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Mavis Audrapel

Soldier's Heart

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“It sounds like your nightmares stem from war.”

Mavis let the Archdruid’s words play over in his head as the statue of Antonidas hovered above, the shadow changing shape as it rotated steadily. The park was a sanctuary from the crowds and bustle of Dalaran, allowing the worgen to decompress as he tried to gather his courage. Calavian’s interest in his nightmares had been solely on his daughter’s wishes, she had thought she had been helping and out of respect to the child the druid had sought to render what aid he could. For reasons he couldn’t explain Calavian’s admission that he couldn’t help with the problem had been relief but it still remained that his night terrors were disturbing the child and for that he needed to suppress them.

Mavis ran his mind over the drugs he’d become familiar with during his guard duties but most of what he could remember about them were their side effects or if they made the user aggressive, nothing that was discretely manageable in sane doses.  Katelle had been one of the first medical practitioners he had found in the Stormwind directory that Mavis hadn’t been force been called to investigate when he was still a guard and looked like she knew what she was doing. He was surprised to know that the woman already had two children and was expecting a third, putting him more at ease in terms of prescribing sedatives that would not be at risk of killing him

Katelle’s concerns about prescribing the medication were heavily focused on abuse and though Mavis had insisted it was not going to be a concern she had wanted to consult with a medic for proper dosage, until then Mavis had busied himself with whatever he could to avoid sleep.

As he sought out tasks to stay awake Mavis discovered there was no shortage of finding things to do around the Caravan, Tuuroto’s interpretation of repairs seemed to primarily involve a lot of sap, rope and optimism that everything would hold together and didn’t bother with anything else unless it had inevitably broken worse and it was beyond the usual stop gap measures. He had tried to explain the need to fix things before they were broken to the Draenei but was ultimately met with hand waving and more blind optimism until he gave up and just continued to handle it on his own.

After following up with the maintenance he moved onto other errands, primarily making repairs to Margoz’s estate and following up with temporarily lodgings that would comfortably house two people during planting and harvest. He staggered, feeling a wave of exhaustion as he tried to hammer the next few boards into place. He couldn’t remember how long he’d been away at this point, was it three or two? Did it really matter? He’d at least lost track of why he was even bothering to keep himself awake.

Emily.

That’s right he didn’t want Emily to worry…but Emily wasn’t here today. He’d left her with Margoz while he was doing repairs…or Calavian or…

The worgen lowered his head as he realized just how much the lack of sleep was starting to affect him and Emily wasn’t even there. Finally giving in he ducked into the stables and located a few seed sacks that would make a decent bed before succumbing to sleep.

The dreams didn’t come immediately as he was welcomed into sweet oblivion but eventually they coalesced into the familiar farmhouse on the hill mixed with the sweet smells of baking bread that invited him home. His father’s failing health had prevented  him from being able to make even basic repairs on the home but  it seemed that he had finally managed to get the steps repaired and even done some weeding in the front of the house, making room for his mother’s beloved lavender blossoms that bloomed in the height of spring. Passing through the door Mavis moved to the side to avoid a collision as his daughter sped past him while the smells of baking become increasingly stronger. “Mom?”

His mother poked her head out of the kitchen and smiled. “Welcome home Mavis, we’re just about to eat.”

There was a relief as he felt the pleasant comfort of home and made his way to the table. “Is dad in the field?”

When she didn’t answer he moved ahead toward the back door to check, looking out the back as he tried to catch sight of his father. The field looked different than he remembered, the air thick with the smoke of gunpowder and fire as rolling tanks cut a path of destruction through the siege. It took him a moment to realize he was shaking as he backed away and shut the door. “Mom?”

“What’s wrong dear?” Her head slid down from her shoulders as she spoke bounding twice before it rolled at his feet, the soft serene smile looking up from a cold steel helmet as the canons burst around him. He put his hands to his ears as he tried to shut it out while his arms grew thick with dark black fur. He screamed as the fire burned around him and chunks of meat exploded in every direction, brought on by a burst of light.  He tried to shut his eyes but the transformation forced them open again, bringing an added clarity to the chunks of meat that he didn’t want or ask for. His eyes fell on the hope chest with horror as the chunks of meat took shape into the image of a small dark haired child.

Mavis screamed, only aware that he was awake again when he realized that he wasn’t burning with the fire. His fur felt wet and covered in sweat, brought on by the panic of the dream. She took several deep breaths, waiting for the shaking to subside before standing up and getting back to work.

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Mavis stared into the case of individual blue vials, counting out thirteen doses. If everything worked as well as the last dose that meant that he was guaranteed at least two weeks of restful sleep but he’d need to ask Katelle it he wanted more. It was hard to complain about anything that wasn’t the night terrors he had grown accustomed to but his drugged dreams while not horrific, had been strange and uncomfortable. He didn’t feel any better, he just felt functional.

 Maybe this was the new normal he thought, I’ll need these medications to function.

 When he had joined the front his father had been upset, he hadn’t tried to talk him out of it but instead had made it clear to Mavis that he had prepared himself to lose another son. Until now he had thought it was a knee jerk reaction after his brother’s death, he hadn’t thought there were other ways to be lost, not until he started to sympathize with old drunk Farrell and realized that he understood why he drank.

He looked over to Emily and reminded himself why he was accepting this help before forcing down the vial of blue liquid before laying down to sleep. Emily liked to curl up near his chest, snuggling into his fur on restful nights when the dreams were mild so he always made sure to create room and lay around her if she bedded down first. His daughter’s hair was a tangled mess that at this point would need a good pair of scissors and a decent stylist.  He’d need to bring her to Dalaran for that.

The Stormwind prison had been one of the few buildings that hadn’t been completely razed after the first war and many of the old cells constructed centuries ago still remained. The cells were meant to house multiple felons, usually up to five in the most economical way possible. The design was not necessarily flawed unless someone made a mistake and didn’t separate someone that was violently dangerous. The familiar scene played out in a crawling pace of every second, a prisoner floated suspended in air as crimson ribbons of blood flowed from his torso, Officer Graham torn to pieces, the remaining two cellmates either cowering in a corner or dead where they lay, their faces frozen in a silent scream as a twisted beast of man and wolf tore apart the guard before it.

He felt the weight of his armor as he held his sword at guard, only realizing his ability to move as the beast broke from the pattern of his memories, turned its head and looked at him. “You haven’t dreamed of this in years.”

The awareness surprised him and for a moment Mavis considered whether he should lower his sword or hold firm. The worgen snorted, rendering silent judgement. “Well if you’re awake is it alright if I let this go?”

When Mavis offered no response the beast merely shrugged and removed his hands from the corpse, both sections of Officer Hutchins as the worgen approached. “I think you should take that pharmacist’s advice, it’s not healthy to keep avoiding this problem.”

Mavis lowered his sword, no longer seeing the point, dimly he knew he was dreaming but everything was of such perfect clarity that he questioned his own reality.

“No, I’m not really.”

“What?” the answer took him by surprise.

“That’s what you’re asking right? This is just another dream, actually…I think I died. In exactly thirty seconds five more guards will rush into this cell and I’ll be killed, you’ll be almost killed and that whimpering mess in the corner with the scratch will be dead with everyone else. It’s actually surprising that you don’t dream of this more often, it’s the exact moment where things went wrong, the precise second where your life took that turn and you became defined by a curse.”

“The curse doesn’t define me.”

“It does make a convenient excuse. I could tell you how many humans you ate if you’re still curious, or are we still pretending you didn’t do that?”

“Who are you?” a part of him already suspected the answer.

The worgen tilted his head. “In this dream I’m supposed to be the man who cursed you.”  The terrified Gilnean stood before him, replacing what mavis had sworn had been the worgen the man had become. “I wonder how much screaming I did between when they locked me up and I started to change.”

“You’re all in my head.”

“I am your head; direct thought, no emotion, no barriers…we don’t get to talk much, but medications have side effects and you’re seeing your dreams with more clarity than what’s normal. I could go into more detail but you won’t remember.  It doesn’t seem fair though, you have the option to forget things whereas I have to be the one to remember” The Gilnean outstretched his arms and gave the body a full examination. “I think I’ll keep this, is that okay with you?”

The question took him by surprise. “sure…go ahead.”

“great.” Arms still outstretched, he began to back away again as auburn fur populated his body and the worgen took its position behind the suspended halves of the guardsman. He hesitated. “Oh, you probably won’t listen, but I wanted to ask you not to”

“Not to what?”

“It’s just…not a good idea.”

The worgen took hold of the guard again as the memory played itself out the usual way in a detached replay of events as the beast tore through his arm and hurled him at the wall before tearing open his insides and swallowing a chunk of flesh before its own blood was spilled by the edge of a sword.

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Mavis first came back into awareness by shaking, though it was a full minute before he felt himself able to stir and focus on the still blurred image of his daughter Emily. He didn’t know how long she’d been shaking him but the light at least informed him it was midday and Emily was angry. “Sorry kid, I guess I overslept.”

 

The five year old was still in pout mode, crossing her arms to express dissatisfaction. “Grandpa says it’s lazy to sleep in!”

 

Mavis clutched his head in an attempt to suppress the sharp pounding pain in his skull, he glanced over to his mother’s hope chest, the only piece of furniture inside the tent, he’d forgotten to close it last night, it was probably luck that nothing was missing. “Emily why don’t you go see if there’s any soup? Then we can get going.”

 

The child stomped her foot, still clearly angry, but hunger was an excellent motivator and she ran out of the tent to obey her father, Mavis kept an eye on her, making sure he could still see Emily as he attempted to recover from last night, he was lucky she hadn’t noticed. Forcing himself  up he stepped over to the hope chest and examined the contents, taking note of the several empty vials  that had been haphazardly stuck back into their case and hung his head as he tried to decide how he should be about his failure.  Mavis set the empty vials right and shut the case, burying it down  in the bottom underneath some old clothing and papers where it wasn’t likely to be found, reflecting back he had picked the worst night for this and he couldn’t even put off his meeting with Katelle if he wanted a re-stock.

 

His head hurt, it was a logical side effect from last night but it made the pain no less worse. If he could have stayed in sleeping he would have, but missing an appointment would have just created more problems and so Mavis found himself in Stormwind again, standing outside of Katelle's shop and giving the usual three knocks.

 

A slight "oof" can be heard, followed by footsteps dropping heavily onto the wooden floor from inside. A moment later, Katelle cracks the door open; she smiles when she sees Mavis, pulling the door open to admit the man to her office. "Good afternoon, Mr. Audrapel," she offers by way of greeting. "I'm glad to see you today. Can I get you something to drink?"

"Water plaes." He looked around and then checked to see if Katelle was out of breath as he moved into the office. "Were you in a hurry?"

 

She nods, shutting the door behind him. She doesn't seem out of breath at all, but the cabinets in the top part of the hutch she serves drinks from are both open. She reaches up on tip-toe to shut them before grabbing the water carafe and pouring two glasses (one of which is sized for Mavis). "Not in a hurry, no; just trying to reach the back of the cabinet. I'm not exactly blessed with great height," she says with a small laugh, murmuring for him to have a seat as she turns and offers him the water. "It took a bit of climbing, but I managed it."

 

Mavis muttered a yes, staring at his drink as he tried to focus, intent on holding it together at least for this meeting. "We had a check up this week"

 

"We did, yes." She studies him as she takes her own seat, the usual one during these meetings. "How are you feeling?"

 

He muttered. "I'm not having the nightmares...but the dreams....they're weird. " He took a sip from his water, his nose wrinkling at the taste before forcing the rest down. "They should be nightmares but I don't feel how I should"

 

Katelle raises an eyebrow at his expression, but doesn't immediately comment. "That's unsurprising, given how the potion works. Sometimes our minds just don't know how to react when they are barred from doing so as they normally would." She cocks her head to the side. "How are you feeling physically?"

 

"...what do you mean? I wake up okay"

 

"Are you experiencing any headaches? Stomach upset? Sensitivities to stimuli? Strange sensations in your chest--specifically lungs or heart?"

 

"Uh. A little, it's not so bad. Just my stomach." He didn't want to mention the lighting, or that he was having trouble focusing. He didn't know how long Emily had been screaming at him but at least she only seemed to think he had overslept. He should have made sure she wasn't around. "It takes time to settle....do I need to eat before?"

 

The rogue frowns; he'd asked this last time, and had seemed to understand her response. "Yes," she says slowly. "You should; that's the easiset way to prevent most stomach upsets caused by the ingredients." She cocks her head to the side, watching him carefully. "Of the doses you've taken so far, have you taken them as I instructed?"

 

He stared at her, hopefully not lazily as he searched for an answer. "Not...always. I had to meet someone in Dalaran and...there was an issue with fireworks. The bodyguard said I had a panic attack and...I took a dose to finish up the meeting." He'd also taken several other doses later that night, but he was hoping to avoid that discussion

 

Katelle is quiet for a moment as she tries to figure out if Mavis's pauses are a result of his hesitancy, or some sluggishness of the brain.

 

"And when the evening came around, did you take a single dose as prescribed?"

 

He hesitated before answering, He wasn't used to lieing, it wasn't normally in his nature, plus he was bad at it. Still, most people seemed to have trouble discerning intent from worgen faciel expressions and he wasn't about to come clean. "Yes. I had a mistake with the extra dose though....they were broken when I tried to put the empty ones away"

 

Katelle frowns. "Mavis," she murmurs. "Those vials were enchanted to be indestructible."

 

The worgen tensed, he'd forgotten about that, he scrambled to remedy his response. "We're camped near cliffs, I just assumed they were broken"

"They were lost in the rocks"

 

The next question is asked calmly, without judgment. "Are you lying to me?"

 

He stared at her, the wheels in his head turning with possible responses from honesty to a bigger lie...he stuck with the basics. "I'm not a very good liar. Do you think I would do something I'm bad at?""

 

She smiles gently, blue eyes sad. "I think you would lie, or at least omit pertinent facts, if you were desperate to avoid discussing the truth." He'd done similar things in their prior discussions; evasiveness clearly came easy to him, if nothing else.

 

"I...don't know what you're talking about"

 

"Mavis," she repeats. Her tone is still gentle, but there is an undercurrent of steel to her voice--the kind of steel inherent in someone who is used to getting accurate answers to their questions. "I do not take kindly to being lied to. What happened to the other doses?"

 

He avoided looking at Katelle, instead facing the door as he was suddenly filled with the desire to make his exit, the steel in her voice tugged at his memories of his mother and the same tone when her children had tried something they weren't supposed to. His voice came muffled, hesitant and small for his size, suddenly caught in the reality of his lie. "I used them"

 

Even when he looks away, Katelle's gaze stays firmly pinned on the worgen next to her. "How many of them, and when?" Despite all, her voice is still soft.

 

"All of them...Last night"

 

Katelle's gaze turns sad. "Were you trying to get past the dreams, into a dreamless sleep? Or were you trying to kill yourself?" She doesn't falter on the last two words like many others might.

 

"I don't know." Despite the sluggishness he squirmed uneasily under the questioning. "Both?" He didn't seem to know himself, struggling with the answer "I just wanted to stop thinking about it anymore."

 

She nods as if having expected this answer; perhaps she expected any answer he would have given her. "I know you're probably going to balk at this," she says slowly, "but I want you to talk to my sister. She's a priestess at the Cathedral, but has seen her fair share of...things she thinks she should just swallow and get over." She uses as close to Mavis's own wording as she can recall. "I think you two have a lot in common, and I think she might be able to help you better than potions alone can. And I can promise you that she will not judge or break your privacy."

 

Mavis bowed his head, lowering his muzzle into his paws as he covered his face, the wolf didn't create tears but the side effects of the overdose had created such apathy he didn't think he could if he had the ability. "I'm not getting anymore prescriptions am I?"

 

"Not right now," she murmurs gently. "I want to trust that you won't do this again, Mavis, but I understand desperation...and I know that it drives us to do things we might not otherwise do. I want to see you heal, not hear of your grieving daughter."

 

He shuddered at that, strangely he hadn't even considered Emily. In a second realization he understood that without the doses the night terrors were likely to return. "If I see your sister, will you help me again?"

 

"If she thinks its safe to, yes." She frowns, cocking her head to the side. "I might be able to give you something for generalized anxiety to take the edge off, but it would just be that: the edge. I can't in good conscience give you something stronger for the time being."

 

The Worgen nodded slowly. "I understand...

 

Kate nods, setting her untouched water glass aside and rising. She pads over to the same cabinet drawer that she retrieved the previous potions from the week before. She kneels before it, placing a hand on wood. After a moment of intense concentration, the drawer glows gently; when the glow fades, she opens the drawer and retrieves another small case. "As needed," she states simply, rising from the floor with a soft exhalation. "They shouldn't have many side effects, and there aren't enough here to harm you much if you take all of them, even with alcohol and on an empty stomach. That's why they only take the edge off. The vials are the same type as before--indestructible, tamper proof, et cetera." She offers him the case; inside are many vials of a pastel-green liquid.

 

He takes the case, staring at it, still looking considerably smaller than any worgen should. "What if I have another episode?" He remembered what he saw in the dalaran sewers.

 

"They'll help with that, too," she says softly. "I know it can be hard to avoid things that set it off...something very similar to this helped me for a long time. It might not soothe the acute panic all the way, but it should still help gentle it some."

 

He nodded, taking a deep breath. "Okay"

 

Kate watches the man for another moment before resuming her seat. She shifts to face him fully, gaze still gentle. "My sister's name is Aryanna Anahi. I'm going to let her know that you'll be coming to see her in the near future. I'm also going to inform her of what we've discussed in our meetings, so that she has an idea of how to immediately proceed. As I said, she won't judge you or break your confidence."

 

"i understand" his response was near a whisper

 

"Hey." She cranes her neck to get a better look at him, trying to get into his line of sight. "We're going to try our best to make sure you come out of this okay, alright? All of us, you included."

 

He nodedded, turning his head to look at Katelle, he looked weak, guilty, even ashamed as he forced himself to his feet. "I need to get to work."

 

"I understand," she says, standing with him. "When you're done, go back to Emily. Spend some time with her, tell her you love her. Children need that, and sometimes we don't say it as often as we should."

 

He nodded, head bowed as he slipped out of the office.

 

Katelle watches the Worgen go until she loses sight of him on the streets of Stormwind.

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Mavis looked at the note in his paw, scrawled hastily with a name and location, it had been years since he'd visited the Cathedral or even attended services at all and it felt strange to return. He flagged down an acolyte and nervously questioned him on the wherabouts of Aryanna.

 

Aryanna could be found in one of the many small rooms that filled the Cathedral and housed those that learned or taught within its walls. Her room was rather spartan in its decor. A simple bed, a chest for her clothes, and a desk where she could write. It was at that desk that was was currently seated, a piece of parchment in front of her, on which she drew intricate lines, forming ornate shapes and glyphs on the parchment. She was dressed as simply as her room was decorated. A light linen robe, sandals, and nothing more. Her auburn hair hung down around her face as she worked, masking her as she bent down over the desk focusing intensely on her work. She would probably not react to any knock at the door, though it was partly ajar and would be easy to push open.

 

The worgen was towering, a lean muscular build and wearing simple leathers, he hesitantly knocks on the foor frame, looking smaller emotionally as he begins to question his approach

 

It would take a few knocks before Aryanna would look up from her work. "Yes? Come in."

 

The knob turned and Mavis swallowed as he opened it, looking down at the woman hesitently. "My name is Mavis Audrapel, Katelle said I should speak with you" He sounded unsure, as if he didn't know if he was really supposed to be there

 

The priestess turned, setting her quill down on the desk and smiling up at the worgen. "Yes, she had mentioned something to me. Please, have a seat. I'm sorry I don't have more comforts to offer you, but I'm very rarely back in Stormwind these days."

 

Mavis shook his head. "It's alright, I'm used to roughing it." He looked for a seat that he felt might support his size and settled on the bed, the wood creaking from a weight not meant to support something so large.

 

Aryanna turned her chair so that she could face the worgen. "Katelle gave me a brief idea of what has been going on, but why don't you tell me in your own words?"

 

He hesitated, looking up. "I don't know, I'm tired. I lost my father a month ago, my mother was three years before that. I have a daughter and I don't ..nothing feels normal"

 

She nodded. "Keep going. What's been going on lately that makes everything seem not normal?"

 

"I have...dreams...bad dreams. I don't remember it all, e- do I have to talk about this?"

 

Aryannah nodded, giving him a sad sort of smile. "Unfortunately. It's necessary for me to get a handle on what sort of help you require. And discussing what's happening to you or what's causing it--and confronting it--can be a big first step in making it go away."

 

He growled unconsciously, a reaction to his own frustrations. "That's it. I. Don't. Know. I just have trouble....coping. Someone set off fireworks a week ago, just playing around I guess and I just...It was like I was living my nightmares, but awake. The mage said I didn't even look like I knew where I was. But, It's like I'm looking at the world as a stage play, one of those punch and judy shows and I'm watching in the back."

 

Aryanna frowned. "I see. Well, has something happened to you in the past that may be triggering these events? Something particularly traumatic?"

 

"I'm a worgen" he sighed "Nothing more than the usual. I mean, I joined the front lines after I left the guard, but that's just the usual day to day. You learn to cope with the chaos or you just suck it up and walk it off"

 

She chuckled softly. "I can see that you're a worgen. I assume, though, that if this were nothing more than trauma concerning your curse, you would have no need to come speak to me. But you mentioned the guard. How have you been finding ways to cope with the chaos out on the front lines against the Legion?"

 

He shook his head. "I never dealt with the legion. I was discharged before than, after the assault on Grommashar.”

 

She blinked. "After the Siege? How long have you been having these issues, then?"

 

He shrugged. "It didn't start until recently, trying to get back into society. After I got back from Draenor I just sort of...went into Darkshire and stayed there..."

"I stayed there for a long time, a year maybe"

 

She nodded. "So you were sequestered away from others after you returned from combat duty?"

 

He looked down. "...voluntarily"

 

"And why did you feel the need to sequester yourself?"

 

"That day I walked home. I didn't run, didn't take a horse...I couldn't. When I saw my daughter outside playing, my dad watching from the door...I don't know, they looked so happy. I didn't want to ruin that. If I came home I would have just upset everyone's lives again. So I dropped everything, buried my armor and went into the woods."

 

"You would have upset them? Why?"

 

"Because they were happy. I wasn't, I wasn't even human"

 

"Were you infected with the worgen curse after you were deployed?"

 

He shook his head. "Before. Right before the Cataclysm."

 

"So why would you not being human have alarmed them?"

 

"Because I couldn't shift back."

 

She raised an eyebrow. "You can't?"

 

He shook his head. "Not since Draenor."

 

"Any idea why?"

 

He shook his head

 

"I see. I'm not familiar enough with the worgen curse to speculate as to why, but perhaps there's something more there we need to explore. But you said you weren't happy either. What was wrong when you returned through the Portal?"

 

"What was wrong?"

 

"Why were you not happy? You said it felt wrong, so why?"

 

Mavis growled "I don't know, it just...it just felt like nothing" He sighed. "I'm sorry, do we have to keep talking about this? can we take a break?"

 

She nodded. "We can take a bit of a break if you need."

 

"I...should get home." He stood up

 

"I want you to come see me again soon."

 

"..okay"

 

"Shall we say in a couple days?"

 

"..sure" He moved slowly to the door and gave one last passing glance to the woman

 

"May the Light bring you serenity, Mr. Mavis. We'll speak again soon."

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Katelle knocked upon the door to announce her presence, provided she wasn't shown in by a servant.

Brianna held a little black haired girl of about five in her arms, propped up sturdy on her hip. The child rested her head on Brianna's shoulder as her arms clung to the woman's neck. She glanced towards the door at the knock, letting Rorrek see to it.

Rorrek glanced back and nodded before proceeding to the door. Walking alongside him was their draenei daughter, Vatya, whose hooves clattered excitedly against the floor. The door was opened to the temporary lodgings and he offered a cordial smile. "Well met." He then stepped aside and gestured for Katelle to follow. However, Vatya had stopped and was staring openly at Katelle's stomach.

Katelle offered a smile as soon as she recognized the visage opening the door. "Good afternoon, Rorrek," she greeted warmly. The rogue stepped forward, except for Vatya. Instead, she smiled in amusement down at the little girl. "Hello there. How are you today?"

Brianna shifted Emily in her arms as the girl lifted her head, curious of the new person. Her eyes were slightly red rimmed, as if she had been crying, but she was momentarily distracted. Brianna gave her cheek a small kiss before glancing to the group.

Rorrek saw the door closed behind Katelle as she stepped inside. Vatya remembered herself then, snapping to attention. Her little hands went behind her back as she swayed from side to side. "I am very good! Thank you!" she says as if practiced.

Katelle chuckled. "Good. I'm glad to hear it." She stepped fully inside the quarters and past Rorrek, offering Brianna a smile as well--and a particularly warm one to the black haired girl, though she didn't recognize the child.

Brianna grinned at her daughter before shifting her emerald gaze to Katelle. "Good afternoon."

"It's good to see you looking well, Brianna. And who is this?" Katelle came a little closer, but was fully cognizant of the fears of young children and strangers. She didn't come too close.

Rorrek stepped down and took Vatya's hand in his once more. The little girl clung behind his leg as she watched the guest. "Please, come and sit," he offered whilst motioning to the nearest seat and table.

Katelle smiled. "I think I will, thank you."

Brianna dipped her head in likewise agreement. "And you." Afterwards, she glanced to the child in her arms. "This is Emily. Say hello won't you, darling?" The little girl glanced to Katelle but, shifted her head shyly and pressed her face into Brianna's neck. She smiled sympathetically. "She's a bit tired," she said as way of explanation.

Katelle hummed softly as she lowered herself into the seat, adjusting a moment until she was comfortable. "Of course," she murmured. "It's nice to meet you, Emily. I'm Kate."

Vatya tugged on Rorrek's sleeve after Brianna spoke. "Ve played all night, Papa! That is vhy she is tired!" she exclaimed with pride. Emily curiously turned her face to peek at Katelle again, though half of her face was still shadowed. "...hello," she mumbled.

Katelle rested a hand on her abdomen, the other on her crossed knee. The rogue made it a point to look as unintimidating as possible.

Brianna glanced to Vatya and grinned. "Oh is that why you were so hard to wake this morning!" She laughed softly.

Katelle grinned. "-All- night? Truly? My goodness, that's a lot of playing."

Rorrek ruffled Vatya's silver hair between her diminutive horns, much to her enjoyment. "Thou sleepest as do I, to thy mother's chagrin." He then chuckled aloud.

Brianna lifted a knowing gaze to Rorrek's face but merely chuckled before glancing to Katelle. "Might I offer you some refreshment? A cup of tea perhaps?"

"Only if you're fetching some for anybody else. I wouldn't want to be a bother."

"Oh, no bother at all. I could use a cup of tea myself."

Vatya then ran over to Brianna, seemingly now comfortable with Katelle in the house as well. "Mama, may Emily and I go play now?" She asked sweetly, widening her eyes innocently.

Katelle chuckled at the little draenei's beseeching, eyes flicking to Emily. The adults might recognize that she's got a hint of why she's been called. "In that case, I'd appreciate it. Thank you."

Rorrek stepped forward after sharing Brianna's gaze. "Come now, allow mine hands to be of use from time to time even if therein dwells not a sword, hrm? I shall fetch the both of thee refreshment."

Katelle let out a hearty chuckle.

Brianna glanced down to Vatya with a smile. "Aye, of course, doll." She knelt briefly, attempting to sit Emily down so she could go with Vatya, but the small child held on even tighter. "No," she said in a fussy manner. She rubbed Emily's back in a soothing motion, alternating between comforting pats. "Don't you want to go play? You two always have so much fun together."

Vatya frowned. "Emily, come and play!" Her face twisted as she thought for a moment, the expression clearing as she came to an idea. "Ah! I vill let you play vith Mama's snow globe if you do!" She grinned as if having triumphed. Emily had seemed intent on clinging to Brianna but the snow globe intrigued her, as she had been eyeing it for awhile. She lifted her head, black curls sticking to her tear stained cheek. "Really?"

Katelle did her best to hide her amusement at the girls' bargaining.

Vatya nodded enthusiastically. "Yes! That is okay, right, Mama?" She looked up to Brianna with hope in her eyes.

Brianna gently sat Emily upon her feet, no longer dealing with resistance as the child was distracted and intrigued. "It is quite alright." She straightened Emily's dress before looking to Vatya. "Just be careful please."

Rorrek in the meanwhile, amused with the situation, quietly made around to the far shelf and began rummaging about. He called back as he searched. "Indeed, listen to thy mother, little one."

Vatya then took Emily's hand. "Jes, ve vill, ve vill," she said matter of factly. "Come on Emily!" The pair of little girls bounded off towards Vatya's room, out of hearing range of the adults.

Brianna watched them for a moment, a smile lingering on her face, though worry crept into her emerald gaze as she turned to Katelle. "Thank you for coming."

Katelle dippped her head. "Of course, Brianna. It isn't often I receive a request to meet either of you in your own home." She smiled, but the curl to her lips is shadowed. "That is Mavis Audrapel's daughter, isn't it?"

Brianna returned the smile. "Aye, truth be told we do not have time to entertain near as often as we would like." She then nodded softly. "Indeed it is, little Emily. Which is precisely why I wished to speak with you."

Rorrek ceased seeking about the shelf as he came to a tall and dark box. From within he withdrew what appeared to be two small teabags. He then turned to the table where a set of saucers, cups, and a kettle rested. The kettle fumed, prepared obviously before the visit.

Katelle tipped her head in acknowledgement of the sentiment regarding company. Her smile dropped at Brianna's confirmation, replaced instead with worry. She remained silent, blue eyes on Brianna's green.

Brianna glanced towards the children's room, able to hear the squeals of delight through the door. Satisfied they were not eavesdropping, she looked back to Katelle.

"Last Sunday, Mavis dropped Emily off for a sleepover with Vatya. He was to return the next day to pick her up... but as you see, she is still with us. I know very little of the man, but I do not think he would abandon her. I fear the worst. Have you by chance, heard from him? I know that you are currently treating him. Perhaps you have some knowledge that could enlighten us as to why he may be delayed?"

Rorrek laid the bags of tea neatly within the porcelain cups before seeing the kettle in hand. Steam and an invigorating scent wafted upward as he poured the heated water. Once finished he placed lids upon the cups so that the tea might steep for a time.

Katelle pursed her lips, fingers drumming on her swollen belly in concerned agitation. Out of habit, she glanced towards the room the girls disappeared to; once having ascertained yet again that they aren't eavesdropping, she looked back to Brianna.

"He confessed to me that he had tried to overdose on the initial brews I gave him. There was not enough there to allow him to do so successfully, but I had not made him aware of that fact. I learned he suffers from severe daytime panic attacks--usually as a result of an abrupt stimulus--and so I instructed him to speak with Aryanna before I would give him anything else that would help him sleep. I did allow him to take a much more mild concoction to take the edge off of his anxiety as the attacks occur, but there was not enough present there to allow a successful overdose as well."

"I know he spoke with Aryanna. But she said he did not seem interested in discussing his night terrors or the experiences which may have caused them. He left, and had not yet returned when I spoke with her," Katelle continued.

Rorrek eventually lifted one lid and inhaled the billowing scent, such producing a distinctive hint of peppermint. Satisfied, he removed both lids and took both cups by their saucers. He laid the cups upon the table between Brianna and Katelle at last.

Katelle offered Rorrek a small smile and a quiet murmur of thanks. She suddenly looked very tired, and reached for her cup with both hands.

Rorrek stepped back then. "Pardon the interruption. Such concoction is of a green tea infused with peppermint, a favorite of Brianna's fae companion. Thou may allowest such steep further shouldst thou desire." He then affixed himself to the conversation at hand. "Correspondence hath been sent unto the caravan, but... ne'er may we receive missive in return knowing the Starseer's penchants."

Brianna leaned against the table, her brow furrowed in concentrated concern as she listened to Katelle's words. "I see," she began slowly. "Oh, thank you, darling." She gave a brief smile to Rorrek as she lifted her cup of tea and cradled it between her palms. "We have been unsuccessful at all turns thus far."

Katelle 's lips thinned a little. "What of a physical messenger?"

Rorrek tilted his head to the side. "Dost thou know of the caravan's whereabouts?"

Ellaluna perked up, flitting over to sniff at Brianna's cup of tea. A small trilling hum was coming from her chest, almost like a purr -- and she definitely seemed to want to lap at Brianna's drink.

"I know it was last traveling about the Isles. But Tuuroto's caravan is hardly an inconspicuous sight."

"Searched have I about the isles to little avail regardless. Such venturing is... perilous to say the least. The last I had spoken unto Mavis they made mention of seeing farmlands arable... though, I recall not if ever he mentioned a locale specifically."

Katelle glanced sidelong at Ellaluna, and casually reached into one of the pockets of her supple robes. Without making a fuss, she retrieved a few pieces of something and reached across the table to place them at the midpoint. Upon closer inspection, they are the little candies that Ellaluna was treated to the last she visited Katelle with Brianna.

Brianna eyed the fae with one raised brow, moving the tea closer to her person. Rejoining the conversation she shook her head. "I do not believe he mentioned such." Ellaluna shifted her reptilian gaze immediately at the crinkle of the candy wrapper and bounded onto the table to quickly snatch one up, open it, and pop one in her mouth greedily. "Ella thank!" she mumble with a mouthful.

"Ella is very welcome." Katelle then looked back to Brianna and Rorrek. "I'll see what I can dig up. Somebody is bound to have seen them somewhere."

Brianna took a long drink of tea as she glanced to the door of Vatya's room thoughtfully over the brim. After a moment, she looked to Katelle. "I have been hoping. It is getting hard to placate Emily, the little dear. She misses her Father greatly."

Katelle finally took a sip from her cup, having held it between both palms as if absorbing its warmth. Her eyes fell shut a moment as she savored the calming taste upon her tongue. Her eyes opened again as she swallowed. "He isn't used to having a child," she murmured. "He hadn't even thought of how Emily would feel if his first attempt had been successful. But even still, he speaks as though he loves her a great deal."

"Aye, his love for her is quite palpable... though I was unaware of the severity of his mental stability. I certainly hope... he has not revisited his previous attempt."

Rorrek crossed his arms and bowed his head whilst his eyes closed shut. "He spoke with great worry in regards toward whether or not such child would inherit the curse. Assure him did I otherwise."

Katelle nodded slowly, mulling over both of their words. "He tries to hide it," she said in response to Brianna's comment. "Though he does not do a very good job of it when asked directly. While I hope the same, I..." Her eyes move back to Vatya's room. "I fear the worst. He knows she would be safe here, else he would not have left her. And as his father has recently passed..." She shakes her head gently, a heavy exhalation puffing from her lips.

Brianna reached over, placing a hand of comfort upon Rorrek's arm, as she knew how difficult that conversation must have been for him. She squeezed his arm in silent unity before looking to Katelle. She sighed, deep worry settling into her brow. "She will be safe here, aye. We will do all in our power to see that she remains so, and as happy as she can be. Yet I truly hope our fears are without reason in the end. Was he known to drink heavily?"

Rorrek smiled warmly in thanks to Brianna's gesture. He stepped closer to her and wrapped his arm about her waist before laying a kiss atop her cheek. He then returned his gaze forward. "Mayhaps there was matters of import to tend which he could not tell?"

Brianna rubbed Rorrek's back absentmindedly as she leaned against him. "Aye, maybe..." The thought trailed off as she turned inward to muse silently.

Katelle smiled, the expression equal parts tight--at the faint flickers of memory--and tender--at Rorrek and Brianna's show of affection. She took another fortifying sip of her tea, absently stroking her belly with her free hand. "Not that I recall, regarding alcohol," she murmurs, trying to recall. "And it's entirely possible that there was some urgent matter that required his attention, but I'm not certain. He made sure to check in with me on a semi-regular basis, especially if he needed more doses. I can't imagine his anxiety simply left him."

Rorrek sighed. "T'would seem as though naught shall come to fruition immediately. Regardless, such visit is welcome after that as our abrupt summons." He glanced to the room where the children left to play. "Worry do I for her endurance..."

Brianna nodded in agreement, worry and guilt clouding her emerald gaze. "She may be young, but she knows something is wrong with each passing day."

Rorrek took to stroke Brianna's lower back in comfort, sympathy and understanding lining his stoic features.

Katelle nods gently, murmuring "of course" to Rorrek's initial words. She follows his gaze. "Children are resilient, in the long run, but the future may very well be hard for her," she agrees quietly. "But if there is aught I can do, for either of you or her, please let me know."

Brianna smiled softly. "Thank you. And I appreciate you asking around to your various contacts. Perhaps --" At the sound of Vatya's door opening, her sentence cut off. "Mama!" Vatya said, running across the room to them. "Ve are hungry."

Katelle turned her gaze towards the girl with a wide smile on her face. Her eyes flicked back to Rorrek and Brianna, parental knowing and indulgence plastered across her face.

Rorrek gently released Brianna's waist as he turned and knelt before Vatya. "Thou hast brought forth an appetite, hrm?" He poked her stomach which elicited several laughs from the little girl. "Jes, Papa!"

Emily followed Vatya, seeming in better spirits as she bounced up to the group as well. She was carrying Brianna's snow globe in her little arms, hugged to her chest.

Katelle laughed softly. Her hand pressed tighter against the side of her stomach for a moment, and she took another--final--sip of tea.

Brianna glanced down to the children. "Well I'm sure there must be something in this house to feed the two of you," she teased, running a hand over Emily's black hair and then Vatya's in turn.

Rorrek gestured for Emily to draw closer before he addressed both of the children. "Say farewell now to our guest." He smiled broadly and leaned back slightly so that the both of them could look at Katelle. "Goodbye, babylady!" they said in unison with giggling voices. He blinked afterward.

Katelle laughed. "Before I go--the little one is feeling restless. Would they be allowed to feel some kicking?"

Brianna grinned, taken slightly aback at their shared nickname. "Of course!"

Vatya and Emily stepped forward cautiously. They both set their hands on the bump of Katelle's stomach for a moment, waiting. Eventually, after a felt kick, they shouted slightly and ran back behind Rorrek as he stood. There they burst into laughter together.

Katelle grinned, rising slowly after the girls fled.

Brianna laughed in amusement, an endearing warmth spreading across her face. "How far along are you now?" she asked curiously.

"Into the seventh, or close to it."

Emily whispered to Vatya, though it wasn't really a whisper at all. "It's in there! Just trapped in there! I felt it!"

Rorrek glanced to Brianna with a nod. He then stepped forward and offered Katelle his arm in preparation for ascending the short flight of stairs before the door.

Brianna laughed, overhearing the children, but nodded to Katelle. "Not too long now then."

Katelle shook her head. "Too long, and not long enough," she laughed again. She took then Rorrek's arm with a smile, and turned that smile on Brianna as well. "Thank you for having me. Don't be a stranger, hm? We'll keep in touch." She looked back to the girls. "Have fun, ladies!"

Each girl chimed in unison, "Bye bye!" Brianna dipped her head in respect and then lifted it with a smile, "Aye, we shall. And thank you again."

Edited by Rorrek
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