Elwynn Forest, The hills above Mirror Lake, Monday evening
The sun set warmly over Stormwind as a slender, dark-haired Draenei woman left, lightly burdened and on foot, from the gates. She checked over her shoulder to make sure the guards did not watch before ducking up the path that would lead her around to the waterfalls. As she reached the peak of the hill, the stream that fed Mirror Lake crashing in a glorious cascade below her, she stopped and set down her bags.
A blanket, a bottle of amber liquid, some herbs, a goblet, a scrying bowl, a flint and tinder.
Each she set out with some reverence.
The sun set on her preparations of a bonfire; by the time the sky was dark a steady fire burned on the hilltop.
Annorah trembled slightly as she stripped down to simple linen pants.
She mixed the herbs and the amber liquid in a goblet, and filled her scrying bowl with the icy snow-melt water in the stream. Standing bare-chested in front of the flame, she dumped the frigid water over herself four times, and then filled the bowl a fifth time and left it sit, the golden reflections of the fire dancing on the smooth, black surfaced water.
She sat down on the blanket, and carefully swirled the goblet four times, lifting it to each of the four elements before downing the contents in one swift, grimacing swallow - the only substance to pass her lips that day. She took a bit of ash from the fire and smudged it on each of the tattoos on each of her shoulders.
As the powerful drugs took hold, Annorah lay back, and she waited.
Before long, the fire spoke.
Greetings, Sees-With-One-Eye. You trouble me again?
"I never trouble you, Great Fire, it is you who vex me always. And yes, I am here again, this time to walk properly."
So you seek to walk with us. Why?
"I need answers - answers about the warded child, the frightened woman, the Maggie-Who-Is-Not, the Shadow. I cannot explain my draw to them, but I need to know more than simple seeing would allow. I must walk this."
Are you properly prepared?
Then walk with us.
The sensation of leaving her body behind to walk in the Elemental world was not something Annorah could, or probably would, ever explain. She laughed at the freedom - allowing herself a moment's warmth in Fire before sinking down into Earth to see where the currents of the Bittertongue's Daughter's wards led.
Bittertongue himself had gone south out of the gates, but the frightened woman and the warded girl had not gone that way.
Annorah turned towards the city instead, running as a Spirit Wolf through the paths and roads of Stormwind, searching for the disruption that meant that something Earth could not see had passed by. Finding the faintest inkling of something out of place, she went north. North through the Steppes, and past the Firelord's Mountain. (She kept well clear of there.) North through the snowy hills, only to find that the trail died out at the gates of Ironforge.
Earth's soft voice vibrated through her being. This is as far as I can find them.
Walking with the Elements was beyond senses and sensations, but still fragments of them remained. A shadow moved at the corner of her perception, and she felt Earth's voice again.
It is still here. The abomination. Did you bring it?
"I did not. I seek to find it, to stop it."
The shadow did not see her yet, but it moved around as though searching. Instinctively, she froze, allowing herself to be one with Earth, solid and unmoving. Spirit Walking usually didn't result in actual danger... but this thing was different, uncomfortable and out of place in the realm of the Elements.
Without warning, it took off North again, leaving behind a thin, almost oily-residue as a trail.
Annorah left Earth and allowed herself to reside in Air - traveling was faster that way, and the... shadow thing seemed to leave behind more of a trace there than the Earth based wards had left of the frightened woman and the child. She followed it, allowing the wind to carry her along through the highlands and up into the thick forests of the Northern Kingdoms - only to find the trail disappear just past the Dwarven settlement there.
Settling back down into Earth, the shaman sought out the Element who, as yet, had been silent.
"A blessing on all Dwarves..."
The fires of Aerie Peak burned brightly, and she settled comfortably into one of them.
Fire's voice rumbled through her veins. Do not pursue it further.
"What is it?"
Do not pursue it further. It is not of our make. It is not of our being. It is... death and shadow.
It is also still here.
With a shrill scream, the shadowed thing burst through her being, extinguishing the fire entirely. The dwarven guards sat upright - their fire now cold and dead and a woman's screeching carrying on the wind.
Annorah's mind flooded with the magic of death, and she rose out of the cold ash, letting Air's breath carry her high above the land; she saw the spires of Caer Darrow wrapped in the spidery flicker of Shadow.
The shadow thing passed through her again, chasing her.
The shaman dropped through the ground, seeking refuge in the cold depths of Earth, only to find it still on her heels. Farther down she found Water and let it wash her away towards the oceans. There, in Water's great depths, she found herself alone again.
Annorah allowed herself to sweep along in the currents of Water back south towards Stormwind. She was vaguely aware of her physical body stirring - her time was running out, and soon she would wake from the trance. Finding the harbor, the shaman slipped into the form of a ghostly wolf - the form of Spirit - and slipped back onto Earth, speeding towards the place where she'd left her physical form, only to come face to face - there in the world of the Elements - with the grinning visage of a she-fox.
"What do you hunt, little wolf?"
Annorah sniffed the vixen, and found no trace of evil. Anger, hatred even - but no shadow, and no death. Tell her, she will take it to the one who needs to know - Air's voice whispered on the wind, and she wondered if the fox could hear.
"I hunt a being of shadow, a warded child, and a frightened woman."
"And did you find them, or have you simply failed like all others have failed." The fox's voice dripped with bitterness.
"I found not the child or the woman. I found the shadow, and it is in the North, in Caer Darrow. In the school of Necromancy, I have seen it burning." Annorah felt the pull towards her body, stronger now. Her fingers stirred, waking from deep enchantment.
"Go shaman. I will tell him. And if you lie, I will hunt you as I hunt those that have been lost."
Annorah nodded, saying nothing. She sped back through the gates of the city and found her body, untouched and cold, the fire long burned down to coals and the sun just creeping over the horizon.
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