Dec 4, 2009

Arien and the Scythe of Elune

(This is a story I wrote while going through the Scythe of Elune quest chain, that starts in Forest Song in Ashenvale. Some of it, like npc chat and such, is written from the actual quest text. Enjoy!)

Arien slipped down the path, trying to be as silent as possible while wearing chainmail armor and carrying a huge axe. The sinister shadows around her seemed oblivious to her presence, but there was no telling how long that would last. Sentinel Frostshadow had asked her to come explore the hidden shrine near the border to Felwood. The mysterious wolf-men that had invaded the tiny vale were making it difficult to reach the book that the Sentinel wanted Arien to inspect, however. Finally the inevitable discovery; a worgen smelled her and made a fierce, charging attack. Arien met it head-on, blocking its claws with her axe handle, then bringing her weapon around in a smooth arc that nearly cut the thing in half. It fell, twitching, and she looked around to see if any more were coming.Fortunately, none of the other creatures seemed to have noticed. She resumed her sneaking, and only had to deal with two more of the monsters, one at a time, before finally reaching the tome. She noticed, as she aproached the pedestal it sat upon, that it was remarkably well-preserved for being out in the weather as it was. She reached a hand to open the cover, and as she touched it, suddenly light came spilling out of the book. A tiny, flickering figure appeared, floating just above the pages, and spoke:

"The numbers of my companions dwindles, goddess, and my own power shall soon be insufficient to hold back the demons of Felwood.
"Goddess, grant me the power to overcome my enemies! Hear me, please, my need is desperate and my cause is just!
"What... what is this? Could this be the answer to my prayers? Elune has granted me a weapon--this scythe--to defeat the demons."

The ghost's voice was faint but clear. Arien's jaw dropped at her appearance. Sentinel Frostshadow had warned Arien that the Tome of Mel'Thandris was not a normal book, and now the paladin understood. But what had triggered the memory, and how had it been preserved inside this tome? She shook her head slightly, puzzled, and prepared to escape the shrine.

Arien quickly looked around. The nearest wolf-men had amazingly not noticed the tome's display, so she started slowly sneaking back towards the path, taking the same route as she had entering. She reached the little trail without incident, and prayed a quick 'thank you' to the Light, quickly leaving the cursed vale behind. Once back on the road, she called her warhorse, mounted, and rode back to Forest Song as fast as Faithful could run.

The Sentinel was shocked at Arien's report. "That was priestess Velinde Starsong, my predecessor!" she exclaimed. "She seemed to have the situation in Felwood under control, but then one day she just disappeared. I was sent to continue her work here, but I'm afraid I know nothing about her." Sentinel Frostshadow thought for a moment. "Perhaps a commander of the Sentinels might have some information they didn't tell me. Go see Thyn'tel Bladeweaver, in Darnassus. Surely she will understand the need for such information." Arien wasn't as certain as the sentinel that a ranking officer would reveal anything to a stranger, but she suposed it was worth asking about it.

A short hippogryph ride later, Arien stood in the Warrior's Terrace of Darnassus. Commander Bladeweaver stared at the paladin for a moment. "It is common knowledge that Priestess Starsong disappeared some time ago. As to further details of her departure ... it would take a very good reason for me to devulge such information." Arien supressed a sigh, then reported her incident with the Tome. Bladeweaver's eyes widened. "The Tome of Mel'Thandris showed you this? Well then, I supose there is no harm in allowing you to examine her belongings." She handed Arien a key, then gave directions to the bunkhouse where Starsong's belongings were kept. "I should tell you, the Sentinels believe she had reasons for leaving, and expect her return at any time. She has done much to earn our trust." Arien nodded, and left for the bunkhouse.

She quickly found the room, and retreived a journal from the small chest inside. She was curious about what would make such a respected priestess just pack up and leave, so she opened the journal and began skimming through it. As she read, though, she began feeling a small chill of dread crawl up her spine.

"Elune has granted my wishes ... Holding the Scythe in my hands, I recieved a vision of chaos ... the Lords of Emerald Flame ... I was able to draw worgen into our world ... I have identified leaders in their packs, and given them command ... A pack is lost ... I begin to worry about the leaders ... The small authority I give them, they stretch to the limits ... Though I have not summoned additional worgen, their numbers continue to increase ... Ordered them to remain at the Shrine ... Reports of a wizard, named Arugal ... see what he knows ... I will travel to the port and book passage to the New World ..."

Arien closed the journal, her heart pounding and mind whirling. This explained the monsters' presence at the shrine, and fortunately the priestess had enough control that her orders to stay confined still held them. She thought for a moment about the wizard Velinde had mentioned, this Arugal. The name was disturbingly familiar, but she could not remember where or when she might have heard it. She finally decided to think more about it later; the Sentinel commander was waiting for her to return with any important information, and this certainly qualified. She tucked the book under her arm and strode quickly back to Warrior's Terrace.

Sentinel Bladeweaver skimmed through the journal with raised eyebrows. "It seems Velinde's disappeareance is more troubling than it appeared. Even still, I cannot believe she has come to a bad end. Perhaps we should make contact with her." She looked up at the paladin. "Arien, since you seem so interested, I would like your aid." Arien nodded, supressing another sigh. She was not so certain Velinde was still fine, but what else could she do? The Sentinel commander instructed her to go to Ratchet, the goblin port, and ask about the Priestess from the wharfmaster there.

Faithful trotted wearily into the town of Ratchet, and Arien gratefully slid off and tied him to the post by the inn. Stretching her legs, she slowly walked down the docks, towards the goblin that looked to be in charge. Dizzywig the Wharfmaster listened to Arien's discription, then quickly scanned through the papers in his hand, then moved to the stack nearby. "Human, eh? Don't see too many of your kind here." He rifled through paperwork for several minutes before suddenly looking up at her. "When exactly was this elf suposed to have been here?" With an apologetic grimace, Arien gave him the estimated time. "Oh, here we go, shoulda told me it was that long ago. Velinde, booked passage to Booty Bay on the Black Osprey. No other reports, so I assume she arrived safely. Not much else I can do for ya, but she did ask about overland travel on that side of the world, and I mentioned a caravan driver based in the Bay. Might be this Velinde traveled with him. Move along, now. I ain't got all day for ya."

Arien thanked the goblin, then strode down the dock to the shipmaster. She booked passage for herself and Faithful, and spent an hour or so caring for her horse, then waiting in the shade of the inn, before the boat was ready to sail. The next morning saw her was stepping off the boat in Booty Bay. She strode down the dock, and soon found a goblin that fit the wharfmaster's description. Ruzzgot looked at her suspiciously. "You don't look like someone with goods to ship, so either you're lookin' for work, which I ain't got, or you're talkin' to the wrong goblin. Which is it?" The nasty glint in his eye disappeared as Arien explained. "Guess I was wrong about you, and that don't happen every day. Just so happens I remember this Velinde you're lookin' for. Ain't every day a night elf priestess wants to travel with a caravan like my own. We split up on the way north, she was headin' for Darkshire. Wanted to see the clerk about some records, he might know somethin' useful. And be careful, the jungle can be deadly at the best of times." "Don't worry about me, I have been through worse before," she replied with a grin.

A long and uneventful ride later, and Arien was standing in the center of the town of Darkshire. It was appropriately named, the sky clouded and dark, the few trees leafless and dead-looking. It was altogether a rather depressing place, and Arien began having a faint feeling of dread again. She spotted the town hall and quickly trotted into it. Clerk Daltry was in the entryway, and was quite happy to answer Arien's questions. "With all the strange happenings these last few years, I've kept as good records of strangers as I can." he told her as he lead the way to the records room. "Never know when it might come in handy... though it usually isn't very pleasant when it does. Not that I'm suggesting anything about this Velinde you're looking for." He poked around in his records for a few minutes, with Arien standing behind him, trying to at least look patient. "No, I don't have any records of a Velinde Starsong staying here in Darkshire... though, I can hardly imagine a night elf priestess taking a room in the inn, if you take my meaning. Those wolf-men you mentioned though, that's something I've heard of. Just the other day, Calor came in with a string of their heads. He works for the Carevin family. Hunters of demons, undead, and other monsters. Jonathan is the head of the household, go speak to him."

Arien went to the house Daltry pointed out, and spoke to the man she found inside, who seemed very suspicious and slightly angry at her questions. "Dark times, these are," he muttered, with an odd accent. "And in such times an unknown stranger enters my home and asks of worgen... I'll ask no forgiveness for my suspicions, only answers. And answers, I will have." Arien was slightly taken aback, but she carefully explained her story, about the book and the mysterious wolf-men in Ashenvale, and the clues that had led her to Duskwood. He considered her for a long moment before answering. "Your story rings true... I don't understand your motives, but if your business here involves ridding the forrest of a number of worgen, then I can forgo understanding for the sake of results." Carevin then told her about a mine, to the south, that had been overrun with worgen. He then asked that she come share anything important she found. She agreed, then stood to leave. She paused at the door, though, and looked back at him. "As for understanding motives, sir, there is only one thing you need to keep in mind," she told him. At his inquiring look, she simply stated, "I am a paladin," and left.

Arien retrieved her mount from the innkeeper, and rode south, as the bell in the town hall began ringing the hour in dull, mournful clangs. A short ways out of town, she found a small dirt track branching off the road. She decided to follow it a ways, and soon was glad, as she spotted the dim shapes of several worgen in the gloom. She dismounted and tied Faithful, using a knot that would give out should too much pressure be put on it. The trained warhorse would come at her call, and she didn't want to leave him trapped, where worgen could come upon him unable to escape. She stayed in the trees, watching them for a few minutes, then checked her weapon. When she was certain everything was in order, she walked out at the edge of the tiny clearing. The gloom seemed to work in her favor, as nothing seemed to notice her at first. She slipped her way carefully though the worgen, trying to find single targets to fight against as she looked for the mine. They were nasty, vicious, dirty monsters, and after almost every fight, she would have to use the Light on her minor injuries, to cleanse them of infections that would have turned them serious, possibly fatal. Finally, she could see the entrance to the mine, but a small group of worgen were in her path. Arien took a deep breath, and called a challenge to the nearest, as she burned it with a blast of Light. As the entire pack of four rushed her, she consecrated the ground she stood on, burning their feet and distracting them just enough for her axe to find openings for deathblows. The last one fell before too long, and she took a moment to cleanse and heal her wounds, and to catch her breath. As she entered the mine tunnel, she saw the worgen inside were few, and sread out. Fighting her way through, she came to the end of the tunnel, and discovered a small mound of disturbed earth. As Arien inspected it, suddenly a pale light shone from it, and the same ghost as from the Shrine appeared, weeping.

"I have failed... I have failed in my duty... failed my people... The worgen run rampant, and the Scythe of my goddess is lost.
"This evil I have unleashed... In whose hand does the power my goddess granted to me now lie... By whose hand is it directed?"

Arien blinked a little, in shock. The priestess had lost the Scythe? The infestation of the Duskwood was now more understandable. The question now was, where had it gone? It suddenly hit her that Velinde was undoubtably dead, and she took a moment to pray for the spirit of the priestess she had never gotten to meet. She then looked about, back to the only escape from the cursed mine tunnel. More worgen had slunk into the mine, and she had to fight her way back out. Once outside of the tunnel, she whistled to her warhorse, who came trotting to her in a matter of a few minutes. She mounted quickly, and urged him around the edge of the clearing in front of the mine, avoiding the worgen scattered about. Once clear of the creatures, she kicked her horse into a full gallop, riding cross-country for the shortest route, jumping fences and a fallen tree. Back in town, she immediately went back to Carevin to tell him what she had seen.

"This is an interesting story you tell, Arien. We will do what we can to contain the worgens numbers in Duskwood. Already I have instructed Calor to make it his first priority." He smiled grimly. "We will rein in the worgen problem, have no worries. This evil your friend introduced to our woods will be contained, and I bear her no ill will." Arien nodded, and excused herself to go report what had happened to the Sentinels in Darnassus.

Another long ride, another boat trip, and Arien was standing once more in Darnassus, before the Commander Bladeweaver. She was tired, dusty, and still slightly damp from the sea-spray on her last boat trip. She told Bladeweaver all that had happened on the other continent, and then waited for further instructions.

Bladeweaver looked thoughtful for a moment. "So this is the fate of Velinde, is it? The high priestess will be disappointed to hear this, they were good friends before her disappearance. Still, the Scythe of Elune was surely granted as a boon from our goddess, and it is unsettling to me that it has fallen out of her servants' hands." She then looked rather sharply at Arien, whose eyebrows were slowly rising. "Another matter for another time, however. I owe you a great deal of thanks for all you have accomplished." Arien blinked in surprise. Was that a dismissal? Already the Commander was turning away to another Sentinel, listening to her reports from who-knows-where. Arien stood there in confusion for a moment, then, when they continued to ignore her, she shrugged to herself, turned and wandered back towards the path to the docks, and the boat. She had a sudden need to see Kal, and tell her about this strange adventure. Perhaps her friend would be able to explain some of the Sentinels' cold reactions. Whistling to Faithful once more, she swung onto his back and trotted to the portal leading to the coastal village.

Towards home.

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