Friday, October 30, 2009

Little Cat's Second Lesson

Written while listening to Hero of Love by Live.

. . . . . “Over here, Sennar,” the Little Cat called, her soft voice betraying several days’ worth of exhaustion. As her companion pushed through the underbrush, the Little Cat dropped to her knees beside the crumpled draenei woman on the ground. The woman’s arms were a raw, glistening dark purple; patches around the edges of the wounds were dry and blackened. Her clothes were ashes around her. Stuffing all the worry over the woman’s condition deep into the back of her mind, the Little Cat called forth a memory of O’ros and its gentle chiming to the forefront of her mind. She concentrated hard on hope and held her hands over the burned survivor, praying. The Naaru’s gift of healing Light channeled through the Little Cat’s hands.
. . . . . Sennar arrived at her side and watched for a moment. He was always a little awed by how brightly Xeremuriis sparkled when she called upon the Light. Surely, she would be a revered exarch like her grandmother in time. He knelt and lent his own gift to the survivor. Their combined efforts were enough.
. . . . . The injured draenei woman awoke with a sob of pain. The small gifts of the two young draenei could only stabilize her – true healing would take the Farseer’s help back at the Vale. One of the other rescue teams had found an anchorite, but he was still in recovery and unable to aid in the infirmary yet. The Little Cat gently touched the woman’s cheek to focus her. “Lady, you have survived. Thank the Naaru. We are deeply sorry, but we must move you to the infirmary. It will hurt.” The woman’s lips compressed into a thin line and she nodded once, very slowly.
. . . . . The Little Cat slid one hand behind the survivor’s back to steady her as Sennar tucked an arm beneath the woman’s legs. Sennar’s hand replaced hers on the woman’s back as he picked her up and held her as gently as he could. “Quick, Sennar. Get her back to the infirmary. I will keep looking.”

. . . . . The residential units of the Exodar had been situated near the Warp Piston to take advantage of the residual warmth. Unfortunately, this meant they were utterly destroyed by the blast. Tiny pieces of the ship were scattered all over the Vale. From time to time – for days afterwards – pieces still fell from the sky. The arcane energy released in the blast danced across the skies in colorful arcane storms every night.
. . . . . With most of the draenei on the Exodar about their duties on the ship at the time, there were few left in the residential corridors when the catastrophe struck. This left few able-bodied survivors for the rescue teams, and so no one – not even those who knew her grandparents – objected to placing the Little Cat on one of the three search and rescue teams, despite her youth. She was young, but she was strong and hale, so she was equipped with a small wooden mace of which she understood the basics, paired with a young man named Sennar, and sent to look for more survivors.
. . . . . Search and rescue is brutal, demanding work. What survivors the Little Cat and Sennar found were often badly burned or broken from the fall. Those they found who had not survived, they haunted the Little Cat’s nights for long, long after the crash.

. . . . . Splitting up the team while Sennar took the burned draenei woman back to the infirmary may not have been the wisest decision, but the Little Cat was so weary that clear thinking eluded her. She nearly stumbled several times as she made her way towards the hills around the Vale. The thick blue underbrush let out a sharp, tangy scent as it was crushed beneath her hooves. The sap of the grayish-blue, piney trees stuck to her skin whenever she brushed too close to them. Several large moths floated by, although how parts of the Exodar’s menagerie had landed in the area was a mystery to her. However, the familiar pearly yellow wings and gentle huff-huff of their beating helped ease some of the abysmally lost feeling that the Little Cat had been suffering since the catastrophe.
. . . . . As she neared the hills, the terrain began to dip into a basin, funneling her into a clearing surrounded by the hills. A scent of turned earth so heavy she could taste it at the back of her throat hung over the clearing. But it was not a piece of the Exodar plowed into the land which created the scent – it was the massive and agitated earth elemental about thirty yards away from the tree line where she stood. She knew of elementals only from listening to Chakaa’s lessons to his apprentices aboard the Exodar, but this magical, swirling, upright collection of rocks fit the description well.
. . . . . A second of fear was quickly wiped away with concern. Somehow, the Little Cat could understand that the elemental was upset. It was just a weird feeling, a niggling at the back of her head, but she needed to listen. Carefully placing her hooves, her expression grave, she made her way to only a few yards from the elemental.
. . . . . “How can I help?” she asked quietly, tilting her head a little to the right to listen. A solid, heavy sensation brushed her mind. The very earth itself had been disturbed by the Exodar’s intrusion. Most of the elementals understood that it had been an accident, but a few had become maddened by rage. They were attacking their fellow elementals. If this continued, the balance of the area would be terribly damaged.
. . . . . “I will do my best, great spirit,” the Little Cat reassured the earth elemental before her. She slipped free her small wooden mace, briefly wishing it were metal instead while she surveyed the clearing. Towards the back, she did indeed see some smaller earth elementals tossing clods of rock and dark soil at swirling whirlwinds and strangely cohesive shapes of teal water. “I will be amazed at this later,” she said to herself, “Right now, I just need to help.”
. . . . . She took off towards the battling embodiments of the very spirits of this strange new land at a fast trot. The first crack of her wooden mace against the solid rock body of an enraged earth elemental jarred her arms clear up to her shoulders. Her hands went numb and she nearly dropped the weapon. But the Little Cat’s sudden attack distracted the elemental long enough for one of the strange globes of teal water to descend, drenching the rock. A whirlwind swirled up, buffeting the girl back a step with a chill wind that froze the water on the rock. She stepped forward again and slammed her mace into the rock, throwing all her weight into the swing. The enraged earth elemental burst apart in a shower of dust and rock shards which fell to the quiescent earth and sank into it.
. . . . . This pattern continued for nearly an hour. As the odds turned and the other elementals gained the advantage, the Little Cat sensed it was time for her to retreat. She returned to the larger earth elemental, her arms trembling with exhaustion. Sweat dripped down the scaleplates of her forehead, and the tendrils behind her ears drooped along her shoulders.
. . . . . The solid heaviness brushed her mind again. It held a certain gratitude, and an offering of a boon. The earth was expansive, it knew things, it knew all things that trod upon it. As thanks, the earth elemental left in the Little Cat’s mind the whereabouts of several more survivors in the area. A brief infusion of earthen power stabilized her weary body.
. . . . . “Oh…” she breathed softly, unaccustomed to this touch from anything other than the Light. However her grandparents might have seen it, she did not feel distressed by the feeling – far from it – and so she worried not. “Thank you, great spirit,” the Little Cat murmured, tucking the handle of her mace into her belt. “I will retrieve my people from your back quickly.” The sense of the elemental in her mind faded gently. She left the clearing, headed for the nearest survivor. “I hope Sennar isn’t too far off…”

. . . . . The Little Cat and Sennar recovered another seven survivors with the boon of the earth elemental. It took them two days to find and carry them all back to the infirmary. When she was not searching the land, the Little Cat did as she had on the Exodar and helped keep the place tidy.
. . . . . About twenty days had passed since the catastrophe when Zhanaa, one of the technicians, finally got the emitter working. The news was heartening – a large portion of the ship was intact, many more had survived the crash, and O’ros was undamaged.
. . . . . The Little Cat sat on a hillside outside the infirmary the evening after the emitter was repaired, a broom across her knees. Her glowing eyes were fixed on the sky. Dark pink streaks of light jumped among violet and blue clouds of residual arcane energy. The violet clouds reminded her of her mother’s “light shows” she used to do to make the Little Cat laugh as a child in Telredor. Her mother might still be alive, then, if much of the rest of the ship was intact. Her uncles and grandparents too…
. . . . . A frown crossed the Little Cat’s face and she reached up to toy absently with one of the tendrils behind her left ear. It was a horrible, horrible thing for her to even think, but a tiny part of her hoped her grandparents were missing still. Here at the Vale, she had been able to truly be useful, treated like a valued member of the community. The exarch’s wrath held no sway here when every hale body was needed to keep everyone alive. If she returned to the Exodar, back under her family’s watchful and overprotective care, she would lose this new independence, this new sense of adulthood she had found.
. . . . . She could battle elementals! She could heal the wounded! She was not a useless woman-child here in the Vale. The Little Cat cast a mournful gaze at the broom in her lap. “Even if I do still sweep the floors…” With a huffy exhalation, the Little Cat propped her elbow on her knee, then her chin on her hand, and she watched the arcane storm dance in the clouds.


  1. I really enjoyed your recreation of the draenei starting quests. Little Cat's gratitude at being a valuable member of society was a good touch at the end; it fits quite well for somebody her age, and in her society.

    A few suggestions. This sentence was a bit awkward: "Those they found who had not survived, they haunted the Little Cat’s nights for long, long after the crash." Consider shortening it, or splitting it into two. Also, I'm not sure that a wooden weapon would be at all effective against something made of stone, though I'm guessing that's from a game.

    I'll comment on the next one when I get the chance. Keep writing!

  2. I'll take a look at re-writing that sentence; thanks!

    And yes, the starter mace for a shaman is this dinky, silly wooden affair that really doesn't seem all that useful. I tried to have her make note of that later on.