One Life

Featuring: Aishen Thornewood

“Hey Aish, picked up nice one there, I see.”

Aishen turned as she stepped out of the Wildhammer Stronghold, looking for the source of the comment. Leaning against a wall was her friend, FJ, her sword by her side. FJ grinned as she eyed up the younger Kal’dorei, then tapped her right eye.

“Oh, this!” Aishen blurted out, self-consciously adjusting the patch that covered her own right eye. “It’s not that much… it was injured and badly bruised, but it’s not a permanent injury. The healers say my eye should be good in a week or so.”

“Pity. You could easily pull guys with that look, Aish.” FJ grinned, baring her fangs. “Hey Zog.”

“Greetings FJ.” Anastasia Zogstra added as she stepped past the blushing huntress. “It is good to see you here.”

“You too, Zog.” FJ nodded. “Not that I’m particularly glad to be here.” She indicated to the land around her, gesturing at the ash-black ground and the eerie green sky. “Lovely place this. It’s like all I hated about Desolace and the Searing Gorge all at once.”

“The evils unleashed here by the Horde did immense damage.” Aishen commented. “This land is twisted… unnatural.”

“And it is our duty to right those wrongs.” Zogstra continued, a forceful tone in her voice. “We can never undo what was done here, but at the very least we can try to deal with the perpetrators of these horrible crimes.”

“Good luck with that.” FJ replied, nodding. “This place… yeah, it pretty much reeks of evil, ‘specially that thing.” She indicated with a nod of her head to a massive shape looming on the horizon. A huge volcano, it was visible from anywhere in Shadowmoon Valley, constantly spewing forth unnatural, green lava.

“Speaking of which, Aishen and I have matters to attend to.” Zogstra stated. “Ones that, I fear, cannot wait.” There was a tone of urgency in her voice, one that FJ found unusual for the Paladin. However, she decided not to pry.

“’course.” FJ nodded. “Business before pleasure and all that.” She shot a nod to the pair of them. “Go kill ‘em.”

“Thank you, FJ.” Aishen nodded. “Travel well yourself.”

Aishen trod warily down the steps, apprehensive in spite of her familiarity with them. Though she had come here many times before, she knew that this place was still dangerous, and she should be cautious. Peering around the corner, she warily eyed the two Naga guards which were the first of many, many obstacles to come.

Glancing back, she nodded to the party gathered behind her. "As expected." She began, glancing over them. "Two guards at the front, as per normal."

"You seem to know this place rather well." Somebody replied.

"Too well." Aishen shook her head. She'd lost track of now many expeditions down to this cavern she'd partaken in. It seemed to have been a constant part of her life for the last month or so; certainly for a lot longer then she had planned things to take.

Of course, FJ would probably berate me for thinking like this, she mentally noted. She's pointed out that military campaigns can take months, even years to finish. I shouldn't expect a result right away.

Regardless, she couldn't help but feel a little frustrated. This whole campaign should have been over and done with long ago. However their ultimate goal had remained elusive. Every time she had come down here, her target had escaped. Regardless of what she had planned, he always seemed to have some getaway, some escape route, a few of his underlings more then willing to die in his place.

No more.

She had figured every option, calculated every possible escape route, blocked every getaway. While her target was canny and had millennia of experience, she also knew that he had to be out of options.


"Go." She replied, her bow at the ready. Stepping around the corner, she leveled it, then fired on the further of the two Naga. The arrow lodged in his throat, the creature hissing and slumping backwards. His compatriot was stunned buy the attack, and distracted for a moment. it cost him his life, as a fireball, followed by a shadowbolt slammed into the creature, ending its life.

"Move it!" Aishen called out as she charged down the steps into the cavern itself. A wave of hot, humid air slammed into her as she did, the heat from the steam pumps filling the room, their mechanical clanking audible in the distance. It was a situation she had seen many times in her previous expeditions here.

Today. however, would be different.

Today, Kalithresh would die.

"All realities," the giant Eredar called out as he reached into the air. "All dimensions are open to me!"

"Move it!" Somebody yelled out behind Aishen. "Go right! Now!"

She broke into a run alongside the rest of her group, not even pausing to snap off a quick shot at the Eredar Prince. Fortunately, for the moment, he was pinned in place by a Bear-form druid snapping at his ankles, and a Night Elf and Draenei slicing at his flanks, rendering him unable to take advantage of the situation.

"No! The other way!" A voice rang out, signaling to a single Gnome who had, for some reason, veered off in the opposite direction. Gathering up her robes, the Gnome suddenly turned around, bolting back to join the group.

Moments later, a flaming rock crashed into the ground where the group had been, sending up a massive shockwave. Aishen stumbled under the impact, but managed to remain moving, even as the heat from the blast washed over her. "This should be safe" she called out as, behind her, the rock unfolded into a hulking Abyssal, flames washing off its body.

"It had better be!" Somebody called back. "We don't have too much room left to move!" Which was true; the area around them was littered with flaming Infernals, waves of fire sweeping over the otherwise bare rock surface. As it stood, the group were effectively stranded between two waves of fire, occupying a small patch of safe ground. Of course, safety was relative.

"Keep going! He can't last too much longer!"

Ingoring the heat washing over her, as well as her own injuries and near-exhausted state, Aishen again raised her crossbow and kept firing on the titanic Eredar. She had long since lost track of how many blows, arrows and spells he had managed to absorb and remain standing. All she knew was that they had to keep fighting.

"How can you hope to stand against such overwhelming power?" The Eredar continued, hurling the axes from his hands. Animated by some fel magic, the weapons flew towards the group, scything through the air.

Aishen scurried out of their path, firing back at the Eredar as she went. Moments later, the axes flew at a blond-haired paladin, nearly slicing off one of the two antlers that he war for no apparent reason. The second one slammed into his shoulder, crushing the armour and sending him reeling. Just as quickly, however, they leaped away, spinning off at a new target.

"Call out if the Axes hit you!" a female Druid yelled as she cast a healing spell over the wounded paladin. As if to irritate her, the weapons then swung back, scything at the Shaman who was attacking the Eredar.

Aishen nodded, but continued firing, bolts flying from the crossbow as quickly as she could reload them. Her body ached, sweat pored down her forehead and the heat from the flames threatened to slowly cook her inside her own armour, but she knew that she couldn't give up, and that nobody else her would either. They had no option now; they had to defeat this demon, or die trying.

"Aaah! Axes!" She heard Verien cry out from nearby. As much as she wanted to turn to help her friend, she knew that she had to keep going. Instead, under her breath, she whispered a silent prayer to the goddess as she continued to fire. There was the sound of a hit, and the thud of a body falling to the ground. She dared not to think about it, however, instead continuing to squeeze the trigger and reload as fast as she could.

"We can't take too much more of this!" Somebody called out, the roar of spells and flames nearly drowning out their voice

"Neither can he!" the Paladin replied. "Keep at it! Destroy this evil, no matter the cost!"

And then, as if in response to the cry, the Eredar stumbled, collapsing to one knee under the force of the assault. "No!" He called out, as if in defiance to the group gathered around him. "I am a prince of the Eredar! I cannot... fall..." his last word gasped out as the creature crashed to the ground, shaking it with a titanic thud. As if in response, the Infernals simply disintegrated into piles of inert rock, while the twin axes simply spun off, clattering off the walls of the stone arena.

"Well done." Somebody finally spoke up. "Its over."

Aishen nodded silently as she dared to look around. Fortunately, her worst fears seemed to have been allayed; Verien was still alive, somewhat withered by the heat, but otherwise unharmed. Instead, her eyes strayed to the unconscious form of a red-robed mage, lying nearby.

"Give me a moment" The Druid called out, kneeling by his body. Healing energies washed over him, closing his wounds. The mage coughed, then warily sat up.

"Oh hi." He managed to begin, then saw the Eredar's body. "Oh yeah! Totally owned! Pom Pyro time for you!"

"Whatever that means." the blond Paladin commented.

"Don't knock it. It means he's alive and the Eredar guy's dead and we won!" Verien beamed out.

A male night elf sauntered over to the group, throwing in a dubious roll of his eyes. "Uh huh. We murdered an Eredar none of us have ever heard of, wearing hotpants no less, who was standing on top of a tower for no readily apparent reason, just because he was there. Hail the conquering heroes." After a pause, he clarified: "Not that I'm complaining."

"Stop being such a grump." Verien countered. "And why are you using a mace anyway?"

"This mace-" He began as he held up the massive weapon in his right hand. "Is bigger then your body."

"Okies" She squeaked out in reply."

"Aend I seenk I veel take zees von" the Shaman spoke up as she picked up one of the axes. No longer flying under magical power, its partner seemed to have been shattered, but the one she had collected still seemed as deadly as it had been when animated.

"Hey Aishen." The aqua-haired Druid spoke up as she walked over to thr group, shifted back from her bear form. "You might like this."

"huh?" Aishen began, then noticed the massive, golden bow the woman was carrying. "oh!"

"He was carrying it on him. No idea why-"

"Yeah, you might wanna look into that, after you figure out who he was and what he was doing here." the rogue added. "For all we know the sonuvabitch could've been trying to find where he parked his wagon."

"Shush you." She said, glaring briefly at him before returning to Aishen.

"Thank you." Aishen nodded as she took the weapon and hefted it. Looking over it, she stretched out her arm, experimentally drawing back on it. "Yes... this is an excellent weapon." She couldn't say what it was about the bow; its size, the pull on it or what; it just felt right to her.

"Yeah yeah." The rouge finally finished. "Its awesome. So can anyone figure a way out of here?"

Aishen entered her room at the inn, waiting for Zaber to pad in behind her before she shut the door. The Nightsaber took up his customary place at the doorway, curling up to rest. "Good idea, Zabe." She commented as she put down her bow and spear, before shrugging off her shoulderguards and cape. Sliding off her gauntlets, she then shrugged out of her hauberk, simply dropping it on the floor with a clatter.

She turned back to the mirror, examining herself. Moment of truth time, I guess... she began as she fingered the right side of her face, tracing the cheek under her eyepatch. The healers said my eye should be fine by now...

She gently removed the patch, her right eye blinking open as soon as it was off. Her vision certainly seemed fine, just as good as she recalled it being before she was injured. There was no discoluration or bruising, and the swelling had long since gone down.

In fact, she noted as she leaned closer to the mirror, the only real sign of what had happened was a small scar over her right eye. In fact, she noted as she leaned closer, tracing a finger over it, between her thick brow and her face markings, it was all but invisible. Certainly it wasn't something that was immediately noticeable.

And nothing at all like FJ's scars... she mentally added as she turned and stretched, rolling one shoulder to get some stiffness out of it. She hadn't seen her friend and mentor in some time, certainly not since just after she was injured. For that matter, she hadn't seen much of most of her friends or traveling companions of late. It was something she'd have to do, if she could find time.

She yawned loudly, not even trying to hide it. "Bed." She muttered, rubbing her eye. "Get rid of stupid mail pants first..." She shook her head, sitting down on the side if her bed. Then she flopped backwards, lying down, still half armoured. Moments later, she was asleep.

Aishen rubbed her eyes, trying not to yawn as she stepped out the door of the in. Blinking for a moment, she stared up at the sky, a look of abject confusion on her face. "Wha?" Was the best she could manage as she stared up at the alien sky; a starscape superimposed on a strangely multicoloured swirl of black and purple, unfamiliar worlds hovering in amongst rippling bads of energy.

"Hellfire Peninsula, remember?" A voice next to her spoke up. Aishen turned to see FJ sitting on a bench, a mug in hand.

"Oh yeah." She shook her head and blinked a little. "This place throws me... I can never tell if it's night or day."

"I don't think it really matters." FJ replied, dismissively. "I think 'night' and 'day' passed out of usage when this place blew up. As far as I can tell, they've got 'weirdo sky' and 'different weirdo sky.'"

The older Kal'dorei looked over the soldiers moving around, while workers tried to rebuild a wall that had been recently damaged. Even the slightest lull in the fighting was taken as an opportunity to rebuild and repair, regardless of when it was. "Besides which, Honour Hold seems to be a hive of activity, regardless."

Aishen nodded slowly. "Sorry about that." She admitted. "I guess I was just thrown off by..." She waved her hands vaguely around.

"You've spent enough time in Hellfire Peninsula." FJ shot back.

"It has been a while." She offered. "I think I have not been able to sleep well. Outland does that to me." The huntress shrugged for a moment. "I mean, my sleeping patterns were already out before..."

"Yeah." FJ took a sip from her mug before continuing. "Working with other races is a bit of a jolt. Having to go from a normal nocturnal cycle to being awake in the middle of the day." She chuckled a little. "Seems crazy to us, but hey... perfectly normal to Humans, Dwarves and Gnomes. Hells, it's even normal to Draenei. And if we're the odd guy out compared to them, that means we must be really, really screwy."

Aishen couldn't help but laugh. "Yeah, that is true... I can't remember the last time I slept through the day, rose in the evening and-" She trailed of, yawning. "-instead I'm up at the crack of dawn."

FJ smirked a little. "You look half dead, Aish. Really."

"I'm fine." She shook her head. "Just need to figure out where I'm at."

"You sure?" FJ raised a brow. "No offense, Aish, but you've been pushing yourself awfully hard for the last few months. Handful of times that I've seen you, It's been the few seconds from when you're running from one place to another."

Aishen glared back at her. "I have my duty, FJ. I have... responsibilities. There's so much that needs to be done. I can not afford to rest while there is still so much evil out there, both in this world and out home. You should know that."

"I do, Aishen." She replied, her usually confident tone somewhat subdued. "Trust me, I know all about it. I've seen more then my fair share of the world's evils." The turned away from Aishen for a moment before standing, turning back.

"Then you know what I must do"

FJ nodded. "True. However..." She managed a weak smile. "Sometimes, Aishen, I worry about you. Don't get me wrong, your drive and determination is admirable. You have faced opponents far more dangerous then anything I could have imagined. And you continue to do such."

Aishen was about to say something, when FJ held up a finger, cutting her off. "That being said, at the same time, it seems like that's all you do. I rarely see you stop, or slow down or even pause for breath."

"I can not afford it, FJ." She managed to get out, a stern tone in her voice.

"I know, I know." FJ nodded. "However, I can't help but be concerned that you're burning out. There's only so much you can give, Aishen. And you're taking a lot of responsibility onto yourself, especially for someone so-"

"-don't say it." Aishen cut her off.

"Yeah, well, that was a pretty jerky thing of me to say." FJ finished.

"Just because I am so young does not mean that I am any less capable."

"Not at all." FJ shook her head. "Your skills as a Huntress are exceptional. All I am saying is that I worry that you are pushing yourself too hard, Aishen. Just...." She shrugged. "Just stop for a moment, if you can, and think about it."

The young huntress paused, turning to look out over the walls of Honour Hold. Her eyes fixated on the ominous, fortified structure nestled in the valley below. Black smoke blenched from several smokestacks mounted on one side of it, adding to the air of desolation that permeated the region.

"I can't." She replied, shaking her head. "I really..."

FJ nodded, looking at the fortress. "I know."

A heavily armoured Dwarf butted past Aishen, adjusting his goggles as he did. "Ye coming, Aish?" He grunted out. "Damn thing ain't gonna die on its own."

She nodded back to him, before turning back to FJ. "I'm sorry." She managed.

FJ managed a wry smile. "I understand. Go do what you need to. Just look after yourself."

Battered, bruised but still alive, Aishen stood in the middle of Shattrath City. Around her were others like her, a small army of adventurers, many also showing the scars of recent battle. And, like her, they all had a feeling of triumphant determination, one that overcame their injuries.

As one, they stopped, kneeling before the figure that hovered in the center of the room. Indeterminate in composition, the creature seemed to radiate pure light and goodness off of it. This was A'dal, the Naaru who served as the leader (for want of a better term) of Shattrath City; it was through their power that the city had survived as a haven of safety in a dangerous world.

The beast Magtheradon lies dead, defeated by your hands. Aishen couldn't hear the words as such. Instead, she felt them inside her head, as if the Naaru was communicating through sensations and emotions.

You have worked hard to accomplish this. You have passed the trials I set forth for you, each and every one of you displaying courage, strength, tenacity and compassion. These traits have served you well, aiding you in those tasks. We know that we have chosen well in selecting you for these tasks. Despite her tiredness, the Naruu's "words" still filled her with a feeling of hope and comfort, as well as a sensation of a great victory and the vanquishing of a powerful evil.

Arise, Champions of the Naaru

As one they stood, their heads still bowed.

You have all proven your abilities and dedication. Yet there is a great task before you, one that will test the limits of the abilities that you have displayed thus far. Marshal your armies, gather tour resources and travel to Tempest Keep. Confront the evils that dwell there and prevent Kael'thas from uttering the words of Damnation

Their leader, a brown-haired Paladin nodded to the Naaru. "Very well, A'dal." She replied, then turned to face them. "We have come far. However, there is still much to do. For now,m we will rest and prepare for what lies ahead of us. You are dismissed for the moment; I will contact you all when we are ready."

Aishen turned, leaving with the others as they began to break up, filing out of the chamber. They had achieved a great victory today, but A'dal's words only reinforced the challenges that still lay ahead for all of them.

"Hey Aishen!" A large, white-haired druid began as he slapped her on the back. "A few of us were talking about heading to the Tavern for a celebration. Interested?"

She smiled but shook her head. "Thanks, but no. I still have things to do myself."

"Sure." He shrugged, clearly a little disappointed. "But if you change your mind, let us know."

Aishen nodded as a reply, simply stepping outside to where her Netherdrake was waiting. There are still a few hours left today. She thought to herself. Still time to get a few things done.

On approach from the air, Quel'Danis seemed to have a peaceful, almost serene air to it. As the griffin passed low over a thick, red-tinted forest, ruined buildings jutting up from between the branches, Aishen could see little sign of the situation that, by all accounts, threated the very existence of Azeroth.

There was one thing, however, that she noted as she approached. There was a certain feeling, a certain sensation about this place, one that gnawed at her, prodding her senses. The place had a feeling of arcane power to it; not a concentrated source, but rather a lingering, residual power, a remnant of something now passed. From what she knew of this place, it was hardly surprising.

However, the instant the griffin was down, everything changed.

Arrows flew overhead as archers fired into the woods, assaulting unseen assailants. Fireballs flew past, while shapes passed overhead, casting long shadows that suggested shapes both natural and demonic in form. She could hear the roar of combat, the clash of arms and the sounds of battle. Soldiers armed with both weapons and spells were engaging unseen enemies; oddly enough, those soldiers seemed to be comprised of a mix of Draenei and Blood Elves.

"Over here!" A Draenei called out to her from a small building. Glancing over it, she could see a number of Aldor and Scryer soldiers gathered around it, collecting weapons from supply crates. From the look of things, they were cleatly as fresh to the island as she was.

It was the second group that caught her attention. Rather then the professional soldiers of the Aldor and Scryer groups, it was made up of adventurers like herself, those that served the Alliance or Horde while being outside of their militaries. Glancing over the group, she could see members of both factions, however there didn't appear to be anyone that she directly recongised. She dashed over there, mindful of the battle raging around the two groups.

"Thank you all for coming here." The Draenei soldier began as she and several others joined him. "With our forces stretched thin across Outland, facing the Betrayer and his allies, we had little to spare for this, most urgent of tasks."

He indicated to the forces around them, both the soldiers from Shattrath and their assailants. Given more time, she could see that the Scryer and Aldor soldiers were engaged in battle with other Blood Elves, ones that wore the same colours and insignia as who followed their prince, Kael'thas Sunstrider. However, she could see glimpses of other forms, regonising them as demons, servants of the Burning Legion.

"Here is what we know so far." The Draenei continued. "A force of Demons And Blood Elves have taken the island. From what we can tell, these forces are being lead by Kael'thas Sunstrider himself." There was a murmur from the crowd, several of the Horde members exchanging nervous glances. "Yes, we believed that he had been defeated as well; however, he appears to have survived his apparent demise."

Aishen nodded to herself, trying not to show her surprise at this news. For all his arcane skill, Kael'thas was still mortal; the injuries he had suffered should have killed him.

"Who leads this force is not as important as their aims however." He continued, glancing over them. "We have learned that the Blood Elves and the Legion intend to re-ignite the Sunwell and, with its power, bring Kil'jaeden the Deceiver to this world." He paused a moment to let the words sink in. "Should that happen, this planet would be torn asunder in a cataclysm that would dwarf even the destruction of Draenor."

As if to underscore his point, there was an explosion in the air above the group, followed by a sudden shout of pain. Moments later, a Blood Elf crashed to the ground near the group, clearly dead; the burnt carcass of a Dragonhawk landing by him. Whatever thoughts and reactions the assembled crowd may have had were, for the moment forgotten by this sudden violence.

Ignoring this, the Draenei resumed. "You have volunteered to aid us; it will fall to you to lead this battle. Go, engage the Legion and their servants and end this threat for all time. The road ahead will be difficult, however, it is one we must follow. Through your efforts, The Legion will fall, and this cataclysm will be averted." The soldier nodded. "Individual officers will had out assignments and your duties; know that every task is vital to our future. Go now, and let the Light guide your path."

Aishen turned, joining the crowd as they spread out over the beachhead, consulting with the members of the allied forces present. "You know," She heard a human behind her speak up. "I'd really hate to be a Blood Elf right now. I mean, the Horde can't exactly be loving them right now."

For a moment, she considered this statement; they had lost their land, their leader and the future they had been promised. However, at the same time, all this was also their fault; they had become victims to their addiction, and allowed it to consume them, leading them down this path.

Then she shook her head, putting it aside. She had a new mission, one that she would commit herself to with the same dedication she had shown so far. Picking up her bow, she turned to a nearby Aldor officer.

"Thank you for your time, Lady Thornewood." Commander Skyshadow began as he bowed to her. "I appreciate that you have a lot to do. However, I feel that this task was too important to entrust to a regular messenger."

"I understand." She replied with a nod. "Your people have done great work here. I only hope that we can put that to use elsewhere."

The truth was that Aishen quite liked Sylvanaar. The forested region was a peaceful island of calm in the middle of the perpetual battle that was outland. More then that, however, it reminded her of home. The way that it grew, the dense cover of the trees and the presence of the Wisps and an Ancient reminded her so much of the forests that she loved so dearly, and yet had not seen for so long.

"Indeed." Skyshadow indicated to the forest around the small Night Elf settlement. "We regrew all this in only a few short years. If we could then apply those techniques to our home, imagine what we could do."

Aishen understood. Ashenvale, Felwood... even Teldrassil, all those places could be made whole again, the balance of nature that had been so greviously disrupted returned to them. Even Nordrassil.

Her heart skipped a beat as the realization hit her. The world tree restored, and with it, their immortality. What was lost could be regained. All could be put right.

"I understand. This is indeed an important task."

He handed her a heavy tome, which she diligently placed into a satchel. "Take this to Tenaron Stormgrip in Shadowglen. While I cannot say if the techniques that we used here in Outland will work at home, regardless I feel that he should see this."

"Certainly." She bowed again. "Thank you again, commander. I will not fail you."

"Very well. Farewell, Thornewood. Cenarius Guide your path."

She turned and left the building, heading out to Sylvannar itself, her step a determined stride. It was only when she reached the edge of the encampment where her Netherdrake was waiting for her that she allowed herself a long, protracted yawn.

"To Shattrath." She began as she mounted up, making sure that she was securely strapped into the saddle. The Netherdrake harness tied the rider to the mount, making sure that they could not fall off in flight. Even if wounded or unconscious, they would remain on while their Drake carried them to safety.

The Netherdrake spread its wings, and soared into the air. Leaving Sylvanaar behind, it flew over the precipitous, wickedly sharp spines of rock that formed so much of the Blades Edge mountains, before descending towards Zangarmarsh. As it did, it spread its wings wide, riding the thermals and gliding slowly, content to take its time.

The Drake didn't wish to wake its passenger, sleeping soundly in her saddle on its back.

It had been many months, if not years, since Aishen had last seen Shadowglen. Even though she had spent only a relatively short period of time, there, she still held fond memories of the small glen, high in the branches of Teldrassil. It was here that she had begun the long path that had taken her across Azeroth and then beyond into Outland. Here she had taken her first steps, learning the path of the Hunter while, at the same time, learning more about the massive world that existed around her.

It had taken her a few minutes to deliver the book to Stormgrip and explain its content; ironically, the journey had taken far more time then its actual purpose. However, at the same time, she knew just how important it was that she made this delivery. Her only regret was that it had kept her away from battle for so long.

...from battle...

She knew that there was another battle awaiting her when she got back. She did not know what it was or where it would be, only that there would be one. It had been the way of her life for so long now, ever since she had left this small glen.

And yet, as she looked around, she could not help but feel at peace, despite all that she had been through, all that she had seen. The glen had an air of familiar comfort, a peaceful, serene atmosphere that was enhanced by the soft purples and greens of the foliage. It bought back pleasant memories, not only of the time she had spent here, but the time before that. Her youth, their home, the peace and comfort that was Ashenvale before the coming of the Legion and the Horde, and the destruction they had bought with them.

"I should go." She told herself. And yet, she wanted to stay a little longer.


"May I help you, my lady?" A voice behind her began.

She turned to see a male Kal'dorei standing here, clad in the weapons and armour of a warrior. It was a sight that seemed alien yet, much like female Druids, had become so familiar to her. He was tall and muscular, with long, dark green hair that was worn in a small knot at its peak, while a beard decorated his chin.

"I am sorry." She replied. "I did not see you there."

"Not at all." He shook his head. "I just returned from practicing, when I happened to see you there." He looked over her. "It is rather unusual to see someone who has been to Oultands in this small glen, especially a veteran of numerous battles. Very few have a reason to come here"

Aishen raised a brow. "How could you tell that?"

He smiled. "Your armour and arms are of an... alien make, shall we say, clearly not native to this world." He pointed to a dent in one of her pauldrons, and the flaked paint around it. "You look after them well, however, they bear the scars of constant use; you earned these weapons in the field of battle; and the only place you could do that is that alien world."

She couldn't help but smile. "You are a very observant man, mister..."

"Lleyras Moonblade." He replied with a bow.

"Aishen Thornewood." She returned.

"A pleasure to meet you, Lady Thornewood." He replied, taking her hand and gently kissing her fingers.

She blushed a little, nodding to him. "Thank you, sir."

"If I may ask, what brings you to this little glen?"

She looked around. "Business for the druids; I had to deliver some information from their brothers in Outland."

"It must have been important to send one from the frontlines to deliver it."

Aishen nodded. "Aye. But, hopefully, well worth it." She looked up at the trees, and sighed. "Still, it is nice to come back here... this place brings back pleasant memories."

"Oh?" He asked. "Anything in particular?"

"Just... things." She replied. "It seems ridiculous but it has been almost an instant since I left here, by our standards. Yet, I do miss it so. It's just so... comforting. it reminds me of home."

"Would you like to sit a while, and maybe talk about it?" He offered.

Aishen opened her mouth to reply, and then paused. She knew she had more to do; but then, she always did. She could remember how long she had been fighting, how many battles she had seen and all the months of combat. However, at the same time, she could not remember the last time that she had simply taken time to relax and unwind. She felt tired, old before her time, her body weary and sore. And yet, a few simple words lightened the burden on her.

"Just stop for a moment, if you can, and think about it."' FJ's words sprang to her mind.

"Sure." She replied, and smiled back. "I would like that a lot."

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