inhabitants. They talked little, faces hard and set. The Dead Scar rested a few hundred paces away.
To the weary traveler, Tranquillien offered little. Constantly beset by Scourge attacks, manned with only a few dozen guards, what supplies that filtered in from Silvermoon were quickly put to use. There was little in the way of weapons or armor and the only food available was gathered from the corrupted countryside. For the adventurer seeking a night’s rest, a spot on the floor would have to do, for no intact piece of furniture remained in the inn.
The only bright spot in the gloom was the bonfire a group of guards started that morning. Teake and Sutera stood, shivering as the flames drove away the chill. Sleep at the Chapel had been scarce, at best, Sutera tossing and turning as nightmares plagued her. They decided to fly to Silvermoon, to dredge whatever memories they could from her subconscious. Teake had given her all the answers he knew.
He suggested they teleport to Moonglade, for that was where he was first entrusted with her safety. The red dragon, Celarenstrasza, brought Sutera with her from somewhere in Northrend. That journey, and Sutera’s origins, was never revealed to the Tauren. That she brought a blood elf to the glade was enough.
The red hand-picked Teake to guide the elf through the Dream. She did not explain why, but Sutera needed to travel to the Rimring, one of the largest Moonwells within the Dream. They avoided the Nightmare on their way to it. Once there, she mixed the magical waters with two other vials. One he remained uncertain of. The other bubbled with a green, toxic liquid.
Fel energies. Demon blood.
Had he known what was in her possession, he would not have allowed such a danger to cross into the Dream. The Nightmare was enough. He knew not what would happen if the tainted fel energies were set loose.
She drank the concoction before he could protest.
That was all he knew. Her golden eyes had come from that action, though he sensed a power taking root and growing. Against his better judgment, for he felt betrayed by the red, he accompanied them to the Chapel.
Celarenstrasza and Sutera disappeared after meeting with the bronze dragon.
Only Sutera came back.
Crossing into the Ghostlands, Sutera became more and more agitated. Though their intended destination was the fair forests of Eversong and Silvermoon, the blood elf ordered her mount to land in this decrepit town.
“I feel there is something I forgot to do,” she finally said as she gazed into the flames.
Such as? he wrote.
“There was a message.” Her face contorted as she tried to remember. “It was important.”
Where were you to deliver it?
“Where indeed...” As the flames danced in her eyes, her memory slid down the slippery slope of time.
Thorns tore at her legs, raking along the leather armor. She pushed aside the branches, sprinting through the underbrush. The golden trees, so beautiful in the day, were ghostly in the moonlight. Her heart pounded, feet slapping into the puddles as she ran.
Others, given a similar task, had all been found dead. The Scourge caught up with them. With their forces dwindling, she was one of the last that could be spared to deliver the news.
The undead caught up with her an hour before. She had taken great care with her path through the Blackened Woods. The route wound through the forests, through the groves burned by dragons many years before. Over hills and through streams, the path was less than ideal. Yet the others had chosen a more direct approach and now lay dead.
She discovered them by accident.
The elves rose, staggering to their feet as she burst into their camp. She froze. The Ranger-General had not informed her of any troops this far to the south. In order to spare as many of her brethren as possible she skirted encampments and towns, drawing the Scourge away.
“Ranger Bloodwen?” their leader asked as he approached, forcing his comrades to lower their weapons.
There was little warning she could give. She felt the undead as they approached, circling. She did not need to tell them. Drawing her blade, she backed into their camp, watching as the shadows approached.
There remained only one chance for escape, for her message had to get to…
Teake almost bowled Sutera over as she stopped suddenly. She had turned and run from Tranquillien without a word, sprinting down the road as if their lives depended on it. She had only stopped briefly, drawing her sword before backing away. He thought the aggressive stance was aimed at him, raising his hands in an attempt to dissuade her. As she began swinging at imaginary targets, however, he soon realized she was reliving some past memory.
Then she took off again.
What did you see?
She shook her hand, blonde tresses damp with sweat. “I do not understand. I was here, but the trees were full of life. No matter how fast or far I ran, however, the Scourge pursued me.”
Teake did not answer. He stood, blinking at her in disbelief. Was it possible?
A noise caught their attention, a shuffling along the side of the road. A mewling accompanied it, but one so disembodied that it sent shivers down their spines. The rotted head of the springpaw pushed from the bushes, remaining eye fixating on Sutera. The druid stepped towards her, sweeping his hands together to gather the magic.
She noted the cat’s pricked ears, placing a hand on Teake’s shoulder to stop him.
The creature broke from the forest, bounding towards her with what could only be described as a toothy smile. Stopping just short, it crouched low, tail twitching as it let loose a loud purr. She sought to touch him, but he pranced away, bouncing with excitement. After several tries, she finally got close enough.
The simple touch started a chain reaction none of them could have anticipated.
The cat’s nose grew moister. The rotted patches of fur fell to the ground as its wounds healed. Skin and muscle wriggled over the exposed ribs, sealing them inside the now warm body. The cat opened his mouth, a breath of air entering his lungs. The heart stuttered for a second, then began hammering away.
The cat retreated a few steps. Under the pads of his feet he felt the sharp rocks and dead grass. The wind ruffling his ears was cold. His stomach growled.
In the missing socket a strange, golden light pulsed.
Sutera hugged him close. “Srymmner, it is good to see you.”
Srymmner licked her face.
- Bloodwen: Part X: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartX
- Bloodwen: Part XI: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXI
- Bloodwen: Part XII: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXII
- Bloodwen: Part XIII: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXIII
- Bloodwen: Part XIV: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXIV
- Bloodwen: Part XV: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXV
- Bloodwen: Part XVI: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXVI
- Bloodwen: Part XVII: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXVII
- Bloodwen: Part XVIII - Finale: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXVIII