Cult had been reluctant to allow his fiancee Talithe to walk in Elwynn Forests. The nightmares he shared with Fairmoon, Tali's mother, were getting worse, visions of Tali trapped in a sky fortress with no door left them both anxious for her safety. However, her bright eyes and relentless bouncy nature persuaded him that a short walk to Stonecairn Lake would be safe, and alleviate his and Tali's feelings of imprisonment in the stone walls of Stormwind City. A druid, Tali hated being in the smelly human city, cut off from nature.
A cold bright day greeted them at the Lake, the water shining hard on the freezing water. A few murlocs gave them no trouble, their threats reflected back by Cult's swords.
"Hallo!" a voice hailed them, and the couple turned to see Endjinn, another simple troubadour like Cult, waving at them. Cult greeted his friend warmly. The two friends began chatting animatedly, Cult showing off his new gun found recently on a trip in Outland. Tali giggled shyly, and sucked the end of her long purple hair nervously. After having slept for so long in the Dream, she was uncomfortable around most people. She whispered in Cult's ear, suggesting she walked on towards the lakeshore, whilst Cult show off his gun to Endjinn, after all there were plenty of murlocs and young forest bears nearby on which to practice.
She had only gone a few steps, listening to excited male chatter and gun blasts in the distance, when she arrived at the shore. There was seated a female night elf, her aqua hair almost the same colour as the beautiful lake. Her long red robe, embroided in purple, spoke volumes about the night elf's class and standing. Tali, however, was not sorry to be wearing her usual leafy green novice's dress, worn as a symbol of humility and service to nature. She walked over to the elf, and tilted her head in interest at the pile of old books next to the lady.
"What are you doing?" Tali asked the strange night elf.
The strange night elf did not answer at first, and mumbled some words, but Tali persisted, blinking her pale golden eyes in confusion. The elf started to explain that she was reading some books which belonged to her "mistress".
"Dont you know where books come from!?" exclaimed Tali in surprise! "From trees! from murdered trees!" She reached out for a book. "Here let me touch it, let me mend it." Tali touched the book and sensed the mother tree that had given its life, she stood up in fright, the book in her hand.
"You've hurt it!" Tali began stroking the book with her muddy hand, some twigs and blossom fell from her messy hair into the open book.
The Elf glared up at Tali with glittering black eyes. Through gritted teeth, she tried to calmly request Tali put the book back. Tali, however, was quite carried away with the feelings she was sensing from the paper, and was overcome with a need to mend the wounded 'tree'.
"Here," Tali offered the strange elf a leaf from the nearby bush. "We can swap. You read this leaf, and I will mend the book".
"Maybe leaves are interesting but I find these more informative," glared the elf lady, reaching for her book.
Tali began wading out into the lake with the book "Here, tree, you need watering!"
The stranger growled angrily in the back of her throat. With one swift movement she reached out her grasp to Tali and her fingers settled tightly around Tali's neck. She hauled Tali two stumbling steps back to shore. Tali dropped the book in fright, it tumbled in the wet mud at the lake's edge, her golden eyes blazed in fright.
"Cult!" she called in a strangled voice, yelling for her lifemate. She tried to peel the fingers from her neck, she kicked out with her bare feet. One hand managed to get a grip on the stranger's hair and she pulled hard, but the stranger kept her as still as a rock with her vicelike grip. Tali gasped for breath desperately.
Cult and Endjinn came running through the forest to the lake shore, trampling the bushes and flowers.
"Stop that right now!" yelled Cult, pointing at his fiancee, shocked by the scene in front of him.
The air around the strange elf rippled with Shadow, darkness clouding their eyes for a moment. Less than a second later, the strange elf stood before them in shadowform, Tali kneeling on the ground before her, pinned by invisible forces. The elf was wearing a set of dangerous shoulderguards in the shape of firebreathing dragon heads, her pretty face hidden behind a roguish mask. The very air shimmered with darkness. Tali called helplessly for Cult, unable to move.
"If you don't stop that now, I will have to be violent!" threatened Cult, a note of terror creeping into his voice, he unsheathed both swords. Endjinn, meanwhile was sneaking around the back of Tali between her and the shore in an attempt to free her from the magical bindings.
"You mean violent like this?" spat the strange lady, spinning around and blasting Endjinn with shadow powers into the lake. Endjinn hit the surface hard and lost consciousness with a groan.
Cult saw red, unleashing his temper, he swung his blade for the lady's throat. He slipped, cursing, on the muddy ground, losing balance. The lady retaliated with a shadowspell throwing him and pinning him to the ground. Her eyes sparkled dangerously.
"Be careful what you wish for..." gloated the lady, a smile turning at one corner of her mouth. She turned her back on Cult and looked down at Tali kneeling before her. Cult's eyes filled with fat tears, he began begging her to set them both free. Tali simply screamed hysterically.
"Remember you're the one who wants people to get hurt," gloated the elf, gesturing lazily at the unconscious Endjinn floating at the water's edge. "Didn't you want people to die?"
Tali, sobbing in terror, started to call upon her druid magic, calling for Ysera, Cenarius, Elune, Korialastrazs, and Alexstrasza queen of the red dragonflight, to save her. Her hands pinned to the ground, she was unable to cast any spells.
"Aw, tut tut" clucked the strange lady, glaring at the whimpering Tali. "No need to call to them. I will help you meet Ysera of the Dreaming, and all your little gods and dragons now.." The air prickled with shadow and threat.
A black shockwave struck Tali in the heart, throwing her to the ground lifelessly. Cult heard a man screaming in the darkness, then realised it was himself. His body shook in distress.
"I am not done with you yet." The strange night elf laughed nastily, and a cloud of purple and green shadow blowed around Cult, sapping him of his strength. Cult found himself able to move and staggered to the side of his fiance, cradling her in his arms, she was still warm as he held her to his face.
He never noticed the lady leave, but he was dimly aware of Endjinn recovering consciousness and helping him carry Tali's body to her home Den in Teldrassil. There, they lay her down. Endjinn left Cult alone to mourn.
It may have been moments later, or a day, Cult was not aware of the time, when the elf reappeared nearby. He had been laying her on a bed of fern in preparation for burial.
"Oh I wouldn't do that if I were you" said the lady, her eyes shining with dangerous malice. "You know, you shouldn't really bury her until she is dead."
Cult was shocked "What!?"
"How sweet, you have been too busy crying to notice the little breaths she's taking." The lady laughed mercilessly. "You see, I gave her her final wish, and banished her into her own mind, a dreamworld complete with Dragons and fairytale creatures". The lady grinned in Cult's face. "oh yes, you can still save her you know, but there is a price. There is always a price..." And she beckoned Cult forwards.