Aadi blinked against the blinding Hellfire sun and groaned. Why did her body hurt so much? She lifted her left arm, checking her red health-tracker. One hundred ticks of health left, barely a breath. The blue mana-tracker secured on the same wrist was full. Her body fell flat against the scorched ground, zone battles racing through her mind.
Helboars roamed mindlessly around her. The sound of bones cracking reverberated with their every footstep, reminders of how many died on the barren, hard-packed wasteland.
Then she heard that hiss.
Darting ahead like always, Trapt crested the hill Aadi found herself on. The white lizard-dragon’s tongue flopping free as it plobbled along. Once it reached Aadi, Trapt hissed a second time then shook its triangular-shaped head in satisfaction and proceeded to drool all over her while it waited for the arrival of its master.
Pryn walked over the hill a moment later.
The young Night Elf Hunter was tall and lanky. They all were. The only difference between the others and Pryn was that she was Aadi’s sister. When Pryn finally came to a stop, she hovered over Aadi, her head tilting to one side as she studied her sister with pupil-less silver eyes. She did little else.
At least she offered a shadow against the blinding light, Aadi thought, checking her health-tracker again. She’d gained a few ticks.
“Heal yourself, sister.”
Trapt stomped its paws back and forth in place as Pryn dropped a ribbon-tied scroll onto Aadi’s armored chest. The lizard-dragon eyed the Helboars as they roamed the land and protectively circled the pair of Night Elves once. Then, as if to help heal the Druid, Trapt waddled back over and licked Aadi’s face.
“What happened?” Aadi asked, pushing the dragon away and sitting up.
“The Legion is coming.”
“The Burning Legion?”
The Hunter nodded.
“Why?” Aadi’s nose crinkled at the thought of returning to the fight. She’d spent her days alone for the last two expansions. And now—
“I don’t know,” Pryn shrugged away the question, as if it didn’t matter, but her words strung out with a hint of worry. The Hunter noticeably shifted her weight from one foot to the other. She was restless and cared little for class politics, yet here she was. Instead of doing as she pleased, roaming from one realm to the next with her creatures, she was delivering intel from the front lines.
“Why didn’t you just send me a Guild tell?” Aadi asked, wiping Trapt’s drool off her face. She checked her health-tracker again, deciding to cast a heal-over-time spell. It didn’t take much mana. The Night Elf Druid closed her fingers into a fist, and a green haze balled around her hands for a split-second before she lifted her arms over her head and cast. A series of green ribbons circled her in a sphere-like patterns.
The Hunter rolled her eyes and released a long, suffering sigh. “I did.”
“I didn’t get it.” Aadi blinked, adjusting her left eye in search of her Guild messages. Not many were coming in, maybe her Comm needed repair. Then she remembered. “I forgot. I put you on /ignore.”
Pryn crossed her arms, disregarding Aadi’s comment as she surveyed Hellfire’s land.
“Did you read the scroll already?”
Pryn nodded. “And accepted.”
Aadi sucked in a deep, dusty breath and sighed. “I’ve been away for two xpacs—”
“So? What choice do we have? Just be happy you’re back. Not everyone made it.”
Aadi smirked, checking her red health-tracker again. Half full. She slipped her arms behind her back and pushed away from the ground, standing up with a yawn. “You mean, made it back…yet.”
Pryn’s face contorted into a wince-like pattern, her facial tattoos warping into a meaningless mask around her eyes. “No. I mean like…won’t be making it back…ever.”
“Xander won’t be joining us.” Pryn shook her head, lifted her crossbow, aimed at the nearest Helboar and released a swift arrow. The demon boar fell with the one shot. “Others are refusing to return altogether.” The young Hunter walked over and ripped the beast’s stomach open with her knife. Trapt stomped its paws, desperately awaiting Pryn’s instructions to join her side. Those instructions were never sent. The lizard-dragon stomped again. Pryn pulled coin out from the Helboar’s belly, tossed her prize once in the air then bagged it before allowing Trapt to eat the felled beast. Trapt gurgled in delight as it ate.
Aadi watched her younger sister. The girl often gave others the cold shoulder, but this…this was more. The elder Druid chose to remain silent, for now, and opened her scroll.
ATTENTION HEROES ADVENTURERS DEFENDERS OF AZEROTH
Aadi felt her heart sink a little. Before her fall, she knew which of those titles she held. She felt too weak to even transform into her bear form now. Her armors and talents weren’t capped anymore. Her potions were outdated. The only thing she had going for her was that she carried a proper level. But apparently that doesn’t completely matter since Pryn’s levels are not yet complete. The Alliance was assembling—and doing it now—to stop the next invasion. She’d seen this moment before.
“How much time do we have?” Aadi finally asked.
Pryn shrugged again. “Maybe a day?”
Aadi couldn’t remember how long she had before the Dark Portal opened. Those were the final hours of her nothingness, when feral Druid were joked about, when they were shunned to the side to make room for restoration Druids. Since that time, feral Druids had found their proper place amongst all the classes, and the benefit of their versatility was realized.
Aadi read the scroll’s last line.
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED.
Aadi rolled her eyes and closed the scroll, stuffing it into her cloth bags somewhere between her lucky Rabbit’s Foot and her skinning knife. “Where’s Haggrid?”
“Gone,” Pryn said, walking back to her older sister. The Night Elf Hunter flipped her bow, tucking it away. “He gave Guild control over to Thordain. There’s not many of us left.”
“There doesn’t have to be. Others don’t have to be one of us to be with us. You know that.”
“Whatever,” Pryn muttered under her breath then, speaking louder, “I’m just here for the perks. My orders were to find you and get you to Rinji.”
Aadi stuck a finger through a hole in her Guild tabard. Her lips pressed together as she considered the misfortune. She had no idea where her husband was located nor why he’d hand the Guild over to Thordain, but he was the only tailor she knew that could fix the hole. She tossed the cloth on the bed of the Inn’s only unused room, well almost unused. There was a sleeping Dwarf Honor Guard, but he probably drank too much and would be sleeping for a while.
Without concern of what clothing she still had on, Aadi striped off her armor. She couldn’t completely ignore the fact that she felt a little naked without the leather gear on her body, but she had stopped examining the indents, scratches and magic burns long ago.
Pryn was supposed to wait in the hallway to take Aadi’s pieces for repair. Instead, she was chatting away with Assistant Klatu about the Draenei Prayer Beads. “Pryn,” Aadi called, trying not to wake the Dwarf. Her sister didn’t hear her. She should have just taken the armor for repair herself. Paying for repairs had become habit expansions ago. Aadi peeked into the Inn’s hallway and called her sister again.
“Last place I saw them,” Assistant Klatu told Pryn, “was in Honor Hold’s courtyard.”
Even from her backside, Aadi could tell that Pryn feigned interest. Assistant Klatu didn’t see it.
Aadi didn’t beckon her little sister again. She left her changing room in nothing but her Guild Tabard and threw her entire set of gear at her sister’s feet.
“Hey!” The young Hunter complained, finally turning to acknowledge the older Night Elf. From a quiet corner Trapt hissed, waddling in a defensive side-step away from the two girls.
“Get it repaired,” Aadi ordered her sister, pointing at the armor then at the Draenei, “and stop talking to people until after we’re done. Then you can waste your time however you please.”
Aadi whirled one the ball of her foot and returned to her room. Pryn cursed as she tried gathering all the gear. In the room, the Honor Guard still slept, undisturbed by any of the noise. Aadi started at her figure in the mirror. Her blue hair. Her long, pointed ears. Her muscle-thick thighs. Her pupil-less silver eyes. It all looked the same. All looked as it should. Then she turned, twisting at the waist, to view her back. A slow breath snuck into her lungs, and a wince crawled up her face. Aadi fingered the intact skin around the bruises. In expansion’s past, she’d been proud of those injuries, the raised discolored skin awarded from battles hard-fought. Now…now she was just tired. Tired of fighting, tired of leading teams, tired of seeking victories. Tired of dealing with her sister. Didn’t she leave home to get away from that girl? Couldn’t she just grow old like NPC’s, left alone to repeat the same words, give the same quest to the younger classes?
Couldn’t the new set of World players combat the Legion? Leaving Aadi to retire somewhere…somewhere like Darnassus. She hadn’t visited her home for over a decade. It’d be nice to go back. If the Legion wins, there will be no home to go back to, Aadi reminded herself.
She had no choice but travel the ancient paths.
The journey to Rinji was going to suck.
“Hey,” Pryn bellowed as she walked back up the Inn’s stairs and poked her head into the room. “It’s gonna cost you 90g.”
“Fine, I’ll pay you back.”
“Hell no! I’ve got drinks to buy and beasts to feed before I die. I’m not paying for your repairs. The damn Dwarf wants the money now.”
Aadi sighed and threw her set of satchels on the nearest table, untying the green cloth one and digging around for the 90g. Her items were left sprawled on the table while she returned to the door, still undressed. “Here,” she grumbled shoving the coins in Pryn’s hand. “Go pay him now, so we can move on in life.”
“When you put it like that maybe I should have just paid him,” Pryn mumbled, rolling her eyes.
“This is why I left, you know,” Aadi grumbled as the younger Night Elf turned to leave. “You’ve always been the spoiled brat.”
“Whatever, sister,” Pryn answered, waving her hand dismissively over her shoulder without looking back. “You care enough to keep sending me money and hand-crafted mail armor, and I keep sending you potions and elixirs. We use each other equally.”
Aadi studied her little sister until she disappeared down the stairway. She needed Darnassus. She needed Rinji. And she needed a strong drink. Brew of the Month club, Aadi reminded herself as she turned to table with all her items. Her Rabbit’s Foot waited for her next to her skinning knife, just as it always did for the last decade or so. Maybe she could squeeze a little bit more luck out of her old trinket.