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(( My thread for Resileaf's Legion stories. ))

The incessant buzzing of the airship had faded long ago from Resileaf's ears. The flight from the Broken shore had gone without any issues. They flew back in Stormwind's direction, and the elf could see that everyone appeared to feel the same. Everyone was silent, even the wounded as they were tended to by the priests.

No... They were not silent. She just couldn't hear them anymore. She couldn't hear anything because her mind was still filled by the screams of agony of Varian Wrynn as Gul'dan tortured him to death. His screams had resonated even above the thunder of the fel lightning that crashed around them. Even above the rotors of the airship as it fled the scene. Above the screams of rage of Genn Greymane as the King's life was extinguished. Or maybe she was still hearing the screams of Tirion Fordring as a massive demon destroyed his Light barrier before the assembled armies. He too was gone... He too was another victim of the Legion, another hero gone forever from the world. Or maybe those were the screams of all the soldiers who perished during the initial assault. Those too wounded to continue fighting, who had to be left behind. Those who fell from the airship when the fel reaver grabbed it like a toy. Maybe those were her own screams of fear, of terror when death stared her in the face. When she herself hung to her dear life to the airship, watching with disbelief the ridge that the Horde had abandonned, sealing their defeat. She had truly started to believe then that she would die without ever knowing why they had left them to die.

She couldn't tell anymore what she heard. Maybe everything at the same time. Maybe she just imagined them. It wouldn't have been surprising that she had gone deaf from the battle. It was like every other moment had someone yelling an order in her ear, or the explosion of a spell or siege weapon happening near her. She felt dulled to emotions, unable to react to anything near her. She did not even notice that they were now hovering above the docks again. They had arrived, and the wounded were being shipped off to the cathedral. Some of the survivors were staring at the horizon and pacing aimlessly. Perhaps they were already looking forward to payback? Or were they also in disbelief about the situation? She could see a lot of survivors with thousand yard stares sitting on the deck, much like she was.

... But eventually, she had to leave. She mechanically walked over to the side of the airship, looking down to the docks far below, and then whistled for her hippogryph. The beast, which she had left at the docks before taking the ship that took the reinforcements to the Broken shore, recognized her voice, and flew up to the airship to find her. She mounted it wordlessly, and flew back down into the city. The news of Varian's death had already spread throughout the city. The trade district was gloomier than it had ever been. Perhaps fittingly, a heavy rain fell over the entire city, adding to the feeling of desperation that filled the air. Even the sky wept for the fallen king.

Resileaf found herself soon by the edge of the lake within the city. She did not remember why she had directed her mount there. Maybe to escape the cries of mourning from the citizens? Or the screams in her head? She sat by the edge of the lake, not bothering to care about the muddy ground. It was the least of her concerns. What she wanted now... Was peace. She closed her eyes and waited.

She needed to silence the screams, just as she had in the wars before. The first battle was always the hardest, when the brutality of your enemy was laid bare before you. When the ashes fell and the first fires were extinguished, this was when the time came to strike back, when her heart was hardened and her resolve strengthened. It had happened during the Third war when the Warsong orcs rampaged across the forests of Ashenvale and slew Cenarius. It had happened when the Horde had destroyed the school her daughter had studied at. It would happen again now. When next she fought, the demons would know the fear of ten thousand years of battle experience unleashed against them.

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The wind howled over the Barrens as lightning and thunder raged in the sky. The plains were covered by the turmoil of the storm. Animals and humanoid alike hide in their lodgings to escape from the tempest, hoping to be spared by its ravages. But it was no natural storm, far from it. The sky was streaked by green lightning as fel fireballs rained from the sky, launched by an immense ship that loomed just under the clouds, themselves tainted by a foul green color. The Burning Legion was invading, and the Crossroads were at the center of it. They said that the eye of the storm was the calmest part of a hurricane, but in this case, it was the deadliest.

Upon the edge of Ashenvale and the Barrens stood a squad of Night elf sentinels, armed and ready for combat, awaiting the advance of the demonic invaders. They sat on branches, crouched on small hills with their bows drawn, sat huddled against their nightsaber mounts, nervously scanning the horizon for the first sign of demons to come. At their head, Resileaf stood motionless, hood obscuring her face from sight. Everyone was silent and hidden, as it was the strength of Night elves to keep to the shadows and surprise their enemies when they least expected it.

Heads perked up when on the dusty road appeared a duo of nightsabers, upon their backs the scouts that Resileaf had sent to get a report on the situation. The Priestess of the Moon stepped off into the open to signal to them to come to her, which they did a few minutes later. They dismounted and saluted before her, speaking their reports in low voices.
"Commander, we have caught sight of the Crossroads. It is under heavy siege by the Legion's capital ship flying above. It constantly bombards the city with felfire, and demons are summoned within the streets themselves to attack the inhabitants. Furthermore, we have located several areas in the region that have distinct signs of fel corruption appearing. We think that the Legion intends to summon there the same structure that have been seen to appear from thin air in Azshara."
Resileaf nodded. This was pretty much as she suspected would happen.
"What about the defenders? How are they holding up?"
"They are in great peril, but fighting the best they can. Mercenaries and heroes both have sent their support to the Crossroads to protect it, including Alliance ones."

This gave Resileaf a bit of a pause. The Alliance aided the Horde even now? Surely the news had spread by now that the Horde had abandonned the battlefield in the critical moment, forcing the Alliance to also retreat to prevent being overrun. This retreat was directly responsible for Varian's sacrifice. To hear that some in the Alliance still attempted to aid the Horde in their time of need was surprising, to say the least.
But then again, things had been exactly like that before. Resileaf made her decision then.
"Sentinels! Prepare to ride to the Crossroads' assistance!"
There were surprised gasps and murmurs. Protecting the Horde? Almost every elf had a grudge against them for their ceaseless attacks on Ashenvale in the past, so Resileaf understood their hesitation. But there was no time to hesitate now. Not with the Legion attempting to gain a foothold on Azeroth.

One of the Sentinels had the courage to speak up then.
"Commander Ravenwing! Surely you must not be serious about this... This is the Horde! They have caused nothing but death and destruction since their arrival on Kalimdor! And just a few days ago on the Broken shore, they abandonned us! How can you even consider cooperating with them! Let the Legion wipe them out, so that we no longer have to worry about their attacks again!"
Resileaf did not answer for a moment as she glanced up in the sky, to the Legion's capital ship... It seemed to be moving across the sky now, launching bolts of felfire over the landscape. The land itself was beginning to warp as from the corrupted ground burst giant pillars, summoned upon this world by bolts of green lightning.
"Watch, Sentinel... Watch the corruption of our enemies spreading... The Horde has caused us much harm in the past, that is true. I know that as well as anyone else here."
If not better, she also thought.
"But this is bigger than our grudges against the Horde, as much as they deserve it. If we remain idle and watch the Legion take a foothold on our world, it is as though we had joined the Legion ourselves. We will be responsible for the destruction of our lands, of our people, of our families... Know this, times are changing. This is the biggest invasion the Burning has ever launched since the War of the Ancients. No longer can we be satisfied in our own ancient blessings that have protected our world from harm. No longer can we remain insular and fight on our own. We must look back to the Third War, to our first combined battle with the Alliance and the Horde. We must remember the sacrifices commited that day, because we will face a force even more powerful than back then."

There was another pause as the Sentinel thought over Resileaf's words, then tried to argue against her again.
"But Commander, is it... Is it truly something we should consider? Fighting with the Horde? Cooperating with Demon hunters? What could ever be next? What could justify these terrible actions?"
Resileaf waved her hand at the scene unfolding before them. The appearance of more demons upon the Barrens.
"This is what awaits this entire world if we do nothing. They will not stop here, and we will not be able to stop them either. They will burn through Ashenvale. They will corrupt Teldrassil. They will enter Darnassus and kill our entire families. We will not condemn our families because of our pride and grudges! If it can make you feel better, we do not fight for the Horde. We fight for Azeroth first, then for the Alliance. We win for Azeroth first, then for the Alliance."
Silence fell again... The Sentinels looked to Resileaf for more, because they all know that there was one more thing to say... Finally, in a low voice, the Sentinel asked what they were all thinking.
"Commander... Who will we die for?"

Flashes appeared in Resileaf's mind. Katelle's face when she had told her about Myaka's death. The pain and sorrow she had seen in her. Rorrek's pain-ridden expression during the latest meeting while Brianna was wounded, cursed and bedridden... When she spoke again, it was softly, painfully.
"Sentinel, we do not go out there to die. We fight to protect those we care for, but under no circumstances must you think that dying is an acceptable outcome of the coming battle. Too many people will be hurt to hear of it. The pain of losing someone you care about... It is beyond anything you can imagine. Do not force this pain upon those who care about you. We fight today, so that everyone returns home to their families... Even the Horde. This is not our last stand. We WILL win this war."
The Sentinel gave a final nod, then bowed to Resileaf, whispering an apology. The rest of the squad immediately went to work to prepare themselves for the ride into the Barrens. Resileaf herself mounted on her personal hippogryph and drew her bow.

She turned to her Sentinels to watch them mount up.
"Now to me, Sentinels! We ride to show the demons why it is that we have always defeated them in the past! Let them hear the whistling of your arrows and feel the sting of your glaives! Destroy them all!"
Her hippogryph let out a piercing screech and flew in the air as the Sentinels let out warcries to ride out in the Barrens and cut a bloody swathe in the demons' ranks.

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Resileaf slumped against the wall and slowly let herself slide down to a sitting position, sighing tiredly and rubbing a sore spot in her side. Another Legion invasion thwarted, and thankfully to little cost to her troops. The battle for the Barrens was still ongoing... Oh, it hadn't been days of unending invasions, of course. The Legion sent an invasion force every once in a while, sometimes less than four hours between each, but it often gave her and her troops some time to recover from the fighting. She and her Sentinels had been given lodgings in the Crossroads' inn by Overlord Saurfang as thanks for their continued support, with express orders to the Horde military and population to bring no harm to them.

Despite this, the majority of the Sentinels remained among themselves so as not to tempt any enterprising thug to try and pick a fight with them. Incidents had been kept to a minimum, and the Night elves had been surprised that they had been given a rather warm welcome. It appeared that either through genuine gratitude or fear of reprisal by Overlord Saurfang, the Horde had given very proper thanks to them, bringing plentiful rations, and particularly cold water, something that was very important in the killing heat of the Barrens.

Resileaf looked over her assembled Sentinels, and found herself sighing inwardly again. A quarter of her troops had been lost in the early days of the invasion. Many of her Sentinels had never fought a demon before, and had been taken off guard by their fighting style. Half of those Sentinels had been killed on the battlefield, the others were too wounded to fight. Some, who had lost limbs or had to have them amputated to stop a corrupting wound from afflicting them further, were crippled for life. Despite the best priest and shaman healing magic that could be brought, a limb could not be regrown unless you were a troll.

That was why those breaks in the fighting were so important. This was very tiring fighting, not only due to its frequency, but also because the Legion sent incredibly powerful troops in an attempt to overwhelm the defenders of Azeroth. Resileaf had received news of fighting in Azshara, mainly before the gates of Orgrimmar, in Tanaris, putting the city of Gadgetzan in danger, in Dun Morogh, besieging Kharanos and Ironforge, in Westfall, to cripple Stormwind's food basket, and in Hillsbrad, to attack the Forsaken of Tarren Mill. The death toll, although thankfully not as massive as it could have been thanks to the efforts of heroes of the Alliance and the Horde, as well as the invaluable aid of the Illidari, was nonetheless steadily climbing. She had heard many a Legion commander bragging that their army was infinite, and that it was just a matter of time before they overwhelmed Azeroth.

There was truth to their words... But Resileaf felt confident anyway. Other reports indicated that the Kirin Tor was completely focused on the task to beat back the Legion. Dalaran had been moved near the tower of Karazhan, the Council of six was debating to allow the Horde back into the city to keep a concerted front united against the Legion... There was hope. A fleeting smile found itself on her lips as she leaned her head back against the wall. She couldn't relax, but she could rest for a bit... Until the next attack, she needed only a few hours to recover her stre-

The door suddenly burst open, and an Orc grunt entered the room breathlessly.
"Sentinel Commander! The Legion has returned! They are attacking the Crossroads again!"
Resileaf's eyes snapped open and she looked at the orc in surprise.
"What? Already?! It's barely been an hour!"
Despite her protests, she quickly began to gather her arms, and the other Sentinels were quick to follow.
"Yes, I know! It took us completely off-guard! But our far seers are reporting that they are increasing the frequency of their attacks! And they are attacking Dalaran!"

Resileaf froze in place and looked up from her preparations as a malevolent chill went down her spine. Dalaran was under attack... At about the same time, her guildstone crackled to life, and she heard the cries for help of several members of the Empire who were in Dalaran even now.
Her fists clenched and she found herself gritting her teeth. Just as she had started to hope, the Legion had appeared to read her thoughts just to then dash them violently. If Dalaran fell, then...
She looked back to her Sentinels. They were not in a good shape. They were drained and tired from the constant fighting, and had barely had any time to recover from the last attack.

Resileaf went to one of her scouts.
"Ride back to Ashenvale. Request reinforcements from the Sentinel army. Tell them we need fresher troops to rotate to. Ride the fastest nightsaber we have, and do not stop for anything. Quickly, before the Legion's attack spreads through the Barrens again!"
The woman nodded, and left the room quickly while the other Sentinels assembled and lined up before Resileaf. She turned to them.
"There is no time to rest, Sentinels! But do not let your fatigue slow you down! Take a deep breath, drink a last flask of water, and focus on the task at hand. We will show the Legion that no matter how many times they attack, they will do nothing more than strengthen our resolve!"
As one, the Sentinels shouted an 'Aye!', and they followed Resileaf outside of the inn, to form ranks with the Horde troops once more, just as the Legion airship floated above them and started launching fel fireballs towards the ground, troops teleporting into the city quickly afterwards. Warcries of 'For the Horde!' and 'For the Alliance' were shouted through the streets, and the war began anew. Resileaf had a sinking feeling, however...

That it would get worse before it got better.

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Resileaf had felt terrible about leaving the front of the Barrens. She feared that disaster could strike while she was gone, that some of her troops could perish, that death was just around the corner.
Reinforcements had arrived. Sentinels from the Kaldorei army and druids from the Cenarion circle had both come to the aid of the Horde at the Crossroads. It was a mighty army, more than Resileaf had hoped for. With the demons so seemingly focused on attacking the Horde - perhaps as retaliation for their past transgressions? - the elves could remove some of the protection they used to have elsewhere. All for Azeroth, they made sure to tell the orcs, but no one had complained. There was more cooperation taking place than she thought possible.
It made Resileaf feel hopeful that they indeed had not abandonned them at the broken shore. Surely there was more to it than it seemed.

Leaving the Barrens was due to the Empire's weekly meetings. The commander who had come to take her place had insisted that Resileaf make her way to Stormwind to assist to it. Even if she was a commander herself, she was first and foremost a member of the Empire. Leaving while there was a lull in the fighting was not going to spell disaster after all.
Even if the meetings themselves were rarely eventful.

This one was no exception. There was the induction of a new recruit, a night elf tinker, from what she could guess, and the warlock Cymbidia joining the Keepers. Rorrek had handled it in an uncharacteristically cavalier way. For a man who, when he spoke, usually was so eloquent she could barely understand what he said, he had in two short sentences inducted her. Obviously, Brianna's wound had affected him deeply, and Resileaf could not blame him. In the midst of those ceaseless attacks, it seemed like a waste to meet every week in such a way. Perhaps it was, but unity was still important. If they stopped meeting, then they might as well not be an organization anymore.

There was also the matter of the demon hunter who watched the meeting for the second time in a row. Although everyone was free to watch, they usually did it openly, not sneaking from the second floor of a church. Not to mention, why would a demon hunter have any interest in the Empire in the first place? They were focused on fighting demons only, weren't they? She didn't seem hostile, but there was cause for curiosity on her motives.

Those were the thoughts swirling through her mind as she walked through Ironforge, her vision blurry and her footsteps uncertain. She was exhausted. The last attacks had barely given her any time to rest, and she couldn't remember when was the last time she had a full night of sleep. She had to stop every five minutes to lean against a wall, rub her eyes, try to keep fatigue out of her system in any way possible. She probably looked drunk, because most guards she passed by pointed discretely at her and spoke something in dwarven that she was pretty sure were mocking comments about not being able to hold her liquor. However, she was mostly left alone. They were not worried about a lone, drunk elf, and in those trying times, they probably understood the need for someone to drink.
If only drinking was all she did. She sure felt like she could use a mug sometimes. Anything to get her mind off of things...
"Is there someone with priest powers in Ironforge? We need someone at Councillor Smartgear's office!"

When Pralea's panicked call came on the guildstone, all fatigue was immediately left forgotten. She picked it up straight away and asked where to go. She rushed to the address she was given, and found the old gnome laying on the ground, clutching at his chest in pain, with Pralea kneeling next to him with a panicked look in her eyes. After a quick examination, the priestess understood that Tinox's heart was beating irregularly, symptoms that she believed was called a heart attack, an ailment that was for all intents and purposes unknown among Night elven society due to their extremely long lives. Although she did not know the exact reasons that caused it, she knew enough to understand how to treat it in the absence of a trained doctor.

Using her magic to dull the Councillor's pain, she instructed Pralea to cut his robes open so he could breath more easily, to move his body in a sitting position, then to fetch pain-reducing medecine while she kept her spell active. After a few tense minutes, Tinox's heart finally went back to beating normally and the pain left completely. It was all Resileaf could do to hide the shaking of her hands and the shallowness of her breath, and not just due to the nervousness of the situation. Casting magic was a tiring affair, and in her current state, it left her even worse for the wear. When she left Tinox in his office for the night, to sleep on a camp bed he had there, it took all Resileaf had not to pass out in the streets. Her eyes couldn't stay open, she constantly stumbled over her own feet, and pretty much everything that was in her way was an impassable obstacle.

Somehow, she found her way to the flight master of Ironforge and bought a passage for Menethil harbor. The dwarf showed concern and tried to keep her from leaving in her state, but she stubbornly refused, repeating that she would sleep on her boat to Kalimdor. After a back and forth of a few minutes like that, he finally accepted to let her go. She was soon in flight, the gryphon's powerful wings carrying her outside of Ironforge, into the cold air outside. The first breath of cold air was however filled with sulfur, results of the Legion's siege in Dun Morogh. The devastation was wide-reaching, with many places scorched with felfire. Resileaf could have seen everything, but her eyes were closed. The cold air and the gryphon's movements were not enough to keep her awake. She started sliding off her mount... And fell. She woke up with a start as she began freefalling off the gryphon, and the last thing she saw before oblivion swallowed her was the pure white of the snow under her.

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Wind howled at the summit of Ironforge mountain, blowing snow all over the slopes. Resileaf slowly opened her eyes, which was actually a surprise to her, considering the last thing she remembered was plummeting to her death. As her vision came back to her, she was welcomed by the orange glow of a nearby firecamp, crackling despite the wind. Sitting next to it was a short, hunched over figure covered by a green cape with a cowl. It turned to her as she stirred, and a dwarven voice addressed her.
"Ah! Ye finally awake, lass! Welcome back to the world of the living!"

The Night elf grunted a bit as she rubbed at her head and managed to give a better look to her surroundings. She was laying on a bedroll, in a small makeshift camp near the top of the mountains. She could see the spot she had fallen on not far away, as shown by the depression on the snow, so she had to figure she hadn't fallen from very high, and she could thank her survival for this. Well, half of it. The other half was sitting in front of her, holding a piece of meat on a stick over the fire. He was an old mountaineer, face creased with quantity of wrinkles, a long, white beard, and a large rifle held against his shoulder so it didn't fall in the snow. Although she couldn't see his lips well under his facial hair, she could tell he was smiling.

"I saw ya tumble from yer gryphon while ye were flyin' overhead. Good thing ol' Hormiir was here to help ye out, no?"
Resileaf sat up, feeling a little soreness in her muscles, but considering the alternative, she was very lucky.
"Y-yes, thank you. I'm sorry to have imposed on you. It looks like I must have... Slipped and passed out while flying."
The old dwarf started laughing heartily.
"Slipped an' passed out? Lassie, ya don't have ta lie to me! I shook you over when I got ta ye, and ya didn,t even stir! Thought ya were dead, but then ya let out that snore, and I saw yer face, and I can tell ya haven't slept fer days! Ya one o' those heroes who travel all o'er the place ta fight the Legion, no?"

Resileaf could only smile embarassingly at the dwarf's perceptiveness.
"Well... Not exactly. I do fight the Legion, but I'm part of the Sentinel army. I command a unit of Sentinels who have reinforced the Crossroads in the Barrens. I left my unit to attend to personal matters and was returning to them now, before I... Fell asleep, I guess. I had intended to rest on the ship from Menethil harbor to Kalimdor."
The old dwarf nodded as he pulled the stick away from the fire and smelled the meat over it, nodding in satisfaction at the smell that came back to him.
"Interesting. I didn't know ya elves had the intention of helping the Horde, ya know? Thought yer forests had suffered tae much fer it."
He handed the stick to Resileaf so she could eat what he had cooked, and she accepted it gratefully. It was grilled boar, and she found it to be quite to her taste.
"It may look like it... But we can't let the Legion get a foothold. Otherwise, everything we've worked for is pointless. They'll destroy our forests themselves."

The old dwarf nodded again and took a drink from a flask that she supposed was filled with beer.
"That's noble enough, lassie. Can't say I'd mind having a few of them Horde fighting alongside us rather than against us here in Dun Morogh. I been lucky ta just patrol the mountainside, but I can see them Legion ships flying about, opening portals and whatnot. Dangerous business, all that. At my age, ya can't go running around like crazy. Ya can't go around not sleepin' either! Someone of yer military experience, ya should know, I think!"
A wave of shame went over Resileaf. The dwarf was right, she had been too stubborn at the moment she should have been the most careful. How shameful it would have been to die from falling off her gryphon...
"I suppose that's true... I really intended to take my rest on the ship so I would be able to get to my destination as fast as I could. The longer I am away from the battlefield, the more I risk arriving too late to helping my people. I underestimated how long I could keep my eyes open, I'm afraid..."

The dwarf pulled out another flask and threw it over to Resileaf, who caught it.
"Ya certainly did, lass. I understand having to go somewhere quickly, but if yer not in the state, ya should at least get something to be able ta do it. Drink this, fer example. Can make ye feel more awake than anything else I know!"
Resileaf opened the flask curiously and took a smell.
"Oh? What's this then?"
Another wide dwarven smile answered her.

The two of them discussed with one another for a few minutes before, with a loud screech, a gryphon suddenly landed next to them. The same that Resileaf had dropped from. The sight was enough to surprise her into silence! Hormiir laughed at her reaction.
"Oh, I didn't tell ye, did I? Yer gryphon actually stopped when ye fell to check on ye! That's actually rare, ya know? They be trained ta just go from one place ta another and not stop fer anything, but that one actually was worried fer her rider! Yer a lucky gal, ya know that? Ya fall from a distance not too far, I find yeh not long after, and yer gryphon comes back ta check on yeh. Yarp, ya got some good fortune there."
The Night elf smiled and stood up, standing before the gryphon.
"I really am fortunate... I can only thank Elune for keeping an eye over me here."
The dwarf let out another guffaw.
"Har! If Elune has a face, ah can guarantee yeh she'll be prettier 'n me! But I getcha, lass. Ya should probably get back to work 'fore yer people miss ye. Be safe, yes?"

Resileaf turned back towards Hormiir and bowed before him.
"I thank you for your aid. I hope to return the favor some day. I wish you the best in this war."
The mountaineer nodded and waved her goodbye as she climbed on the gryphon's back.
"And you as well, lass. Be careful out there, these things are looking quite nasty."
With a final wave of her own, she tapped the gryphon's back, and she lifted off the ground to fly away from the mountain, towards her initial destination.

A couple of days later, Resileaf arrived back at the Crossroads. It was very lively there, with the Horde and Alliance soldiers back in formation. Everyone seemed fresh, and that included her. The ship ride gave her the opportunity to get some actual sleep, without the endless noises of demons appearing and attacking. She didn't even have any nightmares to make her wake back up. For the first time since the invasions had begun, she slept well.
When she arrived at the Crossroads, she was therefore wide awake and ready to fight. She approached the commander of the troops who came to her aid, a Priestess of the Moon as well, and saluted. The other elf nodded appreciatingly.
"Welcome back, Commander Ravenwing. I hope your travels went well, because now we must focus on the next Legion attack. We've just defeated the majority of their forces, and their leader is poised to strike directly. Be ready!"
She nodded and entered the formation, drawing her weapons. Even as she did, a bolt of fel lightning fell in the middle of the city, and from it appeared the massive form of a dreadlord. The fight was on.

It was not the first Legion commander Resileaf had faced. With the combined forced of the Alliance and the Horde, they tended to be dealt with without too many casualties. But there always were some. They came with overwhelming power, flinging spells and weapons that cleaved the earth. It took everything everyone had to dispatch one... And they all knew they'd come back afterwards. But what other choice did they have? At least they could be relieved to know that it would be some time before they came back. Resting as much as possible, recovering from their wounds until the next invasion... That was all they could do.

After a harsh battle, the dreadlord was finally slain. High overlord Saurfang himself made the killing blow when the Dreadlord was forced his knees by slamming his weapon through its chest armor. It dissipated quickly, and the soldiers cheered and let out warcries. They began to relax, let down their weapons, and check on the wounded. Resileaf herself went to find her own soldiers, to figure out if they had lost anyone. By chance, it looks like casualties had been kept to a minimum. Many wounded, but no deaths. She could call this a miracle of some sort. It had to mean that things were getting better!

As she saw her soldier reassemble, she noticed that one was looking up with a confused look in her eyes. Before she had time to ask her what was wrong or look that way herself, she pointed up to the sky.
"Isn't that supposed to leave by now?"
Resi followed her finger, and saw the Legion ship still flying above them... She was right, they usually left the battleground after the Legion commander was killed. Why was it still...
Her eyes went wide as she figured it out. The portal on the Legion ship reactivated.
"High Overlord! Legion attack incoming!"

The old orc paused in his congratulating of his troops, and his head snapped upwards to the looming Legion ship, as the bombardment resumed. She saw his own eyes go wide, and he shouted orders.
"All troops to battle stations! Get the wounded to safety and prepare to fight!"
There was a lot of confusion from the grunts and sentinels, then surprised cries as the fireballs erupted in the city again. They quickly regrouped and went back in battle formation, with Resileaf and the other Priestess shouting orders over the crowd's noise.
It was the first time the Legion did not even wait between their invasions.

Things were getting worse.

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Explosions shook the inn, the Legion's siege growing in violence with each passing day. Resileaf, the other Priestess of the Moon and one of Saurfang's commanders were discussing the current events in a private room so they could coordinate their work together. It had been several days since Resileaf's return, and not once had the Legion paused in their attacks since then. The Crossroads and the Barrens were under constant siege, meaning that a change of strategy was required.
The Orc commander unfolded a map on a table, showing the entirety of the Barrens and the many villages that dotted it.
"The High Overlord has decided that it was no longer possible to protect the entirety of the Barrens. From now on, our efforts will be focused solely on the protection of the Crossroads."

Resileaf and the other Priestess glanced to each other, before turning back to the Orc. The Priestess was the first one to speak.
"But won't this mean abandonning your people who do not live here? Without aid, they will not be able to stand against the Legion."
"What? No, we are not abandonning anyone. We are sending troops to rescue them even now. We will bring them all back here, in our most fortified building. The Legion can destroy their homes as much as they want, but our people will live on to rebuild afterwards."
Resileaf nodded satisfyingly as she studied the map.
"That is good. No matter how much they taint the earth, as long as the people live, we can rebuild."

The Orc commander nodded as well, then pointed to the Crossroads.
"That's right. Now the main point is of course the protection of this city. Thanks to the Cenarion druids who came with you and the shamans we already had, we have decided to erect a forcefield around the Crossroads that will prevent the Legion from teleporting directly in our streets. From now on, every attack will come from outside our walls, so our fortifications will actually be of use. We wanted to know what kind of fortification we could erect for your people to fight most efficiently from."
Resileaf rubbed at her chin thoughtfully.
"You already have a watch tower constructed near the south end of the Crossroads, so I will send the bulk of my Sentinels there. They will have an easier time firing at invaders, or watching for attacks coming from somewhere unexpected. If you could have something high built on the northern side as well, we could protect the two main entrances with ease."
The Priestess agreed wordlessly, so the Orc continued.

"Then this shall be done. Now, a matter of obvious importance is the number of troops we have. The past couple of days have not been kind to our armies, what with those ceaseless attacks interfering with the rest of our troops. We have sent word to Orgrimmar, but we have little hope of reinforcements from there since the north gate is under constant assault. What about your armies?"
The Priestess spoke up.
"We sent a messenger of our own a day ago. I expect her to return any time now, hopefully with a fresh squad of Sentinels. If she does, I believe we would have the numbers necessary to rotate our troops and pull this defense off for a good month. Plenty of time for the mages of Dalaran to-"
She was interrupted when the doors burst open, and a Sentinel, the messenger they had sent, entered the room. Resileaf could tell from her troubled look that she did not came back with good news.
"Terrible news, Priestess! Our armies have been caught in the fight against the Legion and cannot send any more reinforcements! The demons are attacking in great force!"
Resileaf had a terrible feeling in the pit of her stomach, but she had to ask this next question.
"Where are they attacking, Sentinel? Where are the demons striking in our lands?"

There was some hesitation before the Sentinel answered. (Spoiler tag for Legion spoilers)


"Hyjal, Priestess... They are attacking the World Tree."

There were disbelieving gasps from both Resileaf and the other Priestess, and even the Orc seemed speechless.
"This cannot be! Not now! Oh, Elune protect us..."
The Priestess grimly looked back at the map.
"Then we are on our own... Commander Ravenwing, we must focus on the task at hand. There will be time to mourn later, once we have protected this place. With the defenses we have, without reinforcements from either Orgrimmar or Darnassus, we must face our enemies more carefully than ever. No single life can be thrown away and wasted. More than ever, the endless numbers of the Legion will be our greatest threat."
Resileaf took a deep breath and nodded, forcing herself to be calm. Emotions would hamper their efforts...
"It's alright... We have the advantage of experience and fortifications. Our backs are up against the wall, and we know we only have to buy time. Just enough time for the Kirin Tor to figure out how to beat back the Legion. We just need to have faith..."

The Orc let out a sigh and rolled up the map.
"Faith will not kill demons. Courage and steel will carry the day. I wouldn't put so much trust in the wizards anyway, there is nothing that says they will know everything above all. I wish you the best of luck, I shall report to Overlord Saurfang that we can expect no reinforcements. I shall see you on the battlefield."
The commander then left the room, leaving Resileaf, the Priestess and the messenger alone with the rumbling noises from outside to accompany them. Resileaf was silent for a bit, thoughtful and worried. None of them said a word, not knowing what could ever be said in this situation. Finally, Resileaf left the room next, heading outside to watch the battle taking place... As the Orc commander promised, a protective field had been erected around the entire city to prevent the Legion's most powerful weapon, teleportation, from working. It gave them the advantage, but no advantage could make a battle easy, especially not now. She closed her eyes, and held a locket hanging around her neck for a moment. When she opened her eyes again, it was with renewed confidance.
It was not their final stand. They WOULD get through this and win this war. She had promised it to her Sentinels a few weeks ago, and it was up to her to keep up that promise.

They just needed time.

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There were too many...

"Another wave incoming! Brace for impact!"
An explosion shook the ground just outside the shield around the Crossroads. Another of those abyssals had landed before the gates and approached them while the defenders were still fighting against the last of the previous demonic wave.
"Get that right flank tightened up! Get some healers to get our soldiers back into the fight!"
Resileaf's body nearly moved by itself at this point. She felt like a machine, firing arrow after arrow, blasting every demon that dared show its face back into the oblivion it had crawled out of. She had lost count of how many she had slain. Everybody had forgotten. This endless army came without end, snarling, laughing, roaring for blood. Any other army would have broken and routed weeks ago. The demons? They never stopped. It was fortunate that they trusted so much in their own strength and brutality to care about strategy. With the Crossroads the only major holding standing in the Barrens, they attacked it relentlessly.
There were too many.

"South side is falling back! Get some reinforcements there!"
The defenders fought bravely. They had to. If they faltered, no one survived. Everyone's life relied on someone else. Any weakness meant another soldier died. Any recklessness endangered the entire city.
"Sentinel down! Pull her back before she's overrun!"
The casualties were tremendous. More than half of the Horde soldiers and Night elf sentinels were dead or too gravely wounded to fight. Even with the forces remaining in the Barrens assisting them, their numbers were now fewer and fewer. Too few. Each soldier lost was replaced by ten demons who struck with increased ferocity at the remaining troops. This battle could no longer be won. And yet they could not stop fighting.
"Breach! Breach in the walls! Get someone to plug it back up!"

Gritting her teeth, Resileaf blasted the abyssal with a final blessed arrow, stunning it long enough for the rest of the troops to bring it down, causing it to crumble into cooling pieces of rock. She turned toward the breach in the wall, seeing troops scrambling towards it. Various demons were charging out of it, into the desperate defenders. Looking back to make sure this entrance did not need her help still, Resileaf sprinted towards this new breach, immediately preparing an arrow. She lifted her bow as a felguard knocked an orc grunt on the ground and lifted his axe to split him open, and with a single well-placed shot right between the eyes, struck him down just in time. Still running, she grabbed the orc's arm and helped him on his feet, and nocked another arrow, only to be forced to use her bow as a makeshift shield when a felhound pounced at her. She fell to the ground, the beast kept from biting at her throat by her holding her bow against it. It snarled and snapped, and she tried to reach for a glaive on her belt, only for the same orc she had just saved to slice the felhound in half with a single swing of his axe. It was his turn to help her on her feet, and she gave the green man a grateful nod before they both went back to the fight. More and more demons were pouring out of the breach.
Too many.

Thankfully, a shaman arrived just at that moment to aid the defenders. Calling upon the spirits of the earth, the tauren mystic made the ground under the bridge suddenly surge higher, creating a stone wall to replace the partition that had been destroyed and blocking any further demons from entering the Crossroads. The rest of the demons, without any assistance or place to flee to, fell with ease, ending this particular crisis before it became too problematic.
"More breaches! Troops to the breaches, plug them back up! Drive back those demons!"
There were too many... Still too many...

Resileaf looked to Overlord Saurfang, in the town square, shouting orders at the top of his lungs whenever a new crisis popped up. His attempts to keep everyone fighting were commendable, but there was only so much a single man could do.
"North side cannot hold on! We must pull back!"
"East side is about to be overwhelmed! Our support is gone!"
"South side under heavy fire! The Legion is too powerful!"
She looked to the city's gates. The Legion numbers came overwhelming. They had fought too long, suffered too much... They could no longer hold against the invaders. Even with the shield, they could not keep the gates protected anymore.

"The shield is coming down! I repeat, shield down!"
Resileaf's eyes went wide. This was the absolute last defense they still had. Without this shield, then...
The translucent, shimmering force field that had been held by the druids and shamans dissipated, the spellcasters simply too exhausted to continue. The effects were almost immediate. Demons began to appear within the city itself, the airship launching a new barrage of fel fireballs over the defenders. Chaos erupted as the soldiers were forced to react to this sudden event, putting even more pressure on the gates...
There were too many...

"All soldiers, retreat to the bastion! Everyone to the command center! Get everyone, now!"
Resileaf sprinted back towards Overlord Saurfang, dodging a felguard's axe and retaliating by cutting through his leg with her glaive, crippling him. She did not pay more attention to him however as she arrived at the old orc. Looking around, she saw the remaining troops desperately trying to make it back to them, fighting through the demons. The demons appeared even faster now, infernals crashing into buildings, into amassed troops... She saw the other Priestess of the Moon, surrounded by demons, yelling at her sentinels to run to safety. Her name was Anaya, she thought... She was too far away... Resileaf had to look away as an eredar warlock began to tear her soul right out of her body.
Her screams though, she could not ignore. Screams... There were more and more of them as soldiers were cut down in their retreat.
There were too many...

She began to haul a wounded orc into the keep, remarking that it was the same she had just fought alongside at the breach. His face was disfigured, both eyes cut by the same wound that went across his face. She brought him to the room where all the wounded and the civilians were kept. There were so many of them... Huddled together, trying to reassure themselves, caring for the wounded as best as they could, doing anything in their power to aid their protectors. Soldiers poured into the keep, archers covering them by keeping the demons at bay until as many soldiers had returned as possible. The gates to the keep were closed and barred. More planks of wood were brought to reinforce the doors, even as they began to buckle and crack against the demons' battering outside. Cenarion druids quickly began to also reinforce the doors, using their magic to keep the wood strong.

Resileaf looked over what soldiers were left. So few had made it back... So many had been killed, and what was happening to them even now? If the Priestess of the Moon's fate was any indication... The dead were being desecrated even now.
What had it all been for?
She looked over the Sentinels that were left. Of the squad she had brought, only a quarter was left. The rest was wounded or dead. She had to look away. She could not face them. Her promises before the battle... What were they for anymore? They were trapped, huddled in a building, surrounded on all sides by demons, and there was not going to be any rescue.

There were so many...

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The doors buckled under the repeated impacts of the Legion's infernals, living battering rams that they were, struck against the doors over and over. They barely held on, kept repaired and closed by the various druids who were trapped along with what remained of the Horde's army and their Sentinel allies. The civillians were huddled in the center room, cramped, crying for many, praying for others... There was nowhere to go. No one would save them. No one would bring them solace.

Among them was, of course, Resileaf. She stood motionless and without a word near the sentinels, who grimly awaited their deaths... They had prayed many times over, and had, for the most part, resolved to their deaths. Morale was nonexistent. Some were even starting to think that they should just let the demons enter and finish the job to end their suffering. That was how low the depths of despair brought them. Resileaf didn't feel much better. She rolled her guildstone in her fingers, wondering if she should tell everyone her predicament... If she should let them know that this was probably the last time she'd speak to them...

"What was the point?"
She raised her head as she was addressed, to look at one of the surviving sentinels. She recognized the one who had questionned her decision to aid the Horde, looking at her with an accusatory look in her eyes.
"You said we weren't coming here to die... But what was the point in the end? What business did we have involving ourselves in this? We're going to die here, for nothing!"
The Priestess of the moon did not answer right away. The sentinel wasn't wrong... They were probably going to die here, and they wouldn't have died for anything. It would give them no advantage against the Legion, no one would survive thanks to their sacrifice either. But...
"We involved ourselves because we decided to put aside our grievances and protect our world from the Legion, sentinel. What I said is that we were not meant to die for anyone or anything... Not that we wouldn't. I know it's not much solace in this situation... But we did not do a bad thing by being here either. We helped the city hold longer. We protected innocents from the Legion. We-"
"We're dying for nothing! We didn't save anyone! All these people will die, and we will have been able to do nothing to stop it! We're... We were useless, commander..."
Her voice began to break, tears streaming down her cheeks.

There was a sinister creaking sound coming from the gates as they very nearly broke apart. The Legion wouldn't be stopped for much longer. An orc soldier approached Resileaf and whispered into her ear.
"Sentinel commander, we have to prepare for the worst... Get your sentinels to the gates for a last ditch defense."
Resileaf nodded, and the orc left. The sentinels couldn't do it... They were depressed, despairing... They could not hold the line. Not without hope. She had to do something. Taking her most commanding voice, she spoke to her assembled soldiers.
"We NEVER die for nothing, Sentinel! We fight against an enemy that desires nothing less than the destruction of our entire world! Our sacrifices have never been needed more than now! You want to know what we're dying for? We're dying for the glory of Elune, to destroy the demons in all their forms, safeguard our lands and deal a blow to them that they will never forget! We have no hope of victory? Then cast aside your hope! Fight without fear of death, fight without a care! Fight to kill demons, until not a single one is left standing! And if we do die? Then we will gladly give our souls to the Goddess! Let Her watch over Her chosen people, and bless them with Her divine power until we are all gone! She will safeguard us, She will shield our souls from the demons, and bring us to Her side when we have fallen to protect Azeroth! They think they have us trapped? That we are as rats in a cage, easy pickings? Then let us bring the fight to THEM! We will ride out of this place, to fight in the open, to kill under the gaze of our Goddess, and when our time has come, to feel Her embrace take us into the stars! Now get up, Sentinels! Our time may be now, but it will not come while we cower in fear!"

The sentinels seemed dazed for a moment, bringing Resileaf to wonder if she had overdone it and gotten too fired up. But then, without a word, and with renewed resolve in their eyes, the Sentinels took their weapons, and went to the entrance of the keep. She followed them there, to find the orcs already forming a battle line in front of the badly battered doors. The High Overlord turned to her as she approached and gave her an approving nod. Looks like he had heard her... She noticed that several of the civillians and wounded had been given spare weapons. They were not in a state to fight... But none of them were going to wait in this hole to die either. She couldn't help but smile at the sight. Everyone facing the Legion as equal, to protect what they held dear to them... Her fingers held her guildstone again as she sent her thoughts into it.

"Twilight Empire... I call to you in this day to give you what I think are my final farewells. I am trapped in the Crossroads, with demons surrounding me and death looking certain. I am sorry that I must leave you all like this, as the war against the demons begin. I hope you can also forgive me for leaving you all like this. Know that I have never been more proud of being part of an organization than I did in the Empire. I send you a last prayer in the hopes that you endure this war and live through it. Remember me while you kill demons in the future... For the Twilight Empire."
She slipped the stone back into her pocket, then took hold of the heart-shaped locket around her neck. She clutched it for a moment against her heart.
Tessi... I'm sorry...

She let go of it, then took hold of her glaive as the door buckled against another hard impact. Saurfang paced in front of it and addressed his soldiers.
"Warriors of the Horde! Sentinels of the Alliance! Show those demons our fury! Let them hear our warcries, as we cut through their ranks, and die in glorious battle against them! Victory or Death! Lok'tar Ogar! For the Horde! For Azeroth!"
The doors burst open. As one, the Horde warriors let out a terrifying roar that shook the foundations of the building, and charged against the demons as they tried to do the same. Taken off guard, the felguards were driven back instantly and cut down. The second wave behind them fared no better. Resileaf followed the orcs as they bursted out of the building, into the open, striking at every demon unlucky enough to get in their way. Resileaf among them whirled her glaive around masterfully, slicing through demonic flesh and bone and claw and fang alike, spraying fel blood all around her. The army charged on in the middle of the city like an unstoppable tidal wave of steel until finally, they arrived before the leader of the current invasion, a wicked dreadlord who stood before them with his arms crossed, grinning down at them.

"How noble and inspiring! The doomed army, rather than wait for death in their hole, come out in the open to earn an heroic death! Trying to earn the songs of the future bards then? How foolish... Look around yourselves! Witness our infinite army!"
Resileaf examined their surroundings... And saw that what they had done in the end was cut through merely a small part of the demonic army. Rather than mass in front of the keep, they had spread around the area, and massed a small number of themselves in front to let the assembled forced cut through them easily until they became surrounded by the rest. Almost immediately, the troops changed into a round formation, to face all sides. The dreadlord laughed wickedly.
"You only now notice! Do you understand now?! Aah, mortals... So easy to manipulate... You make heroic speeches, you charge into battle recklessly to go out in a blaze of glory, and in doing so, you play right into our hands! Your souls burn so bright, it will be such a pleasure to extinguish them... Your time has come, little mortals. Make peace with your gods, or don't. It will make no difference in the end."

With a twisted grin, the demon raised his hand, and the demonic troops began to advance, slowly, purposely, towards the assembled army, closing in and keeping them trapped and surrounded. That was it, then. There was nowhere to escape to. This was how it was going to end. Resileaf closed her eyes and smiled. She had had a good, long life. She had hoped for it to last longer, to protect Azeroth in its time of need. But that was fine. She had no regrets. She would take out a few more of the demons, and let the Goddess take her. Raising her weapon and going into a battle stance, she watched the demons slowly approach them in an intimidating formation. Just a few moments more, the Dreadlord would lower his arm and signal everyone's deaths. She tensed up, focused intently on her opponent, and...
"Citizens of Azeroth."

Everything stopped. The demons, the Dreadlord, the Horde and Sentinels... They had all heard that booming voice that seemed to come from within their minds. This was...
"Today is the day we turn the tide."
Hope began to swell in the defenders again. Could it be it? Could this be finally the miracle they had been waiting for?
"Today is the day that we re-take our world."
The Dreadlord's face twisted in anger.
"And send the Legion back to the hell that spawned them."
He roared and lowered his arm, to send his army at the mortals. They charged in anger, but met only a wall of blades and shields.
"Our path is clear."
One by one, the demons fell, unable to strike down their enemies.
"The Pillars of Creation await."
They tried so hard to overwhelm them. Even the Dreadlord jumped into the fight in an attempt to take down the mortals who dared face the Legion. But to no avail.
"On the Broken Isles!"

A wave of magical energy flowed over the entirety of Azeroth. Unleashed by the teleportation of Dalaran, it made the Legion ships shimmer in the air, and the demons it spawned found themselves weakened and on their knees. The Dreadlord roared in anger.
"Fine then! Enjoy your pointless victory, mortals! We will deal with your mages, and then come back for you! The immortal Legion will destroy you all, fools!"
One by one, the demons teleported away, brought back into the capital ship flying overhead. The Dreadlord was the last one to go, his eyes burning with rage as he disappeared for good. Slowly, the Legion ship began to fly away, leaving the Crossroads behind. There was silence in the city for a moment.
"We... We won..."
Resileaf didn't know who said that. Maybe it was her, but she couldhave just repeated it, as those words spread throughout the army, with growing joy among the soldiers. Before long, a cheer spread in the entire army, and roars of victory echoed in the city square. The civillians still in the stronghold slowly began to trickle out as the sun shone again over the Barrens. Orc and Night elf and Tauren and Troll alike cheered, embracing one another, crying in joy and laughing in relief.

Resileaf could only fall to her knees as her strength left her. Her heart was beating like crazy, and she could not stop herself from letting the emotions wash over her. Victory... Victory at last. They had bought enough time. They had won. She took hold of her guildstone to speak into it, although she realized as she did that she wasn't certain what to say anymore. In the end, she could only speak three little words.
"I am alive."

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Ten thousand years ago...

"No talking back, young lady. I have decided that you were going to Nar'thalas academy, and that's final."

Nerrala Ravenwing, matriarch of the Ravenwing family, looked down at her daughter with an imperious glare, one that usually cowered her children in submission. Resileaf, the eldest of her daughters, trembled slightly, but held on.
"But mother... You've taught my siblings everything they know. Why can I not learn under you? What am I going to learn there that I could not learn from you?"
There was a dismissive wave from her mother, who rolled her eyes.
"I no longer have the time to take care of you. My teachings have obviously done nothing for you, so I'm going to leave your education to those lesser mages while I focus on your more talented siblings. Maybe they'll manage to find out how to make you cast a spell, but I am simply not going to bother anymore."

The bluntness of the statement was enough to silence Resileaf, whose ears drooped low as she lowered her head, blushing furiously in shame. She felt her mother's hand on her shoulder. It was neither warm, nor supportive.
"Do not take it the wrong way. You simply have no talent in this. Our bloodline however demands that we master the arcane. I must therefore ensure that those who truly are talented in this art can get the education they require from me rather than from those incompetent mages at the academy."
She stepped away from her daughter, leaving her behind on the verge of tears...

Present day...
"Azsuna, you say?"
The Priestess of the Moon nodded as she pointed at the map of the broken isles, an old drawing of the region they found they still possessed. It gave the rough outline of the region, although the Kal'dorei scouts promised to make better maps once they had the time to do it.
"That's right. We have barely searched it since the Sundering, but it looks like the region is relatively intact... It's right next to Val'sharah, where we will send the bulk of our efforts. The High priestess herself will be leading troops in defense of the temple of Elune. The Sentinel army is being assembled as we speak."

It had been half a week now since Resileaf had returned to Ashenvale with the troops that had survived the invasion of the Barrens. She had been commended on her valorous combat to defend Azeroth from the Legion, even if her efforts were focused on protecting Horde-held territories. Despite the loss of half her Sentinels, and the wounds of half of the rest, other places had fared far worse. What she had managed to save was very precious.
"She will take as many Sentinels as she can and make them protect the Temple. There are also a few more villages that require protection from the Legion, although we hope to have the assistance of the druids. Malfurion Stormrage himself will also provide aid. He in fact knows exactly where we can find one of those pillars the Kirin Tor requires for the protection of Azeroth. To protect it as easily as possible, we should... Lady Ravenwing? Are you well?"

Resileaf almost seemed startled at being addressed directly.
"Huh? What? Do I look unwell?"
The other priestess raised an eyebrow.
"You've been staring quite intently at the map ever since I mentionned Azsuna. Is there something that concerns you about it?"
Resileaf hesitated a moment. Should she really... Well, no reason not to.
"I know this may seem unusual, but... I would like to go to Azsuna. For personal reasons. There are things I wish to see there..."
The priestesses looked at one another. It was no secret that Resileaf was among the oldest of Night elves alive, so they could tell that there had to be something about that place related to when she was alive. There were nods all around.
"Of course, Lady Ravenwing. Please do understand that you will need to hurry to assist us afterwards, though..."

Resileaf stood before the gates of Nar'thalas academy, holding her spellbook tightly against herself. She was among hundreds of young Night elves who would now live in this academy. She had thought there would be some ceremony. Some kind of speech by the headmistress, maybe. It was therefore something of a surprise to not find any such thing. She was... Merely allowed to enter. She did so rather uneasily, looking wide-eyed at everything around her. Her mother had called this place backwards, but it was such a grand place! Admitedly, not as beautiful as Suramar was, but then again, what could ever be as beautiful as the jewel of the Night elf empire? Nothing, of course. It didn't mean that slightly less grand places could not be appreciated either, though.

She was most impressed by how many Night elves there were, though. She had no idea that there were places of learning with so many people in them. Before, she had only been tutored, either by her mother, or by teachers handpicked by her. The best of the Empire, she had been told, too important to teach in schools. She had been a fair student in the past. Most subjects, she could pick up easily.
Except magic. She had never been able to understand the theory behind it, and she wasn't able either to actually cast properly. She simply could not figure for the life of her how to keep control on her spells. This was pretty much why she was being sent here, somewhere far away from home where no one would know her. Why her mother was getting rid of her... She suddenly felt even smaller as she slowly made her way inside the school's halls...

Resileaf stood before the gates of Nar'thalas academy, and felt her throat tighten at the sight. This place was... She remembered so vividly how it used to be. How it was the grandest academy outside of the schools of Suramar itself. Now though, it was a mere ruin. An incredibly dilapidated ruin, even. She had been told what had happened here, how the leader of the region, Prince Farondis, rebelled against Azshara as she summoned the Legion, only to be completely decimated, a massive flood killing everyone. Death was not the only thing they suffered though... They were furthermore cursed by Azshara, cursed to become spirits forever bound to this place, unable to move on. The queen's wrath had not spared a single elf, no matter how old or young, whether they were related to the rebellion or not.

The entire academy had been flooded. The building itself still stood, a testament to how solidly it was built, or reinforced with spells, but the gates were broken and rotten a long time ago. They, obviously, had not held back the flood. And the spirits... There were ghosts everywhere. Night elf students hung around the building, looking without a care in the world, much like when Resileaf had joined it. Even the nearby naga attack didn't seem to phase them. They seemed to ignore her as she entered, letting her listen in on their discussions.

"Looks like the examination was reported again. They still haven't gotten rid of the flooding in the basement."
"Again? It feels like it's been forever!"
"I know, right?"

"Have you gotten any news about your parents?"
"No, still no new letters from them. I've tried to send letters myself, but the postmaster has no one who can do it."
"Bummer. I didn't get anything either. It's like we don't exist anymore."

They had no idea... None of them could tell what had happened to them. They were all completely unaware of their fates. Resileaf walked through the school in a daze, entering ruined and flooded halls, destroyed libraries, darkened and damp classrooms... Everywhere she went, there were those spirits walking around, living their lives as though everything was fine. Sometimes she heard confused comments about the amount of time something took to happen, but that was all. She did not even try to speak to one of them, in fear of gaining their ire. That was, until she suddenly bumped into someone.

"Oh! Pardon me! I'm sorry!"
Resileaf bent down to grab the many scrolls she had just dropped, blushing heavily. The woman looked down at her, her severe eyes glaring as she stood in the frame of the door her student had just tried passing through.
"Miss Ravenwing, you are late again to your class. It is the fifth time this month. I am quite disappointed in your punctuality."
The young elf did not answer, and tried to ignore the snickers from inside the class. She couldn't say anything...
She had stopped trying to defend herself.

With her head held down and the scrolls huddled in her arms, she entered the class and went to her desk, feeling the stares of dozens of elves on her. She did her best to ignore them, but to no avail. She knew they were judging her. They always did, after all... After all, she was...
She felt something at her feet, and before she knew it, she was tumbling to the ground. She let out a startled yelp and tried to catch herself, but to no avail. She fell heavily to the ground, and let out a whimper of pain. The class erupted in laughter at her tumble, and the instructor angrily addressed her.
"Miss Ravenwing! I would appreciate if you stopped distracting the class with your antics! Just because you are late doesn't mean you have to make everyone be so as well!"
The young elf silently picked up her things, keeping her head down to not hide the bruise on her cheek, then hurried into her seat. She slumped into it, the class slowly returning to normal. Against her better judgement, she raised her head and her eyes met those of Celestiale Starsong, the student who had just tripped her. The self-satisfied grin and the giggles of the girls next to her gave no doubt as to her intent. Resileaf quickly lowered her head again...

She blinked in confusion, staring at the same old severe face of instructor Delliana. Her teacher.
"Miss Ravenwing, still as clumsy as ever."
Resileaf did not answer yet. Her mouth hung open in shock. She glanced around... This was her old classroom. The instructor was alone, presumably working on her papers, although with everything ruined as it was, there really was nothing to show for it. Not that the teacher seemed to notice.
"Have you come to turn in your last assignement? It is now ten thousand years late. I hope you are not expecting any leniency for your tardiness, especially since you have consistantly turned everything in late. I will be deducting points for it."

The priestess shook her head in disbelief, and couldn't stop herself from letting out a small laugh.
"Really? Instructor, it's... I'm not here to turn in anything. I mean, I was expelled. YOU expelled me. A-and what does it matter anyway? You're dead! You're... You're a spirit! Everyone here is!"
The elf teacher seemed mostly confused for a moment before shaking her head.
"Miss Ravenwing, I'll not here more of your excuses. If you are not here to turn in your assignement, then I would appreciate if you did not waste my time. I have more important things to do than to oversee your constant failures."
Resileaf clenched her fists and gritted her teeth, almost looking like she was about to snarl.
"What do you care? What DID you care? You've never cared to help me, not once in the hundred years I've spent in this hell you call an academy! You just washed your hands of my problems, only because I was-"
"Because you were inept, useless, unable to conjure the simplest of spells without it going out of control. You are absolutely right, Miss Ravenwing, from the first time you nearly burned down my class, I have not cared for you one single bit. Your mother decided that she would get you out of her way by sending you here, and making sure my hands were tied. Otherwise, I'd have expelled you MUCH earlier. Consider yourself lucky I acknowledged your mediocrity. Other instructors would have simply ignored you. You have only yourself to blame for your lack of talent."

Without even waiting for an answer, the instructor turned back on Resileaf and walked back into her class, leaving the priestess to stand there in a daze, unable to make a single retort. It was like she had just been punched in the gut... Even ten thousand years afterwards, she was unable to face her old teacher. Wordlessly, she found herself wandering back into the corridors, feeling like she was about to get sick... This was worse than she thought. This was horrible, even. Why did she come back? Why did she torture herself so? Did she think she would have closure? Of course not, there was no such thing as closure, especially for a period of her life where everything was wrong.
"Resileaf? I heard the instructor yell at you. Did you do forget your homework again?"

Resileaf looked up from her books, curling up tighter on herself on reflex as she was addressed. It was a relief to see that it was not one of her tormentors again as her eyes met those of Sirrilah, her one and only friend in the entire academy. Her gentle eyes, her easy smile, her purple hair that looked like it sparkled under any kind of light, they constantly made the young elf feel more at ease. And why wouldn't they? In an entire school filled with scorn and mockery towards her, this was the only person who had ever shown her kindness, one of the most talented students in the entire academy. And she called her friend.
"I-It's nothing, Sirrilah... I just... I just think I must have lost them somewhere... You know how clumsy I am with it. I bet it got lost in the wind."

The sorceress simply laughed as she sat next to Resileaf.
"Now, now, you know you don't have to lie to me like this. Let me guess... It was Celestiale and her pack again, wasn't it? I seem to recall them hounding you this morning before you went into class."
Resileaf shook her head half-heartedly. It was obvious that her friend was right, but she didn't want to bother her with this. Not with a student so under her own level.
"N-no, I swear, it was just my own fault... Really... You don't have to bother yourself with all of this, I'll be fine."
Sirrilah sighed and shook her head sadly.
"Well, if that's what you say, then I have no choice but to believe you. So.. What are you studying now?"
Resileaf looked back at her open book, a grimoire of simple spells.
"I'm trying to find another technique that I might be able to follow better... There has to be something I haven't tried yet. Right..?"
Sirrilah giggled playfully.
"Don't ask me, Resileaf. I've seen you try so many techniques, so many theories, I don't know if there's anything you haven't done yet. Have you... Ever thought that maybe, your talents just lie elsewhere? The arcane isn't everything, despite what our dear Queen might claim."
The blue-haired elf was silent for a time. She didn't want to acknowledge... She didn't want to believe that she was doomed to be a failure forever... All of a sudden, she turned to Sirrilah.
"Can you please teach me your method, Sirrilah? I'm sure that someone as talented as you can help me figure it out! I swear I'll try my hardest! And I'll repay the favor too!"
The other elf sighed sadly.
"If that's what you really want then, Resileaf..."

Her gentle eyes, her easy smile, her purple hair that looked like it sparkled under any kind of light... She had not seen them for ten thousand years. Back then, it filled Resileaf's heart with happiness and relief. Now...
"Sirrilah... Oh Goddess, not you too... I thought you had graduated the academy... I thought you were in Suramar!"
The purple-haired ghost tilted her head, confused by Resileaf's words and expression.
"Is that a way to greet an old friend now? I thought you'd be happier to see me visit. I came just to see you, Resi! I've been searching all over! In ten thousand years, I was starting to think you were just gone. You'll have to tell me where you've been hiding!"
Resileaf felt her throat tighten while tears started streaming down her cheeks. Not her... Not the only kind soul in this Elune-forsaken city...
"Why, Sirrilah... Please tell me... That you're not dead... This is just my eyes playing tricks on me... O-or this is just an illusion... Please tell me you haven't been living this cursed existence for ten thousand years!"

The spirit grew further confused, her gentle brow furrowing in concern at Resileaf's outburst.
"Resileaf, what's wrong? You look like you're about to burst into tears. What's all this you're talking about? I'm not dead... Am I..?"
Sirrilah seemed confused again as she looked over herself... her transparent body... Before eventually just shaking her head.
"Oh, you're such a joker. I didn't know you were like that, Resi! Usually always so serious. You must have done something good to be in the mood to do that! Hmm, let me guess... Can you finally cast a fireball? Are you finally able to use arcane magic?"
The Priestess had to stop herself from crying... She wiped her tears away with her sleeve, and took a deep breath.
"No, I have not, Sirri... I'm still the same Resileaf... The same inept Resi... I still can't cast a simple arcane spell properly. I'm sorry, I've never stopped being a failure at it."
Sirrilah smiled sadly, taking Resileaf's hand in hers. Even though it was a ghost... The hand felt warm to the touch.
"It's alright, Resi. I told you that there was more to life than the arcane, didn't I? I never stopped believing in you when I left. Or even while I was teaching you. I can tell that your talents lie elsewhere... Maybe in the clergy? I bet you would make an excellent Priestess. You're one of the most devout people I know!"

Resileaf couldn't take it anymore. She couldn't face her friend any longer. Not like this. She took off running, to get away from her, from this cursed existence... She did not even hear her surprised shout to come back. She ran for minutes, deeper into the academy, until she was well and completely lost. Taking a moment to calm herself down, she began to look around, trying to figure out where she had ended up... Seemed like the dormatories. If she remembered well, she could take a passage to the outside and leave this place for good. Orienting herself, she began to head for the stairs...
"Well, well, well... If this isn't little Resileaf..."

Resileaf froze in place as she recognized the mocking voice at her back. It sent chills down her spine as she slowly turned to face its owner...
"Y-yes..? How c-can I help you, C-Celestiale..?"
Celestiale Starsong. One of the most popular of the students in this school. Beautiful, arrogant, coming from one of the richest Highborne family of Suramar, and a master sorceress to boot. She was the prime tormentor in Resileaf's life. Their families always had a certain rivalry, and Celestiale had brought it back with her to the academy. She had made it her life's mission to make Resileaf as miserable as possible.
"Oh, I think you know..."
Like a pack of wolves, Celestiale's friends had circled around her, to make sure that she had nowhere to run. Everyone who had heard the tormentor had turned to watch, knowing that there was soon going to be a bit of entertainement...

"I need someone to help me practice my spells, see? I thought you were the best person to ask around here!"
Despite her pleasant tone, the expression on her face was anything but pleasant. Her smile was cold and hungry for blood, like a hyena's. Resileaf trembled as she was surrounding, clutching her books against her for protection, seeking anyone who might help her outside of the circle of students surrounding her... There was not a single sympathetic pair of eyes.
"I-I'm sure there are lots of people better s-suited for that... I'm not really good at magic, s-so... I sh-should be going..."
She wanted more than anything to back away, but she felt a hand pushing her forward, toward Celestiale, who lifted a glowing hand before her.
"Oh, don't worry, you won't have to do a thing. I'll just practice on you. You just do what you do best, stay there and look dumb."

With a wave of her hand, Resileaf suddenly found her feet no longer touching the ground. In panic, she reflexively tried to catch herself from falling on the ground, dropping her books, but found that she was not falling. Rather, she had started floating, as though she was completely weightless. She let out a weak scream, waving her hands and legs around as Celestiale made her spin in the air until she was so dizzy she no longer saw straight. The sorceress' friends had all started laughing at the floating student, while the assembled students joined in the cruel mocking.
"Well, I dare say this is going quite well, Resileaf! You're giving me great practice, you know? Let's see how much more you can take. Anyone wants to take bets on how long it takes for her to get sick?"
Resileaf hiccuped as she found herself upside down, trying desperately to keep her robes from falling over her head and get too revealing.
"N-no, please! Stop it! Let me down, please!"
"What was that? Keep going, Celestiale? Why, don't mind if I do!"

On and on she spun, harder and harder, without end except to suddenly spin the other way, until finally-

Resileaf found herself instinctively trembling as she watched Celestiale striding over to her like the queen she had always pretended to be. Even as a spirit, she seemed to remain as sure of herself, as cruel and beautiful as she had ever been. Accompanied by the same throng of followers that had tormented her for a hundred years, she haughtily looked over her old victim...
"Here I was, telling my friends how much I missed your dumb face, and you just happen to show up! Aww, don't start already crying, I haven't done anything yet! You're going to make me feel sad for you..."
The priestess couldn't help but clutch invisible books to her chest, the memories of ten thousand years ago flooding in her mind. This woman... This monster... Even death had not changed her.

"No... No, you're dead! You're just a ghost of the past! You've tormented me long enough, go away! Leave me alone!"
The sorceress sneered at Resileaf as her pack began to surround her... The same tactic they had used back then...
"I'm not sure what you're on about, but that won't change anything. Now then, I believe that I needed to practice spells for my next exam... So why don't you just stand there and look dumb as usu-"

Resileaf didn't even realize she had done it until several seconds afterwards, but she had surrounded herself with a shield of silvery light with one hand, while the other had lashed at the ghostly presence with a ray of the same light. Celestiale was slammed against the opposing wall, screaming in pain as the light of Elune scorched her ghostly body.
"You... You have no power over me anymore! You're just a ten thousand year old ghost... A tormented spirit forever bound to a crumbling building, like everyone else here! Your torture of innocents is over!"
She was in a near panic as a hundred years of torment flashed through her mind. Those memories demanded justice. Demanded vengeance. She was the powerful one now. She could get her revenge on everyone. Pay them back for everything they had done to her. She could-

She turned towards the source of the familiar voice... Sirrilah stood at the end of the corridor, looking... Horrified. No, not horrified. Sad. It was the first time Resileaf saw her not smiling, and she realized just how much it hurt her to see that expression of sadness.
The ghostly elf approached her slowly... She was not afraid of the silver light, while all the other spirits shrunk away from it, as though merely being close hurt them.
"Please stop, Resi... I know she hurt you... But you know like me that this will not make you feel better. You are better than that. You were better than that back then... You haven't changed... Haven't you?"

Resileaf looked back to Celestiale, her pained expression as the magic shackled her... Mere contact with it was painful, as a ghost. Proximity should have hurt Sirrilah too, but she didn't show it. She strongly desired revenge, but...
She let go of the spell, freeing the girl again. Celestiale fell to her knees, gasping for a breath she didn't even need.
"I haven't... Your friendship is more important to me, Sirri... I'm sorry... I lost my cool."
Sirrilah's hand took hold of Resileaf's again, the warmth filling up the priestess again.
"It's okay, Resi... Seeing you like this, I understood what you meant... I remember what happened now. How the tidal wave came and drowned us... And how we've been trapped as spirits here for ten thousand years."

Resileaf's ears drooped low as Sirrilah spoke. Ten thousand years... Of living this cursed existence, with nothing else to them.
"I'm so sorry, Sirri... Because of me, you were here... Because you were searching for me, you were killed... And you've been cursed to restlessly be here since then... And it's all my fault!"
The ghostly elf shook her head.
"It's not your fault at all, Resi... How could you have possibly known?"
Resileaf shook her head, fighting back the tears.
"Because I befriended you... You came back... You should never have! You didn't deserve it, and it's because of your friendship with me that you came back! It's my fault! It's... My fault... That you're dead..."

The ghostly woman pulled the priestess of the Moon against her, hushing her down gently.
"But Resi... You're the only person who made it tolerable in here... All those know-it-all, severe teachers... All those petty students... You were the only person here who was honestly trying. Everyone else was just going through a formality and barely trying. And everyone treated you like dirt... I just wanted to see you succeed, in anything. And look at you! You're a priestess, just like I thought you should become! I wish I could have seen it living, but... But I'm happy for you. Honestly, I am. Now you are truly living your own life! Come, Resi! Come here, let's go somewhere else! Tell me about your life!"

Resileaf found herself pulled in a quiet spot of the gardens, and she began to talk and talk, and talk about everything that had happened on Azeroth since the Sundering. She talked about her life, about the dreams she now pursued. She talked about her love, and about her work. When she was done, the sun had started to set. How many hours had it been? Sirrilah had listened for every second, her eyes sparkling with pleasure at her friend's constant speaking. She never got to see Resileaf looking so confidant and happy after all... It must have been a nice change. When the priestess was finally done and fell silent, Sirrilah could only nod in awe.
"Such a long, amazing life... I envy you, Resi. What I wouldn't give to have lived something like it..."
Resileaf felt sadness return. It was true, Sirri was dead. She could never feel something like this again.
"But I'm so happy you shared it with me... I'm so happy you made me feel like I was alive again..."

The blue-haired elf wanted more than anything to help Sirrilah, but... There was nothing she could do. Not with this curse.
"Sirri... I'm... I'm going to come back to see you, okay? I'm going to make you happy again. I want to take care of you in any way I can, and if I can do it by coming back, then I will! We'll talk again, and... And... I'll try to save you. To break this curse and let you pass on for good."
The ghostly elf's smile seemed to grow even brighter.
"Thank you, Resi... Thank you for having been a constant companion for me for so long... Thank you for having been in my thoughts for ten thousand years."
Suddenly, pearly tears began to stream down her ghostly cheeks.
"Please come back... Please..."

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It had been over one week now since Resileaf had met with her friend at the academy. Her spirit eagerly awaited her return each day, as they talked and shared stories that had happened over the years since the last time they had seen each others. Sirrilah looked incredibly cheerful whenever Resileaf was there, constantly asking more and more questions about her life, about her friends, about her work... She seemed so happy that her friend lived a happy life, a complete change from her academy days.

The Priestess had decided that above everything, she would help Sirrilah break this curse. If anyone deserved to be saved from this endless existance of torment, it was her. That was why she had asked for help from one of the Empire's warlocks, Ketani, to assist her in getting rid of this curse. Sure, warlocks were better at putting curses than removing them, but they had good knowledge of how they worked. Even if Ketani might not know how to remove it herself, she might be able to put them in the right direction. Sirrilah had asked for a few days, however. She wanted to spend a few days with Resileaf before passing on to the next world. An understandable thing, obviously. Resileaf herself wasn't that eager to make her disappear forever either.

Today, she yet again was going to see Sirrilah when something took her attention on the guild stone. Rorrek was apparently stuck... Somewhere. She was rather confused by what the other people of the Empire were talking about, actually. They said that it was a place for great warriors to reside in and work together, and it had something to do with the Vrykuls, the Val'kyr, and a keeper called Odyn? There was some talk about various organizations recruiting people of various specializations as well, further confusing her. There were some things going on behind the scenes, and it irritated her a little about how cryptic and vague some people were being about it­.

Still, her greatest worry at the moment was Rorrek, who seemed to be forced to work at a forge at whatever place he was at. Apparently unable to divert his attention, Pralea had herself been forced to stay away from him under threat of being dismembered by an angry Vrykul. Things were not right at all...
"Well, I can only pray for his continued safety... If I can do any-..."
She found herself trailing off as she arrived at the academy... There was something wrong there. There were fewer spirits than before... And those she could see looked terrified. And some of them looked pale... Or rather, paler. Like they were about to phase out of existence entirely. She stepped into the academy, only to see more of those drained ghosts. She felt a terrible coldness invade her.
She began to run through the academy, trying to find her friend. She was about to ask for aid when she suddenly saw her.

She was on her knees, before a tall form covered in a tattered robe and holding a scythe. From the muzzle she could see under the cowl, she could tell it was a worgen. She had her mouth open, and it sounded like she was inhaling as wispy strands escaped Sirrilah's body, drawn into the gaping maw of the warlock. Sirrilah looked to be in pain, and Resileaf realized that her soul was being consumed. A deep fear penetrated her heart, followed by a burning rage as she pointed at the cowled woman.
"Hey, you! Hey!"
The warlock did not even acknowledge Resileaf, but Sirrilah looked in her direction. The priestess saw the fear in her eyes as she lifted a hand towards her, as though to beg for her aid. A single word escaped her lips.
Suddenly, her spirit collapsed upon itself. In a rush of wind, her form disintegrated, and was drawn entirely into the worgen's mouth, who seemed to swallow behind her, closing her mouth. Just like that, Sirrilah was gone.

Resileaf was in shock. This worgen... She had just... Eaten her friend's soul... Before she even realized it, she had her bow in hand, and an arrow nocked.
"Let go of her, you bitch!"
She let go of her arrow as the warlock turned toward her, as though suddenly realizing she was there. Her arrow never reached her though, as it impacted an intangible shield around the nethermancer, who growled threateningly.
"Who are you to disrupt my feast? I have no quarrel with you, elf. Leave now, before I grow unpleasant toward you."

Resileaf angrily notched another arrow, charging this one with holy power.
"You've taken the souls of innocent elves! You will release them this instant, or I'll MAKE you do it!"
The warlock simply shrugged, taking a step back while waving her hand to direct an order to a nearby imp.
"And why should I do that? The souls of the dead are useless in their current form. I'm simply giving them a new purpose. Besides, they are cursed to be stuck here for... What, forever? I don't see the point in letting them go to waste."
Resileaf replied by letting loose this arrow, which also broke apart upon the warlock's shield, making her further furious.
"You deny them an afterlife and destroy them! I will not let you! This curse CAN be broken, and I will not let you never see that day! Give... Them... Back!"
Another arrow was notched, and the warlock replied by extending her scythe towards Resileaf, releasing from it several screaming souls that shot towards her. The Night elf rolled to the side to evade them, crouching behind a pillar for cover. When she raised her head to glance at her opponent, it was already too late. A green portal had been opened by the imp, and the worgen was passing through it to escape. Resileaf tried to shoot one final time... But the portal disappeared, and the arrow hit the wall behind where it had just been.

Resileaf simply stood there for a moment... She was gone. Her friend was gone. The warlock was gone. The only person who had ever cared for her in the past... It wasn't enough that she was trapped as a ghost in this place, now she was... Fuel for a warlock's spells... Gone forever before she could be freed... The emotions were simply too much. She raised her head to the sky and screamed out in primal rage, the noise echoing into the academy and the surrounding grounds...
Resileaf was in a daze afterwards. She wandered back out of the academy and sat down against a wall by the stairs that led to the building. She lost track of time afterwards, merely repeating 'she's gone' to herself once in a while. Pale, eyes looking at nothing in particular, she looked well and truly broken until suddenly, a hand slapped her shoulder hard enough to bruise it.

Startled, she looked up at the owner of that hand, and met the masked face of Xandric, who stood above her. He simply asked her who was gone, and Resileaf just found herself able to point at other spirits, who were slowly revealing themselves again. Her mind was blank, and most of the following discussion, she did not realize she was having. Until Xandric simply shrugged and said that if it was a worgen warlock, then that was it. They wouldn't be able to do anything because she was in the Alliance, and therefore an ally. Resileaf wanted to get angry. She wanted to stand up, grab Xandric's tabard and yell in his face. But her strength left her before she could do that. Only despair filled her as she lowered her head.
"So she's gone forever..."

Xandric just waved dismissively.
"Just track her. Find her and ask for that soul back."
Resileaf shook her head.
"But she ate her! She took her soul and will use it to fuel her spells! She's gone!"
"Some warlocks keep souls for a while before using them. Just go find her and maybe trade some demon souls for it or something?"

He didn't care... Resileaf's suffering was of no concern to him. This armored bastard simply stood smugly over her, acting as though nothing was wrong. As though nothing mattered.
So you want me to track her, do you? Fine then.
Wordlessly, Resileaf stood up and began to stumble away from the academy, although she was interrupted when she heard him speak on the guildstone.
"Permission to smack Resileaf?"
She turned back, keeping herself from snarling at him.
"What's wrong? I'm just following your advice to track her."
She could just imagine his mocking expression behind the helmet...
"You just said she had escaped through a portal­."
"And staying here won't do anything either. I'll search on my own."
Xandric looked around, waving at the general area the nagas resided.
"Then maybe you might want to not wander aimlessly in a naga's trident?"

Resileaf pulled her hood over her head.
"I am not worried about them."
Without waiting for an answer, she stepped away from him again, ignoring the guildstone, ignoring Xandric, ignoring the entire world around her. She would find that worgen. She would track her, and she would kill her, charges of treason be damned.

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The apocalyptic landscape of Dreadscar rift was not a very welcoming sight, but for many warlocks of the Alliance and the Horde, it was home. Away from Azeroth, free to pursue their own schemes in peace... Or as much peace as they could get surrounded by dozens of warlocks who were free to pursue their own schemes, often enough at the detriment of one another.

The most important location of the rift was the very top of the hill, where the corpse of the previous leader, a Pit Lord, was chained to a wall and his heart used as a focus for the leader of Black Harvest to empower their weapons. Only the leader was allowed to use the heart for this purpose, but any warlock could use the latent energies to do the same. Aleangen was one such warlock.

The Gilnean woman was standing by the pool of fel magma that surrounded the Pit Lord's (whose name escaped her) corpse, focusing the energies surrounding her on her newest morsel. She was known as the 'Soul-devourer' (because she learned that Soul-Eater had been taken by a Demon hunter), and her specialty was to devour the souls of her victims to empower herself. Any warlock worth their salt could do such a thing, but she exclusively did this herself, and using whole souls rather than the soul shards the majority of them used. The power it gave her was immense, although unstable and requiring of the consumption of more souls to make up for it. In the past, she did such by roaming the forests of Gilneas and draining the souls of unfortunate travelers.

After having seen the scythe that the leader of the Council used, Aleangen had the idea that perhaps she could do the same with her own scythe. She however needed more souls than usual, and more powerful ones as well, for the empowering of a weapon with souls was usually a temporary affair. She wanted to make it permanent. That was why she had gone to the academy of Azsuna filled with the cursed spirits of Night elves who perished ten thousand years ago. More souls than she knew what to do with, and not belonging to anyone since they were long-dead. The perfect place to harvest, so to speak.

Unfortunately for her, things had not gone particularly well. The majority of the souls were weak, faded... After ten thousand years of repeating the same actions over and over, they had mostly lost their luster. Not to mention they were merely students, and therefore weak by nature. Without ambition or strength. She sighed to herself, thinking that she should have aimed to claim the teachers.

Footsteps came up nearby, another warlock approaching the pool of fel-lava. Aleangen ignored her, as it was most likely another warlock seeking to use the latent energies of the heart for some purpose of their own. She was focused on the task at hand, to bind this one, powerful soul to her scythe. Of all the students she had consumed, this was the only one that was worth something. The soul was strong, pure... Whoever it had been in life must have been nearly a living saint. Those were the best souls, their holyness tasting so delightful, and sending surges of power throughout Aleangen's body. More than any other kind of soul, it was a delicacy, meant to be enjoyed and used for as long as possible. If she could bind it permanently to her scythe then, she felt that it would be a tremendous increase in potency. Why, perhaps even powerful enough to-
"A surprising location for that morsel, with a name like the "Soul Devourer.""

Aleangen glanced away from her binding process, toward the other warlock who had just arrived. She was still facing the fel pool, her face hidden by her cowl. It looked like a human woman, although the worgen could not be certain unless she turned to face her. With a little sigh, she closed her hand over the soul, and reabsorbed it into her body, interrupting the binding process. This woman wanted something with her, and would not let her continue this ritual in peace, so might as well focus on the conversation. She answers the woman with a raspy, growly voice.
"I trust you have a good reason for interrupting me."

There was the hint of a smile under that hood, as the other warlock answered.
" Oh, my pardons. I did not think so simple a ritual would be easily interrupted by commentary."

Aleangen's eyes thinned dangerously as she turned towards her, the red glow of her eyes intensifying threateningly under her hood. What did she even know about what she was doing? This woman was trying to provoke her, and she was succeeding. She entertained the idea of throwing her in the pool of fel lava and drain out her soul afterwards, but left those ideas for later. Whatever she wanted, might as well learn it now. The growl in her voice became more apparent as she answered with a snarl.
"I have little patience for stubborn souls, and even less for whelps like you. If you have a point, get to it."

The other warlock let out a little laugh and turned to face Aleangen fully. As the Gilnean had expected, this was definitely a human, although she kept most of her features hidden underneath her cowl.
"You recently stole the souls of many elf spirits in Azsuna. associate of mine...wants them released and returned."

The worgen tilted her head curiously as the human spoke... This meant she had been hired by someone.
"You mean the souls of the cursed spirits?"
Of course she did. There couldn't be any other spirits she refered to. There weren't any other available. Her thoughts went back to that time... To when she had just claimed this last, powerful soul, and a Night elf had attacked her, yelling something about letting go of her victims... She suddenly began to grin, understanding coming to her quickly afterwards.
"Ooh, I see... You must be an ally of this Night elf who interrupted me... This... Resileaf. She seemed quite taken with one of the souls I claimed."

She had done her research. The Night elf wore a tabard, and after a bit of searching, she found that it belonged to the organization known as the Twilight Empire. This organization was dedicated to seeking peace between the Alliance and the Horde. Further research allowed her to find out that one of their members, the Night elf who attacked her, was among their armed forces. Her name was easy to find out afterwards.
"And now she wants her back, hmm?"

The human shrugged, the gesture artfully careless.
"It hardly matters who my associate is. I only seek to secure future favors."
Her lips curl in a small smirk, visible under her hood.
"And I have been promised a favor of some value in the future should I secure the release of those souls. Favors are such powerful things."

She was delightfully transparent. Anyone with half a brain could figure out their relationship. This other warlock was most likely also in the Empire. She was not wearing any distinctive signs of such, but she could figure it had to be the case. A Night elf would not hire a random warlock for such a delicate and personal matter. It had to be a friend or a close associate.
"Well then, you can tell your 'associate' that the souls I claim are very... Precious to me. Especially this last one. So pure... So innocent... The best kind, wouldn't you agree? It makes up for all the weak, bland ones I took beforehand."
She paused for a moment to loudly lick at her chops hungrily, to make her point.
"If I were to even consider parting with it, I may need something equivalent."

The other human hummed lightly, as though thinking about it.
"Would I agree? I doubt it--I do not partake in the devouring of souls. I intend on living a long time instead of quickening my death with such an act, thank you."
She also put a little pause in her words to let them sink in.
"What use is the power we've claimed if we are not alive long enough to truly control it?"

Aleangen rolled her eyes dismissively. As though this was a problem. Sure, consuming souls caused deteriation of the body when their energy was fully used, but that just meant that another soul would prevent it from happening. She was very talented in such things, and only rarely went long enough without a meal to really feel herself withering away. One of those times, she had done it on purpose, just to know to recognize it when it happened again.
"Well, let's see... I am alive... And the souls I've devoured are not. I seem to have gotten the better part of the deal."

The human laughed again.
"For now. I play a long game, personally. But many of our talents lack the foresight to do so. A pity."
Another attempt at provoking her.
"So. What is it you "may" require?"

And there they came at the main part of this conversation. This so-called client wanted something... Well, Aleangen knew how to play that game. She licked her chops again as she answered.
"As I said, something equivalent... A soul for a soul. And since I'm going through the trouble of giving one back, a better soul... A righteous one. Strong, virtuous, the heroic kind. The kind that was once friend with the one I am asked to release. For what sacrifice is more noble than to give your soul to save that of your dear old friend?"
She knew the the self-righteous warlock in front of her would figure it out easily. She didn't make that a mystery after all.

The human chuckled lightly, and even though her eyes were hidden by her cowl, Aleangen could tell she had probably rolled them.
"Predictable. At least the request does not come as a surprise."
The worgen just grinned, bending over slightly to be more at eye level with the other warlock.
"I am at heart a very simple woman."

The human looked her interlocutor up and down, looking at her torn and tattered robes, dark-colored, and the wicked scythe she wielded.
"I gathered."
After a few more moments during which Aleangen just kept grinning down at her, the human finally continued.
"Very well. I shall take these terms back to my associate, and perhaps we will convince your intended of how -noble- a sacrifice it would be."
Aleangen answered by taking the sweetest tone of voice she could muster.
"I look forward to it~"

She was about to turn back to her binding when the human spoke again. Seemed like she had more to discuss.
"What of the other souls? I am told you devoured more than one that day."
Aleangen almost gagged at this. The memories of their taste was not a pleasant one.
"Oh, yes, those poor wretches. They hardly last long enough to be more than a snack. Those ten thousand years have not been kind to their fortitude. They are gone."
That had been a strong reminder of why she desired living souls to dead ones. Or at least long-dead ones...
The human nodded slightly, as though having expected as much.
"Not unexpected. Very well. I thank you for your time this night, Madam. I presume I shall be able to call upon you again within the Dreadscar, once I have discussed your terms with my associate?"

Aleangen grinned as she conjured the soul from earlier, and let the wisp-like substance dance between her fingers. "Of course... Do give her my best reguards. It is always a joy to interact with her kind."
A small smirk from the human.
"You assume a great deal, Madam. Simple, indeed."
After those parting words, the human dipped her head in a 'respectful' nod--perhaps even too respectful to be legitimate--and turned to leave. Her minion, which Aleangen had not even paid attention to, remained after for a moment before gliding towards Ketani with its gaze focused on the worgen warlock, who grinned to herself as she watched them leave... Immediately after they were out of sight, she snapped her fingers to summon her imp.

"Get a parchment and a quill, now. And write well! I don't want to see any scribbles on this letter!"
The mischievious demon growled, but did as he was asked, making a sheet of parchment and a quill appear out of thin air and preparing to write. Aleangen cleared her throat and began to dictate the letter...
"Dear General Larmont..."

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(( This next post takes place long after the situation with Aleangen is resolved, but it chronologically just happened, so I felt it better to post it now and add the finale of the story with Aleangen later. ))

Resileaf couldn't help but smile at the sight that surrounded her... The combined armies of the Kal'dorei, Quel'dorei and Sin'dorei, marching together in orderly ranks toward the Nighthold, the stronghold of the Nightborne's forces, Elisande's last bastion against them. Several weeks ago, they had assembled before the city. Last week, they marched on it, striking through the middle, capturing the harbor, and protecting it against the demons and Nightborne's attempts to retake it. Now, they were making their final strike. Now, they were claiming the city and liberating it from the demons' hold.

The people of Suramar had suffered so much under their tyrannical rule. She had rarely seen such suffering in the scouting missions she had to explore the city... An entire district purged. Innocents left to starve of mana on the public place to become withered. Demons walking around with impunity, killing civillians as they pleased.
No more.

Assembling the armies and getting them to cooperate hadn't been easy. Between the natural mistrust between the three elven species, the pranks between the armies and the attempts to sabotage their alliance by the Nightborne, things could have gone much worse. But they had pulled through, and now victory was within their reach. If they could defeat Elisande there, they would cripple the Legion's efforts and gain an important foothold to return to the broken shore to close the portal.

Of course, the battle wasn't won yet. The Nighthold would surely be protected by Elisande's strongest servants. Her most powerful magic defenses too. But the three combined armies, with their different capabilities, would surely be well-rounded enough to find victory today...

Tyrande raised her hand to call for the armies to halt as at the end of the bridge, before the gates to the Nighthold, appeared the image of Elisande, sneering down at the combined armies... Looking down upon the leaders of each army in turn, she began to speak.

"Kaldorei? You disgrace a glorious past, hiding in trees and cloaking yourselves in false piety. You have grown as savage as the trolls that skulk about your forest.

Quel'dorei? You are peasants playing at nobility, all too willing to mingle with lesser races that dilute your bloodline. You are unworthy of the name high elves.

Sin'dorei? Of all the elves, I thought you might understand the choice I made to save my people. Instead, you ally with misfits and monsters.

Each of you has debased your proud lineage. Each of you has forgotten the ancient power that is our birthright."

Resileaf kept herself from reacting, remaining impassive before the insults. She was not going to remain so smug for long... They were right before her, and just had to-

"Let this failed rebellion be a lesson to all who would stand against the Shal'dorei!"

A massive arcane shockwave suddenly began to extend from the gates, heading towards the assembled armies. Panic immediately filled the ranks, as Sentinels, blood knights and rangers all turned to run away from the shockwave, which flowed over them nearly instantly. Resileaf herself, near the front lines, didn't have the time to do so. She felt herself thrown in the air by the shockwave, and she placed her arms before her face, her eyes wide with panic as she tried to protect herself from the spell... And then nothing.

She remained suspended in the air. She felt no pain, somehow. She had thought at first that this spell would have caused an agonizing desintigration or something, and yet... She was still alive. Just in the air. Finding that she had been holding her breath for several seconds, she exhaled in relief...
Or tried to. No air came out of her lungs. Her eyes went wide at the realization, thinking that she was suffocating...
But her eyes did not move. Nothing moved. She couldn't turn her head, or her eyes, or her limbs. It was as though she had been frozen on the spot. And everything around her was... Silent... Still...

She began to panic. What was going on? What had Elisande done to them? What had happened to her companions? Were they in the same situation as she was? Had they escaped? Were they dead?
Why couldn't she escape? Why couldn't she move?

The answers never came.

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What is going on?
Days had passed since the events in Suramar. Despite her best attempt to do so, Resi hadn't been able to move a single muscle. Her body remained locked in midair, soundlessly, unable to do anything but look straight in front of her... It had been torture. She had kept herself distracted by attempting to do something about her situation, but nothing had worked. Her guild stone was dead, making her feel even more cut off from the world. Her prayers had gone unanswered. She had focused all of her energy on trying to move anything. The smallest muscle. Even an errant eye twitch would have been sufficient to satisfy her. But nothing worked.

Where is everyone?
Then she had tried to think about what was happening to her. Visibly, this wasn't a normal stasis spell. It had gone on for much longer than it should, and in her experience, she still had a limited movement range in those situations. No, she was well and truly frozen in the air, and couldn't even see well beyond a few feet. Everything further than that was blurry, as though separated from her by an invisible sheen.

Why won't anyone help me?
Time was taking its toll, however. Despite being exhausted from being awake for so long, Resileaf couldn't actually fall asleep. Her eyes remained wide open, and her mind was unable to shut down at all. If anything, she was paradoxically getting more restless as her exhaustion grew. Why couldn't she rest? Why did she have to be conscious still? Time was just moving to a crawl for her, every agonizing second feeling longer with each one that passed.

The worst part by far... Was that no one had come. She had not seen a single soul since the spell had struck her. No one had come to the rescue, no one had tried to contact her, no one was attempting to help her. She hadn't been forgotten, had she..?
Someone was going to help her, right..?

Someone help me... Please...

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The Goddess protects me... The Goddess protects me... My mind is clear and my will is strong... She will safeguard me from harm...

Over and over, Resileaf had repeated those words in her mind, a mantra to stay sane. The sensory deprivation she was suffering was taking it's toll on her, forcing her to keep her mind focused on something lest she simply lose herself... Naturally, she had turned to prayer.

The Goddess protects me... The Goddess protects me... My mind is clear and my will is strong... She will safeguard me from harm...

At least no one had come to attack her or the rest of the army. She took solace with the fact that she was physically safe. Without the worry of being attacked while in so vulnerable a state, she felt at least relieved of one burden. It only meant that all she needed was to wait for rescue... It would surely come soon now...

“Oh, Resileaf…”, she heard a familiar voice say nearby behind her. She felt hope rise in her heart. This was Myaka! She saw the armored woman walk into her field of vision, although the sight was still blurry, like she wasn't quite there... But still, no matter. That was her for certain, and that meant that she was going to be saved.
I knew the Empire would come for me...

“Resileaf?” She said firmly, “If you can hear me, we will get you out of this, we will find a way to break this magic and see you free.”
Myaka's voice came to her strangely muffled, as though the elf was underwater and hearing her voice distorted from the surface.
... What? No... No, don't tell me you can't free me yet! I need to get out of here! I can't stay here any longer or I'm going to lose my mind! Please free me, Myaka! Don't leave me here!

“We are sorry it took us a few days to come looking, We-“ Myaka shakes her head slightly, “-I- should have come looking sooner.”
That's fine! That's completely fine, I don't mind! But please do something!

“I have to leave, what resistance my armor and shield are giving me is slowly dwindling, I can’t help you if I am trapped as well. But if I can build that resistance back up, I’ll come back.”
The human turned to leave, and Resileaf felt despair start creeping up again. She began to scream in her mind.
No! No, don't go! Don't leave me here! Please! I can't take it anymore! I beg you, don't leave me here! Myaka!

Of course, to no avail, for the human couldn't hear her. She walked away, out of Resileaf's field of view, her footsteps quickly fading away as Resileaf continued to scream for her to come back before going back to repeating her mantra... With far fewer conviction than before.

The Goddess protects me... The Goddess protects me... My mind is clear and my will is strong... She will safeguard me from harm... She will... She will...

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The Goddess has abandonned me... The Goddess has abandonned me... Everyone has abandonned me...

Please come back, Myaka... Please don't leave me alone again... I can't take it anymore...

I'm all alone. I'm all alone. No one will save me. No one will bring me out of here. No one. No one. Noonenoonenoonenoone...


I beg... I beg you... Can't...

I... I...


Edited by Resileaf
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Deep beneath the earth under Suramar, directly at the base of the Nightwell, a creature of immense power, with control over time itself, was slain by heroes of the Alliance the Horde. The creature had been created by Grand Magistrix Elisande to keep her time stop spell working, the one that had trapped the combined Night, Blood and High elven armies at the gates of the Nighthold. And with it's destruction, the time stop was unraveled. The area it affected began to shimmer. It's victims, most of them suspended in the air by the force of the spell, began to move... Shouts of panic that had been cut off suddenly resumed as soldiers and sentinels resumed their fall. There were loud crashes as ballistas, glaive throwers and golems slammed into the ground as well, by some miracle avoiding to crush one of the elves around them. As soon as they landed, the soldiers scrambled to their feet to prepare themselves for what they thought would be a follow up attack...

Only to find nothing of the sort. Elisande's image had disappeared, no Nightborne soldiers were rushing out to attack them, no spell bombarded them in this position. Nothing happened. There were confused murmurs as they looked to their leaders for orders, but neither Tyrande, nor Lady Liadrin were still here. With no guidance, they went to look for wounded and figure out their situation first.

Resileaf, however, had not gone back to her feet. She landed hard on her back, though thankfully her armor kept the harm done to just a few bruises from the violent landing. Nonetheless, she did not move at all, and went limp on the ground, staring at the night sky. Her breathing was steady, but mechanical. Her eyes were vacant, looking at nothing in particular. Her face was blank. Her mind had shut down. After nearly two months of being suspended in time, one of the very unlucky ones to keep her awareness intact during that time, she had simply not been able to take it any further. This torture had been too much for her, and had broken her mind.

A couple of Sentinels arrived and kneeled next to her to examine her. The first immediately checked her life signs, while the other spoke softly to her.
"Commander, can you hear us? Commander?"
The other frowned in confusion.
"I don't get it... She's breathing normally and everything. Maybe the arcane energy knocked her out?"

Their was the sound of someone running over to them in armor, making them turn around to see Myaka, breathless from running, stop right next to them.
"Oh, thank the Light! You're all free... And Resileaf is as well... Is she alright?"
The two sentinels gave an unsure shrug as they tried lifting the elf's limp body.
"We have no idea. She appears to be knocked out and isn't responding to us."

The human warrior frowned in concern and approached closer, to stand over Resileaf. She softly called out to her.
"Resileaf..? Resi? Can you hear me? It's me, Myaka..."
To no avail, the Priestess of the Moon remained motionless, save for her breathing. Biting her lower lip, Myaka cursed under her breath as she considered her next action...
"I'm going to bring her to Dalaran to get treated immediately. Somewhere away from the front lines."

The two Sentinels nodded, and took hold of Resileaf again to help drape her over Myaka's shoulder, which would be the easiest way for her to carry her considering the size difference between them, even if her feet dragged on the floor. One of the Sentinels spoke.
"Good idea. We're not sure what just happened, to be honest, so we can't really focus on treatment. Once we find the High Priestess, we'll have a better idea of our next move..."
The second one gasped in sudden shock.
"Oh, Goddess, what if that spell was intended to capture her?"

Myaka frowned, realizing that neither of those elves had realized that they had just come out of nearly two months of being locked in time... Rather than explain the situation to them, however, she gave priority to giving Resileaf treatment and left the scene, to take a portal back to Dalaran with the motionless elf.

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((Transcript of the last part of the Darnassus burning RP from TE's Discord channel))
Resileaf watches as all the Imperials stream through the Temple of the Moon and enter the portal to Stormwind. She stood beneath the arch of the Temple's entrance for a moment, looking at the portal... Looking back into the blazing city... She stepped back into the Temple and stood in front of a group of Priestesses. None of them were going through that portal, she knew.
"Sisters. I will seek more survivors... Protect the Temple just a little bit longer."
"Elune watch you, Priestess Ravenwing."
"And may She welcome you in Her embrace as well."
She stepped back towards Leon, Myaka's gryphon, and climbed on his back.
"Just one more trip, friend. Just one more.", she said as she cast a protective barrier around him and herself. And back into the inferno they went.
Resileaf flew through Darnassus from atop Leon, seeking to hear the screams and pleas through the crackling fire. If there was even a single person left in the city, she had to find them. She couldn't leave anyone to perish... Finally she heard them. Screaming voices calling for anyone's help. Directing Leon in that direction, she found a house, miraculously still intact. Inside, a family of five, trapped behind the flames.
"There! Take me closer!", she called as she cast a divine beam of silver light before the entrance to the house, extinguishing the flames instantly. Leon landed, and the Priestess motionned for the family to come out. The five elves streamed out, crying and breaking into thanks. Each of them climbs on top of Leon... And Resileaf realizes that the gryphon is struggling to carry all five of them. She is silent for a moment, as she slowly grows to understand what this means. She approaches the gryphon, and leans in to whisper into his ear.
"Go now... Save them and yourself... You have been more than brave enough."
The gryphon would caw disapprovingly, probably trying to convince Resileaf to climb as well.
"Hurry and go! Do not let those five lives be extinguished with us. Save them, and return to Myaka. I will... I will find my own way out of here..."
Leon gave her a disapproving glare again, but relented. Flapping his wings hard, he took flight, leaving Resileaf behind.
The Priestess was trapped by the flames now. She did not even try to find a way back to the Temple. The only thing that kept her alive was the aura of silvery light that kept the inferno at bay. And it was fading fast. The heat was getting to her. The smoke was choking her. She felt weak in the knees, and stumbled only a few steps before she lost her footing and fell on her knees. Grabbing at her throat, Resileaf felt strangely numb. Emotionally numb. As she looked around, she saw images going through her mind. The Horde rampaging through Ashenvale. The piles of dead in Astranaar. The destruction of Darkshore. And now this.
"We had surrendered...", she found herself saying.
"There were only civilians here..."
"You killed them all..."
"You killed us all..."
"You murderers..!"
As the flames intensified around her, Resileaf felt rage bubbling up within her. As the fire engulfed her, she began to scream to the sky. As the inferno consumed her, she bellowed in rage.
As she was lost to the fires, Resileaf screamed until the flames drowned her screams.
Until there was nothing left.
Until she died.
Edited by Resileaf
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