((Continued from The Search. If you haven't read The Search, it might be a good idea, as much of the plot might not make much sense otherwise.))
... a week had passed Edit
For a week, Nouala had been waiting for an answer from General Shandris Feathermoon. So far all she had heard were rumors, that the Naga in Feralas were launching a series of attacks, that may have been what kept then General from responding. She was sitting in the small inn in Stormwind Park talking to Blueleaff.
Nouala sighed; "I wish Feathermoon would send word soon."
Blueleaff stood up and smiled at Nouala; "Okay my dear, we are going to go to Ashenvale. I need to pick up some things for our long journey."
"I belive my dear, that the general should see you. Where is your armor located my dear?"
"I slept at Elizabetha's, I left it there." answered Nouala.
"Go get it my dear, I shall wait for you by the tram." said Blueleaff.
"Yes, I should leave a note for her as well, Richeron can read it to her." agreed Nouala, "I will not be long."
After Nouala had gathered up her armor and weapons from the guestroom at Elizabetha and Richerons house, she wrote a note to Elizabetha, explaining her departure. After meeting up with Blueleaff at the Deeprun Tram, the two made their way by Ironforge to Menethil Harbor, and from there by ferry to Auberdine.
Checking in at the Ravenwind family house in Auberdine confirmed, that Nouala's mother had not returned. Though she was not really surprised by this, Nouala's hopes sank a little. Could her mother really have ... killed? The empty house gave no answers, so after a short stop for supplies at Blueleaffs home in Ashenvale they continued south to Feralas.
Immediately on arriving at Feathermoon Stronghold, Nouala and Blueleaff were escorted to see General Feathermoon, apparently, they had been expected. Their audience with Shandris Feathermoon confirmed Noualas fears. One of the Sentinels sent to scout the Ruins of Ravenwind had not returned. A search party had been sent for her, they had recently returned with her corpse. As Nouala and Blueleaff seemed to know something about this, Feathermoon, still busy with fighting the Naga, asked them to investigate the matter and report their findings to her.
When they were outside, Blueleaff let out a deep sigh; "So it is up to us to investgate?"
Nouala nodded "Yes, as you heard, she does not have enough Sentinels to fight the Naga and investigate this at the same time."
"As she said, one of the bodies is laid out at the graveyard, we should have a look."
Blueleaff looked back at Shandris, only slowly turning to face Nouala. "After you..."
Blueleaff closed her eyes, a tear running down her cheek.
"Is something wrong Blueleaff?"
"No ... no, I'm fine." said Blueleaff slowly. "Just mentioned miss Halcha is all."
"I would prefer not to talk about it..." said Blueleaff.
"You do not have to, tell me when and if you feel like it." said Nouala softly.
"She's dead" said Blueleaff sadly, "And those flashbacks I have, she is in them."
Blueleaff was clearly very upset by the memory, Nouala hugged her, trying to give her friend some comfort. After a few moments, Blueleaff seemed to relax, and smiled weakly at Nouala as she released her from the hug. "Let us continue."
In the graveyard, a shroud was covering the remains of the dead Sentinel. Nouala knelt down, "I really really, really do not want to do this ...". She carefully moved the shroud aside, revealing the mangled corpse of the Sentinel. It was barely recognizable as Kaldorei.
Nouala gasped and turned her head, chest heaving for a long while before she finally turned her eyes to the macabre sight. Not even her training as a hunter prepared her for this. Though she had seen both animals and people in semi-eaten states, this was ... worse. She felt Blueleaffs hand weighing down on her shoulder, Blueleaff resting her weight on it, shaking.
"That is ... horrible." said Nouala, replacing the shroud, "I think we have seen enough."
"I once saw a Stormwind Guard, partly eaten by Murlocks, this is ... worse." Nouala continued, "How could anyone do something like this? And willingly?"
Blueleaff's voice was barely audible, "Harpies... Harpies would..." She gripped Noualas shoulderpads tightly.
Nouala stood up quickly and turned to embrace her friend.
"I'm sorry if I am causing you difficulty..." whispered Blueleaff.
Nouala shook her head, dismissing the comment, "You are my friend, and you are troubled. Tell me. Let me help."
Blueleaff gripped Nouala strongly, shaking and clearly very frightened and upset as she began her tale.
"We...we were sent to..to a harpy encampment."
"But there were only twelve of us and..."
Blueleaff started to cry, pressing her face into Noualas shoulderpad, "There were..were so many..."
Nouala held Blueleaff close for a while, stroking her hair gently, trying to bring her some comfort. It was some time later when Blueleaff raised her head and said, "Come..we..we should continue, this is important."
"Take it easy Blueleaff. You are important as well."
Blueleaff sniffed, seeming a little calmer, "This is more imortant..."
"There is nothing more important than friendship and love Blueleaff. They are what makes life worth living." said Nouala, still holding Blueleaff.
"I know." said Blueleaff, smiling weakly.
"I love you Blueleaff, as a friend. Please let me know if I can help."
"I love you too Nouala, in the same way. But I'll be fine, honest..." said Blueleaff, smiling a little as she got up.
Nouala smiled, giving Blueleaff a hand, pulling her up, "Are you up for a little sailing trip? To see what we can find in the Ruins of Ravenwind?"
Blueleaff nodded, "Yes, I am ready."
Scouting Ravenwind Edit
On the boat to the mainland, Nouala leaned on the railing and smiled. "I always enjoy this trip, it is easy to forget that the islands are overrun by Aszhara's spawn."
Blueleaff nodded, "I'm afraid I do not know Feralas too well."
"I do not know it that well eighter, but I can find my way to my family's old home." said Nouala.
After a long ride north, past the Twin Colossals they arrived at the ruins of Noualas ancestral home.
"This is it." said Nouala, "What's left of it."
"Amazing!" said Blueleaff, "These lands must have been Kaldorei..."
"They were", said Nouala, "My family oversaw this place once."
"Let us proceed carefully, no knowing what might have made its home here in our absence."
They did not get far towards the ruins before they were attacked by the bears in the area. After killing the second bear Nouala said, "Something is not right here, those beasts should not attack us, certainly not a druid like yourself."
"Something is scaring them." agreed Blueleaff, "Something is amiss here, perhaps the temple will hold our answers." Blueleaff pointed towards the ruined temple.
Approaching the temple carefully, they saw the new inhabitants of Ravenwind, Harpies.
"Vile Witch!" Blueleaff shouted in anger and charged without warning towards the Harpies.
Nouala blinked and joined her friend in her charge, "Andu-falah-dor! For Elune, Nature and The Light!"
Blueleaffs maddened charge had led them right into the midst of one of the largest harpy nests. Blueleaff looked around and raised her hammer, "The bear spirit give us strength!"
The Harpies came on them in a mad rush. Nouala looked around concerned, and her eyes briefly flashed yellow. Suddenly, her face lost its tension, and she charged the screeching harpies. One by one her Warblade struck the harpies from the air while Blueleaff pounded them with her hammer. One of the harpies struck Blueleaff soundly, and she staggered. The next moment the harpys wings were sheared off by Noualas Warblade. A swift follow-up strike ended its life.
Nouala panted, turning in a circle with her Warblade ready. Seeing no enemies, her eyes slowly returned to their normal white hue, and she relaxed. Blueleaff was leaning against a pillar, looking at herself covered in her own and harpy blood.
Nouala rushed to Blueleaffs side and started bandaging her wounds. "Sorry about that, I hope I did not scare you."
"It, it's ok..." said Blueleaff, "Only a little."
"The world was so simple Blueleaff, everything was white. There was only me and the ememy."
"I didn't expect you to do that." said Blueleaff.
Blueleaff looked around, "Look! There's a monolith, perhaps that may hold some answers."
"It might, let us see."
They fought their way towards the Monolith. Suddenly Blueleaff was grazed by a lightning bolt from one of the Harpies and sent flying backwards. Nouala finished the offending harpy with an crossbow bolt to the throat, and turned to her friend.
Nouala examined Blueleaff. She took out her medical kit, and did what she could for Blueleaffs lightning burns. Satisfied the injury was not fatal, she lifted her friend in her arms. "We need to get you to a real bed."
Nouala placed Blueleaff gently in front of her on her Nightsaber and rode swiftly to the safety of the docks. She eased Blueleaff to the ground, and poured a healing potion down her throat.
"Thank you." said Blueleaff, "I have... been a burden to you on this little trip..."
"No, you have not!" said Nouala. "The most important thing now is to get you to a real bed so I can treat you properly."
"I am really sorry..." whispered Blueleaff.
"Do not be." said Nouala warmly, carrying her friend aboard the boat to the stronghold.
When they arrived at the stronghold, Nouala carried Blueleaff to the inn and places her on the nearest bed. She cleaned Blueleaffs wounds and took out a sharp needle and sewed the more serious cuts closed.
Blueleaff looked at Nouala with admiration, "Glad to have such a great doctor...", she smiled.
"You gave me quite a scare there. Do not do that again."
"I'm sorry." said Blueleaff.
"No, it was not your fault." said Nouala, drawing a deep breath, "I was talking silly, I was so scared. I could not do much where you fell, and then I took you to safety, and you got weaker and weaker and ..."
"We all have to die some day." said Blueleaff, hugging Nouala, "But me and you both have a long time before that day comes"
Nouala broke down in tears.
"Please dont cry." said Blueleaff, "Tell me why you cry my dear."
"I do not want." Nouala sniffled, "to lose more people I ... care for."
Nouala slowly stopped crying. "Blueleaff?"
"Could you ... would you ... hold me until I fall asleep?"
Blueleaff smiled "Of course I will my dear."
Scouting Again Edit
The next day Nouala and Blueleaff traveled back to the Ruins of Ravenwind. The harpies were strangely absent. As they carefully made their way towards the ruins Noualas Frostsaber Kirfalah started sniffing the air repeatedly. Blueleaff transformed into a bear and could smell it - blood.
Nouala stood for a while, concentrating. "I just tried using my eagle eye to scout ahead. I know what happened to most of the harpies."
"They were mutilated weren't they?" asked Blueleaff, expecting the answer.
"Remember that dead Sentinel we saw yesterday?" asked Nouala.
"I thought so," Blueleaff nodded, "I could sense a disturbance..."
Moving carefully, they found the corpse of a harpy and knelt to examine it.
"Those claw marks on her." said Nouala, kneeling over the corpse. "I am sure they were made by a great cat, much bigger than Kirfalah."
"Much bigger, perhaps even larger than a Nightsaber..." nodded Blueleaff.
"We believe this is the work of a giant cat? Perhaps the trees can solve some of our queries." Blueleaff found the eldest looking tree in the vicinity. She placed her hands on it and seemed to relax. "Old, great being of nature. I need your aid to help in serving all that nature loves..." she began.
Nouala could hear nothing, but Blueleaff nodded as if deep in converstation with the tree. After a while, she slowly removed her hands from the old tree and bowed her head to it respectfully.
"It was a large cat." Blueleaff said. "With a strange gem in the collar, it just killed everything in its path, almost in a maddened blood rage." She sighed. "No longer connected to nature."
Nouala fell to her knees, her worst fears confirmed.
"I'm sorry Nouala." said Blueleaff, taking Noualas hand. "The tree tells me, that the cat killed the Sentinel too... and it is in the hills to the west and grows stronger with each victim." Blueleaff paused briefly, "And i can't feel those killed become one with nature."
"We have to tell Feathermoon." said Nouala after a while, slowly standing up.
As they mounted up, a great roar rang out across the ruins.
"We must leave!" said Nouala, startled, "Speed is what matters now."
When they returned to the stronghold, they made a report to Shandris Feathermoon. It was decided, that they would leave the next evening with some of Feathermoons finest Sentinels and put an end to the threat of the great cat. If Nouala's mother could be talked to reason, that was prefferable, but the threat of the cat needed to be ended.
The Final Battle Edit
The next evening Nouala and Blueleaff put on their strongest armor and headed for the Ruins of Ravenwind. The Feathermoon Sentinels were already waiting for them there. As they reached the northern side of the western collosal, they turned and headed towards the mountains ringing the coast.
As the days before, the panicked animals of Feralas attacked them on sight. Killing the frightened animals was a strain on Blueleaffs druid sensibilities. Just as they neared the advance camp where they were to meet the Sentinels, the roar of the great cat thundered angrily through the night air, it was very close.
Blueleaff drew her hammer, looking to Nouala for her cue.
Nouala leaped from her Nightsaber, Blueleaff following her cue almost immediately.
"Onwards! We can't let the Sentinels fight her alone!" shouted Nouala and ran towards the advance camp.
The scene at the camp was chaotic. Though prepared for an attack, the Sentinels seemed to have been surprised by the great cat.
Nouala stopped for a second, shocked by the sheer size of the cat. "Sweet Elune!" she said, "How do we fight something this big?"
Blueleaff took a deep breath as she looked at the huge cat. "I dont know my dear perhaps...". She closed her eyes and concentrated raising her hands above her head.
The cat was growling, stalking around the group of Kaldorei, preparing to attack.
Nouala caught the eye of the cat, "Mother ... please stop this. It doesn't have to be like this."
Blueleaff kept her focus, as dark clouds formed over the cat.
The cat snarled, baring its huge incisors at Nouala and Blueleaff.
"Mother ... Please..."
The cat tensed its rear legs, getting ready to jump as the Sentinels closed in around it, waiting to see what would happen.
Blueleaff held her stormcloud ready over the cat, "We can help you... Just allow us to..."
"The gem is doing this, not you." said Nouala.
The cat made a strange coughing sound, after a while, Nouala realized it was laughing.
Then the cat spoke, with a coldly amused female voice, "Annnd what if I likkke Itt?"
Blueleaff took a slow breath, "Then you are not a true druid..."
The cat growled with insane rage as it pounced directly at Nouala, "Diiie! And feeeed myy powerrr!"
Blueleaff let lightning pour forth from her gathered storm to strike the cat as Nouala made a desperate leap sideways.
The cat, hit by Blueleaff's lightning, barely missed the leaping Nouala and thundered into the cliffside, shaking the ground violently.
Nouala managed to keep her footing though Blueleaff and most of the Sentinels fell to the ground, shocked by the unexpected tremor.
The cat shook its great head, clearing it for another charge.
"Blueleaff! Get up! It's aiming for you!" shouted Nouala, readying her Warblade for a strike.
Blueleaff picked herself up and groaning, turned into a bear just as the cat pounced at her.
Nouala swung her blade and scored a hit on the cats passing flank. The cat, distracted by the pain of the strike missed Blueleaff by inches, its momentum carrying it past the druid.
Blueleaff seized the chance and leapt onto the back of the great cat, clawing and biting at the neck of the cat as Nouala closed the distance and slashed at the cat again while crying.
Blueleaff bit the cat in the neck, and as the hot blood spurted from the wound, the cat bucked and twisted, trying to shake Blueleaff of its back.
Nouala scored a hit to the forelegs of the cat as Blueleaff was thrown clear, landing on the ground with a grunt of pain.
As the Sentinels joined the attack on the legs of the cat Blueleaff spat the cats blood out of her mouth. "I'm fine." she said.
The cat had enough and tried to run, but the wounds to its legs and throat slowed it down. The Sentinels forming a line before it, blocking its way of retreat.
Nouala positioned herself between the prone Blueleaff and swung at the hind legs of the cat. Suddenly, a strange flash came from the neck of the cat, and one of the nearest Sentinels collapsed with a soft sigh.
"What?" exclaimed Nouala, momentarily distracted as Blueleaff joined the attack on the rear of the cat.
The wound on the cat's neck closed over, as it kicked its rear leg towards Nouala, taking advantage of her momentary distraction.
Blueleaff was faster, and swiftly pushed Nouala out of the way, taking the hit herself. She fell to the ground, panting for breath.
Nouala's eyes flashed a brief yellow as another flash came from the front of the cat, and another Sentinel fell to the ground.
"Andu-falah-dor! For Elune, Nature and The Light!" yelled Nouala, her Warblade striking and slashing as an extension of her arm, severing tendons and slashing muscles with eerie presicion.
Just as Blueleaff was rising to her feet the cat swept out with its good leg. Nouala and Blueleaff felt their legs swept from under them and fell to the ground. Only the Sentinels in front of it prevented it from turning to bite them.
Nouala shook her head as she slowly rose, offering Blueleaff a hand as she did so.
"Enough of this!" yelled Blueleaff and summoned roots to bind the cat. As the roots formed, Blueleaff panted, the effort of holding the cat showing on her face.
The Sentinels rallied, sensing this was their chance and struck in unison with Nouala, striking at the exposed throat of the beast.
Just as her blade slashed open the throat of the cat, a violent shake of its head hit her and sent her flying into the hillside. "Ouch!"
Blueleaff lost her concentration, and the roots holding the cat vanished as she looked wide-eyed from Nouala to the cat and back. The cat was spasming violently, already dead, but not willing to accept the fact. Blueleaff readied her hammer, preparing to end the suffering of the cat. Just as her hammer crushed the cats skull she felt its teeth in her leg and screamed in pain.
The cat slowly fell to the ground, the light in its eyed faded. It was finally dead.
The Gem Edit
Blueleaff threw her hammer to the ground, running towards Nouala. "Can you hear me?"
Nouala was bleeding heavily from a wound to her stomach. "Blueleaff? Did we win?" she asked through clenched teeth.
Blueleaff held her hands to the wound, applying pressure. "You could say that dear."
"I know my dear, don't worry." said Blueleaff, her hands glowing with a healthy, natural energy as she used her druidic powers to heal Nouala.
"I have to destroy the gem." said Nouala, as the wound closed.
The cat, lying on the ground slowly grew smaller, until a Kaldorei female was lying in its place.
The Sentinels came over, helping Nouala and Blueleaff sit up.
"We still need to destroy that gem..." said Blueleaff.
The Sentinel commmander held out the gem, "This one?"
"Yes, that one." Nouala nodded, "Please place it on the ground. And step back."
"Your hammer and my Warblade Blueleaff?"
Blueleaff nodded and picked up her hammer where it lay, raising it for a hard strike as Nouala readied her Warblade. Nouala noticed the small stream of blood runnning down Blueleaffs leg.
Blueleaff nodded, "The cat bit me before I put an end to her."
Nouala lowered her blade. "Come over here, the gem can wait."
As Nouala bandaged Blueleaffs leg, the Shadow Gem lay in the grass, dull and black, seeming like any innocent gemstone.
"Shall we deal with that gem now?" asked Nouala, picking up her Warblade.
Blueleaff nodded and raised her hammer again.
"On three." said Nouala.
Nouala and Blueleaff moved in perfect unison, their blows striking the gem, shattering it to a fine powder.
"That was a little dissapointing." said Nouala. "If this had been a bards tale, there would have at least been an explosion or something."
Blueleaff smiled, throwing her hammer to the ground.
Nouala dropped her blade and enfolded Blueleaff in a victory hug, hopping up and down. "We did it!"
Blueleaff smiled, also hopping in place. "We sure did." She tried to put herself between Nouala and the body of her mother, trying to avoid looking at the dead Kaldorei, not wanting Nouala to see.
Nouala followed Blueleaffs glance and stopped hopping.
"It was not really my mother anymore was it?" said Nouala, almost hopefully.
Blueleaffs smile faded. "I do not believe so. if it was, she wouldn't have tried to bite me."
Blueleaff looked at the two dead Sentinels. "We should get the Sentinels back to the Feathermoon Stronghold."
The Sentinel commander shook her head. "Leave our sisters remains to us. You go on ahead and report to General Feathermoon."
"Nouala? Do you want us to bury your mother?"
"We should, this was not her fault, it was that gem."
Blueleaff walked over to the corpse of Nouala's mother and laid her out peacefully, closing her eyes. "Want to say any words my dear?"
"She ... she was my mother." began Nouala slowly.
"She did not agree with many of my choices."
"But last I spoke with her, she said she was proud of me."
"She did not deserve this end."
Nouala fell to her knees, praying, Blueleaff swiftly joined her.
"Mother Moon, please forgive her and take her to your heavens as a star."
Nouala bowed her head looking first at her mother's body, then back up at the sky.
"May you be one with nature again sister." Blueleaff added her own prayer to Nouala's.
Blueleaff closed her eyes as her powers wrapped the body in small thin roots, exhaling slowly as the body was pulled into the ground by the roots.
"Be at peace mother."
Nouala and Blueleaff made their way back to Feathermoon Stronghold, reporting everything that had happened to Shandris Feathermoon before they went to the inn. Nouala paused by the mailbox, carefully writing a letter, sealing it and placing it in the mailbox.
"Who are you writing to, if I may ask?" asked Blueleaff.
"Elizabetha of course, she wanted to know what has happened."
"Oh yes, of course." said Blueleaff, smiling.
Blueleaff laughed as she looked into a box she had recieved in the mail. "Oh my. It seems that Slyvina sent me the wrong bag..." She held up a fine dress robe for Nouala to see.
"Maybe not." said Nouala, looking into her own backpack as she smiled, "We should be celebrating, I think something festive would be appropriate."
"Nouala saved Feralas day?" asked Blueleaff lightly, a playful glint in her eye.
Nouala blushed, shaking her head. "Nouala and Blueleaff saved untold innocents from a horrible fate day."
Blueleaff chuckled, "Mainly Nouala, being the greatest fighter in the world."
"No I'm not." said Nouala, blushing again.
"Well my dear, I am really proud of you." said Blueleaff. "You did something a lot of people couldn't do."
"So when will we be heading back my dear?" asked Blueleaff.
Blueleaff nodded, smiling "It would be nice to see Elizabetha again and tell her how much of a hero you were."
Nouala blushed, "And how you pushed me out of the way of that cat."
"She must be anxious to hear from us, even though I did send her letters."
"Some story we have to tell her."
"Like the stories we told when we were small. Never thought I'd be in one."
"Neither did I." Blueleaff giggled, "The sidekick that always gets into trouble."
Nouala shook her head, "You got me out of a lot of trouble."
They stayed the night in Feathermoon Stronghold. Nouala pained by her stomach wound, and Blueleaff nursing a bruised rib. Then they set out for Stormwind...
Nouala 17:30, 10 April 2007 (BST)