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Kexti

Mists of Helheim

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It had been some time since Armagh had ventured into the ancestral burial grounds. The cataclysm had been unkind to his people, to say nothing of their own predilection of violence. He had come to...he was not certain. The centaur centered, and stopped.

Kerala's form manifested silently behind the glowing shards of a crystal formation. She was near enough to spook the intruder, but just out of reach should his reaction be physically violent. She stepped out into view at the same time that she called out to him.
 

"Lost, runt?"
 

Armagh started and looked to the shadowy figure. "No runt am I." He puffed up his chest and stamps his hooves. "I am Armagh, son of Kotarg, and I have come to seek wisdom of my ancestors and you do not frighten me."
 

Kerala cocked her head, taking in the centaur's appearance and posture. She looks for indications of clan membership.

"You speak well enough,"
she said, surprise evident in her tone, "but you must be stupid, to come here, or lost. Your ancestors have nothing for you."

 

"No, they have everything I could need, ghost." The centaur trembled a bit, unsure. He appeared to be Magram, or a sect thereof. "Are you a cherished ancestor, or something else?"
 

Kerala laughed. "You lie, little runt. You are dry of blood (terrified), I can see the quiver in your limbs. Turn back, lost one, before you find the spirits you seek and they make you one of them."
 

"No. I seek their knowledge. Seek to correct their course." He grunted, taking a step back.
 

Kerala eyed the boy. "What secrets do you think they can share with you?" She advanced the distance he gave up.
 

He took another step back. "Why they fought the wars they did. Why they wield the magic they do. Our traditions are flawed, and have split like rivers from the source."
 

Kerala cast her senses out to see if perhaps she was mistaken, and this lone centaur is not alone? But he was. Nothing living or dead followed his footsteps.
 

"How did you get through the Maraudine? Who are you?"
 

He grabbed a nearby bone. "As I said, I am Armagh, son of Kotarg, and I have come to seek wisdom of my ancestors and you do not frighten me. I have done as many have, and I walked in."
 

Kerala's form darkened, and she leaped at Armagh, her expression furious and full of hate. He made a clumsy swing with his improvised weapon, a meager strike of lean skill. Kerala easily ducked away from the swing and made as if to backhand Armagh. She stopped before contact might be made.

"Dead,"
she announced. "Tell me again how you will survive to ask anything of the spirits roaming these caverns."

 

"May your prey be infested," he cursed. "Bravery must see me through. And why do you rest in these tombs?"
 

Kerala ignored the question again, highly amused that this centaur who is not afraid of her clearly just nearly soiled himself. "You are weak. Begone. You waste your time here. The khans wander this tomb, yes, but they cannot see you. They will not hear you. They cannot help you." She waved dismissively, and backed off a step, half-turning away.
 

"Then what magic has called me here? I heard a voice calling me to my ancestors."

 


 

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"Desert heat-dreams perhaps? I have certainly not called you. You are disturbing my rest." Kerala cocks her head at the centaur. "Be about your quest quickly then," she told him. Her gesture invites him deeper into the tunnels. Even if her tone had been suffering or maybe slightly mocking. Her opinion of the centaur's errand has been made clear.

Armagh raised his chest proudly, carrying the bone in a loose grip. He descended into the tunnels with Kerala. "Are you with the circle of the great father?"

"I heard a voice on the wind, that sounded of stones..."
 

As Armagh rounded the next corner, he found himself alone and speaking to no one.
 

The centaur rubbed course dust on his hands, and continued his aimless wandering among crystals. He's surprisingly deft at avoiding combat.
 

Kerala was not gone, only no longer making the effort to appear. She followed, accompanied by a spherical essence. Kethrenorean didn't have the skill yet to appear as he willed, even in the Dream. She answered his questions though as if he spoke them to her.

"He won't find us. Even if he could get that far, I don't intend to let him. ... because I'm curious. Well look at him! He wears the green, but he didn't know me. An exile, maybe? Hes Magrami, but not.... . I'm going to watch for a minute. ...don't call me that."

 

The centaur continued his scramble, and took weary rest by a pool. Luck had seem him this far, but he grew weary. His hand bled on a sharp crystal and he cracked it off. He embedded it into the earth before him, and focused.

 

Kerala watched, intrigued.
 

He grunted and kicked over the crystal. "This was pointless. Now I am lost. We are lost." He sidled to the ground and grunted.
 

Kerala spoke behind the centaur. "Well that was fast. Do you always give up so easily?"
 

"My will is at its end, spirit. I have come so far and can't go further," he sighs. "I had hoped to hear the voice again."
 

"The one that sounded of stones," Kerala murmured "Sounds like a Gelkis pet. Perhaps you should go to their cavern instead of this one. I am not lost. I can lead you out from here."
 

"No...not Gelkis...even older than that..." He seems dejected. "But I will accept your guidance."

 

Kerala didn't hear the mumbled second comment, and became annoyed. "Right, so let's just listen to mysterious voices from the deep places of the earth. How could THAT go wrong in any way? After all, it's not as if the entire tauren race theoretically fell from grace by doing that. Or that the bastard spawn of a stone princess happened to be set loose on the world tantruming, and now some lost little runt is here whining like a packrunner pup." She snorted.
 

"My heritage is of the wild places of this world. Yet we are weak for it. I know little of Tauren save that they were driven almost to destruction when I was a child. Then the Horde came..."


He waited to follow Kerala.
 

Kerala surveyed the centaur. He's stubborn, if nothing else. Sometimes that is enough. "Fine. You've come this far. I can show you the supposed tomb of Zaetar. Rumors say some adventurers came and murdered the Stonemother's daughter here. Perhaps it was she who called you. Stay close, there are still some simple elementals, plus the basilisks and lashers. This may be a holy place for your people, but it has meaning for me as well."  She offers a hand to help  Armagh to his feet, and this time there is no disappearing funny business.

He walks respectfully behind her and bows his head. He smells foul, as centaur do. "What meaning?"

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Kerala stopped. "Look around you." She gestured at the majesty of inner Maraudon, with sunlight filtering down through the crack of skyline high up the stone walls, with giant beautiful flowers and clear waters that turtles swim in and hydra, at the waterfalls, at the upper pathways where creatures of stone still do whatever it is they do. "What do you see?"

He pondered this. "I see a holy place. Revered by my ancestors. Haunted by them. The grave of my sires."
 

"What are you truly, spirit?" he asked.
 

"Certainly not an ancestor, nor even revered." She continued along toward the place where the Stone Princess fell. "I am called a druid. I go where I please, and this place pleases me."
 

"But you are a tauren...Your Horde drove us to this place. For that I am strangely thankful." Armagh looked around the cavern. "These voices speak to our women. Not men. I hope through the power of this place can teach me power I can call my own."
 

"Why?"
 

"So I can be strong, and so I can lead my people. Our way..." He stopped. "We won't survive it. We must listen to our ancestors. Our first ancestors."

The tauren crossed her arms and waits to see what Armagh will do now that he is here.

"Power from without is flawed, and itself a weakness. True strength comes from within and no where else." Kerala stops at the bottom of a rocky span where there is a large verdant clearing (where the princess roamed and died). She gestured to the place. "I support your ideals, young one. I have stood where you stand. I hope you have better luck than I."
 

He kneels to the spill, and puts his fingers into the thick earth. "I do not want the power of the elements," he says, quietly. "I just want the power to repair these burnt Plains, or to fly away, like those elves and tauren.
 

"But I only hear the voice of stones."

"You." Kerala states flatly. "You want to be a druid?"

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She snorted. After a minute, though, her horns tilted as she stared at the ground.

"Do you know, druids were myths among my people when I was a child? When we were young, the most mystical magical things we aspired to be were shaman. My sister always lied and said she could almost hear the rocks speak, and the waters. She tried so hard to be what she was not. A shaman. A druid. Do you know what she is, what she truly is? Neither of those things, at all."
She looked over at Armagh. "If you hear the rocks, if you are not lying to yourself or afflicted of the mind, you will find the way. If that is who you are."

"I found my way here with a bit of guidance...did I not?" He shuffled and settled down to the floor, and closed his eyes to consider his circumstances. "They say the satyrs have begun attacking the world."
 

"Satyrs have always been an evil species corrupting things." Kerala doesn't point out that centaur have, too. No need to state the obvious.
 

"I hope my people can fight back, in some way. The druids have retreated from the wilds...but our eldest father is a druid. Zaetar was son of Cenarius, after all. It...is curious we did not follow that path."
 

"'Curious'... that's the strangest way I've heard yet to refer to murder. And let me tell you, I'm Grim. They are creative in that particular endeavor."
 

"You're what?" He asked, perplexed more so than denying.
 

"Grim. It's... nevermind. What I mean is- the centaur murdered their father. So the story goes. It's no mystery to me why the sons of Zaetar cannot hear the wilds, for they cannot listen. Look around you, Armagh, at what your people have done to the land here. Everywhere trodden by centaur hooves withers and dies. And they don't care. If you do..." Kerala shrugged. "you are a rare creature."

 

"It was not we who did this. It was elemental forces. We have the power of both the wilds and elements in our veins. We can be so much stronger if we stopped to think for-" he curses. "I did not even listen and yet I hear. And here I hear nothing at all. Why?:
 

"Maybe you followed me too far. I never claimed to know what I am doing. Perhaps the voice is mad you listened to me instead?" Kerala looked back up the stone archway in the direction they came. "I suppose if you heard it before, and don't now, it could be that I've led you astray. I imagine I'm not well liked by many spirits. My best guess is to go back to where you last heard it and listen again. I won't intrude this time."
 

Armagh nodded vaguely and curled into a pile to sleep or meditate.
 

Kerala sighed,  confused. She took a few steps back from the centaur, fading as she did. The lushness of Maraudon doesn't change much from reality to the Dream, but in the Dream her companion isn't invisible. He smiles at her.

"You didn't call him, did you?"
She asked Keth. The answer is no, of course. She lead them away to keep her word and give the odd centaur some time and space without her interference.

 

The centaur shifted uncomfortably in his slumber. He murmured. "Why are the satyrs here?"
 

A blade raked across his throat in the shadows.
 

"Dan'binoir Quel?" questions the bloodstained murderer.

 

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The figure uses a chipped moonglaive, like a warden would. They wear a dark, travelstained cloak. Under it, a bandolier holds several shimmering vials.

They look around, and continue searching for Kerala through the day...

 

Kerala eventually gets antsy. Even though the centaur said he was magrami and didn't trigger any bad vibes in her instincts, he's still a stranger. She makes her way back to ask him if he heard the voice again in her absence, trying to think of what she'll say to convince him to leave.
 

Well aware of her own tendency to strike first and ask questions later, the druid materializes a little distance away and calls out to the sleeping centaur to wake him. "Armagh?"
 

The centaur has been cleanly killed by a single slash across the throat.
 

Seeing this instantly sets her on edge, and she looks around trying to sense if there is still someone in the area, or perhaps any signs of a trap or ambush.
 

She sees a faint green glimmer as if from a gem.
 

The figure steps lightly out from the shadows. A pendant hangs from her hand. "Dan'binoir?"
 

Kerala keeps her distance. "Did you do this?" she demands.
 

The figure twists her head to the side and peers, as if listening. She nods her head.
 

"Why?!"
 

"Xaxus." She has a strange lilt to her voice, and steps forward, slowly. She keeps the gem extended. "Falah'thas Shal'dorei mirt-talniai."
 

She gives it a gentle shake at Kerala.

 

Kerala does not like this at all. "I don't know what you're saying." she announces, just in case that wasn't clear from her expression. She backpedals until it seems as if the woman is trying to give her the gem. She's got some experience with warlocks and soul shards, but this is green... she hesitates though, trying to decide whether or not accepting such a thing is dangerous.
 

The person is heavily shrouded buty seemingly elven. You don't believe her to be overly tainted by fel...but the arcane suffuses her.
 

"What is that?" Kerala still doesn't reach for the gem yet.
 

The woman insistently holds it out and advances on Kerala. The Broken Ring Blade at her side held loose in her grip.
 

The Kerala of a few months ago might have put up more objection. She might have fought a random killer showing up out of no where. She might have done something different, but the Kerala here now thinks along the lines of 'what the hell, why not', says "Fine," with a shrug, and decides to accept this gem, whatever it is.
 

The elf tugs a bit on the hanging pendant as Kerala pulls it, but with a wince lets it yield. A voice enters Kerala's mind.
 

<Hello, little druid.>
 

Kerala almost drops the thing. She glares at the strange elf woman, for a second thinking the voice was hers but... there's something about it... maybe familiar?
 

"What is this?"
 

<My soulstone. I didn't want to get trapped in the Dream. Fortunately, Ilduria managed to find me.>
 

Kerala manages to resist a pretty powerful urge to fling the gem, no the soulstone, away from her. "You're supposed to be dead." She looks at the elf "Ilduria, is it? Why are you HERE?" Back to Xelkorak "How are you here? What do you want with me?"  Kerala doesn't do well with being confronted with yet more proof (after Konro) that ghosts and spirits are very real.
 

"And why is HE dead?!" she demands, pointing in the direction of Armagh's corpse.
 

<I am dead, little druid.> The thought seems clipped. <I couldn't survive that entanglement with you and your...friends? Which brings me to the topic at hand.>

 

<It would seem that Ilduria is in need of a favor from you.>
 

<One of the Horde elves who stood against me was apparently quite helpful in Suramar. This surprises me very little. But what did surprise me is that Ilduria knew of him. And that I did as well.>
 

<This one has been taken.>
 

Kerala blinks. Thus far she has not been to the Broken Isles and so Suramar is a foreign term. "Who?"
 

<The fat one with the purple shirt. The one that I killed. That one that you somehow managed to salvage in a manner I can barely fathom.>
 

There is only one elf to fit that description. Kexti. "Where has he been taken?"
 

<I do not know. But for Ilduria, and the Shal'dorei, I implore you to help. You could find his essence, given your familiarity with it.>
 

"His... ESSENCE?" Kerala pauses, peering at Ilduria. "What do you want with him? And you still have not answered my other questions. I suppose with the Vult... with Xelkorak's involvement how you found me is answered, but why kill the boy?"
 

Ilduria simply looks confused. <She is very clever but not in speech. She does not ken your tongue.>
 

<He was helping her people. His absence was noted. And a former guard was suspect at best to the Insurrection.>
 

<Ilduria has traveled at great risk to find you.>
 

Kerala listens while staring at Ilduria, judging for herself as best she can by stance and nonverbal cues the truthfulness of the Vulture's mental explanation.
 

Ilduria seems patient but a little shaky. The vials at her chest are nearly empty. Her only weapon is a clearly stolen moonglaive.
 

"Hmm. And what about you? You're going to help her find the elf that you hate?"

To Ilduria, Kerala points firmly at the centaur's corpse and frowns, then jerks her hands in a pretty universal 'what the hell?' gesture.
 

Ilduria bows cursorily. <My appreciation of lack thereof is irrelevant. I do this for her.>

Ilduria speaks confidently but quietly in Shal'dorei.

She gestures to the corpse then the cavern.
 

"What did she say?"
 

<The savage was distracting you and time is of the essence. More or less.>
 

Kerala's jaw tightens for just a moment. The tauren steps over to Armagh's body. She doesn't look at his face, but drags his torso in line with his body, then steps to his belly. She lifts front and rear leg pairs and uses them as leverage to easily roll the centaur's body over the edge. The hydras and gators will take care of him.
 

"Fine. Let's go then. I will help you find Kex'ti."
 

Ilduria, seemingly understanding, nods. Then she stands for a moment, thinking.


 

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