Veni Redemptor Gentium by Paul Schwartz.
((The first scene comes from in-game RP with Seung of Moon Guard. All credit goes to Seung's player for being a good sport and letting me filch her character into the story.))
. . . . . The evening after Farseer Firmanvaar left, the Little Cat settled herself once more on a bench beneath the draenethyst crystal in the middle of Azure Watch. As the night’s business of cooking dinner, shutting down the settlement for the night, and the joyous social bonding the draenei were known for swirled around her, she set her mind to completing the map up to Azure Watch. Intent on her work, it was not until the brown furry head settled next to her on the bench with a soft whuff sound that the Little Cat noticed the bear.
. . . . . With a gasp of surprise, she scrambled backwards off the bench. A soft, melodic giggle rang out as a small draenei girl with her hair pulled into pigtails approached into the circle of draenethyst light. “It’s alright,” she said softly, “he’s harmless.”
. . . . . The Little Cat tilted her head to the side and regarded the girl. “He’s tame?” She looked at the bear for another moment. “Will he let me pet him?”
. . . . . The pigtailed draenei girl nodded. “Yes. He won’t attack, I promise.” The Little Cat knelt and held her hand out to the large brown bear carefully. A smile settled on the pigtailed girl’s face as the bear nuzzled against the Little Cat’s hand. “See? He’s quite friendly. He has helped me a lot lately…”
. . . . . “I didn’t know the creatures on this land could be tamed…” Fascinated, the Little Cat petted the bear’s head gently.
. . . . . “I didn’t either,” the pigtailed girl said quietly, watching the two. “But…he suddenly started following me instead of attacking like most other bears. So I gave him some food, and he stayed with me.” She smiled at the bear.
. . . . . Standing slowly from her crouch, the Little Cat regarded the girl curiously. “Do other animals do that? Follow you around, I mean?”
. . . . . The pigtailed girl shrugged and looked to the side. “I don’t remember… I know so little about this place, no more than you, surely.”
. . . . . “Oh! I know a little about it. I’ve been making a map!” The Little Cat held out her map to show the girl, pointing to the half-finished tiny sketch of Azure Watch she’d been working on. “One of my jobs right now is making a map.”
. . . . . “Job? Are you working for someone? Oh… Why do I even ask? I wouldn’t recognize them if you told me anyway. I don’t recognize anyone I see here…” The girl rubbed her head, and sounded so confused and lost that the Little Cat reached out a hand to her in concern, then dropped her hand and sat back down on the bench.
. . . . . “You don’t recognize anyone at all? Did you hit your head?”
. . . . . “I don’t remember… I woke up not too far from here. Someone helped me, but I barely remember him…” The girl sat down on the bench next to the Little Cat.
. . . . . The Little Cat frowned. “There’s another man here who hit his head in the crash. But he hasn’t woken up yet. You should see a healer, just in case…”
. . . . . “I should… You know, I can’t even remember if my family was with me.” The girl looked down at her hands.
. . . . . “Maybe they’re at the main crash site? Have you been to the Exodar yet?”
. . . . . “No, I haven’t… I should though. There’s someone I must find; he might be there.” She paused and transferred her gaze from her hands to the ground, her shoulder slumping. “He was the one who saved me, but…he was not the same.” She waved a hand towards the draenei gathered around the kitchen shelter.
. . . . . “The man who hit his head, we’re escorting him to the Exodar tomorrow. I’m sure you can come with us if you’d like.”
. . . . . The pigtailed girl brightened at this. “Oh, please, if I can! Thank you so much!”
. . . . . Next to her on the bench, the Little Cat held out her hand and smiled. “I’m Xeremuriis, but you can call me Xere if you like. I’m from Telredor.” She pronounced the shortened version of her name to sound like ‘zer-ah.’
. . . . . Shyly, the pigtailed girl grasped the offered hand and shook it. “I’m Seung. It’s nice to meet you, Xere. And that’s Na’ami,” she said with a gesture towards the bear.
. . . . . “I’ll let the rest of the escort know. You can come with us in the morning.”
. . . . . Seung smiled. “Thank you. I owe you a lot for this…”
. . . . . The Little Cat stood and smiled. “It’s no problem. We’re headed there anyway. I’ll see you in the morning, Seung? I’ve got to go check on the patient.”
. . . . . Seung nodded, her pigtails bouncing. “Yes, you will. It was nice to meet you!”
. . . . . “You too. Take care!”
. . . . . As luck would have it, the mage in the escort party’s wife had been a hunter. He understood quickly that Na’ami was no risk and did an eloquent job of explaining the custom of tamed animals to the rest of the escort. After that, Seung and Na’ami were welcomed into the group as they departed Azure Watch for the Exodar.
. . . . . Standing on the tallest hill of Azure Watch, the crystal spires of the Exodar were visible in the distance. Without the injured survivor, the escort could probably finish the trek there by evening, but they agreed to set camp by late afternoon in order to not tax the injured man overmuch. He still had not awoken, although his color was good and his skin was neither frighteningly chill nor feverishly warm.
. . . . . Much like the Farseer had, Seung often ranged ahead or fell behind the group as they walked. The Little Cat chalked it up to the air of confusion the girl radiated, and kept careful watch to ensure Seung didn’t get left behind. During one of the times which Seung was keeping up with the party, the Little Cat tried to find out why the girl was so confused. Over the course of the conversation, all she managed to ascertain was that Seung had hit her head in the crash, not landed anywhere the Little Cat had yet explored, and been rescued by someone who was probably male but “different” from the rest of the draenei.
. . . . . The Little Cat decided to let the matter lie and the two girls talked of inconsequential things as they walked. They were quite near in age, it seemed, and became fast friends. The Little Cat gently guided the levitating stretcher along as the escort party, some dozen yards ahead of them, broke into a hymn to the Naaru. She knew the words – she knew the words to nearly all the draenei hymns, thanks to her grandparents – but it seemed Seung only knew the tune. The Little Cat taught her the words, and then the two girls began making up their own verses. Each got wilder than the last until the two girls dissolved in a fit of giggles. Na’ami came up and nudged the stretcher with his nose. Reminded of her duties, the Little Cat returned her attention to the task, but her heart was much lighter for it.
. . . . . The escort party and their injured survivor arrived at the Exodar by mid-morning of the next day. The mage and one of the women in the escort took the survivor straight away to the anchorites in the Vault of Lights. The Little Cat handed her completed map to one of the men who would be returning to the Vale with several crates of supplies for the survivors there.
. . . . . The Little Cat and Seung stopped at a small inn that had been set up near the entrance to the Exodar. “Let’s stay here for a while,” the Little Cat said quietly. “I’m not sure I’m ready to go looking for everyone just yet.” Seung nodded her understanding, patted the Little Cat’s shoulder, and went to find a stable for Na’ami to sleep in.
. . . . . Securing her pack in a locking cubby next to her bed, the Little Cat stepped out of the inn to get a quick assessment of what had happened to the massive ship after the crash. Rather miraculously, the core of the Exodar had plowed into the earth upright. Three of the five wings around the core where O’ros dwelt were still attached, if underground now. The Little Cat might not be ready to search out her family yet, but she had missed the gentle chiming of O’ros, so she descended the spiral to the core, the heart of the Exodar, and stopped at the base of the ramp leading up to the Naaru’s dais.
. . . . . She gasped softly as a feeling of love and peace, like she had opened her heart to the whole world, washed over her. Welcomed with a soft chime, she walked up the ramp and sat on the dais below O’ros. Her fingers tingled and fizzed from the proximity to this being of pure Light. For several minutes, she simply sat in peace. Unbidden, the memory of Farseer Firmanvaar’s slumped shoulders came to her mind.
. . . . . “Blessed one,” she asked quietly, alone in the core with the Naaru, “why do you turn away from the Broken? Why do you cut them off from the Light?”
. . . . . The chimes did not change tone at first, but then the Naaru released a series of notes which made an odd sort of telepathic sense, as if O’ros spoke directly into her mind. The Light loves even the Broken. Even the Legion. But they must be held separate from the Light, because they have been touched strongly by entropy. Even the Light holds the seed of entropy, so we must be kept safe from it. You are blessed by the Light, not an embodiment of it.
. . . . . “It still seems cruel,” the Little Cat murmured, her tone upset and her memory of the Farseer strong.
. . . . . O’ros played a soothing note and said no more. As the Little Cat sat there beneath the Naaru, a living embodiment of the Light, a resolve formed in her heart, fueled by the naïve idealism of youth. If the Light could not show its love for all things out of fear, she would try to help. She would try to learn to love without fear, to listen to everyone, even the shunned, and do what she could to love where the Light could not. It was only fair!
. . . . . The anchorites’ efforts were finally enough to wake the badly injured survivor. His horn would always be missing, but he emerged from his coma with most of his memory intact.
. . . . . The Little Cat learned after a few days of being at the Exodar that her grandparents were still missing; no one had seen them since the sermon Exarch Omii had given on the morning of the crash. Her mother, Habii, was well and at the Exodar, however. The Little Cat nearly bowled her slender mother over with a hug, then endured much fussing over her broken horn and the subtle loss of coltish awkwardness which had come from her adventures over the last month.
. . . . . Recognizing that her little cat was rapidly approaching adulthood – a fairly arbitrary moment usually decided upon by draenei parents – Habii agreed to let her daughter find her own quarters within the Exodar. At this pronouncement, the Little Cat was too elated for a full day to remember to ask about her uncles.
. . . . . She found herself a small room near the mines in the Crystal Hall. Despite the Prophet Velen’s open-armed acceptance of the Broken, most draenei were still not comfortable living near them, so she had her pick of available space. After she settled into the room, the Little Cat realized she had forgotten to ask about her uncles. Hooves echoing throughout the corridors of the Exodar, she ran back to her mother’s quarters to ask after them.
. . . . . “Well, my little cat,” her mother said quietly. “The twins were here, but they have been sent off to help the settlement of Silvergale – actually, I think they’re calling it Blood Watch now. But you know how Diyos is, always wanting to have an adventure. Of course, Athos went with him.”
. . . . . The Little Cat nodded in understanding; she knew how crazy Diyos could be sometimes. “And uncle Zunaadrin?”
. . . . . Habii sighed and looked away from her daughter. “He was here… Have you seen the short peach and brown people in the corridors?” The Little Cat shook her head. “Well, those are humans – one of the intelligent races on this planet,” her mother explained. “Apparently, our crash created a bright light and a great deal of noise. The intelligent races here noticed and sent an expedition to these islands to see what happened.”
. . . . . “So there’s a whole planet out there to learn about!” blurted out the Little Cat.
. . . . . Habii chuckled quietly. “That’s my girl… Yes, we have a lot to start learning, and very quickly. The Prophet’s vision has come to pass; these races are the Army of the Light we’ve been looking for.” As her daughter gasped, Habii went on, “Part of the expedition sent here are in a society much like our own Hand of Argus. They call themselves the Argent Dawn.” The draenei woman stumbled a little over the unfamiliar Common words.
. . . . . A furrow creased the Little Cat’s brow. “Arrshent Doon?” she echoed, trying out the words.
. . . . . “Close enough. They are devout followers of the Light. They see it a little differently than we do, since they have never been blessed to meet the Naaru, but they are the prophesied Army we sought. Your uncle Zunaadrin has joined them. He left with them on a boat two weeks after the catastrophe. Zunaadrin has promised to send letters back to us to help us understand this world.” Habii picked absently at the trim on her robe, a sad expression on her face. “Another group of our people was sent north by the Prophet. All I know is that the land there is very cold and the Prophet foresees that it is important. Ah, little cat, we have landed in a strange and busy place…”
. . . . . In contrast to her mother’s weary tone, the Little Cat quivered in her seat with excitement. “There’s so much to do, then! We’ve found the Army of the Light! We can finally fight the Legion back for good! Maybe we can return to Draenor and find daddy!”
. . . . . Habii’s glowing eyes dimmed as tears filled them. “Xeremuriis, darling, no. Do not go there. The ship is broken. If there is a way back to Draenor, I do not know of it. Let it be, little cat.”
. . . . . Her daughter’s enthusiasm did not wane. She dreamed big, certain that this brave new world with its Army of the Light would offer all the solutions she sought.
. . . . . With her friend Seung, the Little Cat found one of the humans who had remained at the Exodar as an emissary and convinced her to teach them both the Common tongue. Two months after she arrived at the Exodar, the Little Cat sat cross-legged on her bed in her room. Down the corridor from her, the repetitive pinging of the mining picks had become a soothing backdrop to her studies. She ran a finger down the page of a book the human woman had given her, slowly wrapping her mouth around the strange syllables she had been practicing.
. . . . . “In ze Second Var… Tch! Ze… Tuh. Heh. Eee. Thhh-eee. Thuh-ee. The. The!” She grinned at herself as she finally got the pronunciation right.
. . . . . The book told of an event the humans called the Second War. As far as the Little Cat could tell, it seemed that the orcs who had gone mad on Draenor had come through some giant portal to this world of Azeroth and attacked the humans and their allies too. How strange the Light worked, sometimes, to have the Exodar crash on the same planet the marauding orcs of the Legion had come to.
. . . . . The emissary, while letting the Little Cat borrow the book, had mentioned that there were now some orcs who claimed they had recovered, rejected the fel energies of the Legion, and returned to their shamanic roots. The Little Cat wasn’t entirely sure she trusted this, but she knew her own people had gained Farseer Nobundo and the shaman from the knowledge the orcs had rejected. If they had returned to what she knew of the peaceful ways of the shaman, this couldn’t be a bad development.
. . . . . “…much fightink. –Ink... Eee. Nuhn. Kee.” She sighed. “Guh-ee. Gee. Eenngeeuh. –Ing.” Proud of herself, she kept reading long into the night.