Open mine eyes that I may see.
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me.
Open mine eyes, illumine me,
Spirit Divine . . . ((Cris Williamson))
They told me to keep a journal. I feel so battered by what's happened that I am not sure I could tell anyone why I don't want to do it, so I'm just doing it.
There are so many rules. Wear only cloth. Wear only cloth that is appropriate for your new skills. Do not use your druid skills, ever. I asked them, "Ever?" and they said not for awhile anyway. So all that beautiful cloth clothing I have back at the Hall cannot be worn just now, never mind my leather and my weapons, the staves as appropriate for a priest as for a druid. They are, apparently, imbued with my druidic power, and would distort my priestly powers. So I need to use only new items, at least for the time being.
Today was hard. I went to Aldrassil again, and not much has changed there, surprisingly. There are still animals who need to be culled, and moss that must be gathered. I did what was required, and I did it as they told me to do it, calling on the Light and the Shadow, leaving Nature's grace aside. It feels odd to have Light and Shadow coursing through me like that. But it is what I came here for, so I must persevere, get used to it, start to learn from it.
In many ways, the fact that I must throttle my instincts on how to handle situations is the hardest thing for me. When many enemies swarm me, my body starts to shift to Dire Bear, but I must not do that. My advisors are clear. If I truly wish to understand the light that has begun to fill me, I have to give it room, not crowd it out.
It is a great loss to me, to leave my own weapons and armor in the Hall, and even worse to leave Ventus behind. He looked sad and forlorn again when I left, but when I told him he was the one who told me to go hunt my destiny, he swatted at me playfully and bade me get moving, then.
I did graduate today, and have been sent to Dolanaar to see what I can do to help there.
I met with my advisors today. They have told me to stop chewing things over in my mind and to write it all down instead, how I came to be here. They told me to meditate first, as priests do, and to fill myself with light before I wrote. These things I have done. I am grateful that they have left me with permission to fill myself with light, in the way I learned in the glade that night, in the Dream. Ah, bah! I get ahead of myself again.
I will write it all down, trying to capture two threads at once, how it seemed to me then and also how it seems to me now.
Where to start? Well, he is the center of my life, so I suppose I should start wtih Pavel. I met him when I was finishing up my leatherworking apprenticeship in Darnassus. He was passing through and needed armor repairs. We fell in love. I kept thinking it would pass off, but it never has, even now. We had wonderful times together, but I was too young, really. At the time, I believed myself passionately committed to Balance, and I utterly convinced myself that his commitment to Light was skewed and wrong. We fought about it. I told him Light and Shadow just are. He told me Shadow hides horrors I could not imagine, and that it was wrong to encourage it. He was stubborn, too, and convinced that given time he could talk me out of the wrong-headedness of communing with Shadow.
But mostly, I could see Light shining out of his eyes, and it seemed alien to me in ways that his human body and heart did not. I could not reach him, and it felt to me that to build a bridge to his Light-filled world would be to compromise my commitment to Balance beyond bearing. In the end, we were no longer fighting, and we were still very much in love, but we were separated by our views of the world. And I never did learn to bear the Light when it shone out of his eyes.
Well, I told him to leave and he did. We wrote to one another from time to time, sent each other things we found along the way that made us think of one another. The loss has never healed, although I have learned to live with it, at least until recently. In the meantime, when I completed my apprenticeship, my Master sent me to the druids in Aldrassil and they accepted me for druid training. I learned to Dream more lucidly, and to use my soul and skills to help keep the world in Balance.
Then I joined the Defenders of Valor. One night, I was wandering in the woods, because I could not sleep. News had come that Pavel, newly married, had disappeared under suspicious and alarming circumstances. My friend Rhaina had gone to see his family (she is a cousin of his, through a coincidence I don't think was entirely random) to try to find him or at least get news of him. While she was gone, I had begun to dream of him in torment, and of his suffering. I think I began to go a little mad. I refused to wander in the Dream, for fear it would be like my nighttime dreams, only moreso. I wrote to Rhaina and told her I needed to go find him, that I believed he was in the Undercity, that I could not wait. She came home immediately and convinced me to promise her not to take any action at all until she and I agreed on the course of action. How she got me to promise this is, I think, not pertinent, except that her passion for finding the truth was so apparent to me that I was able to trust that part of it into her hands.
Still, the promise weighed heavily on me, as the dreams refused to stop. Pavel as a forsaken, scrambling in the gutters for trash to eat for supper. Pavel, still human, in red hot chains, suspended over an acid bath, screaming despite himself. More and more graphic, more and more terrifying. Eventually, sleep began to be something I chose not to seek.
One night, with the promise nearly choking me in my bed, and unwilling to sleep, I wandered in the woods near the Hall. There, I encountered a glade I had not seen before, and two people I barely recognized, the Lady of Virtue and the High Lord of the Defenders. They were fighting a mighty cat who was deeply injured and badly corrupted inside and out. I laid a druidic song of sleep on him, and delayed their deaths.
When I stepped into the glade, I discovered that the High Lord bore his own mark of corruption. I did not know what it was then, but I could also see his wise and shining spirit glowing within him. When the corruption he bore tried to take his body for its own, I made a Dream connection to his spirit and allowed Elune to use me as a conduit to channel Her love and light to him. It worked, at least for the moment. Once that struggle passed, we remained connected for the rest of his life.
But I get ahead of myself again.
That night, he asked me to go into the Dream and try to cleanse his beloved saber of the corruption that the cat carried. Although I was terrified to Dream, beacuse of Pavel, I did what he asked. Lady Polrena shielded them so that the High Lord's demon corrupter could not destroy us, and I went into the Dream. There I fought the demon possessing the cat for the spirit of the cat, and won. I won by filling myself with light: moonlight, starlight, sunlight. I used the light as a weapon against the demon's avatar, although he assaulted me in all the ways he could. And as I sat in the Earth Mother's hand and carried the grace of the moon goddess, I won. The light destroyed the avatar, and I was able to rescue from the Dream, well, not the injured saber, for Elune called him home, but a new kitten, a gift from the goddess to the High Lord, who carried the old saber's spirit within him.
They carried me home unconscious that night, and when I awake the next day, I discovered that I was still connected to Lord D'ana'no, and also that I still carried the light of Elune within me. There was quite a lot to do, as we worked to discover who or what had possessed the lord of our company, and why it might be so, and for the most part, I was able to ignore what I was learning about myself.
Eventually we made our way to the ruined city of Stratholme, where we faced our enemies for the last time. Many of us fell that day. I myself spent some time in a prisonhouse of pain constructed just for me by the demon Balnazzar, but the High Lord rescued me and we went on to the final battle. In it, he gave his life to prevent the Black Dragonflight from re-entering the world, and I came face to face with myself. As if I stood outside myself, I could see the light of Elune shining from my eyes, and at the Earth Mother's behest, I finally looked at myself.
There is no less light shining from me than there ever was Light shining from Pavel's eyes. I was forced to face the reality that I had been wrong. When one cleaves to Balance, as I still do, there are many ways to serve that Balance. And I appear to have been chosen to serve Balance by being a cradle for light. Whatever Pavel and I were meant to do, it cannot have been turning away from one another. I worry that we all suffer, he most of all, because of that error.
The druids of Darnassus could not help me understand myself, much to their chagrin and my disappointment. I ventured to Wailing Caverns to consult with the Druids of the Fang, and they were no more help. Plus, they then tried to kill me, so I had to destroy them. I found myself drawn to the Temple of the Moon, where I sat bathed in the light of Elune, and could feel that it was shining inside me as brightly as outside.
I sought the help of the priesteses, and after prayer and meditation on their part, they offered me a chance to find out for myself. They offered to take me -- a fully trained druid -- and teach me to be a priestess of Elune as well. The part of me that had sent Pavel away screamed out in protest, but here I am, a priestess of very few seasons, trying to learn to carry the light with grace.
I will never stop being a druid. It is who I am. But perhaps learning to act as a priestess will teach me how to live into who I am really meant to be. The Earth Mother told me to have the courage to face myself, and here I am, trying hard to do so.
Today was the funeral for the High Lord. An odd kind of funeral with no body, but we carried on. I met a young warrior who is afraid of me. It was sobering to know that I can scare someone. But I realized when talking with him that this new thing is the scariest thing I have ever done -- and I, too, sometimes lack courage. I offered him a cliche or two, and I hope they will help me, too.
After the ceremony, I spoke with both Lady Polrena and Lady Celera, to let them know what I have embarked upon. I do not know who I will be when I am done, except I carry the hope I will be more fully myself.
They can take away my clothes, my weapons, and my skills, but I won at least one argument, and have plenty of bags with me. They arranged to give me a new bank account, too, not cluttered with the detritus of my druidic wnderings, but clean and new and waiting for my priestly self to put her mark on it.
I am slowing getting into the habit of priestly meditation. It is maddeningly easy for my spirit to seek the Dream while I meditate, but I am learning not to let it go there. I miss the Dream so very much! And my advisors have decided that it is not right to keep me from it. However, if I wish to Dream, I am required to remove all my priestly garb, cleanse myself both physically and ritually, and don my druidic garb. Only then may I Dream or shift or otherwise act the druid. When I am done, I must reverse the process.
At first I found it cumbersome, but I now find it comforting. As I gain the barest comfort with my fledgling priestly abilities, I find I feel protective of them, and do not want them overpowered by my admittedly more fully developed druidic skills. Sneaky Kitty is not going anywhere. When I am ready, I will integrate it all. Until then, well, if a long life hasn't taught me patience yet, it never will.
Things take time.
I miss D'ana'no. When I knew him, he was so consumed by his burden that I never felt free to talk to him in the ways I wanted to. I kept thinking "When this is over . . ." but when this was over turned out to be very different than I expected it to be. Instead of a return to himself, we got a heroic death. I wept tonight for my loss, knowing it made me very selfish indeed to wish I had the chance to sit under a tree with him and just talk and listen. I have seen his spirit in the Dream. I do not want to intrude on the peace he has found there, but oh! what a loss for me!
I finally wrapped up my work in Teldrassil and am moving on to Darkshore. I begin to see a pattern in how the different callings make use of the same needs in our damaged lands. When I trained as a druid, my work in helping to restore the balance in Teldrassil taught me the basics of calling the power of nature to my fingertips, and helped me gain the strength of body and spirit to allow me to enter more fully onto the druidic path. I left Teldrassil that time ready to learn how to slip into the form of a Bear at need.
Well, the island is still overrun by various corruptions, and I have again spent some time struggling to put things right. This time, I find that what I am learning is to feel light fill me up, and spill over. I am beginning to learn how to weave light and shadow into power of a different sort. And I feel more solidly held in the Earth Mother's hands than ever, as if she is cradling me to allow me to learn what I need to know, now that I have accepted that I am not who and what I thought I was.
No, that's not right. I *am* a druid. I will never be anything else. And I *am* a balance keeper. But I was wrong about how I ought to live into that truth, and I am learning now to be the kind of druid I am meant to be.
When I came to Darkshore, it was with eyes that see differently than I saw before. I remember this area when I was child. Deep dark forests, teeming with life, cultivated by my immortal brethren, a place where elves lived in balance with nature. Now it is corrupted, teeming with disease and undeath, populated by demons, tormented souls of the highborne, and those members of deadly cults that seem to destroy the world in the name of some greater evil. When I came here as a young druid, I ws focused on the ways in which nature itself was out of balance. Now I see the ways in which light has been corurpted into evil, and shadow twisted into harmful traps for the unwary. It is as if I see with new eyes. The taint here runs deep, as deeply wrong in the ways in which light and shadow are balanced as any place I can imagine.
Of course, we are no longer immortal. When the days of my life are finite, the time I spend is all the more precious to me. I feel some of the urgency I have often seen in humans, even though I can expect many more days yet to come than any of them will ever have. I begin to suspect that their short, brightly burning lives account for the ways in which they experience their own encounters with the numinous. Pavel was in the fullness of his young manhood when we loved one another, and I was nearly ten times his age, but very much younger in spirit. I wonder if it is sometimes so hard for me to learn things because I was designed to have infinite time to learn them? And I wonder if his glorious stubborness grew out of the knowledge that his time was limited? What a gift they have, these humans, to be able to take time from their hectic race toward their destiny to laugh and cry and love. I admire it.
As I begin to see what it means to be a priestess of Elune, however, I know that the elvish priesthood is a different kind of thing than the one humans follow. I can see it in Lady Polrena, and in Rhaina too. They do not serve a goddess, which is a superficial diffference. For them, Light and Shadow really do need to be capitalized, because they are the end-all and be-all of what they experience the greater pattern to be. For me, light and shadow play across the face of the moon goddess and fill me at need for me to weave into the patterns the world requires in the moment. How did I ever think I could be a balance keeper without being a weaver?
I got a wand today, and I am infatuated with it. How nice it would be to be able to use a wand in moonkin form! With the wand in my hand, I can control my use of magical energy much better, which gives me more control over light and shadow in turn. I use the wand to buy me time to weave my patterns.
Darkshore work goes well enough. I am gradually growing in my capabilities as a priest. Yesterday, I came upon a party of people who had been ambushed by a pack of moonsabers, leaving two of them dead. Almost without thought, I revived one of them and opened my mouth to apologize for not being able to revive the other one just yet, when I realized that as a priest, I could call them both back. I felt myself fill with light again, and poured it into the second body. Before I knew it, the two victims were standing before me, drained and in need of healing, but both alive.
Naturally, I felt ambivalent about that. Glad I could help, of course, and pleased not to have to remember to carry seeds around with me for such occasions. Still, I am not yet entirely comfortable with calling so much light to me, so regularly. When I was learning to see myself as a cradle of light in service of balance, I only did it in extreme circumstances. Now, I am learning to do it routinely.
My advisors push aside my concerns. I could not learn this, they assure me, if it were not the will of Elune. But I have found in my life that Elune lets me do what I will, whether it is for good or evil, and then expects me to live with the consequences. Still, I feel the urgent need to learn what I am learning, so I persevere.
Cloth is not as warm as leather on a cold night.
I took the day away from the priesthood. I cleansed myself carefully and dressed in leather, finding it both comforting and oddly uncomfortable to be in the fullness of my druidic power once again. Like a small child with new toys, I swtiched back and forth from one form to another, just to remind myself how it feels to shift in body as well as in spirit. I danced in the moonlight of the early morning hours, and then I went to see Ventus.
Ah, how I miss him! He is glorious, and growing more beautiful by the day. He is strong and swift and courageous and so fully himself I cannot help but grin at him. I have never met a being more fully living in his body and in the moment. It is as if because he came from elsewhere, he is somehow grounded here in ways that few beings manage who were born here. When he is playing, all there is is the game. When he sleeps, he sleeps more fully than anyone I have ever met. And when he is communing with another soul, he is fully present. He is a Saber and yet he is more, for he is touched by Elune, and when we spend time together, it is almost as if I spend time with Her, except more comfortable.
We hunted together for a bit. He asked me when I would be back and I had to tell him I am still very young in the priesthood, and I will not be allowed to ride him until I reach the fullness of my priestly powers, at least not when I am garbed and acting as a priest. So he bade me climb up on his bare back, and he ran off, taking my breath away with the speed and smoothness of his gait, and with his ability to take me where I need to be. We came to rest by a waterfall above Northshire Abbey, and he dozed in the sun while I sat back and wove patterns out of last year's grass.
After awhile, I realized I found it as odd to be in my druidic self, and cut off from my growing abilities with light and shadow, as I ever find it not to be able to shift or use the power of nature when I act as a priest. I chafed again at the rules I agreed to, and then I let it go. One day in the future, I will trust myself to decide how this all fits together. In the meantime, I will trust my advisors and simply enjoy what I have when I have it. I cannot think of a thing I gain by pining for what I have put down purposely, whether it is the ability to shift to Sneaky Kitty when I am on a mission in Darkshore, or -- when I am wearing leather -- the ability to see the light and the shadow with eyes that are learning to know them, hands that are learning to weave them, a spirit that longs to know her place among them.
A peaceful feeling came over me. I am learning to honor Balance in the most profound way I know how. And I hope to dance in the light of change, now and forever.
Leather is not as comfortable as cloth when one takes an afternoon nap under a tree, cradled in the Earth Mother's hand.
I had druid business to take care of today. A trip to Moonglade to meet with the man who was my last trainer there, who taught me to shift to moonkin, to take the energy that crackles between those things that are held in Balance and bend it to my needs. Two small deliveries to friends who have settled into scholoarly roles among the Cenarion Circle.
And a meeting with Dendrite Starblaze. For whatever reason, he is the first I have spoken to about my new studies who does not approve. He roared with anger, his own control slipping for a moment, and his Dire Bear form flashing in and out of view. He struggled with himself. I could see it. And then in an ominously calm voice, he bade me visit him monthly so that he could monitor my progress.
I do not know that the Circle can actually require this of me, for I am fully trained, and fully sworn to the Emerald Dream. However, I see no real reason to deny this request, for all it was presented as a demand.
After our encounter, I sat down by one of the Moonwells, trailing my fingers through the shimmering water, and letting my spirit wander. I was not in the Dream, but instead wandering my own memories. And of course, as so often, my memories soon turned to Pavel. Like a well-worn path in my mind, I thought again of our trip to Ashenvale, of the love and laughter that this one quiet day has come to epitomize for me.
I remembered the quiet moments we shared, the laughter. The time I dragged him into the woods of Ashenvale, where I grew up, and tried to teach him to walk quietly. First there was frustration, for paladins are not folk of stealth, in general. Then there was hilarity as he tried so hard, and so unsuccessfully, to walk along a path without crunching any leaves or breaking any twigs. And finally, exhausted from our efforts and laughter, we sat beneath a tree, he leaning against its trunk, I leaning against him, and were nearly silent in our mutual wonder at the world that spread out before them.
I pointed out the small animals he never noticed for himself, and he showed me how he knew that forsaken members of the Twilight Crusade had passed that way earlier in the day. Then he pulled a small leather pouch from his pocket, and took a small book from it. Without preamble, he began to read to me, an essay about the importance of persistence and how to cultivate it. His voice, so musical, so dear, washed over me, as I listened to his human philosophy, and I knew that his stalwart heart would not allow him to fail in the things he set out to do. When he finished reading, I pressed my face against his shoulder and hummed a simple tune my father taught me, in the days when Pavel's grandparents were just children themselves. He held me in silence, and perfect companionship.
I chafe sometimes, knowing that it is not my task to pursue him, wherever he has been taken, to bring him back to the world of the living, to the world he loves so much. My task is different. I do not know if we will ever meet again once Rhaina has found him, but I strive to be worthy of him and of the love we shared anyway. He is my talisman of Light, and I seek to understand my own light-filled ways, if only to make up for what I am more and more sure was the grave error of my youth.
I wish we had been smarter, wiser, older, calmer, more patient, more trusting in each other and in the powers that surrounded us. I wish I had not sent him away, but instead had found the courage to look into his eyes when the Light shone out of them, and found the courage to love him like that. That Light, that was his essence, and I rejected it because I was afraid.
I am still afraid. Afraid for him. Afraid for myself. Afraid, often, of the patterns I weave of light and shadow. But this time I will not turn away in fear, but will face myself. Elune willing, doing so will give me the strength to face Pavel, or Pavel's fate, with love, compassion, and serenity.
This time, I will embrace who I am and who I am becoming.
I spent a bit of time today in Westfall, once again hunting down murlocs and helping out around town. Then my communicator buzzed and it was Emi. He told me about a terrible incident in the Temple of the Moon, so I hurried back to Darnassus, and was shocked to see what I saw there. I know I was in no shape to help them as a priestess so young and so untried, so I took advantage of the Moonwell outside town to cleanse myself and ritually re-engage my druidic way of being.
By the time I was fully clothed in leather and entwined once again in the rhythms of the Earth Mother's breathing, Emi had also arrived. We wandered around and looked at the signs of whatever chaotic, explosive events had occurred, even as workers moved quickly to hide and repair the damage. I learned a bit about what happened, but not enough.
Then Emi started to talk about things even he did not know how he knew -- and yet we were both convinced he was right. He used some kind of breathing and centering exercise and, well, I have no other way to describe it, he turned into someone else. Someone still Emi, still aware of what we had been doing, but not the same man.
And I became afraid.
I could feel myself opening wide, as if I were about to start gathering light into myself, and yet there was no reason. We were simply sitting on the grass in the Temple, speaking to one another. I wanted the comfort of my wand at my side, and yet I knew that even my fully trained druidic powers would not be enough if what threatens us had come to us in that moment.
But I know what it was. The Changing Beast has settled into our world. It is too soon. I do not yet know what I need to learn. And yet, the time has come. She is here.
And I remain Druid, Priestess, Dreamer, Fool.
After Emi left, I took advantage of my druid form and called Ventus to my side. We rode many places as I executed some commissions for this odd goblin in Gadget. I now have a lovely new pair of gloves, and yet the best thing about this interlude was being with Ventus. His gait grows ever smoother and he gains speed every time I ride him. But most of all, he likes me, as I am, who I am. His love is uncomplicated, born in the Dream, and I cherish it, for it is something clear, inviolable, and I cannot destroy it with pride, willfulness, or youthful error.
I feel a strand of sadness in him, as the spirit of Adumbro yearns to be in the Dream with the one he loved so deeply and so well. It is bittersweet to me to know what the cost to all of us was that I should be able to share the companionship of so noble and luminous a beast.
We ended up at the Halls, where we parted again, and I went to the Virtue wing to bathe and remake myself as a priestly acolyte. I have discovered that I experience the formal rituals I use to transition between Sorcha the Druid and Sorcha the Priestess as a slow form of shape shifting. Just as I can do things in my feral and moonkin forms I cannot do as an elf, I can do things as a priestess that the druid cannot fathom, and vice versa.
I remember a conversation between D'ana'no and Lady Polrena. He said he did not understand this Light that humans worship, and she tried to tell him that it was not worship, for the Light they follow is not a deity. What strikes me, however, is that even for a priestess of Elune, light is different than it is for a druid. I am baffled that I can even begin to understand both ways of being at the same time.
When I am a druid in the fullness of my powers, I feel a powerful connection to the world, and I use light to rebalance what is being unbalanced. I would call that which unbalances, Evil. Otherwise, I use the power that flickers in every living and non-living thing to allow me to shift my shape and my capabilities. It is through my connection to the world as it is, balanced with my ability to walk the Dream, that I live, breathe, sleep, act, and love.
When I am a priest, I see light and shadow. I see balance not in terms of the world and the Dream, for as a priestess, I do not Dream. I see it instead in the play of light upon the face of shadow, the way in which shadow acts as a ground for light, making it visible and meaningful to us. I weave light and shadow directly, into patterns that flicker off my fingers and act to bring the two back into balance. I do not sing, as I do when I use druidic powers. I weave with my fingers and my mind and my heart and my spirit.
I came to explore the priesthood of Elune because I was gifted greatly by Her, touched, and filled so often with Her light. I did not understand it, not being a creature of light and shadow. Now I am. And it deepens the ways in which I am also a creature of balance.
Druid. Priestess. Dreamer. Balance keeper.
Fool? Perhaps. But it is the foolishness of the idealist. I will be who and what I need to be, for myself, for the world, for the goddesses who have blessed me with their care. I am not human, to burn brightly and briefly. But I hope to shine as a small beacon of hope for those who struggle against all that corrupts our world.
I was Blooded last night.
I don't know how I feel about that. No, that's not quite right.
I feel honored by the process, and doubly honored that Arvaitha was willing to be my sister in this ritual. I was moved by the ritual, and felt the new commitment to the House of the Beast in my blood as Celera played out the ritual with us.
But it was also strange. Even as a druid, I am a creature of spells and light. I fill with Elune's light, I sit in the Earth Mother's hand. I use my feral forms sparingly, only to investigate the world, and settle more deeply into it. I don't fight in feral forms.
However, in order to account for the difference in skill and experience between Arvaitha and myself, I divested myself of my weapons and the skills I normally use, and fought her in Bear form. As we hoped, this made it a close and credible struggle, and she did very well. As did Gorgy. I used a combat rezz on Gorgy, to honor his courage in the fight, even though I did manage to defeat him in the end.
Still, I wonder who was really Blooded last night? It wasn't the druid I normally am, I think. It was someone more feral, more closely connected to the violence of nature than I usually am, even in the fullness of my druidic power.
It is odd that as I spend my days working to be more authentically the light-filled vessel of Elune I so often seem to be, to understand what happens to the moonlight, starlight, and sunlight that fills me . . . even as I strive to know myself better in this way, I find myself ensnared by the parts of my druid self I often ignore. Dire Bear? Good for sleeping the sun. Yesterday, I used it to kill Gorgy.
I wonder what it all means.
I feel awkward around Emi. I have known him as so many different people, in so many different ways. Sometimes, he is so solid and stolid, so sure that his existence has no connection to the numinous (or as he would call it, the 'Verse). Other times, he knows that what we can see is not everything, he speaks to me in words that carry the weight of higher truth. But when I encoutner him, I never know which Emi it will be. And in his more stolid moments, he clearly thinks I am deranged. Such is the power of the Changing Beast, I suppose.
Robbyn continues to interest me. He is one of the bravest people I know, because he is so scared all the time. It seems we have different ways of understanding "brave", however. He seems to think that bravery means never being scared, never being tempted to run away, never actually running away. I wish I could comfort him, but I clearly alarm him.
Besides, he won't believe anything I say. I don't think he believes me when I tell him I am scared. But I am, oh Elune, I am.
I am afraid of failure. I am afraid that Pavel is beyond saving. I am afraid that if this is so, I will never forgive myself for what I did those years ago. I am afraid that I will never find what I am looking for, and so will never truly know myself.
At times like this, I am drawn back to Ventus and his uncomplicated affection. I shift to Cat and curl up with him in the sun, and we sleep. My heart eases, with his companionship and the warmth of his huge body. Still, I often wake in tears.
The path through contrition is much harder than I ever dreamed it might be.
I spent two days in the Dream. I put aside the cloth armor, the attitude of the neophyte priestess, the weaving of light and shadow. Instead, I wandered in that place that is nowhere, that time that is never. I wandered. I saw many wondrous things, many distubing things, many puzzling things.
Everywhere I went, I saw patterns woven of light and shadow, but I did not understand them. I could feel my new priestly sensibilities tugging at my heart, as if to tell me that I could have understood them if I entered the Dream in another state. But it is not the priestess or the fool who is the Dreamer. It is the druid.
I felt Elune gazing at me, knew myself to be full to the brim with all kinds of light, and yet . . .
The Dream was a comfort to me this trip. It offered me many many paths, and I wandered. I will not say I wandered aimlessly, for it was the Dream and nothing there is without meaning. I will say that the patterns of my wanderings are not yet apparent to me.
While Dreaming, I sat in one of Ventus' favorite places, under a tree, and he guarded me. When I awoke from the Dream, we hunted a bit together, and I knew he had been with me in the Dream, just a little bit, even as he waited for me in this world.
When I got back to the Halls, there was a pile of fresh handkerchiefs in my room in Beast. After I bathed and wrapped myself in a soft robe, I made my way to my very small room in the Virtue wing, where I donned my priestly garments and meditated on the light, allowing those powers to rise to the surface and putting to rest my abilities with nature and balance and the very fabric of this world. When I was done and I opened my eyes again, there was a pile of handkerchiefs on the stand by my cot there, too. Handkerchiefs?
I left the Halls and headed back to Darnassus to consult with my advisors in the Temple of the Moon. They sent me back to Ashenvale and Stonetalon, where I work wtih corruption again. I can't feel the corruption of form when I live and breathe as a priest, only the corruption of spirit, of which there is much. At their advice, I arose this morning and did the slow shift back to druid, and revisted the same places. This time, I could sense the physical corruption, the imbalance, but not the corruption of spirit.
I sat down beside the dead body of a twisted and corrupted furbolg. I put my hand on its corpse and felt the echoes of its physical wongness in my hands. Then, tentatively, I reached for my inner eye, the one that sees shadow and light, and without letting go of my awareness of the physical wrongness, I looked through that eye. For a moment, I was fully aware of both. Of the ways in which Nature is unbalanced in these poor furbolgs, and the ways in which the shadow and the light try to consume one another instead of dancing in their rightful patterns.
It was almost too much for me, and is something I clearly should not try when I am in priest form, since the priestess is so much weaker and less sturdy than the druid form. But I got a glimpse of what I am trying to achieve, and it took my breath away. It was all there, before me, in perfect harmony, and for a moment I understood it all at once.
For this clarity of mind and spirit, this union of soul and body, I would give anything, even days, weeks, months, years of separation from Ventus and my full powers. The day I visit the priest trainer for the last time . . .
I still wake crying. Even my small successes do not wash from me the bitterness of my losses and failures.
I've spent most of the last month wandering, not in body or even in mind, but in spirit.
Some of it was spent kneeling by the fountain in the Temple of the Moon, dressed in the robes of an acolyte, an aspirant to knowledge of the light. In these times, I felt bathed in the light and care of Elune, but gained no more conscious understanding of who or what I am. I feel cleansed, however, by Her light, more comfortable with it when it fills me. And more, accepting, I suppose is an accurate word, of the people I have been, and the choices I have made.
I chose the actions, and by so doing, I chose the consequences. Now I simply learn to live with them.
Some of the last month was spent curled up in Cat form in Moonglade. I traveled there with Ventus, and charged him to watch over me while I wandered. Then I shifted and curled up against the curve of his belly, and Dreamed. I wandered everywhere, it seemed. At first, I felt I was seeking something, but gradually the urgency wore off, and I merely wandered. After awhile, I began to see myself connected to the Dream, always and forever, but also connected deeply to the world as it is. I awoke from time to time, ate and refreshed myself, cuddled Ventus and thanked him for his care, and then Dreamed some more. I feel more sturdy, more solidly placed in myself by virtue of having not lost myself while I wandered so widely.
I pledged myself to the Dream many seasons past, never knowing it would become a part of me.
May Elune grace me with the wisdom I will need to live into Her gifts.
Druid, priestess, dreamer, fool.
It is as if I have been sleeping, merely going through the motions. For weeks, I have been tired, too tired to think, too tired to do much other than putter around, wondering what has gotten into me.
But today I Dreamed. And I found something I never saw before: a new exit to the Dream. I do not dare step out that door, but even finding it has brought me back to myself in a new way.
And so I have traveled to Moonglade and met with Dendrite, per his request, to "discuss and review" my priestly adventures. He frowns at me about the "priest nonsense" but seems to have gotten his anger under control.
We argued, of course, two strong-minded druids that we are. In the end he agreed to help me. Soon, we will go find Ventus, and with Dendrite anchoring us here, the cat and I will wander in my Dream.
I considered trying to get all the way to D'ana'no's spirit. While I would not disturb him to assuage my own losses, I am willing to do so if that is the only way to ease Ventus' pain. For now, though, we will simply go where we can see him, feel the serenity I have felt when I have been in his range in the Dream. I hope this will soothe Ventus' spirit, help him find his own destiny here in the everyday world in which he and I must both live.
I have a note from Rhaina. She is returning to Vanyel's Keep. I hold myself back from joining her. Instead, I plan my trip to the Dream with Ventus, and mend my priestly garb that I may properly honor Elune when I next step into it. Which will, I think, be very soon.
I am grateful for the lifting darkness, and hopeful about my future. Hopeful that past mistakes will not doom me to future misery, that mistakes can be Balanced with nonmistakes and the cheerful doing of my duty.
Enchanting is seductive. At first, I was reluctant to explore it. They told me, as they tell me so often, that to truly walk a new path, I need to adopt new hobbies, new pastimes, so I took up enchanting, without much thought. I used it hardly at all. It was just a way to take useless items I found on my travels and turn them into pretty little dusts and shards that I stored willy-nilly in a small jar in my pack. Sometimes I took it out and looked at it, a jar full of colored light and magic.
A few days ago, I got a new weapon, and I found myself wanting to improve it. I looked through my notes and found a simple way to make the staff a bit more useful to me. I carefully gathered the reagents from the jar, letting them all run through my fingers before I selected the ones I needed. I painstakingly arranged them in the pattern described in my rather sloppy notes, and then used my rod. I could feel power coursing through my arm and suddenly my staff was -- better than it had been.
I was seduced, charmed by the feel of the magical powders on my fingers, awed by what I had caused to happen. And then I looked down at my notes. They were a bloody mess. Scrawled carelessly, messy and unorganized. I would never write down information about leather crafting like that. I was suddenly ashamed of myself.
If I want to do this, I have to do it truly, with all that I am. So with a deep sigh, as I realized finally that I understood what the women in the temple have been saying all along, I sat down and neatly copied out my notes on enchanting, organizing them as I saw new patterns arise in what I had carelessly recorded.
It isn't a game. I have to be who I said I wanted to become. This is the only way to meet myself and learn who I am. I live into my own future, and construct it out of my choices. I choose to immerse myself in what I do in each moment.
Today, I am a priestess of the moon, a woman who weaves patterns of light and shadow, and who can take glowing powders and transform inert objects.
Fool of priestess I may be, but I find more light everywhere I look for it -- and shadow when I forget to seek the light.
I went to the bookseller in Darnassus, the man who sold me the beautiful leatherbound journal in which I keep all my leathercrafting notes, my sketches, and even pasted in samples of things. This book, it is the record of my first love, my first area of mastery. Long before there was the Dream, before even Pavel, there was the leather and the mysteries of what I could create of it, using my fingers and my patience and my imagination.
Sometimes I think back on those days, working so contentedly in the shop in Darnassus. I assumed I would work there even after achieving mastery, that I might someday found my own studio, either in that shop, or in one of my own. That someday I would have apprentices to teach my vision to, who would then surpass me as I sometimes dared to dream I would surpass my own master.
None of that happened, and for one reason only. One day, I was a quiet leatherworker, aspiring to achieving artistry someday. Then next day, I was a woman in love, one who was too young, really, for the fire she walked into with such abandon and confidence.
I broke faith with myself, as much as with Pavel. Oh, gods, how I wish I could call it back, do it again. Sometimes I wonder what my world would have been like if I had not met him, had not dared to love him, had not betrayed him in the end.
My only hope is that the mistakes I have made have annealed me, forged me into a weapon in the hand of Elune. And yet, it is never so easy as that, either, for mistakes or not, my life continues. I have to choose each day who to be and how to be that person.
I Dreamed today. I walked right to the new exit to the Dream and stood staring at it for what seemed several lifetimes. I wondered, for a moment, if my destiny in the hereafter, when I Dream fulltime, will be to stand there, and stare at that exit? I considered stepping through it, but I did not do it.
I know not where it leads, who I might be on the other side of that gate. And until I discharge my obligations to Ventus, I will not risk abandoning him.
Elune hold us all safe, from the dangers of the world, and from the dangers we bring upon ourselves.
More fool I. Getting distracted by considering my sins and follies does not record my journey in the here and now!
Anyway, at the bookseller, I showed him what has become of the leather journal, and after he had examined my work closely, he told me he was honored that his work had fallen into such good care, had become so vital to my own work. I blushed.
Then I told him, "I need another journal, for enchanting notes."
He smiled slowly at me, and reached beneath the counter. He pulled out a book bound in silk-covered board, with the softest pages I have ever seen. And in the spine of the book was a space with an empty vial in it. He told me to put some spare reagents in it, and give him back the vial. I did this, choosing bits and pieces of the light and magic that seemed to me to need to bein the vial. Then I handed the sealed vial back to him.
He did . . . something. And now the vial is embedded in the binding of the book. I could not remove it without destroying the book. My own patterns of light and magic have become part and parcel of the journal I use to record my growing love affair with enchanting.
I spent most of today copying out my newly organized notes, making drawings, getting my book of enchanting ready. I sewed a new pocket in my bag to hold this book, opposite the one that holds my knowledge of the leather arts.
Only the journal in which I write these entries at the behests of the ladies of the Moon is tossed willy-nilly into my bag when I pack. I thought about making a pocket for it, too, but decided in the end, no. The others are the record of my attempts to master arts. This is the record of my attempts to master life itself. A bigger endeavour, messier, more prone to elven error. It is right that it sits among my belongings, not safely stowed in a pocket.
There is no safety in the journeys I take, and that is as it should be. Let the vessel that records them share the risk.
Did I really say "Sometimes I wonder what my world would have been like if I had not met him, had not dared to love him, had not betrayed him in the end"?? My mother always said to be careful what I wished for -- now I see I might want to be careful what I wonder.
I was in the Dream, wandering, loving the changeability of the place/time that is my Dream. So much there, some of it from me, some of it for me. But until recently, only one way out, back to this world. But I wandered until I found a Doorway. And after visiting it several times, I stepped through it.
I stepped into the world again, as I always do when I exit the Dream. But this is a different world, one where I did not meet Pavel at a young age. Yet, in this world, I am still a druid. When I am there, I carry two sets of memories -- the memories that are MINE, and the memories that I would have if I lived in that world. It is . . . odd. To say the least.
Anyway, I was in the woods behind Nighthaven when I Dreamed, and when I stepped through the Doorway, I was there, too. But even with my first breath of worldly air, I knew it was not a Nighthaven I had ever visited before. It was this world, but not.
Someday I will write down the path I took in that world, but for now, I can't think of anything other than Pavel.
I left Nighthaven and went to Ironforge. There I bought a simple meal and settled down next to the fountain to eat it, my mind racing. I saw no one familiar in all of Ironforge, except for merchants. But the merchants seemed not to know me, even the ones I have been dealing with for years. I felt sad and scared and quite bewildered. But there was an edge of excitement, too. I felt very full of Elune's light, even though I was dressed as a druid, and in the fullness of my druidic powers.
While I ate, I watched people pass by. It was the usual press of bodies that characterizes Ironforge, and as ever, many of them were in a hurry. One who was not, a young warrior named Rama, came and sat near me, after asking if I minded sharing my space. He gave me some grapes and I gave him some of the cheese I had purchased. We chatted, as strangers do sometimes. At the end of what became a shared meal, he told me he and some friends were off to fight some Scourge near Light's Hope Chapel, and asked me if I would like to come. Having no idea what else I might do, I said yes.
So off we went, insouciant and companionable, five of us, to fight the never-relenting blight in the Plaguelands. After several days of this, we made our way to Southshore, to reprovision and have some time away from the oppressive atmosphere that makes the Plagelands feel so gloomy and dank.
We were sitting in the tavern in town, when a paladin walked in. I was not paying attention, I am afraid. Rama said, "Sorch, do you know Pavel? He's a frequent member of our company, but has recently been visiting his family. Pavel, this is Sorcha'Rei, who has been helping us at the Mill."
I turned around, knowing already who I would see, and my heart beat so hard my ribs felt bruised by it. He greeted me wtih a friendly smile, told me it was nice to meet me, and took a mug of ale from Rama, with a grin tossed at the whole group before he sat down to join the party.
It is a world where we never met, and where he loves someone else (another druid, of course). I can still not decide if I was happier to see him alive and well, or more devastated that he did not know me, love me, look at me as if I meant everything to him.
But over the next few hours, as we all ate and drank and shared tall tales of our exploits, I realized, he is not my Pavel. He is who my Pavel might have become had he not become my Pavel. And in that world, I can be who I might have become if I had not loved him. I liked that Pavel very much. And yet...
Well, after many days and some more adventures with my new friends, I excused myself, citing "druid business". Ljanna looked at me, startled, for a moment, but she asked me no questions. I went back to Moonglade, back to the tree under which I had Dreamed, and entered the Dream again.
This time, I came back here, to MY world, to my home. To my utter conviction that I wronged both Pavel and myself by sending him away.
I don't know if I can go back there. I have been occupied with priestly matters since my return, and learning to live with what I know now are not the inevitable circumstances of my life.
If I can go back there, I don't know if I will. My destiny is here, in the world which I have shaped with my choices and my actions. Choose the action, choose the consequence. Avoiding it is cowardice.
I would be courageous in this.
I'm not a big fan of hot dry dusty places. Well, that's not entirely true. I can easily be seduced by a magnificent vista looking across Thousand Needles from the Great Lift.
What I don't like is having to work in such locations. I once met someone who grew up in a small settlement at the edge of Tanaris. Looking out from his mother's porch, he saw an endless vista of sand and sky. He got to know the sky in all its moods and incarnations very well, indeed. When we hunted together in Ashenvale one autumn, he got quite homesick. We spoke about it, and he told me that his eyes kept bumping into things -- trees, bushes, what have you -- and it hurt and disturbed him.
I am the opposite. Without the trees, bushes, riotous undergrowth, I feel unanchored, slightly disoriented. For an hour or so's viewing pleasure, taking in the glories of the Earth Mother's work, yes. But hot, dusty places with no trees feel utterly foreign to me, and I am always grateful and happy to return to a shady forest somewhere.
This work in Shimmering Flats, then, is not my ideal. But I have found a side benefit I never knew before. I had carefully gathered several items for the use of the people at the raceway. In return, I was given a set of bracers as payment. I wished to enchant them, so I got out my supplies and carefully selected the powders and essences I required. Laid out on my handkerchief in front of me, the uninterrupted sun, that I had thought of as "glaring" only a moment before picked up the edges of the dust and other reagents and made them dance before my eyes.
The hot sun beats down on me and makes me miserable as I do the work I came here to do, but that same sun makes my powders dance before me. It reminds me that nothing is as it seems, entire.
And that closing my eyes to beauty would rob me of moments of pure joy.
I am staying in Gadgetzan these days, without access to anything druid-like. I sleep in a small room over the alchemist's shop, which she rents me for a few coins. I spend most of my time using my growing priestly abilities to help people who need help. I weave light and shadow into patterns I could not even imagine only a few months ago. The patterns ... shift ... things. With them, I can heal wounds or hold a ghostly terror immobile. I can hurt things, and fight well with them.
Every time I weave a new pattern, I learn a little more about how to See Light. I see it everywhere, in places I never knew it lodged. I see it shining out of some people's eyes. I see it glimmering behind the rocks, and in the flowing water of a stream. What I cannot see is the physical connections between things, the tendrils that my druid eyes notice without thought, that bind each living and nonliving thing to the world.
But slowly, my priestly eyes are learning to let my druid senses layer underneath, to show me both at once. And the opposite is true, too.
When I went to the other Azeroth, I went as a druid. I had no way to be a priest there, of course. But I oculd see light and shadow anyway. I was surprised by that, but maybe I should not have been.
One morning, Pavel and I were washing the dishes from breakfast at our camp, and he was telling me a story of an expedition he had taken into some ruins filled with howling spirits and discontented souls. As he spoke, I watched his face, and the Light that he follows shone from his eyes as powerfully as I ever saw it in this world. But I did not shy away from it. I understood it. And as I stared at him (please let my fantasy that I plastered an interested-in-the-story-you-are-telling expression on my face be true!), I could feel myself filling with light, too, the light Elune sometimes sends me.
Ljanna came out of their tent about that time, and helped me pack away the clean dishes. "You are powerfully touched by Elune," she said to me. "Sometimes it hurts to look at all that light shining from your eyes."
I hardly knew what to say to her. I finally settled for, "Is it so different from the Light that shines from the eyes of your paladin friend?" and she laughed, and said she hoped so, hoped that I was not as impetuous or stubborn with my light. If only she knew how impetuous and stubborn I can be . . .
If only I knew if those qualities were my strengths or my weaknesses.
I run up and down the hill between the Mirage Flats and Gadgetzan. I miss Conundrum and Ventus, and the speed they lend me. Sometimes I feel my body start to change into a cheetah, and I have to pull myself back from that edge. I wear cloth. I weave spells. I am not in leather and singing spells. I am a priestess of Elune.
I grow slowly into these powers, this weaving, that almost seems to let me ride the waves of light and shadow. Each day, my painstaking weaving feels more like a natural thing to do, and the patterns seem to take on a life of their own. When it goes well, I see the pattern in my mind, and my fingers fly to create it in truth.
And when it goes poorly, I make a tangle of light and shadow and uncertainty. Before I can go on to do it correctly, I need to untangle the mess. No one told me this, but I have known it from the first time I made a knotted mess instead of the pattern I meant to weave. I stood under a tree in Aldrassil with a mess in my hands and wondered what to do with it. And then I knew that even though it was not the pattern I intended to weave, it was a pattern nonetheless, and if I left it as it was, it had some power to do something. I did not know what it might do, but I could not risk leaving it as it was. So I sat beneath that tree, and carefully untangled the mess I had made.
Untangling the messes often teaches me more about light and shadow than successfully weaving some pattern I have learned to make. Someday, I hope to be able to look at the tangles and know what they would do, if I were careless enough to leave them. In the meantime, I carefully pull apart my failed weavings and the light and shadow escape and go back where they came from.
Druidic magic uses powers I can see and sense -- the power of the Earth Mother, who is always there, and whose aura imbues everything. Priestly magic uses light and shadow. I harvest what I need when I need it.
Here, in the desert, the edges between light and shadow are very sharp -- it is often much cooler in the shade than in the sun. I have to reach beneath the edges of rocks to get the shadow I need to weave with the light that beats down on me. And at night, I have to harvest the starlight to weave with the shadow of the night. But there is always an unending supply of it.
Provided I look for it, using the eyes that are learning to see it.
There is sand everywhere. I wonder sometimes if I will ever do anything again that doesn't involve sand between my toes. When I am not running back and forth between Gadgetzan and Shimmering Flats, I am doing things in Desolace.
This new fascination with enchanting and the reagents I use to empower things has given me a new perspective on sand. In the right light, sand reminds me of magical dusts. And my druid eyes can see the power of the Earth Mother in the sand I hold in my relaxed hand -- it shimmers as if it were a part of her. It is that shimmer, perhaps invisible to those who cannot see as I can, that reminds me of the dusts.
The sands of Tanaris are hard-edged. The individual grains are translucent, a light tellowy tan in color, but the light of the sun catches on the corners of the grains and splits into tiny rainbows. In the right light, a handful of sand looks like a wild and crazy mixture of all my carefully hoarded dusts.
The sands of the Shimmering Flats are flaky, more like talc. Normally, the Flats don't seem sandy at all, the stuff is so tightly packed. it is only later, when I empty my socks of the accumulation of flaky sand that I see what it is like. Each little piece of this sand is a white flake, with smooth edges, as if it broke off the tightly packed ground evenly. I can smooth them over a dark piece of paper and cover its color completely. What use they might be, I do not know, but their share of the Earth Mother's power is not visible. When I spread some of this powdery sand out before me, and hold my open palm just an inch or so above it, I can feel the power in it. Silent, invisible, and very much there.
The sands of Desolace are nearly dirt. But when I take a handful of it and wash it off with water, and the dust is carried away, ah, what beauty. These grains are all different colors, round like tiny tiny pebbles. I place a few on a piece of polishe dwood and blow gently, The little spheres roll away from my breath. When I look at them with my druid eye, I see them holding their gift from the Earth Mother inside themselves, waiting for the right time to release it. I wonder what might cause all the sand in Desolace to release that power, and I pray that I will not be fated to be present when it happens.
I traveled to Ironforge today, to get some supplies I could not find in Gadgetzan, and while I was there, I ate a picnic lunch on the same fountain, same precise location, where I met Rama in that other Ironforge. I found myself missing him, missing all of them, even their Pavel, whom I was so glad to get away from when I left. My mind wandered towards the entrance to the Dream, and I wonder if I should go visit them.
So far, I have not done it.
Since the Defenders struck their tents, I have been even more solitary than usual. I sometimes drop into the world where Pavel is whole and healthy, but it depresses me more than cheering me, for I still do not know what has become of my Pavel, nor do I understand fully my own part in causing his fate.
I do know that I was wrong, very wrong. I struggled for months with the shame of that, but it isn't something to be ashamed of, really. It's something to know about myself: that in the interests of principle, I can become rigid and inflexible. And it is something to regret, that I came to this knowledge too late.
There's something else I have realized about myself. I was a romantic. Part of me, the very young part (I hope!) was in love with the thought of being in love with someone I had to leave for ethical reasons. I understood our parting as a great tragedy, when the tragedy was our youth, our stubbornness, our inflexibility. And now, Pavel's death, or worse.
Ah, but life goes on, and even though my life has become a finite string of days, there are likely to be many of them. And I was not made to sit in a darkened room and sulk over my failings. So I go on. And going on, have learned to embrace what was always there: the light of Elune that shines on me and through me. I do not know how I came to be what I am, but I accept that I am a vessel for something I rejected out of hand.
I see it all now. Light, shadow, life, death. Everything is physical, attached to the world, with power from that attachment, Everything is not just physical, pulsing with the patterns of light and shadow that underlie and support the physical nature of the world we live in. When things are in Balance, the physical form and the underlying form are in synch. Not the same, but compatible. When things are our of Balance, corrupted, there is physical distortion, there is distortion of the patterns, and there is a bad mismatch between the surface and the essence.
It comes more easily to me now, this duality in the world around me, because I am learning to live with my own duality. I am, at heart, a druid. I am connected to the world as it is, and I pledged my future already to the Dream, where I will help keep the world going by Dreaming parts of my life away. But I have the soul of a priest, the carrier of light, the kind of priest who knows both shadow and light. I use light to help restore Balance, and shadow to support that. I weave patterns I once could not see, let alone create.
The heart of a druid, the soul of a priest, the memories of a woman who has erred badly, the task of the Dreamer, and the burden of the fool. I carry all of these, and yet their sum is less than I am.
I climbed on Ventus' back today for the first time, dressed in the cloth of the priest, and rode him across Teldrassil.
When I act the priest, I see with the eyes of the druid. When I don my leathers and sing the songs of nature, I am aware of the dancing light and shadow. Slowly, I learn how my patterns and my songs affect the totality of those I weave for and sing to. Slowly, I learn who I am.
Bound by my promise to Rhaina I must travel my own road. It is a solitary one, but not so much a lonely one, since the great sabers travel it with me again. When I can shift to cat to sleep with them, I do. When I cannot, they cuddle me and protect me as if I were a helpless kitten. And we ride like the wind.
On the wings of the wind, I hear the breathless fragments of a call. I chase it, and do what I can to restore Balance as I seek my own destiny.
Sometimes, just when I think I have finally found my equilibrium, I lose it again, and am rocked back on my heels. Last week, I went to confer with my mentors at the Temple of the Moon, expecting the usual refinement of my priestly powers, and some useful advice about living fully into myself. Instead, they shocked me with a demand that knocked the breath right out of my chest.
"Put down your focus on the light," they said, "and take up exploration of the shadow in earnest."
I do not have words to express how much this frightened me. Even though I was dressed in cloth and wielding the weapons of the priestess, I could feel myself instinctively start to shift to Cat so I could stealth and hide.
"But, I study the priestly arts to understand how Elune has gifted me with Her light," I protested feebly.
Implaccably, they declined to back down.
And I, well, I am left to try to understand this demand and to decide what to do. I summoned Revery to me, and buried my face in her soft fur while she nudged me and purred. I need to sleep on it, so I have donned my leathers, and come to Moonglade, where I am about to curl up in a feline pile with Revery and Conundrum, under the watchful eye of the Great Cat Spirit.
Perhaps Elune will speak to me in my dreams.
I slept the dreamless sleep of those who wish to dream but cannot. I arose in the morning and made my way back to the Temple, where I sat down with one of the women who seem sometimes to be mentors and sometimes tormentors.
"Why?" I asked her, unable to keep the childish edge of whine completely out of my voice.
All morning as I prepared for the day, I had been unable to get the memories out of my mind, of being filled with light that was given me by Elune herself. Or of times when, with Elune's blessing, I harvested light and used it to transform basic druidic castings into something completely different. And so doing, I defeated a demon, and enabled the presence in this world of the Great Cat Spirit.
There was great darkness there, and I stood in opposition to it, with my light-filled body and hands.
It shattered everything I knew about myself and my world -- I was using light as a tool to help the world achieve Balance. Somewhere in there, I learned that things are rarely simple, but nuanced in ways that make them opaque to the most eager observer.
So I came to the Temple of the Moon, hoping for some conversation and guidance, and they set me upon this pathway to embrace that which I had rejected when I saw it filling Pavel, and to become a priestess of the light. So why, why are they now asking me, telling me in fact, to put down the light and pick up the shadow?
My priestly studies have taught me that light does not exist alone, that it needs shadow as a ground. The patterns I weave when I am in my priestly form require both, generally in equal or near-equal measure. I weave them together and bring something into the world that was not there a moment before.
And I do this because I am blessed -- or cursed, perhaps -- with the memories of standing in a clearing of ancient power in the forest behind the old Defender's Halls, filled with unworldly light, and using it to drive back a demon from the possession of an elf's soul.
It is light I seek to understand. I do not carry similar memories of shadow dancing in my veins, and so I am left with the question I lay before the priestess. Why?
She did not answer me directly. Instead, she said, "You are familiar with the pattern to create a Holy Nova, I believe?"
I nodded warily.
"Weave it," she said firmly, "but do not use it."
So I reached for the ray of sunlight pouring down onto the statue in the middle of the Temple, and under a nearby bench for some cool shadow, and I carefully (and with some defiance) wove the pattern she requested. As I did this, I could see her doing the same thing, no more quickly or more confidently than I did it.
A split second passed, and then we sat on the ground before one another, each holding the same pattern.
"Look closely at them," she said to me in a voice that brooked no response other than acquiesence. I looked.
And I was stunned at what I saw. The patterns, superficially the same, were wildly different.
I remember once visiting a gallery in Stormwind where I saw a striking painting of a flock of dark birds flying up into a light sky. The painting pulsed with the power of the birds and the energy of their flight. As I stared at it, someone behind me coughed slightly and I looked away. When I looked back at the painting, I was shocked, for it now appeared to be a painting of a flock of white birds descending out of a darkening sky to find a place to roost for the night.
After I blinked a couple times, I could see what this unknown artist had done. She had subverted the ideas of figure and ground. You could look at the painting as that of a group of birds in the morning or as a different group of birds in the evening. Painstakiingly, she had made the figure of one view into the ground for the other, and the views had entirely different feels to them, each expressing a different trugh about the world and the way that the artist sees it.
That was the difference between my pattern and the other's pattern. In mine, shadow was the background to the foreground figure of the light. In hers, they danced in full harmony, neither being shoved into the background or pulled too far foreward. I could see before my eyes that her weaving, the weaving of a spell of the light no less, was in far better Balance than mine.
"You disregard the shadow too much, Sorcha," she said with a sigh. "Perhaps it is because you carry that thread of Elune's light within you at all times, or perhaps because you have simply not paid sufficient attention to the shadow part of your priestly craft. But you will fall to the Bruning Legion if you do not correct this bias in your work."
I stared at her silently, no longer the least bit petulant.
"Sorcha," she finally said, "I do not know what Elune plans for you, although it seems likely that your ultimate priestly destiny is to be one who primarily fights and heals with the light. But I would be remiss in my own duty to the Goddess and to the priesthood if I did not insist that you immerse yourself in the world of the shadow. I know it will be hard for you, but you were right when you told Pavel that light and shadow simply are. You must learn to understand both sides of the pattern before you can weave at your best."
I nodded, slowly, and began carefully to unweave the pattern I held in my hands. Without letting the light or shadow flee away, I began to weave again, and discovered that I could not achieve what she achieved. And I knew then that they were right.
So I sit here tonight in my small room on the Temple grounds, writing this entry in shadow form.