A rather muscular Night Elf stood atop a large sand dune in a seemingly barren wasteland. He wore a kilt, dressed with gray feathers at its side. A beige chain hung around his waist with a large orange pendant positioned in the center of the kilt at his hips. The remainder of the kilt was fashioned with a faded orange cloth. His chest was bare but he wore pouldrons on his shoulders crafted from the same feathers that were all over the kilt. His bracer's, as well, were lined with feathers but they were mostly made of green leather. The shoulder-pieces were apparently held together with this same green leather. He clasped a large staff in his hand that seemed to be shaped into a bear paw at the top. His teal colored hair hung down his face, parted to both sides, and the same hair, albeit much more scruffy, covered his chin.
"Fandral Staghelm..." the wind spoke as it blew past.
The Night Elf looked up curiously as the wind threw the sand into a flurry, spun around, and gave it the shape of a funnel. The mouth, if one could call it that, was formed with clumps of mud.
"I sense a great disturbance in the dunes of southern Kalimdor," the sand creature added. "Now," he paused. "It is time to gather those who you deem worthy of acceptance into the council. Elune has need of your aid!" the beast shouted as the sand dropped back into the dunes.
Fandral awoke from his meditation and immediately began preparing several notes. He attached the scrolls to the legs of eight wild stormcrows and commanded them to deliver the messages to each of the eight members Hamuul and himself had selected to join the government of the druids, the Cenarion Council.
Two days later, a pair of figures were walking through Ashenvale Forest. One was noticeably larger than the other and each were completely concealed by a cloak. The larger one was covered in the white one, and the smaller one wore a violet one.
"I think it would be wise if we set up camp tonight," suggested the larger one. "The sun is setting and we will need to keep warm."
The two set out to search for firewood and had a fire going roughly a half hour later. They removed their hoods and the large one had the face of a bull, a Tauren, while the smaller one had fair purple skin and green hair that was styled back, obviously a Night Elf.
"Adarin," the Tauren spoke, "Did you hear me?" Adarin snapped in attention.
"I apologize Rahoda. My mind was wandering," Adarin explained.
"It is okay. We will reach the base of Stonetalon tomorrow morning and make the climb to the Peaks first thing, but for now we rest up."
Adarin laid down next to the fire, on the opposite side that Rahoda did, and his mind continued to wander. He thought about long ago when Rahoda and Adarin had ventured deep into Maraudon alongside several others, though Rahoda was the last one standing when they fought Princess Theradras. He thought even farther into the past, back to a time when he was a mere child. Memories that weren't even whole anymore, they were simply fragments of time. Such was the long lived life of a Night Elf. Seconds later, Adarin was unconscious beside the cozy fire and he began to dream of the events that happened two days ago.
It was high noon, the time when the Night Elves were at their weakest for the sun was at its peak. Many heroes had joined the fight against The Burning Legion in an attempt to retake Zin-Azshari. Most of these heroes were not known by this title yet, but each would one day affect the entirety of the world, many times over. A time when Illidan Stormrage would battle along side the time-lost Rhonin, facing demons from another realm; A Night Elf fighting alongside an alien ally from the future, foreshadowing the alliance that would one day take place when the threat of The Burning Legion would return a second time.
All this seemed highly unlikely at the moment. However the circumstance came to be did not matter. What did matter was the legion of demons charging towards the prepared Night Elven forces.
The army readied itself for the assault as an order from the commanding officer, Lord Kur'talos Ravencrest, shouted to the archers, telling them to knock their bows and fire on command. Among these archers was a young boy, who was obviously not quite ready for the chaos that was about to unfold before him. His hair was green, and was cut pretty short.
He wore a simple leather outfit that was far too large for his physique. The leggings were hugged tight to his body, with a band of studded-leather around the hips. His vest, however, barely fit his small shoulders. Two straps, attached to the leggings, were wrapped around his shoulders, crisscrossing over his chest and back. Aside from the bow, he had a quiver on his right hip filled with a dozen or so arrows. On the other side, a sheath concealing a long sword weighed him down.
A Night Elf to his right, who was donned in the same outfit, appeared to fill it much more efficiently. He called the boy by name.
"Adarin, remember, concentrate on your target," instructed the obviously much more battle oriented elf.
"Yes, Master Setesh," replied Adarin. With what little time they had to prepare themselves for the battle, Setesh had taken Adarin under his wing, teaching him what he could about the art of war. Although he only knew him for less than a handful of days, Adarin respected his teacher. He rescued him from the clutches of a Felhound, as it was draining every bit of his life out of him. After being saved, Ravencrest had suggested that Adarin accompany them on their mission to retake their ancient city.
Setesh knew that Ravencrest had been desperate for troops, but considering the fact that a mere boy, barely able to hold the bow that he now aimed, stood awaiting the coming of beasts he couldn't dream about in the most twisted of nightmares.
And then it happened, Ravencrest's hand dropped and a volley of arrows surged toward the hulking monstrosities. Adarin's reaction was a bit late but it mattered little. A flurry of bolts rushed toward the demon's front line, catching them off guard. It upset Adarin that he would never know if that arrow actually hit anyone. It was rather likely, though, as hundreds of beasts toppled over, face-first into the dirt. If the actual impact of the arrow had killed any of the beasts was uncertain, but it did not matter. They would likely be crushed under the weight of an entire army marching on top of them.
With little time to rejoice, Ravencrest threw his hand in the air again, signaling to prepare for another volley. Adarin knocked another arrow into position and when the hand fell he released the string. It had seemed, however, that the creatures were learning. The majority of them threw their shields up. That strategy would likely not work again.
"All support units, fall to the back! All melee units, advance to the front line!" Ravencrest ordered. They had discussed their strategy, over and over again, before the battle had begun, so Adarin knew exactly where he was supposed to be and what he was supposed to do. He was part of the support team, which mainly consisted of archers, but the wizard Rhonin and the magically adept Illidan stood with them.
"Now is the time for battle… CHARGE!" screamed Ravencrest, as he motivated the troops with his bloodcurdling battle cry.
Rhonin threw his arms to the sky, as he shouted in some strange language he had never heard before, and Adarin could realize what had happened, as the ground beneath their adversaries began to ripple, sending dirt into the once clear sky. The only thing that could be heard was the clashing of metal weapons with armor and demonic howls.
Adarin raised his bow. Unlike before, his aim had to be precise. He could not afford to miss and hit one of his allies. He steadied his aim and released his grip. The arrow had been intended for the Felhounds in the frontline and the arrow had hit its target, albeit not where he intended it to. He had aimed for the head but the projectile had instead hit the lupine-like creature's tentacle, taking it right off. The arrow continued on, past its intended target, finally ending its path in the throat of one of The Legions warriors. He had heard them called Felguards before, and had gathered that they were the backbone of the army.
The arrow had knocked the demon on its knees, as he gasped for air. One of the Night Elven soldiers leapt into the air, bringing his spear right into the chest of the foul abomination. Adarin took a moment to gather all the excitement in. Any doubt he had before of whether his first shot had hit had been completely washed away. It seemed that he had a knack for aim. He glanced over at Illidan, who seemed concentrated on a spell.
He knocked another arrow into his bow, and as he surveyed the area for another target, noticed several large black tentacles grow from the ground and wrap themselves around several of the Felguards necks. A few of the tentacles had wrapped themselves around the body of the Felhounds, as well, and as their grip tightened they seared the monstrosities in two.
Adarin fired his bow towards the Felhounds at the front again. With dead precision, the arrow had positioned itself conveniently into the beasts head, sending it crashing to the ground. Adarin reached for his quiver, pulling back another arrow. He fired his arrow, along with scores of other archers simultaneously, high up into the sky, aimed towards the back of the demonic army.
They only made it halfway, however, before some magical force had sent them plummeting back towards the Night Elves infantry. Adarin looked to his right for a hint of what to do. Setesh stood there, frozen in fear. The boy reached over and shook him, attempting to snap him out of the trance but it was too late. One of the arrows that had come flying back had lodged itself in his forehead. He fell to the ground immediately. Searching the battlefield, Adarin had noticed that the same thing had happened to several other archers around him.
Dropping his bow, he reached for the long sword but before he could unsheathe it, he was struck in the shoulder by the same arrow he had fired moments before. Adarin fell like a ton of bricks.
Awaken young Night Elf... You have much to do, said a calming female voice from inside his conscience.
Adarin awoke in his bed, much older and much wiser. Instinctively, he grabbed his right shoulder, running his fingers over a large scar. It had been more than ten thousand years since that day where he fell in battle, but he could remember it as if it were yesterday. More oddly, the voice that had called to him sounded eerily familiar, yet he shook it off as merely part of his dream.
The grown Elf peered out the window, as he realized the moon was nearing its peak. Outside the window was a sheer black stormcrow with a message attached to its talon. Barely clothed, he walked over to the bird, untied the parcel, and read it aloud.
"Adarin Dreamwalker, you have been chosen to represent the Cenarion Council. Gather your things and meet us at Nighthaven Hall. Fandral & Hamuul."
He quickly dressed himself as the stormcrow flew towards where the horizon should have been. He donned a large violet robe and pulled the hood over his head. The shoulders of the robe were studded in brown leather, as were the elbows. As he walked out of the house, he grabbed a cloth belt, tying it around his waist and slid on some wooden sandals.
Ten minutes later he arrived in Nighthaven Hall, the meeting place of the Arch Druids. Located in the mountains, outside Nighthaven, there were two druids who had already arrived there. They stood next to each other and both eyed Adarin as he entered the sacred room. In the center of the sanctuary stood a statue that was obviously dedicated to the great forest lord Cenarius. Adarin walked over to the other two people and stood next to them, bowing before each. The man on the left wore a blue robe, very similar to his own. Adarin recognized this man as Fandral Staghelm, the Arch Druid of Night Elven society. The same Fandral who had sent him the invitation. The man on the right, he was unfamiliar with, but by his garments he could tell that he, too, was a druid of great respect. Adarin assumed he was Hamuul, the person who cosigned the message. Judging by his size, he could tell that he was a member of the Tauren. In ages past, only Night Elves were granted the powers of Cenarius, but after the Third War, when the Kaldorei lost their immortality, the only way to keep the tradition of druidism alive, was to allow the induction of other races.
Seven other shrouded figures entered the room over a period of time, aligning themselves in a circle, around the statue. Each wore the same robe, albeit with a different color scheme.
"You have all been summoned here today because a great darkness has overcome our people," spoke the wise Fandral. "And that darkness was the second coming of The Burning Legion. Several of our key advisers had their lives taken in the war, and that is why you are here. You are their replacements. Look around you, know the people who are in this room. Learn to trust them, for we all will be the future of our society."
Adarin surveyed the room. There were ten people total, each with hoods on as to mask their identity. Five of them were Night Elves, he could tell by their general physique. Three stood as tall as the Cenarius statue, itself. Adarin had only seen a Tauren a few times during the Third War, but he had seen plenty during the War of the Ancients in ages past. He knew them enough to identify them by sight. The last two, however, were a total mystery. They were slightly smaller than the average Night Elf, but seemed to be as stocky as the bull-men who stood among them. It was clear, however, that these were not Tauren, nor were they Night Elves.
"We have gathered here today to discuss the standing of the Cenarion Circle," said Fandral. "But first, there are several new faces among us since the absence of Malfurion. I must ask that all members of the council step forward and state your name." Fandral took the initiative, stepping inside the circle. "I am Arch Druid Fandral Staghelm, taking over for Malfurion in this time of great need," he finished, stepping back.
The Tauren who had been standing with Fandral stepped in, removing his red hood. He was a creature who had seen much battle. His left horn had been partially cracked, leaving only half of it remaining. "I am known as Hamuul Runetotem, Arch Druid of the Tauren race."
A figure with a teal robe stepped forward, with a noticeably smaller shape than the other Night Elves of the council. "I am Sylia Silvermane, first female representative of the druid nation."
"And I would be second…" A female Tauren, wearing a black robe, stepped forward, removing her hood. "My name is Bashana Runetotem, offspring of the Arch Druid Hamuul."
A Night Elven man stepped in, removing his gray hood.His features were very avian, with his nose looking all-too similar to a beak. "I, Tethis Ironfeather, am here on behalf of the Druids of the Talon, willing to offer my assistance in any way possible."
Adarin stepped forward, removing his violet hood. "I am Adarin Dreamwalker, survivor of The War Of The Ancients, and I dedicate my every breath to the Cenarion Circle."
Another large Tauren stepped into the circle, and pulled back his white hood. His fur coat was a dark brown, it was blatantly obvious who he was by the scar across his face.. "My name is Rahoda Cloudbreaker. Many of you may know me as the one who slayed Princess Theradras and freed Celebras from corruption deep inside the caverns of Maraudon."
Adarin knew Rahoda very well. He had heard stories of how he was raised in the wild by Kodo Beasts, though he was not sure if any of the rumors were true. He did know that the Tauren was very thick headed and cocky.
The final Night Elf stood forward; removing his orange hood it was apparent that this man had seen many battles as well. Scars stretched from one side of his face to the other as his silver hair reached toward the earth. "I am the great Enron Windstrider. I have traveled here from Cenarion Hold, and we have much to discuss. I am afraid to inform you that there is much more at stake here than Fandral has been yet to reveal," he argued, as he was quickly cut off by Hamuul.
"Hold your tongue, Enron. Let the introductions finish…" shouted Fandral, as Hamuul nodded in agreement.
The final two robed figures removed their hoods, one of which was green and the other brown. They were about five feet tall, rather stocky, and clad in fur. Adarin could recognize them as Furbolgs, but these were no Furbolgs that he knew of. The only survivors of their race were the Timbermaw, but he had made many trips to their refuge of Timbermaw Hold. It was only a couple minutes walk from Nighthaven and he had pretty good relations with them. These two were different, however, and of this he was certain.
"I am Skorn," he said, removing his green hood.
"And I am his brother, Elastuul," spoke the brown robed figure.
Skorn continued. "We come on behalf of the Stillpine Tribe of the Azuremyst Isles."
With the exception of Hamuul and Fandral, the six other druids, including Adarin, stared at the bear-men in awe not knowing how to accept the recent addition.
"Contrary to what may be believed amongst your kind, we have survived the taint of the recent war that has befallen so many of our people. We come to you seeking a method to heal our brethren along side the Timbermaw Tribe to restore peace to the Furbolg race," stated Skorn.
"We will aid you in any way that we can. Though we have just recently been inducted into the Cenarion Circle, our people have been practicing druidism almost as long as the Night Elves, and I think the council as a whole benefits by having us as representatives for our kind," added Elastuul.
"Very well," interrupted Enron. "Shall we get down to business then?" Fandral gave him a nod of approval and he continued. "The infestation in Silithus bas become increasingly hostile as of late. I fear the worst. I have been opted by my people to bring this to the attention of the Cenarion Circle."
"And we understand this," replied Hamuul. "But we are currently trying to delve into the problem with The Nightmare. Malfurion is trapped, and has possibly been made into an Unwaking. These are our biggest concerns now."
"And that is where you are wrong. I feel a strange connection between what lies behind the Scarab Wall and what is affecting The Emerald Dream. Does it not at all seem suspicious, that as soon as the Dream is corrupted, the Silithid gather in full force? I find it highly unlikely… and I assure you that measures must be taken to dispose of disgusting insects," Enron argued.
"What exactly are you suggesting?" Hamuul asked, as Fandral raised his head in curiosity.
"I propose that we reassemble the Scepter of the Shifting Sands and abolish the threat that lies behind the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj to deal with the overpopulating Silithid!" Enron explained. "I feel as if something is amiss deep beneath the sands of Silithis, the epicenter of this all."
"What you ask of us is madness!" Fandral shouted. "You dare suggest that we open the Scarab Wall after so many years? Do you not remember the loss we suffered before?"
"This is true, wise Arch Druid. I clearly remember the death of your son in addition to countless others, but the times have changed. Regardless, you are not giving the idea considerable thought. The barrier that was erected by the bronze dragonflight to hold them back is slowly weakening. I am told that it will be less than two cycles of the moon before the magical shield collapses. Would it not be better to take the initiative, especially considering that our numbers are more vast, and our allies far greater. We must make a preemptive strike, and end this once and for all," argued Enron.
"Hmmm, this complicates things," grumbled Hamuul. "I propose that we distribute our numbers and gather as much information as we can regarding both issues."
"Very well, I will venture to Cenarion Hold, accompanied by Sylia, Tethis, and Elastuul, as well as the one who proposed this idea in the idea in the first place, Enron," said Fandral, "to investigate the problem in Silithus."
"And I will take the remaining druids; Bashana, Adarin, Rahoda, and Skorn. We will investigate as to what is disturbing the Dream," added Hamuul.
Later that day, Enron had spoken with Adarin and informed him that the mighty bear spirit in Moonglade wished to speak to him. He stood before the mighty Ursoc of legend, the very same Ursoc that Adarin had watched die some ten thousand years ago. It was because of this creature that he became a druid at all, though he did it for both the strength of the bear and the valor of Setesh, his fallen leader in the War of the Ancients. He was trained in the art of druidism by Malfurion himself shortly after the war ended, alongside Setesh's only child; Enron. The enormous ursine ghost roared as Adarin approached him.
"Adarin, while the others persue a means to defeat the ancient evil behind the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj, your destiny lies elsewhere." the spirit of Ursoc growled. "You must travel to the mountains of Stonetalon, south of Ashenvale, and speak with Keeper Albagorm. He will be able to lead you to the path you must take. More importantly, he will be better able to direct you to an ancient artifact, to combat the coming infestation of Silithus, who's location was entrusted to him long ago," the creature fishished as it he disappeared.
Adarin awoke from the dream in Ashenvale the next day and felt fully relieved of exhaustion. He glanced over at Rahoda and walked over to his seemingly lifeless body as he kicked him to wake him up. The sleeping Tauren shot up quick.
"The sun has risen. We should continue to the base of the Stonetalon Mountains," Adarin suggested.