The weather was good—for the time of year and the location. That is to say, it was merely overcast with intermittent drizzle, rather than constant rain with a bit of deluge for variety. It was also warmer than usual that far north, even in the waters of Lordamere Lake, at least above the thermocline. Even so, Jendria was glad that the same shadow magics that let her extract breath from the water also insulated her from the cold. The transformed sin'dorei had been watching the fields throughout the morning, noting the patterns of the peasants and the routines of their overseers. Finally satisfied that she had seen enough, and worried that a noon-time break might change things, she called the swimming sayaad back to her side.
'That one.' Dree pointed, just under the water's surface.
This close to her mistress, Dislia didn't need to look, though she did anyway. 'I see her.'
'As you needn't be seen, my dear, please go talk to her. Let her know that her sister has sent for her, and that help in rejoining her is at hand, mm?'
The succubus nodded even as her form shimmered out of view, barely leaving even a hole in the water as she propelled herself shoreward with beats of her wings. She stood in the reeds at the water's edge for a bit to drip and shake herself dry enough to avoid leaving too obvious a trail, then picked her way toward the end of the row of vegetables where their target was gathering. A quiet whisper, 'Hsst! Karelita!'
The drably clothed woman looked about nervously, nearly dropping her basket. An even more nervous glance back toward the overseers, and she returned to her gathering, looking toward the whisper without turning her head again. 'Who's there? Where are you?'
'Showing myself just now might not be wise.' A soft giggle. 'Entertaining, perhaps, but not wise. Mistress desires subtlety—and rightly so. I'm—well, call me Dis, and Mistress will want you to call her Dree. Your sister Karella asked us to bring you to her in Stormind.'
Karelita once again struggled to avoid dropping her basket, and covered her surprise with coughing for the benefit of the overseer she had to assume was watching her. 'Karella's alive? In Stormwind? They told us she died!'
'They would, now wouldn't they? Can't have the peasants getting the idea that escape is possible, after all! No, Mistress took her to Stormwind after rescuing her from whatever thug it was that was going to assault her.' An unseen pout, and a more petulant tone. 'And I missed the fun of it!' A soft sigh that almost could have been the breeze, and the tone changed again, coaxing now in a way that tickled the emotions. 'You do want to get away from here and join her, don't you?'
The woman just stopped herself from nodding. 'Of course! How? When?' She kept gathering, moving further along the row.
'As Mistress wants it done with minimum of bloodshed, hrm. Tell me, can you slip out at night? Really, the when is up to you, I think, and your opportunities.'
'I'll be expected to dump the slops after dinner. That will get me outside, not watched, though only for maybe half a candle-mark at most. Is that enough? Is leaving at night really going to work?'
A soft, indulgent chuckle. 'Oh, yes, that will do nicely. And it will be safe for you and us no matter how well they track us. With what I've seen of them, I hope they do manage to track us! Alas, that's not likely.'
'How will I know when to leave? I mean, how will I—oh. Like this, I suppose, with a voice I can't see?'
'Indeed, lovey! Fear not! We'll take good care of you! See you tonight!' A hint of breeze and a small disturbance in the grass, and the invisible visitor was gone.
By the time the day's work was over, dinner served and finished and she was being sent out with the slops, Karelita had nearly convinced herself that she'd been hallucinating in the fields. Dislia's quiet hiss nearly made her drop her load in surprise. 'Oh! You are here!'
'Of course, deary! The animals haven't seen you yet, have they?'
A shake of honey-blonde hair. 'No, or they'd be raising a ruckus.'
'Then set that down, lovey, and come with me!' That coaxing tone again, that wound underneath her conscious mind, making the human want to trust the sayaad's voice. 'Take my hand—never mind that it's strange to you. We'll take good care of you, just as I promised you!'
Numbly, the woman set down her tub and started toward the voice, reaching out her hand. The scaled fingers that met hers surprised her, but not enough to break the charm of the sayaad's voice. She followed as she was tugged, hitching up her skirts with her free hand and trotting along. As the light from the manse diminished, she saw a rising figure ahead, a slim robed and hooded figure that couldn't be a warrior.
A welcoming flash of white teeth and a small friendly wave from the willowy faux human. 'Good evening, Karelita. I do hope dear Dis didn't tease you too much?' She held out her hand to shake. 'I'm Dree, and I'll be your guide.'
An answering smile from the larger woman. 'No, she didn't tease me at all! And—you can really take me to Karella?'
A nod with a warm smile answered the timorous query. 'Indeed. Rather more easily than I first got her free, even. Shall we be off, before there's any pursuit?' Barely waiting for her charge's nervous answering nod, Jendria turned and started walking. 'Zhar'gore, please watch our trail. Dis—no, I won't do that to you. Kreephom, take point. Rupgup, watch right. Chinilkorill, watch left. Let's try not to make any large messes, mm? Not that these thugs don't deserve it—but their downtrodden people would be worse off for it, more's the pity.'
Karelita was nearly shocked out of her entranced calm when she saw the results of Dree's commands—the shadows of the night taking heaving shape and following as rear-guard, a felhound leaping silently up out of the tall grass and bounding ahead, and the flanks taken up by what had been a similarly hidden imp and a felguard now hefting an axe bigger than she was. Was she being handed over to the Argus Wake? And yet, even what rumours of that organisation that had reached her didn't match the appearance or demeanour of her guide. Her mind kept refusing to focus on the nature of her invisble compantion, or the scaled hand she was holding, instead taking comfort in that continued presence as she followed the robed figure through the night.
The group hunkered down once, and took several changes of direction through the night, in response to no signs that Karelita could see. Her steps were faltering when Dree called a temporary halt.
'I'm sorry, you haven't had our advantage of rest for this journey. You will probably get rather more nervous about our company as soon as Dis lets go of your hand, but I think it's time. This is not that good a place to camp—and you'll be better off on your first gryphon ride if you're exhausted. It will be a long flight.'
Karelita blinked numbly at her, and started to shiver a bit as Dislia's talons slipped free of her grasp. 'G-gryphon ride? Flight? B-but....'
A quick smile. 'My treat. I think you'll like it. Certainly, you'll find it better than weeks of skulking through the wilderness. But for now, I'm afraid you'll need to let Chinilkorill carry you, so that we can keep making progress. Can you do that?'
The Alterac native nodded fearfully, suddenly not trusting her voice. Yet, after coming so far past whatever perils had caused their detours and the one previous stop, what choice did she have? She clung to the felguard's massive shoulder as he lifted her, seemingly without effort, cradling her in his right arm, while his left continued to hold that massive axe.
As the group started moving again, Dree smiled up at her charge. 'Given the holding you're from, you have to be more nervous than many would be. I assure you, though, I am taking you to your sister, who is waiting for us in Stormwind. This despite the fact that we'll be skirting past Stahnbrad. I'm sorry for that—it can't really be helped. The mountains aren't passable until the pass up ahead.'
'We need to pick up the pace if we're to avoid passing by that place in daylight.'
A nod, and a few harsh, gutteral words of summoning, and Dree was suddenly on the back of a fiery apparition that was almost a horse. Somehow, it was almost more disturbing to Karelita that the fire wasn't consuming anything—especially not Dree's robes. The demon-horse took off, and the other demons somehow kept pace, even the one burdened with her.
The loping pace and eerie quiet lulled the woman to sleep despite herself, and she awoke with a start as the pace slowed a bit. The pale light of false dawn was in the sky as the group slipped along the edge of the escarpment, swinging wide of Stahnbrad as promised. Turning north into the pass, they made their way past signs warning of the plaguelands. A graveyard came into view on the right, and Dree called a halt, sliding off her steed, and dismissing it with a soft whooshing pop.
'Sadly, they won't allow even poor Dis to ride the gryphons. It's not far to the Argent Dawn camp, though. Are you awake enough again to walk a bit, lass?' The felguard gently set the woman down as his mistress spoke.
Taking stock of herself, Karelita nodded. 'Yes, Dree.' She rubbed her arms, more from nervousness than cold. She walked along with her... "guide", as she'd styled herself. And yet, despite her fears, she found it hard to argue the point, given that they were leaving the Syndicate lands, and she could see a camp ahead as they walked. 'From here, we... fly? To Stormwind?'
'To Ironforge. I'll get you a cloak here before we fly, but it will still be cold, so we'll only fly that far. There's a conveyance—they call it a tram—from there to Stormwind. Much warmer.'
She nodded her acceptance. 'Ah.' She had no better idea how to respond to that, having no idea what she was in for—only that she was finally believing again that this was a rescue, and that she really was being taken to her sister.
The demons faded into the shadows as they walked, unseen by Karelita, and she was surprised at how easily they walked into the military camp until she looked for them. Some of the soldiers seemed to recognise Dree, which raised the human's spirits. The price of the cloak and coat for her briefly appalled her, until she was shocked even more at the cost of the flights.
The deals were made too swiftly for her to object. She soon found herself on the back of a great, winged beast, borne aloft by its powerful leap and the beats of its wings, following right on the tail of the one bearing Dree, who kept looking back and smiling encouragement at her. She started to get dizzy from looking down, until Dree called out to her, 'Look ahead! Not down! Not until you're settled again, anyway!' She nodded, complying, and subsequently limiting her watching of the landscape below. She even found herself nodding off some again, lulled by the rhythmic rocking in the sun as they moved southward, though she woke again as they started gaining altitude to enter Dun Morogh.
'It will be a bit colder here, but we're almost to Ironforge! Tuck that cloak in around you and hold on!'
Wrapping herself up again, Karelita watched the higher peaks come into view with the rowing of the gryphon's wings, and marvelled at its strength and the speed of their flight—and tried not to think too much about all that snow and ice below. After wheeling over the peaks and circling back around, she gasped as she saw the massive gates in the side of the mountain. She closed her eyes and held on tight as the gryphons flew in through the tunnels in the rock cut out for them, and opened her eyes wide again in amazement as the warmth hit her, watching as they landed at the perches in the Great Forge.
The Alterac woman needed the help of the flight master to dismount, and wobbled briefly until Jendria took hold of her to steady her. 'Mm. I see that your adventures have taken their toll on you. I can't deliver you to your sister in this condition! There's a fine pub just across the way, here. Let's get you something to eat and drink, and a firmer seat that's not moving.'
Karelita nodded, the rumbling in her stomach coming unbidden at the mention of food. 'Ah. Yes, please.' She followed Dree across the bustling avenue into the pub, and gratefully tucked into the food placed before her, not even listening to what it was called. There was something spicy and sausage-like, and a soup, and bread of a sort, and she was beyond caring about more, devouring more than she'd expected she could. As she finally decided she was done, she looked up surprised to see that her guide was returning, and hadn't been there the whole time.
'Mm. Good to see that the fare seems to have agreed with you so well.' A warm smile and a musical chuckle accompanied the comment.
Karelita felt her face becoming hot as she blushed. 'Ah. Um. Yes, it was very good.'
The willowy white-blonde woman laughed, smiling brightly. 'I should hope so! The finest cooking school in Ironforge, and possibly in all the Alliance, is just above and beside us! Oh, you'll find fancier things in Stormind or probably also in the other major cities, indeed. Nothing better than here, though, I think.' The dwarven proprietors beamed happily as they overheard the praise, and even more at the tip as Dree settled the bill.
'I see you trying to hide that yawn, young lady!' Karelita blushed a little again. 'You can sleep on the tram, though. It's not far, and Dis will help me keep you from falling off, don't worry.'
'Dis? But didn't you have to leave her behind up north?'
A soft chuckle and a smile. 'Yes, but where I am, she can be if I call for her, which I did. That's why I was away for a bit.'
Nodding, Karelita stood to follow the other woman's lead again. 'Oh. I... I should have known that.'
White-blonde curls danced with a shake of Dree's head. 'As though you're used to thinking of such things? It was a perfectly reasonable question. This way now, around through here. The tram runs all the time, by the way. If you were more awake... well, you're not, so you'll have to take the grand tour another time. You'll want to, though!'
Amazed at what she saw in following her guide to the tram, Karelita could only nod in stunned agreement, though the tunnel down into the tram did give her a bit of nervous pause.
'Mm? Oh, you're not used to tunnels and such—I'm sorry. Dis, would you please help her out a bit?'
The woman started a bit as the sayaad's disembodied voice answered, working its magic on her again. 'Of course, Mistress. Come along now, lovey, it's not far, and we're with you. Don't worry—you're on your way to your sister now! Just this ride, and we'll be in Stormwind before you know it.'
The woman's eyes open wide as she sees the Deeprun Tram, and Dis keeps ahold of her to help keep her charmed without arousing suspicion. Karelita is surprised to find that the rocking motion of the rail-car does put her to sleep again, resting on the sayaad's still unseen shoulder.
The clashing sounds of the stopping rail-cars ahead of them awakens the woman with a start, and she blinks herself to awareness as she realises the significance. Stormind City at last! She looks over to see her guide smiling at her, and then past her.
'Dislia, please find Karella and let her know we've arrived? Zhar'gore can give you the pattern you need.'
'Of course, Mistress.' The clicking of invisible hooves across the metal and then the stone marks her departure as Dree escorts Karelita off the tram and up the tunnel.
'Careful—it's rather smokey and such in this district. I'm afraid Stormwind isn't as well ventilated as Ironforge, despite not being inside a mountain.' A wry smile makes Karelita wonder whether her guide is being serious—until they emerge into the Dwarven District, and she finds out for herself. 'It gets better sooner this way—which, fortunately, is the way we should take anyway.'
Nodding, the woman follows her smaller guide, craning her neck about and looking at things as they pass in wonder, until they reach the canals and start crossing the bridge to the Old Quarter. She gasps as a turn of her head takes in the palace, and stops in her tracks. She stares, amazed, until a shriek and being nearly tackled finally breaks her out of it, and she finds herself hold by her weeping and babbling sister, upon which she is just as elated and incoherent in her own rejoicing and greetings.
Karella looks up in time to call out, 'Dree! Wait!'
Turning on her heel, Jendria strolls back up the bridge to the pair.
'I promised you—well, you know. And I appreciate that you're giving us time together before collecting, but still!' Karella digs into her purse, and extracts a slightly lumpy, folded-up piece of parchment. 'This... is my address, and a key. When you're ready to collect... well, you won't need to look around for me.'
The demonologist smiles warmly, accepting the offering and hiding it away in her sleeve. 'Thank you, Karella,' she begins, but is cut off.
'No! Thank you, Dree!' She lets go of her sister long enough to grab Jendria in a tight embrace. 'Thank you so very much!'
A soft chuckle and a quick answering hug, and the smaller woman extracts herself. 'Thank you, even so. Now, off with you two! You've some catching up to do!'
Nodding, Karella re-attaches herself to her wondering sister, and the pair lose themselves in the joy of being reunited as they head off.
Turning, Jendria starts to wander along the canals, and allows the still-invisible Dislia to take her hand. 'Yes. To answer what you're so desperately trying not to ask, love, it does hurt. I still miss my family. But I've found more family, too, as well you know. Shall we go find a nice place to swim?'