"I think we should land Aeornoss. That storm is coming in fast and I'd feel much better weathering it from the ground."
The stone drake gave a little rumble in acknowledgment. "I forget that you flesh types are sensitive to the elements. Down we go then."
Just as Aeornoss began his slow decent, the air pressure abruptly changed. Kelebek cried out as her ears popped painfully and the drake grunted in strain as the duo was hit by a strong, horizontal gale. The druid gritted her teeth as she clung to her seat. Knuckles burning, eyes tearing from the wind and debris in the air, Kelebek tried to make sense of what was happening. She tried to pry open one of her eyes to see what was happening. What she saw was alarming.
A vortex had spawned before them. A massive vertical tunnel of air - thick with dirt, trees, and what appeared to be animals - spun wildly before them. Violently it danced, two-stepping its way in a quick fashion over to where the druid and the drake struggled to hold their place in the sky.
Aeornoss suddenly gave out a great roar that sounded like it was let forth not just out of frustration, but of pain, as a great burst of air struck them in the chests.
The last thing Kelebek could recall was seeing the ground coming at her like an over zealous, long lost lover.
She woke up to a cool cloth being wiped across her brow. A quiet female voice was speaking in a foreign tongue very nearby. A deeper, yet still very female voice that sounded as if it was a bit further away answered in the same tongue.
Carefully, slowly, Kelebek opened her eyes. A painful glare met them, so she immediately closed them once more. A few moments passed and she tried again. This time she was able to squint against some of the bright, sparkling light's harshness. A bubble had been placed around her, and tending to the cool cloth that was placed on her head was a white Draenic woman. Her lips were painted black and her long, straight white hair was pulled back into a tail. The priest saw that the druid's eyes had opened a hair and as Kelebek began to stir, quickly said something in a thick tongue to her companion.
"No move." The priest said, laying a gentle hand on Kelebek's chest as she struggled to get into a sitting position. Her accent was heavy, her common barely recognizable. Unable to fight against her caretaker, the druid once again laid down as the world spun in a violent ballet around her.
"You and your drake friend are rather fortunate," said the lower of the two female voices "you both seemed to have only sustained minor injuries."
Kelebek turned her head towards the direction of this second voice. A dark skinned, dark haired Draenei shaman was source of the sound. Her common was easily understood despite her still rather thick accent. Her lips were pursed with worry as she walked over to the druid. Kelebek drew her attention away from the approaching figure to what lay behind her, rather motionlessly. "Aeornoss..."
"The stone drake will be fine. He is exhausted, but he is one of the earth. Nothing vital has been broken. Time as always will heal those bits that have shattered." The shaman kneeled by the druid's side, next to the priest. Ebony and ivory, thought Kelebek, how lovely. She reached out a cool hand to Kelebek's cheek, then cupped her chin in her dark hand. Gently she moved Kelebek's head side to side, watching how well the druid's eyes responded to the movement of light. "Any pain besides in your skull? You have a knot starting, but I shouldn't think that it is life threatening."
"My...my back aches a bit." Gasped the druid weakly.
The shaman nodded and said something in a rapid fashion to her companion. The priest opened up an herbal bag, handing the contents to the shaman. The shaman in turn opened up her own satchel, producing a mixing bowel, a few vials, and a few bandages. She set to work making two different cures. One was an elixir, which she gave to the priest to help Kelebek drink down. A bit foul tasting, the concoction quickly absolved a good portion of the ache in her head. While she was finishing the last of the elixir, the shaman put the finishing touches on a salve.
"Do you feel well enough to sit up yet?" Inquired the shaman.
"I think so."
Another quick word from the shaman to the priest, the priest helped to gently roll Kelebek into a sitting position. As the priest helped to remove Kelebek's leather tunic, the shaman spread the salve thickly onto a cloth. She then pushed the cloth to the druid's now bare back and the two Draenei carefully wrapped the whole thing into place. They then carefully slid her tunic back into its original arrangement, then laid the druid back into a more or less comfortable position.
"That salve is rather potent and it should take but a moment to start working its magic." The shaman put a steady gaze on the druid's face. "You'll have to forgive Kalli for the bright awakening. It's her first venture out into the wider world in quite some time, and she's much more adept at messing with minds and picking herbs than she is at healing. I hope her shield didn't pain your eyes too much."
"The thought," Kelebek winced as she felt a twinge of pain in her back "is definitely appreciated."
Apparently approving of this response, the shaman went on. "I myself am not terribly practiced in the ways of healing and potions, but elixirs and bandages seem to get me by. My name is Saz." The shaman made a gesture to herself. "You were fortunate that my companion and I were out and about looking for a few rare herbs. By the light, that storm came out of no where. I haven't felt the elements to be in a state like that since the time of the Destroyer." She made a gesture of warding away violent memories. "It doesn't matter now, I'll seek those answers later. For the time being we are all safe and more or less in one piece."
"He is well enough, as I said. It is much easier for me to heal that of which is earth than that of which is flesh." She smiled at the druid. "Worry not, I suspect he shall awaken soon enough."
At these words they heard a faint, gravelly shuffle. Kelebek turned to look at her companion and watched as he got up from his resting place. Aeornoss gave a great shake of his head, worked his jaw a few times, and looked over to where the trio of women sat. He slowly padded over, stopping so that his nose was just a short distance from Kelebek's face. "Are you well, little ghost?"
"Well enough, thanks to these two." She reached out, touching the drake's stoney muzzle in reassurance. In response the drake made one of his stone sounds of approval.
The drake then turned his head to face the Draenei women. "My thanks to the both of you for helping little Kelebek and myself. We would be in a sore state without your hand. We are in your debt."
"We have no use of your debt, however you are more than welcome. We may be fighters, but we're not ones to leave the wounded lay about. In a world torn kindness and helping go a long way."
Another growling sound of approval.
With that the shaman said another quick word to the priest, who at once set off into the nearby bushes on the search for something, while Saz set about making a fire to ward off the oncoming nightfall.
By firelight they chatted about wild herbs, foods, and the demons of the world. They feasted upon the meat rations that Kelebek had obtained earlier in the day, much enhanced in flavor thanks to some of the spices that Kalli had in her bags, and on the berries found in the nearby bushes. After dinner Saz was tutting over some of the damage her armor had taken when the Draenei women were also battered by the storm. Kalli had managed to somewhat patch up her own robes (she certainly was no tailor), but Saz had no skill of her own when it came to mending chain mail and the leather pieces that held it all together. Happy to have something to do with her hands, Kelebek went about repairing the shaman's gear as they chatted the now dark evening away.
"What brings you to Darkshore?" inquired Kelebek of the two Draenei.
"We were out looking for snow herbs in Wintersrping. Once we finished there we figured that we would gather a few desert herbs as well while on this continent. We wanted to avoid most of the horde territories and felt the need to observe the demon situation in Felwood for ourselves. So we headed west first, with the plan that we would head south once we hit the forests Darkshore. We hope to be in Uldum by the next moon shift, and Tanaris soon after."
Kelebek listened intently as she kept her eyes on the work before her. She stitched and mended the damaged leather with ease, but some of the chain mail was being problematic. "What did you think about the demon situation, as you called it, over in Felwood?"
"I haven't seen corruption that bad since I fought Yogg-Saron in the pits of Ulduar or since entering the maw of Iso'rath oh so many years ago."
"Do you think it's curable?"
"Have a mind to heal those wilds, druid?"
"I have a mind to find someone who can, if it is possible. Like you, I'm not very talented at the healing arts, but I've called those woods home for some time. I'd like to protect what good is left there."
The shaman studied the druid's face as she said those words. She seems to have more trouble on her mind than a couple of trees, she thought to herself. She watched as Kelebek worked with nimble fingers over the broken patches in her chain mail gloves, so intent on detail that she worked the stitches with the sort of love that made you think that the gloves were her own.
"It may be possible, but it will be messy. What is your plan?"
"I plan to fly to Darnassus, with the help of Aeornoss, and seek out the priests and druids at the Temple of the Moon. I hope to rally a few rangers to kill off the demons, find a few good druids to work with the earth, maybe a few good priests to come along to care for those who in turn care for the wilds."
"Your hope all lies within what The Priestess has to say then?"
"Yes. And by Elune, without her help, I think all is lost for Felwood."
"You have many long days ahead of you then."
"I believe I do."
"Then it is time that we should get some rest." The shaman's eyes fell upon the already sleeping priest, her head padded by her pack and covered snugly by her cloak. Somewhere behind her, just out of the brightest of the fire's light lay the stone drake, quietly making his gravely snoring noises.
Handing the last of the now mended gear back to Saz, Kelebek nodded in agreement. The shaman looked over her well used gloves and her eyes lit up. "You have some talent, little druid. A real gift." Kelebek smiled at this as the shaman turned away to settle down for the night.
Soon the calm evening was filled with the quiet breathing of her new-found companions. The stars were out and she felt restless. She ached to be on the move, but couldn't bring herself to move from the campsite. Such as it is, when finding friends, she thought. Loyalty always holding you in place when you'd rather just run. She brooded into the dying firelight until she finally succumbed to a trance-like slumber.
Departure in the morning came after a light breakfast of what was left of the berries. The Draenei both gave Aeornoss a few reassuring strokes, and began to speak their goodbyes. Saz had called her brilliantly blue dragonhawk back from his hunting, while Kalli's white gryphon laid himself down near the edge of the wood line. He was playing with a dead squirrel that he had caught but minutes before, boredly awaiting his master's beckon.
"I hope that we cross paths again, Kelebek." Saz said seriously. The next statement was said with a smile. "I thank you again for your brilliant handy work on my gear."
"It was the least I could do after you helped my friend. I'm not sure what I would have done with him."
"He would have mended on his own, just much slower."
Kelebek took the priest's hands in her own. "Thanks again Kalli, for your herbs and tending."
Understanding the tone and look on Kelebek's face, Kalli smiled and squeezed her hands in acknowledgment.
With their goodbyes said, Saz and Kalli climbed into the saddles that sat upon their faithful mounts. With a wave the two were off, disappearing into the skies of the south.
The druid turned to the stone drake, "Are you ready to head out as well?"
"Ready when you are, little ghost."
She took a final look around the campsite, making sure nothing was left behind. She had been thorough, as always. "Let's go then." She climbed onto Aeornoss's back and once again they took to the skies.
By midday they saw the sun shining on the leaves of Teldrassil.
Next Chapter: Darnassus - The Arrival