A/N: You can blame/thank a Real ID friend of mine for this spinoff that interupted my main story Beyond the Four Winds. He insisted on getting my attention at whatever time it was, to show me that he had proudly tamed the rare purple spider in the Molten Front (Deth'tilac I think its name was?). Anyway, he had apparently named it "Sparkles". Instantly upon seeing that, this story just popped into my head, and wouldn't let me be until it had been written down. So here it is, it WILL be updated, just not as frequently as BTFW, don't worry, and I will not neglect one for the other (which means I'll have to stop being so lazy and actually write once in a while). Anyway, I hope you enjoy this random side story as much as you all enjoy BTFW. Thank you for any and all reviews, and have a good read!
PS-To my hunter friend that I based this story on...I only took your obssession with your pet spider and your general character for this story don't worry! Nothing of Erelas actually reflects you specifically. With love, DW.
Disclaimer: I don't own Blizzard or World of Warcraft that this story is based on. The timeline/setting is in "vanilla wow". For those of you don't remember that time or never experienced it...I'm sorry if certain aspects of the setting or characters confuse you. Verfanas and Erelas are my own design. The spider does exist in the game, but the personality I gave her is all mine.
Chapter 1: Doesn't That Druid Look Familiar?
Verfanas, a proud Night Elf Druid of the Feral persuasion, lounged contentedly by the pool in the center of the great city of Darnassus, her home city. Here, she had been born and raised, although she had left the city at a very young age, not being able to take the slow and serene pace that most of the denizens of the great tree of Teldrassil had.
Unlike most of her kind, Verfanas Cloudchaser was brash, loud, opinionated, and far too sarcastic for her own good. She loved a good scuffle, would do anything on a dare, and enjoyed her alcohol a bit too much.
She spent most of her days abroad, usually exploring new and dangerous territories, such as the hives of Silithus, which is where she had just come from. Silithus, the insect infested desert far to the south of Darnassus, turned out to be a bit too much of a challenge, what with the heavy sand storms, the dry, hot atmosphere, and of course the thousands of bugs.
If you killed one, ten more sprang up, literally out of the sand at times. Not to mention those crazy Twilight cultists; who knew what they were up to. No, it was the perfect excuse for her to hotfoot it out of that horrid place when she'd received a message in the mail.
She'd just returned from one of her morning forays into the vast dunes of gold colored sand when one of the Cenarion Circle Druids who protected the small town she was staying at approached her.
Apparently he had received mail that was addressed to one "Ver Cloudchaser". Verfanas, ever curious as to who had even known she was out here, let alone would bother sending a message to her, had opened the envelope. Unfortunately it was not in fact some crisis she was desperately needed for. In fact, the message was a bit…disappointing.
Apparently it was from Erelas Shadestar, a hunter of some fame among the higher ups. He was also a child hood friend who'd often been her partner in crime in her many troublemaking schemes before she'd finally left Darnassus.
In short, he was a fun-loving marksman who was always good to have in a tight scrape. Although she was reassessing this as she reread the letter, one light blue eyebrow raised in bemusement. The letter read:
Ver my dear,
I know this may be a bit out of the blue, but I would humbly request your help
in a most daring adventure! I plan to sneak into the Horde base of Grom'gol, and
spirit a most beautiful creature out from under their noses that I have fallen
completely in love with while visiting companions in Stranglethorn Vale.
I would very much appreciate your presence in this endeavor, as I'm sure your
skill in combat will be needed. I beg of you, for old times sake, to come along and
help me liberate this creature that I fear is unjustly imprisoned there. Those filthy
Horde do not pay her the respect she deserves and I believe that she has taken a liking
to me in the short, stealthy moments that I get alone with her. I eagerly await your
arrival in Darnassus, as soon as possible.
Understandably, 'Ver' was a bit reluctant to go haring off to Darnassus, the city she'd been avoiding these many years, just to help out her hunter friend, who it appeared was smitten with some Horde female and wanted help in "freeing" her from her Horde companions.
Somehow Ver didn't think this would go over well. On the other hand, when weighted against more nights of sleeplessly wandering the cool sands, and spending listless days killing insects and listening to the drone of their countless wings, the idea of heading to Darnassus for a couple of days didn't seem quite so bad.
And just because she showed up to talk with Erelas did not in fact mean she would help him with his hair-brained scheme. So with a final, heartfelt farewell and an inward sigh of relief, Ver bade the Druids of Silithus good bye, wished them the best of luck, and beat it out of that desert so fast she swore she burned permanent tracks into the sand.
Silithus was a place she'd be sure to avoid in the future if she could help it. After this venture with Erelas, she'd check out the Swamp of Sorrows. She'd heard rumors of a sunken mysterious Temple.
It held promise for some treasures she might make a profit with. And that is how the young lithe druid found herself sitting lazily at the water's edge, trailing bare feet in the gleaming blue water. Delicately arched white bridges spanned the shallow pool on either side, connecting the many branches and tiers of Darnassus together.
Darnassus was a city unlike any other; beautiful, peaceful, touched not by battle and hardship. It was nestled high in the very uppermost branches and boughs of the great tree Teldrassil.
Behind her, and just out of the corner of her eye, Verfanas caught sudden movement and reflexively grabbed her polearm, which had been lying beside her as she relaxed by the water.
It was only a rabbit, snowy white, nose questing for food. Verfanas gave idle thought to using Moonfire on the hapless creature, if only to see the reactions of the Darnassian Sentinels who frequently patrolled the byways of Darnassus. She chuckled.
"I don't even want to know what amuses you so greatly Ver." came a deep male voice from the side.
Verfanas smirked, and lazily turned her head, taking in the tall Night Elf standing on the other side her, arms folded.
It was Erelas, as she'd suspected, watching her with a pleased expression. He grinned suddenly, his dark colored face crinkling with pleasure.
"You came! I knew you would. Can't keep you away from an adventure eh?" He unhooked his large, gilded bow from his back and plopped down beside the sitting druid.
Verfanas frowned, and made a show of pulling her robes more snugly about her, as if to imply that he had been about to crush the fine cloth in his clumsy move to sit. The hunter raised an eyebrow at her reaction, then gave her a once-over.
"I see you've gotten new armor since last I seen you. It looks good on you. Course, everything looks good on you gorgeous." He grinned impishly, an infectious smile, and soon Ver was smiling as well.
Then she sighed and picked a stray bit of grass off her robes, flicking it expertly into the water before her. Out of the corner of her eye, she could sense that Erelas was watching her still, searching her face for any hint of her thoughts.
Same as always, she thought, somewhat irritably. When she'd been younger, and more naive, she'd had a slight crush on Erelas, looking up to him for being older, more mature than her. His vivid, dark blue hair, bright yellow eyes, and easy going nature made it very easy for her to think that he was her true love.
But as she grew older, wiser, she realized that she had no desire to settle so quickly. She wanted to see the world, cause all sorts of mischief, try everything she could, make a name for herself! Erelas, unfortunately, hadn't caught on as quickly that she only wanted him for a friend.
The two had parted ways, but kept in touch over the years more out of habit. Eventually they came to an understanding, then a close friendship. With the many dangers and disasters that wracked Azeroth, friends were those you did not turn your nose up to. Glancing at her companion, she also noticed that Erelas had changed somewhat.
He had a more lean, serious air to him, as if he'd seen or done things that had made him look at the world differently. She couldn't decide if this was a good change or bad just yet. He was wearing blackened leather armor with silver spikes in places, all the armor trimmed in the same silver filigree.
She admitted silently that he looked good, and sensing her thoughts, the Hunter preened visibly.
Verfanas scowled and automatically reached up and smacked him upside the head.
"Oh please, quite preening and tell me what this is about. I came all the way back to Darnassus on the pleas of a lovesick old friend, and you haven't said a single word about it yet. Well? Who is she? What's her name? Does she really care about you like you said? And what do you mean they keep her captive there?"
After waiting so long, curiosity overcame the druid and she couldn't help but press these questions, having become impatient with the silent show-off scene.
"He-he, well you see, she's not really…she's not what you think she is. But she is beautiful, majestic! A vision to behold. She has a quiet dignity about her, that makes you want to be respectful and polite to her. I must tame her!" he fisted one hand and drove it into the other, startling Ver slightly.
She'd never seen her friend so impassioned over a simple female before. She frowned, going over what Erelas had said.
"Hang on, what do you mean she's not what I think she is? Tame her? What is she exactly? She better not be an Orc, you know I hate Orcs." Her sharp warning only served to make Erelas chuckle.
"Oh she's not an Orc, by any means. She's not a member of the Horde at all, or at least not by choice. She was captured by a Shadow Hunter a couple of days before I came to Stranglethorn Vale. By the way, Aeldon says hello. So anyway, ya they captured her, and have kept her in cruel confinement, where she barely eats, and is very unhappy. I aim to free her and keep her by my side as a companion."
Verfanas was now frowning in irritation. Her mood was swiftly going sour. He was talking in riddles and confusing her.
"Again I ask, what IS she? And I don't care what Aeldon bloody says, I never want to see that pompous fool again. And how come you know all this about her when you said that you only had moments to see her. By the way how did you even accomplish that if she was in the middle of the Horde encampment, hmm? Come on Erelas, just spit it out. I hate it when you skirt around the tree and avoid directly answering. It always makes me nervous."
Erelas' smile faded slightly around the edges, and he glanced down, fiddling with his bow.
"Well, I knew if I said right out, you'd flat refuse to come, and I really do need your support on this. You're the only one I'd trust with my back on this. Okay here it is."
He took a deep breath, then turned and gazed at Ver seriously, a stubborn glint in his eyes.
"Okay, the creature, that I've set my sights on and want to free….well, she's a spider, and her name is Sparkles. She told me so! In the Hunter speak that we use to communicate with our animal companions. Which just proves that she's meant for me, and I'm meant for her, because normally I can't hear the thought speech of wild, untamed creatures. I caught her pleas for help while passing by Grom'gol. I was searching for Kingsblood at the time for make a potion for a friend. I was so startled…what?"
He stopped, giving a puzzled look at his friend. Verfanas, aware that her mouth was slack was shock, just couldn't bring herself to shut it. Her eyes must also be wide with amazement.
'A spider? What the Hell?'
Was the only thing going through her mind at that moment, and she couldn't have found words if she'd wanted to. Of all the things she'd been expecting, to hear that her friend was apparently smitten with a spider, of all things, was nowhere on the list.
For Elune's sake, a spider? Without thinking, she shook her head in disbelief. A Tauren chieftain's runaway daughter, a savage Troll maiden from the fabled Gurub'ashi tride, even an aloof Blood Elf woman. But to profess his desire to rescue an eight legged insect from what she assumed was the stables at Grom'gol, was so far beyond her imaginings that all she could do was stare.
"No. No way, and not just no, but HELL no. By the Nether, what is wrong with you? Have you gone fur-crazy?" Ver demanded finally, having recovered enough to sputter this.
'Fur-crazy' was a term that applied uniquely to certain Hunters who became so attuned to nature, to their animal companions, that they forgot who they were, that they were sentient, walking, talking beings with a higher thinking and control of their surroundings. They forgot all intelligence, reacting only on instinct and preservation.
Such Hunters often wandered off into the deep unexplored wilds and were never seen from again, presumably living like their wild companions. Erelas frowned, pouting slightly.
"What? I already said, she must be a very strong minded individual. And she's highly intelligent. She knew I was different from the rest of them, and she specifically requested my aid in freeing her. She was unhappy there, she was afraid of those brutes! And for good reason. They have her in a tiny cage, much too small for her, and feed her small, dead things. If I could only free her from the cage she's in, I could begin taming her and training her to be a Hunter companion."
Verfanas was now back to shaking her head mutely.
"Again with the no, Erelas. I'm so not going all the way to Stranglethorn Vale just to help you with this. Put it out of your mind and go get laid for Elune's sake. You need a serious wake up call my friend."
She made to stand up and walk off in a dramatic huff, but Erelas put a staying hand on her arm.
"Please, Ver? I wouldn't ask this of you if I didn't think I'd need your help. I hate to do this, but you do actually owe me a favor, remember? And if you do this for me, I'll consider it null and void. We'd be even. Need I remind you of what I did for you back in Terrokkar Forest? If I hadn't-"
Verfanas interrupted him with a waving of her hands.
"Okay, okay, I get it. Fine, I'll go with you on this harebrained spider chase. But I'm just stating now, for the record, that when things go sour and we end up in cages suspended over a pit of heated coals and a crowd of hungry Trolls are discussing how best to disembowel and consume us, don't say I didn't warn you."
She scowled, not feeling at in the mood to be light hearted anymore. Her hunter companion beamed at her, pleased to have her along, and not all deterred by her obvious reluctance.
They sat for a while longer, discussing certain details of the trip. Eventually, Ver's sour mood wore off and she relaxed, easily enjoying the lazy afternoon with her friend.
They decided that it would be best to set out at twilight, the most favored time of the Night Elves, and so after hammering out the details, went on their separate ways to prepare for the journey.
Verfanas was still harboring some misgivings about this so-called rescue mission she'd been press ganged into. As she entered the Inn to gather some fruit and fresh water skins for the ride, she pondered all the possible things that could go wrong, and was not encouraged when the list proved longer then was healthy.
She was on relatively good terms with the Trolls of Stranglethorn Vale, meeting up with, and bumping into quite a few of them down in the unofficial pirate town of Booty Bay, and coming across a few on her many foray's into the jungle there. She'd never had any reason to provoke them, and had had no trouble from the tribes either.
But she had the feeling that when her and Erelas pulled this stunt, that wouldn't be the case anymore. If they kept this spider under such close guard that Erelas required assistance in rescuing it, than it stood to good reason that she'd have to fight some Trolls to get it out of the camp.
The Druid sighed, feeling very put upon. The Innkeeper arched an eyebrow at her morose expression, but Verfanas just shook her head, not wanting to explain. After visiting the Inn and gathering provisions, she then went to the meat shop and procured a slab of tall strider meat for her mount.
If they planned on making good time, her mount would need the energy to keep the pace, and it bothered her conscious to not feed the great cat for the whole trip over, although she knew of some Night Elves who would wait until reaching their destination to feed their mounts, not wanting to haul extra weight around.
Once she'd given instructions on where to deliver the meat and when, she next visited the armor crafter, wanting to fix up some dents and tears that had accumulated in her armor over the last couple of weeks in Silithus. And finally, a visit to the general goods merchant, where she bought a few odds and ends that she thought might come in handy once they reached Stranglethorn.
There were many a times she'd been knee-deep in bad guys and lamented the fact that she didn't have a certain item that would have helped. Throughout the rest of the afternoon, she went to and fro the various shops that decorated the upper tiers of the tree city, buying and repairing various items.
Once her backpack and saddlebags were filled to her satisfaction, she meandered over to the stables to pick up her mount, a large, snow white cat with bright gold eyes.
"Didn't give you any trouble while I was gone, did she?"
Verfanas greeted the stable master with good humor, knowing her cat was one of the few well behaved ones that Triani watched during the day. Sure enough the older Night Elf shook her head, grinning.
"Naw, she's a right good old girl, is yours. Can't say the same for that pig headed fleabag over there." Triani thrust a thumb behind her. Curious, Verfanas craned her neck to see. Tied to one of the other tree roots was a large, coal black cat with fel green eyes, still carrying full battle armor, complete with bridle.
Verfanas raised an eyebrow, impressed by the size and magnificence of the creature. "Wow," She whistled. "He's a beauty."
"Oh ya, real pretty alright. Not so much pretty temperament though. That's why he's still wearin' his armor. Wouldn't let me get near him, cantankerous animal. Belongs to some flashy human Paladin, breezed in here not an hour ago, demanding to put his animal up so he could go meet some buddies or somethin'."
She snorted. "Men."
Verfanas snickered. She paid the stable fee and went about readying her mount for travel.
Since she knew her mount had been exhausted from its stay in Silithus, she had taken off all its armor so it could better rest up before her journey with Erelas. As well as, she didn't know how long he would be in getting to Darnassus. So now she gathered up all her mount's tack and expertly saddled up her mount.
After the saddle and bridle, the latter being gently settled around the great cat's large, wedge-shaped head, she settled the shoulder and paw armor as well as the face plate. Her mount was a war cat, and as such, she wanted to give it the best advantage possible of surviving a fight. There was nothing like losing your mount mid-combat.
After she'd finished, she swung up onto the her cat's back, immediately settling herself low over the shoulders for balance and to be as less of a hindrance as possible to the cat.
With a slight squeeze of her knees, the cat set off, bounding over the tree roots that kept the mounts penned in, and eating up ground between the Hunter pavilion where all mounts were kept, and the magical tree-portal that connected Darnassus, which was miles above ground, to the port at the trees base, where ships often docked to take supplies to and fro from mainland to the city.
At the tree-portal, she caught sight of Erelas, standing easily beside his own cat mount, this one a slate gray with vivid green battle armor. He scratched behind its ears absently as he watched Verfanas approach. The Druid nodded at him from atop her mount.
"Come on fool, lets get this over with so I can get back to Silithus," She groused at him. Erelas grinned at her ill humor.
"Because you were having so much fun there, right?" He responded sarcastically.
But he gathered the reins and leaped onto the back of his mount, settling himself forward over its shoulders. At an unspoken agreement, both surged forward through the flashing portal in unison, vanishing from the tree city of Darnassus.