Not long ago,
Haiendrion had been a patient man. He had tried to fish again, just a few nights
ago, and he couldn’t. The waiting used to relax him, now it agitated him.
Fishing was all he had left of Nendis, and now that has slipped through his
fingers as well. Mathzoril had changed him. Acherix had taken away everything
that Illidan missed.
back and forth in front of the bed in the Moonglade, under Eilassyn’s watchful
gaze, every passing second drove him to the brink of insanity and back again.
It had been
three days before anyone found him.
had been so tired, so thirsty, so hungry, so hurt. He had wanted to collapse,
but he couldn’t. What if Acherix wasn’t working alone? What if agents were
hunting him still?
shadow was always there. The dryad silhouette with Thelnylla’s indistinct,
disembodied voice. Was it her ghost? Her spirit? Her shadow from the dream?
Merely Haiendrion’s fevered delusions? It was all of that, and more. Or none of
that, and less.
By the end of
the third day his vision had blurred, and he had begun to hallucinate. All the
while, exposed to the overwhelming power of Norgannon’s Tear, the flower he had
picked from the peak of Mathzoril which brimmed with the chaotic energies of the
arcane. He couldn’t be sure which was responsible for which. He was losing
feeling in his extremities. His head had ached for forty-eight hours straight.
But all he needed to know, all he needed to understand was where Thelnylla’s
She stayed on
the edge of his perception, leading him down the mountain. When he fell, she
would stand there, staring at him through the snowstorm with her eyes of
impossible green until he rose. And when he felt he couldn’t, she would tell him
he could until he believed her.
His legs had
failed him as the ground evened out. He had fought to stay conscious, and he did
so by watching Thelnylla through the storm. He had clutched the case with the
tear to his chest, had locked his arms around it in the hopes that in death, his
rigor would prevent an easy victory for his foes, allowing him some small
This is how
far gone he was.
eventually even the eyes of Thelnylla could not hold him to the waking world. He
felt the melting snow soak through his leathers, his skin growing numb and hot
with frostbite, and he knew, then, that death was upon him. If he lost
consciousness, he would die, and his grip was fading. He had failed.
I’m sorry, he
couldn’t collect his thoughts enough to speak. He could only think it.
everything I could.
sorry,” it was Thelnylla’s voice, but with a strange tone he had never heard her
use before. It was her and wasn’t her at the same time. “It was enough.”
And then the
world was dark to him.
He did not
of dwarves had found him and transported him back to Starfall Village. He was
unconscious for a day and a half. Treating him had been difficult, as any
attempt to remove the box he hugged to his chest would result in violent
convulsions. He had awoken nearly naked, doused in ointments, the case still in
his arms, leaving divots in his chest.
had sent word to the Moonglade, and Bandalar’s retainers - Eilassyn and Norrund
Grovewalker - had arrived to collect him a few days later.
Bandalar’s second dryad lieutenant, had been greatly disturbed by Thelnylla’s
death. She and Norrund had remained in Starfall, helping Haiendrion recover with
their potent healing powers until he was fit to travel, then they returned to
the Moonglade. Eilassyn had handled the Tear.
trained Haiendrion in the hopes that he would be the one to create the potion.
The potion of the dreamless sleep. Bandalar refused to let him. He claimed that
he had been exposed to the Tear too extensively, and he couldn’t risk him any
further. Besides, Haiendrion was still very weakened from his ordeal in
Winterspring, and he needed to recover substantially before he could take the
potion and delve into the Dream.
That was all
That was what
Thelnylla had died for.
the dreamless sleep were not uncommon. The potion induced a sleep without
allowing the imbiber to dream on their own. As such, they became linked to the
Emerald Dream instead. A connection to the Emerald Dream allowed one to more
quickly heal their wounds or recover their energies, and such was the intent of
Bandalar was creating, however, was far more potent. With it, Haiendrion would
be put into a deep sleep without dreaming. His consciousness would enter wholly
into the Emerald Dream, and would be directed to where his recurring dream was
taking place. He would no longer be a mere observer of the scene of the warrior
on the precipice, he would be a part of it.
instructions were clear. Haiendrion was to make contact. Emeriss, or his agents,
had guided Bandalar to Haiendrion, and the only possible reason could be his
inexplicable, unique connection to this woman. Haiendrion needed to find out
whatever she had to tell him.
It took the
potion five days to render properly, and by the time it was finished, Haiendrion
had almost fully recovered.
arranged that the ritual would be conducted at dusk, just as Haiendrion awoke.
He had advised, ironically, that in order to prepare for the dreamless sleep, he
would need a good night’s sleep.
That night he
had dreamed of the massacre at Nendis. He dreamed of Illidan.
sat on the bed, tapping his foot, fidgeting with the edge of his tunic.
There was a
knock at the door, and Haiendrion bolted upright to his feet. Eilassyn shook her
head, the dry, autumn leaves of her hair rustling with the motion. “It’s just
Norrund,” she said as she trotted over to the door and opened it.
Grovewalker entered, a bundle of blankets in his arms. He nodded his greetings
to the two and set the blankets down at the foot of the bed. Haiendrion sat back
stood, clapping the dust from his hands, and noted the anxiety on the other
druid’s face. “He’s on his way, don’t worry. He wanted me to make sure you’re
drinking plenty of water.”
a wooden pitcher and poured the water within into a matching chalice. She handed
it to Haiendrion, and he drank it down in two gulps. Eilassyn’s movements, her
whole attitude, were efficient and to the point. Perhaps, Haiendrion theorized,
the dryads’ usually playful and affable expressions grew dour when the autumn
came. Then again, she had grown cold and distant to him since she had learned
that Thelnylla had died in his company.
the cup back from him and refilled it. This time Haiendrion merely took one sip
and set it aside on the bedside table.
made any plans for provisions while we stand guard?” asked Eilassyn. “This could
go on for days; weeks even.”
smirked. “I understand he’s made some arrangement with Desdel’s attendants, but
I don’t think it’s especially necessary...”
yourself, Norrund,” Eilassyn warned. “If this Nightmare is as insidious as
Bandalar believes, forces may attempt to assault him from the physical world as
well as the Dream.” She nodded in Haiendrion’s direction. “Haiendrion’s training
has prepared him for possible attacks from the Dream but he will be defenseless
in this world. It will be up to us to protect him. Our will cannot falter. Nor
can our stamina.”
sighed. “Very well,” he conceded.
The scent of
mud in springtime preceded Bandalar bursting through the door. Haiendrion sprang
to his feet once again. He was seized simulteneously by relief and anxiety.
nodded knowingly, his great antlers nearly scraping the high ceiling. “It is
He removed a
bundle wrapped in a mottled green cloth, and handed it to Eilassyn. She
unwrapped the cloth and revealed the pewter vial inside. She glanced at
Bandalar. “Have all the preparations been made?”
nodded his heavy head. “Are you ready, Haiendrion?”
took a deep breath. “I am, Shan’do.”
a hand on the druid’s shoulder and gripped it tightly. “Have you been drinking
plenty of water?”
rolled his eyes. “Yes, Shan’do.”
“Then the way
is clear,” Bandalar released him. “Whenever you are ready, Eilassyn will feed
you the potion.”
got into the bed and sat upright. Eilassyn approached him, the vial
outstretched. He instrinctively reached for it but she moved his hand away with
her free one. He was not to touch the vial, merely drink of it. There was an
outside chance, Bandalar had told him, that his touch could contaminate the
potential effects. And they were taking no such chances.
She was about
to touch the vial to his lips when he pulled back, and looked her in the eye.
“If I don’t come back... I’m sorry about Thelnylla.”
face was impassive. She leaned forward and poured the potion into his mouth.
It stung his
eyes and his nostrils. Cold began to bleed out from his mouth to the rest of his
body before he even swallowed it. He tried to speak, but he couldn’t feel his
tongue. He collapsed backwards. Eilassyn held his back and guided his head
gently to his pillow. His vision was swirling, blurring, blending, acquiring
shades and colours he had never imagined his eyes were capable of seeing. His
guardians became the walls, the walls and ceiling became the floor. The floor
became the bed. The beg became him. He tried to move his fingers, but they
didn’t even twitch.
Even when he
closed his eyes, he could do nothing but see.
the Emerald Dream as Haiendrion experienced it is a feat which defies all
languages known in Azeroth and beyond. For the languages of men and immortals
are limited to expressions understood through the senses. The Emerald Dream
defies the senses, and defies the physical limits of the mind these senses are
interpreted through. Such that one cannot recollect the full extent of their
experience within the Dream. Memories, when subject to the limitations of the
unforgiving Real, are echoes and shadows, steeped in symbols, metaphors, and
layers of subtle consciousness.
This is what
Haiendrion could remember:
be certain how it began. Whether he had beheld this fog for years or eons, had
it crepts into his vision, had it flashed before him in the blink of an eye he
could not say. He didn’t just see it, he felt it, heard it, tasted it, was it.
It dyed his world an emerald green.
At the edge
of his perception: sounds. They disturbed the peace of this fog. He looked in no
direction and beheld a tall cliff ascending or extending or descending before
him. He saw a voice fall or rise to him, and when he met it, he knew it. He had
experienced it before, and it had terrified him. That terror comforted him, now.
A ball of
snow appeared in his vision, and struck the back of his head.
turned, wiping snow out of his hair. Thelnylla stood atop the peak of Mathzoril,
only there was no blizzard, and there was no flower. She laughed impishly, and
gathered another ball of snow, ready to pelt him once again.
grinned, and rolled to the side, making his own snowball and retaliating. It
struck her flank, and she scoffed in mock indignation, then began to frolick
away. Haiendrion gave chase. Thelnylla’s delicate hooves sent up tufts of snow
Then a hand
gripped his arm, pulling him back. He recognized her touch. It was Thelnylla.
But when he turned to look at her she was a distance away, obscured by a
creeping, green fog. So much so that he only beheld a shadow, with two swirling
orbs of green where her eyes should have been. They were angry eyes.
forgotten her so quickly?”
spat. It was Thelnylla’s voice, but it was not Thelnylla.
back to the other Thelnylla. She was shouting, but not at him. At the shadow
behind him. But when she did, her face grew somehow sallow, and the leaves in
her hair looked slick with decay. When she clenched her fists, the vines around
her arms were cracked and dry. It was not Thelnylla at all.
druid,” she enticed, her voice softening. “Let us play. We were friends once.
Let us play as we once did.”
was deteriorating faster now. Her frosty skin was falling away, revealing
yellowed, broken flesh. The soft cervine hide melted away like wax, and beneath
was matted, mangy fur. Her hair, her face was shed like a snakeskin, and he
beheld now a ruinous, dreaded face. She had the proportions of the nymphic
dryads, but her eyes were sunken, her face prematurely aged. Her hair was a
tangled mess of rotting vines, leaves, and flowers.
druid,” she said again, in a voice that was not Thelnylla’s at all. It was a
terrible, familiar voice. “I will watch over you.”
Hers was the
voice that ended his dream.
Haiendrion shouted, and the last vestiges of the illusion were no more. The snow
on the ground exploded into a thick, green fog, and the scent of rotten cabbage
drifted from the strange dryad.
blazed, and she growled - it was a strange, gutteral sound. “You were foolish to
bring him here, Dreamling!” she spoke not to Haiendrion, but to the dryad’s
shadow behind him. The shadow was becoming less distinguishable. “I tried to be
merciful! I tried to end this kindly! And you...” now her eyes were on him, and
he felt more naked than he thought possible, “... you could have had a happy
prison. We could have played together through the endless reaches of the Dream
for an eternity. Instead, I shall trap you here in torment beyond your feeble
imagination.” She grinned. “Only one such as I, who has known the Nightmare as I
have, can plumb the depths of that dark place.”
Thelnylla, her image shimmering now, like a reflection in a troubled pond, but
heard not her voice. The voice he heard was strangely bestial and, he was almost
had lost all sense of himself, and so was uncertain what he could do with such a
request. But the shadow suddenly dispersed into a violent cloud of wispy
darkness that swept past him and enveloped the rotting dryad like a swarm of
angry bees. The dryad shrieked, her voice splitting his vision and darkening the
fog like arrows streaming oil behind them.
emerged from the swarm, expelled, almost. It flapped wings, and wagged a short
tail, but it was otherwise indistinct. Yet, Haiendrion knew the creature. He
felt warm empathy for it, and it warmed him, spreading through his being, as if
his heart was made of butter and his ribs were a heated grill. He loved it, and
wanted to help it.
moved towards them, to try and aid the creature, but it turned to him, bright,
swirling green eyes visible now within the shadows. “No! You must find the
Haiendrion struggled to narrow his focus enough to speak. “I don’t know how to
drawn to her, connected to her,” the creature shouted, still attacking the
dryad. “Just let yourself go, and you will be brought to her.”
dryad lashed out, a rotten vine oozing ochre sap whipping the creature aside.
She roared in defiance, attempted to jump at Haiendrion, but the creature was
before her again, flapping its wings fervently, and swinging its little limbs at
know how, but he looked down, saw nothing below him, and so fell. He looked up,
or down, and saw behind him the rolling chaos of the small creature and the
rotten dryad, retreating into the distance.
down, or up, and saw in front of him the same precipice he had seen before. The
same woman on it.
And then, he
was at her side. The ground beneath him was firm, the sky above him was empty,
and the wooden staff in his hands was solid.
shadow attacked him. He threw out his arms, spun his staff, struck it in the
face. It fell, and disappeared, into the ground.
The night elf
woman gasped, noticing him for the first time. “Who are you?” she asked, so
bewildered she was almost struck by one of the shadow creatures. Haiendrion
grabbed her by the arm, pulling her away, and smashed the shadow in its would-be
face with the butt of his staff.
Haiendrion!” he shouted above the growls and shrill cries of the shadows. “I
have been brought to you, but I know not why!”
capture you too?” she cried, artfully spinning her twin glaives at the shadows,
tearing them apart like moldy curtains.
Haiendrion, deflecting a strike from one of the shadows. “Who?”
could answer, there was a disturbance behind them, and in the sky above them a
dark, grinning face appeared.
“You will not
It was the
The night elf
nodded at the face in the sky. “Sindrathel.”
her glaive. “Sindrathel.”
contorted into a wicked smile. “Your struggle is fut-” she stopped, suddenly, as
her glaring eyes fell on Haiendrion. “You!” she hissed. “You meddlesome fool!”
She opened her mouth, wider than should have been possible, and a shrill,
piercing wail fell upon the precipice.
stopped. They turned their eyeless faces to Haiendrion, and then sprang towards
The elf woman
stepped between them and him, destroying two in one strike.
leave! She won’t kill me but she will have no problem destroying you!”
fended them off as best he could but they were invasive, and they were many.
“Wait!” he cried, drawing himself closer to her. “I need to know why I’ve been
brought here! To you! What message do you have for me?”
He felt a
tug, suddenly, as if from the back of his stomach, pulling him strangely
backward. He thought perhaps it was the shadow people but they were not behind
him when he looked.
“I have no
message!” she shouted. “I don’t know who you are!”
“Who are you,
then?” asked Haiendrion. “How did you come to be here?”
him out of the way as two more shadows lunged for him. She cracked them across
their faces with the heel of her boot and they dispersed. “It’s a long story,”
she confessed. “Too long for the time we have!”
had multiplied, and were now upon them in a frenzy. The woman forced Haiendrion
behind her and, in a blurred, furious whirlwind, she staved them off.
Bladeweaver!” she shouted. “If she lives! Thyn’tel Bladeweaver! Find her in the
Waking World, tell her I sent you!”
again. More substantial, this time. Haiendrion felt as if someone was trying to
pull him backward, not just physically, but backward out of that moment, out of
that space and time.
“But who are you?”
however, was too great, and he could no longer relent. He felt himself slipping
away, the shadows’ blows fell through him, and the woman was almost buried
she shouted. “Vertiga Valerunner!”
overran her, and Haiendrion was pulled away. He lost all sense of his self and
the world around him. Everything was indistinguishable, and he was a part of
He could only
discern two forces. One was something pursuing him. In this form, in this
interaction, he could only sense a presence, but they were there, and they were
the same as the creatures from the precipice. There was something else leading
them. Of the same, but incomparable. He knew it to be the dryad - Sindrathel.
He tried to
say her name aloud, but had no lips, tongue, or breath.
force was opposite them, leading him by some ethereal tether. It was familiar,
it was calming. And despite Sindrathel’s presence, he felt safe and almost
To behold the
second force was to behold a dryad’s silhouette, with swirling green orbs where
her eyes would be.
didn’t know how he said it, as he had no faculty to say anything here.
He fell back
on the ground, and sat up.
He was in a
heavily forested area, on the shore of a small pond. It seemed so real to him.
Were it not for the viridian sheen everything had, he would have sworn he had
silence, save for the chirps and twitters of animals in the forest around him.
He was bewildered.
“Where am I?”
he asked aloud.
place,” a voice wheezed beside him.
A few yards
from him on the grass lay a large reptilian creature. His wings were limp on the
ground behind him, his chest heaved with every struggled breath, and his head
barely moved when he spoke. He was a whelp - the youngest form in the life cycle
of a green dragon.
find us here,” he said, panting. “At least, not for a bit.” He raised his head
slightly. “I can’t protect you any longer. My energies are spent.”
crawled over to him. “Are you all right?”
“I will be,
after some recovery.”
“Do you need
anything?” Haiendrion moved toward the pond. ”I shall fetch you water.”
“It’s ok, I’m
fine.” He righted himself into a more healthy looking position, though he was
still very limp. “The only thing that can help me now is a good long nap.”
looked into the dragon’s eyes. “I know you.”
met me,” the dragon corrected. “In a manner of speaking, anyway...”
“You were the
one at Mathzoril. You were Thelnylla.”
sighed. “I’m sorry I decieved you.”
shook his head. “You saved me. Who are you?”
“My name is
Oneiriaz,” he replied. “And I’m afraid that I’m responsible for all of this.”
are behind the Nightmare?” Haiendrion found himself exasperated.
looked at him critically. “Don’t be silly,” he chided, then laid down again.
“But I am behind bringing you here. I connected you to Vertiga. I told Bandalar
said Emeriss showed me to him,” said Haiendrion.
Oneiriaz sighed. He struggled to speak for a moment. Haiendrion got the
impression that he was choking back tears. “Emeriss has gone mad. He... he moved
against the Nightmare, and it consumed him. I don’t know how it did it or what
it did to him, but he’s become something... so different from what he used to
be. Everytime I think it’s as bad as it could get he gets worse. Soon I don’t
think I’ll even be able to recognize him.” He coughed. “I knew Bandalar wouldn’t
just take me at my word so I... disguised myself as Emeriss. To save him. To
help save all of them.
Nightmare changed Emeriss and the others then what hope do I have against it?
This was the only thing I found that I knew how to fix. No one else would help
me.” He bowed his head, and closed his eyes.
said nothing, just stared at Oneiriaz.
father. Emeriss. I’m his youngest hatchling.”
shook his head. “I do not understand. What does all this have to do with me? Or
Vertiga and Sindrathel? Who are they?”
know,” said Oneiriaz, shaking his head sadly. “At least, I don’t know who they
used to be. I found Sindrathel’s dreamscape some time ago, and Vertiga
Valerunner was imprisoned within. She’s been there for some time. Longer than
I’ve been alive. But through her I could reach out, to the rest of you night
elves. I was able to find you. You… well, let’s just say you have very powerful,
very loud dreams. I was able to tie those into Sindrathel’s dreamscape, and lead
Bandalar to you. But this was all supposed to take much less time. Sindrathel’s
power and control over this valley in the Emerald Dream has become much more
substantial. She may have grown beyond our abilities to defeat.”
asked Haiendrion. “You led me here to fight her?”
more complicated than that,” Oneiriaz sighed. He was about to explain further,
but they noticed a sound coming from the pond. The water in the centre was
churning, as if boiling, and an expanding brown oil slick began to spread over
crouched low, his wings flared back, ready to pounce. “She’s here…”
scrambled to his feet. “What do we do?”
“You need to
leave here, quickly!” Oneiriaz snapped.
But it was
too late. The pond had turned to a watery bog, sickly brown and bubbling, more
tumultuous in the centre than anywhere else. It sputtered violently, and
Sindrathel burst from beneath, flanked by two shadow-creatures.
darkened when it met Haiendrion. She turned to her attendants. “Find him.”
leapt into the air and spiraled into the sky overhead.
her arms across her chest, and sighed at Oneiriaz. “You again, dragon youngling?
When will you learn that your efforts are in vain? I have already won.”
struck as menacing a pose as he could, but his limbs were shaking, and his jaw
quivered with a desperate final reserve of energy.
he whispered. “Please, leave! I can’t protect you.”
walked through the mud onto the shore, kicking off the grime with a jerk of each
hoof. Haiendrion backed away.
looked at him with cold apathy. “You are right to fear me, druid. I could have
offered you an eternity of bliss within the Dream. Together we could remake this
dreamscape into whatever form you wished of it. But you threw it away.” She
pointed at Oneiriaz. “You threw it away for this.”
“I threw it
away for myself,” said Haiendrion. “I don’t want it. It would never be real.”
live their whole lives within the Dream,” Sindrathel pointed out. “The world has
been shaped and sustained by its power. I assure you, the Emerald Dream is real,
in every sense of the word.”
sinister smile crept onto her face. “In fact, my agents are borne of the Dream,
and they have followed your consciousness back to the waking world. You shall
see, now, just how real dreams can be…”
eyes shone with fright. “Leave here, druid. This instant! She has sent her
agents to the waking world!”
looked at him quizzically for a mere moment, before an overwhelming spike of
pain pierced his mind. This was the Dream – he had no body here. He had no
sensation of physical agony; he could not discern where he hurt. He couldn’t
even say that it was he who was hurting. He was pain. It was all he knew.
Then it was
gone. He knew who and what he was again. He was still at the shore of the pond,
on his hands and knees. Sindrathel stood above him. Oneiriaz was assaulting her
face, his wings flapping vigorously, and with every movement, he grunted with
such exertion that Haiendrion’s heart broke every time he heard it. But the
dragon was weak, and it was a simple matter for the dryad to grab him with both
hands and throw him to the ground.
bounced when he struck the ground, and his tongue lolled out from his snout.
managed to wheeze. “Go now…”
closed, his image blurred, and he vanished.
did not know if that meant he had died.
cantered towards him. “You shall trouble me no more, fair druid…”
closed his eyes. All he had to do was pull himself out of the Dream, but he had
no idea how he was to do that. He had failed. He had failed Oneiriaz, he had
failed Bandalar, he had failed himself, his family, and the memory of Thelnylla.
He remained on all fours, waiting for a death he knew he deserved.
But it did
Sindrathel whispered. He opened his eyes and looked at her; saw horror and
revulsion in her visage, which gave way to indiscriminate anger. “No!”
down. His hands were not his hands any longer. They were branches, his fingers
were roots, and were growing into the soft earth. His skin and clothing was
turning to bark, and his hair was becoming a canopy of leaves.
regained herself, and began to charge at him. “I will not be cheated of my-”
He sat bolt
upright with a cry. Eilassyn caught him, and forced him back down onto his back.
“Be careful,” she warned. “You’re still very weak.”
He was. His
joints burned, and he had a throbbing headache. “What… what happened? How long…”
hours,” Eilassyn answered. “Much… shorter than we had anticipated.”
Haiendrion had trouble getting his thoughts together, and trouble still
expressing them in words once he had. “Sindrathel’s minions… we were attacked.”
“We… yes, we
were,” Eilassyn replied haltingly.
strained to pay attention. He blinked, looking around the room, though his
vision was still foggy. Norrund was sitting in the corner, his head in his
moved to sit up, and Eilassyn tried to stop him again. He pushed her aside, as a
figure below the baseboard of his bed came into view.
dead on the floor.