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Noury

The Holy Proclamation...

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Archbishop Benedicus sat in his private study, his chin resting on his clasped hands, elbows propped on his mother of pearl inlayed oaken desk.

Having dealt with the matter of the Ravenveil woman as politics demanded, he turned his attention to the identity of the priest who had caused the commotion in the keep. From the description the guard was able to provide, Benedictus had a pretty good idea who had dared perform the transgression. That suspicion was confirmed upon his return to the Cathderal when Brother Joshua informed him of the visit by the excommunicated acolyte, Nouri.

It all fell into place, he was a known sympathizer of these “Swordwaltzers”, a fact which had led to his excommunication. It seemed he had worked it into his head to attempt some sort of intervention on behalf of this Kurohane. Did the man really think he could succeed?

What troubled Benedictus however was the information Joshua had offered, that he sensed Nouri had indeed grown in strength since his departure from the Holy Church of the Light. Where had the man been studying? Who had been training him? Certainly not some other priest of the Light! That would amount to sacrilege.

Benedictus lowered his hands to the table, idly tapping his fingers on the hard oak surface. After a few moments he came to a decision. Reaching for his quill and ink he began work on a clean sheet of parchment. It took several minutes to get the wording right, then raising the sheet to his face he blew gently to dry the moist pigment.

Summoning his clerk he instructed the lad to make copies of the proclamation and send them out to all regional chapels of the Holy Light. The original was to be posted in the foyer of the Cathedral itself.

Satisfied, Benedictus went to his private alcove to pray, firm in his belief that he was following the path of Righteousness.

**** PROCLAMATION *****

By order of the Archbishop Benedictus.

All priests and acolytes of the Holy Light are hereby advised of the convening of a Holy Inquisition.

The former acolyte known as Nouri is to be recalled to the Cathedral of Light to face High Inquiry as to the charges of Heresy against the Holy Light, suspicion of training in contravention to the orders of Excommunication, and suspicion of assault against the person of a guard of Stormwind Keep.

All attempts are to be made to detain this individual until Holy Authority can take possession of him. If he resists detention he is to be subdued.

Reports all information as to his whereabouts and activities to Brother Joshua of the Cathedral of Holy Light.

Praise the Light!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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(( Rules are simple. If you see me and are inclined to carry out this order, offer to duel.. If you win, I'm subdued and will follow you to the Cathderal. If I win, well Im free to carry on. Obviously is you are higher level you will have this easy :wink:

Oh, and if I sense im losing I WILL try to run....

Horde need not apply... unless of course someone engages the Sanguinary))

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Kurohane's eyes slowly narrowed as they scanned over the proclomation. Grinding her teeth, she snatched down the sheef of paper and spun on her heal. If Xelthan and Barke felt even half as strongly about this as she did, well... That boy Nouri was going to need some looking after.

(( Nouri, talk to me in game. <3 ))

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The news was not good.

Nouri would have to be careful now, especially in human lands. Indeed, after learning of the Holy Proclamation from Kurohane, Nouri saw the document for himself, posted on a support beam within the Inn at Southshore.

Luckily nobody took notice at his interest in the parchment. Everyone in this frontier town went about their own business, too concerned with various missions and excursions into hostile territories to take interest in some edict from faraway Stormwind.

It did mean however that Stormwind itself was now a place of danger. Unfortunately Nouri still had business to attend to within those high white walls. He would need to tread carefully and keep a low profile.

He was overjoyed to see Kurohane free, but suspected she hadn't revealed all that had transpired during her incarceration. She was a changed woman, with a harder edge to her demeanor and Nouri sensed a resigned attitude he hadn't seen in her before.

So passed the days of the Swordwaltzers. But out of the ashes new hope would arise.. Nouri had seen the visions.. Guardians redeemed..

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There were only a few guardians left before the cavern entrance when Nouri heard the commanding voice from behind him;

" Brother Nouri, who is called Heretic by the Holy Church of the Light. I am here by authority of the Archbishop to take you into custody to face Inquisition.”

Nouri paused in his healing to turn and regard his would be captor. There standing before him was a mature bearded man, dark of face wearing the garb of a well traveled priest of the Light. The man appeared confident, no doubt buoyed with the righteousness of his perceived duty, yet there was also a shifting of his feet. Perhaps a sign of underlying nervousness? Apprehension?

Nouri bowed ever slightly to the newcomer and replied, “Greetings Brother, a moment please. Let me finish assisting these fine folk and I will be with you shortly.”

The newcomer glanced around at the young elven warrior and dwarven priest, who in turn were looking rather confused at the situation, and nodded once.

Nouri smiled slightly in gratitude and turned back to his companions. “ Just one more assault and you will find the way to the cavern clear my friends. Once inside they can only come at you in small numbers.”

Nouri helped the two clear the way to the cavern the renegade Blackrock Orcs had occupied as a lair, and which was suspected as being the prison of a missing guard of Lakeshire. Once complete, he bowed to the two intrepid young adventurers and turned back to the waiting priest.

“ I am ready, let us walk..”

Without waiting for a response, Nouri began to walk back along the path between the northern hills towards the main road to Lakeshire. The priest hastened to get just a pace behind Nouri, then slowed to a walk to match step.

“So, with whom do I have the pleasure of walking with Brother?”asked Nouri.

“ I am Kyergen, of the Tears of the Phoenix and servant to the Light,” answered the priest.

“ Then Light be with you Brother, for to serve the Light one must walk in it,” replied Nouri.

They walked a while in silence. At times renegade orcs of the Blackrock clan waylaid them in the hills, much to their regret. Kyergen fought them back at each encounter alongside Nouri, only to hasten to regain position lest Nouri attempt to flee in the confusion. During one encounter in particular the priest uttered a resounding “DIE! Foul creatures!” as he repelled the orc attack.

Nouri pondered the priest for a moment and said,” They are not foul. Only misunderstood really. The Scourge is foul..”

Kyergen said nothing, but regarded Nouri as if he had just said, “ I am the lost king of Stormwind.”

The continued on in silence, emerging from the hills just in time to see a young human mage preparing to venture into the hills herself.

Nouri decided to work on the priest. Test his resolve. Examination of his companion along the walk told Nouri this was one very accustomed to administering aid, healing combatants, studying in libraries and copying manuscripts. He had not often seen the front lines of battle. Nor suspected Nouri had he wielded the powers of the Light in combat to the degree he himself had, as an adventurer or as part of the League of Arathor. Experienced, yes. He looked to have spent as much time in service as Nouri. But of a less violent nature.

If it came to conflict, Nouri was prepared. But conflict was furthest from his desire. He wanted to see if reason could prevail.

“ So, do you enjoy doing Benedictus’ dirty work?” asked Nouri.

They walked past the mage, who was hurrying up the path into the hills. Nouri paused to bless her as she passed. “ Light bless you” and he fortified her. Kyergen offered his own blessings

“ Light be with you my child.”

After she thanked the two priests, she disappeared into the hills and they continued along the road south towards town.

“I do what is commanded of me”, replied Kyergen after a time.

“ Ah, yes, even if those commands do not show compassion? What of the third virtue?”

“ In the Twisting Nether, the Light judges. Not I” , replied Kyergen.

The man was strong in his dogma. Benedictus must have favored this one as an acolyte, thought Nouri wryly. A prodigal son..

As if reading his thoughts, Kyergen continued, “ the Archbishop is a wise man, and I do not question him.”

“ Ah, convenient.” said Nouri. “ To let your mind waste away in favor of following anothers work.”

Nouri turned his face towards Kyergen, fixing his gaze. “But I ask you, what when those works turn foul?”

Kyergen looked about to respond, then thought better of it. Good. I might be getting inside, thought Nouri.

They walked a bit further down the road. There where it branched off to the east and down towards Anther Mill, Nouri started speaking again.

“ You said that in the Twisting Nether the Light judges, not you..”

“ But why then does the Light bless us with its gifts if not to use them? Why are we given wisdom if it is not to be exercised? “

Kyergen paused in his stride. “ My orders are to bring you in. It did not say how. I would prefer to do it peacefully, but I am prepared to subdue you if you force me to.”

So, that was how it was going to be.

“You may try..” Nouri answered.

Just then, an orc ran past the two. Seemingly oblivious to them, it chased after some imaginary foe. Nouri pondered the orc’s actions, a sense of pity coming over him.

“ They are as children sometimes, these Blackrock orcs.” Nouri said.

Kyergen just followed the orc’s path with his gaze, then answered, “ they seem to be filled with rage.”

He then turned to Nouri and stated,” Should I assume that you will not come peacefully to be judged for whatever crime it is that you have committed?”

Nouri ignored the question, still pondering the orcs.

“ Yes, rage, but by no fault of their own. They’re downfall was to blindly follow the will of one they though of a wise.”

Kyergen stopped and turned to faced Nouri. “You speak of their leader as if he were anything more than a barbarian brute!”

Nouri turned to face Kyergen. “ I speak of Mannoroth and the Burning Legion. It is he who beguiled the orcs and caused the blood curse.”

Nouri braced himself.. Now would be the test.

“ To answer your question Kyergen. I follow my heart and the will of the Light. The Archbishop cannot say the same in this matter….”

Kyergen cut him off. “ The Archbishop is closely connected to the Light. That is why he is Archbishop.” The man's face showed the conviction of his words. “ To say otherwise is blasphemy!”

Nouri sighed. “Perhaps he was once. Now he is more connected to politics, and wealth. And power.”

Nouri drew himself up straight. “ I have decided I will not accept his invitation.”

Kyergen nodded as if expecting the response. “ So be it..”

Nouri prepared himself mentally for the coming test.

“ Go in peace Brother. I have no quarrel with you. But if I must stop you. I WILL.”

Kyergen raised his hand in salute. “ May the Light have mercy on you.”

Then just like that it was on. Nouri saw Kyergen begin to channel holy energies. In an instant Nouri silenced his opponent and burnt away some of his magical energies. Nouri shielded himself just in time. Kyergen had regained his voice and cast a Holy Fire upon Nouri. The pain was intense, but the shield absorbed much of the damage. Nouri jumped to the side and concentrated. Light seemed to turn in on itself with a whoosh!

Nouri had taken shadowform.

Kyergen paused momentarily to consider the new situation. To his undoing. Nouri took advantage by casting a crippling Mind Blast. A swift succession of flays to Kyergen’s psyche and it was over.

There kneeling in defeat was the heaving, quivering frame of the priest, Kyerven. Nouri let go shadowform and approached the priest.

He paused a moment, then cast a heal on his opponent.

“ Compassion, the third virtue. I show you this Kyergen. Knowing Archibishop Benedictus would have not.”

“Light Be with you Brother.”

Nouri turned and departed, not turning back to look.

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He thought his disguise was discreet enough, but a quick poke in the ribs near the mailbox told him otherwise. Nouri turned to see a smiling, bouncy Teelia stifling a giggle.

Nouri was relieved, and overjoyed at once. " Teelia! I am so glad to see you. We need to talk.. privately."

The rogue's grin faded slightly and took on the look of concern. " Of course Wes. Lets go."

As they left the mailbox, Nouri discreetly folded the letter he had been reading and stuffed it inside his vest.

Walking together they made their way to a secluded corner of the Trade District. A quick glance confirmed they were alone, except for a lone beggar that was known to frequent the alleyways in the area.

Nouri sat on the low masonry wall lining the pathway and motioned for Teelia to sit next to him. "What is it Wes?" she asked. "Is something wrong?"

Nouri shook his head. " No, at least not at the moment. But I have received some news that concerns me. It appears someone is asking questions about me. Trying to locate my whereabouts. For what reason I cannot say."

Teelia's look of concern deepened. " Do you think they are after you for the Church?"

Nouri shrugged. " Who knows? A priest tried yesterday. Caught up to me in Redridge."

Teelia inhaled sharply. " Wes, are you ok?"

"Yes. I'm fine. The priest is probably recuperating, no less for the wear." Teelia looked relieved.

" So, this is someone else then?"

Nouri nodded. "Yes, my...sources tell me that he has been asking after me. Whether to apprehend me or to offer protection, the source could not say for certain. This individuals motives are unknown."

Nouri took Teelia's hands in his own. " Teelia dear, I know you have your.. connections. This is your area of expertise, not mine. I need you to see what you can discover about this individual, what they are after and who they are talking to."

"Of course Wes. You know I will do everything I can. What is his name?"

Nouri replied, " My sources tell me he called himself Verloran."

At the name Teelia froze, her eyes went wide and her breath hissed out in surprise. "Wes! I know this man! He is a Scourge Slayer!"

Nouri paused for a moment to consider her words. "Teelia, you must be honest with me. Did you know anything about this? You know I trust you and will believe what you say."

“Wes, I swear I knew nothing of this. The Slayers do not pry into each other’s business and we lead our own lives. But if this is true and he is asking questions, I will be sure to ask him about it.” Teelia said with conviction.

“ Hmm, “ Nouri pondered the issue for a moment. Maybe this can be used to advantage? “Teelia, from what you say about the Scourge Slayers, he probably is uunaware of our relationship. That could give us the advantage. You could approach him discreetly, bring up the subject of myself in passing, see what he is willing to reveal to you. Working on him slowly. That might work more than a direct confrontation.”

Teelia nodded. “ I was thinking the same Wes.”

Nouri chuckled. “ Of course you were. I learned that from you!”

Nouri stood and kissed Teelia on the forehead. “ I will leave it in your hands dear. You are the expert here.”

The two spent a few more moments sharing each other’s company, a rare occasion lately, before parting on their separate paths. As Nouri headed towards the gryphon riders his thoughts dwelt on this new possible threat, and its significance.

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(( man...I remember when Nouri was randomly babbling preachertalk at us in the Pig and Whistle...our little boy is all growed up... *sniff*

Great job as always, Nouri. <3 ))

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((Great transcripting. That was so much fun. Hard to PR though, since I don't share Kyergen's conviction. I will sit today and write some on the after math.))

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((Great transcripting. That was so much fun. Hard to PR though, since I don't share Kyergen's conviction. I will sit today and write som on the after math.))

(( C'mon Laron! Tell the truth! You and I both know the actual fight was less dramatic and more comical! :lol:

Just for info to youze all.. we BOTH forgot to toggle off our "walk" when we duelled. It threw us both off so much it was hysterical! Like I told him in a PM afterwards, we were like two "stoner hippie priests" fighting while high..

Hmm.. that might work as an alternate version of that duel..))

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((I still giggle at that... Stoned Priests... I just can't belive I thought you had slowed me...))

On his knees, Kyergen, pants in pain, his mind had been struck form the inside. He now knew what it felt like to be struck with the wrath of the light. “Light I come to meet you.” He thought, as he suddenly feels the familiar caress of being healed. His mind reeled from confusion. “He healed me, instead of ending my stay on this world?” Opening his eyes, he sees the so called Heretic walk away. Falling forward on his palms, he says in a voice that probably was not heard by the man leaving him. “Thank you for sparring me.”

The flight back to Stormwind was not long enough. Kyergen walks through the streets of the city bumping into people as he walks, his mind still recovering from the blow, but also in deep thought. “Why did he spare me? I meant to bring him to his most certain imprisonment, and he sparred my life…” He turns the corner to the Square, to see the Cathedral standing like a beacon of truth and hope. His thoughts turn to what was said. “Now he is more connected to politics, and wealth. And power” Looking to the courtyard, he sees the children of the orphanage playing and running about. “How could that be? Look at all the good that the Ach Bishop has done for the people.” He walks with even more conflict in his mind. Kneeling to Benedictus, he kisses his ring. “May we speak in private Father?” With a confused look he says “But of course my son. But confessions are done later tonight.” They walk to his office, which is lavishly decorated. Kyergen takes notice or the rich things that should not be needed by a man who is so closely connected with the Light. Why he himself, had not even thought about buying a horse for himself, even though he had reached the appropriate season to attain such a beast of burden.

“So what is this about my son?”

“Father I have failed you…”

“No, my son what makes you think such things?”

“I located the Heretic Nouri.”

“What?! Where?! Why did you not bring him in?!”

“I tried Father, but I am trained in the Holey realm of healing, not combat. I fell to his relaiation.”

“Yet you live?! The Light did not see fit to take you?”

“Absolutely not Father! Just as I lay there waiting for the Lights embrace to take me, I was healed by the Heretic. He showed me compassion and left me to recover.”

“Hmm this is an interesting change in events.”

“I am sorry that I failed you Father, I shall repent for my failure.”

“See that you do Kyergen, I will take into account that you tried to face an opponent of a higher season, who is clearly a dangerous man, and be lenient with my punishment for your failure.”

“Thank you Father.”

Kyergen heads out to Goldshire to spend the rest of this day healing the younger people of Stormwind, and curing of diseases. This was part of his redemption. Even as he does his duties, those cursed words ring in his head.

“Now he is more connected to politics, and wealth. And power.”

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Kyergen heads to Darkshire, people always seemed in need of healing at the town. Between the raids of the dreaded Horde, and the unending hunger of the undead that inhabit the once thriving forest. Today must have been an exception… Arriving late in the day Kyergen finds the town devoid of adventurers. With his thought starting to wonder, he decides to make use of the fine forge located in town, and practice his art of making armor and weapons. Nothing helped clear his mind more than good hard physical work. “Pure of body, pure of mind.” He thought as his ears rang with the sound of the striking hammer.

As he cooled his latest work on the vat of oil, he hears a woman’s voice from behind him. “You Priest, come with me I need you to take a look at something.” Turning around, he immediately recognizes the Night elf standing just outside the room, as the war criminal, Kurohane Ravenveil. Surprised, he says to her “Me? M’Lady what would you have of me Lady Ravenveil?”

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It had been painfully easy to find him. It had been even easier to get the good priest to accompany her out behind Darkshire. A simple mention that she wanted him to see something, that there were horde in the area – neither were untrue statements, and what conclusion he came to from them was his own doings.

An innocent enough letter from Nouri, asking how everyone had been, replying to her warning... and mentioning Kyergen's failed attempt at the so-called-holy arrest had been all she needed. She'd been itching for something along these lines as it was.

The priest now stood behind her as she peered around a tree, waiting patiently in the exact spot she had asked him to. Oh, this was far too easy. She carefully knocked an arrow in her quiver. He was getting nervous. How much of what had he heard about her, she wondered. Did he know she was friends with Nouri? Not likely, but he would soon.

They both started speaking at once as she turned, leveling her bow on him. The fool priest was looking off behind them.

“There's not any horde here,” he began.

“For every action there are rewards, my dear,” she spoke over him.

“Why did you bring me out he--” Kyergen cut off short with a cry of pain as her arrow landed squarely in his chest, just missing the point that would have killed him on the spot.

Oh yes, her aim was damn good. “And here is your's.”

He lay on the ground, gasping for air, quivering fingers now drenched in his own blood as he reached for the arrow in his chest. By the terror in his gaze, he knew just how close he was to death. She tilted her head to the side, considering him.

“W-why... Lady Ravenveil... wh-hy...” he gurgled as she sashed over to kneel beside him.

She could have slit his throat to end the job. She would have, and a good portion of her wanted to. Her fingers worked the edge of his worn tabard. Tears of the Pheonix's tabard... A small frown pulled at her lips. One of Laron's guildmates. She couldn't very well off him, then – she still owed Laron too much.

“Be glad you are wearing your colors today, Kyergan,” she stated quietly. He had managed to free the arrow from his chest. It lay in his weak hand as he continued gasping for air. “If not, you'd be dead right now.”

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Ironforge. By the Light how Nouri detested the place!

Being situated as it was in the geographical center of the Eastern Kingdoms, it was inevitable that it took on the life of a financial, cultural and industrial mecca. No matter the hour the vast, cavernous Outer Ring teemed with travelers, traders, craftsmen, explorers and adventurers. Not that Nouri could easily tell the hour without checking with the various time measuring devices situated throughout the expansive dwarven city. Ironforge had few windows.

Therein lied the reason for Nouri’s dislike for the otherwise remarkable masterpiece of dwarven architecture. The place had a perpetual stench of coal dust, smelting fumes, acrid wood smoke, sulfurous gasses, and sweaty bodies. It could have been much worse of course. If it weren’t for the ingenuity of the dwarves and their gnomish tenants in providing an elaborate ventilation system with long shafts cut through the living stone out to the high reaches of the mountain slopes, the place would be stifling.

As it was, extended visits to the dwarven capital meant the smells permeated every stitch of Nouri’s clothing, his bags, his hair, his pores. With his allergies, Nouri was sensitive to such strong vapors, although nothing really set him off as much as cats did. Of course, there were plenty to be had in Ironforge, from the small, furry pet kind right up to the huge highly trained riding cats the Kaldorei favored and everything in between. Through trial and error Nouri had discovered he could control the reactions through timely application of spiritual renewal spells.

Ironically, not too long ago this would have been no concern. Living the better part of a year with a clan of troggs in their cave provided its own unsavory menu of foul aromas. Not the least of which was the cooking smells! While Grnn’T and his lovely mate Brrrp’Pth were generous enough, insofar as troggs go, Brrrp’Pth’s cooking was something that still haunted Nouri’s nightmares. It still amazed Nouri that there were that many recipes for Giant Cave Slug. The new “civilized” Nouri however had grown accustomed to personal hygene, almost to the point of being obsessive.

For now however, Nouri had little choice. Stormwind had become far too volatile for him to tarry there for any length of time, and Darnassus, though lovely, was too remote to justify the travel time for anything other than extended study at the Temple of the Moon. For day to day business and recuperation from his activities in the field, Ironforge provided the best solution. He would simply have to look into some eyedrops to treat the stinging sensation.

The one thing Ironforge, or Darnassus for that matter, could not satisfy was Nouri’s need for guidance and teachings in the Way of the Holy Light. Not in the manner Nouri desired at least. The dwarves had their own spiritual path, and like the elves and the path of Elune it shared much similar doctrine with the “Way”, but it was their path, not his. The dwarven priests were polite enough, but he simply did not grasp some of the intricate details of their faith.

It was with this worry foremost on his mind when Nouri felt the touch of the Holy Light working its miracles. This miracle came in the form of a letter. Nouri had to read the two page missive he discovered that morning in his mail slot over a few times to fully absorb the significance. This might be the solution to all his concerns! Of course, he would need to investigate its validity first. Far too often in the past weeks since the Proclamation was issued from the Cathedral of Light had he been waylaid by individuals seeking to satisfy the will of the Church. This might simply be another ploy to bait him into the open, for easy apprehension.

He would need to find out more. Information about the author, her history and possible motives. Anything he possibly could about a priestess known as“ Lelenia Baenre”

And Nouri knew just where to start…

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Teelia had been very quiet through all of this. She had spoken at length with Nouri...Her Wesley...And was watching things with a careful eye.

Like her friend Lovely, Teelia wanted to do what was right, but unlike the wayward paladin she was patient....careful....silent in her ways. Teelia was working on things unknown to anyone but Nouri, and even Nouri himself was unaware of some of the things the young socialite rogue was doing.

Archbishop Benedictus was a powerful man, arguably the most powerful man in Stormwind. Yet even he wasn't perfect...Much as he would have his followers beleive. Teelia had kept a close eye on him for the past few weeks, waiting for him to make a mistake which could be made public. She knew it was just a matter of time before his secrets were hers.

Nouri...Her Wesley....Was soon to be vindicated.

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((Don't mean to go back to past events, but I meant to post this last night and it seems that lots have decided to post in the mean time.))

The Woman looks away off in the distance. “There was a Horde that came through here earlier.” Setting down his tongs, he hurries outside. “Horde, by all means let us make haste.” She turns to him with suspicious eyes “How do you know my name?” Clearing his throat, he proclaims, “You have been in the news as of recent, and… Well your face is all over Stormwind.” Leading him out of town and up a hill she is much quicker than the priest, and leave him trailing behind. She shouts back to him. “What is your name Priest?” Panting as he climbs the hill “Huff huff Kyergen Hands of Light, huff huff M’lady. Reaching the top of the hill he finds the clearing empty. No Horde, no Kurohane… “Did you down a member of the Horde up here M’Lady? Hello? Why did you bring me out her… ARGGGGHHH!!!”

Pain… searing pain…

Kyergen is knocked backwards off his feet, and lands on the ground. Looking to see what burned so badly, he sees an arrow firmly planted in his chest. Reaching for it, he feels that it has penetrated his sternum, and his heart had stopped beating. Looking at the arrow, he notices, fine elven carving on the shaft just above the fletching. Then he looks past it to see a pair of glowing Elven Eyes, glaring with contempt at him. The pain had started to subside as his life force slips away. He sees the Light start to grow around him, as he is hit with even more pain, and the arrow is ripped out of his bleeding chest! He sees Kurohane kneeling over him running her hand over his guild tabard. Placing a bandage over his open chest, she pours a healing potion directly over it. As Kyergen tries to speak, he coughs up blood from the wound closing. “Why? What did I do?” he tries to at least sit, but the pain is too great, his heart is just barely starting to beat again. “Understand this Priest. Nouri is to not be touch. You got that?!” She looks back at his tabard. “If not for the tabard you wear, I would finish you off.” Sitting at her feet, he coughs again, more blood spits out on his tabard. “Nouri? The Heretic? I was following orders… You of all people should know how misguided that can be… I did not wish to harm him.” Climbing back to his knees, he starts to stand. Kurohane is in silence for quite some time, then turns to him. “Let me escort you back to town before a Horde Member actually does come and finish you off.” He tries to walk but stumbles with every step, this is twice on one week that he almost was aloud to find The Light, and he is not stable. Reaching town, he does his best to bow to Kurohane. “Thank you for not finishing me. When you see Nouri next, can you tell I am sorry.” She nods and says I will, take care of yourself Priest.”

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Rubbing her eyes, she walked away from the Gryphon Master in Stormwind. Small trails of fine sand fall behind her, the smell of heat and insects carried on the small grains. She was tired...gods, was she tired. So long she'd been fighting on every front, to keep the guild together, to push into Zul'Gurrub, to maintain her front in Silithus...the work was never done.

Stretching her legs, she walks toward the auction house to check on a few things, when a note nailed to the lone tree in the middle of the square caught her eye. Pausing, she reads the fine script, her lip slowly curling into a sneer, tugging the note off its iron spike.

"First Kurohane, then this load of taruen dung? What in the name of the goddess does this bumbling buffon hope to accomplish by striking down the Alliance's best warriors!"

Panting heavily in anger, she looks around at the multiple stares her outburst brings, her red-glowing glare sending the folk of Stormwind scurrying away. Stuffing the note into her pocket, she walks to the mailbox, penning a letter on the way, muttering about bullock, dragon breath, and more tauren dung. Angrily shoving the letter into the small box, she stalks away, tendrils of her shadow pushing outside their normal bounds.

"If they don't teach him, someone will."

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Nouri felt good, in spite of the hot sands of the Tanaris beach which were scorching through the soles of his boots. His good mood wasn't merely due to the fact he had dealt a significant blow to the pirates that haunted the eastern coastline. Although the commission he received for that from the goblins of Steamweedle Port added significantly to that.

Not that Nouri needed much money, but adventuring and campaigning on behalf of the League of Arathor put quite a dent in his changepurse in repair bills and equipment upgrades.

No, Nouri's good mood was due to the fact that he had confidence in his chosen representative to meet with Lelenia Baenre, the Paladin Lovely.

It was an obvious choice really. The Paladin had connections, and a tumultuous history. Nouri had learned much of the woman from talks with common aquaintances and fireside stories which abounded in Stormwind. She had gone to the edge of sanity and returned renewed and revered in the eyes of the Light. For surely it was the Holy Light that had smiled upon the woman, preserved her in her darkness and uplifted her in her moments of dispair. None could endure such trials and not emerge wiser and stronger in the Light. Nouri felt blessed to count such as her among friends.

Light willing, she would see through any duplicity on the part of Lelenia, and would be able to advise on a course of action. Nouri had spent the night in prayer, for once hoping a vision would come to him. An insight to the possible outcomes. But none was forthcoming.

Whistling a tune as he rode towards Tanaris to catch a flight back to Theramore, Nouri felt as if a large weight was lifted from his shoulders.

Yes, the days ahead looked bright indeed....

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The afternoon streets were crowded, which is just the way Klouse liked it. Not only did it afford superb cover for him to get lost in, but also it provided plenty of opportunities for him to practice his art of pick pocketing.

As he neared the street corner he had become intimately familiar with over the past few weeks, he saw an elderly looking man in tattered rags lounging on the steps of a nearby building. Without pausing he approached the man and said, “ How the weather down their old timer?”

The old man blinked up at Klouse and responded with, “ Cold. The air is damp and cold on me bones. “

Translation: “ All is well, but the woman still hasn’t made an appearance yet,”

Klouse nodded. “ Well you best go get some shelter and warm soup then.” He tossed the man a silver piece.

Translation: ” You stand relieved. See you tomorrow Mack.”

The old man hobbled off and Klouse took up his position on the steps, slouching down and dozing like an inn patron who has had too much to drink. He noted with amusement that the “old man” moved through the crowds with grace and fluidity far beyond his apparent age, even lifted a few purses on his way.

Across from his position he had an excellent view of the front door to the establishment that his “mark” had a room rented in. A room she was known to lend out at times to certain parties of interest.

For over a week now Klouse and his comrades were exchanging shifts keeping the place under surveillance. There had been no sign of the woman in all that time, let alone any sign of guests using her facilities.

Hours passed as they had each day since the order to stake out the residence was issued, without incident. So it created a moment of bewilderment and slight anxiety on the part of Klouse when suddenly and unexpectedly that changed. There in the square before him appeared the “mark”, the Paladin known as Lovely. She stood there as if waiting on someone or something. After a bit of study Klouse was able to identify the object of Lovely’s attention, an elven priestess dressed in white. She was in conversation with several other folk, but it was obvious that the Paladin desired to speak with her.

Klouse maneuvered himself closer to try to catch the conversation. In time the group dispersed and Lovely approached the woman to introduce herself. They exchanged greetings, then a name passed that immediately caught Klouse’s attention, “Nouri”.

“ We need to speak privately, “ Lovely said. “ Is the Park suitable?” The elven priestess nodded. Then to Klouse’s horror the two went to retrieve their mounts and made off in a dash through the alleyways and into the canal district.

“Shit!” muttered Klouse to himself. Risking a break in character, he ran off as fast as his feet could carry through little known alleyways towards the Park. He had to get there before them, but knew that would be unlikely. Hopefully they hadn’t noticed him earlier and wouldn’t think it odd the same man would be in the park.

Slowing to catch his breath, Klouse surveyed the Park area for the duo. Nothing. He began a systematic walk around the perimeter, listening to each open doorway and popping his head into the inns. Eventually he found the two seated in deep conversation inside one of the less popular bars in the city. They were the only occupants. Klouse edged as close to the doorway as he could to try to catch the conversation.

He could only grasp snibbets here and there, but there was no doubt. They discussed the fugitive priest, Nouri.

meeting.jpg

“ Yes, a meeting is a good idea, “ said the elf priestess. “ I have much I can teach the man, since the Cathedral and any of its churches in the land are closed to him.”

“ Agreed. Then I shall inform him of my support in this. I am glad we could finally meet Lelenia. “ said Lovely.

The rest of the conversation was lost to Klouse, but it was obvious they were preparing to depart. If they had mentioned a time or place of a meeting Klouse had missed it. He was just about to leave when one of the made mention of some man having a large hammer. The comment made Klouse cough involuntarily. Realizing his mistake he quickly backed away from the door, jumped down onto the grass and reached into his tunic. Pulling out the wineskin of rum he held there for such just such an occasion he took a swig, swished it around his mouth and poured a liberal amount over his clothes. He then lay down in the grass as one collapsed from drunkenness.

Just in time, for the Paladin emerged from the bar, saw Klouse lying there and immediately went to him to kick him sharply in the ribs. “ You there! Get up! What are you doing here?”

Klouse bit down on the pain and moaned. Slowly rising to a wobbly stand, he burped on the paladin and slurred his words. “ Huh? Wassat? Isshh thisssh Ironforgesssh? I’m shopposhed to be in (hic) Ironforgeshhh.”

The paladin regarded the man for a moment, then chuckled. “ No, this is Stormwind. You should rest before you head off my friend,” with that she cast a spell that made Klouse feel all tingly inside.

Thanking the woman, Klouse made an exaggerated stagger out of the Park and away from the women. Once clear he broke into a run towards Old Town and the Headquarters of SI:7.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Matthias Shaw was deep in consultation with some robed and hooded woman when Klouse was admitted to his presence. The guard that had escorted Klouse whispered in Shaw’s ear. Shaw glanced at Klouse and said to the woman “ we will talk more later. Keep me informed of the progress. “ With a nod the robed woman departed..

“So, Klouse is it? Report. “ Simple and to the point. Klouse gave Shaw a detailed recount of the events of his watch, leaving out nothing, regardless of its insignificance. Klouse had learned that what might seem insignificant to one might be the missing piece to a puzzle others hold the pieces to.

matthias.jpg

When he had finished Shaw nodded to the escort, who took Klouse out into the lobby. There he received 40 silver for his services. He knew without being told that nothing of these events were to be discussed with anyone, ever. Klouse knew what happened to those that did..

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Matthias Shaw summoned his aide into the chambers and issued his instructions. The man, Klouse, would have to be reassigned. His face was known. But now Matthias had a new assignment, the priestess Lelenia would need to be watched. Indeed, Shaw would call in the favors owed him by the Venture Company, to gain access to her correspondence. She was the key to ferreting out the fugitive. Like a moth to a flame he would be drawn out. Then they would pounce.

He would make a fitting gift to the Archbishop, which would earn Shaw a favor. Being owed a favor by arguably the most powerful, influential man in Stormwind wasn’t anything to sneer at.

It was a Good Thing..

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((...you little bugger! I was wondering why I saw a person sitting there trying to /drunk when I rode off!

...this promises to be interesting indeed.))

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“ Look, I understand the arrangement. But damn it lady! We have to be careful. Any delay in delivery or evidence of tampering is going to point to the whole mail system being compromised! It isn’t some shady old lady they will be looking for neither. It’ll be me, Donx Blastwhistle, mail carrier they will skin alive!”

The elderly woman with her hair tied up in a severe bun paused in her sorting through of the letters, packages to glare at the goblin.

“ Donx, you worry too much. Trust me, I’ve been doing this for a long time. There has never been any proven compromise of the mail system, as you well know. Your Venture Company masters have never felt the need to investigate, nor will they. We are far too careful in covering our tracks.”

The woman resumed her systematic scan of the mail, being careful to return each item back into the large mail courier sack the goblin held open for her. About ¾ of the way through the large pile she hit upon an item of interest. A sealed letter, addressed to Lelenia Baenre. Putting it aside, she finished her rummaging to ensure there was nothing else she might miss. No, that was it.

Bringing her attention to the letter, she pulled out a soft black leather satchel from under her shawl. “Donx, you might want to turn around for this.” She advised the goblin. The goblin issued some expletive she barely heard, but turned to face the doorway of the dark little shack they were “borrowing”.

The elderly lady opened the satchel and pulled out a tiny dagger with a microscopically thin blade, similar to a surgeon’s scalpel and just as sharp. Carefully she sheared the sealing wax from off the parchment with expert skill. In the end the envelope was open without a single chip on the surface of the wax seal. Opening the letter, she quickly read its contents. The only outward sign that she had hit the jackpot was a slight raising of her left eyebrow.

Reaching back into the satchel she pulled out a little unmarked bottle. Uncorking the bottle she delicately poured a tiny dollop of the viscous liquid it held directly onto the envelope where the sealing wax once touched. Using a wooden sliver she spread it out to form a thin film, then pressed the wax seal back in place and held if for a moment. A quick test confirmed the seal was restored and appeared untampered to any but the most trained eye.

Placing the envelope back into the pile she turned to the goblin, “Donx. You are free to complete your delivery. Meet me here on your return run. We will be doing this for a little while I imagine.”

The goblin grumbled, but quickly took up his satchel and hurried out of the shack, glancing at the angle of the sun to see how far behind schedule he was.

The elderly woman picked up her tool satchel, returned it to her shawl’s inner pocket, right next to the poisoned dagger she carried.

“So, he will be coming out of hiding. Good. “ thought the woman. She had briefly considered forging a reply to engineer the meeting, but decided at the last moment to wait and see what this Lelenia would reply with. It was simply cleaner and more secure that way. No unnecessary risk. But it was a card she knew could be held in reserve if needed.

She departed the shack to emerge onto the little alley in old town. Few paid the old woman any heed, hobbling as she did with her gnarled oaken cane on her way towards SI:7.

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"I know this will sound like a pick-up line, but I promise it's not," Laron said in Darnassian, almost sheepishly - or, at least, it would have been sheepish if he hadn't been so clearly nervous. "But accompany me to one of the rooms, please?"

Kurohane frowned, eying the boy, making no effort to hide that she was sizing him up. Not that she needed to. He was nowhere near completing his training. "Fine," she finally returned, speaking Darnassian as well. "But don't make me castrate you, dear."

He forced a smile and nodded before leading the way downstairs.

She still owed him a debt. That was the real reason she was here. Too often of late she'd found herself drawn out by supposed friends, only to see it spring a trap that she'd narrowly escape. When she'd found the letter from Laron in her pocket, all but begging her to meet with him in Thelsamar... Well, there was no turning back now. She was already here, after all.

Finally, the two elves settled themselves on the floor of one of the rooms, facing each other. Considering his previous advances, she made sure to sit away from the beds.

"I have been hearing whispers at my work about our friend Nouri..." He began after several checks of the doorway. She suppressed a sigh and her thoughts that he was acting a fool at those words, though. Her eyes instantly turned to ice.

"Oh?" she answered dryly, her fingers subtly moving to slide along the length of her bow. She owed him a large debt, but she'd forsake that if he meant any harm to Nouri. The fool rogue was practically stuttering over himself as it was. In fact, he wasn't paying any attention to her at all - instead, staring at the door again.

She sighed faintly. Could he not see Balah there, guarding them? Sure, Balah was in the shadows, but he was practically sitting atop the cat! "Not many who could sneak by Balah," she finally offered. "Stop tearing your hair out."

"Well in my line of work to speak of the goings on at "My Work" means death..." he muttered, finally pulling his gaze back from the doorway.

"Trust me, I understand that," she answered, waving it off. "You forget the company I keep."

Laron took a deep breath and settled back a bit, even if his gaze did keep darting towards the door. "Because Nouri is a close friend of mine I decided to let you know. It is very quiet, but I have heard his name being passed around the hall."

She quirked an eyebrow at him, waiting from more of the details.

"This is bad." He stated flatly.

"Again, I realize that..." she answered dryly, managing to keep herself from shaking her head. Laron certainly was not Conidivh. "What else have you managed to over hear?"

"It seems to be a subject the Mathias himself is looking into." He sighed. "I am very concerned about his safety, but I cannot get involved with this... What I can tell you is even things like the Mail is not safe. We have ways of finding out things others do not want to know."

"I know far more than you realize about the workings of SI:7. One of their top operatives in my emp--" She coughed quite suddenly, covering a small laugh as a thought crossed her mind. "Erm... employ until his assassination. I'll be sure that Nouri is aware of matters, discreetly of course."

"You have talked with Barke, and understand what I am risking by even talking about such things, but this is Nouri."

She tried not to roll her eyes. She hated it when people assumed things like that. "Again, you don't even begin to know the depths of what I was, and still am, involved in, dear." An all too sweet smile spread over her lips.

Laron smiled and nodded at her before drawing himself back to his feet. She stood as well, glancing to where she was sure he was. "I'd suggest you not be seen leaving here, Laron. Xelthan? Check the area please."

"Of course," her husband answered quietly. She smirked faintly as Laron glanced around. Did he pale just then?

"I will not speak anymore of this but make sure Nouri knows," he said quickly.

"I will," her tone was flat and unamused again. "If you find anything else that may be useful, there are always other means of communication."

"Clear, love," Xelthan stated again, moving by her in a practice fashion that gave her a glimpse of him.

"Ah, thank you, my heart," she smiled at him as he gave her a small nod in reply. She turned back to Laron. Yes, she was sure he was at least a touch paler. "Be safe, Laron. Perhaps we may one day speak of the codes."

With a wink and wave, she turned and departed while he bowed to her back. It seemed that her old ways were going to come full circle. Shirohane would like the outing, if nothing else.

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