I think this chapter is the first time that I have written from the perspective of an omniscient narrator, if only because I switched perspectives halfway through, and didn't really notice until it was already done, and I was getting ready to post it. I could split it into two chapters, but I'm not sure where because it doesn't feel like it's split into two sections. The two perspectives seem to entwine into each other.

So, I'm going to leave it the way it is. I think it gets the message across.

"Do you understand?"

Anathala seemed to know without asking that this question was necessary in any sort of complex discourse with her son; he was not a complicated thinker, and relied on very specific instructions. Expecting him to infer much of anything delicate was a mistake of the highest order.

"Acorns," Sythius said. "From the Dream."

Anathala smiled. "Yes. They are infused with powerful, concentrated restorative magic. Now, I can send you there, but it's dangerous. Do you understand, son? You will most likely be set on all sides by nightmares. The Emerald Dream can be treacherous, especially for those who don't enter it through the proper channels. I'm circumventing many, many reagents and rituals for the sake of time. You will have to fight for your prize. Can you do that, Sythius?"

The big druid nodded. "I can fight," he said.

"Are you sure this is your path?"

Olrec thought that Anathala Sil'nathin was a woman who was dedicated to her art, and wouldn't have asked such a question if the comrade in question wasn't one of her own brood. The old shaman could tell damn well that Sythius was sure of himself; in the dark part of him where cruel truths lay in wait, Big Olrec thought the druid was too dumb to doubt himself.

But then, that wasn't fair. What did it matter to anyone worth mentioning if Sythius of the Claw didn't know which fork to use at a dinner party, or if he couldn't dress himself in lord-lings' dress? He was a warrior, a living shield, and what he did know, he knew instinctively. He was a savant, true and simple, and if anyone was going to head straight into the Emerald Dream and fight his way toward a prize, even if it was something as small and unassuming as a bloody acorn, it was going to be him.

"I am sure," Sythius said solemnly.

Anathala looked agonized, like she regretted mightily ever mentioning that going into the Dream was an option. It was a long shot, she kept saying, an errand that might work, but just as well might not do anything at all. She was worried, and Big Olrec couldn't say that he blamed her. She hadn't seen this boy in almost a hundred years, had probably damn near convinced herself that she would never see him again, but here he was asking her to send him on a suicide mission.

A mother had a right to worry.

Now, Big Olrec knew a little about the Dream; it was the source of all druidic power, a pristine wild-land lying somewhere beneath the world where he, as a shaman, drew his strength. Olrec Stoutfeather could feel the earth's crumbling sense of self whenever he stood upon it; when he breathed in a gulp of air, he could taste its motivations. Water spoke to him, and lightning screamed.

But the druids—those like Anathala, and Rayne, and even Sythius—dug deeper than that. They dwelled in a place beneath the world, behind and around and within the world. The Emerald Dream was the hibernating memory of Azeroth's past, from a time before civilization had had the tumultuous audacity to infringe upon it.

Sythius intended to breach that barrier; he was entering heaven without the decency of dying first, to steal an artifact from it. Anathala said that the force of life within the dream, particularly in a concentrated form like that of an acorn—Olrec wondered if there weren't better pieces of flora that might serve better for this purpose, but she had chosen something that her son would recognize easily—would be strong enough to overwhelm and absorb the miasma of death that was turning little Kin's blood to black sludge.

Anathala still seemed concerned about this mission for other reasons; not the least of which being that she had lived for over two thousand years, and in that time her people's unadulterated hatred of their sun-dwelling cousins, the quel'dorei, had cemented itself in her consciousness; the bright green sacrilege of Kin's eyes was offensive to every part of her. Big Olrec thought that it was Kayli, more than anyone, who had finally convinced her to place her hand into this mad errand. If the young Oakwalker heiress, who had grown up with the most traditional beliefs possible for any kaldorei maiden to have, was convinced that this boy needed saving…

This had likely been a trickling effect; Sythius had convinced Sylvanne because he was her beloved brother, and Sylvanne had convinced Kayli because Kayli all but worshipped her mistress and never went against her wishes for long. Olrec thought that was likely enough, and he had only known Sylvanne and Kayli for a period best counted in hours. And even Sythius, he had only known for a smattering of months.

But it seemed right, that it should be this way. And so he didn't second-guess it.

The shaman wondered if Anathala hadn't decided to handle this mission to make sure that her children didn't go somewhere else. She was sure, just from the way they watched her at her work preparing for the ritual, that they would; both of them were convinced that the health of this boy called Kin was a personal mission given to them by their respective higher powers.

Sylvanne announced, rather emphatically, that if Elune hadn't meant for her to help this boy, then she wouldn't have been able to do anything for him; since she had, Sylvanne was convinced that her goddess had given the go-ahead.

Anathala couldn't help but wonder what her husband would think of such an idea; but it carried some weight. Wasn't that the way a priestess should think? Should she not ignore the prejudices of mortal men and women, and focus her attention on the moon and stars?

Isn't that just how Norothain had always taught her?

The druidess couldn't help but smile as she worked, glancing back every so often to look at her progeny, together again, standing side by side again, convinced that they were right and desperate for their mother to understand them.

As the gate was opening, and Sythius rolled his shoulders and cracked his knuckles, and Sylvanne put a hand on him and said, "…Hann'ore," an old nickname that she hadn't used since childhood, and Sythius nodded to her, Anathala realized with a jolt just how proud she was of them.

She tended to the blood elf's body as well as she could, almost laughing as she did.

When Sythius vanished into the Dream, and his body collapsed into unconsciousness, she almost forgot to be worried.