Qabian

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Everything posted by Qabian

  1. 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.
  2. Don't ask. Just... Don't. That... thing is to blame for this. That thing and the Infinite. Or the Bronze. They're the same, yes? I was trying... I was... We were...? What was it? I hate him. I have always hated him. I will always hate him. It's refreshing. This hate. Everything and all the rest of dulled fragments of reflection. Hate is what slices through. Sweet, small, slicing through shadows, tiny candleflame hate. Nothing else. The rest is gone. Not even darkness. No shadow. Only blank, empty nothing. The rest is scattered, irretrievable, swept into a delirium vortex, unreal in every sense, and yet all of what is gone, what is lost, what is missing is the only real there is, ever has been, or ever will be. Except the hate. The hate burns through. I've missed this. Haven't I? I hate that, too.
  3. 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. "..is 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Qabian stood in the shadows beneath a tree across the square from Stormwind’s orphanage, watching the soft yellow light in its windows keep the night from slipping completely into darkness. Wearing a heavily hooded cloak that hid his ears and pulled low enough over his face to shade the glow from his eyes, he could have been any ordinary human citizen that hadn’t needed to deftly avoid gryphon rider patrols to access the city. The time of year and other things had compelled the mage to spend time considering the Grim’s overall policies on enemy non-combatants. Generally, those policies seemed to be “no one cares.” In reality, any given Grim could hold any idea somewhere between “it’s best to destroy the enemy in their cradles before they get the opportunity to become a problem” and “none of them are innocent, but fighting babies is dishonorable.” Most seemed to lean toward the former, as did Qabian. But for the mage, the issue was not as simple as a policy. There were reasons, none of them rational, why all this talk of children sparked his anger. Orphans should have the good sense to die alongside their parents. Propagating youth into this world was irresponsible and everyone who did so should be reminded of that as frequently and harshly as possible. Any of a dozen other nonsensical pronouncements that excused or even encouraged destroying those who most needed protection. His aversion to children was far more deep-seated than simple proselytizing, but each time Qabian’s thoughts threatened to dwell on the true reasons for his rage, he redirected the emotion into action rather than let honesty and introspection lead to anything more subtle than burning buildings. His hands itched and he flexed his fingers as he tried to decide exactly what actions he would take. It wouldn’t be the first time the Grim had torched this building. They did so fairly regularly. In fact, they had done it together a matter of months ago. Qabian never learned if there were any actual casualties as a result of such actions. He doubted it. If a stampede of Alliance boots trampled through Orgrimmar, he was fairly certain the orphanage could be warned and the children spirited away to some underground hiding place until the danger passed. Expecting the Alliance couldn’t do the same for their children seemed shortsighted, even if he made a point never to overestimate human intelligence. He even remembered attacking the institution several times alone during his early days in the Grim, but it was usually just a side stop on a destructive rampage of his own making. But on this occasion, it was the sole reason he was in Stormwind at all. The door to the orphanage creaked open, allowing a beam of light to fall across Qabian’s hooded form. The matron stepped out and set something loose on the step, a small creature, perhaps a mouse, no doubt some child’s pet not hidden stealthily enough from the authorities at bedtime and turned out into the danger of the city. The blood elf in the shadows seized the opportunity. He blinked across the short span of the square, grabbed the woman, one arm across her face to stifle screams, then pushed her roughly back inside the building and kicked the door closed behind him. A dozen shocked children in various states of preparing for bed stared at their frantically struggling caregiver and the cloaked man that held her. The matron bit down on his arm. An expected reaction, the mage didn't flinch, but he did burst into flames, then so did she. The children screamed and the chaos began in earnest. The matron’s blazing body collapsed to the floor at Qabian's feet. The spectre of flame that was a mage under combustion fired a blast at the nearest child. The child ducked under the bed which immediately went up in flames itself. Sparks leapt from the burning bed to loose sheets nearby catching the next bed on fire as the conflagration quickly spread. Most of the children, seemingly well-trained for such villainy, rushed to the far corner of the room where a panel of the wall slid away. Qabian stalked forward. Crackling ice spread across the floor, ensnaring the ankles of three of the running children. He grabbed the nearest by the wrist when suddenly the door creaked open behind him. Qabian spun around and his hood slipped back. There shouldn't have been time for help to arrive yet. The night matron was a smoldering pile of nothing. The children hadn't escaped yet. The screams should have been muffled by the enclosed location. Who could have sent help already? “Matron, it seems one of your young charges thought to go exploring--” A strong but gentle voice explained as the door slowly swung open to reveal a knight in armor, looking down at a little girl whose small hand disappeared in his gauntleted grip. The knight gasped as he took in the scene of chaos and destruction, and immediately pushed the little girl behind him protectively. The flames enveloping Qabian’s body died away, revealing a highly unpleasant grin of recognition on his elven face. “You!” the knight shouted. “Expecting someone else?” Qabian tossed the child he had grabbed at the knight for a moment's distraction, then blinked into the middle of the group of children gathered around their escape route, causing them to shriek and scatter around the burning room. The knight gently caught the flung child and set it gently to the side. “Everyone! Out the front door!” he bellowed. “I’ll take care of this.” Qabian laughed as the children rushed to obey. “Of course you will. Think you can actually kill me this time, Cavanaugh?” The blood elf spat the knight’s name. A hammer of light slammed down onto the mage, stunning him. He knew it was coming and that he’d have to wait it out. Cavanaugh calmly crossed the room toward the mage, pushing a burning chair to one side to clear a path for the fleeing orphans. He grabbed the dazed mage by the throat, lifting him off his feet, crushing the life out of him. “I know I can, Grim.” Qabian’s eyes turned upward and he felt consciousness slipping away. He willed himself to focus on his attacker as the hammer’s effects diminished. Another slight crackle was heard before a loud snap as Cavanaugh’s grip was knocked away and the mage was encased in a massive block of ice. “You can't hide in there for long, felspawn.” Cavanaugh snarled. “Help!” cried a tiny voice amidst the roar of the fire. The first child that had dodged Qabian's attack was pinned under the flaming furniture that had initially saved his life. A little girl was pulling on his arm, futilely trying to free him before the mass of fire and char collapsed on both of them. Cavanaugh hesitated a moment, weighing those two children's lives against the dozens or hundreds that would be saved if the blood elf could be permanently ended right then. The hesitation was enough for the mage. The ice block shimmered away and Qabian blinked to the exit. “Better luck next time, hero.” Cavanaugh quickly freed the child and dashed to the door, holding the boy in his arms. The little girl rescuer hid behind the knight's strong form in the doorway. Cavanaugh sighed. The elf was long gone. “The bad guy just vanished! Disappeared! Poof!” said one of the orphans that had gathered in the square. “Do not concern yourself with that, little one,” Cavanaugh said, kneeling as he made certain each of the children was all right. A patrol was already approaching from the cathedral. “Why did he attack us, Sir?” another small voice piped up. “Because there are evil monsters, ones that wish to do only harm. You are safe now, and I will stay close to make sure you are safe, Light willing.” “Will he come back?” Cavanaugh smiled at the child and patted his head. “Don't worry. I will catch him. And I will make sure he gets what he deserves.” “Easier said than done, friend,” Qabian murmured from his hiding place around the corner, the last word intoned like a slur before he teleported away.
  11. 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. 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. 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.
  14. 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!
  15. ((Straight up murder)) After two meals of bread and water, evening and morning, the blood elf accustomed to seafood and arcwine knew his strength was going to wane and he needed to set his scheme in motion quickly. Not to mention he had no idea how long he had before Cavanaugh arrived with a noose in hand. Qabian leaned against the bars of the cell, watching pairs of guards patrol through the hallway. He smirked slowly as his target finally came into view. As the pair walked past, Qabian banged on the bars. “Richards,” Qabian hissed. One of the guards jerked his head around to glare at Qabian, then came over and kicked the bars Qabian was leaning on. “Did I give you permission to talk to me, blood elf.” Qabian raised his hands, palms out. “Apologies. Thought you wanted to know about your daughter.” The guard reached through the bars and dragged Qabian up by the front of his ragged tunic. “Don’t you start with me. Everyone in here’s hoping you have an accident and end up dead.” “Quel’thalas,” Qabian whispered, their noses nearly touching. “I know who has her, and if I die, so does she.” Qabian wrapped his fingers tightly around the guard’s wrist. “We make a deal. Then I tell you how to find her. Then you kill me all you like.” Richards hesitated. Qabian grinned as he read the man’s thoughts on his face. Here he was, holding in his own hands the person who likely caused him the most pain he’d ever experienced, but if he took his revenge, he risked losing everything when he was on the very cusp of gaining it all back. He yanked Qabian forward, causing the mage’s face to slam against the bars and the hood slip back off his head, but Richards asked quietly, “What do you want?” Qabian gingerly touched his already bruised cheekbone, then sighed. “Needle and thread. For this.” He tapped the guard’s fist where it was tearing the thin fabric of the tunic. “And,” Qabian glanced over his shoulder at his larger, still unconscious but once again snoring cellmate. “A private cell. After last night, hm? That’s all. Nothing to cause alarm. Nothing to lose your job. Hm? In return, your daughter.” “Fine. I’ll be back in an hour,” Richards said, keeping his voice low. He tossed the blood elf back to the floor, with a loud, “You’re going to hang, blood elf.” “Can’t wait,” Qabian muttered, pulling his hood back up over his face, hoping he still had a few bones intact by the time it was over. In a dank, windowless cell, it was impossible to tell exactly how long the guard took to return, but he did. He unlocked Qabian’s cell and beckoned to him with one hand. Qabian lifted his hood briefly to wink at Boy, then followed Richards quietly. As they walked away, Boy’s gaze turned apprehensively on the snoring man lying on the other side of the cell. Richards led Qabian around the corner to a darker, much smaller cell at the end of the row and pushed the blood elf roughly inside. “Now tell me where she is,” the guard said, his tone angry. Qabian held out an open palm. “Needle.” Richards slapped the requested item into Qabian’s hand, then shoved him back against the wall. “Tell me!” Qabian took the shove in stride, and lifted a finger to his lips. “Shh. You don’t want others hearing what I have to say. Come closer.” Richards took a cautious step forward, as did Qabian, leaning in as though to whisper, before finally taking the opportunity he’d so carefully conjured. Qabian sidestepped the guard and spun around behind him, bringing an arm across the guard’s face and yanking backward, while the other hand tore the ring of keys out of the surprised man's grip. One of the long iron keys in his fist, Qabian drove the metal instrument inward and upward into the guard’s eye socket. The man howled and struggled, but his screams were muffled by Qabian’s arm across his mouth, and the elf put a knee to the man’s back to keep him in place as he repeatedly slammed the key as far as he could get it to go inside the man’s head. The guard bit down on Qabian’s arm, but the elf’s only reaction was a hiss of pain. He’d been prepared for that much. The struggle was over quickly. Qabian let the guard’s body slide to the ground while he twisted the keyring to extricate his makeshift weapon from the man’s eye socket. Blood dripped down Qabian’s arm from the bite wound. His torn tunic was stained brilliant red with both his own blood and that of his victim. “I buried her shallow six months ago, idiot,” Qabian said quietly, turning the twitching corpse over roughly with one foot before turning away. Qabian looked out into the hall to assess the situation. Nothing seemed out of place. He carefully watched the guard patrols for his chance, then dashed back to the previous cell, holding his wounded arm close to his chest. Boy stared with wide eyes at the bloodied elf as Qabian staggered with multiple gory keys before successfully unlocking the cell door. Qabian quietly closed the door behind him, leaving it unlocked, then rushed to the back corner of the cell, grabbing Boy by the shoulder. The elf held out the needle in his palm. “You need to do this. Now,” he hissed. The pair crouched conspiratorially with their backs to the bars. They had until someone noticed the missing guard, the trail of blood drops in the hall, or the fact that the cell door was slightly ajar. Boy took hold of the needle and the slim gold band around Qabian’s wrist and went to work manipulating the tiny locking mechanism. Boy worked in silence for what felt like eternity when strange noises began to echo through the halls behind them. “Shh,” Qabian whispered. “There is no one else here. There is just you and the lock. Nothing else exists. Just you. And the lock.” The sounds of the guards congregating in the hallway got louder. Boy began to whimper. “Shh,” Qabian said as soothingly as he could. Boy’s hands began to shake. A loud cracking sound echoed suddenly through the cell. The gold band shattered and a layer of frost began to spread out across the floor and walls of the cell from where Boy’s feet touched the floor. Qabian raised an eyebrow, rubbing at his finally freed wrist. “You’re a mage?” Boy was just staring at his own hands. “N-no. Didn’t you do that?” Qabian shook his head. The crawling frost reached their snoring companion and he stirred in his sleep. Without hesitation, Qabian gestured and the large man shrieked as he burst into flames. Qabian grabbed Boy’s hand. “We have to go. Now.” The boy didn’t have a chance to respond before Qabian dragged him into the hall where an approaching guard suddenly found herself clopping around on four porcine hooves. Qabian tossed the ring of keys into the nearest cell he passed, where its occupants were standing at the bars, curiously trying to decipher the commotion. Qabian gave them a lazy salute and received hoots and hollars in return as they dove for the ring of keys. Qabian and Boy dashed for the stairs, sowing fire and chaos ahead, the gangly teenager desperately trying not to trip over his own feet behind. By the time they finally escaped the Stockade itself, the crowd of guards collecting behind them was distracted by more and more prisoners escaping their cells. Qabian ran out into the city, locking the ankles of the guards at the door to the cobblestones with a blast of ice. “Is it true,” Boy asked, finding a moment to catch his breath as they ran. “What?” Qabian said, annoyed. “Did you kill the matron at the orphanage?” “What?” Qabian demanded again, jerking the boy towards him. “The guards... I heard them saying...” Qabian spun around a corner into an alley. “Does it matter?" he hissed. "I got you out of there, didn't I? Do you want me to teach you how to use that magic you didn’t know you had, or not?” Boy stared at Qabian’s blood-smeared face. “Y-yes?” “Here.” Qabian held out his hand, palm up. A long dagger of an icicle quickly took shape there. As Boy reached out to take the ice, Qabian closed his fist around it and slammed the sharp point into the boy’s chest. “Don’t,” the mage said, emotionless. The boy stared down in surprise at the blood spreading across his own shirt, then toppled forward. “There's your lesson,” Qabian said as he stepped over the body into the space between realities, teleporting away.
  16. ((Bad words and violence~)) In the middle of the night, Qabian was awoken by a rough kick to his ribs. “You. Did you touch the kid?” Qabian grunted, then pulled his hood down low over his face. “No.” “Good.” The large man who had been sleeping earlier in the day moved away. “You don’t touch him, too,” Qabian said. The man guffawed. “Going to stop me, scarecrow?” Qabian sat up, then pulled back his hood, his green eyes shining in the darkness. “No. But I know your wife. She might.” The man picked up Qabian by his frayed linen collar and slammed him against the wall. “Elf lies! I’ll kill you right now!” the man shouted. Qabian rubbed the back of his head. “Try it, but I know who fucks your wife, and is not you.” He grinned wickedly. “What?!” the man shouted so loud, he sparked the sounds of guards coming to check on the commotion. “Who? Who?! WHO?!” He shook the blood elf, rattling his skull against the stone of the wall. Qabian tried to convince the man to stop with an outstretched hand, finally placing a palm directly on the man’s face before he paused his assault. “I -- I -- I tell you,” Qabian managed to say. He motioned with a finger for the man to get closer, then whispered in his ear. The man screamed and threw Qabian to the floor. The large man stomped around the cell, rattling the bars and shouting incoherently. A half-dozen guards clanked up to the cell to drag the furious man away. Qabian rubbed at the bridge of his nose, catching his breath as the pain of hitting a stone wall several times resonated through his body. Distant shouts and thumping sounds could be heard for some time. Qabian pulled his hood back low, sitting up against the bars and watching the hallway. The larger cellmate was returned a short time later, unconscious with his hands bound behind his back. The guards dumped him on the floor, then rolled back into corner of the cell. When the guards had been gone for some time and the lanterns in the hall had been snuffed out again, the boy, who had been pretending to sleep through the entire event, shuffled across the floor to where Qabian was sitting. “Grim? Grim, how do you know his wife?” Boy whispered. Qabian’s smirk was dimly lit by his eyes beneath his hood. “I don’t.” “Huh?” “It’s a common story. He looked inbred enough for it to be likely. To be honest, he looked stupid enough to believe it even if he's not married,” Qabian explained quietly. “Who did you say was fucking her, then?” asked Boy. “His brother.” Boy clapped a hand over his mouth, his eyes glinting with stifled laughter in the darkness. “Did you know he had a brother?” “No,” Qabian said, then lifted a finger to his lips. “None of that works on anyone with half a brain. I got lucky.” “He could have killed you.” Qabian nodded. “Just being here could kill me. If we're going to get out of here, I need to rest,” he said, tugging at his hood. “Okay,” Boy said, then crawled back over to his mat. Qabian slept sitting up against the wall the rest of the night, growing bruises preventing him from lying down.
  17. Qabian scowled, his whole body tensed while a disturbingly fit, older human woman wearing plate and chain under a Stormwind city tabard ran her hands down his bare legs. He wanted nothing more than to obliterate her with a meteor and spit in the ash cloud left behind, but a slim gold band around his wrist -- the only thing other than a plain undergarment he was still wearing -- kept him from doing anything of the sort. He’d already elbowed his way free of one of the male guards and a growing bruise below Qabian’s left eye was all he had to show for it. The mage wasn’t feeble, unhealthy, or unfit himself, but without magic or weapons to speak of, dexterity only had so much value. It wasn’t the first time he’d been in prison. He could remember a time when it seemed he was in and out of some lockup or another every few months. It wasn’t even the first time he’d been imprisoned by humans in a mostly human city, but past experience was doing little to calm him, and that time, he had been far from alone. There had been little action between the tower and the Stockade, where Qabian was unceremoniously dumped on the guards who immediately set about stripping him of everything, both valuable and valueless -- all of which, including his robes and tabard, as far as Qabian was concerned, was given up for lost. His habit of keeping most important items on his person would hurt, but he had no intention of staying in the Stockade, and his priority was freedom, not wasting time or opportunity wandering around searching for his gear. The woman finished manhandling him and passed him a small pile of tattered, off-white muslin from a nearby table. He grimaced, unfolding it to find a simple tunic and trousers. “I need more. A cloak.” The smooth, fluent Common he’d used to plead for himself back in the Violet Spire vanished beneath a thick accent and short sentences again. The woman just shrugged. “Get dressed,” she ordered. “No. Need more. A plain sheet even.” Qabian shook the pile of cloth, pinched between two fingers. “This will get me killed.” “Good. Get dressed.” Qabian hesitated, then complied. Someone was going to die for this. A lot of people were going to die for this. He stared at her, eyes narrowed in as blatant seething hatred as he could manage while he judged where on her person she might keep her keys for both frequent use and prevention of pickpocketing. He gingerly stepped into the frayed but clean clothing, muttering to himself in Thalassian. “I’m going to take a very long swim in the Sunwell as soon as I’m out of here.” The guard’s hard expression didn’t change, but she calmly informed him, “Talk like that again, and you won’t be eating this week.” Qabian raised an eyebrow. “You understand?” “No, but one more word and you’ll regret it.” Qabian nodded, frowning as he slipped the shirt over his head. The guard grabbed his arm, dragging him down a hall lit by lanterns. Qabian peered into the other cells they passed. None of the other occupants seemed to be dressed in a similarly frayed pajama set, but they did look like common rogues and bandits who had been wearing the same clothes for months. He didn’t see a single set of mage robes. The guard shoved him into a surprisingly spacious cell that clanged shut behind him. The roughness was thoroughly unnecessary, but he didn’t expect any better from humans. Qabian rubbed his upper arm as he looked around. Two other figures, a large, bulky human, snoring loudly on a straw-filled mat, and a young, thin one -- not really a child, but gangly with a round, large-eyed face that made it difficult to consider him grown -- was cowering in between two other bedrolls on the damp stone floor. Qabian frowned as he judged the situation. He wondered if he was being thrown in here for a particular reason, or if humans cared that little about what they did with whoever they deemed criminal. He suspected the latter. Qabian pointed at the mats. “Which is mine?” The figure didn’t answer, just stared at him, dark eyes wide with fear. Qabian raised an eyebrow, then shrugged. He grabbed the nearest mat, sat down with it over his lap, then proceeded to tear it apart. “Y-you shouldn’t do that,” the boy stammered. “Don’t care,” Qabian said without looking up from his work, using his teeth to pull out individual threads from the edging of the mat and the surface of thick linen. “W-why are you doing that?” Qabian glared at the boy. The boy shrank back against the wall. “To hide this.” Qabian pointed at his ear. “And these.” He motioned to his eyes. “Oh.” The boy seemed oddly calmed by the explanation. “Where will you sleep?” “On stones.” “Oh.” Qabian proceeded to piece together a makeshift cloak from the thick fabric of the mat. Straw was scattering everywhere, but the cell was hardly tidy enough for it to make much difference. He sewed without a needle, something he had done once before, forcing the thread through natural spaces in the weave of the fabric. The stitching, if it could be called that, would be weak, uneven, ugly, but if the knots were sturdy enough, it should hold decently. He didn’t plan to be in the Stockade long enough to wear it out. “Cold?” Qabian asked, without looking up. The boy, who had been staring curiously at the mage’s hands as he worked, jumped at the sudden question. “What?” Qabian paused to point at him. “You shake. Because you are cold?” “No.” “Fear.” The boy rested his forehead on his knees. “Yes,” he said, the word muffled by his chest. “My people hurt you.” It was not a question. The boy looked up. “How did you know?” “Obvious.” Qabian smirked at the boy. “Humans killed my parents,” Qabian lied, holding up two fingers. “Get over it.” The boy hesitated a moment, chewing on his bottom lip, then asked, “Why are you here?” “Betrayed. By humans.” “Oh.” “Happens many times.” Qabian turned back to his project. “You,” he said, tilting his head as he spoke, “I think... stealing?” “How did you know?” the boy asked again. Qabian tugged free another thread and laughed. “Too skinny for much else.” “Oh.” The boy put his head on his knees again. “Pick locks?” Qabian asked. The boy was silent, but his body moved as though he was stifling sobs. Qabian glanced at the sleeping figure on the other side of the cell, then leaned toward the boy to say quietly in accent-free Common, “If you can pick locks, I can get us both out of here.” The boy looked up, staring wide again, though this time his fear was tempered by both confusion and desperate hope. “Yes, but I have no picks.” Qabian, his voice still low, said, “If I can bring you, say, a needle, can you unlock this?” He held out his arm towards the boy, showing the golden band. The boy flinched at first, then shifted closer to the mage. He pinched the band between two fingers and peered at the tiny lock mechanism. “Maybe. It’s magic.” Qabian smiled at the boy. To those who didn’t know the mage, it may even have actually seemed genuine. “How did you know?” The boy’s curiosity faded and his expression turned to panic. “I-I don’t. It’s -- I --” “Don’t worry about it. We will get out of here.” “If you say so, mister. W-what’s your name?” Qabian shook his head, this time more seriously, switching back to a more conversational volume and the thick accent. “No. No name. Call me Grim. I call you Boy.” The boy shrugged. “I’m nineteen.” Qabian laughed. “Boy.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder, indicating their snoring cellmate. “Him, too?” Boy whimpered, a disconcertingly childish sound. “Please no” Qabian grinned wickedly. “Consider him dead,” he whispered. Boy smiled ever so slightly before putting his head back down on his knees as Qabian went back to mangling the bedroll into a cloak large enough to pull down over his face and hide his eyes.
  18. “You! You’re under arrest,” Cavanaugh marched into the Legerdemain lounge, pointing an accusing finger at one of the patrons who was sitting at the bar, sipping at a steaming mug. The handful of people in the establishment looked around. A few of them got up to leave. Qabian turned just his head, slowly raising an eyebrow at the commotion without lowering his mug. Cavanaugh slammed a gauntleted fist on the bar next to the blood elf. “Now.” Qabian finally put down his coffee then lifted his hands in front of him, palms out, otherwise relaxed. “By you?” Qabian asked. “Yes, by me. Get up.” “You think this is Stormwind?” Qabian spoke slowly, plying that thick accent of his over the Common words. “You have no power here. I lived here when your father was a child. This is my city.” “The Council will see the truth,” Cavanaugh growled. “Get up,” he commanded a second time. Qabian tilted his head, then gave Cavanaugh a slow grin followed by a shrug, just as slow with a dramatic twist of the wrist. “You have such faith. Let us see.” He stood, again slow and calm, brushing non-existent dust from his robes. “But answer this: Why?” Cavanaugh took a deep breath, folding his arms across his unmistakeable white and red tabard. “Do not toy with me, mage.” Qabian held his arms to either side in a gesture of innocence, but the smirk on his face showed only arrogance. “As you wish.” Qabian walked out into the street at a relaxed saunter, his hands clasped behind his back, his face turned up to smile at the sparkling tower of the Violet Spire. Cavanaugh followed behind, armor clanking with each frustrated step. “Move faster, mage.” “Why hurry? A few more minutes delayed justice?” Qabian said, but picked up the pace nonetheless. In the foyer of the Spire, the Council were conspicuous in their absence. A human woman in thick glasses and a Kirin Tor tabard stepped forward. “Sir Cavanaugh. Magister. May I be of assistance?” Cavanaugh bowed low. “If it please, madam, this man is a murderer. I request his extradition to Stormwind.” The woman dipped her head, looking over the top of her glasses at the two men, then sighed. “Perhaps we should have this discussion somewhere more discreet.” She led them up the main stairs to one of the parlors. Closing the door behind them, she looked pointedly at Cavanaugh. “What has he done this time?” “Come now, Redgrave. You’d take his word over mine? You know me,” Qabian interrupted in Thalassian. “Yes, I do, Amberlight. That's precisely why I'd take anyone's word over yours.” Cavanaugh cleared his throat. “He murdered the night matron of the Cathedral Square Orphanage in cold blood.” “He lies. I was nowhere near Stormwind,” Qabian snapped. The encounter wasn't going quite as he'd expected. Redgrave took off her glasses and began to clean them. “You have an alibi?” “Of course. I was in Suramar.” Cavanaugh snarled. “I saw you with my own eyes, fiend.” “Prove it!” Qabian spat back. “Then you can present your alibi in Stormwind,” Redgrave suggested. “Is -- Is that a joke?” Qabian stammered, his Common suddenly fluent and accent free. “You must be joking. Stormwind has never treated my people fairly and is unlikely to hear shal’dorei truth over the lies of one of their own sons. If I must be forced to present evidence of my innocence, let me present it in Silvermoon where at least my head will still be attached to my shoulders by the time I'm heard.” “Nonsense,” said Redgrave, waving a hand. “The alleged crime was in Stormwind. They will hear the evidence.” Qabian scowled. “I see Jaina still runs the Kirin Tor,” he said in Thalassian. “Careful, Amberlight,” Redgrave warned. “That's not my name. And you can't simply interfere in my work with the Tirisgarde. Have Modera play my shadow again at least until my projects are complete,” Qabian suggested, a note of desperation edging into his voice. There were few things that mattered to him, but his own survival was one of them. “Don't tell me what to do, Magister.” Redgrave stomped a heel. “You will go to Stormwind, and the Kirin Tor will send an advisor to ensure you have your say. Will you do this willingly, or must you be forced?” Cavanaugh watched the exchange in grim but polite silence. Qabian hesitated to answer. He took a few steps backward. His expression shifted from panic to rage, then to cold determination. “Fine,” he said finally. Redgrave stepped forward, closing the space he’d made between them. “Your arm.” Qabian obeyed, but said quietly, “You’ll regret this.” “I sincerely hope that’s not a threat, Magister,” Redgrave said as she closed two halves of a thin gold band around his wrist. “You’ll find out, won't you?” Qabian muttered. The woman turned to Cavanaugh and handed him a small golden key. “He won’t be able to cast spells while the band is locked. I entrust you’ll be able to handle him otherwise.” Cavanaugh took the key and bowed low. “Of course, madam.”
  19. Full Name: Qabian Grimfire (pronounced K-B-N, né Amberlight) Nicknames: Q (sometimes used as a signature, not commonly addressed as such) Date of Birth: About 70 years before the destruction of the Sunwell. He does not make his birthdate common knowledge. Age: Early 80s (young adult) Race: Blood Elf Gender: Male Hair: Copper, kept long. Eyes: Bright fel green. Height: 6’0” (assuming average human heights) Weight: 165lbs Physical Features: Typical Sin’dorei, angled features, tanned, fencer’s build, missing most of his left ear. Place of Residence: Silvermoon Place of Birth: Silvermoon Known Relatives: Qynda Amberlight (mother - murdered) M_____ Amberlight (father – dead) A_____ Amberlight (sister – Farstrider, missing, presumed dead) Ashtyn Amberlight (cousin) Marniel Amberlight (distant relative - innkeeper at Fairbreeze Village) Religion/Philosophy: Typical Sin’dorei, never truly convinced that Kael'thas was entirely in the wrong, refuses to submit to or consort with demons but content to abuse fel magic otherwise. Generally pragmatist, individualist, fatalist, determinist. He cares little for higher powers and more about power in practice. Occupation: Magister Group/Guild Affiliation: The Grim Guild Rank: Reaper Enemies: Any and all humans, the Alliance at large. No love for Trolls, but he will leave them to their business provided they leave him to his. Weapons of Choice: Fire. Also magical blades. Likes: Himself, fire, magic, power, crushing humans, cleanliness. Dislikes: Humans, anything related to humans, gore, filth, wasting time. Also demons, and the obnoxiousness of the Light. Favorite Foods: Sagefish cooked any way, lobster dinners are also appreciated, and exquisite cheeses Favorite Drinks: Suntouched Special Reserve, a good vintage Port, coffee Favorite Colors: Red and gold Hobbies: Researching, jewelcrafting, book binding, fencing, pyromania Special Abilities: Talented mage, some minor fencing skills Positive Personality Traits: Pride, narcissism, dedication, determination, intensity, loyalty (selectively), diplomacy (selectively), carefulness Negative Personality Traits: Pride, narcissism, arrogance, cruelty, deviousness, insensitivity, wrath, fury, single-mindedness, cowardice Misc. Quirks: Definitely a pyromaniac, highly fastidious outside of the heat of combat. After a run-in with the Bronze dragonflight for an indeterminate amount of time, all of Qabian's previous scars and illnesses were seemingly removed, with the exception of the loss of the better part of his left ear. Played by What Famous Person: Cillian Murphy a la Dr. Jonathan Crane Theme Songs: The Dandy Warhols - Godless: "I said you're heartless and I swear you're godless." Fischerspooner - We Need A War: "A war to make us feel safe, a war to make them feel sorry, whoever they are, we need a war." Mobile - See Right Through Me: "I live to justify to say the reason why you might sense my fear but you won't see right through me." Basic History: Once old enough to walk, Qabian was sent by his parents to work with the priests of a small chapel in Silvermoon in order to be taught and have access to a library. His affinity for magic was discovered there and he was sent as an apprentice to the Magisters. He studied with the Magisters, spending time alternately in Silvermoon and Dalaran until the destruction of the Sunwell. He lost his father, younger sister, and friends in the conflict and subsequent loss. He channeled that loss into a formidable hatred for the Alliance, and an intense hope for Kael’thas' eventual return and the supremacy of the Sin’dorei. Qabian’s efforts during the reconstruction of Silvermoon have earned him the title of Magister after many decades of apprenticeship. In his youth he was something of a social butterfly, interested in parties and dances and attending important events with friends, but with the past years of hardship in Silvermoon, Qabian’s attitude has become considerably hardened to the society he once considered important. His priority shifted to the destruction of the Alliance and anything that does not involve advancing that goal is no longer worth his time. After getting involved with a certain young Duchess and being asked to kill the Wretched who was once his best friend, Qabian was accused of the Duchess' murder and removed from the Magisters. Thanks to connections made through the Grim, and the aid of the Dawnspire family, Qabian was able to manipulate a wide variety of people, resulting in the death of said Duchess' husband and nephew, and the estate being left to himself. However, while engaged in those machinations, he also fell in with an unknown young woman who left him with a scar across his face that refused to heal properly. Initial History with the Grim: Having heard of the Grim's purpose and motivations, Qabian sought them out, eventually speaking with Lascivious and agreeing to do whatever was necessary to follow the Mandate. Within the Grim, Qabian has worked with all styles of magic in several different fields, although his preferences remain rooted in his past, as was made clear as his history continued to interfere with his attempts to construct himself as Grim first and foremost. Qabian's mother, already in poor health after an encounter with a certain rogue, was murdered at Winter Veil by an unknown assailant with a candy cane. He had his suspicions about who was guilty of it, but was more concerned about improving the security of the manor than avenging someone he insisted he never cared about. An incident involving an Alliance witch and the tearing of his soul led him to seek help from a few fellow Grim and affected his opinions on such things as the nature of souls. Qabian's involvement with Nymare Sunfire was difficult to define, especially based on their extended complex history over Qabian's years with the Grim. Over time he seemed to have embraced the idea of a fellow narcissist who was capable of both improving and adding to his own actions, motivations, and considerations, and of maintaining a very real interest in himself and his thoughts. Though he remains reticent to discuss the matter openly on the basis that it is no one's business but his own, their relationship was hardly a secret. Qabian was made a Dreadweaver for bureaucratic reasons early in his time with the Grim. He eventually carved a niche for himself among the Grim leadership that went beyond the specific challenges of the arcane. Though Lascivious as the Mistress had a way of keeping him in line, he found her departure incredibly disappointing in terms of his original impressions and beliefs about her as a leader, and her absence left him less inclined to submission and more likely to speak his mind and take control whenever he deemed himself capable. Abric, it seems, recognized a certain capacity and created the new position of the Keeper which Qabian then took up. Recent History with the Grim: Qabian left the Grim without warning in the dead of night, no explanations made. He slowly became more and more reclusive, eventually disappearing for several years. He returned suddenly, alongside one of the Araun's occasional appearances, but clearly a great deal about the mage had changed in the intervening time, including a loss of strength with which he continues to struggle. Qabian approached the Grim alone and repentant. While he was accepted back without question, the former Keeper volunteered to take the Supplicant trials again in order to learn how the Grim had changed in the years of his absence. After completing his trials, he was accepted fully back into the ranks, but at his final Inquisition, Syreena suddenly demanded his ears. To the surprise of those in attendance, Qabian took a knee and accepted the Forsaken's demand. She sliced off one of his ears, and today Qabian wears the mutilation as a badge of pride, a symbol of his willingness to do whatever the Grim demand of him, something that he acknowledges has not always been the case. Old Stories: Worse than Defeat (Interior Monologuing): It's like a journal except it's in his brain. And it's just words. Nothing fancy. Generally summarizes his many thought trains. The Value of a Curse: Qabian takes a research trip to Hyjal. Some backstory. Questioning A Beginning: A letter he doesn't intend to send. Some backstory. The Mark of a Fool: An encounter with a human rogue. Necessity's Game: Qabian meets with an old friend and a new one, and things change drastically. A cursed dagger involves the Grim. News From Home: Qabian receives a letter from his mother and meets Ninorra, though not for the first time. Dinner Conversation: Ninorra invites Qabian over. High Strung: Qabian's trainer sends him to Silvermoon University for Anger Management training. (incomplete) The Power of Fear: Ninorra shows Qabian a different side of her world. Machinations: Qabian arranges matters to conveniently find himself in possession of land and a title. Let It Burn: Qabian's notable first encounter with Shigana Barov, and the reason he will never be able to entirely dismiss Mahakali. Her Voice (Rated Adults Only, heh): How he got that scar. Chance Encounter: With the rogue from The Mark of a Fool, Qabian arranges a particularly sweet vengeance. Escape: Qabian thinks Ninorra has finally changed for the better. He learns just how wrong he is. Disease: Shigana attempts to break Qabian. A Simple Letter: Qabian enlists the Grim to help him recover what Shigana stole. The Sum of One's Thoughts: Qabian fights back to keep his mind his own. The Easy Part: Qabian and Acherontia take down Shigana, short and sweet. Qabian and the Mistress: Lascivious shows Qabian just how far she can push him. A Better Brew: Malorii introduces Qabian to coffee. Chasing Memory: Qabian takes a trip through time, looking for someone or something. Nightmare: Just a nightmare. Company's Coming: Malorii moves in. Dying for a Soul: Acherontia finally manages to put the soul Shigana broke back together, but it's not quite that simple. Personal Inquisitions: A short discussion with Melchisedech. Dark Shadow: Qabian's mother meets an unfortunate end. To Catch a Firefly: Qabian's under arrest. Again. (incomplete) Petals Falling: Malorii's back and wants something from Qabian. Collecting a Debt: Qabian pisses off Heidenreich. Music Theory: Qabian and Ninorra talk too much. Really. Stronger than magician ever spoke: Qabian sets up a fountain, but don't expect him to admit it wasn't his idea. Champagne Supernova: Last day of midsummer gets a little extended, but turns out just the way it should. Bliss: Wedding, bwahahaha! Worlds Apart: A study on disaster And these are stories generally belonging to others or about others into which Qabian managed to add his two cents: The Lovely Hell (Response): Ninorra's personal hell. Taken (Response): Nymare's kidnapped. A Night at the Ball (Response): The Harvest Ball. Reactions to Heresy (Response): Street preaching in Silvermoon Remnants of Reflection (Response): Evanthe's dreams of Malorii The Twisting Path of Sabachthan Ghant (Response): Getting involved again Correspondence (Response): Intercepting Nymare's mail. In the Service of the Horde (Response): From his side. Acta Sanctorum (Response): Trying to ditch some drugs. Misdirections (Response): A messenger from the Prince? The Defense of Refuge Point and Southshore by the Fabled Paladin Order (Response): A long night of fighting makes people write letters. Wretched: Karazhan abuse to keep out warlocks. Curse of Flesh: Nymare does what in the cellar? Il Notte Eterna: Another nightmare The morning after.: Dealing with Mordria NEW STORIES: Time Shattered (Interior Monologuing): Current quote unquote journal, not actually written anywhere. Things That Cannot Be: Qabian's return Clock Strikes: Qabian explores the cave where he was found Design Flaw: Inspired by the hidden artifact appearance Piece of Mind: What he's up to in his spare time Curious Craft: A plan to create a weapon doesn't quite turn out like he expects (to be continued) Playing with Fire: Traditional orphanage burning in honor of Children's Week goes awry (to be continued) Spelling Trouble: Qabian tries to teach some lessons (to be continued) New annoying other people: Keeping Secrets: Innocent people who did nothing wrong.
  20. This is the worst holiday. There are objectively worse holidays. But subjectively, qualitatively, personally... this one is the worst.
  21. That was interesting. It at least confirmed again why I go to such things. I doubt I'll use the information I gained, but the simple act of gaining it is comforting. And I learned my lesson about showing up on time. Punctuality is important for combat. It's terrible for social functions. Unfortunately, I somehow spent most of the time waxing eloquent and arrogant myself, rather than listening to others, spouting my truths like all those flag bearers I claim to hate so much. I suppose I don't mind my own hypocrisy because, as far as I know, I hold my flag alone. The bartender never had the audacity to disagree with me, but that may simply be a demonstration of his skill in his work. He also had more coffee varieties than I've ever seen at a single vendor. I wonder who those individuals the bartender has such distaste for really are. I must say I do enjoy so many of the things that have changed in my absence. For someone who is so often criticized for being too serious, I felt like I was laughing the whole time. Being called a sycophant of all things. What? I absolutely bent my knee consistently when it was appropriate, when I was being judged. Perhaps giving my ear as I did was a sycophant's act, but my judgment has passed, and I have since bent my knee to no one. Flattery is not in my nature. Given who I was readily criticizing at that bar, that should have been immediately apparent. Constant opportunity for schadenfreude also helped, and attacking those who were not present to defend themselves, though I doubt Kiannis even would, which is why I was attacking him in the first place. He'll defend the Mandate and his pack until his dying breath, certainly, but his own identity? He seems ready to subsume that in any nearby shadow at any moment. Perhaps my few conversations with him have not revealed enough, but until that changes, I don't particularly care if I'm wrong. I also neglected to mention that if I did take any concerns to Awatu, if he acted like any past Grim leadership I knew, he would sensibly put me in charge of addressing those concerns, and that is so much less amusing than simply laughing at the struggles of others. Syreena got in a very accurate slice at me, but I'm not sure she noticed, or she did and was reluctant to give me the opportunity to shut my mouth, so pulled back the inquiry when it could have done the most damage. It is rather difficult for me to dig my own grave when I'm busy acting the wallflower, hm?
  22. There was once a time when if you wanted to harass humans, you didn't have to venture quite so far from Silvermoon's gates. These days, everything between the Ghostlands and the Hinterlands was under the flag of either the dead or trolls. With one exception. Qabian stepped out from behind one of Hearthglen's many towers. The flag of the Argent Crusade was far from enough to stymie racially motivated mischief. Even when Lordaeron had been close enough to toy with, technically they had been allies. What was a little silver between frenemies? Qabian carried a small wooden crate under one arm that occasionally made scratching noises. The panther cub followed at the mage's heels, nearly invisible in the night's shadows. Occasionally the creature bounced on its hindlegs, trying to reach Qabian's crate. Qabian waited as a pair of patrolling guards holding a single lamp between them passed by, then walked calmly up the ramp to the tower. He took a handful of something from a pouch at his belt, tossed it in the open doorway, then knelt, placing one hand on the cub's shoulders, forcing it down as he set the crate on the ground to his other side. "Shh," Qabian hissed quietly as he flicked a latch on the crate. A half dozen rats scurried into the darkness of the tower. The cub fought against the hand holding him down, its haunches tensed as it focused intensely on the fleeing rats. "One... Two..." Qabian whispered, then flames flickered between his fingers, setting the cub's fur alight. Apparently unconcerned with being on fire, the flaming cat wriggled free of the mage's loosening grip and dashed into the tower. Qabian couldn't help but chuckle as he slipped back into the shadows, sliding completely out of view where he stood to watch flames spread through the greyscale tower and listen to the shouts and emerging chaos. Something icy slipped down the side of his neck as he watched, and the mage instinctively raised an arm, scanning the scene for the source. Further ice bounced harmlessly off a translucent, fiery shield, but he was no longer hidden from view. He narrowed his eyes. A night elf stood at the top of the tower, her arms held over her head as she cast her spell. "Kal'dorei?" Qabian said under his breath. There were some among the Tirisgarde, but it still struck him as odd every time he saw them using magic. No different than orcs allowing each other to be warlocks, perhaps, but it had been frowned upon among them for so long. Had there always been Highborne among the Argent? Or were they just teaching each other once forbidden spells? He flicked a gesture and the night elf's spell cut short. She put a hand to her throat, glaring down at Qabian. He bowed dramatically, then gave her a lazy salute and a smirk. Flames shot up from somewhere behind her, followed by an indistinct yowl. She was not distracted. The effect of the silencing wore off and she shouted, pointing in Qabian's direction. He laughed, vanishing in a flash of arcane mist as dazed Argent guardsmen stumbled toward where he had been standing, but he was long gone.
  23. Qabian pulled the hood of his plain, dark robes down over his face as he leaned against the cleanest wall he could find in the lower section of the Apothecarium. He didn't want to be recognized, and his distaste for the locale made him even more tense than necessary. Three days past, the banshee had directed him to wait here for a shadow hunter. Waiting for some unknown troll likely to ruin everything he was planning only added to his irritation, but Qabian was determined to at least see this part through. The expected shadow hunter strolled in, carrying herself with a sort of tall formality, but her skin was drawn and wrinkled and her hair thin, showing age in a way Qabian rarely encountered in trolls. Skulls of varying sizes clicked where they hung around her robes at her hips and shoulders. She saw him immediately and nodded toward him, grinning around her tusks while somehow seeming serious. "Elf." Qabian bowed his hooded head slightly lower and stood forward from the wall by way of acknowledgment. "I heard you have a request for me." Qabian took a deep breath, managing not to sigh overtly, and held out a scroll from his heavy sleeve. The troll took the scroll from him, then unrolled the parchment and narrowed her eyes at the script. "Who wrote this?" "I did," Qabian said without looking up. "You know this tongue?" She sounded incredulous. "I do." "How--" "It's a long story," Qabian interrupted. "I have time." "I don't." The troll cocked a hip, then shrugged and tucked the scroll under one of the skulls at her waist. "What do you want?" "To forge a weapon," Qabian explained. "What weapon?" The troll's tone shifted to suspicion. "A weapon of collective will." "That needs more than this." She tapped the scroll. "I was told it does not, at least--" He stopped mid-explanation, waving one hand in a dismissive gesture. The mage finally looked up and pulled back his hood, revealing his missing ear. "The collective cannot be gathered in the usual capacity. I will do what it takes with what I have." The troll paused, then nodded, her fingers still on the scroll. "You want to make these words a weapon." "Yes," Qabian confirmed. "But this is, as I'm sure you understand, experimental. This will be the first of many." She shook her head. "No. Not from me, but a favor is owed. You will get your first... experiment." Qabian tensed his jaw, not willing to push the argument. With one result, perhaps he could reverse engineer the spellwork, unravel it until he understood it enough to continue on his own. "Fine." "I will need blood." Qabian flinched. Toying with his blood had a history of ending badly. "Whose?" The troll grinned, less serious, more devious. "Not yours. Yet. Dragon blood is best." Slowly, Qabian's lips stretched in a grin that mirrored the shadow hunter's before him. "That I can happily provide."
  24. Qabian sat turned around in his chair, chin resting on his arms folded across the back, and stared at the panther cub sprawled out across the dark pillows of the once neatly made bed. In other lighting, it would have been nearly invisible in the rumpled mess, but the sunbeam from the half-drawn drapes lay right across the creature. It wasn't irritating enough to do anything about, but it was more of a problem than the solution he had initially hoped for. When he had first come across the spellwork to create a weapon, he had envisioned something far more literal. Ruuki was no longer High Inquisitor, so Qabian hardly felt indebted to her for his theoretical failure regarding this project, but he had still wanted something more than this lump of an inconvenient cat. Lately, he had considered offering it to Syreena. She seemed to always have some task or other that needed doing, someone who had legitimately offended her in some way. Maybe she could find a use for a cat that you could set on fire and send into a building only to have it return a few hours later. But then there was the issue of the words. Qabian didn't believe he had ever put words to paper that he would regret, that might come back to haunt him, but that didn't mean he wanted just anyone having the capacity to read and connect anything he had written back to him. Given the nature of the magic that had created the thing, the possibility existed that a change of ownership would result in a change of words, but what if it didn't? That wasn't something he particularly wanted to risk. Qabian sighed. Nothing was going quite right lately, but nothing was going wrong enough to make trouble about either. He had missed the opportunity to simultaneously confess to murder and grind the new supplicant into the dirt. On the one hand, it always felt better when they came to understand themselves before the trouble started. On the other, it would have been good, clarifying, to have been the one responsible. Perhaps it had been a mistake to want to show him that there were those who truly believed in the Mandate before laying out how it was all bullshit but worth every ounce of chaos.
  25. Recent developments in the Tirisgarde are curious. Sunreaver has made so many awkward decisions. He has always been far too cooperative and diplomatic for his own good. He still is. All the decent things that happened under his guidance have happened despite his actions and intentions, if history represents him correctly. And yet, it is better to at least have a presence if we can no longer have the command we deserve. Isn't it? Despite all his problems and significant weaknesses, I confess he has good taste in some respects, especially when the louder Grim rant about felsuckers while surrounded by orcs and sin'dorei who have sucked more fel than the nightborne collectively have even seen. No one needs to be in league with the Legion to understand how to use and abuse power to one's own ends.

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The Twisting Nether Gazette is a role play forum for characters on the RP-PVP servers Twisting Nether and Ravenholdt.  We have been active since November of 2005, a few months after the Twisting Nether server originally went live.  Our purpose is to provide a safe and inclusive environment where role players can meet and interact with each other, and, of course, post their amazing role play stories, art, bios, and journals.

Useful Links

Posting new RP? Consider cross posting to our sister site, The Ravenholdt Sanctum.

Official WoW Forums for Ravenholdt/Twisting Nether Server

 

Horde Guild Links

Borrowed Time

The Grim

Sanctuary