Kelebek had been drowsing on Aeornoss' back as they crossed the straight. Now that he was set once more on the ground she found herself to be quite awake.
"For leaves and grasses, wisps and lights, it's beautiful." said the stone drake.
"Yes, I've forgotten how lovely it is."
It was late in the year and already the worst of the summer's heat had past. There was a bit of a nip in the air some mornings and the trees of Darnassus were beginning to reflect the change of the seasons. The once bright hues of violet, pink, and green were slowly fading to reds, oranges, and browns. A gentle sea breeze was rustling the drying leaves, giving the city of trees and ferns a calming soundtrack.
"I must leave you for a bit, little ghost." Aeornoss didn't look at the druid as he said this, but instead kept his eyes on the beauty of the city before him.
Kelebek gave the stone drake a searching look, wondering why he would choose now to leave her side when just days before he had been so keen on observation. In that short amount of time she had also grown used to his calm, stoney presence.
"If you must." The drake made his gravely reply, a sort of grunt that acknowledged his intent and her recognition of it. A few silent moments passed as they pair watched the leaves dance across the grass-covered beach until finally the drake nodded his head.
Without looking at the druid Aeornoss said "I think I'll take my leave now. I hope to see you again soon, little Kelebek, and I wish you luck with your quests." With that said he turned east, away from the bustling harbor of Rut'theran Village which was just a few hundred paces to the west of them, and lumbered away. Once he had wandered a good distance, he turned to look back at the druid. She was once again looking at the trees of the city, seeming to be stuck in a dreamy daze. Reassuring himself that she would be fine - she was a druid of the wilds after all - he exerted a great heft with his wings and once more took to the sky.
She thought she had heard her. The little voice that contained a contagious sort of giggle. A blur in her mind; a girl-child running between the bushes, laughing as the two young girls played hide-and-seek together.
Kelebek snapped out of the vision and blinked with confusion in the dazzling evening light. She was still standing where Aeornoss had left her some time ago, and she was finding that she could barely recollect his farewell.
She shook her head in frustration. What was that? She asked herself. A vision, a memory, a premonition? Who is this child? Perplexed, she shook her head once again to clear the fuzziness that resided there.
With a heavy sigh she turned to look at the harbor. Evening was now setting in with earnest. The last ships of the day to head out to both the mainland and Stormwind were calling out their final calls for boarding, the fishermen of the area were tying up their little boats to various docks and hauling in their daily catches. The little village was beginning to calm down for the night as one by one people either settled into their homes or headed into the city beyond the portal.
Kelebek felt the need to get moving. With movements that were not so fluid, for she was rather unaccustomed to riding a stone drake, she began to walk to the bright portal that led into Darnassus itself.
The city at night was alight with lanterns and wisps. Night Elves and Gilneans alike here wandering about on errands of various sorts; there were folks at the central bank gathering coin for their nightly activities, the devote were dressed in brilliant robes and made their way to the temple, gatherers were bearing their goods to both the trader's and craftsmen wings of the city. Warriors, spiritualists, and common folk all mingled together in a stunning array of hues. There were elves who were pale as a deep sea pearl with their white hair shining, some had hair that contained brilliant hues of pinks, greens, or blues. Some bore tattoos and markings that reflected their calling in life, some sported scars of wars long ago fought, some where but fresh faced novices waiting for their turn at worldly turmoil. The Gilnean refugees were just as varied as their Elven hosts. There were gingers who had the skin tone not unlike alabaster, folks whose skin was the color of a cocoa bean and had jet black hair, and every version of blonde, brunette, and skin tone in between. There were the stocky, the willowy, the tall and the short. Besides the obvious physical difference between the two races, there was one large difference between the unlikely neighbors: the Night Elves tended to be quiet and kept a bit more to themselves, the Gilneans on the other hand were a rowdy, boisterous bunch.
To Kelebek the din caused by the city's inhabitants - both intentional and natural - was nearly unbearable. The motion, the press of the crowds as she passed through the center of the city, the smell of other warm bodies that were not her own caused a ball of panic to settle into the young druid's stomach. She fought hard against the feral urge to shift into her cat form and run. Over and over again she reminded herself that she had a job to do, something that was bigger than herself or her worries. Her resilience held out and she eventually managed to work her way through the worst of the evening crowds.
Lodging. She had to find lodging. Kelebek knew that her stay in Darnassus could last but a night or could go on for many moon cycles. While she had hoped that her time in the city of leaves and moonbeams would be short, Kelebek was realistic. To get the answers and help she sought she would potentially have to stay until after the wintery frosts left northern Kalimdor. The idea made her shudder.
The little druid wandered around the city for a while, despite her anxiety of being around so many people. She wanted to get a feel for where folks mingled, where there may be some peace for her mind when the noise became too much for her mind, and what extended housing may cost her rather small pocket of gold. She soon discovered that many of the Gilnean bunch tended to reside around the Cenarion Enclave, in the northern region of the city. That area of the city had pubs, gambling houses, and curious little shops. Turned off by the loud and forward voices of the Gilneans, not to mention their wolfish smell, she began to wander a bit more south, through the Craftsmen's Terrace. While the area tugged at her heart, there were far too many of the Worgen types mulling about, not to mention the sound of hammers upon anvils would never do her nerves any good.
Through the Warrior's Terrace she wandered, watching the people there practice various forms of combat. Many of the fighting styles were foreign to her: sword play, archery, dagger combat. Kelebek made a mental note to return at a later time and observe the combat styles most foreign to her. In a world where conflict was almost always present you could never be too prepared after all. Finally tugging herself away from the gleam and clash of weaponry, she walked through the Trader's Terrace. Here and there soft verbal exchanges of bartering could be heard, with the occasional raised voice from a Gilnean thinking that he or she was being had by a vendor. Just on the other side of the Trader's Terrace was the Temple of the Moon, a gorgeously imposing building that was the focal point for one of Kelebek's many purposes in the city. Feeling safe in the area and thinking that it was wise to lodge near the temple, she set out to find an inn.
It didn't take her very long to find what she was seeking. Tucked away behind the Trader's Terrace stood a little two story inn. It was quiet and mostly vacant. The woman at the desk appeared to be a kindly soul, one of the older Night Elves, her violet hair tied back into a braid. Her face was beginning to show the signs that the elves no longer had their immortality: her tattoos that may have once been brilliant birds now looked blotchy and faded, crows feet appeared around her eyes and smile lines danced around her mouth as she greeted the druid warmly. Happy to have a guest, the woman showed Kelebek to a little room on the first floor. The druid would have her own door to the outside, a warm bed covered in silk, and meals brought to her if she chose. The room also contained a sort of stove for those overly chilly nights that were all too soon fast approaching the little island. Satisfied with the room, Kelebek thanked the landlady and put down her bags gratefully. It was no cozy hut or den in the woods, but it would serve its purpose well.
"You got her here safe and sound, aye?"
The drake gave a growl of hesitance, then replied "Yes, we got here with little to no issue."
"Good." The woman brushed a stray auburn lock of hair away from her face. "Then we will see what this druid is made of. You may go for now but don't wander far, Aeornoss."
The stone drake shifted uneasily for a moment and then took his leave.
Next Chapter: Darnassus - Leather Bound