There was no mistaking the distant alarm of a long and deep horn blast. It raked Lesara from sleep early. Adriala already stirred noisily from her cot in the far corner.
Regardless, the glaive posted outside her door called out, “An alarm is raised!”
Lesara sat up, spending only a few moments watching Adriala pull her dusky armor plating on over the cloth and leather she slept in. Occasionally an alarm sounded when the bear-like furbolgs grew restless and territorial, or other larger problems with nature, including dangerous weather. This alarm was different, the horn was deeper, with long, single blasts. This alarm was new to Lesara.
She wondered if it had anything to do with the green-skins and pale day-walkers crossing The Barrens to the southeast. Both described as short and stubby-eared, semi-intelligent species called orcs and humans from a land east of the sea, beyond the maelstrom. She heard a particularly nasty group of green-skins made it as far as Ashenvale before their defeat. It was a battleground far enough away that she missed all sounds of skirmish.
A closer blast on the horn spurred Lesara from bed and into her ceremonial silver and black robes. She expected little in the way of ceremony, but the robes were more proper for unexpected company and crafted with divine spellwork for better protection and stronger casting. She raked her fingers through her hair as an afterthought while she followed Adriala from the room. Ranera, her day-shift glaive, took up behind them both, shielding Lesara’s back.
Halfway down, they encountered Ysareline emerging from her room in full battle regalia, a hooded cloak rested over flared shoulder guards and thick robes, all in black with intricate silver accents. She paused and rested the butt of her blackened-wood staff, decorated with filigreed silver vines on the ground. Its end curved like a large crescent moon with a silver and black owl feather dangling from the tip. Her own guards took point ahead of her, down the hall, waiting.
Lesara gave her mother a respectful nod as Adriala and Ranera snapped to attention, hands fisted above and behind their hearts in formal salute. Her mother extended a disapproving look at her daughter, before she turned away, both of her guards taking point as the loudest horn blast sounded below. Lesara trailed behind with her guards, feeling foolishly under-dressed and ill-prepared.
Their pace slowed enough that Lesara gripped her own hands together in shaking anxiety, biting her tongue firmly on questions regarding the new horn blast. Finally they reached the open gathering room where their personal glaives spread out around them both. An outrider waited on the ground at the foot of the ramp up, still atop her black and grey striped riding saber. Her shoulder-length, dark green hair was partially pulled back in a little pony tail, windblown, with curls of hair matting to her sweat-streaked face. The saber looked little better and both were hyper alert.
Another long horn blast sounded farther down the road, calling Lesara’s attention to a group of five more outriders continuing west toward Darkshore at full speed.
“House Ethala’Aman.” The outrider snapped a formal salute, but unlike the house guards, she served all kaldorei and continued without waiting for permission. “I stop only long enough to detail the warning.”
“The Burning Legion…” Ysareline’s voice was barely above a whisper and held a thick and unfamiliar quality…fear?
The outrider nodded. “They return in force with rotting allies, marching this way.” Her eyes were wide and her voice quivered.
Lesara caught her eyes and held fast, captivated. She felt sucked in; her vision swallowed in the white glow of the outrider’s eyes. Blinded only a moment, trees began appearing. The various shapes of demons she’d only heard about before now marched through the trees, mixed with walking corpses too short for kaldorei, and a few large, spider-like creatures with vaguely humanoid torsos and heads dotted with multiple eyes.
The main column of horror marched on while the edges locked in occasional combat with local wildlife, kaldorei, and furbolg alike. Tiny grell-like creatures with horns tossed fire all around. Lesara looked up and saw flame. She nearly fell backward when the white glow swallowed her vision again and released her. “The burning canopy,” she whispered, catching her mother’s sharp look over her shoulder. Where were the wisps?
Lesara looked back at the outrider and saw reflected disorientation. The outrider mumbled and rubbed her forhead. “Mobilize your house due east, and raise your defenses. Tyrande orders all druids wakened. We’re going to need everything we have against this. Those unable to fight should retreat southwest. It appears the enemy pushes for Mount Hyjal.” She saluted once more, and without waiting for dismissal, she turned her saber around and rushed west at top speed.
The gathering room seemed composed of statues for several minutes before Ysareline broke the silence and began issuing orders. Much of the order stood behind, but now rose to action, retreating to rooms and halls for more supplies while more glaives than Lesara knew lived here organized in force around the ramp up, steadily replaced in shifts by more glaives returning from around the house on the backs of their own sabers. She even spied a few shadowsworn moving from the shadows, some disappearing in the surrounding wood. Only Adriala, and her mother’s primary glaive, Shestelle, remained in position nearby.
Finally, Ysareline paused in her orders and faced Lesara. The emotion in her mother’s eyes startled her, less glow with more silver in her irises, a slight quiver. “I lost my parents and sister the first time the legion came.”
Lesara remained still, her thoughts shocked silent by the rare, emotional display.
Ysareline coughed lightly. “Go to the barrows below, wake the druids and send them up. Then remain in the sanctum with Adriala. We are already far enough southwest…the legion should pass much farther north. You will be safe.” She nodded firmly. “Go.” One last order before she turned away, shouting directions to the reappearing priestesses in full battle-robes, decked with gleaming daggers and staves. “The legion took much from us, we will have justice!”
“Ashala’eluna!” The shouts followed Lesara down the twisting paths beneathe their tree.