Julilee

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Everything posted by Julilee

  1. Julilee

    Death of a Phoenix

    Months ago... Julilee arrived in Silithus, alone. She had bruises under her jaw, above the collar of her armor. “Julilee Liene reporting for Sanctuary,” she said. The overseer she spoke to, a goblin, looked her up and down. They stood at the edges of a busy camp, the makeshift command yurt behind him strung with contraptions of unknown purpose. This had been where she’d been directed upon arrival. “Yer all they sent?” he said, tilting his hard hat back. “We asked for three, and apparently we’re gonna need a whole damn platoon, so you’re definitely not going to cut it, short stuff.” Juli didn’t comment on a goblin calling her short. She barely commented at all. “What’s the situation?” she asked. “Mining accident, with a special voidy bonus,” the goblin replied. “My team was mining up Azerite, and broke into some sort of underground chamber. Thought we’d find some good bug artifacts in there, but what we got was abominations.” He frowned, a hint of uneasiness in it. “I was actually plannin’ on increasin’ my request... A few Horde soldiers volunteered to go in this morning for a little extra grease, if you catch my drift. Clean things up. Shouldn’t’ve been too hard. But they never came out.” Julilee looked toward the mine. This particular operation was a distance away from the wound in the world, but the earth had heaved here enough to expose some underground caves the goblins had eagerly turned to exploiting to get deeper faster. The caves had probably been part of a buried Qiraji hive. The mine entrance was guarded by a couple of uneasy-looking Horde soldiers. At this hour, the shadow from the gigantic sword was fallen over where they stood, and the cavernous black hole of the entrance seemed to swallow far too much light in that shadow. “How many hours ago?” she asked. It was past noon. “Two and a half. You’re not going in there, are you?” he said, incredulously. “They could still be alive,” she said. “Not likely, shorty! And I’m not payin’ you to go in there either, if that’s what you’re thinking. That’s just throwing good gold after bad.” “I don’t want your Light-damned gold.” Juli continued looking toward the mine’s opening. Her cold, flat words confused the goblin to silence. She spoke again, after a moment. “How many people can you help if you don’t ever help anyone?” “What?” he said, baffled. “If I don’t come out, detonate explosives and collapse it.” She walked toward the mine.
  2. Julilee

    Death of a Phoenix

    In that moment, the world was irreversibly changed for her. You can’t unsee the abyss. You can’t unknow the truth. No matter how hard you tried to repress it, no matter how much you tried to deny it, it would haunt you forever. Juli saw it and knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that nothing would ever be the same. Kex’ti’s fear, his unwillingness to slide so much as an inch closer to that edge, was so much clearer to her now. She had understood it, but she hadn’t known it. Every pretension she had, every self-delusion, no matter how innocuous, every coping mechanism she relied on, all were stripped away. She saw herself and indeed the whole world and uncaring universe laid bare, reduced to an absurd meaninglessness. Of course the world was uncaring; she had never labored under the belief that anyone would necessarily get what they deserved, be it good or bad. She knew evil could triumph anytime, any place, and that it would be forever and thankless a struggle for anyone trying to hold it back. But she had never realized it was also a pointless struggle. No matter how much suffering you tried to alleviate, more would take its place, because evil was endlessly inventive and adaptive. And in the end you died and whatever difference you had made would end up being less than negligible. But worse, somehow, was how all the things she had tried to accomplish, everything she had ever tried to be, was all shown to be utterly foolish, self-centered, and inadequate. Her own uncharitable thoughts, even what she had believed were her deepest fears, were nothing compared to the truth. She had never loved Kex’ti. She had only used him to placate her need for control, and he had allowed it until he couldn’t anymore. She had never treated Shokkra like a person. She had tried to turn Shokkra into what she had thought Shokkra should be, sacrificing everything Shokkra was along the way, until Shokkra broke. She had done more than simply been too cautious with Sanctuary. She had ruined a legacy, dragged it backward and done significant harm it would take long to recover from, if it ever fully did. She had been too hard on Cerryan; she had revoked her trust simply because he was imperfect. Cobrak, meanwhile, she had also expected too much of. She had expected him to place her needs above his own. The list went on and on. Even with Miwanza, she hadn’t come down here for the girl’s benefit, or any of the others’. She had come down here to selfishly prove herself. That was all there was to it. And with her father, for whom she’d never been good enough, the truth was she was just… Oh, fuck you. The reflex was so deeply ingrained, it was inseparable from who she was as a person. Her entire body jerked. No one was allowed to touch that nerve. It didn’t matter who. It didn’t matter why. It didn’t matter even if they were right. Nobody got to diminutize what she had gone through growing up. Nobody got to break her down like her father had always tried to. She was entitled to defend herself. And fuck anyone who suggested otherwise. Just fuck them right in the eye with a jagged sword. She reached out, and her hand closed around the wickedly curved hilt of Mercy. Golden light surged down the blade, purging the tentacles which shrieked as they were dispelled. It filled up the weapon and all of the eyes hovering around shrank back as she pulled it free. Maybe it was all pointless. Maybe she could never make a difference. Maybe she would never do more help than harm in the world. But fuck anyone and anything who tried to convince her to give up. She would die fighting, with her soul intact, because no one would ever convince her to hand it over. The righteousness, the strength, the self-belief, she seized it. ******* When Miwanza awakened, she had no idea where she was. It seemed to be the bottom of some caved-in ruin, stonework on one side and a huge mountain of rubble on the other. There was a torch lying nearby, barely an ember left on it, but she was able to coax it to life with the shreds of some purple fabric that was discarded next to it for some reason. She started climbing, trying to find an exit, guided by the faintest whisper of a breeze. If there were other whispers, she didn’t hear them. It took hours of squeezing through narrow gaps and crevices, but Miwanza eventually broke through to a ravine that was open to the sky. From there she was able to follow it until it became shallow enough that she was able to climb out, and from there she wandered until she came across a Horde camp. “Whoa, what happened to you?” the guard said in alarm, ushering her to a bench. “Alliance hit?” “No… I don’t think so…” Miwanza looked down at herself. She was covered in a layer of dirt and had a bandage wrapped around her leg, though she felt no pain. Later, she would discover there was no injury beneath. “...But I don’t remember what happened.” The guard took a closer look at her and frowned. “Are you glowing? You didn’t try that Azerite brew, did you?” “I don’t think so…” She looked down at herself again. She had thought the torch had been her only source of illumination, but she did seem to be giving off a faint golden glow. As she watched, it faded away, leaving just her dark blue complexion. “Some sort of blessing,” said another guard who had shown up to see what was happening. “You don’t remember anything?” the first guard asked. She shook her head. “The last thing I remember is arriving here in Silithus with my platoon.” No one was ever able to puzzle out what happened. The Alliance were named likely suspects when her squadmates were discovered missing. The incident was soon forgotten.
  3. Julilee

    Death of a Phoenix

    Juli didn’t have much of a choice. She raised Mercy and delivered a solid thwack with the side of the blade to the girl’s head. Miwanza crumpled and Juli scooped her up, throwing her over her shoulder and running for the far side of the dais. Probably should have done that in the first place. Except now she couldn’t hold up her shield, or fight effectively. And the fallen torch’s light didn’t reach far. No, this plan had far too many problems, but it was the only one she had now. You – can’t – flee – from – what – you – believe – She stumbled down the other side of the dais and fetched up against the wall, which she could barely make out. Ancient tapestries crumbled to dust under her touch. She started following the wall, feeling frantically for any exit. Slithering sounds surrounded her and she unintentionally stepped on another tentacle, quickly grinding it to pulpy sludge with her boot. A swipe around her with Mercy had several more barely-visible tentacles dodging back. Luckily, the golden light the blade gave off wasn’t bright enough to illuminate them. She wasn’t sure what they would do if they reached her even if they couldn’t hypnotize her, though. Her hand on the wall suddenly plunged into nothing. An exit! She threw herself toward it, only to bounce ringingly off a wall just inside. It wasn’t an exit. It was just an alcove. Juli stumbled back, and that was when a tentacle wrapped around one ankle. She was just starting to react when it gave a heave and pulled her feet out from under her entirely. She lost her grip on Miwanza as she fell, the girl’s limp body slamming Juli’s head into the stone floor and stunning her. When she regained her senses a few moments later, she had lost her shield but somehow retained her grip on Mercy, and was dangling upside-down in the air, being drawn away from the flickering torch and toward the corner of the room where the mass was. With a grunt she pulled herself up and sliced at the tentacle around her ankle by feel alone. It loosed her, and she braced herself for a rough landing, but instead landed in what felt like a nest of writhing, slimy tentacles. Light help me. As she struggled to right herself, throwing off tentacles and slashing out with her bright blade, it occurred to her in a wry corner of her mind not currently occupied with fighting for survival that this would undoubtedly make a retroactively hilarious story, someday down the line, to share over a cup of strong liquor with Kex’ti – no, Shokkra – no, Cobrak – no, who? Who would she laugh about this with someday, if she made it out of this? Who would care? Nobody would care. “Get out of my head!” she shouted as she struggled, infuriated her thoughts had once again been pushed in this unwanted direction. We – need – do – naught – your – own – battles – are – fought – In the very faint outlines provided by Mercy’s glow, a great stalk rose up in front of her, twice as wide as she was, thought admittedly she was rather small. At the end, a great orb turned towards her. Juli didn’t wait to see any more. She lunged forward and plunged her blade into the center of it. You – bring – us – power – it – we – will – devour – From the edges of the wound sprung more tentacles. No – they sprung from her sword. Juli jerked her hand back in horror as Mercy’s golden glow was replaced by a vivid purple that grew brighter and brighter as more and more tentacles swarmed out of the sides of the blade. Very clearly released. Her mind leapt to the battles against Karthok and his minions, where Mercy had seemed to harmlessly absorb several void attacks. It hadn’t been harmless at all. All this time, she had been carrying around a void-infused weapon. What have I done? How had she not known? Had it been manipulating her? Let – us – show – you – what – mercy – is – true – Too late, she realized that the illumination was too great. She should have closed her eyes immediately. But, still shocked, she didn’t. And she met the gaze of a hundred black eyes.
  4. Julilee

    Death of a Phoenix

    Miwanza described it as, of course, an unfathomably hideous tentacle beast with far too many eyes. Juli didn’t know what she expected. All Miwanza could really offer other than that was that meeting the gaze of one of the eyes had spelled doom for her companions. Miwanza had only barely avoided doing so, since to gaze upon the mass was to almost assuredly ended up catching the gaze of one of the eyes; only her companions’ reactions, in front of her, had saved her, as they had commanded her attention and at the same time clued her in to what was happening. “All right, here’s what we’ll do.” Juli looked toward the shadows ahead in the antechamber. Apparently the thing lurked in the next room; they speculated it was immobile, relying on its prey to come to it. “You’ll hold the torch, and I’ll guide you – you’ll be blindfolded.” “Blindfolded? But wait, you won’t be?” Both options seemed dismaying in their own way to the girl. “Yes. I’m going to use my shield to block my vision where needed, and find us an exit. If I stop talking and guiding you at any point… try to smack me in the face, with the torch.” Juli inhaled slowly. “I’ll take being blind over insane.” Miwanza hesitated, then nodded, firming her grip on the torch. “All right. Let’s do this.” Juli had used up most of the roll of bandage, and wasn’t sure the gauze would be thick enough if not layered adequately, so had already decided what she was going to do for a blindfold. She sheathed her weapons and took hold of the hem of her purple and gold tabard. Tearing upward, she pulled off a long strip. One of the wings of the phoenix emblem came off with it. Now how is it supposed to fly? She ignored the nonsensical thought as she had Miwanza bend down so she could securely tie the improvised blindfold around the girl’s head. The whispers were getting louder; more eager. She redrew her weapons, and felt better with Mercy in her hand. They set off toward the end of the antechamber. A wall with a wide archway appeared, separating it from the next room. The stonework was still absent of the black chitinlike corruption, but the whispers were growing louder and louder, no longer in small degrees, but in leaps and bounds as they drew closer. Below it, Juli thought she might be hearing disturbing slurping sounds. There was no point in hesitating. Juli took the girl’s arm with her sword hand, lifted her shield and darted into the room. The torchlight danced madly, illuminating a space smaller than the antechamber – a throne room? There was a dais at the end with some objects atop it, but that wasn’t where the creature was. To their left, the light gleamed on hundreds of orbs and Juli threw her shield up between herself and it before she was sure what she was seeing. Backing away from that direction, she looked around, trying to see if there was another exit. Miwanza, making small sounds of fear, gripped Juli’s arm tightly and almost trod on her feet as she followed Juli’s lead. What – do – we – spy – with – our – countless – eyes – The voice was both inside and outside of her head. “Nothing to see here,” Juli said through gritted teeth. There was no exit on the right side of the room, but maybe there was behind the dais. Juli tugged Miwanza that way, angling her shield. She heard sickening slick noises and strained to determine if they meant the thing was moving. The acoustics of the chamber if not the echoing whispers made that impossible. As they reached the dais, something slid up to her foot, under her guard. She didn’t think; she stomped it to bits. The texture was wretched. “Up!” she urged Miwanza. “Five steps!” Miwanza stumbled as she went up, breaking from Juli’s grip but catching herself. Juli swept Mercy under her shield preventatively, and thought she felt the tip of the blade slide through something that gave almost no resistance. Like, maybe, an eyeball. “Juli?” Miwanza cried. You – saw – all – before – remember – so – much – more – “Keep going!” Juli backed up the steps, keeping her shield up and using every sense she could to try to catch any more tentacles that might encroach. Not being able to look went against every instinct she had. Look out, look out, look out. She bumped into Miwanza, who wasn’t moving. Juli whipped her head to look at the girl, suddenly fearing the girl had somehow become transfixed despite the blindfold, but there were no tentacle stalks near the girl. Nonetheless, she wasn’t moving. “Miwanza! Keep going!” Juli tried to give her a shove, but in response Miwanza simply dropped the torch. It continued to burn, but the light was dangerously dimmer. The – inner – eye – is – where – truth – lies – “I saw it,” Miwanza breathed. “I saw it, before. I ran away, but I remember now.” She reached up. “Miwanza, no!” The girl ripped off the blindfold and smiled beatifically past Julilee.
  5. Julilee

    Death of a Phoenix

    “First, though, let’s see if I can bandage that wound better for you,” Juli said. Miwanza nodded and sank down against the pillar. Juli gave her the torch to hold and started unwrapping the bandage. “How come you came by yourself?” Miwanza said. She paused. “I mean, it’s very brave, but… didn’t it seem risky?” “Someone else was going to come with me originally,” Juli said as she worked. She didn’t know why she said what followed. “But she felt I was going to betray her, so she attacked me, disabled me, and took off.” “Why did she think that?” Miwanza said, somewhere between curious and alarmed. Juli was silent for a moment before answering, working on unbuckling the girl’s leg plate and setting it aside. “She thought she wouldn’t get a fair trial for something she’d done which others viewed as a crime. I thought she would, but… I guess I don’t blame her.” “Sounds like you two have a complicated relationship,” Miwanza offered. “You could say that.” “Is she the one who gave you those bruises?” Juli paused in the middle of getting out her water canteen, one hand rising reflexively toward the bruises under her jaw. It was a lucky guess. “Yes,” she said. “If, um, she was going to be put to trial, why were you two coming here…?” Juli considered what to say. She had already said all that, so why not the rest? “It was going to be our last assignment together. I resigned from my post as leader of my guild. I just… wanted one last chance to feel like I was carrying out Sanctuary’s mission, the way I’d always envisioned it, with someone I always hoped could see it the same way.” “I’ve heard of Sanctuary,” Miwanza said, perking up. “You want peace between the Horde and the Alliance, don’t you?” Juli sighed inwardly as she cleaned the wound. “We want peace for everyone, regardless of faction,” she said, the correction one she had given more times than she could count. Then she paused, realizing she was speaking as though she were still part of Sanctuary. “Or at least, that was my vision. I don’t know how good a job I did of getting anyone closer to that while I was in charge. But I’m not going to try anymore.” “You’re giving up?” “On some things,” Juli said. She reached into her satchel and pulled out a roll of bandage. “I’m not going to try to lead anymore. I could never really inspire anyone. Not their confidence, not their hope, not anything. So I’m just going to do whatever I can until I can’t anymore.” She started wrapping Miwanza’s leg tightly. “So you came down here on pretty much a suicide mission.” Miwanza gave a rueful laugh. “Do you even expect to get out of here alive?” Despair underlaid her words. Juli looked up at the girl. “I will die trying to get you out of here alive,” she said quietly, “but dying is the very last option, and not one I’ll be throwing myself at. You can’t help anyone if you’re dead.” “You sound like you’ve said that before,” Miwanza said, the words calming her somewhat. “Someone said it to me years ago,” Juli said. “And it stuck… maybe too much. I was too cautious, for too long. An entire guild’s lives were in my hands. One bad call and I could lose someone who trusted me, right?” She was silent for a moment as she worked, tying off the bandage. “But Sanctuary needed to take those risks. We weren’t Sanctuary unless we did.” “Like Aerie Peak,” Miwanza said. Juli stopped again, looking up at the girl. “People still talk about that?” she said. “I was at the Wyvern’s Tail once when some Grim came in, and they mentioned it,” Miwanza said. “I found the official Horde report later and read it. The Grim said you attacked them, but according to the report, you stated that you only stood in defense of Alliance civilians and noncombatants when the Grim attacked. People say a lot of things about Sanctuary, but… I’ve seen what the Grim have done… I wouldn’t put it past them to do that.” “Yes,” Juli said. “The town’s soldiers were mostly away, leaving only children, elderly, the infirm, and other noncombatants… There were only a handful of us Sanctuary, and a whole squad of Grim. But we chose to make a stand, even though we were outnumbered.” She remembered the clash of her and Khorvis’ blades. Lilliana’s twisted face as she flung dark magic. Cerryan’s bright cries. The surety that had rung in her heart, the utter lack of regret even when things were at their bleakest. “But things changed after that… No, I changed. I became unwilling to take any more risks. I was too afraid that someone else would pay the price if I was wrong.” “But you were just saying you can’t help anyone if you’re dead,” Miwanza pointed out. She helped with her free hand as Juli buckled the leg plate back on. “So being cautious isn’t unreasonable.” “Yes,” Juli agreed. “But you can’t help anyone if you never help anyone, either.” She rose to her feet and offered Miwanza her hand. Miwanza clasped it and Juli pulled the girl to her feet. With the new, tighter bandage, she seemed more stable. Miwanza tested her weight on it and seemed satisfied. She still wouldn’t be leaping across any chasms, but she could get around. “I’m not responsible for anyone else anymore,” Juli said. “Just myself. So I’m going to take those risks now that I always should have. I’m not going to run toward death, but I’m not going to always run away from it, either. That’s why I’m here. I won’t let you down.” “If you say so,” Miwanza said with a weak chuckle. “I’m not going to look a gift boar in the tusks. If we get out of here alive, I’m not gonna argue with whatever philosophy you used to do it.” The whispers had quieted while the two spoke. It had been a welcome break, but suddenly Juli had the feeling that they had been listening. Well, it wasn’t anything that hadn’t already been in her mind, on which the shadows had already played. And, as always, the only way to go was forward. No matter what lay behind, she had to keep moving forward, because giving up was never an option. “Keep the torch,” Juli said. “I’ll need both my arms to fight. What can you tell me about the thing ahead?” The whispers were growing loud again as she drew her sword and shield. The bright, jagged lines on Mercy gleamed golden in the darkness. “Oh, you’re a paladin!” Miwanza said, her voice rising with real hope for the first time. “Maybe you really can beat this thing!” “...” “What?” Miwanza blinked. “Just tell me what this thing looks like.”
  6. Julilee

    Death of a Phoenix

    Two and a half weeks later, a group went looking for Sanctuary’s former commander. Cobrak, Cerryan, Amalyn, and Faelenor, who counted themselves friends of Julilee, found the missive on Juli’s desk and went to the camp in Silithus. Finding the overseer had gone ahead and collapsed the mine as Juli has suggested, if not specifically because Juli had suggested it, they sought the aid of a earth shaman, who directed them to an alternate entrance to the underground caverns – a chasm that delved into the earth they could follow. It was a perilous descent, marked by strange whispers and abominations, but they pressed on. Eventually, they found the antechamber, but it lay blocked, half of it entirely collapsed. It was beyond their means to continue. They were forced to turn back.
  7. Julilee

    Death of a Phoenix

    From there, the pathway didn’t fork anymore. It was a blessing because she didn’t have to worry about losing her way, but a curse because she didn’t have concentrating on not losing her way to keep her distracted from the whispers. She spent some time thinking about how to get back across the treacherous cavern on her way out. Once she had a few basic ideas about that, she didn’t have much else to try to anticipate or plan. She found herself wondering what the outside world do if she never came out. How many weeks would it be before someone went into her office to try to figure out what mission it was she’d mentioned to Vilmah? Would anyone try to follow her down into this damned place? Or would they assume she’d just run off with Shokkra? The whispers loved that train of thought, so she tried to think of a new one. A distraction came in the form of the walls and floors. The reddish, bulbous, silithid-made appearance of the surfaces was changing. It was becoming darker, and glossier. Her sabatons made a slightly different sound on them. They clicked more. She paused to inspect a particularly bulbous pustule once it had all become very shiny and black, bringing her torch nearer to it. Deep within, the blackness contracted as the torch neared. It was an eyeball. She flinched back instinctively, but nothing happened. After a few moments to calm her thoroughly unnerved heart, she continued on. Something loomed in the path ahead. She couldn’t quite figure out what it was for a moment, only able to perceive a strange shadow lying in the way, before it clicked. It was a chasm. The earth had been split here, this far beneath the surface, the rending wide enough that she had to get close to the edge before the circle of light her torch provided illuminated the opposite side. The bottom of the chasm, she couldn’t see at all. A breeze stirred the torch’s flame, ever so slightly, though she couldn’t feel it. Did the opening go all the way up to the surface, somewhere? Even if it were impassable to anything but a breeze, the fresh air was welcome. The whispers seemed quieter here. She considered her options. It was a noteworthy distance across, but she suspected that with a running start, she could make it. However... she wasn’t entirely sure. But other options did not seem promising. She had brought no rope, and an inspection of the walls and the edges showed that there would be no climbing sideways or down, the material too slick and sheer to promote a safe hold. If she wanted to continue, across was the other way to go. There were three more Horde soldiers unaccounted for. They could very well be at the bottom of this chasm, so far as she knew. Or, this chasm could have only opened up with the last earthquake in that cavern of impalement. Or, the chasm had been here, but they’d made it across. Or, they could have gone a completely different direction. Well, there was only one way to find any of that out, wasn’t there. She backed up a distance, then started for the edge. However, she didn’t run at full speed, and slid to a stop before the edge. She was half-expecting a tentacle to try to lash up at where she would have been mid-jump. But nothing happened. The whispers didn’t even change. Am I too paranoid? Or am I the only one prepared? You’re always the former until you’re the latter. She backed up again, and this time ran as hard as she could. Her footing at the edge almost gave out under her as she leapt, but she was still able to get enough of a launch to just barely make it across, her feet landing inches ahead of the gap. She pounded to a stop, looking back. The gap looked wider from this direction. She kept going. It suddenly changed. In a transition spanning only a few feet, the material surrounding her shifted from the black, organic (?) material to gray stonework, tendrils trailing into it then disappearing. It was an ancient, deeply buried ruin. She lifted her torch higher as she stepped into the area, looking around. It seemed like some sort of grand antechamber, wide, with dual rows of pillars reaching to the ceiling. The whispers echoed, here, like she was hearing them with her actual ears. Realizing that was also when she realized that she could hear again, and that she had been able to for some time. It was enough to give her pause, and wonder what else she’d missed. But all she could do was try to pay as close attention as she could to her surroundings, and she did as she moved forward, casting her gaze about, aware that there were many directions with much cover that something could appear from. Then a muffled sob came from one side. As much as she had every reason to believe it was a trap, she couldn’t not ensure it wasn’t. Hand on Mercy’s hilt, she moved toward the sound. Sheltering behind the pillar was a troll in Horde armor. She was bunched in on herself, holding a one-handed axe with both hands. She almost leapt at Juli as she appeared, but stopped in confusion at the last moment, stumbling and shrinking away. “What...?” Juli held up her hands, including the one still holding the torch, spreading the fingers a little bit to show it was all she held. “My name is Julilee. I came down here to find you. Are you all right?” she asked. “Are... are you real?” the trolless asked. “Are you?” Julilee replied dryly. “The shadows haven’t stooped to outright illusions yet, but I wouldn’t put it past them.” The trolless didn’t seem entirely reassured by that, but she looked like she wanted to be. She was young, with blue hair and darker blue skin. Her youth made Juli think of Mariz. Mariz could have easily ended up here, had she signed up with the Horde military instead of Sanctuary. But Juli had ended up here too, hadn’t she, because of Sanctuary. Juli wasn’t sure what lesson she was supposed to draw from that conclusion and didn’t have the time to ponder it further. “Look,” Juli said, “I want to get you out of here safely, and your companions if they’re still alive. Do you know where any of them are?” “We lost Mal’lul early in the tunnels,” the trolless said hesitantly, “and Orenzi to the spikes.” She swallowed, still gripping her axe. “Lomar and Kaishu, they convinced me to keep going once we got here... They said that there would be treasure in ruins like these and the goblins couldn’t complain about us helping ourselves down here while we cleaned up the voidspawn... and maybe we’d find something to help us get back through the spikes and the suffocating dark thing...” “What happened?” Juli prompted. “Where are they now?” “We went ahead, and... the voidspawn... it... there was... it was too big. It got Lomar and Kaishu... almost got me...” Julilee nodded. She didn’t press for details. “What’s your name?” “Miwanza.” Juli gave her a closer look. The girl looked scared out of her mind. She also had a bloodied bandage tied across her right thigh. The stumble hadn’t been entirely due to the pulled swing. “How fast can you move, Miwanza?” “Not very,” the girl admits. “I only got away because the... thing... it was occupied.. with...” Juli nodded again, letting the girl know she didn’t need to explain. “There’s a chasm in the tunnel on the way out. I made it across but I don’t think you can with your injury. We’ll need to find something to help us cross it, or another way out of here.” The sheer practicality Juli evinced seemed to be reassuring the trolless that Juli was real, though the situation as described clearly scared her. “What do we do?” she asked. Juli considered that herself. There was no guarantee that any other exit existed. Nor was there that there would be any items they could put to use in these ruins. And it was guaranteed that an enemy lay ahead. But there were literally no other options. “We get past it.”
  8. Julilee

    Death of a Phoenix

    The path opened up into another large cavern. Juli could tell it was huge by how the small sounds she made, her footsteps and the rustling of her armor, got swallowed up by the dark that her torch couldn’t find the end of. She weighed her options: go through the middle or stick to a wall? In the end she decided to follow the whispers, which led out away from the walls. The soldiers, if they were fleeing in terror, would have taken much the same course anyway. An obstruction appeared – a stalagmite. She moved around it and encountered more, the ground growing thick with them. A natural cavern? She paused to look at one of them more closely. It didn’t appear to be made out of mineral. She hesitated to inspect further, and continued on. Her ears strained to pick out sounds in the dark surrounding her. Even her own movements seemed muffled, and to be growing more so. Only the whispers stayed at the same volume. At first she wasn’t sure if it was an acoustical trick, but eventually she stopped and tapped and her armor to check, and she heard nothing at all. She scanned her surroundings, wary of what this meant. Had she lost her hearing, or was this some new threat? Or both? Then she began to feel vibrations under her feet, rapidly growing stronger. Instinctively, she reached out to steady herself on one of the stalagmites. This proved to be a bad idea as it broke off at her touch, far more fragile than she had anticipated. The rumbling grew heavier, accompanied by a rushing of air, and she turned her head to see a stalactite crash down not far from her. She couldn’t hear it hit, which was disorienting, nor the fragments that she could feel bounce off her armor as she shielded her face. Managing to keep her feet, she started moving quickly, seeking the end of the cavern. With her right arm she drew her shield and held it up to protect herself as more stalactites came crashing down in utter silence. At least one bounced off her shield directly, but other than being jarring, it did no harm, its material far too fragile. While running for cover, Juli almost tripped over another body, this one a female orc. She also wore Horde armor and was impaled on a broken stalagmite, which appeared to have fallen over and shattered in the earthquake. How? Juli didn’t have time to puzzle it out and quickly passed by. Almost all of the spires along the ground had collapsed at that point, and fewer stalactites were falling now. In another few moments, it ceased entirely. Juli slowed to a stop, looking around. Fragments lay everywhere that the torch’s light could reach. The cavern was clear of obstructions now, save for the rubble. But she has a feeling that that wasn’t it. The rumbling started up again. Instinct made Juli break into a sprint. The ground grew strangely mushy under her feet. The debris was disappearing. Absorbed into the ground? Then, the ground grew hard again. She had the weird feeling that the ground was actually changing, and not from her passage of distance, but altogether. This place was all wrong and unnatural. Then a stalagmite erupted from the ground in front of her. She spun, barely avoiding running into it, though she still bounced off the side of it. The soundlessness of it all was as jarring as the impact. It didn’t break, much stronger than any of the ones that had collapsed. Fully capable of impaling someone. It was a new one. It had regrown. She didn’t know if her own wild imagination had supplied the thought or if the whispers did, but couldn’t do anything right then but dismiss it anyway. She kept running. Another one erupted just in front of her, but she saw it coming this time, and leapt over it. Her instincts told her there was going to be more than direction to this threat, and when a spike suddenly speared down down from the ceiling, she was not entirely surprised. She ducked, her short height once again coming in handy for something, and kept going. Several more close calls later, she fetched up against a wall. Quickly reconsidering that, she moved away from the potentially lethal surface and moved to follow the edge at a safer distance. No spikes did end up coming out of the wall, but several more erupted from the floor and ceiling, trying to get her. One scored along the side of her leg but her armor took the scratch. Eventually, she found an opening and ducked in. The spikes didn’t follow, and the rumbling ceased. The whispers flowed down this passage. If there had been more than one exit from the impalement cavern, it seemed she had found the right one. Juli slung her shield back on her back, put her hand on Mercy’s hilt, and continued on.
  9. Julilee

    Death of a Phoenix

    The narrow entrance led to an even narrower corridor, one that looked like it was created by the earth’s rupturing rather than created by creatures, sentient or otherwise. The cavern it led into, however, was another matter. The torch’s light shone on bulbous walls signature of what one could expect in the zone. Juli moved out into the open, looking for other exits, and the light illuminated three other corridors out of the cavern. From one of them flowed the whispers. Eerily, they sounded like someone she knew, though she couldn’t say who. She put her other hand on the hilt of Mercy and followed them. The path forked; Juli took the one that the whispers were coming from. Then it forked again, and again, and again. She started building herself a mnemonic to remember the path she took: My really lousy rocks reach lower levels… It didn’t make any sense, but that was fine as long as she could remember it. Focusing on the dumb game kept the whispers from encroaching on her mind, too. It seemed odd that the path forked so much. As far as she knew, most silithid hives just spiraled deeper and deeper, without many branching paths at all. And this one just kept going. At one point, she realized she was going in a circle, and was forced to take some time to revise her mental map, figure out where she had started repeating herself, then go from there, finding a passage where the whispers were marginally louder than the one she had been taking. After that, the whispers started becoming a thrumming undertone of too many speaking at once to understand. She chose to not be disturbed by it, determined to get to the bottom of this and find what had happened to the missing soldiers. Her thoughts started wandering as she continued on. There was too much weighing on her mind. Losing Kex’ti, giving up Sanctuary, even Cobrak’s actions. And Shokkra. The more she thought about it all, the more depressed and discouraged she got, her thoughts darkening. Why was she even here? Why was she even trying, when she couldn’t help anyone? Then she realized that those thoughts weren’t her own; they were what the whispers were saying. Anger burned bright clarity back into her mind. She wasn’t going to give up, and she certainly wasn’t going to give up because manipulative entities were toying on her fears. It was at that same moment that she realized the shadows were encroaching on more than her mind. An amorphous blob hovered at the left side of her peripheral vision, and as soon as she realized it was there, she instinctively swiped at it with the torch in her hand. A shriek split the enclosed space and suddenly it was hard to breathe. It occurred to her she didn’t even know how far she was underground and if good air could still reach down there. She could suffocate. She was suffocating. No. More shadows. She drew her sword as the blob recoiled then lurched for her again, and the shining blade sliced right through it. It died with another shriek, and as soon as the sound dissipated, she could breathe again. She took a moment to do just that, as she shifted carefully, looking around for any other threats. She ended up finding a body instead. It was a male troll in Horde armor. His eyes bulged, his mouth agape, as though he had choked to death. His body was cool, but not yet stiff. His companions must have fled ahead and left him to die. Juli turned back toward the whispers and continued.
  10. Julilee

    Death of a Phoenix

    Juli stood at the entrance to the mine. Besides being unnaturally dark, a chill breeze flowed gently from the cave’s mouth, yet it failed to stir the flames of the torches on either side. That wasn’t the worst part, though. The worst part was the impression of whispers carried on that breeze, like a hushed conversation you were overhearing while asleep and couldn’t make any sense out of. It was no surprise the two Horde grunts guarding the entrance seemed uneasy. They looked at her as she stood there, and as she did, their expressions slowly turned from dubious to bewildered as she did not move for some time. She ignored them, immersed in thought. Eventually, she took out her hearthstone and spoke. “Sanctuary, thank you for the chance to lead you as long as I did. It’s been the most important three and a half years of my life. If you haven’t already heard, I’ve passed the mantle of leadership to Vilmah Bloodborne. I had reached the end of what I could offer Sanctuary, and I know she’ll be able to guide you further than I could. It’s been an honor. Thank you.” When she was done, one of the guards asked with nervous gentleness, “Err, lady, you’re not going in there out of some deathwish, are you?” The juxtaposition of her words, which they could hear, and what she was staring into was rather clear. The other shifted awkwardly, and the first guard went on. “Just take a little time, find someplace to blow off some steam. Go fight in an arena, spend some gold somewhere – fel, go get laid. You’ll feel better and realize you don’t have to do anything drastic.” “How many are unaccounted for?” was all she asked. “Five of ‘em went in,” the other guard said. “Two trolls, two orcs, and a pandaren.” She grunted. “Haven’t heard a peep. Other than...” Her eyes shifted toward the dark of the cave mouth, where the unheard whispers were coming from, and she scratched at an ear nervously. No new information since the request that had come to her desk, then, about what Juli would actually be facing down below. The report had just mentioned voidspawn in a cave the miners had broken into, from which they’d quickly retreated with no casualties. Juli mentally reviewed what she knew and found it wasn’t much. She would have to figure out what was going on herself. “She sure stands around thinkin’ a lot,” the second guard commented to the first. “Someone has to,” Juli muttered, then walked into the cave. She grabbed a torch off the side as she passed by. The guards didn’t stop her.
  11. Horde RP Guild, Twisting Nether ~ Originally Founded 3-30-2006 Sanctuary was a storied guild, once. Its embrace of justice and peace for everyone, regardless of race or faction, made it respected by some and despised by others. But after Garrosh came to power, there was no room left in the new Horde for such ideals. Under the hostile regime, Sanctuary's members were hunted until the guild was a hollow, smoking ruin. Some of its former members managed to go underground, carrying on their cause, but by the time Garrosh was deposed, the guild was remembered only in hushed whispers. Then, the banner was bravely raised by a young newcomer. Members old and new took it up in an unprecedented revival. Since then, Sanctuary's tabard is once again worn, albeit slightly changed: its hammer has become a phoenix. Upholding the principles of justice and peace in a dangerous world still brings its share of controversy, but Sanctuary stands resolute in the face of doubt. While supporting the Horde's operations, Sanctuary also works to counter any threats that rise to the world, above all safeguarding the innocent – whether from those who would take advantage of them, or from those who believe none are innocent. The Vows Peace: I will not initiate hostilities. Justice: I will react with force only to defend the innocent, or in fair, consensual combat. Mercy: I will respond to hostility with the least amount of force required. Sacrifice: I will forgive mistakes, insults, and injuries to my person for the sake of peace, justice, and mercy. Please contact Julilee-TwistingNether, Vilmah-TwistingNether, Cerryan-TwistingNether, or Baern-Ravenholdt for more information or an in-character interview.
  12. Julilee

    Julilee Liene

    Full Name: Julilee Liene (“Liene” is Thalassian for “a light that refracts off something beautiful”… “Julilee Shiny” just doesn’t sound as nice, so she goes with the Thalassian word.) Nicknames: Juli Title: Commander of Sanctuary Age: About 23 in human years, physically Race: Blood elf Gender: Female Hair: Black Skin: Light Eyes: Green Height: 5’ 5” Weight: 120 lbs. (without armor) Description: Julilee is an uncommon sight: a blood elf who wears heavy plate armor, but who has no aura of the Light. Built short and slender, it’s further strange to look at her and realize she makes her way through the world as a warrior, but the sword and shield she carries would indicate it so. She has calm, serious eyes, and wears her black hair short and parted on one side. Her age appears to be a young adult of her kind. Positive Personality Traits: Dedicated, loyal, determined. Negative Personality Traits: Arguably too serious; could stand to lighten up. Also, she doesn’t see race… which can sometimes be a bad thing. Place of residence: Sanctuary Guildhouse, Dalaran Known Relatives: Older sister Tamaryth; mother Elareyna; father Gearan History: Her parents had very high expectations of her. They'd wanted her to be a magister, but she'd proven entirely lacking in the magic department. They would have accepted her training as a Blood Knight or priest, but she'd utterly failed at having any command of the Light either. So they'd suggested, a touch desperately, that she try to become a Ranger. But even at that she had failed, always out of place in the wilderness, with no affinity for either animals or the bow. It wasn't until she'd picked up a sword and in pure frustration chopped a target dummy in half that one of the Rangers had gently suggested she try the path of a warrior. At that she had finally excelled, but it wasn't a well-enough respected path for her family's taste. Especially since she preferred the front line of a formation, shield in hand, ready to deflect the brunt of the attack for a group, rather than to be a strategist or gladiator. She'd found she just felt best when she was helping others – something she'd never had a chance to do before. It made her feel useful. Wanted. But to make up for her vocational shortcomings, her parents decided that she would need to become a warleader, at the very least. Lienes were not common grunts. So, the day she finished her training, they gave her enough money to found a guild and told her to get to it. The guildhall she purchased had gone into foreclosure. In it, she discovered journals of the guild’s previous Warboss… one Vilmah Bloodborne. Inspired by the noble ideals of Sanctuary – peace and justice for all – Juli decided to raise its banner once more. In so doing, she attracted a great deal of attention. Members new and old came to join her in the new era ushered in by Garrosh's downfall. Many of those who had gone into hiding under the hostile regime returned, and there were new recruits all but daily. In addition to Vilmah herself returning, so did Nojinbu, and Sanctuary's founder Grisch as well. Another notable occurrence was when the remaining members of the Order of Eversong decided to come under Sanctuary's banner, increasing Sanctuary's numbers significantly. During this time, the Horde moved into the alternate Draenor to fight the Iron Horde and stake a claim to the resource-rich world. Sanctuary assisted in these efforts by establishing a garrison in the new territory and helping take Highmaul. After that, they moved into a support role for the Horde's operations in Draenor. The first real blow came to Sanctuary when one of its members went rogue and attacked fellow members of the Horde in a quest for personal vengeance. Juli found her skills at diplomacy thoroughly tested as she sought to sort out the ensuing conflict, especially as tensions rose with a Horde guild whose ideals ran completely counter to Sanctuary's own: the Grim, who believed every member of any faction opposed to the Horde should die, even their civilians and children. The conflict between the two first came to a head when Sanctuary stood in defense of an Alliance town full of noncombatants versus a Grim raiding party. Though justifiable by their own ideals, and not the aggressors of the battle, Sanctuary thereafter became plagued by misinformation and suspicion of treason versus the Horde. This revived legacy of Sanctuary, one that had haunted it in years past, would continue to influence its future. The rogue Sanctuary member was eventually stopped, and sentenced by Sanctuary to lifetime imprisonment. Then came the Eclipse. An ancient curse was revived and spread like a plague amongst magic-users. Several of Sanctuary were afflicted, and Juli found her leadership questioned by one of her members whom she had come to care about a great deal – Naheal Malastar. The two of them had discovered that they had known each other in childhood, but Juli's manipulative father had forcibly separated them, and it became clear that the beliefs they had shared as children had diverged as far as their lives' courses. Naheal ended up leaving Sanctuary, but Juli would not be deterred from continuing to follow her beliefs. She found herself drawn to a different member of Sanctuary, Kex'ti Dalendala, a seasoned monk with a chronic illness and an unwavering belief in Sanctuary's ideals. In him she found true support and acceptance, and the two began a relationship. For a time after the Eclipse threat was neutralized, there seemed to be peace between Sanctuary and the Grim; though Juli disliked them, she understood they believed they were doing what was best for the Horde, and when in some places their courses of action did align, she did not oppose them working together. Kex'ti organized an alliance of forces to help take the lower reaches of Hellfire Citadel which saw some success. Unfortunately, the alliance fell apart as a complex new situation arose. Travelers from a future timeline came back with dire warnings that war would someday break out between Sanctuary and Grim, decimating the Horde and leaving all of Azeroth vulnerable to devastation at the hands of a cunning black dragon named Serinar. During this time, she also suffered a traumatic injury, and then a shocking invasion of privacy and betrayal of trust as Naheal allowed someone Juli did not like to treat her against her will. Juli had been willing to look past some of the worse things Naheal had done up until that point, when she finally realized he could not be trusted, despite what she wanted to think of him. The situation grew more desperate as Serinar seemed to be unstoppable. Juli struggled to find a course of action to avert his future only to eventually arrive at the conclusion that she could not without abandoning Sanctuary's ideals. She was also faced with the reality of Kex'ti's chronic illness: As long as he kept fighting for Sanctuary, expending his strength, he would grow weaker and eventually die, and was already showing signs of nearing that point. Faced with one insurmountable problem after another, Juli snapped and made the extreme choice to save Kex'ti at the cost of an aspect of her personality – the very piece of herself that seemed to be making any possible choice intolerable. She sealed her conviction into a ring which she gave Kex'ti, a source of strength on which he could draw that would stall his illness. Though he had misgivings, Kex'ti agreed to take it so long as they eventually found an alternative solution which would allow her to be her whole self. Released of the burden of concern, Juli went through the motions of continuing to run Sanctuary. Things that had bothered her before, or which would have bothered her, no longer did, though she made a conscious effort to cleave to everything she knew she had believed before. Nonetheless, as a result, Sanctuary remained relatively uninvolved even when one of their allies was kidnapped and tortured by the Grim, and the threat of Serinar continued to loom. However, Kex'ti finally found an alternative to the ring – a ritual which would balance out his and Juli's life forces, so that she could share the balance of her remaining lifetime with him. Juli knew it was what she would have wanted and agreed to pursue it. It proved more difficult than either had expected. Juli had to destroy the ring to return her conviction before the ritual could be done, and the restoration of her beliefs caused her to deeply regret and question her decisions of the past few months – including the realization that she loved Naheal. Kex'ti meanwhile struggled to believe he was worthy of the gift Juli wanted to give him at such a cost to herself. In the end they both made peace with their respective issues with each others' help. They went on to assist in Serinar's ultimate defeat. The two soon got married in a private ceremony officiated by Cerryan. After that, Kex'ti ended up taking an orphaned human girl under his wing, Rylie Tattersall, and Juli formed a bond with the girl as well. They would eventually adopt her, though they would foster her to Stormwind after she got older. Towards the end of the Draenor campaign, Kex'ti began putting Sanctuary's resources to use collecting and cataloging artifacts and relics of great power that could be dangerous in the wrong hands, a mission which Juli supported. Sanctuary collected many dangerous relics on various missions throughout Azeroth and elsewhere. Then, strange, alarming events began to occur around the worlds, which ultimately proved to be connected in a conspiracy somehow related to the Legion. A conclave of dreadlords was attempting to sow confusion and dissent in a variety of ways and Sanctuary was the targets of some of their efforts. Sanctuary and their allies such as Twilight Empire assisted with the Quorum's downfall despite some setbacks and injuries suffered. Still, hardly deterred, the Legion returned to threaten everyone. The Horde was mobilized to respond and Sanctuary committed itself to the cause readily. They went to the Broken Shore, and when the retreat was ordered, Julilee refused to turn and abandon the Alliance. Kex'ti was forced to carry her to safety. After that, the guild's ranks swelled as war against the Legion began in earnest. Juli appointed several new officers. She found herself often busy with the day-to-day requirements of running a large guild but still got out into the field to assist with the war effort whenever possible. A dramatic turn of events occurred when Syreena, a member of the Grim, attacked a member of Sanctuary, Kanda, one of Juli's officers. Syreena had often terrorized Sanctuary members, and this step was too far for Cerryan, another Sanctuary officer, who had been personally tormented by her. Cerryan contrived to trap her and punish her brutally. Afterward, he admitted his acts to Juli, who struggled to determine the appropriate response. She ended up going to see if she could save Syreena, ostensibly, asking for Lilliana's help in the process, but after Lilliana helped her reach Syreena, Juli turned on her and attempted to kill the comatose Syreena. Juli had wanted Lilliana to witness that she could in fact be pushed too far, and there were things that Sanctuary would respond to lethally, such as real threats on their lives. However, Lilliana was able to drive Juli off due to the dual facts that Juli was injured and that also she did not want to use lethal force against Lilliana, so Syreena was not killed. As the war against the Legion continued, another threat appeared. Shokkra's brother Karthok began accruing power for nefarious ends and Sanctuary endeavored to stay one step ahead of him, but often failed. He kidnapped Shokkra, killed Kanda, and later on killed Taozhu. While attempting to summon Accalia, he discovered that her remains had been absorbed by a demon hunter, and took her under his control to gain that power as well. Sanctuary and their allies spent months pursuing Karthok, with various setbacks and victories. In the end, he was defeated, but the damage he had done would never be fully undone. Julilee negotiated several other important matters issues during the campaign versus the Legion as well. Lohd, one of Sanctuary's members, being infected with the Nightmare; Kex'ti's apparent death and return; Night Vanguard, a new Alliance guild, becoming another an ally of Sanctuary; Catalinetta, a Sanctuary member, being sought for vengeance for acts she was compelled to do by the Ebon Blade; Borrowed Time hijacking an Alliance airship that proved to have Twilight Empire members on board; and all the daily matters of running a guild. At the end of the Legion campaign, she was faced with many difficult decisions. When she decided that Sanctuary would accept void elves, it was the breaking point for her marriage. Kex'ti, who had a traumatic history with the void, could not accept her decision, and felt her unwillingness to follow his advice spoke to the core of their unresolvable marital issues. From there, it was downhill as old matters regarding Shokkra came to light, and Juli attempted to steer clear of actions that would make Sanctuary look dangerous to and therefore come under threat from the Horde, especially with war versus the Alliance brewing on the horizon, but was accused of being biased towards Shokkra at best and at worst of not standing up for Sanctuary's values in any meaningful way, to the degree that Sanctuary was coming to stand for nothing. It caused her to reflect on how cautious she had been, but, more important, what her actions would lead to, regardless of what she intended. In the end, she made the difficult choice to ask Vilmah to take up leadership of Sanctuary again. Though she believed in all her choices with all her heart, she realized that too many didn't agree, and that sticking to them would fracture Sanctuary; but that she could not do otherwise. Vilmah accepted, and Juli departed. Where she goes from here remains to be seen. Threads (in chronological order): *** = recommended reading Julilee’s Journal (Juli's personal records and thoughts.) Sanctuary: From the Ashes (Discovering the remains of Sanctuary, Juli decides to raise its banner once more.) *** Sanctuary: The Lost Ones (Juli reaches out to lost members of Sanctuary.) Explosive Disharmony (Jinsai is not only a threat to himself, but to others.) A Grim Attack (A member of the Grim attacks a member of Sanctuary.) A War for Peace (Open conflict breaks out between Grim and Sanctuary.) *** A Grim Confrontation (Diplomacy between the two guilds falls apart.) Asking for Help (Juli accompanies Kex'ti to his monastery in Pandaria.) *** Sweets for Sanctuary (Someone sends Sanctuary a 'gift'. Hijinks ensue.) Orgrimmar: Broadsided (Libelous posters are pasted all over Orgrimmar.) The Assault on Aerie Peak (Sanctuary defends the innocent against those who believe none are innocent.) *** A Race Against Time (Saphiara must be stopped.) The Trial of Saphiara Sunspell (Durk'atar and Juli discuss Saphiara's fate.) Sanctuary Discusses the Eclipse (Self-explanatory.) Eclipse: Warnings (Juli warns others of the threat of Accalia.) Eclipse: Firestorm (Grimal speaks to Juli about Ninorra being afflicted by the curse.) Eclipse: A Night of Broken Faith (Kex'ti is attacked, and Juli and Naheal's disagreements come to a head.) *** Drawing the Line (Juli responds to the conflict between her and Naheal.) Eclipse: Desperate Times (Sanctuary Garrison is besieged.) What Happened at Warspear (Mutual desire comes to fruition.) Eclipse: Dying Light (Kex'ti is rescued from Malhavik's clutches.) Eclipse: The Eclipse (The final battle versus Accalia.) Nightmare: Acid Rain (Juli and Kex'ti battle their nightmares.) *** Requisitions (Juli finds Kex'ti a new set of armor.) Hollow: Vulnerabilities (Kex'ti reacts to discovering Juli is seriously hurt.) Diverging paths (Naheal's perspective on certain events with Juli.) The Price of Strength (Trust is betrayed.) *** Standoff at the Darkmoon Faire (Tensions between Sanctuary and the Grim come to a head.) A War for Peace: From the Ashes...We Rise (One of Sanctuary's members considers what to do outside of Juli's judgment.) The End-Times of Peace (Juli is faced with an unwinnable battle.) The Reward of Conviction (Juli chooses to do what she can.) The Life and Death of Kex'ti Dalendala [October Daily Thread!] (Juli appears in Kex'ti's past, present, and future.) A Week of Skirmishes (As the Grim and the Coalition do battle, Sanctuary acts in the concern of justice.) Borrowed Time Drunk Night(?) Followed By Romance (Just a night at the garrison.) The Trials of Faith (Juli starts to realize what it means to her when someone has faith in her, and when someone doesn't.) Maze (Juli and Kex'ti go to the Pools of Awakening to seek a difficult solution to Kex'ti's illness.) *** Infinite: Time Waits For No One (It's time to confront Serinar once and for all.) Old Crane and Sparrow (Juli meets the orphaned human Kex'ti has taken under his wing.) Quorum: The Gathering Fire (Sanctuary and allies discuss recent threats to the Horde and Azeroth.) Quorum: Mercy (An effort to support one of Sanctuary's members reveals more of a deeper laid conspiracy.) Sweets for Sanctuary II (An annual tradition no one asked for.) Quorum: Meridian (Sanctuary leans more about the conspiracy.) Quorum: Deceive (Sanctuary is infiltrated with ruinous consequences.) Quorum: The Sword and the Spear (Sanctuary and Twilight Empire compare notes and make a plan.) Quorum: Inveigle (Sanctuary and allies fight against agents of the conspiracy.) Quorum: A Gentleman's Coup (Sanctuary and allies take down another conspiracy agent.) *** How to Lose Friends and Disillusion People (Juli struggles with inspiring people to believe in Sanctuary, and themselves.) Quorum: The Ending Glow (Sanctuary confronts an agent of the Quorum within the Emerald Dream.) Quorum: A Dwelling Place for Demons (Sanctuary defeats another dreadlord and uncovers more questions than answers.) Quorum: The Finest Hour (In the midst of the ultimate battle against the Quorum, is Kex'ti lost?) *** Kargron's Defeat (Juli struggles to help an old friend who is divided against himself.) Legion: War's Wake (Sanctuary and others take to the Broken Shore.) *** Extreme Justice (Juli is driven to extremes when it comes to Syreena.) *** Moonglow Goodbye (A sending off for Rylie.) Lie - Die - Sanctify (Julilee is caught up in a political struggle involving one of her members, and her own sister.) The Rescue of Shokkra Deathrage (Shokkra is rescued from Karthok, but not without cost.) Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts: The Suramar Wedding (Juli attends a wedding she knows is going to be targeted by Karthok.) ***
  13. Julilee

    Julilee's Journal

    I returned Vilmah's journals to her... and after last night, it seems appropriate to start keeping my own. Sanctuary has risen. I wasn't the only one who believed justice should never die. And it never truly did -- Vilmah and Nojinbu were still fighting for it all along, even when Garrosh sought their lives. Compared to them, I am a mere initiate. Less, really... I already had no accomplishments to my name, no hardship under my belt. Except, now, for last night's endeavors. We met at the Blasted Lands base camp, as Nojinbu indicated. He was prepared to give orders, to lead the charge. But then Saphiara spoke up. I don't know, yet, her entire history with the guild, why she said what she did then, but she was right. I was the one who raised Sanctuary's banner. It fell to me to lead. And I told Nojinbu what I intended, and he accepted it. Several other members of the Horde who were at the base camp decided to join us. I organized the group, and we headed to the Red Portal. We came in too close, and were met with hostility. But then I had a chance to approach them under a flag of truce. I had expected... to be able to say my piece, at least. If nothing else, it would be a fair warning to this Iron Horde that Azeroth would not be an easy conquest. A show of strength and confidence. I'm no fool; I knew they were not here to make friends. But they just laughed and pulled me down before I had done more than announced my intentions. The others came, but so did ranks upon ranks of the Iron Horde. We were forced to retreat, barely escaping. I have never come so close to losing my life. It was a sobering experience. But not one that dimmed our will. We recouped, and I decided that we should return for a second strike, unexpected on the heels of the disastrous first. Some, including myself, were still injured, but none shirked the task. And the second foray was successful. We drove them back, routing nearly the entire camp. We let their dragonriders go, to bring word back to their superiors. There was much to discuss that evening. Between their armaments, Garrosh's escape on the back of a bronze dragon, and the presence of a younger Warlord Zaela at the portal, it seemed highly likely these Iron Horde came from some sort of alternate timeline. But much of the how, and the why, we cannot even begin to speculate on yet. At the end, Vilmah told me I was brave. I told her it was no less than she would have done. She agreed, if wryly. And then she and Nojinbu took up Sanctuary's banner one more. A wrong has been righted, I think. At least, it is begun to be. Later that evening, five more came to the banner, including the entire remaining regiment of the Order of Eversong. This after two joined earlier that day, before the assault. Sanctuary is now truly a force to be reckoned with again. I have promoted a number of officers to assist me, first among them Kargron, with Nojinbu and Vilmah of course holding honored positions, and Cerryan from the Order as well having proven himself. As our ranks grow, I may find more whom I can trust deeply. I am Julilee Liene of Sanctuary, and while I would not say I fear nothing... there is nothing I would not face for justice. For the Horde. And for Sanctuary.
  14. Julilee

    Julilee's Journal

    I always knew he could be irrationally stubborn. I knew but it seemed all right, because he’d always relent, for me, when it was important to me. That was how I knew he loved me. He’d let me win. Maybe even when I didn’t deserve to. But he knew when I couldn’t accept otherwise. And that was why I loved him, because he understood, and he was willing to tolerate my stubbornness. I always knew it wasn’t fair. I always knew. I felt guilty. Even now, though, I don’t see how can I do otherwise. I believe what I believe. I’m a Commander. I wrote the oaths. This is what I’m dedicating my life to. How can I compromise? It’s not as though I can meet him halfway. But he demands it. He’s not relenting anymore. I don’t blame him, though. It’s too much to ask. It always was. Finally admitting that to myself puts so much of our relationship in a different light. The illusion is dispelled that it was working, that it was healthy. At least, that’s what it feels like. He said I didn’t value his opinion, and I don’t know what argument I can make that that’s not true in light of my choices. He’s just stopped pretending that it’s all right. I thought I returned enough. I was willing to give him my loyalty, and literally my life. I looked past his indiscretions. I reassured him that I believed in him, that he could be who he wanted to be. But what does any of that matter when in the end I always insist I be the one to make the decisions? When I demand complete control? Who can tolerate that? No one deserves to be treated that way. But I thought he understood. I thought he was willing. I thought he loved me and it was worth it to him. I guess it’s my fault for letting myself believe it, too.
  15. Julilee

    T'suro Sunspear (H)

    "T'suro has been a member of Sanctuary's ranks for some time. He and Shokkra used to get into it... probably more than I should have allowed. But he's grown and prospered despite all the challenges that have been in his path. I'm glad to have him in Sanctuary."
  16. Julilee

    Aaren Anastasis

    "Yes, she's been in Sanctuary for some time, now," Julilee says. "It surprised me a bit when she wanted to join. She'd always struck me as..." She pauses to find a diplomatic way to put it. "...An independent kind of person, who didn't need or want the rules and customs that tend to come along with large groups. Which is probably true, but I think a part of her does want it, too..." She pauses, realizing her comments have ventured into the personal. "...But everyone needs somewhere to belong. And I'm glad she's chosen us. She never complains, and she never gives up."
  17. Julilee

    Baern Ashtotem

    "I remember when I first met him," Julilee says after a moment. "In the tavern in the Draenor garrison, one busy night. Kex'ti had suggested to him that he make a home in Sanctuary. He wasn't quite sure if he'd be welcomed. He was very upfront about his Grimtotem ties." She reflects, having not thought about this for some time, and holding it in new context now after all the time and events that had passed since then. In the end, she just offers a few more words of opinion. "He's not the type to waste words or time. He just wants to get the job done. He can come across as brusque, but if you understand that his priorities lie with not letting others down, that shouldn't bother you."
  18. Julilee

    Cobrak

    Years later, Juli is asked about Cobrak again. This time, her response is different. "He and I don't see eye to eye on a lot of things, and for that reason a lot of people think I shouldn't trust him, much less like him." She doesn't mention her husband is one of Cobrak's more vociferous objectors in that regard. "But there are few people in this life that I know exactly how far I can trust, and he's one of them." Her eyebrows rise slightly. "How far is that? That's between him and me."
  19. Julilee

    Sorel Crescentsong (A)

    "Sorel?" Juli gives the person inquiring an evaluating look, as she does when she's trying to decide how much to say. She chooses her words cautiously, aiming for honesty but political politeness. "I wasn't a good leader when I first restarted Sanctuary. I still have a long ways to go, too. What I do know is this. Being a leader means listening when people speak, but it also means carrying on when you know what's right, regardless of what anyone says. When do you know what's right, though, and when you should listen to others?" She shrugs. "That's a distinction only experience teaches how to make."
  20. Julilee

    Mardalius Anterius, Battlemage Extraordinaire

    "Mardalius," Julilee says, consideringly. Her gaze moves to the person inquiring, obviously debating how honest to be with them, but not for the reasons one might assume. As it turns out, whoever it is invites her confidence and honesty. "He's... eager to prove himself," she says finally. "He's a very resilient person. I understand he grew up in trying circumstances, though you wouldn't know it by the way he carries himself. Very confident, very capable, doesn't hesitate or overthink things. But sometimes he overreacts to threats..." She pauses. "Someone less scrupulous would probably be able to manipulate him easily." She shakes her head. "But he'll always come back to the right path, I think."
  21. Julilee

    Syreena

    Julilee's eyes narrow into a flinty gaze at mention of the rogue's name. "She is one of the few people I believe deserve to die."
  22. Julilee

    Julilee's Journal

    A week ago It’s been weeks but I still find myself thinking about it. Naheal. How could he just show up at my doorstep with the slate wiped clean, completely ignorant of everything he’d done? I don’t care if it’s unfair to him, whatever version of him that was, it makes me angry. Especially suggesting as he did that he found the things the Naheal that we all knew did objectionable. Like he wouldn’t do the same under the same circumstances. He is him. And as far back as when we were children he always had this in him. It took me a long time to realize, and longer to understand, but he always did. In any case, I made clear that I wasn’t interested in having him in my life again. He left. I haven’t heard anything since. But now I feel on edge about it. I thought he was gone. I mean, I knew he’d been called back to service with the Bronze Dragonflight, and that didn’t mean gone gone. But... more gone than this. Whatever this maddening state of events is. Hopefully nothing will change, though. Kex’ti said he needed to go to Argus. He’d been staying out of action for awhile. I told him of course I wouldn’t stand in his way. I would never ask him to stop fighting, regardless of his health. He wouldn’t ask me either. As I told him before we went to the swamp... It’s not likely we’re going to live to a ripe old age anyway, not with the conflicts Azeroth regularly sees. We both hope for the best after the Legion is defeated, and we hope the Legion will be defeated, but for now, live like there’s no tomorrow, because there may not be. I’ve been busy working with Shokkra to track and outmaneuver Karthok. I’ve made a plan with Gunheya from Coldstar to free the demon hunter who has Accalia’s power from his grasp. Her name is Kalisto, and Gunheya seems sure she’ll be on our side once she’s freed. I just need to identify a time I’m sure she’ll be away from Karthok, as we learned from Twilight Empire’s excursion into Tirisfal that he definitely sends her away at times to accomplish things for him. Careless. Or maybe just arrogant. Or maybe he has a plan. He probably expects us to strike at him, though, not her. I’m betting a lot on this, but it’s vital. Karthok is nearly unstoppable with Accalia’s power on top of his other powers from the fel and the Old Gods, not to mention all his resources... We’ll do it. We have to. Sanctuary has been working a lot with Twilight Empire and Night Vanguard to counter Karthok. There have been others too who have been willing to help, like Rhaen, Kejala, and Yocelyn. Sanctuary isn’t the only place where there are people willing to make sacrifices for the good of others. I’ve never forgotten that, but it’s always heartening to see. I still haven’t told Shokkra about my plans for her. Right now she’s doing great dealing with the Karthok problem. I’m not sure she’ll understand. But if nothing else, after this, she needs a break. This might be the only thing keeping her going, but that’s not healthy. She needs to find the will within herself to be the person she wants to be. I wish more people would see in her what I do. It affects her more than she lets on when people dislike her or write her off. Who wouldn’t it affect, really? Heroes in stories aside, no one is really capable of believing in themselves if no one else does. Everyone has to start somewhere, a parent, a best friend, a lover. Someone to give them that seed of hope that they can then nurture into self-esteem. I’m trying to encourage her, but she has to take heart in it. I can’t do that for her. Lots of thoughts to gather. I think I’m doing okay handling everything. There was awhile where I doubted my ability to handle it all. Losing Taozhu... almost put me back there. I still miss him so much. He had been with me, with Sanctuary, through thick and thin. But now I’m just more determined to end Karthok. There will be no mercy. He has proven unworthy of it. The world has proven we can’t afford to give him any. For Taozhu, for Kanda, for everyone he’s hurt, he will pay.
  23. Julilee

    [ H ] Sanctuary

    Sanctuary and friends are 9/9 N ToS and 4/9 H ToS with more to come. We have two raid nights a week, with one focused on progression and the other on alts or prior expansion raids. In addition, many members run Mythic+ groups and other in-game activities. Meanwhile, there continues to be RP every day on Discord. Speak to any member or an officer if you're interested in joining!
  24. Mardalius strolled out into the gardens. They were beautifully manicured, and glowing lampposts illuminated the area very well, growing brighter as the sun finished setting. The warm later afternoon was turning into a sultry evening that continued to be pleasant for outdoor socialization. Right outside the side exit from the ballroom was an open area where tables had been set up with food and drink, where most of the guests who were outside were milling, and several paths wound off through taller hedges and statuary arrangements. To one side there appeared to be a cleared space that, if Mardalius wasn’t mistaken, appeared to be reserved for duels, judging by the two attendants with cases standing nearby. He straightened his coat and looked around, considering where to begin and scrutinizing the area for illusions, only to be accosted immediately. “You! Boy! Are you an Anterius?!” It was a human man who called out to him, squinting at the sigil on Mardalius’ coat. Appearing to be an old soldier, the man wore traditional Stormwind military dress attire with his medals pinned to his chest and the rank of General on his collar. His hair was cut clean and short, his beard trimmed for the occasion, though he didn’t look too excited to be there. A younger man who could only be his son stood beside him. With a large beard, the sides and back of his hair shaved to keep a short cut on top, proud leonine features and a muscular build, the younger man embodied the image of the perfect Alliance soldier. It was enough to make the elven-tending Mardalius feel slightly inadequate. Nonetheless, he approached confidently. “Yes, sir. I’m Mardalius, Margoz Anterius’ son,” he said with a bow. “I take it you know my father?” “Comrades for as long as it lasts in times like these.” He extended his hand. “Josef Morozov, Son of Lothar.” The younger man stepped forward. “And this is my son, Ivan.” Mardalius took Josef’s hand firmly, shaking it briefly, then Ivan’s. “A pleasure to meet you both. I can’t help but notice your rank and honors, General. A prestigious career, and your son seems poised to follow in your footsteps.” “He’s a damn good soldier, sure as hell better than I ever was.” Josef grins, clapping his son on the back. Ivan just nodded politely and said, with gravitas, “Thank you, I’ve only done what I’ve felt was right for the Alliance.” “Sometimes, all it takes is the right man, in the right place, at the right time,” Mardalius said with a companionable smile. “Would you gentlemen care to join me for a glass of wine?” He beckoned them along as he started towards the wine table. It seemed to him that getting to know these two better couldn’t hurt. “Wouldn’t mind a couple. Get the taste of Horde air from my mouth,” Josef grunted. Mardalius choose one of the impressive wines on display on the table and procured three glasses. Once all three men had their drinks, he raised his glass. “To House Morozov, and House Anterius. May glory and honor shine on both.” The other men concurred, and Mardalius drank, savoring the wine for a moment before deciding where to go with the conversation. “So, what brings two honored Alliance soldiers to a Shal’dorei wedding, especially one attended by so many members of the Horde?” “I insisted my father come. It’s time he added more temperament to his life than his hate,” Ivan said. He turned to begin strolling, and the other two followed, Josef with a snort. “They took too much from me to make it up now. Nothing the Horde could do to redeem themselves, especially after getting King Wrynn killed.” Mardalius smiled agreeably, but stated none of his own opinions. “I see. And what of Argus? The last I heard, that was a joint operation. Some things are too big, too important for Azeroth to be divided on. Surely, General, there is some way the Horde could find redemption.” As they walked, he let his gaze move around them, ostensibly admiring the scenery, but in reality on the lookout for illusions. However, nothing was not as it seemed, including the two men with whom he conversed. The gardens were innocuous. “I’ll rely on the Army of the Light and my own soldiers for that, they’re preparing for it as we speak. Trusting the Horde to put their faith in the Light, or the Illidari…” Josef shook his head and took another sip as they continued strolling. “The heathens that created warlocks and death knights are not trustworthy creatures.” “I think you would find that the Horde today is very different from those of old, the likes that created Gorefiend.” Mardalius sipped his wine before continuing, “And what of the Shal’dorei? Are they trustworthy, General?” Josef wiped his mouth and turned down a path away from the hedges, into a slightly less maintained area of the gardens. There was a shed up ahead, and the path curved back around to the party area. “They’re dangerous, but Thalryssa and her advisors are good people. So long as she keeps her people in check, they’re fine in my book.” It didn’t sound like much motivation for disrupting a wedding, but Mardalius kept probing to be sure. “I see. Are you gentlemen acquainted with the groom, to have been invited this evening? He appeared to be a military man.” “We are,” Ivan said. He tucked the back of his suit down as though he were used to something being there. “We worked with him to quell the loyalist resistance.” Near the shed there appeared to be an exit from the gardens that looked like it was used by staff rather than guests. Mardalius began to wonder why they had brought him this direction. “A servant’s entrance? I hope this means one of you paid off a man to sneak in some good Lordaeron bourbon.” Both of them followed his gaze as though they hadn’t realized it was there. “Thought this was the way to the bathrooms…” Josef grunted. Ivan paused by the entrance, beside the shed. There were several boxes there that looked recently deposited. It was his father, however, who moved over and opened one to see what was inside. The old soldier took out a small bottle and sniffed it, then said, “Shit.” The scent wafted toward Mardalius from the open box. He smelled something he recognized from his father’s collection – a common kind of poison, one that had a strong scent, but no flavor. It could be put in aromatic food or drink and go undetected. There was another scent, too, he couldn’t quite place. He moved forward to open another box. “A dagger?” he said as he found one that had been left behind. “How did these things get smuggled past the guards?” He began looking around intently, sure something was going on. “Might’ve gotten paid off, might’ve killed ’em.” Josef said. He took out a rag and sniffed it. “Smells like oil for crossbow strings.” “We should probably tell security. We could prevent a tragedy, gentlemen.” He no longer believed the men were up to something. They seemed as disturbed by the find as he. Ivan nodded, lightly pulling his father up from the boxes. “You’re right. I’ll go alert security. Father, you go back to the gardens so it doesn’t look suspicious.” He looked to Mardalius. “You should go tell your friends about this.” It seemed Sanctuary’s presence here hadn’t gone unnoticed. “Indeed,” Mardalius said. “You gentlemen stay safe; the Legion likely has targets painted on your backs for the work you did digging them out of Suramar.” He headed back toward the ballroom to find Julilee.
  25. Julilee stepped out of the portal and looked around. It promised to be a beautiful evening, the late afternoon sun imbuing the normally twilit-hued Suramarian landscape with a warmer tone. The Valmont Estate where she had arrived was built on the outskirts of Suramar City to allow for a sizable building footprint and easy access to hunting grounds, and it was plain to see that no expense was spared for the Valmont family home. At the end of a wooded path stood a gilded gate, flanked by guards in ornate regalia, and beyond that rose the manor, several stories tall. Lights blazed from all around the grounds and music could be faintly heard playing. Other guests were arriving via portals, mounts, or other forms of transportation, all of them dressed as formally as Julilee and her companions. Aaren stepped through the portal moments after she did, also pausing to take in the sight. “Thank you, Mardalius,” Julilee said. She tried to keep a scowl off her face as she smoothed down her dress. The fabric was so thin and she felt distinctly uncomfortable without her armor or weapons. It seemed every time she put on a dress, someone tried to stab her, and with what she knew about tonight’s agenda, it seemed almost guaranteed. The one practical thing she’d been able to get away with was calf-high boots with sensible, sturdy heels. Her dress was purple satin, with a textured and an off-the-shoulder top, and slit to mid-thigh on the left side of the skirt. It was a simple but highly tasteful style, far less ostentatious than some Sin’dorei get-ups, for certain, but she had never cared for all of that. And of everything she had to worry about this evening, her appearance was very low in priority besides. “So these are the idiots we’re saving from their own idiocy?” Aaren remarked. The other Sin’dorei female’s gown was one Julilee hadn’t seen her wear before. Long and flowing, it was a very deep blue. The sleeves were made of, and bottom third of the skirts were decorated with, lace of the same color. A gold sash was tied around her waist, and a matching gold scarf wrapped around her head, tied in an elegant knot at the side of her neck. Mardalius, the third member of their party, closed the portal and took a moment to fix his hair, ensuring his auburn ponytail was perfectly centered and that the twin locks on either side were exactly where they were supposed to be. The half-Thalassian, half-human had forsaken his robes in exchange for something far more elegant this evening: A silver silk coat and form-fitting pants, both trimmed with deep blue accents and bound with a dyed blue leather belt. The sigil of House Anterius was embroidered in purple on the left of his breast, a shield bearing a stylized “A”. His boots, also dyed deep blue, came to the middle of his calf. Julilee spotted Shokkra waiting up by the gate. Clad in a fitted black military-style suit with red accents, the orc smoked a cigar while she waited for the rest of the guests from Sanctuary to arrive. The emaciated warrior still maintained her height advantage over many of the partygoers, a fact she likely took no small amount of joy in. Even if she was deprived of every inch of muscle in her once-perfect physique, she still had her height. Her ashen hair had been cut and styled cleanly, and the light of the cigar limned the savage scar that ran up the side of her face. She waved when she saw them. “Let’s head in. We can split up and mingle inside,” Julilee said. When they got to the gate, a night elf who had reached it just before them – appearing out of a blue mist – was apparently arguing with the guards about being allowed to take in her staff, which had appeared with her. Julilee caught snippets of the conversation as she passed her invitation over to the other guard, who inspected it and her companions, holding a wand over them to detect threats. Shokkra joined them, puffing on her cigar. “You want a mage to conjure this much catering without a tool to amplify their magic? Honest question. I can do it, but it will be far more dangerous to the people around me. Banning a staff from the event does nothing to prevent myself from using magic to harm people if I wished to harm people,” the night elf was arguing. She wore an elaborate gown in gradients of blue and purple, accented with cerulean gemstones which matched her long hair. “The hall has been warded to disable the use of magic,” the guard said dismissively. “Staff.” He held out his hand. “No weapons inside.” “Kitchen workers are expendable anyway,” snickered the guard who was inspecting the Sanctuary party. Satisfied that none of them were carrying weapons, he handed the invitation back over and allowed them to pass through. Mardalius’ eyes had widened at hearing the hall was warded. They’d anticipated it, but hoped not; now their hopes were dashed. “Julilee,” he muttered, “I’ve never been without my magic and my sword.” Julilee put her hand on his arm as they moved past, murmuring back to him. “It’s not exactly ideal, but hopefully we won’t miss either of them.” She was thinking about what their guard had said. The words were concerning, but Julilee had heard nobility express worse sentiments about lower classes, and wasn’t surprised to hear more of the same in Suramar. Briefly, she was distracted by the fact that Mardalius smelled like cinnamon. Who wore food-scented cologne? They entered an enclosed courtyard where some of the guests had stopped to talk amongst themselves. A grand fountain sat in the middle of it before a massive set of stairs leading up to the manor doors, with a smaller staircase on either side moving to a balcony. A lit path carved around the side of the manor to the rear, where it seemed the ceremony would be taking place. Guests continued to arrive. Without comment, Aaren split off to go mingle the guests, which from Juli’s observation appeared to mean walking up to them and inspecting them intently, but she didn’t question Aaren’s methods. Shokkra eyed the crowds derisively and moved off to the side to continue enjoying her cigar. Julilee and Mardalius lingered in the open area, observing what they could. “It seems overzealous, if you ask me. They have their reasons though,” came a voice from behind them, by the gate. Someone was talking to the night elf who had grudgingly dissipated her staff to be allowed to enter. Both Julilee and Mardalius reacted to the voice, Mardalius blanching, and Julilee spinning around. “Sorel Crescentsong. You are?” the second, male, night elf continued. Sorel wore ceremonial Kal’dorei garb, a rich, light blue haori tucked into dark blue hakama, tied with a white himo, with tabi over his feet, and zori sandals slipped into them. The night elf to whom he spoke sighed and looked him over before launching into a long-winded rant. “Niala Moonthorn. They call it overzealous. I call it having no clue what a mage can do to harm partygoers without stepping foot in that hall, let alone what a Sentinel can do barehanded. Half the people at this party are capable of killing countless people with their bare hands. They let me in and the moment I get to the kitchen, I can just... teleport it right back to my side. It’s like those guards are somehow the only two Nightborne in Suramar with no concept of what magic is and does. Now I have to conjure arcwine and this massive cake without a focus. Their kitchen is going to get trashed during the arcwine process.” Sorel, bemused, turned as he saw Julilee’s approach during the latter half of this. “My apologies for your situation,” he said to Niala. “It could be a lot worse, though. Speaking of…” He bowed to Julilee. “Hello, Liene.” Looking past her, he saw Mardalius and his expression changed to a glare. Julilee had no interest in either Niala’s peeve or the drama between Sorel and Mardalius right then. She took Sorel by the arm, and, without the slightest pause for explanation, hauled him off to the side of the courtyard with her. He just blinked and didn’t resist. Once they were there, positioned by the wall where they could speak privately, she let go and said to him, “Thank the Light you’re here.” “Why are you so excited that I’m here?” he asked blankly, completely thrown by the display. “Karthok,” Julilee hissed. “He’s planning something for this. I tried to tell them, but they insisted their protections were good enough and they wouldn’t cancel it. They wouldn’t even let me station more guards here, or bring in weapons! I don’t know what Karthok is planning, exactly, but we need to figure it out in time to stop it.” Sorel visibly tensed. “I have my radio still, but most of my men are still on Argus, and Mardalius’ father and adoptive mother are in Stormwind getting married.” “They wouldn’t let anyone else in anyway, without an invitation,” Julilee said. She swiped her hair back in frustration. Being so short, it wasn’t really styled anyway, though she had at least put on some makeup. Her appearance remained one of furthest things from her mind at the moment, however. “Just keep your eyes open, all right? Anything weird at all... Anyone acting suspiciously.... Don’t start a scene, you won’t be any help if you get thrown out or attract any attention, but if you can figure out what’s going on, so we can get evidence to show the guards, then we can foil whatever Karthok has planned.” Niala had moved forward to where Mardalius was standing. “What’s with them?” she asked curiously, looking toward Sorel and Julilee. Mardalius had been looking toward Sorel with shame plain on his face, but he started when Niala approached him. “I’m not sure,” he said cautiously. “There is a formal treaty between Sanctuary and the Night Vanguard, which Sorel heads. Might be something concerning that.” Back over at the wall, Sorel nodded at Julilee. “Right. I’ll be sure to keep my eyes open. Sentinels are good at that.” “Everyone!” a crier announced above the mingling. “The wedding will be beginning soon! Please make your way to the seating area at the back of the manor!” He pointed to the lit path leading around the side of the building to the rear. Julilee started to step away, then paused. Everyone in the courtyard seemed to be pairing up for the entrance into the wedding ceremony area. Shokkra had found Aaren, who had taken the orc’s arm and was proceeding with her head held high. There was a draenei and a Nightborne couple nearby, gliding onward elegantly. And a tall demon hunter was being escorted by a blood elf with a leg brace. Reflexively, Julilee looked back at Sorel, not because she wanted him to offer an arm, but because he might. He seemed to observe the same thing, running a hand over his face and groaning quietly, then offered his arm. She was of noble enough lineage to handle this gracefully. Without comment, she took his arm and let him lead her to the ceremony. *****