Aerdri awoke to the sound of an ocean breeze. For a moment she was confused and quickly bolted upright half expecting a screaming orc to be hanging over her waving his huge fist in dangerous circles above her. She expected the smell of brimstone and the distant ringing of metal on stone.
But that's not where she was.
Rubbing at her arms, somewhat out of habit but mostly from the dampness that saturated the air. She peered out of the natural nook in which she sat and looked around. Immediately realizing that she was in Darkshore only added to the confusion one sometimes has when waking from a nightmare.
"This is real?" she asked out loud, her voice cracking a bit.
Crawling out she slowly made her way around the base of the tree. When she reached the opposite side she pushed back against the base and pulled her legs in close to her chest.
It looked as though it had been raining for some time now, a gentle sprinkling. She stared at the familiar dock in Auberdine as if a distant memory. How long have I been gone? she wondered. Am I dreaming or was everything else a dream? That's when she realized that she was seeing everything through only one eye and her hand slowly went up to her face finding a tender swollen mass. A tiny pinprick of pain caused her to quickly withdraw her fingers. No, she thought, that part had not been a dream.
She watched as the large ship that often took passengers far away into the Eastern Kingdoms slowly eased closer to the dockside. A few humans on board tossed thick ropes down to a kaldorei man who was busy securing the boat in place so that the ramp could be extended. His long dark mane had been drawn back into a tight tail, she could just barely make out the many tinier braids that helped make up the mass. Upon his head he wore a black cap. It was mostly just a simple cloth that had been knotted at the back just above where his hair was tied, it seemed to be a recurrent fashion among most of the seafaring types.
As she watched him stumble about mostly ignoring the ignorant shouts from the sailors she couldn't help but smile. He carried himself with both the grace and charm of most kaldorei but there was a certain aura about him that silently seemed to radiate among many of her people now. Many of them were becoming more used to the presence of the younger races , and although she had no doubt that many still considered themselves superior she knew that someday these infant bonds between all of them would bloom into long standing friendships.
The sky brightened for a split second and after a moment a deep rolling thunder from out over the distant ocean rumbled over the sky. At first the sound startled her, bringing back memories of sounds from within the depths of the Dark Iron stronghold but then her smile increased twofold as the heavens suddenly opened. She knew the sudden downpour would not be able to clean away all of the recent taint in this land... but she thought.... it's a good start.
Staring up into the sky she slowly closed her good eye and allowed the rain to wash over her. Within a few short minutes she was soaked through to the bone. Her previously dust covered emerald locks now took on a darker hue as the water ran through it. Each drop sent a euphoric shiver up her spine as she imagined being embraced by a lover, it had the same feeling as when another runs their hands through your hair.
When she heard a faint yell beneath the sound of the cascade her attention was brought back to activities at the dock. The kaldorei man seemed to have lost a bit of patience with one of the sailors for some reason and was now waving one of his arms as if trying to correct an error the human had made. Just as he seemed to have dismissed the whole matter another human appeared nearby and tossed the night elf another thick rope. Instinctively he went to catch it but the mark, having been slightly undershot, caused him to fumble for it.
Still smiling Aerdri let out a tiny gasp and covered her mouth.
The combination of the water slick dock and the bad throw caused the dockhand to stumble a bit. Unable to gain his balance he let out more of a dismayed curse than an angry yell and promptly fell off the side into the misty surface of the water.
At first Aerdri thought he might be hurt but then felt relief as she saw the kaldorei burst though the surface. He seemed to cough a few times before swimming towards the nearest pillar supporting the dock. From the rear of the ship, a small gathering of sailors were laughing and slapping the rope tosser on the back in a congratulatory manner. Others continued with the docking process and extended the ramp now disregarding that the ship was not completely secure. Although Aerdri thought... it is probably secure enough.
The night elf had almost climbed to the top of the pillar when one of the now dockside sailors had reached down to take his hand. After pulling him up the kaldorei removed his cap and began to needlessly wring water from it as in a few short moments the rain would soak it again anyway. He stared at the sailor for a moment and then to the others on board who were still laughing. Aerdri thought that he would explode in rage, but instead the sternness of his face melted away replaced at first with a smirk and then after obviously trying to contain it he began to laugh too. The sailor gave him a quick shoulder to shoulder embrace followed by a familiar grasping of each others forearm in friendship.
At this Aerdri quickly stood, ignoring the slight dizziness, and vigorously shook her head back and forth. Her hair flew outwards looking like a wet mop. When she finally stopped many strands had become stuck to her face which she quickly swept back in one fluid motion.
"This is real." she whispered now answering her question. She then threw here head back again laughed into the sky. In the far off distance she thought she could barely make out the outline of Mt. Hyjal as it rose into the clouds above.
She shook her hair out once more only this time swept it back with both hands. Gaze still fixed in the direction of the mountain, her voice became a whisper again, "I will return, I promise." Then she smiled, took two hopping steps across the rock and dove into the rain kissed ocean below.