“You have got to be kidding me.”
A crackling sound of heavy animal footfalls through tall dead grass alerted the stranded naked woman to an approaching bear. She frowned at the annoyance, rolled her shoulders, and tilted her head, popping a joint in her neck to loosen up.
No weapons, no armor. Not even any clothes. And no idea how she ended up in this mess.
The bear came charging out into the clearing with a roar, ready to make the most of what he had thought would be an easy meal. But the lack of armor and heavy weapons made his would-be snack even more limber and acrobatic than normal.
Doradrassil shot towards the bear, palm out. She jammed her palm into his nose and cartwheeled onto his back, pulling up on his nostrils with her fingers. The bear reared back in pain, trying to swat at her and launch her off of his back, but already too late. The Warden was latched on tight, her fingers on both hands now plunged deep into the bear’s throat. Doradrassil allowed herself a brief chuckle. Even with memory loss, she still knew just where to grip to close the breath ways.
The bear thrashed, but she held on. It didn’t take long for him to pass out. She had no need to kill the thing, needing only the chance to get away so she could make for civilization. She left the bear to recover while she climbed up in a tree and surveyed the area.
Several towers dotted the landscape. Light’s Hope was farther away. The nearest two towers seemed virtually the same distance away.
Hmph, she thought. That had to be intentional. Someone planned this.
For a brief moment, she wondered if Mallory was okay. Then it dawned on her exactly who must have done this to her. It wasn’t easy to take a Warden off guard, after all. Not to mention knock one unconscious and transport them for miles, leave them at a precise location, and steal all their clothes.
Is this your idea of a test these days, Aertemis? I’ll get you for this…
Doradrassil sighed, and dropped from branch to branch, and then silently to the ground. The bear still slept, but was breathing. Doradrassil shook her head as she crept along. The bear was hardly a challenge, and now that she was safe, it would be a trivial matter to remain stealthy without her armor threatening to make noise at every movement. While she wasn’t pleased to be stranded naked, at least it was easier to stay silent…which made this “test” hardly challenging.
Between evading vampiric bats and the occasional zombie, the trip to one of the towers was fairly uneventful. Maybe it was more a prank than a test, though Doradrassil was unsure how she would get her back.
As she approached the area surrounding one of the towers, she bit her lip. This was where things would get tricky. Built on a bare hilltop, the area surrounding the tower was entirely exposed, and the guardsmen were watching at the top. Being stealthy was one thing, but to disappear entirely was another matter altogether.
Of course, she could just walk right in and ask for some clothes, but that would defeat the purpose. She would consider that as a last resort, but felt certain she could sneak in and steal some clothes. Might as well challenge herself with this predicament.
The semi-circle wall did offer some cover, if she could play the line of sight and the timing right. But then there was the matter of where some clothes might be. She couldn’t readily see any clotheslines hanging from where she was. If there was one, it must have been in the back, obscured by both the wall and the tower itself no matter what angle she looked from. She decided to watch the tower door, looking to see if anyone carried any clothes or armor in or out. Luckily, one woman did bring a couple of dripping-wet cloth items outside. They must have been washed somewhere inside the building. She disappeared behind the wall to the left.
That was about as much information as Doradrassil was going to be able to get from outside. From behind a bush, she waited for nightfall, and watched the guards’ movements at the top of the tower in the meantime. The wind felt strange to her, with this much exposed skin, but she was otherwise unfazed by her predicament. She still couldn’t remember what exactly had happened. Aertemis must have been able to sneak up on her well enough to simply knock her out cold with a single hit. Fel, this was probably her punishment then, for being so lax.
She nodded to herself as the night grew dark enough for the guards at the top of the tower to light their torches. It was time to make her move. The guards had a pretty consistent routine of the areas they surveyed, so she was sure she could make it up to the wall when they weren’t looking. By that point, the wall itself should obscure her from them. She watched…just a little longer…a little longer…
She darted out of the bush, bolting through the grass and up the hill. Okay, this definitely feels awkward, she thought, even though no one could see her…or at least, she hoped. She could just imagine the bewildered “What the fel is a naked night elf running through the field for?”
She pressed herself against the wall and sidestepped around to the back of the tower enclosure. She kept her eye on the guards again, and when they weren’t looking, she raised her hand just above the wall to see what light hit it. Not much, that was good. This told her at least there wasn’t a torch or a campfire just on the other side of the wall, so she would still be in relative darkness. She pulled her hand down and waited again for the guards to look elsewhere.
Okay…here goes… Either I succeed or everyone gets a show.
She silently jumped and grabbed the ledge, pulling herself up. She had a momentary glance into the small rear yard. Clothesline, no nearby torches, and best of all, no one there. She heaved herself over the wall, and by the time her feet hit the grass, she already had her eyes set on a simple brown top and some black pants. She darted up to the clothesline and crouched low to the ground, using the clothes for cover from the guards. Upon examining her chosen articles more closely, she realized they were probably a soldier’s clothes for wearing beneath the armor.
Whatever. It’ll work.
She pulled them off the clothesline and glanced around for undergarments, but finding none immediately, she crept back over the wall to put on what she had. She could trifle with finding proper undergarments soon enough, but the simple shirt and pants would have to do for now. The pants were large around her waist, but fit like capris on her legs. The shirt, likewise, was baggy on her torso, but a bit short on the sleeves. The fit could hardly be any worse, but it covered her, and that was the important thing right now.
She held the waist of the pants tight as she crept back into the night, made a wide arc around the tower, and came back to the road leading to its main entrance. Now, she stepped into the torchlight and approached the tower in plain sight.
“Good evening,” she said to the first guard she met. “I’m a traveler who got stranded out here without my armor. I’d like to get some clothing in my size before I depart, please. I don’t have any money with me, but as payment, I’ll help you shore up the holes in your defenses.”
The guard tilted her head, holding up a torch to see Doradrassil better. “Begging your pardon?”
“These clothes don’t fit me,” Doradrassil said, loosening her grip on the waist of the pants she wore. “Someone stranded me out here unconscious and naked. Someone I intend to repay for this little prank. I stole these from the clothesline in the back for modesty before coming up here. Which means I snuck past all of this tower’s defenses to do it, and snuck back out. You get me some real clothes, I’ll tighten up your defenses before I go. Deal?”
The guard smiled. “I don’t know how you pulled off a thing like that, but lady, you got yourself a deal.”