Disclaimer: Nope, still don't own Blizzard or World of Warcraft. Thank you for reading, and hope you enjoy the next chapter. The updates will hopefully be fairly frequent but bear with me, I have a full time job and play WoW full time (lol) along with all my other interests.
Chapter 2: When In Moonglade
Anaiya's new druid trainer turned out to be an older male elf by the name of Firodren Mooncaller. After meeting him, discussing where best to start training her, and the details of a transition from one Class to another so abruptly, Anaiya was surprised to find that it was late in the day, well past evening in fact and she was quite hungry. At the top of Teldrassil, so far above the ground, it was sometimes hard to keep track of time because the light was mostly filtered out by the thick loving branches of their world tree. Darnassus always appeared to be in perpetual twilight, which suited its inhabitants just fine.
Hurrying out of the Druid Enclave, Anaiya couldn't keep from grinning widely, her hair bouncing into her eyes as she skipped across the bridge through the center of the city and headed back toward the Temple of the Moon. She ate in the Temple commons like usual, and her two novice friends cornered her at their regular table, demanding to know where she'd been (they had admitted to being told by Priestess Starseeker, but wanted her own words), and then asking for every detail she could give on the Druid's Enclave. Finally she had to tell them to hush so she could eat for Elune's sake! But she was grinning and spent several hours discussing her day at the Enclave, as well as imparting the gossip that Tyrande and the Archdruid had gotten into it, again.
Just as she was making ready for bed for what she hoped was one of her last nights in the Temple, a young blue haired novice came with a message that she was wanted in the Temple courtyard. 'Now what?', she wondered as she ran a brush through her hair, straightened her night slip, and hurried to the courtyard. She stopped dead in the arched entrance when she saw her mother talking to Priestess Tyrande and Priestess Starseeker near center of the courtyard. Feeling dread boil inside her, she timidly took a few steps then stopped. 'Oh cursed spirits, this can't be good. I was somehow hoping I'd have moved in with the Druids by the time mother came back.' Mustering up some courage, Anaiya silently walked up to the three women and stood in the small gap between her mother and her teacher.
"Hi mother, I've missed you, welcome home." She bowed her head in traditional greeting to her mother, letting a green curtain again hide her expression. Her mother's eyebrow arched as she turned an eye on her wayward daughter. "So, you don't want to be a Priestess? You don't want to heal others, to use the Holy light bequeathed to our blood to bring peace and good health to those in need? From what I hear you haven't even been putting effort into your learning. Its quite costly you know to keep you in training at the Temple." She frowned, the kind of expression any mother gets when confronting a disagreeable child. Then she took a breath, and her expression softened. "I missed you so Anaiya! Give me a hug". Grinning, Anaiya quickly put action to word and hugged her mother fiercely. Since entering the Temple's training, she hadn't seen much of her mother and found that she missed her more then she thought she would.
"Mum?" Once the formalities were dispensed with, she felt a bit more free to speak her mind. She cleared her throat and spoke up a bit more loudly, but still in a low, determined tone, "Mum, I know this is a bit sudden, and maybe more then a bit extreme on my end, but I know it's what I want. I've always wanted to, not necessarily be a Druid specifically, but to learn something of the wild, of the world out there, to have an adventure of my own. I want to learn all about trees, and tracking, and walking silently, to eat in the wilderness, to learn how to make a campfire with just a few sticks! That sort of thing. Huntress Skymane says that she can tell who is approaching from miles off. She knows how to lay traps and track animals and to catch her own meals! I want to do that. I want to be a druid. Please let me do this. Please don't be disappointed that I don't want to be a priestess." Anaiya said all this while still hugging her mother, and now she let Alathea go reluctantly, so she could best gauge her response. The two were almost equal in height, Anaiya being a few inches shorter as she had not yet begun her last growing spurt. Her mother eyed her up and down silently, and seemed to give her eyes a long searching look, before she glanced at Priestess Starseeker. The priestess gave a slight nod. Her mother then turned back to Anaiya and seemed to hesitate, a slight look of disappointment on her features. Finally her brow smoothed and she nodded, albeit grudgingly.
"Okay, you can train at the Enclave. Such a pain you are!" But she smiled in a loving way. "If your sure this is what you want. And you better pay attention this time! I don't want to hear any reports of how your mind is wandering out the window, or not passing your tests, or I'll send you right back to the Temple and you'll be washing dishes for the rest of your life. And be careful, those druids are rough in their training I'm told, sending their novices out on Rites and suchlike." Anaiya, unfortunately, was tuning most of the lecture out as young ones often did, and was instead doing inner leaps of joy. She couldn't wait to tell Meliri.
"Thank you mum! Thank you so much. You won't regret this, you'll see." She impulsively hugged her mother again, their green hair mingling freely. She laughed aloud, then ran and hugged her former teacher. She bowed to Tyrande, who raised an eyebrow, then went back to grinning at her mother. "When can I move in there? Meliri says I can stay in her room with her roommate. She's been so nice and helpful to me. I bet you'd like her. The head druid doesn't like me much though. Although I think he doesn't like anybody. I have a teacher already! His name is Firodren. I got to see lots of druids, and I even looked at some of Meliri's textbooks and spell sheets. And Firodren wants to start my studies as soon as possible he says. I have a lot to catch up on he says. So can I move in tonight? Can I?"
She was almost bouncing with eagerness to start learning how to hunt in the wild, stalk like a panther, and change shape into large predators. She was looking at her mother with pleading glowing eyes but it was Tyrande who answered with "No, child, its much too late for such things today. Lets get a good half mark of sleep. And your mother has rode her mount almost all the way here from Astraanar just to talk to you. Be patient and good things will come soon enough." Now that she thought about it, Anaiya realized her mother did look exhausted, paler then usual violet shade, and her eyes showed drowsiness. Anaiya nodded, though she was still a bit regretful.
The High Priestess bid Anaiya and her mother good night, said she would like to speak to Alathea when convenient about her time in Ashenvale seeing as how she was here in Darnassus and might as well make her monthly report now, and she then proceeded out of the many arched entrances to the courtyard, with Priestess Starseeker by her side. Anaiya and her mother were left alone. They glanced at each other, and on unspoken agreement, went to sit at one of the many small stone tables that dotted the courtyard. A small unobtrusive stream meandered its way between the tables and Anaiya watched its gentle flow while they sat in silence. Eventually her mother broke the silence with comments on her time in Ashenvale, exclaiming with a grin of the flirtations of a human man she'd encountered while surveying an area south of Astranaar, the small town in the center of Ashenvale.
She mentioned the plant life, how things seemed to be getting more hostile between the Orcs and the Elves in the area, and everyone was getting nervous. But she assured Anaiya that she was fine, and there was no real threat. Then the subject moved on to Darnassus, and Anaiya's time spent in the Temple. Her mother wanted to know how her friends were, how the relatives were faring, if she'd met any boys or had any confessions of undying love to some boy that her mother needed to be aware of, any secrets she'd been keeping while her mother was away, that sort of thing. They talked well into the night, both of them not the least bit tired thanks to their Elvin heritage and their eagerness to catch up on the family togetherness they had missed while apart. Eventually her mother admitted jokingly that her old bones couldn't take the lateness of the hour anymore, and they both agreed that it was time for bed.
As for many novices who had relatives that sometimes visited the Temple for whatever means, Anaiya and her mother were given the guest quarters to share, and they performed their nightly rituals and settled into the soft fur blankets for a well deserved rest. Just before her eyes closed and she drifted off into dreams, Anaiya had such a strange feeling of excitement and foreboding make its way down her spine that she almost cried out, the feeling was so strong. It was like the feeling of an ice cold hand on the nape of her neck, the dread one feels before leaving on an unplanned and possibly long trip, the feeling that your forgetting a very important and essential item that you'll regret not having later, a small bit of knowledge that you know your missing a key ingredient to your mix. She frowned, but the feeling passed so incredibly quickly that her overly sleepy mind dismissed it as jitters over her upcoming move into the Druid's Enclave, and thought nothing more of it. If she dreamt anything significant, it was forgotten upon waking.
The next she awoke, Anaiya was kept very busy packing her things in the novice quarters into small crates that the sentinels had moved by servant from the Temple to the Enclave. After carefully wrapping and packaging all of her belongings, which admittedly did not amount to a whole lot, Anaiya surveyed her empty cubicle. Glancing around the bare space, she mused at how big and spacious it seemed now that her things were gone, almost larger then it was before. She knew that was ridiculous of course.
With a small pang of sadness at leaving it behind, she shut the door and locked it with the tiny silver key she'd been given long ago, and gathered up the small bundle of robes from they're resting space against the wall. This was made up of her novice robes, her sash for special occasions, her novice sandals, and her outer robe emblazoned with a small symbol, the renowned symbol of the Priesthood; a diamond topped staff colored blue within a white circle against a backdrop of solid black.
All this, along with the silver key, she dropped off at the head novice desk. She had on a long thin robe of jade green, which her mother said matched her hair beautifully and complimented her form. Her footwear was just some old slippers she had laying around in her room from before she'd moved to the Temple. At the entrance to the Temple Anaiya found the serving elves waiting patiently with her packaged items, and gave them instructions to find Meliri Windsong at the Druid's Enclave. Her mother helped her organize everything and gather up all her old scrolls and tomes to return to their rightful owners or shelves, and they spent a pleasant morning getting Anaiya moved into the Enclave as smoothly as possible.
Then her mother invited her to the Darnassus Inn for a light midday meal, and they ate at their favorite table in the Inn near the far corner. When Anaiya finally did move out of the Temple that day officially, her mother graciously declined to stay longer and had taken up rooms at the Inn for the duration of her stay in the city. Friends of her mother, having learned she was in the city, kept coming up to the table where her and her mother dined to offer their greeting and exchange pleasantries. Anaiya talked to her mother for close to an hour at the Inn about how excited she was to have the chance to become a druid, and her mother was glad that she had found something that interested her, often giving her advice she already knew by heart.
Later in the evening, she was officially admitted into the Enclave's apprentice books, and she was given a new set of robes, these a dark forest green that her mother disapproved of, considering it a bit too revealing for her. Anaiya had scoffed, saying she was on the verge of adulthood, being only three years away from that point in her life, and she was glad of the opportunity to show that she had the body of one. This of course made her mother even more disapproving. Anaiya gave up trying to win her over on that point. She was not given feet covers, the druids believing that one's feet should be strong and well used to the elements. Of course her mother had something to say about this as well, but finally conceded the point when the clothier said that that was the way druids were trained, if she didn't like it, she could take her daughter elsewhere.
Soon after that, her mother regretfully had to report to Tyrande and journey back to Ashenvale to her post. Anaiya said her goodbyes and promised to be good and send weekly letters on her progress just like when she was living at the Temple.
Finally she was able to actually enter the Enclave again. She had loved time with her mother, and missed her already, but she was also eager to join the druids, meet up with Meliri again, and find her niche in the program. This time, there were few druids lounging about or training in the first chamber, as she later learned to call the Training Common. Finding out that everyone was on an off day, which meant they were either studying or enjoying their brief respite before another long week of training, Anaiya went in search of Meliri. She found her in one of the study alcoves, hovering over two thick volumes on nature magic and absently nibbling on some cheese. Grinning, Anaiya bounded into the room and greeted her friend eagerly with a hug. Meliri was so startled she dropped her cheese on the floor, but quickly hugged Anaiya back.
"Hey! Glad you finally decided to come join us. I told Vinasia that we had a new roomie and she was fine with it. She's a bit uppity but as long as you don't interrupt her studies you'll be fine. She takes her studies waaaaaay too seriously. So, did you just get here? How are things so far? Did you get to see the rooms yet? I'm almost finished here, if you don't mind waiting a few minutes, then we can both go to our room and get settled in. Your things arrived a couple hours ago and I told them to put them on the last bed in the room, hope that's ok with you, since we kind of claimed the other two beds already" Meliri kept rattling on, and Anaiya was astonished by how much the other girl could talk. But she also didn't mind, it was a marked difference from how everyone behaved at the Temple, all quiet contemplation and severe silence. She was enjoying herself already.
Vinasia was indeed a bit of a snob, but Anaiya took Meliri's advice and learned to avoid her for the most part, and they never came to open disagreement over anything, which was fine by Anaiya since she hated confrontations. She was immersed in her studies almost immediately, and her teacher Firodren Mooncaller dived into teaching her control of her nature based inner magic as soon as it was light enough the first day she moved in. The first day was a bit of a disapointment to her, after hearing of her "potential" in druid magic, she had expected a bit more then a half conjured splutter of Moonfire and a small green and gold cloud of leaves which may or may not have been the start of a healing spell. But her teacher assured her she was doing fine so far.
"Anaiya just be patient! Stormwind was not built in a single night! This will all come to you and trying to learn it all at once will just exhaust you to the point where you'll not be able to have the magic to perform even the simplest of spells." Her teacher tisked at her in mild disapproval after her fourth attempt to create a barrier of Thorns around herself. She knew she could do it! The spell was right there, just beyond her reach and if she tried just a bit harder she'd be able to form the thorns.
But try after try yielded no results and she had to agree and take a break. It was just so frustrating to her to know that other students were learning far more advanced magic while she was busy learning spell ranks and power, druid lore, and names of prominent druids throughout history. It was interesting enough but she wanted action! A few days after that she finally mastered Thorns, but still could not muster up even one complete Moonfire strike. When a whole week had rolled past, Anaiya was quite shocked at how immersed in her studies she'd been. She sent off the dutifully promised letter to her mother with an update on her wellbeing and her progress in the Druid's training.
She was careful not to complain of her hard work, as she thought that would be counter-productive after her show of wanting to be a druid so badly, but she did mention that it was hard work and she was doing a good job at trying to catch up to the other novices in her skill-level range who had weeks of training over her. After an entire month had soared past, she was confident that she would fit into the routine life of being an apprentice druid, and was happily ensconced in her training. Every time she was praised by her teacher or by Meliri for being a quick study, she glowed with pride and became ever more confident that she would catch up her studies in time to take the Talent Test with Meliri, although it became quite obvious that Moonfire was something she would never be good at, to her endless annoyance.
The two girls were often seen roaming the alcoves together, quizzing each other on what they'd learned, going over the patterns of this spell, the uses of that spell, and the warnings and perils of shape shifting. Anaiya also made a few other friends among her fellow apprentice druids, a few boys that she and Meliri spent many a night gossiping about, and a small group of girls that had already taken their Test and were willing to offer advice on how to handle it. Finally the time of the next Test was upon the Enclave and stressed, anxious young elves were everywhere, faces a mix of pale distress and overconfident smugness.
Two moons before the Test date, Anaiya was deeply saddened to learn that the Cenarion Circle, the ruling Druid council, had sent her a letter informing her that she was not ready to take her Test yet, as she had only just become an apprentice and had to spend at least another year in training before they allowed someone so inexperienced into the Test. Meliri, in a show of true friendship, also refused to take the Test, and Anaiya was grateful that she'd still have her friend with her in the Enclave to train with and study with until she was ready, although she asked more then once if Meliri was sure she wanted to do this. Meliri had just grinned and said it was fine, she had no pressing plans in mind for the next year anyway, with her trademark grin. Although they were not allowed to take the Test, all of the apprentice druids who were over 50 winters were still invited to Nighthaven for the celebration and Testing Ceremony.
"Really? Even I can go to Nighthaven, to Moonglade, to watch the Testing Ceremony? That's wonderful!" Anaiya was so happy to find out she could go to Moonglade that she begged sick from all her training that day and stayed up all night with Meliri talking about the mysterious druid village of Nighthaven. Having been there before, Meliri spent most of the time describing the beautiful, quiet village to her friend, while Anaiya listened with rapt attention. By the morning of the day the apprentices left to the village for their Test, Anaiya was so wound up from excitement to go that she hadn't slept properly in days and almost missed the whole thing by sleeping in.
"It's kind of scary at first, but don't think about it, close your eyes and you'll be on the other side before you can think 'cat's paw'." Meliri told her for the tenth time in so many minutes. Both girls were standing in line to go through the teleportation circle that was hovering with ease a foot off the ground in the middle of the Enclave courtyard. Elsey McAllister, a visiting mage from the faraway human city of Stormwind, had been summoned to Darnassus for just this occasion, to create a large portal strong enough to hold the passage of over 25 druids. Only 14 of those druids were apprentices that would be taking the Test. The rest were various proud parents and teachers, and only 3 who were none of the above and wanted to go just to see the druid village.
Those 3 were Anaiya, Meliri, and a male apprentice named Telred. Anaiya couldn't keep her eyes off the shimmering portal, which to her looked vaguely sinister, sometimes flickering in and out of existence. She didn't like arcane magic, feeling vaguely betrayed by it since her inability to successfully cast anything from that school of magic, and its instability made her nervous. To her, the portal did not look very safe at all, and yet each druid before her calmly walked through it with ease, as if it were nothing more then a doorway into another room, instead of a magical rip in dimensions that would send them hurtling into another area of the world. In theory. Or so they had told her.
"How can you tell if its working properly Mel? I don't see any indication that they've arrived safely." Anaiya chewed on her bottom lip fretfully, then mock glared when her friend yanked her arm to break her out of her habit.
"Honestly Ana, I've already told you a thousand times! You were plenty eager to go before you found out that we had to portal there. Wisps abound", she cursed, " how else would we get there in time? Moonglade is hours and hours away on the other side of Felwood." Anaiya had only ever heard Felwood mentioned once or twice and so had no idea where it was in actuality but she still nodded, eyes concentrated fully on the portal as the line got shorter. Then it was Meliri's turn, and with a rueful smile for her friend, Meliri was gone in a wink, vanished through the shimmery essence of the Mage's portal. Anaiya peered sharply into the circle of rippling magic, but caught niether hide nor hair of her friend.
She narrowed her eyes and glanced around for the mage, wondering if indeed something had gone wrong. The mage in question was standing to one side, looking very out of place with long wavy blond hair and a curvy body any female would kill for, and not standing above chest shoulder height of even the smallest of the Elvin females, humans being a short race. The mage was wearing outlandish blue and gold robes with elaborate spell-enhanced shoulder pauldrons and carrying a long diamond tipped staff that sparkled with an inner light. At once Anaiya realized that the mage was giving her a 'anyone home, I don't have all day' look that she had encountered often in the Temple. Mortified to realize she was just standing in front of the portal staring at the mage, she took a deep breath and stepped right up to it. She could feel the magic humming small vibrations against her skin, and it was not an unpleasant sensation but neither was it a welcoming one.
'Ok Anaiya, you can do this, come on, Mel is waiting for you! Just close your eyes'.
Suiting action to word, she did close her eyes, and the queasy shimmering portal was out of her sight. Feeling a bit more confident, she took a deep breath, and stepped through the portal. There was the strangest, most dreadful feeling of being tugged into a million little pieces, of being shoved through a microscopic hole and then repositioned and glued back together, and then in seconds, she landed with a slight stagger on the uneven ground of Moonglade, fervently hoping to herself that all of her parts had been "glued" back on correctly. She had a wiled panicked moment where she thought she had been struck blind before realizing her eyes were still closed. That was how rattled she was by that trip through the portal.
If truth be told, she wasn't sure how she'd make it back through the portal when the time came to leave. She stumbled away from the portal's opening and discovered the disorientation of being spun in circles with your eyes closed. At least that's what the feeling amounted to. It was hard wrapping her brain around the change in surroundings. And speaking of surroundings, Anaiya gave her current situation a cursory glance. There was a strong breeze waving the branches of nearby lofty willow trees. Grass rippled with it, and birds sang to it. The atmosphere had such an oppressive feel of peace and tranquility that immediately the only thing Anaiya could think of was laying down and going to sleep. She was contemplating that very thought when abruptly her elbow was seized and she was spun around to face the grinning countenance of her erstwhile friend.
"You made it! Your alive!" Was the first thing Anaiya blurted out, so happy to see her friend in once piece that she completely pushed the sensation of sleep to the back of her mind, where it lurked like a longtime friend waiting for the right moment to reach out and soothe the frazzled nerves.
Meliri laughed at her expression, her eyes dancing with delight and happiness.
"It has that effect on everyone who first comes here. it's the just the way this place feels. It really is a haven. Careful you don't get too caught up in the feeling though, it can be quite overwhelming. This is the home of the Barrow Dens, where all the really famous druid types are asnooze in their beds in the Emerald Dream. Probably some of it leaks into the area. Come on, we're not even to the village yet, this is the portal site outside the village, they don't like everyone to just traipse through their gardens and suchlike." Anaiya gave herself a shake, feeling slight regret to have that tranquil pacifying feeling fade into the background. She bent down and ran her hands along the grass in wonderment, feeling the thick, rich texture that was nothing like the fields and lawns in Darnassus. This had a wild, chaotic feel to it, a natural sense that no sentient race could hope to achieve. She was startled to see a small deer grazing nearby, with no fear of the group of newcomers congregating on the green.
"Wow, this place is amazing Mel!" Anaiya exclaimed in wonderment. Meliri nodded, then they both took off for the village, eager to explore the many new things that Moonglade offered. As they neared the bridge that led into the village itself, Anaiya slowed, and then stopped, staring ahead at the guards stationed on either side of the bridge.
"Mel? Mel, those aren't druids. I don't even think they're night elves!" In fact she was positive those were definitely not Night Elves. She tugged at Meliri's sleeve, pulling her back. Meliri glanced at her questioningly, then ahead, then blinked in comprehension. "Oh! Hehe, silly Ana, did you think that only the Night Elves were druids? Them Priests had you living under a tree didn't they? Here in Nighthaven, all Druids of all races are allowed to come together. They all work together, learn and study side by side, and face the many threats to the natural world. The Cenarion Circle invites all who fall under Ysera's shadow. In other words Ana dear, those are Horde. Tauren, to be exact! Their super nice though. No don't stare at them, that's rude!"
As she was explaining, Meliri was edging Anaiya along the path to the bridge, and at the word Horde, Anaiya squeaked in fright and turned to give a horrified wild look at the nearest "Tauren" as Meliri called them. They vaguely resembled bulls, both of them, with great curving horns on either side of their head, large, deadly looking hooves, and long tails that swished back and forth. One even had a ring in its nose.
'Elune's knickers! I didn't think I'd be meeting any Horde here! I hope mother doesn't find out about this.'
As she passed, the Horde she was staring at turned and gazed at her. In his eyes she saw gentle warmth, the kind of eyes you'd get lost in, wide and chocolate brown and holding wisdom beyond your imagination. Anaiya felt her mouth hanging open and managed to not resemble a shell-shocked guppy fish too much. She bobbed her head in greet at the Tauren to show she meant no disrespect and he shook his mane in mild amusement, as if to say that he'd had that response too many times to let it bother him.
After Anaiya had gotten over her initial shock of finding Horde members just as often as Alliance wandering the paths of Nighthaven, she began to enjoy herself again, although every once in a while she would hesitate when greeted by a young Tauren. So far that was the only race she'd seen, although she had heard rumors of there being a Troll or two in the village. She stuck close to Meliri, who seemed to know where she was going for the most part, and they made their way to the Inn to sign themselves in under the Night Elf party. Apparently there were many new Tauren druids here as well for their own Test. After securing a bed in the overcrowded rooms that were available, Meliri took her downstairs to a small empty table to dine and talk.
The Inn was also crowded with both Night Elves and Tauren, all talking and gesturing and laughing amongst themselves. After a fair amount of time had gone by, and they had finished their meals, the two girls just sat and talked about what they'd do over the next three days. The Test traditionally was a three day trial in which the apprentice druids would prove that were worth the honor of being bestowed with one of the three strengths that most druids were gifted in. One was arcane and nature based magic spells, something Anaiya was confident she was going to avoid at all costs, and was usually referred to as Balance, since these druids concentrating on upholding balance in nature and magic, and were always trying to find new ways to perfect their art. Restoration druids were the healers, some of the strongest healers you could come across, and Moonglade was proud to boast some of the strongest of the "Resto's" as they were nicknamed. Or so Meliri explained.
The third and last category a druid could fall under was Feral. This was the one that Anaiya was eagerly aspiring to, although she also was trained to learn and know all of her abilities. Ferals were laws unto themselves, giving in to their savage inner natures to transform into beasts of great strength and agility, cunning shadow-stalking panthers, and great unstoppable dire bears. Anaiya always acquired such a thrill to hear Meliri tell about it, as she was now at the table.
"May I join you?" At the quiet yet gruff voice, Anaiya jerked her head up from her moon berry juice to see a young female Tauren standing meekly by their table. The female was spotted black and white, with thick black braids that fell over either shoulder to hang halfway to her waist. She wore a tight fitting jerkin that accentuated her animalistic curves, and to Anaiya she looked kind of cute, like an overgrown calf. Which she supposed she was.
Anaiya turned to look a question at Meliri, who shrugged and nodded as if to say 'why not?', and since the cow girl had obviously addressed Anaiya, she gestured to a chair beside her and said "Sure, we're not using that chair." She grinned in a friendly manner. "My name is Anaiya, I'm not here for the test, just visiting." She didn't speak Meliri's name, not knowing if she wanted it known or not, but Meliri didn't seem to have any reservations, and indeed was soon chatting just as quickly with the Tauren girl as she was with Anaiya.
Soon Anaiya learned that the Tauren's name was Bessany Plainswind, and she was here to take her Test. She proudly told them she was planning on becoming initiated into the Restoration community if she passed her Test. Both Elvin girls wished her luck with this, and they settled into companionable silence. After some time, Anaiya became aware of shouting outside the Inn, and a small crowd had gathered at the doorway. Frowning at the disturbance, she hunched over her drink further, not wishing to somehow become caught up in it despite holding a small bit of curiosity.
Unfortunately, Meliri was, as usual, curious about any sort of drama going on around her, and she was demanding both herself and Bessany come with her to check out the disturbance. Anaiya groaned in mock aggravation but couldn't help but admit to some curiosity herself. Every once in a while she'd hear a muffled thud, and then some cheers, and wanted to know what was going on out there. Everyone else in the Inn also had that idea, and it took some time to elbow their way to the front of the group crowding the entrance.
It helped that they had Bessany with them, who just plowed a path through in her steady calm way. Anaiya was beginning to wonder if anything ever bothered a Tauren. She then shuddered at what a Tauren could do if they actually were bothered, and strived to always keep on her toes when around the large cow-like nomads. When she was finally free of the throng of onlookers to get a good look at what was going on, her mouth dropped open in astonishment.
In a loose ring of onlookers, who hastily backpedaled if one of the two got too close, were two beings. One was quite obviously a Night Elf druid in Feral cat form, a dark but vivid blue panther, so dark as to appear almost black. It was quite obvious from here that the druid was female, and she had such grace and speed that it took Anaiya's breath away. The druid had the white crescent moon markings on her shoulder to show her fully initiated into the druidic circle, and she was scuffling quite enthusiastically with a human male wearing all dark brown leathers and a black eye patch over his right eye. He carried two thin and intricate daggers, one in each hand, and both combatants were such a whirlwind of motion that it was hard to follow with the eyes.
They clashed and fought their way around the circle. The druid gave a low snarl of indignation when the man sliced at her tail with a dagger, and turned, claws at the ready to find that he had moved wisely out of reach. Suddenly, she crouched, tail lashing behind her in anticipation. The man eyed her nervously, glanced around, and then crouched himself. Muscles bunched beneath rippling fur and the cat sprung from her place to land artfully behind the man before he had a chance to notice she had even moved.
Her large gold eyes glowed with a wicked inner light as she clamped her mouth around one ankle and yanked hard. The man tumbled to the ground, then back flipped backwards to land on his feet several paces to the left of her, the crowd moving to accommodate this sudden movement. The human then gingerly reached down and felt his ankle, scowled at the cat, and readied himself into a battle stance. He then took a step, pivoted to the right, and suddenly appeared at the cat's side. The cat, who was startled as she was just about to make a move herself, fell back and they ended up circling each other again. This went on for several moments. The cat would dart in, pounce on the man, score claws across his back, or some other easy to reach area, then leap agilely away before he could retaliate. The man was swearing up a storm, was perspiring heavily, and Anaiya could see he was just as successful as the cat, for there was blood on his daggers.
The man was very agile on his feet himself, almost to mirror the cat's movements, and every once in a while, would make a move of his own, dashing with such blinding speed to the side of the cat, and lightly running his blades along her flanks before she even knew he was there. The cat would hiss and growl in anger, and then would pounce on the man. Despite the seeming serious nature of the fight, the man wore a challenging, if playful grin, and the cat's tail was waving breezily in the air, and she had a gleaming, fanged smile on her bewhiskered face.
A ripple in the onlookers heralded a newcomer, a tall Night Elf in a long forest colored robe with a high color, who had intelligent yellow eyes that seemed to frown with exasperation at the two combatants scuffling across the open floor. An elf near Anaiya muttered "why don't they just get a room already," To agreeing chuckles from those nearest him and a bewildered look shared between the three girls standing together. The tall night elf adopted a long suffering, put upon look and strode forward toward the man and cat.
The cat, having noticed the elf coming towards them, flicked her ears in warning to her supposed enemy, and the man quickly sheathed his daggers with a flourish so fanciful that Anaiya couldn't help but giggle. The man stood up straight, pretended to dust himself off, and gave the tall night elf the most innocent expression he could muster, which he'd obviously practiced in front of a mirror because the tall night elf glared threateningly before ruefully shaking his head and smiling. He then crossed his arms and turned his stony glare onto the cat, who was contriving to look as if she was not the center of attention, licking her paws, eyeing her coat for dirt. Upon feeling the night elf's look, she raised her eyes to him and flicked both ears forward.
"What is it this time Verfanas Cloudchaser, hmm? Did he steal your kitty cookies? Drink your milk? You two are impossible! Umber, if you want the woman just say so, and Verfanas, don't you think I don't know your games? You two behave or I'll have you thrown out of Nighthaven…again!"
By this time the man was blushing with embarrassment and the cat was starting to look a bit dark purple herself. Then the names came to Anaiya. She gasped. "Verfanas Cloudchaser? Aunt Ver? Aunt Ver!" She rushed forward, calling out, and the cat turned in a flash, deep gold pupils seeking out whoever was calling her. The crowd, having realized the fun was over, was now dispersing except for a few lingerers. Meliri and Bessany stood watching Anaiya, who was too shocked at seeing her aunt to remember them.
The cat focused on Anaiya, and its eyes swept her from head to toes, before it tossed its head as if laughing. She sat on her haunches, and then closed her eyes and seemed to be concentrating. Within seconds there stood not a cat, but a night elf, in deep, multi-layered purple and wine-red robes, with a long wicked looking polearm slung across her back. The night elf grinned like a maniac and grabbed Anaiya in a hug.
"Yo, little chicklet, what are you doing way out here, beyond your sheltered little tree nest? I'd never have thought your ma would let you go traipsing all over the countryside." She said this with a concerned voice, but had a wide pleased grin, as if the thought of Anaiya doing mischief and running away was something to be proud of.
Anaiya had heard about her aunt, how she had left Darnassus young, wanting to explore the world and have 'grand adventures'. Anaiya's mother always cautioned against behavior like her aunt, who was someone that her mother loved dearly but thought was a little too irresponsible and off the wall to ever settle down and act like a proper member of night elf society. After explaining why she was here (and then explaining why she was training to be a druid), Anaiya introduced Meliri and Bessany.
When Anaiya mentioned the Tauren, her aunt got an even broader grin, and slapped Anaiya on the back so hard she almost fell face first. "that's the spirit, there's nothing wrong with them Horde. Well except that Forsaken have no sense of humor and the Blood Elves are waaaay too stuck up for their own good. But Tauren are the friendliest race of beasties you ever met, and Trolls are darn right funny if you can get past the tusks and thick accents." Most of this was completely beyond Anaiya, who had never met a Forsaken or any other Horde.
Her aunt moved back over to the one-eyed human, and ushered him up to their little group. The human looked around shiftily, then grimaced and adopted a nonchalant, come-hither grin, eyeing Anaiya and Meliri with a knowing smirk, introducing himself as "Umber" of no apparent last name, and then saying he was Aunt Ver's lover. Verfanas smacked his arm and then put her own arm around his shoulders and led the way back to the Inn, feeling she'd said what she needed to. Apparently she was very familiar with Nighthaven.
Most of the congregated elves and Tauren inside the Inn hailed Verfanas and Umber when they walked inside, calling out jokes and catcalls that the two shrugged off with easy indifference. They plunked themselves down at a nearly full table of mixed company, seeming right at home among the rest, who just scooted over to make room for the elf and human. Anaiya and Meliri exchanged glances and then moved back to their previous table. Bessany shifted a hoof nervously before following Anaiya.
"So that's your aunt huh? Strange one she is. I like her!" That was Meliri of course, not even waiting till they were all seated before bringing it up.
"Yep, my aunt Ver. Mother doesn't really approve of her, so I only know she loves to get into scraps and will take on just about any mission just to prove she can. She's gathered a reputation in Darnassus as somewhat of a hero after helping to kill Onyxia a couple years back."
Anaiya kept one eye on her aunt and one on the conversation she was having. Watching, she couldn't help but shake her head in mild dismay at her aunt's behavior. Verfanas was now sitting in the lap of a large male tauren, regaling the entire table with what she assumed was some hilarious tale or misadventure about stolen dwarf spirits and a gender-confused gnome. In one hand she held a pint of foaming drink that could only be some type of strong alcohol, and in the other a strange green, hexagonal shaped box that for some reason was the center of the stolen ale story. Anaiya had never seen the like of it before and didn't quite know how to describe the item. She shrugged.
Her aunt always had in her possession some strange things, according to her mother, and most of things were deadly dangerous. Putting her aunt and her bawdy comments out of her mind, she settled back into conversation with her two friends, talking about the next day and the Test.
At the other table, unbeknownst to Anaiya, the small green hexagonal shaped box pulsed a small but intense flash of light, almost like a heartbeat, and then was dim again as her eyes left off gazing at it. No one else noticed except perhaps Verfanas, who shook her hand absently and frowned down at the box, as if wondering how on earth she had come to be holding the small object and what she was going to do with it. Eventually it made its way into her bodice somewhere, and she forgot about it amid further mugs of alcohol.
After a couple more hours of talking, all three young girls admitted they were tired. It had been a long day, and Bessany at least had to begin the first trial in her Test the next day. Anaiya didn't hesitate to say she'd be there to cheer her on, and Meliri agreed as well. They bid each other good night and went off to their beds, leaving Anaiya's Aunt and the human downstairs still going strong.