Selanii Longleaf slumped in her chair, bored and irritated. It wasn’t really her chair, of course, that had burned along with their home. It was just a chair. Millennia of tradition, gone. The thought pained her in ways it was difficult to describe, and the discussions in council today were just as excruciating. In this shabby pavilion erected for them in the fields behind Stormwind, the diminished House Council now met and discussed nothing of any real importance. There was no city to govern. There was no new business to debate. In short, the Council was mostly now a joke, a collection of sour old women who sat around preening and trying to remember their old importance. Across the sea, Tyrande acted as she saw fit, leading her Sentinels against the forces of the Horde, and for what? The tree had burned, it was dead. Tyrande, as always, was looking backward, seeking to return to her former glory.
A stir at the south end of the pavilion broke through her boredom. A wave of hushed whispers and excited murmuring swap over the assembled crones. Selanii raised her head, peering across the space. What she saw did not improve her mood. A demon hunter had entered the pavilion.
Forosuul Silverthorn, she though darkly, the last male I want to see.
Matriarch’s clustered near the entrance bowed respectfully to the newcomer, at the same time as they backed away in fear and gave him a wide berth. Selanii glared as the demon hunter made his way to the Silverthorn seat. As he sat she noticed for the first time that instead of his usual single attendant, the warrior Silannah, today he had two. Silannah, of course, and another; a youth, marked with the pale skin and silver hair of that House. He was accoutered much as Silannah, though his red cloak was simpler in design. He had the facial feature shared by so many Silverthorn males, but his long hair was unkempt, looking as if he’d only just rolled from his bed. Selanii frowned. She didn’t like not knowing what Silverthorn was up to.
Sesha Cloudsinger, the Matriarch currently holding the floor, bowed to Forosuul Silverthorn. She looked at him questioningly. He waved at her to continue. Why she bothered Selanii did not know. She had been discussing some pointless resolution to send to King Anduin. Something to do with better accommodations for refugees.
Ridiculous, Selanii mused, Anduin has more important matters to think about. Besides, came the unwelcome thought, no one was going to listen until the damn Silverthorn had said whatever he came here to say.
Sure enough, Sesha wrapped up her speech far more quickly than she otherwise would have, and yielded the floor. Forosuul inclined his head to her gracefully and stood.
“Members of the Council,” he began, augmenting his rasping voice as he was wont to do, “I come to you today to offer one of the best of my House as a liaison and training officer to our forces in Darkshore. I propose that Silannah Silverthorn, known as the Redwing, leave the immediate service of our House and take a commission with the Sentinels, training our young recruits and preparing them for our war of re-conquest against the ravening Horde.” A shocked hush followed this announcement, followed by a rising murmur of disbelief and appreciation. Selanni Longleaf sat glowering, irritated at the admiration shown to this upstart male.
Selanii called out loudly, “Such a move would have to be approved by Tyrande, and as you can see, Forosuul Silverthorn, she is not here. In fact, she has not bothered to attend Council in many weeks.”
Smiling thinly, Forosuul replied, “The High Priestess no doubt has her hands full, Selanii Longleaf. I feel confident she will appreciate Silannah’s presence.”
“Are you sure? As I recall, Silannah used to serve the House of Whisperwind, and left under less-then-ideal circumstances,” said Selanii, wearing a sweet smile that did not touch her eyes.
Chuckling lightly, Forosuul responded, grinning with every tooth in his head, “While this is true, I think we all know the source of the tension in the House of Whisperwind has been removed.”
Selanii’s face went slack at his words and she felt a chill go up her spine. Elune, she thought, he is all but admitting it. Composing herself quickly, she retorted with a sneer, “Truly, it is curious how often the enemies of Silverthorn come to a bad end.” The entire pavilion hushed at her remark. All eyes turned to Forosuul to see what he would do.
He simply smiled and said, “Indeed, Elune has blessed our House. One wonders why any would stand against such favor.” Shocked silence greeted his proclamation. Even Selanii could only gape at him. He smiled at her pleasantly, almost daring her to keep going.
Sesha Cloudsinger spoke up before the exchange could continue. “Is there a point to this discussion? Does the House of Longleaf object to Silverthorn’s offer?”
Halting, Selanii called out, “W-we do not.”
“Then we will send Silannah the Redwing to Darkshore, with a letter of intent from the Council. As Forosuul Silverthorn said, no doubt her presence will be appreciated,” declared Sesha. Murmurs of assent could be heard from all sides. “Does Forosuul Silverthorn have anything further to add?”
“If I may, I would like to address the issue brought up by Selanii Longleaf.”
Sesha Cloudsinger frowned, asked, “Do you mean the comments about Silannah’s previous service?”
Shaking his head sadly, Forosuul said, “I do not. I refer to Tyrande’s absence at Council.”
“But you..” Sesha seemed confused, “You said she had her hands full.”
“Oh, she does, of course, but that does not mean she should abandon her duties here. Tolerance should be shown for her absences in light of her quest in Darkshore, and naturally she should receive the full support of her people, this is why I am sending my best warrior to her, after all,” Forosuul replied with a smile, “But I think it would be wise to remind her that she has other duties to her people as well. She is not a common adventurer, after all.”
Across the pavilion, Selanii stared at him, her jaw dropped open. What game is he playing, she thought. This double-talk is infuriating. Where does he really stand?
Brow furrowed by confusion, Sesha Cloudsinger asked, “What does Forosuul Silverthorn suggest?”
“Oh, very little. Perhaps just a letter reminding her that an appearance here, dealing with the very important day-to-day needs of her people, is in order,” he said reasonably. “In fact, as we are dispatching Silannah Redwing to Darkshore, I am sure she would be more than happy to deliver it along with her letter of intent.”
Sesha blinked a few times. She felt she had lost control of the meeting, but she could not deny the very reasonable course of action, haltingly, she said, “That seems perfectly sensible. I appreciate your offer of delivery as well.”
Forosuul bowed low, then resumed his seat. He caught Selanii staring at him from across the space, and grinned without turning to her. A careful observer might have noted that his retainers seemed to be having trouble stifling equally large grins.
The Council meeting dragged on a bit longer, but little of interest was said. Mostly the Mariarchs and their retainers had gathered into little groups, discussing the earlier drama. After Sesha Cloudsinger closed the meeting, everyone filed out. Selanii had ducked out a bit early, and taken up station across the field, waiting for Forosuul to emerge. She did not wait long, as he and his entourage were almost the first out of the pavilion. She watched as he exchanged words with his retainers, each of which went off on their own way. Selanii let her form flow into the feline guise of a feral druid, she summoned her power and faded from sight, shadowing him as he walked across the fields.
Once they were both away from prying eyes, she ran in front of him and changed again, letting herself be seen. Forosuul drew up short, but seemed unsurprised at her appearance.
“Selanii,” he said, “I was hoping we could chat.”
“What,” she growled, “In the name of Elune’s tits was that?!”
Surprised at her language, Forosuul laughed abruptly and said, “You sound like my late father-in-law. He was an asshole.”
She growled back, “You opinion is noted and ignored, Silverthorn.”
Grinning, he said, “Sorry, that was a cheap shot, I guess. What do you want with me, Selanii?”
Sighing wearily, she said in a small voice, “I want to know what you are playing at.”
“That’s simple. I am protecting my family. I am serving our people. And I am laying the groundwork for the future. In that order.”
“What does that even mean?”
Laughing, he replied, “I am protecting my family by making sure we are accepted and well-thought of among our people, and on the Council. I am serving our people by sending a mighty warrior to serve in Darkshore. And I am watching the future by making sure lingering doubts about Tyrande are kept alive, even as I support her current efforts.”
Looking frustrated, Selanii said, “With your influence, you could turn the Council against Tyrande if you wanted! Why are you helping her at all!?”
Giving her a sour look, he said, “She is the Night Warrior now, Selanii, the Chosen of Elune. You were there, you took part, you have the eyes now.” Self-conciously, Selanii touched an eyelid in response. “She isn’t going away any time soon, Selanii. And what’s more, she is useful! She has the Horde on its heels. Have you forgotten what they’ve done?”
“Of course not! Nor have I forgotten that she ran away to nurse her precious Malfurion while our city burned!” she cried, her voice rising to a screech.
Forosuul replied more calmly, “I have not forgotten that either, but the Council has. For now, they must be reminded, in small ways, of her neglect. When the Horde has fallen, and the Night Warrior is no longer needed, her past misdeeds can be brought up again.”
Selanii dropped her head, said softly, “Why are we enemies, Forosuul?”
“Go home and ask yourself that question, not me. I did not seek conflict with your House.”
Scowling at him, she replied, “You broke tradition. And you interfered with my plans. Plans centuries in the making.”
Forosuul shrugged. “Your plans and mine were at cross-purposes at the time. And maybe now, but perhaps someday they won’t be,” he said simply. “Ask yourself this; Do you want me an enemy, or merely as a rival?”
“I would prefer your House as an ally.”
“Provided we regain our senses and put a woman in charge, of course.”
With an acid smile she said, “Of course.”
“I won’t be the first, Selanii. A male has been accepted to the Council. More will follow.”
“Not if I can help it.”
“Some tradition is foolish.”
Almost shaking with anger, she said, “You have no respect for our history.”
“I just have more respect for today,” he said, laughing. “I don’t feel like arguing with you any more, Selanii. We want a lot of the same things. I’ll get them without you if I have to, but I won’t let you get in my way.” With a mocking bow, he turned and left her behind.
Selanii sat in the field for a long time, wondering what she was really doing. Eventually, she took on the form of an owl and left.