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A Journey of Service

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(( This story thread is cross-posted on the Twilight Empire guild website. The first several posts are backlogged over the last couple of years, but they'll have dated entries at various points to help keep the timeline straight. ))

August, 2015

"Fel damn it!"

The soft blue glow, tenuous at best, flickered and faded into nothingness. Its death elicited a frustrated growl from the burgundy-haired woman attempting to coax the glow into existence. "Wretched—I know I—" She sighed. "Nether take it, and you, Jhaafenn, for that look." The Fel Hunter in question let out a quiet huff and swayed his tentacles in another direction, no longer interested now that his mistress's magical attempts had petered out.

Ketani returned her attention to the project before her. At the last Steward's meeting she'd promised Aryanna—cousin and Path Leader both—that she would make some progress on her assignment. The nethermancer had thought prodding fellow Imperials to meet with her and discuss their craft and trade skills had been an arduous enough task, but crafting the vessel which would house her gathered information was proving to be even worse. Ketani envisioned an enchanted book of some sort that would return information in response to vocal commands. Input was not a problem, as she had perfected that with her notebook for this assignment—but retrieval was causing issues. 

The warlock brushed away some wayward dust, the only remnant of a wasted shard, and took stock of her remaining inventory. A few components were low—almost completely diminished...she would have to acquire some more before making another attempt.

But not tonight.

Now that this avenue of productivity was blockaded for the time being, tonight could be spent in more pleasurable pursuits.

Copper-hued eyes cast about the small apartment housed within the Scryer's Tier of Shattrath City. She could perhaps have more room elsewhere, but these were established and familiar. They also provided close access to her preferred cloth supplier, and Miralisse had proven invaluable in her latest project: the nearly-completed gown created specifically for her cherished cousin's wedding.

The gown's style was similar to, and inspired by, robes worn by Chancellor Skylah. Where hers were red and black, offering almost a sultry appearance, Ketani's creation was pale with blues that would make the bride's eyes shine and muted golds to brighten the glow of her skin. The cloth would shimmer in the natural light of their chosen venue, draping and clinging in all the proper areas. Once complete, it would be an elegant, beautiful work of art fit for the elegant beauty of the woman who would wear it.

Ketani only hoped Katelle would love it as much as she was loved by Ketani. With a soft sigh, the seamstress bent to continue work on her wedding gift.

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“Dear Diary” sounds so…quaint. I am hardly a teenager keeping track of her day-to-day musings. Perhaps as a letter? “For the eyes of my cousin, Seneschal Aryanna Anahi” would be more on point, as you shall be my only reader. No? Then merely a scrawled date with which to indicate the passage of time.

Such shall begin my journal of social encounters, as agreed upon to gauge my progression of both successes and failures as they relate to my objective: the all-encompassing "sociability."

Ketani removed her quill from with page, a frown marring her face as the drying ink marred the parchment.

“This is ludicrous,” she muttered, looking to where Jhaafenn lay. “A waste of time.” The Fel Hunter observed her with its eyeless face, silence its only other response. Ketani sighed and turned her gaze back to the journal. “But necessary. I know.”

Friday, August 7th, 2015

I have always enjoyed casual banter, but it is rare I engage in such with individuals I am not already at ease with. Tonight, however, I made every effort to engage Chancellor Mackinzie over the guildstone, hoping to capitalize on her enthusiasm in announcing the meeting of her Ambassadors. I was not disappointed by her willingness to keep the banter going, though upon arrival at the meeting location it became increasingly apparent that she was—

The warlock snorted at the memory. The young priestess had been overly-engaging in more ways than one. Ketani’s initial fears were that Skylah was intoxicated—a fear also voiced privately by Autumn Delenay—and then that she was under the influence of some recreational substance. Katelle assured her it was neither of those things, however, and she took her cousin at her word. It would not do to make such insinuations about one path leader to another, though…

in an uncommonly good mood, and perhaps suffering a touch of sweets-induced hyperactivity, given the delightful array of edibles provided. Throughout the course of the meeting, I made it a point to actively engage in the event discussions and converse with participants when not strictly necessary. All told, it was a moderately enjoyable experience.

The warlock frowned as another memory arose, this one of Skylah’s excited self making the rounds and raising her palm in anticipation of another’s slapping against it. Tentatively, she set her quill to parchment again.

Tonight’s meeting also marked my first participation in a “high five.”

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Monday, August 10th, 2015

Some years ago, Katelle and I had the odd pleasure of meeting a sin’dorei from a group known as “The Jeweled Blood.” Some weeks after our initial (and separate) meetings, Kate visited me upon the Tier and we encountered this sin’dorei again. Plans were made at that point to meet regularly, as this fellow was keen on more friends within the Alliance. Even though he supposedly called Scryer’s Tier his home, as do I, we had not seen him since—until late last month, when I encountered him in the Seer’s Library. We again made plans to meet regularly, the first of such meetings having occurred earlier this evening within the World’s End Tavern.

Ketani reached for a still-crisp apple slice, one of many remnants of the fruit platter she and Demetri had shared, and considered her next words while savoring the apple’s sweet crunch. Tonight, as well as at their last meeting, Demetri had been much as she remembered him: sweet, playful, and carefree. Perhaps there was some truth behind his claim that—how had he put it?—“This is why I did like talking to you in the first place, I can tease you and you don’t generally think I’m an asshole.” She chuckled, ignoring the questioning tilt of Jhaafenn’s head. The elf’s reaction to her response that she lived asshole regularly enough to identify one had been a refreshingly sheepish mix of shock and denial. 

The warlock reached for another piece of fruit, popping the morsel into her mouth and resolving to ask the tavern master where he acquired his produce. Quill met parchment once more.

We spoke on a variety of topics over a light meal, ranging from Katelle’s upcoming wedding to social experiences. Demetri—surname Bloodstar, though he dislikes to be addressed by such—has always been jovial and playful in our admittedly limited acquaintance, and this night was no different. Contrary to myself, he seems to “wear his heart on his sleeve,” as it is said, and very obviously holds some level of emotional pain. This, coupled with his insistent, earnest naivety, is perhaps what drove me to match his ludicrous sentiment that we would both attempt to maintain the budding friendship rather than letting it fade to nothingness.

That still troubled her. It was not in the warlock’s nature to agree to such things, but she hadn’t had it in her to rebuff his hopeful earnestness. “But I can make promise that I will do my best to not forgotten be. I and won’t ever forget you,” he’d said in broken Common—a habit, she noticed, he displayed when he meant to demonstrate his sincerity. Such words came on the tail of her admission that she often pushed people away…but it didn’t seem as though he understood the meaning behind her own words, if his response was any indication. Rejection of the friendly overture had been on her lips, the instinctual syllables on the tip of her tongue— “Do not make promises you may not be able to keep”—but instead she’d smiled and replied in kind, correcting his linguistic mistakes in the process. Ketani scowled and resumed her entry.

 Such is inconceivably far from my initial reaction, but perhaps it indicates an openness to accountability that may prevent me from inevitably allowing such an acquaintance to fall by the wayside in the future.

My friends are few and far between. It will be nice, I think, to have another.

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August 11th, 2015

I met with Councilor Rednaxela Furyswipe this evening in the Blue Recluse of Stormwind’s Mage Quarter. He had been among the first to respond to my initial missives regarding my Steward’s assignment, and yet fatherhood has kept him quite busy. 

For someone who supposedly excels at storytelling, Councilor Furyswipe seems to be a man of few words. Perhaps I caught him on a difficult evening. It was not a long meeting, though in addition to discussing his tradeskills, crafting abilities, and hobbies, we spoke of the upcoming wedding and his own thoughts that perhaps he and Diplomat Skygazer should attend to one of their own soon. I offered my services as a seamstress if Julianaz should enjoy the work I have done on Katelle’s gown and took my leave soon after.

Tomorrow will be busy. It will be Kate’s first look at her gown, though I am positive she will adore it. I have not learned nothing of her in her nearly three decades of life, after all.

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“Well? What do you think?” She watched as the rogue circled the mannequin, eyes wide and disbelieving. When Katelle reached out a hand to touch the fabric and hesitated, Ketani scoffed. “It’s yours. Touch it.” Her command was obeyed with the gentlest of touches against the soft cloth and the faintest of smiles, and pride at her success flared in the warlock’s chest.

“I love it,” Katelle murmured. The awe in her voice was audible. 

“Go put it on.”

“R-right now?”

Ketani raised an eyebrow at the question. “Yes, right now. I need to make sure it fits.”

With a sheepish smile, Katelle took the garment and padded off to the bedroom. Ketani sat, taking a quill to her journal while she waited.

August 12th, 2015

I have done it again: Katelle adores the gown. But my musings on interactions with her, of all people, hardly qualify as ones “outside of my social circle,” so I shall move on to more relevant news.

I have agreed to accompany Private First Class Brinnea Velmon and other Twilight Keepers to the Tanaan Jungle a week from now. If they are going after souls, who better to assist than a warlock?

“You included dagger slits.”

The observation caused the warlock to look up at her cousin standing in the doorway. “I know you,” Ketani murmured with a small smile, setting her quill aside. Katelle broke into a beaming grin and spun in place.

“So you like it, then?” Ketani asked with a laugh.

“I told you, I love it. It’s perfect, Ket.”

The seamstress smiled knowingly and rose, striding past her cousin and beckoning the woman to follow.

“Sit,” she murmured, indicating the chair in front of her dressing table. The rogue did as bid and Ketani stood behind her, working her hands through the woman’s blonde hair and removing the leather strap holding it in her customary ponytail. Ketani gently combed her fingers through the bride-to-be’s hair, arranging it across her shoulders gently as Katelle watched on in the mirror. “We can let your hair fall naturally, and weave those little blossoms you love so much in it. Hm?”

Katelle’s only response was to smile tearfully at her cousin’s reflection in the mirror, and Ketani knew a moment of peace.

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August 13th, 2015

Myaka Winterborne came to me this night, inquiring after a gown of proper design for her role in Katelle’s wedding. I had assumed she would be doing so and took the liberty of beginning one I believed she would be comfortable in. Again, I was successful. It should be ready for her by tomorrow evening, aside from a few minor adjustments as needed.

Of greater interest, she has requested my assistance in enchanting her father’s shield so that it will not shatter in combat. It seems she wishes to use this shield as part of her standard battle armaments, a very precarious position for an item of such sentimental value. We have arranged for her to provide me with several similar items that I may practice the enchantment before applying it to the real thing; however, I will need to first determine what materials such shall require and where I can get them. 

After relaying this to Myaka, she seemed pleased and indicated that my thoroughness in my craft, and respect for the value inherent in her shield, are the reasons she sought me out rather than another enchanter. I confess to surprise at the notion, given our…rocky association over the course of the past year, but am honored to be trusted with such nonetheless.

If I am correct in my understanding of some Draenic enchanting practices, I may be making a trip to Draenor once Katelle and Zakarnas have returned from their honeymoon and my duties as that week’s sitter have ended. I will conduct some prior research before leaving, but perhaps the materials I need for Myaka’s shield reside in a dimension some decades past.

Ketani tapped the feathered end of the quill against her lips. That wasn’t where their discussion had ended—indeed, while it was the first conversation of length the two had shared in almost a year since Myaka had participated in Katelle’s house arrest, they still held shared animosity for the rogue’s parents.

Well. Her father, to be exact. Ketani’s Aunt Althea wasn’t a bad woman, but had merely caved to her husband’s vociferous demands regarding their daughter. And Jaxton himself… 

Jhaafenn was her most common companion, but he had not been the one to put her uncle in his proper place the first time. That honor had belonged to her twenty-something self and Bryyla, her smart-talking, whip-cracking succubus—but nobody needed to know the details of that little game. It would not be difficult to head him off before he potentially made a scene, though, should he make an appearance on Sunday.

We spoke on your father somewhat, as well, dear Aryanna. As I told Myaka, my mother—your Aunt Shiree—still holds contact with him and Katelle’s mother both. They are aware that they are grandparents, but I believe my mother will wait to inform them of their daughter’s wedding until after the fact, lest they arrive uninvited. 

It is possible she has told your father about you and your other siblings as well, but I am uncertain. I will inquire if you wish me to do so.

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Ketani hugged the young red-haired boy to her side while watching the light of her life pledge her mortal soul and hand in marriage to the odd-haired elf some four centuries her senior. The boy was nervous around so many unknown people, but even still he only had eyes for his adopted parents. He sniffled as Katelle cited him as the catalyst for the love she shared with Zakarnas, and Ketani leaned down to press a kiss to the top of his head.

“Are they really together because of me?” the boy asked her sometime later as they sat against the wall, quietly observing the wedding guests and talking gently amongst themselves and little Sophronia. 

“They are, Marzano,” Ketani replied. “Your father saw how much this woman cared for his adopted son without ever being asked to, and it was their mutual love for you that brought them together.”

The boy smiled, watching as his parents gazed up at each other. Katelle chose that moment to scan the room and catch their eyes, waving and smiling brightly before blowing a kiss to her son. Zakarnas followed his new wife’s gaze and grinned goofily, causing Marzano to grin right back.

“That’s pretty neat. I did a thing, Auntie Ket.”

The warlock chuckled, pecking the top of the boy’s head with a kiss and leaning across him to check on his infant sister as she lay in her basket. “Yes, my darling boy, you did.”

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"This is why I keep to myself." Full lips twisted in displeasure as their owner stared down at the parchment before her. The utterance continued with the same disgruntled heat as before. "How am I supposed to focus with these--these--these idiocies?" Jhaafenn did not bother to look up at his Mistress, familiar by now with her habit of speaking aloud to inanimate objects.

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Katelle's wedding was lovely. If not for shy Marzano and infant Sophronia in my care, I would have seen for to mingle more. I met the newlyweds sometime after their departure from the reception to return their children. Brewbies Stoutbeard will care for them this week and I will have them the week after, provided everything goes as planned in the Citadel.

I sought the advice of Enchantress Andiala regarding Myaka's shield this afternoon, and intended to spend some time in the Seer's Library to cross-reference their works with the tome the Enchantress lent me. The silence was immediately shattered by a young sin'dorei arguing quite vehemently with Enchanter Salias, one of many Apprentices, about her uncle's need of bandages and the lack of hazard payment he had received from the Scryers for services incompletely rendered due to an attack. Perhaps against my better judgement I followed the girl--what she was doing arguing with a fully-fledged Scryer I have no idea, but she could not have seen more than fourteen summers--and would have offered my assistance if she had not been called at that very moment.

It seems the girl is niece-by-honor to my newest associate, and that Demetri can be effectively cowed by a mere teenaged girl.

His wounds were minor, resulting from an orc attack on his person while attempting to single handedly run supplies from Hellfire Peninsula to Shattrath City. Once I procured bandages and saw his niece (a young magistrix named Eliyah, who seems to think I am "nice") departed, I assisted in redressing said wounds with the bandages and the herbal salve Katelle was able to recreate. We have tentatively agreed to meet again late next week under less pressing circumstances.

"Nice" indeed. Eliyah seemed to be under the impression that there was some involvement between her uncle and this "nice" woman. Ketani scowled. What had he been telling the girl? Was she simply romanticizing things where there was nothing to be romanticized? The warlock had taken their playful banter as exactly that, and nothing more. But his embarrassment was still palpable hours later, and his thanks of her assistance had been almost too profuse. Perhaps he had merely been uncomfortable being caught in such a state, being fussed over by Eliyah like that? Ketani allowed her gaze to lose its focus as she ran snippets of conversation through her mind once more. One in particular stood out, though not for any relevant reason.

"Were that I a Hydromancer..." The utterance had been soft and unintended, and she hadn't noticed the thought had left her lips.

"Is that so? Why a Hydromancer?" The small jar of salve accompanied his query, and she took it without thinking on his question. Long-fingered hands unscrewed the jar as he spoke. "Thank you for this, by the way. didn't have to do all this, but yeah...I already told you I appreciate it, so I'll say it again. Thanks." She was too busy studying his wounds to pay much attention to her own response.

"Water is better for wound-cleaning than Fel Fire." The frown that marred her face was not one of concentration, as she made it seem, but consternation: what in the Nether had possessed her to openly admit to nethermancy? She covered her discomfiture with a quick swipe of two fingertips into the jar and the subsequent application to one of the wounds on the elf's scarred back. "And if it makes you feel better about accepting the help, consider it for your niece's piece of mind, hm?" Demetri laughed nervously, and the knowing dismay blossoming in her chest grew.

Even the sin'dorei could uncomfortable when in close-quarters with a known warlock.

This assignment for the Imperial Stewards had shown Ketani a great many responses in regards to her person. Some, who knew her as a warlock, did not seem to mind her presence so long as she kept her demeanor pleasant. Others were more reserved around her once they realized what she was, leaving quickly after their business was complete. Still others had no clue, and one had become outright defensive upon sensing a "Fel presence" nearby--and when Ketani casually stated that even the lack of active augmentations could not keep the presence hidden from one who is sensitive to it, the previously-friendly paladin had withdrawn and told her to keep her demons confined to the Nether while in her presence lest they two have...problems. 

Did the woman think her a complete idiot? Who in their right mind would have such companions present in the public eye, especially after having just said they were not upon the mortal plane? Honestly. 

And to think these people considered themselves beacons of tolerance and acceptance. Hypocrites. The familiar word danced in her mind.

The sight of the eternium rose upon her desk jerked Ketani's musings back to their original thread. She scowled darkly, looking away and allowing her quill to fall listlessly to the desk. The rose was a gift from her lover, early in their...she hesitated to call it a relationship, but that was as good a word as any. Sylvathil had been absent for a month now, however, the sin'dorei having left in a stupendous huff during an argument. It began as a casual mention of her reconnecting with an old acquaintance and subsequent refusal to humor the elf's inane and jealous questions regarding the nature of hers and Demetri's association. Ketani stared again at her journal, copper eyes heavy with disgust at the entire situation.

Demetri was pleasant to be around, but she desired nothing more. One romantic entanglement was plenty, thank you, and perhaps even too much. She would have to ask him if she was misreading their situation...that would be the proper thing to do, yes? 

"This is ridiculous," Ketani muttered viciously. "Absolutely ludicrous. This," she exclaimed suddenly, gaze turning towards Jhaafenn, "is exactly why I prefer dealing with you lot instead of...people." Her lip curled in something akin to anger, eyes casting a final look to her journal and the eternium rose. 

"I don't have time for this. There are preparations to be made before we infiltrate the Citadel." With a clipped wave of her hand, Ketani sent the journal floating back to its home on her bookshelf. A second and final wave brought forth a tome of grim content. If she were to be dealing with freeing souls in two days’ time, rather than their capture and storage, she needed to ensure she had not forgotten the proper rituals...Ketani huffed one last time before fully settling in to peruse the tome.


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Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Last night proved to hold a pleasurable distraction from my preparations for the Citadel. As requested, I lead the Steward’s Meeting—such as it was, that is, with a mere single attendant other than myself. Autumn and I discussed her upcoming “TE Talks” events, I to offer what suggestions and encouragement I could here and there. She asked if I wanted to discuss my own assignment, to which I agreed, and we passed a pleasant half-hour or so in conversation on not only my compendium but Keeper Velmon’s upcoming foray as well. 

It seems Autumn does not feel a compulsion to aid the souls of the dead—simple ghosts, as she calls them—against their unfortunate fate. In truth, I cannot blame her. One who does not dabble in soul magic, or the study thereof, or who has never experienced the death of themselves, would not understand. She seems too young to understand the sort of mindset it takes to put oneself at risk for the dead without that sort of knowledge; but of course, that is hardly her fault. I would rather someone so young not know what it means to understand than curse them for that lack.

If she is lucky, young Autumn Delenay will never know the answer to her own question: what does it feel like to become a ghost?

Ketani allowed her quill to drop as she surveyed her home. Everything was in order for her departure, from the perishables in her cabinets being put under a stasis spell to her research being tucked away in orderly neatness. A note for Sylvathil was resting under his rose should she not return, or return incomplete. Brewbies had been informed of the possibility that she would need to watch the children for a second week. Her prepared robes—the one Katelle affectionately referred to as her “stealth regalia”—hung ready in her bedroom. A number of potions were tucked away in her enchanted pouch for emergency purposes. Ketani had even procured a number of empty, unbreakable soul shards in case any of her party wished to safeguard themselves in that way.

The only thing left now was to ensure her own soul was properly protected. The warlock surveyed the sapphire-tinged sphere she now held in her hand. 

Soon the inky void at its center would glow with her soul—not for the first time, and not for the last.

Some time later, the dispassionate figure lazily scrawled a message upon the final page of her journal:

All preparations for the joint foray from Lion’s Watch to the Hellfire Citadel are complete. This journal is finished for this reporting period and will be sent via courier to your person, that you may have access to it in the likely event of an unfortunate turn of luck.

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"Father, this is dull."

A single brown eyebrow arched itself above a straight nose and high cheekbones, the man's visage gazing curiously at the young girl before him. "Dull, pet? You are learning the core of power, lessons that will stay with you until the day you draw your last breath. How is that dull?"

Ketani pouted, copper eyes flickering with annoyance and lips petulant. "This is bookwork! I'm not a baby anymore, but you won't let me cast anything!" Her father laid down his book and looked straight at her, nut-colored hair falling down around his shoulders.

"You are not ready."

The simple statement caused the girl to scowl. "I am too!" The man chuckled, causing her to scowl even deeper. "What's so funny?!"

"You're just like your mother," he said with another small laugh. "She acts just the same when she doesn't get her way. No, my dear. You are not ready for the castings."

"But why not?" Childish anger colored her words, impotent under the weight of her young age. "I've studied so much, Father." 

"And continue to study you will, until I say otherwise."

Her scowl turned into a glare. "But why?"

The man sighed, shifting in his seat to better face his daughter. He waved her forward, and she obeyed without a word. Already, her steps held a hint of the grace she inherited from both parents. "Do you want power, Ketani?" She nodded in response, stance firm even as her father met her at eye level like he did when he was about to make a point she wouldn't like. "Power is only for the strong. It is meant to be taken, my little love, but only by those who are able to do so." She opened her mouth to protest that she could take it, that she would--but she was silenced by her father's long-fingered hand cupping her cheek. "And you will be strong enough--but not yet. You are not strong enough to take this power without it consuming you. And so--" He patted her cheek lovingly and allowed his pale hand to fall away. "We must make you strong. Do you understand?"

"Yes." The single syllable held some lingering petulance, but the man seemed to accept it. 

"Good girl," he murmured. "Your mother would kill me if I let you begin before ensuring you are prepared. Just be patient, little one, and we will prepare you together."

Ketani sighed, nodding her small face in acknowledgement, and went back to her desk and her books and her quills. Her father did not see the look she cast at her left hand, remembering the shadowy energy she had summoned forth not a week prior...nor did Ketani see the look her father cast at her, knowledge of his only child's burgeoning power--and her active seeking of it--burning a hole in his heart.


"Auntie Ket, this is boring."

Ketani raised a red eyebrow at her "nephew," sitting back in her seat and placing a bookmark in the tome she had been purusing. "Boring? You've never complained about bookwork before, Marzano. What's boring about it?"

The young boy shrugged, flicking his quill back and forth. "I dunno. I just can't focus on it right now. And we used to work with spells, do you remember? Not lately though. This is just...dull."

Ketani sighed softly, and her full lips curved into a gentle smile. "We'll take a break, then. Come here, child."

Marzano stepped forward without hesitation, climbing onto the loveseat next to his aunt and leaning against her side. The woman wrapped an arm about his shoulders and bent down to kiss his bright copper hair.

"Do you know why I have you study so much, Marzano?" She felt his disgruntled sigh before she heard it.

"Because this power is dangerous to people who don't know how to use it."

Ketani squeezed his shoulder gently. "But it is also dangerous to those who do know how to use it, and that is why we must all strive to maintain our knowledge of core lessons. I was made to study just like you, dear one, and I still do today. Without that foundation, I may have been consumed a long time ago."

Marzano shifted slightly and looked up at her. "But we used to cast. Why did we stop?"

Ketani smiled ruefully, running her long fingers through the boy's hair affectionately. "Because you learned some things from your parents that you did not know how to control, Marzano. What happens if we cannot control our power?" Both knew that "parents" did not refer to Katelle and Zakarnas, but rather the boy's birth parents. Ketani knew they had been powerful warlocks before their death during the Cataclysm. She was unsure if an aptitude for nethermancy was passed through the blood--her own father was one, but her interests had been initially fostered elsewhere--and yet by all accounts, Marzano's parents had fused a part of their souls with the gem the boy carried in his late father's staff. She strongly suspected this was the source of his abilities, unnaturally strong for one of such a tender age.

"We risk being overpowered by it, and that can hurt ourselves and the people we love."

Ketani nodded approvingly. "When you are ready, we will begin practicing again. We will start with basic magics, those that stem from the Arcane; these will help you more than you realize now. Power must be earned, dear one; those who take it without having earned the right to do so will suffer the consequences. But you must be patient. Do you promise, Marzano?" Copper eyes met violet ones as the boy considered the request. Ketani knew he understood the trust implicit in a promise, and knew he would take it seriously. 

If she could just keep him from the temptations of the Fel, his life would be vastly improved. He had already been looked down upon by many of his mother's comrades. One--Resileaf Ravenwing--had called for his death some years ago. He was a boy of not even ten summers, and already he was feeling the pressures of society, being punished for the lives of his birth parents and his inheritance from them.

It sickened her. They all sickened her.

"I promise, Auntie Ket."

She smiled softly, and bent to kiss her nephew's hair once more. A bit later, when Marzano went back to his studies, Ketani retrieved her journal and quill.

Wednesday, August 26th

This week has proven to be uneventful after my return from the Citadel. I am taking care of Katelle’s two children, overseeing Marzano’s theoretical studies as normal and attempting to keep little Sophie happy. I am unsure when I will return to my normal routine--such depends on if the newlyweds return to theirs at the appointed time or not.

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“Do you understand now, that when I say I cannot use a different foci I mean I cannot use a different foci? The matrix just won’t support it.”
“Hmmmmm.” The prolonged hum of contemplation made her jaw clench. If he kept to pattern, another annoying hum would sound right about… “Hmmmm.Now.
“Will you stop that?” 

The red-haired man looked up from his inspection of the crystalline module that would fuel Ketani’s ambitious, enchantment-driven compendium. “My my, you’re getting awfully touchy as the years go by,” he chastised, his lilting Thalassian accent barely noticeable in his use of Common. “Need I remind you that I have been at this for far longer than your years in this universe, my dear?” 

The condescension in his tone made her shoulders stiffen. “No. I am quite aware—such is why I wrote to you for assistance, Trelorian.” 

The two shared a look for a moment before the elf—Trelorian—chuckled and pulled off his spectacles, tucking them safely in a pocket of his robes. “Ah, sweet girl. You’re so much like your dear old mother.” He straightened and sighed. “And you’re quite right—the matrix as is won’t support a different material, which means we’ll just have to keep digging.” He meandered around her workspace, picking up various odds and ends and inspecting them as he spoke. “Perhaps a different composite form of your median layer—”
“Don’t touch that.” Ketani snatched the eternium rose out of the man’s hands as she snapped the warning, gently returning it to its simple vase on her desk.
“…my, my,” Trelorian mused, eyeing her reaction curiously. “Touchy indeed.” He clapped his hands together and continued. “Well then! First things first. I am simply famished, Ketani, and once we’ve eaten and I’ve procured a place to sleep, we can really get to work.” 

She blinked owlishly at the man. “You’re staying here?”
“Indeed, for as long as it takes us to figure this out. Tut, tut,” he shushed her when she opened her mouth to protest. “I know you, child, and I know you would not have sought my assistance if you were not in dire need of it. So let us proceed in the most efficient manner.” When no further objection appeared to be coming, Trelorian smiled. “Good girl. Now, then—supper?”
Wednesday, September 9th, 2015
I have sought the assistance of an old colleague in “working out the kinks” of my compendium. The phrasing belongs to him, mind you. He agrees with my assertion of the problem, and is making arrangements to stay nearby until such a time as we can identify and implement a solution together. My trials and errors have thus far been...explosive, to say the least, and so I cannot offer a timeline until the issue has been resolved for safety reasons. 

I will also be leaving for Draenor within the coming weeks, to gather what materials I need for the enchantments to Myaka’s shield. My colleague believes the answer to the compendium’s enchantment problems lie in the use of purer materials from Draenor as well; thus, I hope to “kill two birds with one stone,” as they say.

Perhaps I shall meet yet more associates in Draenor. Wouldn’t that be exciting?

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Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

I’ve secured a temporary place with a caravan traveling the length and breadth of Draenor. They welcome my abilities as an enchantress and a seamstress, and do not appear too outwardly discomfited when I must use my offensive abilities in defense of the caravan against whichever enemies happen to be assaulting us. While I have not lived on the road in a long time, it is a refreshing change from my quarters in the current Shattrath. 

I have “befriended” a young Soul Priestess named Rheena who also rides with the caravan. The others, many of them made up of Azerothian races, often look askance at her as many do me, without true understanding and often a hint of fear. We often speak of our crafting abilities--she too is an enchantress, and strongly desires to learn to sew--but there is an undercurrent of companionship that springs from our mutual position as “outsiders.”

“Vhat are you vriting?” 

Ketani looked up from her journal, safe in the knowledge that the Draenei woman could not read Common. 

“See you vriting in other book, yes? Scribbles and diagrams for enchanting!” Rheena made a gesture in the air with both hands, mimicking the creation of enchanting runes. “But zhis is different book!” 

Ketani chuckled a little and laid her pen in between the bound pages of the journal. “It is like a letter and a diary combined. I write for my cousin back home.” 

Rheena nodded emphatically, “Oooo”ing her understanding. “Vhen you finish, ve talk about your magic book, yes? I had thought!” 

The warlock cocked an eyebrow and offered the priestess a smile, closing her journal. “I am ready now, Rheena. And after, I’ll show you how to mend that tear in the tent we found earlier today.” 

The dark-haired woman clapped her hands together enthusiastically. “Ai! Yes! And zhen, I teach you some Draenei over meal! Is much better zhan your Common. So pretty!” She laughed, and despite herself, Ketani laughed with her.

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Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

I have learned much about Draenic enchanting practices during these last two weeks, and have amassed a sizeable stockpile of raw materials with which to practice for my work on Myaka’s shield. 

The days with the caravan are long and tiresome, but it still feels good to travel again. I used to travel often, in my youth, when I could get time away from my mother’s--your paternal aunt’s--tavern, before I left for good to continue my magical studies. Sometimes I still wonder if she would have allowed me to leave without a fight if we had not already arranged for Katelle to take my place at the tavern. Have I offered, yet, to introduce you to your aunt? I am unsure. If not, consider the offer made.

But I digress. Rheena has taken it upon herself to teach me some of the Draenic language. It is not what I am used to, having learned Thalassian alongside my Common, but it is beautiful nonetheless and a difficult (but pleasurable) experience. The others we travel with seem to have gotten used to our presence, such as we are, and no longer cast mistrustful looks our way...that they realize we notice. They cannot afford to alienate either of us, however, and everybody knows it--so we have come to find a new sort of peace, one that allows Rheena and I to openly share in the conversation about the nightly campfire. 

I thought I saw Sylvathil--my...estranged? lover--two nights ago. A young, leather-clad elf with dark hair and a sand-hued feline companion--how many of those can there be, one might ask? Alas, Sylvathil was the second that I know of...the first was many years ago, more than I wish to count or reflect upon. And yet, this man was not either of them, making him the third. Perhaps it is for the better. I have too much to do, too much to think about, to allow myself such a distraction. Does it please you to know I smiled in greeting when we made eye contact, as any sociable individual might when crossing paths with a stranger? It should, because such an instinctive action came as a shock to me.

I grow tired. Farewell for now, cousin.

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“Talk vith me.”

“About what?”

“About vhat has been bothering you.”

“Nothing has been bothering me, Rheena. I am fine.”

“I am not being stupid, Ketani, unlike you!”

“Pardon me? Stupid?

“Ai! Stupid! Vith your brooding silence! You are I do not know, but angry! And being stupid vhen you vill not talk!” 

Ketani stared at the flustered soul-priestess, her uncertainty mixed with shock. She had never seen the woman resort to such base insults as “stupid” before, but then--what word might she have used if she were speaking in her native tongue? The warlock opened her mouth to issue a reply, but Rheena cut her off.

“And do not give me any of zhees denials! You have brood since you talk to your stone, a veek ago!” Her pale, glowing eyes stared accusingly at Ketani. “And you never tell me vhat happened! Ve are--vhat you say--friend! Ve are friend, no? Friends talk!” 

Ketani worked her jaw for several moments before she finally gave in to the woman's demands, Aryanna’s wry admonishments about her disconnection with other people ringing in her ears. “An... acquaintance of mine was kidnapped from her encampment and is now apparently being held hostage by a hostile organization,” she said lowly. Impotent anger edged her words. Rheena gasped, hands flying to her blue lips, and Ketani continued. “The situation calls for delicate tact, even with regards to potential combat, and thus leaves me impotent. And when I think about the position her older sister is in now…” Both of the warlock's long-fingered hands curled into fists. “My heart aches for her.” Her final words were lies by omission, but truthful in content. 

Rheena issued a moue of distress before laying a hand on Ketani's shoulder. “You should go to her and tell her zhat. Let her know you grieve vith her. Even if you cannot help.” 

“Perhaps,” Ketani allowed. She offered her companion a smile.

November, 2015

I do not know how Brianna has managed to keep an outward show of sanity. I may very well have stormed the bastards’ stronghold if it were Kate in Skylah’s position, my own impending death be damned. It is good that Brianna has not attempted to do so...perhaps she has far greater personal control than I do, or perhaps I underestimate myself.

Anger bubbles up inside of me with every beat of my heart. There is nothing I can do. My strongest skills would draw too much attention and put young Skylah's life in greater jeopardy, and my weaker, more subtle ones would not be enough. I am impotent. 

Rheena suggests that I meet with Brianna and “let her know she does not grieve alone,” but what good would that do? Truly? I have nothing to offer the woman but my own useless emotions, and I wager she has enough of her own emotions to deal with already. 

If I am perfectly honest with myself...and with you, sweet Seneschal...I am forced to admit that I am afraid to speak so candidly with young Lady Mackinzie. I hold no fear of her personally, but what her situation reminds me of. Your sister has never been stolen away from me, but she has faced numerous situations that have left her injured and hurting. Numerous times in which I should have been there to help her, but that I wasn't because she was capable of making her own decisions. Numerous times in which she left me no choice but to be unaware or uninvolved. Numerous times in which I wished I would have been there, despite the impossibility of such, to protect her. 

Is that how Brianna feels? Or has she moved beyond that, into a more productive mindset? I am afraid to discover either one. 

I am too weak to offer my condolences, and that weakness disgusts me.

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January, 2016

It has been some time since I have taken up pen and parchment in search of some personal reflection, dear cousin. I thought vaguely of dispensing with such a thing I have said before, I am not prone to enjoying such things and often see them as a chore or some form of frivolity. Perhaps to some individuals, ‘journaling’ is a beneficial process, and I would not begrudge them their time spent writing. I would think, however, that the day I confess actual enjoyment of the process is the day you ought to either have me questioned to ascertain my sanity and/or identity, or simply do away with me altogether.

Be that as it may, I made a commitment and would be loathe to renege on such. You may consider me properly self-chastised for my lapse in writing.

I have since returned home to Shattrath City from Draenor, having gathered what I hope is a sufficient supply of enchanting materials for both Myaka’s shield and my compendium. I have, of course, gone back a handful of times to meet with Rheena, and will continue to do so until such is no longer an option.

My colleague, mentioned some months back, is still assisting me with my project. We hope that our work will go smoother now that I have different materials with which to experiment. We believe we have a solid theoretical grasp on the causes of current issues with the physical interface, but practical applications will tell us for sure. I hope to have good news for you on that front soon.

I have recently been assisting Katelle with her research into the drug known as “Wreave.” You may not be familiar with your sister when she has sunk her teeth into a challenging project, but I have seen it time and time again. In the past, she often resorted to self-destructive behaviors in order to spend more functional time involved with whatever held her interest; now, I may rest easy knowing that she will be forced to keep her stimulant use to a minimum, which in turn requires her to sleep at some point. In addition to assisting her in her laboratory, I often take her children during the day--and sometimes overnight--so that her husband may see to it that she does not fall into old habits. While I am not altogether certain that I like the man--not that I have liked many, or perhaps any, of her lovers--I cannot deny that Zakarnas does his best to act in Kate’s best interest. 

Such is all I have to offer for now. Until we meet again, journal.

Ketani stared at her script in consternation. There was nothing truly of substance upon the pages--would Aryanna be upset, or would she accept the entry for what it was: a filler, to ‘get back into the swing of things?’ She did not know the priestess well enough to make an informed decision.

Not that it mattered, of course. It was what it was, and it was all she was getting for the time being. 

“If you focus that stare on your book any more, you’re apt to burn a hole straight through it.” 

Ketani glanced up at the voice, pinning its owner with the stare in question to avoid displaying that she had been startled by his arrival. “I was under the impression that you were sleeping.” 

Trelorian waved his hand dismissively, padding to the kitchen in his stocking feet. “I wanted a snack,” the elf called back to her, voice echoing in the cabinet halfway through his sentence. “It’s hard to sleep on an empty tum, dear girl.” 

Ketani rolled her eyes, slipping a bookmark into the journal and closing the leather-bound volume for the night. “I’m going to start making you earn your keep if you insist on filching from my pantry, fool man.” 

Trelorian stuck his head out from the doorway, nudging his spectacles higher up on the bridge of his nose. “And here I thought I was earning my keep by assisting you with that compendium of yours, young lady. More fool me, I suppose.” He lifted a cannister of dried fruits. “May I?” The warlock waved a hand in acquiescence, and the robe-clad elf returned to the sitting room. He seated himself across from Ketani, unscrewing the cannister lid and reaching an elegant hand in to retrieve a nibble. “So, child, why the cruel look to that innocent tome of personal lore?” 

“I am hardly the type to write about my…” Ketani’s lip curled. “Feelings.”

“And why must you?” He popped a bite of fruit into his thin-lipped mouth before reaching into the cannister for another and offering the container to Ketani. She leaned forward and retrieved an apricot, taking a bite before answering.

“The intended reader--Seneschal Anahi--is family. Kate would be cross with me if I disappointed her.” 

“Family? You told me the girl was married to a kaldorei man, child and everything.” 

Ketani waved her hand dismissively. “Her sister, you fool. Half. An early issue of my dear uncle, it seems.” 

Trelorian’s lip curled in distaste. “I never did like that man,” he muttered. “But that doesn’t explain why you’re writing all of this pish-posh for this woman.” 

The woman shrugged, casting a dark look towards the journal. “It’s part of my duty for the Empire. Aryanna and I agreed that I could stand to be more social, and such was part of how I would detail my efforts.” 

The elf watched Ketani with pensive eyes as she spoke, remaining silent for a few moments after before replying. “She’s right. You could stand to be less of a recluse.” 

“If you’re about to give me a lecture, old man, you can march yourself right out that--”

“Oh, pish.” Trelorian scoffed, red locks shimmering in the soft light as he shook his head. “I’m not about to lecture you, little one. You come by your seclusion honestly; both of your parents are much the same.” He smiled, Fel-green eyes bright even in the dimness of the room. “And both of them are hardly inclined to journal their innermost thoughts and emotions, either. I am happy to see you breaking the mold.” 

Ketani sighed, the wind mostly taken out of her sails. “I’m going to bed. Put that back when you are finished, will you?” she asked, indicating the cannister of fruit. “If I get ants because of your slovenliness, you will be the one to get rid of them.” 

“Yes, yes, yes, I know. Don’t you fret your angry little head over a nonexistent pest problem.” Trelorian’s lips quirked with amusement, and Ketani shook her head. She stood, and the elf reached out to gently grab her arm as she made to pass. “I am happy to see you doing this,” he murmured earnestly. “If you let it, I think it will do you a world of good.” 

Ketani merely stared at him for a moment, copper eyes gauging his sincerity, before squeezing his hand with her own. She dropped it a moment later, and Trelorian released her arm. “I will see you in the morning,” she murmured. 

The elf flashed her a small smile, the expression fading as she crossed into her bedchamber and shut the door.

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Pain. Everywhere. Sometimes it was in her chest, sometimes in her head, sometimes radiating into her limbs. It was a physical pain while she was connected to reality, like now. Intense. Blinding. Sickening. Red, red like the gaping hole where her heart had been obliterated before her magic--and the healers--took hold. 

Ketani took a breath and tried to force her mind away from the pain. She needed to focus on trying to say actual words, words that made sense, words that weren’t the gibberish she’d been spewing from hand and mouth.

Simple. Start simple. Keep it simple. Simple.

“Ered’shat,” she rasped to the empty room. Ketani wanted to scream. Even her gibberish was gibberish! Doomlight, indeed.  

But at least she was mentally lucid...for the moment. As far as anybody else knew, however, she was completely disconnected from sanity. She couldn’t communicate with anyone in a way that made some form of sense. Trelorian had even tried to clutch at her soul to connect with her on one of the deepest, most intrinsic levels a creature could connect on--and he had come away with a befuddled frown and a growing panic in his Fel-green eyes. 

It had been then that she realized what was happening. The disguised Nathrezim that shot her--for she had felt its unmistakable presence while her soul was trapped between body and the howling confines of the Nether--had caused a phasal disturbance. With her soul. The magic binding soul to soulstone also controlled the soul’s return to the body, and he’d expertly tweaked those bonds. Her soul was desperately trying to settle once again in the mortal vessel that housed it, but it couldn’t quite make it. Body and soul were quite literally out of alignment, occupying different spheres of the same realm. 

It had to be that. It explained everything. Her will was strong and her spellwork excellent, but she was no match for the raw power of a Nathrezim. Occasional moments of internal lucidity were all she could manage against the demon’s meddling. 

She doubted that answer. Sometimes. Other times, it was the only thing that made sense through the blinding agony.

Ketani only knew how much time had passed thanks to her caretakers. Caretakers. The word made her sick. She was still young. She shouldn’t need a caretaker. And yet there they were, taking it upon themselves to maintain her body while they tried to figure out her soul. Trelorian took most of the work of both upon himself, she noticed--his magic made it easier to tend to her body’s needs, and Katelle would be busy with her children now that she did not have somebody to care for them while she worked.

Or so she thought, until the first time she heard Marzano’s young voice and little Sophie’s toddler babbles. As it turned out, even after all these years, Trelorian was still good with children.

The warlock didn’t know how long had passed between her “death” and the first time she awoke into internal lucidity. The first face she’d seen had been Katelle’s. Pale skin, dull eyes, straw-like hair--they were all telltale signs that the rogue had been neglecting herself for some time. She tried to speak, to offer her cousin comfort, to chastise her for her self-negligence, anything, but what came out was chaotic gibberish. She wasn’t even sure if it was a language in any sense of the word. 

Those first waking moments didn’t last very long. The pain erupted before Katelle could do so much as hold her hand, her screams erupting with it, and the red-hot blackness of the deep, dark pit where her soul belonged claimed her. 

Subsequent episodes of wakefulness blended together in a swirling mass of uncertainty. She recalled little bits here and there, but most of her memories were tinged with anguish. Eventually, she learned to push past the blinding agony and hold tighter to those precious moments of consciousness. Those moments became minutes, and sometimes those minutes became hours before she screamed herself raw again. Katelle and Trelorian tried to talk to her during those times, focusing on trying to determine a pattern in her mindless words and decipher her meaning. It was an impossible task, of course, and Ketani knew it--and yet she had no way of communicating that to them. 

She’d almost given up hope in recovering from her affliction when young Marzano, of all people, sat in front of her and spoke.

“I keep trying to tell them that they’re going about it wrong, but they won’t listen to me.” He smiled a wry smile that she never expected to see on a ten-year-old boy. His violet eyes were serious as he continued. “It’s been almost three months since you were hurt.”

Three months...that made it May?

“Mom’s been a mess, but Dad has tried to keep her going. She’s managing okay. Uncle Trel is helping me keep my studies up when he isn’t working with you.” 

Ketani appreciated the boy’s choice in words--though young, he knew her well enough to know that she would not appreciate being taken care of.

“He’s kind of messed up your bookshelves, though. I think he’s gone through most of what you have trying to figure out what’s wrong with you. He’s brought a lot of his own, too, and we’ve gone to the Scryer’s Library a lot for their help.” Marzano gave her a sheepish smile, seeming unperturbed by her body’s apparent inability to keep her eyes focused on him. “I’ve tried to keep your shelves as neat as I can, though. I don’t know where some of the books you won’t let me touch go, so I haven’t tried to put them back.” 

Not for the first time, Ketani’s heart swelled at the thoughtfulness of this little boy. He was exceptionally considerate for one so young. Katelle (and Zakarnas, as loathe as she was to admit it) had done a good job with him thus far, especially in light of his tragedy at the hands of the Cataclysm. She wondered if he was simply special or if children were truly that resilient. 

“Uncle Trel said I could study in here until you lose consciousness again. I hope that’s alright.” He looked a little anxious about it, and Ketani wished she could assure him that of course it was alright. “I...might’ve lied to him a little, though,” he continued, voice dropping to a whisper. “I tried to help him with figuring out what’s wrong with you, but he acted like I’m useless. I know I’m just a kid, and that I’ve still got a lot to learn, but I’m not an idiot.” A touch of youthful anger was showing through his voice by the end, and he took a deep breath to try and calm himself. Ketani had seen his mother do it a thousand thousand times. “So I’m not gonna study. I’m gonna pretend to study, and I’m gonna research my own theory. Sorry if you disapprove.” 

She knew from the cheeky grin he gave her that he wasn’t sorry, but she didn’t mind. He was certainly his parents’ son.

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