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Qabian

Spelling Trouble

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Qabian sat on the bed in his new Silvermoon apartment, leaning back on a high stack of pillows and reading, surrounded by scrolls, loose papers, and books, a black panther cub slept heavily over one leg, cutting off circulation to that foot. When he wasn't indulging in Suramar's "culture" or out with the Grim doing Grim work, Qabian spent time learning what he had missed. There was a lot of it between Pandaria, Garrosh, Khadgar's lunacy, as well as the interguild politics and drama that was not well documented.
 
Since he found himself back in Quel'thalas after the debacle in Stormwind, Qabian decided to direct his focus on the minutiae in Silvermoon politics. It seemed that short of the Sunreaver debacle and Garrosh's general chaos, there had not been too much upheaval. Lor'themar and Rommath were still who they had always been. With Sylvanas as Warchief, Silvermoon seemed almost comfortable with their relationship to the Horde, so Qabian found himself delving into the smaller details of politics and scandals.
 
He read one report of a child attending council meetings and shifted his position, causing the panther cub to mrr in its sleep. Stranger things happened in Silvermoon politics everyday, but with elven lifespans, it hardly seemed necessary. That's what interregnum was for, after all.
 
He read further.
 
The child, with his strange red eyes...
 
Qabian frowned. "Oh no," he murmured.
 
...acted as the heir to the Bloodstone estate, sitting with the Council in preparation for his future role in the management of...
 
"This must be some kind of joke," he said to himself. He pressed his fingers to the bridge of his nose. Qabian finished reading and tossed the offensive page to one side where it floated to the floor. The panther cub lifted its head, blinking up at him sleepily. "People are idiots. You know that, cat? Complete and utter morons. All of them," Qabian informed the creature.
 
The mage tilted his head thoughtfully, staring at the cub, or more accurately, through the cub. "I think it's time to look up an old acquaintance." Qabian grinned wickedly as he gathered his papers and books together, ungently kicking the cub to one side.
 
Qabian stumbled as he stood, his foot having fallen asleep. Loud Thalassian curses caused the cub to scramble under the bed.

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Posted (edited)

The child was not difficult to track or find, given that he didn’t wear opaque glasses or a blindfold in a city where eye color was nearly homogeneous. Qabian trailed him from a reasonable distance, learning where he went and with whom.
 
The day after his informative stalking session, Qabian sat down across from a slightly stocky blood elf at a small Falconwing Square café, apparently uninvited. The stranger closed his book and peered at the mage across from him then suddenly laughed boisterously. “Amberlight! I haven't seen you since, what? Before the Scourge?”
 
“Brightway,” Qabian said. “I don't go by that name anymore.” He kept his expression neutral, almost cold.
 
Brightway guffawed. “Nonsense. Don't go by your own name? That's ridiculous.” He leaned forward and grabbed Qabian’s hand, shaking it too energetically. “To what do I owe the pleasure of a visit from such an old friend.”
 
Qabian breathed out through his nose and pressed his lips together a moment, trying not to let how annoyed he was show too overtly. “I need to know about one of your students. His name is--”
 
“By the sun, what happened to your ear?” Brightway interrupted as if suddenly noticing the immediately obvious.
 
Qabian scowled, yanking his hand back. “I actually work in the field, Brightway. Things happen.”
 
“Of course. Of course. You were saying something about one of my students?”
 
“Yes. He goes by the name of Damian Bloodstone.”
 
“Oh, that one's trouble, for sure.”
 
Qabian raised an eyebrow. “How's that?”
 
“Thinks he's better than everyone. Maybe he actually is, but it extends to the staff. Makes him difficult to deal with, you know.” Brightway explained. “Actually, reminds me a lot of you and that other kid in Dalaran. What was his name again?”
 
“I have no idea what you're talking about,” Qabian lied.
 
“What's your interest in the Bloodstone boy then?” Brightway asked.
 
“Is he intelligent? Worth investing in?”
 
“I'd say so, yes, for someone willing to deal with his attitude. You thinking of taking him under your wing?”
 
Qabian neglected to hide a brief expression of disgust. “No. I've simply been directed to look into particular students for potential Kirin Tor work. If you think he’s suitable, I'll forward the materials to him through you.”
 
“Dalaran still meddling in our business, eh?” Brightway chuckled loudly. “There are better students if you're looking for the top of the class.”
 
“No, Brightway. This is above your pay grade. I simply need you to let me know if he’s an idiot, and if not, send him the paperwork.”
 
“No. Not an idiot. Smart kid. Just an asshole. Like you.”
 
Qabian rolled his eyes. “Your judgment has always been impeccable, Brightway. That's why you're surrounded by snot nosed brats every day rather than letting your featherweight fireballs gently warm the Legion.”
 
Brightway laughed far too loudly. “Never change, Amberlight!” He reached over and punched Qabian's shoulder, causing the mage to flinch.
 
Qabian pinched the bridge of his nose. “I told you that's not my name.”
 
“Sure you did, buddy.”
 
“We're done here.” Qabian stood up abruptly.
 
“Sure thing. See you around, Amberlight.”
 
“I certainly hope not,” Qabian muttered under his breath as he hastily retreated.
 
Qabian prepared a package of books with titles like Making the Case for Teaching Forbidden Magic: A Practical Guide and Do It Yourself Arcane Bombs and took pains to make sure the Kirin Tor symbol was prominently displayed but his own name was nowhere to be found. He made sure to send the package by mail and avoided heading back into the city itself for a while.

Edited by Qabian
typo
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Despite the rumors, Damian wasn’t quite as much of an asshole as people insinuated. At least he didn’t think so, not when they said as much to his face.

The Sin’dorei child was average as far as looks went; silvery blonde curls, a tan complexion, fit for a elven boy of seven years. What set him apart physically, making him the target of taunts and rumors, were his red eyes. Though not unheard of for fire mages or warlocks to have eyes of that color, especially when casting spells, it was certainly unusual for them to appear that way since birth. Having possessed them for all seven years of his life thus far, Damian Bloodstone had never known what it was like to disappear among the other children his age.

 

Especially not after his parents disappeared.

 

Two years of nothing. One moment they were perfectly happy, if not a little strange. His father an aging landlord with an estate worth more than he could comprehend, his mother a warlock with a hobby of singing bawdy songs to reprobates in taverns. At least, that’s what the other children told him. All Damian knew was that they loved him, and one day they were gone. That was the day his world changed, and rather than being a normal boy who went to school and studied with all the other surviving Sin’dorei children, he became the surviving Lord Bloodstone. Heir to his family’s estate, with a seat on a council.

 

He had help, of course. Steinburg, their family’s Forsaken friend, educated Damian on what was being said when it was important. For two years he listened to adults bicker about land rights, encroaching trolls, constant war. It made school seem small. It made the other children look less like his peers, and more like children. He was not like them. It was more than his eyes. He was their superior, even if they didn’t understand why.

 

But his parents did return, and with them, a semblance of normalcy. No longer required to attend council meetings, Damian went to school and went home to “play”. Except who was there to play with, now? Steinburg? He prefered to study. With both of his parents constantly summoned to the field, and the Legion attacking harder than ever, he knew there always was a threat of them not coming back. He knew he had to prepare, just in case.

 

Which was why the package of books delivered to his desk by Steinburg came as no surprise. His mother understood his “hobbies” and would often purchase books for him, despite encouraging him to play outside once in a while. He waited until the evening to unwrap his package, forgetting about it until after dinner when he usually went upstairs to read.

 

The Kirin Tor symbol was unexpected. As were the books’ topics. His mother wasn’t typically the sort to encourage destructive magic. In fact, most of the books she provided were historical in nature. These were different. Instructional. Something his teachers might have discouraged should he ask about them in class.

 

Was it any surprise he spent the night reading them?

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The next day was an interesting one for Damian’s schoolmates. It began as usual; lectures as young Sin’dorei boys and girls forced themselves to sit and listen to Professor Brightway. Their instructor was loud enough for his voice to carry throughout the small room, but he seemed intent on being as loud as possible anyway. With so few children to teach, the volume was wholly unnecessary. Damian’s lip twitched, irate.

“Hey Bloodsnatch,” came a whisper nearby, a boy Damian’s age who sat beside him. He had the ruddy face of a Farstrider, the kind of child who preferred to leap from trees than listen to the history of the troll wars. “Fix your mouth.”

 

Damian’s red eyes turned to glance at the boy, but for the most part he tried to ignore him. Brightway’s back turned to his students as he wrote the names of famous military leaders on the board using his wand.

 

“Hey Blood-fuck-face,” the boy continued, cupping both hands around his mouth, though it seemed Brightway wasn’t capable of hearing anyone’s voice outside of his own. “I like your mom’s tits.”

 

Brightway wasn’t altogether sure how it happened, but the high pitched scream of a child was certainly not what he intended on hearing that morning. Turning to face the room of quickly scattering students, he watched in horror as young F'enahriel Sunwhisper’s clothes burst into flame and ran around the room in a circle. The other children screamed in a panic until Brightway had the good sense to cast a small torrent of water toward Sunwhisper, extinguishing the flames. Temporarily. In an instant, they were alight again, and the screaming continued.

 

The professor sent another torrent of water through his wand, this time far more intense, creating a wave that covered nearly half the students and thoroughly soaking the flaming child. Sunwhisper stood with his arms outstretched, breathing heavily for a moment until a torrent of his own tears covered his face.

 

“Someone get me a priest!!” Brightway shouted, rushing toward Sunwhisper, careful not to actually touch him. The other children backed away.

 

Well, the other children with one exception.

 

“Bloodstone!!” Brightway shouted, glaring at the only child in the room with a smile on his face. “Out! Now!!”

The platinum blonde didn’t need any further instruction. He calmly left the school yard and walked into Silvermoon to spend the rest of his afternoon.

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Posted (edited)

Qabian had just stepped through the portal into the Sunfury Spire when one of the mages there waved him down. "Qabian? Brightway's looking for you."

"Hm?" Qabian cringed inwardly, not looking forward to meeting the overly jovial fellow again. "Why?"

"I'm not sure, but he sounded... agitated," the stranger explained.

Qabian smirked. "I see. I'll handle it." He nodded and made his way towards the school.

Before he got quite that far, Qabian spotted a certain red-eyed child tossing lazy spells at an innocent planter that probably recently had a shrub in it, but for the moment sprouted only twigs.

Qabian leaned over the hedge towards the kid. "Been working on your technique?"

"What do you care?"

"If you do this when you cast," Qabian held out his hand, showing the ring finger tucked in, "You can do twice the damage."

"Oh?" Damian tried it. "Oh!" He turned to Qabian. "Do I know you?"

"No. And that's probably for the best," Qabian said grinning.

Damian squinted toward the older elf skeptically. He may have acted older than he was, but adults still had a lot of knowledge to impart. Especially the destructive kind he was starting to feel drawn to. “Are you a Magister?

Before Qabian had a chance to answer, the planter exploded. It sent small shards of ceramic into every direction, one or two scratching Damian’s face as he was nearest to it. He seemed unusually calm as he wiped a trickle of blood from his cheek.

“Sorry. That was supposed to go off later,” he muttered, turning once again to Qabian in spite of the sudden damage. “Are you a Magister?”

Qabian laughed as he ducked flying planter pieces then picked one out of his hair. "Yes, I am. You're not in class right now?"

"No," Damian answered, frowning distastefully. "One of the boys in my class was saying stupid things so I set him on fire."

Qabian laughed again. "I can't imagine your teacher liked that." The mage grinned horribly. "Is the other kid badly hurt?"

Damian shrugged, as if he wasn't entirely sure. "He was crying a lot. So maybe. Professor Brightway had to douse him with water twice so I must'v got him good."

"And did he deserve it?"

"I wouldn't have set him on fire if he didn't," Damian said matter-of-factly, as if this were a very stupid question for an adult to ask. "He was saying things about my mother. I don't think he'll say those things again."

Qabian raised an eyebrow, then shrugged. "There's only one real way to be sure of that, but you're probably right. Do you think everyone else who saw it happen is afraid of you now, too, hm?"

"I hope so," he muttered irritably, kicking one of the pieces of ceramic. "He's not the only one who says things about me. I haven't done anything like that before, though. Usually I just ignore them, but... I don't know. Maybe now they'll stop. Even if my parents are upset with me, at least I won't have to hear those idiots in class talk to me like that anymore."

"Does it really matter what your parents think?"

Damian looked up at Qabian and squinted, as if trying to pick apart his question. "I have to live with them, so yes."

Qabian narrowed his eyes in turn, mirroring Damian's squint. "Well, seems like one of two things happens now. Either when you get back to class, you'll be in charge and can get anything you want from the other kids, because who's going to mess with someone that might kill them? Or you'll get kicked out of school entirely, and I'm sure your parents will be ecstatic." He smirked.

Damian folded his arms, relaxing his expression. "I know what's going to happen. My mother will forgive me when I tell her what happened. My father will make me muck the stalls, but that's all he'll do. Then I'll go back to school, because there aren't enough children in Silvermoon to fill a classroom and they're not going to kick one out for one stupid spell. They need us. Especially me."

"Well, then. Sounds like you're in charge, provided there's no one else who's actually better than you." Qabian's grin and tone implied there might be.

There was a pause as Damian considered the idea. He appeared skeptical, but cautiously so. "Like who?"

Qabian shrugged. "How would I know?" He leaned in closer as though sharing a secret. "But no matter where you are, it can be dangerous being the most powerful. There's always someone who wants to take you down. Unless of course you can make sure they stay afraid of you. After all, you don't have to stop at making sure they don't insult your mother. You can make them do things for you, give you things, anything you can think up, as long as they're afraid."

Damian stared at Qabian's face, as if trying to pick apart his meaning. After a few seconds, he said just as quietly. "...I'm not dumb enough not to know that. I don't want them to give me anything. I just want to be left alone. They'll leave me alone, now. And if they don't.." glancing down at one of his hands, the boy drew his ring finger to the palm of his hand. "I'll figure it out."

Qabian stood up, straightening his robes. "Just want to be left alone, hm? You could do anything, anything at all, and that's really all you want?"

The boy furrowed his eyebrows thoughtfully. Nobody ever really asked him what he wanted. "..no. I want them to respect me. When they see my eyes, I don't want them to look at me like I'm weird." Damian frowned as he looked for the words to illustrate what he actually wanted. "I guess I want them to be afraid of me."

Qabian looked even more smug, if that was possible. "Excellent. Sounds like you're well on your way."

Damian raised a long silvery eyebrow. "You know it's kind of weird when a stranger stops to talk an adolescent into acts of violence. Who are you? And what's your deal?"

Qabian blinked, surprised at the kid's perceptiveness. "It's not like there's anyone else doing anything interesting around here," he said, gesturing at the ordinary goings on. "And violence is just a side-effect of power, hm? But I'm also a recruiter for the Kirin Tor. I'm sure you'll forgive my interest being piqued by a seemingly promising young mage."

Damian's face relaxed a little at the idea. "..that's what my mother said I should do," he said quietly, then frowned to himself, as if reminded by some kind of grim reality. "But demons talk to me. I try not to talk back, but they won't shut up. I want to become a Magister, but the fel won't leave me alone. So what do I do, there? If I make them afraid of me, I might as well be a warlock."

"Demons talk to you? I suppose you mean when you wouldn't otherwise expect them to. Curious." Qabian ran his fingers over his thin beard, thoughtfully. "Well, I have no idea why your eyes are the color they are, but the rest of us, our eyes are this color because we're all a little fel. You can't avoid it, not in Silvermoon. If you try to avoid it, you've failed the sin'dorei. It's not that fel itself is the problem, but warlocks, they treat the fel lovingly, acting like demons are friends and companions, using it constantly, indulgently, rather than sparingly and only as an effective tool. Fel power should supplement the arcane, not supplant and surpass it." Qabian gestured with one hand as he   crafted his speech. "And fear is absolutely a tool of mages, but we use it subtly, through shows of immense power, rather than as a hammer rammed directly through the heads of our opponents. The Kirin Tor could probably help you with your demon problem, but as a Magister, yes, we probably would encourage you to indulge in it rather than let your affinity go to waste."

Damian blinked a few times, absorbing the information like a sponge. It seemed as if his situation had never been presented in such a way, though the idea of warlocks coddling their demons wasn't something he disagreed with. "..so.. it isn't bad, then. My mother said that sometimes, mages who work with fire a lot have eyes like us. She said that might be why I'm good at it, but I need to be careful or else.. I guess what happened today might happen.." He frowned to himself. "What's your specialty, mister?"

Qabian grinned, holding out a hand, palm up, and letting a bright flame dance into life at its center. "Fire, of course. None of us would be alive today without a little fel influence. What happened today should probably happen every day, hm? The only reason to be careful is so you can get better at using this to get everything you want." He let the fire flicker over his fingers and across the back of his hand before closing his fist around it and snuffing it out.

Damian's red eyes widened at the sight of the flame in Qabian's hand. As if to prove himself, the boy held up his own hand and produced a much smaller flame. It wasn't quite as a elegant as Qabian's, and it sputtered a little as he tried to keep focused, but it was big enough to start trouble if he willed it. "I can be careful."

Qabian smirked. "Sometimes. Sometimes it's better not to be. Sometimes you just really need things to explode."

"I'm not gonna kill my classmates," Damian muttered, letting the fire sputter out into a little plume of smoke. "They'd never let me back to class."

Qabian nodded. "That's probably a good time to have practiced being careful, yes, so you can do exactly as much damage as you want, no more and no less. That's only if you really want to stay in that class, of course. But when I was a student, there were people who deserved no holding back. I wouldn't forget the importance of knowing how not to be careful, as well. Pure destruction can be its own reward."

He raised an eyebrow at the Magister, clearly intrigued but a little concerned by his words of wisdom. "They were okay with your blowing things up in school?"

"To a point," Qabian admitted. "I was encouraged in the right contexts, but I learned the basics in Dalaran. When there are human kids in your class, it's hard not to catch them behind the building after classes are over. No one who thought they were in charge would have let that happen, but smart students who are actually in charge can find ways around the people who only think they are."

"Humans.." Damian repeated, shaking his head. "My mother won't let me anywhere near Dalaran. She says it's too dangerous, with how close the Legion is. I haven't left Quel'thalas in forever.. but I want to see Dalaran. I want to see Khadgar. Is he really as powerful as they say he is?"

"Khadgar... has more help than he deserves, but for the moment, yes, he is extremely powerful," Qabian conceded. "It would be dangerous, but I would argue that you would learn faster there, closer to the action, able to observe the most powerful mages Azeroth has to offer. Although, it has changed a great deal. There are few sin'dorei where they should be, so you'd be more outnumbered by humans than I was, and it's more difficult to set your classmates on fire in Dalaran than it was in my day. Silvermoon has always been the best place to learn the most advanced techniques and finer points that escape humans' capacity to understand, but Dalaran certainly has its advantages today."

Damian cockdd an eyebrow. "If Silvermoon is the best place to learn advanced techniques, why are they so slow to teach them? I've had to study most of the spells I know on my own, and most of the other kids in my class sant to be rangers. Or soldiers.."

Qabian tapped a finger against his jaw, looking idly concerned. "Good question. That doesn't sound quite right. There has always been a tendency in Silvermoon to learn more slowly but more deeply because, well, we have more time to learn than the humans do. Humans have to learn things faster because they get old and die before they can learn the intricacies of how and why magic works. But avoiding teaching techniques to students who already have the skills to learn them? That doesn't serve anyone."

"So what am I supposed to di?" Damian asked, impatience obvious in his voice. "Wait? What happens if my parents die in the field? I'd be alone again, and all those idiots in the council will go after our estate. I have to learn now, and protect my home. I'm not just some stupid kid whp wants to blow things up. I need to protect my home."

"Why? What's in your home that you're protecting?"

Damian opened his mouth to answer, but actually held back. "...just.. things. Important things."

Qabian raised an eyebrow, curious. "There are reasons to protect this city, protect our people, protect our world from the Legion, but in that scope, an individual estate doesn't seem particularly important. Money is only money, and mobile, can be invested and reinvested anywhere. Your home is wherever you are, when you have the power to protect yourself, but I suspect you have other motives to want to keep people off your parents' property. That... is another matter. I could attempt to convince your professors that you need better instruction for your own well-being. Or you could attempt to convince your mother that your training should be happening in Dalaran, danger be damned."

Damian furrowed his eyebrows thoughtfully. The choices laid out to him were both difficult, yet each had their merits. "After what I did... do you think they would listen to you? I can be patient, here. My mother has enough things to worry about," he added, remorse finally making an appearance. "I don't want to distract her."

"Setting a fellow student on fire is probably already going to distract her. My mother was never a concern for me, so I have little advice for you there," Qabian said with a half-smile. "I can, of course, talk to your teachers. I'm sure I already know some of them, but being who I am and your... aptitude, they'll likely counter that you should be sent to the Kirin Tor, and then we're right back to your mother again."

Damian twisted his mouth in consideration, though how much he cared for his mother's opinion was debatable. "...she'll have to understand, then. If that's the only way for me to be as strong as possible, then there's no reasonable argument to hold me back."

"That's a good way to think of it." Qabian shrugged. He was a little disappointed that he hadn't simply convinced the boy to set his classmates on fire, as that had been the real goal. "After all, she can't live your life for you. Only you can do that."

Damian folded his arms and shifted his feet. "So who are you, mister?"

"My name is Grimfire. You know it?"

"No," he answered honestly. "But you know me, and that's a little weird. I didn't know the Kirin Tor recruited kids my age."

"I know you now, because I saw you out in the street casting spells instead of being a good student and I was amused." Qabian smirked. "And they don't usually, but they make a few exceptions, here and there. Given the far-too-many-humans state of Dalaran these days, I'd be remiss not to look in this city to attempt to fix that problem."

"You don't like humans, do you?" Damian asked skeptically. "I've never seen one. Well, Steinburg, but he's Forsaken.. are they really as stupid as I heard? They can't all be, if Khadgar is so strong. Plus, Jaina Proudmoore. Right?"

"Jaina tried to remove the sin'dorei from Dalaran entirely. She succeeded temporarily. Her people should be removed from the face of this planet entirely. And Khadgar, like I said, has help. Humans do nothing but degrade the quality of magic all across Azeroth. They do whatever they can to steal the power we've earned and keep us from attaining power that is rightfully ours. The day we agreed to share magic with them was a mistake we've been paying for ever since. They should have been left to wallow in the filth that birthed them." Qabian's expression turned dark as he ranted.

Damian smiled a little. It was clear he touched a nerve in this adult, and the idea was strangely satisfying. "Yeah. So. You don't like humans," he said with a smug little smirk. "I guess the best thing to do is fix the mistakes we made and be stronger than they are. My mother said Proudmoore did what she did because she was afraid of us. Maybe the problem is they aren't scared enough."

Distracted dwelling on his own anger, Qabian simply nodded. "Precisely, provided they were scared enough to go back underground where they belong and never emerge. Although, I would prefer they be less afraid and more dead, there is only so much that can be done about that at present."

Damian's red eyes twinkled at the sight of the enraged Magister before him. "You really like killing people," he noted, looking him over again. "My mother kills people, too. Lots of people. She says it doesn't bother her because she does it so much. Is that what happened to you? Or do you just like it?"

Qabian narrowed his eyes at the boy. The mage had his own thoughts about the boy's mother, but couldn't exactly express them to her own son. He hesitated a moment, then grinned. "I believe I confessed that I started early, hm? I always liked it."

"Early?" Long pale eyebrows lifted, genuinely curious now. These were things his family would not discuss; actual carnage, and the possibility in taking joy in it. "How early? My age?"

"Mmhm, or close at least."

Damian swallowed. "..who'd you kill? Another student? How did you do it?"

"Like I said, convinced him to meet us behind the school building. He had a terrible accident trying to cast magic he didn't know how to use." Qabian's grin was awful. "Of course, I wasn't alone, as I suspect you might be, if all your fellow students really are being funneled into careers without magic."

Damian frowned at the idea. "Everyone wants to be a Paladin. Or a ranger. With the Burning Legion so close, they're afraid of the fel, and I don't think anyone has the patience to learn the arcane. I think our professor frightened them off when he said how long it took to really master the arts. But they're either lazy or stupid.. besides. My father is a soldier, and it never brought him any happiness. Just...a lot of trouble. I don't see the point."

Qabian nodded, his hideous grin giving way to an odd, distant look. "Mm. My father was a soldier. I never met him. That's what being a soldier gets you, the losing side of the fights that matter. I suppose in a sense you'll get your kills that way if you stand aside so they can walk onto the front lines. It certainly doesn't feel as good as doing the job with your own hands."

"Or with fire," he countered, frowning a little. "My father does everything with his hands. He even works outside. Makes me work outside so I'll know what it's like. I've seen what war does to soldiers, and I've seen what war does to Magisters.." Damian smirked again. "I think I'd rather not be the one with my head bashed in."

Qabian makes an intricate gesture in the air, twisting his wrist, a series of tiny flames flickering around his upper arm and between his fingers. "Precisely. I use my hands, hm? But I don't have to touch a thing. They fall to their knees, then collapse, and they never stand again. A body can burn for hours, like a hundred candles at once. Or you add a little more heat, and there's nothing left at all. Whoever it was who stood in your way is nothing more than ash on the breeze. There's satisfaction to it you'll never find anywhere else."

Damian watched the flames as if he were watching a dance, something beautiful to be admired. As he watched, the young Sin'dorei began to mimic the movements, raising one of his hands to imitate Qabian's gesture. Flames covered his hand like a glove, less beautiful than the Magister's, but bright as his eyes that seemed to glow with more intensity. It looked less like a dance and more like a small bonfire at the end of his wrist. "The fire didn't go out right away," he said quietly, staring at his hand. "The Professor had to douse him twice. It was stronger than normal fire."

Qabian smiled, seeing memories he thought he'd lost in the boy's crude but earnest magic. Then his smile turned cruel, as it tended to do. "And you're sure you didn't want him to die?"

Blinking slowly, Damian turned his gaze from his hand to the magister. "Just because you want something doesn't mean you should do it. There aren't a lot of us left. If I killed other children, there'd be even less. Even if he's stupid, he's still useful. I guess."

Qabian frowned. His memories of the time the kid had been born were fragmented at best, and there was no real point in arguing the state of reality with a child. "The numbers are irrelevant. Ensuring a people continues by allowing the morons and mistakes," he paused on the word, "to continue simply because they're genetically correct is a sure path to disaster. His lack of importance might be a better reason. If he was merely annoying rather than offensive and simply needed to be taught a lesson rather than eliminated, fair enough. The best reason to avoid killing him, though, would be self-preservation. If you had murdered him in full view of everyone, you'd be facing far greater consequences than a temporary removal from the classroom and a stern talking-to from your parents, hm? Still, how badly you want something can have a measurable effect on the magnitude of your spells."

"I guess I didn't really want to kill him," Damian admitted, shrugging. "Just hurt him enough to scare him. I don't know anyone I want to actually kill, yet."

Qabian looked skeptical. "That seems difficult to believe. My implication was that you did, and that's why your magic was more powerful than expected, but that mitigating circumstances and lack of experience held you back."

Damian rolled his eyes. "If I wanted to kill him, I would have set more than his clothes on fire. I'm not a complete idiot. But that wouldn't get me anywhere. I might be susprended for a few days, but when I get back, they'll think twice about talking about my mother that way."

"And why do they talk about your mother that way?"

"Because people are afraid of what they don't understand, and saying stupid things about things they're afraid of makes them feel better." He scratched his nose.

"So simple childish malice directed at the easiest target, and not because she actually did something to earn the distaste of your peers?"

Damian shrugged. "She's common, I guess. And my father is a lot older than her. I guess it looks strange, but only idiots without anything better to do worry about things like that."

"So you never agree with anyone who says disparaging things about your mother?"

"I guess it depends on what they say."

Qabian smirked. "That's good. Wouldn't want to deny a truth just because you didn't like the way it sounded, hm?"

Damian's red eyes drifted over Qabian's face. "What kind of truth?"

Qabian shrugged. "Being common and marrying someone half in the grave might not be worth insulting, but having no integrity, or being a murderer out of repetitive laziness, or whatever incentive it is she has to prevent you from becoming more powerful might be worth criticizing, hm?"

"I'm pretty sure she's just overprotective," Damian countered, tilting his head critically. "But she and my father have been fighting hard on the Broken Shore, so anyone who criticizes her integrity is just wrong. At least she's out there, fighting. She's got some really powerful things out there, too. I think they're just jealous of how powerful she's gotten."

"That's possible. Are you?"

"No. She's my mother," Damian said dismissively. "I like her scythe, though. She uses it to steal souls."

"Hm. If my mother dropped me in a school where they failed to teach me proper spellwork then went around collecting powerful items without the slightest concern about my power, and helping me to be the best I can, I would have been rather frustrated."

Damian smirked a little. "I'm seven years old, sir. I don't have any reason to be that frustrated with my mother. Especially not if she lets me go to Dalaran."

"I suppose I can agree with that." Qabian folded his arms. "Do you know why they left you alone before?"

Damian furrowed his brow. "..I know my father was missing in battle. My mother went after him. I guess it took them a while to find each other."

"Were you angry?"

The boy lowered his eyes. "..a little. Yes."

Qabian grinned, slight this time, but just as smug. "Why?"

"Because.. I think they care more about each other than they do about me," he admitted. "That's why she keeps me so close, now. To try and show me that's not true."

Qabian's grin grew wider. "I think you're right, but she has to do her best to convince you it's not true, doesn't she? She can't just let you be angry, even if it's for a true and real reason."

Damian ran a hand through his hair. "I guess. I guess she has to try. Or at least she feels like she does. I don't know.. how did you know they left me alone?"

Qabian hesitated. "Didn't you say? When you mentioned why you needed power quickly? They might die and leave you alone again, hm?"

Damian tilted his head to one side. "..yeah. I guess so. But I guess that could happen to anyone in wartime. Better to be prepared, just in case, right?"

Qabian relaxed, then nodded with a smirk. "Next time they're forced to choose between you and each other, you need to be ready to be left alone. You convince your mother, hm?"

"I will," he said with a nod. "Will you be in the field?"

"I..." Qabian paused, only now recognizing he might have gotten into something more complicated than he intended. "Yes."

"Oh," Damian seemed a little disappointed. "So you wouldn't be around to do any training yourself."

Qabian grimaced, a bad attempt at hiding his complete distaste for the idea behind some kind of neutrality. "I... I'm sure I'll help with some of it. After all, there aren't many who can match my skill with fire and what's the point of any of it if you aren't learning from the best?" Why not pile lies upon more lies. It wouldn't be too long before it all blew up in his face.

Damian smiled genuinely. "Well, then I guess I'll see you again soon. Sir. Thank you."

Qabian bowed low. "I suppose I should ask your name, hm? Though I'm sure it'll be easy to tell which one is you." He made an offhand gesture at his eyes.

"Damian Bloodstone," the boy answered easily, bowing respectfully. "Sir."

"Right then." Qabian gave a lazy salute. "See you around." He turned on his heel to leave.

Damian watched him leave, his smile once again growing into a skeptical frown.

Qabian made his way back toward the school, figuring he should at least talk to Brightway. He couldn't help but laugh to himself. If nothing else, he'd made a mess. He doubted the kid would actually make it as far as murder any time soon, but it seemed some sort of disruption of the Bloodstone family's status quo was inevitable, which was all he'd really been after.

Edited by Ninorra
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Qabian entered the classroom as Brightway was attempting to mop up the mess left behind after his earlier heroics dousing a flaming student. Qabian leaned back against the door jamb, his arms folded across his chest, smirking. “I see teaching hasn’t changed much over the last century.”
 
Brightway looked up with a scowl on his round face. “You bastard. What did you teach him?”
 
Qabian shrugged with a mock-innocent glance upward. “Me? Nothing. He taught himself. Didn’t you look through what I sent him?”
 
Brightway opened and closed his mouth like a fish as he realized how he was complicit in what happened. “Sure, you haven’t changed either.” He laughed a single too-loud laugh, then went back to mopping. “But if this keeps up, I’m going to make him your problem.”
 
Qabian sighed. “I’m beginning to realize that I’ve made him my own problem.”
 
“Eh?” Brightway paused and leaned on his mop. “What about the Kirin Tor?”
 
Qabian looked off to the side. “Yes, that’s... complicated.”
 
Brightway laughed his too-loud laugh again, letting the mop continue on its own just as Silvermoon’s brooms did. “Business as usual then.”
 
Qabian muttered under his breath, intentionally inaudible. This entire escapade was supposed to have been a simple but entertaining lesson in why raising children was a bad idea. The kid was supposed to have killed himself or someone else and been done with it. The story Qabian had concocted to make that happen shouldn’t have mattered, but despite his intentions, the lies continued on their merry way, twisting back on him. He should have known better, but some chaos was just too tempting to avoid, and now there were certain interweaving lines within the unfolding drama that led him to consider drawing out the play, better ways to misdirect blame, incite violence, and cause rifts between people he believed deserved misery.
 
Managing the Kirin Tor connection was going to be at best awkward, at worst actually harmful to Qabian’s cause. He still had enough confidence in his network of bribed and blackmailed mages to keep the story going without him ending up back in Stormwind, but he would have to play the part he had concocted while somehow avoiding Covenant sympathizers until he could extricate himself. Perhaps Esara could help keep the connections to the Magisters and the Tirisgarde, not so directly under the Kirin Tor’s watchful eye, maybe even get the kid mixed up with the Empyreans somehow.
 
“Brightway, make sure you use my name if you contact the Kirin Tor about him,” Qabian said as his thoughts came back around to the present.
 
“Of course. Why wouldn’t I?” Brightway asked.
 
“My new name. Grimfire.”
 
Brightway raised an eyebrow. “Sure, that’s a bit common sounding for you, isn’t it?”
 
Qabian’s smirk shifted into a glare. “It gets the point across.”
 
“Sure,” Brightway said with a shrug.
 
Qabian stepped forward, smirk sliding back into place. “In the future, you should be more careful what you give to your students.”
 
“In the future, I should be more careful about listening to you,” Brightway said with a curiously merry guffaw. “But if he’s going to be your problem, then I’ll just clean up this mess and be done with it.”
 
“Mmhm. Hopefully, this is the last I see of you.” Qabian rolled his eyes hard as he turned on his heel and left the room.

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Damian returned home at the usual time. The sun was at its hottest point, and a short shadow was cast as he made his way to the stables to perform his afternoon chores.

Vicailde was sat at a short stool seeing to Frank's shoes. The new hooves shimmered with a shimmering gold. Vicailde wore simply his linen pants and boots. His shirt hanging over the door to Frank's stable.

"If it isn't the little Lord." Frank mused his tall ears twitched as he turned to see Damian approach.

Vicailde turned in his seat, glancing over his shoulder. His hand resting in a loose fist on his leg. "Your school contacted me..." He trailed off as he turned fully in his chair to face his son. His face was stern, but seemed to be a bit conflicted. "...would you mind telling me your side of what happened?"

Damian seemed hesitant to walk into the stable. He frowned at Frank, but didn't feel confident enough to cast the same expression to his father. Pursing his lips, he approached the older Bloodstone and lifted his chin to face him. "He wouldn't leave me alone. He never does," he argued. "I warned him before, and he didn't listen. He kept saying things, so I finally did something about it."

Vicailde studied his son for a moment.  "Tell me. What will you do if he returns looking to make you pay for what you've done? Returns with friends?" He waved Damian in closer to him. "There are other ways of making people shut up. I spent years perfecting that art. Fear is an easy weapon to weild.. but it's fleeting and it turns on you. Respect is a far better path."

"I've tried that," Damian insisted, approaching his father cautiously. "I tried to ignore him. I tried asking nicely. He wouldn't listen, so I had to make him listen."

Vicailde sighed and studied his son for a moment. "I never said you had to take the high road or that you should take it laying down. However, first why do his words mean anything to you? Are you worried others may agree with whatever he said? Tell me. If a Lord on the council had said something similar would you attempt to set him on fire?"

Damian's eyes shot up toward Vicailde's, red and angry as the felsteed standing beside Frank. "They did say those things. About me, and mother. I didn't set them on fire because I had to be responsible for our home, but I don't need to take it from someone my own age. I had to make him see I'm not going to let him just get away with it."

Vicailde's face remained unchanged and he stared back into his son's eyes. He stood up slowly, towering over his son. "Then let us go. Tell me which Lord said these things and you can burn them too."

"...Vic..." Frank murmured quietly. Vicailde's hand opened quickly, causing the horse to fall silent.

Damian shook his head, confused. "That won't do anything but hurt our family. I can't just set everyone on fire," he argued, his lip trembling. "I just wanted to teach him a lesson. That's all."

Vicailde raised a brow looking down at his son. "So burning a defenseless child is fine but attacking someone who could fight back is out of the question?" Vicailde sighed and placed a hand on Damian's head comfortingly. "You are right. You can't set everyone on fire but, you can't teach idiots lessons; the world is full of them. They'll try to drag you down to the dirt because that's what they are. So you got a few options. Let them drag you down, ignore them and hide from their words, or you can reveal them for the idiots that they are. Knowing how to defend yourself if they attack you is helpful for any of them, but doing so in a way that embarrasses them is worth any physical pain you could inflict."

Damian's left eyebrow twitched at the explanation. "..you don't think setting him on fire was embarrassing enough? After all the teasing? You don't know what it's like. You were gone. I had to take everyone's insults while you were away, and they think I can just go to school and be like all the other kids? While you and mother fight the Legion, I'm fighting off other kids who remind me how common my mother is, how you paid for her, and how all I am is a.. an agreement you had."

Vicailde licked his lips slowly and sat back down. He placed a hand on Damian's shoulder. "No. There was nothing embarrassing about it. Everyone here remembers when the undead attacked and now the Legion is on their doorstep and they're too weak to fight them so they try to take their fear out on others. I didn't chose to leave you or your mother; I was taken." He took a slow breath and and shook his head. "As I said, they are dirt and their words are dirt. Do you doubt my love for your mother or you? They have these stupid rules about who should love who. I ignored those idiots. I rubbed their noses in it. I thought that I could protect you from it... that was my failing."

"You can't protect me from everything," Damian said quietly, shame written across his young face. "I have to be able to protect myself. I know you and mother love me. I know you love eachother, but nobody cares about any of that. All they care about is that I look different, and she looks different, and you're important so they have to tolerate me but nobody really wants to. Nobody here."

"I can't but I will try and I will try to teach you how to defend yourself." He took a slow breath and raised a hand to his own blue eyes. "They make fun of your eyes because they remind them what they lost. How the high elves look down on our people's green eyes. They want to drag those beneath them because they can't handle feeling 'tainted' but your eyes, your skin, your hair. These are all simply pieces. You can let them control you or you can own them and use them to your advantage." Vicailde ran a finger from the corner of his lip to his ear. "I used to have a scar that ran from my lip to my ear. At first people reeled at it. Imperfection was not tolerated back then as it isn't now. I would be lying if I didn't say it controlled me for awhile but, I learned to use it for apathy or fear as the situation called for it."

Damian squinted at his father, as if attempting to imagine what he must have looked like with a scar that big. "Well.. if you could do that with your scar, couldn't I do that with my eyes? I'm not planning on setting anyone else on fire," he said quickly, as if to defend himself. "I figured once would be enough."

Vicailde nodded slowly. "I would have traded my scar for eyes like thoses. However, no more burning. If you want to teach people a lesson you will have to do it with your tongue or your fists and if you want to learn to do that I can teach you."

Damian looked down at his hands, frowning deeply at the prospect. "..someone from the Kirin Tor came to see me. He said I had potential. That I should be in Dalaran, training." There was a pause as he gathered his courage. "..may I go?"

Vicailde paused and raised a brow. "We can go to Dalaran if you wish it. However, you will have to amend for what you did to this child first. If after that and a short visit you still wish to train there then you will have to prove it is something you wish to do. You will have to behave at school, do your chores, and... train with me."

"..train? You mean learn to fight?" He asked, squinting. Damian seemed to consider the possibilities he was being offered, weighing them. "Corvallis taught me swordfighting. He practices with me, sometimes. Fighting like that?"

Vicailde nodded and smiled softly. "Fighting, Survival, Politics, and other things. Forgive me. When I was taken you were just a baby and I couldn't handle how much you had grown on my return. I wanted you to be a child because I missed so much.  I recognize now that I shouldn't treat you like a child. However, this means that it won't be easy. You could continue relaxing at school and home if you wish."

"Relaxing? You think what I do is relaxing?" The boy said incredulously, more stressful in his motions than any child his age had the right to be. "There's nothing relaxing about being me," he said while looking toward Xanatos. "Not at school, not anywhere. "

Vicailde frowned and took hold of Damian's shoulders. "Yes. In comparison this is relaxing. It will be hard work. However, if you would prefer we can find ways to help you relax." Vicailde glanced towards Ninorra's steed. "There are several wards we can look into that will help keep them from speaking to you... and if you wish to learn from home instead of school that can be arranged for a time." Vicailde cleared his throat. "However, if you wish to learn how to harness innate abilities you must also learn how to do things that do not com naturally to you as well."

"..like fighting," Damian suggested quietly, looking down at his hands. "I'm not good at it like you are. I'm good at.. other things. Like studying, and casting spells, but.. that's why I do it. Because I know I'm not going to be a fighter like you were." There was a certin amount of shame in the boy's voice, as if he regretting this truth.

"I was a terrible fighter. I kept my nose in a book and I absolutely loved watching plays. It is what I always wanted to do. My father made me learn. I hated it. However, I grew to enjoy it in my own way. As I said, it's important to learn to do things that don't come naturally... unless you want to end up like those spoiled people who try to take the easy way their entire lives and fear change and difficulty."

"I don't want to be like them," Damian said defensively. He looked carefully at his father, as if confused. "..you hated fighting? Really? I thought you were always good at it.." he said thoughtfully, then shook his head. "But if you hated it, then why did grandfather make you do it?"

Vicailde cleared his throat and avoided his son's eyes for a moment. "He... had an idea for what I should be. Much was expected of me." He turned towards his son and smiled softly. "I don't expect you to be good at it, but I did learn much from it and I think you can to."

"I don't mind learning.." Damian relented. "I liked sword fighting with Corvallis. He's a really good fighter."

Vicailde sighed and nodded. "Again, you may still continue learning from him." Vicailde scratched his cheek lightly. "I didn't think you would be so reluctant to spend more time together.."

"..with you?" Damian asked, blinking. "I'm not.." he said carefully, looking for a way to explain his feelings. "..I didn't think you'd want to. With me."

"Of course. I'll admit I have been preoccupied since my return with the Legion and explaining our return to the council... If you go off to Dalaran I'll see even less of you. I'm sure your mother will want to steal some of your time for herself. We simply have been focused on ending this war so that we can return home. I suppose we just hoped we would have a few more years." He scoffed lightly. "Maybe you'll find a way of forgiving me later but those are my terms."

Damian lookes to his father thoughtfully, as if looking for something beyond his words. "I would have done it anyway," he said with a shrug, his own attempt at pride. "But if that's what I have to do for you to let me go to Dalaran, then I'll do whatever you say."(edited)

Vicailde smirked thoughtfully. "One last thing before you go work on your school work, what do you wish to do in Dalaran? You have been asking to go for a while now. What do you intend to see or learn?"

"I want to become a Magister," the smaller blonde explained, his eyes confident. "I want to learn from the best spellcasters in the world. I want to see Khadgar, and learn from the Kirin Tor. Archmage Grimfire was recruiting for them, he met me in Silvermoon."

Vicailde raised a brow curiously. "Oh? Curious I hope your incident at school doesn't change his mind. They can be fairly rigid about discipline. It requires a steel resolve to be a Magister least you end up falling to tainted power like our Prince did." Vicailde cleared his throat. "What do you wish to do with your powers once you learn them?"

"Defend our home," Damian answered easily, standing up a little straighter. "Take care of everyone."

Vicailde leaned back in his seat. "Why do you want to do that and who do you want to take care of?" He smirked lightly. "Doesn't have anything to do with that girl you kissed does it?"

"No!" Damian practically shouted, his face turning a shade of red. "No, it's just.. I don't know if something will happen to you and mother again. So if it does, I need to be ready. Just in case."

Vicailde ticked his tongue lightly. "You can't prevent or predict what will happen, but I've learned you should pursue interests outside of self preservation. We have enough money to hire more guards for the homestead if you wished for protection. Either the armies will win or we won't but you pushing yourself for that goal probably won't resolve it." Vicailde shrugged lightly. "I'm not saying don't train for war but focus on something that makes you happy. Magisters do far more than fight. They studied our world to understand it for the sake of knowledge."

"..I like studying," the boy admitted, shrugging. "I think.. maybe if I'm in a place where everyone else is studying, maybe I won't be so different."

Vicailde nodded and gave his hair another ruffle. "Good. Now go see to your chores and don't forget to clean up for dinner." I'm sure your mother will have some words for you when she returns.

Damian winced and turned to the door. "She's going to overreact.."

Vicailde cleared his throat. "Go easy on your mother. She struggled with her powers when she was your age... and she had no one to help her. She simply does not want to lose you. To the fel or to Dalaran."

The boy looked somewhat guilty with himself. "I'll be fine. She should be more worried about getting hurt on the Shore. I read about the demons there. They're huge, and they have ships firing beams from the sky at people below."

"Well they're not just firing at the shore. They're firing at Dalaran and I have seen more than a few Demons on the pavilion from time to time. If you're worried about her then know the more she worries about you the less she'll be able to concentrate on her surroundings.... Besides there is nothing that will make her worry any less about you only more."

Damian sighed heavily, as if the weight of the world were on his shoulders. "Even if she knows I can defend myself? If I were more powerful, I could fight back better than I can now."

Vicailde chuckled. "You could become better than Khadgar and she would worry no less. I am not saying you shouldn't train. I am simply reminding you that your mother worries not because she doesn't trust you but because she loves you."

Frowning in an all-too-familiar expression, Damian lowered his eyes back to the ground. "I love her too. I'll be good. I promise. Thank you, father."

Vicailde nodded turning back to the task at hand. His steed looked down at him and Frank's lips parted in a toothy grin. "So sweet."

"Shut it." Vicailde muttered in his breath as he lifted the hood back into his view.

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After some co-ordination with Brightway, Qabian sent a note in the mail for the child to meet him by the Antonidas Memorial in Dalaran at a specified time. Qabian set two Kirin Tor agents at the entrance to the small park, one human, one high elf, both wearing tabards. They looked like they were there to be professional, but they were actually being paid to keep an eye out for certain other members of the Kirin Tor and the Alliance who might want to start shit. For his own tabard, Qabian wore Silvermoon City's.

The mage rolled up his sleeves as he waited next to the statue, looking upward, amused by how the city managed to hide the roiling green sky behind an illusion of normalcy.

It had taken Damian several hours worth of coaxing to get Ninorra to allow him a visit to Dalaran. In the end, his agreement with Vicailde proved to be the linchpin. She couldn't baby him forever, and he was willing to do whatever it took for her to allow him a trip to Dalaran, which in this case, meant her accompanying him. He'd only been to the city once, but was fascinated by everything that he saw. Dressed in his school iniform, he looked somewhat less foreboding than his mother, who dressed in the black and red robes of a warlock that only accentuated their red eyes. Spikes decorated with the skulls of demons protruded from her shoulders, gaudy and at least a little ridiculous.

As they approached the agreed-upon spot where Damian suggested they meet Grimfire, Ninorra was going over her worries with the boy.

"..and then there are the Alliance.. most are fine, but there are more than a few who would start trouble with a boy like you if only to get under our--

"There he is, mother," Damian said, relieved to interrupt her tirade as he pointed toward Qabian. "That's Mister Grimfire."

A horrible grin spread across Qabian's face. The jig was finally up. 

Qabian gave Ninorra a lazy two-fingered salute when she noticed him. Their last conversation had been cordial enough, but he had more distance then. In truth, he was surprised the kid had managed to convince her at all. Despite the name change, Qabian had at no point intentionally hidden his identity since he mentioned it to Damian. That and Dalaran itself was clearly a step towards steering the child into danger, whoever's idea it may have been. He certainly hadn't expected her to show up herself. He'd assumed something else would have to happen for Damian to even make it to the city.

"That's Magister," he directed at Damian. "Ninorra," Qabian said by way of greeting, bowing shallow toward her.

"...oh, you're joking," Ninorra said in a low voice. If she was angry, the warlock was very good at hiding it. Then again, it may have been difficult to tell by the way she looked at Qabian, first curious and then, very interested.  Holding on to Damian's hand, she kept her tone even. Her voice was still melodic, even when she spoke, but there was a definite protective quality to it that one would expect from a mother. "You recruited the only boy with red eyes in Silvermoon. What a coincidence," she said dramatically.

The warlock returned his bow, a few strands of straightened black hair falling into her eyes. 

Damian followed suit, his white hair curlier than it was straight, resembling something close to lamb's wool. "Magister."

Qabian nodded at the Kirin Tor stooges who were looking at him for confirmation. They turned their backs to the three of them, returning their attention to the street.

"He's also the only boy at all that I saw out in the street destroying the decor." Qabian crouched, bringing himself down to the boy's level. "Weren't you, Master Bloodstone?" A tiny flame dancing in his palm, Qabian held his hand out to the boy as if he would know what to do with it.

Damian's expression was fairly blank as he stared at the fire, plucking it from Qabian's hand with his fingertips.

"Oh, and you just so happened to be on the lookout for young boys that day?" Ninorra asked innocently, as if the question had no moral connotations.

Qabian grinned, slightly less horribly, at Damian's response to the magic. "See, he should be here." Qabian looked up at Ninorra without standing. "Gender is irrelevant. Potential is what matters. But if you must phrase it that way, then yes," he lied. "Is that a problem?"

"Oh no, no problem," she replied casually, also lying. "I spend a lot of time in Dalaran myself. This may even be more convenient, since I will have both him and Sanctuary so close by to each other. He even mentioned that you would be personally teaching him a few things?" 

There was a pause as she smiled.

"If that is the case, we will be seeing quite a bit of each other."

The hesitation behind Qabian's grin was not well hidden. There was an instinct to groan and stalk away that took him some effort to suppress, but beyond a shadow over his face and a shift in his expression, he didn't react much. 

"I will, so it seems, both be teaching him and seeing you." He dropped his hand, watching to see what the boy would do with the small flame.

Qabian turned that horrible grin back on Ninorra. "Unless you have a problem with that, of course."

"Oh no," the warlock purred, a hand shifting to Damian's shoulder. It wasn't quite firm enough to be overprotective, but it was a reminder of her presence. "On the contrary. I think he can learn a lot from you."

Qabian finally stood up, straightening his tabard. "Of course he can. But it's dangerous here, hm? That's why you kept him in Silvermoon in the first place, yes? He may even get himself killed, but that doesn't bother you, does it?" The glint in Qabian's eyes was absolutely cruel.

"I suppose it is a little scary to see one's first born leave home for the first time," Ninorra admitted, acquiescing. Just enough. "But then again, the closer he is to our guild hall, the more eyes I can have on him. They say 'it takes a village to raise a child'. Well, luckily for me, I have an entire guild worth of passionate, principled, virtuous friends who will not hesitate to step in should they see him in any sort of trouble."

It was then that Damian glanced up at his mother with a raised eyebrow. He knew better than to interrupt adults when they were talking, but he had an inkling about the subject matter. Slowly, the fire spread to cover his palm.

Qabian's grin vanished thoroughly. He frowned, almost scowling at Ninorra's words. This conversation was not proceeding at all had how he expected it might. To be honest, he'd expected to be slapped. If what she said was true, and that Sanctuary was going to be up in his business all the time because he'd had a stupid idea that had long since gone off the rails and was now careening directionless into the twisting nether, he was going to be extremely unimpressed.

The fire over the boy's hand did bring a touch of a smile back to Qabian's face, though. 

Qabian shrugged. "Fine. Then I won't even try to be careful. Spies everywhere. Let the kid learn as he will. He's perfectly safe without my help. Just point him at the demons and let him go. Understood."

Ninorra raised a sculpted eyebrow. That he was trying to goad her was clear, but she had memories of him being a lot better at it than he was being now. "I think you will try to be careful," she said gently, attempting to make things less confrontational. Time would tell how much her efforts would pay off. "I think you will try to be careful, because while it's obvious that you're trying to gain something from this, I don't think you are the type to crave chaos so much that it leads you down the path of self destruction."

A pause. Damian rolled his hand in the air, watching the flames lick his hand without harming him.

"..unless things really have changed."

"Perhaps they have. I have zero intention of being careful," he said, the small smile growing back into a terrible grin as he watched the boy play with the fire. "Being careful was the mistake Silvermoon made. Being careful is what sent him here. Being careful may as well have kept him locked in his crib. Insinuating that your oh-so-virtuous friends would be watching me was simply you giving me parental permission to do what I already intended." 

Qabian turned his eyes on Ninorra then. "I have no plans on self-destruction. I'm not afraid of Sanctuary, and I'm certainly not afraid of you. In theory, this is about your son, and no doubt he will benefit from being allowed to learn from his own mistakes. Give a child a sharp blade, and they'll either very quickly become skilled at avoiding the edge or very quickly die finding out how it works, hm?"

"Luckily for Damian, his father has taught him how to use blades," Ninorra said with a cooling expression. 

The boy looked up as his name was mentioned, the fire going out almost immediately in his hand. Glancing from his mother to the Magister, his expression was difficult to read. 

"You are not the type of person to care for anyone outside of yourself," his mother continued, waving a hand dismissively. "That much I already know, so it is no insult when you insinuate that I care too much. Of course I do. I am his mother, and that will not change no matter how much older or more capable he becomes. The fact of the matter is, I trust my son to learn from mistakes. His own," she squeezed his shoulder once, smiling down at the boy before returning her gaze to Qabian's. "..and those around him."

Qabian's unpleasant grin softened when Ninorra declared the type of person he was, setting him in opposition to herself. What she was saying had not always been true, but for the present, she was absolutely correct, and to Qabian, that in itself was the greatest quality about his return. For just a moment, he paused to revel in that knowledge, even if the recognition of it was coming from someone whose opinion he considered without value.

"Good," Qabian said. "I'm sure Damian will agree." He looked down at the boy. "You will learn much faster than you ever did in Silvermoon, but it will also be much more difficult and much more painful. You're not afraid of getting hurt, are you?"

Damian almost rolled his eyes. Almost. He suddenly saw the value of his father's lessons, those long days spent outside learning how to throw a real punch and use what little strength he had to wrestle an opponent three times his size. He wasn't a gifted fighter, which meant a lot of lessons in pain. "No."

"Good. You'll have plenty of chances to prove it." There was a surprising lack of condescension in Qabian's tone, almost as if he was earnestly interested in seeing how the child would cope. He turned back to Ninorra. "Will he be staying with you or Sanctuary here? Or does he need a place?"

"He will be staying in our guild hall," she answered easily, glancing in the hall's direction. "Will you be providing him with a schedule? Or should we look for word from the Kirin Tor?"

"I will... set a schedule." Part of Qabian was rebelling against the entire idea of this. What the fel was he doing? But the part of him that was in charge was telling him to keep his mouth shut, because doing things against his very nature was going to get him what he needed. "I assume he has no other commitments and can work around mine? Unfortunately, there are places in the city he won't be able to access without me, but I'll make sure the libraries outside the tower are open to him at all times, day and night."

Qabian crouched down in front of Damian again. "I expect you'll want to be exploring the books while I'm not around, and you should absolutely do that as often as you can. None of them should be forbidden to you, but before you go looking, there are two important things to know." Qabian held up one finger. "Only read one at a time. Some of the tomes the Kirin Tor keep around have strange interactions with each other that can't be seen on the surface. If you open several at a time, especially in certain places, you risk opening demon portals into the city." He held up a second finger. "It's best to treat them with respect. Silvermoon's books are better trained. Dalaran's books have a tendency to get annoyed by the smallest things and may react unpredictably. Understand?"

"Yes," Damian said calmly, nodding once. 

Ninorra bowed her head gently in agreement. "He will be available when you are. The rest of his time will be spent studying. My one condition is that he not leave Dalaran unless it is with myself or his father. If you absolutely must go somewhere for any reason, I will accompany you."

Qabian kept his attention on Damian. "Do you agree to that? Do you want mommy or daddy tagging along every time you want to go anywhere interesting? Do you want to be stuck in the city whenever your parents and I can't arrange our schedules?"

Damian opened his mouth to argue, but paused. The boy studied Qabian's face, as if studying something. "...sir. i made a deal with my father. I'll keep my word and not leave the city without them."

Qabian looked up at Ninorra. "Assuming I agreed to this ludicrous restriction that misses the entire point of coming this far at all, how exactly would you stop me from breaking it?"

Ninorra cocked her head at the red haired elf. "You're asking how I would stop you from kidnapping my son?" She asked with an amused smirk. "Surely you are smart enough to know why I would keep that under my hat. Besides the fact that I trust my son not to simply disobey us."

"In this city, there are times he would be alone with me and this city has an abnormally large amount of exits to absolutely anywhere. Kidnapping would be the simplest thing if I were to take it into mind to be something I wanted. As it is, you may have to decide whether you want him to be my apprentice or your baby. It seems both states are incompatible," Qabian elucidated.

"That is where you and I must disagree, Qabian. You can not and will not take Damian from this city without me." 

Ninorra's red eyes flashed a little brighter, then almost immediately dimmed once more.

"And, pleasantries and your lack of fear aside, I would not envy you if you tried."

Qabian stood and straightened his tabard. "So be it. I'm sure the Kirin Tor will find some junior mage willing to mind your child while you're busy, but I have better things to do than babysit and take family picnics. I'll find an apprentice whose parents aren't so determined to crush his curiosity and willingness to learn."

Ninorra folded her arms, smirking. "Perhaps. I am sure Silvermoon is full of talented young students who would be honored to be your apprentice. None of them a child of Sanctuary, of course. Or with Damian's particular background." She shrugged. "You are free to choose, of course. I know Damian will be disappointed, and that is a shame.."

Damian scowled at the ground.

"..but you can not always have what you want. That is an important lesson."

Qabian mirrored the child's scowl, but he did so deliberately, intending to show a feeling that seemed appropriate yet didn't betray his actual thoughts. Ninorra had neatly called Qabian's bluff, but the part of him that didn't want any of this mess was rejoicing, trying convince him to simply take the ever so convenient exit provided, to throw his hands up and abandon this idiotic mission.

In the end, Qabian let the scowl fade and spoke directly to Damian. "I could lie. It would be very easy to lie, to tell your parents what they want to hear, to say that I will do what they wish, and in the meanwhile put my efforts behind their backs into convincing you not to listen to them. But while I don't put much stock by your parents' opinions, given how they've tried so hard to stifle your learning at every turn, simply lying would be doing a disservice to you, young master. 

"I won't be taking any other apprentices. I will let you know when you can find me, and I will teach you what I can, limited though it will be without real situations and real targets. However, I will not be going anywhere with your parents present, outside the city or within it. You've managed to convince them to let you come this far. You can do that again. Convince them to let you go as far as you actually need to, then we'll see what we can do."

Damian looked earnestly toward the magister. He had been through a lot in his few short years, and he had experience with adults attempting to manipulate him. There was a certain aura oozing from Qabian. Something sinister and uneasy. So much so that he wondered, briefly, why his typically overprotective mother would let him get so close. Surely he was dangerous? But her hand on his shoulder was symbolic. She was there, watching. Listening.

"Yes, sir. I will," he said calmly. It was not a lie.

Qabian took a deep breath in through his nose and faced Ninorra, folding his arms across his Silvermoon tabard. "Well, then. You have your demands. I have mine. I suppose that settles that for now?"

"For now," the warlock agreed, bobbing her head once. "Until he hears from you, then. Safe travels, Qabian."

"Mm. Something like that." Qabian frowned as he waved off the Kirin Tor guards who had been standing nearby, then cast a teleport spell, vanishing off to who knows where.

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The Twisting Nether Gazette is a role play forum for characters on the RP-PVP servers Twisting Nether and Ravenholdt.  We have been active since November of 2005, a few months after the Twisting Nether server originally went live.  Our purpose is to provide a safe and inclusive environment where role players can meet and interact with each other, and, of course, post their amazing role play stories, art, bios, and journals.

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