“Ahhh, Redbrest, this is by far the most somber mood I have ever experienced in my life,” sighs Lady Cristina as she plays fetch with her pet wild ragewing, admittedly rather uninspired at best. “Perhaps it is homesickness or perhaps it is these Shadowlands. Everything is so alien here. The skies are too dark or too bright, the forests are all WRONG, the creatures are strange…”
“SQRAWWWWWWKKK”, exclaims Redbrest.
“Oh, of course, Redbrest, present company excluded,” Cristina apologizes. “I so miss the yellow sun, the green leaves, and oh, the seasons! But this sorrow goes beyond that. Yes, it is more than missing home. It is a loss of purpose. A sense of failure.”
Many years ago, Cristina swooned over the Windrunner family. Their honor, prestige, and renown amazed and enamored her. Many a day was spent practicing the bow, sharpening her arrow tips, making sure each and every shaft was true and smooth. When Cristina was not honing her archery skills, she was daydreaming on her bed of what it would be like to be a Windrunner sister- having chat about the court with Vereesa, or a discussion on strategies with Sylvanas, a parlay with Alleria about foreign lands and nobles. Oh, what a grand life it would have been indeed!
But that was not to be. At Cristina’s commendation ceremony, where she was promoted to a ranger proper, she became nervous and tongue-tied, stumbling over her response to Ranger General Sylvanas Windrunner. From that day forward, Cristina was embarrassed and ashamed to look any Windrunner in the eyes. It became her lifelong quest to atone for that one fateful day when her anxieties got the best of her.
Cristina’s purpose became even more blurry and clouded with the advent of the Invasion of the Scourge into Quel’Thalas and the loss of Sylvanas. The citizenry of Silvermoon was told their Ranger General had died at the hands of the Lich King, Arthas. Cristina wondered how would she ever redeem herself with only Vereesa remaining, who had left for Dalaran to lead a group known as the Silver Covenant.
Many years passed before Cristina heard rumors of Sylvanas walking among the living, as the leader of a society of undead known as the Forsaken. Perhaps this was an opportunity for redemption after all. For many years Cristina tried to track down the Banshee Queen in the hopes that Sylvanas would approve of her life as a Farstrider captain. Much to Cristina’s dismay, Sylvanas was always just out of reach, a few steps ahead of the latest rumors.
“You are wise to show restraint. But it changes nothing.” Those words were the first she had heard from Sylvanas Windrunner since her last commendation to captaincy. Those words pierced Cristina more deeply than any ebony shaft ever could. After years of endless searching, she had found her Ranger General, only to be strangled by the grip of death magic. The ranger captain’s heart was crushed beyond all words. This was not the Sylvanas she knew that tempered passion with wisdom and firmness with grace. Cristina’s grail had ended and the Ranger General she had so adamantly admired and adored was no more.
Cristina's somber reflection would have continued were it not for her keen ear detecting a rustle through the bushes just at the edge of the grove where she sat with Redbrest. Smoothy and as quiet as the breeze on a Spring morn, she drew her bow and deftly knocked a quick arrow, scanning the brush for any sign of a potential threat. “I don’t know your purpose here but step forward before the air is filled with the whistle of my arrows,” she cautioned.
“Ah Lady Cristina! I was on patrol when I spotted this stuffed rabbit skin in the bushes. I thought it might be yours,” the captain of the Wild Hunt spoke in a calm and assured tone. Korayn was always confident and assertive, and certainly neither frightened nor threatened easily.
“Oh yes, that is mine. My apologies, Captain. I was deep in thought and caught off guard momentarily. My apologies,” replied Cristina.
“I’ve been observing, and it was more than a moment, Lady Cristina. You seem very distant and troubled. Perhaps sharing your thoughts will bring some resolution?”
“I feel like my life is done – without purpose. My lifelong dream has been crushed and now I am aimless and numb. I no longer have direction.”
“I… think I understand,” the Vorkai thoughtfully responded. “Lady Cristina, many of the souls that were sent to Ardenweald did not arrive seeking a purpose, such as you though many had an unfulfilled quest in their mortal life. The souls that learned to let go of their past, accept their present, and embrace their future have flourished in the afterlife.” “And those that did not?” queried Cristina.
“They… do not fare so well,” replied Korayn with a strained tone. “Our pasts are very important. They help to shape and mold the person we have become. But should we keep them in a death grip and be unwilling to surrender, we will never be able to go forward and explore what future awaits us.”
“A beautiful platitude indeed, Captain,” said Cristina, “But how does that relate to me. I feel I have no future.”
Korayn pondered Cristina’s words intently. Then after a minute or so she replied, “Are you not protector of the weald? I seem to recall the Winter Queen herself commending you, yet still you adorn yourself in dark, foreboding garb and skulk about like a thief or assassin. Perhaps you should accept that honor and conduct yourself accordingly.”
Cristina was taken aback at first, startled by Korayn’s bold words, but after careful thought and consideration, Cristina knew she was right. Cristina had made quite a distinguished future for herself in Ardenweald and a noteworthy one at that. Maybe it was time to turn over a new leaf as it were and begin being a true protector of the weald.
“Very well, Korayn. I shall heed your advice and commence to look and act the part of the claim I’ve been awarded. I shall begin with seeking a new uniform, perhaps even a new styling in Oribos! And… thank you. Your counsel has been immeasurably helpful.”
“I am honored you confided in me, Lady Cristina and glad to be of help. You have a rare opportunity that many mortals do not. Cherish these moments and live them to their fullest and when it is your time, I hope you will be sent here, and we can once again defend Ardenweald together. Just, one more thing if I may inquire?”
“Proceed, hunt captain. What is it?” replied Cristina.
“Is your name Lady, Cristina, or Desouza?” said Korayn puzzlingly. “I have always felt rather uncomfortable using two or three of your names and honestly, I have always wondered why you need so many!”
“Hunt Captain Korayn, you may call me… friend.”