I am my mother's only child. I was born under the shadow of Mount Hyjal, into the welcoming arms of the Auraniel clan. I am called Lothelene, which might be rendered into common as "sweet flower," or perhaps "florimel."
In those days, the north of Kalimdor was peaceful and beautiful, recovered from the ravages of the Legion and the War of the Ancients that tore the world asunder. Holy Hyjal stood tall in the center, Nordrassil at her crown, and around her knees grew the endless forest.
My grandmother Lilianae had brought the clan from Hyjal itself, where my mother and her sisters had been born, into the green forests on the western shore near the town of Auberdine. She brought her own sisters and their families with her and built the village where I was born. The lands to the west did not then bear such ill names as Darkshore and Felwood, for all was fair and bursting with life.
I have no real memories of the early years with my mother, when she held me in her arms and I suckled from her breast, drinking the warm sweet milk. I do recall rolling around on the floor with my father's latest litter of nightsaber cubs, their little tongues licking my cheeks, while my parents looked on with merry eyes and laughed. My mother's laughter is the most beautiful sound I have ever heard.
The thing I remember most about my mother was how much she loved the sea. My father had built our little cottage apart from the rest of the village to be closer to the water. Mother would go down to the water's edge every morning to swim in the waves, and every evening to watch the sunset. When I was old enough to walk and run, she took me with her, and taught me to swim as well. Father did not care for the water -- he was like the great cats he raised in so many ways -- but he loved to watch us frolicking and to sit with us in the evenings under the moonlight.
Then there was the night I will never forget. I was still a child, but tall enough now to run through the forest with my cousins, and I spent less time with my parents, as was proper. But still I joined her for her morning swim, and sometimes I came for the sunset as well.
That night I came to the sea later than was my custom, and the sun had already sunk beneath the waves. The White Lady rode high in the sky, casting a soft glow over the scene, while dark clouds piled up on the horizon, the sign of a coming storm. A small knot of people were gathered by the shore in the moonlight, and over the brisk wind I could hear sharp voices and harsh words.
"what's wrong?" I shouted in my childish voice, "What's happened?" The adults paid me no heed.
"This is all your doing, Izarrak Coldwind," came Grandmother Lily's voice in a grating tone I had never heard before, cold, angry, accusing. "If you had not taken her away from us--" The rising wind tore the words from her mouth and I could not hear the rest. One of my aunts scooped me up and took me back to her house in the village. Somehow I knew without understanding, and I began to scream against the wind, against the night, against the knowledge I did not want.
It was not until the next day that I heard. My mother had swum out to sea and never returned.
Where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?
Though I had the facts of my mother's death, the truth of it was harder to discern. There was little doubt that the storm or a riptide had carried her off beyond her depth, but the question remained: had she done it on purpose?
I always felt that she would not have left my father and me of her own will, though why she would have entered the water at such a time, I cannot say. I always thought she would have seen the undertow as merely her fate and gone home to Elune in peace, in the sea she loved. Sometimes we believe what we must.
Grandmother Lily blamed my father for the death of her daughter Asphodel and has not forgiven him to this day. Eventually he left the area altogether, but for many years he remained in the cottage he had built for my mother.
After my mother's death, I went to live with her sister Calla's family. Our clan is matriarchal, and we followed the usual Kaldorei custom of raising the children communally, so it was natural that I would live with my aunt and not my father. Her daughter Izarrit and I were of an age and became fast friends.
Our kinship terms do not render well into Common; too many of them must be translated as "cousin," but that does not convey the degrees of closeness. Izarrit might be described as a sister-cousin; she was the daughter of my mother's sister. This is the closest relationship in our clan after mother and sister themselves. On the other hand, a father's brother's son would hardly be seen as kin at all, since he would not be living with the clan.
The village children ran as a group, boys and girls together, but when they came of age the boys would leave to seek their fortunes. Girls often left to seek their fortunes as well, but they expected to return when they were ready to raise a family. All the men of the village were the mates of the aunts and sisters.
Izarrit and I were inseparable during our youth. We raced through the forest like wild deer. We wrestled in the long grass, where I went down to defeat more often than not. We snuck down to my father's cottage in the evenings to play with the nightsaber cubs. We went everywhere together except to the sea, the one thing my father and grandmother agreed upon. We laughed and wept and fought, and so together we grew into young maidens.
One afternoon there was a great stir. Malfurion Stormrage was passing through the land with a troop of druids. They were heading to the barrows on Mount Hyjal to enter the Emerald Dream, but first they wanted to see the areas around Hyjal's feet once more. Auberdine was situated near the place where the Well of Eternity had been, between the ruined cities of Bashel'Aran and Ameth'Aran, and to get there Archdruid Stormrage would pass near our village. There was great excitement and everyone turned out to watch the solemn druids pacing by with measured steps.
With them was High Priestess Tyrande Whisperwind, spending as much time as she could with her lover Malfurion before he went into the barrows for possibly thousands of years. The sight of the gallant face she put on said something to my maiden heart, and after that day that I spent much time wandering alone among the trees, dreaming romantic thoughts of green dragons and druids and Tyrande's sad, brave face.
Nearly every afternoon Izarrit and I retreated to our favorite tree. We could lie comfortably in its massive limbs and spend the sleepy part of the day napping or talking among the rustling leaves.
"what will you do when you come of age, Thel?" This was a frequent topic of conversation. "I'm going to be a Sentinel!"
"You always say that, Izzie" I would answer, half awake, "Let me go back to sleep."
"Because it's true! You should be a Sentinel with me -- we would be the best they ever had."
While I was always tempted to do whatever Izarrit was doing, I knew that the regimented life of a Sentinel would not suit me. My future must involve lore and druidic magic, and a close tie to the natural world. And above all, freedom. Yet I knew not how to make this come to pass. I only knew that I did not know, and this was how I usually answered. But this time, my answer was different.
"I think I will go up to Nighthaven and see what I may see," I said at last, to Izarrit's great wonder. And so it was that in due time I came to be a lorekeeper for the Cenarian Circle.
Where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?
#14205619 Sep 07, 2019 at 04:41 PM · Edited 4 days ago
Izarrit and I came of age when, finally, as it seemed to us, the Elders declared that we were fit to pursue an adult life. Izarrit was eager and impatient to begin her career with the Sentinels, and before many months had passed, she was gone.
I, on the other hand, lingered for many turns of the seasons, as if reluctant at the last to leave the idyll that had been my life in the village. It was acceptable for me to stay, of course, but I could not settle upon any task for hand or mind. I spent my time helping my aunt prepare the meals or watching over my young cousins as they played, but mostly I wandered about the forest, which had an autummal quality for me without Izarrit's vibrant energy.
I found that I preferred most of all to be alone with my father's great cats. Nightsabers are long-lived, and most of my father's cats knew me since my childhood. I would search through the edges of the forest to find out the nest of the newest litter. The mother never seemed to mind my presence, and would permit me to nestle in with the cubs as I had done when a child. There in the furry silence, sitting cross-legged with the tiny cubs' paws scratching my legs and their rough little tongues licking my hands, I felt content. Here was family.
Once such afternoon I was leaning against the trunk of a large tree with my eyes closed against the warm sunshine. The cubs were bigger now, and they wrestled at my feet rather than seeking to climb into my lap. The mother lay in a low branch of the tree, dozing, content to let me watch over her brood. As I sat, a shadow fell over my face, and I opened my eyes to see my father Izarrak standing over me.
"So," he said without any preamble, "you will leave the village soon."
"Yes, soon," I replied, feeling annoyed. "You know I will leave soon. Why do you come to tell me this?"
He sat down beside me with an easy motion, and leaned against my tree so that we both looked ahead instead of at one another. After a long moment, he said, "I have come to say farewell."
"I am not leaving today, father," I said, with a touch of my annoyance showing through.
"No, but I am," he replied simply. He clicked his fingers and the cubs came over, squirming to be the closest to him. "I am leaving, and I wanted to see my daughter one last time."
My eyes filled with tears upon suddenly realizing he would not always be down at the cottage by the sea whenever I wanted to talk to him, and my mind crowded with questions. If I did not ask now, they would never be answered.
"Father, how is it that you and my mother were never hand-fasted?" I asked.
"Your mother and I..." he began, "Well, I loved your mother dearly but she knew I was not the marrying kind." He smiled as if at the memory of her. "Hand-fasting would not have changed anything between us."
"Then why-- why did she swim out to sea and never come back?" I said it all in a rush, the question that had been in my heart since that terrible day. I felt myself a child again, lost and afraid. "Grandmother always says..." I stopped when I saw the grief in his face.
"Yes, your grandmother always says," he repeated with a bitter look to his eyes. "The truth is, we can never know what is in someone's heart, and whether the burden they bear is too heavy. We can only love each other and hope it is enough."
He turned to me now, looking at me face-to-face. "This is what I came to say, my daughter. You are a woman now, and it is time for you to make your way in the world." He stopped, sighed, and got to his feet in the same easy motion with which he had sat down. "it is time for us both to move on from here."
He reached down to take my hand and pulled me to my feet. We stood facing each other, and he put his hands on my shoulders with a tender look. "You have her eyes, you know," he said, and looked at me for a long moment.
"I know you wish to study druidism, and I wish you well with it," he went on. "But whatever they tell you in the City of the Druids, never forget that you have the Gift with the beasts. Whatever happens, it will be there for you." He pulled me into a warm embrace, then whistled sharply.
A gangly long-legged adolescent nightsaber loped into view, and came up to us purring and weaving between our legs. It was Sylvester, always one of my favorites.
"Take him with you, so you are never without a home or a companion," my father said. "And wherever you go, walk tall under the moon, my daughter."
He squeezed my shoulders and turned from me then, walking through the trees as silently and gracefully as the great cats he loved. I knew he would take whichever of the sabers with him that were ready to leave. The others would make their own way, for they are not like dogs who need a master to care for them. I would never see him again.
I watched him go, then made my way to the village with Sylvester at my side, the great-grandfather of him who walks at my side today. That night I told my aunt Calla that I was leaving for Nighthaven in the morning, and began packing the few things I would take with me.
On the morrow I was gone.
Where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?
Everyone did a great job in raid yesterday <3 Keep it up.