Angoleth was lost.
Not physically lost, really – she knew she was sitting in the Moonglade. But lost in a greater sense – aging, in nearly constant pain, the last two years in Outland had not been kind to her. Her face was hard edged now, with small worry lines around her eyes, and streaks of silver ran through her hair like the ribbons younger Elves were prone to wearing.\
So she headed back to the lands of her people, attempting to find some guidance from the trees. Wandering around Moonglade had made her feel somewhat better – it was refreshing to be in a place so connected to Elune. She couldn’t see the Great Bear Spirit, but she was pretty sure she could feel him hanging around. Unfortunately, however, the weather wasn’t exactly cooperating with her desire to sit and think, and the skies opened up in a torrential downpour of rain and autumn leaves. Not wanting to spend hours scrubbing waterspots and rust, she made a mad dash for the Hippogryphs and secured passage down to Astranaar.
But Astranaar meant people – a fair number of them about for such a late hour. Perhaps because it was nearly daylight under the full twin moons. Lost in thought, and trying to escape the crowd, she headed out on foot down to the Shrine of Aessina, hoping to find at least some solitude, if not solace, in the temple of the wilderness spirits.
About halfway to the Shrine she realized she was being followed.
It was subtle at first – just an unusual rustling behind her – and then more obvious. She didn’t see anything but a couple of deer and one rather large bear, though. Maybe her mind was playing tricks?
By the time she arrived at the outskirts of the shrine, she was absolutely SURE something was behind her. She swallowed her feelings of foolishness to look behind her – and still saw nothing but wildlife. Was she losing her touch? Where was her ability to track anything?
With a crash, the bear she’d seen earlier tumbled out of a nearby thicket. He stood up on his hind legs, a massive, dark Ashenvale bear, easily dwarfing the elf and at least 10 feet tall. She’d never seen one so massive. Angoleth stood her ground tentatively, watching him sniff at the air, one hand creeping slowly towards the dagger hanging at her belt.
Suddenly, and without warning, he dropped to all fours and charged her.
Instinctively, An dropped into a low crouch, hand on her dagger – utterly confused. She’d done nothing to anger him, and hadn’t heard that Ashenvale had trouble with an elf-eating bear, let alone one that was this fast. Almost in slow motion, she watched the bear come for her, rear up on his hind legs, and… wrap them around her neck? She sat down hard under the weight of the huge animal, her heartbeat fast in her throat.
He started licking her face.
Utterly confused, Angoleth summoned up what strength she could to push the huge, slobbery face away from her own… and then she recognized it. Half a missing left ear, two scars on his face…
Russ roared at her, obviously thrilled and scampering around like a puppy, destroying a couple of bushes in the process.
Russ! You great furry oaf, what are you doing sneaking up on me?
Angoleth scratched the giant bear behind the ears. She hadn’t known he was still around – the last time she’d seen him, he was a 2 year old upstart with no territory. Though he’d traveled with her for awhile, he eventually headed back to Ashenvale instead of going with her all over the world. Looking him over, he’d turned out to be quite the bear too – enormous and powerful, thick soft coat.
You’ve done pretty good for yourself, huh Russ?
He nuzzled his nose up under her hand in response, prompting more ear scratching. She dug a few pieces of cheese out of her pack and offered them to him – which he ate with gusto, and then promptly went back into her bags for more. Running her hand along his back, his shoulder blades caught her fingers and she realized he was pretty skinny under all that fur.
Things not going so well on the hunt lately?
He shook his head.
Obligingly, she dug him out a couple of dried Spotted Feltail and the rest of the Garadar Sharp. His enthusiasm was infectious, and she found herself smiling at him and relaxing as the adrenaline of being jumped by a thousand pounds of exuberant fur slowly wore off.
She passed the rest of the evening there, the large bear making sure nothing bothered her. As the little moon started to set in the wee hours of the morning, she slowly got up and stretched, working some of the stiffness out of her shoulder, and set off back towards Astranaar, her steps noticeably lighter than they’d been in months.
Russ followed her.
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