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'Til Death Part Us

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“The notorious terrorist death knight known as Brinnea Velmon has been captured…”

“…to be briefly interrogated, and publicly executed…”

Parigan read and re-read the words again and again. Brinnea was in Horde custody. Within the next couple weeks, she would be put to death. It would be even worse for her if someone with a grudge got to her beforehand. Parigan crumpled the paper with his working hand and tossed it aside angrily. He stormed off, his metal boot and prosthetic foot scraping loudly along the slimy wet cobbles of the Undercity. He exited the city through the pipeline leading up to the mouth of a cave, and strode across the glade to the ring of tents surrounding a ruined tower. He made his way to a small brown tent containing his own supplies. Hastily, he packed them all into a thick bundle and threw it over his back. His actions caught the attention of a nearby officer.

“Blackmane!” the undead called out, “Where do you think you’re going?” Parigan started to walk away without a word. The mercenary pursued. “Hey! You still have two months before your contract is up. You leave now and I’ll see to it no mercenary band ever hires you again!” Parigan stopped a few yards past the edge of camp and shouted loudly into the night. In the distant hills, an onyx nether drake flew towards Parigan’s shout. The mercenary scoffed and stomped back into camp, muttering curses. The drake landed before Parigan and awaited him patiently. Parigan leapt onto the dragon’s back and in a flash, they were in the air. They flew west, across the glade and the mountains, then out into open sea.

Parigan spoke to his faithful drake, “We’re going all the way across to Kalimdor. I am needed in Thunder Bluff.”

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((WARNING: This post contains depictions of torture and gore.))

Brinnea sat huddled in the corner of a small, dank cell of stone and tightly packed dirt. The only way in or out was a thick metal door with a sliding panel for looking through. Her captors had dressed her wounds and set her leg in a brace of wood and cloth before shoving her into the cell and setting enchantments around the perimeter. All night, she sat in the cell with her thoughts and the writhing maggots to keep her company. The orc who took her down before, Orgog, she was certain Cynthia had spoken through him. Yet she also knew the warlock was not a fighter of the caliber Orgog displayed in Duskwood. Somehow, he was under her control, but retained his own skill in battle. The tauren, on the other hand, she had no idea if Cynthia had gotten to him, too. She could believe him coming after her after what she had done in Mulgore. All his troops, his friends, no doubt. Who knows, maybe he had been friends with the village elder she had…

A door opened somewhere outside the cell. Muffled footfalls drew closer to the cell door. Brinnea dragged herself to her feet, careful not to damage the brace. The panel slid open and a pair of large golden eyes glared in at her. A jagged scar ran down the side of the tauren’s face. The Sunwalker. With a click and a long creak, the door slid open. Three tauren squeezed into the tiny cell and grabbed Brin around the arms. They half-carried, half-dragged her through a subterranean passage to another dimly lit stone room with a metal table, fitted with restraints, resting in the center of it. Brinnea did not resist as they set her on the table and restrained her. The guards stood by the door as the Sunwalker and an undead looked her up and down. The undead seemed amused by her, but discomfort and impatience was written in the wrinkles of the tauren’s face. It was clear he wanted this business done quickly.

The undead man moved to the side of the table, grabbing a small table from the corner of the room and setting it beside where Brin was laying. He rolled out a bundle of medical instruments, and a second that seemed more geared towards torture. Brinnea showed no signs of fear as the undead admired his tools. The Sunwalker laid a hand on her shoulder and spoke to her softly, “I have no desire to see you suffer, Brinnea Velmon. However, there are questions that need to be answered about what happened the night you entered Kaur’he village.” Kaur’he, Brin thought to herself. So that’s what it was called. The tauren gave her shoulder a rough squeeze. “Don’t make it any harder than it has to be.” He released her and backed up. The undead leaned against the table casually. He gave Brin a dopey grin of rotting teeth when she looked up at him.

“You look extraordinarily calm for a lady on an operating table, red,” he said, gesturing to her auburn hair. “Let me fix that. You see, before I died at the hands of one of your scum-soaked worthless shit-pile death knight brothers, I was a Scarlet cleric with a minor in undead torture.” Brin stared at him, her calm demeanor shattered by his smug words. A Scarlet cleric could harm her in ways that would twist her mind and body to the point of insanity and permanent crippling. An undead does not often feel true fear, but in the face of this realization, she felt fear bathe her like a bucket of ice-cold water. The undead patted her on the arm and moved back to his tools as the Sunwalker spoke again.

“Let us begin. The day before you commenced your attack, where were you, and why?” Brinnea steadied her thoughts and began, “I was investigating the surrounding area. Looking for signs of Lady Skylah Mackenzie’s kidnappers.” The undead’s hand flared up with the power of the Light. In his other hand, a hot poker soaked in the Light, and glowed, casting an ominous shadow on the torturer’s face. The tauren spoke again, “Be more specific. Who were you with? Where were you looking?”

“I was…I was alone.” The tauren frowned deeply. “Do not lie, Brinnea Velmon.” The poker dug into Brin’s arm. For a brief moment, she felt no pain. She felt nothing at all. The shock wore off after a moment. The pain was sharp, like a concentrated sunburn stabbing into her flesh. The raw energy of it forced a scream between her lips. Her body convulsed as wave after wave of Light pulsed across her body. Her vision was dotted with black spots, and her ears rang. The tauren shouted something inaudible to the undead, and the poker was released from her arm. Slowly, the pain subsided, until it was just a throb in the right half of her body. After a moment, she realized she had been gasping for air, and forced herself to calm down and focus. She tried to avoid looking at her arm, but couldn’t resist the temptation. Whatever flesh remained around the wound was charred black and peeling away. Bone and sinew were visible underneath. She tore her eyes away.

“This room is sealed with a zone of truth. If you or anyone else lies, I know,” the tauren continued, “Again, I ask, who were you with the day of your attack?” Brin replied, though every word pained her, “I was with the Twilight Empire and the Cup and Blade Caravan that evening. We were looking around Honor’s Stand for evidence of where the Grim took Skylah. At nightfall, I left the Stand with two of my fellow Imperials before they, too, headed back.”

The Sunwalker nodded. “And what about after nightfall?” Brinnea grunted as her head racked with pain. “I meditated on what I wanted to do for perhaps an hour, and I flew into the valley to the first village I came across and killed the guards. Then I…”

The tauren put up a hand. “I know the rest. But tell me, did you attack on your own volition, or were you given orders?” Brinnea shook her head, “I was alone. No one gave me orders.”

“No one asked you to or gave you a suggestion?”

“No one. It was my decision and mine alone.”

He looked her in the eyes for a moment. Then he nodded. “How many civilians did you kill?”

“Only one. The elder, he… He tried to take me down to free everyone. I had to kill him or he would have crushed me. I didn’t want to hurt any of them…”

The undead snorted. The tauren shot him a look and said, “We’re done with questions, then. I believe you are a misguided person, Brinnea Velmon, but not a malicious or evil one. Perhaps with better luck, we could have been friends. But, you are a danger to the world now. I have to put you down, and my people need to know they have no cause to fear you anymore. I do not hate you, death knight.” He put his hand on her head, looked her in the eyes and said, “But I am not sorry for what I must do, either.” He walked off and told the guards to take her back to the cell.

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A clank signaled the hallway door open outside Brinnea’s cell. The death knight was huddled in a corner, nursing her blackened arm under what was left of the fingers on her left hand. The pain had yet to subside since the tauren had dragged her back to the cell days ago. The panel on the door slid aside and the Sunwalker’s golden eyes glared in at her. “You have a visitor,” he said plainly. His face vanished from the opening and was replaced by a familiar pair of somber brown eyes.

“Hello, Brin,” her father, Torren, said with a hushed, hoarse voice, “I’m sorry I couldn’t come any sooner. I’m surprised they let me see you at all.” Brin stood uneasily on her good leg, every muscle in her body groaning as she did. Brinnea ignored the pain, staring at her father. Her mouth hung open, but no words found their way to her tongue.

What could she say at a time like this? He spoke for her, “I’m sure I’m the last person you wanted to see…”

“No!” Brin interjected, “I…I’m the one who should be apologizing. Ever since we found each other, I’ve been selfish and juvenile. You have been nothing but patient and sincere, but I’ve been dishonest and denied you the forgiveness you deserve.”

Torren’s eyes welled up with tears. “Brin…I don’t know what to say.” He took a deep breath. “I’ve been a terrible father. I should be the one in a cage.” Brin limped to the door. Unable to even lift her right arm, she placed her wounded hand against the panel.

“I never stopped loving you, father,” she said softly, “It hurt more than anything to leave you behind. I couldn’t bring myself to forgive you before because…I didn’t want to hurt you. What I am, what I’ve become…I am a killer.”

Torren gave her a look full of conflicted emotions. Pain, sadness, regret, and hidden deep in his earthy brown eyes lurked pride. He placed his hand against the panel as well.

“You are my daughter, my only remaining family. You are not a killer. Whatever happened, whatever will happen; I will always believe in you.” With a heavy sigh, he placed his head against the door and closed his eyes. Then, under his breath, he whispered, “Help will come for you.” Brin hid her surprise and shock. He continued, “You are not alone.”

With that, he stepped back from the cell and looked at her from outside the cell, tears streaming down his wrinkled, worry-rent face. In a normal voice he said, “Oh, and Colin made it home safe. He misses you.” The tauren approached Torren, telling him it was time to go. He nodded to them sadly, but on his way out, he turned back to Brin and said, “Happy birthday, Brin. I am so proud of you.” Then, he rounded a corner and was gone. The nearby guard stepped forward and slid the panel closed.

A green glow from the corner of her cell caught Brinnea’s eye. When she turned around to look at it, she swore she saw an eye, but it was gone before she got a good look at it. She was left in the dark and silence of the cell once again, but this time a flicker of hope sparked in her chest. Help would come, but who was left that would help her? The list of people who would stick their necks out for her at a time like this were very few. Still, the hope that she was not alone was the best birthday present her father could have given her.

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((Log recorded by Syreena))

Quaran stands at the entrance to the prison, unmoving. His eyes regard the approaching undead and tauren carefully.

Syreena eyes the Tauren guard as she approaches, nodding politely to him.

Megeda is dusty from his climb up the mountain. His fur is unkempt and his eyes are bloodshot. The presence of the Sunwalker is enough to confirm his suspicions

Quaran says: Welcome, travelers. State your business, if you would.

Syreena says: We've heard there's a prisoner here. A death knight who slaughtered a village near here.

Megeda says: I...

Syreena says: We'd like to speak to her.

Megeda's voice cracks, he takes a few moments to compose himself

Quaran cocks his head to the side at Syreena. "You are of the Grim, yes?"

Syreena nods. "That's correct."

Quaran says: Then perhaps you will understand if I am a bit cautious of your intentions. The prisoner is here for reasons sparked by her grudge with your people.

Syreena glances back at Megeda.

Megeda's attention switches to Syreena at the statement.

Megeda says: What would have sparked this?

Syreena presses her lips together, then looks back at the guard.

Syreena says: We would appreciate a chance to ask her a few questions. It might help us deal with the tragedy she caused.

Syreena says: That is our only intention.

Megeda keeps his mouth shut, he's biting his tongue almost hard enough to draw blood at this point

Quaran watches Syreena with his pale golden eyes for a moment, pondering the rogue's statement. At last he says, "You may enter. Know, however, that she has been questioned already. And that I want no further bloodshed in these lands because of her."

Syreena bows her head slightly. "Understood."

Quaran nods. "Follow me."

Megeda takes his rifle off of his back and leans it against the cave wall

Quaran halts before a heavy iron door. He fumbles with some keys for a moment, and the lock clicks open.

Quaran closes the door behind the visitors.

Syreena eyes the closed door behind them, then moves forward.

Quaran halts before another closed door, this one smaller, but perhaps slightly thicker than the last. He slide open a small panel on the door at eye-level for a tauren and speaks, "More visitors, Brinnea Velmon."

Megeda says: ...Brinnea...

Brinnea sits in the back corner of her earthy cell, which has no windows or exits save the heavy door before the undead and tauren.

Brinnea She wears tattered undergarments and bandages are strewn across her body. A leg brace holds her left leg together.

Megeda peers through the opening at the human. "...This is it?"

Brinnea Brin leans heavily against the wall behind her to steady herself as she stands on her good leg.

Syreena peers up at the opening in the door that is too high for her to see through, then shrugs at Megeda. "I guess so."

Syreena: "What's it look like?"

Brinnea The Death Knight stares at her visitors' peering eyes with a blank expression. She says, "Why have you come?"

Megeda " I seek closure."

Megeda "You are the woman responsible for the massacre?"

Brinnea speaks softly, "I suppose I am."

Syreena looks around until she finds an empty crate.

Syreena turns the crate upside down in front of the door and steps up on it to peek through the window. "Why?"

Brinnea looks at the new pair of eyes. "Why did I do what I did? You should know by now desperation leads to such things."

Megeda "Desperation?"

Syreena clenches her fists around the hilts of her daggers and opens her mouth, but then closes it again to let Megeda say his piece.

Brinnea looks back at the tauren. "Oh, didn't you hear? The Grim kidnapped a member of the Twilight Empire, then tortured her for information. Things like that tend to make people very desperate." A hint of bitterness makes its way into her tone.

Megeda "And because of something that these Grim did... You decided that the Tauren deserved to suffer even more than they have?"

Syreena says, "You idiot. Do you know anything about the Tauren people? They are a peaceful people....until you piss them off, at least. Nobody in that village would have condoned what we did to her. Why them?"

Brinnea Brin replied, "My intention was to lure a member of the Grim to the village so I could force them to tell me where Skylah was. I picked that village because it would most certainly grab your attention."

Syreena holds her tongue again, looking up at Megeda.

Megeda "That's it? You slew how many people, armed or not, and they were -bait-?!" His voice rises slightly as he clenches his hands into fists

Brinnea looks at the tauren, keeping her expression void of emotion, however a flicker of regret flashes behind her icy gaze. "I only slew the guards. None of the villagers were harmed, except those who tried to escape."

Syreena says, "You didn't just slay them, from what I heard."

Megeda " And those that you slew. Their corpses were defiled, raised to imprison the living."

Megeda "Do you have any idea at all what you've done?"

Brinnea's jaw clenched at that remark. "Of course I know! I know what I am, what I've done!"

Syreena stares at the woman. "Do you also know we retaliated? Did you hear what happened at Eastvale, because of your actions?"

Brinnea scoffs. "As if the Grim needs an excuse to murder innocents."

Megeda "An excuse? You're just as bad as they are!"

Syreena shrugs. "True. But we were busy with other things. Eastvale would still be fine today if not for you."

Syreena looks at Megeda again, then steps down off the crate and remains quiet to let him do the rest of the talking.

Brinnea Brin says, "The simple fact of the matter is I was protecting those I care about. Nothing else matters to me."

Megeda "We agree then."

Megeda " It doesn't matter who we hurt, damn, or torture so long as a handful of people we favor live happily."

Brinnea remains silent for a moment. Then she speaks to the tauren, "What is your name?"

Megeda "Megeda Dustrunner. Son of Illoi Dustrunner."

Syreena moves back, dragging the crate out of the way, and leans against the wall, her hands still on her daggers as she listens quietly.

Brinnea "Megeda Dustrunner. If you have anyone left in this world you still care about, then you should treasure them. They won't be around forever."

Megeda "Yes. You made sure of that."

Brinnea "We all become what we hate, Megeda. Undead took my life from me, and look at me now. The closer you come to the abyss, the more it will consume you."

Megeda: “So what are you recommending? Grieve for the lost? Try to return to what we had and HOPE that it doesn't happen again? You make no sense, Scourge."

Brinnea replies, "Revenge only breeds more revenge. If closure is what you want, you need only wait until someone else with a grudge snips my head off. It won't be much longer now."

Megeda "Even then it will not help. How many people know of what you've done in the Alliance? How long before one of them comes along and imitates it? How many more of us will DIE... Because one of you was hurt?"

Megeda "One of you all but slaughtered an entire village... Now people realize how easy it is."

Brinnea lowers her head. "People will always fight and kill one another, it is a cycle that never ends. I once believed if enough people worked together peacefully, the cycle could be broken."

Brinnea "But then I learned that people like the Grim will always be there to prey on the weak. Only the strong survive in a world at war. And I was looking to show that my people, the ones I care about, have someone strong watching out for them."

Megeda "A monster to fight monsters huh? How noble of you."

Brinnea shakes her head. "My right to be innocent was taken from me. I don't have the luxury of being peaceful anymore. So why not use the strength I have for something I care about?"

Brinnea "If the Empire truly can succeed in their vision for peace, then they have to keep surviving. But I'm not a necessity in that future. I'm only a hindrance."

Megeda "Tell me... What will you do if you make it out of here?"

Megeda "Continue your rampage? Slaughter the defenders and non-combatants to protect those you care for?"

Syreena mutters quietly, "Be hunted."

Brinnea Brin's eyebrow raises. "If escape were a possibility? I would do whatever it takes to protect who I care about. Whatever it takes."

Megeda stares at the woman and shakes his head " ... And you think that provoking the peaceful protects anyone?"

Brinnea "I am not the Empire. If I am the one hunted, they will suffer less for the actions necessary to protect them."

Syreena grins faintly as she listens. "Oh, they'll be hunted too, don't you worry."

Brinnea Brin addresses the hidden undead, "Didn't we stamp you in the dirt a week or two ago?"

Megeda grinds his teeth in frustration at the death knight's attitude. What had he expected? a giggling lunatic? A hateful xenophobe? Anything but this. He glares down at Syreena's response

Syreena opens her mouth with a retort to the human, but closes it again at the Tauren's look.

Megeda "... My father was a farmer. When he heard the calls of distress he picked up a bow to drive the invaders away... I laid him to his final rest when the last of your unholy taint had been cleansed from his body."

Megeda "I've no one to protect, Brinnea. You took them from me... He was of no threat to anyone you cared for but you still try to justify your actions?"

Brinnea Brin replies, "Your father was very brave. But the price of bravery can be costly to the unprepared."

Megeda bellows in impotent rage and slams a fist against the heavy metal door before storming off.

Syreena watches him leave, then nudges the crate back into place with her foot. She climbs up on it and peers at the human through the window.

Brinnea Brin glares at Syreena's eyes. "I recognize your voice, Forsaken. You were among those that tortured Skylah."

Syreena shrugs and smiles sweetly. "Her blood was sweet."

Brinnea Brin slips a hand behind her back.

Syreena tilts her head, watching her carefully as she pulls a Mecha-Blast Rocket from a hidden pocket in her armor and aims it at Brinnea through the window.

Brinnea: As Syreena draws her rocket, Brin's hand whips from behind her back faster than the eye can see. A dagger of frost flies at the opening in the door, aimed for Syreena's eye. Then the rocket detonates, and the room is engulfed in flames and smoke.

Brinnea Before the dagger can hit its mark, Quaran places a ward around Syreena. The ice cracks and falls apart.

Brinnea lies down.

Syreena jumps back off the crate, then glances gratefully, and a bit sheepishly, at the guard.

Brinnea: The Sunwalker then releases the ward, and roughly grabs Syreena by the arms and shouts, "You fool! She is to be executed publicly!"

Megeda looks back at the cave as he hears the explosion echo out. He comes running back towards the cell

Brinnea From outside the hallway, more guards flood in and quickly enter the cell to check on the prisoner. Smoke floods out of the room as the open it.

Syreena tenses in the guards grip, but knows better than to struggle. Instead, she asks curiously, "When?"

Brinnea Quaran snorts angrily. "Three days' time, in Thunder Bluff. That's -if- she's even still alive in there..."

Megeda "What happened? Why is the cell open?"

Syreena nods, then twists gently in his grip, the motion more of a request than a struggle. "I'm sure she's alive. Watch she doesn't slip out in the smoke."

Brinnea: The guards in the cell crouch down over Brin's limp body. They find that the left half of her body is covered in harsh burns. Her right half is lightly burned in places, but otherwise unharmed.

Brinnea Quaran shoves the rogue harshly against the stone wall, then bunches into the cell with his fellow guards, shouting to those outside the hallway not to let Syreena leave just yet.

Megeda stares you down.

Megeda says: Did you try to blow her up?

You look at Megeda.

You nod at Megeda.

Quaran looks over Brinnea passively. He speaks to the two guards in the cell, "Have the Scarlet patch her up again. These burns won't kill her if she gets immediate treatment." The guards nod and lift the woman from the floor.

Megeda says: Did you miss?

Syreena eyes the guards watching her, her fingers wrapping around the hilts of her daggers.

Syreena says: I'm not sure.

Megeda leans to the side slightly, trying to get a look at the unconscious death knight

Quaran looks at Syreena. "Up against the wall. She's being moved."

Syreena backs up until her back is against the wall.

Megeda says: You're taking her out of her cell?

Quaran keeps a close eye on Syreena as the other guards shuffle past with the death knight in their arms.

Quaran addresses Megeda, "She may be undead, but the burns could still kill her if she isn't given proper treatment."

Syreena looks at Quaran, then simply watches them move Brinnea, not moving.

Megeda moves to the side, slowly. He looks at the death knight's condition

Megeda says: The undead don't suffer the same sort of sickness from an infected wound... Do they?

Quaran says: No, but enough disruption to their runic bloodline can prevent them from functioning, to the point their brains and bodies shut down.

Megeda says: ...Too good of a death for her.

Quaran says: Undead can still feel pain. Those burns would have reduced most to bouts of screaming in agony. That woman is tough.

Quaran off-handedly rubs his scarred-up face.

Megeda says: ...She's dangerous. Are we sure she can be moved safely? For all we know there are other Alliance waiting to rescue her

Syreena looks at Quaran. "Can I go now?"

Quaran says: This place is watched day and night by ground and air troops.

Quaran looks at Syreena, then reluctantly sheathes his mallet.

Quaran says: Justice must be carried out properly, Forsaken. Your actions here only serve to make her seem more innocent.

Megeda says: Justice

Megeda snorts.

Megeda says: That's a pretty word

Syreena does not respond to that, though she finds the idea of Brinnea being innocent to be silly. "I will be back in three days to watch her die."

Syreena bows her head slightly to Quaran. "Until then, farewell."

Quaran glares. "It is the difference between us and wild beasts, kinsman. And besides, if she were killed in secret, the people would have no reason to assume they are safe from her."

You nod at Megeda.

Megeda nods at you.

Megeda says: I question the justice in one fool's life for the dozens she took... It's not a measure of blood I know but...

Megeda slams a fist against the rock. Unable to find the right words for his frustration

Quaran says: Kinsman, your frustration is understandable. It was my duty to keep my people safe from threats like her, and I failed in my mission. But her death won't bring back those who died.

Quaran says: However, it will show the Horde that fear of her, and those like her, do not need to control us.

Megeda lets out a long, drawn-out sigh.

Megeda says: I know... I know. Her death won't appease those she's slain... Neither will her torture but...

Megeda says: Seeing her suffering... I felt a grim satisfaction. She deserves worse

Megeda says: But it's not my decision

Megeda shakes his head, clearly disturbed by his own mind

Quaran says: That satisfaction will only turn to bitterness in the end. I suggest you return home and try to move on from this. The truest revenge on murders and terrorists is to show them they have no power.

Megeda says: I... You're right Sunwalker. I'm sorry

Megeda says: I will return for her execution

Megeda bows before Quaran.

Quaran nods. "I will show you the way out, friend. Some fresh air will do us both good."

Megeda says: Walk with the Earth Mother

Megeda bows down graciously.

Quaran says: May the Eternal Sun shine upon you, kinsman.

Quaran bows before Megeda.

Megeda looks around and whistles for his partner

Quaran lets out a long, drawn-out sigh.

Syreena hops down from the shadows on a rock.

Quaran looks at Syreena. "Are we going to have a problem, Forsaken?"

Syreena says: You won't have any problem with me.

Syreena says: She will though, if you let her escape.

Quaran says: I know. That is why I wanted to ask something of you.

Syreena tilts her head, curious as she listens.

Quaran says: Brinnea Velmon may have been aided by some nefarious organization when she escaped our hunters in Feralas. And there are those among the Alliance who may yet wish her to live.

Quaran says: If they come for her during the execution, my people will be caught in the crossfire.

Syreena says: Do you have a description of what I should look for during the execution?

Quaran says: I am unsure. No members of the Alliance races should be present at all, but I worry some among the Horde might have a hand in how she escaped.

Syreena says: I'll keep an eye out for anyone looking to interfere.

Quaran says: That is appreciated. I also wished for you to take this matter to the rest of the Grim, if you would. I know they have the manpower to protect the execution site.

Syreena says: Three there a time set, so I can notify them?

Quaran says: 8 in the evening, by the goblin clock.

Syreena says: Saturday at 8. *She nods* I'll let them know.

Quaran says: Many thanks, Forsaken. My people are in your debt if your presence saves even one of them.

Syreena says: My name is Syreena.

Quaran says: Syreena. I am Quaran Goldfield.

Syreena nods politely. "I will bring some Grims with me on Saturday."

Quaran says: Very good. May the winds guide your travels, Syreena of the Grim.

Quaran bows before you.

Syreena says: An'she's blessing upon you.

You bow before Quaran.

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The night sky rippled with the light of crackling lightning and rifle fire. Parigan tugged at his drake’s reins fiercely to avoid the Horde wind rider’s bullets. The storm surrounding the fliers sent icy rain like shrapnel on screaming gales of wind into Parigan’s one good eye. Growling under his breath, he tightened his grip around Brinnea’s torso and sent his drake into a downward plunge against the rising wind. The lighter wind riders quickly lost range on them as they neared the forest canopy of Ashenvale far below. A bullet struck Parigan in the lower back. Growling under his breath, Parigan pulled up suddenly and directed his steed to fly north in a serpentine motion. The drake trembled under the force of a powerful impact. As the beast let out a cry of pain, Parigan glanced back at the shaft of an oversized spear imbedded in his mount’s back. They were quickly losing altitude, but a sharp yank pulled them back away from the tops of the Ashenvale trees – the spear had a chain attached to it, and the Horde hunters were reeling the fugitives in.

Parigan cursed and checked on Brin’s condition. She was unconscious and bleeding from several wounds; he would have to treat her immediately. He stood in the saddle, draping Brinnea over his shoulder. “I’m sorry, Brack,” he said to his loyal drake as the beast cried in pain from its spear-wound, “Couldn’t have made it this far without you.” He leaped off the drake towards the nearest tree. Bullets started to fly from above, but he was moving too fast, and was too small a target for the hunter’s shots to hit their mark.

Parigan shielded Brin’s body as tree branches snapped under their weight and flew around them like shrapnel. He dug into the side of the tree with his metal prosthetic arm, trying to slow their fall. The leather straps of the arm strained from the sheer force necessary to slow their descent. Then he hit the ground, hard. The unconscious Death Knight landed on top of him. He wasted no time -- though his body screamed with pain from the impact – and took off with Brin in his arms. The foliage and the dark made them invisible to the eyes of the hunters above. Whenever lightning struck, Parigan could see their silhouettes flying about the trees near where they had jumped. Brackien had fallen out of sight.

Rain pelted Parigan’s dark armor constantly as he searched the surrounding forest for a cave or some other safe haven. At last, he found a place that wound suffice. The shattered remains of a tree draped over a small alcove. Moss and bits of wood shielded the crawlspace from view, and kept it relatively dry in the storm. Parigan ducked under the log and placed Brin in a soft patch of moss. He dug through his satchel and drew out his medical supplies, placing them on the ground beside the woman. Then he set to work removing the old, soiled bandages, as well as the rags that loosely fit her thin frame. An array of various wounds revealed themselves, not all of them recent. Scars littered her body just as much as the oldest of warriors Parigan had met. “You certainly made a mess of yourself,” he muttered to himself.

He first set to work tending to the burns on her left side, spreading an alchemical solution that soothed while it repaired damaged flesh. Since she was burned front and back, he had to carefully prop her on her right side to spread the concoction on the full area of the burns. After, he tended to the puncture in her shoulder, then the Light-brand on her right arm. A sigil was carved into her flesh, one Parigan recognized from victims of the Scarlet Crusade’s torturers. The brand would disrupt Brin’s runes until it was removed, but he did not have the ability to do that. He decided to cover it with bandages for now. After the other wounds were tended to, Parigan checked her arms and legs. He found her left knee set in a brace since it had been broken, and on her left hand, her middle, ring, and pinkie fingers had been shortened by some tremendous blow. He wrapped each stump carefully. With his work done, he drew some clothes he had appropriated for her from his satchel and clothed her gently.

By the time he had finished, the rain had come to a stop outside. The silence told him no one had found them yet. Given the circumstances, Parigan opted to keep moving. As he dragged Brin into the open, she stirred and her eyes fluttered open. Her hazy gaze fixed on Parigan’s familiar helmet mask. He paused, saying, “Hours of applying first aid, and you wake up when I try to drag you out of our hiding place, eh?” Brin stared at him, mouth agape in disbelief. She reached out with her good hand and removed his helmet, getting a good look at his face. “Pari?” she said, unsure. He nodded. Without warning, she tackled him and held on to him in a close embrace. “I can’t believe…I thought you were dead!” He placed his hand on her head and held her against his chest.

“It’s gonna take a lot more than a few orcs to get rid of me, Brin,” he said. They remained in their kneeling embrace for a long moment. Up above, the clouds were beginning to clear, and the first rays of sunlight flittered in between the tree branches.

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Quaran knew his old friend Orgog had entered the camp when he heard a fight break out near his tent. The Sunwalker exited into the cold, wet air of Ashenvale to see the cause of the commotion himself. Orgog was standing over another orc with a black eye, shouting taunts to the other Horde soldiers gathering around. “Do any of you spineless louts have anything further to say about my methods?” Orgog shouted, glancing around with a questioning look. “No? Good.” He gave the orc on the ground a sharp kick to the gut and walked over him as the unfortunate hunter hacked up blood on the muddy ground. Orgog approached Quaran and said, “Your hunters have a bit of a discipline problem.”

Quaran did his best to hide his exasperation. “Orgog,” he began, “Why did you punch that man in the face?” Orgog licked his lips and replied, “He asked me if I was insane. I thought a quick right hook to the eye would answer his question just fine.” Quaran pinched the fur between his eyes with frustration. “And why did he ask you if you were insane, exactly?”

“Oh, something about butchering some elves I found on the road when they wouldn’t tell me where our prey went,” Orgog said casually while drawing a knife to clean his nails. Quaran stared at Orgog in disbelief. Was this a joke, or had he really done something so stupid in the two hours he had been away from camp?

“Orgog, you do realize we aren’t at war with the Alliance at this moment, yes? And that we are in Ashenvale to hunt fugitives only because the elves have given us express permission to do so? That said, WHAT HE HELL WERE YOU THINKING!” Quaran bellowed, his arms spread wide.

Orgog didn’t bother looking up from his nails. “You mean before or after I cut those elves into small pieces?” Quaran sighed loudly. “Your actions jeopardized our chances at finding those two before they vanish altogether again! If the elves find out we killed their people, it could lead to far worse consequences, and I will not be held responsible for starting another war with the Alliance!”

Orgog spat on the ground by his foot. “Or we could just say the fugitives did it. Hell, turning the Alliance against them would make ferreting those two out even easier.” The Sunwalker gnashed his teeth. It wasn’t a terrible plan, but the dishonesty of it had a sour taste to it.

“Was this your plan all along, Orgog? You wanted to force me into a corner. Why?” Orgog shrugged and replied, “There have been many betrayals in our ranks lately. Maybe I just wanted to see whose side you are really on.” With that, he gave Quaran a lazy mock salute with his dagger and walked off. Quaran snorted loudly. Now he had a choice to make. Would he tell the elves of Orgog’s misdeeds, or pin the blame on those they chased? Orgog had been a fine friend, always loyal to the Horde and to his comrades. Yet now, his reckless nature was getting the better of him. It was clear he wanted this business with the undead done quickly; Quaran did as well. Yet this undue haste risked far too much.

Quaran withdrew to his tent. He had much to think about. For now he focused on the map of Ashenvale lying on a desk at the center of his quarters. The fugitives had gone down into the forest just north of Falfarren Crossing. His best trackers were sniffing along the riverbank for any sign of what direction they were heading. Quaran peered at the many settlements dotting the northern half of Ashenvale, wondering to himself where the two of them were hoping to flee to. Not likely they would risk relying on the elves’ protection, but who else would shelter them this far north? Would they plead with the Cenarion Circle? Did they plan to trade with the Everlook goblins for safe transport? None of these options seemed right to Quaran. In any case, where they went, sorrow was sure to follow.


Brinnea and Parigan had been limping their way through the woods as quietly as possible since Brin had awoken. She didn’t know where they were headed; all Pari had been willing to tell her before they took off was they needed to keep moving north. The two of them stayed away from the paved roads, and kept off well-travelled dirt paths as often as possible. They had yet to encounter anyone, but the unnerving quiet of the forest put the Death Knight on edge, wondering when someone would pick up their trail. Parigan stopped suddenly, and said softly, “Get down.” He fell to his knees and drew a dagger from his belt. Brin knelt down as best as she could with her leg in a brace and moved forward to Pari’s side. He pointed straight ahead at a family of deer grazing just upwind of them. Motioning to his dagger, he whispered to her, “How accurate are you?” Brin took the weapon.

“I can take one down from here.” He nodded and drew a second dagger. Brin flipped the dagger, holding it by the blade edge with her uninjured right hand. She squinted at her target, the buck on the lookout for predators, and lined up her throw. Without a breath or hesitation longer than necessary, she threw the dagger, which buried itself in the deer’s eye. As it collapsed, Pari’s dagger flew, taking down the doe beside the buck. The remaining deer scattered. The pair approached the deer briskly, admiring their work briefly before Brin set to work. She used a longer knife intended for skinning to butcher the deer. Her intent was to draw as much blood as possible before it went too cold. Her body trembled at the sight of it. It had been much too long since she had sated her bloodlust. A year or two ago she would not have been able to contain her need for it so long. But things had changed.

With most of her runes disabled by the brand, it was a slow process using the animal blood to repair her wounds. She prioritized clearing up the burns as much as she could. Once the blackened skin regained most of its pale complexion, she moved on to her knee. Converting blood energy into bone was a difficult process, and she was no master of blood. However, when she ran out of blood, her leg was usable again. She removed the brace and stretched her newly repaired leg, finding her work to be satisfactory. Shortly after, the two undead were on their way north again, the pace set even faster now.

Brin asked Pari as they settled into their new pace, “Maybe you ought to tell me where we’re going. In case we get separated.” Parigan glanced back at her without stopping. “We won’t. I’ll die before I lose you again,” he said flatly. Brin frowned at him and replied, “Fine, well maybe you can just humor me then. It’s starting to feel a bit like a prison march.”

Pari clicked his tongue. “We need a way out of the Horde’s grip and there’s only one person I trust who has the sort of funds to help us disappear. She lives in Winterspring,” he said. Brin’s eyebrows rose.

“Are you sure she’ll be willing to help us out?”

“I know she will. She was at Thunder Bluff to help you out, too. Many of her druid friends fell, and she narrowly escaped, herself. I don’t think she was expecting me to show up.”

“She thought you were dead, too. She asked me to look for you in Tanaan.”

Parigan was quiet for a while. Eventually he continued, “What was she hoping to find?”

“She wanted me to bring your soul back, if you still lingered. She wanted to speak with you before…”

“Was she hoping for resolution? Forgiveness? Did she expect me to feel sorry for the things I’ve done, tearing apart our family?”

Brin sighed. “I don’t know what she’s hoping for. Maybe just closure. It felt like you would be around forever, and then you were just gone. Maybe it’s just now hitting her, how much she missed you.”

Parigan held up a hand. Brin became alert and started glancing around for threats. Parigan drew his massive greatsword and tossed a dagger at a nearby tree. A night elf fell from the branches to avoid the thrown weapon. Before she even hit the ground, Parigan was on top of her, pining her to the ground with the edge of his sword so she couldn’t move without cutting herself. The elf shouted at him in her native tongue, clearly unhappy with being pinned. “Speak bloody common, and do so quietly, girl,” he said sharply. Brin watched on without a word, a hand resting on a short sword Parigan had provided her with.

The elf switched languages, but continued to shout, “Heathens! Cursed undead, this land belongs to the Kaldorei, and you shall not sully it with your foul presence!”

Parigan grinned wolfishly. “What, are you planning on making us leave? Forgive me if I’m a bit less than convinced with your ability to do that.”

The elf spat on Parigan’s cheek. “That was for my friends, you murderer!”

Parigan wiped the saliva from his face with his metal hand. “I haven’t killed any of your kind recently. You want to explain what that comment was about?”

“Do not lie! A dozen of my sister Sentinels were strewn across the road in pieces south of here, by the river crossing! You heathens are responsible, I know it!”

Parigan lowered the blade across her neck. Brin’s grip on her sword tightened. She wasn’t sure whether it was for the elf’s sake or for Parigan’s. Parigan said, “And who told you it was us? Your elven intuition?”

The elf spoke a bit quieter now, but no less bitterly, “My party was informed by your pursuers, the Horde hunters.”

Parigan chuckled. “And you bought that? I bet they carved up your pals for sport and used us as the scapegoat. It’s too easy.” Brin stepped forward and tapped Parigan’s shoulder. He huffed and stood up off the elf, drawing his sword away from her throat. The elf immediately leapt up and bolted into the foliage. Parigan scoffed. “She’s going to warn her friends about us.”

Brin replied, “We have to give her a chance. Killing her when she’s helpless isn’t right. It’s not who we are.”

Parigan shrugged as he put his weapon back in its sheath. “If we want to survive, it’ll have to be.”

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Quaran was awoken from his sleep by a frantic goblin serving as messenger. The tiny man shouted at the top of his lungs, “Captain, captain! The elves got the fugitives cornered!” Quaran shook off his sleep instantly. Orgog’s plan had worked, it seemed. The nearby Sentinels patrolling Ashenvale had responded with great ferocity when they were informed of their comrades’ deaths. That and the knowledge of the surrounding forest had let to a swift capture, from what Quaran gathered. He placed his hand on the goblin’s head to steady him and said, “Calm yourself and tell me, where were they found?”

“By Raynewood Retreat, and the entrance to Felwood! The elves caught them on the edge of the woods and are moving to engage now!” Quaran lifted his hand and dismissed the eccentric goblin from his tent. He called to his guards to ready the camp to move north before dressing himself for combat. The elves may have found the fugitives, but it was anyone’s guess if they would have enough to put them down.


The night elves had them surrounded and greatly outnumbered. Brinnea counted a dozen at their flank, dotting the treeline on the ground and in the trees themselves. More had blocked their path northward. Parigan grunted in annoyance behind her, and said, “Damn, shouldn’t have tried leaving the woods so close to the elves’ base.” He drew his greatsword. Brin busied herself tightening the wrappings holding a pair of sharpened bones to her wounded left hand before drawing her own sword. In response to Parigan’s statement, she said, “Not like we had much forest left. We almost made it to the mountains before we left cover.” Parigan hefted his sword onto his shoulder. Grumpily, he added, “Wouldn’t have been a problem if we’d just killed the scout.”

Before Brin could retort that they couldn’t have known what would have happened, one of the elves called out in the common tongue, “Undead interlopers, you are ordered to throw down your weapons and place yourselves at the mercy of Darnassian justice for your crimes against the night elven people! If you do not comply, we shall put you down here and now and burn your remains to cleanse the land of your wretched aura. I recommend you make this no harder on yourselves, and come quietly.”

Parigan chuckled. He called out to the elf who had spoken, saying, “Compliance isn’t in our nature. And we have no plans to die today, elf witch. Why don’t you scuttle off into your woods and have a go at each other while the adults move on with their lives.” Brinnea rolled her eyes. The elf’s prior warnings had been in a steady voice, though tinged with the usual elven pride. However, her next words were dripping with bitter anger: “Undead, I gave you fair warning. For insulting my honor, you spit on the honor of all my people, and that I cannot allow! Not even Elune will be able to save your souls after what I shall do to you! Andu-falah-dor!” The night elves began knocking arrows all around the pair. The other half drew glaives and spears, closing in slowly and carefully. Parigan glanced back at Brin with his good eye. They shared a knowing look before facing their opponents and charged the elves.

Brin ducked as arrows flew towards her, dark blurs nearly invisible with the dim backdrop of the Ashenvale woods. They were shot high so as not to hit the Sentinels on the ground. Brinnea took advantage of that, weaving her way into her enemies’ ranks before pausing to trade blows. She expertly parried spear thrusts and glaive strikes from several angles with her short sword. Despite the ferocity of the elves’ attacks, she stood her ground, an icy pillar with blades striking fast as a blur and stronger than any living being could deliver. One Sentinel swung her spear wide, using the reach to her advantage. Brin caught the shaft between the bones tied to her hand and pulled the elf close, plunging the blade of her short sword into the elf’s leg before disarming her. Another foe lunged forward, aiming high. Brin feinted a parry then dove past, fast as a feather in a breeze, hamstringing the elf as she went. The death knight flowed from elf to elf, gracefully delivering crippling wounds one after the other.

The warrior, on the other hand, took a more direct approach. With his blade so thick, he was able to block incoming arrow volleys from hitting his body, then dove into the grouped-up elves, sword first, hacking the Sentinels into pieces. His first strike left three cut in half. His next strike buried another in the mud. By the third swing, the elves were already falling far back, relying on their comrades in the back to fire another volley of arrows. But these elves did not use the trees for cover as those at the flank did, and so Parigan leaped over the heads of the melee combatants and quickly ran across the archers’ line, hacking the lightly armored Sentinels apart as he went. The Sentinel commander seethed with rage, and drew her daggers, calling upon the light of Elune to guide her strikes. Moonlight drew to her blades as she charged Parigan, fast as a bullet. Before she reached him, she thrusted, well out of range. Parigan prepared to strike, but hesitated when a pair of moonfire bolts fired at him, faster than he could dodge.

The warrior roared, swinging his huge blade wildly, aiming to strike the beams now, rather than the commander. The force of the blade blew away the beams entirely. The commander stared in disbelief as the undead continued his charge without hesitation. Her instincts kicked in, and she dodged his strike, but only just. Parigan followed up his missed attack with quick, overpowering strikes that forced the elf to dodge again and again until she was backed up against a tree. The other Sentinels attempted to flank Parigan stealthily, but the warrior’s keen instincts warned him of the danger long before they struck. He delivered a sudden kick to the commander’s leg, forcing her off balance while he spun around, delivering a strike that left the remaining Sentinels cleft in two. He turned back to the commander, whose daggers fell out of her hands immediately.

Brinnea had been ducking and dodging in and out of the woods, pulling archer after archer from their perches before disarming and crippling them. She was down to her last two when they suddenly threw down their bows and leapt from their trees. One of them was the scout they had run across the other day. She spoke unhappily, “The commander has yielded to your comrade. We are beaten.” Brinnea sheathed her short sword and nodded. She instructed the surrendering elves to tend to their wounded while she returned to Parigan’s side. Her husband stood leaning against his sword while regarding a kneeling Sentinel commander.

“What do you think, Brin?” Parigan began in a dangerous tone, “Let this one go too, so she can bring more friends after us? Or will you let me put them down this time?” Brinnea closed her eyes and lowered her head in thought. “They will be allowed to return home with no further trouble.” She ignored the incredulous look Parigan gave her as she addressed the commander, “I hope you keep in mind that we spared your troops upon your surrender, Commander. I know you would not listen to a request to break off any attempts at pursuit henceforth, but perhaps the memory of what happened here will convince you to delay for a time.”

The commander bit her lip, her pride singed by Brin’s implied demands. At last she replied, “We will…need time to tend to the wounded. However, the Horde will not slow in their chase. Perhaps… we did not see which way you were going after you claimed victory from us.” Brinnea smiled. She replied in a soft tone, “You are doing the right thing, Sentinel Commander. No more of your people need be put in harm’s way for our sake.” She motioned to Parigan for them to be off and started walking again.

Parigan lifted his sword from the ground and as he sheathed it, said to the commander, “You’re lucky she’s special, elf. If it were just me, none of your party would have lived through this encounter. Thank your god for such little miracles.” With that, he followed behind Brinnea north towards Felwood.


Quaran had just received word while riding on the back of his Sunwalker kodo of the fugitives’ escape from the Sentinel’s ambush. He gnashed his teeth together, displeased that they had managed to evade capture once more. Even more so that the night elves had somehow managed to lose track of the undead altogether. Despite being so close to the elven base at Raynewood Retreat, the pair had found a way to vanish, their direction impossible to determine. So much for relying on the elves’ knowledge of the landscape.

To add to his displeasure, Quaran noticed Orgog maneuvering his way through the hunters’ march to come up beside the tauren’s mount. Orgog was dressed in his dragonplate armor, both of his vicious fiery battleaxes strapped to his back. Despite the great weight, his huge dire wolf seemed perfectly content with carrying the burden. The orc rode beside his friend, saying not a word. Instead, he laughed mirthfully, as if some inaudible joke had amused him greatly. Quaran knew he was being baited, but said anyway, “The elves lost the undead by Raynewood Retreat.”

Cutting off his laughter, Orgog replied, “So I’ve heard. I suppose that is all that could be expected of Alliance scum. Whatever are we to do now?” Quaran sighed. “Nothing different. We carry on hunting them as we are. They cannot outrun us on foot,” the tauren answered.

Orgog clicked his tongue disapprovingly. “And wait for them to find mounts? For them to fly off or teleport across the world and leave us a square one? No, I think I’ll take my chances with plan B.”

Quaran’s ears twitched worriedly. “Come again? What is this plan of yours?”

“An old friend of ours is going to pay the undead a visit. She is much faster than our hunters, and will be able to track them effortlessly. She is quite accustomed to hunting undead, after all.”

Quaran’s eyes widened in shock. “You didn’t—how did you even find her?”

Orgog chuckled lightly. “I have my ways, old friend.”

“But how could we hope to contain her after the others are put down? She could prove to be an even worse problem…”

Orgog shook his head. “She’ll listen to me. You’re a holy man now; take that on faith.”


Cynthia’s grin stretched wide across her flawless skin. “Don’t worry yourself so much, my dear Quaran. All our efforts will pay off soon, hmm.” She opened her eyes to a room far from where her mind had just been. Felwood had been a playground for warlocks years before these youngsters had even walled themselves off from the world. It was amusing to her that their hope of escape took them right into the jaws of danger. The sound of metal scraping against metal brought her attention back to the dimly lit room in which she now sat. A female undead, made more of metal than her verdantly-tinged skin, shuffled forward to kneel before Cynthia where the witch sat. The undead moaned a question from behind her stitched lips. Cynthia giggled merrily. “Colette, the time is ripe for your attack, hmm. Move into the valley and await their arrival.” Colette groaned, clearly pleased. She stood and began to shuffle off into the dark hallways of Cynthia’s lair. The warlock was left alone with her thoughts.

Cynthia stood from her cushioned sofa and stretched her legs as she drifted slowly to the back room behind her lounge. She kept her favorite specimens and experiments back here. Here she kept spawns of rare and dangerous species, remnants of threats long past, relics of forgotten civilizations: pretty much anything that society would deem too dangerous to be kept in the hands of mortal men and women. Cynthia craved the breaking of society’s laws and found no greater joy than in showing them how pitiful and powerless the lawmakers were to stop her. An abnormal movement caught the attention of her crisp golden eyes. Inside a casket hidden behind tables of research notes and test subjects, something was moving. Cynthia sighed and shuffled her way past the clutter, careful not to scuff her spider web pattern dress in the process. She sat atop the casket and stroked the polished wooden frame playfully. “Oh, my darling. Be patient, now. Your chance will come soon enough, hmm.” The movement within the casket ceased for the moment. Cynthia’s smile widened. “Yes, soon I will have a use for you, but today you must rest, my dear child. Rest…”

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“You know, I’m getting tired of being surrounded every other day,” Parigan grumbled as he drew his sword. Brin stood with her back against his once again. This time, they were surrounded by angry furbolgs. Brin drew her short sword and replied, “I suppose moving through the furbolg camp to avoid the main road was a bit of a risk.” The biggest of the furbolg roared and shook his spear overhead. The rest of the beast-men followed suit. Brin and Pari readied themselves to attack, when suddenly the largest furbolg’s roar was cut off. Brin whirled around to see a long metal spike protruding from the chief’s neck. With a moan, he fell over dead. The others fell silent. A high-pitched whizzing sound filled the sky. Looking up, Brin watched a hail of iron spikes descend on their position from a nearby hill. She shouted, “Pari, take cover!”

The pair of them charged at the furbolgs, still baffled from their chief’s sudden demise. Some of them were starting to panic from the incoming volley. The undead took advantage of the chaos by slaying a furbolg for each of them, and taking cover under their thick hides. The spikes started hitting their marks. One by one, the beast-men fell as the spikes chased them as if of their own accord. The furbolgs the undead took shelter beneath kept them from taking the spikes themselves effectively enough. After a long period of time listening to the sound of metal embedding into flesh and dirt, the surrounding area grew silent. Brinnea and Parigan emerged from their hiding places and took a look around. No furbolg remained alive, each with its own iron spike buried in its head, neck, or chest. Then another figure fell from the hill, much bigger this time. It landed with a loud thud, and rose on two legs, the sound of metal scraping against metal following its movements.

Parigan scoffed. “And then there’s this one…” The metal monstrosity that stood before them was undead, Brin could feel it. But she seemed to be made of metal, and was much larger than the average human, at least seven feet tall, and wide in frame. Her body was covered in green plate metal and stitches. Her mouth was stitched over and her eyes were small, sickly green orbs of pale light. She groaned playfully, taking a step closer, and then another. Brin readied herself for a fight. “Friend of yours?” she asked Parigan. He scoffed again. “I wouldn’t exactly call her that. Her body’s mostly metal. Finding a chink in her armor will be the key. And be careful, her blood burns like acid. Take the left!” He shouted his last command as he took off running. Brin followed closely behind him, splitting for the left flank at the last second. She lashed at the undead’s side with her sword. The steel clanged off the metal plating uselessly. Parigan’s blade sent her flying, but she stood up a moment later, unharmed by the strike.

The woman snarled as she rose her hands. On each of her palms, a mouth cracked open, each complete with a set of metal teeth and an abnormally long, green tongue. Brin grimaced. Parigan let out a boisterous guffaw. “You are one gross bitch.” He darted forward. Brinnea bit back a curse. Parigan was far too reckless, but someone had to watch his back. She followed after him. The green woman growled loudly and pointed opened her hand-mouths wide. Green liquid poured forth from them, jetting out at each undead. Parigan ducked under the stream and ran to the side, attempting to flank their foe. Brin followed suit. The green woman seemed unable to move very quickly while channeling her acid streams. The pair took advantage of that, striking from each side, attempting to cleave her arms in two. Brin delivered a powerful downward slice that should have normally removed the arm completely. Instead, her blade shivered and cracked on impact. Parigan fared little better, but managed to tip the woman off balance, spewing acid all over the ground. Some splashed on Brin’s blade and glove.

Darting back, Brinnea removed her glove before the acid ate through to her skin. Then she noticed her blade was almost all gone from the small amount of acid that had fallen on it. She tossed that aside as well. The green woman’s arms convulsed as iron spikes, dripping with poison, were vomited from the mouths on her palms. They remained imbedded in her hands as she turned toward Parigan. The warrior charged, swinging his blade against the undead’s arms. The spikes were tossed aside. Strangely, the metal of Parigan’s sword endured the acid undamaged. Brin took advantage of the green woman’s distraction and advanced toward her rear, looking for a weak point in her body plates. She aimed for the back of the head, but her bone spikes would not penetrate the armor. Stitches all over the undead’s body popped as more spikes rose from her skin, all drenched with acid. Brin pulled back before she was cut. Parigan, however, kept swinging, knocking the assailant back and forth, leaving her unable to counter. However, his blows left not a dent in her armor. The undead leapt backwards after a glancing blow gave her time to catch her balance. She flung a pair of spikes at Parigan, but he knocked them out of the air. She pressed in close as soon as he was caught mid-swing.

Brin grimaced, and reacted quickly, death-gripping the undead away from Parigan. The green woman turned on her immediately. Brin shouted, spewing frosty wind, freezing her with gale force worthy of a dragon’s breath. The metal abomination froze in place, a spike only inches from Brin’s throat. The death knight exhaled deeply, her ruinic power fully depleted. The brand on her arm was burning, but she ignored it. Parigan approached quickly, his weapon hefted onto his shoulder. “Seems we’ve found our exit strategy,” he said grumpily.

“Best we move before she breaks loose. Maybe we can lose her if we move fast en--,” she was cut off by a frighteningly familiar chill running down her spine. She whirled around as a ghostly apparition appeared: the image of Cynthia, the witch. Her youthful features, perfectly flawless face, and snakelike golden eyes drilled into Brin’s soul, freezing her in place. Parigan stepped forward, standing himself between Brin and the witch’s image.

“Oh, you are proving a particularly challenging prey to hunt down, hmm,” Cynthia said, her voice dripping with irritation. “Colette is one of my most powerful creations, hmm. My patience is not easily tested, but you have managed to evade one too many trap for my liking.” Brin shivered in place. Memories flooded back like waves in a storm. The mind altering spells, the dungeon full of experiments, the dagger in her back…

Parigan grumbled, stirring Brin’s thoughts from her recollections, “Yeah, yeah, cry some more, she-devil. So far we’re not impressed with your toys and schemes. I suppose I shouldn’t have expected much from a has-been Blackmane, hiding in a cave for the last three decades.”

Cynthia trembled with rage, but kept a smile on her face. Brin’s heart wrenched at the sight of it, a feeling she hadn’t felt in so long. The warlock spat at them, “You’ve seen nothing of what our house is capable of, Parigan! Before you were even a thought in your father’s mind, I was playing with the fabric of reality like a cat does with string, hmm! Even your daddy dearest feared me, and his father before. They were all fools to place their trust in buried kings! My gaze was ever loftier, hmm, I sought the kings in the great beyond!” She stretched her arms wide, as if the great beyond were held in the space before her.

Parigan shrugged. “Seems your great kings have a weak bite. If a pathetic world of disorder like this one’s still standing after they tried to take it, what, three times now?”

Cynthia burst out laughing. “Oh, you’re overconfidence is rich, hmm! But I’m not here to trade empty threats and hollow promises. Just to state a fact, hmm,” she said. Cynthia cast her gaze on Brin. The death knight might as well be a set of bones shaking where she stood for how intimidating she appeared. The warlock continued, “I met one of your friends today. Autumn Delenay, such a precious little flower in your rose garden of an Empire, hmm. I will enjoy plucking her apart slowly. Her screams will echo in the chasm of eternity, and haunt you to your last thought, hmm…”

Brin gnashed her teeth and rang her fingers together angrily. “You…,” she began reluctantly. The air began to freeze around her. The sigil on her arm radiated light from beneath the fabric it hid beneath. The pain was cast aside for rage, rivaled only by the intense fear, ever present in her heart. “You monster! I won’t let you live if any harm comes to Autumn!” She pushed Parigan out of her way and stomped forward, glaring at Cynthia’s projection eye-to-eye.

Cynthia held her peevish grin unflinchingly. Her voice cut at Brin’s very mind, “Oh, Brinny… she’ll be much too busy tearing you apart for you to get at me, hmm. It is so easy to twist minds when they already have reason to believe their actions are justified, hmm. You brought this fate on yourself, sweet girl. If you had just given me what I wanted, you could have passed on peacefully, hmm.” Her image shimmered. Brin screamed, slashing at the air with a frost strike as her arm felt like it would fall off from the strain against the brand. Cynthia’s visage faded into the ether, leaving Brin and Parigan alone with the frozen Colette. Parigan urged her to get moving, and they were off again.

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((Warning: contains a lot of violence, gore, and is a rather long read!))

Winter was hard at work burying Winterspring in a thick blanket of snow, turning Brin and Pari’s march into a trudge through a whiteout. Wind blew flakes of snow into their faces, and though the cold bothered them not at all, the lack of visibility put them on edge, even more so than they already were. After the encounter in Felwood, the two of them had made for the mountain passes into Winterspring, avoiding any further contact with the furbolgs. Taking the long way around Timbermaw Hold slowed their journey to the point Parigan had become convinced the Horde hunters would be on them at any time. The further they marched into the bitter land of winter, the quieter and more alert he had become. Brin, on the other hand, seemed as if she didn’t even notice they had left Felwood at all. Ever since Cynthia’s projection had taunted her, she had grown tentative and fearful, as if in every shadow the witch hid, waiting to lunge out as she drew near. Parigan was almost glad she had lost her sword, else he was certain he’d have been cut during one of her fits.

A shape in the distance formed as the pair drew closer. Brin nearly leapt off her feet when Parigan put his hand on her shoulder to stop her. He spoke just above the volume of the wind, “We’ve got a bit of a problem.” He pointed at the dark blot in the distance, a clump of cold stone across from a huge snowdrift. The cliff was short, but unless they planned on climbing its face, they would have to double back a ways to get around it. If they wanted to get forward this way, however, they would be surrounded by rock and snow on both sides. “The perfect spot for an ambush. I’m in no mood to be surrounded and outnumbered again.” Brin nodded absentmindedly. “We’ll take the long way around. Better safe than caught.” Just as they turned around, a click underneath their feet sent a chill up Parigan’s spine. He shouted, “Move!” and grabbing Brin, he leapt back toward the crevice. Where they had been standing, the snow shot up in the air, accompanied by a loud cracking sound. A land mine.

More figures appeared back the way they came. They were moving towards the pair, and quickly. Parigan forced Brin to her feet and ran the only way they could, onward into the trap. Parigan was aware of more figures taking position on the cliff face. He ran close to the side so they couldn’t get a clean shot on them. Before they could reach the end of the crevice, however, white and red shapes emerged from the deep snow ahead of them, blocking their path again. The Horde hunters had caught up with them, and set a clever trap. The only direction not crawling with soldiers carrying spears, rifles, axes, and plenty of other unpleasant killing instruments was to the south, where the snow was piled too high to climb over. Parigan growled, drawing his sword. Brin tightened the sharpened bones tied to her wrists.

A familiar voice called out to them from on the cliff, “Now I know nothing I say will convince you two to drop your weapons and let us end this the easy way…” The Sunwalker dismounted from his kodo, his mace and shield already in hand. He frowned down on them and continued, “So I’m not going to give you another chance. Either of you. Justice will finally be done today, and all the souls you damned will be given peace.”

Parigan brandished his greatsword and called up to the tauren, “If Justice is so confident, why doesn’t he come finish the job himself?” The tauren snorted, but leaped down into the crevice anyway, quickly advancing, shield first. He called to the troops on the hill, “All rifles, open fire!” Brin moved first. Despite the tremendous pain the brand must have caused her, she managed to send the nearby snow up in a flurry, hiding those within from sight. Rifle fire echoed through the crevice, but the undead were already on the move. Parigan and Brinnea sprinted towards their destination, away from the Sunwalker. They emerged from the flurry, surprising the armed hunters on the other side. They recovered quickly, but Parigan capitalized on the hesitation by dropping his weapon, grabbing Brin with both his working hand and his metal one, and tossing her over the line of advancing troops with all his inhuman strength.

A surprised Brin managed to regain her feet on the other side of the equally shocked Horde who were now split between targets. Parigan took up his blade again, and leapt on top of the first soldier in line, then hacked his way to Brin’s side, cleaving a hole in the enemy line. More shots fired as the riflemen found their marks again. Parigan stood between them and Brin, using his sword to guard his more vital areas. Bullets still ripped through his armor and flesh, but he ignored the pain. Readying his weapon for further attacks, he shouted back to Brinnea, “Go! You can make it to the house alone, but not if they’re all on you!” He parried a spear thrust and clipped the arms off the troll who wielded it. His writhing stumps painted the snow red as more of his friends drew closer, followed by Quaran. The riflemen were still firing.

Brin shouted back, “No! I’m not leaving you!” Parigan roared angrily, and cut two soldiers cleanly in half as they drew within his range. The rest hesitated, all except Quaran. He threw a shield of light at the undead warrior, who sliced it out of the air. The tauren pressed in close, attempting to get within the warrior’s sword, using his shield to guard himself from attacks. Parigan was aware of the mace hiding behind the wall of wood and metal. Instead of recovering from his last swing, Parigan kicked the tauren back, then with an overhead strike, he sent the paladin back. More bullets shot by, cutting through metal and flesh alike. None of that mattered. This fight was just between him and the tauren. Another heavy swing put the tauren in a crouch. Brin shouted in pain as a bullet took her in the shoulder. She tried to harden her body with frost magic, but the effort put too much strain on her already weakened body. Parigan leaped away from the fray, blocking more bullets with his blade. Brin was holding her left arm, her teeth gnashed and brow furrowed. Reluctantly, she cried out over the sound of the wind, “You better not die, you hear me?” Then she turned and ran off. A few of the riflemen on the ridge went after her. That was fine, a few she could handle.

Parigan chuckled. This was how it ought to be. Just him, his sword, and the people he had to kill in order to stay alive. No plots or people to protect. Nothing to it but swing, kill, repeat. And that’s exactly what he did. The Horde pressed in close, so he cut them all down. Bullets and blades cut him all over, but he felt none of it. Quaran’s mace met his blade, the light granting him strength against the wicked warrior’s massive sword. The tauren grappled the sword, pulling Parigan in close so he couldn’t swing or move. The undead didn’t hesitate in lunging into the tauren, lowering his metal jaw, and clamping it in a ferocious bite. The tauren screamed in pain as his cowlike ear was ripped off the side of his head. Parigan had time only to bash him aside before he had to meet the blade of another eager challenger. After that one fell, more bullets penetrated his armor. They were starting to get on his nerves.

The undead rushed toward the cliff, and putting all his strength into his legs, leapt upwards, grabbing the ledge with his sharp metal fingers. An orc gawked at him, dangling beneath his feet, so Parigan sliced his legs out from under him and lifted himself onto the hill. Two riflemen stood behind him, the rest ahead. He whirled around, his black cloak billowing in the wind, following his swift motions. Confused shots were fired off, and shouts of “friendly fire” cried out. Parigan killed one of the hunters to his flank, then impaled the other on the end of his sword, using him as a shield as he advanced on the others. He tossed the body into the line before going to work hacking the rest of the hunters to bloody bits. Their rifles went off feebly into the snow as he knocked them off target again and again. Some of them tried to flee. Parigan gave them no quarter. From below, Quaran cried out, “Foul beast! Feel the fist of justice!” A thunderous blast drew Parigan’s attention upwards. The tauren’s mace rose overhead, growing into a full warhammer wreathed in light. Then it fell, too fast to dodge, onto Parigan’s back. Lightning arced through the undead’s body. Screams of agony cried out against the wind as the Light itself tormented the writhing warrior, buried in the snow. By the time the pain stopped, he could not move a muscle, and was once again, surrounded.

The Sunwalker ripped the mace out of his back, and two pairs of rough hands dragged him to his knees. Someone took the giant sword from Parigan’s hands. The tauren ripped the warrior’s black helm off his head, releasing a matted tangle of raven-dark shoulder-length hair, and a vicious black scar running from the crown of the man’s head down to his empty right eye socket. His good eye glowed a dim gold, like a wolf’s eye in the night. It drooped with fatigue, staring blankly at the snow below him. Quaran tossed the helmet aside, and lifted his mace for the deathblow. “Let not your withered soul rest easy!” he cried out as his great arms brought the mace downwards. Parigan’s eye sharpened into focus. He kicked with all his might against the tauren’s legs, knocking the attack off balance as he dodged out of its deadly path. The undead ripped his arms away from the other captors, who reached for their weapons along with dozens of others behind and before them. Quaran shouted, “Kill him, now!” Parigan brought his head up, smashing the hardest part against the tauren’s snout, sending blood flying all around. One guard stepped from behind to deliver a thrust with his spear. Parigan grappled the guard to his right, forcing him in the spear’s path. Once the spear was firmly planted in the man’s back, Parigan tossed him into the spearman and stopped the swing of the other guard’s sword with his metal hand. The undead lunged, planting two of his fingers in the assailant’s eyes. As he screamed, Quaran roared and readied to attack again. Parigan took the blinded guard’s sword, tackled the tauren off the cliff, stabbed the paladin in the heart, and landed on top of him in the snow below the hill.

Half-buried in snow, the tauren gasped as his lifeblood left his chest. Parigan stood, and spat at the tauren, “I hope the Light’s as fond of you as you’d like me to believe.” He drew the blade from the tauren’s heart, and Light burst from the wound. The tauren’s glazed eyes lit up brighter than lightning, and his body was surrounded in a shield of golden sunlight. The tauren pushed Parigan away with two massive hands, and a bolt of golden energy fired Parigan into the side of the cliff. The tauren took the blade, still covered in his heart’s blood, and threw his power into it. The blade became a sword blessed with godly radiance. In a flash, the blade was thrust into Parigan’s gut and pinned him to the rock face behind him. The tauren spoke with a voice beyond that of his own, “The Light is on my side, wretch!” The power of the gods coursed through the undead like waves against the shoreline. His strength failed; even his armor felt too heavy for him to carry. The blade rose, approaching his blackened heart and searing everything on the way with burning power. As his vision faded and his eyelids began to close, Parigan used the last of his strength to lift his arms, laying the metal arm against the tauren’s illuminated face. With the other hand, he worked the mechanism on the metal arm to drop the hand, revealing the barrel of a cannon. Quaran’s bright eyes of pure white grew with shock as the cannon lit, and gunpowder ignited the air all around him.

The blade flew from Parigan’s body as the tauren fell backwards into the snow. What was left of his head had painted his troops behind him. Parigan’s strength began to return to him, though the wound burned worse than a fire in his chest. The warrior scoffed as he replaced the hand over the cannon barrel. “I guess the Light fears cannons now.” The remaining troops gaped at him fearfully. One stubborn tauren with a spear raced forward, shouting, “For the Captain!” Parigan disarmed him in one swift motion, and sliced his throat, silencing any further battle cries. Then, he set to work butchering the remaining forces. Every movement sent pain writhing through his body. That only served to stoke his rage further. He spotted his blade in the hands of some orc, so he leapt over the heads of everyone between him and the thief. The orc swung Parigan’s blade at him sloppily. The undead parried and used the spear to disarm the sword from the orc’s hands, then he reclaimed his blade and finished the job.

A few healers remained by the time all the fighters had been killed or forced to flee. They desperately dragged the wounded away while Parigan tended to his own wounds, ever watchful of any attempts at attacking by the medics. One undead priest stared him down with disgust in her eye. She spat at Parigan’s foot. “You are unworthy of the gift of second life, murderer!” Parigan merely stared at her with a blank expression while he stitched his own stomach shut. An axe flew through the sky towards Parigan, but he avoided it just as it scraped against his metal jaw. The medics hastened their removal of the injured as Parigan lifted his weapon, grumbling to himself. At the entrance of the crevice, a lone orc stood holding a battleaxe in each hand. He wore dragonscale armor and an amused grin, and drew closer slowly, as if savoring the moment. His angry crimson eyes took in the sight of the slaughter with amusement.

Parigan readied his blade. “You’re a little late to the show.” The orc sniggered. “I wanted to see how much you’d grown, young warrior. It has been much too long since a man of the Blackmane family has shown such aptitude. You have slaughtered your enemies in droves, and still stand as if prepared for the fight of your life.”

The orc began to circle left, so Parigan followed suit. “Odds are usually in the favor of such occurring. Are you another of the witch’s puppets?” The orc smirked. “You catch on fast. Wits and strength are often not tempered alongside one another. You are full of surprises.”

“Tell me, then. Why are you after us? What drives you to want us dead so badly?” The orc stopped, their positions now completely reversed. Parigan faced the direction Brinnea had fled in when he stopped as well.

The orc lowered his axes as he replied, “It isn’t anything personal. All you need know is all who carry the name ‘Blackmane’ must be put to rest, permanently.”

“That wouldn’t happen to include yourself, Cynthia?” The orc scoffed, raising his axes again. Parigan shrugged. “Worth a shot.” The orc closed in quickly, his axes swinging from both sides. Parigan backstepped and lunged, only to have his blade knocked aside by both axes. Blow after blow they traded, all parried or evaded expertly. The orc brought both blades down against the undead’s sword, pressing with great strength. Parigan held his ground, pushing back before swinging again. The orc leapt over the sword, over Parigan, and landed with both axes aimed for the undead’s back. They managed to clip him in the back as he dodged away. Off-balance, Parigan swung around wildly, his blade easily avoided by the orc. An axe raked across Pari’s face, slicing against his right ear and across where his eye used to be. Parigan cried out angrily, and tackled the orc into the snow. An axe and a sword flew to either side of the fighters as the grappled for control of the final weapon. The orc kicked Parigan in the gut, knocking him beside the other axe.

The orc sprang to his feet, and Parigan quickly took the weapon by the shaft and blocked a vicious strike aimed at his head. The two warriors traded blows again and again, until the orc clipped the head off Pari’s axe. Before he could move away, the orc’s axe prepared for a mortal blow. Out of options, the undead blocked it with his prosthetic hand, which was ripped off his stumped arm violently, and gave him just enough time to kick out the orc’s leg with his own metal one. The orc grunted as he lost control of his swing. Parigan plunged the shattered end of the axe shaft into the orc’s gut. Whatever the axe was made of, it pierced dragonscale enough to cause a shallow wound and draw blood. Parigan left the orc no chance to regain control of the fight. He grabbed this foes horned helm and forced the orc’s head down into his plated knee armor. Now dazed, the orc was easily disarmed. Parigan swung the axe wildly with one hand, slicing off dragonscale and causing enough blunt force trauma to keep the orc completely helpless in the face of his assault, all while screaming with bloody rage at the top of his lungs. A horn flew off the orc’s helm, as did flesh from his gut, shoulders, legs, and finally his entire arm. The orc yelled in pain as blood gushed from what remained of his bicep. Foaming at the mouth, he lunged, helmet first into Parigan. A reckless move, and one Parigan was prepared for. He rolled to the side, and as the orc rushed by, doubled over, he brought the axe down on his back, jamming the head of it into his lower spine. The orc fell to the ground, paralyzed.

Parigan took his sweet time retrieving his greatsword while the orc moaned and desperately tried to crawl up against the cliff face, his legs uselessly dragging behind him. Parigan wrenched the axe out of his back, savoring the shouts of agony from his fallen foe. He rolled the orc onto his back and removed the horned helm to get a good look at his face. He seemed to be an older orc, perhaps over forty years old given the wrinkles and length of his tusks. His hair was deep red and trimmed in an odd style such that a line of hair stuck up from front to back. Recognition flashed across Parigan’s face. “It’s you! I remember now. We fought in Icecrown years ago, when Hellscream still ruled the Horde. You were sent to kill me. We fought, and you crushed my back.” The undead’s face contorted into a wild, dark grin. “How ironic that you fell with a blow to the back.” The orc said nothing as Parigan brought his blade down on the orc’s head with a sickening crunch.

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((Posted with Rik's permission.))

RiktheRed21 2:57 PM

Brinnea is seated facing the door, hood cloaking her face in shadow. Her blades rest against the table beside her, and she appears to be in some form of meditative state.

Naheal 2:58 PM

Naheal eyes Brinnea. His stance is cold and neutral, but seems completely comfortable in this town. Several of his spear's runes have faded to inactive. "Are you the one who sent that letter?"

RiktheRed21 2:59 PM

Upon hearing Naheal's voice, Brinnea's icy blue eyes crack open, and she rises to her feet, folding back her hood. All her movements are slow and methodical.

"Indeed I am."

Naheal 3:00 PM

"I assume you understand the weight of your crime, correct?" Naheal folds his hands behind his back. "We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard than that, else we become no better than Arthas."

RiktheRed21 3:02 PM

Brinnea does not respond at first, instead holding out her hand, gesturing to the floor opposite her side of the table. "Perhaps you would be more comfortable if you sat?"

Her voice is flat and without a hint of emotion.

Naheal 3:02 PM

Naheal nods to her. "So, what sparked this action that you took?"

RiktheRed21 3:03 PM

Brinnea takes a seat as he does, and replies, "As you know, I was a member of the Twilight Empire for several years. A Keeper, meant to uphold the peace and protect our members from harm."

Naheal 3:04 PM

"So the Empire claims. Many such groups claim such to mask brutality and genocide." He leans forward as he speaks.

RiktheRed21 3:05 PM

"When Ambassador Skylah was taken by the Grim, I was rattled and angry, as were the rest of the Empire's members. However, my personal condition put me in a less than stable state of mind."

Naheal 3:05 PM

Naheal sighs. "So you retaliated in whatever way you thought would work." He shakes his head.

RiktheRed21 3:06 PM

"Rage pushed me to disobey orders, because the thought of failing Skylah brought back memories of my own family. I was powerless to save them, but now I have the strength to fight back. So as you say, I did what I had to."

Naheal 3:06 PM

"Why a runeblade?"

RiktheRed21 3:07 PM

"My runeblades were my most effective weapons. I had to be prepared, as my plan was to endure until the Grim came to deal with me. Then, I would do what needed to be done to find my friend."

Naheal 3:08 PM

"But surely you realize that by turning your runeblades upon innucents, you damned innocent souls." He pauses for a moment. "Don't mistake my issue with condoning the Grim's actions."


"We are simply not in a position to oppose large companies without endangering our capacity to handle larger threats such as the Legion."

RiktheRed21 3:10 PM

Brin shakes her head. "I understand your concerns. As I said, I was not in an entirely stable state of mind. My thoughts were on the mission, not the harm I did. However, I can assure you that no civilian was subjected to death by my runeblades."

Naheal 3:12 PM

Naheal cocks a brow. "Then our intelligence was incorrect. Yet one more instance of the Grim lying to us." He sighs. "We recieved information as part of a contract for the Grim that said that a tauren village was slaughtered to a man by someone using a -

- greatweapon. Single blademaster." He leans back. "It wasn't until we found out that the Grim had taken a prisoner that we decided to back out of that contract."

RiktheRed21 3:13 PM

Brinnea seems unperturbed by this news. "Then allow me to set events straight. I did kill the village's protectors, and I raised them as thralls so I may keep an eye on the rest of the villagers. However, I did not cause harm to any of them <c>

"except the elder, who attempted to kill me to escape."

"He, however, was not killed by my blades."

Naheal 3:15 PM

Naheal frowns. "Wars often involve slaughtering innocents and I've seen enough of that from the Alliance to make it believable." He meets Brinnea's eyes. "Remember that justice will come for us both eventually, though."

RiktheRed21 3:16 PM

"Justice can wait, there is still more I need to do before I depart from this world. To start, I need to find my runeblades and release the spirits trapped within."

Naheal 3:17 PM

"Those spirits are damned regardless of whether you release them or not. That's part of what it means to die to a runeblade."

RiktheRed21 3:18 PM

"There is a ritual of purification that may work. I've heard rumors that damned souls were cleansed by it in the past. I would need the assistance of a master paladin or priest, however. And there are no assurances it would work."

Naheal 3:20 PM

"I have never heard of a means to cleanse a damned soul," he frowns, "but I'll not dismiss it as impossible. If it works, then I'd be eager to hear it."

RiktheRed21 3:21 PM

Brin nods appreciatively. "Then I will need your help finding them. There are few within the Horde I can trust, and fewer still with knowledge of rune weapons. The blades would have been claimed just outside the village, likely taken to Thunder Bluff."

Naheal 3:22 PM

"If I do find those blades, they'd be turned in to the Highlord."

RiktheRed21 3:23 PM

"If you do that, their souls will have no chance of release. The Highlord would just as soon have the blades broken down for the saronite."

Naheal 3:24 PM

"And I am to turn those blades over to you?" He gives Brinnea a sidelong look. "We're not exactly on good terms, sister. We may have fought side-by-side against Accalia, but actions since have placed you under heavy suspicion."

RiktheRed21 3:26 PM

"I am well aware. However, we agree that those souls should have a chance at redemption. Do you, by chance, know any holy men or women that might be willing to try the ritual themselves?"

Naheal 3:27 PM

"A couple within my ranks. Perhaps we can come to an arrangement, though I will need to know more about you before we continue down this path. What is it that you're looking for in this world?"

RiktheRed21 3:28 PM

Brin takes up a mug sitting beside her blades on the table, and gives it a slow sip. "A chance to protect the people I care for."

Naheal 3:30 PM

"Protection, huh." He sighs. "And how do you plan to achieve that?"

RiktheRed21 3:31 PM

She takes another sip before answering, "I don't know if I believe in fate, but I know an opportunity when I see one. I died young, my whole life ahead of me, but now I have a new purpose. A chance to bloody myself so the innocent don't have to."

Naheal 3:33 PM

Naheal's expression changes from suspicion to surprise as he looks to Brinnea. "A sort of sacrifice, then?"

RiktheRed21 3:34 PM

"A death knight is a killer. We were hand-crafted to slaughter the living for the Scourge. Those of us who remain wander, seeking purpose in our new lives. I found mine in seeing those who deserve life prosper, and those who threaten life suffer."

Naheal 3:35 PM

"Then, perhaps, we are more kindred spirits than I initially thought." He leans forward. "How do you intend to pursue this path?"

RiktheRed21 3:36 PM

With each sip of her drink, whatever it is, Brin's aura grows a bit stronger, and the room gets perhaps a little colder. "Only yesterday I fled to preserve my life. I intend to make the best of the time I have by hunting the great threats to Azeroth."

Naheal 3:38 PM

"I would like to make a proposal. There is a worgen rune knight by the name of Kallavan that has secretly joined my ranks. I would like to send him to work beside your for the time being to determine if what you're saying is true. Likewise, I would >

invite you to send someone to Borrowed Time to see what it is that we work toward and how we work toward it. I believe that we may find ourselves working well together, even if only below the surface."

RiktheRed21 3:41 PM

Brin swirls her mug under her chin thoughtfully. "This is a fascinating proposal."

She places the drink on the table. "I would have to discuss the matter with my family. If I were to send someone, it would be one of them."

Naheal 3:42 PM

"It's true that Borrowed Time functions as a mercenary company on the surface, but the funds and resources we take in from the Horde are often redirected to face down large threats to Azeroth. In fact, we recently saw the end of one by the name of Serinar

"In fact, we have many civilians now within our walls. Former Iron Horde, ex slaves from either side of this stupid war, and all manner of people who need a place to belong. We give that to them and a purpose."

RiktheRed21 3:44 PM

"A noble effort, and one that I would certainly like to emulate."

Naheal 3:44 PM

"It's my intention that we push toward a singular goal." He taps the table. "Unity. A united front against the Legion and the old gods."

"Whether through conquest or negotiation matters little, though I would prefer negotiation. Less animosity to spawn later wars."

RiktheRed21 3:45 PM

Brinnea nods along, in complete agreement with Naheal's words.

Naheal 3:46 PM

"For now, I will not be presenting this idea to the majority of my company. Too much bad blood for now. When we work together more often, then we can discuss the future."

RiktheRed21 3:48 PM

"I would appreciate that very much. I will be in contact through the connections I have with Horde members."

Naheal 3:48 PM

Naheal slowly stands. "Then I have preparations to make. When the knight shows upon your doorstep, ask how the Reborn Black fare.

"If he responds 'weak, but they're gaining strength,' then that will be my agent."

RiktheRed21 3:50 PM

"I shall keep that in mind. Oh, and sir, how does the name 'Beryl Falconia' sound to you? Just curious."

Naheal 3:50 PM

"'Emerald Falcon?' Emulating a Flight?" He grins at Brinnea.

RiktheRed21 3:51 PM

"Not exactly. Just a name of a band of Lordaeronian knights from long ago. I thank you again for meeting me here."

She offers her hand to shake.

Naheal 3:52 PM

"Then do them proud, Brinnea. And remember the land and people that they guard." He shakes her hand. "Farewell." He turns to leave.

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At this time of year, the road from Starfall Village to Everlook was more of a series of flat snowdrifts and hidden ice patches than a true road. Still, Brin watched it as if it were the busiest road in Kalimdor. Less than half a dozen travelers had been spotted on the road since she took up her post around midday. She sat on the edge of the handrail in the town’s largest building, an old elven structure made of wood. A few hardy travelers curled up in the building, savoring what little comfort and shelter it had to offer, considering it was missing walls in several places. A series of playful barks broke the eerie quiet of the afternoon, as Brin’s faithful corgi, an elemental made of lava, bounded to his master’s side. He placed a rock he had fetched on the floor, and wagged his tail impatiently for the woman to throw it for him. Grinning lightly, Brinnea obliged, tossing the stone towards the building entrance. Of the few travelers holed up in the building, no one complained about the dog’s playful nature. After all, a dog like that warmed the room like a bonfire, despite the protective rune on his collar preventing the spread of fires.

The death knight sat in silence, only breaking her focus from the road long enough to give Colin’s rock a toss whenever he got bored of gnawing at it. Her thoughts drifted back to her meeting in Everlook the day prior. Her fellow death knight of the Ebon Blade, Naheal, had come at her behest to discuss what had happened and what to do about the future. Before riding for Everlook, Brinnea had informed Parigan about her plan. His reaction was less than supportive.

“This is a stupid idea,” he had said. “Last time you saw that elf prick, he tried to put a spear in your neck. Now you want to apologize to him?” He could barely move from his operating table at the time. The wound he had received from the Sunwalker took a toll in the long term, and might have eventually killed him if he hadn’t been retrieved fast enough. Esmerra had him strapped down on the table while Walther, the healer, patched him up and removed any harmful residual power from the Light. Parigan had asked his sister if the straps were necessary, or just there because she wanted to see him in chains. Esmerra had replied by giving Walther permission to operate without a sedative. Parigan and Esmerra both had a good laugh afterwards. When Brin came to him, he was in-between surgeries. Walther had only so much stamina to deal with the many wounds Parigan had sustained in his battle.

“I’m not making apologies, I’m trying to earn his trust,” Brin said in reply to the warrior’s remarks. “He’s not an evil man, and I believe he truly only attacked me because I turned my blades against the innocent. That’s something I have to fix myself.” Her old runeblades had been lost shortly after the events in the village in Mulgore. Kaur’he; that was its name. Esmerra had handled replacing her old weapons with a new pair of Gilnean-made sabers. They were light and strong, and took to their new owner well, after she had etched her runes into them. Though, they did not feel like her own. She would need a rune forge to make them truly belong to her. “Void” and “Warfang,” they were called.

Parigan scoffed. “I say we’re better off on our own. It’s more likely he’ll set a trap for you just outside the town. Or he’ll track you back here to find out who’s hiding you. Either way, it isn’t worth the risk.” Brinnea had stood then, saying, “I hear you, but I still have to do this. If all works out, we might be able to make an ally out of him. We need allies if Es is really putting a team together.” She turned to leave, but Parigan asked her to wait. She looked back at him as he pulled himself up to look at her. His face darkened. “If you suspect a trap, if anything seems off to you, kill him, and don’t hesitate.”

Brin gave him a reassuring smile then. “Of course I won’t hesitate,” she said, “How do you think I’m still alive?” But she had no need to fight Naheal. He’d come alone, as she asked. Whether he was confident Everlook was safe, or he truly trusted Brin’s intentions, she could not say. However, his last offer to her had given her cause to ponder how far she could trust the man. He had asked her to take in one of his own, from the mercenary guild Borrowed Time. In return, she would send someone loyal to her to their garrison. Each representative would get a feel for the other group. It could be a chance to earn the trust of a strong ally, but there were risks. Brin’s group was small. It contained herself, Parigan, Esmerra and her loyal followers, as well as Torren, Brinnea’s father. In all, they had thirty among them in Starfall, and Esmerra had the ability to summon up another hundred from Duskwood. Not much in the way of forces, and Borrowed Time likely had far more than that, all well-armed and experienced. Though Esmerra’s followers were hardened by war already, risking even one among them put them all at risk. One man would not bother a strong guild like Naheal’s much. For a trade, it was less than fair for Brin’s side. Still, it was a unique opportunity.

Soft footfalls caught Brinnea’s attention. She tore her eyes off the road, and turned to see Esmerra approaching her. The young Gilnean noblewoman was just as beautiful and confident as when Brin had last seen her. She had the strength and presence of her father, Moors, and twice the beauty of her mother. Her black hair fell like silky lace around her shoulders, and her rich chocolate colored eyes regarded everything with a hint of arrogance, while her soft smile warmed the one she looked at such that they would believe she really was better than them. She was small and dainty, with the build of an acrobat. Her well-adorned black and silver leather armor hid beneath a thick wintry cloak of black. She carried a druid’s staff in one hand: a silverwood stick carved finely from the trees of her home. It was pure white, and seemed to radiate moonlight on the space around it. Her other arm was held in a splint. She had wounded it as a bird in Mulgore, but it was mending nicely thanks to the efforts of faithful Walther. Es often joked that he did more work to run the household than she did.

“Hello, Brin,” she said pleasantly. The death knight returned the greeting while swinging her legs back inside the open-walled building. Colin excitedly sniffed at Esmerra’s cloak and staff. Esmerra and Brinnea embraced briefly before the druid continued. “We’re just about ready to begin. Walther says Parigan should be fine to move around without hurting himself.” Brinnea nodded understandingly. “Does everyone else know?”

Esmerra replied, “Indeed they do. I had Walther bring my brother to the meeting room, and your father is there already. He’s left so many books in that room, it might as well be his own personal study.” Brin chuckled softly. Torren was a forgetful sort, even when he was in his prime. Despite his ability to retain an immense amount of knowledge about magic, history, science, and much more, he was hopeless with mundane things such as keeping his space tidy. Brin gestured towards the building’s entrance. “Shall we?” she asked. Esmerra nodded, and they went on their way towards Ban’Thallow, the Barrow Den at the back of the village. It constituted most of the space in the town, after all, it was better to be underground in such a harsh environment when winter came.

The air inside the caves was slightly warmer, and much damper. Moisture from melting icicles dripped form the ceiling constantly. According to the locals, the caves were usually crawling with larger than average bugs. Every summer, exterminators delved into the caves to clean out the infestations. Now, in the winter, they were hidden inside the walls, sleeping or hiding from the cold in blankets made of dirt. Since Esmerra had moved to Winterspring with her most trusted House followers, she had built up a small fortune she invested in buying portions of the den for her own use. After a few twists and turns that Brin was hard at work memorizing, they came across the entrance to a separate part of the cave system, blocked off with a heavy wooden door and guarded by a worgen in heavy plate armor. Her fur was an earthy brown and spots of white speckled across her face like freckles. A pair of broadswords sat restfully in leather sheathes on her belt. She wore the sigils of Gilneas and House Blackmane on her tabard proudly, and remained resolute and unmoving until she spotted Esmerra. Brinnea knew her as Balladora, Dame of Gilneas and personal guard of House Blackmane’s ruling lady or lord.

“Afternoon, milady,” Balladora said with a formal dip of the head. Brin wondered how she knew it was afternoon since she spent most of the day underground. “Masters Torren and Parigan have joined Mr. Vayne in the meeting room.” Esmerra smiled at her favorite knight, replying, “Thank you, Bella.” The knight opened the door for the two woman and stepped aside. After they entered, the door was closed behind them. On the way to the meeting room, Brin spoke to Esmerra, “Es, I want to thank you again for coming to save me in Thunder Bluff.” Esmerra looked at Brin, an awkward smile on her face. Brin continued, “You put yourself in harm’s way for my sake, and you saved my life. I can never repay you for that.”

Esmerra replied, “I know you would do the same for me, Brin. Besides, you never stopped being my sister.” A surge of warmth filled Brin’s chest. It wasn’t often someone could warm her frozen heart this way. She was proud to be part of such a family, no matter how small it was. They rounded another corner, and entered the meeting room. It was a small, round room with a similarly round table resting in the center. Torren, Walther, and Parigan sat around the table in casual conversation. Torren glanced away at a book every now and then, but when Brin entered the room, he immediately stood with a smile on his face. Walther stood as well; he was in his well-groomed human form at the moment. He had tended to the Blackmane family for two generations, and his age was starting to show, (though he had grown considerably more energetic with worgen blood in his veins). He gave the two ladies a polite bow as they entered. Parigan stayed seated, carving a smiley face in the wooden table with a long dagger, apparently bored.

“Thank you all for coming,” Esmerra said as she took her seat. Parigan twirled his dagger, the point still dug in the table. Walther sat with a stiff posture, his hands folded on the table. Torren quietly closed his book as the meeting began. Brin sat quietly. Esmerra continued, “We have gathered here to discuss the formation of a new organization. I presented this idea to each of you individually prior to Brinnea’s rescue. Now I wish to put it to a vote.”

Torren interjected, “I had an idea for the organization’s name, should we decide on forming it. “Beryl Falconia.” The historical significance of the name could prove a useful insight to our mission in forming this organization.”

Parigan spoke up next, “Speaking of voting, how exactly do we decide if the vote is passed? Majority rules? Or must it be a unanimous decision?” Esmerra replied, “Given how few of us there are, I believe a unanimous decision would be the better bet.” She nodded to Torren. “You may continue.”

Torren thanked her and carried on, “Many centuries ago in Lordaeron, a band of renegade knights gathered together as a sort of mercenary group. They took gold for their efforts in battle, but they also existed for a deeper reason. They hunted demons, and other monsters that threatened the innocent people of the Eastern Kingdoms. They were first called Beryl Falconia by their founder, Blue Knight Jordan.” An odd sense of pride mixed in with Torren’s tone. “They were famed for championing the safety of the common people, even amidst war. They would stand against those who paid them well on the grounds that too much collateral damage was tolerated on their watch. Indeed, many rulers who courted evil powers fell to their fury.

“Falconia also operated outside the laws of any nations, so they would not be restricted by foolish politics, and operated to the most fair and equal capacity.” He paused, looking around at those gathered. “We have the same opportunity today that they had. Our world is torn by war; there are many in every corner of it who have the capacity to fight evil and preserve the innocent. We can turn those with nowhere else to go into fighters for the common good of Azeroth.”

Brinnea chimed in, “I remember tales of Falconia’s valor from stories you told me as a child, Father. They were always an inspiration for me as I grew up. Perhaps the world needs such an icon again.” Parigan cleared his throat loudly. “Sounds nice, really. Very idyllic and inspirational. It also sounds like a good way to get us all killed within the year.” Esmerra and Torren both frowned. Brinnea had expected this, but was no less disappointed to hear it. He went on, “I don’t feel we owe anything to anyone. In fact, if we’re going to hunt monsters and slay demons on their behalf, maybe we should be the ones getting paid for it. You can’t make a living out of being generous.”

Brinnea replied, “Parigan, we would take mercenary contracts for pay, of course, but the important aspect is we will be keeping the world safe for the people we care about.” Parigan scoffed. “Anyone I give a shit about is already sitting at this table. I say we focus on what’s better for us.” Brin’s eyebrow rose. “And fighting threats to the whole world isn’t good for us?” she asked. Parigan snorted.

Esmerra jumped in at the pause, “Parigan, Falconia would be a gathering place for people who have nowhere else to turn. You are not exactly well-liked among the Alliance or Horde, and so you need someone to watch your back, or someday you might not have someone to pull you out of the snow and aftermath of a slaughter.” More than a little bitterness came through Esmerra’s speech.

Parigan snorted again. “Fine by me. If I needed to rely on others to survive, I wouldn’t be alive still. I have no intention of becoming weak and reliant on others.” Brin replied, “Parigan, I’m going through with this whether you do or not. You told me you would watch my back as long as you lived, so can you not trust me on this as well?” Parigan sighed and played with his dagger for a long moment, but eventually said, “Fine, I’ll join your little gang of freedom fighters. As long as I get to kill things. You know, for peace or whatever.”

Esmerra smirked, clearly pleased. “Very well,” she said, “All in favor of forming the guild Beryl Falconia?” All five rose their hands. And so, in that dank cave in the far-flung realm of Winterspring, the Blue Knight’s band was reborn.

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