Theronil Whitemorn would be the first to admit that it had been years since he had done any sort of field work, much less camping. He wasn’t about to say it out loud, but after having slept on hay for the past week, he wasn’t so excited about camping on the ground. He did plan to bring an extra bedroll. Hopefully the extra padding would be enough.
He was not at ease about taking this trip. So many people would say he couldn’t. Or that he shouldn’t. He wasn’t doing it just to prove them wrong, but he couldn’t deny that it did play some part in it. He had missed the comforts of home, and almost mentioned waiting a few days, or weeks. Each time he looked at Isandri to suggest waiting, he changed his mind. She wanted to go to Darkshore to camp with him.
He was going to make it happen.
And so he found himself leaving Isandri with the long shelves full of books of epic stories while he went to find a mage to make arrangements for a portal to Darkshore and back. He hoped he could find a good camping spot during the short time he would be gone. He had briefly considered leaving Arelanis with Isandri, but he would need the dragonhawk if he intended to scout by air. He certainly wasn’t too keen to scout by foot, and taking a hawkstrider would not be very subtle… Not that a large orange dragonhawk was either, but Arelanis could fly away with him if there was any trouble. Besides, Arelanis wasn’t allowed too far into the library. Isandri would be safe while she looked at the books, and Theronil would be safer with the dragonhawk in Darkshore.
He had originally hoped to find one of the Highborne in the library, thinking that they might know the area better, but had to settle for a sin’dorei mage who knew the area around Zoram’gar Outpost well enough to put him just outside of it. The mage agreed to make another portal in a few hours in the same place so that he could get back. Darkshore would be just to the north.
Theronil stepped through the portal onto a small sandy island just off the shore. To the south, the orcish outpost marred the landscape. He climbed onto Arelanis’s back and urged her to fly north.
Arelanis chittered excitedly as they passed over some old ruins. It had been ages since she had been on an outing such as this. The tournament grounds and Eversong hardly counted. Although she was not a riding dragonhawk, she had grown big enough to carry Theronil, and had done so on occasion before. They passed a rocky slope that tumbled away into the sea. Arelanis stayed low along the beach as they entered Darkshore. The devastation brought by the cataclysm was evident here. Trees rested in the ground at an angle and with their roots bared. Large rifts had formed and split the beach in two in some places.
“Higher.” He whispered to the dragonhawk, “Stay close to the trees.”
Arelanis obeyed. He was certain she didn’t always understand, but she seemed to pay attention when it was most important.
Although a mist was present, a thin outline of Teldrassil loomed to the north, even from this distance. They passed over some charred ground. Theronil could make out the shapes of other things in the mists ahead. Buildings. “Slow. Stay close to the trees.”
Arelanis slowed and moved to the tops of the trees, weaving deftly around them as they approached what looked to be a town. As they neared, Theronil could make out the broken dock, and most of the buildings looked to be at impossible angles. Some of them were burned, a few others were slanted halfway into the water. “Auberdine.” He said out loud. He had read about it, but seeing it was different from just reading about it. “Lower.”
The dragonhawk swooped down between the buildings. A large rift broke the town in half. Theronil noticed the moonwell was untouched. Suddenly, Arelanis flew up, beating her wings quickly. He held tight. “What…” An arrow flew by them. He turned to see a female kaldorei nocking another arrow and taking aim. “Go!”
Arelanis picked up her pace now that she knew her master was aware of the situation. In the old days, he would have held onto the dragonhawk with his legs while nocking his own arrow to return fire while fleeing. Now he just held on. He directed the dragonhawk inland upon seeing the silhouette of another town on the horizon. He certainly didn’t want to be shot at again. “Slow.” He said as they reached the hills that lead upwards to Felwood. Certainly, they were out of range now.
A cave opening halfway up the steep slope caught his eye. He pointed, making sure Arelanis saw. “There.” The dragonhawk slowed to a gentle hover just outside the cave. Theronil started to dismount to look around when sounds inside the cave caught his attention. He didn’t need to check any further judging by the echoes of pleasure coming from the cave mouth. He climbed back on Arelanis’s back. “This spot’s taken.” He whispered to her.
He urged her to continue along the trees on the hill. They passed over an area where trolls and kaldorei were fighting, deeper into the hills of northern Darkshore. Finally he found a spot. No one else seemed to be there. Arelanis slowed and he dismounted.
The previous night, she had said she did in fact like him, and that dress. He had a hard time taking his eyes off that dress. He hoped he hadn’t stared too much. He was glad he was going to camp with her. Did she pack that dress? No one else would be looking here. He looked around at the spot. It would be perfect.
He hoped that Isandri remembered to look for the plant book. He hopped back on Arelanis’s back and began to make his way south again. He couldn’t wait to tell Isandri about the place he had found.