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  1. 4 points
    "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!
  2. 4 points
    Rules: 1. Roll a 100 sided die (can be done digitally) 2. Your (main) character is now the race dictated by the results of your roll. If you roll your current race, you must re-roll. The point is, after all, to write something different! 3. Write a short story (500 - 2000 words, or 1-4 standard pages) involving your main character as this new race, and how he fits with the Horde or Alliance. Does being another race change your character's personality? Does it change their objectives? If the race they are changed to does not allow for the same class they were originally, how does that change your character? What aspects remain at the heart of your character that will translate if they are another race entirely? Note: Participants can write up to 2 stories to enter into the contest. 4. Post your story as its own separate thread with the tag (Race Bending Contest) in the title. Ex. Minny Fibblebottom's Lucky Day (Race Bending Contest) Example: Vilmah Bloodborne is an orc. I roll the die and get a 75. Suddenly she is a tauren! I write a short story about Vilmah the tauren, while utilizing her personality but in a completely different context. I also include (with the story) a short description of the original character, to offer some context for readers unfamiliar with them. Note: This description of your original character does not count toward the character limit of the short story. 1 - 7 Dwarves 8 - 15 Orcs 16 - 23 Gnomes 24 - 31 Goblins 32 - 39 Humans 40 - 47 Trolls 48 - 55 Night elves 56 - 63 Pandaren 64 - 71 Draenei 72 - 79 Tauren 80 - 87 Worgen 88 - 95 Forsaken 96 - 100 Blood Elves The 1st place winner will receive 10k g in prize money in-game, with 2nd and 3rd place winning 5k g and 3k g respectively. The deadline is Sept. 1st. The winners will be chosen by Sanctuary (H), Twilight Empire (A), Borrowed Time (H) and Night Vanguard (A) representatives by September 7th. Good luck!
  3. 4 points
    Qabian was working at his desk when a small pale blue crystal he had set to one side dimmed. He sighed, watching as the light went out of it completely, then a crack formed through its center, then it dissolved into dust. "So much for that," he muttered, making a space to arrange agreed-upon hazard pay. Later, he made a trip to Dalaran. As much as he wanted to talk to the thief himself, he knew that couldn't happen. There was still too much heat in the city. However, he did manage to find one of the legitimate Kirin Tor guards involved in apprethending the thief, pull them to one side, and inquire into details. Back in Silvermoon, he sat down to write a letter. Syreena, I have succeeded in making her afraid. That took very little effort. Simply inquiring into her existence and a few small threats were enough to send her on the run. Unfortunately, finding information that would lead to easily causing further misery has been far more difficult than I expected. She does not fit into the predictable pattern most ordinary humans fit. I do not believe I have yet succeeded in causing her actual harm. I may need to back off long enough for her to think she is safe to come out of hiding if my resources prove insufficient to track her down. In the meantime, I will see about causing harm indirectly through those she is connected to. I've also been told to relay the message that you're a bully. These people are children. ~Q
  4. 4 points
    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! ))
  5. 4 points
    “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.”
  6. 4 points
    The Coldstar Cantina: Back in business After a long hiatus the Coldstar Cantina is re-opening! Come find us at Wyvern's Tail in Orgrimmar. Now serving on Saturdays at 7:30! In honor of our re-opening, first drink is on the house. Come drink to the Legion's fall and enjoy a variety of liquors and non-alcoholic beverages that put our competitors to shame! When: Saturdays at 7:30 P.M. (Server) Where: Wyvern's tail, Orgrimmar
  7. 3 points
    A wonder that the Nightborne joined the Horde, Kex'ti Dalendala thought to himself. Telemancy has certainly made getting around easier. He hated portal magic. It always left him nauseated for hours, and for a man of his size, it was a deeply unpleasant experience. The elf monk hobbled through the moor, his boots slick with grime. He could sense the chi of nothing living. But in Tirisfal Glades, dead rarely meant gone. Rarer still did it mean non-hostile. He'd run off the drink from the morning while he rode his raptor from Ratchet to the Crossroads. From there, a wyvern flew him to Orgrimmar, and from there, a portal to the Undercity had brought him to Lordaeron. The sky here always felt low to the ground. Nowhere else on Azeroth, even Northrend, had ever felt so oppressive. The way that fog and cobwebs mixed in the sparse pines did little to relieve the feeling of slow suffocation. He shuddered, and pulled his coat closer. He'd left his armor, or most of it, in the bank of Ratchet. Now, part of him wished he'd brought something, anything besides his stubbornness as protection along on the journey. He carried his staff and limped along with it in one hand, and cradled a small box in the crook of the other. He put his foot on a stone, and heard a voice rasp from the mist. "Not many quick out here, sin'dorei." With a smirk and a chuckle, Kex'ti locked eyes with the glowing yellows of the Forsaken. "Do not worry, friend. I promise that I will keep moving for some time to come." He'd expected a laugh, and received a grunt. Kex'ti took a deep breath of the rot that surrounded him. I suppose I am a slower learner than I would like in lowering my expectations, he thought. "I am here to visit a grave." "Why?" asked the graveguard. Now that he'd arrived, he found he'd never really considered that. This just felt like the right thing to do. "It felt like the right thing to do," he said. The guard lit a lantern. The graveyard flickered in the wan light as the oil spattered against the glass and iron cage. It wasn't nightfall yet, but that made little difference. The lantern was for his benefit, and it sufficed as permission. Kex'ti nodded to the guard, a Forsaken man in dark leathers, a deep hood, and with two wicked scimitars that hung on hooks from his belt. "Augustus Krowne?" The elf asked the undead. The guard moved. The soles of his boots whispered against the peaty soil. The grave was covered in growth. Kex'ti raised an eyebrow to the guard. The Forsaken responded by setting the lantern by the tombstone. "I'm a guard," he answered, "not a groundskeeper." Kex'ti nodded, and knelt. He had worn gloves, and buckled the magewoven coat closer. The wool in the coat would keep him warm, at least. His stomach growled. He knew he wouldn't be eating for a while, given the... Strong flavors preferred by the residents of Tirisfal. The monk removed his gloves, and laid them on the chest he'd carried along. He gripped the moss and branches wrapping the grave, and began to tear them loose. The guard stayed close, and offered no help. A blade would've made the process simple, but Kex'ti wanted to do this manually. He wanted to pull the roots loose, he wanted to work his skin raw, he wanted to feel the mists tingle and itch as he knit and tore and reknit the skin and blood on his hands as the thorns of the vine gnashed into his hands. Hands that had gripped reins of cloud serpents and nether rays. That reached out for people falling away. That had choked the life from a sin'dorei scout in the wrong place. That had maimed, crippled, and killed for sport, for justice, and in madness. Hands which had healed the wounded, that had caressed the skins of the few people he'd loved, and had gripped hands with his closest friends. He didn't want to feel that. He wanted to feel his hands hurt, he wanted to remember the pain of his pinky being bitten loose. He wanted to hurt. He just didn't want to be left alone with it. And who could listen like the dead? He wove the mists into his raw and sliced fingers and palms, channeling chi to the wounds, mending them, and feeling the burn as he stole the life from the bacteria that would try to thrive at his expense. A touch of gray leaked into the spiritual matter from the surrounding mist. The monk rolled his hands, feeling the joints crack. He coughed, but couldn't taste blood. That was good, at least. He reached over to the box, undid the latch, and pulled out a wineskin. He poured it over the grave, the firewater washing off his own blood, the dust of the years since the Wrathgate. "I am sorry, Aug. I know you were more of a wine or a beer guy," Kex'ti whispered in Thalassian. "I can, at least, try to speak your own tongue," Kex'ti said, in halting gutterspeak. He smiled. "Yeah, I know. You always used to say you were a poet before you were an alchemist, and that just happened to be the tongue they put in your mouth." Kex'ti sat into the dirt. The coat would be dirty. So what? He clipped his words, flowing between whatever he knew, whether Krowne would speak it or not. "I wonder if that was the excuse you used: someone put words in your mouth. Aug, I've had a bit of a trip since I dragged you out of that quagmire." "You were right there, but it was like you couldn't decide if you wanted to throw that vial at me, or Putress' defectors. I still don't know why you did that. I would've thought that our time together would've been enough to help you make your choice. Maybe I should've given you the chance. But I didn't want you to go on like that. I didn't want to die like that, and I didn't want your memory to just get...stained like that." "But I wonder, if you just let something go on, does that actually make it better? Did I save you a lot of suffering? Or did I deny you the chance to fix it?" "I think about that a lot. I did up until recently, anyway." "There's a woman. Not... That kind. A Forsaken. Her name is Syreena. She's one of those I can never figure out. For a long time, I'd hoped that patience, a stern hand, might lead her to a nobler path. I mean, I think that's how my life worked. Or how I thought it did. You pulled me out of Silvermoon. Remi helped me see a bigger picture. But... Without the two of you..." Kex'ti looked at his hands, the crisscrossed scars of years of fighting, and the scratches he'd tried to erase with mistweaving. "Have I ever really been my own person? Is that really what I've wanted? Before you, I always listened to mother and father, and they never really gave me much hope. You gave me a chance to do something different, but when I left to go out on my own, I wasn't even alone then. I was doing it for someone else." "Maybe I just make bad decisions when it involves myself." He glanced down to the firewater. "I had my last drink this morning. Or, at least last one for a while. I know what happens when I try and distract myself, whether it's with drugs, or a cause, or just combat. I make bad choices. I hurt people. And... I can't keep doing that. Nobody else deserves to live with that but me." Kex'ti looked up at the sky, or Krowne's presence above, or just to avoid looking at the tombstone. He turned back to find the guard gone, or lurking. What did it matter? The guard could attack him, report the story, or do nothing. Making a mess to be cleaned up later, Kex'ti went on with his monologue. "I ran away, again." "After the Wrathgate, I went to go be with Remiaan, at the Argent Tournament. She died, so I ran away. I went and found a place in the Twilight's Hammer. I can spare you those stories. It was... I may have been selfish in the Arena. I may have been heartbroken when I lost you. When I lost Rem. But what I did to dull that pain... That's what haunts me. That's what makes me wish I just wasn't... Alive, or aware, or whatever oblivion means." He smirked. "That's kind of the sick bit of it. I got exactly what I wanted, there. I didn't have to think about what I was doing. I didn't have to look behind the curtain. I was behind the curtain, and in the dark, you don't really care about it. When someone pulls the curtain aside, it's not what's hidden that you look in on that scars you. It's not what's lurking in the dark. It's that when someone lets the light in, you can see what you've actually been doing, when you've been just doing it blindly, or doing it without much fear." "The horrible thing is that the ignorance is what I miss most. It's not that the truths the Twilight's Hammer and Old Gods preach that burn the mind, or make you hopeless. It's just that when you're following along, they don't matter. You don't matter. You're just matter." He coughed and took a sip from his jug, unknotting a piece of twine he'd tied around it. Without Zhanhao's yao grass, he'd need to go back to Pandaria for it. The twine would remind him when he needed to restock. "That's what scares me most about the Void, I think. Is that knowledge that it's exactly what I wanted: to be nothing. To think nothing. To feel nothing. From nothing, you can be anything. Instead of a cripple. Instead of sick. Instead of a murderer. Instead of a coward." He rested a hand on the tombstone. "I'm sorry you're dead, August. I'm sorry I didn't make good on the life you gave me," he said. "I'm sorry I killed you. I'm sorry.... I didn't make good on either of our lives." Kex'ti rubbed his face. "After that... I just went back to Ratchet. That's where life got good for me, I think. Where we started winning fights. Where I stopped being just a sick kid in Silvermoon. I think that's why I'll always go back there, because it's where I can start over. I've gotten really good at starting over. It's not a fun skill to have." He told the grave about how he met Wei Xo. How he traveled to Pandaria, and made his medicine with the help of Yu-Ting. How he came down the mountain reborn as a mistweaver, and he met Baern Grimtotem, Tauranor, Billamong, and Rabbic Ohen in the Thunder-Pan company. How being an actual mercenary taught him to think as a member of a group, rather than just a small group. How he'd gone to Draenor in hopes of a second chance with Remiaan. How he'd ended up in Sanctuary instead. He smiled, and recounted stories of Vilmah, Cerryan, Nojinbu, and Baern, now Baern Ashtotem. "Those were the best years of my life, August. The time with you, then with Rem, those were great. But Sanctuary... I felt happy. Like I had purpose." He smiled, but his eyes clenched bittersweet. "I knew an orc woman. I saw a lot of myself in her. I hoped that I could help her, that I could push her off the path I'd walked, and spare her the suffering. But..." He coughed. "Sometimes I wonder if me being sick was a sign from the universe. That I'm so poisonous that I can't even live with myself. Sanctuary went to... I guess you'd call it a war. Against a corrupted ancient named Accalia. Twice, in fact. The first time, I had a nightmare. A long, long nightmare. And the thing that I remember is that it was drawn out from myself: It was my fears. My worries, my anxieties, put on display to torment me. I... I remember bits of it, now and then. But what I always remember is that, somewhere in it, I told myself that 'I'm poison.'" "I couldn't keep Shokkra from making the choices she makes. That are so close to the ones I've made, and are going to be just as destructive." "I fought against the Legion, the last year. I helped the victims of a place called Suramar. The elves there were similar to the Sin'dorei, but descended more directly from the kaldorei. I spent a little time on Argus, too, believe it or not." He gripped his hands together. "I met a woman. I fell in love. And, she gave me part of her life, to save me from my illness. There's a lot to love about her. But part of that love is... I destroyed Remi. I destroyed you, and I've destroyed myself and countless others. She made a choice, recently, that she would give trust to those who needed it. I think they're far from deserving it. I think they'll fail. I think they'll fall to madness and worse. But trust? They need that. I know I did. I failed to go where I wanted. But everyone gave me a chance to try." "She trusted them. But I never could. I... Never can. They associated with the Void, and that association was too tempting to ignore. And after everything, I can't make the same choices I've made. When she made that choice, I was angry. I still am, and I'm still hurt that... It felt like my pain was ignored. But pain passes. Pain can heal. It just won't heal in time to make a difference. But part of me has always known what her choices meant for me." "I never stopped loving her. I don't think I can, and I think it would be wrong to try. But that love means I'm not going to destroy her. I'm not going to poison anything else." "Once you acquire a taste for poison, it's a part of you. I might destroy myself, over, and over, and over again. But, this time, I won't drag anyone else into the Void with me."
  8. 3 points
    Qabian stepped into Shattrath, his brow pre-emptively raised as he approached the girl's form, slumped awkwardly up against a wall not far from where he teleported in, as though she were simply drunk. He hadn't thought they would actually catch the girl. She had been so slippery up to this point, he just assumed she would get away again. Now that he had her, he wasn't entirely sure what to do with her. His mission was simply to torment, hurt, terrorize, not acquire, not dismember. He considered thoughtfully. Dismemberment would fill all of the above categories. Qabian shook his head entirely to himself, then nodded at the rough looking Pandaren. "Pack her up." "Sir?" The Pandaren seemed confused. "Don't you have a... crate or something? I need her shipped to Tirisfal." Qabian held up a hand as the Pandaren shrugged helplessly. "Nevermind. Just stand guard a few minutes. I'll set it up. Good work. I'll double the pay, as agreed." The Pandaren nodded and leaned back against the wall. ~~ Just inside the Grim guild hall, Qabian awkwardly shoves a decent-sized wooden crate off a floating disc onto the floor with a heavy thud. He stops the first person who passes and says, "Is Syreena around? Bring her here if she is. Now." Though the crate is perfectly still, it makes a soft shuffling sound. Some time later, Syreena arrives. Her steps are shuffling and staggered, and she's grinning as she plays tug-of-war with Ber and Rabble as she comes in. "No fair, Rabble. You have three heads to pull it with!" Qabian straightens up as she enters. "Syreena. Delivery for you. I could continue my campaign, but thought you might want to offer your opinion before I drop this into Brightwater and see how long it takes the bubbles to stop,” he says, knocking on the top of the crate with his knuckles. The little rogue leaves the tug toy to the undead worg and hydra and turns to the crate as a muffled noise comes in protest at Qabian's words. "What is it?" she asks, looking to the mage. Qabian lifts the top of the crate by one corner and bows with a ridiculous flourish. "Someone you know." Inside, a human girl is bound and gagged, conscious but groggy, and not particularly otherwise harmed, except perhaps slightly bruised due to no one particularly attempting to be careful with the crate at any point. "The opportunity presented itself." Syreena tilts her head curiously, stepping away from her pets to peer into the crate. After some initial surprise, a cruel grin twists her patchwork stitched features. She reaches into the box with a dagger, placing the tip of the blade under the girl's chin to make her lift her head. "Well, well, if it isn't the Professor's little pet," she croons wickedly. "And how are those sick and twisted friends of yours doing these days, hm?" Anee blinks slowly, still groggy, and makes weak muffled noises behind her gag. Syreena moves her blade to cut a lock of the human's red hair, and then bashes her in the side of the head with the hilt of her dagger in her fist. As the girls slumps further into her box, the Shadowblade looks back at Qabian. "Now what to do with her....." she says with a grin, twirling the lock of hair between her fingers. "I know this wasn't part of your... request. I can set her loose, chase her down again, if you like, keep the game going, although she did manage to go underground for quite some time and may do that again. I do wonder where she would go. She must be learning that nowhere is safe forever and that everyone she turns to for help is likely to be killed or worse. Setting her free, perhaps with one less limb, may be the worst thing we could do to her." Qabian smirks. "But given just how vulnerable she is at this precise moment, I considered you might have other ideas." Reaching down to pet the girl's hair, Syreena tilts her head as she considers. "Well, I do owe a gift to a particular someone who likes making....'projects'....out of people." Qabian raises an eyebrow. To be fair, that could probably describe several Grim, but he decides against inquiring about who she means. “As you wish,” he says. “Just let me know if she ends up finished with this world. Then I’ll shift my focus to murdering those friends of hers that I’ve left simply wishing they were dead.” "She won't be around long enough for you to worry about again." A pause, and then she grins. "Unless you want to play with her some more first. Or you can get her friends." Her golden eyes narrow as she traces a finger along the unconscious girl's ear. "If you find any of her friends from the Eternal Aegis, I'd consider it a personal favor if they suffer horribly before you murder them." Qabian laughs. "All I want is the fire, for her or any of them. I'll be sure to let them know any screaming they're granted the opportunity to do is a gift from a friend and they're oh so lucky to get the chance. Will you need help with the crate?" "Can you have it delivered to Andorhal?" she asks, withdrawing her hand and closing the lid again. "Absolutely." Qabian rolls the disc he'd used earlier off a nearby wall. He jams the edge of the disc under the crate and begins kicking it. It's all very crude for someone who's usually so pretentious. "I can take it myself. Will there be someone waiting? Though I doubt there are many in Andorhal who would give it much thought if I just leave it in a corner, even with the sounds." She tilts her head again, eyeing him closely before finally answering. "The alchemy lab there sometimes receives packages for me... Thank you. I owe you," she adds. He grins horribly as he kicks the edge of the disc and it begins to float, carrying the crate a foot or so off the ground. "Don't thank me. After all, helping you helps me. I'm hardly being that generous," he says in a tone that's less than serious. "But I will remember that you owe me." He flicks the floating crate lightly with one hand and he follows behind as the disc carries it away. The little rogue watches him leave. She's pleased that the girl can no longer cause any trouble for her, but at the same time, she's not thrilled about being in a debt to an elf. However, at the same time, in her experience, people she owed favors to rarely called them in. Turning away, she goes off to finish her business in the guild hall so she can soon head out to Andorhal.
  9. 3 points
    Espionage is never simple. Whatever you are trying to get from your enemies, someone on your side is simply waiting for an opportunity to give to them. Back when Kael'thas was still a force to be reckoned with, Qabian played the double agent game consistently and not always smoothly, but he recognized early which side was going to win, and he refused to go down with the ship. With the current state of the Horde, there were many and more who would like to see Sylvanas knocked off her pedestal, but Qabian was not one of them. He had his issues with her, but compared to his issues with Thrall and Garrosh, they were minimal. His days of playing the Horde against itself were at least temporarily over. He did, however, have enough experience to realize that whatever was happening on his side would be mirrored on the other. For the moment, the easiest of his enemy to exploit were the Dark Irons. There would always be those who, while following their queen as faithfully as they could, wouldn't be able to resist sticking it to their old enemies whenever the opportunity arose. Now that there were some Dark Irons skulking around the Kirin Tor hoping to help fight demons, they were also relatively easy to contact. In exchange for whatever they needed that he had the ability to provide, usually murder easily traced to someone other than the person who ordered it, Qabian had a small number of Alliance mages willing to work for him. However, after the past several weeks, Qabian was getting seriously tired of seeing dwarves. Yes, they'd done everything he asked, even after he went to check their reports himself after the third false sighting, but every time he met with them and they gave their collective shrugs he had to resist the urge to just burn them all to ash. He was sure they could sense it in him, but they all seemed perfectly content to keep draining him of resources as long as he was willing to offer. Qabian began to wonder if he wasn't being played. Qabian burst into his room in Silvermoon and tossed his blade to one side with a clatter. Unrolled on top of his desk was a crude map of Azeroth, details unnecessary for its purpose. Red ink Xs were scattered across Alliance-controlled locations. Qabian snatched up a quill, dipped it in something, and slashed a new red X over what would have been Nethergarde Keep. He dropped the quill haphazardly and began to pace about the small room. His hunt for the girl had been concerned with covering as wide an area as shallow as possible, just scouting for sightings, not precise locations or hideouts. He was fairly certain she wouldn't be audacious enough to hide anywhere neutral or Horde controlled, which reduced the search area considerably. The Isles themselves were well covered. But all the while he pulled the puppet strings of another plot, his dwarves continued to turn up more and more nothing. He tapped the map as he passed by it in his pacing. "If I were trying to hide..." He muttered to himself, then amended his thought. "If I were a scared human girl trying to hide, and not in any of the places I've already looked. Hmm, Pandaria or Outland?" ~~ Allerian Stronghold was in flames behind Qabian when the goblin tracked him down with the message. The light from the fires lit the page as he read the jagged dwarvish words. "She's been spotted in the Shrine of Seven Stars. I'm confident it's her this time. She will be difficult to get to, though. She does not seem to leave. -K" A horrible grin stretched across Qabian's face. The location was more than enough. He opened a portal to Undercity. It was time to prepare Anee's next package.
  10. 3 points
    Qabian paced back and forth in his small apartment in Silvermoon. It was taking much too long to hear about the effects of his latest scheme. It must have gone awry. The human was more careful than Qabian had expected, more professional perhaps. Syreena had been asking about it, but he had nothing to tell her. He didn't mind telling her that he had done something and it hadn't gone as planned, but not having the details of why or how was frustrating. It was time to move on. He stopped at his desk and penned a quick letter. -- Several days later, as Daerek was moving through Dalaran in the early evening, three dark, burly figures suddenly leapt out of the alley between the Violet Citadel and the magic shop and grabbed the mage. One of them grabbed his arms. Another covered his mouth and nose with a big green hand. Another yanked a dark sack down over Daerek's head as they dragged him back down the alley. They didn't let him breathe again until he stopped struggling. When Daerek came to, he found himself on his knees with his hands tied behind his back. Beneath his knees, he could feel wood flooring, but it wobbled a little, as though floating on top of water. Someone removed the bag from his head and he blinked as his eyes adjusted to the light, which was mercifully dim, though the source was not apparent. He was in a room not unlike the Underbelly's black market, but devoid of any furnishings but a small table. A slim Forsaken woman in an out-of-place black satin pantsuit and high heels sat on the table, swinging crossed legs back and forth. "Good morning," she said, in a somewhat gravelly voice with a sing-song tone, stretching out the black cloth of the sack that had been over his head. Daerek craned his neck to look around. There was no noticeable exit, and an ominous looking orc dressed in black leather stood silently in the shadows. "We're going to ask you some questions today," the woman said, hopping off the table. Her metal lower jaw clacked slightly with each word she spoke. She turned and faced away from him, busying herself with something on the table. "Well, just one, really." She winked one of her glowing yellow eyes at him over her shoulder as she pulled on a pair of black rubber-looking gloves. Her bone fingertips tore right through them, so it seemed as though the only reason she put them on was to make the snapping sound against her wrists. She approached him with what looked like a pair of pliers in one hand, snapping them toward him. As she moved away from the table, he could just see the full set of ominous looking tools she had rolled out on its top. She crouched in front of him and placed the pliers against his face. "Where's Anee?" Daerek glared at her, but said nothing. "Oooh," she crooned. She may have been smiling, but it would have been impossible to tell with that much metal being part of her face. "I love when they fight it. Whenever they fight, I get to add to my collection." She snapped the pliers right in front of his nose. "I know who you work for," Daerek said, unimpressed by her threats. "Do you?" she said, crooking her head delightedly. "So do I. She's so shiny and useful. Her name is Gold and you can take her anywhere." She cackled, then stalked around behind him and leaned down over him as she placed the mouth of the pliers around his pinky finger. "Care to reconsider answering the question? Where is Anee?" Daerek kept his mouth firmly shut. The snap of the small bone reverberated up his arm to the base of his skull. He bit down on the inside of his lip to keep himself from screaming, but a grimace of pain crossed his face. She leaned further over him, two bone fingertips under his chin to tilt his face up to hers. "Lovely," she said. "But we're just getting started. Where's the girl?" When the second bone snapped, he couldn't hold back a reaction to the pain. ~~ The orc yanked Daerek's head from the water by his hair and the human gasped for air. "The girl?" the dead woman hissed. "I told you," Daerek grunted, his voice hoarse and as flat as it had been once the real pain had started. She hadn't broken him yet. He wouldn't let her. He'd survived worse. "I don't know. She just left." "Fine. We're done here." The woman made a gesture and the orc dropped Daerek to the wooden floor where the young man groaned quietly and rolled onto his back. The results of the past few hours were far from pleasant. Several of his fingers had been broken. One of his arms and a kneecap were massively swollen, shattered by the swung weights that had battered the bones. The other arm had pieces of skin sticking up from where they'd been tugged and peeled back. Both his shoulders had been torn from their sockets. There was a collar around his neck with inward facing spikes, hiding small round burn marks and a brand that looked like the Horde symbol on one side of his neck. His face was left curiously unmarred, but was slick with water after several threats of drowning, including one that required resuscitation. The woman stepped to one side of the small room and held a hand to her ear as she spoke. Her voice was quiet, but audible. "Nothing," she said. "I believe he may actually not know, but I'd need more time to be sure." A pause. "Three days. Starvation, loud noise, keep the lights on-- Yes, sir." She stepped back across the room to where Daerek lay, her stance and tone of voice betrayed her disappointment. She leaned down over him, peering into his face. He winced when she brushed a wet hair off his forehead. "Lucky you," she said. "He found her. You're not needed anymore." Suspicion crossed Daerek's face, his eyes narrowing. "I thought you worked for Gold," he muttered. She laughed lightly. "Someone has to hand her over." "You gonna kill me now?" "No, sweetie." She stood and gestured for the orc. "That's not my job." She tugged the black bag back over Daerek's head, then the orc slung the the young man roughly over his shoulder. "Dump him outside Findle's. Someone from the Uncrowned will trip over him," the dead woman's voice said. The orc grunted in response. There was a sharp pain at the back of Daerek's head, a single note in the symphony of pain he was feeling, and then everything went dark and, for a time, he felt nothing at all.
  11. 3 points
    July Pandaria is pretty. I stay mostly in the Shrine, but sometimes I go for a ride around the Vale. It’s peaceful here, mostly. Every now and then a couple or so Horde will attack out on the terrace, but they rarely make it inside. I haven’t seen any sign of Qabian here. I guess I lost him. Sometimes it’s too peaceful. Too quiet. Even with Buster here, our little room in the inn here sometimes feels more like a tomb. I miss the apartment in Dalaran. I hung some crystals in the window here, and got a soft blanket, but it’s still missing something. It’s a hideout, not a home. I guess I don’t have a home anymore. Well, it was nice while it lasted. I miss Daerek. I know I did the right thing though. He’s safer without me, and I don’t want him to get hurt…in any way. If they know I care about him, they’d hurt him just because of that. And I don’t want to hurt him anymore than I already have. The General says he wouldn’t care about my past. Still, I don’t want to think about what he might think of me if he knew the things I’ve done. He was already upset when I fought that demon. That was nothing compared to….. That one couple still fights every week in cooking class. What could anyone have to fight over so much? If they fight that much, maybe they shouldn’t be together. I’ve learned how to make fish cakes and rice pudding. My fish cakes were too dry, but the pudding was good. I got a new cooking partner in class. Her name is Chi’u Driftbrew. Her family brews ales, as many Pandaren do, and she experiments in class by adding it to every recipe. She says the plants the brew is made from held powerful spirits, and distilling them makes their power more concentrated. I don’t know about all that, but I think her ale tastes good. I wonder if they have Pandaren ale at the Recluse or the Shady Lady.
  12. 3 points
    It feels like I do less and less. I've always tried to be a relatively hands-off commander. I let people find and choose their own assignments, to put their talents to use where they believe they'll be the most effective in upholding our virtues. We all have directives to support the Horde and the Legionfall offensive to give us opportunities to make a difference. But sometimes I'm not sure if things are running smoothly or slowing to a halt. I feel like if I can't tell the difference, it's probably the latter. At least I was able to make a difference in the Borrowed Time/Twilight Empire matter. I'm not naive enough to think Cobrak will go any easier on them because of what I said, but one of their people being returned safely and sooner is definitely a victory in my book. I also hope that by speaking to Katelle, she will see Cobrak as more of a person and less as an obstacle. She would be more likely to than most already, as would any called to Twilight Empire's cause I think, but a little encouragement might help keep things smoother than they might go otherwise. It'll be a long time, if ever, before I can hope to sway Cobrak the same, but at least in respecting my personhood he finds himself obligated to respect the things I care about, and that's a start. Another matter weighing on my mind is Karthok, as it has for... how many months now? How long has Shokkra been missing? I haven't even kept track. Her being gone has just become... normal. It's terrible, and it makes me feel terrible to say that. I continue to believe she must be safe and that Karthok wouldn't harm her. And I won't stop looking for her. But all this time away has put some things into perspective. When she's back, and recovered enough, I'll have to talk to her about what she wants to do with her life. And not just accept what she says if it's what I want to hear when it might not be true to what's in her heart and soul. Some people are just angry. Some people just believe in vengeance, in its necessity. I don't agree. But I respect that some people feel that way, and don't want to shame them for it, not really. Encourage them to open their hearts. But not shame them for doing what they think they need to do to survive. Shokkra tries so hard to be Sanctuary, but I don't think she really is inside; she just feels like she should be. I should let her go and not let her keep torturing herself, and everyone else around her, by trying to be something she's not. It's sad it took me this long to come to that conclusion. I can't count how many people would laugh and scoff at me for finally getting to it. But I wanted to believe. I wanted to believe in what Shokkra wanted to believe. I just wanted to support her. And she needed it, so badly, something the people that would scoff just don't care about because they can't see past their own pain to another's. The fourth oath is always the hardest to uphold. We leave soon to brace Karthok in his den. I hope we are in time to save her.
  13. 3 points
    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.
  14. 3 points
    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.
  15. 3 points
    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.
  16. 3 points
    Looks like we're headed to NOLA for 2018!
  17. 3 points
    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.
  18. 3 points
    ((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.
  19. 3 points
    Sometimes, in the fleeting quiet moments between battles, when my mind is left to wander as it will, it takes me back to him. Those memories are still whole, untouched by the wicked sorcery of the human professor. At times, I am grateful that these most precious memories were spared. Other times, I think it would have been a mercy if they'd been taken or scrambled with so many others. I remember the first day I met him. That day was at least ten years ago. I was buying poison in Undercity when he approached the same vendor. He seemed to know him. They made small talk and joked with each other, while I was still waiting for my purchase. I got irritated with him, but he started talking and joking with me too, as if we were old friends. He soon had me laughing along with them, my irritation forgotten. I remember sparring outside the front gates of the Undercity until we were both beaten and bloodied. And then we’d spar some more, telling ourselves we were only trying to determine which of us was the better fighter. In truth, we both knew we were evenly matched, but we continued the fights for the sheer joy of combat and each other’s company. I remember hunting mages with him in Felwood, positioning ourselves carefully -- one to ambush the mage and the other to intercept after the inevitable blink. We made such a bloody sport of slaughtering the felcloth gatherers there. I remember sneaking through Stormwind Park together, collecting coins from the Elders, and murdering any Alliance who crossed our path. We’d laugh as we ran and hid from the guards, reveling in the bloodshed and the danger. I remember the quiet talks about fighting, about The Grim, about his guild, about our pasts, about anything and everything. They were secret talks. In those days, Grims did not have close relationships with non-Grims. It just did not happen. He also led his own guild. I met a few of them now and then, but I never got to know them very well. The time we spent together was most often private time shared by just the two of us. “Marry me,” he said one day during one of these talks. I had never before considered the possibility of marriage. What would I do with a husband? What would I do as a wife? I was Forsaken. I had once been dead and was now undead. I would never be able to give him children. I couldn’t even be with him as a wife should be with a husband, and I had no desire to be that way with anyone. I was also Grim. Grims did not often marry, and they never married outside the guild. There was no chance he would abandon his own guild to become Grim. He was too willful to ever take orders from another. “I can’t,” I answered quietly. “You’re not Grim.” I expected him to be disappointed, or angry, or insulted. Instead, he laughed his carefree laugh and said, “You are Grim through and through.” He disappeared sometime after that. I thought him lost forever, claimed by a final death, or some new adventure. Two years later, I would see him one more time. Eight years ago…… The Alliance had invaded Orgimmar again. They seemed determined to kill Thrall. I was part of a small unit of Grim aiding the defense. By the time we got there, most of the Alliance had already been killed or driven off. We helped kill the remaining Alliance as they fled. As the last stragglers were dealt with, something about one of the other Forsaken there caught my attention. He cut down a druid that was trying to sprint away in cat form. In my mind, memories stirred as I watched him move and fight. He was different though. His eyes were now a frosty blue instead of the glowing gold I remembered, his daggers were gone in favor of a large sword, and he wore plate instead of the usual supple leather. Still, I knew without a doubt it was him. “Lucion.” I breathed his name without thinking. Although it was barely a whisper, he looked at me then. After all the time that had passed, I felt nervous as I approached him. “Do you remember me?” “I remember I gave you a flower in Undercity. A lotus. I remember you wearing a black dress. You are all grown up now.” We talked the rest of the evening. It was like before, but it was also different. He told me some things about the time he’d been gone, but he didn’t remember everything. Something about a warlock, a crystal, and a priest with all the answers, and something about empowering the Forsaken, but he didn’t know any details. I was so happy he was back, and I vowed to help him find answers. I never saw him again.
  20. 3 points
    At the gates of Dragon’s Roost Port, the base of Borrowed Time, a small Forsaken female rode up on a galloping skeletal horse. Both mount and rider were covered in black and red armor. Although many knives of various shapes and sizes were visible on her person, Syreena’s hands were empty, except for the reins, which she used to slow the horse to a walk as she drew closer. As always, the Grim tabard was worn over her armor. She noticed that the reinforced iron composing the fortifications of the port seemed relatively new around what looked like a former battlefield. Craters littered the landscape, with any form of growth burned away by fire and oil that still had a vague scent about the place that was intermingled with the sea breeze. Briefly, she wondered what had happened here, but she was only mildly interested. She was focused on the task at hand. It wasn't long before much attention was pulled towards the gates. The colors and the description of the Forsaken woman were enough to call plenty more guards into watchful motion. Of the gathered guards one figure stood out among them. A ranger, hooded and armed with a bow in hand, stood on the wall and peered down at their guest. The dim verdant glow of his eyes studied the tabard and every weapon that clung to her. Despite the potential threat of so many guards, Syreena was both amused and flattered by the attention. Still, it wouldn’t do her any good to get shot full of arrows before she’d accomplished what she came for. As her horse chomped the bit and shook his head, Syreena remained still and calm. "Brave, stupid, or both,” Faelenor called down to her. “Either way you've managed to get our attention." He turned to each of the guards that followed him and mouthed something to them before turning back to her. "What do you want?" The guard nodded and made his way down from the wall, motioning for another one of the orcs to follow him "I want to hire someone for a job,” she said to Faelenor. The two orcs emerged from the gate and advanced upon the undead. One held a bowling ball sized orb in its hand that he tossed into the air. A red wave emerged from it to wash over the mount and the rogue in a downward motion. The horse, being battle trained, didn't shy from it, but pinned his ears and snapped at it. As the cloud fell over horse and rider, it produced and unpleasant feeling but seemed to have no effect beyond that. “She’s real,” one of the guards announced. “What the fel?” Syreena demanded, putting a hand on one of the large daggers at her hip. " Standard procedure,” the guard explained. “An increased number of Legion infiltrators warrants the checking of every guest coming into the port." The orc motioned up towards Faelenor with an affirmative hand sign. "Oh," she muttered at the explanation. "Well, you could have warned me." Faelenor drew an arrow from its quiver as her hand reached for the dagger. The bow raised and the arrow was nocked all in the same motion. "Though in your case...being real is actually the worst of the possibilities,” Faelenor informed the little rogue. "You have come here to hire one of us?” She looked back up at Faelenor and slowly removed her hand from the dagger to place it back on the reins. "That's right. I want to hire someone. For a job. Like I said." "Yeah, I heard you the first time. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't going mad." Fael loosened the tension on the bowstring, setting the arrow back into its quiver, but kept his mark on the tiny rogue. "Name your business here and now, and perhaps I can find you a fool to take your job." She frowned, looking around, having pictured this discussion not happening quite as out in the open as this. She stifled a sigh as she looks back up at the ranger on the wall. "I'm looking for help in finding someone." "And your idea of searching for help was to come to Borrowed Time of all places. You understand that you probably would have had a better chance at begging Sanctuary or the Alliance for assistance." Fael pulled out his comm mumbled into it. When he finished, he pocketed the device and shouts back down. "Wait there." He moved from his spot but guards quickly take his place. Syreena held her tongue, but she frowned, trying to remember why Borrowed Time hated her so much. Surely they wouldn’t still be this upset over Dora's knee. She waited where she was, but she kept a grip on the reins, ready to signal the mount to run if guards suddenly started swarming out of the gate. "Grumpy, aren't they?" she mutters softly to Bones, her horse. "You'd think they don't want the work." A moment passed before the gate opened. The ranger walked out alone, armed with his bow and a pair of blades on his belt. He stepped carefully towards the Forsaken, signaling with a quick wave of his hand. The gates closed and the guards pulled bows of their own from their stations. Such attention from the guards that she had initially found flattering, was quickly becoming irritating. "Your window of time is short and it's slowly closing,” Faelenor told her. “This is as close to private and within the walls of the gate as you are going to get. So start talking." She was in need of their service. They could care less of what she was willing to pay. But curiosity won out over reason. She slid down off her horse and took a few steps toward the ranger, careful to keep her hands away from her blades. "I don't want to go within your walls. This is fine." Suddenly overcome with doubt about her decision to hire Borrowed Time for this, she fell quiet for a moment, hesitating before stating her request. "I'm looking for someone. I haven't seen him in...well, years. But I saw a friend of his twice since the Horde sailed for the Broken Shore, a guild mate. I'm busy with other business, but I'm hoping for help tracking down this friend to find out what happened to the person I used to know." "Almost every tracker, ranger, or hunter in this establishment has something against you. It's to your fortune that I got here first, or else you may have lost more than a knee cap this time around." Fael hooked his bow back in its resting spot, eyeing the rogue and her surroundings. The goggled lens that covered his right eye hummed as he looks around. Syreena wondered what he was looking for, then figured he probably thought she wasn’t alone. Maybe he expected the entirety of The Grim to come charging out at the gate to take over Borrowed Time’s base. In the interests of a better chance of doing business, she refrained from voicing such sarcastic thoughts. "So either you believe yourself rich enough to pay for this job or you aren't terribly keen on keeping your head... but I'll bite,” Fael continued. “Give me a little more to work on." "Everyone has something against everyone," she says mildly. "Last I heard, you guys take jobs. If that's no longer true, I'll leave." She tilted her head at him. "You want more details... Does that mean you'll take the job?" "Like any establishment that provides invaluable service to their patrons, which I can understand if you aren't familiar with that concept, we also have the right to refuse you. Given your past history with us I shouldn't really have to go into too much more detail. However, through some miracle, the order to send you away wasn't given. So, I'll ask again. The details of the job... we will need more. We need to send the right mercenaries to do the job after all... unless you want Cobrak hunting down an old friend of yours?" "I...didn't say he was a friend. I said I saw his friend," she argued, having second thoughts again. She was reluctant to admit to a group of mercenaries who hated her, what Lucion meant to her. She bit her bottom lip briefly, not even seeming to notice that her filed pointy teeth drew blood. "Maybe this isn't a good idea...." she says, as she started to turn away. She stopped though. If not Borrowed Time to help find Razvaan , then who? "Is it? Can you do business with me without bringing personal issues of the past into it?" "Why do you think you weren't made a pin cushion at the very start of this?" He held out his hand and with another wave the guards stowed their bows and moved back to their regular positions. "So, if you want to discuss a business proposition then now is your chance. Consider my interest a show of good faith." She glanced up at the guards, then she took another step closer to Faelenor. After another moment's hesitation, she began speaking only loud enough so that, barring any special powers or equipment, only he and her horse would hear her. "All right then,” she started. “I'm looking for a man named Lucion. He's Forsaken. He once led a guild called Broken Sanity. Recently, I saw his friend and guildmate, another Forsaken by the name of Razvaan, but I lost sight of him before I could catch up to him and talk to him." "Where was it you last saw him?" He asked as he shifts the bow on his back. "In Dalaran, on the street between the Legerdemain and the wine & cheese shop. Maybe two weeks ago? I saw him once before that too, on a ship leaving from Bladefist Bay for the Broken Shore." "Anyone else with Razvaan when you found him? Perhaps something more notable to help track him down. The streets of Dalaran and ships leaving to the Broken Shore aren't exactly enough to go off of. Two weeks ago leaves a large enough time frame for him to be long gone by now." Syreena’s frustration was evident as she shook her head. "No, I don't know. If it was easy to find him, I would have by now. That's why I need help." Noting the frustration, Fael gave a sly smirk. "I'm simply gauging the expenses of the work. Given the complexity of this job and the resources needed to find him I imagine you know it won't come cheap. Being that this is a mercenary establishment, talk of compensation was inevitable." She nodded, seemingly not upset at all at the subject of the cost. "How much? And also, I assume that, since this is a paid job, that a certain amount of....professional discretion....is....'standard procedure'?" she asked, using the guard's words from earlier. "That's dependent on the merc who gets the job and what their definition of professional discretion is. My interest was personal. But as far as fees go I want to make sure you understand that the more you pay the more professional the work. Dirty deeds aren't done dirt cheap. Once the contract is made and signed you are guaranteed what you pay for. " Fael looked over the rogue once more before asking his final question. "Why not go to the Grim for help? Couldn't you just yell out your mantra and have a pick of the first that yell it back to aid you for free? You had to expect that question to come about eventually?" Her brow furrowed, twisting her patchwork-stitched face. She shrugged, kicking at a small piece of debris in the dirt. "I don't see many of them much. I mean, they're busy....killing demons, and Alliance, and elves in the Nighthold, and...." She trailed off, looking up at Faelenor with a frown. "Does it really matter anyway? It's not a dirty job. I'm not trying to hurt anyone or anything. I'm sure you guys wouldn't take a job like that for me." "Discretion comes with caution. You know who you are but even if you weren't Syreena these questions are still extremely relevant. Our forces aren't exactly laying around waiting for the next job to fall on our laps. But someone has to watch over the port and today just happened to be my day. So yes, it does matter. Simply because we would be sending one of own to do the job. And if it means making sure they come back alive, I will ask for any information I find relevant. As for the job, I will talk with Cobrak and see who he wants to assign it to. If no one cares to work then I may just pick it up myself. Give us until tomorrow to decide. I will send you a message when the decision has been made." He took a step back and bowed his head. "All things considered...this is the best that I can do for you." "Oh," she says. Then she winced. "Cobrak? Are you going to tell him it's for me?" "He has eyes and ears all over the port. He'd know it was a job for you even if I decided to keep it a secret. Besides. Who do you think gave the order to listen to you? It's up to the discretion of the merc if they want your job. We don't hold them to any oath or mantra. So long as they know what they are getting themselves into and won't bring back harm to our port... they can deal with whom ever they want." She tilted her head, considering that. "He already knows I'm here...." she muttered to herself, looking back up at the guards on the wall as if they were suddenly going to start shooting at her. "Umm, okay. I'll watch for your message then. And you'll let me know how much it will cost?" "Yes yes...variable costs are just so difficult to determine right away. Now then..." He gave out a whistle and the gate doors opened. "I will discuss this further with him and I will get word to you tomorrow. Tread carefully...Syreena." "Okay. Thanks....for not shooting me." The little rogue nodded, then backed up a couple steps before turning to find her horse, who had wandered a short ways off. Apparently Bones had given up his search for grass in the burnt area. He was eating dirt. Syreena yanked his head up by the reins and mounted up, looking back at the ranger and the guards on the wall. As the gate began to close, Syreena wheeled Bones around and kicked him into a gallop, going back the way she came. The ranger stepped backwards into the port and watched as the gate closed. He let out a sigh, taking a moment to relax himself before making his way to the office. "Why didn't I shoot her again?" he asked himself as he walked up towards Cobrak’s office.
  21. 3 points
    http://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/new-orleans/louisiana/united-states/usla0788 --- for weather refrences http://audubonnatureinstitute.org/ --- all about the Audubon Institue (Zoo, Aquarium, Insectarium, Imax) http://www.neworleansonline.com/neworleans/fq/ ---- lots of different history, hotels, and attractions https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Products-g60864-New_Orleans_Louisiana.html --- more attractions
  22. 3 points
    Not that I feel strongly about any one particular place for next year, but....I'll just leave this here..... Pros: Has nearly everything we liked in Vegas, plus better food and more character. The food - Oh my god, the food! Beignets, pralines, gumbo, po-boys, jambalaya, crawfish, oysters, bananas foster, red beans & rice....... Escape Room place with rooms like The Voodoo Room, The Vampire Room, Haunted Swamp Room, around $30 per person. Ghosts, vampires, voodoo, creepy cemeteries. Cons: Smells funny at first Definitely need to go late fall to early spring. Maybe right after Mardi Gras for discounts.
  23. 3 points
    Here were the nametags, featuring art by Vilmah, Nojinbu, Tirien, Arahe, Sam, Yat, and me!
  24. 2 points
    ((It has apparently been a bit since I had a story to post here haha! Lil delayed but a Mya story from the Finale of the Feleclipse storyline!)) Myaka glared up at the orc warlock. Though various attacks bombarded his shield it still held firm. There has to be a way to break through. Despite what this blowhard thinks he can't be unbeatable. The idea struck almost as a gift granted by the Light. The Scales could traverse realms, she used that ability all the time just to store it. Could I use that to attack? She called back to Xandric, nearly ignoring his recommendation to fall back to fight a nearby Pitlord. She would need cover against the naga and chaos warriors if she were to send away her mode of defense. Trusting the giant paladin to watch her back she dropped her focus far into her battlerage seeking the connection with the Scales. She would need to maintain it more than normal if she attacked this way. It was strange and unfamiliar like testing a muscle not used. The connection flared and she pushed against it like she would throwing a weapon. She grinned in triumph as the shield appeared within Karthok's barrier. Shadowflame roared from the front coating him in fire. She could tell the attack had at least irritated him if not hurting outright. She pulled the shield back before Karthok could retaliate and pushed it again. The shield reappeared in a different place and blasted him again. She lost track of the push and pulls, she didn't pay attention to the feeling of draining. Her connection to the shield and battlerage pushed to the limit. She smirked as the repeated attacks from her and the others brought the barrier down and the orc was forced on the defensive. Then he was gone. Where-?! She barely had time to wonder long, everything next happened in quick succession. Terror that was not hers flared through her connection with the Scales and something strong grabbed onto her. She tried to grapple with the orc’s grip and the world darkened into twilight. Pain exploded around her as shadowflame erupted along her body. The world lightened again, the twilight realm fading as a scream of pain ripped out from her scorching throat. As the world faded to black she couldn't help but be thankful that she had not been conscious the last time she burned to death. ---------------------------------- She felt as if she was floating, even though as she looked around she appeared to be standing somewhere in an empty blackness. This had not been what she expected at the end. She expected the Halls, a shining Val’kyr standing before her to remake her soul as a stormforged. I promised Kate I would live on as a Valarjar if something ever happened. Light I… What did she want? Her gut twisted as she remembered what had happened to her family after her 'death’. How Kate had deteriorated, how Olson had meant to find someone battle where he could go out in a blaze of glory. What would happen to them now? She had to hope her final act would be enough for them to beat Karthok. “You are safe here.” A rich rumbling voice murmured softly behind her. She turned quickly, dropping into a defensive stance despite knowing she had no weapons to fight with. The being before her was like nothing she had ever seen. He towered over her, in spite of her impressive height. He looked like an elf, dark skin that looked purple in the dark expanse of nothing around them. Horns curled out from dark purple hair. His armor nearly reminded her of her own demonsteel only in purple and black tones. Spikes lined the ridges of his armor in a somehow familiar way even though she has never seen this man before. “Who the fel are you, what happened?” She didn't drop her defensive stance. The colors and horns marked him as either a twilight or black dragon, neither of which boded well for her. “I mean you no harm.” His purple eyes twinkled with barely contained amusement. “Had I wanted to harm you, severing the connection would have allowed your death to be finalized.” Connection? Suddenly, she realized something was familiar. The voice was familiar. “Are you...Are you the Scales?” His mouth formed a grin. “Your wits aren't dulled, even with your second brush with a pyre.” He starts to circle her. It's not calculating, not a predator circling prey. It's nearly parental, a dragon checking a whelp for injury. “I didn't have the time to phase to you, nor did I know if I could pull you from danger. It seems all I managed to do is pull your soul to safety.” She stared dumbfounded at the man. “When...you’ve never-” She shook her head, “How the fel do you have a body?!” She finally was able to say. “You’ve never manifested before.” “You’ve never allowed our connection as close as you did.” The man pointed out. “That was a dangerous choice. You used more than just your battlerage. The connected attached to your soul, not just your battlerage.” He stopped his pacing. “I understand the situation, but you should learn to temper the connection if you do that again.” She shook her head, the words reminding her of Karthok. A flash of silver light distracted her. Words filtered to her, but she couldn’t understand them. “You tried to save me?” The man cocks his horned head, “Aye, yes. One does not normally enjoy being immolated.” “Forgive my surprise,” she states wryly. “I remember a fight in Helhiem where you flashed away and abandoned me because you were ‘wrong about my potential.’” The words are not as accusatory as they might have been had he heard them from Kate, she had somewhat forgiven the shield. She had needed the push to realise she could beat Dominic. She was surprised to see shame flit across his face. “Yes, this would be a change from then. I do maintain that you needed that victory. However, there might have been a better way to give it to you.” He stepped up towards her, his tall height even more apparent. “For lack of a better way to state it, you've changed me.” He says with a slight grin. “ A part of her knew she should be confused. She should be afraid or traumatized, she died. Well died again. The conversation after the guild meeting flitted through her mind, there was a reason she had not promised either Kate or Olson she'd come home. There was always a chance a well placed attack would take her life without any chance to avoid it. Light flashed again, pulling her concentration, the man in front of her pulled a face at the bright flash. “Val’kyr do not give in easily.” He muttered. She turned her attention back to him. Her mouth opened to speak and she stopped. The thought passing through her head blurting out instead. “What in the Fel do I call you.” He cocked his head to the side, violet eyes watching her. “Call? I am the Twilight Scales. You prefer to shorten it to The Scales.” She shook her head, “that's the name of the shield, an object, you are a person. At least right now. That's just... strange, to call someone that.” He let out a rumbling laugh. “You find out you have died, again, and that your weaponry has a sentient mind. And the thing you find strange is the name you call me?” She grinned sheepishly. “Put like that is maybe a small thing compared to everything else. It still doesn't seem right to call you the name of an object.” He shook his head, a fond smile on his face. “While I do enjoy the Twilight Scales moniker. If it would help…” his voice trailed as he thought a moment before nodding sharply to himself. “Arcath. It's a draconic word, the rough translation is 'spellscale’” “Arcath.” She repeated slowly, testing the name. “Fits,” she says with a light laugh after a moment. “So the Light, you think that's a Val'kyr?” “It's specifically trying for your soul. I don't know for sure what it is. But I don't want to risk it.” He grinned, “just because you couldn't promise your return to your family, doesn't mean I can't try to keep that promise myself.” She blinked, taken aback that he was aware of that conversation. The blackness lightened around them, amber light flaring around them before streaking towards her. Arcath started forward, his shout drowned out by a howl that filled her with a frenetic energy… Pain lanced through her, so sharp that it brought air rushing through her in a harsh gasp. Her sight slowly focused. She was out of the dark blackness of Arcath’s realm. The dragon himself was gone and Resileaf’s relieved face looked down at her. Energy filled her even as the pain faded to a dull ache. She felt the connection with the Scales reassert itself and relief flooded her, both her own and something else. She saw a large wolf fighting a pit lord as the rest of the forces swarmed Karthok. She forced herself to her feet, walking forward to join the melee around Karthok. She knew after a few moments she would not be able to. He still vanished and reappeared, she didn't have the energy to keep up. There was one way to fight still, she ignored the concern flowing through the connection with the Scales and started the jumps again. The healing from the ancient bolstered her and made her exhaustion less noticeable. Pain ricocheted down the bond, tearing a scream of pain from her mouth and forcing her to her knees. She growled and forced through it just in time to see a wave of black flowing from Karthok's decimated body… ------------------ She fell forward, as if she had been running. She pulled in air in great gulps, wide eyes staring at the ground. A false vision, a nightmare, thank the Light. A nightmare; the destroyed city, her sister dead because she felt so sure it was a false clone or dreadlord. And Olson; sweet, loving and caring Olson, decrying her as Kate's murderer. More willing to stay and be slaughtered by the enemy than leave with her. A nightmare, just a nightmare. Kathok cackled and spoke, the words washing over as she tried to come to grips with what she had just seen. “Fitting that I should fall amongst such titans, isn't it?" Karthok stands, looking over the massive corpses of Accalia and Arkhorne, holding his stomach with one arm. "After all I've gone through, all I've accomplished, dying with gods is the least I deserve." He turns towards the others, looking them all over. "You people... I tore you apart... broke you. Even if you don't show it, I know. I know you all better than anyone else in your lives. I know what you're all made of, what you're really like. Creatures of chaos, of choice." He chuckles. "Order... you hate it. Loathe it. Even if you don't admit it. In order you have no choice, no options. But in the chaos, you're free. Just like me." Shokkra shakes herself off from her own nightmare and starts up towards where Karthok is. "I'm a part of you now. I'm your fear, your doubt, your choices. You'll carry me until the day you die and beyond. You'll never forget me, never forget what I did, who I was, what you are because of me." He laughs again, louder this time. "I'm the chaos inside you, now and forever." The orcess comes up behind him, pulling her revolver. She grabs him by the shoulder and pulls him into her arms, holding him tightly. She shuts her eyes, handing him the gun. He hugs her back, taking the revolver in hand and casting a shadow over Shokkra for an instant. Karthok looks towards the others, pointing the gun at them and flipping it open to check how many rounds he has. He laughs. "I earned this." He aims the revolver back to himself, lifts his chin, and fires.* The shot rings through the air and she looks up, a low growl of fury rumbling through her. She wanted to destroy him, to prove every cackling word wrong. He had ended it and taken that away. Everyone was tired, emotionally and physically. Tense arguments and standoffs browled around her. She barely paid attention. She wanted to go home. She wanted to leave this Light forsaken rock and forget everything. She wanted to see Kate, to know she was alive. She wanted to see Olson and know he didn't hate her. She wanted away. She breathed a sigh of relief when the airship they arrived on made it back and docked to allow them on board. She could go home. _________________________________ She should be used to issue with sleep. Night terrors threaded themselves through her life for as long as she had remembered. From the nightmares spawned of her uncertainty regarding her parents death right after Strathome, to the ones of Dominic until she finally was able to slay his specter herself. She let out a strangled sound, somewhere between a sob and a gasp for air, and sat up in bed. Her sheets tangled around sweat soaked limbs and her nightgown. She breathed in deeply, lavender oil filling the air and soothing the frazzled nerves from the dream. Had she escaped Karthok’s nightmare truly? Or was she just granted a reprieve in her waking moments? Were they waking? There were moments when she wasn't sure if she had ever left the battle torn rock in the Maelstrom. She tried to calm her racing heart, feeling the incoming panic attack. Those she should also be used too, while it had been a while since a full flash back it didn't mean there hadn't been smaller bouts of anxiety. She bent over in a fetal position, her breaths came in harsh gasps as the pain of the nightmare raced through her. Harsh sobs threaded through the gasps of air. She gave up on trying to hold back the attack and riding it so she could try to regain her ability to breath. Black started to creep into the edge of her vision as the sobs quieted and her breathing evened. Sleep of course was still well out of reach. She stood, climbing out of bed and walking to a window. She grinned, the expression both tired and fond, as she remembered teasing words to Kate. “Do I have to worry about leaving the blinds on my bedroom window? It does face your bedroom.” She knew she'd regret the question as soon as it was asked. Kate said nothing, her only answer was a wicked grin that reflected the mischievous glint in her eyes. “That's a yes.” Myaka said with a bark of a laugh. The fond grin faded sharply. Anxiety rose again, was she sure her death was a nightmare? A want to go to the house and bang on the door swelled in her, she forced it down. Light knew that would just wake up Zak and Kate, not to mention the three children. The stone was an option, but would also wake the two up. She glanced at a clock and let out a breathless sigh. Far too early for anyone to be awake. All this worry was for nothing, morning would come and she'd see that. She was too wired to go back to sleep, soft padding footsteps took her downstairs. Her latest smithing project sat on her table, it would be a good way to calm down and hopefully get back to sleep. She ignored the fact that this was the second time in so many nights that she had been unable to sleep halfway through the night, she'd didn't have time to worry with the fight in Antorus nearing it's end. __________________________________ The months past sped their way through, december bleeding into January that then gave into the warming months of spring. Winter’s veil danced into Love is In The Air and soon the Lunar Festival loomed on the horizon. Myaka let out a low breath, brown eyes traveling up the sword left by Sargaras. It had nearly stopped her heart when she saw his sword flying towards Azeroth. They had won, a long fought battle that pushed everyone as far as they could go. The combined forces of the Horde and Alliance needed to bring the fallen titan to ruin. Was it all for nothing? She shook her head, pulling her thoughts from the dark path they went down. Her mind wandered easily recently. She reached up, plated hand rubbing absentmindedly against her chest. The strange pain was back, there had been a twinge of pain when she flew home to see to Kate after the end of the fight. A slight scraping sound of metal on metal played through the infested air. She supposed it didn’t matter that she couldn’t actually touch anything though the plate. She never actually felt a wound or anything that was causing the pain. Exhaustion pulled at her mind momentarily. The nightmares had not lightened, if anything, they got worse. Sleep only came in the first few hours of the night and after she made do with naps. Silithus became an easy distraction, one she hoped would give her enough time until the nightmares went away. She tried to believe that, she wouldn’t let Karthok have his victory. She wouldn’t let him win. She could almost make herself believe it. ((*Karthok's speech is word for word from the RP, because I didn't want to mess up it's malice by paraphrasing haha))
  25. 2 points
    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.
  26. 2 points
    It's the recognition that there are more of us than I've seen evidence of in the past few months. Often, it seems like it's Syreena and I against the world. Not last night, though. Last night, we were the world, all of us, Syreena and her pet, and Vyalis, and the Grimtotem shadow, and the quiet wolf, and the knight with her broken mechanical voice accidentally screaming about horrible stereotypes. Even Malkaris, I suppose. He's worse in that skin. At least when he was more clearly falling apart, no one took him quite as seriously. Now, well, he keeps everyone entertained with his clown show, but I'm not sure we should have let him out of the guild hall. I don't think I ever want to see him and Nathandiel in the same room. But even those who weren't us weren't the usual, weren't the kind who push me to despair of any future for the Horde. There were the Luna I've worked with before, the sensible yet angry from across the spectrum, the smug and the smart. Even the one with the reputation for collecting boyfriends, who apparently has both the lizard man from last week and Our Lord Gustblade checked off her list, seemed practically an intellectual compared to the usual crowds. Even Kahlan gives me hope. There's something I like about her, and not just because she made the mistake of giving me a compliment once. Maybe it's her penchant for jumping immediately to violence. Maybe it's her utter dismissal of the continuous pathetic attempts to encroach on feelings she clearly doesn't have. Maybe it's her seemingly equal hatred of nearly everyone around her. She's not quite right in the head, being so defensive of the parents she was apparently avoiding, who I will ever doubt are actually related to her in any way, even through mere kindness. She doesn't seem to realize that everything she hates about men is all her father has to offer the world. He is the very pinnacle of what she detests most, and yet she leaps ferociously to his defense if anyone so much as sneezes in his direction. But if Kahlan were the worst the Horde had to offer, we would be well-equipped for whatever lies ahead. Unfortunately, there are those like her parents, and the monstrous rabbit who put up with Malkaris' lechery with nothing but blushes and yet ran off in a panic at the sight of that half-demon I know nothing about and want to know nothing about but who I know has enough propensity for violence to be on the side of hope. But last night, they were outnumbered in a way that felt incredibly satisfying. So yes, hope. Even at our meeting. It was small, yes, but not as small as it's been when the future has seemed darkest. We grow, slow but steady. The pendulum swings as it always does. I've been out of sync with the clock for too long to recognize its motions, but time tells its tales whether we want it to or not.
  27. 2 points
    The poster above is hung in Alliance cities and the Alliance quarter of Dalaran. Alliance friends, join the Twilight Empire for its annual Winter Veil celebration! Wear your holiday best (or your worst!), bring a wrapped gift for the gift exchange, and enjoy good food, warm drink, and merry company! Who: Alliance What: Winter Veil RP Celebration Where: Thunderbrew Distillery, Kharanos When: Saturday, December 30th, 7:30PM ST Contact Aryänna-Ravenholdt (alt code ALT+0228) or Ketani-Ravenholdt with questions!
  28. 2 points
    The bartender may be correct. If I am playing their game, I may be helping them, at least in the short term. I don't believe I am, yet. But if I am to get what I want, I will have to eventually. I must reconsider this. I am always reconsidering this. It made sense in days gone by. It does not make sense any longer. But if it works? If it plays out well? If it plays out in our favor? Even if I help them in the short term, if it ultimately erases them, or even just sows chaos and discord within them? It could be worth years upon years of toil and agony. I will move slowly. I will keep this to the edges. I will not ingratiate myself with their core, only with the periphery. A step here, a greeting there, a gift here, a compliment there, but all the while being who I have always been, insulting them profusely, never letting them think I've truly changed, only that I have a side they did not know, without ever betraying myself and my truths. I can do that. Can't I? Maybe I can't. I still don't know that this is worth the risk. If I were sensible, I would put it all aside while I still can. Unfortunately, it seems I want the possible outcome of it all more than an appeal to good sense would say is reasonable. Not so bad, hm? Oh, how wrong you are. If you can be offended by someone as ludicrous as Nathandiel, I am far, far worse, because I don't use lies to cause offense. I use the truth, and it stings much harder. That in itself is a lie. I do the same as the lunatic. I use lies to provoke, to cause and abuse reactions. I'm simply less vile and more arrogant in the play. To detest all men to the point of violence and not love women in their stead is a curious place for a woman to be? I can understand it, but in my experience, such people have been rare indeed. She only thinks I'm not as bad because I offered to help her kill him if the situation should arise. And because she didn't hear what I would have said of her father after knowing the rest of the story. I never expected to end up discussing the Barov witch ever again. I hadn't even noticed the parallels-- How could I have noticed the parallels? She never informed me of them. In retrospect, those seem like important details, but also in retrospect, I actively avoided asking her connections to the victim she sent me after. I knew something was off, but I expected family or friendship, not... this. Did we kill the Barov? We must have killed the Barov. The Bronze stole this from me. We did. We did, yes? We did. How else could we have retrieved the shard? But I didn't? I wasn't there. Acherontia did it for me. I remember Karazhan. I remember the spellwork to keep her silenced and hearing only silence. I remember the intensity and the difficulty of maintaining it week after week. Wait, I was there. We did it together? I told her I would come alone and then did not. Was that how it went? There was someone else there? No, that was something else. Why can't I remember? I know why I can't remember. I hate fishing for these vague fractured memories that promise nothing. I regained some of what Ninorra did, but this is still lost. Yet... Didn't they happen at the same time? In the same...
  29. 2 points
    The previous afternoon, Syreena had run out of grave moss while working on an alchemy project. She’d already harvested what was in the Andorhal graveyard, but the moss didn’t grow anywhere in abundance, not even in graveyards, and Andorhal did not provide enough of the stuff to meet the needs of her project. Now, shortly after midnight, she searched for moss in the cemetery of the Scarlet Monastery. Although she was on her guard, she moved with ease. What little that might remain of the fanatical organization here were mostly asleep inside, and she was not disturbed as she pulled moss from tree trunks and gravestones in the moonlight. As she reached for a bit of the fuzzy plant from one headstone, however, her hand paused inches from the stone, and her head tilted to the side as she stared at the carved words before her, her expression suddenly grown cold with hatred. Symorick O. Tyrrell Paladin of the Light ~He burned brightest so we did not have to~ The date on the stone indicated that the man died just before the Legion invasions started. “I’m not even going to feel bad about what Sym’s going to do to you,” a smug human voice echoed in her mind. It was followed by an elven voice, laden with the usual arrogance along with something that might have been awe. “Ah…The famed Scarlet Inquisitor.” Her memories of that time had been scrambled, erased, retrieved, and repaired with varying degrees of success. But the Forsaken were a willful race, and with great effort, she could recall some of the details of her time spent as a prisoner of the Alliance. Now, as she stared with mounting rage at the name before her, she heard the Inquisitor’s own voice, cold and hard and lacking any empathy. “The next time I see you, I will not be so kind.” “Well, here I am, you fellin’, torturing, monster of the Light,” Syreena growled. “And there you are.” Although she was not actually tortured or questioned by the dead man that lay under the stone she was crouched in front of, the threat of him was used often against her during her imprisonment. The threat alone was effective though, especially after meeting him one night there. He towered over her, so she was face to face with a Scarlet tabard worn over a shirt that still bore the red splatter marks of his recent work. “See something you like?” he asked when he noticed her staring at the tabard. “Nothing I haven’t seen before,” she replied simply, minding her tongue. She knew firsthand what Scarlet Inquisitors were capable of, and this one could wield the Light. In the graveyard, Syreena muttered to herself. “Two down, three to go.” And one of those three was indirectly under her influence, even if she couldn’t outright kill her right now. She gripped and regripped her daggers in agitation. It pleased her to know yet another of her tormentors was dead. She wondered how he died. She hoped it was a horrible, painful death, and she was disappointed that she didn’t get to see it. Now, he lay at rest in a peaceful cemetery, under a tree with moonlight filtering down to his grave. She felt cheated. The man was dead, true, but her desire for vengeance on him was left unfulfilled. Or was it? Her eyes narrowed, a telltale sign that the little rogue’s brain was working. After some time had passed, a slow grin twisted her patchwork face and bared her filed pointy teeth as she stood up. “Paladin of the Light, Inquisitor of the Crusade, Doctor of the Aegis,” she crooned wickedly. “You will rest in peace no longer.” Satisfied with her idea, she made her way out of the cemetery and headed for Brill to put her plan into motion.
  30. 2 points
    “Malkaris, report to the Inquisitor’s office. Now.” Syreena’s voice over the hearthstone carried a sense of urgency and authority not often heard from the little rogue. She was pacing behind her desk when the warlock arrived. Despite her impatience, she resisted the urge to just drag him with her to the Monastery and order him to do what she wanted. After all, this wasn’t a typical Grim task she was about to ask him for. Instead, she thanked him for coming and told him she needed a favor. Malkaris raised a brow curiously and there was a playful twinge at the corner of his mouth. “I see by your look, you’re willing to listen to it.” “I’m all ears,” the elf said. And with that, he pulled out a pouch containing a few elf ears. “Qabian wanted me to give that to you, by the way.” For once, Syreena was more interested in the task at hand than in adding to her collection of ears, so she got straight to the point. “If I remember correctly, you have some skills in…making the dead live again.” The warlock stiffened slightly, glancing around unconsciously but slowly, but his curiosity deepened, and his smile widened. “I’ve been known to dabble….” “What is your success rate?” the Shadowblade asked him. “Depends on the task. What would you like me to do?” Syreena arched a brow, feeling her impatience rising again. “Isn’t it obvious?” Malkaris grinned and shrugged. “Well. There’s m ore to the art than just making dead things walk or do a dance. There are requirements, depending. Do you want whatever it is that you’re looking to raise to feel? To remember figments, not enough to know, but enough to torment?” “Oh, I definitely want to torment,” she confirmed. A frost gale blustered through to the office. The tinkle of bone chimes resounded with the sound of footsteps. Syreena looked up and nodded to Khorvis. “Lasher,” she said in the way of greeting. Malkaris also nodded to the orc. “Shadowblade,” he grunted, with a mix of admiration and vitriol. Syreena and Malkaris continued the conversation, going over details. Then Khorvis, having watched the two concoct their plot with an obvious air of distaste, spoke up. “That does sound like something unnatural to me, felmancer. Of whom the fel do you speak?” But it was Syreena who answered. “Symorick Tyrrell. I found his grave. Will you help us dig him up?” “Let me be clear,” Khorvis answered, as he stroked the twin braids of his beard. “I do not know who the fel you still speak of. Will this aid the Mandate?” Although Syreena was disappointed that Khorvis didn’t remember the name, she answered confidently. “Yes. He will kill many Alliance.” Malkaris looked between the two. “For the record, I don’t particularly care if it does or not. It’ll be nice to raise a corpse or two for a change.” Khorvis stomped to his feet. “Fine. Even after so many years here on Azeroth, my Common still do be the stuff of hellboar shit. Tyrrell sounds like a name we may have crossed. I will find a shovel.” Khorvis went off to find a shovel, and the other two left the office as well, still talking details. “Can you do anything to make him be my pet and do whatever I say?” she asked. “That I can,” the warlock answered. “But if you want absolute obedience, I need something of you. A piece of you—a memory, body part, something with meaning…” He pointed at her one remaining ear. “No,” she said quickly. He held up his hands in a “don’t stab the messenger” fashion. “Necromancy ever has been an art of give and take. The more you give, or…borrow, the more you can take.” The little rogue bit off a chunk of a fingernail and gave it to Malkaris. “That do?” Khorvis returned with a shovel. “Where do be the grave of this Tyrrell?” “The Scarlet Monestary cemetery.” “Shall we then?” Malkaris suggested, and the three departed to go gravedigging.
  31. 2 points
    The small farm outside of Andorhal was coming along nicely. Syreena was pleased with the progress she was making on the herb gardens, and the workers were scheduled to start tomorrow on digging out a room under the barn for her alchemy lab. As she tended her growing herb garden, she paused to look over her land. Finally, after so many years of living in sewers and tents and inns and the guild hall, the little rogue had finally decided to buy her own place with some of the vast amounts of gold she’d accumulated over the years through various means, most of them questionable if not outright illegal. It was peaceful here, she thought, and although peaceful wasn’t normally her preferred atmosphere, it was a nice change of pace at times. It was especially welcome at her own home when she was working on her personal projects. Just as she was musing about how much progress she could make in her alchemy projects, she heard a strange tearing noise nearby and turned to see what it was. A dark purple portal was opening just a few yards away. A man stepped through the void portal, wearing dark leathers, light hair and facial hair, and a black eyepatch. One of his arms was made of an odd metal now, but Syreena’s undead flesh crawled as she recognized Geodorik Deepwater, the halfling of few words who seemed to oversee security for Eternal Aegis when she was a prisoner there. Her memories of that time were still fuzzy and incomplete, despite all attempts to remedy that, but she did have broken and distorted recollections of Geo’s hands on her as he bound her wrists behind her back, or tied her legs together so she couldn’t run, or shoved her into a cell. Now, judging by the look in his eye and the pistol in his hand, he was here for only one reason, and he wasn’t planning to wait to see it through. Armed with only a garden trowel in her hand, Syreena didn’t hesitate. She threw the little spade at Geo’s face, which was just enough distraction to jolt the revolver’s aim away from her head. She grunted as the bullet pierced her stomach instead, flowing right through her leather armor as if it weren’t even there, but at least that wouldn’t kill her there. Neither rogue wasted any energy on words. Syreena did not bother with asking why he was here, or trying to taunt him with insults, or attempting to intimidate him with threats. Though details were fuzzy, she knew without question that he was all business when dealing with her, thorough, and more than competent. As he raised the revolver for a second shot, Syreena was already in motion, rocking back on one heel to kick her other foot at Geo’s wrist. She felt the impact all the way to her hip, but the gun went sailing through the air. With the pistol gone, Geo drew two swords. As Syreena spun away, she pulled three small throwing knives from slots on her chest armor and flung them at him with deadly precision. He was quick with his swords though, and managed to deflect one of the blades. Another stuck in his armor and did no harm. The third blade, however, landed in the exposed flesh of his living arm. Syreena saw the reassuring sight of crimson blood running down his forearm as she drew two long daggers from her belt. Geo barely winced as he yanked the blade from his arm. Blood sprayed in an arc with the movement. The two stared at each other, and as one, moved in, both raising their blades for attack. Geo had the reach with the swords, but one of his arms was injured, and Syreena quickly took advantage of that, striking that arm again and again until it was near useless to the halfling. Her success did not come without a cost, however. One of her own arms was missing a chunk of flesh, her torso was pierced and sliced, and now Geo had her effectively pinned against the stone wall of the house. His demonsteel arm was raised, ready to pummel her head. He knew that was the only way to do permanent damage to a Forsaken. She ducked at the last second though, and his mechanical fist went through the wall, damaging the arm at the wrist in the process. Geo raised his sword and brought it down at Syreena’s neck, in a strike meant to decapitate the Forsaken. Her own dagger, however, had found its way under his chest piece and pierced the skin there, taking the momentum out of his swing just as it cut through the skin of her neck. Syreena thought this wound to her neck felt different somehow, but she would deal with that later. “I told you I would kill you someday,” Syreena hissed at him. In truth, she couldn’t remember saying such a thing to him, but it sounded like something she would say. Her golden glowing eyes were fixed on his face as she drove the dagger deeper up under his armor, and the tip of the blade went through his heart. This was something she would not forget. She studied him like that for a few minutes before pulling her weapon from his chest. She sheathed one dagger, but kept the other in hand, just in case of...anything. Going through Geo’s armor and pockets, she took any coins she found, as well as any other items that looked useful. The wrist of the mechanical arm was severely damaged after going through the stone wall. She was certain that house was severely damaged as well, but right now, she was more interested in the Eternal Aegis man that lay dead before her. “One down, four to go,” she said softly to herself. She finally put her dagger away and picked up one of Geo’s swords. She lifted it high and brought it down with all her strength at the weak point in the demonsteel wrist. After several tries, the blade finally cut through all the metal and the hand was free for her to take as a trophy. With the hand safely tucked into her armor, she moved to cut off Geo’s head, thinking she was way overdue in sending presents to Marrus and the rest of the Aegis. Before she had the chance to collect his head though, purple flames engulfed the body. The body was quickly consumed by the flames. When the void flames finally died out, nothing remained on the ground except a dark purple burn patch on the ground. Syreena reached up to scratch the side of her neck where Geo had cut her. She was no stranger to a variety of injuries, but this felt different. It was itchy, and, although she couldn’t see it, the color of the wound matched the purple of the patch on the ground. ((Story by Geodorik and Syreena))
  32. 2 points
    Warning: Mature content The air out in the Plaguelands was thick enough to taste, a pungent mixture of rotting meat and plantlife amongst a myriad of even less pleasant odors. He shuddered in revulsion and urged his dreadsteed to pick up its pace as he rode through the parched, grassy hills. The path he had chosen was not the easiest but it was less likely to draw attention from the living who had established dominion over the main roads. Even after a decade of warfare, the wilds still belonged to the dead and the diseased. The diseased were the reason that he had come in the first place. When the plague began to spread amongst the humans, the Mossflayer tribe had rejoiced. What group wouldn't be happy to see such misfortune befall a hated enemy? Yet their joy did not last as the very land they sought to reclaim turned into a spoiled prize. As the sickness spread amongst the humans, the land itself became tainted. The desperate need for untainted game drove the tribe into a trap created by the Scourge and their followers, leaving them as another casualty in the developing conflict. The tribe had fallen, but until their dying day they had lived on this doomed soil. If any spirits knew of disease and ruination, it was the trolls who had shuffled off their mortal coil here. For the hundredth time that hour alone he checked the charm he had crafted before beginning his voyage. The knucklebones had been taken from a human corpse and left to soak in a jar; in a cocktail of rotting sludge of plant matter, the venom of the local fauna, and strips of diseased flesh taken from the living dead themselves. He had vomited immediately when the bones had been withdrawn from the muck and even hours later with several layers of leather separating his skin from the stained bone he still felt unclean. It had taken him far too long to realize that that was how he knew it was working. When the charm no longer made him uncomfortable, he was getting further away from the entity he was tracking. A ring of dead trees surrounded a patch of yellowed grass that had been trampled flat with long dead firepit had been dug in the center. Surrounded by bones lying flat on their backs or sides it was easy to guess what had happened. No weapons had been drawn and there were no tracks leading back out of the area. The adventurers had simply gone to sleep, never to wake again. A chill up his spine followed by a wave of nausea left him dizzy. He had arrived at his destination and the momentary relief was soon buried beneath the dread of what came next. He knew not the name of the spirit he wished to bargain with nor did he have a piece of his target; all he had was the charm he used to sense it and what would ultimately be used to contain its blessing. The Amani trolls had a sense of superiority that could not be removed. The spirits here would surely be darkened by the magic that hung over the land like a shroud. His appeal would be blind and filled with guesswork and if that failed he would be at the mercy of the offended spirit. With that sobering thought, he set to work to prepare the area to appeal to the dead. The bones were not cleared from the campsite but repositioned until they were groveling before the firepit. The humiliation of a former enemy would have to be enough to stroke its ego. He withdrew a pair of vials from his pocket, one green and one red. The contents of the green vial were thick and bitter to the point that he had to force his mouth shut and swallow. His body reflexively tried to stop him, a survival instinct against ingesting poison. He would prove he was suffering and unwell, just like the land. He stripped down to his loincloth and reached into the ashes of the firepit. HIs black stained fingers were moist with some unknown filth that had mixed into the ashes. The combination of death and filth was perfect for his means, but it still made his flesh crawl as he painted patterns and symbols in black across his bare chest, arms, and legs. His body became a canvas telling a story of his desire to destroy, the spirit would know this and choose whether or not to make an appearance. He flicked a hand and reignited the firepit with a sickly green flame. Fel was almost universally despised, but the spirits of the land wallowed in sickness and corruption. The magic was merely another form of suffering for them to enjoy. The final piece of his performance came from his pack. Two curved, sickle-like knives with freshly sharpened edges. He held one in each hand, one in a reverse grip, the other in an upright grasp. To mark oneself was to pay tribute, to bleed was to pay tribute. The Loa would see just how far he was willing to go just to draw its attention. He would be damned if he did not make a lasating first impression. There was no need for subtelty. His dance began with a scream of pain as he drew the blade across his shoulder and drew a strip of hide away as easily as one would peel a carrot. The agony did not die with time, it only grew worse as the poison took hold. His veins were growing heavier and itched maddeningly from the inside. Every beat of his heart sent fire through his veins as Syreena's mixture began to spread. His movements were shaky as he high stepped and screamed around the circular clearing. He threw in a spin here and there as he drew the blades across his exposed skin. More bloody lines were dug across his body, more strips of flesh were pulled away and dropped onto the blood moistened earth and speckled the bones. His blood mixed with the filthy ash paint, rendering the symbols difficult to read and meaningless as they ran and smeared across his flesh. It soon became all he could do do stay upright as he throatily wailed a song without words, rhythm, or even meaning. His nonsensical verse was puncuated randomly by shouts of pain as he looked for another unmarred patch of skin to cut open. The flame rose and hissed as he flicked the blood from his blades onto it with violent motions and spins. Unbeknownst to him, the flames had begun to twist and another shadow stretched away from the light. He had practiced the dance and the motions he would take well in advance, but even if he knew the steps it became impossible to follow as his senses became dulled and his body grew weaker. The poison Syreena had given him him left him dizzy and nauseous; he should have expected such a high-quality agent from his friend. He began laughing hysterically as he realized that the one time he would have accepted someone giving him an inferior product was the one time they went above and beyond his requirements, and it was all to hurt him. His steps faltered, his legs wobbled on bones made of jelly, and soon afterwards he crashed to the ground. " Ya try too hard." An amused, wet sounding voice gurgled from behind him. It had worked! Relief washed over him, indistinguishable from the waves of nausea as he struggled to rise. He looked upon the spirit he had called and immediately fell into another fit of dry heaving with his eyes tightly shut. He had seen war, he had seen the dead, he had seen mass graves and mutilation, but the form the spirit had taken was indescribable. His reaction earned another gurgling, wet noise that was nothing short of a violation of what laughter should be. " Well little hexer, ya put on a show to call me an' I be flattered. Now ya can't even look at me? Don't have the stomach ta look upon the dead anymo?" Tahzani forced his head up with sweat stinging his eyes and blurring his vision. The hindrance made the horrid form before him barely tolerable; brown, bloated skin whose surface crawled was all he could make out. He gulped down his bile and spoke with the strongest voice he could manage, " Loa of de Mossflayah. He who embodies this blighted land. I have come to bargain." " As it has been and always will be. Ya honor the traditions calling upon the ancestors... Though ya be far away from home, Revantusk." " Dis land reflects the soul of the one I want exposed." The creature before him let out an intrigued noise and leaned forward, silently commanding him to continue. " She waves her banners and preaches ideals that she forces others to follow, but none of her army does. She be a hypocrite... A tyrant... Irredeemable scum surrounded by filth. I want her to suffer, I want her to scream an' weep, I want her fair features to mirror the rotten core dat i've seen!" " Talkin' about dirty insides, look at yaself. Ah can taste de poison in ya veins, the dirt in ya blood... De taint on jah very SOUL!" It released another gurgling mockery of amusement at the flare of anger that crossed Tahzani's features. " I can do that for ya, but what be in it for me?" The jovial attitude took on an edge of greed and an unspoken threat. If he failed to please this one, the debilitating illness he felt would be a candle to a bonfire. " Ya tribe lay dead or enslaved by de Cult a de Damned an' what remains a de Scourge in dis area. Even as we speak dere be a sect of human holy warriors workin' ta purge de lands of what remains of jah tribe." The amused air that surrounded the plague ridden being disappeared, for a moment he feared he would not get the chance to finish his statement. " Wah be comin'. De Alliance an' de Horde been workin' ta rid dis land a de Legion but it ain't gonna last, it nevah does. An' ah know someone just as eagah as jah ta see Humanity fall. Jah gimme jah blessin', an' de sickness dat brought de Mossflayah such joy can be used against jah enemies once moah. Jah gimme jah blessin' fah dis one elf, an' i'll make suah it gets ta de right people ta be spread amongst de humans. I will give jah vengeance beyond de grave." He could no longer meet the Loa's gaze and his head dropped towards the ground in a gesture of submission. His heart was laboring to beat as the blood rushed in his ears. Every pulse of the organ sent a wave of nausea through his guts and a surge of fresh pain through his blackened veins. " Half for you, half for humanity." The warning was delivered and quickly followed by a violent surge of nausea that sent him to the bloodied mud in a thrashing heap. He vaguely registered his own muffled screaming and the feeling of his heel being brought down upon the brittle skull of one of the begging skeletons. The poison in his veins no longer registered as a cold lump settled in his gut and a feeling of wrongness permeated his very being. The charm found its way to his hands once more; the knucklebones were gone, more accurately they had become part of the liquid. The unnatural, magically induced disease had reduced them to a gelatinous slurry that settled into the bottom of the vial, the amber-brown liquid had become cloudy and threaded with wisps of darker energy that squirmed and wriggled like worms made of smoke. He could taste blood and bile as he reached a violently shaking limb for his bag to grab the antidote. Even as he downed the thick, red liquid he knew that it would only take the edge off of what had become a minor pain. He dropped the empty antidote and reached for his hearthstone. " Get me outta heah..." He whispered hoarsely, invoking the spell. Within moments, he disappeared, leaving behind a sodden, bloodstained, and fel tainted campsite. ***** His skin crawled, cold and slimy in contrast to the burning dryness of his veins and throat. He squirmed on his bed in the grip of a fever dream and pleaded with the unseen as his heels dragged and kicked at the soiled sheets at the foot of the bed. The Forsaken watched him with unease. His wrists and ankles had been strapped down to prevent him from thrashing out of the sweat and blood stained bed. He was covered in maggots that had immediately taken to removing the diseased, dead flesh from around the peeled sections of hide. His wounds were inflicted by tools that had to be wrestled away from the delirious bartender before treatment could even begin. Such wounds were painful but rarely fatal for trolls, but the effects of the wound went far beyond simple bleeding. He had already sent for more maggots as several of the plump white creatures had already curled in on themselves and fallen still. The dead flesh itself seemed cursed. Tahzani's former profession was known to him but he had never witnessed the cost with his own eyes. He had been successful, the tainted trinket was proof of that and had been removed from his person to allow him to recover. Hooked up to tubes and bags of fluid, the pale, dark-veined troll was a sad sight. " Will this solve anything?" He asked the insensate troll. Feeling a dim surge of anger at the carelessness of the hexer. " Will this make either of you happy? ANYONE?" He sighed as the troll released another pathetic whimper and shuddered. The next question pierced the haze of the troll's mind. Everything he had suffered through because of her and for *her*. His ultimate reward for the act was most likely a prison cell for the rest of his days if he was not slain immediately. "Is it worth it?" Selris asked quietly. " No." Tahzani answered with a weak croak. The answer meant for a far broader question than what had been asked. The realization of what he had said sincerely was worse than the pain that left him bedridden for the rest of the night.
  33. 2 points
    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.
  34. 2 points
    8.3.17 So much has happened these past few months. I’m still helping Karthok with his plans to destroy Sanctuary. Since my last encounter with Lazarus, I’ve had Iroh deliver him a pie, along with a beating. But then I’ve been thinking. Maybe straight out violence isn’t the best way to deal with them. There are many more of them than there are of me. I have the feeling I should be playing the long game with them instead, at least until I find out if Karthok’s plans will be successful. Hopefully, he won’t let me down. So far, I’ve stolen some relics from Silithus for him, and I killed an elf in Suramar. Both were easy jobs, but I’m not sure why they were important to him. He doesn’t let me in on his plans. He doesn’t talk much to me at all anymore. He said he will destroy Sanctuary. Others say what he’s doing will destroy the whole world. Oh well. If that happens, at least Sanctuary and all the Alliance will be ended. Peace through annihilation. I haven’t been to the cabin much lately. I am as healed as I will ever be, so it was time to return to the Grim hall and resume my duties there. Besides, barbecues and quiet evenings aren’t really my thing. Sometimes I wonder if that’s what a real family would have been like. I still see many of them at the Cantina, and I may stop back now and then to visit, but my place is with the Grim. I’m still working on new potions and plagues. There’s an orc guard at the Borrowed Time gate I’ve been experimenting on. He doesn’t know it of course, but he’s an easy target. He likes cookies. He seems nice enough, but Fael crossed a line in how he spoke to me, and he failed in his task to find out what happened to Lucion. So I don’t feel any guilt in using one of his guards as a lab rat. I don’t know if word of my success with the relics in Silithus has gotten around somehow, or if it’s a coincidence, but I received a strange letter a few days ago about a similar job, but with a much more dangerous target. Qabian was listed as my contact, and he said Borghul was mentioned in a similar letter that he received. Is Borghul the one behind this? Is it him that wants these rare spellbooks? Because, given the history, I’m sure nothing could go wrong in giving such powerful items to a Grim warlock…..
  35. 2 points
    I've been thinking a lot about storylines and storytelling recently, and so I wanted to take a moment to post. I think there's another version of this where I write it as a recommendation for people, especially people that have never run a plotline before, but at the end of the day, I really don't feel like I'm enough of an authority on anything in order to be doling out that advice. In fact, the only reason I'm really writing this is because it's 2AM and I'm working the graveyard shift and there's no one to talk to and, oh, yeah, because I kind of don't feel like I've set aside a time or space to collect and categorize my own thoughts on this stuff before. So, consider this that. I also have no idea where to start this, I feel like I've cooked a bunch of spaghetti and now I need to figure out some way to get it back in the box it came in all straight and flat. But I suppose I'm going to begin at the beginning: Why I Care About Structure I think story structure is absolutely of paramount importance. It's basically the most important thing that goes into a storyline, like, for me, at the end of the day the thing that most often determines a story is either good or bad is structure. Like, yeah, I've definitely seen certain things take off inside of a story and really carry everything on its back, like sometimes you can hook into a super sweet villain with very cool powers or motivation, or just one event or character relationship just completely sells the whole thing, but man, nine times out of ten? Good or bad story in RP comes down to structure. And I'm sure there are plenty of folks who RP for plenty of reasons, but it all boils down to good storytelling for me. My number one goal is to tell a good story. And I think the straightest line to get there is structure. Shit, I think I need to define some terms. Ok, when I talk about structure, I'm kind of bundling up the overall outline, top down view of a story and character stuff, plus a little consideration for like pacing and themes and all that. What does the beginning/middle/end of your story look like? What are some of the character arcs that you're planning? What are the character motivations going into this thing? What idea or concept are you trying to get across in this story? How are you going to keep things from going too quick? Too slow? Getting boring? What is the size of the storyline? I guess these are the kinds of questions that get bundled up and answered under structure for me, and more importantly, they're the things that I want to dissect when I talk to folks about their structures of their stories. And I think some of those questions are things we just don't think about when starting a storyline. Like, the implied answer for "what is the size" seems to be "anyone that wants to come in and join." But I also kind of think that chopping out extraneous stuff to the story and really drilling down and focusing on it where it counts is a very good thing. Like, I think it's OK to have a small scale storyline for a handful of people that's very tailormade for them, or a large scale one that's very open-ended and generalist so that everyone on the server can get involved and go nuts. But I also feel like it's a decision that I don't really think about a lot of the time, I just kind of GO and don't take the time to think really. I guess what I'm really describing is that structure forces you to think about these things. Holy shit, that's super what I'm trying to get at. I think a big danger with RP storylines is not thinking about them enough. Not focusing on the details and going through what you're trying to accomplish piece by piece. There's this temptation just to do it and not think about it, and structure, thinking about structure and planning and figuring shit out from the ground up makes sure that you don't just shoot from the hip. In one sense, I like the shooting from the hip. I think improv and especially spontaneous kind of storytelling moments can be profound and genius. But I also think that they can be poor and relying too heavily on them just forces things down weird, shitty, unfulfilling paths. Alright, I want to zero in on this: Structure forces you to think about your story, and the more you think critically about your story the better it will be. I guess that's my first principle for how I think about storylines. The Three-Act Structure I apologize to everyone that went to film school. But I can't get it out of my brain, I love the three act structure and it's my favorite template to figure things out. I think there's a danger, especially with TAS, to making all your shit formulaic by overrelying on it, but with the right kinds of failsafes installed, it's basically bulletproof. The divide between Beginning/Middle/End, it's just so fundamental, so natural to the building blocks of story that I can't rip it from my head. That said, I don't think it should look like it does for a lot of movies and stuff. I think RP demands its own subdivision about the TAS that makes it something specific. But I'm going to break it down I think. First, as a quick disclaimer: I'm advocating using this as a jumping off point for how to outline a story, rather than as a definitive formula that you can plug your variables into and a good story will pop right out. If I'm taking that principle above and using structure to force me to think about my story and make it better, using the TAS as a formula doesn't actually accomplish that goal, you're literally using it to avoid thinking more about it at that point. The TAS is about giving structure to your thought processes while you're writing and making sure that you're covering your bases. Defining Some Terms: Some terms I'm going to use, I think. The first is tension. The heart of everything in storytelling comes down to tension. You want to build tension and then release it, create problems and then solutions, and it's this ebb and flow of tension that's the addicting lifeblood of storytelling. Someone wants something. Then, they get it. A tension gets created, then resolved. Anything that happens in between those two things happening carries with it a tension, and the longer that you go between them, the more tension gets created. Creating a lot of tension is super fucking good. It is what hooks your players/audience in and demands their focus and attention. When tension is created, players want to play. When there's no tension, then there's no engagement. Ok, I'm really on to something with this tension stuff. The problem with tension comes down to letting it go too quickly or letting it go too long. Letting it go too quickly is when you're playing with kid gloves. You're pulling your punches. Mostly I see this kind of thing when players give themselves something "for free" like they're training to learn some new technique and then the next time you talk to them they demonstrate that they can use it flawlessly. The tension in there wasn't given enough time to build, so the release feels unsatisfying and unearned, On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have tension that goes on too long and never gets resolved. This kind of thing crops up in villain RP a lot, where the villain keeps escaping or coming back to life or straight up beating the heroes, and for a while that's great! It builds a lot of tension and makes it so that when you finally take the villain down it's that much more satisfying, because he's evaded you so many times before now. But if it takes too long for that to happen, all that tension that gets built up starts to turn into frustration for the players, and then even releasing the tension doesn't necessarily make things better because it took so long to get there that all the tension is gone. To me, this stuff is what makes good or bad pacing, which is a tough term to define. If you're building and releasing your tensions in the right spots, then your story has good pacing, but if you're going too short and then too long and then too short sort of thing, then you're working with bad pacing. The third thing about tension is that tensions can and should be layered across one another methodically rather than haphazardly. Tension can be super small scale, resolved inside of a scene, hell inside of one exchange. Bilbo freaking out at Frodo when Frodo won't let him see the Ring in Rivendell is created and resolved immediately, because Bilbo does that freaky eye thing lash out and then instantly apologizes. But tension can also be created for the super long term. The tension of Sauron using the one ring to conquer middle earth takes three whole books/movies to resolve. And tensions of all shapes and sizes get littered in between there, mostly to make sure that things stay interesting and the story builds upon itself. Helms Deep is an important tension that feels great in the moment, but also sets up Rohan to come to Gondor's aid later in the series. Keeping track of the tension that you're creating and then releasing and doing your best to hit the right points is the nuance, the minor detail stuff to structure, the building blocks that the rest of the structure is built on. Every scene, from beginning to end, should create some tension and then release it, but also build the larger overarching tension that it's contributing to. The second term is just: "Act." Act is a functional term, used to functionally describe what stage any particular arc or story is going through. Act 1 is the beginning, and is where the status quo is established, the characters and arcs introduced, and the main problem is set up and starts building its tension. Act 2 is where the dynamic storytelling takes place, where the characters start making progress at tackling the problems set up in Act 1, both changing the nature of the story by acting upon it, but changing themselves as the story acts upon them. Act 3 is where the problem gets resolved, where the arcs finish, and where characters and the status quo settle back down after having been changed by the events of the story. When we define Acts this way, we're dodging the formula problem, and we're nesting the structure of stories in our minds like Russian Nesting Dolls. Acts have acts within them and acts within those, all describing and setting up the beginning/middle/end of the smallest minutae. Even inside of a single scene. Your PC goes to interrogate someone, beats the answers out of them, and then leaves them in the jail cell missing a few teeth. That interaction all happens in one scene, the prisoner may never be seen again, but it's got a Act 1/2/3 when you introduce that guy and then beat him up and then leave him to rot. And even though that whole scene is part of a series of scenes that makes your overarching Act 2 (where the characters start making progress on the problem,) it's still got little Act 1/2/3 bits in there. Act is a lot of time used as a placement term, like "this thing had problems in Act 2," but the term "Act" is a functional one, not a temporal one and even though Act 1/2/3 is sequential, it's very tricky to nail it down in time. For instance, each "Act" should also have the little minor sub "Acts" that are the beginning, middle and end of the sequence itself, that I described above. So, if you think that prisoner from above has problems because he wasn't established well enough, you might be tempted to describe that as "Act 2 problems" because that scene takes place in Act 2. But the problem you're really describing (not enough introducing this character to the story) is an Act 1 problem, because that's the function of Act 1 (to introduce stuff.) I super apologize if this kind of nomenclature is confusing. But now I want to dig a little deeper. Act 1 Ok, so, Act 1 is the beginning. Pretty simple, right? But holy moly do I think this is the step that gets skipped a lot in RP and is so detrimental to skip when you're writing for RP. It's so fucking tempting to skip this step when you're prepping your storyline because if you're putting the work in, then you know Act 1! You know the characters! Their arcs! The problem! The world! And if you're viewing RP from that kind of self-centered point of view, the idea that you skip Act 1 is easy. The trick is to view your story and RP from as much of the players'/audiences' perspective as possible. Because your job in Act 1 is to introduce shit to the audience that's reading your stuff and reacting to it, that you're working with to get from point A to point B. Honestly, I shouldn't call this a "trick" really because most people have a natural inclination to it somewhat, but it's very easy to get lost because of one idea: not everyone reads all the RP that you do, so you are going to have to repeat yourself. Honestly, this is one of those places where RP gets unique, and from the perspective of the writer it's a huge negative because you feel like you're being redundant and repeating yourself constantly, but the effect is a huge positive, because not everyone has seen what you're written in other places and you need to backtrack and set things back up more than once in order to make sure that they're up to speed. Even in small doses, this can be very important, like describing the setting of your personal home for the first time or what a character is wearing when they walk into a room. Even in the context of discord RP, where everything is saved and logged and people can go back and write and read these huge big long things, it's story suicide to assume that everyone's reading what you're reading and then leaving key stuff out because of it. In general, I think there are two big pieces to act 1 things that need to happen, essentially introducing the status quo of the world for your storyline and establishing the status quo of the characters. In movies, the first thing that typically happens is the world gets introduced with what's called the "Point of Attack" which is the thing that typically has nothing to do with the main characters that gets the ball rolling. It's the thing that they then bounce off of and react to when they choose to leave their current status quo behind and move into doing Act 2 things. In RP, things are messier than that. The characters aren't something that you own or grow or wield, so you might need to start with them first and then move into the Point of Attack because it'll take some time for other people to do things. Act 1 establishes a lot of the time a deficiency, a flaw in the characters that are built to be resolved, something that the character is hung up on that they need to grapple with and overcome over the course of the story. I'm actually going to break this into its own paragraph because it's so fucking vital to making good RP and storylines. Good RP when you're GMing a story is a gift that you give to another player. It creates a bond of trust and mutual admiration, because players trust you with their characters and you reward them by giving them something interesting or unique or novel to work through, usually coming with it some kind of reward once they've solved their own personal hurdle. When you're designing your problems, when you're designing your villains, when you're designing your worldbuilding and status quo and everything else, you want to do so with other players in mind, give them interesting shit to do that reflects on them personally and uniquely. Make the villain a dark reflection of one of the heroes, sharing some similar qualities, but also warping those qualities into something sinister and evil. Incorporate something from the character's past, something in their backstory that will hit a sore spot and allow the character to move past it. Include a challenge or aspect of the problem that's specifically within the skill set of your players, something that is tailor made for them to contend with and solve. There's a small caveat here, because sometimes players will not like you taking liberties with their characters, but on the whole, you are giving this RP to someone else so make it a good, personalized awesome gift for them. The second piece of Act 1 is the inciting incident, which is typically where the Point of Attack gets revealed to the players and they get to grapple with it the first time. Because Act 1 is tough to do in RP and can get jumbled, a lot of the time your Point of Attack and your Inciting Incident happen essentially back to back, because since the Point of Attack is something outside of the character's knowledge and a lot of time the character's knowledge and player's knowledge are one and the same, it's easy for them to miss that villain set up RP that you stashed away in a quick post in some other channel or forum thread somewhere. But if you can get them to see your Point of Attack, then all the better because the Point of Attack's tension is automatically resolved once the main characters encounter it for the first time and have to grapple with it. Your inciting incident also typically carries with it the first big introduction to the main tension of the whole story. In a typical "bad guy wants to do something bad" this is where the bad guy gets introduced and what he wants to do gets at least teased out to the players, though sometimes you can just reveal the whole thing and make Act 2 about jumping through a billion hoops to get there. When it comes to the nitty gritty, I love using Act 1 to set stuff up with a big event. They say you're supposed to start your story with some action, but in RP that maxim takes on new life since things are so naturally ongoing. When we all have characters that have been around for forever, introducing a storyline with a slow, plodding build up (while very, very doable) is much harder than throwing a big, climactic event to start things off with a bang. So much stuff has to be introduced in Act 1 that throwing it all into one event saves you a lot of time and real estate, and it also serves as a convenient status quo shifter for the characters in your story. People naturally gravitate towards events as placeholders in time and use them to define key turning points in their characters, big events make big splashes in people's lives, and so using that to introduce new characters, concepts, do the world building that you need to do, all of that works wonders. Also, it makes things a bit easier because if you're making a big splash it allows you to break some logic/narrative rules that you otherwise might have trouble grappeling with. For instance, if you want to introduce your villains, it's very tough to do that directly without a big, flashy event. Villains don't come out of the woodwork for nothing, and your villains can't get rounded up and beaten right at the start of Act 1. Getting them in the same room long enough with the players to introduce themselves, but not long enough that the players kick their collective tuchas and solve the problem before it starts is a fine line. I'm also a big fan of "the villains start by beating the shit out of the players and handing them a big loss." Doing this creates a natural arc for basically everyone because anyone who suffers that failure wants to overcome it later down the line, and when you can juxtapose your losing fight in Act 1 to your winning fight in Act 3, you get the most straightforward (in a good way!) character arc that you can muster. Plus, getting wrecked by the villains right off the bat does a great job of uncovering the deficiency/flaw/insecurity that you're going to be wanting your players to fight in order to give them a satisfying arc. The last piece of Act 1 is called the "Lock In" where the players decide to leave the comfort of their status quo and shake things up and commit to bringing down this big bad. RP has a funny way of messing with this section though, because not every fish takes the bait you give them and that's alright. Something that happens naturally in plenty of RP storylines is that the intended protagonists kind of fall by the way side as someone that you thought was only going to player a bit part takes up the slack. This is OK. Not everyone needs to commit to every story, and there's plenty of room for players who want to take a step back from the early aspects of a storyline only to "Lock In" at some point later down the line. Remember, Acts are functional terms, not temporal ones, and it's absolutely normal and fine for the "Lock In" to happen in the middle of Act 2 or Act 3 stuff that's going on elsewhere. If this kind of thing happens, the important piece of the puzzle is to make sure that someone locking in later gets the same Act 1 stuff they need in order to start off in the right context, and when everyone is moving through Act 2 problem solving, it can sometimes be hard to rope people in and give them the intro they need. The good news is, once you have your players locked in and ready to rock, now you can get busy with Act 2. And I don't mean to alert any spoilers, but Act 2 is when the fun stuff happens. Act 2 Act 2 is consistently some of the most fun stuff that happens in RP and Act 2 being so much fun is typically why people underserve their own Act 1s. It's tempting to jump right into the fun stuff and then fill in the gaps later, but it's a big mortgage you're writing there and a lot of the time the RP debt collectors catch up with you as your Act 2 stuff is coming to a close. I use the term "fun stuff" but Act 2 is pretty consistently the best period for going back and forth between GM and player, typically the GM sets up small problems and the player showcases various solutions until they find a good enough answer and progress forward. Act 1 can be unfun because you as the GM are controlling the Lion's share of the story. You have all the information and you need to barf it all up to the players (and they can only really latch on to some pieces of it.) But Act 2 is when the players get to start influencing the story in a big way. See, because you don't control every aspect of the story, and a lot of the time you're farming out important pieces of your story to other people, you need to remain flexible and open to their input. Something that I see happen pretty often is the GM scripts things out so rigidly ahead of time that anytime the players try and color outside the lines they are met with a big, fat no. And while failure on the players' part can be great to set up the contrast and growth I outlined above, you can't shower the player in failure and keep them engaged. And you especially can't shut down the players' creativity because it's a doubly demoralizing experience. If we wanted to be passive in our stories, we'd go watch TV and movies. We're RPing because the ability to affect the story as its being told is fun and interesting and compelling. The solution to this a lot of the time is to allow players to fail forward, where they try something and accomplish a piece or a percentage or gain something tangible despite their overall failure. This allows you to keep their progress in check if they're progressing too far too quickly, but also allows you to reward their efforts. Dolling out partial victories (or, on the flip side if things are moving too slowly, unexpectedly huge gains) allows you to make sure that the pacing stays on point, and you're not resolving tensions too quickly or too slowly. And I think all of that kind of thing, balancing your tensions, setting out interesting problems before your players and seeing what they come up with, is the heart of what makes Act 2 great. But that doesn't mean you wing it. I think there's a temptation to set out some scenarios for the players and allow them to figure out their own path through them, a lot of the time the path isn't going to be something that you see coming, but I'm never going to suggest that for a storyline someone just wing everything without a direction at least in mind. What you should probably be doing is setting out a start point and then an end point and then letting the players fill things in in between. Establish a problem ("We need to find Mcbaddie!") and keep the next stage of the quest in mind ("Once they have McBaddie, he tells them about the Fuck-u-lizer") but give the players the freedom to get from that point A to that point B the way that they want to ("I'm going to go smooch McBaddie's girlfriend and she'll give up his location because one of my skills is getting chicks to smooch me.") This gives the characters an opportunity to demonstrate their strengths and weaknesses in a satisfying way for them, but the overall skeleton of the story isn't being xylophoned into skeleton dust by players trampling all over what you laid out. This, I find, is a pretty good balance between what you as the GM want to do and what the characters want to do. And thus, is why Act 2 is the most fun stuff to do. Alright, let's get into some nitty gritty structural stuff. The last piece of information that we got was the lock in, where the character commits to the story and the quest at hand and decides that they're going to take responsibility for resolving whatever underlying tension got set up way earlier. After the players lock into the quest, they need a vector. In technical terms, a vector is a direction plus a magnitude, but in story terms that "magnitude" is mostly just a plan for what happens when heading in that direction. Most of the time as a GM, though, you only want to supply the direction. At the end of Act 1, Frodo agrees to carry the one ring to Mount Doom. This is his "Lock In." Then, the story gives him a direction (They are going to Caradras,) and a magnitude (he'll be joined by 8 companions and they'll journey as the fellowship of the ring.) This is his vector. I like this example because they don't make through Caradras because of Saruman and instead end up taking the Mines of Moria. No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, and no vector gets to its end point without shifts in its direction, magnitude or both. The point of giving a vector to your characters though is to reward them for their locking in. If you lock them in on your quest and don't give them a new direction to head in, some breadcrumb to follow, something that they can latch onto to accomplish, then all the enthusiasm and engagement and support you've just gained is then squandered. I also want to mention that I typically only give my characters the direction and let them figure out the magnitude. When you point them towards the goal and then let them figure out how they want to get there, you're beginning the back and forth problem solving that defines Act 2 fun stuff, so it's a good thing to put into their hands. Something else I want to mention really quickly is that the completion of the first vector should definitely carry with it a positive milestone for the characters (make the first step easy and the second step hard.) Movies a lot of the time reward the hero with some new skill or trait, but because of powergaming and power creep in RP, I typically bundle those kinds of things and dole them out as a reward for Act 3. You can give someone a temporary boost or bonus, but plan to take this away a bit down the line for fear that things get too powerful. If they find some magical sword that can do XYZ, make sure it gets stolen or broken by the end of Act 2, especially because this sort of thing is typically a great metaphor for the hubris of the character. They think they've gained what they need to take on the big bad, but really they still have far to go. The end of the first vector should then key the characters into a new vector to keep moving forward, and it almost always ends in a place that they didn't expect it to. The fellowship of the ring expect that they can use Caradras, but Saruman prevents them from using that pass, which forces them to adopt a new vector on the fly to Moria. This kind of bouncing around of vectors is the minute to minute stuff of your Act 2. It outlines the path that your characters are taking towards resolving the overall tension of the storyline. Most of the time, vectors will be disrupted by some unforeseen circumstance for the players and they'll have to adapt in order to compensate for this. It doesn't mean that they don't accomplish their goal, it just means that the plan they set out with might not work, and they'll need to figure out something new on the fly. The fellowship are still trying to get the Ring to Mordor, they just need to take a new path to get there. After the first few vectors in Act 2, you reach the midpoint, which is a big, fat disruption that typically shakes things up to their core. This isn't "Caradras is closed, find another way across," this is "Gandalf dies." In many films and stories, the mid point carries with it a major defeat for the characters, but this is less of a necessity than it all seems. The point is that you need to really shake things up and in many cases redefine the aims of the characters to prepare them for the big, big challenges to come. A lot of the time, you can accomplish this just by raising the stakes through the roof for your characters. When Gandalf dies, it shows everyone that this journey is going to be more difficult than they ever imagined, and they're going to have to face it without the most powerful member of their group in tow. That's a major defeat. But Man of Steel when Zod tells Superman that he's going to rebuild Krypton on the ashes of all humankind, that's not a major defeat. That's just the story raising the stakes into the stratosphere. When it becomes clear what the antagonist's main goal is, and the true horror of the threat that they're fighting is nakedly revealed for all to see, that huge raising of the stakes is what makes the disruption. This disruption can look like a lot of things, but the point of it should be to redraw the map of the situation for the characters and put them really onto the path to Act 3 main tension resolution, and that every vector they go on from here on out, is getting them closer and closer to that goal. In short, the vectors that your characters embark on at the top of Act 2 will never get them where they need to go. It's the vectors that they choose from the midpoint that will get them there. After the big disruption of the midpoint, you have a hurdle to get over. A lot of stories fuck it up here because now that the characters are actually on the path to resolution, how do you keep them from just jumping straight into Act 3? The answer in good stories comes down to sub plots a good amount of the time, other tangential focuses and goals that need to get resolved before moving any further can take place. It's a useful time to put in some breathing room for the characters and so they can collect their shit before they start trudging into Act 3 stuff. In a more conventional story, you'd give this time to other characters, let some of the supporting characters round up their shit and round off their edges before moving forward. But you don't really have that luxury in RP because not everyone is reading everything. This is why you work on sub plots, you give the characters a quick, immediate goal to accomplish that helps prepare them for the big transition into Act 3, without actually forcing the story into that direct a confrontation with Act 3 material yet. In LOTR, this is when they come to Lothlorien, and the members of the fellowship have to deal with their very recent loss and refocus before moving on. A lot of the time, you'll use this time to collect the next plot key to unlock that Act 3 goodness. Alright, now you know what McBaddie is up to, you just need to get his location so that you can finally put a stop to his existentially horrific plans. That process of finding his location is its own little mini-story inside of this section of Act 2, typically complete with villains and vectors unique to the subplot, but the players come out of it with someone definitive to show for it. A fire in their bellies, a determined look in their eye as they finally get ready to face down the biggest problem yet. But when you're done with that sub plot and you're ready to kick things into gear, you get to reach the end of Act 2, which is most often the lowest point for your characters. The end of Act 2 is where you stack shit high on your characters, where you make what they're working towards in an overarching story sense harder by hitting them personally. If someone they trust is deceiving them? This is where that distrust comes out. If they bonded hard with a particular NPC? This is where you brutally murder that NPC. If they have some lingering hang up that they haven't been able to get over, this is where that hang up gets attacked directly. The reason you do this is because you want the character to be facing its toughest challenge personally just before they start working to overcome the story's challenge. When a player who is at their lowest is strong enough to beat the bad guy, that creates the super satisfying underdog story that we all get so wrapped up in. You can have this stuff be linked to the main antagonist, but it's not a necessity. If the antagonist murders their new friend NPC or strips them of that super cool power that you gave them at the end of the first vector, that's fine, it heightens the tension and gives the character even more reason to go after the antagonist. But it's also fine to have just random bad shit happen to them to get them in this spot purely by coincidence. If you're feeling the frustration come out from the players, then I'd probably say lay off. You don't need to give the villain ANOTHER win. But if they're into it and you want to fan the flames of hate even higher, use the villain. Another version of this end of Act 2 phase can also be the "prepare for war" vector, where the final, big shape of Act 3 comes into play. I like using this a lot because it really ramps up the drama and tension before you move into Act 3 and it's some of the best and most interesting RP that you can get out of a team of players. I use this commonly when I've given the players everything they need, all the information they could possibly want, and let them get in the sandbox and really come up with their strategy from the ground up. If you have the right set of folks, the strategy, the plan that they're walking into Act 3 with outweighs the kind of personal drama and stakes that come from hitting them on a character level, because now they've properly outlined Act 3 for themselves and you get to fuck with all their beautiful, beautiful expectations. A lot of the time, this section of things is relegated to the very beginning of Act 3, and in my honest opinion not given enough time to breathe. The other reason I like doing this here is because it's a fantastic opportunity to rally the troops and get everyone on the same page before moving foward. In RP, what tends to happen is that the vectors are less "the team moves here, then here, then here" and more "eight different characters are probing eight different vectors." When that kind of thing happens, you ABSOLUTELY NEED TO NO FOR REAL YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST DO THIS because otherwise you're not giving the characters a chance to compare notes and strategize as a group. If those eight characters accomplished eight different goals and are bringing those things home, consolidating everything into one plan involving everyone moving forward makes your Act 3 planning much easier. You can splinter things up a bit if you want, for instance keeping 2 of your 8 out of the loop so they can come in as the cavalry at some point during Act 3, but you need to round up plot threads into plot yarn if you want to end this thing in a good way. By the by, you don't need to have those two things be different if you don't want to. In fact, you can have your characters plan for the final push AND get hit by their personal demons simultaneously if you want to maximize the drama, but it basically works either way. Act 3 Will actually be its own reply to this thread.
  36. 2 points
  37. 2 points
    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.
  38. 2 points
    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.
  39. 2 points
    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.
  40. 2 points
    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.
  41. 2 points
    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?
  42. 2 points
    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.
  43. 2 points
    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.
  44. 2 points
    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. ------
  45. 2 points
    ((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.
  46. 2 points
    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.
  47. 2 points
    Eight months ago….. The Legion was invading Azeroth. We had been fighting them all over the world. Wave after wave of demons kept coming. Plans were being made to travel to the Broken Shore and fight them there. Although I would not be among the first to travel the Shore, I took a walk one day from the gates of Orgrimmar to Bladefist Bay and observed the preparations being made. Weapon smiths, cooks, armorers, combat trainers, and other various vendors were there, trying to make some coin for themselves while they better prepared heroes to fight a never-ending enemy. These heroes—champions, mercenaries, adventurers—were lined up at the Bay, waiting their turn to board the ship that would soon take them to battle. Perched on a post at the land end of the docks, I watched them as they loaded themselves aboard with various expressions. Some looked eager, some frightened, some resigned. All had sharp weapons, shiny armor, and a sack full of food from the vendors. Each one was determined not to be among the first casualties of this crowd when they landed, as if giving their coin to the vendors would prevent that. I was just about to return to the city when I caught sight of a Forsaken on the deck. By now, I had given up all hope of ever finding Lucion. He still crossed my mind from time to time, but I had long ago accepted that he was nothing more than a sweet memory of happier days. But I recognized the priest on the ship. If Razvaan wasn’t second in command of Lucion’s guild, he was close to it. I had met him a few times back in the days when Lucion and I were close. If anyone knew what happened to Lucion, it would be him. “Razvaan!” I called his name as I ran down the docks, but he didn’t hear me. The ship pulled away from the docks, along with my chance to learn what had become of Lucion. I decided to head to the Broken Shore right away. However, when I went back to Orgrimmar to begin preparations, I found an opportunity to strike at Sanctuary which eventually led to the Ghostlands and a three-month delay. One month ago….. After watching Razvaan leaving Bladefist Bay, I found myself thinking more often of him and Lucion. I wondered if Lucion could have been aboard that very ship. The possibility would not leave me. I did my share of killing demons on the Broken Shore, but that wasn’t my only goal there. I kept an eye out always for Lucion or Razvaan or anyone else wearing Broken Sanity’s colors. I told nobody. Muatah once told me that it was wrong to waste time looking back. It was not the Grim way to reminisce or go searching for long lost loved ones. I would find no support there. I should spend my time killing Alliance and demons, not chasing ghosts from long ago. Then one day in Dalaran, I saw him again. Through the crowd, a block or so ahead of me, I caught a glimpse of Razvaan. I called out to him and tried to push through the mass of people, but again, he didn’t hear me, and I lost him. For days, I sat on the railing of the Legerdemain balcony, watching for him, but if he passed by there again, I never saw him. Frustrated, I considered my options. I was no tracker. I had no skill for finding people in a city as crowded as Dalaran, or a land as big as the Broken Shore. If I wanted to find Razvaan, if I wanted a chance to find out where Lucion was, or even if he was still alive, I would need professional help. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  48. 2 points
    NEW ORLEANS! YAS! C'MON DOWN Y'ALL! I SWEAR it will be worth it!! And I could ACTUALLY attend that one!!!!!!!!! Party in the French Quarter/ BOURBON STREET Y'ALL! Do it. Just do it. Yes.
  49. 2 points
    4.29.17 Karthok changed Siane back to Vionora. Then he asked me to bring her to him. Maybe she’s to be the Herald again. I wonder why he didn’t just take her then. Anyway, I found her after a long search, and I got her back to the cabin. She didn’t want to help with Accalia, and I figured it would be dangerous to try to make her. She might screw things up. When she learned about who she was recently, she seemed to want to be Siane again. Baal didn’t seem able to help her. I was actually considering taking her to Sanctuary--for her sake, not theirs. They might have someone who could help her. But then she went out for a walk. Rhaen went with her, but somehow the dumb elf escorted her to Stormwind instead of bringing her back, and now some humans have her. I should cut off his ears for that. In fact, I might do just that. I saw Razvaan again a couple weeks ago. It was in Dalaran, but I couldn’t catch up to him, and I lost him in the crowd. I hired some help to find him. With no word from Zanas in months, and Iroh being more…’hands-on’ than I wanted for this job, I went to Borrowed Time. Rode right up to their gate. I thought I might be filled with arrows for how many were pointed at me. But that elf range Faelenor took the job. He’s been nice enough to me, once he realized I wasn’t there to single-handedly storm their base. His partner could do with losing an ear or two though. She’s one of those elves. Fael seems pretty sure of himself that he’ll be able to find Razvaan. And maybe that will lead me to information about Lucion. I thought maybe I could find a way to work with Borrowed Time again, or at least be on speaking terms with them without having weapons pointed at me. But Fael still holds it against me what I did to Dora that time. He said they all do. Well, screw them. If his leader hadn’t shot off my knee for no reason except just to be cruel, I wouldn’t have had to hurt Dora. To fel with Borrowed Time, to fel with Sanctuary, to fel with everyone who thinks they’re all high and mighty and can look down their nose at me. I made up with Karthok after what Lazarus and Kex’ti did. He doesn’t judge me. No more than the people at the cabin do. I enjoyed my visit with him. It was comfortable, except for the bad news he gave me—Sanctuary killed Zulkaz. But he killed Kanda, the traitor orphan I took into the Grim years ago only to have her turn on me and join the purple people. I was going to leave Sanctuary alone, and just stay away from. And as far as they know, that’s what I’m doing. But I’ll secretly help Karthok destroy them. They can all burn in felfire or die in the Nightmare, or suffer whatever he has planned for them. I fight alongside The Grim once a week in the Nighthold to restock my elf ears and scorpid poisons. It feels good to fight with them again, but I think I’ve gotten too used to fighting on my own. Sometimes I go to Inquisition to see the new recruits. It’s mostly quiet there though, outside of the regular attacks on Nighthold or on the battlegrounds.
  50. 2 points
    I have found a new Tribe, and it warms my heart... Since the decimation of my tribe and family during the Alliance attack on the Camp, I've been so focused on the rite of vengeance that I have nearly forgotten what it was to be around others who share a similar goal. Many of them fight with such ferocity that I am sure they do their ancestors proud, and there are several other shu'halo in this tribe, being among any number of my kin again brings a smile to my face, even during these treacherous times, there is always a hope that one day things will get better... Earth Mother willing. I was asked an interesting question when I returned the fallen Blood Knight's tome, a Forsaken girl asked me what I would do if I met a Wildhammer civilian... I found the question a bit puzzling. I have sworn the rite of vengeance against the Alliance, and so I consider them my foes, but I am not murderer. Their military is the only target I had considered, and the focus of my hammer. I did not consider such rhetorical things...a civilian is what exactly? Any who can take up arms against my people are my enemy... and what mercy did they show the Sternhorn Tribe, the Stonespire Tribe... the Camp... none. I look to what happened when the Warchief Garrosh laid waste to Theramore, how nearly the entire Horde deplored the action and eventually took up arms against him... but did the Alliance not do the same to our cities in the Barrens? For what? To gain a foothold in Kalimdor... unsatisfied with the lands they already occupy in force... large swaths in the wilds to the north and west. Always they seek power, a foothold... for the lives of my kin... where was their mercy? Where was their outrage? No... they celebrated...their glorious conquest...so will we. I will do what I must to defend my home... that is the only thing that concerns me. I have begun to learn about their mandate. It speaks of peace... the only peace this world can ever truly know. Both sides seem to seek peace, we must achieve it.