My third Fan Fiction short story from the World of Warcraft forums:
We’ve set some pretty tough challenges for you over the previous weeks and we intend to keep them up, but we thought we’d give you a bit more freedom to create and impress us and your fellow community members. This week, we’re calling for a free skate. Write anything you like so long as it takes place within World of Warcraft. The possibilities are endless.”
Finding the Path
For what seemed like the thousandth time that day, Sala Wildmane flicked her tail to unsettle the bloodsucking bugs which had landed over her body. Though her fur did much to keep all but the most persistent creatures from achieving their goal, they still made her skin twitch in an unpleasant manner.
The mere thought of them crawling over her made her shiver, and she shook herself from head to hooves to banish the feeling. The grey fur of her main resettled down her neck and back, just as her long, heavy braids of the same color ceased to swing.
Sala took a deep breath, and her nostrils flared wide to take in the scents of the marshland around her. Traces of decay could be smelled in every breath she took, though it was stronger in certain portions of the area. They were lucky in their position, since the hot winds of Hellfire Peninsula would sometimes blow through the pass and clear out the dense air.
Though it could certainly be said that Zangarmarsh held a beauty of its own, with the clear pools, many islands, and interesting plant and animal life—it was still a marsh. The humidity in the air was heavy, and settled over Sala’s body like a burdensome, wet blanket. She rubbed a hand over her muzzle, wiping some of the sweat away, and recalling a time when she wasn’t sweating proved difficult.
Her brown eyes scanned the surrounding outpost as she looked for someone in particular. She found Ysiel, standing as she usually did on the balcony of the inn. Sala nodded as she passed the few who were stationed here, fellow Cenarion Expedition personnel as well as Druids.
As Ysiel saw Sala approach, she watched the Night Elf take a deep breath as though to gather her patience.
“Sala, how are you this day?” Ysiel asked, and her voice betrayed no hint of any frustration she may have toward the young Tauren.
“Good day, Ysiel, I am well; and you?” Sala replied. Though Sala was frustrated with her current status, her mother had taught her better than to be rude to others.
“The swamp continues to have problems that must be remedied, but that is my burden as the expedition leader,” Ysiel said, concerned. “The Naga have done much to damage the area, and it must be set to rights if balance is to be preserved.”
Sala knew that some adventurers had come through the area not long before she had been stationed here, and defeated the Naga infesting Serpent Lake. They’d been draining Zangarmarsh dry, and though the Coilfang Reserve had been shut down, there were still problems with the remnants of the Naga machinery.
Sala had been thoroughly disappointed to find most of the work already done before she’d arrived in Zangarmarsh, and couldn’t fathom why she’d been stationed there. All because I’m a new druid, she thought bitterly, new druids always get the worst assignments.
As though reading her thoughts, Ysiel chuckled. “I know you are eager for more action than can be offered, but you are still new to being a Druid. You must take the time to find what path is best for you,” Ysiel said, sagely.
Sala sighed in frustration, but nodded glumly. “As you say, Ysiel.”
Just as Sala was turning to leave, a speck in the sky appeared, and grew larger as the two looked on. It was a Druid in flight form, speeding right toward them.
Ysiel’s visage grew worried as she watched the Druid backwing, just in time to ensure he didn’t crash into them.
“Ysiel, we’re have a problem at the Reservoir,” the young Night Elf gushed, out of breath. Sala could not recall his name, but she’d never had a knack for such things.
“Slow down, Shonrus, what is the problem?” Ysiel said.
Shonrus took a deep breath. “We were preparing to breakdown some of the Reservoir when a Naga party attacked,” he said, voice desperate.
“How many?” Ysiel asked, and grim determination replaced her earlier worry.
“At least twenty,” he said, still slightly out of breath. Ysiel nodded. Sala recalled only five Druids, including Shonrus, were on this mission.
“Go and gather five of the Guardians to take back with you,” she said to Shonrus, and then turned to Sala. “You are to accompany his as well, but use caution—I would hate to lose you to death before such stubbornness and determination could be put to good use,” Ysiel said, and amusement flickered across her features.
Despite the situation, Sala could not help but grin. Without even a backward glance, or word of parting, Sala jumped from the balcony and took off to find Shonrus. The thud of her hooves muffled by the soft ground as the shock from the jump reverberated up her legs. She shook off the pain and ran.
Sala found him on the edge of Refuge, and the seven of them took to the sky toward the Reservoir. The movement of the wind across her feathers made for a welcome respite from the heat, and the air grew less humid as they rose above the tall, tree-like mushrooms of the marsh.
They flew as though the Burning Legion were behind them, though it still seemed an eternity before they came to the lake. As the six followed Shonrus in his descent, the sounds of battle echoed across the waters.
Sala’s heart stopped for a moment, and then picked up speed once again when she caught sight of the Druids and Naga below. The one Druid in bear form was at the forefront, dodging tridents of the male Nagas, trying to keep them occupied. Meanwhile the two cat Druids darted and dodged the spells of the female, spellcasting Nagas, and they used their claws to try and rip open the tough scales that covered their bodies.
The only disadvantage the Naga had with their numbers, was that it was impossible to have more than three of them surrounding a particular Druid at a time. Still, if one Naga became tired, he was simply replaced with another, fresher one, spoiling for a fight.
In all the commotion, one Druid remained at the back, and dodged as many of the Naga as possible as she healed her fellow Druids. The female Night Elf’s dusky purple skin was slick with sweat, and her long green eyebrows were furrowed in concentration. Her movements and dodges were fluid, like watching water avoid the obstacles around it. She mumbled the healing spells, as she became more and more out of breath, and her hands fairly flew in their needed motions to complete the spellcasting.
Sala looked down on the scene, all the injuries and pain, and realized she had been foolish to wish for such a thing. The bluish-green light the plants of the marsh naturally gave off gave an eerie glow to the scene, and made the blood spilled across the ground look darker than it was. Sala could not take her eyes off the gore pooled on the ground, from both Druids and Nagas, and she felt a fierce determination well up from somewhere inside her.
A scream tore from her throat, and came out as the high-pitched screech of her bird form. It distracted some of the Naga on the ground, and made them look up toward her. She dive-bombed the Naga surrounding the healing Druid, and they scattered momentarily—long enough for the Night Elf to catch a short break.
Sala let her bird form flow from her body, like shedding a familiar coat. She knew only the most rudimentary of healing spells, but she would do her best to help ease the Night Elf’s burden.
“My thanks, Sister,” the Night Elf said, and continued her casting.
Sala began casting as well, and though she did not have the finesse of movement or casting of the more experienced Druid next to her, she was certainly more a help than a hindrance.
Shonrus and the Guardians joined in the battle, and the Nagas who remained soon realized that though they were not outnumbered, they were certainly outclassed. It wasn’t long before they beat a hasty retreat, and slithered down into the waters of the lake.
A cheer went up from the group of Druids, and Sala joined in; though it surely sounded exhausted. She helped the Night Elf healer, who was called Amailaeth, treat the wounds of their companions. Sala listened closely as the Amailaeth began to teach her a deeper understanding of the healing ways.
After a short rest, as Ysiel likely awaited their return, the group flew back to the Refuge. Ysiel was at her usual spot on the balcony, and Shonrus recounted what had happened for her.
“It gladdens me to see all of you return not too much worse for the wear,” Ysiel said wryly, and all the group gave a tired laugh. “Go now, and rest. We will come up with a better plan for the Reservoir on the morrow.”
The Druids nodded and filed out; headed toward their quarters for some much needed sleep.
As Sala also turned to leave, Ysiel stopped her. “I hear you may have found a path that suits you?” she inquired, a pleased smile on her face. Sala returned the happiness with her own grin, and nodded.
“I did indeed—I want to be a healer and help our allies live to bring balance back to this war-torn world,” Sala said, as her mind filled with satisfaction and her heart with determination.
Ysiel nodded, and after a moment’s hesitation gave the young Tauren a hug.
“I guess the marsh is not so dreadful, after all,” Sala said, and broke the embrace.
“Not truly, though just between you and me: I cannot stand the bugs,” Ysiel said, and sounded somewhat exasperated.
Sala could only laugh as she said goodbye and headed off toward bed, her newly found path blazing brightly ahead of her.