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Terror ripped through Delphinia's chest and wound its way up her throat, clawing its way out of her mouth in a cry.


She couldn't think about the consequences right now. A ghoul's head split open on her daggers. She couldn't think about the years of effort keeping a secret. The swath of carnage she cut through the city was a blur, leaving a mass of uncounted bodies in her wake. There was only one thing that mattered.


Her voice cracked with a sob. When had she started crying? The front door splintered as a wedged dagger and a kick popped the lock. He had to be alright. He had to be. She slammed into the wall with the momentum of heading to the stairs, leaving a splatter of blood and ichor in her wake. When she reached the door shaking hands practiced with years of lockpicking fumbled with panic at the lock.


The door gives way to expertise, and she's barely aware of the arcane alarm being tripped. A tiny extra wave of panic flows over Delph, but it's drowned out by the blood pounding in her ears. The ichor of fallen ghouls drips from her armor onto simple, clean carpeting, her boots grinding in the leavings of carnage she'd created and waded through. She tears through the apartment, crying her brother's name, throwing open any spot he might have hidden.

She couldn't give in to despair, even as each small room turned up nothing. Couldn't think about how upset he would be to see her again. How much it would hurt. Couldn't think about what would happen if she couldn't find him. Couldn't think about what terrible fate might have befallen him. Because he could still be out there, he could still need her help. All that mattered now was finding him, protecting him. 

That was the real reason she came to Stormwind. Her terror barely contained under a veneer of duty for her men. Men she had quickly left behind in her panicked dash for her brother's flat. 

He wasn't here. Her breath shook as she struggled not to give in to panic. Where next? She swallowed down a hundred terrible scenarios flashing through her head. The Keep or the Cathedral were most likely, she decided. The guard had been evacuating people to the Cathedral, she knew that, or Didge had been at work at the Keep. The Cathedral was closer, she decided. And if he wasn't there, she would head for the Keep. She tried not to think about any other alternatives for now. Just one thing at a time. Don't spiral out.

She leaps from the small balcony, landing with violence among the restless undead. Her eyes flash over potential hiding spots or places he might have been as her voice wears hoarse from shouting for him. It takes time to cut through the ghouls to the Cathedral, but when she reaches it she still takes the stairs two at a time. Crashing through the doors shoulder first, she pants as her eyes flicker across the main room. The panic permanently roosted in her gut rises higher and higher with each face that doesn't belong to her brother.

A laugh cuts through the hubbub of the busy Cathedral, warm and bright, strange and yet deeply familiar. Delphinia had almost forgotten she could hear anything besides the panicked rush of blood in her ears. 

Didge was smiling. Laying on a cot and bandaged, but smiling. Laughing and chatting and holding the hand of some lad about his age. He was safe.

The wave of relief is so strong it threatens to knock Delphinia off her feet. It takes her a moment to even notice the others he was sitting with. Kay and Johann? Suddenly the wave of relief had a thousand undercurrents of other emotions ripping at her. Doubt, confusion, pain. She turns and quickly makes her way out the door before she could be swept up by all of them.

She stumbles down the stairs she had so recently run up with such determination. Adrenaline wearing off, wounds she hadn't noticed before and anxieties compete for her attention. Finding a planter to half hide herself behind, she sinks to the ground, winding her fingers up into her hair and choking out sobs.

He got hurt. You let him get hurt. Why were they there? He got here on his own. He doesn't need you. Do they know? He's going to see the flat. Did Baur go looking for him? Is that why his children are here with Didge? Stupid, sloppy, reckless. Who could have told? Who betrayed me? He's hurt and it's your fault. Who all knows? You ruin everything you touch. He doesn't need you. Baur can blackmail you with this. Weakness. Why are you here? He hates you. Who all did Baur tell? You need to leave...

The crackle of Delphinia's radio cuts through the panicked stream of thought. She jumps at the sound, and holds the device between shaking hands.

"Boss Lady Delphinia? Where you might be? I wish to meet you in person." 

Kayrisa. But Delphinia had just seen Kayrisa sitting next to Didge. Kay had to know, didn't she? Could it be a coincidence that they ended up in cots next to each other? Had she just unwittingly said Delphinia's name in front of him and ruined years of keeping Didge thinking she was dead? Every inch of Delphinia screams that this is a trap, and yet, not responding seemed worse. If they didn't know for sure yet, Delphinia being odd about it would tip them off.

Delphinia clutches the radio between her hands and gulps down a few deep breaths. She couldn't let her men hear her fear, her tears. "Cathedral square. Preparin' to return t' Icecrown." Not entirely a lie, for how deeply she wanted to run halfway across the world.

Another voice crackles through the radio, Baldric. "You here restockin' too, boss? I was thinkin' of headin' back out now I got them kids safe, but iffin we's needed in Icecrown, sign me up." 

The words are uncomplicated by the situation in the Cathedral and Delphinia tries to focus on them. She was still the boss here, and there was a job she had been lining up in Icecrown before dropping everything to rush to Stormwind. "The guard has it from here. More work t' be done in Icecrown."

"Yer the boss, boss. I'll finish up restockin' bullets an' come meet up with ya." Talking to Baldric is relief in comparison to the veritable minefield of Kayrisa.

A relief that doesn't last long as Kayrisa's voice pipes up again. “Could you make it up to the Cathedral and make sure everyone in the group is fixed up before heading up?”

Fuck. Delphinia freezes, staring down at the radio in her hands. This has to be a trap. It has to be. But it's such a reasonable request, how could she refuse? If she told Kayrisa to fuck off everyone would know something was up. Everyone will know. The Cathedral was busy, maybe she could just avoid then and check to see the other Honorborn. But on the other hand... Delphinia sat, half-paralyzed by the uncertainty, weighing the options as the anxiety in her gut twisted itself into more and more of a frenzy with every moment she didn't answer. 

"Yeh. In a few minutes." Delphinia drops the radio in her lap after answering it, immediately regretting her choice. She comforts herself with the thought that Didge at least wouldn't recognize her worgen form as she wipes her eyes on the inside of her mask. She could be quick, she could be secret. She pulls the cloak tight, hiding her face beneath hood and mask. Her heart is in her throat. She twists her mask around to hide the marks from her tears under her hood. After spending a minute to compose herself as much as possible, she stands, her wounds screaming in protest. Her injuries would have to wait a bit longer. She trudges back up the stairs, steeling herself as she heads back into the main room.

Delphinia had expected a burst of anxiety when she saw her brother again, but what she did not expect was the wave of panic when he wasn't there. Where was he? A dozen scenarios tear through her mind as her eyes flash across the room. Could something have gone wrong with his wounds, getting him moved deeper into the Cathedral? Had he gone back outside? Had Johann and Kay told him about her and he ran off? Was this all part of the trap? Was something else wrong? Had she just somehow hallucinated him being here? What if, what if, what if.

She starts frenetically searching the Cathedral. Briefly she aknowledges the Honorborn she sees, though her eyes continue searching for Didge. Two full circuits of the Cathedral later and Delphinia is practically choking on her fears when she notices a familiar face. Not the one she's looking for, but one of the few living people who knows both her and her brother.

"Doctah, Doctah Selbrin! Didge... Didge, he..." While she marches up to the older healer with determination, her voice cracks.

"Woah, hey, it's alright. I treated your brother myself, he's fine. A little scratched up but that was all. He's righ-" Larna Selbrin starts to turn her head towards where Didge had been sitting when Delphinia cuts her off.

"No! No, don' look that way. You'll draw their attention. He's no' there now, d'you where he went?"

The healer sighs heavily and fusses with her robes. "Delph, you know very well my opinions on you avoiding your brother."

"I jus' want to make sure he's awrigh', is that so bad?"

"It would be better for both of you if you worked out your issues. Maybe he would like to know that you're 'alright' as well, hm?"

A snarl of distrust rises hot in Delphinia's chest. Her mind connects a dozen unconnected points; Doctor Selbrin betrayed her, told Tonric, how else would his children end up talking to Didge? "You didn' tell nobody, did you?"

"No. You know our discussions are confidential. It is your decision to make, even if you are making the incorrect choice."

"It's no'--I jus' want to know where he is! Where did he go?" Concern coated over now with frustration, Delphinia snaps angrily.

"I don't know. Your young friend who visited you in the clinic was speaking to him, why don't you ask her?" Doctor Selbrin frowns. "You're not having that girl spy on him for you, are you?"

"Wh- Kay? No. I don' know... I don' know why they's talkin' to eachovver." Delphinia fidgets nervously with her hands.  Either Doctor Selbrin really didn't know or the doctor was unwilling to tell, so she wouldn't know what was going on unless she spoke to Kay and Johann. Maybe it really was a coincidence, maybe she was overthinking things again. Or maybe she was walking into a trap, either way, there didn't seem to be much choice. "I'll go... I'll go find out, I guess."

Doctor Selbrin gives her a small, reassuring smile. "I'll be around if you need me." 

The nod Delphinia gives the doctor in return is stiff and unfocused--her mind already churning ahead on what scenarios she might be walking into. She turns on her heel and marches over to the group on the cots, head remaining on constant swivel for sight of her brother.

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The name cuts through Digitalis like a knife and the wound it leaves bleeds guilt. She was probably out there still, alone, with the Scourge running rampant. But then again, maybe not, the warrant had said she killed a man in Shattrath, so maybe she wasn't even on Azeroth. That was probably right, she was probably there, far away from all this madness. Still, he glances over his shoulder and scans the crowd in the Cathedral for the woman that apparently shares his sister's name. He sinks a little into the cot he was kneeling on, his arms still wrapped around his beloved Navarre, while his good friend Johann sits with Kayrisa, Johann's sister, on the cot next to them. 

"Delphinia?" He couldn't help but ask.

"A bit of an odd name, isn't it? But an odd woman, so I guess it fits." Johann shakes his head. "I don't know a lot about her, but she did help my father when she didn't have to. So there's some trust through that alone. Maybe--Should I go try to find her? Help her out?"

"It is a rather unique name, though we have quite a few interesting names in this group alone." Dear, sweet Navarre gives Johann a concerned look. "Is that wise? To go out after her? Should I go with you?"

"It's not that odd of a name. There are loads of people with tha' name... probably." Talis protests, since his sister, Delphie, couldn't be the one Johann was talking about. After all, the warrant had also said the man his sister killed was once the squire to Johann's father, and yet Johann just said that his Delphinia helped his father. What's more, Johann's father was Knight-Commander of the same Brotherhood that had put out the warrant on Delphie in the first place. They would hate each other. It wouldn't make sense, and yet worry tugs at him anyway. "You said she looked hurt?"

"I only caught a quick look, but definitely looked bloody. Could've been mostly ghoul bits. Maybe." Johann sighs. "I just feel kind of obligated, I guess. And no one should be fighting alone out there."

"If you go, take someone with you, Johann. No one should be fighting alone applies to you, too." Navarre keeps his arms around Talis. "Myself or her or anyone else, really."

Talis sinks into his thoughts, breaking out of the warm comfort of Navarre's arms. Even if the woman Johann was talking about wasn't Delphie, she could still be hurt out there--fighting alone.

It had been a strange rollercoaster of emotions this last year with worrying for his sister. When she had disappeared years ago, he had held out hope longer than anyone that she was still alive. It had been a strange mixture of horror and jubilation when he had discovered she was still alive. Walking through the square, seeing a strangely familiar face staring out at him--from a wanted poster calling for her arrest and execution. It was odd, finding out someone he had grieved for years ago was in mortal danger now. And then, on finding she was alive, he began to wonder why she had never come to find him. He was a noble, on public records and lists, he often ran charity events that were open and advertised. If his sister had wanted to find him, it would have been simple for her. If she had wanted to find him. Why didn't she want to find him?

Delphie, on the other hand, left little trail to follow. Even the Brotherhood of the Sword, with their warrant for her execution couldn't find her. He knew, because when corruption within the organization of Knights was found, he had used his position as a clerk of the Keep and a member of the House of Nobles to get a position on the audit against the Brotherhood. But strangely, by the time he got his hands on Delphie's warrant, it had already been voided and cancelled. There was no note on why her sentence had been lifted, which raised a great deal of questions for Talis, but not ones he dared to ask anyone lest he draw attention to it. It being voided meant she was safe from the Brotherhood, which was what mattered. But a voided warrant wouldn't protect her from the ravages of the Scourge.

Johann's voice pulls him out of his fretting. "Um, Talis? I don't have to go if you're worried. Delph can handle herself."

"No, no, it's not that." He pushes down the worry with a wave of his hand. Delphie could handle herself too, after all. "It's the name, it just reminds me of someone I used to know."

"Oh? You knew someone else named Delph?" Johann looks puzzled. "Well, her last name is Acontis, if that helps. Maybe your families knew of one another?"

"Yes, it was Delphinia Acontis. And she’s hard headed about showing signs of weakness." Kayrisa sighs. “She’ll shrug off most things, but I’m worried for her if you said it was bloody. Never know what mess these undead might carry that could get into her.” She looks towards the door. "Do we know where she might of ran off too?"

Every word after Acontis was barely more than buzzing in Talis's ears. Delphie. His sister was here, and alive, and his friends knew her somehow? A flurry of emotions well up in him at once, sadness, guilt, joy. She was terribly hard headed, wasn't she? Hadn't their older brother Olly once said he thought her skull was solid stone? He laughs and tears spill out over his cheeks. He files away a hundred questions in his head as he stammers out a reply. "That's... that's Delphie. I can't believe--" Suddenly, concern grips him. Johann said she was hurt. "--You should make sure she's alrigh'."

"Delphie?" Johann blinks, looking confused and surprised. "So you do know her?"

“Hmmm. Might have to gather oranges before we meet her.” Kayrisa muses.

"Oranges?" Navarre sounds confused, and scoots closer to Talis who reaches out for a hug, the lad's familiar warmth a welcome comfort as Talis's heart breaks.

The word brings him back to another time, years ago, sitting in a similar place. Delphie, covered in bandages, her fingers lacking the strength to even peel the rind from the fruit, needing help from him for a change. The way she had smiled and laughed despite the tears in her eyes as they ate together.

Talis lets himself cry at the memory for a moment in Navarre's arms. "I did. A long time ago. Oranges... because they make her feel better? Like... like when we were children?"

"But she's older than--Did she babysit you or something?" Johann questions.

Navarre holds the smaller man tightly, burying his face in his curly hair. "How long is a long time ago, dear?"

"We... we haven't spoken since afore the wall fell." Talis buries his face in Navarre's chest, weighing risk and honesty. These were his friends, he could trust them with this. "I... haven't been completely honest, loves. But... if I tell you the truth, do you swear not to tell a soul?"

"Your secrets are safe with me, darling," Navarre says softly, drawing circles into Talis' back with his hand.

"Not a single other person. Promise," Johanna answers with an even more serious expression than usual.

"I'm a bastard." He admits softly. "Lord Belgrave is my father but my mum was a uhm... a lady of the night. My father has done all he could to cover it up so that nobo'y could contest my title; especially since most of the documents that might prove my parentage were lost when Gilneas fell. But I spent most of my childhood living with my mum's family. Being raised by my half-sister--Delphie."

"That doesn't change a single thing about you, but it does help to explain some." Talis can't see Navarre's face, but he can hear the tone of his voice, warm and soft like melted butter. "Somewhere along the line, your father needed an heir and found out about you? Not to say this makes you any less a nobleman."

"Delph has a--you're her brother?" Johann sounds flabbergasted, though he quickly shakes it off. "And Navarre's right. You're you, no matter the manner of your birth, and your father's a good man for standing up for you."

Talis snuggles further into Navarre's embrace with a little whimper, nodding in agreement at the questions. "Mother never had a child of her own, so when my father found out about me, he took me as his heir." He looks up at his dear friends through tear-blurred eyes. "Thank you. You're my best mates. I don' know that everyone in the House of Nobles woul' agree though."

"My family hasn't had our title for long, so it's not like they're accepting of me either." Navarre reaches forward, wiping at the tears with his finger. A true bro. "Nobody else is going to find out about this though and if they do, they can answer to me. They already don't like me so it won't matter if they dislike me more."

Talis manages to work up a smile as Navarre brushes away his tears. Guilt quickly chases it away. "An' even worse, Delphie's probably hurt and not in here gettin' treated because she saw me and ran off." His voice chokes and he buries his face back into Navarre. It made sense, she'd avoided him for this long.

"Not your fault. She's skittish in general. But, if you're worried, we'll go find her." Johann addresses him in a soft soothing tone before turning to Kayrisa. "Do you all still have radios?"

Kay nods to Talis, “Your secret is safe with me. Though I must warn you. Once your a friend of mine your like family to me,” finishing with a smile. She pulls out the radio. “Aye I do. Do you want to make the call or me?”

"Um. Maybe you can start it, and then we'll add in as needed?" Johann's voice is uncertain.

"Hmmm," She clicks the radio and speaks, "Boss Lady Delphinia? Where you might be? I wish to meet you in person." She looks at the others with a shrug, mouthing  'I hope this works.'

Talis turns to stare at the radio in her hand with bated breath. How long had it been since he and his sister had spoken? Years, not since that night on the roof. He had thought the argument they had was trivial then. That they would just meet again in a week, like always. An eternity seems to pass before the machine crackles to life and Talis has to clap a hand across his mouth to keep from crying out. 

"Cathedral square. Preparin' to return t' Icecrown." Delphie. This was Delphie speaking. Her voice sounded strange, but it was her.

Johann lowers his voice to a whisper in hopes the radio will not pick it up. "Ask her if she can meet up with Honorborn in the Cathedral first. Get check ups, and then you can all head back together."

Another voice, a strange man, comes through the radio next. "You here restockin' too, boss? I was thinkin' of headin' back out now I got them kids safe, but iffin we's needed in Icecrown, sign me up."

"The guard has it from here. More work t' be done in Icecrown."

"Yer the boss, boss. I'll finish up restockin' bullets an' come meet up with ya." It's not until the strange man on the radio speaks a second time before Talis registers what Kayrisa said. Boss? She's their boss? She's doing alright then? He tucks the information away for later.

Kayrisa nods at Johann, clicking on the radio, “Could you make it up to the Cathedral and make sure everyone in the group is fixed up before heading up?”

Talis grips his own knees as he waits for the response, which takes awhile to come. She knows I'm here, she's trying to think a way out. If she comes in and sees me, she'll probably just leave again. He chews his lip. 

"Yeh. In a few minutes."

His heart jumps into his throat, looking around for a good place to run off to in the Cathedral. His sister would be here in just a few moments. "Should I leave?" Talis mouths. "I should leave."

Johann shakes his head and mouths back, "hide," before pointing to the area under the cot.

Talis looks dubiously at the hiding place before scooting quickly into it--who knows how little time he had to make himself scarce, after all. Navarre helps him shuffle under with a kiss on the forehead and a gentle whisper in his ear. "Should I stay with you?"

A kiss is pressed into Navarre's cheek in return, along with a gentle shake of Talis's head as a response. He wanted desperately the comfort of his beloved friend by his side, but feared the hiding place would be barely enough to hide his small self alone. A few moments of Navarre shuffling his position and the blankets above, and only a small strip is left visible for Talis to peek out of. He's not sure if its the nerves or if it really is taking much longer than a few minutes would imply, growing restless as he tries to glimpse anything out of his tiny view. How upset would she be if she discovered this ploy? If she noticed him under the cot? How angry was she with him to begin with, to avoid him for so long? He fidgets with his enchanted rings, spinning them around his fingers as he waits with his thoughts in the small, dark space.

It's Kayrisa's voice that breaks his musing. He props himself up a little, trying to see. "Oh thought you didn't see us. Thought I would ask if there is anything you require of us with the current situation." Kay says sheepishly, "You know I can't lie, I was worried about you. Wanted you to be patched up before your next mission."

First a snarl greets his ears, and then legs--not human legs, worgen--come into view. Of course, that's why her voice sounded so strange on the radio. He had known from the wanted poster that she was a worgen now, but something about it still felt jarring. Her voice was much rougher than it should be, and he could hear where the shape of her muzzle affected her accent. "Worryin' abou' me is not your job. I'm fine. I can patch myself up an' not bother the healers. And loike I says on the radio, the situation 'ere is under control."

"You can, but the healers will do it faster and make sure you can fight longer," Johann interjects. "My mom was a paladin and could heal wounds on her own. Still consulted priests when a wound was really bad or when she needed to get back out on the field quickly. That's their expertise, so why not use it?"

Another growl, and a pause. Talis can hear clopping hoofsteps of someone else moving towards them. "I need a quick healin'."

"How many Honorborn are here? Have they all reported in?" Light Bless Johann for trying to make casual conversation with what sounded like a very irate worgen.

"Thank you for listening." Kayrisa says with a sigh of relief. “Looking for someone?”

Talis wonders what prompted the question. Had Delphie been looking around before she came over? Looking for him, or maybe just for her men? She was the boss after all, apparently. Of the... Honorborn? They had mentioned that word a few times, and he makes a mental note to remember it. And Delph, they seemed to call her Delph. He supposed that made some sense, after all, nobody had called him by his childhood nickname, Didge, in years.

"I've put eyes on the lot of them, if no' checked in. Speakin' of, you two check in wi' your da' yet?" Delphie snaps, and Talis watches her move closer to his hiding spot. His heart skips a beat. "No, I'm no' lookin' for nobody, why? ...Can I sit 'ere or is someone else usin' this?"

After years and with the worgen form affecting her voice, Talis didn't think he'd still be able to hear when Delphie was lying, when she was working a con. But he could hear it on those last sentences. She was trying to work them. She must have seen Talis when she came in earlier, and she was trying to get them to admit he had been there. To establish if he was coming back. She had been looking for him, because she knew he was here somewhere.

Johann mumbles something Talis can't quite make out.

“No we have not gotten in touch with Tonric. I’ll try and do so after we make sure you’re patched up.” Kayrisa's voice comes in clearer. 

Suddenly, there's a creaking all around him and a weight pushes down at the foot of the cot. Delphie had taken a seat. Talis wriggles up to be more underneath where Navarre is sitting, and catches a glimpse of a healer's robe through his small view. 

"The mask stays on." Delphie sounded very irritated.

"It's just zat you look to be bleeding, perhaps?" A strange new voice, likely whoever the healing robes belonged to.

"It stays. on." The entire cot shakes slightly as Delphie bounces her leg. She's anxious about something. "This is the worst one, I think, it might bleed a bi' once the pressure's off. You ready?... HRRRNNGGH." Talis was not ready, and jumps, almost smacking his head into Navarre's behind above him. Delphie attempts stifle the pained noise and fails, leaning back suddenly, rocking the cot. "Awrigh', awrigh', tha' was a bi'--a bi' worse than I though'. Ah, fuck." The young man stares with deep concern at where his sister is likely half-sprawled on the cot above.

"Um. So. How is Dad? I haven't seen him in a while." Maybe it wasn't so bad of an injury, Johann sounded like he was attempting to have a normal conversation.

“Heck Delph, you were hurt,” alright, so Kayrisa made it sound bad, “No shame in getting he-,” she stops suddenly but continues, “No point in stating the obvious. Wish I had an orange to give you to relax you.”

"Ffff-fuck if I know. Bein' a light's damned  p-prick is 'ow he is. 'e was on the radio earl-OW... earlier. So alive." Delphinia made it sound like the wound was bad as well, breaths hissing out in pain. Talis twists his rings, worried, considering getting out just to try and help somehow. "Wot--who told you abou' th-the oranges?" There was anxiety there too, hidden under the snapping jaws and the pain.

“You hidden yourself  when you had major injuries in the past. Me and Lu found your hiding spot. The nice lady there told me. I don’t recall her name. Now sit still, and let the healer work.” Kayrisa snaps back.

"Is he here? In Stormwind?"  Johann starts and then stops himself. "Sorry. You're not his messenger, I know. Just-- Just get fixed up."

"Wound iz deep. You have extenzive bruising under fur as well. You are injured other places likely, yes? Remove rest of armor." The healer demands.

"No." There's a deep anger in Delphinia's voice. "Larna? Sh-she told you... wha' else did she tell you abou' me, you li'le brat? She's not supposed to say nuffin' abou' my past to nobody."

Talis's mouth opens in surprise. Larna. Larna Selbrin? Did that mean Larna knew Delphie was alive? He had worked with the healer often, helping raise money for her organization; Selbrin's House of Healing for Alchemical and Magical Addiction. Was that the hiding spot Kay had mentioned? Tears prick at the corners of Talis's eyes as he realizes Larna must have been keeping his sister's existence a secret from him. He had just seen her earlier, she had treated his own wounds.

"You vill calm and be healed, or I vill have you sedated." He hears the much less familiar healer above warn Delphie, followed by a few pained noises. 

"Hey! Kay doesn't deserve that," the usually nervous Johann reprimands. "We know you're hurt, and that sucks, but that doesn't mean you get to be a bitch to people just looking out for you."

“She could have told me lots about you.  But she just told me little. I know you’ve been alone in this world and you had to watch your own back. But your our boss now. You have a family of brothers and sisters that worry for you in Honorborn. You’re no good to us if you pass out on the field because of your pride. Pride can get yourself killed without you knowing it’s slowly pushing that dagger into you.” Talis feels his hear sink a little at Kayrisa's speech. He was Delphie's family. He should have been watching her back. 

"She's not lookin' out for me. She's just a bloody busybody loike your fuckin' da'. Honorborn t'ain't a family it's a job. I do my job an' look out for my men, and I look out for myself 'cause I can't trust nobo'y else. I don' care abou' anybo'y and they don' care abou' me an' tha's the way things should be." Pauldrons, gloves and bracers clatter to the ground around the cot.

"Pretty sure you're wrong about that last part. Dad cares about you. Kay does. And you don't get to decide they shouldn't." I care too, Talis mouths uselessly under the cot as Johann speaks. "Now maybe you should settle in like the healer said and try to relax."

Kayrisa's frown is so deep he can hear it. “Alright. You don’t trust me huh? Don’t trust your men. Tonric? At least him maybe? Grow up and look around Delphinia. For the first time you have a family. How do we earn your trust? Can we?  Can we ever?”

"No. Fuck you." The steeled edge of Delphie's voice wavers for a moment and threatens to crack, on the edge of tears. "You don' know me. You sit there an' say tha' I never--I never..." Theres a long pause, her voice coming back in softer. "You're righ'. I never had a family, an' I never will. I'm jus' a stupid, prideful bint."

Talis stares at the armor laying on the ground in his view, thick ghoulish ichor dripping off the leather and pooling on the ground with fresh, bright blood. The sight blurs, and he blinks the tears out of the way. It was a lie, she was lying. He frowns, his brow furrowing. She had never told them about him, she was just trying to keep them from knowing about him. She didn't actually feel like they were never family. He knew it was a lie, it had to be a lie. Right? He puts a hand over his mouth to stifle a sob.

"No, you've had a family. No use hiding that. Not going to argue about the rest." Johann sighs. "You think all her wounds are out now?"

“We all are stupid bints Delphinia.  I’m not the sharpest. I’m not going to fight you on this anymore.  Like it or not, I’m a pesky flea.  Im just a dumb girl who picks people with trouble pasts to latch on to.” Kay attempts to lighten the mood with humor. Johann's sister seemed like she could be very nice, why was Delphie so insistent on refusing her friendship? “Hugs,  after all, are my main attack. That’s how I crack through the emotional armor to get too the good in people. Yum, tasty goodness.”

"Miss Delphinia," Navarre's soft, comforting voice sounds just above him, "I don't think that's the right attitude to looking at this. Even if you say you never had a family doesn't mean you never will. Now, I don't know you very well, so I don't want to make any assumptions, but it does sound like you already have people who care about you like you were a part of their families."

"An' wha' the fuck is tha' supposed to mean, Johann? No use hidin' wha'?" Delphie is practically growling with anger. "Why do everyone act loike havin' a family is somefin' I want. I don't. You don' jus' get to decide wha' you think it's best for me an' whevver you can jus' foist yourself on me. Tha's for me an' me alone to decide."

The words seem almost pointed to Talis, direct. Maybe Delphie knew he was there, maybe she was speaking to him directly. She doesn't want you. If you come out, you'll just be foisting yourself on her. His shoulders shake as the tears roll quietly down his cheeks.

“Yep hard headed she is. Let me ask you. Why accept Honorborn’s leadership? You sure to have known your role will lead to dreaded mingling with others, which would lead to friendships and even worse you might even find a best friend. You didn’t mind idle chit chat as we wash our clothes that one day with everyone. If you really wanted to be alone you would have buggered off with your chore quickly. Face it Delphinia. You’re not a lone wolf anymore. You’re part of us now. We care for you even if you don’t give two shits about us.”

"Yeah. You can decide not to talk to your family. Can push them away, say you don't need them or want them. But that doesn't make them stop being your family. But this? This is the kind of family you make on your own. Not the one that was pushed on you. Sometimes that's better."

Johann's words are oddly reminiscent of the last time Talis had spoken to Delphie. They had argued about family then too. He remembers how hurt she looked when he had insisted that he didn't consider her da' family. Wasn't she the one insisting that they were all family, no matter what then? How could she forgive that terrible man, but not the little brother she had been so close to? But then again, she had run from her da' too, only calling him family again after he was dead.

"Miss Loken I invite you t' grow up an' learn the concept of a job. There's a difference 'tween havin' an idle cha--AAGH!" There is suddenly a great deal of movement and snarling on the cot above, and Talis is forced to break from his introspection for a moment to hold on to the leg of the cot. "Fuck off, fuck off. I don' want your shi' family. You sit there an' lie to me while your da' treats me wif no respect an' someone I did trust apparently betrayed me. But you jus' sit there an' preach to me abou' family loike you even know anyfin' about me."

"We know a little. We'd know more if you'd let anyone get even vaguely close."

Kay sounds confused, “What did he do to disrespect you?  Who is this other? Can we help?”

"All he does is talk down t' me. An' why don' you tell me who betrayed my trust? Or do you go' some explanation wha' business you lot got talkin' to a Gilnean noble? I saw you." Talis wipes his eyes uselessly, staring up at where his sister's angry voice spat the words. So she had definitely seen him, and chose to leave.

"That's--That has nothing to do with you." Johann says. "He's a friend I met one night when studying in a tavern. We get along, and he helped me get a job. Not that that's any of your business."

There's a long pause. Talis twists his rings and chews his lip. "Where did he go?" Delphie asks sharply. There's a small pause, but not enough for Johann to respond. "You can't see 'im anymore."

Talis's jaw drops a bit in horror at the sudden demand.

“Why not? What has he done not be interacted with?” Kayrisa's disapproves.

"It's 'is family. House Belgrave. They're bad news, I know, because the Acontis's an' thems got some history. You're no' safe around 'im, especially if they find out yous associated wi' me." 

"That sounds like their problem. I'm not going to throw away a good friend because there might be trouble for some old reason. Talis is a good person. I trust him." Johann's words lift Talis's heavy heart a bit, and he presses a hand across it.

"Ligh', you're jus' like your da'. Never fuckin' listen." Suddenly Delphie is leaning over, and Talis can see her clawed hands as she unbuckles her boots. The motion does a pretty good job of hiding the nervous tic in her hands--for anyone who doesn't know what to look for. Talis watches her ring finger tap against the inside of her palm as she works out the lie she's telling. She's panicking. "These people will kill you."

“Hey I once thought every damn death knight was bad news. Surprise, there a hand few that are alright that I’ve meet over the years. Most have short tempers and can bury me without a second thought for hugging them.  Hell, look who we asked to help Ally and Shimmy to get the help they both needed! Not every person is a bad guy,” Kay sighs, “Look I understand there’s history between you and them. At least meet the man before damning him to heckville!”

"Is that what happened to you?" Johann asks. "Did someone in the Belgrave family try to kill you?"

Of course not. 'The Belgrave family' is just father and I. The absolute absurdity of the question almost manages to bring a smile to Talis's lips.

"Yes." She answers quickly. "It's no' about him, personally. It's the family. They're dangerous an' they hate me wi' a furious passion."

Talis stares in shock at Delphie doubling down on the lie. He shuffles himself indignantly to the side, putting his mouth to the small opening and mouthing 'lying' for Johann to see.

"Why do they hate you?"

"Because of somefin' I did a long time ago. The point is tha' you need to stay away from them, an' make sure they don' ever find out you know me." Delphie's tone is pleading, almost desperate. She wants them to believe this ridiculous lie so badly.

"Can't promise that, Delph. Sorry." Johann brushes off the plea. "Maybe it's time to make peace with whatever happened back then. So everyone can start moving forward."

"You don' understand! They's not goin' to 'make peace with it.' Wha' I did was unforgivable! I-I- I killed someone!" Delphie's agitation grows into a shout, and then a pause, and a shaking breath, her voice falling. "...I killed someone."

"... who did you kill, Delph?" Johann asks softly.

No. No, don't ask her that. 

"...his mum." Her voice sounds broken, hollow. "I killed his mum."

No, no, no, that's a lie! She was our mum. You wouldn't! It's a lie... why doesn't it sound like a lie? 

"Oh." Johann draws a shaky breath. "That's--I know that feeling. Dad didn't kill Mom, but he did. It's-- What happened, Delph?"

"No. Wha' your da' did was an act of mercy. Wha' I did was..." Delphie trails off, pained.

What you did was all you could. You couldn't save her, but you must have tried as hard as you could. Whoever murdered her hurt you, or took you, that's why you disappeared when she died. I know you would have tried to save her. You must have.

"Delph. You can talk to us. It sounds like you've kept this buried a long time."

"I mean... I've killed plen'y of people. It's part of my job. It's not... It's not different. Why woul' it be different?" Delphie struggles to regain some sense of composure. Back to the point, to the lie, to keeping Talis away from her. "The point is... the point is you need to stay away from the Belgraves. He can't know... they can't know abou' me."

"Well. Um." Johann takes a long breath. "That--I'm sorry. They already know you're alive. At least Talis does."

Immediately panic overtakes Delphie's voice with a jolt that shakes the cot a tiny bit. "Wha' does that mean? Wha' did you tell 'im? Wha' did he say?"

Curled up on his side now, Talis raises his head off the tear-wetted floor to listen to his sister's panic, when a new voice he doesn't recognize joins the group. "Is everyone alright?"

Delphie jumps a little at the new voice, clawing her way out of her panicked hole as she tries to return to business. The new voice must belong to one of her men. "Ah, um.. yeah, yeah, everyone's fine. Jus' gettin' a little patched up." 

"He--He felt bad that you ran away when you saw him, and he was worried about you getting hurt." Johann explains. Beneath the cot Talis hugs his knees to his chest a little tighter as guilt washes over him. 

"You're certain Talis is worried for Delph's well being?" Kayrisa asks. 

"Fuck." Delphie mutters softly.  "He wasn't supposed to know.. He shoul' think I'm dead. It's all... It's all supposed t' be easier tha' way. Stupid, sloppy, reckless... He'll be fine. He... he wasn't hurt too bad, righ'? He'll be fine."

Talis isn't quite sure what he had expected. Anger that keeping him in the dark had failed? She had always had a temper. Disappointment? Revulsion? But Delphie just sounds worried. Worried, frightened, and sad. She sounds half like she's talking to herself, repeating her words like she did when she was panicked or thinking too fast. And she cares. She cares that he was hurt. If she wanted nothing to do with him, why does she care?

"This looks private." The newcomer sounds uncertain about the situation she just walked into. " Should I go back to Northrend and keep Brick from trying to shag me Da?"

"No, no Myria. I'm 'eadin' to Northrend myself once I ge' my armor back on." Delphie's voice is stiff and distant as she tries to get her emotions back under control.

"He wasn't badly hurt." Johann explains. "We watched out for each other on the ride over here. And, um, he could tell you that himself, if you want. He's--He's not far away."

"I'm... glad he's awrigh'." She struggles over the words, her voice threatening to crack again.

“Keep an eye on her Myria. Don’t let her over extend herself up there in Northrend. I’m going to stay behind and kick Dad’s butt for being an ass to Delphinia,” Kay says to the newcomer, Myria, before turning back to Johann, “Want to come help?”

"Your da' is goin' the same place I am." Delphinia stands up, her voice hardening again. A new job, a new focus, something less filled with pain and worry. "Didn' you 'ear the radio? The Alliance is rallyin' people to go into the Shadowlands themselves through the tear in the Icecrown sky."

"Do I have long enough to do a head count on the kids?" Myria asks. "It's been a hot minute since I seen the pricks."

“I must have had the radio off. We’re going through to the Shadowlands?” Kayrisa sounds concerned. “What don’t come back?  What if you are stuck like we were was on Argus?”

"Yeh, we got some time, I got to work some things out when I ge' to Icecrown anyway. Goin' to try an' get everyone togevver for a briefin' afore I hop into the darkness." Delphie retrieves pieces of her armor from the ground as she puts back her defenses, sounding more determined. "I mean, it's no' necessarily we; your da' and I is, bu' I'm not goin' to be forcin' people t' do it one way or the other. I know full well 'ow dangerous it is."

"Um. You--It sounds dangerous, yeah. Kay, maybe you should stay on this side since you don't like fighting." Johann sounds concerned for his own sister, regarding the mission Delphie has apparently already decided to go on.

“That’ll be a good idea, maybe when the braver folks find a foothold and a way back and forth, then I might help the cause." Kay mumbles something. "Be safe. Back up like your going to get stuck on Argus. We here await your return.”

Johann hesitates before making an offer to Kay. "You can stay here with us if you want. Still lots of people needing help in the city. Food to provide, kids to keep calm."

“Tell Dad I’m staying on this side this time." Kay tells Delphie. "I’m done dimension hopping. See what I can do to help.”

"I will. I'm goin' to be askin' Liv to stay behind an' keep an eye on the Honorborn, so its no' loike the camp is goin' anyplace eivver. I've got jobs lined up for awhile yet, so there'll be work t' do this side of the veil." Delphie responds, matter of fact, before the façade of strength cracks again. Softly, uncertainly, she continues. "I shoul' go. If you see... ah... the young Lord Belgrave tell him... Actually, jus'.. don' ever mention me in front of him, yeh? He don' need that kind of pain."

The young Lord Belgrave cries silently into his hands.

Navarre, who had been largely quiet, taps his foot on the ground a few times, causing Talis to look up and smile softly through his tears at the small movement from his dear companion. "You will stay safe at least while you're there, yes?" Navarre finally speaks up. "I know I'm not to mention you to Talis, but it would help assure me if I knew someone so important to him was safe."

Kays feet shuffle quickly across the floor towards Delphie, the latter taking a quick step back away from the younger woman. "Don' do this t' me Kay. I been though enough t'day." She hesitates before speaking further, and when she does he can hear the sadness in her voice. "I'm not important to 'im. I'm less'n dirt to 'im. So you don' got to worry none abou' that." She turns and starts walking away. 

Johann waits for Delphie to walk away several feet before he moves to the floor to check on Talis. "Hey. Come on out now. I'm--I'm sorry you had to hear that."

"Then, from one less than dirt kid to another, please watch out for yourself, Miss Delphinia!" Navarre calls, before flopping down onto the ground to lift the blanket up and offer his arms to Talis. "Love, are you- how are you feeling after that?"

It was all wrong. Delphie had been more of a mother to him than either of his mothers. She was the one avoiding him. There wasn't any reason he would hate her, but her parting words made it sound like she thought he did. Talis lets himself be half pulled out from under the cot by the hug, tears still running down his face. Half clutching Navarre for support, his head turns, scanning the busy Cathedral. He recognizes the armor pieces that had been scattered around the cot on the form of a jet-black worgen making her way swiftly towards the exit with her head low. She didn't really believe he hated her, did she?  

"Delphie!" He shouts in a tear choked voice. She pauses in the doorway of the Cathedral and freezes. She starts to turn back before changing her mind and bolting outside. With a defeated sob, Talis buries his face in Navarre's chest.

Navarre buries his head in Talis' floof of hair in turn, holding him tightly against his chest. He doesn't show any signs of letting go. "It'll be okay, dear. Let it out. I'm right here for you."

Johann settles a hand on Talis's back and awkwardly rubs soothing circles. "We're here. You don't have to go through this alone."

Talis just sniffles into Navarre's chest for a moment. He reaches out towards Johann and tries to encourage the shy mage into a group hug. "I jus' don't understand."

Johann hesitantly joins the embrace. "She's scared. I think you hating her is both the hardest and easiest path at the same time. She's protecting you and punishing herself. In her mind, anyway."

"You're prob'ly right. It still hurts though." He says weakly. "I'm such a coward. I should have come out, I should have said something."

"I don't know if you could've said anything that would've helped right then. It was raw. Hurting." Johann gives Talis's shoulders a squeeze. "But you know where she is now. There'll be more times to try."

"No, Talis, you are not a coward. Johann is right, it's unlikely anything you could have said would have done anything in that moment. There will be other chances to try talking to her, but this one had a lot of pent up emotion." He frowns. "It sounds like she's guilty for what she did to you. At least you know she's around now, it means you can run into her again one day. It's not all lost."

Emotions churn in Talis's gut. Guilty of what, though? His friends were right though, surprising her could only make things worse. Still, tears well in his eyes with worry. "...but what if it was my only chance? Wouldn't you want to tell your family you love them afore they go on a dangerous mission like going to the Shadowlands?" He mumbles softly, not considering the implications that Johann's father is also going to the Shadowlands and his words could be upsetting.

Johann's breath catches. "I--Y-You're right," he stammers. "D-Do you w-want me to--to take us to Icecrown?"

Navarre looks at the two in stunned silence for a long moment, his bright eyes growing wide. "I- I'll meet you there. I'll find a way. I can't let you both go alone, but I can't just go without telling my family." He slowly lets go of Talis, giving Johann a look that said he trusted the mage. The young man stands, gazing back at the group one last time, hesitation clear in his eyes, before turning like he was about to leave.

"Oh, I'm so sorry love, this rattled me so much I wasn' even thinking. Do you need us to go with you to find your family? Things have been so terrible." Talis runs up to Navarre, grabbing his hand and leaning in for a small friendly kiss.

Kayrisa turns from watching where Delphinia had left with concern in her eyes. “If you guys are going, can I come along?”

"You don't need to wait for me, darling." Navarre returns the kiss. "I'll be right there, I promise. You don't know how long a window you have to find your sister. You know I'll always be there for you, but you don't know about her."

Talis cups the other man's jaw gently, staring deeply into his eyes. "Thank you love. Please be safe, I don't know wha' I would do with myself if something happened to you."

"Let's--Um, let's get away from the main floor. Don't want to scare anyone." Johann announces awkwardly at the pair of loving men, before shuffling away towards an alcove with Kayrisa in tow.

"You, as well, my dear. I'll see you soon. I trust the three of you to keep each other safe until I return." Navarre holds Talis' gaze for a few seconds more before finally breaking away. With a wave of his hand, he leaves, Talis watching after him for as long as he could. 

By the time Talis reaches the alcove, Johann has already gotten the portal up and running. The sight of it, and the daunting reunion beyond it makes his breath catch in his throat. He steels himself. "Thank you, Johann. For suggesting this. It didn't even cross my mind... I was planning on just fretting about it and being sad." He forces a laugh and shakes his head. "Are we ready to go?"

"Ready as we can be, I guess. Um, it will be cold, though. Do you know any spells for staying warm?"

Talis glances down at his once fine clothing, now half tattered and ruined from their mad dash from the Scourge. "No...  um, oh! One moment." He jogs out of the alcove and snags a thick blanket from the bottom of a cot, running back moments later. "Alrigh', I'm ready."

"Then let's get going. I'll use the little magic I know to make sure none of us freeze to death. Can make a torch if nothing else." He gestures for everyone else to go first. "See you on the other side."

Talis nods at him, struggling to keep a brave face, and heads through the portal.

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Filthy water drips black and red into the basin. Delphinia grips the rim, feeling the cool metal press into her palms. Just breathe. She dips her head back under the spicket of warm water. Reaching out blindly, she grabs a washcloth off a nearby shelf, using it under the water to scrub ichor and dried blood out of her hair. She winces as she scrubs over gashes. The wounds on her head would need to be rebandaged, but the cleaning was necessary. The healer back at the cathedral had done a good job of cleaning her wounds out, and most of her skin had remained free of ichor and filth thanks to her armor, but her face and hair were a mess.

After some soap and effort, she leaves the washcloth hanging over her head and begins cleaning her armor piece by piece. There wasn't much time for a thorough cleaning, but maybe her stomach would stop roiling if she could get the worst of the reek of undeath off. She leans out over the basin, trying not to soak her undershirt too badly--it would probably freeze solid the moment she stepped back outside. It was mercifully fairly warm in the washing chambers the Argents had set up around the Tourney Grounds to help stem the spread of disease from fighting the Scourge. And yet, Delphinia's hands still shake as she works a brush quickly across her leathers. 

So Didge knew she was alive. What had she expected, being so reckless? It didn't change anything, not really. "He felt bad that you ran away when you saw him." Delphinia's nails bite into the leather in her hands as Johann's words echo through her mind. Didge was strong, he'd get over it. He had already gotten over her death, he could learn to live with this. There was nothing else too it, nothing else that could be done, it wasn't as though she could make Didge unlearn that she was alive.

Now Johann, Johann was a problem. She moves her armor pieces over to an elementally heated drying rack, taking a seat in front of it. Had he lied? Did he know the truth? It was possible that it was a coincidence, that the two mages had met by chance, like Johann had said. They were both mages, after all, of the same age; they likely moved in some similar social circles. In that case, the most important thing was making certain Johann--and by extension his family--didn't find out she was related to Didge. She just had to figure out a way to keep them apart. Her leg bounces as she watches her armor dry agonizingly slowly. There was another, worse possibility. That he knew. That Baur--or worse, Shadowvale knew. "One official document from a Knight-Commander can open doors typically secured." Isn't that what Alurea had said when they weaseled their way into finding out her private medical information? How many other carefully secured doors had they felt entitled to open? And worse, what would they do with that information? Was that the plan all along, to hold her secrets over her head and turn her into a pawn that could never disobey them?

Would they threaten to hurt him?

Her thoughts spiral out of control as she pulls her armor, half dried, off the rack. She just has to keep moving. There's work to be done, she needs to brief her men on the upcoming mission. In a few days she won't even be on Azeroth, far away from these problems. She shoves down the little thoughts nipping at her to run, to leave the Honorborn and her life behind, start new, anonymous, free of it all. No, the mission ahead is too important, and she has a responsibility to her men.

Tugging on the last of her still slightly damp armor, she marches out into the frigid cold towards the Honorborn's pavilion.

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