Monday, November 30, 2009

Alanon: Hyjal

I've been wanting to write something about Alanon for days now, but couldn't think of any ideas. Then yesterday at work, Inspiration Struck. So here you go, a story from Alanon's past. Enjoy!

(Massive Wall of Text Warning!!)

Alanon was watching for them to come, but the horn calls still surprised him. He quickly moved through the healers' camp, to the edge where he could see. The Second Unit of the Night Elves' elite scouts rode past at a fast walk, mounts still dancing despite the hard journey. Alanon scanned faces as they went by, finally finding the two he sought. Jaryla kept her face forward, posture ramrod straight, though she did smile briefly at him as she went by. Indria, on the other hand, broke into a huge grin and waved when she saw him. He hid his own grin, waving back quickly before she was reprimanded by the squad's commander. Jaryla rolled her eyes at her daughter, then they were past and out of sight. He returned to the healers' tents.

They found him there shortly before dusk. His only warning was a whoop of delight, then Indria had him wrapped in an exuberant hug. He hugged her back, chuckling, as Jaryla came up. "Alright, Ria. I'm an old man, don't break me." She snorted at him. "You're not that old, Father," she teased back. "Is Quae around here somewhere?" "Yes," he answered. "And Pitch and Jahira are with the local scouts. Kel is.... well, I don't know. Probably wherever Dracoth is." "I'm gonna go find Quae then," she said, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek before she ran off. Alanon chuckled again, then turned to his lifelong best friend. "Ryla," he said in greeting. "How have you been?" "Same as usual," she replied. "You're looking good. Are you seeing anyone currently? I can never remember." His face clouded briefly. "No, no one since..." "Yes, her," she said darkly. He grabbed her arm. "Ryla, it's past. Don't start up again, please." She regarded him for a moment. "If that's what you want, Alanon. Hey, if you don't have plans, why don't you stop by for supper?" She looked him up and down, then winked. "And maybe for the night?" He laughed. "I'd be happy to."

* * * * * *

Jaryla's cooking was infinitely preferable to anything to be found in the healers' camp. After supper Indria excused herself, leaving her parents alone. The two Elves sat on a hillside, looking at the bustle all around. "Look at that," Alanon said softly. "Who'd have thought we would be allied with humans, let alone the races of the Horde?" Jaryla snorted. "It's necessary to defeat the Legion. I don't believe it will last one week past the end of this battle, whether we win or lose." He looked at her sharply, but let it drop, saying instead, "It's good to see you again. I've missed both of you." She smiled at him. "We've been busy, otherwise we'd visit more often. Ria misses her father a lot." "You wouldn't know it from the way she keeps running off," he chuckled. "I've seen her for all of an hour total so far." Jaryla grinned at him. "She'll settle down. You'll probably be tired of her by tomorrow's end." "Not likely," he answered softly. They sat in companionable silence for several minutes, then Jaryla took his hand and tugged. "It's getting late, and I'd like some sleep before daybreak," she said. He let her pull him to his feet, then followed her back to her tent.

They were both gone by the time he woke the next morning. Probably receiving their assignments. He dressed quickly, then returned to the healers' camp. Quae met him at his own tent, eyebrow arched and a knowing grin on her face. He ignored her and ducked inside, then looked around the tent. His cot was against one wall, with his travel chest at the foot. The rest of the tent was crowded with rolls of bandages, pots filled with salves or steeping herbs, crates packed with bottles or jars, and the like. Bunches of herbs, both dried and fresh, hung from the ceiling poles, giving the tent an interesting fragrance. Quae had followed him in, and stood looking around as well. "Do you think you have enough supplies here, brother?" she asked. He paid no attention to the sarcasm, and she sighed in frustration. "I have my things ready," she told him. "Elune will give me most of what I need, anyway." He glanced at her with a raised eyebrow. "And what if someone needs an elixir or ointment you don't have?" She grinned cheekily at him. "Then I'll just send them to you." He rolled his eyes and gave up.

Indria did find him later that morning. She followed him around for a good while, chattering constantly, and he tried to hide his grin at her enthusiasm. Finally Jaryla came to collect her daughter. "We need to go start our patrol, so we're familiar with it before the demons get here. Go get your gear together and your saber saddled." As Indria rushed off, Jaryla stood beside Alanon for a bit, taking in all the healers' preparations. "The demons have been sighted," she told him. "They're no more than two or three days off. Elune send that we won't need all this, though my gut tells me different." Alanon paused to look at her. "Where will you be patrolling?" he asked. "The back side of the mountain," she replied. "East. Not a terribly difficult route, but seems the most likely for a flanking attempt. If the demons think that far ahead." "Don't underestimate them," Alanon warned. "They can be tricky enough. Just look at what they did back in the First War." She shook her head. "I won't, Alanon. It just makes it... easier." She watched him for awhile as he packed up boxes of bandages, ready to be taken out to the field. "We should just make it back by dark," she finally said. "Want to swing by for supper again?" He nodded without stopping his work, and she left him, heading to her duty.

The following two days passed in a blur of activity, as all aspects of the army prepared for the coming demons. By the end of the second day, Alanon had run out of things to do. Pitch stopped by at sundown, the younger druid having grown bored sitting about the camp, and Alanon started a wrestling match with him just for something to do. The other healers stopped and watched the two cats, one jet-black, the other a dark smoky gray, as they tumbled around the tents. Their play was interrupted by horn calls, and the entire camp seemed to go on alert, staring as a whole at the hill where the call originated. "Demons in view!" called the sentry. "The Legion's coming!" The camp burst into motion all at once. The two druids looked at each other, then both went to their respective posts.

Alanon hardly slept that night. He kept getting up to make sure all was ready: splints and bandages, potions and elixirs, the dried herbs ready to be made into teas. And the potions of dreamfoil, for when nothing else could be done. He tried not to look at them any more than necessary. At last he fell into an uneasy sleep, filled with dreams he couldn't remember.

* * * * * *

The demons attacked just before dawn. The sounds woke Alanon, and he tumbled from his cot in a rush, dressing as quickly as he could and heading outside. The first wounded arrived shortly after, and he set to work with the others. He tried to use his healing spells as little as possible to save his energy, knowing it would be a long day. The most lightly wounded, however, he did heal with magic, so they could get back into the fray quickly. The day stretched on forever, and he wound up working far into the night, until at last he collapsed into his cot. He briefly wondered how his siblings were faring before he fell into exhausted sleep.

The next day was a repeat of the first, at least until Jaryla found him. He finished with the soldier he was treating, then turned and gave her a long hug before pulling back and looking at her. She looked as exhausted as he felt, her armor dusty and dinged in places. "How are things going out there?" he asked her quietly. "We're holding them, but barely," she replied. "Alanon... it's not just demons. They have undead, Scourge, in their ranks as well. And their cursed necromancers are raising our own dead against us, Elune blast them." She sighed and shook her head. "All we have to do is hold them back until Malfurion does whatever he's supposed to do, but I'm starting to wonder how long we'll last." He frowned worriedly. "Have you seen the others anywhere?" "I saw Kel at one point, sniping away with her pet bear." "Bear?... Oh, Dracoth. Any of the rest?" She shook her head. "I'm sorry, Alanon, but I'm sure they're okay," she said comfortingly. "I need to get back now, Indria and the others need me." He nodded, then with a final hug he let her go, watching her move off through the bustle. Soon he was distracted by another wave of wounded arriving, and he set back to work.

Pitch came in later that afternoon, to get a large cut on his arm looked at. As Alanon mended the bloody gash, then wrapped a bandage around it for protection, the younger druid told him what he knew. "They're pressing us from all sides. I don't think we can hold them much longer, but we can fall back if we have to- regroup on the slopes. Jahira's been with me, she's fine, and I've seen Kel a few times." Alanon nodded as he finished with his brother's arm. "Be careful, little brother. We don't know what they are planning." Pitch nodded absently, then headed back to the front.

The demons did break through soon after that, and the allied armies fell back to their second point of defense. More wounded came pouring in, a few of them requiring Alanon's dreamfoil potions. He tried to distance himself as he gave the potions, watching them fall into a sleep they would never wake from. But often he would imagine the soldier was someone he knew.

The third day was even bloodier than the previous two. The Legion pushed through again, and the Alliance and Horde armies fell back to the third point. Now they were almost at Nordrassil's base. Alanon could hear the fighting, could see it if he went to the edge of the camp, but he tried to push it from his mind. Then the runner came.

"They attacked from the east side, behind us," he told the others gathered around him quickly. "Big group. We're holding them off best we can, but Light send Malfurion is ready soon." With that the human clapped his helmet back on and continued on to the general's camps. Alanon stared after him, then looked toward the far eastern mountain slopes. Jaryla, Indria, how are you faring? he wondered. But duty soon called again, and he was left with no time for worry.

Another runner came in the early afternoon, and called them together. "We need volunteers to go to the front lines," he said. "Our numbers are growing too thin. If we don't hold them off here, we'll have no need for healers anyway." Alanon looked around as people started shuffling forward. He spotted Quae near the back, and she caught his eye, then slowly nodded. He nodded back, then stepped forward himself.

* * * * * *

The battle was hectic. Demons of all types, with Scourge filling in the gaps, were pressing forward relentlessly. Alanon, in his bear form, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the others, supporting and holding the line. He shifted out and cast his healing spells whenever he could, to aid the others as much as possible. Soon he was joined by a smaller white bear and a black panther. He spared a brief nod to his brother and sister, then focused back on the fray.

The horn sounded just before sundown. The battle paused, and Alanon watched with the rest as Hyjal's wisps all descended on Archimonde, then detonated. The explosion shook the entire mountain. Then, at last, it was over. He looked to Pitch and Jahira, then the three druids started moving among the nearby fallen, to give what aid they could. Jahira and Alanon cast their healing spells, while Pitch helped to move some of the bodies. They worked until it was too dark to see, then gave it over to the healer squads that began moving through with torches.

The druids all returned to Alanon's tent. Kel and Dracoth stopped by to check on them, and Alanon was relieved to see his older sister and his friend were okay. They sat around a small campfire, talking together wearily. "Alanon," Quae asked him, "have you heard from Jaryla or Indria yet?" "No," he said softly, worry creasing his forehead. His younger sister reached over and took his hand. "They're tough," she said comfortingly. "I'm sure they made it all right." But doubt showed on her face, mirrored on his own.

A runner came the next morning. Alanon's siblings had stayed to help the healers; even Kel wrapped bandages with them. Alanon paused what he was doing and called the Night Elf over. "Have you heard anything from the Second Unit scouts?" The Elf looked at him carefully. "The attack from the eastern side," he finally answered, "almost overwhelmed us. We're not completely sure yet, but it doesn't look good." After the man left, Alanon went out to the edge of the camp and just stood, staring out toward the eastern slopes. Quae came up behind him, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Don't give up hope yet. Maybe they'll turn up tomorrow," she told him. Alanon replied softly, "Ryla never did like it when I worried. She knew I wouldn't rest until I knew they were safe." Quae couldn't think of an answer to that. She just stood by him, offering what comfort she could. At last Alanon turned back to the camp and returned to his work.

It was confirmed the following day. Groups had been dispatched to clean up any remaining enemies and look for survivors. The group sent to the eastern side came upon where the Second Unit had made their stand. It looked like they had given an excellent account for themselves, but the demons had proved too much. There were no survivors.

When Alanon heard the news, he left the camp, walking toward Nordrassil. He stopped at the base of the great Tree and stood there, shoulders shaking. Jahira, Quae and Pitch found him there. Jahira and Quae looked at each other helplessly, but Pitch went to his brother and sat next to him, sticking his nose into Alanon's hand. After a moment, the hand moved to his back, gripping the longer fur there tightly as the druid-cat whined softly.

* * * * * *

Quae found Alanon the next morning at daybreak, sitting on a fallen log. The morning was quiet, most of the army having left long before. Only the wounded were left, and they were setting out too, as soon as they were well enough to travel. Quae sat down next to her brother, glancing up at him. He stared straight ahead, not moving, but she knew he was aware of her. His face still looked haggard, though his eyes were clear. She cleared her throat.

"Alanon, are you alright?" He didn't answer at first. She waited patiently. Finally he broke the silence. "I still see them, when I close my eyes. It's hard to believe that they're gone," he said softly, his voice just above a whisper. Quae took his hand. "We all miss them, Alanon. But it'll be okay." "I know," he replied. "It's just... I've known her forever, you know. We grew up together. I never thought that she would be gone." He cleared his own throat roughly. "And Indria, oh gods. Her life was still just beginning." He stopped, swallowing hard.

Quae squeezed his hand gently, then sat quietly, looking around. The damage from the battle was apparent even here, but several groups were staying behind, to clear up and see what help they could give the World Tree. After several minutes she spoke again. "I'm coming home with you guys," she said. "To Ashenvale." He eyed her. "I can't imagine our parents would agree to that, to say nothing of the Temple." "Oh, they didn't like it. But I'm old enough to start making my own decisions. As to the Temple, well, they don't control me whatever they might think. It's not like I'm moving too far away to continue my training; if anything, you all are closer." Alanon grunted.

They sat together until the sun was well up, then returned to his tent. Kel and Dracoth were saying their goodbyes as they arrived, and after they left the others began packing up. Alanon left most of his herbal supplies for the healers staying behind; he could always replace them. Soon enough they were ready to go, and the druids and priestess all headed toward home.

I'm working on another for Alanon, and have a Shaurria story almost finished. Love it when my writer's block goes away. Til next time, Happy Hunting!

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