The breeze tugged at the strands of her hair. It was nice, being this close to the water. One thing she certainly could find no issue with was the setting of their…accommodations. They might be effectively prisoners here, but at least it was pleasant surroundings. The soft grass was dotted with blue and pink blooms, not of a variety she was familiar with, but lovely all the same. They filled the air with a pleasant aroma that she found to be quite calming.
Soft thumps on the grass behind her caused Sellynna’s ears to twitch. Her hand reached instinctively to her hip which drew a sigh from deep within. Of course. Well, they promised us safety within these walls. The man behind her cleared his throat. She took a breath as she turned, her eyes going wide.
A draenei, massive beyond description, stood there. He towered over her, not only tall, but broad. She’d seen draenei before, but the sheer size of him was shocking. He would have been intimidating, if not for the fact that though he bore a spear on his back, he was otherwise dressed in simple attire. His pale skin and shining white hair made the golden tattoos on his arms seem… ethereal to her eyes. On his head, a ridged crest stood, framed between two unexpectedly short horns. I would have expected something more impressive for one of his measure, she thought inwardly.
The draenei remained still, his hands raised. “Sutrakarre means no harm.” His voice was deep, warm. There was a careworn quality to it, one that hinted of weariness and genuine kindness.
The Novice furrowed her brow. “Do you need something?” She was surprised to see him lower one hand to point at her. “Me.”
“You are one of the void elfs with crazy story, yes?”
“Crazy…oh.” She shrugged at that. “I suppose I am.” She rose from the ground and dusted off her uniform. She bowed to him.
He smiled, offering a grand bow in return. “Sutrakarre il Vitun, Paladin, late of the Army of the Light, now Retainer and Counselor to the House of Silverthorn,” he declared. He rose again to his full height.
“Sellynna Greythorn. How may I help?”
Sutrakarre made an odd circular gesture. “Is other way around. Sutrakarre helps Sellynna.”
“Unless you are going to help us kill the Lord Protector, I don’t see how,” she sighed.
“That remains to be seen.” He thumped his chest with an oversized fist. “Sutrakarre has slain many enemies in his day. But now Sutrakarre’s role is different.”
“You are an odd one…”
The man chuckled. “Sutrakarre has heard this before. Does Sellynna know what a Counselor is,” he asked gently.
“Depends on the use of the word. Do you mean you are here to help with the legalities of things? Or are you trying to get me to talk about what’s going on in my head?” She settled back down
Sutrakarre touched the side of his nose with a wink. “Second one. Sutrakarre watches over the spirit of those who dwell in the House of Silverthorn. Silverthorn has taken you in, so Sutrakarre is here,” he said with a kind smile.
“Taken us in?” She tipped her head to the side. “That is an odd way of putting it.” She pulled at a few blades of grass. Staring at them for a moment, she brushed them away, letting the wind carry them off.
“Is it?” Sutrakarre stepped forward, lowering his bulk to the ground on the edge of the rise.
“We can go anywhere we want, except outside the wall…and I still don’t have my weapons,” she lamented. Her eyes scanned the expanse before them, the seemingly endless landscape of mushrooms that stood in place of trees.
“Surely Sellynna understands caution.”
Sellynna nodded. “This, however, is not simply caution.”
“Silverthorn caution often is extreme. Sutrakarre has seen it,” he replied.
“This is insanity,” she stated, perhaps more harshly than she intended, but the waiting and interrogations were wearing on her patience. “Day of questions after questions, two days in other people’s clothing…but yet, otherwise comfortable? We’re treated as captives, and yet as guests. It makes no sense to me.”
Sutrakarre pulled the spear from his back, setting on the ground lovingly beside him. He kept one hand resting on the shaft, to what seemed to Sellynna’s mind, in an almost tender manner. “Believe Sutrakarre when he says, that to have been brought here,” he explained, gesturing around. “It means much.”
The Ren’dorei sighed. “So I hear.”
“Story Sellynna and friend bring is extraordinary.”
“And nonetheless, the truth.”
Sutrakarre nodded. “Sutrakarre believes. House of Silverthorn believes.”
“I suppose you were at the meeting where they all told each other about us?” Her eyes flitted up towards him, trying to gauge how he reacted to things.
He shook his head, though he offered her a ready smile. “Sutrakarre was told later. Lady Tindomiel asked Sutrakarre to see that void elfs were bearing up well.”
“Hmmm. We are doing well as we can,” she said simply.
“Yet Sellynna is troubled,” he added.
What? She turned to him, the same neutral expression on her face. “How do you know?”
“Sutrakarre very observant,” he replied. Such a statement from other men would be perceived as arrogant. But nothing in his tone indicated that to her. He simply seemed confident in the fact.
“You’ve observed me for all of what? Ten minutes? How would you know this is one thing, verses another?” Unless your facade slips, her shade taunted from within. It is still an area in which you are often… lacking.
The large man nodded. “Sutrakarre has been counselor for very long time. Sutrakarre is very wise,” he added, that enormous grin spreading across his face once again.
“Do you always refer to yourself in the third person,” she asked, deflecting.
“Almost always. Language differences. Only learned common recently,” he explained.
She listened, absorbing more information about his mannerisms and life. “Interesting. I studied it for two years. It’s terrible,” she added, her nose crinkling up almost imperceptibly.
Sutrakarre chuckled. “Worse for draenei!”
“Draenei language not have…what is called..pronouns? Or not so many.”
“Who is teaching you?”
“Studying on own time,” he replied proudly. “Sutrakarre gets by.”
Sellynna nodded. “Self improvement is a noble venture.”
“So,” he started again. “What troubles Sellynna?”
“Damn…” she muttered under her breath. She pinched the bridge of her nose, squeezing her eyes shut. She was loathe to delve too deep, lest she stir her Shade to further taunting.
He softly chuckled. “Sutrakarre is tenacious like ravager.”
“I can see that.”
A weary sigh escaped her lips. For a moment she worried it betrayed too much of her feelings, but at this point, it didn’t seem to matter. The counselor would poke until he got his answers. That much was very clear to her. “Borænin and I have…chosen a very dangerous path. And it is looking like we are taking it alone.”
“We sought help from the Silverthorns,” she explained. “So far, all we have gotten is questions and stripped of our belongings. The Lord Protector will return any moment. He will discover our betrayal.”
“Lord Protector will return to Azeroth,” Sutrakarre said. It was not a question. “Our Azeroth. Sellynna is not there.”
“For how long? The Lord Protector will find us. That is guaranteed,” came a downhearted response. She kicked at the dirt, though she did not know to what end.
Sutrakarre shrugged. “Did Sellynna think this would be over quickly?”
“I was hoping we would have some indication of what the Silverthorns will do by now.”
“Have you not?”
“Nothing definitive. Hints at maybe a yes?”
“Sellynna and friend are here.” He waved a large hand at the large fortress that housed them. “Silverthorns are scrambling to learn all they can of new enemy. Does this sound like nothing?”
“It’s…” she sighed, taking a moment to collect her thoughts. “I don’t know what to think. It’s delays. The longer we wait, the better the chance he locates us. If he finds us, he will kill me. There is no exception.” And he will delight in doing it. Because it’s what you deserve.
“Sellynna does not think Silverthorns will protect,” he prodded.
Sellynna grimaced. “If he comes for us, I will likely be dead before they could get into position. I am no fool. I will be blamed for this.”
“Sellynna thinks Silverthorns cannot protect,” he said, correcting he previous assumption.
“I don’t know if anyone can.” Her voice had dropped to a whisper, her confident air cracking.
“Is Lord Protector all powerful?”
“He is very, very powerful.”
Sutrakarre leaned in close. “So are Silverthorns,” he whispered with a knowing smile. He watched as she chewed on her lip. “Sutrakarre has seen Silverthorns take in many in need. Sutrakarre has never seen Silverthorns turn one out,” he added.
“There is always a first time.”
Sitting back, the man extended his arms outward slightly. “If Sellynna believes quest is hopeless, why then did Sellynna accept it?”
Her head snapped up, looking at him like the answer should be obvious. “To help Borænin.”
“Does Borænin think hopeless?”
“I don’t know. He is guarded about things.”
“Tell Sutrakarre, who told Sellynna that Lord Protector was so very powerful?”
Sellynna blinked, taken aback. “Everyone.”
Sutrakarre grinned. “Who told everyone?”
“I…” Her smile faded and her eyebrows crept their way towards each other.
Sutrakarre leaned in close once again, a conspiratorial grin on his face. “Lord Protector tell everyone, yes,” he whispered.
“I don’t know…Maybe? He…he did create so much of what we know through his sorcery.”
“Tyrants,” he began, making an expansive gesture, like he is growing larger. “Puff up, like frog staring down crocodile. But frog dies with stomp of hoof. Full of air,” he replied, clapping his hands together to create a popping noise.
She couldn’t help but chuckle. “An interesting analogy.”
Sutrakarre smiled. “No one man builds a world, Sellynna. One man just took credit.”
“But when he falls…” she winced. “Our world will crumble. Even if it’s the right thing to do, is it not also wrong?”
“The price of change is high,” he stated. “Does not make it wrong.”
“I hope you are right. Because a lot of people are going to die.”
Sutrakarre tilted his head to one side. “Those people…immortal?”
“No. They would not die if they were…” She looked up at him oddly.
“Is Sellynna oracle? Knew their appointed time?”
The woman shook her head. “No. I just know that when the rug is pulled out, all those who have been unhappy are going to rise up. They will come for the ones they believe were loyal.”
He nodded. “Is the way of things, yes.”
“They will not suffer them to live,” she sighed. “So yes, a lot of people are going to die. I cannot say exactly which specific ones. Just…a large number.” Sellynna rubbed her temples with the heels of her hands.
“Perhaps,” the large an offered. “Did not Sellynna’s world bring death to many others?”
“Yes. The Lord Protector does not have the patience for mistakes or dissent. Or Silverthorns.” At this point, whatever this counselor was trying to do, all it seemed to be happening was she was growing increasingly miserable.
“And brought death to many other worlds, yes?”
“You have no idea,” she answered quietly. “In truth, I don’t even know all of it. Borænin does.”
“This is out of balance. The Cosmos….it seeks balance. The price for change is high, but the price must be paid.”
“I understand,” she said glumly. “And yet, I cannot help but feel guilty.” She turned her gaze back out to the expanse in front of them, drawing her knees to her chest.
“Throughtout the Cosmos, Lord Protector has hunted the Silverthorns, yes?”
“Here, the Silverthorns will be the Lord Protector’s end,” he reassured her. “Balance.”
“So we hope.”
Sutrakarre set a hand on Sellynna’s shoulder. “Sellynna’s guilt is good sign.”
“Is it?” She tensed slightly at the contact, but thought it rude to pull away.
“Means Sellynna has good heart,” he explained, removing the offending touch.
Sellynna sighed. “I am not sure it will count for enough.”
“Enough for what?”
“To help the one person who needs it.”
“And that is?”
Sellynna looked up at the window above them on the inn. “The one I did all this for.”
“How would Sellynna help Borænin?”
“To find himself again. Find the man he is under the horrible things he has done while serving the Lord Protector.” Her grip on her own legs lessened slightly, though she kept her gaze turned to their bedroom window.
“Will Sellynna take Sutrakarre’s advice,” he asked gently.
“If it will help him? Yes.”
“Sellynna cannot do this for Borænin. Sellynna can only hold Borænin up while the path is found.” He peered at her, his expression soft and sincere. “Only Borænin can find Borænin.”
Sellynna’s ears drooped.
The Lightforged slapped his chest. “Sutrakarre is counselor with three millennia experience, and even Sutrakarre cannot do this. But Sellynna can be there. Can be support. Can be patient. Can help light the way.”
“Shadows willing,” she replied. Sutrakarre arched an eyebrow, surprising her. “What?”
Sutrakarre grinned. “Nothing.”
“You made a face.”
“Sutrakarre liked Sellynna’s phrase.”
“My…oh,” she murmured. “It’s just something we say when we are attempting to be hopeful.”
He nodded. “Sutrakarre understood. Sellynna’s world…Lightforged Draenei there?”
“If there are, I’ve never met one.”
Sutrakarre nodded. “Sellynna is…changed by void, yes? Made new?”
Sellynna winced. Changed? New? Maniacal laughter rang in her ears. “That’s one way to put it, yes.”
“Sutrakarre is like this…but with the Light. Hah! Right here!” He clapped his large hands together. “Balance!”
“So it hurt you?”
“Sutrakarre had to undergo trials,” he confirmed.
Sellynna nodded, her lips tight. “You made it through, it seems.”
“As did Sellynna.”
Sutrakarre touched her forehead then touched the glowing rune on his crest. “Shadow. Light. Balance.”
“As you say,” she replied, smiling faintly.
The Draenei smiled. “Sellynna thinks Sutrakarre is strange.”
Sellynna had no choice but to chuckle. “You have no idea.”
Sutrakarre made a wobbly motion with his hand. “Maybe little crazy?”
“Getting warmer,” she answered, cracking a small smile.
Sutrakarre laughed aloud.
“Look, you seem nice enough. But…I’m not sure you really understand what this all means for Borænin and I. I just want to make it through this mess alive with him by my….” She stopped short and clamped her mouth shut, looking away.
Sutrakarre smiled gently and said nothing for a minute or two. “Sellynna’s love for Borænin shines,” he offered softly.
“He’d prefer it not be discussed.”
“Is Sellynna’s love, is Sellynna’s to discuss. If Sellynna wishes,” he added.
“I don’t even understand it really. I met him in truth, only once before the mission. And then I arrive here and then he does and we get to work. And the next thing I know I scrambling to get things done as fast as I can to go report in. Just to see his face,” the words tumbled from her. Sellynna buried her face in her hands. “Oh Shadows, why did I say that out loud?”
Sutrakarre smiled. “Because Sellynna’s love is bright. It is pure. Sellynna would be amazed what Sutrakarre has seen such love accomplish.” He tenderly caressed the shaft of the spear by his side.
She looks at him oddly. “Is the spear an analogy for something?”
He shook his head. “This…” he explained he placed his hand on the head of the spear, “belonged to Surtakarre’s sister.”
“Belonged to? So she is gone?”
Sutrakarre nodded. “It was used…to save Sutrakarre’s life.”
Sellynna blinked, surprised. “So she protected you…with that? That’s very noble. Having someone love you that much…it’s…a foreign concept for me.”
“Is it,” he asked softly, shaking off the hints of distress that pressed against his chest and shoulders.
“My family sold me to the Order to have one less mouth to feed.” She shrugged. “So…yes.”
“Did Borænin not embark on this dangerous path to save Sellynna from an evil fate?”
Sellynna looked up at him. “Is that what he told you all,” she whispered.
Sutrakarre smiled faintly. “Lady Tindomiel found Borænin out.”
“He was very agitated when he came up from speaking with her.” She sighed heavily.
“Lady Tindomiel is very, very aggravating,” he said simply. “But Lady Tindomiel finds the truth.”
She rubbed her eyes before looking up at him, surprised. “She was very kind to me.”
“Lady Tindomiel is that too.”
“But you said she is aggravating?”
“Both things are true.”
Sutrakarre chuckled. “Someday Sellynna will know the Lady better, and Sellynna will see. Now,” he said, slapping his thighs. “Sutrakarre must go. But Sutrakarre wishes to leave Sellynna with a final thought.”
“Sutrakarre thinks that Sellynna’s love is not the only one that shines so brightly.”
“But you said…”
He held a finger aloft, cutting her off “Sutrakarre says to Sellynna, do not be afraid to look into the light, child of shadows.”
Sellynna furrowed her brow. “What if….he is not ready for me to?”
“Then Sellynna must be patient. Love, is patient.”
“I will try,” she replied, rubbing her eyes.
Sutrakarre slowly rose to his hooves and reached out a hand to help her. with his other hand, he slid his spear onto his back. He offered her a grand bow which she matched with her own. “Be well, Sellynna Greythorn. We will speak again.”
“Shorel’aran, Sutrakarre. Shadows hide you from ill.”
Sutrakarre smiled. “And Light guide Sellynna’s path,” he replied and turned to the path. He strode away, confidence within his every step.
Sellynna watched his back until it faded from sight into one of the building at the other side of the compound. She settled back down on the grass and turned her gaze to the window above, looking towards the light.