Aramune sat on a rock by the side of Lake Al’Ameth, dangling her naked feet above the water. The moon was high and the lake was serene, lapping ever so quietly at the sand of the riverbank. A breeze picked up, drifting through the nightelf’s short, wet hair. She shivered, dipping her big toe into the lake. She had just bathed and was now clad in all but her boots.
The tall, willowy female had pale pink skin uncommon in the lands of the nightelf. Her hair was short and the color of newly fallen snow, framing her face in front and falling to the nape of her neck in the back. Her face was stolid will full lips. Her eyes were alit with the knowledge of nature that only her race possessed. Locked firmly in her grasp was a long, blue-handled walking stick—her constant companion. She wore simple leather armor, made just for her by her younger brother, Puggel.
The adolescent’s ear flinched and her body tensed. She had heard movement behind her. ‘I hope it isn’t a Timberling—I’m not in the mood for death,’ she thought solemnly. Before she looked back, a voice spoke calmly in a low, feminine voice.
“Stay calm, Aramune,” the voice commanded softly as the owner stepped from behind the riverbank-growing bushes. The figure was also a tall female nightelf, though a half hand shorter than Aramune. The new arrival had long, silverleaf-colored hair that cascaded down her back. It was shorter in front, also framing her face. Her skin was dark and tight, giving away her youth. A bow rested over her torso and a dagger hung in a sheath at her hip. She also wore the armor needed for battle.
“I should have known it would be my dear friend Azsharinne who would find me,” Aramune retorted with a sharp feminine voice and attitude in her eyes. Her grasp on the staff lightened.
“I mean no disrespect to the others of our race, but you are not difficult to seek,” the newcomer responded and hopped from boulder to boulder, reaching a spot near the water. She also removed her boots, but less gracefully plopped her legs into the chilly lake water. “This lake is refreshing—it is not surprising that you love it so.”
Aramune remained silent and for a moment Azsharinne did nothing but fidget. At last she spoke again, “I can see the wheels working in your mind, dear friend. What is it that you think of so diligently, Ara?”
The previously silent elf looked up from the rippling of the lake and searched her friend’s glowing eyes. She seemed to play with the words on her tongue before speaking. When she did, it was deliberately slow—making each word sound important. “I have been very…lonely…as of late, Azsh.”
Azsharinne looked slightly taken aback before erasing her facial reaction. Hurt lingered in her voice, “Is the companionship of Akallm and myself not enough for you?”
At the mention of the name ‘Akallm’, a brown speck shot through the air on the other side of the lake. As the speck came closer, it took on the features of an owl. In one swift dive it flew to Aramune and landed deftly on her forearm. It was a small great horned owl, light brown in coloration and young in age. It was a pure coincidence that he had come when his name was mentioned.
It had taken days for Aramune to save up for her winged pet, and her brother Puggel had donated the last silver directly before the owl’s purchase. This had been during her last ‘lonely’ phase. Aramune had been friends with Azsharinne since birth, given Aramune’s clan was a clan of hunters, as was Azsharinne’s. In Aramune’s clan, only her grandmother and herself had become druids in all of the clan’s history. The clans of the two friends were very close and tied together through two marriage rituals.
“Oh, Azsh. You are my dearest friend—I would never make it without you. And Aka—,” here she stopped to stroke the owl’s crown feathers lovingly, “—is everything I could ever ask for in a traveling companion.” She paused before adding, “I’m just pining for a soul mate yet again. Now that I am one with the Claw, I have the instincts of a predator to have a mate.”
Azsharinne listened intently, though she had heard variations of this on numerous occasions. She was concerned when she answered, “I know and accept where your attraction lies, Ara—but I grew up with you. Our race—and your alliance—do not. Can’t you just pretend?”
“Do you honestly think I’m the only one?” Aramune snapped, looking up from Akallm. Her eyes were tense: she was glaring. “As I’ve stated before: I’m not even the only type. There are males who love males, males and females that love both, females who love females pretending to be male, and more. Many of those souls don’t ‘pretend’,”—she scowled—, “and neither will I. If I want happiness—true, not pretend—I will find it in the arms of another female.”
They were both silent. Akallm changed footing, leaving a footprint of blood on Aramune’s arm. She cooed, stroking the bird’s chest feathers. “Oh, you ate! I was beginning to worry, thinking you hadn’t been eating enough.” She didn’t look up at Azsharinne.
Azsharinne knew she was dismissed—they’d had many tiffs like this before. This time she had to leave, as she was the intruder. She pondered something for a half minute, and then scurried over to Aramune, wrapping her arms around the taller elf. The longhaired female pressed her cheek gently to Aramune’s head, then released her. As she went to retrieve her boots she spoke.
“We are adults of our society now, dear friend. I have been abed with many males, but I have never completed the fertility ritual to Alune in order to bear a child. Even with that ritual, you will never bear a child with the love you seek. What will you do, then?” She finished and was gone, leaving Aramune to think about what she had spoken of.
A shining, transparent tear slide down Aramune’s cheek and landed on an awaiting finger. She brought the finger to her lips, licking the salty substance after a moment’s hesitation. She looked to her owl, many emotions surging over her face. ‘I will not shed my life water,’ she reminded herself, though even the voice in her head sounded shaky. When she spoke, it was to her knee. “Do you think I haven’t thought about that?”
Akallm darted off at that, probably having seen an owl kin. The fair-haired adolescent sighed, bowing her head briefly. She removed her clothing, folding it neatly and stacking it on the rock next to her boots. Aramune dove gracefully into the chilly lake, leaving behind barely a splash and a few ripples. She scrubbed ferociously at her torso and arms, but knew this feeling of uncleanness was more than skin deep.
Hours later, Aramune rested in bear form in front of the lake. Her head lay on her forepaws, the rest of her body disorganized as she gazed into the metallic water. She most likely looked dead. Her clothes were still neatly arranged on the rock—no one minded a naked bear. In fact, it would be much more unlikely to spot a bear in any apparel.
The sun was beginning to rise and the eastern skies were to taking on a reddish pink color. Soon it would be twilight, Aramune’s favorite time. Everything would pick up a red, crisp look, looking ablaze with fire.
Aramune dozed off, tired after the laps she had swum following her bath. She felt a sudden, earth-splitting pain in her shoulder and awoke with a start, roaring in agony. Next to her, a female figure seemed to jump ten yards.
“I’m so sorry—I thought you were dead, and I’m a skinner…” she stammered, sheathing her skinning knife and attempting to touch the gash. Aramune growled and sidestepped away. The other female continued, “I thought it was strange to see a bear in these parts. Won’t you let me assist you? I can at least take you to Dolaanar and buy you something for healing.”
Aramune looked to the female and bared her teeth. The female was short and stocky, rare features in nightelves. She was at least a hand and a half shorter than Aramune. No markings were tattooed on this new arrival’s face. Her lips were red and full, her face offered concern and kindness. Long, blue hair was braided over her right shoulder. The braid looked frazzled and unorganized, as though she had been battling for hours. Her skin was dark purple covered in stylish cloth apparel.
The bear’s facial expression changed to one of suppressed pain before she changed back into her nightelf form. She was stark naked. Quickly, she remarked, “I’ll need to get these clothes on. It’ll be easier to walk with two legs and an injured arm in this form.”
“I understand, and please let me help you!” The shorter female replied in a frenzied fashion and sauntered over to Aramune, grabbing the pile of clothing. “I’m Adahline, a very sorry rouge.”
Aramune allowed the other female to dress her. She replied when she was properly clad. “I’m Aramune, a druid in pain.” She whistled and Akallm appeared from behind a large tree, perching on her good shoulder. As she walked, she grasped and applied pressure to her wounded upper arm.
An hour later, the two nightelves emerged from the inn, both smiling. There was a linen bandage wrapped tightly around Aramune’s shoulder. Akallm was content to gnaw on a meaty treat while perched firmly on Aramune’s other shoulder.
“So, Aramune, have you been searching for your soul mate? Alune strike me if I lie, I haven’t been looking hard,” Adahline questioned, throwing an arm up at the mention of the Goddesses name. The other hand was upon Aramune’s forearm in a reassuring manner.
“No, I haven’t. Not in the normal sense, anyway. Why haven’t you been seeking for a love?” Aramune replied, her head tilting downwards at her companion in a curious manner.
“I’ve been busy collecting copper and silver. I refuse to have to depend on a male. I want to be self sufficient,” the blue-haired female responded, sighing. “It’s hard work. I’ve taken on herbalism, skinning, cooking and fishing. I’ll be taking up more, soon enough. I feel as thought I’m working my life force away.”
“I’m not currently interested in males, either. Too many reasons,” the tall nightelf said, catching her new friend’s eye. Aramune nodded in an odd way, tilting her head back and to the side, showing off her jaw line. She then jerked it foreword ever so slightly and continued walking.
She had danced this dance many times before—the subtle signs and flirting between two interested females. She imagined male-male lovers had a similar, secret language. Aramune had lain with many females, though none had turned out to be her soul mate. She was going to take this one slowly.
“I understand that completely. I just have too much work,” Adahline continued with a small pout. She brushed the edge of her hand gently against Aramune’s, telling another story. Both of the females hid a grin as they continued on their way to Darnassus.
Aramune slept in a tent near Oracle Glade that day. Before had set up camp, the short-haired female searched for herbs. She made a few potions but kept most of the mageroyals, some peaceblooms and silverleaf for herself.
The sun was nearly in the center of the sky when she finished pitching her tent: she was up late. Even knowing this, Aramune took a writing kit from her back pouch. Removing a small parchment and a feather, she dipped the hardened feather end into a clay container that held a blue substance. It was squashed nightsky berries, as Aramune hadn’t wanted to pay for true ink. Her script was slanted and loopy, retaining a medium size.
It is far into the day and of you I think. I wish to see you tomorrow, when the moon is high and the stars blink above the ripples of Lake Al’Ameth. Where we first caught each other’s scent and sound, there will no longer be pain. I set our tryst there, before nightsabers settle down to sleep the day away. Will you grace me with your presence?
The elf that mingles under Moonlight,
Pleased, the willowy figure folded the note with care and slid it into her herb pouch. She would put it in the mail when she met with her brother and good friend in Darnassus the next night. With that thought, she rested her cheek against her back pouch and brought her cloak over her body. Sleep took her.
She awoke with a start, feeling the chilled night breeze brush against the side of her face. Aramune stirred and sat up cross-legged in her tent. She organized her things and took down the tent, packing everything back into her traveling belongings. Before leaving, the druid knelt and placed her palms to the ground, thanking the earth for letting her stay the day there.
Aramune stood and jogged to the main path, following it to where it dropped into the road to Darnassus. It was only a few minutes jog away.
The first location Aramune visited when she reached the main city of Teldrassil was the fishing dock. A few years past she had had a crush on the fishing trainer—they had had a short fling. This visit, though, was purely for fishing. She had a short chat with the trainer but that was all.
She was early, hence her fishing time, but it soon neared the time of her meeting with her brother and friend. Aramune wrapped up her activities and walked to the large, pink-glowing building that she would temporarily be losing her brother to. She wasn’t absolutely sure that his leaving was the main topic, but she at least expected it to come up. They had been waiting for this for a long time.
Azsharinne appeared first and the two old friends talked. Puggel was late. Aramune wasn’t surprised—her brother often lost track of what he was supposed to be doing and where. He loved the glory of battle and often got so lost in seeking it that he forgot he ought to be doing something else.
The tall nightelf’s brother eventually arrived, his pouches plump with items. He struck up conversation but soon took on a disinterested tone. Aramune caught this and asked, “Brother, what have you asked us here to discuss?”
Puggel was a hand taller than Aramune and sported long green hair. He was dressed completely in leather armor he made himself. As he spoke, he took armor out of his pouch and handed it to Azsharrine.
“I have done all I can do in Teldrasil for the moment and must seek my fortune and glory elsewhere. I just wished to say a goodbye to my sister and friend,” he said. After handing the armor to the shorter female, he pulled out a few handfuls of peacebloom and handed them to Aramune. “I know how much you love to sell them.”
He hugged both females separately and exchanged goodbyes before stepping into the portal and disappearing. The two females walked to the entrance of Darnassus and climbed the wall, only speaking when they sat. The view from so far up was spectacular, making the city look like a pool of light.
Azsharrine called down the steps for her pet and within seconds a large nightsaber stalker came romping up the stairs. She nuzzled into her master’s leg, purring when she exhaled. Both nightelves smiled and leaned against the wall.
“Amaln, I’ve missed you,” Azsharinne cooed to her feline companion, stroking her behind the ears. Akallm flew in at that moment, landing gracefully on Aramune’s outstretched forearm. The female stroked his crown, settling back into a more comfortable position.
“I met a woman last night. We met in an unorthodox way but she has a compassionate heart,” Aamune introduced, still locking eyes with her winged companion. There was silence for a moment, and the air felt ten times too thick.
“I can tell by how you speak of her that you adore her. Even if she feels the same, how will this one be any different? Will you not still hide it?” the green haired female responded softly and slowly, pronouncing each word carefully.
“No. This time I refuse to hide it. If I am rejected by our race, they will be alienating a superb druid. I have a vast amount of potential and a heart of courage and love for all of nature. My love should count just as much as any male’s lust,” the willowy nightelf replied with a thoughtful frown. Azsharinne looked surprised and gazed at Aramune’s profile for a moment.
“You speak a gallant battle: I wish you luck and the love of a friend in coming out victorious and with your pride intact,” Azsharinne said, placing a hand on Aramune’s shoulder and squeezing gently before retracting it. Akallm attempted to peck the hand but Aramune scolded him. He took, instead, to diving at Amaln’s posterior. The feline growled and attempted to pounce the bird, but he was too quick.
The two nightelves laughed, realizing that the serious moment was through. The moon began to rise as the game of tag continued between the two pets. Aramune would soon have to depart. Remembering this, she reached into her small green pouch and removed a mageroyal. She handed it to Azsharinne.
“I’m sorry that it smells of owl—Akallm has taken a liking to napping in my herb pouch when I travel. If you look at the coloration, you’ll see that it is unique,” Aramune elucidated as she gave her friend the herb. They both chuckled about Akallm’s favorite napping place.
“Thank you, dear friend. I hope your meeting tonight goes well,” the verdant-haired female wished with an uncharacteristic grin. Aramune looked taken aback before she responded.
“How did you know about that?”
“I know you too well, Moony,” Azsharinne teased, taking up Aramune’s childhood nickname.
Aramune wiggled her ears and stuck out her tongue before hugging her friend closely. When Aramune released Azsharinne, the shorter female spoke.
“Oh, before you depart. I have something for you,” she pulled two white linen robes out of her backpack and handed them to Aramune.
“But, how did you…?” Aramune stuttered as she accepted the robes and put them in a pouch. Azsharinne smiled as she answered.
“Do you really wish me to repeat my last answer, name and all?”
Aramune grinned ear to ear and embraced her friend again for a second before truly departing. As the fair-haired elf made her way down the stairs, she looked back to see that Azsharinne had closed her eyes and was savoring the night air, stroking Amaln as she did. Aramune smiled tenderly and whispered a ‘thank you’ into the breeze as Akallm settled into her herb pouch.
Aramune sat at the edge of Lake Al’Ameth, the robe she had donned rolled up to her knees and her feet bare. Her legs dangled over the rock, feet ankle-deep in the water. Her new robe was white and blue. The white went well with her hair. A howling sound broke her concentration. She looked up to see her heart’s face grinning on a higher boulder.
Adahline hopped down to the lower rock and stripped off all her clothing and boots before diving into the lake. When she re-surfaced she called for Aramune to join her, splashing gently. Aramune was slower and neatly organized her clothing before diving into the chilled water.
The two females enjoyed a long swim, switching between maturity and childishness the whole time. With a matching pair of goofy grins, they finally got out of the lake. Aramune signaled for Adahline to wait, so she stood there shivering until the tall female returned. When she did, she was clad in her robe again and carrying a duplicate.
“A friend of mine made this for you,” the clothed nightelf clarified, assisting her companion into the robe. The blue matched Adahline’s hair. Seeing that the smaller female was still shivering, Aramune stood close behind her and wrapped her in a tight embrace. Adahline leaned her head back and sighed like a content feline.
“Please give her my thanks,” Adahline said and smiled, closing her eyes. “Oh, isn’t it a wonderful evening? We should make a fire to keep us warm.”
Aramune smiled and nodded, kissing the merge of Adahline’s shoulder and neck before breaking the embrace. As she picked up her staff, she replied, “That is an excellent idea. It shall be easier to start with two nightelves, as well.”
At that, the two females departed from the lake to find high, unpopulated land. Finding a spot with no nightsabers nor webwood spiders, they set up camp and began to search for firewood. In no time, Adahline had started a healthy, warm fire.
The slender female unrolled both bedrolls side by side while Adahline cooked a bit of food. After eating, Aramune rummaged through her backpack. At last she pulled out a necklace—braided peacebloom stems with silverleaf and mageroyal for decoration. She was quite proud of this piece and had used quite a few of Puggel’s peaceblooms for it.
Adahline had already relieved herself of her clothing and sat down on the bedroll closest to the fire. Aramune walked to her and gently lowered the necklace around her neck, smiling as she did so. When the shorter female looked up, the graceful druid took her arms out of her robe, letting it slide down her body. She stepped out of it when it hit the ground and lowered herself into Adahline’s hold.
The fire licked at Aramune’s smooth skin, giving the illusion that liquid flames pumped through her veins. Where the fire did not play across her skin there was darkness. She smiled and brushed her lips against Adahline’s arm. “Lin, you are so very warm.”
Adahline grinned into the back of Aramune’s neck and trailed a finger along the contour of Aramune’s side and hip. The blue-haired female turned her head so her lips were by the other female’s ear before she whispered, “And your skin is so soft and beautiful: I am glad I didn’t manage to skin it.”