a blog of experiences of places and faces I've been, past and present

04 January 2011

Syn has the Better Story 5...

Syndalee: Part Three (A Work in Progress by Ruth Hinman... all rights reserved)
Cataclysmic World Changes...

Syn, standing in the quad at the academy with her two boys at her side was showing how to use the base of one’s blade to block an attackers blow when Jules had suddenly flashed vividly blue white and a protective bubble had captured the whole class just in time for a crashing wave of water and the explosive thunder that always accompanied an elemental attack. The water elemental had no sooner pulled back for another attack than the little boy mage had blasted it once so powerfully that it had crumbled into inanimate water and magical armor and then moved forward as if to hunt more.
“Jules.” Syn had ordered and turned, picking up her real sword from the stand against the wall. The boy had closed his eyes and focused on the image of his father and in an instant Myrrdinn had come racing around the corner from where he’d been visiting some friends and watched his wife leading the students to spread in a party behind her.
His own youngest son carried a sword and shield and though he stood only two thirds the height of his petit mother at his young age, Myrrdinn was struck by how powerfully built his son was. On her other side Julian pointed with a finger and an arcane bolt blasted the next elemental before it could even levy an attack.
“You three, go and inform Morgan that the city is under attack.” And then the whole city rumbled at it’s foundations, so powerfully that mortar broke from between stones and the sidewalk heaved and everywhere could be heard screaming. “The rest of you go and clear the barracks and get everyone to the Valley of Heroes. Go now.”
And the warriors in training scattered just as three groups of rogues from the training grounds back and behind the warrior’s academy did the same and three of the instructors appeared and banded with the warrior and her mage husband.
“What’s going on here?” Ryland, the master assassin, asked Syn who shrugged. “There are elementals appearing and attacking us.”
“Seen it.” Jules said. “Killed it.” He added and the adults all looked at him in humourous silence. “Well I did.”
“Yes. I’m more impressed by your protection spell, though.” Syn said. “I’ve only ever seen reflexes that quick on one other mage, and you call him dad.” She turned when the whole city rumbled again and her decision was made for her when three elementals spawned right in front of them.
The rogues vanished and reappeared behind the farthest elemental as Syn gave a piercing cry and charged into the fray, relieved that ice appeared under one of the elementals and began to spread up it’s length. She thought she heard Myrrdinn say the words to his son and then watched as ice spread under the one the rogues had nearly finished and it began to freeze solid. She knew she heard her husband say to his son “well done.”
She shook her hair back, sad for her lack of preparation and then spun, expertly cleaving the elemental with a mighty shout and watched it fall to inanimate water at her feet and gave a leap of joy as the other two went down almost in concert.
“I never thought I’d see the day when Syndalee brought babes into battle.” A wisened voice laughed from the steps of the Inn and she turned to find one of her old instructors standing there. “But then, I never thought I’d ever be so pleased to see her married to a mage, either.”
Myrrdinn wiggled his eyebrows at the old man and saluted him. “Commander.” He said by way of greeting.
“Sir.” The commander returned and turned to Syn in a hurry. “I’ve sent for more soldiers to this location. The damnedest thing, Sweets, they’re spawning all over the city.”
Syn turned to her son. “Jules, call Gozier and Grugworg. Do it so they have permission to bring themselves please.” She added as an afterthought and watched in silence as the boy brought his hands together in front of himself and his eyes closed almost all the way for a moment.
Gozier appeared first, and from the looks of her armor and gear, the boy had somehow even managed to explain to her. Grugworg stepped through his own portal and laid a hand on his grandson’s shoulder with a beaming smile. “In all my years I’ll never get over the thrill of you coming to me, Jules. You have to believe that.”
He lifted his younger grandson up to his shoulder and pointed forwards. “You’re going to scout for me, Nico. Hold on, son.” He rose into the air on a carpet much like the one that Myrrdinn had always flown and they zoomed low and then straight up over the wall of the city to look down on everything.
“Do you know how amazing your life looks from here?” The commander winked at the woman he’d met as an aspiring warrior and watched bloom into the amazing beauty he saw before him.
Syn’s light laughter was punctuated by her son’s nearly growling, “And there’s more.” Before the whole street lit with simultaneous attacks from father and son, somehow communicating without words so that one froze and the other blasted while the warrior charged in and the rogues dispatched the enemies.
The makeshift party hunted with Grug and Nico in the air spotting and calling them to position and the rogues and warrior coming in for attack as Gozier healed and tried in desperation to understand what was controlling the elementals who were so restless that they’d started attacking unprovoked and refused to be quieted by even direct commands.
And as quickly as it started it was done and Syn hugged Ryland affectionately. “Thank you, Ry.”
He blushed and kissed the woman’s hand as she stepped back. “Thank you, Syndalee. You’ve the makings of a fine Commander if you ever decide to take it up. That went very smoothly.”
“You can thank them.” She gestured to Myrrdinn and Grugworg. “They’re the ones who have done this for my whole lifetime. I’m still learning.”
Ryland gave her a look that said he doubted very much that he owed the mages as much thanks as that and then bowed. “I need to go see if there’s more excitement to come or if this was a singular attack.”
And as if on queue, a runner from the Dwarven quarter burst into view crying the whole way to the Keep that Ironforge was besieged by elementals. Syn turned worried eyes on Ry who vanished and reappeared clear across the bridge, already on the way to Ironforge.
“Myrr?”
He looked at his children and smiled. “Lets go, then. Our nation calls.”
The deeprun tram was a wonder her son’s had learned early on because Syn loved the part of the voyage where they went under a lake and could see the life there. Myrrdinn loved it because it kept the boys distracted so that he could steal a kiss from his lovely wife.
By the time they’d arrived there were only a few scattered elementals attacking and Gozier excused herself to assist another Shaman who had captured an angry fire elemental and was attempting to reason with it in order to understand.
Like Stormwind, the great Forge was shaking and they spent precious time racing around finding wall reinforcements and braces, shoring up places that seemed ready to collapse at any moment.
Syn stopped a guard as he raced by and asked him if there was any word from Darnassus or the Exodar and at his mystified look she turned to Myrrdinn who grabbed Jules’ smaller hand and said, “Exodar first” before both mages blinked from existence.
“I’ll go to Darnassus.” Grug said and was gone in a flash, leaving Syn and Nico to race with the dwarves and reinforce walls around the great forge.
Once all was beginning to become peaceful again Syn requested to speak to Magni and waited patiently with Nico to be summoned or denied.
She needn’t have feared. Magni greeted her so warmly that Nicoli looked back and forth between them, almost mystified.
“Your mother is a great warrior, Nicoli.” The old Dwarf told the boy who looked up at his mother with wide eyes. “She helped us defeat the Lich King. When a great warrior seeks an audience with a King he is foolish if he doesn’t not accept.”
Nico stared wide-eyed at the woman who had always been his hero and now suddenly had somehow managed to obtain Goddess qualities he’d never known existed. At only 9 years old he was old and wise enough to recognize a compliment born from truth and he was humbled slightly by such high praise of his own mother.
“There were a great many of us there, highness.” She said with a blush and bowed again to the King of the Dwarves. “And I begged an audience with you to report that Stormwind is also experiencing earthquakes and strange activity from elementals who are not even native to the area.”
“They are native.” A lyric voice that Syn knew before she turned, said. “And still should not be attacking. I bring word from the Moonglade, King Magni. All over Azeroth there are such attacks from angry and disturbed elementals. There are none spared, not Alliance and not Horde. Druids from all of Azeroth are reporting widespread and senseless attacks.”
Syn couldn’t resist herself and leapt at the tall lavender haired Night Elf. “Brianna, it’s been too long.”
The druid gazed from Syn to the boy beside her and back again. “Your son bears your eyes so profoundly that I’d have known him anywhere, and yet here is another as beautiful as the first.” She bent and extended her hand to the young man who shyly took it and smiled up at her.
“You met Jules then.” He said without seeming dull or repetitive. “He’s older than I am.”
“It’s my pleasure to meet you both.” She turned to Syn who provided the boy’s name. “Nicoli.”
She turned at once back to the King. “I have not heard from the Exodar, I am not sure if this corruption reaches…”
“The Exodar remains unshaken and is unattacked inside the ship, though the outlying areas are reporting unusual activity that has the shamans on high alert and going out to explore rifts and attacks by elementals.” Myrrdinn’s proud voice carried from the back of the room and Syn was distracted by the way that Jules simply appeared next to his brother in a flash and the two boys leaned, shoulder to shoulder, closer together.
“A mage? Myrrdinn? Your eldest is a magus?” Magni extended his hand to the young man at once and smiled. “A pleasure to meet you, young sir. I’m Magni Bronzbeard.”
The boy’s eyes lit and he bowed instantly, triggering a belated bow from the younger of the pair so that the King beamed at them and laid a hand on each of them, giving them a blessing before turning to Myrrdinn. “And you, sir.”
Myrrdinn bowed and extended his hand to his old friend. “Grugworg has been to Darnassus and is on his way to Darkshore where he says there were many reports of much activity like what we saw in Stormwind.”
“Sire, I believe that a meeting of the leaders should commence.” The druid said and then stepped to the side as the King and one of his many advisors strode towards the door.
“I’d be happy to provide you with the smoothest mage portal you’ve ever ridden, if you promise not to gawk at the boy who produces it.” Myrrdinn beamed at his son who smiled up at him.
“I’d be honored, Sire. To which city would you prefer travel first?”
Syn took Nico’s hand in hers and made eye contact with the old Dwarf who raised a surprised eyebrow. To offer a mighty leader an untried portal was either an insult or a gift, and it seemed to Syn that the dwarf was quite honored indeed when he extended a hand to his advisor and then to the boy and said, “I’m quite interested, then, in this smoothest ride I’ve ever had the pleasure of taking. Take us all to Stormwind, Jules, if you don’t mind.”
And all seven of them were suddenly standing at the front entrance of the keep, much to the chagrined surprise of the pair of guards posted there.
Syn and Myrrdinn made their excuses and left the druid and the King to hurry inside. Before she could step away Magni took her hand in his and brought it to his lips. “It’s a pleasure to have you back with us, my dear. Even if you’re only a partial participant this time.” And then he turned to Nico and extended his hand, closing both of his calloused and heavy hands around the young boy’s smaller one. “And you sir, your father must bring you to me so that we can talk about a great many things. That was quite possibly the bravest story I’ve heard about such a young warrior, I’d be quite interested in learning and teaching you more.”
“There is so much you could teach me, sire.” Nico looked hesitantly from the King to his parents each in turn. “I would love to come and visit you.”
“Of course.” Syn and Myrrdinn often seconded one another’s sentiments, though rarely in concert.
Magni nodded happily. “Business calls. The lot of you should be off now. I have a feeling this is not an isolated incident.”
The druid shook her head sadly and for the benefit of the terribly curious boys excused herself from the king for a moment so that she could change her form into that of a cat, which made them both exclaim. And then into a bear so that Jules stepped warily back and Nico raced forward to stroke her shoulder and look up into her face.
“I can still see you in there, lady Brianna!” He exclaimed excitedly. “Oh Goddess I wish I could be a bear! You must be mightily hard to defeat in battle!”
As she shifted back the druids laughter preceded her bent form before she rose to her full incredibly lovely height. “It takes a special man to see into the eyes of the beast and see her heart, Nico. I would quite happily bring you with me the next time I visit my sister. I think you would enjoy her very much.”
And so it was that the four decided to walk out of the city before Myrrdinn would unroll his magic carpet for them to ride, so that the boys could bounce and chatter excitedly, almost seeming like just any other pair of boys walking with their parents. Except that these boys had just seen and done in a single day what many men four times their ages had never imagined.
“Are we terribly negligent parents, Myrrdinn?” Syn asked as she extinguished the light in her sons’ bedroom and pulled the cover back up and over Nico’s chest and arms before walking back out to the hallway.
“I don’t think so. I’m not sure, though. I didn’t see any other children going scouting after combat with their parents.” He laughed and closed his arms around her, something about the hardness of her chest plate making him weak in the knees. “It’s been a long time, love. I’d forgotten how magnificent you really are when you’re making things dead.”
“Goddess, Myrrdinn. You and Julian fight like you’ve been side by side forever. Did you SEE that bolt he sent into the last of the earth elementals? I’d say he’s as gifted as you are.”
“I think perhaps he’s much more powerful than I am, Syn. You wouldn’t feel it the way that myself and Grugworg have. We’re mages, my love. Another mage’s portal is always slightly different, almost unsettling. Julian’s is so comfortable and complete that it’s a blink and you’re somewhere else. I’ve never felt anything like it. Even the portal I accepted from a dragon wasn’t so perfect.”
“And you don’t seem the least bit challenged by that admission.” She went up on her toes and framed his face in her hands, guiding it down to her own so that she could kiss him deeply. “I’m more in love with you for admiring our son than I am for being the worlds greatest mage.”
He laughed. “I thought you loved me for my other talents?”
“Oh, you know, my darling man… I think I love you most for a quality you take for granted.” She caressed his cheek with her fingers and cupped the back of his head in her hand to hold him close. “I love you most because you love me back and I’ve never had reason to wonder how or why.”
“Oh my darling girl.” He lifted her into his arms with a growl, kissing her so passionately that she growled into his mouth and struggled to get her feet so that she could drag him down the hall. “I’ve loved you from the first minute I saw you. I just wasn’t wise enough yet to realize it.”
“Life has a way of working just the way it should, Myrrdinn.” She pulled him back into the dark coolness of their bedroom and he could see her untying the laces to set her armor free. “And now some terrible new adventure awaits us. Are we ready for it?”
“I never thought I’d ever say it, Syn.” He laughed and groaned when the moonlight through the window lit the sides of her pale breasts as she lifted her jerkin over her head, baring herself from the waist up. “I think with my family beside me there is nothing I couldn’t undertake.”
“Goddess thanks and forever owed for my amazingly brilliant sons.” Syn said almost as a prayer. “Did you ask Jules about his bubble? He cast a paladin’s bubble around all of us in the quad, Myrr. Not just myself and Nicoli, either. Everyone was entirely covered from the first attack by the elemental.”
Myrr cupped her breasts in his palms and raised his eyebrows. “That’s a new on one me, for sure. I don’t have anything that resembles that spell. Maybe he learned it from Grugworg?”
“Not that I’ve ever seen.” She moaned and unhooked his robes expertly. “You know he’ll only say…” and they said it together I don’t know. It just occurred to me and then it happened and laughed aloud.
Syn moaned his name loudly as he climbed into bed over her and claimed her in the same smooth motion.

“I’ll ask him tomorrow. Tonight his great warrior of a mother belongs to me and I’m quite hungry for her for some reason.”
In only a year’s time the whole face of the world had changed, in some places beyond recognition. Syn had allowed her sons to be separated for a short time so that they could be trained separately, she’d accompanied Nicoli and Myrrdinn had traveled with Jules to Dalaran. Syn had been forced to bring Nicoli back to Stormwind from Ironforge when young Anduin Wrynn arrived, her instinct being that something was about to be amiss because so many mages and great minds had gathered around scrolls older than the Dwarves themselves.
Rumors later that King Magni had been turned to stone in the heart of Ironforge and that his daughter had returned with an army of Dark Irons to make her claim on the throne brought a chill to the warrior called Sweetassyn.
Her sons were still young and yet had proven time and time again over the past year that some were born to war and excelled at it to such lengths as to distinguish themselves at any age.
With his teacher from Dalaran Jules had traveled down to the shore to study elemental magic’s and when they had been besieged by furious water elementals it had been her 11 year old son who had first bubbled the group and then attacked the oncoming elementals, shouting orders to his other classmates and pointing from target to target as though his instructor had not been present at all.
When Myrrdinn arrived moments later the elementals were destroyed and the teacher distraught by having been made a bodyguard to such a reckless young mage. It was only after much heated argument between the headmaster of the new Dalaran school and Myrrdinn that the instructor was able to cool his head enough to recall that it had been Julian’s swift action that had saved them all and not the other way around.
In a similar incident at Stormwind while Syn and Myrrdinn were exploring reports of strange activity in Silverpine forest outside of the lost Southshore Nico had flattened a raging earth elemental with a kick they had just learned that morning and had called on Ryland by sending one of the cadets and had sent another to call on the adults and have them gather at preappointed locations around the city before his instructor could return from a trip to relieve a straining bladder. By the time his defensive skills trainer figured out what was going on the young boy had organized a group of his fellow students and was hunting elementals strategically quarter to quarter with a group of rogues.
Syn stood on the low hill overlooking the vast greenery and covered her mouth with her fingers. “Worgen.” She said when she’d controlled her initial panic.
“And Night Elves.” Myrrdinn pointed. “It seems that Gilneas may just have opened the walls to let us in again.”
“I don’t know anything but stories of the Gilneans. They closed themselves inside and refused all contact before I was born. During the First War.” She crouched and dragged her husband down beside her by yanking on his robes as a scouting patrol strode proudly within eyesight of them.
“I don’t believe they’ll attack us, Syn.” He whispered. “They’re not like any Worgen I’ve ever seen before.” He watched as one stopped to talk to another and the pair of them laughed together. “They’re intelligent.”
“So were the ones in Grizzly Hills. They still tried to kill me dead for knowing their secret.” She drew her sword and rolled her neck around in a broad circle, getting the blood in her shoulders flowing without making her actions too broad or obvious.
“You said they were cursed and wanted to stay Worgen.” Myrrdinn studied the way the Worgen and Night Elves communed and made the decision before his wife could override him. He rose and strode forward over the hill as if he owned the place, using his staff as an old man might use a walking stick, and no spell prepared on his nimble fingers.
Syn growled in frustration and scrambled over the log and hedge they’d been using as cover and followed him making no such attempt at feigned nonchalance. She caught him up just as he raised a hand to an approaching patrol and gritted her teeth with a deep breath.
“Hello.” Myrrdinn said aimiably. “Are you Gilnean or new around these parts, friend?”
Syn watched as the Worgen man glanced over his shoulder in confused realization and then as the hackles rose on his neck and shoulders and he bared his teeth. “I’m Gilnean and you shouldn’t be here.”
“I have been sent by the King of Stormwind to investigate some reports of strange activity in Silverpine. Intelligent Worgen with organized patrols and uniforms and who are allied to the Night Elves would qualify, I think you’d have to agree.” Myrrdinn stood so still that it took Syn a moment to realize that he’d been circling his hand around his talisman the whole time, a single spell at the ready should he require it.
Again the dogman seemed confused by the words he was clearly hearing and comprehending. He shook his heavy head and growled before thrusting his head back and loosing a terrible piercing howl that brought Syn’s blade up and her body between the Worgen and her cloth-clad mage of a husband.
In seconds three others raced on their fours to join them and Syn damned her impetuous husband if even one of the beasts decided not to let word get out of their activity. A massive cat bounded down the hill in their direction and even from the great distance Syn recognized it to be a druid cat form, not an indigenous cat.
“Forgive my protector.” Myrrdinn said and laid a hand on his wife’s shoulder guard. “She’s had experience with Worgen who were clearly less advanced than yourselves. I’m afraid she’s a little less trusting than myself.”
“Wise little warrior.” One of the Worgen growled, licking his visciously sharp fangs and sniffing in her direction. “You should be away from this place.”
Syn breathed a deep breath and recognized the posturing of an enemy army as if the veil had lifted from her eyes. None of the Worgen were doing anything but posturing and waiting for their leader, a druid, to advise them what to do. They had not even circled Myrrdinn and herself, as any army would do with an enemy. She stepped forward and tilted her head, very close to the surly dog.
“Are you a bad doggie or a good doggie, friend?” Her vivid emerald eyes searched the blue eyes of the wolfman in front of her and he growled low in his chest. “Mmmm… there’s the nerve, then, is it?” She turned her face to the leader of their little group and blinked slowly as he sized her up. “Shall we see what our Night Elf friend has to say? She’ll be here shortly.”
With that she stepped back and lowered her sword respectfully as the Night Elf released her cat form and rose to her feet, running the last bit of the hill on her own feet. “Do not… umm…” She studied the humans and then the Worgen for a split second and then turned to Myrrdinn. “What’s going on here?”
He laughed and extended his hand. “I am Myrrdinn, and this is Sweetassyn, my protector. We’ve been sent here by the King of Stormwind to investigate reports of strange activity in Silverpine following the great Cataclysm.”
She took Myrrdinn’s hand and then Syn’s before turning to the Worgen at her left. “Report?”
“What he said. He walked up and just started talking to me.”
“Are you so far from yourself in this form that you do not realize that humans do that?” She sighed and laughed aloud. “If he’d swung on you then you’d know what to do. Why don’t you understand kindness?”
“We weren’t very friendly before the curse.” The Worgen said with an entirely human shrug. “I’ve never known a stranger I should trust.”
“Well, Daniel, please meet Myrrdinn and his wife, Sweetassyn of Stormwind. They helped to defeat the Lich King and many many enemies before him. They are two of the most revered warriors of legend and if there were ever two you could call friend, it is this pair.” The Druid turned back to Myrrdinn and smiled. “Not that you know me at all, and I know you from my sister Brianna.”
“Two druids in one family?”
“Yes and a warrior, whom I believe your son has already met on a visit with his grandfather to Teldrassil before the blight.”
The worgen seemed to have lost interest. Sweetassyn extended her hand to the one closest to her and was pleasantly surprised when his massive furry paw met hers firmly and gently enough not to crush her gauntlet into her fragile skin. “It’s my pleasure to make your aquaintance, Daniel. My friends call me Sweets.”
“And in this form I’m called Dad. Don’t ask, I’m not even sure I could tell the story.”
She laughed. “Fair enough.” She was still stiff and watchful and she wasn’t sure how much of her fear was obvious to the massive dogs. “I don’t explain my nickname either.”
“I’m just Myrrdinn.” Myrr said with a wink up at the big man. “And I’ll admit I’m scared to bits by this thing. Can you help me understand how you’ve been left whole and also changed?”
“It’s the cruelest irony of them all, actually. This is what happens to you when you’re cursed and caught behind a wall where you have received no updated training or information in decades.” The Worgen called Alane said with a low rumble that was something between a growl and a clearing of his throat. “We didn’t know how to combat it when we met it.”
“And yet you’ve combated it brilliantly, Alane.” Myrrdinn said as the group began to stroll slowly towards the city gates. “You’re still a man in your mind and a massively more powerful wolf in body.”
Alane glanced at the others who all nodded at once. “It gets better.” He said and howled and bent, with a whimper that sounded painful and slowly through some jerking and shuddering his form became that of a human man. “We can change at will. Some of us. I can’t keep it from happening when I’m scared or angry, others are better at it.”
Syn covered her face in her hands and her eyes said all they needed to about how shocked and pained she was for them at the same time that she was awed.
“Don’t be scared, little warrior.” Daniel said with a teasing growl. “We’ve already dealt with the horror of the thing and the wonder. Now it’s just what we are and I can say that I’d never go back, even if I could.”
“I’m not sure I would.” Myrrdinn said, his voice full of awe. “I’d still love to know more. I’m a nosy old mage, I make no apologies. And Syn is an extremely adept alchemist and scientist, if you’re willing to share information I’m sure she’s got questions she’s being too polite to ask right now.”
“A few million, probably.” She said honestly and accepted Daniel’s hand when their journey required a climb of a few feet. He was tremendously stronger than any man she’d met, even the Draenei. “Thank you.”
Daniel studied her closely for a moment and shook his head in confusion. “I hope more of the people we meet will be like you, Syn.”
At her silence he turned and studied her more closely. “As do I, Daniel. Very sincerely. I can say truthfully that I know two young boys who will be incredibly angry not to have met you already.”
“Don’t even think his name, wife or he’ll be here.”
“I am aware, husband. “She rolled her eyes and then, to the confused party around them she sighed and said only, “My sons are a mage and a warrior, and the mage has the ability to hear his name said and appear as though called.”
Leilani clapped her hands in delight. “What a gift! How old are your sons now?”
“Eleven and ten, or forty and ten, I suppose. My eldest is unlike anyone I’ve ever known. Sometimes wiser even than myself.” Myrrdinn said proudly. “And other’s just a little boy. For now lets us learn more. If you feel like being asked a few million more questions after their mother and myself have poked around then perhaps we’ll bring them here to meet our new friends.”
“They would be more than welcome.” Leilani said without hesitation. “My sisters speak on them both so often I feel as though I know them already.”
Good to her word, once she’d asked more than half of the million questions she had, Syn conferred with her husband about how unwise it might be to involve their sons. He determined that not involving them would be more unwise and she nodded. “Why don’t you call them, then. Nico loves it when his dad comes to fetch him.”
“The trouble is that he can’t bring us back here, he can’t make portals to where he hasn’t ever been.”
“Lailani?” Syn watched the taller woman approach and thought for the hundredth time that they moved like cats, even in their true forms. “Is there a mage who can come back to Gilneas?”
“Sweets, Gilneas is the only place most of these mages know at all.” Leilani laughed and turned, calling a lovely dark worgen mage named Beebright. “Would you trust Myrrdinn enough to travel with him to fetch his sons back here? Then you could learn the spell that would transport you to Stormwind and to the Exodar, so that the world would be a little more open to you when you’re ready to travel.”
Bee shuddered and her body was suddenly wracked by painful sobs as she shrank and returned to a human looking form. “I’ll come.” She said, hands still shaking from the transformation. “And this way perhaps be less shocking.”
“I wish you could go in your true form, Bee.” Myrrdinn said and laid a hand on the woman’s slender shoulder.
“As used to seeing us in wolf form as you seem to have become, Myrrdinn, this IS my real form.” She smiled up at him and her eyes shone overbright over the blue. “Or rather one of them. The one I was born to.”
He nodded and apologized, taking her slim fingered hand in his. “We’ll be back in a couple of hours, wife.”
“Oh, good! I’ll go play with the boys then and see how much trouble we can get in to in a couple of hours, husband.” She winked teasingly at him and turned to go and find Daniel and the warrior Alaine.
“Ohmygosh ohmygosh.” Nico’s excited exclamation as he raced up the hill brought Syn’s attention from the fight at hand and Alaine accidentally flattened her unprepared so that she rolled painfully and checked herself for injury while her sons raced forward. “Bee said you’d be massive!” He shouted and gave a whoop and raised his hand to the surprised Worgen.
“This, Alaine, is my younger son, he seems to have forgotten his own name.” She laughed as Nico blushed and apologized before rextending his hand to the massive warrior who had bent to lend a hand to his fallen mother.
“I’m Nicoli. I’m training to become a warrior. I’ve only met one Worgen before, and she was in her human form until Jules brought us all back here to meet you.”
Alaine’s surprised eyes leapt from mother to son and then back again, and he went down on one knee so that he could better face the young man. “It’s my pleasure to meet you, Nicoli. I am called Alaine and I’m also in training to become a warrior. Perhaps we could practice together?”
The lights in Nico’s eyes could not have shone brighter when he easily agreed. “How cool is it that you have fur and claws and can also speak?” The boy’s tactless honesty seemed to heal and not harm the Worgen who laughed aloud.
“I suppose actually very cool.” He said, surprising himself by finding his heart adoring the stranger’s son. “You have an older brother? My brother is Daniel, but everyone calls him Dad because he’s always in charge of us.”
Nico rolled his eyes and smiled mischieveously up at his new friend. “Well, mine is pretty nice most of the time. And even if he gets bossy, it’s only because he’s a super genius already and can’t help it. Wanna see something kinda cool?”
Bee and Daniel joined the group at the training yard as Alaine agreed to see what the young man wanted to show him.
“It’s the only way I can boss him around back.” Nico closed his eyes and a split second later Jules stood, facing as though he’d just been speaking to someone else. “Sorry, Jules. Just wanted you to meet my new friend Alaine.”
Bee stood in silence, her mouth hanging open and looked from the boys to their father and back again.
“I’ve no idea and believe me, we’ve tried to understand it.”
Rather than being disturbed or even frustrated with his brother, the older Julian was elated and extended his hand in much the same way his brother had done. “I’m Julian. Pleased to meet you Alaine.”
Again the worgen looked from the boys to their parents and accepted a small hand in his massive one to shake hands with a boy too familiar and too young to be so bold. He knew he would love these boys as friends for many years to come, he could feel it in their strong hands and their stronger hearts.
“So like twins, they are.” Bee said, kneeling to watch as the pair raced on down the hill with Alaine and Daniel to see the barracks. “You say they’re a year apart?”
Syn blushed and shook her head. “No, not even quite 10 months apart.”
“It’s a special blessing to have them so close in age, the benefits of their own births and also of being almost twins.” The mage said and made eye contact with Myrrdinn. “And the older one has been casting since birth?”
“In small ways, yes. If he needed his mother she was brought to him. He does the same to me now, usually when there are elementals attacking or something else he knows I’d want to help with.”
“I have to tell you that portal he casts is perfect. Even my own portals aren’t that easy.” She shook her head. “That’s one strong new mage you’ve got there.”
“Tell me.” Myrr helped the woman to her feet and they strolled down the other direction towards the main gate of the city, where there was a mage who had promised to teach the human father and son how to build portals to Gilneas.
A few hours later as they dined in the great hall with a great number of Worgen and humans, Syn listened intently as Nico explained that changing from being a wolf to being a man was less painful than it was just uncomfortable because the body had to make so many changes. He told her as the resident expert in human and worgen relations that Alaine had promised to come with him to meet his instructor at Stormwind so that he could learn defensive stances because there were none in Gilneas to teach them.
“There are a great many Night Elves who can teach him.” Syn said, thinking of the hardship on Alaine and some of the others if the frightened and superstitious lot at Stormwind were to see them in their wolf forms.
“My teacher would not mind that they are Worgen.” Nico said firmly. “He’s our friend and has known me since before I was even born, he said.”
“That he truly has.” Syn said and nodded. “And it’s not your instructor that worries me, love.”
“Those old idiots would be afraid of their shadow if they thought they could cut it free from themselves.” Julian said hotly. “There will always be people who fear what they don’t understand, mother. You said that.”
“Yes, and what do people do when they fear?”
Julian paled slightly and then sighed. “Well, they’d have to come through me and Nico.”
Alaine felt his flesh prickle with blood as he blushed under his fur and it occurred to him that he’d not blushed before as a wolf.
“I still want you to meet my teacher, Alaine. He’s so smart and so strong. You would really like him.” Nico said stubbornly and pushed away his mostly cleared plate in favor of a platter of pastries that were now making their way down the long table towards them. “Oh, do you suppose there’s the berry ones dad said he had for lunch?”
Alaine shook his head and selected the berry tart from the tray for his young friends, reaching for a bowl of sweetened cream to pour over the tops of the tarts for them. “Here you are, then. Berry Tart and sweet cream. A summer favorite here.”
Jules’ eyes rolled back in his head and he made a low murmuring sound of delight as he slowly chewed the first bite with relish. Always his opposite in all things physical, Nico had downed half of the tart before he actually exclaimed because it was so tasty. Syn had to believe it was the first he’d really tasted of it in his lust for getting it down his throat.
“Nico, eat like you only have one.” Jules poked his brother and the younger rolled his eyes.
“Just because you’re a purist about everything.” Nico said disdainfully and had cleared his own plate and was already eyeing his brother’s still mostly full tart.
“Do it and I’ll burn all your hairs off.” Jules said it so coolly that Myrrdinn glanced up, surprised. Nico laughed and rolled his eyes at his brother and leaned forward to see if the tray of sweets might be on the way back up the table.
Daniel watched the young boys and how they interacted and was warmed by their similarity to his own relationship with his brother. So close that even threats were funny and without malice. A bald warrior would be funny at any age, he thought with a smile. And it’s a fair price for having the rest of someone else’s dessert. He caught the tray for the young warrior and extended it across the table so that he could make his own selection.
“I find I actually prefer the chocolate filled pastries, the ones that look like little balls.” He suggested and watched as Nico helped himself to three of them.
“Nico.” Syn half scolded. “I know they’re good, do you really need that many?”
“Yes.” He said without any chagrin and popped a whole one in his mouth, setting another on his brother’s plate without even looking. “Oooh, these really are very good.” He exclaimed and popped the second one in his mouth. “Ooo shlld rie it.” He said through a full mouth to Jules who nodded with a laugh.
“I’ll get to it.” He said.
They couldn’t really be more different if they tried, Alaine thought as he watched the young mage cut a slice of the cream puff away from the whole and try it with the same slow consideration he’d tried the tart.
“How do you keep them fed?” Leilanie asked with a laugh as she settled beside Daniel on the bench.
“Myrrdinn bakes and makes them sweets. He’s an incredibly accomplished chef.”
“Mmm, but you make the best Winter Veil treats, mum. And pie. You should try my mum’s pumpkin pie. And the stuffing and turkey.” Nico was overcome in memory for a moment and the men around him laughed.
“Mom’s cooking will always warm a man through to his bones.” Daniel laughed. “My mom will always be the only one who can make me some dishes. Kidney pie by anyone else…”
“Oh Goddess, mum’s kidney pies.” Alaine agreed and moaned. “So juicy and so good. No one ever gets the gravy right.”
Syn blushed and nodded. “Thank the Goddess that their father knows how to feed men. They’d have starved to death if I’d been setting the diet.”
Alaine studied the two boys and nodded. They were already almost as tall as their mother, Nico probably weighed almost as much as she did as well, and the boy was slim and fit. Jules was slimmer and would likely always be, and was still robust and well built for a young lad.
“A hungry boy will fend.” Alaine teased.
“Aye. Jules made breakfast the other day. Pancakes with berries and fresh butter.” Nico smiled happily. “He even showed me how to turn them so I can give it a go myself next time.”
“When did you make breakfast?” Myrrdinn looked from boy to boy and found that he was about to learn a secret when they blushed and looked down.
“You’re sneaking home from school?” Syn spun sideways on the bench and her hard look landed on the braver of her sons first. “Nico?”
“He’s so far away, mum. I hate being away and so we meet up before bed and for Sunday breakfast.” He met her gaze and the earnest sentiment she could see there melted her heart and she looked to her husband.
“I suppose then that this is a failed experiment in teaching you independence.” Myrrdinn sighed.
“We ARE independent.” Jules countered. “We just also like spending our free time together. I’ll be happy to go back to Stormwind and take portals to my teachers.”
Syn nodded without thinking and found that Myrr was doing the same.
“Have you got your own friends?” Leilani asked, honestly and without seeming to have any ulterior motive.
“Sure. I have guys at school and Jules has some at his school. At home we’ve got lots of frineds in Goldshire.” Nico accepted his brothers mostly cleared plate and devoured the food remaining without a thought. “And Jules is still my best friend. No one ever really understands things the way that he does.”
“Your brother is your best friend.” Bee said with an approving nod. “A mage and a warrior, like their mother and father.” She raised her eyebrows at Syn. “I told you it’s a special thing that they were born separately and still close enough to grow together. What a gift you two have.” She turned her hand palm up and extended it in front of Jules. “Say ‘flower’ and picture it in your mind. Use the dust I gave you earlier.”
Myrrdinn watched his young son sprinkle some dust from a tiny packet onto his palm and onto Bee’s palm as well. He focused his mind and said the word and a beautiful pink and orange blossom appeared in his palm and then solidified.
“Here, mom. A flower that wont die.”
Bee blinked slowly and in her hand was a tiny figurine of the two boys sitting side by side at the table. She turned to Myrrdinn. “I’ll teach you, I can see already that you’ll only harass Jules for the secret. This is for you. Because they grow so quickly that you forget just how fast.”
“What is the dust?”
“A ground mirror and seapalm root, dried.”
Syn nodded. “I’ve never even heard of it.” She leaned forward and touched some of the residual powder from her son’s palm. “Are you using a mortise and pestle or?”
“Oh no, this has to be ground on a small stone mill. It’s very important that the dust be even and so fine that it barely shimmers anymore. Otherwise the result isn’t as clear as you can picture.”
“Where did you see this flower, Jules?”
“It was growing on the shore where we were attacked in Northrend. They reminded me of you.” He watched his mother turn the flower over in her hand and was proud of his choice.
“It’s called Tiger Lily and you have a remarkable eye for detail, son. I don’t suppose it wanted you to pick it?”
He shook his head. “I’m still not the flower boy. That’s still Nico. I prefer making things that are bigger than their whole. Dad’s been teaching me to sew and I’m getting pretty good at it.”
Syn made eye contact with Alaine. “How boring this domesticality must be for you, Alaine. I’m sorry family dinners are always a bit of a hodge podge of the boys and so little adult talk.”
“I was actually quite enjoying it.” Alaine said with a broad toothy smile and asked Nico and Jules if they would like to come see something amazing that was about to vanish.
Syn gave her permission and watched as the boys raced to keep up with Alaine who dashed on his fours, turning and waiting like a dog before racing ahead towards the cathedral.
Nico skidded to a halt in front of the massive alter, tremendously bigger and older than the one in Stormwind. Everywhere around them was light and images from the ancient windows streaming across the white stone floors and walls and the wooden benches.
“Ohmygosh, Jules, lookit.” He spun and saw that his brother was already turning and looking.
“Every night with the last light this place is a festival of lights. I used to fall asleep here sometimes and Daniel would come get me and drag me home before I got in trouble. That was back when all I wanted was to be a priest.”
“I’m sorry you got the curse.” Nico said sadly and was surprised by his new friend’s dismissive shake of the head.
“I’m not. Dan and myself were climbing the rocks behind the church here when we heard our sister screaming and we raced over without looking. She was dead and we were both bit and diseased before we could even realize what we were fighting. We had it lucky. She raised as an undead and had to be put back down. Our parents died in the first of three fires. Dan and myself were in the first few Worgen who could fight for our people and end the spread of the disease and save our homes. If I hadn’t changed we might not have made it.”
Jules nodded sadly. “I don’t know what I’d do if something was trying to hurt my mum and dad. I’d lose my mind. How much older than you is Daniel?”
“I’d kill it or danged well die trying.” Nico said without any hesitation.
“Oh, Daniel and myself are twins. He’s older by a few minutes.”
Nico laughed. “How cool would that have been, Jules? Me and you only a few minutes apart?”
“Not cool.” Jules said with a laugh. “I needed mum and dad to myself for a few months, to make sure they were ready for the trouble you were about to cause.”
Nico sighed. “Like I ever caught my bed on fairy fire.”
Alaine laughed aloud. “You did what?”
“I read that druids use fairy fire to heal and I wanted to see if I could summon it. I didn’t. I summoned real fire.”
“The fire was green.” Nico argued.
“Fel fire.” Myrrdinn said from the back of the great church. “Jules summoned fel fire without having ever even seen it.”
Alaine shook his head. “And then I suppose the rule was not to summon what you had not seen?”
“Something like it, yeah.” Nico laughed and shrugged. “Jules makes the best breakfasts, dad. You’d really be proud.”
The mage laughed, knowing that the possibility of being in trouble was still fresh in both boys’ minds. “I think your mum is more worried what the other adults would think of the pair of you making off on your own all the time than she is really worried for you.”
“Well, I showed that old idiot Simon the how to’s of elemental destruction.” Jules said cockily and then blushed. “Sorry, dad, but I did.”
“Yes, you did.” Myrr shook his head and smiled. “I’m more worried that it comes back from you the way it just did, son. The man had a dozen untrained magi to protect and has never been a war mage. I actually feel bad for him that you had experience that made you more prepared than he was.”
“He should have the experience.” Nico said simply. “Or he shouldn’t try to throw Jules out just because he did and it saved them.”
Alaine turned to the younger mage and Jules blushed. “We were on a field trip to Valiance Keep and water elementals attacked us. I put up a protection and started attacking the elementals and my instructor felt like I was wrong to tell my friends what spells to use and to tell them when to attack.”
“You were commanding the fight?” Alaine sounded awed and clapped the young man on the back. “I hope I can be that quick when the moment comes for me to have to lead that way. I’m impressed. And I have to agree with both your dad and your brother. That teacher should have been better prepared before he took a class there, and he should have thanked his lucky stars that you were there and knew what to do when he didn’t.”
Myrrdinn liked the Worgen warrior more every moment he spent with him and when the men’s eyes met he could see that Alaine seemed to feel the same about his boys. “I couldn’t agree more.” Myrr said with a smile. “And before you say it, Jules, I’m thinking the same thing and I am not sure it is advised without first speaking to their leader.”
“It’s only grandpa Grug, dad.”
“How did you know…?”
Myrr had watched his son twirling the talisman he’d been given by his grandfather the year before during the whole conversation, obviously absorbed on the man in his subconscious. “If I told you how I knew you’d be more careful with your tells and I’d have to learn to be psychic.” Myrrdinn teased and laid a hand over his son’s and turned the talisman into the light.
“I suppose you better get good with runes, or leaves then, dad.” Nico teased and turned to Alaine. “Do you think this place is ready for a giant purple space alien who used to be a demon and is now a mage?”
Alaine raised surprised eyes to Myrrdinn. “Their grandfather was a space alien?” He laughed incredulously.
“It sounds so much more mysterious when you say it that way.” He laughed. “The Draenei came here and are aliens to this world. And they were running because they’d found the Light and had changed from the demonic ways of their people. Both things are true. They were the last race brought into the Alliance by the Night Elves.”
“I would actually like to meet this Grandfather demon turned mage, then.” Alaine said. “And we’re learning not to be separatists. If he has knowledge of fighting the undead as you and Syndalee do, then he would be a welcome help.”
Jules vanished before anyone could speak and Myrrdinn growled frustratedly. “He’s going to think after for his whole life.”
“No, dad. He thinks before. He just isn’t afraid of the consequences.” Nico said it and then laughed at himself. “Sorry, was that an example of oversharing, Alaine?”
“Absolutely.” The worgan man laughed and shook his massive head. “I suppose this means I’m about to meet this demon?”
“Very quickly, yes.” Nico turned and focused his eyes on the entrance to the church. “When Jules tells him what you are he’ll come even if he’s not dressed properly.”
Good to his word a few more moments passed in pregnant expectation and then from the back of the church Julian raced forward to where Alaine waited with his father and brother. “See, Grandpa? Isn’t he gorgeous? Say something, Alaine, show him that you’re not like the mindless monsters from Duskwood.”
“And what would you have me say, exactly?” The warrior rose from his haunches and found that he was eye to eye with the massive lavender man whose face was covered in tendrils and whose eyes shone brightly blue as though lit from within.
“By Argas!” Grugworg extended his hand and accepted the paw of the massive warrior with a slight bow to him. “Thank you for trusting the boy to bring me here. I have very many questions to ask.”
“I rather imagined you might.” Alaine laughed and wrapped his other hand around that of the giant magus. “I am Alaine, my brother Daniel is keeping company with our sister Bee and your daughter Syndalee outside.”
“I presume I’m in the famed Gilneas chapel. No one has seen this place in very many years, but I’ve seen woodcuttings that were hand painted. They did it no justice.”
“You should see it when the sun is setting, Grandpa! It’s like magic lights.” Nico raced and wrapped his arms around the big mage. “Hi, by the way. If you can stay for dinner tomorrow ask about the chocolate fluffball things, and the berry tarts. They’re as good as mom’s pies.”
The group made their way from the church and Grugworg laid a hand on Myrrdinn’s shoulder. “Perhaps you should send these two to be the ambassadors of the Alliance, Myrr. I was just told, in a room full of magus, mind you, that you two had discovered our most perfect new allies and that they were as big as Draenei, as powerful as druids and that they were friendly and smart like humans.”
“Oh my. A tall order to live up to, Alaine. I hope you’re ready.”
“Oh, and Myrr, he refused to say where we were going because, and he cast a wary look around the room before he said it, not everyone is willing to accept new races as our friends.” Grug laughed aloud at Myrr’s shocked face.
“Oh Goddess.” Myrr rubbed his face in his hand and blinked slowly. “They are still young, nothing can be done for that.”
“What’s untrue in it, son?” Grug laid a hand on the other mage’s back. “Tact is a niceity that we like, and for the leaders it becomes required. It doesn’t make what he said any less true that he didn’t dress it nicely and put a bow on it.”
Alaine nodded. “Very true.” The worgen dropped to his fours and raced to catch up to the pair of boys who were running full stop towards Dan and Bee, racing to be first to tell them that their Grandfather was visiting now.