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"Can I at least get dressed?" she asked, noticing the man's smirk. Obviously, this was not as urgent as she had previously been led to believe.
She quickly donned her leather kilt and bra before returning to Othros, her eyes following where he was pointing with his finger. Then, she noticed it. A large white hare, plump and alluring.
Shalendris had no qualms about ending another living being's life. She knew such actions were part of the natural cycle of things, yet she took no joy in the act. Oblivious to the two Kaldorei observing it, the critter kept on munching on whatever small feast he had found at the base of the tree.
Though it was most likely morning at this point, the massive trees that made up the forests of Kalimdor managed to block enough sunlight that it was rarely ever sunny in the Kaldorei woodlands. The Night Elves' graceful forms allowed them to move about as stealthily as any of the great Nightsaber cats could through those vast, near unending forests.
Shalendris notched an arrow to the plain short bow, drawing the bowstring back as she raised the weapon towards the animal. The training Othros had given her would be of use here, and she knew he enjoyed seeing her in action. While she had received basic training in the use of a bow and arrow as a child, her interest was rather limited.
Now, however, she understood how such training could come in handy. And she enjoyed training with the man far more than she did with her rigid and demanding father.
Once she was sure of her aim, she let the arrow fly, letting it whistle between the trees towards its intended target.
"Mmmmfff... M'fo good!" managed Shalendris between a few mouthfuls of cooked hare, her teeth tearing off large chunks of the meat Othros had prepared.
"Please, chew with your mouth closed, dear." Eshana seemed slightly annoyed at her daughter's behaviour, cutting into the warm meal with knife and fork.
One of the two had far better integrated into Highborne society, Othros inwardly remarked, the ghost of a grin on his lips. When Shalendris' family had moved in, she and her parents seemed completely out of their element in his ancestral home. Now, at least her parents had acclimated well to this new environment. They had already traveled to Zin-Azshari before, but mostly to sell and buy goods at the market. Never had they dreamed their family would reside there one day.
Shalendris and her mother wore the usual silken garments favoured by the Highborne, clothing so light one could easily forget they were wearing anything were it not for the gentle clinging of the abundant jewelry and metallic decorations that came with these outfits.
The younger of the two women fidgeted a little with her outfit as she ate, a little annoyed at how some of the metallic parts of the outfit dug into her flesh and how it left her feeling quite exposed. But she endured these outfits, for she knew that for her parents' business, she had to look the part. She had to integrate into Highborne society as best she could, to be worthy of the home Othros had offered her and her family.
It was not the most prestigious home in the city and after an unknown disease had taken his own parents, Othros was glad that he had someone to share it with. He regarded Shalendris' parents, Eshana and Denarian, as he would any member of his own family and held a great affection for them.
Now, the place had truly been remodeled to accommodate the family's flower shop. In the past, it had been rather plain, though it held the usual graceful elven architecture as most other homes in the area, with columns of white stone and walls decorated with various carvings. While other people, other races, would probably find the design of the structure quite advanced and appealing, it remained rather plain to one who was used to seeing such things.
The house's windows were now decorated with all manner of colourful flowers: mageroyal, starlight roses, dreamfoil and the like. Its outer walls were covered in an assortment of vines, orange, purple and green. Behind the house, a large garden had been put in place for the family to grow and tend to the various flowers and plants they sold year-round. Even during the winter, the enchantments of the city kept the cold at bay, allowing for their business to continue despite the harsher weather outside the limits of the elven city.
Eshana and Shalendris looked very much alike, though the former was probably a hundred years older than her daughter. Both had beautiful faces with a slight pout to their lips and large silver eyes that radiated a love and wonderment for the world around them. However, Eshana eclipsed Shalendris when one compared their bodies.
Most Night Elves, men and women, had athletic, graceful forms. This was undeniably true of Shalendris and her family, and while Shalendris had extremely impressive curves, her mother beat her almost twice over in that department. Eshana had a chest unlike any Othros has witnessed on an Elf before, nearly twice the size of her own head, made even more tantalizing as they rested on the table while she ate. If she did not do this, Othros knew, they would push painfully into the marble table. Would Shalendris eventually develop like her mother did? Would she surpass her mother?
His thoughts were interrupted when a knock came upon the door and the shop's bell rang a moment later, signaling that someone had entered the shop part of the building. Shalendris started getting up, a small piece of meat on her chin. He smiled at that small reminder of her appreciation for his food.
"I'll go." Gesturing with his hand for her to remain seated, he got up to greet the guest. Though he enjoyed his military career, he just as much enjoyed helping with the family's business.
Being unable to see who had just entered the shop did not stop her from understanding that this was no customer. The tone of their voice made them out to be either a guard or soldier... This person had come to see her beloved Othros.
"Captain Othros, you are needed at the Palace." She recognized the voice as Talliar's, one of the soldiers who had served under Othros to repel the Troll raid in Shalendris' village nearly a decade before.
"My assignment was set to start next week... I thought..." His words were laced with equal parts surprise and disappointment. He knew there was no way for him to refuse such an order.
"New developments have required Varo'then to recall all current and future members of the Queen's Guard back to the palace. You shall be serving under him. Elune watch over you, Othros."
The look on Othros' face crushed Shalendris' heart as he walked back to the table.
"I suppose the two of you heard..." he said, taking his place at the table.
Eshana placed a hand on Othros' gently. "It is a great honor to serve Queen Azshara. You will do fine." Her reassuring smile achieved its goal, and his expression softened.
Shalendris stood up and walked over to him, giving him a gentle hug from behind, placing her hands on his chest as she leaned forward to give him a kiss on the cheek. "The Palace is less than an hour from here on foot... It's not like this is permanent, either."
And with those words, he felt any concern, and uncertainty he might have had leave him. Serving Azshara was an honor, and, by all accounts, it was a far easier job than patrolling the empire's borders. The only downside was that he had to spend his nights and days within the confines of the Eternal Palace... On the bright side, he had heard most of the Queen's Guards had frequent breaks and vacations during which they could visit their loved ones.
He could do this, he knew. It was not as bad as it had seemed when the news had first hit him. It was a sudden shift in his plans, for sure, but not a wholly unexpected one.
The next day, he walked towards the enormous white gates of Azshara's Palace wearing the white-and-gold armor of the Queen's Guard.
As the gates of the Eternal Palace were opened and Shalendris saw Othros walk inside, a deep feeling of unease swept over her. Something was amiss, something deeply troubling hanging in the air.
Little did she know, the coming months would be the hardest she would ever face.