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Eclipse: Inquisitor

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Twelve Years Ago

The bullet ricocheted off the stone, dusting her target in splinters instead of knocking it off its stand. "This is pointless, Elphorus! I am a terrible shot." Saphiara sighed, readying the rifle for another shot and attempting to hand it back to its owner.

Said owner lounged on a nearby outcropping, grinning wickedly. "Could it be? Is there a skill too difficult for the Lady Saphiara Sunspell to master?"

She glowered at him. "I could have you flogged for that, peasant."

"Promises, promises." He hopped down off the rock, taking the rifle from her and inspecting it. "At least wait until I sneak into your tent tonight." He pressed the gun back into her arms, ignoring her protests. "Now, try again. And by try again, I mean stop trying so hard. You're so determined to be perfect that you're overthinking it. You could easily hit that target if you weren't trying to do the math in your head."

"You told me that marksmanship requires factoring a number of variables, including elevation, wind speed, temperature..."

He put a finger to her lips, silencing her with a huff. "All of those variables don't mean a thing if you can't even hit a mess can from fifty paces. I swear, for one of the smartest people I know, you can be kind of dumb sometimes."

Saphiara let out an irritated screech, shoving him back and lifting the sight to her eye in one smooth motion. She pulled the trigger, and a ping echoed in the canyon as the can tumbled end-over-end off its perch. The stunned silence was broken a moment later by a slow clapping.

"What did I say? Trust your gut. You have good instincts, Saphiara. You just have to believe in them."

Present Day

"Trust your gut." Easier said than done.

"Did you say something, Saphiara?" Durk'atar looked up from the notes he was taking, still planning some sort of masterful defense.

"Simply thinking about something my husband once told me."

The huntress regarded the shaman for a long moment. He had remained loyal to her through it all, even after she'd gone rogue and accidentally dragged all of Sanctuary onto a warpath. Her gut told her to trust him. Perhaps it was time to listen. She sat on the edge of her bed closest to the bars of her cell.

"I know you think me wrong for the attacks on Filora and Ninorra. That debate we can have another day. What about the others? The thieves, the murderers, the traitors. Do you find me unjustified for hunting them?"

Durk'atar looked up, surprise blatant on his face at her sudden decision to converse after several days of near-silence. He put his parchement down and considered her question. "To be blunt? For all our efforts to civilize ourselves, to make the Horde legitimate in the eyes of the Alliance, orc culture still chooses violence as a tool. Perhaps the tauren have the patience for trials, but even your people seem to rely on the law less these days. To most of the Horde, a trial of words instead of combat is little more than goblin showmanship."

"So you agree with my actions."

"In part. Both Juiliee and Vilmah are cautious leaders; they choose to react to circumstances rather than create them." He chuckled. "I think it fitting that both are warriors who prefer the shield. They weather the attack, then push back." The shaman leaned back, obviously engaged in the topic. "You and I, we prefer to ensure the attack never comes. They blunt the snake's fangs, we cut the snake's head off. I will not go so far to say one method is better than the other. Both have their merits."

Saphiara rested her back against the wall. "Here comes the however."

The shaman grinned. "However, our method is certainly a more dangerous path. I said that I agree with you in part. The part that I do not agree with is that you were the sole judge and executioner. I would be foolish to allow the axe to choose who to strike, because it would choose to strike everyone. That is, after all, its purpose, and it would choose to fulfill it as often as it could."

The huntress closed her eyes and sighed. She debated explaining to her friend that she had not been the judge, that she had been driven by the ghosts of the fallen. Then she second-guessed that urge, because it began to sound like insanity even to herself. She would rather be found guilty than insane. Instead, she remained silent while Durk'atar continued.

"The world is changed forever. Thanks to Hellscream, we've now witnessed exactly how dangerous the Horde is. There are threats within our ranks as deadly as those without. Have you heard of a creature called Accalia?"

She shook her head no. Save for the brief stint she'd been with Sanctuary around the opening of the red Dark Portal, she'd been virtually alone for several years. News was scarce in the wilderness.

"Some kind of ancient creature from beyond. Seems to curse individuals in order to consume their magical energy, with plans to use this magic to enter our world and destroy it. I bring it up because members of the Horde are helping to spread this curse, intentionally or not. Yet, there has been no move to contain the victims or eliminate the instigators. And so, the curse spreads like a virus."

Ah, the Eclipse incident. She'd heard about it when Blood Knights had been targeted. "Your point being, Sanctuary needs to consider the Horde as an obstacle to peace and treat it accordingly."

"Yes, but not the way you did it. Such moves must be considered, and sanctioned."

Saphiara stood. "Win me freedom from this cell, and I will gladly sacrifice any honor I may have remaining. I will serve in Sanctuary's shadow, striking in secret where the guild cannot strike openly. I will become an Inquisitor."

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