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#8981347 Jan 19, 2014 at 06:00 PM
Anpao
Part 1 of 2 posts in which Chesequoia is introduced, and then persuaded by Anpao to join Kurshaw's campaign.

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The dawn broke, bright and gleaming over the Plaguelands, and Chesequoia was ready to greet it. Standing high on the hills above the cave she called home, the druid raised both hands toward the clear, cold sky and invoked the words of An'she, bathing herself in the warm light. Golden waves cascaded over her, glimmering on the stag bones that decorated her mask, but the druid shivered despite this. A pang of grief shook her, as it did every morning, when she acknowledged that she could not feel the sun on her fur. The heat melted the frost on the ground and lifted the chill from the air, but she felt nothing through her armour. The plagueshifter was clad horn-to-hoof in heavy leathers that blocked everything; the sun's light, the icy winds of the winter season, and the twisted plague mists that surrounded her. Though it was a necessary sacrifice to protect herself from the the dangers here, the sense of loss never relented. She steeled herself against the anguish and continued her prayers.

After her morning worship, Chesequoia wasted no time in returning to her duties. Taking to her winged form, she soared high above the orange mists and toward the ice-capped mushroom trees of the Plaguewood. Those in the Argent Crusade had called her mad when they'd stumbled across her there, many months ago. “You can't go in alone!” they'd shouted, “Light knows what could happen to you. You could be swarmed by the fiends and killed!” She'd ignored them, waving the guards away like gnats. Let them fear the scourge, she'd thought. Let them build towers and huddle in rooms thinking of ways to fight them. I will do what they cannot. The druid huffed, remembering this as she flew. The pink-skins believed themselves so capable with their false Light worship, but this was not their work. Only the Shu'halo understood the Earthmother and Her anguished cries in this place. Only the Shu'halo could save Her. The East would be purged of this plague, and Chesequoia Redmane would give her life to see it done.

***

I am the fury and rage of the Earthmother. I am Her swift vengeance upon the hordes of the Scourge. I have Her blessings, and with them I will cure this land of it's poisonous state. The druid stood over the rotting monster, it's arms outstretched and grasping for her through the thick, frost-hardened vines that bound it to the earth. Abomination, she thought to herself. You are a corruption, a plague. I will free Her from the pain you have caused. Her right hand opened over the vines and slowly she began to draw her fingers into a clench. The vines responded accordingly, pulling themselves tighter around their scourge victim while retreating back to the soil. The beast gurgled in rage as it's bones snapped, still clawing helplessly at the ground, and Chesequoia frowned at it. “Soon. Soon you will feel Her glorious embrace.” She curled her fingers further, and the vines restricted again, turning bones to dust and shearing the monsters head from it's shoulders. The beast's cries ended abruptly. With a grim nod, she released the vines and allowed them to return beneath the soil before she finished her work. It must be burned. They must all be burned. The druid raised her hands and called down the wondrous force of An'she once more, scorching the area where the scourge lay broken. Earthmother, bless this ground and those who protect it in your name. She turned her back on the smouldering pile of ash that remained.

The plagueshifter had been busy all day, never stopping to rest, ceaseless in her pursuit of those that brought harm to her Maker. In the eastern sky, Mu'sha was beginning to show herself, twinning her brother on the opposite horizon. Chesequoia loved this time of day more than any other. She could feel the power welling within her as both of the Earthmother's eyes kept watch over her and her work. A fearsome surge of devotion overtook her, drawing tears from her eyes and a swell of pride in her chest. Beneath her hooves, the ground writhed as grassroots took shape and sprouted up through the frozen earth. Flowers grew and blossomed alongside delicate tendrils that snaked their way up the leather of her robes. There is no other but the Earthmother. She is eternal and pure. I am born of Her will and She may take me when She sees fit. Lifting her face to the sky, she inhaled deeply through her mask, and believed for a moment that she had caught the faintest scent of the bloom that -

Someone is here.

A flash of light from the sky broke her concentration. The grass crumpled, succumbing to the plague around it. The flowers withered and died. Tendrils turned to dust and scattered on the winter winds. The joy she felt disappeared as quickly as it had come, replaced by tremendous rage. She had only seen it from the corner of her eye, but it had been enough. Uttering a low growl, Chesequoia started toward the hill line separating her from the intruder. Whoever had dared to come here and interrupt her was about to face the terrible wrath of the plagueshifter.

In Her name, you will be cleansed from this earth.
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