Keraph

Deathless Service

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A heavy blade sinks with a thunk into the wall, far from the first embedded in the dark stone of Infection's derelict hall. A skeletal hand sheathed in black plate wrenches it free, only to throw it forcefully against the opposite wall, shattering a weathered bookshelf as it sinks deeply into solid stone. The hand curls into a fist and slams into a desk of darkened wood, the battered but sturdy piece of furniture weathering the blow impressively well. A dour, raspy voice fills the room, first in a growl but escalating quickly into a full-on tirade.

"How DARE those wretches presume to lay claim to what is rightfully ours! They say they want a war but refuse to sanction Her finest war-bringers, insisting instead on vain attempts to consolidate their personal power and vaunting their indirect and disappointingly underhanded means. They bark like Blighthounds but have yet to commit to a damned thing save for standing in our way. And now, instead of supporting the return of Her elite, when the time is finally right to pull ourselves from the shadows, they dare to instead rebuke and decry our continued purpose, and seek to leverage our assets as their own! The List, the arsenal, the Northrend laboratory, this very hall for the sake of expanding Council quarters...the vanity! The arrogance!"

The undead warrior punctuates his frustration with another violent slam of the desk, which stubbornly resists its inevitable destruction. Figures wrapped in shadow simply nod or remain silent, while others listened from remote and indeterminate locations. All were accustomed to such outbursts from the Warlord of Infection, the erstwhile Elite of the Dark Lady. Though the fold fell into public disbandment years ago following treasonous suspicious and a wave of executions, there were those who knew that all was not as it seemed, that in shadowy passageways and under cover of darkness a force still worked in the Banshee Queen's favor, split to the farthest reaches of Forsaken infrastructure and buried under layers of political facade. In secret, over the course of years the deck was slowly stacked to warrant an empowered return, but the shifting landscape of the Horde and an infuriatingly placid lack of action from the bureaucratic council of Forsaken government had as of yet prevented any significant progress.

The Warlord's ire had been building slowly, but recent events had stoked it into a burning flame. The frustrating conditions within the ruling body of the Forsaken had finally seemed to be shifting to a more favorable state, marked by an influx in new officials over the last many months as existing functionaries turned up dead, or worse. These new bureaucrats seemed united by a fresh drive for war against the enemies of Lordaeron, which seemed to pave the way for Infection's return. However, instead of support they advocated for a full disbandment and seizure of assets in order to suit their own selfish goals, and while their talk of war and a new rise of Forsaken power played well to the people and Infection's agenda, there was no indication of any real action forthcoming to support such demagoguery.

Worse, the ascension of these new ministers seemed all too convenient to be borne purely of unfortunate coincidence. Conspiracy and skulduggery was not uncommon in the Undercity, but for the network still under Keraph's command to be incapable of deducing any connecting ties among the deaths and degradations was troubling. Some conservative council members turned up dead, but far more of those replaced had slipped into that feral, Scourgelike state that any upstanding Forsaken dreaded returning to. The effects of brain rot and other contributing factors that could lead to such a decline were not yet completely cured by the good work of the Royal Apothecary Society, but the rate of incident was at a historic low, in great part due to the fact that by this point most who had advanced symptoms had already fallen, and preventative measures helped keep many more in safer boundaries. If there was some sort of engineered method to circumvent those measures, or otherwise accelerate undead degeneration, that would be a problem for all of the Forsaken, and a weapon to kept tightly in check.

The darkly armored warrior stalked through the derelict hall, forcefully dislodging a different large, wicked blade from a sundered table that suffered his wrath earlier in the day. He approaches a separate platform near the middle of the room, an ornate pedestal marked with a number of small purple crystals and centered by a much larger, less-refined gem of the same source. As he was speaking, the larger crystal had pulsed with a dim glow, his words traveling to the agents of Infection spread across the dark corners of Azeroth and beyond. Presently he ran his skeletal fingers across some of the smaller gems, and in a moment all were aglow with the same sickly light as the largest.

"Infection, the time has come to once again take action in defense of Queen and Kingdom. Secure our foreign assets, and ensure that in the worst case there is little that can be pried from us. Report to our quarters in Undercity as quickly as you are able, and remain discrete. I am going to have some words with the dear bureaucrats who would presume to stand in our way." He did not wait to hear a confirmation from the other Forsaken before the heavy doors of the guild hall slammed shut behind him.

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Visara grinned widely from his shadowy perch in the towers over Lordaeron as the call came forth, the rage evident in the Warlord's voice at some unknown (to him) slight against the forsaken.  "Finally." his dark raspy voice said to no one present as he surveyed the reserve troops training about the once proud city's streets, an abomination idly took long languid steps in it's patrols. Along a wall he spotted a Dark Ranger peering at him searchingly, most likely questioning his credentials and authorization. His grin never faded as he blew her a kiss in silence, she rolled her eyes and continued on her appointed patrol.

Finally activating his communication crystal his voice echoed out among the members of her Majesty's elite "Quickly and discreet, I'm not sure that I can do both at once warlord...as such..I think I will opt in favor of quickly."  

With that Visara lept from his perch atop the tower allowing gravity a moment of control before twisting his body in such a way to rake his claws into the stone slowing his descent he purred at the perfect timing of the huntress on her patrol near the bottom of the tower looked up to see what was happening, she saw only a puff of smoke as he appeared behind her his momentum bowling her over in the process as he rolled over the poor girl he planted a kiss on the back of her neck and then vanished into the shadows as he continued on his way to the sanctum. 

On arrival he threw open the oversized gothic doors and wandered in with slumped shoulders. "So!" he shouted boisterously. "Who will be the subject of divine art this time!?" 

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A dull purple glow fades from the rafters of the guild hall as Marroc stares at the crystal in his hand. "It's about time the warlord decided to act..."

Slipping silently through the darkness to one of the few doors in the hall not in disrepair, Marroc deftly picks the elaborate lock and disarms the traps before entering his quarters. The dim light of the crystal is barely enough to discern row after row of arms and armor. Several alcoves align each wall of the room, prominently displaying ancient dust covered artifacts and tomes. Along the far wall, in an alcove bigger than the rest, sits a stone table with a book and behind that several locked chests.

A moment of sifting through the dust covered chests and crates Marroc finally finds what he came for. A pair of timeworn daggers, smoldering with fel energy and brimstone, and a small vial of viscous poison. "It has been far too long since I've been allowed to act in the open. The Dark Lady will be pleased indeed."

A wicked smile crosses Marroc's lips as he vanishes in a cloud of ash and shadows.

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Nadea looked around the room carefully. She could have sworn she heard something...a familiar sound, but what was it? Although this room was only a temporary roof over her head, she had all of her belongings on hand. Even those that one would no longer call useful, and it definitely came from that corner of the room.

“Biztik, come here!” she barked at the imp, who bounced over, already with wine in hand for the Baroness. He carefully handed over the goblet of wine and awaited his next order.

“I heard something over there. Go through my chest and find out what it is. We must make sure there are no spies about,” Nadea said to the imp as she sipped from the drink handed to her. “We've done so well for so long, though the winds of change are among us, I feel it.”

Ever since the incident years ago, Nadea hopped from location to location frequently, only existing to serve her Queen. Only recently had she finally given in and gone back to the Royal Apothecary Society, which was dangerous enough in itself; but she trusted her Dark Lady. Afterall, Nadea was one of her few Elite.

So many evenings had she thought about the events that occurred years past. The great escape from the guild hall after the Warlord ordered for her execution, Life was rough for a while- hiding from the members of Infection and withholding information even from her own. The Shadow had tried to find her more than once but failed. Nadea's heart ached every time she thought of her most loyal Forsaken disciple, hoping she had managed to keep herself out of trouble.

Biztik shuffled through the trunk across the room. After a moment, he gasped, immediately recognizing where the noise was coming from. He pulled out a small glowing stone. There were no spies about; that noise was coming from the Warlord himself. Amazed that she had kept the communication stone from her former fold, he quickly crossed the room and threw the stone at his Master.

Nadea sighed at the object her minion had found. She had forgotten all about the stone and was shocked it still even worked. She would not respond to it, however.

“The hour of the Forsaken has once again risen. They'll find me there, there's no doubt,” she said to the imp, her eyes glowing with the fel energy that was more ingrained in her soul than ever. “The Warlord will pay for his aggressions.”

But what of the others? Surely the ranks of the fold would soon fill up once more, there to serve their Queen in her time of need. Nadea clenched her fist and slammed it on the table next to her. This was not the time to fight with the others. Like it or not, they needed her. Not many Forsaken were closer to Lady Sylvanas than the Dark Baroness herself. She would have to deal with the Warlord on her own time.

“For the Dark Lady. For Honor.. For Infection,” she muttered the words under her breath as she dug through her belongings for her tabbard. Now all that was left was to pack up once more...and see the fold- and the Warlord- when they all got to their destination.

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Rolphemona sat motionless in the small shack in Tirisfal. The enchanted set of ears circled the perimeter, staying low to the ground. The mage had carefully purged all wildlife from the immediate area after nearly losing one of them to an unusually large rat. 

"This is what we're reduced to," the floating lips whispered. Rolphemona swatted them away. He was still doing his duty, that was all he needed.

"Could have more," the lips added. They'd been doing that a lot lately. He'd ruled out other influences, leading him to conclude that they were speaking on behalf of some inner voice of his own. The jawless mage made use of the enchanted lips to speak, but why he'd kept them... He hadn't needed to speak in months.

"Could go to the mountains. Could slice up some bandits," the lips suggested. 

Maybe they weren't all bad.

As the mage stood, he heard a distant noise. It sounded familiar... He recalled the enchanted ears. He realized the sound was coming from inside the shack... And now he knew what it was. He removed the stone from the small bag he carried. Listening to the warlord's message, the lips stretched into a grin. Rolphemona stared at them for a moment before turning his attention towards preparations. It had been some time since a visit to the Undercity, and while he'd kept himself busy, nothing could quite compare to what he could do under the banner of Infection. It was time for a return to proper service.

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