After several hours of miserable flying conditions, Kelebek gave herself up to a daze-like open eyed slumber. Her teeth clacked quietly from the shivers that wracked her body, thin sheets of ice clung around her eyes, and trails of frozen mucus streamed from her nose; she no longer noticed any of it, so great was her misery. The druid's gloved hands had long since painfully frozen into the clawed, clutching shape that they had formed when she gripped Aeornoss's neck spike so many hours ago. Part of her knew that it would be more painful to cease holding onto the drake than it would to continue on, though the rest of her conscious no longer cared.
Despite his wounds and the blood-freezing capabilities of the wind, the drake soared on.
Hours turned into half a day, which eventually turned into evening. The druid was subconsciously aware of the drake's flagging strength, but he continued to flap his wings, gliding and feebly trying to keep his altitude. His half-hearted attempts seemed to be in vain though, for with bit of distance they covered, the ground seemed to be growing closer and closer.
Aeornoss and Kelebek had just crossed the northern boarder of Feralas when the drake's remaining energy finally failed him. Together they crashed to the ground; the drake's legs and wings crumpled below him as his weight displaced the soil, which had only been lightly dusted by hard, minute snowflakes. The druid tumbled into a frozen heap not far from her companion's still body, unable and unaware of the fall.
At dusk the clouds finally broke away enough for the sun to shed its dying rays on the woods of Feralas. The wind had ceased its angry howls and gusts, the snow gave up its unrelenting fall. Dying rays of light danced upon the frost-kissed leaves of a forest that rarely saw conditions that caused frozen water to fall from the sky. In the distance a lone bird chirped, angry that a worm it had wanted for dinner was frozen to the ground, thus unsuitable for consumption.
With a groan, Kelebek awoke from her stupor. Her face burned, her whole body ached from stiffness and bruising. Despite the chilly air, she was sweating. Shivers vibrated the little druid's body to her very core, causing violent spasms in her already aching muscles.
She moaned again as she forced her left arm to work. Gingerly she raised her hand up to her head, gently prodding the back of her skull. What she found there was a massive lump, crusty from mud and ice. It also felt slightly damp, which upon observing her hand she discovered blood. Kelebek winced as another violent spasm of fever chills raced through her body, forcing her to fight a wave of nausea. Tears silently streamed down her face from both fright and misery.
After several moments of laying on the ground in a perfectly still fashion, the wave of nausea and chills passed. Weakly the druid called out for Aeornoss.
There was no answer.
Kelebek rolled onto her back with monumental effort, so that she could roll her head, which felt like a hot boulder, towards the drake.
"Aeornoss...?" Again, no response from the stone drake's giant form. She tried to force herself to be heard, but her voice would not emit a sound louder than a cracked, weak whisper. "Aeornoss?!"
She rolled over onto her left side so that she could see the drake properly. He was laying on his right wing, which had been crushed to a seemingly painful angle. His left wing lay draped over his body, covering much of him as if it was a blanket. Three of his legs lay casually sprawled out, while his front right leg was obviously broken. His neck was stretched out before his body, throat covered in mud from where it had slid across the ground. The drake's tail lay curved up at an odd angle, as if he had arched it above his body had he been standing. Over all the stone drake was not fallen into a natural position, nor did it seem that he had tried to correct it since the fall.
Panicked, Kelebek rolled onto her belly, fighting back the chills and the urge to be sick. Somehow she managed to force her arms to work, and slowly pulled her body over to Aeornoss' side. She put her hand on the drake's unbroken forefoot.
"Aeornoss?" Gently she shook the drake's scaly foot. "Aeornoss, wake up. Please wake up." Her voice cracked; still she could not utter more than a whisper. "We crashed Aeornoss, you have to wake up." Still the drake wouldn't move.
The little druid whimpered as a possible realization sunk in. She didn't have long to dwell on the subject though, for a fresh wave of fever coursed through her, hot and fierce. The fever took the druid back into the realm of unconsciousness, where she remained until morning.
The next day came in a severely bright fashion. Sun rays cheerfully burned into Kelebek's eyes, assaulting her tender retinas. Her skin still felt hot and clammy, but the worst of the fever chills seemed to have passed. Groggily she looked around, and slowly the previous night came back to her.
With a start she looked at the drake behind her. Aeornoss still hadn't moved from the position she discovered him in the night before. His usual green and slate colored hide seemed to have adopted a dull grey color.
"No..." Kelebek choked back a sob. A single, thick tear burned its way down the druid's face. "Oh, Aeornoss..."
Silently she grieved for a few moments, and then the rest of the previous day's events came rushing back to her. Instantly she was filled with a sense of panic.
Did they follow me? she wondered. She scanned the skies, looking for any sign of dragons. With senses that were painfully sharp, she did her best to listen to the woods around her. While she didn't hear any threatening noises around her, Kelebek felt a strong, panicky urge to move on.
Hesitation conflicted heavily with her urge to flee. The druid didn't want to simply leave the drake as he was, but he was far too immense for her to do anything for him. In the end she decided that it was probably for the best that he was left to the elements, for he and they were a part of one in the same.
Kelebek laid a gloved hand on the face of the drake. "Elune'Adore, Aeornoss." Elune be with you, Aeornoss.
Regretfully the druid shifted into her cat form, the growth of her fur was made painful by the fever, and began her journey south. After a few hundred paces she looked back on the drake, who seemed to have taken on the shape of a solid stone boulder. She let out a small, catty moan in mourning, then forced her aching muscles into a half lope. Soon the drake was nothing more than a memory on the unmarked road of an unknown quest.
Kelebek continued to move on for many hours, until she could no longer stand the parched feeling in her mouth nor suffer the hot feeling of her flesh. Once again the chills had taken over her body, causing violent spasms beneath her white fur. Her head felt like a delicately boiled egg: fragile, hot, and ready to burst at the faintest touch. Still Kelebek pushed on, trying to find a suitable place to camp so that her body could recover from its illness in moderate safety.
Eventually she stumbled upon a stream, which pooled into a little pond. The water was cool and crisp, freshly fed from the nearby hills which had been laden with show. Gratefully she plunged her catty face into the clear liquid, relishing in the chilly feeling that swept over her wind burned and fever stricken face. Slowly she pulled her head from the water, feeling the streams that left her face quickly heating up to the abnormally warm temperature of her body. Tenderly she shook the droplets of water from her face, then took to the task of sipping the ice cold substance.
She was careful not to consume too much water too fast, for the last thing she wanted was for her stomach to reject a vital substance. Once she felt that she had enough for the time being, she did little other than walk a slight distance from the water's edge and laid down. Sleep quickly took her over.
The sound of water dripping was the first thing the druid heard when she next awoke. She groaned quietly as she tried to lift her weary head from the grass covered stone bed that she found herself on. Startled by the change in sleeping environment, and by the fact that she was now in her night elf form, Kelebek sat up with a jerk. The little cave swayed in her vision, but she refused to let the temporary distortion bother her. Her eyes darted around, quickly resting on the figure sitting opposite of the cave's only source of light: a little campfire.
The troll stood and smiled at the druid. Her long white hair was braided loosely and hung about her shoulders; her green skin was pale from lack of sunlight and wrinkled around her eyes and lips. She was tall and held herself proudly, seemingly unaffected by her apparent age. The troll spread her arms in a friendly gesture and addressed the druid.
"It's about time ya be wakin' up child. I was beginning ta worry that da dream would be holdin' ya for all time." She continued to beam at Kelebek as she clasped her hands together, her greeting finished.
"Where am I? How did I get here?"
"Ya be safe, child. No harm can come to ya when you're wit old Witta. Da where and how is not important here, oh no. It is the why that you should be askin' about."
Kelebek eyed Witta warily. "Why am I here then?"
"Ah, so glad ya asked!" Witta cackled. "Isn't that alwyas the question though? 'Why am I here?' 'Who be I?' 'What be my purpose?' Doesn't matta how old or wise we get, we still be askin' da same questions." Witta's amber colored eyes bore Kelebek's milky white ones with a knowing look. "Ya be here to learn all deese tings and more, child."
"I...I'm afraid I don't follow." Confusion etched itself deeply into the druid's furrowed brow.
"For what are you in the forests of Feralas for, child? What be your purpose for comin' here?"
"I was told I could find someone in the highlands, someone that might have the answers to my questions."
"Mhmm..." Witta crossed her arms and began to slowly walk around the little fire, eyes fixed on the flames as they danced and crackled on the burning timber. "And dose questions...what makes ya tink dat dey can be answered by some hermit woman of da hills?"
"I really don't know. It was a long shot, but it was more of an idea than what I had. It was a chance I had to take, but when you mention it that way, this whole trip seems foolish."
"Foolish why? Because it was a hope on a wing? Because it cost ya your friend's life?" Witta stopped on the opposite side of the fire and looked at Kelebek over the flames, eyebrows high on her face and mouth serious. "It woulda been more foolish for you to stay dere." The troll walked around the fire and over to the druid. "Hope is never foolish, child. Never forget dat. Hope keeps ya good; hope keeps ya sane."
The old woman knelt before Kelebek and placed a warm, callused - yet soft - hand upon the druid's arm. "Aeornoss had a duty to do, and he did what he had to do."
At the mention of the drake's name, Kelebek raised an alarmed eyebrow but said nothing.
"He was a how and holds his own secrets. His whys will be answered when da time becomes ripe, but for now it is enough dat he did not die in vain. You are not dead, no child, far from it." Witta stood and began to pace around the little cave slowly, almost keeping with the steady sound of the unseen dripping water.
Kelebek was still extremely confused. "I still don't understand why I'm here though.
"Ya be here to find answers, are ya not?" The troll's face remained serious as she asked the question.
"Yes, but..." Kelebek's mental breakthrough was apparent on her face as things began to get a bit clearer.
"Ah, now ya be gettin' it."
"You're the crone of the highlands."
The old woman smiled. "Is dat what dey be callin' old Witta deese days..."
A slurry of questions bounced around in the druid's fever-battered mind, each one fighting to be the first uttered from her lips. She took a moment to form her thoughts, then started her inquires.
"How did you know about Aeornoss?"
"I know of many tings."
The troll continued to pace around, face passive but listening as the onslaught of questions began.
"Did you know that I was coming?"
"As I said, I know many tings."
"Did you know that Darnassus would be attacked?"
"And you didn't try to stop it?"
"But hundreds of thousands of people are now dead or injured, Aeornoss is one of them! The rest of my friends could be dead or dying as well! How could you not try and stop it from happening? Why couldn't you warn them?"
"Witta only mettles where people allow her to. Dere may be peace between da Alliance and da Horde for da moment, but da distrust...it runs deepa den da abyss. No, da Alliance would not listen to an old troll like me."
"You wouldn't even try?"
"No, it is not my place to mettle wit the flow of time and destiny."
"So some people are destined to die."
"Oh yes child. Sometimes sorrow paves da way to happiness. It is as necessary as de air."
While Kelebek remained unhappy about the answer, she didn't push the topic further.
"Can you tell me about my family?"
"Is it because you don't know, or because you won't tell me?"
"If I told ya your secrets, ya wouldn't believe me anyways. Ya must find your answers in your own time, in your own way."
"How do I find them?"
"Ya search. Ya ask questions. Ya keep your eyes and ears open."
"That doesn't help me! I don't know where to look. You know the answers, at least tell me where to start looking for them!"
The troll's face became blank and passive. "Careful child, Witta owes you notting. Ya must be careful and not be willing to believe everyting dat you hear, even from old Witta." She crossed her arms again, looked down at the cave's stoney floor, kicked around a little pebble with one of her big toes, then looked back to the druid. "Ya must travel to da Eastern Kingdoms. Travel nort'east from here and find da goblin port city called Rachet. Sneak in by night, 'cause da goblins be known' about ya and dey don't care for ya. Slip onto da ship, it'll take ya to Booty Bay. Slip out of da little city as quickly as possible, 'cause dem goblins, dey talk. Da bruisers of Booty Bay are worse dan da ones in Rachet, so be careful. Head nort' until you find yourself in Elwynn Forest. Poke around in da little villages in dat forest. In time, a mighty warrior will let herself be known to ya. She has some of de answers you seek."
"You say that I shouldn't trust you, yet you're suggesting that I travel half way across the world in the hopes that I'll find some warrior that will give me some answers. Why should I take your advice?"
"Ahhh, now ya be learnin'. Witta gives you a choice: ya take her advice or ya wander until ya find what you're lookin' for by chance. Ask your gut. Always listen to your gut!"
"If I don't know anything though, how can I go with my gut?"
Witta walked over to the druid, touching her forehead with a thick, calloused finger. "Because child, all de answers, dey already be in your head."
Kelebek woke up in the damp grasses next to the pond where she had bedded. Cold, persistent drizzle soaked her white fur. She looked around, confused as to how she had left the cave.
She heard a soft, cackling laugh. It's all in your head, child...
The druid smiled to herself, knowing what and where she was going next. She shook the water from her fur and began her journey once more.