The Search for Payson

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After completing his evening stroll, Khorvis once again ascended the hidden stairs of his chambers. His spirits were high, and despite the tragedy of the circumstances of his birth, the orcish mind can be prone to moments of grandeur.

Father Maledictus is alive.

Simply assigning verbal form to the prayer gave the thought a power too great to be ignored. It would have been madness to dream it some few days ago, but now...

Now was the time to release the hounds. He could waste no time. Every night the trail grew colder, and the Grim could not depend upon the stupid luck that had graced both Reaper Bishoph and Khorvis's big toe.

Erect before an ancient standing deck carved of ebony and mahogany, the High Inquisitor let the chaos of the Nether, some few feet outside the enchanted glass of the observatory, roil and thunder over his pen.

Reaper Baalthemar,

You did be present in body and spirit at the Inquisition, three nights past. We both witnessed the evidence presented before the assembled Grim, from relics unearthed by both my boot and the new Reaper Steele. The tale of the Necromancer is not ended, despite the lore told to us. More still - he sought a greater weapon in the fight against the Alliance!

It do be our duty, as those sworn to the Mandate, to follow the trail left by Father Maledictus and win back this weapon for the Horde. "Penumbra" he writes. I do not know this word, and think it likely the object of arcanists or priests. None of our own has made any inquiry into the Archives, as far as the Keepers know, and likely there do be nothing to be found, if our comrades have failed to secure it.

The one who may know is this "Payson." I know not whether he or she still draws breath, for many years have passed since the days of the Rat, but it bears the diligence of our scouts.

I do task you, rogue, with finding Maledictus's last confidant and evoking from its lips every parcel of information that remains within its skull. Use any means necessary, the full weight of the Inquisition rides behind you.

Show us the way.

High Inquisitor Bloodstar

Edited by Khorvis

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Baalthemar walked into the Orgimmar bank, he had set up a secure box for any mail coming to him there, with his Garrison now little more than ash he had wanted a way for people to contact him while the location of his cabin was still kept a secret.


The goblin teller handed him his box and gave him a polite smile. “Here you are sir, anything else you need?” Baalthemar grunted and waved her away. “No, I’ll return when I’m finished. Thank you.” He waited until she was gone and opened the box.


Inside was a sealed message from the Grim, the wax seal and the tattered and stained letter told him it was from High Inquisitor Bloodstar. Baalthemar frowned, the last time he had been given an assignment from Khorvis he was tasked to aid the Rutilus Luna, a task that he in his mind had failed. He hadn’t been able to enact his plan to crush their demons under a tonne of rocks.


He sighed and picked up the letter, carefully he broke the seal with a small blade. Baalthemar read over the letter and slowly grinned. “Simple enough. Find Payson… and make them talk.” he folded the letter and tucked it into his pocket before he locked the box and returned it to the bank teller.


“Is that everything you needed today sir?” she asked as she pushed her glasses back up her face. Baalthemar gave her a slow twisted grin. “Oh yeah. That’s everything I need.” he turned on his heel and headed toward the exit.

Baalthemar’s mind raced, he thought about the mission he had been given. Maledictus's last confidant… Likely an undead, Undercity is the first stop then. He shruged. “A good a place to start as anywhere” he told himself before he headed for the zeppelin tower to start his search.

Edited by Baalthemar

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Baalthemar had searched for this Payson and each time he had been pointed to the same man, a wretch selling cockroaches in the streets. Baalthemar had watched him as he sold his bugs to passing adventures, he waited until the hour turned late and the foot traffic died down before he confronted the salesman.

Baalthemar slid down and sat opposite Payson, and studied him careful to be ready for a sudden change in temperament. Softly Baalthemar spoke. “Mr. Payson, I have some questions about an old colleague. Maledictus, I have come to understand you and he worked together. I’m going to ask you nicely only once. Tell me everything you know about ‘Penumbra’ and his work.”

Edited by Baalthemar

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The sludge-lit walls of the underworks, from a cursory vantage, seemed to shiver in fear at the approach of Reaper Baalthemar. Ancient sewers funneled the miasma of runoff from the blighted glades down among the cracks where Jeremiah Payson squatted upon all fours like some feral abberation. 

And yet, the aged sewer-rat was calm. Non-chalant and almost casual as the elf bluntly delivered his demands. Payson leaned back against the stone wall, which parted way for his skeletal form. The shivering of the underworks was then grotesquely revealed as the swarming of cockroaches beyond count. Chittering and alien, the insects climbed over each other in mounds, blanketing the stonework.

Payson smiled a gap-toothed expression that belied no attempt at cheer. A minuscule roach skittered out from the hole in his teeth and wormed its way down the vendor's leg.

"Now there's a name I ain't heard in an age. Maledictus..."

Rolling the name over rotten gums like the last sip of wine, the Forsaken watched Baalthemar and allowed the silence to stretch uncomfortably. The mouth-dwelling roach had wandered away from its master's cloth and braved the paving stone between its home and Baalthemar's boot.

"I see that tabard you wear. Not a day went by that ol' Maledictus didn't harp on about his Mandate. But why should I trust a word outta your head, stranger? Seems to me the Necroh-mancer got that anni-lation he'd been searchin' for. Least-wise, Father ain't been a bout to see me."

Payson punctuated his evasion by interlacing his hands behind his head, among the seething wall of cockroaches.

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Baalthemar’s jaw tightened, he was in no mood to ply his wit with this forsaken. Payson had been asked nicely and chosen to avoid telling him what he wanted to know. Baalthemar tilted his head to get a measure of the man before he grabbed him, quick as a bullwhip the undead was face down against the filth covered stone work floor. Baalthemar held him down with a knee to his back and his blade across the back of his neck.

“Trust that if you don’t tell me what I want to know Mr. Payson. That I will remove your roach-filled head and have others take what information we need from it.” 

Roaches scattered away from Payson as the oversized elf pressed his rotten skull harder into the unyielding stone.

Edited by Baalthemar

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Payson sputtered beligerent curses in Gutterspeak into the floorstones. He had forgotten the martial violence coursing through the Grim's ranks, to his own detriment.

"Let me up you long-haired freak! Take away your thrice-damned boot!"

Struggling and heaving, he slowly quieted against the cool metal of Baalthemar's knife. After a time, a slow weeping came from the wretched Forsaken. Between sobs, Payson yielding the information that the Reaper sought.

"Fine... whatever you want, elf. It's not like you kin bring back yer ol' Necrodaddy. Sure as Sylvanas's tits, he got sucked into the Void. Kept goin' on about old human lore and years gone past. Always hauntin' the old Scarlet Athenaeum. Them Scarlets be scared shitless of Maledictus! 'E said the library holds the records to that fuckin' Penumbra. Whatever the fel fuck it is ... now let me go!"

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Baalthemar pulled his knife away and removed his boot from Payson.

"See, that wasn't so hard." he threw the weeping man a small bag of gold coins. "Thank you for your time, Mr Payson. If this information doesn't check out. I'll be back for another talk..." He turned on his heel and headed out of Undercity toward the Grim halls in Tirisfal Glades.

Baalthemar walked out into the stale air of Lordaeron and tucked his cloak up around himself as the telltale signs of rain started to creep over the twisted forests. As he walked over the old cobble stones he thought about the words the undead man had spoken.

Scarlet Athenaeum, and a library of old human lore... Perhaps this will mean something to Khorvis.

Rain set in as he walked, by the time Baalthemar arrived at the guild halls and was standing in the high Inquisitors office he had been soaked to the bone. He dripped onto the messy office floor, water pooling around his feet as he gave his report.

Edited by Baalthemar

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Click, thud. Click, thud.

Khorvis's pacing had an anxious tempo, belying the orc's towering frame. He clipped to and fro behind the Desk of Resolve after hearing Baalthemar's report.

"This may be the trail we seek, Reaper. You of course have done bloody well, beating some sense into that roach, Payson."

The High Inquisitor finally noted the water dripping from the elf's cloak and gestured to the cold hearth and rickety wooden chair accompanying it. He clapped his meaty hands and in trudged a pair of peons bearing kindling and logs. Keeping their sullen heads bowed, they quickly assembled and lit a flame in the stone hearth. Under Khorvis's foul gaze, they scurried back into the Halls.

"You must not catch ill, Baalthemar," he said as the roaring flames baked away his guest's watery affliction. "There do be a strange wasting thing drifting about our ranks. Though it pains my old gut, it was told to me by the felmancer Ul'rezaj that Reaper Filora was taken by some shadowy illness. And he himself, the Harbinger, dwelt upon death's door from a wasting similar."

Khorvis paused for a moment and eyed the Reaper, searching for any hint of recognition. Failing that, he continued. "If what Payson said do be true, and the Necromancer did pass through the Scarlet Athenaeum, then the Inquisition will follow. Two fists of eyes do be better than one pair. We will set about it immediately."

The High Inquisitor stopped his pacing, his mind more at ease with a clear purpose, and took a seat behind his desk.

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