Author: Pook

The winter that year had been especially brutal in the forest. All of its inhabitants, man and animal alike, were facing hard choices. Many times the decision came down to choosing between having many starve to death together, or pooling the scarce resources available together for a few. And some decisions were taken entirely out of the hands of those affected most by them due to circumstance or blind fate.

During this winter, a Nightsaber left her den. Flattening her ears against the cold, she trudged on without purpose, alive despite herself. The winter had proved too hard for her cubs. Pure animal instinct drove her again into the cold when, if she'd had the ability to really think about it, she'd really rather stay with them and die herself. But hunger drove her paws, and perhaps, if one believed in that sort of thing, the insistent spirits of those now beyond the cold.

The Nightsaber heard a noise, sharp and insistent. At first she withdrew from the unpleasantness of it, but something inside of her, some remainder of her maternal instinct, made her eventually creep closer.

In a small clearing there were the frozen bodies of two Night Elves, no longer of this world. Why they were in the middle of the forest in the middle of winter was anyone's guess, and the dead are not known for their revelations. Their garments and their lack of other belongings, however, seemed to suggest that their journey was unexpected and hasty. They were huddled, protectively, around a basket. And in the basket, bundled carefully and wailing piercingly, was a baby Night Elf. She was hungry, and the Nightsaber had milk to spare.

She wasn't a magical talking Nightsaber. She had no special fondness for the two-legged kind or any kind of empathic bond with them. Even for her species she wasn't particularly intelligent. But somehow, she managed to keep the little Night Elf alive long enough for her to fend on her own.

In the intervening years the world changed in many ways. Kings rose and fell and wars were waged. The Night Elves lost their immortality and grew a new World Tree in Teldrassil. But some things never change, like how feet get driven of their own volition to new places to find food and shelter.

Dawn rose over the new World Tree. Calloused and muddy bare feet followed a path that opened up to a bustling community of Night Elves going to and fro. The owner of the feet watched these comings and goings from the shadows until she couldn't take it anymore, her stomach rumbling insistently. People tended to stare as she passed. Although she was a Night Elf she didn't carry herself as regally as most others. Her hair was tangled and full of scraps of leaves. And there was the fact that other than some scraps of cloth and a good deal of caked-on muck, she wasn't wearing much in the way of clothing. She ignored the others and followed the scent of cooking fish up the tree, into a small room where two Elves gaped at her entry. The female started to ask what her business was there, but the male held out a staying arm at her.

"The light of Elune shines on us," He said, "Because I see great potential within you."

In the doorway the girl blinked. All the sounds jumbled together in her ears but she was hardly able to make sense of them. She chewed nervously on the tip of one of her own ears. "Prrrow?" she said, a rolling sound halfway between a question and a purr, her eyes fixed on the plate of fish that they'd brought up for their breakfast.

"What is your name, child?" Mardant Strongoak asked her.

Squinching up her face in thought, the Elf was finally able to puzzle out the basic intent of his words. She placed a hand over her heart.


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