Disclaimer: World of Warcraft and all expansions belongs to Blizzard Entertainment, and I own nothing more than the the retail disks of it. This story is a non-profit fanfiction rendition of their story with original characters.
Pre-story: Oh, the awfulness of the thing I call 'C', my compilation of bogus, half-finished stories I write to kill time and not post. From it, only a few things "good" have come from it. This is one of those things. Matter of fact, it was supposed to continue to Outland and become a sort of harem fic (I'll never get bored of writing those, fyi, and this wasn't intended to be posted anyways). However, as I wrote out Laerich, it became clear that he'd never stand for anyone but Rennah, not even with the jaded personality I was going to give him later, so I cut the story short and left it like this.
You should be able to notice a better style of writing here compared to Kill It, if anyone bothered to read both.
Laerich slowed his horse to a stop, starring up the colossal tower of wood that he felt could no longer be called a tree. It was too ancient, too present to be something so commonly labeled. Its roots reached outward, bursting in and out of earth like great stagnant worms, the one beside him thicker than he was tall.
Dismounting, he left his faithful yet aged pinto Cloud to graze and rest after the long jaunt from Desolace. His legs were sore from the long ride, and Laerich was quick to seat himself on a span where the back of a protruding root was low. His backpack was dropped by his feet. Groaning, he leaned back on the root and looked up.
The thick canopy made by the trees of Feralas left his world shadows and green. Only the tiniest shafts of gold light would break through, beautiful lines in the dark world, yet they gave depth to the dark forest and made him feel so much smaller. Besides the few rays, the main lighting was the reflection off leaves, giving everything – including the misty air – a green tent.
Ashenvale had given him a feel of mystery and fae, but this forest continued that with it's own uncharted and untamed scenery. From the intimidating ancients of wood, vines thick as his torso unraveled and twisted down, some to the ground, and great leaves sprang forth from nearly anywhere the eye could fall upon.
The air smelled musky and sweet, it's touch warm, while the sounds around were endless and unexpected. Loud braying, tuneless chirping, the cries of birds both coming and going, a distant roar of some creature he hoped he wouldn't later meet.
For now, Laerich only rested. When he felt steady enough, safely on the ground away from the saddle, he picked up his backpack and dug around until he pulled out a nice slab of meat. It was a catch from the morning, a large stag that had given him more meat than he could eat and could carry as left overs. He knew what he did have would spoil before he could wolf it down.
Once unwrapped from its leafy container, he tore in. A passive glance around checked for unwanted guests or enemies, and then he amused himself by watching Cloud tug at some plant the horse was fond of. What a life he found adventuring to be. He was a Rogue by class, yet he hadn't seen his mentors at SI:7 in months.
He was only halfway through his meal, which was several pounds of meat, when his eye caught something of color in the dreary green world. Sharp eyes were a valuable trait in his field. A study showed a winged creature hovering just above the ground, flapping wings of brilliant azure feathers. Its form was visible flitting between the growth. Experience had him identity it with just the profile: a harpy.
Laerich hadn't come across many of the humanoids. He knew them by rumor, of course, yet apart from a brief glimpse at a vengeful raid of them in the Barrens where they hunted an orc caravan, he had no encounters with them. Presently, part of the rumors stood out – mostly horrible tales of their viciousness – where most harpies were starving. That probably was the cause of their frequent raids, and why they reportedly ate people.
Feeling confident in his strength should she attack, Laerich cupped his hands and shouted, "Hey! Want some food?"
There was a stutter of movement as she jerked to a stop and spun towards him – evidently no easy feat with wings – and he knew that she saw him now. He was glad to know that his clothes did well to blend in with the surroundings. The harpy wasn't so far away, and he could make out the wary expression on her face, with the calculating gaze on what could be white eyes.
He lifted a chunk of meat and showed it to her. In a more subdued voice, he said, "Fly over here and I'll give you some meat. There is more than I can eat alone."
The harpy flapped forward, moving slowly, and then she stopped entirely, eyes sweeping around. She gave a huge lurch of her wings and shot up high – though barely a fraction of the way up between floor and canopy in this forest – and he knew her to be scanning his camp, likely for any trap.
When she was low again, she still hesitated in coming closer, and Laerich knew that getting her to eat would prove a chore. Harpies always fought in groups, he remembered, so alone, trust would come at a snail's pace or not at all. As the moment stretched with them staring at each other, he shook his head and laughed, feeling the ease and confidence of his own strength.
With a smile, he tried, "You have no reason to fear me, and you saw that I am alone. Here, look." He pulled out his daggers and tossed them to the ground. "Eat and speak with me, then you may leave."
She watched him with a shrewd look, but there was an audible caw from here and she drifted closer, eyes wandering to the meat again. He nodded acknowledgment and reached into his pack, pulling out another heavy package of the meat. He set it on the root next to him, then returned to his eating.
It was a while longer still before he heard a sudden whoosh of air, and he looked up to see a flash of pale skin and bright blue sweep by and arc up higher onto the root, where it settled. He saw the woman hunched there, tearing open the package and scooping a handful of meat into her mouth.
From behind, he saw that her mane of feathers stretched far back and covered her form from view. Still, he was interested in how feathers so bundled acted like hair for her. He wondered how they might look when reflecting light.
He let her eat for a time, staring at her with an amused smile. Eventually, he asked, "So, what's your name?"
The harpy froze, a tremor running over her frame. Her head turned then, and he saw her face peering down at him, now much closer. Her skin was a light blue, he found, and indeed her eyes were a solid white – without pupils. Her cheeks bore two marks of red on each, looking like paint done by two fingers. A stone of what appeared to be sapphire hung before her forehead, the chord going around her head.
He did noticed, now that her mane was turned away with her head, that she was naked apart from a single chord around the hip that acted as a belt. She had a fine ass, but knowing that other cultures had different ideas of modesty, he knew better than to take it as invitation and didn't stare.
At her stare, he only continued eating his food and watching her, showing himself to not be hostile. After swallowing, he repeated, "Your name. What is it?" She only tore out another chunk of meat with her clawed hand and began eating. He frowned. "I gave you food. At the least, you can talk some."
She stared for a moment longer, then croaked, "I am Rennah, human." She turned away and continued eating.
Laerich sighed, taking another bite of his food. "Well, that's not going to cut it, Rennah. Once you finish eating, stick around and talk some, then you can go."
She didn't acknowledge him besides a small pause in her eating. After, they both ate in silence, him mulling over this chance encounter and her ignoring him. Despite having twice his amount to eat, she finished at nearly the same time as him. When she was bent over and licking at the leaf wrapping, he spoke up again:
"So Rennah, what tribe- uhh, what... matriarchy, I think it is, do you belong to?" he asked.
She turned slightly and answered, in a voice a bit smoother, "I am a Windcaller of the Northspring." There was still the inevitable rasp he assumed to belong to harpies, that which made her voice still sound like a caw with every lilt.
Obviously she had no intention of returning any questions to him. He struggled to find a way to make conversation, before she lost interest and flew off. 'So you live around here' or 'how old are you' were mundane and laughable, yet his mind refused to come up with anything better.
When she discarded the leaves, he said finally, "I'm curious about your kind. What can you tell me about harpies?"
Rennah was slow to respond. Her wings stretched out, yet just before he thought she'd fly off, she folded them again and turned around, crouching on the root with her talons dug in. Her stare was blank. "What do you want to know?"
"Anything," he shrugged. "It's been days since I've spoken to anyone, and you're the first harpy I've ever had a chance to speak to. I don't mind just listening to you talk."
Rennah was silent, then puffed up her chest – the breasts covered by feathers – and said, "All you need to know about us, human, is that I am a harpy. Anytime you see a sister that looks like me, you should stay away and hope we are not hungry, or else you will be the next meal!" She lifted off, taking to the air with large flaps of her wings.
For a moment she hovered nearby, and Laerich smirked at her boast. As their eyes locked a final time, he said, "Tomorrow night, come back here. I'll give you more food."
Apparently, whatever had her stick feathers over her nipples wasn't a ploy at modesty as he saw from her slow flaps that the belt – from which hung several containers – had only one at the front that did little to hide her womanhood as it bounced around. Only nineteen and still a virgin, he stared transfixed at the hairless mound at her front and the line in her pale skin that he was taught to be a woman's netherlips.
At the conclusion of his words, she took off.
The next night, Laerich returned. He already established himself at the Dreamer's Rest and made friends with the druids, as well as found himself pitched against the dragonkin at the Dream Bough. As the sun began to set, he quickly made his way back to where he marked on his map as the place he met the harpy.
Darkness fell, and Laerich still waited, striking up a campfire. Cloud was his usual companion for nights like these, though he felt anxious for meeting Rennah again. He hoped that despite her words, she'd return – at least for the food. He had spent the previous night tossing around with his thoughts on her. Part of it was on her naked body, the first woman he'd seen as such, but also on her, as the first harpy he'd ever met.
It was with a sense of joy that he heard the beat of wings, and he looked up to see a pale shape hovering near high near the trunk of the tree. He realized suddenly that, had Rennah wanted, she could have told her kin about his residing here and they could be coming to capture him. He hoped that there was enough good in her that she wouldn't do so, though he knew he could easily blend into the shadows and escape as a Rogue.
He brought out the food and showed it to her, but this time he held onto it so he could give it to her rather than her take it and eat at a distance. Tonight was deer, split evenly between him and her. She hovered for a while until realizing that he wouldn't leave it out for her to grab and began to descend.
He smiled as she stopped before him, a little away from the fire. He recognized her as Rennah, now staring at him. He stood up and gestured at the root he'd been resting on while holding out the package of meat. "I'm glad you're back. Have a seat."
Rennah swooped forward and yanked the food from his hands, then took off back to the air. He smiled at the contact and the image of seeing her up close. He moved away from the root and sat on a rock he'd dragged near the fire. It took a long minute before Rennah descended and sat at the place he had showed, crouched again and quickly tearing into the food.
He studied her eating, now from the front. It was a messy, aggressive affair he found, amused. He also studied her form, no longer thinking of a the harpy as a creature but now very obviously a woman with the feathers. On that, he was surprised that she was extremely skinny, enough to see ribs and have a painfully pinched waist, yet her breasts were large – even when compared to thick, curvy barmaids. To see them uncovered apart from a few flimsy feathers was rather distracting.
Fortunately that container on her belt was in front of her parted legs. Or, a sly part of him mentioned, unfortunately.
Forcing on a semblance of maturity, he focused past her body and said, "So, the cost for getting free food from me is talking, and I expect more from you this time." She said nothing, of course, so he asked the question he had thought of the night before, "I've heard that harpies raid us, eat us, and some rather disturbing things about your mating habits." Rennah didn't even twitch. "However, tell me, what do you – and I mean you, Rennah – aspire for? What is the perfect life to you?"
She parted from her food for a moment. "A ready supply of food, a safe nest, mountains of wealth, and a strong male to fertilize my eggs."
"Heh, we aren't so different then," Laerich mentioned. "What else though? For me, after I'm done adventuring, I also plan on settling down with a wife and raising kids. However, I might take up merchanting or teaching. I've always liked the latter."
This time, Rennah lifted her head and gave him a cold look. "Unlike you invaders, we consider ourselves lucky to merely survive."
"Well, that should tell you something. I mean, instead of plundering, you could make peace with your neighbors, trade for food, and live like us."
"Don't be ridiculous," she snapped, food visible between her razor sharp teeth.
Laerich took a bite and pressed his point, "Why not? Sure, you have a bad rep with us right now, but everyone starts somewhere."
Rennah seemed angry as she snapped at her food, but as she neared her final scraps (he wasn't half done yet), she pulled back and said slowly, "We want to live free, out here on our lands with our food. Instead, you invaders cross the boundaries and take our food. When we fight and take it back, you say no, make peace and let us have your food so you can trade your wealth for your food back."
Laerich opened his mouth and shut it, then turned back to his food without a reply. What a different reasoning, he found. He hadn't thought of their encroachment as a kind of invasion, instead just expansion and facing resistance.
After pondering on it longer, he said, "I see. And since the tauren and other races have already 'moved in' so to speak, they won't leave without a fight. Nor can we ask you to move, as this is your land first, and eventually our expansion will reach your new lands again and again until there isn't anywhere left."
Taking a bite, he added, "I see why you're so willing to tolerate me for food too. There can't be much around here with two groups hunting."
Rennah stared at him, probably surprised that he agreed with her. She nodded finally. "We ration what we catch, but each day we take too much. Food will not replenish as it should, and soon there will be not enough."
"Well, shit," Laerich mentioned. "I see why you would be so angry."
Rennah finished the rest of her meal and remained crouched, staring at him now. She finally took the initiative and asked, "What is your name, human?"
"Laerich," he answered. He looked down at the food he still had left and shook his head. He patted his stomach and handed the rest of his food to her. "Here, you finish this."
One long leg, half humanoid and half bird, touched the ground, and Rennah stood up for a step to reach out and take it. She then retreated back onto the root. Laerich smiled at the human motion.
While she polished that off, he asked, "You have any young yet?"
Rennah' white eyes snapped onto him suddenly, looking suspicious, yet she cawed, "No."
He hummed. "Well, so long as you don't bring your sisters down here and kill me, I'll come back here each night with good meals like this for you. But only you, alright? I'm not starting a harpy charity here."
Rennah sniffed dismissively. "I would not lessen my food by sharing." The leaf wrapping was discarded finally, and she reached down to grab a canteen from her belt, which was the front one. He watched her drink from it, again almost human, but as she drank, he heard a sound like splattering water.
It took a moment for him to notice an arch of liquid spilling from between her legs, and Laerich gaped. After a stunned moment, he managed, "What are you doing?"
"Drinking after a meal," she answered dryly, then brought the canteen back to her mouth.
"And pissing too?" he returned.
Rennah fixed another look at him. "Don't pretend your kind doesn't do the same."
"Yeah, but... not," he started, then just shook his head and laughed, tilting his head up to look at the black canopy above – no stars. Part of her 'vile' charm I suppose. "Sorry, it's nothing."
So went the first night.
Laerich returned every night, as did Rennah. The harpy fascinated him. He found himself looking forward to the nights with her more than his conquest through Feralas. Once he ran out of quests with the nearby Alliance, he made a sort of permanent camp near where he used to meet Rennah. It was further off the normal path and hidden well enough; once it was established as a place she might find him during the daytime, Rennah began to meet him then as well.
The friendship didn't hit off immediately, of course. Rennah's trust and openness was earned through time. And food.
The second night they met progressed slowly, until – after the food was finished – Laerich said, "I've always wondered how someone of your size could actually fly. I was thinking about it though, and I figure that you must actually be much less dense than myself. Significantly lighter. Do you mind if I touch you? Just pick you up and see for myself?"
It came with much reluctance – Laerich had to discard his weapons, and once close her claw went to his neck with a husky promise – but she agreed to it. After her threat, faces inches apart and her glaring, Laerich smiled at her and reached his arms around her waist. He got a hold like an embrace, feeling her slender form and the warm skin under his hands, and then he lifted her.
Indeed she was extremely light, he found. Somewhere between forty and fifty pounds. He set her down, thanking her, but she still had her glare. "Never again will you lift me."
"Sure," he said easily, but he was reluctant to step away from her. He liked being up close with her, seeing her – and the better view at her nearly nude body.
He didn't linger for too long, retreating back to his rock and her to her perch.
The following nights were also spent just talking, exchanging words about both, and Laerich learned more about her odd behaviors as a harpy. The next big change was on the fifth night, when Rennah's feathers were brought up. Laerich hadn't realized it at first, merely curious and admiring the vivid coloring of one of her fallen feathers, but...
"Are you blushing?" he asked, nearly gaping at the faint hue coloring her pale cheeks.
"Don't flatter yourself," she dismissed, but her eyes didn't meet his. "It is just rare that my feathers are complimented."
Laerich had a half-smile at her flimsy denial, and he twirled the long plume in his hand. "I don't see why it would be rare. Your colors are simply beautiful. You seem to be my only color in this green world." Honestly, he was beginning to grow weary of the endless green here, no matter how enchanting the sights were.
"We pride ourselves on our plumes, but when each of my sisters have their own beautiful colors, ones own looks get lost," she mentioned slowly. "If you saw me among my kin, you would not be impressed."
"Well, perhaps you could use a bath," he teased, then he smiled and tucked the feather into his hair. "But while your sisters may have their own pretty feathers, I have no doubt I would still admire yours."
Inexperienced with flattery, the harpy only made a low caw and continued to blush. He wondered at her thoughts but pressed no more, his fingers toying with his new decorative. Finally, her eyes passed over him, fixing on the feather above his ear. After a moment, she said, nearly shyly, "You would look good in feathers."
Laerich laughed loudly. "Not at all! Only you can pull off that look attractively. I will, however, leave this here for the moment."
Her head tilted slightly. "Attractive? Attracting what?"
He hadn't expected that. Not wanting to explain, unsure of how she'd take a desire to mate versus physical appeal, he only said, "Nothing. I just mean that you look good with feathers, whereas I wouldn't."
She didn't seem convinced, still giving him the nearly bird-like stare. The thought made him grin slightly, and it dispelled the moment – her blinking and moving on in topic.
Following that night, there was something brighter about Rennah, and Laerich didn't think it was just her outlook towards him. Catching her scent and feeling her skin revealed that she actually had taken to bathing more routinely. She was cleaner, if no less 'free' in attitude. She would still relieve herself in front of him.
After two weeks of meeting, him only recently moving into the forest away from the night elves, he began to realize how much Rennah meant to him. He had stopped adventuring and settled into a temporary home just to continue meeting her. However, it didn't come to his attention until the one night she didn't show. The absence left him tossing and turning, worry floating across his mind, fearing the worst about the nearby tauren.
It was the afternoon of the next day, after a sleepless night, that Rennah returned. She was sluggish and withdrawn – clean, but something was clearly off with her. She even chose to seat herself right beside him, and on instinct his arm went around her naked back. To his surprise, she leaned into him.
After a meal and an hour's time, he finally got the story from her. Her sisters had decided to make a raid against the tauren. Apparently, the cow folk had been ready, and the attack was an utter disaster. Daelin, whom Laerich assumed Rennah to be close to, had been slain, while Rennah had had both her wings broken and her body battered before her sisters rescued her and another Windcaller healed her.
There was no judgment from Laerich over hers or her sisters' actions. He only voiced his relief that she was safe and offered her more food. He had noticed recently that she was beginning to grow a healthier frame (and he hoped that her sisters wouldn't notice and suspect). She continued to be an outstandingly attractive woman – though he suspected her state of undress had as much to do for his desire.
When the sun began to set, Laerich offered, "You could spend the night here with me, if you'd like."
Rennah gave him an odd look. "You want me to nest with you?"
With a lopsided smile, he said, "If nesting means just sleeping, then yes. I like it when you're here."
"And I like the food," she returned, the dry comment as she patted her stomach an attempt at humor. She looked back at him with some consideration, then leaped into the air, hovering with slow flaps of her wings. "I think not though. My place is with my sisters."
"Suit yourself," he acknowledged, and with a short parting phrase from him, she turned and left.
For two months Laerich had found himself living in Feralas, every day spent on small adventures or with Rennah when she visited. Despite the slow repetitiveness of it, he was happy. Rennah alone was nearly the entire cause of his content feel. In the time, he had twice witness other harpies, yet he had always remained hidden – a secret shared only between him and Rennah.
Presently, he was leaving the pool he bathed in. Rennah hovered near the shore, talking with him. With her constantly nude around him, he had lost much of his own modesty, and he left the water naked yet comfortable with her eyes on him.
"Please refrain from doing that near my clothes," he chided, seeing her urinate while flying.
"It's not like I'm doing it on them and soiling them," she cawed, rolling her eyes – at least he thought that's what she did, but it was hard to tell with solid white eyes.
"Accidents can happen."
They bickered lightly as he dressed. Once fully suited in his armor, Laerich pulled something from one of his bags and showed it to the harpy. "Ready to try it on now?"
Rennah made a big show of her reluctance, yet she slowly drifted down to land again and took the garment. There was a moment as she turned it sideways, backwards, and around, then looked at him and asked, bored, "How does it go?"
And so Laerich approached her, and together they worked on getting it over her head and her wings through the sleeveless sides of the robes. It was fun, touching her so, and he laughed at her frustrated sounds when the robes snagged. They eventually managed it, and he stepped back, wanting a look at her.
The result was surprising. At once, the harpy appeared dignified, rather than the uncultured savage. Her wings arched back behind her from her arms, nearly angelic with the white cloth, while her face studied his for his reaction. Of course, it shielded her body from his eyes, but he didn't mind at the moment.
He smiled and nodded. "I like it."
"I don't!" she returned then, looking down at herself and swiping at the cloth. "It is burdensome, and it makes flying a chore." She lifted off in example, turning about gracefully before touching back on the ground, glaring at the robe. Looking back up, she took two slow steps to him, plucked a loose feather from her mane, and stuck it in his hair. "You were forgetting that."
"Thanks." He smiled. "Now that I know what you look like in robes, I want to get the perfect dress."
His excitement didn't touch her. "No more clothes! You've had your look, now help me take it off before I rip it to pieces!"
Laughing, Laerich got behind her, and his hands dropped down to the bottom hem of it. He began pulling it up off her, but a part of him had him move his hands to where they dragged slowly up her thighs with the robe. His hands went around her hips and up her sides, grazing just slightly across the outside of her her impressive breasts, and he stopped it there.
Then came the struggle as the neckline went over her head and they both fought to get the wings free. They managed it faster this time, both breathing sighs of relief. As he began to roll up the robe, he noticed something off about her. The feathers covering her right breast had come off with the robe, revealing for the first time a dark blue nipple.
Rennah noticed his stare and saw the missing feathers. She made a sound and reached behind her neck, working at the soft feathers he knew to be at the edges of her mane. "It becomes bothersome when flying without a cover," she explained, licking the new soft feathers and covering the nipple again.
Laerich hummed acknowledgment, though the image remained in his mind.
Laerich was returning to his camp from his usual hunt, coming from the south with a large helping of stag meat. The day had been spent in the deep south, though not too far as he had left Cloud at his camp, where he had found rock giants facing off corrupted variants. He had lent his aid for hours, though cutting stone was a hard task and his daggers seemed dulled by the time he called quits.
Coming back, with a brief glimpse at the sun showing mere hours before twilight, he caught a sound in the final leg before his camp. He stopped, straining to listen. It came again, a deep bellow and a large impact. A shrill shriek.
A cold feeling swept down Laerich's back. He took off at a sprint towards where he heard the noise. Rennah.
His feet flew over the moist ground, though it was a great hindrance. He began rounding the last ancient tree, sprinting up a steep hill, and he knew the top to be the last span before his camp. His weighted pack was slung to the side against the tree as he crested, and he pulled the shadows around him in the traditional Rogue stealth.
The growth was tall, above eye level, yet the sounds were clearer now. He could make out the location much easier, and he moved as fast as he could under the technique. He knew what he was hearing now: a tauren fighting a harpy. Only one harpy at that, and so close to his camp, he knew exactly which it would be.
He skirted the last shrub and entered a small clearing, right into the battle. A black furred tauren Warrior was swinging a wood club more aptly named a log. His opponent, immediately identified as Rennah, was swift and managed to escape most of the heavy swings. For the first moment of him assessing the battle, he got a feel of exactly how Rennah and harpies fought.
She was airborne, swooping up and diving in for painful swipes with her claws or talons. Occasionally, she'd stop for a spell, sending a ball of lightning into the muscled and plated humanoid. She was also very clearly outmatched, afflicting very little damage yet barely surviving even a single full contact blow from the mace, sent tumbling across the soil before taking off into the sky again.
Laerich knew he couldn't beat the warrior either. Like Rennah, he would dodge and strike fast, but also like her, he couldn't take the heavy hits well and couldn't deal much damage against the heavy plate armor. He had no experience fighting Warriors, but he knew from fellow Rogues the disadvantage.
Despite his doubts, there was not a moment's hesitation as Laerich stepped through the shadows to appear just behind his opponent, where he ambushed the tauren with a well placed blow right into the weak point in the armor. He jumped and tried jamming his blade into the neck of the beast, where the armor wouldn't help, but a sudden elbow caught his side.
Laerich landed cleanly, adrenaline making up for the jarring impact, and his hilt jabbed right where he knew the tauren's kidney's to be. The Warrior roared in pain, freezing up suddenly. In the moment, Laerich caught a breath, mind whirling over what to do next, yet he didn't wait for the tauren to recover.
He dove in, cutting and slicing. To his dismay, the warrior managed to turn the attacks away with his bracers or armor, then he swung his log at Laerich. The Rogue dodged, then pulled the shadows towards him to help his evasion – it would be harder for the Warrior to see him clearly. Again they clashed, but suddenly the mace was used to parry his daggers, and with his hulking size, the Warrior backhanded Laerich back and jumped after him, weapon held high.
Fear seized Laerich then, seeing the huge monster descending with such force towards him. A shriek startled him into action. A blue form crashed into the falling tauren, and Laerich rolled to the side and made it clear – just as a heavy impact landed beside him. He jumped to his feet and saw a bloodied Rennah flying back, waiting for another moment to strike.
The Warrior stood up, apparently unharmed, and he stomped forward with his weapon readied. Dodging was not child's play, yet the momentum needed to swing it took a moment to build, leaving him enough time to evade if he was ready. Feeling himself falling into the flow of combat, he felt the rhyme pulse towards the perfect moment to finish it. His last swing curved back in a powerful attempt to eviscerate the tauren, yet the man's armor caught the most of it – the dagger punching through and leaving a deep furrow in the steel.
There was another war shriek just as the tauren moved to counter. Laerich stumbled back, yet the mace caught his arm – deadening it immediately – and the strength behind it had the swing continue past Laerich and right into the striking Rennah. Laerich's heart dropped at the sound of the hollow impact, Rennah's cry, and the snap as her wing broke before she was sent crashing into the ground, tumbling into the shrubs.
The fear for his life was an idle thing, but the rage at hurting Rennah overtook every essence of his being. He couldn't win, but he'd make the tauren pay. A reckless leap forward allowed him to bury his dagger deep in the fleshy part of the thigh just about the knee, gouging out the flesh and twisting his blade. The tauren bellowed again, falling to the ground and writhing with the sudden injury.
It wouldn't be long before rage overtook the incapacitation, so Laerich only sucked in a breath before jumping forward to stab at the tauren's back again. He scored a solid blow, puncturing the armor again, yet the tauren smacked him back with a fist and stood. He could see snot spray from the beast's nose as it snorted, the gold bullring trembling with its shaking rage.
There was death in those eyes.
Laerich was sure his own were no different.
The next exchange went badly for him, too hasty to hurt. His dodge ended with him stepping into the log weapon, and after being shoved back and unbalanced, the following blow nearly shattered his arm and sent him sprawling into the muck – churning from their ceaseless stomping around the small clearing.
Dazed and hurt, Laerich quickly tried standing again, but he barely got one foot planted when the Warrior stomped down hard, sending a tremor through the ground that unsteadied him and nearly sent him back down to the ground. Just before he could fall, he stepped back through the shadows behind his opponent, hoping to catch him off-guard.
It was then he realized this was not the Warrior's first fight against a Rogue. The moment he vanished in the puff of smoke, the log was already swinging towards him with no time to dodge. Laerich cried out in pain as he was hammered again, getting thrown back by the unrelenting force and weight of the blow.
Panting and numb, his body unresponsive, Laerich knew this to be his end. He had done his best in his inexperience, fighting the disadvantaged fight, but he couldn't work any miracles. Even the bag of vanishing powder wouldn't be of use, too weak to safely escape if he were to try.
The Warrior recognized his helplessness, slowly approaching and hefting his mace. Blood streamed from several cuts over the tauren, while the armor bore scratches and rents where Laerich had been lucky. His executioner was still approaching when a flash of green light and falling leaves appeared around Laerich.
There was the sudden feeling of warmth, bliss, and the feeling vanished with the light and taking with it much of the pain of his injuries. Not just the pain, he realized, but the wounds themselves – a healing spell had been cast over him. With renewed energy, he rolled to the side and dove in again.
He might not be able to win in single combat, but with a healer on him, it was nearly impossible to lose.
Once the tauren finally fell over, breathing his last, Laerich turned to see the broken and bleeding Rennah had been his rescuer. The harpy had rage and determination on her face as she sat hunched over, arm/wing broken behind her. Blood streamed from a wound on her forehead, pouring over her left eye, yet the remaining orb was unflinching.
When she realized it was over, she blinked once and looked up at Laerich. He smiled at her, grateful, yet she only pitched over and fell into the dirt. Once checking her vitals and seeing she was merely unconscious, Laerich picked her up and carried her back to his camp, where he could see to her recovery. She was a light burden.
Hours later, Rennah had awakened long enough to heal herself, and Laerich had given her a nice meal to help her recover her strength. She was still weak, especially drained after healing herself, and she mentioned staying in his nest this night.
By then it was already night, resting beside a dying fire. Rennah was laid out on Laerich's bedroll, while he sat on a rock positioned beside her. As the fire faded, he stood from the rock and disrobed to just his pants. It wasn't a conscious decision of his to join Rennah on the bedroll, nor was he shy as he did. Rennah didn't oppose to his arms going around her.
The two had been unusually quiet since the attack. Both lied there in silence, neither able to sleep. Laerich's gaze eventually wandered from the black sky down to Rennah, and he saw from the fading light that her eyes were open and watching him. He could make out her face and it's features, the dark blotches of paint. In his arms, her warm skin moved lightly against his with her breathing, the body itself curiously light.
Rennah, as he knew her.
His hand began to wander. His mind seemed in a daze as the hand rose from her side, going to her stomach and up. It passed between her breasts with deliberate slowness, then up her neck and stopped with a gentle hold on her chin. Like that, he bent forward and kissed her, her dark blue lips parted.
Rennah hummed against him. His eyes opened to see that hers had closed. He pulled back, seeing her lips nearly pursed, and as he did, he felt her hand stir from his chest to wrap around his back, pulling him closer to her. The gesture sparked something inside Laerich, and he kissed her again passionately.
He didn't even know if kissing was something harpies did, but Rennah responded eagerly. It wasn't long before his hands dropped, the one around her back to her rear and the other to her breast. Rennah hummed again, sliding her leg over him. The feather coverings were quick to come off, leaving her naked breast vulnerable to his slow fondling.
Desire surged through Laerich, his body flushing and urges growing. He turned Rennah so her back was on the bedroll and moved atop. Her arms around him left a wrapping of feathers, sealing him into a world of her. His lips descended back on hers, mindlessly addicted, while his hand dragged across her stomach and down, feeling the clench of her abs. Down still, over the soft curve of her mound and to her womanhood.
At the contact with the folds, his mind vaguely argued. Rennah seemed no less involved, spreading her legs wider, and he found his resolve. Two fingers pushed inside, getting his first feel of the inside of a woman. Still immersed in the kiss, encouraged by Rennah's soft, approving moan, he fumbled after the words that had been passed along in a forgotten tavern. He began to pump the fingers in and out.
The painful throb of his erection was confined in his pants, and he was sure she could feel its hardness against her leg. The thought barely flitted by his conscious, still in the daze and passion. As he fingered her, he watched now the rise and fall of her breasts with her fast breathing, the way her head rolled back against his pillow, how her back arched. He could feel the slick wetness of her inner core.
The moment continued until Laerich could no longer contain his wants. His hands left her to go for his pants, and he unbuckled them, yanked them down past his knees, and settled between her legs. Turning his eyes down upon her again, time hung precariously as he witnessed himself at full arousal, aimed to penetrate an exposed Rennah.
The blanket had fallen behind him when he moved to sit between her legs, though still her wings sheltered him and claws dug lightly into the skin of his back. The red glow of the embers did little to illuminate her body in the starless, lightless night, but he could still make out her shape. Her eyes were glazed in their stare at him, body motionless apart from her breathing.
The whole world seemed distant from his thoughts at the moment, only Rennah and the urge to satisfy the unrelenting desire in his loins. His fingers were still damp with her wetness, curled tightly into his palm. He wanted to make love to Rennah at that moment, to have her as his woman then and after. The pulse of his manhood agreed with him.
However, the daze in his mind began to fade. Laerich caught himself just at the brink, remembering himself despite his passion. It didn't feel right to just sleep with her, especially while they were both still vulnerable and unstable after the battle. His rush was a yearning of the moment, taking advantage of her oddly docile behavior after nearly dying.
Nearly choking out the words, he managed hoarsely, "We should stop."
Not a flicker of emotion passed by her blank stare. "You don't wish to fertilize my egg?"
A strange sense of guilt was already ridding him of his erection. "I just... I..." He deflated, still looking down at her enticing body. "I just want to sleep right now." He forced himself to look away and reached for the blanket, pulling it over him and climbing from between her legs down back beside her.
Rennah said nothing at his decision. Nearly immediately upon lying down, Laerich felt a relief, and with it, his confidence returned. His arm pulled the warm, nude harpy into him, and her leg reluctantly settled over his, intertwining. For a moment there was an awkward silence, until Laerich leaned over and kissed Rennah again, softer.
She kissed him back, and once they drew apart, she settled her head on his chest. It made him smile, glad that she was there. He left one more on her brow and drifted off to sleep.
Both didn't mention that night in the days following, but there was a new-found closeness between them. Rennah didn't 'nest' with him again, wary of suspicion from her kin, but she spent more time with him, going so far as to join him on his excursions out into Feralas and his hunts for food. Laerich seized advantage of his freedom to kiss her, doing so often, while their touches grew bolder and more intimate.
After one hunt where Rennah was the prime subduer, her vicious assault left her splattered in blood, much to Laerich's amusement. They wrapped the meat for carry (her beginning to accept his foreign ways) and went to a nearby river to clean up. She laughed when he immediately began cleaning her, using the excuse to touch her body.
When they finished, they dragged themselves to the grassy bank and laid together, given a rare spot where there was a gap in between the tree canopy above and bright sunlight filtered down over them. Laerich propped himself up to witness her body glowing in the light and the color reflecting off her glistening wings.
Rennah seemed to bask in the light and the attention, smiling no longer a rare thing from her, and she trilled a song in a language he couldn't understand. It surprised him to hear such a sweet voice from her, used to what he called the harpy rasp, yet like a bird her voice changed pitch easily to sing.
When the song finished, Rennah rolled her nude body atop his, staring down at him with her breasts hanging down to his chest. His arousal, increasing common with her, was inevitable, especially when her claw went through his hair and toyed lightly at the feather she planted there. His hands found her buttocks just as she dipped for a searing kiss.
Pulling back, she whispered, "Mate with me."
He did, without further thought or hesitation. On the sunbathed grassy bank, with the first woman Laerich ever found himself in love with.
He remembered the penetration, the bliss and raw emotion at being united with Rennah in such a way. There had been no blood or pain that he had been told accompanied human virgins. He remembered the slow start, where both were fascinated by the experience and worked towards a comfortable way make love.
Most of his memories were scattered flashes: being under her, being atop. At some point, she had grown frenzied, crying out savagely and biting him in the meat of his left shoulder with her sharp teeth. The circular scar remained and was cherished. Further flashes, the feel of cupping the globes of her ass as she bounced over him, the feel of her soft torso against his as their hips made rolling motions. He learned her body in ways he never imagined.
The finish, he remembered the feeling of being deep inside her tight, wet channel with the swelling bliss of approaching orgasm and forcing himself to leave that magnificent pleasure just in time to release. His seamen was meant to burst on the grass, but a jerk of the hips had him accidentally spill some on Rennah's back and buttocks, to which she only expressed amusement.
They had washed again after, cleaning of both the fluids and also Laerich of the blood she had shed. Rennah was greatly pleased in that he looked the part of a battle survivor, bruised and bled. The sun had moved from its narrow opening by the time they had returned to a new spot on the bank, lying together.
Two more feathers were placed in Laerich's hair then, and Rennah puffed up her chest proud as a pigeon. "You are mine now."
Laerich's languid respond was to slowly grope her left buttock and kiss her mouth. "And you, Rennah, are mine." She didn't seem as pleased by that, but she didn't argue, now resting with her head upon him. They drifted to sleep, napping until the sun had nearly set before hurrying back.
In the following days, Rennah began to spend more time with Laerich than she did her sisters. The two expanded their boundaries for sexual acts, experimenting with oral and new positions that occurred to them on whim. Rennah, as their first time hinted, revealed herself as a savage lover, taking pleasure in the cuts and scratches she'd inflict upon him in the heat of their lovemaking.
At the same time, the standard harpy vileness grew an erotic edge. Rennah was completely shameless with her body and enjoyed dirtying herself. At first it could be unsettling for Laerich, whom had grown a proper human life in Stormwind, but soon he also enjoyed that which was just another trait of his lover.
After two weeks since they became mates, rifts began to form. Rennah found herself in a crossroad between her adventuring lover and her kin. It started with her wanting to bring one of her sisters to him to join in their lovemaking. Laerich had been disturbed by her eagerness for it, and it occurred to him that she didn't have the same loyalties in relationships that humans did.
He hadn't been angry upon the realization, but he abruptly left her presence and knew she had been hurt, not understanding his departure. Hours later he returned to see her not there waiting, but by nightfall, she tentatively approached his camp at the usual time from their old meet-ups.
She hadn't questioned him, but the unease was obvious on her face. He sat her down with him and explained that part of human relations, trying to bridge the sudden gap that had opened. Rennah replied that she hadn't ever intended to take a new mate; she just wanted a close sister to experience what she had with him. They spoke for some time, until she softly concluded with a solemn vow not to take another and a thanks for his devotion to her.
Immediately things seemed back to normal, making love in the chill of the next morning. The mood lasted for several days. However, it relapsed when Laerich asked her to leave her kin and join him on his adventurers. He could only continue on if she was with him, he said. The prospect of leaving her sisters, however, seemed inconceivable to Rennah.
The stress on her was heavy following that. Rennah loved her sisters, had grown with, hunted with, and lived with them. Her place was always to be with them, under the wing of the one she called Edana. But she also loved Laerich, admitting so openly, and refused to part with him. She knew he didn't want to stay.
The stress lightened only when she stopped concerning herself with making a decision, simply delaying as the days melded together, making love with him and nesting with him more often than was safe. Questions were rising among her sisters. More than once, Laerich was discovered by harpies when he wasn't with Rennah, but he used Rogue tricks to escape when they turned hostile.
In the end, fate decided for them.
A month since that day in the sunlight on the grassy bank, Laerich felt a disturbance in the forest. Having lived in it for so long, the ancient trees and sounds had grown common place and homely to him, a feeling he would always associate with his home in Feralas. One day, before leaving on his hunt for food for him and Rennah – whom had fleshed out into a rather breathtaking women – he noticed something off with that familiar feeling.
Cloud, that aged pinto now quite happy with his open stable, was saddled for travel. He had been exercised regularly, shoes maintained and cleaned only a week ago, and now they rode out to explore the area for what might be wrong. He found nothing, but rather than clear the bad feeling, he found more reason to worry.
Laerich hailed the druids at Dreamer's Rest and inquired after the change in the forest. After a small buzz of amusement that a Rogue could read the elements, they agreed with assessment yet had no solid answers. It was the only resident Sentinel, Erina Willowborn, that had an answer. She had heard rumors that the nearby Tauren village had massed a raid to rid them of the harpy menace and that it was on the march.
It took the confirmation of one druid saying that such a movement of interlopers would unsettle the forest before Laerich wheeled Cloud around and charged back west, towards his camp and the ruins of Ravenwind – where he knew Rennah and the harpies nested. He had followed her back once under stealth in simple curiosity, to see how she acted naturally among her kind.
Cloud was an old horse, cheap but faithful, and Laerich squeezed every last drop of speed out of him nearly remorselessly. He was no charger, but the horse plowed onward and rushed terrain with skilled hooves, swifter over the dangerous foliage than a warhorse might be trained for flat battlegrounds. Cloud preserved the pace well, seemingly as determined as Laerich was.
They passed the lake, following the rim of the left side, and marched up the hill to the flats near his camp, where he and Rennah had once worked together to take down the Tauren Brave. Still west they went, Cloud willing to dash over and nearly through the large shrubs. The land began to slope downward sooner than expected, but still he couldn't shake the feeling that they were too slow!
The last colossal wood ancient appeared before them, darkening the the green world beneath its mighty branches, and upon the left side he could see the roots bursting out in large arcs like the legs of a spider. In the hollow under those roots were the first of the harpies nests, yet still an outlier from the main body of the Northspring.
Cloud rushed past the hollow. In passing, Laerich glanced inside to see it was empty of inhabitants, the reason for which called for worry. Up the hill past the tree, the first ruins of the old night elf city could be seen. Panic had already seized Laerich's heart, but nothing was worse than seeing the crumpled body with dark maroon feathers sprawled at the crest of the final hill.
The storming hooves blocked any sound of fighting. However, once Laerich reached the perimeter of Ravenwind, he leapt from Cloud's back, leaving the horse to rest and wait at the first building. He pulled shadows over himself and sprinted, adrenaline giving him endurance. He heard, then saw, the onslaught taking place in the heart of the city.
The Tauren had held nothing back, filling a full raid of powerful Braves with Shaman healers and even a few hardened Horde adventurers, like the blood elf Rogue visible from a puff of shadow as she ambushed one harpy and killed her. Without a doubt, the Northspring would fall before night did.
Too afraid to check the corpses, Laerich focused on the faces of the living harpies. He ran to high ground for vantage, between battles and into dwellings. He couldn't tell the blue feathered harpies apart well from the distance, but up close he always knew when he wasn't looking at Rennah.
A horn sounded. There was a burst of excitement from Laerich when he remembered that from Rennah's left hip always hung a small, ornate horn. However, a sweeping glance showed that many of the harpies carried the same. He continued his frantic search for Rennah.
It wasn't long before the effect of the horn made itself apparent. From the north-westernmost part of Ravenwind, a final rebellion of the harpies revealed themselves. Only a few of the Horde raid had fallen compared to the dozens of harpies, and they stood together to face the sudden mass of the winged women.
At the lead of the harpies was Edana Hatetalon, immediately recognizable even without Laerich ever having seen her before. The woman was huge, likely ten feet tall from brow to talon, and she towered over her sisters. Her battle shriek was a terrifying sound, piercing one's ears even with great distance, and at with it, the harpies charged.
Several orcs met the challenge with loud roars, banging weapons to armor or shields, and with a shout from one heavily armored Tauren Brave, the raid marched towards the horde. The two met each other like armies, immediately thrown into confusion. Most fascinating was the way harpies could stack atop each other to double up against the front lines, but Hunters and similarly armed men took to pelting the higher ones with arrows or spells.
Both sides had their healers, and despite them, both sides suffered immediate casualties. Edana herself was a potent force, skin like metal and taking little damage from blades that scored against her – the few that did – while her talons and claws ripped opponents apart. Her rampage continued until the apparent leader of the raid confronted her, where it seemed an even matching.
Laerich didn't sit around to watch any of that. With the charge of the two sides, he had left his place in a stealthy run for the harpies. If Rennah still lived, she would be with them. The battle was already underway when he managed to start picking his way through the harpies. He did his best to remain enshrouded in shadows, knowing that both the harpies and the Horde would take him as an enemy. He was there only for Rennah.
Among the sea of noise and thrashing bodies, Laerich gave a cry of victory upon finding his love among the line of Windcaller healers. The cry was still going when it changed pitch to horror and defiance, looking past her to see a mounted war kodo stampeding towards the harpy healers in a surprise flank. His shadowy cover dropped as he raced to reach her first.
The desperate dagger throw at the rider went wide, but Laerich refused to allow that to slow him. He won the race, feeling the sharp tingling of sparks spray his chest from Rennah's last lightning spell just before his body slammed into hers. His arms caught her firmly, pulling her away from her place and from her low hover – low to escape the range from the other side – and they barely managed to hit the ground rolling in time to dodge the kodo.
Those in the half Rennah had been at were devastated, trampled or knocked aside, wings or bodies broken, while several were struck by the thrown axes of the orc rider. The rest of the Windcallers managed to scatter and safely reach the air – then quickly retreat to escape the hail of arrows.
The battle was already obviously a loss for the Northspring harpies, the women being slain from every angle, and the brief lapse in healing only hastened that defeat. It was not without a heavy toll, nearly half the raiders dead or incapacitated and the healers too strained, but once Edana was beheaded by an enraged Brave, retaliating for her slaying the leader, the surviving two dozen harpies disengaged and retreated. Some managed to seize wounded sisters, but still also many of the fleeing women were shot down from the sky.
It was the end of the Northspring matriarchy.
Laerich and Rennah watched the finale from a large distance. He had dragged her struggling form away from the battle and hid them in a dense pack of growth near a younger tree, bending the shadows to hide them to the best of his ability. Rennah had fought and cried, trying to return to the battle, but Laerich held her firm, covering her mouth to muffle her yells.
All the while, he muttered soft words of comfort, asking and begging her to calm down and not throw her life away. The tears he could feel spilling over his hand made his heart clench, but he refused to let her go, refused to let her die. With the death of Edana, she stopped struggling and sobbed.
Laerich held her, rocking her wracking body gently as she cried, her voice alternating between the harsh caws and light trills. The mourning and sorrow was obvious through it all. He didn't let go of her until the Tauren left back to their village. Rennah was perfectly still for the first few seconds, then she whirled with an angry shriek and clawed at his throat.
The swipe only grazed his leather armor, but in the second of shock, Rennah struck again and again, this time with her fists. She beat at his chest, face flushed with anger and streaks of tears down her cheeks and around her nose, dripping down her chin. She screamed at him for taking her away when her people needed her.
When she finished, chest heaving with deep pants, white eyes murderous, blood dripping down her palms from where her claws had cut her, Laerich still had yet to say anything or move. Once he was sure she was done, he slowly brought his arms back around her and held her, feeling her pointed ear against his cheek as he rested his chin on her shoulder.
Her body was tense in his arms. She trembled once, then twice. He felt her chest hiccup against his and her breathing hitch, and then she fell into his embrace, weeping again. She cried out apologies to him and then the names of fallen sisters; she asked after the why of the butcher of her sisters; she sobbed his name, over and over.
Laerich didn't know what he said in reply, the soft mutterings that went with his tight hold over her, and he felt that she didn't know either. Just the sound of his voice and soothing tones comforted her. He didn't know how long they held each other, nestled in the wet plants beside the tower of wood, but twilight was upon them as he was repeating, "Some escape. Some of your sisters will survive. Not all is lost; some escaped. The Northspring isn't lost."
By then, Rennah no longer cried or shook. Her body was still but her arms' hold was tight. When Laerich finally stopped speaking, there was silence, merely each others presence. Finally, he drew back slightly, untensing sudden sore arms, and he could see just how drained and disheveled Rennah appeared. He kissed her brow, feeling the gem of her headpiece, and mentioned softly, "Let us sleep for now. Tomorrow we will decide what to do."
Rennah didn't fight his arms bringing her down with him, and he laid down with her curled against the smooth bark of the tree, where the soil was drier. Both of her arms clung to him as she laid atop, and his enveloped her. She nearly passed out immediately, while his mind spun with the sudden events of the day. Lingering stress was burrowed just behind his forehead, causing a dull ache, while his chest still felt tight with the panic and fear.
So long as Rennah with still with him, however, he would be alright. He managed to push all his worries and fears, all of which revolved around Rennah, out of his mind and follow her into a dark sleep.
Cloud was dead. The next morning, Laerich found his old companion lying dead near where he had left him with his throat slit and red staining his coat. Compared to Rennah's loss, it was hardly worth noticing, yet to Laerich, it was more personal. In harpy customs, it was acceptable to leave dead kin where they died, but Laerich sprinkled dust over Cloud and muttered a prayer to the Light – for what, he didn't know, but it didn't feel right to not pay respects to his oldest companion.
At his camp, Laerich packed the things he needed to continue adventuring while Rennah crouched on the flat stone, quiet. When he finished, he shouldered his backpack and hugged her, asking if she was ready to leave. She cawed a yes, rising to her feet. Before he could turn away, Rennah grabbed Laerich suddenly and kissed him.
Her white eyes glistened as she held him and said, "I love you, Laerich."
His heart soared, lightening despite the dark days, and he took her claw in his hands as he returned, "And I love you, Rennah." She gave a grateful smile.
Together, they turned and left – leaving behind the memories of their peaceful days and the great tragedy that had befallen Rennah's kin. They rejoined the path of adventuring, with Rennah the first harpy to take up that mantle and doing so in the name of the Alliance.
They made a sight. Laerich's leathers were black with dark grey trim, his weapons glowing brightly with their enchants while sheathed at his sides. He made sure that his helm, more accurately called a mask, was put away so his face was visible. Beside him, Rennah stood on her talons.
She had changed much visibly since their days in Feralas. She clothed herself appropriately, wearing a mail skirt and the traditional mail mantle that went over the head. At her side was an enchanted mace, and behind, a sturdy shield that's true use was the enchantment that strengthened her magic.
Rennah was a full fledged Shaman now, recognized by the Earthen Ring. At Laerich's word and once given a chance to prove herself, towns began to accept the harpy as a regular adventurer. Once they did, Shaman trainers recognized one of their own and asked to teach her more of her craft. The Windcaller Masters, as Rennah called them, managed to get her to the skill she should be at, for her strength.
Before long, word of the harpy that served the Alliance began reaching towns before they did, and they were met with less and less hostility. Wrapping up their business in Silithus, Laerich finally proposed a trip to the Alliance capital of Stormwind, where Rennah could be recognized as a citizen of the Alliance by the king.
Together, they passed through the gates and slowly made their way towards the Keep – him walking and Rennah flying low. The guards and many passerby's stared at the couple. Rennah in Shaman garb made her a more familiar sight and reduced any outright hostility for her race. There were whispers too, repeating the rumors of the Alliance harpy.
Laerich wasn't anything famous, but the military recognized him for his deeds, and seeing him escorting the harpy reduced any tension from them. They were left alone for the trip, up until they stood before the throne and the royal guards showed their wariness. Rennah allowed herself to touch the ground and walk, but when Laerich stopped his approach towards the king, Rennah did as well, holding onto his arm.
She was nervous, he knew, and for good reason. The King, that hard man staring with eyes of steel, could execute her on the spot and neither of them could stop it from happening. Laerich, however, showed no fear, and he smiled at her. "Speak from the heart."
Rennah squeezed his arm, and he, before all the guards and the King, kissed her lips. She smiled and straightened, turning back towards King Varian Wrynn and approaching until she was in the center of the throne room. She dropped to a kneel, head held high, and said, "King Varian Wrynn of Stormwind, leader of the Alliance, I, Rennah Falnar-Bloodwing, request to formally pledge myself to your cause and become an established member of the Alliance."
The grizzled king stirred, lifting his strong chin to stare down at her. "I have heard many reports of you. A harpy moving about my kingdom, claiming loyalty to the Alliance. More than one appeal has been made to me to put down this obvious spy." Laerich, leaning against the far wall, sat up straight. Varian's hard gaze softened. "However, attached to each report was the deeds done in each town. I cannot deny the help you have given, some of which has been invaluable."
He stood up, muscled form covered in thick armor. "You, Laerich Falnar. This woman bears your surname. Is it because you sponsor her?"
Laerich bowed formally and said, "Nay, my King. It is because I married her, under the Light." The royal guards didn't whisper among themselves, but they shot looks at each other.
"I see," said the King. "Your help, too, has been invaluable, and so shine a better name upon this... woman. Rennah Falnar-Bloodwing, I grant you welcome to the Alliance!" Laerich smiled, seeing the way Rennah's puffed her chest up in pride and beamed. The king sat again, growing solemn. "Word will be passed quickly, through the city and to the other cities of the Alliance. However, should I hear even a hint of rumor involving any treachery from you, Bloodwing, the both of you will be called in for interrogation – and if there is any truth to those rumors, both of your lives will be forfeit. Are we at an understanding?"
"Yes, my King," Laerich said, bowing again, while Rennah cocked her head and smiled, repeating, "Yes... my King."
"Good," the King mentioned, showing no softness. "Now begone from my chamber and continue your service to the Alliance."
AN: This has been completed for a while now. I'm just posting it to prove I haven't been sitting on my ass since my last update (like a year ago or so?). Matter of fact, I've written around a thousand pages of fanfiction since then, most of it stupid shenanigans. I'm trying to focus on Nem, Abbendis, and Champion, but I keep giving in to my distractions. Bah.