Folvelor

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Prologue "The Fall of Faith" penned by Lailinarel / Joringil / Vaelith

He was not the one to strike the blow that felled Deathwing, but he was close enough to see it when it happened. It was not that Vaelith had grown soft. No, he was not called 'The Steelheart' for nothing. He had witnessed the fall of Stromgarde, on the wrong side of the battle. He had seen his homeland of Alterac pillaged by for betraying the Alliance to the Orcish invaders. He drank himself through the plaguing and subsequent culling of Stratholme. Lost two Lord Commanders countless friends and his own mentor Jasonis Ultin to more battles than he could truly recollect. He had lost his wife and the love of his life to the plague soon after.

But this was something different.

Something changed in that moment. Something he could not place. Perhaps it was the fall of something so ancient and powerful. Something irreplaceable. Perhaps it was the proverbial changing of the guard as the Dragon Aspects gave up their power to help defeat Deathwing. He wasn't sure why, but in that moment everything just seemed wrong.

He had been healing the wounded at the time, but as he watched the mighty dragon crash into the sea and victorious raised a ferocious cry... he felt cold. He felt suddenly horrendously alone.

Without word or warning Vaelith removed his cloak and let it fall to the ground. Letting out a shrill whistle he summoned Joringil's prized Protodrake and immediately took off towards Northrend, losing himself in thoughts of doubt and remorse...

-----

Lord Commander Vaelith Steelheart.

What number is this now? The third?

No, that's not right, not three.

Whatever.

Sylennis Windstar, head of intelligence for the guild Sword of the Morning, rolled her eyes slightly and sighed to herself. Ever since Jori's accident, the Sword couldn't seem to hold on to a Lord Commander for more than a few months. Now, the latest one had gone missing and she had apparently drawn the short straw... not that she ever drew any other.

"I really oughtta resign this intel gig. Nothin' but trouble." The rogue muttered the words under her breath to no one in particular as she flew over the plains of the southern barrens on her way to Northwatch.

"What was that?" The rumbling of the drake's voice from beneath her was something of a surprise. She had assumed he was daydreaming again, like he always did during long flights.

"I wasn't talkin' to you, Arast, go back to sleep."

"In flight?"

"You know what I meant."

The netherdrake's wings beat heavily a couple of times and he surged forward with a bit more speed. His reply.

Syl rubbed her left arm, feeling that old phantom pain that seemed to turn up whenever she was troubled.

He shouldn't have been away this long. Fel, research isn't even dangerous work. Well... unless you're Giggy. ...or a goblin.

She was disturbed from her thoughts by the faint scent of smoke and her head swiveled toward the source. Fire! A big one too, in the hills to the sourthwest. Looked like... The rogue strained her eyes. ...small farm maybe; or a house.

She reached out and thumped Arast on the neck. "You see that?"

"You mean you're actually concerned?" The dragon's low rumble could have been a chuckle.

"Let's say intrigued."

"Right."

"Just take us down there, numbnuts."

Arast banked hard toward the smoke and picked up speed. Syl shook her head, wondering why she was even bothering. This was, at best, a distraction, and at worst, a quagmire. All her instincts screamed at her to ignore the fire and continue on to meet her contact.

She did not call to the netherdrake to cease his advance.

I must be gettin' soft.

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Sylennis leapt from Arast's back as he swept low over the small lakeside stead. She landed nimbly on her feet, glancing upward briefly to see him disappear back into the night sky before turning to survey the scene before her.

A small, simple tauren-style canvas hut sat next to a modest field of crops and a small lake. It was also on fire. Flames licked at the sides of the hut and were already spreading to the crops and solitary tree nearby. If this fire was started intentionally, she saw no sign of the responsible party, however this wasn't really the kind of place for a wildfire to spring up.

The rogue rubbed her chin and was about to turn and whistle for Arast when her keen ears picked up the faint sound of crying from inside the hut. She dashed toward the entrance just in time to see a small tauren child sitting next to an adolescent who was doing... something. As she got closer she realized he was tugging at a third form, which seemed to be trapped under a fallen support. The rogue opened her mouth to speak...

...and her vision turned white as something hit her, hard, at the base of her skull, causing her to stagger forward.

Syl's animal combat instincts kicked in and she whirled on her opponent. Her eyes darted quickly over the shape behind her, but her vision was cloudy from the head blow. Nevertheless, her brain started to take stock of important facts.

Large. Well-built. Heavy implement in hands means probably fights with brute strength. Speed an advantage.

She ducked low, drawing her daggers in a fluid motion as she sliced out for an ankle shot, but her clouded vision and ringing ears worked against her and she swung wide. Before her attacker could react, she dropped and rolled onto her back with a smooth motion, quickly pushing her self back up with her wrist. A hand grabbed her throat.

Damn, quicker than I thought.

The hand lifted her off the ground while squeezing the vulnerable flesh of her neck. The edges of her vision started to turn red as the blood and air ceased its flow to her head.

Shit.

Must be gettin' slow too.

Her attacker slammed her forcefully backward into the burning tree. She heard a loud splintering crack before her skull connected with the tough wood and everything went black.

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Serian was already waiting outside of the guildhall when Lirese landed with Sylennis. her eyes still twinkled with suppressed laughter from the sheer amusement of listening to the night elf speak. Clearly she was raised outside of her people like a couple of others she knew. As she dismounted and waited by her drake, Serian approached, questions in her eyes.

Lirese shrugged slightly as she said, "I'm not entirely sure what happened exactly, only that she apparently tried to help some tauren and got caught by someone. I found her unconscious at the site of a burning farm."

Serian nodded, though her eyes kept straying to the injured one. She wasn't impatient exactly, but becoming anxious to tend to the wounds. "Anything else of note?" the shaman asked.

The paladin tensed slightly, her head tilting enough to meet Serian's gaze. "I have an errand to return to, following an idea for our leader's situation." her tone was a little uncertain, but it was better than nothing.

"Give my regards…and I'm sure the Little Mage would also wish to send the same. I know they were passing missives about their projects recently."

Lirese nodded, "I'm sure I will return with the same message for Zekekra." she turned to go and added over her shoulder, "I will return to Stormwind as soon as this errand is done. Shouldn't take too long."

"Safe journeys." was Serian's only reply before she turned to her patient, a hand beginning to glow a faint green.

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"How come every time you get an idea, I'm the one who ends up with a lump on the head?"

Commander Folvelor Tastion glanced up from the document he was preparing with one eye at the sound of the rogue's voice, quill pen momentarily frozen in his hand. Sylennis Windstar was in the doorway, leaning against the frame with her arms crossed. He returned both eyes to his work and resumed writing.

"From what Lirese told me, that little matter was entirely your own fault." He spoke in a low voice. "That little side-stop wasn't a part of your mission."

"Yeah, well... still."

"Did you have anything to report or not?" The death knight continued writing on the parchment in front of him.

"It seems Vaelith was last spotted in northrend. I had a contact I was going to meet with who had a line on what he was doing there, but that little incident at the farm caused me to miss my window." The rogue frowned, and looked up at the corner of the ceiling for a moment. "Gonna have to check back with him. I've got another meeting set with him tonight; hopefully no surprises this time."

"Lord Commander Steelheart is usually very responsible about keeping us updated." Folvelor put a special emphasis on the title, hoping against logic that the rogue might actually take the nudge and show at least a modicum of respect for anything. "I wonder why we didn't get any notification."

"Well, that's kinda what you tasked me to find out, ain't it?"

"Yes, and a spectacular job you've done so far."

"Look here, death knight. You ain't running this show." The rogue had stepped up to his desk and was now leaning heavily over it, both palms planted firmly downward on its surface to support her weight.

"I'm quite aware of that, but at the moment, neither is the Lord Commander." Folvelor raised his eye to look at the rogue again. "So in the mean time, we will make due as best we can."

Windstar rolled her eyes.

"Now." The death knight continued his speech, not giving the elf the satisfaction of a response to her lack of decorum. "As much as I appreciate your diligence, I need you to hold off on that rendezvous with your contact tonight."

The rogue just stared at him.

"We have another meeting scheduled for this evening, and it's looking like I won't be able to make it. I actually have an appointment with a member of the Kirin Tor on some unrelated matters, and with the news you've brought me, it looks like I may be able to take advantage of their knowledge and possibly get some information about what the Lord Commander might have been doing in Northrend." The death knight finished what he was writing and looked up at the rogue with both eyes, simultaneously holding out the document for her to take.

"These are the points I was planning to bring up tonight, and I was hoping you could sit in my stead and relay both these, and the information you've discovered so far."

"You've gotta be kiddin' me." Windstar's disgusted expression was impossible to miss. "Boss, I ain't a people person."

"Nevertheless, the rest of the guild needs to know your findings, and since I cannot be there, the task falls to you."

"I'm not puttin' on nice clothes."

"I did not ask you to."

"Just sayin', this kinda work ain't what the guild took me on for."

"It wouldn't hurt you to learn a new skill."

"I'm not so sure of that." The rogue stared at the death knight for a long moment before wordlessly snatching the paper from his hand and stalking out of the office.

Folvelor actually smiled at that.

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Arriving back from her errand she found Serian already at the meeting spot, mixing a few potions together. Quietly she watched the shaman take a few pinches of this and that from various small vials and pouches and swirl them around in a larger one. It seemed to glow slightly to her eyes before settling into a blue-tinted liquid. Once the larger vial was set atop the table and corked Serian looked up. A gentle smile graced her lips, greeting the younger paladin.

"How did the meeting fare?"

"As well as expected." Lirese sighed softly as she walked deeper into the room, taking the chair next to Serian.

A curious tilt of the head and another question dropped out. "Any news?"

The half human shook her head, "Serelas has heard nothing of any Alliance being held anywhere…or deaths of any military officers of the Alliance."

"Hmm…Maybe we will have more information come to us in this meeting. Hopefully something turns up on the Lord Commander's whereabouts."

All Lirese could do was nod silently as she removed her sword to hang on the back of the chair and settle down to wait for others to arrive.

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After the meeting Lirese made her way out of the building, adjusting her sword on her back while making a mental note of things she would need…and making another list of -extra- things she would probably need if Sylennis was as troublesome as Folvelor said. A soft sigh escaped her.

"This will be like traveling with the Chaldis twins again….but worse." she said to no one in particular with a rueful look on her face.

"That is because they don't have the years of experience as Sylennis does." a quiet voice behind the paladin startled her into gripping her sword and spinning around.

A smirk graced Serian's lips as she watched Lirese's reactions, amusement in her expression. The shaman carried her alchemy supplies in her arms and at her waist but held a small pouch in one hand that seemed slightly out of place. It seemed to hold various shaped things inside.

"Lady Serian."

The pouch was offered and Lirese immediately accepted it, an eyebrow raising. "There are a few stronger potions in there as well as a few specialized vials." Serian nodded at the offering, "They're labeled and also have a list of the herbs involved in case you are curious."

Meeting the glowing blue eyes smiling warmly at her Lirese nodded, "Thank you Lady Serian."

"Protect our people, bring them home."

"I will try my best."

"And as always, safe journeys." The shaman moved off then, heading towards the mage district.

The paladin straightened up, clutching the gift with a now determined look in her blue/green eyes. She had a rogue to catch up to who hopefully wasn't as drunk as she had been at the meeting as amusing as it had been.

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((Dialogue transcribed mostly verbatim from actual in-game events. Some changes made for smoother flow and minor grammatical issues.))

"With a subtle gesture, her body glowed with an intense inner fire, burning away what little clothing she wore."

Sylennis burst out laughing as she got to that line. She was sitting at a back corner table on the upper level of the Blue Recluse tavern, leaning back in her chair with her feet kicked up ungraciously onto the table and casually tossing stale bar peanuts from a small bowl into her mouth. In her hand, she held the worn volume of a cheap, trashy romance novel she'd found on a dead orc in the Jade Forest. Still laughing, she closed the book as the young, half-elf paladin walked up to her.

"You ever read one of these things? They're a gas." Sylennis grinned inwardly. She suspected what paladin was here to do, and she wasn't going to have any part of it. Syl worked better alone, and intended to keep it that way. Best to throw the young woman off the idea early by offending her delicate sensibilities. "Found it on a dead orc. There's a priest in here burning off her clothes with holy fire, isn't that a riot?"

"It's not the kind of thing I usually read." Lirese Dawnfire spoke in a quiet, even voice, maintaining an air of decorum. "You found it on an orc? Are they into that kind of thing?"

"Guess so... it's a little sticky. Wanna look at it?" The rogue tossed the book so that it landed at the opposite end of the table next to where the paladin was standing. "I cleaned most of the blood offa' it."

Lirese just looked at Syl for a moment.

"I promise I won't tell the archbishop." The rogue snickered.

"I think I'll pass on that one." Lirese chuckled slightly, pushing the book back across the table toward the rogue.

"Suit yerself" Sylennis shrugged casually, deciding to switch gears. "So... old man Folv says yer gonna be my new contact, that right?"

Lirese nodded and slid down into the seat opposite the rogue, leaning her sword against the side of the table.

"Guess he got tired of lookin' at my ugly mug." Syl laughed. "That's fine, I didn't like lookin' at his either. Those glowing eyes creep me the fel out."

Lirese snickered and pulled out a small pouch started rummaging through it. Syl watched, tossing another peanut into her mouth and chewing it loudly and obnoxiously. The paladin began removing vials from the pouch, setting them on the table. Being quite familiar with the skill of alchemy, the rogue instantly recognized some of the items, but decided to play dumb for a moment. Since she had failed to crack the young half-elf's composure so far, perhaps another tactic was in order.

"Whatcha got there?"

"A few things Lady Serian gave me before I left. They're supposed to be a little extra special for field work."

Sylennis pulled her feet of the table and leaned forward over it, picking up one of the vials and looking into it as if mystified. She cut a glance toward the paladin before looking back at the vial with a more serious expression.

"This a cinderbloom compound?"

"I'm not actually entirely sure what she sent with me." The paladin paused, picking up one of the vials and looking at it earnestly. "But she labeled them all and gave me a list of ingredients. I know a few of them will be heightened potions."

"Cinderbloom's a volatile component..." Sylennis kept talking, making an effort to imply she hadn't been listening at all. "I can't ever make that shit work right. Vial explodes every time."

Sylennis reached out, fingering through the vials without really asking for permission. She picked up random ones, examining them and muttering alchemical formulae under her breath. Finally she selected a viscous green one, holding it up and squinting at it.

"People still use this stuff?" Syl cut her gaze away from the vial toward Lirese.

"What is it?"

The rogue looked closer. "Nevermind, I thought it was troll mucus exract... looks like it's something I haven't seen before. Perhaps a tea leaf compound?" Sylennis rubbed her chin. "Pretty smart really, I never thought about using tea leaves in a concoction."

"It's possible. I know Lady Serian has been finding numerous new herbs in Pandaria."

"Yea, I'll have to look into that once my job in Northrend is finished..." Sylennis pushed the vials back toward Lirese, kicking her feet back up on the table. "Anyhow... you got a preference on how I deliver reports? Dropbox? Coded messages? Covert meeting?"

Lirese began putting the vials back into the pouch, taking a few occasional glances at the rogue. "Oh I'm not entirely sure... I usually prefer to take the notes myself..."

Here it comes.

The rogue decided to shift tactics again.

"You sayin' you want my job? Cuz... I mean, if you do, you can have it. No skin off my arse."

"I'm too noisy and obvious." The paladin snorted a bit.

"Good that yer aware of that." Syl decided to play the sex angle again. If she could fluster the young woman, put her on the defensive... "It's all that plate. You should find yerself some nice, tight leather. Would get the boys lookin' at ya more too."

"I doubt they'd want my sword through their gut."

"No boys, huh? Women then?" The rogue smirked inwardly to herself at the play, but the paladin just looked at her coolly, raising an eyebrow.

"Haven't seen any worth my time."

Fuck.

Sylennis tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to mask her surprise. She was silent for a moment, trying to mentally regain her footing.

I never would have called that one. Must be losing my touch.

Lirese was casually ignoring her. The paladin picked up a vial with a swirl of blue liquid inside it, reading the label.

Get it together, Syl. Can't let this youngster outplay you.

"Well... either way. Leather. Shows off more." The rogue's response sounded pathetic and lame, much to her chagrin.

"But it doesn't protect you as much as plate."

"Bah, plate's a crutch." The rogue waved a dismissive hand, leaping on the opportunity to pick at the paladin in another department. "Give me mobility any day. I don't need to be protected against a sword swing if I can just bend backward under it."

"I'd rather bend backward for a different purpose, thanks." Lirese smirked at Sylennis.

Sylennis opened her mouth to respond, but to her horror, her wits failed. No words come out. She was not a sexual person by nature. Sure, she could throw out plenty of dirty posturing, but in reality, the events of her life had left her with an acute uneasiness in regard to physical contact and intimacy. Did the paladin sense this in her? It was a disturbing thought.

"Well... yea... but..." The rogue trailed off, realizing her stammering was not helping matters. She tried to reassure herself.

No way this rookie is that insightful. Just a lucky shot. Has to be.

"Hmm?" Lirese was casually running a finger over the list of ingredients for the blue vial. She raised her head nonchalantly and glanced at the rogue.

Alarm bells were going off in Syl's head as she realized her pale skin was flushing heavily with embarrassment. She realized she had to concede the fact that her little attempt to make Lirese uncomfortable had neatly backfired into her own face. Now Syl was the one on the defensive, and the rogue had a disturbing feeling that the paladin was quite well aware of it. Syl had to admit to herself that it was actually rather impressive; even if it was just a freak stroke of luck on the Lirese's part that she had found that particular weak spot, the paladin hadn't hesitated to capitalize on it.

It was probably time to admit defeat and try to minimize the damage to her image.

"So... what? Yer gonna insist to try to tag along with my arse then?" The rogue bit the words out. "I don't care whether the old man says we need to work in pairs or not; I don't need a noisy, obvious caboose."

Lirese just regarded Sylennis coolly, without speaking.

The rogue aimed a finger at the paladin's face. "Get this straight: if you blow my cover, I ain't gonna be a happy elf." She narrowed her eyes. "...and you won't like me when I'm... unhappy."

Lirese snorted faintly "As if I would prove useful for that aspect of your work..."

Sylennis started to interject a smug statement, but was cut off as the paladin continued.

"I believe, though, I would be good support and back up when needed... and I have resources of some nature."

"Oh ya, like what?"

Lirese tilted her head slightly. "Just as I'm sure you have various contacts of... unsavory... nature, I have contacts of my own." She paused for a moment. "There's also the matter of healing, which I can muster up for emergencies."

Sylennis shrugged. "I only need healing when I fuck up. Which is rare." She held up a finger before the paladin could interject. "And yes, that tauren farm you pulled me from was a rare occurrence. Look... if this is about the old man's 'operate in teams' bullshit, I get it. But I work better alone."

Lirese shrugged. "More ground can also be covered if there are two working it."

"So.... what? You just wanna split up and cover ground faster? Cuz, while that works for me, I have a feeling yer gonna get your arse killed, or disappeared, or whatever the fuck's happening to our people without someone to watch yer back."

"I have done well so far. First training in Silvermoon and now with the Alliance."

"Pfft, as if those prissy elves were ever good for anything. The best thing they ever accomplished was sissifying the Horde."

"Not nearly enough." Lirese was chuckling to herself.

"Look... I don't like the idea of being responsible for your safety; it's not my thing" Sylennis sighed in resignation. "But if I don't look out for you, and you chase after me anyway and get yer arse killed, or gangraped or worse, it's gonna look bad on me." The rogue jerked a thumb at her own chest.

"I believe it was my choice for this."

"Well, if yer tellin' me that yer followin' me to Northrend whether I like it or not..." Syl took a deep breath and then let it out. "Then I suppose we can work together. But yer doin' what I say, got it?"

"As long as I don't have to strip down into leather, we got a deal."

For some reason, Syl found herself looking at the paladin and picturing this. She found the mental image no be not altogether unpleasant; an unexpected development, which brought her no small amount of discomfort. Lirese was looking at her, with a devilish smirk on her face.

Shit.

It wasn't a lucky guess, after all. The paladin knew exactly how uncomfortable she was making the rogue. Sylennis was unable to stop herself from looking away and coughing into her hand as she responded.

"Yes.. well... I hadn't planned for that to be on the agenda..."

"Though I'm sure you will certainly try, hmm?"

"Hah... as if yer my type..." Syl was making a conscious and valiant effort not to let Lirese trip her up again, but her flushing skin betrayed her yet again and the paladin didn't hesitate to take advantage.

"Shall see, won't we?"

"Right..." The rogue was mumbling now.

Lirese shrugged slightly, an amused expression on her face. She stood, pushing the few vials she hadn't put back into the pouch toward the rogue, her face the picture of composure. Syl tried hating at it. Didn't work.

"Try these out. I'm sure if you like them, we can ask Lady Serian for more."

"I'd rather try to figure them out for myself." The rogue was positively sullen as she scraped the vials into her own alchemy pouch.

"As you wish, but I must be off. Have to finish a few things and pack my bags."

Sylennis rose to her feet as the half-elf turned to leave, opening her mouth in a last attempt to regain the upper hand. "Look here, paladin... don't make me regret this. If you get killed, I'm tellin' the commanders it was your fault." When Lirese did not respond, she continued. "Ship leaves promptly at dawn. Be there or I'm leaving yer arse here."

"Not if I leave first."

Sylennis scowled at the paladin's retreating back and picked up the dirty book again.

Somehow, it wasn't as funny as it had been earlier.

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“You turned the guild quartermaster into a MURLOC??”

“O…only briefly. He changed right back!” Giggywig Fizzwidget withered somewhat under the death knight’s perturbed expression. “But the device does work!”

Folvelor Tastion sighed to himself. Gnomes were notoriously scatterbrained to begin with, but Fizzwidget always seemed to surprise him anyway. He had simply asked the self-styled ‘artificer’ to work on an emergency communication device that Sword agents could use in the field if they found themselves in too deep. How the gnome had ended up with a transmogrification device instead was a question he wasn’t sure he wanted answered.

“But! I’m sure that’s not why you’re here!” The excitable gnome leapt off his stool and wandered over to another workbench. “I bet you’re here about the communication devices… both good and bad news there, I’m afraid.”

Folvelor raised an eyebrow.

“I have gotten the prototypes working, but, umm… range is limited by continent, I’m afraid. The distances across the sea is just a bit too far… oh, and no way are they gonna work at all in Outland.”

“Why would we want to go to Outland?”

“Oh, you wouldn’t… dreadful place… but if you did, umm… well… these wouldn’t work there.”

“Right.” The death knight crossed his arms.

“I guess I should let you get these… umm… distributed, before, umm… before the operatives leave for, uh, for wherever it was they were going to look for the L.C.” The gnome scooped up several of the small round devices into a small bag and held it out for Folvelor to take.

“Windstar and Dawnfire left for Northrend yesterday morning.” The death knight unfolded one of his arms to take the sack from the gnome, holding it by the neck and pulling it back to him. “Though I suppose if they can’t communicate out of the continent with them, they wouldn’t have gotten very much use out of them anyway.”

“Hmm, I suppose not.” The gnome rubbed his beard thoughtfully. “How do you think they’ll, umm… fare?

“Depends on whether or not they kill each other first.” Folvelor sighed and shook his head. “I can't believe I let that poor girl try to talk her way onto the mission. Windstar just doesn’t play well with others.”

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(( Partially co-written with Serian ))

"I think it's thi-thppppppth-"

Syl’s words were obscured as she turned to look over her shoulder just in time to feel a cold, stinging mass slam right into her mouth. The rogue stared silently at her traveling companion for a long moment, ice and snow dribbling from her face down onto her combat leathers and the fur-lined collar of her cloak.

Lirese burst into laughter, bending over to pick up another handful of snow into a gauntleted hand.

Sylennis finally raised the back of a hand to wipe the offending snow from her tingling lips, still staring at the paladin and muttering.

"You gotta be fuckin’ kiddin' me."

A huge grin lit up the paladin’s face as she lobbed another snowball at the rogue. This time, Syl reacted quickly, reaching up with her hand to snatch the snowball out of the air. Her expression turned to a grimace, however, as the effort was wasted, the snowball simply shattering against her hand instead and sending a spray of icy cold particles into her face..

Lirese nearly toppled over laughing and barely managed not to fall face first into the snow.

Sylennis silently shook her head, still not knowing what to make of her newly aquired ‘partner.’ The trip to Valiance Keep from Stormwind had been mostly uneventful, aside from the paladin getting a little seasick, but since their arrival in Northrend, Lirese had continued to defy Syl’s expectations at every turn. The woman was just not like any other paladin she had met.

They had spent that first evening at the inn there in the port, making plans and drinking. Drinking. Another thing the rogue wouldn’t have expected. Lirese could apparently drink like a champ, and even liked Syl’s personal stash of extra-strong Darkmoon Reserve. She had nearly choked watching the half-elf down a bigger gulp of the stuff than her own had been.

They had tossed around ideas for a bit, finally settling on a long-shot: A former paladin, once known by the name of Sir Gerald, was known to pass his days in the tavern at Wintergarde, indulging in various behaviors normally forbidden to those of his order. He was once a member of Vaelith’s unit, and might have recognized the Lord Commander if he had passed through that way.

The two had undertaken the journey the next morning, opting to travel on foot to avoid attracting too much attention. It was now the evening of the second day and getting darker and colder by the second. Syl reckoned that the town wasn’t much further away, and decided to try to make it there before dusk fell rather than making camp somewhere.

Lirese was still chuckling to herself and grinning at the rogue, ostensibly gauging her reaction and looking to see if the rogue would try to get back at her somehow. Syl decided not to indulge her. Her plan for how to coax some useful information out of Sir Gerald would be revenge enough.

"C'mon, short stuff, it's gettin' too cold out here." Sylennis turned to continue toward the keep. She was smirking to herself as she went over the plan in her head, but she still found herself pulling the fur lining of her cloak up around her mouth, trying to soak up the extra cold her lips were feeling from the personal contact with the snow.

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Making her way downstairs was simple enough. But it was when her feet touched the floor of the main level that her confidence seemed to flounder. Her hand tensed on the banister and it was several more seconds before she forced herself to let go. The barmaid behind the counter looked at her, giving a small smile.

She could do this. It was part of the mission after all…no matter how heavy-handed Syl was with the details. That thought alone made her mentally grumble. "Pretend to be a whore and seduce information out of him….bah." she muttered darkly and then sighed.

Slanted blue-green eyes gazed around the room, spotting the table she needed to end at and glanced back at the bar. She so wasn't going over to the men until she had at least a couple of shots inside her. Straightening up, she released the hold she had on the dress she had no notion of wearing ever again and headed towards the barmaid. Ordering a shot of the strongest liquor the inn had to offer Lirese reached for her waist, momentarily forgetting she wasn't properly "dressed" and went red in the face.

"I'm sorry, I seem to have…forgotten and left my money in the room." Damn the slinky dress. Why couldn't it -hide- more? Most of her body seemed to gain a pink tint from her embarrassment. A hand raised to her face, running her fingers through her hair, her gaze lowering to the ground.

The barmaid giggled a little and set the shot before the paladin. Extremely surprised, Lir looked up, blinking rapidly. "Whaa-?"

With a wink the barmaid grinned, "A kiss in return."

An eyebrow raised even higher. Well, this was unexpected. She blinked once more, the red fading from her fair skin and took the last step towards the bar. The other woman was already leaning against it, eyes twinkling.

Lips met in a brief greeting before the paladin slid a hand around the back of the barmaid's neck and pulled the woman forward enough for a proper kiss.

A few agreeable noises could be heard behind the paladin deeper into the room when she finally released the barmaid, who was looking slightly dazed, yet extremely pleased all the same. That too, was unexpected. It also gave Lir some much needed confidence. She could do this. Knocking back the shot she set the glass down and then heard, "How 'bout 'nother one girlie?"

An eyebrow raised as she glanced over her shoulder and noted that it was a solider near the ex-paladin who spoke up. The interest of a couple of others was also evident. She looked back at the maid and tilted her head.

The grin on the barmaid's face became wider, eyes darkening just enough to show she was enjoying this greatly, "Perhaps a couple more?" she poured another shot and slid it in front of the paladin.

Lir was a little surprised, glancing down once at the shot and then reaching out towards the barmaid again. She would need all the help for her confidence she could get for this intel-gathering gig…and damn if this wasn't helping.

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Folvelor Tastion sighed in exasperation as yet another of his punches failed to connect with the pandaren’s prominent nose, instead whiffing through the air where said nose had previously been.

“You’re getting better, though. That one almost touched me.” Wiq Windsweeper chuckled as he centered his stance and continued to study the death knight intently, his eyes focused sharply on the human, ready for any movement.

“I’m beginning to think you’re just patronizing me, Windsweeper.” Folvelor swung his fist again, and again the pandaren effortlessly dodged the blow. “That or this whole ‘death’ thing has really lowered my speed more than I’d realized.”

“I would say you are awfully spry for a dead man.”

“Very funny.” The death knight lowered his stance, bowed in respect to his sparring partner, and started toward the bench to retrieve his equipment.

“Humor and wisdom are two sides to the same coin.” Windsweeper returned the bow.

“That doesn’t even mean anything. You just made it up.”

“Just because I made it up, does not mean it lacks wisdom or meaning.”

Folvelor stared at the pandaren for a long moment before finally shaking his head and waving his hand dismissively.

“Sometimes I don’t know if you’re actually that cryptic or just trying to mess with my head.” The death knight decided to change the subject. “Anyway, how did the meeting with Commander Beckett go?”

“It was brief, but fruitful, I think.” The monk stroked his beard thoughtfully. “I don’t think he even had any idea who Lord Commander Vaelith was, much less that he was missing.”

Folvelor raised an eyebrow.

“But he has agreed to ask any Dusk Watch forces operating in Northrend to keep an eye open for our illustrious commander or our two wayward agents.”

“Well, there’s that at least.” Folvelor nodded thoughtfully. “What was your assessment of the Watch in general? I have my own thoughts, but would welcome a second opinion.”

“A good bunch for the most part. They certainly can eat and drink, though they aren’t quite up to pandaren talent in that department yet.” A mischievous smile spread across the monk’s face. “All in all, I think we can count on their support.”

"Good. That’s my assessment too. With our numbers diminished as they are, we are going to need allies.” The death knight paused for a long time, before looking the pandaren in the eye. “…and leadership. This serpent cannot keep fighting without its head, Windsweeper. If we don’t find the Lord Commander very soon, we’re going to need to see about putting someone in his place, at least temporarily.”

Wiq Windsweeper nodded solemnly in agreement.

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Sylennis Windstar tugged the fur-lining of her cloak tighter around her neck, looking back over her shoulder to where Lirese followed a few steps behind. The paladin was clearly feeling the chill as much as Syl was. It would be good to get indoors for the evening rather than spending another night out in this brutal cold. The previous evening had been pretty miserable, and the rogue wasn't sure either of them could take another night like the last.

A slight frown creased Syl's lips as she thought again about the last couple days' events. She had been feeling unusually guilty for forcing Lirese into that barely-there dress and sending her down to seduce the information they needed out of Sir Gerald. At the time, it had felt like fitting revenge for the numerous times the paladin had taken little jabs at her since the mission began, but when the poor girl had made her way back upstairs with a triumphant look on her face but clearly soused, the rogue had started feeling these little pangs of guilt. Had Lirese really felt so uncomfortable that she'd needed to drink herself into a stupor just to get the job done?

It had gotten so bad that Syl had even found herself apologizing to the paladin that past night, as they huddled together beneath their last blanket, downing gulps of the rogue's Darkmoon Reserve stash and clinging to each other for body warmth to survive the biting cold of the snowy night. Syl's cheeks and ears flushed a bright red, and her fingertips drifted subconsciously to her lips as she recalled again the kiss the two had shared as they held each other there beneath the blankets.

What the fuck was up with that?

Sylennis figured she should just chalk it up to the alcohol, extreme circumstances and weird sort of kinship she'd felt with Lirese after hearing the story of the half-elf's childhood in Silvermoon.

Yea, it was just the booze.

But why the fel do I keep thinking about it?

Mercifully, the paladin had given her plenty of space since they had awoken this morning, and seemed to have elected not to bring the indiscretion up in any conversation.

Sylennis shook her head to clear her thoughts, turning her gaze toward the hill where Westguard keep loomed in the distance. The rogue figured maybe another hour before they could be inside by a roaring fire and could start following up on the lead they'd gotten from the lecherous Sir Gerald.

The ex-paladin had indeed spotted the wayward Lord Commander, but hadn't learned where the man was headed, only that he had arrived at Wintergarde from the Howling Fjord. It hadn't been much to go on, but it was the only lead they had, so the duo had set off immediately the following morning for Westguard. Sylennis figured they could get a room at the inn, and then she could see to getting Lirese into a bed for some much-needed rest, while she herself would head back down to the tavern to do some information gathering of her own.

I suppose she's earned the night off.

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With a loud THWACK, a large and sick-looking dagger buried itself in the bulls-eye of the dartboard, the force of the impact jarring loose most of the darts that had previously claimed the position.

“Does that mean I win?” Syl Windstar stood near the doorway of the inn’s tavern area, casually leaning back against the doorjamb while tossing and catching another dagger identical to the first.

Grumbles arose from the patrons who had just had their game interrupted. One was a burly thug of a man who had a thick mace strapped to his belt; the other two were rail-thin and had a bookish, magickey look about them. They were fair-haired and favored each other a bit, possibly a brother and sister.

Others around the tavern looked up from their drinks and conversations as well, watching to see what was about to happen. Only the bartender seemed unperturbed, simply polishing mugs and surreptitiously watching Syl out of the corner of his eye.

The rogue cleared her throat and stood up straight, walking over to the dartboard to retrieve her weapon, returning the other to her belt as she moved.

“Sorry… know I interrupted your lil’ game or whatever you were doin’ there, but I’m tired and more than a bit cranky from the road, so I don’t have the patience right now to for casual fishing.” Syl pulled her dagger from the board and turned so that her back was to the bar. She leaned back against it and began cleaning dirt and grime from under her fingernails with the blade.

“I’m lookin’ for a paladin that might have passed through this way, likely goin’ by the name of Vaelith. He’s about…”

“Ain’t seen ‘im.”

Syl’s words were cut off as the brute from the dart game interrupted her. She noted the two siblings cutting warning glances briefly at the man, but the damage was already done.

“Well…” A smile curled the rogue’s lips and she stopped picking at her fingernails with the dagger, instead letting the blade wave slowly back and forth in the air. “That was awfully fast wasn’t it? You didn’t even give me a chance to describe him…”

The brute’s face paled, as what he’d just done seemed to click in his head.

“Are you awfully sure you haven’t seen him?”

The gleam in her eye made her look almost excited.

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Lirese was -just- drifting into a deeper sleep when something downstairs stirred her from her rest. She wasn't sure exactly what it was that woke her, but something did. With a sigh and a soft grunt she heaved herself out from under the cocoon of blankets she wrapped herself in and slipped back into her clothing. The sounds were distinctly of a fight now..and that never sounded good. Dragging her hair out of her face with a hand she grabbed her sword, keeping it sheathed for the moment as she walked out of the room.

Leaning over the bannister her eyes were met with the scene of daggers drawn and held to the throat of an unknown burly man. This didn't bode well at all. Especially when the paladin noted the two robed-magic users tensing up. If she didn't know any better then they looked as if they were about to join in on the fight. And three against one lonely rogue was rather unfair. Even if the rogue could take them on.

Unsheathing her sword she started heading down the stairs. When was her partner -not- going to get into trouble?

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Sylennis pushed the dagger harder against the burly man’s throat, the sharp point drawing a few drops of blood from his skin.

“I’m not patient on a good day, ugly… and this hasn’t been a good day.” The rogue narrowed her eyes into slits, a nasty sneer on her face. “Yer awfully eager to not talk about my boss, and that makes me real interested in what you have to say.”

In the corner of her vision, Syl noticed the two magic users taking up positions to either side. She gritted her teeth and cursed internally. She’d been hoping they’d have enough enough concern for their partner that she could use his life as a shield for the moment, but it was starting to look like he was a disposable commodity.

Shit.

The sister mage was now moving her lips silently, canting her fingers to cast some sort of spell.

Fuck.

Syl let the tip of her dagger drift from Burly’s throat, slamming her wrist up into his chin to send him staggering back as she pushed away with the balls of her feet. She let the motion carry her shoulder-first into Sister’s torso, knocking the breath from her and interrupting her incantation briefly.

As the woman doubled over, Sylennis turned back to Burly. He was still staggered. Good. Her eyes hawked the room, looking to see what had happened to the brother mage.

The fel? Where did he go?

Her thought was interrupted as she heard a noise behind her. She whirled around to see a pudgy goblin leaping over the bar with a nasty pair of maces.

Must've been hiding behind the bar...

Syl backed up a couple of steps, trying to keep her three visible opponents in view. The odds were stacking quickly against her. Back to her left, Burly had recovered from the blow and was now wielding his mace like a club, swinging it wildly at her. The rogue ducked under the first swing, then sprang up into a sideways leap that catapulted her over the goblin's head. She landed expertly and swung around to face her opponents again. This time, however, Burly had turned partly away from her. Syl blinked in surprise as she realized he hadn't turned so much as been forced that way by a blow to the temple.

Lirese Dawnfire was opposite him, her auburn hair whipping through the air, framing a serious, but somehow still bemused, expression as she delivered another hammer blow to his head with the hilt of her sword.

"I swear you can't stay out of trouble for more than a few minutes."

"Let's save the witty banter 'till later, eh, short stuff?" Sylennis juked to the side as the goblin swung one of his maces at her kneecap. The rogue followed up the dodge with a sharp kick to the goblin's nose that sent him stumbling back toward her half-elf partner.

Lirese reacted quickly, a blue-green glow coming to her eyes as she gave the stumbling burly man a shove toward the bar and channeled holy light from her free hand toward the staggering goblin's back and sent him pitching forward onto his face with a loud grunt.

Burly was recovering now, maneuvering to hit the paladin from behind. Syl dove forward, lunging for his knees for a takedown. She was partially successful, managing to spin him to the side a bit, and rolled back to her feet so she was now back-to-back with Lirese.

"Thanks for the backup, but you know I had this."

"Just luring them in, were you, hmm?" There was a hint of a smirk in the paladin's voice.

"Damn straight" Syl paused for a moment. "Now, keep yer eyes open, I don't know where-"

The floor dropped out from under them and everything went white.

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Sir Folvelor Tastion sat down at the Lord Commander's desk with a sigh. In his mind, it was still Vaelith Steelheart's, and would be until they found a body.

However, the guild officers at the meeting had voted, and Folvelor had been selected to act as Lord Commander of the Sword in the paladin's absence. In his mind, he knew it was probably a foregone conclusion long before the meeting, but he still felt unworthy of the responsibility. He had led men in battle since the days of the Second War, but to oversee what needed to be done to keep the Sword on its feet, that was a monumental task, and the ones that had stood in this spot before him were all far better men and women than he could ever be.

It was not that he was worried whether he could accomplish the task - he had always been aware of his own capabilities and limits - but that the rest of the Sword would follow him down the dark roads ahead. The officers and soldiers at the meeting he was fairly sure of, but there were others, and not all had had a say in the decision.

He sighed and looked at the stack of communication devices sitting on the corner of the desk. He had gotten them distributed to all of the guild members currently in the city, but the rest needed to be tracked down; a job he normally would have tasked Sylennis with, but given her indisposition... The death knight sighed and picked up his own device. Might as well start using the things.

"Windsweeper, this is Acting Lord Commander Tastion. You still around the city?"

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It hadn't been too long after she received the new communication device passed along the active members of Sword and already Mishreka had hers in pieces on the table. A frown of concentration creased the human's face, blue eyes all for the various wires and equally small metal shapes. Luckily no one else was currently in the guildhall and wouldn't have to explain to someone how she couldn't get it back together. Yet.

Sighing softly she leaned back, rolling her head to loosen some of the tension and took another look at the mess she made. Well…she -had- wanted to see how it was made. And she just -had- to puzzle through some of the more complicated pieces to it, seeing as she was still a novice in engineering and as of yet wasn't allowed to handle some of the more "delicate" designs. This was perhaps why.

Glancing around at the tools strewn all over the table she picked up a couple and pulled her goggles over her eyes, leaning forward again with a small light now turned on. "Let's see about reattaching this blue wire here…" the tip of her tongue stuck out of the side of her mouth as she sank into her concentration.

A shadow filled the doorway to the guild hall as another blonde, blue-eyed female peeked inside. A water elemental bubbled at her side, but with a flick of a wrist it moved back outside. The newcomer looked slightly out of place in her burgandy tabard bearing a white tree surrounded by blue and gold of the Sword colors, but she clearly paid no mind as she silently walked up behind Misha. Lucky for her she wore robes of cloth unlike the clanky plate Misha wore and sneaking up on the warrior was no problem.

The warrior muttered darkly under her breath as she continued to tinker on the device.

The mage grinned widely as she leaned over the warrior's shoulder, getting up right next to her ear and said in a normal tone of voice, "I hope that is something you are able to fix, or whomever made that won't be happy."

Misha shrieked, jumping up in reaction and becoming tangled with the chair. Flailing as she started to fall, half of the device pieces was swept onto the floor with small vibrating sounds.

Thinking against catching the falling warrior, the mage stepped back enough that the both of them wouldn't end up hurt.

Shock and faint angry eyes flew up to the mage, "ZEKEKRA!"

While the mage was giggling, she was trying to control herself and look apologetic, "I'm so sorry Misha. I thought you were only reading."

Mishreka tried to frown, but soon just sighed and shook her head. Taking the now-offered hand, she was helped up and put to rights. Goggles clattered to the table and another sigh was heard.

Zeka moved around, crouching to collect as many pieces as she could from the floor as she could. As she piled them on the table, her eyes bubbling over with curiosity. "Just what were you messing with?"

Misha flushed faintly, pushing a few of the wires towards the core of the device. "Well the Sword recently came into possession of communication devices…"

Zeka giggled, "Oh, I can see where that is headed…" she pointedly looked down at the mess.

A rueful look met identical blue eyes that twinkled, "Well…what is it that you came here for? I'd assume you're invading our guildhall for a reason."

"Well I was going to be taking a short trip to Dalaran for some quiet to repair a few things and figured you'd wanna go along."

An eyebrow raised, "You can easily repair things in Stormwind."

Zeka snorted faintly, "Yes, but Dalaran is smaller and easier access…and since when did you stop being curious about the city?"

"Never." a laugh brightened Misha's face.

"Then come on."

"Hold on. I gotta get all this out of sight first. I don't wanna have to explain just yet why I need a new comm device when we just got them." Misha started swiping everything from the table into an opened pouch she now held.

Another snicker came from the mage, watching her twin sister before she made a portal to leave.

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"Fel-damned worthless piece of shit ankle!" Sylennis Windstar cursed and spat into the snow as she stumbled yet again.

A strong hand grabbed her by the elbow and held her steady, keeping her from falling to her knees again. Syl looked over into the face of Lirese Dawnfire and nodded a cool thanks, before trying to continue on. Irritatingly, the hand did not release her, despite her efforts.

"Sit." The paladin's expression was one that would brook no argument.

The rogue sighed and complied, easing herself down into a sitting position so that Lirese could once more tend to the swelling in her ankle.

She had injured it shortly after the fight in the bar, which had abruptly come to an end when the second mage had made himself known again by conjuring a portal directly under the feet of the unfortunate duo. They had fallen through into some sort of huge titan machinery, and Sylennis had twisted her ankle on the landing. After a restless and cold night in the bowels of the machine, it had taken them nearly a day to climb out with the rogue injured as she was, and now they were stuck trudging through the snow of the Storm Peaks, making their way to Dalaran.

Syl was brought back to the present by a throb of pain as Lirese removed the rogue's boot as gently as she could to expose the swollen ankle, followed by a stinging cold as the paladin applied more snow to the puffed flesh, trying to bring down the swelling. The feeling of the half-elf's fingers working gently at the bruised flesh left Syl with a warm, but uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. It was almost as if she felt the contact pleasant, despite the pain and soreness.

She shook her head. That couldn't be it.

Her skin flushed a bit as she recalled how they'd had to spend yet another evening huddled together beneath blankets, with only body heat and alcohol to keep themselves warm. Once again, they'd found themselves sharing a kiss as they clung to each other, though this time more than once and with a little more... gusto.

Syl was still pretty sure it was just the alcohol.

This is why I hate partners. They fuckin' complicate everything.

The rogue was brought back to the present once more by another dull throb of pain as Lirese gently worked the boot back onto Syl's foot.

"See if that's any better."

Sylennis nodded, rising gently to her feet as the paladin supported her once again with a gentle, but firm grip with one hand under her arm. She tested her weight on the ankle again a few times. It still hurt, but was more manageable.

"Guess that's good for now." Syl looked over at the half-elf, giving her a nod and a brief smile. "Thanks, short stuff... Now, let's see if we can get to Dalaran before nightfall; I wanna find out who those mercs were. Maybe we can get some useful info... find out who they're workin' for."

Lirese nodded in agreement, releasing her slender fingers' grip on the rogue's arm so Syl could stand on her own power. The rogue relaxed a bit inside, grateful not to be too dependent on her partner to walk, but at the same time, she suddenly felt a little disappointed and couldn't put her finger on a reason why.

Sylennis started back toward the floating city, trying not to think about anything other than the mission at hand.

She failed utterly.

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"Yes, we know of them." Archmage Modera tucked a wisp of silvery hair behind her ear, looking back and forth between the two Sword agents. "The Dragonblight Reavers. They've become a real problem in the last few years. Ever since the Lich King was killed, Alliance and Horde forces have been steadily pulling out of the continent and it is getting harder for their commanders to keep a handle on the remaining forces. There have been desertions in droves, and some of the nastier deserters have hooked up with the Reavers."

Sylennis nodded, looking over at Lirese, noting the paladin's quiet, but observant demeanor. Syl thought that to be one of the paladin's best personality traits, and one that well suited her to the kind of work they were doing.

"They have their fingers in everything, and will work for whoever pays them the best." The archmage continued on. "Nothing is off the table. They will murder, cheat, steal and rape whomever and wherever if the money's right."

"Then you don't have anything on who they might be workin' for?" Sylennis frowned, crossing her arms.

"I'm afraid not. They really are into just about everything."

Shit.

Syl had hoped learning more about these mercs might give her an idea on who hired them and in turn would help her and Lirese track down Vaelith, but it appeared that wasn't going to happen. They were fast running out of leads.

"What about the other matter?" Lirese spoke up as the rogue was weighing her options. "Has anyone in the Kirin Tor had sighting of the man we're looking for?"

The archmage shook her head.

"I will have the council look into it if they have time, but so much has been going on around here since Lady Proudmoore took over that I can't promise anything." Modera frowned for a moment. "I will instruct the city guards to keep an eye out though."

Sylennis and Lirese nodded at the same time, the rogue mentally noting that it was a feeble hope at best.

The two thanked the archmage for her time and departed the Violet Citadel.

Sylennis wasn't feeling very thrilled with their progress since reaching the city. A whole day here and all they'd turned up so far was a name to put to the faces of the mercs that attacked them in Westguard. She suggested to the paladin that they find dinner, and the two headed back toward the inn. As they entered the courtyard out back, they heard excited voices conversing quickly at a far table.

"...thought I'd try to reconnect the two blue wires, but when I did that, that red thing started sparking and smoking like that..."

"Well, perhaps you shouldn't have taken it apart to begin with."

Sylennis noted that her partner had stopped suddenly, her ear craned toward the conversation.

"I think I know those two."

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The two blondes were giggling up a storm as they arrived back in Stormwind and had to hold onto each other to keep from falling down.

"Did you see their faces?" "Can we say lovers' spat?" More giggles erupted from that one.

The warrior still clutched the rumpled letter and when the two finally calmed down, gulping deep breaths of air they leaned against each other.

"Ok…" Misha took a deep breath again, "I need to get this to Sir Folvelor."

Zeka sighed on a last note of laughter, smoothing down her robes. As her blue eyes took in the Mage District she glanced at her twin ,"Where would we find him?"

Misha met her gaze, tilting her head slightly, "Well, he's been giving Lady Serian a lot of supply orders to take care of recently…And has been working through stacks of paperwork himself."

"So they would most likely be in the guild hall?"

"Couldn't hurt to check." With that the two made their way through the city (distracted several times by their similar train of thought as they discussed their recent visit with Lirese…and her new partner).

A few fresh baked rolls and glasses of milk later they arrived at the guildhall only to find Lady Serian sitting at a table inside in front of a couple different stacks of paper. As they entered the shaman looked up with a faint distracted look and then blinked, smiling at them.

"Little Mage, Misha, what brings you to me? I thought you were visiting Dalaran?" the shaman asked, setting down her quill.

Zeka nodded, "We were…but ran into a couple of Sword agents."

Serian looked surprised, an eyebrow raising.

"Lirese and Sylennis were there as well Lady Serian." Misha spoke up. Seeming to remember why they even came back to the human capital, the warrior held up her hand, crumpled note even more wrinkled now. "Sylennis gave me this for Sir Folvelor. Is he here?"

Serian looked down at the note, but didn't reach out for it. "He said he needed to stretch his legs and get some air. I think he was headed to the Cathedral." Her eyes went from one woman to the other, knowing there was something else brewing between the two. She could sense something underneath their words.

"We could go find him together, seeing as I would like to know the contents of the note as well. We've been waiting for word from them for awhile now." the shaman continued.

Misha nodded and looked at her sister, taking brief note of the dissimilar tabard she wore of red and white. The mage tilted her head, meeting her sister's gaze and then looked down. "Right. Sword business." she nodded. She glanced over her shoulder at the banners strapped to her pack and said, "I…think I should return the Dusk Watch banners I fixed…I will see you later." she hugged her twin quickly and then waved at the shaman with a smile, blue eyes dancing. "Bye Lady Serian!"

Serian smiled in return, giving her usual parting words to the mage. Oh to be so young again. Energy was nearly unlimited. Once the mage was out of sight she turned back to the warrior, rising from her chair as graceful as she could with hooves, tail and tall height. "Let us search for Folvelor…and perhaps you can tell me what else happened while you were in Dalaran?"

Misha grinned up at Serian, "I believe there will be interesting times ahead concerning those two."

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Sylennis Windstar was feeling unusually... aimless.

She sat at the edge of the pier in the Dalaran underbelly, mindlessly carving lines in the wood with one of her daggers. Lirese was nowhere to be found at the moment; a situation Syl herself had helped engineer. The paladin was currently off in the company of Three Finger Nisstina, a rather unsavory troll woman who had a side-business dealing information and a rather healthy dislike of a certain white-haired elf rogue.

Killing someone's brother will do that to 'em, I guess.

Thanks to that pre-existing enmity, however, the troll was unwilling to offer a reasonable price for the information the Sword agents were seeking. It was only due to a stroke of luck that Niss had somehow gotten the mistaken impression that Lirese was actually some sort of personal slave and offered to trade the information... for the girl. Sylennis had been about to refuse the offer, when Lirese had suddenly insisted that she make the trade. The rogue had attempted to talk the paladin out of it, but the half-elf swore she could handle herself and that the rogue shouldn't concern herself.

It was a sound plan, with a willing volunteer, but for some reason, Syl had still hated it. She couldn't put her finger on why.

The information appeared to be good, however. The troll hadn't seen anyone matching the lord commander's description, but she did know that the Dragonblight Reavers were searching for someone fitting it. She also knew that the Reavers had recently dispatched a large contingent to the titan stronghold of Ulduar. It wasn't much, but it kept the trail alive.

Now, however, Sylennis had to wait on Lirese to (somehow) extricate herself from the arrangement, and the wait was proving far more grueling for the rogue than she would have expected.

In truth, she was a little confused about a lot of things lately - especially since their run-in with the giggling Chaldis twins. Sylennis had convinced the young warrior Misha to get a message back to Sword command, but during that meal an argument had begun between Sylennis and Lirese over some withheld information; an argument which had come to a very different kind of climax than the rogue would have expected. Several of them in fact, and well into the night.

How the fel did I end up sleeping with her?

She didn't even have the alcohol to blame this time, and her uncharacteristically giddy behavior the morning after offered mounting evidence that the stress of the mission might really be getting to her. Either that, or she was starting to invest way more into this partnership than was necessary. Neither possibility was terribly reassuring.

So... there Sylennis sat, carving aimless lines in the pier and muttering to herself. She still wasn't certain how Lirese planned to make good her escape, but having learned some of the paladin's history, an image came unbidden to Syl's mind of the half-elf seducing her way out of the contract. It was an image that made her curiously uncomfortable.

Actually, it made her more than a little irritated.

No, she was ANGRY.

Sylennis gritted her teeth tightly, and plunged her dagger hard into one of the wooden dock posts, imagining it was instead sinking into the flesh of that troll bitch's back.

She felt a little better.

But only a little.

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"Told her everything would be fine." Lirese muttered as she tucked the now-bound troll into a dark corner of the Underbelly. Her eyes widened in delighted surprise when she spotted a large, empty packing crate nearby. Leaning the sword she carried naked in her hand against the wall she collected the crate and shoved it in front of the troll.

There.

No one would see her for some time. But even so she went around the side to take a last look over her handy work with the ropes and gag. Kneeling down, her eyes roved over the unconscious troll, still feeling rather smug with how the scuffle went. Nisstina certainly -did- underestimate her. Seriously. Not -all- pretty faces were property to be bartered off. No way. Not anymore.

Lirese belonged to no one.

A slight frown crossed her face before she sighed and shook her head. Enough time had passed since her partner left and she needed to return. Rising to her feet again she took ahold of the sword and turned away towards the rest of the sewer.

They knew where to go next and to Ulduar it seemed was the new destination.

Another sigh escaped her lips as her mind wandered back to her partner. There were lots of mixed emotions when the rogue crossed her thoughts. The majority of them good. But some of them uncertain. She knew she was becoming a little more than attached to Syl, that much was clear. But…what did it mean for them as a whole?

It wasn't that far to the other side of the sewer and even the tiny pier was in sight now. A smile curved her lips the moment she saw the night elf she was approaching.

"Told her things would be fine. Just fine."

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Abel absolutely loved Dalaran. Maybe it was because it was a floating city, or perhaps it was simply because the streets were so clean, but there was just something about the place that reminded him of his childhood. A fairytale in many ways.

He had just spent some time at the pet store when some commotion in the streets had caught his attention, the yelling of men and women as unexpected excitement cleared the way toward the flight platform. Breaking a dog treat in half for his mastiff Abel stepped out from the shop just in time to see two women, a half-elf and night elf, sprint by. He had recognized them from earlier, two of guild members of Sword in the Morning to whom he had delivered the letter from their guildmaster. He had only a moment to watch them as they sped by, a look of determination and disarray as they attempted to work on wrinkled clothing and tie up their loose backpacks on the fly.

Stepping out into the street he watched them with some of the other citizens in mild curiosity, trying desperately to remember their names. A Windrunner? Wildrunner? Swiftrunner? Swiftblade? Bladerunner? It was incredibly difficult to keep up with names of elven origin, and it felt a little racist to keep guessing so blindly. He was about to reach into his jacket to draw out his notebook for another clue when a violent shove made him stumble for balance. Swearing at him in some unknown language both trolls sped their way past, and Abel knew at once that the two women were clearly in more danger than they could apparently handle.

Smithers at his side the deliveryman quickly sped after the pair, losing sight of them for a moment as they ran around the corner and up the ramp toward the flight master platform. By the time he had turned around the corner after them and made way back into their sight Abel could hardly believe what he was watching.

The woman paladin, fully dressed and prepared for battle, had just tossed a dagger at one of the trolls who responded with a swift block with his club. Pulling the blade from his club with a snarl the troll had prepared to return the throw when a pellet slapped into his forehead, exploding into a burst of smoke. Normally not one to enter confrontations Abel would have left the pair at that, save for something he had seen in the fleeting moment before the smoke clouded the entire platform. The night elf woman, tugging the reins to prepare a very familiar looking gryphon for flight...

“Hey!” Abel exclaimed in anger, just catching up to the trolls who stood coughing at the doorway to the flight platform.

Dashing clear of the smoke Abel was just in time to see the women flying off with his gryphon, pointing toward the horizon as they gathered their bearings. He turned toward the high elf flight master in frustration, buttoning his coat in a fury.

“You let them just take my gryphon?”

“Well they didn’t exactly ask...” the mistress of mounts offered with a shrug.

“What’s the point of these damn valet tickets anyway?” he sighed, revealing his stub in frustration as he looked around for a solution.

“They all have the same number on em anyway.” she pointed out.

Taking a glance at the ticket out of curiosity he realized she was probably right, the golden stub had only a long string of zeros for its print number. Finally bursting forth from the cloud of smoke the two trolls swore violently (or so Abel thought) as one quickly hopped on a wyvern, not bothering to ask the smug flight master for permission as it flew off in pursuit. Just as the first thug was taking off Abel had desperately looked around to see if he could find something to catch up, realizing all too late that the second troll thug had just taken reins of the last mount on the platform. With the troll tugging harshly to lift off the hippogryph squawked in disapproval as the unknown rider hopped on, preparing to move off the platform regardless.

A quick trot and flap of wing sent the beast sailing majestically into the air before Abel latched on, letting the worgen curse flow over him in order to better grasp at the beasts rear hoof. Not expecting the extra weight the creature twisted from the sky, sending all three into a spinning fall almost instantly. Hanging on tightly as the hippogryph pumped its wings hard to recover the beast was able to straighten a few hundred feet from the ground, correcting its course to follow the wyvern and gryphon who now had considerable distance.

Sneering down at Abel the troll lifted its club to strike down at the stowaway, too slow to respond to the pistol shot that exploded through the thug’s eye and send him falling to the ground below.

“I’m sure that’ll grow back.” chuckled Abel as he crawled his way up onto the back of the mount, spurring it onward in hopes of catching the others.

Abel swore under his breath as his hippogryph picked up speed. He would not let that rental deposit go in vain.

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(( Some Lirese dialogue provided by Serian ))

Sylennis felt a little warmth come to her cheeks as Lirese climbed up behind her on the gryphon, the paladin wrapping her arms a little tighter around the rogue's waist than was strictly necessary. She gave the gryphon a kick, and it soared up quickly into the air. As soon as they were clear of the landing platform, her head swiveled to look behind them. Nisstina's thugs were wasting no time commandeering mounts of their own to continue the chase.

"Shit. We ain't outta the woods yet, short stuff." Syl turned to look back where they were headed, feeling Lirese's grip loosen a bit as the half-elf swung her own head around to look behind.

"Hmm... one of them seems to have picked up an extra passenger." Sylennis turned her head behind again, to see the paladin looking back at her, that cute smirking twinkle in her eye again. "The deliveryman from last night." Lirese jerked a thumb over her shoulder.

Sylennis blushed heavily at the comment, recalling his rather unfortunate timing. The man (Abel-something) had come bearing a reply from Sword command, but had managed to wander into their room at just the wrong time, catching the two in a... compromising... position.

Compromising... heh. More like I was about to yank that damn dress right off of her...

She turned a bit redder at the thought and shook her head to clear it, peering over Lirese's shoulder in time to see the hippogryph and its two passengers tumbling down through the sky as they struggled. But where was...

A crossbow bolt grazed past her cheek.

"Fuck!" Syl's head jerked toward where the bolt had come from. The crossbow-wielding thug was on a wyvern above and behind them, already trying to reload another bolt with his free hand. "Lirese, I'm really startin' to think you shoulda just killed her."

"Fine, then you wear the dress next time."

Another bolt whizzed toward them, Lirese managing to raise her forearm and deflecting it away with a gauntlet-clad hand.

"Can't you do some of that holy zappy stuff at him?"

"Not with you jostling me all over the place, can't you hold this thing steady?"

"I'd like to see you fly an unhappy, overburdened and under-fire gryphon any steadier."

Lirese responded with a grumble, reaching out with her free hand, the other still clutching at the rogue's midsection. Syl felt heat at the back of her head as the paladin gathered holy power into her hand before letting it fly out toward the troll in a blast of light.

Syl didn't see whether it hit because that was about the time the gryphon took a crossbow bolt in the leg and started spiraling downward.

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Hardly a fan of flying Abel was becoming less and less thrilled with the situation at hand, his hippogryph having finally come only a few wing-beats behind the troll thug riding the stolen wyvern. He had watched in horror as his rental deposit had likely just been voided when his gryphon was shot at, the poor creature had taken a bolt to the hind leg. Frustrated and a little tired he drew a second pistol from his coat and was about to take a shot at the rider when a beam of light flashed out from the half-elfs hand, its direction thrown off by the gryphon’s spasm of pain. Ducking low as the beam of holy light swung wide of the enemy rider only to clip Abel’s shoulder, leaving a light sear over his home stitched jacket.

“Really now?” Abel sighed in exasperation, wondering what kind of grief Linda would give him over the damaged coat.

Dusting away some of the residual smoke from his shoulder with a large paw Abel spurred the hippogryph onward, catching up to the troll just as it was loading another shot into its crossbow. A look of confusion passed the troll’s face as it noticed the worgen that had caught up, taking a moment to look behind it to see where his friend had gone. They had just reached the mountain pass leading toward the ruins of Ulduar when Abel had noticed the wound to the Gryphon must have been worse than he thought; the rogue and paladin together were guiding the poor beast down toward a broken bridge, attempting to mend it’s wound with holy energy while preparing for what was likely to be a hard landing.

“Lower the weapon, and I’ll be happy to let you pass sir troll.” Abel raised his pistol, keeping an eye on where the Sword pair were going to try to land.

The troll spoke in a language that Abel could hardly pronounce, let alone comprehend, but the raised crossbow and menacing look in the ruffians eye were able to cross their racial barrier with ease.

“Suit yourself then.” Abel sighed heavily, pointing the pistol away from the troll and toward the wyvern instead.

Unsure he could connect a shot with his hippogryph’s unsteady flapping Abel pulled the trigger at the troll’s mount instead, aiming for the head but clipping the wing at the shoulder instead. A dull ‘thunk’ sounded off as the troll loosed its bolt round in desperation, but a combination of Northrend's frozen winds and an equally rough ride had taken the shot far off course. Struggling to hold onto the mortally wounded mount Abel watched as the troll and the poor wyvern twisted out of the sky and fell, slamming hard into the mountainside before tumbling further away into the snowdrifts of the storm peaks.

Stowing the pistol back into the brace under his jacket Abel turned his attention to the two women just as they had landed, wincing reflexively as they half-landed half-crashed on a platform below; the once entrance to what must have been a grand location of the Titans barely saving them from falling to their deaths.

Guiding his stolen hippogryph toward the pair Abel let the curse flow away from him as he prepared to confront the pair, still trying to remember the damn night elf’s proper last name.

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