As Sylvari sunk deeper into the cold, murky water, her eyes widening and her mouth opening in a soundless shout, she could feel the air escaping her lungs. It mixed with the blood flowing freely from her, obstructing her view of her own outstretched hand. She grasped at the water and dead plants, her body affording her one last desperate attempt at salvation, but it was in vain. She was too weak.
The last bubbles made their way out of her mouth, and her eyes slid closed, but she felt no pain. She could no longer feel the weight of her armor, the coldness of the water, or the wounds she had sustained. Instead, the dark leather was replaced by a white shawl; she could breathe again, she could smell flowers, and fresh grass. She heard the wind chimes that her mother kept at the entrance of their home, and as her steps carried her weightless body towards the warmth, she felt whole.
Her mother was late. After what felt like hours of sitting on the edge of Lorlathil's central fountain and willing small vines to creep up the stones and lap at the water within, Sylvari finally took to pacing around the thing, counting her steps and looking about for the tardy sentinel.
"I see age has made you even more impatient, daughter. Have I taught you nothing?"
The druid sighed and turned around, mentally preparing herself for further admonishment, but not without getting in a shot of her own. "You're late."
She did not expect to see the woman standing next to her mother, however. "Kali?" she said, her eyes widening and her mouth breaking into a huge grin.
"Hey, Sylv. Sorry about that, you know how long it takes me to get ready." The white-haired woman's smile matched the druid's, and she took a few steps forward to embrace her, shoulders shaking with joy and mirth all the while.
Still dumbstruck, Sylvari let her childhood friend wrap her arms around her. "What- how are you here?" She pulled back, resting her hands on Kalendil's shoulders to look up at her face, grin still plastered onto her own.
"Mythralis contacted me." She nodded her head toward Sylvari's mother, who had the slightest hint of a smile, petting her large frostsaber companion. "I've been staying at the Temple here since the Legion was vanquished."
Sylvari bowed her head slightly. "I didn't know that." It seems her mother was better than her at keeping tabs on the old members of their grove. She felt very guilty, all of a sudden.
"Hey, don't worry. I haven't exactly been the best at keeping in touch either. How have you been?"
"Better." Sylvari chuckled, shaking her head. "A lot better. How have you been, sister?"
Kalendil's eyes narrowed, donning a knowing smirk. "It sounds like you have much to tell me. I have been well." She sighed. "My duties have kept me here, but my heart was with our brothers and sisters in Darkshore. This truce… it is a travesty," she said, stepping back and looking at Mythralis as well.
The older woman nodded. "It is. The High Priestess will not stand for it. I am certain of that. But onto more pressing matters." She pulled out a folded map from one of her belt pouches. "I've finally found her, and with Kalendil's help, we might actually get her this time." She pointed to a small 'x' on the map.
"Shala'nir. Was it not corrupted by the Nightmare?" Sylvari asked.
"It was, and the druids here are still working to cleanse it. It's what tipped me that there may be something else afoot. There have been reports of void infestation, in addition to the ever-receding Nightmare corruption. I've scouted the area. She is definitely there." Mythralis started folding the map.
"What are we waiting for, then?" Sylvari asked, starting in the direction of Shala'nir.
Kalendil and Mythralis followed suit, the three of them heading off into the dense forest of Val'Sharah.