Seven months before the Burning Legion entered the world and destroyed the forests, Dahilis Moonbrow lived in Ashenvale in peace with her mother, Dahut. Her mother was a skilled dressmaker and Dahilis began to learn these ways for herself.
While walking amongst the trees one night, Dahilis heard the distant sound of hoofbeats - horses...seven...maybe eight of them? Running to the edge of the trail, she waited behind a slender tree, using her natural elven skill to blend herself in with the forest.
Before a minute had passed, a group of armoured riders pounded up the trail, their horses kicking up mud and stone behind them. The rider at the head of the pack carried a large banner with some sort of symbol on it that Dahils didn't recognise. Staying very still, Dahilis watched the riders as they ploughed past her at top speed.
However, as the rider at the rear passed her, his head turned sharply in her direction. For a moment she was shocked, but realised that the rider could never have seen her through her elven magic. Just as the group were about to vanish from sight in the distance, there was a commotion from the horses and they pulled to a halt. For a short time it looked as though a debate was taking place amongst them, then they spurred their horses and continued on their way.
All except for one.
Bringing the mount round, the rider trotted slowly back down the trail. Dahilis' heart started to pound - had the rider really seen her? Why was he coming back? She stood there, holding herself against the trunk of the tree, unable to move for fear of being spotted. Gradually the rider was reaching her position and she could see more clearly the well polished armour glinting in the moonlight.
The rider stopped and paused. His head turned this way and that inside the gleaming helmet that showed no emotion. Carefully, he climbed from his steed and stood there, as though listening to the sound of the wind in the trees. Dahilis was rooted to the spot. The rider was so close now, if she moved at all she would be seen. She realised that she had been holding her breath and slowly tried to let it out.
At that moment, the rider turned and faced directly at her, quickly raising a short sword in the air as if to throw it. The wind picked up and the bushes and trees around her shook and crackled. Her eyes widened in fear and without warning the rider brought down his arm in a lightning arc and threw the sword - directly at her
Dahilis was barely conscious of what happened next. It seemed that time slowed down as the sword flew through the air towards her face. She didn't move, couldn't move! But the sword did not hit - it shot past her left cheek and came to a thudding halt behind. She turned her face to see the weapon, blood gushing down its handle as it slowly drew the life from the huge brown bear that had charged from the bushes to attack her. The bear slumped to the ground, as she turned back to the rider, the elven magic draining from her as she became clearly visible once again.
They stood there for almost a minute, staring at one another. The rider cocked his head to one side for a moment, then reached up and removed his helmet. He was not old, but had the look of maturity about him, his fiery red hair hanging to his shoulders, his beard short and neatly trimmed..
He rushed forward as Dahilis fainted.
* * *
She awoke in her house in Ashenvale to see her mother's face looking over her.
"My dear Dahilis," she said, "Whatever shall I do with you?"
Dahilis smiled weakly, "Mother, I'm fine, just a little shocked. Uh..how did I.."
"The man carried you back dear," she smiled, "He's was with a detatchment from far, far away, bringing tidings from foreign lands. You have nothing to fear from him or his people."
Dahilis slowly pushed herself upright, brushing away her mother's fussing hands. She wandered slowly through the house and opened the front door. She started for a moment - there in front of her was the rider. He looked surprised, then his face broke into a friendly smile.
"How are you my lady elf?" he said, looking briefly at the ground, "I hope you are not too shaken after your journey home?"
Dahilis stood and stared at him, his eyes were a deep, dark brown and were almost hypnotic. "I..I'm very well, thank you sir."
She gave a faint bow towards him and slowly smiled back. The man hesitated for a moment, then said, "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Gaius Gratillonius, Captain of the Guard."
"Gralli..Grallon.." she stammered, "I am sorry, I have always had some trouble with the, um, common tongue"
The man laughed, "Oh, don't worry lady, my name is a mouthful to even those that know me well."
Dahilis raised her hand to her mouth and chuckled softly. Gratillonius grinned, "Would you walk with me?" he ventured.
A little taken aback, she paused for a while, then nodded.
* * *
The next few days sped by. Dahilis and Gratillonius spent much of the time together. Dahilis would show him the paths through the woods and he in turn would teach her the basics of the hunt - how to use bow and arrow and how to track your prey. While at first Dahilis' mother was kind towards the man, slowly she began to show a distaste for his presence and the amount of time he was spending with his daughter, which of course, made her stay with him all the more. Eventually he had to leave, but he promised to return.
* * *
The forests were burning!
It was like a panic. Families were fleeing in all directions to escape the oncoming wrath of the Burning Legion. Only a few had faith that they could be defeated, but even these were preparing to leave their homes. The distant glow of fire could be seen in the sky above the treetops, and it was at this time that Gratillonius returned.
He came with a small detachment of twenty riders, his once-gleaming armour now dirty and caked with blood. It was a glad meeting, despite the threat of approaching doom. His squad had been sent back from the front line to gather any men from the villages to help in the fight - for the moment, the Burning Legion was being held at bay but they were tenacious and if they broke through, they would reach this village in a matter of days.
Ordering his men to help prepare those that were fleeing to the north, Gratillonius caught what few moments he had with Dahilis. They talked long into the night as the sound of burning came closer and closer.
The following morning a rider from the front came galloping into the village. He reported that the Burning Legion had broken the line and were advancing fast, then swiftly rode back the way he came. Gratillonius ordered his men to mount up and prepare for battle as soon as the villagers were underway. While final preparations were being made, Dahilis pulled him aside.
"Grallon..", she mumbled, "I'm scared. Do you have to go back to the battle?" He looked down upon her and gently kissed her brow. "Fear not, my little elf. Have faith. We shall triumph and we shall return and the forest will live again. And when I return...we shall be married." Dahilis burst into tears and hugged him closely, not knowing that she would never lay eyes on him again.
* * *
It was almost two years after the war had been won. The damage the Burning Legion had inflicted on the land had been great, and remnants of evil still lurked in every corner. Many of the elven folk had left the shores of Nortern Kalimdor and now dwelt amoung the boughs of the mighty tree Teldrassil. Things seemed almost at peace again.
Since that night in Ashenvale, Dahilis had not seen Gratillonius again. But they had kept in contact...he sent her letters describing of the victories of battle and how he was now in command of a large regiment out of Stormwind. She in turn sent him letters describing the beauty of Teldrassil and the wonderful city of Darnassus that lived amongst it's branches. He had promised to visit, once his duties allowed.
However, six months passed, and the letters stopped coming. Dahut noticed her daughter growing increasingly distant over this time, and whenever she would try to dissuade her from mixing with this 'human' Dahilis would grow angry and wander off into the woods for days on end. After one particularly heated argument, Dahilis declared that she was leaving Teldrassil, and would travel all the way to Azeroth to find her 'Lord'. Between that time and the time she left, Dahilis and her mother did not again speak to each other.
During her time in the forests of Teldrassil, Dahilis had found and befrended a young wild cat. His coat was a dark grey and mottled, shining in the moonlight in a way that reminded her of that day - as the moonlight glistened on Gratillonius' armour. She had named her pet 'Grallon', after her Lord, and they went everywhere together. So with Grallon by her side and bow on her back she ventured forth into the world beyond her home.
* * *
For over a year she travelled the lands, searching for news of Gratillonius. Through the snow laden lands of Dun Morogh, she reached Ironforge and gasped in wonder at the city of the Dwarves. She had heard of a fantastical device below the city that could transport her to Stormwind almost in an instant and had hoped to use it, but recent attacks by some Orc renegades had damaged the system and she was forced to take the road on foot.
Through swamp and mountain she travelled, her faithful Grallon always by her side, and eventually she reached the massive City of Stormwind. While making enquiries in a tavern, she was approached by a dark, rough looking man.
"Yes, I know of the man you are looking for," he rasped, narrowing his eyes at Dahilis, "Aye, I know of him well."
Dahilis stared levelly at the man and said nothing. "There is a story to be told fer sure little lady, but stories aren't cheap." His grin looked almost like a grimace.
For a moment, Dahilis mentally prepared to get up and leave, but at the last minute she relented. She had no news since entering the City and should not turn down any chance of finding her Lord. Slowly, she pulled out a couple of silver coins from her pouch and dropped them into the man's cracked hands.
"Talk." she demanded.
"Aye, to hear his story you must listen to mine, lady."
He closed his eyes for a few seconds, and when he reopened them he looked deadly serious.
"My name is Arranor Pashton," he nodded towards her briefly, "You can call me Pash, ma'am. Years ago I was a soldier, well more a scout you could say as my talents lend themselves more to hidin' than fightin'. I was shifted from outfit to outfit in my time, but eventually ended up in a small squad. One led by the very man you be lookin' fer. From the get go I found him able and honest. Aye, the man was easily liked to be sure."
Dahilis felt her heart skip a beat - could this really be true? Perhaps this man will lead her to her Lord.
The man continued, "I became friends with young Gaius. Ar, we were pretty good friends, " his eyes gazed into the distance briefly as if remembering old times, "But a time ago, after the war you understand, some black hearted scoundrel set me up. Stealing money from the barracks they said.
Hah!" he turned aside and spit on the floor, "I never stole nuthin' in my whole life. But your man there came back from one of his missions and defended me to the hilt. Aye, a good friend.
But for all his effort, 'twas for naught. I was stripped of me rank and thrown out of the army. If not for young Gaius, I would no doubt have been hung up and left to the crows. Well after that thing turned sour for me," he laughed without much humour, "But Gaius...well, he lent me a bob or two in his time. Aye, in his time."
Dahilis lowered her eyes for a moment in thought, then said softly, "Do you know where he is now? Please, I must know."
The following silence seemed like an eternity to her.
"Well now," Pash said, "Here's the thing."
He reached out and gently placed his hand over Dahilis' own.
"Your man was...on duty in the Horde lands. Now I know things between those creatures and ourselves have become a bit unstuck as of late, but this was a mission of peace. He had a small squad of men with him and was tasked with making contact with those dreadful orcs. He was travellin' through the barren lands out there with one of them big Tauren beasts to guide him - now they ain't too bad mind - and I hear they scaled up one of those mountain ranges, takin' their horses with 'em.
Now there they was, standin' on the top o' the world, lookin' down upon the red rocks of the Orc lands below. But as fate would have it, one of them horses got the spook on them, who knows why, and caused a scuffle. Well, young Gaius grabbed the horse and tried to calm him, but as he did he lost his footing on the rocks up there. He slipped. He fell down to his doom with naught a cry. 'Tis not a way for a man to die. Not a man like Gaius."
Dahilis sat frozen in time, unable to believe what was being said.
"Now deary," Pash patted her hand as he talked, "I know you and he have been...well 'together' for some time now. Aye I remember you standing there as I rode in to tell the Captain to make haste during the war. But that is all water passed under now."
Dahilis pulled back her hand as it started to tremble. She upended her pouch of coins into Pash's hand and strode out of the tavern, tears streaming down her cheeks.
* * *
She had been back in Teldrassil for just over a month now when she ventured out into the glades and made her vow at the Moonwell. Her Lord had died for nothing! A proud and mightly leader he was, and such a feeble death! Releasing her pet into the wild and throwing down her bow, she took up a sword and cut off the long white hair that flowed down her back.
"By Elune I vow this," she proclaimed, holding the sword up high, "I shall live the life of my love, FOR my love. I shall smite my enemies, fight with honour and make his spirit proud. I shall finish the life he began! For we are one!"
But with that vow, bitterness was in her heart. Changed, she turned from the Moonwell and strode away into the world beyond...