01 December 2012

The Red-Leaf Trees

Weipon coughed, clambering to her feet and waving smoke out of her face. Many of the soldiers were already up and moving. She rushed forward to meet Aysa and Ji, who were already surveying the results of Ji's plan.

She stifled a moan. The ship had been successfully dislodged from Shen Zin Su's side, leaving behind a seemingly endless gush of fresh, bright blood. Somehow, more saurok were pouring onto the beach. Everywhere, both Horde and Alliance soldiers were leaping into action.

Aysa turned to Ji, "Look at what you've done!" she shouted. "He is dying, Ji!"

"His wounds can be healed!" Ji countered. He took a step in order to punch a saurok in the jaw, sending it flying back into the fray.

At that moment, Shen Zin Su positively roared, sending them all to their knees as the island rippled in agony.

"I hope you can forgive yourself for what you've done to him," Aysa replied thickly. She moved to join the throng of healers that were clustering at the red lip of the wound and pouring spells into the exposed flesh.

Ji swallowed, cheeks twitching with the effort not to call out to her. He spun to Weipon instead. "Keep those saurok off the healers!" She nodded and hastened to help.

A pair of saurok were hassling a thin, willowy human wearing nothing more protective than a cloth robe. His hands glowed brightly, and it seemed that a shimmery, transparent bubble was protecting him from the worst of the attacks. Weipon dispatched one of the saurok with a flying kick to the neck, then jabbed a knuckle into the other's kidney. It grunted, distracted from its squishier prey, and turned to deal with the new threat. At that moment, an enormous cat leaped at it from behind, raking it from shoulder to hamstring. The saurok crumpled into a heap, and Weipon couldn't stop the tiny shriek as the cat turned its round, intelligent eyes on her.

Then, the cat began to flow liquidly upward, finally resolving into the shape of a troll. "Come! Go!" she urged the human in heavily-accented Common, shouting around the two enormous tusks protruding from her mouth. Tiny leaves were already sprouting at her feet and being drawn upward as she gathered her power. Clamping down her amazement, Weipon looked for another opponent.

It was hard to keep track of the healing effort in the panic of each fight to the death, but after some breathless minutes Weipon found that her seeking fists found nothing left to fight. Half-dizzy with adrenalin, she sought out the angry wound, hoping that somehow Ji had managed to pull it off.

Already, it looked better than it had. The hemorrhaging had stopped, and a thin layer of tender pink skin covered where the ship had pierced the shell. Before Weipon's eyes, the skin darkened and thickened, and now the wound looked weeks old instead of merely hours. Then, she watched in half-disgust as the broken shell began to slowly, agonizingly knit back together. Closer to the beach, a human priest faltered, slumping in exhaustion. Then, an enormous, furred hand closed around her neck, as a tauren nearly twice her size propped her up and channeled rejuvenating magic into her.

Silently, Ji joined her, eyes as round as the other spectators'. "It's working," he said, with more than a little disbelief. The shell finally reformed, hardening and darkening into a simple patch of discolored dirt. There was a collective sigh of relief. Everywhere, healers were collapsing, sitting down where they were or, in the case of one hunched troll, fainting straight away into the unsuspecting night elf next to him. Weipon noticed that where the druids had stood, saplings were pushing through the new soil, shooting up to full height and blooming leaves in crimson and burgundy. "That was amazing," Ji murmured, passing a shaking hand over his heart.

Weipon picked Korga Strongmane out of those rushing to aid the healers. He was currently glaring down his nose at the stoic Delora Lionheart. Ji followed her gaze, muttered "wuh oh," and rushed over to stave off the coming confrontation.

"...don't push me, human," Korga finished with a derisive snort.

Delora raised her chin. "Stand down, tauren, before I put you back in chains."

"Now, now, let's not do anything we might regret," Ji began, rushing to stand beside Korga.

Aysa came up to meet Delora at the same moment. "That's rich, coming from you," she replied with a grimace.

He opened his mouth to argue, then thought better of it. "What's important is that Shen Zin Su is no longer in danger, and we can turn to the much happier matter of seeing everyone off to where they need to be. I propose we all reconvene at the Temple of Five Dawns to discuss this. Also, I could really use a solid meal."

After a long, deliberate pause, Aysa replied, "That would be acceptable."

The pair broke apart, Ji and Korga rounding up the Horde ex-prisoners while Aysa and Delora commanded the Alliance soldiers. Weipon stood, frozen in the middle, suddenly unable to think over the roaring in her ears. Finally, she was shaken from her confusion by a heavy hand on her shoulder. A tauren was saying something, but she couldn't focus. The tauren peered into Weipon's face, nodded in recognition at what she saw there, and did something that made Weipon feel both chillingly refreshed and incredibly relaxed.

"Why don't you ride this cart back to the temple," the tauren said, kindly sitting Weipon down on the back of a supply cart. "You're bushed."

Weipon nodded dumbly, but the tauren was already attending to other things. Quietly, she mumbled, "What's 'bushed'?"

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