Fifth Cycle, Day Sixteen -First search for important Kaldorei texts
Today was the first day we set out searching for scrolls and other historic Kaldorei records to complete the Temple's Library. I couldn't pass up an opportunity to see these texts firsthand, so naturally I was one of the volunteers.
We gathered in Winterspring, in the Goblin town of Everlook, on what seems to be the coldest day I can remember. A particularly bad blizzard set in earlier, but the Priestesses were adamant about retrieving the scrolls today. In any rate, I gathered my warmest cloak and we set out. It didn't take long for my hands to grow numb and stiff. Thank Elune they didn't get frostbit. I was also not too fond of being back in the area, so soon after being held captive there. Overall, I think I handled the stress well, though I made sure not to lose sight of my Sisters and tried not to touch anything that could obviously be a trap.
To get back to my recount of the adventure, it seems the bridge to the south of Everlook has been out of commission for quite some time. The temple ruins we were looking for were directly across the huge gorge. To make matters worse, the weather had stirred up the excitement of the frost elementals in the area. We were forced to dispatch a few that were enjoying the snow a bit too close to our directive. It wasn't too difficult, with most of their attention on the ice blowing through the ravine.
We found the door to a tower just past the broken remains of the bridge. It was throughly sealed with a layer of ice, but after quite a few minutes they managed to chunk off enough to pry the door open. By this time I was too cold to assist, and stood watch in case any of the other elementals came too close. Once inside, we saw that the floor of the tower was littered with papers and other items, but it didn't have the texts we were looking for. A set of stairs led to the cliff above, and it was quite a hike to the top where the temple stood. I'm sure I got enough exercise climbing those dreaded steps to counter the fact I'm sitting next to a nice fire and have no intentions of leaving it for the rest of the night.
The ruins of the temple seemed fairly well preserved, if you ignore the amount of snow that drifted in the open door. It didn't take too long to find the important texts once they dug through the snow, which appeared to be well-kept in sealed scroll cases.
Then the strangest thing happened. Outside on the cliffs were a number of frost giants, who also seemed to be enjoying the horrendous weather. One stuck its head through the doorway, and SPOKE. It sounded crude, but it was easily identified as speech. I didn't realize they were capable of communication with Kaldorei, and it took all of us by surprise. The giant didn't seem to mind that we were recovering documents, and even offered a ride back to the other side of the gorge. I'm not sure what would have been worse, the infinite number of stairs we'd have to climb to trek back through the gorge, or being launched into a snow drift when the giant THREW us. As it was, I was already frozen solid from the sleet, and the amount of snow I inhaled during the landing was remarkable. I suppose I should be thankful that it was a snow drift we landed in, and not a chunk of ice, but I really despise the cold.
At the very least, we were able to find the scrolls. My fingers were too cold to actually inspect them past checking for the seal of the temple. I will have to remember to ask the Priestesses exactly what they contained.
This is the second trek through Winterspring I have not enjoyed. I don't think I'll return.
*The writing in this post is slightly crooked and jagged. It appears the author is the same as the rest of the journal, though it is lacking its uniform scrolling appearance.*
Fifth Cycle, Day Twenty-Five -Second search for important Kaldorei texts
I'm writing this slowly, and each movement of the pen makes my shoulders ache. I hadn't realized just how many day-to-day movements also move your shoulders. It even hurts to breathe if I do not sit a certain way. However, it is imperative that I write my recount of my journey into the sunken ruins of Vashj'ir, if only for my own memory.
Two days ago, Guardian Keenstar and I ventured out to sea to recover some of the most important scrolls that the Temple of the Moon lacks: those from the Temple in Vashj'ir itself. I will not say I am the most proficient swimmer, though the captain of the ship gave us each a potion that would allow us to breathe underwater. It was the most foul thing I've tasted, though it created a bubble that surrounded our heads from the air in our throats to allow us to breathe.
Looking back on the moment I should have asked for the recipe for the potion, or at least the ingredients. It would be an interesting study.
We were given an hour to complete our search, or the ship would leave without us. They didn't bring us too close to the ruins, so we set off quickly. When we finally caught sight of the ruins, the view was absolutely stunning. No texts or drawings can ever do Vashj'ir justice, even with it sunken in the middle of the ocean. Towers and spires were still standing, statues were still overlooking the gardens, and different species of coral replaced the plantlife in the flowerbeds and planters. I will draw a sketch of what I remember, when I regain enough mobility in my arms, though it will be nothing compared to actually seeing the city sprawled out underneath us in the water.
The Guardian had some sort of globe that kept a map of the city. I hadn't thought to bring a map, and having left all my books on the deck of the ship, I was unprepared. She led the way to the temple, though I have the distinct feeling she does not approve of my position in the Sentinels. I could hardly get her to say more than two words to me at a time, and even then they were given with a scowl. I'm not sure what I've done to cause such disapproval in the past, but I am hoping our trek together helped alleviate it a bit.
When we reached the temple, we could hear a creature within, digging through the muck to search for something. A naga was digging for something that would help bring her back into her Queen's favor. Guardian Keenstar kept it occupied while I got ready to attack. Unfortunately, it caught on, and threw me into a pillar. If not for our magical bubbles, the wind would have been knocked out of me. As it was, it seemed to take damage, and wasn't nearly as full of air. By the time I recovered, the Guardian was attacking the siren head-on. I rushed to help, and the beast threw a lance of ice at me. I tried to dodge, and it took me in the rght shoulder. Thank Elune it didn't damage anything vital. I tore off a piece of my pantleg and tied it tight around my upper body to keep myself from bleeding out.
At this time Guardian Keenstar was about to be frozen solid in a block of ice. I charged, and again was caught by an icicle, this time in the other shoulder. Around this point I was disoriented from bloodloss, but I could tell the Guardian wasn't faring well either; her breathing bubble popped, and she swam up as fast as she could. Luckily there was an air pocket in the roof of the temple from when it sank, and she was able to watch the rest of the fight from safety.
There wasn't anywhere for me to hide, with the naga's attention completely on me. With one last burst I shapeshifted into a cat and crushed the creature's throat with my jaws. It took every ounce of my strength to change back and swim to where Guardian Keenstar was waiting. Miraculously I still had a bit of a bubble left, and went to find the scrolls while we still had a moment. Once we recovered them, we set off for the ship.
We barely made it back before they hauled anchor. Once we were back, the Guardian went into the cabin for a "nice, hot bowl of soup", and left me bleeding on the deck. I really should confront her and get to the cause of her dislike.
It's been two days since our journey, and my shoulders ache continuously. I do hope I heal up soon. It's getting hard to pretend like I'm fine, and I'm almost out of bruiseweed for the pain. Must ask about getting more.
*A multitude of odd-sized papers are stuck between the pages, each filled with snippets of information to remember later. They don't seem to be in any kind of order.*
Tenth Cycle, Day Twenty-Six
I suppose I should feel disappointed in myself for not sitting down to formally write a log of everything that has happened recently, though judging by my schedule, it really couldn't be helped.
Organizing activities for those gifted with Druidic talents has become one of my priorities within the Cadre as of late. Roughly a month ago it caught my attention just how much our Druids were lacking in certain skills, or simply uncomfortable using them to the best of their abilities. Most of those with these nature-oriented talents within our unit focus on using their expertise for healing and restorative purposes. Whereas there is nothing wrong with this approach, I feel that we should increase our skillset for the benefit of the Cadre as a whole. Druids can complete feats that some of the other Sentinels would take years to master, and it is time that we live up to this task.
I've brought my Sisters and Brothers together in two gatherings thus far, and I truly think that it's been a great help to some. On the Fifth day of the cycle we introduced ourselves, then spoke about the patrons of the Claw, Ursol and Ursoc, and the importance of shapeshifting into a bear. One of the Sisters whom I hadn't met prior, Theo Thero, had some difficulty shifting (we moved a log out of the way in Winterspring, to keep it from blocking the road), but I walked her through the basic steps to complete the transformation. I myself need to do a bit more in terms with that particular shift; I feel that I can control the mind of the bear, but my movements are still slow and lumbering - not at all commanding the raw strength the bear's form provides. We will need to return to that shift for more practice at a future meeting.
Our second meeting on the Eighteenth day was just as eventful; we spoke of the benefits of saber form as opposed to bear. Many of our Sisters and Brothers have more practice with that shift, and all in attendance were able to control the mind enough to do a short exercise to practice their sneaking. Myself and two volunteers (Commander Wintershade and Outrunner Starsong) each had strips of cloth that our participants had to sneak up and grab. Most were successful, which surprised me - if they are that coordinated to sneak by when we are looking for them, why don't they take advantage of that skill in missions with the Sentinels? Somehow I'll need to find a way to translate the skills we practice into their duties on the field of battle. We still need to practice combat as a saber, though I'm not sure how to do that without someone getting seriously hurt. Perhaps clawing at a practice dummy will be enough, but I'm wary to let them spar; if they accidentally draw blood, they might lose control of their form. I should speak with Keeper Moonchaser about this...she has more experience with saber form than I, and perhaps she can help me find a way to practice safely.
Because of my focus on these activities between my other duties as a Sentinel, it completely caught me unawares on the Eighteenth, when I was promoted to Watcher within the Cadre. Commander Wintershade and a few of the Huntresses mentioned a promotion in passing, though I hadn't thought it would come quite so soon. I was quite surprised at the Induction Ceremony when not only did we not have any new members to bring into the unit, but my name was called. Receiving my green Watcher feathers made me think of being handed my first Recruit feathers; the sense of pride was the same. Now I'll be able to help the rest of the unit realize their potential, much like being a Sentinel has done for me...though, thinking about it, I was able to do so even as a Keeper.
Being a Watcher is certainly more tiring than I had previously thought; there are many more things expected of an officer than before as a Keeper, and the list of duties only gets longer. Thankfully I'm still in training, so I have a bit of wiggle room while I get adjusted. There's a feeling of anxiousness, now that the new-found pride has worn off a bit; I'm worried that I'll do something to disappoint the other officers, or bring a bad light to the unit. I've been reassured that I should continue what I've been doing, but I feel like it's not enough...I don't have the innate leadership abilities that the other Huntresses have. Perhaps that will come with time, but I just wish I'd get the hang of being authoritative sooner rather than later.
On the positive side, I think I should be able to handle everything that has been asked of me though...one of these pieces of paper has the general list of things I should check up on every day.
Speaking of which, I really should organize these papers next time I have a free moment. This is no longer a journal, just a folder filled to the brim with tidbits of reminders.
A fellow Druid has agreed to practice with me outside our usual gatherings. Adalcien Darkhollow has quite a bit of experience with the Claw, which is one of my weaker areas of Druidism.
Our lesson started with the suggestion to remove my boots. I found it strange at first, how little clothing Brother Darkhollow chose to wear, until he explained his reasoning behind it; wearing less, and especially going barefoot, he feels closer to nature which in turn aids his already honed skills. I was hesitant at first, but feeling the soil between my toes did seem to have some effect.
We ran through the forests of Teldrassil as sabers, and truth be told, it has been quite some time since I felt something so…exhilarating. I had always seen shapeshifting as a tool to use while I focused on my talents with restoration, but never as such a gift.
We sat on the edge of Teldrassil for some time, catching our breaths and talking, and eventually made our way back to the city.
I’m looking forward to more practices, if I can find the time between my other obligations.
Eleventh Cycle, Day Eight - Third Druidic Gathering
We held another meeting tonight, after Inductions. We’re beginning to focus on other things besides shapeshifting, and I think it went over rather well. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised - after all, the majority of us specialize in these natural magics.
After quite a bit of correspondence from the Eastern Kingdoms, I managed to acquire a sack of Stranglevine seeds for our use. They’re roughly the size of a marble (and therefore easy to transport), and are quite easy to sprout, which makes them ideal for our purposes.
We talked a bit about the use of vines, and some of our participants gave ideas that I hadn’t thought of before. I knew roots were good for trapping enemies on the battlefield, but they also suggested using them as makeshift ropes for building. My only fear is that the invasive nature of the Stranglevine would become more than a nuisance and end up destroying what they were using the rope-vine for. I’ll have to look into other types of vine, to see if any are easier controlled.
One of our Worgen Sisters spoke of her grandmother, who was a Harvest Witch. She said something about singing to the plant to get it to do as she wished. In any rate, once we discussed how to coax the seed to sprout, I set them to practice. Many of them were advanced enough in their skills that they worked on using the vines to ensnare each others’ legs. A few others wrapped my staff in the midst of the Stranglevine.
Strangely, Commander Wintershade did not seem to trust me when I told her she would be completely safe in our care as a practice target.
I gave each of the Druids in attendance a handful of seeds to carry with them in case they need, with the warning that if left unchecked Stranglevine will choke out natural plantlife. Our next gathering should be on the twenty-second day of the cycle, if all goes well.
Eleventh Cycle, Day Twenty-Three -Fourth Druidic Gathering
Last night was another of our scheduled meetings concerning Druidism. We are beginning to see a few regulars in the group, those not belonging to the Sentinel Cadre, which is good. Some, such as Brother Shadowclaw, have had close dealings with the unit in the past. Perhaps with a few more meetings we will have a dedicated group that can discuss more than simply training…
…until then, we will focus on sharing our knowledge. Last night was no disappointment; we discussed transforming our skin to that of treebark, for protection. Moonglade holds quite a few different varieties of trees, which all have different properties when used as a catalyst for the spell. I set them about selecting a few different types from the local area, and then ground them up for practice.
The spell itself is simple enough, though Brother Amberfire walked us through the steps quite effectively. Most of us were able to complete it with relative ease, though a few had some mishaps - Adalcien sprouted branches, and Keeper Moonchaser was stuck in a hardened shell of barkskin for some time afterwards, with only her eyes to signal for assistance. I think the bark she used for focus was too rigid, but we ran out of time to talk further before the Sentinel Induction ceremony.
Adalcien spoke with me for a few moments after drills last night as well. He has quite the sad past…his love was a Sentinel before she passed, though her name escapes me at the present moment. Speaking of the Trek our unit takes to Feralas brought it up. I’d be glad for him to come along when we leave Darnassus in a month or so. Not only would I be able to continue learning from him, but I genuinely enjoy his company. Perhaps I can persuade him to come along, but I do not wish to stir up old memories that are better left alone…we will see.
I spoke with Adalcien Darkhollow again tonight. He asked me if I was prepared for the next gathering (which is tomorrow), and once I told him I hadn’t even begun to think about it, he suggested we go on a run to clear our thoughts before we talk about my plans.
Running through the forest with him is always a completely different experience than anything I’ve been used to. I’m starting to see why some choose to ignore society and obligations, and simply choose to be free.
Three nights ago was our sixth meeting. When I spoke to Adalcien, we discussed visiting the Shrine of Aessina, in Ashenvale, which we both decided was an excellent idea. So before we finished with our Sentinel Inductions, I let the other Sisters know that the gathering was open to all; the Ancients are an important part of Kaldorei culture, and not only revered by the Druids.
We had quite a few in attendance, and I believe less than half had Druidic capabilities. Therefore we kept our discussion simple. A few volunteers spoke of their experiences with the Ancient of Nature. When I led them in a short meditation, some left offerings to Aessina. Overall, it was a calming meeting.
One of the Sentinels, Silverglaive, spoke to me as well, about her great aunt, Numahaya. It appears that she has been bedridden as of late, due to illness. Perhaps I can speak with her in the future, in a less-taxing setting.
Adalcien and I traveled to Aessina’s Grove in Mt. Hyjal, to better commune with nature. You wouldn’t have thought that we spent the better part of a few days travelling, since our fatigue vanished when we stepped between the trees. It’s quite amazing what the Great Wilderness Spirit is capable of doing.
I spoke to him also about the anniversary of our unit’s beginnings. We are having a week long festival, full of different events and celebrations. I’ve wanted to do something to mark the occasion as well, and I decided on a scavenger hunt of sorts, with a few historical locations as goals. I’ve set him to writing riddles as clues. We will see how it turns out.
Keeper Seabreeze set up a Winter’s Veil Gift exchange this year for our Sentinel unit, to celebrate the holidays. For my gift, I paid quite a hefty sum for someone to procure some Artha’s Tears, a rather rare medicinal plant that only grows near the ruined town of Stratholme. They were still somewhat fresh when I received them, and placed them in sealed boxes to be delivered with the other exchanged gifts. I also added a few blank journals, and wrapped them in blue wrapping paper.
Today, we received the identical number of presents that we put into the exchange, meaning five packages were delivered to me this morning. Amongst them were two containers of bean soup from one of the Priestesses (I’m not sure if she cooked them herself…I need to ask), a simple dress, a small earthen elemental of sorts, a strange flowering plant that appears to be sentient, and a rather large and beautifully designed satchel from one of the Huntresses. I’ve almost finished moving my inventory from one bag to the next - this journal is the last item that needs to be transferred.
Once I finish this entry, I’ll take a look at the plant before finishing up my riddles for my celebratory event in a few days. We’ve had celebrations all week, but sadly, I haven’t been able to attend them because of my regular duties. One would think that we’d have a bit of a reprieve from patrols to enjoy the anniversary festivities, but the safety of our territory and people come first. I’m particularly saddened that I’ll have to miss the anniversary story circle tonight; I have quite a few tales I could’ve told, and I won’t be able to hear the others people tell. Perhaps I can convince her to write them down for me to read, though it won’t be the same as hearing them first-hand.
*The lettering seems to change here, growing less uniform and a bit darker, as if it was written later and she pressed harder when she was writing.*
I spoke with one of the Huntresses in my unit, and thanked her for the satchel. She quickly changed the conversation to a discussion of my leadership abilities, or lack thereof. When I joined the unit, it was because I wanted to help my Sisters. I’m not particularly well-versed in military protocol, and have a fraction of the combat experience. I enlisted because I am good at supporting others, and can use my skills to keep my Sisters alive on the battlefield. Even through all the missions I've faced, that has been my primary goal; to make sure we all return at the end of the day. Throughout my time with the unit, that hasn't changed. I cannot lead them into battle, or verse them in historical battles, but I care about their safety.
It was then that the Huntress said that I could have done all that as an enlisted soldier, and yet I still accepted the promotion. She said that either I should step up and lead, or wait out my time lazily as a Watcher and then be asked to retire.
I need to start taking a few risks, and lead the Sentinels under me. As of yet, I’m still unsure as to what I need to do, but part of what the Huntress said was to teach those under me the skills they will need to survive and succeed, and then teach them how to teach others. After that, it’s just a bit of nudging here and there.
She said I didn’t need to be well-versed in combat, but I needed to be able to be a real leader, and inspire them. These are warriors of the greatest fighting force in Azeroth - they do not need to be coddled, but pushed.
I couldn’t help but feel offended at her accusations, though I know there is some basis of truth; I’m no leader.
I won’t lie and say writing those words doesn’t bring a smile to my lips. There has been so much I’ve learned in the short amount of time since I earned the rank of ‘Watcher’, and the other officers have seen my progress. There were some of those moments that I felt that my efforts weren’t enough and that I was better-suited to stay enlisted, but with some help I was able to remember the fresh-faced Recruit who said she wanted to be a leader and make a difference.
My duties as Guardian won’t change much from when I was a Watcher - I am still in charge of day-to-day organization of the unit, and making sure all the Sisters are cared for mentally and physically. We haven’t had any influxes of enlistment papers for new Recruits lately, but that just means I can focus my attentions on nurturing the potential within our current Sentinels.
Guardians and Huntresses do get a few perks for their veteran experience that wasn’t immediately brought to my attention. I was permitted to request my own room in the Bunkhouse as a Watcher, but didn’t think too much of it - lugging the heavy chest of books at the foot of my bed to a new room wasn’t really something I was looking forward to. Even now, thinking of it sounds tedious. However I’m starting to feel that the extra peace from the usual bustle of the Bunkhouse will be a welcomed change from sharing a living space with all the enlisted members of our unit. I’m sure the others will appreciate it as well - it couldn’t have been easy having an officer in close proximity when off-duty, and it would only be worse with my new veteran status.
There is also a pay raise for those who reach the Huntress or Guardian ranks. I haven’t much need for extra gold, so I think I’ll stash it away for safekeeping, and continue to live as humbly as I can. After, of course, I have a new set of armor commissioned to replace my cracked leathers and buy a new binding for one of my worn-out field texts. I think that bit is deserved.
Last night after our Induction Ceremony, I had arranged for a small group to be transported by hippogryphs to Karnum’s Glade in Desolace, where the reports of a disturbance originated. There were more than I was expecting, mostly comprised of those Druidic brothers and sisters who I had worked with in our training sessions, but some of my Sentinel Sisters arrived to assist as well.
According to the report I received, many of the lashers around the Glade have been acting out recently. This has been somewhat of an issue; with the changes to the natural ecology, it is understood that there will be some negative reactions. However, a lasher that was recently studied thoroughly has undergone changes unlike those of the usual culprits; the specimen was larger, more vicious, and had pollen that was corrupted with something unknown. These changes in lasher behavior and physiology seem to be the result of something other than the abrupt growth of the Glade. A few smaller studies, mainly dealing with runoff water supplies, have hinted that the root of the problem can be located in the ancient centaur holy grounds of Maraudon.
After a bit of thought I decided that we would sneak past the centaur camp and into the caverns of Maraudon to search for the problem. It didn’t take much to get into the caverns; most of the sentries were either preoccupied with their turf war or lounging about lazily. We did have to dispose of a patrolling priest once we were in the halls, and hid the body to prevent being caught too soon.
It seemed that there are some internal conflicts within the ranks of the centaur as well, though that is a completely different matter. One of their own was locked in a cage, but I had one of our more experienced Druids sprout roots and tie its mouth shut so that it couldn’t cry out an alarm.
We also had to maneuver carefully around one of their more prominent members - the garb adorning the centaur was a bit higher quality, which leads one to think it might have been a prophet of some sort in their society. A quick dart coated in a paralytic sleeping potion solved the issue of sneaking past unseen, and we continued deeper into the caverns. I led our scouting party down one of the hallways to the right, the dirt walks lined with strange glowing orange crystals. Where the crystals started, the centaur presence stopped. Further along the corridor was a dryad, who warned us of toxic spores deeper within the caves that corrupted those who breathed them in. Her brothers and sisters had fallen to the corruption, she said, and urged us not to go on.
Unfortunately, we needed to find the source of the corruption, else all of Karnum’s Glade could fall as well.
Around a few more bends illuminated by the crystals we came across a pool with an enormous lasher soaking up the water within. The reports I received told nothing of how large and hostile the corruption turned the lashers, and almost immediately the flora turned on our party. After quite some time we were able to fend off its attacks and kill it. Delivering the killing blow, Brother Shadowclaw was victim to one last burst of spores. His feral form was not as well protected as the rest of us, who had covered our faces with bits of cloth and masks to keep the toxins from our airways. Within seconds he became aggressive, and even turned on one of our own in an attempt to flee. Adalcien and I were forced to compel him with soothing energies, until he was able to be tied up and hearthed back to Darnassus, where he still is under the watch of delegates from the Circle to see if any lingering traces of corruption remain.
I did manage to take a few samples, a bit of spores carefully contained, a bit of the strange-colored water from the pool, and a shard of the glowing crystals that line the deeper halls of Maraudon. It is my hopes that these will help pin-point the exact location of the heart of problem, but I will settle for learning the nature of the corruption itself.
I’ve spent the majority of the past few days pouring over notes. Not my own, but the ones we found in Maraudon. They were immensely detailed, with diagrams of the flora we found within the caverns, as well as a few snippets of things from the Draenor area of Gorgrond. Unfortunately, the samples that were included in the bag we recovered had to be destroyed; it would not be safe to keep them outside the infected areas, at least not without risk of spreading the corruption new species further.
Botanist Tenethal Swiftbloom, the author of the journal we found, was a brilliant researcher, if a bit…eccentric. I have a copy of part of his work on lashers in my own personal collection, though they appear to be a bit outdated after reading some of the more recent notes included with his journal. Whether they know it yet or not, the loss of his mind will certainly affect the rest of the forefront of botanical research.
However, I will not lie and say he was without fault. Had he listened to the Circle, not only would he not have been ousted and his work taken from him, but he would have realized that the purging of the satyrs from Maraudon had cured much of the corruption already within the caverns. There was still quite a bit of eradicating to do, as all the flora needed burned to prevent contamination and spread to the healthy plantlife outside their demonic reach, but the cause of the problem had been largely fixed.
When he travelled to Gorgrond, he was convinced that the corruption that had plagued Maraudon with the Burning Legion’s presence was the exact same that he saw in the areas inhabited by the Botani creatures he described in the latter portion of his notes. (The Botani are tree-creatures solely interested in spreading their territory with the help of intelligent plantlife. Need more research.) I’ve cross-referenced a few of the older scrolls from the Circle on the effects of the demonic corruption to the samples we found in Maraudon, and I have to disagree with Botanist Swiftbloom.
Corruption, as I have found, is not the correct word to describe the phenomenon in Maraudon. The plants spreading are an entirely new species all together! A few times he mentions severe headaches and sickness, particularly after he smelled a strange sentient flower in Gorgrond. It is my assumption that he ingested spores from the Botani’s overgrowth, and they began to take hold on his mind.
We saw similar effects in Brother Shadowclaw – he was disoriented, dazed, and extremely aggressive. The Circle was able to cleanse the toxins before they took hold completely, though Botanist Swiftbloom was not so fortunate after his removal from the Circle. By the time he returned to Maraudon, the spores had fully contaminated his brain, turning him into a mindless creature bent on spreading overgrowth. I believe it was he who we saw at the top of the falls, or one of his henchmen. Having burned the body to prevent the plant from reanimating the corpse, we will never be sure.
Whatever samples he brought back with him from Draenor then bred with the flora already inhabiting Maraudon, creating a dangerous mix of the two species. The new samples we saw on our scouting missions are highly sentient, and not at all passive. I can say with some certainty that this new growth will continue to send out roots and spread until it chokes out other native life, unless we stop it.
Tomorrow we step off on our trek to Feathermoon Stronghold. General Feathermoon has once again called our unit to begin its traditional march to the Stronghold for our inspections.
It was on the journey south one year ago that I formally put in my enlistment papers, and saw General Feathermoon as a Recruit within the Sentinel ranks. It will be quite a different experience from my first trek, I think, leading my Sisters down to the Stronghold as a Guardian and being inspected that much more thoroughly as an officer. To say that I am as nervous as I am eager to begin our trek tomorrow would not even begin to account for what I am feeling.
Thankfully, we have been preparing for weeks now, so there isn’t much to concern myself with at the moment. My bags have been packed since Commander Wintershade posted the orders to the Noticeboard, and I don’t believe I have forgotten anything I’ll need - last year was quite the enlightening experience of travelling with a unit.
Outrunner Shadowbough even held an informational meeting on the proper care of our mounts for the trek. I found some of the topics interesting, though I don’t believe I’ll be sticking my fingers in my saber’s mouth any time soon. I’ve never felt as comfortable on the back of one of the Sentinel cats as I do on my own two (or four) feet, and to make the creature carry my belongings the entire duration of the trek seems almost cruel. Not to mention, the saber assigned to me from the Sentinel stables always looks at me as if it is hungry, and I’d hate to get bit.
The one part of the trek that I wasn’t excited for (besides the meticulous scrutiny that will accompany General Feathermoon’s inspection) was the fact that we will be away from Darnassus for many weeks, and therefore far from Adalcien. He assured me, however, that he’ll be travelling with us for the majority of the trek, though some times he’ll have to attend to some business with the Circle. The Circle actually granted him his title of Shan'do again, and assigned him to work alongside the Sentinels, and more importantly our unit. I’m extremely proud of him, though it is strange to have to call him by his proper title in public. It’s only made more obnoxious by the fact he’s taken to calling me his thero'shan, if only to annoy me. I told him I’d do something to make him squirm in front of his subordinates if only I could think of something that only he would catch onto.
…that’s rather unfair, that I can feel the tips of my ears color just thinking about it. And to be plotting retaliation! I’m glad to have the trek to look forward to; even if he does come along, time with my Sisters will do me some good to clear my head.
We stepped off on the trek today, after we met in Lor'danel.
It’s always a sight to see all of our Sisters with their sabers packed and ready to go - sometimes I forget just how many are in our unit, since we all patrol at different times and might not see each other on a regular basis. Not only will this be an opportunity to show General Feathermoon how hard we’ve been training, it will be an opportunity to grow in our camaraderie.
The road itself was dull, but singing a few songs as we marched seemed to liven up many of the Sentinels. I’ll have to ask what the words were to the song that was sung; I merely was humming along, as the words went by too quick to catch.
There are still no bridges across many of the crevices plaguing Darkshore, and, just like last year, our sabers had to wade the rushing waters. Thankfully no one seemed to lose any gear to poor straps in the currents, but I know more than one probably didn’t have their belongings in waterproof saddlebags.
We also stopped by Auberdine for a small remembrance ceremony after we left our sabers at camp. Many of our Cadre lost friends or family to the devastation of the Cataclysm, and the ceremony was quiet. It was sobering, seeing the ruined houses cracked and broken and covered with vines trying to reclaim the area for nature. Certainly puts the ruins Dalci shows me in a new light; even ruins now more natural than man-made were inhabited once, by families and friends who all had lives and hopes and dreams.
Thank Elune, we couldn’t dwell too much in sadness by the time we returned to the campfire. Everyone was in good spirits, at least those who chose to socialize after visiting the ruins, laughing and talking and sharing provisions among themselves. Some even shared some songs over the fire, and their voices were quiet relaxing to hear. My only hope is that we do not allow the relaxation in camp to dull our senses and reactions for when we need them on this trek.
But thus far, I am content. I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks now, and I haven’t been disappointed yet.
We picked up camp for the second time since we left Lor'danel on our venture south. Unfortunately, there is so much to do and oversee that I don’t have much free time to sit down and scribble out my thoughts; the only writing I’ve done in the past week has been in the watch log in the center of camp.
There have been plenty of visitors in and out of our camp since our tents have been near the main road, which always leads to some…interesting characters and conversations, and more work in the long run for the officers. There is at least one stranger that I have my eye on, but not for any negative reason; she is a loner, a woman skilled with the bow who wanders as a sort of vigilante through the forests picking off the remains of the cultists who have escaped Sentinel arrows. She seems determined enough to do her part to protect Kalimdor, though I’m having some difficulty convincing her that she would be able to accomplish so much more in a group of elite warriors than she ever could alone. Once she cracks her anxiety around large groups of people, I think she’ll put in her enlistment papers. Until then, even Commander Wintershade has welcomed her to our fires, and I’ve found I enjoy the few moments I can speak freely in her company, without worrying overmuch about rank. Hmm…that would have to change should she choose to join the Cadre. I suppose we’ll cross that creek when we reach it.
We’ve camped in Orendil’s Retreat for the time being. My hopes are to return the book I borrowed on our way through for the previous trek. He has quite an extensive library on flora, and the two weeks we were in the area last year were a blessing to me. Our time in the Retreat this time is significantly shorter, so perhaps I can convince him to part with a few more texts, as long as I promise to return them in decent order. I’m sure my saber will not enjoy the extra weight - she glares at me enough as it is - but one or two extra shouldn’t effect her too much.
Camp is too quiet. Off I go to see what has everyone so occupied.
We moved camp since my last entry. Much has happened, though I haven’t found much time to sit and write; been trying to stay busy, and with all there is to do around camp, that hasn’t been too difficult (thank Elune).
We moved camp to Astranaar three days past. As always, it was strange to be back. I didn’t spend much time in town - camped outside the rivers, spent my free time running through the forests near the tents.
There was a small Horde raid on the town, though I heard the alarm bells clear enough from where I was camped outside the rivers. Keeper Maka'lo and myself were able to turn them back easily with little more than a few bruises; they appeared to be scouts, inexperienced in the art of actual combat with trained Sentinels. I set her in charge of a patrol afterwards, though a larger party from the Horde never seemed to arrive. I’m not sure of the scouts’ motives.
I did take the time to stop by the stump of my tree, one remaining tie to Astranaar. It was as I remembered from the last time - no amounts of rain could wash away the jagged edges from where the trunk split and cracked, even if it did clean the charring from the bark. Looking back on it, it was almost as if I was expecting something different, to see its branches reaching towards the sky once more.
I shouldn’t feel so disheartened over a fallen tree; where there was death, now there is life. The fungus that encroached on the trunk of the tree has flourished, and smaller sprouts have sent up shoots around and through the charred remains.
I’ll be looking forward to moving camp later towards Stardust Spire. There are too many memories of a time past here for me.
Ever since our kin have taken to celebrating such a frivolous holiday, I’ve never cared, party because I’ve never had anyone to celebrate with.
The trek has kept me busy, and to be honest, I had completely forgotten the festival after never having to plan anything in particular. Adalcien is actually the one who reminded me - he is bound and determined to shower me with praise and sweets until I am spoiled. Thus far, he’s doing a good job of it too.
We went for a walk after patrols were walked and my duties were done with for the night. There are many old ruins scattered under the treetops, long buried and many forgotten. He asked me before, when we visited some old ruins in Feralas, why I thought they mattered, though his reasoning this time was different; each of these places meant something to those who came before us, a reminder of our ancestors and where we came from. The way he said it, it was clear he wanted me to remember.
Eventually he brought me into a hollow behind the Shrine of Aessina. It was a quiet little nook, with no signs of anything but us and the forest on all sides. He told me that he wanted to make a memory, just the two of us, not overshadowed with the past deeds of our ancestors.
That is when he chose to give in to the absurd human traditions and gift me with presents. There was a box of chocolates - I’ve eaten roughly half now, and I’ve yet to find one I haven’t enjoyed - and a charm bracelet that sparkled in the moonlight.
The last present though, was the one that meant the most. He had me close my eyes as he held up a bouquet of black roses, picked from Shadowmoon, a rarity revered for their ability to stay fresh even after being cut. When I opened my eyes, he was on one knee before me, an anxious expression on his face.
“I know this, isn’t a ring, but it is a token of my love for you. These roses come from Shadowmoon, on Draenor. They’re rare, as rare as I feel our love is. Ales, my flower, my love. I desire to be with you. I desire to make memories with you, to leave our mark on this world together.”
I could never imagine living the rest of my life without him, but there he was, presenting me with his heart and the promise that he was mine for as long as I would want him. A man who has gone through so much, and yet still could find a reason to smile, to continue, who had the desire to learn and to teach and to make a difference however he was able, was asking ME to spend the rest of my days by his side.
My thoughts still seem scattered thinking about it. And apparently to the point it is noticeable; one of the Outrunners actually congratulated us when we returned to camp, and almost looked relieved that I wasn’t simply…what did she say? 'Bedrolling’ or some nonsense like that.
I need to stop writing for now - I can feel the tips of my ears heat, and the ridiculous smile across my face every time I think of him isn’t helping at all. Perhaps a patrol or a run will help clear my thoughts.
The past week we spent in the Stronghold, perfecting our drills and fixing our uniforms for inspection by General Feathermoon. It would have been relaxing, an entire week in one camp, except for the impending inspections lingering over our heads.
When we did meet General Feathermoon, she seemed content with our drills. I should leave it at that, but I could see a few of our newer Sisters hesitate when some commands were given. All these weeks marching without formal drill practice has not helped our ranks - we will need to tighten up on our formations when we return to Darnassus, so that our next meeting with the General does not leave has much to be desired.
As last year, she did present each of us with a commendation for our service. I now have another pin to attach to my tabard, a silver moon encrusted with moonstones and wreathed by golden oak leaves to signify my second trip to Feralas with the unit, in addition the silver moon I received from her hands before.
Tonight we are able to relax at the hot springs to the south of Feralas, before we take a ship back to Rut’theran Village. I can’t say I am extremely excited to be travelling by boat - after all, the last time I stepped foot on deck, I was left drenched and bleeding - though I am looking forward to being back in Darnassus. It will be a refreshing change, to sprawl out in my own bed. I even find myself thinking wistfully of walking patrols, though that might be so that I might see some familiar faces while on duty. A few more days, and we’ll be home.
Fourth Cycle, Day Eleven First Excursion for the Emerald Circle
I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting when we sent a group of our Sentinels into Felwood. The overall landscape hasn’t changed since the last visit…everything reeks of death and corruption. Even the greatest efforts from the Emerald Circle have been thwarted, and they are no closer now to finding a solution than they were when they began.
In fact, things are looking worse for the Circle. We were called to arms after a scouting party went missing to the south of Whisperwind Grove. Any others they sent to investigate also disappeared. As a last resort, they petitioned our unit of Sentinels to send aid.
We traveled north for a bit from the borders of Ashenvale (thankfully the Emerald Circle has at least prevented the spread of corruption to the healthy forests surrounding the cursed place) after a long and serious discussion of how everything in the woods was toxic. It must be said, though I can’t imagine anyone actually dipping their fingers into the disgusting green ooze that has become of the lakes and streams for a cool drink. The whole forest smells of fel demon rot, and I’m sure we all bathed furiously once we returned to clean areas. Eating anything with your stomach revolting against the stench is beyond my abilities.
Eventually we made it to the ruins of Jaedenar. The barrow dens in the area have long since become a haven for satyrs and their demon ilk, so I found it strange that a scouting party from the Circle would willingly travel into the area without some serious preparations. However, the tracks led that way, and so we followed.
We found the scouting party.
Their corpses were piled unceremoniously against one of the satyr’s foul totems and left to rot. Some were in pieces… it makes my stomach roll to even think of the atrocity. Men, women, it didn’t matter, they were all lumped together lifelessly, cut down before their time, left unburied.
There wasn’t much time to mourn for their lost souls there; shortly after we heard a call, one that wasn’t a satyr or demon. One druid survived the ordeal, was kept alive bound in one of the tents further into the camp. It’s unclear why she was spared, or what happened, because her memories were too hazy to question at the time.
We didn’t stay to wonder long; Adalcien carried her from the tent and we left as quickly as we could. Sisters stopped and collected the bodies of her fallen comrades before we left the camp They were brought back to Whisperwind Grove to be buried under the light of the Mother Moon, safe in her care far from the horrors they faced.
Nights like these make me long for the days before I became a Sentinel. A quiet corner with a book of plant life, studying, without a single care in the world. I’m already dreading sleep tonight; I believe I’ll see their broken and mangled bodies in my mind for long after we are finished assisting the Emerald Circle. I will leave the mourning to those who actually knew them, but I cannot help but feel the loss the Circle will when they realize their numbers are reduced in an already troubling time. We must find whatever is stopping their efforts quickly, hopefully before this horror can happen again.