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  1. 3 points
    Khorvis went by foot from Brill to the gates of Lordaeron City. The road was one of the few still paved in Tirisfal, seeing much traffic between the Undercity and the zeppelin towers. With the Dark Lady having taken the mantle of Warchief, the count of couriers and deathguards had more than doubled in their frantic work to secure the necessary machinery of the Horde's bureaucracy. The orc ignored them all as he made his way up the hill and through the crumbling outer wall. --- Sleep had evaded him during the remainder of the night, despite how fatigued he felt. His meager cot on the second floor of the Gallow's End Tavern did not help his pain of his wounds, but the bruises were a distant second to the hauntings. If Khorvis shut his eye, that horrid image of Theira's spirit lifting from her corpse stared back at him. When he snapped his eyelid open, the creaking of the old tavern seemed to fool his periphery into seeing things. A quick movement behind the dresser. A scuttling at his bedside. More than once he got out of his covers to inspect the room, but of course there were only ordinary shadows. It was not until An'she began to pierce her rays through the gloom of the Glades that complete and utter exhaustion claimed the warrior. An unconscious and dreamless slumber lasted through the morning and afternoon, to end with a sore and stiff awakening. Khorvis glared out the window and saw that it was already evening. An icy ball sagged in the pit of his stomach. Nearly time to confront the Commander. Before setting out, Khorvis took a seat at the Tavern's tables on the first floor. He forced down a late meal of cold venison, oblivious to the greenish hue of the flesh, and flagon of flat ale. As the chunks of raw flesh tumbled down his maw, a familiar elemental wisped into the dining room, flanked by indigo lanterns... --- The Inquisition was a curious thing. Forged in the wartorn years spent in the harsh wastes of Northrend, the first Inquisitors of The Grim were merely of average rank, but fanatical beyond measure. They sought to weed out from the droves of Horde, that had flocked to the battle against the Lich King, the most bloodthirsty and like-minded killers. In the years since, the Inquisition had evolved into a more formal institution, replete with codified trials and many arcane traditions. Some would claim that present-day Inquisitors worshiped banners and medals more than the original mission, but none could deny their commitment to the Mandate. Gathered upon the ancient staircases of the inner courtyard of the ruins of Lordaeron, High Inquisitor Ruuki held court among her Dreadweavers and attending Supplicants. Standing to the side, Commader Awatu Stonespire observed the reports and instructions with his usual stoicism. Inquisitor Kiannis was concluding his conversation with the Supplicant Chumbus. "If you have any troubles, contact me and I will assist you." As the ranger dismissed the warlock, Khorvis approached the dais with Mai'kull's voidcaller in tow. He peered up at Awatu, and for a brief moment, the scene flickered. The impression of gibbets, ethereal and decorated with the hanging corpses of pinkskins, manifested behind the Inquisitors. A raven fluttered from a crossbeam of the gallows and settled to perch upon the pauldron of The Commander. Khorvis closed his eye and took a deep breath, gathering his wits. A quiet hush came upon the assembly, and when he opened his eye, he found the lot staring back. The gallows had disappeared. "Commander Stonespire," Khorvis intoned without a hint of emotion. A look of surprise had come over Ruuki's face, one that few in the Grim had ever seen: utter shock with a mix of something between relief and disbelief. It didn't last long. Awatu spoke first, eyeing Khorvis up and down. "Lasher? You have been... missing, as of late." Khorvis winced, placing a hand to his stomach. A moment of nausea passed over his face, but he squared away and trod up the stairs to the Tauren who was now looking at the voidcaller. "By the look of the seasons... aye, I do seem to have been gone for some time," the orc responded. "Many moons indeed." The Commander spoke carefully, betraying nothing with his inflections. Even as the elf Baal'themar emerged from the shadows at Khorvis's side, he only raised an eyebrow. "I do come with a foul report," barked the orc. "And submit my flesh to the judgement of the Mandate." Khorvis gestured at the voidcaller. "A minion of the late Reaper Mai'kull." "Late? Executioner was his title," spoke Inquisitor Kiannis. He stared down his nose at the orc haughtily, to be caught by a look of disappointment from Baal'themar. Ignoring the tone of the ranger's voice, Khorvis motioned to the voidcaller, which set before the Commander a burnt facemask. Next to it was placed a hearthstone, an orb of the sin'dorei... and Mai'kull's guild 'tabard', in fact an over-sized Tauren's tabard fashioned into a cape, now folded. Kiannis fought back a scowl as the realization set in. "I take it he has fallen, then?" Awatu was eyeing the remnants. "Yea, dead." Lilliana deadpanned to both her boss and Kiannis. Khorvis grunted, the events still raw upon his nerves. "Aye, Commander. I did be... lost, in a place of shadows. The Rea- Executioner- found me. He did sacrifice everything." Brushing his palm away, the voidcaller faded, its work done. With an emotionless stare, Awatu looked back up at Khovis. "Unfortunate. But at least his... sacrifice was not without some success. Your presence seems to indicate as much." Khorvis could not help but hear some note of mocking in his superior's words. Imagined or not, it rankled, but the warrior continued his report. "There do be more." Lilliana had resisted the urge to go charging at Khorvis when he had appeared... to her credit she did a very good job remaining controlled. She did now look at him fiercely, while Awatu exhibited all of the emotion of a rock. A rare example of the orc's sealed emotions came to the forefront as Khorvis choked up for a moment. It was a titanic inner struggle to speak the words aloud. He had sworn to himself the night before that he deserved his fate, and that he would continue on as the warrior he was bred to be. It was too much. He broke down and knelt before the Commander. "The Matron of Rutilus Luna, Theira Oaksong... she also do be departed." Khorvis sobbed, tears running freely before the Grim. Knitting together his eyebrows, Awatu echoed himself. "Also unfortunate." Rather blankly, Kiannis stared at the orc who had once blown out his own kneecap. A small touch of anger pulled at the side of his mouth an nose- yet he remained silent. Not so for the High Inquisitor. Ruuki stormed down the stairs towards the battered orc, her nostrils flaring in rage. Grabbing Khorvis by whatever vest he's wearing, she hauled him up to his feet with a ferocious yank. "The BLOODY HELL have you been, you twice damned son of a pig?!" Her howl sent Lilliana backing up, almost as if to use Awatu as a shield to hide behind. Even the Supplicant Somdot stood up straighter, realizing that there was some intence energry in the air. Certainly not the time to be a clown. Awatu only watched the exchange. Khorvis, his face and tusks wet with tears, growled right back at Ruuki. "The fel would you know, you useless woman! I did be locked in the shadows, chased by goatsucking horrors!" His feet nearly dangled as he was held up. Lilliana could not help but scold with a yelp. "Khorvis!!!" Supplicant Chumbus gasped while Somdot glanced at Kiannis with wide open eyes and tight lips. The ranger returned the look only momentarily. His face was a mixture of emotion - rage predominantly, and a gritted frown. Snarling, Ruuki tightened her grip. Now Khorvis did truly hang above the stones. "Quit BITCHING like a spoiled little human BRAT!" she screamed. "If they died saving your sorry hide, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!" The Lasher shoved Ruuki away and peeled off one of his bracers, one of the last metal armaments on his person. He held it aloft and shouted, "Do you remember forging these, Inquisitor? A lot of bloody good it did! There do be things in the dark, things that strength of arms do have NO purchase against!" Ruuki's tone descended from a yell to a quiet sort of threat. "Does that mean you're going to hide and pray they go away? Because you know as well as the rest of us that there is NO peace, not when the Mandate still commands us." Throughout the entire tense exchange between the two High Inquisitors, Kiannis and Baal'themar conducted their own confrontation. The ranger stared down the rogue. "Put the blades away. This is not the time." Baal'themar grined slyly at Kiannis. "If this turns ugly, you're the first," he said, following with a wink. "It will not." "We will see." Somdot slighted raised his head to stare at Baal'themar while Chumbus adjusted his tie. Over the quibbling elves, Ruuki continued her diatribe. "A sword is just sharpened steel, and armor bits of metal and leather. But it does no one any good if there's no damned heart or fire in your soul to back them up." Khorvis threw the bracer down on the ground and shook his head. "I did not come here to argue with you, Ruuki the Reborn. I did return to the Mandate, my home, to submit my failure to the Commander's judgement." Ruuki raised a clenched fist as if ready to sock him, but she restrained herself, fully clad while he was only in leathers. Instead, she turned and stalked several paces off. Seeking to soothe the situation, Lilliana moved over to Baal'themar and whatever he hell he thought he was doing with his weapons. The elf blushed at his previous Inquisitor. The woman must have put some thought into Baal'themar's head, for she looked away and faced Khorvis and Awatu, now that Ruuki had let go. Kiannis found it an appropriate time to pull one of his skunky cigars and press a lit pebble into it. His gaze lingered on Khorvis. Walking over to Kiannis, Somdot whispered, "Any chance you've got a spare one of those bad boys?" The elf did a quick double take, then absently fingered a blunt out to the Pandaren. He left Somdot to find his own spark. "I have fire," the monk said in thanks, nodding. Khorvis glanced to his right, surprised to see the elf Baal'themar. "Stay your blades, brother. I do be here of my own will." His words were punctuated by a sneeze from Chumbus's imp Laznik, who failed to cover his mouth. It's owner only tilted his head. "I know," retorted the elf, "but then... the Grim have a nice habit of chewing up and spitting out people. I'll not see that happen to you, Khorvis." Awatu snorted. "Not after the hell we went through to get your old ass back here." Lilliana placed a gloved hand on Baal'themar's arm. "He's fine, Baal'themar." She did happen to whisper silently into Baal'themar's head... something else, so that no one else might hear her. Pointedly ignoring the elf, Commander Stonespire roved over the orc's form with his gaze. "So then. What grievous failure have you brought to the feet of the Mandate?" Lilliana was unable to stop herself from getting right in the way between the tauren and the orc. "He hasn't failed at all!!! He's like... totally being a super dumbass, Awatu!" Khorvis brushed away the trolless's defensive screen - "Kodotits, woman..." - and stuck out his chin, as if begging to be struck. "I did leave you and The Grim without a High Inquisitor for months. A dead Reaper due to my bloody carelessness-" "Executioner," Kiannis interjected, to be countered with a baleful glare. "The Maleficar was risen in your absence." Lilliana piped up again. "Eh uh... there is one right there." She pointed to Ruuki, the current High Inquisitor. "And like... people die. All. the. time." "Ream my arse with a vry'kull pike," Khorvis muttered at the quibbling. "Wait, what?! Ruuki did be raised to High Inquisitor?" The warrior was incredulous. Her arms crossed and entire body tensed, Ruuki stood stoically with her rage reined. "Indeed she has," intoned the Commander, glancing backwards at Ruuki. Khorvis grunted, some of the flame being taken out of his sails. "You did think me dead," he breathed. "I thought you missing. Perhaps stuck between crates upon a Booty Bay pirate vessel," cracked Awatu in a rare taunt. Ruuki ameliorated, "It was the only explanation we could fathom. We all knew damned well you were no deserter, especially not with the Legion's invasion so fresh." "Unlike others," stated the Inquisitor Kiannis in the direction of Baal'themar. The rogue grinned. "More loyal than you. Didn't see you fighting to save a brother, Kiannis." The ranger bristled at Baal'themar's words, but was not goaded into a rebuttal. He glowered, before turning his attention back to Khorvis. "The Inquisition required direction. And so, it was given," Awatu stated matter-of-factly. Khorvis tugged at his goatee with no little annoyance, but looked again to Ruuki with appraising eye. "Aye. May be she do be fit for the rank." The wheels could visibly be seen turning in the old orc's head, working overtime. The facts laid upon the figurative table, Awatu continued to humor Khorvis. "So... you come seeking penance?" "I did swear my flesh and spirit to the Mandate, Commander." Khorvis was resolute in his guilt. "You do be in your rights to end the former. The latter does remain bound, whatever your words." Glowering at anyone but herself, Lilliana still seemed relieved to see Khorvis present that night. That relief melted into horror at the warrior's suggestion. She looked to Awatu plaintively. Awatu gave Khorvis a once-over. "I fear that any further... physical punishment would leave us with only your spirit." In moment of oddity, The Commander appeared to exhibit a profound insight. "Do you sleep well, or are you assaulted by night-terrors?" The assembly displayed their curiosity or disbelief in varying ways, from snorts, to quirked eyebrows. In the intensity of the exchange between The Commander and the former High Inquisitor, Somdot, calmed and relaxed by the blunt obtained from Kiannis, walked over to Baal'themar and scanned him up and down. "I'm not sure what to think of you sir..." Chumbus remained motionless while Laznik started to sneak off. "Think nothing, Somdot," Baal'themar soothed. Khorvis looked at Awatu strangely, as if he recognized the Tauren's foresight. Awatu made no indication of his awareness, simply awaiting a response. "No terrors," spoke the orc. "No, Commander, they did cease once Lilliana, Baal'themar, and the rest evacuated me from... whatever land of shadows that did be." He continued, unable to stop himself due to the uncanny inquiry. "But last night, at the Gallow's End, I did see spirits. Strange that you should mention this." Awatu furrowed his brow in thought. "Curious. At any rate, I could find your... hauntings to be... suitable punishment. Sleepless nights and waking screams." Lilliana was peering at Khorvis wondering what kind of spirits he was talking about. She couldn't hide the quick glare that crossed her face. Whether it was over Awatu's ruling or Khorvis's suffering now that he was back in this world, it was unclear. Ruuki was only scowling. Kiannis gave Awatu a surprised look. "You saw him sobbing. Is this the same orc we once knew?" Of course, Baal'themar's countenance mirrored his defense of Khorvis. "More a man than you will ever be," the Rutilan snarked. Chumbus inched closer to the edge of the ledge, the temper of the meeting pushing him away. "The edges of eternity change us all. It is Khorvis..." The sunwalker narrowed his eyes, as if attempting to look through the Lasher. "... but different. Something is different." Kiannis pivoted his head only slightly with gritted teeth, squinting at the Commander. He nodded solemnly in acquiescence. "He would not be the first Grim to find a new calling," offered Ruuki Khorvis was growling under all of the scrutiny. "You may command my blades, Stonespire, but you do not own my dreams." Now that he return seemed accepted by The Grim, his usual thorniness was peeking through. "I did say that there do be terrors that steel is no ward against. For the Mandate, I will see to it that I do find a new weapon." "I do not command your dreams, no," advised Awatu, "But you will find that you do not command them either." Glancing upwards, the tauren was far away from his normal stony self. "The dream-realm of the spirits is... beyond us." Khorvis seemed unsure of these words, his freshly ruined eyepiece a testament to the power of nightmares. Kiannis had noticed the activity of Laznik and pointed to Somdot. "Investigate that imp," he ordered. Chumbus remained motionless while the imp eyed Somdot suspiciously. Noticing that Laznik was urinating in the bushes, Chumbus became frustrated and dismissed his minion. "Answer me this, Khorvis." Ruuki was growing philosophically bored. "Does the Mandate still call to your heart and soul?" The woman's question dug at the crux of the issue, with regards to the Mandate and the Inquisition. Turning to the new High Inquisitor, Khorvis retorted, "I could have gone running like a child to Orgrimmar and hid beneath Sylvanna's skirts. I do be here, woman. What else would you ask of me?" "Then whether you wiggle your fingers, wield a blade, or shoot a gun, you are still a Grim." The Reborn turned the instructive nature that Khorvis had instilled into her against the orc. "I think perhaps you should work among the Supplicants as you seek out what may be a new path for you to walk." The woman was immensely pleased with herself. The Lasher was having none of it. "I did be making macaroni art out of dwarf cocks when you did be a calf, 'High Inquisitor.' I do be no Supplicant." He looked at Awatu and spoke forcefully. "As you say, Commander. What do be my rank? If I am to be of any use to the front." Ruuki shruged one shoulder, a wicked smirk on her face as she looked to Awatu. "The decision of course is yours, Commander. I was merely offering my input." "Um... Dwarf cocks... that sounds fun!" A strange interjection from Somdot earned about as much surprise as Khorvis's usual rants. The bickering evoked a tired but satisfied sense of completion from Baal'themar. The talk of pointless ranks and titles finally bored the elf. "Good to have you back, brother. I'll leave you Grim to talk about... Grim matters." He patted Khorvis's shoulder and gave a brief salute to both the orc and Lilliana. Somdot did his best to reciprocate while Khorvis could only offer a grunted thanks. Kiannis refused to back down from Ruuki's suggestion. "And I was a man before you were but a twinkle in the eye of your father. Age is of no issue, Khorvis. I suggest you speak to the High Inquisitor with... some respect." The elf had a glint in his eye that hearkened back to their initial duel at the Crossroads, which ended in a special amount of agony for the ranger. "Your new High Inquisitor keeps a loose leash on her dogs, Commander." Khorvis bluntly ignored the ranger and stared straight at the tauren with a clenched jaw. Awatu grinned... just slightly. "But a harder pull can have lasting impressions." "A taste of the Lash did many Supplicants some good. My question still stands. If I am to be of use to the Mandate, what the felsucking Illidari tentacle do be my rank?!" Supplicant Chumbus pondered the meaning of "Felsucking Illidari Tentacle" while Awatu responded. "That depends. The only rank of consequence to yourself would be that of a Supplicant. You could remain a Harbinger, and it would be as if nothing had happened. But that seems... unjust." "I vote we shoot him in the knee," Kiannis posited. Ruuki reached out and smacked her subordinate upside his head for that inane suggestion. Whacked, Kiannis tenderly rubbed at his domepiece, looking to his left sullenly. Ruuki gave Kiannis a warning look that spoke volumes before returning her attention to Khorvis. The elf held his tongue, but kept that same unpleasant glare focused upon the orc. "You appear before us, a sobbing babe, and now you give an Irredeemable colorful language and attitude." Awatu was becoming more incensed than before. "If i were to recall, the -LAST- High Inquisitor to take that abuse would have been much more... outgoing with his punishments." Gritting his tusks, Khorvis said nothing to the contrary. "I do serve at the pleasure of the Commander..." "And now you speak of the Lash as if it is some prized relic. I recall the bite of the Lash, that wretched tool that you allowed it to become." Awatu leaned forward, his height becoming a tool of the interrogation. "So, tell me, what good are you to the Mandate if your first orders of subservience is resistance?" The entire back and forth of the evening brought Khorvis into his element. He relaxed his shoulders, shifting into the familiar rote of the Inquisition. "Supplicants do be taught that they do be nothing before the Mandate. We do be forged as weapons through the Inquisition. I do be a weapon of the Mandate." He held his stance wide, despite the bleeding of a few wounds from the last night's debacle. The blood seeped through his brawler's wraps. Awatu straightened himself. "Good answer. I do not believe you require remedial training... You are molded into a weapon. But you do require refinement. The Inquisition is a tool for determining who is and is not Grim. I believe you are Grim, therefore you should not be subjected to relearning what you already know. But something is needed..." He pondered for a moment. "Weapons dull and break. You require refinement, sharpening, and repair. You will remain a Harbinger, but you will seek the guidance of our Seers." Khorvis raised both eyebrows. His eyepatch dropped and revealed his ruined eyepiece. "The Seers?" "Duskheron, Kharzak, Daxxum, and Kharthak." Ruuki inclined her head in approval of the decision. Somdot picked up the cigar that Kiannis had given him, with only a few pulls taken from it, and sat next to Lilliana. He lit up. "Perhaps they can aid you with your... hauntings," Awatu explained. "And once you are able to sleep a full night's rest, I believe your penance will have been served." "A strange request," Khorvis pondered. "But I do value the wisdom of our Elders." Awatu looked around, his eyes focusing on distant objects. "You will see." "As you say, Commander. If it do be necessary for the Mandate, I will even tame the elements!" Khorvis laughed at what he considered a foolish boast, not recognizing the portent in his own words. Awatu did not share such mirth. At the same moment, another party of Grim came wandering through the courtyard, fresh from the bowels of the Undercity. Kurg and Fanyare, as different from each other as they were both fiercely Grim, approached the Inquisition. Qabian trailed the duo, observing, with Ul'rezaj in tandem. "Heya guys!" blurted out the Sunwalker Kurg. Somdot returned the greeting with a jovial wave. "What up, Brother!" Ruuki scowled at was she now considered fools. Kurg smiled wide at Somdot and popped him in the shoulder. Glancing over at Khorvis, almost unrecognizable without his armaments, and seeing the serious mood, he quieted down. Fanyare only wondered what pit the orc had crawled out of this time. Khorvis dropped his grin at Awatu's stoic face, remembering how close he came to losing his hide. The Commander continued with an edge of warning in his tone. "This shoulder also help teach you the importance of respect to the Irredeemables and Dreadweavers." The orc winced. He recalled the events of Tanaan and how he had nearly torn the neck out of that Sunwalker... but he pushed the memory away. Awatu watched Khorvis for a moment, then turned to Ruuki. "What other business does the Inquisition have this evening?" "I do feel whole again, to be back among my brothers and sisters. I..." The Lasher attempted to salvage his pride, but trailed off as the Grim's guildmaster moved on to other matters. Khorvis felt the dismissal, and it burned. He took his place in the ranks of the assembly alongside a smirking Qabian. "None else, Commander. Unless the Supplicants have something to add?" Ruuki inspected her charges, but none had any words of importance. "Then this night is sealed to the Mandate." Awatu nodded his head under the cacophony of "Peace Through Annihilation" that ululated from the throats of the fanatics. Khorvis made in the air the orcish rune for 'peace' as the assembly dispersed. Narrowing his eyes at the orc, Kiannis pressed a fist against his own chest in a casual salute. "It is good of you to return." Khorvis managed to grunt "Dabu, Dreadweaver," through a wall of phlegm. The elf nodded once, and departed through a portal of Qabian's making. Watching the Inquisitor fade away, Khorvis voiced his annoyance. "I do swear to the spirits, I should have shot out both of that cocky ranger's knees." "Perhaps the lash would be best turned into a leash, Khorvis." Fanyare goaded the old warrior. "You keep wandering off causing trouble." Khorvis responded with a deep growl, but reined in his temper in front of the Commander. Awatu was diplomatic. "If we shot the knees from everyone we did not like, the The Grim would be a bunch of cripples." Qabian grinned at this morbid pragmatism, but Ul'rezaj was less metaphorical. "De Grim be on fundamentally good terms wit' each otha, so fah as ahm concerned." The Commander was in agreement with the troll. "For the most part, but disagreements and squabbles arise at times." Wasting no time, Khorvis laid out the facts. "I do have two tasks before me. Speak with the Elders. But first, find some fresh bandages." He offered Awatu a respectful salute. "Commander." Awatu nodded. "Lasher." The orc once feared as High Inquisitor of The Grim, now demoted to the rank of Harbinger, slapped his hearthstone hard enough for his palm to sting. The way back to the Grim Halls pulled him through, to a home he had just fled and yet had not seen in many months.
  2. 1 point
    Qabian pulled the hood of his plain, dark robes down over his face as he leaned against the cleanest wall he could find in the lower section of the Apothecarium. He didn't want to be recognized, and his distaste for the locale made him even more tense than necessary. Three days past, the banshee had directed him to wait here for a shadow hunter. Waiting for some unknown troll likely to ruin everything he was planning only added to his irritation, but Qabian was determined to at least see this part through. The expected shadow hunter strolled in, carrying herself with a sort of tall formality, but her skin was drawn and wrinkled and her hair thin, showing age in a way Qabian rarely encountered in trolls. Skulls of varying sizes clicked where they hung around her robes at her hips and shoulders. She saw him immediately and nodded toward him, grinning around her tusks while somehow seeming serious. "Elf." Qabian bowed his hooded head slightly lower and stood forward from the wall by way of acknowledgment. "I heard you have a request for me." Qabian took a deep breath, managing not to sigh overtly, and held out a scroll from his heavy sleeve. The troll took the scroll from him, then unrolled the parchment and narrowed her eyes at the script. "Who wrote this?" "I did," Qabian said without looking up. "You know this tongue?" She sounded incredulous. "I do." "How--" "It's a long story," Qabian interrupted. "I have time." "I don't." The troll cocked a hip, then shrugged and tucked the scroll under one of the skulls at her waist. "What do you want?" "To forge a weapon," Qabian explained. "What weapon?" The troll's tone shifted to suspicion. "A weapon of collective will." "That needs more than this." She tapped the scroll. "I was told it does not, at least--" He stopped mid-explanation, waving one hand in a dismissive gesture. The mage finally looked up and pulled back his hood, revealing his missing ear. "The collective cannot be gathered in the usual capacity. I will do what it takes with what I have." The troll paused, then nodded, her fingers still on the scroll. "You want to make these words a weapon." "Yes," Qabian confirmed. "But this is, as I'm sure you understand, experimental. This will be the first of many." She shook her head. "No. Not from me, but a favor is owed. You will get your first... experiment." Qabian tensed his jaw, not willing to push the argument. With one result, perhaps he could reverse engineer the spellwork, unravel it until he understood it enough to continue on his own. "Fine." "I will need blood." Qabian flinched. Toying with his blood had a history of ending badly. "Whose?" The troll grinned, less serious, more devious. "Not yours. Yet. Dragon blood is best." Slowly, Qabian's lips stretched in a grin that mirrored the shadow hunter's before him. "That I can happily provide."
  3. 1 point
    "It's okay child, come..." I had found a wandering child in Dalaran. She wasn't really nervous or scared, just lost. "Come inside our shop, I'll give you something to eat and we'll find your parents." She looked famished and wasn't really speaking. I hadn't seen a child, let alone talked with one, in a long time. I took this as an opportunity to do so. "What's your name?" "Yana." "That's a nice name. And you are from Dalaran?" She looked at me but didn't answer. This was beginning to be more troublesome than I thought. "You aren't from Dalaran, are you?" She shook her head. "Oh that's alright. We'll find your parents." How was I going to do that exactly? "Were you with them, when you got here?" She shook her head again. "How did you get here?" She made round circle with her arms and then pointed through the middle of it. "You walked through a portal? From where?" "Stormwind. A nice man made a circle for me and I went through it." A mage portal... wonderful. "Did you ask him to do that?" She nodded. "Mhmm." I realized I was suddenly getting myself into more than I had bargained for. Just then Aethere walked into the shop from some errands. "Dari said business is great at Ledgermain. I was overdue for a drink with her. It's been too..." Aethere noticed the girl. "Who's this now? Saelene we can't offer our goods to young children." "Shhh. I know. She's lost." "Lost? Oh boy..." Aethere was... nervous around kids. He didn't like their unpredictability. I went back to questioning the girl. "Are your parents in Stormwind?" "I think they got boomed." "Boomed?" I realized she means they were killed. "Oh, I'm sorry Yana. Is that why you ran from Stormwind." "Mhmm." Adopting a child wasn't exactly something Aethere and I were ready for, let alone going to do. "Okay then. You can stay with us a few days until we figure this out for you. Okay sweety?" "Mhmm." Her little eyes were unique. She was a mage, but her clothing didn't indicate as such. It seemed like she had been raised a shaman. "Aethere, do you have any ideas about this?" "I don't mind her staying with us a few days. But we can't let her get attached. You know how I am around kids." "I know." "I'll talk to Dari. She's good with kids, and knows enough people to help us find some parents. Saelene..." "Yes?" "She's a mage Saelene. I know those eyes." I nodded. We knew how to spot those blessed with the Dalaran magic. There were not many blessed with it who weren't from Dalaran themselves.
  4. 1 point
    ATAVIST In the middle of a tranquil grove you might find yourself in a special place of peace and power. This branch has never been wielded. It grew as part of a limb re-grafted to an important tree in the Emerald Dream colloquially referred to as the Dreamseed. It's possible this living staff can serve as a formidable tool for anyone with the will to seek it, but it must also choose you. PART ONE Before the current onslaught of the Legion, the titans had met and fought demons for thousands of years. Certain methods were installed in their facilities to ward and protect them then and well on into the future. Items of importance were sealed away within these vaults. Time erodes all things. Over the centuries, mechanisms failed, magic wards weakened, and evil things came to know of the vaults' existence. They came from the deep places of the earth to plunder and steal. They overlooked and left abandoned a small, stunted tree. PART TWO The Keepers knew that one day even their carefully laid plans and contingencies might fail against the relentless corruption of the Old Gods. Imprisoned deep within Azeroth's unknowable depths, still the dark whispers and taint leeched through. In an attempt to thwart this eventuality, the Keepers employed organic measures in addition to their other systems, ones that could grow and adapt to this threat. One such experimental organism was a tree. It was planted deep within one of the vaults and, nurtured artificially, it sprouted and grew alone. The Keepers came up with many such redundancies. Some failed quickly, easily corrupted and flawed in their living design. For centuries, the tree remained. Even after it's support systems eventually faltered, the Dreamseed waited, forgotten in the darkness. PART THREE As Azeroth slowly molded to the vision set fort by the titans, the tasks of the Keepers grew fewer. One such task was to collect and place into storage some of their wondrous creations. Those that came to place small artifacts into protective custody often took their rest beneath the Dreamseed's boughs. The tree was a spot of life within an otherwise sterile environment. Very quickly, though, the tree became seen as just another artifact being preserved. As relics were placed in their hidden alcoves on pedestals all around it, the Dreamseed drew power. Ages later visitors came into the darkness for relics, to steal, or to relocate them. The tree was forgotten. Finally one druid came with them. Her name was Kerala Windchaser. PART FOUR Kerala was a tauren who never really fit in. Unlike studied druids, she was a wild thing. She obeyed urge and instinct whether or not anyone else understood or agreed with her. She was often in conflict, without and within. Kerala came from a violent history. Early in life she suffered as a captive of the Magram centaur. She spent her late childhood bound and starved. A survivor, she was eventually condemned like many others to isolation and darkness within opal mines. Even years after her rescue, Kerala dealt with a debilitating claustrophobia. Fear treated but never gone, the druid followed her friends into the deep halls of the vault. The Dreamseed provided comfort as it always had. PART FIVE The Legion has always pursued one singular goal. They drew together a specialized task force of demonlords. The Nala'quoreem were sent to Azeroth to exploit and by treacherous means soften the world's populace for impending invasion. Demonlord Xelkorak was one of six in the Quorum. At the end of it all, the Curse-tamer was the last to fall. She was a masterful tactician and stood ready to fight on a field of her own choosing. Many of Azeroth's finest mustered to fight. Kerala was one of them. PART SIX When the guilds of horde and alliance were busy fighting and putting down the Quorum's demons one by one, Kerala was not among them. Her attentions focused on a stunted tree, standing by itself in the darkness. She could not forget the comfort the Dreamseed had given her. The doors to the tree's vault failed to open to her. The druid entered another complex in other to bargain for access. Her request was granted. The stubborn tauren descended into the derelict vault one more time. It was there that she first met the demonlord Xelkorak. PART SEVEN Unknown to Kerala, the Dreamseed had already bestowed a gift to her the first time they made contact. A small fragile tendril separated from the tree and twined itself around the druid's wrist. When the demonlord swept through the complex, she could not find what she sought. Xelkorak took a cutting from the Dreamseed anyway. Kerala and her companion attacked the demonlord. Though they badly lost, Xelkorak left them alive to give more suffering later. She also left the plant. Kerala's companion gathered up the remnants of pottery and soil, and carried the druid away. The Dreamseed as it had been was dead. The only parts of it that survived existed in the cut branch saved that day, and the living bracelet Kerala wore. PART EIGHT Xelkorak met the guilds of Azeroth's fighters in a realm of her own making. Part twilight, part Dream, she had planned for this confrontation and was executing it without hindrance against the gathered mortals. They were losing. Deep in the Emerald Dream, the druid Kerala had planted and nurtured what she thought was merely a tree. The Dreamseed's true purpose was far greater. In the Dream, the tree rooted. It thrived! The renewed Dreamseed allowed Kerala to unravel and reverse the demonlord's magic structure. She redistributed power to the hopeless mortals. They triumphed. The Quorum was defeated. PART NINE The events of that confrontation had dire consequences. As the weak and shaken druid recovered from the powerful magics she had acted as conduit to, she quickly realized that though that battle had been won, she had a powerful new foe. One she couldn't fight. The choices in Kerala's past came back to haunt her as she succumbed to illness. Insidious, it was, consuming from within. Desperate, she distanced herself from friends and turned instead to the Cenarion botanist who had saved her life once before. Kethrenorean Forestwhisper had loved Kerala from the moment he met her. After her rejection, and in her absence, he had grown hostile and mean. Her returned presence was like a light in the darkness. PART TEN Though Kerala was resourceful and clever, her efforts to stall the advancement of the sickness cursing her failed. Keth worked and researched and tested and he too found no cure. They were running out of time and options. It was an old Magram wise man who sent them to Maraudon. If any answers were to be found, perhaps it could be within those caverns. Keth breached the holy tomb and there he found a place where they could safely sleep. They Dreamed. Kerala's body slowed in deep hibernation. She took the untrained Keth with her. He was supposed to learn, then leave the Dream and continue searching for a cure while she slept. That, at least, was what was planned. PART ELEVEN Kerala was not able to teach Keth how to navigate the Dream. She herself was untrained, and lacked the skills of a tutor. She led him to the Dreamseed in the hopes that the tree would help him as it had once guided her. Keth found the branch that had once been Kerala's living bracelet. As he studied the Dream and improved his abilities, Keth also guided the growth of the branch into a staff, it's reaching stems thrown back like falcon's wings. He intended it as a gift for his love. Kerala died before Keth learned to leave the Dream. The living staff remains as the Dreamseed once did, abandoned and waiting to fulfill an unknown potential. This contest entry has been written in the style of artifact research currently in the game. Please stay tuned for updates twice a week, on Sundays and Tuesdays. The last entry will occur Tuesday, February 28th, which is the contest deadline.
  5. 1 point
    "Yana, this is Dari. She's my mom." Dari wasn't my biological mother, she had taken it upon herself to be my guardian while I grew up in Dalaran. Yana didn't need to know that. Yana smiled. "Hello there Yana. I hear your parents aren't here. We are going to find you some parents, young one." Dari's voice was perfectly sweet and loving. "Thank... you." Little Yana seemed equally as polite and sweet. "How old do you think she is Dari?" Her age was difficult to tell. She could be twelve as far as I could tell. "I'd say eight or so. About the age when the magic starts to manifest." "It is as I feared then. Her magic killed her parents and lead her to Dalaran." Dari nodded. She was clearly gifted, and soon to be adopted. "Aethere, you and Saelene found her. This is not a mistake. She was drawn to the shop's magic. I think you are going to have to take care of her and train her for some time." I nodded, reluctantly. Dari meant it, I wasn't going to argue. "Look at it as a challenge, Aethere. You've taught many mages the basics, why should she be any different?" "I know. I will be able to. It's not the training I'm worried about. It's the attachment." Dari nodded. "You're worried about your gravity. Hrmmm." I had a way of pulling things into my circle which would then never leave. "I can't train her forever Dari. She needs to move on from us. The shop is too danger..." "I know. Just trust me. Train her for the next month, and we'll figure it out after that." "Can you be a mother to her? Or find someone who can?" "I know just the woman."
  6. 1 point
    If there was anything known among the peers of Granthas Wyrmfist, it was that he was a piss poor healer. It had been a fact of life for as long as as anyone could remember, even in his earliest days in service to the Order. The Light answered him with a ready fury when it meant violence or the shielding of another, but dwindled to naught but a trickle when it came to aiding the sick and the wounded. His bandages had always proved to be too thick or too tight, and his stitching both clumsy and often ugly. After the Second War he had almost always been assigned a medic whilst working in the field to cope with this glaring weakness, a decision that had actually served him and those he led well. Now though, Granthas was not in the field. The old paladin had pushed past sixty in recent years, and had been forced from active duty after the campaign in Northrend. He moved too slowly now in the heavy plate his order wore, and his body was no longer up to the rough duties of war after so many years of service. His knees rapidly became a swollen mess after any amount of marching, and any time his shield arm took a blow he could feel the bones in his shoulder cry out in protest. There was some joy in having survived as long as he had, and being able to teach the younger generations how to fight and wield the Light properly filled the old dog with hope and pride. There were moments though, like his current task, that filled him with little more than dread. The paladin trudged stoically behind his horse, the litter he had managed to strap to the beast's saddle heavy in his hands. Even with the influence of the Argent Crusade and the Silver Hand, the Plaguelands were no place for the unarmored and the wounded. Granthas had little choice in the matter though, he was not about to abandon his charge. The sin'dorei in front of him lay unconscious, a pained expression on his features. The male was no paladin, and if Granthas was going to hedge any bets, not even a warrior any longer. Aside from the fever flushed cheeks he was deathly pale, and it had taken all of the old dog's might just to keep him in that state for their journey. Now his only real protection was a thick fur cloak, and the paladin knew how well that would work. To focus on his task, Granthas had fallen into the citadel of his mind. There, he could block out the pain on his weary and aching frame. There, he could insure the pair would make it to Light's Hope and that his work would finish. The paladin focused on the movement of his breathing, keeping a familiar rhythm as he sucked air into his lungs and then pushed it back out. It wasn't much, but it was enough. At least, it served until interrupted. Wyrmfist's attention was drawn upwards by the canter of pounding foot on stone, drawing closer from the direction he was heading. When he picked out the source, the pace of the old warrior and his horse slowed to a halt. "Instructor!" shouted a heavily accented voice. The rider stopped his elekk short of Granthas and his burden, leaping down from his mount with a heavy thud. "You were expected hours past, what has happened?" The draenei vindicator approached slowly, concern etched onto his features. "I found a wayward lamb while I was out, Ahkarn. I've no intention of letting him fade on me." The timeworn paladin set his end of the litter down softly so that he could speak freely, but launched into a coughing fit when he stood back upright. "You should have informed us my friend, I would have rode out immediately had I known." Ahkarn continued his approach, softly chiding as he moved around the horse and shifted his attention to the wounded elf. "I don't take the blasted stone when I go fishing," Granthas shot back with an agitated look, "I like to have a few hours a week where there's no one complaining or asking me for instruction." The words drew a frown from the draenei, but his inspection of the old man's burden did not halt. The vindicator knelt down next to the elf, cautiously lifting up the cloak to inspect what exactly was amiss with the dark haired figure. If it was possible, the elf looked even worse beneath. The scale armor he wore had been scorched by fel fire, and if the torn scales were any indication, something had violently removed his right leg recently. The wound had been mended as best a healer could manage, but the scar was fresh and the recent wound was inflamed. "You found this man...fishing?" Ahkarn asked skeptically, concern and uncertainty in his voice. "No, I found him in a brothel out here in the Plaguelands Ahkarn." The old dog's voice was testy, anxious to get going again as the cloak was tucked back around his charge. "There is no need for anger, Granth..." The vindicator paused, and his brows furrowed as he inspected the sin'dorei's face. "...wait. I know this elf, or at least his face." "That makes two of us." Granthas' face was stony as he spoke, not reacting to the to the surprised turn from his draenei peer. "He is not a follower of the Light, Granthas, he is not even a Blood Knight. He is a ranger." The protests fell on deaf ears however, as the old paladin crossed his arms over his chest. "I know what he is, Vindicator. I'm taking him to Light's Hope whether you like it or not. I owe the bastard too much to do anything else." It was the use of his title that softened the draenei, forcing a shake of his head as the huge male stood and then moved to unhitch the relatively light burden from Granthas' horse. "I only remember his face from the Shattered Sun," Ahkarn said, glancing up to see the wizened warrior working to free the other side of the elf's litter. "You did not work with the Offensive, how and what do you know of him?" "His name is...or was Kreyen Streamsong," Granthas said, angry concern finally bleeding into his tone, "and his blasted arrows saved me from orc blades twice. Once at Dun Algaz, and again at Lordaeron." "Lordaeron?" the powerful Draenei asked, quizzical as he got his arms beneath the broken elf. There was a long moment before understanding dawned on him. "The Second War? But he seems young...for an elf." Gingerly, Ahkarn began to place the litter behind his saddle and secure the elekk to its new burden. "What does it matter? I'm vouching for him Ahkarn, just get him to Light's Hope." Granthas wore a stoic grimace as the draenei nodded in his direction, then turned to mount his elekk. "Stick him to my quarters, and just put him on the spare bed while I find Baressa. Hopefully she can put things aside long enough to keep him alive." As the weary man moved to mount his own steed, he either managed to miss Ahkarn's concerned gaze or ignored it entirely. Granthas knew the quel'dorei priestess was going to be testy about this one no matter what he did, but she owed the battle worn paladin favors. Hopefully, it would be enough.
  7. 1 point
    Qabian sat backwards in his desk chair, arms folded on top of the chair back, chin resting on his wrists, and glared at the black panther cub curled up asleep on his bed. It was a curious thing. He'd had a "pet" once before, and it wasn't in childhood. He had a blue dragon whelp that needed regular feeding or it had fainting spells and crapped everywhere, but this thing was tidy and while it bothered him whenever he was around the apartment, acted as though it owned the place, and ate anything edible that ever passed into its vicinity, it didn't seem stressed when the mage left it alone most of the time, and it hadn't changed the smell of the place. He wondered if it had found a way out of the apartment and stalked the sewers for rats while he was gone, but if that's what it was doing, it always returned before Qabian did. It almost seemed more likely that it just wasn't quite real. Qabian narrowed his eyes. "I'm going to dissect you," he muttered in the animal's general direction. It kept sleeping. He considered whether he should tell any Grim about this at all. It was their words that created this thing, technically, their words and his interference. But he was no longer playing the silly game of pretending he was new to the organization. He no longer reported to anyone, and short of someone with a title demanding to know what had come of his little project, there was no reason to keep anyone informed. It seemed everyone had forgotten or had never cared in the first place, and that was for the best. "I'm going to inject mana into your veins, then slice you up into little pieces." The cub rolled over in its sleep with a mrr. Qabian raised an eyebrow. "Then I'm going to set you on fire." A high pitched nose whistle started up from the indistinguishable black lump of fur. "As long as we're both agreed."
  8. 1 point
    Baal’themar led Fayleah through the portal in Dalaran to Silvermoon, the sudden jolt of being transported made him feel slightly off balance, but once they started walking again the feeling passed. Fayleah leans over to him and whispers. “So, who is the target?” Baal’themar looked around to see if anyone was within earshot. “Welean Darkbane, a beast given a uniform and power. A brute in blood knight armor.” Baal’themar gripped his blade hilt. “Very quick to anger and more than willing to beat someone to death just for the fun of seeing fresh blood on his knuckles.” Fayleah looked at Baal’themar she does not fail to see their similarities... Baal’themar and this Welean he was describing... she give Baal’themar a long look, then she just nodded and opted to say nothing. She didn’t want to hurt his feelings. The two walked into murder row and slipped into the shadows. Baal’themar pointed to a large Blood Knight as he walked into the bar. “He will drink himself blind in there and then find a woman to bed, if they are lucky he will pass out before he gets violent.” Once out of sight of the guards Baal’themar took her along the rooftops to the spot he had picked out, a small ledge that overlooked an alleyway a short distance from a loud bar. He pulled a set of face masks from his pack and set them out. “Have a look in that bag” Baal’themar nodded toward a large duffle bag about the size of a man. Fayleah moved to the bag and opened it. Inside the thick canvas bag was; a skimp outfit, some rope and a gag. She looked over the clothes, holding them up… it was clearly a woman’s ‘dress’. She turned to him and gave him a sly grin. “You’ll look stunning in this.” He looked at her holding the ‘dress’ and continued setting up equipment. “You’re bait, you need to look the part. Put that on and he’ll want to eat you up.” He grinned. "This is just a ploy to get me unarmed and in this dress?" she taunted. Baal’themar slowly looked Fayleah up and down. “It can be both.” He said with a smile. He turned to allow her to get changed while he got the poison ready to knock out their target, he pulled out two gnarled roots from his herb kit and turned to Fayleah. Baal’themar tilted his head and watched as she wiggled her hips into the dress, the fabric clung tight to her stunning curves. The clothes slowly slithered up her body with each wiggle of her hips, he lost track of time as he watched. She slowly turned to face him, the dress was tight and looked almost like it was painted on her skin the fabric was so thin. He grinned and took her in. “Woah.” He remarked with a stupid look on his face. Fayleah raised an eyebrow and struck a suggestive pose, she carefully bent down to retrieve the masquerade mask to replace her goggles and complete the outfit. "You going to be able to stay focused?" She straightened up and slowly flipped her hair back, looking much too pleased with herself. “Yes… no. shut up.” He said with a grin, he remembered the roots in his hand. “Oh uh, you need to chew this up and swallow the pulp, it’s going to taste very bitter but you need to keep it down.” He handed her one of the roots. “The poison to knock this guy out is a powder, this root will counteract the poisons effects if you breathe it in.” he popped the root into his mouth and chewed hard pulping the plant and swallowing it down. Fayleah chomped down on the root and chuckled to herself. “You could use this to sweeten up Dari’s coffee.” She said as she swallowed the pulp and got ready for the ambush. Baal’themar handed her a small pouch with a powder in it. “All you need to do is draw him down the alley and blow this in his face, I’ll be waiting to take his body out of the city.” He took a look at her again. “If you need help just call for me.” he grinned. “And I’ll come save the destressed damsel.” Baal’themar laughed at the thought. "If it doesn't work I will just slam his face into the side of a building and try not to kill him" she said with a deadpan look before she slowly grinned at him, giving him a firm punch in the arm. “Just, be careful.” He knew she could easily kill Welean, but he still worried. Fayleah touched his arm and gave him a quick kiss before jumping down to the alleyway below and getting herself set up. Welean staggered out of the bar one of his knuckle split from a fight inside, the sting of it slowly faded as he drunk more wine. The fight had got his blood up and he wanted to find something soft to plow. He scanned the area across the street, normally full of whores waiting to snatch up drunk guards and soldiers. Tonight he found his usual hunting ground empty. He growled and wandered down the walkway toward another hot spot for night workers. Fayleah spotted her target, he swayed with each step. Head full of drink, he’ll take one look as this dress and not think twice about following me. She smiled at the thought. Baal planned this well, now to take our prize. Fayleah thought he walked past. “Hey, handsome… you look lonely.” She said with a slight purr, trying her best to draw him to her. Welean turned to see her, his mind raced to lewd thoughts and he stumbled toward her. Fayleah grinned and slowly walked back deeper into the alley. “Don’t be shy *hic* girl, I’ll show you a real good time. Not like the others.” Welean slurred. She continued walking slowly back. “You want me big boy? You have to come and get me” she purred back at him as he neared the end of the alley. Welean smiled thinking he had her cornered. “Nowhere to go now. Guess you’re all mine.” He said as he leaned over her, his breath thick with the stink of wine. Fayleah looked up at him and smiled, taking the small pouch in her hand. “Guess again.” She said as she blew the powder into his face. The small cloud of poison slithered into Welean’s lungs as he gasped, the effects kicked in quickly. The man fell to his knees as his body started to lose its’ connection to his brain. His sight faded and before he was left to fall into unconsciousness was Fayleah smiling down at him. The three arrived at the Cabin in the dead of night, the other guests had fallen asleep or were otherwise not in a place to watch as Fayleah and Baal’themar returned with their prey. They made their way down to the basement and to Baal’themars workshop. Baal’themar placed the unconscious man a large wooden table and strapped him down. Baal’themar walked to the long steel work bench next to the table and grabbed a sharp knife. “I’ll remove his armour, could you get my medical kit from the bathroom?” he smiled at Fayleah. Fayleah smiled and almost skipped off. “Yes, sir!” she vanished down one of the hallways and was out or sight. Baal’themar looked down at the man strapped onto the table. “We are going to have a good time… This has been a long time coming.” He removed the man’s armour, cutting leather straps and dropping the plate on the ground with a loud crash. Baal’themar had the man naked on the table when Fayleah returned with the medical kit, she had gotten changed out of her thin dress and into a light shirt and pants, something more suited for the work to come. Baal’themar took the medical kit from her and started setting out strange vials and herbs on the work bench. “These will stop him from dying of shock.” He grinned at Fayleah. “I hope you have your knife with you?” "Of course." she flicked out her skinning knife. "Can't let you have all the fun!" Fayleah grinned and stood beside Baal’themar. “Good, Remove the skin from this leg.” He stepped back and watched as Fayleah worked. Fayleah grinned and started to slice into Welean’s flesh, the man groans and slowly comes to consciousness at first he doesn’t know what is going on, his eyes blink and search the room, but he is quickly awoken as Fayleah slides the blade under the flesh of his leg and starts slowly slicing down to his foot, his shin bleeding freely. “Arrgh! What the fuck?!” Welean roared as the woman slowly skinned his leg. “Shhh Welean.” Baal’themar said as he placed his large hand on the man’s forehead. “You are going to be here a long time, let’s not start screaming so soon.” Fayleah continued slicing into Welean’s leg, she had sliced a circle below his knee and another just above his ankle, she would remove the skin in one large sheet, she held the flesh and slowly dragged the tip of her blade along his shin to start, once she had a firm grasp on his flesh she used the length of the blade to part the skin from the flesh. Welean screamed and thrashed against the restraints that bound him to the table, his strength and anger useless as Fayleah worked. Baal’themar watched Fayleah finish up with Welean’s leg, she carefully placed the skin on the workbench then turns to start on his thigh. Welean had stopped screaming, the man had gone limp in his bindings. “The leg will do for now.” Baal’themar reached out to touch Fayleah only to have her growl at him and hit away his hand. Fayleah’s face was twisted into a cruel grin, she lunged at Baal’themar as something deep within her snapped, fel-energy burned along her tattoos as her body started to grow in strength and size. Baal’themar was caught completely off guard, her sudden strength and aggression overwhelmed him and he toppled backward. He landed hard his head hit the cold stone with a solid thud, his vision slightly blurred, he watched Fayleah lose control over the demonic power within her. She stood over him her chest heaving with excitement, she watched him like a fox might watch a chicken. Baal’themar groaned and propped himself up on his elbow. “Damn it Fayleah, we need him alive. If you skin him too much he will die of shock.” He carefully got up and felt the back of his head, wet hair and warm blood met his fingers. He held his head and grabbed a medical cloth, the cloth was soaked in powerful herbs and balms. Baal’themar covered Welean’s leg with the cloth, the man had passed out. “What’s gotten you so worked up?” He turned to see Fayleah inspecting him, her demonic eyes slowly working their way over his body. She took a large step toward him and pinned him between the table and her, she stood taller than him and Baal'themar was forced to look up at her. Fayleah radiated heat from her copper skin, something inside him urged him to embrace her fel-energy. She moved close to him, her eyes lost in something primal and raw. “I want you” she purred in his ear, her voice made him weak. Baal’themar didn’t fight as the two slowly moved down to the floor.
  9. 1 point
    Days later, Baressa strode out of the chapel and into the yard. In spite of the cold, the sun shone down brightly onto the plague choked earth. Younger recruits hefted supplies off of a caravan of wagons that had arrived that morning, and the usual mix of adventurers and craftsmen mingled towards the entrance of the compound. The freshest recruits trained in a small ring nearby, led by a patient looking Granthas. It took the hawk-eyed woman a few moments to find at least one of the things she was looking for in the milieu, a firey haired half-elf of average build. The priestess approached quickly, trying to spot the other half of her quarry as she moved. "Where is he?" she asked as she drew up behind the other woman. The priestess's question received only a glance at first, fel-tainted eyes registering the source of the question before the athletically built woman raised a hand and pointed towards what remained of a tree stump. The dark haired elf Granthas had pulled from the river sat in front of it reading, seemingly uninterested in the swordplay that took place within the ring of fences before him. With Baressa's help, in the few days that had passed since is arrival the elf made something of a remarkable physical recovery. "Has there been any change?" "No," the half-elf said with a terse shrug. "Today he decided he wanted to do some reading, but otherwise he seems fine." "I meant his memory, Teliere." Though impatience showed quickly on the priestess's face, there was a resigned element to the severity of her expression. This was not an attitude that she was foreign to. "One would think I would have sent a runner, had there been any change there Mother," the warrior woman shot back with wry glance. Teliere didn't smile, but enough amusement glittered in her eyes to suffice for one. The gentle ribbing only seemed to irritate the quel'dorei further, but the setting of Baressa's jaw only seeming to entertain the half-elf further. As the younger of the pair turned her attention back to Granthas' instruction in the ring, the elder's focus remained on her patient. "What is he reading?" Baressa asked after a long moment. "History." Teliere's tongue slathered the word with disapproval, though her lack of immediate elaboration did not immediately establish why. "History of what?" The priestess's tone drew even shorter, quickly growing tired of her daughter's reticence to provide any substantial amount of information. "The Order." Teliere turned to look at Baressa again at the statement, "I've taken him to the library twice today, and whenever I'm near he peppers me with questions. I don't care about the Scarlets or how they operated, much less the time to explain how the Argent Crusade was structured. What matters is the fight in front of us now, and how we deal with it." "Wait, why would he be interested in the history of the Silver Hand?" Baressa asked, seeming almost to be confused by the statement. "Something about trying to orient himself." Teliere offered with a shrug and a wave of her hand at her explanation, not seeming to care. "He said that there was something about Wyrmfist he felt he could trust, but the rest of us seemed...'a bit off in the head'." Irritation marred the half-elf's features then, her suddenly striking an eerie resemblance to her mother. "Prick." "I did warn you about him," the priestess said, returning her daughter's once wry look with a smile that brightened her features. Baressa's attention shifted back to the crippled elf then, and found that he was no longer reading. At some point in their conversation, Kreyen had taken notice of her arrival begun to watch the pair talk. Upon being noticed, a cheeky smile drew across his lips. It faded quickly with a shake of his head, and the ranger's eyes dropped back to his book. "He wasn't always the most talkative in the past, but he also isn't particularly guarded about his opinions. Prying at him might not get the answers you're looking for." "You're saying his honesty is a problem?" Teliere asked incredulously. "It annoyed you, didn't it?" Baressa didn't wait for a response from her daughter, and instead began to stride over to the cripple herself. Kreyen struck a strange sort of air in the squire's clothes, one the priestess wasn't sure exactly what to make of. The warm wool clothing wasn't what she would have called his style during the war, and he had hardly been a follower of the Light. Still, whether it was not knowing anything else, a preternatural comfort with himself, or some other obscure reason the outfit seemed strangely fitting. "Miss Dawnwake," he said in greeting, taking note of her approach despite his focus on the book. "Time for another round of treatment?" "Am I not allowed simply to check on my patients, Kreyen?" The question drew the hunter's attention, one singed eyebrow arching upwards curiously. "I wouldn't presume to know what you're allowed to do," he said carefully, "but your presence does seem to line up with a peculiarly specific set of circumstances. If I didn't know any better I'd say you were avoiding me otherwise. I still think I must have done something to you before all of this...nonsense." He drew a note card from behind the book's cover as he queried the priestess, sliding it in between the open pages and then sealing the book shut with a soft pop. "This again," Baressa said with an exasperated sigh. She moved quietly for his crutches, picking them up and standing them to either side of him to grip. "Fine, if it will get you to drop it...you got us both into a great deal of trouble some time ago, and if I'm honest I had hoped never to see you again." Baressa watched as confusion set across the injured elf's features, weathering the discerning gaze he cast without retort. "Would it help if I apologized?" he asked in an uncertain voice, reaching out for the crutches and starting to hoist himself up with a grunt. The effort failed initially, drawing a look of supreme frustration from him before he attempted again. The second time, he did not fail. "How can you apologize if you don't even know what you did?" the priestess asked dryly. She waited patiently until the other elf was fully on his feet, stepping away while she watched for him to be ready to follow. "As sincerely as possible, I suppose." Kreyen required a moment to catch his breath as he stood, and then a while longer to adjust his grip to accommodate the book he carried as well. "Besides, if you're rooting around in my head for how to fix me, it seems prudent to make sure you aren't cross with me." Seeming sufficiently recovered by that point, he began to move after the quel'dorei slowly. "It doesn't do an apology much justice if you have ulterior motives behind offering it," Baressa said dryly. "Any apology is going to have an ulterior motive, Miss Dawnwake," Kreyen shot back quickly. "Alleviating guilt is just as much one as not wanting someone to scramble your mind up. I don't see any reason why it's bad to want to do both, much less be honest about it." He caught up to the other elf rather quickly, though it took some effort to do so. "Still, omitting such details might be prudent if you actually want their forgiveness." The priestess's gaze was even as she spoke, giving a subtle nod to Teliere as they passed the half-elf and drawing the injured male's guardian into the procession. "Maybe," Kreyen said thoughtfully, "But at this point it's not like I have a lot to lose either way. I've only got one leg, and all of the things I know about myself are things you and Granthas are telling me. There's not much point in beating around the bush." "You don't trust us?" Teliere asked, interjecting herself into the conversation. "I don't know. I don't think you're trying to hurt me, anyway." The crippled elf cast an uncertain glance at his half-elf caretaker then. "Looking at it, the Silver Hand has a message that makes sense, but you lot are awful cranky." His words drew a shrug from the young woman, but no reaction at all from her mother. Sighing through his nose, Kreyen followed them back into the chapel. For the time being, all he could do was follow his gut.
  10. 1 point
    The quarters of Granthas Wyrmfist were spartan. The man had never married, and hadn't ever been one to keep much in the way of trophies. Only a few bookshelves were scattered about the place, with large rugs covering most of the floor space. The small room the battered sin'dorei had been placed in was small, and even only with the presence of a small bed and rocking chair the room felt cramped with the three adults lurking inside. Ahkarn stood in the doorway watching, arms crossed over his chest as Granthas and the priestess stripped the ranger of his armor and tried to pin down the unconscious elf's condition. "I swear he hasn't seriously upgraded his armor in decades," Granthas complained absently, finally managing to unlatch and remove the scale shirt that covered his former comrade. At his side was Baressa. The sleight elf woman had her hair up in a tight business-like bun and wore a scowl that could have curdled milk. Were it not for the expression she would have been attractive even by elf standards, even missing half of her left ear. "Do be quiet Wyrmfist," she growled, and her narrowed gaze cast a scrutinizing gaze over what was left of the ranger's right leg. The limb truncated approximately three quarters of the way down his thigh, and had either been clean or cleaned up enough already. Someone had already done the stitching and applied the subsequent healing to seal the wound, but by the swelling and bruising it couldn't have occurred more than few days past. The fact only seemed to increase her ire. "By the Light," the aged paladin muttered, finally able to inspect Kreyen's torso for damage. A ragged scar ran horizontally along his chest, about six inches long and more than half an inch wide. "What did that?" "It doesn't matter," Baressa said coldly, "It's long since healed. Focus Granthas, is there anything else wrong with him?" The priestess summoned two spheres of light to the palms of her hands, bringing them to the end of the ranger's leg before merging them together. The spheres bubbled outward as they connected, enveloping the wound in a dome of healing energy. "Has he even been wounded otherwise?" Granthas asked, standing back and looking skeptically at the wounded elf. Aside from the nasty looking scar, the only new mark on the ranger was a small tattoo on the inside of his left forearm. It appeared to be a depiction of a stone ring, with earth and a strange looking seed in its center. "Did he retire?" "Look at him," Baressa said testily, gesturing in the unconscious male's general direction. "Does that look like the body of someone who isn't physically active?" Being forced to make the observation again seemed to irritate the healer, and the flush of her cheeks seemed to cow her human companion a little. "Or look at his right hand. The ring and middle fingers are still calloused from work with a bowstring." "Is it just the leg then? That seems to have been healed." Granthas stepped away from the bedside then, tossing what was left of Kreyen's armor into a heap. The paladin moved to lean against the wall then, watching like Ahkarn as Baressa worked. "It's a mix," the priestess said quietly, her voice stern but no longer reproaching. She left the dome over his leg and shifted her attention to his chest, flicking her wrist and summoning forth a white disk of holy energy. Moving the spell over the ranger's chest, Baressa took a moment to catch her breath and calm down as the diagnostic magic set to work on her patient. "Dehydration, blood loss, and exhaustion seem to be the more recent culprits. He shouldn't even be on his feet even with significant healing efforts, his leg couldn't have been lost more than two weeks past." She paused then, cocking her head to the side as something caught her attention. "There's something else." "Infection?" Ahkarn asked, speaking for the first time since the priestess had arrived. The word drew the bearded paladin's attention and a furrowed brow, it was not what he wanted to hear, even with Baressa present. "No," she said quickly, "It's...almost like a parasite..." Her irritation faded as she spoke, shifting abruptly to curiosity as the her hand and the hovering disk beneath it drifted towards Kreyen's face. "No...it isn't hurting him, it's just..." Baressa leaned closer as her curiosity intensified, the disk swirling as it gave off a subtle pulse. A shriek filled the room the instant the disk made contact with the ranger's face, both it and the dome at his leg shattering and fading into motes of dust as the quel'dorei priestess leaped away from the body. "Baressa!" Granthas shouted, catching the priestess as she flew away from the bed, blinking rapidly and swiping at her own face as though they were covered in cobwebs. Ahkarn drew upright at the sight, concern etched onto his features as the old paladin tried to calm the healer down. "Baressa, what's wrong? What happened?" A gibbering mess, it took a slap from Granthas before she was torn from the shock of whatever she'd encountered. When her eyes refocused, they first showed recognition and then shortly after filled with rage. She returned the flushed mark she bore on her cheek in kind, though with enough extra force to make the vindicator wince. "Do not ever touch me like that again Granthas Wyrmfist," she said icily, her eyes displaying an unspoken promise of what she would do if he did not heed the words. "What happened?" Ahkarn asked, paying little mind to Granthas or the hand the instructor had brought to his face to rub the injury. "Whatever he has working inside him has a hold on his mind," the priestess said shakily. "When I tried to look closer at it..." Baressa struggled for the words, turning to look at the ranger quietly, "...it was like a bear protecting her cub." She frowned, seeming to come back to her senses as Granthas shot Ahkarn a disgruntled look over her shoulder. "I can work with the injuries and weaknesses he has, but I do not know what effects it is having on his mind. Hopefully he can tell us when he comes to." "You don't mind looking after him?" Wyrmfist asked, skeptical. "I will set aside my past differences with your ranger friend aside for now," she said carefully, shooting a steely look of agitation at the man as she moved back towards the bed. "But once he is on his feet, you can find someone else to look after him." Baressa turned her attention back to the broken elf then, starting to reconstruct the dome of energy around his wounded leg once more. "Go look after your charges, Instructor." "Do you need anything?" The paladin asked, collecting himself to leave as Ahkarn moved away from the door and into the main room of the apartment. "I will be fine until after you give your lessons," she said quietly, "Go." The response drew a frown across the old man's features, hardly obscured by the bushy beard that covered his mouth. Granthas didn't argue however, nodding before following his draenei companion out. As gruff as the quel'dorei could be, he knew it was at least partially a mask. Real concern had lingered behind the anger, for someone who'd once been more than just a comrade in arms. The human set his face in its usual stoic gaze as he left, trying not to worry about what lay ahead.