Welcome to my collection of short stories! These are centered around the trials, thought processes, and musings of Sentinel Dahlyna Stardancer, a traditional night elf huntress, during the Blood War. You may remember my two stories from the old forums; I have compiled them all here for you. The same thread is also in the World’s End Tavern section.
I am proud to announce a sixth short story! Two more are on the way — keep your Night Warrior eyes peeled. I hope you are enjoying the revamped Warsong Gulch!
Thank you for the support, to all who have read my vignettes and responded kindly! You have my unwavering gratitude. For the kaldorei!
Originally posted 8-17-18
In the aftermath of Teldrassil, this short story portrays a militaristic standpoint of the long-term, devastating effects the War of the Thorns has on many kaldorei. I invite you to be privy to an inward moment of a night elf Sentinel grappling with that banshee’s massive and cruel genocide. I wrote this before delving into Elegy; sorry if there are any coincidental parallels! I have not cried so hard over a book in a long time. Enjoy my first-ever short story!
Dahlyna settled down against one of Stormwind’s many white-washed walls.
Too many, she thought sourly. To her, they felt cold, unfriendly, stifling. It would require adjusting. She felt ashamed for having a residence elsewhere when the majority of her kind had none. Her silver eyes drifted over the stones in somber silence before turning her gaze to the gloomy, overcast heavens. How often she had taken moments of respite in the park these past days when not performing drills, devising strategies, aiding the injured, or going to war. She had always been fond of solitude and introspection, but no solace was to be found there that day.
Her fingertips ghosted over her freshest scar running down the left temple before feeling the ends of her moon-touched hair. The once thigh-length tresses had been singed, shorn now to her shoulders. Serving the kaldorei first, she never claimed priority. For a month, despite protestations from her sisters, Dahlyna had pushed herself, averaging a few hours of sleep weekly and going from one fight right into the next. As warfare was prolonged, she did so partly out of guilt for living. She was prepared to die alongside her brethren but came away only with superficial wounds. This took a toll on her body and spirit and neither had caught up with her until now. She had not the chance to truly confront her emotions - grief, anger, confusion. A long furlough was overdue, for she could not run on so little forever.
If the Alliance and Horde had never invaded Kalimdor, bringing their war and strife, we would still be in seclusion. If the kaldorei had not joined the Alliance, Teldrassil, if it existed, would have been spared! Innocent lives spared! We might have been better off away from all the world.
The recent losses of her kin started with Cenarion Hold in Silithus. Then Mor’shan Rampart on Ashenvale’s edge. Silverwing Grove and Silverwing Outpost. Raynewood Retreat. Silverwind Refuge. Stardust Spire. Astranaar. Lor’danel. Darnassus…
One by one she saw them fall. She saw the faces of all her friends who fell before her and those presumed dead. Even in Lordaeron, the huntress witnessed more casualties of her brothers and sisters and the Horde desecrating their bodies. Decapitated, dismembered, by arrow or axe, poisoned, burnt, bloodied. Snuffed like a candle were their eyes, dimly lit or not at all.
Dahlyna’s heart raced, her palms perspired, and her mouth ran dry. Worst of all, her heart ached as if a hand relentlessly seized it. War was not new to her, but even recalling the thunder of enemy footfall and the screams and the smell of charred flesh brought back post-trauma from the Legion’s first invasion. A Sentinel’s eyes never recovered from the horrors witnessed. A Sentinel knew not how to cope after battle.
Our martial advantage—the forest—was no match for the Horde. We were blind and slow. Mistakes were wrought. I could have saved more. We could have…we could have…
She sighed in exasperation and disbelief at her thoughts. Dahlyna was a night elf, proud of her people who rarely failed. Despair overtook her and she lowered her head to the knees drawn into her chest, allowing herself to cry. Her hardened shell of centuries crumbled away, making her feel naked and alone in the dark. It surprised her that she still knew how, weeping until she had no strength left within.
Minutes turned to hours. A sudden peculiar warmth washed over her then that cut off a sob and sent a tingle down her spine. Looking upward, the clouds had parted from the moon and light shone through the trees’ leaves. Its soft splendor bathed her cheeks as Elune seemed to reach out and grace Dahlyna with her tender touch. The White Lady and the Blue Child were always in the sky, watching over her.
She thought of those blaspheming the Goddess in anguish while Darnassus burned, and she understood why. It was easy to lose hope surrounded by so much death. Faith wavered at a point in everyone’s lives, but Lady Elune never forsook her children and was not to blame for the cause of this war. Still, Dahlyna pitied the newfound, misguided heretics. She bowed her head reverently.
Mother Moon, help those with questions be answered and those with doubts understand. Renew and nourish their souls with your undying love; let them be fulfilled. We fought valiantly in your name and used everything, every resource we could to save everyone. Thank you humbly for your everlasting guidance as you protect us and work through us. The blessings you have bestowed upon us are more than we deserve. Allow us rest and mourning. Give us wisdom as you will, o Night Warrior, to take revenge upon our foes. Give us faith, as we need it now more than ever.
Dahlyna opened her eyes with conviction. Her mind was cleared, allowing morbid thoughts to pass and for the present keeping only comforting memories of simpler times, her happy childhood. The pain in her heart diminished.
Only the future can be changed; it is no use dwelling on the past. We endured a third sundering; we will rebuild our lives. I must stay strong, for Elune above all. For my people. For the Alliance. The Crown of the Earth does not define who the kaldorei are - we are defined by our wisdom, unity, and strength. Rather, because of it, under its glorious boughs, we found each other. Perhaps that was Teldrassil’s greater purpose.
The Goddess worked in mysterious ways. These events, horrible as they were, brought the kaldorei as a whole closer than ever before. Deeply shaken by Teldrassil’s downfall, Dahlyna will be changed, forever scarred—as will the world.
Hope Over Doubt
Originally posted 9-1-18
I present to you more reflections and inner-musings through the eyes of Sentinel Dahlyna who is coming to terms with the War of the Thorns in the fashion of the first! I had not intended to do a second installment, but left the door open in case inspiration decided to strike. It did and the words just came to me so I could not suppress them! For these, I like focusing on the lasting consequences rather than having it take place in the heat of battle. I went a little deeper on her internal workings and how greatly affected she is. I hope you like it!
Darnassae is used: Ana’duna’thera = “Revenge will be ours”
Every time Dahlyna closed her eyes, she saw the dead. Kaldorei and Gilnean mothers, brothers, children.
Why am I allowed to live? Like the moon wanes, so does my life. Elune should have taken me instead of the tiny babes I saw burn alive whom I could not save. The young had worth, everything ahead of them. I have no relations and little left on this earth. I am close to expiring - my time should have ended then. Why?
The word echoed in her mind. Too often she dwelt on mortality. She tried to busy herself but this proved unsuccessful as a means to forget. Dahlyna kept feeling the tug of her recollections pull her back, a heavy weight on her shoulders that wore her down. Pangs of remorse hit her that pained her worse than death and she fell to her knees, doubling over in agony. The deepest recesses of her mind seemed to gradually slip away, giving in as if she were losing control over them and falling prey to the grasp of something sinister and twisted.
Only the Mother Moon knows. I am in her debt, grateful that she spared my life yet wallow in misery because of it. I will never fully understand her…
Ships burned. Structures fell over. Tree branches as big as buildings groaned and cracked loudly. One broke off and plummeted toward the sea until it collided with its surface in a colossal splash. She felt the floating cinders scorch her cheeks and the ocean spray as she stood on the deck of one of the last boats departing from home. Frantic shouts at the helm seemed far away while she watched Teldrassil vanish. Orange flames crawled up the tree, shattering the peaceful stillness and harmony that nature’s balance once provided. Separated family members wailed for each other, knowing that they would be parted; but this parting was temporary until Elune could reunite them again. Dahlyna was back in the fray with the Horde trampling their forests and villages. She recalled their war cries and choice words while fighting. She looked in the eyes of the enemy and saw only hatred and death staring back.
Dahlyna gasped. She steadied herself, seated on the edge of a dock. Over the din of the port city, she was returned from the flashback by rainfall. Her eyes flared in unadulterated anger, an emotion that seldom broke her stoic composure.
Teldrassil was a living tree, yet the fire caught and it somehow burned as fast as dead wood. It represented our lives and dreams that were snuffed out. They came without provocation and without honor! Their deeds went utterly against nature; not a shred of goodness resides in them. Lordaeron was hardly enough to avenge my kin. If only Alliance forces had been unleashed upon Orgrimmar while their troops were away, waiting for their return…
She took some glee in the impossible thought, but her mind turned to other matters. She felt foolish as reminders seemed to assail her abound, as simple as the smell, sight, and sound of crackling wood, fire, water, or even the mighty creaks of a ship’s mast. She had seen wildfires before but never to this extent or magnitude in her ten millennia. Not even the destruction of Deathwing—Xaxas—compared. Harrowing memories did not cease attempting to plague her dreams or waking reality; warriors knew that true terrors dwelt not on the battlefield, but within. Dahlyna understood when she joined that a Sentinel’s life would be frequented by peril and toil, but at times she questioned her sanity and her calling. Unfortunately, many went through the same - not just Sentinels but civilians as well. All thoughts were dispersed when she remembered the lives to which she dedicated her own, for which she fought. As something else dawned on her, she did something unexpected - laugh, sardonically.
Those nescient Horde fools do not realize what they have done. They bring death upon themselves even more than death upon others. In the process of trying to tear the Alliance apart from the inside, they instead did so to their own faction! I saw brother turn against brother as seeds of misgiving were sown. Some questioned orders and authority. They kill innocents for mindless “glory,” nothing more - their vainglory and hubris will be their downfall. The Horde only strengthened the Alliance as one, and when our broken bones have healed twice as strong, we shall strike again. Ana’duna’thera!
She stared at the water. The rain’s harmless patter spurred on this haunting, the noises of the World Tree’s fall etched into her mind. Her stomach turned in nausea, so she took comfort in turning her head up. Remembrances flooded her of Teldrassil’s pulchritudinous lakes and the mirthful times of sketching or playing the harp shoreside. She let the soft droplets caress her face and soak her hair, washing away tears and cinders. It was cool and refreshing and the dismal feeling subsided.
We always look toward Elune. In our darkest hour of the war, she never left us. So was it at the kaldorei’s inception. When we stumbled fearfully in the dark, we opened our hearts. She allowed us to see and helped us when we put our faith and trust in her. We clung to her and forevermore bask in the light of Elune, never abandoning us. We do not need to see her to know she exists, but she makes herself known. Through her, all is possible. She stayed Saurfang’s hand, saving the life of our beloved leader. Malfurion is the living embodiment of hope thanks to her. The Goddess gives our nation hope, casting doubt aside and making way for loving one another as kaldorei. Those virtues will conquer every time. We will overcome these obstacles and rise again.
Stumble and fall Dahlyna did, but reconciliation always awaited her at the end. Her heart was at ease. It sang with Elune’s grace, full with her love. She felt light as her burdens were lifted, as if she could soar in the night sky that she so admired.
In Elune's Shadow
The succession of events in Dahlyna’s life after the War of the Thorns continues. I started writing this shortly after the second story, way before I knew about the Darkshore Warfront, but I knew that the Teldrassil tragedy was not over and the story would be revisited and continued, so the story takes place on a Night Elf battlefront.
I want to give my heartfelt appreciation to Felthron whose in-game mail inspired a great deal of this story! It was so well-written that I had to include it. Felthron, I hope you are reading this. Thank you for your generous gifts, but your encouragement and touching words were best of all.
“Sentinel, a letter for you.”
A courier stood at the entrance to the small tent with his delivery. Dahlyna’s brows knit together concernedly.
What could it be now? Not more bad news.
Tensions were running high throughout the bustling camp as the Night Elves gathered to renew their fight against the Horde. Blackfathom Camp - one of the last bastions in Ashenvale. None there were citizens; they had all been evacuated some time ago, ushered away from the conflict. Now only some from the Sentinels, the Sisterhood, Cenarion Circle, and even Wardens remained, working together whilst charges had been made against Silverwind Refuge to reclaim it. Dahlyna had been deployed for months already. Missives went back and forth from other small outposts to the east and Dahlyna prayed that this letter was not informing her of new orders or an overrun base. If it were, she had not the time nor patience for honeyed words - she wanted only the truth. Still, she dreaded more casualties, changing positions, or scrapping a strategy after memorizing it. The cadre was also keeping close communication with Tyrande, and the time had come where they could wait no longer — Anduin had rejected the kaldorei’s plea. Aside from stragglers eager to aid, they were on their own. They were to soon join the fleets arriving on Zoram Strand where they would travel up the shore, Mist’s Edge, into Darkshore.
“From where?” asked Dahlyna.
“I do not know, sister. This was given to me by another from the last vantage point.”
Dahlyna took the bulky letter and dismissed the breathless messenger, encouraging him to take rest. She had a soft spot for couriers; she knew first-hand that the task was dangerous and could wear one ragged. Not expecting any direct word, Dahlyna first took a moment to inspect the envelope cautiously, finding that it bore no official seal. Rather, it looked slightly worn and handled, perhaps passed off multiple times and circulating for days. The way letters found her always astonished her. She seated herself on the stool before her small dressing table at which she also addressed her letters. Anxious fingers opened the flap and pulled forth a piece of paper. She recognized that it was written in a male hand.
I’m not even sure where to begin this letter, though I pray that by Elune’s light it finds you well.
The Kaldorei have endured more hardship than both of us might care to recall. Though we do not know each other, we share the same loss. Brothers who die while we are off at war. Sisters who fall at our sides who may never be touched by the Light of Elune again. And now even I am on that precipice.
When I saw the home of our people burn I lost my own light.
Dahlyna flipped to a second page behind the first.
The burden of sacrifices that I so willingly gave for our people suddenly crashed upon me. My time here is ending. I pray to mother moon that I may continue my vigil in spirit.
The Kaldorei needs heroes like you to stand tall and proud for Teldrassil. We have survived worse, and I know you will carry on with strength I no longer have. I hope these guide your path.
Hidden behind the notes were a copious stack of cards with fortunes on them, a few slipping out and falling onto the tabletop.
Dahlyna felt a sudden surge of adrenaline, muscles tensing. Though she knew not his location, survival instinct kicked in as if to rush to the writer’s aid and save him from pending death, even if it were against his wishes. She would do the same for any ally. Life was precious. She felt helpless but knew such a thing would likely be in vain, a folly to leave her comrades. She tried to convince herself that he might still be alive but succumbed to the probable reality. How old was this letter? To compensate for this restless energy, Dahlyna arose and began pacing the short width of her tent, contemplating her options. Her plated chainmail boots clinked with each precise, intentional step. Each stride carried purpose.
“The Goddess worked through this man,” she told herself aloud. “We have lost a good kaldorei this day. If only I had had the chance to meet him…to give a proper farewell from this world.”
A single tear rolled down the winged markings of her left cheek.
“Why must the selfless always die?” she shouted with rage. Impulsively, she overturned a side table with such force that it was sent flying into her bow rack, felling it. She swiped the water basin off her vanity, shattering it. Such anger was typically reserved for battlefield antics, but from time to time, it bested her off-duty. The War of the Thorns had turned Dahlyna into quite the unruly tempest. It stirred up emotions she suppressed and kept in check. Realizing that she lost her temper sent her into more of a rage as it was something that she could not control. Her impassioned feelings were out of her control and she hated it. Keeping composed for millennia only caused her to lash out, but she dealt with things in her own way. She tried hard not to let it get the better of her with her kin.
Dahlyna fell back onto the stool and brought a fist down hard on the dresser, rattling its contents. She leant over the tabletop with head hanging low, mourning her losses, until one fortune card caught her eye. The sun will shine tomorrow. A smile, thin as a waning crescent, crossed her lips. How true it was. She could count on looking forward - Elune always made things right in the end and brought light to the next day. She met her old, tired eyes in the looking glass before her.
“…Stand tall and proud.”
His words rang out inwardly and struck true in her heart. She sniffed once, held her head high. The letter filled her with hope and dreams for the future, it inspired and encouraged her. While shrouded in slight mystery, Felthron’s sincerity radiated off the paper. As a suspicious person, questioning the safety and purpose of everything, Dahlyna could feel it in her bones. Instances like these coming from her brothers and sisters moved her deeply and made a profound impact. The gratitude she felt was overwhelming - kin always managed to pull her from a dark place and she hoped likewise she did the same. Simple gestures and a kind word were a boon to her, it kept her going when things seemed bleak and tough. It helped to quell the war waged internally. She was understood and not alone in this. Others felt her exact emotions, thought the same thoughts. Dahlyna felt a connection with this elf. The Goddess made their lives intersect for a reason, even if only by legend and letter.
Has my name reached far-off ears? What heroic deeds have I accomplished or great kindness have I done worthy of folktales? I am remorseful for not being as kind as I ought. I know how to do only one thing well: war. I live and breathe it. I was shaped for it. Love comes less easily, though I feel it deeply for all my kin.
She did not have the answers to anything, only that she lived to serve her people. The letter did, however, make her reflect on what it would have been like to have had a sibling. Would it feel like this, and the loss hurt as much? Dahlyna spoke quietly to herself.
“Whatever trials you have faced, wherever your path lead you, I know you deserve to be at ease. So begins your own long vigil. Rest well, my brother. Elune make you her star. Tonight I will look for you…give a send-off by lantern. You will be remembered.”
Whether Elune was to bring Dahlyna home as well was in her hands, but Dahlyna would do her utmost by all she had. She always did.
A sudden chill caught Dahlyna, snapping her out of her intense trance. She whipped around but saw nothing other than the wind blowing aside the tent flaps and the Darnassian tapestries lining the inside walls. When it settled, she was still left with the comforting, cool breeze. There was a knowing in her heart that the spirit of the letter’s author was with her. Felthron was the wind through her hair, the raindrops on her face, the stars lighting her path. When sweet flowers blossom in spring, the bee collects wild nectar on the moor, morning dew forms on every blade of grass, he would visit again. She saw the beauty of her fallen friends—even those she had not met—in the world around her. It gave her strength and she was proud to honor them and the Goddess. As long as there was an Azeroth, their souls would live on within the beauty it held.
There is a circle of life. Kin return to the earth and children are born anew. Great death and peril befall us for a time and it seems as if Elune has eclipsed from us, shading her light. Then times slip away and she soon reveals herself in her full glory, where life and happy times are upon us again.
Dahlyna stored away the envelope and most of the card deck into a lockbox hidden in a secret compartment beneath her cot. All of her important papers and special mementos were kept there, convenient for travel.
She dipped her fingers into an inkpot, smearing purple war paint across her cheeks, and began braiding her hair. The short, jagged edges kept slipping and coming loose and she cursed Sylvanas for bringing fire and death upon them all. Dahlyna’s eyes kept wandering to the recent scar on her temple where falling debris maimed her in Darnassus.
She thought back to possibly the last meal shared with her sisters - hearty elk and kimchi around the bonfire. This moment she would cherish. Sharing war stories were sometimes fun, but not always. Most were not a legacy she would pass onto to her children and the later generations. Years of war taught you how to save lives, not cope with them when they are taken.
The day death ceases to disturb me is when I retire.
She thought back to the kaldorei empire and the Long Vigil when they established themselves in Ashenvale. How grand things were. They did not know Common then but were compelled to learn for the Alliance’s sake when they arrived. If relations with Stormwind were to be strained, the refugees would look for another home — by pride or force. The kaldorei would make do as they had always done. They boasted many fine survivalists.
What is war if you know not why you fight? What are factions when you know not for what they stand? The Horde’s reasons for battle do not align with ours. We know in what we believe - justice, honor, truth. They cannot even decide if they are with or against their Warchief. Why would Sylvanas raze our home to the ground just like her home of Quel’Thalas had been? Did she want others to experience similar torture? If she thinks that she can just get away with burning down Teldrassil, then she and her Horde have a surprise in store.
Dahlyna did not dare be remiss in her duties. She would never cower before the Horde, allowing an advantageous opportunity of defeat due to bouts of grieving and hopelessness. Most of all, she would not allow the Horde to commit sacrilege against their temples or the atrocities against her people again. She considered the War of the Thorns to have never ended since it began. During this war, she had formed strong bonds with old friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike. Grim as war was, there was one undeniable fact: war brought people together. That togetherness would be the Horde’s end.
Dahlyna heard a female voice call out. It possessed a gruff quality and Dahlyna could tell even without looking that the elf had seen her fair share of war. Dahlyna knew why she came and gave a firm, solitary nod. “Thank you, sister.”
She could hear the swish of the priestesses’ robes outside her tent, hastily gathering for the blessings marking the commencement of battle. Tradition and ritual were upheld by the troops. She heard the anxious roars of Nightsabers in familiar anticipation of what was to come. She heard the voracious hooting of the scouting owls. She heard the pulse of drums and the blare of war horns. Massive ballistae creaked and kodo hooves stamped the earth. They were edging closer. War approached.
She would not tarry. Tying back her braids, she strapped in her boot knives and gathered arrows for her quiver. Her fingers ran up an arrow’s shaft, admiring the superior craftsmanship and trademark Sentinel fletching. Collecting her ancient bow in haste, she slung it across her back. She adjusted her medals, the night before polishing them until they shone, and took a deep breath. The last thing she did was store the fortune card between her breastplate and chainmail, next to her heart - to remember the sunshine of tomorrow. She stared into the mirror and her reflection looked back. She was ready. Dahlyna parted the tent’s flaps, heading out into the eternal darkness to the battlefield ahead to take her place at the side of her brothers-in-arms. The Sentinels were ready to take their last stand.
The adventure recommences in this thrilling Battle for Darkshore story! Battle for Azeroth has proved great for character progression. I always enjoy watching and having a hand in how the world around my characters influences and shapes them. Sometimes they just seem to take on lives of their own while I am a spectator. New content and lore is only going to fuel me to write more and keep the creative juices flowing! I started writing this shortly after the third.
Darnassae is used: An’da = “Father”
Iszera duna bantallas = “Greenskins are primitive”
Ashte’rodne = “Very ugly”
Thandae-alah = Speculated, like “misfortune to you”
“An’da! An’da, where are you? AN’DA!”
She turned fitfully in her sleep, nightmares replaying of the Sundering and the great conflagration. Her forehead was dewy with perspiration, murmuring feverish incoherent words. Her normally pale face looked even whiter, pallid. She heard a woman screaming frantically. Hands on her shoulders awoke her with a start - and then she realized that the scream was her own.
Dahlyna sat leaning up against a grimy stone wall, knees bent and arms draped over them. Her head hung low, white hair concealing her face. Her body was smeared with dried blood. Mud was caked onto her undergarments, wearing nothing but.
How long have I been here?
She felt uncomfortable and vulnerable without her armor on, especially without her bow. She longed to hold Shal’surfas again and prayed that it was not taken. “Love of night” she had named it. She had not felt the buzz and vibration of the bowstring or heard the whistle of the arrows for so long, making her more antsy with each passing day. Dahlyna had been confined to the Auberdine inn for a week to allow fractured ribs to heal and to overcome a potent poison that had entered her bloodstream. A new concoction by those Forsaken. The priestesses’ mending could only do so much, but they would not allow her to forge ahead in such a state in spite of her begging, bargaining, and convincing that exercise would do her good. They nearly had to strap her down. Dahlyna was not one for sitting still or being a good patient - she had things to do. War was an addiction, its withdrawals the most painful known to her. She yanked the chains forcefully in an attempt to free herself, to no avail.
Was this how Lady Tyrande felt when she was held captive at Azshara’s palace?
Dahlyna turned her wrists and the heavy iron manacles clunked with the movement; she did this to study her hands. They were working hands, dirt beneath her nails, protruding veins, and callouses abound, but she was proud of them. Through her dizzy stupor, she had no recollection of where she had been taken. Trying to fight the poison and gather what information she could in moments of clarity, she looked around. Her prison was barren, stone walls barricading either side. The cell across the aisle in front of hers was empty. Suddenly, a shaft of moonlight coming from the chamber’s ceiling beamed onto her, causing her to squint. Dahlyna tried hard to concentrate on listening for others, but all she could hear was her heartbeat pounding in her head.
All I can do is wait. My sisters will come for me. I am in Elune’s hands now; even the moon casts a shadow.
“What dis?” A light blue troll appeared in the hall outside the cell out of nowhere. He leered at her predatorily. “Dis an exotic lookin’ ting.”
Dahlyna had the urge to roll her eyes but kept her head down. To all appearances, she could have been dead. A kaldorei knew how to keep as still as the night.
So this is my captor. The rogue must have sneaked in when most Sentinels were out on the field and grabbed me. Why do they want me alive?
“See here, mon. Whatchu tink?” The troll motioned for someone in the corridor to come closer.
A hulking greenskin trudged over, peering in and eyeing her closely, her numerous scars not slipping past him. “You did good. She’s one of the veterans all right. She’ll be more worn after this is through. Heh.”
The troll is his subordinate. Have they captured more? There must be more accomplices lurking about.
The orc waved a dismissive hand and went back the way he came. He had more important matters to attend to it seemed.
The troll lingered, each of his three digits curling around the metal bars. “'Ey, you don’t look so different from me, mon. But you’d make a tasty morsel. You sure you not a relative?”
Dahlyna did not even raise her head. “I’d sooner be dead than related to licentious cannibal savages.”
He simply cackled devilishly and vanished in a puff of smoke. Dahlyna gave a disapproving, indignant sniff and turned her back partially to face the wall.
Night fell. She drifted in and out of sleep. She was so long without food, reaching the point where her stomach no longer grumbled. It felt empty and hollow but she did not feel hunger. However, she would die far sooner without water. Licking condensation off the walls would not suffice. A particular deep gash in her side did not seem to be feeling any better, either. It stung with infection. Delirious, Dahlyna angrily pulled at her chains.
“I must return to my sisters who need me! Sentinel duties are— Argh… Iszera duna bantallas, ashte’rodne! Thandae-alah! YOU CANNOT KEEP ME HERE! An’da!”
Her head swam during her folly as she mixed Darnassian and Common, slinging insults in her native tongue. Eventually, she was forced to succumb to exhaustion, slumping over.
A world of living greenery turned to a world raining fel. The world of fel turned to blue sea. The blue sea was overtaken by a sky of red. Then everything went black.
Dahlyna was roused by the tromping of boots down the dank hall. They descended the stairs to the dungeon and approached her cell door. It swung open and a brown-haired male sin’dorei loomed before her.
“Wake up, banshee!” He backhanded her face, blood trickling out of her nose.
That made Dahlyna glare, slowly lifting her glowing eyes to bore holes into his. She did her usual brief assessment for weapons and noticed that his plate armor was pristine. Too pristine. Had he not battled? He wore medals and an eyepatch and she figured that he was the upper-rank running this operation. The master. He was unnervingly calm, his eyes arrestingly cold and unmerciful.
He kept his voice low and threatening. “You made quite the racket I hear. Now tell me; what weapons do the elves have in their arsenal?”
“My apologies, I thought you brought me here for a formal parley,” said she sarcastically.
He ignored her tone to continue questioning, leaning over. “Where is your commander? Has she gathered petty militia for your little rescue? We are ready for them. There will be no armistice here.”
Dahlyna said nothing, giving a deadly staredown. They were so close that their noses almost touched. Everything was eerily quiet.
“I have a fine spot in the lodge for your head. Speak!”
Her lips upturned sardonically and she spat in his face. “Do your worst.”
The blood elf wiped it off. “I always do,” he snarled quietly. He rose, and his fist met her eye.
If she were to die, she would not go out cowering. The sinewy muscles of Dahlyna’s legs pulled the shackles taut while giving a harsh kick outward to his abdomen. He stumbled back, winded. Unsheathing his sword, he raised it over his head and came charging back. Before he could deliver the final strike, the unexpected happened - the ceiling caved in overhead from the very ray of light Dahlyna saw earlier. Radiant starlight now filled the cavern with a luminous glow. As debris fell upon him, he tumbled to the ground, his sword clattering on the cement. A sleek black cat pounced down from the hole, landing atop him and rending his neck open with razor-sharp claws.
“Her death was to bring me…glory…” the sin’dorei spluttered in his dying breath, mouth gurgling with blood.
“Anarias!” Dahlyna shouted, coughing as the dust cleared. Above, Sentinels emerged from the shadows and began waging war. A horn was blown thrice in the distance, announcing some unexpected guests. Dahlyna looked up from the rubble to see an Alliance flag-bearer amidst a small troop of Stormwind soldiers infiltrating the camp, marching their way to victory. Reinforcements had arrived at last! They would hold the line long enough for the stealth rescue mission. Dahlyna could not help but smile at the welcome sight, glad that they had finally come to help. She was still sour that Anduin had rejected their cry for aid. Her people did well on their own; nevertheless, the Sentinels could not afford to turn away willing soldiers. Dahlyna now recognized where she was - the currently Horde-controlled Bashal’Aran.
The great feline suddenly shifted into a male kaldorei. “The Horde always did have unstable leadership,” Anarias smirked, brandishing the key and removing her bindings.
“You have my deepest thanks. And I see you brought with you friends.” Druids could be enigmatical and have strange notions about things at times, but Dahlyna was sure glad to have some on the force.
“Yes, well, that always helps.” His tone soon turned serious as he saw the state of her. “Sentinel Stardancer, are you injured?”
“Not very, brother. I just want my bow.”
The Blood War and the Battle for Darkshore has put into perspective for me that, though I will always put my own first, it is not just about the kaldorei anymore. Not since the Third War. We no longer rely only upon ourselves - we have allies. It has taken me long to grasp that fact. I do not believe in peace with the Horde, but I do believe in the Alliance. We must unite and show no mercy if we are to stop evil. Even if it takes my own blood.
A story about vulnerability, recovering wounds mental and physical, and open possibilities. I love it when it coincides with current events - Darkshore currently being controlled by Alliance and the Lunar Festival. It fits into Azeroth’s story so nicely. Enjoy Dahlyna’s dry levity and a glimpse into her personal life.
Dahlyna Stardancer’s heavy, tired lids fluttered open slowly. Her silver eyes were greeted by a clear, black evening. Birds chirped cheerfully, just before their time of sleep, and it lightened her heart to hear such an innocent noise. It was like a gift delivered to her ears, a gentle reminder that hope was not lost. Beauty and life were still to be found in this world — even a forest as cursed as Darkshore. Elune had left it in the peak of night, but like all kaldorei, Dahlyna relished the darkness. She felt refreshed after a few days of sleeping, requiring it after her ordeal at Bashal’Aran. Slowly rising from her bed, she retrieved her satchel and made her way down the inn’s ramp. A hand ran fondly over the smooth wood railing as she walked the lengthy adjoining dock, as reverent a touch as if the wood were alive.
“To walk through Auberdine again…” she murmured in awe to herself through half-gritted teeth, almost always speaking and thinking in Darnassian unless conversing with other races. The woman’s bandaged form hobbled along slowly, slightly hunched due to pain. Her recovery was slow but thus far successful.
I never thought that I would live to see the day. I remember walking this very dock, awaiting the ship to deliver me to a new post somewhere. It was just yesterday that Xaxas turned the city to ash, razed to the ground where it lay in ruin. Innocents mercilessly slaughtered, tortured, and drowned…
Dahlyna passed under purple archways with curling vines twining around them. Floating wisps circled them as if granting their blessing and approval. Sprawling ivy grew between the slats of the dock’s surface. Interspersed along the dock were planters housing vibrant green flora and gnarled wooden lampposts illuminated with Elune’s light. Worgen, night elves, and even some other races lent their aid to rebuild part of Auberdine while druids aided the regrowth of the land. Dahlyna came to a fork in the middle where it split into three separate docks, continuing straight along the foremost pier and stopping at the edge. Inhaling deeply, she felt truly one with nature. She steadied herself at a pillar, gazing off into the far horizon at the burnt husk that was Teldrassil, remembering with reverence and honor the beautiful lives taken that dread-filled day. A familiar spasm seized her heart, bringing forth to mind more recent wounds.
Teldrassil intimidatingly loomed in the sky overhead like an ever-present cloud permanently watching over Darkshore. It was a painful reminder to any of the troops nearby but also provided the motivation to keep going. Those robbed of their lives and taken too soon were the reason Dahlyna and many more awoke every day. To keep alive the memories of the fallen, to preserve the remembrance of them, they pushed forward. The kaldorei would never forget. At the same time, Elune was always present in the sky as well. She never forgot nor forgave this atrocity. Her soft radiance was a great comfort.
It seems as if it were just yesterday that I took a midnight run through the woods of Teldrassil like a girl who had not a care in the world. Few were my times of rest, but all were cherished. How I miss Darnassus. Its stone bridges, tall structures, tranquil waters, Sentinel barracks. I had not the time to say a proper farewell. My heart aches to walk its gardens one last time…
Dahlyna sat, letting her legs hang off the side, the water lapping below her bare feet. Opening her bag and finding a vial of glowing blue Moonglow, she popped the cork and downed its contents, musing on the last time she saw Maiev and her Wardens on the field. She respected the Wardens, insofar as they never wavered in their traditional views. Dahlyna shared most of them but did not always agree with their brutal and extreme tactics of the past.
Maiev must need something to do to pass the time now that Illidan is gone. Would that he could grace us with his presence again.
She smirked in facetiousness. This only got her thinking of her own life. She saw the days wax and wane before her but found her future hazy, uncertain. Her heart was mute, or perhaps Elune was not speaking to her at this time. Her faith had not lessened still, amidst the tribulations. She never felt alone but at times yearned for a companion. Dahlyna had a secret hope of finding a mate, that she could retire and hide far away to live the rest of her days in seclusion, just as Jarod Shadowsong had done.
And look how that turned out, she thought bitterly. His wife Shalasyr died. What foolish fantasies, I have important things to do.
Dahlyna never had the chance to dream when she was a young adult so she was still making up for it. She was equipped for war but quite inexperienced when it came to romance and social skills. At such times, she might seem naive and even childlike. She tried to rarely let like notions fester, keeping her desires and wishes locked away, much like Maiev; however, this was one instance where she gave in and turned her mind over to such fancies. Dahlyna took a pencil and sketchbook out of her bag and began drawing a kaldorei man with long, dark hair and a grizzled face, realizing soon that she was drawing the likeness of Kur’talos Ravencrest. Though she would not admit it, he was the undisclosed object of her affection throughout her girlhood. Flawed man that he was, she looked up to Ravencrest, an exemplary leader of whom she could be proud. She aspired to be like him to this day. His assassination was a blow to the rebels and it was then that the morale was at its lowest point. Lord Ravencrest possessed many honorable qualities that she admired in her own father.
“So few o’ ya are on the field. Thought there’d be more.”
The fond reminiscing was broken by a deep masculine voice, startling her. Dahlyna was infrequently startled; on this occasion, it was either in slight mortification for letting her guard down or for the embarrassing possibility of her inner-most feelings being discovered. She quickly clutched the sketchpad to her chest.
“They are there, lurking in shadow. Night elves are seen only when they wish to be,” Dahlyna lilted in accented Common, giving a wise wink to the worgen. She casually inspected him but he did not seem to pose a threat or any cause for concern. His black hair was queued and he kept himself in fine condition for being on a warfront. Many Gilneans and Moonclaw Warriors had accompanied the Sentinels to Darkshore to exact revenge on the Forsaken and all other foes. Dahlyna thought that it was kind of them to do, despite them having waited so long to reclaim their own homeland. She felt guilty at that and vowed to return the favor when the time came.
“Another Stormwind contingent was deployed by sea today to join us. They are expected to arrive in a fortnight, within the week if we are lucky,” she continued, shaking her head to clear away her absorbing thoughts for the moment.
“An’ Kul Tiras as well, word 'as it.”
“The maritime city has sent more reinforcements? Splendid.” Dahlyna chewed her lower lip, looking over her shoulder. Her eyes affixed on the fiery ruins in the dilapidated half of the town, hair glistening in the twilight moon and fluttering about her shoulders.
The Gilnean man followed Dahlyna’s gaze. “Shame what Deathwing did ta this place.”
“Deathwing? Ah, yes…Deathwing. In my tongue, he was known by another name.” It was poison on her lips.
The man then gave a nod and low bow. “They’ll be wonderin’ where I’ve gone. Ta-ta.”
Dahlyna raised her hand in farewell, furrowing her brows as she stared at his back.
What strange phrases. I still do not understand the mortal races. But we are mortal now as well…I sometimes forget. I am unsure that I would want to ever regain immortality if there were a way. Not if it meant living a life forever in torture, guilt, regret, and memory. Death is the only means to stop grief, for the pain to end. The longer I live, the more burdens I shoulder. When it is my time, I will gladly go.
She gazed upon the tree, but the more she looked, the angrier she became. Dahlyna’s fingers drummed against the dock, furling the fingers of her other hand into a balled fist. It made her think of the kaldorei that Sylvanas and her banshees raised into undeath, forsaking old alliances. She thought back to the War of the Ancients, where the same thing had occurred within Suramar City. Nathrezim raised her people and the reanimated corpses turned against their own in the kaldorei rebellion. Images flashed in her mind’s eye, replaying the visions of what she had seen with her real eyes. Night elves missing limbs, guts torn open with the contents spilling forth…yet they walked. The first appearance of the Scourge on Azeroth. To think that that was only the beginning. Ten thousand years later, history was repeating itself - evil was not yet kept at bay.
“I heard that there are celebrations underway for the Lunar Festival in neighboring regions. Will you be attending, sister Stardancer?” The elf sounded wry.
Dahlyna whirled around, once again her thoughts interrupted. Her patience wore thin - she had been caught at an unfortunate time for pleasantries. “Of course not!” she snapped sharply. “With the Horde there in attendance as well? Absolutely not, Glaivewalker. I always knew that druids were an esoteric lot, but the Cenarion Circle in Moonglade allowing this to take place has gone too far. I have better things to do with my time than spend it with those who torched our world tree. They have caused us enough trouble. When I take my seldom furloughs, I would not waste it on such ill company.”
“The Horde races only banded together for convenience and survival, not because they necessarily wanted to. The Alliance races choose to band together, for we are stronger standing as one.”
“Indeed. Our allegiance is with the Alliance. For Elune’s sake, this is the Blood War. We are holding our own victorious revelry right here in Darkshore to commemorate the folklore of the season. Now, what of the briefing? Just because they forbade me to go does not mean that I cannot be kept abreast of the situation.”
“They spoke about the planned reconnaissance at Shatterspear War Camp. Also, division twenty-four at Stardust Spire requested backup as they launch attacks on Silverwind Refuge. A cadre will break camp on the morrow.” The woman knew better than to ask Dahlyna if she needed anything. With a firm nod, Glaivewalker turned on her heel and retreated from the dock.
Dahlyna grumbled under her breath about people always coming to check on her, but in truth, she was glad of it. Though she did not show it outright, she appreciated the support.
Sentinel Glaivewalker’s eyes were as black as night, having received the Night Warrior’s gift. It made Dahlyna contemplate the ritual. She was there when Tyrande ascended to the Night Warrior which made her wonder why she had not been granted heightened justice and if it would ever be bestowed upon her. Elune could best be understood by a woman’s heart, but just pondering the great mysteries of the moon goddess made Dahlyna at a loss. She was slightly envious and felt out of place among the Army of the Black Moon. She wished more than anything that she could be one of them, to feel the raw power that they wrought coursing through her veins, to harness it, to let Elune work through her like never before. For some reason, the White Lady had decided to overlook her.
I have learned that not everything is under my control. I must allow my heart to remain open, always listening for Elune’s word so as not to shut her out. As much as we fight her will to listen to our own, we will not succeed. Our reasoning is faulty. Now, this is the kaldorei’s time. If we keep following her path, we will rise once more.
She let out a languid sigh, shoulders slumping, and decided that the time for thinking was over and at an end. Spending time with her family, the Sentinels, was more important this night. With a final lingering glance toward Teldrassil, Dahlyna took her leave.
This time, Dahlyna learns how to deal with the still-devastating after-effects of war and interacts with the rest of her unit. Have fun reading Dahlyna’s sarcasm and rather opinionated thinking.
Darnassae: Alah darnana dor = [A formal greeting]
Fighting on the endless battlefront that was Darkshore, Dahlyna Stardancer longed for change. Soon, Elune was gracious enough to grant her a new post. The Horde took much land in Ashenvale during the War of the Thorns, but their presence had been increasing of late. Scouts reported them encroaching on Warsong Gulch territory, providing the sparks to rekindle the decade-old flame there, as the Horde were occasionally wont to do. The expertise of Dahlyna as well as fellow Sentinel, Viniell Glaivewalker, was requested by the Silverwing Sentinels. Leaving the stalemate behind in what was left of their temporary home of Darkshore, they relocated to help defend the gulch.
Upon landing and dismounting her hippogryph in the hidden grove, the first thing Dahlyna did was crane her neck to look at the massive, stalwart trees. They always were, and stood the test of time. She remembered just how much war this ancient forest had seen, from the Long Vigil and the War of the Satyr to the Ashenvale offensives during which Dahlyna had assisted the Silverwings. It was the dawn of a new age when Ashenvale was founded as the beginning of their new civilization, many years ago — at least to those old enough to remember it. Until recently, it was home to them all. Walking up the cobblestone, Dahlyna noticed that the Silverwings had managed to restore some semblance of order and balance, achieving their initial goal of reconquering Silverwing Grove. She stopped at the top of the path and gave a low bow before Su’ura Swiftarrow, leader of the Silverwing Sentinels, and Illiyana Moonblaze. The former Dahlyna quite liked and respected, the latter, not a whit. Illiyana, with her supposed checkered past, apathy, and latitude ever earned her a wary and distrustful glance from Dahlyna. Illiyana was not a Sentinel; indeed, one day she could be a scout, the next a supplier, tracker, or an officer. Dahlyna could never tell.
“Alah darnana dor, Commander Swiftarrow and sister Moonblaze.”
“Welcome to Silverwing Grove, Sentinel Stardancer. I thank you for coming and trust your journey was uneventful. It is good to see you once more. Where is Sentinel Glaivewalker?”
Dahlyna smirked. “Not far behind. I raced her here and surprisingly proved my aerial prowess, for today at least.”
“At least! That updraft nearly did me in, but you know I am the superior rider. I will get you in the rematch, sister,” called the voice of Glaivewalker. The muscled woman with midnight blue hair approached from behind Dahlyna.
Pleasantries were thus exchanged, plans were discussed, and orders given for the upcoming days before Dahlyna quit the trio to settle in at Silverwing Outpost to the north.
A few weeks later, there were thankfully no recruits to train or other leading responsibilities; Dahlyna was just another soldier. There was a lull in the warfare at Warsong Gulch and Dahlyna took the reprieve to continue the daily Sentinel ritual of practice drills. Not adept with steel service weapons, she took up a wooden practice sword to exercise her arms with hand-to-hand work against some hapless wood pell. With a shield on her left arm, she concentrated on how to move the blade in tandem with it.
Becoming very heated the longer she trained, Dahlyna closed her eyes for just a moment and could not help what she saw. Cinders, ash, and smoke that stung her eyes. She blinked again and the dummy had turned into the World Tree aflame. She used a cut and thrust move at it and as it wobbled, it morphed into a singed man, his eyes blinded by fire. Dahlyna drew back and gasped, seeing people running through the streets. Their hair was on fire, their clothes were on fire. Children were screaming for their parents, parents were screaming for their children.
Then Dahlyna saw the charred and wounded littered along Azuremyst Isle’s docks from a few ships. The majority were packed inside and out of the Mage Tower of Stormwind, the smell of burnt flesh and hair lingering in the air. Many were crying in agony as their skin peeled. Everyone was coughing from smoke inhalation and some were even coughing blood as she had done herself. They stumbled and fell, unused to the bright sunlight of the Eastern Kingdoms, as well as the biting smoke that blurred their vision. Much had escaped the portal from Darnassus. Fainting, vomiting, wailing, nail-biting — all coped with the anxiety in their own way. Some were in shock and did not show it. Priestesses and medics rushed to and fro, tending to the worst injuries first, but they were spread thin. There were many deaths. Everyone who was a kaldorei lost someone in this war, but none ought not to forget the brave Gilnean souls also lost during the conflagration. Everything seemed to be straight out of a nightmare; it was pure hysteria. No word in Dahlyna’s tongue or the tongues of mortals could ever come close to describing this calamity.
The poor vagrants were stranded in Stormwind, lining the streets and forming small camps while the Cathedral was crammed full. Volunteers passed out food and drink. Everything was different, a strange new land to the elves; most had been sheltered in Kalimdor for all of their lives. What was left of the entire population of Teldrassil was here, and people began to realize that the city could not provide for such a multitude. Some parents were forced to separate from their children and leave to find work as there was no more room. As time went on, clerks were assigned to every street corner to turn elves and worgen away, only providing shelter on a “case-by-case basis.” Dahlyna was maddened to see this first-hand and even more angered when these new “allies”, Ren’dorei, Lightforged Draenei, Dark Iron Dwarves, and Kul Tirans were recently welcomed in with open arms. They assimilated fairly well; why was it not the same for the kaldorei and Gilneans? There was no recourse. They lost everything they had and would be forced to rebuild their lives and livelihoods — but where, if Stormwind would not have them? Where would be the center for trade and commerce, the workshops and neighborhoods? Many questions went unanswered.
The two races are worthy and have more right to occupy Stormwind over any shadow fiends, Light creatures, fire moles, or fat folk. Was the loyalty we pledged so long ago worth nothing now? Am I to see them suffer, languish, and toil away? What is the ultimate fate of my people? Due to our immortality, the Goddess blessed few kaldorei with children to keep our population steady. Now that we have lost immortality, birth rates still seem sparse. We are dying off quicker now, by disease, war, and old age. Would Elune allow us to die off eventually?
“Rest assured, King, we will not ride the coattails of Stormwind for long. We will rely on ourselves as we have always done, and rally again,” Dahlyna muttered under her breath, swinging her sword and missing. Now, with wounds healed, it was only the mental wounds to tend to that left the deepest impact.
I could live with any injury. Losing a limb, an eye could be sustained, but scars upon the mind never heal with time. I am to live with those written upon my heart for eternity. Nothing surprises my eyes anymore; my constitution has become iron, immune to most everything.
She rubbed the sweat from her eyes, again the pell transforming shape. Not any shape — this time it was the banshee queen herself, a wicked smile dancing on her lips. Of all the ways to die, Sylvanas chose the worst possible way for the kaldorei. Dahlyna could not endure hearing their screams again. Hatred welled up within Dahlyna and she roared in anger, making a downward strike to Sylvanas’s torso and bashing her with her shield. Knocking her to the ground, they wrestled, Dahlyna punching her face over and over again until her raw knuckles bled. Sudden laughter startled Dahlyna and she swiveled her head to look over her shoulder; it came from the outpost. When she turned back, Sylvanas was gone, replaced by the dummy, and the longsword was splintered in two. Embarrassed, she ditched the exercises which she executed in horrendous form. No one had witnessed this.
Dahlyna was conflicted, both relishing and despising being alone all at once. At times she actively avoided it in fear of the maladies of the wandering mind returning to take hold of her; once she fell prey to the terrorful claws that sunk into her thoughts, it was hard to rid them. She could easily slip into a brooding state of mind which proved taxing and forced her into lassitude. It was a struggle to battle on two fronts — the war without and the war within.
Outside the barracks, she saw a group of off-duty Sentinels huddled together. They were crowded around an unfortunate soul who had fallen asleep on guard duty. One woman had fetched a large spider and dropped it on the sleeping Sentinel’s helmet where it crawled right over her face. She jolted awake, more likely from their raucous laughter than the spider. It did, however, produce a scream as she frantically waved her arms trying to get it off. The spider fell writhing onto its back, and Dahlyna came up from behind, drew an arrow, and shot it. Being a Sentinel was not all fun and games, only once in a while when you know your squad well. They all spun around and Dahlyna wore an almost imperceptible smile. “Have you girls gotten into the ginger wine?”
“Nay, we broke out a bit of the rainbow flower, dated ten thousand years back,” replied one.
“From Azshara’s secret stash, hah!” shouted another.
“A good year, almost as old as I am,” Viniell Glaivewalker beamed. She walked up to Dahlyna and put an arm around her shoulders. A glance passed between the two and Dahlyna knew that Viniell could sense what had occurred. They all went through similar post-trauma and the signs and symptoms were apparent. “Are you in health, Dahlyna?”
“Your concern is appreciated, Vin, but perhaps it is my time to retire. Must I continue receiving visions as I do?”
Viniell’s dark brows furrowed, then lifted with a warm smile. “Oh Dahl, if everyone in the Sentinel Army who had visions gave up, no one would be left to fight our battles; and we cannot turn our back on those we love just because we let a bit of melancholy and fear get to us. Evil will win if we do that, so we must face our fears head-on. Regardless, the only surefire remedy to overcome it is a nice meal, sleep, good company, and the consoling nature of friendship. That is where the heart and mind should always turn for resolution.”
Never thinking she would genuinely laugh or smile again, Dahlyna did just that. “You are right, and most wise. Once again you talk sense into me, old friend. My home is with all of you. This is where I belong.”