The City of Eldarath – West of Zin'Azshari and Suramar
A soft mewling sound echoed through the woods again. Whatever creature made it was weak, probably wounded or tired. Luckily for it, one who could hear its cries for help was nearby, strolling through the woods that surrounded the elven city of Eldarath on all sides, and only added to its beauty. The humanoid who heard the cries for help was a Kaldorei, around the age of five.
His skin was a pale light blue, like the rest of his Highborne caste, and his frame was tall, though not yet filled out with the muscles of adulthood. He was like every other child his age, though there were a few key differences that set him apart, and kept him all but isolated. His hair was a long mane of dark green, and for some reason not even his family could understand, he preferred to walk around without any kind of covering for his upper torso, preferring instead to wear kilts or leather pants, when he went wandering into the forests.
Normally, the Highborne of the city would have sneered at him and his family for producing a 'wild child', but most held their tongues when they saw the amber eyes. A superstitious people, the Kaldorei treated such children with mixed reactions, but all agreed that those who bore eyes of amber were destined for greatness.
The child, Laronar, had never felt particularly great, only ostracized from being normal by something he had no control over. At first the hushed whispers wherever he went bothered him, but he soon learned to ignore them, and over time, began to ignore other parts of the culture that surrounded him. Being an inherently kind person, the haughty superiority his fellow Highborne claimed over others did little more than confuse him. He didn't find lineage a good reason to treat others like dirt. They were still elves, and he had been taught that elves as a whole were superior to the mysterious 'other races' that shared the world with them. Being five, he hadn't yet had a reason to doubt his parent's knowledge in that regard. This difference in morals is what led him to brazenly stroll through the city without a shirt, to walk in the woods on that particular day, and it is what led him to a creature that would become a lifelong friend.
He had no particular desire to assimilate into his culture, as the older he grew, the more he found he disliked it. There was one part of it, however, that had fascinated his young mind since he was two. Nightsabers. They were fierce, proud, loyal, and cool in ways the five-year-old couldn't even begin to describe. He'd always been drawn to them, and once more he was drawn to the forests as the sounds echoing in the woods could only be those of a Nightsaber kit. He'd played with enough to recognize most of their sounds, but he'd never heard one in pain before.
As he followed the sounds of distress, which grew louder as he ran deeper into the forest then he had ever dared to before, he eventually came upon a large hollow log. The sounds of pain stopped abruptly as the not so nimble child crashed through the brush with the grace of a rampaging Tauren.
It took him a minute to notice the glowing pair of narrowed eyes hiding within the darkness of the log, but when he did, he knelt down next to it, and offered a hand. A sharply clawed paw swiped at his hand, as the child suspected it would, and he pulled it back quickly, avoiding being cut before deciding that the only course of action now was to wait.
The creature inside the log was indeed a Nightsaber. His people had tamed the proud, massive cats long ago, and Laronar had wanted one as a pet ever since his father had told him the story of how their family had gotten their surname: Stormclaw. While he was far too young to remember it all, he did focus on the parts that included the great Stormsaber one of his ancestors had rode upon as he'd wielded the power of the storms, and used it against Zandalari, Dwarves, Tauren, and other monsters.
Stormsabers were exceedingly rare, even back in the times of his ancestor, and taming one was considered as impressive as taming a wild Frostsaber, for they were every bit as, if not more, fearsome. The difference in breeds mainly came from the fact that male Stormsabers tended to be dominant, while the other breeds, not unlike the elves, were matriarchal. The male-dominant breed did not do well against ancient, powerful females, and that was what had primarily led to their decline in number. The young elf had no illusions about finding a Stormsaber of his own, since they had become a mount for only the most skilled riders in Zin Azshari, their racial capital, but he continued to hope.
He sat by the log for what seemed, to a child, like hours. His eyes never left the saber cat's, and eventually, he started talking to it. He didn't know why, but he was bored, hungry, and only wanted to help an injured creature as he had so often before, much to his parent's disdain. However, Laronar suspected that they wouldn't stop him from keeping a Nightsaber as a companion.
The great cats were expensive to buy, though feeding them was easy enough, if you lived in a city. The Kaldorei rangers had no shortage of meat to sell. Finally, the small Nightsaber crawled out of the log, eyeing the elf warily. The great cats were smarter than most gave them credit for, something Laronar had begun to realize since it had stopped hissing at him. The elf wasn't a threat to it, that much was obvious, and they were young, hungry, and alone in the dark woods. Not that the lack of light was an issue for either of them.
The first light of dawn was beginning to shine through the clouds, signaling just how early it was, but the young elf didn't care. The purplish light of the barely risen sun revealed what subspecies the young sabercat was, and Laronar couldn't quite recognize it. It was only at that moment, as he reached out again to pet the creature, that he had no idea what Stormsabers actually looked like. This kit's fur was a deep blue, like the early night sky, and had spots all over it. The blue extended down its legs and under its paws, while the upper sides of its paws were entirely white, along with its belly.
Slowly, the elf placed a hand on its head, and began petting. "See? I'm not going to hurt you…" he whispered. The young cat, despite his reluctance, found himself purring in response. The elven fingers were dextrous, and the small child had found a spot behind his ear that caused his entire body to rumble. That same purr echoed around the two, rolling through the woods in approval, but Laronar was too caught up with his new best friend to notice.
As Laronar kept up his petting, his eyes caught sight of the creature's injury, on its back left leg. It looked like a gash, and the fur around it was deep purple. Realizing what made purple when mixed with blue fur, the young elf carefully picked up the sabercat, and began walking back towards his home.
"First, we get you home." He whispered, "Then someday, you'll carry me. On your back, though." He went on, recounting to the small cat about how they would ride into battle together against great foes, and strike fear into the hearts of anyone who would ever dare question their power combined.
Once the two finally reached the outskirts of the city, where even the nature lovers among their people stopped, they were found by a Moonguard patrol, which had been tasked with finding the young elf. When the child of a Highborne family went missing, the guards were expected to drop everything to find them.
The guards of this section of Eldarath knew Laronar well, for he often ventured beyond the city, avoiding the guards, and had a tendency to stay out later and later. This was the longest he'd been gone so far, but the two guards realized why once they found him. They tried to take the Nightsaber in his arms from him, but stopped as it hissed. It was young, but it already had a formidable pair of sharp fangs. All they lacked was the legendary length that marked cats of his species.
The two guards decided against separating the pair, for it was common knowledge that Nightsabers bonded most strongly with whoever took care of them first. That was also why there were so few kept as pets, and used only as mounts. Those who knew how to properly raise the cubs did not share their knowledge easily, though once they were trained, they could be bonded to anyone, given enough time.
As the pair returned home, Laronar and his new pet were greeted by knowing smiles from his mother and sister, a sigh from his father, and a sneer from his eldest brother that sent a chill down the young Night Elf's spine.
His brother was, by far, the one who embraced their Highborne status the most, his parents having given up on retaining some semblance of respectability amongst their cast long ago, after it was clear that Laronar was 'special'. Vehlar alone maintained the air of Highborne superiority, but Laronar continuously undermined his efforts with his wild attitude and strong hatred of shirts. The two brothers did not like each other whatsoever, and this cat was yet another wedge that would no doubt drive them apart.
Compared to the rest of his family, who were fully clothed, and not covered in dirt and scratches, Laronar stuck out even more. His father and mother both had hair that was not dissimilar in color from his new pet's fur. Only Alaria, his sister, took after them. Both he and his brother Vehlar had dark green hair, but it was obvious Vehlar cared more about his appearance than his little brother.
In a society that prized aesthetics, he was, in his mind, the only Stormclaw who acted like a Highborne should. He had spent most of his childhood trying to restore the family's respectability in the eyes of the elite, and since he had a knack for sorcery, it had been going well…until his little brother was born when Vehlar was fifteen. At first, people assumed the amber eyes were a sign that their family was indeed still respectable, but as the years had passed, the middle child had become the butt end of numerous jokes, many of which were concocted by Vehlar himself.
He also had, on multiple occasions, tricked his younger sibling with cruel pranks. Since their parents were busy training their daughter, who was a year younger than Laronar, to be a priestess, this brotherly abuse was often overlooked, or ignored. Like a true Highborne, Vehlar used the influence and prestige he was bringing to the family name to get away with almost anything. It was through him that his younger brother slowly learned to hate the aristocracy, despite technically being a part of it. And as his eldest brother continued on and on about how taking in a 'half-breed stray' would tarnish their image further, Laronar finally decided he would never be like his brother. Not if he had any say about it.
As Laronar explained how he had found the young Nightsaber, Vehlar interrupted with an exasperated sigh. It was, in his defense, no different a story than any of the others his brother had told when he brought home injured squirrels or rabbits. Instead of letting nature weed out the weak members of a species, he brought them home, fed them, grew attached, and then ultimately became sad when they were 'taken to the woods'. More than a few of the critters had been taken by Vehlar, primarily for target practice.
"Excellent." He sneered, sarcastic contempt in his tone, "So you're keeping him? Maybe you can be a Saber Handler when you drop out of the Academy. Perhaps if you spent as much time casting spells as you did coddling wild animals, you wouldn't be so incredibly bad at using magic." Vehlar left the room after that, and though his childish enthusiasm was dampened, that didn't keep Laronar from ensuring his new friend had a place to stay. He'd never much cared for the magic Vehlar used, as he'd often used innocent animals to demonstrate his prowess, and nobody except Laronar seemed to find that utterly, morally, wrong. It was as if only he cared that the poor creatures suffered under such spells. Their cries often made him nauseous.
Once the issue of housing was settled, his sister managed to heal the cut on the animal's flank, while his parents found a book that catalogued the different breeds of Nightsabers. It was clear that this one wasn't ordinary, due to the unusual color and lack of stripes. It didn't take them long to figure out that it was, in fact, a Stormsaber kit, and that fact meant that they wouldn't be able to keep him in their house forever. Stormsabers were known to be big, especially the males, unlike other breeds of Nightsaber, where the females were larger. Nobody quite knew how they had gotten their name, but it seemed to fit, for those who rode them claimed that their roar had the power to shake the heavens. That remained to be seen.