I have a scavenger hunt laid out for you.
One clue will lead you to a location where you will find another,
which will lead you elsewhere and so on. I hope you enjoy it.
If you complete the hunt there is a special prize at the end.
So… let us begin, shall we?
Locate the place where a stitch in time first sealed your lips to mine.
How like the hunter to arrange such a hunt. Astoreth smiled to herself. She remembered the moment well.
Westel’s face, usually so smug and impassive, was torn with frustration and unfamiliar emotion, and his tension was apparent in the muscles of his hand as he ran it through his recently-shorn locks. His desperation shone in his eyes as he looked to her for answers to questions to which he couldn’t even put words. It was utterly endearing. She had moved before she could think, and as he blinked in surprise she briefly wondered if he knew that she was nearly as startled by her action as he. But then his arms moved around her, and her capacity for thinking slowed quite a bit.
The location of their first kiss was utterly mundane – a nondescript spot along a typically busy thoroughfare in Orgrimmar, likely meaningless to anyone but the two of them. She briefly wondered how she was going to receive her next message… but when she arrived, she found a familiar wolf waiting for her, fluffy tail wagging with excitement. Ithruiel gave a yip as Astoreth arrived, and reared up on his hind legs, showing off a scroll tied around his neck. Astoreth grinned and rubbed his fur as she untied the scroll and began to read.
When I brought you here you said, “So green”;
Here where I gave you a part of myself,
and we forged a bond that can’t be seen.
She grinned to herself and scratched Ithruiel behind the ears before mounting Scathach and taking off again.
They had been stealing moments together where they could for months. Every one of those moments was delight and dismay, as they grew closer and closer – falling deeper in love, but unwilling to violate the promises to which Astoreth was still bound. On this particular night they had held hands as Westel told Astoreth something of his bonds to nature, and of how he’d discovered his ‘wolf name’ – his True Name, by Astoreth’s understanding – and in an unexpected gesture, he offered to share it with her. Knowing something of onomatology, she understood that this was no small token – and to some extent, she was astonished that he offered it to a warlock. Still, she was unprepared for what the sharing of this name actually meant – moments after he whispered it into her ear, an indescribable sense of him washed over her, and she was overwhelmed with his presence and the sudden understanding of a mental and emotional bond more intimate than any she’d previously known.
It took her a while to find the right place. “Damn that man – everywhere in Feralas is green!” she muttered to herself at one point. But she knew it when she saw it, as she knew she would. She had scarcely dismounted when she heard a screech from above, and a familiar-looking hawk owl swept down and dropped a scroll at her feet before soaring away again.
Astoreth fairly clapped as she picked up the scrap, her earlier frustration forgotten.
Will you go on a real date with me once my nose heals?
She chuckled to herself. “Hmm… is this where we had the conversation, or where we had the date? At least they’re close together…”
They’d arranged to meet earlier in the evening – he had promised to cook her dinner – but had both been delayed. By the time Astoreth met up with him, he was alone and nursing a broken nose . He was both embarrassed by his state and too proud to show weakness by admitting it… and yet, he couldn’t quite hide his curiosity when Astoreth did not flinch from his bloodied face. She offered to find him a healer; he refused, claiming he only sought magical healing in dire situations, and anyway it wasn’t like this was the first time he’d had his nose broken. She scoffed at his stubbornness, even as it charmed her… and for once, even as he dismissed her help he showed a strange sort of appreciation for her concern.
When she arrived at the flat rock by the lake next to Bloodhoof Village, there were no animals to greet her; only a picnic basket with a note tied to it.
Find the place where our talks are shrouded in mists, from nightfall to dawn.
Inside the basket was a single chocolate cupcake, with white frosting and a heart drawn in pink, and Astoreth happily helped herself to it while she pondered.
It had become their favorite place to meet. The rush of the waterfall masked any sounds from beyond and gave them security that they would not be heard, even as the mists that rolled around the rocky ledges shielded them from prying eyes. Once they had been spied upon by tonks in the remote location, and Kreelum chased them into the roiling waters. And one night long ago, a man more at home in the wilderness than in his own home convinced a girl born to the city to spend a night secluded with him out there, for her own protection; lulled to sleep by the rustling of leaves and the soothing sounds of the Southfury, he held her protectively and kept her safe until dawn. And when he departed he left a note pinned to her skirts: Lady Darksworne, please do not take this the wrong way: you look beautiful when you sleep.
Astoreth had to laugh when she arrived at their spot in Azshara and found Ithruiel again waiting for her, tail wagging. “He’s kept you busy tonight, hasn’t he, boy?” she asked the wolf, giving him a good scratch behind the ears before kneeling down to remove the newest scroll tied to his neck.
Last but not least, seek the spot your love saved me
from a cold, eternal winter.
She furrowed her brow. “A cold, eternal winter,” she mused. “A cold, eternal…” She blinked, and slowly smiled. “Winter.”
The months’ long question of will-they-or-won’t-they was answered in a crash with the paladin’s return to the land of the living. On this day they spent hours talking, lamenting only in roundabout ways a romance that had ended before it had truly begun – for suddenly she was married again… and despite Astoreth’s explanations of her own philosophies and the polyamorous nature of her relationship with her husband, in the end Westel told her in gentle but no less uncertain terms: he simply could not be involved with a married woman. As the sun sank in the west, Westel was compelled to depart, and so Astoreth walked with him out to his waiting windrider… but before she let him leave, she asked leave to say one more thing to him. And he leaned down to let her whisper to him, to let her tell him how very much she admired him for his commitment to his principles despite the cost… and to hear her say the words she had not yet dared. “I love you, Westel,” she whispered to him that day, for the first and what she thought then would be the last time. “Exactly for who you are.”
Astoreth touched down on the path outside a secluded cabin in Winterspring expecting to see the scruffy, rugged Ranger waiting for her… but instead, sitting on the railing around the cabin porch was a slender red-haired elf girl, who wiggled her bare toes in the snow and grinned at Astoreth mischeviously.
“…Kuvasei?” Astoreth blinked. “What are you doing here?”
Kuvie pushed off the railing and walked forward. “I’ve been waiting for you! Why else?”
“He got you in on this!” Astoreth chuckled and offered her daughter a hug. “But – why are you here waiting for me? He said this was the last clue.”
Kuvasei returned the hug warmly. “Because I have something I think you should read,” she answered, and held out a small brown envelope.
Astoreth peered at Kuvasei in puzzlement as she took it, opened it, and read the letter inside. Her quizzical expression quickly gave way to one of warm amusement… and then to something else, something deeper. She smiled softly, scanning down the paper; at one point her breath caught and it seemed tears might form in her eyes, but the next moment she chuckled softly and continued on… until she came to the end. She blinked, her face paled slightly and her mouth fell open, and she looked up to Kuvasei questioningly.
Kuvasei snickered. “Hey, I’m not the one who’s asking!” she said softly before stepping back into the shadows.
Westel stepped around the corner of the cabin then, his hands behind his back and a shy smile on his face as he approached Astoreth. “The letter is a bit… outdated,” he explained with a grin.
“Westel!” was all Astoreth could say.
He slipped his hand into his pocket and withdrew a small box. With a nervous chuckle, he dropped to one knee and flicked the lid of the box open, displaying one hell of a ring. He looked up at her as she stared down at him, wide-eyed.
“Astoreth,” he started softly. “”I love you more than… I can even put into words, Astoreth. Truly I do. And there’s nothing more that I want than to live the rest of my life with you at my side, and to be able to call you my wife.” He took a deep breath.