It has been a long time since I wrote anything. I am really eager to get my head back into writing. This story represents an old idea I had, which I chose to take down and rewrite and republish here. I adapted the idea to a Gilnean worgen protagonist.
Please feel free to give your feedback. I can only improve with constructive critique, and I know there is a lot of room for improvement.
Other than that, I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I know I'll enjoy writing it!
A Meaningful Future
There sat the young man upon a hilltop within one of the many gardens of Darnassus, staring out over the various portions of wild flowers and shrubs, within which the odd tame deer could be found trotting about. He sat with his arms wrapped around his knees, wearing what the knowing eye would deem as common Gilnean farmworker attire; old brown patchwork trousers with a dirty white long-sleeved top. Before him was a pair of unpolished brown leather boots lying upon their sides, which appeared to be a little too large for him when observing the size of his feet.
The expression on the man's freckled face was blank and made it difficult for onlookers to make assumptions about his current emotions. As a result, visitors of that particular garden who would occasionally pass by did not pay him much heed. In truth, this is what he preferred, and he felt comfortable where he was sitting as a result. Occasionally a sudden gust of wind would blow his ginger hair to the front, concealing his blue eyes for a few seconds before he would brush it to the side again with his short fingers.
He sat atop this hill for many hours on this peaceful Darnassian day, seemingly lost within his own mind as an unpredictable torrent of varying thoughts gushed over his awareness. This was not an unusual occurrence for the Gilnean, especially with all the recent changes in his life as well the lives of his brethren.
Darnassus is the capital of the Kaldorei race, situated within the boughs of the overgrown World Tree, Teldrassil. Many night elves were quite proud of this majestic creation. Although a great majority not native to Darnassus found it to be quite an intriguing city in many respects, there are those who felt it was naught but an ostentatious display of night elven arrogance.
It was indeed true that the night elves, just as their cousin races, harboured some degree of arrogance. However, they had a different perception of what traits arrogance truly consisted of. Although aware of what the other races may think of their creations, the night elves paid no heed to them. They often perceived alternative races of Azeroth as being young and inexperienced, unable to truly comprehend their motivations. Yet despite this, the Kaldorei continued to fight for the cause of the Alliance. Had it been but two decades prior to this time, they would not have felt obliged to fight for the cause of any faction but their own.
The winds of time brought with it great changes to Azeroth within but a few years, and especially the Kaldorei people. Although they were at war with quite a few races within the world, none could forget their sacrifice of immortality to vanquish Archimonde, a demon lord who would have seen to Azeroth's demise.
As part of their commitment to the Alliance, the night elves have played a major role in bringing the remnants of the Gilneans into the fold. Although that was met with much resistance within the politics of the great faction, the Gilneans, many of whom possess the Curse of the Worgen, were able to prove themselves to be valuable additions to the the cause, especially considering that the enemy Horde faction have, at the same time, been bolstered with the power of goblin technologies.
Although there were many Gilneans who continued their daily lives as humans, there were a significant amount within the population who had other capabilities; they possessed the unique ability to transform into what is commonly known as a worgen. Sometimes it would be by choice, but on other occasions, it would be induced by guilt, fear, and anger. Under normal conditions, these Gilneans would have been permanently overcome by their Curse, forever to be the beasts they were. Yet due to the ritual of Tal'doren, they were able to keep in contact with their humanity. Though for some, it was just barely.
In the eyes of many who are proficient in the arts of arcane magic, the worgen are seen as very interesting, yet strange creatures. They are wolf-like humanoids, ranging from lighter to darker fur colours. They are generally the same height as a typical night elf, sometimes a little taller. Their eye colours vary greatly, and just as some breeds of canine, can be mixed. They have striking manes and needle-sharp claws. As far as their physical capabilities are concerned, they can run great distances at great speeds, and are far-jumpers. Truly, they are very dangerous creatures. Those who would be unfortunate enough to corner a feral worgen would be in for a bloody death, unless trained to fight them.
Although some may consider this a mere stereotype, worgen were always quite fond of climbing tall trees.
Day by day, the young Gilnean man sitting upon the hill would find new ways to pass the time, aimless and without true direction. The city was often rather silent around the afternoon times. Being who they were, night elves, or Kaldorei for that matter, preferred slumbering during daylight. Kaldorei culture has, for many millennia, placed great importance on the night. They worship a goddess who has some relation to the moon.
At the time, it was naught but a few weeks after he and his brethren had arrived here as refugees. Most had grown accustomed to new routines. Many of those who were capable fighters were already out aiding the Alliance in one way or another, whilst the rest remained with their families, protecting them and supporting them. There were a few Gilneans who did not feel comfort within the walls of Darnassus, and were out seeking new locations to settle. Some formed packs similar to those formed by feral worgen, but they tended to be looked down upon by other Gilneans who deemed pack culture as being far too animalistic and uncivilized.
After some time, the facial expressions of the portly ginger began to betray some emotion; moving from a blank state of carelessness to what appeared to be sorrow. After a while, he buried his face into his knees, perhaps trying to control his emotions.
It did not take long, however, for his negative state of mind to manifest itself into a tumour within him, which soon resulted in what appeared to be the beginning of a painful transformation; he could feel it coming due to the shift in the way his thoughts were being processed. Yes, he too had the Curse of the Worgen. Any sort of anger allowed to grow within him would trigger a physical shifting, just as it was doing at this time.
Although transformations were generally quick in reality, for some, the pain caused a warped sense of eternity. For this Gilnean, it was no different. He quickly darted to the most obscure location of the garden behind a large bush, hoping not to be seen or heard by anyone. Within mere moments, thick fur poked out his fair skin like a million needles forcing their way through the epidermis, one-by-one his bones disjointed and bent themselves in ways they were not even meant to, his teeth sank into his gums and re-emerged as sharp fangs, his head squashed itself from a round to a more pointed shape, and his nose stretched out above his lips, forming a muzzle. Soon after, his back spine forced him into a hunched posture, his hands became alike to a sharp fist weapon.
And finally, to end the painful process of this transformation, his large ears became alike to that of a canine, and his eyes became a bright glowing sea blue. His fur was dark brown in colour, and his striking mane was pitch black. His flat human feet became as hind legs typical to most wild animals. At this point, his shape was as that of a ferocious wolf humanoid, clearly much taller than before, more muscular, imposing, and dangerous. As all worgen, he did not have a tail in this form.
After the shifting in physical shape, his moans of pain became a loud howl akin to that of a wild wolf. All the nearby tame animal creatures quickly skittered away, alongside all birds save for one eagle of bright blue and violet colours and patterns. This eagle was perched upon the branch of a nearby tree, watching the wolfman down below. It had eyes of glowing amber too, which was also unusual.
As the worgen completed his howling, he looked to the direction of the eagle, and immediately spotted it. With his eyesight having improved to some degree, he could see the bird from that distance, and make out its features. The eagle was familiar; he had seen it before. This odd animal always was around somewhere whenever he transformed. At first he paid no heed, but this time, he grew suspicious.
In a sudden rush of anger and frustration induced by the painful shapeshifting, the worgen quickly grabbed a nearby stone and attempted to scare away the animal by throwing it at that direction. The stone bounced off a nearby branch, cracking it a little, and landed somewhere unknown. Although it made a loud snap noiseand a thud, the proud bird remained where it was, watching the worgen. Perhaps judgingly.
"Hrrrhmmf why don't you just leave me be!?" he shouted, with a deep and gruffy voice at the bird, which continued to stare down towards him with a striking look in its amber eyes - a look that seemed to betray a higher degree of understanding compared to most avian beings.
The worgen growled, before proceeding to climb the tall tree in order to reach the eagle. What he intended to do with it, he was not sure, but he wanted that eagle gone. Its persistent staring merely agitated him further.
Climbing trees was easy in this form, especially with his sharp claws.
After a few moments, he was near the branch upon which the eagle was perched. The violet bird did not seem to fear him. Though right before the worgen could successfully claw at it, the bright creature casually fell down from the branch, and before it was just about to reach the ground below, spread its brilliant wings, giving it a soft landing.
"Hrmph!" gruffed the worgen. He no longer wished to harm the eagle, but its behaviour was curious. He moved over the branch, and looked down to where it landed. The eagle, strangely, continued to stare up at him, perhaps beckoning the wolf to come hither.
"Silly bird," he muttered to himself. Right at that moment, however, the branch began to crack under his weight, and soon snapped. The worgen was unable to react quickly enough to move to a safer part of the tree.
Upon his descent, he let out a loud shout. Although the worgen would have survived the fall without injury, he landed in the most undesirable location which resulted him in being completely covered in thick mud. The nearby eagle merely watched the animal, as it tossed and turned, trying to get up and out of the mud pool in which an unlucky probabilistic outcome had taken his body.
Upon finally rising from the mud pool, he fell down upon all four of his limbs, and began to shake himself clean. All the nearby plants, bushes, and the base of the large tree were covered in splatters of mud as a result. He was not at all pleased about this, for the feeling of mud upon his fur was not pleasant. It was sticky, and felt similar to the sensation left by spilling honey upon one's arms.
"This is most displeasing!" he muttered to himself, whilst rising to stand upon two limbs.
And still, the bird nearby observed the worgen, perhaps in a curious manner if such could be seen from a bird. Once much of the mud was off the worgen's body, he looked to the direction of the brightly-coloured avian and proceeded to go upon all four his limbs once again in an attempt to leap after it.
The feathery violet creature reacted quckly, flying to a location nearby.
"Ugh," scoffed the worgen, still quite irritated and still plagued with the sensation of the most unpleasant stick of the mud particles within his fur.
And so, it continued. The worgen made it his mission to catch his beautiful creature, which unbeknownst to him, was leading him through a nearby entrance of Darnassus and out to the deep boughs of Teldrassil. His hunting instincts were kicking in, and he welcomed it more than ever before. Although he, as a human, had a special place in his heart for the wild animals, he simply could not resist going after this bird.
The boughs of Teldrassil had much resemblance to the deep woods of Ashenvale, save for the presence of softer fauna and flora, and the prominence of purple-coloured plants. Not too long ago, the World Tree was faced with the threat of corruption, which would have caused dire short-term effects of the tree, and even worse long-term effects for whatever part of the world was located near it.
Fortunately, after the return of the great arch druid Malfurion Stormrage, the corruption was finally mitigated, much to the relief of the many green-bearded druids within the Cenarion Enclave of Darnassus. Some scars still remained, but these scars could only be seen by the trained eye of an elven druid. Despite there being no immediate threat of corruption present within the tree, there were some that still held doubts, and rightly so. Teldrassil is quite vast, and as such, the smallest growth of undetectable foul magic within its composition can easily fester over time undetected, to the point that such a growth would transition to a state of being difficult or impossible to control.
Nevertheless, one fact is clear. Planting the tree was an act of arrogance; an attempt to regain immortality, and the night elves paid the price for it. Having been humbled by their recent past and being met with the reality that they may never re-acquire immortality, the Kaldorei faced new challenges the younger races simply did not have the ability to comprehend.
Although the challenges of the Kaldorei were truly vast in number, the current challenge of the young worgen to catch the elusive avian was one that seemed to prove difficult for him as he travelled deeper and deeper within the boughs of Teldrassil.
For over an hour the Gilnean tirelessly attempted to catch the feathered animal, experiencing no success whatsoever. This troubled him to some degree, considering that as a worgen, his ability to hunt a mere bird should have been a simple task.
The many natural sounds around him betrayed to the worgen that he was now far from Darnassus. It was a soothing sound; the gushing water of a nearby creek, the various birds singing to one another high up above the trees, the insects buzzing about, and the crackling sound of fallen leaves as various small creatures skittered about, perhaps trying to get away from the large worgen.
At this point, the lycanthrope had lost sight of the bird, for it blended too well with the mix of dark pink, purple, and violet colours all around. However, he did not lose its scent, and proceeded to sniff the air a few times to keep track of the direction towards where the bird flew. The air was fairly stagnant, but ripe with various smells of many living things around him. Yet despite this, his potent sense of smell was no failure at differentiating the bird's scent from the rest.
Finally after some time hunting, the worgen was led to an edge of the great tree's top. A sudden gush of wind greeted him, as bright opening was laid bare before him. He approached the opening, and peered down. He could just barely see the great expanse of waters that is the Veiled Sea down below at the base of Teldrassil.
He could step through the opening, for there was a large branch upon which he could land – one of the many broad branches that poked out prominently from the tree's sides. Just at the end of the branch, the bird could be seen, perched and seemingly confident.
Although the wind was strong and capable of blowing the worgen down to his doom, the hunter instincts within him were simply too overwhelming. He dared to jump down upon the branch, and approach the bird with no thought on how he would be able to get back up to safety.
The bloody creature will probably just fly away.
Yes, that would be the logical action for a bird to take, but that did not stop the wolfman from trying. He was determined to catch it. He would hunt until even long after the moon greets the world upon the horizon later that day.
The worgen slowly approached the bird, at any moment ready to make his move. As he came closer and closer to the creature, it merely stared, almost mockingly. The wind blew at great speeds, creating a howling noise as the air forced its way through the twists of the great tree's branch. The eagle was perched in a location which prevented the winds from having an adverse effect on its balance.
And finally, the worgen made one final and dangerous leap towards the bird. Yet as the worgen leaped, there was a sudden puff of smoke all around, quickly being blown away by the great winds. Within the mere second it took for all the particles to dissolve within the random locations it went, the worgen found himself being held down on his chest by many smaller wooden protrusions, with his muzzle forced shut. Before him was no longer a bird, but a very tall, burly night elven man wearing naught a long green leather-like kilt with various threads styled as brilliant green leaves sewn upon it. He had long, dark green hair and beard of which was nearly navy blue. His skin was also closer to navy than violet. He had a prominent nose and various sharp features on his face.
He waved his hand towards the gushing wind, and suddenly, the air was much calmer. He then proceeded to approach the trapped worgen, slowly. He placed his bare foot upon the lycanthrope's back, flattening his black mane, and knelt down to his ear.
"Now, who is the hunted?" he asked, with a voice that was as clear, deep, and smooth as most elven males.
The worgen could only growl in response, humiliated and burning with anger. He could only try to force himself out of the grips of the wooden vines, but the more he struggled, the tighter they became.
"Do not do that, you will bring pain upon yourself," commanded the elven man, as he lifted his foot off the worgen's back, and moved over to sit down with his legs crossed before the furry beast.
There was a moment of awkward silence between them, before the elf finally introduced himself.
"I'm Elzarion Nightstrider," he said. "I've been watching you since you arrived here, Gunnathor Hill."
The worgen let out a gruff as his expression quickly turned from anger to curiosity, and also a little less snarly. He did not at all feel comfortable, as the vines around him were tight and the mud from the incident not too long earlier continued to prove irritating within the strands of fur.
"Oh, I am aware of how humans feel about being watched, Gunnathor. Past experience with your kind dictates that you would consider this an invasion of privacy," he said, observing the expression on the worgen's face carefully, "but we Kaldorei uphold different, how should I say, values in life."
What do values have to do with invasion of prvacy? Gunnathor thought, puzzled a little.
"You'll understand soon enough what I mean," said the druid, "I can tell that you are a little puzzled. Nevertheless, Gunnathor, you need not fear me. For you see, during my observations I noted some… features within your behaviour which gave me the impression that you do not have any direction in your life. This is a poison, and I am determined to be the antidote."
This elf is clearly insane.
"I'll let you speak," said Elzarion, waving his hand to free the worgen's muzzle from the grip of the vines. The worgen let out a single cough before he began to speak.
"Who are you to say that I've no direction, elf?" asked Gunnathor, with a hostility in his voice that was obvious.
The elf chuckled, before responding, "Well, it is pretty clear. Many of your countrymen are out in the world seeking adventure, revenge against the Horde, or a better life for themselves. You, although certainly able-bodied enough with that Curse of yours, choose to linger about within the safe confines of Darnassus. You interact with almost nobody; you sit alone and brood. Your transformations are erratic and unpredictable. You ultimately hate yourself."
The worgen opened his mouth to provide a counter argument, but found that he was unable to utter a single word in response. It ended with a sigh.
"You know it to be true," said the elf, confident in his own conclusions, "but on the contrary, you carry with you an aura that hints a certain quality that I admire – a degree of potential in my eyes."
Gunnathor's expression turned to that of confusion, "Potential?"
"Yes. Casually questioning those amongst the Gilneans residing in Darnassus who appeared to know you, I was told you were a simple farm labourer, living a simple life and with simple goals. You are a quiet man, and your truest experience of happiness was during the harvest seasons, seeing the sweat of your labour yield results," stated Elzarion.
Gunnathor's ears perked. Although many within Gilneas would consider his position in society deplorable, he was in reality a happy young man; happier than most of the nobles one could argue. Being abruptly uprooted from his way of life plunged his mind into a state of constant anxiety and sadness. He often considered simply jumping down off the side of Teldrassil to end the misery of his current existence.
"You have a deep respect for plants, and I saw this in your recent weeks being within the Darnassian gardens," said the elf.
"And why is this important to you, elf?" asked the worgen, letting out another gruff.
"Because, Gunnathor, I want you to be my student in the Kaldorei ways of druidism," responded the elf; he paused for a moment to allow the worgen to digest those words. "Throughout the millennia, I have mentored many, and none of them were failures. Some even surpassed my own capabilities and are of Shan'do Stormrage's most trusted."
The elf betrayed a degree of pride in his voice.
"You are but one of three Gilneans in whom I see potential."
Gunnathor was not sure how to react to this. He continued to listen.
"You are not being forced, of course," assured the elf. "However, you have two choices: Either you can continue on with your depressive existence, or you can come with the other two, my daughter, and me on a journey to Un'goro Crater where your training shall begin."
Gunnathor stared up into the elf's face, amber eyes meeting his deep blue, both glowing to some degree. He was presented with a difficult choice. Choosing to travel out into the world with all the unknown dangers lurking about would be a massive step for him, and it would be far out of his comfort zone. Although still in the form of a worgen, at this point, his human thinking was taking precedence within his mind, and brought with it his timid fears.
There was a long pause between the two, before Elzarion wove his hands. With that, the vines withered away into dust, and blew away with the soft breeze. Gunnathor let out a few coughs as he lifted himself off his chest and stood, staring out into the great area of open air with his back turned to the elf.
"To compliment this, Gunnathor, I will teach you to embrace your Curse," said the elf, raising his long brows. The worgen turned to the elf immediately upon the utterance of those words, "And, you will learn that what you have is a gift – a gift that many amongst your brethren have been using to their advantage."
Gunnathor turned back to the direction of the great open and looked down, with the view of the great sea below. The elf's words touched him where it really hurt, which was a clever strategy. He felt a flicker of anger rise within him, which he was able to suppress quickly upon realizing its presence in his heart.
I don't want to be angry anymore. I want to accept who I am, but how could anyone be convinced that being this hideous creature is a gift? To be some sort of mongrel is detestable in all regards!
"Make your choice," commanded the elf, as he rose to his feet. "If you decline, you will not hear from me again and you will be on your own. If you accept, I will nurture you, protect you, and ultimately grow you. You will, as a result, gain direction and purpose. You will be in perfect control of your own future."
There is nothing to lose, but I am so afraid. I fear the unknowns.
There was a sudden gush of salty wind from below, likely originating from the sea at the base of the overlarge tree. It was a strong smell, which encouraged the worgen turned to the direction of the elf once more.
"What do you have to gain from this?" asked Gunnathor, scratching his muzzle. "I do not quite understand how training me is of any benefit to you. In my homeland, training in any regard came with it a price."
Elzarion chuckled, before responding, "I make an investment in the natural balances, that when death's kiss is to finally meet my lips, my spirit shall meld within a nature that thrives eternally. This is an aspect we druids value highly."
Gunnathor nodded slowly in response. Though he knew not of the intricacies behind these words, some logical deductions lead him to a thought: Night elves invest in the long-term, even beyond their own graves. Elven druidism is quite different from Gilnean druidism, it seems.
"It really is that simple, Gunnathor," assured the night elf.
There was another pause, as Gunnathor crossed his furry arms looking sideways to avoid Elzarion's amber gaze. He was still greatly uncertain of this decision, but he knew, the elf's offer far outweighed his timid human concerns. He let out a sigh, before he finally gave his answer to the much older blue-skinned man.
"Very well then, Elzarion," he said, returning his attention to the elf, "I will travel with you and the others."
The druid smiled as he heard the worgen's words, and then asked, "What has motivated you to make this decision?"
"It is an opportunity I simply cannot deny," Gunnathor quickly responded. "It is true, I do hold a deep love for… just about anything that grows from the soil, more so than animals even. But never had I consulted the secretive Harvest Witches; the keepers of the Ways of Old in our homeland. My lord forbade me. Perhaps elven druidism can help may indulge in the joys I once had, if anything."
After his response, there was a few more seconds of silence as Gunnathor continued to sort through the torrent of thoughts coursing through the rivers of his mind. This was an insurmountable decision for him, and he knew that all would be very different for him from that point onwards. He was also uncertain as to whether or not the elf would truly succeed in what he has set out to do. Even after but a few weeks in Darnassus, Gunnathor knew all too well that elves have a very different way of thinking compared humans. Elzarion had only ever trained elves, after all.
"Go on…" encouraged Elzarion. The words being uttered by the young wolfman were of great interest to the old elf.
"Well, I want to be more than I am now; more than an aimless strider. I want purpose in my life," he added. He lifted his clawed hand-shaped paws into the air, with his palms open before his face. "I cannot rid myself of this Curse, so I must learn to accept it. You have said, you can teach me to embrace it."
The druid nodded, "I can guide you to self-acceptance, and that is all. The rest will be up to you, ultimately."
Gunnathor sniffed, "I… see."
The elf approached Gunnathor. In the form of a worgen, he and Elzarion were of the same height. As of now, all feelings of uncertainty, doubt, and lingering combinations of pain left the worgen's state of mind, and as a result, he was able to freely shift back into the form of a human. Although there was, once again, dislocation and bending of bones, as well as the morphing of flesh, there was very little physical discomfort, which cannot be said for the reverse transformation in his case.
Once Gunnathor had completed his shifting back into the form of a human, his clothes were greatly stretched and torn and thus hung around his body as badly-sewn robes. To prevent his pants from falling down, he dug into his pockets for a rope and quickly tied it around his waist.
"I'll provide you with clothing that can adjust to both forms a little better," said Elzarion, noting the issue immediately.
Even for a human, Gunnathor was short in height, and thus was as a dwarf compared to Elzarion. He felt somewhat intimidated by this, but also to some degree protected. The elf placed his large hand upon Gunnathor's shoulder, who in response, looked up to meet his gaze.
"All will be well Gunnathor," he assured. "Now, walk with me. You need to be introduced to the others, and they are not far from here."
At that point onwards, Gunnathor's life would never be the same again. As a child he was indoctrinated to the belief that his life would always be that of a labourer, and nothing more; he had his place in society. He was taught to care for plantations and tow the fields. He chose to find joy in this, but now that he was no longer home, everything fell apart. His life no longer had meaning. He had no desire to travel to Elwynn and work within some of Stormwind's plantations, for he was too afraid that the wretched Curse would complicate life a little too much. He was too ashamed of his second form.
Had Elzarion not presented himself any sooner, Gunnathor would most likely have taken his own life. But now, there was hope; hope for a future, hope for a meaning, and hope to become much more than what he was initially destined to be. This was both exciting and frightening for the cursed Gilnean.
Alas, it was nothing more than just mere hope.