“That’s enough. You’ve done enough, don’t go out again.” A priestess barred Shaladine as the elf began to head back into the flames, she had just escorted a family of gilneans and a treant into the Temple. “You’ll do no one any good if you die out there.”

Shaladine felt the heat from even inside the Temple, the air was becoming thinner. The cries and wails of her people were just as loud inside the Temple, but outside felt eerily quiet. Were all those left dead? “I have to. My grandmother is out there.”

“Let her go.” A voice of a distant priestess called out. “She’s a Rainewind. There’s no stopping them when they get something in their heads.”

Shaladine called a quick thank you to the unseen priestess and dashed out into the blazing heat. She pulled her cloak over her face, still gasping with each breath. Flames blocked her path as they consumed a bridge. A few moments into her trek, she stepped on the fallen body of a Teldrassil resident. She passed others running.

“ALENE! GRANDMOTHER!” Shaladine coughed as smoke filled her lungs. She was stumbling towards the Cenarion and Gilnean district, or so she thought, the smoke was difficult to navigate. She called again and her voice was drowned out by flames.

A distant glow caught her attention, it was soft and white, familiar, but dim and flickering. She leapt into the sky, extending her wings to glide towards it and landed on the ground beside a fallen form of a night elf woman.

Alene’s breathing was ragged and several fallen elves were scattered around the ground, all dead. Crushed under fallen branches or consumed by smoke and flames. Shaladine threw her glaives to the ground and reached to pick up her grandmother. She ripped off a piece of her cloak and pressed it into Alene’s hand. “Please, try this. We can make it.” Shaladine felt the cloth taken from her hand and began to run.

Shaladine’s legs felt heavy and she sank to the ground, coughing on a stone walkway. It was so hot, the world felt like it was spinning.

Whispering softly against her back, Alene was praying. Shaladine kept her masked gaze forward, but did not find the will to move. For a moment, she imagined feeling a kiss of clean, soft air.

Maybe dying won’t be so bad…maybe Elune will take me somewhere nice…I tried…I really tried.

Auris’ wings ached, she’d narrowly dodged a shot from a catapult, but had flown high enough to be out of range after that. She screeched in horror upon seeing the flaming ruins of Darnassus. Rage built up in her again, but the Temple was still standing. She flew through the door and shed her feathers, emerging as herself once again.

A familiar priestess, Alethe, walked over to her with a grim look. “Your mother and the…demon hunter? They’ve been gone for a while. I know what you’re thinking…but leave now, Auris.”

“My niece…the demon hunter is my brother’s daughter…mother is not here?” The rage began to feel cold, Auris shivered despite the heat.

“Auris, you may not be studying to be a priestess anymore, but I still consider you my responsibility, you canno—”

“Archdruid,” Auris felt strange saying it. She felt strange claiming it. In years, she barely uttered the words, just words to her. But it had the intended impact. Alethe paused mid-step, and drew back her outstretched arm.

The old priestess nodded. “I suppose, you aren’t a little girl anymore, are you? No, I suppose, you haven’t been for quite a while…Elune be with you.”

Auris dashed for the canals, searching. She detected a faint scent of sulfur among the fire, and a figure dropping to her knees through a screen of flames, a white robed priestess on the younger elf’s back. A rush of water from the canal crashed on the flames separating them and Auris focused on the air, managing to send a very thin stream of fresh air to the pair. It was brief, she lost her connection. Teldrassil was crying out in pain, there was nothing she could do to save it, or them if she stayed too long.

“Shaladine! Mother!”

“I tried, Auris…I tried so hard…I tried.” Shaladine gasped, seemingly staring up into the sky. “Please accept me…I tried…”

Auris reached the two, her mother was unconscious, and Shaladine, delirious, it seemed. She wrapped her arms around them and drew out a strange gnomish device given to her by Star. It was in the shape of an acorn. Auris fumbled with it.

“You did well, Shaladine…it is time to go.”

They were swallowed by light and an odd sensation of being stretched and they hit the wooden floor of Star’s house with a thud, leaving the smell of smoke behind. Alene’s eyes fluttered open and she began to take in gulps of clean air. Shaladine mimicked her. Ayelinn flung herself at Auris, arms wide to embrace.

“You saved them.”

Auris hugged her daughter tight. “I love you. I love all of you.”

Shaladine managed a smile.

“Well, when Robin gets here, we’ll all be right where we belong. Home.” Star began handing out glasses of water as Auris turned to treating her mother’s wounds.

“Home.” Shaladine repeated quietly.

“Welcome home, Shaladine.” Star grinned, handing her a tall glass of water. 

Author Robin
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