Many thanks to semiiramiis for making sure I stay accurate to the lore, as well as inspiring me to write this.
This is the first part of what is planned out to be a two or three part series. All of the events in part one take place just prior to the start of the War of the Ancients, all the way through until the Sundering. It will follow the revised version of history, that can be found in the War of the Ancients Trilogy, written by Richard Knaak. Though it will follow the events of the book, it focuses more on my characters, Tyrande, and the twins than it does Krasus, Brox and Rhonin.
This is an OC x Illidan centered fic, but it will take some time to get to that point. Most of this first part is character development (and therefore, how characters appear to act/be, will change significantly as they grow) and is rated accordingly. However, that will likely change in future parts. I plan on trying to update about once every week to two weeks.
Lastly, thanks to Arenoptara as always for beta-reading for grammar and story structure. She is the reason my writing is where it is today. Enjoy!
World of Warcraft, Warcraft, The War of the Ancients Trilogy, all of the characters involved, etc, are all copyright to Blizzard Entertainment. If you recognize it, I don't own it.
Suramar was a city well known for its extravagance, its splendor. With Zin-Azshari, the seat of the palace, so close by, their benevolent Queen wouldn't have it any other way. It was a city that very clearly indicated to any who gazed upon its architecture, that whatever race lived within its walls, held nature in very high regard. The grand, colossal trees twisted upwards towards the sky throughout the entire capital, and formed edifices that surrounded the grandiose sanctuary found at its epicenter. Pathways of soil, lined with lanterns hung upon bowed curves of wood, wound throughout the outer perimeter of the city, leading inwards to the stone-paved Main Square.
There, luxurious stairs led the way to the entrance of the Temple of the Moon, which was by far the largest building in the entire metropolis. The massive structure was assembled entirely of white marble stone, which in and of itself was an uncharacteristic choice for building material. After nightfall, when the pale rays of moonlight reflected off the alabaster masonry, the entire Temple appeared to glow-true to the deity it had been erected for. It was the foundation of the Night Elves' culture, the place of worship for their Goddess Elune.
It was there, on this particular evening -morning, for other races who were not nocturnal- that Eliana Starhelm, a young novice in training to become a priestess of the Sisterhood of Elune, was supposed to be. Instead however, she could be found buried under her warm, pelt blanket, in her own bedroom.
As the moon's pale, silver beams peeked above the lofty trees, it slowly turned the leaves from a bright, verdant shade to a muted, deep olive. The rich scent of moss and hearty wood permeated the city-for in reality, it was the city. When the familiar and comfortable scent reached Eliana's nostrils, she breathed in deeply in content and rolled onto her side, tugging the furry pelt cover with her. A soft, gentle sigh left her lips and she drifted between the world of dreams and the world of the living.
Until a knock interrupted her sleep.
"Eli! Eliana, are you awake yet?" A strong, male voice called out to her from the other side of her rounded, wooden door.
She grunted in denial and the owner of the voice laughed once, before turning the handle. When the door swung open, a tall male with the deepest cobalt shade of hair, held up in a partial topknot that allowed the rest of his thick mane to hang down his back, stepped into her room. Unlike Eliana's rather uncommon pale lavender skin tone, his was the more run-of-the-mill violet shade, which contrasted with his cool-toned hair. The dark, grey-green leather he was adorned in, that was nearly the same shade of the leaves at this very moment, creaked with every step he took.
When he finally reached her bedside and looked down at her with luminescent silver eyes, he shook his head at her in amusement. "Do you ever rise on time, Eli?"
By now, the moon's radiance had started to invade Eliana's room through the makeshift window that two large branches formed just above her bed. She threw her arm over her eyes to block out the light, though it paled in comparison to the sun's blinding rays.
"I do not know what you speak of, Cyth. I am always on time," she replied dryly, her voice hoarse from being used for the first time that night.
A slow smile spread across Cytheas Nightfeather's face, as he said, "Really? Is that why you are still home and not at the Temple at moonrise, on your first day as a novice?"
"What are you-" A gasp escaped from Eliana then as she realized what he had said, and she shot straight up in bed. "Oh gods that be, it is my first day! Why did you not come wake me sooner?!" the female exclaimed, as she scrambled out of bed, trying to disentangle herself from her pelts.
Cytheas chuckled as he stepped backwards to give Eliana the room she needed to frantically grab her belongings from around the room. "I thought you would remember. Besides, I am not your keeper-I am your friend."
"Yes, and a good, true friend, would have woken me sooner!" Eliana cried, as she picked up her plain, chestnut-colored sandals and raced out of her room, quickly descending the circular staircase that ran along the inner perimeter of her home.
Cytheas trailed after her, his boots thudding on the wooden floors. "Well, a true friend would have stopped by, knowing his closest friend would not rise on time, to give her a ride to the Temple."
At that, Eliana whirled around, her eyebrow raised and a slice of spiced bread held between her mauve-colored lips. She took it out of her mouth briefly to ask, "Ah, so you expected me not to be punctual?"
"Well…I do know you. Il'hadras is waiting outside."
"You brought Illy? I haven't seen her in ages," she replied, as she bent down to place the sandals on her feet. When she straightened, she glanced around her kitchen before her eyebrows furrowed. "Was my father here when you arrived?"
"Ardrias? No, I did not see him. I assumed he had already gone into the forest."
"Hmm. You are probably right. Well, I will simply have to speak with him later. We should leave," Eliana stated, as she brushed past Cytheas and headed out the front door. Cytheas rolled his eyes at Eliana's abrupt change in thought, and followed her out into the wooded area.
A magnificent, white and black striped Frostsaber was laying on the cool blades of grass in front of the home, and Eliana slowly sidled up to it, running her fingers through its soft, downy fur. Fondly, she whispered, "Hello Illy, I have missed you. Why has your owner not brought you around lately, hm?"
At Eliana's soft coos, the beast purred in delight. Before Cytheas approached the two females, he muttered, "You get more attention from her than I do, Il'hadras."
"What was that, Cyth?"
"Nothing, Eli, nothing. Let me hop on first. After I drop you off at the Temple, I have to head out to Black Rook."
"So early?" Eliana asked, as she stepped back so that Il'hadras could rise for her master to mount her.
Cytheas grasped the pommel of the ornate, jeweled saddle and pulled himself up, swinging his leg over the Frostsaber's side. Once he was settled as far forward as he could be without risking the very thing that made him a male, he stretched his hand out to Eliana, who grasped it firmly. With Cytheas' help, she hopped into the saddle behind him and laced her arms around his slim, but muscular midsection.
He quickly glanced over his shoulder at her-she sputtered when the tips of his long hair whipped her in the face-and asked, "Are you settled?"
When she hummed in affirmation, he squeezed Il'hadras' sides with his inner thighs and the unyielding mount shot forward, towards Suramar's Main Square. Conversation was ill advised, given the sheer speed of the monstrous sabercat. Also, Cytheas' hair was thrashing wildly in the wind so Eliana was forced to tuck her face into her chest, and rested her cheek on her friend's back. The forest hued leather he was garbed in was warm from his body heat, and she closed her eyes, reveling in the comforting sensation. Although she would have loved to feel the wind in her own snow white hair, this was an acceptable alternative.
Eventually, Il'hadras' paws padded on stone instead of dirt, and they slowed to a prancing walk. Eliana raised her head and opened her own silver eyes, gazing at the stalls that surrounded them. They were in the Main Square now, where merchants set up shop every single day to try to rid themselves of their ware, and put coin in their pockets. The cacophonous sound of their efforts to sell, along with the conversations that the inhabitants carried on, swirled around Eliana and Cytheas as they made their way to the Temple of the Moon.
Because she'd been admiring the city's magnificence, Eliana was caught off guard when Il'hadras lurched to a stop, and her face collided with Cytheas' back. "Oomph," she grunted, as she cradled her nose that was now stinging in pain.
"Sorry, I thought you realized that we had arrived," Cytheas said, by way of an apology.
Eliana slid off of the saddle, and came around to stand in front of the Frostsaber and her master. She glanced up at Cytheas, as she absentmindedly petted the ridge of the mount's snout. "So you head out to Black Rook now?"
"Only for the day," he replied, as Il'hadras shifted restlessly, anxious to be on the move again. "I will return before sunrise."
Eliana nodded and turned to head up the steps into the Temple. She'd barely placed her foot upon the lowest white, marble step, when Cytheas called out to her, "Eli?"
She turned to face him, a slender white eyebrow raised in question.
"Good luck on your first day," he encouraged, with a gentle smile gracing his lips.
Returning the gesture, she waved lightly and continued to race up the stairs. From behind her, she could hear Il'hadras' heavy paws pounding on the stones, and the sound faded into the distance.
In an attempt to remain undiscovered, Eliana slinked behind a pair of priestesses and followed them closely into the main area, the Chamber of the Moon. Their sandals tapped softly on the mosaic tiled floor, and Eliana found herself struck with awe at the sight of the room.
The Chamber of the Moon was located directly in the center of the Temple, and was the only room in the establishment that was open to the sky. This allowed Elune's presence to reach her disciples unfettered; at the moment, because the moon had risen to her apex in the night sky, her soft, pale rays of illuminated the rectangular room. The musical conversation of birds native to the forest surrounded Eliana, and she hummed along to their cheerful melodies. Soft murmurs from her fellow priestesses cocooned her and she sighed deeply, content. A slight crosswind drifted through the room and the gentle breeze caressed her cheek, causing a few strands of her hair to lightly ripple in the current.
Eliana shifted her gaze from above her to below, and gasped at the sheer beauty of the mosaic floor. The colorful tiles wound around the entire room, depicting the yearly cycles of the moon. Every so often, an iridescent white tile had been inlaid between the other tiles, and the effect was beautiful: as the pearly decorations caught the moon's beams, the floor seemed to shimmer.
Unfortunately, Eliana had not realized how long she'd been admiring the sights and from behind her, someone quietly cleared their throat. She winced at being caught, and slowly turned around to face who she assumed was the High Priestess. Instead, another initiate in a silver, hooded robe stood before her, with a slender hand placed gently on her hip. When she reached up and lowered her hood, Eliana broke into a smile of recognition and ran to the other female, hugging her tightly.
"Tyrande!" Eliana exclaimed.
Tyrande Whisperwind laughed softly, as she returned Eliana's embrace. "Eliana, you are late. We expected you at moonrise."
"Oh yes. I uh, I slept in. Cytheas had to come by and give me a ride."
"What would you do without him?" the older female asked, as she sighed in exasperation.
"I honestly do not know. Is the High Priestess angry?"
Tyrande shook her head, her dark navy locks swinging back and forth. "No. Luckily, you picked the perfect day to be behind. We are preparing for the Ritual of the Moon, and High Priestess Dejahna has been gathering resources, and enlisting the aid of those who are already priestesses to help with preparations."
"The Ritual? Is that not in a fortnight?"
"It is, but the celebration festival is next week. You and I will be learning the traditions involved before then."
After Tyrande spoke, she turned and headed for the inner sanctum of the Temple, beckoning for Eliana for follow. "Come, we should present you to the High Priestess."
At that, Eliana clasped her hands tightly together, and her palms began to sweat. She tried to swallow but her throat had seemed to close up on her. With quick breaths, she trailed after her friend, into the depths of the Temple of the Moon.
Eliana was kneeling on the floor, in the Chamber of the Moon, her small hands raised in front of her chest. Her slender fingers were laced together and her head bowed, with thick tresses of her alabaster hair hanging down in front of her face. The pale silver robes she had received earlier, that indicated that she was a novice of the Sisterhood of Elune, pooled around her and spread across the floor, obscuring the tiled depiction of the moon's cycles.
So engrossed was she in her nightly prayer, that she did not hear the sound of approaching footsteps. When the person in question laid a hand gently on Eliana's shoulder, she started and a soft gasp left her lips, as her eyes shot open. She glanced over her shoulder hastily, and was surprised to see her friend again so soon.
"Tyrande? You frightened me!" Eliana exclaimed, in a voice that was louder than was appropriate for a Temple.
An apologetic smile graced Tyrande's full lips, and she whispered, "I am sorry, Eliana. I was only wondering what you were still doing at the Temple at this hour."
The other female nodded and explained, "It is nearly sunrise."
Eliana stood quickly, her lower legs prickling with pain from sitting for too long. "Sunrise? I had not realized I had been praying for that long."
The two females traipsed out of the room and into the antechamber of the Temple, which was illuminated softly with the warm glow of the lanterns hanging from the walls. From between the grand columns that lined the perimeter of the Temple, the dusky night sky, tainted with the lavender and ruby shades of the impending sunrise, littered with glittering stars. Eliana sighed at the beauty of it. Tyrande glanced down at the younger female in understanding, and they shared a knowing look, as they descended the marble steps into the Main Square of the city.
At the base of the staircase, Il'hadras sat patiently, her white fur standing out like a beacon so close to the break of day, as the sky bordered on the cusp of the opposite times. She was resting on her haunches and gazing up at Eliana expectantly, as her master stood beside her, his arms crossed. When Eliana spotted the two, her forehead creased in confusion and she hurried down the remaining steps, coming to a stop in front of Cytheas.
"What are you two doing here?" she asked, surprise coloring her words.
"Well I did drop you off this morning. You did not expect me to just force you to walk home, did you?" he chided, his voice low.
"Truthfully, I did not expect you to return to the Temple tonight. I thought you would just head straight home, since you said you would be away all day."
Finally, Tyrande caught up with them and she nodded in greeting to Cytheas, who returned the gesture. "Cytheas Nightfeather. I have not seen you in quite some time. How are you?"
Cytheas bowed slightly and when he straightened, he replied, "I have been well, Tyrande. And you?"
A gentle smile spread across Tyrande's face. "Well, thank you."
He turned to Eliana and indicated that she should get on Il'hadras. Eliana narrowed her eyes at Cytheas underhanded command, but acquiesced and clambered onto the Frostsaber. Once she was settled, Cytheas adjusted the reins and whispered, "I need to speak with you about something, so that is why I came by."
"It could not wait until tomorrow?" Eliana whispered back.
"Obviously not," he retorted, and turned to face Tyrande again. "Oh, I forgot to mention. Malfurion was looking for you, Tyrande. He and Illidan were over on the other side of the Square."
Tyrande tilted her head slightly, as she lowered her eyebrows in thought. "Malfurion was? Thank you, Cytheas. I shall go search for them," she said, as she wandered off into the crowd, waving goodbye to Eliana.
Cytheas climbed up into the saddle, behind Eliana this time, and she handed him the reins. With his arms on either side of her, he nudged Il'hadras into motion and they slowly made their way out of the city. It wasn't until the stone pathways of the Main Square were behind them, that Eliana broke the silence.
"So, Cyth...you saw Illidan?"
A dry chuckle left Cytheas before he replied. "You picked up on that, hm? Yes, I saw both of the twins this night."
Though Eliana could not see his face, Cytheas rolled his eyes at her vague reply. "Oh, out with it, Eliana. I know you want to ask about him."
"Am I that transparent?"
"When it comes to Illidan Stormrage, yes. You have had your eye set on him for how many years now?"
"Not that long," she said defensively.
"No, just since we were younglings. So what is that, half your life?" Cytheas teased.
Eliana turned slightly in the saddle and bashed her friend on the arm. He yelped and rubbed his bicep, his face scrunched up in mock offense. She shook her head at his teasing and sighed in annoyance.
In an attempt to change the subject, Eliana asked, "So what was it that you wished to speak with me about?"
Cytheas fell silent at her question and when he hadn't replied after a few moments, Eliana turned again, to look up at him. His expression was far more serious than she expected and she furrowed her eyebrows in concern. "Cyth, it is not bad news, is it?"
"No, no. It is not bad. We will speak of it when we get to your home."
"Well...if you insist," Eliana replied softly, as she faced forward in the saddle again.
With the atmosphere between them tense, they continued towards Eliana's home at a leisurely pace. She tried to enjoy the light breeze that caressed her skin and ruffled through her hair, but her mind refused to be at ease.
What could Cyth possibly need to speak to me about that is not bad, but that he cannot say now?
Finally, Il'hadras came to a stop in front of Eliana's home, and Cytheas hopped off, landing silently on the layer of leaves that lined the forest floor. He raised his arms up and Eliana turned to face him, grasping his biceps tightly. Placing his hands on her sides, he lifted her off of Il'hadras, brushing her ribcage softly with his thumbs, and planted her solidly on the ground in front of him.
His hands lingered for a moment, until Eliana shifted at the prolonged contact, confused and slightly uncomfortable at the way her skin was tingling. He dropped them quickly and cleared his throat.
"So...what was it that you wished to say?" Eliana asked softly, as she gazed up at him from under her thick lashes.
"Oh uh...the uh, the Festival of the Moon is fast approaching," he said, his voice shaking slightly.
Eliana's face scrunched up in confusion and slowly, she replied, "Yes, yes it is. Tyrande told me that we are to be preparing for it soon. Why do you mention it?"
Cytheas' hand came up and he rubbed the back of his neck. Avoiding making eye contact with her, he murmured, "I was wondering if you would be attending with anyone."
"Well, I will be there with my sisters, yes."
"I see. I was...wondering if you would like to go together?"
"Together? You mean...only the two of us? Alone?"
Hesitantly, he nodded. Eliana looked down at her feet and shuffled in place, unsure of what to say. Out of all the things Cytheas could have asked, this was not one of the options she had considered. When she still had not replied after a minute or so, Cytheas sighed.
"It is alright if you do not wish to go with me. I understand, Eliana."
"It is not that, I just...you caught me off guard. I do not know what to say, honestly," she mumbled.
"Think about it then, will you? I will come by first thing in the morning to take you to the Temple again."
She nodded and Cytheas climbed atop Il'hadras once more, lifting the reins in his hand. With a slight wave to Eliana, he and his Frostsaber raced off into the new day. Eliana watched them fade into the distance, uncertainty clouding her thoughts. Cytheas had never considered her in that light before, or at least she didn't think he had, so why would he start now?
As she stood there, staring off into the forest, she realized that when Cytheas had asked if she were going to the festival with any other, though she had denied that she was, there was someone that she wished to attend with.
A wave of guilt washed over her then, because when her closest friend had taken the initiative to begin courting her, Illidan Stormrage's face had flashed through her mind.
A/N: Reviews, or I sic Illidan on you! :D Joking, but really, they're much appreciated :)