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  1. The Rooks of Twisting Nether cordially invite you to help us celebrate the Midsummer Fire Festival with our annual Mount Parade around Old Town of Stormwind City! Prizes will be awarded to the best Mount-Gear* matching participants! Bonus points for matching/themed gear, mount, and pet(s)! (( *Transmorgrified or actual gear only - those who use magic or temporary illusions will be disqualified from receiving a prize! )) Third Place: 25k Gold Second Place: 50k Gold Grand Prize: Other-worldly Mount** (( ** FREE, PAID MOUNT FROM THE BLIZZARD STORE OF THE WINNER'S CHOOSING! )) (( In the past, we've had nearly 30 participants! This is a fun way to bring both the RP and non-RP communities of TN-RH together! We hope you can join us! )) To participate, simply meet at the Fountain in Old Town at 7PM Realm Time (( CDT - 8PM EDT )). At that time, Rooks' Officers will check-in/register participants and begin the Parade line-up. Once ready, we'll begin our march around the Old Town Circle. (( A pre-parade "pre-game" Tavern-RP event at the Pig and Whistle in Old Town will commence at 6PM Realm Time. )) Be sure to bring fireworks and other celebratory items to commemorate the occasion! WHAT: Rooks' Annual Midsummer Mount Parade WHEN: Sunday, June 25, 2017 at 7:00PM Realm Time WHERE: Fountain at Old Town in Stormwind City WHY: To celebrate and bring together the communities of TN-RH! FABULOUS PRIZES! (( Be sure to whisper or send a message to Atilakai, GM of Rooks, if you have any questions! ))
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  2. “You! You’re under arrest,” Cavanaugh marched into the Legerdemain lounge, pointing an accusing finger at one of the patrons who was sitting at the bar, sipping at a steaming mug. The handful of people in the establishment looked around. A few of them got up to leave. Qabian turned just his head, slowly raising an eyebrow at the commotion without lowering his mug. Cavanaugh slammed a gauntleted fist on the bar next to the blood elf. “Now.” Qabian finally put down his coffee then lifted his hands in front of him, palms out, otherwise relaxed. “By you?” Qabian asked. “Yes, by me. Get up.” “You think this is Stormwind?” Qabian spoke slowly, plying that thick accent of his over the Common words. “You have no power here. I lived here when your father was a child. This is my city.” “The Council will see the truth,” Cavanaugh growled. “Get up,” he commanded a second time. Qabian tilted his head, then gave Cavanaugh a slow grin followed by a shrug, just as slow with a dramatic twist of the wrist. “You have such faith. Let us see.” He stood, again slow and calm, brushing non-existent dust from his robes. “But answer this: Why?” Cavanaugh took a deep breath, folding his arms across his unmistakeable white and red tabard. “Do not toy with me, mage.” Qabian held his arms to either side in a gesture of innocence, but the smirk on his face showed only arrogance. “As you wish.” Qabian walked out into the street at a relaxed saunter, his hands clasped behind his back, his face turned up to smile at the sparkling tower of the Violet Spire. Cavanaugh followed behind, armor clanking with each frustrated step. “Move faster, mage.” “Why hurry? A few more minutes delayed justice?” Qabian said, but picked up the pace nonetheless. In the foyer of the Spire, the Council were conspicuous in their absence. A human woman in thick glasses and a Kirin Tor tabard stepped forward. “Sir Cavanaugh. Magister. May I be of assistance?” Cavanaugh bowed low. “If it please, madam, this man is a murderer. I request his extradition to Stormwind.” The woman dipped her head, looking over the top of her glasses at the two men, then sighed. “Perhaps we should have this discussion somewhere more discreet.” She led them up the main stairs to one of the parlors. Closing the door behind them, she looked pointedly at Cavanaugh. “What has he done this time?” “Come now, Redgrave. You’d take his word over mine? You know me,” Qabian interrupted in Thalassian. “Yes, I do, Amberlight. That's precisely why I'd take anyone's word over yours.” Cavanaugh cleared his throat. “He murdered the night matron of the Cathedral Square Orphanage in cold blood.” “He lies. I was nowhere near Stormwind,” Qabian snapped. The encounter wasn't going quite as he'd expected. Redgrave took off her glasses and began to clean them. “You have an alibi?” “Of course. I was in Suramar.” Cavanaugh snarled. “I saw you with my own eyes, fiend.” “Prove it!” Qabian spat back. “Then you can present your alibi in Stormwind,” Redgrave suggested. “Is -- Is that a joke?” Qabian stammered, his Common suddenly fluent and accent free. “You must be joking. Stormwind has never treated my people fairly and is unlikely to hear shal’dorei truth over the lies of one of their own sons. If I must be forced to present evidence of my innocence, let me present it in Silvermoon where at least my head will still be attached to my shoulders by the time I'm heard.” “Nonsense,” said Redgrave, waving a hand. “The alleged crime was in Stormwind. They will hear the evidence.” Qabian scowled. “I see Jaina still runs the Kirin Tor,” he said in Thalassian. “Careful, Amberlight,” Redgrave warned. “That's not my name. And you can't simply interfere in my work with the Tirisgarde. Have Modera play my shadow again at least until my projects are complete,” Qabian suggested, a note of desperation edging into his voice. There were few things that mattered to him, but his own survival was one of them. “Don't tell me what to do, Magister.” Redgrave stomped a heel. “You will go to Stormwind, and the Kirin Tor will send an advisor to ensure you have your say. Will you do this willingly, or must you be forced?” Cavanaugh watched the exchange in grim but polite silence. Qabian hesitated to answer. He took a few steps backward. His expression shifted from panic to rage, then to cold determination. “Fine,” he said finally. Redgrave stepped forward, closing the space he’d made between them. “Your arm.” Qabian obeyed, but said quietly, “You’ll regret this.” “I sincerely hope that’s not a threat, Magister,” Redgrave said as she closed two halves of a thin gold band around his wrist. “You’ll find out, won't you?” Qabian muttered. The woman turned to Cavanaugh and handed him a small golden key. “He won’t be able to cast spells while the band is locked. I entrust you’ll be able to handle him otherwise.” Cavanaugh took the key and bowed low. “Of course, madam.”
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  3. Qabian stands leaning against the curved doorway just inside The Agronomical Apothecary when Daerek arrives. The blood elf had done business with a goblin there earlier, put in an order for some flasks and said he'd wait there, making it look like he wasn't just some loiterer. Qabian brushes non-existent dirt off his Grim tabard as Daerek walks past him, opening with the ever-so-friendly statement, "She does not care about you," in thickly accented Common. Daerek shifts his pack as he enters the Apothecary, almost passing the elf altogether until he speaks. "I--pardon?" the young mage asks, blinking at the man with confused green eyes. Qabian smirks, giving the human a lazy salute in lieu of explanation or greeting. "Your girl. The one in your room. She does not care for you." Daerek draws back a little, taken aback by the elf's words. He eyes the other man up and down before speaking again. "She's not my girl," he says calmly. "Qabian, I presume?" Qabian raises an eyebrow, curious. "Yes. But I never gave her my name." The mage shrugs. "You don't have to be explicit for others to put a few things together." Qabian looks uncertain. "But why?" He then mirrors Daerek's shrug. "No matter. She lives with you, but is not yours?" Daerek looks at the man with an odd expression. "Living together doesn't mean two people have to be involved," he says slowly, as if it's a rudimentary concept. He doesn't seem bothered that this elf knows he lives with the woman in question. Qabian seems both bemused and incredulous, folding his arms across his chest. "Maybe no, but not even friends? Strangers do not do such things." Daerek actually laughs. "You would not believe how many people have told me that," he says easily. "And I'm sure I'll hear it a lot more." Qabian shrugs. "You do not care then? Neither of you care. Same home, ships in the night." The elf then stares Daerek right in the eyes and grins wickedly. "You are a liar, too. You deserve each other." The mage seems amused. "You're awful quick to come to conclusions. Are you sure you're making the right ones?" Qabian shakes his head, chuckling. "No conclusions. Only testing. Seeing what you do, how you answer. Do you know who she is?" "Sounds like conclusions to me," Daerek says lightly, shifting so that he's leaning against the stone wall of the apothecary in a mirror of Qabian's pose. "And I know enough. But I've got a better question--what's all this about?" Qabian raises his hands, palms up, still grinning unpleasantly. "Wish I knew. She is nobody, no one. Mystery. But someone I know hates her very much. Curious, hm? What did she do? Where is she from?" If he's honest with himself, Daerek is edging towards unsettled by the encounter--but he does a good job of covering it up with easy grins and laughter. "So who hates her? She's a nice girl. Seems hard to hate someone like that." "Indeed." Qabian folds his arms again, open grin shifting back into a closed smirk. "And yet. You know my name. Do you know me?" "A question with a non-answer!" Daerek slaps his knee with a laugh. "So clever." He sighs a little and gestures vaguely to the counter. "Is there a point to this? If you're just here to chat, that's fine, but I've got work to do." Qabian gives a slow nod of his head, holding that smug smirk of his. "Just chat. For now. And a warning." "Yeah? What's your warning?" Daerek regards the other man with lifted eyebrows and an expectant gaze. "You are easy to find. Easy to follow." Qabian stands up straight, abandoning his leaning posture. He mimics someone else's voice, much higher, and speaks Common without an accent. "'Oh, yes. I remember those two. They bought cupcakes by the bank. They were such a cute couple and very sweet together.'" He shrugs then slips back into his thick accent and short sentences to say, "Not my conclusions. Someone hates you. Maybe time to hide, hm?" Daerek watches Qabian with an unamused expression while the other man delivers his 'threats.' When he's finished, the youth pushes off from the wall and pulls himself up to his full height--a bit taller than the Grim elf, but not by a great deal. He stares down into the other man's face with a flat look. "You tell that someone that as far as I'm concerned, they're nothing more than a bully," he says quietly. "Now is that all? I really should get to work." Qabian laughs out loud, essentially in the man's face, intensely amused by both Daerek's dropping of his carefully maintained lightheartedness and the attempt to stare him down. The elf takes one step back in order to give a short, shallow bow with an exaggerated flourish. "Of course. But the one who hates you? No bully. For now, the bully is me." He ends that statement with an absolutely horrible grin, then turns on his heel with another lazy salute. "See you soon." The young mage doesn't seem bothered whatsoever by the mocking laughter. He seems to almost have expected it, if the smirk on his lips is anything to go by. "Two bullies are hardly any different than one," he says with a snort. "Be well, Bully. I look forward to seeing you again." Daerek doesn't appear to watch Qabian leave, instead turning towards the back counter to begin his work. Qabian steps lightly back into the street, where he's immediately accosted by a goblin. Qabian nods to the goblin, says something inaudible, and points back into the alchemist's place. The goblin nods in return and hands the elf a package. Only after the goblin skips off, singing off-key as she goes, does Qabian sigh and roll his eyes before pulling a mask up over his face and making himself scarce. Nothing was going quite the way he wanted.
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  4. Anee was sorting through a bag of herbs on the kitchen counter, identifying each one for Teagan, Daerek’s sister who was visiting for a while, and telling her a few facts about each plant, such as where it could be found and a few uses for it. Wearing just sweat pants and a tank top, and her hair back in a ponytail to keep it out of her way, she seemed quite relaxed as she taught the impromptu herb lesson to her lone student. Buster was laying on the couch, chewing on a bone that he held propped up between his paws. Despite her exuberant nature, Teagan was a solemn student and a quick learner. She was dressed similarly to Anee in terms of comfort, but she had snagged one of her brother's button-downs, rolled up the sleeves, and tied the long shirt ends at her stomach. Every now and then she shared a bit of trivia with Anee about an herb that she’d come across in a history book or some such other place. Daerek had been gone for the morning on some errand or another, but the jangle of keys outside of the apartment door heralded his return. Buster, abandoning a bone he had been chewing, jumped off the couch and ran to the door, barking happily and jumping up at Daerek as the door opened. "Anee?" he called, shifting some packages around in his arms. "You've got a package here!" Anee came from the kitchen and took the package from her roommate with a distracted “Thanks” as she looked at the box, so he could deal with the excited puppy. Daerek laughed at the dog and put the rest of the packages on the desk before squatting down to pet Buster. “You being a good girl, Teagan?” he called out, assuming she was there somewhere. Teagan came out of the kitchen, hands on her tilted hips. "A good girl? What am I, your dog?" "That's my shirt! You're wearing my shirt!" "Hmph. The color brings out our eyes." She tossed her hair with a laugh and returned to the kitchen. Anee set the box down on the coffee table. Buster left Daerek and came to sniff the box, most interested. When Anee opened the box and looked inside, she gasped loudly and stepped backwards. She walked back right into the couch and fell on her butt into the cushions. She didn’t even seem to notice though, still staring at the box with wide eyes. Daerek looked up at the commotion and Teagan popped her head out of the kitchen, a frown on her face. Daerek sprinted to Anee. "Hey hey hey, what's wrong? You alright?" He peered first into her face, resting a hand on her shoulder, before leaning over to peer into the box. Inside the box was a head. It had obviously been dead for a very long time; by now it was mostly just a skull with a few bits of hair and desiccated flesh still clinging to it, with a light spattering of grave dirt. There was a folded piece of paper shoved in the skull’s jaws. Frowning, Anee pulled the paper out and unfolded it. "Not your father. You're a liar." With another gasp and her eyes widening even further, she flung the note back into the box and stared at it as if it might start shooting fire at her. Buster, a lover of bones, jumped up and put his front paws on the coffee table to get a closer look at what was in the box. Although it was mostly too dried out to stink out the humans, his sensitive nose just knew there was something interesting there. Daerek sucked in a breath at the sight, but to his credit he didn’t seem too outwardly phased. He grabbed for Buster to move him away from the box. "What is it? What's going on?" Teagan asked, making to come investigate for herself. Anee put the lid back on the box. Daerek shot her a single stern look. "Don't," he said sharply, uncommon command strengthening his voice. "Do not look. And do not listen." Teagan recoiled with wide eyes. "Okay," she said in a small voice, ducking back into the kitchen without further noise. The mage shifted again to crouch in front of Anee, both hands moving gently for her shoulders. "Anee," he murmured. "Why don't you tell me what's going on?" There was nothing but concern for her in his voice and gaze. Anee looked right at Daerek, not even trying to hide her fear. "He knows where I live......" she murmured, her voice filled with dread as she considered the implications of that. Fear for herself turned into an icy lump in her stomach as she remembered the Grim mage asking about family and friends. "Then we'll go somewhere else for a while," he said softly. "But you need to tell me what's going on so I know what we need to do." He squeezed her shoulders a little bit, hoping to share any kind of comfort and calm. "I should go....away from you.... You'll be safer...." then she frowned. "If it's not already too late for that. I can...go to Stormwind. It might be safer there. Harder for him to get in there....or them.... I don't know if he's working alone. I don't know what he wants with me...." Her voice started to take on a note of desperation at the end, but she managed to not panic, at least not yet. After a moment, she seemed to realize she hadn't offered any explanation. "A few nights ago.... A man asked me some questions. He said I could have his panther cub, who seemed very hungry, if I answered his questions. He asked for my father's name, and I didn't want to tell him, so instead I gave him the name of the man who owned the pub I worked at." Her brow furrows at the box with the head in it. "How could he know I lied about that?" Daerek kept a steady look on her, not relinquishing his grip. "What other kinds of questions did he ask?" "He asked about my family," she said, speaking slowly as she tried to remember everything. "I told him they were all dead. He said he was an orphan too, so we had a lot in common. He asked.... He asked who I live with, and who my friends are. I lied to him. I told him I live just with Buster and have no friends. He got suspicious and asked if I belonged to a guild, so I told him the truth on that one...." She frowned then, biting her bottom lip. "Anee." Daerek brought one of his hands up to cup her face, moreso to keep her focusing on him and keep her grounded than as any kind of an intimate gesture. She looked away from the box and back to him. "No hiding anything, okay? Not from me, not right now." There was still no reproach in his voice, just earnest concern and an intent to get to the bottom of the situation before they make a move. "If he knows where I live, he may know about you....." Her voice was barely a whisper. "Daerek, I'm so sorry... He's Grim." "Okay," he said calmly. "Who?" She hesitated, remembering his words the other night about her knowing so many Horde people. "I...I... He wore their tabard," she said, looking back at the box. "A blood elf. He cast fire spells..... He burned the panther cub." The news about the cub made Daerek wince a little. "I'm sorry," he murmured, before looking at her with a level gaze again. "Do you know this man's name?" He knew what he said the other night too—couldn’t get it out of his head--but he was expecting her to be honest with him. That expectation was evident in his eyes. Still staring at the box, she says quietly, "He didn't say his name..." "But do you know it?" She flinched slightly. "Qabian......I don't know his last name." "Okay. Why would Qabian be asking you these questions? And following up on them in such a way?" "I don't know!" she exclaimed, wondering the same thing. She looked at him earnestly. "He's Grim. Everyone knows they just kill all Alliance, not make conversation with them. I asked him what he wanted, and all he said was he wanted answers to his questions." Then she frowned suddenly. Daerek stayed silent and cocked his head to the side, waiting for Anee to voice whatever thought she suddenly had. She opened her mouth but closed it again on that particular thought, and switched to her main concern. "You're not safe," she whispered, then glanced in the direction of the kitchen. "She's not either. I'm so sorry," "I'm not leaving you," he said flatly. "It's not happening. I'll get Teague somewhere safe, but I'm not leaving you alone." "They'll kill you. Horribly." She said it calmly, but her voice was filled with absolute certainty that it would happen. "Doesn't matter. I'm not leaving you alone." He smiled. "If they wanted me dead, that mage would have set me on fire the other night. But you.... If they're playing with me, they'll hurt you, and kill you, just to hurt me. You're safer without me." Daerek was silent for several moments, green eyes never leaving hers. "Do you want me to leave you?" he asked quietly. "For your own sake? Not mine?" She knew she should tell him yes and insist he let her go away alone. But she was not that selfless, and she was very scared. Slowly, she shook her head no. She knew it was wrong, but she told herself she could run away from him later if it was needed to protect him. Daerek leaned forward and pulled Anee to him in a hug. "Okay," he murmured into her hair. "Okay. Then I'm not. You're stuck with me. We'll figure this out together." The hug surprised her, but she quickly melted into him, nearly clinging to him. She nodded her head against him at his words, but miserably felt like she had just condemned him to a horrible death "We'll be okay, alright? I promise. One way or another." He sounded pretty confident, but Anee couldn’t see his face. There was a flash of fear in his eyes--fear that he had no idea what to do or who to turn to--but if she shifted at all to look at him, that fear would be completely gone. She just nodded again. To her, it wouldn't matter how confident he looked or sounded; she didn't at all believe they would be okay. "Okay." "Okay," he echoed, mindlessly kissing the top of her head. It bought him time to think if nothing else. And then they started working on laying out a plan to keep them all safe.
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  5. A little black panther cub ambled aimlessly through Dalaran. In an ordinary city, that might seem a sad or concerning thing, but given that every time the cub moved something underneath its fur shimmered arcane purple, it seemed likely in this city of mages that it's someone's familiar out on a task, should an observer be in-tune enough with the nature of the city to recognize it. The cub stopped in front of each doorway it passed as though waiting for something, pausing extra long for the moment in front of One More Glass. As Anee walked down the street, seemingly led by a pug puppy on a gem-studded blue leash, she caught sight of the cub. The pup also noticed it, pulling at his leash a bit, and wagging his butt with his tail as he panted excitedly. Anee was not in tune enough with the city to recognize a familiar when she saw one. She saw only a panther cub. At first, she simply followed it without trying to draw its attention, in case it seemed to know where to go, but as it stopped in front of all the doors, she decided he was lost. "Hey, kitty...." she called softly, holding her pup on a shorter leash as she approached the cub. "Are you lost?" The cat looked at her upside down, then walked up to the vendor's table right in front of a plate of cheese and waited. After a few moments, it looked at Anee then back at the cheese, somehow apparently oblivious to the dog's presence. "Oh, hungry, are you?" Little thief that she was, Anee sidled up next to the cheese table and swiped a small piece, and in the same motion, dropped it to the ground right next to the cat. Throughout her swiping, she looked over other cheeses on display, as if considering them. The pup strained to reach the cheese she dropped, but she held him firmly on the side of her opposite the cat. The cub snaps up the cheese in one quick gulp, then trots down the street back the way it came. At a short distance it stops, turns, and sits down, staring at Anee. Anee watched it before moving away from the table. She swiped a few more pieces of cheese, then walked toward the cub. When she got close, she held the pup at her back and squated down, holding her hand out in front of her with the cheese. "Hey, little guy," she crooned, not certain of the animal's gender, but figured it wouldn't matter as much as the sound of her voice as with most animals. "Do you want some more?" The cub got an odd expression on its face, almost a flicker of a cheshire grin. It trotted up to her hand, placed a paw on it, then ate the offered cheese. Again, it trotted away a short distance, then stopped, sat, and waited, staring at her. With her head tilted curiously, she repeated the movements, squatting again with another cube of cheese held in front of her. This time though, when the cub came for the cheese, she reached out to pet it on the head. It graciously allowed the petting to take place, seeming generally unperturbed, content to let her do what she liked, but once it had swallowed the cheese, it dashed off. It ran to the top of the ramp leading down into the Underbelly and sat, waiting, staring pointedly at Anee. "Oh, no, kitty, don't go down there. It's dangerous down there," she objected, stopping again and kneeling down with another bit of cheese. This time, however, she was ready to try to grab the cub to keep him from going any further into the bowels of the city. The cub’s eyes narrowed. It glanced back and forth between the cheese and her face, hesitating, before finally seeming to make a decision and trotting away from her down the ramp. As Anee sighed, watching after the cub as she stood up again, her pup jumped up and down at the end of his leash in that direction. He barked a few times until Anee gave his leash a little jerk and shushed him. She sighed again. "Fine, let's see if we can catch him before he gets hurt." With the pup still on a very short leash, she descended the ramp into the dimly lit tunnel. As her eyes adjusted to the light, she could see the cub not far down the ramp waiting for her to come into view. It turned to move away again when a rat the same size as the cub dashed past and the cub hissed and leapt after it. Hoping to take advantage of the rat as a distraction, Anee tried to sneak up on the cub, still intent on picking it up to take it back above to safety. At first, the cub seemed unaware of Anee’s presence as it furiously chased the rodent. The rat leapt into a portal, not unlike the ones that could be accessed throughout the Underbelly by those in the know. This portal was in an odd place though, not one of the usual. The cub leapt in after the rat, then just a few moments later, emerged again and sat down just outside the portal. It stared around briefly before settling back to lick at one of its haunches. Anee blinked at the cub. "You're a feisty little thing, aren't you?" she murmured as she slowly moved closer to it. "Let's get you out of here, okay? I'll get you some food? Warm milk?" As she started to get closer, she bent down, reaching her free hand towards it, her other hand--the one with the missing pinky--was still behind her back holding the pup's leash. The cub seemed not to notice as she moved, then just as her hand touched its fur, it leapt backward with a yowl, its body twisting in apparent panic as it fell back into the portal. This time, it didn’t re-emerge. The girl gasped and drew her hand back, then stared with wide eyes at the portal. "Kitty?" she called toward the portal. "Kitty come back!" She frowned at the portal, having no idea where it went. It showed no indication where it may lead, only swirling around darkness at its center. She looked down at her pet, as if the pup had any answers. "Maybe he lives in there?" Anee bit gently at her bottom lip, looking indecisively between the portal and her pup for several minutes. "Do you think he went home? Or maybe that goes down to the demons...." She tilted her head from side to side, her curiosity growing as well as concern for the cute little cub. It hadn’t seemed happy about going in the portal that last time. Finally, after several minutes, she picked up the pup, and, holding him close against her, she stepped through the portal, stopping immediately on the other side to look at her new surroundings. As Anee stepped inside the portal, the floor shifted slightly beneath her feet. Wherever she ended up, it was pitch black. There was nothing to see. Just as she considered stepping back the way she came, the cub's violet shimmer appeared in the darkness in front of her, though it was difficult to tell how far away. The portal behind her swirled to a point and disappeared with a sound of sucking air. She turned, blindly reaching out with her free hand as she clutched her pup close to her with the other. “No, wait!” A whimper escaped her as she waved her hand a few more times in search of the portal. She looked back toward where she had seen the panther cub and now saw a pair of glowing green eyes floating in the darkness just above the cub’s shifting violet movements. “Welcome, Anee,” a man’s voice said. Anee clutched the pup tighter against her, ignoring his squirms of protest. “Who….who are you?” she asked in shaky voice. She heard a snapping sound, as of someone’s fingers, and an ornate lamp on a small table suddenly illuminated the entire room. The room looked much like the one that housed the Underbelly’s black market—slats of wood resting on top of water—but there were no crates or barrels or obvious exits, just solid stone walls on every side. Across from Anee, sitting on an out-of-place plush but ragged high backed chair beside the lamp’s small table, was a blood elf with long copper hair dressed in plain robes and a Grim tabard. On his lap, the panther cub was curled up. Qabian absently stroked the cub’s head with one hand, the other raised but relaxed. “Do you recognize me now?” he asked. After looking around and failing to find an exit, Anee turned her frightened gaze to the elf. Her gaze paused on his tabard, and then she slowly looked up at his face, looking at him blankly for a moment before frowning and looking away again. “What do you want with me?” she asked quietly in a shaky voice, ignoring his question. Qabian smiled slightly. It wasn’t quite a smirk, but something about it was off, unpleasant. “Answers to a few questions. You don’t mind, do you?” His Common had an accent, light, lilting, but he showed no discomfort with the words. He glanced down at the floor. “Can you swim?” Anee didn’t bother answering the first question, quite certain he would ask his question whether she minded or not, but at his second question, she looked back at him in alarm then looked at the floor. “Yes…” “Then you’ll be fine,” he said, but somehow the statement didn’t come across as particularly reassuring. The fingers of his free hand moved as though he were flipping a coin over his knuckles, but there was no coin there, only a small flicker of flame, like that of a candle. “Tell me, do you consider yourself an honest person?” Anee watched the flame with growing concern. Was it meant to hypnotize her? Was it a display of power meant to frighten her? She looked away before answering his question. Of course, she was not an honest person, what kind of question was that? “Yes,” she said quietly and caught her bottom lip between her teeth again. The pup was growing heavy in her arms and she shifted him around a bit. Qabian narrowed his eyes, as though suddenly noticing her pet. The panther cub in his lap lifted its head. “You brought a friend. How awkward.” The blood elf’s arm shifted, palm facing outward. The flickering across his fingers encompassed his whole hand in fire, but he lowered his arm and the flame dissipated before anything untoward happened. “Nevermind. Assume I know nothing about you. Tell me about your family.” She blinked and tilted her head at him, surprised by the question. “My family?” she started hesitantly. “I…I don’t have a family. They were killed. By Forsaken.” She stuck to the same story she had so recently told another mage. It was mostly true. “An orphan, hm?” The mage settled back in his chair, flicking fire across the back of his hand again. “Then we have something in common. How long ago? Do you remember them?” “Umm….many years ago… I remember a little about them,” she said in a distracted manner before repeating her earlier question. “Please sir, what do you want with me?” “I already told you. Answers. Are you afraid?” “Yes,” she whispered. “Why?” He steepled his fingers, and one of his elbows ended up on the cub’s head. It didn’t seem to notice or care. She glanced at his tabard, thinking that should be obvious, then looked away quickly again. “Because…I don’t see any way out of here, and I don’t know why you want me here. I mean, I don’t know what answers I could possibly have that would interest someone like you.” “And you don’t trust me when I say you’ll be fine.” He smirked and stroked the cub’s head again. “Why did you come here?” A fleeting glimpse of hope crossed her expression when he said she’ll be fine, but it was gone just as quickly. Hope, she knew, was dangerous. She nodded toward the cub in his lap. “I saw him wandering around the streets. He seemed hungry, and I was worried he was lost. So I followed him.” “Do you want him?” “I….the cub?” She blinked, surprised again as she looked at the cub. “But I thought.. Isn’t he yours? I mean….when I saw him in your lap, I assumed…” “He thinks he’s mine.” Qabian shrugged. “Answer my questions, and he’s yours.” “Okay….” She agreed, but he voice was still heavy with uncertainty. He put a hand back on the cub’s head. The cub kept staring at Anee. “Where were we? Ah, yes. What do you remember about your family?” "Well, umm....". She fidgeted at the topic, but she squinted her eyes a bit as she thought back. "My pa was....a drunk, and my ma was nice and very quiet, and my little sister was....always under foot." She chewed on her bottom lip yet again, watching the cub the whole time. "Lordaeron?" She gave him a startled look, wondering how he knew that, but after a brief consideration, she decided it doesn't matter, and she nodded. "Orphans, we make our own families, hm? Who are your family now?" Anee seemed to stiffen at the question, and tilted her head down, looking at the pup in her arms. Everything inside her warned her not to tell him about her roommate. "I...I....I just have ....Buster now, sir," she stammered, her gaze fixed on the little pug. Qabian raised an eyebrow. "A dog? I don't think so. You live alone?" Without lifting her gaze from the pup’s tawny head, she nodded. "Do you have friends? A guild, perhaps?" "Twilight Empire," she said shakily. "That's the guild I'm in." "Ah. That's better. And I suppose some of them treat you like family, yes?" "I...I don't go to the meetings... I signed up to be an Ambassador, but.....I never got any assignments...." "You have no friends among them? They're all strangers to you?" "I know....some of them....faces and names, but....no friends, no..." Qabian's expression turned to disappointment. "That seems highly unlikely. You have no one you confide in? No one you share secrets with?" "Umm....I talk to....the Cardman.... I mean, Tuuroto sometimes. He's very nice." "Hmm." Qabian tapped his fingers on the panther cub's head as he thinks. The cub finally turned its stare from Anee to the blood elf. "How old are you?" "Twenty." She fidgeted some more at all the questions, her gaze slowly beginning to roam around the room again. Qabian's tone turned suspicious. "And your family died years ago, but you have no friends. What have you been doing all this time? Do you want a family?" "No...." she said in response to the last question, cringing a bit at his tone. "I didn't much care for the family I had. I have no wish for another one." "Well." He continued tapping the panther cub's head. It continued to glare at him. It finally nipped at his fingers and Qabian stopped, though he didn't otherwise acknowledge the creature. "That makes everything much more difficult. It's unusual, don't you think?" Her brow furrowed at his words, strengthening her suspicion that he was asking about her friends and family to look for targets to hurt. She glanced at him briefly before looking away again. "What is unusual?" "Not wanting a family." He gestured as he spoke, talking with his hands. "Most people are obsessed with family, either finding one, or starting one, or protecting one, or avenging one. But not you. You're all alone and planning to stay that way." She said nothing at first, just stood there, nibbling on her lip and expecting fire to come shooting at her any second from those moving hands. Then, somehow, she seemed to find enough courage to look him in the face and ask a question of her own. "Do you have a family, sir?" He grinned wickedly. "No. You and I unfortunately have even more in common than I thought at the start. One more question. Then I'll show you the way out. For now." She felt hope again, still tentative, but harder to push back down this time, even as she caught the hint that they might meet again after this. She nodded slowly to him, as if bracing herself for the final question. Qabian stood up from his ragged old chair, hefting the panther cub under one arm. "Your father's name. In full. If you would." Again, the hope vanished as quickly as it came. Her breath quickened as she took a moment before answering, looking around the area again. "It....his name....is Jonas. Jonas Hughes." So much for being an honest person. Jonas Hughes was not her father, he was her boss at the pub where she worked in Andorhal a long time ago. There was only the slightest of chances that Qabian would have recognized her real last name if she had told the truth, but she wasn’t willing to take even that small chance of him realizing who she was, not unless she thought it could be used to her advantage. Qabian nodded. "All right then." With his free arm, he conjured a portal behind him. A vague city is visible within it, but he stood between her and the portal. "This portal leads back to Dalaran. If you don't trust it, which is understandable, there's a pipe in the water below us that leads back into the Underbelly. Easy enough to swim, but far more dangerous." He held out the panther cub towards her. The creature seemed perfectly calm about its situation now that it was no longer being continually tapped on the head. "You'll need to be careful with him." With uncertainty still clear upon her face, she set the puppy down at her feet, looping the leash over her wrist. As she moved closer to Qabian, she reached tentatively for the cub, glancing between the portal and the elf. Qabian grinned horribly as he dropped the panther cub into her arms. "He's a bit of a fire hazard," he said. With that, he ran his hand over the cub's back and the animal burst into flames. The cub appeared completely unfazed by this, but Anee screamed and jumped back, dropping the burning cat. Qabian himself stepped back through the portal behind him and vanished. Anee looked from the burning cub to the portal, bending down to scoop up the pup again before hurrying through the portal into the image of the city beyond. The cub just sat there. On fire. And watched her leave. The portal went back to Dalaran, just as Qabian said it would, but on the other side, the mage was nowhere to be found.
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  6. Looks like we're headed to NOLA for 2018!
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  7. ((Straight up murder)) After two meals of bread and water, evening and morning, the blood elf accustomed to seafood and arcwine knew his strength was going to wane and he needed to set his scheme in motion quickly. Not to mention he had no idea how long he had before Cavanaugh arrived with a noose in hand. Qabian leaned against the bars of the cell, watching pairs of guards patrol through the hallway. He smirked slowly as his target finally came into view. As the pair walked past, Qabian banged on the bars. “Richards,” Qabian hissed. One of the guards jerked his head around to glare at Qabian, then came over and kicked the bars Qabian was leaning on. “Did I give you permission to talk to me, blood elf.” Qabian raised his hands, palms out. “Apologies. Thought you wanted to know about your daughter.” The guard reached through the bars and dragged Qabian up by the front of his ragged tunic. “Don’t you start with me. Everyone in here’s hoping you have an accident and end up dead.” “Quel’thalas,” Qabian whispered, their noses nearly touching. “I know who has her, and if I die, so does she.” Qabian wrapped his fingers tightly around the guard’s wrist. “We make a deal. Then I tell you how to find her. Then you kill me all you like.” Richards hesitated. Qabian grinned as he read the man’s thoughts on his face. Here he was, holding in his own hands the person who likely caused him the most pain he’d ever experienced, but if he took his revenge, he risked losing everything when he was on the very cusp of gaining it all back. He yanked Qabian forward, causing the mage’s face to slam against the bars and the hood slip back off his head, but Richards asked quietly, “What do you want?” Qabian gingerly touched his already bruised cheekbone, then sighed. “Needle and thread. For this.” He tapped the guard’s fist where it was tearing the thin fabric of the tunic. “And,” Qabian glanced over his shoulder at his larger, still unconscious but once again snoring cellmate. “A private cell. After last night, hm? That’s all. Nothing to cause alarm. Nothing to lose your job. Hm? In return, your daughter.” “Fine. I’ll be back in an hour,” Richards said, keeping his voice low. He tossed the blood elf back to the floor, with a loud, “You’re going to hang, blood elf.” “Can’t wait,” Qabian muttered, pulling his hood back up over his face, hoping he still had a few bones intact by the time it was over. In a dank, windowless cell, it was impossible to tell exactly how long the guard took to return, but he did. He unlocked Qabian’s cell and beckoned to him with one hand. Qabian lifted his hood briefly to wink at Boy, then followed Richards quietly. As they walked away, Boy’s gaze turned apprehensively on the snoring man lying on the other side of the cell. Richards led Qabian around the corner to a darker, much smaller cell at the end of the row and pushed the blood elf roughly inside. “Now tell me where she is,” the guard said, his tone angry. Qabian held out an open palm. “Needle.” Richards slapped the requested item into Qabian’s hand, then shoved him back against the wall. “Tell me!” Qabian took the shove in stride, and lifted a finger to his lips. “Shh. You don’t want others hearing what I have to say. Come closer.” Richards took a cautious step forward, as did Qabian, leaning in as though to whisper, before finally taking the opportunity he’d so carefully conjured. Qabian sidestepped the guard and spun around behind him, bringing an arm across the guard’s face and yanking backward, while the other hand tore the ring of keys out of the surprised man's grip. One of the long iron keys in his fist, Qabian drove the metal instrument inward and upward into the guard’s eye socket. The man howled and struggled, but his screams were muffled by Qabian’s arm across his mouth, and the elf put a knee to the man’s back to keep him in place as he repeatedly slammed the key as far as he could get it to go inside the man’s head. The guard bit down on Qabian’s arm, but the elf’s only reaction was a hiss of pain. He’d been prepared for that much. The struggle was over quickly. Qabian let the guard’s body slide to the ground while he twisted the keyring to extricate his makeshift weapon from the man’s eye socket. Blood dripped down Qabian’s arm from the bite wound. His torn tunic was stained brilliant red with both his own blood and that of his victim. “I buried her shallow six months ago, idiot,” Qabian said quietly, turning the twitching corpse over roughly with one foot before turning away. Qabian looked out into the hall to assess the situation. Nothing seemed out of place. He carefully watched the guard patrols for his chance, then dashed back to the previous cell, holding his wounded arm close to his chest. Boy stared with wide eyes at the bloodied elf as Qabian staggered with multiple gory keys before successfully unlocking the cell door. Qabian quietly closed the door behind him, leaving it unlocked, then rushed to the back corner of the cell, grabbing Boy by the shoulder. The elf held out the needle in his palm. “You need to do this. Now,” he hissed. The pair crouched conspiratorially with their backs to the bars. They had until someone noticed the missing guard, the trail of blood drops in the hall, or the fact that the cell door was slightly ajar. Boy took hold of the needle and the slim gold band around Qabian’s wrist and went to work manipulating the tiny locking mechanism. Boy worked in silence for what felt like eternity when strange noises began to echo through the halls behind them. “Shh,” Qabian whispered. “There is no one else here. There is just you and the lock. Nothing else exists. Just you. And the lock.” The sounds of the guards congregating in the hallway got louder. Boy began to whimper. “Shh,” Qabian said as soothingly as he could. Boy’s hands began to shake. A loud cracking sound echoed suddenly through the cell. The gold band shattered and a layer of frost began to spread out across the floor and walls of the cell from where Boy’s feet touched the floor. Qabian raised an eyebrow, rubbing at his finally freed wrist. “You’re a mage?” Boy was just staring at his own hands. “N-no. Didn’t you do that?” Qabian shook his head. The crawling frost reached their snoring companion and he stirred in his sleep. Without hesitation, Qabian gestured and the large man shrieked as he burst into flames. Qabian grabbed Boy’s hand. “We have to go. Now.” The boy didn’t have a chance to respond before Qabian dragged him into the hall where an approaching guard suddenly found herself clopping around on four porcine hooves. Qabian tossed the ring of keys into the nearest cell he passed, where its occupants were standing at the bars, curiously trying to decipher the commotion. Qabian gave them a lazy salute and received hoots and hollars in return as they dove for the ring of keys. Qabian and Boy dashed for the stairs, sowing fire and chaos ahead, the gangly teenager desperately trying not to trip over his own feet behind. By the time they finally escaped the Stockade itself, the crowd of guards collecting behind them was distracted by more and more prisoners escaping their cells. Qabian ran out into the city, locking the ankles of the guards at the door to the cobblestones with a blast of ice. “Is it true,” Boy asked, finding a moment to catch his breath as they ran. “What?” Qabian said, annoyed. “Did you kill the matron at the orphanage?” “What?” Qabian demanded again, jerking the boy towards him. “The guards... I heard them saying...” Qabian spun around a corner into an alley. “Does it matter?" he hissed. "I got you out of there, didn't I? Do you want me to teach you how to use that magic you didn’t know you had, or not?” Boy stared at Qabian’s blood-smeared face. “Y-yes?” “Here.” Qabian held out his hand, palm up. A long dagger of an icicle quickly took shape there. As Boy reached out to take the ice, Qabian closed his fist around it and slammed the sharp point into the boy’s chest. “Don’t,” the mage said, emotionless. The boy stared down in surprise at the blood spreading across his own shirt, then toppled forward. “There's your lesson,” Qabian said as he stepped over the body into the space between realities, teleporting away.
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  8. 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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  9. My debacle in Stormwind is far from over, but I regret none of it. I got what I wanted, suffered some, but that was a small price paid after the fact. Dalaran is not a city built on morality. It will forget sooner than later, especially once those who think they have power have their assumptions forcefully corrected. The best way to do that is still in question. There are delightful but improbable possibilities, and there have been brilliant but risky missed opportunities. We will see. Syreena's little project did not unfold as I expected. People are usually predictable. I interviewed more than enough in the past to see that. My absence should not have changed that. No one whose notable qualities are being afraid of the dark and finding appeal in cute animals is also a sensible person. Either the victim had the good sense and skill to lie thoroughly and consistently, or she's severely abnormal. I suspect she may be a combination of the two. If there were lies beyond the one I uncovered, they were set well in advance of our conversation. If those were not lies, then she seems nevertheless to be not at all what she implies. Stole something, did she? I said I wouldn't ask. Did I? I at least implied I wouldn't ask. But something about the target is... off. Not quite right. Still, I am confident I will be able to make her life miserable. Now it is simply a question of time and degree. Then there's the boy. That's definitely getting out of hand, will get far more out of hand, no doubt, but may yet be useful, perhaps even hilarious, especially if I can bring it around to the Kirin Tor. That seems tenuous at best, but I'll see it out. All of this feels oddly familiar. Fingers in too many pies seems like a phrase I recall. The Grim eye the Tomb along with everyone else. The future invokes strange and wondrous things. When was the future last anything but cyclical? When was time last anything but fragments? I am strangely intrigued to see what the days to come will hold.
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  10. 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.
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  11. 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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  12. 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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  13. 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.
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  14. Qabian chose to go immediately to Suramar for healing, not because they were particularly notable for their skills, but because among his circle of influence there, he had access to ley-infused aromatic baths. While the healers had taken as good care of him as could be expected, bleeding staunched, bruises reduced to mild discolorations, he found himself continually touching or staring at his arm where a slight and fading scar of the bite he’d taken remained. Fragments of memories taunted him from a time when fear of something much worse than a simple physical disease had plagued his every breath. He stepped into the water and let the arcane essence provide comfort and rejuvenation like he had never found anywhere else. He hadn’t been without magic particularly long this time, but there was no worse feeling. The loss of magic was at the core of Qabian’s deepest fears. He would rather suffer a thousand bites than wear that band again. The bath was the perfect remedy, a resolution to old longings for the horizon. As he relaxed more and more into the water, he let himself slip completely beneath the surface. The pain and fear of the recent ordeal drifted away, leaving a pure, unadulterated rage tensing through his core as he held his breath. Curiously, it wasn’t Cavanaugh bearing the brunt of Qabian’s anger. Cavanaugh only did exactly what Qabian might have expected him to do, like an animal with no will of its own simply following its instincts. Qabian had taken the risk of being caught at the orphanage and willingly suffered the consequences for that. Redgrave, on the other hand, was going to pay the price for her betrayal. She should have been Kirin Tor first, then Dalaran, then human. Instead, she reversed the order, and when everything else about the situation washed away, Qabian focused on that betrayal with pinpoint clarity. She would have to be dealt with. When holding his breath finally edged into pain, Qabian broke the surface of the water to taste the sweet, magic-tinged air. He leaned back against the edge of the bath, his thoughts churning as he planned to make sure the traitor was dealt with as effectively as possible. Hours later, Qabian found himself back in his Dalaran apartment gathering up his belongings. He hadn't had time to accumulate that much in the months since the bronze, and the most important had already been lost to the hands of the Alliance. He selected a set of plain robes almost too remarkable for their plainness. He would keep the place paid and furnished but without occupant for the near future. Though it would no doubt be watched for a time by Stormwind supporters once news spread, Qabian felt fairly certain any backlash would die quickly. No matter what ostentatious villainy he chose to commit, there were far too many in the Kirin Tor who owed him favors. He would be back. The black panther cub that shared his residence spun around his ankles. Qabian planned to leave it behind. Again. He had no doubt it would manage to follow him anyway. The mage stood with a single packed bag and stared down at his hand. He had to make a choice: Tirisfal or Quel’thalas. It was harder than it should have been, but there were reasons not to want to go to either. He held his breath a moment, then decided on the riskier but less aesthetically vile option. The panther cub sat staring at the empty space where the mage had been a moment ago.
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  15. After stepping through the portal back into Dalaran, Anee quickly wiped her daggers off on her leggings and returned them to their hiding places in her boots. Daerek also stepped through the portal and moved away from it, towards Anee--but not too close. "Are you alright?" he asked, looking between her and the portal. He hoped the old man dove through soon. The man walked through the portal a few minutes after Daerek. He looked between the two, composed as if he'd fought demons multiple times and often. "Are you two alright? I am able to heal wounds if need be." "I'm okay," Daerek said, taking his eyes off Anee and looking at the aged man with palpable relief. "She tackled a hound and got thrown, though." "I'm fine," Anee insisted quietly. "Thank you for your help, sir." The young man looked shaken, perhaps for a little more than just having missed chowtime with the two of them as the main course, but he bowed to the older man with a steady frame. Anee looked at Daerek and frowned. "You don't look well. Are you okay?" "I'm fine." If the words were a little sharp, Daerek didn't seem to notice in his spooked state. "Thank you." The kind stranger looked between the two, trying to decide if they were just playing fine. After a moment, he decided it was none of his business. "If you two are sure." For all of his apparent anxiety, Daerek was physically okay. "Yes, sir. Thank you. Are you alright?" The man nodded, "Nothing I couldn't handle." He chuckled softly, as if a thought came to him that amused him. "Though, the portal was a good help." Daerek offered a smile. It was quick, though, and his face soon went back to forced neutrality. His breathing maybe came a bit fast, but nothing that would have been incredibly unusual for the circumstances. "It was the least I could do." The man shook his head with a bemused smile, "You know, you two remind me of my adopted daughter,” he said, maybe catching that Daerek wasn't as good as he pretended. Daerek didn’t know quite how to take that, so he just offered a smile instead. "We should be going. But please find me later if there's anything I can do to repay what you've done for us. My name is Daerek Smythe." The man nodded. "Same goes to you as well lad, I'm Mervic Ducharm. Any of the Silver Hand know how to track me down if it is needed." "I'm Anee," she said simply. She fidgeted, picking up on Daerek's mood. Daerek bowed again. "Thank you, sir. Please be safe." He turned to Anee and offered her a smile. Despite whatever was going on in his head, there was still warmth there. He motioned for her to precede him out of the portal room. She smiled back, then stepped out into the street and turned for their apartment. Daerek kept to her side as they walked, sometimes a pace behind her. Something was still bothering him, but whatever it was, he kept it to himself. "We can still stop by a dessert shop if you'd like," he offered quietly, glancing down at her with a small smile. He was making an effort at appearing fine for her sake, and it showed. She stopped and turned to him, searching his face and trying to read him to predict what answer he wanted. "Um..sure, if you still want to." When Daerek wanted to keep something from his face, he was pretty good at it. This was one of those times—there was no telling what he wanted. "I did offer," he said with a small smile. "But only if you're feeling up to it. You took a hard fall." She nodded. "Okay. Um, I mean, if I look okay for it." She brushed some dirt off her pants and then reached up to smooth her hair. His smile warmed a bit more. "You look just fine. Like an adventurer with a sweet tooth, at worst." The young mage didn’t seem to care what he looked like, and looked around to orient himself. After a moment, he set off towards the nearest dessert vendor. She nodded to him, and followed him to the vendor. "Are you sure you're okay?" "I'm fine," he repeated. It was a little less sharp this time; he was getting himself more under control. "Are you?" She nodded again. "Just some bruises. Probably be sore tomorrow. Nothing serious." "I have some salve for that in the medicine cabinet. You're welcome to as much of it as you need. It's pretty easy to make." "Okay, thanks. Maybe I'll give it a try." He smiled down at her again and led them towards the sweets vendor by the bank. "She has the best cupcakes," he whispered, a hint of his earlier happy boyishness peeking through. "Get anything you want." He greeted the proprietor with a wide, easy (and ultimately forced, not that the vendor knows) smile, immediately perusing her selections. Anee smiled back, relaxing a bit now that he seemed to be in a better mood again. They both ordered strawberry cupcakes, which Daerek paid for. "Thank you," she said with an easy smile for him as she took the cupcake. "They have good cheesecake here too. Want to sit down?" "Sure," he said, already unwrapping the confection. "Good cheesecake, hm? I'll remember that, too. I like the kind with the cherry topping." He settled himself on the bench, leaving plenty of room for Anee to sit down wherever she chooses. She sat next to him, and they talked about desserts as they ate their cupcakes. Daerek still didn’t look at her for long periods of time, but his conversation and even occasional laughter put Anee at ease again with her roommate. "When's your birthday?" Daerek asked when their conversation turned to her favorite kind of cake. Anee blinked a few times. "Umm...," she started uncertainly, then she grinned suddenly. "Why? Are you going to get me a chocolate birthday cake with white icing?" "Why would I get you one when I can make one?" "Ooh, you can make cake? Is it good?" He just laughed. "You'll have to wait and see." She mock pouted, then laughed. "Aw, okay. When is your birthday?" "Hey now, how's that fair? You didn't tell me yours." He glanced down to her with a quick smirk and then looked away again. "Guess you don't want cake." "If I tell you mine, you'll tell me yours?" He grinned, still looking out over the square. What were they, five? But the easy give-and-take comforted him. "Sure." "June 25," she said with only the tiniest hesitation between the month and the date. "When is yours?" "Back in April. The 8th." He seemed more focused on considering the time between now and June 25th than anything. "Hm," she muttered, then frowned. "But that's already past, and I didn't know. I'll get you a present to make up for it." This made him look at her again, faint shock open on his face. "You don't have to do that. I didn't even remember it myself." Now she looked shocked. "You didn't remember your own birthday?" He shrugged. "I was busy." She frowned at him, obviously thinking. Then a mischievous glint came into her eye. She stuck her fingers in the frosting of her cupcake, then reached out to put it on Daerek’s nose. The motion was so utterly unexpected that Daerek didn’t register what had happened until he was bedecked with sweet-smelling icing. He blinked down at his nose, cross-eyed, and then looked back up at Anee with sheer flabbergastment. Maybe it was genuine, maybe it was a ruse, or maybe it was both, because while she was distracted by his confusion, he was swiping some of his own icing with the intent of smearing it on her nose. She was giggling too hard at the look on his face to notice. His aim was off though, and Anee ended up with a frosted cheek, which only makes her laugh harder as she tried to wipe her face clean with her hand. Daerek grinned, and Anee' s laughter proved infectious as he swiped the frosting off his nose and popped it into his mouth. "That's a good look on you," he teased, but the words were broken up through his laughter. Following suit, she licked her own fingers off and grinned at him. "You too! Cupcakes: snack and fashion accessory all in one!" He snickered and ate the remaining bit of his cupcake. "My new favorite trend." "Oh, maybe we will start a trend. We might become famous." "And rich." He grinned. "Lap of luxury." "Ooh, yeah," she agreed with a big dreamy grin. "We could get a diamond collar for Ber, and even get him a girlfriend. Maybe a fancy little fluffy dog." Something subtle in Daerek's expression shifted as she mistakenly called Buster by a different name, but his smile didn't go away. "And all the chocolate cake and peach cobbler we want." "Yeah, and you wouldn't have to tire yourself out with so much work." He snorts. "Me? Not work? Nah. I think I'll still work even if I were as rich as the King himself. I enjoy it." "But you could set your own hours then, and not work for people like that lady in the Stormwind shop who yelled at you." It took Daerek a moment to remember what she was talking about. "Oh! No, no, she's not normally like that!" he hurried to say. "Her shipment was really late and she depends on that to help keep her shop running and her kids fed. She had every right to be angry. She was worried." Even now, the tongue-lashing he got didn't seem to bother him. "Oh." She seems to consider that as she wipes the rest of the frosting off her cheek, using her nail to assist with the parts that were drying there by now. "Well, she still shouldn't have been so mean to you." He shrugged a little, still smiling. "It's not a big deal, really." The turn of topic seemed to make him a bit sheepish, as though he wasn't sure how to take the mild fussing on his behalf. "Even good people get frustrated and need somebody to vent at," he said a moment later. "It doesn't hurt me to be that person if it makes them feel better when they need it." She smiled at him, a small smile, for a moment, then looked out in front of them. "You shouldn't be so nice all the time. People will take advantage of you." He kept watching her for a few moments after she turned away. Something shifted in his expression again before he looked out in front of them too. "I know," he said quietly. The smile lessened a little, but it was still there. "I've heard that before. And I'm sure I'll hear it again." Her head tilted to the side as she looked back at him curiously. "Doesn't that bother you?" He didn't look at her. "Sometimes, I guess." She fidgeted and looked away again, quiet for a brief moment before speaking again. "Then why do you still act so nice to them?" He didn't need to think about this answer at all. "Because what if, someday, somebody actually needs it? What if they aren't just using me? There's too many people who assume the worst of everyone and act on it. That's just...not me." She fidgeted again, considering where she might be right now if he hadn't been so nice to her all those months ago. She looked at him from the corner of her eye, not directly and gently touched his leg. "I'm glad you're nice," she said softly, withdrawing her hand again. Daerek didn’t flinch or tense up when she touched him this time. Instead, he just gave her a little quirked side smile. "Me too," he said quietly. "What do you say we head back? It's been a long night. And I'm sure Buster can smell the turtle from here." "Okay, but first....what do you want for your birthday?" He couldn’t help it. Laughter burst from his throat, and he turned an incredulous look on her. "How about we call it even with those alchemy knives you snagged for me?" He grinned. She blinked at him, looking worried that he might know she actually snagged them rather than bought them properly, but then she smiled as she decided it was just a phrase. "Okay, sure," she said as if she agreed with that. That worried look was another thing that got filed away. "Cool," he said. "So don't worry about it." The mage rose and offered his hand to help her up. It seemed to be out of reflex even though they're just sitting on a bench. Anee smiled at him, placing her hand in his as she stood. She did not let go of his hand; he didn’t seem to notice. "I bet Buster will love your turtle dish." "I'm pretty sure Buster loves basically anything," he joked with a snort. "At least he hasn't learned how to get into the cabinets yet." He glances to Anee with an eyebrow lifted in question. "...has he?" Giggling at his comments about Buster, she shook her head. "No, he's not the smart. If he ever does though, we'll put all the food in the upper cabinets. Then he'll have to learn how to use a step ladder." "I still think we could probably teach him tricks and put on a show. You got to admit, Buster the Flying Bamboozler is a great stage name." He lifted his free hand in the air and mimed the air currents that Buster would theoretically glide upon if they taught him to fly. From there, the two engaged in another day dream of becoming rich and famous, this time from a talented dog. Anee became overtaken by a fit of giggles that left her in tears, creating tracks through the dried frosting on her cheek. Their carrying on drew the unwanted attention of a Kirin Tor Guardian, who Daerek assured they were just joking and were moving along. They talked and laughed all the way back to the apartment building, where Anee apologized for being so silly and unable to stop laughing. "No, don't apologize," he says with a chuckle, lowering their hands. "It's nice to laugh so much.” She smiled at him, still making no move to release his hand. "Yeah, it's been a long time since I laughed like that. Later, I won't know if my sides hurt from falling off a dying demon or from laughing so hard. I think I'll believe it's from laughing." He snorted a laugh, trying to cover the brief flicker of panic at the reminder of the night's events. "That's probably for the best. The salve still stands, though." He started up the stairs to their floor, going slow enough that she could keep up with him and still hold his hand. She gave his hand a little squeeze when she saw his panic. He squeezed hers back. "Thanks. I think I'll probably be okay without it though. It's just a few bruises, nothing serious." Finally letting go of his hand, she opened the door. Buster was right there waiting for them, his tail wiggling his whole butt in his excitement to see them. His nose twitched, and he went to Daerek, sniffing him eagerly. Daerek laughed and croucheed down in front of Buster, running his hands all over the pup with pets and scritches. "Hey, buddy! Who's a good boy? Is it you? Aw, it's totally you! You smell that turtle, don't you? Can you sit?" Buster somehow managed to lower his wiggling bottom to the floor long enough to imitate a sit. "Aww, yes, such a good boy! Okay, hang on, hang on..." Daerek held his hand out to try and keep Buster from jumping him as soon as he pulled out the little wrapped package of turtle. He shook the napkin free of the few morsels and then extended them in his palm to Buster. He was quite taken with the little guy. Anee laughed. "I should probably take him for a walk after he's had his snack." She turned for the kitchen. "Do you want a drink?" "Um...s--" He glanced around the visible space of the apartment, and his expression tightened a bit. His earlier panic flickered in his face again, but he was quick to shove it down with a smile. "No, I--I've got a few things I should take care of before it gets too much later. Th-thank you, though." Anee leaned in the doorway between the kitchen and living room, smiling softly as she watched Buster gobble up the bits of meat from Daerek's hand. The smile faded though when Daerek answered her, and she peered at him. "Okay.... Are you okay?" "Yeah, I'm fine! I just--" He floundered for a moment, still petting Buster but slowing his motions. "I...um. I do have some things I need to--and...closed spaces?" he trailed off, indicating the apartment with his free hand. It was best to let some of the truth show, he figured, and hoped that she'd understand that part of it without him having to explain further. "Okay...." She didn't know exactly what he meant by indicating the apartment, but she figured he was still shaken from their encounter with the demons earlier, so she didn’t question him. Instead, she just smiled to him. "I'll see you later then." He smiled back, gratefulness flooding his expression. He roughed up the dog with some more pets before standing. "Yeah. Take it easy, okay?" He shot her another smile and stepped out the door, shutting it softly. On the other side, out of eyesight of anybody--especially Anee--the kid looked like he was about to have a full-blown panic attack right then and there. He walked away as quickly as he could without running.
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  16. Smiling as he walked into the cathedral of Light the Paladin slowly walked toward the altar, glancing about at the rather empty building, only a few members of the clergy were gathered about, hastily preparing for something, an upcoming service perhaps, a visit from the King... it didn't matter to Cavanaugh, they didn't notice him and he didn't much feel like any interaction. Kneeling before the altar at the base of the steps he removed a small locket from his satchel and pressed it to his lips slowly as he recited a family prayer in a hushed tone that was only audible to the Knight. After a few moments, he moved the locket from his lips and opened briefly and a warm smile spread across his, before he snapped it shut and returned the ornate necklace to its place in his pouch, rising to his feet and straightening out his tabard as he made his way to a meeting with Brother Crowley. Going over a report with the Scarlet priest, he was hardly engaged, but courteous, his mind was wandering to the prisoner that he had brought to the Stockade, 'What sort of trial is required? What if it was required that the children be brought before the Magistrate? That could put them in danger... would his testimony alone be enough?' He knew that he was no longer held in favor by the King's court, and his resignation from both the Military and the Silver Hand was not looked upon favorably by the faithless and weak. "My lord!" A deep voice echoed through the stone walls of the cathedral's basement, a warrior and escort of the Scarlet Crusader burst into the room with as much flair as you might expect from a ham fisted soldier of the Crusade, "The mage... he- he has escaped!" trying to catch his breath as he gave the information to Sir Cavanaugh, "Somehow he was able to escape, he removed the bracelet, his cell mate was killed, some guards... perhaps others!" The Paladin slowly looked up from the parchment before him, and a look of boredom was replaced by a furrowed brow and a scowl that hardly masked the fury that was building within the Paladin as he was given the new. "WHAT?!" he bellowed, as he quickly stood, slamming his gauntlet down on the table, his chair flying back and making a loud thud against the wall as it toppled on its side to the ground. Looking at his escorts the Paladin nodded, and beckoned to the door. "To the Stockades... now! Crowley... this will have to wait!" the small troupe marching to the door, Brother Crowley bowing his head as he watched the Knight make haste to the door. Leading the way and walking with an almost possessed pace the troupe made its way toward the stockades, the warrior taking to his mount and riding ahead, advising the commoners who remained in the city to make way, out of courtesy to the Crusaders and the populace, it was unlikely that they would have hesitated in trampling any citizens who were caught off guard by their march. As they arrived at the Stockades Cavanaugh looked about, ordering two of his men to remain outside he marched past the sentry set up to prevent entry and his heart seemed to go into his throat as he surveyed the bloody scene the greeted him in the hallways of the Stockades. One of the guards recounted what had happened to Sir Cavanaugh and he listened intently, containing his anger, outwardly to the Guard, almost lending a sympathetic ear as he seethed inside, 'Why would they put a savage, accused of murder, and implicated in other possible attacks just based on his organization... in a cell with a common thief, or with ANY of the general populace...at best this was incompetence, at worst collaboration...' the thoughts were streaming through his head, as he was being told the details of what had happened, hardly paying much attention once he learned all he thought was necessary. "May the Light bless you and your brothers in arms, this was not your folly, you did what you could. May the child and guards that were harmed rest peacefully..." the paladin put his hand on the soldier's shoulder, he knew the young man was not a child, but certainly this would play better... and the fire needed to be stoked. His outward calm and discipline hiding a storm that was brewing inside as he made his way to the Warden's office, nodding for his last two escorts to remain outside the door, he entered calmly and closed the door behind him, a condescending smile spread across the Paladin's face... "So was it just incompetence that allowed for this to happen? Or are you colluding with savages of the Horde now? Sending their murderers back to the front line for the 'Greater Good'?" the paladin asked in a tone that was very outwardly belittling to the Warden. "You are not going to march in here while I am dealing with a crises, Crusader, and make accusations of -me- in -my- city! We have enough to deal with then having to put up with your paranoia!" snapped the warden, his patience was at its end and he hardly had the will to deal with the aristocratic jabs the Scarlet was likely going to give him, thinking that was enough to send the Crusader on his way... he was mistaken. Nearly as soon as his eyes returned to the desk his table was thrown out of the way and Sir Cavanaugh grabbed him by the throat and raised him to eye level, his eyes lacking the clam he entered the room with, filled with fury, "-You- will indulge me you insolent wretch. If you were under my command I would have you executed for your incompetence and disrespect. You are at best a fool, and at worst a traitor. I tend to lean towards the latter." "Unhand me... you... zealous..." the Paladin tightened his grip as the man spoke, obviously more then a match for the Warden, and unconcerned with his words and cutting them off, with his breath. "Be silent, worm. I would kill you here and now if I thought you a threat... thankfully, your poor decisions will likely lead to your dismissal regardless, and hopefully your imprisonment within these very halls... and your own charges will do my work for me... and I will -SEE- that they do. As you know... our coin is not in short supply." A calm smile returned to his face as he threw the Warden into his chair, leaning down and placing his hands on the arms of the seats, his face just inches from the Warden's, "The Light have mercy on your soul." Coughing the Warden looked to the ground, rubbing his neck. He thought to call for guard, perhaps try to jail the Crusader for his assault, but he had enough trouble on his hands with this event, and he knew that even though Sir Cavanaugh had fallen out of favor, he was still needed on the front lines, there would not be anything but a slap on the wrist for what had just occurred... if any punishment was levied at all. "Get out..." he coughed out at the Knight, still catching his breath, reeling from the exchange that just occurred. The Paladin stared down at the man, for a few moments longer, a look of disgust and disdain still on his face as he made a quick about face toward the door, looking back, "You -will- pay for your incompetence." Opening the door and nodding at his men to leave. Several of the guards peeked into the room noticing the mess, but did nothing, simply nodding at the Crusaders as they made their way to streets. "Summon Odesserion, we must make our way to Dalaran, and he shall open a portal... I must speak with this... Redgrave." Cavanaugh looked about as his troupe made haste to the mage district. ------
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  17. It was hard to tell at first glance where the pair were geographically. The presence of a Legion camp just a few feet away, and a nearby Felhound sniffing about at their sudden arrival, was more or less an immediate danger. If someone were to look, though, they'd see the spires of Suramar City off in the distant west. Confusion clouded Anee’s face as she took a few steps forward and then stopped, looking around. “Daerek?” she asked softly. “I don’t think we’ll find dessert here….” Daerek paled significantly, breath coming in hushed pants and green eyes wide. Wordlessly, he grabbed Anee’s arm and took a few slow steps back towards the portal, hoping to pull them back through it to Pandaria. Too bad the portal destabilized. It was gone. “Make another one?” Even in a whisper, Anee’s voice shook. She pressed close to him, fearfully watching the nearby demons. “We’re too close,” he whispered back. “The Felhound will smell it immediately. They’ll be on us before I can finish casting.” The hand not holding onto her slowly reached for a pouch at his hip. “Eighteen seconds,” he murmured, pressing a small vial of blue-tainted liquid into her hand. “You drink it, and you run. You’ll have eighteen seconds of invisibility. They’ll smell my magic before they smell you. You drink and you run. Deliverance Point is….to the south, I think. Okay?” Shaking her head, she pushed the vial back at him. “Remember I told you I can hide from them? You use this. I’m not leaving you.” She reached down to her boot and pulled out a small dagger. “Too close for hearthstones too?” Daerek looked extremely agitated at her refusal for a moment, but he forced it down. Now was not the time to put up a fuss, and he could always break down in guilt later. “If we get far enough away… There’s magic to hearthstones too.” The Felhound stood, eyestalks swaying this way and that as it searched for the source of the magic it smelled. “It’s going to smell me anyways.” Daerek took the vial reluctantly. “But we can try. But don’t come out from hiding.” Anee eyed the Felhound, suddenly remembering something about the beasts—they like to eat magic. Wordlessly, she nodded at Daerek’s instructions and waited for him to drink the potion. He popped the cork, keeping his eyes pinned on the slowly advancing Felhound. It had their mark, but wasn’t quite sure yet. Daerek murmured a countdown from three and downed the shot of liquid. He bolted, praying that he could trust Anee to act as skillfully as she’d led him to believe she can. Anee took to the shadows as soon as Daerek disappeared, and started running in the same direction. She started counting to eighteen, planning to stop running when she reached it. Hopefully they would be near each other when his potion wore off. The Felhound, however, had finally locked onto the source of magic it smelled. Though it couldn’t see the mage, it sensed the movement. It broke into a run, passing Anee without even slowing down in its eagerness to get to the magic source. With its eyestalk tentacles waving eagerly, the beast closed in on the young mage. Anee saw it and tightened her grip on her dagger, understanding all too well what the beast’s intent was. She grabbed a small rock, about the size of an apple, and threw it at the Felhound, hitting it in the back. It stopped and turned on her, tentacles waving and saliva dripping from its mouth. Throwing the rock had pulled her from the shadows and the beast had no trouble seeing her now. She pulled her second dagger from the other boot and raised both blades in front of her as she stared at the creature. Daerek heard the hound’s eager vocalizations behind him and pushed himself to run harder. He was used to running; the additional effort wasn’t a problem for him, not yet. It was when he didn’t hear the growling beast continuing its advance that he realized something was wrong. The mage chanced a look back over his shoulder, only to see his roommate facing off with the Felhound. He stopped running and spun back around to face them, horror plain on his face. His chemically-induced invisibility wore off a moment later. Any shout he might have made died in his throat, but fire sputtered into being around his hands when he started trying to cast to help her. The Felhound, sending the magic being cast, turned back to the mage, grunting and growling eagerly. “No!” Anee shouted. She charged at the beast, launching herself at its back. Sitting on the Felhound as if it were a horse, she gripped it with her legs as it started twisting and bucking. It growled and slobbered, waving its eyestalk tentacles around wildly. Anee tightened her legs to keep her seat, and she raised both daggers before plunging them into the back of the Felhound’s neck, right at the base of the skull. The Felhound lurched a few times, sending Anee flying through the air to land on the rocky ground, before it finally fell over dead. Something in Anee’s attack shocked the mage so much that his concentration faltered and the fire in his hands disappeared entirely. If possible, he looked even more horrified than he did before—but whatever it was, he shoved It down and ran to her and the dead hound. The young mage knelt protectively over Anee. The tussle had attracted the attention of some larger, bipedal demons on the outskirts of the camp they ran past. Previously preoccupied by the sight of an armored man approaching the camp, two Felguards were pointing and shouting at Daerek and Anee now, lumbering towards them with the same intent the Felhound had. Dazed, Anee sat up slowly as Daerek neared her. Even through the fall, her hands never released their grip on her daggers, and she adjusted her grip on them now as she saw the approaching Felguards. "We need to get out of here,” she murmured. "If I distract them, can you make us a portal?" A flash of light intercepted one of the Felguards, and a few seconds later an older man charged at the demons. The man was surrounded in a pale aura of Light. He raised a shield and shortsword up to block the Felguard attacks. "You kids better run." He huffed out, "These two don't seem happy." Daerek couldn’t seem to believe their good luck at somebody armored and capable. He rose to a standing position, pulling Anee up with him. He wrapped her in his arms and muttered a quick incantation, blinking them away from the fight. Making sure she could stand on her own, he slowly released her and prepared to open a portal. Anee, also looking very relieved, looked between her roommate and the adventurer. "He looks like he can handle himself. Let's get out of here." Daerek didn’t look at her once she was standing, instead focusing on his spellcasting. After what seemed like forever (but wasn't quite even ten seconds), a brilliantly shimmering image of Dalaran appeared within the confines of the portal's swirling outline. "Go," he urged, a hand on her back to push her through the portal. A moment of doubt crossed her mind at the portal, after what happened with the last one, but she was pushed through before having time for second thoughts. Besides, what could be worse than this place? She disappeared through the portal and waited for Daerek on the other side. "Come on!" Daerek shouts over his shoulder to the armored man. He turned and started chanting another spell, this one causing an icy chill to envelope his hands. The spell would freeze the Felguards in place and allow the man to run to them "safely." The old man chanced a moment to look over his shoulder to see the portal. "Look away!" He shouted to Daerek before the Light gathered around him flared and brightened to a painful level. The demons were blinded and confused. The old man then ran towards the portal. Daerek turned his head and lifted his arm to cover his eyes. When the residual lighting from the flare died down, he chanced a peek again--and stepped aside so the armored man could have a clear shot at the portal. The old man was able to get up to the portal, but waited for Daerek to go through first. "If it closes on me, I can take more than a few hits before needing to go to safety." The young mage nodded and went through the portal. The man followed soon after, deciding not to pass up an easy way out of the fight. This portal was fine. It took them back to Dalaran as expected.
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  18. ((Bad words and violence~)) In the middle of the night, Qabian was awoken by a rough kick to his ribs. “You. Did you touch the kid?” Qabian grunted, then pulled his hood down low over his face. “No.” “Good.” The large man who had been sleeping earlier in the day moved away. “You don’t touch him, too,” Qabian said. The man guffawed. “Going to stop me, scarecrow?” Qabian sat up, then pulled back his hood, his green eyes shining in the darkness. “No. But I know your wife. She might.” The man picked up Qabian by his frayed linen collar and slammed him against the wall. “Elf lies! I’ll kill you right now!” the man shouted. Qabian rubbed the back of his head. “Try it, but I know who fucks your wife, and is not you.” He grinned wickedly. “What?!” the man shouted so loud, he sparked the sounds of guards coming to check on the commotion. “Who? Who?! WHO?!” He shook the blood elf, rattling his skull against the stone of the wall. Qabian tried to convince the man to stop with an outstretched hand, finally placing a palm directly on the man’s face before he paused his assault. “I -- I -- I tell you,” Qabian managed to say. He motioned with a finger for the man to get closer, then whispered in his ear. The man screamed and threw Qabian to the floor. The large man stomped around the cell, rattling the bars and shouting incoherently. A half-dozen guards clanked up to the cell to drag the furious man away. Qabian rubbed at the bridge of his nose, catching his breath as the pain of hitting a stone wall several times resonated through his body. Distant shouts and thumping sounds could be heard for some time. Qabian pulled his hood back low, sitting up against the bars and watching the hallway. The larger cellmate was returned a short time later, unconscious with his hands bound behind his back. The guards dumped him on the floor, then rolled back into corner of the cell. When the guards had been gone for some time and the lanterns in the hall had been snuffed out again, the boy, who had been pretending to sleep through the entire event, shuffled across the floor to where Qabian was sitting. “Grim? Grim, how do you know his wife?” Boy whispered. Qabian’s smirk was dimly lit by his eyes beneath his hood. “I don’t.” “Huh?” “It’s a common story. He looked inbred enough for it to be likely. To be honest, he looked stupid enough to believe it even if he's not married,” Qabian explained quietly. “Who did you say was fucking her, then?” asked Boy. “His brother.” Boy clapped a hand over his mouth, his eyes glinting with stifled laughter in the darkness. “Did you know he had a brother?” “No,” Qabian said, then lifted a finger to his lips. “None of that works on anyone with half a brain. I got lucky.” “He could have killed you.” Qabian nodded. “Just being here could kill me. If we're going to get out of here, I need to rest,” he said, tugging at his hood. “Okay,” Boy said, then crawled back over to his mat. Qabian slept sitting up against the wall the rest of the night, growing bruises preventing him from lying down.
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  19. New Orleans, proposed by Vilmah in this post: New Orleans proposal: Dates: January - March 2018 (not during Mardi Gras) Travel: Louis Armstrong International Airport Home Base: House on Bourbon St. ($ will depend on how many people sign up, $1500 a night) Includes Hot Tub Balcony Kitchen Large Living Space Within Walking Distance (of home base): Day Cemetery Tours $25.00 Steamboat Cruise $32.00 Cocktail History Walking Tour $65.00 Food History Tour $55 - $120 Riverwalk Free Audubon Aquarium $29.95 Cafe Du Monde $5.45. Cafe Du Monde Coffee And Chicory Regular $5.74. Cafe Du Monde Coffee And Chicory Decaf $5.88. Cafe Du Monde French Roast Coffee $23.99. Twelve Cafe Au Lait Pralines $13.99. Six Cafe Au Lait Pralines $23.99. Twelve Creamy Pralines $13.99. Six Creamy Pralines Eat Alligator Voodoo Museum $7.00 Night Karaoke Free Burlesque Show $15 general admission / $25 VIP Live Jazz Free Ghost Tours $15 - $100 Bourbon Street Free Drink Absinthe Varies
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  20. Qabian scowled, his whole body tensed while a disturbingly fit, older human woman wearing plate and chain under a Stormwind city tabard ran her hands down his bare legs. He wanted nothing more than to obliterate her with a meteor and spit in the ash cloud left behind, but a slim gold band around his wrist -- the only thing other than a plain undergarment he was still wearing -- kept him from doing anything of the sort. He’d already elbowed his way free of one of the male guards and a growing bruise below Qabian’s left eye was all he had to show for it. The mage wasn’t feeble, unhealthy, or unfit himself, but without magic or weapons to speak of, dexterity only had so much value. It wasn’t the first time he’d been in prison. He could remember a time when it seemed he was in and out of some lockup or another every few months. It wasn’t even the first time he’d been imprisoned by humans in a mostly human city, but past experience was doing little to calm him, and that time, he had been far from alone. There had been little action between the tower and the Stockade, where Qabian was unceremoniously dumped on the guards who immediately set about stripping him of everything, both valuable and valueless -- all of which, including his robes and tabard, as far as Qabian was concerned, was given up for lost. His habit of keeping most important items on his person would hurt, but he had no intention of staying in the Stockade, and his priority was freedom, not wasting time or opportunity wandering around searching for his gear. The woman finished manhandling him and passed him a small pile of tattered, off-white muslin from a nearby table. He grimaced, unfolding it to find a simple tunic and trousers. “I need more. A cloak.” The smooth, fluent Common he’d used to plead for himself back in the Violet Spire vanished beneath a thick accent and short sentences again. The woman just shrugged. “Get dressed,” she ordered. “No. Need more. A plain sheet even.” Qabian shook the pile of cloth, pinched between two fingers. “This will get me killed.” “Good. Get dressed.” Qabian hesitated, then complied. Someone was going to die for this. A lot of people were going to die for this. He stared at her, eyes narrowed in as blatant seething hatred as he could manage while he judged where on her person she might keep her keys for both frequent use and prevention of pickpocketing. He gingerly stepped into the frayed but clean clothing, muttering to himself in Thalassian. “I’m going to take a very long swim in the Sunwell as soon as I’m out of here.” The guard’s hard expression didn’t change, but she calmly informed him, “Talk like that again, and you won’t be eating this week.” Qabian raised an eyebrow. “You understand?” “No, but one more word and you’ll regret it.” Qabian nodded, frowning as he slipped the shirt over his head. The guard grabbed his arm, dragging him down a hall lit by lanterns. Qabian peered into the other cells they passed. None of the other occupants seemed to be dressed in a similarly frayed pajama set, but they did look like common rogues and bandits who had been wearing the same clothes for months. He didn’t see a single set of mage robes. The guard shoved him into a surprisingly spacious cell that clanged shut behind him. The roughness was thoroughly unnecessary, but he didn’t expect any better from humans. Qabian rubbed his upper arm as he looked around. Two other figures, a large, bulky human, snoring loudly on a straw-filled mat, and a young, thin one -- not really a child, but gangly with a round, large-eyed face that made it difficult to consider him grown -- was cowering in between two other bedrolls on the damp stone floor. Qabian frowned as he judged the situation. He wondered if he was being thrown in here for a particular reason, or if humans cared that little about what they did with whoever they deemed criminal. He suspected the latter. Qabian pointed at the mats. “Which is mine?” The figure didn’t answer, just stared at him, dark eyes wide with fear. Qabian raised an eyebrow, then shrugged. He grabbed the nearest mat, sat down with it over his lap, then proceeded to tear it apart. “Y-you shouldn’t do that,” the boy stammered. “Don’t care,” Qabian said without looking up from his work, using his teeth to pull out individual threads from the edging of the mat and the surface of thick linen. “W-why are you doing that?” Qabian glared at the boy. The boy shrank back against the wall. “To hide this.” Qabian pointed at his ear. “And these.” He motioned to his eyes. “Oh.” The boy seemed oddly calmed by the explanation. “Where will you sleep?” “On stones.” “Oh.” Qabian proceeded to piece together a makeshift cloak from the thick fabric of the mat. Straw was scattering everywhere, but the cell was hardly tidy enough for it to make much difference. He sewed without a needle, something he had done once before, forcing the thread through natural spaces in the weave of the fabric. The stitching, if it could be called that, would be weak, uneven, ugly, but if the knots were sturdy enough, it should hold decently. He didn’t plan to be in the Stockade long enough to wear it out. “Cold?” Qabian asked, without looking up. The boy, who had been staring curiously at the mage’s hands as he worked, jumped at the sudden question. “What?” Qabian paused to point at him. “You shake. Because you are cold?” “No.” “Fear.” The boy rested his forehead on his knees. “Yes,” he said, the word muffled by his chest. “My people hurt you.” It was not a question. The boy looked up. “How did you know?” “Obvious.” Qabian smirked at the boy. “Humans killed my parents,” Qabian lied, holding up two fingers. “Get over it.” The boy hesitated a moment, chewing on his bottom lip, then asked, “Why are you here?” “Betrayed. By humans.” “Oh.” “Happens many times.” Qabian turned back to his project. “You,” he said, tilting his head as he spoke, “I think... stealing?” “How did you know?” the boy asked again. Qabian tugged free another thread and laughed. “Too skinny for much else.” “Oh.” The boy put his head on his knees again. “Pick locks?” Qabian asked. The boy was silent, but his body moved as though he was stifling sobs. Qabian glanced at the sleeping figure on the other side of the cell, then leaned toward the boy to say quietly in accent-free Common, “If you can pick locks, I can get us both out of here.” The boy looked up, staring wide again, though this time his fear was tempered by both confusion and desperate hope. “Yes, but I have no picks.” Qabian, his voice still low, said, “If I can bring you, say, a needle, can you unlock this?” He held out his arm towards the boy, showing the golden band. The boy flinched at first, then shifted closer to the mage. He pinched the band between two fingers and peered at the tiny lock mechanism. “Maybe. It’s magic.” Qabian smiled at the boy. To those who didn’t know the mage, it may even have actually seemed genuine. “How did you know?” The boy’s curiosity faded and his expression turned to panic. “I-I don’t. It’s -- I --” “Don’t worry about it. We will get out of here.” “If you say so, mister. W-what’s your name?” Qabian shook his head, this time more seriously, switching back to a more conversational volume and the thick accent. “No. No name. Call me Grim. I call you Boy.” The boy shrugged. “I’m nineteen.” Qabian laughed. “Boy.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder, indicating their snoring cellmate. “Him, too?” Boy whimpered, a disconcertingly childish sound. “Please no” Qabian grinned wickedly. “Consider him dead,” he whispered. Boy smiled ever so slightly before putting his head back down on his knees as Qabian went back to mangling the bedroll into a cloak large enough to pull down over his face and hide his eyes.
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  21. Growing impatient with waiting, Syreena decided to call on Faelenor again to see if there was any news. Again, the undead horse and rider, both still clad in red and black armor, rode up to the gate. Syreena drew the mount to a halt several feet away from the gate and sat there quietly, just to see how long it would take to be noticed this time. " What is your business?" An elf called from the wall. An orc nearby already had his gun ready. Syreena looked up at the source of the voice. She also noticed the orc with the gun, but she doesn't seem surprised. It would seem strange to her to show up here and not have weapons pointed at her. She looked back to the elf. Out of habit, she allowed her gaze to rest on his ears for a moment before answering. "I'm selling cookies,” she called up to the guards. “How many boxes can I put you down for?" “Excuse me?” the elf asked. He did not sound interested in cookies. “What kind?” the orc asked. He did sound interested. Syreena ignored the elf and answered the orc. “What kind do you want?” “I like peanut butter.” “Shut up, Gruk,” the elf snapped. “Peanut butter. Got it. How about your pretty girlfriend there?” the little rogue asked, trying not to grin too broadly. “What kind does she like?” “Oh, aren’t you PRECIOUS,” the elf grumbled. “Don’t be fooled, undead. This is a man,” the orc informed her. “I have difficulty too.” “Shut. Up. Gruk!” the elf snapped irritably. “Well, in any case, he has pretty ears.” Syreena made horrid kissy faces at the elf. He looked a little unnerved by the comment, far more so by the kissy face that was all teeth. Syreena gave him a fake pout. “No cookies for you?” She let out a big, dramatic, and totally unnecessary sigh. “Fine. Then send a message to Faelenor that Syreena is here to see him.” Syreena waited quietly for a little while, but soon started fidgeting impatiently. After several minutes, she pulled some paper out of her pack and started folding it different directions. Finally, she tossed the paper zeppelin up toward the guards on the wall. “I got it!” Gruk shouted, reaching out and nearly backhanding his companion as he caught the little device and gently threw it back. Syreena caught it, and was about to throw it again when a noise caught her attention. Just beyond the outer part of the gate, a distance away from the encircling enclosure comes the soft sound of a roar as three large mana sabers approached. One carried atop it the hooded ranger, while the others rode at his flank. They made their presence known to the guards but slowed in their movement as their master saw the Forsaken rogue in all her cookie selling glory, black and red armor to match. He slowed and slid off the massive feline before waving off the guards. “Syreena. As per usual, an unexpected visit. And selling your blight this time no less. He raised an eyebrow and watched the small rogue carefully. “I advise you not try that nonsense here again. It would be bad for our business arrangement.” He whistled softly, and the cats moved toward the gate, laying down with their heads resting on their paws, ears flickering and tails swaying as they watched the exchange. “I take it you aren’t just here to peddle your poison in baked goods form?” Syreena watched the cats through narrowed eyes for another minute. Bones, her horse, snorted at them, but he was too well-trained and had too much experience to be skittish around the big predators. Syreena looked back at Faelenor, but unlike him, she did not dismount. If the felines decided to get feisty, she’d rather be ready to ride away quickly. Her look of wariness changed to one of amusement, and she spread her empty hands. “Relax, Ranger. I have no cookies today. I was just having some fun with your guards. I can make some for you if you’d like though. Cookies, cupcakes, pies….. I’m told they’re to die for.” She winked at him. “Poor choice of words aside, what brings you so unannounced to the port? I did warn that if you traveled this way without so much as a letter, you would be welcomed with swords and guns pointed your direction.” Fael crossed his arms and stared up at the little rogue, raised brow replaced by a smirk. “Surely you didn’t think our business arrangement needed monitoring?” Syreena shrugged, her amusement fading. “Monitoring…maybe not. But it has been a while since I gave you lots of money, and I stopped by to see what it’s bought me so far. Any progress in finding Razvaan?” "General progress on finding him has yielded very little result. The flight has been sent to span the lands of the shore, agents in each major point. The Legion is making the search difficult and I can't stay in Dalaran for too long without having other requests to take care of. Vy waits patiently for the chance to catch a trail and follow it but until we find something, there is little progress to be made." His head lowered to peer over the Forsaken steed, following the trail of energies that kept it animate. "Why did you doubt we would find him, and why pay if you knew it was going to be difficult?" Syreena listened closely to the update, then nodded. Although she looked disappointed, she did not complain or criticize. "I paid exactly because I knew it would be difficult. Probably too difficult for me to find him on my own, unless I got extremely lucky. More eyes looking for him would have a better chance. As long as he hasn't been killed or something already." She frowned at the last thought. “Anyway,” she added in her raspy voice. “I was just wondering if there was any news yet.” "On the front of finding Razvaan there is little news. Only that we have not found him. Leads are scarce and sightings are even more so. Admittedly my own attention has been divided by family affairs but they will not keep me much longer. I do not speak the same for any other agent." He gave a whistle to the guards and had them open the gates, all three mana sabers lazily making their way inside. "I will keep you updated regularly after things clear up...as much as I hate to admit this, your case has proven difficult at best." Syreena looked at the gate as she heard it opening. Seeing it was only the cats going in and no threat coming out, she turned back to Fael with a crooked grin. “If it was easy, anyone could do it.” Her brow furrowed as she thought for a moment. "Hm....let me know if I can be of any help in clearing up your other things so you can focus on this sooner. I would expect a discount on this job though if I do." She grinned again and picked up her reins, sensing the meeting was coming to an end. Her expression turned playful, if such a thing were possible on such a hideous face. "Did you want to place an order for any cookies before I go?" "And here i thought you wanted me to finish the job," He replied with his own smirk. "How could I possibly do that if I suddenly become ill and unable to perform my tasks." He waved off her offer, looking up at her with a bit of caution. "I don't want you to assume that this makes us friendly...but you've kept to yourself and haven't hurt anyone I know as of late...so let’s try to keep it like that!" All humor fell from her at his reminder of how things were between her and him, and all of his guild. She nodded curtly. "Don't worry, ranger. I'll never make the mistake of thinking any of the purple people or their allies will ever be friendly with me." Laying the rein against Bones's neck and squeezing her legs against his side causes the horse to turn away from the gate and start walking. "I'll be waiting for your update." He watched the shift in her expression, studying the way she collapses for a moment before pulling herself back into a more stoic professionalism. "Our ideals are not the problem...but then again, you know that as well as I." Fael leaned on the open gate and watched as the rogue took her leave. "I will send a raven with news of any changes." She nodded again, with nothing more than politeness. "I'll be waiting." Leaning forward slightly in her saddle, she lifted her feet and thumped them against Bones's ribs, sending him into a gallop as she rode away.
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  22. "Those who have not given themselves over to the Light, are mere servants of Evil... they must be destroyed." - Kirrik the Awakened The Scarlet Hand Who we are? The Scarlet Hand is a human only RP-PvP guild formed to combat both the Horde and any other threats that arise to threaten the citizens of the Alliance. What we do? We take part in all aspects of the game, our leadership has every AoTC achievement during the Legion Expansion, as well as titles for Arena and RBG's. We are looking for like minded players who want to not only partake in some fun RP, but also all aspects of the game! We are also looking to push a more fully immersive RP experience that carries over into some raiding / BG / and world PvP events as well as coordinating other RP events. Our Goals ( IC ) 1) To Spread the teachings of the Holy Light - As a guild that is based on a "pure" version of the Scarlet Crusade, one thing we want to do is spread the word of the Light. While our organization was formed after some rather disastrous events, our goal isn't just to change the outcome, we are not just a machine of war. When we are not on the front lines, our members must remain dedicated to spreading the word of the Holy Light. 2) To rid Lordearon of all Enemies of the Alliance - Our goal as a military unit that is based out of Tyr's Hand, is to help purify the former Kingdom of Lordearon from the corruption that currently infests it. From the Scourge remnants, to the Forsaken outposts, anything within the former Kingdom must be freed from the grip of terror that currently resides there, and made ready for the return of the sons and daughters of Lordearon. 3) To Eliminate the Plague of Undeath across all of Azeroth - As the former citizens of Lordearon experienced first hand, the terror that overtook the land due to the plague of undeath still hangs over Azeroth. As a member of the Scarlet Hand we seek to bring this threat to an end and have a light-bound duty to achieve this goal at all costs. 4) Cleanse the lands of corruption - As we know, the plague of undeath, corruption of the Legion, and many other nefarious threats to Azeroth damage the lands they infect. It is our goal to work with the power of the Holy Light to help in purifying these lands, including the Capital City of Lordearon, from the corruption that has taken hold. IC Details: We are a human only guild that is based on a "pure" Scarlet Crusade. 1) Even alts must be Human, exceptions can be made to the "Human only" rule with our Emissary rank. We will allow any 1 class of any race, who wants to RP as an emissary to our organization. While technically not an IC member of the guild, and IC unable to wear the tabard, it provides for some fun RP / exception possibilities with players that enjoy the idea / ambassador type RPers, who also want to take part in content with our members. ( Aka 1 Worgen 1 Gnome, etc... can be any class ) 2) Because we are a religious and Light based organization we do not currently accept Warlocks or Death Knights. ( They -MAY- be accepted as emissaries... but this relationship will at best be hostile... ) 3) An IC interview is required 4) RP name is a must - We don't love special characters, but as long as the name is RP friendly we will consider it! Our IC Relationships: The Alliance: As a human organization we see ourselves as protectors of the Alliance. While other races are not permitted into our Order, we do not dislike any particular race within the Alliance and can work with any organization ( * ) that shares our goals and ideals. We also will protect all innocents of the Alliance whenever we can. The Horde: Openly hostile. There is no room for peace of discussion so long as they protect and aid the defilers of Azeroth. Even further disgracing themselves by allowing the Banshee Queen to become their Warchief, we must do all that we can to defeat this threat to our people. The Forsaken continue to raze the fallen of Lordearon, and elsewhere, to serve the Banshee Queen and whatever nefarious goals she maintains. Not until the Horde separates itself from the Forsaken, and joins in our cause to put the fallen to rest and purify Lordearon, can there be any hopes for peace. The Silver Hand: A former bastion of the Light, this organization has allowed itself to become polluted by the Agents of the Banshee Queen and no longer is worthy to bare the name. The new Highlord has shown to be weak, and the lack of a response after the assault on Light's Hope by the Ebon Blade proved this. While there are some noble Knights that still remain out of a sense of duty and honor, the ends do not justify the means, and so long as the Banshee Queen's soldiers remain, they cannot be fully trusted. The Ebon Blade: As would be expected, because this organization is filled entirely with the Undead, it must be purified. It also seems to bend to the will of the Jailor of the Damned, and his goals have already proven to be as vile as the former Lich King, his attempt to raise Tirion Fordring and the assault on Light's Hope Chapel requires justice. Even those who have sworn allegiance to the Alliance cannot fully be trusted. The Scarlet Crusade: The members of the Scarlet Crusade were corrupted by the very same force that brought the plague of undeath to Azeroth... the Burning Legion. While there are still some men and women with pure hearts and true goals, the ways of the original Crusade must be halted. Should any former members of the Crusade approach, they must be given a chance to repent for their actions, and if they refuse, will be brought to justice. Our goal is to purify the name of the Scarlet Crusade and it's heroes, not tolerate the corruption that took control of it. It is true we admire their fervor and dedication to eradicating the plague of undeath, but trading one dark fate for another is unacceptable. (( OOC )) We have IC and OOC channels for communication and encourage all sorts of RP across both factions! RP events are a must for us, and combining our RP with PvE and PvP is something we really want to push for, not just bar or tavern RP. IC interview is required and an oath will be taken to join! :-) If you are interested send any officer an in game mail, or in game message, you may also message us on the TnG! 18+ As we are definitely an older guild, usually looking for like aged members! Be ok with RPing with and as a Scarlet Crusader! IC drama of course will occur, but keep it that way! Keep it to the IC and not the OOC :-) If we come off like jerks, its because well... we are! Obviously evil characters who come off as insane likely won't fit! We are based on the Holy Light and a military organization so discipline is something that a character should generally have. We have a discord channel / and are always willing to help and / or come to anyone's aid! --- Recruitment - Right now as long as you are human - alts included, and not a DK or Warlock, we are recruiting! ( We also have an alt rank for other human chars who have mains in the guild - Converts- ) Emissary Rank - for non humans - Recruiting 1 of each Race - Special Privilege given to more worthy applicants - Having a major in game achievement ( Challenger or better, AoTC of the current expansion, of the Alliance, etc ) will certainly help! We are also looking for officers right now, we have several in place but if you want to step into a role and help us grow we are certainly interested!
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  23. A blood elf dressed as a Kirin Tor guardian, complete with fancy mask and spiky shoulders, quietly made sure no one was home. He then quietly slipped the lock on a window. He also quietly went about searching the place for what he'd been sent to find, filling hidden bags strapped about his person with various items. However, part of his contract was to leave as much mess as possible, so when he was just about ready to leave, he started making noise, a lot of noise, smashing chairs, pushing all the dishes out of the cupboards onto the floor. No amount of stealth or trickery was a match for the resident busybody of the small apartment complex currently seeing one of its units looted. The plump, silver-haired human woman that served as landlady made a quiet little "oooo" of a growl under her breath from her position in the hallway when wood started cracking and ceramic started breaking. It had been some time since she'd had to sneak anywhere, but nonetheless Gracie McClintock found herself trying to nudge open the apartment door with a cast iron frying skillet in-hand. Admittedly, a true professional would have been paying more attention, but with his back to the door as he tore open cushions and scattered the stuffing, the burglar was oblivious to the sound of the door opening or anything else. He didn't turn around until it was too late, just in time to see the skillet before it collided with his head. "Hmph," Gracie huffed, thwacking the downed elf with the skillet one more time for good measure before searching out something to bind him with. "Break into one of my apartments, why don't you!" She returned with some rope, kneeling down to bind the elf's hands and feet with skill that simply did not match her appearance. "These poor kids. They'll be so upset. Hmph." Once he was secured, the woman scowled down at him and popped him with the skillet a final time. She stepped out into the hallway, just for a few minutes, and when she returned, it was to stand guard over the man's prone form with her skillet in hand. The thief groaned only once over the next hour or so, shifting against his bonds, but he didn't put any effort into fighting. Whether or not he fully regained consciousness or not was difficult to tell with his Kirin Tor mask in place. Once he did come to and realized the predicament he was in, he kept very still, listening and waiting to see if at any point he would be left on his own before even attempting escape. The landlady stayed on guard until two more people arrived. The woman, apparently a female sin'dorei of average height, was clothed head to toe in nondescript leather. Her face was hidden by a mask. The man who joined her was tall and slim, human by build, wearing dark clothing. He wasn't masked at first, and from behind his own mask, the thief recognized the man by description as Daerek Smythe, one of the tenants. Daerek took Gracie out into the hall. Their low voices could be heard but their words could not before he stepped back in, tugging a mask over his own face. He took up a place by the doorway while the woman stalked quietly around the room. She came to stand next to the thief's body at one point, staring down at him from behind his body. "You're not Kirin Tor," she commented lightly, speaking faintly-accented Thalassian. "What gives you that idea?" the thief responded sarcastically in the same language, his voice hoarse. His whole body flinched as if just trying to talk hurt. The woman laughed, the sound bright and delighted. "She got you good, didn't she? Cast iron is nothing to play around with." The thief groaned, rolling to face away from her. "Whatever. Ya caught me. I got it. Ya want the stuff back? Gonna lock me up? What?" The woman chuckled and allowed him to face away from her, but she crouched slightly and made to tug off his mask. "Not yet. I want to know who you work for, first." The removed mask revealed a scarred face, one side burned at some point years ago, but young. His hair was close-cropped and blond. A few red welts were threatening to turn into huge bruises on his forehead and cheek. "That's nice, but he didn' give a name. They rarely do." The woman made a sound like she was sucking her teeth, reaching out to grab his jaw. She turned his face this way and that. "Oof. That had to have hurt." The thief winced again, but otherwise let the woman manhandle his face. After a moment of inspection, she spoke again. "And no name? That's fine. I didn't expect one. What'd he look like?" "White hair. Blue eyes," he continued only after she lets him go. "One o' them traitor types. Gave me this get-up, but..." He shrugged, then regretted it. "Ow! By the sun," he muttered. "Don' think he was in charge." "What makes you say that?" She shifted to crouch in front of him, cocking her head to the side. So long as he kept talking, she seemed inclined to refrain from causing him further pain. The man, meanwhile, kept silent and stiff by the door. If not for the way his chest moved to indicate his breathing, one might think he was a statue. "Just not my first tournament, y'know. Something seemed off, stiff, seemed more scared than anything," he said by way of explanation, closing his eyes. "Anyway, doesn' matter. It's all over now. Least I got the advance half." "Sure it matters," she said cajolingly. "What's your name, kid? Maybe I'll get you some pain relief potion if you tell me all polite-like." "My name? Lady, whatever you think's going on here, I don' matter. This hurts, but I been through so much worse, sure you can tell." He smirked at her. "Y'can have my name, though. I don' care. It's Jun. I'd say look me up if you need my services, but I'm not selling myself so well today." He chuckled, then winced again. The woman moved to begin patting him down, making it obvious that this wasn't her first tournament, either. "You never know what you might need, Jun. You got family?" He let her do what she wanted. "Me? No. Jus' the usual story." She found various odds and ends in pockets of various depths sewn into his Kirin Tor uniform, mostly anything he thought he might be able to pawn off. "Everybody's dead. Got to steal to live. Nobody gets hurt. 'Cept with the occasional frying pan." The woman still seemed to be taking care to not hurt him unnecessarily. "I guess I don't have to see about making sure anyone's taken care of in the event that you don't return home then," she said lightly, seeming to peer at his face again. A single hand raised and she snapped her fingers expectantly; the man jerked somewhat and strode forward, handing her a vial of red liquid he fished out of a small bag. "So this traitor type. Elf? Human? Other? What'd he wear? What'd he hire you to do?" She uncorked the vial and gently dabbed little bits of the potion onto his skillet wounds. The thief frowned at the implication, but showed no signs of hesitating with giving information. "Eh? Elf-type traitor. Y'know, the ones who didn't take the fel help and got kicked out of Silvermoon. Dressed like a mage, same tabard." He glanced down at his own impostor's uniform. "Out of place in the Underbelly, but those types are always looking to hire. Said to look for any information on the people living in here. Mail, documents, journals, anything with names on it, awards, medals. And anything else I found, I could keep." "You think he was real Kirin Tor?" she asked, admiring her handiwork on his face before gently patting an uninjured spot and tossing the recorked vial over her shoulder. The man scrambled to catch it before returning to his place at the door. The woman made to roll the thief over, allowing him the opportunity to do it on his own steam with a gentle coaxing shove. He shifted willingly, but a twisted grin crossed his face, for the first time looking like he might actually be a bad guy and not just an unfortunate accomplice. She found his fist behind his back tightly closed around something. She cocked her head to the side. "Youuuu wanna tell me what this is, sugar?" He slowly opened his fingers revealing a small dark crystal with cracks running through it. As he opened his hand, the crystal crumbled into dust that ran through his fingers. "This is how he knows the whole thing went south and not to bother meeting up with me." "Huh. Neat." She didn't seem bothered. "I don't suppose I can trust anything that came out of those pretty lips of yours?" The thief's nasty grin shifted to a sheepish smile. "Eh, I haven't lied, but probably best not to trust anyone in my line of work, yeah? Not unless the pay is good, anyway." The woman laughed that delighted laugh again, shifting yet again to peer at his face. After a moment, she tapped his lips almost playfully. "Anything else you want to share with me, sweetheart?" He laid back and relaxed, seeming curiously reassured. "Nah. Whoever actually wanted this junk was either super careful or is running something bigger, cartel maybe. You find the guy who hired me, maybe he can tell you what you really want to know, but I won' be pointing him out. Good luck, lady." "Thanks, handsome. I think I've got just what I need." She patted his face one more time before extending her hand out behind her once again. "That scar is rather dashing," she confessed as she waited. "Maybe in another life." The man took a few jerky steps forward and put a different object in her hand, taking care to not poke her with what was soon revealed to be a syringe. She adjusted it deftly in her gloved hand then plunged the needle into Jun's exposed skin. The thief looked confused at the syringe, then looked alarmed as he was injected. He made a questioning sound but said no words before his eyes rolled back in his head and he slipped into unconsciousness, falling into a deep, long-lasting sleep. "Nighty-night, darling." The woman sighed and stood, handing the emptied syringe back to her companion as she did so. He remained silent as she nudged the unconscious elf with her foot, considering him for a few moments. Voices sounded from the hallway, Gracie's among them, and the woman turned her masked face to look at her companion. She jerked her head towards the window, and he started towards it while she tugged the mask back over Jun's face. When she rose to join the other man, he made a quick gesture with his hand; a faint light glowed around them for a moment before fading, and one after the other they jumped out of the window. Gracie hurried into the room followed by a handful of legitimate Kirin Tor guards. "He's the intruder!" she wailed. "I got him good with my skillet, but ooooh he made a mess!" The guards exchanged glances before assuring the landlady that they'd handle the situation and began dragging the unconscious blood elf off the premises.
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  24. Daerek sat on the arm of the couch in the apartment he shared with Anee, waiting for the woman to be ready to go. He wasn’t impatient at all, flipping through a new book to occupy his time. The young mage looked like he’d actually gotten some decent sleep recently, and he was free of the assorted cuts and bruises he seemed to collect in the course of his work on the Isles. Finally, Anee came out of the bedroom, wearing blue denim pants and a soft pink top. Her hair was held out of her face with a simple ponytail and she looked at Daerek with an apologetic smile. “I’m probably going to burn everything, you know.” Daerek looked up and grinned. “You can’t be as bad as Nomi,” he joked. “And you haven’t burned much yet that I know of, so…” He trailed off with a laugh, pushing off from the couch and setting the book back on the coffee table. “Well, no, but….I only make simple stuff so far. I’m sure they’re ready for fires, right?” She grabbed her bag and slung it over her shoulder. “I mean, they wouldn’t take a chance and let someone accidentally burn down the whole place, right?” “I’m sure it’ll be just fine,” he said with a smile, hoping to ease her fears about their cooking class. “if you set something on fire, I’ll pretend it was me. All good.” He glanced around a moment, as if judging the space available in the room, and then looked back to her. “Especially since we ah…aren’t taking lessons in Dalaran. Nobody to be mad at us for it later.” Anee tilted her head curiously. “Oh? Where are we going then?” “Woooould you have any problems if I said Pandaria?” “Oh!” She considered a moment before grinning. “They must be used to fires. I think Nomi is from there.” “I’ve heard he used to be a lot better at not burning things.” Daerek grinned goofily, pleased she wasn’t upset about literally going to a different continent for their roomie cooking lessons. He raised his hands to about chest-height and then paused, looking at her again. “…do you trust me?” His words hit him like a brick, and he hurried to add, “F-for a portal, I mean!” She looked at his hands curiously, then blinked and tried not to laugh at his clarification. “Umm…sure.” Back came his goofy grin. That pleased him more than it ought to, but he knew that portal travel could be dangerous if not done correctly. He began moving his hands again, gesturing towards the empty area of the room. Arcane energy coalesced around his hands as an answering nebula began in midair, and soon there was a shimmering portal awaiting their leisure. The Shrine of the Seven Stars was visible through it. Anee had no idea of the possible dangers of portal travel, assuming it was just something all mages could do easily, but she watched with some fascination as the portal was created right there in their living room. “I wish I could do that,” she said with a smile before stepping through the portal. The poor boy looked unduly grateful for her lack of hesitation. He waited a few seconds to give her time to move forward before stepping through as well. The portal was fine. It took them to Pandaria without issue.
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  25. A few days earlier... Ironforge wasn’t anything like Dalaran, but Daerek kind of liked the coziness of the mountain stronghold. It was closed and warm, like a blanket or a hug, and if not for the dire circumstances he and Anee found themselves in, he might have particularly enjoyed staying there. As it was, their relocation here had been the idea of a mutual friend, one they knew they could trust. It wasn’t optimal, but it was something—and he planned to try and keep morale up as much as possible, if only for Anee’s sake. Keys jangled outside of the door to the small Ironforge apartment as Daerek tried to balance the bags in his arms and open the door. The reinforced wood lurched open under the force of the young man’s shoulder, and he kicked it shut with his foot. “Anee?” he called, setting his bags on the kitchen counters. “Hey, I found some peach fizzy wine too…I got us a couple of bottles to try.” The newly-brown-haired mage kept unpacking the bags, peering up at the unfamiliar cabinets as he went. There were already some basic foodstuffs and kitchen supplies stored there, but maybe they could rearrange things to make it a little more like home. Daerek pulled a small wrapped package out of the bag next, smiling down at its weighty presence in his palm. He’d found a few strings of magma crystals that he thought his roommate might like, hoping the surprise would be enough to bring a smile to her face. “Anee?” he called again, taking the small package with him to peer into the cozy sitting room. A frown cut across his face when no answer was forthcoming for a second time. He crossed to her bedroom, rapping his knuckles against the door. “Hey…are you sleeping?” There was nothing but silence to respond to him, and Daerek gently tried the doorknob. It gave easily, allowing the mage to poke his head inside with slowly mounting panic. “Anee?” he asked softly. His breath left him in a rush when he saw her room: bare of her belongings, only a few articles of clothing strewn across her bed and a couple of odds and ends elsewise. Daerek spun away from the door and bounded to the bathroom. The door was open, nobody inside to have closed it. He shouted an uncharacteristic curse and turned in place, body jerking this way and that as his mind seemingly short-circuited from the sudden fear crushing his chest. There wasn’t a sign of a break-in. Had she gone out on her own? Did somebody take her and cover their tracks? Was there another room he hadn’t discovered yet that she was occupying? “Anee?” he called again, almost shouting the dual syllables. It was on his third aborted attempt at moving one direction or another that he laid on the bare table and the folded parchment with his name scrawled on it. “No…oh, tell me you didn’t…” He rushed to the table with lead feet and set the small package down before picking up the parchment with trembling hands. He swore again at seeing her handwriting on the inside, emotion choking his voice. Daerek, I am so sorry that you are in danger because of me. I’m sorry you had to leave your home and your sister. And what about your work? Your sister needs you. You said yourself there’s a reason she came to Dalaran. She’s your sister, and she needs your help. It’s not fair for you or her for you to have to drop that because of my troubles. You have been kinder to me than anyone ever has. I want you to know that I appreciate it. And that’s why I must go. If anything happened to you because of me, I couldn’t stand it. Go help your sister, have a happy life. I’ll come back when this is over if I can. Please don’t try to find me. Be safe. Your friend, Anee The young mage stared blankly at the letter for several minutes, body still except for his ragged breathing and quaking muscles. Finally, after what felt like a small eternity, he pulled out a chair and sat heavily in it. He pitched forward and let his head rest in his hands, elbows on the table, letter still clutched in one fist. Daerek stayed like that for hours, and when he finally moved it was to plod blankly back to Anee’s room. He stood as near to the middle as he could, turning in a slow circle to take stock of what was missing and what remained. He hoped he could determine maybe where she went…if he’d been smart, if he’d been able to control himself, he would have gone after her as soon as he found the letter. She couldn’t have gotten that much of a head start on him at that point, but now it was impossible to say where she had gone. What if she got hurt? What if she got killed? What if…what if… Daerek paused to stare at a light blue hair ribbon left on the dresser. It was just a stupid ribbon, but sentimentality got the better of him and he picked it up to tuck away in his pocket. He left the room then, stopping by the table in the sitting room to retrieve the wrapped gift he’d bought for the missing woman. He dropped that into his pocket too, followed by the folded letter, before lifting his hands and channeling a portal to Stormwind—and to the only person he knew could help him now.
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  26. The week after Mardi Gras is ideal. The mass of tourists is gone, most of the scammers are home counting their money, and the weather is good.
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  27. Hosting of public events is a good start. Can be something like holiday parties onwards up to the introduction of a story plot that multiple people can get involved in if they choose to. Other than that, I'd say as a guild leader, you just need to have rules that make sense for everyone and enforce them accordingly and consistently. Don't be a tyrant and don't be manipulative, but don't let things slide because you're afraid of losing people. There may be divas who think that they can shove their weight around who might threaten to flounce if they face consequences for behaving badly, but ultimately the majority of people, especially roleplayers, respect and flock to places where they know leadership is understanding and patient, but also not afraid to put their foot down if need be. I also find that having a mix of activities is beneficial over just strictly being an RP guild. Guilds should be little mini-communities where members help each other out and aren't afraid to ask for help with things, be it a quest, dungeon group, pvp matters, or just needing to talk to someone if they're not feeling 100% good. Up to you on if you choose to go hardcore RP and demand that gchat and public channels are RP only, but if you're hoping to attract people, new and inexperienced people might find that a bit overwhelming to have to switch to an OOC chat channel to ask a question or ask for assistance, but that's entirely on a perosn-by-person basis, so I can't say definitely what you should do with that. But, in essence... create the foundation and a welcoming environment, and people will generally congregate to it. It may take some time, and you may hit some bumps along the way, but persistence and consistency ultimately pay off.
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  28. 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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  29. 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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  30. As it turns out, when Daerek is drunk and trying to be quiet, he isn’t very quiet. He thinks he is, but a few hours later, the jangle of his keys, the this-side-of-not-gentle shutting of the door, and the inevitable drunken swear when he runs into the corner formed by the kitchen all prove otherwise. He sat on the couch and stared blankly at the wall, illuminated by the soft glow of the table lamp on the coffee table. Now, he was actually quiet. The bedroom door opened a few minutes later, and Anee peeked out into the living room. When she saw her roommate just sitting there staring, she came in and perched on the arm of the couch. Her eyes looked sleepy, her hair was tousled, and she was only wearing an oversized shirt as a nightgown. “Are you okay?” It took him a moment to register her presence and her question. If she was a mugger, he’d be well and thoroughly mugged. He was well past the point of stupid drunk, but now he was contemplative drunk. “I’m sorry,” he said thickly, looking up at her finally. “For tonight. I don’t know what happened.” In addition to her mind being foggy from having just been woken from sleep, it had been a long night, from the cooking class to the Legion camp, then dessert and the walk home. What was he sorry for? She replayed the night in her mind. “What…? Oh, the portal?” “Yeah. I don’t know what happened,” he said, looking sad through his glassy eyes. “It’s okay. Magic can be weird like that,” she said, trying to be comforting, even if she didn’t know the first thing about magic and casting spells. Her nose twitched as she caught the scent of wine clinging to him, and she looked at him. “I like your new sweater. Do you want some coffee?” “o-oh… It’s Rhork’s,” he said, blinking down at his sweater. He didn’t think to clarify why he was wearing it. “And no….no, I’ll be okay. Thanks.” He peered a little closer at her, taking in her sleepy face and pajamas for the first time, and smiled again, a little sadder than before. “I’m sorry I woke you. You can go back to bed.” She shrugged dismissively and slid off the couch, heading for the kitchen. “I couldn’t sleep anyway. Black, or cream and sugar?” “Cream and—wait, no, I—“ He broke off and sighed. Some part of him realized that, even sleepy, she’s not the sort to be unintentionally obtuse. He recognized the subtle (or not so subtle) form of manipulation for what it was, or what he thought it might be, and continued. “…cream and sugar, please. Thank you.” The words were quiet and meek and defeated. Buster jumped up on the couch and tried to wiggle his way into Daerek’s lap, little pink tongue lapping towards the young man’s chin. Daerek welcomed the pup’s presence, petting him vigorously and trying to avoid the tongue. He wasn’t as deft as he might normally be though, so he got thoroughly slobberized. He glances up towards the kitchen and frowned a little. “Couldn’t sleep? Are you okay?” he called, leaning his head back on the couch to try to catch a glimpse of her. She came back into the living room, carrying a tray with two mugs of sweetened coffee with milk in them, and a few cherry pastries. “I’m fine,” she said, then with a sheepish smile, she added, “just a bit sore.” The back of one thigh, where the shirt didn’t quite cover, was a dark purple. “Yeah, I bet. Hard fall. You took it well.” He caught a glimpse of the bruise but quickly looked away. Even drunk, he knows it’s impolite to stare—especially at a lady’s legs. “I hope that helps,” he said, motioning to the salve that she had left on the end table earlier. The two spent the next hour or so petting Buster until he fell asleep while they talked about Rhork and their families over pastries and a few cups of coffee. After one particular refill, Anee warned he would burn his throat when he drank immediately. “With as much wine as went down it tonight, I’m pretty sure I won’t feel it anyways.” He meant it as a joke, but it was actually the truth. Anee didn’t laugh. Instead, she looked worried. “Sounds like you drank an awful lot…. Are you sure you’re okay?” She had asked him that several times throughout the evening, and each time he assured her he was fine. Maybe she shouldn’t have asked again, but she still had the feeling something was troubling him. He didn’t look away from her this time, nor did he give an immediate affirmation. Instead, he looked right at her—almost through her—with troubled green eyes. A flashed image of her driving her daggers into the back of the felhunter’s neck made him close them. “No,” he said finally, after she had begun fidgeting under the intense look. “No, I’m not, but…” When he opened his eyes again, there was fear and uncertainty simmering just beneath them. It was hard to say whether it was a result of their demonic encounter or directed at her, and Daerek was struggling to get the words out. “What?” she asked softly. “What is it?” He couldn’t seem to look at her and talk at the same time, so he looked down at his mug instead. “I know—I know that you…hide a lot of who you are. Were. Whatever.” He swallowed, trying to force the halting words out through an inexplicably dry mouth. “And tonight, I just—you’re not an amateur, Anee. You were trained. I know it when I see it, and tonight, I saw it, and it…it makes everything else about you make so much more sense.” He opened his mouth to continue, but the words wouldn’t come just yet. He still couldn’t bring himself to look at her. She looked away from him as well, her face paling. She folded her hands in her lap and just sat there, staring straight ahead. “I….I didn’t think. I just…I saw it going after you, and I just reacted. I’m sorry if I scared you. But..it’s okay now though,” she tried to reassure him, tentatively turning to look at him. “We’re safe now, and nobody got hurt.” Daerek’s jaw worked furiously as he listened to her, gaze still focused down on his coffee. His fingers tightened around the mug before he spoke again, and they didn’t lose their grip. “All the little oddities,” he muttered. “The hesitations. The slip-ups. Blank looks. Ber? And Zanas? Syreena? Miss Lilliana? You know more Horde than you do Alliance, it feels like. And this—tonight—Light, you remind me of her.” That last bit was uttered under his breath, probably not meant for her Anee’s ears. “You’re running. I don’t know from who, or from what, or from when, but what happens when you get hurt again?” Anee's expression went from utterly confused to absolutely horrified as he ran through the list of names. She looked away from him, staring straight ahead and sitting stiffly still. “I…what… You know Horde too… Remind you of who? What are you…I don’t understand….” She barely heard his final question, too overwhelmed by what had already been said. "You know her as the General," he managed, his words thick with shame at the memory of his fear. "That's how I--how I know you're not an amateur. Amateurs don't...she wasn't..." He shook his head hard and turned to look at her finally. "And yeah, Anee, I know some Horde, but not like you do. Not like that. I'm not stupid. Even now, there's something. You understand, I know you do. And--" His jaw worked again, eyes bright, and his words picked up some speed like he was trying to get it all out at once. "You know what? I don't...it doesn't matter. I've wondered for months if maybe Kat was right about you, but that doesn't matter either. None of it does. I don't know if I'm just convenient or if I'm actually your friend, but I hope like Hell it's the latter and you haven't ever given me a reason to doubt that you're a good person. So I don't care, Anee, I don't--" His words abruptly stopped, and a different kind of horror fills his face. "And I haven't even thanked you for saving my life. Light, I'm an asshole." She didn’t say anything at first. She just sat there, pale and stiff, with tears pooling in her eyes. Of all the people to be suspicious of her for her secrets, she never wanted it to be him. She could almost see her happy life here unraveling with each of Daerek's doubts. She shook her head at his thanks, as if it were no big deal what she did. She glanced at him and opened her mouth, only to close it and look away again. Her gaze darted around the room for a moment, like a trapped animal. Finally, she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, and looked him again, briefly, unable to maintain any kind of eye contact with him right now. "I don't.... I'm not sure what you're accusing me of," she stammered in a harsh whisper. "In the beginning, you were convenient.... I... had nowhere safe to stay, and you let me stay here, but....now, I don't......" She blinked hard a few times, and looks back at the coffee table. "I'm sorry." "I--I wasn't accusing you of..." He looked more than a little broken that Katrynne was right about Anee all along. But maybe it wasn't all along, because she made it sound like that wasn't the case anymore. Or maybe it was just his wishful thinking. Either way, it worked for him. "Please don't cry," he whispered, reaching a hand out to try and touch her arm. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything." He looked completely out of his depth now and incredibly regretful. "I meant it. I don't care." He was still whispering. "You're my friend. I care about you. I just want you to be okay." At the touch on her arm, she seemed to melt, turning into him, and he held her, laying his head on top of hers. "I didn't know you at first," she blubbered. "You were just someone I met who let me live in his house, and I thought you'd make me pay for it somehow eventually, but then.... after a while.....I realized that you're just really nice.” She sniffled, then whispered even more quietly, her words coming very hesitantly. "I used to be... I used to have to fight, but I don't want to anymore. I want to be the good wolf now. He said I could be......" “Who said that?" he asked, trying to filter through the meaning in her words. "The Professor," she said between sniffles. "And he thought you were bad? Or you did?" Daerek rubbed her back a little bit. She ignored the tenderness of the bruises on her back as he rubbed it. Her breathing evened out a bit, and her sniffling slowed down, as she realized he didn't seem to hate her and probably wasn't going to kick her out. She shook her head at his question. "I....was with bad people. He saved me from them." Daerek stilled briefly, and then squeezed her a little tighter. His eyes focused blankly on the window across from him. The surface parallels to his own life were uncanny. The little voice in his head that told him for months he was being taken advantage of--the little voice that oddly enough sounded like Katrynne--was practically screaming now at how convenient those words were, but he tuned it out. He said he didn't care, and he meant it. "He was right," Daerek said after a moment. "You aren't bad. What we were or what we were forced to do doesn't define us unless we let it." He kept rubbing her back gently, trying to keep calming her while attempting to be mindful of the bruises, but he didn't know where they were and so hoped for the best. "I'm not that person anymore," she said quietly. She bit her lip, suddenly embarrassed for her little meltdown. She fidgeted, before pulling away from him to sit up. As she tried to compose herself, he got her a wet washcloth and assured her everything was okay. "I know it's really awkward right now, but it'll be okay. You could tell me you used to be a serial killer and I'd forgive you if you made me believe you weren't that person anymore." His voice was an uncharacteristic mix of gentleness and supportive steel. He believed every word he was saying right then. "And I already believe that you aren't who you were." She gave him a skeptical look, since serial killer wasn't all too far off from what she actually was, if not even worse. Something in his voice though comforted her a bit, and she smiled at him. "Really?" He didn't see the skeptical look, eyes slowly drifting shut as they were, but he could hear the smile in her voice. "Really." She looked at him, seeing his eyes falling closed so she spoke softly and simply. "Okay." "Hey. Anee?" His voice sleepily lilted up at the end of her name, and he smiled a little bit. "Yes?" "Thanks. For bein' you. Really." It was so mumbled that it was entirely possible it was unintelligible, but it sounds sincere. Anee smiled softly, but she didn't say anything in response. She'd had at least a few hours of sleep during the night, and she knew he was awake all that time. She just watched him as he fell asleep. She debated on trying to stretch his legs out on the couch to make him more comfortable, but decided not to risk waking him. Instead, she covered him with a throw blanket. Buster jumped up on the couch and curled up next to the sleeping mage, and Anee returned to the bedroom.
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  31. I'll make sure I let my wee guild know! And spread the word when I can!
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  32. Bursting into the offices of the Kirin Tor, the Scarlet made his way hastily to Regrave's office, his eyes fixated on the door as he walked, his small escort drew the attention of several other members of the Kirin Tor and the two Knights did an about face as the Crusader entered her office and shut the door behind him, quietly. "You know... Miss Redgrave, I would have thought some competence was required for this position..." he calmly removed his gauntlet his tone as friendly yet condescending as possible as he took a seat across from the woman, casually leaning back in the chair. Caught a bit off guard at his brazen entrance the mage looked up flatly, "What do you want, Scarlet? I haven't the time for games." she responded, only looking up for a moment, attempting with her body language to convey that she was far too busy to be bothered with any petty business that the Crusader might have. "We are, in case you didn't know, in the middle of planning for our final assault on the Tomb," a small smile appears if only for a moment, "Certainly there is something -else- you can be doing?" "Oh, I certainly do, I shouldn't be doing other peoples jobs. Like yours for example... or the guards of Stormwind." leaning forward a bit, slowly and calmly removing his gauntlets and placing them on her desk, "What sort of device did you put around the Mage's wrist, Amberlight has escaped and I can't imagine that frail savage could have succeeded in such an endeavor simply based on his physical skills, he isn't exactly known for his constitution." The mage looked up, a bit of shock and dread on her face realizing now why the Paladin had come. The thought of Qabian escaping sent a small chill down her spine. She knew he wouldn't take her handing him over to Stormwind authorities lightly. "I-I he, what?" she stammered a bit, caught off guard at the news. Redgrave had assumed that the mage would be indisposed for quite some time if he was truly guilty, or out of her hair completely... "You know, I of course blame the fools that guard him for their deciding to place him within the same cell as a common thief, and the bungling Kirin Tor for placing such a simple device of his wrist to hamper his magical prowess. A wrist guard that can be removed by a novice. However, it seems that with the new commanders of this city come with some instances of gross incompetence, perhaps you didn't want to feel left out?" His snide tone not hiding his disdain a bit, his eyes cutting through her as if she wasn't even there. "I imagine he won't be happy with you... and I must admit I am not exactly satisfied either... you should have secured him properly. Or perhaps handed him over to my organization to deal with his crime. We have very effective measures for handling these types of situations." Redgrave glanced at the Knight and his tabard for a moment before locking eyes, "I would -never- just hand someone over to -YOUR- organization. It would be disastrous for our relationship with the Horde-" He cut her off and slammed his fist on her desk, "What is disastrous -IS- our relationship with the Horde! And the fact that we must suffer -THESE- savages and let them roam free in -ALLIANCE- cities like Dalaran even -AFTER- they have committed so many crimes against the Light, GIRL! Do not tell me about our relationships! Perhaps Lady Proudmoore needs to return to cleanse this city again, not only of the traitorous Sin'dorei and their Horde allies, but also of the less than competent Kirin Tor who sacrifice their honor for a tenuous peace!" He leans over her, his eyes narrowed not taking care that his voice was rising as he spoke. She took note of his rant and was quite aware of the position of the Scarlet Hand, trying to remain calm, but when he called her "girl" she nearly lost it. His belittling tone, his obvious warmongering, even if in the back of her mind she did wish for Jaina's return and supported her, and would have been apologetic for the escape of the mage, it was this sort of attitude that drove her back towards the current council and its stance. "Get out! I don't have time for YOU or your zealous, xenophobic attitude!" Her voice echoed through the halls. Provoking a reaction was his goal and he smiled, picking up his gauntlets he began to place them back on, clasping them and keep his eyes locked on hers the entire time, "You know, one day, Lady Proudmoore may return, and when she does I hope this city is no longer a haven to traitors to the Alliance like you, and the rest of your organization. Selling your souls for convenience, instead of having the faith in oneself and the Light." he smiled and reached out and tapped her face lightly, she recoiled in anger. "Light guide you." he smiled and said to her as he walked out of the room, nodding at his escort as they made their way down the hall. One magistrate peeked in and he could see her still staring at the empty door, seething... barely able to catch her breath, as the Paladin calmly walked down the halls and out to the streets of Dalaran.
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  33. 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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  34. McGuffins Alright, folks, I've decided to do McGuffins mostly because things are busy and I don't have a ton of time on my hands. Let's begin at the beginning: Alfred Hitchcock coined the term "McGuffin" to mean: The object of the characters' desire in any given story. The explicit thing that motivates the plot and characters of the story, that drives everything forward. The Ark, in Raiders of the Lost Ark , The Ring, in Lord of the Rings, any one of the assorted infinity stones in any of the Marvel movies. These would all be McGuffins. Pretty simple, right? Well, just like everything else, the way McGuffins work in a story can get complex really quickly. For instance, a McGuffin can technically be a character instead of a specific object: The Genie in Aladdin would be a stellar example, or Eleven in Stranger Things, X-23 in Logan, also. Sometimes, it's even a place. Most road trip stories have a McGuffin that's technically a location, like The Lonely Mountain in The Hobbit, but in most instances, this is also paired with another object. Even though travelling to the location is what matters to the larger context of the story, there's something specific there that means more than the place agnostically (in the Hobbit movies, for instance, the Arkenstone serves this purpose.) And in some instances, it's a nebulous, amorphous, cerebral concept. Beauty and the Beast sets up the rose and the Beast's curse, for instance, as the McGuffin driving the plot of the movie. This is where the line gets a bit hairy, since theoretically stories on that level don't have a McGuffin, but the truth of the matter is that most stories have one and it's probably good that they do. The power of a McGuffin, though, isn't the object/character/place/idea itself, however. It's that the characters in the story WANT it and they are striving to obtain it/control it/reach it/embody it. That driving motivation will always cue both the characters and the audience in the same direction. The goals are clear and resolute. What they want to achieve is clearly, definitively outlined (this is how Beauty and the Beast gets away with an idea McGuffin; it ties the ethereal nature of True Love into a tangible goal for the character to reach on a thorough timeline.) Because it's so specific, a McGuffin isn't open to interpretation. It is clear and direct. The more clear and direct the better, because the less confusion about the motivation of the characters and the direction of the story the better. I cannot overstate this point. If people tell you that your stories are confusing or convoluted, the easiest solve to that problem is to narrow down on a tangible McGuffin to revolve everything around. But I don't really think I've delivered on the complexity of McGuffins yet. Alright. Well, typically a McGuffin motivates both sides of a story, even more in more complex narratives. For instance, in Star Wars: A New Hope, the McGuffin is the Death Star plans that reside in R2-D2 and there are two actors: The Rebels and the Empire. That's about as bare bones as the McGuffin gets in a story. Two sides fighting over one thing. That said, this one is deceptive so we're going to come back to it later. Sometimes, the McGuffin in a story only motivates one side! Apocalypse Now has a McGuffin that's entirely one sided. The goal is Colonel Kurtz. He's in one spot far up the river, waiting to be reached by the crew of the river boat. There is no one pursuing them, just trials and tribulations to go through on their journey deeper and deeper into the jungle. Sometimes, there are many, many sides acting. Game of Thrones has ballooned to follow dozens of different characters, but most of them are motivated by one thing: The Iron Throne. While other McGuffins might fall in as necessary (Daenerys becomes the McGuffin for a number of characters in book 5) at the end of the day, most of the principle protagonists in that story are fighting for the Iron Throne. But I want to mention: if you're going to key the story to multiple McGuffins or give multiple protagonists route to one McGuffin, do not make any route similar to another. The Empire Strikes Back is a great example of this. The McGuffin in that movie is the Millenium Falcon, housing Leia, Chewie, and Han. Darth Vader and eventually Boba Fett pursue the Falcon early, giving chase and hunting them to Cloud City. Luke also hunts the Millenium Falcon, but only after training with Yoda on Dagobah does he realize he needs to go after them. By the time Luke is on their tail, Darth Vader has reached the City and his tactics have changed. He's now in possession of Luke's friends, and Luke needs to fight Vader to get them back. The first half of the story is a chase, the second half is a confrontation. This keeps the storytelling dynamic and makes sure you're not relying too much on one structure. A story also doesn't have to only have one McGuffin. In fact, layering in two or more typically has fantastic benefits. Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is superb at this: Barbossa's ghost pirates need both the last of the Aztec Gold and the blood of Will Turner in order to reverse the curse they're under. If they have one but not the other, they are doomed forever. This allows the plot to move and meander in a number of different ways: Will holds his own life hostage for leverage against the pirates, Elizabeth hiding under Will's same makes the pirates reconsider her value, Jack palms one of the Aztec gold pieces to curse himself for his swordfight with Barbossa. These small scale plot moments are incredibly valuable, because they allow the characters to bob and weave, dodge, evade and strike at one another using the clearly defined set of rules that the curse and the two requisite pieces require. The plot twists that come with Elizabeth, Will, Barbossa and Jack using and abusing the pair of McGuffins keep the audience engaged and interested, make sure the story doesn't get stale or boring, and communicates quickly and clearly some fairly complex plot maneuvering. More than one McGuffin can also decouple the motivations of the protagonists and the antagonists. In Mad Max: Fury Road, the protagonists are motivated by taking the War Rig to the Green Place, where they will be safe from Immortan Joe. Joe is motivated by getting his five wives back. Furiosa's McGuffin is a location, Joe's are characters. Making this kind of decision taps into what we were talking about before with The Empire Strikes Back. Giving your characters different McGuffins allows you to shape the story in a variety of different ways. Furiosa going after a locale means that she needs to move, values movement forward and is in danger when she slows down. The quality that defines her success or failure is, quite literally, velocity. Conversely, this means that Joe is also defined by his velocity; he needs to retake the War Rig in speed in order to get his wives back. But he's also defined by precision. Because he wants to get his goal with the five wives still living, he needs to rely on accuracy rather than brute force. We know that he is fundamentally stronger than Furiosa's War Rig, but the story hinges on the wives not being killed. Joe sabotages his own men and chase attempt when they're in danger, and he won't let them inflict collateral damage when it comes to getting Furiosa. Because the McGuffins are stacked against Joe this way, it allows Joe to be so much more obviously powerful than Furiosa's group. He's at a disadvantage when it comes to McGuffins, so he can be at an advantage when it comes to his power level. Additionally, because both McGuffins are defined by velocity, it underscores the nature of the movie: one giant car chase. So, we've covered a lot of ground when it comes to using McGuffins, but I want to address two quick categories of McGuffins before closing out. Even though Alfred Hitchcock created the McGuffin, he did not control it forever on into the future and there are two competing schools of thought when it comes to how to view the McGuffin in your story. The first, which we'll call the Hitchcock McGuffin, is basically empty. According to Hitchcock, the less the audience knows about the specifics of the McGuffin the better. In fact, keeping things entirely obscured (think the briefcase in Pulp Fiction) is for the best in your story. The valuable aspect of the McGuffin is that it motivates the characters, not whatever intrinsic value you'd give it by defining its terms explicitly. In this way, the more vague and obtuse you are about your McGuffin, the more you key your audience into the characters. If the only thing denoting the McGuffin's importance is the reflection of that importance on the characters seeking it out, the audience naturally needs to invest in the characters in order to move with the plot. This, as an experience, is engaging and endearing, naturally drawing the audience in with the tantalizing secrets of what lies within the box. This is the value of Hitchcock's McGuffin. Our boy George Lucas, however, saw things much differently. According to his perspective, the audience needs to know as much as possible about the McGuffin in order to properly get invested in the stakes of the story. A McGuffin needs to dramatically affect the trajectory of the plot in order to be valuable. A McGuffin that, once attained, has no bearing on the minute to minute of the story is a McGuffin that is unengaging. You can see the obvious effect of this in A New Hope (toldja we'd circle back) where the Death Star plans radically alter the course of the story. The Death Star plans are required by the Rebel Alliance in order to defeat the space station. Without it, they are doomed. With it, they can halt the Empire in its tracks. The Third Act of Star Wars is only achieved because the McGuffin reaches its goal and the Rebels acquire the plans. Conversely, if the Empire had defeated Luke, Leia, and Han, they would have been able to wipe the Rebels off the map. Either way, possession of the Death Star plans radically alters the story, and because the stakes of that possession are crystal clear to the audience, they're even more invested in how the plot of the story unfolds. I'm not going to make a call one way or another for which is better and which is worse. At the end of the day, I'm a fan of the latter perspective, especially because RP binds the characters in a story to the audience of a story, and so you can't have a character be motivated by something without the player playing it be motivated by that same thing. But, at the same time, the collaborative nature means that it's easy to have one character who knows what something does or can do, and the others be left in the dark. On top of that, you can always have uncovering the major McGuffin and how it works be a story element in and of itself. The Curse and Will Turner are only properly defined 45 minutes into Pirates so you get almost the best of both worlds. All in all, I'd recommend using the McGuffin to drive your story to specific places, points and goals. It's easy with RP to get caught up in the clouds, but having a goal that boils down to an item or a character or a location means that things will stay relatable, which is important, as well as clear. ======================================================================================== -McGuffins -Protagonist Types -Antagonist Types -Tropes/Cliches -Lorebreaking/Lorebending/Lorepolicing -Creating character arcs for characters you don't control -Creating stakes -The Six Components of a Story -Pathos/Ethos/Logos -"RP is small" -Clever Plot Tricks -"And then/But then" -Harmon Story Circle -Harmon TV Circle -A Plots/B Plots/Subplots -Character Arcs -Elements of Style, but for RP -Plot Points/Story Beats -Dialogue vs Emotes -Storyline vs Tavern RP
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  35. Daerek looked out across the visible part of the Vale. The Sha scarring was still present, but telltale signs of healing were there too—a sapling here, a crop of flowers there. For maybe the first time that Anee has seen, the mage looks at actual peace. “Silly people. If a cooking class is serious enough for them to fight over, they must have a pretty easy life.” She laughed softly, then looked at Daerek. He laughed easily. “Yeah, must be. I wonder what it’s like.” He chuckled again, looking to her with an easy grin before opening up his to-go box. “It’s quiet out here,” she says. “It is. You can tell there was a lot of…well, not quiet, not too long ago. But it’s recovered well, still is. And—“He pointed to the west. “There’s nothing like a sunset over that valley.” Anee narrowed her eyes, thinking. “I remember lots of fighting in this area. Garrosh went crazy, and we had to help save Orgrimmar. But now that everyone’s gone, I like it better here now.” She blinks, and then smiles at him again before starting on her dinner. “Were you a part of that?” he asked, surprised by the familiar use of “we.” “Well, I mean…ummm…. No, not me directly, but um, you know….the Alliance.” She looked out at the valley as she spoke, not looking at him. Then she turned back his direction, looking at his food. “How is it?” Daerek looked at her with an odd expression for a few seconds, looking like he wanted to say something—but instead just smiled and tried some of the braised turtle. He nodded slowly as he chewed with a “not bad” face. “I don’t think I’m gonna die from food poisoning tonight. How’d yours turn out?” Anee giggled at him, glad he took to the change of subject so easily. “That’s good. Mine tastes better than it looks, so I don’t think I’ll get food poisoning tonight either. At least not from this. Maybe I should save some for Buster.” “Maybe. The turtle might be better than the noodles for his stomach.” Daerek cut a little bit off from his own braised turtle and set it aside. “For Buster,” he explained with a laugh. “Think we can manage this on our own again?” “The noodles were pretty easy. I’m not sure about the turtle though. We could always try and find out. I hope we learn a fancy dessert next.” She grinned and licked her lips. I’ll be sure to ask when Miss Jojo teaches the desserts,” he said with a laugh. “We’ll make it a special point ot go on that night.” “Those other people might end up throwing it at each other if they’re fighting again.” She laughed, then tilted her head. "Speaking of food, have you seen Mr. Starseer lately? I don't think I've seen him since...." She holds up her left hand with the pinky stub. "I wonder what he did with my finger anyway." Daerek peered at her in thought before frowning. "No...I haven't seen him since he had that bounty on him, actually. The last we spoke, I think, he was going to go into hiding." "That's a shame. He was nice. I hope he's okay. Maybe he's just traveling with his Caravan," she said, but she sounded doubtful. "I'm sure he's fine. Tuuro seems to have a way about him to walk out of trouble like it's nothing." He laughed a little, trying to put her at ease. "Maybe we'll be able to track someone from the Caravan down and see how things are." "I'm sure you're right. He's pretty clever. And I bet his cards would warn him of any danger." Anee had no clue how his Tarot cards worked and probably gave them credit for more powers than they actually possessed. "Did he ever do a card reading for you?" "Maybe," he says. Daerek was pretty sure the cards don't work like that, but he's a mage, so who's to say they don't? "But no, he didn't. Never got around to it." "Oh, I thought you knew him for a long time." She finished her dinner and stacked up the containers. "Yeah, it's...it's been a few years now, I guess?" He tried to tally it in his head but gave it up pretty quick. "I guess there was just never really an opportunity. The first time I met him and the Caravan, we were in Dustwallow and I'd just lost my horse." He laughed. "Mostly in the Recluse since then. Once in the Valley of the Four Winds." Daerek finished up as well, collecting what garbage he had and squeezed everything into the largest box and wrapped up the bit of braised turtle in a napkin for Buster later. He jumped down and offered his hand again. "You lost your horse? In the swamp?" She frowned at the thought as she took his hand and jumped down. "Did you ever find him again?" Daerek led them towards a wastebin nearer to the main hall. "Yeah, I did. We were camped in Mudsprocket and something spooked her in the early morning. I had enough time to grab my bag and try to run after her...she jumped a low part of the fence there." He flushed red. "I...maybe didn't have time to put on all of my clothes, either. Don't...don't ever go around the swamp almost naked. It's not fun." He cleared his throat to try and get past the embarrassing memory. "I got lost trying to find her. Met Tuuroto's caravan later that night and joined them back to Mudsprocket. Right after they let us into the camp, I heard her." He grinned. "Bolted off--fully clothed this time, thank the Light--and found her safe and sound. I still don't know what spooked her." She managed, barely, not to laugh at the image of him running around the swamp naked, chasing a horse, but her amusement was obvious. "You're lucky she didn't get eaten. Or you! Or...maybe the bugs ate you, if you had no clothes on....?" She dropped her trash into the bin. "I'm glad you got her back." "I had welts for weeks," he confided. "It took me almost an hour to realize I wasn't wearing anything. I was too panicked. But my clothes had gotten soaked from leading her through the places I couldn't ride her, so..." He trailed off with a shrug, dropping off his own trash. "I think the worst part was having to fess up to the guards at the gate what had happened when I was trying to get back in with the caravan. I'd just met all these people and there was a really intimidating Sin'dorei with us and it was just..." He huffed an amused sigh. It was funny now that some time has passed. "Never again." Her amusement faded quickly as he described the ordeal. "That sounds awful! I guess it could have been much worse, but...." She shuddered. "There was a blood elf in Tuuro's Caravan?" He laughed. "It could have been. I'm glad it wasn't." He led them back to a spacious place, probably with the intent of creating another portal. "And I don't think he was in the Caravan. He just showed up, I think. Said he'd help guide us and help out if anything attacked. He seemed to already know Tuuro." "I don't like them," she said, crinkling her nose. "They're always so pretty and snobby and bossy and looking down their noses at everyone. They often have silly names though," she added, grinning. "What was that one's name? Something with Fire or Dawn in it probably?" "Eh, they don't bother me so much. Lots of people act like that, so I guess I got used to it." Daerek considered her question, wracking his brain for the memory of the elf's name. "No, it wasn't one of those...Z-something. I don't remember his last name, though. Red hair, leathers, so probably a rogue...Zaaaaanas?" Her step faltered, and she blinked a few times. "Zanas....." she muttered quietly. "Autumnvale." She remained still then, just staring at the ground, perhaps distracted by her thoughts. Daerek frowns at her, concerned. "Is...is he somebody else you know?" he asked slowly. She lifted her gaze to meet his before answering. "He.... I used to know him. A long time ago." "You knew a lot of people," he said quietly, offering her a small smile in hopes of setting her more at ease. She smiled back, though her smile was a bit sad. There weren't many people she missed from her former life, but there were a few. She shook her head. "Not anymore, not really." Then she looked forward again, to whatever destination they were walking toward. Daerek put his hand on her shoulder, giving it a squeeze. He didn’t say anything else either way. They came to a reasonably open area. A few people were around, but not many. "How about we head back and stop by a dessert shop on the way home?" he asked, already readying a spell for a return portal. She smiled at him at the mention of dessert. "That sounds good." "'kay." He smiled down at her and began channeling the portal spell. Nearby, a duel broke out between two men. One of them was clearly an amateur, or perhaps drunk, because his neon green spell went awry and nearly crashed through the portal. Daerek looked up with a scowl, and the man shouted a 'Sorry!' before going back to his duel. The portal itself seemed unharmed though. Tempted by the promise of dessert, Anee stepped through the portal, considering whether she'd choose pie or cake....or maybe a pudding. By the time Daerek and Anee stepped through it, they couldn’t see that the portal has started shifting. It was no longer keyed to Dalaran, having absorbed contrary magic--and when they arrived on the other side, it certainly wasn't to a kind place.
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  36. On the Pandaria side of the portal, Anee stepped through, and Daerek emerged shortly thereafter, turning to dismiss the portal. They’d arrived in the Shrine’s portal hub. People of all sorts milled about, either on their way to or from a portal, but it wasn’t as populated as it was a few short years ago. Nobody paid them any mind. “You could do it, you know,” Daerek said. “You’re smart. Learning magic like that is a lot of theory studying at first, but I think you could pick it up pretty quick.” He flashed her a smile. As per usual, his compliment was simple and genuine. She didn’t believe a word of it, though she didn’t doubt that he did. She knew she wasn’t smart enough for casting spells, but she smiled politely at him, appreciating the compliment nonetheless. “We’re headed towards one of the rooms off the side of the east wing,” Daerek said. “I’ll follow you. I don’t really know my way around here.” “Really? Oh, it’s great.” His enthusiasm was palpable. “I love it here. I came briefly during the Pandaria campaign—not with the militia or anything, but for the herbs—and they’re all so nice.” There was even a little spring in his step as he guided them around a few bends and down the stairwell into the main hall. “Obscenely so. It’s great. They’ll probably yell at us for being too skinny, though,” he said with a laugh. Anee walked close to Daerek, looking around at everything they passed. Without thinking about it, she placed her hand on his arm, so she could look around more without watching where she was going so much. She felt his arm tense briefly, but it relaxed again quickly. “Why are they all so nice? I mean, it’s pretty here, but does that make people nice?” Daerek tried to slow down his bouncing stride so that she could look around more and not miss as much. “It’s just something about the Pandaren culture. Something to do with the Sha, I think? Too many strong negative emotions could attract the Sha creatures—I don’t even know what they are other than physical manifestations of emotional energy—before this place was cleansed, so maybe they just learned to always be nice and happy.” He shrugged a little. Clearly history wasn’t really his forte. “Ohh, right, the big black cloudy monster things,” she said. “I remember them. They make you feel bad.” “Right, those things. I had a run-in with one, once. It us…wasn’t—well, obviously I’m still here and not possessed.” He laughed a little. “I’m glad it’s safer to visit now.” “Me too,” she agreed. “I mean, I haven’t visited here since then, but if it wasn’t safer now, we probably wouldn’t be taking cooking classes here.” “Absolutely not,” Daerek agreed. If he thought it odd she spoke of past visits to Pandaria but claimed to have never been to the Shrine of Seven Stars, he didn’t comment on it. “Here we go—in here.” He motioned for Anee to precede him into the chamber and followed her in. A few workstations were set up in the room. Each was large enough for two or three people to work at with plenty of room. The Pandaren were big on community, after all. A larger workstation was up front, and behind it was a rotund Pandaren woman in a chef’s hat and apron over a vibrant pink dress. She was busy looking over a selection of ingredients and tools. “Oh hello!” the woman greeted, offering a cheerful wave to the pair. “My first students of the night! Others should be coming soon, but make yourself comfortable. My name is Jojo.” She eyed them critically for a moment, the fur around her snout bristling, as Anee led them to the workstation furthest from the door. “I’m glad you are both here. Clearly you need to eat more. What better way to eat more than to cook more!” Anee gave Daerek a small grin. He had said they would be called too thin. She smiled at Jojo and introduced herself. “What are we learning to cook tonight?” “Ooh, I’m glad you asked, Miss Anee. Tonight, we are making Sea Mist Rice Noodles and Braised Turtle!” “That sounds complicated,” Anee said with a worried frown. “Have you ever had turtle?” Daerek whispered to Anee out of the corner of his mouth. She shook her head. “Have you?” “Oh no, dearie, it’s really not difficult at all!” the Pandaren woman favored Anee with a genial smile. “Don’t worry, Jojo will walk you through every step!” Anee nodded at the womand’s reassurances, but she didn’t look at all convinced. “Nope,” Daerek whispered. “But I’ve had the noodles. They’re great.” Each workstation was stocked with an ample supply of everything the student’s might need for the night’s lesson. All utensils looked to be well taken care of, and the knives were freshly sharpened. The produce and meat seemed to be fresh and of high quality. All in all, they were being set up for success rather than failure. Other students began filtering into the room, made up of several Alliance races. Jojo greeted every one of them with the same enthusiasm she did Anee and Daerek. Anee inched around the counter of the workstation without even really realizing it as the others came in. Daerek noticed her subtle movements, but didn’t comment on it. He just took it as Another Quirk About His Roommate and left it at that. Jojo took note of the girl’s movements too, but she’d seen enough adventuring types to know why the poor thing might feel the need to see the doorway. “Alright, students! Now that it looks like we’re all here, let’s begin….” The lesson from start to finish didn’t take more than a couple of hours. Jojo was a patient instructor, explaining how to do each and every thing the dishes required, what each utensil was for and how to use it, etc. At non-crucial moments, she even went into little tangents about other things the assorted ingredients could be used for. If the meals were successful, the students who cooked them were encouraged to take them home (or elsewhere) and enjoy them. If they weren’t, Miss Jojo made plenty to share and offered helpful advice on improving one’s technique. Either way, everyone in that room was going home with food. Anee looked quite pleased with her success. Though her dishes weren’t nearly as pretty as the instructor’s examples, she didn’t set anything on fire, so she was very happy. She looked over at Daerek’s food. “How did you do?” While Daerek was excellent at floral arrangements, he was absolutely awful at plating food in a way that makes it look aesthetically appealing. At her question, he dipped his fingertip into the rice noodle brother and took a taste. “Well, it looks like hell,” he laughed. “But it tastes okay.” His easy smile turned into a grin. “I told you you’d be fine.” “I guess it doesn’t matter if it looks bad, as long as it still tastes good.” She smiled at him, and then she started packing up her food to take home. “I guess we know what we’re having for dinner tonight.” He laughed and packed up his own meal. “Yeah. That’s another thing I like about the Pandaren—you never go hungry.” Miss Jojo scowled at a young couple a few tables over. They’d been bickering the whole time, and now that their plated meal has revealed itself as completely inedible, the bickering as reached a new level. “Stop it now, both of you!” Jojo said, hands on her hips and a glare in her pretty green eyes. “I won’t have this in my kitchen!” Daerek and Anee were both uncomfortable with the bickering and scolding going on in the room. Both avoided looking that direction and pretended not to notice. “The terrace has a nice view of the Vale if you want to eat out there,” Daerek offered. “But we can go back home too. It doesn’t matter.” “Um…okay,” Anee answered, distracted with trying not to notice the bad behavior of the ones arguing. “Wherever you want to eat is fine with me.” “Let’s eat out there, then,” he says quickly, eager to get away from the mounting tension in the room. The bickering couple were quiet and sullen now, but there was no telling if they’d start up again. Daerek waited until Anee was ready to go and then started leading them towards the outside terrace, keeping a leisurely pace in case she wanted to look around some more. “I hope they don’t argue every lesson,” Anee says as she followed him. She set her food down on the wall at the edge of the terrace and looked out at the view. “What were they fighting bout anyway? I didn’t hear what started it. Did you?” Daerek hopped up on the wall and settled himself cross-legged, offering a hand to Anee to help her up to sit beside him. “Sounded like they were fighting over what Miss Jojo meant for some steps,” he explained. “Didn’t look like either one of them were right at the end.”
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  37. Previously... The very air here felt oppressive. Sunlight filtering wanly through the boughs of water oaks. It was yellow and sickly, as if, after such a struggle to be seen, it was no longer the bright and wholesome thing it had begun the journey as. It was tainted, somehow. Changed. The great swamp trees grew crooked and wandering arms in all directions. Wet wood textured in rough bark hoisted a variety of life above the waterline. Mosses, insects and very rarely, the brief bloom of a flower could be seen cradled up there. Such beauty was never to be trusted, Chanchu knew. The tauren squatted in a nook of roots, patiently waiting. Crocolisks nearby went about their scaly business of croc-life without being bothered overmuch with her presence. They were masters here, a top-level predator similar in rank to her. If she did not trespass on them, they would in turn be respectful of her own power. The mosquitoes, however, simply adored her. The monk sat, highly irritated, wet on her bottom, itchy all over. What a ridiculous thing she was doing. How was it that Coqui had bullied her into bothering with this? Chanchu grumbled only internally. If she risked speaking aloud or betraying her position by moving, surely the pig she’d been tracking would scare. She needed the momma pig to be brave. If she scared off now, Chanchu might not be able to find the piglet on her own before the trappers did. The pig did scare, but not because of anything Chanchu did. Pigs were prey animals to begin with, and they tended to startle easily. The swooping survey of a large bird overhead sent the piggy mother headlong into flight for her own life. Chanchu rolled her eyes, cursing her luck. Here she’d been worried that she would have misjudged the attitudes of those crocs and one of them would have gotten snappy with her. Nope, just your average bird. Chanchu stood straight up among the roots. That had not been an average bird. It’s head lacked feathers. Vulture. The crippled monk snatched for her walking stick. She missed. Her knuckles smacked the tool instead, sending it careening into the stank water on the other side of the root. It disappeared beneath a surface layer of algae. Gone forever. “Gah, who needs you!” she screeched at it. The tauren vaulted over the root, aiming after the vulture. Carrion birds could, so the old hunters said, scent their meals from miles off, and they preferred fresh kills. A bird like that, so obviously lost, was on it’s way to wait for it’s dinner to get good and dead. How much was Chanchu gonna bet that bird was hoping for a little pork? She raced as fast as she dared, cutting her line dangerously close to where cranky crocolisk mothers nested. She tempted teeth with that, but gained valuable ground by avoiding the mucky spots and deep water. She also needed to rebound off the trees. At this pace, she relied more on momentum than actual grace of movement to keep her upright without the stick. Whoever heard of a cripple going on a pig hunt in the middle of a marshland? This was ridiculous. She found the piglet. It was bigger than expected, a juvenile already gaining the rounded growth of future tusks along the jawline and packing on the stoutness of adult shape. The young boar was lying partway up the side of a hill as far from the waterline as the chain would let him get. A wicked leghold trap clamped around his back end. One arc of the oversized jaws buried in the pig’s spine, and the other wedged under into his groin and belly. Chanchu actually stopped for a minute in horror, unable to fully process what she was looking at. Then the pig saw her, and grunted. He was still alive, and in great pain. “Merciful Mother,” Chanchu hopped across from her brace and fell to the mud before she reached the trap. The pig didn’t startle as she would have expected. She crawled the rest of the way, laid a dirty hand on his shoulder. He grunted again, but this time lacked the energy to look at her. Chanchu thought she could almost hear the plea in his porcine voice. Did he know she was there to help him? “Stay still, little piggy, I have to get you out first. I’m sorry, it’s going to hurt more, please don’t bite me.” Chanchu swung the small pack off her back. She had to shake her hand to clear mud from her fingers enough so they didn’t slip on the toggle, and once she had it she snatched the stupid clasp past the retaining knot in frustration. She flung the metal finding out into the marsh to rot. The pack got upended onto the soggy ground in order to more quickly access the clamps she needed. “See piggy, I have the stuff right here.” Chanchu opened a C clamp and fitted it over one of the trap’s wings. She spun the core down. The other wing was sticky-slick in pig blood. She had to reseat the clamp twice to get it right. Meanwhile the carrion birds gathered to watch. The great twisting boughs of the water oaks were soon alive with the movement of fluttering wings as the birds rearranged and jostled each other to make room for newcomers, but otherwise they observed silently. Chanchu hated them. She spun the clamps. It was easy, at first, but then the resistance and rust started to take it’s toll on her wrist. She switched hands. “I got you, piggy. You oink at them birds and tell them ‘not today’.” The pig grunted softly a few times. Chanchu twisted and twisted. She kept hearing noises that she could swear were not animal-made. A sloshing of the swamp water like hunters trudging up to check for their prize. The racking of a rifle. These were specific noises that surely she’d recognize if heard nearby for real, but imagination was a powerful thing when working amidst the heavy buzzing of insects and the rushing of our own blood through your ears. Finally the wing snapped clear of the jaws with a final twist on one side. Three more twists on the other. “Yes!” Chanchu pried at the trap jaws. They opened with a disgusting suction noise, and the pig screamed. This time it was not her imagination when she heard answering voices on the other side of the hill. The tauren sprawled herself over the pig, hugging him around the middle as she stuffed a hand to her pocket for her hearthstone. The hunters crested the hill just in time to see Chanchu’s clamp fail. Overmatched, the other C clamp was forcibly ejected from it’s position. Their trap snapped shut on empty air.
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  38. Pathos/Ethos/Logos are three greek words that I learned in college and have fallen in love with since. They're, of course, created by Aristotle, but he envisioned them by way of debate or persuasion. These were three terms that you used to convince somebody of something. From his perspective, you had: 1) Ethos: An appeal to someone's morality or ethics. You used this to establish your credibility or moral character. 2) Pathos: An appeal to someone's emotions. You used this to create an emotional response. 3) Logos: An appeal to logic. You used this to appeal to somebody's sense of reason. But! We're here to talk about storylines and storytelling, you say, not debate tactics! Well, then, sure you'd basically be kind of right. But just like the poetics, I redefine these terms a bit to fit my own meaning. In the same way that Pathos, Ethos and Logos are about persuading folks in a debate, Pathos, Ethos and Logos are about communicating with your audience in a story. In a general sense, your story, your plot, your characters are about communicating, right? It's all media, and media are the forms which our communication takes. But Pathos/Ethos/Logos are about specifics. They're the nitty gritty, the details that you include to inform the audience of very specific things, to accomplish very specific tasks. That's why they're important. Pathos Let's start with the most common of these. Pathos are the details that you include in order to get an emotional reaction out of your audience. Most of the time, these are details that endear us to the characters. They make us like the characters. When someone gets a really sad, relatable backstory, that's pathos working to get you invested and on board with this character and their experience. Technically speaking, that's not all the time. You can come at it from the opposite perspective, do kick the dog stuff, just there to show the audience how much someone is a douchenozzle? That's all Pathos, too. It wants to trade on the audience's understanding "cute dogs are great and shouldn't be kicked" to cash out the hatebucks. It arouses anger and disgust, right? Pathos. But on the whole, when Pathos gets mentioned, it's about other emotions. When you learn the cop investigating the crime scene is two days away from retirement? That's Pathos. When he talks about how much he loves his little daughter, and he can't wait to spend more time with her? When he talks about feeling bad for his wife, and how great it's going to be that she won't have to worry about him anymore? All of this is pathos, they're the details that, when this cop predictably dies, sets off the chain reaction of empathetic sadness inside the audience. Sure, a character dying is sad, the right music? The right story context? Definitely. But when you add in all of this pathos on top of it, you're getting a heightened reaction out of your audience, something more from them. That's the function of pathos. Are you a big fan of the opening scene of Up? Well, that whole bit was an exercise in MAXIMUM PATHOS OVERLOAD. I don't actually want to downplay the importance of the music and the framing, by the way, because I think the wide screen, music only form of presenting that story is important to getting the pathos to work on you, but the core of it are the tangible details that evoke the emotion. Breaking the glass jar all the time and putting their dreams on hold. Seeing their excitement leading up to the birth of their child. Watching them paint the house that you know they grow old in. This is the fuel. (Also, future post topic: perspective and framing in your writing, it ties into what I said earlier.) I'm a big fan of using pathos on minor characters, to try and get you invested in them. Not even like supporting characters, mind you, I'm talking the NPCs running around in the background of your story. A lot of players running stories don't give these guys much. They're window dressing, mechanical units performing some function or another, taking the letter from here to there, performing whatever small task the big guns need them to. But you can get a ton of mileage just giving these characters some details to work with, things that turn them, if not into true characters in their own right, into something unique and memorable. They don't really have wants or needs or flaws or goals in the same way that other characters do, but they do have a few baseline personality traits. Super simple stuff, very straightforward, but something to latch onto. I call this "texture" in a lot of instances because it's about altering the feel of the character in the mind of your audience more so than anything else. You want them to pick this minor dude up and turn him over in their hands, remember him, understand who he is just a bit, why he exists. Names are a part of this, too, by the way. In fact, just to indulge this exercise a bit, let's imagine you're playing your rogue and while you're walking through Stormwind pickpocketing people, a member of the Stormwind City Guard gets your attention. You read his name tag. Just the single word of what his name is will provide you some texture, something to go on when it comes to implanting a thought or mood or emotion into the brain of the audience. If the SCG is named Officer Jimmy, that implies a friendly, low key, down to earth name. He doesn't go by James, he goes by Jimmy, and he isn't Officer Last Name, he's officer First Name. That kind of stuff, even subconsciously, hits the reader a certain way. If the SCG is named Officer Cunningham, all of a sudden, he stands a little straighter in the mind of your audience. He probably adopts a posh, southern english accent, even if you don't give him one to his words. To the audience, names like Cunningham imply that kind of upper class nobility. If the SCG is named Officer Schraeder, all of a sudden you might see that he takes on a harsher light. A name like that implies something more draconian, maybe. The point being: Pathos is in the fine print. It's the emotional building blocks of the bigger, badder concepts like "character investment" or "characterization." These things are bigger than pathos and you're not going to get a well rounded character out of pathos alone, but if you want to get people invested emotionally into a character, pathos is the tool for the job. Ethos Alright, so if pathos is the set of details that you use to interact with the emotions of the audience, Ethos is the set of details that you use to interact with the morality and principles of the audience. When you walk out of Schindler's List understanding that genocide is evil and people shouldn't be treated that way, congrats, the movie has successfully imparted its ethos to you. It's important to note that ethos applies to more things than pathos does. While pathos resides almost entirely with the characters because its chief concern is character investment, ethos exists simultaneously with the themes of a story and with the characters of the story. In other words, a story will have an "ethos" (Schindler's List is about the horrors and evil of genocide) and the characters inside the story will also have an ethos (Oscar Schindler believes that Jews are people and should be protected from the Nazis; Amon Goeth believes that Jews are subhuman and responsible for the downfall of the German people, and therefore should be eradicated.) These two characters inside the film also have an ethos that drives them. Schindler's List, like many films, pits the ethos of two different characters against one another (typically protagonist and antagonist) and then telegraphs to you that one is correct and the other incorrect. When Oscar Schindler is regarded as a hero and Goeth executed as a villain, the story of that film is adopting Oscar's ethos as its own. That said, not everything has to come down like this and you can build out the ethos of your story in many different ways. Characters will always be the fuel of your story's ethos (9 times out of 10 your story's ethos will be built on a foundation of dialogue) but it's just as common to synergize a whole group of characters' ethos into your story's overall themes (Lord of the Rings is a good example of this.) But no matter who you are or what you're writing, your story will always have to have a point to it, some themes, and you'll need to use ethos as your building blocks to get there. Ethos from the perspective of a character is intrinsically tied to motivation. When you're trying to explain why a character is the way he is and acts the way he acts, you're going to include details that informs that character's particular mindset. Those details will be that character's ethos. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the time this will translate 1:1 with that character's morality or ethics. Captain America's ethics can be boiled down to four words: "I don't like bullies." When Captain America says those four words in the first few scenes of his movie, that moment is his ethos being built. Being shown to us. That line being included in the movie is the story explaining Cap's ethics with that one detail. Villains very commonly get big speeches, typically as they're facing off against the hero in the third act somewhere, explaining their ethos to the audience and the hero simultaneously. These kinds of moments are incredibly important. As long as your villain is a character, a real character, a real antagonist, you'll need to give them a moment like this where they get to break down why they're doing what they're doing. This ethos moment for a villain will typically come later and either explain why the villain has been acting the way he's been acting (General Zod in Man of Steel shows up genocidal, and we only learn later that he is so because of his devotion to his planet and its people.) Sometimes, though, it'll be used to showcase the villain's ethos changing (the "Tempest Keep was merely a setback" speech is one of these. Kael'thas is demonstrating in real time why he's chosen to reinvest in his flawed path at the service of the Legion. Villains that warp themselves in a last ditch attempt to defeat the heroes also fall in line with this.) Because villains/antagonists are defined by their inability to correct on their flaws and better themselves, typically this is the spot where you get to tell the audience "this guy refuses to admit that he made a mistake and instead doubles down on whatever fallacious logic he's been using up until this point." When you tell them that? Congratulations, that's the character's ethos. Finding your story's ethos is a bit more than just the character's, though. Typically, the story will show one character winning and another losing, and implicitly take down the loser's ethos. When Luke Skywalker defeats Darth Vader, it's implicitly a symbolic victory: fear and oppression are no match for hope, love and freedom. When it comes to this kind of structure, keep in mind what your characters believe and what they represent. Keep track of their flaws and why they had to correct upon them. When Han Solo learns that there are more things that are valuable to him than just money and saves his friend from Darth Vader, the story gains that theme from his ethos. Any time a character changes and succeeds, it creates a powerful thematic relationship: the thing they changed directly lead to them becoming more successful. If you think about your theming from a top down perspective, learn to use this structure to fuel your themes. Just like Pathos is the emotional building block of investment and characterization, ethos is the moral building block of both. When you bunch all these little instances of ethos together, you'll end up with a big ol' ball of themes. If you're particularly good about your ethos, you'll line up a set of nuanced characters filling out one generalized ethos and have all the characters play into that singular concept, just representing different shades of it. If you can weave together the ethos of multiple characters into one, core message, you're top of the line. Logos Alright, last but not least we have Logos. Like Ethos, Logos gets used by two facets of your story simultaneously, so the same kind of interaction applies as before. In general though, when you're using Logos, you're trying to prove to the audience the logic of the story that you're telling. Good logos means that you're keeping up with the details of your stories, making sure what you're doing is consistent with your world and the characters that inhabit it. Bad logos means that decisions are rarely motivated and the architecture of your story is fundamentally obvious and predictable. Logos for a plot is actually a ton of little kinds of things. If you've ever heard of the term, "hang a lampshade" in a story, then you've seen one specific kind of logos. These things are the little details and tools that you include in your story in order to make sure that all of the logic inside of the story hangs together. Let's say your story is a crime thriller and the protagonist is a security guard in over his head against a cadre of master thieves. When you have his sidekick ask the guard why he doesn't just call the police, for no other purpose than for the guard to explain that the bad guys cut the phone lines? That's logos. When the victims of a slasher movie can't get cell phone reception? That's logos. It's addressing potential problems in the text of the story so that the audience doesn't start asking them. Logos in plot also works the other way around, when you take a bit of time early to set up something that's going to be coming down the pike at a later date. Chekhov's gun, where you call attention to a detail or object because you intend to use it later down the line? That's an instance of logos working proactively. If you have a minor villain make an ominous threat before biting down on cyanide? Also, proactive logos.I do want to mention here that big stuff, plot changing stuff, things that radically alter the course of the narrative? Those things are outside of the scope of what I use to describe logos. R2-D2 showing the hologram of Leia to Luke isn't logos foreshadowing their future meeting. It's a plot point that encourages Luke to dramatically upend his life and go on this quest with Obi-Wan to the other end of the galaxy. Logos is like wood filler, something that you use to fill in the gaps of your story's more titanic moving pieces. It's the cartilage that prevents your story from getting arthritis and rubbing the audience the wrong way. When it comes to character, Logos is used to explain motivation in a very direct sense (as opposed to ethos, which explains motivation in an abstract sense.) When a character explains why he's taking the specific course of action he's taking ("We need to take the Mines of Moria because Saruman is storming Caradhras so we can't pass there") that's a bit of logos. It's a small detail that allows you to explain to the audience how and why the character is interfacing with the plot in the specific way that he is. This sort of thing can also be the specific explanation for how the character is going about solving their problems and accomplishing their goals ("Aladdin explain to the genie that he wants to become Prince Ali to impress Jasmine.") The thing that I want to stress here and when Logos interacts with character, is that the important bit is the explaining, not anything else. In Iron Man, for instance, Tony sets to work building his new set of armor almost immediately, and he does so because he hates the vulnerability that he felt in the cave. But that's all subtext, it's never something that he explicitly says, out loud, to another character in the movie. Logos comes in the overt addressing of the character's course of action, because it's about direct communication with the audience: "This is why the character wants to do what he's doing." That's the essence of Logos. In Conclusion Pathos, Ethos, and Logos are about communicating, and most commonly, they're about smoothing over holes that the overarching story leaves behind. Is your character lacking emotionality, do you fear that your audience won't connect with them? Add in some Pathos and give him the details he needs to get the audience invested in him and his struggles. Is the idealogy of your character murky and their overall motivation and goal unclear? Add in some Ethos to show the audience what makes this character tick. Is the connective tissue of your characters lacking? Is it not quite clear what your characters' plans are? Are there nagging questions hanging over the narrative that you need to answer? Add in some Logos and make sure that it's clear for the story where your characters are heading and that all possibilities have been reasonably thought through. The very very last thing I want to say about these three is: Pathos/Ethos/Logos are not load bearing. You cannot prop up your story on these things. If you have flat characters, a predictable plot, trite themes? No amount of any of those will save you. It's polish, it's something that you can use to fill in the inevitable holes your story will accrue, but you won't find me recommending you try and build your whole table just with wood filler. Pathos, Ethos and Logos are not action. They are not plot points. They do not drive your story. The more you shove in there, the more you'll slow everything down, and making sure that you don't end up hitting a snail's pace because you're getting lost in the details of all your characters will probably be difficult. But it's necessary, because there are a lot of diminishing returns to these and overusing them will just frustrate the audience you're trying to inform. ======================================================================================================= Well, that took longer than expected (mostly because I was on vacation) but also because this topic became much longer than I anticipated! I, as always, learned more about things I want to touch on later, so I've added some things to the list. Otherwise, if you have any requests between now and maybe saturday morning(?) when I start the next entry, hit me up. -McGuffins -Protagonist Types -Antagonist Types -Tropes/Cliches -Lorebreaking/Lorebending/Lorepolicing -Creating character arcs for characters you don't control -Creating stakes -The Six Components of a Story -Pathos/Ethos/Logos -"RP is small" -Clever Plot Tricks -"And then/But then" -Harmon Story Circle -Harmon TV Circle -A Plots/B Plots/Subplots -Character Arcs -Elements of Style, but for RP -Plot Points/Story Beats -Dialogue vs Emotes -Storyline vs Tavern RP
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  39. Kalisto, the vexing demon hunter(?) Pose from a stock photo.
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