Vathelan

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About Vathelan

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  1. Kirital looked up at the shattered sky. A flock of kaliri swoop by and land on the fence of an Arakkoan hut high in a tree top. He had only read about the Outland campaign, or heard snippets of rumor and hearsay when traveling with his brother. He was always so much better at this than Kirital is; handling attraction beyond just a one night stand. "What am I doing, getting all flustered?" Kirital asked to himself. "It's Vathelan. He's probably completely oblivious to how much of a flirt he can be..." After a string of calming breaths, he turned back in through the door then closes it gently behind him. Seeing the continuation of the coffee lesson, he smirked. "Adorable goof." He muttered. “Something to give it a bit more flavor; spices—mint can add a whole new dynamic, actually. One of my favorites.” His hands continued to guide her motions, gentle above the rising temperature of her skin. Her body heat had rising significantly in a short time. “But for now, we shall keep this simple. Miss Cat… are you feeling well?” The door opened again, the half-elf caught out of the corner of his eye, drawing his attention. “Ah, Kirital, welcome back. Your cup should be done brewing. Do you like it black? If not… then give me a moment and I shall give you the funds needed to run and get some milk. I tend not to keep such anymore—spoils before I get the chance to fully enjoy it.” "...I'm fine," she squeaked. Cat cleared her throat and listened for Kirital to came back. She was too distracted by the magister's hands to look back at the half-elf, and half-listened to the milk conversation. Her cheeks had gone red during their time alone. "Its, uh, fine." He looked decidedly less feverish as he approached his mug of coffee. "Got any sugar?" “I… should?” Vathelan sounded dubious in this regard, his form leaning slightly away from the woman he was instructing as he looked at his cabinets. His hands removed themselves from her next as he departed to try to find such for Kirital, his eyes turning to Cat for just a moment as he gave her an instruction. “Keep going.” Cat nodded quickly, clearly receptive to taking orders. "Yes sir." She kept grinding the beans, her hands slightly less shaky on their own. After a while, they were ground into a nice grainy powder with a few chunks left here and there. Cat's breathing was surprisingly shaky as well. When Kirital moved up to Vathelan, he took a moment to help the man look around for the misplaced sugar. "How often are you out of here?" Kirital noted the low amount of perishables. There's likewise not much in the way of ingredients as well. Thinking back, much of the time he spent with Vath, they've always eaten out somewhere. In his thought he bumped into the magister when turning around. It was rough enough to off balance the smaller man. Kirital would be quick to grab if that were the case. “Since my House Visca assignment?” He asked as he tried to calculate a proper answer. “It varies. Before the Legion—” The man stumbled backwards, thanks to the sheer muscular bulk of the half elf compared to the fit, yet still lithe Magister as gravity does his trick. The movement to catch him was impressive. “…Careful.” Vathelan responded somewhat meekly. Cat glanced back to see Kirital holding Vath. She grinned to herself and continued grinding the beans. "How's this, sir?" Kirital smiled in apology and let Vath steady himself. He rest a hand on his waist and looked over the magister to see if he was fine or if he dropped anything. "Sorry about that. Go on?" “I’m fine.” His smile matched the meekness in his voice; he rested there a moment before he collected his thoughts. The realization of his compromised position struck him, his more professional persona took charge once more as in a blink of an eye—he was gone from Kirital’s arms and next to the living death knight. He looked over the grounds of the beans and nodded. “It seems you are ready for the next step.” Cat put down the mortar and pestle to stand at attention. "What's the next step, sir?" “This could have been started sooner, but I didn’t wish to rush you.” The Magister took the pot and conjured the estimated amount of water required with ease. “We have to boil the water, as a well versed student of the magical arts, I can merely summon it. For someone who does not, you will have to measure the amount required—I suggest your cup and a half to two depending how much room you want for additives, to compensate for both the loss due to steam and the filtration system.” Kirital stared as he blindly dumped way too much sugar into his coffee. The extent if Vathelan's knowledge of the brew, as well as the existence of such intricacy for a simple drink, baffles him. Cat nodded slowly, processing the instructions. "Cup and a half. Got it." “The next variable is the heat source you are using.” He set the pot onto one of the circular rings on his stove. “Various kitchens will have different methods, you could even make coffee in a camp via a fire—but I have something a bit more sophisticated.” He motioned at the stove before grabbing the metallic wand, moving back to his former position behind her as he set the rod in her hand, before maneuvering her as he had done before. “This wand will summon a flame; you simply must will it to do so. Go on, try.” Cat took the wand carefully. "Never was too good at magic stuff.." she said to herself, swallowing as he moved behind her again and put his rod in her hand. "...u-um... do I just... wiggle it?" “That is fine; this device is designed with that in mind.” He ensured her fingers are on the bottom portion, a safe distance from the tip. “It’s simpler than that, just focus your thoughts on the implement, and desire the flame. Mentally tell it that is what you want…”. Cat's eyes widened with his description. Seriously?! She thought to herself, her hand slightly shaky under his. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and stroked the wand slowly, willing the tip to deliver its bounty. “Easy, there is nothing to be afraid of.” The Magister’s voice was gentle as he spoke to her, he could feel the poor woman’s hands shake. To help accentuate his point, one of his hands gently squeezed on grip on the device. His other, if Kirital was paying attention was behind his back, prepping a countermeasure of frost should this get out of hand. He watched with a raised brow, unsure as to why she was stroking the wand—an odd motion, but if it helped her focus… who was he to judge? The wand would warm in the woman’s hand as she focused. Vathelan moved her hand gently away from the tip before the sparks started to form. “Focus… we’re almost there… remember, we need a gentle flame, like one would expect from candlelight.” Not that it was designed for much more. Cat cleared her throat and nodded, watching his hand, her hand, the wand suddenly, without warning, released tiny sparks that burst forth from the tip; just enough to light its target. "Oh! Hey! I did it!" She said happily, legitimately surprised with herself. "Not bad, huh sir?" Kirital was looking out of a window and sips his coffee. Clearly aware of the events, he concluded it best to keep a level head, despite the furious rush of blood to his face. “Yes, well done.” His voice spoke of gentle encouragement as the sparks eventually gave way to a small and singular flame. “Now we carefully set the flame to the circle like this…” His touch guided her to touch the tip of the wand towards the circle underneath the pot. As the gentle fire licked at the surface of the stove, it consumed the inside of the circle that seemed to both feed and control it. “Very good.” "Neat!" She seemed a lot more comfortable now that they were actually getting somewhere. "Now the water? How do you know when it's hot enough?" “We want to catch the water before it truly boils, as that level of temperature will burn your beans.” He gently removes the rod from the Knight’s hands to ensure the lack of a fire-hazard. “You want it above poaching level, where the first bubbles form, but before it starts to get at a roaring boil where you would cook noodles in. If you get to that point, remove the pot and let it cool for a minute or so before using the water.” "This is pretty complicated for one drink.." she watched the water carefully. “Cooking is an art, Miss Cat. One I am admittedly… not great at aside a few choice recipes, and this is one of them.” He gives a small shrug as he guides her hands towards the filter and cone used for the actual seeping required. “There are devices, from what I understand, that help make this quicker—but you lose the art of it from such. To me, this isn’t simply about a means to an end. The process itself helps reduce stress while still being productive.” Cat looked at Vathelan carefully. "You seem like the type to need some stress relief, " she said not unkindly, allowing him to guide her hands. “I suppose you would be right.” Any markings of offense were wholly absent upon his face. “I’ve never said I’m perfect, far from it. To get where I am has been… an ordeal, I’ve made enemies. Too many. But it has led me to be in a place where I could actually make a difference. To do finally do Good in the world, even if it rejects me.” "Sir," Cat said with a mirthful smile. "You know I'm a death knight, right? You don't need to explain that sort of thing to me. Being hated comes with the territory. Maybe that's why you and I get along." “Sometimes I forget, with how lively you have become.” His smile, while smaller, seemed to rise to follow her own. “It’s hard to remember… I have friends, for the first time in my life.” "You sure do." She nodded toward Kirital. "And I'm pretty sure that we'd both take a bullet for you, even if it weren't his job to." "I hope... it never comes to that." Cat laughed and elbowed the magister playfully. "Well me too. They're no fun to pull out, even with the death knight stuff. I just mean you don't need to feel so lonely all the time. 'You're only as strong as the men next to you.’ While this sounds like a slogan for togetherness it's actually a reminder that your faults can hinder the man next to you. If your companions are focused on you they can't focus on the enemy.” “…Yes, I suppose not." He forced the smile to continue. "How is the water looking?" "Just about there, I think." The water was bubbling, but only at the bottom. Vathelan gave a small nod. “Good. First, let’s place the filter on the cup… like this.” He moved her to make the motions. “And then we just have to pour the hot water through the filter and let it do its job.” Cat added the filter to her cup and added the ground beans, then carefully picked up the boiling water by the handle. She poured the water in slowly, her eyes fixated on the task until it was full and she put the boiling water back on the stove. "Now we wait?" "Now we wait. Congratulations on making your first artisan coffee." Cat giggled, clearly pleased with herself. "Won't Kreyen be happy I can do more than burn eggs.. thank you, sir. You'll definitely be invited to the wedding." The Magister stepped away as he let her enjoy her work, taking his own cup of coffee. "I'm not sure I will be welcomed..." He began to sip his own hard work. Cat raised an eyebrow. "You're my friend. It's my wedding. Why wouldn't you be welcome? Kreyen isn't mad at you. Not anymore, anyway. He's not the type to hold a grudge. Besides, if it weren't for you, we wouldn't be getting married anyway. You kinda gave me another chance, and after what happened at Light's Hope.. I really needed it." “…I am not fond of having guns in my face, when risking my job to help them.” He looked back at Kirital, as he tried not to show aggression. “He also threatened the Accords, because he could not figure out the coded messages I was trying to give him. And he’s an Arath’dorei. Conflict with him isn’t in my best interests.” Cat pushed her tongue into her cheek. "I mean... I'm going to be an Arath'dorei, too. Eventually. So if anything, you'd have less a conflict with him, and more a friendship with me. Right?" “Assuming he can keep from a gun being placed in my face again, I suppose.” He looked back at the Knight. “If I am to die for the cause… so be it, but that particular scenario is a waste and a hindrance to our mission.” The handle on Kirital's mug broke off. The half elf sat it down hard atop the windowsill at Vathelan's resolve towards death. The mug itself stays on the short ledge, but coffee leaked from the cracks. Kirital played it off as an accident and it's convincing. He laughed a little with sounds apologetic. "Towel?" The mug and handle are set somewhere out of the way. “Oh dear…” The Magister frowned at the leaking of the mug, quickly grabbing at towel, the cast a Blink spell to quickly move, kneeling as he started to clean. “You are not hurt, are you Kirital? I hadn’t realized the container’s structural integrity had been compromised!” He got up and fussed over the half elf, looking for burns or cuts. Cat watched Vathelan fuss over Kirital, smiling to herself at the sight. "Vathelan," Kirital states, "I'm fine." He didn't hinder the inspection and instead looked over at Cat. There's a desire to speak his mind about Vathelan's priorities, but he knew Cat worked for him and doesn't want to undermine the man in front of someone who respects him. He'd have to plan to bring it up later, though that carried its own complications, as too much time will have likely passed. There had to be some way to distract Cat so he could talk to Vathelan in private and save face for everyone. Smiling at Vathelan, Kirital decided to go back on his earlier thought. He firmly gripped Vathelan's shoulders to cease his check and smirked at Cat. This idea has a good chance to work. "Wanna practice making another cup like how Vathelan showed you?" He asked her. "Uh..." Cat wasn't one for subtlety, but she knew a guy trying to get in someone's pants when she saw it. "Sure!" She said brightly. "If that's alright with you, sir? I'll be careful, I promise not to burn the place down." “Oh good… I would hate to think I caused you undue harm due to my negligence.” He breathed a sigh of relief. His brow raised at the contact, but he allowed it. As she asked for his permission, he nodded. “…Practice does make perfect, Miss Cat. If there is a problem, please inform me immediately. I can counteract the fire if caught quick enough.” "Aye aye, sir," Cat said with a salute, winking at Kirital before turning her back to them both and starting on a new cup from scratch. Kirital smirked back at her before looking to Vathelan. "You mind if we step out for a minute?" He lowered his hands. It's clear Kirital wantsed to bring something up, but the nature of what is up in the air. “Are you sure that is wise? I have other rooms…” He looked down the hall. Cat grinned to herself, as she ground the coffee beans. "Maybe you should show him more of your collection, sir." Kirital shrugged. "You know the place better than I do." The Magister gave a brief nod before motioning the Half-elf to follow. As they entered the hall, which required a sharp turn that made them wholly invisible in this weird Draeneic architecture, they would already find themselves alone—in a depth of the apartment no one other than Vathelan had ever tread since he had owned the lease. The scenery upon the wall seemed to shift just as suddenly. Rather than the hopeful overtones of the righteousness of duty in propaganda came newspaper clips of the harsh realities of war that was only accentuated by the lack of lighting. Articles from the Violet Eye detailed and attempted to track the mysterious General Quel’thalas. Recruitment posters for a colonization project, articles detailing the casualties in both the Civil War and the Northrend Campaign, details on both the Theramore Incident and the Dalaran Massacre—and then they came to his bedroom door. He paused here, realizing that no one had ever been in here besides him. Kirital remained silent with his hands in his jacket pockets. "Are you all right?" The question was meant in full and not as some passing comment. “Yes… I... I just tend to be a very private individual.” He looksed back at the Half-elf with a nervous smile. “You have been one of the few that have ever visited me, and the first… here.” Kirital leaned on a barren part of the wall. A soft green glow emanates from his eyes as he listened; a quality only visible in the dimmer light of the hall. In a way, he can empathize. He and his brother were secluded from others as they grew up together. The luxury of having someone else doesn't escape him. "Thank you for allowing me to be here, Vathelan." “I know, it’s silly.” He tried to reassure himself with a smile. “I’m not… particularly sentimental. I don’t even know who—nevermind. I just. I know it’s foolish of me.” He waved himself off before taking a deep breath, slowly exhaling it as he disarmed the wards before taking a key to unlock this particular room. This room hardly any light at all, the majority of it coming from underneath a sheet in the corner of the room before he stepped in, his hand rested on the lighting controls as he tried to brace himself for the revelation to another soul of how far his obsession went… Kirital stepped inside and looked about the room. He wasn't planning to plunder Vathelan's darkest secrets or anything, so he rolled with it. Really he just wanted to get a better idea of the man, given his duties of protection. The covered object has him curious while he tries to not trip on anything. "Vathelan, if this is too much for you, we can go back into the hallway." His tone was soft and caring like a gentle river's current. "I don't want you to feel pressured." Turning to Vathelan, he rested his hands at his side and relaxed his posture. With his size, he knew he can be imposing to a degree, and seeming as passive as possible is the only way around it. “I appreciate the willingness to respect my privacy.” He closed his eyes, the corner of his mouth twitching as his fingers gently activated the energy source to give the room light. “…But given the nature of what may be required of me to save our world… my room is safer than outside.” And with that he held his breath momentarily as he awaited the reaction of his half-elf companion. In the corner of the room that Kirital focused primarily on, he may notice that the glass casing wasn’t entirely covered by the sheet. Just above the risen wooden platform, one could make out some sort of binding rune that contained a twin set of charred metal, warped by something or another. Should his gaze wander from there, he would find a series of shelves behind more glass casing with various objects on them. Models of Dalaran, a Manaforge on an island, snow globes of both Dalaran and Quel’Danas, a jar with an embalmed finger, a black jewelry box with runes upon it, some sort of operative’s knife, various models of golems—each seemingly more complex than the last. Within the opposing corner of the Armor, upon the same wall, would be a bed one saw in Sin’dorei inns, larger than a single person required, with a veil for further privacy; odd for a man with no friends to speak of until recently. Kirital paced around the room as he looks over the assorted items. Given the variety, he wondered if it's a collection of some sorts. The finger caught his attention and he gave it a look of wonder. "I'm not sure how you can sleep in here with all of these fascinating trinkets to look at." “I… don’t usually; work tends to keep me away from home.” As Kirital continuesd to look about the room, he would find the wall next to the bed to be full of a collection of shields that would be too large for the man. All of them had obviously seen use in battle, but their condition varied from shattered to merely scuffed. Most of them portrayed the Blood Knight symbol, though a couple would stick out as majorly different: A titanium should that bared the symbol of the Kirin Tor and two Tower Shields, one of spikes, another that of a Spellbreaker. Under this collection was another display case, it was hard to determine what lay within from this angle. Upon the opposing wall, was… artwork? Concept art and plans of some sort of Colony built around a Manaforge. Vathelan spotted a large pillow on the bed and quickly moved to teleport it away into the closet. “...So, Kirital, what did you want to speak about?” Kirital turned to regard Vathelan with a sobering eye. Returning his hands to his pockets, he thought on how to approach the issue without being too blunt. What angle should he take? The persona of 'bodyguard' assigned to him or as the new friend given a view into Vathelan's most private of spaces? The situation was complicated, that much he is aware of. He stalked a little closer to Vathelan. A smile spread the dense stubble around his mouth. "I wanted to speak to you about... us." The Magister took a step backwards, his skin gaining a slight red hue. "...U-us?" There is something the Magister is nervous about, and Kirital felt he could narrow it down. His smile turned subtle in a way Vathelan may not pick up. With the effort Vathelan endured, allowing him a glimpse at something so private, Kirital gently maneuvered the thinner Magister toward the door. Quietly, it shut, and with a simple click of the lock to follow Kirital rest his hand on the knob. They were close now; the difference in height and size apparent. Intimidation was at the forefront of Kirital's mind as he walked the fine edge between it and unsettling Vathelan further. He needed his words to be felt as much as heard if they were to continue with this, though at the same time, he does not want to make an ultimatum. "Vathelan, I worry about you." Kirital began. He tucked a long strand of his fiery hair behind an ear. There's a concern within his pleasant baritone and genuine apprehension behind his softly glowing eyes. "If I am to be your bodyguard, assistant, friend," a slight pause intervenes in his list as if to suggest another category before he continued, "What-have-you, I need to be clear on this: I want you to rethink some of your devotion. It's admirable, truly, but it ... pains me to hear how easily you've accepted your life as expendable." He swallowed and took in a breath to calm himself. "Even for the Greater Good, you are not expendable. It's fine to continue as you are. It's something I respect you for, but just that one thing, please give it thought?" “My friend…” The Magister tried to give the Half-Elf more space, the corner of his lips twitched for a moment as he tried to center his breathing. “…I fear you misunderstand. I do not wish to die, I merely find it probable. We are in a war for Azeroth’s very soul, and I am no hero of renown. I’m not some grizzled war veteran, an Archmage, or a practitioner of some divine being. There will be casualties. Both from the Legion and elsewhere. And I have made plenty of enemies already, and I am on a path to make many more—just to do what is right.” The Magister’s voice was gentle, his face solemn. “I… will admit. I didn’t think I would live past twenty. But I kept beating the odds, as I play this game horrendously stacked against me.” The Magister closed the distance between them that he had caused in his earlier movements. “…Perhaps I shall keep doing so. But even I can only outwit the world so many times; I can only push my luck so far… But I will keep fighting the good fight into the next day, until there isn’t one.” He set his hand upon the Half-elf’s that rested upon the door handle. “I trust that you’ll help me to do so, I know you’ll try your best… But when my luck runs out, I don’t want you to blame yourself. Okay?” 'Blame yourself'. The words ran through Kirital like a river. His mind swam, jostling and rocking when Vathelan set a hand upon his. The light at his back hides the darkening of his cheeks and the nervous sweat at his brow. Guilt is not him. Doubt is not him. Hesitation is not him. Those are all traits of his brother. Mistakes, however, are still within his realm to make. This time, he hopes, isn't one. His hand moved on its own. Vathelan's jaw tips up and their lips meet for but a moment. "I'll be your good luck charm, then." As his jaw was moved, the Magister’s brow raised, he opened his mouth to speak—to be silenced as the other man’s lips touched his own. The action sent shockwaves through his form. First came the paralysis, the shock of the act. What was a man to do? Next came the full body blush that spread from the tips of his ears ever onward like wildfire. The man was attractive, strong, and just expressed a conspicuous interest. Something he had never experienced, it melted the entirety of his frosted defenses. And then the contact was broken. His first kiss was over. And it set a maelstrom of emotion through him, his hand quickly moving to hide his expression—he was far too exposed. His eyes averted the man as his other hand forced the door handle to turn. “…Let’s hope that is true. We’ll need as much luck as we can get in the coming months.” "Yeah." Kirital sighed with a relaxed contentment. Such a reaction after their exchange is a farce, however. It's all he can do to restrain himself and respect Vathelan's need for space. No resistance was felt. Only surprise and ... potential. He slipped his hands into his jacket pockets; tugging the thick garment down and wishing he had zipped it. As before, his shadowed features reveal just enough of a smile somewhere between apologetic and happy. "We should probably get back to Cat." His nerves began to ebb, though their influence lingers on his words to add a subtle shake. "And uh, thank you for trusting me with all this." The smile given earlier turns into one of boyish gratitude. "Y-yes. Let's not neglect my other guest." Vathelan practically glowed a pleasant scarlet. He gently opened the door to allow the half-elf to pass him, needing a moment to regain his composure. "And you're... um... welcome?" As Kirital walks the hall, the newspapers and clippings help take his mind off the past minute. He calms himself and dispeled the inconvenient blood flow to his face. It was a gamble and his heart still thud steadily against his chest. Vathelan's reaction, that subtle shock, the intake of breath, the slight bend in the man's back, and the lingering excitement on his tongue all were good signs of potential. Still though, he needs to be careful, but it doesn't make his smile any less wide. Cat was busy with coffee making and didn't notice as Kirital and Vathelan left the bedroom until they were within earshot. Beaming at the half-elf, the death knight handed him a fresh cup of steaming coffee. "How'd your little talk go? You guys okay?" Kirital kept his smile and rested his hands in his jacket pockets. A humor comes over him. "Yeah. We just hammered a few things out, you know. Set a few things straight." Looking to the coffee, he swapped to that. "How'd it go? No fire, so that's a good sign." Cat grinned at Kirital's description. "No stove on fire. Not yet, anyway." She glanced at Vathelan again, then back at Kirital. "Though is it just me or is it a little warm in here?" Kirital would be the first to arrive, as Vathelan held back for a moment to catch his breath—he needn’t let his other guest see him so flustered, it was simply unprofessional. After a moment, all he could spare before being noticed absent he was sure, he looked back to the sheet covered object mouthing a ‘Sorry’ before he closed the door to catch up.
  2. Vathelan Frostwhisper summoned a portal for Cat and himself, sending them back to Shattarath. From there he was quick to guide and get them lost in the Lower City crowds. He tried to keep them in the thick of it, making them hard to follow before leading her to his apartment complex. He looked around for any signs of someone watching them as he opened the door and motioned for her to get inside. Cat followed Vathelan, looking around Shattrath as they walked with surprise. The death knight hadn't been there since shortly after she was turned into one of the Lich King's knights, and she had forgotten how pretty it all was. By the time they got to Vathelan's apartment, she had almost forgotten why they were even there. "Oh," she said with surprise, walking in. "Is this your place?" As he made one final check for any threat of being watched, he closed the door to the complex and marched to Room Three, on the bottom floor. A basket of various now rotating and eels lay before it. "Yes." He sighed as he looked down the hall. He quickly ported it away to somewhere else before he depowered the protective wards on his door and unlocked it. As he opened the door, the first thing she may have noticed was the naked man she met had his likeness pointing at them. In Thalassian the script on the poster said "The Lord-General Wants YOU to join the Scryers today! Find your nearest recruiting station for more details on how to enlist!" Cat jumped back at the sudden image of Draco on a poster. "Ah! Crap!" She went toward the poster and looked at it more carefully, her blue eyes going over Draco's features. A sudden recognition came over her. "...wait... I think I'm starting to remember something..." She said quietly, to herself. Cat looked over at Vathelan, her eyebrows raised. "I think I saw this poster a long time ago. When I enlisted. I knew I wanted to be a knight before I saw it, but... it was definitely a nail in the coffin." She paused. "...in more ways than one." "I envy you for having such talents," He gave a small smile, "What I would not give... to be more like him. But feel free to look around, would you like some coffee?" Cat shook her head and looked around the apartment. "No thanks.." The death knight came to a stop in front of another poster. It depicted three knights; Cerryan, Draco, and someone else. "Who's this third guy? I know Cerryan and naked-guy, but not this one." The entire living room of the apartment, at least, was full of propaganda and memorabilia. "That is the now current Lord-General, Faelenor Rayfeather. A weapons master and a high ranking Farstrider. ...also the Late Lord-General's brother-in-law." Cat stumbled on her own feet, suddenly turning to look at Vathelan with wide blue eyes. "What?! That guy is a Rayfeather!?" "Yes?" Vathelan gave a raised eyebrow. "Are you well, Miss Cat?" She looked both shocked and uncomfortable. "Uh... no. Yes? Maybe... do you know of someone named Arcturus Rayfeather?" “Easy Miss Cat, you are safe here.” His tone tries to reassure her as he considers the question. “Heraldry is not an area of expertise of mine, I am afraid. As far as I know there are only four left of the family, Lord-General Faelenor Rayfeather, his wife Lady Amalyn, their child… and then the Lord-General’s siblings, Aetheril and widow of the former Lord-General Visca, Lady Ronyo Rayfeather-Visca. Could this…. Arcturus be their father?” Cat sputtered and shook her head, turning again to look at the trio of knights in front of her. "...father? Their father? That would mean.." she looked around the apartment and grabbed the ends of her pigtails, tugging them down. "Oh sir, I think I've just made a whole lot more trouble for myself by even asking. Wait, why are we here again?" “Calm down, tell me what happened. Maybe I can help.” His voice is calm and, hopefully, soothing. "I.. well..." she tugged on her pigtails. "...don't tell anyone, but... Arcturus Rayfeather is my.. birth father?" “So a Rayfeather and the blood of a Visca running through your veins…” He leans upon the counter of his kitchen as he looks at her, a warm smile upon his face. “You really are destined to be a Champion of our people. But you have no need to worry about me keeping your secret, my entire job centers around secrets. But, back to the purpose of why we are here?” "Oh yeah.." she looked around his apartment, suddenly aware of the fact that she was alone with a man in his home. "Uh... it's a nice place you have.." she said nervously. "...but... why?" "Just have a look around, tell me if you see a pattern." Vathelan gave a small smile. In the corner was a suit of Blood Knight armor, much like the man in the posters. There were action figures on one of his bookshelves of the three masters. The books were lined with history of the Quel'dorei, of House Visca, Arcane theories. "I can give you a tour that leads deeper into the other rooms, if you so wish." Cat looked around again, her eyes settling on the posters, the armor, the action figures.. suddenly, it clicked. "...oh. Oh! Oh, I'm sorry!" She put up her hands defensively. "I had no idea! I promise you, I was not checking out your husband!" "W-W-WHAT?!" The Magister, not known to raise his voice, strangled upon his words as he went the fiercest shade of scarlet. "No! The Lord-General is not-- I'm not-- the Lord-General looks down upon homosexuality! It is a deviation from our duty as a people! I'm just...No. He is not my husband. He has a widow and a son! I just... I look up to him, is all." He nods with a bit too much exaggeration. Cat blinked at the sudden outburst, frowning as Vath went on about the window and the son. "Uh... if you say so, sir... I mean, it just kinda looked like... look," she lowered her voice. "You'll keep my secrets, I'll keep yours. If you and this guy have a thing, I won't tell anybody. I'm not one to stand in the way of true love. Just like... can you promise you won't tell the Scryers? I'm sure he'll be happy to see his boyfriend, but they're another story." "I am not his..." Vathelan is still clearly flustered by this notion. "I just-- of course I will not tell them. I brought you here so you could see that I am his ally. If we are to win this war, he would be exponentially beneficial to this. Especially if we can get him into an optimal position." "Right, right. Optimal position." Cat winked, clearly more at ease than before. "He mentioned Suramar, but didn't say where. He said... the sun sets over Suramar? That's all I got." "Huh. That actually... would make a lot of sense." Vathelan tried his hardest to ignore what he was sure she was trying to insinuate, though he wasn't quite sure how. "Elven people, the excess mana might block out attempts to track him, and they are amidst a revolution. Insurgencies seem to be something he has gotten quite adept at." Cat shrugged. "I guess he figured he'd be left alone there. I didn't want to betray his trust, is all. He was scary, but he felt he was helping me. I guess he didn't realize I was there by choice." "I... doubt that, actually. Knowing Lord-General Visca, he's likely planning something. So the question is, do you want to help him?" "Of course," she answered quickly. "I feel like I owe the guy, but, how could I possibly help him?" "We won't know until we talk to him. But I am sure he's going to be in need of allies and a strong support network for whatever it is he's trying to do." Cat nodded and shrugged. "Then I'm happy to do what I can, I guess. Just let me know. Or... I guess I could come with you? If you want, sir? Might be a better idea since I'm the one he told this to." "It may be best you go alone..." He looked towards the door of his apartment. "I fear I may have to watch my step, if I am to be any use to him." "Alone?" She followed the direction of his eyes, then looked quickly back at him. "Is something going on, sir? Are you okay? If you need help, I can help you too you know." "They're looking for him, Miss Cat." He frowns as he removes his glasses to give them a slight clean. "And thanks to my obvious admiration of him, they're likely to watch me. I can help him better if I play my part of the Scryer." "That makes sense, then.." she mumbled. "...but you don't think they're watching me, too? I mean, I'm a test subject. I escaped with him. Wouldn't they be keeping tabs on me?" "You're harder to follow. But you have a point..." Vathelan considers this a moment. "We will have to get you a disguise." Cat blinked, processing this idea. She looked over herself and then back at Vathelan. "Uh... okay. I guess I could do that." "And I can give them some misinformation to direct them elsewhere." He sighs, another mark they'll add to his likely court martial that will be waiting for him at the end of all this. One of many he was sure. "What kind of disguise? Like, a magic one?" Cat asked as she once again started to wander the apartment, taking in the posters and fandom adorning Vathelan's walls. She paused in front of one poster that depicted Cerryan prominently. "If we can do so, that would be preferable, yes. I will have to see what I can pull together for you." His eyes followed where she moved. "Sir.. have you heard from Cerryan, recently?" Cat asked quietly, concern obvious in her face. "I've been thinking.. he's been gone a while, and... Light's Hope happened just before he stopped coming to the hall. It was crazy in there, you know? There were so many paladins and death knights, and... you couldn't tell who was who. Just flashes of light, and blood, and the risen dead. I hope... he wasn't there." "No. Last time I saw him was at a Sanctuary meeting where he assured me that I would not be fighting for this alliance alone." He shook his head, sounding oddly bitter. "Since then I have been assaulted, told it was my fault and then my attacker's brother tried to kill us all. Was imprisoned and then promptly freed. He abandoned me. Again. Probably still on a vacation with that... Woman." Cat winced as she heard the anger in his voice, something she realized she didn't often hear from the magister. Clearing her throat uncomfortably, she pursed her lips and looked back at the poster. "I don't.. I don't really see him as the vacationing type. Not in this climate, anyway. He's more of the workaholic type. Kinda like you, sir, except with a sword. That's why I'm worried. They... we killed people at Light's Hope. It was bad, sir. That's why I came to you, you know? It sort of made me realize that it would be worth the risk of defecting from the Ebon Blade." "You would think so. I did, and yet this isn't the first time I have been left behind to do everything," but the Magister listened. His voice shifted from the odd bitterness, back to a tone of concern. "...That sounds ominous, however, I will do some research and some poking in that regard." Cat nodded, still looking at the poster. "Don't be too hard on him, sir. Sometimes it's hard not to let someone you love kinda.. take over the way you think, and shift your priorities." She turned to smile at him reassuringly. "I'm sure you know what that feels like, seeing how much you love Draco. He seems to guide your every move." "...I told you. It's not like that." He grumbled as he turned his back to get a mug from one of his cabinets. "It's not?" She followed him into the kitchen, watching as he worked. "I mean.. no offense, but it seems like you're holding a torch. Even if you're not romantically involved. I get the appeal, I used to worship guys like this too. I still do, but.. you know. In a different way. It's okay to be in love with something, even if it's just an ideal." “I have my reasons.” He looked back at the living death knight, “Are you sure you don’t want anything to drink?” Cat turned to look at Vathelan. He seemed to be looking for a distraction. "...sure." The Magister picked up another mug and started to gather the supplies to make two of his artisan coffees. “My point is, I was not always looking to save the world. They changed my mind.” "I can understand that. Love doesn’t just mean romance, yanno. It also means... respect. Admiration. When you believe in someone so much that it changes you." Cat chewed on her lip. "I've seen it happen. It's nothing to be ashamed of." “For most, I suppose.” His tone is flat; his face speaks a different tune. He measures out the coffee beans. “There are reasons I haven’t had friends most of my life, Miss Cat. Emotions make things…. Quite messy, I am afraid, in my profession. And leverage is a liability.” "You're not a robot, sir. Emotions make things messy, that doesn't mean you don't have them." She glanced again at the poster of Cerryan. "...even the weird ones... when... was that poster made, sir?" “It is true, I am only Elven.” He started to grind up the beans in the mortar and pestle as he looked over at the poster she was viewing. “That particular one? It was printed and in use during our Pandaren Campaign, but you can see the likeness portrayed is from the Civil War era as seen by his armor.” "Civil War?" Cat repeated, looking carefully at the picture. “Yes, the very reason the formation of the Scryers even occurred. Do you know the tale?” Cat shook her head. "I know about the war in Outland, and the Kael'thas, and all that... I assume there's more to it than what I was told. I was in training during that time. I wasn't old enough to start fighting until just before the campaign in Northrend. " "Then you know the basics. I do wish... I could have been there, when it all started. To see history being written before me." Cat shrugged, looking over the poster, as if some wheels were turning in her head. "I just wish I'd been a better knight. Like Cerryan. He was the last person I saw before I died, I remember wanting to be strong like he was. I remember meeting him the night before I died, and..." she squinted and shook her head. "...and my memory... still a little fuzzy.." "A bit irresponsible, but a good role model to have." He paused. "He was there the night you died?" Cat put a hand to her forehead. "Well... I met him the night before I died. In a bar. I remember we talked a lot, and he was really nice. He walked me home, and..." She frowned for a moment. "...I don't exactly remember... anyway, he was on the battlefield with me and my squad when we got overrun by Scourge. I remember seeing him when I was hit. His was the last face I saw." "Was he relieved to see you once more?" Vathelan set the ground coffee into the two filters. "I understand that feeling of awe far too well..." "Well... he seemed... I don't know. I'm not sure happy is a good word for it. Maybe... surprised? I guess it's surprising to see the dead come back, isn't it?" "...Probably why the Lord-General deemed it wise to let them keep thinking he was dead, even if I were cleared to tell them." "Them?" Cat looked over the action figures. "Is there someone he doesn't want knowing he's alive?" "He has specifically ordered me to not to tell his family of his return. Not that I could anyways. Given the secrecy of the project. " "You mean his wife and kid?" She frowned at the idea. "That's so sad.. if this happened to me, and nobody told Kreyen, I'd be so mad. I mean, I get it, I guess, but... still that's pretty sad." "His wife left him before he died, took his unborn son with her. I suppose there may be some bitterness there. But... no. This includes the other two Masters of the Order of Eversong. Lord Cerryan and Lord-General Rayfeather." "Includes them as in, they don't know he's back either?" "Correct. Outside of the Director and those whom worked on the Project, yourself and Lady Bloodstone are the only ones who know. " "Oh... well... I mean I don't know the guy, I won't tell anyone... didn't know he had a kid, though. Do you want kids, sir? I know that's a whole thing with the Scryers, making more elves and all. Seems like it's on everyone's mind, lately." "Good. It's highly classified information." He didn't bother to elaborate on the past of the former Lord-General as he conjured water into a pot for them. "We are dedicated to the preservation and defense of the Sin'dorei. Ensuring the creation of the next generation is part of this. As for me... it would be my duty, but that requires myself to become a bit less of a pariah." "It would require you to date," Cat suggested. "And actually want to have kids. I mean, it's not enough to just knock up some lady. You'd actually have to do all the dad stuff, too." "Which again, requires me not to be seen as some sort of abomination in social circles. I have heard what has been said about me over the years," He gives a small shrug as he sets the pot upon the stove and took a wand to light the fire underneath it. "I pity anyone who has me as their father, should they gain the same taint on their name as I have." "I think that's a little harsh, sir. I haven't heard anyone say anything bad about you, and you've been fine to me so far. Actually, the only person I've heard say anything mean about you is... you?" "You haven't talked to the Commander or her entourage then." Cat shrugged. "I guess not, but why bother looking for trouble? If you have friends, don't worry about what other people say. I mean, I'm a death knight. Do you know how many people hate me? But so long as Kreyen loves me, I don't mind it so much." The Magister laughs at the comment. He cannot help it. It's a bitter, depressing laughter. Cat's face paled at his laughter. She lowered her eyes to the floor. "...I mean... it's something. I guess." "...My apologies. I laugh because I know the truth, I am unlovable. I am and always will be a pariah. No matter what I do. No matter my intent. I am only worth what I can provide. And under the Commander's leadership, whatever her given reason, I am worth Nothing until the Accords she required drafted are signed." Cat raised her eyebrows and folded her arms. "You know, if you keep telling yourself you're unlovable, eventually you will be. Didn't anyone ever tell you that you have control over your own destiny? For all the work you put into making the world a better place, why didn't you think to work on yourself too?" "It's not what I have told myself, it is a well established pattern. I am either useless or a pawn in someone's game." He sighs, "But that will not matter. I am not likely to survive this war. Even if we succeed, I will be court martialed." He heard a frim knock at the door, his brow raised before slowly going to approach the door. Cat frowned and followed Vathelan as he went to the door. Before he had a chance to open it, she gave him a firm hug from behind. "You quit beating yourself up, sir. You're plenty lovable, and don't let anyone tell you different." Another knock, through lighter this time due to hearing folks inside. The Magister froze at the embrace, unsure what to say or how to react to the physical contact. "... I am sure your betrothed would say otherwise, Miss Cat." He sighed before looking through the scrying glass to see whom the new visitor was. Kirital stands in a winter jacket of thick material and lined with fur. Underneath is a thin shirt and below are his usual slacks and waist-wrap. He's holding up a bag of what looks like food with the other hidden in his jacket pocket. A big, goofy smile greets Vath as he peers through. Cat peeked over Vathelan's shoulder to see Kirital, grinning when she noticed the food. "Kirital, what are you doing here? Vath was just about to make furious love to me, wanna join us?" Kirital kind of just stands there, perplexed. Did he hear that right? Is Cat really in there? "If I'm uh, interrupting, I can come back later?" Vathelan went scarlet once more as he opened the door. "...Er... what?" His voice meek in embarrassment. Cat laughed and poked Vathelan's side. "I'm kidding! He was showing me his collection. Are you guys having a dinner date?" "Nah," Kirital shrugs. "Baern assigned me to be his bodyguard, so I figure I'd grab some food to fight against hunger." His smile is full of mirth, especially at the joke he didn't exactly say no to. "So, haven't seen you in awhile, Cat." Glancing from her to Vath, he asks "She's doing work for you, right?" The poke at his side made him clench slightly, still unused to physical touch. His face still bright red. “…Thank you Kirital. I am sorry for leaving my office without leaving you word.” His gaze led back to the woman behind him as well. “Yes. She is working on a special project of mine.” Cat winked at Kirital. "Super special, top secret. He was just making coffee and telling me about the guys on his wall. You two want I should leave you alone?" Kirital looks toward Vath to answer that. "I do have enough food here for four people, but it's up to you, Vathelan." “Please, Miss Cat, you are welcome to stay as long as you wish.” He gives a small smile as he moves out of the way for Kirital to have access to the apartment. Cat shrugged and moved back into the apartment, giving Kirital room to walk behind her as she went toward the kitchen. "Well I'm not about to say no to free food.. whatcha get, Kir?" Kirital moves to the main dining table, admiring the Cerry-phanelia as he goes. The food is arranged in order from mild to hot for spiciness and each in a clearly labeled container. Kirital's stomach growls through the process of displaying the food. "So I'm unfamiliar with Arakkoan food, so I got a little of everything?" He leans his hip against the table corner and crosses his arms. "So Vathelan, I guess pick your favorite then Cat, then I'll just eat the rest." "It's all quite good. And I would be a horrible host if I were to refuse you any of Riro's cooking. Why don't we do what I did last time?" Cat looked between the two men. "What did you do last time?" A slow smirk spread to Kirital's face. "Oh yeah? Sounds like a good idea." Kirital looks around the apartment, "So did you need anything done here, Vathelan?" His hands rest on his waist and he looks at Vath with an arched brow. Vathelan moved to gather three plates and bowls, and the appropriate silverware. “I did not expect you to be visiting, so would you do me the honor of making the portions? I have to get these coffees made for my two guests.” Cat blinked, still confused. "Wait, what did.. never mind, do you need help making coffee, sir? I feel kinda useless between the two of you." "I could teach you if you wish?" "That... actually is probably a good idea." She walked behind Vath, just close enough to watch him. "I'm gonna get married, I should probably learn how to make coffee." Vathelan takes out another mug, "Then we shall start from the beginning while I finish this batch for the two of you." "Sure yeah." Kirital remembers where Vath retrieved the plates during his first visit. Preparing the table, he rather obviously eyes up Vathelan. He knows how dense the Mage can be, so he doesn't bother hiding it. Cat glances back at Kirital and catches him eyeing Vath. She looks between the two men and smiles to herself. "Seems pretty labor intensive for coffee.. do you do this every day?" She asks while nodding toward the mortar and pestle. "Seems like it could get a little tiring." "This guard thing is maybe three days old now?" Kirital shrugs as he retrieves utensils. "I'm just glad do get to know another Elf." There's a downcast tone to his voice, as if this is something he's wanted for a while. “The artisan skill gives such flavor.” He retorts with a small smile as he sets the filters into their cups and pours the boiling water into them. The aroma alone would give the enticing hint as to why he does so. It seems Vathelan is wholly focused on teaching the younger woman how to make coffee, unaware of the half-elf looking at him. “We’ll let that wait, allow the flavor to seep in like one would expect for tea. So… step one, is simple. You take a measuring cup and fill it like so…” He moves behind the woman, gently moving her in the appropriate motions. He wasn’t sure if she was a visual, auditory or kinetic learner… may as well do all three at the same time for maximum efficiency. Cat's eyebrows raised as Vathelan put his hands on her. This was unusual for someone who was uncomfortable with hugs, but she didn't stop him and allowed the magister to guide her physically. She tried to pay more attention to his instruction than their proximity and focused on the task at hand. "Oh.. yeah, it's not so hard I guess.." Kirital is surprised. Vathelan totally made a move on Cat. Standing behind her, moving her hands...thoughts of him asserting such initiative onto him clouds his thoughts enough to drop his forks. The clatter snaps him out of his trance. "Woah hey, my bad!" He recovers and retrieves them. “So, you may have noticed the seemingly excess amount of beans you have in this measuring cup compared to the final product.” His voice is calm, collected—an odd contrast to how he is normally to those in such close proximity to him—“This is because, a significant portion of this mass is lost in the transition from bean to pow—” The clatter draws the Magister’s attention as well, his brow raised as he looked at his other guest. “…Der. Kirital, are you okay?” Cat turned to look at Kirital. With Vathelan behind her, and his arms over hers, it was a compromising position indeed. She smirked at the half-elf and winked. "I uh." Kirital looks at the weird arrangement of the plates and utensils. "I need some air." He looks feverish and rubs the back of his head as he heads to the front door. Stepping outside, he gently closes it to a slim crack. Cat blinked and looked down at Vathelan's hands. In an attempt to not make things awkward for the Magister, she cleared her throat. "Um.. I think maybe the spicy food got in the air. Maybe he's got sensitive eyes." Kirital rests against the outside wall. For his assignment, he scene the area with a subtle sweep if his attention. No one seems to pay him or this location any kind, even in the far distance of upper shattrath above. In a way it helps him relax. Placing his hands behind him, he closes his eyes and thinks. “I’m sure he’ll be fine.” The Magister says in a matter-of-fact voice. “Next we grind the beans, are you understanding this so far?” "Uh... yeah. Totally." She watched as his hand covered hers. Despite the magister's demure persona, he was still male, and his hands were significantly larger than hers. Cat cleared her throat, blushing. "I still can't believe you go through this every day. Must be worth it." “It has a sort of therapeutic quality to it, and much more preferable than making one’s own ink.” He gave a small warm smile as he took her hands, manipulating them as required to start the grinding process of the beans. “We are looking to a medium to fine quality of a grind for this particular technique. If you wanted to add something special to your brew, this would be the time to do so. But I do not entertain company enough, nor do I stay within my apartment for the extended periods of time to make the investment in such things worthwhile.” Cat cleared her throat, watching his hands guide her more than the process itself. She was a little stiff in front of him, unused to this kind of attention from the typically hands-off Vathelan. "...uhm... add something like what?" She asked curiously, her hands very warm under his. She wondered idly where Kirital had gone, and hoped he'd be back soon.
  3. Cat walked up the stairs toward Vathelan's office, surveying the damaged hall with awe. "Holy moly.. the hell happened here?" She said to herself. The death knight wore black armor, stained here and there with specks of fresh blood. She knocked on the office door. "Sir?" "Come in." A tired voice called from the door. Cat walked in and shut the door behind her. "Sir!" She practically yelled. I have so many things to tell you!" Frostwhisper looked up from a pile of paperwork, only smiling-- If only ever so slightly-- when he saw his visitor. "I would hope so. And... I am glad you have returned, I was afraid I would have to track you down. " He snaps his fingers, his mana feeding his wards once again. "Of course I came back, I was worried at first but I guess they didn't think it was worth hunting me down.. you know what happened, right?? That guy they were feeding me from went ballistic! He broke us both out and ran off!" "...Do you know who he is?" His eyes told he very much did, as he stared into hers. Cat blinked, caught off guard. She shook her head. "No. He was this big guy, like really big. Everywhere. We had to escape naked, so believe me, I won't forget that anytime soon.. who is he?" "Please, have a seat." The Magister spoke calmly as he started to mess with his Glass Scroll. "I must remind you that our conversations as Classified." "Sure sure.." she sat down and fidgeted in her seat. "I came back here to talk to you before, but you were gone. Then I went to my room and someone had been in there, looking through my stuff.. oh, don't worry, I didn't write down anything about my missions or anything like that, but, it spooked me so Kreyen and I went somewhere to celebrate Winterveil and.. oh yeah, he said he saw you, when I was running around with naked guy! I'm sorry if he got upset with you, he was worried about me.. and oh yeah! Guess what?? We're engaged! Isn't that crazy??" The Magister flipped the Glass Scroll so that Cat could read the article. The headline read 'Lord-General Visca, decorated war hero of the Order of Eversong killed in action during the Liberation of Orgrimmar' the picture would be of the same elf, in full blood knight armor with a Shattered Sun Offensive shield raised high. "Was this him?" Cat raised her eyebrows in surprise. "..woah. yeah, that's the guy. He was a Blood Knight? I didn't know.. but.. it says he died?" She looked confused. "Is he like me, then?" "He was a personal hero of mine. And the reason I pushed for the formation of the Shattered Son Project. We tried to heal him... but..." "But he's fine," Cat said quickly. "Better than fine, he was running around fighting like a pro. Believe me, that's not easy to do when you're naked, but he did it." "Because of what we did to him." Vathelan speaks quietly. The death knight cocked her head. "Whadid you do?" "Fleshcrafting, Necromancy, Augmentations, among other things. I am not... proud, that I helped set this in motion." He sighs. "But... he was our best bet for the Legion. And we knew it was only a matter of time...." Cat leaned forward in her chair. "But they put his blood in me. They used my axe on him. What does that mean??" "Ideally it will permanently alter you into a more favorable state, no?" "Well sure, but these changes.. I mean, I'm pretty much alive again, aren't I? A few days after I got back, I had this massive period, it was seriously like my uterus just decided to explode! Is that normal??" "I... wouldn't know?" "Well, what about the rest of it? It's like, I heard them talking about how they wanted me to reproduce, but now it's like all I can think about is boning and killing, is that part of it too? Does that Draco guy feel the same way? I'm pretty sure I caught him with a crazy awkward boner, but running can do that sometimes." "I... wait. What? He was..." He thinks on this a moment with a 'Huh'. "...I thought that theory may have been a bit far fetched." "Which? About the boners? Seriously, it was not comfortable running naked with him like that. I'm pretty sure he could knock someone out with that thing." "The concept of fertility, this is... amazing." Vathelan tapped his finger upon his chin. He was torn between the description and the implications. "So does that mean I can have kids, then? And if that's the case... if I did, what would it mean for them? Would.. the Scryers wanna study them or something? Would they come out like me, or Draco?" "This... is new ground. I cannot say for certain what is possible and what is not. While I am sure such a phenomenon would be something worth study them, we also would want what is best for the next generation." "So what do they want from me, now? I wasn't planning on escaping or anything, but that Draco guy was kind of... hard to say no to? I followed him, and they said to use lethal force and I panicked. So far, nobody's come after me? So what do I do, now?" "Well... we have a few options." "What... kind of options?" "They're after him. Did he... give you a way to find him?" Cat frowned. "..sorta, but.. he kinda.. I mean, he trusted me not to tell the Scryers. You're one of them, sir." "I am also probably his best resource. He could use us... if we wish to lend aide, of course. " Cat looked down uncertainty. "...I don't know, sir.. seems kinda wrong of me to betray his trust.. don't you think?" "You're not. Actually.... come. A visual representation will prove more useful." The Magister stood from his desk and started to head for the door. Cat stood and followed Vathelan. "If you say so...."
  4. From the sweet oblivion of a much required rest, a vain attempt to forget what had transpired that night came the sudden rancid odor that brought him back to reality. An involuntary cough sent the sharp pains like daggers through his chest once more, he gasped for air as he tried not to scream from the agony of his wounds—only to force more of that horrible smell of herb into him. His eyes would shoot open, looking for the source, only to find a set of glowing green lights staring back at him. “Awake at last,” the baritone voice mocked from above him. “I was beginning to get impatient.” He must have dozed off, and judging by the pain in his ribs, it was unlikely a medical professional—this ‘Josie’—had yet to see him. The young man blinked his eyes, trying to get them to focus. Slowly, thanks to his glasses still being firmly upon his face, the dark room slowly began to pain its portrait in shades of dark grays, blues and blacks. All of which had the same fel-green glow providing what minor illumination from each set of their eyes. The first thing he would notice was how the light bounced off the intruder’s facial structure. His features looked as if they had been soft once upon a time, but weathered by some sort of constant strain. He was bald. A very strange thing for an elf. “Are we not speaking?” The bald man smirked, “The Director said that we would have to ensure that your silence was guaranteed, it seems you’ve already learned your lesson.” The stench, he tried to place it. His mind started working through its catalogues… Bloodthistle, there was a case regarding that while he was under apprenticeship of Magister Arcalos. Why was Raeventus employing Thistleheads? His eyes tried to look for more clues in the dark. The outline of his robes, was he another Inquisitor sent to torment him? He held something in his hand, something of lighter color. Looked like cloth. A towel? “Heh. Either way, I was sent to bring you a gift.” The thistlehead moved to take something out of a bag. A bottle about the size of a foot in height, maybe five inches across? Within it the liquid had a faint glow as it swirled within its container. “We thought you may need it after your hard day today.” Frostwhisper’s eyes followed the movement of the bottle, trying to use its faint light to gain more details. His fingers were long, spindly. The additional light seemed to confirm his fears of the man’s occupation. His robes fit the uniform of the Inquisition. Even now he could feel the shiver down his spine, as his mind pieced together the implications of their work. He also noticed that the robes seemed a little too tight on him compared to his experiences with Dawn. The cloth he had seen earlier proved to be a reddish color, seemingly still damp. He’d raise an eyebrow before finally speaking, “…What is it?” “Oh, so you do speak. Good. It was getting boring talking to myself, like speaking to a wall.” He lifted the bottle, “Isn’t it obvious?” The Magister gave a quick shake of his head. The low light made it hard to make out many of the details, his inquiring mind trying to figure out how long the man had been here. What the intruder could have done to him while he slumbered. “It’s alcohol. Something special we have been cooking up.” “I don’t drink.” “Well then, in case you decide to. We feel we may have gotten off on the wrong foot.” The Inquisitor began to rise from his seat upon the bed. The glow from his eyes hardly moved from the same height they were previous. This would make him short. Not only that, it would mean his body was disproportionate. His torso must be bigger than his legs. Something for him to file away for future use. Still, Vathelan Frostwhisper said nothing, deciding that potentially provoking his intruder was likely the worst move to make. “But I have delivered my message and you a clearly exhausted and in need of medical attention from your heroic defense of this fair city… something our allies, the Sunreavers, can use as a foothold back into the city. I will leave you to your swift recovery, we have much to do.” The Magister said nothing, only watching as he awaited the intruder to at long last leave him be. And still so many questions nagged at the back of his head. This was only accentuated as the short, bald man who smelled of Bloodthistle stood at the door, his fel-green eyes moving to look back at him. “If you ever need anything, Magister Frostwhisper, know we have eyes and ears everywhere. We’ll be waiting.” “I-I understand, Inquisitor.” “Good.” The voice sounded amused as the shorter man opened the door, allowing the light from outside to pour in for just a moment—revealing the Stern Faced Sun upon the bottle of alcohol before once again being almost entirely consumed by the darkness. “Rest well, Magister Frostwhisper. You have a lot of work to do.” Vathelean Frostwhisper would not get a chance to respond, the room once more dark as the door once again was locked into place. Despite the advice, the young magister would find no more rest for that evening, only able to allow his ever increasing exhaustion to claim him once the sun had once again risen to banish away the horrors of that night and allowing those below to better keep watch.
  5. …And within the very next moment, the famous floating city blinked right back into existence. In nothing more than a couple beats of the heart, the entire city had teleported leagues upon leagues away. From the southern reaches of the Eastern Kingdoms to a set of islands so far north that they neighbored the roof of the world, the spell had worked. As with any normal teleportation spell, the world would slightly displace to accept the new occupant of that particular space—the problem was with such a large target, the astronomical amount of variables that could go wrong in such calculation for such a spell made the likeliness of perfection a delusion. Anyone who was close to Khadgar during the conception of this plan had the slightest warning before they had attempted such a feat. It was a horribly dangerous plan, the amount of things that could go wrong… well; just pray it wouldn’t be of your concern. And had Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper known, perhaps he would have simply been thankful that the consequences of such a thing weren’t more dire for him. To keep moving, the dulled pain from his frost and the exhaustion threatening to claim him at any moment, he had come to lean on the wall for support. And in the move, between the energy making things slightly incorporeal for ease of transfer and a fraction of an unaccounted for variable in the spell—the shoulder of his robe’s cloth had fused with the wall. Something Vathelan was not aware of until he took his next step. The resulting pain that wrecked through him thanks to his ribs from the way his Scryer uniform gripped at him would be as if an ogre had decided to give one a bear hug. The young magister opened his mouth to give an involuntarily soundless scream, not even his frost magic had the power to numb it enough. The pain was so overwhelming; it threatened to send him into shock. His framed eyes looked, longingly so, at the door to the Ledgermain Lounge that was not more than just a few feet from him now. He thoughtlessly formed a shard of ice within his hand, coalescing the humidity around them until he had enough to create it, focusing his small concentration on making the edge facing away from him as sharp as he possibly could. The result would be an improvised knife made out of nothing but ice, one of which he would use to start trying to slice away at the cloth… each movement rewarding him a sharp agony, that built further upon what already threatened him sending him closer and closer to the verge of shock. The makeshift blade would continue its sloppy but relentless assault until the threads of the Scryer uniform’s shoulder finally gave way—never had he been so frustrated with such fine tailoring! But, as it seemed this night would go, it came with a cost. An instant after the flushing victory of freedom, came the biting frost of the shard and the warmth of his blood that flowed from the resulting injury. The heat of the blood ate away at the edged ice almost as if acid, but that didn’t really matter as he tossed the shard onto the ground as this time he was verbal in his grunting pain. With his now free hand it was all he could do to grip at his shoulder, feeling the heat of the blood—almost like magma upon his chilled skin-- as he stumbled the last bit towards the door of inn. The momentum and lack of ability to function fully would result in a loud thud on the door of the Lounge’s door. One, to his luck, they answered. Vathlean could hear the grinding of wood against the door before it opened, his ear so close to the entrance as he lay upon their steps. His breathing was ragged and despite his efforts, he could feel his life fluids draining from him upon the stone. As such he was thankful when the door opened, and he heard in his native tongue, “What the Fel happened to you?” The young Magister was being lifted up to his feet, his mind racing as he tried to find the best way to explain what happened without breaking his non-disclosure agreement. He couldn’t be sure this man wasn’t a spy for Raeventus… or—his heart sank when he was at eye level. Those blue eyes filled the young man with so much distrust, even more so than the Director did. He knew what they were responsible for, what he himself narrowly escaped. Perhaps more than the man did himself, considering he saw the aftermath. Even still, he knew how horrible an idea it was to spit in the face of a man who could be his potential rescuer. So instead he came up with a lie that seemed wholly reasonable, “…Demons?” “They really messed you up!” The Quel’dorei looked over the man again before taking Vath’s arm and throwing it over his shoulder and dragged him inside. “You’re one of those Heroes then? That helped save this city before The Six cast that spell? Anything we can do to help you? You really look like hell.” “…Need room… and medic….” Vathelan wheezed in pain, the frost spell quickly wearing off. If the Quel’dorei thought he was some sort of hero that saved the city, and if it got him a chance to rest and get medical attention, Vathelan would be a fool to correct him, even if the magister planned on paying for such regardless. “Of course! Of course!” The man looked over to the woman checking their inventory, the chaos seeming to be something a bit more manageable now. “Amisi! Key to Room Six, and then go get Josie. This man needs medical attention.” The human female raised a brow at the two male elves for a moment before nodding, pulling a key off the rack behind her and handing it off to the Quel’dorei. She gave him a quick peck on the cheek before running off. The High Elf male took the key before leading the perceived hero up the stairs, careful with each step as he was wary of the haggard breathing from the man. “I’ll admit… had my doubts about letting you guys back in after that whole fiasco… but… you guys still rushed to our aid, can’t help but wonder if Proudmoore was wrong….” “She… was.” The Magister managed to speak. “I was once… in the Sun—Arg!” A misstep forced a wave of anguish to rip through him again, leading to the Quel’dorei to apologize in rapid succession before trying to coax him to continue up the stars. They would move even slower up the stairs, his breathing becoming more labored. “I… can’t. I don’t know… if I can.” “If you can fight the Legion a few stairs are nothing!” The Magister’s face twisted in what luckily was mistaken as physical pain rather than the conflict of lying to this man who was being so kind to him. “…How close?” “We’re almost there. A few more steps, you can do it Mister…?” “Frost… whisper.” The Magister breathed out. “Magist…er… Vath…elan… Frost… whisper….” At last the dreaded stairs were over. Now came the trial of the hall, littered with items from the rapid departure of Dalaran from above Karazhan. Though, in comparison, this was much easier. “We’re almost there, Magister Frostwhisper. As you were saying?” The Magister thought for a moment, trying to remember their conversation. Then it struck him. “I was… a Sunreaver…” “…I’m sorry for your loss then, Mister Frostwhisper.” The barkeep’s voice went solemn as he remembered that day, and the violence he read about in the papers that erupted from the former leader of the Kirin Tor and the leader of the Silver Covenant’s decision to purge the city of them. “Magi…ster. Magist…er… Frost… whisper.” Vathelan corrected, beaten as he was, he tried to hold on to what little dignity he had left. “My apologies, Magister Frostwhisper.” The barkeep accepted the correction as he shifted the man’s weight as to better access the door to Room Six. His movements were gentle, careful not to cause the man any more pain as he guided him towards the bed. “Rest well, Magister.”
  6. Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper, in these final moments of awe before a legend in the flesh, had come to forget where he was. Despite their rocky reintroduction, he knew he would come to cherish this memory… the greatest man he would ever know, bared raw before him in his rebirth, something he had taken no small part in. He smiled a grin most genuine, one that rivaled when someone so wonderful had agreed to take him up upon an offer to get to know him better… …But such moments would prove fleeting. And somber reality once again took hold as soon as the blast door once again, separating the young man from his idol. It happened so fast. In a flurry he would find the world around him enveloped in darkness. He found himself falling. A metallic fist slammed into his cheek bone. A boot greeted his chest. And his wrists were once again cuffed. “What the fuck was that, Frostwhisper?” That dreaded voice once again filled his right ear, “What was my command?” From the bag over his head he could give a sharp cough before answering. “Which?” He would be rewarded another sharp kick to the chest. Vathelan was sure he felt something crack this time. That wasn’t good. “He was to understand his new place in the Hierarchy, Frostwhisper. He died. The man legally has no rights, he is Scryer Property now. Our property. And to lead him on these delusions of grandeur? That, Frostwhisper, is cruel.” Vathelan had learned his lesson, it seemed, for he did not speak a word. He only coughed, hoping that blood would not come up with it. He felt them lift him up, one set of arms upon each side of him. He would not fight it. He had hit his limit today; he wanted the suffering to end… preferably with his life still intact. “ It seems you are learning. Good. I do hate repeating myself over what should be painfully obvious: So I expect to only have to tell you this once. Do you understand?” Vathelan would hesitantly groan some sort of acknowledgement that he heard him. “Excellent. To be thorough, let us begin with a review: Project Shattered Son and anything related to him or the resources used are Classified. Well beyond your clearance level, to leak such information to Anyone would be considered Treason. Do you remember what happens to traitors, Frostwhisper?” “…Reeducation.” Vathelan spoke through the pain, he was being dragged elsewhere in the Complex. To where, he couldn’t be sure. He took another breath and continued. “Lord-General Visca deemed that our population as a species was far too few to justify conventional methods of Capital Punishment…” “Correct, we prefer the method of Reeducation. But Lord-General Visca is dead; I am in control now—” “Rayfeather…” “Irrelevant. In time, he too, shall be brought in line. But I digress… We are speaking of what happens should you violate your Non-Disclosure Agreement: I will ensure that before you are killed, one way or another, that you will Suffer for your Treason against the Scryers. Where you have treaded, death will follow. I will burn down the entirety of House Visca: His wife, son, brothers and niece… all of them will pay for your trespass. I will erase Sanctuary from existence. I will bomb Dalaran out of the sky, I will return their last bastion of hope in Orgrimmar back to the ashes from whence it raised from. I will imprison your little friend… the Arath’dorei girl, she will learn the truth of you, she will learn why she will be brought to her fate was because you couldn’t keep your mouth shut. And then you will Beg me to end your life, what I will do to you once I am done will become a merciful killing, have I made myself clear?” “Please… no…” “Have I Made Myself Clear?” Vathelan was silent for a moment; he wondered how much of this was possible. The horrors that Raeventus spoke of played through his mind… and he quickly decided that he had no desire to test his luck, to tempt the man to try any of these things. “…I-I understand Director.” “Then perhaps you are not wholly hopeless after all.” Vathelan could swear he could hear that smug smirk on his face from his tone, which shifted almost without warning. “Now that we have sorted out that unpleasant matter, we can focus on the business at hand. I am sure you are wondering where my men are taking you.” Vathelan did not respond, instead he took the couple of seconds allotted for a response to try to alleviate himself from the taunting within his ear. Having everything you care about threatened as if were nothing was quite unwell for the psyche. And he didn’t want to get an Evaluation and accidentally slip on what he knew… resulting in such threats being a reality. “We have had reports that your Subject is on the move, and we have yet to receive your Tactical Analysis Report on them. The Seer still desires to know if they will be a boon or a hindrance to our cause. Either way, we must make preparations… preparations we need that intelligence for.” “Wait…” Almost on cue, they stopped dragging him along the ground. The shackles would be unlocked and they would begin to raise him to his feet. “…That doesn’t explain where I’m going?” “Dalaran.” Rather than hearing the smug voice of Magister Raeventus in his ear, the voice reverberated from behind him. The hood they had put upon his face was ripped off and a foot was set to his back and kicked him forward. Before Vathelan could ask any more questions, the bright lights of the Translocator would fire and the scenery before him changed from the frosty installation, to the worn torn streets of a city usually so full of wonder. Mana seemed to be coalescing towards the centre of the city. Magister Froswhisper began to try to navigate the city that had turned into a battlefield for safety, his breathing haggard from the pain in his chest. “CITIZENS OF AZEROTH.” A famous voice bellowed, one of Archmage Khadgar… a notable one time denizen of Shattrath. “TODAY IS THE DAY WE TURN THE TIDE.” Intelligence reports had made mention of his return of the Kirin Tor, even that he was leading it… It spelled hope for the Sunreavers, allies of the Scryers. “TODAY IS THE DAY WE RE-TAKE OUR WORLD.” Vathelan placed his hand to his chest, channeling frigid temperatures t o help alleviate the pain of his cracked ribs; he had to keep moving to find shelter. “AND SEND THE LEGION BACK TO THE HELL THAT SPAWNED THEM.” There would be a surge of energy that was released from whatever it was the Kirin Tor were doing. “OUR PATH IS CLEAR.” Vathlean began to lean on the walls for support, his eyes spotting a place of promised refuge: The Legerdemain Lounge. The flash of light would consume everything in its path, including the walls he leaned on and even himself. He was familiar with this kind of spell, though not at such a large scale… a teleportation, but to where? “THE PILLIARS OF CREATION AWAIT. ON THE BROKEN ISLES!” On the war-front, Vathlean should have known. He would have cursed his luck… but for a brief moment, all of Dalaran and its people would blink from existence…
  7. Despite the blood that coated the giant’s hands and arms, it provided no lubrication to grant Magister Frostwhisper any reprieve from the vice grip upon his throat. His own hands weakly tried to pry at the fingers that ensured his entrapment as his head swam from the sudden force into the stone wall behind him—what was starting to very likely to become his forgotten tomb if he couldn’t figure a way to calm the enraged giant before him. His eyes watered, and his lungs felt aflame from desire to cough… only for the air to be denied passage. As Vathelan tried to choke out his answer to the question, something as simple as his name, he would realize the futility of this effort. In a few moments he would pass out from lack of oxygen, and then die from strangulation… he had to think fast. The Glass Scroll! His eyes went wide for a moment in realization, darting behind the furious tower of glowing flesh before him… only to have his heartbreak as he saw that particular one had shattered in the tussle. A dead end. His brows furrowed, trying to ignore the edges of his peripherals beginning to fade. Not much time left. Very well, he had another Glass Scroll in his bag! One of his hands started to slink towards his ever trusty satchel he wore slung around his shoulder. Only for his assailant to grip his wrist as tight as he had his throat and slam it against the wall in front of him. “No.” The former Lord-General snarled. “Hands where I can see them.” That… put a dampener on that plan. The magical energies that still coursed through his attacker’s body seemed as if they threatened to burn Vathelan’s neck. Time was running out, he needed air. His next attempt out of this situation was a blink spell. He would be able to breathe and talk again; he could then explain the situation. He started to summon the mana for the spell… …Only to be rewarded with an even tighter grip on his throat, “Final Warning.” The Magister complied. Not that he really had much of a choice. His vision was starting to darken now, his panic starting to rise in spite of himself. His mind was racing for a way to explain himself in this predicament. Nothing was coming to him. “Your Name, Mage. What is it?” He tried to gasp for air, to state his name for the man… but still nothing came out. His panic starting to raise further, his eyes going to the grip at his throat. Why wouldn’t he let him speak? The Mage fruitlessly tried to pry the fingers from his neck again. Nothing happened but the continuation of soaking his gloves in blood… And then it clicked. His fingers went towards the man’s forearm that burned from Vindicator’s workings inside him. Quickly he started to scrawl with the blood: ‘F-R-O-S-T-W-H-I’… The young Magister couldn’t be certain how much or even if he had succeeded in continuing to telegraph his message upon his attacker’s arm before his he began to pass out—the effects of asphyxiation finally becoming far too much to bear. As he drifted back into consciousness, the first thing he would notice was the smell of iron permeating all around him as his body shuddered from his violent coughing… and yet his head remained pinned. He couldn’t see, something darkening his glasses… but he wouldn’t hear the voice of the man from the vial until his coughing subsided. “You are awake. Good.” The former Lord-General’s voice echoed upon itself once more. “You and I are going to play a game. I am going to ask you questions, and you are going to answer them. Be truthful, and I shall let you go. Lie to me…” His grip tightened upon the Magister’s skull. “…And I shall splatter your brains upon the wall before me. Do you understand the terms?” The mage tried his best to nod, obviously hindered from the man’s grip. In fear that it wouldn’t be enough, he spoke… the taste of metal upon his lips as he did so. “Yes, Sir.” “Very well. We shall start with my first question: What is your name?” “Vathelan Frostwhisper.” “I see you wear markings of my command. Rank and Service History.” “Magister, specifically I work as an Agent of the Scryer Asset Protection and Acquisition division. I have a Glass Scroll in my bag, allow me to bring up my file and that should certify my credentials.” “Get it.” The late Lord-General commanded. The Magister was slow in his actions to prove he wasn’t a threat. One arm was raised where it could be seen as the other gently slid into the satchel to pull out the pane of glass the size of a cover of a tome. His movements were so slow and deliberate as he did so. “I would be happy to access it, but I’m blind at the moment. May I clean my glasses?” “You may.” “Thank you, Sir.” The Mage took off the framed eyewear, and cleaned it on a spot of his robes he hoped wasn’t splattered. Though his vision was blurred without them, at least he could make out a few shapes. When he placed the glasses back on, he was well aware of the blood splatter from the vial leading to them. The Lord-general was injured, this was not good. He was also without clothes, his body’s glow starting to die down… he had a distinct lack of scarring. But such thoughts would be shattered as he was handed back the Glass Scroll. “Access it. I do not have my Emblem with me.” The Magister nodded as best as he could as he took the Scroll. “O-of course, Sir.” He gently pried off one of his cufflinks and set it to the right hand corner of the pane of glass before removing one of his gloves to use his thumbprint as a signature. With a quick few taps upon the Glass Scroll, he accessed the classified version of his own file. He then handed over the Scroll for the other man to see. For a moment, the mage was granted a reprieve from the intensity that radiated from the harsh cerulean energy from his eyes. “Nethergate…” His voice mused before the lights were upon his captor again as his lips twisted into a brief cruel grin. “Remind me, Vathelan Frostwhisper, what was your assignment upon the Nethergate base?” “I was a Data Analyst and Research Assistant as per your orders sir.” “Correct.” His lips began to fade back into the resting scowl as his eyes went back to the man’s records. His voice became less harsh, “I am glad you survived the backlash, Frostwhisper. Do you have a casualty report?” “You were the only Unacceptable Casualty. We lost an estimated eighty percent of our remaining prisoners when we had hit the last call for evacuation of the facility. Most of them Non-Quel’dorei.” “Unfortunate, but acceptable.” The grip upon the Magister’s skull started to loosen. “Were we able to halt the discharge from hitting the original target?” “Yes sir. The forces on the ground were able to apprehend Hellscream.” “Then my death was not in vain.” He relinquished his hold on the trembling mage, “What of my brothers? How did they take the news?” “…As well as can be expected Sir. Shaken, but they remained resolute in our duty to our people.” “Good. And… did you ever find my wife?” “Just recently, Sir.” He gave a small sigh, “She was… unaware of your fall in the line of duty. She has put on a brave face as she tries to carry out your Legacy, but… I have seen indicators of high amounts of stress. I believe she mourns your loss greatly.” “That was not her burden to bear any longer. She ensured that.” He spat bitterly, his back turning to the Magister at this report. So cold and dismissive, Vathelan lowered his head… his gaze noting that there were no scars on the back of his form either. But the display of physical power was elegant, years in the working… it was an art much worth appreciating as the flickering lights and shadows threatened to censor such in spite of the still faint illuminations from his primary arteries. “…Son or Daughter?” “…Pardon?” “She carried my heir to term, did she not?” His voice still resonated a bitter fury. “Did she give birth to my Son or My Daughter?” “Son, Sir.” He was quick to answer. “His name is Draco Gladius Visca Junior. He looks just like I imagine you would have, Sir.” “…Well that is something, then.” The bitterness that was so prevalent now seemed to be wholly absent. “Do they know that you brought me back?” “No sir. This was a secret military project, I do not think even the Seer knows about this.” “You have a lot to learn about our leader, it seems.” He looked back at the Magister. “But keep it that way. Better we not cause my family any more harm than we already have. But… I fear this brings my second question of origin. What have you done to me?” At this question Vathelan averted his eyes, the voice in his ear once more returning. “Well Frostwhisper, what are you going to tell him?” “As you know… you were killed in action at Nethergate.” The young Magister could feel himself trembling, both from the deathly frost that seemed to not affect his hero and the sheer terror of the news he was to deliver. How did one tell someone they were now nothing but a weapon for their people? “By the power vested in the Scryers by the Vanguard Initiative Act—“ “Stop. I understand where this is going, I wrote that Act myself. To think it would come to apply to myself…” Another short but bitter chuckle came from the giant’s throat. “…I will read about the process later, it would seem we have bigger problems. In order to utilize the Act to such an extreme, that would require a state of emergency. Tell me, Magister Frostwhisper… What threat do we face for me to require me to return?” “The Legion, Sir.” “Is that so?” Visca raised a pale brow. His voice sounded almost amused by this news. “Who would have thought a Black Dragon could be telling the truth? To be fair, while we knew they were coming and that I had noted the possibility, I did not expect them to appear so soon. I am looking forward to reading those reports.” “He is taking this better than I had expected…” The voice whispered in his ear. Vathelan would smirk at such a comment, but it was short lived; as the next line quickly made him once again uncomfortable in his current predicament. “…That being said, he does need to understand his place in the new hierarchy.” “I will… uh… get you what Intel is relevant to your position, Operative Shattered Son.” He eyed the man in hopes such a thing would not threaten his life once more. The ‘Operative’ would turn to face the mage again. “Is that so?” “Tell him he is to remain on standby until we can find a handler for him for his missions.” “There are… many factors we still need to consider with your revival. It was a highly experimental process, you are the first success we have been granted. We need to test your abilities and ask that you sit tight as we find a handler capable to enable you.” “No. We are wasting time, I do not Need a Handler, Magister Frostwhisper.” “My apologies, Operative. This is standard procedure as it was written within the Vanguard Initiative Act, of which you admitted that you wrote—Sir.” Vathelan could see the fury building up in the Shattered Son’s face. He wanted to console him, but he knew that this standard procedure was to followed as the Director had commanded. A few moments passed before there was an audible sigh from the man, “…Very well. But do not tarry, the longer we sit around, the more lives the Legion consumes… including those of our own people.” “It appears you have survived the jaws of the Dragon, Frostwhisper. Well done.” The voice sneered within his ear. “Excuse yourself from the room and you will be dismissed for the time being. We have more work for you elsewhere.” “That is our intent, Operative, Sir.” Vathelan gave a small bow before heading towards the door. At the entrance, before he paged them to grant him access to freedom he looked back. “And Lord-General Visca… Welcome back to the world of the Living, Sir.”
  8. Ninety-Six Percent. Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper had lived through the harrowing events of the fall of Quel’thalas, and to him, this may very well be the most terrifying thing he had ever had to experience. Despite his best efforts, he could not merely stare at the Glass Scroll handed to him that monitored the process of what was going on. No, before his very eyes, a man of legends once again stirred within his vial. First his breathing mask had erupted into an explosion of air bubbles, a little worrisome, but they needed to be sure that his lungs worked properly. He would shove the idea out of mind, which was of course, until the Arcane Intelligence designated as Vindicator started its full body synchronization check. It was here when the Shattered Son of Quel’thalas began his violent thrashing. “Please… just a little longer…” Vathelan’s voice cracked in his attempts to coo; to the man in the glass or himself, it was impossible to be certain. “Do you really think he can hear you in there?” And then there was this asshole, taunting him with his ear. “Or better yet, even if he could, do you think he would Care? For all we know we are ripping him away from his loved ones in the afterlife.” The young Magister gave a small sigh; he was at a loss of words. While Director Raeventus may have had a point, the verbal abuse lost its effectiveness twenty percent ago. Now, here at the cusp of both one of the greatest accomplishments of his career and the hopeful resurrection of his greatest hero, he had bigger things to worry about. …Assuming it was Lord-General Visca that came back and didn’t murder him on the spot of his rebirth. He didn’t want to think about the alternative. Ninety-Seven Percent. Vindicator’s synchronization process continued to work its way through the late Lord-General’s body, the very mana from within him igniting in its activation to accommodate the work of the Arcane Intelligence. It was always beautiful the way the light of the magic snaked its way through his veins, forming what were almost ley lines though out his form. As they finally connected to his cranium, the dimly lit markings of fel appeared as his eyes opened during his violent rebirth. His very flesh seemed to drink from the lines of his veins, but even still he struggled. “Come on, Sir… we’re almost there…” “You’re wasting your time.” Ninety-Eight Percent. Vathelan did not bother to retort. They had but two percent to go, and then either history would be made or his fate was sealed. The Arcane energies erupted into a brilliant flash around the man in the vial’s skull as the energies traced through his veins, forking from the jugulars to up the temporal and the facial veins until they reconvened upon his oculars. Here a war of color waged for but a second… the sapphire brilliance that matched that within his veins would drown out the dim light of his Fel Taint during this synchronization process. Ninety-Nine Percent. The Lord-General was now certainly awake, his sapphire eyes glaring from the waters of his current prison. His thrashing had stopped, thankfully, but such a boon would be short lived. The brilliance from his veins began to pulse with his heartbeat; the very air around them seemed to begin to tremble. Frostwhisper would have found this concerning, if it weren’t for a more alarming sound grabbing his attention: Something was grinding on something else, and it sounded like it was coming from the vial before him. He started to fiddle with the Glass Scroll in his hand in an attempt to run a quick diagnosis—but stopped himself when the cause became apparent, the very glass of the Visca sized Vial was cracking! The lights began to flicker… ACTIVATION COMPLETE. The trembling air would become deathly still for a mere moment, before an eruption of force emanated from the cracking vial. In a sheer burst of panic, the young Magister surged his mana into what he thought a nigh impenetrable shielding of ice. He sighed from his confines as he watched the glass cut into the barrier, leaving him safe. What he didn’t expect, however, was glowing and bloody fist to punch through the remaining portion of the barrier to grab at his throat. He had no time to prepare as he felt its death grip upon them and send him flying into the wall closest to them. The mist of the explosion may have censored the form of his attacker as his head hit the wall, the room going darker for a moment or two, but it did nothing to hide the burning energies in the man’s veins or his eyes. A voice long thought lost to the world at long last spoke once more; full of rage and hatred it echoed its first sentence from beyond the grave: “Who are you and what have you done to me?”
  9. Borrowed Time/Sanctuary RBG

    I so want to bring my Death Knight (Visca) to these on Wednesdays if at all possible! He's Frost, but I am fine switching to Blood or Unholy if you so desire me to!
  10. The deteriorating elegance of the forgotten half of Silvermoon gave way to an enclosure large enough for an entire patrol barricaded away by wall of pulsating blue and purple that surrounded the young Magister. Better yet, for the time being, he was alone and free of the enchantment that had forced him to act against his will. It would not last long, he had little time. Taking this small advantage granted to him, he formed two shards of ice the size of daggers, one in each hand. He shifted into a basic but proper combat stance as he was taught in basic training, and awaited her apparition. As soon as he saw her form, he pounced into action. The plan was simple: Attack while she adjusted to their new surroundings, remove her as a threat, then portal out of here before whatever lay outside this barrier was aware of what had transpired. He launched the shard of ice from his right hand, and before seeing if it hit its mark, he struck with his left. But in there laid the problem: She was trained for combat, he was not. She was quick to react, her body melting into the scenery around them, becoming incorporeal for a few seconds. Long enough for Vathelan’s two pronged attack to prove utterly useless, and to leave him open as she once again attached her mental strings around him and forced his body to contort in a painful manner to disarm him. His body twisted so unnaturally so fast that his muscles screamed at him, his back threatening to break from the force as he dropped his remaining ice shard from his hand before falling to his knees. Then came her retort, a backhanded slap with enough force that his glasses flew from his face. As the four nails of her hand dragged on his face from the backswing he would hiss in pain, only for it to be accentuated as the barrier dropped and the cold air beyond it came to kiss at the stinging marks. Between the massive alteration in light and the lack of his oculars he may as well have been blind. He could hear the heavy footsteps of metal boots upon the ground before the sharp edges at his throat. “Are you okay Lady Inquisitor?” A metallic sounding voice echoed near him. “I’m fine. He simply had more fight left than I had expected. Restrain him, but do not hurt him. He’s needed… for now.” “As you wish, Inquisitor.” The voice reverberated through the knight’s helm. Between the now encroaching darkness and the mere blurred shapes he could make out without his glasses, he could not tell just how many were there as they pulled him to his feet. They forced his arms out before shackling him in some heavy set of manacles, oddly enough seeming to cut the mana circulation from his arms. No matter, he would not try to fight them. He knew better, he was out manned and out classed. So long as he cooperated it seemed it may be possible for him to get out of this alive. Prove his worth, save his life. That would be the new plan. They checked his restraints one last time before they shoved him forward, satisfied that he was secure. He still had no clue as to what their destination was, what they had planned for him to work on. And he knew better than to ask, none of them particularly seemed keen on answering questions. So he would have to try to figure it out himself. What were his clues? The Portal was not one that gave any indicator as to where they were going to go, coupled with the barrier that reminded him of the one reported to encircle Dalaran after The Fall, he felt it was safe to assume it was intentional that they didn’t want this location found. The deathly chill that permeated the area was another clue. A cold climate outside, likely remote as to not be found. He was practically blind right now, but the sound of these soldiers… perhaps this was some sort of military installation? His mind wandered, scanning what he had read in hopes of coming to a conclusion as to where he may be… So much so that he nearly kept walking into his escort when they halted their march. His brows furrowed as he listened in on mid-conversation. “Are you sure about this, Inquisitor?” This voice too reverberated. Strange. “We really haven’t a choice in the matter, I’m afraid. Raeventus has his orders, and now so do we.” There was a sigh that echoed through the helm before it spoke once more. “Very well. Let them through.” Something powered down, Wards, if Vathelan had to guess. Then rumbling as what he had to guess were massive doors started opening. When the sound died down, the guardian of the door spoke up again. “…Speaking of that devil, it seems he wishes to speak with our guest.” Magister Raeventus was here? That was a mild surprise, but it put things into perspective. The man had proven himself to become quite prominent since the death of Lord-General Visca. It would also explain why Inquisitor Dawn, his right hand, had been awaiting him… it also didn’t bode well for his chances of survival. He hadn’t the chance to reflect on that, however, as his thoughts were cut off as they shoved something within his ear, it was cold, unrelenting and of a peculiar shape. “Good evening, Frostwhisper.” A voice emanated from the very object within his ear. It was as cold as the air that surrounded him. A dangerously calm fury, the malice on razor’s edge. “I trust you are found in gentle company in these last hours of the day?” “M-magister Raeventus! I—“ Vathelan managed to choke out. Only to be cut off. They continued their march into a metal hall, reinforcing the Military Instillation theory. The clangs of metal boots were quieted for him during this conversation. “Then you remember my name at least. Perhaps it is time to remind you of my position within our Organization, of who you work for.” He would continue before the young man had a chance to retort. “I am the Director of your department: Scryer Asset Protection and Acquisition. It is our job to ensure that the Scryers have the resources required to do what the Seer commands, not for you to play hero.” “I never tried to pla—“ “You violated your Security Clearance. You committed forgery, for the express intent of removing a valuable asset from our arsenal. I could charge you with Treason, you know.” “I enabled them to act while you and the Seer sat on your hands. And you could… if I wasn’t a member of the Order.” He corrected Raeventus. “We are under Emergency War Protocols, we are outside your jurisdiction.” “Brave words coming from someone in your position, Frostwhisper.” There was an audible sneer in the voice. “You seem to quickly forget you are surrounded by my men, in a place you cannot be found. You are very much ‘In my Jurisdiction’ right now. And I would advise against trying my patience, you insolent little shit. One word and I can have you executed or re-educated on the spot, whichever it is I feel like at the moment.” “Then… why am I still alive?” The patrol halted in front of one of these doors. Vathelan was quick to add a, “not that I am complaining of course.” “When you went behind my back, the Council took notice. They want Project Shattered Son to come to fruition, in spite of the short time we have had to ensure he is secure and stable for use… they want their Weapon against the Legion. But I will not risk my own Faithful men and women within my service, so… if you wanted him activated so badly, then I will give you the honor. If he kills you, then Good Riddance.” ‘The Council’? He did not know of what council that Raeventus could be speaking of. The only one that came to mind is what Lady… It couldn’t be, she couldn’t be in on this, could she? To be so power hungry for her husband’s position to do… this? But he would have to consider this another time, for something of more immediacy was brought to his attention. The sound of a ward before them being brought down… The Shattered Son… His shackles were being removed from his arms as Vathelan responded. “…I see… So I am Expendable to you then?” “You went behind my back, you tried to play the game… and you lost Vathelan.” “But with risking my life, you are activating Him to fight the Legion, correct?” “I’m glad you can hear me.” “…Then I graciously accept. If this is my part in history, then I will gladly play it.” There was a firm resolution in his voice. He was no hero; he was just a man who was in the right place at the right time who made a choice. He was handed two items from Inquisitor Dawn, a new Glass Scroll that had read outs of the Shattered Son’s vitals and his glasses. He put them on, his face determined as he stepped into the dark room… across the spacious hall floated a giant of a man in a vial attached to medical equipment. He played the game, he had won. “Arcane Intelligence Designation: Vindicator, began activation of Weapon: Shattered Son.”
  11. Here within the realm of Quel’thalas, the world seemed almost at peace. It had its own problems, to be sure; but if one did not know what was going on to the south or the western continent of Kalimdor, one may be able to remain blissfully unaware of the horrors awaited outside the boundaries of the enchanted lands of eternal spring. The relative peace was enough to allow Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper to slip within his own private reality as he gently rode his Hawkstrider towards the domain of his sworn Lord. He could not help but feel the swell of pride, his grin quite prominent as his eyes looked upon the fortified Visca Manor. He had made his small mark in history, while by no means a man of valor himself… he had enable the Order of Eversong to be reactivated and granted the freedom to move as necessary. With their help, he felt a certain optimism that Azeroth would once more find a way to continue living as they had every crisis past. And when proven right, he would get that date… his first one, actually. “Ah it was about time for you to show up, Frostwhisper.” His hands started to grip at the reigns of his Hawkstrider as his heart threatened to stop even if for but a mere moment. His throat felt dry in the sense of dread from hearing that voice, “Inquisitor, what an… unexpected surprise, madam.” Her head cocked, the twisted amusement playing upon her lips. Her dagger finished its deft work within her hand, cleaning the tiny talons that adorned each of her slender fingers. “Oh Vathelan, why the sudden grimace?” She removed meager weight from the wall as she strode towards him, closing the gap and revealing her ebon robes that marked her position within his organization. “A lady could get the wrong ideas, dear… one may feel… unwanted.” The young Magister continued to stare at his Lord’s home, he was so close. For a moment he considered making a break for it, until he felt the biting of what felt like five tiny daggers sinking into his flesh through his robes and into the flesh of his leg. Her command was simple. “Off.” He bit back any verbal response, rewarding him an even tighter grip before he nodded vigorously, quick to comply as he slipped from his saddle. “Good Boy. Now, into the building.” “But what of my Ha—“ “INTO. The. Building.” He would comply, not protesting any further as he limped until they were within the shambles of a once proud structure of the people of Quel’thalas. He couldn’t recall what this one was, but he was concerned on other matters. “What of my Hawkstrider?” He asked again, now that his leg was free from her torment. “It will be fine. If it is smart enough, it will wander back towards the Manor and be found.” “But what of the Wretched? Or the Manor’s defenses? Even if it is found and stored away properly, do you not think it will raise concerns? Do you not think they will question what happ--” It took but a small gesture from the Inquisitor, quite done with his blabbering, the tips of her fingers giving but a trace of shadow magic to ensure silence as she scanned the exterior of the ruined building they were in and towards the Manor that loomed across the way from them. Satisfied that they were not seen, she turned her attention back towards the Magister and the business at hand. It had seemed that he had found her dirty work, the five lifeless Wretched that laid before their feet spread about this common room. “My apologies about the mess, Frostwhisper, they were not inclined to share their abode. Even for our brief stay.” The young man could was trapped in this deteriorating structure, voiceless at the mercy of such a cruel woman. His lungs filled with air, his emerald eyes wide behind his glasses. He tried to force himself to scream, trying to break her spell upon him through a sheer force of will. It did nothing. His feet shakily moved to back away from her as she approached. He nearly tripped on one of the corpses, its contorted face staring back at him. She had shown her hand, her malice more than evident. He regained his footing, preparing a trembling combat stance. If he was going to die, he would do his heroes proud. He started to draw the mana from his core through his arms and to his fingertips—only to have his hopes of defending himself shattered by her laughter, his body acting against his will. The dark energies snaked around the Inquisitor’s slender fingers as they moved as to pull the invisible strings of her new marionette. Oh she was certain that he would have some choice words in protest, but she had already taken care of that little problem. Her eyes glinted with a sense of joy as she approached close, she gave a small tug to force him to bow low enough for her lips to grace his ear. She spoke in nothing above a whisper, enjoying herself immensely. “You are so adorable when you look at me like that, Frostwhisper. And I do so wish we could continue our fun little dance, but we have an appointment to attend to.” She forced his face to move where she could lock eyes upon his as the hand that did not hold his leash gently tapped upon a button upon her attire. Only then did her hungry eyes look away and towards deeper into the building. Frostwhisper was at last allowed to stand once more, before making an about face towards a newly formed gateway of a portal before them. “Come now, Darling, we mustn’t be late~” Each compulsory step towards this gateway exacerbated his sense of dread. Each step was a testament to his powerlessness, her total domination over him. Each step felt like an eternity, and by the time they reached the gateway, he had come to accept his fate. As they crossed the borders and into an unknown domain that would quickly remove any trace of its existence, the Order of Eversong would be robbed of their faithful Magister and Servant, Vathelan Frostwhisper. “I’m going to die.”
  12. A Magister's Memorandum

    This is Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper and this is my Fifth report. Those who have access to my reports may notice that there is a lapse between entries longer than usual, to the point that it may even be considered unacceptable given my current position and the importance of the mission given to me. But given that I have yet to have any response to my Intel listed within my last report, I was forced to take initiative. I have been quite busy. With the arrival of the Burning Legion, just as you were warned, it is time to come clean of my activities in hopes that we can use this to our advantage. We are going to need every one of those we can gain in the upcoming campaign. First was the matter of House Visca’s alarming overflow of paperwork. I have mentioned this before, and it may seem a minor point given the threat before us; but I will impress upon you the importance of having precise records of what resources we have available to tap into, where our resources are being dedicated, what expenditures are owed and what we can do to be that much more efficient. A daunting task, for it was no small feat given the entire backlog from what was previous of our intervention, but a task that as of the date of this report is complete. I have ensured that everything has been filed and fulfilled in its entirety. Furthermore, I have checked for any potential discrepancies in all Visca accounts and staffing personnel files. The last thing we need is for a Dreadlord to somehow sneak its way into our Manor to slit our throats in our sleep and then fire our weapons at wholly unintended targets thanks to a little negligence. After I was satisfied with the accuracy of each member of our staff and the family that they have brought with them to be placed under our protection, I have issued them keys to facilities fitting of their duty and security clearance. This was vital to the operation of the Estate as we have convinced the Arcane Intelligence Project Vigil to activate the Order of Eversong’s Emergency War Protocols. You have read that right; there is no error in this record. As I am sure you will find out who it was who granted them Scryer Authorization in order to do so. And you know what Seer Voren’thal, Magister Raeventus? I stand by this decision. The Burning Legion has returned. They have begun their full scale invasion upon Azeroth, I have read multiple reports on what happened at the Broken Shore. If this is not considered an Emergency, the very basis for the reason Why the EWPs were developed, to become active once more, then I know not what definition you use. I did not sign on to the Scryers, to leave a promising career as a Magister of Silvermoon, to sit idly by. This was not what ideals we were founded upon. This is not what Lord-General Draco Gladius Visca would have approved of! We must rally and use our resources in order to save our people. And I think that Lord-General Rayfeather has a great deal of potential to make a fine successor to the legacy left to him, I think he will do Visca proud. And from the sound of it, he will not be alone. Lord Cerryan Vyel and the homecoming Lady Ronyo Visca are talking about forming a council of the three of them to support one another in these times. I am unsure if this lacks ulterior motives, nor if this viable given the point of the Lord-General position is to enable the leader to act independent and free of any hinderance… I fear that three of them talking about every decision will slow them down, weakening the Order when immediate action is required. But we shall see if these concerns are valid, it is not like there are not alternative methods should such occur anyways. And I will continue to enable them to the best of my ability. I may not be a hero, someone with the mastery of blade or bow… But I can support them with my knowledge and ability to apply it off the field and in the more mired areas such as the courts. I believe that now that the call has come, that once more, the Order of Eversong shall rise to the challenge and prove to be something invaluable in the defense and survival of our people, state… and perhaps even the World. If you do not approve of my actions, then I apologize, but I will remind you that now that the Emergency War Protocols are active, we act as an independent organization, we are outside of your control for now. Should you, at the end of this all, still believe me wrong—should you wish me court marshaled, then I shall greet such with my head held high for I have done the right thing. I have enabled the Order, our heroes, to act again. I have ensured that they can make history as they have in the past… I hope Lord-General Visca would have been proud of me. Signed, Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper Faithful Member of the Order of Eversong
  13. A Magister's Memorandum

    This is Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper, and this is my Fourth Report. I have made contact with the enemy. We have less than a year before the Burning Legion invades Azeroth in earnest once more. We are quickly running out of time, we must act before it is too late-- if it is not already. They have been planning this for quite some time, while we have been too busy on other affairs. And we have been busy, this is true. And they were worthy causes, a civil war to stop our Prince from leading us to a path of ruin, finally bringing justice to Arthas in the Northrend campaign, our securing of Outland resources and developing a failsafe should Deathwing triumph over the divided Azeroth… the attempts to keep war from escalating out of hand after the Theramore Incident, our responses to the Dalaran Massacre… but to think we have been so blind to this… “Nala’quoreem” Insurgency… But I am sure those that read this will require proof. And much to my dismay, I know how… delusional this all sounds. I had come thinking that I was to merely witness a breakthrough of technological advancement that we could secure to gain an advantage for our future endeavours: an Orc by the alias of a Mister “Nock” had developed a way to access other planes of reality, namely the Emerald Dream. Both the organizations of Sanctuary and Borrowed Time had convened for such a meeting… little did I know they had other plans. Instead of testing the device in a methodical approach, they decided we were going to immediately use it in order to view for any corruption upon the other side. It seems that even here has been tainted, and I may be able to secure readouts for this from a contact if given privileges to promise certain legal concessions-- and this intel may prove highly valuable to the right people should we wish to pursue; but that is the low on the priority list. Because it is what happened next that proved… strange. From my understanding, the device was hacked and we were teleported into grave danger. We were dragged into the Twilight Realm, and this is where I was able to make contact with the enemy. A demon, a Nathrezim if I were to make a guess, who had presumably been the one to do such an act. The gathered group seemed intent on violence, despite my better judgement. If we were to be on an intelligence mission, would it not be best to find out what they had planned rather than assault the demon in its home realm? But alas, I am but one man and they were many… conflict broke out, and yet I stayed my hand. An unpopular decision, I am sure… but I understood the parameters better than they did it seemed. After the demon was able to banish them (And no one was hurt from what I could tell) I was able to manipulate the demon into a conversation in which it seemed willing to give me a few key details: They have been laying groundwork (Or as the demon corrected me to “Overkill”) for decades, at least since the third war… though that only indicates a little over such a year, perhaps time flows differently for the Legion than us? This “Quorum” serves as some sort of scouting party and insurgency team for the Burning Legion They have been manipulating us, to fight amoungst ourselves, warping both our minds and bodies in order to ensure our weakness We have less than a year before we are invaded in earnest. Afterwards, I had to prove myself not a Nathrezim when I too was banished from the realm of Twilight-- leaving that demon there to her own devices, something we should see about fixing-- and then I had to reveal my purpose within Sanctuary in order to regain their trust. They now know, I am there to assess them. And that the Scryers are interested in making a partnership in order to continue our work of preservation and salvation of our people. Another note of interest, I met with Dora Arath’dorei’s mother… the veteran Sinlanna Arath’dorei. She desires to have me over for a conversation at some point. I feel, given the gravity of this situation, that I may be able to convince her to aide us and perhaps re-enlist. I am not alone in the notion that just like after the Theramore Incident, we must consider reactivating the Order of Eversong. We’re going to need all the help we can get, and these heroes have proven time and time again to turn the tides of war in our favor… not that at this point, that Grandmaster Rayfeather nor Lord Cerryan Vyel-Visca will be awaiting our permission for very long… if we do not act, there will be no tether to keep them within Scryer control. And we know how well that ended for Lord-General Visca.
  14. A Magister's Memorandum

    ***Offline Addendum***
  15. A Magister's Memorandum

    Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper, Third Report. I will first state, on the record, that I am concerned in regards of the lack of communication since my intelligence report on the Demonic Threat. Is the leadership not concerned? Are my reports not getting through? I cannot be certain of either… But I digress, for I have more to report. First is regarding person of interest: Dora Arath’dorei. I went upon the agreed upon hunting trip within Sholazar Basin-- which proved to grant me some interesting insights. First, is that in spite of her usual demeanor, she has exhibited a level of expertise that I did not expect from one of my age. I understand a lot of theoretical techniques, but until this day… I had never been able to apply them in a practical scenario outside of a laboratory. Between her marksmanship, her command over powerful beasts and mechanical-technology armaments… I feel she could make an excellent ally if we use the diplomatic approach. There was a slight snag, in which an unexpectant combatant attacked, but the threat was neutralized and I was able to increase my standing. Afterwards we went to celebrate and get to know each other better, it seems she has inherited the desirable traits we want in our agents from her parents. Should she ever decide to join our Organization… I would whole heartedly send in my recommendation. The second order of business is in regards of Grandmaster Rayfeather. He seems aware that something is wrong with his access to what the Vigil Project will grant him. Even worse, I think he suspects that I may know more than I am telling, given my close approximation to those minds who created it during my assignment on the Nethergate Base. We should not underestimate him, Magister Raeventus-- I feel it is only a matter of time before he finds a way to work around this obstacle. He is a clever man and was selected by the Lord-General for a reason.