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Catalinetta

Lie - Die - Sanctify

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"I see they are growing nearer, Librarian," the dreadlord said calmly, his voice reverberating through the exposed bones of his face. Battle scarred from what looked to be many years of battle, he wore the armor of a warlord and carried what looked like a trident fashioned by the Naga.

The Inquisitor beside him continued to write in his book. Brown and grey, the book appeared to be hewn from the skin of several different eredar. As far as Inquisitors went, the Librarian was quite tall and emaciated. His eyeless face was partially hidden behind a black and red hood. "Yes, lord Udoroth."

"Soon these mortal cretins will be further along than even Kil'jaeden expected," Udoroth sighed, as if this were of little consequence. "The Tomb of Sargeras will be infiltrated. Kil'jaeden is a fool if he thinks he can win this battle with force alone."

The Librarian looked up from his book. "My lord?"

Udoroth grinned. "He needs a helping hand, I am sure.."

Another scribble in his book.

"Yes, my lord."

"Perhaps.. a way to keep them distracted, Librarian?"

A pause. "There are ways, my lord."

"Fine then. Keep them busy. I'm sure it won't be difficult to make these pests claw at one another."

The Librarian grinned to himself. It would be easier than Udoroth expected.

_____________________________________________

The walls of Light's Hope Chapel were scrubbed daily. Not because they were particularly filthy, but it provided a steady source of labor for misbehaving squires. One such misbehaving squire was a human girl, perhaps ten or twelve years old. As she scrubbed the walls with a stiff wet brush, filthy water splashed into her face. Wiping it from her one eye, she didn't bother avoiding the large scar tissue that covered half of her skull. She arrived in the chapel only a few years ago, and none of the other squires seemed particularly keen on befriending the strange-talking disfigured human. It was difficult to make friends, so she made bruises instead. Her punishment - scrub the walls.

Fortunately, scrubbing the walls sometimes supplied her with some valuable information. On this, her second day of punishment, she could hear two paladins speaking in grave voices. There had been some firm discussions since the Ebon Blade's attack, but they sounded particularly weary today. One of them, a female, spoke firmly to a rather weak sounding Sin'dorei male. Both spoke Common, which seemed unusual.

"That letter you sent to Sanctuary regarding Sir Vyel's recovery, was it ever answered?"

"No ma'am," the male answered. "He returned shortly after it was received."

"And the death knight that you witnessed? The one who scarred him? Is she still in their employ?"

The male stuttered. "I-I... I really would not know, ma'am. I have little, if any information on their organization."

The female sighed. "Very well, Jean Baptiste. Perhaps this situation frustrates me more than I  am willing to admit. The attack on our chapel was cowardly, but we are at war with the Legion and cleaning up these loose ends will take up valuable resources. Nevertheless," she continued a little louder, as if angry with him. "We can not let this injustice stand. The Ebon Blade will give us little in the way of answers, but our supposed 'allies' have provided us with the name of a rogue death knight that was apparently at the forefront of this attack."

"..ma'am? Their leader?"

"Not their leader," she corrected quickly. "But after viciously wounding sir Vyel and almost becoming incinerated with the Light, she left the Ebon Blade's ranks. They have attempted to apprehend her with little triumph. We have been warned that this could be a sign of her going feral, which would be a problem for  us."

"Ma'am.. I do not understand."

"Let me make it clear, then. That death knight not only scarred sir Vyel, but she may be responsible for many other deaths. If she goes feral and the Ebon Blade can not control her, it is up to us to make certain it is done. The blood of our comrades may be on her hands, yet she has been given 'Sanctuary'."

Jean Baptiste seemed to stutter. "..b...but.. if sir Vyel is there, surely--"

"Reach out to his old friend, the Vanguard" the female said, calmly now. "Tell her to go and see sir Vyel. She will question him about the death knight, and if his answers are unsatisfactory, she will be brought in for trial."

"T-trial, ma'am?"

The woman's voice was resigned. "Someone will see justice for the blood spilled in this holy place. Of that, you can be certain."

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It was a quiet day in the chapel, one lacking in the usual sounds of business as most of the Silver Hand made their way in and out of the Broken Isles. As the Legion continued to assault their world, the paladins found that there was little time to be spent in prayer. The lights filtering in through the chapel were muted by stained glass, and reflected off of the backs of those who were either too young or too old to fight. The former typically trained the latter, and though most were outside, a handful remained inside, kneeling. One of them, a human woman of middle age, stood from her place in the pews.

Raelana entered the chapel stiffly. It had been some time since she entered the holy place and she took a minute to glance around, noting any subtle differences since she last was there. The silence in the chapel made her uncomfortable and Raelana shifted and rubbed a non-existent crease in her freshly pressed tabard. Finally, she walked forward as quickly and quietly as she could and stood next to the woman.

The human turned to face Raelana, a calm-yet-stern expression on her face. Her dark brown hair was tied back into a tight ponytail, pulling at the corners of her tanned face. Thin creases at the edges of her mouth were beginning to darken in recent years. She looked like the type of woman who had seen a lot of hardship. "Raelana, yes?" She asked quietly in Common, not bothering to ask if the other paladin spoke her human tongue. "Lady Liadrian said that I should expect you."

Raelana stared for a moment longer at the front of the chapel while a half smile appeared. Amused at the assumption that she spoke multiple languages, but even more grateful that she actually did, she turned to face the human. She bowed her head slightly, acknowledging the human, before speaking. "Yes, my name is Raelana. Apologies must be made, Lady Liadrin's message gave me no other information, other than I needed to come here... and quickly."(edited)

"Well, given the current situation on the Broken Shore, I would not disagree with her. Please, walk with me," the human said gently, turning toward the hall so as not to disturb those in prayer.

"My name is Najme. I have been with the Silver Hand for some time, now," she said as they walked toward the front doors. "Unfortunately, an injury has kept me from being able to provide aid in the fight against the Legion. So I remain here, training and educating the next generation. I was here when we were attacked by the Ebon Blade. Were you present when that happened?"

Raelana silently followed Najme, trying to pick up clues as to why she was called. "No, I unfortunately was not present. I had received word there was an attack, but at the time was told not to return and continue working on my current assignment. If it's no trouble, would you provide me with the details?"

"Of course." Najme stopped walking somewhere near the front doors. "Weeks ago, while most of the Silver Hand was assigned to the Broken Isles, we were invaded by a force of Death Knights. Since the Legion has returned, the Ebon Blade has been resurrecting heroes for the purpose of leading them. Supposedly, this was commanded by the Lich King himself. According to our sources, he believed that it was necessary to resurrect Tirion Fordring, in the hopes that he might lead them against the Legion. I needn't explain how very insulting that is, both to his memory and to his very soul.. but they attacked us to do this vile thing, and many of our comrades were killed in the process. As I said, the most skilled among us were in the isles. Those of us remaining were the wounded, or the old.."

She shook her head.

"Lady Liadrin arrived and did battle with their leaders. The Light would not allow such a vile thing to happen, and the Ebon Blade was driven back. Thankfully they failed in their mission, but not without many casualties."

"My gods... Tirion?" She scoffed. "I'm beginning to understand why I was requested specifically. These types of situations are exactly within my  skill set." She pauses, thinking. "To attack those unable to defend themselves...they must be desperate. Hopefully they would not be so foolish as to make another attempt." She takes a deep breath in, fairly certain she knows exactly why she was called upon. "How have relations been with the Ebon Blade since?"

"As one can imagine, not good. We waited until some time had passed before actually attempting to reach out to their leadership. They seemed intent on ignoring us completely until we threatened to take it up with Horde and Alliance leadership, at which point they offered us a peace treaty; a name. Someone who was involved in the attack, and is no longer a member of their ranks." Najme shook her head. "Not only did she leave after their failure, but she has been identified as the death knight who nearly mortally wounded sir Cerryan Vyel. I believe he is a colleague of yours."

"They gave... a name?" Raelana closed her eyes briefly as the gravity of the situation became more clear. She opened her eyes and lookd at Najme. "They gave a name and nothing else?" She shakes her head in disbelief. "I suppose that's better than nothing. Perhaps we can get some more information from her." Choosing her words carefully, she continued, "What is her name and where is she now? Hopefully no one is vacuous enough to seek revenge before she can be... debriefed." Hesitating for a moment, she finally inquires, "And Vyel? What is the word on his recovery?"

"Vyel has recovered. He has returned to Sanctuary, and, to my knowledge, is still in active duty." Ashe she said this, Najme seemed almost pleased. "As for her name, it will be a familiar one to him. Catalinetta D'Aragon, also of Sanctuary. As far as we know, she has been working with them since the incident. The Ebon Blade attempted to apprehend her themselves, but she eluded capture. Therefore it is our responsibility to bring her to justice."

Breathing out a sigh of relief, she simply stated, "Well, at least something is working in our favor." She didn’t elaborate anymore as to what she was referring to. She looked at Najme, raising an eyebrow and bluntly asked, "And what justice do you think is befitting?"

"I would not be so bold as to suggest an immediate execution," Najme said calmly. "But she must face a trial, and answer to her crimes. If not for her own sake, but for the sake of those she and the Ebon Blade have hurt. Allowing them to go without punishment is inexcusable."

Raelana only nodded in response, her face hiding her true opinion well. "The expert in battle moves the enemy and is not moved by him," she responded cryptically. "Perhaps it's time for an introduction to one Catalinetta D'Aragon?"

"I would suggest first speaking with Cerryan. I have also briefed one Tamaryth on the situation. She will be joining you."

"I shall wait for Tamaryth before proceeding." Raelana bowed her head to Najme. "Light be with you."

"Light be with you," Najme replied with a respectful bow.

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Posted (edited)

The gray skinned, white haired death knight had not left the forge in over a week. During that time she had not stopped her work save to request additional information on the armament she was to create. It was a testament to undead resilience but to anyone who knew of her, a reason to be concerned.

The longer the elf went without feeding, the more distant she became as the agony increased and her skin went stiff like stone to become more receptive to the flood of life energy. As a result, her blows were fueled by unapparent anger.

The reason for such was the Ebon Blade's lax approach to the enemies in their midst. What were they doing to prepare for the Silver Hand's inevitable counter-attack? Why had they done NOTHING when the Crimson Legion sent the head of one of their knights back in a box? Why were they focusing only on the Legion? it was by far the biggest threat, but a dagger in the back would cripple you just as surely.

Impotent and angry, she stayed by the runeforges, churning out weapons to be given to new and recovered knights as they fought the foes of the Deathlord.

Azilrog lumbered to the forges, grunting through his thick metal plating. He reeked of the unholy odor most death knights do, especially in Archerus. He watched her metalwork intently, folding his plated arms across his chest. "Your work is going to get sloppier the longer you keep at this."

" My worst piece is still miles better than most knights' best." she responded, though she took his words into consideration enough to douse the blade in the trough and hand it off to one of the skeletal servitors and look towards the orc. She knew him by repuation, especially after the show produced last time with the suicidal elves. " Did they put you in charge of reanimation or did Whitemane decide we need to talk about our feelings now?" The name was spoken with a unmasked dislike.

The orc shook his head. "I'm only trying to keep the war machine of our order burning. We can't do that with emotions getting in the way, or with brittle runeblades." His voice is hoarse, still recovering from its rupture.

" If the Blade is brittle it is a reflection of the wielder who carves himself into it and bonds to the blade. Not just its creator. Why, have there been complaints?"

"Not yet, but there's nothing wrong in preemptive measure." He straightened, assessing the elf. "What's troubling you?"

" Tyr's hand is still infested with Scarlet groupies. One flyby from Stormrender and it would be a corpse filled ruin... We always need the ghouls. Yet the Deathlord won't spare even one Wyrm, even when those arrogant fools mailed back one of our members in a BOX."

" I'm worried that this offensive has attached blinders to us.'

"We gain more Knights than we lose on the battlefield, even with the Scarlet and Paladin blowback. As for blinders, the Legion is the primary threat, and the only real threat. The Deathlord and the new Highlord recognize that. Anything else can be dealt with once the Legion is vindicated."

" If all we needed to worry about was moving forward. WE would save time and material and only make half a breastplate. I don't know how much experience you have with "Holy men" but they don't take what they consider a trespass and turn the other cheek. They will strike at us as soon as they don't need us...Maybe even give us the nudge while under pressure so we fall.  These thoughts plague me. I worry more about our former teammates than I do the Legion at this point."

Azilrog's face twisted into a frustrated frown. "And so? The Silver Hand does not match our numbers, they do not match our strength in battle, and whereas the Highlord has the Light on their side, we maintain the allegiance of the Lich King. Should they strike at us, the Scourge will strike at them, and us beside them."

She gestured to him as if he had just proven her point. " This sort of attitude is what lead to our loss so many times before. We assume numbers and strength are all we need. Yet the last Lich king fell despite having five times the force that the Scourge holds now. We have improved but so have they. To treat the possibility of counterattack as unimportant is nearly welcoming critical damage to our cause. You forget that we would not be facing just the Silver hand but the acolytes of Nertherlight temple as well. Their power has too many unknown variables...Meanwhile we have not changed."

There was an approaching sound of heavy footsteps as a female tauren appeared beside Dessim.and Azilrog. She wore heavy plate, but her pale white face splotched with brown spots went uncovered. "Azilrog Deathrage," she said in a hollow sounding voice, her face neutral. "Supposedly, there is another defector within Sanctuary's ranks. This one calls himself 'Ghostslayer'. With a name like that, he may already have gone mad. Find him and either retrieve him, or put an end to him. We have suffered enough embarrassments already."

" ... Not sure if that group just has an unfortunate soft spot for sob stories or if it's TRYING to piss people off."

"Whatever the case may be, put an end to it. The Silver Hand is already barking at our door and we do not need another excuse for them to distract us from our battle on the Broken Isles."

" Barking at our doors? Have they made demands or are they still writing angry letters?"

The tauren huffed through her nose, as if the very question annoyed her. "They demand justice for the lives lost at Lights Hope. Clearly we have more important matters to concern ourselves with, so they were given the name of another stray to busy themselves with."

" Justice... What would that even mean, allowing them to pick through our ranks and eliminate whoever they pleased?"

"I am sure they intended on holding our leadership responsible or some other such nonsense to soothe their broken egos. We have bought ourselves time with this peace offering, so I suggest we use that time to clean up these loose ends."

The elf huffed and hooked her hammer back onto her belt. " Two turncoats won't be enough... And it sends the wrong message."

"It will never be enough for them, but it will relieve us of their idiocy and for the time being allow us to focus on the Broken Shore. You have a better idea?"

" Right now? No... But the idea that we will sic the rabid zealots of the Silver Hand upon you should you choose another path feels like we are insulting what was fought for in the North. We fought for liberation from the Lich King... Even if this isn't the same, promoting a 'with us or against us' mindset feels like the old way we overthrew."

" Personally, I would have dug up more reasons to convince our numbers that Fordring's retrieval wasn't only necessary, but that the ranks of the Hand deserved thinning. Would have been easy if we just monitored the Brotherhood of Light members. Their zealotry is more than enough to arouse anger."

Sunsong shook her head slowly. "Our members understand well enough why Fordring's retrieval was a pivotal necessity. That is not the issue. The issue is cleaning up stray dogs in our ranks, and that is exactly what must happen if we are to continue this alliance with the living."

" If you say so... Perhaps looking into their dogs wouldn't hurt though. They are barely united by a related belief, surely there are secrets that would turn their attention upon their own organization for a time."

The tauren turned her head to one side. "..are you volunteering?"

" If need be... Though it would be better suited to someone with tact."

Sunsong didn't appear particularly interested in 'tact'. "See what you can find. We are death knights, not diplomats. If you can find anything of value, it may be useful to us once the Legion threat is extinguished."

" Guess I could use a moment away from the forge." She shrugs

"Good. Report back here with your findings. And you," she looked again at @Azilrog . "Take care of our 'Ghost Slayer'."

Azilrog nods and salutes. "It will be done."

Sunsong gave each death knight a salute and returned to her post.

Dessim saluted wearily and strode away. She had to open her big mouth..

Edited by Catalinetta
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Posted (edited)

Tamaryth was found in the small training area in the chapel, supervising some aspiring crusaders as they practiced. She was a blood elf, with dark hair and stern features. Her armor was red and gold, and glimmered in the lantern light. As Raelana approached, she steps forward, and delivered a stinging rebuke with the flat of her blade to the sloppy arm of a recruit. "Arm in," she ordered. The recruit nodded and sheepishly stooped to retrieve his weapon he had dropped. She put her armored boot on it. "And never," she saaid, lowering her voice to a low growl, "let go of your weapon. Ever."

Raelana leaned up against the cool, stone wall watching Tamaryth train. Her hands rested on the hilt of her fiery blade out of habit, but as always she was alert of her surroundings. She caught Tamaryth's eye and bowed her head lightly out of respect and approval of her methods. It had been a long time since she was in training, more than ten years, but the methods hadn’t changed much.

Tamaryth stepped back, letting the berated recruit retrieve his weapon. She caught Raelana's eye and nodded slightly. "Fifty strikes on the practice dummy," she said to the recruit, then turned walk over to where Raelana was waiting. "Can I help you?" she inquired.

Standing up as tall as she could (which was not very tall at all), she spoke quickly and quietly. "I'm looking for Tamaryth. She knows why I'm here." Raelana said it matter of factly, certain she had found her, but unwilling to give out more information until it was confirmed.

"She might, if she knew who you were," the blood elf responded. "Though at this point I'm going to go ahead and assume you're Raelana. Najme told me you'd be assigned to me." She sheathed her sword.

Raelana's hand squeezed the hilt of her sword slightly. Her green eyes flickered in the candlelight and her fiery hair seemed to match her temperament. She looked hard at the blood elf before relaxing her grip, but not releasing the haft from her grasp. "Ambassador Raelana de Bergerac, at your service," she said with a brief bow of her head. "Please forgive the formalities. When you're in my line of work, you can never be too careful." She gave Tamaryth a half smile. "I'm sure you know how that can be." She paused as a recruit sauntered by slowly, only proceeding when no one else was within earshot. "I was called upon to aid in the situation; however I was only recently filled in on what's going on. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it."

Tamaryth folded her arms. "We have someone to bring to justice," she said. "Ironically, she's ensconced herself in a guild that claims to be devoted to justice." She scoffs. "I hope for their sake they're unaware of her crimes. If they're not, and they've been willingly sheltering her, they're guilty of collusion and their leaders will have to stand trial as well."

"Anything I should know about this guild? I believe Najme said Sanctuary. Seems an appropriate guild considering what she's accused of. Honestly, I'm surprised she's still a member, when you consider the fact she attacked one of their own. Do we know where..." She paused suddenly as another recruit slowly walks by, obviously trying to see what was going on. "...she is? Will any of the members give us trouble when we go to bring her in?"

"Their headquarters is in Dalaran," Tamaryth said. "I've heard stories about them that make their actions less surprising. They're a rogue outfit by all accounts. We can certainly expect trouble. We'll start with their leader and see if we can convince her to turn over the fugitive. Unless you have another idea?" she added, almost as a token comment.

Raelana pulled forth some parchment and glanced at her notes. "The greatest victory is that which requires no battle. I do indeed have another idea." Her face lit up as she looked over her notes. "Yes a very good idea indeed," she muttered to herself, a grin slowly building on her face. "Why start with the leader at all? Sir Cerryan Vyel is in the perfect position to help us appeal to the guild. Not to mention I want a chance to meet him." She looks at Tamaryth, then quickly adds, "To get his opinion on things of course.”

Tamaryth’s lips twisted in a little annoyance. "I suppose we can do that," she said. "We can summon him here. If nothing else, an explanation for why he tolerates her presence, or tolerates the guild that harbors her, is one that should be answered."

Raelana raised one of her eyebrows and gave a disapproving look, but didn’t say anything to contradict or disagree with her statement. "We both have questions we want to ask and things we need explained. Would you like to summon him now?"

"Yes, we shouldn't waste any more time." Tamaryth looked back at the recruit, who was struggling to raise his sword to complete the task she had given him, his arm leaden after so many swings. It was a cruel punishment, but if he managed to hold onto his blade for the duration, he'd be less likely to drop it under trying circumstances in the future. "I'll send a page."

Edited by Catalinetta

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T'suro knocked on Cerryan's office door. The voice that responded was terse. "Yes, what is it?"

"I wished to talk... but if you're too busy." T'suro replied.

There was a sigh before Cerryan responded. "No, come in. I apologize, I am just a bit overwrought."

T'suro stepped in, giving his older superior a salute before approaching the desk. "What's the matter?"

"It's everything. It's the attack on Shal'Aran that I should have been there for. It's the attack on Light's Hope that still burns in my mind when my eyes close. It's Shokkra missing, Karthok plotting, Kanda...." Cerryan sucked in a breath, and released it slowly. "It's the Legion intensifying their crusade on the heels of the victories we've been able to secure."

T'suro sighed and nodded slowly. "I can understand all of that. I've been doing my part, but sometimes I feel as if it's just... overwhelming. This actually plays into what I wanted to discuss with you, though. Lady Liadrin has accepted my request, and supplied us with a deployment of some fresh Blood Knight recruits. There's only four of them, but they're all freshed face and eager to work." T'suro leaned against the desk and sighed again. "I already told the commander, but I'm worried they might feel unwelcome here, even with my presence. Perhaps you could speak with them?"

Cerryan nodded. "I'd be happy to. Additional support from the Blood Knights will be welcome. Light knows what further predations we can expect from the Felborne who struck at us. The knights should have little to worry about, Liadrin's forces are not unwelcome here and we're stretched thinly enough that the aid will go a long way."

T'suro gave the other paladin a smile. "That would be wonderful." His face fell again. "But, wait... we'd need to house them... surely the guard barracks have some empty bunks?"

"I am sure that accommodations can be made, and at worst we can outsource to a local inn. They're as far away from home as we are; small comforts are the least we can do."

T'suro nodded. "Fair enough, I suppose. Consider this an official request then." He chuckled.

Cerryan nodded. "Now to determine how they will provide support. There are a few options I can think of at least; Shal'Aran could benefit from the security of extra hands, of course. Security here is still never in small demand, what with the latest incursion upon our compound. I wonder if..."

The paladin was interrupted by another knock on his door. A moment later, a young page bearing the markings of the Silver Hand entered the room and nervously delivered a summons  to Cerryan from one High Justicar Tamaryth. The paladin nodded and dismissed the page, then turned back to T'suro. "Well then, I suppose we will have to revisit this. I do not want to keep the Silver Hand waiting."

T'suro raised a curious brow. "Silver Hand business? Hmm... Might I accompany you? Our orders are joined together nowadays."

"Yes, of course. I was going to ask you to anyways. I have a feeling I know what this is about."  With that, Cerryan stood and led the two of them out of the office and towards Light's Hope.

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Moving through Acherus slowly, Regdar spoke softly to the human that walked with him. He wore red plate, polished and adorned with the expected skulls of his class, clanking along like everyone else that refused to lose their armor.

"Things haven't changed much," he explained to the blonde human. "But I think you've made the right decision in returning. We all understand that Tirion's loss was tragic, and of course I respect that he was the one that was able to defeat Arthas once and for all. But the chips are down, Gelart. The Legion wants to annihilate every single one of us. I did the right thing and you did the right thing by trying to get one of our most powerful back in the game. Your friends will forgive you, with time."

They stopped at the rune forges, and Regdar put a comforting hand on the cracked plate of the humans' shoulder. "I fought paladins for decades, and I understand the power that comes from their convictions, that righteousness they feel. But you and I aren't powered by that. We're powered by the opposite, almost. We should be murderous monsters with the magics that keep us all walking and talking. But we're not. And we're not the heroes that the Paladins are, that you once were. They get to be heroes and they need to be heroes. When they're powered by their own faith and nobility, they can't have the kind of doubt and choice that you and I do."

"I doubted our attack on Light's Hope, and you did, too. It's why you chose to leave, right?" Gelart nodded slowly and somberly. "But you chose to come back because you see the bigger picture. And you choose to stay, even though you know there are going to be death knights that you don't agree with. That choice is always yours, I'm not going to force you into it and neither is Acherus."

"But what I want you to do is tap into some of that ol' paladin conviction. And I don't want you to dedicate it to us, there are plenty of things to doubt coming, I'm sure. Dedicate it to the war with the Legion. Be the best soldier that you can be killing the most demons that you can kill. And if you think that the best way to do that is by coming here and using the resources we have to offer, then you know you made the right choice. Don't let me convince you of that. Let you convince you of that."

Regdar let a few moments pass. This was the pitch he had given a hundred times, but Gelart didn't need to know that. He was just as conflicted as so many of the others. He knew that the Ebon Blade were taking the fight to the Legion and helping end their attacks, and that he'd be far more useful to them as a member of the organization than alone. But he'd killed two of his greatest friends and allies at the melee at Light's Hope. That was a kind of pain that he had too hard a time washing off. With Regdar, at least, he felt there was someone still in the dark, noisey halls of Acherus who understood.

Gelart accepted, and Regdar helped him reconcile with the members of the Blade he'd spat on in his haste to leave. He got new armor and, most crucially, his cracked runeblade was reforged to be stronger than ever. There was no danger that he'd be warped by the dark shadows that powered all Death Knights, and he would be safe in his attempts to continue fighting the Legion.

Curiously, however, Regdar couldn't help but overhear the name "Catalinetta" come up a few times as he was working through the process. It wasn't enough that he felt alarmed, just unnerved. He'd given her his word that the Ebon Blade would leave her alone, so why were there knights whispering her name to one another like this? After Gelart was set to return to fight on the Broken Shore, Regdar headed off in search of some answers. If Acherus still had Catalinetta's name on its lips, he ought to find out why.

Still aboard the Acherus, a tauren death knight worked the runeforge. She was built rather standard for a tauren female from Mulgore; short white horns, white and brown spotted pattern. What may have once been soft eyes, however, were now hard with loss. She hammered her axe with the precision of a master craftsman, taking the time to admire her work every few seconds.

Regdar did his best to project respect as he approached. "Not looking to take up too much of your time, but, well, I'll get right into it. I keep hearing the name "Catalinetta" among the knights. Do they mean Catalinetta D'Aragon?"

Sunsong turned to Regdar and wiped a hand across her forehead. It was more out of habit than anything, as the dead did not sweat. "That is correct." The tauren peered at him for a moment, as if trying t place him. "And you are?"

"Regdar the Red. I know Catalinetta, I've met her before, tried to talk her into returning to the Ebon Blade. Why are people speaking of her now?"

"We have utilized her as a bargaining chip," Sunsong said flatly, returning to her work. "Some members of the Silver Hand wanted to start some sort of assenine investigation on our mission to their chapel. Rather than allow such a blatant waste of our time continue, we gave them her name. They can busy themselves with her while we continue our strike against the Legion."

"Gave them her name in what way? She left the Blade after what happened, why would the Paladins care about her?

"Because she is a known face who injured one of theirs. She may have left our ranks, but that has made her even more suspicious. Convenient for us. If they want someone to hang, better it be one we have no need for any longer."

"That doesn't even..." Regdar was more surprised and dumbfounded than anything else. He spent half his time trying to convince wayward knights that the Blade, despite its flaws, was the right place for them only to be met with this. "Thank you for that. I hope those paladins eat their fill." He said finally, before making great haste for the portal to Dalaran.

Sunsong furrowed her brow at the departing death knight. She watched him go suspiciously, but didn't make a move to follow him.

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Three firm knocks sounded on the office door.

"C'mon in." The voice of Cobrak was easy enough to recognize.

"Been a while, Cobrak." Dessim greeted as she stepped inside. "Looks like you're full of more stitches than ME now."

Cobrak made an odd noise that was a mutt of both grunting and chuckling, "Well 'ere's 'opin' I dinnae go 'ungry fer blood an' 'afta eat souls or wute'er it is ya do..." He says, gesturing to a chair and an accompanying bottle of rum. "Wut kin I do fer ya, lass?"

"You? Probably nothing." It wasn't said in a way that inferred insult. "But I need someone who is a holy warrior or can at least look like one."

His eyebrow cocks, a silent gesture to continue on tht thought.

"I have concerns. A few months ago, the Ebon blade made an accurate presumption to how the Silver Hand would react to their plans... I won't go into details but it ended with another assault on Light's hope and a second death for one of their commanders.... He got better. There has been no counter-attack due to efforts against the Legion and I am worried about how long this ceasefire will last,” she continued. “The Silver Hand will not forgive such an ‘affront’ and paladins are not known for their sense of forgiveness.  When they strike back I do not think it will end with the Ebon Blade. I believe they will hunt down every last one of us. If you have anyone who could poke their head in, I'd like to at least know the mood they see in."

Cobrak folded his arms, pondering. He weighed his options then. Usually it was not his intention to be involved in such affairs as politics or tension between such groups. His lone eye closed as he pondered, then again, it was merely a job to feel out the paladins' state of mind. Could there be harm in that? If he were found out, it could be construed as Borrowed Time helping one organization essentially spy on the other.

The orc tapped his fingers on the desk, pondering still. A small risk then, as Dessim was a friend who was merely concerned. "...I kin 'ave onna mine see bout it."

"Thank you. I'm not asking for attack plans, just the general consensus. I know they're angry, but if the call to arms is gaining followers I'd like some warning."

Cobrak nods, "Aye, notta problem...I jus' 'ope this doesnae blow up in our faces."

"Then just pick someone who is either too subtle to be caught or too stupid to feel nervous about what they are doing."

"I 'ave tha perfect guy."

"Send me the bill then. You know where we are." She gives a small smile, now that the business was concluded without issue.

Cobrak nodded, "Aye, will do." he says with a smirk, "So's when will yer Boss reopen tha Cantina nights now with tha Legion mostly limpin' back ta tha Tomb?"

"It's hard to say... Between the war effort, his family issues, and Gunheya's tendency to take on projects like a pack mule I feel like we have none that could run it to our liking. But as soon as we find a spot to run the business we will try."

Cobrak nodded, "I see, well iffin 'e needs any 'elp settin' anythin' up, ya tell 'im we'll be more than 'appy to lend a 'and."

"I'm sure he would love it... His bitch girlfriend  might not."

Cobrak rolls his one eye, declining to comment himself on that subject. "Well, offers always open ta Coldstar."

"And we appreciate it, sincerely."

Cobrak smirks, "Right then, we'll send tha contract o'er fore 'e gits goin' ta Light's Hope."

" I'll be around to make sure our crew hasn't slacked off then."

A nod from the orc followed, "Good ta 'ear, sumtiems peons need a good smack'round."

"Only sometimes?" She asked, cracking a grin as she rose and made her way out

Cobrak let losse an easier laugh, "Mos' o' tha time."

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Regdar lit another candle as he poured over the legal documents in the hall of records assisted by one of the fat custodians in breaking down the specifics of each individual interpretation of horde law. The orcs, though the documents of the various races that appeared as well, did not seem particularly fascinated with legal nuance, and the number of awkward loopholes created by the disparate documents of seven.different races and cultures was truly astounding. But no matter where Regdar looked, the answer seemed to remain the same. No matter which why he examined or argued the problem in his head, the problem at hand offered only one solution.

And that solution was awful indeed for Catalinetta.

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Azilrog stepped through a Death Gate to Archerus' sparring level. He dragged the unconscious form of Ghostslayer behind him. "SUNSONG!" He shouted out, his voice grating.

Ghostslayer’s death grip was to his ice-like blades still sliding along behind him left frost in their wake. The tauren was not only unconscious, but also had a bloody Shoulder from the slide of his weapon. He was missing his full chest plate, his helmet was cracked in and falling off, almost the leaving a shoulder piece dragging along his form, and his thigh plates were gone. Spirits hovered around Ghostslayer like a moth to a flame.

Sunsong answered the call, her brow furrowed at the sight before her. "Well that didn't take lomg," she said gruffly. "Azilrog, you have performed admirably. Put him in a cell and I will see to him."

Azilrog nodded and took Ghostslayer to a cell as Sunsong followed close behind, locking the cell door once Azilrog had Ghostslayer situated. "I will see to him once he wakes. You are dismissed, Azilrog. Though you may want to keep an eye on that guild you reside in. There may be trouble. Stay out of it."

Azilrog nodded. "I will maintain my efforts on the Broken Shore. Sanctuary has proven to be a breeding ground for naive rebels." He saluted and marched off.

A spirit lingered close to the cell, curious if it could ride Ghostslayer. After all, he was an easy ride, one of the many tortured beings the Ebon Blade had slain. It would get it's vengeance through this death knight. The human's cold presence ended up right behind the large tauren. It could be seen for a brief moment, the skin sullen and the eyes red before Ghost turned and gripped the spirit. It screamed out in terror as the tauren absorbed it into its form, clinging to it like a cat suffocating its prey. The ice around the cell built like a winter wonderland, and the wound at the Tauren's back healed along with the wound on his head. The blood, however, was still there. He tore his helmet off and threw it to the ground, getting up on legs that were once again strong. Ghostslayer peered out of the cage with purple eyes.

"You," Sunsong said to the tauren with an even voice. "Explain yourself. You have been telling people a story about being exiled."

Ghostslayer seethed, looking at the cage around him, the bars icing over. He clopped back and forth his eyes, turning blue as he watched the other death knight like a cat behind bars. "It is not a lie. I was cast out and attacked for many years. Why are there words why have you not done worse like the Lich king would have?"

Sunsong folded her arms. "Maybe we can still use a fool like you. Tell me your story. Who cast you out?"

He watched her, flicking his ear and crouching down. His tail swished slowly. "Highlord Darkmoon. He cast me out for killing his daughter." He said simply. Watching Sunsong, he slid his fingers along he ice in his cage. "When I was free of the lich king. The spirits saw me as fresh meat I could not control myself."

Sunsong furrowed her brow. "So another death knight saw fit to banish you for killing his own blood. I see. Well," she huffed, clearly irritated. "He is no longer here. I would welcome you back to the Ebon Blade."

"Welcome I would appreciate but I have been oathed, and the oath may conflict with what you would have me do." He said simply. "Why is the silver hand hunting us?"

Sunsong clicked her teeth. "They are not hunting us. A few paladins have a grudge regarding our mission to Light's Hope. That is all."

He watched the other Tauren and slides his right shoulder pad off and his gauntlets, then the seat of his armor only wearing underpants now. "Grudges will be held. It is the way of things. What would you use me for?"

"You are a death knight," Sunsong said flatly. "You will be 'used' to defeat the Legion, to the best of your ability. We do what the living cannot."

He seemed to consider this. "I fight the legion anyways. And of the Paladins that wish to kill us?" He shifted, looking behind the tauren, his blue eyes turning to her as if reading her.

"The paladins wish to bring us to justice. They are not so stupid as to want to kill us all."

"Some of them are. We are scourge to them. I have fought my fair share of Zealots. I would think I would gain certain perks for this? A new set of armor and access to a rune forge? And perhaps a more steady supply of ghosts to feast upon? Souls that are used for us are not put towards the Legion." He came close to the bars. It was cold, but some of the ice cracked off and fell where he grips the bars. "Are we planning self defense or diplomacy with those that aim to kill us?"

Sunsong raised an eyebrow to the Ghost Slayer, her arms still folded across her chest. "We have provided them with a leave offering, so that we might continue to harmoniously work together. That is none of your concern. What is your concern is the fight against the Legion, which we will see finished. In return for your allegiance, you will have access to the runeforge that will grant your blade greater power. The Acherus and all its reaources will be open to you."

He scratched his back and looked over his shoulder at the blood caked there, then looked back to Sunsong. "Things have changed. Besides fighting the Legion what do you expect of my allegiance to the Ebon blade?" He inquired. "I will not harm an innocent and I will not be included in a petty war agains the alliance I will protect people I will not outright harm them unless it harms the legion."

"I think you will find that there are no 'innocents' in this world," Sunsong practically growled. "But we have no intention of taking any aggression against anyone but the Legion."

His blue eyes focus in on her. Clopping his hooves, he let go of the bars and crossed his arms. "Innocence is not being of the legion. There is a difference between us and the Legion. We have the freedom of choice to be better than we were made to be. " He stepped from the bars, eyeing the tauren, his tail swishing and his hooves sliding along the ice. "You will have my allegiance. But I will not violate my oath in doing so."

"Fine," Sunsong huffed in resignation, opening the cell door.

He watched Sunsong as the cell opened, clopping hooves to step out of it. "Good to be fighting again. Better than just surviving."

"Stay out of trouble," Sunsong warned, pointing toward Ghost Slayer firmly. "We do not have time to go looking for rogue death knights. There is a war to be fought."

He looked to the Tauren. "Trouble is how we learn." He says idly. "I do not make allegiances lightly."

"Nor does the Ebon Blade. Now go. The Broken Shore requires assistance, and there are few who can provide the strength that our kind demonstrates."

He nodded and headed up to the forge. First, to obtain replacement armor. Then to have his blades forged.

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After some time, the paladin Cerryan Vyel, Crusader of the Silver Hand and Marshal of Sanctuary, answered the call to return to Light's Hope. Resplendent in crystal-laden platemail of white and gold and wrapped in the Phoenix-crested purple tabard of Sanctuary, the golden-haired Blood Elf strode through the chapel halls towards the one who summoned him, one who he had met before.

"Justicar Tamaryth, it is good to see you again." Cerryan nodded in respect to the paladin, a soft smile on his marred face. I have come as requested, how can I be of service?"

T'suro followed behind him, his black and red armor with gold accents framing his form well, the tabard of the Blood Knights splashed onto his chest. He saluted the Justicar. "Anu'belore. Knight-Lord T'suro Sunspear of the Blood Knights, and Blood Knight envoy to Sanctuary. I hope I'm not intruding by coming with him."

Raelana glanced up, her notes scattered around her and her tabard, torn and inside out, laid out on the chair next to her. A needle and thread were woven into the tabard, her repair work clearly something to be admired. Feeling a bit disheveled, she quickly ran her fingers through her red hair and attempted to adjust the armor she is wearing discreetly. Finally satisfied with the impression she made, she rest her hands on the hilt of the blade at her side. Bowing her head slightly at T'suro, she then focused on the other blood elf standing before her, her curiosity peaked.

T'suro noticed Raelana and looks her over before giving her a bow in return.

Cerryan also took note of the redheaded paladin, nodding politely as he tried to determine if he knew her already, her own gaze causing him to arch a brow. "The scarring isn't particularly appealing, I know. I'm sure it's rather curious, in a grim way."

Raelana raised her eyes slowly, taking the opportunity to admire his scars. Her face relaxed and her head tilted to the side as she studied, it a half smile forming. "In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity," she finally said quietly, glancing down briefly at the fresh scar on her own arm before looking up and meeting his eyes. "You can tell a lot about someone from their scars and I'm sure you have quite the stories to tell. I look forward to you telling me them soon," she stated matter of factly. She continued to look at him another minute, before finally turning to Tamaryth. Clearing her throat, she said more assertively, "Would you like to debrief them or shall I?"

Tamaryth nodded at Cerryan, and let her gaze flick over T'suro. She doesn't look particularly impressed with the latter, and the former drew her gaze back as she regarded his prominent new scar. Something about her serious mien seemed familiar, although it carried a sharp edge that seemed out of place. "I'll handle it," she responded to Raelana. "In short, the one who gave you that scar," she said to Cerryan, "needs to be brought to justice."

Cerryan was not exactly relaxed, but her word's made him stand rigidly. The soft smile on his face faded, returning it to the more recently common hard stare he wore more often than not these days. He nodded tentatively at Tamaryth, choosing his words slowly from behind his mouth before speaking them. "I am in agreement with you, Justicar. The betrayal of all the Ebon Blade is heinous crime that -must- see justice. In truth I had hoped that this was the reason I was called here today, that we might start the pursuit of justice for the wrongs done to us in the midst of our world's darkest hour. I understand of course that the Legion is the Great Enemy, but we cannot allow those who are meant to be our allies to violate our trust and the sanctity of our order without punishment." He subconsciously gripped a hand into a tight fist. "Light knows what devilry the Ebon Blade will commit next, if they believe themselves above rebuke."

T'suro listened to both of them in abject shock, glancing between the both of them before interjecting. "I must object to this! I agree that the Ebon Blade needs to be brought to justice... but it should be the EBON BLADE ITSELF that we deal with, not every single Death Knight on the planet. I know the one who scarred Cerryan. Her actions were not her own, and she's trying desperately to  redeem herself for her crimes. She even renounced the Blade." T'suro turned to Cerryan defiantly. "You're one of Sanctuary's officers. How do you think the Commander will react if you try to arrest one of her own, right under her nose?"

"If Sanctuary is as righteous as it says it is, it will be glad to turn over an avowed traitor," Tamaryth said scythingly. "Though from what I've heard of that guild, I am prepared for the worst. In any case, appropriate punishment must be meted out to deter not only the Ebon Blade from committing more and worse heinous acts, but any others from following their example. Order must be maintained." She stared T'suro down. "Who are you here representing, exactly?"

Cerryan's frown deepened. "You assume too much, T'suro. I would take no action to 'arrest' Catalinetta without first consulting the Commander; I hardly need to fall further in her graces. But neither do I accept the pretense that Cat was not in control of her actions, that she had no alternative but to follow orders and slaughter innocents, or that she should be considered wholly innocent of her crimes because she's serving Sanctuary's continued mission." He returned his gaze to Tamaryth and nodded firmly. "Justice must be served, and deterrence must be established. The Silver Hand has not sacrificed as much as it has to be stepped on by any who would think to use our hallowed dead as tortured puppets imprisoned in their own hollow shells."

T'suro tried to form a response to Tamaryth's question, but instead, he faltered. After trying to stammer something out, the Blood Knight hung his head in dejection and clenched a fist. "Loyalty to Quel'Thalas and its' rulers is paramount to all else." He said, with almost a sad, conflicted roboticism. "My leader has seen it fit to join the Silver Hand..." He grunted and shook his head. "I will obey, or else risk becoming a fugitive of my people."

Raelana narrowed her eyes slightly at the conversation, a frown forming on here face. She picked up her notes and looked over them briefly. She spoke quietly to herself as she reviewed them, but loud enough to be overheard by those around her. "The Ebon Blade attacks, trying to turn Tirion into one of their own. Then they offer up Catalinetta as a symbol of peace. It doesn't make sense...." She trailed off in thought briefly before realizing no one else said anything and she was being overheard. She flushed in slight embarrassment, used to working alone, but played it off. "I understand the desire for justice, but there are other issues we need to consider. The relationship with the Ebon Blade is already extremely weak and now you want to add Sanctuary on top of that? Not to mention the fact that we haven't even spoken to Catalinetta yet to see what information we can procure from her." She shook her head slightly and furrowed her brow thinking. Finally, she turned to Cerryan and asks "Did you know Catalinetta was the one who attacked you?" She gestured to T'suro, "It seems everyone else did."

"No one said we were adding Sanctuary 'on top of' anything," Tamaryth said crisply. "Merely that we need to be prepared considering their reputation for some intransigence, and if  they are aiding and abetting a war criminal, then  that will be a matter of our concern." She looked at Cerryan. "Please do brief us as to the current state of affairs within Sanctuary on this matter, including the criminal and yourself."

"Yes, of course." His tone was softer now, though not without the stern edge. His frown saddened at T'suro's defeated compliance, but he nodded at Tamaryth and continues. "First and foremost, you need not worry about conflict with Sanctuary. We are fighting for peace, and for justice, in the name of the Horde and all Azeroth. This is a matter of justice; we will be on the side of it."

"As for Catalinetta," He paused, fidgeting slightly and clicking his jaw. "Yes, I knew that it was her the moment before she struck me down. She did not know that it was me she was attacking, according to her, but whether or not her words are honest I am no different from any one of us who fell that day, and there was little measure of restraint to her actions." His jaw clenched as his bitter words hung a moment in the air. The paladin took a measured breath and exhaled slowly before continuing, the rehashed irritation in his tone not calmed by the attempt. "By the order of Commander Julilee Liene, the leader of Sanctuary, our fold's namesake is extended to the death knight. Catalinetta asserts that she has divorced herself from the Ebon Blade, and their attempts to 'reclaim' her were rebuffed, but she also claims to be repentant. If she truly means that, then she will do what is right and speak to her deeds."

"You cannot repent for atrocities simply by switching the banner under which you stand," Tamaryth said, witheringly, though it was more directed at the concept than the person who may have implied it. "Certainly not the amount of pain and death she is responsible for. And--" She stopped short. "Did you say Julilee Liene?"

Cerryan was about to cut in defensively, catching himself off-guard with the inclination, when Tamaryth suddenly shifted direction. "Ah...yes, that's right. Commander Liene has lead Sanctuary since before the campaign to Draenor."

Tamaryth muttered something under her breath, something about 'recuse' before suddenly turning and walking away. She went over to Najme and spent some time speaking with her.

T'suro blinked and lifted his head in confusion. "...So now what?"

Raelana smirked slightly as Tamaryth walked away, then beckoned her page to come over from another room with a nod of her head. His eyes glistened as he walked up, clearly excited to have something to do. She folded a piece of parchment and sealed it with her stamp and handed it to the page. "Take my steed and don't leave without a response," she said discreetly. His eyes went wide and he bowed, then ran off. She sat down, leaning back in her chair and crossing her almost bare legs, then pulled a bright red apple out of her bag. Taking a bite into the crisp flesh, she put it down and flipped open a book on the table. She glanced at some notes, then picked up her tabbard and continued the repair work. Upon moving the tabbard, a completely different set of damaged armor was revealed which looked significantly more conservative than what she had on. She looked up at the two paladins standing before her. "Come. Sit with me. Who knows how long she'll be and we can certainly continue discussing while she's away. Are you hungry or thirsty?" Without an answer, she motioned to a young paladin and sent him away to get some drinks and food. She looked back up at the two, who are staring at her. She glanced around, then asked, "What?"

T'suro glanced a Cerryan befre taking her offer, taking a seat while still hanging his head.

Raelana looked at T'suro and smiles slightly. "You did well in battle the other day. I was glad to have you fighting by my side." She glanced at her armor. "I could have done without the repair bill though. I hope you fared much better than I did." She beckoned another young paladin and motioned at her damaged armor. "Take these to the blacksmith to be repaired, she should recognize my plate. Please and thank you." The first young paladin from before came back with several bags of food and pitchers of water and wine. He tripped slightly and Raelana jumped up to catch him. After taking the bags and pitchers from him, she tips him a gold coin for his troubles. She then lay out the food and drinks out on the table and sat back down.

Cerryan took T'suro's lead, sinking into the other chair in quiet contemplation. He was caught off guard by the enthusiasm of the paladin hosting them, juxtaposed with the weight of the conversation that had just taken place. His remaining ear twitched at her mention of fighting alongside T'suro, and he lifted his head to regard her with a furrowed brow. "You were there, at the attack on Shal'Aran?"

T'suro nodded. "I thought I recognized you."

"Indeed, I was. I had been pulled from my previous mission to come here to assist with the investigation and hopefully to repair relations. We need everyone cooperating if we're going to win." She flipped her tabard around, but unsatisfied with her work flipped it back to continue repairing it. "After befriending some of your comrades, I was asked by if I would assist in loading out. I showed up and so did the enemy." She frowned slightly, "It was a very bloody battle. I did what I could for those refugees before turning my blade on the enemy..." She trailed off, taking a deep breath in and exhaling forcefully. She looked at her tabard again, then smiles and laughs, "I don't mind a good battle, but I do so wish it hadn't been my GOOD armor this time. I'm sure I make quite the impression in what I have on now and not necessarily the one I want to make." She waved at her red, barely there armor. "This is way more comfortable to fight in anyway, but I didn't have time to change." She flipped her tabard outside in reveling the blood knight crest. She inspected her handiwork and finally satisfied said, "There, I think it's finally repaired." She set the tabard on the table and stood up, bending across the table in a quite revealing way to grab one of the pitchers and the mugs. She didn’t seem to notice how much she  was revealing or if she does, she doesn't care. She poured everyone a drink and then sat back down.

T'suro blinked, observing the girl's rather... flippant armor choice. He had often seen armor like that, but always kept silent. However, seeing the Blood Knight tabard drew his curiousity. "Why wear armor like that though? It barely protects anything..."

Raelana glanced down at her armor and grinned slyly. "Because I'm very good at what I do," she said with a wink. She paused a moment before smiling broadly. "You'd be surprised at the advantages it can have. Having an exposed part of my body means I likely know where people are aiming for. They often think to go for spots which are exposed when actually the best spot to go for...," she lifted her arm and points at a spot underneath her arm and between the breastplate, "...is right here." She chuckled a little before continuing. "It also means most people are stopping to stare briefly, another advantage. And they think I don't know what I'm doing, because of my armor choices, but before taking my current position I lead battles for well over ten years." She took a sip of water and then pulled out a silvery runed rod out of her bag along with some vials of dust and crystals. She said some words and wove some magic into her armor. "It helps that I have a few other tricks up my sleeves as well."

"Plus I look good."

T'suro rolled his eyes, trying not to look her over. "Well, I won’t deny that... what rank are you, if you don't mind me asking?"

"Oh, dear me. Introductions were never made, were they. Ambassador Raelana de Bergerac, at your service." She bowed her head slightly at the two in front of her. "I serve as one of Lady Liadrin's personal advisors, but one of my specialties is in diplomacy. Hence why I was sent here."

T'suro nodded a bit, offering her a brief salute. "Greetings Raelana. I'm T'suro Sunspear, and I'm a Knight-Lord in the Blood Knights." T'suro nodded a bit. "It's sort of the same rank as a Champion, but managing troops instead of training them."

Raelana leaned over and grasped T'suro's arm, squeezing gently in recognition. "A noble rank indeed. It takes a lot of hard work to reach such an accomplished title." She leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs. "And you've joined with Sanctuary as well? What is your role with them?"

"I act as the official Emissary of the Blood Knights, acting in official capacity to bridge relatons between the two."

Raelana nodded and made a few notes on a piece of parchment. She stole a look at the other blood elf briefly before giving him a small smile and turning back to T'suro. "I'm certain you can understand the gravity of the situation we're faced here. I have my own opinions and thoughts, but I'd like to hear your unbiased opinion first on the matter at hand." She glanced back at the blonde blood elf. "Well, both of your opinions, when you're ready to discuss." She took another bite of her apple, finishing it off, then discarded the core in a nearby bin. "And do, please, help yourself to the refreshments on the table if you're so inclined."

Cerryan took no refreshments, but nodded passively at her request for his eventual perspective. He appeared to still be emotionally conflicted, and remained silent as he listens to the others speak.

T'suro bit his lip before speaking. "I'm... torn. I want the Ebon Blade to pay for what they've done... but I genuinely believe that pursuing  Cat, who wants nothing more to do with them, is the wrong course of action." The Blood Knight huffed. "I want to protect my fellow member of Sanctuary... but as an active Blood Knight, pledged to the cause of the Silver Hand, I might be forced to bring her to her execution." The elf helped himself to an apple after speaking.

Raelana nodded, thinking for a moment to herself, then pulling a small book from a pocket hidden inside her breastplate. She flipped through it, stopping at a page and looking at it thoughtfully, then pushed it back into her breastplate. Leaning forward to T'suro and said in a whispered voice, "I think she's a scapegoat."

She picked up a small muffin and popped it into her mouth, satisfied to finally say that out loud. "The way I see it, there's two issues. The first: I'm not satisfied that the Ebon Blade is just... done. To do what they did, something of that magnitude, isn't just something that you let go. I think they're planning something. But there's no indication of that other than my hunch, which makes it incredibly difficult to get people to see the bigger picture." She paused to look at the other blood elf at the table. "Sir Vyel, your reputation proceeds you and it is an honor to finally make your acquaintance. I do so hope once this over we might have some time to talk over a drink," she said boldly. "Of course, the second issue is the matter of what she did to you. I'm happy to providing my services to you. I prefer punishments fit the crime, but I also believe that we can all repent and be rehabilitated. Ultimately, it would be your choice how you wish to proceed." She paused, looking between the two.

"If we take this path, I believe the next step would be to question her and get as much information from her. Which means we may need to keep up 'appearances' for a bit. Thoughts?"

Cerryan more or less tuned back in at Raelana's mention of him, but his countenance remained impassive. "Once this is over there are other matters to deal with. Threats to the whole of the world, and all that." He clicked his jaw, turning to T'suro. "Nobody has yet said a word about executions. The Silver Hand is not a totalitarian order. Catalinetta may be done with the Ebon Blade, but that does not make her exempt from the crimes that she committed while under their banner, as Justicar Tamaryth said. She is still responsible for the part she played, and may have information or insight that will help us bring the Blade to justice. Whether or not she is willing or able to repent is none of my concern, but I agree that the next step is to have her speak to her actions and provide the Silver Hand with whatever information she can offer."

He sighed, looking down and sounding as uncaring as he can.

"What they decide to do with her from there is... is also none of my concern."

Raelana raised an eyebrow before pursing her lips and narrowing her eyes slightly. She grabbed a new sheet of parchment and with flourish wrote a quick letter. After sealing it, she flagged down her herald, and handed him a sack of gold.  "I'm not going to make it. Be quick and when you get there give him this letter and send my apologies for cancelling." Adding with whispered, "Tell him I'll make it up to him... later." She winked, the herald turned bright red, bowed, and ran off.

"Now where were we." She rubbed her forhead. "Ah yes, Catalinetta." Raelana looked at Cerryan and crisply stated, "Vyel, since you have no strong feelings as to what happens to her, there should be no issues bringing her here under the guise of arrest and allowing us to question her."

"High Justicar now," Tamaryth said, returning. She turned to Raelana, eyebrows rising. "Guise of arrest? She committed a crime. No guise is required. Unless you don't believe Sir Cerryan's account of what transpired?" she asked. "Or many others of those present. It's very cute that you want to afford this Catalinetta every chance at innocence, but don't let that stand in the way of achieving justice, or you'll only invite more injustice into this world. Now, since it seems I don't get to recuse myself in this matter, shall we head out to this Sanctuary?"

Raelana sighed loudly and stood up. "As I was explaining, I don't think the Blade is done. I believe she is their scapegoat. We need her cooperation, but we also need to the Blade to think we are buying their story." She grit her teeth. "If you want her to cooperate, you need her to think it's a ruse. You can arrest her later and have her stand trial if need be."

Tamaryth cast a look over Raelana at the sigh. "And as I said, your theory is very cute, but unproven. There is evidence that points to her guilt beyond mere complicity. If you compromise this investigation by indulging a naive refusal to believe in the facts, there will be consequences. But we will afford Catalinetta, and Julilee, a chance to explain themselves." She scowled at that. "They will have their opportunity to cooperate, in other words. That will be sufficient." She then looked to Cerryan and T'suro, the latter only getting a brief, grudging glance. "Will you accompany us?"

T'suro sighed and stood, giving the Blood Knight salute, complacent in form, his face still racked with inner turmoil. "Light's will be done."

Raelana stretched, cracking her back and nec. She paused mid-stretch, noticing those who stared at her, then shrugged and said, "Old war injuries. They take their toll after awhile." She went back to stretching, took a moment to check on her wound, then packed up her notes. Her herald, who had just run back out of breath, bowed to her and edged closer. Raelana turned her ear to the herald who whispered something in her ear and handed her a letter. She opened, then shut it quickly. Her eyes lit up and she blushed deeply across her whole body. Again whispering something back to the herald, she handed him some more money. "Please don't take too long in getting that message back." She smiled, then motioned to her bags and notes, "And please have these sent to my room. You can use this to access it." She handed a smallish book to the herald, then tucked some notes into another hidden pocket near the inner thigh of her legplates.

She then looked at the three others and smiles. "Well, shall we get going? I'd like to get this started."

"Yes, let's," Tamaryth said, turning to depart for the portal to Dalaran.

Cerryan stood as well, his face devoid of emotion. He nodded at the High Justicar, then to the others, and moved to keep pace with Tamaryth. "I do trust that we go to Sanctuary in good will as well as in pursuit of justice. Commander Julilee is a good and level-headed leader, but if pressed she will not hesitate to defend her own. The Ebon filth that came to claim Cat learned this firsthand, and I would not wish to see a similar incident from the order that we all serve. I am Sanctuary's Marshal, please allow me to take point in speaking with Commander Liene."

Tamaryth regarded Cerryan for a moment, then nodded. She was generally reluctant to cede control but in this, with him, she would. "Very well."

Raelana glanced at T'suro and shook her head slightly before following behind the other two.

T'suro stepped through the portal, looking tense all the while.

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Posted (edited)

Hearthstone buzz…

"Catalinetta, where are you?" asked Julilee.

Cat answered quickly. "Arath'dorei Manor, ma'am. Everything okay?"

"Stay there, and don't tell anyone you're there, all right? Some people are looking for you, and not friendly ones."

Ghost spoke into the Hearthstone.. "I was killing demons. Ebon blade caught me. I fought for my life. ended up Incarcerated.. turns out.. they wanted my allegiance fighting the Legion. I gave it to them as long as it did not violate my oath. If anyone touches one of the sanctuary I would defend them with my life."

Juli spoke again. "The Ebon Blade incarcerated you and demanded your allegiance?"

"Yes.. they did..  He cut me on my shoulder.. He hit me in my head he ruined my armor.. not that it was very good armor.."

Catalinetta waited for him to finish before speaking again. "Uh.. okay. I'll stay here until you say so.. uh.. who's looking for me?"

"Would you like company Catalinetta?" asked Ghost.

"No. No I'm fine,” she answered. “I'm with my fiance."

"I will be in the kitchen if you need me."

Cat was becoming impatient. "Ma'am, what's going on?"

"I'll.. tell you later. Just don't take any visitors, all right? And I mean any. Even people you know. All right?" Juli instructed.

Azilrog suddenly interjected. "Is your fiancee the one with the hairless child body?"

A few moments passed, and an irate sounding Kreyen spoke through Cat’s hearthstone. "Are you the sort of creep that rifles through people's stuff, or the sort that peeps through holes in the showers?  Either one is pretty distasteful, but just so we're clear..."

Azilrog spoke again. "I'll take that as confirmation."

Juli interrupted. "Let's not."

"Oooo, a spooky creep,” Kreyen continued. “You could try to come check on the child if you like, but I doubt it'd be what you expected.  Anyway...shouldn't there be...you know, rules against this sort of behavior?  That's a pretty gross invasion of privacy or something, isn't it?"

"Azilrog,” Julie said firmly. “I'll need to speak to you. Later."

Kreyen didn’t let the matter drop. "After repeated harassment, I should hope so Commander.  If your death knight comes anywhere near here I can assure you there will be problems."

"He won't," Juli said simply.

Azilrog’s gravelly voice interjected once more. "I recommend dealing with your traitor problem first Liene."

"I'm not interested in taking recommendations from you at this point. We'll speak more later."

Azilrog spoke on last time. "Not if the Silver Hand gets to her first."

___________________________________________________________________

Azilrog slammed on Juli’s office door

"Come in." Juli was standing in front of her desk.

Azilrog stomped inside and shut the door behind him.

Juli picked up a sealed letter from her desk and held him out to him. "Please bring this to your chain of command," she says.(edited)

Azilrog took the letter and tucked it into a satchel on his waist. "Will that be all?"

"No, that's all," she said, "forever, actually. No need to come back."

"Why?" The large orc folded his plated arms across his chest.

She looked at him. She knew she'd be required to give him some sort of explanation, much as she felt she shouldn't have to. "Your judgment is beyond questionable. You have done nothing, absolutely nothing, for Sanctuary except cause problems and create strife. And the Ebon Blade themselves have attacked their own allies and are not an organization Sanctuary sees itself as needing to have an emissary for. Any other questions?"

"And yet the Silver Hand and the Blood Knights reside in Sanctuary as well, who hunt and intend to butcher one of your own as they already have ours. Why me, and not the elves?"

"I'll be dealing with them. Any other questions?"

"Alienating the Ebon Blade will do you no favors." Azilrog rasped, his voice hoarse. "What problems and strife have I caused? Why is my judgement questioned?"

She gave him a long look. "If you're unaware of any issues you've caused, starting with your recent comments over the hearthstone, that's just more evidence of your bad judgment. Now, if there's nothing else, I have other business to attend to."

"If you are referring to my investigation of Catalinetta's whereabouts and the ransacking of her room, Bloodborne allowed me access and indicated no trouble. As to all my activities I only act to the orders of the Ebon Blade, as do your Paladins, as you follow the Warchief." He rubbed his coif. "I imagine you've already told my daughter of your decision."

Juli blinked once. "Are you unaware of Shokkra's condition?"

"I am not. Has it changed?"

"Not since Karthok kidnapped her, no. I didn't realize you hadn't been informed."

"Karthok is alive?"

"For the time being." She wasn’t without sympathy, but remained businesslike overall. "We are doing everything we can to locate Shokkra and bring her back to safety."

Azilrog was silent for a long moment.

"I'm sorry you're only hearing this now," said Juli. "I should have informed you personally. It was an oversight and not intentional."

"Well fuck me in the ass and call me Susan is my wife here too?" Azilrog completely lost his stoic temperament, setting his hands on his hips and pacing.

Juli blinked once again. "Yes? Had you not spoken to her?"

Azilrog stopped.

He turned to Juli.

"Shana. Is here?"

"Yes," she said, then, unable to help herself, "What have you even been doing here? You're an emissary to Sanctuary, with free run of our entire guildhouse and complete access to our hearthstone communications, but you've only paid enough attention to butt into the places where you were the most unwelcome?" She shakes her head. "Talk to your wife if you like, but then you should go."

Azilrog opened the door outwards, breaking it and running down the hall.

Juli stared.

___________________________________________________________________

Shana knelt in the garden surrounded by her totems, meditating. She wore her light furs and shamanic robes, growing more accustomed to the spring weather. The Greatmother sighed, in tune with her elements.

Azilrog stepped into the garden, radiating undeath. The grass died and rotted as he steps through it.

Shana squinted, detecting the sudden imbalance and opened her eyes, turning as she got to her feet. She snorted at the Death Knight, watching him indignantly. "What are you doing here abomination?"

Azilrog stopped, watching Shana back. He stayed there in silence, allowing himself to breathe out of reflex rather than necessity. "Wor'shana?"

Shana stopped, her breath catching in her throat. No one called her by that name, no one knew her by that name. It was old orcish, only those from before Thrall's Horde knew that name. Her eyes widened, though kept her accusatory look somewhat. "Who..."

Azilrog unclasped the coif protecting his throat, then the strap keeping his helm on, dropping them both to the ground. He maintained a rough, short white beard and shaven head. His skin was blue, as were his eyes. He looked older than he did when they last saw each other, but then again so did she.

Shana gasped, bringing her only hand up to cover her mouth as she gaped. "Azilrog?" She took steps towards the undead hulk before her, keeping her gaze fixed on his features. "Azilrog..." She said, reaching up to rub his nearly frozen cheek.

Azilrog collapsed onto his knees, wrapping his plated arms around her fur covered body. "You're as beautiful as the day I was lost."

Fire engulfed Azilrog.

"YOU WHORESON!" Shana kicked into her husband's chest, knocking the burning death knight over.

Water doused Shana off as she starts stomping on his chest. "SIXTEEN YEARS!"

The fire was up her legs as she stomps him, burning her wolf furs and robes. "SIXTEEN YEARS AND YOU RETURN THE SAME AS GOREFIEND?!"

Azilrog began to roll around to dampen the flames, screaming. Shana pulled the axe from her waist and hacked at his armor. "I REMAINED FAITHFUL TO YOU TO HONOR YOUR MEMORY!"

"I RAISED OUR CHILDREN ALONE!" Shana cleaved into Azilrog's smoldering shoulder. The garden began to burn as well.  "THE BLACKROCK NEARLY KILLED ME!"

Azilrog got to his feet and jumped into the pond, the water dousing the flames. Shana changed strategies, using the water to form a small water spout that lifted Azilrog up, flooding his body with it. "AND YOU RETURN NOW?! NOW OF ALL TIMES?!" Azilrog flailed, attempting to escape. Shana froze the water inside and outside Azilrog with just his head out of the ice. "Who in Hellscream’s name do you think you are?"

"Sh-" The words caught in Azilrog's throat as it filled with ice. He rested, immobile before stepping through the shadowlands and dropping out of the abstract ice sculpture. "Shana you're being unreasonable." He rasped, getting to his feet as Shana's axe bites into the meat between shoulder and neck.

"I'M being unreasonable? What right do you have to call me unreasonable?!" She ripped the axe out before hacking in again, this time hitting bone as his black blood oozes out. Azilrog groaned, a shadowy claw reaching from the ground to strangulate Shana. The Greatmother gasps for breath, dropping her hold on the axe. As the Death Knight stood, up he pulled the axe from his shoulder and tossed it aside. "I could've just never come back. I came to see you as soon as I learned you were here."

Shana growled as she squirmed, a storm elemental forming behind Azilrog and sending shocks through his system. Shana dropped to her knees and breathed, the elemental enveloping the Death Knight in a flurry of lightning and shearing wind. Some of his plate is taken off by the furious blows, and he was barely able to stand the onslaught. The Greatmother snarled, pushing Azilrog down on his chest after the elemental ceased the carnage.

"You left." Shana grit her teeth, pressing her burnt boot into his back. "Nothing you ever say or do can justify that, or excuse that. To me, to Shokkra, or to Karthok." She stepped off the nearly immobile orc's back, the elemental fizzling out as she left her former mate in the ash.

Edited by Catalinetta

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Regdar and his companions, a dwarf and human death knight arrived in the Sanctuary infirmary, looking over Azilrog's scorched form as he lay on the bed. "So, this looks pretty bad." He said, stating a good amount of the obvious.

Azilrog grunted, flexing his charred hand. He was covered in his own burnt flesh, nearly only animated bone at this point. His armor was almost completely obliterated.

"He lives!" Regdar said to his companions, who don't laugh. "It's a joke? Because he's...? You know what? Nevermind. I'll summon the Death Gate, get him up." Regdar began channeling the shadowy power to create the portal to Acherus he needed.

Once it was up, the dwarf and human death knights did their best to get Azilrog up and suppored his bodyweight as all four head through the portal.

Once Azilrog was lifted through the portal, Regdar felt much safer speaking to him. "So, can you talk?"

Azilrog flexed his hand a few more times before reaching over and pulling a frozen letter from his burned satchel. "Dabu. This too."

"Oh, shit. What's this?" Regdar pulled the letter that the Commander intended for the Ebon Blade open, scanning its words quickly.

It detailed Azilrog's lack of professionalism ever since coming to Sanctuary, and concluded with a polite request for the Ebon Blade to go fuck themselves.

Regdar grinned. "Imagine my surprise. 'Azilrog doesn't play well with others.' Alright, I'm going to talk to Dessim about getting you some new armor. But, uh... do you know where Catalinetta is? I'm trying to find her before those fuckhole paladins do."

Azilrog, for the first time in a very long time, sneered, as he leaned up to Regdar. "Arath'dorei Manor. Eversong Forest." He grabbed onto the other orc's arm. "Fix me and we move."

"Ugh. Elves. Why do they have to have such wimpy names for everything?" He accompanied with that a good natured laugh. "Don't tell her I said that." Regdar looked to the two carrying Azilrog. "I need to go get some stuff together, you two get him ready to rock and let our boys know that we're ready to roll out." They both nodded

Azilrog's grin cut across his burnt face, his icy teeth disturbing against the black flesh. "Swobu. Everson fit'chure." The Death Knights carrying him began to aid the near-skeleton to the armory, while Regdar immediately head out to meet with.

The elf was found at the forges as usual. Most smiths, her included, had taken to mass producing the new design of Demonsteel blades paying homage to the Xorothian nights they had bested. Despite the din of hammers her head snapped up as he approached with purpose, her eyes narrowed as if trying to match a name to his face. "Need something?"

One of our own lost his armor in a scuffle," Regdar reported. "He needs something new, maybe a new Runeblade as well, I'm not exactly sure when it comes to that."

"What was he fighting, a nuke?" She blinked. Armor could be damaged, weapons could be shattered, but losing it all at once must have meant a rather brutal defeat.

"I didn't ask. But I'm also hoping that we can get this as a rush job? Me and Azilrog have somewhere to be and I want to make sure he's in tip top shape." Regdar considered for a moment his own weapons, two saronite, 'double-bladed axes hanging at his hips.

"When EVERYTHING is a rush job, nothing is, people just become whiny bastards insistent on instant gratification. Tell him to get down here, i'll need his measurements. If he's in a big hurry tell him to take a blade from the new line. Otherwise i'm gonna need some details."

"He's gonna need some time for the necromancers to put some flesh back on his bones. And when they do, I'm not exactly sure he'll have the same measurements?" Regdar tapped his foot impatiently. He really didn't have time to wait. "Eh, you know what? I'll just let him take care of all this. I got someplace to be. Thanks, though."

"Flesh back on his... Eesh. Suffer well."

Regdar continued out. "I'm gonna go check this out. Thanks for the heads up. I'm always happy to help out the cause," he said, backpedalling before turning into a run through Acherus.

Dessim jogged towards the lower levels. If Azilrog needed to be put back together he would probably be with the Master of Blood. However, Azilrog was curiously absent from the Blood Pool, instead being armored in a set of Ebon plate meant for a large forsaken or a heavily built human. The burnt flesh had been cleaned off his bones, almost entirely an orcish skeleton.

" Azilrog." She called out, stopping short. She wouldn't have recognized him if not for Regdar's vague description.

"Dessim." Whatever remained of his orcish voice was gone, torn and scorched from what used to be his throat, only the sound of the Scourge remained. He latched a hood to his chestplate and pulled it over his head.

"Nothing keeps you down. Heard you needed new equipment."

"New kalkan takes too long. Reserve kalkan will do." He rolled his bone shoulders, moving over to a table with a large unholy runeblade on it. He strapped the blade onto his back and tightened his gloves. "Traitor will die gol'kosh."

"Gol'kosh? Listen to yourself you're barely intelligible and you're gonna go hunt a turncoat?"

"Old Orcish. By my hand. She needs to be brought in. The Silver Hand will not have the skraefa."

Dessim paused. "What? Why not? Wasn't she their excuse?"

"If the Red one is going, so am I. Elven judgement will not override the Ebon Blade's."

Azilrog started to march towards the gryphon stables. "Truce or no, I await karanzol nash."

" ... Well have fun,” said Dessim. “Try not to get yourself killed."

The elf shook her head and went back to her forge. She wouldn't rush a set for a man who seemed addicted to getting his ass killed

Azilrog nodded, shouting through the stables. "KULKODAR!"

A massive undead dragon flapped up from the lower levels, landing in front of the orcish skeleton. Mounting the unholy beast, Azilrog snarled, visions of the Clans infighting on their dying world while the Horde fought on Azeroth. The wolves gnashing at each other would come to a head today, and either escalate to war, or end now. "Karanzol." The Death Knight barked to his dragon, the beast roaring and flying from the Archerus

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Regdar and his fifteen knights arrived in Silvermoon and took off south towards the location listed for Arath'dorei Manor. As ever, Regdar had a hard time being silent, and the conversation oscillated wildly from war stories on the Broken Shore to barfights in Dalaran. Plenty of teasing and jibing took place, but what otherwise would be soldiers being soldiers and talking about soldiers to soldiers took on a new air when their status as Death Knights was considered. Each laugh was haunting, each chuckle sneering, and a menace to all of it underlay the particularities of a group of Death Knights having a laugh.

It didn’t take them too long to arrive at the storied manor, and the other knights fell back to allow Regdar to take the lead.

They passed through fields that seemed barren of all life, the former vineyards of the Arath'dorei family long since withered, but steadily making progress on renewal if the approaching manor's small acre of greenery was to be any sign.

The group came upon a gilded gate, adorned by runes and flanked by walls that were just as formidable-looking as they were decorative. The crystalline pylons that sat within them flashed a pulsating light as the knights approached, only to be settled by a nearby Sin'dorei mage as two guardsmen approached the oncoming group.

"Halt, you are trespassing upon Arath'dorei grounds. State your business or be gone," he called out.

"I am Regdar the Red of the Ebon Blade! Here to see Catalinetta of Sanctuary! She and I are newly old friends!" The orc called out as they made their way to him.

"You will hold there, death knight." The mage said, his fellow guardsman brandishing their pikes at the approaching orc. The crystals flared to dangerous life once more, reacting to the undead presence. "The Ebon Blade is NOT welcome here. Turn and leave before you become ash to fertilize the lawn."

"I don't mind waiting if you want to confer with Catalinetta," Regdar said reassuringly. "But I do want to warn you that things could get very grave, very quickly for her, no pun intended. She will want to speak with me once she knows I'm here. I also don't mind leaving my boys behind and coming in under escort with you. I can't exactly relinquish my weapons, since the old soul is all wrapped up in them, but I'm not exactly as spry as I used to be and I'm sure it's just as easy for you folks to ash me inside as it is to do so out here."

Their weapons still held, and the guards did not budge. "This is not up for debate, abomination." The mage growled, as their weapons crackled with holy magic.

"You will leave at once, or be forced to."

"Hey, I get it. I run a garrison when I have time, so I understand the orders that you're under. Listen, I'm gonna comply with your request. Me and my boys will leave you lands. But I'm going to be waiting on this road, right where those lands stop. Because, yeah, I get you're doing your job, but a friend of mine is in trouble and I'm not going to let something bad happen to her because you don't like undead. Which, by the way, I also definitely get." He answers, never letting his smile falter.

"So,” Regdar continued. “Here's what I'm hoping. I'm going to give you what you want and wait back there. But maybe you'll give me a shot and go talk to Catalinetta anyway. My offers still stand. I don't mind coming in, I don't mind if she wants to come out, whatever it is. But the thing I want to do is help." He pulled up the reins on his crimson deathcharger.

The guards looked at each other for a brief moment as they kept their stances. The one who was speaking finally nodded, "We will relay the message, but you still are not welcome here without the Lady or Lord's approval.” He cut himself off before going any more.

Content with that Regdar led his troops back to the border of the estate and waited.

Around the other side of the estate, where the wall came in contact with the forest, Cat waved to what looked like a guard in robes. It took a moment for him to recognize the death knight, but eventually he helped her inside.

A short while later, the Arath'dorei males arrived at the gate, Kreyen looking sweaty and worn beneath the Silver Hand squire's garb.  A simple bastard sword hung across his back, and muted irritation clung to his expression.  He nodded to the guards as he passed, and drew to a halt near the gate to regard the death knights quietly.  "I'm sorry to disappoint you, but Catalinetta doesn't have any desire to speak with members of the Ebon Blade," he called calmly to their leader.

Phyruss walked alongside Kreyen, in a similar state of fatigue with his ebon hair matting to his pale skin. His twin bladed runeswords were locked onto his hip, clacking with each step in his light armor. He folded his arms, looking toward the undead intruders with a level gaze. "Forgive the manners,” he said to the visitors. “I am Phyruss Arath'dorei, and this is my cousin Kreyen," he added, his hand barely waving to the two of them in introduction. "But as my cousin so put, Catalinetta does not wish to speak with you, so I hope you will take a peaceful departure."

"You gave her my name? Regdar?" The orc asked the pair.

Kreyen cast a glance at Phyruss at the question, uncertain as he let an eyebrow lift upwards.  "Should it have made a differencce?" he asked, "The Ebon Blade has done more than enough to her as is."

Regdar nodded with a smile, perhaps a bit too enthusiastically. "Yes, it would have. I came to speak with her in the guildhall of Sanctuary, as I came to speak with everyone here--" he gestured to the other Death Knights with him, "--about rejoining the Blade after they're resigned from the order in the wake of Light's Hope. These boys took me up on that offer, but Catalinetta didn't. I don't do this to browbeat someone into submission, I just want to give them the options and let them make the choice. Catalinetta actually came and found me later and we talked for hours about all of it, the heroism and the Blade and runeforges and everything. So, I figure she and I have a rapport.

"But the reason I'm here right now,” he continued. “Is that the Paladins of the Silver Hand want to arrest and punish Catalinetta for her crimes. There's a truce between the Blade and the Hand, but Catalinetta's not protected by it and by every law I could find, the Hand has every legal right to do exactly that. Now, I don't know how much you boys are looking to become criminals for harboring a fugitive, but I am willing to bet those light-stuffed twinkies are more willing to let this whole Catalinetta thing go than be the ones to break this truce and force this whole Light's Hope thing into round three."

"This is Quel'thalas,” Phyruss interjected, folding his arms. “The Silver Hand has no jurisdiction here. They cannot arrest her as much as I could march into Stormwind and demand someone be tried, even if I had the Hand's authority to do so. One thing is for sure, I will not throw my friend to the wolves to save my own skin. Be they Ebon, or Silver or fur."

The young elf then quirked an eyebrow at Redgar, "And you brought two squads of Death Knights to simply talk? Forgive me if I believe otherwise that yours and their intent are purely social... full armor and weapons on a fleet of stallions? You say show of support, but all I see is an intimidation tactic common amongst mobsters."

"The laws of the Horde apply to Quel'thalas, and Catalinetta has no protection from them for assaulting Light's Hope,” Regdar explained. “The truce that was worked out between the Ebon Blade and the Silver Hand puts the matter to bed for members, but she is not one. And it wasn't that she was assaulting humans, like Gelart over here, but that she was assaulting other elves, like Cerryan Vyel. Mark my words, it won't be humans or dwarves or draenei that come for Catalinetta, it will be elves, Blood Knights, with all the jurisdiction they need.”

"To your second point,” the orc continued boldly. “My boys and I have come to defend her. We can't exactly walk around without weapons, since our souls are tied to our runeblades, and if I've got to tell it straight, I don't wear anything but armor anywhere, really. But you're right, it is meant to be an intimidation tactic, one to tell these paladins to get the fuck out and leave Catalinetta alone. She may not be Ebon Blade, but she's a soldier I care about nonetheless, because all of us are conscientious objectors and we're not going to let someone be scapegoated by zealots for doing what's right."

Regdar seemed to lose himself and his creepily cheery attitude with the explanation, mostly because the stakes were so high. But when he finished, he took a moment to regain himself, and they found him smiling again.

Kreyen watched and listened to the exchange with a furrowed brow.  Little more than mild agitation escaped from beneath the stony visage he put up, and little even of that stretched outside of his gaze.  "If this is anything more than an execution, then idiocy of the endeavor will readily be exposed," Kreyen said finally.  "That she is not a member of the Ebon Blade any longer is a flimsy legal excuse, at best. It's the same spiteful arrogance that spawned the Scarlet Crusade, and it will not come to pass.  Of that, I can assure you."  The bright emerald eyes of the elder Arath'dorei fixed themselves upon Regdar then, serious. 

After a quiet moment, he added, "So long as you are only here to keep her from being harmed, then I see no problem with you lingering.  With that said, if the mongrel your order had stationed in Sanctuary is in your group, you had best dismiss him back to your pyramid now." 

Kreyen turned then, opening himself back towards the house.  "Before there is trouble."

"Azilrog?" Regdar laughed longer and deeper than was probably required. "Well, keep this between us, but he shouldn't be a problem. He got kicked out of Sanctuary and scorched into a skeleton, so he should be sitting in a blood pool for a few days, at least. He is the one that got me Catalinetta's location, though, so he does know her location. I'd also bet that your Sanctuary boys do, too, since if Azilrog heard so did the twinkie who got in my face last time I was in the guildhall."

Phyruss crossed his arms, sending a look towards his relation to gauge his own belief on the matter.

"I'm glad the Commander saw fit to deal with him then," Kreyen called back to Regdar.  "There will be others coming soon.  To talk.  Do not harass them, please."

There was a note of exhaustion in his voice at the words, and he gave Phyruss a sour look before leaning in close and whispering to the other elf.  He gave his cousin a pat on the back afterward, and then started to make his way briskly back towards the manor.

"I wouldn't dream of it." Regdar waved the other Death Knights forward and followed along on the road back to the manor.

Phyruss nodded, turning back to the death knight as he followed along, holding a hand out for Redgar. "Your men will wait here. I'd rather not Cat feel like she is being surrounded, if she chooses to speak with you," he stated directly before following after Kreyen.

At the manor itself, Kreyen waved for those behind to wait outside.  "Much as I'd love to extend more hospitality, under the current circumstances I think it's safer to deal with this outside."  The squire shot Phyruss a telling look about his concerns for the situation, then went in to find the wayward death knight.

"In that we can agree," Phyruss stated, letting Redgar remain just outside the gate as it opens to allow Kreyen inside. He watched Redgar curiously as he remained outside to entertain their "guest". "...the Ebon Blade,” he mentioned quietly. “Has it had any contact with a Sin'dorei named Naheal Malastar?"

"If they did, I don't know who that is," Regdar stated matter-of-factly. "If he's a friend of yours, though, my bet is that he's on board in some capacity or another. I don't know every Death Knight under the sun and I speak to a lot of 'em." The orc dismounted from his shadow charger and let the creature gallop back into its shadowy domain.

Phyruss said little else on the matter, merely quirking his mouth in dissatisfaction. His arms folded, leaning back to ease against the railing. Figures, he thought to himself. If the man did not even contact his own family, the Ebon Blade would fare little better in hearing from him.

Regdar descending quickly into small talk with some of the other assembled Knights, particularly a human named Gelart, though how human he was seemed up for debate. As a Death Knight, he was at least passably Forsaken, but the more they talked the clearer it became that he had no love for the Banshee Queen. Gelart seemed the least confident of the group, which the others used as an opening for some empathy and understanding. As a former paladin of the Silver Hand, he was feeling the weight of the coming trouble more than most.

The door opened again a short while later, revealing the returning squire and the source of Regdar's concern hand in hand.  Kreyen's expression had mellowed a little in the brief time away, filled with more determination than frustration now.  He separated from Cat once they were both free of the entryway, in order to turn back around and close the door behind him. Any chance to avoid the ire of the house's matron was one he would take at this point.

Cat approached Regdar, her eyebrows furrowed with concern. "Holy moly," tumbled out of her mouth as she walked toward the orc, clutching her empty hands. "What the fel is going on, Regdar? You're scaring my in-laws half to death. You have any idea how scary the owner of this place is? What is it??"

"I figured if all of you elves were really as dedicated to etiquette and manners as you say you are, then rolling up with a healthy dose of respect would probably be the best answer," Regdar agreed, taking the forefront of the other assembled knights. "But we've got some problems that need to be dealt with. There's a group of paladins coming for you and I don't think they mean to play nice."

"You mean Cerryan? He's coming with the Commander," Cat answered dismissively. "They wouldn't do anything to hurt me. You don't need to worry about them. Even if Cerryan went nuts or something, the Commander would never let him do anything like that."

"If I was looking for a little blood with my justice, I think I'd use your friends to get close to you as well," the other death knight warned. "I hope that you're right. I hope that you're going to be fine. But I've lost track of five other conscientious objectors, and if I were a betting orc, I'd say that it's Silver Hand that hunted them down."

Cat frowned, her eyebrows furrowed deeply. "They wouldn't do that. The Silver Hand doesn't deal in vengeance. They're not like that. Right?" She glanced back at Kreyen and Phyruss. "You don't think they'd just go hunting rogue death knights, do you?"

Phyruss folded his arms, "If they are, they're a rogue element too I would wager. There's no way the Hand would allow such blatant disregard for their oaths go unpunished." He looked over at his cousin, "Even so..." he rubbed his patch of facial hair and mused to himself. "I'd think it best if you still stayed here, Cat. Our defenses are tuned for the undead, but no need for the paladins to learn that." He smiled a little.

"That's the other piece of all this." Regdar turns his gaze toward the elven pair. "According to every law book I could find, they have every legal right to do this. Death Knights who leave the Ebon Blade also null their citizenship with the Horde, because one of the terms of that citizenship is membership to the Blade. This makes them renegades, and in a bunch of cases the shadow magics deteriorate their minds until they're attacking innocents just to sate their bloodlust. This is why the Ebon Blade hunts down rogue Death Knights, to stop them from doing anything that would hurt innocent people."

"On top of that,” he continued. “You've got the truce between the Blade and the Hand, after the four horsemen helped out the Highlord with something or other. It's unofficial, sure, but rogue ‘Dee Kays’ aren't protected by that either. I'm pretty convinced that it's the Blade feeding the twinkies this information in the first place as a way to placate them. They get to do their crusader thing and get 'justice' for Light's Hope and also clean up Knights that the Blade wants to get off the board. The fact that participation in Light's Hope technically denotes a rogue Knight as a war criminal is just icing on the cake."

"That said,” he sighed. “All this stuff is like a maze. If there's some obscure case or precedent, I couldn't find it, but that doesn't mean it's not there. I'm not exactly a lawyer."

Cat shook her head, clearly confused. "No, you're a death knight. And you're taking a lot of time to try and help me. You have been. You have to admit, that seems fishy. I hardly know you, why is it you keep showing up to help me?"

Regdar shrugged. "If paladins were coming after anyone of the others, I'd get up in arms for them, too. You just happened to be the first targeted one that I'd heard of."

The pigtailed death knight cocked her head. She had a hard time looking skeptically at Regdar, but tried anyway. "..well... then I should stay here, where it's safe. My family wouldn't let them take me, even if they did try, and I don't think they will. Cerryan might hate me, but I don't think he'd try to have me killed. He's not that kind of person. Neither is the Commander."

"I don't know those folks, so I can't make any kind of recommendation for you. But I do know I'd chop my own toes off if I found out this was going on and didn't pitch in to help. So, I'm helping," Regdar states unequivocally. "Plus I think a situation like this one could get a whole lot worse before it gets any better right quick."

Cat smiled awkwardly at Regdar. "Well… that's nice of you. And a little insane. I don't think I know any other death knight who'd stick his neck out like you are. Not that I think there's any danger, but... if you think there is, then I appreciate it. The Commander did say she and Cerryan were bringing someone. I don't know who that is."

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The Sanctuary party arrived to the manor's gilded gates. Led by Julilee, it includes Raelana, Cerryan, and T'suro, but not Tamaryth. Juli spoke to a guard. "Catalinetta is expecting us." As they nodded to her, Julilee glanced briefly at the squad of death knights waiting outside the gates. She noted a lack of a commander. "I told her not to speak to them," she muttered under her breath while she waited for the guard to clear them.

Two guards barred their path to the gates, looking between the two squads. One held a hand to his ear to begin muttering as another approached the paladins. "I'm sorry, you will have to wait, Ma'am."

Meanwhile, outside, Phyruss held a finger to his ear, lifting a finger to halt the conversation inside. "Cat... there's a group of paladins outside. They say you're expecting them."

"Oh! Uh.. yeah well, that'd probably be the Commander." Cat said as she looked toward the gates. The death knight looked worried. "A group? How many of them are there?"

With the group of paladins, Raelana looked around slowly, taking in everything. She narrowed her eyes slightly at the Death Knights, then asked Julilee, "Where did you say we were again?"

"Arath'dorei manor," Julilee answered. "Cat belongs to the family."

A funny looks crossed Raelana's face, but she nodded her head and remained silent.

The Death Knights cut their chatter and turned to face the group of Paladins. They were almost entirely Horde, except for the one human. As one of the tauren pulled out his sword, the group bristled. The tauren knight planted his sword tip in the ground and leaned forward on it, the icy blue runes that shimmer up the blade facing the paladins. Many hands found their way to pommels, but the death knights said nothing.

Juli's gaze slowly slided from the guards to the tauren death knight. Raelana's hand found the hilt of her blade and let it rest there.

Phyruss waited for an answer from his guard, "Four apparently, guardsmen, identify the leader."

Near the paladins, the Arath’dorei guard spoke again. "The young lord asks you to identify yourselves." he said, turning to where the death knights are shuffling. "You, tauren, sheath your sword immediately. There will be no antagonizing here. Any who draw their weapons will be dismissed from this land in one way or another."

Regdar began rushing towards the gate.

Cat watched Regdar hurry away, unsure exactly of what she should be doing herself. "Uhhh... what's going on...? Should we go out?" She looked toward Phyruss for some sort of answer, completely lost as to how she should be reacting.

The tauren took his hands off the sword and crossed his arms. The sword floated out of the ground, jostled a bit in mid-air to shed itself of dirt, and then swung around and back into place on his back.

Juli dismissed the death knight from her attention and looked back at the guards. "Commander Julilee Liene of Sanctuary, Marshal Cerryan Vyel, and..." She let the other two introduce themselves.

Phyruss watched the orc hurry off, scratching his chin. He looked back to Cat, obvious fear lining her face as he moved over to clasp her shoulder. "I don't know, but maybe its best we stay put..."

The guards relaxed a little, but not enough to lower their pikes. Phyruss listened to his communicator.

"Seems like the Commander is here... along with Cerryan.... Cerryan... why does that sound familiar..." Phyruss mumbled.

"Cerryan.. he's a paladin with Sanctuary," Cat explained, wincing a little. "He um.. he and I know each other. I actually.. scarred his face pretty badly. During the attack at the chapel. I didn't know it was him, but.. yeah. He's not very happy with me, as you can guess."

"Well, if he's here for vengeance, he can have one of our pylons rammed up the orifice of his choice." Phyruss retorted.

"No no no!" Cat said quickly, waving her hands back and forth. "He's definitely not here for vengeance. No way! So no pylons up anyone's anything!"

With the group of paladins, Raelana flushed slightly before clearing her throat. She spoke clearly to introduce herself, but quietly. "Ambassador Raelana de Bergerac and Knight-Lord T'suro Sunspear of the Blood Knights."

T'suro shifted uncomfortably in place, looking anxious. "Well this is QUITE exciting isn't it?"

Thoughts of vengeance pulled at the edges of Cerryan's mind, and it was all the paladin could do to suppress them. The oaths he swore to Sanctuary were silent prayer, reflecting on the tenet of sacrifice and what the Commander's words meant allowing him to find some measure of focus, but the closer they grew to the mansion that housed Catalinetta the tighter his stomach and the higher his anxiety. In truth he didn't even know what he wanted to come of the visit, and he deferred to Julilee's lead as they approached the compound's guardians. The presence of the Ebon Blade had him bristling immediately, zealous anger roiling with the nervous anxiety already present within the paladin, and his hands clenched tightly as he resisted the inclination to draw his own crystaline blade.

Phyruss sighed, "I'll go see to them...Cat..." The elf's eyes turn to the petite little knight, "It will be your call what to do. We can send them away, or invite one or two in to speak."

"I'll go with you. I'm sure that once we talk, we can all smooth it over. C'mon," before he could argue, Cat followed Regdar. She tried to smile reassuringly, but only managed an awkward grimace. "It'll be fine!"

As she and Phyruss approached the gates, it seemed as though things were already starting to go south. Outside of the courtyard, Regdar's death knights stood near Cerryan, Juli, Raelana and T'suro. Cat regarded the two parties with a whimper, as if she'd just seen a puppy get run over by a carriage. Before actually leaving the gates themselves, she waved toward the members of Sanctuary.

"Oh hey, it's me! Hi everyone!"

"Catalinetta," Juli said, raising her hand in greeting. "Thank you for seeing us."

"Commander!" Cat said quickly, practically running to the gate. "Hi! Sorry! Sorry for all the fuss, but could you tell me what's going on??"

"Gladly," Juli said. Her gaze flicked to the nearby death knights, including Redgar. "Somewhere private."

T'suro shot Cat a friendly smile and wave, trying to diffuse the tension. "I guess you never got around to that leystone, huh?" He joked.

Regdar waited at the gate and allowed Cat to take the lead, though he did his best to make himself a solidifying, reassuring presence. As soon as the gates opened, his eyes sought out his Death Knights and he wordlessly directed them to relax. It took a minute, for them all to agree, but they did and took their hands off their weapons.

Phyruss followed along, keeping pace with his pigtailed compatriot. He waved off the guards who lifted their weapons and stood at ease. His eyes flitted over the band of paladins until landing on the lone redhead of the group. His eyes widened in surprise, staring openly at her for several moments.

He forced his stare away to regard the Commander, somewhat rattled, and cleared his throat. "I will insist that you are to be treated the same as the representatives of the Ebon Blade. One of you may enter with us. The rest..." His eyes dart to Rae in that moment, only to zip back to Julilee. "Can stay here."

Juli shook her head. "Both of these two," she indicated Cerryan and Raelana, "Need to question Catalinetta, together, and I don't want to leave them alone to do so." She regarded Phyruss. "I am the one who instructed Catalinetta to reach safety. Catalinetta has the full force and faith of Sanctuary behind her." Her serious gaze moved to Catalinetta to see if she would vouch for them.

An undead dragon's cry roared from above and a distance away. It was barely visible from the trees and glaring sun.

"I... uh... what the shit," Regdar said before getting distracted by the oncoming sound.

T'suro looked up, a very curious look on his face. "...was that... a DRAGON?"

Juli looked at Redgar, frowning slightly as she realized he didn’t know what it was either. She then looked at Phyruss. "I hope your aerial defenses are up to par." Her hand went to the wickedly curved hilt of her sword.

Raelana's eyes went wide upon seeing Phyruss. She pursed her lips and flushed a deep red, but continued to wait patiently for a response.

Phyruss followed everyone's gazes as he stared outward. "Our defenses are the best outside of Silvermoon."

Cat raised her hands into the air, completely lost. "What the hell is going on?!"

"I hope they can withstand frost attacks," Regdar warned, turning to Phyruss. "I'll defer to you, where do you want me and my boys?"

Juli scowled slightly, but did not object, waiting to see what Phyruss would do.

Phyruss moved to his guards, issuing orders as the pylons were lit in holy fire. Two priests were at each one as they surged to life. "I've been fighting dragons since I could hold a sword. Any of you specialize in Anti-Magic?" He looked over at Redgar. "Specifically zones or areas of it."

"Form up!" Regdar told the collected knights, and took a moment to redirect his focus to Phyruss. "We can work together to get it done. Where?"

Cerryan clenched his jaw as the Commander parlayed with Cat and a paladin that was itchingly recognizable. He did his best to nod in affirmation of Julilee's words, but his gaze had been kept on seemingly everything but the pigtailed death knight. The roaring sound from beyond the treeline was enough to have his hand swing up to the hilt of his greatsword, tense anxiety making way for defensive ferocity.

Cat looked around, her eyebrows raised in alarm. "Anti-magic? Frost… holy moly, why is there a dragon coming?!"

T'suro reached for his spear, hefting and twirling it before getting into a stance. "Does it matter why it's coming? All we know is that it is. Be ready!"

"I need you to hurry and split your death knights into two groups,” Phyruss explained to Regdar. “Try and divide them to even out who is best at forming anti-magic. The dragon will attack one with its breath, as they always do, the other group can grip down as it makes its pass." He said while pointing toward the pylons. "Try and make it underneath a crystal, the priests will bring it down with concentrated fire."

The dragon dropped down to skim the treeline, undead wings beating over the Eversong canopy. It crashed down through the ancient branches onto the stone path to the gates. Azilrog sat atop his abomination of nature, a corruption of the life-binder's gift in its purest form. His face was skeletal, though primarily covered by a hood. The frosting orbs of his former eyes scanned over the crowd, grunting. "Not surprised to see Liene in charge of the paladins here." His voice carried to the groups as the dragon claws forward, spurred by the orc's legs. He saluted to Regdar. "Brother."

"What are you doing here? You should be healing in the blood pools," Regdar said cautiously, trying to talk the situation down. Clearly, his own expectations were being formed and shattered at an alarming rate. "I thought you were Scourge."

Phyruss snorted, obviously miffed at the intrusion as well as the undead dragon apparently not being reduced to cinders. He folded his arms and tapped his foot, his eyes skimming back to Raelana for a moment and then back to the dragon. He could not afford to lose focus here and now with questions.

Cerryan had not removed his hand from his weapon, and his revulsion for the Orcish death knight was not at all concealed on his face.

Raelana looked worriedly at Phyruss, then to Catalinetta. "Perhaps you should go back inside the manor for the time being?" she suggested to the death knight.

"No.. no, this is crazy!" Cat said to Raelana, before she shook her head and walked past the gates toward Regdar. "This is getting way out of hand! I am fine! Nobody is taking me anywhere!"

Phyruss stood alongside Cat, "That is precisely correct, Cat will go where she chooses and nowhere else." His hands grips the pommels of the twin-bladed runeswords at his hip.

T'suro seemed caught off guard. Upon hearing that he was Ebon Blade, the blood knight dropped his stance, but did not yet sheath his weapon.

Juli stared at Azilrog, having needed a little bit to recognize him. She'd heard Shana had attacked him but hadn't been fully informed yet. For the time being, she was actually silent and did not try to intervene.

Azilrog snorted a grim chuckle. "The Scourge? Here? They couldn't even muster a decent skirmish now." He rolled his shoulder blades, the bones scratching under his armor. "Here to stand for the Ebon Blade, cut through the karanzol skraefa. Bring back the traitor, so the Hand doesn't take another."

Regdar puts up a hand. "Azilrog, I think it might be best if you head back to Acherus and let me take care of it. You and Catalinetta don't exactly have the best rapport. Or you and the Commander."

Juli shifted to position herself slightly between Cat and Redgar. "I agree," she said, "but we'd like to talk. Can we go inside?"

"Won't leave you here to fight alone, Regdar." Azilrog swung his leg over his dragon and dropped down, his boots hitting the ground solidly. "Liene shows up heading a party of Silver Hand hunting Catalinetta shortly after excommunicating the Ebon Blade. Odd timing, isn't it. The emnity is palpable in the wind."

Regdar smiled his eerie smile. "I'm not alone. I brought fifteen of my boys to make sure that if things get to where I hope they don't go--" he gestured to the lot of them, many having had poor run ins with Azilrog in the past "-- that I'm not going to get shit stomped. But I'm not looking for a fight, Brother, and the longer you remain here, the more likely that outcome becomes."

"The only people hunting Catalinetta are you Ebon filth." Cerryan sneered, his facial scars twisting upward in an ugly display. "And you'll have no luck in claiming her, even with all your wicked soldiers. The Light stands against you, and you know how well you fared the last time you dared face its wrath."

Julilee didn’t respond to any of the others, holding Catalinetta's gaze. She spoke quietly enough that only someone standing close and paying attention could hear what she said. "What happens next is up to you, Cat. You know I believe in you."

Cat blinked toward Julilee, flustered as she tried to come up with words. "I.. but.. but nobody is hunting me, right? This is all just a misunderstanding! Azilrog thinks the Silver Hand is trying to take me out or something, just tell him that's not true and we can all go home. Except me. I am home."

Raelana furrowed her brow, a look of concern still on her face. "Of course we're not hunting you. We simply came to ask you some questions."

Phyruss folded his arms once more, obviously anxious over the rising tension.

Cerryan speaking forced Regdar to clench his fists. "Oh, is that what you call it? Some questions? Is that what you told the others when you chased them down?" He wheeled on Cerryan. "Or is she just some pawn in your plan to get vengeance on us because you look like a dog streaked shit on your face? Because what questions could you possibly want to ask her, I wonder? 'What's the best way to bring the Ebon Hold crashing to the ground?' 'Does the Deathlord check his closet for vengeful templars at night?' 'If one happened to come across the Deathlord on the Broken Shore and pinned him to a wall to be tortured to death do you think the Ebon Blade would all go away then?"

Juli's eyes narrowed and she shot a deadly look at Redgar. "That's enough. I don't know what your intentions are, but I don't trust you one bit, and neither should Cat."

"Woah woah woah!" Cat held up her hands again. "I'm happy to answer questions! You've got them wrong, Regdar, Cerryan'd never do anything like that! Neither would the Commander let them!"

"Oh, yes,” Regdar continued. “I'm the untrustworthy one, coming from you who carted the single person who wants to flay her alive to her doorstep," he fired back. "I'm at least trying to get Azilrog to leave, but no, you want to give Cerryan direct access to the woman who laid him up for weeks."

"He's had access to her, for weeks," Juli retorted, her temper starting to show, though she kept her voice mostly even. "I trust Cerryan. And furthermore, I'm here. Now." She looks at Cat. "Decide what you will do."

"What did I tell you? The karanzol bitch is on the paladin's side, as she's always been." Azilrog rolled his bones, the stench of undeath growing stronger. "Liene would not give anything other than an elf the time of day, it only makes sense she chooses the Hand over the scourge who scoured her land."

The pylons surged to life and zapped the area with a furious beam between the two parties, burning a veritable line in the ground.

"THAT'S ENOUGH!" Phyruss bellowed. "If you lot want to kill each other, do it away from my house!"

"Woah shit!" Cat jumped back as the beam shot to life, stumbling backwards clumsily.

Cerryan sneered at Regdar, fighting fiercely to bite his tongue at the Commander's order, but faltering at the mention of his own treachery. His words were muted by the firing of the pylons, and following the furious discharge he was stunned into a dumb silence.

T'suro jumped away from the beam of light and cleared his throat. "Nobody was in any position for a fight. Azrilog seems intent on making one happen, though." T'suro stated flatly. "This house is in Quel'thalas, which me and Master Realana are soldiers officially representing here. If there is any fight here, I can promise that EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATES will wind up in a Silvermoon jail cell!" The elf stepped back and turned to Raelana. "I hope I am not overstepping my bounds."

"Or maintain your sense of decorum and shut your gobsmacking mouths!" Phyruss bellowed with authority. "The paladins can question Cat inside the courtyard, and Redgar, if you wish to see Cat safe, you may come too, to survey," he looked between the two parties. "But, only the Commander and one of the Hand may come in, and only Redgar and one of his may too."

He turns back to Cat, "Is this acceptable?"

Regdar's agreeable, charitable, people pleasing demeanor was washed away by his frustration. He knew the diplomatic choice was to bring Gelart, a paladin, a death knight, one who had deserted the Blade over Light's Hope like all the others. It would lend his voice credence and display for everyone here that he was interested in a peaceful, moral resolution, not one where things fell to blows.

But he also knew how much it'd piss them off if he brought Azilrog...

Raelana glanced at Phyruss, then back to the Commander. "I will yield to your authority and decision on who will enter with you."

T'suro huffed and turns to the Commander. "It is your choice. But do understand that, while we're here, soldiers of the country can supersede your authority." He turned to Regdar. "And yours."

Cerryan furrowed his brow, suddenly chuckling lightly to himself at the Blood Knight's words. "He's not entirely wrong on that, actually."

Raelana smiled slyly at T'suro.

Juli gave T'suro a rather flat look before looking at Phyruss. "I will bring Ambassador Raelana." She glanced at Cerryan, not saying anything to him but the look conveying an awareness that his concerns would be seen to.

Regdar unclenched his fist, realizing how easy it was to get swept up in the negativity that the magic keeping him alive spurred him on to.  "I'm not here as an authority. I'm here as Cat's friend. The only reason my boys came is to make sure that these paladins don't cut down Catalinetta like they've done others. Gelart, with me. The rest of you, don't do anything stupid."

Cerryan sighed in relief at having been chosen to stay behind, unsure as he was in his own conduct and in particular with that incendiary beast of a death knight present. He contented himself to sneer at the remaining knights of the Blade, still a little too eager to spring to action if conflict should occur.

Raelana glanced at the Death Knights, then back to the two other companions standing there. "I can send for some hospitality for you while you wait for our return. And I guess the others here." She looked at Phyruss. "With your permission of course," she said with a quick bow of her head.

Phyruss tried to smile a little at Rae's comment, but quickly faded away as the mess around them teetered on becoming worse. "That is acceptable."

Azilrog flexes his hands, watching the events as they unfolded. "Convenient that the Silver Hand brought elven lawbringers with them. Their judgement must be as ‘unbiased’ as the rest of them."

Raelana smirked at Azilrog, but turned her back, unconcerned with his ramblings.

T'suro shots Azilrog a glare. "We are in Qul'thalas and I am a soldier of Quel'thalas. My words earlier were true. I have the power and authority to jail anyone who breaks into a fight."

"I... uh... o-okay..?" Cat said to Phyruss. "Lets just... lets go, before things get crazier."

Azilrog grunted, outstretching his hand to the forest ground. After a few moments, the ground shifted and cracks with a claw reaching up as it digs its way out. The risen corpse shambled to its feet, the ghoul holding decayed elven features and a Farstrider's armor. It fell in behind Azilrog, mingling with the other Death Knights. "Just as I, skraefa, have the power and authority over death." His skeletal visage couldn’t convey the sadistic glee he took in the act, and his unholy tone wasn’t much for manipulation.

Juli nodded at Cat, glanced at Raelana, then moves to follow the former.

Regdar fell in with Gelart in tow.

Raelana gave Phyruss a half smile, then pulled out an already prepared letter with her seal on it and handed it to her squire. "Go swiftly."

Her squire looked between Phyruss and Raelana, then grabbed the letter, bowed to Raelana, and jumped on his horse to take off.  She turned back to Cerryan.  "He should be back soon." She then turned to T'suro. "When he returns he'll report to you for set up and further instructions." She glanced at the Death Knights, then back to the paladins. "I'll leave it up to you how much of Liadrin's good graces you wish to share."  She then fell in step behind Juli.

T'suro saluted to Raelana, his official superior. "Yes, Master Raelana. I will do the Matriarch proud."

Cerryan nodded in respect to the Ambassador's authority, but his gaze didn’t leave Azilrog and he exhaled deeply in disdain of the skeletal orc's desecration.

Cat walked with Phyruss and their new entourage inside. She glanced back at Cerryan once before going imto the courtyard.

"Guardsmen... whichever group first unsheaths their swords, give them a warning shot." Phyruss ordered as he stared at the summoned ghoul, probably a remnant from when the Scourge was heavy in the woods. He took a deep breath as the gates were reopened and he led the party inside.

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Posted (edited)

The courtyard was a stark contrast to the deadened waste outside, fervent plantlife grew abundant with a gardener's careful touch to keep it from overgrowth. Blooms from three worlds over sprouted intermittent with one another as Phyruss led them to the main fountain in the midst of the roundabout street; a place where years past might've hosted a dozen carriages dropping off nobles for a gala in the massive manor that loomed overhead.

Juli's gaze moved around the surroundings with a certain familiarity as they walked. She had been in and out of noble residences for most of her life. While it was never home to her, it was nonetheless familiar.

---------------------

Azilrog pulled down his hood, revealing his bare skull. He paced in front of the other fourteen Death Knights, some of whom he'd brought back to the fold forcefully. He'd been there at Light's Hope as well, assuring that no member of the Ebon Blade retreated from the battle, fighting forward through Light-blessed blood to the Highlord's resting place. He remembed Cerryan, and he remembered shoving Catalinetta towards the paladin. "What justice do you seek here, blood knight?” he asked the blonde paladin. “Justice for Light's Hope?" His voice was ice, any semblance of the orc behind it scorched from his throat. "A petty vengeance to fulfill while the Legion burns Azeroth?"

"Justice is due for Light's Hope. Do not speak to me of the Legion, when your traitorous forces struck at the heart of Light rallied to defend our world from it." The brightly-armored paladin hissed his angered words at the Ebon abomination, repulsed that this monster was ever a part of Sanctuary. "And I am no Blood Knight. I am a Crusader of the Argent Dawn, a devout vassal to the fallen hero that your kind sought to wrench into twisted service as the very thing he spent his life opposing. A man who stood for the representation of the Ebon Blade, who had heavy hand in securing their acceptance by the living world in the days of the war against the Lich King." The incensed paladin spat at the skeletal orc's feet in derision. "And yet you fall so quickly to obedience under another wicked master."

"We do what the living cannot, wretch. Fordring would have served better as a Death Knight than as a corpse, just as Nazgrim does, and Trollbane, and Whitemane, and all the fallen soldiers brought into undeath by the Blade every day. A Light-blessed corpse is just as useless as a rotting one, while instead they could serve to destroy the Legion before their eternal rest."  Even as a skeleton Azilrog stood taller than many of those assembled, a massive orc in his prime, and in undeath. He flicked his fingers at the spit, rotting the ground beneath it. "You accept the Illidari with open arms, those who have given themselves the souls of demons to fight the Legion, yet you cannot understand the sacrifice of true death. Though, we should expect as much, the Illidari are elves like the rest of you."

T'suro's eyes narrowed his eyes before speaking. "Most of the Illidari are more willing to work with their respective factions than your lot. And did not invade another order for their goals."

As the paladins and death knights argued, the air around them seemed to change. If they noticed this subtle discrepancy, they might have each felt something different; a chill in the wind, a strange vibration in the ground. Either could have been blamed on the company. In fact, the company itself seemed to grow increasingly hostile. Cerryan, his hands gripped tightly by his sides, was utilizing every ounce of his patience to remain calm. Azilrog seemed to have little regard for niceties, but willingly stood his ground in favor of his allies within the manor. T’suro, perhaps the youngest of the paladins, clung to his naiveté in such a way that he practically glowed with the Light and all of its goodness.

Meanwhile, the death knights left behind by Regdar stood their ground, staring at the paladins in front of them as if waiting for someone to make a move. They outnumbered their Light wielding allies-by-requirement, but the Light they wielded was powerful enough to cut through their necrotic flesh like a hot knife through organic grass fed butter. In any case, things were growing tense, and whether they realized it or not, it was not all the fault of the death knights and paladins in question. Something else was stirring in the atmosphere.

"We will defeat the Legion and save our world without becoming the sort of monsters that we defend it from." Cerryan grew more irate and confrontational as the air chilled and the atmosphere changed imperceptibly. "It is easy to justify your foul actions as what you must do when you have no faith, no belief, and perhaps no ability to prevail without such villainy. And if you must resort to such vile methods then can you even be trusted to safeguard the world once this threat has been overcome, or will you simply become the next threat to defend against? Where does your 'necessity' end? "

"Our necessity ends when all of Azeroth's soldiers' does. When the Legion has been scoured from the cosmos, and the Old Gods slumber for millenia again, then the Ebon Blade will finally have earned the rest of true death. We will dissapear into legend, just as the Illidari will, and the Silver Hand, and all the rest that fight for Azeroth now. Our necessity ends when yours does." Azilrog stopped his pacing, his skull turning around to look at his surroundings. The frost of his sockets flared as he pulled the apocalyptic greatsword from his back. "And the Light will stop nothing, craven." He turned towards Cerryan, his skeletal digits tightening around the hilt.

T'suro felt the chill in the air grow, and saw tensions rise, perhaps the chill was a result of that? The Blood Knight tightened the grip on his spear and narrowed his eyes. "Enough of this, both of you. Do you honestly think I won't act on what I said earlier?" He stabbed his spear into the ground, the sun-shaped blade piercing the ground. "I am a soldier of the country you currently stand in. Come to blows if you wish, but I will interfere and you both will sit in a cell in Silvermoon tonight."

"Some sins can be forgiven, but others must be punished." Cerryan’s voice was icy, and his demeanor had grown increasingly tense as the skeletal death knight spoke of false heroism and dared to compare his wicked order with either of the banners that Cerryan had sworn himself to. The slow grind of metal scratched at the air as he drew his own gilded greatsword, thick purple crystal honed to a fine edge wreathing the entirety of the blade. "If this monster submits to his baser nature then vengeance for Light's Hope will have been won this day after all." He sneered at the death knight and adopted a guarded stance.

The Death Knights behind Azilrog began to reach for their blades, but the hellish orc put his hand out to stop them. "Hold your blades, let the mongrels that hide behind whispers strike first." Azilrog's ghoul limped up beside him, spewing bile from its jaws at Cerryan. "The Light did not save Fordring from death, why do you think it will save a weakling that nearly died in the Light's most holy cathedral?"

"I am NOT going to repeat myself!" T'suro barked, tightening his grip, sending holy energy into his weapon, making it glow in righteous fury. "On my honor as a Knight and protector of Quel'thalas, both of you are to STAND DOWN, or PAY FOR YOUR ACTIONS!"

"But I didn't die, did I?" Cerryan shot Azilrog an ugly grin. "Perhaps the Light did save me, that day. Perhaps there is a reason that I survived, that I was made to know the weight of betrayal and the burden of loss so closely. Perhaps I have a divine purpose to fill for the Light." He lifted his sword threateningly toward the death knight. "Perhaps you are destined to die by my hand."

The two guardsmen realigned their pikes, one for each group.

Cerryan shot a cold, unapologetic look at T'suro, his marred face perhaps slightly manic. "Stand down, T'suro. Do not stand in the way of Justice."

Raelana's squire on horseback rode up with four other blood knights behind him. The squire bowed to T'suro. "We are at your command." The blood knights saluted and then fall in line behind T'suro, awaiting orders.

"I will not stand down! Not in the homeland I am pledged to!" T'suro shot back, his gaze transfixed on the other paladin. He heared the arrival of the other knights and nodded to them, before turning back to the aggressors yet again. "This is your final warning. We will not tolerate this conflict on Thalassian land!"

Azilrog's icy sockets flared again as he opened his stance to a more aggressive one, transfixed on the enemy as it's told to him. "Your destiny lies with the Blade, and your land in ROT." He stabbed his greatsword forward, an unholy coil in the form of a skull dashing forward from the tip towards Cerryan. Azilrog's ghoul launches itself forward as the scourged dragon took into the sky. The knights behind Azilrog pulled their blades, not riding forward on their deathchargers just yet.

The guardsmen raised the alarm, the entirety of the manor now sealing itself in a pristine barrier of ebony magic as the pylons began firing at will towards the undead dragon. The guardsmen stood on point towards the gate, preparing their weapons against any who would attack it.

"Knights of Silvermoon! Soldiers of the Phoenix Throne!" T'suro commanded, his voice sharp and strong, as though he were a giant, "Those who disrespect Quel'thalas deserve to be punished! Aid the manor guards, and end this aggression against our very land!"

A shell of golden light cascaded outward to meet the coil of unholy magic surging toward the paladin, dissipating the spell on impact as holy light absorbs and consumes the shadow. Cerryan smirked vainly at the death knight; his fixation on Azilrog to the exclusion of all else would be curious were there not a sudden flurry of action amongst the various soldiers. His lips curled to form a stinging rebuke just as the elven ghoul slammed into him with leaping momentum, knocking him to the ground.

The ghoul began to tear at Cerryan's armor, decayed blood spattering onto the elf's face. The dragon flew around, preparing a gout of frost as a pylon lit up one of its wings. It swerved down and crashed into the forest somewhere nearby, the ice breath spouting out towards the manor and edge of the trees. Azilrog threw his hand out, directing a debilitating plague towards the paladins and readying a defensive magic shield.

"Shield formation!" T'suro called out to his fellow Blood Knights. The four ran over to T'suro, forming a tight line with him. Shells of golden light all burst arund them at the same time. Normally this was just a bubble around the individual paladin, but with five present and so close together? Each bubble combined, and now there was solid tube of holy light around the group, shielding them.

"Charge!" T'suro commanded.All of the Blood Knights started running forward, weapons drawn, their combined bubble making it easy for them to just blast through the plague as if it were nothing.

Edited by Catalinetta

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Cat's strides were surprisingly steady as she walked with Phyruss into the courtyard. She didn't stop walking until they had gone far enough that the death knights and paladins left behind the gates could not hear them. Situated near a bench surrounded by a well-tended to (if not beautifully healthy) garden, Cat finally turned to look at their guests. "Alright. Questions."

Phyruss left to attend to a few servants, ordering them off into the manor. He returned several moments later, "There are refreshments coming."

Raelana looked around and breathed out a whispered, "Wow". She flushed, slightly embarrassed. She turns to Phyruss and was about to speak directly to him, then decided against it.  She straightened up and pulled out a small book, her notes, and a small writing utensil from the pocket inside of her breastplate.  She looks between Phyruss and Catalinetta and finally asked, "Would you mind if we sit?"

Cat shook her head quickly. "Oh no. I don't mind." She pointed out the nearby bench and smiled awkwardly at Raelana. "No need to make things even weirder by standing around, I guess."

Regdar and Gelart followed suit with the group.

"Apologies, but perhaps we should do some introductions. While I know some of you," Raelana smiled slightly, "I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the rest of you and would prefer to not have to guess who everyone is." She turned to Catalinetta. "And thank you so much for agreeing to meet with me." She turned and sat on the bench, then carefully lay out the items she pulled out. Then, taking charge, gestured to everyone else to sit.

"My name is Raelana de Bergerac. I serve as a personal advisor to Lady Liadrin and represent her interests by serving as an Ambassador. You can call me Raelana or Rae for short if you prefer. Lady Liadrin has a keen interest in maintaining the peace and getting back to the actual war at hand, which is why I was called in. And while I know some of what has happened, I'm very interested to talk with you about what happened so we can move forward." She paused and looks around. "Does this sound agreeable to everyone?"

"Fair enough. I am Regdar the Red, and this is Gelart, who has awful Orcish but is good enough with it. I'm just going to cut right on down to the chase, if you don't mind. I've lost five other Death Knights just like Catalinetta and I think it was the Silver Hand that killed them. My priority is also peace, specifically, in making sure that none of you try and guilt trip or blackmail Catalinetta into giving up her privacy and secrets, because you're looking for some backhanded route to get your vengeance on the Blade for Light's Hope," Regdar said flatly, with his arms crossed. Gelart, who was human and a bit meek all things considered, was flanking the orc. "If Lady Liadrin has a keen interest in keeping the peace, then she and I are in agreement."

Raelana nodded in respect. "A pleasure to make your acquaintance Regdar. And you too Gelart. And I'm so sorry for your loss." She made a few notes and then turned to the rest of the party. The look on her face showed that she clearly knew who everyone else was, but said nothing, giving everyone a chance to speak.

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“...head home for a bit...I'll be fine....” Instinctively her magic pulled Eive into the manor she had constantly ported back and forth from, visiting the Arath'dorei family at her own leisure. More specifically the huntress of the household. The commotion of a usually quiet manor drew her away from her intention, arms still wrapped around herself in a guarded manner. The soft arcane pop of her arrival was anything but stealthy. She followed the voices and blinked to be at a safe distance from it all, curiously listening to them speak.

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Phyruss suddenly looks to his ring, its gem flashing as it detected a sudden portal entrance. He looked around, soon catching sight of the little mage known as Eive. His eyes widened once more as he subtly signed to her, trying to warn her of the drama nearby.

Eive watched Phyruss carefully, signing back to him with concern. Tabards and tensions spoke louder then contextless words, though they served as a means to piece it all together. Even with his warning, her curiosity would get the better of her. She leaned on a wall as she continued to listen and watch for Phyruss' signing.

Julilee glanced around the others. "I'm here to represent Sanctuary," she said simply. "As its Commander, I want to ensure that Catalinetta's interests and Sanctuary's are protected here. And I don't give a damn what authority the Ebon Blade, the Silver Hand, or the Blood Knights claim they have here. Catalinetta is mine." Her gaze moved over everyone present, flinty.

Silent as a cat, Kreyen drew towards the little mage.  A worried expression clouded his features, but he only lifted a finger to his lips as he passed by.  The squire's eyes pleaded with the gesture for subtlety, right up until the moment that he would have passed into view of the group.  Two things happened at once, both fully in line with his silent request.  A slight shift in his posture changed his weight on the prosthetic leg, causing it's pistons to make just enough noise to be noticeable and letting his boots fall noisily against the ground. More pointedly though, the deep worry was thrown behind a diplomatic and even mask.  The squire moved alongside Phyruss and kept quiet, but his arms over his tabard with unease.  A reassuring look shot towards Catalinetta, but he didn't otherwise interfere.

The corners of Cat's mouth twitched as Juli spoke, as if she wanted to smile but found it difficult under the circumstances. She cleared her throat and waited a moment to speak, her hands instinctively fidgeting at her sides. "Th... thanks, ma'am. Uhm. Miss Raelana, this is my family. Well, sort of. Kreyen," she nodded toward the squire. "He's my fiance, and Phyruss is his cousin. This is their ancestral home. Any chance we have to do this quickly, I'd appreciate. I really don't want to cause any more trouble than I already have. What kinda questions do you have?"

Eive nodded in acknowledgement and anxiously watched onward as the commander of Sanctuary asserted herself and the ranger/paladin joined. It was clear from Cat's words that there was borderline hostility among the gathered and decided against her own better judgememt to stay through it all. Unheard and using Kreyens entrance as a guise, she waited.

Taking a moment to look over the group, Raelana finally turned towards Catalinetta. Choosing her words very carefully, she simply stated, "My goal is to determine why events transpired the way they did and to make a recommendation of a course moving forward." She paused, looking at her notes to try and discern the best path forward, and took a moment to look at everyone still standing. She took a deep breath and proceeded, "I would like to be quite candid with you since I'm not sure you understand why you are of such interest. As a symbol of peace, you, Catalinetta, were offered up by the Ebon Blade as the conspirator behind the attack on Light's Hope Chapel." She looked at Catalinetta as she said this, but quickly continued, "I personally don't believe this to be true. Yes, we know you were there and know you were involved, but I have a difficult time believing you were the 'mastermind' behind it. Especially now that I see the company you retain." She looked at Phyruss. A moment too long passed and she looked back at Catalinetta. "Perhaps it would be best if we start at the beginning. Would you tell us what happened?"

"Uhhhhhhh..." Cat groaned, at a loss for words. With every additional piece of information, the death knight seemed more and more perplexed. Conspirator?! "I.. uh.. well, I guess it all started when I went to the Acherus. I mean, a while back. I'd been in Northrend for a long time, and when I came back, I was sorta.. I guess guided there by the Lich King's voice. He told me he had a plan to stop the Legion. He said we needed the Four Horsemen, but they'd be different. He sent us to different places.. Orgrimmar, the Scarlets, Undercity.." her eyes lowered. "I knew when we were sent there to free Koltira Deathweaver that something was really wrong.. but.. I wasn't sure what to do. I mean, I didn't agree with him being imprisoned either, but.. but we were ordered to sneak in through the sewers so I felt like at least not a lot of people were harmed. Then.. then we were sent to Light's Hope Chapel. Again."

Juli folded her arms as she listened. She nodded slightly in encouragement. Her expression said that she didn't think much of the charge that Cat was the mastermind behind the attack either.

Raelana looked intently at Catalinetta. "And what happened then?"

"Then..." Cat chewed on her tongue as she searched for a way to explain. "..I heard them arguing. Morgraine, he.. he said the Lich King demanded too much. That blood would always be on our hands. I didn't know what he meant, but he told us all that we had to do what he said. We had to go to Light's Hope to raise the fourth horseman. But he knew that the Silver Hand wouldn't let us do it, he knew that we'd fight. He knew and he still said we had to go, because that's what it would take to save the world. He said.. 'the path to the forth horseman will be soaked with righteous blood'."

Reaching up to rub her face, Cat looked particularly ashamed of herself.

"I didn't really understand how dire the situation was. I talked to Kreyen on my hearthstone, and I told him we were being sent on a mission. I wanted to get out of it, but the Lich King's word was law, and if I didn't go it would have meant.. well.. not good things. I just.. I know it was selfish, but.. Kreyen said to be safe. To do what I had to do to be safe. I know you don't remember any of that," she said while looking to the squire. "..but I wanted to come back. So I did what they told me to do."

Raelana spoke quietly. "It's a thin line we all walk - between doing what we think is right and following orders so we can be safe. I know that line all to well - it's how I came to be in this position myself." She looked at Catalinetta, about to say something, then changed her mind. She paused thoughtfully, then continued. "Tell me about that day. At Light's Hope Chapel."

Cat put both hands on her knees and chewed on her bottom lip.

"Uhm.. it was pretty much chaos when we got there. We were many, and they were few. I'm guessing most of the Silver Hand was away fighting on the Broken Isles.  Once we got there, I heard Morgraine say that since they wouldn't give Fordring to us willingly, we'd have to take him by force. There were so many death knights.. so I tried to stay in the back, away from most of the action. He ordered some of us to raise the dead, to act as a distraction. I would have done that, but.. I'm really not.. very good at that sort of thing. So I tried to stay behind those leading the charge within. Except that we're vulnerable to the Light. Really vulnerable. So the ones in the front were taken out quicker than we expected, and I wound up in the thick of it all. That's how I wound up injuring Cerryan. Everything happened so fast and there were so many bodies, everywhere.."

"In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity." Raelana looked at Catalinetta. "Did you know it was him?" She paused, then shook her head. "Never mind, don't answer that. It's not important right now." She shuffled through her notes, laying them out on the bench to form a timeline. A breeze wafts through and threatened to blow them away, but she quickly shuffled most of them back together into a stack and then continued to look through them. "Find the seed...," she muttered to herself, tapping her finger on a note. She put the notes back down on the bench and flipped through the book she had pulled out earlier. Finally, she snapped her book closed and refocused on the other two Death Knights. "And what about you two? What is your take on what happened?"

Juli looked at Raelana for a long moment, but remained silent. She transferred her attention to the death knights.

Phyruss remained where he was, arms folded with a concerned expression on his face. His eyes darted between the investigator and her suspect, then the Commander, then the two death knights and back to the Eive-sdropper to finally settle back on Rae. His gaze stayed there a long time, only breaking when three servants returned with refreshments.

A tray of glasses ready to be filled with the amber iced tea sloshing inside its pitcher was offered all around, as a differing waiter presented a tray of small meats and cheeses.

Phyruss sighed, taking a glass for himself and almost wishing it was from his grandfather's stock of whiskey as he took a sip.

Regdar spoke. "It is obvious to literally all of us that this rumor about Catalinetta is ludicrous. I'm grateful for it, it's what alerted me to this problem, but it's ridiculous. And if we're all in agreement that it's fundamentally ridiculous, then I don't exactly see what information you're looking to get out of her. She isn't a member of the Ebon Blade, and the only Blade members that she's talked to since her departure are me and Azilrog. And, hey, maybe it turns out that he orchestrated this whole thing, Doomhammer knows that his obsession with her makes absolutely zero sense, but even if that was the case, she wouldn't know it. The reason this all cropped up is because she's a renegade so she's not around to stomp it out."

"And-- look," Regdar said while unfolding his arms, "you wanna be pissed about Light's Hope, be my guest, but all this endless back and forth and back and forth. It's not gonna end well for anyone. It's just going to get wrapped up in this cycle of slights and vengeance that kills all of us, literally. You gotta get your people to let that shit go."

While Regdar spoke, Raelana took a glass of tea and took a sip, but passed for the time being on the meats and cheeses. Raelana nodded her head as Regdar spoke, but she raised an eyebrow when he mentioned his brother's obsession and made a few notes. When he finished, she looked him over, cocked her head, and stated, "You never answered my question."

"I'm not going to," Regdar reaffirmed.

"Tirion... is good orc," Gelart began in broken orcish, trying to take some of the lead in the face of Regdar's obstinance. "I knew him. He would not want us to die. He would want to fight. If Knights of Dead could return battlefield to him, he would have fight... ed."

"Tirion would not have wanted that to come at the expense of his own,"  Kreyen said dryly, "Doing what the living cannot also means that you have to make the right decisions.  The Light protects Uther, why would you expect it to be different for Fordring?"  He only let the question hang for a moment before waving a hand shaking his head, "Nevermind, it's not relevant."  The squire shifted at the statement, and directed his attention towards Raelana, "Regdar's point was a good one, regardless.  What is the point of all this if everyone finds it absurd?"

Raelana pursed her lips, not wanting to give away her thoughts on the matter. She looked around at the expectant eyes on her. She met Phyruss' eyes briefly before closing her eyes briefly to think. Finally, she sighed and relents. "Because I'm not convinced that this is over. They may have raised a fourth horseman, but it wasn't Tirion. They failed. And the Ebon Blade doesn't take failure well."

"Furthermore, The Ebon Blade offered up Catalinetta as part of their PEACE treaty. A scapegoat if you ask me. Simply ridiculous and after meeting you, I'm even moreso convinced this was all a ploy. Part of the larger machination on behalf of the Ebon Blade. If this was over, why offer her up at all?" She turned and looks at Regdar. "Don't take this the wrong way, but I've seen this before. When the Blade gets an idea, they follow through until the end. They might not be raising him for one purpose, but perhaps another? Either way, I highly doubt this is over and my objective is to make sure it is over and with the least amount of blood spilled. On both sides. We are at war here and instead of focusing on fighting the Legion, we're fighting amongst ourselves. How useless is that? If you ask me, it sounds like exactly what the Legion wants: Two of the most powerful groups at war with each other." She turned to Kreyen, "Does that answer your question? Or would you like more information?"

"If Cat isn't a part of their organization, then I don't see what grounds they have to offer her up to begin with," Kreyen said, still not really understanding the whole picture more than anyone else.  "And unless we're turning into the Scarlets, I don't see what the Silver Hand to gain from pressing this any further.  I thought the Order was better than that."

Cat waved her hands to get Kreyen and Raelana's attention. "I think I get it. Someone in the Order wanted to bring us to justice, so the Ebon Blade gave me up because I'm expendable. It makes sense, I guess... but I didn't know that the Silver Hand hunted down other rogue death knights," she looked at Regdar. "..do you know who they were? Or who got to them?"

There suddenly came a dome of shadow magic over the entirety of the manor, Phyruss snarling as he brandished his blades to interlock them together into his swallow. He slammed it into the ground, letting shadow and holy magics intertwine with one another as several more guardsmen filed in from the manor. "Kreyen, watch over Cat." He said suddenly before turning to the rest gathered.

"...You are all evicted from my house. I don't care to your allegiance." he stated coldly as he made for the gate. The guardsmen followed to brandish their pikes towards death knights and Sanctuary both.

Cat's eyes widened as she watched the guardsmen gather. "Wait, what? Phyruss, what's going on??"

Kreyen's mouth formd a thin line as the sight of the dome came into view, closing his eyes as he attempted to swallow back his frustration.  "Those are the manor's defenses,"  he said darkly, "Phyruss is responding to the threat."  The squire unfolded his arms and moved to Catalinetta's side, giving each of those gathered a pointed look.  "I trust at least we can conclude this business without any additional nonsense?"

Eive blinked from her spot towards the others, alarm pulling her from hiding to take what little action she could. She stood next to Phyruss and looked around. "Is this what I was supposed to wait for? If not..." She gave a giggle as she smiled nervously at the matrons son. "Definitely too late!"

Regdar reacted immediately to the dome, making for the door. "Gelart, raise a Death Gate. I'm going to get the others and we're going to get out of here." As he moved, he turns to make one, final warning to Catalinetta.

"You are not the first. Five objectors were killed before I stepped foot here. Beware the Silver Hand. They will lop your head off and burn your corpse in the name of their warped view of Justice." With that, he maked his way out to where the fight had begun.

As he took off towards the gate, Eive sighed, then turned to Krey and Cat. "Will you two be okay? Need me to get you out of here?"

Raelana began gathering up her notes.  She looked towards Phyruss as he left, a very sad look on her face. She turned and looks at the Commander, unsure what to say or do. "Well, they managed to keep the peace longer than I thought."

Cat looked at Kreyen in mild panic. "This is my fault. I can't just let them kill each other out there, or let anything happen to your home. I've gotta go help Phyruss."

The squire gave Eive an appreciative smile and a shake of his head before shifting his attention back to Cat.  "It's not your fault," Kreyen said calmly, lifting a hand to her shoulder.  "Someone is using you, and if you go out and get taken in the middle of the brawl, you're just playing into their hands.  There's something else going on."

Eive nodded. "Not for nothing but they definitely can't take you if you aren't here. I can get you to a safe place until things pass. I know one or two." She raises her brows to emphasize the expression.

"But I can't just do nothing… I can't just hide," Cat argued to both.

"Maybe hiding is doing something, you know?” Eive argued. “If they want you and aim to take you then they will do what they can to get you. You might put more people in danger if you go out there."

Raelana looked to Catalinetta. "The wise warrior avoids the battle."

Eive turned to Raelena and nodded, giving her a quick glance over and smiled wide. "Definitely what I intended to say! I’m not saying run to cower. I'm saying run to save lives. They will realize you aren't here and the fight might stop."

"They're right," Juli concurred. She had looked at Phyruss when he spoke of evicting them and done nothing more – yet. "Eiverlyn, I would be grateful if you took her someplace safe, and unknown, temporarily. Cat, go."

Cat let out the combination of a whine and a whimper, ears drooping low. She looked as if she wanted to argue further, but it seemed she was terribly outnumbered. "...yes ma'am."

Despite the death knight's dismay, Kreyen gave an appreciative look to the coterie of elven women.   "It'll be alright, Cat," he said as he gave her his attention, "This is why you have friends, and people you trust.  Phyruss is more than capable, and I don't imagine either your commader or Regdar would be in positions of authority if they weren't as well."  His gaze lingered for a moment, then drifted to Eive, "Do you have someplace in mind?"

Eive blinked over to Cat and placed a finger over the Death knights nose to boop it. "Yes I do. I can take you both if it makes her feel better."

"It'd make me feel better if I were out there with them," Cat whined, rubbing her nose. "This blows."

Kreyen frowned at the non-answer. "I'm either going with you or I'm going to help Phyruss, Cat. Take your pick."

Julilee looked at Kreyen. "You should go with her," she said, though the words were an opinion and not an order.

Raelana looked to Kreyen "With your permission, I'll go help Phyruss"

"Maybe Lord Rayfeather can be summoned to take your place,” Eive suggested. “I sort of know him."

Juli looks at Eive. "Faelenor? If he's willing and available."

Cat blinked. "Uh. Faelenor? That'd be... awkward… but..." she shook her head. "I'm sorry Kreyen, I do want you with me. I just feel like garbage for running away."

"For the Arath'dorei family... he would... er... he probably would, yes!" Eive winced at her own slip, but smiled none the less.

Kreyen made an uncertain face at the mention of the lord, considering. "Tell him what's going on," he said finally, "I think he'd want to know. The two of you should get to the gate though," he added, shifting his attention to the other two elven women, "It wouldn't hurt to help Phyruss break up whatever is going on, if you're looking to mend fences." Cautiously, he let a weary smile draw across his lips. "You don't need my permission."

"Right-o!" Eive said with slight jolt in her step. "I’ll get the two of you somewhere safe and hopefully Lord Rayfeather will be willing and available." She placed a hand on each of their shoulders and bowed to the other two. "Anything else before we go?"

Raelana glanced at Catalinetta. "Don't feel bad. Sometimes the best thing to do is to protect yourself.  I hope we can talk again soon." She bowed her head. "Be safe. Shorel'aran." She turned and took off after Phyruss.

"What she said!" With a quick pop, an iridescent purple flash was all that remained of the three.

Edited by Catalinetta

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Posted (edited)

Juli glanced at those remaining, looking over Raelana briefly. She remembed the prowess the Blood Knight had showed at the battle for Shal'Aran. Redgar got a more closed look. "I'm going to go collect Cerryan and T'suro, and leave," she said. "I suggest no one gets in my way." She turned to head back out.

Leaping over the gate, Phyruss landed alongside his two guardsmen. Hope and Sorrow flashed their prospective runes in a combined flash of intermingled Shadow and Light as he whirled them around in a flashy display.

"Enough of this! Sheathe your blades or die on them!" He shouted, the pylons conjoining their strength to begin burning between the two forces before they could collide.

Raelana ran up a moment later behind Phyruss. She grabbed his hand and squeezed, then flushed bright red and dropped it. She quickly placed it on his shoulder instead. As he turned, her face softened, her eyes speaking concern both for him and the situation at hand. Quietly she asked, "How can I help? Kreyen and Catalinetta have left and are safe."

Juli was right behind. She didn’t yet draw her sword and shield. "Cerryan, T'suro, stand down," she called, her voice sharp. "We're leaving."

Phyruss turned back, actually managing a small show of relief at Raelana there. His head swiveled back to the battle at hand, his blades readied. "Call off the Blood Knights if you can, I will try to--"

"Ebon Blade!” Regdar yelled. “Our purpose here is complete. Catalinetta is safe from the Silver Hand, and that is all that we were here to accomplish!" He addressed the tense group behind Azilrog rather than the skeletal orc himself, pleading with them rather than ordering them. "Every single one of you left the Ebon Blade because of needless battles with the Silver Hand. None of you need to repeat those events."

Caught between their disdain for the paladins and their respect for Regdar, the Ebon Blade members disengaged from their stances of war.

A rift opened close by, starting off small before expanding. Nothing came through at first but after a few seconds of being open a barrage of arrows shoots out, each one missing the paladin to make a pin cushion out of the ghoul. A hooded ranger came out of the portal with another arrow nocked and ready to be loosened. He makes his way to Cerryan's side and smirked, saying nothing at all.

Cerryan shoved the pincushioned ghoul off him as his hands swelled with light, the risen elf burning away in holy fire before it his the ground in front of the paladin. He scrambled to his feet, standing next to the hooded ranger and quirking an eyebrow as recognition began to set in, but then seemed compelled to return his disdainful gaze towards Azilrog. He gripped his crystalline blade and readied himself to surge forth at the death knight as Julilee's words pierce the air.

"Commander, if we leave them here now, they will return. They will continue to pursue Cat until she is in chains or worse. They will continue to work their wickedness on the world we are sword to protect. We have to stop them, here and now." Despite his words, he didn’t move an inch towards the knights of the Blade, but his gauntleted hands gripped the hilt of his blade tightly, and he shook with unnatural rage.

Azilrog's skull turned, looking at the entirely elven company of enemy forces. Regdar and the other Ebon Blade forces started to disappear through death gates behind him. He sheathed the greatsword on his back. "Elven reinforcements for the elven paladins and elven commander. Hide behind them, wretch. Unlike some, the Ebon Blade sees the value in those unlike themselves." The scourged dragon squeezed through the gate after the rest of the Knights, keeping close its injured wing. The skeletal knight pulled the hood back up over his skull. "Until next time, karanzol platoon." He turned on his heel and made for the death gate.

Juli moved forward to put her hand on Cerryan's arm. She didn’t seem surprised by the paladin's vehemence, as though it doesn't strike her as out of character for him. "He can do nothing but make incendiary accusations," she said. "Give him no fuel for them." She watched the death knights leave.

"You give him too much power over you..." Fael placed his hand on the paladin's other shoulder, sighing as he looked back at the gates of the Estate. "I don't know what this is about... but no one will be taking Cat. What little I have been told has my attention and I'll be damned if someone goes after my family. Knights of either side be warned. My sister will not be at anyone's mercy. End your attempts now or make another enemy today."

Cerryan watched the death knights as they withdrew, his gaze transfixed on Azilrog until he could no longer be seen, at which point the paladin sagged slightly as his bluster diminished. He blinked, momentarily thrown off before latching on to his own convictions once more. "We're not here to hurt her, brother. We're here to... protect her, from those wretches." He gestured with his sword at the area where the death gate stood. "And I can't promise that they won't be back, looking for her. In fact I'd count on them doing so."

"If my warning is not heeded then I will not make it easy for the next who tries. If she needs protection from a wretch then she will receive it. I do not doubt your intentions and even in this state of mind you are in, I can trust you wouldn't do something so rash." Faelenor nodded to Juli, certain she would keep the paladin in check. "Call off your search and I will consider that as an act of faith and good will. Persistence will get you nowhere in this."

T'suro ordered the Blood Knights to stop, but it was clear he was far from thrilled about it. "I was doing my job as a soldier of this land. I tried to keep the peace, yet my authority, THALASSIAN authority, was ignored!" T'suro swung his spear, the tip pointed tellingly at Cerryan "You and your damn tongue are as guilty for putting us in jeopardy as that Death Knight was!" The Knight-Lord's gaze sharpened. "No wonder you were kicked out, you lack even the most basic control!" He then turned to Julilee. "I will leave... with Cerryan, to throw him into a jail cell. Unless you wish to stop me?"

Raelana frowned at the situation at hand, but was grateful that the death knights left. She looked between those left. "What EXACTLY happened? We leave you out here and you can't even keep the peace until we get back?! You know what? Don't answer that. I really don't care. T'suro, Liadrin will want a report on this. I want to read it first." She turned to Cerryan disappointedly, "I don't know what you said, but I expected more from you." She shook her head and turned to Juli, "We are here on your good graces, you can decide how you want to deal with your Marshall. I can't speak for what T'suro wants, but he is fully within his rights to arrest him." She turned, looked at Phyruss, clearly embarrassed and apologetically stated, "I'm so sorry this happened" then turned to walk back inside the manor.

Phyruss huffed a disgruntled breath before planting his swallow in the ground. He turned a baleful gaze towards those gathered, "I expect you all off my property when I return." He stated with a cold tone, making to head after Rae as the gates shut behind him.

Julilee looks at T'suro appraisingly. "What are the charges?" she said. "Did he attack or simply defend himself?" Her voice was fair and even, not giving an inflection as to which she thought was the case.

"He incited violence and provoked a known aggressor into action." T'suro said, bluntly and matter of fact. "He both disrespected and flat out refused to follow the commands of a soldier of Quel'Thalas, continuing to aggravate the situation." He kept his spear still pointed at the other paladin. "I would have arrested both of them, but Azilrog escaped."

Fael stepped forward, standing by Cerr once more. "He defended himself, you have nothing to hold him. He's free to go on my authority, Farstrider authority. You want to argue that then take it up with the Ranger-General. Until you can bring in Azilrog you will not be taking in Cerryan. He's done more for Quel'thalas and his people then you did here today."

"Provocation isn't a crime," Juli says, "but if you want to arrest him for disobeying a lawful order, go ahead." She looked at Faelenor. "Cerryan could use some time to cool his heels," she continued. "It won't do any harm."

Faelenor frowned. "Then he can do so under my custody."

Juli nodded, accepting that, and looked at T'suro.

"You were not there, Farstrider." T'suro spat. "Who are you to judge on this matter? The instant violence started, me and this squadron were immediately in arms to defend the manor and quell the aggressing parties." T'suro shook his head. "I did more for this country tonight than you did."

Cerryan raised his arms in submission, nodding at the Blood Knight's words. "It’s fine, Faelenor. T'suro is not incorrect in his assessment, and I'd rather not see any further bad blood between the Farstriders and the Blood Knights. I will go under his custody and 'cool my heels', as the Commander says. Besides..." He smirked knowlingly at his adoptive brother, "It won't be my first time sitting in a cell in Silvermoon."

"Fine," Juli said. "I've got actual business to attend to. You men finish deciding who's got the biggest weapon here." She turned and left.

"That’s the problem I have with this... You and I have seen enough time unfairly imprisoned among other things, but if you are to do so willingly then I will not stop you." He turned with a glare to T'suro before walking away. "Not worth my time..."

Cerryan opened his mouth to speak further to Juli, but let his words devolve into a saddened sigh and let her go. He turned to T'suro, lowering his head respectfully at the younger elf. "I am at your mercy, Sunspear. I will follow you without argument, but if this display has lost me your faith then you may bind me if you wish."

"If you were here he would have disrespected you as well," T'suro shot back at the retreating Faelenor, returning the Farstrider's glare. He sighed and turned back to Cerryan. "I trust you enough not to be a reckless idiot when flanked by knights. Now summon your mount."

Cerryan called for his talbuk, the mount's armor clinking lightly as it looks up from its grazing and saunters towards its master. He lifted himself onto the saddle and ran a hand through the noble beast's tan fur. "Lead on, Knight-Lord. I will follow." After a moment, he looked back at Faelenor, clicking his jaw as he spoke reticently. "...make sure she's okay. That's all that is important."

Faelenor nodded. "I will not let anyone harm her, so long as I live. Be well and reach out to me if you ever need my help. Tread carefully, brother."

T'suro called forth his own mount: a jet black charger adorned in red and gold armor. He mounted it and turned to his knights. "Surround him. We need to make sure no harm comes to him." They did so, mounting their standard Thalassian chargers and gathering around Cerryan. "Move out!"

T'suro and the paladins headed out towards Silvermoon with their charge, aiming to keep a safe eye on him.

Edited by Catalinetta

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Silvermoon City. Or rather, the rebuilt half of it. A shining beacon of magical power positioned at the northern most reaches of the Eastern Kingdoms. Spellbreaker guards patrolled the streets as a cavalcade of paladins make their way through the city.

After staying silent for most of the journey, T'suro finally spoke up. "What were you thinking? Were you thinking?" He asked Cerryan, rather pointedly.

Cerryan had kept silent as well, choosing to reflect on the last few hours while taking in the familiar, warming sights of his homeland on the way to and through the city. The boiling anger that had infested him at Arath'dorei Manor when he was staring down that vile skeleton of a death knight had subsided, but lacking in a firm and finite reason for his actions, he rolled back to the convictions that the anger was nurtured from.

"Because they're monsters, T'suro. You know as well as I do that this won't be the end of their antagonism. They'll hunt her to the ends of Azeroth, and Light knows what will come of her then. All in the interest of shielding themselves from the justice that I would have gladly dispensed were I not... discouraged, by the authority of the Commander. And now they are gone, I am to be imprisoned, and with any luck Catalinetta has been secreted away enough that she'll not be found by the Blade." He purses his lips pensively, furrowing a brow in consternation. "Or the Hand, truth be told. I don't know what conspired inside the Manor, and trust that my feelings about the wayward knight's accountability for her actions have not changed, but she appears to have become more of a pawn that both sides are fighting over than... well, a criminal awaiting trial. But I fear that Justicar Tamaryth's zeal will do little better for her than the Blade's own vicious tenacity, and I cannot pretend that I was unmoved by Commander Liene's argument in her defense."

He sighed, slouching further into the saddle of his golden talbuk. "I suppose it matters little either way, to me. I'll have plenty of time to ‘think about what I've done’ while both sides claw at each other over their 'prize'."

"In Sanctuary, you're a Marshal. You have to lead us all, and set an example to the rest of us." T'suro stated. "I know that the Ebon Blade are monsters, but you flying off the handle makes you look completely unstable and unfit to lead." His words were bitingly matter-of-fact.

"I don't know what will happen from here, to be honest. But Azilrog's actions have made the Ebon Blade targets to be dealt with on sight as well." He shook his head and sighed, slumping back on his Courser. "I didn't think this would be how things would end up when I asked to be a part of this. But you should be thankful that your outburst happened here, where you only have to deal with being arrested. Imagine for a moment if what you did happened in Durotar, or Forsaken-controlled Lordaeron. They would not be so... forgiving. There's a reason Orgrimmar has an arena instead of a regular prison."

Cerryan sucked in a breath, stung by the younger Blood Elf's words. "I apologize for my loss of composure. I... I do not know what it was, but in that moment there seemed to be no path but righteous punishment of the wicked, and I am not entirely unconvinced that it would have been wrong to further engage, even against your authority. But it was -because- it was you that I submitted, that I handed myself over to your knights and accepted responsibility for my actions in defiance of your orders. Were we elsewhere, I have the means to extricate myself and the authority under the banner of a Horde-aligned faction to excuse my faults, but I was not willing to leave a mess in your hands without someone to speak for it."

"In other words you don't feel you have to pay for disobeying a direct command from a country's soldiers and then causing a fight that literally put everyone present in danger, you're merely choosing to?" T’suro asked again. "It shouldn't matter if it was me or not. What if it wasn't? Hell, what if Lor'themar himself was the one telling you to stop?"

The group made their way into Farstrider Square, where the city's prison was. Two Spellbreakers flanked the door, and parted, allowing the group access when they arrived. T'suro ordered the other knights off then dismmounts, leaving him alone with Cerryan.

Cerryan was at a loss for words in responding to the Blood Knight, caught pretty blatantly in his double-standard. Any attempt to save face he'd make involving respect for T'suro would easily crumble to the truth that he would not have respected all authorities the same way, and the paladin was forced to chew on that silently as the younger elf brought him into the prison for processing.

T'suro noted Cerryan's instant silence as he brought him in. The prison was dimly lit, fitting for an underbelly section of Silvermoon. After bringing Cerryan toward the warden, he took hold of Cerryan, dragging him to an empty cell while T'suro watched. Cerryan was ushered in and the barred door closed behind him, locking with a combination of standard and magic locks. "You'll be released tomorrow, take comfort in that, at least."

A blood knight with long black hair and a friendly smile stood a few feet away, watching as T'suro shut Cerryan behind the bars. He saluted to other knight respectfully.

T'suro gave the other Knight a salute in return. "Anything I can do for you?" He asked respectfully.

"Nothing at all, sir. I'm just here to stand guard for the day. An unnecessary precaution, I am sure, but a requirement none the less."

T'suro nodded a bit, smiling slightly. "Ah, fair enough. We needn't worry about this one, though."

"I don't doubt it, sir. I'm just here to follow the rules," the knight replied, shrugging helplessly.

"Understood, carry on then." T'suro said with a nod, making his way out.

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There was a knock on Juli's door.

"Come in."

It was T'suro, gulping slightly as he entered. "Hello, Commander."

"T'suro." Juli was standing near her bookshelf. She held a journal in her hands which she snapped shut as she regarded the Blood Knight. She didn’t ask him what he wanted, she simply looked at him expectantly.

"I feel I owe you an apology and full explanation for what happened at Arath'dorei Manor."

She continued just looking at him.

"Look, you left me outside with Cerryan and Azilrog while you went to go talk to Cat. The two of them... I don't know what happened, but they both started getting a lot more aggresive. I told them to stop. I'm a Blood Knight of Quel'Thalas. While we were there, I had the power to make them stop, to put them down if they bring danger to others within the land." He sighed. "At least, in theory. They ignored me until I had to start shouting at them, at which point Cerryan told me to stand down, as if thinking I had no power anywhere." He stops to look at Julilee. "I know he's my superior here, in Sanctuary. But I'm still part of Silvermoon's military, it was a difficult position."

"Mmhmm," Juli hummed. "So why apologize?"

"Because it looked like we were all being petulant children when you finally arrived on the scene." T'suro stated. "I was worried that you were angry at me trying to arrest him, and that my reasons seemed a flimsy excuse."

"So you're sorry I misunderstood?" she inquired.

T'suro winced at the words. "No. I'm sorry that I did what I did. Arresting one of my Sanctuary superiors."

Juli’s arms folded, the journal dangling from one hand. The words "PRIVATE - DO NOT READ" could be seen on the cover. So could a sketch of what looked like a Kor'kron war banner. "So are you sorry you did it?" she asked. "Because you seem to be saying you felt it was the right choice."

T'suro took note of the sketch but didn’t pay it any mind for the time being. He sighed and shrugs. "I guess I'm saying... both of those things?" He hung his head. "If you feel the need to reprimand me, I won't fight it."

"The only thing to reprimand you for is apologizing," she said. She unwound her arms, putting the journal onto the shelf and walking over to him. One finger jabbed into his shoulder lightly. "If you're going to make a call like that, stick by it. Your job here in Sanctuary is to represent the Blood Knights. So do it."

T'suro blinked at the commander's words. He felt... enlightened, somehow. He smiled and stood in salute. "So be it, thank you, Commander."

"You're welcome," she replied. "Now get my Marshal back to work, please."

T'suro blinked. "I, uhh... I can't. He's to stay imprisoned for a full 24 hours."

Juli nodded. "See that it's no longer.”

"...Understood." T'suro replied.

She paused. "One more thing. Have you dealt with Tam -- High Justicar Tamaryth before?"

T'suro shook his head. "No, I haven't. I've been in the field for most of the Isles campaign. Especially when the combined elven army arrived in Suramar, I reported directly to Liadrin without going to Light's Hope."

"Probably for the best," Juli said. "Be wary of her. She'll boss you around if you let her."

"I will always defer to Liadrin in such matters." He nodded. "But the advice is welcome."

"Anytime," she says. "Was there anything else you wanted from me?"

"Well..." T'suro sighed. "I know you might not wish to disclose that information, but where is Cat? I genuinely care for her wellbeing. I'm not out to hurt her or capture her or anything. I want to know that she's safe."

"I don't know," Juli replied.

T’suro blinked. "...Oh."

"Also probably for the best. Anything else?”

T'suro shook his head.

"All right," Juli said. "Be safe." She gave him a wave and turned to go back to the bookshelf.

Tsuro nodded and left after giving a salute.

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Once he returned to Acherus, Regdar dismissed the Knights he brought to Arath'dorei and made his way to the dark summoners on the apex of the Ebon Hold. He spoke with them for a time, about nothing quite so serious at all before finally making his request. In light of the camaraderie, they agreed to the orc's request and began their summoning work. When it was done, the Red Knight led the spoils back to a Death Gate of his own making, deep inside of Scourge territory in Eversong Woods.

Deep in the dead scar, a death gate materialized. Among the whispering winds of the forest, a faint echo of a haunting howl eminated from the gate, attracting no attention at all from the myriad of ghouls and abominations and nerubian husks in the area. It was the only sound that was made by the silent creatures, unseen to the naked eye, as they took off high into the air towards Silvermoon and Arath'dorei Manor.

Meanwhile, at the manor, Phyruss’ arms found their way around the blood knight within the courtyard, hischin resting upon the crown of her head as he gently rocked her within his grasp.

"I am sorry your first time here was marred by this..." He stated apologetically.

"I never would have guessed when we both said we had to attend to business that we would end up here,” Raelana sighed. “How utterly embarrassing." She looked up at Phyruss. "I was worried you were mad at me for coming here under such conditions."

Phyruss sighed, pecking Rae on the head. "At first, yes...thought...well rather dark things..." An admittance that had him sigh in retrospective embarrassment. "I am sorry for doubting you."

Raelana feigned offense and playfully hit Phyruss in the shoulder while exclaiming, "Well, I never!"

She cracked a smile, her eyes twinkling in the light showing that she understood and wasn't upset. She looked around awe struck, and finally stood on her tiptoes and gives him a quick kiss. "Your words did not do your home justice, it's more beautiful than I had even pictured." She sighed, "I cannot believe what just transpired." She leaned into him more, closed her eyes as she took in a deep breath. "I've seen children more well behaved. They acted like a bunch of novices." She finally shook her head, "You probably don't want to hear about business..."

Phyruss took a deep breath, managing a weary smile at the kiss. He leaned on her a little, showcasing just how tired he was from the affair and maybe even more than that. "...It’s something..." he sighed, clutching her once more within his arms, "I don't mind... I could hear you talk about gnome hairstyles and be invested in your silken voice."

He smirked a little, letting himself relax until the dome reactivated once more and a guardsmen approached. He bowed to the lord, "My lord...there's a small horde of undead approaching from the forests."

"...No rest for the weary..." He commented under his breath, pulling from Rae to walk alongside his guard. "Activate all the defenses... not one ghoul touches my mother's gate." He ordered, guardsmen filing under the dome for protection.

The crystals illuminated through the darkened sphere, searing flashes that burned anything that came close. Phyruss stood on top of a small guard tower, peering out to the barren field where the rotten creatures were felled by the dozens.

The undead hordes never even made it halfway across the manor’s field, and Phyruss would shudder mentally at the thought of the smell that would come their way with a breeze. He intertwined his hand with Raelana’s as ashes littered the fields of death.

Raelana, who was watching from the distance, walked forward and stood next to Phyruss. She looped her hand into his and rest her head on his arm. After a while, she reached for Phyruss' face and pulled him into a kiss. "Care to give me a tour?" she asked with a wink and a mischievous smile.

"Of course... but do be careful when we go into the back gardens, some of Mother's creations tend to like meat..." Phyruss said with a wink back, guiding her off the tower as the undead swarms blackened the sky with smoke from their pyres.

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Najme stood in front of her desk, deep in the basement of the chapel. There were few offices, and hers was particularly tight in space. Reading over a report, she waited for the arrival of a certain knight.

Tamaryth arrived, a frown etched on her brow. "Lady Najme, what can I do for you?"

"Tamaryth," Najme said kindly, smiling. "I heard there was a bit of a kerfluffle at the Arath'dorei estate. Can you tell me what happened?"

"I cannot," Tamaryth said stiffly, "as Sanctuary's Commander forbade me from accompanying them. I told you she cannot be trusted to be impartial with me heading the investigation. You'll need to speak to Master Raelana for a report."

"...I see. Hmm." Najme furrowed her brow and flipped through her notes. "I have an assignment for you, then. Are you aware of the Arath'dorei family and their connection to the Silver Hand?"

"Not in particular," Tamaryth replied. "Brief me."

"D'aragon's betrothed is a squire of ours, one Kreyen Arath'dorei." Najme explained, tapping her notebook with a fingertip. "I was hoping that we might avoid troubling him, but apparently after Sanctuary attempted to intervene, they are both missing. Now, I can contact Sir Granthas. He will be able to call on the squire and, with any luck, summon him here. However when he arrives, I want you to question him. The running that he and D'Aragon did is highly suspicious, and I know you will be able to learn more from him than anyone."

"Gladly," said Tamaryth.

Nadme bowed her head in thanks. "Thank you. I will let you know when he arrives."

Tamaryth nodded, turned, and left.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

As seemed to be usual now, Najme looked busy behind her desk as she waited on Granthas. The human kept pushing strands of brown hair behind her ears as she looked over lists, assigning names to other names and schedules. Her underground office was humid, and without a window, stiflingly hot.

The grizzled war veteran made his way into the depths with a look of grim irritation.  Granthas was about as dirtied as ever, part of the rewards of his nearly constant work.  The Silver Hand recruits were almost all unpolished, and whipping them into the shape required to fight the relentless waves of the Burning Legion was a taxing task.  To combat the heat without, the human's stark white hair had been pulled back and bound into a short ponytail, but there was little that could be done to tame his beard.  As he reached the office he was searching for, the aged paladin lifted a gauntlet clad fist and rapped on the door frame.

"Can we make this quick?"  he asked, keeping his gravely voice even.

Najme stood and waved Granthas in. His ponytail was inspiring. "Yes of course, this will only be a moment," she said gently, nodding toward a pitcher of water on her desk and two wooden cups. "Please, refresh yourself. It is frightfully hot down here."

Granthas waved a hand, but moved forward to draw himself into a seat.  "It's not much better up top,"  he grumbled, reclining noisily but not quite letting himself get comfortable.  "What's this about, Lady Najme?"

"A little assignment I've been given recently, regarding the attack," she answered while pouring herself a glass. "I thought it would be a simple enough task. I'm sure they thought so too, or they wouldn't have assigned me to it, but it seems things have escalated.. I'm sorry, let me start over." Najme took a long drink of water and wiped her forehead. She regarded Granthas with very tired brown eyes, as if she'd been staring at papers all day.

"Regardless of recent developments between our orders, one of my superiors was insistent that we attempt to bring some sort of closure to the bad blood between us and the Ebon Blade. As a peace offering, they provided us with the name of a death knight who was involved in the attack and soon afterwards defected. They mentioned she had some sort of hand in planning this event, but I think it's clear that isn't true. In any case, I was hoping to ask her a few simple questions but the person I assigned to this mission has reached road blocks. Namely the fact that this death knight belongs to a guild called Sanctuary, and their Commander does not want us anywhere near her death knight charge. She took her own group to question the girl, only for there to be some sort of.. I do not even know, a fight of some kind? Between them and members of the Ebon Blade. One of our own, Sir Cerryan Vyel, was arrested. And the death knight herself disappeared. That is why I have asked you to come. I have heard you are friendly with a certain squire. Kreyen Arath'dorei? Is that true?"

Granthas listened with a stony gaze, not showing the least bit of interest in the political maneuvering of either organization.  His expression bordered on boredom when the woman's exposition took a rather abrupt turn, breaking his show of disinterest and furrowing his brow.  "Aye, but what does that have to do with any of this?"

"The death knight in question is his fiance," Najme said with an awkward smile. "They have disappeared together. I have no idea where they are. I assume they both believe they are in some kind of danger, but I want to reassure them that this is not the case. I was wondering if you might attempt to get in touch with him? Ask if perhaps he might be amicable to visiting the chapel for some questions. Reassure him that this is not some kind of interrogation."

The old paladin's mustache twitched at the question, and he did not immediately answer.  His blue-grey gaze was harsh, and not entirely trusting as it lingered and gauged the woman's intent.  "Perhaps,"  he said finally, "But he's not like to put his head on a platter if he's expecting trouble.  What exactly are you looking to learn from the girl, and why would her guild's involvement spook the both of them if they're looking to protect her?"

"That is what I would like to ask him," Najme said before taking another long drink of water. "What I want to know from this death knight is why her order was so keen on giving us her name. Why Sanctuary was so strict against us questioning her. Why there has been conflict in what should have been a relatively simple investigation. I mean honestly, do I look like the kind of person they would assign something serious? But now Vyel is imprisoned in Silvermoon, and this is the same death knight who seriously injured him. Now I am hearing rumors about there being some kind of.. inquisition by the Silver Hand on rogue death knights. So I would like to understand exactly what is happening before it escalates into something serious."

Granthas' expression only darkened as Najme explained the situation, shifting his scowl towards the floor.  There was too much to worry about with the Legion currently assaulting Azeroth to get sidetracked with political infighting.  He rubbed his face with the leather palm of his gauntlet, and then nodded.  "I'll see if I can talk to him.  Not sure I could get him here, but I might be able to get his side of things at least."  The old paladin let out a heavy sigh and then straightened as if to leave.  "Is there anything else?"

"No, that's all. I appreciate your help. If you do manage to get him down here, could you ask if he would be open to speaking with one of the other knights I have working on this case? Her name is Tamaryth, and she is very thorough. I trust her to ask the kind of questions that will finish this quickly."

"It sounds as though I'm going to be stretching his trust as it is,"  Granthas grumbled.  He stood, still scowling as he directed an icy gaze at the woman.  "Took me near to a month even to get him to consider the Order, and if we've idiots running around like Scarlets, it'll prove all his concerns well-founded."  He shook his head and turned to leave.  "We don't have the luxury of losing good recruits to this sort of horseshit, Najme.  Don't expect much."

Najme held up her hands helplessly. "What else can I do, Granthas? I am attempting to clear the air, here. Make things look less chaotic. Ignoring what happened will only result in more hot heads attempting to take justice into their own hands. I can understand if he is concerned for her safety, but I truly have no intention of her being hurt in any way. In fact, if they are open to the idea, I think it would be rather useful to have an ally who knows more about the Blade. Perhaps she can offer some insight that we do not possess."

"If you want this one's trust, you'd better make sure those rumors are false then."  Granthas turned at the door and leveled another look at the woman, irritated.  "Or find who they are and deal with them properly.  I'll see what I can do, but if I can't convince him they don't exist don't expect him to show."  He paused, giving her a pointed look before he added, "Much less bring her with him."(edited)

"I would not ask him to bring her here unless he trusted us. Or at least trusted our intentions. As for dealing with certain knights.." she looked past him, into the hallway. "..what do you suggest we do there? I would be interested in hearing your opinions on that matter."

There was a commotion outside, like the sounds of a rally within the church. Knights and templars both crowded around a set pedestal in which an aged human was vehemently giving a speech. His greyed black hair waved wildly as he poured his zeal into his words, the massive hammer in one of his hands gripped tightly enough that it looked as though he was preparing to use it to crush someone.

"Fellow knights! Hear me! Your superiors are plaguing you with doubt and sloth when there should be action and retribution!" He fumed, slamming a golden armored fist onto his altar. "The wretched monsters that call upon powers we as paladins have spent years in fighting are gaining power and influence! This Ebon Blade has revealed themselves to be no better than the Scourge they so stem from! Are we to wait like sheep to the slaughter before they vaunt their so-called necessary justice towards us in the form of their blackened runeblades stealing our very souls?!"

This earned him a slight cheers and applause from his crowd, which was startlingly starting to grow. "Now, our brother-in-arms Sir Vyel is imprisoned for daring to arrest one of these abominations! I ask you, knights of the Silver Hand, WHERE IS THE JUSTICE?!"

"Purge anyone inciting the violence, and then see if the Ebon Blade would want to help figure out who the culprits are," Granthas stated plainly.  "Do the same to them.  If you want to rebuild trust, we should damn well be working with them again to make sure this shit doesn't spread.  We will lose against the Legion if we don't stop fighting amongst our own, Najme.  We don't have time for this."

"I am not disagreeing with you, Granthas, I simply.." Najme paused mid-sentence, looking toward her left. Though situated underground, there was a noticeable commotion happening outside. It wasn't enough that she could hear exactly what was happening, but the some reverberation could be felt coming through the bricks. "What on Azeroth is happening up there?"

The old paladin grumbled and shook his head.  "I don't know.  But I've had enough nonsense for the day."  Granthas' mouth set in a line at the statement, stalking off to find the source of the problem so that it could be dealt with.

Najme stood from her desk and followed behind Granthas. "It can't be another attack," she reasoned, grabbing the large hammer she hung on the wall before leaving her office. "They would have notified us by now."

As Granthas came upon the makeshift 'rally', his scowl deepened as anger began to flood it.  His gaze narrowed on the old man on his soap box, catching scent of the energy in the crowd in the expressions and demeanor of those gathered.  His arms crossed over his chest, his voice boomed across the crowd like a reproachful parent.  He'd been training recruits at the Chapel since the Argent Crusade, and knew enough of the faces to be angry about their presence.  "Don't you lot have something better to do?"

"Just as nature abhors the fel, does not the Light abhor the undead?! Look around and see if there any of the plague-addled Forsaken here amongst you...The Light denies them just as it should those Scourge-lov-" Stahls's rant was cut short by the appearance of his colleague, several attendees cowing to the trainer and departing.

 

"Brother Granthas, so good of you to join us....What better use of time is there than to inspire the next generation to action so they do not suffer under the unprovoked aggression of the undead menace as we did?"

Najme sighed heavily, hoisting her hammer over one shoulder. It appeared over-sized against the young woman's body, but she seemed to hold it easily enough. "By the Light, aren't you supposed to be getting those recruits ready for the Broken Shore?"

His speech started gaining momentum again, launching into a tirade to rail against the Ebon Blade. Spittle flew from his mouth as he opened it once more, bellowing to all who hear him. "How long do we sit idle whilst their bastion of evil floats so dangerously close to beloved Dalaran?! How soon before they judge themselves better than we mere mortals as did their defeated master?"

"ENOUGH!" Granthas bellowed.  A wave of warm light errupted from around the paladin, clearing the air and removing some of the lingering negative emotion that had been building.  "Constance, unless you were suddenly promoted to Highlord, I suggest you get off that damned box and get back into the field where you belong.  Fighting the Legion."

"Sister Najme..." Stahls slows down somewhat, "I prepare our recruits with words of courage, to alight their hearts in holy fire in preparation for the vindication at hand! The demons shall fall to us as they have at Hyjal! As they have here in Lordaeron! We are paladins of the Holy Light; the few, the proud, and the righteous defenders against all evils that plague our world! Be it fel or the undead menace that has so brazenly attacked our home not once, but twice!"

Stahls cleared his throat, adjusting his armor as he hefted his hammer high. "There is always time for a good few words from those elder, Granthas...Not of all of us choose to punch our students to enlightenment."

"I am currently undertaking a task that will hopefully keep that from happening again," Najme said quietly, glancing around to see if anyone else was listening. "This is not helping."

"Just because you're elder, doesn't make you wise,"  Granthas shot back, still scowling.  His attention turned back to the crowd then, looking amongst its members.  "You seem to conveniently forget the Forsaken who fought alongside us in the Argent Crusade, or the Priests who were there when we aided Netherlight Temple.  The only enlightenment you're offering is how to feed ourselves to the demons."  His gaze narrowed, "Now.  Get down, lest I report this idiocy to the Highlord.  Who, need I remind you, settled matters with the Ebon Blade."

"Unlike our superiors," Stahls stepped down to enter the crowd, pacing towards Granthas and Najme. "I am not all talk and bluster, and the demons will not wait around for us to placate them with kind words after their invasion." He said, almost snarling back at his fellow veteran. "What I do not forget, is the last time someone began raising the dead en masse."

His speech ceased then, pausing only to whisper something to Granthas in a quick aside, before leaving.

Najme blinked, holding her hands up in frustration. "What in the world did he tell you?"

Granthas' gaze trailed after the other aged paladin, snorting in response to the whispered words.  "Enough," he muttered to Najme, turning his attention onto what was left of the crowd again.  "Do I need to report you lot as well?"  he asked, getting them to start scattering in earnest.  When things started to settle, he turned his attention back to her.  "Enough to know to warn Kreyen of the lynch mob that'd be waiting for his girl if he brought her in."

"But.." Najme's face went from concerned to angry as she looked toward the direction in which Stahls went. "That fucking cun--, oh goodness, I am sorry," she said quickly, shaking her head as she attempted to calm herself. "I have been trying to work on this case for weeks! He and his ilk are making it impossible!"

"Him and his ilk don't belong here,"  Granthas said firmly, "and now I've got recruits to inoculate from his idiocy.  I suggest you report it to the Highlord."  The weathered warrior started to move then, heading back towards the training fields.  "I'll let you know if he wants to talk."

"Thank you, Granthas," Najme said exhaustedly. "Please give them both my apologies. I would guarantee their safety if I could. For now, I suppose that is not possible. I will report to the Highlord. Hopefully he will have something to say on the matter. Light bless you."

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Errtu was the youngest of the five, a Runetotem Sunwalker trudging across the rainy, mucky Eastern Plaguelands. It'd been raining all night, in fact, which Errtu personally found to be a blessing. His commander had said the rain was good; things were tense at Light's Hope and it would keep the paladins gathered around from having another makeshift "rally" like the one that was held the day before. Errtu wasn't sure what to think of the talk of more fighting with the Ebon Blade, but he was a dutiful soldier and was inclined to agree with his Bloodhoof commander. The tauren of Light's Hope clung together tighter than most of the other races, even the Blood Knights or Vindicators, following the lead of the likes of Dezco or Aponi in service to the Highlord. Most of them seemed uninterested in the bickering and focused on the war against the Legion, but even among their tight-knit community, some had begun to whisper about the activities of the Ebon Blade. Still, though, Errtu remained unchanged. In fact, he rode out on their charge with a reflexive hope swelling in his heart. He had always been an optimistic tauren, raised in the Barrens and eventually settling in The Crossroads when the Horde settled the land for good and their nomadic ways were put to rest. In the Barrens, rain was thought of quite highly, a sign that better times were to come. All the negativity, all the bad things that festered in the land and the people would be washed away by the cleansing rains, he'd been taught, and so even though this rain made their journey to a small village just over the river that much harder, he couldn't help but feel the same peaceful elation that he knew as a calf. And, he assumed, his mission would be an easy one.

He hadn't been on many treks west with his Sunwalker brothers, but the taurens' avowed neutrality in the growing tensions made them the perfect candidates for the call that had gone out. A rider in the night, wet and soggy, asked for aid for the small village of Mapleseed Brook, just over the Thondroril River. A Death Knight there, once a friend, seemed to have lost his mind and was barricaded by the villagers inside his small farmhouse. Though he had yet to attempt to break out, there was little doubt that the might of the unholy powers he had at his disposal would be enough to throw open the door and attack the town if need be. The rider's news was grim, of course, but he didn't have much recourse in looking for aid elsewhere. Stormwind and Ironforge were half a continent away and the village had always had a friendly disposition with the Silver Hand, given their village mayor was one in years past. Still, they all knew what was really happening. The rider described the undead dwarf as a friend, at first. Come to the town to help defend it against the Scourge only a short time ago. But, if word was to be believe, his axe was cracked in an altercation with a flock of geists and the erratic behavior began. At first, it was just mood swings, vacillating between anger and sorrow at a moment's notice. Soon, however, he began to speak to things that were not there, was having trouble recognizing friends in the village that he'd been protecting for the entirety of his short time there. They'd hear him thumping and pacing in his farmhouse, yelling at intruders that didn't exist and screaming about all manner of horrors that had yet to materialize.

The mayor had waited for him to leave, return to Acherus and repair his runeaxe. Surely, that would solve the problem. But the longer they waited, the more they realized he wouldn't. Finally, the decision was made to barricade him in and call for the Silver Hand to send out riders to help. And thus, Errtu and his brave companions rode at all haste to Mapleseed Brook to intervene.

They arrived in the early morning after riding through the rainy night, just as the first rays of sunshine could be sensed over the high hills back east. The situation seemed much more dire than they'd anticipated. The barricade was being manned by the chainmail clad guards of the town, but the lot of them seemed to average out at fourteen years of age. A Death Knight would cut through them like machetes through the Feralas jungle. Inside, the Dwarf screeched and yelled, crashing and banging and rampaging through his wooden residence. The Sunwalkers discussed their plan: Subdue him and imprison him, do their best to return him to the Ebon Hold so that the undead could take care of their own. But their strategizing was quickly cut short as a thundering axe blade just above the barricaded door cracked through the wall, only to be withdrawn and flung again, this time doing even more danage to the planks. The Sunwalkers set their perimeter, quickly telling everyone to get as far back from that hole as possible. But just as soon as it seemed that he would burst through the wood, the hacking stopped. Instead, they were met only with the sound of glass breaking and cursing and screaming from within the home. Whatever the Dwarf was saying, Errtu only heard gibberish. Were these even words? By the same token, however, the panicked villagers were yelling and screaming over the thunderous rain as well, trying to direct a group of Sunwalkers that didn't even speak Common.

The house, which had been dark up until now, began to slowly flood and flicker with light. Could the dwarf light his own lantern in this state? The question was moot, because the answer quickly became apparent: the Dwarf had lit his own house on fire. The braves were instructed to hold fast. Stay back. The Dwarf had doomed himself, but even with the pouring rain dampening any fires, they needed to make sure that he wasn't a hard to the rest of the villagers and that fire didn't spread to any of the nearby grain barns or farmhouses of their own. Errtu couldn't help but be amazed at how quickly the blaze grew. They were waiting, slowly and steadfastly to see what would happen, but by the time the fire begun to crack through the roof, the Dwarf's angry mutterings and vicious exclamations had turned into the frantic wailing that transcended all languages: he was wailing in pain because he was burning alive.

Errtu felt his hand begin to shake, though the crackling flames and the pouring rain drowned out the faint clattering of his plate armor. He was glad to have not drawn his weapon, because if he had, he would have surely dropped it.

He wouldn't be granted that much of a respite, though, because once they heard thumping against the hacked section of wall, the order was to draw their weapons. Errtu couldn't. His hand was shaking too much. He tried to tense his muscles, force it to stop, but he couldn't, why wouldn't the Dwarf stop screaming?

And almost as soon as he looked away from the fire in shame and humiliation, the Dwarf's flaming arm struck out of the wall, sent out a shadowy claw of unholy force right at Errtu and lifted him off his hooves and deep into the flaming house.

The Sunwalkers, his brothers, sprung to action immediately, the order given to GO! GET HIM! SHIELDS! SHIELDS! They crashed through windows and clomped through the house, he could hear them? He could hear them! The stairs, the collapsing wood, the burning fire, but he could hear them. ERRTU! ERRTU! SHIELD YOURSELF! ERRTU! He wondered if it was too late. The Dwarf, an effigy of rotting flesh and scorched metal, had been hacking away at him for almost a minute, spilling tauren blood across the fiery floorboards. Errtu smelled his exposed entrails cooking as the dwarf kept hacking and hacking. Was he dying? Was he dead? Lances of holy light sliced into the Dwarf, though, putting a stop to his assault. Two, then a third, severing his arm from his torso, his head from his shoulders. He felt something pop in his gut, and decided it was time to gather up his entrails and put them back in place, but his hands just wouldn't stop shaking. He couldn't move them. He couldn't keep his eyes open. He couldn't hear the sunwalkers. He just heard the fires and the hissing and spattering of his own boiling blood.

With the stairs collapsed, the Sunwalkers knew they couldn't reach the second floor and save Errtu. Their shields would protect them only for so long, so the retreat was ordered. A few of them had been able to strike at the dwarf from below, they knew he was gone because the wailing had stopped. They walked back into the cool rain and looked on in the house in shame, healing themselves and one another from the burns they inevitably sustained. They'd been ordered out quickly enough to save themselves, but Errtu was dead. The youngest of them, the Runetotem who chose to be a Sunwalker rather than a druid, he was becoming blacked char and they were just watching. The commotion in the village died down. The house eventually collapsed in on itself. The Sunwalkers remained to confirm the Dwarf's death and Errtu's, whose remains they unceremoniously scooped up and gathered for transport back to Light's Hope. On the ride back to the Chapel, the Commander remembered feeling the rain was a blessing. It hid his streaming tears from his silent companions.

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The muggy air of the Eastern Plaguelands hung heavily around the stalwart defenders of Light’s Hope Chapel. Seven defenders stood at the gates to the chapel grounds, their shining armor glinting dimly in the muted early morning light flittering out of the blighted sky in the east. Spears had been buried in the soft, dead ground and helmets had been set on the ends of the tall polearms as three of the knights bearing silver hand badges on their cloaks sat around a hollow, open box and a cup full of hand-crafted dice. A blood elf man spilled the dice out into the box and groaned as singular dots appears on all five. The other two – a human man and a dwarf woman – burst out laughing at their companion’s misfortune. The elf reluctantly tossed a gold coin into the other half of the hollow box, increasing the size of the pile.

Two of their companions sat off to the side leaning against the mossy white-bricked wall and smoking pipes while staring off into the distance. The pair were a male and female draenei. The woman’s head was on her man’s shoulder affectionately. They seemed content with their place in the world, and grinned off at the dead landscape without a care in the world.

A female tauren stood overlooking the dice game with an expression of distaste on her face. She wasn’t upset by the lack of attention or professionalism by the guards at her feet, nor the dusk to dawn watch duty they had been saddled with the past fortnight. Her feeling of disgruntled annoyance was so deep-set that her face always looked like that, no matter who she looked at or what was happening. Her arms were crossed and her hooves scraped against the old cobbled road occasionally.

The last knight stood with her back against the wall on the other side of the gate from the draenei couple. Her spear remained at her side, but she remained laid-back and showed no intention of picking it up anytime soon. Her build was large for a human woman. She stood a head taller than most other women and a few stones heavier as well. Her body was round overall, not toned like a warrior woman, but weighty like a lavish noble. In any case, she had a strong presence as she stood high and overshadowed others. Her tangled auburn hair was tied back in a sprawling ponytail.

The laid-back woman was the first to catch sight of the approaching figure down the road. It was still far-off – the sight lines from the Chapel went out for miles so it was nigh impossible to sneak up on it – so it only appeared as a greenish-yellow splotch on the distant landscape. The woman stood up and grabbed her spear and helm, saying to the others, “Something’s coming.”

The blood elf sighed. “So I won’t get a chance to win my money back?” The dwarf woman punched him in the shoulder.

“You woulda just lost more anyway, Baladar!” she said as she boxed up the dice, cup, and coin and kicked it all behind her. She and the other three knights gathered around the game took up spears and helms as well. The draenei couple took their time putting out their pipes first.

The shape approached slowly, and as it grew closer, more details could be made out. The human woman noticed it was of a smaller humanoid race, possibly a gnome, goblin, or even a short dwarf. It wore a bright lime-colored cloak with yellow patches sewn into it, and carried a walking stick about the height of the average dog, paw to ear. The male human piped up loudly, “Any bets on what that thing is? I’d wager two gold it’s a leper gnome.”

The tauren snorted impatiently at the man. “How about you shut up and make sure your helmet is on straight, Leon?” She scraped the ground with a hoof in annoyance. The man begrudgingly checked to see if his helmet was in fact crooked.

The figure walked up to the group and raised a green hand in greetings before lifting the hood from his head. He was a goblin with a bald head, sharp yellow teeth, ears with holes bitten out of the edges, and dim green eyes. He seemed to look around the knights rather than directly at any of them. The human woman guessed he was blind. The tauren spoke curtly, “Name and business?”

The goblin cackled madly for no particular reason. “Scruggs, that is his name! He is called Scruggs! Scruggs is here with information – knowledge for the brave protectors of the Light! For when poor Scruggs was lost, alone, and nearly mad, the Light saved him! So Scruggs – nice, meek Scrugges! – has gone to the bad knights’ flying house and listened closely for knowledge. He was asked to, yes he was, and so he did!”

The tauren woman sighed. “Right, we were expecting your report hours ago, goblin. Did you get lost or something? No, nevermind. I don’t want to hear it. Just tell me what you came to say.”

Scruggs smiled, flashing his disgusting teeth at the gathered knights. “Ah, Scruggs has quite the news! He hears that a bad knight who did bad things in the Chapel is all alone, ripe for the Light’s vengeance! A human, she was, and spotted far south by Surwich in the lands blasted by hellfire. Scruggs did good, yes he did! Didn’t he?”

The tauren replied, “Yeah, sure. You did good, little guy. Let me just report to my superiors and figure out how to proceed here. Don’t go anywhere.” She stomped off into the Chapel, grumbling on her way about crazy little green men.

The human woman bit her lip. Something about what Scruggs had said rubbed her the wrong way. She took off her helmet and spoke to the goblin, “Hey, Scruggs, you said it was a human woman, right? The death knight seen in Surwich? What was her name?”

Scruggs cocked his head at her in confusion. “Why does it matter to the noble dame? Scruggs hears it is a bad knight, so she must be punished. Her name does not matter.”

“Wait,” the female draenei said suddenly, looking at the human woman, “You don’t think it’s her do you Christa? That would be just awful!” Christa glared off at the desolate landscape, biting her lip angrily.

The dwarf woman scoffed. “Why would’t matter? She’s a murderous little bint ain’t she? She’ll get what’s coming to her, Light willing.”

“But Clea, it’s someone important to her!” the draenei said to the dwarf, who looked back at her with an expression of amused disbelief. “Family is family, no matter what. My grandfather is one of the Eredar, but I don’t think I could bring myself to kill him if I had to.”

The male draenei put a hand around her waist protectively. “It’s alright, Velbina, you won’t have to worry about him as long as I am here.”

“I know, my sweet Sagito,” she said, leaning into him. “You are the best man a girl could ask for.” They kissed deeply. Clea put her head in her palm.

The other man made a mock gagging noise and pretended to puke as the draenei showed their affection. “You two are disgusting, you know that?”

“Leave them be, Leon. Not even a demon invasion could put a stop to their makeout session.” The dwarf waved them off dismissively and turned back to Christa. “Honey, you can’t let that woman get the better of you. If Nalysia comes back with the news that we’ve gotta kill her, we’re gonna do it. End of story. Gotta let this one go, hon.” While the others discussed the matter, Scruggs was drawing religious symbols into the dirt just off the pathway with the end of his stick. He seemed very content as he stood there, muttering some prayer.

Nalysia clomped back out of the gates. Her exasperation hadn’t cleared up since she had left. Christa looked at her, asking, “What’s the plan? Are we going after her?”

Nalysia eyed her as if searching for something. Christa only seemed interested in receiving orders. “Good news and bad news. Good news is, we’re being relieved from guard duty. Command says to go to Surwich tomorrow morning and gather intelligence, see what we can find out about this woman.”

“What’s the bad news?” Leon asked with a smug grin on his face.

“The bad news,” Nalysia replied with a twinge of annoyance, “Is that we have to take the goblin.

Edited by RiktheRed21

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A knock at a door. The door opens, revealing a lanky, gaunt man with a bruised face and a downtrodden look. “Gunter Merrygrim, I presume?” Leon the Wit asks, already knowing the answer. He held a friendly smile on his face.

“Aye, indeed sir,” Gunter replied with a shaky voice, “You must be with the Silver Hand, judging by the look of you. Are you here about…the death knight?” Leon nodded. “Right, you better come in, then. I was hoping someone like you would show up soon. I’m afraid she might come back and kill me!”

Leon entered the lanky man’s dreary estate with a musty taste in his mouth. Surwich was by the sea, a colonial town constructed by Gilnean refugees during the Cataclysm. Leon hated the smell of the sea, and the taste of seafood, and people who lived off the sea. He couldn’t understand why Nalysia would want to send him in to question witnesses, but the tauren had been adamant in her position. ‘You’re a friendly human face, not likely to arouse suspicion. Would you rather me send the blind goblin? He’d probably do a better job than you anyway.’

What he thought she should do he kept to himself. Mostly. He had let slip a comment about marrying the goblin since she seemed to like him so much. Why couldn’t she just send Christa? He thought bitterly, still keeping up a genial look as the lanky man allowed him to sit at his tiny table. At least she has experience dealing with…these people.

“Mister Merrygrim, I understand based on what the mayor told me that you were recently taken captive by a force of Naga,” Leon began. “And that a group of private militants assaulted the camp and freed you all?”

The Gilnean nodded. “Horrid times for us in Surwich. The Naga came out of nowhere! Swooped in during the night and made off with our fishing supplies. A few of us men tracked them down the coast a ways, and they ambushed us, clapped us in irons, and forced us into the mines for weeks! I thought I’d never see home again.”

“Gunter, who’s this then? Is he one of them folks what saved you from the fishmen?” A plump woman with greying curls and an aproned dress strolled out from what appeared to be the only other room in the house with a puzzled expression on her face. Leon raised his eyebrows in mock-surprise and pointed between the lady and Gunter.

“Is this the misses?” he asked with a false tone of interest, “She is a beauty, my friend. Name’s Leon, I’m with the Silver Hand.” He introduced himself to the woman pleasantly, offering her a kiss on the hand. She seemed perplexed. Gunter fidgeted when Leon spent just a little too long with introductions.

“Well, eh, it’s a pleasure to meet you, sir. I must say, I did not expect to find a knight in my home tonight!” she fussed with her hair, acting stupid and flustered. Leon could feel his distaste growing, but he forced himself to keep smiling.

“Right, Margret,” Gunter said suddenly, “You go on to bed. I’m just answering some of the young man’s questions is all. I’ll be in soon, love.” As Margret padded off in her slippers she gave Leon a starry-eyed look as if she were trying to be flirtatious. Leon wanted to roll his eyes. As if a peasant like her deserves the attention of a noble knight!

“Returning to the matter at hand,” Leon said, taking a seat, “What happened the day you and the other men were released?”

“Oh, it was frightening! A gunshot echoed off the hills, then another and another. A pair of the Naga slithered off to see what was happening and then a pair of warriors in plate, a woman and an elf, charged into the camp and took on the rest. Before I knew what was happening, the snakemen were all dead and some explosion went off in the hills. Then two more of these folks showed up, and a pair of them were wearing blue tabards with a white bird of some sort stitched on.”

“A white bird on a blue field, eh? I’ll make a note of that,” Leon interjected with all the politeness he could muster. His interest in the conversation was quickly wavering.

“Yes, I’m sure it will be useful to you. Anyways, the woman I recognized quickly. I’d known her once, long time ago back in Gilneas before the fall. Only, she’d been carried off by the Scourge before and no one had seen her for years! But my brother, a soldier type, he wrote letters from the front in the Isles and told me all about how the Lady Commander he worked under had this grudge against a death knight with the same name as this woman!”

“A fascinating tale, to be sure.”

“Right? Well, here’s where it gets melancholy-like. My brother died in the Isles. His whole camp got overrun the way the letter told it. I found out later from the mayor that she was responsible for it. That death knight woman I knew from way back. She’d gone after Lady Blackmane – the Lady Commander my brother fought for – and ended up getting the rest killed because of it. Damn wench. I knew I recognized her that day, but she denied it. A liar and a murderer, that’s what she is! You gotta bring her down before she does worse! I got my family to think about: my wife in the next room and my kids upstairs. We don’t stand a chance if she comes back!”

“Not to worry on that front, Mister Merrygrim,” Leon said with a smile. “My fellow knights and I are working on bringing her down. I just need to know, what was this woman’s name?”

Gunter Merrygrim grimaced. “Not right to say the name of a condemned woman in a man’s own house. It’s damned bad luck!”

Leon banged his armored fist into the table, losing his patience. “Say the name! Please…I need to find her and I don’t have much time. She could strike any day now with the way the Ebon Blade have been acting lately. You’re my best hope of saving lives, Mister Merrygrim.”

His face pale from fright, suddenly seeing a veiled threat behind the knight’s eyes, Gunter replied nervously again, “Brinnea Velmon. That’s her name. She and her mother and sister used to visit my fish stand in Gilneas City. It was years ago, but she was a loyal customer, right up to the day of her wedding.”

Leon calmed down some, unclenching his fist and adding some warmth to his callous smile. “See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? No bad luck here, paladin’s honor! But before I take off after this ‘Brinnea Velmon,’ was there anything else she might have said or done that stood out to you? The name of a place, perhaps?”

“Well, nothing like that, no. But she did say who we should thank for saving us. She said it was the ‘Night Vanguard,’ I think. Yes, that was it! Night Vanguard.”

Leon noted the name. Probably a militant guild of some sort. Nalysia would sort it out. Leon wasn’t interested in that sort of work. He stood from the peasant’s table and invited the man to do the same. “Well, it was lovely meeting you, Mister Merrygrim. You have a lovely home and an even lovelier wife.” He took the man’s hand and shook it vigorously. Gunter Merrygrim looked uncomfortable, but forced himself to smile.

“Er, likewise. I do hope you get her in time. I’d hate to see more families suffer for that witch’s crimes.”

“Oh, no other families have to suffer at all. Tonight, you made sure of that.” Leon smiled the most genuine smile he could. “Because you’re gonna get us the leverage we need to start ourselves a little witch-hunt!” Gunter looked confused. A knife slid from a leather sheath with a light scrape. A squelching noise followed, and with it a gasp as air was forced from Mister Merrygrim’s lungs. The peasant man collapsed onto the ground, choking as blood poured from his mouth. Leon admired the bloody spot in the man’s shirt, right in his asophagus.

The man managed to choke out one final word, “Why?”

“Why? Because Brinnea Velmon broke into your house and killed you and your family. At least, that’s what the mayor will assume with he eventually finds you. Once the Gilnean royal army hears about this incident, we swoop in and play enforcer on their behalf. Win-win. Well, not for you, but who cares? You’re just a fish merchant.”

Merrygrim gurgled, still clinging to life. Leon was undoing his belt. As he walked past the bleeding man, a bloody hand grabbed his boot weakly. “What is it? Oh, you’re hoping I’ll spare your family, of course. No can do, I’m afraid. Just following orders. Oh, but I’ll make sure your wife’s last moments are the greatest of her life!”

***

            Nalysia scraped dirt with her hoof impatiently, waiting for Leon to return. When he finally did, he carried that same smug look on his face. She hoped he was satisfied enough not to give her any backchat this time. She greeted him simply, “You get what we came for?”

            “Oh yeah, the Gilneans will hear about this before too long. And I got the name of the one we’re looking for.” Christa was fully attentive now. Leon flashed her a sadistic smile. “Brinnea Velmon. We have a winner, folks! Somebody give me some money!"

Edited by RiktheRed21

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Sagito and Velbina spent the ride south in silence. Sagito rubbed his sore cheek and stared at her as she rode further and further ahead of him. Every time he felt like saying something, he felt the sting in his cheek grow hotter. Plus, his chest seemed to pinched by some errant pain. The only sound to break the silence was his ragged coughing and the sound of water flowing down his gullet.

            The two draenei met with their fellow knights on the Arathi highroad as the sun began to set. Velbina hurried to throwing the provisions down for the squires to set up for dinner while Sagito embraced his old friend Baladar. “I am glad we found each other before dark, my elven friend!”

            Baladar smiled cockily. “You doubted my sense of direction? Our whole company would be on the wrong side of the Gap if the tauren was still leading.”

            Nalysia shook her head. “You easterners and your roads. This whole continent is damned confusing.”

            Leon winked at Velbina as she set down a sack of potatoes. “You and our boy have a nice night up north, Velby? I almost missed you two lovebirds after you left. The night elves are depressing as all fel.” Velbina glowered at Leon and tossed a kettle at his boot before storming off. Leon yelped and shouted after her, “Bitch! Watch where you toss shit at me!” He turned to Sagito and barked, “What’s her problem?”

            The draenei man rubbed his bruised cheek again. “We, uh…didn’t have such a great night.”

            Clea scoffed, undoing her breastplate with a sigh. “I told you, didn’t I? I told you marrying a fellow knight was a stupid, stupid, stupid idea.”

            Sagito bristled at the dwarf. “I am an impulsive man. I follow my passions. She just…didn’t understand--,” he was cut off by a long string of coughs.

            Baladar cocked his head at his friend. “You doing alright, Sagito? That cough sounds nasty.”

            “I’m…I’m fine. It’s just a…a tickle in my throat,” he reassured between loud hacks. He chugged more water from his skin, but he couldn’t hold it down. He threw it all back up, bluer than before. Azure blood poured from his mouth and nose. Baladar’s eyes widened as blue blood leaked from his friend’s eyes and ears as well.

            “Sagito!” he shouted despairingly. The draenei fell to the ground, and the other knights raced in to stand around him. Christa shoved Baladar out of the way and channeled the Light into Sagito’s chest and throat. She grimaced.

            “Poison. He’s ingested poison,” she reported with melancholy.

            “Can you save him? Can I save him? I can heal as well, I could burn the toxins out!” Baladar was nearly hyperventilating as bad as Sagito was drowning in blood. The other knights were silent. Velbina was off away from the others, hands on her mouth in shock.

            Sagito’s chest stopped moving. The blood stopped flowing. Christa stopped channeling her healing spell and stood. “He’s gone.” She walked off, flicking blue blood off her gauntlets.

            Baladar stared at his friend’s corpse as the other knights murmured amongst themselves. An uncomfortable quiet settled over the camp. It was broken when Leon glanced over at Velbina, who still stood with her hands over her mouth. Tears were forming in her bright eyes. Leon sucked air through his teeth, nodded to himself and walked over to the draenei women with a smile on his face. “Well, only one proper course of action here.” He punched Velbina in the gut as hard as he could. She doubled over, gasping and clutching at her midsection. Leon didn’t let up. He kicked her with his metal boot again and again, in the chest, arms, abdomen, legs, and face. She screamed and begged for mercy, but he kept kicking. The other knights did nothing.

            “You poisoned him, huh? You got in a little argument so you slipped poison in his water?! You stupid blue bitch. I’ll show you what the punishment is for killing your man!” He slipped his knife out of its sheath. It was a long, clean, polished blade with a hilt made of solid gold shaped like an elf woman’s body. He grabbed Velbina by the horn and yanked her head up so her throat was shown bare. He held the long blade’s edge against her throat.

            “Wait!” Baladar shouted, walking towards with his hands raised. “Don’t kill her. Don’t.” Leon looked at him with an unimpressed expression. The blood elf looked at the draenei, his face twisted with grief. “Sagito was my friend. He fought at my side in Shattrath, and came to Azeroth with me when I asked him. He’s always been dedicated and loving. He was the best sort of man who ever lived.” His eyes were downcast and he lowered his hands. He shouted and delivered a punch that broke the draenei’s nose. She yelped and wailed in pain. Leon grinned widely. “You killed my friend! You don’t get to die slow, you harlot! First, I will honor my friend’s memory by having my way with you. Then it’ll be Leon’s turn, then whoever else here wants a go at you before I take you again! Whenever I get bored of you, that’s when you’ll get the death you deserve.”

            Velbina screamed and begged them not to, but it didn’t deter them. She pleaded for the others to help her, but they all looked the other way, pretending nothing was happening. Christa washed blood off her hands and took up a shovel. While the men defiled the accused woman, Christa dug a grave and buried the dead man. Every scream she heard set her teeth to grinding against one another and her fingers to tense against the wooden shaft of the shovel until her hands turned whiter than fresh snow.

The screaming didn’t stop until Sagito was buried, the sun had set, and Christa had eaten and set her bedroll. Then Leon and Baladar returned to camp with the draenei woman in chains. She looked at Christa, and Christa looked back. The girl looked broken and battered. Her eyes showed little life. Christa frowned at her sadly and turned over in her bedroll. She tried to fight the feeling, but no amount of looking away could get the image out of her head. Tears rolled down her cheeks, but no one heard her cry.

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