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  1. Spelling Trouble

    The past month had been strange for Qabian. He had been distracted with projects other than Damian's education, and that had probably been noticeable to the child at their occasional meeting for lessons, but the effect had been almost calming for the Magister. Qabian took refuge and respite in sharing his knowledge, falling into a comfortable routine of helping Damian practice and improve for a few brief hours before returning to the far less simple work waiting for the Magister elsewhere. However, with said projects nearly completed to his satisfaction, Qabian remembered why he had agreed to do any of this apprenticeship business in the first place. He was disappointed in letting himself slip, but hoped he could at least count on the uneventful time that had passed to have made certain people let their guard down around him in a way he could abuse. Qabian himself had also become more complacent. He waited on the balcony of the Legerdemain Lounge, wearing his Grim tabard rather than a less conspicuous one, and without the company of any Kirin Tor guards, ready to meet Damian at the pre-arranged time. Damian arrived promptly. The little elf carried, as usual, a brown satchel bag slung over one shoulder, and wore the simple brown and white linen clothes of a student. There was a troubled expression on his typically stoic face as he approached Qabian, but the boy seemed intent on continuing with his lessons and stopped a few feet from Qabian to bow respectfully in greeting. "Sir." A shadow of a smile may have crossed Qabian's face, but he otherwise maintained a cold distance in his expression. He acknowledged the boy's arrival with a brief nod, then turned away from him to look out over the city. "How are you feeling?" the mage asked. Damian raised an eyebrow as the magister turned away. This may have been the first time he inquired about the boy's feelings, and it seemed suspect. "Fine, sir," he answered casually. Or as casually as an eight year old boy could answer. "Thank you." "How are your studies going? Are you getting enough from them? Do you feel like you're learning?" Qabian continued speaking toward the city, not the child. If it weren't for the focus of his words, his demeanor would seem either distracted or dismissive. "Was it worth leaving Silvermoon?" "I've been getting more instruction, yes," Damian explained, glad with the change in subject. "They're less inclined to treat me like a child. I've been learning about portals, and teleporting." "Good. Time-space is fickle. Losing control and making mistakes can have far more terrible consquences than simple elemental magic." Qabian's blank expression darkens into a frown, but again the emotion is a shadow that passes quickly. "Was there something you were hoping I could distract you from today?" Damian's hand clutched the bag at his side. He didn't carry much, just a book, a notebook, and a few quills. Peering curiously at Qabian's back, he stayed rooted to the spot. " I came here to learn, like always." "Maybe we'll get there today. Maybe." Qabian shrugs idly. "How are your parents?" "They're fine," Damian said quickly. It wasn't a lie, but the boy wasn't sure how deeply the magister intended on digging. "Do you spend a lot of time with them here? Or are they often busy?" Qabian asked. "I'm busy," he corrected, perhaps a little cheeky. "I see both of my parents in the guildhall. My mother more than my father, but he's an officer with the military so he has more responsibility than she does." Qabian smirked at the response, though he continued to face away. "That was my next question. Who are you spending your time with when you're not studying? Or perhaps you're always studying?" Damian blinked uncomfortably and looked at the floor. "..mostly. I like to read." "How often are you in the guildhall? Do you see what goes on there? Perhaps while you're reading?" Qabian continued. "I eat, sleep and study there, sir," Damian explained dutifully. "So I don't see much of what goes on. I'm either in the library or my bedroom." Qabian remained silent for a time, watching the city, considering his options. Finally, he said, "If you were any ordinary child, I would say politics were simply beyond your purview. What eight-year-old cares one iota about politics? And perhaps you do not care, and that would be perfectly reasonable. But given what your parents' previous absence accomplished for you, perhaps you know more about politics than any child should, hm?" Damian considered the magister's words carefully. "..yes sir," he concurred with a slow nod. "I wasn't really interested in politics, before. Not until I sat on the council. They didn't let me do anything, but it was interesting to hear how decisions were made." Qabian grinned into the distance. "How much do you know about your parents' guild?" he asked. "I know about.. how it started. How they joined. What they do and what they're trying to do," Damian answered, dreading where this was going. "And have you heard that the guild has done some absolutely horrible things?" Qabian continued. One of Damian's long white eyebrows twitched. "What sort of horrible things?" "Take people apart, torture them, mutilate them, burn them until they scream." Qabian shrugged. "You tell me. You're closer to them than I am." He sighed, but the sound didn't affect his distant grin. "But I suspect neither of us are ever told the truth. Maybe it is all lies, but I do know one of the best, bravest people I know is absolutely terrified of the people your parents work with." "Well.." Damian blinked and looked back up toward the magister. Fear was something he mentioned often, but it was never as something to be avoided. "Good." Qabian laughed quite loud, and with that twisted grin, finally turned to face the child. "And what do you know of my guild, hm?" A loaded question. Damian heard plenty about the Grim, and for the most part, none of it was particularly good. "..I know your guild believes that peace will come through annihilation of your enemies." "Mmm. That precious Mandate of ours, hm? Wonderful propaganda, isn't it? You only need to hear it once and it echoes through your mind for years to come," Qabian mused. "Did you know we have people who do all the same horrible things I just accused your parents' guild of doing? Of course, we never pretend we don't do those things. Perhaps we should work together. Do you think that would be a good idea?" Damian furrowed his brow for a moment. "I know you already have. Because in war, ideals are compromised in favor of a winning strategy." He cocked his head to one side, studying Qabian from behind. "My mother told me that the Warboss and your leader helped each other on a mission, because they were both hired to accomplish something. They helped each other and the mission was successful. So sometimes, you have to work with people you don't agree with because that's how you get things done." Qabian raised a disbelieving eyebrow, then nodded appreciatively, his grin shifting to a bemused smirk. "Is that so? I knew I was right to bring this subject to you. I'll get straight answers from you that I could never get from my own people. Do you know the rest of that story? The names of the leaders? The nature of the mission?" "Something to do with the tauren in Highmountain," he answered with a shrug. "They were asked to do something for the chieftain. They did it, and then they left. That's all I know." Qabian blinked. "That doesn't sound right at all. I assumed you were referring to something that happened during my absence, but that can't be the case if it involved Highmountain." He looked off to one side thoughtfully. Apparently speaking to himself, he half-mumbled, "Simple mercenary work, then. That's not cooperation. That's forced. More reasonable than any possibility of actual mutual understanding, and yet, refusal seems more acceptable." He shrugged and turned back to the boy. "I've done as much myself, back in Outland, in the time before you were born, but I'm talking about something else. Do you think your parents' friends seek peace through the annihilation of their enemies as much as we do?" Damian raised an eyebrow. "Maybe. I don't know. I don't really speak to them very much. Though I'm pretty sure everyone kills, since we're at war. Nobody worries about annihilating the Legion." "No. Nobody does, do they?" Qabian's smirk returned. "If we could just convince them that Alliance fishing villages were actually full of demons, I'm sure they'd march alongside us in destroying entire families. To be honest, that's an absolutely excellent idea." The mage paused a moment, then changed tack. "Do you remember one of the earlier lessons I taught you? With the birds outside the tower?" "Yes sir," he answered easily, glancing past Qabian's back and into the sky. Beyond them both lie Argus, in all its imposing glowing green. Qabian followed the glance. "Your mother hasn't let you leave the city at all, has she?" "Not without her supervision," he said with a disappointed sigh. "Not with all the demons out there. She only likes the ones she can control." "It's understandable. You are very young, but..." Qabian eyed the child up and down. "When I was your age, I would have given my left arm for a chance to fight in a war like this, such imposing targets, such violence to defend against, survival as the greatest incentive for honing power and reaction times beyond my wildest dreams. I can only imagine what incredible opportunities are available to someone at the very precipice of life-altering discoveries." He grinned. "And of course, when I was your age, my mother made no decisions for me. My teachers made them all, such as they were capable of, at any rate. Are you any more eager to break the rules today?" Damian thought carefully about the question. Breaking the rules could have dire consequences, moreso for him than anyone else, but he genuinely wondered what lengths his parents would go to rescue him if things turned sour. His mother warned him to be smart. Was agreeing to break rules the smart thing to do? "It depends, sir. What rules are we breaking?" Qabian folded his arms across his chest, idly tapping his fingers as he spoke. "Your mother is correct. You should not go down to the Isles with me alone. I'm as likely to intentionally get you killed as accidentally, but perhaps eventually we can arrange something alongside her that will at least get you in the fray, if not unsupervised. "Today, however, I was thinking the Underbelly. There's a troll down there who sells portal keys, and we have... an arrangement. I have two keys, one for you and one for myself. We use a portal immediately behind the sentries and are never in an area that is not under Kirin Tor guard, and I give you today's lesson. I can guarantee that no harm will come to you, but you would still technically be breaking your mother's rules." Damian considered the proposition with a thoughtful expression. He seemed older than his short years when he thought like this, lips pursed and eyebrows tightly knit. Eventually, he stood straight and nodded. "Okay, sir." Qabian grinned horribly. "Excellent. That certainly opens up some possibilities. Follow me." He stepped past the child, walking briskly down the stairs and out into the city. Following Qabian, Damian kept his head down. He wasn't sure if his mother kept watch over him somehow, but if she did, they would almost certainly find out about this. He fell in step behind the magister and went over his options, just in case things took a turn for the worst. As promised, Qabian led the child through the streets of Dalaran, then down the ramp leading into the Underbelly. His pace was quick and he didn't pause to make certain Damian followed. The mage paused before the guard at the bottom of the ramp and handed something to the man who nodded once and stepped aside as a portal opened behind where he had been standing. Only then did Qabian confirm Damian was still with him before stepping into the portal. Damian followed Qabian closely behind. By the time he actually saw the portal, a wave of panic went through the boy as he considered his options. Stay and risk his life with a maniac, or run and be curious for the rest of his life. Taking a deep breath, he decided to chance it and stepped through the portal. Inside the small room the portal led to, Qabian stood to one side waiting, his arms folded across his chest, blinking as his eyes adjusted to the dim light. He half-expected Damian would not materialize, but the child dutifully appeared, as did the horrible grin on Qabian's face. The room was bare and open, wooden planks over water, not unlike the Underbelly's black market. In the very center of the room, a human man crouched on his knees, bedraggled and pale, his hands tied behind his back and a dirty brown cloth across his mouth, gagging him. He looked up when the elves entered, his eyes showing nothing but exhaustion. "As you can see," Qabian stated once the boy was fully in the room, "I lied, but not about everything." He looked pointedly at the portal behind the boy. "Shall we wait for your mother? I assume she'll be arriving shortly." Damian stared at the man in front of him. He'd seen humans before, in the city. He spoke with mages of the Kirin Tor, and saw men and women in armor and leather, all of them adventurers of great skill and power. Never before had he seen a human appear so powerless. This one seemed helpless. A victim, maybe? Some sort of captive? Eventually, Qabian's words registered. He looked up at the mage with a blank expression, not surprised to see him grinning like a madman. "Is that why you brought me here?" He asked curiously, his tone less accusing than it probably should have been. "To lure my mother?" Qabian chuckled, low and dark. "Of course not. I'm sure your mother would show herself at a simple request without any need for trickery. I simply assumed that if she's watching you as closely as she threatened she was that she would be behind us momentarily. This, however..." He motioned to the bound, disheveled man. "This is entirely for you." Taking a step forward, Damian studied the human a little more closely. He was tired, that much was certain, maybe starving. It was very possible that Qabian brought him here to kill this human, or at least torture him. What did that say about the magister? "What am I supposed to do with him?" Qabian raised an eyebrow at the question. "Kill him, of course. Teaching humans magic was our greatest error. We correct it at every given opportunity. This is the next step in denying empathy. The birds were the first. If you do not kill him, I will, and I will not make it quick." Qabian snapped his fingers, and the human shivered, but nothing else seemed to happen. It was difficult to tell if the man was afraid or simply shaking from the effort of not collapsing completely. Damian went over his options. Killing the birds was an exercise in pest control, and birds were plentiful. He wouldn't have argued that killing them was cruel, but they weren't people. During his time in Dalaran, his exposure to humans had grown from the few glances stolen with his mother. They trained him, and for the most part, they were kind. Approaching the man, he continued to study his tired face. "Who is he?" Qabian's expression shifted to one of calm as he accepted the child's reaction as both mildly disappointing and entirely natural given his circumstances. "He is no one," the mage explained. "His life has as much meaning as the lives of the birds, less even. I could give you a tale of how he sold his soul to the Legion and murdered his friends and family in exchange for promises of power or perhaps he's from one of the Twilight cults and drinks the blood of innocents, but none of that matters. His life has no value and it is already over. You can help him end it quickly, or you can draw out his pain, as you choose." Damian's brow furrowed, his "thinking face" familiar by now. He was being presented with two choices, both of which resulted in the same fate for the human in front of him. At the stage in which he was training, there were even fewer options available. He wasn't particularly strong yet, regardless of how hard he studied, which he was certain Qabian exploited with this "choice". Truthfully, it wasn't a choice at all. Both answers were the same, so what difference did the road travelled make? "Whichever of your options I take, he's going to die," he said finally, approaching the human. "I'm not strong enough to incinerate him so quick it would be painless, so either way he'll suffer. So it's not really a choice at all, to him. Just to me," he said, thinking out loud. Glancing back at Qabian, the boy took a moment to study his mentor and considered his methods. Damian wasn't there to be obedient, he realized, or Qabian wouldn't have brought him here. Just like magic, the paths before him weren't simply left or right. They could be whatever he willed them to be. Putting a hand on the man's wrist, Damian closed his eyes and spoke a word under his breath. Almost immediately, a portal appeared beneath them both. "I chose neither," he said, before both he and the human disappeared.(edited) Qabian frowned. That was an option he should have considered, but had not. The human was still dead either way. Short of keeping him under constant protection, Qabian knew where the man lived, his family, his business. The moment he was set free he would be snuffed out. But the child had made a decision that had closed several doors. Qabian suspected the boy knew that and had made the choice anyway. Qabian considered his own error. Perhaps he should have simply done the damage directly through his carefully crafted opportunity, but direct damage had never been the goal. Perhaps that would have to change. Qabian shrugged, leaving the room the same way he had entered. There was more than one way to leave an arrangement and the boy had made his choice.
  2. Spelling Trouble

    Damian returned home at the usual time. The sun was at its hottest point, and a short shadow was cast as he made his way to the stables to perform his afternoon chores. Vicailde was sat at a short stool seeing to Frank's shoes. The new hooves shimmered with a shimmering gold. Vicailde wore simply his linen pants and boots. His shirt hanging over the door to Frank's stable. "If it isn't the little Lord." Frank mused his tall ears twitched as he turned to see Damian approach. Vicailde turned in his seat, glancing over his shoulder. His hand resting in a loose fist on his leg. "Your school contacted me..." He trailed off as he turned fully in his chair to face his son. His face was stern, but seemed to be a bit conflicted. "...would you mind telling me your side of what happened?" Damian seemed hesitant to walk into the stable. He frowned at Frank, but didn't feel confident enough to cast the same expression to his father. Pursing his lips, he approached the older Bloodstone and lifted his chin to face him. "He wouldn't leave me alone. He never does," he argued. "I warned him before, and he didn't listen. He kept saying things, so I finally did something about it." Vicailde studied his son for a moment. "Tell me. What will you do if he returns looking to make you pay for what you've done? Returns with friends?" He waved Damian in closer to him. "There are other ways of making people shut up. I spent years perfecting that art. Fear is an easy weapon to weild.. but it's fleeting and it turns on you. Respect is a far better path." "I've tried that," Damian insisted, approaching his father cautiously. "I tried to ignore him. I tried asking nicely. He wouldn't listen, so I had to make him listen." Vicailde sighed and studied his son for a moment. "I never said you had to take the high road or that you should take it laying down. However, first why do his words mean anything to you? Are you worried others may agree with whatever he said? Tell me. If a Lord on the council had said something similar would you attempt to set him on fire?" Damian's eyes shot up toward Vicailde's, red and angry as the felsteed standing beside Frank. "They did say those things. About me, and mother. I didn't set them on fire because I had to be responsible for our home, but I don't need to take it from someone my own age. I had to make him see I'm not going to let him just get away with it." Vicailde's face remained unchanged and he stared back into his son's eyes. He stood up slowly, towering over his son. "Then let us go. Tell me which Lord said these things and you can burn them too." "...Vic..." Frank murmured quietly. Vicailde's hand opened quickly, causing the horse to fall silent. Damian shook his head, confused. "That won't do anything but hurt our family. I can't just set everyone on fire," he argued, his lip trembling. "I just wanted to teach him a lesson. That's all." Vicailde raised a brow looking down at his son. "So burning a defenseless child is fine but attacking someone who could fight back is out of the question?" Vicailde sighed and placed a hand on Damian's head comfortingly. "You are right. You can't set everyone on fire but, you can't teach idiots lessons; the world is full of them. They'll try to drag you down to the dirt because that's what they are. So you got a few options. Let them drag you down, ignore them and hide from their words, or you can reveal them for the idiots that they are. Knowing how to defend yourself if they attack you is helpful for any of them, but doing so in a way that embarrasses them is worth any physical pain you could inflict." Damian's left eyebrow twitched at the explanation. " don't think setting him on fire was embarrassing enough? After all the teasing? You don't know what it's like. You were gone. I had to take everyone's insults while you were away, and they think I can just go to school and be like all the other kids? While you and mother fight the Legion, I'm fighting off other kids who remind me how common my mother is, how you paid for her, and how all I am is a.. an agreement you had." Vicailde licked his lips slowly and sat back down. He placed a hand on Damian's shoulder. "No. There was nothing embarrassing about it. Everyone here remembers when the undead attacked and now the Legion is on their doorstep and they're too weak to fight them so they try to take their fear out on others. I didn't chose to leave you or your mother; I was taken." He took a slow breath and and shook his head. "As I said, they are dirt and their words are dirt. Do you doubt my love for your mother or you? They have these stupid rules about who should love who. I ignored those idiots. I rubbed their noses in it. I thought that I could protect you from it... that was my failing." "You can't protect me from everything," Damian said quietly, shame written across his young face. "I have to be able to protect myself. I know you and mother love me. I know you love eachother, but nobody cares about any of that. All they care about is that I look different, and she looks different, and you're important so they have to tolerate me but nobody really wants to. Nobody here." "I can't but I will try and I will try to teach you how to defend yourself." He took a slow breath and raised a hand to his own blue eyes. "They make fun of your eyes because they remind them what they lost. How the high elves look down on our people's green eyes. They want to drag those beneath them because they can't handle feeling 'tainted' but your eyes, your skin, your hair. These are all simply pieces. You can let them control you or you can own them and use them to your advantage." Vicailde ran a finger from the corner of his lip to his ear. "I used to have a scar that ran from my lip to my ear. At first people reeled at it. Imperfection was not tolerated back then as it isn't now. I would be lying if I didn't say it controlled me for awhile but, I learned to use it for apathy or fear as the situation called for it." Damian squinted at his father, as if attempting to imagine what he must have looked like with a scar that big. "Well.. if you could do that with your scar, couldn't I do that with my eyes? I'm not planning on setting anyone else on fire," he said quickly, as if to defend himself. "I figured once would be enough." Vicailde nodded slowly. "I would have traded my scar for eyes like thoses. However, no more burning. If you want to teach people a lesson you will have to do it with your tongue or your fists and if you want to learn to do that I can teach you." Damian looked down at his hands, frowning deeply at the prospect. "..someone from the Kirin Tor came to see me. He said I had potential. That I should be in Dalaran, training." There was a pause as he gathered his courage. "..may I go?" Vicailde paused and raised a brow. "We can go to Dalaran if you wish it. However, you will have to amend for what you did to this child first. If after that and a short visit you still wish to train there then you will have to prove it is something you wish to do. You will have to behave at school, do your chores, and... train with me." "..train? You mean learn to fight?" He asked, squinting. Damian seemed to consider the possibilities he was being offered, weighing them. "Corvallis taught me swordfighting. He practices with me, sometimes. Fighting like that?" Vicailde nodded and smiled softly. "Fighting, Survival, Politics, and other things. Forgive me. When I was taken you were just a baby and I couldn't handle how much you had grown on my return. I wanted you to be a child because I missed so much. I recognize now that I shouldn't treat you like a child. However, this means that it won't be easy. You could continue relaxing at school and home if you wish." "Relaxing? You think what I do is relaxing?" The boy said incredulously, more stressful in his motions than any child his age had the right to be. "There's nothing relaxing about being me," he said while looking toward Xanatos. "Not at school, not anywhere. " Vicailde frowned and took hold of Damian's shoulders. "Yes. In comparison this is relaxing. It will be hard work. However, if you would prefer we can find ways to help you relax." Vicailde glanced towards Ninorra's steed. "There are several wards we can look into that will help keep them from speaking to you... and if you wish to learn from home instead of school that can be arranged for a time." Vicailde cleared his throat. "However, if you wish to learn how to harness innate abilities you must also learn how to do things that do not com naturally to you as well." " fighting," Damian suggested quietly, looking down at his hands. "I'm not good at it like you are. I'm good at.. other things. Like studying, and casting spells, but.. that's why I do it. Because I know I'm not going to be a fighter like you were." There was a certin amount of shame in the boy's voice, as if he regretting this truth. "I was a terrible fighter. I kept my nose in a book and I absolutely loved watching plays. It is what I always wanted to do. My father made me learn. I hated it. However, I grew to enjoy it in my own way. As I said, it's important to learn to do things that don't come naturally... unless you want to end up like those spoiled people who try to take the easy way their entire lives and fear change and difficulty." "I don't want to be like them," Damian said defensively. He looked carefully at his father, as if confused. " hated fighting? Really? I thought you were always good at it.." he said thoughtfully, then shook his head. "But if you hated it, then why did grandfather make you do it?" Vicailde cleared his throat and avoided his son's eyes for a moment. "He... had an idea for what I should be. Much was expected of me." He turned towards his son and smiled softly. "I don't expect you to be good at it, but I did learn much from it and I think you can to." "I don't mind learning.." Damian relented. "I liked sword fighting with Corvallis. He's a really good fighter." Vicailde sighed and nodded. "Again, you may still continue learning from him." Vicailde scratched his cheek lightly. "I didn't think you would be so reluctant to spend more time together.." "..with you?" Damian asked, blinking. "I'm not.." he said carefully, looking for a way to explain his feelings. "..I didn't think you'd want to. With me." "Of course. I'll admit I have been preoccupied since my return with the Legion and explaining our return to the council... If you go off to Dalaran I'll see even less of you. I'm sure your mother will want to steal some of your time for herself. We simply have been focused on ending this war so that we can return home. I suppose we just hoped we would have a few more years." He scoffed lightly. "Maybe you'll find a way of forgiving me later but those are my terms." Damian lookes to his father thoughtfully, as if looking for something beyond his words. "I would have done it anyway," he said with a shrug, his own attempt at pride. "But if that's what I have to do for you to let me go to Dalaran, then I'll do whatever you say."(edited) Vicailde smirked thoughtfully. "One last thing before you go work on your school work, what do you wish to do in Dalaran? You have been asking to go for a while now. What do you intend to see or learn?" "I want to become a Magister," the smaller blonde explained, his eyes confident. "I want to learn from the best spellcasters in the world. I want to see Khadgar, and learn from the Kirin Tor. Archmage Grimfire was recruiting for them, he met me in Silvermoon." Vicailde raised a brow curiously. "Oh? Curious I hope your incident at school doesn't change his mind. They can be fairly rigid about discipline. It requires a steel resolve to be a Magister least you end up falling to tainted power like our Prince did." Vicailde cleared his throat. "What do you wish to do with your powers once you learn them?" "Defend our home," Damian answered easily, standing up a little straighter. "Take care of everyone." Vicailde leaned back in his seat. "Why do you want to do that and who do you want to take care of?" He smirked lightly. "Doesn't have anything to do with that girl you kissed does it?" "No!" Damian practically shouted, his face turning a shade of red. "No, it's just.. I don't know if something will happen to you and mother again. So if it does, I need to be ready. Just in case." Vicailde ticked his tongue lightly. "You can't prevent or predict what will happen, but I've learned you should pursue interests outside of self preservation. We have enough money to hire more guards for the homestead if you wished for protection. Either the armies will win or we won't but you pushing yourself for that goal probably won't resolve it." Vicailde shrugged lightly. "I'm not saying don't train for war but focus on something that makes you happy. Magisters do far more than fight. They studied our world to understand it for the sake of knowledge." "..I like studying," the boy admitted, shrugging. "I think.. maybe if I'm in a place where everyone else is studying, maybe I won't be so different." Vicailde nodded and gave his hair another ruffle. "Good. Now go see to your chores and don't forget to clean up for dinner." I'm sure your mother will have some words for you when she returns. Damian winced and turned to the door. "She's going to overreact.." Vicailde cleared his throat. "Go easy on your mother. She struggled with her powers when she was your age... and she had no one to help her. She simply does not want to lose you. To the fel or to Dalaran." The boy looked somewhat guilty with himself. "I'll be fine. She should be more worried about getting hurt on the Shore. I read about the demons there. They're huge, and they have ships firing beams from the sky at people below." "Well they're not just firing at the shore. They're firing at Dalaran and I have seen more than a few Demons on the pavilion from time to time. If you're worried about her then know the more she worries about you the less she'll be able to concentrate on her surroundings.... Besides there is nothing that will make her worry any less about you only more." Damian sighed heavily, as if the weight of the world were on his shoulders. "Even if she knows I can defend myself? If I were more powerful, I could fight back better than I can now." Vicailde chuckled. "You could become better than Khadgar and she would worry no less. I am not saying you shouldn't train. I am simply reminding you that your mother worries not because she doesn't trust you but because she loves you." Frowning in an all-too-familiar expression, Damian lowered his eyes back to the ground. "I love her too. I'll be good. I promise. Thank you, father." Vicailde nodded turning back to the task at hand. His steed looked down at him and Frank's lips parted in a toothy grin. "So sweet." "Shut it." Vicailde muttered in his breath as he lifted the hood back into his view.
  3. Spelling Trouble

    Qabian had just stepped through the portal into the Sunfury Spire when one of the mages there waved him down. "Qabian? Brightway's looking for you." "Hm?" Qabian cringed inwardly, not looking forward to meeting the overly jovial fellow again. "Why?" "I'm not sure, but he sounded... agitated," the stranger explained. Qabian smirked. "I see. I'll handle it." He nodded and made his way towards the school. Before he got quite that far, Qabian spotted a certain red-eyed child tossing lazy spells at an innocent planter that probably recently had a shrub in it, but for the moment sprouted only twigs. Qabian leaned over the hedge towards the kid. "Been working on your technique?" "What do you care?" "If you do this when you cast," Qabian held out his hand, showing the ring finger tucked in, "You can do twice the damage." "Oh?" Damian tried it. "Oh!" He turned to Qabian. "Do I know you?" "No. And that's probably for the best," Qabian said grinning. Damian squinted toward the older elf skeptically. He may have acted older than he was, but adults still had a lot of knowledge to impart. Especially the destructive kind he was starting to feel drawn to. “Are you a Magister? Before Qabian had a chance to answer, the planter exploded. It sent small shards of ceramic into every direction, one or two scratching Damian’s face as he was nearest to it. He seemed unusually calm as he wiped a trickle of blood from his cheek. “Sorry. That was supposed to go off later,” he muttered, turning once again to Qabian in spite of the sudden damage. “Are you a Magister?” Qabian laughed as he ducked flying planter pieces then picked one out of his hair. "Yes, I am. You're not in class right now?" "No," Damian answered, frowning distastefully. "One of the boys in my class was saying stupid things so I set him on fire." Qabian laughed again. "I can't imagine your teacher liked that." The mage grinned horribly. "Is the other kid badly hurt?" Damian shrugged, as if he wasn't entirely sure. "He was crying a lot. So maybe. Professor Brightway had to douse him with water twice so I must'v got him good." "And did he deserve it?" "I wouldn't have set him on fire if he didn't," Damian said matter-of-factly, as if this were a very stupid question for an adult to ask. "He was saying things about my mother. I don't think he'll say those things again." Qabian raised an eyebrow, then shrugged. "There's only one real way to be sure of that, but you're probably right. Do you think everyone else who saw it happen is afraid of you now, too, hm?" "I hope so," he muttered irritably, kicking one of the pieces of ceramic. "He's not the only one who says things about me. I haven't done anything like that before, though. Usually I just ignore them, but... I don't know. Maybe now they'll stop. Even if my parents are upset with me, at least I won't have to hear those idiots in class talk to me like that anymore." "Does it really matter what your parents think?" Damian looked up at Qabian and squinted, as if trying to pick apart his question. "I have to live with them, so yes." Qabian narrowed his eyes in turn, mirroring Damian's squint. "Well, seems like one of two things happens now. Either when you get back to class, you'll be in charge and can get anything you want from the other kids, because who's going to mess with someone that might kill them? Or you'll get kicked out of school entirely, and I'm sure your parents will be ecstatic." He smirked. Damian folded his arms, relaxing his expression. "I know what's going to happen. My mother will forgive me when I tell her what happened. My father will make me muck the stalls, but that's all he'll do. Then I'll go back to school, because there aren't enough children in Silvermoon to fill a classroom and they're not going to kick one out for one stupid spell. They need us. Especially me." "Well, then. Sounds like you're in charge, provided there's no one else who's actually better than you." Qabian's grin and tone implied there might be. There was a pause as Damian considered the idea. He appeared skeptical, but cautiously so. "Like who?" Qabian shrugged. "How would I know?" He leaned in closer as though sharing a secret. "But no matter where you are, it can be dangerous being the most powerful. There's always someone who wants to take you down. Unless of course you can make sure they stay afraid of you. After all, you don't have to stop at making sure they don't insult your mother. You can make them do things for you, give you things, anything you can think up, as long as they're afraid." Damian stared at Qabian's face, as if trying to pick apart his meaning. After a few seconds, he said just as quietly. "...I'm not dumb enough not to know that. I don't want them to give me anything. I just want to be left alone. They'll leave me alone, now. And if they don't.." glancing down at one of his hands, the boy drew his ring finger to the palm of his hand. "I'll figure it out." Qabian stood up, straightening his robes. "Just want to be left alone, hm? You could do anything, anything at all, and that's really all you want?" The boy furrowed his eyebrows thoughtfully. Nobody ever really asked him what he wanted. " I want them to respect me. When they see my eyes, I don't want them to look at me like I'm weird." Damian frowned as he looked for the words to illustrate what he actually wanted. "I guess I want them to be afraid of me." Qabian looked even more smug, if that was possible. "Excellent. Sounds like you're well on your way." Damian raised a long silvery eyebrow. "You know it's kind of weird when a stranger stops to talk an adolescent into acts of violence. Who are you? And what's your deal?" Qabian blinked, surprised at the kid's perceptiveness. "It's not like there's anyone else doing anything interesting around here," he said, gesturing at the ordinary goings on. "And violence is just a side-effect of power, hm? But I'm also a recruiter for the Kirin Tor. I'm sure you'll forgive my interest being piqued by a seemingly promising young mage." Damian's face relaxed a little at the idea. "..that's what my mother said I should do," he said quietly, then frowned to himself, as if reminded by some kind of grim reality. "But demons talk to me. I try not to talk back, but they won't shut up. I want to become a Magister, but the fel won't leave me alone. So what do I do, there? If I make them afraid of me, I might as well be a warlock." "Demons talk to you? I suppose you mean when you wouldn't otherwise expect them to. Curious." Qabian ran his fingers over his thin beard, thoughtfully. "Well, I have no idea why your eyes are the color they are, but the rest of us, our eyes are this color because we're all a little fel. You can't avoid it, not in Silvermoon. If you try to avoid it, you've failed the sin'dorei. It's not that fel itself is the problem, but warlocks, they treat the fel lovingly, acting like demons are friends and companions, using it constantly, indulgently, rather than sparingly and only as an effective tool. Fel power should supplement the arcane, not supplant and surpass it." Qabian gestured with one hand as he crafted his speech. "And fear is absolutely a tool of mages, but we use it subtly, through shows of immense power, rather than as a hammer rammed directly through the heads of our opponents. The Kirin Tor could probably help you with your demon problem, but as a Magister, yes, we probably would encourage you to indulge in it rather than let your affinity go to waste." Damian blinked a few times, absorbing the information like a sponge. It seemed as if his situation had never been presented in such a way, though the idea of warlocks coddling their demons wasn't something he disagreed with. " it isn't bad, then. My mother said that sometimes, mages who work with fire a lot have eyes like us. She said that might be why I'm good at it, but I need to be careful or else.. I guess what happened today might happen.." He frowned to himself. "What's your specialty, mister?" Qabian grinned, holding out a hand, palm up, and letting a bright flame dance into life at its center. "Fire, of course. None of us would be alive today without a little fel influence. What happened today should probably happen every day, hm? The only reason to be careful is so you can get better at using this to get everything you want." He let the fire flicker over his fingers and across the back of his hand before closing his fist around it and snuffing it out. Damian's red eyes widened at the sight of the flame in Qabian's hand. As if to prove himself, the boy held up his own hand and produced a much smaller flame. It wasn't quite as a elegant as Qabian's, and it sputtered a little as he tried to keep focused, but it was big enough to start trouble if he willed it. "I can be careful." Qabian smirked. "Sometimes. Sometimes it's better not to be. Sometimes you just really need things to explode." "I'm not gonna kill my classmates," Damian muttered, letting the fire sputter out into a little plume of smoke. "They'd never let me back to class." Qabian nodded. "That's probably a good time to have practiced being careful, yes, so you can do exactly as much damage as you want, no more and no less. That's only if you really want to stay in that class, of course. But when I was a student, there were people who deserved no holding back. I wouldn't forget the importance of knowing how not to be careful, as well. Pure destruction can be its own reward." He raised an eyebrow at the Magister, clearly intrigued but a little concerned by his words of wisdom. "They were okay with your blowing things up in school?" "To a point," Qabian admitted. "I was encouraged in the right contexts, but I learned the basics in Dalaran. When there are human kids in your class, it's hard not to catch them behind the building after classes are over. No one who thought they were in charge would have let that happen, but smart students who are actually in charge can find ways around the people who only think they are." "Humans.." Damian repeated, shaking his head. "My mother won't let me anywhere near Dalaran. She says it's too dangerous, with how close the Legion is. I haven't left Quel'thalas in forever.. but I want to see Dalaran. I want to see Khadgar. Is he really as powerful as they say he is?" "Khadgar... has more help than he deserves, but for the moment, yes, he is extremely powerful," Qabian conceded. "It would be dangerous, but I would argue that you would learn faster there, closer to the action, able to observe the most powerful mages Azeroth has to offer. Although, it has changed a great deal. There are few sin'dorei where they should be, so you'd be more outnumbered by humans than I was, and it's more difficult to set your classmates on fire in Dalaran than it was in my day. Silvermoon has always been the best place to learn the most advanced techniques and finer points that escape humans' capacity to understand, but Dalaran certainly has its advantages today." Damian cockdd an eyebrow. "If Silvermoon is the best place to learn advanced techniques, why are they so slow to teach them? I've had to study most of the spells I know on my own, and most of the other kids in my class sant to be rangers. Or soldiers.." Qabian tapped a finger against his jaw, looking idly concerned. "Good question. That doesn't sound quite right. There has always been a tendency in Silvermoon to learn more slowly but more deeply because, well, we have more time to learn than the humans do. Humans have to learn things faster because they get old and die before they can learn the intricacies of how and why magic works. But avoiding teaching techniques to students who already have the skills to learn them? That doesn't serve anyone." "So what am I supposed to di?" Damian asked, impatience obvious in his voice. "Wait? What happens if my parents die in the field? I'd be alone again, and all those idiots in the council will go after our estate. I have to learn now, and protect my home. I'm not just some stupid kid whp wants to blow things up. I need to protect my home." "Why? What's in your home that you're protecting?" Damian opened his mouth to answer, but actually held back. "...just.. things. Important things." Qabian raised an eyebrow, curious. "There are reasons to protect this city, protect our people, protect our world from the Legion, but in that scope, an individual estate doesn't seem particularly important. Money is only money, and mobile, can be invested and reinvested anywhere. Your home is wherever you are, when you have the power to protect yourself, but I suspect you have other motives to want to keep people off your parents' property. That... is another matter. I could attempt to convince your professors that you need better instruction for your own well-being. Or you could attempt to convince your mother that your training should be happening in Dalaran, danger be damned." Damian furrowed his eyebrows thoughtfully. The choices laid out to him were both difficult, yet each had their merits. "After what I did... do you think they would listen to you? I can be patient, here. My mother has enough things to worry about," he added, remorse finally making an appearance. "I don't want to distract her." "Setting a fellow student on fire is probably already going to distract her. My mother was never a concern for me, so I have little advice for you there," Qabian said with a half-smile. "I can, of course, talk to your teachers. I'm sure I already know some of them, but being who I am and your... aptitude, they'll likely counter that you should be sent to the Kirin Tor, and then we're right back to your mother again." Damian twisted his mouth in consideration, though how much he cared for his mother's opinion was debatable. "...she'll have to understand, then. If that's the only way for me to be as strong as possible, then there's no reasonable argument to hold me back." "That's a good way to think of it." Qabian shrugged. He was a little disappointed that he hadn't simply convinced the boy to set his classmates on fire, as that had been the real goal. "After all, she can't live your life for you. Only you can do that." Damian folded his arms and shifted his feet. "So who are you, mister?" "My name is Grimfire. You know it?" "No," he answered honestly. "But you know me, and that's a little weird. I didn't know the Kirin Tor recruited kids my age." "I know you now, because I saw you out in the street casting spells instead of being a good student and I was amused." Qabian smirked. "And they don't usually, but they make a few exceptions, here and there. Given the far-too-many-humans state of Dalaran these days, I'd be remiss not to look in this city to attempt to fix that problem." "You don't like humans, do you?" Damian asked skeptically. "I've never seen one. Well, Steinburg, but he's Forsaken.. are they really as stupid as I heard? They can't all be, if Khadgar is so strong. Plus, Jaina Proudmoore. Right?" "Jaina tried to remove the sin'dorei from Dalaran entirely. She succeeded temporarily. Her people should be removed from the face of this planet entirely. And Khadgar, like I said, has help. Humans do nothing but degrade the quality of magic all across Azeroth. They do whatever they can to steal the power we've earned and keep us from attaining power that is rightfully ours. The day we agreed to share magic with them was a mistake we've been paying for ever since. They should have been left to wallow in the filth that birthed them." Qabian's expression turned dark as he ranted. Damian smiled a little. It was clear he touched a nerve in this adult, and the idea was strangely satisfying. "Yeah. So. You don't like humans," he said with a smug little smirk. "I guess the best thing to do is fix the mistakes we made and be stronger than they are. My mother said Proudmoore did what she did because she was afraid of us. Maybe the problem is they aren't scared enough." Distracted dwelling on his own anger, Qabian simply nodded. "Precisely, provided they were scared enough to go back underground where they belong and never emerge. Although, I would prefer they be less afraid and more dead, there is only so much that can be done about that at present." Damian's red eyes twinkled at the sight of the enraged Magister before him. "You really like killing people," he noted, looking him over again. "My mother kills people, too. Lots of people. She says it doesn't bother her because she does it so much. Is that what happened to you? Or do you just like it?" Qabian narrowed his eyes at the boy. The mage had his own thoughts about the boy's mother, but couldn't exactly express them to her own son. He hesitated a moment, then grinned. "I believe I confessed that I started early, hm? I always liked it." "Early?" Long pale eyebrows lifted, genuinely curious now. These were things his family would not discuss; actual carnage, and the possibility in taking joy in it. "How early? My age?" "Mmhm, or close at least." Damian swallowed. "..who'd you kill? Another student? How did you do it?" "Like I said, convinced him to meet us behind the school building. He had a terrible accident trying to cast magic he didn't know how to use." Qabian's grin was awful. "Of course, I wasn't alone, as I suspect you might be, if all your fellow students really are being funneled into careers without magic." Damian frowned at the idea. "Everyone wants to be a Paladin. Or a ranger. With the Burning Legion so close, they're afraid of the fel, and I don't think anyone has the patience to learn the arcane. I think our professor frightened them off when he said how long it took to really master the arts. But they're either lazy or stupid.. besides. My father is a soldier, and it never brought him any happiness. Just...a lot of trouble. I don't see the point." Qabian nodded, his hideous grin giving way to an odd, distant look. "Mm. My father was a soldier. I never met him. That's what being a soldier gets you, the losing side of the fights that matter. I suppose in a sense you'll get your kills that way if you stand aside so they can walk onto the front lines. It certainly doesn't feel as good as doing the job with your own hands." "Or with fire," he countered, frowning a little. "My father does everything with his hands. He even works outside. Makes me work outside so I'll know what it's like. I've seen what war does to soldiers, and I've seen what war does to Magisters.." Damian smirked again. "I think I'd rather not be the one with my head bashed in." Qabian makes an intricate gesture in the air, twisting his wrist, a series of tiny flames flickering around his upper arm and between his fingers. "Precisely. I use my hands, hm? But I don't have to touch a thing. They fall to their knees, then collapse, and they never stand again. A body can burn for hours, like a hundred candles at once. Or you add a little more heat, and there's nothing left at all. Whoever it was who stood in your way is nothing more than ash on the breeze. There's satisfaction to it you'll never find anywhere else." Damian watched the flames as if he were watching a dance, something beautiful to be admired. As he watched, the young Sin'dorei began to mimic the movements, raising one of his hands to imitate Qabian's gesture. Flames covered his hand like a glove, less beautiful than the Magister's, but bright as his eyes that seemed to glow with more intensity. It looked less like a dance and more like a small bonfire at the end of his wrist. "The fire didn't go out right away," he said quietly, staring at his hand. "The Professor had to douse him twice. It was stronger than normal fire." Qabian smiled, seeing memories he thought he'd lost in the boy's crude but earnest magic. Then his smile turned cruel, as it tended to do. "And you're sure you didn't want him to die?" Blinking slowly, Damian turned his gaze from his hand to the magister. "Just because you want something doesn't mean you should do it. There aren't a lot of us left. If I killed other children, there'd be even less. Even if he's stupid, he's still useful. I guess." Qabian frowned. His memories of the time the kid had been born were fragmented at best, and there was no real point in arguing the state of reality with a child. "The numbers are irrelevant. Ensuring a people continues by allowing the morons and mistakes," he paused on the word, "to continue simply because they're genetically correct is a sure path to disaster. His lack of importance might be a better reason. If he was merely annoying rather than offensive and simply needed to be taught a lesson rather than eliminated, fair enough. The best reason to avoid killing him, though, would be self-preservation. If you had murdered him in full view of everyone, you'd be facing far greater consequences than a temporary removal from the classroom and a stern talking-to from your parents, hm? Still, how badly you want something can have a measurable effect on the magnitude of your spells." "I guess I didn't really want to kill him," Damian admitted, shrugging. "Just hurt him enough to scare him. I don't know anyone I want to actually kill, yet." Qabian looked skeptical. "That seems difficult to believe. My implication was that you did, and that's why your magic was more powerful than expected, but that mitigating circumstances and lack of experience held you back." Damian rolled his eyes. "If I wanted to kill him, I would have set more than his clothes on fire. I'm not a complete idiot. But that wouldn't get me anywhere. I might be susprended for a few days, but when I get back, they'll think twice about talking about my mother that way." "And why do they talk about your mother that way?" "Because people are afraid of what they don't understand, and saying stupid things about things they're afraid of makes them feel better." He scratched his nose. "So simple childish malice directed at the easiest target, and not because she actually did something to earn the distaste of your peers?" Damian shrugged. "She's common, I guess. And my father is a lot older than her. I guess it looks strange, but only idiots without anything better to do worry about things like that." "So you never agree with anyone who says disparaging things about your mother?" "I guess it depends on what they say." Qabian smirked. "That's good. Wouldn't want to deny a truth just because you didn't like the way it sounded, hm?" Damian's red eyes drifted over Qabian's face. "What kind of truth?" Qabian shrugged. "Being common and marrying someone half in the grave might not be worth insulting, but having no integrity, or being a murderer out of repetitive laziness, or whatever incentive it is she has to prevent you from becoming more powerful might be worth criticizing, hm?" "I'm pretty sure she's just overprotective," Damian countered, tilting his head critically. "But she and my father have been fighting hard on the Broken Shore, so anyone who criticizes her integrity is just wrong. At least she's out there, fighting. She's got some really powerful things out there, too. I think they're just jealous of how powerful she's gotten." "That's possible. Are you?" "No. She's my mother," Damian said dismissively. "I like her scythe, though. She uses it to steal souls." "Hm. If my mother dropped me in a school where they failed to teach me proper spellwork then went around collecting powerful items without the slightest concern about my power, and helping me to be the best I can, I would have been rather frustrated." Damian smirked a little. "I'm seven years old, sir. I don't have any reason to be that frustrated with my mother. Especially not if she lets me go to Dalaran." "I suppose I can agree with that." Qabian folded his arms. "Do you know why they left you alone before?" Damian furrowed his brow. "..I know my father was missing in battle. My mother went after him. I guess it took them a while to find each other." "Were you angry?" The boy lowered his eyes. "..a little. Yes." Qabian grinned, slight this time, but just as smug. "Why?" "Because.. I think they care more about each other than they do about me," he admitted. "That's why she keeps me so close, now. To try and show me that's not true." Qabian's grin grew wider. "I think you're right, but she has to do her best to convince you it's not true, doesn't she? She can't just let you be angry, even if it's for a true and real reason." Damian ran a hand through his hair. "I guess. I guess she has to try. Or at least she feels like she does. I don't know.. how did you know they left me alone?" Qabian hesitated. "Didn't you say? When you mentioned why you needed power quickly? They might die and leave you alone again, hm?" Damian tilted his head to one side. "..yeah. I guess so. But I guess that could happen to anyone in wartime. Better to be prepared, just in case, right?" Qabian relaxed, then nodded with a smirk. "Next time they're forced to choose between you and each other, you need to be ready to be left alone. You convince your mother, hm?" "I will," he said with a nod. "Will you be in the field?" "I..." Qabian paused, only now recognizing he might have gotten into something more complicated than he intended. "Yes." "Oh," Damian seemed a little disappointed. "So you wouldn't be around to do any training yourself." Qabian grimaced, a bad attempt at hiding his complete distaste for the idea behind some kind of neutrality. "I... I'm sure I'll help with some of it. After all, there aren't many who can match my skill with fire and what's the point of any of it if you aren't learning from the best?" Why not pile lies upon more lies. It wouldn't be too long before it all blew up in his face. Damian smiled genuinely. "Well, then I guess I'll see you again soon. Sir. Thank you." Qabian bowed low. "I suppose I should ask your name, hm? Though I'm sure it'll be easy to tell which one is you." He made an offhand gesture at his eyes. "Damian Bloodstone," the boy answered easily, bowing respectfully. "Sir." "Right then." Qabian gave a lazy salute. "See you around." He turned on his heel to leave. Damian watched him leave, his smile once again growing into a skeptical frown. Qabian made his way back toward the school, figuring he should at least talk to Brightway. He couldn't help but laugh to himself. If nothing else, he'd made a mess. He doubted the kid would actually make it as far as murder any time soon, but it seemed some sort of disruption of the Bloodstone family's status quo was inevitable, which was all he'd really been after.
  4. Spelling Trouble

    The next day was an interesting one for Damian’s schoolmates. It began as usual; lectures as young Sin’dorei boys and girls forced themselves to sit and listen to Professor Brightway. Their instructor was loud enough for his voice to carry throughout the small room, but he seemed intent on being as loud as possible anyway. With so few children to teach, the volume was wholly unnecessary. Damian’s lip twitched, irate. “Hey Bloodsnatch,” came a whisper nearby, a boy Damian’s age who sat beside him. He had the ruddy face of a Farstrider, the kind of child who preferred to leap from trees than listen to the history of the troll wars. “Fix your mouth.” Damian’s red eyes turned to glance at the boy, but for the most part he tried to ignore him. Brightway’s back turned to his students as he wrote the names of famous military leaders on the board using his wand. “Hey Blood-fuck-face,” the boy continued, cupping both hands around his mouth, though it seemed Brightway wasn’t capable of hearing anyone’s voice outside of his own. “I like your mom’s tits.” Brightway wasn’t altogether sure how it happened, but the high pitched scream of a child was certainly not what he intended on hearing that morning. Turning to face the room of quickly scattering students, he watched in horror as young F'enahriel Sunwhisper’s clothes burst into flame and ran around the room in a circle. The other children screamed in a panic until Brightway had the good sense to cast a small torrent of water toward Sunwhisper, extinguishing the flames. Temporarily. In an instant, they were alight again, and the screaming continued. The professor sent another torrent of water through his wand, this time far more intense, creating a wave that covered nearly half the students and thoroughly soaking the flaming child. Sunwhisper stood with his arms outstretched, breathing heavily for a moment until a torrent of his own tears covered his face. “Someone get me a priest!!” Brightway shouted, rushing toward Sunwhisper, careful not to actually touch him. The other children backed away. Well, the other children with one exception. “Bloodstone!!” Brightway shouted, glaring at the only child in the room with a smile on his face. “Out! Now!!” The platinum blonde didn’t need any further instruction. He calmly left the school yard and walked into Silvermoon to spend the rest of his afternoon.
  5. Spelling Trouble

    Despite the rumors, Damian wasn’t quite as much of an asshole as people insinuated. At least he didn’t think so, not when they said as much to his face. The Sin’dorei child was average as far as looks went; silvery blonde curls, a tan complexion, fit for a elven boy of seven years. What set him apart physically, making him the target of taunts and rumors, were his red eyes. Though not unheard of for fire mages or warlocks to have eyes of that color, especially when casting spells, it was certainly unusual for them to appear that way since birth. Having possessed them for all seven years of his life thus far, Damian Bloodstone had never known what it was like to disappear among the other children his age. Especially not after his parents disappeared. Two years of nothing. One moment they were perfectly happy, if not a little strange. His father an aging landlord with an estate worth more than he could comprehend, his mother a warlock with a hobby of singing bawdy songs to reprobates in taverns. At least, that’s what the other children told him. All Damian knew was that they loved him, and one day they were gone. That was the day his world changed, and rather than being a normal boy who went to school and studied with all the other surviving Sin’dorei children, he became the surviving Lord Bloodstone. Heir to his family’s estate, with a seat on a council. He had help, of course. Steinburg, their family’s Forsaken friend, educated Damian on what was being said when it was important. For two years he listened to adults bicker about land rights, encroaching trolls, constant war. It made school seem small. It made the other children look less like his peers, and more like children. He was not like them. It was more than his eyes. He was their superior, even if they didn’t understand why. But his parents did return, and with them, a semblance of normalcy. No longer required to attend council meetings, Damian went to school and went home to “play”. Except who was there to play with, now? Steinburg? He prefered to study. With both of his parents constantly summoned to the field, and the Legion attacking harder than ever, he knew there always was a threat of them not coming back. He knew he had to prepare, just in case. Which was why the package of books delivered to his desk by Steinburg came as no surprise. His mother understood his “hobbies” and would often purchase books for him, despite encouraging him to play outside once in a while. He waited until the evening to unwrap his package, forgetting about it until after dinner when he usually went upstairs to read. The Kirin Tor symbol was unexpected. As were the books’ topics. His mother wasn’t typically the sort to encourage destructive magic. In fact, most of the books she provided were historical in nature. These were different. Instructional. Something his teachers might have discouraged should he ask about them in class. Was it any surprise he spent the night reading them?
  6. It was midday in Quel'thalas when Ninorra and Draco appeared in the warlock's home. They materialized in the sitting room, still in robes and armor from their mission to Draenor. "Much better," Ninorra sighed, pulling down her hood to shake out her hair. The sitting room was obviously decorated by her, as leopard print throws lay on most of the red and black furniture. Draco scanned the room, ensuring that no one else was within the area. “Is it safe… to remove my helm now?” "Quite safe," Ninorra said as she leaned her scythe against the umbrella stand. "Damian is in school, and will be until the afternoon. As for my husband, I have an addition in my contract that allows him to know of you. I didn't want any unseemly rumors concerning me gallavanting about with another knight getting back to him." The Knight gave another sound acknowledging her before removing his helm. His cropped silvery white hair is slight disarray from the constant use of the armor. Oh how he missed the comfort of his own designs, empowered by modern Scryer advances, rather than the hunk of metal he had about him. He set the helm upon the coffee table before beginning to remove his gauntlets as he finally responded with a, “I do not wish to put your family at risk.” "My family is quite safe. We have security measures of our own. My husband is quite the accomplished engineer," she explained, removing her own gloves before retrieving the dreamcather artifact from one of her pockets. "Now, supposedly this little trinket has a way of blocking nightmares when worn. Useful, I'm certain.. but I wonder what else it can do? If there is some sort of connection to ones dreams. Tell me, Draco, are you up for a little experiment?" “…Are you that tired already?” He asked as a pale brow raised. Ninorra grinned. "Oh, I wasn't thinking of exploring my own dreams." “I am dead Ninorra, I do not dream.” He sighs as he seems to have to explain this again. “I do not even require sleep; it is terribly dull in those hours. I have meant to ask if you could get me records of what has happened since I was killed, actually.” Ninorra waved a hand dismissively. "I can get you the records that you require, but you are wrong about your not having dreams. Your mind still works, does it not? That means you still have a subconscious. You may not need to sleep, but that does not mean your dreams do not exist." “Who is to say I came back fully? I may be an echo of the man I was.” The Knight sat down on one of the sofas within the sitting room, specifically that in front of his armor. “I may only operate due to the Arcane Intelligence in my head, did you consider that?” Ninorra shrugged and sat opposite of him on one of the large cushy looking chairs. "Perhaps we should find out then. If at least to put your mind to rest." “What is the point at current? My mind is clear and at rest, I am focused on what I was brought back to do: End the Legion threat. I am a Weapon for our people, the only reason I was chosen specifically and allowed to think is because I serve best as a Smart Weapon. Not just a mindless killing machine. If we wanted that, we could carpet bomb the isles with Dreadlances—assuming they figured out the propellant problem.” "The point is to find out just how useful this artifact can be. Have you considered the possibilities of being able to invade someone's dream? Imagine a target of high importance. The secrets we could learn. Of course," she smirked at Draco and crossed one leg over the other. "I know you have no such secrets, which is why you would make a good test subject." “So that was your plan all along was it?” He gave a bitter laugh. “How did I not see this coming? You were assigned to me in order to learn what I kept from people. Who exactly are you working for?” The Knight began to stand. Ninorra cocked her head, amused. "I work for our people, of course. Who do you think I work for? I am the same girl you knew, all those years ago. I have not changed. Why not allow me to show you? Unless you are afraid I might find something less than savory in that mind of yours?" “But who exactly? I know things…” he shakes his head. “I am not worried IF you will find out something I have classified—and for good reason—but WHAT you will find. And I classified things for a reason. You do not walk the line I have without doing some things that you are not proud of.” Ninorra stood and looked Draco in the eye as best she could. "You know there is nothing I will judge you for. Whatever happened is in the past. This is a new day, and you have a new life. Even if it is not conventional, it is still a life of sorts. I know your heart, and I still believe it to be in the right place. If not a bit misguided.." she added with a smirk. "I am the last person you need to worry about judging you." “And yet you avoid telling me who it is you report to.” His eyes narrowed. "I report to Raeventus," she answered, shrugging. "You understand that I am supposed to be giving him updates. They needn't be anything of a personal nature, though. Your secrets are safe with me, but I fear you will not believe me until I prove myself, somehow. Hmm.." The warlock looked around for a moment, as if searching for something. She picked up one if the pillows and placed it on the sofa, sitting down on it to elevate herself. She beckoned him over with her palms facing upwards. "Take my hands. Let me show you exactly what has happened since you have been gone." His brows furrowed at the name. It was clear, from his confusion; he did not know this person. He was trying to find a delicate way of putting this as he processed this information. He would slowly do as she asked before he finally gave his rebuttal. “Personal information is not what I am worried about, I am dead, my history will eventually be dug into and explored. I am more concerned with my professional decisions, those with ripples that could affect our race, being discovered and put into jeopardy.” "Draco," Ninorra said firmly. "Sit down. I am not going to put our race in jeopardy. Your father trusted me, because he had the patience to listen. I am on your side. Let me prove it to you." “I never said you would do so willingly,” he sat down, taking the warlock’s hands. "Secrets are kept for a reason, however." "I have very few secrets," she admitted, her eyes glowing brightly. Ninorra sang a tune low in her voice, the glow of her eyes appearing in Draco's as she allowed him access to her memories. What Draco saw was a manic speed-through of portions of the warlock’s life. How hopeless and lonely she felt when Gladius died and Draco left, how she found hope in her ability to communicate with demons. How she met Vicailde in a bar while performing, and how cruel he was until they eventually fell in love. The war in Outland, her tireless work for the Scryers. The war in Northrend, the painful and difficult birth of her son. The Cataclysm, Sanctuary's betrayal. Ninorra aiding Vilmah, a fugitive of Garrosh's regime. Vicailde serving in the military as Ninorra remained behind during the campaign in Pandaria, researching her fel powers as she raised her son. The campaign in Draenor, Vicailde's disappearance, Ninorra and Corvallis traveling to another future to rescue him. The Legion's attack, the Isles. Her meeting with the Scryers, her instructions for handling Draco. In between all of this, her tumultuous romance with Vicailde, glimpses of violence, blood magic, and the overwhelming fear of eventually succumbing to the fel. It went by so fast that by the time she was finished, it was almost as if no time had lapsed. "As you can see," she said as the glow left Draco's eyes. "I am nothing if not loyal. Now you know everything." “…I never claimed you were disloyal. It is who you work for, the unknown factor, or a misstep that forces everything to collapse I fear. I have done things, ordered things to be done, that I would not allow others to know—including my widow and my adopted brother. Are you certain you wish to see these? I… am not proud of some of the things I have done to protect us, but I would do them all over again, to ensure the salvation of our people—even if through my own personal damnation.” Ninorra nodded, her hands in his were very warm, as if she'd been holding them close to a fire. "I am sure, and I want you to know that you are still yourself. You may not dream, but I imagine your dreams remain. I think that if I can use a similar spell, with the dreamcatcher as a guide, perhaps I can see them. Shall we try?" “How can you be certain, even if you find what you are looking for?” "I suppose we will find out together," she said with a calm smile. "That is what experiments are for." Draco still looked dubious at this idea. “…As you say…” Ninorra took a deep breath and held on to Draco's hands, singing a similar tune under her breath. Once again, the red of her eyes took over Draco's, but this time it also surrounded the dreamcatcher. Unlike before, Ninorra would find herself standing in a dark empty space. She seemed to have a physical form in this place, and was dressed as she was in life. "Draco?" She called, her voice echoing. "Draco, it's me. Are you there?" As soon as she made her presence known, the area exploded with the blue that emanated from his eyes. ‘Intruder’ her own mind would echo at her. But as she called him for a second time geometric shapes would form, slowly creating an image of the man she asked for. ‘Why are you here?’ The formed image would look at her, a brow raised. “Yes?” "I'm here to see your dreams," she answered earnestly. "To see if you still possess them." “I told you, I am dead. The dead do not dream.” The image shook his head sadly. “How are you even intending to make this work?” "Your mind is intact. That much is certain. Perhaps it is just a matter of letting yourself feel, again." She spread her arms. "This place is your mind. You can project any image you like. You are in full control." ‘He doesn’t want to cooperate.’ The Man sighed. ‘This is a fool’s errand.’ “And do what? Live out my failures once more? Reminisce on the bygone eras?” "Whatever it is you want to see," she shrugged. "What is it you would want to dream of, if you could? What are your happiest thoughts? The moments that brought you your greatest joy, that made you who you are. Remember them, and they will guide you." “Why? What is the point in this? I failed, I do not deserve Joy.” ‘He won’t listen, I should go.’ “Father would have done a much better job…” "Your father was so proud of you," she said gently, approaching the image. "He would still be proud of you, if he were here. You were his joy, even in the end." “’Was’ being to operative word, Ninorra. I am not the son he left behind, not any longer—nor, I fear, that I shall ever see him again.” ‘He’s too stubborn; I should leave him to his misery if that is what he desires.’ "Your father lives in you. In your memories of him, he is still alive. Perhaps that is what you should see," she suggested. "I think it is what you need, now. To see him again. Remember for me. Can you?" The Man looked at the Warlock a moment; with a sigh his hand move seemed dismissive as he faded away from existence. “Three against one is not fair.” The world of sapphire would fade to black… Ninorra remained within the dream, calling out to Draco as the world faded to black. "Draco? Draco!" She started to panic a little. "Don't leave me here, please," she pleaded. "Don't leave me alone.." “War is not fair, Draco.” Before Ninorra stood the massive Lord Gladius Visca, he was dressed in full combat regalia. In both arms he carried his legendary blades, those which had murdered thousands of trolls in the wars that made him Legend. His single remaining blue eye stared slightly downward at her… much less so than she would remember previously. “War is about winning or losing to the commanding officers, it is about little more than survival to the average solider. There is no room for the concept of fairness. They will do anything to survive, and even worse… Humans breed far faster than ourselves. Above you, yes, stand your brother and Voren—but your training provides you with the edge needed to counter them. You have been keeping up with your training, correct?” Ninorra watched the scene unfold around her. The sight of Gladius hale and hearty took the breath from her chest. "..yes," she found herself saying, an ache in her heart. “Of course, Father.” The voice of Draco would come out of… her mouth? In her right hand she carried a long tower shield, the other a twin edged Glaive. Her… His outfit would be one also resembling the Spellbreaker attire she had seen all the guards of Silvermoon wear. As she looked around the courtyard of Visca Manor, she would see two men on opposite sides of them. Both mages. “We’ll find out if you are lying soon enough, won’t we?” Gladius gave a mischievous grin before getting in a readied stance. Ninorra would find herself mirroring such with Glaive and Shield. “And… Begin!” Her… His body would barely have time to raise the shield before the first attack came. The force felt like the world was crashing down upon them, the shockwave ripping through their right arm. Ninorra tried to stay calm as the memory flowed through her, but could not help but feel exhilarated as she fought in Draco's body. The shock of Gladius' attack, combined with his ferocity, was impressive. She felt herself smile within the memory. Unable to withstand the sheer power of the strike head on, Draco’s arm would move to roll the blade away as he saw the second one coming in for the kill. It took fast thinking in order to move out of the way, the glaive being used to help ensure that the narrow escape worked as intended. Then came the assaults from the rooftops, the constant stinging barrage of frost magic. To counter this, he manipulated his mana to form a shield to defend him from its harmful effects. That would help him keep his focus where it needed to be, but it was too slow—he found himself checked by a knee to the chest. “You have to think and react faster than that, Son. I could have killed you right there.” Ninorra felt the wind knocked out of Draco's body and winced. The training seemed brutal from her perspective, but she understood the necceccity. “…I know. You do not have to remind me.” Grunted Draco from the pain, he tried to focus on his breath to recover as quickly as possible, as he moved to reset his guard. He moved his shield back into position. His mind focusing off the frost strikes above him as his mana guarded him. His target was his father, the main threat. The two would begin to circle, looking for any opening they could get against each other. Draco held his glaive out like one would a spear, beyond his shield. Gladius had his massive twin warblades at the ready for any sort of attack. All the while, the assault of frost continued, draining his supply of mana that was used to protect him. He could not simply remain this way; he would pass out of exhaustion first. He needed a plan. "He trained you well', Ninorra thought, studying the fighting style of both men, memories of Draco's thoughts drifting through her mind. 'There is no mercy in war, and war was in his blood.' Ninorra could feel his lips twist for just a moment into a smirk before his muscles prepped to spring into motion. The movement was sudden, a step forward as if to strike—prompting the giant of an elf to spring forward towards the challenge. In came the next wave of his devastating assault at the Spellbreaker’s form that had seemingly made a tactical error, striking too eagerly. Even worse, the young Draco seemed to step towards his doom. But rather than move out of the way, it proved to be a feint. The younger man’s muscles snapped into action, forcing his shield forward to greet both blades as he hid behind it for just a second before rolling with the move onto the right hand side of his father. His blind spot. Gladius tried to predict where exactly his son had moved, swung his blade; but missed. Even worse, it had given Draco just the opening he needed. His glaive quickly found itself resting at the side of his father’s neck. And for the first time ever, Draco uttered the words: “Dead, Father.” Ninorra grinned. The joy of Draco's first first time winning in combat against his father radiated through him. There was pride, but also accomplishment. 'Well done,' she thought warmly. 'I can see why he was so proud.' Lord Gladius Visca glared at the blade at his neck; the seriousness still remained upon his face. He did not look like the one who had just been bested, in spite of the glaive. His hands raised as he dropped his blades. One waved off the assaults from the men above—and then vibrations could be felt from the metal around the man’s neck down into Draco’s arm. For a moment, there would be uncertainly. This had never happened before, and then it became audible. A deep chuckle as a smile carved through Gladius’s stern face. “You used my old war injury against me, you’re learning. Well done Draco. Now put that away and give your old man a hug.” Ninorra laughed a little, happily watching the display. For a moment she felt her own emotions regarding Gladius, and longed to speak to him as herself. 'How I miss him,' she thought. 'You were so lucky, Draco. I never had a father, but I could tell yours was one of the best.' The scene would melt back into the blue abyss, her falling out of Draco’s form. “I did…. He was a great man, he warned me all my life of the Kirin Tor’s betrayal. He trained me to stop them when it came. Instead I fell for the lies, I worked with them, and they slaughtered our people.” "Their cruelty was not your doing. We all make mistakes, but you can not blame yourself for others' evil deeds. You have given your life for our people, and I am grateful." She looked around for his form again. "I want to help you. I want you to feel that pride, again. That joy. I know it is difficult, but your mind is alive, and though your heart is broken, we can mend it. I believe in you." “The most important thing is to stop the Legion. Pride and Joy will be meaningless if the world is consumed in Fel-fire. I need to do what I was brought back to do. Afterwards, when my duty is complete, then we can look at caring for old veterans if that is what you truly desire.” "You misunderstand. Stopping the Legion is my goal as well. I want peace for our people, and safety. But I know from experience what a broken heart can do to someone. It distracts you, it hurts those around you. If you are going to fight at your strongest, it must be with a clear mind and a whole heart. Do you understand? This is not frivolity. This is necceccity." “All the more reason for me to remain disconnected from my old life. I am fine, Ninorra, and while the concern is… touching, I suppose. We do not have time for this. Every second we waste is another second gained as an advantage against the Legion. We do not have time to mourn the dead or attempt to ‘heal’ the dead.” "On the contrary. If you do not give yourself time to mourn, you can not move forward. Besides.." She looked around in the darkness. "What do you have to lose? You will not defeat the Legion by yourself, not in your state. Your bloodlust is out of control, your anger could put you in danger. Put me in danger. I am doing this not just for you, but for both our sake. Can you not see this? Please, you saw my memories. You saw the consequences of uncontrollable savagery. Please." “I am not interested in a pity party; I kept going in life in spite of everything I lost… I will do the same in death. And we keep marching, we keep fighting… when we win, our sacrifices will hopefully not be in vain. War is not for mercy or kindness, it is not fair. It will keep taking from us; the only response is to fight back.” "And you will get us killed," she argued. "What then? What happens when one of us falls because you were too busy being a murderer, and can't remember what it means to be your father's son?" The image of the man glared at the Warlock. “I would not expect you to understand. Get out.” "You don't expect anything from me," she said spitefully. It was clear she felt hurt. "You never did. You think it's all about you and your fight, that you are the only one who can save us. But you've forgotten what you're even fighting for, and that is not the person Gladius was proud of." “Everyone I have ever trusted has either abandoned me or died.” She would feel herself being pushed away from him as he spoke. “I know what I fight for, Ninorra. I fight for a people I can no longer be part of. For a place that is no longer my home. I fight so others can live. I Died so that others could live.” "You are not dead!" She shouted. "You are here, all around me.. why do you want to be dead so badly?" “But I am! Look at me! I am but a revenant of who I was, stolen from the peace of the grave for my tireless work towards our people’s salvation! Stolen away from my family!” The force continued to push her away from him, “My father, my mother, my brother and sister… my wife, my two sons…” the vision of him dulled away into nothingness. "They live through you, Draco," she said gently "You remember them. Their love for you, this is their legacy. You cannot let that legacy die. You must live for them, for yourself. You are not dead." Ninorra would find herself returned back upon the sofa in her sitting room, his Spellbreaker training had forced the spell to being finished. Here should be face to face with a very pissed off Knight with sapphire eyes that peered at her. “Look at me. I was a man of righteousness, who fell in battle and was brought back by… whatever they did to me. I may look alive, but I am Dead and cursed to walk in the world of the living once more to fight your battles. I does not matter how I feel about it, these are the facts. I have gotten over them, as should you.” Ninorra looked tired. She lowered her head in defeat. "Alright, Draco. I will not argue with you. I can not make you do anything. I only thought.." She reached up and rubbed her forehead. "..I only thought you might like to see him, again. As much as I did." “I miss him, more than you can know… but it is over.” He sighed, “…It is all over. At least we have each other, for now." "For a long time," she corrected, grabbing his hands. This time she looked at him. "I do not intend on leaving this world anytime soon. I expect you to do the same." “We shall see.” He didn’t look at her. “…Eventually all die, and I shall be stuck here. To watch the Quel’thalas, alone.” "Perhaps. Until then," she reached for the dreamcatcher and pulled it off of her neck. "Stay here, with me. You don't have to be alone, and you can be yourself here. I have to take this artifact back to Baern, and tell the Scryers about our mission. Stay here. It can be a second home to you, if you like." “I put you too much at risk, Ninorra.” He shook his head. “If those who don’t know of my return stop by…” "Nobody just 'stops by'. We have security measures that I think would impress you. Besides," she stood and nodded toward the door. "My husband is allowed to know of you, per my contract, and my son will know you only as another knight. I know it is not your real home, but.. allow me to try." “When it comes to defenses and security measures, I am quite hard to impress.” He gave a teasing smirk, “However… I shall take your word that they will be adequate. I will allow you to try to house me, for the time being. I simply do not wish to cause your family harm. Intentional or not.” "I trust you won't burn it down, then," she said happily, beckoning him to follow her upstairs with a hand. "Come, I'll show you where you can stay. You can have your privacy, and I can fill one if these sad and empty rooms."
  7. Accidental Use of Geekiness

    "Accidentally"... I dressed as Wonder Woman to vote.
  8. The Twisting Nether Weekly

    A new weekly publication has entered the streets of Dalaran. Despite it being new, apparently this is the 223rd issue.
  9. Ninorra walked through the portal, her hands itching for something to hold onto. She hummed a quiet tune, summoning her scythe from it's resting place in one of her enchanted bags. Holding on to the enormous weapon gave the warlock a sense of security. It glowed a familiar red color, similar to the warlock's eyes that iluminated the space in front of her as she walked into the unfamiliar room. Looking around for something to ground her, Ninorra paused to look behind her and saw that the portal leading to the room was gone. With a deep calming breath, she took another step forward and called out to anyone who might hear her. "..hello?" Her cursory glances would reveal a well lit and decently sized room, the shelves along the walls filled with various tomes. Behind her, where one may have expected a portal to return was a wall mounted mirror intended for someone much larger than herself with the markings of Sin'dorei craftsmanship. As she called out, a voice in the corner of the room at a desk responded. “You don’t need to shout. Miss… Bloodstone, I assume?” The owner of the voice was a blonde gentleman with handsome features, his voice invited warmth, all seemed to clash with the black robes he wore that covered all but his framed face. Where Vathelan’s glasses were rounded, this man’s were thin and square. “It is good to finally see some results from Frostwhisper.” Ninorra turned to the blonde gentleman with glasses and smiled, surprised by his cordial nature. "Oh! My apologies. Yes, I am Ninorra Bloodstone." Walking toward his desk, she spared a glance at the room around her. The tomes especially caught her eye, and she made a mental note of them as she turned back to face the bespectacled elf. "Vathelan was kind enough to lead me here. I am the 'handler', as it were." “A pleasure, would you prefer me to address you as ‘Miss’ or ‘Lady’?” For the first time in their meeting, it seemed his full attention came to her. As she looked around once more she may even notice how the room seemed to be of Dalaran architecture, though the furnishings seemed much more Elven in nature. The books seemed to be of a wide variety of subjects, ordered thusly. “You may address me as ‘House’, if you so wish. My honorific is unimportant.” "Ninorra will do," she replied, extending a hand toward House, smiling mischeviously. "I take more pride in being a fel-slinging bard than a lady." “As you wish, Ninorra.” He took the hand offered, one curling his fingers around her own the other resting above them his moves are gentle and refined. As close as he was, she may notice images forming in his spectacles and the Scryer tabard in a black scheme upon his chest. “I must say, you are a cut above most who visit.” The warlock shook House's hand gently and cocked her head, regarding him curiously. "Oh? You must not have many visitors," she jested, throwing the gentleman a wink. "Though I must say, it is rather difficult to find your office. I would imagine that might considerably limit good company." “The Director’s orders, I am afraid.” His eyes were piercing behind the frames of which he viewed the world from, only further accentuated by his small smirk. “But I am sure you are anxious to get started?” Ninorra grinned, her grip tightening on her scythe, red eyes flashing just a little more brightly. "Absolutely. Lead the way, House." “You have one more trip to make before you make it to our compound where we keep Him, I am afraid.” He let’s go of the woman’s hand, turning about face and heading deeper into this mysterious area. “Him being kept here could have proven… disastrous. When you arrive at your final destination, the Director will need to go over some finer points of your duties as well as issue you some equipment to help aide you in your attempts to keep Him under your control.” He spoke as they headed down a hall. Ninorra followed House closely, taking note of her surroundings as he led her deeper into the secret areas. "Disastrous, you say? Poor dear.. he sounds very unhappy. Do you know of the sort of equipment they will be issuing me?" “The process was quite unpleasant from what I have gathered,” they would stop at a door, of which he would use some sort of spell that removed a ward from the pathway. “They will be granting you one of our insignias, I suspect, as well as an additional counter-measure to keep you alive or two should he prove… difficult.” "Oh, how kind of them," she giggled, reaching to open the door. "One cannot be too careful, I suppose." “Indeed.” House opened the door, revealing a bare room save for a large… gateway of some sort. The construct in question would be built in a strange design that looked like a marriage of Sin’dorei aesthetic sensibilities and something more… alien. The thing was encased in what looked like some sort of gold filigree, but still spoke of arcane concepts. House would hold the door for her to enter, closing it behind her once she did so. "Another door," Ninorra chuckled, casting a wave at House before walking to the other gateway. "Thank you for your guidance. Wish me luck!" As the door closed, she approached the strange construct. With her scythe to lead her forward, the warlock approached the alien looking design and studied it for a moment before stepping inside. House held his hand out for the Scythe. “You won’t need that where you are going, I can have it sent back to your home for you.” "Oh..." She frowned at the idea and considered for a moment before handing him the weapon. "Very well. Just be careful with it. He is known to grow hungry." As soon as the hilt of the weapon were to touch his gloved hand, it vanished from the room in a blink of an eye. House nodded in approval. “Simply access your mailbox when you get home.” He spoke before pulling out a strange glowing necklace and set it into the podium behind him. The Machine began to hum to life, and he started to make motions as if pressing some sort of buttons before it fired up and formed a visionless portal within its maw. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Ninorra. Come back to visit any time you wish—Magistrix Dawn will be awaiting you on the other side.” "Oh, how delightful," the warlock said with a smirk, her mind drifting to her last encounter with the Magestrix. Ninorra waved goodbye to House and stepped into the portal. The first thing she would notice is the deathly chill of the world around her, soon after would come the obvious barrier of pulsating blue and purple intertwining in color surrounding her. If she looked down she would see an encased rune of some sort… the markings bearing distinct similarities to a summoning circle. Frowning at the rune, Ninorra looked up and around at her surroundings. Empty-handed, she felt somewhat naked, despite the thick robes covering her. "Hello? Your dog-walker is here." “IDENTITY CONFIRMED” A voice would call over some sort of overhead speaker system. A second longer and the barrier would fall, revealing her escort who held a vial in her hand. “Good Evening Lady Bloodstone, I apologize for the cold. Take this, it will help. And then we’ll go see the Director.” She smiled, though as always it wasn’t always entirely pleasant. The stench of Fel that rolled over her now in the frosty air did nothing to help with that. Ninorra raised an eyebrow at the other woman and took the vial offered to her. She considered the possibility of it being poisoned and shook her head, taking a deep breath before drinking the contents. "Thank you, dear. Let's go see this Director. I've been through a very long series of doors to get here." “Yes, a convoluted way to get here. It helps keep the undesirables from finding our location.” The Magistrix spoke before turning to lead the way, over a couple flights of stairs she would have time to get a better look of this place. It looked… more ancient than it should reasonably be, with new additions such a support beams being added to keep the area well secure for… something. The cobbled floor remained in some places. Others it was being pried away in favor of metal grating. “Any questions before you reconvene with Director Raeventus?” "Not many," the warlock answered, her heels clicking as they walked along the cobbled floors. "Though I hear my charge has been less than pleased with his accomodations? I imagine the Director will want to tell me about it himself, but, if you have any insight I am curious." As they approached an alcove, the glyphs upon the floor glowing for a moment—before something else beyond them trigged it, causing the floor to shoot up to serve as an elevator for them. Here she regarded the question. “He is anxious to rejoin the fight, after his little… rebellion… removed him from it. And he is also having troubles adjusting to the new chain of command.” "Well I can understand that much. Going through adjustments can be painful. I only hope he does not blame me for my part in his new role," she mused. "What sort of rebellion?" “He had apparently found a way to elude us for hours at a time… temporarily escaping our influence and observation. We have no idea what he was doing during these hours, so we pulled him off the field until we could find someone that may be able to watch him more closely.” She stepped off the elevator and proceeded to walk upon a winding staircase around the entirety of a room. In the centre was a tube that went from the floor to the ceiling—originally. Now it was shattered, as if something had busted out of it. "I doubt he would blame you for this, however. Any more questions?" Ninorra followed the Magistrix up the staircase. "My scythe was taken by House, before I arrived. I believe he mentioned something about equipment? I was undeer the impression that my fel-song skills would be used for this task." "They will be, we just want to give you a better chance at survival. Your death would, at the least, potentially bring unwanted attention to our workings.” Ninorra laughed. "Oh, that would be the least of your concerns.. thank you, dear. I look forward to meeting the Director once again." “I’m sure.” Her voice makes it impossible for her to decipher its intent, but here the steps lead to one more door. The Magistrix pressed a button, and after a minute, the door would pry itself free… revealing the Director of Scryer Asset Protection and Acquisition sitting at a large multi-paneled desk. Ninorra approached the desk, smiling with sincere relief. "Well, that was certainly a long walk. I'll have to remember not to wear heels next time. Hello, Director." “It’ll be faster next time.” The Director gave a small smile. “Please, have a seat and excuse the mess. The Shattered Son is not the only thing we have worked so tirelessly to rebuild for such a time of crisis.” Behind her the massive double doors slammed shut. Ninorra sat down as directed and folded one leg over the other. She placed her hands on her knee and sat up straight, befitting a lady. "Not to worry. I know a thing or two about working amongst chaos." “A talent that will prove useful in this campaign, I’m sure.” Behind the man were three banners. The central and most prominent was the Stern-faced Sun she had begun to see more commonly in her workings thus far with them, to the left was the symbol of the Scryers and to the right of the Sun was the crest of Silvermoon. The majority of this large room, was barren as if this was a more recent habitation. His desk was a different story, littered mostly with files paperwork and strange Arcane Gadgets—the most notable was to his far right, a singular grey cube that seemed to have the surface area of 25 inches per side that effortlessly floated as it bathed in a blue light colum that emenated from the desk. It would occasionally pulse a glyph or set. But it seemed Raeventus paid it no mind for the time being. Ninorra kept her gaze on the Magister and remained still for the time being. Though there was an air of excitement around her, she seemed content to wait for instructions. "let us hope so. I am hearing a few stories concerning our 'Shattered son' and his discontent. I do hope I can soothe his mood a bit." “He is used to being the top of the food chain; he needs to learn that isn’t the case any longer. When he fell, the world went on without him. It was only then we were able to bring him back.” The Director’s hand went for something in a shelf at his desk, a large gathering of papers. “If you can soothe him, gain his trust… that may be what we need to get him to reveal more of his secrets to us. I know he’s hiding more that could give us the tactical advantage needed to win this war.” "Well, never let it be said that I am not a people-person.." She giggled, bobbing her foot gently. "I will do what I can to find more of these secrets that you need.." She smiled and looked up in thought. "I can be quite persuasive when I need to be." “Excellent. The sooner this war is over, the less casualties we will have.” He slid the gathering to the Warlock. “Your contract, with the addendum we discussed.” Ninorra reached for the contract and began to read. She leaned back in her chair and went over the words carefully, her ears twitching every so often. After a few minutes, she smiled and nodded to the Director. "This seems reasonable." Behind her came footsteps and Dawn would return into view as Raeventus nodded in agreement. “I’m glad you agree. I will reiterate that your Husband is under your supervision in the eyes of our Party. Should he fail to keep the secrets you tell him, you too shall be held accountable.” Dawn would procure the same type of metallic quill that Magister Frostwhisper had used, and held out her hand for Ninorra’s. "Oh, you needn't worry yourself about him. I will be certain to hold him accountable," she said reassuringly, taking the metallic quill in her hand before signing her name with a flourish. She handed the signed contract back to Raeventus. "My husband knows where his bread is buttered." Dawn, seemingly ignored gave Raeventus a wide eyed look subtly motioning at the Warlock before them. The Director merely waved off the concern—and the Magistrix back stepped away to allow the conversation to continue then as she handed the contract back to him. He smiled at her, warm as ever in this dismal office. “I do hope it doesn’t come to that. But now that we have that out of the way, I have a few items for you to further enable you in your duties.” His hand deposited the Contract somewhere before fishing for something else. Ninorra moved to the edge of her seat, clearly eager to recieve whatever materials were about to be placed in her care. There was a certain childlike excitement in her demeanor, as if she were about to recieve a gift. Director Raeventus pulled out three items for her: An insignia that had the prominent banner’s emblem upon it, a jeweler’s box and a rectangular pane of glass encased in metal and leather to protect it. “As you have met Frostwhisper, you may be familiar with two of these." Ninorra eyed the objects carefully, studying them with her eyes. "I believe you are correct." “Excellent. Do you know how to work them?” "I would appreciate a demonstration. Vathelan did not explain how they were used and I would rather not misuse them." “Very well.” The Director picked up the Insignia. “This emblem of our Political Party uses the Scryer technology in order to transmit data, voice communications, and authorization to various Security measures. Ours even allow a beacon for us to pick up for us to summon a portal for your return here to base.” Ninorra nodded, wathing as the Director instructed her on the use of the insignia. "Far more advanced than our hearthstones, then. Please, continue." “That transmitting of data, while useful, is limited thanks to its invisibility from our eyes. That is why this was developed,” The Director picked up the Glass Scroll in his other hand. “It is able to give you a more concise way of finding the information you desire, as well as placing it upon something you can view it from.” He placed the Emblem in the bottom right corner, “We then press our thumb upon the glass to ensure it is us, not someone else who grabbed our device. As he provided her the example, the entirety of the Glass lit up. “From there the Glass will being to learn your habits enough to better accommodate you in your searches. They have gotten advanced enough to send entire reports from to our Arcane Network for someone with the right privileges to find and read.” "Goodness.." She looked carefully at the glass scroll. "I suppose I will be expected to make reports concerning my charge?" "Correct." "How often will this be required?" “When you have new information to give us. We will be dissecting the data within in order to gain us more insight into his mental and emotional health, any unexpected side effects of the process, or even a better tactical view of the situation. This will be of vital importance for both research and our campaign.” "Understood. I will be sure to keep track of any changes." “Good. Now… that leaves one more piece of equipment that we are placing in your possession.” He opens the jewelry box, revealing a gold bracelet with a red gem in the center. "Lovely. An early Winterveil for me," she giggled, eyeing the bracelet. "What does this one do?" The Director started to mess with the Glass Scroll for a moment, and then an ethereal voice came from both the Bracelet and the Insignia: ‘AI:Vindicator Synchronization initialized.’ Once satisfied he began to explain. “This is a new device we are attempting in order to aid you in keeping control of the Weapon. One rune,” he drew it on a spare sheet of paper, “Will use the mana in his blood to use his own strength against him—temporarily paralyzing him. The other…” He cleared his throat as he drew the rune as well. Dawn came back with two large sheathed rune blades. “Will authorize the use of these weapons; allowing the blade to release from their bindings. The runelock will reactivate anytime the weapons are sheathed.” Dawn spoke up, “We are also going to allow you to present them to him, in hopes the gift will help build a bond between the two of you.” Ninorra's eyebrows rose with surprise as she looked on the blades. "Well, who would not appreciate such a thoughtful gift?" She chuckled. "A reasonable idea, though. We will see just how much he appreciates them." Dawn gave a curt nod. “He will likely appreciate what it means in the least. Are we done here?” Ninorra stood. "I believe so." Looking toward the Director, she nodded at the items. "May I?" "You may." The Director nodded. And with that Dawn was already headed towards the door. Ninorra collected the various items and placed most of them into her enchanted bag, save for the bracelet, which she wore immediately. Holding her wrist up toward the light, she smiled and admired the trinket before turning back the Director. "Thank you, sir. I look forward to beginning my assignment." The warlock bowed her head respectfully, and followed Dawn to the door. If she paid any mind to the Glass Scroll when she set it away she would see it was at a twenty-three percent synchronization rate with whatever this ‘Vindicator’ was, though the slight pulsing once every fifteen seconds where the red gem would turn blue was probably a lot more obvious. The Director would bow his head in turn, “I do pray we will hear some results from you soon.” And with that Magistrix Dawn had already opened the door and begun her stride towards wherever it was they were keeping this weapon within this military complex. Ninorra followed close behind, humming quietly to herself. And down the two would go once more, encircling the room of the shattered pillar and into the alcove elevator. It was here Dawn would hand off the blades to the Handler, “It won’t do us any good if I keep them.” She would claim. Ninorra took the blades. They were a bit heavy in her hands, but she held on to them all the same. Bowing her head to the magistrix, she smiled broadly. "Quite the weapons they are." “Fitting for the man.” The elevator would come to a stop, and already the Magistrix continued her march through this frozen complex. They would circle around the outer most ring from the central teleportation circle, going around to pass one massive set of doors before stopping at the next. If she scanned the area she may have noticed that there were four sets in total, all in opposing quarters of the Complex. Each of them with a guard station installed, this one was no different. The solider on duty looked over the two of them and her cargo, he didn’t say a word. He simply activated the door, it rumbling open and allowing them to pass. There would be much less stone here, most of it metal, including the grating they walked upon. Ninorra glanced around at her surroundings, fairly certain that at this point she would not be able to remember how it was they got there. Frowning to herself, her cheerful expression faltered for just a moment as she continued on. It would not be long before they came to a large, though not nearly as massive or impressive as the door previous. Here they stopped, Dawn’s spindled fingers grasping upon her emblem, holding it before a panel that would quickly shoot open—giving a brief reprieve to both the silence and cold that surrounded them. Inside was what appeared to be almost an arena of sorts. They would find themselves in the stands amongst men, seeming to be Blood Knight and Ranger alike, cheering and placing wagers on the barred sparring floor of considerable size below. On the sidelines was a man of a distinct set of armor compared to the rest of them, double blades at his hips who seemed to be directing the commotion within the actual ring. A tall and muscular white haired Elven man in simple linens who seemed to be holding at bay a fist of a Golem that was over twice his size. As the Magistrix started to descend the steps, the crowd behind her quickly began to quiet itself, each step towards the Knight overseeing this killing the mood of the room. Ninorra's eyes went wide at the sight of the fighting. She smiled at the sight, her cheeks flushed with pleasure at the display of violence and masculinity. She smiled at the Magistrix before turning back to the Knight at the center of the attention. "My my.." she said quietly. "What have we here?" Already some of the men were starting to try to slip past the Magistrix’s attention as her back was turned, quickly trying to go back to their duties without so much of a fuss. The woman did not halt her advance until she was at the man’s side. From above, the conversation that took place would be lost in their travel—until the Battlemaster shouted into the room, while pulling a lever to retract the barricades meant to protect the audience. “All right men, show’s over! Back to work! I catch any of you lollygagging and it’ll be your hide!” As the barricades were finally down, one could see better the arena at the feet of these combatants still in a stalemate. It was a gore of Golem remnants of previous conquests. Dawn waved over the handler as she addressed the man as locked in a contest unyielding strength. “Operative, I have brought you a visitor,” her voice almost sang to the man. Ninorra followed Dawn's lead and smiled brightly, holding tightly to the weapons provided to her. "Hello!" She sang, unable to wave with the swords in her hands. "It's a pleasure to meet you! My name is Ninorra. Would you perhaps like to release your friend and see what I've brought you?" The sound of her voice brought the giant out of his focused concentration, a voice vaguely familiar spoke. “…Nin…?”As his grip relaxed from the contest of strength, his face turning to confirm the truth of the identity, the Golem gained the upper hand and forced the Elven male to the ground—crushing him under the massive weight of its fist. "Oh goodness!" Ninorra said, horrified, the blood draining from her face. She ran toward the golem and, still holding the swords, sang a screeching melody that engulfed the creature in shadow magic. "Crumble, break, into the earth "Join the element of birth "Strength be gone, writh in pain "Only horror will remain" The full force of the punch would lead to attempting to crush its prey, until its next target would be acquired thanks to her interference. As shadow magic blasted at the golem, it would return with a beam to scan its new target as it began to rise. “Power it down. Now.” Dawn shouted at the Battlemaster. “Y-yes, Inquisitor!” Quickly he was starting to work the control panel as the stomps of the behemoth continued its imposing march. Ninorra frowned at the golem, her mouth twisted to one side of her face as she gathered spells in her hands. "Careful big boy," she said to the golem, her red eyes flashing mischeviously. "I've brought down mechanical creations much scarier than you." As the shadow magic ate away at the outlines of the Golem as acid would, it continued its march towards the Warlock.“TURN IT OFF. THIS INSTANT.” “I’m trying Madam Inquistior!” The Battlemaster shouted back in fear of the consequences of failure. His hands working as quickly as the gauntlets upon them would allow. “Resistance is Fu—“ The light within the ocular vent would flicker, the shadow still eating away at the construct before its power core finally shut off, forcing it to collapse upon its own weight.” Ninorra shook her head and approached the fallen Knight, kneeling beside him. She placed the swords beside her and used her hands to turn him over. "Come now dear, wake up," she said gently, using her hands to sweep the hair from his face. The warlock's mouth hung open. "..Draco?" The emerald eyes of the Knight looked up at her, confused, his body’s veins beginning to glow momentarily around the areas that took the most damage upon his form. “…Ninorra, Is that…? I did not think you made it.” Ninorra swept the hair from Draco's face gently, her own expression melting in a combination of emotions ranging from shock to relief. "Of course I did," she said in a hushed voice, her words choked in her throat. "It was you I thought was gone. They said you died, Draco. And you never even said goodbye." “One less person I failed then.” His eyes looked away from his companion. At the mention of his death he gave a sad smile, “…I did. I was prepared to ensure peace for our people for… a long time. It cost me dearly, and it seems my time of rest is over. After all the work I have done, I was still unable to prevent the Legion’s return in full force upon our world.” "Stop being so selfish," she said with a reassuring smile, tears in her eyes. Ninorra reached up to wipe them away with her fingertips. "You are not responsible for every wrongdoing in this world. I'm afraid your shoulders are not nearly large enough for that burden. Now get up and hug me, before I completely lose my composure and embarass myself further." “Not every wrong doing, just defending our people from them.” He retorts as forces himself up, the loose linen shirt exposing more of his chest as he does so. He then offers his hand to her to raise her along with him, in spite of his towering presence. “It is good to see you again.” Ninorra took his hand and stood, smirking up at the enormous elf. "Ah yes, I'd forgotten how very business-centric you are.. here.." she leaned over and picked up the swords, straining with their weight as she presented them to him. "These.. nng.. are for y-you." Draco took them, to no surprise considering holding his own against that large of a golem, with no effort. He set one to lean on him as he inspected the other. His hands moved to try to pull the blade from its sheath… to no avail. His eyes narrowed for a moment before he gave another gentle smile, and placing it aside. “A shame I am not outfitted for combat at the moment, but come here.” His arms wrapped around the woman. Ninorra giggled with pleasure as her took her into his arms, her cheeks bright red. She returned his hug, her hands clinging tight on the muscles of his back. "You have hardly changed at all..." for her part, she had changed much since he last saw her. No longer sickly thin from mana starvation, she was curvy with a healthy glow. Her skin seemed slightly darker, and her touch was warmer than might have been normal. "You will have to tell me about all of your adventures." “I wish that were true.” He gave a small chuckle. He could feel how she gripped at his back, his memories of his conversations about her with his father nagging at the back of his mind. She would feel the warmth of the energies burning through his veins up his back and towards his skull once more. “If my assumption as to why you have been brought here is true, I do suppose we shall have the time… though we must not allow us to distract us from what is most important. I can at least tell you the declassified sections.” "That is enough for me," she said warmly, looking up at him with red eyes. "I was intended to be your handler. They said that you were not cooperating. Draco..." she eyed him with a smirk. "You will have to behave yourself with me. I don't want to have to 'punish' you.." she added with a wink. “I was applying my skill set where it would be most effective.” The Knight growled momentarily. “I do not care what whomever thinks he is in command thinks. I am trying to limit our casualties by being the most effective at what I was brought back to do.” "And you will, dear, but you will also have to trust me. I will not lead you astray." She reached up to pat his shoulder gently. "We can do this together. We do not have to quarrel." “So long as you do not get in my way, we have an accord.” Ninorra raised an eyebrow and placed her hands on her hips. "Get in your way, Draco?" “I will not be hindered in my mission.” He cannot help but stare her down, the blue energy igniting through his veins reached his skull, tracing itself back to his eye sockets where they would once again activate, turning his eyes a bright sapphire once again. “Our people’s lives are at stake, and I will not risk them simply because someone is second guessing my tactics or judgment.” "Draco..." she said calmly, reaching up to touch his face with her warm fingertips. "Do not try to intimidate me. You left for Outland without a word, and I remained behind. Alone. I learned the demonic arts to serve my people, and I did that alone. I have served in every single campaign, fought side by side with monsters and cretins, all while the fel whisper in my ear. I do it for my people, because as you know, I have seen what happens when we allow the worst to happen. I will not see it happen again. So," she ran the tips of her nails down his cheek. "You cannot frighten me. So do not try." “You were meant to stay where you were safe.” His tone was stern. “I am not attempting to intimidate you, I am merely stating fact: I will carry out my mission, I will do what I was brought back to do. If you want to help? So be it, you will have no trouble. This war must be ended before it consumes our people.” "I know that better than you think. I am not innocent any longer, dear," she said firmly, before smiling again. "I can do more than help. All I ask is that you trust me." “I do not trust anyone any longer, I died Alone for the cause.” He hoisted the sheathed blades upon his shoulder as he started to march towards the door, his blue burning eyes looking back at her for a moment. “But… I suppose that comes with the job. Come, we have Demons to slay.” "Always one for the dramatic, Draco," the warlock said with a sigh. "You needn't use it with me. We are friends, aren't we?"
  10. A Drain on Life

    Summer, 26 years after the First War (Year 600 by the King's Calendar) Courtship It was not the romance that Ninorra expected. In her songs, love was typical. Usually a valiant knight, or a beautiful lady would see someone that made their heart race. Someone would rescue the other from a terrible monster, there was some sort of conflict pulling the two apart. They always began with love at first sight. It was not that way for the budding warlock. Upon entering her first tavern outside of Silvermoon, Ninorra played music that she thought the other members of the Horde might enjoy. Surrounded by orcs, trolls, and Forsaken, she opted for something simple and optimistic. The time has come to arm yourselves To fight with axe and sword Allies stand together Strong, united with the Horde It was an easy song, and for the most part, the patrons enjoyed it. Raising their mugs of frothy ale, there was a chorus of cheers as she went through each verse. Until the interruption, anyhow. He was not the kind of Sin’dorei Ninorra expected to see much of. Wearing the armor of a Blood Knight, Vicailde Bloodstone seemed to stand apart from the other elves she had come across in the field. He was older, his face lined with knowledge of battles long past, a scar running down half of his face. White hair and a goatee further pronounced his age, but it was his eyes that caught Ninorra’s attention; they were weary, angry, and sad at the same time. It was most certainly not love at first sight. Approaching her, the Blood Knight sang his own chorus. His words slightly slurred, Ninorra cringed as he sang of loss and death. Her fingers slowed at the strings of her guitar, until she stopped playing entirely. “Who told you to stop playing?” He asked, demandingly. Ninorra stood from her seat and glared at him. “What you are doing is impolite!” Vicailde smirked and broke into laughter, furthering the young warlock’s humiliation. “Polite,” he repeated, taking another drink. It was her first time outside of Silvermoon, and surprisingly the first person to annoy her was her own kind. Ninorra felt her own temper rising with the Blood Knight, and after some back-and forth arguing, finally decided to leave. It would not be the last time they met. For the next several weeks, she returned to the tavern to play songs after fulfilling her duties to the Horde. Often, patrons would leave a handful of coins beside her. She used this to supplement her income, and eventually found her way to a better suit of robes and magical objects. It was a good tavern to make extra money, with the exception of a certain Blood Knight. He wasn’t there every night, but when he was, there was guaranteed to be trouble. Arguments, sometimes escalating to shouting matches, the warlock and the Blood Knight seemed to feed off of each other’s negative energy. More than once Ninorra would leave the tavern and swear never to return, only to go back the next day and argue all over again. To his credit, Vicailde was typical in his insults. She was simple, her playing was as basic as her singing, and what good was music when their people were mostly dead? It wasn’t so much the warlock he seemed angry at, but the world in general. Though for some reason, he seemed dedicated to making her time in the tavern difficult. It came to a head at last when she finally asked him why. The Blood Knight seemed annoyed with the question. “You’re the one who keeps coming back.” “I have the right to make a little extra money where I can. Not that it seems you’ve ever had that problem, Lord Bloodstone,” she said pointedly. It was obvious from his armor that he was not common, and at least boasted an elevated position with their military. Though in pointing it out, she seemed to offend him. He did not come back for the next several days. Ninorra felt almost sad with his absence. The nights she played and he was not there, she found herself looking for him in the crowd. Despite their constant bickering, she his presence seemed to bring out a passion that she had not felt before. As if he were purposefully prodding her until her heart raced with anger, and a strong desire to punch him made its way to the surface. One night, he returned. The Blood Knight did not attempt to argue, nor did he seek the attention of the warlock. Instead, he sat by himself and drank, listening to her songs. The light in his eyes were slightly dimmed, and she felt a pang of grief deep in her chest. It was a familiar sight, the look of a man who admitted defeat. She approached him, and with every bit of patience available, asked what was wrong. “Marry me,” he demanded, without looking the warlock in the eye. The explanation was simple. He was nearing the end of his life. With no family to leave the Bloodstone fortune, it would fall into the hands of his distant relatives. She was lowborn, he knew that, but at the very least her inheritance of his house and title would annoy them. It was a final stroke in his constant effort to undermine the nobility. It made Ninorra feel sick. “ just want to use me,” she said, tears in her eyes. Though his presence was a constant source of anger, never once had she expected him to hurt her feelings. “You don’t care about me at all. If you did, you would know what this would do to me. What do you think they will say about a girl like me who marries someone like you? They will make my life miserable, all so you can enjoy some bitter joke. I’m not your joke.” This time, she left. He hurt her more than she wanted to admit. Throughout their verbal sparring, Ninorra felt something for him, a friendship of sorts. They disagreed on a lot of things, he made fun of her singing, her appearance, her background. However, despite all of his insults, she never felt hurt by his words. Asking for her to marry him felt like betrayal. She dreamed of a great romance, someday. A gallant knight, a handsome ranger, a clever mage. Someone to make her feel beautiful. He made her feel cheap. It wasn’t until they crossed paths in Undercity that he apologized. The Blood Knight was remorseful, if not visibly depressed. He apologized for offending her, and in his apology she felt the need to comfort him. Her anger, however, still lingered. “Don’t you understand,” she said, exasperated. “You cheated me out of what is supposed to be the most precious moment in someone’s life. You didn’t even ask me to marry you, you told me. Like I was your servant. You have the nerve to apologize, as if you don’t even see the problem! I am not interested in a loveless marriage to someone for status or money. That is not who I am.” He seemed to digest this for a while. “What are you suggesting?” Ninorra was taken aback by the question. What was she suggesting? “Well, I… I mean, if you want to marry me, you’re going to have to work for it. I’m not just going to leap at the chance to marry the first man who demands it. You haven’t made any kind of attempt to be kind. You've never even kissed me, before.” The Blood Knight looked away, as if embarrassed. They stood in the middle of the Undercity, Forsaken going about their business around them, paying no attention to the two quarreling elves. It was cold and dark, the glow of Forsaken eyes and enchanted torches illuminating the gray stone surrounding them. “…do you want me to?” The warlock’s breath felt caught in her chest, her mouth dry. Time seemed to stop as she searched the Blood Knight’s eyes, his years of battle and anger written in the lines around his face. Without thinking, she felt herself say “yes”. Vicailde was slow in his movements, as if in an attempt not to frighten her. A plate covered hand cradled the back of her head, cold metal provoking goosebumps throughout her skin. With his other hand placed gently on her hip, the Blood Knight prudently pressed his mouth against the younger woman’s. It was her first kiss, and despite his best efforts, it did frighten her. At first, too shocked to react to their sudden physical contact, her eyes remained open. However as soon as she felt his lips, the slow breath of his nose, and the closed distance between them, something in her brain seemed to deactivate. Whatever hesitation she felt was gone, and without knowing why, her hands crept up the cold metal of his breastplate until they were wrapped around his shoulders. They stood there like that for a very short time, an innocent kiss that very suddenly moved from sweet to desperate. With her hands on his back, Vicailde pressed closer into the younger woman, his grip on her side tightening, her hair becoming entangled between his gauntleted fingers. Strangely, she could feel his pulse quicken. Ninorra’s own heart felt as if it would burst through her chest, and without further coaxing from the more experienced Sin’dorei, her tongue slid its way into his mouth. It was the only signal he needed to dip her backwards, his hands supporting her weight. In the cold dead light of the Undercity, they clung to each other, two blood elves with no other history together besides arguments and frustration. Before either of them could go any further, a scratchy voice was heard nearby. “Get a gods damned room!” They abruptly disengaged from their kiss, though remained in the same position for a few moments, their faces a few inches from one another’s. Vicailde seemed out of sorts, his breathing labored, an almost frightened look in his eyes. Ninorra slowly guided herself back upright, blushing with embarrassment and excitement. She slid her hands from him and attempted to fix her hair as his cold metal gauntlets fell to his sides. They seemed to avoid each other’s gaze for a few seconds, until eventually the warlock and the Blood Knight felt themselves fall into a nervous laughter. The Forsaken glanced their way, annoyed. The blood elves did not seem to mind. Two weeks later, they were married.
  11. A Drain on Life

    26 years after the First War (Year 600 by the King's Calendar) The Burning Crusade It was the dawn of a new era. Kael’thas and his Sin’dorei followers had been successful. With Illidan as their leader, the prince and his group went to Outland and discovered a way to save the remnants of their people. Demons were plentiful on the broken world, and with Illidan’s guidance, Kael’thas learned to siphon magic from the fel. War between the Blood Elves and the remaining Draenei was building. Illidan’s followers known now as Illidari, in their quest for knowledge and power to destroy the Legion, enslaved the mutated Draenei known as the Broken. These creatures’ devolutionary changes shadowed their own, raising more questions in regards to their sacrifice. Yet all of this was meaningless in comparison to the sudden breakthrough of the demon lord Kazzak. Demons poured out by the hundreds from the portal in the Blasted Lands, promising thousands more. With Kael’thas’ guidance, the Sin’dorei saw their opportunity. A captured naaru, a being of pure Light, was brought to Silvermoon. The Blood Knights, many of them former Holy Paladins, disregarded the faith that birthed their order and instead took power for themselves. The rest of the Sin’dorei, weakened from six years of magical starvation, fell upon the draining of fel crystals to feed their addiction. The Sin’dorei changed. Their eyes reflected the fel energy which fed them and turned a vibrant green. For those who were so weakened that they fed with too much ferocity, other changes were apparent; a reddish tint to their skin, madness. In time this was identified as fel corruption, and the Sin’dorei made it clear that it was not to be tolerated. Together, they learned how to feed. Together, they made a decision for their survival. They would ally themselves with the Horde. With Sylvannas to vouch for them, the Blood Elves joined their new orcish allies in Outland. The Warchief Thrall welcomed emissaries to Orgimmar, and requested able bodied warriors to their cause. With so few Sin’dorei left, much less anyone who could fight, the remaining elves took to training themselves in any way possible. For some, this meant a massive resurgence of arcanists. Rangers and warriors learned new techniques from their newfound allies, and fought side-by-side with the trolls that once threatened their existence. For others, their alliance upon fel crystals to power themselves brought forth new possibilities. Ninorra left Visca Manor with her guitar the previous year, the weight of her friend’s loss heavy in her heart. Draco had gone with Kael’thas, and from what she understood had done his part to ensure their people’s survival. She felt a small amount of pride in him, if only because she knew his father would have been glad. Draco fulfilled his purpose, and Gladius could rest in peace. Leaving Visca Manor, however, had not been an easy task. It was the only home she had known for over two years. For several months, she found work as a mason and continued to help rebuild Silvermoon while finding nightly refuge with other lowborn Sin’dorei in group homes. However, when the news and eventual discovery of fel crystals reenergized their people, the economy suddenly had value again. There was work to do, and money to spend. The Horde was coming, and Silvermoon would not be embarrassed by their barbaric allies. The pubs opened their doors, and within weeks were filled with all manner of people. Ninorra was glad for her guitar when she saw the streets suddenly crowded, though not with familiar faces. Until this point, she had never seen trolls up-close. Orcs and tauren, both massive in size, caused her to stare in wonder. The Forsaken, a memory of the Sin’dorei’s war with the Scourge, walked with their dignity intact. It was a wondrous time to be in the city, but more so it was a profitable time for anyone with skills to donate to the cause. Finally, a need for music. Emissaries from the Horde, along with various fighters and curious visitors wandered in and out of Silvermoon’s newly reopened pubs for a chance to taste elvish wine. Blood Elves welcomed brewers from Orgrimmar and Thunder Bluff, eager to discover ales and beers of the Horde. Friendships were made over bottles and tankards, and drifting along with their boisterous voices, a guitar played. The Horde was quite generous with their coins. Ninorra wandered from pub to pub, playing songs of hope and rebirth. Though her red eyes made some of the orcs curious, they did not question her. Many of them had similar mutations, leftovers from their own dealings with demons. The Sin’dorei, who were slightly less willing to accept this fact, were thankfully happy to sing along with her. Singing in Thalassian however, orcs and tauren often seemed left out. In an attempt to sway their favor, Ninorra taught herself songs in their language. At first, orcish felt crude in her mouth, but the more she used it the more she understood their various nuances. She could hear a strangeness in the way most Blood Elves spoke orcish, and sought instead to imitate the orcs themselves. For her efforts, she was rewarded with gold and heavy pats on the back. Eventually, she could afford a room at an inn that didn’t smell terrible. It wasn’t enough, however, to erase the nightmares. They were constant, these days. Though her people had so much hope for the future, and a war was brewing in Outland, Ninorra felt trapped by Silvermoon’s gates. She played day and night, sleeping a little in-between, only to be met with the same voice that followed her. It spoke gently, almost lovingly, as if there were some emotional connection between them. “You are not alone.” Eventually, she had enough money to seek advice. Her mother told her, as a child, that Ninorra’s soul was the property of demons. Her eyes were red because that was the mark of their handy work, and eventually, she would be devoured by them. It was always in the back of her mind, the nagging possibility of a fate promised by her own mother. Nowadays, however, warlocks walked the streets with demons in tow. Enslaved by their masters, they seemed tame, friendly even. Ninorra considered the possibility; if she could enslave them, perhaps she could avoid her mother’s prediction. Now, finally a grown woman who could be taken seriously by a warlock trainer, she sought the advice of a visiting orc. He took one look at her eyes and grinned, his tusks glinting in the Silvermoon sun. “Oh yes,” he chuckled. “I think we can teach you a thing or two.” Her warlock training became more of a task than she anticipated. By day, Ninorra visited the warlocks of Silvermoon and learned spells that, for the most part, seemed distasteful. Draining life, inflicting pain, and simultaneously enslaving demons so that they could take the damage meant for you. It felt like the sort of thing to be looked down upon, but the warlocks of their order congratulated each other on various accomplishments in cruelty. Ninorra found herself gravitating toward spells that sickened people, but she put her focus in demons instead. Someday, she knew, there would be a time when she would face her visitor. When that day came, she swore, she would turn the tables and make him her slave instead. The training was exhausting, but with each new day and new spell, her confidence grew. Finally, she was strong enough to join the fight outside of Silvermoon. For the first time in her entire life, Ninorra would leave Quel’thalas and stand as a member of the Horde. Her first day in the fray was terrifying. Ninorra was able to summon a Voidwalker to keep enemies from getting too close, but with her first assignment being so near the remnants of the Scourge, their proximity frightened her. Her first full day in the field was met with close calls, and the smell of burning dead flesh. The familiar scent brought her home, and strangely, made her more comfortable. After completing her first few tasks, she was sent to the Undercity in what was once Lordaeron. It was a long walk, but on the way she passed what looked like a very small hamlet. There was a pub in its center. With an optimistic grin, Ninorra went inside. On her back, as always, was the guitar. It was her first night outside of Quel’thalas, her first time playing for people that weren’t her own. She took a deep breath and went inside.
  12. A Drain on Life

    25 years after the First War (Year 599 by the King's Calendar) It was going to happen any day, now. In the two years since Ninorra had gone to live with the Viscas, she felt herself growing attached to the small and broken family. Draco, still making the attempt to help his people from Silvermoon, looked more anxious by the day. Rumors were spreading about their Prince and an excursion. He would be taking his finest men and women with him, and amongst them was Draco. Ninorra knew that this was what Gladius wanted, and he took the news well. “They must go now,” he argued one day, as Ninorra helped him drink water. “Now, before it’s too late for the rest of you.” She didn’t bother to ask him why he did not include himself. Gladius had grown so weak that he could no longer leave his bed, and the light had all but left his eyes. A whistling sound in his chest was the only sign that he still breathed while he slept, and during those times Ninorra sat beside him, waiting. Draco would often come, but not stay for very long. It was an unnatural death, she felt. To die of disease, or of injury, this was unavoidable. She saw people die horrifically at the hands of the Scourge, and yet this withering sickness he suffered from was worse in her eyes. Sometimes in the dead of night, he would make a noise in his throat, as if gasping for air. Ninorra would hold his hand and in a few moments, he would sleep silently again. On those nights, she reminded herself that this was their fate, and there was no shame in dying, but would anyone be there when it happened to her? These were her loneliest nights. “Don’t be afraid…” Repeated the voice in her mind. “You are not alone.” “You’re not sleeping, are you?” Ninorra’s eyes jolted open. She looked down to see Gladius looking up toward her, his once bright blue eyes faded to a dull gray. Smiling in spite of the exhaustion, her hands reached for his. They were cold and dry, his skin like thin silk over bone. “How can I sleep with all the fuss you’re making?” She asked with a scratchy voice. Gladius did not argue. “You are quite possibly… the most impertinent trollop… I have ever met,” he said in between breaths. She grinned, tears in her eyes. In the two years since she and Gladius knew each other, she had grown from an awkward young girl, still unused to how her body was changing, to a young woman of a decent marriageable age. He often pointed out the changes, much to her embarrassment, but it seemed to bring him comfort to know that he could make her blush. “And you are an incorrigible old goat, so we're even,” she replied. Together they laughed, as was their tradition, until Gladius turned to cough. He hacked a few times, his entire body convulsing with each breath, and fell on to his back exhausted. Taking a moment to regain his breath, he closed his eyes and said with a wheezing breath. “Be careful. Whatever you do, just be careful.” His face contorted as he turned to cough. Standing to help, Ninorra saw immediately that the pillow beside him was stained with blood. In a panic, she ran to the door, swinging it open to scream. “Draco!!” Seconds later, the eldest Visca son ran into his father’s room, panic written on his face. He was fully dressed, eyes dark from lack of sleep. Rushing to his father’s side, he knelt beside the bed and took Gladius’ hands in his own. The two spoke in hushed voices, and for the first time, Ninorra felt uncomfortable beside them. Backing into the wall, she left the room without a word and closed the door behind her. She could feel her chest burning with dread, and remained outside of the door until hours later when she hesitantly opened the door. The last surviving son of Gladius Visca looked utterly defeated as he knelt beside the body of his father, holding on to dead hands. Without turning to look at her, Draco muttered under his breath. “He is gone." Ninorra and Draco were not close. They shared a home for two years, but never spoke more than a few words to one another. The night his father died, she felt compelled to comfort him, but more so sought comfort for herself. Despite their difference in age, Gladius had been her only companion for the past two years, and treated her with a familiarity that she had never known. The loss was palpable, like a weight in her chest. Draco, in his grief, remained unmoving beside the bed. His face was still and unwavering in its expression, despite the tears rapidly streaming from his eyes. Without prompting, Ninorra knelt beside him and put an arm around Draco, her own tears far less controlled. He did not respond at first, but eventually leaned into her embrace, his face unchanging. They remained this way until the morning, silent but for Ninorra’s unhindered whimpering. At first, Draco would not accept Ninorra’s desire to help him build his father’s funeral pyre. She argued the point; that she and Gladius worked together to lay stones, that it was the skill that brought her to him. Eventually, he allowed her to build the base upon which he would lay the platform, and alone he lay wood in a pattern until it was large enough for his father’s corpse to lie ten feet from the ground. Surrounding the structure, Ninorra lay more stones to keep the fire from spreading. They worked silently until it was time. As the sun began it’s descent, Draco carried his father’s body to the wooden platform. He seemed nothing like the Gladius Ninorra knew; weakened, certainly, but full of stories and insults. She held her breath, waiting for him to open his eyes and call her something distasteful, but it never happened. His flesh had withered to a deep gray color, like the cheap stones she used to build the base of his pyre. Leaving his father’s body atop the structure, Draco climbed down and reached the ground before lighting a match. Holding it carefully to the kindling near the bottom, he waited for the flames to spread before walking backwards. The fire roared to a blaze within minutes. Again, the smell of burnt flesh reached Ninorra’s nose, peppered by the burning wood, but still distinctive in her memory. The sun was setting behind the fire, coloring the sky orange and pink. Instinctively, she opened her mouth, her mind blank as words poured over her lips. “The sun sets o’er Silvermoon “Fire in the sky “Burning through our fears - we fight to dream, to rectify “Though many fell before us “Children, family, friends “The night casts us her shadow as a promise to the dead “A new day soon is dawning “So watch the sun set, wait “We children of the blood will never bow to any fate” Her voice was the only sound besides the crackling of the fire. It cut through their dead and untended gardens, as even the night birds kept silent. Even as she sang, Draco’s face resembled the same expression he wore the night before, but there were no tears in his eyes. Only a resolute exterior, a clenched jaw, and an unwavering gaze toward the fire. They stood there, grieving in their own way, until only ashes remained. After their private funeral, both Ninorra and Draco wordlessly returned to their rooms. In her heart she felt loss, but in her mind was a twinge of fear. With Gladius gone, what would become of her? Did he plan for this? She wondered if Draco would expect her to leave, and felt a deep sense of guilt at the idea. Of course she must leave. Upon opening the door to her room, however, she was met with a surprise. Sitting on her bed, somewhat old and used looking, was a guitar. She approached it slowly, somewhat in disbelief of its presence. Despite its age, the wood was expertly carved. It looked like something that might have belonged to a rich person, or at least was commissioned by one. Tucked under the strings was a note. The words were scrawled in shaky script, as if whomever wrote it had difficulty holding a pen. Ninorra, Consider this payment for putting up with me. Do not forget what I told you: Be careful Rebuild our city Do not lose hope And if you can find the time, write a song about me. I told you more than enough stories, did I not? My only regret is that I did not find you sooner. Perhaps I could have taught you some manners. Then again, perhaps it is best I did not. It is difficult for me to speak, let alone write, so I will end with this; I am glad to have known you. You made these last few years bearable. Thank you. --Gladius Visca
  13. A Drain on Life

    24 years after the First War (Year 598 by the King's Calendar) The Sin’dorei continued to decline. It seemed as if their hope for a future was decaying as quickly as their elders and children. Too weakened by their lack of the Sunwell, their construction efforts slowed. Ninorra, for her part, kept her part of the bargain with Gladius and continued to work with her hands; laying brick, spreading mortar, carting debris. He, in return, allowed her to stay with him and his son in their home. It was the most luxurious home she had ever set foot in. Visca Manor was ancient, but noticeably empty. In the room provided to her, Ninorra was given a bed larger than the rooms she usually slept in. Food didn’t seem to be scarce, nor were clothes, and for a while she was uncomfortable with the arrangement. Looking for ways to repay the Viscas for their charity, Ninorra would help around their home and try to make Gladius as comfortable as possible. Sometimes, on nights when the pain of his condition made it difficult to sleep, she would sing for him. For his part, Gladius’ son Draco did not seem to question the presence of a young woman in the company of his declining father. The one time she overheard him questioning it, Gladius flatly told the younger Visca, “Because I said so,” and no other questions were asked after that. She rarely saw the younger in the home itself, and was told that he was doing his part to search for something that could help their people. Draco seemed an obedient and loyal son, but there was worry in his face always, and he seemed relieved to know that his father was being cared for. In the home itself, Ninorra found few clues as to why the house contained only the two Viscas, but she knew there had been others. Family portraits depicted Gladius and his wife, their three children. Draco was the eldest, but a daughter and a younger son seemed to be gone from their lives. She did not pry into their location, but listened to Gladius’ stories as they toiled with the other elves in their construction, hoping for a clue. “The things I did in wartime, they would make your blood run cold,” Gladius explained as he carefully stacked bricks, building another wall. “There was no quarter given in those times. We were fighting for our survival. The trolls would have seen us wiped off the map.” Ninorra’s ears would turn red whenever he mentioned the troll wars. Her mother, whether to embarrass her or educate her, often hinted that Ninorra’s father had troll blood in him. As she grew older, she noticed too that she was shaped a little differently than the other Sin’dorei, despite the withering. While most of their kind were known for their lithe and pale beauty, her rounded physique, full lips and curved nose harked back to their troll enemies. Was it because of her father? “I don’t think that’s limited to trolls anymore,” Ninorra responded dryly. “Though if something isn’t done, we won’t need their help.” “Something will be done,” Gladius grunted, pausing to catch his breath. He crouched to the ground, breathing in deeply. “Prince Kael’thas has been planning an excursion. Draco has been summoned.” Ninorra blinked in surprise. “Draco is leaving?” “I have told him he must go. For the good of our people, that is his duty.” Reflection on this news, Ninorra watched as Gladius hoisted himself up again to continue his work. Though she had never known him at peak health, his condition seemed to be worsening rapidly. He required assistance in small things, such as walking long distances or carrying heavy loads. More than once Ninorra found herself helping Gladius to his feet, though with their difference in height it was not ideal. “Maybe he feels that his duty is to you,” Ninorra suggested, keeping an eye on the older man’s movements. Gladius seemed to think on that, his eyebrows knit, deep worry lines in his eyes darkening. “He will do as I tell him.” There was a shift in tone as Gladius suddenly fell to one knee, his breaths ragged and labored. Ninorra abandoned her trowel and ran to his side, unhesitant to slide beneath his one arm and offer herself as support. “Come on,” she grunted under his weight, despite him being so much thinner now than he was when she met him. “We are taking you home.” He didn’t seem to have the energy to argue. With her help, Gladius slowly managed to get to his feet and allowed her to lead him back to Visca Manor. In the following months, Gladius rarely had the strength to leave his home. Despite her agreement to continue helping to rebuild Silvermoon, Ninorra remained by his side and helped him with whatever was needed. At first, he pushed back. “I don’t need a damn nurse,” he told her one day, as she helped him down the stairs. “And if I did, I’d certainly get one that was more capable.” Ignoring the slight, Ninorra remained beside him, an arm firmly looped around his. “You’d have to find one willing to put up with you, first.” Their banter was a constant in Visca Manor. Daily, Ninorra would help Gladius around the massive house as he looked for ways to help his people; reading old books for clues, writing letters to the prince and his magisters. When he eventually had trouble holding a pen, she would write for him. “Your handwriting is atrocious. Who taught you to write, a witch doctor?” “Why yes,” she responded, eyes still on the page. “She taught me both writing and practical voodoo, just in case I ever needed to curse someone who was being ungrateful and rude.” In time, he found it difficult to walk further than a few feet. The first time Ninorra helped him to bed, she found it strangely intimate, as if she were suddenly an actual member of his family. Without argument, she would remove his shoes and help him dress. He wouldn’t go so far as to allow her to see him naked, but she saw enough to understand his suffering. A once heavily muscled body, covered in battle scars, was withered and gray. His skin, paper thin and loose, bruised with every touch. He would not live much longer, and they both understood that sobering fact. One morning, as she brought him breakfast, she noticed that he was attempting to read an old letter. His hand trembled as he held the paper, lips moving as they read each line. “Would you like me to read it to you?” She asked brightly, tearing pieces of bread for him to more easily be able to eat. Gladius glared at her without turning his head. “I’m not completely incapable, you viper-tongued tart.” “No, not if you can still insult me,” she said with a grin. “Come on, eat something.” He set down the paper and grunted. “It won’t help. There’s no point.” “Well it will certainly make me feel better to know I tried,” Ninorra argued, reaching over to straighten his pillows. “It might not make you well, but it will give you a little strength.” “If I had my strength, it would be you on your back and not me,” Gladius said shamelessly, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Ninorra felt herself blush and nodded toward one of the paintings in the room. It depicted Gladius and his wife, perhaps a hundred or more years ago. “Sorry, I’m quite taken with someone else. He seems to watch me wherever I go.” “You would be so lucky to find someone like that among the reprobates left in Silvermoon,” he grumbled. “Mark my words, Ninorra. When I am gone, I expect you to take care of yourself. Don’t go falling for the first idiot that says something kind. The last thing you need is to wind up pregnant in a time like this.” “Look at you, being concerned for little old me,” Ninorra chuckled, bringing some bread to his mouth. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you actually cared.” Gladius ate without argument, staring at the ceiling. It was quiet while she fed him, quieter than they usually were. As she used her fingers to guide food to his mouth, the older man noticed how thin they were. Though not as transparent as his own skin, her flesh had taken on a pallid tone. Bright blue veins sprouted from her wrists and into her elbow, a colorful road map to her heart. “Draco has to go,” he said finally, holding up his hand to stop her. Gladius wrapped his long thin fingers around her wrist and held it in place. “I will not let this happen to our people.” Ninorra lowered his hand to the bed. “Get some rest. I’ll come back to check on you.” Again, he did not argue. Gladius could tell when someone was being as stubborn as he was. Draco watched as Ninorra left his father’s bedroom. Closing his door behind her, she put a hand over her eyes. Though they did not speak often, he understood the extent of their relationship. His father had once told him that he tolerated the girl’s company out of charity, but Draco knew better. He’d been to war, he’d been treated by doctors, and there was little more comforting at one’s weakest moments than the presence of a woman. Had there been some sort of emergency, he knew she would call for him. However, her tears told him something different; it would be soon. He gave her a few moments before gently rapping at her door. “..Ninorra, are you alright?” After a quick shuffling of feet and fabric, the door slid open. Ninorra’s eyes were dry, but red. Her nose and cheeks were bright with embarrassment, and she sniffled before answering him. “I’m fine.” Avoiding his eyes, she was frail in comparison to Draco. Though they both suffered the effects of their Sunwell’s destruction, their youth was a saving grace. “How much longer do you think he has?” Ninorra finally turned her eyes toward Draco, who looked so much like a young version of his father that it forced a gasping sob that she immediately covered with her hands. “I don’t know. Not long. I’m sorry, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t really know how else to help him.” “Do not apologize,” Draco said in a low voice, grasping the younger woman’s shoulder. “You are giving him comfort. I understand. It is all one can do, now. Just…” He looked around for a moment. “…thank you. For making his last days comfortable.” “I should be thanking him,” she said quickly, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. “For letting me be here. I mean, I have been, I just… I’ve never really known what it was like to have what you have.” Draco raised an eyebrow. “A parent who cares for you,” she continued. “A father. I never knew mine, but, your father, he loves you. He says harsh things to you, but, I know that’s what he does to people he cares about. He just doesn’t want you to see him like this. That’s why he lets me help him, really. Because it doesn’t matter what he looks like in my eyes. It’s the image of him in yours he doesn’t want to change.” The younger Visca looked away. Ninorra pat his hand reassuringly, and they stood in silence for a long while.
  14. A Drain on Life

    23 years after the First War (Year 597 by the King's Calendar) It had been a hard year for Ninorra. Three years after the Scourge invasion, and Silvermoon was still attempting to rebuild, despite that fact that their remaining citizens were dropping like flies. The youngest and oldest among them were the first to go, followed by anyone who could not find access to magic. Their economy had yet to stabilize, and in the ensuing chaos, crime was beginning to creep into their surviving population. Theft of magical items was rampant, and many of the highborn hoarded their goods only to be slaughtered by desperate starving elves. Ninorra managed to keep herself busy by working with stonemasons. Since being asked to leave one home, she found refuge at night in various shelters, getting very little sleep as her fellow homeless Blood Elves cried out with hunger throughout the night. She found, however, that if she could continue to sing that she felt at least a bit more energized. Those around her also benefitted, and for a time she was appreciated as both a skilled bricklayer and a singer. She had grown since the Scourge. Taller, her figure starting to show signs of womanhood, she was just beginning to be regarded as an adult by her fellow Blood Elves. Though there were some who still responded to her red eyes suspiciously, she found that if she worked as hard as her peers, they tended to see past them. “We all have things we are not proud of,” said an older Sin’dorei, as they worked together on laying foundation for a new library. She had mostly been keeping to herself, but the sound of his voice jolted her. Ninorra was spreading mortar on the ground, her long black hair tied back into a braid, strands matted to her forehead. Like everyone else, she looked exhausted. The older man, however, seemed worse for wear. He was tall, much taller than anyone else working that day, and put off an air of both dignity and a demand for respect. Long white hair tied back in a ponytail revealed a heavily scarred face, and both a missing eye and arm. He was using his remaining arm to carefully lay bricks in a circular pattern in the ground. Ninorra stood up straight for a moment to speak to him. “I’m not ashamed of anything,” she said calmly, glancing toward the other elves. They seemed too preoccupied with their own work to care about their conversation. The older elf looked up at her, his one blue eye studying the young woman for a moment. “..then you are luckier than most.” She saw that he was having trouble with the bricks. Wearing worker’s clothes revealed a sinewy arm, long since drained of most of its muscle. His hand shook as he placed each brick into position, jaw clenched with determination at the task. “You look like you could use a hand,” Ninorra said with a smile, approaching him with dimples still in her gaunt cheeks. There was a pause before the older man laughed, pausing in his work to eye Ninorra as she drew close to him. “There was a time when that kind of joke would get someone killed.” She knelt in the ground beside him, wiping sweat from her forehead before reaching for the bricks at his side. “Then I guess I am lucky.” Together, they lay out a pattern in the ground. Waves of bricks produced the road leading to the new foundation, and by the time they were finished, the sun was setting behind the Court of the Sun. Ninorra stood and put her hands on the small of her back, stretching. Most of the other laborers had gone home for the day, leaving her and the old bricklayer together to finish their work. She watched him study the ground, checking for mistakes. “I think you did alright, for a beginner,” she said while reaching for the waterskin at her side. Ninorra handed it to the older man, who took it begrudgingly. “You have a big mouth for a little girl,” he grunted, before taking a long drink. She could see the water travel down his neck, thin as he’d become. “What’s your name?” She took back the waterskin and attached it to her belt. “Ninorra,” she answered, an eyebrow raised in his direction. “And yourself?” He gave a short laugh, as if the question itself was ridiculous. “You don’t know?” “I’m not a mind-reader,” she retorted. “No, but you’re an impertinent little girl who doesn’t know Lord Gladius Visca when she sees him,” he said proudly before shaking his head. “Though in these times it hardly matters.” Ninorra felt her face redden with embarrassment. She could tell he was once a fighter, but the idea that he might be a noble was a surprise. Dropping to one knee, she bowed her head respectfully. “Forgive me, Lord Visca. I didn’t know.” Gladius’ felt his expression expression soften in spite of himself. “There’s no need for that. We’re all of us working to rebuild. Your skill is admirable.” Smiling again, Ninorra stood and dusted off her hands. “Well, I’m not bad with rocks but I make a better bard than I do a bricklayer,” she admitted. “I heard you singing before,” Gladius admitted. “The Search for the Sun. I remember hearing that when I was a boy.” As if on cue, Ninorra recited one of the verses: “He sailed across the sea with them “He who walks the day “Found the land of Quel’Thalas “Here the Highborne would stay” Gladius looked past Ninorra and toward the sun, the lines of his face darker. “There will come a time when those songs will be more than just a distraction from our hunger. We will need bards to remind us of who we are, and where we came from. The wars we fought and won, and the ones we lost along the way…” She cocked her head at him, curiously. “Do you have any stories, Lord Visca?” Gladius frowned at the girl. “I am a veteran of the Troll Wars. I have defended this land against invaders since before you were a glint in your grandfather’s eye. I could tell you stories that would shatter you.” Ninorra shrugged, looking away proudly. “Can they be any worse than being massacred by the Scourge? Running away while everyone you know dies around you? Or trying to rebuild when you have nothing?” There was silence between them, then. Gladius grunted and stretched his own back, a series of pops cracking in his spine. He took a few laborious steps toward Ninorra. “It’s not safe out alone. The addicts are getting bolder in their need, and will not hesitate to grab a child just to satiate their need. I will see you back to your home.” With a sad laugh, Ninorra shook her head. “That would be nice, but I don’t have one. Me and the other plebians have been holing up in shelters nearby.” Gladius frowned deeply, his disapproval obvious. Putting his only hand on Ninorra’s shoulder, the older man prompted a surprised yelp from her. “Come on, then,” he demanded, nodding down the road. “You can come with me.” Ninorra smirked and glanced at his hand. “Awful quick to be inviting a girl home with you, aren’t you?” “I’m not doing it out of charity,” he assured her, turning to walk. His gait was slow and deliberate, as he favored one side and his breaths became slightly labored. “I expect you to continue to help rebuilding the city. I can’t very well leave you out to be attacked by some wretched addicts. We have to do what we can to help each other. It is the only way our people will survive.” “Then I accept your offer,” Ninorra said, walking beside him. She noticed that he seemed a bit slow, and tucked the information away in her head. “So long as you know I’m going to hound you for some stories. I could always use more songs.” Gladius grunted and shook his head. “The ignorance of youth…” Together, they walked to Visca Manor. There was an air of uncertainty, as if neither knew what they were really doing.
  15. A Drain on Life

    22 years after the First War (Year 596 by the King's Calendar) Quel’thalas was in ruins. Two years after the Scourge invasion, the High Elves were still making an attempt to rebuild. It was not going well. With most of their population dead, the responsibility fell on the shoulders of those left. However, with the desecration and immediate annihilation of the Sunwell, the remaining elves were weaker than ever. Though Prince Kael’thas’ decision to have the Sunwell destroyed may have saved his remaining subjects from the immediate threat of Kel’Thuzad’s tainting of their precious font, it also cut off their source of power. With nothing from which to draw their need for arcane magic, the elves began to fade. They seemed a shadow of their former selves. In the immediate aftermath of the Scourge, they found themselves with a few areas in Silvermoon city that could be salvaged. High and lowborn alike worked together; burning the corpses of their fallen brethren, burning the corpses of the Scourge. The smell of burning flesh became a constant odor, a reminder of their trauma that would cling to the city even after the last body turned to ash. Though their burial rituals called for more than pyres, the sheer number of the dead would not allow for individual funerals. Together, the survivors surrounded massive bonfires, many of them holding hands with the strangers beside them. Sin’dorei, they called themselves. Blood Elves. The blood of the fallen marked them, each survivor with their own memories of the battle and the loss. Only a few days after the Sunwell was gone, they all began to feel the effects. A hunger at first, small and nagging. Then an obsession. Daily, they worked to clean their city, painfully aware that it might be meaningless. They were getting fewer and fewer, now. After so much death, the Blood Elves didn’t have the heart to kill those too weakened by their addiction, and cast them into the ruins instead. Falling to fits of madness, they walked like the dead through the dead earth, hopelessly searching for something, anything, to feed themselves. Most starved to death. Amongst those still sane and living were very few children. One of them, an adolescent with red eyes and black hair, made the attempt to help wherever she could. It was not easy, and some regarded her eyes distrustfully, but most did not have the energy to discriminate. Side by side with those who might have once demanded she not be within a few yards of their presence, Ninorra mixed mortar and re-laid bricks. Her guitar had been lost in the invasion, but she found that for most people, a voice was enough. Sometimes, as they worked in lines to patch broken buildings and sweep debris, she would begin a song. Quiet at first, it would build with the addition of each voice, until the Sin’dorei could be heard throughout the remains of their city. “A cold wind blows o’er Silvermoon “Penance for the living “Who work within the ruins, broken, “Starving, walking, building “They’ve burned their fallen and their foes “Buried all the ashes “Sent their starving to the ruins “Trembled with the masses “But still we stand amongst the sun “Children of the Blood en masse “Undeterred by death and dying “For the honor of Quel’thalas “Glory to the Sin’dorei “Children of the Blood, we stand “Resolved, steadfast, obstinate “Rebuild our sacred land” Her voice was hoarse, but they joined her, and theirs were hoarse as well. In between rebuilding efforts, many of the Sin’dorei searched for ways to satiate themselves. Looting the homes of their dead, they hunted for enchanted objects, anything with magic from which to feed. Ninorra, like the rest, could feel herself paling. Even actual food was difficult to obtain after the Scourge razed their fields and destroyed populations of wild game. She could feel the bones in her face, her chest and her legs protruding. Money, though some still held on to it for sentimental purposes, was meaningless. At night, the survivors who had no home to return to would gather together and find refuge among those charitable enough to help. For some, this meant sleeping in the grand mansions still standing. For others, it meant basements, and even storage rooms. Ninorra, having made herself useful by proving to be skilled in working with stone, was allowed a bed of straw in the home of a mason who had thankfully survived the Scourge. He and his family, a wife and one son around Ninorra’s age, welcomed her as a guest and shared what little food they could. In return, she worked beside them and brought songs. Rumors were spreading about their prince, Kael’thas, and his desire to help his people. If a solution could not be found soon, it was common knowledge that the Blood Elves would fade to nothing. At night, when returning to the mason’s home, Ninorra and the family would discuss their options. “I’ll look for more tomorrow,” promised Aethis, the mason’s son. “The enchanted eyeglass I found yesterday won’t last us much longer.” The mason did not argue. He needed his son’s strength to lay brick, but the survival of their family was a more immediate need and his own size made it impossible to sneak as easily as his child. “Be careful,” he warned, but said no more. Days later, the boy was found dead. He had been stabbed by someone, perhaps as they fought over a trinket. Desperation was turning the Sin’dorei against one another. In his despair, the mason asked Ninorra to leave.