Shadowglen was a safe haven for night elves. It was located in a valley surrounded with high mountains. They were cowered with the enormous branches of the world tree and other trees. At the base of the mountains a small forest could be found and in the midst of all the rock and stone there was a cave. Mostly used to mine minerals and stones. But occasionally spiders could be found infesting the mines. I never understood how and why spiders grew so big. This awful nightmarish creatures of nature. With their eight legs and eight eyes and fangs as big as your hand. At least one good thing came from these hellish fiends. Their silk and venom. We used every bit of what was plundered after clearing the mines. We even made spider kabobs, sounds nasty, but their legs have quite a bit of meat on them and they were very crispy and spicy. So we ate well after the fight.
Apart from the forests and hills there was only one way in and out of Shadowglen. In the middle of this enclosure stood a huge oak tree named Aldrassil, which served as living quarters, study halls and deep underground storage. On the north side of the tree was a moonlight lake. It was throughout the year and the best place to take a swim during hot summer days. The winter was rare in this parts, so the lake never froze. Past the lake were some fields of herbal flowers and other minor minerals could be found among the ground. On the other side the gardens were pens for cattle and stabled mounts. Not many travellers came by so the stable wasn’t that big. The only caravan that was frequent was the supply one, which was sent from Darnassus every two months.
The area had a sort of purple-bluish shade and lit with millions of tiny glowing lights floating around. Apart from the wild life that moved among the village grassy areas, were busy wisps. Ancient spirits of nature that were inhabiting the forestlands of Kalimdor. Their origin is not really known, but they live in unity with night elves and serve to strengthen the demigod like trees known as the Ancients. You should see this Ancients, at first scary, but then you see them, they are quite funny. Bulky wooden giants with birds nesting in their crowns. Slow to move about, but powerful to trash a building just in a few swings. When they walked around the roads, everything around them shook. Just like mini earthquakes. Mostly only druids could communicate properly with the Ancients, because they had the biggest connection to the nature. But it was fun interpreting what they wanted to say to you or how puzzled they looked when you asked them something.
I spent the first 70 or so years of my youth in the village of Aldrassil. Oh don’t look at me like that, night elves have enormously long lifespan. Prior to the accident at the world tree in mount Hyjal we were actually immortal. At around 70 years of age you became a fully grown adult and were usually sent on your way into the world. Elders reach more than a couple of thousands years before they move on.
I spent the first year as an infant in the great nursery of the tall tree that housed many a rooms and corridors for those night elves that were not old enough to venture out on their own and for the keepers of this small village. Once I learned how to speak and walk on my own two feet without help, I had to attend the small school group and got my first set of daily chores. I would have thought being an infant would be more fun than the silly little jobs. I never liked doing chores. There was no reward in them, no skill to be learned, and no pleasure to be had. I wanted something more exciting, thrilling. Not scrubbing pans after dinner or sweeping endless underground corridors. That's not who I was. I was born to the Silverwing Sentinels. I wanted to join them as soon as possible, which meant I had to start my combat training with one of the local militia. But sadly, that wasn't so easy. Each time I applied for lessons I got turned down due to my age. Being only 13 in the night elf community didn't get you very far. You still had at least 10 years before you were even considered to join the program for young trainees. Until then you had to do the boring house chores and study. The studying part was interesting. Books were many to be found, teachers were very well informed and knowledgeable. Just the recreation part of the school years was remedial. Apart from running, aerobics and occasional hike, there was practically nothing. No shooting with bows or fighting with swords. Those who showed signs of arcane magic, connection to the holy Light or druidic interests were the lucky ones. They got picked up by mages, priests or druids to study at their halls in the big city of Darnassus. Lucky brats they were. Always thought they were better than the rest. But sooner or later they came to grasp that all skills are valuable and we all worked together for a better life. But it took some years of study, on their part, to see that. Oh how I wished to be one of them, to go see the rest of this tree, to venture beyond the arched gate. I secretly started to train in the woods to the west with all kinds of weapons in the middle of the night. It was dark, but I was used to it. Firstly, I tried my hands with a big two-handed wooden sword. It was heavy to lift and swing, and very slow so I got tired easily. Nah, that wasn’t my type. Next I tried a smaller one hander and a shield. But it was still too heavy and you could barely move. I even stumbled over the shield and broke my left wrist. That was one hell of a week. After that not only was I scolded by the matriarch, I was also forbidden to leave the tree for the next 2 months. A living nightmare for an 18-year-old. My chores doubled, studies were the same. I was sent to learn to work with leather that was brought in by hunters. All the smelly pelts and other parts of animal skins piled on top of each other. I’ve cleaned and coloured at least a few hundred kilos of this before the master leatherworker saw no potential in me and sent me to the tailors. Great, now I had to listen to the local fashionista. He was actually the first human I’ve met. Tall, slim, with a goatee, long golden hair and a passion for fashion. When it came to making a new dress or a design he was your guy. Although I sometimes wondered if he was still a man. At least the stories he told us about his numerous adventures, amidst the sheets that is, were interesting. That’s the only reason why you were allowed to join the tailoring studies if you were close to 20. Picked up some nice tips from that guy, not for tailoring mind you. But he kicked me out after a few years, since there was no progress in my skill. He had no time for those that didn’t see his vision of how a golden ribbon would look on a pink nightgown.
The morning after I had a meeting with the high matriarch about what I wanted to do with my life and how to include me into the working forces of the village, I woke up in the small room that I had on the top floors of the tree. It was a cosy little place with a comfy bed, a table with water basin, a small wardrobe, a chair and a desk. I looked through the window and yawned. I hope I get older soon, so I can leave this boring life, was my first thought. I undressed, refreshed with the cold water from the basin, dressed into my leather attire and walked up to the top of the spiral central staircase of the tree. I didn’t really pay any attention to the rushing alchemist that passed me. But there was this scent that hit me afterwards. Sweet and tangy taste, with a dash of Peacebloom in it. What was that? Oh I might have forgotten to mention; I was a masterful cook. That was currently the only profession I had, but was considered as a secondary, so they didn’t count it. I knocked on the enormous wooden doors and they opened. I stepped into the big room. At its centre was a big wooden table, neatly crafted with small ornaments on the legs and corners. Behind it stood a mighty chair made out of the roots of the great tree and the seat was layered with designer cushions. This must have been the work of the Pipyere the Fabulous. Our tailor called himself that. Behind the chair was the biggest source of light for the room, the big window with purple drapes. On either side of the room were shelves of books and scrolls, some drawers and other magical instruments. From the left side you could enter to another room, which was probably the bedchamber of the matriarch. There were rumours running around that she hosted a number of guests in there a few times a year. Wouldn’t blame her, she did look no more than a couple 100 years old, was never married and had no children of her own. But who would want them if you had to take care of 100 kids and teens all the time. I say, let her have all the fun she wants. I just feel sorry for the poor sods living under her bedroom.
“Dragoony, sit,” came a voice unexpectedly out of the corner of the room. It startled me, but I obeyed as instructed. I wasn’t that rebellious, but I had my ways. “What will I do with you?”
Nothing illegal I hope, I smiled to myself.
“Soon you’ll have to choose a profession in which to train yourself,” she said softly. I was just about to open my mouth to speak my mind, but she raised her hand and continued. “Don’t even start with the trainees, you still lack a few years for the right to join. In the meantime, though, you could pick up your primary profession or two. Have you given it any thought?”
“But matriarch, I have a profession. Cooking. Isn't that enough? I’ve already started reading about herbalism, since I need spices and herbs for it,” I replied, leaning back into the chair.
“That is not a profession and you know it. We’ve already had a long conversation about this. I do however approve of Herbalism and will note it in the books. You should go to the gardeners afterwards and get started with the chores and learning. I will send a letter to Arina,” as soon as she said that she picked up an empty scroll and her quill, and started writing the instructions on how to proceed. I hoped this meeting would be over soon, I was getting hungry because that smell from the alchemist really stirred my senses. At that moment I got the idea of a possible new profession I could pick up and fill my empty slot. “Matriarch, if I may. Perhaps I could try Alchemy?”
She positively bloomed when I said that. “Finally, after all the trials we’ve got you through, you chose something for yourself. Yes, yes, that could work very well for you. And with the herbalism and your passion for cooking, this could actually turn out remarkably good!”
She was scary at times like this. But I just smiled and waited for all the instructions to be piled on me. When she was done marking my log book and writing the letter, she sent me off. I closed the doors behind me and was on my way downstairs. And that was how my life as an alchemist slash herbalist began.