"Hail, King of Gilneas," the archdruid solemnly declared.
"Gilneas..." murmured the brawny, dour figure. Genn Greymane resembled a bear, albeit an aging one. No handsome man, he yet had a commanding presence and eyes still sharp and quick for a human of his more mature age. Unlike the night elf, Genn sported a much shorter, clipped beard. He stood taller than Eadrik, which brought him slightly nearer to the night elf in stature.
"Gilneas..." the king repeated. "In name only, Archdruid."
"For now!" Eadrik piped up.
"We shall see." Glancing at the other human, Genn added, "And why is the archdruid here? I asked you to see about an audience with him, not drag him to me--"
Malfurion interjected before the misunderstanding could grow out of proportion. "I told your man to take me to you, Genn. Your request coincided with my need to talk with you. Following Eadrik back saved valuable time."
"It's about the summit, Archdruid."
"Of course. Gilneas is one of the most prominent reasons I sought to bring it to fruition. Your people's admission to the Alliance is--"
"Re-admission, you mean," the king growled with much bitterness. "After I was foolish enough to think that Gilneas was best served taking matters into its own hands."
"Genn! The curse was something beyond your control! You could not have--"
"It doesn't matter!" the lord of Gilneas growled, for the moment sounding more like an animal than a man. He leaned into the archdruid, and although Malfurion was still taller, to the night elf it seemed that their gazes met evenly. Genn seemed bigger, wilder. "It doesn't matter! We are and will always be cursed!"
Malfurion fought to take command of the conversation again. "We wanted to speak to one another about the gathering. The first emissaries will be arriving tomorrow."
Genn deflated. "Yes. The summit. They'll all have their chance to judge me for my foolish mistakes."
"I have been in contact with several of them. They understand the necessities of the time. They understand that you regret all that happened. They also can appreciate what you and your people can offer."
"And do they understand it's a double-edged sword they're offered, Archdruid?"
The night elf extended a comforting hand to the human's shoulder. Genn accepted it without question. "You have gained far better control of it than you think. You offer nothing but advantage, Genn. At the very least, they will have to seriously consider that aspect."
"I have no answer there," Malfurion admitted. "But I have great hope." The archdruid leaned closer. "He is coming. That was what I especially wanted to tell you."
"Stormwind is coming?" blurted Eadrik. "My lord! That means--"
"Exactly nothing," the king of Gilneas responded at first. Still, his eyes shone with hope of his own. "No... perhaps it means much... if he and I can set aside our differences. I know that I'm more than willing."
"Varian Wrynn is a wise man," the archdruid pointed out. "Stormwind would not be what it is if he were not."
Genn finally could not help smiling at the news. "As you say. This lightens my heart! There is a chance, after all. If he's coming, he must be willing to let bygones be bygones...."
Malfurion pulled back. "I need to return to dealing with the summit. I merely wanted to assure you that there is every reason to believe that Gilneas will be accepted into the Alliance. I want your promise that you will attend as previously stated and be willing to show your humility as well as your strength."
"I'll be doing my part, don't you doubt it, Archdruid." Genn offered his hand, which Malfurion shook. "There's my promise again on all we agreed to. If there's any hope of seeing our home again, it's to get through this summit."
"And I promise again to see that everyone understands the import of this... even Stormwind."
Genn Greymane signaled to Eadrik, who slipped into the forest. The lord of Gilneas gave Malfurion one last grateful nod. "I know you'll do all you can. It wouldn't have gotten this far without you, Archdruid." Genn gritted his teeth. "But from here on, you know it all lies in one man's hands."
"He will come to see things as they must be for all our sakes."
"I believe that, but let us pray to your Elune just the same. I'll take all the help we can get...." With that, the king slipped into the forest.
The archdruid stood there, momentarily caught up in his thoughts. His gaze fixed on the area into which Genn and Eadrik had departed.
A large, dark shape momentarily arose among the underbrush, then disappeared among the trees again. It was tall enough to be a man... but was not.
The sight, though expected, still jarred the night elf slightly. As he turned, he again silently swore to do everything he could to help the refugees from Gilneas, including ensure that they were welcomed back into the Alliance by everyone.
After all, they might never even have been cursed if not for Malfurion.