Storytime - Rekindling the light

I heard an uplifting story the other day and I wanted to retell it, and there is no other more satisfying medium than to embellish it using World of Warcraft characters. Thanks for reading!


Of all the places in the Broken Isles, Highmountain felt most like home to Navimie.

Every day she would fly over Thunder Totem, the totem poles and architecture reminding her of Mulgore. The Highmountain Tauren were like cousins to the Mulgore Tauren, and coming here and seeing other tauren did feel a bit like home, more so than the green boughs and nature spirits of the Dreamgrove, where her brother and sister druids spent their waking hours.

Though much of her time  in the mountains was spent fighting off Drogbar attacks, killing demons and attacking Worgen forces who had taken the Warden towers, there was also another reason why she visited Highmountain so often.

A year ago, Ethel Waterwise suffered a stroke. She had been minding Moozy and walking to a friend's hut when suddenly she could not see. She heard voices and walked towards them as best she could in her unsteady state, handed them Moozy and asked for help to find her daughter. Sella arrived shortly after and found her mother could only perceive light and vague shapes and begged someone to send for Navimie, who was a well respected healer and a friend of the Highmountain Tauren.

Navimie had come as quickly as she could, and after examining Ethel, who was getting more and more drowsy, realised that Ethel was in a serious state. Ethel was bleeding in the brain and Navimie spent the night using her healing abilities to help reduce the swelling, and using the powers of nature to help Ethel's own body processes to absorb the blood clot faster to take pressure of her brain. It was tiring work, but by dawn, the pressure in Ethel's brain had been relieved, and her frail body had repaired the burst blood vessels with Navimie's magical help. However, the damage to her brain could never be repaired, and Ethel was left with a permanent loss of half her vision. She could still see with both her eyes but could not see anything on her left side at all. Navimie explained to Sella that the part of Ethel's brain that had been damaged dealt with vision in the left side of the world, but she would be able to compensate by just turning her head to the left to see what was missing.

Ethel took some time to recover. She was weak after spending days in bed, and was shaky on her hooves, but Sella and Rordan kept persisting with encouraging her to walk, and eventually she had enough strength to walk independently. Navimie was concerned because Ethel seemed to be depressed. She had lost interest in tending her plants - one of her favourite pasttimes was learning the art of Bonsai which was an art from Pandaria. She still cared for her plants, watering them daily, but she no longer spent hours sculpting and shaping them like she used to.

"I just don't see the same art and beauty in them I used to see," said Ethel, when Navimie came to do a health check and help her with watering her pots and plants. "I used to be able to see the shape of the tree and create it, but now it just looks a bit flat to me."

Ethel had other friends with whom she used to do her bonsai, and they often visited and took her out for walks. Her spirits were high when she walked along the rivers surrounding Thunder Totem, though Navimie was concerned about basilisks lurking around the river's edges.

"Bah, I can look after myself, Archdruid!" said Ethel, waving her stick at Navimie in dismissal.  "Leave me be!"

Old man Rolnos, whose brother Nefu died when he refused to evacuate from Snowmane, was keen for Ethel to look after one of his prized plants. Ethel refused.

"I have so much work to do, too many plants," she said. "I haven't got time to look after yours as well."

Rolnos was crestfallen. Ethel frowned at him as he turned and shuffled away, but shrugged as she went back to trimming her plants. Though she said she had lost the ability to see the beauty and creation, she could still see where they were growing wild and needed to be trimmed back.

Navimie was visiting Ethel again, this time with the excuse that she was doing some fishing for salmon. She was cleaning the fish at Ethel's house and Ethel could see that she was glancing her way, and about to say something but would turn back to her task and leave whatever it was unsaid.

"Well, youngster, spit it out," said Ethel, as she put down her trimmers, her attention turned away from her bonsai. "You got something to say? Then say it. Before I die of old age."

"You're not going to die anytime soon, Ethel," said Navimie, as she lifted her hand to cast a soothing rejuvenation.

"Don't you use your healing magics on me, Archdruid," snapped Ethel, waving her hand at Navimie in a shooing motion. "I don't need your magic to make me live longer. I'll bide my time and look after myself, thank you very much." She glared at Navimie as she saw a shimmering ghostly leaf swirl behind her shoulder out of the corner of her eye, and the telltale warmness inside her belly that indicated a healing spell had been cast.

Navimie shrugged helplessly, grinning unapologetically. "It's second nature, Ethel, I can't help it! But ok, ok, I respect your wishes. No more healing." She put her hands behind her back, looking rather sheepish. "What I did want to say was that I heard about Rolnos asking you to look after his bonsai. He was upset that you refused."

"I'm an old cow, Navimie," said Ethel, snappishly. "I don't have as much time or energy as I did when I was younger to look after everyone's plants as well as my own. It's not like raising a calf."

"Rolnos loves his plants like his own children, Ethel," said Navimie, in a low voice. "Asking you to care for his plant is like asking you to take care of one of his children. He wouldn't trust just anyone with that plant. There was a pandaren shaman who wanted to buy that bonsai from him for 20000 gold, but he wouldn't part with it, because he was afraid it wouldn't be looked after and he would hate it if the plant died without proper care. That's why he asked you, he trusts YOU."

Ethel paused mid cut as she thought about Navimie's words. Navimie could see the old woman was considering the idea, but needed an extra nudge to take on the task.

"He is dying, Ethel. Even I cannot heal him from old age. The body can only regenerate so much. He has no family left, his brother was his last living relative. His wife was killed by Drogbar raiding parties years ago and he never remarried. His brother's children, his nephews...."

"... were lost in the waterfall fishing accident 30 years ago, yes, I remember," said Ethel, her voice wistful with sad memories. "I hadn't really thought about it in that way. Poor Rolnos. I will speak to him."

Navimie smiled, her eyes crinkling at the corners. "I think he would like that, Ethel."

Rolnos was so happy that Ethel was going to look after his bonsai. "It means so much to me, Ethel, yes it does," he said, his eyes shining with unshed tears. He coughed spasmodically, and sat down, panting.

"Don't cry on me, old bull," said Ethel, as she took the plant carefully from him. "But I'll look after it for you until you're feeling better." It was quite a good plant, she thought, but it could be better with a bit of work. Shape this branch here and trim more from the edges, I could make it a work of art.

Rolnos' health continued to decline and he rarely left his home anymore, and Navimie's visits to Ethel decreased as her visits to Rolnos increased. There was not much she could do except keep him comfortable, as he was adamant he did not want his life extended. He had lived a good long life, though filled with much sadness, and there was little for him to live for now.

Spring Festival came to Highmountain, and a plant display on the upper rim was part of the festivities. Ethel wanted to put Rolnos' bonsai on display, as she had been working on it for the better part of a two months. She was very pleased with the new form, and as part of the festival, there was a people's choice award for best in show. How exciting it was when Rolnos' plant won the People's Choice award!

A commemorative plaque was made for the winner, and Ethel made her way resolutely towards the young tauren who was carving the plates.

"I want you to put Rolnos' name as winner of this award," she said. "It's his plant, I looked after it for him when he was unwell."

The young tauren frowned. "I'm not sure that's allow..."

Ethel waved her stick menacingly in his direction. "You listen to me, young calf. Of course it's allowed. How can he carry this bonsai in when he can hardly leave his home? He deserves this award! Why, when I was your age, I showed some respect for elders and their wishes, not argued with them day and night like a goblin haggling over the price of a cogwheel!"

"Yes, yes, Madame. I will make sure of it," said the tauren, eager to end the awkward conversation.  Pleased with herself, Ethel walked back to look at the crowds of people admiring the plant, her heart warm with satisfaction.

Rolnos was presented with the plaque, and he was so thrilled, he asked to have it hung on the entrance wall of his home. Navimie was helping him hang it, and she smiled quietly to herself as she listened to Rolnos say how happy he was that his beloved bonsai had won the people's choice award.

"How I wish I could have seen it," he sighed, wistfully. "I'm sure Ethel would have made it beautiful." He coughed weakly, but his eyes were glowing with pride, as he looked at the plaque.

"It was already beautiful, just a different touch was added to it," said Navimie, frowning as she lay a hand over his chest, feeling his breath. She could feel the strength in him waning - it wasn't long now. But he was so happy, his life forces within were shining brightly, brighter than they had been for many months.


When you reached a certain age, funerals became an ever increasing occurence. Rolnos was farewelled in the traditional tauren way, embalmed on a bier raised on totem poles, a single tapestry hanging from the front - his wedding tapestry.

"Great Earth Mother," boomed the deep voice of Jale Rivermane, Chieftain of Rivermane clan, "Into your arms we give one of our own. He is Rolnos Oakmane, whose love of the earth taught many..."

Jale's voice faded away as Ethel was lost in her own thoughts. How in her stubborness she did not see that what Rolnos wanted was to give her a gift, not a burden. And how she nearly refused the opportunity to give him one of his last moments of happiness.

"It is a high honour, Ethel, that his last thoughts were of gratitude to you," said Navimie quietly, interrupting the old lady's thoughts.

"He shouldn't be thanking me," replied Ethel."I should be thanking him. He helped me rekindle my love for all things green and growing, something I thought I had lost since my illness."

In Ethel's gnarled fingers she held a branch trimmed from Rolnos' bonsai, and as Chieftain Jale's words came to an end, she placed it alongside the People's Choice Award Plaque.

"Your tree will outlive the both of us, Rolnos," she whispered, as she walked away. "I'll make sure of it."


Thanks to Kamalia, whose post on Tauren funeral rites I used as reference (again).


  1. That is a lovely story, Navi. I think this is going to be part of my headcanon for Highmountain now.
    I'm glad that I could help you with the retelling of it, too :)

    1. Thanks Kam! That funeral post of yours is excellent - I remember referring it to it for some other story some years ago.


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