The huntress Yphera sat quietly at the tavern in Lower City, idly staring at the glass of amber-colored drink that she had ordered ten minutes ago. She had only taken a single sip, finding its taste too strong and of no real comfort to her. She actually found more ease just staring at the potent drink, occasionally swirling the cup to watch the glossy liquor spin. Her eyes wandered over to her pet and partner who lie on the ground at her side; a great black lion she had named Sigma. The large cat lifted his head and returned her gaze. Though Sigma wasn't a humanoid, it didn't mean he couldn't keenly sense the mood changes in his mistress.
The lion propped himself up to a sitting position, facing his mistress, his forest green eyes boring into her. She grinned at her pet, her hands reaching out and rubbing his face and ears. Sigma let loose a low rumbling growl in response, the closest he could do to replicate a house cat's purr.
"It's entirely your fault, you know." She scolded quietly, though her tone was light, expressing no anger. Sigma's ears cocked forward. He fully understood his mistress' language though he could not speak it; his motion was his way of asking "Why?"
"You know exactly why…" She continued as if the lion had verbally responded to her. "It's your fault I have to deal with him like this… that I ever met him in the first place… if only you had just listened to me, I would have never…" She trailed off, staring at Sigma. She could almost see the grin coming from her partner even those his facial features didn't allow for such an expression.
"Oh yes… I'm sure you're very smug about it, too." The lion nuzzled her knee, managing to partially hide his massive face from her stern gaze. The blood elf sighed, giving him another firm scratch behind the ears. She wasn't really angry at him, she just didn't want to feel the loneliness she felt now without her other partner, the one who had become her lover. But with the lives they held and some of the paths the both of them had chosen, they weren't together as often as she'd liked. Her feelings for him remained strong but… the loneliness wore on her, to the point of tears some nights, wishing for nothing more than for his presence near her.
Sigma gave her another firm nuzzle, sensing her depression. She smiled, giving him another pat, glad that she had the cat as a companion. The lion always had a way of getting his point across… it only reminded her further of her first meeting with the warlock named Veldruk.
The arrow whizzed past the gnoll's head, missing just by an inch and doing little to nothing in slowing its movements. The creature roared and rushed in towards Yphera as she let fly a second arrow, this one embedding itself in the attacker's shoulder. It jerked back from the force of the blow, slowing it slightly, but not enough to stop it. The gnoll growled, drool dripping from its maw as it started its pursuit once again. The huntress whistled, issuing a mental command to slow her attacker to her newly acquired pet; a magnificent black lion. The lion growled in response, dismissing the order and going after another gnoll that had chosen to wander too close. She cursed as the lion deliberately ignored her command so she chose a different path, spinning on her heels and readying herself to place distance between the gnoll and herself. But when she turned, she froze instead of running forward. Three more gnolls had managed to flank her, the smelly humanoids having now surrounded her.
Yphera brought up her bow, preparing another shot, but the first gnoll that had been charging her had caught up, digging his sharp claws into her arms to cease her movements. She cried out, her hands weakening and dropping her bow. She focused through the pain and struggled to get away; managing to loosen one hand enough to reach down her thigh and grasp her dagger. She flipped the dagger around and thrust it hard behind her. The blade dug deep into the creature's abdomen, causing it to stumble back and howl in pain. When the gnoll released her, she took a few steps to get away, taking up her second dagger and readying it to defend herself. She winced as she turned to face to remaining three. Her arms felt very sore, the wounds bleeding badly; she could feel the blood already trickling down her fingers. She entered a defensive stance as the three gnolls approached her, the scent of her blood only making them all the more eager for a meal.
It was then that the middle gnoll stopped his approach, his eyes growing very wide. It suddenly howled and shrieked out, causing the other two to stop and stare as it coughed and sputtered, blood dripping from his maw and nose. The two gnolls flanking the middle stared in wonder when they suddenly exhibited the same symptoms, thrashing and crying out as blood continued to leak from every orifice. It was only a few seconds before all three of the gnolls fell to the ground, lying very still. Yphera stared wide-eyed, flashing her eyes back and forth over the scene, trying to fathom what had just happened and hoping that they were truly dead.
"Seemed like you needed a little help."
The huntress snapped her head towards the source of the voice. A male blood elf stood nearby, his arms crossed over his chest and a smug smirk adorning his face. She noted his robes, an obvious magic-user of some sort and apparently the reason the three gnolls before her lie dead. Before she could put anymore thought to her rescuer, she collapsed to her knees. She was bleeding much more badly than she realized, suddenly feeling incredibly light-headed. Her vision blurred and the last thing she saw was the male approaching her before she fell over, blacking out from the blood loss.
"Oh, so you're starting to come around now?"
Yphera blinked slowly, groaning as she rolled over from lying on her back. Her head buzzed badly as she propped herself up on her arms, shivering as a blanket fell from her form. She glanced around, realizing it was near dusk… she must have been out for a few hours then. She twisted around, sitting up on her knees, noting the wounds on her arms had been tended and wrapped with a material she had never seen before; magic exuded from the cloth bandages, healing her arms. She touched the dark purple cloth curiously.
"Netherweave. You won't find anything of the like, at least on this continent."
The huntress glanced up at the blood elf who spoke to her, the same male she had encountered after the gnoll attack. He sat across from her, a fire separating them. He had some type of meat he was tending to over the flames. Yphera could now get a better look at him since he was so much closer and realized the elf was incredibly handsome. During her training on Sunstrider Isle, she had encountered few males and all of them managed to be relatively good-looking. But this male… he was much different. He managed to utterly take her breath away. He had long, bright-blonde bangs that fell down to his chest, chiseled facial features with a goatee of the same color as his hair that only enhanced his looks and of course, his bright glowing green eyes, classic of their race. She continued to stare at him, unable to help but admire. Seeing him stirred some sort of feeling within her, it was pleasant, but entirely too foreign for her to be comfortable with, so she swallowed it away.
The male noticed her stare. "Is something wrong?" That smirk came again and Yphera swallowed hard. She hoped the sky was dark enough to hide the blush crossing her cheeks. She couldn't do much else other than stare as she attempted to straighten up more before the debilitating dizziness reached her again. She fell forward a little, using her arms as braces as she panted heavily, closing her eyes in hopes that the vertigo would soon pass.
"Here." She jumped slightly at his voice; he had moved much closer to her now. Apparently she was so focused on not passing out again that she didn't hear him get up and sit next to her. She cracked open her eyes and looked over, seeing he held out a mug filled with water and a plate of the food he was preparing. The sight of water made her realize how dry her throat felt so she reached for the mug first, taking a large gulp. She jerked back a little after the gulp; it tasted much different than the river water she'd been living off of.
"What is this?" She coughed out, the taste of the water having been so unexpected, she nearly choked on it. She covered her mouth, blushing a bit more in embarrassment. "My apologies." She whispered when she had caught her breath.
"Nothing to apologize for, I'm just glad you're willing to speak to me, if I hadn't heard you groan in your sleep earlier, I would have figured you mute." He joked, that smirk of his seeming ever-present. "It's Draenic water. They filter it much differently than any water you could get here."
The huntress considered him a moment but could only ignore her thirst for so long before putting the mug back to her lips, taking in large gulps of the refreshing liquid. She couldn't believe how energized she felt after only drinking half the mug down, she could already feel the vertigo had virtually disappeared.
"It would do you well to eat something too." He chided quietly, pushing the plate in front of her. "Clefthoof meat, it will help you recover." Yphera had never heard of it so she was wary to taste it. The male noticed her hesitancy and didn't blame her; trust came hard in their race. "It's safe… I promise." He whispered as he tore a piece off and ate it himself, to prove his words.
She gave him another wary look then followed suit, taking a small piece for herself. She chewed slowly and the moment she swallowed the tender food, she felt an almost overbearing pain in her stomach. The female realized that she hadn't had a decent meal in a few days, the extent of her nourishment being dried roots or vegetation she managed from the last town she had visited. She took a few more pieces but did not eat her fill; the male's presence still had her on edge.
He noticed her tension and moved back to his original seat on the other side of the fire. "So what's your name?" he asked quietly. He really couldn't help himself; she was a complete curiosity to him. She had innocence about her that he had never seen in other blood elf females. They were of a very proud and bold race, scornful of help from others or regard for other life. If it had been any other blood elf female, she'd be laying into him for his assistance… or perhaps trying to bed him to place another notch in their belt. Either situation wasn't foreign to him. But this huntress, she was almost too quiet, too shy to be a typical blood elf. He found it incredibly endearing.
Yphera stared at him for a moment before responding. "My name? …it's Yphera."
"Yphera, huh? Well, it's nice to meet you. My name is Veldruk."
She nodded then took note of his clothing once more; that of a magic-user. "You are a mage of some sort?" She asked quietly and had to fidget when he laughed in response. She stared down at the ground, locking her gaze to the dirt out of embarrassment.
"I'm no mage. I work with a much darker magic." Veldruk replied after calming himself. "I'm what you call a warlock."
Yphera had to pause a moment, thinking about the name. She had only recently learned of the various classes and magicks blood elves could exhibit. The only class she had a decent amount of knowledge in was her own. When she remembered the details of the warlock class, she had to blink a few times before slowly looking up at him. "So you work with demons?"
Veldruk had to smirk once more. "Work isn't quite the word to use. The relationship you have with your pet can be described as 'working together' but what I do with demons is a much different thing… I believe 'enslave' would be the better interpretation."
"Oh… my pet is he here?" She looked around and was glad to see that the lion had remained with her. He was a few feet behind her lying down, his head propped up as if watching the interaction between her and Veldruk. "I call him Sigma… we only recently linked together… yesterday actually so he's not very obedient yet."
"At least Sigma will eventually come to obey you through friendship. Demons will only remain obedient to those with enough power to control them."
Yphera quieted once again after hearing his words, her green eyes focused on the leaping flames. Demonology in general invoked a fear in her and now she was sitting across from someone who had the power to enslave the monsters? She couldn't help but shiver at the thought.
"I think I'm feeling well enough to be on my way. Thank you for your care…" She stood and even though she felt her body wanting to wobble, she stiffened herself to prevent showing it.
"Are you sure you don't want to camp here for the night? It's getting rather dark… the area can be a lot more dangerous at night." Veldruk suggested as he also stood up. He turned away from her and raised a hand, whispering incantations as he did. Light glittered and shot from his hand, swirling together in the clearing in front of him. Slowly the light took form and started to grow until it stood taller than he did. When the light faded, a small structure stood before him. "I offer you a place to rest for the night." He added after finishing off the spell.
Yphera eyed the structure and though she knew Veldruk to be right about the dangers of traveling at night, she just wasn't comfortable around him. Something inside her stirred whenever she looked at him and the entire feeling was unsettling. She felt it was just better to get away.
"Thank you… but I think I can make town." She bowed, whistled for Sigma and stiffly turned away. She felt another rush of nausea but she fought it back as she stalked away.
The lion padded up to her, taking stride next to her slow gait. Sigma glanced up and watched her mistress then looked back to the camp Veldruk had set up. He could easily tell she was weakened even though they had only been bound together for a day. Sigma watched her for a few more seconds then growled and jumped in her path. The huntress stopped, almost tripping over the great cat.
"What's wrong?" she asked him while taking a step back and regaining her balance. The lion tipped his nose, indicating towards the camp. She looked behind her where Veldruk was then shook her head. "No, Sigma. We can make town. Let's go."
She went to make her first step but Sigma blocked her, growling.
"Sigma, move, we have to-"
Yphera suddenly yelped as Sigma took advantage of his size and pushed the blood elf back. There was little to nothing she could do to fend him off except try to keep from falling backwards as the lion pressed her on back to where Veldruk was camped. The warlock stood near the fire, watching the entire spectacle, finding it difficult not to laugh. The lion gave her was last hard push which cause her to lose balance and fall back, only to have Veldruk catch her fall. The huntress felt her face grow incredibly warm when she looked up and his handsome face stared back down at her.
"Back so soon?" He asked with a grin. She stepped away after he lifted her up and immediately turned a glare onto her pet, who had already found a warm spot next to the fire.
"Smart animal." He remarked. "He can sense how weak you still are. If you got into a fight out there, he knows your chances of survival would be slim."
Yphera wanted to turn her glare on Veldruk but thought it better not to considering the power she'd already witnessed from him. She let out a long sigh, softening her gaze towards the animal.
"I suppose I'll be camping here for the night then. I don't think Sigma will let me leave."
Veldruk smirked. "As I said… smart animal." He walked over to the structure and pushed open the cloth entryway. "After you?"
The female blinked. "Actually, I think I'll stay out here with-" The lion cut her off with a loud rumbling growl as he stood and stalked towards her.
The warlock had to smile. "I think your pet begs to differ."
Yphera shot another glare at Sigma as she moved away from him and towards the shelter, which seemed to satisfy the cat enough from him to lie back down. She cast a glance towards Veldruk before entering.
She hadn't realized how chilly the night air had become until she had entered, feeling the pleasant warmth of the room. It was much larger on the inside than she had anticipated, but then realized it was probably enchanted to be that way. The floor beneath her was soft, almost like the entire ground was a comfortable spot to sit, and there were decorative pillows strewn about. Faerie fire lamps kept a soft glow around the room.
"Can't say I've ever spent the night out in the Barrens in a structure like this…" She noted quietly, stiffening at the sheer ambience of the room.
"It keeps me rested." He replied casually, pulling his gloves off as he entered behind her. She almost shivered when he heard his voice, the sound of it now initiating that same stirring within her that she felt after she had woken earlier. She hugged her arms across her stomach and kept glancing about the room, attempting to avoid watching the male.
"You need to relax. You'll never get any rest if you're so tense."
She turned to regard him and only managed to blush furiously and quickly turn away as he continued to disrobe with little regard to her presence. She heard him chuckle lightly, but refused the turn around, focusing her gaze on one of the faerie fire lamps.
"I don't see a reason for you to be embarrassed, I'm fairly sure I'm not that terrible to look at. Besides, with that so-called armor you wear, you're hardly modest either." Yphera had to look down at herself, completely forgetting that the leathers she wore only had enough straps across her breasts to keep them still and out of her way. She typically didn't care one way or another who saw her this way but when the thought of Veldruk noticing her skin mostly bare, her body quivered and she wished she had a tunic underneath her harness.
"I don't see how a dress serves much better." She retorted, getting the subject off her risqué equipment.
"A dress?" He scoffed. Yphera shifted a little; his voice was much closer to her now. "It's not a dress, it's a robe and it does a great deal to enhance my power."
"You say robe, I say dress." She joked, though she could feel herself grow more and more apprehensive. She could hear him draw closer and it made her tense up even more.
"Yphera…" He was so close to her now; her body immediately broke out into shivers when she felt his warm breath on her right ear from whispering. "Just relax…"
She pulled away, glancing at him, glad that he at least had a different robe on now, though she imagined nothing else. "I'm not used to anyone being that close to me… I-I'm sorry…" She blushed when her words came out in stutters, her body still trying to recover from the trembling.
"You don't have any reason to apologize." He didn't move closer, but he didn't pull away to give her more room. Veldruk found that he was drawn to her. He couldn't explain why, but he was the type of person that if he saw something he wanted, nothing would get in his way in taking it.