Raeventus

Sins of a Patriot: Act 1: Rise of the Shattered Son

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“Guy can’t catch a break can he?” He murmurs to himself as he looked over his now dry flask. Before him was the barricaded tavern, how the hell was he supposed to spend his money at this rate? His brow raised as he spotted the monk and the Magister carried in his arms. “Oi’, he all right?”

 

"Exhausted but fine."  Kirital stepped away from Vathelan.  "We need to locate Dora."

 

The Captain heard the request, and looks at the Magister for a moment with a small smirk. “That so?” He shrugged and opened the Com, “Boss-Lady? You out there? I ‘ave someone lookin’ fer yeh.”'

 

“You could show her a bit more respect, Captain.” The Magister wearily glares at the Rogue who simply stares back up at his with his singular eye.

 

"Let's argue over a meal once Dora is found, right?"

 

Magister’s face etched deeper and deeper into his expression. He said nothing; he simply began to Moments pass; there are no words to be heard over the Com. With each passing second, the worry on the exhausted start to tremble. The thought of being in that battle… and for what?
 

“Welp. She ain’t gonna answer.” The Rogue closed the Com. He saw the devastation clear as day on Vathelan’s face. The man went totally pale as he started to hyperventilate at the thoughts. The Rogue looked over to the other half-elf. “Don’t mean she be dead, but, well… ain’t usually a good sign. Take him back ta the room. Not much we can do til daybreak.”

 

"We can go to where the major battle was fought."  A pointed look goes to Van, as if chastising the man's lack of tact.  "Would you lend us that comm device?"

 

"Or, yeh could head to the Infirmary. If they find her that will be the first place they take her I guarantee it."

 

Vathelan had lost focus on the conversation around him, falling to his knees as he started to have a panic attack. Emotions made things messy. And Magister Frostwhisper was a wreck. He hunched over as he found himself lost in the shock that was giving way to despair. After all the time he waited… it didn’t matter. They had failed.
 

“Though… but look at ‘em.” Captain Van tilted his head towards the Magister who had lost all composure. “Won’t do anyone any good him being seen like this. Best he get some sleep before we start lookin’ any further. I’ll keep an ear out, let yeh know what I find.”

 

With a sigh, Kirital relented.  "You have a point." Vathelan hd been through much for this.  He needs time to recuperate. "I'll see him back to the room."  The stress of the battle begins to catch up to him as well as he rubbed his nose.  Kneeling down to Vath, Kirital spoke slowly and clearly. "Vathelan, I am going to take you back to the room."  The statement is mostly to test the Magister's coherence as well.

 

The Magister said nothing, requiring getting pulled away to their room, leaving Captain Van alone to his own thoughts as he took out another smoke. Wasn't booze, but it would have to do for now.

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As Pelande passed through the portal, the sights that greeted her were not what a Shal’dorei would consider pleasant. She was underground, in some ancient ruin of a circular room with high ceilings-- it looked like it possibly predated Suramar’s sealing.It all bore the familiar trappings of Suramar’s architecture but had undergone none of the meticulous maintenance. Still, it held together by virtue of its craftsmanship. There wasn’t much in terms of furniture, nor did there seem to be any natural way out.

 

As the portal closed behind her she was trapped. The third time, by her count. Though less than pleased by this, Pelande kept her composure.

 

“You made it.” The Eyeless commander noted, his tone flat. It was hard to get a read on the man. His head canted towards the female that had stood next to him before they departed and gave a simple command--“Pour her a drink.”--and the other Nightborne got to work immediately.

 

Pelande set her spear aside, upright against the nearby wall, and pointedly stepped out of reach of it. A show of trust to accompany the direct inquiry, “What are you?”

 

“A weapon against the Legion.” The Commander motioned towards the table. There were too few chairs to seat all those she had seen at the ambush. In fact there were far too few people in this room. There were dozens during the conflict, now there were but four excluding her.

 

Scanning the room, she took this to be a council of some kind. A marksman, a man in robes next to what looked like a now inactive telemancy beacon, the female who was pouring the drink, and this demonic outlander who was seating himself. For a brief second she became anxious of her unkempt state. But the others seemed either not to notice, or simply didn’t care.

 

“That’s not much of an answer,” she replied, settling into a chair. “but if you don’t want to tell me, that’s fine. You fight them; that’s all that’s important.” The ordeals began to catch up to her-- just the simplicity of sitting down was such a massive relief. Pelande let out a long breath. “So… how do we do it?”

 

“First, you drink.” Before he finished the sentence, a mug of Arcwine was placed before the woman. The timing was eerie for a man who shouldn’t be able to see. “You are worthless to me if you Wither. Where the First Arcanist uses her rebels as an army and to inspire, we are more… specialized.”

 

Pelande swept the cup into her hands and it was at her lips before she knew it. Her eyes opened in shock, but their illumination was already stronger than it’d been in weeks. She looked to the cup and shivered. Had she really just behaved like a starved animal in front of these strangers? Swallowing heavily, Pelande set the emptied cup back down. She tried to shift focus back to the conversation with a shaken laugh. “Extremists, then?”

 

“Some would say so, but those would not understand the nature of war.” The Commander shrugged. “Sometimes a dagger can slip through one's armor with more ease than a sword or hammer. We give the Loyalists pause as they exploit your city, we create those openings the Dusk Lilies need by getting our hands dirty. In turn, by killing those who sell their own to the Legion, we save lives.”

 

Idly, she tapped the side of the cup with her fingernails and let her thoughts run freely off her tongue. “They make me sick, these Shal’dorei that would rather be the kings and queens of ruins than fight. We didn’t survive all this time just to lose Suramar like this. Death is better than they deserve but all we can give them.” She looked to him curiously. There was much she wanted to ask, but wasn’t sure how to. “Does your cause have a name?”

 

“I’ve not seen a point in naming our little group in hopes of keeping us more anonymous. But… the public has deemed otherwise and have named us for the weapons we leave as a warning for those who betray your people to the Legion. We are known as ‘the Ebonfeathers’.”

 

Maela would probably find all this informality uncouth, but Pelande was feeling refreshed by it. After so many millenia, here she was in a new place. Speaking with new people, finding a new path, following a new set of rules... even if she wasn’t sure what they all were yet.

 

It didn’t matter, she said to herself. As long as she was fighting the Legion, the anger that had festered for ten thousand years would find its outlet. She spoke with a smile. “As I said before, my weapon is yours. If you’d have it I would call myself an Ebonfeather.”

 

“Then you are in luck, as we do have an opening.” His tone betrayed no hints as to how genuine he was being. “You made your choice when you stepped through that portal. Before we talk about your first mission; you should know that as one of us, our resources are available to you. This includes wine, our beacon, arms and armor-- tell me what you need and I’ll see to it.”

 

“Some plate and a proper spear is all I could ever want--” She paused, “and, rations of wine, naturally.” This last part was spoke with a touch of shame, quickly masked with a clearing of the throat. “From there just tell me what to skewer… er...” Pelande trailed off, blinking… and then laughed. “...it just occured to me. I don’t know what to call you yet.”

 

“Kal’une Danteur will do for now. As for your mission, you come to us at a critical conjecture. The First Arcanist marched three elven nations worth of armies into Elisande’s trap, including my ‘Brother’ who tried to warn them. This has left the rebellion in shorter numbers than we would prefer, so we will have to supplement for them. And while we don’t have the time to forge you into a weapon such as myself, I know where to find my Illidari brethren. The problem is, we need to get them inside the city undetected.” He motioned for the other woman to take a seat next to their newest recruit. “And that is where the two of you come in. We’re going to locate select targets, and replace them with those designed to Slay rather than Serve.”

 

‘Forge’ her. Did that mean turning her into something as twisted as himself? She didn’t care for the idea, but if he said it wasn’t happening it shouldn’t matter.

 

But assassinating those that had turned their backs on her people? He didn’t have to ask her twice. It was apparent that he was moving his pieces into place. To what exact end, Pelande couldn’t see--she didn’t have much of a mind for planning, and the more she knew the more of a liability she’d be.

 

She’d taken a leap of faith, and now this was the only solid ground left in sight, the only island in the storm. She had to trust in this man. With her bridges burning behind her, it was easier than expected. “Whatever it takes to liberate Suramar, Commander Danteur.”

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Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper would finally wake, though he gave no signs of doing so. He had no notion as to how much time had passed. But what did it matter anyways? He remained curled up in the bed, unwilling to face the day and results of his failures.

 

Kirital knocked out of habit before letting himself in the room.  On the night stand he sets a tray with a biscuit, three sausages, a ham/cheese/pepper omelette, two halves of cantaloupe, and some jam.  "So these are the extras from my meal. I dunno exactly what you like and it's really missing grits, but, hey," Kirital looked at the magister expecting some sign of life.  When none showed, he shook Vath's shoulder gently, but with a firm grip. "Hey. Food?"

 

The Magister was clearly awake, but doesn't particularly  respond. Through his mind he reviewed what he could have done better, how he could have prepared more wisely, and scolded himself constantly for each mistake. If he couldn't even protect his very capable heroes, then what was the point? How could he expect to save the world? He mumbled something before trying to curl himself into a ball even further.

 

"What are you thinking?"  Kirital sat on the end of the bed.  He couldn't resist the sausage and took one to eat.  Taking interest in Vathelan's thoughts, he hoped, could help him out of the metaphorical shell he seemed intent on curling into.

 

"...I'm a fuckup." Vathelan murmured, not one for such language as he kept his back to his companion. He couldn't face anyone today. "All my heroes are now dead, thanks to my negligence."

 

"I wouldn't be so quick to conclusions, Vathelan."  Kirital's voice was quiet, similarly unusual coming from him.  "We didn't think you could handle visiting the infirmary and you're not a fuck-up."  He smiled softly at the Magister of questionable dress; brow creasing up in concern for the man.  "Besides, your wall - " He sighed as a knock cut him off. As he stood into a brief stretch and grunt, the bed lifted back into its original height.  "It worked. I know it did." He closed the door to the bedroom behind him then opened the front door to whomever knocked.

 

Cat stood behind the door wearing an oversized man's shirt and a pair of old pants. Her hair looked damp from a recent shower, and her fading bruises had taken on a greenish color. On her shoulder was a white kitten. Her downcast expression was heightened by the dim glow of her eyes, who's once vibrant bright blue were so faded that they revealed the naturally dark colored eyes underneath. "...I heard you guys were staying here," she said weakly. "Is Vath okay?"

 

Kirital leaned against the door frame and rests a hand on his hip.  The sobriety of his eyes betrayed the jovial smile of his mouth. The battle taxed him, though his worry for Vathelan is evident.  "He's recovering. I'm not sure how many large scale battles he's been in but...How's Dora?"

 

"Uhm.. still sleeping, from what I last saw. She's in the infirmary. Her brother was with her." The kitten on her shoulder batted at Cat's pigtail, but was otherwise ignored. "I think she'll be okay," Cat suggested, her voice lower than usual. "They're taking good care of everyone."

 

"Glad to hear it."  He rested a hand on the side of Cat's arm.  "And hey, I'll tell Vathelan. I don't know if he wants to see anyone just yet."

 

The kitten suddenly saw its chance, and ran up Kirital's arm toward the half-elf's long hair. Cat raised her eyebrows in alarm and reached for her, but it was too late. The white ball of fluff disappeared underneath Kirital's ponytail. "Munchkin!"

 

Kirital froze once the kitten begins exploring the expanse of his neck and upper back.  The occasional twitch from the dagger-like claws threatened to unbalance him. "Excitable."  He jerks at a nip on his ear. "Fella." He tried to snatch the kitten, succeeding only to be met with a face full of claws.  "Gotcha-ahhhh!" All the while he is gentle with the tiny creature.

 

Cat winced at the sight, reaching for Munchkin as swiftly as her grace (which was zero) allowed. Cat stumbled against Kirital instead, prompting Munchkin to leap from his back and make a run for Vathelan. The ungraceful attempt to retrieve the kitten nearly knocked them both over, though one might consider their her body on his somewhat scandalous.  Kirital barked after the kitten, oblivious to it. "Hey! Don't wake Vathelan you fuzzball."

 

As Catalinetta and Kirital fumbled in their attempts to catch the little furball, it took the opportunity to further explore. With little bounding paws it delved further into the temporary lodging, it’s snow white fur quickly disappearing from view as it turned the corner into the bedroom where the Magister refused to rise. With tiny claws the creature bounded and climbed the bed until it found itself beside the man and lay upon him. After a few moments, Vathelan’s hand would rise to greet the little creature, giving a gentle scratch behind the ears.

 

Cat followed Kirital inside, unphased by the brief physical contact. The death knight seemed more or less concerned that Munchkin might bother Vathelan, but she seemed to be doing the opposite. She curled up somewhere between the magister's shoulder and chin to bury her head against the crook of his neck, seeking warmth. The Magister rhythmically stroked the tiny kitten’s head, other than that he remained laying bundled under the sheets.

 

Kirital smiled at the disgruntled, blanket hidden Elf.  "Cat's got some news for you, Vathelan. I'll be outside.  Your food's getting cold." He exited the bedroom and leans against the wall just outside of it.

 

Cat approached Vathelan carefully and sat down next to him on the bed. She put a gentle hand in his shoulder. "..s..sir? Are you.. are you okay?"

 

The man mumbles something in response to Kirital’s announcement. The entirety of the man was hidden from view underneath the sheets. Though that was likely for the best. Before the battle had even started, the man had lost his usual luster. As the woman sat next to him, his motions of affection for the feline had not stopped—though his voice weakly spoke a single word through the cloth. “No.”

 

Cat pet Vathelan as she might have pet the cat. Her voice wasn't as chipper as usual, though she seemed genuinely concerned for the magister. "..I know.. it was a bad day, sir.. but you really did good out there. With the wall. You saved those casters, a-and... only a f-f... f... few c-c... casual... casualties.." The death knight seemed to have a hard time saying the words. "..b-but.. m... most of us s..survived. All of K-kreyen's f..f...family."

 

The hand paused at the mention of the fate of the Arath’dorei family. For a moment nothing more happened; a hesitation. And then slowly the now greasy ebon hair of the Magister poked out of the bundle. Soon thereafter came his fel-stained eyes behind their glasses to peer up at the death knight beside him. His voice somehow more muffled than before as the sheets rested up against his lips. “…All of them?”

 

Cat looked down toward Vathelan's face. She tried to smile reassuringly, but could only offer a nod. "..mm hmm.. b-but... Ari.. Ari d-din't make it.. a-and.. and K... K... Kreyen lost a l..leg."

 

The dark brows of the Magister knitted as he processed the news. And then he began to stir, much to the known chagrin of the poor fuzzy creature that had been resting on him. He murmured an apology to the kitten before fully sitting up, still wrapped in the sheets. “I… see.”

 

Kirital stood in the doorway now, leaning against the frame with his arms folded.  A light hearted smile met Vathelan as he watches and listens. "Morning, blanket slug."

 

Cat reached for Munchkin and held the sleepy kitten to her chest before standing up from the bed. "I was gonna go back to the inf.. infirmary.. some of them are th-there."

 

Moving away from the bed, she finally gave the best smile that she could to Kirital and pat his shoulder. "Take care of him. I'll be around."

 

The Magister moved to stand, the sheet giving way to fully reveal his face. His lips were chapped from dehydration, his lip split and his face covered in grime from the night before. Other than that, he seemed to have gotten off—quite well, considering the reports of the death of one and the loss of limb of another. Both had done him wrong in spite of his goals, but he hadn’t wished them ill will. He started to move towards the door. “I’ll go too. I need to make sure.” The Sheet dragged with him as he made his way towards the door.

 

Kirital remained in the doorway.  "You may wanna reconsider your outfit."  There is a smirk to him. "Also, I'd like for you to at least...something?  You decimated your mana yesterday, which was inspiring granted, but I'm not moving till you down this sausage at least."  He held a plate with two sausages and some biscuits in one hand and a glass of water in the other.

 

“Hm?” He looked over at the mirror and saw how the sheets clung to him. With an ‘Oh Right.’ He takes off the sheets to reveal tattered robes from the chaos of the day before. “…This… won’t do. Not if I’m going to play the part of dignitary.” He ignored the comment about food. He still wasn't hungry.

 

Kirital, at least, set the glass of water down in front of Vathelan with a pointed look as if to insist on consuming it.  Retrieving the food from earlier he idly munched on some of it as he moved to the kitchen. "Whenever you're ready, then."

 

The Magister looked over the robes, taking the glass of water gratefully. His head was starting to pound from from the lack of proper hydration. "Kirital," His voice only able to rise ever so slightly. "The robes or my undershirt? We did fight in a battle... do you think it appropriate I visit looking like this?"

 

Kirital did his best to not giggle or laugh when he suggests going in his wrinkled and ripped attire.  Folding his arms he rubbed his chin and thinks. "A friend of my brother and I conjured clothing sometimes. I'd say an undershirt if you don't have anything to go over it.  It's kinda cold though, which is fine for..." Kirital got an idea. "Here." He took off his jacket and offered it to Vathelan. "Thankfully your build can fill this out a little, but I think it's more appropriate for you to be the more clothed one.  I'm your bodyguard afterall, not a dignitary." He couldn’t keep a grin off his face.

 

"Are you certain that this would not be perceived as... offensive? Not to have proof of my participation of this battle?" His brows furrowed as he takes the jacket. "We fought to defend them. Maybe we can use that as leverage?"

 

"Leverage for what?  You're visiting friends and making sure folks are all right.  You don't need to prove anything." Kirital ran a hand through his hair to put it behind an ear.  "Everyone knows that wall was yours and that it stopped that demon dead in its tracks." He found Vathelan's diplomatic sensibilities cute in this situation and smiled.  "Besides. If something happened to you, I wouldn't be doing my job very well."

 

"Kirital..." Vathelan gave a small frown. "Nothing is ever so simple or easy in my line of work. I... forgive me, I am new to this position. And sometimes I hate it. I am sure they have better diplomats. But I was sent."

 

Kirital rubbed the back of his head and sighs a little.  "That's just my two cents. I just...recommend checking up on people, you know?"  Grappling this line of thinking took a moment. He really didn’t consider his actions and tried to see them from Vathelan's side.  "Though I guess in the future maybe? Bringing up our involvement might seem like we're holding it over them and uh, I really don't think now's the time for that?" A slight embarrassment overcame him from speaking his mind about something not his specialty.  His hand rested on the back of his neck as he blushed.

 

"I... plan on giving them some time to recover. Lady Arath'dorei knows how to contact me. But it needs to be addressed." He looked back into the mirror with a frown. "I have wasted too much time on Sanctuary, we can't afford to waste more."

 

Kirital felt rather disappointed to hear that.  It's not his place to apologize for the guild or anything that's happened, but he could understand some of the frustrations that lingered afterwards.  "Yeah there's a time and place for politics, but tact is equally as important. Who knows? Maybe if you're in need of help, helping here could be a way to get it.  Favor for a favor, you know?" As he spoke he paced about the room, hands behind his head. The sleeveless shirt over his torso thankfully is well fitted. He regarded Vathelan for a moment in thought.

 

“I’m not looking for Favors.” The Magister spoke as he still debated what sort of appearance he should provide for this encounter. He set the coat over his chest as he tries to picture what that would look like, and its implications. “I don’t understand why this is so hard for people to come to terms with. I want nothing more than to do my part to save the world, to fulfill my purpose in Lord-General Visca’s teachings. The Scryers have and are still developing the technology to give the world a fighting chance. We have been preparing for this day… for a long time. But we’re too few in number to stop the Legion ourselves.” He decides against it as he sets the coat down. They would respect him more if he showed his willingness to fight, he decided. The tattered robes would remain. “So we’re looking for an army. Someone we can trust to take the fight to the Legion with our backing and blessings. Someone we are sure will not become a threat to us or our mission later.”

 

Kirital folded his jacket over an arm without a desire to put it back on.  "I mean, it doesn't hurt to be courteous though. You can do both. Besides, it helps to have folks think they owe ya one.  Sure helped me leverage my brother to do things for me." The thought brought up a few memories which bring out a laugh from him.  Throughout the course of the conversation he had yet to make it feel like an argument. He enjoyed the discussion and, if anything, helped him understand Vathelan more.  "I'll ask you more about the Lord-General later, if you'd like?"

 

"He was... a great man." The Magister’s voice got quiet once more, his eyes averting themselves from his reflection. "I cannot express my shame in failing him... or his family." He looks back to his companion. "...Are you ready?"

 

"Yup."  Kirital is as he was during the battle.  Tank-top, cloth bound waist and forearms, loose cloth pants, and heavy boots.  His jacket stays draped over his arm. "I'll be right behind you."

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Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper made his slow march through the wartorn port, his eyes scanned the devastation as he made his way to the Infirmary. The entire area looked as it had been through a hurricane of Shadow and Fel. The winds from the sea helped to illustrate this further. He calculated the estimated property damage against the last numbers he had seen on the market value for resources required-- numbers that had been rising ever higher since this war had began. The gusts buffeted the Magister as he continued his stroll, straining his already damaged and worn attire he had insisted on wearing. To say that the costs accrued from this conflict would be significant was… quite the understatement, potentially insulting even. As he neared the doorstep of the infirmary a particularly strong gale proved rough enough to rip one of the weaker buttons from its place, the robe flapping in the wind as a cloak more than its intended purpose-- revealing the paler grey-blue undershirt that hugged his swimmer’s form.

 

And as he stood at the precipice of the doorway into his destination, he found himself faltering for a moment. Doubts and fear lingered between him and this glimmer of hope. What if Miss Cat was mistaken? What if what he had done wasn’t enough to impress her, making this a waste of everyone’s time while the threat of oblivion loomed over all their heads? His head hung low as he contemplated what he had hoped to achieve. Behind him he could hear Kirital closing the gap. With his eyes closed he took a breath. No, there was still Hope. He had to remind himself, he could help them; that was the very reason he stood here. He only needed to convince them. But that is the problem...

 

“Vathelan?”

 

“I’m fine.” The Magister reopened his eyes, focusing on the door before them as his hand rested on them. No point in lingering, is there? He summoned the courage he required. No, I suppose there isn’t. And he opened the door, inspecting the scene as he entered. Miss Cat sat at one end by her fiance's side, giving a small wave as he walked by, rewarded a small nod in hopes of reassuring her as he continued to scout the area. His first stop being the grey eyed medic. She was certainly elven, though it seemed hard to pin down particularly what kind-- given she had features of both Quel and Kaldorei. But that wasn’t any of his concern; especially not right now. He kept his voice low, both out of respect for those injured she attended to and to hide his weakness as he spoke through cracked and split lips. “Is there anything you need for these people?”

 

“We’re pretty behind on clean linens.” The Medic spoke as she finished changing out the bandages of one of those who had been injured in the battle from the day before. As she looked over him once more she picked up a nearby pitcher and poured a glass of water before handing it to the Magister. “You look parched. Here, take this.”

 

“I’ll see what I can have routed here, either from the Scryers or personally.” He instinctively took what was offered to him. A glass of water? For but a moment he considered protesting that others, such as the patients or the Medic herself, would need it more. But he remembers that just like the Medic, hydration would be something they needed to keep functioning, so that they could help others. So he relents, after taking a drink he speak again. “Thank you. If you have the time, please get me a list-- I’ll pass it on.”

 

As he drank the water, he continued to scan the room. Every detail he could find he tried to pick apart and commit to memory. If the Scryers were to choose the Borrowed Time mercenary company as their champions, they would need to be optimized for the war ahead. But that all quieted down in his head when his eyes finally laid their eyes upon her. Dora Arath’dorei was already out of her cot, instead straddling a chair with her arms slung over the back. Her chin dug into one of her arms as she seemed to skirt the edges of consciousness. A book within her hands threatened to fall loose from her grip and onto the floor. Vath set the glass down as he muttered a polite departing to the Ashen-eyed woman to go to greet the very woman he had sought here, a spring in his step--until he saw who laid in the bed next to her. The psychopathic Orcess that had been allowed to run wild and threatened his life on multiple occasions. Perhaps this is a bad time? He hesitated, his mind devising excuses as to abort this approach. In spite of the water he had consumed, his mouth once more went dry. Get a hold of yourself, Vath. This is the whole reason you came out here… is it not? Attempt to steel himself as he may, when he worked the courage to continue his steps became lighter and far less certain than they once were. When he finally reached her side, despite the mental protests, he choked out two words. “...Lady Arath’dorei?”

 

The chair feet scuffed the floor as she jerked within it. Her disorientation was obvious, it seemed he had taken too long to muster the courage and she had fallen to one of the sides after all. “Oh,” Dora murmured. She hissed at the bite of cold fingertips as she pressed her balms against her lower back in a stretch within her loose linen attire. Afterwards, she regarded Vathelan with remnants of sleep in her eyes, alertness swimming against the current. “Magister-” Her tone more formal, setting the pace of the conversation, “-I’m glad to see you.”

 

“My apologies if I woke you.” The solemn look was distorted by the hint of warmth within the frost mage’s small smile. This would be short lived as his eyes once more caught the image of whom she was visiting. He takes a moment to consider on just how to continue. “...I… was worried you hadn’t made it. I am heartened to see that my subordinate was wrong on this matter. One in my profession is…” he tried to lighten the mood, though he fumbled. “...It is hard to imagine me repeating that phrase.”

 

“I’m fine,” she assures him, likely remembering his mention of not being trained for field work from past conversations. Her eyes try to focus on him, unused to having to look up at the Magister when they talk. They were of similar height. “Minor damage to my legs, so you’ll have to forgive me for staying in my seat.”

 

“I am… relieved to hear you say such.” The tip of his lips surrendered to a small twitch. ‘You’re relieved to hear she was hurt’? How kind of you, Vath. He was stumbling over his words, he knew it. This is why you don’t get emotionally compromised, it makes things messy. He likely seemed to be excessively quiet. Enough. “Shall I take a seat, or…?” His hand hovered over one of the chairs next to the despicable Shokkra Deathrage. “I will try not to take up much of your time.”

 

Dark hair obscured her features before being cascaded to her side. Her back remained hunched for a moment before she unfurled to sit straight within her chair as she mentally shifted gears. Her eyes spotted the figure of Kirital behind the Magister and then a smile floated to the surface as she gestured for him to take a seat beside her. “It’s clearly important to you, Vath. Take however much time you need.”

 

The Magister gave a small nod, his motions were slow and gentle as he sat beside her. He tried to quite his thoughts and emotions as he focused on the task at hand. They may have won here, but this was but the start. “...We have a lot to talk about, Dora. And to try to impress all of it upon you given what surrounds us is, admittedly, unfair.” He took a breath. “So, I am suggesting we do this in stages. The most dire being handed fist. And we shall go from there. Are we in agreement?”

 

The medic from earlier made her way to examine the bandages for the Orcess before them, this was sure to split the attention of the acting Boss of Borrowed Time. Even still as her hands turn in slow revolutions between pinched thumbs and forefingers she responds. “Yes.”

 

“Very well… Good.” He reaffirmed as he reorganized his thoughts, he prioritized them best he could. In spite of his personal needs and desires that nagged at him, he shoved them aside once more in favor of the fate of the world. He tried to ignore the feeling in his stomach that fell to the fear he wouldn’t get another chance-- but he would have to make due. In the grand scheme of things, he was meaningless save what he could provide to the world in this war effort. “I… feel it is prudent that we support you in your reconstruction efforts after this conflict. Were you able to recover Lord-General Rayfeather?”

 

The notebook stilled in her hands, then began once more in the same rhythmic turns. A trench appeared between her brows. “Shan’do… Faelenor is still recovering, but he’s alive.”

 

“That is a relief. I haven’t failed this one entirely then as of yet.” Vathelan considers this approach for another moment. “And for this to work… I am going to need both of you.”

 

It seemed he had her full attention now, though the regard he gave him is peppered with reluctance that nipped at the heels of her curiosity. Her body angled towards him as she shifted in her chair. She slipped her notebook back into her pocket. “Need us both for what, exactly?”

 

“The same reason I came here in the first place.” He paused. He wasn’t being entirely honest with that statement. “That may be slightly misleading.” He corrected. “One of the major reasons I fought in this battle: to save the world.”

 

“You’re talking about the Scryers.”

 

“And Borrowed Time.” He clarified before his eyes cast back upon the ground. He gave a small sigh before he continued. “The war continues, the Legion threat is barely being held back while the world worried over the Emerald Nightmare. To make matters worse, Sanctuary drags their feet in accepting our aide. I have worked tirelessly to try to make this work. Months have gone by, with far too many nights where I collapse out of exhaustion as I keep seeking any logistical advantage to buy us time. But no matter how hard I work, Commander Liene won’t talk to me. So that’s a non-starter. We’re running out of time. Countless are dying needlessly. We have the resources, the technology and the research. But we simply don’t have the numbers.”

 

The healers around them tended to the sick and wounded, the footfalls lead in the direction of their passing. She took in the ambience of her comrades, friends and family in such dire situations. All the while she sat taller within her chair after these moments of silence; which further accentuated the distance between them when she finally spoke. “Magister Frostwhisper. When I sent a response to your letter as acting leader of Borrowed Time, I wrote that now wasn’t the best time. Maybe I should have been a lot more clear.” She pointed in Cobrak’s direction; she didn’t even need look to know where his cot was. “Our current Boss is our priority. My people are my priority. When they’re recovered, then… Then we can talk.”

 

“And if you would hear me out, Lady Arath’dorei,” Magister Frostwhisper gritted his teeth. He would not be stonewalled again, he would not be denied or dismissed. He had secured a retired Scryer tactical agent at great cost to himself for them. He had fought for them. He had faced death for them. He had Made his shot, he refused to throw it away. He was determined to save all of Azeroth, no matter what it cost him. “You would take note that I mentioned offering aide in reconstruction efforts to make sure your people come out on top of this. I can direct this to happen, I can lend support in your time of need. We are not asking you to wade into war Tomorrow. That would be both immoral and tactically unsound.”

 

Before her very eyes, it seemed Vathelan Frostwhisper had underwent a change. He claimed he was not a hero, and yet the lengths the Magister showed he would go for the sake of his beliefs reveal themselves to her. Her mind wandered back to one of their early conversations. In stunned disbelief, she smiled. “I understand.” She bridged the distance between them with her taking hold of his shoulder, scrunching the elegant but tattered fabric of his robe turned cloak. At her touch, the iced demeanor of her friend melted once more. She felt as if she understood him much better now. “Listen, Vath. I’m not saying no to what you’re proposing, but I do have to decline your offer for assistance right now. The company needs to start believing in themselves again. We’ve got too many outsiders here as it is; I’ve had concerns brought to my attention already. It’s bad for morale, to have more strange hands trying to prop us up.”

 

“...What if it came from one of your own?” After a pause he shot back. “I am not looking for favors. I don’t care for any sort of esteem. I gave up on that, in what seems like a lifetime ago.”

 

“Well,” she quirked a corner of her moth, releasing him to fold her arms along the chair back once more. “That’s a bit different, isn’t it? I’m open to whatever you have in--” The conversation was cut short as the Orcess stirred once more. “Vath, look, we’ll take later, just---” the chair clatters to the floor as she clambers out of it, nearly leaping for the cot. “In my office, later,” a hasty assurance, “Just- Shokk…”

 

“I--” As always the Orcess shattered all he worked for. The moment, their planning… gone. He was forced to watch as his first friend in his life, someone he had been willing to go to war for, clung to someone who had tried to kill him on multiple occasions. And like still wanted to. He felt as if his head had leapt from his chest and shattered itself upon the floor. "...Of course." Be barely managed to mumble as he was dismissed, feeling cast aside. He stood, his body felt numb. And he slunk his way out of the infirmary, defeated-- helpless as he heard the women in their reunion behind him.

Edited by Vathelan

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Suramar City was rotting away with unrest, this was undeniable. After the invading armies of the Outlanders had been lost to the might of Grand Magistrix Elisande’s magics, she had become much more ruthless. Deserters were dealt with extreme prejudice, those who remained loyal garnered more affluence to abuse the public with. Just as it was tonight.

 

Here within the canals of the Terrace of Order where a group of Spellblades threatened the life of a suspected Dusk Lily rebel. “Dearest Marquette,” sneered the captain as her phantasmal blade of energy loomed before her victim’s neck. She was flanked by three of her followers upon either side. “I thought we exiled you last time, left to wither away like the miserable little cretin you are. Whatever are you doing in front of us now?”

 

Before the cornered and accused could respond, another Spellblade moved casually toward the gathering and cleared her throat. Azure-tinted white hair was pulled back into a harsh bun. A scowl on her perfectly-painted lips, she looked like a harsh mother that had come across her child doing something she didn’t approve of in the slightest.

“Surely,” Pelande spoke, “you aren’t planning to make a mess.” A snort. “And I don’t just mean for the street cleaners. Interrogations without recording pertinent information? Executions without magistral approval?” She shook her head. “The Grand Magistrix might suspect you have your own agenda.”

 

“Piss off.” The captain of this septet spoke as her eyes inspected the newcomer. Marquette, whom the blade remained pointed on, slowly tried to scoot away upon the floor. “Mind your own patrol, unless you really want a mess made?” As if on cue the flanks started to move to show just how much they meant business.

 

“You’re not alone, P.” The soft voice of the woman garbed in a veiling illusion whispered, “Just remember we need them intact if we’re going to steal their likeness.”

 

The nod she performed passed as acknowledgement to both those in front of her and the unseen elf. She moved her hands into view, but stood her ground. “No need for savagery. I just want to make sure we’re not all bogged down with extra paperwork. I mean, I’d just hate to think all the rumors about you were true, Captain Ludrissra.”

 

“Tsk. You talk too much.” Ludrissra’s attention was now fully upon Pelande, granting Marquette a chance to flee. “Detain our intruder, she’s likely with them.”

 

“Um… P…?”

 

Pelande cursed softly, following up with a quick instruction. “Behind them.”

 

It was very swiftly turning into an unavoidable fight. Pelande hoped Marquette had enough sense to get away while she could, and that her companion had the sense to cut off any that tried to pursue. “Fine, fine.” She said aloud, meandering verbally to buy the rogue the precious seconds she needed. “It’s fine. I’ve never been good at pretending I’m all high and mighty with an ass that smells like roses.”

 

In a singular motion she freed her hair from the bun and took her spear from her back, charging rather than letting them make the first move. It was met with a just-in-time block from her opponent and she was quickly stepping back to avoid an attack from another. As long as she kept their focus, her partner could act freely-- given her strikes were true.

 

Her partner teleported behind their primary target with a small arcane pop, slinging her razor-like blade into the opening upon the Spellblade Captain’s back. As the dagger sunk into Ludrissra’s flesh, Isabaele realized she had missed the spine. This wouldn’t be as quick as either of them wanted, but no matter. The shadow magic that lingered would still prove useful. “What the-- Dammit all!” Screamed the Captain. She pulled away from her attacker, forcing the rogue to relinquish the shadow laden blade that still remained. “Protect me, idiots!”

 

Pelande was busy taking the butt of a polearm to the chin when she heard it, and staggering when she saw the attention of all but one of the group leave her. Her thoughts raced as she wiped away the droplet of blood from her lips, carelessly smearing the heavy makeup. She could probably kill this one on her own. That would leave the rogue to handle the rest. But, Isabaele wasn’t clad in armor that exceeded her own weight, or hardened by millenia of servile labor. The girl was quick, that much was sure, but this was hardly the time to test her. Pelande instead slammed her boot into the street with thunderous force, destabilizing the ground beneath them all.

 

That was enough to make them hesitate at least as they debated which of the duo was the true threat. And that heistation would be their downfall. Isabaele abandoned Captain Ludrissra to the afflictions of the shadow laced dagger, moving with another arcane pop to appear behind one of the more aggressive of the guards. As he raised his glaive to strike, the rogue’s blade found its mark with a flick of her wrist. She nicked one of his arteries, the blood loss would claim his life soon.

 

One of the guards moved rather deftly and sought to cut the rogue off and strike her from below, but she fast found herself on the ground, facefirst, delivered and then skewered there by a sweep and then a piercing blow from Pelande’s spear. A sharp kick freed the weapon from the soon-to-be corpse. She moved her weapon behind her, the bloodied point downwards, inviting the next attack her way, and the smile on her face was more genuine than any she’d given during her failed performance.

 

“Two down.” Isabaele leapt over the body when Pelande was done with it, “And thanks!” Her dagger pointed its shadow-laced tip at the next lackey of the Captain. He blocked. No matter, she was fast enough to correct her trajectory. Sliding under the man’s legs, she kicked at the back of his knees to create her opening for another execution. The blood spraying over her dark leather armor. “Guess that’s three?”

 

A glaive swung at Pelande; she brought her own spear up in a block, and the two began a brief dance. Block, block, parry, block, parry… but as soon as the warrior saw her opening, she took it, twisting her opponent’s weapon right out of her hands and piercing her throat. Now both intruders were making a mess. “Four,” she amusedly shot back, unable to even remember the last time she’d experienced such excitement.

 

“Neat, we’ve hit the halfway mark!” Isabaele dodged a glaive that came down in response of the blood end of the guard’s comrade. Instead the guard maimed the corpse, ruining it for their own uses. “Ooh. Someone’s mad.” Her turn. The thin woman used this opening to send her blade through the soft underside of her attacker’s chin. “No worries! You’ll be with him soon.” A wink, a twist, and then a retrieval of the blade. “Hey P, think you can clean up this last one yourself?”

 

“Yea.”

 

“Thanks, I have a blade to retrieve.”

 

But that last one wasn’t charging, rather he seemed torn between fighting and fleeing, hands tight on his weapons and gaze shifting from Ludrissra (with more fear than concern, Pelande noted) to the attackers. The warrior watched him at the ready. He made a break for it. Her smile wavered; he couldn’t be allowed to leave, and she took no joy in murder. The excitement ended on a morose note as she cut his escape short and silenced his cry before he could give it.

 

Leaving the last of the lackys for her stronger companion, the rogue teleported behind their primary target once more. “Miss me?” She looked down at her prey who was still desperately trying to remove the agonizing blade from her shoulder. The spell was waning, but that didn’t matter. The rogue’s leather glove firmly grasped at the Captain’s jaw to hold her in place, forcing her to look at Pelande with a look of terror as the blade rested upon her neck--a look that was only met by the warrior’s disgust.

 

“...N-no… please…” Her begging was cut short with a simple incision. The blood flowed like a fountain from her severed veins before she was released from the rogue’s grasp. The still bloodied blade returned to its sheath.

 

Pelande ran a messy hand through her hair, looking round as she walked back to Isabaele and Ludrissra, “Could’ve been worse.”

 

“Yeah, the right people are dead and we’re still alive.” Isabaele kneeled before the corpse of Captain Ludrissra as she took out a small pouch from her armor. Her fingers gently went inside and pulled a ring from within before she offered the bag to her companion as her smile continued. “What do you say we wrap up and call this mission a success?”

 

Her adrenaline wearing off, she smeared away more of her itchy, smelly makeup. Multicolored fingers accepted the pouch and gripped it tight. “The sooner the better. I feel stupid.” She gestured to the elaborate armor.

 

“Don’t be like that, you look nice.” Isabaele smiled, looked up at her companion and slipped the ring upon the corpse’s finger. Over the next few moments the magic within the ring absorbed the information needed, “Remember, we can only use those whose bodies are still intact enough for the illusion.”

 

Pelande gazed around at their mess once more. She’d forgotten about that rule some ways into the fray, and it showed. Still, there had to be at least one. After turning over a couple and grimacing she found it; the woman she’d stabbed in the back. She knelt.

 

Of course she had a familiar face. They all did. It wasn’t as if she knew any of their names off the tip of her tongue, but millenia of being a contained community meant there were no strangers among them. She placed the ring on the dead woman’s finger, rose, and began looking for another, idly tapping the pouch against her hip.

 

When the process was complete, Isabaele removed the the ring and set it within another one of her pouches. She stood up and looked up and down the canal. An empty gondola rounded the corner, ripe for capture. The rogue threw a grappling hook to ground it. As she prepared the ritual to commandeer the small boat she looked back at the warrior for a moment. “When you’re done all we have to do is load up the bodies for disposal and get out of here.”

 

“Right,” Pelande replied, setting about the conclusion of their grisly labor.

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Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper couldn’t sleep. This proved another disturbing pattern he seemed to be developing as the war for the very survival of Azeroth itself progressed. With every inaction more people died, the chances at failure exponentially increased—and at times he felt alone in fighting for it. He looked down at the cup he had found within their temporary lodgings; he knew it was a foolish notion. He wasn’t a hero. He knew this.
 

They made it all too clear to him. He bitterly set the glass to his lips once more, allowing the revitalizing fluids from the glass to grace the interior of his form. More and more died as people refused to accept his solution. He was beginning to understand why the late Lord-General had delved into the bottle after the battle which secured his seat in history. A coping mechanism, earned by the blood spilt upon both sides—the cost of being a hero, surely it had earned some perks? Was this is why he was so scorned? Unblooded, Untested. He was not a hero. But the greats were being picked off one by one. Lord Cerryan was likely dead. Lord-General Rayfeather was horribly wounded, he hadn’t gotten any word as to if he would actually be able to continue the good fight. The Shattered Son was missing; his only lead to find him was too preoccupied with her betrothed’s condition. And then there was Dora.

Lady Dora Arath’dorei… where did he begin? Here in these late hours, when his companion was finally slumbering, when he could stop the act of being as if he was well—He took another drink of his iced water as he tried to focus his mind as he chided himself. There was too much to worry over, the fate of an entire world was at stake, and yet he tried to nurse the cracks within his heart. He tried to help them here, he was rejected. He followed her words and example, and still one of his more violent political rivals won her heart.

 

…But that was to be expected. She was a Hero. He was not. He was foolish to think he had a chance, was he not? He was shoved aside, something he should well be used to at this point, and yet— His thoughts would find themselves interrupted by the sound of the knocking at his door. Returned to reality, his spiraling depression interrupted, he opened his eyes to find his forehead resting upon the table. Slowly he raised himself from his seat as his brow quirked, curious as to who would bother him in this late hour.

His question would be answered before the Magister even got the chance to reach the wooden barrier from the outside world, as it opened anyways. From the other side came his lost hire, his missing mercenary. Gone was the hardened leather chassis he was last seen in. In its place was a long leather coat, accompanied with a wide brim hat concealing even more of his face. He gave a small nod as he closed the door behind him; Vathelan couldn’t help but notice he was still armed as the coat flourished ever so slightly in his movements.


“Where have you been?”

“Don’ worry ‘bout it.” The Captain said as he looked over the room. “Jus’ been busy.”

“That doesn’t answer the question.” The Magister shook his head at the attempt to brush off the question.

“Fer yeh? It’ll ‘ave ta do.” He shrugged as he moved passed the young full-blooded elf to take a seat at the table. He eyed the glass with a smirk as he procured a bottle of whiskey from his coat, taking a swig before tossing it at the Magister’s direction. “Yeh look stressed, take a load off.”

Vathelan used a blink spell upon the bottle, returning it to the table before the rogue. It spun as it tried to correct itself from the alteration of momentum. The Magister gave a small sigh as he glared from behind his spectacles as he leaned upon the table. “No, it shall not have to. As such, I’ll ask once again. This time as your employer. Where have you been?”

 

At the insistence from the Magister, the Captain smirked. It made Vathelan uneasy, the singular eye proving hard to read if it was a threat or simple amusement. In spite of the thuggish half-elf only have a couple inches on the Magister, it worked way too much in the accused favor. It didn’t help that the rogue dropped his accent. “…Big words from a man with the lack of experience to back it up. But if we wish to speak of employment, you owe me the second half of my pay—on top of a retainer fee if you should wish to hold that over me. So, for now at least, ‘I have been busy’ will have to do, eh?”

“You will get your money.” The Magister looked towards the sleeping monk, cursing his lack of foresight. He needed to deescalate the situation, this man before him could likely kill him before the slumbering monk even had knowledge of what happened. “…In fact, assuming Lady Arath’dorei agrees to our my proposal, I will be requiring your continued services.”

The Captain grinned as he set his boots upon the table. “I’m listenin’. And how does yer little courtship go with ‘er?”

“That’s… not important. She made another choice.” He shakes his head. Before he can continue his train of thought, he was once again interrupted.

“Yanno… I do Assin—"

 

“No. That won’t be necessary.” Vathelan was quick to respond, his brow rose. He couldn’t help but wonder just who exactly he had hired at this point. “We just… need to convince her that our aide is undeniable. We have the technology, the research, and resources to make this work. But we Need an army. A single blade in the right place doesn’t work here. Even if bombing the entirety of the Isles repelled the enemy, it would just gather the ire of the rest of the world—still ensuring our extinction as a species.”

“Save yer speeches.” The half-elf shrugged. “As long as I git paid, I dun really care. But if yer serious about this…” He procured another item from his coat. A robe iconic of the Scryers, neatly folded and packaged, now presented upon the table. “Go git cleaned up, yeh look like yeh been through the Nether an’ back. Ain’t much a good look fer someone tryin’ ta present ‘imself. Shower, put this on, an’ we’ll go see about gitten this deal here workin’, eh?”

Vathelan looked at the robe, then at the Half-elf, dumbfounded. He slowly nodded before excusing himself to the restroom to get cleaned up. No matter what emotional attachments he had, he had a job to do. He had a world to save; he may as well look the part.

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“All I’m sayin’, Lad, is all work and no play makes Vath a dull boy.” Since the Magister had cleaned up and dressed in robes of his usual uniform—albeit now a size or so too big for him—the Captain had deemed it appropriate to counsel his employer with his ‘worldly advice’. It wasn’t entirely welcome. “Might be why she rejected yeh for another suitor.”
 

“…Thank you, Captain.” He spoke through gritted teeth as they stood before the door to the office, his hand hovered before the door as he gave his employee a pointed look. “But for now, we have a task at hand. Please stay focused.”

Vathelan awaited some sort of rebuttal, which thankfully seemed to not come forward. Instead the Captain nodded, and at this indication of him finally falling into line, Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper knocked upon the door of the office. The meeting could at last begin, and their dealings could proceed.

 

"Enter!"

 

He forced aside the feelings that lingered within as he opened the door, retreating back into the mask of the Magister persona. It mattered not their history, he reminded himself, what mattered was coming to a compromise that would benefit Azeroth. Cleaned and groomed, he looked as a man of his station should. Now he just had to act it. Which was harder as he saw her, adorned in a military uniform. His heart faltered for a mere moment before he redoubled his efforts. When he managed to speak, his voice came out more cold, the distance so palpable that it would concern them both. “Lady Arath’dorei.”

 

“Magister, Captain.” She smiled as she gestured towards the chairs before taking her own behind the desk. “Evening, you two.”

 

“Evenin’, Miss.” The Captain remained in the doorway, respectfully tipping his hat in the Lady’s direction, even if refusing to take the offered seat for the time being.

 

Vathelan hesitated for a moment before finally complying. His voice still carried the clinical tone as he tried to focus on business, not what his heart yearned for. “I am sure you remember why this meeting was scheduled?”

 

“We’re here to talk about resources, or at least the allocation of them.” She nodded in the Captain’s direction before setting her forearms upon the desktop as she leaned in; closing the circle to create a space where it is just them now, where nothing would interfere with the topic at hand. “I explained the kind of situation I’m in, with the developing the morale of the company. We need that now more than ever, but we also certainly could use resources. You sounded like you had a suggestion that would satisfy the both of us.”

 

“Hope is a precious resource, though not finite.” He echoed the same notions he had written to her in recent weeks leading up to this all, his eyes averted for a moment before once again focusing on the matter at hand. “But to do so requires careful cultivation. We spoke of your hesitance to take our aid, as it may damage morale, and I suggested that we may have ways around that-- a few, actually, at least in the eyes of your company.”

 

“Go ahead and lay ‘em out for me, then.” Her dimpled smile threatened to melt his demeanor even now. “I’m listening.”

 

“Either way, it appears to me that we must make the aid acquired to seem as if it comes from an internal source. This will require new perceived origins. For starters, the Arath’dorei and Rayfeather families are well invested into your Company, are they not?”

 

Dora took a moment to respond, the leather of the chair seat stretched as she leaned back a scant inch. “Faelenor is Second in Command. I’m not sure about his reputation among the rest of the company, really. He has a strong network and his name certainly gets around. Amalyn has earned a lot of trust among the ranks as a healer and a person to seek for counsel. As for the Arath’doreis… my mom has been a member for a while now. I know some of our company members look at her as a Veteran. She’s fought in enough battles that she’s earned some clout. She’s MIA, though.” Another pause. She sucked in her bottom lip for a brief moment. “So is Amalyn.”

 

“That… was not my intent. I am sorry to hear about this, and should you wish, I am willing to lend you aide as a personal favor in finding them-- unofficially obviously. Their reputation, should we able to find them, or… if need be, your own, gives  us an opportunity. No one is likely to question such a prestigious family that is well recognized as the leadership for this company in supplying resources you require to get back on your feet.” He paused, allowing her to absorb the offer and to mentally working out a way to address the next part. He knew of at least some of the Scryer financial operations, that which helped fund their missions across both worlds in which they operated. He also knew how it would look to some. “...Furthermore should you, ah, purchase from certain companies-- we can ensure they send you more than you paid for. And then… there is one final route I have devised.”

 

“Okay,” she mumbled as she scribbled something quick within the margin of her day’s logs before her eyes lifted to meet him once more. “And the other route?”

 

Vathelan couldn’t help but stare back into her eyes as they once again made contact, his mind threatening to veer off course into some romantic fantasy. His face turned, giving him a moment away as he addresses the man behind him. “Captain, would you please have a seat?”

 

From behind the Magister the Half-elf Captain watched their display, seeming less interested in their politics than in the body language of the two. He shifted from the door frame, taking little more than a step before came an unceremonious rattling of the office’s door as it swung open. It revealed an elf with raven hair that flowed around his shoulders. His eyes shifted from the acting Boss of Borrowed Time, to the Magister and then to the Half-elf who practically stood at his side and greeted with a cocked brow before calling with a snarky tone, “Is this a bad time? Or should I come back when you do not have a pair of gentlemen callers oh Boss Sister?” He chortles, swaggering his way in with a lackadaisical stride.

 

“In the middle of a serious meeting, Phy.” The sister in question frowned as her gaze shifted from Magister to her brother.

 

The brother’s eyes darted between the three in the room, seeming to measure each in turn as a hand rested upon one of the twin pommels of his deferentially-runed blades at his waist. He moved closer to the desk, aiming for behind the desk and towards the windowsill. “Allriiight…”

 

“The kind where you walk out of the room and lock the door behind you,” Dora adds.

 

The look of shock was obvious upon the young man’s face before it faded as his gaze shifted away and his mouth hard-lined. “Fine.” He managed to mumble out before making good on her order, leaving the room back to their meeting.

 

When the door clicked shut, the signs of sudden weariness were obvious upon the the woman’s expression. She rubbed the back of her neck and took some time to gather herself back into the conversation. “I’m sorry,” she said as she let her hand drop. “You were saying?”

 

“Ah… so that was the Phyruss you spoke of when we met.” Vathelan gave a small smile, both to reassure her and at the memories of that night played within his head.

 

“Yeah, my brother. He’s- I wish you’d meet him at a better time. He’s very sweet, and really clever…” The moment hung for both of them, it seemed.

 

That which was shattered as Captain Van cleared his throat behind them. “...But back to business?”

 

Her quill raised again at the suggestion. “Okay, so we were discussing various routes to take for this supply. Using family reputations is one idea. What was the other you were going to suggest?”

 

“Yes. We discussed utilizing your and the listed family’s reputation to remove doubt, or using certain companies in order to to maximize your resource gains-- the final is a new recruit.” He motioned once more to the Captain, giving him the floor.

 

“I was contracted by yeh, ‘is contract is offically over.” He eyed the Magister before looking back at the his potential new boss. “Buy me out. I’ve got a bit ‘o history wit’... shall we say ‘requisitions’, yer boss man will be sure to find that. So I’ll just be deliverin’ on that by hittin’ up the ol’ business, from teh look o’ it… it’ll be part as me o’ membership, aye?”

 

“It’s a thought,” she conceded, “But if you’re suggesting that we have one new recruit provide a substantial amount of provisions, enough to make an impact on an entire company, it might raise some suspicions. I don’t think it could hurt to… maybe have a balance of the suggestions. Have sources trickle in from various outlets. As long as we don’t have any more strangers to prop us up, no one loses face.” She looked at the both of the men. Vathelan seemed as serious as always when it came to work; the Captain merely shrugged. “We can sign you on, Captain Vanderzee. And I’ll talk to some of our suppliers to clear the new source of shipments. But,” she notified the pair, “If anyone asks, I’ll be transparent about where the supplies are coming from.”

 

 

“I would have to agree with you that, yes, it would be wise not to use one avenue exclusively. Nor will we be granting everything in one massive sum as to avoid such suspicions, if it pleases you.” Magister Frostwhisper gave a small diplomatic nod. “If you wish to reveal your source should you be asked, well, that is your prerogative. With the current plan in place, we will have to resort to supplying you with resources alone, unfortunately, but… it should be enough to get you back upon your feet and ready for what is to come.”

 

“Great, am I keepin’ the room we’ve been stayin’ in… or…?”

 

“If you’re settled there already, I don’t see why not.” She addressed the Captain with a little amused grin. “Unless there’s a problem with it?”

 

“Ain’t ever really settled anywhere.” The Captain returned his most fetching grin. “But I can move in, soon as teh roommates take their leave.”

 

“Now… what I ask in return is, relatively simple. We are fine remaining anonymous, all we ask is once you are recovered and supplied that you take the fight to the Legion. They threaten us all. And… should they find out we were behind your supply, you paint a favorable picture for us as to keep your company on the right path and keep them open to continuing to accept our donations and perhaps even greater boons in the future. We’re in the business of defending and preserving our people, I would like to think that saving the world would fall under that.”

 

“Right. Look,” she sighed. “I’m glad we have some terms that we can come to that look agreeable on paper. Here’s the thing. The actual Boss needs to sign off on this. The only precedent we have for decision making and extreme shifts of power like this was when my… when my dad left. He was declared KIA, and that was it. Cobrak took over. But Cobrak is alive and here, just not… responsive yet.” She swayed forward, her eyes held an ernest approach to them. This was much more pleasant than any conversations he had with Commander Laine in terms of Sanctuary accepting Scryer Aid. “All I can promise right now is that when Faelenor and Cobrak wake up, I’ll present your case to the both of them. If it’s from me, they’ll hear me out. I know that much.”

 

“That is all I can hope for then, Dora.” Vathelan smiled, “the Legion is a threat to us all. He would be a fool not to see this. We are not asking for an official allegiance should he not trust us, we are simply trying to enable the right organizations to be the most effective against a threat that seeks total annihilation of all life. As for Lord-General Rayfeather of a branch of the Scryers, when he wakes… I would like to speak to him. But that is neither here nor there at current.”

 

“I’ll notify you as soon as I can, when Faelenor wakes up.”

 

“That should help this partnership in… considerable measures.” The smile lingered, only to falter when he looked back at his employee. One that was going to set him back more than he cared to entertain the thought of. Even a Magister’s salary was far from unlimited. Even still he forced his smile to  return as he addressed the Captain. “ Congratulations, consider yourself hired on a full time salary.”

 

All he was rewarded for his efforts was a noncommittal grunt.

 

Well, that certainly wasn’t encouraging. Vathelan tried to push that thought aside, however, “Anything else, Dora?”

 

She shook her head. Some of her long, luscious, locks spilled down her front. He was reminded of statues of a certain goddess that he had seen in Reliquary files. “Nothing business-wise. I wonder how you’re holding up.”

 

“Pardon?” He raised a brow, taken by surprise. A moment of recovery, and then he looked back at the Captain. Who was smiling at him. “Should… we have some privacy?”

 

“Hah, well- I guess this is a sort of sensitive topic. Uhm,” her smile at the captain may have been hard to decipher for Vathelan. But Vanderzee knew what it meant. “For a few moments, I guess.”

 

“Then you are dismissed, Captain.” Vathelan mimicked the tone of a military official, though he was uncertain who he may have fooled within the room as his gaze returned to the lovely woman before him. There was a clouded uncertainty upon his face, tempered by the struggling mask of the professional he tried to hide behind. So many conflicting emotions, and here he worried they may finally be addressed-- for better or worse.

 

“Yeah, I could stand a smoke.” The Captain nodded as he raised from his seat, his singlar eye wandered to both of them with a knowing smile before he made his way towards the exit of the room. He stopped before opening the door as he gave a sidelong glance back at the two. “Yeh kids ‘ave fun now, we’ll worry about tha paperwork later.” And with that, he left before either had a chance to retort.

Edited by Vathelan

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For a brief moment, one that felt longer than it truly lasted, there was a silence that fell between the two people that remained within this office. The sigh from Dora as she sunk within the chair that was too big for her was all that was heard as seconds ticked in what felt like minutes. Vathelan cast his gaze away, uncertain if it was really wise to bring up something so meaningless. He pondered if this was truly a mistake-- but that train of thought was shattered when she once again broke the silence.

 

“Right!” She clapped, drawing his attention back to reality as she jolted in her seat. The act of that of the Boss of Borrowed Time was no more, instead sat before him was the woman he admired once more. “So, Vath- that was your first big battle, huh? How are you doing?”

 

“I suppose… that would be accurate.” He couldn’t look directly at her still, the melancholy was far too apparent. If his voice or gaze didn’t give it away, he was sure his ears did. Even still he tried to press on. “...I will continue to do what I must to save this world, even if that requires me to use a more hands-on approach. Dora…” Here it goes. He inwardly braced himself for what was to come as he took a breath, though the frosted exterior from earlier melted away. “...I thought I lost you. I thought-- I thought Hope had been lost.” His head turned away now, leaving her to study the burn of color upon his cheeks. “...All before…” He left the words linger, not daring to finish that sentence.

 

“There’s always that risk of losing people in war. It doesn’t get any easier when you do lose them. It just hurts differently.”

 

“And that is what I am here to do, Dora. To reduce the risk for your people.” His voice surged with another desperate determination. These two sentences were declarations as he tried to stay focused,  the next part served as an attempt to reassure them both in the face of the danger. “I… will endure. Until the end. For you, for the Lord-General.”

 

“...Maybe find a reason to endure for more than just your ideals.” It took her a moment to word her concern, his notable lack of self preservation. “Look around you, Vath. We’re more than just our dreams. There’s an entire present that’s happening around you. Stop and embrace it every once in a while, okay? Promise?”

 

“A present I have no future in.” All Vathelan could muster was a sad smile as he shook his head. “I wish I could make such promises, but, I understand the harsh reality before us. This will not end well for me in the end. I knew this, and I still acted-- I had to. As consequence, I’m well aware that I’m running out of time. I’m not a hero. Far from it.”

 

They have had this conversation in the past, on Heroism and the philosophy regarding the concept. And a repeat of it loomed above the duo, until it was cast aside. “Time will tell. Life’s going to keep testing all of us.” She shrugged as she stood and rounded the desk. “Thanks, though. For being there when you could have taken a step back.”

 

“We both know I couldn’t do that.” Was his retort as he stood.“...Not while you were in danger. You’re far too valuable, both professionally and in personal terms.”

 

She paused as she was, caught in the motion of preparing to escort him to the door. Instead she peered at the Magister, in the robes that are just slightly too big for his frame and the little quirk of the corner of his mouth. “Right.” She laughed, her feet taking her back near his chair. “I think your negotiations with the Boss of Borrowed Time would look very different without me.” Her hands slipped into the pockets of her trousers. “As for- personal… well. I’m a bit lost, still, when things get more complicated.” A pause. “Really terrible at that, actually. And, alright, to be honest, a bit exhausted by it all? Not- not really in the business of bothering with it.”

 

“I see…” His face kept that same melancholy smile from earlier, as if the rejection hadn’t come as a surprise. “I’m not particularly… familiar with these types of scenarios either. I do not want to cause any additional stressors to your situation here, nor do I… expect anything to come from this. Dora, I’m a commoner, I don’t own an acre of land, a troop to command nor an ounce of fame to my name. I’m not a hero-- how could I ever think you would…?” He sighed as he shook his head.

 

“Vath… if you knew me, you’d know that none of that stuff matters much.” She unfolded herself from the unsure, hunched figure she had bent into while she tentatively smiled in his direction. “I don’t need money, or- or a legacy. But, I could use friends. And that’s… you know, enough for me right now.”

 

“I figured, but this is the reality of the situation. I will remain your friend so long as you will have me… but would you please forgive me for this selfish indulgence?”  His green eyes behind his glasses look at her as he summoned the courage to continue when she made no objections. “I’ve been hated my entire life, and I expect it to continue well after my short bitter life comes to an end. No matter what I have done, it has always the wrong decision. And-- I digress.” He shook his head as he offered his hand in a similar fashion upon the night before the battle. It lingered as she hesitates. Until she at last took it, though timid in her action. His hand wraps around her in hopes of reassurance before he continued this one time indulgence. “I want to, first, thank you for being my first friend in this miserable word. And I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that, I don’t want you to feel pressured by my actions… I… I want to be worthy of your trust. And for that to happen, I feel I should be completely honest. Or as honest as my profession allows, at least.” He talked, keeping best as he could to his train of thought as the words finally flow. “...I love you, Dora Arath’dorei. I tell you this, not because I expect you to love me back. Not because I want something from you. No. I say this… I say this because I loathe the idea of holding onto this. To regret every word I never said while I had the chance.”

 

Dora gaped at the confession, surreal as her hand remained still within his. “I-” She attempted, only to trip on her own words and thoughts. For once since he had known her, she seems stunned and wordless.

 

“...But, as I said, I don’t expect you to reciprocate such a notion.” He gave a small shrug as he offered a reassuring smile as he fought against the urge to avert his eyes in embarrassment. “...I simply figured that I should say it. While I have my chance. Before the consequences of my actions catch up to me.”

 

“Wait,” she blurted. “What consequences? What actions?”

 

“All of them.” His smile faded, a grim expression took its place. “There are things I have done, more of which I shall do. And I am… pardon the expression… living on borrowed time. Someone such as myself ‘playing hero’? ...Well…” He forced a laugh, it was hollow. His caressing grasp of his hands loosened in spite of his attempt to hide his fear. “It never ends well. If I’m lucky to survive this war, then I’m sure my court martial will finish me off. But, if I can save the world, if I can save you… then it’ll be worth it.”

 

“You’re expecting me to listen to all that and take a step back?” Where his grasp may have loosened, she now gripped at his hand like an anchor. “I let you walk into a fight where the odds were stacked against us, heavily, but I did that because I knew if I was in your position I wouldn’t have taken no for an answer! Vath, you can’t expect me to just let you march into whatever it is you’re up against without telling me what’s going on!”

 

“I wish it were that simple…” The Magister lowered his head, both flattered at her passion for him and shamed in how right she was in how unfair this seemed. “What’s most important is saving Azeroth right now. It’s better you don’t know, not before I have a plan at least.”

 

“How long are you going to keep me in the dark?” She insisted, her form looming into his space. “How many times am I going to be side-stepped before you can give me an answer, Vathelan? Because this isn’t the first time you’ve brushed me off.”

 

“It’s the nature of working with classified infor…” His tone started off defeated at first as his eyes found themselves planted upon where their hands met, unable to look her in the face as the guilt was eating at him. Then he noticed a seemingly meaningless detail to the untrained eye, but important to those who knew the significance: his cufflinks were missing from his person. His brows knit at this detail, did this mean he really could speak freely? Maybe more so than he usually would given his need for subterfuge against his own organization. “...A lot is going on, and more still. Do you remember what I told you I did fun on our first outing? After the hunting trip?”

 

“You worked for fun,” she sighed as she released him to slouch into a backwards lean with the desk lip hitting her hip. Her impatience leaked within her words as he strained her limits, her arms folded across her chest. “Read articles, right?”

 

“Yes.” He had to weigh his word choice, even if he could trust her. Even if he couldn’t be spied on through his cufflinks, who knew what other ways they could discover what he divulged? “...I’ve read articles I shouldn’t have been able to. My security clearance in terms of information is, well, higher than it should be expected given my position.”

 

“You flagrantly disobeyed the hierarchy.” Worried for her friend as she may be, she couldn’t help but crack an amused smile. “Spirits, but this is why I don’t mess with the bureaucracy of organizations like the Scryers. Would do my head right in, and I’ve got an awful poker face.”

 

“I… know things I shouldn’t.” How he envied her levity, that bright light in these darkest nights. “We knew the Legion would return someday, and we have been preparing for it. We’ve developed things for such a scenario. And… I was on one of these projects, before I was sent to Sanctuary.”

 

That got her attention. “So what happened?”

 

“He escaped.”

 

He could see the vague intel he had just divulged work its way into her expression, that realization of the implications exonerating him--at least partially--in his dodginess in telling her exactly what was wrong, what he had done. How it would paint a target on her back. “And you can’t find him.”

 

“...I helped facilitate his escape.” Vathelan shifted to take his place beside her, leaning on the desk as he tried to figure out how much he could feed her in terms of information. “Admittedly, I didn’t think she’d actually be able to cause it… but…”

 

“Before we start needing to label persons A and B, I need to know why you felt you had to release a- a ‘Project’ into the world without authorization. What were your justifications?”

 

“...Because of whom he is.” Vathelan looked back at the door, feelings of discomfort and outrage waring within his chest. His voice got heated as he tried to explain his reasonings, while not disclosing the identity on the man.“The Legion is here, at our very doorsteps, and they didn’t even want to use him. So I forced their hand. When I did that they wanted to hinder him. They’re risking… everything. He may very well be our best hope, we should be supporting him. Not chaining him down so he can’t do what needs to be done to bring about our salvation.”

 

“...alright. Okay. Okay okay.” Dora reached up to scrub furiously at her hair, her shaggy black mane that she tosses back with a hint of the Wild in her. “Okay. The second,” she pivoted in his direction, her finger pointed like a gun. “The moment I can help, you’re gonna call me. I mean it. Private channel on my comm. No excuses. You’ve given me probably way more than you should have, and I’m not going to ask anymore, but promise that when you have a plan you fill me in.”

 

“As much as I loathe the idea of putting you in danger of my actions… you may very well be right. This might be too big for me to do alone.” He sighed. “I am working on a plan, and I do have a lead on how to find him. I’m sending Her back where he said they would beet. The problem is… this is extremely delicate. I have to use the utmost subtly, lest I get all of us caught. If that happens, they’ll probably just sedate him again. And as for me… I’ll be…” In a fate worse than death. He swallowed air, unable to finish the sentence. He knew what happened to traitors. It would be as if he had never existed.

 

“Then don’t get caught. Do what you have to, and when the time is right, you’ll seek me out.”

 

“Of course.” Vath nodded, a hint of a smile gracing his features only to vanish as the threats of the past once more began to echo through his mind. If things went sour, which was most likely the probable course of action, he was going to put her directly within harm’s way. Was he really okay with this?

 

“Okay,” she repeated as her finger lowered. Again, a little softer. “Okay. We’ll get it figured out. Just… try to get some sleep, alright? And send Captain Vanderzee into my office in the morning to go over his contract.”

 

Could he really do this to her? She wanted to get closer, not minding to see the first hints of his sins-- of his shame, and the threat he posed to those who dared get close to him. And yet she remained as loyal and steadfast as ever, wanting to help. Was it not fair to let her in on his suicide of a crusade? He stood upright and headed for the door. He wasn’t sure this was a promise he could keep. Even still he smiled back at her. “...You know, you really should visit me in Shattrath one of these days.”

 

She returned the smile, a very glad one at that. “When things calm down here, I...I can probably get away. Be nice to finally see that memorabilia collection you’re so proud of.”

 

“I would love to show you, there’s a lot of history there. Assuming things ever calm down enough to allow it.” He stretched the smile into the biggest, most winning look he could muster over his shoulder before exiting into the moonlit port. When the door closed, his facade finally broke. Raeventus’s voice echoed through his mind as his pulse began to race, his body threatening to keel over in a panic attack all the way back to the apartment. He would barely manage it.

 

 

 

“Where you have treaded, death will follow. I will burn down the entirety of House Visca: His wife, son, brothers and niece… all of them will pay for your trespass. I will erase Sanctuary from existence. I will bomb Dalaran out of the sky, I will return their last bastion of hope in Orgrimmar back to the ashes from whence it raised from. I will imprison your little friend… the Arath’dorei girl, she will learn the truth of you, she will learn why she will be brought to her fate was because you couldn’t keep your mouth shut. And then you will Beg me to end your life, what I will do to you once I am done will become a merciful killing, have I made myself clear?”

Edited by Vathelan

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 A ‘leaked tip’ and a couple of bribed civilians had lead to this moment in the final hours of the night. Two women stood in the Evermoon Commons alleyway amongst the corpses of several patrols of Nightwatch guards that lay where they had been cut down. The Nightwatch had thought themselves the ones laying the trap for those who dared ply their trade in contraband of Arcwine rations--instead they found themselves the prey, mere fodder some grander design by the enigmatic Commander Kal’une Danteur of the Ebonfeathers.

Pelande Aijatar ran a torn scrap of cloth over the end of her spear and then tossed it to the ground, avoiding letting her gaze linger too long on the faces of the dead. Focus was key; she couldn’t let conflicting feelings get in the way.

In youth she’d seen the guard as some unshakable force and somewhat aspired to them. Now fear and chaos were getting the better of them as the city descended into further disarray. Unrefined blade strokes, rushed and weak defense, topped off with sudden and unclear orders from the officers: a formula for a messy counter-attack that ultimately failed.

Pelande made one more vigilant scan of their surroundings before looking to her mission partner to see how she was faring. Her partner that was cleaning her blade, seemingly taking the lectures she received from the previous missions to heart. 

And then she froze as her eyes locked onto an intruder of their little operation.

For a moment there was silence as the man looked on at horror of the carnage the two women created. Isabaele watched the man intently, waiting to see his reaction. When he screamed for the other guards as he bolted in the opposite direction, she gave an audible sigh. “Damn.” Her soft voice conflicting with the swear. “I’ll take care of the Crier.” And with that there was the familiar arcane pop as she began her chase.

Pelande raised a brow at the swear almost imperceptibly, noting how Isabaele’s tone never seemed to match her words when these happened, and gave her a silent nod of confirmation. She didn’t have to understand this strange woman to find her reliable.

Reliable, and quick. From the sound of it, the man had hardly rounded the corner when Pelande’s compariot caught up to him with a crash that silenced his cries for help. Then the pool of blood leaked within her view. 

“Stop in the name of the Grand Magistrix, Murderer!” Commanded a new voice. 

This was quickly followed by the reappearance of Isabaele popping into existence. “...That didn’t go as cleanly as I like.” ...So perhaps not as reliable. The girl sprinted to grab Pelande’s hand. “We got company! Run!”

Pelande quickly obliged, letting out a an audible sigh for no other reason than to let Isabaele hear her disappointment. Perhaps if she wasn’t so eager and using her little arcane teleport she would be able to scout out a situation rather than just appearing in the middle of it? Pelande tucked that little note away in the back of her mind to bring up later, when things weren’t quite so chaotic.

“Don’t worry, P, we got this!” The smaller woman looked back at her as they sprinted down the alleyway as another patrol of the Duskwatch turned the corner in pursuit, spotting their fallen comrades. 

“Rebels! Sound the alarms, don’t let them get away!”

“Shit. Shit. Shit.” Isabaele stuck her left hand to her ear, her index and middle finger pointing to the sky as her thumb created a right angle. “Things got kinda hairy out here, we could use some help, M!”

A pause. And then Isabaele nodded before looking back at Pelande. “This way!” With a yank she pulled the the warrior down another connecting alleyway that lead into another street where familiar faces stood awaiting them. Captain Ludrissra and her cohorts, fully armed with weapons drawn.

This was too absurd, Pelande thought to herself. Why was this woman latched onto her wrist leading her like an excited child dragging her poor exhausted mother into the Darkmoon Faire? And telling her not to be worried when she was being so jumpy? But wrenching herself free would cost them precious seconds and distance so along she went. 

There was an instant of cold shock when she saw what awaited them until reason took over, and she remembered. 
“Looks like you bit off more than you could chew; a rookie mistake.” The Slayer that wore Ludrissra’s face commented before rolling her head in command of the others. She sounded eerily so much like her. “Get out of sight. We’ll take it from here.”

“Right! This way, P!” The Rogue pulled at Pelande’s arm once more as they ducked behind some foliage before their surroundings swallowed them in illusion to censor them away from the world. All they could do now is wait as the shouts down the street got louder as their pursuers approached ever closer, and hope that placing their fates in this false-faced Ludrissra would prove fruitful rather than foolhardy.

With the concealment in place, Pelande let herself lean against the wall behind them, watching through the veil of leaves. She forced her breathing to slow. Part of her wanted to laugh. ‘Rookie’ was a wonderful understatement, she thought as she dragged a hand through her messy hair. 

Pelande eyed Isabaele, who was fixated on the scene about to unfold before them. Even with their successes under their belts she knew so little about her, and Pelande herself had been so guarded, perhaps that was damaging their teamwork.

“Captain! Did you see two women run this way?” Called out the leader of the pack of Duskwatch that were hot on their trails. “They’re suspected rebels that set up an ambush in the Illicit Arcwine sting.”

“And you let them out of your sight?” Scoffed Ludrissra as she turned to her comrades. “Imbeciles!”

“Well-- I--”

“No matter. Let’s find your runaways before the Grandmagistrix’s court gets wind of your blunder. Volroux, you take the right, we’ll take the left.” 

“Y-yes ma’am!”

Ludrissra shot a single glance at the duo that hid under illusion before casting her eyes up towards the crowds. “Let’s hope we find them before it rains. Weather has been unpredictable since the fall.”

After the crowd cleared, being lead on their fool’s errand of a chase, Isabaele finally let out a breath that she had been holding in. “...That was more exciting than I hoped…” As the illusion faded the rogue went about tying a cord to one of her oddly shaped daggers. “You okay, P?”

"Exciting, I'll give you." Pelande pulled herself up but remained against the wall, idly rolling her shoulder. It was the arm Isabaele had dragged her by. Nevertheless there was a wry little smile on her face. "I'm starting to think we need some work, or we're going to run dry on luck eventually."

“You’re probably right.” Isabaele’s soft voice little more than a sad coo as she tested the strength of the knot that was tied  to the circular handle of the blade. “We probably wasted all those lives because that man stumbled on our work. Do you have any suggestions?”

After a little hum of thought, "It seems like... we're both used to fighting alone." It seemed ridiculously obvious once she'd said it, and she fell quiet. A handful of instances came flashing into her mind; the two of them nearly tripping over each other in close quarters, blowing each other's cover, or a weapon swing getting too close for comfort.

Isabaele threw the dagger upward, allowing it to entangle itself in the overhand of the roof above. “I guess you’re right. I was trained by solo fighters as well… so it makes sense.” She tugged on the cord to test how well their anchor held. “Want to do some drills or something when we get back?”

"That's a start." Pelande reached out, giving it a test of her own, only seeming satisfied once she'd done so. "Or we could ask the one who made us a team. I mean, maybe he sees something we don't."

“He sees a lot we don’t. The problem is getting him to actually tell us about it.” Isabaele sighed, oddly negative in terms of the leadership she seemed to have dedicated her life to for as long as Pelande had known her. Then she began her climb up the rope towards the sky.

“If we work better as a team, the higher the success rate, the lower the long-term cost.” Pelande climbed along, almost speaking of him as a client on a building project rather than a superior. “I should hope he has enough sense to know that after investing so much in us.”

“You can give it a try, but sometimes I think he’s playing a different game than we are. Like he’s testing us for something else than the liberation of our city. Guess it doesn’t hurt… but… He’s not like his brother…” Isabaele spoke in between pulls upwards. “...Sin wanted to empower us in our fight against the Legion and our oppressors. He spoke from a place of empathy, like he had seen this before.”

Something else? “What else is there besides fighting the Legion?" Pelande seemed genuinely puzzled. It reflected how little she'd seen of the outside world since their city was sealed; it had drastically narrowed her scope of thinking. "What else could possibly matter when They are on our doorstep?"

“I don’t know.” Her compatriot admitted. As the two women reached the summit of the roof of the building they scaled, the Concourse of Destiny greeted them in the foreground. And with it did the Three Armies that had marched onto the Nighthold, lost to time by Elisande’s mighty power. The bulk of the army was to their far right, the Generals to their far left as they led what was supposed to be a glorious march of unity between the relatives of the Nightborne. And in the middle stood a lone warrior in mid stride to reach them. Isabaele had gone silent.

It was one thing to know of the events that had taken place on the Concourse; it was another entirely to see it in person. Once one was over the initial shock of seeing all these soldiers and their leaders frozen in place, however, an eeriness settled in. It brought to mind many of the homes and gardens Pelande had built for people more important than herself, the lifelike statues they would adorn their properties with, whose cold stares unsettled her. Her partner was fixated on one, so she drew closer with caution, as if she feared a loud noise would shatter the whole lot of them like glass.

“...We were there, you know.” Her partner’s voice soft as an evening breeze. “Sin… he was so proud of them. He said that in spite of their rocky histories, they were making a new future for us…”

'In exchange for what?' was what Pelande wondered, but she kept that to herself, instead musing aloud that: "We were all the same, once."

“Once, yes.” Isabaele ripped her eyes of the middle man for a mere moment to retrieve her strange dagger, only to return them as she worked on the knot of cord that remained attached to it. “And perhaps, one day, we can get over our differences and become the same once more. I think… Commander Sin dreams of this, for us to remember the strength we can find in Unity.”

She wasn't afraid to voice this doubt. "Things are too diffaerent now. I don't think it'll ever be like that again, and maybe that's okay." Her tone turned thoughtful. "Just because we were all one People doesn't mean things were great."

“You don’t think so?” The doubt made her comrade frown as she canted her head, eyes still watching the scene before them. “Maybe you’re right, but I think it’s a lovely dream. Better than being cooped up in a Bubble, don’t you think?

"Before I lived in an actual bubble, I lived in a different sort of one." She cracked a smile, crossing her arms across her chest. "My missions with you have been my first taste of life outside of some kind of isolation and I gotta say, I do prefer this." 

“I like that you’ve joined us too.” A smile formed upon her lips. “...Have you thought about what you want to do when the war is over?”

"Nope," Pelande freely admitted, shrugging, but then she paused. "...well..." She tilted her head to the side, ponderous, contemplating whether or not to go on. Ultimately she threw caution to the wind. "I want to see Azeroth. Outsiders talk about such amazing places and I've been stuck here seeing the same sights for ten thousand years. Makes me feel like I need to make up for lost time, you know?"

“Could be fun!” Isabaele cheered on the warrior as she actually talked about herself for once. Her attention diverted for the meantime. “...Whoah, are you really ten thousand years old?”

She'd gotten this sort of reaction before, usually out of younger work crew on her building sites, so she treated it with the same bemused smile as she usually did. "I don't show it, do I?" she teased. "But, yes. More so, actually. I didn't originally live here. I got sealed in when they put the barrier up, so, it became Home."

“Crazy…” Isabaele stared in awe of her elder. “All I knew before the Ebonfeathers picked me up was a single manor… any ideas on what place you want to see first? I’m thinking Silvermoon.”

A single manor--well, that sounded familiar. Pelande tucked that away to address later. 

"The more fantastical the better. I don't remember place names, but I know the stories: a Titan city in the north, a forest full of faerie dragons, and an underground city built by Dwarves.”

“It sounds like you got a lot of travelling ahead of you. How are you going to get there?”

"However most people do it, I would think. So what are you going to do?"

“Promise you won’t laugh?”

There was an uncomfortably long silence. Quietly, Pelande clenched her thumb. "Yes."

Isabaele nodded once the promise was made, seemingly unphased by the passing of time. “I’m going to marry him.” Her soft voice lacked any sense of irony. She raised her gloved hand, a single finger pointing to the center of the Concourse of Destiny where the singular man frozen in place as he desperately tried to reach the generals at the front. “He saved me from my old life, gave me direction and purpose… he even showed me how to fight. Before him, I was nothing. With him, I will become a proper Lady. We’ll save all the Elven peoples together, for a brighter tomorrow.”

The slight pop was masked by the totally casual movement of Pelande's metal-clad heel. After blinking and using her loose hand to tuck some windward hair behind her ear, running the line through her mind over and over to make sure she had it all correct, she very slowly nodded, her gaze moving to the figure Isabaele pointed out.

"I... see."

Was her partner unstable, or was this the new normal? Pelande decided she had no standard to measure it all by yet, so she reserved judgement. It didn't involve her, right? 

So no need to worry. Right?

"Can I give you a piece of advice?"

“Of course, P, I’m sure you have a lot of experience in the ten thousand years you’ve been around!” As always, the younger rogue looked back at Pelande, her soft spoken voice as warm and inviting as always.

There was a nearly undetectable rise of one brow; she couldn't decide whether that jarring feeling had been from the perceived sarcasm from her partner, or her own insecurity rearing its ugly head, but it didn't matter.

"Never invest all your resources and materials into one project. Always have extras on hand. What if the contractor decides not to pay you? If they decide they don't like the work you did and force you to do more for free?"

Pelande was rewarded with a tilt of the girl’s head as she considered the words. “...Okay…” Isabaele’s tone was as gentle as always, making it hard to read if she had truly understand the words of advice given or not. But before it could be pondered upon, the girl changed the subject. “...The alarm bells seem to have stopped. Ready to go home?”

That was Home now, Pelande supposed, and she answered with a nod. "Yea, I am. I want some wine."

Isabaele nodded before she made the same motion she had earlier in the day. Her hand came to rest parallel with her ear, index and middle finger pointed towards the sky and the thumb at a ninety degree angle. A small light shimmered within her palm. “M, we’re ready. Take us home.” In response a portal of similar shimmering light appeared beside them upon the roof. Isabaele nodded at her partner and motioned towards it as she stole one more look longfully at the Concourse. “We’ll see each other again soon, my prince. I promise.”
 

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Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper had taken little to no time to savor his recent victories; neither that of stopping the Mad Illidari or leveraging his influence to install one of his personal agents within their ranks. The rebuilding efforts were already proving costly in terms of supplies and in time estimates. Nothing could be done about this, clearly, but the Legion wasn’t going to wait for them. So he went back to work from the dining table of the apartment that now belonged to his agent. Paperwork remained scattered about it, sorted into piles. To his left were those which he had received, to the right were those he was to send out. Each faction had their own separate pile, the most urgent matter on the top. In the center before him was a singular envelope of distinct stationary addressed to him: that of the scorning organization of Sanctuary.

 

Out of his perfirals he saw his agent, Captain Raphael Vanderzee, stand from his seat at the table as he set his bottle back upon the table. “Gotta take a piss.”

 

Vulgar as he was, Vath couldn’t deny the man got the jobs required of him done. As such the Magister gave him nothing more than an absent minded nod as he continued his calculation on funds to direct towards one of the forward teams on the field. He hardly registered the sounds of running water, nor did he let the ensuing shouting distract him. A knock at the door mercifully drew the shouting further away to allow the Magister to finish this segment of the budgets he was charged with.

 

What followed were murmurings from the front door, the first clear thing to him was the shouting of his dependable bodyguard, Kirital. “No you don’t get to just break off and answer the door like everything is fine! Who the fuck just barges into the bathroom and-” The voice went too quiet for Vathelan to hear, merciful as he totaled up the sum this would cost the Scryers and House Visca. All it needed was his signature now.

 

“Frosty? Ye--” The Captain started, his voice getting highly agitated by something. “--MY Bathroom. And yeh were takin’ ta long. And I told yeh ta put on some bloody clothes! No one wants ta see yeh naked!”

 

“Know who never complained until you came along? Vathelan.” The Magister nearly choked on the air he swallowed from this comment. What in the world was going on out there? “Besides, no ones to wake up at three in the morning and hear you with whoever you brought home for the night.”

“...is Vathelan not here, then?” A feminine voice raised to be heard over the arguing pair of half-elves. She sounded familiar, but he couldn’t figure out exactly who it was over the two men arguing.

 

“That be because the boy’s meek. An’ then it’s a damn good thin’ yeh be leavin’ soon, ain’t it? Though… I know a liar when I see ‘un. Not me fault yeh be jealous of me catches.”

 

All right, that’s far more than enough. The Magister set down his paperwork and finally made himself known. “Gentlemen, would you kindly refrain from embarrassing me in public? Allow our guest in.”

 

 

Kirital had the last word, scoffing at the notion as the trio entered back into the apartment proper. “I ain’t beddin’ anyone ‘cuz I don’t want Vathelan t’ feel awkward.” Further adding to the embarrassment of his charge. The slightly larger of the half-elves ran a hand through his damp hair before swaggering away towards one of the bedrooms. “I’ll go get fuckin’ dressed, then.”

 

“Uh… Vath?” With one of them gone, their guest came into full view. Miss Cat was at least a foot shorter than both of the men, making it understandable as to why he hadn’t gotten a chance to greet her as of yet. Though her current state was enough to concern him. She looked utterly exhausted, and she had obviously gone through some sort of major conflict recently. The regenerative powers of the blood of the Shattered Son that flowed through her hadn’t set her back to her base state as of yet. Bruises littered what parts of her body he could see.

 

Even still, he tried to give her a warm and reassuring smile. “Good Evening, Miss Cat.”

 

From behind the woman, Captain Van wove out of eyesight to find his seat back to his place at the table, marked with a half empty bottle of liquor of some sort and his pack of smokes. Kirital was surprising not far behind, reclothing himself and setting a thick sandwich down on the table along with a heavy glass of milk. Normally this would bring up questions, but the Magister was too focused on other matters instead.

 

“Uh… h-hi. Umm….” The Death Knight woman looked at the men before her at the table. A Magister, a pirate and a hairy brawler in short shorts. Vath could only guess what she must be thinking right about now. His smile widened in an attempt to re-encourage her. “I… uh… I went to Suramar. It… I-it didn’t go well.”

 

“Suramar is a warzone, from what I have gathered.” The smile faded, the Magister hiding any hint of understanding of the deeper meaning behind her words from all those gathered at the table. “I am saddened to hear a friend of mine had hardship there, but I am glad to see you returned to us still in one piece.” He hoped that was enough for her to catch his double meaning here, but his attention would be ripped away from the task at hand momentarily. The Captain had set a cigarette to his lips and shifted his body weight as he fished for his mechanical lighter to light it. “I would appreciate it if you refrained from that habit while I’m in the room.”

 

“I… yeah. I guess… I guess it’s pretty bad there…” Miss Cat lowered her eyes to the table, all the while the scolded Half-elf grumbled as he put the lighter away. “...A-actually… the Ebon Blade got me… and I escaped, but, I had to jump out of the Acherus. So I broke like… every bone in my body, but I got back. And I’m pretty sure they’ll try again.”

 

A pause before Vathelan responded, his framed eyes making it a point to make direct eye contact. “That is troubling news, indeed.” His tone sounded uninterested, as if merely humoring her. But his eyes spoke a different story. As if he needed to talk to her later in private. His hand rested upon the envelope that rested before him. “Are you coming to the meeting that was called for tonight?”

 

“Um… um yeah.” The tiny Death Knight tugged on her pigtails in distress. “Also… Kreyen got hurt real bad. Lost his memory. He doesn’t know who I am.” Her eyes filled with tears. “I’m having a really bad day.”

 

“...I’m really sorry to hear that.” Vathelan abandoned his paperwork before him as he slid his chair from the table. As he stood the robe, not being tailored to be a proper fit, billowed outwards in the air. The Magister moved closer to her, opening his arms to offer her a gentle and reassuring hug. ...This is what normal people did to comfort friends, correct? He certainly hoped this was the right course of action.

 

 

Upon embrace the woman burst into tears as she clung to his arms. “Being a death knight sucks so bad!”

 

Frostwhisper held her close, maneuvering where he could look at his companions as he sought advice as to what he was supposed to do in this situation. The look of confusion was obvious. Kirital gave a gentle smile of reassurance, the Captain only rewarded an amused smirk as he propped his legs back upon the table. The look of confusion briefly turned into ire at the man before his attention refocused on his friend. He tried to soothe her with a cooing, “I know, I know.” Even if he clearly had no experience as a Death Knight himself.

 

“Cat, can I get you anything? Tea? Coffee?” Kirital was a Light-send as he offered his aid, taking some of the pressure of this emotional situation off the ill-equipped Vathelan.

 

“N...no… thanks Kit. I just… W-what should  I do?” She leaned into one of the Half-elf’s arms, her bruised face twisted with the ugly crying. “The Ebon Blade wants to kill me because I left… my fiancé doesn’t know who I am… Cerryan hates me… why does everything suck so bad??”

 

“We’ll find a way to protect you from the Ebon Bla-- wait. Cerryan?” Now Vathelan’s mind was racing with a hundred questions. Did this mean his lord had returned from his unexplained absence? Maybe there was a sliver of hope that the Sanctuary situation could still be salvaged?

 

 

“Ah, the Ol’ Drunk is still around, eh?” The Captain smiled, presumably from some memory. But Vathelan didn’t know of any battles with alcoholism that this hero had. None of it was in any reports he knew of. “...I wonder if he’ll finally let me buy ‘im a whore fer o’ night now, get ‘im ta relax fer once.”

 

 

Okay make that a Hundred and Five questions now. And counting. At this comment Miss Cat erupted into a renewed rampage of tears. Kirital smirked as he bit back his newfound ire for the Captain, and he retaliated with a quick kick to the remaining tips of the other half-elf’s chair that remained upon the ground in an attempt to startle him. Van’s quickdraw grip upon the table to keep his balance himself was impressive, if not a little worrisome, as he returned the chair to be back on all fours. It would take some time for the comforting of the two men, but eventually they were able to talk the distraught woman down enough for her to collect her thoughts. Sniffling as she wiped her face with the backs of her hands, she steadied her breathing. “...Sir… Can… Can I talk to you alone?”

 

“Of course. Is there somewhere specific you wish to go?” Vathelan offered an encouraging smile.

 

“Uh, no… no, just…” She shook her head slowly, before her eyes darted towards the half-elf men in the room. Then her gaze drifted back down towards the floor. “...Wherever we can go to be alone. Somewhere we won’t have to worry about anyone else listening.”

 

“I see…”  The Magister considered various locations that he could whisk them away to quickly, yet would fulfill this need. Somewhere he wouldn’t be expected to go would be best. “...Do you still have business here? Something that you cannot be delayed from?”

 

Her response was quick. A shake of her head. “No. My only business here is… I guess… somewhere else.”

 

“I see.” Excellent. “One moment then, please allow me to gather my things and we shall be on our way.” And he did just that as he relinquished his embrace from his friend. Collecting each pile and setting them into various folders, casing his writing pen, retrieving the ruined robe from the battle; all of it would once again find itself in his trusty satchel. Before returning to the woman, his bespectacled gaze rested upon his bodyguard. “I will see you at the meeting, Kirital.” And with that a portal flared up between the two parties. A way for him to return back to Dalaran. When the Magister was satisfied he offered his embrace to the Death Knight once more, “Ready?”

 

Cat nodded as she accepted the offer, “I’m ready.” She glanced back at the portal that divided the room, where Kirtial and Captain Van would still be lingering as magic began to swell and flow around them before stealing them away from that apartment and to some unknown location.

 

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That unknown location that Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper had selected for their privacy was quickly apparent: The Crater where Dalaran had originally once rested in the days before the Wars of Northrend. The very instant they popped back into reality, one of the natural forces of the universe, Gravity once more tried to claim them as its prizes. Miss Cat gripped harder upon the Magister’s arms as the cloth of his robe billowed out like a malfunctioning parachute. Fortunately, the Magister had anticipated this, and the freefall was cut short with a Slow Fall spell. The two looked as if they were dancing as they floated towards the ground, twirling as Vathelan guided them to a particularly nice section of the clearing below them.

 

Vathelan was taller, allowing him to find his feet gently planted on the ground first. He used this leverage in an attempt to better manipulate her descension further in hopes of securing as gentle a landing for her. What he didn’t account for was how much her armor and axe weighed, nor her newfound fear of falling-- in spite of her warning him when she spoke of the Ebon Blade. Instead with a small thud her boots hit the ground and she threatened to fall backwards even as the Magister reeled her back in. When she was secure upon the ground, Vathelan was the first to speak. “You wished to talk in private?”

 

The trip had clearly been jarring for the poor woman, and he felt a tinge of guilt as she blinked and tried to steady her breath. “Woah… uh…. Yeah. Uh… About Suramar.” She carefully looked at their surroundings before she began her report. Such a use of caution warmed the Magister’s heart. “I couldn’t get very far. I tried to find him, your friend, but… I couldn’t. I wanted to know what you want me to do next. I don’t know  if the Ebon Blade will try and get me again.”

 

“That… does complicate things, yes.” The news wasn’t great, troubling even. But it wasn’t exactly unexpected on many fronts. His dark brows furrowed as he considers this information and calculates it against a multitude of variables. Both known and unknown, he makes the best educated guesses he could with the information he had and suspected. Did this mean the Lord-General was being cautious? Or had something happened? He tried to think of something to say, Miss Cat had been so faithful to his mission. “...The meeting should give us a better ideas as to what is going on there in Suramar. I’m hoping with something like this being called, there are some promising developments. Also, with the Captain keeping an eye on Borrowed Time for me, I should be able to return my gaze back upon Sanctuary.” For better or worse. “It is my hope that they might be able to present new opportunities in bringing a favorable end to this war. But… for now, we’ll have to figure out how to better protect you.”

 

At this comment Cat lowered her eyes to the ground, the guilt that ate her from the inside covering her face like a veil. “I hate that I’ve put people in this position. That I’ve become a liability. I… I owe you in more ways than I can admit. I don’t know how, but I promise I’ll make it up to you. However I can.”

 

Now it was his turn to have guilt stab him in the chest. He had sent her into a situation of horrible experimentation just for the off chance to free one of his personal heroes. Sure, he told himself it was because he believed that the Lord-General was key to defeating the Legion… But was that all it was? But for now he would have to keep up his lies, for the greater good of the world. He allowed his mask of warmth to cover his face with a gentle smile. “Hey.” His right hand guided itself onto her cheek and to her chin, forcing her to look back at him and that smile. “We’ll figure this out together. I’m just... Glad I could do some good.” Not an entire lie. He was very thankful for the results of the Magister’s Gambit. “I… just need need some time to devise something. I know that’s a luxury we’re quickly running out of… but I can figure something out. I always do.”

 

Her lips trembled. Whether it be from the touch or his words, he couldn’t be sure. Either way the effect was a good indicator to him as she spoke. “Well, I’m not going anywhere. ...I mean, I’ll go somewhere…” She bit at her lips. “I’ll be at the guild hall. It would be weird for me to stay at the port without Kreyen… I guess… I’m on my own, now. Again.”

 

“You’re not alone, Miss Cat.” He corrected as he shook his head. “You’re part of my team. And together we’re going to support the Late Lord-General. We’re going to help him save this world.” The warmth of Frostwhisper became much more genuine, radiating at higher degrees with each sentence. He believed every word he said, he had to. This was his purpose in life, he was sure of it. He wouldn’t fail. He couldn’t. Instead, for her as much as himself he reiterated their goal to make it manifest itself as their destiny. “We’re going to save the world.”

 

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“Vathelan, there is no more time. The Legion is here, laying siege to our world and threatening our people like never before. We need to utilize every resource we have to stop them. You know that Draco would agree, if he could see how high the stakes were.” The scene from the night previous played within his mind over and over as Magister Frostwhisper marched up to his office with a black coffee in hand. How perfect that moment had felt, like out of some novel he would have written in the decades after this was all over, where the golden light of the setting sun was captured within the paladin’s armor. So perfect Vath had forgotten to ask about the recent scars that marred his lord’s once beautiful face. “The Accords. Bring them to my office as soon as you can. We are finishing this, so that our real work can begin.”

 

Vathlean fished out the key to his office from his satchel that held the precious document he was promised would finally be signed. He set it within the door-- only to pause as he felt it was unlocked already. He felt a sense of dread sink within his stomach. Had his lord acted too late? Had they caught on to Vath’s plots already?

 

Cautiously he removed his key from the door to his office, attempting to make as little noise as possible. He didn’t want to alert the intruder on the other side of the door to his presence. While his motions to set his key back into his satchel were slow and controlled, his mind raced. Who was it? What did they want? What had they found? Where had he made the mistake that had gotten him caught? He stood there for nearly a minute as he deliberated, eventually coming to the conclusion that he was only going to make himself more suspicious as he stood in front of his door like this. Instead he would have to brave whatever lay before him, His arm went behind his back, conjuring water and drastically dropping the temperature to make a makeshift weapon to defend himself with as used his hand with the half cup of coffee to turn the door knob.

 

He was not prepared for what was on the other side of the door. Where he had expected one of Raeventus’s Inquisitors, he instead found a tiny ball of white fluff trot towards him. It mewed expectantly, forcing the Magister to smile and bite back a small chuckle at his paranoia as he dismissed the spell… the chunk of ice dropping to the floor as he removed his glove and pulled up on of the sleeves of his uniform so that he could pick up the tiny creature while trying to prevent her white hairs from scattering all upon him before his important meeting. If little Munchkin was here, then her owner should be nearby as well.

 

It didn’t take long for his eyes to spy the form of the scrunched up Death Knight who was still like a corpse. Carrying the little creature in one hand, he approached the woman before nudging her with his foot as he set the cup where it would be at her eye level. “You look like you could use this more than I.”

 

She was slow to stir, it took a few seconds for her to even respond to the nudge. Blearily she halfway opened her eyes to look up in his direction. “Hnnwha…?” Oh, sir… sorry, sir…” she muttered as she yawned. “I must’ve fallen asleep after feeding Munchkin… I wanted to see you, but you weren’t here.”

 

“It must have been important, if it was after business hours.” A smile that had formed naturally from seeing the kitten only grew as rolled his wrist to swish the coffee within its cup, still warm. “What can I do for you, Miss Cat?”

 

Cat shakily stood and took the cup from his hands. She held it in her palms to warm them before she spoke. “...I’ve been in a pickle, sir. I’m just starting to climb out of it, but I figured you ought to know everything since it affects the way I’ll be helping you out in the future.” She looked down into the coffee, not daring to take a sip yet. “You know I was with the Ebon Blade when they attacked Light’s Hope Chapel. I’m sure everyone does… What I didn’t know is that Cerryan was one of the paladins that I injured, that day.” She continued before Vathelan had the chance to process this new information. “I didn’t know until T’suro told me, because I tried turning myself in. T’suro suggested I turn myself in to Cerryan, since he’s one of the people I hurt. I figured it was the right thing to do, so I did, but… he didn’t want to spare a moment on me. Like at all. That’s my judgement, I guess, that I wasn’t worth judgement. So… all I can do now to make up for the wrongs I’ve done is try and do good deeds. That’s why I wanted to see you. To see if maybe there’s anything I can do for you, to help save people. Like you always say you’re trying to do.”

 

“...I...see…” The smile was gone, instead the cool mask of the Magister he used to hold to so often since he started trying to get get this alliance forged took its place. With a couple steps he found himself to where his chair was within his tiny office where he took his seat as he let the new information and its implications sink it.

 

At the change in tone and demeanor, Cat lowered her eyes towards the dark liquid in the cup. The silence must have been deafening. “...I know I’ve done terrible things, sir. I don’t have any excuses for myself. All I can do is offer my services, and hope that I can help people. I’m a death knight, people hate me. I’ve already died more than once, so I know what death is. I also know I’m expendable.” That phrase lingered between them as she swallowed. “...so… whatever that means to you… I’m willing to do whatever I need to do to do some good before whatever is going to happen to me happens.”

 

For minutes that felt like hours after she finished her plea, he remained silent as his stare lingered upon her. He was conflicted as the realization that those marrings upon his lord were her doing, and yet… that was nothing compared to what he had sent her to. Was such pettiness worth the fate of the world from neglecting such an asset? Of course not. He had a mission. A purpose that needed to be fulfilled, by any means necessary. He would continue his narrative, he had to. And at last, he finally spoke with a low and quiet tone. “...I know all too well what it means to be hated. If you are sincere in your desire to make amends; to dedicate your service to saving the world… I can’t do it alone, so I will accept this as your atonement. As it will be mine as well.”

 

Miss Cat nodded slowly, but otherwise remained silent as she ventured a step toward to put down the cup he had offered her.

 

“Then it is settled.” The Magister returned his own nod. “We’ll save this world. Together. And in doing so we’ll spurn those who hate us, who wish us to fail. Through this act, through our sacrifice we shall find our redemption. Are you with me?”

 

She raised her eyes to meet his own. There was a determined look upon her face, clouded from her grief as it may be. “Always, sir.”

 

“Good.” He forced a smile on his face as he raised from his chair. He knew well what awaited him at the end of the path he was following, but he wasn’t going to stop him! He couldn’t let it. Even more so, he needed to banish away the doubts and fears of those who followed him. And so he struck a dramatic pose as he pointed to the heavens. The cat in his arm climbed upon his shoulder to keep her perch. “Then save the world together we shall!” He nearly shouted, lying to himself enough to believe it as his smile became more genuine. “First the Accords, then the Shattered Son! Together we’ll get through this! Together we’ll stop the Legion!”

 

The response to his attempts was less than stellar as Miss Cat tried to smile in spite of herself. She cleared her throat, nodded and raised a fist into the air. “...w-woo!”

 

Close enough. At least she tried. The Magister gave a small smile to reassure her as he bowed his head. “Alas, I must apologize for my short stay. It is my hope that today is the day that at long last we solidify the ties between Sanctuary and the Scryers. May it be today that we finally take the steps required to take the fight to the enemy rather than being backed into the corners of the world.” He gently plucked the kitten from his shoulder and handed her back to her rightful owner. “But if you wish to stay here until I return, you are welcome to do so.”

 

And with that Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper of the Scryers marched from his office from the courage he had summoned down the hall towards where his lord would be awaiting him. Courage gave way to determination. He would make this work. For he had to. Not just for himself, this was beyond him. He would do this for the Sin’dorei. He would do this for Azeroth. And with that, his knuckles would grace the door of Lord Cerryan Vyel of House Visca, the second in command of Sanctuary-- an organization where he never felt belonged, but he kept fighting for. An organization he was going to use to bring salvation to the world with.

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Such embolden courage would be set to a test as his lord was slow to answer, Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper would be forced to undergo an ordeal of tentative silence before there was at long last an answer. When it did finally give way to his lord’s voice, there was a sense of suspicion that tainted it. “Who is there?”

 

“My Lord, it is I--” This was not the welcome he had expected, but it mattered not. He would subject himself to this final trail. It’s results determined the fate of this alliance. If he could not convince his lord, he would have to forgo the use of Sanctuary. He would have to improvise. He prayed it didn’t come to that. “--your ever faithful servant, Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper.”

 

“Vathelan! Please, do come in, I’ve been hoping to speak with you!” That was closer to what he was hoping for, why the previous contention? Strange. But not something he could dwell upon.

 

He had to keep focus. Rolling his sleeve back into place, he frowned at the white hairs that inevitably did linger from his visit to his office. A small silent sigh at the flaw in his presentation before he opened the door, barely remembering to put his glove back on as well as he presented his practiced pleasant demeanor worn over his face that infected his very tone-- no matter how much he truly meant the words. “I am pleased to see that you have returned, My Lord.”

 

He, in turn, was greeted with the warmest smile that his lord’s marred face could muster. Marring that had come from his assistant, Miss Cat D’Aragon. “I am pleased to be back, there’s far too much to be done for me to be idle any longer. And I’d like to apologize to you, Vathlean. I know that I have not been terribly present for much of the time you have been here as liaison to the Scryers, and I believe that you’ve suffered for that. I am sorry; I hope to amend that going forward, especially once these Accords are ratified and we can start moving on some of the plans they detail.”

 

“I have suffered worse in my lifetime, My Lord.” Vathelan shot his response as quickly as he could, bowing his head both in terms of respect and as to hide his true emotions from view as his mask of pleasantry threatened to crack. He may have told the truth, but that didn’t diminish the treatment and the insults he had been forced to endure in his lord’s absence. The fact that the Commander had allowed an Orcess to go unpunished for all her threats to his life and well being. The threats of removal from service. The lives such stonewalling threw away in the meantime. All of it. But, in the end… “I do appreciate the concern, but I don’t matter. What matters is the cost if we should fail our world.”

 

Lord Cerryan responded with a stoic nod, making it impossible to tell if he bought the implications of Vathelan’s words. Or if he had seen beyond the persona the Magister was putting forward. “I don’t intend to see that happen, under any circumstances. That that end, I’d like to discuss finalizing the Accords with you so that by my authority as Marshal of Sanctuary I can sign the documents and make them official.”

 

“Good. I am glad to see a voice of reason has returned to Sanctuary.” His pleasant tone remained as he lifted his gaze from his bow towards his lord once more. But at the pursing of Cerryan’s lips, he could tell it wasn’t enough to hide the bile from his mistreatment. So instead he would continue on to business proper as he moved to take out a folder with a sizable amount of paper within it from his satchel. He spoke as he set the numerous pages upon his lord’s desk. “I have revised a new draft of the document, it allows you an official direct line between us-- Warboss Bloodborne where applicable as well. I can go over all the changes with you, if that is your desire, my lord?”

 

There was a slight widening of his lord’s eyes at the Accords, paperwork was never something of his strong suit. That was one of the reasons he was brought in, after all. After a moment Cerryan nodded, and Vathelan awarded him a small reassuring smile as a reward. “Yes, it seems we should go over anything you might have changed. I trust that outside of expanding the points of contact you will be working with, you haven’t modified any of the points that you and the Commander specifically agreed to. I am still working under her authority and intend on keeping the intent of her conditions, in the interests of Sanctuary’s sovereignty.”

 

“The alterations are to allow efficiently and security of the war assets we will be granting you in light of recent events in order to ensure I was able to secure the Other, more final, signature required to make this document pass and in an attempt to make up for some of the wasted time it took to get this far-- but I assure you, my lord, my role has not changed. Nor am I interested in threatening sovereignty.” Vathelan set the new, revised edition of the document to the next one for comparison. It was mercifully shorter. And try as he might, he was unable to prevent himself from commenting on the implication made. “...Though one could quite reasonably take offense to such an insinuation. I am a professional. Not that she would particularly care, I am sure. She hasn’t seemed to in the past.”

 

“I am really only interested in moving forward, in securing the assets that will help us win this war and empowering our people to better defend it. Enough time has been spent on indecision, for good reason to some extent, but at this point we need the extra resources. Both here and in Suramar.” Lord Cerryan picked up the new document and began to page through it for an initial scanning read. “I’ve no appetite for contentious personal opinions right now though, and will appreciate sticking to business until we’ve come to the signing.”

 

 

Very Well. “You will noticed I removed much of the preface, that which stated the history of both groups to prove the point as to why we are compatible in terms of an alliance between us. The term of the Accords’ validity stay the same-- thirty days after an officially declared victory of this conflict as a sort of grace period should we seek to renegotiate terms of a continued partnership. It was fluff that may have been misconstrued in terms of legality. I will remain the Delegate-Ambassador that will serve as a representative of both organizations for the other. As such I will serve to fulfill Scryer interests here, and will serve to fulfill Sanctuary interests there.” He continued to recite his run down of the basics of the contract while Cerryan was allotted his chance to skim the Accords. “My service, besides ensuring both sides are treated fairly in terms of this treaty, will be in terms of requisitions for this war effort-- sadly, this will be incredibly costly and time consuming thanks to the insistence of running everything internally here rather than taking advantage of the larger infrastructure developed by the Scryers over their years as an organization. I must inform one of your officership of alterations and/or additions to anything relating to your new infrastructure that we will be required to construct. I am to manage these assets to ensure efficiency and security for all parties involved, but must follow command and will surrender reports should such be requested. Assets provided may or may not be limited to resources or weaponry for use on the field as per decided by said parties involved.”

 

 

“We will be needing a diverse range of assets, to reinforce our own forces and resources against the Legion. Securing the final Pillar will open the path to stopping the invasion, but I grow ever more worried over how quiet the Broken Shore has been in the months since we arrived on the Isles. The accountability is a necessary facet of working with a third party, though my own experiences with the Scryers does not have me terribly worried.” Cerryan nodded as he continued working through the pages of the document. Smaller as it may be, it wasn’t short in length still. “There is… I believe it has already been discussed, but the insurance that sensitive information pertinent to Sanctuary remain within Sanctuary first, to be disseminated at our discretion. Our mission with the Relics and keeping them secure and not widely known is critical, and that aside; were there something like the a situation like miss Rylie, before she was sent off to board for her education, the sort of thing where the fewer external parties know the better. I have enough faith that it won’t arise as a point of concern, but assurance only fortifies faith.”

 

“You will notice that the Vault and any mentions that could be related to such are entirely absent from the Accords. This is intentional.” An affirmation, a sign of faith. “The Scryers will, obviously, require tactical Intel however in order to further our battle-plans as we work the angles afforded to us that we have in play. This will keep our strategy running smoothly. That being said, I am both well aware as well as sympathetic to Sanctuary’s needs and desires for privacy in non-essential matters. This brings us to the compromise for both idealism and function in this ongoing crisis: To ensure the efficiency and satisfaction for both parties, I am to oversee and manage the assets brought in with a certain level of autonomy within reason. For example: All plausible services will be ran internally as well as I will be running under the officerships related to my duties. This requires me to submit to their authority and surrender anything in terms of collected Intelligence upon request. I must also inform you should I apply new or altered assets.”

 

“I find that to be more than an acceptable compromise, and I trust you genuinely in the role you’ll be playing in this. For the most part I think that you reporting primarily to me makes sense, given my authority here and my relationship with the Scryers, unless I become unavailable or the criticality of a given matter requires the direct attention of the Commander. I will otherwise still be reporting Scryer-Sanctuary interactions with her, but at least for the Suramar campaign I will be in control of assets deployed to the front.”

 

“And I will be reporting applicable concerns and solutions to the officership that is responsible for the relevant issue. Cooperation is required for us to with this war. None of us will be effective on their own, my lord.” Magister Vathelan presented the final page for his lord, an set of lines ready to be filled laid before Cerryan. One for Vathelan, One for him. The final was already filled out by a great man, the Seer who lead the Scryers to victory since their foundation. “And in that spirit, I would appreciate you calling a meeting of Sanctuary’s officership in the near future-- at their convenience of course-- as to ensure we are all on the same page in terms of what I plan to install within the coming months.”

 

The Paladin nodded in agreement with the Magister. ‘I think that is a wise idea. I know both Baern and Vilmah have vested interest in the resources afforded by the Accords, and I think that after finally signing, it will be good to circle up and discuss how it’s going to impact things going forward.”

 

“And I shall be happy to serve them.” Frostwhisper removed a pen from a case within his pocket and pressed with a gently but firm finger tip upon the back to make the vial inside bleed its enchanted ink upon the bladed edge. “If there is nothing else…” He offered the writing utensil to his lord.

 

With a final sweep through the last few pages of the slimmer revised version of the Accords, Lord Cerryan Vyel was silent for a moments as he left Vathelan’s pen to awkwardly linger. He took a breath. Was something wrong? Vathelan tried to banish the creeping doubts. And then, at last, Lord Cerryan nodded and took the pen. He pressed it to the paper, his name coming out as a flowing script upon the line designated for him. “There, it is done, after much ado.”

 

 

“Indeed. I already have the paperwork for the first series of orders pre-written. Considering the time it is going to take to synthesize the Arcane Communications Relay Crystal for the required infrastructure upgrades, I thought it prudent to cut out as much delay as possible.” His heart raced as he held his hand out back for his pen, he was so close to his second major victory in this entire campaign. “...So much to do, but at long last… We are finally upon the right path. We can do it, Sir. We can save this world.”

 

“That is the goal, Vathelan. That is the dream.” He handed the pen back to the awaiting Magister. “That is everything.”

 

“And it is my job to make such a dream possible, sir.” Vathelan smiled as he took the pen, at long last signing a document he had spent what had felt like an eternity to push through. His expression betrayed the joy and pride he felt in this hard earned victory as he pulled the pen from paper to admire the proof of his little footnote in history. Magister Vathelan Frostwhisper, the poor bastard of an orphan all those years ago, the author of a document that would help lead to this world’s salvation from oblivion. If he could help it, this would be merely the beginning. He would prove he was worth more than anyone had bargained for. “And for the Arcane Notary…” His hand raised, his fingers forming a snap. It was a simple spell, but with it the ink’s magic ignited to make the document official. “There. I will need to deliver the treaty back to Headquarters, so that it can be secured so we can finally begin to realize our goal. Was there anything else you needed from me while I’m still here, my lord?”

 

“For now, all I need is for these Accords to be submitted and made official as soon as possible. Afterwards I’d like to talk with you about involvement in the Suramar campaign, but I would put nothing above your current task.” Cerryan placed a hand upon the Magister’s shoulder. “Thank you for the work you’ve done, Vathlean. We will be better for it, and I’m sure it’s something Draco would’ve been proud of. Now. Be off, then. And come back as soon as you can. Oh, and send my warmest regards to Voren’thal. It has been some time since I’ve visited the old Seer.”

 

“Y-you’re most welcome, Sir. That means… more than you know, coming from you, Sir-- My Lord, Sir.” Vathelan flushed with both embarrassment and the lingering shame. The touch of one of his heroes, his kind words, Vathlean deserved none of them as far as he was concerned. He bowed his head before trying to excuse himself before he ruined the moment further with his blustering as he collected the document. He needed air, air away from a man he admired so. Before leaving he halted at the door. “I will be around-- of course-- should you… should you need me, my office is the small one next to Praetor Baern’s. In case you didn’t know.” And with one final bow he made his departure from a hard fought victory. With Sanctuary, and the protection provisions he had put in place to buy him some more time, he knew he had significantly raised their chances of winning this war. But would it be enough? He didn’t know. He could only keep working to make it so.

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“We require more than your feeble mewing, Raeventus.” One of the Illuminated silhouettes spoke. The Magister in question need not see the face, he could feel the dissatisfaction dripping from the Council’s voices. Each meeting since the loss of the Shattered Son was a beratement. It had gotten beyond tiresome. “Need we remind you what is at stake outside your walls?”

 

“Not at all.” Raeventus shook his head as his unseen hand fidgeted with the grey cube that he usually kept upon his desk, his fingertips drawing the runic patterns common upon its vistage. It helped keep him balanced, focused. “I have read plenty of Intel reports that are delivered upon my desk. I’m well informed on the situations regarding the invasion.”

 

“Unacceptable Casualties are on the rise.” Spoke another of the four.

 

“I know, my lords,” Raeventus tried once more to get a word in. Even if simply to end these ceaseless criticisms on the job he was doing. “SOL-ONE is dedicated to finding a solution to the threat.”

 

“Is that so?” The third of the Council spoke up. “Is this why Frostwhisper sought out one of our retired agents to fight with a Mercenary Company?”

 

“He likely sought an alternative to Sanctuary, he has neglected to deliver an assessment on the organization. He’s even gone so far as to stop reporting in his logs altogether.”

 

“Doubtful.”

 

“Is that so?” The scarlet brow of the Director raised.

 

“He has secured the Sanctuary-Scryer Accords. We have our army now.” The fourth of the silhouettes finally spoke up, the voice raising a challenge. “Was this not within your reports?”

 

“...My apologies, it appears that report has yet to reach my desk.” His grip tightened upon the cube as he forced a pleasant smile upon his hawkish face. “I will be sure to keep an eye out for it. I’m eager to see the details.”

 

“I see.” A dismissal.

 

Silence left the Director to stew in his anger, the mask of civility threatened to crack all the while. What was likely merely seconds felt like minutes dragging into hours until one of the Illuminated Council mercifully stepped in. “We have made an important step in turning the tides of this conflict into more favorable circumstances. Alas, we cannot rest as the enemy continues their crusade of annihilation. We may have an army, that which we will work to properly equip for times ahead-- what we need now is our key operative to serve as the weapon we designed him to be. What is the Shattered Son situation?”

 

“All our leads point towards Suramar. From trajectory of last known location to his psychological profile. There are far too many similarities of the civil war raging within their streets and the Shattered Son’s involvement in the ending of the Sunstrider regime. Their tactics similarly mirror the talents of insurrection he is best known for. Furthermore, given his… previous interests in the past, we think it probable that if the nationalist ideals hadn’t recruited him, the female element very well may have.”

 

“Have you received visual confirmation?”

 

“Not yet. His paranoia may be forcing him to act from the shadows. That being said… Our rangers in the area are devising a solution of drawing the Shattered Son from whatever hole he has hidden himself in. We will have him returned into our custody soon.”

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“So… anyone wanna take bets on what our new orders are going to be?” 

Maurice, the sniper of their insurrectionist team was the first to mercifully break the silence that lingered as they awaited Commander Kal’une Danteur to return from his meeting. It had been hours that they sat in this ruin of a room with Arcwine beside them. He lit a match as he put a cigarette between his lips.

"Only if we're not betting coin," Pelande laughed. Her arms were crossed, her body leaned against a wall and her feet were propped up on a table. She looked every bit the laborer she was in moments like this one where they could relax. The only poise she concerned herself with was with her spear. "Not all of us have much to throw around unless you're willing to work on credit."

“Yeah, guess the pay isn’t really a perk of the job.” The sniper chuckled back as the smoke spilled from his lips. “At least the wine is good… for however long that lasts.” He fished out one of his cigarettes from its container and offered it to the laborer across from him. “To finding work when this finally blows over?”

She held up a hand. "You caught my interest when you said 'bet', so how about this: if I'm right, you roll me a box of those," here she gestured to the cigarettes, "but if you win, I'll make you a new box to keep those in from scratch, complete with hidden chambers for, well," she gestured casually, "whatever you might need them for."

The smile upon Maurice’s face grew into a full-on grin, his hand still outstretched in the offering of a sample of what could be Pelande’s prize. 

“Sounds like we have ourselves a bet then. What’s your call? More guard replacements, or are you thinking of something a bit more exciting?”

Since he didn’t relent, she accepted it, looking over it and admiring the craftsmanship. “If it was going to be the usual I don’t think we’d be waiting this long, we’d be sent off by now. Personally? I hope it’s a target elimination. Someone important enough to bother with and well-guarded enough that it’s requiring a pretty extensive plan.”

“Assassination? I like the way you think.” Maurice took another drag for his own as he lit a match, offering the flame towards Pelande. “It would be nice to actually shoot something again, rather than just being another set of eyes. Hey, Twitchy, you want one of these too?”

“...Huh?” Isabeale halted in her pacing in the dimmer corners of the room, her lavender eyes glancing at the table. “..O-oh. No. My illusions can’t mask smells. Sorry.”

Pelande pulled air through the cigarette to light it, leaning back again once she had a steady glow, and exhaled, her gaze moving over to Isabeale. “Twitchier than usual today, aren’t you? Do you know something about what kind of assignment we’re getting?”

Pelande was met with a look of confusion for a couple of seconds from the youngest of the Nightborne. She opened her mouth to speak-- only for attention to be diverted away from Isabaele as a telemancy portal lit up the room. 

“Feet off the table, grab the map.” 

At last there came the dry voice of the man they long-awaited from what one had to guess was quite the exhaustive meeting. Each step towards the gathered Ebonfeathers burned away at the illusion of the nobleman face for the public, further returning him to his true form. And yet his stride never changed as it always commanded the respect of those within the room. Even as he turned more and more demonic in visage. 

“We have wasted enough time, there is work to be done.” 

Pelande held the cigarette between her lips as she rose, taking a large drag of it just in case it would be taken from her--after being scolded, she wasn't sure what he would and wouldn't tolerate. Leaving the map to the others, she asked, only slightly muffled, "I'm all for work being done. What have you got for us today, boss?" 

“The Dusklilies have made the last of their preparations, they claim they’re finally ready to make their move.”  The demonic elf hybrid stood at attention at the front of the table, his burning sockets stared down at those gathered when the twitchy illusionist grabbed the map and unfurled it for their commander. 

“We approach the apex of the conflict,” his finger pressed into the paper where the Nighthold stood. His finger traced in a straight line outwards to some noble's home. “And we have our part to play.”

Peering at the paper closely, Pelande moved the cigarette to her hand and squinted for a few moments before saying, "Oh! I know this place." She seemed to lose herself to memory for a bit. "Don't know why I kept taking jobs there, the owners were picky about the stupidest things and I always had to pester their household staff half to death to get the payments they owed me."

“This time you have the chance to finish the job, your expertise will serve the cause well in the coming conflict.” The talon of a finger gently glided on the surface of the map. “Our role is to make as much noise as possible to give those infiltrating the Nighthold some piece. When we capture the manor, we’ll be able to watch from afar in case reinforcements are needed. Your Grand Magistrix’s reign draws near its bloody end.”

Nodding and rubbing her hands together, Pelande seems to be hyping herself up for the task at hand. This was going to be cathartic. "Good, good. We raise hell, they split their forces. I put the gates on this place, it should be a rather simple matter to take them off again.”

“Good. You take your partner and start at the bottom with some explosives. While they are more for the show we are putting on, do handle them with care still.” His hollow sockets burned as they scanned between the two women. “When you are done with your task, meet up with us at the apex of their building. Maurice will be covering us with his fire as Manuelle and I weave another portal into the city for reinforcements. Should the Dusklillies’ Chosen be as competent as they claim, then they should hold their end of the bargain as the knife to slip into the Grand Magistrix herself as we stand tall as their feint. 

“If not,” he concluded, “then the night will prove that much more interesting.”

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“Thank you for the work you’ve done, Vathelan” It had been a week since the Accords were signed, and yet his Lord’s words still echoed through his mind here within the selected section of the Guildhall’s underbelly where he and his half-elf bodyguard took measurements for the housing of the Scryer Communications Relay Crystal. A week passed and yet he could feel the phantom touch of Cerryan linger upon his shoulder. “We will be better for it, and I’m sure it’s something Draco would’ve been proud of.” 

 

This, as likely expected, had served well to motivate the young Magister even further-- though perhaps not for the reasons his lord would have anticipated. It was in these depths of Sanctuary’s halls that Frostwhisper worked to hide his shame of the secrets he still kept. Jotting another note within his Glass Scroll, he worked to silence the nagging doubts within his mind as he turned his attention back to his companion. “Kirital, if you would please pace the steps again for confirmation?”

 

“Sure, yeah.” The burly man hosted a long create above his head as he carefully paced out the distance again, a quizzical look of focus pinched his features. “It’s what you had before. So these… uh…” He continued as he began to low the crate and its heavy contents, reaching about chest hight before he found the words for his question. “...These things. Do we need to build this thing now, or where you’re done with…” A nod towards the pane of glass Vath was working on, “That?”

 

For a moment the Magister was silent as he looked over the measurements and calculations. When satisfied he nodded before answering the questions set before him. “These measurements are required in order to build the chassis for the central communications hub for Sanctuary's improvements. Thanks to some preliminary paperwork, the actual synthesis of the crystal should have already been started. Given the necessity of it all… I’m hoping it should be done within a month or so.” His eyes traveled back from his work and to his assistant who was still carrying the crate assigned to him, the last of the ones set in a particular order to help ensure accurate markings. “You can set that down where you are standing, please. We need to ensure that the measurements are accurate and fit to the schematic’s specifications to ensure its stability… considering some of the materials required in the process are… um… Volatile if not handled appropriately.”

 

Kirital moved with even more caution at the news, providing his form ample opportunity to show off as they flexed and tensed in a smooth motion as the crate sets to the ground with a soft ‘paff’. “Volatile. Right.” His head swiveled to look at the others he set in place, with even more near the Magister. “All of this for housing a crystal?”

 

“We’re only in pre-production. In time we’ll be organizing a team of engineers to do the more complex sections as well as Golems to do the heavy lifting. I warned the Commander that her requirements would prove quite costly and time-consuming.” A small sigh left the lips of Vathelan as he tried to let the comments go, his smile not given the chance to waver. “Think of this Crystal as both the Heart and brain of the network we are establishing. Would a visual demonstration aid in your understanding of what we’re about to build?”

 

Kirital took a seat on one of the larger crates, his hands resting together on the edge between his thighs. One situated he gave several eager nods, “I also have some questions later too.”

 

Frostwhisper’s smile grew a measure more at the enthusiasm before fading as he concentrated on the mathematical equations he had been reading on the Glass Scroll as he converted them into the sub-thermal spell required for such an accurate frost-model. “The entire housing chassis will be built into the floor, but for the sake of the model…”

 

As he applied his mana, water would be conjured and frozen simultaneously. Its mass grew with each breath as he poured more into the spell. First grew the outer wall in a circular fashion, when completed the spell would work inwards. Various bumps grew within the bowl-shaped structure before bridges of ice culminated into a central hub. For the majority of the time, which was of growing minutes, not seconds thanks to the size and intricacy, all the while the room chilled further and further from the display… there was silence between them. One focused on the spellcraft, the other staring in amazement before he finally breathed an “...Awesome…”

 

When at last the structure was complete with what looked to be some crystal in the center, Vath ignited some of the mana within to allow it to glow forming a dazzling and soothing illumination as its radiance echoed through the entire structure. It was only now that the Magister was able to speak again. “So, the Brain Metaphor is more literal in terms of design. All communications will not only be relayed through here-- it will also support the processing of such. To do this, we have developed an elixir of sorts to both amplify and stabilize these transactions.” 

 

With another gesture, the Magister conjured water that flowed within the inside the hollow section of the structure. Filling it like water in a bowl. “As this is a newer creation, we have had time to learn from the previous incarnation of this Magi-technology to allow Sanctuary the bleeding edge of what we have to offer. The fluid is also designed to facilitate growth of the Crystal overtime to allow it organically grow with the most efficient reactions developed within to better suit Sanctuary’s needs as it too continues to swell in numbers and responsibilities they wish to tackle. It is my hope, should Sanctuary prove to be the invaluable ally I have sold them as, that we can continue our partnership after the war-- and that this will help alleviate costs in the long run. For both parties.”

 

“So can it...uh… talk to people?” A pause before another rapid sentence. “I had a nice chat with a blood golem once.”

 

“At current, I am not planning on giving it the intelligence processes required for it to carry on a conversation-- I fear that may make certain key members of Sanctuary nervous, and I feel that overstepping my bounds so early in this relationship would be… ill-advised.” With a glance over to the ice-forged model, his mind began to consider the possibilities. “But… theoretically… with those processes added, it would be able to talk through us through the Emblems or other technologies we shall be using. Quite an interesting venture indeed. Hm.”


 

“I was being generous describing it as a ‘conversation’, really. More like…” 

 

Kirital stiffened his limbs in mimicry of the golem in question. “‘Affirmative, Kirital’” 

 

He took a step and relaxed his posture. “Must be exhausting, doing this patrol all the time.” 

A step back to where he was previous, and the stiff mimicry continued. “‘Affirmative, Kirital’”

 

With a long full-body stretch, the half-elf relaxed into his normal carefree persona. “It was a tired sounding affirmative, I think.”


 

All the while Vathelan watched his companion enact his story, he struggled to bite back his amusement. “...Ah yes…” His composure returned. “The Golem technology tends to have enough semblance of intelligence as to ensure effectiveness in terms of autonomy. Speech aids them in their use as security, even. This, however-- I fear may be taken poorly if it spoke to people as you or I would, even if the research into such fields would be… quite fascinating. The potential in the ramifications for our people would be--” The Magister cut himself off as he shook his head. “...But I digress. I need to file these measurements still, shall we take this conversation back to my office?”

 

Kirital was quick to grab both his pack and Vathelan’s. “Yeah that’s fine. Whenever you’re ready!” He was quite eager it seemed, though Vath tried not to put too much thought into it.

 

With a nod, the Magister snapped his fingers. This action set forth a chain reaction behind him as he followed his bodyguard up the stairs, the miniature arcane explosion within the ice structure was just strong enough to send it crashing down in a portal that would send the frozen ice and its watery contents to safely plummet down below into the sea that rest beneath the floating city. They had plenty more work to do, and the Legion waited for no one.

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