(A conversation between Niesa and Elli)

The battle was brief, but fierce. After the dust had settled, Niesa had summarily vanished, as was her wont to do when she was tired, sore or injured. The words of Feralsong still played in her head as she retrieved the precious box she had painstakingly been restoring.
*She’s not evil.*

Wincing in pain, she looked down at her tattered leathers…and the wounded fur and frostburnt skin beneath the lacerations in the armor. It wouldn’t hurt to find the makeshift infirmary tent and get these tended to, as minor as they were. Fixing the armor would take the rest of her time before her next patrol most likely, but she wanted to speak with the great shapeshifter and hear more about this strange adversary.

 

Elli left the meeting, wanting nothing more to go and sink herself back into welcoming feeling of Ardenweald. But, an order was an order. Sort of. She laughed a bit to herself over that thought. It took more … discipline than any officer or authority she chose to work with to do what they demanded of her than any of them would ever realize. To be fair Ace had an inkling, but he was retired now. She’d agreed to accept the Justicar as her commanding officer so she’d better get used to following her orders – at least until the Justicar came to the realization that any orders given to her were only followed if she agreed with them. Still, it was a bad order. Or one she didn’t think was off the mark. Resting and healing was a good idea before she went on her next … mission (?) It didn’t feel like a mission. Not really. Probably because most of her “missions” usually involved tracking and/or killing someone. But, there was something about Theodora Evergreen that struck a chord with her. Shaking her head, she walked over to the infirmary area, shifting to her Kaldorei form on the way. No sense in making the healers too nervous about snapping jaws and slashing claws after all.

 

The Gilnean did her best not to squirm under the healers’ touch, but she did whimper when the frost-bitten skin was healed. When the Kaldorei entered, Niesa did not recognize her at first. It was someone she had never seen, save the armor. The worgen form of Feralsong earlier! That was it and this was her!

Her surprise was quite noticeable in the doubletake as the realization took place.

 

“Oi! Commander Feralsong! Izzat you?” Niesa was often bad with the honorifics. “I was hopin’ to catch up with ya.”

 

Elli raised an eyebrow as she was guided to a place by one of the healers. “Commander?” She snorted. “My rank is Lieutenant-Champion not Commander. Or it was. I’m on an extended leave of absence from the Alliance Military.” She looked the young woman up and down and gave her a bit of a smile. “Just call me Elli.”

 

“Elli. Alright, Miss Elli it is, then,” the Worgen smirked, then pointed to herself with a claw. “Niesa, in case ya forgot. New recruit, ‘ere.” Her floppy ears wiggled as she spoke. If the worgen curse had included a tail, there is little doubt that it would have wagged as she spoke. Niesa’s mannerisms were more akin to that of a domesticated dog than the feral instincts that blessed many of her kind. Having spent most of her childhood in Stormwind had ensured the inherent friendliness that her posture expressed. All adaptation techniques, keeping a poor refugee fed on the streets most likely. After all, despite the black as night fur, claws and fangs, she *seemed* harmless enough.

 

Oh sweet Elune it’s another Jennie but older. “I remember, Niesa. I’m old but not in my dotage yet.” Her smile twists a bit. “So, what is it you wanted to catch up with me about?” There’s a … look in her eyes as she asks the question. It’s hard to determine if it’s one of anticipation, consternation, resignation, or concern. Perhaps it’s a bit of all of them. “If it’s about my, uh, actions, don’t worry. I don’t lose control.” The smile becomes sardonic. “Benefits of being worgen for several millennia.”

 

Niesa considered the mention of being several millennia old with a worgen curse. It showed upon her visage as she chewed mentally at the idea, possibly shelving several questions for another time.  As the thoughts passed, her eyes widened at the defense. Hands shot up in front of her chest. “Oh! Miss Elli, no, I didn’t mean that. I jus…well, I wondered what made’ya think that she might be amenable ta other folks, is all.”

The rogue considered. “I haven’t gone too hard on trackin’ since the others seem better at it than meself, but if we go the diplomacy route, then I wanted ta help, ya see.” Claw tips touched their mirror opposites in a nervous gesture.

 

“Ah.” Elli rubs the bridge of her nose in a way that’s reminiscent of the way she rubs her muzzle as a worgen. “Well, to be honest, normally I’m a kill first and ask questions later. But this time it feels … wrong.” She shrugs and seems incredibly uncomfortable. “I can’t explain it but I just …” A frustrated sigh escapes. “I just get the idea that she … she doesn’t belong here.” Elli emphasizes the word with a wave of her hand indicating the entire area. “I think things would be different …” She shakes her head. “I don’t know.”

 

The young worgen watches each nuance of the older worgen’s thoughts as she both speaks and leaves some things unspoken. After a moment of consideration, she ventures. “Would any of us be where we were if we didn’t have a ‘and in our own fate? I mean, I’m sure she belongs, but…she’s a person, right? Peoples is complex things, ain’t they?”

 

“Yes, they are.  More’s the pity.”  A scowl creases her brow at that.  “But …” She struggles to put her thoughts and feelings into words.  “She may have belonged her at first.  I don’t what she did in her life to deserve coming here but whatever it was she’s paid her debt.  I just …”  Another shake of her head is accompanied by her form wavering from Kaldorei to worgen and back.  “Ardenweald should be her home.”  The last part is spoken softly.  If Niesa had been human, she probably wouldn’t have heard it.

 

Niesa did indeed hear the last part, and nodded. “I went to Ardenwald meself an’ felt it’s pull. It’s a fair bit intimidatin’ wot with the lack of folks an’ buildings, but the fairy folks an’ the big trees sorta makes up for it.” She bares her fangs in a grin, omega smiles. “I could see someone not used to bein’ surrounded by good folks fallin’ for the great outdoors an’ keepin’ the critters and fairy folks safe.” Glancing around, she adds. “Can they, like, even do that? Swap eternities or move?”

 

“I don’t know.”  Elli looked thoughtful. “But I imagine even in eternity you can change.  I’m not the same person I was when I was born before the Sundering.”  She gives a rueful laugh. “I’m not the same person I was a mere few centuries ago.”   The laugh fades and she looks thoughtful again. “If a soul comes to Revendreth to atone for their sins, if they can, then be able to go elsewhere after the atonement, I don’t see why someone couldn’t go to another area at a later time.”  A sardonic smile crosses her lips. “Then again I think like a living mortal not like one of these guys.”

 

“Suppose that’s true, but most of these souls were mortal once.” Niesa smirks, “Mebbe not the big fellers, but the littler ones were.” The worgen flexes her fingers and toes as the medic indicates her bandage session is completed. “So the next question is ‘ow do we get these blokes to let us parley, an’ how do we get this Venthyr lass to not kill us when we do?”

 

“Convince her this master isn’t who she thought he was or that he’s changed and isn’t worth her loyalty.”  On this Elli seems pretty sure.  “And win her loyalty to us.  Or, if not to us, to a greater cause.”

 

“Easier said than done, I think,” she glances back at her box. “Probably summpthin she’ll have to figger out for herself. If she does, I’m hopin’ this attempt ta fix ‘er little teaset will ‘elp. I mean it’s gotta be worth a pretty penny to ‘er if she kept it despite it being shards, right?”

 

“That I don’t know.”  Elli shrugs.  “The only things she wanted back when she spoke to Zaanthe were her book and her pet supplies.  I suppose you could offer it.”  She paused, lost in her own thoughts for a moment.  “I need to find out about her past.  About what she was before she died.  What’s she been since her death.”

 

Niesa sat back in thought for a moment. “Could ask that eredar venthyr bird Nadana, right? She’s gotta know like, everything about ‘er. Assume these lots are the secretive types, though. Don’t know if they’ll spill the beans ’bout another of their kinds’ past now. Then again, if we find that sinstone, it’s supposed ta tell us all that, right?”

 

“I don’t know anything about sinstones but, yeah, I plan to talk to Nadana.”  Elli brushed off the healer still fussing over her and rose.  Her silver eyes returned to Niesa.  “You should talk to Lena.  She’s my beta.”  She gave the worgen an appraising gaze.  “That is if you want to belong to a Pack.”

 

“Scuttlebutt around th’ Keep an’ ya pick up bits about wot a sinstone is. Dredgers like ta be chatty. Tells ya why they’re ‘ere in the first place.” The sudden change of topic made the young worgen lope her head to the side, ears flopping almost comically. “Pack, eh? Like a huntin’ group? Wot’s it got for an advantage?”

 

Elli’s lips twitch.  “Same advantages as a wolf pack does.  We look out for each other and learn from each other.”  The twitch becomes a wry smile.  “And you’ll have someone who’s used Goldrinn’s form as well as the worgen form for most of her life around if you have any questions.”

 

“Are there meetin’s? Dues?” Niesa began to investigate the holes in her armor, pointedly avoiding the gaze of the older alpha. “I dunno much about Goldrinn. Tha’s a elfin god now, innit? An’ wot could anyone possibly learn from me? I jus’ got me first outta the city big contract!”

 

The Kaldorei walked across the room to stand next to Niesa and look down at the younger worgen.  “He’s a Wild God, yes.”  Her voice is soft and quiet.  “Humans and most elves didn’t choose the gift or curse, depending on how you feel about it, associated with having his form.  I did.”  There’s a sigh.  “Though the form originally was one of a true wolf, not the hybrid one that comes from being afflicted.  It’s too … difficult for most to control which is why, until the serum and ritual were developed, those afflicted are feral.”  A bit of sorrow and pain colors her voice.  “And why some worgen, even with them, still run wild and kill.”

 

The young worgen listened with ears up and wide eyes focused on Elli. This was news and it kept her enraptured. “No way…” Eagerness spread in her posture as she leaned in. “That’s nuffin’ like wot me ma said ’bout us. She jus’ always mumbled ’bout a curse or summin’ an’ undead were bad an’ the cause of all our troubles.”

 

Elli rubbed her nose in a way that was reminiscent of how she rubbed her muzzle in her worgen form.  “There’s a whole history behind how humans became afflicted but it all originates with Kaldorei who wanted Goldrinn’s form but couldn’t control it.”  She waves at Niesa’s body.  “What you are lays at the feet of a few arrogant druids.”  Her jaw tightens a bit.  “It’s a terrible tale that I can tell you later if you want to know the truth but I have other things I need to do first.”

 

Niesa’s ears tilted down, just at the tips. She gave a curt nod. “Another time, then.” A beat. “Do ya need any ‘elp?” The faintest tinge of nervousness had crept into the worgen’s voice, uncertain of her own abilities and how much use she’d even be to Elli. She glanced again at the sorry state her armor had been left in after the battle. “Mebbe I should fix me leathers first, eh?”

 

“That’d be a good start.”  Elli repressed a laugh, her mood lightening.  “The best way for you to help me is to keep an eye on the Justicar while I’m out.  She’s got that paladin stubbornness that’ll get her in trouble.”  She made a face.  “Damn paladins  ….”

 

“That we can agree on!” Niesa chuckled. “I can do that for ya, shouldn’t be too slippery.” The rogue gave a toothy grin as she gathered herself and her items up to head back to her tent. “I best be goin’, but you can count on me, mate.”

 

“Good.”  Elli gave the young worgen a friendly smile.  “It’s good to have young, energetic people around.”

Author Insein
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