A howling wind shot through the dusky twilight, hitting the dark-skinned shaman full in the face with its icy knives. Despite the discomfort, the Draenei did not move a muscle towards the warmth of the indoors. Silently, still as the frozen planes around her, she kept her vigil until the last of the day's light had leaked from the skies. Still she stood with her gaze over the open oceans while one of Azeroth's moons rose over the choppy seas. Nothing else on the horizon seemed quite as huge, white, or indifferent as did the full moon that night.
"The fire is roaring, Ambassador. Come inside before the winds freeze you through."
The youth's voice was what finally pulled the shaman from her visions. "Thank you, Valann." Feeling the pins of ice in her skin for the first time, Saz wrapped the cloak that hung about her shoulders a bit tighter to her flesh. The cloak was made from the skin of a grey northern worg, but even the thick pelt seemed to do little against the chilly fingers of the north winds.
Stiff muscles turned her back to the view of the frigid seas, moved her off of the balcony, and into the room that she was temporarily calling her own. The shaman and her charge had made camp in an old inn, long abandoned. Once upon a time the little inn had been a safe haven for frozen travelers, an alehouse for the locals, a place to warm ones hands. Unfortunately the tiny Borean town in which the little inn rested its foundation had been tainted heavily by the plague years and years before. What scant crops that were able to grow there once could take root no more. Many a citizen had died in that town; most who still called the Borean Tundra home claimed that the area was haunted, unsuitable for the living.
Since the moment that they had set hoof on the continent, Saz had been seeking such a place. Young Valann had much to learn about the spirits as well as the elements; what better place to do so than somewhere where the elements were harsh and the spirits that needed their rest were even more unruly?
Gratefully the shaman seated herself before the little fire. Wind continued its high-pitched wailing, whistling its way through the many cracks found in the walls of the inn, attempting to caress the skins of the two travelers with its pin-spiked fingers. The winds attempts were all in vain though, for the pair both had heavy armor, heavier cloaks, thinning but still solid walls, and their cheery little fire to keep them safe.
"I like this place not." grumbled Valann. "The air always screams, always bites. There is no peace here."
Saz nodded gently. "You are right child, there is no peace here. That is why we have come, though it is not the air we seek to calm this time."
She knew that she had peaked Valann's interest, but she could also sense his fear. Surprisingly the youth kept his tongue and waited patiently for her to continue on. It has taken him weeks, but he learns.
"We haven't come to temper the air elementals, nor the waters that mate with the air to make the ice which threatens to stab us through with its fragile knives. We are here to communicate with the spirits."
"The..spirits?" The shaman had taken her charge by surprise. "We cannot speak to the spirits, it is but an old mother's tale."
"All tales have a truth to them. In part, you are correct. Rarely can we commune with the spirits who have found their way to the other realm. To cross into their world is to possibly give oneself to the spirit world, to essentially sink oneself into an early grave. There are very few shaman who are strong enough to cross into other planes not meant for us. However," Saz readjusted her cloak about her, fussing with a chunk of fur that seemed to be coming loose from the pelt. "if a spirit has yet to move on, if it has found itself stuck in our realm, communication is not nearly so difficult."
The flickering fire and the still moonlight was all that brought light into the little room; while she couldn't see his face clearly, Saz thought that Valann had suddenly paled by a few shades.
"Does the idea of speaking with the dead frighten you, Valann?"
"Take no fear from something that means you no harm. The rage of the spirits are never actually meant to be directed at you, nor are they caused by you, and you'd do well to remember that at all times. Their sorrow, their pain, it all happened so long ago. They are trapped, searching for the way our of their endless prison of misery."
"Can they not possess?"
"Some of the more willful spirits can at times, yes."
"Then how can I not fear them? How could I ever fight something that controls me?"
Valann's voice squeaked up a few pitches as he said this. Saz turned her face to the young Draenei beside her, and looked him in the eyes. "For one, we never seek to control the spirits, or ever the elements for that matter. For two, if you meet those who mean to do you harm with understanding, compassion, and endless patience, chances are pretty good that they will not do you so much harm to you after all."
"So I don't fight them? I just accept them?"
"Do not fight them, work to calm them. Understand their sorrow, try to help them find peace."
"So I just allow them to possess me if they will, and hope that they leave once they're happy again..."
"Allow them to tell you the story of their sorrow, let them rage until their rage is spent. They may possess you if the storm in their hearts compels them to, but even the strongest of storms must weaken eventually."
"Why not avoid them instead? Why look for them and their problems, prod at them? Leave the wretches be I say, leave them to their miseries. I want no part in their sorrows. It's their choice to stay here in this realm, we needn't interfere."
"Because dear child, a shaman's job is a complex one. We do not set out each day to ignite the bloodlust of man, to reek war and havoc on the world, to slaughter all those we deem to be in the wrong. We are the warriors who are at one with the elements, at one with the spirits; we are the calm that soothes the storm. We are meant to mend what we have destroyed; we are to mend what others have destroyed before us. We are healer, we are warrior. We are adviser and protector. Our spirits are ever entwined with the will of the elements, and with the elements the spirits of our ancestors. A shaman's life calling is not for the cowards. If you cower from those who are in need your aid, even if they scream against you, perhaps it is time we returned to the Eastern Kingdoms where it is warm and safe, and find you a new life calling."
Without looking at the young male, Saz could tell that Valann was sulking. Over the past several weeks she had come to know the Draenei's face all to well. His over sized lips would be pushed out in a pathetic pout, his eyebrows would be raised so that the skin above them would wrinkle against his skull plate, and his nose would begin to run slightly as he held back his tears. He's but a large boy, but there's no time to coddle him. It's high time to see if he's worth his tendrils or if I should return him to his father.
Moments passed. When the shaman spoke next her voice was as cold as the night air. "What will it be, Valann? Run back to your father and hide in the safety of Stormwind forever, or face your ghostly fears?"
Shame skittered across his face as he made up his mind. In a whisper he replied, "I shall stay."
"There will be no running."
"There will be no running..."
"Good. Tonight we begin our fast. Tomorrow night we will speak with the spirits."
Valann responded with nothing, simply nodding his alabaster head in acknowledgement.
"To bed with you then, we shall need more tinder come morning."
As they lay down in their makeshift beds, cloaks wrapped about them, she could hear the youth quietly chanting to himself:
Calm like the rains
Persistent as the winds
Patient as the earth
Vibrant as fire
Spirits, do me no harm.