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About Qabian

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  1. Keeping Secrets

    Espionage is never simple. Whatever you are trying to get from your enemies, someone on your side is simply waiting for an opportunity to give to them. Back when Kael'thas was still a force to be reckoned with, Qabian played the double agent game consistently and not always smoothly, but he recognized early which side was going to win, and he refused to go down with the ship. With the current state of the Horde, there were many and more who would like to see Sylvanas knocked off her pedestal, but Qabian was not one of them. He had his issues with her, but compared to his issues with Thrall and Garrosh, they were minimal. His days of playing the Horde against itself were at least temporarily over. He did, however, have enough experience to realize that whatever was happening on his side would be mirrored on the other. For the moment, the easiest of his enemy to exploit were the Dark Irons. There would always be those who, while following their queen as faithfully as they could, wouldn't be able to resist sticking it to their old enemies whenever the opportunity arose. Now that there were some Dark Irons skulking around the Kirin Tor hoping to help fight demons, they were also relatively easy to contact. In exchange for whatever they needed that he had the ability to provide, usually murder easily traced to someone other than the person who ordered it, Qabian had a small number of Alliance mages willing to work for him. However, after the past several weeks, Qabian was getting seriously tired of seeing dwarves. Yes, they'd done everything he asked, even after he went to check their reports himself after the third false sighting, but every time he met with them and they gave their collective shrugs he had to resist the urge to just burn them all to ash. He was sure they could sense it in him, but they all seemed perfectly content to keep draining him of resources as long as he was willing to offer. Qabian began to wonder if he wasn't being played. Qabian burst into his room in Silvermoon and tossed his blade to one side with a clatter. Unrolled on top of his desk was a crude map of Azeroth, details unnecessary for its purpose. Red ink Xs were scattered across Alliance-controlled locations. Qabian snatched up a quill, dipped it in something, and slashed a new red X over what would have been Nethergarde Keep. He dropped the quill haphazardly and began to pace about the small room. His hunt for the girl had been concerned with covering as wide an area as shallow as possible, just scouting for sightings, not precise locations or hideouts. He was fairly certain she wouldn't be audacious enough to hide anywhere neutral or Horde controlled, which reduced the search area considerably. The Isles themselves were well covered. But all the while he pulled the puppet strings of another plot, his dwarves continued to turn up more and more nothing. He tapped the map as he passed by it in his pacing. "If I were trying to hide..." He muttered to himself, then amended his thought. "If I were a scared human girl trying to hide, and not in any of the places I've already looked. Hmm, Pandaria or Outland?" ~~ Allerian Stronghold was in flames behind Qabian when the goblin tracked him down with the message. The light from the fires lit the page as he read the jagged dwarvish words. "She's been spotted in the Shrine of Seven Stars. I'm confident it's her this time. She will be difficult to get to, though. She does not seem to leave. -K" A horrible grin stretched across Qabian's face. The location was more than enough. He opened a portal to Undercity. It was time to prepare Anee's next package.
  2. Keeping Secrets

    Qabian paced back and forth in his small apartment in Silvermoon. It was taking much too long to hear about the effects of his latest scheme. It must have gone awry. The human was more careful than Qabian had expected, more professional perhaps. Syreena had been asking about it, but he had nothing to tell her. He didn't mind telling her that he had done something and it hadn't gone as planned, but not having the details of why or how was frustrating. It was time to move on. He stopped at his desk and penned a quick letter. -- Several days later, as Daerek was moving through Dalaran in the early evening, three dark, burly figures suddenly leapt out of the alley between the Violet Citadel and the magic shop and grabbed the mage. One of them grabbed his arms. Another covered his mouth and nose with a big green hand. Another yanked a dark sack down over Daerek's head as they dragged him back down the alley. They didn't let him breathe again until he stopped struggling. When Daerek came to, he found himself on his knees with his hands tied behind his back. Beneath his knees, he could feel wood flooring, but it wobbled a little, as though floating on top of water. Someone removed the bag from his head and he blinked as his eyes adjusted to the light, which was mercifully dim, though the source was not apparent. He was in a room not unlike the Underbelly's black market, but devoid of any furnishings but a small table. A slim Forsaken woman in an out-of-place black satin pantsuit and high heels sat on the table, swinging crossed legs back and forth. "Good morning," she said, in a somewhat gravelly voice with a sing-song tone, stretching out the black cloth of the sack that had been over his head. Daerek craned his neck to look around. There was no noticeable exit, and an ominous looking orc dressed in black leather stood silently in the shadows. "We're going to ask you some questions today," the woman said, hopping off the table. Her metal lower jaw clacked slightly with each word she spoke. She turned and faced away from him, busying herself with something on the table. "Well, just one, really." She winked one of her glowing yellow eyes at him over her shoulder as she pulled on a pair of black rubber-looking gloves. Her bone fingertips tore right through them, so it seemed as though the only reason she put them on was to make the snapping sound against her wrists. She approached him with what looked like a pair of pliers in one hand, snapping them toward him. As she moved away from the table, he could just see the full set of ominous looking tools she had rolled out on its top. She crouched in front of him and placed the pliers against his face. "Where's Anee?" Daerek glared at her, but said nothing. "Oooh," she crooned. She may have been smiling, but it would have been impossible to tell with that much metal being part of her face. "I love when they fight it. Whenever they fight, I get to add to my collection." She snapped the pliers right in front of his nose. "I know who you work for," Daerek said, unimpressed by her threats. "Do you?" she said, crooking her head delightedly. "So do I. She's so shiny and useful. Her name is Gold and you can take her anywhere." She cackled, then stalked around behind him and leaned down over him as she placed the mouth of the pliers around his pinky finger. "Care to reconsider answering the question? Where is Anee?" Daerek kept his mouth firmly shut. The snap of the small bone reverberated up his arm to the base of his skull. He bit down on the inside of his lip to keep himself from screaming, but a grimace of pain crossed his face. She leaned further over him, two bone fingertips under his chin to tilt his face up to hers. "Lovely," she said. "But we're just getting started. Where's the girl?" When the second bone snapped, he couldn't hold back a reaction to the pain. ~~ The orc yanked Daerek's head from the water by his hair and the human gasped for air. "The girl?" the dead woman hissed. "I told you," Daerek grunted, his voice hoarse and as flat as it had been once the real pain had started. She hadn't broken him yet. He wouldn't let her. He'd survived worse. "I don't know. She just left." "Fine. We're done here." The woman made a gesture and the orc dropped Daerek to the wooden floor where the young man groaned quietly and rolled onto his back. The results of the past few hours were far from pleasant. Several of his fingers had been broken. One of his arms and a kneecap were massively swollen, shattered by the swung weights that had battered the bones. The other arm had pieces of skin sticking up from where they'd been tugged and peeled back. Both his shoulders had been torn from their sockets. There was a collar around his neck with inward facing spikes, hiding small round burn marks and a brand that looked like the Horde symbol on one side of his neck. His face was left curiously unmarred, but was slick with water after several threats of drowning, including one that required resuscitation. The woman stepped to one side of the small room and held a hand to her ear as she spoke. Her voice was quiet, but audible. "Nothing," she said. "I believe he may actually not know, but I'd need more time to be sure." A pause. "Three days. Starvation, loud noise, keep the lights on-- Yes, sir." She stepped back across the room to where Daerek lay, her stance and tone of voice betrayed her disappointment. She leaned down over him, peering into his face. He winced when she brushed a wet hair off his forehead. "Lucky you," she said. "He found her. You're not needed anymore." Suspicion crossed Daerek's face, his eyes narrowing. "I thought you worked for Gold," he muttered. She laughed lightly. "Someone has to hand her over." "You gonna kill me now?" "No, sweetie." She stood and gestured for the orc. "That's not my job." She tugged the black bag back over Daerek's head, then the orc slung the the young man roughly over his shoulder. "Dump him outside Findle's. Someone from the Uncrowned will trip over him," the dead woman's voice said. The orc grunted in response. There was a sharp pain at the back of Daerek's head, a single note in the symphony of pain he was feeling, and then everything went dark and, for a time, he felt nothing at all.
  3. Time Shattered

    If you want to be taken seriously, don't talk about dragons. Ever. It doesn't matter how real they are, how damaging they are to the world, how involved they are in your life, just don't. I try to mention them only in terms of deflection. Last week, they were an excuse for my staring at the doorway. In reality, I was staring at the doorway to make it look like I was waiting for someone with the idea that may leave me alone to listen. But then the so-called Messenger shows up (Of course he does. Discuss him too long and he is summoned?) and I have to bite my tongue. Do I wonder who else he rescued? No. I force myself not to wonder. It was only me, and only this me, otherwise everything I'm standing on starts to crumble. Where was he? Where do you think he was? Walking timeways? Discovering enlightenment in the line between what was and what might have been? No. He was in a pit, talking to rocks. And when the shadow of his former self takes over again, he'll go right back there. It's not reliving your life's worst moments that is the greatest torture of cyclical time. It's perpetually living new lives, making new errors, learning new lessons, and then stepping out the other side of all of them and not having the slightest idea which of them were real. Did you learn anything? Thankfully, most of them have faded. All of the time in between has faded, and a significant amount of the time before. I'm building my self on false, crumbled experiences, but I work with what I have, yes? I work with what I know. At least I don't wake up in strange bars. Who tells people they're supposed to work alongside that they're not actually people? There are certain people I'd say that to without hesitating. None of them were there. Best to keep the interrogator close enough to kill.
  4. Time Shattered

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. What a stupid platitude. And yet, the longer one lives, the more truth there seems to be in it. Also, there's nothing new under the sun. Illidan's gone out of his way to prove the first one true and the second false. Nice to see there was no redemption. Sacrificed everything, he says, and has all his little followers spouting the same. Sacrificed all the people on the world to save the rock they can no longer walk on. Hilarious. Sacrificed what? And for what exactly? Maiev and Khadgar are no doubt introducing bricks to their own faces about now, or they should be. The boy is going to be a thorn in my side. He's not that incapable, nor does he overly interfere with me, but his parents are unsurprisingly stymieing my capacity to convince him to get himself killed. I'm working on it, though. There weren't any implications. If there were, I'm the only one who made them, and I'm determined not to see them if they came from others. There's a difference between willingness to do something and actively seeking it out, hm? Sometimes there's simply no accounting for taste.
  5. Spelling Trouble

    Qabian arranged for the child to meet him by the statue of Antonidas again. The mage was wearing blue this time, no longer opting for the extremely plain robes and no longer wearing a mask about town, but still refraining from the level of ostentatious that was his usual preference. He also continued to keep his hired Kirin Tor watching the street. Punctual as usual, Damian arrived in what looked like well-crafted black pants and a white tunic cinched by a leather belt. He was dressed modestly, for someone from such a well off family, but it seemed as if there was an effort being made to ignore that. His curly white hair seened recently trimmed, but still wouldn't lie flat against his head. Slung over one shoulder was a leather satchel, where he stored his notebook, quill, several reference books and, at his mother's insistence, a first aid kit. "Sir," he said politely to the magister, bowing his head respectfully. Qabian smirked at the child's approach. Something about the white tunic and curls was bringing the innocence to slaughter metaphor into sharp relief. "Young master." Qabian offered a curt nod. "How have you been finding the city? Had the opportunity to visit any libraries yet?" "Yes sir," Damian answered with a nod. "I've been studying fire elementals and the War of the Three Hammers." Qabian tilted his head slightly. "What drew you to those subjects?" "My mother has a staff from the Firelands. It's very old and powerful," the boy explained. "She said that if you find things like that, it's important to know their origin so you can use it. If you don't, you might wind up using it incorrectly. I'd like to go to the Firelands, someday." There was a hint of a smile on his face as he said this. "She's not entirely wrong. We could go there right now, but... not today, I suppose." Qabian shrugged, smirking unpleasantly. "Do you know who this is?" The mage gestured to the statue beside him. Damian shook his head slowly. "No, sir." Qabian raised an eyebrow. "His name was Antonidas. He led the Kirin Tor for most of its recent history. Human. Of course." Qabian's tone was bitter. "A child prodigy. I suppose he's meant to be a testament to what such a child can become." He looked pointedly at Damian as he spoke. "Jaina was one of his apprentices. He was, amusingly, ultimately killed by Jaina's own pet Arthas when the Scourge ransacked this very city. There is one reason and one reason only why this man's spirit does not still haunt this place. Can you imagine what that might be?" "Was.. his spirit freed by Prince Kael'thas? I remember reading about that," Damian said quickly. "There were a few spirits left, and his was one of them. The Prince freed him." "Precisely. Kael'thas," Qabian hissed. "If it weren't for Kael'thas, if it weren't for us, if it weren't for me, Jaina's precious old man would still be fighting nightmares long since dead. And she had the audacity to try and erase us from this city?" Qabian spat on the small plaque in front of the statue. "They would have been devoured by the Legion before even learning how to light candles if it weren't for us. We should have let it happen." Qabian took a deep breath, stifling the more obvious edge to his anger. "But here we are. Again. Do you want to see what they're hiding in that tower?" He gestured towards the Violet Citadel. Damian looked toward the tower, his brow furrowed in thought. Throughout the rant, he took mental notes; both on Qabian's words, and his candor. " that allowed?" Qabian nodded. "If you're my apprentice. However, there are no stairs or doors. There's only one way in." He smiled, an oddly incongruous expression, and opened a portal. There was an obvious amount of thought that went into Damian's decision making. Staring at the portal, he seemed to be going over his options. Go through the portal and risk his emotionally unstable mentor throwing him off a cliff? Trust him not to murder him at the first opportunity. The boy put a hand against his bag and held it close to himself, then walked through the portal. Qabian's smirk stretched into a grin at the child's reticence. Smart kid, considering all that had been said in his presence. The question of why the portal didn't simply open over old Dalaran's crevasse went unanswered, though, as both mage and apprentice stepped from the portal into a open foyer. In front of them was a large fountain where two statues that looked not unlike the one they had just left stood holding glittering staves over an eternally overflowing vessel. The unblinking eye of the Kirin Tor featured prominently in the decor around the high-ceilinged hall, and the walls were covered with so many extravagantly framed paintings -- many of them portraits that seemed to move -- and stone busts of mages past that the stonework behind them was difficult to see. Books and scrolls lay about haphazardly on almost every surface. Mages of all races went about their business, some walking by casually while chatting in pairs, others alone but rushing quickly from one place to another, thoughtlessly interspersing their quick jogging pace with shimmering blinks across the space ahead of them. Conspicuously absent was any sign of children whatsoever. "This is the Hall of the Guardian. The books are up those stairs behind the fountain, but I doubt we'll get to those today. Follow me," Qabian explained, turning to his left towards a set of stairs curving slightly downward. Damian followed Qabian closely, careful not to let himself be distracted by all of the sights and sounds. He was curious, but understood the price of curiosity. Qabian led the boy through a hall where several mages were casting spells at large constructs of floating shields and weapons surrounding shimmering blue crystals. "These are for training. Again, we may get to them later." He moved to the back of the room where against every wall were desks and benches cluttered with books and scrolls. The space was surprisingly quiet, despite the chaos of the practical spellcasting training that flashed behind them. He smiled strangely as he gestured to the room and the mages working there. "Almost everyone here is an apprentice like you." Qabian approached an empty space at a bench and disdainfully moved a steaming mug of something someone had left behind to one side. "Now tell me," he said quietly to the boy. "How are your demons treating you since you arrived?" "They've been quiet. Mostly," he answered awkwardly, shifting from one foot to the other. It was clear that this was a subject Damian was not comfortable with. "Usually the demons that talked to me were my mother's, but sometimes I heard voices. Since I came here I haven't heard them unless I walked too close to that sewer that leads to the Dreadscar Rift. They don't really say much, unless I'm in trouble or they're trying to help me with something." Qabian tilted his head slightly as he listened to the boy's explanation. "Curious. I had thought perhaps because this place is far closer to a great deal more Legion activity than Quel'thalas that there would have been a significant increase in their demands on your mind, but it seems they only bother with you when they have reason?" Qabian shrugged. "Do you want to fix that, to stop them, or at least look into and experiment with stopping them? Or are you fine with the way things are?" "How would I stop them completely?" The boy asked cautiously, tilting his head. "Is that possible?" "It's difficult to know without looking further into the details and causes of why and how you hear them in the first place, but I'm sure you can imagine given magic's tendency to provoke the Legion that we have people who specialize in defending against just that sort of thing. It's not my specialty, but there are people I could ask. You might not like how such research turns out, though, as it would be... experimental at best," Qabian explained. The tone of his voice sounded sincere, but there was something not quite right about the offer. "Experimental?" Damian repeated. Qabian's tone wasn't lost on him. He knew better than to believe the magister had his best interest at heart, but if he was going to make good on his promise, he couldn't allow himself to be afraid of the outcome. "I don't mind. I'm not afraid. My mother is a warlock, but that's not what I want to do." Qabian smirked slyly. "Good. You know the line between mages and warlocks may not be as clear as some assume. Have you heard of the Empyrean Society?" Qabian glanced sideways as he dropped the name. Damian shook his head. "No. Never. Are they.. a hybrid class sort?" "They are mages, for now, but they believe that the study of magic should not be limited. They work with shadow and fel magic as well as elemental and arcane." Qabian looked upward thoughtfully. "I wonder if they bother with light. I doubt it. Too philosophical, not enough power in it for them," he mused. "The Kirin Tor disagrees entirely with that philosphy, however, and they are not on good terms. Mages opening themselves up to working with fel magic generally aren't approved of in the current climate." He kept his voice low. The boy eyed Qabian, then looked around them. They were surrounded by others, but those others seemed too distracted by their own work to pay much attention to the red haired magister and his apprentice. "..I didn't think we'd be breaking the rules on the very first day," he admitted, then smiled a little. "But if you can do it all, why wouldn't you?" Qabian finally bothered to sit down in one of the wooden chairs before the bench and leaned back, steepling his fingers. "Perhaps if I had ever felt that I reached my limit, I would consider expanding those particular horizons, but I don't need to do it all. I resist reaching into frost as it is. Moving beyond that... certainly isn't worth the risks. I have so much farther to go with the arcane. I'm a good, pure mage." He smirked horribly. "But if you ever start to feel limited? They're out there. You'll just have to, yes, break the rules, if that's something you want." "For now, I want to learn," Damian said with a determined frown. "I can ignore the demons. They're noisy, but I know what it is they're trying to do. They did the same thing to my mother and I know that eventually, she'll be corrupted by it. My uncle became an Illidari. He has to cover himself in tattoos just to control it. That's not what I want." Qabian nodded, a hand on his chin. "Hmm. Can you speak Common?" "Not fluently," Damian admitted a little shamefully. "But Steinburg taught me basic stuff. I can understand most of it." "That's good enough. Filthy language, but it will widen the options for who I can go to for help." He sat forward and straightened his robes. "Now what do you know about the Guardian this place is named after?" "I didn't know it was named after a particular guardian.. I know about the guardians Aegwynn, and Medivh." "You are correct. Although it could have been named after the first," Qabian said with a glance toward the stairwell, "I believe this Hall is simply named after the role rather than any individual, and seeing as there can only be one at any given time... The Guardian. But what do you know of the role, or of those two you mentioned?" "I know the Kirin Tor appointed a guardian," Damian began slowly, looking up as he recited. " He or she is supposed to protect the realm. They can't refuse the King if summoned. The King of Stormwind, that is.. Medivh was a guardian, but he was corrupted by the fel. He's responsible for the orcs coming here. His mother, Aegwynn, served for almost five hundred years before him." Qabian raised an eyebrow. "You've had some curious instruction. Have you heard of the Council of Tirisfal? Do you know why a Guardian was ever needed?" Damian smiled a little. "Steinburg told me. Since he's human, he knows stuff from both sides. The Council of Tirisfal is supposed to elect the Guardian. They selected a guardian to protect Azeroth against demons." Qabian steepled his fingers again. "I suspect he was wrong on many things. We made the Guardian, you and I, our people. It is only of the Kirin Tor in as much as it was Dalaran that caused a need for such a thing. A bunch of barbarians from Arathor thought they could toy with magic, and when the streets of their city inevitably filled with demons, they begged us for help. Silvermoon needed to step in and prevent them from setting their own hair on fire, prevent them from repeating the Highborne's mistakes that we already knew about and they blundered into like thoughtless morons. The Guardian was our attempt at helping them keep themselves from falling down the stairs like the infants they are." Qabian looked around the hall with an expression of disdain. "All these people, all these races, they've all forgotten that, of course. This would all have fallen apart at its inception, the world would have been eaten the moment humans touched magic, had it not been for us. They benefit from what is ours while never acknowledging who it actually belongs to." Damian cocked his head to one side at the explanation. "..but.. we're still a part of it all. They can't deny that, right? And why would they want to? We'll always be better at this than they are. It's what we're made of." Qabian grinned. "Exactly." His grin faded instantly. "But go down to the bottom of this tower and see who is watching the streets, see who owns this city. It would not exist without us, but they are trying to erase us. We are still a part of it, yes, for now, but we have been pushed to the side and all but forgotten by the arrogance of those who owe us everything. And every high elf who keeps their eyes blue, who refuses to touch the fel, who refuses to rename themselves after the blood of those we lost, is nothing but the worst kind of traitor." That sentence turned low and angry as the mage glared at the floor, but he suddenly straightened up in his chair and turned his focus back to the boy. "You're very young to inquire about this, but we've touched on the subject before. Have you killed?" The boy shook his head slowly. He turned to look back at Qabian, pushing the fear of what he might have had in mind deep into the pit of his stomach. There was no time for fear or apprehension, now. "No." Qabian tilted his head with a sly smirk. "Really now? I know, or at least have made the deduction that you haven't killed a person. That's perfectly reasonable at your age. I'd be somewhat suspicious if you had, to be honest. But have you ever killed anything? Small creatures? Insects? A plant?" "..a plant?" He repeated, blinking a few times. "I.. guess maybe a plant? No animals that I can think of, though.. we don't kill our own meat, and my mother only gardens flowers. I've never really had any pets." Qabian laughed. "While I might advocate having pets for the purpose of killing them, it does sound counterintuitive. But it does strike me as odd that you might have never swatted an insect. If I recall my youth correctly, which it's quite possible I do not, boys your age frequently pulled the wings off flies and set fire to anthills." He stood from his chair and moved toward the balcony behind the training constructs. "Perhaps creatures are where we should start then. I've seen you take on stationary objects with fire. How's your accuracy with moving targets?" "It's been getting better," Damian answered quickly, following the magister closely behind. "Steinburg taught me how to shoot projectiles at clay disks. He has this machine that shoots them. He said usually, humans and dwarves use them for shooting guns but taught me to shoot fire at them instead." Qabian pushed one of the tables around the balcony to one side and stood at the railing, looking out over the city of Dalaran far below. The Hall was a curious place. From the city, it couldn't be seen, but from inside, the city was clearly visible. "There aren't many birds up here, but a few find their way and think it's ideal for nesting." He glanced upwards. "Provided the fel bats aren't around. If you see one, kill it. In the meantime, do you have any questions?" Damian chewed on the inside of his cheek. "..I'm killing birds? For how long?" Qabian smirked. "Start with one." The boy turned toward the balcony, furrowing his brow as he considered his assignment. He wasn't happy with the idea of killing innocent birds, but if they were making nests where they didn't belong, there wasn't much else anyone could do besides waste time removing them. Focusing on a bird that flew in front of them both, Damian waited until it was close enough that he could see its eyes. Only then did he point a finger in its direction and send a small ball of fire zooming toward the creature, engulfing it with flames for a moment before it fell blackened to the ground. Qabian watched the charred bird fall. It was a long way down. "Good. How do you feel?" Damian shrugged, but took a moment to reply. "..I don't know. Bored?" Qabian chuckled. "That bird's eggs will grow cold and never hatch. Or perhaps they've already hatched and the babies will starve now. Or perhaps its mate will wait for a return that will never happen. Did you consider any of that?" There was a moment where it seemed as if Damian considered his actions a little deeper. Perhaps even felt remorse. That moment passed quickly. "..they're just birds, though. Someone would have killed them, anyway." Qabian smirked. "Doubtful. No one cares about them much. Except us. Today. They would have lived out their lives, enjoying each other's company and the breeze, until they grew old and died, just as we do. But your capacity to move past empathy is something that will help you a great deal. Best to practice it when you can." "Yes sir," Damian said quietly, looking toward the sky again. A few more birds flew past them, carefree. "That and hitting a small moving target is no easy feat for a mage who spends more time with books than on the field. Well done. Do it again." Qabian clasped his hands behind his back as he waited for another bird to pass. "You mentioned the Dreadscar Rift. I know... nothing of it, other than that it exists, but have you been into the city's Underbelly?" "Once, with my mother," he admitted, eyeing another bird. As it flew close enough for him to see the its eyes clearly, the boy fired another blast of fire and let its blackened corpse fall to the ground. "It smells bad. There's a black market, there, and people fight. Mother didn't take me down there for very long. She just wanted to show me where the portal was." "Good shot. You may stop now if you wish." Qabian smiled unpleasantly. "Why did she want to show you the portal?" "The Black Harvest," he explained nonchalantly. "She told me that if.. something ever happened to her, and then I decide later that I want to learn from them, I should go there." Qabian grimaced. "I wouldn't recommend it, but I suppose if something happens to her before you deal with your own demon issues, it's only practical. The Kirin Tor and Tirisfalen have plenty of experience separating magic users from demons that would suggest going instead towards further demonic interaction is thoroughly unnecessary, but perhaps there's more going on with you and your mother than the ordinary seduction of power." Qabian shrugged. "She left instructions that you're not to leave the city, but she doesn't mind you going into the sewers?" he inquired. "Only with her," Damian corrected. "But if something happens to her and father, then yes, I guess I'd have to go by myself." Qabian scowled as he looked out over the city. "They're certainly doing their best to make it so that teaching you would both far simpler and far more interesting for you if both of them were dead." He turned back towards the Hall. "Is there anything particular you wish to learn?" Damian nodded quickly. "I want to learn how to really feel the magic that we use. I know I don't feel it yet, it doesn't feel like anything. Just what I'm made of, and it comes to the surface, but when I read about the best mages they all talk about this sort of.. I guess knowledge. Of the universe. That they feel from the inside, and it gives them this sort of power and understanding that others don't have." Qabian grinned. "Just what you're made of." He looked down at the boy. "That is the universe. Everyone else in here," he motioned to the hall and the other mages in it, "is made of dirt. You are made of magic. They all have to work and work and work, study and study and study, toiling their whole lives just to be able to do what you can do without a second thought. It's possible you will never feel it because you are it. You can't know it's a gift if you had it the day you were born. How can you know how good it is to breathe when you have never known what it's like to drown? But... I think I understand. You want more than you've known thus far. You want to at least know where everything else is. You want to see where the door opens to everything you haven't seen yet. You want the books that rip away the veil between you and phenomenal cosmic powers. Am I right?" Damian shrugged, a little embarrassed. He understood that what he was asking for might have seemed ridiculous, or at least that's why he kept it to himself."...yes." "It would be so much easier to show you that, or at least an easily tasted facet of it, if we could leave this bubble of a city. Karazhan, Ulduar, the elemental planes, the Tomb under this very city..." Qabian sighed. "But you can find smaller steps, echoes, hiding here in the books. The tomes that would do it for you instantly are not so easy to get even my hands on. But you were on the right track with your study of the elementals and the dwarf wars. Keep going further. Find what you can on the Firelands themselves. I recommend adding anything you can find on the Council of Tirisfal to your search. Khadgar is who he is because of Medivh. All of them are who they are because of Silvermoon." The towheaded boy nodded obediently. That he was being assigned to read more books didn't seem to put him off. Rather, the subject itself seemed to invigorate him. "Yes sir. I'll do that." "Good. I have other places to be," Qabian said. "I'd just leave you up here to do what you like, but given that there's no exit, I think your mother would worry about you and we should head back down, hm?" Damian looked around them for a moment, then down from the balcony. "Yes sir. I'll study for the rest of the day." Qabian nodded and opened a portal back to the city below.
  6. Keeping Secrets

    Qabian was working at his desk when a small pale blue crystal he had set to one side dimmed. He sighed, watching as the light went out of it completely, then a crack formed through its center, then it dissolved into dust. "So much for that," he muttered, making a space to arrange agreed-upon hazard pay. Later, he made a trip to Dalaran. As much as he wanted to talk to the thief himself, he knew that couldn't happen. There was still too much heat in the city. However, he did manage to find one of the legitimate Kirin Tor guards involved in apprethending the thief, pull them to one side, and inquire into details. Back in Silvermoon, he sat down to write a letter. Syreena, I have succeeded in making her afraid. That took very little effort. Simply inquiring into her existence and a few small threats were enough to send her on the run. Unfortunately, finding information that would lead to easily causing further misery has been far more difficult than I expected. She does not fit into the predictable pattern most ordinary humans fit. I do not believe I have yet succeeded in causing her actual harm. I may need to back off long enough for her to think she is safe to come out of hiding if my resources prove insufficient to track her down. In the meantime, I will see about causing harm indirectly through those she is connected to. I've also been told to relay the message that you're a bully. These people are children. ~Q
  7. Keeping Secrets

    A blood elf dressed as a Kirin Tor guardian, complete with fancy mask and spiky shoulders, quietly made sure no one was home. He then quietly slipped the lock on a window. He also quietly went about searching the place for what he'd been sent to find, filling hidden bags strapped about his person with various items. However, part of his contract was to leave as much mess as possible, so when he was just about ready to leave, he started making noise, a lot of noise, smashing chairs, pushing all the dishes out of the cupboards onto the floor. No amount of stealth or trickery was a match for the resident busybody of the small apartment complex currently seeing one of its units looted. The plump, silver-haired human woman that served as landlady made a quiet little "oooo" of a growl under her breath from her position in the hallway when wood started cracking and ceramic started breaking. It had been some time since she'd had to sneak anywhere, but nonetheless Gracie McClintock found herself trying to nudge open the apartment door with a cast iron frying skillet in-hand. Admittedly, a true professional would have been paying more attention, but with his back to the door as he tore open cushions and scattered the stuffing, the burglar was oblivious to the sound of the door opening or anything else. He didn't turn around until it was too late, just in time to see the skillet before it collided with his head. "Hmph," Gracie huffed, thwacking the downed elf with the skillet one more time for good measure before searching out something to bind him with. "Break into one of my apartments, why don't you!" She returned with some rope, kneeling down to bind the elf's hands and feet with skill that simply did not match her appearance. "These poor kids. They'll be so upset. Hmph." Once he was secured, the woman scowled down at him and popped him with the skillet a final time. She stepped out into the hallway, just for a few minutes, and when she returned, it was to stand guard over the man's prone form with her skillet in hand. The thief groaned only once over the next hour or so, shifting against his bonds, but he didn't put any effort into fighting. Whether or not he fully regained consciousness or not was difficult to tell with his Kirin Tor mask in place. Once he did come to and realized the predicament he was in, he kept very still, listening and waiting to see if at any point he would be left on his own before even attempting escape. The landlady stayed on guard until two more people arrived. The woman, apparently a female sin'dorei of average height, was clothed head to toe in nondescript leather. Her face was hidden by a mask. The man who joined her was tall and slim, human by build, wearing dark clothing. He wasn't masked at first, and from behind his own mask, the thief recognized the man by description as Daerek Smythe, one of the tenants. Daerek took Gracie out into the hall. Their low voices could be heard but their words could not before he stepped back in, tugging a mask over his own face. He took up a place by the doorway while the woman stalked quietly around the room. She came to stand next to the thief's body at one point, staring down at him from behind his body. "You're not Kirin Tor," she commented lightly, speaking faintly-accented Thalassian. "What gives you that idea?" the thief responded sarcastically in the same language, his voice hoarse. His whole body flinched as if just trying to talk hurt. The woman laughed, the sound bright and delighted. "She got you good, didn't she? Cast iron is nothing to play around with." The thief groaned, rolling to face away from her. "Whatever. Ya caught me. I got it. Ya want the stuff back? Gonna lock me up? What?" The woman chuckled and allowed him to face away from her, but she crouched slightly and made to tug off his mask. "Not yet. I want to know who you work for, first." The removed mask revealed a scarred face, one side burned at some point years ago, but young. His hair was close-cropped and blond. A few red welts were threatening to turn into huge bruises on his forehead and cheek. "That's nice, but he didn' give a name. They rarely do." The woman made a sound like she was sucking her teeth, reaching out to grab his jaw. She turned his face this way and that. "Oof. That had to have hurt." The thief winced again, but otherwise let the woman manhandle his face. After a moment of inspection, she spoke again. "And no name? That's fine. I didn't expect one. What'd he look like?" "White hair. Blue eyes," he continued only after she lets him go. "One o' them traitor types. Gave me this get-up, but..." He shrugged, then regretted it. "Ow! By the sun," he muttered. "Don' think he was in charge." "What makes you say that?" She shifted to crouch in front of him, cocking her head to the side. So long as he kept talking, she seemed inclined to refrain from causing him further pain. The man, meanwhile, kept silent and stiff by the door. If not for the way his chest moved to indicate his breathing, one might think he was a statue. "Just not my first tournament, y'know. Something seemed off, stiff, seemed more scared than anything," he said by way of explanation, closing his eyes. "Anyway, doesn' matter. It's all over now. Least I got the advance half." "Sure it matters," she said cajolingly. "What's your name, kid? Maybe I'll get you some pain relief potion if you tell me all polite-like." "My name? Lady, whatever you think's going on here, I don' matter. This hurts, but I been through so much worse, sure you can tell." He smirked at her. "Y'can have my name, though. I don' care. It's Jun. I'd say look me up if you need my services, but I'm not selling myself so well today." He chuckled, then winced again. The woman moved to begin patting him down, making it obvious that this wasn't her first tournament, either. "You never know what you might need, Jun. You got family?" He let her do what she wanted. "Me? No. Jus' the usual story." She found various odds and ends in pockets of various depths sewn into his Kirin Tor uniform, mostly anything he thought he might be able to pawn off. "Everybody's dead. Got to steal to live. Nobody gets hurt. 'Cept with the occasional frying pan." The woman still seemed to be taking care to not hurt him unnecessarily. "I guess I don't have to see about making sure anyone's taken care of in the event that you don't return home then," she said lightly, seeming to peer at his face again. A single hand raised and she snapped her fingers expectantly; the man jerked somewhat and strode forward, handing her a vial of red liquid he fished out of a small bag. "So this traitor type. Elf? Human? Other? What'd he wear? What'd he hire you to do?" She uncorked the vial and gently dabbed little bits of the potion onto his skillet wounds. The thief frowned at the implication, but showed no signs of hesitating with giving information. "Eh? Elf-type traitor. Y'know, the ones who didn't take the fel help and got kicked out of Silvermoon. Dressed like a mage, same tabard." He glanced down at his own impostor's uniform. "Out of place in the Underbelly, but those types are always looking to hire. Said to look for any information on the people living in here. Mail, documents, journals, anything with names on it, awards, medals. And anything else I found, I could keep." "You think he was real Kirin Tor?" she asked, admiring her handiwork on his face before gently patting an uninjured spot and tossing the recorked vial over her shoulder. The man scrambled to catch it before returning to his place at the door. The woman made to roll the thief over, allowing him the opportunity to do it on his own steam with a gentle coaxing shove. He shifted willingly, but a twisted grin crossed his face, for the first time looking like he might actually be a bad guy and not just an unfortunate accomplice. She found his fist behind his back tightly closed around something. She cocked her head to the side. "Youuuu wanna tell me what this is, sugar?" He slowly opened his fingers revealing a small dark crystal with cracks running through it. As he opened his hand, the crystal crumbled into dust that ran through his fingers. "This is how he knows the whole thing went south and not to bother meeting up with me." "Huh. Neat." She didn't seem bothered. "I don't suppose I can trust anything that came out of those pretty lips of yours?" The thief's nasty grin shifted to a sheepish smile. "Eh, I haven't lied, but probably best not to trust anyone in my line of work, yeah? Not unless the pay is good, anyway." The woman laughed that delighted laugh again, shifting yet again to peer at his face. After a moment, she tapped his lips almost playfully. "Anything else you want to share with me, sweetheart?" He laid back and relaxed, seeming curiously reassured. "Nah. Whoever actually wanted this junk was either super careful or is running something bigger, cartel maybe. You find the guy who hired me, maybe he can tell you what you really want to know, but I won' be pointing him out. Good luck, lady." "Thanks, handsome. I think I've got just what I need." She patted his face one more time before extending her hand out behind her once again. "That scar is rather dashing," she confessed as she waited. "Maybe in another life." The man took a few jerky steps forward and put a different object in her hand, taking care to not poke her with what was soon revealed to be a syringe. She adjusted it deftly in her gloved hand then plunged the needle into Jun's exposed skin. The thief looked confused at the syringe, then looked alarmed as he was injected. He made a questioning sound but said no words before his eyes rolled back in his head and he slipped into unconsciousness, falling into a deep, long-lasting sleep. "Nighty-night, darling." The woman sighed and stood, handing the emptied syringe back to her companion as she did so. He remained silent as she nudged the unconscious elf with her foot, considering him for a few moments. Voices sounded from the hallway, Gracie's among them, and the woman turned her masked face to look at her companion. She jerked her head towards the window, and he started towards it while she tugged the mask back over Jun's face. When she rose to join the other man, he made a quick gesture with his hand; a faint light glowed around them for a moment before fading, and one after the other they jumped out of the window. Gracie hurried into the room followed by a handful of legitimate Kirin Tor guards. "He's the intruder!" she wailed. "I got him good with my skillet, but ooooh he made a mess!" The guards exchanged glances before assuring the landlady that they'd handle the situation and began dragging the unconscious blood elf off the premises.
  8. Keeping Secrets

    Qabian stands leaning against the curved doorway just inside The Agronomical Apothecary when Daerek arrives. The blood elf had done business with a goblin there earlier, put in an order for some flasks and said he'd wait there, making it look like he wasn't just some loiterer. Qabian brushes non-existent dirt off his Grim tabard as Daerek walks past him, opening with the ever-so-friendly statement, "She does not care about you," in thickly accented Common. Daerek shifts his pack as he enters the Apothecary, almost passing the elf altogether until he speaks. "I--pardon?" the young mage asks, blinking at the man with confused green eyes. Qabian smirks, giving the human a lazy salute in lieu of explanation or greeting. "Your girl. The one in your room. She does not care for you." Daerek draws back a little, taken aback by the elf's words. He eyes the other man up and down before speaking again. "She's not my girl," he says calmly. "Qabian, I presume?" Qabian raises an eyebrow, curious. "Yes. But I never gave her my name." The mage shrugs. "You don't have to be explicit for others to put a few things together." Qabian looks uncertain. "But why?" He then mirrors Daerek's shrug. "No matter. She lives with you, but is not yours?" Daerek looks at the man with an odd expression. "Living together doesn't mean two people have to be involved," he says slowly, as if it's a rudimentary concept. He doesn't seem bothered that this elf knows he lives with the woman in question. Qabian seems both bemused and incredulous, folding his arms across his chest. "Maybe no, but not even friends? Strangers do not do such things." Daerek actually laughs. "You would not believe how many people have told me that," he says easily. "And I'm sure I'll hear it a lot more." Qabian shrugs. "You do not care then? Neither of you care. Same home, ships in the night." The elf then stares Daerek right in the eyes and grins wickedly. "You are a liar, too. You deserve each other." The mage seems amused. "You're awful quick to come to conclusions. Are you sure you're making the right ones?" Qabian shakes his head, chuckling. "No conclusions. Only testing. Seeing what you do, how you answer. Do you know who she is?" "Sounds like conclusions to me," Daerek says lightly, shifting so that he's leaning against the stone wall of the apothecary in a mirror of Qabian's pose. "And I know enough. But I've got a better question--what's all this about?" Qabian raises his hands, palms up, still grinning unpleasantly. "Wish I knew. She is nobody, no one. Mystery. But someone I know hates her very much. Curious, hm? What did she do? Where is she from?" If he's honest with himself, Daerek is edging towards unsettled by the encounter--but he does a good job of covering it up with easy grins and laughter. "So who hates her? She's a nice girl. Seems hard to hate someone like that." "Indeed." Qabian folds his arms again, open grin shifting back into a closed smirk. "And yet. You know my name. Do you know me?" "A question with a non-answer!" Daerek slaps his knee with a laugh. "So clever." He sighs a little and gestures vaguely to the counter. "Is there a point to this? If you're just here to chat, that's fine, but I've got work to do." Qabian gives a slow nod of his head, holding that smug smirk of his. "Just chat. For now. And a warning." "Yeah? What's your warning?" Daerek regards the other man with lifted eyebrows and an expectant gaze. "You are easy to find. Easy to follow." Qabian stands up straight, abandoning his leaning posture. He mimics someone else's voice, much higher, and speaks Common without an accent. "'Oh, yes. I remember those two. They bought cupcakes by the bank. They were such a cute couple and very sweet together.'" He shrugs then slips back into his thick accent and short sentences to say, "Not my conclusions. Someone hates you. Maybe time to hide, hm?" Daerek watches Qabian with an unamused expression while the other man delivers his 'threats.' When he's finished, the youth pushes off from the wall and pulls himself up to his full height--a bit taller than the Grim elf, but not by a great deal. He stares down into the other man's face with a flat look. "You tell that someone that as far as I'm concerned, they're nothing more than a bully," he says quietly. "Now is that all? I really should get to work." Qabian laughs out loud, essentially in the man's face, intensely amused by both Daerek's dropping of his carefully maintained lightheartedness and the attempt to stare him down. The elf takes one step back in order to give a short, shallow bow with an exaggerated flourish. "Of course. But the one who hates you? No bully. For now, the bully is me." He ends that statement with an absolutely horrible grin, then turns on his heel with another lazy salute. "See you soon." The young mage doesn't seem bothered whatsoever by the mocking laughter. He seems to almost have expected it, if the smirk on his lips is anything to go by. "Two bullies are hardly any different than one," he says with a snort. "Be well, Bully. I look forward to seeing you again." Daerek doesn't appear to watch Qabian leave, instead turning towards the back counter to begin his work. Qabian steps lightly back into the street, where he's immediately accosted by a goblin. Qabian nods to the goblin, says something inaudible, and points back into the alchemist's place. The goblin nods in return and hands the elf a package. Only after the goblin skips off, singing off-key as she goes, does Qabian sigh and roll his eyes before pulling a mask up over his face and making himself scarce. Nothing was going quite the way he wanted.
  9. Spelling Trouble

    After some co-ordination with Brightway, Qabian sent a note in the mail for the child to meet him by the Antonidas Memorial in Dalaran at a specified time. Qabian set two Kirin Tor agents at the entrance to the small park, one human, one high elf, both wearing tabards. They looked like they were there to be professional, but they were actually being paid to keep an eye out for certain other members of the Kirin Tor and the Alliance who might want to start shit. For his own tabard, Qabian wore Silvermoon City's. The mage rolled up his sleeves as he waited next to the statue, looking upward, amused by how the city managed to hide the roiling green sky behind an illusion of normalcy. It had taken Damian several hours worth of coaxing to get Ninorra to allow him a visit to Dalaran. In the end, his agreement with Vicailde proved to be the linchpin. She couldn't baby him forever, and he was willing to do whatever it took for her to allow him a trip to Dalaran, which in this case, meant her accompanying him. He'd only been to the city once, but was fascinated by everything that he saw. Dressed in his school iniform, he looked somewhat less foreboding than his mother, who dressed in the black and red robes of a warlock that only accentuated their red eyes. Spikes decorated with the skulls of demons protruded from her shoulders, gaudy and at least a little ridiculous. As they approached the agreed-upon spot where Damian suggested they meet Grimfire, Ninorra was going over her worries with the boy. "..and then there are the Alliance.. most are fine, but there are more than a few who would start trouble with a boy like you if only to get under our-- "There he is, mother," Damian said, relieved to interrupt her tirade as he pointed toward Qabian. "That's Mister Grimfire." A horrible grin spread across Qabian's face. The jig was finally up. Qabian gave Ninorra a lazy two-fingered salute when she noticed him. Their last conversation had been cordial enough, but he had more distance then. In truth, he was surprised the kid had managed to convince her at all. Despite the name change, Qabian had at no point intentionally hidden his identity since he mentioned it to Damian. That and Dalaran itself was clearly a step towards steering the child into danger, whoever's idea it may have been. He certainly hadn't expected her to show up herself. He'd assumed something else would have to happen for Damian to even make it to the city. "That's Magister," he directed at Damian. "Ninorra," Qabian said by way of greeting, bowing shallow toward her. "...oh, you're joking," Ninorra said in a low voice. If she was angry, the warlock was very good at hiding it. Then again, it may have been difficult to tell by the way she looked at Qabian, first curious and then, very interested. Holding on to Damian's hand, she kept her tone even. Her voice was still melodic, even when she spoke, but there was a definite protective quality to it that one would expect from a mother. "You recruited the only boy with red eyes in Silvermoon. What a coincidence," she said dramatically. The warlock returned his bow, a few strands of straightened black hair falling into her eyes. Damian followed suit, his white hair curlier than it was straight, resembling something close to lamb's wool. "Magister." Qabian nodded at the Kirin Tor stooges who were looking at him for confirmation. They turned their backs to the three of them, returning their attention to the street. "He's also the only boy at all that I saw out in the street destroying the decor." Qabian crouched, bringing himself down to the boy's level. "Weren't you, Master Bloodstone?" A tiny flame dancing in his palm, Qabian held his hand out to the boy as if he would know what to do with it. Damian's expression was fairly blank as he stared at the fire, plucking it from Qabian's hand with his fingertips. "Oh, and you just so happened to be on the lookout for young boys that day?" Ninorra asked innocently, as if the question had no moral connotations. Qabian grinned, slightly less horribly, at Damian's response to the magic. "See, he should be here." Qabian looked up at Ninorra without standing. "Gender is irrelevant. Potential is what matters. But if you must phrase it that way, then yes," he lied. "Is that a problem?" "Oh no, no problem," she replied casually, also lying. "I spend a lot of time in Dalaran myself. This may even be more convenient, since I will have both him and Sanctuary so close by to each other. He even mentioned that you would be personally teaching him a few things?" There was a pause as she smiled. "If that is the case, we will be seeing quite a bit of each other." The hesitation behind Qabian's grin was not well hidden. There was an instinct to groan and stalk away that took him some effort to suppress, but beyond a shadow over his face and a shift in his expression, he didn't react much. "I will, so it seems, both be teaching him and seeing you." He dropped his hand, watching to see what the boy would do with the small flame. Qabian turned that horrible grin back on Ninorra. "Unless you have a problem with that, of course." "Oh no," the warlock purred, a hand shifting to Damian's shoulder. It wasn't quite firm enough to be overprotective, but it was a reminder of her presence. "On the contrary. I think he can learn a lot from you." Qabian finally stood up, straightening his tabard. "Of course he can. But it's dangerous here, hm? That's why you kept him in Silvermoon in the first place, yes? He may even get himself killed, but that doesn't bother you, does it?" The glint in Qabian's eyes was absolutely cruel. "I suppose it is a little scary to see one's first born leave home for the first time," Ninorra admitted, acquiescing. Just enough. "But then again, the closer he is to our guild hall, the more eyes I can have on him. They say 'it takes a village to raise a child'. Well, luckily for me, I have an entire guild worth of passionate, principled, virtuous friends who will not hesitate to step in should they see him in any sort of trouble." It was then that Damian glanced up at his mother with a raised eyebrow. He knew better than to interrupt adults when they were talking, but he had an inkling about the subject matter. Slowly, the fire spread to cover his palm. Qabian's grin vanished thoroughly. He frowned, almost scowling at Ninorra's words. This conversation was not proceeding at all had how he expected it might. To be honest, he'd expected to be slapped. If what she said was true, and that Sanctuary was going to be up in his business all the time because he'd had a stupid idea that had long since gone off the rails and was now careening directionless into the twisting nether, he was going to be extremely unimpressed. The fire over the boy's hand did bring a touch of a smile back to Qabian's face, though. Qabian shrugged. "Fine. Then I won't even try to be careful. Spies everywhere. Let the kid learn as he will. He's perfectly safe without my help. Just point him at the demons and let him go. Understood." Ninorra raised a sculpted eyebrow. That he was trying to goad her was clear, but she had memories of him being a lot better at it than he was being now. "I think you will try to be careful," she said gently, attempting to make things less confrontational. Time would tell how much her efforts would pay off. "I think you will try to be careful, because while it's obvious that you're trying to gain something from this, I don't think you are the type to crave chaos so much that it leads you down the path of self destruction." A pause. Damian rolled his hand in the air, watching the flames lick his hand without harming him. "..unless things really have changed." "Perhaps they have. I have zero intention of being careful," he said, the small smile growing back into a terrible grin as he watched the boy play with the fire. "Being careful was the mistake Silvermoon made. Being careful is what sent him here. Being careful may as well have kept him locked in his crib. Insinuating that your oh-so-virtuous friends would be watching me was simply you giving me parental permission to do what I already intended." Qabian turned his eyes on Ninorra then. "I have no plans on self-destruction. I'm not afraid of Sanctuary, and I'm certainly not afraid of you. In theory, this is about your son, and no doubt he will benefit from being allowed to learn from his own mistakes. Give a child a sharp blade, and they'll either very quickly become skilled at avoiding the edge or very quickly die finding out how it works, hm?" "Luckily for Damian, his father has taught him how to use blades," Ninorra said with a cooling expression. The boy looked up as his name was mentioned, the fire going out almost immediately in his hand. Glancing from his mother to the Magister, his expression was difficult to read. "You are not the type of person to care for anyone outside of yourself," his mother continued, waving a hand dismissively. "That much I already know, so it is no insult when you insinuate that I care too much. Of course I do. I am his mother, and that will not change no matter how much older or more capable he becomes. The fact of the matter is, I trust my son to learn from mistakes. His own," she squeezed his shoulder once, smiling down at the boy before returning her gaze to Qabian's. "..and those around him." Qabian's unpleasant grin softened when Ninorra declared the type of person he was, setting him in opposition to herself. What she was saying had not always been true, but for the present, she was absolutely correct, and to Qabian, that in itself was the greatest quality about his return. For just a moment, he paused to revel in that knowledge, even if the recognition of it was coming from someone whose opinion he considered without value. "Good," Qabian said. "I'm sure Damian will agree." He looked down at the boy. "You will learn much faster than you ever did in Silvermoon, but it will also be much more difficult and much more painful. You're not afraid of getting hurt, are you?" Damian almost rolled his eyes. Almost. He suddenly saw the value of his father's lessons, those long days spent outside learning how to throw a real punch and use what little strength he had to wrestle an opponent three times his size. He wasn't a gifted fighter, which meant a lot of lessons in pain. "No." "Good. You'll have plenty of chances to prove it." There was a surprising lack of condescension in Qabian's tone, almost as if he was earnestly interested in seeing how the child would cope. He turned back to Ninorra. "Will he be staying with you or Sanctuary here? Or does he need a place?" "He will be staying in our guild hall," she answered easily, glancing in the hall's direction. "Will you be providing him with a schedule? Or should we look for word from the Kirin Tor?" "I will... set a schedule." Part of Qabian was rebelling against the entire idea of this. What the fel was he doing? But the part of him that was in charge was telling him to keep his mouth shut, because doing things against his very nature was going to get him what he needed. "I assume he has no other commitments and can work around mine? Unfortunately, there are places in the city he won't be able to access without me, but I'll make sure the libraries outside the tower are open to him at all times, day and night." Qabian crouched down in front of Damian again. "I expect you'll want to be exploring the books while I'm not around, and you should absolutely do that as often as you can. None of them should be forbidden to you, but before you go looking, there are two important things to know." Qabian held up one finger. "Only read one at a time. Some of the tomes the Kirin Tor keep around have strange interactions with each other that can't be seen on the surface. If you open several at a time, especially in certain places, you risk opening demon portals into the city." He held up a second finger. "It's best to treat them with respect. Silvermoon's books are better trained. Dalaran's books have a tendency to get annoyed by the smallest things and may react unpredictably. Understand?" "Yes," Damian said calmly, nodding once. Ninorra bowed her head gently in agreement. "He will be available when you are. The rest of his time will be spent studying. My one condition is that he not leave Dalaran unless it is with myself or his father. If you absolutely must go somewhere for any reason, I will accompany you." Qabian kept his attention on Damian. "Do you agree to that? Do you want mommy or daddy tagging along every time you want to go anywhere interesting? Do you want to be stuck in the city whenever your parents and I can't arrange our schedules?" Damian opened his mouth to argue, but paused. The boy studied Qabian's face, as if studying something. "...sir. i made a deal with my father. I'll keep my word and not leave the city without them." Qabian looked up at Ninorra. "Assuming I agreed to this ludicrous restriction that misses the entire point of coming this far at all, how exactly would you stop me from breaking it?" Ninorra cocked her head at the red haired elf. "You're asking how I would stop you from kidnapping my son?" She asked with an amused smirk. "Surely you are smart enough to know why I would keep that under my hat. Besides the fact that I trust my son not to simply disobey us." "In this city, there are times he would be alone with me and this city has an abnormally large amount of exits to absolutely anywhere. Kidnapping would be the simplest thing if I were to take it into mind to be something I wanted. As it is, you may have to decide whether you want him to be my apprentice or your baby. It seems both states are incompatible," Qabian elucidated. "That is where you and I must disagree, Qabian. You can not and will not take Damian from this city without me." Ninorra's red eyes flashed a little brighter, then almost immediately dimmed once more. "And, pleasantries and your lack of fear aside, I would not envy you if you tried." Qabian stood and straightened his tabard. "So be it. I'm sure the Kirin Tor will find some junior mage willing to mind your child while you're busy, but I have better things to do than babysit and take family picnics. I'll find an apprentice whose parents aren't so determined to crush his curiosity and willingness to learn." Ninorra folded her arms, smirking. "Perhaps. I am sure Silvermoon is full of talented young students who would be honored to be your apprentice. None of them a child of Sanctuary, of course. Or with Damian's particular background." She shrugged. "You are free to choose, of course. I know Damian will be disappointed, and that is a shame.." Damian scowled at the ground. "..but you can not always have what you want. That is an important lesson." Qabian mirrored the child's scowl, but he did so deliberately, intending to show a feeling that seemed appropriate yet didn't betray his actual thoughts. Ninorra had neatly called Qabian's bluff, but the part of him that didn't want any of this mess was rejoicing, trying convince him to simply take the ever so convenient exit provided, to throw his hands up and abandon this idiotic mission. In the end, Qabian let the scowl fade and spoke directly to Damian. "I could lie. It would be very easy to lie, to tell your parents what they want to hear, to say that I will do what they wish, and in the meanwhile put my efforts behind their backs into convincing you not to listen to them. But while I don't put much stock by your parents' opinions, given how they've tried so hard to stifle your learning at every turn, simply lying would be doing a disservice to you, young master. "I won't be taking any other apprentices. I will let you know when you can find me, and I will teach you what I can, limited though it will be without real situations and real targets. However, I will not be going anywhere with your parents present, outside the city or within it. You've managed to convince them to let you come this far. You can do that again. Convince them to let you go as far as you actually need to, then we'll see what we can do." Damian looked earnestly toward the magister. He had been through a lot in his few short years, and he had experience with adults attempting to manipulate him. There was a certain aura oozing from Qabian. Something sinister and uneasy. So much so that he wondered, briefly, why his typically overprotective mother would let him get so close. Surely he was dangerous? But her hand on his shoulder was symbolic. She was there, watching. Listening. "Yes, sir. I will," he said calmly. It was not a lie. Qabian took a deep breath in through his nose and faced Ninorra, folding his arms across his Silvermoon tabard. "Well, then. You have your demands. I have mine. I suppose that settles that for now?" "For now," the warlock agreed, bobbing her head once. "Until he hears from you, then. Safe travels, Qabian." "Mm. Something like that." Qabian frowned as he waved off the Kirin Tor guards who had been standing nearby, then cast a teleport spell, vanishing off to who knows where.
  10. Time Shattered

    My debacle in Stormwind is far from over, but I regret none of it. I got what I wanted, suffered some, but that was a small price paid after the fact. Dalaran is not a city built on morality. It will forget sooner than later, especially once those who think they have power have their assumptions forcefully corrected. The best way to do that is still in question. There are delightful but improbable possibilities, and there have been brilliant but risky missed opportunities. We will see. Syreena's little project did not unfold as I expected. People are usually predictable. I interviewed more than enough in the past to see that. My absence should not have changed that. No one whose notable qualities are being afraid of the dark and finding appeal in cute animals is also a sensible person. Either the victim had the good sense and skill to lie thoroughly and consistently, or she's severely abnormal. I suspect she may be a combination of the two. If there were lies beyond the one I uncovered, they were set well in advance of our conversation. If those were not lies, then she seems nevertheless to be not at all what she implies. Stole something, did she? I said I wouldn't ask. Did I? I at least implied I wouldn't ask. But something about the target is... off. Not quite right. Still, I am confident I will be able to make her life miserable. Now it is simply a question of time and degree. Then there's the boy. That's definitely getting out of hand, will get far more out of hand, no doubt, but may yet be useful, perhaps even hilarious, especially if I can bring it around to the Kirin Tor. That seems tenuous at best, but I'll see it out. All of this feels oddly familiar. Fingers in too many pies seems like a phrase I recall. The Grim eye the Tomb along with everyone else. The future invokes strange and wondrous things. When was the future last anything but cyclical? When was time last anything but fragments? I am strangely intrigued to see what the days to come will hold.
  11. Spelling Trouble

    Qabian entered the classroom as Brightway was attempting to mop up the mess left behind after his earlier heroics dousing a flaming student. Qabian leaned back against the door jamb, his arms folded across his chest, smirking. “I see teaching hasn’t changed much over the last century.” Brightway looked up with a scowl on his round face. “You bastard. What did you teach him?” Qabian shrugged with a mock-innocent glance upward. “Me? Nothing. He taught himself. Didn’t you look through what I sent him?” Brightway opened and closed his mouth like a fish as he realized how he was complicit in what happened. “Sure, you haven’t changed either.” He laughed a single too-loud laugh, then went back to mopping. “But if this keeps up, I’m going to make him your problem.” Qabian sighed. “I’m beginning to realize that I’ve made him my own problem.” “Eh?” Brightway paused and leaned on his mop. “What about the Kirin Tor?” Qabian looked off to the side. “Yes, that’s... complicated.” Brightway laughed his too-loud laugh again, letting the mop continue on its own just as Silvermoon’s brooms did. “Business as usual then.” Qabian muttered under his breath, intentionally inaudible. This entire escapade was supposed to have been a simple but entertaining lesson in why raising children was a bad idea. The kid was supposed to have killed himself or someone else and been done with it. The story Qabian had concocted to make that happen shouldn’t have mattered, but despite his intentions, the lies continued on their merry way, twisting back on him. He should have known better, but some chaos was just too tempting to avoid, and now there were certain interweaving lines within the unfolding drama that led him to consider drawing out the play, better ways to misdirect blame, incite violence, and cause rifts between people he believed deserved misery. Managing the Kirin Tor connection was going to be at best awkward, at worst actually harmful to Qabian’s cause. He still had enough confidence in his network of bribed and blackmailed mages to keep the story going without him ending up back in Stormwind, but he would have to play the part he had concocted while somehow avoiding Covenant sympathizers until he could extricate himself. Perhaps Esara could help keep the connections to the Magisters and the Tirisgarde, not so directly under the Kirin Tor’s watchful eye, maybe even get the kid mixed up with the Empyreans somehow. “Brightway, make sure you use my name if you contact the Kirin Tor about him,” Qabian said as his thoughts came back around to the present. “Of course. Why wouldn’t I?” Brightway asked. “My new name. Grimfire.” Brightway raised an eyebrow. “Sure, that’s a bit common sounding for you, isn’t it?” Qabian’s smirk shifted into a glare. “It gets the point across.” “Sure,” Brightway said with a shrug. Qabian stepped forward, smirk sliding back into place. “In the future, you should be more careful what you give to your students.” “In the future, I should be more careful about listening to you,” Brightway said with a curiously merry guffaw. “But if he’s going to be your problem, then I’ll just clean up this mess and be done with it.” “Mmhm. Hopefully, this is the last I see of you.” Qabian rolled his eyes hard as he turned on his heel and left the room.
  12. Spelling Trouble

    The child was not difficult to track or find, given that he didn’t wear opaque glasses or a blindfold in a city where eye color was nearly homogeneous. Qabian trailed him from a reasonable distance, learning where he went and with whom. The day after his informative stalking session, Qabian sat down across from a slightly stocky blood elf at a small Falconwing Square café, apparently uninvited. The stranger closed his book and peered at the mage across from him then suddenly laughed boisterously. “Amberlight! I haven't seen you since, what? Before the Scourge?” “Brightway,” Qabian said. “I don't go by that name anymore.” He kept his expression neutral, almost cold. Brightway guffawed. “Nonsense. Don't go by your own name? That's ridiculous.” He leaned forward and grabbed Qabian’s hand, shaking it too energetically. “To what do I owe the pleasure of a visit from such an old friend.” Qabian breathed out through his nose and pressed his lips together a moment, trying not to let how annoyed he was show too overtly. “I need to know about one of your students. His name is--” “By the sun, what happened to your ear?” Brightway interrupted as if suddenly noticing the immediately obvious. Qabian scowled, yanking his hand back. “I actually work in the field, Brightway. Things happen.” “Of course. Of course. You were saying something about one of my students?” “Yes. He goes by the name of Damian Bloodstone.” “Oh, that one's trouble, for sure.” Qabian raised an eyebrow. “How's that?” “Thinks he's better than everyone. Maybe he actually is, but it extends to the staff. Makes him difficult to deal with, you know.” Brightway explained. “Actually, reminds me a lot of you and that other kid in Dalaran. What was his name again?” “I have no idea what you're talking about,” Qabian lied. “What's your interest in the Bloodstone boy then?” Brightway asked. “Is he intelligent? Worth investing in?” “I'd say so, yes, for someone willing to deal with his attitude. You thinking of taking him under your wing?” Qabian neglected to hide a brief expression of disgust. “No. I've simply been directed to look into particular students for potential Kirin Tor work. If you think he’s suitable, I'll forward the materials to him through you.” “Dalaran still meddling in our business, eh?” Brightway chuckled loudly. “There are better students if you're looking for the top of the class.” “No, Brightway. This is above your pay grade. I simply need you to let me know if he’s an idiot, and if not, send him the paperwork.” “No. Not an idiot. Smart kid. Just an asshole. Like you.” Qabian rolled his eyes. “Your judgment has always been impeccable, Brightway. That's why you're surrounded by snot nosed brats every day rather than letting your featherweight fireballs gently warm the Legion.” Brightway laughed far too loudly. “Never change, Amberlight!” He reached over and punched Qabian's shoulder, causing the mage to flinch. Qabian pinched the bridge of his nose. “I told you that's not my name.” “Sure you did, buddy.” “We're done here.” Qabian stood up abruptly. “Sure thing. See you around, Amberlight.” “I certainly hope not,” Qabian muttered under his breath as he hastily retreated. Qabian prepared a package of books with titles like Making the Case for Teaching Forbidden Magic: A Practical Guide and Do It Yourself Arcane Bombs and took pains to make sure the Kirin Tor symbol was prominently displayed but his own name was nowhere to be found. He made sure to send the package by mail and avoided heading back into the city itself for a while.
  13. Spelling Trouble

    Qabian sat on the bed in his new Silvermoon apartment, leaning back on a high stack of pillows and reading, surrounded by scrolls, loose papers, and books, a black panther cub slept heavily over one leg, cutting off circulation to that foot. When he wasn't indulging in Suramar's "culture" or out with the Grim doing Grim work, Qabian spent time learning what he had missed. There was a lot of it between Pandaria, Garrosh, Khadgar's lunacy, as well as the interguild politics and drama that was not well documented. Since he found himself back in Quel'thalas after the debacle in Stormwind, Qabian decided to direct his focus on the minutiae in Silvermoon politics. It seemed that short of the Sunreaver debacle and Garrosh's general chaos, there had not been too much upheaval. Lor'themar and Rommath were still who they had always been. With Sylvanas as Warchief, Silvermoon seemed almost comfortable with their relationship to the Horde, so Qabian found himself delving into the smaller details of politics and scandals. He read one report of a child attending council meetings and shifted his position, causing the panther cub to mrr in its sleep. Stranger things happened in Silvermoon politics everyday, but with elven lifespans, it hardly seemed necessary. That's what interregnum was for, after all. He read further. The child, with his strange red eyes... Qabian frowned. "Oh no," he murmured. ...acted as the heir to the Bloodstone estate, sitting with the Council in preparation for his future role in the management of... "This must be some kind of joke," he said to himself. He pressed his fingers to the bridge of his nose. Qabian finished reading and tossed the offensive page to one side where it floated to the floor. The panther cub lifted its head, blinking up at him sleepily. "People are idiots. You know that, cat? Complete and utter morons. All of them," Qabian informed the creature. The mage tilted his head thoughtfully, staring at the cub, or more accurately, through the cub. "I think it's time to look up an old acquaintance." Qabian grinned wickedly as he gathered his papers and books together, ungently kicking the cub to one side. Qabian stumbled as he stood, his foot having fallen asleep. Loud Thalassian curses caused the cub to scramble under the bed.
  14. Playing with Fire

    Qabian chose to go immediately to Suramar for healing, not because they were particularly notable for their skills, but because among his circle of influence there, he had access to ley-infused aromatic baths. While the healers had taken as good care of him as could be expected, bleeding staunched, bruises reduced to mild discolorations, he found himself continually touching or staring at his arm where a slight and fading scar of the bite he’d taken remained. Fragments of memories taunted him from a time when fear of something much worse than a simple physical disease had plagued his every breath. He stepped into the water and let the arcane essence provide comfort and rejuvenation like he had never found anywhere else. He hadn’t been without magic particularly long this time, but there was no worse feeling. The loss of magic was at the core of Qabian’s deepest fears. He would rather suffer a thousand bites than wear that band again. The bath was the perfect remedy, a resolution to old longings for the horizon. As he relaxed more and more into the water, he let himself slip completely beneath the surface. The pain and fear of the recent ordeal drifted away, leaving a pure, unadulterated rage tensing through his core as he held his breath. Curiously, it wasn’t Cavanaugh bearing the brunt of Qabian’s anger. Cavanaugh only did exactly what Qabian might have expected him to do, like an animal with no will of its own simply following its instincts. Qabian had taken the risk of being caught at the orphanage and willingly suffered the consequences for that. Redgrave, on the other hand, was going to pay the price for her betrayal. She should have been Kirin Tor first, then Dalaran, then human. Instead, she reversed the order, and when everything else about the situation washed away, Qabian focused on that betrayal with pinpoint clarity. She would have to be dealt with. When holding his breath finally edged into pain, Qabian broke the surface of the water to taste the sweet, magic-tinged air. He leaned back against the edge of the bath, his thoughts churning as he planned to make sure the traitor was dealt with as effectively as possible. Hours later, Qabian found himself back in his Dalaran apartment gathering up his belongings. He hadn't had time to accumulate that much in the months since the bronze, and the most important had already been lost to the hands of the Alliance. He selected a set of plain robes almost too remarkable for their plainness. He would keep the place paid and furnished but without occupant for the near future. Though it would no doubt be watched for a time by Stormwind supporters once news spread, Qabian felt fairly certain any backlash would die quickly. No matter what ostentatious villainy he chose to commit, there were far too many in the Kirin Tor who owed him favors. He would be back. The black panther cub that shared his residence spun around his ankles. Qabian planned to leave it behind. Again. He had no doubt it would manage to follow him anyway. The mage stood with a single packed bag and stared down at his hand. He had to make a choice: Tirisfal or Quel’thalas. It was harder than it should have been, but there were reasons not to want to go to either. He held his breath a moment, then decided on the riskier but less aesthetically vile option. The panther cub sat staring at the empty space where the mage had been a moment ago.
  15. Community Outreach

    I don't really have any advice or anything as I also have no idea what I'm doing and just make it up as I go. But in the interest of things, when scheduling stars align, I'm always happy to see and go to open RP events when I can!