Cold and wet, she finally arrived at the little house belonging to Mandy and Jimmy Bremsworth. Snow covered the little stoop and candle light flickered through the frost tinted windows. Kelebek knocked on the heavy door with three quick, light raps.
It was Jimmy who answered the door. The sleeves of his plaid, dark green shirt were rolled up to his elbows, his dark hair was slicked back. He grunted a greeting and gestured the druid in with one of his big hands, motioning her over to the kitchen area where Mandy was working the giant black pot that sat over the fire.
Mandy's russet hair was piled into a bun at the crown of her head, nearly looking brown from the sweat that poured from the woman's skin and from the house's poor lighting. She looked up from the pot, wiped her face on a cloth, and smiled at the druid. "Kelebek love, I'm glad you've gotten my message. Come sit a bit by the fire, you look chilled."
The druid did as she was told and took occupancy of a chair near the fire. It was all she could do not to physically purr as she stretched out her frozen feet to the hearth. "What news, Mandy? Who is this Natalie that sent me this message?"
"I have news and gossip plenty for you, which we'll get to in time. As for Natalie..." Mandy handed the druid a hot bowl of soup and a lump of hard bread with a bit of wine. "that would be my sister. She's one of the few rare Gilneans that have managed to earn their trust with the elven nobility or what have you around here. I knew that if anyone was to catch scent of any scrap of news that slipped passed Arthur...you remember me big brother the barkeep, don't you? Well, if any bit of gossip slipped passed him and it was important enough, I knew that Natty would find it out quick enough." The Gilnean woman didn't miss the involuntary flinch that Kelebek had at the mention of the bar. "Oh, there's word of that too, but we'll get to that as well in time."
"Wait...word of what?"
"Your pal Dax Grey that is." Another shutter passed through the druid that she was unable to suppress. Kelebek took a heavy swig from her wine glass.
"Don't be gettin' yourself too drunk now, Miss Bek. We have plenty to chat about tonight and you have a long ride ahead of you tomorrow, if I have my facts and notions set straight. Can't have you piss drunk, too much to talk about for you not to remember anything. Give me just a moment to finish boiling these leathers and we can get on with it."
She sat quietly, finishing her meal as Mandy fussed with the leathers in her pot. When she had consumed everything that had been handed to her, the druid washed up her wooden bowl in the little basin that was kept in the kitchen, dried it with a rough towel, and placed it back into the cupboard that held similar utensils. By the time she was finished with the minor chore, Mandy was getting ready to pull her leathers from the pot. "Bek, be a dear and fetch Jimmy, will you? We need to get this leather molded before it cools too much."
Once Jimmy had been fetched the three of them set to work on stretching and setting the leather pieces, soon to be leather armor. Quickly and silently they worked the leather, turning the pieces into bracers, elbow pads, and leg guards...simple items that could later be stitched into larger sets of gear for extra protection. For an hour they worked together with nothing but the sound of tools working and the fire crackling. Finally Mandy declared their work to be finished and set her husband to the task of placing the various pieces onto pegs and shelves that would help them dry properly while ensuring that the leathers kept their shape.
Visibly exhausted, Mandy mopped her face with a soft cloth and pushed the wild strands of hair from her face with a sigh. Once again she motioned Kelebek to a seat by the fire, fetched a warm glass of wine for the both of them, and settled into the other chair that was set by the hearth. Together they sat for a bit watching the flames dance over the logs as they sipped their beverages and relaxed their tired muscles. Several moments passed in quiet relaxation, but then Kelebek's anxiousness got the best of her.
"So what was it that you wanted to see me about? The letter said that you were worried about me."
Mandy sipped a bit more wine before replying. "Mmm, right. Well, you were in such a state when you left that I wanted to see you with my own eyes before you took off. You seemed a bit recovered from your ordeal, which is good. I couldn't have let you gone off to some far fetched region in the state that you were in."
"What makes you think you could have stopped me from leaving?"
"I would have had Jimmy rope you in or some such. Don't give me such a look. You may have not been under my employment long, Miss Kelebek, but you've already become dear to Jimmy and me. Not to mention Arthur feels awful about that whole Dax thing." Again the druid flinched ever so slightly. "Speaking of, have you heard the news?"
"Ol' Daxy was found bled out in his cell shortly after you'd left town."
The color drained from the druid's face. "I'm not suspected, am I?"
"Oh, no love. He was green from the poisons and the deed had obviously been done with a rather nasty dagger." Mandy chuckled softly to herself and smiled at the druid over her wine glass. "From the sounds of it you had done a rather bang up job on Daxy's manhood though. Between you and this mystery assassin, Dax looked like one of those mummy creatures you hear about down in Uldum. He was nothing but a mass of bandages when they put him in a crate and tossed him into his grave. Needless to say, you haven't anything more to fear from Dax Grey, love. I don't think even the Dark Lady would be claiming him for her army of undead."
She set her now empty wine glass down on the table that sat between her and the druid, and turned her full attention to Kelebek. "Now, I've been hearing tales of you poking about for information on your family. What exactly is this all about? Why do you think that my sister is sending you off on some wild chase to find some old hag in the hills of Feralas?"
Kelebek then proceeded to tell Mandy what she had told few others. She retold Mandy about her memory loss, the violent dreams that seemed to always have too little detail, how she often woke up with the name 'Kiya' on her lips but couldn't recall who that was. "I don't remember what happened or even why it happened. I can't bring up the names of my family or images of their faces from my memory. I try and I try, but nothing ever appears. I was found by the druid Taloris. I was wandering in the woods not far from a decimated village in the northern parts of the Eastern Kingdoms as an older child, the side of my head gashed open and I had no memory of who or where I was. I want to find out what happened to that village because no one really knows, or won't say anything if they do know. I need to find out if any of my family made it out. I need to know who they were. I need to know who I am." The druid was trying hard not to give into her frustrations, so she took another swig of her wine.
The Gilnean women took everything the druid said as a fact and statement. She offered no pity, but instead wished to offer any help she could. "What is it that you've discovered so far?"
Another sip of wine before she responded. "Not much I'm afraid. I'm not even certain of the name of the village. It was far to small to show up on any map that is printed to the masses, so all I have to go by is the location and 'that one little village that was mysteriously razed for unknown reasons.' If folks do know what happened there, they pretend not to."
Several moments passed as the women sat in silence once more. The fire was burning down to embers and Jimmy could be heard snoring in some corner of the house. "Tell me, this Taloris...he raised you, yes?"
"He found you near the village and raised you. Does he know nothing of what happened?"
"He knows of the event surrounding the demise of my village, but he doesn't know the details of what happens...or at least he won't speak of them. He claims to have not known my family, which really doesn't surprise me any. Tal isn't a creature of socialization. He prefers to stay to the woods, to teach his rare student, and to perhaps join in the occasional war if he feels that it suits his needs or beliefs. He has said that the night that village was burned, the sky had turned a violent shade of purple. A deafening roar was all that could be heard, even from the woods where he made his den. He remembers waking up in the middle of the forest to the cry of a child...my cry. The din caused by the sound of whatever attacked that village was so great that it caused him to fall to the ground where he stood. He recalled awakening to the air smelling of sulfur, the surrounding skies were green with the fel fires that burned what was remaining of my village. He took me to the nearest shore, found us a passage to Kalimdor, and we've lived here since. He refuses to speak about any other detail that he may know of the event, so I am left to find the clues on my own."
"Demons in the Eastern Kingdoms? I have heard of the scourge and of course the horror stories of my people, but never of demons!" Mandy got up from her seat and topped both of the glasses off with more wine.
"I really wouldn't know. I haven't been back to the Eastern Kingdoms since I was a kitten. I know of the demons on Kalimdor plenty, even heard tale of the old wars on Draenor, but my history lessons of the Eastern Kingdoms are lacking."
Mandy set her wine cup down and walked over to a little bookshelf set under a rickety set of stairs. By the dim light she managed to pick out a small but thick volume. "Her lass, you can borrow this for a bit." She handed the book over to the druid.
"A History of Azeroth's People and Politics."
"Aye. That details just about every war Azeroth has seen and the politics of her people. You may not see every little demon invasion listed in there, but it will at least give you a good idea of the cultures you may come across. From the sounds of it you'll be traveling a might bit, so there may be some handy knowledge in that book for you."
Kelebek looked tiredly at Mandy and then tucked the book into one of the many pockets hidden on her gear. "Thank you, I'll read it as soon as I can."
"No matter love. Now..." The Gilnean women walked over to the window and looked outside. "from the sounds of it we'll be getting a bit of snow for the next few days. Think your drake friend will be able to fly through this?" She turned back to the druid as she asked this. "Oh, don't look so surprised that I know about it. The whole city has been a buzz about it since you two came swooping into the temple."
"Well, yes. I suppose he should be able to fly through this weather just fine. He is a stone drake after all."
"A stone drake of all things. I didn't think their kind came out of Deepholm..." Mandy began to dig through a chest that had been pushed up against a wall. "Well, I don't suspect the weather will get much better until you're south of Ashenvale. Take this jacket and cloak. Both are fur, both seem a bit warmer than anything I've seen you wear so far." The druid began to protest. "I won't hear of it. I have finer things to wear if I have to, and I can always make new things. You have to make haste and may not have time to hunt and make anything warm for yourself. Do you have maps?" Kelebek admitted that she didn't. "Well then..." Mandy rooted through another, smaller chest. "here's a map of Kalimdor, another of the Eastern Kingdoms. If for some odd reason you find yourself in the cold continent of Northrend, there is a general map in that book of yours. Most of the pubs have them mounted on a wall somewhere anyways if you need something in more detail. If you end up in that Pandaria land though, I'm afraid you're on your own. Most folk still don't have maps of that place, let alone manage to find their ways there in the first place."
Kelebek sat in her chair, arms now full of supplies. Quietly she stammered thank yous as Mandy continued to add to the pile.
"Have you a satchel? Of course you do, back in your lodging I suppose. Well here, have a smaller one. I hope it fits into your usual pack. There's some bread in this pocket, a spare water skin in this pocket, a few spare herbs here, and you can fit a few more items in this compartment if need be. I even tossed a few extra bandages in there, never know when you may need those." She pushed a few more stray locks out of her face as she tried to think of what else she could hand to the druid. "What else...what else..."
Kelebek stood up and gently placed everything onto her seat so that she could grab the other woman by the arms. "This is plenty. Thank you. For everything."
"Are you sure it's enough?" The Gilnean looked worried and tired, if not a bit delirious.
"It's more than plenty. It's more than I could have ever asked for, thank you."
Mandy then did something that Kelebek hadn't expected her to. She hugged the druid. Akwardly, Kelebek returned the embrace.
"Okay then, let's get you suited up and off. You need to be getting back and packing yet, aye?"
The druid gave a little smile and nodded in agreement. She slid on the light brown fur coat (the fur side was in, making the knee length coat incredible soft as well as warm), tied the matching light brown cloak around her neck, slung the satchel of goods over one shoulder, and gathered up the maps. Finally she was ready to head out into the night. Kelebek said a few more thank yous, Mandy kissed the druid's cheeks in farewell, and the white-haired night elf found herself back out in the night of cold and snow.
It was well after midnight by the time Kelebek made it back to her quarters. While the clothing that Mandy had given to her helped immensely, she still found herself to be shivering from the snow melt that had made its way down her neck and into her boots. Carefully she set down her staff, maps, and new satchel onto the floor near the door. She then set about the task of lighting a fire and searching for her gloves. Kelebek slid on the dark brown fingerless gloves and set to work getting together her belongings.
She rounded up her story book about the little girl and the well, her spare quills, and whatever parchment she had and placed them into her large satchel. All of her tools were returned to her tooling case, likewise to be placed within her satchel. Spare clothing was folded, save for the dress she wore on the day she first went to visit Tyrande. She decided that she didn't have room to spare for such a fine thing and that it was best left behind. Kelebek set the pretty thing aside as she tucked the rest of her belongings into the satchel: a bone comb, the maps Mandy had sent along with her, the history book, and the little satchel of food and supplies all finally made their way into her bag. Satisfied and beginning to warm up, the druid snapped the buckles closed and set the satchel by the door next to her staff.
Her eyes combed over the room, looking for anything that may have been forgotton. Finding nothing, her eyes once again fell upon her dress. Such a lovely thing to let go to waste, she thought to herself. Perhaps I'll send it off to Mandy. Might not be the right size, but she deserves such a fine thing. Mind made up and belongings packed, the druid settled down into her bed one last time and slept for a while.
Kelebek awoke to the sound of screams and the smell of smoke. Her first instinct was to check her own fireplace, which had appeared to have flickered out during the hours of her slumber. Again more screams arose from outside of her little apartment. The little druid raced to the window, seeing nothing but smoke and snow. She raced to where her things were. Luckily she had fallen asleep with her coat and cloak on, so she only had to slip on her pack and grab her staff. Quickly she wrote a note with instructions on where the dress should end up, pinned it to the fabric, and left her room with a audible click of the door.
Darnassus was in a state of chaos. Citizens were running everywhere in panic, the roofs were of the city were smoldering, and all around the blizzard raged in a torrent of flurries. Kelebek slid her way down to the center of the city where the iconic bank built into a tree once stood. The bear-shaped bank was no longer standing in its rightful place; what was left of the building laid aflame in the water, having broken through the ice and sunk to the bottom of the shallow pond.
In the bank's place stood a large dragon. It looked rather old, with its once onyx-black scales sagging in grey flaps. Blood oozed from its eyes that had been taken out by carefully aimed arrows. Blindly it lashed out at its elven attackers, crushing anyone who wasn't quick enough to dodge the wild swings of claw and tail. Beneath the dragon's feet was a froth of blood, snow, soot, and mangled flesh. As an elven warrior managed to sink his sword into one of the dragon's few soft spots, the beast let out a roar of pain and charged forward, crushing the warrior under its mighty claws and crashing into yet another building. In frustration the creature belched out a large stream of fire, setting several more houses and trees on fire.
Another loud roar was heard coming from this distance. This one though was recognizable. Again the roar came, but it wasn't just a bestial noise; it was someone calling the druid's name. "KELEBEK!!"
The stone drake landed heavily by the temple, one of the few areas large enough in the city for him to safely set himself down. Even from a distance Kelebek could see the blood oozing from the various wounds on the drake's body.
As quickly as the ice allowed her, Kelebek ran to Aeornoss' side. "What happened to you?"
"Dragons. Many...dragons. I was ambushed in the woods by a small one who bragged that an army of corrupted dragons was on its way. They have riders with them. Assassins. We must leave now, Darnassus will fall!"
"We must war..."
"No, we must leave!"
"But what of my friends? I must stay and fight!"
"This isn't your time to fight, little ghost. WE MUST LEAVE NOW!"
Without further question the druid clambered onto the back of the injured drake. Together they rose into the snow filled sky, where the smell of burning flesh and and stench of dragon blood was quickly singed away by the harsh, frosty morning air. Kelebek looked back in time to see a thunder of dragons with their assassin riders do just as Aeornoss predicted.
That was the night Darnassus fell.