Wounds that can’t be healed: Enyss and life after Teldrassil
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All around her, the Circle worked. And she worked too.
She worked all night and even into the day, until her vision blurred — she kept feeling herself snap back into awareness after a moment of grey, well past the border of simple exhaustion. Her eyes watered and she was forced to blink them clear again. It was welcome to be bone weary, because she could simply let her thoughts fall away and act.
She was standing in a pumpkin patch healing an Ancient, the colossal walking tree with singed bark that had been transported by them across the ocean, to now walk in soil it had last seen before the Sundering. The great being groaned as the bark closed up again over the wounds left by fire. Her own hands had similar wounds, but as the blisters didn’t stop her from healing others she hadn’t bothered to mend them. What was it her mother had always said? The huntress’s family always lacks for meat.
It felt like another moment of grey and then she realized she was done. The Ancient had been healed as much as it could and was now moving to patrol the city, as it had back in Darnassus. The Ancients hadn’t shared how they felt about the change, about the stone spires and wooden shops of Stormwind, and Enyss found herself too amazed by the moment to think to ask.
“Sister.” A young voice. Enyss shook her head to clear it and saw another of the Circle, a young woman. She didn’t recognize her. “Perhaps you should rest.”
“No, I… there are more wounded, and…”
“What’s my name?”
“I’ve told you my name twice now and I bet you’re still too tired to remember it.” Enyss fought back a snarl — of course she didn’t remember, there was so much to do, so much to occupy her thoughts! So many wounded, so many dead. But the woman in front of her pushed her midnight blue hair back out of her face, her hand shaking. “I’m barely functional and I’ve had two rests since we arrived. You haven’t even had one. Go take one, or I’ll have Broll come order you to do it. And he’s very busy down in Silithus.”
“You’re no good to us like this. Please. Go. Take a few hours, eat something. The sun will be up soon, maybe sleep.” Enyss watched her leave fighting back tears. Didn’t she understand that sleep was when it happened again? Why would she want to see it again? Every time she closed her eyes she’d end up back there, listening to the sound of groaning boughs as the surrendered to the flames, the crackling of a tree that massive as the fire ate it. Branches bigger than that Ancient snapping off and plummeting down into the ocean, bearing living Elves down to their deaths.
The world went grey again and she fought it off.
She had no taste for the city itself, but there were woods all around it, with trees and rivers. She took on the form of a nightsaber and walked out from the pumpkin patch, looking at the woods. They weren’t new to her — she’d been traveling to and from Stormwind for years now, she’d seen Elwynn many times — but they weren’t the forests she’d grown in, not the places she knew best. But there were birds in the trees and insects making the night air hum and pop with their songs, and a few frogs croaking out to their kin, and if it wasn’t a balm for everything that was now gone it was at least something.
I have no right to stop.
She knew this was grief talking. The worst part was knowing she wasn’t well — feeling it in every breath she took, every word she spoke, knowing that young Druid had been right. She needed the rest she loathed, needed to not keep calling on the Dream while being afraid to dream. She needed to face it, and she couldn’t face it, couldn’t bear to realize what had happened.
It wasn’t that Teldrassil had been that important to her — she’d lived and worked long before the tree had been planted, after all. Darnassus had been a city, and she’d never been that much for cities, spending more of her time out in the world. For a long time it was the thrill of power that had called her — finding the balance point between the moon and the Dream, using it to channel the wrath of nature itself. If you’d asked a younger Enyss about healing, she’d have arched an eyebrow with the kind of artful incredulity that took real skill and derision to master.
Her? Enyss, who could drop seething arcane fury from the very sky, who could balance her own nature on the knife’s edge between arcane and the Dream, a healer? Calling upon nature to mend wounds? She’d blasted and crushed her enemies in grasping vines and felt laughter bubbling away from her overfull heart back in those wild, joyous days.
Now she sat crouched in the shadows of an unfamiliar forest and her memories were of flames she’d failed to stop, and too many dead that should have been alive. What good had Enyss done them? What need did they have for a healer now? They’d needed someone to kill for them, and what had she…
The ground shook and she looked up in shock, realizing she’d been so lost in her own thoughts that she hadn’t noticed the Ancient walking out into the forest. It stopped, laid its enormous wooden hand on a nearby tree — a tall Aspen, if she was any judge, and she was — and made a sound like a greeting, and then turned and looked right at her.
“Little one.” The sound of its speech was like the wind rushing through branches and the creaking of wood as its jaw moved. “I thank you for my bark.”
She took her Night Elf form, stepped out into full view of the Ancient.
“There’s nothing to thank me for. I was…”
“I failed.” A tree couldn’t sit, exactly, but the Ancient seemed disinclined to move. “I did not stop them.”
It was so close to her own thoughts that she couldn’t think of anything to say. She wanted to reassure it — how could one Ancient hope to stop so many soldiers, so many machines? She’d looked out across the wood and seen nothing but the light of their torches and campfires and felt that stirring of fear, knowing just how many had come and how unprepared they’d been for it.
“You weren’t there alone. I was there, and I didn’t stop them either.” She stepped closer, laid her blistered hand on the bark she’d helped close up. There was pain in it, pain from the seared skin and pain that had nothing to do with her hand. The Ancient didn’t move, instead spreading out its limbs as the sun climbed into the air.
“I can make shade for you. If you are tired.” It smiled, and even though she’d seen Ancients smile before it never failed to amaze her, a giant wood face moving that way. “I am going to greet the sun with my new young friends. I knew their ancestors.”
Enyss nodded, because she was tired, and it was almost dawn. She returned to the Nightsaber form and clambered up the Ancient, letting herself drift in the boughs that crowned his head. Sleep wouldn’t heal her. She didn’t know if anything could. But it was better not to be alone.
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